Pre-Spring Coffee Table Decor

Just a few pictures for today’s post about Pre-spring decor…

How can you get your house a little ready for spring?  It’s too early for tulips or bunny rabbits, but you have to change the decor from Valentine’s Day, right?

  1. First, go through the house looking for all the traces of hearts (or evergreen still lingering from Christmas!).  I used to leave my snowmen out for the winter months, but if you have any out they could be removed, if you’re wanting to prep your home for spring that will come!
  2. Find any florals you have that are greens.  These will work great!
  3. Look for colorful additions you could put out in the form of vases, candles, or even magazines.

Here’s my attempt at a little pre-spring decoration for the coffee tables…

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I love the colors of the jars, and they add enough touch of a spring colored sky!
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Scrabble tiles are always a way to speak your heart!  The little bird in its cage is a perfect addition to the phrase!

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My family room coffee table – I like to add old magazines that I’ve saved.  I can flip through and get inspiration for when it is time to get out all things spring!

 

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A candle that has a spring fragrance makes the house smell like spring, even if you still have snow outside!
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Silk herbs are a great in-between seasons floral!

There are a few ideas for you.  I’m going to be adding a wreath on the front door soon that will help anticipate birds and daffodils!  Is that a robin outside my window?!  Woohoo!

Anyone else waiting for spring?

Denise

(L)Oven Monday – Sunday Dinner, Part 2

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Chicken Enchildadas!

Last week I began with sharing the three things that are essential to having a successful Sunday dinner.  You can go here to find the details of those  important ingredients –

  1. Ponder the needs
  2. Plan the menu
  3. Prepare ahead

After you have done #1, and you know your budget, the needs of your guests and any other needs, such as time constraint, you can plan the menu.  Today, I’m going to share a few menu suggestions and I’ll put them into a few categories to help you get started.

  • Low Budget, Large crowd – 
    • Pasta dishes are great.  Here are some of my favorites that are inexpensive, feed a crowd, and can be made ahead:
      • Spinach Lasagna – You can even make this with no meat
      • Spaghetti Pie – This recipe makes two pies!  It has all the flavors of lasagna with less prep.
      • Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes and Cheese – This link will not only show you the recipe, it will also tell you the whole menu I served on a Sunday when I made this, and the steps I took to get it ready for after church.
    • Chicken dishes, using roasted chicken done in the crock pot.  Here’s the method to cook the chicken breasts in the crock pot.
      • Chicken Enchiladas – This link will, again, show you my whole menu and method to serve this on a Sunday.
      • Savory Crescent Chicken Squares – To make these for a Sunday, prep the meat and cream cheese mixture and have it waiting in the fridge.  When you get home from church, put it into the crescent rolls and bake!
      • Hot Chicken Salad
  • Healthy Choices that can be made ahead –
    • Roasted Vegetable Frittata – Brunch food is great for Sunday!  Many restaurants are filled with church-goer’s looking for brunch!  Frittata warms up great.  I would bake the whole thing on Saturday and simply warm it up after church.
    • Baked Potato Soup – Make it ahead and keep it warm in the crock pot.  You can make this a hearty meal by serving a big bowl of salad and a light bread with it.
    • Katie Brown Chicken – This is a traditional kind of Sunday dinner, and soooo yummy!  It’s really my favorite meal!
    • Chicken Taco Salads – If the chicken is cooked, and the other salad ingredients prepped, you could put this together in minutes.
  • Crock Pot Recipes can be a life saver on Sunday! This is probably the best way to start out putting a great Sunday meal on the table.  Put everything in the crock pot and head to church.  There may be a little to do when you get home, but not much!  Here are some delicious main dish favorites:

I hope this second edition of Sunday Dinner will better equip you to put together a menu that fits your needs!  Give one of these recipes a whirl this Sunday and let me know how it goes!

Did you fix Sunday dinner yesterday?  What did you serve?

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Family Friday – Marriage Advice from Two Seasoned Marriages

This week I have had the blessing of spending a few days in Kentucky with my parents.  Family time is always a blessing – even if it includes being here with them during a time of physical issues and tests, like this visit. I also got to see my twin sister and her husband – an added blessing!  We always end up having many long conversations – in the library, in the sun room, around the table at mealtimes and in the living room while we rest comfortably in their lovely and restful home.

Last night I asked questions to each of my parents, my sister and my brother-in-law after we finished supper.  I was thinking about the longevity demonstrated  in the marriages in that room.  My parents are approaching 62 years, my sister and her husband, nearly 39.  My question to each of them was,

What is one piece of advice you would give to married couples to help their marriage endure?

 

Here’s what they said,

Mom ~ “To young married couples, I would say to move away from your parents for at least the first year.  That way if something comes up between you two, you can’t go running home – you have to work it out together.
To  all marriages, I would say something that my mother told me – ‘Never make your children the center of your marriage, because if you do, when they leave home, you’ll be strangers to one another.'”

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Dad ~ “Each of you have to give 100%.  You can’t do what you think is ‘your part’ and think you’ve done enough.  Each has to give 100%.”

Jeff ~  “Learn to laugh and have fun.  Don’t take yourselves too seriously.  Remember, too, that you’ve made a covenant with God to stay together for life.”

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Dianne ~ Leave your parents and cleave to your mate!  Also out-serve one another.  Rather than wishing he would do this or that, do for him.  Pray for one another!

That’s some good advice!  There’s lots more that all of them could add, but I just asked for one top thing they would tell marriages in order to go the long haul!

Which one of these comments struck a chord in your heart?  Why not ask the Lord to help you implement that characteristic into your marriage beginning today?

Refresh your marriage,

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Lessons On Waiting

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I’ll never forget standing at my kitchen island with my grown, married daughter.  Her first Thanksgiving with her in-laws was coming up and she wanted to make a good impression with the pie she was contributing to the autumn feast.  She was sure about what the filling would be and how delicious it would turn out, but the crust?  That had her panicking, so she had come to my house to get some help.

Now, here we were, standing side by side at the counter.  We each had a bowl of flour, a due amount of Crisco and ice water to mix in, and a rolling pin beside, waiting for its time of duty.

Mom, why don’t you just make crust for me?  It will turn out so much better!

No, I’m sure you can do this.  Just watch while I do each step, then you do it.

Each step brought her closer to the desired result, and then after a little time, the crust had been rolled, picked up and placed into the pie pan.  With another bit of effort, the side crust was duly pinched and crimped, resulting in a crust that looked worthy of a state fair competition!  She was so proud.  It was completed because she was willing to wait.

As I was cleaning up the cloud of flour left on counter and floor, my daughter began talking to me about the desire of her heart, and the difficulty of waiting.  The wait was making her wonder if God was withholding from her because she had done something in the past, and this was her necessary punishment.

Have you ever wondered that?  Has the question of God’s seeming delay to answer made you wonder if He was perhaps angry with you?  We know He could do it, but when He doesn’t, wrong thoughts begin to creep in.

Pointing to the flour-covered rolling  pin we had just used, I said,

You came over here because you wanted the finished product of a pie crust, and you came to me to make it for you. Instead, I had you come near and learn from me.  After time, the result was your beautiful pie crust.

God is doing the same thing in your life, on a much higher plane.  Instead of just handing over to you what you’re asking Him for, He’s pulling you near Himself so that you can learn from Him what you would never learn otherwise.  In the right time, God will answer and provide, and you will be so thankful for the lessons you learned while you waited.

Friend, what are you waiting for today?  Whether it’s huge or small, remind yourself of Truth.  Just because it’s not happening right now, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love you!  He cannot act outside of His character, and He loves you as much as His own Son!  There are lessons in waiting that will never be learned if God answered your request immediately.  He is a good Father, and He is pulling you close to Himself to teach you and instruct you, to comfort and to prepare you for when the time is just right and He will answer.

The joy on my daughter’s face when she saw her finished pie crust is nothing compared to what I’m seeing God do in her life right now!  I’m pretty sure if you asked her, she would tell you it was well worth the wait.

Maybe we should bronze that rolling pin.  It taught a tremendous lesson to my over-anxious heart.

Keep trusting.  Keep waiting.

 

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Good Gracious – How To Develop a Gracious Spirit

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A woman had been standing in a long line at a busy grocery store. An over-worked cashier rushed in to open another check-out line and totally overlooked this woman, but instead pointed to another customer who had just walked up and said,”Sir, if you’ll come over here I’ll check your groceries for you.” How did the first woman respond?  She simply shrugged her shoulders and continued to wait.  She was gracious.

My husband, a huge fan of keeping up with the news, went out early several days in a row to find NO PAPER in the newspaper box. He wasn’t  too happy, so what did he do?  He called the office to calmly explain he wasn’t receiving a paper.  He learned that a new carrier was now delivering to our house.  She said,
“Sorry this has been a problem! You’re a paying customer  and you deserve to get a paper.” “Oh, it’s totally fine.”He responded, “The truth is, I don’t deserve anything but hell. It’s all of God’s grace and it’s totally fine.”  What kind of response was that?  Gracious.

A teacher at church was in a hurry to get things prepared for her Wednesday night class.  In the last precious moments, a child came skipping into the room to give her a hug and “chat.”  The teacher stopped, as though she had all the time in the world and gave that child her complete attention.  How very gracious she was!

Graciousness is a trait that seems to be slipping by the wayside. It seems everywhere we see people that are demanding their “rights.”   Here’s what it means to be gracious –

Gracious – pleasantly kind, benevolent, and courteous.

It’s times that you can’t really can’t prepare for that require us to show graciousness.  You cannot anticipate the situation, but it requires a pleasantly kind response.  If you can’t prepare for it, how can you be sure you’ll respond in a gracious manner?  You realize and understand every day that you don’t deserve anything.  Our society shouts otherwise, but it’s not true. Because we’re all sinners, our sin deserves hell, but Christ paid the penalty, and it’s by His grace that when we trust in Him, we are saved from eternity without Him! We’re promised heaven and a relationship with the God of the universe!  That salvation, and everything after that is an unbelievable gift of His grace. As we walk under the control of the Holy Spirit, we can be gracious, as we witness in the life of Christ at every moment of His life, and even in His death.

I wonder if it would even be helpful for us to look at that situation that we think should have had a different outcome, and mentally, and maybe even verbally, say,

I don’t deserve ____________!
(the next place in line, a newspaper, time alone…)

Graciousness is developed with a keen sense of gratitude for what we do have.

You and I can respond graciously even at times like these…

  • At a restaurant, even though my steak wasn’t cooked exactly the way I wanted.  Respond graciously
  • Another birthday, even though no one remembered to send a card. Respond graciously
  • A few minutes in a hot bath, even though a child is knocking on the door the entire time. Respond graciously
  • A trip,
  • a cup of coffee,
  • a spouse,
  • a child,
  • a computer,
  • a bag of groceries,
  • a day of vacation,
  • a home,
  • a dishwasher,
  • a job,
  • a friend,
  • a church…

you add the “even though’s” and then add “respond graciously.”

Let’s live a gracious life – one that realizes that everything we have, are, enjoy, get to do or experience, are all grace gifts that are going to be touched with something that will require us to respond with a kind, courteous spirit.  You’ll be a blessing to be near, just like my examples above.

Have you witnessed graciousness? I’d love to hear about it!  And if you leave a response, I’ll promise to respond graciously.  =)

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Do you have a Teachable Spirit?

Little toddlers are becoming independent little people and they will often struggle trying to accomplish a task and do it the hard way.  Have you ever tried to step in and show them an easier way?  Their response is often,

“No, I do it!”

and they push away the very counsel that could make their task easier.

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Toddlers aren’t the only ones who push away help.  Often when we are making our way through our Christian life, a pastor stands to preach, or a teacher gives God’s Word in a Bible study, or a friend pulls us aside to speak Truth to us, and we become stiff and resentful instead of teachable.  We like others to think that we’re just fine.  We don’t think we need someone to tell us what to do,  or how to live!

Are you like that?  I must confess that I’ve fought with this very kind of spirit over the years.  How about  a little check-up to see if we’re teachable or not?

When you hear Truth given by a wise, godly person, whether it’s one-on-one or in a group setting, do you…

  • Turn a deaf ear?  – Proverbs 13:1 a scorner heareth not rebuke.
  • Hate the instruction itself? – Proverbs 5:12 – And you say, “How I have hated instruction and my heart spurned reproof.”
  • Hate the one giving it?  Proverbs 9:8 – Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you.
  • Think about how you’re going to defend yourself while the other person is speaking?  Proverebs 18:13 – He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
  • Stiffen up when you hear it?  Proverbs 29:1 – He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

If these traits are true of us, here is the sad result…

  • Destruction – Proverbs 29:1
  • Punishment and Death –  Proverbs 15:10 – This doesn’t necessarily mean physical death, but it could bring that or spiritual death, death to relationships, death to fruitfulness, etc.
  • Broken fellowship with God – Proverbs 1:24, 25
  • Unanswered prayer – Psalm 66:18

If we continue in sin after we’ve been admonished, we can be sure we are headed for destruction.

The flip side of all this is that there are wonderful blessings from heeding Godly counsel:

  • Increase in learning – Proverbs 1:5
  • There is safety –  Proverbs 11:14
  • Wisdom – Proberbs 12:15, 13:10, 19:20
  • Happiness – Proverbs 3:13
  • Gained a friend – Proverbs 27:6
  • Gained precious treasure – Proverbs 20:15
  • Deliverance – Proberbs 28:26

If we want to be wise, we’ll all lean in, and not away from the one who desires to instruct us in godly wisdom.  Pride is the culprit that whispers in our ear, “You don’t have to listen to THAT!”  Rather than being like an unteachable youngster, let’s keep a humble, mature heart that listens and then responds.  Even if you don’t think the person is on target about what they’re saying, listen, and then talk to God about it.  He will always give the right counsel!

When is it most difficult to receive godly counsel?

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(L)Oven Monday – Three Steps to a Successful Sunday Dinner

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Happy Monday, friends, and welcome to the beginning of the posts to help get you ready to prepare a  Sunday dinner that provides for the needs of your guests, is delicious, and ready in a hurry! Thank you to so many of you who shared your Sunday dinner struggles with me!  I’m going to try to help you solve those difficulties as we touch on this subject for the next several Monday’s.

Today I want to lay out the three steps that are crucial for your Sunday meal to be a success.  What constitutes success? I believe it’s the three things listed in the previous paragraph – a meal that

meets needs,

is delicious,

and on the table quickly.

But that doesn’t happen all by itself, of course! I need to start by saying, anything that is worth doing, is going to take effort and it’s going to take being intentional.  There is work involved, but it’s so worth the efforts!  Here are the three crucial things you need to consider so that your Sunday dinner will be a success:

  1. Ponder the needs – That simply means that you must consider what the needs of the day are, your budget and what your guests will need.
    1. Is there a time constraint?
    2. Do you only have xxx amount of dollars to feed a crowd?
    3. Is there a dietary need – ie. Gluten-free?

      Consider whatever needs are necessary – A baby that will need to be fed, a child will need a nap very soon, someone with low-blood sugar will be shaky at this point, etc.  Then, considering those needs, you move to #2.

  2. Plan the menu – Considering your needs, you can now pull out this blog’s Recipe page, your Pinterest boards, your cookbooks – whatever will help you find a menu to meet those needs.
    Determine how extensive you want the menu for Sunday to be.  If you’re not into the routine of fixing a fresh meal for Sunday, I’d encourage you to start with a simple menu – a Taco Soup in the crock pot, some tortilla chips, and a dessert like the pie linked here, or go with something super easy like a purchased Angel food cake and fresh strawberries.  Don’t overwhelm yourself.  Take baby steps. 
    My recipe page has a list of 30-Minute meals, but if you wait until you get home from church to even prep those things, you are going to be frustrated, so stay tuned for #3.

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3. Prepare ahead – I can’t tell you how important this step is!  As early in the week as possible, start preparing.  The earlier you start, the less stressful it will be!  Consider doing these things ahead of time:

  1. Prepare the table.  Set the table – The family will know that something good is on the way!  Even if you can only do it after breakfast on Sunday, do it before you leave for church.  If everyone can eat breakfast at the kitchen island, set the table on Saturday night.
  2. Prepare Foods.  Make ahead anything that can be made ahead of time!
    1. Salad – I love frozen salads for this purpose, also green salads without the dressing can be made the day before.
    2. Dessert – If you were serving Angel Food cake and berries, make the sure the berries are washed, sliced and ready ( or thawed from their frozen state) on Saturday night.
    3.  Vegetables – Peeling potatoes and putting them in water overnight will make them ready for the crock pot.  If you’ll need onions, get them sliced and put into a ziplock bag.
    4. Dishes and pans – On Saturday night, set out the crock pot you’ll need, or the pan for the roast chicken.  Have them out on the counter and ready.
  3. Prepare an hors d’oevre – Make something ahead of time that everyone can snack (lightly) on as soon as you get home.  This is especially wise if you have little children that are fussy and need something to eat right away!  Make life easier for you and them and make something they can munch on while you get dinner on the table.  It could be something as simple as crackers and peanut butter, celery and peanut butter, apple slices, tortilla chips and salsa.  Set out little plates and limit the little ones, so they’ll be ready to eat dinner, of course, but this will make them much happier while they wait.

So, there you have it – Ponder the needs, Plan the menu and Prepare ahead.  These three steps will get you on your way to Sunday dinner success!

Can I give you a challenge for next Sunday?  Do one thing ahead of time – perhaps set the table, or prepare an hors d’oevre, or get the vegetables prepped on Saturday, and see how much smoother Sunday dinner is next week!

Next Monday we’ll talk about some specific meals that are doable for prepping ahead and eating very soon after getting home!  This will include Crock Pot entree’s and sides!  Be sure to come back so you don’t miss any tips!

Which of these three steps of success is the most difficult for you?

With love from my country kitchen,

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