Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July!

God Bless America!

We've moved to our new house back in my hometown and almost settled in just in time for one of my favorite holidays.

snapped a few pictures on a gorgeous morning with my phone after I returned from a walk.  

These are around our property and yard. 

 I am so incredibly thankful to God for giving me my hearts desire.

The country life with wide open spaces, mature trees, and flowers galore!   

There are paths and gardens here and there leading into nooks and patios around the yard.

Today I was inside most of the day cooking.

Cooking and baking all afternoon for my family's big picnic on the grounds at my parent's tomorrow.  I shucked and cut 18 ears of fresh corn, made m&m cookie dough ready in the fridge to bake tomorrow, and I'll make the lemon meringue pie after the parade in the morning.  

They are sorting out the red and blue ones for the cookies!

Find this recipe here at my blog!

Tonight my grandparents came over and we enjoyed some strawberry shortcake with homemade lemon pound cake together with coffee.  It's so nice to have family in our home again!

love the summer, and Independence Day is certainly the highlight!  I feel overwhelmed with joy as we are celebrating in my hometown... The place we now live again!  

I hope tomorrow my USA friends will all remember our country came through a great price of bravery and sacrifice, but it's only because of God's mercy and provision in our land that we still have anything worth celebrating.  

May we celebrate our independence while depending solely on The One who sacrificed His life on the cross to bring freedom to all mankind!!

Happy 4th of July from my family here at The Cozy Little Kitchen!

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." 
John 8:36

Monday, June 1, 2015

First Light

Up at first light.

In my new kitchen in our new home!

The first morning to sleep here as a family and I'm awake before anyone.

It's much earlier than I usually get out of bed, and while a blanket of cloud masks the glory of the dawn, it doesn't dim my excited spirit even one bit!

I'm praying this kitchen is the one my daughter learns how to cook.  How to be patient with meringue as we slowly add the sugar and patient with me as I'm still learning how to gracefully balance parenting with my homemaking, being a present wife, and a good friend.

I pray Jayden come to us (perhaps in this kitchen) excited about finding his new climbing tree, or that he finally learned the new song on guitar he worked so hard on, or that he has decided to follow Jesus Christ heart and soul for the rest of his days!

Out this window I expect to see a lot of nature as God intended.  Sweet birds, squirrel families, deer, and fluffy snow drifting to the ground silently.  

By this window I hope to serve many birthday cakes, celebrate Easter, Christmas morning, Thanksgiving, and the first day of kindergarten with all the love and good food I could ever make.

Serving in the best way I can, as I feed Jesus into the souls and heart of my children and their friends along with the perfect PB&j or chocolate chip cookie!

I pray Heath and I will come to this table with our hands together in prayer over our lives and many others as we seek His kingdom come before the days begin.

I want to see the changing of seasons outside our window but especially inside our life that will glorify the Maker that created the sun and ordains our every step before life begins.

As the rains begins to patter outside, my heart is filled to overflowing as I sit in the home we've prayed for --and more wonderfully-- with the family promised to us so long ago.  

Trust in Jesus and fully in Him alone! We've now lived in 4 different homes as I've written at The Cozy Little Kitchen and I can attest that many things have changed, but one has remained constant.


"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will act."
Psalm 37:4-5



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Change is in the Air

Sipping my cinnamon coffee from a styrofoam cup since it's packing day!

Today is a big day.  The relocation company is here packing literally our whole house around me!  I am so crazy grateful that we don't have to pack ourselves for the first time ever.  What has always taken us about 1 month is taking them one day, which is impressive.   I've had a health issue come up recently that had made this blessing a gift straight from God for me to be able to just direct them without helping at all.  This is the 6th move in our marriage, so I am very accustomed to what is required to pack our house, therefore it makes this treat of somebody else doing the work even sweeter!  

It's been a while since I've written because my life HAS NOT STOPPED in several weeks.  I can't wait to sit a bit and share more with you all!!  

But 'til then, here's just a peek of our new home (taken in early spring).  We're getting the spacious yard we've always wanted!

Change is in the air for the real-life cozy little kitchen so look out for more of our new house in the country!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Luscious Spaghetti Carbonara

Let me be quick and to the point.

I love this pasta!!! 

It's insanely good, and it's a Tyler Florence recipe which is always the ultimate kind.  He can rock some recipes!

If you've never had it before, Spaghetti Carbonara is a simple and a relatively inexpensive meal.  His recipe calls for bacon although I think pancetta is the original way to make it.  It's rich and very decadent which is probably why I haven't made it at home yet, because I usually save those meals for the special dinner out.  My kids ravaged their plates and asked for more, so needless to say it was a major hit at our house!

If I have any Italian comfort food fans out there, here is your go-to dinner for a fancy pants meal without all the fuss.  Perfect for birthdays, dinner parties, or a Friday night- classic movie night at home!

Spaghetti Carbonara

Kosher Salt (I used sea salt.)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I omitted this since my bacon was fatty enough, but I'm sure it's good.)
8 slices of bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
1 onion, chopped
4 large eggs
6 Tbsp. heavy cream (I used half n half.)
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 lb. spaghetti
1/4 c. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (I used fresh basil.)

Bring a big pot of salted water to boil for the spaghetti.

Heat a three count of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the bacon and onion and cook for 7-8 minutes, until onion is caramelized and the bacon is crisp.  While that is going, crack the eggs into a large serving bowl.  Scrape the bacon and onion into the bowl along with the cooking fat. (I drained the fat here instead....sorry Tyler but a girl has to think of her arteries from time to time.)

By now your pasta water has come to a boil. Throw in the spaghetti and give it a stir to separate the strands; cook for the time allotted on the box for al dente pasta. Scoop out about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water and add that to the bowl while whisking the bacon and eggs the entire time.  (You want to be careful not to curdle the eggs here.)  Then drain the pasta and add it to the bowl.  Give everything a toss.  Invert a plate on top of the bowl top hold in the heat and let the pasta set for 5 minutes.  Remove the plate and toss in some salt and lots of cracked black pepper (YUM!) and the parsley, and you will have a beautiful, comforting Italian dinner!

**Tyler Florence is the BOSS of cooking, so I recommend doing it his way first. :)

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Delicious Sweet & Sour Green Beans

Today I'm sharing with you one of my all-time favorite green bean recipes, and that's saying something!  

I'm a big fan of green bean and think they're especially good fresh from the farmer's market or better yet, garden.  I have a history of loving me some classic green bean casserole at the holidays, delicious green bean bundles, and sophisticated haricot vert with butter and almonds.  I grew up on fresh cooked down green beans with ham hock or bacon, but this is a newer favorite and equally satisfying favorite.  Sweet, savory, salty and satisfying is this dish!  

I've used this particular recipe from Southern Plate before-- I love her recipes-- although the first time I had green beans cooked like this was in high school (Thanks Mrs. Ward!) before I knew anything much about food or cooking, but I will never forget this signature sweet and sour flavor!  When I came across this recipe, I was excited to make it for myself!  

Back to the recipe... Since I tweak everything a little, I usually I like to add diced red bell pepper for extra color and natural sweetness.  Also, I use brown sugar instead of white because in my opinion it's always better.  This recipe is tangy from the sugar and vinegar combination, and that is what makes it stand out!  Of course the bacon elevates it all and adds a crazy good depth of flavor...

Because anything that starts out calling for bacon and onions is amazing, amiright?!! 

I really do hope you can try out these decadent green beans for a special meal.  Easter would be a wonderful time to make some green beans with a delicious baked ham!  Let me know what you think.

Sweet & Sour Green Beans
Original recipe at Southern Plate

•1 lb. Green beans
•1/4 lb. or about 3 slices bacon, chopped
(Kitchen scissors are great for when cutting thinly sliced bacon.)
•1/2 small onion, chopped
•1/2 red bell, chopped
•2 Tbsp. Cider vinegar
•2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
•Salt & Fresh ground black pepper
*Sometimes I add a splash of water or chicken broth. 
*Last night I didn't have any red bell pepper, so they aren't in the photo here.

In a pot of boiling water, cook green beans to soften for about 5 minutes.  (If you decide to use the thinner French green beans or even canned ones, skip this step.) Drain beans and set aside.

In a cast iron skillet on medium heat, sauté bacon, onion, and red bell til bacon is crispy.  Add the green beans, sugar, vinegar, salt and plenty of pepper.  This is where I usually splash in water or broth. Toss to coat and continue cooking the green beans until desired tenderness.  Probably another 15 minutes or so, but I like mine tender.  If they look too sticky add more liquid but they are not to be "boiling" but more of a sauté.  Taste as you go and add more vinegar or sugar to your own preference.  Serve hot and delicious!
Serves 3-4  This recipe easily doubles!

Have a very happy Easter, and remember He Is Risen!!!

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

March Madness In More Ways Than One!

The month of March has been... incredibly busy but mostly, EXCITING!!!!

As you can tell we are all so happy!
These pictures were taken last night at our favorite local pizza place, Impellizaris as we celebrated! (No, not for March madness although, GO CATS.)
It happened.... 

We bought a our new house back in my hometown!!!!!
THE HOUSE I've dreamt of for years. 
The one at the end of the LOTR style 7 year journey of medical school and residency.  The period of time where we've really grown up, because we had to.  The journey that included years of infertility, pregnancy then heartbreak, moving to the city, living on a windy prairie, then back to the city again, 3 big moves, 3 rental homes, buying our first home, Heath gone many nights while diligently learning and working with on the job training day in and out, 3 different places of work for me then my "retiring" to be a homemaker, an adoption seed planted in my heart then seeing the fruit by bringing home 2 beautiful toddlers, and finally learning the ropes of parenting and becoming knit as family of four! *Exhale
That Journey. 
This house is the house we will move into as a FAMILY.
The house God has laid on our hearts that we kept coming back to when scouring real estate.
The house with the big yard, mature trees, and a perfectly long driveway for the kids to ride their bikes.
The house with the kitchen plentiful of cabinets and sunshine to stream in while I pour our first cup of coffee and prepare birthday cakes and Christmas cookies for years to come.
The house with the comfortable staircase I always imagined our kids trouncing down each morning that will be adorned with swags of garland at Christmas.
The house with the fireplace that will warm our bodies and souls after coming in from long days of play or, school, or work.
The house Heath and I will grow to know Christ on a deeper level as Father--Daddy-- so we can lovingly train our own kids He has given us with wisdom, strength, and integrity.
The house with beautiful bones that together we'll change to really make our own with touching family photography, farmhouse touches, kid's art, cozy lighting, and relaxing nooks to read and be inspired.
The house with the rooms we'll fill with new memories as we start the next chapter of our lives as Heath grows into the role of doctor he is preparing for and our oldest starts kindergarten at the school we are graduates of.
We're landing back in the place God called us from, but life will be different than it was when we left.  We were simply husband and wife with an easy job and low stress school, living in a cute one bedroom apartment with not much to our name but love and excitement for the future.  Somehow the future seems to just happen!  In this case, we are coming back full circle with the family we had prayed for from the beginning and the job Heath kept in his tunnel vision through years of school as he sacrificed much of his 20's for the call God placed on His life.  This is a house I would've only dreamed of living in, but I have loved every little place we've lived.  It's us that make it a home, not stuff.

Our current house--my first cottage-- is under contract (sold!) the very first day we put it on the market!!  God is in this, y'all!!! He has shown us favor and directed our steps even when it seemed we were being lead through the fog at times.  All the hard months work on our home paid clearly off when we had 6 showings and two awesome offers the first day.  You can't make this stuff up!  God has good things in store when we pray and trust Him!
But as it is written,
 'What no eye has seen, nor ear has heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him.'
1 Corinthians 2:9
I can boast in the Lord and brag on my husband, but I'm saying all of this from a honest and humble place.  

My family...we aren't perfect.  Our life is far from it, but it's a good one!  I have so much to learn and I fail constantly at my roles in life.  I'm a work in progress, if I've ever seen one and I'm crazy thankful for the grace of God!  Despite imperfection and at times a (very) messy life, I am His child!  I have His favor on my life and guidance in everything because I am His daughter.  I know that this journey in the perspective of our life is just a snapshot, but it has come with so much sacrifice and tears. My life is messy because I live on earth and I'm human, but the good news is I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!!!  
My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is make perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9
How does one wake up in the morning and not lose her mind after trying for a baby for tens of thousands of days?  God's strength. 
The very same power that has lifted my husband's feet to carry on into the gruel of med school and caring for others, after watching me deliver our dead daughter just days before. 
It's the strength I prayed for our little ones for nights on end after they had to say goodbye to the only family they knew to come into our forever (safe and secure) home with us being only strangers to them.  He makes us brave.
It's God's strength and power that lives in me to help me use my voice in words and not song on two different occasions now to speak publicly on what God has done in my life. 

It was God's strength for this country mouse to move from her whole world to a city knowing nobody but her husband, and learn to thrive there!
I began this blog post to just share the great news about our move, but I found time today to tell you more because there is so much behind a happy picture.  The excitement to move back home is more than just buying a new house and living closer to dear family and friends....  it's the monumental task that was at hand and places we've been in and out of emotionally, physically and spiritually in this 7 year journey as husband and wife with God. 
Though one can be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A three cord stand is not quickly broken
Ecc. 4:12
 Life will continue being pretty busy in the meantime, very exciting as a whole, and fairly mundane in the hour as this month comes to a close.  I may not have much time to blog, but we do have a new computer that makes it easier for me to write when I find the time!
May whatever awesome, amazing, difficult, or exciting day you are having know that it's a season of life, and I'm here to rejoice with you or to cry along side if you just need a shoulder; but God is who will never leave nor forsake you.  He's the best!!!
See you again soon I hope.  Happy Spring!