Daffodils

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I picked these daffodils yesterday–they’ve just recently started blooming. They were growing by the side of the road, and I just had to pick some! I love the variety–some are bright yellow, some are soft yellow, and some are soft cream. My favorite, though, are the daffodils that have creamy petals with vivid orange centers.

Do you have daffodils in your garden and are they blooming yet?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener and Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

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Spring Colors

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I love the colors in this photo I took of hydrangeas, my favorite flower! I thought I’d call out some of these colors and make a spring color palette! These would be great colors to decorate with…or even create artwork or crafts with.

Hope you are enjoying the arrival of spring! :)

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

Beauty Seen

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Beauty seen is never lost, God’s colors all are fast.

JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER, American Writer, 1807-1892

The beautiful colors in God’s creation never cease to amaze me! I took this photo with my little 3GS iPhone…the pansies were much more stunning in real life, but this is a nice remembrance of what they looked like! Do you grow pansies in your yard?

Enjoy your weekend!

Wedding Flowers and Songs

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I took these flower pictures awhile ago…the daughter of a friend of mine had pretty bouquets in mason jars displayed at her wedding reception and I couldn’t resist taking pictures of one of them. As I was going through my photos last month, I came across these pictures and was going to post them, since it was June…because June is the most popular wedding month, right?

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Well, I discovered that is changing…July has been the most popular wedding month in recent years, followed by August, September and October. So it seemed appropriate to post these pictures in July!

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As I was thinking about some of the weddings I’ve been to, I remembered some songs I really liked that were sung at them.

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None of these songs I’m mentioning are very new, but they are beautiful songs–maybe you’ll remember some of these.  Click on the song titles if you want to listen to them.

God Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts; this was also recorded by Selah, and their version is more like what I heard at the wedding I went to.

The Prayer by Josh Groban, performed with Charlotte Church

I Will Be Here and Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman

Remember Me by Mark Schultz, performed with Joy Williams (sung when the bride and groom took communion)

What are some of your favorite wedding songs? What songs were sung at your wedding?

Sweet, Simple Things

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I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.

LAURA INGALLS WILDER

Wishing you a simply sweet Valentine’s Day!

Unfading Beauty

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“…the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit…is of great worth in God’s sight.”

I PETER 3:4 (TNIV)

Today’s New International Version (TNIV) © Copyright 2001, 2005 by Biblica

Linked to Think on These Things.

A Bushel-Filled Birthday Gift

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I have a friend who has a birthday right around Memorial Day weekend. So this year, I decided to put together a gift with a red, white, and blue theme. Okay…it’s actually red, white, and teal–but that’s close enough! :) I thought I’d tell you how I put this together in case you wanted to try this idea out sometime!

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I used this rustic bushel basket as a gift container…the red, white, and teal design was perfect, because the birthday girl, Alisa, loves red and teal. I wish I could say that I had painted this design on the basket myself, but I purchased it this way from an antique/gift shop. If you can’t find the right rustic basket from a shop, you could paint your own design on a new bushel basket or keep it natural and unpainted, depending on what your gift color theme is. Unpainted bushel baskets are pretty reasonable. If you just need one or two, your local craft store is probably your best resource. If you want to buy in bulk, here’s a site to check out–the Texas Basket Company. I haven’t ordered anything from this site, but it looks like they have a good variety of baskets to choose from. These baskets make great gift containers because they’re very reusable…they can be used as large plant containers inside or out on a porch, or used to hold other decorative or practical items inside the home.

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Next, you need items to fill the basket! My friend loves flowers, so I decided to get her a Vinca plant that she could either keep in a pot or plant in the ground. I included a pot in her favorite color, teal, and lined it with a plastic bag, putting the plant on top of that. If she decides not to pot the plant, it’s a cute enough pot for her to use as a pencil or brush holder, since she is a wonderfully talented, artsy person!

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I also had another gift item, a set of four vintage ice cream sundae glasses for her family of four, that I put in a gift box. Because this “bushel basket” gift had a red, white, and blue theme, I decided not to wrap the white box and just tie it with a fun red polka-dot ribbon.

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That’s about all that would fit into this bushel basket! I filled any open spots with some red polka-dot tissue.

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And voila! There you have it…a creative, eye-appealing gift that’s also very functional and practical!

It’s not hard putting a gift like this together–the key is knowing what the person likes, what their interests and hobbies are, and what colors appeal to them. Antique shops and flea markets are great resources for finding unique containers and smaller items to tuck into a gift container. Garden shops, craft stores, and sporting goods stores are also great places to find special-interest gifts. And, of course, handmade items and homemade goodies are always wonderful gifts, too. It’s fun when you find just the right things to make a one-of-a-kind gift for the person you’re celebrating!

I Think I Saw a Baby Eagle

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Imagine my surprise when I went for a walk in a quiet wooded area recently and saw this sweet little creature! It looked like a baby bird, but it was so big…probably at least a foot tall. I took some pictures with my i-Phone…

I thought it might be either a baby hawk or an eagle–I’ve seen eagles flying in the area before–and those feet really looked like eagle feet to me. The baby didn’t look or seem injured in any way. I didn’t know if it had fallen from a nest or why it was there. Hopefully the mama was close by. The closest I got to the baby bird was about five feet. Later on, I googled “baby eagle photos” and found a variety of different–looking baby eagles…some had yellow beaks, but some had beaks like this one…and the same coloring.

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The baby bird wasn’t there when I checked back. Hopefully the baby is with mama bird.

So what do you think–could this be a baby eagle? Do any of you know anything about eagles?

The Sweetest Sounds

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 The sweetest sounds to mortals given
Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven.

WILLIAM GOLDSMITH BROWN, American editor and writer (1812–1906)

Wishing you a blessed and beautiful Mother’s Day!

 

Rest

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“Come to Me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept My teachings and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives.”

MATTHEW 11:28–29 (NCV)

The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 byThomas Nelson, Inc. 

Linked to Think on These Things.

A Living Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

I PETER 1:3-4 (NIV)

New International Version (NIV) Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011, by Biblica

Praying you have a joyful, hope-filled Easter!


Black Bean Chicken Chili

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I was searching for a chicken chili recipe and couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I came up with this recipe. I really love this chili! It tastes great and it’s healthy, too! It’s a little different from your typical chili…with chicken instead of beef, and lots of tasty ingredients like onion, garlic, tomatoes, corn, black beans, and fresh cilantro. I think this recipe could work with ground beef, too, if you prefer that over chicken. This chili is so nice and thick… it’s thick enough to serve over rice if you want. And it’s great when you top this bowl of chili with a heaping helping of fresh cilantro and shredded Monterey Jack cheese or Cheddar cheese…yum!

Here’s the recipe…hope you like it!

BLACK BEAN CHICKEN CHILI by NancyCreative

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 (1 lb.) package boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, uncooked and cut into chunks (about 1/2″ or a little smaller)
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice, fresh-squeezed or bottled
  • 1 (15 oz.) can corn, well-drained
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (4.5 oz.) can chopped green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • dash of salt, if desired
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese, for garnish
  • finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

In a large saucepan (a 4-quart size works well), heat olive or canola oil over medium-high heat. Cook and stir onion, garlic, and chicken chunks in oil for 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in center (if you’re having trouble cutting the chicken before you cook it, you can cook it first and then cut it into chunks).

Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth, and lime juice; stir until mixture is well blended. Add corn, black beans, and green chiles, stirring until blended. Next, add ground cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and a dash of salt if desired, stirring until blended. Then stir in 2 Tablespoons of the chopped fresh cilantro, stirring until it’s well blended in the chili mixture.

Heat chili to boiling, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in bowls and garnish with finely chopped fresh cilantro and shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese.

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You can also serve this chili over rice if you’d like to. It makes a great meal on a chilly day!

What is Love?

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Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

I CORINTHIANS 13:4-8 (NIV)

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day as you celebrate and enjoy special moments with those you love!

Christmas Joy

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When I hear or see the word “joy” at Christmas, I’m reminded of the beautiful traditional German carol, HOW GREAT OUR JOY.

While by the sheep we watched at night, 
Glad tidings brought an angel bright.
 
(refrain) 
How great our joy! Great our joy! 
Joy, joy, joy! Joy, joy, joy!
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high! 
Praise we the Lord in heaven on high!
 
There shall be born, so He did say,
In Bethlehem a Child today.
(refrain)
 
There shall the Child lie in a stall,
This Child who shall redeem us all.
(refrain)
 
This gift of God we’ll cherish well,
That ever joy our hearts shall fill.
(refrain)

These simple words echo the prophecy from Micah 5:2: Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for Me One who will be Ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.*

This Christmas, as we celebrate the One who came, may your heart be filled with joy!

How Great Our Joy, translated to English by Theodore Baker, arranged by Hugo Jungst.
*Scripture from New International Version [NIV] Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.

Frosty Vanilla Cupcakes

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Who doesn’t love cupcakes? Especially if they’re frosted with rich, swirly buttercream…now that’s pretty hard to resist! If you’ve heard of the famous Magnolia Bakery in New York City, well, this is the recipe for their most popular cupcake. They call it the Vanilla Vanilla–a yummy vanilla cupcake with vanilla buttercream (pink is their most popular-selling frosting color). I found the recipe at FoodNetwork.com. If you’re a cupcake-lover you will want to try this! Or, according to the Food Network site, if you’d rather make a cake, you can divide the batter between two 9″ round cake pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Even though I haven’t tried making the cake version, I would recommend checking the cake at 30 minutes, because when I made the cupcakes, they were done at the lower baking time. They would have been too dry had I let them bake any longer.

These cupcakes look really festive, wintry, and Christmasy with the white buttercream and pearly sprinkles I used. You could also tint the frosting green or red if you wanted it to be more colorful for Christmas. The white frosting would work great for New Year’s Eve or Day, too. These cupcakes would also be fun with silver or gold sprinkles. I also thought the white frosting with white pearl sprinkles would be nice for a wedding shower or wedding…so you see, these delicious cupcakes are really versatile!

There is a chance you might need to make extra frosting, depending on how heavily you frost these cupcakes…just wanted to point that out. I frosted some heavy and some not-so-heavy because not everyone likes lots of frosting on their cupcakes (being a frosting-lover, I do find that hard to believe :) ). So, I had enough frosting for my cupcakes. But had I frosted all of them heavily, I think I would have needed to make more frosting.

Enough talk about the cupcakes…here’s the recipe!

MAGNOLIA’S VANILLA CUPCAKE  very slightly adapted from FoodNetwork.com

Makes 24 cupcakes

CUPCAKES

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over-beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean (Note: mine were done at 20 minutes, so be sure to check your cupcakes then to avoid over-baking!).

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

VANILLA BUTTERCREAM

(A note from the bakery: “The vanilla buttercream we use at the bakery is technically not a buttercream but actually an old-fashioned confectioners’ sugar and butter frosting. Be sure to beat the icing for the amount of time called for in the recipe to achieve the desired creamy texture.”)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar (I used 8 cups because I wanted a thicker frosting)
  • 1/2 cup milk (I substituted half and half for the milk)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk (or half and half) and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly (use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled). Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. NOTE: if you like to frost your cupcakes with lots of frosting, you may want to double the frosting recipe so you have enough!

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The recipe makes 2 dozen cupcakes or one 9″ layer cake. Enjoy trying this out!

Linked to Sweets for a Saturday, Sweet Indulgences Sunday, Foodie Friday.