Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 23

23. I am grateful for a few things today. One is for how I felt my day was extended and am totally amazed at all that I accomplished today. I am so grateful for days like these when I can get in bed without feeling super rushed or that I forgot to do something important.

The second thing that I am grateful for is that even in a grocery store there's grace to be found. Even when it involves twin toddlers, mommy looking on the shelves and not paying attention, and...wait for it... an 18-count carton of eggs. Yep. That's right. Eggs, all over the floor, our cart, dripping down our cans, and on my kids clothes and hands.. thank goodness also for being in the aisle where there were sanitizing hand wipes! The rest of that story along with some photos to come after Thanksgiving.

I get to host tomorrow! Oh and, we've upped our numbers for Thanksgiving. Eleven adults and eight children! Woo hoo! I'll also post pics of our Thanksgiving feast once I wake up from my food coma. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 20

20. This might be a strange one but, I am thankful for pain. For how God uses pain in our lives to help us trust him better. Pain also helps me appreciate the times in my life when I experience joy and delight!

21. I am grateful for new days. The chance to have a fresh start. The reminder that God's mercies are new every morning. What a gift!

22. I am thankful for Panera and some time to myself!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 19

19. I am thankful to be hosting Thanksgiving this year, at our house! We will have 9 adults and 7 kids, ages 4 years old to 6 weeks. It is going to be exciting, to be sure! I'll for sure post pics on what we end up having, it's going to be epic and delicious!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 18

18. Everyday, I am so thankful that Jesus Christ is always the same. He never changes, never fails, never leaves us. And while my life will shift and change and take on new form and challenges, He will always be my constant, my Rock, and my Fortress that is strong and can never be moved.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 16 and 17

16. I am so grateful for new life! I just became an Aunt to another precious little life! My brother Samuel and wife Stephanie just welcomed their fourth kiddo into this world: baby boy Max Van Rainey!! He is so precious and has already stolen my heart with his little fingers and handsome face! I can't wait to meet him! (p.s. Doesn't Stephanie look awesome for having just delivered!? Gorgeous!)



17. I am thankful for girls' night out with one of my best friends, Janine! She is taking me out for my b'day where we will consume delicious sushi, wine, and maybe even a movie!! Can't wait!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Days 13, 14, and 15

13. I am grateful for laughter! What a gift and delight to my heart when I hear my husband, kids, or myself giggling with joy! Music and medicine to my soul.

14. I am thankful for change. Specifically, the change in seasons. I really am grateful that I live in a place where I can see the seasons change dramatically from one to the next. It's so amazing to watch. Almost as if I've never seen it before or maybe that means my memory is horrible.

15. I am so grateful for the gift of family. And when I say that, I think that I have really been thinking lately about how having such a great family means I am not alone in this world. And it would just really be no fun to be alone. So.. I am glad that I am not alone, selfishly. :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 12

12. MOPS. Seriously, how wonderful is that? I love my Mops group and all those great and wonderful moms who I get to spend time with a few times a month! It is such a great group of women, all figuring out this thing together called parenting. I really am grateful for the steering team, the small group leaders, the members, the new moms, and the place in which we get to meet! It's so wonderful and uplifting in lots of different ways!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 11

11. I am thankful for weekends away from life, my kids, most responsibilities, deadlines, alarm clocks, and the like. Reconnecting with my husband and having uninterrupted time together to talk through important matters, run errands together, and veg out on the couch after a long day of doing nothing. :) What a blessing to my soul! I already feel recharged and it's only been 24 hours! Bliss!!

Soo here's to sleeping in tomorrow morning!! Cheers!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 10

10. My church! Ahh, so nice! I am so glad that we have such an awesome church to attend! And that we can go there without any fear or worries like I know some people do in other countries. How nice is that?! And something that I know I take for granted a lot of times.

Our church, Flatirons Community Church, is just so great. I love how authentic it is, how we are one big melting pot of people, backgrounds, and ideas, and our staff are just so great! Thanks to our church for being so wonderful and such a great place to go to for spiritual encouragement and refreshment of my soul!

You can check it out here!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 9

9. Wow, we live in a pretty great house! I am super happy and thankful for the gem of a home that we live in. We found it in a foreclosure market, with all the upper cabinets missing, the appliances ripped out, holes punched into the walls, and the basement railing completely knocked out of where it should have been. It is so nice and has so much room and space for our family! I am so grateful!!

Here's to being grateful for a roof over our heads, heating in the winter, and air conditioning in the summer!! I am so blessed!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pears on pizza?

Yes.. it's so deliciously tasty, you just might have to go out and make this for dinner tonight. I first had it when I was at my friend Rachael's house for a Pampered Chef cooking show. We made the pizza, with it's crispy sweet bacon on top, and I was drooling over the one piece that I did get. We should have made two pizzas because I could have eaten that entire thing!! So yum!

Do make it soon and savor over the sweet pears, crispy bacon, and cream cheese and scallion sauce. It's that good!

Pear and Bacon Pizza

1/2 package of bacon
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 pear
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 12-inch pizza crust
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Honey (optional, but why would you skip this part?)

In a small prep bowl, mix the brown sugar and chili powder. Place a cooling rack inside a jelly roll pan and line with bacon. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture on top of bacon. Bake in a 400 degree oven until crispy and delicious, about 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 450. Slice pears into thin slices and toss with lemon juice, set aside. Finely chop green onions and then mix with cream cheese and black pepper. Spread over crust.

Chop bacon and add to crust. Arrange pear slices over the bacon, then add the pecans and top with feta cheese. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cheese begins to melt and brown. Remove pizza and sprinkle with basil. Drizzle honey only if you desire.

It makes 10-12 appetizer servings and about 3 dinner servings. So make a few if you're serving a crowd!!

Day 8

8. Today I am thankful for moments of peace and quiet. They are often few and far between now that I'm a mom of twin toddlers, but when I do have a moment to myself I savor it for all its worth.
And when my peace and quiet is interrupted, I hope that I am able to be grateful for what I did have instead of wishing for more or having regrets.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 7

7. Today I am so grateful for the beauty that I get to see each and every day living here in Colorado. The mountains are majestic and gorgeous! They are always changing and in the fall you might see snow in the morning and then it's mostly gone by the late afternoon.



This is what we saw from our front yard on Halloween night, just before taking the girls trick or treating. So stunning and even better than this picture shows.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 6 of Gratitude

6. Today I want to tell you a little bit about Hillary. The one who got this whole thing started in my head by giving me the idea! So first off, thanks to Hillary for the great idea! I am loving it a bunch!



Hillary is a delight. She is honorable and authentic, warm and caring, heartfelt and lovely. She is just wonderful.

You see, I not only get to be her mentor but I also get the privilege of having her pour love, attention, and time into our little girls. She has such a great heart for them. So loving, so sweet, and at times more consistent in making sure they do their sign language than I am! She lives in our basement and we get to have in our lives every day which is just plain fun!

Hillary has graced our lives with far more than just babysitting. She has brought so much more to our world through her wonderful desire and ability to dream up great ways of celebrating life. One great story of how she celebrates so well is when summer had ended. She told us both that we had to celebrate the end of summer and then the beginning of fall! SO, that very night, the last night of summer, the three of us went outside, made s'mores in our fire pit, and talked about our favorite memories of the summer! We even brought out a speaker and played summer inspired tunes like The Beach Boys! It was so much fun and such a great memory maker!

The following morning, she and I baked up some apple cinnamon scones and drank hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick! Then we had a wreath hanging ceremony where we hung up our Fall wreath on the front door! So great! It was so much fun and so simple to do! I absolutely loved it!





Here she is! The woman of the day! Hillary made me a birthday cake complete with 31 blazing candles!! AND, she cleaned out my car on top of keeping the girls for the afternoon and evening while my mom and I celebrated my birthday with shopping! She's amazing!

Today, I am supremely grateful for ALL the things you do for us, Hillary! Thank you so much for being such a beautiful light in our lives and for caring for us so well and so much! We love you tons!

Trick or Treat!!

I realize it's now been almost a week since we all went door to door with our kids decked out in costumes and consumed way too much sugar in one sitting, but I just had to share some pics of the girls.

This year they went as cupcakes!! And yes, they are as yummy as they look!!

Posing for pics in front of our house. With Tank and Lambchop in the ranks.

I went as the Baker, with my apron as my costume. I forgot to grab Jacob's apron before we left, which I'm sure he was grateful for. :) Oh and the girls are holding mini fake pumpkins.





LOVING the candy choices! A sucker in Piper's mouth, another in her right hand, and a candy bar in her left! Options, people! It's all about options! Lily also loves having several choices. :) All they ate that night were those little mini tootsie pop suckers and some m&m's.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 5 of being grateful

5. This glorious day just so happens to be the twins 19 month birthday! And SO... I am choosing them as what I am thankful for on this day! Of course, I am thankful for them every day of their lives!!

Piper: She is such a peanut and spunky little thing! Her hair is straight as a stick and long enough for the cutest pig tails! The other day I dressed her in a little animal print dress and put her hair in pig tails and Jacob exclaimed that she looked like the little girl from Flintstones! Pebbles!



Piper is both a snuggle bug and wiggle worm!! She loves to snuggle and then loves to sit up and move on to something else. Her smile is beautiful and I love to tickle her just so I can stare at it! Her eyes are still as blue as ever and she is constantly looking around and on the go.



She loves her sweet pea blanket when she sleeps or rides in the car and is obsessed with books! When I'm driving somewhere I'll glance in the rear-view mirror and see her holding a book on her lap like she's reading the paper! It's so great to see! I absolutely love it!



One of the things I have been doing with her lately when I put them down at night is stick my face up next to the rails of her crib and ask for a kiss. She always giggles like she's about to be tickled and then eventually comes over and pushes her face up next to mine and I kiss her all over!! Then I reach in and tickle her like crazy!



Lily: Oh my sweet Lily Boo!! What a precious little girl who has the cutest waddle when she walks around the house! It is hysterical! She has stolen our hearts with her warm smile and soft cheeks! She also loves to cuddle, especially when she has just woken up from her nap. It's the best!!



Lily is obsessed with blankets! She loves anything soft and that is capable of being wrapped behind her back and over her head. She'll even pull my scarf off my neck and pull it behind her so that she can snuggle with me. It's really so sweet. One of the reasons she likes blankets is because her dad will take her on a ride in one of the blankets from our living room. It's one of those thick red ones that she'll pull off the couch and drag over to her Daddy, all the while saying "Ooooh Oooooh Ooooh Ooooh!"



She has the warmest and rosiest cheeks ever! And those in addition to her little rosebud mouth makes her the most beautiful Lily ever! While her sister has straight hair, Lily has curls! I'm told they come from my mom's mother. I can also put her hair in pig tails and since she has some curl, her tails curl up in every direction! It's really fun how different she is from Piper!



When we are riding in the car, Lily also likes to read and she sometimes likes to steal things from Piper. One time, I looked back and they were both touching feet across their seats! It was really enjoyable to watch and listen to since they were both giggling incessantly. Speaking of feet, if it were up to Lily, she would never wear shoes or socks longer than 5 seconds. She loves to put them on and then take them off! The great thing about tights are that they can't be pulled off like socks! Haha! Another thing she loves to do is cross her ankles when she's in her carseat or high chair.



And when it's bedtime, I have a little tradition with Lily as well. She lays down on her back and puts her feet up in the air and then I pull her blanket up in the air and lay it over her so that she can kick it off! Or, I'll stick my fingers through the holes and tickle her neck which makes her giggle with delight.

I love my twin girls!! They fill my heart with joy and happiness! And I am just so blessed and so thankful for them today and every day!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gratitude: day 4

On this day 4 of gratitude, I am so grateful for the abilities that God gave me in the kitchen! I really love to do both cooking and baking! It is such a great thing and I feel like I get so much accomplished when I make a meal that turns out really well. I feel such pride in myself and the best part is seeing those I love the most enjoying something that I worked hard on.

And speaking of cooking, I have to share this recipe with everyone! Even though we have snow on the ground, I still consider it to be Autumn and therefore am making and eating lots of soup these days! Which reminds me, I need to whip up a big batch for the weekend.

Ok, so here's the recipe I made last week:

Butternut Squash Soup
(from The Kitchen, in Boulder) An excellent restaurant with delish food and wine!

Notes:
This can be made with any winter squash, which usually start coming in around October. You’ll need about 1 1/2 pounds of peeled and chopped flesh, so when buying a squash, weigh it and imagine that you will lose a small percentage of the weight.

This recipe involves a very basic technique that can be used for almost any hardy vegetable; just changing the seasoning as desired. We puree the soup, but you can also serve it unblended. Serve piping hot with a glug of olive oil, grated cheese, or just straight up … but you really do need some crusty bread with butter.


Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper
1 medium butternut squash
A few grates of fresh nutmeg
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water
1 cup heavy cream

Instructions:

1. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter; add onion, garlic, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, and a couple of turns of the pepper mill. Cover and leave to sweat for about 15 minutes (you want the onions to be almost melted, without coloring). Add squash and nutmeg, cover again, and sweat for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (This really brings out the flavors of the vegetables and all the sugars.)

2. Increase heat to medium-high and add stock or water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until everything is very soft.

3. Transfer to a food processor or blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree to a smooth soup. Return to pot and add cream; heat through. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.


I doubled the recipe when I made it so that I could eat more and maybe put some in the freezer for later. I think I froze a quart of it and we ate the rest. :) It's just that good and so simple.

Here are some pictures from when I made it last week. Even the twins helped!







Piper and Lily are both becoming more interested in what we do in the kitchen. So I pulled up chairs for them and had them put the squash cubes in a big bowl for me while I chopped the rest! The twins really had fun digging their hands in the cubes!

Here is everything simmering away and smelling wonderful. Squash, thyme, garlic, onions, butter.. yum!

Don't you just love the color of this soup! It's so pretty! The soup being pureed in my food processor. You could also use an immersion blender.

Mixing in the cream.

And the final product! A bowl full of yumminess! I drizzled some olive oil, a grate of parmesan, and even some extra nutmeg. But seriously, just eat it straight up with some bread. That's the best way. It's so good on its own that you don't even need all the extras on top. Just bread and butter on the side.

Now, go make it and tell me what you thought of it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Focusing on Gratitude

I was at coffee a few days ago with an exceptional young woman who I am mentoring. Her name is Hillary and we were talking about gratitude as we drove home. She gave me a fabulous idea.

Write one thing I am thankful for each day for the month of November. Hmmm.. I think I can do that! Well, truthfully I know that I can do that it's just making sure I don't forget to share those things here!

So I know I am a few days behind so I'll do three things to kick things off with a bang!

Gratitude ensues!

1. I am most eternally grateful for Jesus! How He saved my soul from eternal separation from Him and how He loves me unconditionally at all times! I am so grateful!!

2. I am definitely grateful for the one man in my life who knows me better than anyone else and continues to commit himself to me every day of his life! Thank you, Jacob, for being faithful and true, for loving me so incredibly well, and for making my life so much fun!

And one for today...
3. SNOW! I love the snow! I am enjoying these big snowfalls we've had recently. They make everything so pretty and sparkly! I just love it and am so glad that we get to experience it!