March 20, 2014

Bring Spring Inside

I cut off some branches again this year and brought them inside, I filled a vase full of different ones. Almost a week has gone by and they are just starting to show some pink. It's so exciting to watch this process up close.
I shared this post last year but in case you missed it here's how you too can bring 
Spring inside and enjoy some blooms early. 

Are you seeing signs of Spring where you live? Today is officially the 1st day of Spring! So whether you are seeing it around you or not be encouraged you will soon. Happy 1st Day of Spring!

March 18, 2014

Easy Burlap Wreath

I made a new wreath for the front door. The front of our house is in desperate need of color; it will get there one step at a time. I keep putting plants on the porch and they keep dying.  It must just be the time of year. This wreath at least adds some cheer.
I was inspired by THIS tutorial from the blog Mrs. Hines Class. When I went to the store to get supplies I was excited to discover a square shaped metal wreath form which was a perfect fit for my door. I used burlap ribbon with wire, which holds it's shape better but you could use the kind without wire too. Basically you find the burlap that you like, there are so many fun colors these days and you just weave it in and out of the wreath form.
I bet this would work beautifully with regular ribbon too.  This is a super easy project! So if you've always wanted to try making a wreath yourself this is a great place to start; even the most craft challenged could do this project. 

March 15, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Meal

Make Crock-pot Corned Beef you won't regret it. Go get the ingredients now! I was just shopping for my corned beef the other day and a lady came up next to me mentioning how cheap the meat was but she wasn't going to get any because she didn't know how to make it. I walked her through all the steps and she's gonna try it! I hope you will too, click the picture for the recipe and don't forget THIS amazing sauce.

March 10, 2014

Return to Me (Book Review)

Lynn Austin is a well known author. Have you read any of her books before?  Return to Me is actually the first book of hers that I've read. Bethany House Publishing sent it to me for review. The genera of this book is Biblical Historical Fiction. At almost 500 pages it can be a long read. It's the first book in a series called The Restoration Chronicles.
This book is based on the Biblical story of the second exodus, when the Jews return to Jerusalem after their captivity in Babylon. The author uses her creativity to bring alive the Old Testament. There were many times that I stopped to think about different passages and stories I had read and been taught from the Bible. This story literally takes you on a journey to the past. It gives you a perspective on the culture and way of life during that time. 

For me the book was a bit of a roller coaster as far as engagement. The beginning really grasped my attention then I felt like it got a little slow and it was challenging to keep all the characters straight. There were parts as I was reading where I definitely had to force myself to continue. I'm glad that I did because soon after a slow section the interest would pick back up again. I'm sure it's a challenge to balance insight into Biblical history with suspense and a story line. I recommend reading this book because it paints a clear picture of the rebuilding of the temple and the events surrounding it. This story really drew me to the Word of God and made me want to read the Old Testament. 

Towards the end of the book there was a main theme that really hit me hard, God can do the impossible. I know it sounds simple enough but the light bulb just clicked for me one day as I was reading. How can we see God's work in our lives if everything is perfect, when all our ducks are in a row? We can truly experience God's power and see his work in our lives when things aren't going as planned when things seem impossible. God is the only one who can do the impossible. If we want to see and experience His miracles we've got to be obedient, faithful and STEP BACK and allow Him to work. 

If you're interested in this book and furthering your understanding of the second exodus you can find it at Amazon by clicking the link below. I would love to hear what themes stood out to you as you read the book.

March 3, 2014

Mashed Potatoes (made in the crock-pot)

I find that crock-pot recipes can be hit or miss. Sometimes a recipe turns out great and sometimes it turns out dry. Crock-pot cooking takes some experimenting and recipes can tend to cook differently for everyone. A lot of that has to do with us not all having the exact same crock-pot. That being said have fun with this recipe and find what works for you. I think you'll be amazed at the results and how easy it is to make mashed potatoes in the crock-pot!
When I first tried this recipe it was for a special Christmas dinner. I think we had been in our new house for a week. I decided to invite over some sweet friends for a meal. They like us have families that aren't so close and a job that often prevents them from being able to travel around holidays. I love to share food and celebrate with others as much as possible. This was the first nice meal I fixed in my new kitchen which proved to have its challenges. I wanted creamy mashed potatoes as a side but getting used to working in a smaller space and realizing I didn't have room for one more pot on the stove got me thinking. I decided to take a big risk and make the mashed potatoes in the crock-pot. It made perfect sense to me. It was one less thing I had to find room for on the stove and they would stay
warm until the rest of the meal was ready. It truly was the PERFECT solution. These potatoes rocked my
world. They seriously were way better than any I had ever previously made and so so easy. I did add some
cheese and more butter at the end which probably helped. Get creative and add whatever flavors you like,
here are some ideas: cream cheese, Greek yogurt, sour cream, chives, green onion, bacon, any fresh herb,
paprika, olive oil, Parmesan cheese...

You can leave the peels on the potatoes and you hardly notice them because everything cooks down perfectly. Also use whatever potatoes you like I got russet because they were on sale. I also used an entire head of garlic, which I know sounds like a lot  but it goes on the bottom so that it roasts to a sweet perfection. I did add more stock while the potatoes were cooking because I didn't want them to get dry. Start with 1/4 of the container and keep an eye on the potatoes when you first make this recipe and add more as needed. 

This would work great if you work all day and wanted a side to go with your meal. Better yet if you want to make a Shepherd's Pie for dinner this would be an easy way to make the top layer. What do you usually have mashed potatoes with? 

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