Do Yourself a Favor

Often times I ask myself a question –

If I knew that someone was going to knock on my door in five minutes, what would I want to straighten up?  What needs to be put away?  What would I want to have “fluffed up a bit?”

I look around and find the answer, then I get busy taking care of that problem area!  Often times it’s right before we sit down for supper.  I’ll put the pot holder back into the drawer.  Wipe the counter’s mess from salad dressing that dripped from the bottle when I poured it.  I’ll slide the syran wrap back into its place and put the dirty knife or spoon into the soapy water in the sink.

 

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Now not only would I not mind if someone walked in to visit, I can also enjoy my meal more, knowing that there isn’t a huge mess awaiting me when I finish!  The pots don’t have to be washed or every prep dish in the dishwasher, but if all the extra things are just put away, it doesn’t look like a bomb went off in the kitchen!

Keeping things put away only takes a few minutes for each task, but it can make walking back into that room a pleasure instead of feeling like you have the stomach flu!  Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to put things away.

Consider these simple tasks:

  • Make the bed within 15 minutes of rising.
  • Clean the sink, shower and toilet immediately after you’ve gotten ready for the day.
  • Hang up any discarded clothes  before you leave your room in the morning.
  • Before you leave the house for the day, make sure the room you’ll walk into is straightened up.  Throw away the newspaper.  Put the pillows on the sofa the way you like them.  Hang a clean dish towel over the sink.  Empty the trash can.
  • Have a timer candle or lamp set to turn on before you arrive home so you’ll have light in the house when you arrive.
  • Clean out all the trash, receipts, gum wrappers in your purse at the end of the day.
  • Put away the dishes in the dish drainer or dishwasher before going to bed.
  • Spend 15 minutes before bedtime putting things away and straightening the living space.

Small tasks can make a huge difference in the way you feel about your home.  It doesn’t have to be perfect – just uncluttered and welcoming!

Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes today to do what is necessary to make your house – or even one space, make you smile!

What is the one things you have to have done to make your house feel welcoming to you?

Refresh your house!

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Banana Cake

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I had an urge to bake recently, so I went to one of my cookbooks that always inspires me – Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy Is that?  I love her recipes!  I found a Banana Cake recipe that uses up those black bananas that are no longer worthy of breakfast offerings.  I regularly pop that over-ripe fruit in the freezer in little sandwich bags and keep them for recipes like these.  The sugar spots on the bananas makes them especially good for baking!  So don’t throw them away…freeze them for this Cake!

Here’s the recipe for the cake:

Banana Cake

Ingredients
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup granulated sugar – I used 1/2 Cup and it was great!
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
Walnut halves, for decorating (optional)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan. Note:  I used a five inch cake pan and a 7 inch pan, and the batter filled both to the perfect depth for a nice, deep cake!
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the bananas, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on low speed until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and orange zest. Mix until smooth.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts, if using. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, turn out onto a cooling rack, and cool completely.
Spread the frosting thickly on the top of the cake and decorate with walnut halves, if using.

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The day I made this I didn’t have any cream cheese for the icing she suggests, so I found another recipe for Banana frosting and adapted it just a wee bit so I wouldn’t have to leave home for an ingredient.  Unlike the cake, the icing is made using a ripe (not over-ripe) banana.  The result is a lightly flavored banana icing that goes perfectly with the cake!

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Here’s the icing I chose to add to this super-moist cake:

When you make the icing for this cake, if you find that the butter and bananas look like they’re curdled in your mixing bowl, and you wonder if they’ll really mix and be smooth, don’t lose heart – just keep adding the powdered sugar and it will come together just fine.

Banana Icing

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup ripe banana (about 1 medium banana)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • About 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream butter, mashed banana, vanilla and lemon juice.  Add in the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until the frosting is light and fluffy but still soft enough to spread.

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This is a cake that begs for a glass of milk or cup of coffee and makes for the perfect ending to a meal, or becomes the best part of having a few friends over because you get to serve this simple cake.

You may just sit around waiting for those bananas to turn black so you can whip this recipe together!  Yes, it’s that good!

Happy baking!

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Friday Favorites

Last weekend I had the joy of attending and speaking at the Pastor’s Wives Retreat that I shared about earlier.  The location of the retreat is perfect because it’s quiet, it’s beautiful, and truly restful.  Here is a collage of pictures from the three-day retreat:

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From top left to right –

  1. Alli went with me and did all the music.  She is so gifted and the ladies were so blessed by her songs.  What a blessing to get to serve with her at a retreat!
  2. We had an hour in which I instructed the ladies how to have a personal prayer retreat.  The questions inside the pamphlet we used are piercing and get right to the heart.  I think it may have been the best hour of the whole weekend!
  3. This is the lodge where our sessions and meals were.  The view of the mountains revealed some leaves changing colors.
  4. When the retreat was ended, Alli and I took a little hike.  The scenery on this road definitely points to the truth that it’s fall!
  5. The chalet we stayed in is my favorite one because it’s so remote.  My favorite place is always the front porch in a rocker.  Alli and I spent a good deal of time out there.  Friday afternoon a little rain rolled in and that made it even cozier!
  6. The little creek is really low since things have been pretty dry this summer, but it was still pretty.

The stress of getting ready for a retreat is pretty overwhelming.  When it’s behind me and I get home, it feels so good to get into my “normal routine” of walking and being home.  Monday morning this was my view as I exercised :

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The spiders had been REALLY busy the night before because there were webs all along that fence!  It was really pretty though because the dew hung on the delicate lines of their traps and the sun was shining through the light fog.  Nothing better than walking with a gorgeous view!

I really enjoy my herb garden and it’s done super well this summer.  This week I went out and harvested more of my herbs and I also made up a couple of arrangements, adding some flowers from my yard, as well as the fragrant herbs.

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I love having my flowers and herbs around the house.  I placed this one on the night stand beside our bed.

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Does anyone else herb garden?  How do you utilize your bounty?

Tonight our church is hosting the Cry Out! event that Revive our Hearts is doing in Indianapolis.  I am excited to join women in prayer as we petition God for revival in our own lives, our churches, homes and world!  Anyone can watch Revive our Hearts live simulcast.

Stay refreshed this weekend as you seek the Lord in your local church!

Happy fall,

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You Can Make It!

One evening after supper my husband suggested we ride the Greenbelt Bike & Walking path in Kingsport. We loaded up our bikes onto the trailer and headed off for our first adventure on this trail. We followed the directions we found on-line about a parking area. After unloading our bikes we found ourselves riding on a gravel path – downhill…for a long way! I called out to my husband who was ahead of me, “You know, whatever goes down has to come up!” I knew coming back would be harder than the path we were taking now.

Soon we hit the paved path of the Greenbelt and enjoyed a lovely ride. We saw a little water fall, a riverbed beside us, a family of ducks swimming, and others sunning themselves in the grass. It was beautiful!

We’d timed how long we’d ridden so we could make it back to the car before dark. It was now time to turn around. I kept thinking about the steep hills we’d ridden down. I was riding an old-fashioned bike – the kind with no gears. Pretty soon, I looked ahead and a hill loomed before us, and there I saw a man walking and pushing his bike up the hill (not real encouraging!) Determined to make it, I began pedaling harder. Soon I stood and pedaled – I was riding past the man (albeit, very slowly!), then I sat and pushed, thinking to myself “one more pedal, one more pedal.” Finally I made it! This was repeated a couple more times before we reached the gravel path. Ugh! Now it was even harder.

Slowly, but surely, we made it back to the car. We did end up walking up the gravel path – it was just too steep to climb without gears, but even walking, it was quite a workout. The point was, with the Lord’s enablement and strength, we made it!

The Christian life isn’t about coasting downhill every day, is it? Many television evangelists would tell you that’s what it’s like, but that’s not what the Bible teaches. Many are the afflictions of the righteous…” Psalm 34:19 There can be many days all bunched together that we literally feel like we’re standing up on the bike and pedaling for all its worth and moving very slowly. Then we get really winded and have to get off and walk. The important thing is to keep moving. I knew if I stopped while on my bike I’d never make it to the top. If you’re going through a difficulty right now, the enemy will tempt you to question God’s ways, his love for you, and will urge you to quit, but he’s not telling you the truth. The truth is that the unrighteous man also has troubles, but the last part of Psalm 34:19 says the Lord delivers him (the righteous) out of them all. The unrighteous man is on his own. However, we have an advocate, praying for us when we’re panting, out of breath, and needing strength. He will see us to the end. Think back to the blessings of the past; answered prayer, God’s provisions, and His mercy and keep on pedaling! Don’t quit – with the Lord’s enablement, we will make it!

Because of Calvary,

Bedroom Re-Arrangement

Hmmm,. maybe I should’ve been a licensed furniture mover. Why?  I love moving the furniture around in my house!  It just hits me while I’m sitting in the room. I’ll think…

That would look better over THERE!  Then I could put this where that was!

Recently I was in my bedroom and realized that the two chairs in there were too far apart. My husband and I needed a place in our room where we could sit and chat without having to sound like we were having a knock-down drag out! Ha!

So, I started pulling and tugging the chairs and side tables that were already in there to a more “conversational-appropriate space.”

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Of course I don’t just move one thing – one leads to something else and something else and …well, you get the idea.  So I also moved that little cafe table near the window for good lighting and a lovely view of the backyard.  I’ve really enjoyed sitting there and working.  That window gets great sunshine in the late afternoon, making it bright and even lovelier!

I’m still on the lookout for a throw or blanket to put on our bed that has some turquoise in it to add a pop of color.

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I put my little round table in the corner, but when I sat down to have my coffee, there was no where to set my coffee cup, so I scooted it closer within reach.  This is a perfect spot for my daily Quiet Time!  There’s good lighting with the lamp over the chair and the floor lamp beside the chaise lounge.  Of course the window gives light as well.  Liza tested it out and she approved!

Another change I did in the bedroom recently was the picture over the headboard.  I had a mirror there, but it was too high to reflect the windows as I’d hoped, so it’s now over the mantle in the living room.  I walked through my house and realized that the bicycle picture I had in the foyer was perfect for over the bed!  The colors are perfect, and it speaks well of our love for biking!  I love it when I don’t have to buy a thing to complete a rearrangement!

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All our married lives our bedroom has been quite small, and to have the blessing of this kind of space is a true gift from the Lord.  But you know what?  Even when our room was small, I still did what I could to create seating for conversation and coziness.  No matter the size of your home, do what you can to love your bedroom.  Make it a space you and your spouse love retreating to.  Little changes like moving the furniture around, adding soft lighting, or bringing in a little table from another room can make a huge difference!

My home is a work in progress.  It’s ever changing with our needs and the seasons, and I love it!  Change keeps things from getting cluttered up and it also keeps the occupants on their toes so they don’t fall over or bump into the most recently moved piece of furniture!

 What do you need to do to make your bedroom space even cozier?

Thanks for dropping by!

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Why Talking Isn’t Enough in Child Training

Imagine yourself walking along with your child in a grassy field.  As you walk across the deep growth, you hear a noise.  You look a few feet in front of you and see the source of the sound – a rattle snake shaking its tail, ready to strike a venomous blow.

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You stop your child, point towards the reptile and say,

That is a rattlesnake!  Rattlesnakes are poisonous.  They can hurt or kill you.

Then you proceed forward with your planned walk, leaving your child and yourself open to true danger.

You’re shaking your head right now because you know you would hever do that.  You know that on sight of the poisonous snake, you would REMOVE both your child AND yourself from its presence just as quickly as possible.  Even if your child didn’t understand what was happening and didn’t want to leave, you would drag him off, knowing you were saving him from sure disaster.

Now let me ask you – if you would do that with a snake, why won’t you do that with your child’s sin?  What is keeping you from doing whatever is necessary to get them away from their sinful/deadly behaviour?

So often I see parents look at their child after they’ve disobeyed, spoken disrespectfully or been defiant and say something that sounds like the parent describing the poisonous snake –

That is not nice.

Those are ugly words!

You are not obeying!

Then they continue to walk towards “the snake.”  No action is taken to stop the forward movement – the continuation of their sin!

Proverbs 29:15 reminds us how to train a child to “run away from the snake.”

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.

You can use words to teach, but it needs another element added to it to get the lesson across – it’s a rod, a paddle.  Loving, firm discipline connnected with teaching them what God’s Word says about their sin is the only way to get them to understand the danger of going their own way.  Words alone will not get the job done because children are foolish.

Proverbs 22:15 – Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

This is what God tells us! He made our children and He knows their sinful hearts.   Why do we think we can try to discipline another way – a way that eliminates a spanking?  No one enjoys having to spank their child, but the end result is rest (v. 17).

After the rod AND reproof are given, your child will be on the lookout for snakes himself because he doesnt’ want to “get bitten” again.

To really love your child, you must care enough to not only point out their sinful behaviour, but punish them when it shows itself.  Don’t leave that child on their own.  God gave them a parent to teach and train them…and that blessed person is YOU.  Be on the lookout for the poisonous snakes in their path!

With love,


Grilled Coconut Oil Tortillas

Our favorite ethnic food is Mexican!  Lunchtime is often just a tortilla shell stuffed with tomatoes, fresh veggies and a little sour cream.  If I have roasted chicken I’ll add that, too.  It’s simple.  It’s delicious and it’s fast and we LOVE it!

I’ve posted a video here where I showed the technique for making whole wheat tortillas, and they are really good, but I recently tried a new recipe for tortillas and a new technique.  The recipe uses coconut oil.  It made them very soft and added a little sweetness.  I also grilled them on the gas grill, since I don’t have a gas stove.  I loved how the grill charred them a little and gave them that little smokey flavor!

 

 

The most time-consuming part is grilling/cooking them, but I had a helper; Alli came over and we made them together.  It made it go quicker, and we had fun working together!

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Soft Homemade Coconut Oil Tortillas

2 Cups Flour

1 tsp Sea salt

4 T. Coconut oil

3/4 Cup warm milk (or even water)

Instructions

  1. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Use fork or hands to mash coconut oil balls into the flour, keeping lumps small.
  3. Slowly add milk until mixture begins to form a ball.
  4. Knead 2 minutes
  5. Cover dough and allow to rest 20 minutes
  6. Divide into 8 balls, and press on tortilla press. Then roll each one as thin as possible in a circular shape using a rolling pin.
  7. Cook tortillas in pre-heated, medium-hot skillet ( or on a gas grill!) about 30 seconds per side-golden brown spots indicate when it’s ready to flip.
  8. Tortillas are best served immediately, but can be stored in fridge and reheated for a few seconds in skillet.

These made our Mexican lunch a fiesta!  They were so good!  I will be firing up the grill again to make another batch soon!

Whether you make these on the grill or the stove top, you need to try this recipe and have your own Mexican celebration!

With love from my country kitchen,

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