Month: March 2015

Dear Little One

Dear Little One,

Today was your due date.  If you were anything like your brother, we may have met you a week ago.  I have been so worried about March 28th since I found out that I was losing you in August.  I was so unsure how I would feel, what would be going through my brain and how I would process that I don’t have you in my arms right now. 

One of my favorite sayings for moms of miscarriage is “I will hold you in my heart until I can hold you in heaven.” Thinking about that makes me feel that I can breathe.  I will get to meet you some day. That is huge.  

I wish more than anything that I had you in my arms right now, I wish that there were sleepless nights, snuggles, a meeting of you and your brother captured by lots of cameras, I even wish for the hard things, labor, diapers, spit up, I wish that I had it all right now.  But, unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be.  God had a different plan for you and for me.  I won’t ever know why this was His plan for us, but I am trusting him. I have missed you everyday since I lost you.  

Love, Mommy

Our Miraculous God Thing News

The story that you are about to read is an amazing thing that God has done in our family’s life.  We have been blown away.  God is working in the details. Here is the story, which is jam packed full of all the insignificant details that God weaved together to write this amazing story. 

We have known for around a year that we would have to move out of our house somewhere between February 15th and March 15th.  Ryan is working full time and so we decided that I would look for places and we would then visit them together.  I have been anxious about this for about a year.  We work in ministry so we can’t afford much rent and we have been getting a sweet deal since we have been married in an amazing house.  We knew that we would be downsizing and that we would be paying more in rent to live, no matter where we moved, so it has been stressful thinking about it all.  

Over the years since we have married, I have realized that owning a house is not something that we would ever be able to do, we just don’t make enough money to be able to save for a down payment.  With the move coming, we thought about buying, but it was unrealistic.  

God was also working on my heart.  In December, He was whispering to me to view this change as a good thing, that He was making all things new and I needed to be positive about the upcoming change. 

I wanted to expand my search for housing and posted online in January that we were looking for a place, hoping to broaden my search and hoping a friend would know of something.  I got a couple of good leads, but then it quieted down.  A couple of days later I received an email from a professor at Eternity.  He and his family were moving to South Africa as missionaries and they were wondering if we would be interested in renting their house.  It fit our budget and our perimeters, so we scheduled a meeting with them a few days later on a Sunday. 

On the way to the meeting, Ryan mentioned that he needed to take this house tour seriously. We got there and found a cute little three bedroom, one bath house. We toured the house not sure if it would be a fit for us.  At the end of the meeting we all sat down on the couch and talked.  As we were talking, they mentioned that they would be willing to sell the house.  Then they threw out a couple of numbers for what they would want for the house, they didn’t want to make a profit, but wanted to get out of the house what they owned on it.  Both numbers felt within reach, but Ryan was on the other side of the couch and we were just listening.  They then shared that they were not quite funded to move to South Africa.  We left their house and got in the car.  My mind was racing thinking that we could buy the house. I don’t know if Ryan or I said it first, but we were both thinking it.  We didn’t know if it would be a good fit for a rental, but we would love to buy it.  

Ryan sent an email that night asking what they would want to sell the house for.  They emailed us back with a number that was mentioned the night before.  The number was much below market value for the house.  Ryan wrote him back and said that he would be better getting a realtor and selling it because it was worth more, and asked what they would need to sell the house for them to be fully funded.  They wrote us back, upping the original price to a price which was still within reach for our budget and below market value for the house. 

Ryan told him that we would like to buy the house if we could get the loan to buy the house.  On Monday and Tuesday, we met and talked with the people in our life that help us make decisions, our parents, the men that the Lord has placed over us at church and a dear friend who knows the area and pros and cons of houses here.  Resoundingly, we heard yes.  You should do this.  They counseled us that if we could get a loan to get it for the entire amount we need to give them the full amount they were asking for.  This is what Christians should do, help each other out.  They are helping us by selling us a house for below market value and we are helping them by giving them the amount that they need to get out on the mission field. 

We still weren’t sure about the loan, but we were given the name of a man who has helped some of the Eternity staff buy houses.  He helps out Christians because he is a Christian and wants to be a blessing.  Ryan worked hard to get together all the needed paperwork on Wednesday.  He asked us to meet on Thursday morning at 6:30am.  He encouraged us so much and helped us understand the process.  He said that a loan was doable and that he would start processing the paperwork but that we needed a contract with them saying that we were buying the house.  We got home and emailed the homeowner, letting him know that we were funded and going to buy the house.  He emailed us back with a big, “Praise God!”

On that Thursday morning, I was struck by all that God has done in four days.  I sat and cried in my husband’s arms (at Disneyland, of course, oh the irony) proclaiming all that God has done for us.  We have been in a season of sadness and quietness from God.  So many sad things have happened in our lives since being married and we just would pray that the season would be over soon, and then another sad thing would happen.  That, matched with the overwhelming feeling that God was being quiet in our lives, was so rough, but true to what God was whispering to me back in December, He is making all things new.  There are still sad things all around us, that overwhelm us both at times, but in the midst of the sadness, God gave us a gift, a place that we could call our own, a miracle house, that couldn’t be done without his doing.  He gave us joy and happiness in the midst of the sadness and he answered a desire of our hearts in a huge way.

So, today, after about a month and a half of being under contract for the house, we finally closed.  Something that I never thought in a million years that we would do.  God has led us in every step.  We have been blessed beyond our wildest imaginations.  We own our own little house in a city that we love.  You can expect a blog tour soon. 

 Ephesians 3:20-21

 

Our New House

 

I will be posting more pictures as the house gets in order.  There are a lot of projects that we have been working on.  I am excited to show you more. 

Cooking for a Crowd Tips and Tricks

Crowd Tips and Tricks

I have been cooking for between 20-30 college students once a week for two and a half years.  I have learned a lot during this time.  I will be publishing recipes for some of the meals that I have made through the years.  During this time, I was either pregnant or had a baby or infant, so the recipes don’t take too much work typically, and they are always cost effective.  

So many people need to cook for a lot of people for various reasons, church potlucks or picnics, baby showers, bridal showers or big football games.  Over the years I have learned some tricks that can help anyone that is cooking for a crowd. These aren’t necessarily gourmet meals, but they feed hungry college students well. They also use real ingredients. Here are my top six tips and tricks (I started with only five and then thought of a sixth).

1.  Smaller plates.  I only buy 8 and 1/2 inch plates when I am cooking for a crowd. No matter the size of the plate, people fill it up.  If you buy bigger plates,  people will take more food and you may run out of food (a huge fear of mine).  If you buy the 8 and 1/2 inch plates, they are still big enough for people to get full from one plate full, but not to run out of food.  Everyone knows when they come to my house to keep your plate if you want more (as mentioned above I mostly feed college guys who don’t cook much).  For the most part, there are always seconds available to those who want it. 

2. Big metal catering trays.  I use disposable ones.  If you are cooking for more than 20 people, you can fit a huge amount of food (enough to feed 30) in those huge trays.  You can find them at Smart and Final and Party City if you have them in your city.  If you are cooking for 20 or less, you can use two 9×13 pyrex baking dishes.  That will be plenty of food. 

3.  Iceberg lettuce for salad.  Now, this wouldn’t be good for a baby shower or bridal shower necessarily (where nicer food is typically used) but for a church event, football game or feeding college students, this is a cheap and great way to feed people.  For $1.99 at Costco or Smart and Final you can get a 3lb bag which is more than enough for 30 people when serving a main dish.  

4.  Filling side.  I always tried to have a side of bread or rice to compliment the main dish and the salad.  This way people will be more full as they are eating.  My three favorites are corn bread, white rice and garlic bread from the store (with all the tasty, fattening garlic butter on them, it is just delicious).  

5. Crock Pots.  I have two crock pots, this has helped me immeasurably as I cook.  I can have the sides cooking in the crock pots when the main dish is on the stove or in the oven.  I have also cooked the main dish in crock pots (especially when it is hot outside) so that the house doesn’t get too hot.  As long as you are organized enough to get it started early enough, a crock pot or two is super helpful. 

6.  A griddle.  If you are making breakfast for a crowd (pancakes or french toast) a griddle is the best option.  It stays the same exact temperature and you end up with the same colored pancakes throughout the entire cooking process unlike on a stove where the temperature changes so often. They will be the same color the entire time you cook.  I also use this for sandwiches when I do grilled cheese for a crowd, the sandwiches turn out perfectly for the entire cooking time.  

So, those are my tips and tricks.  I hope that they help you as you start cooking for 20-30 people.  All the recipes that I post can also be used for smaller portions or family dinners, you may just have to do some math.   

Battle of the Breakfast Casserole Results: The Savory Winners

Battle of the Breakfast Casseroles Banner

 

The savory recipes are ones that I make often.  Every third week I need to bring a casserole to my mom’s group at church and so I always pick one of these.  

My Favorite: Overnight Sausage, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Overnight Sausage Egg and Cheese Breakfast

 

I think that my favorite part of this casserole is the base of the English Muffins, it is so easy to use the muffins and they are usually pretty inexpensive.  You can switch out the sausage, for bacon or the italian breakfast sausage with great results.  Also, this casserole isn’t as bready as other casseroles.

A close second to:  Overnight Croissant Breakfast Casserole

Croissant Casserole

This one was so close to getting first place, but I don’t usually have access to croissants, and I do have access to English Muffins, otherwise, this would have gotten first place.  I LOVED the flakiness of this casserole.  It felt so light and fluffy and the ham used was so good.  This would be perfect for Christmas morning.  You must try this, now, go and get the ingredients and make it tonight for tomorrow morning. I don’t think that you will be sad about it. 

 

Battle of the Breakfast Casserole Results: The Sweet Winners

Battle of the Breakfast Casseroles Banner

 

So, after preparing all of these different breakfast casseroles, I will tell you my favorite sweet recipes and why I love them.  Each of them were different and I 

BEST SWEET RECIPE:

Overnight Fluffy Coffee Cake

Fluffy Overnight Coffee Cake

I make this all of the time.  I love this recipe.  I actually make it without letting it set overnight, I make it, put the topping on it and then stick it in the oven.  I make this for my mom’s group that I go to and it seems to be well liked by everyone.  It is so easy and it makes your house smell delicious.  My husband is always sad when I don’t leave him a piece because the house smells so good.  

My second place sweet: Overnight Cinnamon Baked French Toast

Baked French Toast Casserole

This is just another favorite and is so delicious with just some butter and syrup.  This is just a great casserole, it is buttery and cinnamony and delicious. 

HONORABLE MENTION: The blueberry syrup from the Blueberry French Toast recipe.  This syrup is to die for.  Let me just tell you, this syrup on waffles is amazing, with blueberries in each waffle crevice, it makes a normal waffle so tasty.