Tuesday, December 31, 2013

White Texas Sheet Cake

Over the holidays I made a cake called White Texas Sheet Cake.  I knew I would probably like it because it has almond flavoring in it.  It did not disappoint, in fact it's became one of my favorite recipes now!

My friend over at  Country Girl Ramblings is the source of this delish recipe.  If you click on her blog name it will take you straight to the recipe!  Be sure to follow her blog, it's the kind thing to do! She's a great gal!

I do not have a photo of this lovely cake, but I needed to put one in the post, it's highly recommended so this is the one I chose! :)  She's my kid that loves to cook as well!

Happy baking! 
Julie


Monday, December 30, 2013

8 Weeks & My 2014 Word!

The year is winding down and I'm sure I should review 2013, but I have a hard time thinking back past December. So since the new year is almost upon us, I find myself looking to it instead.

I realized recently that as of January 1,  I am heading into the downhill run of the probation period of my career change. Eight weeks to be exact to reach what's been set forth.

Yep! Can you believe I have only eight weeks to "fill my contract" or I get to look for different work?  I know, that sounds harsh and possibly a little negative, but it is what it is.  Honestly I am not out to be the largest producer, I'd just like to stay ahead of the game to keep the worry at bay, and take care of people.   Those of you that know me personally know that serving others is part of my character, not the almighty dollar!

I'm at a good point right now, breaking even so to speak.  But things slowed down over the holidays, which is expected, but a new year means "let's get serious and get down to business"!  At times I find myself excited and ready to hit the ground running, other times I find myself deep in the worry of darkness that keeps me from even putting 
my tennis shoes on for a walk!  


God has provided some wonderful opportunities for me in the past four months tho, some real "hello remember I'm here to take care of you moments" and "where is your faith in me moments".  I'm not sure where this path will go, but I do know that I am feeling more "comfortable" with this new gig more often than not.  I just wish it was easier to get in front of people, to get them to allow me to share my knowledge, practice my trade, and possibly help them out.  Just by spending an hour with me, it helps me immensely, even if they choose not to write insurance with me.

So comes the second part of this post.......


I read somewhere that people sometimes choose a word each year to focus on, instead of resolutions or in addition to them.  The word BRAVE keeps coming to mind.  When I think of this word usually a couple things occur in my mind.

First..... this.....

http://movies.disney.com/brave

Probably because I have a five year old in the house!


Second.... this song...... you can pick which version you like....



From the bible.......

Deuteronomy 31:6
"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you."

I think I found my word for 2014.

BRAVE

I feel being brave will aid me in many avenues of my life, not just my professional one.  The path that lies ahead will take bravery and courage.

What would your word be?  Ponder for a moment and see what comes to mind.  If you feel like sharing, please comment below or on our Facebook page.  I'd love to know!

Thanks for stopping by!
Have a blessed 2014!
Julie
\

PS.
I came home today to find this in my mailbox.
I have the BEST friends! :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Christmas Joys- Photo version

I needed to take a few minutes and document Christmas on this blog.
 It is a personal journey and recollection as well!
I no longer have time or energy to create scrapbooks, 
so this blog will aid us in the future.  
Also, I plan at the end of the year turning my posts into a book. 
Alittle gift to myself! :)  I still like to look through "photo albums".


I hope your holiday season was a blessed one!
Please remember, 
the photos are the property of me and my family.  
Please do not use without permission!  
Thanks so much!







Thanks for stopping by~!
Julie


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Connections & Other Random Humor & Thoughts

This weekend has been spent caring for a sick child, baking for a church bake sale, watching winter become reality outside with whiteness all around, and a trip to a new store with friends.

One of the friends that I traveled to the little store with,  Momma 3B, I became connected with through our Monday night bible studies. (That's her new code name for the blog, I hope she likes it!)  Our husband's families grew up together, and attended the same church their entire lives, so they have known each other for some time. Momma 3B and I did the normal "hello" and greets at church events or when we would see one another in town.  You know, nothing really super connected !  We did this gig for ten years and then that bible study forced us to become acquainted!  Ok that was alittle harsh, it didn't force us, it's more like it opened the flood gates to create this awesomeness of connection between two people!

In reality, our trip to the lovely little store called CONNECTED, well it was our first outing together as friends.  I KNOW! It took how long Momma 3B???  I'm now sitting here wondering why we take so long to move forward in our relationship, at this rate we will be close to 80 and just scheduling lunch dates and coffee breaks!  We gotta work on the connection part gal! 

Momma 3B and I seem to be kindred spirits for various reasons. This post isn't really about our connection but another type. She was just part of the inspiration process for this post.

See, Momma 3B, she has three grown boys and I have two grown daughters. (The poor gal has no pink in her life, but that DNA produces  awfully cute boys and grand-boys!)  By the way, that's how her code name was created!  Also her last name begins with a B.  It's just funny isn't it???? :) My humor is at an all time high here at 5:30 am!  If she doesn't love it, oh well, she's stuck with it, it's her new code name! I think we should all have code names, don't you? :)

This post is going to be WAY too long for "blog post rules" if I keep wondering off topic.  Sorry people, I miss just expressing myself randomly.  Stick with me here!

It's about parenting and how much my older children have been ever present on my mind in the past days. 
We know that raising children isn't easy, and it isn't always fun.  I began my parenting career at a young age, so my education in the matter was quite limited.  So I like to call TKS my practice run, can any of you relate?  I mean let's be serious, I didn't know squat at 17 years old except the basics and how to love the heck out of that beautiful bundle of cuteness!  She is still a beautiful bundle of cuteness by the way, here let me show you!
She produces cute bundles of joys too - but I won't post one..... yet!





















I could tell you all the things I did wrong as a parent with my children in this post but that isn't the main point and would be a waste of time.

What I want to tell you today is create a connection with your children.  Even if they are 37 or 10 or 5, find a connection if you do not have one.

Sit on the floor with the little one and play, forget the dishes and come play!

Call or text them throughout the week, if even to say " I love you" and "how are you today?"

Write in a journal for them, but don't give it to them until you are gone or they are adults.  About events in their life, how much you love them, things you found interesting about them.

Write to them in handwritten notes, small words will become treasures when days gone by.

Spend time with them, doing something they enjoy.

I don't do all of these all the time but I wanted to share ideas with you.

Find a connection, never let go, at least not all the way.  Imagine a rope, like in tug of war, your child at the end, you at the other.  As the years go by, the distance gets farther between you. But they will "tug" and need you again, they will allow you to help, but just remember to "release" once again. It's just as important to be there when they tug and to know when to let go.

If you are a new parent or young parent, gather the strength within to love and discipline and allow them to grow while in your home. Allow  them to try new things, so you can help them when a lesson needs to be learned.  It isn't easy but you feel more helpful and less of a failure of a parent when your children "test the waters" while still at home verses out in this big world of unknowns!  Praying often and having a foundation built on God has immensely aided me during both these times.

I feel I realized too late that my job was to raise them and teach them to function on on their own someday.  I wish someone would have explained that to me when I was 17. That's my bit of advice, cause at that young age, I didn't think that far ahead in life and I thought they'd always be with me.  They are but just in a different type of way. My kids know in their hearts I did my best, and that if they needed me, I would be there.

Whether that meant paying a ridiculous price for a plane ticket, traveling in snow packed roads, holding a bedpan for them to puke in while they delivered a precious human, or if they needed to know how much water to put in the pan of hot dogs to cook them.

My children have some of my attributes, both the positive and negative ones.  I can already see how PV has some of them as well.  So now, depending on the one they are expressing, I either smile with pride or cringe with a pang of guilt.

But either way, I feel fortunate that GOD entrusted them to me.  Each of my daughters are blessings and I hope they know how much they mean to me.

During this holiday season, whether you are the parent or the child, reach out to the other, even if it's been a very long time, and make a CONNECTION.

Thanks for sticking with me through this long and random and therapeutic blog post! :)
Julie






Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Beauty in the Food Pantry


Today I was fortunate enough to see our community in action 
and it brought an overwhelming feeling to my chest! 

Let me back up for a moment, I currently serve on my church's Board of Missions.  
For the past month, we collected donations for our local food bank. 




I must say, I felt very proud this morning when I was loading my car with all the donations!  
Way to go Immanuel!  
(I'm thinking we need to do this more than once per year!)



If you recall from this my post, Spring Brings Friends,  I had the guests bring non-perishable food items to be donated to this food bank as well.  
The food we collected, I didn't personally deliver to the food bank, my husband did for me. 
 So I had no idea what to do or expect when I went today!

Needless to say, when I arrived the parking lot was pretty full of vehicles.  There was a group of people standing at the front door, and a HUGE line of children at the other door! 
As I waited for them to open, another pickup showed up with the pickup bed full of donations.
(Thanks to these guys for sticking around and helping me unload mine!)
It backed up to the door where the children had went in.  
So I made my way over there, as I knew it must be the drop off area!

As I stepped inside I saw shelves of food, a conveyor belt, and people, and alot of CHILDREN! 
The children brought donations as well and they began to SING Christmas carols.
It was very moving for me.  In those few short moments it made quite the impact on me.

Volunteers smiling.
Sweet souls of young ones singing their hearts out.
Joy upon those spending their free time to help others.
Kindness was all around in that room, it just burst with it!
From those that volunteered, to those who donated food, 
to those little children who sang with glee!

I was standing there waiting and I realized I had a smile upon my face.
The sight in those few moments was......

It looked beautiful to me.
It felt beautiful to me.
It was beautiful.

So this holiday season, if you feel inspired, give to your local food bank.
Through food, monetary, or time donation.
I'm sure you will have an impact and receive one as well!

Thanks for stopping by!
Julie



Monday, December 16, 2013

Photo Joys!

Since I need to finish our Christmas cards still tonight and the kiddo is bed and the hubs is at a farmer meeting, I'm going to blog a few photos of joy from my past couple weeks! 
Not much time for words today! Enjoy!

It was treat making time for the holidays at our home this past weekend!

She is so serious about her decorating!




Finished product & pretty gal!

PV & I preparing for our treat making Saturday!  See the awesome aprons!  My prayer partner for my ladies group at church got us them for my Christmas gift!  THEY ARE AWESOME!

Milton even joined in the fun!

Our California Kid, Kassidy joined us via Skype to for our annual gingerbread house decorating!

Two Cuties!


Thanks for stopping by!
Julie

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Old Memories/New Memories 2013

As I stated in this post, we began our family gatherings this weekend.  It actually was a low key and less than normal food gathering. It was quite enjoyable. I'm so glad we were able to spend time with family on Saturday.  

My cousin has done a grand job of putting together our family history and uses Ancestry.com.  We are lucky to have her in our family for sure!

Growing up I didn't hear much about my Dad's side of the family.  Yesterday I was lucky enough to sit with him at the computer , showing him photos from his youth, and he proceeded to tell me things.  It was a lovely time. He didn't grow up in the best atmosphere at times,  (he is 74 years old) and it was just refreshing to hear what he had to say.  He smiled at times and I could see him as a child as he spoke.  

One of the best parts for me was this......



















PV came and sat on my lap, without being asked, to listen to Grandpa talk and look at photos.  I wish I had a video of him explaining how his Dad used this "combine" to harvest wheat to PV.  It was a precious memory to me.  It just felt good.



















This photo of his mother ,as a little girl , made me think of my middle daughter and my brother's daughter.   They both have dark brown eyes and dark hair.  Grandmother is lovely just as those two girls are as well!
























I may not remember all the things Dad said, but I will remember this little chunk of time with him forever.  It's precious to me.

Being with family brings memories.  I was a witness once again of my husband being a really good Dad.
Milton and my brother in law headed out to see if they could get any pheasant!  It was Milton's lucky day because he came back with a bird! Look at that smile!






















Here's the part about him being a really good Dad.  Reality and hands on is usually the best way of teaching I think.  Milton is teaching his daughter about the pheasant, and encouraging her to feel the feather etc.  I didn't realize it until I got ready to post this photo.  But she's smiling.  It's not about the dead bird, it's about the fact that her Dad took the time to teach her, to value her.  To add to her life about so many things in as little as five minutes.  




















Hug your loved ones, take lots of photos, listen to the stories and create new memories for your family to carry on.  Time is too short!  Enjoy your time with family this holiday season!


Thanks for stopping by!
Julie






Saturday, December 7, 2013

Coconut, Almond, & Cocoa

Today began our family holiday gatherings for the season!
I got off kinda easy this go around, I only had to make desserts.
I wasn't in the mood for pie after last weekend, so I made two cakes.
 One of them I have already blogged about , it's one of my favorites.
My sisters remember having this particular cake growing up but usually only at Christmas.
Due to it was "more expensive" to make so they say.


The other one is a Coconut Cream Cake.
My husband and Dad love coconut cream pie,
so I figured this was a good fit for the day.
I meant to take a photo after I put the Cool Whip on top, but I forgot.
OOPS!

Here's the recipe though!

Coconut Cream Cake

1 pkg. Duncan Hines Coconut Cake
I can never find this, so I just use white cake mix
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 (8oz) container Cool whip
Shredded coconut

Prepare the cake mix as directed on the box. Bake as the package indicates. When the cake is done, remove from the oven. While it is still warm, put holes all over the cake using the end of a wooden spoon and be careful not to go all the way through the cake.
Mix the coconut milk & sweetened condensed milk together an pour over the top of the cake.
Next top with cool whip and sprinkle with coconut.
NOTE: I do not put cool whip on entire cake unless I think it will all be ate in one day.
Keep refrigerated.
Coconut milk can be found in the Asian food section of grocery store.

The last recipe I made was one that we were lucky enough to try new last weekend.
When we attended the Dyck Arboretum Luminaries. 
They provided Almond Tea for a warm drink and we fell in love with it.
I was very excited when they actually had printouts of the recipe.
Here's the recipe of goodness!


Almond Tea
                                     3 tsp. Instant Tea                                   
1 quart water
                            5 cups very hot water                             
1 tsp. Vanilla flavor
                     1 (12 oz) frozen lemonade                      
1 tsp Almond flavor
 3/4 cup sugar

Dissolve tea in hot water. Mix rest of ingredients. Stir in tea.  
May be served hot or cold.  Makes 14-18 servings (1/2 cup)

And because you need at least one photo in each blog post, 
I decided to wish you all a Merry Christmas!
Does this say holiday spirit or what??? :) LOL





Photography by 5 year old and yes the angel is crooked, the tree is not!

May your day be bright & merry!
Julie


PS: It felt great to be back in the kitchen and to be able to blog about it!
Oh how I miss it! :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas in the Country

I was pretty excited when I got up this morning and checked my email messages!

Here is why!

Recently I signed up to participate in......


Two fabulous bloggers created a Christmas swamp among bloggers 
that advocate for agriculture.  
It's very cool and I am so glad I was able to join in!
Although it doesn't seem I've had time or much to write about the farm,
 it's still in my heart daily!


What I am asking from you, my dear readers, is to help me figure out what prize 
to send my new Christmas Ag Friend!  
It's a secret, so I can't tell you about her yet!
That will come in January!

I'd like the gift to represent me and our family and then I will include something I think she will enjoy.  I will figure this out after checking out her blog!

My request from you!
From reading my blog, 
what do you think would be something that would
represent us as a farm family?

I want to send something local as well, 
what is your favorite "local" gift or locally made business/product?
I'd like to send several small items, it is going to someone outside Kansas!
So how can I represent the great state of Kansas?

Share your ideas and in advance, thanks for your help!


Have a super great day!
Julie

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Beauty in the Winter

We had a great day with the family and we ended the evening with us 3 creating a new memory.  We decided to visit Dyck Arboretum since they were having a Luminary Walk.  PV didn't really want to go, but once we saw all the beautiful lights she changed her mind.  She totally enjoyed the entire event!

The weather was lovely for November, 
but I think even if it was chillier all would have enjoyed it just the same! 
 I think this may be a new (annual) tradition for our family.  
The photos do not do it justice at all.  






After the walk, they served hot chocolate,  almond hot tea and cookies. 
 So we gathered ours up and heading to the next buildings where they were having ballerinas perform sections of the Nutcracker.  
The inside was full, so we just pulled up a concrete sidewalk, 
and watched through the large and lovely glass windows.  
PV was mesmorized by the ballerinas, it was adorable to watch her and the performers. 

This event was well worth the $12.00 we spent for us 
to get in and it also aides in Arboretum to maintain the gardens.  
This is a beautiful place in any season and its very tranquil.  
My sister actually got married at this location 
and it was so nice in the month of September.  



Today we are heading after church, to get our Christmas tree, 
and decorate the house.  Good memories being made this time of year! 
We are blessed to have so many advantages in this life. 
 I hope you and your family have many blessings as well!


Thanks for stopping by!

Julie