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Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve Night

As I write, it is a drizzly, cozy New Year's Eve night.  I am smelling our new Peppermint Dream candle (heavenly!), happily watching the classic Twilight Zone marathon, hearing the series of crackling noises of the fireworks in the distance, and...

it is almost 2013!

I'm not sure of the times around the world, but I know that on the East Coast it is actually already the new year!!  Here in this part of the South, though, we have about fifty minutes until we ring in the new year.
I am excited for new beginnings and all the things that come with the start of a new year...

Hanging new and fresh calendars!

Starting a brand new devotional!

Learning new and wonderful things!

Enjoying another year of blessings and time with family, and building friendships!

Planning new trips and adventures with my family for the new year!

Having a new year of opportunity to find encouragements, encourage others, and give of myself!

...and so much more that I am too excited to think of :)


I have been thinking a lot about what should be my new year's resolution... I guess it is one of those things you start to give thought to prior to the actual coming of a new year.  I have never been the type of person to make a resolution about losing twenty pounds or dieting or making it to a destination or anything completely specific.
This year I am making a sort of specific resolution, though, and another that is not.
~My first is to be healthier all around- walk more often, eat more fruits and vegetables, take my vitamins, and take care of myself.
~My second and most important is to grow in my walk with the Lord.  And going along with that, I would like to accomplish the one specific goal of reading the entire bible by the end of 2013.

What is your new year's resolution?


I am so thankful for this year and all the blessings and joys that I have experienced over the past twelve months, and am so excited to see what 2013 brings! 
A fresh, new year is, I think, one of the most exciting times because it marks the start of a mystery... and in one way it can be hard to not know what lies ahead, but so much more than that is the excitement in that unknown of wondering how God is going to work in your life this year!


I wish you the most WONDERFUL new year!!  If this past year was filled with amazing moments then I hope you have more in the new year.  If this past year was filled with heartache or struggles, then I pray your new year is the opposite.  May it be blessed and bring you joys and everything good in your faith, family, and your life as a whole.


Blessings!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Southern White Cake!

A few nights ago, I wrote that I would be making a dessert I was really excited about.
Today I want to share that dessert and the recipe so anyone who would like to taste some heaven on a plate can have the opportunity.
Yes, this cake is, as they say "finger lickin'" good,
or in this case "plate" or "fork lickin'" :)
I had so much fun making it.  It turned out fluffy and delicious and I can definitely say
this is the tastiest cake I have ever made and one of the absolute best I have ever had. 

I used the recipe from Southern Living magazine (the December/Holiday 2012 issue),
a recipe that won 'best cake'... and I can see why.


.         .         .

Mrs. Billett's White Cake
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
5 egg whites
~ Stir milk and vanilla together.  Beat butter in separate bowl
 on medium until creamy.
Add sugar gradually, beat until light and fluffy.
Sift together flour and baking powder and add to
butter mixture gradually, alternating with milk mixture.
Beat at low speed.
Beat eggs whites separately until stiff peaks can
be formed.  Fold into batter.
Pour into non-stick or sprayed circular pans.
*Bake at 350 degrees for around 20-23 minutes*

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 32 oz. pkg powdered sugar
6-7 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
 .          .         .


I did not use the frosting recipe due to a lack of ingredients, but I'm sure it is
wonderful and I hope to next time.
After frosting my cake completely, I had a little fun by making
a piping bag out of a plastic baggie and a tip I had and
got a little festive with a snowflake design.



~
 Happy baking!!
& thank you Mrs. Billett!



Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winter on the Coast

Last week I had the privilege of taking a trip to the coast... the Texas Coast in particular.
I made the trip to stay a few days with my Grandmother, my Mama's Mom, and I had a wonderful time. 
Shortly before I left to go stay with her, I had seen and read some things that were great reminders of the limited time we have with loved ones, especially older family, like our grandparents.  I was reminded of the pricelessness of spending time with those loved ones and how precious that is and when it was time to go back home I was thankful for the days we spent.
Throughout the trip we did a lot together and I just enjoyed the moments... just me and her.

My Grandma now lives up North and spends only her winters in the South, but she was born and raised here, down in the parts where you are taught how to be close with nature and do things like fish, hunt, ride horses, and go boating through the rivers and bayous from a very early age.  I think the fact that she grew up this way contributes to how fun and interesting she is... she always has an interesting story from her childhood or teenage days to tell me with a bit of wisdom in it and is always up for an adventure.
So during my stay- as it has always been- we were out in nature for most of my visit.  I enjoyed this very much, it was so relaxing.

We drove down to the Texas Coast from my town and the next morning and every morning after we woke up and went to walk on the beach.
This was quite heavenly.
On that first morning, I took these photos.  The sky was so beautiful and I just stood there thinking how amazing God is as I stared up at it.

The weather was chilly and windy so the sun was welcoming and warm as we walked along.  The tide was also way, way, way out so the water line actually started near the end of the pier... as I took photos and look around, though, this made for beautiful scenery even without the water as huge areas and swirls of water were left behind closer to us and the sky reflected in them.




That same morning on the opposite side of the pier, it was like looking at a scene from a different day.
Very few clouds.
Longer waterways left by the tide.
Endless sky.

My Grandma's dog, Penny, who seemed to enjoy the beach more than anyone.



Later that day we went kayaking after finding a waterway inlet to paddle through.


And did some fishing...
This is the only fish I caught that I kept because of size.
A nice black drum.

I like fishing, but I do feel bad for the fish so I caught him and then my Grandma took over from there to unhook him and that sort of thing. 


Another day, another lovely walk on the beach.

Aside from scenery of the water and skies, my favorite thing about going to any beach is the interesting things you find there.

Leftover sandcastles.

Hermit crabs and their trails.

Treasures washed up on the beach.
We were excited to find this, what looked to us like a tooth of some kind... perhaps a gator?



I love piers.  Walking underneath a pier is strangely neat. 

The sad things you find on the beach are the dead things like fish and birds... and butterflies.
I still thought this one was pretty and decided to photograph him.  Now he isn't just a poor dead butterfly, he's memorialized in my camera :) 

One morning after our walk, I went along with my Grandma  to visit some of her friends for a few minutes.  I had met the lady once before but had forgotten about her amazing paintings.  All around the house were paintings of nature and seascapes... living in a beach house fifty feet from the shore would definitely be inspiring.

Going home...
I remember reading a quote before that went something along the lines of it not being the destination that matters, but the journey.
That's how I feel about road trips.  I really believe that half the fun is getting there: the journey and all the things you see along the way.  Of course it's the same on the way back where you came from.

A neat old-fashioned drive-in in a small town.


We drove by so many beautiful, classic Southern homes.
Victorian, Plantation, and Colonial styles that sort of take you back in time, with rocking chairs on the front porch and beautiful columns and scroll work.
This one is a historic mansion I have admired over the years when we have made trips through this town.  It was built in 1883. I find historic homes so fascinating.

And best of all, miles and miles of wide open spaces...
clear open skies farther than can be seen, cattle, windmills, ranches, prairies.

 The land was dry from drought and cold weather, but I still found it scenic and lovely.  I have made trips across these roads to the coast and other places with my family my whole life, so no matter what they look like the roads and land always make me feel at home.

I'm love road trips!

& I'm thankful for the blessing of getting to spend time with my Grandmother and create new memories during my visit last week.


Hope everyone has had a wonderful week so far and had safe travels!!

Blessings!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Sending Prayers to Connecticut

As I write this, I have just listened to the President come out and speak about what happened in Connecticut today.  27 dead, 20 of them children between five and ten years old.

These are the things not possible to fully understand that, no matter how much faith and positivity you have in your life, just really make you wonder... why?  And what compels someone to do this?
Every life is so meaningful, but I'm sure so many across the country are wondering, why innocent little children? They were so young, only just beginning.

In these moments, I am reminded how easy it is to take advantage of just having your family alive and well. 
I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that the parents and families effected by this tragedy are feeling right now after losing their precious little angels, their brothers and sisters, their mothers and fathers who were teachers, and anyone who was a victim.

My heart is full of sorrow for them.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all those injured, the families, and the adults & children who were inside that school and miraculously survived but will never be the same after today.


God Bless them, their hearts, their minds...
May they find comfort to somehow get through.



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