Jun 29, 2016

I'll love you with raisins; but not with Amish sugar cookies

I found this jewel in my drafts folder.  It was written 8/5/2010 after returning from Joni and Friends camp:

As we left Joni & Friends camp, the director said that we could take home any of the snacks that were left. As my new friend June, held a box of raisins in her hand and nibbled from them, she said, "There are plenty of boxes of raisins at the table to take home." I am not adverse to raisins; I like them in oatmeal, in snack mixes, etc. But when I saw there was a choice of homemade Amish sugar cookies in bags verses prepackaged raisins in a little box, I wanted the cookies. It was an easy choice for me. I told June that I would love her with raisins - she was welcome to take all the raisins; but I'd enjoy the Amish sugar cookies.

How willing am I to give and love with the things that mean the most to me? If you came to visit me and were hungry, would I offer you the raisins when I had a small store of homemade Amish sugar cookies? A small store that I would keep hidden from you because I selfishly wanted them for me. I might even set all the boxes of raisins out in the fruit basket on the kitchen counter. (I did not even bring home any of the raisins.) But the homemade Amish sugar cookies just might be hidden from plain view in a covered cake pan (hypothetically, of course). They are hidden somewhere else for those dear ones who live in my house that read here and might find out where I've hidden the homemade Amish sugar cookies.

The camp pastor had talked about love and how we give out love. In fact, he had Victoria and I be part of a visual illustration where he gave her a CD someone had given him that he didn't want and he gave me a t-shirt that he had a bunch of that didn't fit him and he didn't want. See where my raisin/Amish sugar cookie thoughts are going.... This visual really hit home with me. How often am I willing to give away something that means raisins to me (absolutely nothing)? But when was the last time I set out on a platter for consumption by anyone, the Amish sugar cookies (highly liked by me)?

I want to love with Amish sugar cookie love
But I can only do that when filled with the Spirit's love
Will I, in times when others are in need
Give them a meal of raisins to feast and feed
Let me love with Amish sugar cookie love
Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, descend on me like a dove
LORD, help me, my selfish tendency, my selfish bent
May I see the cookies of life to me, have been given, not lent
Let me give like Your sweet Son
At the end of myself and sin, be undone
Of selfish, raisin kind of love
Fill me with You, straight from above

Please loose me from the raisin love
That has me tightly bound like I'm wearing gloves

The ones in my family that hear love through words
Let Your loving voice through mine be heard

The ones in my circle that respond to love by touch
Fill me to overflowing and give me Your love quantities in much

The ones in my sphere who feel love through a gift that has been given
Help me to abundantly share with Amish cookie love, abundant living

Let me love people the way they need to be loved
Descend on me LORD, let me wear Your goodness like a glove

You ask me to place upon the altar all to me that does matter
So before You Sweet LORD, I place my Amish sugar cookie platter.

Jun 27, 2016

Betty Crocker's Classic Beef Stroganoff Recipe

Betty Crocker offers a quick and delicious recipe for Beef Stroganoff. This is another recipe from Audra and Matthew.  I am sharing my version of the recipe I make for our family.  You may notice that I did not add flour to our recipe:


1 pound ground beef

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cups beef flavored broth

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 cups sour cream


Cook mushrooms, onions and garlic in butter in skillet over medium heat, until onions are tender; remove from skillet.

Cook beef in same skillet until brown. Stir in 1 cup broth, salt and Worcestershire and heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 15 minutes.

Stir remaining 1/2 cup broth into beef mixture. Add onion mixture; heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.  Stir in sour cream; heat until hot (do not boil).

The recipe calls for serving over noodles; but I served over riced cauliflower.

To rice cauliflower:

Trim all the green off a head and slice it and put in the blender until it looks like rice. Sautee in 1 Tablespoon olive oil on medium heat for 10 minutes so it steams and gets soft.

Classic Beef Stroganoff

Riced Cauliflower

Jun 25, 2016

A Beautiful Birthday

I don't even know where to begin… I am the most blessed and favored person on the planet.  My birthday was on Wednesday this last week and my family made certain that I had a most memorable day.

We started celebrating Wednesday with a walking tour at the botanical gardens. I had a wonderful time with my family and I throughly enjoyed the beauty of the plants and architecture.

Then we headed to the art museum… Another one of my favorite places to go. I knew it was going to be good when these beautiful hydrangea's greeted us at the front desk.

The Salesman taking a little rest...

The Mona Lisa made from spools of thread...

Welcoming areas...

And of course, the art...

Two self portraits...

One of my favorites by a school age child.  I love the colors and the combinations...

I think this is exquisite...

We then headed to Market Square for a snack and shopping at one of my favorite stores…Bliss.

Art and fashion meet...

Then we headed to Willow Creek Antiques…I could comment about every picture; but I will spare you.  There is so much beauty here. So many delightful pieces. 

Then we headed to dinner at Paula Deen's restaurant and guess who was there?!?  Paula Deen!!!

God gave a beautiful sunset to the end of a beautiful day...

I'm not sure how these pictures got out of order…This one Victoria Leigh took of me at the Botanical Gardens.  She has such a creative eye...

 The cardboard Paula and me:

So, I think the day has been wonder filled: family, friends, beauty, nature, art, antiques, good conversation, numerous text messages, calls and all sorts of love and gifts and Paula Deen.  I felt full-to-the-brim with my day. 

We had a party at the house last night and got in bed late and full of thanksgiving. I'd planned to go thrift store shopping with Victoria and her friend Tessa this morning, and we went and had such a good time.  I dressed as I'd normally dress for a hot day out having fun with my family - very casual.  When we drove down our street to come home to eat lunch, there were vehicles lined up before, in front of, and after our home. I commented about the vehicles and Victoria stated that a neighbor must be having a party… Didn't think a thing about it, until… there were also cars lined up in our back yard and back drive way. My family and friends pulled off the most spectacular surprise party ever. I am on overflow. I was so surprised! The family. The friends. The love. The joy. The surprise. The food. The time. The people. The tears. The blessings. The cards. The words of blessing.  

So, I feel like God's favorite. I am so thankful for my family and friends. I cried so many times today.  I am so keenly aware of the blessing and gift that people are to me.  My family decided to honor me in a unique and fun way and it blessed me beyond - beyond.  Friends made a choice to be here. Many friends that had just been here last night. Many friends drove a distance to be here. Many that had busy schedules and other obligations were here.  And I want you to know that meant something to me.  I can still see their sweet faces tucked in the living room and dining room smiling back at me with such delight as they cheered surprises when I came in oblivious to the party!  

I'm crying again.  

Life is short you all. Life is a gift.  Friendship is a gift. Relationship is a gift.  I don't take lightly the fact that you came to celebrate.  

 I have loved and I've lost. I miss Lilly Belle. I miss my dad. I miss my mom. I mourn the loss of relationships. 

 I have cried more from sadness and loss in the last eleven months than I believe I ever have in my life; but:

There is a new season beginning
And, Hallelujah, no matter what we've encountered, in the end - we are winning!
So LORD, I embrace a new beginning!

To a new year,
I cheer!

I will not look to the past, to hurt or pain
Eternity is ahead, heaven our gain!

I have loved and lost
I have paid a high cost
I have loved, and lost.

I am grateful today
For new days!

I am grateful for family and friends, 
I lift my glass and say, Let's begin again!