Isaiah 1:18

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

it's here, it's here...

Spring is finally here! We are so excited to see it as the winter was unusually rough this year. It is so pretty outside today and I think it would be great just to go sit out on the patio and fellowship. Grab a glass of tea; plain is in the cut glass pitcher on the counter. The southern sweet (yeah!!) is right beside it in the yellow (for sunshine pitcher). Just put in some ice and fill up your glass. Meet you outside.
Spring is one of my favorite times of the year. You have the warmth, you have breezes, you have the long slow rain for the summer flowers, you have new buds on your trees and new flowers popping out of the ground. Best of all, you have beautiful green grass. Be mowing soon!! Even that doesn't stop me from loving this time of the year.
Spring is all about new life. New plants. New babies on the farm. Maybe even new babies in your family. To me, it means New Life exemplified in the Easter Season. Easter! What is it about Easter that excites me? Is it the egg hunts? Is it the family pulled up to the table for a nice meal? Is it the families visiting back and forth at each others homes? It is all of these but so much more.
Spring reminds me of new life. The new life that my Lord and Savior gave me before time began but I didn't experience until I was in my 20s. The new life that is spoken of in:

II Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (KJV)

This speaks of the new life that is offered to those who become a child of God. This speaks volumes in how your life will change when that change takes place in your heart. Until God calls you to be His own, you will not have this new life. As a natural man before God, you will be at enmity with God, you will not choose to search Him out. When He starts drawing you to Himself, there will be a point where you can no longer fight against the urge that He has placed in you. You will run to Him. At this point, you will experience a new life being made real in you. You will have a different outlook on life, you will have different pastimes, you will have different friends and you will have different emotions. There will be alot of changes but all of them are a positive. You will be a new creature in Christ. John MacArthur makes several important points in his Study Bible that helps clear up any misconceptions that we may have as a lay person or new Christian.
To be "in Christ" means to have security in Christ, the believer's acceptance in Him with whom God alone is well pleased, the believer's future assurance in Him and the believer's participation in the divine nature of Christ. This means that we can know that Jesus bore judgement for our sins and that we have eternal security in The One and the only one who can give us that guarantee of our inheritance (place) in heaven.
The "new creation" describes something that is created at a new level of excellence; it will also be called regeneration or new birth. This includes the forgiveness of sins paid for in Christ's substitutionary death. To be a substitute means that you are standing in someone elses place.
"Old things have passed away" refers to the changes that take place that others can see. Old value systems, priorities, beliefs, loves and plans are gone. Evil and sin are still present, but the believer sees them in a new perspective and they no longer control him.
"All things" indicates that this newness is a continuing condition of fact. The believer's new spiritual perception of everything is a constant reality for him, and he now lives for eternity, not temporal. Temporal refers to this present life or world as opposed to the eternal which refers to everlasting time, time that doesn't end. It actually refers to time past, present and future.
All of this to say, that as a new child of God, you will experience many changes in your life. They are wonderful changes; changes that make you more Christlike. As we head into this Easter season, I do get excited about all of the changes that I see in my world as far as nature, the trees, flowers, grass and on and on. I get more excited about the fact that Christ made me a new creature and I am allowed to go to a church that will teach us more and more of what it meant for Christ to be so willing to go to the cross for me. I hope that if you are a Christian that you take note of what your Pastor passes on to you: information that can renew your love for the Lord. If you are not a child of God, I pray that He will soften your heart towards Him and bring many into your life that can help you understand what Christ has done for those He loves.
Note that our new Bible memory verse has been posted on the main page of the blog. It just so happens that it is the one that I have focused on today.
Until next time, be blessed!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

On a mission... find the best specialty coffee. You know how I like my coffee. I love my coffee. I drink several cups every day. Just regular coffee that I add cream and sweetener to. But today, I am looking at gourmet coffees. I am going to visit one of the local coffee shops and try one of their specials and see how I like them. Guess what, you are going with me! Let's go! My car will hold 5 comfortably so lets take a headcount first. More than that and we are taking the pickup truck. But ladies in the back, when we hit city limits, just lay down nice and quiet and no one will be the wiser. C'mon....
When I first decided to do this post, it was going to be a comparative post. We were going to visit several locations in the area and determine which one we liked the best. The more I hunted and searched and looked, the more I realized that would not work. There is a grave difference between the coffee shop that we are going to and a gas station that has a coffee shop inside its building. The ambiance of a place can make it or break it. Today, we are going to my favorite. It's called Cafe Ameno.
Ahh, see, we are already here. You can have your choice of coffee or tea. You can have a pastry or a snack or you can have a full meal. Today we are just going to test the coffee but I do have to tell you that I came with a friend of mine not too long ago and this is what we ate: Bruschetta ( I LOVE Bruschetta - and theirs is wonderfully fresh and the tomatoes still have that little crispy tenderness of just cut tomatoes so that I knew my food was freshly made. We each had a bowl of broccoli and cheese soup as well. Yes, it does rival the soup at any of the large chain restaurants that everyone hurries to on weekend nights. I do have to tell you that I really wanted to slurp that soup and if I wasn't afraid to be seen, I might have even licked the bowl. They have recently started making Belgian Waffles on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Yep, working on the hubby to bring me here for that. Enough about the food; suffice it to say that I liked it, I will be back and I will certainly spread the word.
Ok, back to the coffee. Everytime I go into a specialty store, I end up getting the same thing over and over because I just like it so much. This place is no different. They do make a mean cup of hot chocolate. I personally love their Cafe au Lait. To be such a simple drink and not even be sweet, it is decadent in the sense that it just simply tastes good. I am an espresso drinker and love that strong bitter aftertaste that comes with it. The steamed milk just really makes it undeniable great. I am making myself hold back here. There are just so many choices to go through. Wonder if they will start a coffee drink of the month club? Hmmm...I'd be a member in a heartbeat. My friend had a Raspberry Mocha. That is espresso, raspberry syrup and whipped cream. The menu doesn't list chocolate as an ingredient but I strongly expect it is or it wouldn't be called a "Mocha." At any rate, she liked it. My mother in law and I plan to go soon as well. She and I both love salmon and they have a smoked salmon salad on their menu that puts weight on me by just reading about it. I think that I want to try the Spring Berry Salad. Anything put on top of a bed of organic baby leaf spinach cannot possibly be bad. Now I am getting hungry as well. May have to plan that luncheon soon.
Well, Cafe Ameno is not just about the coffee and the food. The service has been wonderful every time I have been there. I have yet to be disappointed. I also like the atmosphere. It is so calming and they have music going all the time. I love the way they have decorated; it gives you a feeling of richness. I am not sure that adequately describes it but that is how I feel. As a stay at home mom that has been very involved in her son's schooling, church and activities that come with that and the hectic pace that we, as a family, have set for ourselves, I also have to admit that I feel pretty free when I am there - it's my treat, my pampering. If you see me there, just wave and send over another cup of coffee.

This location looks small from the outside but once you enter the doors, you can see that it does seat several at tables and the little cozy couch in the corner. They have so much to offer. They have a website that you can make special orders from as well. They have some of the cutest tea boxes, several loose tea samples, and, of course, coffee. My husband got a gift card for one of my Christmas gifts. Yes, it will be on my birthday list too. This establishment also offers live music from time to time. I think that is an excellent idea and will help them keep their customers happy and bring new ones in as well.
I can go to a larger city and have more options as far as coffee houses go. I prefer to stay close to home, spend my money here and support the growth of my community. Most of all, I want to go into a place and it feel like home to me. Sort of my "Cheers" for coffee lovers. I guess I just dated myself. You can't get too old for coffee; don't let anybody tell you that you can.
I hope you have enjoyed your coffee break with me today? I would love to hear what you would order off of the menu and why. Give me a compelling reason to try your favorite so that I can make a comment or two about it. Waiting to hear from you. Until then, visit Cafe Ameno's site and sit back and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Full Belly...

It is winter, it is cold and it has even snowed here. On top of that, I am hungry. Hungry for a good hot and healthy breakfast. One that will stick to my ribs. Something that I can feed my family and know that they are leaving for the day with a full belly.
What's your favorite hot breakfast cereal? I have several. I am from the south so one of them is grits but that's not what I am fixing today. I fixed oatmeal. The slow cooking kind. Actually I put it in my crockpot so that it was ready when we got up. If you like real oatmeal, not the instant or quick kind, I would suggest you try this. So easy. This recipe calls for oat groats, the groats are the oat with just the hard outer shell removed. They are much less processed than the oats we normally use for oatmeal and have the nutritional value still intact.

So, all you need:


heat safe dish that fits securely into the bottom of your crockpot
oat groats

You will use the measurements of 1:4. My dish will hold 1 cup of groats and I add 4 cups of water. Set this dish into the crockpot and pour water around the outside of your dish up to the level of the water inside your oat groats dish. You will cook on low for 7 hours. Since this is a waterbath method, be very careful when lifting your dish out. It will be very hot and the water bath will be steaming.

You can then add in any type sweetener that you like. We use honey, brown sugar, turbinado or sucanant. My favorite is the turbinado because it has a milder flavor than the sucanant but still has alot of the nutritional value still. You may add butter if you like. My husband likes to add raisins. I like pecans and a cinnamon blend. At this point, the only thing holding you back is your imagination. These are really creamy but yet really chewy. Just right for my taste. Any leftovers will need to be refrigerated for another day. You can warm them up in the microwave without any problem. Unless your family has a really hearty appetite, you will have leftovers.

Well, now I am really hungry, so I think that I am going to go eat my oat groats. Remember that you can find these at most health food stores and some country markets. You can buy them in bulk and use them a number of ways. As a matter of fact, I grind them in my Whisper Mill grinder and put in breads, pancakes and baked goods. But that's another post...I have to go now, this bowl is calling my name. Can you see the raisins and almonds? Wish you were here to smell it, yummy! Do you use oat groats? Comment below and let me know how you incorporate this very healthy grain into your diet.
Until later, Blessings

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bible Verse for Memorization

I am sitting here and wondering how long it has been since I have attempted to memorize scripture for my own benefit. I have learned them while working with my child and his schoolwork. I have learned them with my Sunday School kids. When did I last learn them for myself? What about you? Do you hide His word in your heart? Do you realize how important it is that you do this? Sometimes I wonder if there will be a point in my lifetime that we, as Americans, will no longer have access to a physical Bible, a book that is tangible, that we can look up scripture as we need it. Sometimes I get in a situation and later find that if I had committed a particular verse to memory, I may have been able to handle a situation differently. I want to learn verses and I would love for you to join me. Will you?
Our first passage is:

John 14:16-20
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.
Even the Spirit of truth; who the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.
Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also.
At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
The difference with this memorization program is that you will not just memorize a verse or passage, you will learn it's meaning and the context in which it is found in the Bible. I have always thought it important to learn a verse but, to me, the meaning of the verse and how you can apply it is so much more important than using the exact words. So, I will be using study Bibles, concordances and commentaries. I am not a theologian and therefor, there is no need for me to give my opinion.
These verses are found in the Gospels and were written by the Apostle John. It was written around 85-90 AD. It is within the boundary of Christ's private ministry to his own, the Believers.
From the Scofield Study Bible:
(vs. 16) The word comforter is the translation of the Greek word parakletos meaning: one called alongside to help, a consoler. It is also translated as an advocate. Christ is the Christian's paraclete with the Father when the Christian sins; the Holy Spirit is the Christian's indwelling paraclete to help his ignorance and infirmity, and to make intercession. (Rom. 8:26-27)
(vs. 20) The new relationship described in the words "ye in me, and I in you" introduces the New Testament mystery of the body of Christ. The position of the Church in Christ, as composed of members of His body and the truth of Christ as indwelling the believer are central features in the Pauline doctrine of the Church, and are here revealed to the disciples for the first time by Christ.
From The MacArthur Study Bible:
(vs. 16) The priestly and intercessory work of Christ began with the request that the Father send the Holy Spirit to indwell in the people of faith. The word another means another of the same kind, i.e. someone like Jesus Himself who will take His place and do His Work. The Spirit of Christ is the Third Person of the Trinity, having the same essence of deity as Jesus and as perfectly one with Him as He is with the Father. Helper means "one called alongside to help" and has the idea of someone who encourages and exhorts. "Be with you" has to do with His permanent residence in believers.
(vs. 17) He is the Spirit of truth in that He is the source of truth and communicates the truth to His own. Apart from Him, people cannot know God's truth. Abides with you and will be in you indicate some distinction between the ministry of the Holy spirit to believers before and after Pentecost. While clearly the Holy Spirit has been with all who have ever believed throughout redemptive history as the source of truth, faith, and life, Jesus is saying something new is coming in His ministry.
(vs. 18) In this veiled reference to His death, Jesus promised not to leave them alone.
(vs. 18,19) First, He was referring to His resurrection, after which they would see Him. There is no record that any unbelievers saw Him after he rose. In another sense, this has reference to the mystery of the Trinity. Through the coming and indwelling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Jesus would be back with His children.
(vs. 19) Because of His resurrection and by the indwelling life of the Spirit of Christ, believers possess eternal life.
(vs. 20) In that day refers to His resurrection when He returns to them alive.
I pray that you will have the desire to hide His words in your heart so that you may recall them when needed. These verses speak to me and remind me that I am His, He is mine and that He will never leave me.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's a contest!

Yes, friend, we are having our first contest. I happened to be surfing some of my favorite foodie blogs and I ran into a most interesting post. Crystal Paine of "Money Saving Mom" introduced a challenge of sorts to her readers just the other day. Her idea is to eat out of her pantry for four weeks. Can you imagine not running to the grocers every other day for that one or two ingredients needed for a recipe that you want to make today? I live out in the country and while we do have local grocery stores, I would just as soon stay home. It's really cold out and wouldn't it be nice just to be able to stay in front of your fire those extra moments that you would otherwise dedicate to food shopping? If you don't have a fire place, then I invite you to just take that time and meet me here. We can have coffee, my beverage of choice. We can talk about events of the world or swap recipes or tips, anything to keep me out of a stalled checkout line. Crystal's friend, Kelly, wrote within the article a list of some nuggets that you will take away from this challenge in the form of "discoveries." Some of them are: creativity, thankfulness and purpose. Please go visit Crystal at and I assure you that you will find something to enjoy.
Now, please, do not get me wrong. I think this is an excellent idea! As a matter of fact, it has been presented to me on other occasions! My husband has actually suggested that I try to do this. Oh, and yes, our son too - though I have to admit, I think he was just mimicking his Dad. I don't think he realizes that to follow this course would mean that his preferred frozen pizza would not be purchased beforehand and wouldn't make it to the house during the challenge if it is not already in my freezer.
Now, anyone that knows me very well at all or has been to my home knows that we have a surplus of food. I think the saying goes: "enough for an army." Yes, I am embarrassed to admit it but they say that the first step to recovery is to admit that you have a problem.
Here goes - I know I have too much food in my house. I know, as well, that in spite of this, I still go to the grocery store. Going to the grocery store is not the actual problem, it's going and buying more food that doesn't necessarily complete or complement a meal that you already have planned.
Ok, so I have decided to join the challenge, kinda, sorta. Umm...I just found the post and am not prepared to sign my name to the dotted line. I do hope to follow as closely as possible Crystal's guidelines and see how I do. I also hope that the next time "Money Saving Mom" hosts this challenge, I will be up to it and make it official. In the meantime, I will do it quietly and behind the scenes, in case I mess up royally. I will let Crystal know that I am on board, kinda, sorta.
Ok, your part! The contest!
I have an item in my pantry that I really need to use. It's:

As a matter of fact, I have three crispy pizza crust mixes. They really need to be used up. My problem is that I don't want pizza! Why in the world would I buy a pizza crust mix, much less three of them, if I didn't want pizza? C'mon, I know you are asking that or, at least, thinking it. I know that I am. At any rate, I want you to come up with an original recipe using this product as an ingredient in the dish. The only other rule is that all other elements must be common ingredients that you would normally find in an average southeastern pantry. You see, I need to be able to make this dish without having to go to the grocery. Crystal does set up some guidelines for what shopping you are allowed to do: you can only go shopping a maximum of three times during the challenge period, you can only spend a maximum of $75 per visit and you can only purchase dairy and produce.

Before I go any further with the contest information, you should know that there are benefits to this exercise. The most important is that you save time and money. My extra time will be invested in more research for our blog. The money saved will be handled somewhat differently. Crystal makes the suggestion that all extra money saved be donated to a local food bank. My extra money during this time will be donated to The Bethesda Center in the form of nonperishables that may be put on their shelves until needed for filling food baskets for the needy. The Bethesda Center is a local organization that has a store with marked down products and provides food baskets in times of need. They also help with utilities should the need arise.

Ok, now back to the contest. How do you benefit? What is your prize? Well, I am a brand new blogger who has not yet had any followers to join. I have not had anyone approach me with a prize to give away either. So, should you decide to take part in this, your prize will be bragging rights! Ok, maybe not that! Kind of prideful, isn't it? So what I will do, is publish your recipe along with your name and photo. Still have to learn how to do that from an email; that's how new a blogger I am. I will also publish photos of the recipe in stages as I make it. Just make a comment below with a name, email address that I can get in touch with you and the category of food that your recipe would fall under: breakfast, main dish... I will contact you through email and you can respond with your recipe. I will choose the one that fulfills the guidelines the closest with what I have on hand. Can't tell you what I have because I have so much I do not know what it is and because this will give everyone an equal footing. The contest will start immediately and run through February 15th, 2010. I will determine which recipe I will make and it will be published here end of February. I will be taking part in the challenge in February, a month later than "Money Saving Mom" but I feel that I will get as much enjoyment and knowledge as if I had done it in January.

To take part in this challenge or just to read the original blog, please go to "Money Saving Mom" at and key in Eat from the pantry challenge. I am sure she would love for you to join her.

Until later, keep cooking. Blessings. Linda

Friday, January 8, 2010

That red checked cookbook...

Did you have a favorite cookbook while you were growing up? I sure did! It was actually the "Better Homes and Garden Cookbook" but we called it the red checked cookbook and all the ladies had one. It's obvious why that was the nickname, but, in hindsight, nicknames are ususally shorter than than the original name. Not in this case. I think that is terribly funny, don't you?
I was thinking of this book the other day when I was planning my menu. It's winter, it's cold, it's wet and it is windy!! What better meal to serve than a warm, hearty stew? My son is a picky eater and you may have one too. Recently I found out that he likes my Mom's beef stew. I called her and asked her for the recipe. Do you know what she told me? "You have it! It's in the red checked cookbook". Ha, I have two copies, compliments of my Mama.

So, tonight, after my husband comes home from a long day of work, really hard work, we are going to sit down to a big bowl of beef stew. Hmmm...maybe some cornbread to go with it. Yummy, I can already smell it cooking and am getting hungry. Guess I better get up and get to cooking. Come on into my kitchen with me. You can help cut the veggies!! This is all you need!

Brown Stew
2 lbs. beef chuck, cut in 1 1/2 inch cubes

2 tbsp fat

4 cups boiling water
1 tbsp lemon juice, fresh, frozen, or canned (optional)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion, sliced
1 to 2 bay leaves
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
Dash allspice or cloves
6 carrots, quartered
1 lb (18 to 24) small white onions.
Thoroughly brown meat on all sides in hot fat; add water, lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, garlic, sliced onion, bay leaves, and seasonings. Cover, simmer 2 hours; stir occasionally to keep from sticking. Remove bay leaves and garlic.
Add carrots, onion. (Cubed potatoes may be added.) Cover; continue cooking 30 minutes or till vegetables are done. Remove vegetables and meat; thicken juices for gravy. 6-8 servings.

I, of course, changed the recipe to suit my family's tastes. First, I mixed some flour, black pepper and seasoned salt. I then rolled the meat in the flour mixture before I browned the meat. This ensured that I had flavorful meat as well as self made gravy like broth. I left out the "gravy making" step.

I had to put this picture in because it shows all that fragrant steam. Can you see it? Look really close. It smelled so good while I was browning it.

This is the step where you can go read for a bit. The meat has to cook to tenderness before you add any of the vegetables. And, boy, was that meat tender. You could cut it with just a fork!

Now doesn't that look worth the effort? As you can see, I decided on homemade biscuits. they were so delicious!
Just typing in this recipe is making my mouth water. Why don't you make this and let me know how you liked it and what you changed. If you are like me, a recipe is a suggestion, not a law. I always leave out the salt. I roll the beef pieces in seasoned flour before frying. When everything is simmering together, this will make it thicker. I like my stew thick so that I can slop up the broth with cornbread or a biscuit. Mmmmm...maybe biscuits!
Until we talk again, happy cooking,

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's a snow night...

My son was so excited to have it announced before he went to bed last night that school would be cancelled due to inclement weather. Nothing had happened yet. Sounds curious, doesn't it? Here in the Southeast, alot of cities are not prepared for the icy/snowy season due to the road layout and the lack of these conditions for the most part. Our area is really beautiful but remote, to a point. Lots of curves, valleys, hills and trees are around and the road is not exposed to enough sun to keep the roads clear. This morning we were to have 1-3 inches. We had a little dusting. We were to get more during the day. We had a little more dusting. Areas close by got more, but we got dust...and ice. It was still pretty coming down though. Above are some pics so that you can see.
When I was growing up, I think that we got more snow than my child normally gets to see in a winter. There is one thing that I just had to make sure was the same. Hot Chocolate...homemade hot chocolate. My mother used to make this for my two sisters, brother and myself when we would come in from playing in the snow. Sure would warm you up...from the inside out. I wish you could have been here today to smell the chocolate as it warmed on the stove. Ahh....comforting on such a cold winter day. We also had grilled cheese sandwiches. Everything was absolutely yummy.

Homemade hot chocolate is so much better that the premixed envelopes that you buy at the grocery. Now, the packets are much more convenient and I do admit that I will still buy them but when possible, I am making mine. If you have never made it, following is a recipe.

Homemade Hot Chocolate

This is all you need. Isn't that easy? Like me, you probably already have this in your pantry. Just milk, sugar and cocoa.
5-6 Tbsp cocoa

5-6 Tbsp sugar

3 cups milk
In medium saucepan, mix sugar and cocoa, add milk. Stir over medium heat until warm to your liking.

I doubled this recipe so that I would have some for tonights family night. Just refrigerate left over portion for later.

This is the sugar and cocoa.

This is after I added the milk. So rich!

This was our lunch. So yummy! The hot chocolate was so creamy and rich and Josh said he just loved it. The grilled cheese sandwiches were good, hot and gooey. The only thing missing was the salsa. I was out. I love to dip mine in salsa. I also love thinly sliced tomatoes and onions on my grilled cheese before I cook them. Since I was splitting the sandwiches with my picky eater, I didn't do that. Maybe next time.
After hubby came home, we had a simple dinner of shrimp and broccoli and settled in for family night (and the remainder of the hot cocoa). We watched a movie that was really family friendly and enjoyable. I think that we may have to watch it again to catch the end. Not really sure if it ended in a way that we understood completely. This is a picture of the DVD case.
This is a cute movie about a family under financial stress living in a community filled with need. The father makes a wondrous discovery and attempts to use his compassion and common sense as to how to exercise his newfound knowledge and the "moss". You have to watch the movie to discover how it ends. You can find a copy through the production company Feature Film for the Family at
Sorry about the flash on the cover. I am still new at photography and blogging but am enjoying the process as I go. Any tips that you can give me, would be greatly appreciated.

I would also love to hear what you do on family nights? Is there a game or a movie that strikes you as being one to bring those sweet memories of your own childhood to mind? Would love to hear about those as well. What about your favorite winter family beverages? Do you have a special one that you make for your family to enjoy? Please comment below and share the recipes. You know that you can never have too many recipes. Until next time, spend time with your family; make memories for your little ones so that they can pass on a heritage to their own precious little ones.
Until we meet again. Blessings and seek the Lord in all that you do.