Sunday, December 27, 2009

Do you know Jesus?

On December 11, 2009 my mom went home to Glory. It was a sudden and tragic death. Thank you so much for your outpouring of love during this extremely difficult time. Words escape me to express my gratitude. People that I didn't even know knew me showered my family with love. God truly used so many people to physically and emotionally surround us with His love.

I cannot fathom going through this dark and uncertain time without Him. He truly is the Light of my life. I pray tonight that each of you will know the Almighty Father and accept the gift of His son, Jesus Christ. Two thousand years ago God sent His Son to be born in a world full of pain, sin, sorrow, and death. Then God allowed His Son to die a painful death to pay for all the sins, past, present and future. Three days later Jesus Christ defeated death, arose and ascended into Heaven where He lives today. He did that for my mom, for you and for me.

If you died tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity? In the Bible, God's perfect and unblemished Word, Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." There is no magic, no one thing you need to have Everlasting life except to ask Jesus to come into your life, to come into your heart, to cleanse you of sin and forgive you. When you make room for Jesus in your life He will extend His grace and his mercy to you and He will forgive you for all of your sins and you can live in Heaven with Him for eternity. Grace is simply unmerited favor, God giving us a gift that we do not deserve. Mercy is God withholding punishment from us that we DO deserve.

I don't care where you've been or what you've done, God will forgive you if you ask Him to. The Bible says that God throws our sin into the bottom of the ocean and He can remove our sin from us "as far as the East is from the West." You do not know what your tomorrow brings. But God does and He is waiting for you to accept the gift of eternal life with Him through the acceptance of Jesus Christ.

If you want to know more about salvation and eternal life, please don't hesitate to email me at I don't have all the answers but I can help direct you to people who can help you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Goliath Cookies

Recipe card from Shabby Princess Holiday Recipe Collection. For personal use ONLY.

Today I'm baking The Thinker's favorite cookie, Goliath Cookies. Most people call these Monster Cookies but an acquaintance once called them Goliath Cookies and I liked that better so it stuck. If you know me in real life you've more than likely had these because they are my favorite cookie to make. I like to mix and match the colors of M&M's depending on the time of year. At Meijer you can buy single color candy coated chocolate bits for a fraction of the cost of buying single color M&M's. I have matched the M&M's to holiday colors, team colors, school colors, favorite colors. The possibilities are endless. And who doesn't like peanut butter, chocolate chips and M&M's? Except my friend Kenny D? And Mr. Steady? And possibly you? Not me. Not The Thinker or any of his brothers for that matter.

This recipe makes a TON, or 7 dozen. If you don't have a Kitchen Aid mixer I don't know what to tell you to do because this dough comes to the top of my mixing bowl.

Here is what you will need: eggs, butter*, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, peanut butter, baking soda, salt, oatmeal, semi-sweet chocolate chips, M&Ms. Notice there is no flour in this cookie. So it's great when you're out of flour. I don't know why you would be out of flour but happen to have a bag of M&Ms but hey, that's your business, not mine.

Okay, so I cheated and made several of these doughs on the same day. Can you tell I got into it and forgot to take pictures of the process? It's pretty straight forward, cream the wet, mix in the dry, add the goodies. Here is the finished dough. See how full the bowl is? It's kind of crazy when the mixer is on you have to keep shoving the dough down so it doesn't fall out of the bowl.

Shape into balls. Monster cookies were originally called such because they were huge cookies, the size of a saucer or bigger. I like to make my cookies normal size (1 inch or so) but I also wanted to give a big cookie to each of the children in The Thinker's class so I made one sheet of extra large cookies. I used an ice cream scoop and then cut each scoop in half. I had to increase the baking time for these larger ones. Once again, these were headed for the freezer so they are especially close on the sheet. Don't place yours that close to bake unless you want a mess and want to clean your oven.

That is a saucer the cookies are sitting on, it's quite a filling cookie with the peanut butter and oats in it.

*One day I got going way too fast and accidentally put 3 sticks of butter in these cookies. I was thinking a stick was 1/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup. I didn't realize it until I was dipping the cookies up and saw how pliable the dough was. Even though that batch ended up way too soft I decided I liked the softer texture and now add an extra 1/4 c. of butter for a total of 1 c. butter.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quaker Oats' Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Recipe card from Shabby Princess Holiday Recipe Collection. For personal use ONLY.

Today I'm baking Mr. Steady's favorite cookie, at Christmas or anytime - oatmeal raisin. I like to use Quaker Oats' Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies recipe. Let's begin. You will need butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, soda, cinnamon, salt, oats, and raisins.

Here is where I venture off the beaten path, though it's nothing I made up. I actually used to buy the raisins for baking and paid out the nose for them. But then a dear friend told me to "Stop doing that! Just pour boiling water over regular old raisins, you ninny!" Well, maybe she didn't call me a ninny. So put your raisins in a bowl, eat a few and then pour boiling water over them. This will plump them up. Just set the bowl aside until you're ready to use the raisins, drain them well and add to whatever you're making. Which, today, is cookies. On we trudge.

Add your sugars and butter together, cream well.

It should look similar to this when it's creamed well.

Add your eggs and vanilla. Have you ever measured your vanilla bottle cap? Mine is exactly one teaspoon.

Add your dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Am I the only one who can never remember whether it's seperate or separate or seperete?

Add the wet and dry mixtures, add your oats and (drained) raisins and you get this lovely lump of buttery, cinnamon-y, oat-y, raisin-y goodness.

Drop by rounded teaspoon onto a cookie sheet. Again, these were bound for the freezer so they are close together.

And when you bake you get buttery, cinnamon-y, oat-y, raisin-y goodness. Isn't that amazing?

The Quaker folks also say you can omit the cinnamon and replace the raisins with chocolate chips. But Mr. Steady thinks that would be just plain wrong. So go forth and do as you please. You were going to anyways, weren't you?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Sugarplums

Update: I prepared and scheduled this virtual cookie exchange ahead of time, obviously not knowing that my mom would pass away. I feel SO, SO blessed that my mom popped by the day I was making these. I had baked four cookies just to show the final product and was able to give her the last cookie. Thank you, God, for allowing me to create some warm final memories of my mom. Recipe card from Shabby Princess Holiday Recipe Collection. For personal use ONLY.
Today I'm baking Chocolate Cherry Sugarplums. I remember making loads of cookies with my mom when I was younger but this was always my favorite. A chocolate cookie with cherry cocoa frosting and a hidden gem of a maraschino cherry underneath. Let's get started.

Here are the ingredients you'll need for the cookie: flour, cocoa*, salt, baking soda, baking powder, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla.

*I am using black cocoa that a friend gave to me which is a dark chocolate. As a result my cookies will have a much deeper, richer color than if you use regular baking cocoa powder.
The ingredients you'll need for the frosting: maraschino cherries, semi-sweet chips, sweetened condensed milk.

Mix all of your dry ingredients together. I like to use a heavy hand with the salt when I make cookies because I like the salty finish paired with the sweet middle.

Cream your butter and sugar together. Add the vanilla and egg.

Gradually add your dry ingredients and you will end up with this luscious looking dough.

I like to freeze my cookie dough until I need it. If you want to do the same, scoop the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. You can put them really close together for this purpose. Put in the freezer for about 2-3 hours and then remove from the cookie sheet and place in a freezer ziptop bag. When it's time to bake you just pull the dough straight out of the freezer and add a few extra minutes of bake time, no need to thaw.

When you bake your cookies, after you put them in the oven you need to prepare your frosting. This is a frosting that goes on while the cookie and frosting are still warm so you need to kind of act quickly. Mix your chips and chocolate together. Microwave at 30 second intervals until the chocolate is melted. Then add your cherry juice and stir.

Admire your beautiful cookies as they come out of the oven.

Then press halved maraschino cherries into each one fresh out of the oven. Frost immediately.

Enjoy your cookies! I forgot to write on the card but this recipe only makes 30 cookies so you may or may not want to double the recipe.
It's YOUR turn, what are you baking today?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Virtual Cookie Exchange

I'm missing my cookie exchange with the ladies at church this year so I thought I'd do a Virtual Cookie Exchange with you!
All next week (December 13-19) I'll be sharing my family's favorite cookie recipes. Want to share yours too?
Here's how:
  • Go to Shabby Princess and pick up your own copy of the Holiday Recipe Collection.
  • Choose a recipe card and post a cookie recipe to your blog, include pictures if you'd like.
  • Grab my button on the right sidebar and include it somewhere on your post, along with a link to my blog.
  • The recipe cards are part of the Shabby Princess free Holiday Recipe Collection and are only for personal use. You MUST include the link to Shabby Princess and give them credit for the recipe card design.

    I will try to have a Mr. Linky up by Sunday morning. Come link up!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Win a HP TouchSmart

MckMama is giving away a HP TouchSmart. I hope you win and if you do and want to thank me, I accept gift cards of any denomination to Panera, Hobby Lobby and Target. Oh, who am I kidding, I just accept gift cards. Go enter.

Wordless Wednesday

Muffin Tin MondayTuesday Wednesday

Where has this week gone? I can't believe it's Wednesday already! Monday found us out and about so we picked up lunch at the mall. As a result, we had Muffin Tin Monday on Tuesday. The theme was Christmas Morning breakfast. When I was growing up it was a tradition to have buttermilk waffles and "rolly" sausage. When I married and had children of my own I discovered what a time suck making waffles two at a time is and realized it was taking precious time away from my family on Christmas morning. So we started having waffles and rolly sausage for supper on Tree Trimming night. I also added fried apples to the menu. Mr. Steady and I both enjoy the syrup from the apples on top of the waffle - yum, yum.
Here is The Entertainers Christmas Morning Breakfast Lunch in a Muffin Tin. Or something. Clockwise from the top left are sprinkles for his apples, half a sausage burrito (the closest thing I had to rolly sausage), syrup, melted peanut butter (I saw this idea on someone else's MTM when it was an apple theme, so smart), waffle sticks, and apple slices. The idea was to dip the waffle or apple in the peanut butter then dip in the sprinkles but of course, The Entertainer prefers to eat his sprinkles by licking his finger and dipping in. He thinks sprinkles are a food group all to themselves.
Surprisingly, he only left one apple slice. It was a hit.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Please Touch Me

As I was putting our children's nativity sets up I was reminded of how the disciples tried to keep the children away from Jesus and he chastised them saying "Let the little children come to me".

And also how the woman was healed just by the hem of Jesus' garment sweeping over her hand. The boys are receiving a new nativity set in their advent pouches this year. I want them to be able to touch and play with the characters, to know them and to know their part in the Greatest Gift of all time. Never mind the fact that the set is rarely altogether in the same place at the same time. Around about the time we find the shepherd Mary has run off. Maybe they hired the same travel agent as last year. The shepherd keeps ending up in my bed for some reason. But that's okay, they are being played with and getting better acquainted.

Do you have a children's nativity set?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I Can't Even Think of a Witty Title

I feel a pull to simplify. I can't explain it much more than that.

What do you have that you can live without? What do you have that you can't?

Let's think about what we can't live without. Jesus, grace, water, air, food. Anything else? Nope.

What? There's lots of things I don't want to live without. My husband, my children, books, my matching $0.99 thrift store buffet lamps, chai tea lattes...

Do I love them and/or have a great infatuation with them? Yes. Can I live without them? I don't want to but yes, I could.

In Beth Moore's study of Esther she posed this question to us:

"If _____________, then _________________"

You fill in your own blanks. If (my husband died), then ____________. If (my children died), then ________________. If (my house caught fire), then ______________. If (I quit/lost my job), then_____________. Then what?

Then God.

That's it. That's the answer. The only answer. Then God.

Then God will still be on the throne and Jesus Christ will still be King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

What if we moved to a smaller house? What if we moved somewhere that wasn't a house at all? What if we were homeless?

I look around my house and I think "Do I need that?" Not "does that make my life significantly easier and more comfortable?" but "do I need that?" For most of it the answer is no. And it's getting kind of scary the things I'm willing to part with.

I feel like I'm turning into a real cynic. Are you getting sick of this yet? Is this blog becoming a drag to read? When you need a downer do you come to read up on Towngirl?

If so, then do NOT read Under the Overpass, The Hole in Our Gospel, or Same Kind of Different as Me. Especially not those. The Hole in Our Gospel is currently a $5 special at Family Christian bookstores. Buy one for every person you know.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Coming Clean

There is a trend among bloggers out there of airing your dirty laundry in an effort to help your fellow readers know that you are human and photoshop your pictures, crop out the junk, and only blog about things you want to talk about. So I thought I would jump on board and air my dirty laundry oven. I hadn't cleaned it since George W Bush was President. The first time. I jest but it was bad. Bad. I am the lazy cook who just sprinkles salt on the spills in the oven. And then leaves it. This was AFTER I had cleaned out all the big globs. And trust me, you have no idea how bad things look until you've taken a picture of it and put it on Photoshop. ANYWAYS, here is how to clean your oven without noxious fumes, high smelly temperatures, and very little elbow grease.
First sprinkle a generous layer of baking soda in the bottom of your oven. I started with 1 cup but before it was all said and done I used the whole box. But like I said, this was a nasty job. You probably only need 1 cup because you clean your oven often. After the soda is spread spritz it with water from a spray bottle. Then leave it for an hour or more. Every once in a while or whenever you remember, spray with water again. You want the soda moist but not wet. If it's wet, sprinkle more soda on. Keep spritzing with water for several hours (again, once an hour or two), you can even leave overnight like I did. You can even cook dinner with this mess in your oven like I did.
After about 8 hours or so, you can wipe the soda out. Now, I was going to be all technical and Google why this works so I could look smart. I did find something about the soda and carbon but the truth is. I don't care why it works. It's cheap, requires very little elbow grease and is easy. 'Nuff said? Good. Now do not go be all clever on me and try to scrub your oven clean after the first hour. It won't work. Ask me how I know. You have to let the soda do it's job.

Now here is what my oven looked like after I wiped all the soda out. Much better but I thought it could be even better. So I took my favorite tool in the world, my handy dandy Pampered Chef stone scraper thingy and applied the smallest amount of elbow grease to get the rest of the gunk out.

And ended up with this. Which I was pleased as punch with until I put my pictures on Photoshop and saw all the yellow gunk on the front walls. But hey, the cookies don't complain about dirty facilities and the nachos seemed satisfied with their accomodations as well so we'll call it a day.
There you go, fume free, cheap way to clean your oven.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009