Friday, May 11, 2018

Ladies Spring Luncheon: Created For a Purpose

One of my very favorite annual events at our wonderful church
is the Ladies Spring Luncheon!
This year was especially delightful!!
We heard a brilliantly presented dramatization of the life
of Queen Esther by Patti Cavuto.
Her interpretation was on-point
and spoke to my heart while I'm in the middle of preparing
a huge project for Christmas that I know the Lord has called me to do.
 It's really intimidating.
Yet all along the way, the Lord has encouraged my heart to stay with it,
and brought people in my life (much like Queen Esther) to inspire
and support me in this huge undertaking!
"For such a time as this."

Our lunch was simply some of the best Italian food I have EVER had,
and I went home so incredibly happy from the deliciousness of it.

Several of our ladies and teen girls had tables set up to sell little lovlies
from their home-based businesses,
and my girls and I had such a wonderful morning together!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

April Shower

On a blustery Saturday in April, my two youngest girls
accompanied me to a lovely wedding shower for my June bride!
Abby helped her sick Mama make the chocolate covered strawberries
that morning, and after we had loaded them up, off we went!!

To see what we learned about making these, click here.

My bride and her family are special friends of the Duggar family,
and my bride's Mama asked Michelle Duggar to give a few thoughts
to her daughter on this special occasion.
Michelle really is an engaging, delightful, lovely person
who genuinely loves the Lord,
and she shared several marriage tips that she and her hubby compiled
that have been really helpful for them.

What a blessing to be reminded of these great truths:
Have a personal, daily Bible time, and then prayer time together as a couple.
Make time for dates, and put perfectionism aside.
Don't withhold praise, and never stop having a learning spirit.
Remember and use these words:
"I was wrong.  Will you forgive me?"

Prayer over the bride with Mrs. Duggar, the bride's Mama,
and the bride's future mother-in-law.

Aryn hit it off with Jordyn Duggar,
and now has a new friend!

Monday, May 7, 2018

A new twist on chocolate covered strawberries

A couple months ago, a dear friend at church asked me
for some ideas for her youngest daughter's wedding shower.
She explained that her daughter loved flowers and wanted
a garden-themed wedding.
My friend and I chatted about how to hang some things from the ceiling in the event room
and then she mentioned that she was going to incorporate
a "tea party" with the flowers and greenery.
She asked me if I could bring some small, fun finger food appropriate
for such an event, and after thinking about it for a couple days.
I asked her if I could bring chocolate covered strawberries.
She immediately loved that idea, and then texted me the picture below.
"What do you think about something like this?"  she asked.

I never attempted such a feat before,
but was intrigued by the challenge.
I told her I couldn't do ALL the strawberries like a teacup,
but I could certainly do several dozen to add to the decor.

I researched how to do chocolate covered strawberry tea cups,
brought the chocolate candy coating,
and started experimenting a couple weeks before the shower.

I learned several things about this project:

1.)  You must do this in STEPS.

2.)  You need several different colors of candy coating chocolate
warm and ready to pipe at the same time.
So that means some space is required for this as well.

3.)  For me, it worked to pipe all the handles first.
The thicker they are, the less likely they are to break as you
are adhering them to the covered strawberry.

4.)  If you look at the inspiration picture, you'll notice that the strawberries
are actually covered and then laid down on their sides to dry.
I tried experimenting to see if I could make the strawberry sit upright 
on its bottom like an actual teacup.
I cut off the bottom of the strawberry to give it a level bottom 
and then covered it in the candy coating.
I really loved how that turned out.

The only problem with that idea was this:
When you stand looking at the display, 
unless you have a very tall tiered tower,
and they are displayed at eye level,
you end up looking straight down at a bunch of green strawberry tops.
You can't see the pretty design until you pick it up!!

I did not love that.

So I decided to just cover them in the candy coating and lay them on their side
as in the inspiration picture.

5.)  You have to work fast!
The candy coating dries really quick!
I experimented with adding designs with shaped "sprinkles,"
but it was super hard to get them stuck on while the coating was still wet.
So I opted for piping on different designs, again, like
in the inspiration picture.

6.)  To adhere the handle to the hardened, dipped strawberry,
you simply pick up the handle and dip it slightly into warm, melted candy coating
and hold it onto the strawberry.
Again, it dries really quickly, so you don't need to put it into the refrigerator
to dry completely.
I tried that on experiment day, and found later it was unnecessary.
But, the handle does want to try melting and breaking on you
in the nanoseconds you are holding it onto the strawberry,
but the thicker the handle, the less likely that was to happen.

In the days just preceding the shower, I had been really struggling with
an upper respiratory infection of some sort.
The night before the shower, I had every intention of covering
all the strawberries and making the handles,
but I felt the worst that night than any previous night up to that point.
I even weighed my options of calling my friend and cancelling all together.
But one of my students from our homeschool co-op came over to help
my daughter and I on the morning of the shower.
We were able to bang out almost 80 strawberries in 2 hours, 
and I couldn't have been more delighted with their hard work, patience,
and calm spirits!!!

 My friend and her daughters were delighted with the finished product!!


Friday, May 4, 2018


Look who turned 16 years old recently!
The transformation this young man has gone through in the last
three years is nothing short of dramatic!!

It takes our (his parents's) breath away.

We would never be able to classify him as our "easy" child,
but I think that he has grown physically and become more pleasant socially
in these last few years more than ever before that.
Like at lightening speed!
More than making up some ground!

What awesome moments when folks from church or our neighborhood
tell us some lovely thing that he did for them or said to them.
I kinda peek over my shoulder to see if they are talking about my child!!

But God has been good in His life and we're starting to see some fruit
of the years of labor we've invested into him.
We love you, Grant,
and can't wait to see what God is preparing you for in the future!

Just the week before his birthday,
 Grant had the awesome opportunity to take his first ever flight
out of his home state to California.
What an adventure for him!
While there, the group he was with took an afternoon to visit
Six Flags Magic Mountain.
I was a little nervous for him because the last time he went to
Six Flags Over Texas (last summer),
he spent half the time losing his lunch.
To compound that problem, he wouldn't tell the adults he was with
when that was about to happen.
Surprise!!!!  (On the floorboard of the van)
So I quietly, discreetly prepped the adults he was traveling with
to not badger him about riding huge roller coasters if he was resistant!
While they were gone, I got these fun pictures from a Mom who kept an
eye on him for me!!!

Grant's birthday fell on Sunday this year,
 so we spent a good part of the day with our church family.
It was also "First Responder's Sunday" and we had
a delicious Bar-B-Que lunch served for our family as well as other
families of first responders.
Our minister of music is very special to our family
and he gave Grant just the most precious spoken blessing
to encourage Grant on his special day!!


The following evening our family took Grant and Ashlyn to dinner
to celebrate their milestone birthdays!

Happy Birthday, Grant!!!
We love you!!