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How To Get Unstuck During The Christmas Holiday: Guest Post

May this change the way we DO Christmas. Don’t just celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas, be Jesus to the people who live near you. GUEST POST

read more How To Get Unstuck During The Christmas Holiday: Guest Post

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Holiday Hospitality Bar

Hospitality Bar Autumn

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13

It’s the perfect time of year to gather supplies and prepare a hospitality bar for your Thanksgiving and Christmas guests.

Here is how I made mine…

Fall decor on William Sonoma 3 tier tray
Fall decor on William Sonoma 3 tier tray

Having boys in the house necessitated adding a non-girly item. When my boys have friends over during warm weather we keep iced tea and lemonade on the bar but boys being boys, (translation = always hungry) we needed a quick easy snack they can grab and prepare to take care of their munchies.

I looked at the hospitality bar and saw the perfect slot for microwave popcorn, as well as, a place to add popcorn salts and disposable bags. (Pictures and details below.)

Top tier Fall decor
Top tier – Fall decor
Middle tier -Fall decor
Middle tier -Fall decor
Bottom tier - Fall decor
Bottom tier – Fall decor

I used gourds I grew in my garden, Burr Oak acorns (I have a love affair with Burr Oak acorns; they are huge, beautiful and unique), leaf trays and pumpkin/cornucopia creamers I found at Target a few years ago. I also used some silk greenery and a ceramic Blue Bird.

Top view of 3 tier William Sonoma tray
Top view of 3 tier William Sonoma tray

They say necessity is the mother of invention. My need to save time while preparing for a Mother/Daughter Bible study in my home led to this organized Hospitality Bar.  This saved me an easy hour of pulling all the drinks, condiments and mugs out of the cupboards and then organizing them into a centralized location. Add to that my incessant need to have seasonal or holiday decorations placed at this centralized location and—well—no matter how I tried not to worry myself about having everything just right; the hostess in me had no peace until everything looked pretty and was fully functional.

I did not care so much that my house was clean and picked up perfectly for other guests but Bible study was different. I desired for participants of the study to feel at home, relaxed and safe to share their needs and their hearts. I wanted them to feel pampered by me but more importantly, by their God who is crazy-in-love with them. I needed my attention off of the refreshment details so I could welcome, listen and interact with the mothers and daughters as we discussed and studied God’s word.

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Between homeschooling and extra-curricular activities I was finding it difficult to fully prepare for leading our study, cleaning the house and prepping the kitchen for refreshments. Thus I decided a central location was essential for storing all the refreshment items. Function was all I had in mind.

I began searching for cabinets that would match or coordinate with our current kitchen but could not find an equivalent or anything to bring together the old with the new while remaining within my budget.

Then one day while pulling in our driveway, a neighbor’s garage door was up and to my surprise I saw cabinets sitting against the wall of their garage that looked just like our cabinets. I did a double take. No. Yes. No doubt, they were a perfect match. Hmm?

A few weeks later I saw this neighbor and told them about my search for matching cabinets to install in our kitchen and my dilemma because the particular line of cabinetry was no longer available. I mentioned that I saw cabinets in their garage that looked like a perfect match and asked, “Do you have plans for those or are you interested in selling them to me for (a disclosed price)?”

Our neighbor was willing to sell them to me for the disclosed price and I found out the reason they were an exact match was because they  were a hutch that came out of our house.  I was thrilled!

Next, I planned how to use the hutch then took it apart piece by piece and gave all of it a good scrubbing.  2 X 4 lumber was used to build a frame behind the cabinets so I could acquire more depth for a deeper countertop.  I also pulled the shorter center cabinets out front more to add dimension to the unit. Bead board was added to the sides for decorative purposes and to hide the false depth. Since these are upper cabinets being used on the floor I added a one inch toe kick at the bottom to keep the doors from scraping the floor. I wanted to place feet underneath the cabinets but that would have required moving an outlet, changing the windowsill and making the countertop out of reach for young children. So, no pretty decorative feet but it overflows in functionality.

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I no longer have to prepare for guests’ arrivals. Relatives and friends know where to go for a drink when they come to my house. Below:  Ice water and a carafe of hot water. I also keep hot water in the tea kettle on the stove and in the coffee pot. This allows three separate areas for a large group to fill their mugs.

DSCN2019DSCN2035Left: I keep this 3-tier tray from William-Sonoma on the bar for seasonal and holiday decorations. And I always have a candle ready to burn. A guest will rarely come to my house without finding scrumptious looking chocolate on display. The only problem is that the chocolate usually isn’t real and I have offended a dear friend, and fellow chocoholic, on multiple occasions with my inedible treats.DSCN2037

If budget and space do not allow for a hospitality bar in your home; you could use a portion of your countertop, a buffet, a re-purposed dresser or a shelving unit to accomplish the same objective.

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Right: This is a bamboo utensil holder turned sideways for holding tea bags and coffee singles.

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Below: Flavorings and droppers for mixing flavors into drinks (3-4 drops does the job). Sprinkles – top cocoa with whipped cream and sprinkles or Cappuccino Accent Toppings; Cinnamon, Sweet Nutmeg, Vanilla, Chocolate.

I buy my Stash teas and bottled flavorings at the Old Towne Spice Shop, Main Street, St. Charles, MO. http://www.oldtownspices.com/ The Cappuccino Accent Toppings are from Main Street MarketPlace, St. Charles, MO. http://www.mainstreetmarketplace.com/

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Right: Drinking straws. Small shelves: Sugar and sweeteners on top. Extra coasters on bottom. Hot Cocoa Mix and Hot Cider Mixes. (The compartments are a desk caddy organizer.)

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Below:  Flavorings and droppers. Sprinkles and Cappuccino Accent Toppings. Single serve coffee. Small shelves: Creamers on top. Napkins in bottom. Stir straws on right.

Popcorn salts/toppings
Popcorn salts/toppings

Above: I added microwave popcorn, flavored popcorn salts and disposable popcorn bags to the bar. The microwave popcorn is next to the apple ciders and cocoa packets; to the left of the red and white striped popcorn bags. Popcorn salts are in located with the popcorn isle and come in a variety of flavors. A word of caution about the popcorn salts; the Jalapeno Cheddar and the Buffalo Wing make us choke. It has nothing to do with the heat because we are huge fans of spice, but it tends to go down the airway and asphyxiate us—every single time. We now avoid these seasonings.

Popcorn bags
Popcorn bags

Left: The popcorn bags are from Hobby Lobby’s party supply department. I used a 40% off coupon so the cost for 25 bags is $1.93. SAMS Club sells a box of 500 popcorn bags for under $7.00.

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Above and Right: Extra tea supplies, extra sugar, Mullin spices for cider, pink and regular lemonade, drink pitcher.

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Left: Oregon Chai Tea Latte (Wal-Mart), Peppermint Hot Chocolate & Barra Mexican Chocolate (both need mixed into hot milk), Cappuccino Double Mocha (Aldi’s), Extra coffee singles, Cocoa, Diet-Sugar Free Swiss Miss Cocoa, French Vanilla Cappuccino (SAMS)

DSCN2028 - Copy Right: Mugs/Cups

Below: To go/travel cups with lids (collected from Hotel stays), Hot water carafe, cold water carafe.

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DSCN2030Above right: Mexican Lava Rock Molcajete with coffee beans. Sometimes used for decoration but my favorite way to use it is for homemade Guacamole.

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Left: Windsill decorations.

 

I hope you have fun  inventing your own hospitality bar for the holiday season.

~Cheers!

Happy Hour: 11/19/2015

HAPPY HOUR, THURSDAYS, AT 5:00 P.M.—Kick back after a hard day’s work and enjoy the intoxicating goodness of true Love and Wisdom. The GiveMe Chocolate ‘Bar’ won’t put a dent in your wallet!

Michelle Teague collage

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We tend to give away what we believe we have received from God. If we believe we are deeply loved by Him (and we are), we give deep love. If we believe we are fully forgiven (and we are through His Son), we give away forgiveness to others. If we believe we are given His abundant grace (and we are), we extend much grace.😃

 

Many more times than not…we should be praying it…and not saying it. 😃 

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Jer 6 16 stand at the crossroads wpcom

MORE ABOUT MICHELLE: CLICK HERE

DIY Mini Utensil Set

Mini Utensil Sets

DIY Projects

Okay—it isn’t completely DIY. You won’t need your own foundry to forge the utensils but since you will not find a mini utensil set/holder/crock in the stores; I will show you how spectacularly charming, efficient and necessary this set is to the everyday functioning of your kitchen.

Several years ago for my birthday my mom gave me the red tea-cup filled with multiple measuring spoons. I am a stay-at-home mom who usually cooks a homemade meal every night of the week; plus breakfast, lunch and quite a bit of baking. Mom knew I would love the splash of red in my kitchen (everyone needs a splash of red especially if their kitchen isn’t red) and the extra measuring spoons are time saving because I don’t have to stop, wash, and rinse spoons in the middle of meal preparations. DSCN3335

I immediately added a variety of utensils to my cup and have used the set every day since; so have my kids. We whisk eggs, stir pancake batter, spread jams, measure, scrape bowls and jars, flip small pancakes, bake cookies, remove hot items from the toaster oven, squeeze the last flavor from tea bags and much more. Our kitchen would not function well without the cup which sits on top of our toaster oven in a centralized location. I am all about function; pretty—decorative function!

The tea cups with the front tea bag pockets are difficult to find and Ebay has been my only success over the last few years. (Mainstreet Market Place on Mainstreet in historic St. Charles, Missouri, currently has a similar cup in stock.) I like the pocket for the Smidgen/Pinch/Dash measuring spoons.

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Here are my favorite places for finding miniature utensils. I order in quantity for future bridal showers and birthday gifts which saves on shipping costs. This is my favorite gift to give at Bridal Showers because it is almost guaranteed the bride does not have a mini utensil set.

You will need a short squatty type tea-cup, soup mug, or creamer for the utensils to be visible and the side of the cup needs to go somewhat straight up; not curved out like a bowl or expensive China tea/coffee cup.

Have fun making your own!

These utensils can be found at http://www.amazon.com/

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Mini Condiment Spoons
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Mini Wooden Condiment Spoons
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Measuring Spoons
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Heart Measuring Spoons. (Different price ranges)
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Mini Whisks. 4 on left come as a set. 1 on right is sold individually.

The below utensils can be found at Main Street Marketplace – This is a local store located on Main Street in historic St. Charles, Missouri. Best prices except for the heart spoons http://www.mainstreetmarketplace.com/

Smidgen/Pinch/Dash Measuring Spoons
Smidgen/Pinch/Dash Measuring Spoons (located at cash register)
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Miniature Whisks – 4 on left come as a set. 1 on right is sold individually.
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Mini Flipper/Turner
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Honey Dipper – in a jar on top of the fridge covered in magnets (to the right of the cash register)
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Mini Toaster Tongs
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Mini Scoop
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Dozens of Cheese Knives/Appetizer Spreaders
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Tomato Corer
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Citrus Zester
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Tea Bag Squeezer/Toaster Tongs

We walked away

Originally posted on lynns & tots:
There are moments in your life where your mortality becomes intimately clear. Where this tenuous grip on life and those of your loved ones reveals just how fragile it is. Every breath is a gift, every moment walking a freedom that we all take for granted. And the more breaths, the more steps, the longer we walk this life between these moments the less real our mortality feels. Until another one comes along to wake us up. Life is not a dream. It is very real, and it is very fragile. We are not immortals roaming this earth. Yesterday morning started off just like any other Homecoming at OSU. Maybe a little more special because this is Katy’s last homecoming at Stillwater before she graduates in December. But it was just another walk-around the night before, just another parade that morning that we would fight to get to the front of the crowd near…

Pastor Doug Wilson, A Serial Pedophile, and the Real Victims

Originally posted on Spiritual Sounding Board:
Pastor Doug Wilson and Ed Iverson encourage marriage of Pedophile Steven Sitler, Christ Church Sins are like grapes; they come in bunches. ~Doug Wilson I read a disturbing article yesterday that sent me reeling. I think we always want to hope for the best in people, but after having seen this pattern taken place so many times, those who were familiar with the story could see the inevitable train wreck before it took place. Our fears were in fact confirmed this week, and I am heartbroken. Many times when we hear of breaking scandalous stories, the focus is on the perpetrator and those who enabled the abuse. The background to this story can be broken down into several important topics, and I hope other bloggers will cover some of the other aspects to this story. (A little bird told me that The Wartburg Watch will also be covering part of this story later today.)…

Update: Detoxification—You Can Help

Here is an update on a previous post, Detoxification—You Can Help, about a woman named Krissy who recently had her world turned upside down when she found out her husband had molested a child. Her husband was arrested, he admitted to the crime, and he remains in jail.

Burden clipart

I want to share a Facebook post by Krissy so you can glimpse a snapshot of her life, her heart, her need…her trust in the One who is trustworthy in all circumstances—including when life seems it can’t get any lower…but does…again and again.

“Father,
I need your breath of life again. Without it, I won’t exist. I need you to recreate me. Like dry bones, I am nothing. Yet, I’m waiting. I cannot say I am hoping, because Lord, hope hurts too much. Instead, I just am waiting. Waiting for you to restore me, fulfill me, and make me new.
Is there yet more in me, Father, that needs to be broken before you can reshape me? Reveal it, and don’t wait any longer. Break me. Make me. Then again, God, if you don’t, I will choose to accept it and understand that some of your work is done in the waiting. As much as it hurts, God, even this I will accept. May not be as graceful in the accepting, but I will try.
You are amazing, My King. None of this matters in the face of who you are and how lovely you are. How amazing is my God! How awesome He is. He knows what we need when we need it and He is a good father who gives to His children what they need. Praise you, Jesus.”

Please click this GoFundMe link or the link below and help Krissy, and her children, during their time of need. ~Thank you.

The McCuen Cause: GoFundMe link—CLICK HERE

Creamy Serrano Ranch Dip Recipe

TEXMEX Recipes

Creamy Serrano Ranch Dip (A.K.A. Creamy Jalapeño Ranch Dip)

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Last year I traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, and visited my dear friend, Michelle, from years past. Once upon a time our families lived in Stillwater, Oklahoma, at the same time where I taught her youngest daughter at a local Mom’s Day Out program. We later belonged to the same homeschool association and would hang out at each other’s homes while her daughters and my daughter played together.

Allow me to tell you what Michelle did to me; she interjected herself into my personal life. Ha! I tell you this in the most light-hearted way with a smile on my face because I absolutely positively love this woman. It’s a long story and one I am working on writing in it full detail. The abbreviated version is that several homeschool moms, along with Michelle, were praying for me behind my back and asking God to provide me a husband and to give Riley a daddy. I mention, “Behind my back” because my friends knew I had no interest or intention of dating or remarrying. Read here for why…..MY DESTRUCTIVE MARRIAGE. I named Michelle the instigator of this but she insists it was the Holy Spirit. I heard through the grapevine that while some of my friends were meeting for homeschool playdates they would huddle in the garage and pray for me while their children played in the yard.

And they were not the only friends doing this! It began months earlier with my friend Pam speaking to me about the same subject.  Little did I know, God was working out His plan (definitely not mine or Riley’s) for my life and for Riley’s life.

Here is a quote by Michelle, “I figured out a long time ago, that when several God-fearing women walk into God’s throne room together…whatever they are praying about…better watch out!” – #moveoversatan #nottakingGod’sglory #getunderourfeetwhereyoubelong

I obviously got over Michelle’s Holy Spirit led intrusion and allowed her in-depth private details of every aspect of my life; beginning to present day, for Restoring the Foundations ministry. Michelle was training to minister with RTF and is now officially part of the Restoring the Foundations Ministry team. I can honestly testify that RTF was the most beautiful, personal, empowering, healing and tender time I have ever spent with the Lord. I love Him!

How does this connect to a Tex-Mex recipe you may be asking?

Well, before visiting Michelle I texted her and asked if there was a Chuy’s Tex-Mex in Nashville. To my delight she responded that Chuy’s was; in fact, located down the street from her home in Franklin, Tennessee.

Chuy’s was my all-time favorite eating establishment. If I were allowed to have only one option for eating out, from present day to the day I die, Chuy’s would be it. I believe it is impossible that I could ever tire of their deliciousness; however, my body was malfunctioning due to eating many of the foods used in dishes at Chuy’s. Little did I know, I had acquired multiple auto-immune diseases from genetics and a life of extreme stress. Almost every food Chuy’s serves is now on my cannot eat list. Sniff, sniff….

My boys crave Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeño Ranch Dip, but since we live in the heavily populated Italian cuisine city of St. Louis, Missouri, we have no Chuy’s Tex-Mex.

Every time I ate at Chuy’s I attempted to pull apart the individual flavors; veggie, pepper, herb and spice in the salsas, Creamy Jalapeño Ranch Dip and meats.

I have made the dip with Jalapeños, Anaheim Chile’s, Poblanos, Serrano Peppers and blends of these peppers. I use fresh Serrano peppers in my Creamy Jalapeño Ranch Dip—no Jalapeños. We find this recipe every bit as flavorful, if not the same, as Chuy’s. I did ask a manager at a Chuy’s in Kentucky if there were Serrano’s in the salsas and dips and she confirmed that there were.

When it comes to preparing dishes with peppers you get to decide the amount of heat you want in your recipe. Here is the trick:

Mild heat: Remove seeds and devein the inside of the peppers.

Medium heat:  Remove seeds and leave the veins in. You can always add a few seeds if you want more heat.

Fiery heat: Leave seeds and veins in peppers.

I always double this recipe.

~Enjoy!

 Creamy Serrano Ranch Dip (Jalapeño)

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½ cup sour cream

½ cup real mayonnaise (low fat is not tasty in this recipe)

¾ cup milk

½ teaspoon white distilled vinegar (this turns milk in to buttermilk)

1 (4 ounce) can green chilies

1 (1 ounce) packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix

2 Serrano peppers (remove seeds and veins for mild) Remove seeds for medium heat. Leave seeds and veins for hot heat.

¼ cup cilantro

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

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Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until smooth.

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Refrigerate for two hours before serving so ingredients can soak into the dressing.

Serve with chips or use as salad dressing on Mexican salads, or sauce for Mexican foods and casseroles.

*Heat oven to 350 degrees and place a cookie sheet of white corn restaurant style tortilla chips in the oven for 3 minutes. Enjoy fresh restaurant style chips and dip.

Toxic Tuesday: Flashing Billboards On My Forehead

I have a history of allowing anger (toxicity) to be taken out on me so when it comes up in a relationship it feels natural but I know God is calling me to recognize and respond to it in a biblical way. This is anything but easy for me. “You want to learn this lesson in the classroom and not on a field trip.” I imagine I have more field trips logged than the average student.

read more Toxic Tuesday: Flashing Billboards On My Forehead