30 days

Christmas break officially ended today!  School began, work began, routines began.  While it is fun to be on break, there is something to be said about routines too.  It makes the down time more appreciated in the least.  My workouts were few and far between during break, so I started 2 30 day challenges yesterday.  1 is a 30 day ab flattener found on the Cassey Ho website.  The other is a 30 day arm challenge found on shrinkingjeans.net  Completing both takes under 5 minutes, but it is a quick strengthening tool to add to my “what should be normal” workout routine.  😉  Check them out and let me know if you are doing them along with me.  🙂

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2 (NIV)

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‘Twas the night before Christmas…

And all through the house, not a creature was stirring…except the puking youngest child… *sigh*

And so came crashing down the plans for our yearly Christmas brunch…*sigh*

We had great plans, which we hope to piece together throughout the week once all are strong and healthy again.  🙂  The kids had a skit about The Legend of the Candy Cane, we had brunch planned including such yummy things as quiche, she crab soup, crab cakes monkey bread, meatballs, champagne, desserts and other delectibles.  We had a new fireplace to share the “warmth” of Christmas.  😉  Not to mention gifts galore.

You know what though?… my kids (and myself, as well) were most disappointed about not getting together with the people!  We love being with our extended family!  We have been talking all month about how Christmas isn’t about all the frills and gifts, but solely the rejoicing of Christ’s birth.  The birth of our Savior!  Without this glorious day we would have no hope and no future.  And so, tomorrow, we will focus on that even more with our quiet and subdued day warding off illness.  I will miss seeing my family and serving them brunch and giving them gifts…but that will come soon enough.  Tomorrow we will just huddle together as a family and rejoice our king!  And if the kids are well enough, we will spoil them a bit with all the feast foods that are left to be eaten by someone…  😉  Oh yes and there will be presents of course.

Speaking of glorious, we just had an amazing Christmas Eve service at our church that was truly glorious.  Seriously, I would have paid money to see the worship team…their performance was amazing!  And the hope of Christ was clearly stated throughout the evening.

The hope of Christ gives such peace and joy!  I see it in my kids constantly.  They have such a wonderful perspective on things.  When we go to visit Joshua, it is a place of good memories for them.  The cemetery is just another playground where they are able to visit Joshua’s place, decorate it and throw in a game of tag.

I am going to repeat the quote I posted last time, because it is just meaningful to me.  Life changes, love remains…No matter what life throws at us…from a sick kid to a horrible loss…love remains.  Love is the most important thing we can give and receive.  Love from one another is an amazing thing.  Love from Christ, our King and Savior, trumps everything.

snowflakes and time

Can I just say that the snowflakes on the page are kinda cool on the woods picture?  haha!

So, its been 10 years since we said goodbye to our little guy.  Crazy how the memories are still as fresh as yesterday.  My amazing hubby gave me a card today that said life changes, love stays…so fitting.  So sweet that he still takes extra care of me on this day…probably because he is the only one who truly knows how this day feels.  Many relate, sympathize and empathize and have always been great support, but he was there for all of it.  It is also crazy how you can miss someone so much for so long that was here so briefly.  Just goes to show how special each life is, no matter how short.

On a happier note…I am so blessed to have known my little guy, to hold him, to have his wonderful siblings here safe and healthy, to have my family (immediate and extended), friends, and great anticipation for Christmas to celebrate our Savior’s birth.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas a little early in case time flies too quickly before I get back on here.

Christmas early?

I have never been one to begin celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving, and never ever before Halloween.  I was always a one holiday at a time girl.  However…this year, I am reconsidering.  If Christmas is the most important holiday…arguably over Easter, because while Christ was resurrected on Easter Sunday, He wouldn’t have walked the earth if He wasn’t born.  But God could do anything you say…yes, of course He could, which is why I put arguably.  I digress.  😉  Without Christ we would have nothing, be nothing, know nothing, have no hope, have no future.  While the world is falling apart…near and far, I may have changed my opinion about starting the holidays too soon.  Perhaps celebrating Christmas as early as you want, or even ALL YEAR, may be just what we need to do.  We have a Savior.  He should be rejoiced.  And we should wait expectantly for Him to come back again.  So…let the Christmas music play and have hope in Christ!

10.28.14

Yes I am still here!  Life just recently exploded (nothing serious, just time crunches all around)  🙂

First of all, I want to start with this verse that came in my email a few days ago.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

Talk about a convicting verse!  All of our thoughts and attitudes are judged by our SINLESS, PERFECT, Master and Creator.  If only we could remember that every day.  Remember that not only do we not have any right to judge another no matter how “bad” that person may seem, but how do we stand before our perfect maker knowing that He knows our innermost thoughts, feelings and secrets.  We are not called to judge, but we can hold each other accountable…there is a fine line there we must be careful not to cross.

Something else I have been convicted by for quite some time is prayer for children.  I have been a pro-life advocate for as long as I remember, but it goes beyond that.  We need to do everything we can for children all over the world.  Some of us can help them in a tangible way, some in a monetary way, some with prayer.  I feel that kids need to be the forefront of prayer…our own childrens’ eternity, babies not to be aborted, girls who are sold, children who are bullied, children who are abused, bullied, taken advantage of, and even killed.  Children need to know real love, real hope, real faith.  They need to know their loving Father through Him and through us, through prayers and through hugs, through warmth and through clothing, through kindness and through honesty, and through safety.  Let’s keep them in solid and consistent prayer.

Now, I also was supposed to put health and fitness on here too, so moving onto that, which is significantly less important than what I have typed above…BUT…we do need to take care of our temples, too…so here we go…

I have been doing pretty well with calories and workouts…I now have a Christmas party to add to the motivation list.  😉  Even if your calories don’t change, you will feel so much healthier if you switch soda for water and add some green veggies.  Health is the key, remember.  Health and toning is the goal!  If you have ever heard the saying “Abs are Made in the Kitchen” that is correct.  Granted you have a bit more leeway if you are working out hardcore, but part of being toned is what you put in your stomach.  Some foods will help shed fat, while others will put a nice fat layer over those muscles you worked so hard to achieve.  Switching up workouts also keeps your muscles on their toes.  I have been adding some cardio boxing into the mix, which has been great!  Constant moving, squats, arm and back muscles active, and very fun!

OK, off to tackle the day!  Enjoy yours!

unconditional

When I run on the elliptical in the morning I like to watch something to keep my mind off running.  😉  It is hard to find new things all the time, but I recently chose the movie Unconditional.  I really like it!  I love that one of the main characters is based on the life of a real life person.  This man changed the lives of so many kids.  I love kids!  So when a person puts his/her comforts on the line to change the lives of our future…well, it is a winning story for me and I highly recommend that you watch it!

Speaking of the elliptical…kind of…I was so good eating healthy since the summer and even through Christmas and New Years, but I got burned out of eating healthy and took a brief hiatus.  Amazing how all that progress can go away so quickly.  😦  Therefore… I am back to healthy starting today.  I had a healthy breakfast and a great run on the elliptical this morning.  I feel good and am actually ready to get back into the healthy routine.  As yummy as being unhealthy can be, my body really doesn’t feel good when I am unhealthy.  So I am ready to feel good again.  🙂

Christmas

The days surrounding Christmas had ups and downs this year, but one thing that NEVER changes is that Christ came down all those years ago to be born here on earth, leaving His perfect Kingdom, so that He could save our lives.  That is THE meaning of Christmas.  That is the unchanging good news.  That is why despite sadness we have joy!

Joshua’s birthday celebration:

Christmas Brunch, before eating commenced:

Some yummy recipes this year included banana cream cheese stuffed baked french toast, blueberry white chocolate coffeecake, scones, quiche and about a million other things.  😉

Here are a couple desserts after they were dug into…red velvet cheesecake and butterfinger bars:

The butterfinger bars were very good…a little difficult to cut and the recipe is surely for a small pan (I used a 9×13 and had to double and it was still a stretch!)

The red velvet cheesecake I couldn’t try, because of the red dye, so I am not sure how it turned out, but it looked good!  😉

BUTTERFINGER COOKIE DOUGH CHEESECAKE BARS

YIELD: Makes one 8×8 pan

Ingredients:

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE LAYER

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup flour plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips + 1/2 cup for top
  • 5 Butterfinger bars, king size

CHEESECAKE LAYER

  • 8oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

PREPARATION:

Create a sling by lining the pan with foil so that there is a one inch overhang on each side. Cover foil with bake spray. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE LAYER

Melt butter and let cool to warm. Add in brown sugar and mix to combine. Add in egg and vanilla extract and mix to combine.  Add in flour and fold to combine. Add in 1 cup of mini chocolate chips and fold to combine. Pour mixture into pan; set aside.

TO MAKE CHEESECAKE

Add all ingredients in a bowl and beat until blended. Set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Press 3/4 of cookie mixture into pan. Place Butterfinger bars side-by-side on top of cookie dough. Pour cheesecake mixture on top. Crumble remaining cookie dough sprinkle on top of cheesecake layer along with remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips all over top.
  2. Transfer pan to oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove from oven set on wire rack to cool.

 

RED VELVET CHEESECAKE

Yield: 12 to 14 servings

Prep Time: 1 hr + cooling and chill times

Cook Time: 1 hr, 15 min

CHEESECAKE:
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

RED VELVET CAKE:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (two 1-ounce bottles) red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Prepare the cheesecake layer: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.  In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese- blend until it is nice and smooth and creamy. Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake  and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely. This can be done in several hours- or overnight.

2. Prepare the cake layers: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round metal baking pans (or spray with nonstick baking spray with flour). In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar to the flour mixture. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat for 1 minute, until blended. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool completely.

3. Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy (do not overbeat).

4. Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan, and slide a knife under the parchment to remove the cheesecake from the pan. Peel off the parchment. Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be a slightly larger round than your cake, move it to a cutting board and gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake to get it to the same size as your cake layers. Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the 2nd cake layer on top of the cheesecake.

5. Frost and decorate the cake

Sweet Blessings

I know I keep saying this, but God is bigger.  Corny as it may sound if life is going to throw us lemons, God is the ultimate lemonade maker.  I pray that blessings pour out of the struggles that everyone is going through.  It won’t take away the pain, but may show the purpose for the pain.  Or at the very least, which is still amazingly great, we know He is with us through the pain.

Yesterday was Joshua’s birthday.  It is a tough time of year for me.  It is also a wonderful time of year for me.  I miss my little guy terribly, but I love Christmas.  Conflicting emotions.  My husband, the best one ever, took my kids out for a “secret mission” yesterday and they came back bearing gifts of balloons, ice cream and cards.  (The ice cream set me off on my emotion eating, which I had been controlling so well…but I digress).  It was the perfect gesture.  I cherish my family…I truly couldn’t be more blessed by them!

In the midst of sadness sometimes it is hard to find the joy…God allowed them to make the joy very apparent yesterday and I am thankful for that.

My heart still aches for my family and friends who are in so much pain right now, but it also sings with the joy of God’s blessings that I don’t want to miss through the tears.

Wasn’t I just saying…

Yesterday night I couldn’t sleep…it is funny how our bodies react to things.  I think about Joshua every single day, but whether I want to or not, the emotions come flowing out this time of year.  My mind spins, my memories overwhelm me.  I don’t think this is a bad thing…I want to remember, even if it is painful.  Anyway, since I was awake with a racing mind, I finally got out of bed and I blogged at 4:30 yesterday morning about Satan attacking people around Christmas.  Wouldn’t you know, about 12 hours later, he struck again.

My heart and prayers are with my aunt, my cousins and my whole family as we mourn the loss of my uncle who passed away yesterday with a great suddenness.  My aunt has a confident peace and hope that her husband is now with his Lord and Savior.  That is the only comfort for someone who suffers a great loss.  It doesn’t make the pain go away, it doesn’t mean there are no hard times, but there is a huge relief knowing that the one you lost is eternally at rest and made new.

My sweet cousin after just hearing the news late last night was the first one this morning who remembered Joshua with us.  It is an honor that people still take the time to remember him.

There are lots of trials and struggles in our world each day…here and across the world.  God is still and always BIGGER and he will overcome!