Love Does Repost

LOVE… such an enormous word. We can all relate to it. But what does it really mean?
What is your definition of love? How do you express your love? How do you feel loved? Do you just think about love, or do you act in love? Love is action. Love is words. Love is irreplaceable. Love is impacting. Love is powerful. Love can build up. Love reaches inyo the depths. Love is simple. Love is worth it. Love is trust. Love is a force. Love changes things. “Love does”… Continue reading

Pumpkin Spice Latte and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I absolutely love the changing colors of the leaves on the trees in our town. The crisp evenings and cool mornings are ushering in the feelings of Fall-even though we had such a LOOONG Indian Summer. Brewing up a cup of coffee or tea for sipping along with a warm Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie makes a chilly afternoon or a cold night so much warmer. (Click the link to get the recipe and try the gluten free style or the original recipe) I absolutely LOVE pumpkin spice lattes but the ones you buy at the coffee shops are full of sugar and other ingredients that are not very healthy. So I decided to experiment with making one at home.IMG_5158

 

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

My first try I used
1 cup of my normal delicious House Blend Peet’s coffee
1/3 cup of hot and frothy almond milk
1/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon of honey
I brew my coffee in a French Press and froth my almond milk with a battery operated whip. Combine all ingredients and enjoy.

My next try I bought some Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spiced coffee grounds and brewed up a cup and added ⅓ cup of hot and frothy almond milk and a dash of cinnamon.

My third try was an idea inspired by Bekah who was brewing up a cup of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Rooibos herbal blend tea. I took one Starbucks Via instant coffee and poured 8 ounces of boiling hot water into my cup and placed one tea bag in my cup as well. After about 5 minutes, I removed the tea bag, added 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice and 1/3 cup hot almond milk. Yummy, the best by far.

Today was the ultimate….IMG_5162
Take 1 cup of your very favorite strong coffee and heat in the microwave until it is VERY HOT!!
Add one Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Rooibos herbal blend tea bag and let steep for 5 minutes.
Heat ⅓ cup of almond coconut milk and froth with whip. Stir in almond coconut milk, ½ teaspoon honey or agave and ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. DELICIOUS!!!

Bake up a batch of Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, (try the gluten free option) and invite a friend over for some fun Fall fellowship.IMG_5161

What special drink do you like to sip on with some homemade cookies when the weather gets chilly?

Kerry Signature48

Last Minute Halloween

Are you a Last Minute Mom? Well, if you are or maybe these last few weeks have just been really busy, Rachel reminded and encouraged us before that what you do is ENOUGH! And, today’s post has some helpful tips and solutions if you may be a “last minute mom” when it comes to Halloween! Don’t have your candy and don’t want to brave the crazy crowds? We have a solution for you! Haven’t been able to find that perfect costume and don’t feel like getting the leftovers at the costume stores? Look no further! AMAZON has everything and now you can even have them send you your candy for Halloween! Do you have Amazon Prime?? Your orders will get to you in 2 days! Make your order TODAY and you will get it in time for your Halloween party, trick-or-treat time, or church harvest festival! Check out what they have below- candy, costumes for everyone, and more!

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GO GIANTS! Dressing up as your favorite players can be fun!

Halloween Candy Shop Amazon – Trick or Treat Favorites in Grocery Women’s Costumes Shop Amazon – Women’s Halloween Costumes Men’s Costumes Shop Amazon – Men’s Halloween Costumes Baby Costumes Shop Amazon – Baby Halloween Costumes Bekah Signature48

Creative Gift Giving

Creative Gift Giving

Our family LOVES to celebrate! Holidays, birthdays, every chance we get to gather and rejoice together. Gift giving is one of my passions. I love to make homemade presents and I like to bless my children and grand children with gifts that are special and personal to each of them. But I am committed to being a good steward of our family’s resources and I must remember that I need to honor my adult children by NOT continually smothering their children (my grand children) with gifts. As our family grows I am also realizing that it is impractical to jump on the consumerism band wagon and BUY, BUY, BUY every new toy or gadget or fashion item that hits the racks or shelves. Plus, kids actually DO spell LOVE…..T..I..M..E.. So, I have been thinking about CREATIVE gift giving ideas.

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Gifts that create memories and keep on giving….

Classes or lessons-music, dance, gymnastics, cooking, sewing, knitting, science, sports of any kind.
Tickets (to attend an event with the gift giver)- a sports game, a musical, a play, an art exhibit, a science exhibition
Memberships-to local zoo, Children’s museum, kid specific places like Pretend City, Aquarium
Books-the love of reading is the greatest gift you can give a child. You can start at local used book store or garage sales, investing in time tested treasures like Richard Scary books and fill in with other classics from your local bookstore
Personalized Items like sleeping bag, backpacks, purses for little girls, gym bags
Dress up clothes-go to thrift store or party stores after Halloween and stock up on great costumes
Cookbook and real cooking utensils, an apron and hat plus a coupon to cook with the gift giver
Pretend Play items- store, groceries, receipt book and cash register. Play money, gardening tools, tools and other pretend helping items like vacuum.
Puzzles
Sporting equipment

Piggy Bank
with incentive ideas how to make money by helping around the house or outside the house or other money making ideas.
Bug collecting Materials and equipment-
with a coupon to go on a bug collecting adventure.
Gardening tools, seed packets, 
and vegetables to plant and watch grow
Leap frog type learning toys
Games
Rain gear-boots, raincoat and umbrellas

This list is just the beginning of some creative ideas….I will continue to update this list as I brainstorm with my daughters.

What creative gift ideas have you used in your family?

Kerry Signature48

 

Alive

alive

With the focus of Halloween everywhere being on death, ghosts, frights, and darkness, my heart feels heavy. Its just too much darkness. So much of life this month is focused on evil and fear. No wonder our world struggles so much with depression, sadness, anger, and fear. I think this mentality and perspective seeps into how people interact with each other, holiday seasons, and peoples joy. It takes away from the hope we can have in a more purposeful and fulfilling life. Ironically, I have been studying Ephesians 2 lately which talks all about how we were once dead in our sin, and the opportunity and gift of being alive in Christ. It gives a great picture of what we once were: stuck, blind, lost, and dead. But Christ, out of his love for us, saved us in his grace so we could fully live. But we only fully live when we surrender to his purpose, his truth, and his way, but in that we receive riches, blessings, and immeasurably more than we can ever imagine. So why stay stuck? Why not take a step of faith? Wouldn’t you rather feel alive and free than lost and dead?

Ephesians 2:1-10 reads “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

You were dead. But you have the opportunity to be alive in Christ. Alive! Not just living, but fully alive. In verse four, the but is very important. But God. It is all about God. It is nothing that we did to bring us life. Everything alive is about Christ. His love. His riches. He raised us up. He shows his grace. His gift. His handiwork. And His plan. And we get to choose to be a part of all of that. I love the word incomparable.  It overwhelms me at the same time that gives me insight to how big and glorious God is.  He is incomparable. I can’t even understand, fathom, or grasp just how big he is. And he raised us up not just in heaven, but in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. What power and life we can have IN HIM.

Here are other verses on being alive in Christ:

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

John 10:10 “ The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Hebrews 13:5b-6 “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence,“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

Ephesians 3:17-20 “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within u”

John 15:8-11 “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Have you been living dead? How can you live ALIVE in Christ? Take a step of faith today. 

Bethany Signature48

Carrot Cake with a Healthy Fall Twist

It has only been a few months since I realized how delicious carrot cake is! It is quite an interesting concept- carrots in a cake?? Who ever thought of that!? Now, you may be wondering how carrot cake can have a “healthy” twist- “just because there are carrots in it doesn’t make it healthy.” Well, you would be absolutely right! But, what would you say if I told you this recipe takes out 75% of the oil amount- decreasing the calories by 1,560 and the fat amount by 126 grams- and replacing the oil with PUMPKIN! Yes, pumpkin! Not only does substituting the pumpkin for the oil make this cake a lot healthier, it also makes it so moist that I don’t think you will ever go back to using the full oil amount. Feeling a little iffy about this pumpkin switch…I guess you will just have to bake it (and eat it, of course) to believe it :) But, this has become my husband’s favorite dessert, even with knowing the healthy substitute!!

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What You Need:

3/4 Cup Brown Sugar

3/4 Cup Sugar

4 Eggs

2 Cups Flour

2 tsp Baking Soda

1 TBS Cinnamon

3/4 tsp Salt

1/4 cup Oil

1 cup + 1/4 cup Pumpkin

2 cups Grated Carrots

FROSTING

1/4 cup Butter

1/2 stick (1/2 cup) Cream Cheese

Scant 2 cups Powdered Sugar

1/2 tsp Vanilla

1 TBS Milk (Add more as needed)

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The How-To:

1. Add all the ingredients except for the carrots into a kitchen aid bowl and mix. [Take out your butter and cream cheese to soften for the frosting]

2. Grate carrots. [If you have a newer Kitchen Aid, I would highly recommend this grater attachment! We received it as a wedding gift and have loved using it for grating cheese, carrots and more! Check it out- it's pretty awesome! Click the photo below!]

3. “Fold” carrots – gently combine them to the batter without stirring or beating using a spatula.

4. Prepare a 9×13 glass pan. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40-45 minutes at 350º. At 40 minutes, check the cake using a knife to see if it is cooked all the way through. If the knife comes out clean, it should be done; if not, it needs a few more minutes.

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Making the Frosting…

Take your room temperature butter and cream cheese and add to the kitchen aid. Mix until very creamy. Add 1/2 of the powdered sugar and mix on low. Add the rest of the powdered sugar, as well as the vanilla and milk. The frosting should be thick so do not add so much milk that it becomes runny. Once the cake cools, you can add the frosting. If you are not going to frost the cake right away, place the frosting into the refrigerator.

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Enjoy! :)

[Recipe card will be added to this post shortly!]

Bekah Signature48

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkins are everywhere! Pumpkin yummy treats are everywhere as well. Since I absolutely LOVE everything FALL including everything that tastes or smells of pumpkin, I decided to write about a few of my new pumpkin obsessions. I started by baking a batch of Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies this week. I love to bake pumpkin scones and this season I am working on a Gluten Free Pumpkin Scone recipe. I made this one a few days ago and delivered a batch to a precious friend who is recovering from surgery. I will post the recipe I tried and modify it in the near future. (The first batch was a bit too crumbly)

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones

IngredientsIMG_4794
¾ cup gluten free oat flour
¾ cup almond meal flour
¼ cup coconut flour
2 cups oats
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice ( my favorite is from Trader Joe’s)
(you can use 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon cloves and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg)
1 Tablespoon butter softened
⅓ cup coconut oil melted
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 Tablespoon fresh grated orange rind
¾ cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar (to sprinkle on top of scones before you bake them)

Mix oat flour, almond meal, coconut flour, oats, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl. Combine butter and coconut oil and add to dry ingredients. Cut in until mixture is crumbly. Mix maple syrup, pumpkin, grated ginger, grated orange peel and egg together and fold into mixture in large bowl. Do not handle dough very much so scones will be light and not tough. Form into circles about 3 inch biscuit shape. Makes 8 or 9 scones. (You can also shape into a large 8-12 inch diameter by 2 inch high circle and cut into 8 triangular wedges.)IMG_4795 Place onto a cookie sheet, sprinkle tops of each scone with cinnamon sugar and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 12 minutes.IMG_4804Serve the scones with apple or pumpkin butter or jam and a cup of tea.

What is your favorite pumpkin baked good-muffin, bread, cookies, pie, cheesecake?

Kerry Signature48

 

All Things Pumpkin-Harvest Snacks

Sweet treats abound during this time of year, so I thought it would be nice to share an easy Harvest Snack Mix idea that is savory and sweet and fun to have around when friends stop by for a visit. I gathered up all the ingredients at my favorite store-Trader Joe’s. I mixed up a batch and already took a few bags full to friends.IMG_4797In a large bowl mix

4 cups of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin “O’s”
2 cups peanut butter pretzels
1 cup pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds
1 cup unsalted roasted almonds
2 cups pumpkin flavored granola
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries

Mix together in a bowl and serve.IMG_4798
I bought some clear treat bags and filled them with Harvest Snack Mix, tied them with an orange ribbon and took one bag to a party for a fun hostess gift and dropped the other one off as a surprise for a friend.IMG_4799 IMG_4801It is really nice to have a special treat ready to serve with very little preparation time needed. Take a trip to your local Trader Joe’s, Sprouts or try your local grocery store and see what fun pumpkin flavored snacks you can find to combine for your own creative version of Harvest Snack Mix.

Kerry Signature48

Tricky

halloween_pumpkin

I love celebrating holidays.  It is always a good excuse to throw a party, spend time with people, eat good food, dress up, or do something out of the ordinary. But every year, October rolls around and I am encountered with the same dilemma of how to really feel about halloween.  Growing up, we didn’t place a huge emphasis or celebration on the actual meaning of the holiday of halloween, but moreso getting to go to our church’s “harvest festival”, dress up, play games, and of course eat candy, (and yes we were one of the families to pass out tracks with candy which I always thought was realy cool). Now, as an adult, I wonder how I should really feel about the holiday as a whole. I love dressing up in costume. I love carving pumpkins. I always loved trick or treating and now I love when kids trick or treat at my house. Now I can’t move on without recognizing the materialistic view, many of us may have fallen into the category of spending too much on a costume, eating too much candy, or just enjoying the day a little too much. I am not just trying to make this an argument about whether halloween is good or bad or why or why not to do it. I am placing no judgement on how anyone spends their halloween. I am really just in the middle of it, trying to figure it all out. So if any of you have ever had questions about this, let’s be in this together, because it can be rather tricky.

I did a little research on the origin of halloween. Some people look to Halloween as the eve of All Saint’s Day on November 1 which is a tribute to Martin Luther, the Reformation, and the religious freedoms that were won in that time. It was once known as All Hollow’s Eve, the day before you honor all the Saints. And November 1 isn’t about just honoring the saints, but about remembering all the people that have been a part of your Christian journey, all the people that are walking through their adventure of faith, and those who make a difference for Christ. As Christianity spread through Europe, it was countered with pagan or more secular perspectives.

The Celtics celebrated Samhain. These people believed halloween and the time of year’s importance was the time of the season between the harvest, death, and onset of winter. It symbolized separating the living and the dead. This is where some of the evilness and darkness came in to overtake the holiday. At that time, the Christians sought to move the holiday to diminish the celebration of the pagan holiday, but instead it all started mixing together.  Spirits that were not properly “treated” through the celebrations started “tricking” through haunting, superstition, and mystery. Later on the trick or treat moved through culture to become more of a game. The Americans adopted Halloween in the 19th century, but took the bits and pieces they chose to celebrate. (There is much more information, this is just a brief synopsis).

The day does not have to be filled with darkness, superstition, and fear even though it feels like our world places a huge emphasis on the creepiness and wickedness of the holiday. Just last week I was driving past a house and I was horrified at what I saw. There were dismembered limbs, zombies, hate signs, and other outlandish things.  Does halloween give people an excuse to be completely out there? It doesn’t have to be a holiday that “worships satan or death or darkness”… but some people seem to think it gives them the liberty to do whatever they want. Just because there is evil in its history or part of the origin does not mean we should still bring the same amount of wickedness into it today. It also doesn’t mean that filling the day with darkness is the only way to celebrate the day. It is good to be against those things and stay far away from anything that treads through those dark and dreary places of halloween. You can avoid certain places while enjoying others.

As a Christian I want to keep figuring out how to be in the world but not of the world. (Romans 12:1-2) So for Halloween, I am not against it, I  just want to keep figuring out my role and how I can be a light in the darkness. The world is already a dark place. And halloween sometimes makes it feel a lot darker. But what a perfect opportunity to be a light. To be the hands and feet of Christ and to celebrate the Lord. The evil side of Halloween only contains the power we give it.  Living in the freedom of the day rather than the fear of Halloween allows the Lord to work. So as with everything else in our lives, give the day to the Lord. Find Him in it.  Enjoy the fun, let your kids be kids, talk about the holiday, don’t judge others, and eat some candy.

The good sides of halloween:

  • Meeting people in your neighborhood and community
  • Being together with other people
  • Dressing up as fun characters (it’s not every day you get to be in costume)
  • Plan something fun
  • Opportunity to talk to your kids about the holiday
  • Carving pumpkins and other crafts
  • Candy is yummy :)

But ultimately its up to you what you want to do with the holiday of Halloween. I am not trying to tell you what to do. I am just trying to get you to think.

Bethany Signature48