Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Beauty of Imperfect Traditions

This morning I'm reflecting on family and tradition, something our family in particular thrives on!  There is something I find so comforting about a long standing tradition, because we grow to look forward to it and love it so.

A wonderful example is one we always had of worshipping God together at church every Sunday morning, followed by the big meal perhaps homemade or a favorite restaurant,  and then the glorious nap.  

The birthday celebrations with family or friends involving a favorite meal and dessert followed by a nap (just kidding), more like good conversations on the front porch swing while sipping coffee.

The most classic are the various holiday traditions customized to your own family's liking.  If your family is close in spirit as ours is, they usually include the most magical memories and are always oozing of cozy aromas in a bustling house, favorite movies, reminiscing, and excitement that brings you back to the good ole days of childhood!

I particularly thrive in this sort of thing!  I love wholesome traditions!

But, God is helping me to grasp not so tight on the same things that I see needing be perfectly predictable, because the past several years there have been many changes in our life.  

I'm learning that although usually uncomfortable in the beginning, change can be a wonderful thing!  

Comparing to an iconic literary character on this, I would be like Jo March from Little Women.  Growing up I always wanted to marry, but other than that I wanted a very consistent, change-free life for myself and siblings!  (That seemsso naive   and selfish, come to think of it.)


Excuse my chuckling, but that was before I really asked the Lord what He wanted from my life.  For me, that was indeed a big change!

Yes, I married the love of my life, which was answered prayer.

After just a few years we moved away from our entire family... to the city!   I'm a country mouse, remember?

Albeit, we stayed in Kentucky, but 3 1/2 hours away might as well have been halfway across the country!  No one in our family has ever moved away like this!

Of course that came with everything a big move involves: new church, friends, work, grocery shopping, zip code, neighborhood and insecurities.  This is the beginning of the real change God was doing.  The one inside myself!  My comfort zone had been obliterated, minus my husband by my side.

He was in medical school which meant I worked a lot to compensate to the investment my hubby was making.  My mom has always blessed to be a "house wife", so me being the breadwinner for several years was a big difference.

Getting back to where we were...

These days, other than Christmas (praise God), our traditions have had to be much more flexible in order to remain.  I can't be at all my siblings and parent's birthdays or at every Easter and Fourth of July celebration, bonfire, or wedding, as much as that hurts.  One year, my husband worked on Thanksgiving so we didn't see family at all that year!  I wouldn't have dreamed such a thing 10 years ago.

Before this sounds like a pathetic pity party, let me explain.  It gets better! God always has worked things out for us to have our most important traditions, but we've learned to get creative and become flexible!  Any growing family understands this concept, but if you haven't just take it from me, it'll make life much easier!

That one Thanksgiving no we didn't go home, but the weekend before when Mr. Cozy had a day off, my family came in, and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the very first time ever!  Mom helped by bringing some of the food, but I cooked a turkey for the first time among other new dishes.  It became a memorable celebration well always talk about!  On Thanksgiving day that year I decided to actually get out all my Christmas decor and decorate the house.  No reason to mope around!

This goes for many birthday celebrations to.  The exact day doesn't matter a bit, and yes sometimes my brother (who now lives in Chicago) can't fly in, or Papa (who works out of town a lot) may not be able to make this time, but it's okay!  Life goes on, so I don't want to be left crying over all the "imperfect" traditions when there is still much to celebrate!

This brings me back to the present.  Last Sunday was Easter or Ressurection Sunday, and my groom had to work all day and night long on that particular day.   So on Friday night, our own family of four celebrated together at our house-- Easter egg hunt and all!  The day didn't matter a bit to the kids, and if anything it just extended the holiday.  That way as parents we could still have festivities in our own home!  It was great fun!
Mr. Cozy encouraged us to go back to my parents house for the rest of the weekend since he wouldn't be around anyways.  He didn't want for the children to miss out a thing.  (He's a wonderful Daddy!)  I decided to do that, and I'm so glad we did!  My brother and Papa (my dad) wasn't able to come in either, but it was me and the kids, my sister and Mom.  We had the best time!!!! Being our children's first Easter with us, it was a very special one!!!

We came in Saturday evening to find the front porch ready for a beautiful, country Easter dinner.  

Fried chicken, homemade coconut pie, and all!

My favorite kind of food!

Mom took the time to make the setting relaxing and casual, but oh-so beautiful and serene as we indulged in fresh cut corn, cheesy potatoes, rolls with strawberry butter, and the likes.

Sometimes with a sweet little pea on my lap!

Of course sweet tea with lemon was in order-- and the children just loved their little bunny mugs to drink from!   They were big stuff! Hehe

They had their own precious table and chairs set for them.  It's one my parents have had since I was 5 years old.  If only that small wooden table could talk!

The kids had fun playing with Grammy (Mom) while I caught up talking with my sis.

The next morning I woke up and went to relax with warm cinnamon coffee in my robe on the porch before the kids awoke.

breathed deep the fresh country air, hearing only birds chirping and the warm breeze blowing in the baby leafed trees.  

I can feel God more when I'm outside,  it's something about being surrounded by His creation that surrounds me with His love!  But especially on Easter morn.

What lovely memories we made, although not our usual Easter traditions with some family missing, it was the best celebration I could've asked for!  I am so in love with my children, and was so proud of them at church.  I wanted to stand us and praise him the "charismatic" way in that small, sweet Baptist church. ;)

never tire of hearing the gospel message and being surrounded by my family in the church pews.

The beauty of the day was birthed from the calm in my heart.  

The steadiness of our family remains despite distance.  

Tradition is all well and good, but true celebration and heartfelt love will run deep nonetheless!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter, A little late

Jesus is alive!!!!

He has saved, set me free from my sin, and redeemed my life through His finished work on the cross!

I could go on and on about God's love for us, and mine for Him.  For now I'll leave it at that as I take a few more minutes on my parent's front porch to meditate on Him before getting the family ready for church.

If you don't know Him as your Lord and Saviour... Don't wait any longer.  He loves you infinitely no matter your present or past situation!  Please find a Bible believing church to go to or email me and I would love to tell you more!

Happy Easter!!!

**I wrote this yesterday morning while sipping coffee at my parent's house in the country, but I just realized it didn't publish until just now. So here it is now, but with a few extra pictures of the rest of the day which was lovely and included church with grandparents, dinner at a restaurant on the lake, and an Easter egg hunt.  So blessed!  If you notice, Mr. Cozy isn't in the pics because he had to work all day and also was on call that night at the hospital, too.  We sorely missed him!  Here goes...**

Monday, April 7, 2014

Eggs Olé for a Rainy Day!

It's another rainy spring day, but I guess that is what April is all about!  The trees are finally beginning to sprout baby leaves, our tulip and lilies sprouts are really growing, and since Mr. Cozy just reseeded the grass yesterday, we're thankful for these showers!  

Speaking of the (handsome) devil, he's off today and we slept in.  It felt so good!  He was sick last week and is feeling much better thanks to God answering our prayers.  The rain made it Just right for a lazy morning.

I decided to make a hot, savory breakfast consisting of a new recipe.  We already had banana muffins I made a couple days ago, so I settled on a delicious new egg recipe I found in my Gooseberry Patch cookbook, called Eggs Ole!  Cute name, isn't it?!

It turned out to be a wonderful choice!  This Southwestern flavored dish consists of mildly spicy green chiles, cheese, and eggs.  Pretty simple which makes it easy to add to, so I decided to add Canadian bacon.  I think chopped red bell peppers or tomatoes would be pretty and tasty, too.

It's really fast to put together!  Just layer your ingredients and forget about it in the oven for half an hour.  In the meantime, you can clean up and wash some fruit to eat along side. I also chose to spice up some round tator tots I baked off for little hash browns.  We ate all of this with strawberries and a muffin!  

The eggs ole were cheesy, spicy, and cooked up just right.  It was delicious!!  A dish I'll for sure make again!  If you like a western omelet, you'll LOVE this.

Eggs ole makes a delicious meal any morning with fresh coffee and some Oj with the family!

Eggs Ole!

12 eggs

3 small cans diced green chiles

16 oz. pkg. sliced cheese
Monterey Jack, provolone or Colby Jack (Shredded would be fine too. Probably about 2 cups)

2 c. Sour cream (I used light)

Salt & Pepper, to taste


(I also added about package of sliced Canadian bacon I chopped and cooked in the skillet before adding.)

Spoon chiles into a greased 9x13 dish; top with cheese and chopped Canadian bacon. Set aside.  Beat eggs and sour cream with salt and pepper to taste; pour over cheese.  Sprinkle paprika and more pepper if you want.  Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes.  Serves 10-12

(I halved this recipe and baked in a 8x8in. pan for about 32 minutes.  Serves 4-6)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My "Family" Blog

God is so good!  He has given us two children who have turned our world upside-down while filling our cups with laughter, silliness, joy, innocence, dancing, singing, stories, imagination, crumbs, and --yes-- chaos! 

But He has also used them to inspire change within us resulting in more patience, humility, discipline, maturity, conviction, compassion, integrity, trust, and beyond all of that LOVE in our own lives.

Being a parent has convicted me to step up to the plate (or cup) that God has filled brimming full in my life, as I strive be the person I want my children to become .....

If you want to read the rest of how God has been working on since I've become a mommy, or if you're more interested in my family life or walk with God, I would love for you to welcome you to my other blog!  We started it about a year ago when we were finishing our homestudy in the adoption process.  If you wonder why my recipe posts may be thin over here, it's probably because I'm over there writing about my family!  

Bringing Home Baby C is the name and the link is in my profile!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Birthday! M&M Cookie Bars

I can't believe tomorrow we'll be celebrating our son's 4th birthday!  

Wow, is time going too fast!  Today he went to mommy's day out/preschool like he does twice a week, and I wanted to take a fun treat for his class to celebrate his birthday!

Here they are at Kylie's party.  She just turned 3!

Sometimes it just hits me.  I can't believe I'm baking treats for our children. What a long time coming, thank you Jesus!  They truly and honestly are two of the most precious little children I know!  

Our son is funny, entertaining, compassionate, he doesn't miss a beat, and he's a handsome little devil!!  

He loves us so much he really does treat his sister so sweet!-- most of the time! ;)

I am so proud that he's our son!!!

Back to our "sweet talk".  

I've always loved chewy m&m cookies from childhood!  I recently found a delicious recipe that I love making and I shared with you last fall.  So I thought I should use those fun primary colored, chocolate  candies in his birthday treats, too! I found this incredibly delicious m&m cookie bar recipe, and now I'm so hooked on these yummy bars!  Just look at how colorful and fun they are.  They're also really chewy, and bars are much faster to bake than a batch of cookies.  

I am so happy that I got to send my precious son to school with these yummy cookie bars to share with his sweet friends!  He was so excited and proud that I made them, and that makes me one happy mommy!!

M&Ms Cookie Bars

2 1/8 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
12 Tbsp. butter ( 1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 12 oz. bag M&Ms, divided

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position.  Grease a 9x13 pan set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.

In a large bowl. ( I used my stand mixer here.). Whisk together sugars, melted butter until well combined.  Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. And mix well.  Using a spatula or turning your mixer to low, add the dry ingredients slowly until combined. Do not over mix.  Gently stir in 1 c. M&Ms  and pour batter into prepared pan.  Smooth the top with a spatula and sprinkle remaining M&Ms over the top, pressing them in slightly.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until bars are a very light golden brown, slight firm to touch and beginning to pull away from sides of pan.  I would rather take them our too soon than not to have a chewy bar!  Cool completely before cutting.

Note: my brown sugar was too hard to use much of (fail!).  What I had to do this time was use 1/4 c. Brown sugar and 1 1/4 c white sugar and they still turned out chewy and delicious.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Barefoot Contessa's Decadent Brownie Pie

Why does chocolate have to be so, SO, good!!??

My husband is the master of all brownies.  His dessert speciality has always been an over-the-top, indulgent, chocolate upon chocolate, kind of brownie!  In high school he would bring to any party or movie night "his brownies". They usually started with Ghiradelli brownie mix, and he would add chocolate syrup and chocolate chips to the batter!! (So moist and gooey.). If that wasn't enough richness already, he would make a homemade fudge icing recipe that he poured over the top!  The icing set up like fudge, and his decadent brownies would be ready to be devoured!

Then, if we wanted to really throw all care to the wind ( I mean why stop there?) we would top it with ice cream for a brownie sundae.

Those were some of the best brownies ever!!!

Note, this was in high school before we knew about any reasonable portion control, haha!  Not that I don't indulge now because I do (probably too much at times), but now I try to temper my dessert nights with healthier choices throughout my day.  

one thing hasn't changed over the years...  my Love still makes some amazing brownies!!

Last week, I was feeling pretty sick with a cold, and he decided to make supper and dessert!!  Yes!  This man who works hard all day at work came home to help me out with supper.  

I am eternally grateful!!!

He found the recipe to Ina Garten's --The Barefoot Contessa-- brownie tart or pie, and he whipped it together.  This brownie is b-e-a-utiful!  It looks like it came from a bakery.  

And it tasted amazing!!!

Gooey and rich.  Speckled with walnuts for crunch.  Glossed with melted chocolate.  Chocolate perfection for a decadent treat!  A small slice is all that's needed, since it's so rich.  It doesn't have cocoa powder, instead chocolate chips, and there is little flour.  All of that makes it extra gooey, almost creamy in the center.  

So with Valentines Day coming up, I thought I would share with you our delicious discovery if perhaps you're looking for that chocolate dessert that would be right to end your Valentines Day with!  I'm sure your loved ones would appreciate the time you took to make something like this!  

know that we certainly did!!! :)

The Barefoot Contessa's Brownie Pie
Serves 8-10

6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
3 1/4 c. (20 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
3 extra large eggs
1 c. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Instant coffee granules
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. All-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt, kosher salt if you have it
1 c. Walnuts, chopped
2-3 Tbsp. Heavy cream

Grease and flour a 9 inch tart pan with removable sides.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt butter in a bowl over simmering water.  (A double boiler)  Add 2 cups of chocolate chips, remove from heat, and stir with a whisk briskly until the chocolate is melted and glossy.  Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, use a paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, coffee, and vanilla on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the cooled melted chocolate.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, 1 cup of chocolate chips, and walnuts.  Fold in the mixture until just combined.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the center is puffed (the top may crack).  The inside will still be very soft.  Cool a little bit before eating if you want it soft and gooey, and cool it all the way if you want a prettier slice.  It needs to be mostly cooled before removing tart pan sides.

Melt the remaining 1/4 c. Chocolate chips with cream and drizzle the ganache over the tart.  Beautiful!
Ready to devour!

* Note:  Please be sure to add the coffee granules.  It adds richness and make the chocolate more chocolate-y tasting!!  Honest;)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I Need .....

He is the answer to all our needs, and the only One that will fulfill us truly.  Have a blessed day in Lord, my sweet friends!