Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Necklace for a Cause

Recently I met the most incredible woman named Sabina.  She is visiting this month from Nairobi, Kenya.  In the nineties she was introduced to Christ.  When she became a Christian her husband told her she had to choose between their marriage and Christ.  She told him she loved him as her husband, and as the father of her children, but that she had to choose Christ....she could not afford not to put Christ first.  Her husband left her and told her that he wanted nothing to do with her or their two sons.  As a recently single mother, which put her on the outside of society in her community, she had to find a way to support her family.  She trusted God to show her the way, stepped out in faith and rented a little stall at the open air market selling beads she made out of old magazines.  In this large market, God brought enough people to her little stall to buy enough beads to feed her sons, but she knew there was more.  She began visiting a hospital with patients who had been abandoned by their families because of their long stay dealing with spinal injuries.  She took any extra money she could to help them have a better life.  They waited for her weekly, and she shared her joy amid her trials.  But, again,  she knew there was even more.  She soon realized her country had a problem.  Aids was rampant, and there was no eduation.  It's not a matter of a few bad choices-they did not know there were additional consequences beyond the already difficult life they had chosen.   Sabina put herself through school to learn how to teach Aids education.  And then she went.  She went and found the people that needed to hear about aids, and more importantly about a loving God who sent His son because He loves us all-regardless of our past, present, and even our futures.  She entered the slums and showed the prostitutes the unconditional love the Lord had shared with her years earlier.  God sent Barry Wood's ministry to partner up with Sabina.  They bought her a projector so she could play an Aids education video, and the Jesus film for the ladies she encountered.  The ladies started living changed lives.  They wanted more, they wanted to lead a life pleasing to God, but they needed to feed their families.  Isn't that where so many sit at a crossroads, wanting to be different, but not knowing 'how?'   Sabina realized she needed to teach these new sisters the path that had helped her.  She taught them the art of bead making, and they all began making beads to sell at her little booth.  Was this all?  Are you kidding?  No, Sabina went back into the slums and she started ministering to the men.  They are gang members, they showed up to her meetings with their guns in tow, but she said she knew her Jesus was bigger than their guns.  They came because they had heard about a woman that cared about them.  This is where her ministry currently lives.  The men are searching for new ways to live a new life in Christ.  They have done unspeakable things, but she has shared Christ love, and the blood that covers their sins.  They now make soap to sell in the market.  Barry Wood's ministry has brought Sabina here for the month to help launch a larger ministry because she's not finished yet.  She went somewhere nobody was willing to go.  She went armed with a relationship with Christ she needed to share.  I was able to hear her story through a class at church.  I am not currently able to walk the streets of Kenya and witness to these woman, but I know a lady who is, and I know each bead purchase makes a difference, and a way to live a changed life.   I bought some of her beautiful beads.  I'm giving these to my friends this Christmas with these attached cards that tell a small part of her story. 

These were made by ex prostitutes in Kenya.  This is how they support their families. 
They, in turn, share their stories and this love from Christ that Sabina shared with them with those in their lives. 
There is a saying, "If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day.  If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime."  Sabina has brought practical life skills to these women to show them another way.  She's brought education to prevent them from contracting Aids.  Most of all, she brought hope.  In the end, if you don't have that higher purpose to live for.  If you don't know about the unconditional love of Christ.  You'll never find anything that can satisfy here on earth. 
I really am excited about her ministry.  Eventually, they will be selling these online, and I'll definitely be sharing that website. 
Here are some additional beads made from cow bones. 
They can't afford to let anything go to waste.  It reminds me of how new life comes from death. 
I've always loved servicing the needy.  Coming from a house that was hit with a tragedy at a very young age.  Having nothing but a faith in Christ, and realizing that was more than enough, I can understand in small pieces parts of this story.  My Mom could have sat back and waited to see how the world would help her out, but she trusted that God would take care of things when my father was killed in a hit and run accident.  She got to work raising me and my brother and teaching us about the hope she had. 
It means so much to give in tragic circumstances, to be there, to support, but it's the long term care....and teaching others how to take care of themselves  when the hugs and help are gone that the real healing, growth, and ultimately the continuation of those lessons happens.  Yes, it's great to go when tragedy strikes a person, or a nation, but what an important reminder from Sabina that the important thing to remember is some people don't just need a meal to fill a hungry belly, they need to know how they can earn the money to buy future meals. 
Regardless of your denomination, or faith, few would disagree that what Sabina did is amazing.  Add her faith, and it's impossible for me to overlook the testimony God wrote in her life.  John 3:16.  When they get the site up and running, it's my prayer that others will want to get these beads, and wear her story.  It's also a reminder-if God will send a woman into the slums of Nairobi, Kenya to share His love with a prostitute, and a gang member.....I'm certainly encouraged and able to take a tray of cookies over to a hurting neighbor the next house over. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Plethora of Pies

Apparently I'm a fan of pie.  I have over 20 post from cookies, minis, meals, jars, sticks, fried, caked, and classics I love.  Click on any of the links below to go directly to recipes and tuturials.  Then head to the gym from now until Thanksgiving to make up for any damage done. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apple Pie In-A-Can

I saw the idea for making apple pie in cans at Adventures in Cooking and I fell in love with the idea for a fall dinner.  Seriously, how cute would these be as place settings, and other than the innards, the containers are free?!  I just made a few adaptations, but the basic idea is this....
Fill a can (look for bpa free) with pie crust (honestly, I found it's probably best NOT to fill it all the way to the bottom because it may leave raw portions, so I just filled the top half off the sides, and then wove the topping. 
 Use your favorite filling, apples.....just about the one dessert you can't mess up...
Only filling half the cant with dough I was able to fill five cans with one 9 inch round of store bought dough.  I cut strips and 'wove' a top, then pressed the seams along the side letting it overlap a bit.  I used some water.  I brushed the top with an egg white/water mix and sprinkled it with some cinnamon sugar. 
 I baked these for about 30 minutes (until the tops were golden brown).  If you choose to fill the whole can, I'd add another 15 minutes at least, cover the top for the first half of the baking with foil to make sure it doesn't burn. 
Seriously, I'm a fan of the can baking. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Muffins-100 Calories Each

My friend Mary recently shared this recipe with me.  These muffins are sooooo good, super moist, they smell great, and taste like the best parts of pumpkin pie.  Two good things about this muffin, minus the great taste.....they are only about 100 calories a piece, and they only require three ingredients, one of which is water! 
Basically, mix 1 box of spice cake mix (an 18 oz box), 15 oz can of pumpkin, and 1 c. of water.  Pour the batter into 24 muffin tins.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pie: Cinnamon Bun Pie Pockets

 I recently saw this recipe over at picky palate and I had to try it out.  These remind me of pies on a stick in their little minature form, but I've never tried a cinnamon bun flavored pie.  Oh.  My.  These were super simple and super delicious.  You can call them dessert.  I called them breakfast.  I halved the recipe for the sake of the buttons on my clothes, but I'll post the full recipe.  It also calls for a 3 inch cookie cutter (round).  I used the lid of a jar. 
Cinnamon Bun Pie Pockets
Ingredients
2 refrigerated 9-in pie crust, 8 oz of softened cream cheese, 1/4 c. packed brown sugar, 1/2 t. ground cinnamon, an additional 1/2 t. ground cinnamon (for pie topping), 1 T. sugar, 2 T butter (melted), 1 c. powdered sugar, 2-3 T milk or heavy cream. 
Instructions
1.  Unroll pie crust and cut out 3 inch round pieces (12 per 9 inch round)
 2.  Mix cream cheese, brown sugar and 1/2 t. cinnamon.  Place cookies on siplat lined baking sheet, or baking stone.  Place 1 T. of mix into 1/2 of the rounds. 
 3.  Brush water along the edge of the filled dough and add top dough piece.  Press together. 
4.  Mix the sugar and 1/2 t. cinnamon.  Brush the tops of the pies with the melted butter, sprinkle with the cin/sugar mix. 
 5.  Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.  Whisk together powdered sugar and cream.  Drizzle over the tops of the warm pies.  Devour.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pie: Pecan Pie Cookies

 I'm a fan of the pecan.  I also might be part squirrell because apparently I've been hiding quite a stash in my fridge drawer this year.  I've made pecan and I still have a collection.  I'm a really good squirrel.  So....next up I found this recipe at celebration and I thought...pecan+cookie.  Don't mind if I do.  Kind of a fun variation to the traditional pie at Thanksgiving...something you can make a day or two ahead and free up the oven.  Just don't try them until you are ready to serve or you'll be baking batch two.  These are yummy.  At first I was a little thrown because they are more savory than sweet.  I could sit with a spoon and the sugar bowl, so this can be a difficult sell for me, but...these are worth it.  These remind me of a classy Pecan Sandie.  And come on, they are kinda cute, huh?
Pecan Pie Cookie Recipe
Ingredients:
Cookie:  3/4 c. butter (softened), 1 c. brown sugar (packed), 1 egg, 1 t. vanilla, 2 c. flour, 1 t. baking powder
Filling:  1 c. chopped pecans, 1/2 c. brown sugar (packed), 1/4 c. whipping cream, 1 t. vanilla, pinch of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
Instructions:  Heat oven to 350 degrees. 
For the dough, Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and continue to mix until smooth. 
Add baking powder and flour until incorporated. 
For the filling, in a separate bowl, mix finely chopped pecans, brown sugar, and spices.  Add heavy cream and vanilla. 
Use a baking stone, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
Roll dough into 1 1/4 inch circles (this should make about 22 balls).  Place on sheet.  Press your thumb into the middle of each cookie and roll it around slightly to stretch the indention you have made. 
 Fill each indention with 1 t.+ of the filling mix. 
 Bake 11 minutes (until cookies are lightly browned). 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

1 Year and 70 Pounds Later

     Sooo…..I have a story.  It’s not finished yet, but….consider this a movie trailer of sorts-minus the movie, the paycheck, and the hot male actor playing lead along side me.  Not yet to the male lead, but it's still early in this movie.  
      A year ago I took up running.  Before that point, running was something other people did that sometimes interfered with city traffic on weekends.  It would have been on my 'never' list if I knew I needed to make that list.   It wasn’t a part of my vocabulary, except perhaps when one needs an antonym to describe one’s life. 
   So, not knowing I needed to be more deligent about guarding my 'never list,' as I was pondering my next exercise 'plan' to help lose some weight,  I heard about the Couch to 5K challenge App.  Hey, I've 'never' tried running, why not?  I decided to give it a go.  I started.  Three weeks later,  it snowed.  7 months passed.  I gained 30 pounds.   I turned 32.   I decided it was time to lose the weight.  But I like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and Cheetoes, and :put the name of any carb here:.
     Here’s my thinking.  You have to find something you hate more than you love food.  Ta Da!!!!  I’m a runner! 
     True story.
     Assuming you will allow me to call it 'running' b/c the shoes and socks are found in the running section.  I’m a runner.  In reality, I got passed by speed walkers at my first half marathon last March.  Like, all of them.  The only people still on the course with me at the end of the race were those who were obviously experiencing physical problems, as in,  they pulled a muscle and they limped across the finish line with me.  But I finished, and I ‘ran’ :heavy air quotes: the whole thing.  Subtract the officer about mile 10 that was standing by the barricade who asked me if I was OK, and I’ll call it a success.   I realized-I don’t run for the cheers.  I, certainly, don’t run for speed.  I run because I’m 70 pounds lighter BECAUSE I ran. 
     I started out  thinking small, 30 seconds at time.  It was hard.   I usually run at this park (pictured above) that is .70 miles around a little pond.  I remember thinking my first goal was to run around one time.  I’d run from one lamppost to the next (less than 100 steps) and think-someday, I’m going to run past every lamp post without stopping.  And then, someday came.  I passed all those post one time, and then I worked on a mile.  I remember how hard that mile was to complete.  I couldn’t imagine three miles (goal #3).    But then I made it three.  And now 3 miles, 3 miles is my ‘easy.’  I think-oh, thank goodness, it’s only three.  Don’t get me wrong….three isn’t a walk in the park (ha ha ha ha ha….I amuse me), but it’s not 8, and it’s certainly not 13.1. 
     My first (and only) half in March, despite the training,  I remember seeing the three mile mark and I thought-you have GOT to be kidding me, I’m only at three?!?!?  The whole time I ran that race I told myself this was it, this was the only time I was doing it.  It was too hard.  And then those stupid endorphins stepped in at the end of the race.  They hand you energy juice, and chocolate milk, and bagels and all the sudden you feel OK again and you are telling people, as you limp to the car,  you are going to run a marathon someday. 
     This is where the prior part of my story meets the present, and then the future hope.
     So, I decided I would run another one (stupid endorphins).  I’d run one more half (As this post-Sunday the 23rd...7:30 am, I’m ‘running’ that half….air quotes still necessary around running), and then my plan is to attempt ‘the marathon.’  Just one attempt at a marathon December 9th.  
      To be totally honest-running has taken over my life.  I’m doing a relatively light schedule to train because my goal is to just finish, and like, have a heart beat, at the end of the race, but it takes so much time, and I’m still just at the first 1/3 of the schedule.  October and November I’ll just be a distant memory to those that used to be part of my social life.  BUT, I knew losing this weight would be a full time job.  I’m not there yet.  I have more weight I want to lose….just a little more, but it will take me as long as that first huge hurdle took.  I know the running is the only thing that has kept me focused.  I’ve run through excuses, vacations, cake, cookies, issues inside and outside this body of mine, relationships, work, heart ache, bloody socks, and happy times.  I was inspired from great friends who ran first.  I’m so excited (and encouraged) by those that have joined me.  
      So here’s the bottom line.  I don’t know if I’ll finish that marathon…I don’t know if I’ll find my way home from today’s half.  I can’t imagine I won’t accomplish both, but….it truly is all up to God.  I never thought I’d run a mile.  I certainly didn’t think 13.1 was a possibility.  26.2 was the most ridiculous challenge of all, but I can do all things through Christ (Phil 4:13).  If He wills it, I'm training for that finish line.  The whole point was to make getting healthy a priority, and I’ve accomplished (or, rather AM accomplishing)  that focus and have changed the way I view life.  Minus a few miles at the end of each run, my life is better for this challenge. 
     I don’t think I’ll always be a runner. The whole idea is just there are so many things in life I put “I never…” in front of, and then I find myself in the middle of them, and it’s an incredible story.   I don’t know that I’ll ever attempt another marathon.  I’m not planning on it-I think I’ll find a new challenge, so don’t hold me accountable for anything I say December 9th, but what a fun year of first.   Then again, I may be on my 4th marathon a year from now, who knows.   I have more to write, but….I had to put this first half of my story in writing to A)  Keep focused on my goal and B)  Hopefully someone else who is in that boat looking at the next lamp post will realize you are capable of that….and so much more.  Here's hoping it's not toooo long before I get to finish this portion of my story.   And if my fingers work.....I'll report back soon because somebody has to keep me accountable...and send me Reeses. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chili Bar

Here's a simple idea for serving something easy to a crowd.  I've seen these around, more elaborate in some cases, but.....this fit the needs of some people I invited over a little while back for a sporting event.  I cooked up chili, and hot dogs in a crock pot (I blogged about that yesterday).  I added mini buns, fritoes, crackers, cheese, chopped onions, sour cream, and bowls to fix up a bowl however the mood fit.  I was in the mood for it all.  I'd say it was a success, there was nothing left at the end of the evening, so.....I'll be filing it away for another occasion.  I just love build your own bars. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crock Pot Hot Dogs


I found the idea for cooking hot dogs via the crockpot at CrockPot365, and I thought....yes, I think I will.  It's not that hot dogs are difficult to cook, but....the grill can be messy, and so often when I'm making them, I make them with something else.  They just become an after thought....something I have to throw on the grill when everything else is finished.  The awesome thing about the crock pot is that you can fill it up with as many as will fit, set it on low, don't add water or anything else,  and let them cook for about 4 hours.  They taste like the ones you get off the roasters.  I'm absolutely doing this in the future.  A put it in and forget it kind of meal?  That's my language. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pumpkin Drinks

 I saw this little guy all over the net last year.  I originally saw it on Jacolyn's blog here,  and I decided it was the perfect Halloween gift for my friends with older kiddos.  I added the green crazy straw to the mix, and I used electrical tape to create the face. 
I think the ones I saw last year used permanent markers.  I found these bottles of orange soda at the store for less than a dollar each, and I bought them because you can peel off the labels.  Really, can you ever go wrong with a gift that has a crazy straw attached?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mummy Candle Holder

 Next up in the candle collection for this fall....mumm candle holder. 
I used mod podge, cheese cloth (which they sell in the homegoods section of most grocery stores), and some brown ink. 
 I cut the cloth into strips. 
 I added mod podge to the jar, and just start wrapping the cloth around.  The mod podge made it adhere to this jam jar. 
 To give it a little aged look, I pressed the brown ink pad onto the cloth covered jar. 
 I added various sized google eyes to 'peak' out.  I used hot glue, but glue dots would work too.  Light it up and let the watchful eyes of this batch of monsters glow. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Good Morning, Texas: Halloween Lights

I'm headed to Good Morning, Texas this morning to do a few fall crafts-in particular-candles.  I'll be doing two segments-frosted glass, and then a mish mash of fun Halloween candle holders.  My friend Jo created a facebook page to house the segments if you are interested, here is the link where old segments have been posted, and new ones will continue to go up....along with some other blog type happenings. 
I'll be sharing this tutorial (links to the full tutorials are the underlined names above each picture)....
I'll also be sharing a collection of frosted creations I've put together over the last year or so....frosted glass spray is another item you can add to my growing list of addictions.  The nice thing about so many addictions is that I don't have time to let any of them 'own' me. 
Here are the links to the wine glasses, and fresh cupcakes sign, and unity candle
In segment two, I'll be sharing....
...and a few other candle holder ideas.  The fall weather is finally here.....now bring on the crafts!!!