Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review - "Grace for the Good Girl"

I had read about this book on several Christian blogs I stalk and was excited to add it to my list for this year. To be honest, I am completely enamored with book covers. I love the art of a beautiful book cover. If the cover captures my attention and the title sounds interesting, I will usually read it. I don't like to read the little summaries on the back of books, or read very much detail about the book. I like the suspense and mystery hidden inside the pages.

This is the description from Amazon:
"Many of us believe that we are saved by grace--but for too many, that's the last time grace defines our life. Instead of clinging to grace, we strive for good and believe that the Christian life means hard work and a sweet disposition. As good girls, we focus on the things we can handle, our disciplined lives, and our unshakable good moods. When we fail to measure up to our own impossible standards, we hide behind our good girl masks, determined to keep our weakness a secret.

In Grace for the Good Girl, Emily Freeman invites women to let go of the try-hard life and realize that in Christ we are free to receive from him rather than constantly try to achieve for him. With an open hand and a whimsical style, Emily uncovers the truth about the hiding, encouraging women to move from hiding behind girl-made masks and do-good performances to a life hidden with Christ in God."
Even though I was quick to add "Grace for the Good Girl" to my reading list, I was a little apprehensive. I don't like typical self-help books or books that give you a list of 10 steps to fix a problem, most of those steps eluding to "finding the power within you." Blah blah blah. This book was nothing like that. It addressed a real issue many women (and I'm sure some men) face day to day and turn to the Bible for the solution to deal with the issue.

Without giving too much of the book away, I will give my brief summary. The author, Emily Freeman, addresses the issue of living life with masks on. Masks of strength, responsibility, happiness used to hide the true emotions brought on by the events of life. It is alright and natural to have emotions and reactions to life. Freeman gives encouragement to choose if we are going to deal with those emotions by putting on masks or trust God and let His peace rule in our hearts. We are not to let ourselves sin with our emotions, but find the balance in acknowledging them and relying on God's peace to properly handle them.

This book was extremely easy to read. Freeman has a beautiful way with words. She turned to Scripture constantly and was able to describe God's Word in a way that was real and applicable to me. Granted, not every explanation and use of the Word was accurate and true, but most was.

As I was reading, I wrote down several passages which spoke to me in a powerful way. I want to share a few with you.

"If what I do is done in complete dependence upon the Father, then it doesn't matter what that thing is, rather who the one is doing that thing. Is it me? Or is it him? Colossians says that by faith, it is beautifully and mysteriously both. (Col. 1:29) Who am I to decide what is extraordinary? The Father has already decided. He says he himself is extraordinary. So anything I do as I depend on and partner with the Extraordinary One, I suppose that is extraordinary too." - Grace for the Good Girl, p. 61

"Quiet time is no longer something I do. Rather, it is a description of what happens when I am with God. Time can be a loud, chaotic, rushing-around companion. But as I sit in the presence of God, he quiets my time. No that I know what the truth is, I long to allow space for my soul and spirit to begin to believe it." - Grace for the Good Girl, p. 149

"When my patience is gone, he offers to be patience for me. When my strength is spent, he becomes strength in me. When my faith is small, he believes on my behalf. Every time." - Grace for the Good Girl, p. 215

Friday, January 27, 2012

Recipe Reviews

So, remember my goal of trying one new recipe a week and posting a review? Yeah, that's not going so well. I have tried a few new recipes so far this month. I'll do my best to combine reviews in this post.

Chicken Rollups

This was an interesting recipe. I was a little skeptical about it from the start, because of the issue with the crescent rolls being baked in a sauce. Can you say soggy bread? But, the picture looks so yummy that I wanted to try it.

My additions:
I added bacon into the cream cheese and chicken filling mixture. I also added a little sour cream to the sauce and the filling.

The flavor was alright, but not exceptional. I got it a little too salty, probably because I added the bacon. Otherwise, the flavor was a little one-dimensional. It needed something to jazz it up or add a little pop.

As I was afraid, the texture was a bit icky. The crescent rolls were soggy, which wasn't so yummy in my mouth.

This was a fairly time-consuming recipe. I sauteed some onions and cooked the chicken as I was making the dish, which added some time. If you had pre-cooked chicken and didn't add onions, the prep work wouldn't be as time consuming.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Hawaiian Sweet Roll Ham Sandwiches

I made this dish for Friday night supper of our annual meeting. I had been seeing it float around Pinterest for quite some time and was anxious to try it. The ingredients were a bit expensive, but not outrageous.

My additions/changes:
I didn't use the Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. I could only find a small package and they were super expensive. I used small potato rolls instead, which I thought were good.

This was a winner in the taste category! Every last crumb was eaten. The combination of the sweetness from the rolls, spiciness of the Dijon, and the zing from the poppy seeds was a perfect blend.

The great thing about this recipe is that it can be put together earlier in the day, kept in the refrigerator, then just popped in the oven before time to serve. It's a perfect potluck dish or would be great for Superbowl Sunday.

Five stars!

Cabbage Rolls - - my combination of two recipes

I was visiting with my Grandma when they were here over the holidays and we got to talking about ideas for suppers. I asked her what kinds of dishes she likes to fix with ground beef. One dish she said she fixes often is cabbage rolls. I had never heard of them, but it sounded good from her description. I hunted for a good recipe and ended up combining two recipes.

My additions/changes:
I sauteed half an onion in butter and added a pound of ground beef to let it brown just a little. I don't like putting raw ground beef in the crock pot. It just weirds me out. I added 1/2 cup brown rice, one small can of tomato sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano, celery seed, dill, paprika, and a dash of cayenne. I didn't have a package of onion soup mix like the first recipe calls for, so I just threw in some spices I thought would taste good. Once I rolled the filling in the cabbage leaves (I had to look up a video on how to core cabbage!), I made a sauce out of tomato soup and beef broth. I cooked it in the crock pot for about 5 1/2 hours.

I really liked this dish! It smelled delicious as it was cooking and made my mouth water all day. I thought the flavor was just right, but Chris said it was a little too sweet. I really liked the taste of the cooked cabbage with the meat filling.

This was a little time consuming to prep. The good thing is that you can do it earlier in the day and have supper done. It does make a mess and uses a lot of dishes to get it together. If you don't brown the ground beef, then you could mix the filling up in one bowl and use another bowl to steam the cabbage. Then you wouldn't have as many dishes. But I seem to like to dirty a lot of dishes as I'm cooking.

Four stars (I would give it 5, but I gave it 4 since Chris wasn't a huge fan.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Closet Organization

One of the first things I did after we moved in was hang all my clothes in the closet. After that, the closet didn't get much attention. I just tossed my things in there, sometimes putting them in a logical place, but not usually. Every time I would walk in, I would tell myself I needed to work on cleaning and organizing it. I finally got around to it this afternoon!

This is how my closet typically looks....

One reason I've hesitated on getting it organized is that I was trying to come up with a solution to display/store my jewelry. I have a small jewelry box on my dresser for my nicer stuff, but I have a TON of necklaces! I've been browsing around Pinterest and came up with a few ideas.


I decided the last idea would be the best use of the space I have and hold the most necklaces. I bought the towel rod and shower curtain hooks at Wal-mart. I started hanging the towel rod on Tuesday night, but didn't get very far. I was determined to do it myself. I took out the instructions (which were clearly for a man because they were just pictures and no words), marked the spot for screws on the wall, and went to find the drill. The drill didn't have a bit in it and there's no telling where I could find them in our garage. So, I got frustrated and stopped.

I am happy to say that I completed this project by myself today! I found a different drill and went to work. Once I had it installed, I stood back to admire my work. It was very much a "I-am-woman-hear-me-roar"moment.

Here's how my closet looks now!

And a close up of my necklace holder.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The one about the mule

"Your buggy stopped here, so you will just have to sleep here for the night. We'll find your mule in the morning."

Imagine me saying this. Imagine me saying this to Grandma. Imagine me saying this to Grandma at 1:00 AM.

One of the aspects of dementia that we are dealing with in Grandma is the inability for her to differentiate a dream from reality. When she wakes up in the middle of the night, she is often confused about where she's at and what is happening. Most of the times she wakes up, it is because of a dream. It doesn't take long to figure out what the dream was about. For long time, she was dreaming about being on a train every night. She would wake up 2 or 3 times wanting to get off the train or wanting to know when it was stopping. Her dreams are often about family members, which she wants to know where they're at when she wakes up. She's had dreams about cows and peanut farming.

While it can be quite humorous, it is often difficult for me to think clearly enough in the middle of the night to get her calmed down. I've tried to rationalize and explain to her that she's having a dream and whatever she is asking about didn't really happen. That doesn't go so well. Most of the time I just try to roll with the punches. I'll usually take her to the bathroom, which works as a good distraction. Then when I'm trying to get her to lay back down, I just say that she'll see that person in the morning or that whatever she's asking about will happen in the morning. Usually, this calms her down enough for her to go back to sleep. Sometimes not and it's a long night.

So back to my line from the beginning....

I heard Grandma talking around 1AM Monday night (Tuesday morning, but that's confusing). When I went into her room to check on her, she said that her mule had run away. She was banging her fist on her bed rail, saying that her horse (the bed rail) was pulling the buggy when her mule ran away. She was very concerned about getting to wherever she was traveling with a group. Enter my comment about stopping the buggy here for the night and finding the mule in the morning.

She went back to sleep after a few minutes. I couldn't help but to laugh a little as I stumbled back to bed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Touches to the craft room

I've slowly been adding little touches to my craft room. I came across this idea on Pinterest. Now, I can't seem to link it back to the rightful owner. So I'm stealing someone's idea without giving them credit!

I love how this turned out! It adds just a little extra pop and interest above the bed. This was such an easy and relatively inexpensive project. All of the supplies came from my favorite place, Hobby Lobby. The total for all the supplies was around $25, but that included a lot of extra fabric for future projects. The hardest part of the whole deal was getting it hung up on the wall in a manner that looked appealing to the eye, but not too perfect.

I'm linking this project up to the Pinterest Partayy going on over at What the Graham?!, Baby Gator Den, Design Build Love, Hernando House, Merrypad, and The Stucco Bungalow. Head on over to these great bloggers to see other awesome projects inspired by Pinterest!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Craft Room Sneak Peek

My craft room has gone from this:

to this:

I still have a lot more organizing, decorating, and sprucing up to do before I do a big reveal. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

2012 Goals

And now I will share my goals for 2012.
  • Read through the entire Bible in chronological order. A sweet sister in the church shared this website (Read the Bible in One Year) with me. It allows you to select whether you want to read the Bible through from the beginning, in chronological order, historical order, or passages from the Old and New Testament each day. I'm really excited to read through the Old Testament in chronological order.
  • Learn to quilt. I'm going to have a new niece or nephew in June, as well as an adopted niece or nephew (my best friend's first baby!) in June. I hope to make a quilt for both of them.
  • Run at least 25 miles a month, for a total of 300 miles for the year.
  • Read 50 books. I have a list of books that I didn't get to last year, plus a new long list. I'm sure there will be others added to it as the year goes on!
  • Try one new recipe a week and post a review. This isn't really difficult for me, because I love trying new recipes. Posting the review might be more of a challenge!
  • Take one picture each day. I'm already behind on this, because I didn't decide to make this a goal until a few days ago. But, I'll give myself some grace and take a few extras to make up!
  • Learn more about blog design. I want to learn to make my blog more personalized and attractive my lovely readers. I'm a little tired of the cookie-cutter templates and functions.
  • Send one handwritten note each week. This is a repeat from last year, but something I still want to work on becoming more of a habit.

Here's to a year full of learning, growth, and fun!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

So how about those 2011 goals?

Like most people, I started out 2011 with a list of goals to accomplish throughout the year. The year brought about a few extra surprises, thus I didn't do so well at achieving those goals.

My goals for 2011 were (how I came out on those goals is in red):

  • read the Bible through (using The One-Year Bible published by Tyndale) - - I successfully read through the Bible! As always, it was an enlightening experience. There were times when it was difficult and I got behind a few days, but I managed to finish.
  • eat more fresh fruits and vegetables - - I can now say there are a whole lot of "new" vegetables that I like as of this year! I really like starting my day with a raw spinach, banana, almond milk, and peanut butter smoothie. The produce aisle at the grocery store has become one of my favorite spots! I'm so thankful to be living in an area where produce is easily accessible year-round.
  • send one handwritten note a week (not starting out so well on this one!) - - Well....this was a good thought, but was not carried out so well. I often thought about people I needed to write, but I would let other things get in the way.
  • call my grandparents more often - - I feel like I did pretty well with this. I tried to call one of my grandparents every week. I know I need to do better with this. It is always encouraging and comforting to talk with my grandparents. We live so far out from all of them and usually only get to see them once a year. Making a conscious effort to call regularly helps to stay connected.
  • run 3 miles in under 30 minutes -- I'm not sure that I can say I can consistently run 3 miles in under 30 minutes, but I have done it on several occasions. It is easier for me to run 3 miles than it was at the beginning of last year, but I'm still far from being a "runner."
  • learn to knit -- Nope, didn't even try to learn!
  • read 50 books - - I was 15 books short of my goal! Actually, since I read through the entire Bible, you could say that I read 107 books this year! :)
  • stick to a grocery budget - - HA! I always had a budget in mind for each month and did really well on my big grocery trip at the beginning of the month. But, all those little trips here and there get to us!
  • intentionally save money - - I'm going to say that I half-way accomplished this goal. I was able to save a good chunk of my Christmas/birthday money (from 2010) throughout the year and still haven't spent it! We were fairly diligent about saving for our Disney trip and a few other things, but not nearly as much as I had hoped.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

2011 Recap

Let's take a moment to recap the highlights of 2011...


We were very thankful for the blessing of Chris starting his job with Blue Cross Blue Shield. Even though it proved to be a rather boring and stressful job, I'm thankful for the Lord's provision and for a husband who was willing to work through the stress to provide for our family. With him working full time, I was staying at home with Grandma and keeping busy around the house. I worked on many crafty projects, including making felt food for a dear friend.


The end of January and beginning of February brought a big snow and ice storm to Texas. I felt like I was living in Illinois again, except it was worse! We were stuck in the house for several days. It was fun to watch the dogs run around in the snow, but we were very thankful to see the warmer temperatures after a few days!


We were sad to experience the loss of our sweet Golden Retriever, Wilson, in March. He brought us a lot of joy and happiness in the four months we had him. I still think of him often and wish I could cuddle with him again! To keep myself entertained throughout the month of March, I attempted to do Weekly Challenges here on the blog. I spent a week deep cleaning the house, wearing a necklace each day of the week, trying new recipes and giving reviews, and keeping my kitchen clean.


April brought much warmer temperatures to Texas, which meant getting the garden planted! Chris worked hard to get the plot ready and everything planted. I worked on cleaning out a flowerbed and planting my herbs. It felt so good to work outside after the cooler winter.


May was the month for the kitchen renovation! Chris tore out the old cabinets and counters and put in new in order to make room for a dishwasher! I really appreciate his willingness to make my life easier! Unfortunately, we never got around to finishing the kitchen before we moved.

We also took a trip to Mississippi to visit my grandparents. My parents, brother and sister-in-law also drove down to spend a few days with us. We had a great time visiting, shopping, and going to the beach.


I took a weekend trip back to Illinois to attend the annual meeting at Little Flock the second weekend of June. It was wonderful to spend time with my family and to visit with our church family there. We were also busy harvesting the garden throughout the month. We put up a lot of vegetables in the freezer and I tried my hand at canning pickles for the first time.


Chris and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary on July 5. We celebrated by spending the day in Dallas before we headed to Florida. This was our first trip together to Florida to visit Little Union. It was during that visit that I fell in love with the church family and felt the Lord working in our lives.

We also welcomed Bailey into our family in July. We are thankful for the time we got to spend with him. Sadly, he didn't work out well in our family, but we are thankful he is happily enjoying his new home with Chris' mom and her boyfriend.


We celebrated Chris' birthday weekend with his family in the Metroplex. The weekend was filled with a lot of fun as we went to two Ranger's games and spent a day at a water park.


September was a pretty low-key month for us. We made another trip out to Florida together. I also made a trip up to Illinois and Ohio with my mom. I also started subbing part-time, which was full of interesting experiences.


October was a big month for us! We found out that Chris was called to pastor Little Union and made the decision to move to Florida. We are so thankful for the Lord's work and direction in our lives. We were also excited to have my friend, Shelly, visit for a few days. It was a great time of catching up, laughing, and working on craft projects together.


November started out with Chris and I making the decision to move Grandma to Florida with us, rather than put her in the nursing home. The month was also full of making plans and packing for the big move. We also enjoyed Thanksgiving with Chris' family. The end of the month brought the big move!


We welcomed December in our new home in sunny Florida! The move from Texas went very smoothly. We were anxious to get into our house and begin settling in. It didn't take us long to get unpacked and deck out our home for Christmas. We were excited to host our first church fellowship in our home. We closed out the month and the year by spending a week at Disney World with my family. It was a fun-filled and memory-filled week, a perfect way to end a big year!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Disney Family Reunion

Two years ago, my family decided to plan a Christmas family reunion to Disney in 2011. It seemed like such a long way off back then, but it sure came quickly! The plans shifted from being just our immediate family (mom, dad, brothers, sister, and spouses) to including all of my Dad's immediate family (grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousin and spouse). We saved our pennies and anxiously talked about plans as the day approached.

Chris and I made the terribly long (45 mile) drive to Orlando last Friday afternoon. We were the first ones to meet my grandparents at the resort. They kindly used their timeshare points to get our family a 4-bedroom Presidential Suite at the Wyndham at Bonnet Creek Resort. The suite was beautiful and very spacious!

Our view from the balcony of our suite

We helped put groceries and supplies away as we waited for the rest of our family to arrive. My brother, Isaac, and his wife, Heather, drove from Indianapolis and arrived shortly after us. Throughout the afternoon and evening the rest of the family got in. By the end of Friday night, we had 15 people and their luggage spread around the suite. We stayed up late catching up, swimming, and planning our week.

With my brother, Isaac

My sister, Tasha, and me

Saturday we got up early and headed off to our first park. Most of the family started out at Magic Kingdom. It was super crowded, but still very exciting. The Christmas decorations and holiday spirit added extra excitement in the air. My sister and I stuck together most of the day. We wimped out around 5:00 and headed back to the room. The swimming pool and hot tub were a welcome sight after the day of walking, being pushed, and waiting in lines.

Epcot at night...beautiful!

Sunday was Christmas Day, so we headed back to Little Union for church. I was very excited and thankful to have my parents and sister go to church with us. Chris and I had decided to put Grandma into a nursing home for respite care while we were gone. We picked her up Sunday morning to take to church. We enjoyed a wonderful church service and visited with folks for a bit. Then, we brought my parents and Tasha over to check out the house. After a gourmet lunch of peanut butter and jelly and ham sandwiches and visiting, we needed to get back to Orlando. Grandma Corn had given us strict instructions that Christmas dinner was to be at 5:00 and we didn't want to be late. We took Grandma back to the nursing home and headed back to the resort.

Grandma Corn brought decorations to make the suite more Christmasy!

Before we were able to eat our Christmas dinner, the family attempted to get a group shot. Imagine trying to get 15 people gathered and 5 cameras working with the self-timer function! It was quite the scene! We did manage to get a few pretty good shots.

Group shot...this is all of my grandparents' kids and grandkids

Grandpa and Grandma had ordered our Christmas dinner from Publix and picked it up the day before. The spread of ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, and rolls was yummy! We enjoyed eating, visiting, and opening presents together.

Christmas Day

Isaac and Heather

The rest of the week was spent enjoying all the parks, the amenities at the resort, and spending quality time as a family. It was a week full of a lot of fun and many memories. Friday morning came around too quickly and it was time to get back to reality. It's always hard to leave my family, but I am thankful for the time we were able to spend together. I was able to spend at least one day with each of my siblings and parents at one of the parks. Since my grandparents drove down from Illinois, they decided to spend the weekend with us before heading home. We really enjoyed having them as our first overnight house guests.

Mom and Tasha

A snapshot of one of the pictures they take on the ride.

I ate an entire turkey leg on our last day at Animal Kingdom!

Dad wearing his bug glasses for the 3D movie