Dates · Refreshment in marriage · summertime

Family Friday – My Favorite Summertime Dates

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The sand drawing above is an annual event that my husband started doing years ago when we first started taking vacations to the beach.  He draws our initials in the sand, dates it, draws a heart around it and then we get a picture.  It always makes a memory and I think it also speaks to other people, too.  As a matter of fact, when this one was taken, several people, including a child, walked towards it, then nearly stumbled when they saw the drawing, not wanting to trample through it.  Of course it would have been fine, but it was like they felt were desecrating soemthing sacred and they wanted to help us preserve it. But I wonder, do we as couples trample over and desecrate our marriage relationship by not stopping to consider what we need to do to preserve it?

Right at the top of that list is making sure that we spend time together…we continue to date our spouse.  There are lots of fun things to do on dates in the summertime, and many of them cost very little! Here are some of our favorites:

  • Drives.  Whether we drive through the country, or an ocean city while on vacation, we love to drive through subdivisions or streets and look at homes and landscaping.  We turn on some music, roll down the windows and drive slowly.  It’s fun to see what others have done to their homes and also dream about what we might do because of ideas gleaned on our drive.
  • Back porch dates – Those cool patio lights make the perfect setting for a movie on your laptop or tablet out there, accompanied by popcorn or a treat!
  • Backyard dates – We pull out the  croquet, badminton or other yard game and enjoy some friendly competition.
  • Bike rides – So many places offer great trails.  Sometimes we even pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the ride and lunch along the path!
  • Ice Cream Dates – The only thing we ever order from McDonald’s is their soft serve ice cream.  We also love Chick-fil-A’s cones.  Often we’ll buy a half gallon when it’s marked down, and enjoy a cone outside on the swing.
  • Yard sales – We like to make a mental list of things we’ll look for – a piece of furniture for the patio, books, or antiques for decorating.  We load up on quarters and $1 bills and head out, newspaper in hand and scavange for the best deals on those items.

Don’t trample over your marriage this summer; make time to create favorite dates and times with your spouse!

Do you and your spouse have any traditions like our drawing in the sand that you do? What  fun plans are you making for this summer? 

Refresh your marriage,

Denise Signature 150 px

Appetizer · hospitality · summertime

peppers 1a

My dream of being a gardener is happening slowly, but at the steady pace of a novice.  I really have not much of an idea what I’m doing.  My husband is becoming quite the green thumb, too, as he helps plant, water and harvest our little raised beds. We have three now, and I was so excited to receive my newest edition of Southern Living this weekend and find an article about raised bed gardening! I really want to expand each year.  There’s just something so special about growing herbs, flowers and vegetables that you get the pleasure of using in your home and cooking!

One plant that was producing quite well last week was our Banana pepper plant.  I like them pickled, but I wondered how I could use them fresh.  Wellllll, I found a special appetizer that was A.Maz.Ing!

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These sweet peppers got filled with a little cream cheese mixture that had sweet red pepper, red onion, Cheddar Cheese, diced cherry tomatoes and a little salt and pepper.  I kept it mild.  There are some recipes that call for hot peppers, but we aren’t crazy about those spicy varieties.  So for our tastes, we kept it on the sweet and savory side, and it was wonderful!  I forgot to mention that the pepper gets wrapped in a little blanket of bacon before it’s popped under the broiler for a few minutes!  If you need a killer appetizer for a summer party, this is it!  Here’s the recipe and a little tip as to how I put mine together.

Cheese-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Banana Peppers

  • 6 large banana peppers
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes – I used cherry tomatoes for sweetness!
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ½ small sweet red bell pepper, diced
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 thick cut bacon slices, cut in half – I found that 1/2 slice of bacon was plenty for each pepper,but if you want to go crazy with the bacon, use a slice for each pepper.
Directions:
  1. Cut tops off banana peppers. Remove seeds.
  2. Combine cheddar cheese, cream cheese, tomato, onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Fill a small plastic bag with the cheese mixture.  Cut a hole, about 1/2 inch in one corner.  Squeeze the cheese mixture into the peppers. (See picture below)
  4. Wrap with bacon slice. Secure with a toothpick. Place on a rack with broiler pan. Broil for 4-5 minutes per side until golden and oozing.

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If you have access to banana peppers, you need to try these appetizers.  They’re so good you might want to make them the main course!

Who else is gardening this summer?  What are you growing?

With love from my country kitchen,

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home · Home decor · Refreshment · refreshment at home · seasonal decor · summertime

Refreshing Ideas for Summer

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My blog’s purpose is to refresh women in their hearts, homes, and lives.  This week I want to focus my posts on specific ways to refresh you and your home this summer!  Here are a list of ideas to get you started!

This wonderful warm weather and sunshine is a sweet reminder that summer is here!  Woo-hoo!  It’s time to add some summer charm to your home and your life.  Here are a few suggestions to refresh you this summer!

  • Gather all the old issues of magazines from the summer months.  Scour through them and get some fresh ideas for your yard, a summer wreath, refreshing and cool treats for the summer, and places to visit.
  • Plan to head to your Farmer’s market this weekend for fresh berries and see what other goodies they may have to offer!
  • Pick up some pieces of china at a yard sale.  Fill a basket with mismatched china, vintage tablecloth and napkins and have it ready for an impromptu picnic.
  • If you have a clothesline, hang your sheets outside.
  • Fix up your back deck or patio so it’s inviting for summer breakfast, lunch and/or dinners!  Set out some containers of flowers, add party lights, add pillows to your chairs and porch swing, add a blanket for an evening view of the summer sky!
  • Add some pretty ribbon or twine to your hand-held garden tools so you can hang them in a convenient place.
  • Put a cotton quilt on the grass in the shade and read to your children.  Enjoy lunch out there too!

I hope one or more of these ideas will refresh these summer days for you!  Which one spoke to you?

Denise Signature 150 px

dessert · Make-Ahead · summertime

No-Churn Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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On this (L)Oven Monday, I’m sharing a recipe that has NOTHING to do with the oven!  This is all about cold, creamy homemade ice cream!  I’m thinking that homemade ice cream is dying.  That makes me sad.  Very sad!  Sure, store-bought is cheap, easy and good, but there’s something really special about making up your own flavors at home!!  You don’t have an ice cream freezer?  Then this recipe is especially for you!

No ice cream could be easier!  I found this recipe on Pinterest and had to try it because it just seemed too good to be true.  Now mind you, this doesn’t take the place of home-churned ice cream, but it is a great second!  The ingredients are few and the method is simple!  Check out this easy recipe!!

No-Churn Peppermint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS
2 cup Heavy Cream
14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
Red or Pink Food Coloring (if desired)
1 cup Miniature Chocolate Chips
1 tsp Peppermint Extract

DIRECTIONS
Whip heavy cream and peppermint extract until stiff peaks form.
Beat in condensed milk.
Add food color and beat until color is uniform.
Fold in chocolate chips (reserve a few to sprinkle on top).
Spread mixture in loaf pan.
Distribute remaining chocolate chips on top.
Place in freezer for at least 5 hours.

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It’s as easy as these these pictures show!

This would be great served with these brownies or between two cookies or in a dish all by itself!  This is one of those great do-ahead desserts.  Mix it up, pop it into the freezer the night before you’re having company, and boom!  Homemade dessert is served!

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Who owns a freezer and makes homemade ice cream?  
Who’s going to try this simple recipe?

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baking · children · Crafts · Family life · home · memories · Motherhood · summertime · Uncategorized

Summer Fun Series (Day Two)

Here we go – another list of fun things for children to enjoy during summer months:

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This clever treasure box, which is organized around the principle that anything goes, has ample room for plastic bags of beach sand, seed packets, subway tokens, maps, sea glass, photos, finger paintings, invitations or even a tiny book of best friends’ autographs.

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Start with a sturdy cardboard box (one with a lid), which your child can label with his name and the date. As he amasses odds and ends, he can tuck them inside or, if he prefers, glue some onto the outside of the box. To give the box a durable finish, brush on a coat of white glue thinned with water or cover with Con-Tact paper.

Make Homemade balls:

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CRAFT MATERIALS:
9 (11-inch) balloons (for 3 balls)
Funnel
2 1/4 cups of dried lentils
Scissors
Time needed: Under 1 Hour
1. Stretch the first balloon by inflating it halfway, holding it closed for about 30 seconds, and deflating it. 2. Place a funnel in the balloon’s neck and gradually pour in 3/4 cup of lentils, pushing them in as you go. The balloon should be firm but squeezable. 3. Snip off the balloon’s thick rubber lip. Cut the neck off a second balloon and gently stretch the opening. 4. Ease the second balloon over the filled balloon, tucking in the neck as you go. 5. Cut the neck off the third balloon, stretch the opening, and ease it over the other two. Repeat this process to make a set of three balls, or however many you’d like.
How about making some cute cupcakes on the day your grass gets cut? What a yummy reward!  Or make these for a great Father’s Day treat! This idea was on Family Fun web site.

lawn mower cupcake
RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
Chocolate-frosted cupcakes
Coconut, flaked
Green food coloring
Hershey’s Nuggets
M&M’s
Frosting
Black licorice laces
1. For each cupcake, mix a handful of flaked coconut with a few drops of green food coloring. Press a chocolate-frosted cupcake into the coconut to cover. 2. The mower is made with a dark chocolate Hershey’s Nuggets body, brown M&M’s wheels, and a red M&M’s engine, held in place with dabs of frosting. 3. Shape the handle from a piece of black licorice lace, then insert the ends into the cupcake.

Make a simple version of homemade ice cream –

What you’ll need:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup milk or half & half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons rock salt
1 pint-size plastic food storage bag (e.g., Ziploc)
1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
Ice cubes

How to make it:
Fill the large bag half full of ice, and add the rock salt. Seal the bag.
Put milk, vanilla, and sugar into the small bag, and seal it.
Place the small bag inside the large one, and seal it again carefully.
Shake until the mixture is ice cream, which takes about 5 minutes.
Wipe off the top of the small bag, then open it carefully. Enjoy!

Tips:
A 1/2 cup milk will make about 1 scoop of ice cream, so double the recipe if you want more. But don’t increase the proportions more that that — a large amount might be too big for kids to pick-up because the ice itself is heavy.

Don’t forget some of the good ol‘ standby summer fun things, such as:

  • Hopscotch on the driveway
  • Hula hoops
  • Sprinkler or water hose jump rope
  • Cardboard boxes – find a refrigerator box and let the kids make a playhouse or puppet stage
  • Make Popsicles
  • Play hide and seek just as it’s getting dark. Use flashlights to tag!
  • Don’t forget the library. There are so many fun things to do there!

Enjoy…summer’s going to be gone before we know it and we’ll be pulling out the sweaters!

Denise Signature 200 px

children · Family life · home · Motherhood · summertime

Summer Fun Series (Day One)

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Hello friends, this week’s series is concerning summer ideas.  On Friday I’ll have a suggestion and a fresh post for couples’ summer ideas.  Each day this week will be posts with great lists of things to do with children during the summer months, especially.  So, whether you’re a mom, a babysitter or a grandparent who will be hosting grandchildren during the summer, these posts will give you TONS of great ideas to have at your fingertips!  Enjoy!

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Does this picture put a chill in your spine? This was last winter – a snowy winter for East Tennessee. I thought summer would never get here! Well, we’re now experiencing mid-summer weather with temps in the 90’s, but I am not complaining!

I love going outside with no coat on, having flowers blooming in my yard, and the fact that it’s still light outside at 9:00! I love having local fresh vegetables and fruits that are sweet and tender. I love the sight of lightening bugs at night and the sound of the cicadas in the trees. I love swinging on my swing on the deck early in the morning or late in the evening. I just love summer! I hope you’re enjoying it too.

Psalm 74:17 Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.

Just in case you’re a mom who needs some ideas to keep your children busy this summer, I thought I would post some great suggestions I found in a home and garden publication.

  1. Make a summer scrapbook. Include everything–even the little stuff. The price tag from your fave sundress, amusement park ticket stubs, photo booth pics of you and the crew and vacation postcards are all awesome additions to your book. It’ll be a summer you’ll never forget.

 

  1. Grow a green thumb! Purchase some packets of flower seeds–cosmo, poppy, sunflower (unsalted, of course!)–and plant them in your own garden patch. Tending to your sprouts will keep you super-busy, and it’s oh-so satisfying to watch as your blooms blossom.

 

  1. Rent a tandem bike for a day. It’s a bicycle built for-two. Grab a pal, hop on and pedal off for some good laughs: Yeah, it’s goofy…. So what?

 

  1. Head for the nearest gumball machine. Now, get four gumballs for a buck for you and each of your girls, and have a contest to see who blows the biggest bubble.

 

  1. Hit the kiddie section of the dollar store, and buy a few bottles of soapy bubbles. You’re never too old to blow bubbles!

 

  1. Buy some zany sunglasses and wear them in public. They can be ultra-glam, ultra-goofy, ultra-big, ultra-anything! The trick is to find a pair that really attracts attention. You’re guaranteed to have an ultra-hilarious day!

 

  1. Play the claw machine two times for a buck. You know–the one in which you try to pluck prizes with a mechanical crane. Yeah, it’s usually a waste of money… but it’s sooo irresistible!

 

  1. Fly a kite on a windy day. Haven’t flown a kite since you were a tot? You’re missing out! It’s not easy to keep that thing gracefully floating up there–but that’s what makes it challenging! Fly your kite on the beach or in an open field, where the wind is often at its strongest mph.

 

  1. Go backyard camping. Call your pals, pitch a tent, grab some sleeping bags, and head out your back door. OK, you’ll have to forget about the campfire, but that’s no reason to forgo the traditional campfire songs and tales. Have a blast sleeping under the stars-while enjoying the indoor plumbing just steps away!

 

  1. Become a bookworm. Make it a goal to finish off a certain number of books this summer. Pick a genre you’ve never tried before–biographies or historical fiction–and then stake out a few reading spots. Climb a tree, stretch out on the porch swing, or even curl up on the couch on a rainy day.

 

  1. Visit the library for the afternoon; it’s cool in there and you can occupy yourself with books, magazines, computers, story time, etc.

 

  1. Have a water fight. Get all your pals together, and designate teams. Then grab your water guns, water balloons, buckets, hoses and whatever else you’ve got…and ATTACK!

 

  1. Catch fireflies in a jar. Make yourself an all-natural lightning-bug strobe-light lantern for the evening. Don’t forget to throw in a few blades of grass and poke holes in the lid. Just be sure to let them go after a few hours!

 

  1. Become a volunteer at your local nursing home. Your electric smile and enthusiastic personality will have folks at the local home uplifted in no time. Spending even an hour a week playing board games or just talking with residents whose families can’t (or don’t) visit makes a big difference in their lives. Oh, and the stories they tell!

 

  1. Start a  cool collection. It doesn’t matter what you collect–just pick something you like, and go for it! Sea glass, shells and bottle caps are popular summer collectibles. Or be a collector of something totally unique, like ceramic cats, cute bandannas or vintage buttons. To get into the collecting groove, visit a local museum and check out its collections for inspiration.

 

  1. Play tag–in the rain. Why stay indoors just because the sun’s not shining? Nothing screams summer like a game of soggy tag. Running around in the rain (um, as long as there’s no thunder and lightning!!!) is a great way to cool down.

 

  1. Set up a lemonade stand.

 

  1. Make homemade play dough.

 

  1. Get a cardboard appliance box and turn it into a playhouse.
  1. Go bowling. Some lanes have special rates on certain days of the week.

What other things are you doing to have a great summer?  Make some memories today, remember, you’re not promised tomorrow.

Happy summer memories to you!

Denise Signature 150 px

Family life · Husband · memories · Mentoring · Refreshment · Refreshment in marriage · summertime

Our North Myrtle Beach Favorites

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As you may have read, my husband and I were on vacation last week.  We love the North Myrtle Beach area because it’s relatively quiet (especially in late April!).  They’ve added lots of great shopping and restaurants in that area, too, making it one of our favorite places to retreat!  Today I am sharing some of our favorite places and activities when we’re there!

Walking/Running on the beach.

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We love to get up early and walk/run while the sun rises.  It’s invigorating, it’s beautiful and it’s fun!  Time together strolling later in the day is also fun.  Hand in hand, we stop for a look at the pier or a beautiful shell, or to watch the parasailors do their thing.  It’s just so relaxing to walk the shoreline!

Enjoying an ocean front room.

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We spend lots of time on the balcony.  I had my quiet time out there each morning.  We ate our meals out there.  The door is kept open so we can hear the beach any time we’re in the room!  Being ocean-front is like living ON the beach without the sand!

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Eating at Fun restaurants.

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There’s a breakfast place we love – Golden Griddle.  It’s so inexpensive, but the food is great.  I always order from the kids menu and it’s plenty of food for the morning!  There’s always a line out the door, letting you know it’s really good (and worth waiting for!)

We also make sure we eat at Sea Captain’s House.  Their hush puppies alone make it worth the visit!  We had salmon fixed with a Southern twist and it was delicious!  We always share a meal and both of us are filled!!  The view from the window is spectacular!

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Another favorite place not pictured is California Pizza.  The pizza is great, but we also love the atmosphere of sitting in their open air restaurant and enjoying the sights and sounds around us!

Time together!

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What’s better than not feeling in a hurry to get to the next thing?  Time together at the beach is great for our marriage, even as empty-nesters!

The sky!

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These pictures are totally unfiltered.  Every day the view is different and beautiful, pointing to an Awesome Creator!

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We’re home and back into ministry and our daily routines, but how fun it is to look back at our pictures and remember our time away.

How good the Lord is that we vacation at the beach and come home to the mountains! We are indeed blessed!

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Where do you love going on vacation?  What do you do to refresh yourself?

Thanks for stopping in to see our vacation favorites!

Denise Signature 150 px