Turn Responsibilities into Special Events

We had the blessing of going to Michigan last weekend where my husband officiated a precious wedding for a couple that are members of our church.  The bride’s hometown is in Michigan, so that was the location for their beautiful wedding.  I lived in the Detroit area until I was 13, so it was fun to go back to a place where I have childhood memories.

The wedding itself was just magical. It snowed the day of the wedding, making it the perfect additional touch!  Isn’t the Lord good?!  Christmas weddings can be beautiful just because of the church and its decor.  Their church was a rented church, so it would be both of their weddings, not just the bride’s.  I loved that!  Plus, this church was gorgeous, as was the bride and her attendants.

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After the wedding event, we had the blessing of going to Greenfield Village for their Holiday Nights.  What a fun time we had!  It was romantic, musical, cold, snowy, festive, and fun!  We absolutely loved the whole night!

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No, we didn’t skate, though I really, really wanted to!

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As we were traveling home, my husband stopped for coffee, and beside the coffee shop was a gourmet popcorn shop, Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn Company.  My husband slipped inside while I was in the car.  He bought three different flavors and of the two I’ve tried, I can attest to the fact that their popcorn is some of the best I’ve had!!

It was a busy weekend, but we were so thankful for all the times we had to share special memories together, such as our evening at Greenfield Village, coffee at a new-to-us place, and popcorn on the long trek home.  That wedding weekend wasn’t just special to the couple who got married, it was special to us as a couple!

It’s so important to make special events out of the things that are responsibilities.  Turn an errand to town, a trip to the grocery store, an evening at school performance or ball game by looking for the fun in each of those things.  Put your phone down.  Look at the people around you.  Stop for the caloric Krispy Kreme doughnut and hot chocolate – or the yummy gourmet popcorn!  Enjoy the brief snow flurries by getting out and watching them come down.  Hold hands with your husband while you’re out.  Do the sporadic thing that pops into your head.  Enjoy each moment.  Turn the small things into big things!

Refresh yourself and those around you by turning the little things into big, special things this weekend!

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Hot Chocolate Mug Cake

How does this sound – Hot, gooey, fudgy cake ready in 90 seconds?! Not only is it really delicious cake, it can also be assembled to give as a special gift for the chocolate lover in your life!  Can you think of anyone who would appreciate a hot little cake that is ready except for three little ingredients?  Mix it up, pop it into the microwave, and in 90 seconds the cake is ready to eat!

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I found this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Mug Cake in the recent edition of Southern Living Magazine.  I whipped up four of these for my neighbors this week and they were super easy and cute as well!  Each mug makes a really generous portion – so you could even share, but hey, it’s Christmas, right?  You might want to enjoy the whole mug yourself!

Here are the ingredients:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Mug Cake

Ingredients

DRY MIX

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons chopped toasted pecans
  • 2 tablespoons bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons mini marshmallow

 

How to Make It

Step 1

For each cake, combine all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, kosher salt, unsweetened cocoa, chopped toasted pecans, bittersweet chocolate chips, baking powder, and cinnamon in a small food-safe gift bag. Place mini marshmallows in a separate bag. Place both bags inside a 12-oz. microwavable mug.

Step 2

To prepare each cake, stir whole milk, canola oil, and vanilla extract into the dry ingredients in mug. Microwave on HIGH until cake rises and is cooked through, 60 to 90 seconds. Remove from microwave; sprinkle marshmallows on top. Microwave on HIGH 5 more seconds. Serve immediately.

Here’s how I wrapped mine up to give away:

 

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You might not be able to have everyone you love over for chocolate cake, but with this simple recipe, you might be able to give them all a cake of their own!

You can watch a video of the process here:

Happy baking/Gift-giving!

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My Simple Christmas Decor 2017

We’re down to the Twelve Days of Christmas!  Rather than giving you  three french hens or six geese a-laying, I thought I’d share some pictures of my Christmas home decor.  I’ll give you a few glimpses into most rooms, which have just little touches here and there.  Step inside…

The entryway ~

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My foyer has no outlet on this side of the wall, but it needs a soft light, so I love using these battery operated strands to brighten up the hallway!

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Just a simple drawing on the closet pantry chalkboard. (You can go here to see how I put the chalkboard on the door.)

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My Gingerbread Coffee House is on the buffet.  After 10+ hours of work, I had no intention of eating this confection, even though everything about it is eatable! It still smells gingerbread-y and delicious!

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All the front windows of our house have a wreath, red bow and battery operated candle hanging from them.  You can see the back of the wreath from this guest room.  I’ve added just little touches in here – Christmas pillow, greenery on the shelf above the bed, and Christmas magazines in the tray.

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You may remember my post last week stating that I wasn’t putting up a tree this year, due to time constraints.  Well, when we were out of town last weekend, Santa’s elves came and put up this adorable and beautiful tree in our bedroom!  It was exactly what I’d hoped to do.  I guess I’ve been a good girl this year after all!

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Now you see what I mean by that fact that I was just adding small Christmas touches here and there.  But you know, I love it and it looks festive enough for us!  Simplifying is a good exercise!

Thanks for taking a tour of my home, via these pictures!  Was there a favorite spot you enjoyed?  Are you finished decorating your home for Christmas?

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Overshadowed

Because of our great height difference there are times when I feel absolutely overpowered by my husband. His frame towers over me and I feel very small and insignificant. In Luke 1:35 reads,

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

When Mary was told that she would be the mother of the Christ child she learned that the way this would happen would be because of the “overshadowing” of the Holy Spirit. She, too, felt small and insignificant, but He would come upon her and make this thing come to be.

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Have you ever been faced with a situation and wondered the same thing that Mary asked – “How will this come to be? How am I going to be able to do this?” The answer is the same for us as it was for Mary ; it happens by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. In a much greater way than when my husband’s presence towers over me, the Holy Spirit takes over and does the thing that no person could do.

Does a trial seem too difficult? He will overshadow you.

Do you feel alone? He will overshadow you.

Does a task seem too great? He will overshadow you.

Does the circumstance seem hopeless? He will overshadow you.

Then we’ll see, just as Mary did that with God nothing is impossible!

Here are the words to an old song that I love. It is entitled just that – “Overshadowed.”

Overshadowed
How desolate my life would be,
How dark and dreary my nights and days,
If Jesus’ face I did not see, To brighten all earth’s weary ways
I’m overshadowed by His mighty love
Rest is mine, serene, secure.
He died to ransom me from sin,
He lives to keep me day by day,
I’m overshadowed by his mighty love,
Love that brightens all my way.

If you know Him personally as your Savior,He will overshadow you, too, and He will do what only our great God can do.

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Slow Cooker Yankee Pot Roast

 

What would we do without the crock pot?  Other than run to Chick-Fil-A for fast food?  I lean on mine a lot and am so thankful it can have my meal prepping while my days are full.

I’ve posted this recipe for Yankee Pot Roast from Cooking Light before, but recently I made it in the crock pot because it was going to be a day away from home with the need for supper when the busyness was done!  This meal is so hearty, so savory and satisfying and perfect for a cold winter’s day!  I’m going to add in my method for making it in the slow cooker, just in case you might have some busy days when you, too, need a meal ready for the table when you get home!

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Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 (4-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onion
  • 2 cups low-salt beef broth
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomato
  • 1 1/4 pounds small red potatoes
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 300°.

Step 2

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle roast with salt and pepper. Add roast to pan, browning on all sides (about 8 minutes). Remove from pan. Add onion to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until browned. Return roast to pan. Combine broth, ketchup, and Worcestershire; pour over roast. Add tomato; bring to a simmer.

Step 3

Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until tender. Add potatoes and carrots; cover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in lemon juice. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

 

To make in Crock pot:

Follow step 2, using a heavy pan to brown roast and then saute’ onions.  Place roast in the bottom of the slow cooker, then top with onions.  Add carrots and potatoes around roast.  Pour broth mixture over all and cook on low 8 hours.

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When you remove the cooked roast from the crock pot, you can pour the broth mixture into a skillet and then thicken with corn starch on the stove to make a delicious gravy for the meal!

This is some swanky comfort food, friends!  I hope you’ll make your next busy day end deliciously by making this in your crock pot!

You’re welcome!

With love from my country kitchen,

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Gingerbread Girls & Grace

Let the Christmas festivities begin! We had a Ladies’ Christmas Tea at our church on Monday night. The theme for the night was, Gingerbread Girls & Grace. The theme for the decorations was obviously, gingerbread  everything! We had gingerbread houses,  gingerbread  girls decorating the table,  gingerbread favors, and of course cookies!

My daughter, Whitney was our speaker.

She used the analogy of making a gingerbread house and the disappointment hers would have been, had she entered our contest we hosted that night. She said hers would’ve…

  1. Not looked like yours.
  2. Not looked like she thought it would have.

The analogy is, neither does

  • My life doesn’t look like yours.
  • My life look like I thought it would.

Each of our lives is a story, written by God. We can never doubt His love for us, no matter. Lamentations 3:22, 23 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, great is His faithfulness. The end goal is we become Christlike, therefore, we can embrace the struggles gladly.

What great truths these were. I’ll be looking at my Gingerbread attempt with these reminders in my heart!

Here are pictures of our wonderful evening at church…

The Gingerbread contest…

My entry…

Whitney sharing God’s Word with us…

Does your life look differently than you thought? Does your life look different than others’? See God’s Sovereign hand and his sufficient Grace shaping and molding you in your spiritual growth to become like Christ!

Denise

Simplifying Christmas

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Some years my Christmas prep and decorations are over the top. Everything is decorated!

Every room,

every inch,

every tree.

But then there are other years when I have to give myself a little chance to relax the decor and the time I put into getting my home into the holiday spirit.

This is one of those years.  We have had a very busy schedule.  We’ll be out of town some days, and we have events in the calendar that are going to fill the time from morning to night.  I also headed up a big event at church that took me away from home a good bit in order to prepare.

So, I decided this was a year to simplify .  If you walked into my house it would look like Christmas, even though there’s no tree up.  I have put touches of decor here and there over most of the house.  But to find time to do the tree, just wasn’t going to happen.  My baking has been scaled down, too, and instead of having tons of goodies on hand, I’ll prepare what I need just before the event.

This simplifying has been so helpful, but to be honest, I had to come to grips with it!  Can we say Guilt?  Wondering if my family would wonder what’s wrong with me was one thought.  But when I stopped to realize that I need to do what will help me focus on the most important part – the birth of Christ, I understood that it really is okay, and I knew my family would be good with it, too.

A less stressed me is better than a tree!

It’s a small sacrifice, really, but it has helped me to be able to do other things, and I look forward to the rest of this month and will be able to celebrate just as heartily without the evergreen standing in my family room!

Don’t get caught up in what you feel obligated to do.  If you need to simplify your prep this year, it may possibly be the best gift you can give to your family!

I posted a video last year about other ways to simplify Christmas.  I hope it will give you some ideas to help you make the most of these special days as we treasure the wonder of Christ coming to earth to die for our sins.

How about you?  Do you need to let go of some of your own set expectations?  You’ll be surprised how that will lighten your load and help you to focus on Christ this Christmas!

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