Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'm Making Some Progress!

There's one little bright spot in the current chaos of what is my living room.
It's this little deal pickle.

James & Riley bought me this oregano plant as part of my Valentine's Day gifts.
I just love it.
I took it out of it's pink cellophane paper & wrapped it in, of course, burlap!
I slipped the green bow that came with it right back on & viola, love at first sight.
My lil' birdie just sweetens the deal.

Now, for the chaos ...

I'm in the process of, well, redecorating!
It looks like I'm packing up & moving out, but alas, I'm here a while longer.
My country home awaits ... still...someday ;)

I got me some boxes & I've begun taking down 
I just need to see bare walls for a few days so I can rethink my decor choices. 
And then, I'll do some shopping.
I'll mostly shop my house. 
My game plan:  A fresh 'new' look mostly using my existing favorite items. 
I just want to mix it up a bit. 

See, bare walls ... & clutter.
That's what we've got going on around here ;)

I'm giving myself permission to GET RID OF.
No more keeping any decor that I am not thrilled to see

For the rest of the shopping, I'll visit my favorite stores for a few new {or old} odds & ends pieces.
The big to-do, however, will be the stop at the fabric store.
You see, I think I'm ganna make me some curtains.
Funny thing is ... I don't sew!
James bought me a sewing machine for Christmas though, & she's about to be put to good use!
And bless his heart, James is probably going to be the one showing me how to use it!
It's his 'hidden' talent ... shhhh...don't tell.
Sewing is not the manly-est thing activity on the planet, after all.

I'm also planning to make some new pillows.
That'll be my machine's maiden voyage.
 I'll be sure to show you pics of my sewing disasters along the way. 

All in all, I'm pretty excited.
I rearranged my living room furniture this week, as a start.
It feels really nice & open again with the new arrangement.

Today, I'm planning to get a few things back on the walls ...
some of those things I know I can't live without seeing

Course, our family pics are at the top of the list.
I love these 4 guys {& a dog} ... & when they are gone working long days,
well, they're really not 'gone' ...all I have to do is look at these pics to see all their sweet faces.
Yep, these are one of 'those things' I can't live without seeing

I have to admit, these gorgeous wrap canvases have presented a bit of a decor dilemma.
They are a bit more 'mod' than my usual style {I'm a old chippy, chunky 'frame' kind of girl} ...
so I've tinkered here & there with getting just the right accessories to coordinate with them.
One of these times, I'm ganna get it just right.
Hope it's this time ;)

Well, I'm not getting anything accomplished by sitting here chatting with all of you, so ...get busy I must.

Happy Thursday all~

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Skinny Cake

We've been getting healthy around here & with that, we've been trying a variety of new recipes.
We totally hit the jackpot with this one.
I've made it several times, shared it several times, & have gotten rave reviews every.single.time.
It's super easy & my favorite things about it, it's SO moist!

Here's all you need:
1 box cake mix & 12 ounces of diet soda.

That's it!
No eggs, no oil, no water ... the dry cake mix & soda.

It doesn't matter what flavor cake or what flavor soda.
You pick what suits you or use what you have in your pantry.

I've made the chocolate with Coke Zero, french vanilla with diet Cherry 7-Up,
butter pecan with diet cream soda ...the possibilities are endless.

Mix the 2 ingredients together & pour into a 9 x 13 pan sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake for 25 minutes at 350.
{If you'd prefer cupcakes, this makes approximately 24}

I frost my cake with one of these 2 options ... whichever I'm in the mood for:

8 ounce tub of Cool Whip   OR
8 ounce tub of Cool Whip mixed with 1 small box of instant fat free/sugar free dry pudding mix

The cake has a similar taste & fluffiness as an angel food cake ...
so to me, it tastes great to me absolutely plain with no icing at all.

**Calories for 1 cupcake {or a similar size piece of cake} iced w/cool whip pudding mixture = 110!

Thus the name:  Skinny Cake!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Facebook Tips

I enjoy Facebook.
I really do.
Here's me on my own little FB page.

I like to see posts & pics from my family all across the United States.
I enjoy reading spiritual & encouraging quotes ... & testimonies of the goodness of God
in the lives of my friends & family.

I do, however, tire of some of the nonsense ... the drama ...
Know what I mean?

There's the 'blah blah posts' about how many brand-name purses 
& jeans/jean skirts one has accumulated.
And the 'poor me posts' about never having enough money, 
or never getting to go anywhere ...
how they are under-appreciated ...
 or how their husband isn't doing this or that like he should.

Then there's the 'check-in' folks ;)
You are at Texas Roadhouse ... again?!
For serious, you're at the tanning bed?!
Ha one seems to ever 'check in' at Walmart.
Most just want us to know when they are at someplace hooty-tooty ...
And yes, most of us have caught on by now ;)

Tehe yes, I am poking fun at some FB posts, 
but my theory is that anyone can/should post on their page as they'd like to.
That's the beauty of it ... it's a personal page.
There's too many self-appointed FB police that try to regulate what others post.
I say, if you want to post 100 pics of food, or of yourself ... 
or daily quotes that your little kiddos say, then you go right ahead!

There is such a thing as general social media ettiquette, though,
& some are just not as conscious of it as they should be.
Some lack in social graces, political correctness, tact, & manners.
Since I can't regulate what other's post, I must be a responsible FB user, 
& choose what's best for me to see on a regular basis.
{Some of the above mentioned 'giggles' are not so bad when posted in moderation.}

With all that being said, here are a few ways that have helped me deal
with some of the issues with being user of social media/FB.

1)  Use the DELETE button.

If you have too many complainers, cussers, & problem-causers, delete them.
Pretty simple.
I'm under no obligation to add or keep anyone who isn't 'healthy' or uplifting.
My criteria:  are they more of a negative influence than a positive one?

2)  If it's your brother/sister/cousin & you don't want to delete them, 
but also don't want to see their nonsense, use the HIDE button.
Hide them from your newsfeed.
This way, they can see your positive posts (hint, hint) but you do not have to see 
any of their negative ones.

I have a few situations like this.
So, every now & then, I visit their page for a 'hello & how are you.'
I really do love 'em.
I just don't wanna see their immodest pics, read their vulgar post ... 
& basically watch their lives unravel on FB.
Makes me sad.

3)  Regulate your time spent on FB!

Here's my #1 tip ... & the main reason I wrote this whole blog post to start with.
If you think you are spending too much time on FB, turn off the ticker on the side!

I turned mine off as soon as fb added it.  
I'm not compelled to know what everyone else is commenting on, liking, & looking at.  
Truthfully, I'm just not that intrigued with everyone elses lives, especially when
it's people that aren't on my friend's list or ... people I don't even know!
It borderlines on being a 'Nosy Rosy' ... & almost seem a bit stalkerish to me.  

In fact, I'd say it's probably not in anyone's best interest to be that concerned 
with what everyone else is doing/looking at/posting on.  
Might be a symptom of a bigger problem.  

If you are held captive to the info 'ticker' that's constantly updating 
who is doing what on FB, turn it off!
Try disconnecting from some of the FB activity & connecting more with your own family.  
Stop trying to keep up with what so-and-so is doing & where they are going.
Instead, try just keeping up with your own page, your own friends/family 
& I have a feeling, not only will you cut down on the time spent on FB, 
your mind will not be so cluttered with all the other riff-raff.

And wouldn't you know it, even the Bible has something to say  
right along these same lines.

Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, 
and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, 
saying what they should not.  
1 Timothy 5:13

And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs...
1 Thessalonians 4:11

But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief 
or an evildoer or as a meddler. 
1 Peter 4:15

Say whaaat?
The Bible somewhat equates a murderer ... & a meddler?!
The tongue can kill ...  it can destroy.
Hmm...makes me want to steer clear from meddling. 

#4   I keep my instant messenger option turned off.
If someone wants to contact me, they can private message me, 
send me an email, text or call me.
This enables me to respond when it's convenient for me ...
& not to be roped into a long IM convo when I don't have the time to spare.

#5   I choose to NOT be on FB when my husband & children are home.

I like my evenings to be filled with face to face conversations with my hubs/sons 
who've been gone to work all day.
I do most all my computer work {blogging, email, FB, etc} during my own free time
during the day.
That way, when they are home, I am giving them my full, undivided attention.
The same applies to them.
They do not stay on their iphones when they are at home.
Thankfully, they've never been 'one of those people' who constantly are on their phones.
That drives me ca-razy.
It's rude & annoying.

**If you are a working mom & are outside the home during the day, 
you may have to check emails, FB, blogs, etc during the evening, as your only option.
That's completely understandable, as long as it's not taking away from your family who needs you.
As with anything, prioritize & use your time wisely.

Sooo, to wrap things up ...
It really boils down to using common sense & moderation.

Treat others like you want to be treated.
Be kind ... kindness goes a looong way.
Be positive & uplifting ... don't suck the life out of people by a complaining & hateful spirit.
Shut your computer off ... & get off your phone every now & again.
Stop trying to keep up with 'the Jones' via FB.

There's good & bad with almost anything.
Learn what works for you, use discipline & stick with it.



Saturday, February 23, 2013

Easter Wreath

The sun is shining today!
Easter is only 5 weeks away.

Those are the only two reasons I needed to put together my 'new' Easter wreath.
Oh no ... I didn't need much prompting ... not much prompting at all ;)

Here's how we arrived at this pretty lil' thing:

I took a wreath that I've used for at least 3 previous seasons.
It looked like this.

Last year, I added the pops of bright green to freshen up my little faded clearance special.
I figured that would tide me over one more year ... until I found another after-the-season deal.

To it, I added this adorable sign that I bought after Easter last year for 90% off at Kroger.
It set me back a whopping .79!

I love it ... especially since it has some pink.
{Four males live in my house, thus the lack of pink in my decor.}

Together, it makes for a cute spring wreath & on the cheap!

Now, out to the flower bed to take down my snowman yard flag lest the neighbors think I'm bi-polar.

Woohoo ... 24 days til spring!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Avocado Chicken Salad

This recipe is all over Pinterest.
It called my name since I first laid eyes on it.
See, I love chicken salad!
And even though I use the very.same.recipe my sister & niece use,
mine never tastes as yummy as theirs.

I also love avocados!
I like 'em in guacamole ... oh yea.
I also like them on sandwiches.
They just take things to a whole new level, sandwich-wise.
Don't you think?

So, what could be wrong with an avocado chicken salad?
That's right ... a whole lot of nothing!

Here's my version of this delight.

When I make chicken salad, I make a large batch ... it keeps well in the fridge.
In the slow cooker, place 4-6 chicken breasts, seasoned with salt & pepper.
Add 1/2 c. water & cook on low for 4-6 hours.
You want these babies totally falling apart.

Shred into fine, fine pieces.

In my food processor, I blended together 2 avocados, a fistful of cilantro,
the juice of 2 limes, & a sprinkle of salt & pepper.
Now, let me tell you folks ... you could stop right here & you've got yourself
an avocado dressing of the most delicious sort.
Seriously, I couldn't stop 'tasting' it ...
you know, to make sure the ingredients were right ...*wink wink*.

Lastly, chop up 3-4 green onions & mix the whole kit & kaboodle together.
What I liked about this recipe was the fact there was no mayo ... lower calories & fat.
The creaminess of the avocado takes the place of it.
If you feel it's a bit dry though, you can either add more lime juice or some mayo, if you'd prefer.

So, to put it all together, I started with grilled bread.
I used a sweet Italian loaf, cut into individual portion sizes.
Just spray a skillet with cooking spray & grill it until golden brown.

Load it down with the avocado chicken salad ~ a little or as much as you like.
Doesn't look at healthy & fresh?

For some extra healthy goodness & some crunch, I piled on a handful of spring mix.

Put on the lid & you are ready to enjoy!

First you taste the citrus-y tang from the limes ... then you get the bite from the cilantro.
The creamy avocado takes it over the top.
Then there's the crunchy bread.
Yum, people ... just yum!

You're drooling, right?!
Me too.

Here's another way I love this sandwich.
This is on a 60 calorie pita wrap.
I grilled it ... cause I love the crunch.

So, go ahead.
Get that chicken in the crock pot.
Your taste buds will thanks you!

This seems so summery to me too ... a great cool & easy summer supper.
I'm thinking this will be showing up on my menu all summer long.

linking up at Savvy Southern Style, Raising Homemakers, a few other sites listed along the side of my blog ... take a second & party with these gals =)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

To live a creative life, 
we must lose our fear of being wrong.

Thought I'd give you an update on what's going on around here.

My house is about to be upside down for a few weeks.
I'm trying to psych myself up ... getting mentally prepared ;)

I'm getting creative.
Isn't that what decorating is all about ...  
creating a space that you love, totally love?!

For those of you that know me well, you are quite aware of my motto.
A place for everything & everything in it's place.
Yes, that's the one.

Ahhh ... words to live by ... a practice that keeps me sane.
So, will these next few weeks try my patience?
YES, but the end result will be so worth it.

My mission, started yesterday.
Well, technically, it started months ago.
I knew when the winter decorating season was over, 
things would be changing around here.
I'm just to that point.

Yes, I decorate with each season & pick up new things here & there.
I find treasures at the flea market & thrift store that are added in periodically.
But those are small things that are just worked in to my existing decor.
What I'm ready to do is a major overhaul!
I'd even like to replace my living room furniture, but we're holding off on that for now.
James & I have decided that we don't know how long we'll live here.
A 3000 square-foot, 4 bedroom house will be awfully big when it's just the two of us.
We may want to downsize to a little country home with a big front porch one of these days ;)
It's just not smart to buy expensive furniture for this house when it may not be what 
we'd want in the next house.

So, here's my compromise plan.
I'm going to switch gears, decorating-wise.  
I'm going to take down & put away anything that I'm iffy about.  
I'm only keeping things that I am in love with 
& can't imagine not seeing everyday.  
I'm adding in a new motto ... it's my house.  I live in it.  I will fix it just like I want!  

I had this epiphany a few months back while looking at a home decor magazine.
It was full of brightly decorated homes, colorful fabrics & mix-match prints.
Things were put together in a way that I would never put them together.
It was more of a bohemian chic look, & while that's totally not my style, 
I fell in love with the obvious fact that someone had made the space completely their own ... 
reflecting their personality & taste...
thus the epiphany:  There are NO rules in decorating!!
Why do I feel compelled to follow some sort of 'rules' for decor in my OWN home?!
If I want that color, use it!
If I want to hang it there, hang it!
That's what I should always be saying!

Now, that's not too far off from how I operate anyway, but I'm giving myself permission
to color completely outside the lines ... throw caution to the wind.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, when I look at pics & blogs & pinterest, 
I'm somewhat subconsciously confined into someone else's parameters.
There's always something 'in' & 'trending', & I start thinking 
'oh, it's that what we're supposed to be doing now ... 
oh, I must have something chevron in order to be current.' 
Have you ever done that?
I don't want to be boxed in that way anymore.

Yesterday, I hopped on blogger to do a bit of catch-up reading & the first post 
I read was a complete confirmation to the plan that I was setting in action 
that very morning.
I love it when that happens!

Summing up what Patty at Lemon Lane Cottage said, it's my house!
'It isn't my mom's or my sister's or my friend's or that stylish blogger''s mine!' 

It's where I go to retreat from the world ... where I go to relax and unwind.
It's my safe haven.

It's where I go to ponder things great and small...where I read, sleep, play, laugh, cry.
It's where I raise my family, teach my children, love my husband.

It's where all my memories are made.
It's mine.

So, I'm giving myself permission to give things to Goodwill & sell stuff in a yard sale.
I'm going to try my hand at sewing curtains on my new sewing machine.
{Thanks, Jenny ... you inspired me too!}
I may even paint furniture ... paint over perfectly good wood?  Maybe ;)
And somewhere, yes, somewhere, I am stringing lights!
How's that for coloring outside the lines?!

Love this!  Same rule applies for hair or for decorating!

There will  be pictures of all this *madness* to follow, I promise.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It All Started with This Slip of Paper

It all started with this slip of paper.
He asked for my number & address ... & if I'd sit by him on Friday nt =)
{We were at a youth camp & on Friday nt, the guys & girls could sit together.}
This was in 1989.

I said yes ... & as you can see, I gave him my number & address ...
& added, quite directly I might add, WRITE ME!  ;)


we wrote ... and wrote ... and wrote.
I still have of those treasured cards & letters. 

With Valentine's Day being tomorrow, I guess you could say I'm just taking a stroll down memory lane.
That's alright, isn't it?
See, our first 'date' was to a Valentine's Banquet.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I wasn't allowed to date til I was 16 
{we actually didn't have our first date, just the two of us til I was 17}, we did however,
go to a Valentine's Banquet with my church ... our first Valentine's Day together.

Look at how young & IN LOVE we were <3

I still have this dress, gloves, his boutineer, & my corsage.

We've now spent 24 Valentine's Days together & I am more in love now than ever!
Thank you, God, for Your sovereign plan that led us to each other.

Braided Pizza Bread

I am crazy about this recipe!
You see, I'm not a 'baker'.
Yeah, I make cakes.
I bake cookies.
I bake pies.
I don't, however, work with yeast ... like, ever.
I can't make homemade bread, or rolls, or croissants, or souffles.
Sigh ... such a failure, I am ;)
Ok, now that we've established all that ...

I totally LOVE this recipe because it makes me look all baker-ish!
Look at it ... the bread is braided all fancy like.
Oh yea, makes me feel like a rockstar!

Oh, so you wanna feel like a rockstar baker too?
Ok ... I'll share the recipe.
You talked me into it.

You'll need typical pizza ingredients, your favorites:
pepperoni, sausage, cheese, onion, green pepper, mushrooms, ham, etc
You'll need some pizza sauce.
And before you buy a can of it, use my recipe for the Best Ever Pizza Sauce!
You won't want to buy the canned stuff ever again.  Ever.
Lastly, you'll need some dough.
I use either the Rhodes or Kroger brand frozen white bread dough,
thawed according to package directions.
{Course, all you real bakers out there can whip up your own dough from scratch ...
it's ok ... I won't hate ya.}

Flour the counter generously & roll out the dough.
You want a rectangle shape, about 1/4” and 1/2” thick.
After it's rolled out & ready,  transfer the dough to a baking sheet.
{It's much easier to work on the sheet than to try & move the whole thing
after it's stuffed with the ingredients...found that out the hard way.}

Layer on sauce, cheese & desired toppings lengthwise down the center of the dough.
Next cut 1 inch strips down each side of the dough, starting at the edge of the dough,
cutting toward the ingredients in the center.
Starting at one end, braid the dough by alternating in a criss-cross pattern,
bringing each strip to the center of the toppings.
If you have extra dough toward the bottom, just fold it underneath.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Halfway through the baking time, I like to brush the dough with a garlic butter mixture.
{Melt 2 Tbsp. of butter & sprinkle in 1/2 tsp. garlic powder.}
This gives it added flavor & an extra-golden crust.

I make this one pretty often, although I have to admit, I don't always braid it.
You can make a large calzone by layering all your ingredients on one half,
folding over the other half & sealing the edges.
Or, just layer directly on to the dough for a homemade pizza, traditional style.
But if you are wanting the wow factor, braid it!
It never fails to impress.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

{Mini} Bagel Pizzas

Are you looking to bring some fun to the table this week {Valentine's week}?
Heeere's your recipe!
This one will be enjoyed by  kids of all ages ~ little kids, teenage kids, & grown-up kids ;)

I made these mini bagels pizzas recently for family movie night.
It's quick, easy, & cheaper than having a pizza delivered ...bonus on all accounts!

And, as if all that is not enough, I just shared my deeelicious recipe for homemade pizza sauce! 
Head over to that recipe & quickly put together my Best Ever Pizza Sauce 
& it will make this taste about 10 times better!

Here's what you need:
mini bagels  -- I used 10
pizza sauce  --  approx. 1 cup
shredded cheese  --  2 cups
pepperoni  -- 1 package

Preheat the oven to 350° F.
Place the bagel halves on a baking sheet.
Spread pizza sauce on each bagel half.
Next, sprinkle the shredded cheese over the sauce & add the pepperoni.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.

Can't get much easier than that, folks!
Course, you can use regular-size bagels & any of your favorite pizza toppings.
I even used some leftover buffalo chicken {from my Buffalo Chicken Garbage Bread recipe}.
Those were yummy too!

Add these few ingredients to your grocery list & get these babies in the oven!


Best Ever Pizza Sauce

Make this homemade pizza sauce once & you'll never use store-bought pizza sauce again!
Promise ... it's that easy & it's that good!
I've been making this for several years now & I wouldn't think of using anything else.
The taste is rich & delicious.
My husband is a saucy guy.
He likes pizza sauce, marinara ... he's probably never met a sauce he didn't like ... but this one, he loves!
I always make extra, enough for the pizza & a little more for dipping.
And oftentimes, I make a double or triple batch & stick in the freezer.
Pop it out a few hours before you need it & you're good to go.

6 oz tomato paste
8 oz tomato sauce
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. minced garlic or garlic salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

I love using fresh garlic & thanks to my garlic press, there's no tedious work mincing or chopping it.
Plus, my fingers don't smell like garlicy goodness.

Pop in the whole glove of garlic, skin & all, & press through.
Viola, perfect minced garlic!

After mixing all the ingredients, here's what you've got.
I wish you could smell this through the screen!
Oh people, it's reallly, realllly good.

Makes me feel all Italianish ... & I want to burst into song ;)
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore ... 
Bells'll ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling,
la la la la la la hmm hmmm hmmm ....that's amore.

Happy cooking, friends~

Monday, February 11, 2013

It's Almost Valentine's Day

We are in the final stretch leading up to the day of hugs & kisses, flirting & smooches,
winks & embraces, chocolates & roses ... yes folks, it's almost Valentine's Day <3

Do you have big plans ... or any plans at all?

For us, we don't do anything overly extravagant ... never have.
We don't have a set routine, per say.
Sometimes we celebrate early, not the day of.
It all just depends on what's going on, work schedules, etc.
I try to do little things throughout the month 
{sending sweet texts, leaving unexpected notes}.
I mix it up a little ... whatever strikes me.

James is quite funny in February.
Anything that he does or buys for me is suddenly for Valentines Day.
If we run through the drive-thru ... at McDonald's ...  for an ice cream ... on February 1st ...
he will say that it's part of my Valentine's Day.
Ahhh ... he makes me giggle.

I do, however, have one special tradition.

I always give James & the boys a Valentine's card & make them a little goody bag.
Always in each bag is their favorite candy, favorite salty snack, & an energy drink.
Those are standard goodies.
I usually add in a shirt, a wallet ... something they need or have been wanting.
{This time of year, there are some great end-of-the-season markdowns 
as stores are making way for spring merchandise.}

The other thing I do is choose an evening sometime during Valentine week 
to prepare a meal of favorites.
There are a few dishes that everyone especially loves, 
so I pick & choose & make a meal that everyone loves to eat.
The meal is complete with a nicely-set table, 
& although I don't have much Valentine decor, I put whatever I have on the table.
{Since the boys are little guys anymore, I just don't do much decorating for Vtines...
ok, I put out red candles & a little towel with hearts on it in the bathroom.  That's it.}
I have a couple of heart-shaped candle holders that I use each year ...
& you know, those previously mentioned red candles.
Course, the final touches are playing some 'lovely' music &  drinking sparkling cider
from the long-stem goblets.

Neither the goody bags or the dinner is anything too costly or over-the-top.
It's just a few little extra things to show them I care ... and they love it!
Our conversation & time spent together around that is the real value.
But, anytime you can do a little extra to celebrate LOVE 
with the people you love the most, never pass that up!

Now, if you are feeling a bit out of the mood, or you just need quick last-minute ideas,
I wanted to share a link to Women Living Well.
Courtney has shared 1 entry each week in her 'Be My Valentine Marriage Challenge'
& let me tell you, they are worth reading & putting in action!
{I forwarded the kissing one on to James, & he enjoyed it, as well...wink, wink!}
You will be blessed by reading these, I'm sure of it.
They are short ... won't take more than 10 minutes out of your day, 
but if you can be inspired or encouraged to do something sweet for your spouse, 
then it's been worth it entirely!

Here they are:

Week 1:  Take the Initiative

Week 2: 10 Creative Ways to Say I LOVE YOU

Week 3: Kiss Your Way to a Better Marriage 

Week 4: Passion is NOT Just for the Movies 

I do hope you take a sec to read these ... all of them.

And for my closing thought, just a piece of advice.
Instead of thinking & wondering about what your husband is going to do for YOU 
for Valentine's Day {or just hoping he remembers that there is such a day 
& maybe gives you an extra hug or a kiss},
you plan what you can do for HIM!
If you don't get one single thing ... if he totally forgets or just doesn't get into the 'commercialism' of the whole deal, you find a way to make him feel special.
Leave him a love note, make his favorite food, play a special song, or give him a back rub.
Respect him, love him ... tell him how much you need him ... & are proud of him.
Those things are worth their weight in gold.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.  
~1 Peter 4:8

The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 
She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.  ~Proverbs 31:11

And so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 
to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, 
and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 
~Titus 2:4-5

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I've Been Published ... sort of ;)

Since we've talking some about books, I wanted to tell you something pretty cool!
My face is in this book!!
My recipes are in this book!!
And yes, the recipes are definitely the better of the two ;)
 My cousin, Macel Ely, Jr., put this amazing recipe book together ... and it's nothin' but sweets!
That's right ... page after page of delectable desserts.
The neat part of this book is that each contributor is in ministry of some sort or a minister's wife.
That's where I come in to play:  I am a minister's wife =)
{I am also a minister's daughter, so I guess I am doubly covered. }

Here I am!

They somehow got our church name incorrect ... it's FAMILY LIFE ASSEMBLY

I shared 2 of my very favorite cakes:
Pina Colada & Prune Cake.
Yum ... I want a piece of each right now!!

This super awesome cookbook is called COME & DINE: A Tribute to Women in Ministry.

Not only are there 130 dessert recipes, the book is filled with over 200 unique photos
of women in ministry from the past and the present.
Many of the old photographs wonderfully capture the essence of the great old-fashioned
church dinners, picnics & other times of fellowship.
Food and fellowship ... haven't those two things gone hand in hand throughout the years
in American church history?

You will be blessed by this cookbook, in more than one way.
I encourage you to order one for your own kitchen!

Click the link below & buy one today!

Now, the next time I talk to you about cookbooks, hopefully it will be about my OWN!
It's a dream of mine to publish a cookbook of my very own.
I've come really close, but just haven't been brave enough to take the plunge.
I've spoken to various publishers & I've gotten product sample sent to me.
I even have an enormous file of potential recipes to be included in the book.
But ... when the time is right ...when the time is right, I'll know & move forward.
And I'll keep you in the loop ...don't worry ;)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

They Pulled One Over On Us!

We have a fellowship meal every Sunday at our church.
Each of our ladies take turns ... planning the weekly meals when it's their month to do so.
For this month, the month of LOVE, Sister Tammy is the planner.
Not only has she planned out our fellowship meals, she has arranged each Sunday
of this month to be themed, coordinating with LOVE ...
you know, hearts & chocolate, & kisses & candies ...
all that sa-weet stuff that belongs in February ;)

This past Sunday was, much to our surprise, 'We Love the Penningtons' Sunday!
It was an over-the-top appreciation service that had us in tears {lots of tears} one moment
& laughter the next.
Our family will never be able to put into words how much this day,
these heartfelt encouraging words, the gifts, & these special, special people mean to us.
When a 'down day' or discouraging spirit tries to overtake us {that happens every now & again},
this day, these words will ring in our ears & lift our heads.
Family Life Assembly, we could never thank you enough.

Here are some pictures so you can see how beee-utiful the decorations were.

overlook the white spots on the walls ...they were just prepped to be painted soon

I love how she used a variety of pictures of our family as part of the decor,
especially mounted on these bags.
Aren't these so cool?!

Riley opening his jogging shirt ... he loved it!
Gunnar is looking at his AE gift card.

We are abundantly blessed ... a hundred times over.