Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thanksgiving In Plenty and Want

This time of year is my very favorite and November is just a wonderful month!  My birthday is next week, and yes, I'm still like a kid on my birthday.  (Cake and ice cream and a birthday date with my groom are always something I look forward to!!)  I was born on Thanksgiving so I share it with the holiday week every year, but that's okay because Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays there is.  The sole focus is on God's goodness and blessings in our lives!  We have a tradition on the eve of Thanksgiving when we have the big dinner at my parent's house, where after the meal with a cozy sipper in hand we take turns sharing our heart on what we're thankful God has done over the past year.  It's really a beautiful tradition and probably my favorite Thanksgiving memory from years past.

No matter how amazing or downright tragic the year may have been we can always find blessings, even the shear fact that God promised to never leave us. 

I'll never forget Thanksgiving '09 was one of the very hardest to date.  That year my husband and I had been on "cloud 9" celebrating my miracle pregnancy after trying almost 3 years.  It was a surreal time!  As many of you know, just months later we buried the same baby girl that my body nurtured and we had prayed for.  Devastating!! To say the least.  It was the first major holiday I would've been big pregnant and uncomfortable stuffing my hormonal body with extra turkey and dressing.  All the while my moving belly would've been the show stopper of the night....I liked to have thought! Of course that Thanksgiving looked nothing like that as I felt oddly thin and lacked the presence of the our miracle growing inside.  I didn't "feel" Thanksgiving the same way I always had. Although I was still in the grieving process, when it came to sharing what we were thankful for, my husband and I still found blessings to share through our tears.  The most important one to us was that God had never left us!

His presence was still inside me and He promised in His Word to redeem us and turn that tragedy around for His glory. 

This Thanksgiving will be our 3rd one as parents!!!  We have two children that have turned our world upside-down with love and excitement and  has shown us what a full heart and home feels like!!  Although, I don't always understand God's timing or His ways, I don't have to.  Because I trust His plan is always better.  Through it all, it is well.

Today I'm overjoyed to show you a brand new item to my home and kitchen.  Yesterday I was just given this antique washstand that belonged to my great-grandmother, and it probably about 100 years old! 

To me, this heirloom is priceless!!  I treasure such a gift from my Grandmother that she must've grown up around! 

It has been in my grandparent's house since before I was born, and I was promised it since I was a little girl!  Now, we've moved back to my hometown and I have room to proudly use it in our new house!

It's in very good condition, especially considering it's age.  The mirror is beautiful and will reflect the pretty panoramic views we have in our kitchen.  The rod will be just perfect to display seasonal towels, which I happen to collect.

(Sorry about the overexposed pictures, but the lighting was so bright in some of these.)

Inside the cabinet is very clean and tidy.  I just wonder what it would've housed back in the early 1900s?  Was is used in a bedroom or a bathroom perhaps?  I haven't decided exactly what I'm going to store in there or how I'll decorate the top, but let me assure you I will use and love it!  I can see cakes and pies throughout the year served from here or refreshing punch at birthday parties.  Oh, the memories we will have with this heirloom piece! 

This is just one of the things I am thankful for, but there are countless others.

It's been an incredible year...

Mr. Cozy finishing his residency.  (And I lived through it! Whoohooo!)

We just found out today he passed his "Boards" and with flying colors!!

His has a great job as a pediatrician, where I see him everyday and he is home every evening.  (I'll never take that for granted again!)

Selling our Louisville house the very first day we listed and for asking price.
Buying our new house! 

God redeeming our children's past more everyday and making our family even closer knit!

My joy of being a parent is maturing! 

A son in kindergarten who is growing and thriving!

A daughter who is brave in Christ enough to fully trust us as parents and who is blooming in love!

A promise God has put in my heart since a youth.. to use my singing voice for Him by helping lead others into worship on our church's worship team and with my husband playing guitar again!

Living near our family and dear friends where they are actively in our life!

Learning piano for the first time and penning a new song.

Countless miracles of undeserved answered prayer day in and out that I couldn't begin to name all!

" Give thanks to the Lord for He is good,
for His steadfast love endures forever. 
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever. 
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever; 
to Him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever. "
Psalm 136:1-4

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Best Loved! Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Today I wanted to share with you  an especially good dessert recipe!  These are the crazy-amazing peanut butter chocolate bars I made a couple of weeks ago on that perfect fall day I told you about here

First if you don't already know, let me just say I'm a big-time dessert person.  We are a big dessert family!  I love baking and we all love eating dessert so we really have to watch our sweet eating habits.  Sometimes I'll make a batch of cookies or pan of brownies and I'll simply give them away, but I get the pleasure of baking and giving out of it. 

I've made no telling how many different dessert recipes over the past 11 years of my married life...most of the best ones I've shared on here.  One kind of dessert treat that I especially love are bars.  They always tend to be chewy and gooey and are a one pan kind of dish that you basically just dump everything in and bake it!

These peanut butter chocolate bars are some of the very best bars I've ever made!!!  Ever!

They are very rich and gooey when warm, and they have the sweet and salty factor going on!  The crunchy peanut butter and coconut add great texture and that thick chocolate filling?!!  To die for.

Puleeease.  Do your favorite people in life a favor by making a pan of these.  They would be wonderful to take to a hayride or eat around a bonfire.  They would be fun for an indulgent dessert after a dinner party, or perfect for a weekend treat to eat as a family while playing your favorite games or watching a cozy movie!  Milk or rich dark coffee is required! 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
Original Recipe from Aunt Peaches blog

1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 c. crunchy peanut butter
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter, melted or room temp
2 eggs
2 c. chocolate chips (I recommend bittersweet ones from Ghiradelli)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 c. flaked coconut (You may omit, but I would replace with 1/2 c. chopped peanuts.)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. hot sauce (I left this out.)
I added about 1/4 tsp. salt
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 325 F. 
Line the bottom of 9x13 in. pan with parchment paper. (Easily found in stores near the foil)

In a bowl, mix the dry cake mix, butter, peanut butter, and eggs with a mixer.  It will come together looking like the consistency of play dough.) Set aside.

In a large saucepan on low heat, heat the sweetened condensed milk to a simmer, stirring constantly.  As soon as it starts bubbling in the middle, turn off the heat, and pour in the chocolate chips.  Stir again until the chocolate is melted in.  Once melted,  mix in the coconut, vanilla extract, hot sauce (if using) and salt.  The chocolate mixture will be warm and thick and gooey!

Divide out half of the yellow mixture you had sitting aside, and use your fingers or a spatula to smoosh it along the bottom of the pan.  If you need to borrow a bit from the other half of the mixture to cover the bottom, that's okay and probably expected! 

Then pour the chocolate sauce over the top and spread it all over.  Go back to the remaining yellow mixture and crumble it with your fingers, or just spread it over.  ( I sort of swirled it all around.)

Look at this!

Bake for 30 minutes.  They made seem underdone, but that's what they should look like.  Just lightly browned around the edges.

The original recipe calls for them to be thoroughly cooled before cutting, but I have to disagree here.  Wait at least 20 minutes, but then I say to dig in before they cool!  It may not cut into perfect squares but since when have we cared what something looks like if it doesn't taste as gooey and delicious that way?  I loooove a warm dessert fresh out of the oven!  Let me know what you think.

Eat, share and enjoy these amazing peanut butter chocolate bars!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Moments Like This!

"Taste and see that the Lord is Good! 
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!"
Psalm 34:8

I just have to share this moment with you all. 

The morning is just gorgeous, as God really is showing off His amazing creativity in the form of the fall colors dazzling the trees on our property. 

I have the sliding door opened enough to allow the refreshing breeze in so I can smell the scent of fall tobacco barns smoking here in rural Kentucky and hear the sounds of the leaves rustling and my children playing with all their might outside!

The crow in the distance.  Our kitty's meow.  The wind shaking the tree tops as the changes of season feels so tangible this time of year as it's whisking itself in and out and all around!  Summer seems to literally blow out and winter eventually blows in before settling.

I didn't "stage" these pictures, but instead wanted you to see a glimpse of what I'm surrounded by right now as I sip coffee at the computer.  There's library books stacked on the coffee table and throws left here and there.  A homemade pink crown resting in all it's royalty as it's princess is busy chasing her brother in the leaves.

I can glance around the room to see sweet faces and be reminded of the blessing of children God has miraculously given us through means of adoption and an obedient heart!  Here in the den we watch Dr. Quinn curled up on our biggest couch every night.  The same couch we all seem to still scrunch together on in the slow mornings we share together most weekends.  Of course we plant ourselves under our favorite soft blankets with a myriad of books or toys at any given time!

The kids have no school on Fridays (all the sleep deprived moms say, Amen!), so we're able to sleep in longer and lazily wake up at our own pace. 

I can't honestly paint a perfect picture here because as much as I would love to say we all wake up with happy hearts and smiles every day, that's just not always the case!!  We're real people and there are times of chaos and crazy emotions in our home over favorite clothes being washed instead of ready to wear, sibling rivalry over who brushes their teeth faster, or the fact we ran out of orange juice.  You all get it! ;)

It's all the more reason to be thankful for the peaceful times!  Like this very moment that is (not necessarily quiet) but peaceful nonetheless, and I can feel joy in my family! 

I trust God for joy in my life everyday, but there are certain moments where I can actually feel it like the warmth of my coffee cup in my hands!

My heart is overflowing like this sunshine pouring into the room, with the favor of the Lord and His goodness in my life.  Mornings naturally seem to be my time for reflection and talking to the Lord, if only for a moment.   Even if I'm in the middle of laundry, making the bed, or responding to email... I seem to be taken aback with what He has for us in the new day.  It helps to fuel my wanting to give Him and my family the very best of me! 

How are you inspired?  Do you tend to have a time of day when your soul slows down to see the glory God has given you in nature or in the people placed in your circle?  Let's make time to taste and see that the Lord is good, and to recognize the gifts He has given us!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Perfect Fall Day

I'm soaking it in...
It's one of those rare perfect days at my house.

Firstly, my husband is off work today!  We went out with our daughter for breakfast at a locally favorite place and to a quaint downtown shop after dropping our son at school!  Now I'm simmering a big pot of hearty sweet and spicy chili that's full of stew meat, sweet potatoes and other delicious flavors. 

I just put a pan of amazing peanut butter chocolate bars in the oven, and a fresh pot of coffee brews while I'm blogging, and Mr. Cozy is working on installing a new door in our sunroom. 

Today I can honestly say that life is good....but I can always say that God is so gracious!!!

Our home is fully fall decorated around here, and I realized I haven't shown you many pictures of the new house.  So I thought I would snap a couple casual pictures of my dining room area since the apple cider candle is lit, the afternoon sun is starting to stream in, and it just looks so warm and cozy!!

We bought a beautifully rustic farm table and chairs with this great bench.  It's actually a church pew that reads "FEAST", which is just perfect for this spot!  I really am into the farmhouse style.  Yes, I know it's very trendy right now, but being from the country and living back in rural Ky. I find it quite fitting!

You remember the original 1945 shutters we found and repainted at our cape cod cottage?  I had them behind our sofa leaning against the wall in that house.  Well, they've found a new home on either side of our dining window, and I love the way they turned out!  Mr. Cozy hung them up to finish off the look I wanted.  They would be dreamy with a couple small wreaths hanging down them at Christmas!

My hubby and I found this dark bronze chandelier at a wonderful lighting store in Louisville and he installed it here. 

He is just wonderful like that!  He has already installed 5 new light fixtures here!

Our dining area is informal in that it's not it it's own room, but it's open to the living room. 

I love a formal dining room, but this layout is just right for the season of life we're in with small kids.  Not to mention it's in the room with a fireplace, which will be delightful to dine close to the fire on cold winter nights!  It's also wonderful when we have a bunch of people over to flow in and out of the rooms easily.  One could be playing the piano, another cooking and a few others still grazing on food here and in the kitchen, but we can all still enjoy each other's company!  

We bought this hutch with our dining table.  It's gray and inside the back has rustic wooden boards lining it.  There are 6 drawers for linens and other table goodies, but for now I'm enjoying displaying some of my favorite things on the shelves. Honestly, I'm not sure I'm going to keep the d├ęcor on it like it is, but I don't need to get too attached to anything just before Christmas.  Because anyone who knows me when knows everything changes in the Christmas season around here!

guess this is where my very short tour comes to an end for now. 

I hope you've enjoyed seeing a bit more of the new house that we have come to really love!  I hope to see you here again soon with the amazing peanut butter chocolate bar recipe.

Til then,

~The Country Mouse 

Savory Bacon & Cheddar Muffins

I'm not going to give these muffins much of an intro because these beautiful pictures say it all!

Bacon and cheddar cheese in a warm fluffy muffin would be welcomed at table along side the best of chili or soup supper!  They would be a wonderful change of pace from the everyday muffin or toast at breakfast with some farm fresh eggs and hot coffee on a brisk morning. 

They smell delicious while baking but taste even better!  For a new idea in the bread basket, you really should try these delicious bacon and cheddar muffins. They're a hit at our table this fall!

Savory Bacon and Cheddar Muffins
Gooseberry Patch

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. corn meal (I happened to have yellow self rising corn meal mix and it was good.)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided (I only had Colby jack so that's what I used this time.)
6-8 bacon slices, cooked crisp and chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 c. milk (I always use skim.)
1/4 c. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Combine dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Stir in 2 c. cheese and bacon; set side.  Blend egg, milk, and butter in a medium bowl and stir it in the flour mixture until just incorporated.  Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full with batter.  Sprinkle on remaining cheese. 

Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Let cool about 5 before removing from pan and enjoy!

Tonight we're going to have the muffins with this hearty sweet and spicy chili that's simmering away in my crock pot! 

Tis the season for comfort food, right??!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Happy Fall

Making homemade apple pie with Jonathon apples on this gorgeous October 1st.  My hands and kitchen are a mess but it's so worth it!

Just wanted to pop in and say "hi!!!" To all my friends here.  

                   Happy fall y'all!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

*Best Loved* Slow-Cooked Apple Butter

Welcome to a recipe that pretty much sums up the kind of food I love, the rich flavors of the season, the way I want my house to smell, and the homemade coziness I want my blog to convey .....  

Homemade slow cooked apple butter.  

This stuff is wonderful!!!  I'm a country girl at heart, and I grew up in a house in the country with apple trees.  Picking the good ripe apples, throwing the fallen ones over for the cows to eat, and climbing the apple trees were just a part of my growing up!  Apples with cinnamon is a familiar scent, because mom baked so many apple crisps and crumbles and pies in the fall and now I do the same!  There is something about the smell of cooking apples with spice takes me away to a picturesque and safe place in my soul. :)

I love the taste of creamy apple butter, so when I found this recipe I knew I had to attempt making it.  I published this recipe 2 years ago at Inspired By Family, and I'm excited that I'm finally getting around to bringing it to my blog.

This was my first attempt at making this spread homemade, and it turned out more delicious than expected!  Making it in the slow cooker allowed the process to be a bit more relaxed than other canning I've done, and it also filled the house with a cozy aroma!  This homemade apple butter is an excellent gift for family or something good to eat on all winter long with a flaky biscuit and a steamy cup of coffee.  

Slow Cooked Apple Butter
Recipe from Cooking with K

1/2-1 cups Water or Apple Cider

8-10 Whole Apples (I used Gala) washed, cored, and chopped

1-2 cups Brown Sugar

2 teaspoons Cinnamon

1/8 teaspoons Ground Cloves

1/8 teaspoons Allspice

1/8 teaspoons Nutmeg

1/2 teaspoons Salt

 Chop all of the apple, only leaving the core.  I left the peel on for just a bit of texture and fiber.

Place apples in the slow cooker and add sugar and spices.  Stir to combine. 

Add the water or cider. 

(If using cider, you may not want to add as much sugar as you would with water.)

Set cooker on high and bring to a bubble. 

Then turn down to low and cook for 6-8 hours, stirring every couple of hours.  If it needs to cook down even more, leave the lid propped open for a while.

The apple butter is done when it has a very deep color, apples are cooked to pieces, and it has thickened. 

Use a hand blender or food processor to cream it all together until smooth.  I had success using a hand blender right in the pot.  Easy and nothing extra to clean.

To can apple butter, you will need to buy jars and sterilize them in a boiling water bath or put in your dishwasher on "sterilize" setting.

To sterilize in a water bath, you will need to place a kitchen towel in the bottom of a sauce pot and fill halfway with water.  Turn jars upside down in the cold water and bring to a boil.  Boil over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Sterilize the jar lids, rings, and the end of your kitchen tongs in another pot the same way.  Never touch the inside of a jar or lid with your bare hands.  Use a tong for the lids and kitchen towel for the jars. 

Fill the jars to 1/2 inch from the top and take the end of a towel and dip in boiling water.  Wipe the rim of the jar very clean.  Place the lid onto the jar straight out of the water it was sterilized in, being careful not to touch it.  Take the tongs and get a ring.  You can place the ring with your hands to secure the jar.

When all of the jars are filled, place filled jars in a deep saucepan and boil over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Makes about 4 pints.

Remove and let cool on the counter over night. You know the jars have sealed with you hear the popping coming from the lids becoming vacuum tight once removed from the boiling water.  Store the jars of apple butter in the pantry, but if for some reason a jar doesn't seal properly, store in the fridge and use first. 

It won't last long!