Sunday, December 27, 2009


"Be still and know that I am God."
Ps. 46:10
"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.."
Ps. 37:7

We had a wonderful, wonderful Christmas. We spent the 23rd and Christmas Eve at Aaron's parent's, enjoyed the Christmas eve service with them and then headed to my parents for Christmas Day and the day after. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with family, celebration of the birth of our Savior, and we got some wonderful gifts. The Wii from Aaron's parents and my cookbooks from mine topped my lists. Be looking for some posts on my new cooking adventures!
But can I tell you a secret? I love the time after Christmas before New Year's almost more than Christmas holidays. When I was a child, the post-christmas absence of gifts and family was always a let down. All the excitement was gone and what did you have to look forward too? Now, I find the slower pace, lack of pressure to cook, buy and go a welcome reprieve. I want to hole up in my house and read, plan, reprioritize and organize to my little hearts content! My mind is spinning with ideas and thoughts of things I would like to do or do differently in the coming year. Right on cue, our lesson in Sunday School this morning was on learning to be still before the Lord. Priscilla Shirer, in her study "He Speaks to Me" used the example from John 6: 10 where Jesus, as he's about to feed the 5000, told the people to "sit down" so they could be fed. I have a hard time sitting down. But I have an even harder time stilling my mind. In fact, it seems like the stiller my body gets sometimes, the faster my mind goes. But, as Priscilla said, sometimes God needs us to sit down, and be still, so he can fill us up. More than I need anything, sometimes I just need to be filled. We run and go and do on empty so much! We end up settling for the leftovers and overflow of what God gives others instead of what He tells us personally. So, in this time of year, I'm trying to learn a little about stillness. And hopefully, in the coming year, I'll be able to find time for some stillness as well. I hope you do too! What do you do to find time to be still before the Lord? How has he worked through that time for you?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Baking and...mugs??

For me, growing up, Christmas included LOTS of baking. My mom literally starts in October, makes cookies or dough that she can freeze until closer to Christmas and bakes, and bakes, and bakes. I enjoy baking, but don't particularly relish starting in October. Mom gives most of her cookies away as gifts. I mean, come on folks. In keeping with the "unclutterer" theme from the last post, cookies are an excellent idea. Once you eat them, you no longer have anything to try and store! Really, how many Christmas mugs do you need? That said, since I wanted to make cookies as gifts (and I needed a lot of them for Aaron's sunday school teachers) I had to be a little discerning about what recipes to make. (Because I DIDN'T start in October...) Requirements were: 1. Taste good. 2. Make a lot in one batch. 3. Fairly uncomplicated recipe (read quick)
4. Look pretty without me having to spend hours decorating with icing.

I ended up with these three. Maybe next year I'll add a fourth. These are a little more complicated, but I love that they are red and green. Sound yummy too. I'll let you know. Anyway, these are what made the cut this year. The first two are tried and true favorites from the past year or two, the last a new addition for this year that will DEFINITELY be added to the list of "must bakes" each year.

1. Chocolate caramel cracker bars. Yummy. I love chocolate and caramel, these also have a hint of peanut butter. Can you go wrong with that combination? I submit that you cannot! Best of bake. :) So easy and fool proof. You can get a batch done in 30 minutes!
2. Gingerbread cookies. I scrimp a little on the ginger, too much gives them too much "bite" for me. Now, I know I said "don't spend hours decorating with icing" was a requirement. I get around that by always baking them in snowflake shapes, and decorating is easy with simply white royal icing, as opposed to making it into twenty different colors and spending hours making intricate shapes.
3. Peppermint chocolate kisses. You have no idea how ecstatic I was to find this recipe. I have looked for a peppermint chocolate cookie recipe for the past several years. I've always felt a little let down by peppermint bark (not enough peppermint flavor, chocolate not quite right etc.) and other cookie variations that were too complicated, made too few and took too much time (i.e. peppermint sandwich cookies) or just weren't what I was looking for. These are AMAZING. The peppermint meringue is light and airy, practically melts in your mouth. Add the melted chocolate to the bottom and the crushed peppermint and you have a trifecta of chocolate peppermint goodness. They are adorable as well! Oh, and did I mention that one batch makes about 100 cookies?? Check, check and check!!

Now, I know I ragged on mugs. But, in defense of all mug givers out there, presentation is half the gift. So, I bought some white bakers boxes that were just the right size for what I needed. Aaron worked his photo shop magic and make a cute card. Add a pretty red ribbon and you have a lovely gift!

I know it's a little late...but Christmas caught up with me! I hope you had a good one!

Lately loving...

It's the Monday before Christmas. Despite all my best efforts, I still feel like I have a million and a half things to do. It doesn't help that I slept till 10:30 today either. Oh well. It's not like I have to go to bed early tonight.
My husband has made himself "scarce"...he doesn't like to hang around when I'm in "work mode". My primarily task oriented personality takes over and I can get very ummm...businesslike...when there is a lot to accomplish. I actually LIKE doing most of the tasks, baking, wrapping's the extra laundry and getting the car serviced and things like that thrown in there that turn my mood a little sour. I'm trying to work on it. Which is why I'm here! I decided that doing a few extra fun, unnecessary things that I enjoy today and don't take up a ton of time will help my mood. So, here are a few things I'm really liking right now.

*This blog. Unclutterer. I really dislike clutter. I'm beginning to dislike it more and more. Buying a home and having a house and yard to maintain has taught me that you actually have to MAINTAIN those things. Who knew, right??? And while I enjoy those things, I've realized it can become a slippery slope from owning these things to things owning you. The blog really makes you think about what you value in life and working to make the "excess" as minimal and streamlined as possible. As a Christian, obviously you have to put on God's lenses here and focus on what He would have you value in life too. I'm pretty sure it isn't "stuff". Plus, in this economy, clutter is a huge waste not only of time but resources as well. Aaron says we don't have clutter. Suffice to say we have very different views on what clutter is. :)

*My sister-in-law sent me this. Awesomeness, with no clutter, and FREE. If you still have presents to wrap...check it out! to check a few things off the to-do list. Have a great, productive, day!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Another year older...

Does not necessarily mean another year wiser I've discovered. My birthday was actually yesterday and after all the well-wishes from so many people and a drop in visit from another far-off friend on Wednesday, I realized more than ever how much I have to be thankful for. I post a lot of times on things I see that I want or think are pretty. But, in reality, I have a lot to be grateful and thankful for already. So, in honor of my 28 years, here are 28 things (or people) I'm thankful for. Please note that these are in no particular order!

1. God. Or rather, the fact that not only did He love me enough to send his son to die for me and my sins that one time, but he constantly pursues a relationship with me and works in my life. The greatest joy and adventure I can ever think of has been my relationship with God.

2. My husband. He loves me, leads me, thinks I'm beautiful without makup on and in a sweatshirt, puts up with me and brings a lot of humor, joy, and information into my life. I can't imagine life without him!

3. My Daddy. They say we all get our view of God based on our fathers. He has always been there to love me, guide me and correct me and consequently I expect the same things from God. I am confident I would not be the person I am today without his leadership in life. I also can not remember a day in my life that I did not see my father sit down and read his bible. He was the fifth grade sunday school teacher who had us memorize the books of the bible. (He still does that by the way.)

4. My Mama. Words can't ever really begin to describe how daughters feel about mothers, but I'll try. She is the most serving, creative, loving, kind, smart, beautiful woman I know. We always have a good time together. I learned so much from her over the years. Not just how to sew and cook, but how to be submissive to your husband and serve your family, and to just get in there and try something sometimes! There also hasn't been a day of my life I didn't see her sit down to read her Bible. That says a lot!

5. My Granny. I'm really thankful for all of the kind, loving and smart grandparents I was blessed with. But my Granny is the one I've still got the pleasure of enjoying this side of heaven. She's a hoot, loves me more and thinks more of me than I really deserve (that's what grandparents are for right?) and has spoiled me exceedingly in my 28 years. Life would not be the same without her. I love, love, love laughing with her, talking with her and just spending time with her. And, sixty years down the road, if I'm doing as well as she is I will count myself VERY blessed.

6. My father-in-law, Dan. I would not have my husband without his parents, nor would he be as wonderful as he is if his parents were not the wonderful people they are. I'm so grateful that he had Dan as his guide and example in life. He is a godly, kind, loving, brilliant man who has always put his family first. And, he has always made me feel like one of the family.

7. My mother-in-law, Claire. While I would never dare to compare my mother to my mother-in-law, because they are two very different women and each wonderful in their own right, my mother-in-law is the same in all the essentials if you ask me. She is also godly, loving, understanding, creative, and serving. She has made me feel welcomed into her family. She also gets credit for making my husband into the wonderful man he is today. I always enjoy spending time with her!

8. My wonderful siblings (natural born and in-laws:) John, Jennifer, Kirsten and Mike. You are all great people that I enjoy being around. Not everyone can say that!

9. My adorable and fun nieces and nephew. They just bring so much joy to life and keep us adults from becoming sticks in the mud!

10. The friends I've accumulated thorough out life that have somehow managed to remain my friends! Aaron and I have been blessed to maintain friendships from states away, move to another state and still manage to find more people who love us, accept us and care for us. They have been there for me through weddings, moving, being away from family, and moving again. They pray for us and encourage us. Spending time with them and talking with them is often just what we need to regain a little perspective on life and give us the boost we need to face the challenges ahead.

11. In addition to that, I have to say, I'm thankful for the internet!! It makes it so easy to keep up with people! Information is so easy to find, and it can also, if used correctly, help you reduce clutter! Think about it, encyclopedia sets are now almost obsolete, you can store movies and pictures's amazing! Plus, there is the added benefit of online shopping. I love the fact that I can sit in the quiet and comfort of my own home and, with a little pre-planning, have just about whatever I need delivered to my doorstep. It beats fighting crowds and driving to stores any day of the week!

12. The priviledge of leading bible studies. I really enjoy doing it and getting to walk alongside other women as we take on the great adventure that is the Christian life. I am always pleased and surprised at who I get to know and how they teach me and bless my life. It's amazing!

13. My education. This has just hit me recently, because I've seen what life can be like without it. I'm not just talking about college (which, I'm VERY grateful for) but even basic high school education that a lot of people lack.

14. Books. For all my talk about reducing clutter, I'm having a hard time switching to a "kindle" or similar thing just because, well, I think I need an actual book to hold! But beyond that I am very fond of the written word, and it's power to take us places, teach us things and connect us to people and provide us experiences we would never be able to have otherwise.

15. My granny's farm and the fact that I got to spend all summer every summer of my childhood there, playing, reading, walking in the woods, swimming in the creek, helping take care of the cows and being the carefree child sometimes it seems like you can only be on a farm. To have that uniterrupted time to spend with my Granny and Papa was also a wonderful blessing. It is still a refuge to me. I wish I could find the time to get there for an uninterrupted week and try and recapture some of that carefree childhood!

16. My job. Well, both my jobs. In this economy, who isn't thankful for their jobs? But I'm doubly blessed to have two, that I also happen to enjoy (for the most part).

17. My kitty cats! They are so much company and entertainment, and they make home feel that much more like home.

18. My home. Not only is it shelter, but it is comfortable and happy. I agree with the Ikea commercial it's "the most important place in the world". God really blessed us with this house.

19. My iPhone. I have digressed to some shallower thanks, but cut me some slack folks! There are 28 things on this list! In all seriousness, I was running the other day, after dusk (mom, my neighborhood is safe and it gets dark at 5:00 for crying out loud!) and I had, in one small piece of equipment, my music, my phone, and a flashlight. Really people! It is probably the best piece of technology we have ever bought. It even has a kindle app to ease me into the digital reader world without having to pay $300 for an actual Kindle! If you have one or get one, you'll know what I mean.

20. The Bible. God's LIVING word to us. You can read the same verse a million times and God can still use it to teach you something different. You can spend your whole life studying it and never plumb all it's depths. It's the greatest love story ever told. Need I say more?

21. All the amazing people growing up who took the time to teach me about the Bible, and how to study it for myself. Sunday school teachers, Jeff, Malea, my parents, thank you!

22. Coke zero. Again, superficial I know, but definately worth mentioning. Tastes almost like the real coke minus the 180 calories per can. Nothing will ever top a real coke, but Coke zero is a blessing for those of us who are "calorie minded".

23. The fact that I live in America. Regardless of how you feel about the current politicians in office, we still live in a free society, where we feel safe saying what we feel, doing what we want, working towards whatever job we so desire, and practicing the religion we believe in. Not only that, but even amid our current economic state, we are still the most prosperous nation on earth. Few people around the world are able to say even half of those things.

24. I guess I should say my health? I mean, I'm still ONLY 28, but aside from allergies, I really have no health problems. I have all my limbs and faculties about me. Those are all very very important things we take for granted on a daily basis.

25. I'm very grateful for the time I had in Texas. I learned so much there. The job I had gave me so much experience, and the time away from family really "knit" Aaron and I together as a young married couple. God really used that time to prepare us for other things and teach us some important things about himself that we probably would have been to distracted to realize had we not been that far away from the familiar. The friendships we have from there are also a blessing. But, I've already talked some about that... :)

26. The trip to the beach we got to take this summer with my parents and Aaron's parents. It was so nice to just relax and get to spend an entire week with them uninterrupted and with no one worrying about the house or demands of everyday life. I fully realize how rare it is to have parents on opposite sides of the family who get along, much less are willing to spend a week with each other in a condo! I heard my dad tell some stories I never heard before! It's one of those trips you'll always look back on with fond memories.

27. The invention of the DVR. Again, another superficial thing, but to be able to record TV shows (like idol, Glee, Smallville, and various other shows) and watch them or re-watch them whenever I feel like it practically commercial free is a wonderful wonderful thing. Aaron and I are to the point now that we wait to start watching a show we've recorded until it's almost over just so we can fast-forward through the commercials.

28. That I have so much to be thankful for! I've had so many great memories and experiences and met so many great people in my humble 28 years. It makes me look forward to what future years will bring! I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. He has a plan to prosper me! One of my favorite verses: I am still confident of this, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong, and take heart, and wait for the Lord. Ps 27:13-14

Monday, December 14, 2009


I discovered this little gem of a store today. An entire store based on a white color palette...when do I move in?? J/k! But seriously, I am adding one of these to my wish list. You know the one...the one where you put all the things you would get if you had a million dollars? But since you don't, and probably won't ever, you resign yourself to being happy that you know those things just exist in the universe somewhere. I keep a running one over at anthropologie as well. Are you generous and have around $900.00 to spare? If so, my birthday is this week. I'd love to meet you! Please, and Thank You. Just in case you were wondering, it's called a "vintage bus scroll" and would look lovely in just about any room of your home!
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Monday, December 7, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

We managed to squeeze in decorating this past week. It makes me happy to see the house all festive! Next on the list...the smell of christmas cookies baking. Yumm.... I hope things are nice and "Christmasy" at your house as well!