Monday, November 8, 2010

Christmas Card Drive

Wow, can you even believe that it is already the eighth day of November? NOVEMBER! And before you know it, it will be Christmas. Which brings me to the point of this post.

Each year I have made a point to help my children (and now my grandchildren) find ways to reach out to others during the holidays and share the love of Jesus. When I saw this Christmas Card project that Compassion International is doing, I got excited because this is something that anyone can participate in. Even if you have nothing financially to give. All you need is a computer with internet access, or a public library computer to borrow.

If you are not familiar with Compassion International, they are a Christian organization that provides spiritual, medical, educational and financial support to children in impoverished countries. They connect the children with sponsors who commit to send letters to the children, pray for them and give monthly financial support. One of the things I love about them is that the centers work with local churches to meet the needs in each community. If you would like to find out more about how you can sponsor a child of your own click here.

Now, back to the Christmas Card Drive....Compassion has teamed up with Dayspring to make a way for the kids in Equador to receive cards. And here's where you come in. 

From now through November 29th (the Monday after Thanksgiving) Studio DaySpring will be hosting a Christmas Card Drive for the children of Ecuador.

You design the card, Compassion will translate it, DaySpring will print it, and a team from both organizations will travel to Ecuador to deliver it in person in time for Christmas!

Four student projects with more than 100 unsponsored kids are looking forward to hearing from you. 

(Courtesy of Compassion International:

Won't you join us in being a blessing to these kids? You can find the complete details and the links to the card making by clicking here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

Well, hello there bloggy friends!! I know it's been a way too long since I've posted, but since I've already confessed to you all that I am quite possibly the world's worst blogger, we'll just skip right over that part and get to the yummy recipe that inspired me so much that I just had to share it.

A few days ago, my sister sent me a recipe that she said is her new favorite, so of course I couldn't wait to try it right away. As it turns out, it's my new favorite as well. In fact, this cake is so good that the friend we had over tonight said it was the best cake she'd ever had. Yes, it really is that good. 

So if you're looking for a new recipe to use this Fall, you definitely want to try this. The original recipe came from the Fine Cooking Magazine that is currently on the stands in the grocery checkout aisle. Here is the recipe after I changed it up a bit....

Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake

Make the Cake
1 ½  cubes butter
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
2 ¾ tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups sugar
⅔ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
⅓ cup butter milk
1 ½ cups pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 9” round cake pans. 
Melt the butter in small sauce pan over med heat. Cook, swirling in the pan until the butter turns a nutty golden brown (about 4 minutes). Pour into a small bowl and let set until cool but not set.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and spices. In a large bowl mix pumpkin, sugar & buttermilk until very well blended. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake the cakes approx 28 minutes until tester inserted comes out clean. Let cool in pans about 10 minutes.

Make the Topping

1 ½ Tbs. butter
1 cup pecans (I used walnuts)
2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
Melt butter in skillet over med heat. Add the pecans (walnuts) and cook until slightly brown (about 2 minutes). Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool in the skillet.

Make the Frosting

4 oz. butter
8 oz. cream cheese (at room temp)
¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 ½ cups powder sugar
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, over medium heat. Cook, swirling in the pan until the butter turns a nutty golden brown (about 4 minutes). Pour into a small bowl and let set until cool but not set. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until the solids settle at the bottom of the bow., about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the bowl to the freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving the browned solids at the bottom; discard brown solids.
Beat the butter, cream cheese and brown sugar on medium high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the powder sugar and continue beating until fluffy, 1-2 minutes. 

Assemble the Cake

Frost bottom layer (I put some of the topping mixture between the layers); put 2nd layer on and frost top and sides. Garnish with nut topping.

You're welcome....

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mason Jar Lanterns

With summer coming (it has to come sometime, right?) I start thinking about barbecues and backyard gatherings. And then I start thinking about all the fun things I can do to decorate and set the stage for those barbecues. And I like to do it with the least amount of money possible.

I love to look through catalogs and get inspiration ideas for decorating. A couple of weeks ago I was looking through a Pottery Barn catalog and found these really cool mason jar hanging lanterns for $7.00 each that I fell in love with. 

And then it hit me. I could make my own for a fraction of the price. Because I'm really cheap like that. :) So I went to Walmart and got a case of 12 one pint mason jars for $7.70 and then headed to Home Depot to get some 18 gauge aluminum wire for $3.48/50 feet. I spent that evening crafting away.

Here's how I made the lanterns. For each jar, I cut 2 pieces of wire, one 28 inches and one 24 inches. I twisted the wire and used a pair of needle nosed pliers to twist a two loops opposite each other and tuck the excess wire ends under to hide them. I then twisted the 24 inch piece of wire and made handle with hooks on each end to loop through the jar loops.

And here is my finished product....

My twist in the wire is definitely not as perfect as the inspiration jar, but since I'm not a perfectionist I'm really happy with the way they turned out. The best part is that it only cost me $11.18 for the supplies to make 12 jars, so I decided to get a box of these small mason jars to use as tealight holders. Just because.

If you would like more ideas on what you can to with jars, check out this Family Fun link

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Running On Empty? Take Time To Fill Your Tank!

In the past few months I have had several Moms come to me with their feelings of being overwhelmed with the circumstances of their lives so I felt it is an appropriate time for this post.

We Moms have a gift for loving people. With that love comes the desire to serve. Especially when it comes to our spouses and children. We do everything in our power to make sure their needs are met. We get up early and we stay up late to meet those needs. For some reason, we feel pressured to be perfect. For some of us it comes down to the need to be needed. And if we compare ourselves to the woman in Proverbs 31 we can really feel pressured.
But what about the needs of a Mom?
When is the last time you made sure your own needs were met? Please don’t misunderstand me here, I’m not talking about becoming self centered and putting our own needs first. What I am talking about it this ~ we Moms have got to put aside a little bit of time to take care of ourselves. If we don’t, eventually we find ourselves running on empty.
I have been parenting for a long time; twenty nine years to be exact. Our youngest son, who has special needs is still living at home. I have had up to six children living in the home at a time while we were doing foster care. Believe me, I have learned this lesson the hard way. 
I say that to say I know how hard it is for a Mom to find time for herself. In fact, at times it can seem virtually impossible. I know what it feels like to have so many things that have to be done in a day that you put aside your own need for replenishment. But, I also know it is absolutely vital to make it happen. 
I’ll share with you an analogy that helped me with a proper perspective when my children were younger. 
First picture the gas tank on a car. Imagine that you fill it up and begin driving. If you continue driving the car without ever going back to the gas station for a refill, eventually you run out of gas and end up stranded on the side of the road somewhere.
Our lives are the same way. Picture your life as having the following three tanks:
~ Spiritual tank 
~ Physical tank  
~ Emotional tank  
In order to function at our best we must make sure to fill these tanks on a regular basis. 
There was a point in time when my children were younger and my husband was traveling a lot that I became so overwhelmed with the circumstances in our life that I ran out of gas and stalled out. Literally, I reached a point where I had absolutely nothing left to give. For the only time in my life, I became paralyzed with depression for a couple of weeks. It was at that point I realized that my putting my own needs on a shelf & meeting everybody else’s needs was definitely NOT WORKING. Like I said, I learned this lesson the hard way. Hopefully you won’t have to.
I want to encourage all of you Mom’s to take time to take care of yourself. For your family’s sake as well as your own. 
Begin by answering the following questions:
When is the last time you spent time alone with God?
When is the last time you put aside time to exercise?
When is the last time you spent time with girlfriends?
I know we all lead busy lives, but if it has been too long, then I encourage you do something to change it. 
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
First of all, if you are feeling overwhelmed, please do yourself a favor and find someone you trust to talk to about it. 
Make sure to spend time alone with God to replenish your spirit daily. If you don’t know where to start and it sounds overwhelming, you can click here and follow PURSUEGOD  on Twitter or click here to follow on Facebook. Each day they post a simple daily reading plan and a daily declaration of faith for your life. You can even buy one of the Pursue God Journal’s through the Generation Unleashed Store if you like. 
Make time to get some exercise a few times each week. A simple walk through the neighborhood several times a week can be very therapeutic. If you have little ones just put them in a stroller and take them along. The fresh air is good for them, too. If you live here in Portland, you may have to improvise when it’s raining and take your walk indoors at the mall ;). But you can still make it happen if you set your mind to it.
It is vital to spend time with girlfriends. We meet a social and emotional need in each other that our husbands will never be able to. Not because they don’t want to, but because they aren’t made that way. You can always fill two tanks at once by getting together with girlfriends and walking together. You can create a network with other Moms and take turns trading childcare so each of you can get out and have a date night with your hubby or alone time

I hope that in some small way this helps. 

Have a great Saturday!!

O Lord, hear me as I pray;
pay attention to my groaning.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,
for I pray to no one but you.
Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.
Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
Psalm 5:1

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My Grandson ~ My Joy

Eight years ago today was truly one of the most joy-filled days of my life. The events of that day changed me forever. It was the day that a precious little bundle in blue would wrap me around his little finger and never let me go. 

Eight years ago today was the day I became a 'Grama'. My firstborn grandson, Isaac, made his way into the world and I have never been the same. One thing was sure, this little man put his grip on my heart and he has never let it go. It's so true what 'they' say. Being a grandparent brings a feeling that you can't begin to put into words for someone else. It's one of those things you have to experience to really get

Isaac is one of the sweetest, most caring and funny kids you will ever meet. His name means laughter, or he who laughs. Boy, has he lived up to his name. In fact he is the one person who can make his 10 month old cousin laugh harder than anyone else can. 

One of the most precious things is that Isaac (and all of my grandchildren for that matter) loves to write and draw,  just like his Papa. Every day he makes a new 'book', complete with story and illustrations. He pretty much just writes whatever he's feeling at the moment. 

Yesterday he presented this card to Marc and I....

Don't tell anyone, but I think my hubby looks a little like a Ninja Turtle here ;)

Seriously. This child has such a precious heart.

And he melts mine.

Happy Birthday, Isaac!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Sign Of Things To Come

I got really excited  (so excited that I actually stopped and took a picture :)) the other day when I saw this outside of my grandson's preschool: 

The reason is that this is a sign of things to come. It's only February and already signs of Spring are popping up before my eyes. Before we know it, Spring will be here and we will be surrounded by the beautiful colors of God's amazing creativity.  Once again, it reminds me that things that once appeared lifeless begin to show signs of a rebirth.  

Have you ever found yourself in a season of winter? A season where you felt dormant, forgotten? A season in which you felt like you had no life left in you? If you haven't yet, I assure you that at some time during the course of your life you probably will. Some of us we will experience it more than once. Not very encouraging, I know. But, the good news is that God's plan is to be our constant source of life during these seasons. He wants to use these seasons to perfect His character in us. It's up to us to let Him. If you are finding yourself in one of these winter seasons of life, call on Jesus today to give you strength and show you what He wants to work in you and through you.

Be encouraged and remember that Spring ALWAYS comes after winter. And when it arrives it brings with it a renewed sense of hope. And Spring comes, we get beautiful flowers as proof of new life...

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 

Monday, February 1, 2010

World's Worst Blogger & A Few Other Things...

I have come to the conclusion that I am quite possibly the world’s worst blogger. Sad, but true, I’m afraid. Here’s the deal - I really LOVE to blog, it’s just the actual sitting down and writing a post that keeps tripping me up. ;) I mean, some people just sit down at the computer and the words just flow off of their fingertips onto the keys and into a blog post in a matter of a few minutes. Like my husband, for example. (You can click here to read his blog.) But not me. Nope, not me. For me it goes like this...I have LOTS of great post ideas rattling around in my brain. No really, I do. Witty ones, serious ones, even some really funny ones. You name it they are rattling around inside of me. The problem is that when I finally get a chance to sit and work on it, I get writer’s block. Those witty words that had been in my head are suddenly no where to be found. They just up and leave. And when I do find those words, I usually over think them so much that it takes me forever to get the post done. So now you see what my problem is. *deep sigh*
Seriously, what’s that all about, anyway? I bet that never happens to my bff Beth Moore. Okay, so she doesn’t know she’s my bff, since we’ve never actually met or anything. I just imagine that if we ever did meet, she would like me as much as I like her and then of course we would end up being best friends. What? It could happen.
Anyway, speaking of Beth Moore, we will be starting her Bible Study on Esther next week. I’m really excited about this one because I have always loved the story of Esther and the difference she made for her people through her acts of courage. You can watch a video clip and get the details by clicking here.
And for those of you who have been missing our Mom2Mom Cafe play group at the church, we will start meeting again tomorrow morning @ 10 am on all campuses. If you need more information click here. If you have never come out for Mom2Mom Cafe, it’s never too late to start. We love seeing new faces. So gather up the little ones and come on out tomorrow morning to catch up with old friends or make some new ones! We’ll see you there.
And as for blogging, I really am going to try to be better about getting these posts out of my brain and on to the blog more often. :)
Until then, I pray that you are blessed and experiencing every good thing that the Lord has to offer.
~ Susan