Brazil 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014 1 comment
 First, did you know that the cashew grows attached to a fruit?  This is my fourth year to visit Brazil, but my first time to see these little beauties growing.  The Brazilians told me they usually toss the nut and just eat the fruit.  What?  Do they know what we pay for those little guys in America?  Each morning cashew juice is offered at breakfast, but I assumed it was like almond milk...not that I know how that is made either, certainly wasn't attached to a fruit in my head!
 I go to Brazil for many reasons, too many to really explore in one post, but one big reason is this guy...
Bill has been to Brazil about 20 times.  He spends the entire year raising money to help build churches, wells, and just try to make life better for the folks along the river.  He's 85.  I can barely handle this trip at 35.  When I grow up, I want to be just like Bill...with, maybe, a little bit cleaner vocabulary.  He pretty much keeps us laughing from the airport, to the Amazon and back again.  
 I'm also totally inspired by this lady, Phyllis.  She keeps us sane, and organized.  She can juggle just about anything, including 6 well behaved children, 3 with special needs who are incredible-all who help out with our trip, one who has joined us the last two years and absolutely is the smile I need on the boat.  I'm inspired by his love for Jesus.  He's also one of my favorite parts of the trip and I feel blessed to get to call him friend.  Phyllis gets us all there safely, with paperwork, pills, and shots, AND organizes all the daily groups, packs all the supplies, and always comes up with new ideas to make each trip more amazing.  The last few years we've been taking this camera that prints off sticker photos on the spot.  We stick them to adorable scrapbook paper with accessories and give them to the families who usually have few to no photos.  It melts my heart.
 And then there are the people, the babies, the women who work hard from sun up to sun down.
 There is the water, the yearly flooding, the floating homes...
 I love to pull up to a village and see them waiting there...
 ....when we leave it's not uncommon for the entire village to be waving us off.
This year we were joined by a guy, Chris, who went two years ago and saw the river water that is the part of most family's daily life.  It causes all sorts of illnesses with the parasites living in the waters.  He raised enough money to buy 100 buckets this year (50 dollars each) and he gave them out from village to village and showed the villagers how to use them.  One bucket would actually keep an entire village with fresh water for 7 years.  It's pretty incredible-100 liters a day, for seven years, and it filters out all impurities.  Most of the folks on our boat were willing to try the water.  Look, it's not that I don't trust the filter, but....somebody had to be available to call the medics should the filter be a I sat out this round.
 The Amazon, no surprise, is an array of colorful flowers and fruits.  I can look around at just about any time and see our folks pulling fruit off trees to try it out-the known-bananas, pineapples, oranges, coconuts, sugar cane, Brazil nuts, and all the exotic I have no idea how to name.
This flower comes from a tree called the jumbo tree and below it's branches these petals fall and create a pink carpet.
 ...but seriously, these babies...
 At each village we get off and try to bring a little bit of pampering and fun while the doctors and dentist do their work.  We host VBS for the kids, the men often hand out fishing supplies, and the women usually try to find the women of the village and give them a break from all their chores with community, nail, hairs, crafts etc.  One afternoon, after giving out foam stickers to decorate with in the morning, one of the kids came back for the afternoon, and she had used her extra stickers to stick her puppies name across it's forehead.  She also highlighted his private area with a c.....
 This year, the flooding was taking longer than normal to go down, so there were a few villages where we set up camp in the local schools, and then a speedboat took misc groups to other  villages or floating homes to visit with the people.  Share our faith.  Hear their stories, and often give them a hug from America and let them know we love them, and are thinking about them.
I wish I had words to really wrap around all I learned this year.  I've heard it and know this well-no story is the same as the one I wrote the year before on the river.  There are new challenges (this year, it was the bugs).  But God has prepared this time for these people, and He wrote His love for them in my heart.  I feel blessed to get to see how much God loves them, and how it's impossible not to-the joy that reflect from their hearts despite their circumstances.  Each visit is a big family reunion with the translators who travel with us, then group I travel with, and the people we meet and will see one day in heaven.  This year I went to Brazil with so much chaos back at home-my house is falling apart, my Mom had a terrible fall and was facing surgery, extended family has been dealing with life altering tragedies, but I knew God called me, and the trip reminded me of how much I have, how much I am blessed with in the midst of storms, and how equipped I am to deal with the things back home with a loving Father to guide me.  Yes, it's difficult compared to what I know, but not compared to the rest of the world.  If God wants me back in Brazil next year, I'll be there, who am I to say no?  So, I place my yes back on the table and will wait to see what happens next year.

Banana Sour Cream Muffins

Thursday, August 28, 2014 No comments
I needed a muffin (or bread) recipe for a meeting a few months back, and got this one from a friend.  I do believe this is my absolute favorite banana bread muffin of all time.  That's saying a lot b/c....I've had a few pieces of banana bread in my life.  So....try.  this.  one!
Banana Sour Cream Muffins
Ingredients: 1/4 c. sugar, 1 t. cinnamon, 3/4 c. butter(at room temp), 3 c. sugar, 3 eggs, 6 very ripe bananas, 16 oz of sour cream, 2 t. vanilla, 2 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. salt, 3 t. baking soda, 4 1/2 c. flour, 1 c. walnuts (chopped-optional)
1.  Grease 4 bread pans, or fill 36 muffin tins with liners.
2.  Mix 1/4 c. sugar and 1 t. cinnamon.  If you are baking bread, sprinkle this into the pans.  If you are making muffins, set aside.
3.  Cream together the butter, 3 c. sugar, eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla, and cinnamon.
4.  Mix in salt, baking soda, and flour.
5.  Stir in nuts.  Pour into pans or muffin tins.
6.  If you are making muffins, sprinkle your sugar/cinnamon  mix from step 2 onto the batter in the cups.
7.  Bake at 300 1 hour for bread/check at 35 minutes for muffins.  Toothpick should come out clean.  

Banana Oat Bread in a Jar

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 1 comment
 My friend Nicole and I went shopping awhile back, and I noticed her gravitating towards some of the mixes to try out....I too am a fan of the dried mixes at craft stores.  When her birthday rolled around, I decided to try my hand at a mix for her (found this on theyummylife) further's a gift in a jar idea...a fun one for holidays!
Banana Oat Bread In a Jar
Ingredients:  1/2 c. flour, 1 T. plus 1 teas. dry buttermilk powder, 1 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. cinnamon, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/2 c. whole wheat flour, 1/2 c. oa bran, 3/4 c. old fashioned rolled oats, 3/4 c. chopped walnuts (divided-1/2 c.  goes in the mix 1/4 cup for the top)
Instructions: In a 1 quart mason jar add the following ingredients in this order:
Layer 1:  Whisk together white flour, buttermilk powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon
Layer 2:  Brown sugar
Layer 3: Whole wheat flour
Layer 4:  Oat Bran
Layer 5: Rolled oats
Layer 6 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
Layer 7 1/4 cup walnuts wrapped in plastic
Gift Tag Instructions:
1.   Pour mix in large bowl; stir with fork, breaking up any clumps.
2  In a bowl mix 2 eggs, 1/3 c. water, 2 T. oil, ½ c. applesauce, 1 t.
vanilla, 1½ c. mashed ripe banana (3-4 bananas).
3.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
4.  Pour int a loaf pan coated with spray.  Sprinkle nuts on top.
5.  Bake at 350 50-60 minutes.  Cool for 20 minutes before removing the bread from the pan.

Spicy Sausage Balls

Monday, August 25, 2014 No comments
Last year I made these for New Year's Eve....I was talking to one of my friends as she was doing the exact same thing.  But...until then-these make an easy football snack or breakfast food.  I love the additional of rotel to give in a mini kick.  You can make these and freeze them in advance as well, and then pop them out and bake them when needed.  Super simple and delicious.  The original recipe came from PlainChicken.
Spicy Sausage Balls
Ingredients:  1 can of Rotel (drained), 1 LB sausage, 3 cups of bisquick, 8 oz of cream cheese
Instructions:  Drain Rotel and chop it up even finer.  Mix all the ingredients well.  Roll into 1 inch balls.  Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes.
Makes 4+ Dozen


Friday, August 22, 2014 1 comment
 I've been meaning to try rusting things for awhile now.  I finally gave it a go.  Before I move on I have to say-the cheaper your metal, the better.  If you can find bells from the dollar store....grab them.  If you can pick them up with a magnet-that's a good thing.  If not, they have a coating that is going to be a booger to get off.  The same things applies to metal pieces like safety pins that you might want to rust.  Second, the longer you soak them, the more rust your item with acquire.  After the first few days the brown 'stuff' with be floating around your bucket, but it takes awhile to start adhering to the item.
 All you need is vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and salt.  I covered my items with vinegar and let them soak for about three days.  I dumped out my vinegar and then I covered them with the hydrogen p and I added about 1/4 cup of salt.  I let THIS soak for over a week.  The second step is when the rust started forming.  It may not take as long with cheaper metal, but I learned the hard way.
When you pull your items out, let them dry on a newspaper for a few years so the rust 'sets' on the item.  If you are going to keep your item out in the weather, you might spray them with a coat of clear spray to make sure they stay rusted.

Tim Tebow's Family Pizza

Thursday, August 21, 2014 No comments
I saw this recipe at Taste of Home.  I don't know if it's REALLY Tebow's favorite...that's what they claim, but it was easy to throw together and tasty to devour, so....easy, delicious pizza gets my stamp of approval...because I'm sure he cares very deeply about this sort of thing!
Biscuit Dough Pizza
Ingredients: 1 lb of ground beef, 1/2 chopped green pepper, 1 envelope of Italian-style spaghetti sauce mix, 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste, 3/4 can water, 1 tube (12 oz) of buttermilk biscuits, 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese (divided), 2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese
1.  In a skillet, cook and stir beef and pepper over medium heat until the meat is not longer pink.  Drain.  Stir in sauce mix, tomato paste, and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until it is thick.  Stir occasionally.
2.  Separated the biscuits and press onto the bottom of a 9 inch deep dish pie plate or cake pan to form a crush.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of Parmesan.  Place meat mixture over, leaving a crush around the sides.
3.  Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese over the top.
4.  Bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
6 servings  

Crockpot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 No comments
I know I liked this recipe b/c I was too busy eating it to get a 'before' photo of it.  I love chips and dips for football fun or 'just because' get togethers with friends...or me, myself, and I.  I was cleaning out my room last year and came across a ton of recipes I had stored away, including a whole book of recipes that came with a crockpot 2 crock pots ago.  I found this super easy recipe you can toss into the crockpot to do the work, and you don't have to be timing it to come out at just the right time, or worrying about how to keep it warm through the third quarter of the football game.  This stores well, and heats up just as well the next day.  Crockpot Spinach Artichoke Dip
Ingredients:  2 8 oz packages of cream cheese (softened), 3/4 cup half and half, 1 Tablespoon of onion (finely chopped), 1 clove of garlic (minced), 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (grated), 10 oz bag of frozen cut spinach (thawed and drained well), 13 oz can of quartered artichoke hears (rinsed, drained, and chopped), 2/3 cup Monterey Jack cheese (shredded) chips for serving
Instructions:  Combine the cream cheese and half and half in a bowl until well blended.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.  Pour the mix into a crockpot.  Cover and cook on high for 1 1/2 hour or 2 hours until warm.  

Frito Pie Dip

Monday, August 18, 2014 1 comment
My favorite part about football?  The food you make to eat right before you nap through the game.  I saw this recipe last year at OhBiteIt and I thought....that sounds like my kind of dip.  It includes two of my favorite things.  Fat and calories.
So...if you two are looking for a way to add a few pounds to your hips, or a dip to try out for a football watching party....this did wonders for both of those goals in my life.  The plus side-I should be easy to spot in a football crowd.  ;o)
Frito Pie Dip
Ingredients: 12 oz of cream cheese (softened), 1/2 cup mayo, 1 T. sour cream, 1 cup of shredded cheddar, 1 can of your favorite chili, 1 pkt of Ranch Dressing Powdered mix, 1/2 c. of crispy and crumbled bacon, 2 T. steak sauce (I skipped this), 1 C. of crushed Fritos (save the remaining chips for dipping)
1.  In a bowl mix the cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, ranch pkt, and cheese.
2.  In a separate bowl mix the chili and steak sauce.
3.  Form a ball out of your cream mix, but create a well in the middle deep enough to hold your chili.
4.  I chilled the cream mix until I was ready to serve, then heated the chili a little and poured it in the middle.
5.  Stud the sides with Fritos and top the whole thing with the crush chips and bacon bits.
*The bacon bits are also optional-it just depends on your taste.  

Back to School Shirt

Friday, August 15, 2014 No comments
 My precious little niece is starting kindergarten this year, so....I made her a shirt.  Someone showed me a shirt that looked like this last year (thanks, Laine), and I knew it was perfect.
I bought some fabric and fusible papers on both sides and followed the steps to iron down each piece.
 I stitched around the pencil with a satin stitch and had another friend embroider her name to the pencil.  I added a ribbon with a safety pin so that it can be removed during washing.
 I bought a skirt and some leggings to match and outfit to start the year!

Easy Boutique Style Hair Bow

Thursday, August 14, 2014 No comments
 My friend Amber and I were at a boutique last spring, and we were looking through the hair bow selection at one of the vendor's booths.  I'm always struck by the price on those little beauties, so....just to reiterate how simple these are to make is the exact version of one of the bows we saw.
They sell elastic in the sewing section, but if you look near the hair accessories at craft stores, you can find this special elastic that is used frequently to make the new 'bumpless' pony tail holders.  It's a little gentler.  You get approximately 3,456 feet of it for about 3 bucks...add a coupon and it's practically free.
I also found this little cluster of flowers, already together on a little felt pad in the jewelry making section.  With my coupon, it was less than two bucks.  I took a piece of scrap felt, some little pearls, and a hot glue gun.
 I cut the elastic to fit a new born babies head (just google dimensions to fit your hair bow wearer's general head size).  I glued the ends to the piece of felt the flowers were already on.  If your flowers aren't on felt, cut a piece out and glue them down.
 It's not necessary, but I covered the two ends with another piece of felt.
I glued some pearls into the middle of each flower just to jazz it up.  For about 6 bucks less than the boutique....I've got my very own boutique style bow.

Turning Twenties with 20's Fabric

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 No comments
 Here's a bit of show and tell.  I bought these twenties fabrics years ago at a quilt show b/c I love them.  No real reason.  This reasoning, or lack there of, has ruled many of my decisions in the past.  I was talking to my friend, who actually has restraint and a rational thought process and she suggested using these fat quarters to make a quilt using the turning twenties pattern.  So....Here is it....
 It was probably the easiest...and fastest I've ever put a quilt together, so...if you need a fast one,'ve found yourself in possession you've bought without a real plan in mind....I liked this one.
 My friends and I usually get together once a year to craft at a retreat, and I finished the above quilt so swiftly I was able to put together this other little lap quilt I had bought for a steal at the same quilt show.
 Unfortunately, I bought it to go in my bedroom, which, at the time, had shades of blue and natural wood forward a few years in my procrastination room is now shabby chic with whites and dark woods.  Oh well.  Should global warming prove false...I have plenty to keep myself and everyone in the city of Plano warm throughout the winter months.