Monday, September 28, 2009

Brianna's "Something Blue" Bridal Shower

At long last! I wanted to share photos from Brianna's "Something Blue" shower earlier this month.

Due to a number of circumstances, there were a very limited number of weekends available for our bride, so we decided to combine forces (her Mom, her Aunt, her Grandmother and myself) and have a large joint shower.

I knew it would be special and wonderful, because everything touched by Brianna's family is just that. Her Grandmother takes care of the monthly women's prayer breakfast at their church, all of which have their own theme. She puts a great deal of thought and planning into each one, so I knew she would be overflowing with beautiful ideas. And she was. Add to that the creative talents of Breezy's Mom, Lisa & her Aunt Shawn...Wow! We all had our assigned tasks beforehand, then the morning of the shower, other family members arrived to help, too. Like a mini army we got everything set up and ready.

Don't you love those place settings? It was an afternoon tea so at every place, there was a sweet tea bag personalized with the names of the bride and groom, a cute tea cozy and special cup and saucer to keep as well. I loved the way the large doilies looked under the plates.

The favors were darling! Breezy's Aunt Shawn reduced the shower invitation and placed it on these little boxes, added a flower and coordinating ribbon and pretzel candies. Absolutely adorable.

Breezy's Mom, Lisa has been collecting antique cups and saucers since she was a teenager. Having them on display added a beautiful touch to the shower.

All sorts of various teas were offered, in a variety of lovely tea pots...

We served cucumber sandwiches, mini quiche, egg salad sandwiches, cranberry scones, cream puffs, oreo bon bons and baklava...
...chicken salad croissants, triscuits with cajun salmon dip and mini fruit pizza. Delicious! (This was not to mention of course, the cake!)

We played several games..."How Well Do You Know Brianna" and also a purse scavenger hunt, which proved to be great fun.

Since Brennan made the trip back home from South Carolina with Brianna, he stopped by later on (just in time to help open some gifts!)

They received all sorts of wonderful things....too many, in fact to take back to South Carolina on this trip. Literally every nook and cranny of that car was filled. (I meant to take a photo, but forgot!) By the time the wedding rolls around, they just might need to rent another little u-haul! ; ) This couple is so very blessed and so very loved!
As of today, the wedding is 20 days away! Rehearsal dinner invitations are in the mail, Tom's is being measured for his tux this week, my dress fitting is will be here before we know it! Thanks so much for sharing in our joy and excitement! = )

Friday, September 25, 2009

Greetings and Another Gem by Jon Walker

Happy Friday! How I miss you! Be assured that even though life is keeping me from blogging much these days, know that so many of you pass through my thoughts (and subsequently my prayers) on a daily basis. You are loved, sweet friends. Loved indeed.

I received this message earlier today from GraceCreates, a daily devotional message written by one of my favorites, Jon Walker. Like so many others, this one is simply too good to keep to myself. See if this doesn't just give you an added measure of strength today.

Have a wonderful weekend!

God Sees Who?

The Lord turned to [Gideon] and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” Judges 6:14 (NIV)
*** *** ***
Gideon was the least member of the weakest clan in the tribe of Manasseh.

His task on the day in question was the tedious threshing of wheat, a process where the cereal grain is knocked loose from the chaff.

But this devotional is not about agriculture. It’s about God’s ability to see you for who you are meant to be not for what you appear to be. God saw Gideon as a mighty warrior and judge who would lead the Israelites back to their proper worship of God (Judges 6:12).

Gideon, on the other hand, saw himself as just a guy cranking wheat through a creaky old winepress.

But that didn’t matter to God. He told Gideon: “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (Judges 6:14 NIV).

(Note to servants of God: The strength of the Sender is more important than the strength, or perceived weakness, of the one being sent.)

Gideon was still stuck in tunnel vision, believing what he thought and what he saw was the truth. To paraphrase the ancient Hebrew, Gideon told God, “I just don’t have what it takes, Lord. I know you’re perfect, but I think you made a mistake” (Judges 6:15 NIV).

Again, paraphrasing the ancient Hebrew, God says to Gideon, “Get your head out of the wheat dust and pay attention to me. I will be with you and so, yes, you will strike down all the Midianites as if they are no more than one man” (Judges 6:16).

It doesn’t matter what Gideon says about himself or what others say about Gideon. Only one opinion counts: God’s.

What God says about Gideon is the truth.

What God says about you is the truth. You are a precious child, created in his image; a sweet aroma that is pleasing to the Lord.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2009 Scripture Memory Challenge #17 & 18

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. ~ John 15:4-5 (NLT)

As I was planning to post my current verse for the Scripture Memory Challenge, I realized I had never posted my last one! (above) As I explained in my post last Friday, life is just plain crazy these days!

Between Brennan's recent move to South Carolina, wedding details, planning the rehearsal dinner and starting a new full-time position three weeks ago, I'm not sure if I'm coming or going. When I have had a few minutes to blog, I find myself staring blankly at the screen, unable to gather my thoughts into anything fit for reading! (I realize there are many people right now who would give anything to have "problems" like that, so please understand... I'm not complaining, just explaining!) Please don't give up on me.

In the meantime, please take a few moments and listen to the songs I've shared. They express my thoughts on these two passages far better than anything I could say right now.

As for God, his way is perfect. All the LORD'S promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. ~ Psalm 18:30 NLT

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Quick Hello!

Just wanted to stop and say Hi! Can’t believe it’s been a week since my last post. I have been a busy little bee!

Last weekend, we moved Brennan into the apartment (in South Carolina) he and Brianna will share after their wedding next month. They’ve been purchasing furniture little by little since the beginning of the year, so that little u-haul was packed to the MAX, as were the two cars also making the trip (one that was staying in SC and one to bring us back home!) We returned late Monday night, went back to work bright and early Tuesday as Brennan started classes.

Since we had travelled over the weekend, I was behind on my usual errands. Took care of a couple Tuesday night, saw my parents Wednesday night, last night did a truckload of laundry and grocery shopping. Tonight after dinner, I’ll be baking like crazy, preparing lots of baklava and mini fruit pizza for Brianna’s shower tomorrow. = ) Her family and I will be meeting at the facility at 10 am to decorate and prepare for approximately 60 guests due to arrive at 2:00! Can't wait!

I also wanted to let you know my Dad was released from his doctor yesterday. He took new x-rays of my Dad’s heels and said for a man of his age (66), the way his bones have healed is miraculous. He said they look better than he would have ever imagined…certainly an answer to prayer…thanks again for so faithfully lifting him up!

There is so much more I could share, but time is short so this is all for now...

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Praise the Lord and Pass the Gravy!

Last weekend, we hosted my hubby’s side of the family for two birthday celebrations. My father-in-law, Bob was turning 86 and my sister-in-law, Nancy was turning 56. I told Bob we could have any meal he wanted, but he was doing NONE of the cooking. (He typically insists on it, even on his birthday.) He told me he already had two Pork Roasts thawing for me in his fridge and with that, the decision was made.

I would have never let him know, but I was extreeeeemely nervous from the outset. You see, Bob is an amazing cook. There are a several dinners that are his specialty…one of them is roast pork. It is invariably excellent and our family LOVES this meal. I had never cooked a large pork loin before Sunday, so I asked him if he could tell me how he makes it. “No problem,” he said, “I’ll even teach you how to tie it.” Armed with his instructions and two freshly tied pork roasts, I was off to cook.

Everything went exactly as planned. After more than 2 hours of cooking time, I was thrilled to open the oven to find a roast that looked very much like one of his. He took one look and declared "BEAUTIFUL!" Upon closer inspection, he added, "cooked to perfection!" (Whew!)

By this time, the whole family had arrived and everyone literally cheered. (I think they too were a bit nervous that someone other than Bob was cooking their beloved pork roast!) The potatoes were almost finished cooking, the green beans had been in the crock pot all day, so it was time to make the gravy. I spent so much energy worrying about the pork roast, I hadn’t given much thought to making the gravy. (Are you starting to see where this is going??)

Like many families, ours tends to congregate in the kitchen. We have an island where everyone tends to hover. This often makes for extra pressure as you feel as though all eyes are upon you. Though I was thrilled the roast pork came out well, I knew I was going to be anxious until the entire meal had come together and was on the table.

I took a deep breath and began making the gravy. The natives were restless and seemingly watching my every move. The pre-dinner snacks had been consumed. Oh, the pressure! My sister-in-law, Sally was helping in the kitchen and we were both working as fast as we could, putting the final touches on dinner. The rolls were in the oven and I continued making the gravy. I had to say I was quite pleased with how it was looking.

Suddenly, we realized the rolls were burning so we immediately opened the oven to take them out. At the same time, our extremely sensitive smoke alarm (cleverly placed immediately over our stove when our house was built) began going off. The rolls were saved and we began waving a towel in the air to stop the smoke alarm. (Oh, just what we needed…more excitement and attention!) We were all laughing as I gave another glance to the gravy. It looked good, but I could see a few large lumps. I began looking for my strainer. Couldn’t find it anywhere! No worries, I thought…I’ll use my colander. I proceeded to grab my colander, sat it in my sink (in the middle of the island) and then grabbed the large pan of gravy. I quickly poured its entire contents into the colander. There was only one problem. I had forgotten to put a bowl under it. (I so wish I were kidding.) That’s right, the entire pan of gravy went straight down the drain. All that remained in my colander were the lumps.

There was a literal gasp of horror from everyone around the island and then…silence. Before I could even think, my mother-in-law (I’ve told you she was a character!) rushed over to my father-in-law to tell him what I had done. He grimaced, then grinned. I was mortified. Who ever heard of
roast pork with NO GRAVY? The family who had been cheering me just a few moments before were now chuckling nervously, saying things like, “it’s ok…we don’t really need gravy.” Suddenly, I remembered buying several jars of this…
Woo-hoo!!! A few minutes later, we were back in business. While not the same as homemade gravy…this would definitely be better than NO gravy. Thank you Lord and Mr. Heinz!

As we enjoyed dinner, my family thanked me for the meal, and the pre-dinner entertainment. Needless to say, I haven't heard the end of this one! ; ) LOL!

All smiles after “the gravy incident,” here is Bob and Nancy about to partake of birthday Peach Cobbler (which turned out much better than the gravy, thank-you-very-much.) ; )

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mini Fruit Pizza...Easy, Pretty & Delicious!

Fruit pizza has long been a favorite of mine. Making it is definitely part of the fun! You don't need to be overly artistic to make one of these look impressive...just follow the shape of the dough with your favorite fruit!

Typically, mine looks like the one above. Last week, I decided to go "small" and make individual fruit pizzas. I was really happy with the results! We'll be making these to serve at Brianna's bridal shower (along with lots of other goodies, too!) Here is how they look:

This recipe couldn't be easier. I use Pillsbury Sugar Cookie dough. Just slice and bake!

For the base, mix one block of cream cheese (softened) with 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar and 1 tsp. of vanilla.

Then, simply top with your favorite fruit! This makes enough for one fruit pizza or 12 minis. If you prefer to make one large pizza instead, simply slice the dough and lay them close together on a pizza pan. Spray a little Pam on your fingers and press the edges together to form a crust before baking as usual.

Let me add one suggestion...feel free to bake your cookies or cookie crust up to a day in advance.  Once frosted and layered with fruit, they will start to get soft.  For best results, eat within two hours of assembling them.  

UPDATE:  Here's a photo from the shower. I was so happy with how they turned out!  You will notice we added mandarin oranges (well-drained) and raspberries, too! 


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

25 Years Ago Today...

...I walked down the aisle and with great joy, married this wonderful man. He is the most precious earthly gift God has ever given to me. He's my sweetheart, companion, dearest friend and love of my life. He brings unspeakable joy and inexpressable love to every day. I am so very blessed.

One morning about a year ago, I woke up and walked into our kitchen...bedhead, no makeup and pajamas. It was very early and the house was quite dark except for one small light. I thought Tom was still sleeping, but a few moments later, he walked into the room with something behind his back. He said, "I made something for you." With that, he extended his hand to reveal a cd he had entitled "Tom's Heart for Tracy." A lump formed in my throat as I placed it in the player. I listened intently. As the songs he had chosen began to play, the tears began to flow. He wrapped me in a hug and we listened together. Before we knew it, we were "dancing." I don't mean elaborate, deliberate dancing...I mean that sweet, soft swaying of two contented souls. It was a moment forever etched in my heart.

As I celebrate the love we share today, one of those songs especially comes to mind. Written by Steven Curtis Chapman, it's entitled, "We Will Dance."

I've watched the sunrise in your eyes,
and I've seen the tears fall like the rain.
You've seen me fight so brave and strong,
you've held my hand when I'm afraid.

We've watched the seasons come and go;
we'll see them come and go again.
But in winter's chill, or summer's breeze,
One thing will not be changin'...

We will dance;
When the sun is shining, in the pouring rain.
We'll spin and we'll sway, and we will dance,
when the gentle breeze, becomes a hurricane.
The music will play, and I'll take your hand
and hold you close to me...
and we...will dance.

Sometimes it's hard to hold you tight;
sometimes we feel so far apart.
Sometimes we dance as one,
and feel the beating of each other's heart.

Some days the dance is slow and sweet,
some days we're bouncing off the walls.
No matter how this world may turn,
our love will keep us from fallin' and we...

We will dance;
When the sun is shining, in the pouring rain.
We'll spin and we'll sway, and we will dance,
when the gentle breeze, becomes a hurricane.
The music will play, and I'll take your hand
and hold you close to me...
and we...will dance.

The music will play,
and I'll hold you close and I won't let you go;
even when our steps grow weak and slow...

Still I'll take your hand,
and hold you close to me...
and we...will dance.

Happy Anniversary Sweetie! I love you beyond words and I cherish you with all my heart. I look sweetly forward to morning dances in the kitchen with you, all the days of my life.

I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine.
~ Song of Solomon 6:3