Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas with my niece...

{Christmas morning}

On Christmas morning Bryant's family came over for brunch at our house.  It's obvious when looking through the pictures who the center of attention was!  This was the first Christmas my niece was able to open her own presents and lead puppy dog around the house.  It's humorous to watch the difference between boys and girls' gifts.  From camo pants to flowered dresses and army helmets to baby dolls, it's quite clear what puts on a smile on their face!  And you don't need night vision goggles to see that... although I know two little boys who are probably using theirs as we speak.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas with my nephews...

{Christmas Eve}

We had a wonderful Christmas this year and enjoyed having my sister, brother-in-law and two nephews in for a visit.  Christmas Eve we all went to the evening service at church and then gathered at my parents' house for a delicious meal.  There were presents galore and it was a fun night of opening our gifts one at a time or for the boys two or three at a time.  Everyone met on Christmas for a matinee and then came to our house for dinner.  We had a surprise guest for the boys... one of Bryant's friends is a Germantown Police Officer and he came by just in time to have dinner with us.  What a fun night!  You can imagine the hilarious conversation and questions that were asked at the dinner table.  My favorite was when Max said, "Josh, Josh, I think I heard your radio go off.  You better check that."

{three sisters}

{opening army helmets from mom and dad}

 {Officer Josh and Bo}

{The pilot and co-pilot}

{wearing Uncle Bryant's flight suit}

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twelve Gifts of Christmas: the second through twelfth gift

Giving Twelve Gifts of Christmas this month was fun and challenging at the same time.  I spent the season reflecting on what it means to give, what makes a good gift and how much we should give. There were a few laughs too when I wanted to give our doorman in San Francisco cupcakes and then realized he probably was just going to throw them away.  Would you eat something from a stranger... especially a tourist??  And it was harder than I thought to give 12 gifts to complete strangers.  I think next year I will include acquaintances like my friends over at the nail salon, hair studio and my favorite dry cleaners. Here's a rundown of this year's Twelve Gifts of Christmas...

the first gift... mini Starbucks
the second gift... an unexpected tip
the third, fourth & fifth gift... One Year Chronological Bibles 
the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh & twelfth gift... stockings filled with surprises 

We give because He gave first.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

It's always fun to exchange baked goods for the Holidays.  This year I made Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes for my Christmas work party.  I almost resorted to buying this year's gift but I'm glad I found the time for these little delights.  I made Martha Stewart's One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes and was pleased with how well they turned out versus how easy the recipe was.   I knew from past experience that safflower oil makes a moist chocolate cake {just note a little goes a long way}!  For the icing, I was determined to find a recipe that does not use cream cheese.  I prefer a fluffy, creamier peanut butter icing that's not weighed down.  This Peanut Butter Icing seemed to have winner ingredients and it was confirmed by my mother telling me it was the best peanut butter frosting she had ever had!  I topped them off with Reese's Minis and packed them in with green paper shreds.  These turned out so well I'll probably remake them next week for the neighbors.  See last year's holiday work gifts here and neighbor gifts here.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Twelve Gifts of Christmas: the first gift

{short caramel apple spices}

The only disappointment about the holidays is when you find yourself fighting off the seasonal cold (and if you're real unlucky, the flu).  The month of December is too short to be spent staying inside and resting...  like I have been the past two days.  It makes me feel like I'm missing out on all the festivities.  I wanted to spend the weekend buying presents for loved ones and singing Christmas carols at church, but instead I made a visit to the local minor medical office.  I really appreciate that they are open on rainy Sundays so I brought a little holiday cheer with me to show my appreciation.  And then I had the idea... why not give more of these unexpected gifts during the Christmas season?  As I'm out this month there will be plenty of opportunities to take an extra five minutes and think of others.  A cup of coffee is not expensive but the act of kindness is priceless.  What better time of year to share the love of Christ with a lost world?  Join me by giving twelve gifts this Christmas to a complete stranger and either blog about it or leave a comment sharing your story. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Burlap Table Runner

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving day and for the first time in nine years of marriage I spent the remainder of the holiday weekend decorating for Christmas.  Every year I travel to Nashville the week after Thanksgiving for a short business trip.  And this year I'm still pinching myself that when I come home in three days my house will be warm, bright and merry {big pat on the back}.  I'm really pleased how my DIY burlap runner for my dining room table turned out.  I usually omit a table runner since I can never find one I like, but this year I improvised and bought two yards of burlap from Hobby Lobby.  I think the burlap adds just the right amount of warmth to the table without compromising the rustic, natural feel of the garland.

{cut the ends of the burlap with pinking shears to reduce fraying}

{gather the ends and tie with a 4" wired ribbon}

{fill the center with garland, pine cones, jingle bells and acorns}

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Miles is 4!

{bird watching}

 Miles turned 4 last Friday on 11.11.11!  The party had to be postponed because he had minor laser surgery on his nose last Wednesday.  Poor guy, this has been a rough year!  First his knee surgery in the spring and now this.  Hopefully this next year will be filled with good health and yummy treats.  We'll have to spoil him this Christmas by putting lots of these in his stocking.  Who would have thought I could love this little guy so much?

Happy birthday, mister miles!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Coconut Milk Smoothie

{strawberries, blueberries, frozen banana & coconut milk}

I usually pass on smoothies due to my milk allergy, but this new found substitute for milk has my blender back on the counter most days.  I've always wondered if I could have coconut milk.  It seemed too good {and creamy} to be true - like there was some hidden dairy in there somewhere.  It does say "dairy free" right on the container so I'm just gonna have to go with it.  I have really enjoyed this healthy mid-morning snack the past couple of weeks.  Today I mixed in some Vitamin C powder to get ready for cold season.  And since you can't take your blender with you {most days}, keep it simple and add it to the breakfast menu.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Free Evening

{my calendar}

I've had somewhere to be every night the past 7 nights.  Last weekend I went to the women's conference at our church and Monday night I was invited by a friend to a Downline Ministries event to hear the author of this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed both events.  I walked away from the weekend reflecting on how everything in my life is a reflection of the Gospel - my marriage, my womanhood and even the way I dress.  Monday night, Dr. Coleman spoke about being a "world Christian."  A world Christian lives today with the awareness, desire and passion to make disciples in every nation.  It's understanding that being led by the Spirit is a necessity in fulfilling the Great Commission.  These two complementary truths have given me much to think about this week.  Tonight I'm looking forward to a little downtime that's hard to come by this time of year. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tribute to April

Thank you for all of your prayers this past week and for your continued prayers.  Last Friday, April took her last breaths on this earth and took her first breath in eternity.  Her funeral was on Monday and it was a beautiful day.  A hard day but a beautiful day spent remembering precious April and praising the name of Jesus.  April's life will be remembered by her faith in God and her love for her family.  She was truly a Titus 2 woman and a Proverbs 31 woman.

My first impression of April as we met for dinner many years ago was a godly woman who was faithfully praying for her husband.  It was her encouragement that led me to read this book some years later.  God blessed Sam and April with three children in eight years of marriage and she was a wonderful mother.

April was a loyal friend.  She was genuine, trustworthy and thought more highly of others than herself.  She was sweet inside and out.  Her beautiful smile was always present.  Even in her two year battle with breast cancer, she remained steadfast to who she was in Christ Jesus.  His ambassador and faithful servant.

I'll never forget her response the night she found out her cancer had returned.  It was one of complete surrender to the Father's will.  The first words out of her mouth were, "Jesus is coming back soon.  And if he wants to take my life..."  And then instead of words came an exhale.  Except it wasn't an involuntary exhale as one does without thinking, it was a release from within.  I saw her submit her will, choosing to believe God is good and His purpose divine. 

April would be the first one to say that God is good and His plan has meaning and it has hope.  April's legacy is a legacy of faith and submission to the Master's plan.  Her story has now been added to those in the hall of faith.  She is now a part of the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us and encourage us to FINISH WELL.  And from her view I know she'd say, "It is worth it.  HE is worth it."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Prayer Needed

  {January 2011}

This has been a tough week.  My friend, April was moved to a hospice house on Tuesday.  There have been few words this week and many prayers.  Please pray for my friend and her precious family.  April has three children ages seven, six and two.  Her mother-in-law wrote this CaringBridge Journal entry on Tuesday.  A verse that I've been meditating on lately has been my anchor this week, "Trust in the LORD forever, for in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength." {Isaiah 26:4}

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Answers in Genesis

{ark encounter opening spring 2014}

On Sunday, Ken Ham from the Answers in Genesis ministry, spoke on apologetics and the book of Genesis at Bellevue.  If you have never heard him, he is amazing!  Have I mentioned that Genesis is my favorite book of the Bible?  I could listen to him for hours just soaking up His wisdom and knowledge of the Scriptures.  And I had no idea how many resources they offer!  I really wanted to purchase one of everything, but considering I already have a lengthy reading list I decided on just two books for now.  You can view my selections here and here.  But then when I was looking on the website, I was intrigued by this book and added it to my order with this to get free shipping.  I'm already looking forward to taking a trip to the Creation Museum and cannot wait for this full-scale Noah's Ark to be built!  What a great outreach project to invest in.  If you are interested, you can donate HERE

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dynamic Views


I just discovered Blogger's dynamic views for blogs.  You can view any blog in these seven different views: classic, flipcard, magazine, mosaic, sidebar, snapshot and timeslide.  Magazine is my favorite although flipcard is pretty cool too.  The impressive part is that you can view any blog this way by adding "/view/" and then the view name to the URL.  For example, to view my blog in the classic view you would type this in the URL:  Pretty neat stuff, huh?  Using Blogger's dynamic views would be a great way to get an overview of a blog and check out any posts you might have missed.  Blogger, I think you really outdid yourself on this one!

Monday, October 17, 2011

{Pinterest Recipe} Mini Maple Pancake Muffins

I'm a total trend eater.  Always have been and still am to this day.  I eat a certain food for a period of time and then one day it hits.  I don't start to burn out... I am burned out!  You never know what 24 hours can bring in the life of a trend eater.  Pancakes were a big hit on the menu around the high school/ beginning of college years.  Since then... well, you know the drill... not so much.  But when I saw this new take on an old favorite, I thought I would give this easy recipe a try.  Too bad I forgot to add the sugar to the batter.  As a last resort, I sprinkled some sugar on top.  And I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate which made them taste more like a chocolate chip cookie.  There's nothing better than starting out the week with a homemade breakfast treat. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Herman Cain Visit

{Cain's tour bus parked in W. J. Freeman Park}

This morning Herman Cain came to Bartlett to rally support for his 2012 presidential campaign.  I work within walking distance of the Bartlett City Park which was where his 45 minute speech was given to local supporters.  Cain spoke about his 999 plan and expressed his full support of Israel and our military.  I especially liked his closing remarks, "In God we trust and In God is our trust."  On his way out, my dad and I shook his hand and I took a couple of close-ups.  God bless you, Mr. Cain!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Girls Gone Wise

Today I signed up for the women's conference at our church next month.  The three main speakers are Mary Kassian, Carolyn McCully and our very own Donna Gaines.   I am looking forward to this weekend studying God's Word and reflecting on what a wise woman should look like in today's world.  To register for the conference, click HERE.  Tickets are $20 if purchased before October 15th.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

{Reading List} October

If you're like me you have more books on your reading list than you have time to read.  I always seem to have a dozen books that I want to read (and are sitting on my bookshelf) but by the time I get to them some other title has grabbed my attention.  The worst is when you start a book and then put it down long enough that when you return to it you have already forgotten the beginning or it's hazy at best.  I would love to finish a book without having my next one already picked out.  My husband feels the same way and we decided the solution was not to stop buying books but to read MORE.  So we have determined to pick a book each month and stick with it!  A book a month is pretty doable, right?  So here's my pick for October and this is his.  I had already started my book over a year ago (gasp) but now is a good time to jump back in since we are currently reading the Gospels in our Chronological Bible.  His pick is actually one of those books I bought awhile back and never got to (see what I mean?).  He says it's a real eye opener of past and current events.  I realize we are already a good ways into the month but I had to finish one other book before we got started.  So tell me, what's on your reading list this fall?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Delta

{lunch spot on Main Street}

On our way to my college reunion, we stopped in Greenwood and stayed at The Alluvian for a night.  We had a wonderful time during our stay with great food, an afternoon spent at the spa, and a trip to the coziest bookstore I've ever seen.  The next day we went on The Help tour and saw the local homes they used in filming the movie.  We were given an individual tour of the Cotesworth Plantation in North Carrollton which was used for Celia Foote's house.  We were told that the actress, Jessica Chastain that played Celia Foote, is a vegan.  So when she takes a bite out of the fried chicken in the movie it's really just tofu that they made to look like a piece of chicken.  It's too bad because they sure do know how to make fried chicken in the Delta.  

 {Baptist Church}

{Hilly Holbrook's House}

{Aibileen Clark's House}

{Celia Foote's House}

{breakfast table where Celia Foote and Minny Jackson shared a meal together}

Monday, October 10, 2011

Food for the Soul

{breakfast on the patio}

We have really enjoyed our October weather so far.  My sweet husband made me breakfast Saturday morning while I was preparing for my discipleship group.   The rest of the day was spent in the same laid back manner and I was able to finish some much needed reading.  If you have not read this book, it is a must read!  The Master Plan of Evangelism is an easy read and will revolutionize the way you look at Bible study, discipleship and evangelistic methodology.  I wish I had read this book a decade ago.  I am looking forward to hearing Dr. Robert Coleman in person next month!

"Men are God's method." - E. M. Bounds

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Erika's Consignment Sale

This week I've been moving summer clothes to the back of my closet and bringing fall pieces to the front.  My sister and I thought about having another closet sale like last year but decided to go ahead and take some of our pieces to Erika's Ladies Consignment Sale.  Erika Cobb has offered a fall and spring consignment sale each year in the Memphis area for the last eight years.  Last fall was my first time to go to the sale and I scored a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress!  The sale runs from next Thursday, October the 13th to Sunday, October the 16th with Saturday and Sunday being half off days.  Mark your calendars - it's worth a visit! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

College Reunion

Saturday night I went to a college reunion in Jackson with the girls I lived next to for four years.  It has been 10 years since we all graduated but somehow getting together again made the time feel like it had just been a few years and not an entire decade.  We mostly laughed during our time together - you know the deep belly laugh that is good for the soul.  I love my girls and treasure the time we spent together.  Not everyone was able to come so we decided to make this an annual event.   Until next time...

{Kathryn and I were in each other's weddings that were three months apart}

{Cathy and Carrie, my dear friends of 20 years!  We met in seventh grade, cheered together, went to college together, were in each others' weddings and have stayed in touch to this day.}

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