Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Favorites: Mornings

I know that many people will think I'm weird for saying this, but I love mornings! I'm a "morning person" so I wake up in a good mood (sometimes I have to quickly refocus my mind if I wake up anxious). I have energy and am most productive and creative in the morning/daytime hours. It's just how I'm wired. Don't hate me!

I love mornings because of the promise of a fresh start, new mercies (Lam. 3:22-23), yesterday is gone. I love the quiet of morning (because all the "night owls" are sleeping in) and the sweet times I have with the Lord and His Word.

I love morning walks and the coolness of the day and getting to see sunrises (the one below was taken on my walk a couple of weeks ago). I also love sunrises at the beach (second picture) and how the sun blushes through the clouds and brings light after the dark night.

I also love mornings because of breakfast. It could easily be my favorite meal of the day and I don't mind eating breakfast foods for dinner. Some of my favorite breakfasts are ones my mom makes:  poached egg on toast (she knows how to cook it exactly how I like it), pancakes made from scratch, waffles. Yum!

I think another reason I love mornings is because mornings were always family time for us when we were growing up. My dad often had meetings or work that kept him out later in the evenings, so breakfast was a time when we would all be together and would sit down together to start the day. My parents led in daily Bible readings and we read the names of missionaries with birthdays that day and then we'd pray together. I know that the way our family started each day made an impact on how the rest of the day went for us and it helped me to establish my own morning devotion time once I was at college.

One more note, I don't judge others for being not as chipper as I am in the mornings. I can respect the need for a slow wake-up process and the need for caffeine. We're all different. But I do recommend that if you've never been up to see a sunrise, put it on your "bucket list", set your alarm and grab a cup of coffee early one morning (hint: if you wait til later in the year, the sun rises later). You'll be glad you did and you can thank me later!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Happy Birthday to Erica!

We've been celebrating all weekend, but TODAY is the day that Erica is THREE! I love being an aunt to Erica and Mary Lane! It's fun to celebrate birthdays and to spend time with them throughtout the year. I look forward to getting to do some new things with Erica now that she's a little older.

Enjoy this fun little slideshow (more pics are on Facebook).

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

For His Grandma . . .

. . . and Aunt Jeanette, and anyone else who wanted to see Daniel's picture from the first day of school last week. He willingly let me take the traditional picture on the front steps, but I didn't want to "push it" by posting it on Facebook. But since Grandma asked nicely, here it is!

Junior Year!

By the way, click here to see how he looked on his first day of Kindergarten. And you can guarantee that there will be a grand finale next year!

Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 Scripture Memory #16

The verse I'm focusing on this time is the fourth verse/statement in the "Six Points of the Gospel" from Crossings Camp:

"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6

Jesus is the only way to salvation.

There has never been any doubt about this in my mind, mainly because I have been taught about Jesus since I was a baby. But I know that there are many people in the world, and in my city, who don't know or believe this truth about Jesus. This month I've been praying specifically for Muslims around the world, who are participating in Ramadan. I pray that God would reveal Himself to them in such a way that they would believe that Jesus is the only way and that they can find true peace and joy and forgiveness in Him.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blonde moments

Disclaimer: My apologies to people who will read this who have naturally blonde hair. I'm just going with the stereotype here, not picking on specific blondes, most of whom are very smart and not scatter-brained. :-)

Author/speaker, Beth Moore, has used the line, "I was acting blonder than I paid to be" and there have been a couple of instances this weekend that made me able to relate and identify with that statement. Another way to put it is that I've had some "duh" moments this weekend, and I just thought I'd allow others to have the chance to laugh with me.

First, this week I got some new running shoes (to use for walking) and some orthotic inserts. The guy at the store suggested that I alternate between the orthotics and the standard inserts that come with the shoes for a few days to let my feet get used to the differences. So on Friday I wore my shoes with the standard inserts, and then on Saturday before I walk, I replaced them with the orthotics. I walked 7.5 miles and my right foot was giving me problems pretty much the whole way. I was ready to take the shoes and orthotics back to the store and try to find out what was wrong. Well, this morning, I happened to notice that there was only one of the standard inserts on the shelf where I'd put "them" and it dawned on me that I had put the orthotic on top of the standard insert in my right shoe. Duh! No wonder my foot was sore and crowded! I'm so glad I didn't go back to the store and make a fool of myself there!

Secondly, it's school supply time and I had planned to go take advantage of the "fill a bag for 20% off" sale at OfficeMax. So today I took my bag (and even had to go back to the car and get it after I got inside the store), and put all the binders, paper, index cards, etc., in it--pretty much filled that baby up! I got to the check-out counter and put my bag up on the desk and the salesgirl looked at me and said, "Um, did you just want to keep that bag?" I didn't understand why she was saying that, so I told her that I was wanting the discount on everything in the bag, like it said right there on the bag. She said, "Well, that expired yesterday." Duh! Of course it did! I still bought all of the stuff, but I could have saved $13 if I had been paying more attention.

Maybe I better think twice about getting any more blonde highlights in my hair. I think maybe the chemicals are seeping into my brain!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Belmont College, Alma Mater . . .

Twenty-five years ago this month, I moved to Nashville as a freshman at Belmont College. The college hymn back then began with the words, "Belmont College, Alma Mater, proudly we proclaim." Today as we walked around the campus with Daniel on his first official college university visit, I felt that Belmont pride welling up inside me. I had fun giving Daniel a running "backstage" commentary as we went on the tour (and he's probably very glad that I won't be able to do that at every school we visit during his college search process).

Yes, things have changed at the old alma mater and there are many new buildings that weren't there when I was a student (I think my old dorm is now a men's dorm). And the cost per year . . . let's not even talk about it! But what hasn't changed is the sense of community and the commitment to helping students reach for their dreams.

I listened to the presentation during the School of Music Q&A session and remembered hearing my friends talk about taking required piano lessons and music theory classes and singing with the Belmont Chorale. Back when I was a freshman and was meeting other new students, one of the common questions to ask was, "What's your major?" Nine times out of ten, the answer was "Music" or "Music Business." For a Communication Arts major like me, I was definitely in the minority and felt like I was surrounded by talented people who were planning to "make it big" in the music business.

I know that Daniel's experience (if he winds up attending Belmont) will be different and unique, and I don't want him to feel like he is "required" to go there just because his parents did. But now that I have a kid who is dreaming about making it in the music business, it's interesting to see it all from a new perspective. And I can't wait to see how it all turns out!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dessert-of-the-Month: August

For my brother-in-law's August Dessert-of-the-Month, Russell had chosen coconut cake. Even though I'm not a fan of anything coconut, I knew that I had a recipe that would be perfect to use:  Granny's Luscious Coconut Cake. Daniel's great-grandmother used to make this for many family holiday get-togethers and it was always raved about by those who ate it.

Also, since my sister and brother-in-law were celebrating their 9th wedding anniversary last week, I thought it would be fun to let them have a "cake date" at my house one evening while we went to stay with their girls. It worked out for them to have the date on their actual anniversary night and it was fun to set the table with china and some of their wedding photos to make it more festive for the occasion.

In case you're interested, here's the recipe for Granny's Luscious Coconut Cake, as printed in the Bellevue Baptist Church (Owensboro, KY) Cookbook from 1998:

1 pkg. butter cake mix
1 c. sugar
1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream
2 (6 oz.) pkgs. frozen coconut, thawed (I actually used bagged coconut from the baking aisle)
1 (9 oz.) carton whipped topping

Prepare cake mix according to directions, making two 8-inch layers. When cool, split both layers. Combine sugar, sour cream, coconut and whipped topping. Spread between layers, sides and top. Seal cake in airtight container and refrigerate 3 days before serving (I only made it one day ahead and it was fine).

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Favorites: Summer Salads

One of my favorite things about summer is getting to eat cool, fresh, yummy salads. I usually start with a bag of mixed greens and then build it from there. I honestly have never thought that my salads were anything special, but I often get comments about what a pretty salad I've made, or how delicious it looks. Well, I appreciate the compliments, but really, for me, it's gotta be easy or it doesn't get done in my kitchen (or in the other kitchen I frequent at work).

This salad is Tex-Mex, made with a bean salad that I love to make in the summertime (because it's easy and tasty). I put a pile of greens on the plate, add a half cup (or sometimes more) of the bean salad, grape tomatoes (another staple of a lot of my salads), and guacamole (usually storebought). I sometimes add shredded cheddar, too. It's good to have some tortilla chips on the side, because at the end, you need something to help you get the rest of the bean salad that is still on the plate. Yum!

You're just going to have to ignore the fact that this photo is turned the wrong way and try to focus on my culinary creativity (haha!).

This salad starts with mixed greens and the other ingredients are a *sliced mango (as much as you can slice a mango when all the juices are running down your arm), a pouch of salmon (like canned, but you don't have to drain it), and some goat cheese. I usually spritz this with some vinegarette dressing, but really, the juice of the mango does provide enough moisture to act as dressing. I love the mesh of flavors of the fruit, fish and cheese. And it makes me feel so "Food Network-y"!

I have also made variations of the above salad using tuna and a nectarine and feta cheese, and it is good, too. I think the key is that you just find ingredients that you like and experiment with what tastes good to you. Summer is a great time to have salads, since the ingredients are readily available, but really, these salads can be done any time of the year.

If you have any favorite salad combinations, I'd love to hear your ideas. Happy Friday!

Red and Black Bean Salad

1 can black beans
1 can red beans
1 can Fiesta Corn (has peppers added)
3 T. red wine vinegar
3 T. olive oil
1 t. cumin
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper

Drain the beans and corn and place in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix vinegar, oil and spices. Pour over the bean/corn mixture and stir to coat. Can be served immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve. This recipe is easily doubled and is also great as a filling for tacos/burritos or with chips as a heavy dip.

*I discovered a handy kitchen gadget that helps to get the pit out of a mango. It doesn't make the slices, but does make it easier to get as much of the mango fruit to then cut up and use in a recipe. The gadget costs about $12 and I've found them at several places that sell kitchen items, even Kroger.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

2011 Scripture Memory #15

Happy August! I can't believe the "summer" is almost over and that Daniel will be starting back to school next week. But since the calendar keeps on moving all year long, it's time for another memory verse!

The third verse in the "Six Points of the Gospel" from Crossings Camp is:

"But God demonstrated His love toward us, in this: 
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8

Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead.

This is such a basic truth, yet at the same time hard to comprehend. God loves us so much that even though we could never deserve it, he gave His only Son to die and to take the punishment for our sins on Himself. I encourage you to do some thinking on this and let this wonderful truth of the gospel sink deeper into your soul. Wow! That's love!

Monday, August 1, 2011

I was born in a small town . . .

Well, I wasn't born in a small town, but my friend, Doug Goddard was, or at least he grew up in a small town that happens to be the 2nd oldest town in Tennessee:  Dandridge. It's just a few miles east of Knoxville, in the foothills of the Smokies (and the English Mountains, which Doug pointed out to me from the top of his family's farmland).

Anyway, since Doug and his wonderful wife, Leanne, were in Dandridge for the week, we (the Masseys and I) decided to head for the hills and help Leanne celebrate her birthday. And what a fun weekend it was! We mostly enjoyed hanging out together at Doug's family's house, but on Saturday, we ventured into "downtown" Dandridge and went to a couple of shops and took pictures at an old-fashioned soda shop (which was unfortunately not serving that day). I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.

The last few pictures were taken on Leanne's actual birthday on Sunday. The Masseys were already back in Nashville, but Doug, Leanne and I decided to go find a place that we'd seen on the Food Network show, "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," in Knoxville, called Pizza Palace. It's a drive-in pizza place, but we opted to eat at the counter inside the store, since it was as hot as the pizza oven outside! The pizza and onion rings were wonderful and we had fun hanging out a little longer before I had to head home to Nashville.