Hostess Gift Guide

Hostess gift

When someone invites you into their home, they’ve gone out of their way to do so.  What do you to do let them know how much you appreciate their kindness and hospitality?  There are lots of creative things to do, and I got to share a few fun/frugal ideas on my daughter’s You tube channel today.  I hope you’ll go here and check out the whole video we did together!

My mind has been reeling since we filmed that video and I’ve thought a whole list of other ideas you could give to say Thank you!

  1. Buy single, large plates as you  find them on sale or at Goodwill shops.  Use them to fill with piles of cookies or goodies.  No need to return the plate!
  2. A special book or cookbook is a long-remembered gift.
  3. Bags of Coffee or a box of Teas, as well as a container of cream, if you know their preference.
  4. Room Spray in a mild fragrance
  5. Bath splurge items – Bath bomb, bubbles or special soap
  6. Special Kitchen soaps and dish cloths
  7. Oven mitts, or hot pads tied together with a pretty ribbon
  8. Olive oil – Even special flavored oils would be nice, accompanied by dipping spices
  9. Bakery or homemade bread and a jar of jam (maybe even also homemade!)
  10. Gift card for a special place for dessert
  11. Pretty pads of paper for kitchen memos and a pen
  12. A guest book for them to log the guests that come into their home.
  13. Cloth napkins
  14. Spices or herbs in pretty jars
  15. Holiday cookie accessories – Sprinkles and/or cookie cutters

Don’t go empty handed this holiday season.  Be a gracious guest and let your hostess how much you appreciate them inviting you into their busy lives and home!

Do you have another suggestion for a hostess gift?

Denise Signature 150 px

 

Seven Questions Before You Take Your Next Step

muck a.jpg

I’ll never forget the funny experience from a few years back.  I was in Nova Scotia to speak at a Ladies’ Retreat – at a special place in my heart with dear ladies I’ve grown to love  (Hello to my Canadian friends!).  It was early spring, and when I left Tennessee it was nice enough to wear white jeans for the journey.  I knew it would still be winter in Canada, so I packed appropriate clothing for my time there, however, my luggage didn’t arrive when I did!

The first difficulty I had to deal with was the “Muck” – the deep, wells of mud that needed to be traversed in order to go from my lodging to any other building on the campsite.  Remember, I was wearing WHITE JEANS.  One of the sweet ladies there loaned me a pair of red galoshes.  So, I tucked my pants into a pair of high socks, slipped my feet into that way-too-big pair of galoshes and headed out the door of my cabin in order to make my way over to the main building where the retreat would take place.  I’ve probably never taken such cautious steps as I did that day, attempting to keep my white pants white, and my feet under me, rather than over my head!

red golashes a.jpg

It was slippery.

It was wet.

It was hilarious!

But I carefully and slowly planted each step into the tracks made by others before me, and somehow I managed to make it to my destination unspotted from the brownish/blackish slime!

That picture of careful footing is truly the attitude and heart I need to have every day, and especially when making decisions.  Ephesians 5:15 tells us to Walk circumspectly (wisely). Proverbs 4:26 reminds us to Ponder the path of our feet.  If you’re at a crossroads and seeking God’s will for choices, here are seven questions that are certainly not exhaustive, but a place where you might start searching to walk wisely, giving careful attention to where you’re putting your foot.

  1. Will this step be one of obedience or disobedience?
  2. Will this step help or hinder my testimony as a child of God?
  3. Will this step help or hinder others from knowing my God?
  4. Will this step push me closer to the Lord or farther away?
  5. Would I invite Jesus to join me in this step, or would I be ashamed?
  6. Could I ask a godly person to pray with me about this step?
  7. Would I turn away from this if it was revealed to me as a wrong choice?

We all want to make it to our destination unspotted from the muck of ungodly choices, and the best part is that the Lord has gone before us to guide our feet.  Don’t stress over the difficulty of the journey; God is there and will keep your steps on the right path as you place one foot in front of the other in obedience to His revealed will.  As a matter of fact, the best part is that this drawing close to God is truly part of the journey.

Are you carefully making wise, godly choices TODAY?

P.S. Don’t wear white jeans in Canada until June!  Lesson learned! Ha!

Walk wisely,

Denise Signature 150 px

From My Mom’s Kitchen

Pork Chop Casserole.jpg

The weekend after Thanksgiving found us in my parent’s home for a two and half day visit.  Spite the fact that I urged my mom not to fuss in the kitchen, she told me she was fixing a meal for Saturday evening that would not keep her in the kitchen for long.

When her meal began roasting in the oven, the smells made me even hungrier, and anxious for a peek at what she was cooking!  What she had prepared was a Pork Chop Casserole that made up pretty much the whole meal.  It had Pork chops, sweet potatoes, and apples layered inside the baking dish.  What a great combination of flavors!  It served up beautifully as she slid the spatula under each pork chop “stack” and placed it on our plates.

It was really delicious!!

She added a salad and bread to round out the meal.  There was no need for snacking that night!

pork chops 2.jpg

With the busy Christmas season upon us, we might be tempted to go out for dinner after busy days of shopping, wrapping, and a long list of holiday events, but with recipes like these, there’s no need!  This simple recipe would be a perfect prep-ahead dish so your family can eat a scrumptious meal at home.  I’ve renamed it from simply Pork Chop Casserole to Busy Day Pork Chop Casserole.  Here’s the recipe:

Pork Chop Casserole

6 Pork chops
4 Sweet potatoes
4 Tart apples
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
1/8 tsp sage

Directions:

Peel and slice potatoes.  Without peeling, cut apples into thick slices.  Place the potatoes in a  greased baking dish and sprinkle with salt.  Add the apples, sugar, and cinnamon.  Arrange the pork chops on the apples and season with remaining ingredients.  Add 1/4 cup hot water and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until pork chops are well done.

My mom always sets a gorgeous table.

pork chops 3.jpg

It was delicious.  It was lovely.  It was typical of my mom’s kitchen.

She’s a great cook and a gracious hostess.

I hope you’ll put this dish on your busy calendar/menu!  The flavors are perfect and you’ll have it ready for the oven in minutes!

Denise Signature 150 px

My Dressing Room

I love outfit posts and I think many other women do too!  But there is one part of dressing that has to come first, and that’s the preparing of our heart for the day before us.  It’s the most important part of my day and I thought I’d share a little glimpse of how I spend that time.

I may add that I often also read a devotional type book and review memory verses that I’m either learning or just keeping fresh in my mind.  What  a rich time this is each day, and oh, what I miss when I hurry past it!

Next week a post is coming that will answer the question, “How do I know what to read in the Bible each day?”

Do you have a Quiet time?  If so, what do you do?  

Denise Signature 150 px

Enjoying December Without Stress

December 1.jpg

The Thanksgiving crumbs have been swept up, the fall decor tucked safely away into storage bins, and the leftovers are finally gone. You sit down to take a moment’s rest and you see your December calendar with red reminders flashing at you brighter than Rudolph’s “nose so bright!”  The realization that there is barely time to breathe in the next month can cause anxiety, stress and even dread for what should be the most joyous time of year.

How do I know this?  I was there…the day after Thanksgiving!

I began to let my mind go to what needed to be completed by the end of next week, and I jumped into panic mode, sending texts, making lists and allowing a flurry of palpitations to pound my heart.  But then I stopped in my Prayer Closet and took those needs to the Lord. He quieted me.  He turned my heart to the thanks I had given Him only hours before as we praised him around the bounty of our table.  I had praised Him for satisfying my mouth with good things, for always being enough for every trial.  Will He not also guide me through the maze of events and plans in December, too?

Psalm 104:34 – My meditation of Him will be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord. 

When I choose to look at Christ, and give Him my schedule, the demands breathing down my neck like the leviathan mentioned in verse 26, I am made glad in the Lord.  My memory of what He has done in the past is sweet and it calms my heart and reminds me to trust in Him today…and every day of the Christmas month.

If you’re already getting anxious about all that is coming at you in this next month, can I encourage you to do what seems counter-productive, and stop!  Stop to pray and ask God to give you wisdom to use your time carefully.  Ask for strength to accomplish only what He wants you to do.  Ask for the understanding of when to say “No.”  Many times we’re stressed because we’re doing things we shouldn’t have taken on.  

Let’s enjoy this month that we look so forward to all year.  It will be gone before we know it.  Let’s finish the year strong in the Lord each day of December!

Denise Signature 150 px

Hiding the wind

backyard sky a

The storm that blew through our back patio left evidence of very strong winds. The porch swing was now in our neighbor’s yard. Chairs and outside decor was scattered in the grass and tall weeds across the road. We never saw the wind herself, of course, but its destruction left ugly reminders that she had passed our way.

As we stood at the door and watched the storm blow through, is it possible that we could have stepped outside and stopped the wind?

No way.

Proverbs 27:16 tells us that whoever can hide a contentious wife can also hide the wind. In other words, just as impossible as it would be to stop the wind, so it is impossible to stop a contentious woman from her unbridled actions. The next part of the verse also tells us it’s like oil slipping through fingers – you cannot stop it.

This descriptive picture is such a good warning to my own heart. I can cause much destruction in my home and in the lives of those around me if I don’t stop the contentions – the irritations – in my heart from being turned into actions and words.

May each of us guard our hearts and our tongues today so that when others around us hear our words and watch our lives, they won’t be fearful of the destruction left in their path, but they can rejoice that they were in our presence.

I love beautiful clear skies and sunny days! I pray that my influence in others’ lives will be that kind of refreshment, rather than the stormy winds that are dreaded and destructive!

We each need to ask ourselves if we are leaving devastation like the wind or delight like the sun (or perhaps we should ask those that spend time with us each day)!  We’ll need to listen with a humble heart and a willingness to change, if necessary. It wouldn’t do to blow up like an unpredicted storm!

With whom do you need to be especially careful ?  Ask the Lord to help you respond in love towards them today.

Denise Signature 150 px

 

First Runner-Up Peanut Pie

Peanut Pie 1a

If you love peanuts, I mean,  if you adore them, then you will love the new recipe I tried from Southern Living’s November issue!  I mentioned last week that I was scouring recipes for a pie fellowship we were having at church.  I finally settled on the Georgia Peanut Pie with Peanut Butter filling and Brown Sugar Whipped Cream.  That’s a mouthful, but just wait until you taste the pie!  It’s a rich, peanut pie that will leave you smacking your lips and glad that you ate only a little slice!  It is quite rich, but hey, isn’t that what dessert is for?

This recipe is easy when it’s done in a couple days.  Do the crust.  Go have lunch with friends, wash up the Thanksgiving linens, take a walk, then come back the next day and make the filling.  Later in the day make the whipped cream.  It’s easy when taken step by step.  Here are some pics of the process for the crust:

peanut crust
Click on picture to enlarge.  To make the scalloped edge, I used the tip of a spoon!

 

Georgia Peanut Pie with Peanut Butter Crust

PEANUT BUTTER CRUST

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocktail peanuts or dry-roasted salted peanuts
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon cold shortening, cubed
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

PEANUT BUTTER FILLING

  • 1 1/4 cups packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk or half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup sorghum syrup, pure cane syrup, or dark corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups cocktail peanuts or dry-roasted salted peanuts

BROWN SUGAR WHIPPED CREAM

  • 1 cup cold whipping cream or heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

How to Make It

Step 1

Prepare the Peanut Butter Crust: Combine flour, peanuts, brown sugar, and salt in bowl of a food processor; process until peanuts are ground and mixture is combined. Add butter, peanut butter, and shortening, and pulse until mixture resembles small peas, 10 to 12 times. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons ice water over top of mixture. Pulse 4 times. Add up to 2 more tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition until dough just begins to clump together. Remove dough from processor; shape and flatten into a disk. Wrap disk in plastic wrap, and chill 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place chilled dough disk on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle dough with flour. Top with another piece of parchment paper. Roll dough into a 13-inch circle. Remove and discard top sheet of parchment. Starting at 1 edge of dough, wrap dough around rolling pin, separating dough from bottom sheet of parchment as you roll. Discard bottom sheet of parchment. Place rolling pin wrapped with dough over a 9-inch (1 1/2-inch-deep) glass pie plate. Unroll dough, and gently press it into pie plate. Trim dough, leaving 1/2-inch overhang; fold edges under, and crimp.

Step 3

Prepare Peanut Butter Filling: Stir together brown sugar, flour, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Stir in melted butter. Whisk eggs well in a medium bowl; whisk in milk, sorghum, and vanilla. Add peanut butter; whisk until blended. Spoon filling into prepared piecrust. Sprinkle peanuts over top, and place pie on a rimmed baking sheet.

Step 4

Bake in preheated oven 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F, and bake until puffed and golden brown and until center is set, 45 to 55 minutes, shielding edges with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning, if necessary. Transfer pie to a wire rack, and cool completely, about 2 hours.
Step 5
Prepare the Brown Sugar Whipped Cream: Using chilled beaters and a large chilled bowl, beat whipping cream with an electric mixer on high speed until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, and beat until well combined. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Peanut Pie 1
I wish I had taken a picture of the sliced pie. The inside is creamy and smooth!! It’s a perfect balance with the crunchy peanuts on top!

This is a great pie!  As a matter of fact, it landed the First Runner-Up award at our pie contest at church!  A yummy Apple Crumb pie came in first and deserved it!!

peanut pie 8.jpg

Make this for the peanut lover in your life!!

Did you make any new recipes over Thanksgiving that were “Award-winning” with your family?  They’re the ones who count!!

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px