Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ten Questions to Ask in the New Year

This is taken from Don Whitney, but I found this list through Justin Taylor.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.
  1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
  2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
  3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
  4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
  5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
  6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
  7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
  8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
  9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
  10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Whitney writes:

The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, just by articulating which person you most want to encourage this year is more likely to help you remember to encourage that person than if you hadn’t considered the question.

I hope to take some time in the next day or so to thoughtfully and prayerfully answer these questions. I encourage you to as well!

Christmas Memories 2009

Well, I didn't do such a great job of blogging over Christmas, so I'll try to re-cap our first Christmas memories in this post.

Christmas Eve
We went to church and enjoyed a worshipful service, which included communion and a candlelit rendition of Silent Night sung by the whole church.

Christmas
We enjoyed reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 together (NASB and also the Jesus Storybook Bible). We exchanged gifts with one another and then had a yummy brunch of pineapple, grapefruit, cranberry juice, coffee, ham & cheese egg scramble, and warm frosted cinnamon buns. We called several family members during the day, but for the most part, just enjoyed a quiet day together reading and (one of us) playing with our new helicopter. :)For dinner we had steaks cooked this way and topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions. On the side, we had loaded baked potatoes and broccoli rice pilaf (all of the other side dishes I had planned seemed to fall through!). We also had sweet tea and a sparkling peach (non-alcoholic) drink.Day after Christmas and following
My family came in town for a few days after Christmas. We had an absolutely wonderful time with them here! It was their first visit to our little town and their first time coming to our church. I didn't manage to get a single picture while they were here (and I'm kicking myself for it now!). But our fellowship was sweet and it was so special that they could be here.

We are blessed that we were able to make so many wonderful memories our first Christmas together!

Christmas Youth Party

The week before Christmas, Tad planned a party for the youth (and many of the parents and sponsors as well). We had a bonfire, s'mores, a gingerbread house-making contest, a white elephant gift exchange, and lots of fun! Here are a few pictures Andrea graciously took since I forgot my camera.

Labor of Love

If I had blogged on Christmas day, this is what I would have posted!

The song is sung by Jill Phillips on Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God album, and the video is from The Nativity Story.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Our Stockings Are Hung by the Chimney with Care...

Last week we received a package in the mail from my family with these beautiful stockings that my mom hand-crafted for us! The photos really don't do them justice... they are so gorgeous! The package also included an "Our First Christmas" ornament with our wedding picture in it.

Last night Tad and I made a gingerbread house to test out a royal icing recipe I found here. It turned out well (i.e. did not collapse) and the frosting held fantastically! (The point here was to test the strength of this icing, not to create a Southern Living-esque decorated masterpiece, haha.)
This morning after church Andrea took a picture of us by one of the Christmon trees.Thought it turned out cute! And, speaking of church, check out our new website!

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Husband the Chef

My dear husband made steaks for dinner tonight! This was his first attempt in recent years (i.e. post-college) to cook steaks, and they turned out so well! He followed a straight-forward Alton Brown recipe involving a kosher salt, black pepper, and a cast-iron skillet. It's incredibly fast and easy!

Love getting to cook with my hubby. :)

O Christmas Tree

This week Tad and I finally put up our Christmas tree! We love how cute our little tree is. We also got a bunch of wrapping done AND mailed out our Christmas cards!
Mom made us an adorable little bird hanging decoration for Christmas. Here it is, looking at our tree.We are so excited to be spending our first Christmas together.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Handling Disappointment...by Trusting God

On Friday, Tad and I found out that the house we had under contract (and had been pursuing since August) fell through. We were disappointed, definitely, but we see this as a clear sign from God that this is not the house for us.

We started looking at other houses on the internet right away, and our realtor was able to take us inside two of them (and we drove by a third) on Saturday. A couple of the houses had potential, and there are even a few more on the market that we're going to try and see next week.

We are trusting God's leading and timing in our housing situation, and we are looking to Him when we feel discouraged!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Menu Monday... and a very productive day!

Today Tad took the day off so we could run errands and get things done all day! Here's a rundown on what we got done:

- spent 45 minutes on the phone with a particular government-run office
- menu planned
- made grocery list and list for the day
- bank business
- got the oil changed
- dropped off Tad's suit to be dry cleaned
- insurance business
- realtor/broker business
- made an appointment
- ate lunch at Olive Garden (yay for unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks!)
- applied for a new Social Security card at the local office
- went grocery shopping
- unloaded groceries
- made dinner (well... it's in the oven)

We feel very accomplished! Glad we were able to get all those things done today...and thankful we could do them together!

Menus for this week

Monday
Dinner: meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes, peas, pears

Tuesday
Breakfast: cereal
Lunch: ramen noodles
Dinner: WMU (me): mozzarella chicken; Tad: leftover meatloaf (it's okay... he really likes it!)

Wednesday
Breakfast: oatmeal
Lunch: baked potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and onions, crumbled bacon
Dinner: Moe's-style burritos, tortilla chips, salsa, peaches

Thursday
Breakfast: muffins, juice
Lunch: tuna, wheat crackers, applesauce (Tad gone)
Dinner: beef stir fry, rice, pineapple

Friday
Breakfast: eggs
Lunch: ramen noodles, veggies
Dinner: meatless spaghetti sauce, pasta, sauteed mushrooms, bread

Saturday
Breakfast: cereal
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: beef tips and gravy, au gratin potatoes, green beans

Here's a picture of the pizza I made for a lunch last week. (It changes every time I make it!) This one had a whole-wheat crust and included three types of cheese, tomatoes, red peppers, onions, spinach, bacon, and seasonings. I think Tad ate four pieces! :)
We'd like to hear from you: What are your favorite lunch foods?

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Saturday night Tad and I made Christmas sugar cookies together. We used a recipe my mom gave me that holds its shape and is surprisingly soft and chewy! This recipe was discovered after many frustrating years of very fat snowflakes that lost their shape while baking. :)

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Beat together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl on medium speed until well blended.

Add the flour and baking soda and mix well.

Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness on lightly floured surface.

Cut into shapes. Place on grease baking sheets and decorate as desired.

Bake 10-12 minutes (less for smaller cookies) edit: at 350 degrees or until edges begin to brown. Transfer cookies to wire rack. Cool completely.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.

Enjoy!(We didn't have any Christmas sprinkles!)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Twenty Minute Meal!

Last night I made a super easy meal that literally was on the table just 20 minutes from when I started. Thought I'd share the step-by-step process with other busy wives!

Fettuccine Alfredo with Green Beans and Foccacia Bread

Enter kitchen. Turn on two largest burners to high. Fill a pot for pasta with hot water and place on largest burner. Fill a pot for green beans with hot water and place on the other burner.

While waiting for water to boil, snap the ends off your fresh green beans and rinse.

In a small sauce pan, heat (do not boil) desired amount of alfredo sauce (last night we used a jar of Ragu original we had been given, but like the Great Value brand too!).

When pasta water boils, break and throw in desired amount of fettuccine pasta.

When green bean water boils, toss in the beans.

Keep stirring the alfredo sauce so it doesn't get too thick.

Put on a small sauce pan of water to boil for your sweet tea. (Now ALL your burners are in use!)

Set the table. Pour sugar into the bottom of a pitcher.

Place a small amount of olive oil and Italian seasoning in a ramekin or small dish (for dipping).

Place tea bags in boiling water and remove from heat. Let steep for a few minutes.

Slice foccacia bread (we got ours at Walmart for $.90 on the clearance bakery bread rack). Place dipping oil on table.

Pour brewed tea into pitcher, add water, and fill glasses on table with plenty of ice.

Drain green beans. Put them back in their original pot and season as desired. We like to add a pat of butter and a few shakes of soy sauce. Stir. Dip up beans onto plates.

Drain pasta. Place pasta on plates. Cover with desired amount of alfredo sauce. Sprinkle with just a touch of grated parmesan cheese.

Pour sweet tea.

Light a candle on the table!

Voila! Twenty minutes start to finish!
P.S. The picture I posted yesterday was of our day-jaunt to Washington, NC on Monday!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mozzarella Chicken Recipe

This is a recipe I learned from my mother. It is very easy to throw together, and it's essentially a complete meal in one dish!

In a casserole dish, layer the following:
boneless, skinless chicken breasts (uncooked)
cream of chicken soup (undiluted)
assorted mixed veggies, canned or leftover (optional)
a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella cheese
chicken stuffing mix, prepared

Bake at 350 degrees until chicken is no longer pink (about 45 minutes-1 hour).

During the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle about a cup of mozzarella cheese on the top.

Though I haven't tried it, I am pretty sure this would be good with turkey as well!

Enjoy!

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