Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Give Thanks

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 A heart of thankfulness is the sweetest kind of heart.  I realize this more fully every year as I reflect on all I truly have to thank God for in my life.
 
This year specifically, I am most thankful for...
 
My family and friends.
I have made new friends this year and have had the blessing of strengthening my bonds with my family!  Each moment, each letter, each word exchanged between a friend or a family member means the world to me.  It makes me thankful to be alive to have been blessed with the people that have been put into my life.  I have had the joy of becoming friends with many of you!  You don't know just how much your sweet comments and emails make me smile.  I am so amazed at how such sweet friends have come into my life through blogging!  I would have never imagined I could "meet" girls and ladies who bless my heart and encourage me so much.
 
Simple, sweet parts of life.
I have, fittingly, been reminded recently of how thankful I should be for the seemingly simple, small joys in life... how much I take delight in them.  Talking to my Grandma, laughing with my family, working on projects I love, the way my bible feels, the joy of baking, walking in the rain, the ability to see, and the nostalgic things of life- even the sheer joyful, cozy feeling I get just walking through the craft store.  And the larger things that are easy to take fore granted... shelter, food, and a warm home on these cold days.

God.
I think being humbled by God's love is something that never ends.  Without Him, I would have absolutely nothing at all to be thankful for.  So I am so thankful for the Lord in my life!   I am thankful for every lesson He teaches me, that He listens to my prayers, for every beautiful thing He created that He lovingly lets us enjoy, and every gift He gives that He never had to. 


I am reminded every day of how important it is to have a thankful heart!!  This, in itself, is humbling.  A thankful heart brings the truest sense of joy.



"The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let
 the thankful heart sweep through the day and,
as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every
hour, some heavenly blessings!"
-Henry Ward Beecher
 
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"A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the
parent of all other virtues."
-Cicero




Wishing you the most blessed day of thankfulness, joy, and quality time with those you love!!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Faithful Friday!

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Throughout all my childhood, something I was told that always made me feel close to God was that he was not just my Savior... but that he was my friend!
My parents would remind me of that when we would pray and just at random times since before I can remember.  There is no better friend in the world than God.  There is no better person that you can tell your struggles or heartaches to or to share things about your day with.
 
It is something I have been thinking about more again, as well as appreciating those reminders growing up.  When you see God as your best friend, your life will change... and your faith will change.  It will reach the deepest level of love.
 
 
I am so thankful for God, and the incredible gift that He gives us, that even we can have a deep friendship with Him.
 
 
 
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Faithful Fridays are hosted on Joy's lovely blog, Doodlebug.  At the link, you can read her faith-inspiring posts and all of her beautiful blog and link up to Faithful Fridays!
 
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I know it doesn't have anything to do with Faithful Friday, but I wanted to mention one thing about the last post I wrote about the wonderful chocolate cake recipe I tried.

I realized today that I forgot to include the baking time and temperature to bake the cake!  Haha, I guess that's kind of an important thing to mention.  I apologize for forgetting to write that.

It is included now, though, and can be found here!




I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!  And if your weather is anything as cold and wet as it is here this weekend (I love it!), then stay warm!
 
Blessings to you!
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rich, Wonderful Chocolate Cake!


A couple of weekends ago, I just got this itch to make a chocolate cake.
I was so excited to have the time to try a
 new recipe from scratch!

I wanted to share this recipe, because it is the best homemade chocolate cake I have ever
had in my life, if not the best chocolate cake I have ever had, period.
  With it being the best time of year- baking season!- I think this is
a cake that you could make to wow everyone at a dinner or in your family.
It is decadent, rich, and wonderful.
And perhaps most of all, everyone that tried it told me it was the
moistest chocolate cake they had tasted.  I also thought it had the most flavor
of any chocolate cake I have eaten before.
The best parts... The cake kept getting moister and sweeter with each
day that it sat, and it was an easy recipe to make.
It was WELL worth my time in the kitchen!
 It was a joy to get it out of the oven and see that rich
chocolate color and then to taste the scrumptious flavor.
.          .          .
 

The recipe was simple to follow and I am so happy I stumbled upon it.
You can find it here on Add a Pinch, and right here:

"The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever"

Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa (I used Nestle)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Frosting

1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), softened
1 cup cocoa
5 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder


Pour into one 13x9 or two smaller cake pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.
And here are the instructions!

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
  2. For the cake:
  3. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  4. Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  5. Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  7. Frost cake with Chocolate Frosting.
  8. For the Chocolate Frosting:
  9. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  10. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  11. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  12. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  13. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
A couple of side notes:
-If you don't have espresso powder on hand, the cake will still turn out great.
I didn't have any and was afraid it might alter the flavor, but it was still wonderful.
I think that the espresso powder would just amp up the chocolatey-ness even more.
-If my frosting looks a little runnier than it maybe should have been, that
is because I started making the frosting and halfway through I realized I didn't
have enough confectioner's sugar.  So I had to try to balance out the taste of all of
the cocoa I had put in with something, so I used milk a little heavy-handedly.
It still tasted great- it just made it a little harder to frost with.
-I would recommend cutting the frosting recipe measurements in half.
I cut them down and had a whole lot left over still.


  
If you decide to try this cake, I hope you enjoy it! 
If you love a good, rich, moist chocolate cake, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
It is definitely my go-to chocolate cake recipe now, and I hope to make another
one soon because we're already having withdrawals, haha!
I recommend this cake recipe whole-heartedly.
Happy baking! And happy baking season!
Blessings!




Saturday, November 16, 2013

Faithful Friday!

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I believe that when it comes to dreams and what we want to do with our lives, the idea
of surrendering those dreams to anyone is an awful thought.  Sometimes people
have regrets because they feel like they have let go of their dreams in order to do something
else they didn't necessarily want to do with our life.
 
This quote by Joseph Campbell reminded me of how amazing it is that
God is the one person who we can fully give every bit of our lives to... we can let
go of our own dreams, in a sense, because we can have faith that whatever
we have to give up will surely be replaced with something SO much better that he
has planned for us!
 
This is something that is a huge part of my faith and something I don't forget,
but a reminder of it gives me such a feeling of comfort and warmth inside,
to know in my heart that God always has something waiting for us that
is better than anything we could achieve in our lives without him working.
He even says "For I know the plans I have for you" (Jeremiah 29:11), and how amazing to
know our Creator's promise that he has known the plan for each of our lives before
we were even born and will carry it out!
 
Remember that when things feel like they are falling apart or our
circumstances force us to change our plans or let go of a dream we have for
awhile, the Lord is always at work in your life.
 
 
 
 
I hope you have a blessed and wonderful weekend!!
 
 
 
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Faithful Fridays are hosted by sweet Joy at her lovely blog, Doodlebug!
Click the link to visit her blog and read her Faithful Fridays post this week, as well
as even link up yourself :)



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chats on the Farmhouse Porch #7

I love simple joys... and today, one of them is having a chance to join in on the lovely Farmhouse Chats on Patrice's porch! Even if I am a day late, I still love joining in.
You can pull up a nice old rockin' chair or take a seat on the porch swing and join in by clicking here to visit Ms. Patrice at Everyday Ruralty.  You can read all of the chats of the ladies joining in, as well as her own chat!


Here are the questions for this week...

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1.  Would you rather sit in front of a fireplace with a roaring fire, soak in a lovely bath, or spend free time on your computer?
There is not much else cozier than a fireplace to me... being in front of a crackling fire on a freezing cold, rainy day is such a sweet feeling.  I think because I look at everything as nostalgic, a lovely, cozy, warm fireplace also reminds me of reading "Little House on the Prairie" when they have their little cabin in the Big Woods and a warm fire they gather around inside.  A fireplace also makes me think of how it feels to fall asleep in front of one, snuggled under blankets on a winter day.  Not to mention the memories that are made when families gather around a the hearth together.


2.  Milk chocolate or dark chocolate?
Milk chocolate.  I know dark chocolate is healthier for you- at least that's what I've heard- but Milk chocolate is just rich and wonderful to me.  I have a weakness for Kit Kat and Reese's and anything with chocolate in it.  But to tell you the truth, a lot of people say that they are addicted to chocolate or couldn't live without it.  But I think that more than that, something I would miss way more if it were ever gone would be cheese, haha!  On Trisha Yearwood's cooking show, she once said that, and I couldn't agree more.  Maybe it's a Southern thing ;)


3.  Have you ever tried a recipe from a blog or Pinterest?

The Enchanting Rose
I have tried recipes from blogs, and have several recipes from both blogs and from Pinterest that are sort of lined up and that I am hoping to try soon!  I think when you love to bake, you just have so many amazing looking recipes you can't wait to try that they just keep piling up as you find them.  That's a good problem, though.  The recipes blogging ladies I read share all look delicious.  One in particular I have tried most recently from a blog was from my dear friend, Stephanie, posted on her blog The Enchanted Rose.  It was for Strawberry-Peach Cobbler.  It was absolutely wonderful!
If you would like to try the recipe, you can click the link above, and I know you will not be disappointed!


4.  Do you have a guest room?  If not, do you have a spare room that you use for something other than a bedroom (sewing room, office, craft area, etc)?
We do have a small guest room.  It is also used as a sewing room at the same time.  And sometimes just a room to go snuggle up and watch movies in because I think it's one of the coziest rooms in our house. 

5.  Is your hair curly, straight, or something in between?
I guess I would call it wavy.  Sometimes I wish it were either really curly or really straight, but it's kind of stuck in between.


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I enjoyed another visit to the Farmhouse Porch!



I hope you are having a blessed week.

Blessings!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Faithful Friday: Kindness

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Don't you love getting a feeling that makes your heart so happy as a result of someone's kindness to you?  I think it is one of the sweetest feelings of life... to be kind to others and to have someone be kind to you. 
 
I don't think there is one person alive who can truthfully say that they have not been blessed by kindness.  Everyone is blessed by kindness because it makes the world go 'round... more than that, it makes a difference in someone's day, or even their life.  I think about that sometimes and it has a profound effect on my heart, compelling me to not just be kind when I think to be, but to always think of every possible situation I could possibly show kindness in.  I also think often of how random strangers have smiled at me or said something kind to me on a rough day, and they will never know what a difference that made to me.  How much it meant.
 
Kindness is so important in our lives in terms of brightening the lives of those around us as much as we can, because you never know what battles another person may be going through.  Your smile or kind comment to them may be the only thing that gets them through their day.
 
But kindness is also important to our faith...
We cannot be truly godly people if we are unkind to others.  As God's children, we are all meant to lend a helping hand to each other and show kindness and a loving heart to one another! 
I know it's from the eighties, but you have probably heard the song "We Are the World" (the original) at some point... if not, you can click the link to listen, because it's a beautiful song with beautiful lyrics.  And what's more beautiful- the message of it.
Nothing we gain ourselves can be so wonderful and meaningful as showing love through kindness to each person we meet, or even those we don't meet, maybe even someone we connect with from across the world.
It is easy to think that it won't matter if we aren't always kind, because you will never again see most of the people you meet within a day, but how lovely it would be to make a goal to show so much kindness to those we come across that we add even the smallest bit of joy to their day.  And think of what a testament it is to our faith when someone notices our kind spirit and attitude.
 
Meaningful to me, also, is the message in this Proverb of the example of kindness we should follow...
"She opens her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." -31:26
Reading this compels me to remember to go out of my way to be kind... to be like the woman mentioned here.
 
 
Mark Twain's quote above is so beautiful.
It reminds me of when I meet someone for the first time, or maybe I just hear someone's voice before I even see them.  It is so interesting, and beautiful, how you can hear kindness in a voice.  Or you can see kindness in their eyes.  Maybe that should be the goal of all of us... to be kind with more than just a smile or word, but instead in a way that even someone who cannot even see you can feel the warmth of your heart!
 
Make kindness not just an act you do; make it a way of life.... or, as it was for the Dalai Lama, make it your religion.
 
I am writing about kindness because the kindness of others towards me made a difference in my week... it was a great reminder to me to remember that difference and be thankful for each blessing of kindness shown toward me and to reciprocate it always.
 
 
As lovers of God with hearts geared toward faith, kindness is the only way to live, and absolutely the best way.
 
 
 
 
I hope you have a blessed day!
And a beautiful weekend.
 
 
Blessings!!
 
 
 
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Joy hosts Faithful Fridays on her blog, Doodlebug.  You can read her lovely posts and visit her blog, here!
                                                            
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Touches of Autumn

 I hope you are having a joyful Tuesday evening!!
This week is going by fast already.  There has been a crisper feel to the air the
past couple of days, so maybe that has added some joy and is making the days go quickly.
It has also started getting dark so early!  I always think that is a wierd feeling for it
to suddenly get dark well before six o'clock.
But I love it, because it means that Winter is on it's way :)

This weekend was a  relaxing one that I enjoyed very much.
I had some time to finish one of the last Autumn crafts I wanted to do,
and thought I would share it, as well as some of the Fall decor we put up
in our home for the season.

The crafts I finished up this weekend was this sign.
I had so much fun sitting down and painting it...
and adding fun touches was relaxing and an enjoyable way to spend
a few hours on a lovely weekend.

I always love projects that bring you joy as you do them.
I had that child-like feeling of joy as I sat down at the kitchen table and
set out my paints- shades of cranberry, plum,
pumpkin (that was actually the name
 of it- how fitting for Fall!), and red.
And of course I couldn't resist adding a few touches of glitter, and
 a lovely orange ribbon to hang it outside near our front door.

                                                                                      
                                                                






That was the craft I worked on this weekend,
but for awhile we have been adding touches, or "elements" of Fall
throughout the house.
Here are a few of them...
 A simple bow, dipped in glitter, added to our wreath.
(Do you see the spider who decided he would make a cameo in my photo? hehe)


Another simple and fun project to do was this natural wreath that we hung
at the eaves of the ceiling above the fireplace.
I got a set of faux leaves in pretty, bright colors and
glued them individually in sort of a ring around the wreath.
I got to use the ever-popular burnt orange glitter to put on the ends of
the twigs on the wreath, as well as some of this beautiful copper colored
dusting powder that I brushed on...


It's amazing how just a little bit of the glitter and powder pick up
the light.  You can see it from far away when it catches the light.

We were also amazed at how much taller the wall looked with the wreath put up
so high.  It is neat to see how putting up different things in your house
can make something look differently in a way you never thought of before.



For the mantel and hearth, I had so much fun pulling out a lot of the
decorations from last year and putting them up again.
Seeing it again for the first time gave me such a sweet, cozy feeling, making the
 realization of Fall being here a little bit more real.


Something new this year is this bouquet.  We found faux Mums and different flowers
with such pretty Autumn shades of deep purple and red.
Then I just used some ribbon to dress it up a little.

It is something so small, but these are one of my favorite things on the fireplace.
Picking these up from under our tree out front and painting them
was my Momma's idea.  I love how they turned out, and I love
decorating with things in nature.
Since then, we have collected many more acorns and filled a basket with them
to bring some more nature inside.


                                                                       
This candle was an old one we have had out for awhile- it is getting to the bottom, but
it smells so amazing, so I hope it's lasts awhile longer.
I had fun adding a little something to the plain glass candle jar.
I cut a small strip of burlap and wrapped it around and hot glued it in back.
Then I wrapped some of the orange ribbon around the bottom,
and added a leaf to the front.
I love how it looks when it's burning as the light shines through.


Fall is such a cozy, beautiful season to decorate for... I know it is a blessing to have
the added feel of Autumn when I look around the house.



What is your favorite way to decorate for Fall?




I hope y'all had a lovely weekend and are having
a beautiful week so far!







Friday, November 1, 2013

Faithful Friday!

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Happy Friday to you!
I hope you are having a blessed evening!  I cannot believe today was the first day of November.
 
Today I wanted to share something I saw recently that is simply said, but such a beautiful thought.  The words above mean so much to me in my walk with God.  I truly believe that if we make the effort each day to invite the Lord into our hearts- keep our face turned to Him- and live in a way that He is not just a small part of our life, but where He IS our life, then we will have a life of pure and true joy.
 
From this, I got this... Flowers turn toward the sun and soak up it's rays.  They soak up the sun and bask in it and in turn, they grow and bloom beautifully!  In the same way, keeping our faces and our minds turned toward God always, means that we will bloom and grow beautifully just the same!   And we will grow in the best way, growing towards God. Just as flowers lean towards the sun. There is nothing better than keeping ourselves turned towards Him- is He not the best source of light there is?  Even better than the sun as we soak up God's rays of love and so much more He graciously shines our way, enriching our life and our walk more than we could ever know.
 
 
With today being the first day of November, thankfulness has been on my mind just with the changing of the calendars... and seeing this lovely reminder is something I am thankful for.
 
 
 
 
God Bless You!
I  hope y'all have a wonderful weekend ♥
 
 
 
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Faithful Fridays are hosted by Joy at her blog, Doodlebug!  Click here to visit and read her wonderful posts and blog or link up to Faithful Fridays yourself.

 
 
 
 

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