Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Amazing Family, Delicious Food, and the Love of Christ!

It's a another cold day here in Kentucky, as I woke to a heavy dusting of snow as more fluffy flakes fell to the ground.  It was one of those keep your robe on, lights some candles, and get an extra large mug of coffee kind of mornings! 
We've had a few of those lately despite the rumor that spring is here!  I don't want to complain, because I do love snow and the excuse to keep my fireplace on all day.  But, where was this over Christmastime??
My husband has the day off, as he worked 'till 3:00 am last night and deserved at least a morning to sleep in!  I thought it would be a perfect time to make some homemade Good Morning Blueberry Muffins and surprise him with the smell of cinnamon and sugar when he woke up!
We enjoyed our muffins and coffee.  We talked about some uncertainty in our lives, but my hubby was quick to remind me of how the Lord is sustaining us and has given us amazing peace when we aren't for sure what the future holds!
I won't go into details in this post, but most of you who have read my blog for a while now know that we're praying and believing for children.  We have actually tried for almost 7 years now, and while it feels like we've been running a marathon of a race for years without a break, the Lord has been faithful.  He has truly accomplished a miraculous thing in us by taking away constant fear, anxiety, stress, discouragement and hopelessness that I felt for a long period of time.  I still have difficult days when I miss our baby girl in Heaven, but God helps me manage those with His love and peace that is no less than unexplainable!
The more I read His Word, the more I trust Him.  The more I trust Him, the easier it becomes and the better I hear His voice.  
He is showing us the way and giving us direction, but that will be for another blog post! :)
I have a big pot of chili simmering in the crock pot and should be ready tonight just before worship team practice at church!  I can't wait for practice tonight!!  We're singing in the ensemble this week on Easter, and I'm really looking forward to it!  Praising His name on Resurrection Day is my honor!
So I'm going to back up to last Friday, and let you in on my weekend that was full of family and food!
Since we were having complany, I bought a lovely bouquet of delicate tulip buds that were too pretty not to photo! 
I haven't seen my family in a while, and I've been missing our "girls time", so Mom and my sister Faith, came up for a quick visit!!!
When they arrived and after all the hugs, I made us a pot of delicious French press coffee to enjoy in some spring tea cups.  We love being girly!
They delivered to me a spring/summer wreath that I ordered from my really good friend, Sarah from Wreaths By Sarah.  She made it custom for me, and I just love it!!  The gorgeous "C" in the middle is my favorite part, and it looks beautiful on my black front door!  It makes a statement, even from the street.
Now my door is officially ready for Spring!
We decided to stay in Saturday night and make some homemade pizza.  Oh my goodness, we had so much fun!!!
Here you can see a variety of things including, Roma tomatoes, green and kalamata olive, red and orange bell peppers, red onion, fresh basil, turkey pepperoni, parm cheese, fresh mozzarella slices, more grated mozzarella and Colby-jack cheeses. 
Everything looked yummy!
Here I am trying my best to roll out and pat fresh pizza dough from Trader Joes (garlic & herb fresh dough) into the pan.  It kept tearing and giving me trouble, so I had a frown-y face!  (hahaha!)
Success!!!  Thanks to us all working together, we built two gorgeous pizzas!
This one is half margarita, which is sliced fresh mozz, Roma tomatoes, and basil leaves with a drizzle of olive oil.  The other side was grated mozz and turkey pepperoni. 
The other one (that you don't see here) is a veggie pizza on fresh whole wheat dough with red and orange peppers, olives, thinly sliced onion, tomatoes, basil and mixture of mozzarella and Colby-jack cheese.  We showered both pizzas with Italian seasonings and dried oregano.  YUM!!!
We're excited to put our masterpiece pizzas in the oven! 
Please don't mind the "every day-around the house look" about me.  I originally didn't think about all these pictures going on the blog. :)
Like I said, delicious.
Oh, and the pizza sauce is my own that I made from scratch! It's really easy to do. I don't have the measurements, but it consists of:
crushed tomatoes
tomato paste
minced garlic
onion powder
Italian seasoning
dried oregano
pinch of sugar
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

I make it a few hours ahead of time and store it in a mason jar in the fridge. It bakes on the pizza, but isn't cooked before so the flavors are bright and fresh! It's so delicious!!
We had a green salad of English cucumber, romaine lettuce, and baby spinach to go along with the meal.  We all agreed that making the pizzas was the yummiest idea, and the memories we made were just as good as the pizza! 
The next morning, Mr. Cozy actually didn't have to go into work which was a surprise.  He fixed us one of our favorite breakfast treats, Delicious Sticky Buns to go along with eggs and bacon.  These sticky buns filled with raisins, pecans and cinnamon and are some of the easiest and best little things a person can eat!
It was a very special way of starting off Palm Sunday before we headed to an awesome service at church.

It was cold and rainy on Sunday, and when Mom suggested we go to The Grape Leaf for lunch we agreed that was a terrific idea.
The Grape Leaf is one of our favorite local places!  It's an authentic Mediterranean restaurant in Louisville that serves everything so fresh and full of flavor. (As you can see, I ordered the beef-lamb gyro with lots of tzitziki sauce with cauliflower rice that was full of almonds and herbs and spices.)
The atmosphere is very cozy with candles on every table, warm golden colors and even a large fountain in the back corner that is so tranquil!  We sipped coffee and enjoyed the experience on a drizzly day.
The whole weekend was a blessing to us all! 
I am reminded of the good things the Lord has been so gracious to give me.  I don't deserve to have such an incredible family that loves one another so much, but I was born into that kind of stable home.  My praise and thanksgiving to God has power to help diminish the other things that I too often focus on not having!
I'm going to go now and check on my chili, but I hope you can also reflect on how the love and grace of God has been poured into your own life this Easter week. 
 Jesus Christ died on the cross because He loves us so very much (too much to comprehend)!  John 3:16-17
He actually carried all of the sins of the world.... all the sins that ever happened and will ever exist.  The perfect and blameless Jesus was carrying that load when He died, so that now we have eternal life and have a blessed hope of eternity with Jesus Christ!  We can boldly pray to God in Jesus name to forgive us of our sins, and we will be cleansed, set free and redeemed!!  Friends, I will tell you that I don't deserve that kind of love and grace.  But God thinks so! 
So when I have a moment of discouragement, I think about how much He loves me.
  When I comprehend that love--as much as my human brain can--I realize there is NO REASON for fear in my life.  If He loves me enough to die an agonizing death and bring Himself back to life, how much more will He do in my own life for His glory and praise!? :D   1 John 4:18, 1 John 4:4&5
He is Risen!!!
.... Now I really need to check my chili. :) 


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Blooms in My Dining Room

Although it's an abnormally frosty-cold day the sun is still shining, and I've decided to bring out some of my Spring decor to brighten up my home!   Bursts of yellow and white with hints of lavender nod to the colors of new life.  Spring is officially here (thank you Jesus) whether it feels that way outside or not!
I'm writing here beside my fireplace ablaze and my powder pink sweater, comfy jeans and warm socks.  I don't mind it still be cold enough for a cozy fire.
Let's talk homemaking!  Decor, specifically.  I haven't posted anything on my house in a while because not much has changed once Christmas was over.  January and February hold little inspiration for decor.  But now that a new season is here... there is inevitably welcomed changes going on inside and outside the home! 
A sense of newness has arrived!
The table is dressed with a yellow and pale gray detailed table cloth from home Goods and simply decorated with rustic lanterns and a dish of lemons and now (after getting back from the grocery) limes. I like the understated Tuscan kind of look.
I love to decorate, but I do it "on a dime".  I don't have a set style, but I buy the things I love that work together.  My home does not look like a designer showroom, instead  I'm a believer of flea markets, antique shops, boutiques, and Home Goods!  I like Pottery Barn a lot, but I've never bought anything from there directly.  It's too expensive for me right now, although I love to browse around and get ideas of what to look for in other places. 
Ultimately, I want my home to be comprised of things that reflect us and what we love!
Coziness and warm colors
European influences
 Details of a bygone era
Lovely things such as flowers and pretty linens or a tea cup and saucer
 Textures.  Soft blankets, Hardwood floors and cozy rugs, mix n match lamp shades
Incandescent lighting
Family photos
 Fresh fruit in baskets or herbs in jars in the kitchen.
Such things give me a sense of joy and home.
Like these sweet birdie salt & pepper shakers that were a gift from my precious sister!  Aren't they adorable in the little basket?!
Here is a cart with 3 wheels (haha!) that I bought right after we married on clearance at Pier 1.  It's been moved to about 6 different homes!  I think it looks the best in this one and in the dining room.  The bottom has a basket where I store some of my cloth napkins and antique cut glass serving ware.
I found this flower arrangement at one of my favorite stores, Ivy & Twigs in a small town in the wine country of south-eastern Missouri.  I've always loved the antique, Parisian look of the vase!  It's often moved around the house, but always ends up in here or our bedroom.
I'm fond of this warm colored, paisley lamp shade I found at The Tin Roof in Princeton, Ky. 
The sun was streaming in through the windows beautifully yesterday afternoon when I snapped this photo.  It gave so much warmth to the dining room!
I've always wanted to hang plates on the wall, and in this home I've decided to do just that.  The dining room seemed like the right place to display some of my collection of country rose china for a pop of cranberry reds.  The other two plates have a detail of tiny green flowers, and they came from an antique shop in Paducah, Ky. 
I LOVE this little lamp that I purchased at a nice flea market in Murray, Ky. recently when shopping with Mom.  We both thought it was too cute to pass up!  The glow that comes from the burlap shade is just so pretty at night.
My husband and I completely re finished this old, worn out little table that was passed down to us from his parents. It had water stains, a place where I burned it with a candle (don't ask!!) and just old looking cherry finish.
We are over all pleased with the look, although I'm not sure about how I like the way the top looks.  For now I'll keep the runner on it!
I love the curved detail of the legs and how the finish made so beautiful!  We first sanded and sanded, them painted the table a creamy white, and glazed it by adding glaze to some charcoal paint.  We finished with a bit of distressing. This was our very first time to finish a project with glaze, and it was a little nerve wracking but fun! 
Like I said, I love beautiful things.  These delicately scalloped cloth napkins were a wedding gift.
I added some lovely sprigs of flowers to the mantle for some spring flair!  I think the color really brings out the golds and yellows in the painting.
I strung these simple Dollar Tree wreaths with burlap ribbon to hang on the fireplace screen.  I'm not sure how spring time it looks, but I still love it!
The dining room is where you come in from the front door, so you're welcomed with this antique hunt board filled with memories and a greeting!
My dining room reflects my love for antiques, history, Europe and little lovely details.  I'm just so thankful to the Lord for giving us a home with my first dining room!  It's where many good meals and memories have already been made.
A house is just the shell, but a home is in the details! 
 I don't just want a perfect house or styled room just for looks and pictures.  No, we certainly LIVE in this house!  Although I try, it's not always this perfectly kept, because it's used and much loved!! 
I'm so grateful that I love homemaking, and I take pride in being the keeper of our house and the one to prepare meals.  I do my best to take care of what the Lord has blessed us with, and help make our dollars stretch so we can get the most out of things.  I love how God inspires creativity when we look for it!
Friends, that was the nickel tour of my spring dining room! 
Whatever the weather is, enjoy the first complete Spring day that we've been given in 2013!
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Delicious Baked Oatmeal Cups for Early Mornings

Here is a "pinned it, tried it, loved it" recipe! 
I've seen some really intriguing baked oatmeal recipes that looked delicious!  I'm a big fans of oats, so they have always sounded like a great alternative to the same ole stove top version of oatmeal that I eat on a regular basis.  When I came across these adorable baked oatmeal cups on Pinterest, I thought I am so making these!
They look like a muffin.  They actually even kind of taste like a moist muffin crossed with oatmeal, but they have no flour, butter, oil, or refined sugar!  Yes, my friends these sweet breakfast bites are actually healthy. 
To Moms out there ... your kids that never have liked oatmeal, will love these!!!
The sweetness comes from raw honey and ripe banana which also adds moisture along with the applesauce.  There is ground flax which is very good for your heart, but it doesn't change the taste at all.  Cinnamon is added for sweet warmth that smells like Granny's kitchen and tastes divine!  I'm telling you, when you're stirring up this batter, the aroma is wonderful.  I divided the batter, and added raisins and almonds to half and mini chocolate chips to the other half.  You can add whatever you like to eat in your oatmeal.  Any nut, dried fruit, or chopped apple would be delicious.  I bet you could even throw in some plump blueberries for a springtime flavor!
I'm excited for Mr. Cozy to eat a couple for breakfast before work. I know he's going to love the ease of having a homemade breakfast already made for his early mornings! Tomorrow we'll both enjoy these moist baked oatmeal cups together by the cracklin' fire with a large mug of coffee before the sunrise.

I'm thanking God for these small wonders in my life!
Baked Oatmeal Cups
Recipe from, Sugar Free Mom
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 C. Unsweetened Applesauce
1 Ripe Banana, mashed
1/2 c. Honey or 6 Stevia Packets (I used raw honey)
5 c. Old Fashioned Oats
1/4 c. Ground Flaxseed (Near the the flour in the store.)
1 Tbsp. Cinnamon
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
2 3/4 c. Milk (I used Skim)
Optional toppings: Mini chocolate chips, raisins, almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana, and honey together in a large bowl.
Add in oats, flax, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and mix well with wet ingredients.
Pour in milk and combine.  Mixture will be runny, but it's supposed to!
I divided the mixture in half and added 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips to one bowl and 1/2 c. slivered almonds and heaping 1/2 c. raisins to the other.
**Note: If you noticed earlier this said 1/4 c. it's because it did.  I actually only made half this recipe, but I'm posting this in the full recipe.  It is very easy to make half a batch of these and when you do, the add-in proportions are 1/4 c.**
Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners.  (I also sprayed the liners, although it may not be necessary.)  Evenly divide batter.  I put about a heaping 1/4 c. in each muffincup.
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating.  Allow to cool all the way before storing.  You can put them in freezer bags and freeze for long lasting fresh oatmeal cups.  Just sit out however many you want the night before and heat up in the microwave for about 45 sec. the next morning!
They are so soft and decadent when fresh from the oven!
Enjoy the healthy indulgence!
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