31 May 2012

The Most Amazing Blackberry Cobbler… EVER!

Simple ingredients: Milk, butter, sugar, self-rising flour, and fresh blackberries. 
A substitute for self-rising flour is 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

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The girls did all the work!  Seriously, it’s that easy!

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Ready to bake!

Oh, wait… don’t forget all the extra sugar on top!  I thought it was a lot but it’s so good!

Looks like a cobblestone street, right?

This was the BEST cobbler I’ve ever made!  Ok, maybe it’s the only cobbler I’ve ever made but regardless, I’m telling you, it’s darn near life changing.  After taking a bite, my husband said, “So, I guess you’re a baker now.”  That’s a compliment I’ll take!  It was so amazing, we all had seconds! 
It all started when we ended up with tons of blackberries in the fridge.  I bought several cartons (we eat them daily) and then my aunt also gave us some over the weekend.  A couple of weeks ago, I remembered watching an episode of the Pioneer Woman on Food Network.  Btw… we love her show and her blog!  My kids enjoy watching her show because they get a glimpse of ranch life (from her kids) and yummy recipes, of course.  It’s one of the few shows we tape and watch together.  Anyway, this recipe looked way too easy.  Little did I know how incredible it would taste, too! 
We had ours with French Vanilla Ice cream (the first night) and fresh whipped cream (the second night).  Our favorite topping was the ice cream but either way, you can’t go wrong.  We cooled the cobbler for one hour but it was still warm (highly, highly recommended).  This will absolutely knock your socks off and fool anyone into thinking you’re a real baker.   
This has no shortage of butter and sugar but it’s totally worth the extra pound you’ll gain.  It’s sure to be a hospitality staple in our home from now on!
FYI… you can make it with any kind of fruit but blackberries were seriously the bomb. 
It’s so easy to make, it’s almost laughable.  Try it immediately.  You won’t be disappointed!                 
Blackberry Cobbler
  • 1 stick Butter
  • 1-1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Self-Rising Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 cups Blackberries (frozen Or Fresh)
Melt butter in a microwavable dish. Pour 1 cup of sugar and flour into a mixing bowl, whisking in milk. Mix well. Then, pour in melted butter and whisk it all well together. Butter a baking dish.
Now rinse and pat dry the blackberries. Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle blackberries over the top of the batter; distributing evenly. Sprinkle ¼ cup sugar over the top.
Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden and bubbly.  I only baked mine for about 45 minutes and it was perfect.  
photos and recipe via The Pioneer Woman.

30 May 2012

leading my heart back home

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We’ve got some fun summer activities planned for the girls but our regular routine of any kind of structured schooling has been done for almost 2 weeks.  Looking back, this year has been such a blessing in so many ways.  Unlike prior years, I totally surrendered my agenda to the Lord this year.  I laid down many of my pre-conceived expectations about what a Kindergartener should know.  I also learned to let go of the conveyer belt “one size fits all” type of schooling that most of us are used to.  I want more for my children than just standardized education.  Don’t you?

This year, we also cultivated and created a vision for our girls and for our family.  A vision that not only includes teaching them about God’s calling on their lives but also preparing them to be servant-minded influencers in the world.        

Although we’re taking piano lessons now, we gave up pretty much all our extra-curricular activities during the school year.  Community Bible Study was a huge priority for us and it was the only thing we did outside our home every week.  We rounded out our time with lots of reading, play dates, field trips, and the occasional golf on Saturdays.  This year, I also said no to serving in any type of church ministry. 

Do I believe extra curricular activities are important?  Yes and no.  When they take time away from being a family and when they start eating away at your contentment, peace, joy, and focus, the answer is, “It’s not worth it.”  The hurried life is extremely over-rated.  Simplicity and contentment are far better choices, especially at age 6!  If you know my children, you know that they’re very social but they also LOVE being at home.  And I’m grateful for that. 

How about serving in a church ministry and showing our kids what it means to serve?  I do believe serving is very important.  After all, we are all created to serve.  Although I’ve served in various capacities in the past, this year, I took a break from it all.  Mainly because I felt the Lord was asking me to work on my ministry at home.  What better way to show my children what it means to die to self and serve others, than to do what the Lord himself has called me to do?  I have to admit, for me, learning to do it with a self-less heart, joyfully, is a full-time job, in and of itself.  Truth be told, I’ve learned that I can’t be the kind of mom and wife God calls me to be when I have too many outside distractions pulling at me.  At least not at this stage-- and I’m OK with that.   

Despite the fact that I’ve been home a lot, the Lord has been gracious to open up various opportunities for me to minister to others, all without taking too much time away from my ministry at home.  These opportunities have proven to be great examples for my children because they involve building relationships and saying yes when it comes to encouraging others for Christ… even if public speaking is your least favorite thing!  It’s been truly humbling that God would use me-- an ordinary wife, mom, and sinner. 

And through our children, the Lord has been gracious to show us many fruits from our focused and simplified life this year.  I have no idea what they’re teaching in Kindergarten these days (nor do I care), but I’m pretty sure it’s not dying to self and laying down your life for the sake of someone else’s.  Training our children in grace and truth, with a biblical worldview is not only a privilege but a holy investment that takes time (a lot of time… a lot of nothing time that’s actually everything time).  Does that make any sense?  However, as we continue to seek the Lord and allow Him to guide us in all areas of our lives, we believe that it’s the greatest investment we will ever make.

As God-honoring moms, we need to constantly be on guard when it comes to being the keepers of our home. Are we letting outside distractions steal our precious time and eventually our joy?  Are we comparing ourselves to others and believing the world’s lies that we should be “doing more” or “doing it all”  in order to feel worthy?  Don’t fall into that trap!  God is looking to use and bless those whose hearts are surrendered to Him. 

Besides, the world needs less Super Women and more Abiding Women.  Amen?

So, here’s the tough question for you…

Has the Lord been asking you to give up something?  Something that’s been getting in the way of you being the fully present keeper of your home?  Remember, just because He’s asking you to give it up now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s forever.  There’s a season for everything.

I encourage you to pray about it.  Search your heart for any areas where selfish tendencies or the praise and attention of others lurks.  Seek the advice of your husband.  He probably knows where you’re heart is being pulled.  Most importantly, listen for the Father’s wisdom. 

I know I can’t do it all.  Something’s gotta give.  It comes down to the fact that I know, without a doubt, where God wants me most.  Turns out, it’s the exact place where I have the ability to grow, learn, serve, be challenged, and ultimately (just as Christ did), die to myself for the sake of someone else. 

Is there any greater calling?

29 May 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

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Probably the only 2 people who went into the jacuzzi all weekend.


Faith got some “special time” with daddy on the golf course.


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While Grace and I ran some errands and visited the Pet Store.


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Visiting our families, church, swimming at Grandma’s, special time with mom & dad, sprinklers at the park, and a bbq dinner.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, every weekend should be a 3 day weekend!

Amidst all the fun, we humbly remember and give thanks for all the brave men and women who have courageously served to protect and defend our freedom. 

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! 

{No Bake} Strawberry Ice Box Cake

Look at those layers of summery goodness!

Step 1: Slice strawberries

Step 2:  Whip up some homemade whipped cream.

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Step 3:  Call in your taste testers.

Step 4:  Layer whipped cream, graham crackers, whipped cream, then strawberries (a total of 4x’s).

The top layer should look something like this.

Step 5:  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. 
Step 6:  Just before serving, drizzle with melted semi-sweet chocolate and add extra strawberries for garnish.
As soon as I saw this {No Bake} recipe on Pinterest, I knew it was calling my name.  I made this for my family over the weekend and it was a BIG hit!  I love easy recipes like this where the hardest part is having the patience to let it set before eating. 
This one’s a keeper and perfect for summer get-togethers!   
No-Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake
serves 8
2 pounds fresh strawberries, washed
3 1/4 cups whipping cream, divided
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 sleeves (about 19 ounces, or 24 to 28 whole crackers) graham crackers
Take out a few of the best-looking strawberries and set them aside for the garnish. Hull the remainder of the strawberries and slice each berry into thin slices.
With a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip 3 cups of cream until it just holds stiff peaks. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla.  Whip to combine.
Spread a small spoonful of whipped cream on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan, or a similarly-sized platter. Lay down six graham crackers. Lightly cover the top of the graham crackers with more whipped cream, and then a single layer of strawberries. Repeat three times, until you have four layers of graham crackers. Spread the last of the whipped cream over the top and swirl it lightly with a spoon. Add a few more strawberries.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 
Melt some semi-sweet chocolate chips and drizzle over the top.  Garnish with additional berries.
photos and original recipe via The Kitchn

26 May 2012

Two Weeks with Bonnie

Some of my favorite photos from our two weeks of dog sitting.

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Bonnie didn’t like being left alone so she would follow the girls upstairs and they would read to her.


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Love this one!


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My, she looks like such a big girl!


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More reading…


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Bonnie also liked listening to the piano. 


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“Bonnie and Me” by Grace.

We gave Bonnie back to our friends this week and I’ll have to admit, it was sort of bittersweet.  Faith, especially became very attached to her and cried huge crocodile tears when the moment finally came.  Amidst the tears, she managed to say, “Now I know what it feels like to love someone and then have to let her go.”  “Mommy, have you ever had to do that?” 

Such understanding and insight for a six year-old, I tell ya.

Despite the tears, she also said she was grateful to have had the opportunity.  It was truly a wonderful experience for the girls in every way.  They really took good care of Bonnie and never complained about anything-- including picking up her poo or taking her for a walk.  A few times, they even ran with me and enjoyed it! 

Faith also said, “When I grow up, I’m going to get a dog just like Bonnie and name her Bonnie.”  “I’ll never forget her as long as I live.” (sniff, sniff)

I’m so thankful she really was a terrific dog with a sweet and gentle spirit. 

Something tells me, it’s not the last we’ll be seeing of dear Bonnie…

25 May 2012

Shields Date Garden

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Shields c. 1955 (check out those cars parked outside).


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Mrs. Shields.


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The date counter c. 1958.


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The date counter today.  Enjoying some free tasters.


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Gorgeous grapefruit.


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The movie.


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Looks like the original theatre seats. 


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Glenn shares some of his knowledge with us. 


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Thumbs up for the date shake!


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So thick, you had to use a spoon.


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So, I was looking for an impromptu field trip to take the girls on this week and here’s where we ended up.  Although we’ve visited this kitschy neighborhood landmark before, we’ve never taken the time to actually learn about the date.  After browsing the store, we watched the free movie in the old theatre and then got an informal tour from Glenn, one of the employees. We tasted a variety of different dates and date-filled goodies before topping off our visit at the nostalgic counter for a famous date shake.  It was rich, thick, and very sweet.  We only finished about half of one shake, between the 3 of us! 

Oh, and if you decide to do some shopping at nearby Costco afterwards, you can skip lunch.  You’ll be stuffed from all the samples. Trust me!

Shields produces 95% of all the dates sold in the country.  If you like dates, this might be a fun stop on your road trip.  Otherwise, for us locals, it’s worth at least one visit… especially when you live in the Date Capital of USA!       

Floyd and Bess Shields came to the California desert in 1924 and started Shields Date Garden, working long and hard to build up their business and educate their customers about date culture. In the beginning, Mr. Shields would give his lecture in the garden. As the popularity of his lecture grew, Mr. Shields incorporated a slide show, then recorded his presentation in conjunction with the slide show so that the show could be run several times a day. Today, the 15-minute film Romance and Sex Life of the Date (despite the name, it’s very kid-friendly) shows continuously during store hours, where you can still hear Mr. Shields talking about his favorite subject: the Date.

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