November 26, 2013

G-free Pumpkin Muffins

Eating gluten free can have its challenges sometimes. For me those challenges are worth it because I feel so much better. I'm getting more and more used to the disappointments that can come with it, like going out for coffee and watching the people around you enjoying pastries. Sometimes you just want things to be convenient and easy. Which is hardly ever the case when eating gluten free.

That's one reason why I love this recipe so much. It's quick and easy! It doesn't involve measuring and weighing out 10 different flours and these muffins stay yummy for up to a week.

I can't tell you how thrilled I was to discover this new gluten free line that Betty Crocker has. The price point seemed to be a little lower than other specialty mixes and the best part is they are made in a gluten free processing facility. I've tried this recipe with the yellow and chocolate mixes, both were delicious. Of course if you don't need to eat gluten free you can choose whatever cake mix you like.
This recipe is so good I'm sure it would be enjoyed by everyone even if they don't eat gluten free. If you're looking for something to have out Thanksgiving morning for your family to munch on this would be a quick and easy thing to make. Do you usually eat Thanksgiving morning or do you try to wait until the Thanksgiving meal? 
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

November 23, 2013

This too Shall Pass

The clouds roll in so quickly and often unexpectedly. I can sense the change in pressure. I don't know when or where I am. Everything is changing too fast. The weight of life can be heavy.
I'm embarking on yet another move. All moves have their challenges but this one seems to be especially challenging. Maybe it's just because that's how the storm is in the moment. Only when it's passed can we see more clearly. I never thought I would be moving again so soon. My hope was that when I did move it would be further South preferably nearer to my sister-in-law. I love spending time with her! The South to me is a place full of kindness, rich in history, character and culture.

I can't help but feel as though once again I have no say in my life and I fear falling into depression. I have to hold on to the fact that these feelings will pass and that I really have no say in my life, no matter what, because I've already given my life over to God. I've been told by multiple people that I could have said no to moving to Colorado. How could I tell my husband to pass up a job promotion and moving to a place he loves? Colorado is still so foreign to me, even though I've lived there before. 
Maybe it's because I just got back from a whirl wind of a trip but I'm very conflicted about the move. I just spent over a week in a hotel room everyday while my husband went to work.  When I wasn't in the hotel I was searching for a home or walking to the nearby mall. I suppose I went to Colorado full of expectations even though I told myself that's not what I was gonna do. I was expecting a new home to love that my husband already picked out and put a contract on without me seeing. Let's just say it wasn't love at first site and on top of it there were big issues that came up in the inspection. I was expecting to attend a church that would water my dried up spirit. Instead I found major crowding. There are so many people in Colorado! I'm just not use to all the houses, all the traffic, all the people. It really must be a great place to live, actually I know it is. I just need to get use to it all again.
Living in Pennsylvania has been such a disappointment in regards to finding a community. I don't think I've ever been lonelier. After a series of tough job situations and endless amounts of churches we visited I guess I kinda gave up. I love my home so much but I need a community to be a part of. My husband is in Colorado until we close on our house in PA.  This will be the first time we've spent a holiday apart. Hopefully it will just be Thanksgiving.
Despite my negative feelings at times, God has been faithfully showing Himself. I do feel peace and our house in PA had an offer on it before we even officially had it on the market. A family is really going to love calling this place home. We just need to get through a few inspection hurdles. I find myself wishing I could have a place like my current home in Colorado. It's impossible to find a 111 year old farmhouse surrounded by woods with a creek flowing through the backyard. Houses are so much more expensive there and very different from what we have now. It's just a house though and that's not what matters. It's the people, memories and love that fills a house that's important.  I'm looking forward to feeling settled again and not being exhausted all the time. I know this too shall pass and it will be a faded memory. 
Do you have any challenging moving stories that are distant memories? 
I took all these pictures during my recent visit to Colorado. They depict perfectly my emotions. No matter how much the clouds build and how stormy it seems like it could get there is still a beam of light shinning through. If you have a chance say a little prayer for me; I'm heading back to the attic to try tightening a loose and very old railing.

November 19, 2013

Spring Peeper

This time of year is full of so many changes. The darkness of the night falls upon us much earlier. The trees are becoming more and more barren. The air is filled with a chill. Squirrels are feverishly gathering food for the winter. Other animals are preparing themselves for a long winter nap. For me there is one creature that stands out from all the others. It's the Spring Peeper. Have you heard of him before? A Spring Peeper is the tiniest of frogs. Would you believe me if I told you this frog
 almost completely freezes in the winter?
I learned of this amazing creature while spending my first Spring living in PA. I remember hearing a chorus like I've never heard before. It was so unique and very high pitched. Our property is surrounded by swamp land leading to a pond. I noticed as I got closer to the pond the noise would get louder. I was told they were just frogs, of course I couldn't believe that they were just any frog. I wanted to see them for myself. So I searched and searched but never could find one. Then I found an article in the paper about the Spring Peeper. They're a very common sound in PA during the Spring and they are very rarely seen. This is because they are so tiny measuring no more than an inch. Not to mention they blend in perfectly with their surroundings and they stay hidden during the day being most active at night.
One evening in the Fall, long after the sound of the Spring Peeper disappeared, I was playing in the yard with my dogs. Princeton soon lost interest in playing and decided to hunt something down. I don't know how he does it but if there is even the hint of movement he's aware of it. Soon I found him pouncing up and down after something, it's really funny when he does this. Blanca and I were curious about what he found so we walked over and discovered he was trying to catch the tiniest of frogs I've ever seen. I immediately  squealed with delight. I was seeing a Spring Peeper at last. I knew because of the faint X on his back. The Latin name for this frog is, Pseudacris crucifer, because "crucifer" in Latin means
 “cross bearing.”
Oh he was such a beautiful little frog. He was so sticky too. 
It was amazing to watch him climb and hang on vertical surfaces. 
I feel so blessed to have enjoyed such an amazing little creature. 
And now as the weather starts to get colder I'm reminded of these little frogs and how they will hibernate. Apparently up to 70% of their bodily fluid freezes and they survive the entire winter freezing and thawing out with temperature fluctuations. Isn't that Amazing! 

November 15, 2013

Blessings for the Evening

It can be challenging for me to wind down in the evenings. I try to use my time productively until the last shred of daylight,  squeezing as much as I can in before the sun goes down. This means I'm not starting dinner till after dark and dinner is regularly late. This always messes things up. I've also gotten in a really bad habit of watching a TV show right before bed followed by a quick (not really) check of my e-mail and social media as I'm brushing my teeth and getting my self under the covers. The "experts" say that electronics especially are not good for peaceful sleeping. You are supposed to keep the lights dim and read before bed if anything. Well I LOVE to read but before bed never works out like I want it to because I get through about 1 page and I'm out like a light. How about you, do you have any type of evening routine?

I've started to readjust my evening routine slightly and I'm really enjoying it so far. I've always put importance on starting my days on the right foot but I've never really put that same importance on the end of my days. I was encouraged to do this when I was given a book to review by Bethany House. The book is called Blessings for the Evening by Susie Larson. The premise of the book is to take quiet time at night to refresh your soul so that when it's time to rest you can do so peacefully.
The first thing I noticed about the book is how beautiful it is. Each page is filled with an incredible photo that emits peacefulness. Each evening I look forward to seeing what the photo will be, they are so captivating.
The book is set up so that you read two short pages each evening. The page on the left is scripture and the page on the right is encouragement or blessing. I usually read it right before I go to sleep and read it over a few times. I feel like I'm clearing my slate and am preparing myself for a new day.
Not only are there blessings to read each evening but there are also some very specific blessings to read during different times such as when dealing with grief or disappointment and one for Thanksgiving Day....
This is a well done book filled with powerful words and images. It's the kind of book you can leave out on your nightstand as a decoration. It would make a lovely gift.

I'll be sharing more books in the future and I've created a new tab "what's on my bookshelf?" where I'll be linking up a variety of books that I enjoy. If you're looking for a copy of the book I shared today you can find it on Amazon the link below will take you there.

November 12, 2013


Since moving to our farm house in PA I've become more familiar with different plant varieties; I never really knew that much before. It's been so much fun to learn about what's been growing around us. Now I'm hoping to become familiar with plants that grow in Colorado. Last time I lived there I didn't have very good success, this time I hope it will be different. If you have any advice or resources please send it my way. When I think of Mums I think of a Fall plant that's often set out on porches for decoration like the ones I planted in old buckets for our porch.
I recently drove toward Philly to spend the day at Longwood Gardens, as you may have previously read I was searching for the colors of Autumn. I knew they were having a Chrysanthemum festival but I didn't really know how interesting that would be. I expected to see lots of plants like the ones above except in different colors. Well I should have known better, Longwood Gardens is at the forefront of horticulture and plant artistry. This Chrysanthemum festival was beyond my wildest dreams. Experts have nurtured and trained these plants into amazing works of art. I had no idea Mums could look like this. The most impressive display was the largest Thousand Bloom Mum in North America which showcased more than one thousand perfect yellow blooms, I shared another picture of this amazing beauty in a previous post
Walking through this conservatory is like being in a Fairy Tale. 
The light is so dreamy 
and warm. 
Whimsical flowers are around every corner. 
The way these plants were manipulated made me want to immediately go home 
and start experimenting with the mums on my porch. 
It was so fascinating to hear how they meticulously maintain the plants
 trimming away all the other buds so one bud can grow to a large size. 
It's still hard for me to get over the variety of mums that there are. 
I usually don't choose favorites but I really loved the Spidermum.
And it's the only kind of spider I will ever say that I love. 
I had such a wonderful day at the gardens surrounded by God's creativity. I hope that you enjoyed the pictures I captured and they transported you to a peaceful place.
  Are there any gardens for you to enjoy in the area you live?

November 8, 2013

Daily Prayers

When I was teaching one year I had a very challenging situation. One day a friend knowing what I was up against gave me some prayers. There was a prayer for morning, midday and evening. Honestly at first I thought it was strange. I thought to myself, I know how to pray, why do I need to read scripted prayers? After I read them I knew why my friend gave them to me.  It was such a sweet gesture and they have really helped me slow down 3 times a day and consistently pray. I use these prayers as a guide for my conversation with my Father and often whatever is on my heart and mind is weaved throughout as I read the words. They are just too good not to share so I created a printable. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

November 5, 2013

The Unexpected

I've been trying to soak up as much as I can while I'm still here in PA. In case you missed it we're moving back to Colorado.  One of the things I definitely wanted to make sure I did was enjoy as much of the Fall colors as I can. I do have a fear that when I'm back in CO I will long for the variety of trees and plant life that I grew up with and that I'm used to. I pray that I will fully embrace all that's special about CO. 

I decided to spend the day at Longwood Gardens recently. I thought it would be a great way to experience Autumn. They are having a Chrysanthemum festival which I was really looking forward to. Autumn has been a little strange where we live in the Poconos  there are some trees that are completely bare and some that are just starting to change. I hoped at Longwood Gardens it would be different and the trees would be vibrant and at peak.  I walked all around the property looking for trees in their full Autumn glory. 
They were harder to find than I expected. 

Then I found this vibrant Japanese Maple. 
Of course what garden wouldn't be complete without a railroad display? Thomas the Train & Friends were fun to watch, they even had blinking eyes. 
I was so busy looking for Autumn colors that I almost missed one of the most beautiful displays of color in the whole garden.  I had high expectations for colorful trees. Little did I know I would find Autumn colors in the Roses taking their last breath. 
I'm thankful their intoxicating sent drew me in closer. 

They were Magnificent! 
It's hard not to have expectations. Of course just like anything else having expectations can be a positive thing. I know for me personally having too high of expectations just means there's a much bigger fall when things don't turn out like I expected. I'm going to strive to not let my mind run away with expectations and stay open to the unexpected. After all the unexpected can be much better than we ever could have imagined. 

I'm at another transition in my life, a time when I'm not quite sure what the future will hold. I'm working on not letting the expectations take over and just living out each step at a time as it happens. I'm not sure what to expect of this blog during this transition. I've been writing posts ahead so I have great stuff to share but I'm not sure how long it will last. It's possible I may be absent from this space, for a time but don't worry I will be back. Do me a favor and don't have too high of expectations and I'll try not to either!

I'll be sharing the rest of the pictures from my day at Longwood Gardens soon. The Chrysanthemum Festival was amazing!

November 1, 2013

Peach Mate

This will take you back to the care free days of summer where you spend long evenings outside sipping on a jar of tea, at least that's what it does for me. I took all the pictures for this recipe at the end of Summer just when the leaves were barely starting to think about changing. I've been wanting to share this recipe for quite sometime.

We are a Sweet Tea lovin family. We've always kept a pitcher of the liquid gold in our fridge year round we've introduced it to Mid-westerners, Westerners and Yankees. As you might have gathered from recent posts I'm trying to be the healthiest I can be. Having sugary filled water at my disposal isn't exactly what I would consider best for my health. Even though I only ever drank sweet tea with dinner I still wanted to find an alternative. That's when I found Mate. I actually found Mate years ago but just never realized I could replicate it amazingness at home. When I found a couple bags of Mate on the discount rack at my local grocery store I decided it was a good time to start experimenting. Have you ever heard of Mate? 

My husband actually introduced me to Mate. Over a summer in college he worked in Colorado, in Historic Manitou Springs located at the foot of Pikes Peak. There is a place at the end of town called the Mate Factor Cafe. Since he was working nights he frequented this place for a drink called Mate that would give him the energy he needed to make it through the eventful nights which often consisted of chasing off bears and an occasional streaker.

My husband of course fell in love with Colorado so when his company wanted to move us there (the first time, you might have just read a previous post and yes we're moving back) he jumped at the opportunity. When we lived there he took me to this place and I couldn't get Mate out of my mind. I would crave that drink. We actually lived in Denver so we couldn't get it often but when we were within a 30 mile radius of this place we would always stop by. Now I'm thrilled to be able to make something much similar to what we had at the Mate Factor although nothing can replace the experience of actually going to there, which it looks like I will be able to do soon! If you're ever near Manitou Springs you've got to check out this place.

You might be wondering what Mate is? Mate comes from Yerba Mate which is an evergreen plant that's leaves are used to make a tea enjoyed traditionally by many South American cultures. There are many health benefits to drinking this tea. From what I understand it has more antioxidants than green tea and is filled with vitamins and minerals. I have read that it can help control allergies, reduce stress and cleanse the body. We've made the swap from traditional sweet tea to Mate and aren't planning to go back. All of our guests who've tried it really like it too and always ask how to make it.

Peach Mate is our favorite but cranberry is a close second. What makes this Mate so unique is the addition of juice concentrate. Don't be afraid to experiment with flavors and find one that you like. The steps to making Mate are not hard and don't stress if you don't have a French press.  Just put the Mate in a pot of water and bring to a boil, let steep, then using the lid pour the liquid into the pitcher leaving behind the tea leaves.
If you prefer hot tea or just want a cup one day, no worries; pour yourself a mug of Mate from the fridge then heat it up in the microwave.

If you have difficulty finding Mate you can always buy some from the Mate Factor's online store. Or my go to place is Vitacost. If you're new to Vitacost click HERE to get $10 off.

 I hope you ENJOY this recipe as much as we do!