Friday, November 1, 2013

New blog! Come with me!

Anyone who visits this site may realize that it's unmanned lately. It's true! I've created a new blog and I'd love for you to come see me there!

This one will remain because I think there is some really good stuff, but I will no longer be creating posts here.

Please follow me at Unfolding Lovely.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

It's been about a month...

Yep. It's been a month since I've blogged. I'm okay with that.

It's been a busy month. A crazy month. A messy month. A "how-am-I-ever-gonna-get-through-all-of-this" kinda month. A really great month!

There are so many changes either happened, happening, or will be happening and it's all so scary and exciting. There are three things keep me grounded.


Really. Yes...that's my list! heh.

I have a GREAT God who is walking right next to me.

I have a GREAT kid who is working his tail off to learn his own way.

I have GREAT girls, including my family girls, who will just let me melt down. Build me up. Help me when I'm in a jam. Laugh with me. Share their joys with me. Let me walk alongside them. Allow me time to process. Allow me to cry. Let me be completely stupid and crazy. And take me to see the Rocky Mountains on my birthday. I have really great friends!

So, in this moment, in this season - I am holding on tight to my Daddy God. Remembering his unfailing love. Remembering my desire and heart to be constant in Him. Remembering His goodness.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Homemade Hamburger Helper

There are a million recipes for this sort of dish. I really like mine, though. =]

2 pounds ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 can diced, fire roasted, garlic tomatoes
16 oz elbow noodles, uncooked
2 Tbs smoked paprika
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs onion powder
Salt and pepper
8 oz block of cheddar, shredded
1 c. hot water
2 c. milk

For the roux:
1/4 c butter
2 heaping spoons of flour
cold milk

Add a bit of olive oil to a very large hot skillet (or a large dutch oven) and toss in your onion. Saute onion until it begins to soften, add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the meat is fully browned. Drain.

Turn the heat on the burner to high. Return the ground beef to the skillet, add the noodles, tomatoes, seasonings (with additional salt and pepper), water, and milk. Combine and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. You may need to add a bit more water. That's okay. Add it! =]

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted, whisk in the flour. Slowly add milk until you have a nice sauce. You don't want it too thick, but you want it thicker than milk! Add salt and pepper to the roux.

Add the roux to the beef and noodles, add the cheddar, combine. Taste. Make sure your seasonings are to your liking!

You guys know I don't measure, but I'm trying - so these are approximates... I'll get better one day. Maybe. =]

Friday, May 17, 2013

Changes are comin!

Yikes! It's time for my 5 minute Friday post and I haven't had time to post a thing all week. 

In this, I shall remain constant - I pray. =]

I'm moving, y'all! It's sudden, unexpected, and scary. At the same time, it's exciting, refreshing, and necessary! Have you ever had a week or two feeling every emotion possible? 

That's where I've been for the last 10 days or so. 

Scared - yep. Worried - yep. Unsure - yep. Wondering - yep. Failure - yep. 

Even with His love, His care, His compassion - I am human. I am flesh. And I have my moments of doubt. 

It's hard to admit that, but it's true!

Why am I in this position? Why does He not love me enough? Why am I not good enough to enjoy a peaceful life? Why, why, why?

Well, because there is something WAY bigger than I can even see happening here. After a couple days of sheer panic, lots of tears, and just talking it out - I'm at peace. Total complete peace. 

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

I have 5 minutes here, folks! I *will* go deeper into this feeling - but I gots 5 minutes, y'all!

Five Minute Friday

Friday, May 10, 2013

This aching heart... - 5 Minute Friday

If I said to you, "do you ever feel Jesus pain?" You'd think I was crazy... I mean who *feels* Jesus pain?

Let's me explain during my 5 minutes for this Friday.

As I grow closer to Christ, my relationship with Him deepens. I have joy overflowing, but I also have sorrow overflowing. The things I see, hear, witness, etc... are heartbreaking. There are things that I can do *nothing* about. We cannot make anyone else understand what the love of a Holy, Omnipotent, Loving Savior feels like. It's an experience that person has to feel all on her own.

As I was driving home yesterday, my heart soft, as it seems to be all the time now... All I could think about is this...

If this feeling, pain, angst, sorrow, undoneness is how *I* feel - how then must Jesus have felt as He walked this earth. How then must God feel when we fail Him over and over and over again.

I don't have any answers. No challenges. No words of wisdom for how not to feel this way.

I'm only being transparent.

This is how I feel.

Joyful and sad. Happy and broken. Full of tears in one moment and praising Him all the same.

When I stop feeling this way - I've lost who God has called me to be. 

This is right where I'm supposed to be and God will grow me here. Right here.

This is the hard eucharisteo. It makes sense now.

Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Failure is not my Middle Name!

As parents, we fail. Often.

We are broken people.

Failing my boy is one of the worst pains I've ever felt. Knowing that I've gotten in his way or not prepared him well is devastating.

From the simplest of things – like not showing him where the emergency brake is on the car and thus he fails the driving test – or to the largest of things like not knowing how to fully trust God’s timing.

Because of my relationship with Christ, I can see things as a minor setback and know that God will make it right in His time.

My boy – not so much. He doesn't get it.

I get that.

He sees failure. I see patience. He sees regret. I see lessons. He sees anger. I see grace.

My walk with Jesus is not the same as his walk. My journey began when I was 32 and he had already lived more life than any 10 year old should have lived. I failed him.

Though, we are not doomed to be failures. Failure is a lack of success. In Christ, all things are made new. Each day is a new beginning. In Christ, we find success.

Trying to teach this concept to someone who knows and understands the simple truths of God, but doesn't understand how big our God is, is hard. Real hard.

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV) 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Each day, when a failure smacks me dead in the face, I cling to that verse. Yep – I failed. But, I serve a big, huge, mighty God and He is Able! He’s able to go beyond my beyond and way past anything we can ever think to imagine.

Don’t ever begin to think you are a failure. You’re not! God didn't make any mistakes! If we fail at something, we do better next time. Remember that God’s timing is perfect! 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bookmarks - homemade!

Last weekend, we had a spring ladies retreat. I'm still soft from it. It was that good. That exhausting. That special. I learned many things during the planning process, and I'll likely share those things in another post, at another date - for no other reason except to let other women's leaders know what I learned and what I'd do differently next time. I could have done quite a few things differently...

One thing I would not do differently, though, is making these bookmarks! I have a secret love for bookmarks. I have an especially secret love for one bookmark that can hold three or more places at once. You know when you're doing a study or in church and you're flipping back and forth, forward and back... I need that kind of bookmark!

Here is the whole mess of supplies I had picked for various projects. For the bookmark, I used the beads, the hemp cording, and a bit of glue. Oh, and scissors. Let me show you, step by step, how I made them. =]

I used my large bible as a measuring tool for the length of the cording. Because we'll be tying some knots in the process of making it, we need it to be a little longer to accommodate for the knots. Cut an equal length of cording choosing different colors or all the same - totally up to you!

Next, I took the three cords and tied them into a knot, and then added a large bead. On each of the cords, I added a small bead, and then tied a small knot under each of them to hold it all in place. 

This is what it looked like once I had the top finished. At this point, I put it back in my bible to determine where the beads along the bottom should be. Once I found the correct length, I tied a small knot in each cord. We don't want the beads to move from the places we want them to remain - hence the knots shown below.

Near the knots, you want to add a small bead, that won't fall over the knot. After that, add the beads in any order you choose. I've never done anything like this bookmark, and I'm sure there's a technique I should have followed, but hey... I dance to the beat of my own drum over here! 

When you're done... you'll have some rendition of this... and you'll like it. Because you made it. And if you make a lot, to share with friends, your fingers will hurt. And be sore. It's worth it. 

Oh, the glue. You don't HAVE to use it... I just tipped the big knots, at the top of the bookmark, to ensure they wouldn't come apart. Totally up to you whether or not you want to do it.

French bread pizza - sorta

I'm always looking for new ways to do old things. I mean, the same old foods can just get boring. Other than a few exceptions, I am almost always making something *new*.

I saw this recipe on PineTarPress and thought it was so clever, easy, and a new twist.

You will need:
8 hoagie rolls or small french rolls, unsplit
Pizza sauce
Onion, diced
Garlic, minced - about 2 cloves
2# ground beef
2 cups (or so) of shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 375.

Heat a large skillet on the stove. Add the ground beef, onion, and garlic. Cook until the burger is no longer pink.While the ground beef is cooking, use a serrated knife to take off only the very top of the rolls. Once all the tops are off, dig out the insides of the bread, but be sure to leave a good bit along the bottom and around the edges. We don't want all the goodies to fall out or soak through.

Once your meat is cooked, drain and put it back in skillet. Add the pizza sauce to the bread "bowls" along the bottom and sides. Add a good bit of meat into each chunk of bread. As you see from the photo on the left, mine were pretty full. After the meat, add about 5 pepperoni to each pizza. Cover with cheese and bake for about 20 minutes.

This photo below was made for a "lite cheese" request, so you can see how full these are a little better.


Depending on how done you want them, you may remove them after the 20 minutes, like these ones shown below.

If you want them a little more done, turn the oven to broil, prop the door open a bit, and let it brown to your personal preference.

The day I made this easy dinner, I was literally running out the door with one, in a paper towel, to eat on my way to church. I ate it, successfully, while driving, without making too much of a mess. Other than the bread crust crumbs, everything else stayed right in the bread. It was perfect!

I hope you enjoy it! =]

Pizza sauce

Pizza sauce is one of those things that is so easy to make - I'm not sure why people buy it.

Here's how I make it:

6 oz can tomato paste
Sun of Italy Italian seasoning (I suppose you could use any kind, but I don't know why you would! =] )
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes
Garlic powder
A teenie bit of sugar

First... if you like chunky sauce on your pizza, please feel free to add some canned (preferably homemade) diced tomatoes... otherwise, this recipe is for a smooth sauce.

Empty the can of paste into a medium sized bowl, add the rest of the ingredients (other than water) according to your personal tastes. It's going to be pretty thick so from this point forward, it's really getting the right consistency for you. Add a little bit of water, then mix. If it's still too thick, add a little more. Continue with the water, and maybe more spices, until you get the right mix of everything. You will be tasting a lot of sauce along the way!

That's it! Go make some pizza! Share it with me - I love homemade pizza! =]~

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My oil cleansing method

Do you have a Mark Kay rep or an Avon rep? Me either! This is probably for two reasons. My first reason was always financial. I just didn't have the money to spend on expensive products that likely still wouldn't work to help with my specific issues. My second reason is because I don't want one! haha

As a teen, I didn't really struggle with acne. On occasion I did, but not often enough for it to cause me any major concern. However, once I became an adult, it all changed. I know when I was younger, much of it was diet related, then hormone related, then I don't know what... just a mess.

Let me preface what I'm about to say with this - hormones are gonna do what hormones do. If we are experiencing a breakout on our face because of hormones, that most likely will not change. Also, check out this handy face map which will help to determine why you're breaking out in certain areas and how to fix it! This explanation has helped me so much to determine what my body is trying to tell me.

I know this for sure... the answer is NOT to keep putting chemicals on our faces in an effort to clean our faces. Make sense? We are piling up more "stuff" onto "stuff" that's already there. We need to really clean our faces.

Okay, let me share how this all started. A few years ago, I learned that olive oil could be used to removed stubborn eye makeup. You know, we love our waterproof mascara, but it could literally stay on for days, unless we used a makeup remover, which is just one more product, one more expense, one more thing on the counter...

With a small piece of tissue, apply a bit of olive oil and just clean your eye makeup off. Pull your lashes between the tissue and viola... all gone. Easy right? And inexpensive.

I talked about this with friends and wondered what else olive oil could do that I didn't know about! That's when I was introduced to the oil cleansing method.

My method is different from her method and I've never really tried her method, so I don't know which one is better. I'll share how I do mine and you can decide if you'd like to try hers, mine, a combination, neither, either, whatever you want. No pressure. I'll still like you. =]

When I cleanse my face with oil, which I do every morning, it really is like a mini-facial and a time of just plain old feelin good. When I miss a couple days, like I did last week because I was out of town, my face rebels. This part of my routine is different from the method I linked above as she references not to do it daily. I do. And when I don't, the whole world can tell. =]~

Here is my simple method. I have this bottle in my bathroom:

I fill it about 1/4 of the way with olive oil. That's it. That's my entire facial regimen. In one bottle. One thing on my counter. One thing on my face. All natural olive oil. Easy, right?

Let me add... it's important to get GOOD olive oil. Don't opt for the cheap stuff. Spend the extra bucks. Your face will thank you and so will your food. Let's face it, the olive oil serves double duty in my house. =]

Here we go: First, wash your hands! Do you realize how often we go in to do a whole face regimen and we haven't even washed our hands?! Use warm water to soak your face. Pour a good amount of oil into your palm, think quarter sized. Rub your hands together, and then apply the oil to your face. Mine begins on my cheeks, then up the sides to my forehead area, then back down to my nose, and finally, my chin and neck. And don't forget your lips! I will just continue to massage the oil into my face because it just feels good. Period. Really, you want to work the oil into your skin and pores. Continue to work it in for as long as you'd like. Sometimes I do mine for about 30 seconds, sometimes it's for 5 minutes. It just depends on my mood, my stress level, whether or not I slept well, etc...

Once I have the oil all massaged in, I turn my water to the hottest temp it will go. I wet a washcloth under the hot water, wring out the excess, and then hold it to my face. I don't rub or scrub. I just hold it there. Applying pressure to different areas of my face. I rinse out the cloth and then do it again. I will repeat this step a few times until I feel like my face is all cleaned of the junk and crud. Pat dry.

That's it. That's all I do. I don't apply moisturizer. I don't apply skin firmers, creams, and other stuff. A friend said to me the other day, "well, that is how they did it in Jesus' day!" And that was enough confirmation for me! I wash my face like Jesus did! =]~

I've also heard about a honey cleansing method, but I haven't tried that yet. I'm pretty content where I'm at with this method.

Let me know what you think! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tater Tot Nachos!

We are always looking for quick, easy meals that taste good, right? And ones that are familiar, but just a little bit different from the "same old, same old" combinations that we eat week after week.

I found a great balance of both those qualities! I really enjoy nachos, taco, burritos, pretty much anything that comes from the Latin culture finds happiness in my belly. Because of that, I literally could make Mexican or Latin inspired food every night of the week. Not everyone in my house would be okay with that... lol.

In an effort to mix things I love with a more American cuisine, I stumbled upon a recipe for Tater Tot Nachos on Half Hour Meals website. As with most dishes, the ability to be flexible and change it to suit your family is always a good option to have. Some dishes lend well to that, while others do not. This one is super flexible!

Tater Tot Nachos (adapted from Half Hour Meals)

32 oz (or more) bag of frozen tater tots
2 lbs. ground beef
Taco seasoning
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 (or so) black beans (if you're using dried beans, be sure they are cooked first - perfect for leftovers. Or use 1 can, drained)
fresh shredded cheese
chopped tomatoes
sour cream

Prepare the tots according to the package directions, though I did cook mine for a bit longer because I wanted them to be nice and crunchy and not soggy under all the toppings. While those are cooking, toss your ground beef and onion into a hot skillet and brown. Of course, add some salt and pepper. Once that's all browned up, drain it. Good job! Almost done. Isn't this easy?! Add the black beans. I would've added some corn too. There are non-corn lovers at my house. Can you believe it?! Now add some taco seasoning - I use about two palmfuls and then I add in some water and mix it all in really good. Return to high heat and let it come to a boil for about 3 minutes, then turn it down to simmer for about 5 or 6 minutes. All done!

By now, the tots should be done. To serve, put the tots on the bottom and take it from there. Just lay out all the ingredients and toppings and everyone can make them however they want to eat them. It really was a simple, enjoyable meal.

Nothing glamorous. Just easy, quick, and good. Enjoy!

Monday, April 8, 2013

BBQ Smoked Sausage, green beans, and gnocchi!

Looks good, right?
This dish was so easy to prepare and I had to share it. The potato gnocchi was frozen, not fresh. It's okay... I haven't tried to make fresh gnocchi yet. It is on my to-do list, though!

When preparing the gnocchi, just follow the instructions on the bag. Once they were done, I added butter, salt, and pepper. That was it. Such an easy side dish.

For the green beans, I used frozen since we've run out of canned beans from last year and the fresh ones at the store in the cold months are just gross looking. I can't wait for green bean season. I really can't. To prepare those, I just steamed them for a few minutes until they were no longer frozen, and then drained them. In a skillet, I added some butter, thinly sliced onion, and the green beans. I cooked them for about 15 minutes. Of course, I seasoned them with salt and pepper.

The sausage was so easy! I'm partial to 100% beef smoked sausage. I know it's a processed food and I tend to stay away from those, but I just have a thing for sausage... and bacon... It's terrible, but worth it. =]~

I got this recipe from Taste of Home.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

As you see from the photo, I cut the sausages into about 2 inch pieces. In a separate bowl, I added a whole bottle (40 oz., I think) of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce and about 1/4 - 1/2 c brown sugar. Whisk it all together and pour it over your sausages.

The only modification I made from the original recipe was to lessen the sugar. The original called for two cups of sugar. YIKES! I couldn't do it! LOL! Once you have all the sausages covered in the sauce, put it in the oven, uncovered, for about 35 minutes. So easy. So good.