Monday, March 29, 2010

His Ways

"God knows us so well that he does a number of little providential things at the very moment of our need. We think we have planned and executed everything all by ourselves. We are not aware that it has been God's plan and that He has been out there ahead of us the whole time."

-A.W. Tozer (Jesus, Our Man in Glory)

I love when you look back through your life and just can't help but stop and praise the Lord for his hand in every moment. It's in those moments where you realize the loving care of a Father. How small I feel in the midst of my Savior's plan. These past couple weeks have been a whirlwind of God's plan unfolding, rather rapidly in our life. God has taken us through an incredible journey, and I am so excited to see what He has planned next for me and Bradley as we move to Florida in a couple months. I am reminded of Isaiah 55:8,9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. "

My Guide is the Creator of the Universe! He is infinite while I am finite. What a comfort to know I can rest in the high way's of Christ. God has had a plan for my life before the foundation of the world. To understand the deep realities of this truth I must walk with my Lord. As A. W. Tozer says, "As we trust in the Spirit, live in the Spirit and walk in the Spirit, we will realize that God is always on our side." As we grow closer to our Lord we will realize that "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom 8:31). He holds the whole world in His hands.

I am so excited to serve a God with such power, such authority, such might and such love. My God is High Above.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Preparing for the Knoxville Marathon

For those of you who are impressed right should be. It's taken months of dedication and training to prepare for this event. We even got a sweet t-shirt that says MARATHON.

I wonder if anyone will notice the 5k part...

Since running 1.5 miles is a struggle for me I figured I better "carb load" for the big day to carry me through the entire race. I hope that eating the right foods will give me the super charge I need to make up for my lack of fitness. Not a bad thought process, huh?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Strawberry and Mandarin Orange Salad

I enjoy a great salad with fruit in it. It's even better if it contains feta cheese. This past week Bradley and I visited Daytona Beach and ate at Longhorn Steakhouse. We don't have a Longhorn's in Knoxville and I must say we are missing out! They had a Grilled Chicken and Strawberry Salad which caught my eye because I love salads with strawberries. I do not exaggerate when I say it was hands down the best salad I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

When we returned to Knoxville I went to the grocery store to restock my fridge and pantry. To my delight strawberries were on sale for $1.88! So I stocked up for dinner. My mission for the evening dinner was to recreate the Longhorn Steakhouse experience...really just the salad.


-A spinach lettuce mix. I use a bag of spring mix

-fresh sliced strawberries

-A can of mandarin oranges (in its own juice) drained

-dried cranberries

- Pecans chopped

-Feta Cheese

I don't have any exact measurements to give you but add desired toppings to your own judgement.

The Dressing

Longhorn Steakhouse used a raspberry vinaigrette that was so good. I decided that I could recreate it on my own. I didn't use a measuring cup but you want half the portion to be olive oil and the other half to be the raspberry vinegar. It was pretty good like that but the restaurant's version was slightly sweeter so I added about 1/4 tsp of sugar to about 1 cup of dressing and mixed that all together in a mason jar.

I broiled some chicken to go with it and it was a great dinner.

Ingredients to Add

-Red Onions

-Candied Pecans

-Grapes-so good in the salad! Kroger didn't have grapes though. What?

Hope you enjoy a colorful and sweet salad!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cheesecake Brownies

I love dessert. That sentence is really an understatement. I love dessert more than can be expressed in a single post. Because it is impossible to express my passion for rich, sugary goodness I will simply post a delicious dessert for you to try for your self.

I'm sorry I do not have a picture of the brownies for you. I accidentally deleted them off my camera except for one that contained my face next to the delicious dessert and I decided not to post it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Couscous and Rascal Flatts

Couscous. I just like that word. It's fun to say, for some reason I think of "Gus Gus" from Cinderella and that's the way I say it. My sister-in-law gave me my next adventure (from her friend's blog)... Couscous with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, Edamame & Feta.

So there I stood, in my tiny (but adorable) kitchen with my large skillet heating olive oil, edamame, garlic and red pepper (I actually didn't have the crushed red pepper the recipe called for so I just sprinkled in some spicy seasoning that contained crushed red pepper and called it even).

I then added 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth, basil (I just sprinkled in dry basil, I'm sure it would taste a lot better if you used fresh basil), chickpeas and diced tomatoes. At this point you are suppose to simmer for 15 minutes. So here I am simmering and singing to Pandora radio. I mean, I was really into it (it was country I just can't help it). And then, Rascal Flatts came on "Here Comes Goodbye." And oh man I was singing. The chorus hits, "Here comes goodbye, here comes the last time, Here comes the start of every sleepless night, the first of every tear I'm gonna cry" (eyes close, hand motions for dramatic effect, I'm a one man show I'll tell ya). Buzzer sounds. 15 minutes is up.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Grown-up Applesauce

Apples, cinnamon and sugar, what's not to love? Delicious homemade applesauce that makes your whole home smell wonderful. It is so simple I'm tempted to make it every week.

20 granny smith apples peeled and cored. Bradley cored them all for me. So helpful.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Cherry on Top

According to spiritual gift inventories, my gift is it's not a fake gift I promise! I love having people over, I hope and pray that people feel loved and cherished when they come for dinner, coffee, games, Bible study, or just because. I'm not saying that I am the most creative or even the best host, I simply enjoy good company and new ways to do things... This is an example of a fun but easy way to serve a drink that simply "put's the cherry on top" of any dinner.

Beautiful Gina is drinking cherry 7-up (out of a very pretty glass)...but the ice cubes have cherries in it! How fun is that?

All you do is take a couple of ice trays and a jar of Maraschino Cherries, Place a cherry in each one, and a little of the juice too, and then fill with water. Freeze and then serve!

Make sure whatever drink you are serving (it can be any drink that has a hint of cherry flavor) is already chilled. These ice cubes melt quickly, which is fine because you have cherries floating in your punch or soda, but it doesn't chill a drink really well.

I had some ice cubes left over the next day and I used them in my diet coke and it was delicious! Just a hint of cherry flavor. I felt fancy on a work day, sitting at my desk, sipping a diet coke with cherry ice cubes!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Yum alert!

I love soup. I 've always just made it from a box, the just add water kind (I love lipton chicken noodle). But since I'm on this cooking kick...mainly because I have pressure from my hypothetical blog audience...I discovered that I can make delicious soup on my own, that is only sorta from a box! Yum Yum Yum!

Broccoli-Cheese-Wild Rice Soup

1 (6 ounce) packate chicken-flavored wild rice mix

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli

2 teaspoons dried minced onion

1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup--I used 96% fat free

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, cubed--I used fat free

In a large saucepan, combine rice, rice seasoning packet and 6 cups water.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring once.

Stir in broccoli and onion and simmer 5 minutes.

Stir in soup and cream cheese.

cook and stir until cheese melts.

I also added salt and pepper to taste.

Get a nice big bowl! Enjoy your "hard work" by sitting on your porch, patio or balcony with your soup and a blanket. I just love our balcony. We picked our apartment based upon the view, yes we overlook other apartments, but we also have a pond and a weeping willow tree. Our weeping willow tree is dead at the moment...or in hibernation? And upon it hangs our neighbor's tomato plants, which are also dead. But I love it, because it is our pond and our dead weeping willow tree, and yes, our (neighbor's) tomato plants that I feel an odd but intense loyalty towards. And on our balcony with the lovely view sits the most precious set of patio furniture one has ever laid eyes on. This patio furniture was the first big purchase Bradley and I made after getting married. We bought it half off from World Market (the most amazing store ever created). We purchased it for the sole purpose of enjoying our wonderful view. So...I hope you enjoy your balcony, patio or porch with a big bowl of this soup!

Let me know what you think!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I'm fancy 'cause I make Souffle

Cinnamon Souffle was a success! It is a very simple and delicious breakfast choice. It is perfect for a late Saturday morning breakfast and a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, I made this on a busy Friday morning, and my coffee tasted terrible! Does coffee go bad? Nevertheless, there is nothing better than a leisurely breakfast...well nothing better than a leisurely breakfast that is simple to make.

Cinnamon Souffle

1 loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread

1 (20 ounce) can of crushed pineapple with juice

1 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

5 eggs

-Cut off the crust of the bread and tare into small pieces. Place at the bottom of a 13x9 pan that's been buttered.

-Then pour the crushed pineapple over top

-In a separate bowl beat butter, sugar and eggs together.

-Pour mixture over bread and pineapple.

-Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

*the directions suggests putting a 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top, I didn't have those but that would be delicious!

Serve nice and warm! Enjoy your Saturday! yum.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Life Moments

Last night, Bradley and I went to Fellowship's Artist Connection featuring photography. I enjoyed it so much, such beautiful pictures capturing life moments that can never be revisited. Moments that reflect the wonders, mercies and love of the Creator. It was a joy to see these local photographers expressing their love for our Savior through their God-given passion.

In keeping with the theme of the night, I'm going to post some pictures that mean something to me. Now, I am not a photographer, but I do love taking pictures. The Lord has blessed me with some beautiful moments in my life, and here are a few I've captured.

My first summer (2006) in Mexico my heart forever lost in that country.

Zimbabwe Summer 2008

When elephants became my favorite animal! They are so cool!

I met Farai in a Zim hospital. Her name means Happiness. She passed away after I came home. I will never forget her.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

When I sit down and when I rise up

The Psalms have always been one of my favorite books of the Bible. Each song is so beautiful and has touched my life in so many different ways. I love the psalms because it expresses ranges of emotion and deep truth on the greatness of God. The Psalm writers can go from rejoicing, thanksgiving and worship to confessing sin and fear. These emotions strike close to my heart. One of my all-time favorite is Psalm 139. My mom had me and my sister memorize this and it has always spoken to me.
O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Eating Soup with a Fork

Yesterday morning it snowed for a couple hours and it was just so beautiful it made me want to make some soup! I just love soup on a cold, snowy or rainy day. When it's so dreary outside there is nothing better than a bowl of soup that warms your soul. No, I'm not being cheesy (maybe just a little, I love cheesy-ness), that just happens to be the name of the soup, "Warm-Your-Soul Soup." Yum! And it was warm and tasty! However...I think it might be a little stretch to say it was soup...

I know right? Just a big bowl of pasta drenched in chicken broth... Evidently these directions aren't descriptive enough! Was I suppose to deduct on my own when I poured the fettucini in the pot that I should only use half a box?

Oh wait.....sorry...I just read the directions again (while I was in the process of writing this blog) and MY BAD it does only call for half of a box... Well that explains it! Moral of the story, you should read directions thoroughly and focus on amounts...

...Changing subjects...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Super-simple and semi-tasty

This is my first attempt at a recipe from The Best 1001 Short, Easy Recipes. I made Asian Beef and Noodles. Now I know the title of this blog post is probably not going to make anyone rush out and make this themselves...but it really was good, I just would make a few changes.


1 1/4 Ground beef

2 packages oriental-flavored ramen noodles

1 package frozen oriental stir-fry vegetable mixture

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions.

-Brown the beef (or ground turkey)and drain, I just scootch (sp?) the meat over and dab the fat all off with a paper towel. This prevents me from dirtying up some other pan....oh laziness.

-Add 1/2 cup water, salt and pepper and simmer 10 minutes.

-Then in another skillet (or the same one if you remove the meat) add 2 cups water, veggies, noodles, ginger and both seasoning packets. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.

-cover and simmer for a few minutes or until noodles are tender

I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. I know that's pathetic, it's just stir-fry...but pretty good stir-fry...

-Add the Beef and serve!

Now the first bite I was like, "Oh I did really good!" But as I kept eating I thought it was too beefy. I may be the only person with this problem but I think I'll double the package of vegetables next time and then it will be perfect! The good news is that we ate it for dinner and lunch the next day...What a money saver!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cooking advice...really?

I believe this blog may turn into a cooking blog. I admit, I have a fear of being boxed into a specific topic, and being the free-spirit that I am I want to be able to blog about whatever my little heart desires regardless of my hypothetical audience. According to Blogging for Dummies, having your niche is very important. No, I did not purchase Blogging For Dummies (that would be embarrassing). I simply skimmed it at Borders while Bradley searched for a book on Ancient Greek (admittedly I looked over my shoulder a couple times to make sure that no one I knew would see me reading it. And now I'm blogging about it so my cover is blown).

The next question is if I were to actually attempt a cooking blog (with random off-topic thoughts and posts sprinkled in) could I actually cook?

The answer...well maybe. Bradley is keeping his fingers crossed.

As Bradley and I were exiting Borders yesterday I noticed a clearance rack of cookbooks (insert heavenly melody here). Bradley says he would be willing to purchase yet another cookbook if I'd actually cook. Excited about the thrill of making a purchase I began to skim the cookbooks for anything mouthwatering. And that's where I saw it. THE ONE. The cookbook that may change my life as a newly-married struggling cook, "The Best 1001 Short, Easy Recipes."

I'm sorry to disappoint those who were actually hoping to learn something from this blog. I'm just trying to get dinner on the table! This is not going to be one of those fancy blogs where the writer is an actual chef and cookbook writer. This won't be a blog of an "expert" giving advice to the novice (one of the suggestions in Blogging for Dummies is to blog about your expertise). I'm not cooking my way through Julia Child's cookbook (you can watch the movie "Julie and Julia" for that story). I'm simply attempting to make something edible. I will take the advice of Blogging for Dummies and insert a lot of pictures. Evidently, pictures is what will keep the reader reading.

So I purchased The Best 1001 Short, Easy Recipes cookbook for $7.99. A small price to pay to change my cooking life.
There is one thing more exasperating than a wife who can cook and won't, and that's a wife who can't cook and will. ~Robert Frost