Your Grace Is Enough – Matt Maher

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This past week has been an interesting one for my hubby and I down here in Coastal GA.  I had a few nights of restless sleep due to worries and wonderings.  Last night, however, deep and blissful sleep returned.  Thanks be to the good Lord, and the most supportive family a girl could ever dream of, for that.  The song down below, Your Grace Is Enough by Matt Maher, was one of the first I heard playing from my alarm clock radio this morning.  I love the line, “Your grace is enough. I’m covered in Your love. Your grace is enough for me.”  It felt like the good Lord was giving me a hug.  What a way to start the day.  Happy Friday to all!

2 Major 2012 Changes

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Greetings friends.  Since 2012 has been underway for well over a month, I figured that it was high time for me to write my first official post of the year.  Plus, I need to document two major changes that have occurred recently in my little old life.

Major Change #1 

Bitty Baby B is on his way.  I hit the 33 week mark tomorrow.  Which means he’ll be here in about 7 weeks.  Maybe less (hopefully not more).  Whoa.  The J-man did an awesome job setting up the big nursery furniture (crib, glider & dresser) long before Christmas.  We still have a ways to go with the nursery, but we’ve hung the curtain, spread a new comforter on my old twin bed and tossed some new throw pillows around (I’m going for a day bed/couch look).  We’ve also purchased some some cute wall art and quite a few tiny camo outfits.

It seems that I have a thing for camo baby clothes.  Maybe you’re thinking it’s because the kiddo’s Dad wears camo to work everyday?  Nope, because hunting camo is what I’m drawn to.  Maybe you’re thinking it’s because I used to be a hunter back in my Northern NY days?  Nope, because I never wore camo, nor did I find it particularly fashionable.  Whatever the reason, I find little-man camo so cute.  Case in point…

And how about this one with a tiny pair of hiking boots?  Swoon.

My sister gave me the heads up on these adorable little-man onesies.  They were ordered immediately.  And by the way, the red one reminds me of my old hunting jacket.  Ah…the memories :)

As for being pregnant…so far, so good.  Can’t say it’s the most comfortable I’ve ever been in my life, but it sure is an exciting time so I can’t (and won’t) complain.  I especially love feeling him bounce around in there, and his hiccups always make me smile.

Major Change #2

Ok, deep breath.  This one is truly a major change.

I have a smart phone.  My first.

Believe it or not, making this change had me more nervous than pregnancy, labor, the birth and learning how to take care of a tiny man all combined.  This smart phone has changed my life forever!  No longer do I have the excuse of missing emails or news because I’m shopping, traveling, sitting in church or fast asleep upstairs.  Not to mention that we no longer have one of the cheapest phone bills on the block.  But alas, it was time to join the 21st century.  I guess.  At least that’s what I’ve been told by quite a few folks.  And so far, it has been a positive change.

Have any major changes come your way lately?

3 Tried and True Christmas Gifts in a Jar

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Hello friends.  Christmas Day is almost here, and I’m feeling festive.  The tree is lit, the Nativity Scene is out and there are gifts and wrapping paper and fresh-baked cookies all over the kitchen.  It’s going to be a busy night of packing the four boxes that need to be shipped North to family and arranging the plates of cookies that we’ll need this week for various events here in town!

A few nights ago, I was working on homemade Christmas gifts for two local friends.  How I wish I could have made these same gifts for my faraway family, but the shipping would outweigh the frugality and fun…and that wouldn’t be cool.

And what are these three tried and true homemade Christmas gifts in jars???  Why, the first is Christmasy Cowboy Cookies in a Jar.  The basic idea was originally Bakerella’s so please visit her site for detailed directions on how to go about accomplishing this awesome little project.

I did doctor up her original plan to make it more Christmasy…and mine.  I left out pecans, tossed in a heapin’ half teaspoon of cinnamon and reduced the amount of M&Ms by a quarter cup.  Ugghh…that was difficult to do.  I seriously don’t know how she got all that stuff into a quart jar (other than the fact that she’s pretty awesome…I’m impressed).  Granted, she did recommend using a wide mouth jar, but since I didn’t have any wides to spare…I had to go with narrows.

Oh, and I baked a batch for us to taste test.  Oh yeah, they were delious.  I’ll be making them again.

The other 2 tried and true Christmas gifts in jars were homemade ranch dip/dressing mix and homemade taco seasoning mix.  The credit for those two mixes goes to another one of my favorite blogs…Heavenly Homemakers.

Both the ranch mix and taco seasoning recipes are well loved here at our home.  The ranch dip/dressing mix is most often used for…you guessed it…ranch dip and dressing (I add a tablespoon or two of white vinegar to thin it out and add a bit of zip).  But my all time personal favorite use is when I make oven baked french fries.  I sprinkle a 1/4 cup or so over a baking sheet full of olive oil coated sliced potatoes.  Then pop them in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  Yummers.  As for the taco seasoning mix…well, I can’t imagine ever buying a packet of taco seasoning for our taco meat again.  We’re fans.

Arranging the final presentation of these gifts for our friends will be part of tonight’s crazy gift wrapping, box packing, cookie arranging madness.  I bought two of the prettiest Christmas gift bags and plan to fill each one with a jar of cookie mix, a jar of ranch dip mix and a jar of taco seasoning mix…along with printed directions for each recipe (including a few of my tips), a wooden spoon and copious amounts of festive tissue paper.

How about you folks…any great ideas for cool homemade gifts in a jar???

Please Check out my Post on Frosting For The Cause!

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Today I’m featured as a guest baker on Frosting For The Cause.  I’ve shared my recipe for Fancy Linzer Cookies.  Frosting For The Cause is an awesome project with some hefty goals.  The project started on January 1, 2011 with the aim to raise awareness and money for Women’s Cancer.  Bloggers from across the United States and Canada have joined up to share recipes and their own personal stories of how their lives have been touched by cancer.  I shared a story about my little sister Beth.  Please check it out.  Thanks!

And my new favorite kitchen helpers are…

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Freezer jam containers!  They are so dang handy.  Last spring I had high hopes of actually making freezer jam.  I’ve canned jam and jelly using the traditional method many times in the past.  So being able to just pop some in the freezer sure sounded appealing.  Well, due to the crazy summer we lived through, it never happened.

Then a few weeks ago I found the jars kicking around in one of our cupboards.  It hit me that they would be perfect for storing some leftovers from dinner in the fridge.  So I washed them out, filled them up and have been using them to store leftovers ever since.

Case in point…here they are storing some of the delicious Broccoli Cheese Soup (thanks Pioneer Woman!) we had for dinner last night.  Yum.  Can’t wait for lunch!

Hope all’s well with you and yours!

Sara

The Pumpkin Recipe of All Pumpkin Recipes

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Hi all.  Martha Stewart’s recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling is one of those recipes that you must tuck away in your cookbook for just the right occasion.  Or, you could make some right now.

Some of ya’ll know that I’m a pretty good baker, thanks mostly to my Mom, my neighbor Jane (now, there’s a story that needs to be told) and tons of old-fashioned flour-all-over-the-kitchen-floor practice…but I gotta admit that this recipe is soooo extraordinary that it would make the worst baker look amazing.  Therefore, I can’t take much credit for how amazing these babies turned out.  The cake part is chuck-full of spicy Fall flavor and is extra moist, while remaining sturdy enough to hold up the weight of the filling.

My Bible study friends and the folks at the J-man’s office were raving over how tasty they were.  I was too.  My heart was bursting with joy at how much everyone loved them.

Thank you Martha!

There’s a video on the website that is worth watching.  More than anything, it was the video that inspired me to make them because it proved how super easy they were to create.  Plus, they gave me a few tips I wouldn’t have thought of from just reading the recipe.

Oh, and here’s a few more tips from little old me…I choose to use both a big triggered cookie scoop and a small triggered cookie scoop in order to make two different sized whoopie pies.  The bigger pies looked majestic, but I ended up having to cut them into quarters for my Bible study group.  And last night for dessert, I could only eat half of a big one.  The small cookie scoop made the perfect one person whoopie pie, and they looked as cute as buttons.

Be sure to use parchment paper on your cookie sheets when you bake the batter (which has more of a cake batter consistency than cookie dough).  And when they’re done and cooled off, don’t be afraid to pile on the cream cheese filing because the recipe makes a huge batch.  Speaking of filling, I chose to use a frosting bag with a huge round tip to spread out the filling.  A frosting spreader might work, but I’d sure hate to mangle the cakes in my attempt to spread frosting.

Now, go forth and bake!

My Top 7 Summer Moments

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Greetings dear readers.  I’ve some sad news.  Summer is over.  I know, I know…it’s hard to tell in some parts of the world.  For instance, down here in Coastal GA we’re still sporting shorts, tank tops & flip-flops.

Ah Summer.  Good times.  Our Summer was action packed from beginning to end.  Don’t get me wrong…it wasn’t perfect.  We had our fair share of sorrow and trial, but this post isn’t about that.  Instead I’d like to focus on the joyous and lighthearted moments.

So as a tribute to the glory of Summer, as well as an effort to get back in the blogging groove, I will now list my top 7 Summer memories from this year, in no particular order.

1. The Trip of A Lifetime: A Mediterranean Cruise!!!

Dreaming about this cruise helped the J-man make it through a year in the desert.  Wow…was this trip ever a treat!  My favorite port of call was Kusadasi, Turkey, where we visited the ruins of Ephesus.

2. PWOC Kickoff!  Last month the Bible study/ministry opportunity I’m involved in started up again for the year.  It feels great to be back studying the Word with friends.

3. My Birthday!  Many thanks to the J-man and our families for making it an extra special one.

4. July 4th Zac Brown Band Concert!!!  It was free, and it was awesome.  ZBB, I am a fan for life.  Thanks for all you do to support the troops!

5. A Trip to My Homeland.  I could write an entire post about our week in Upstate NY…but I’ll keep it simple.  We hiked, and we had a big pig roast party.  Life is good, people.

6. Leisurely Day Trips With the J-man.  One of our favorite mini-adventures is driving down to St. Simons for dinner at Southern Soul (best BBQ ever!).

7. An Orlando Business Trip.  Jason had to spend a week in one of the most fun cities in the Sunshine State.  My Mom was able to fly down from NY to hang out with me while Jason was at work.  It was tough, so tough…especially checking out this view every morning while eating breakfast:

There they are…my Top 7 Summer Moments.  What’s your Top Summer Moment???

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