Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Restless by Jennie Allen: A Review of a Truly Inspiring Read

Throughout this Lenten season, I have been reading and praying through a beautiful book, Restless, by Jennie Allen.

 She is a wonderful author who speaks candidly and with graceful words that flow seamlessly, as though chatting with a friend. Although Restless is an 8 week, DVD based bible study, I found it just as thought provoking on my own. Jennie Allen gently challenges us to live a life of purpose and contentment...a life that God calls us to right where we are at this moment. I believe many of us feel like God has called us to do more, but we lack the bravery to take a step towards fulfilling that dream. Jennie steps out in faith, using the story of Joseph to gently lead your heart down a path of deep reflection and prayer...showing you that God has a perfect plan for each one of us and to take fear and combat it with biblical truth.
Restless: Because You Were Made for More  -     By: Jennie Allen

She states, "Our places are not an accident. Your gifts and stories will be used in many different places over your lifetime.....He just wants you to participate in His story wherever you are and with whatever you have."

This book is about our passions {we may have put on hold}, our gifts and places in this life that are not by coincidence: rather that God has placed us right where we are to use our gifts for His purpose. Jennie takes you through an inner study of who you really are and how you fit into this beautiful plan that God has for you. Your gifts, the suffering in your life, your passions, where God has placed you, the people that He has placed right in front of your have a purpose. Restless urges us to follow God's plan for our lives and how incredible that path can be.

"We ache to be part of something great, and it makes us nervous at the same time. We were built for this, but we all fight hundreds of mixed motives and fears. Jesus said of us, "Whoever believes in Me...they will do even greater things than these."(John 14:12).....Our souls are restless until they rest in God. We were made for Him and He gave everything so that our souls could finally and forever rest in Him."

 On a personal level, this book resonated that you don't have to see and plan everything out in your life. God has the master list and good plans for each of us. The unknown is a difficult thing to conquer...and one of my own personal fears. What we don't know will be revealed in faith. Relinquishing every action, thought, and word to God...all day, everyday....knowing that He is going to confidently lead you in the right direction is a comfort. 

"God doesn't change the world though grand visions; He changes the world through surrendered people hungry for His glory."

I highly recommend this book. It will cause you to think, pray, and challenge you to a higher calling in your life. You will come away celebrating that God created you infinitely unique and that He wants to use your gifts to share His joy with those around us.
It will refresh your spirit.

If you would like to purchase Restless, you can do so HERE.

Meet Jennie Allen HERE.

And a little clip about Restless...

A big thank you to Sara for asking me to review this lovely book.
It was such a treat to enjoy it through the Easter season and I found my faith strengthened!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Great Heirloom Seed Sources

Have you started planting yet?
Here in the north, near the mountains, we are just beginning.
I have a love for heirloom seeds and thought I would share some of the best resources out there.
There is just something about knowing that the seed you are planting has sustained for hundreds of years.
That delicious and mouth watering tomato could be the same one your great-grandparents enjoyed.
The heirloom varieties tend to have exceptional flavor, are more nutritious than newer varieties, most have wonderful stories about how they came to America, and because they are open-pollinated, you can save your seeds from year to year.

Here are a few of my favorite companies...

What could be more authentic and heirloom than Thomas Jefferson's gardens at Monticello?
You can purchase seed directly from them.
Click HERE.
Monticello Birds, Bees and Butterflies Seed Sampler

This company has some of the most diverse heirloom and organic seeds.
Their selection is impeccable.
Northern Large Package

Seed Savers has been dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds since 1975.
They have an amazing variety as well as stories behind each seed.
I use their seeds every year.

A Bee's Garden Organic Seed Collection

Southern Exposure Catalog Seeds 2014

Gift Collections

{My local favorite!}
Irish Eyes Garden Seeds

Hope you are enjoying this last week of Lent and have a lovely Easter!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

{Spring} Sunday Supper: Gluten Free~ Fresh Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Soup, Chopped Cobb Salad, and Gluten Free Coffee Cake

I just felt like a good bowl of soup this week.
Creamy and fresh with a lovely head of spring broccoli.
I think you and your family will love this recipe!
Pair it with a crisp Cobb salad and a gluten free dessert, and your meal is complete.

Hope you are having a lovely Spring so far!

 Broccoli and Cheddar Cheese Soup
{serves 6}

4 TBS. melted butter
2T. olive oil 
1 med. chopped onion
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 cups half and half cream
4 cups chicken stock
1 head fresh broccoli, cut fine
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
16 oz. sharp cheddar cheese {can substitute 1/2 cheddar and another favorite cheese, like Gouda.}
salt and pepper to taste

In a pan, saute onion and celery in butter and oil until translucent. Add flour and whisk over medium heat until a rue is formed. Add the 1/2 and 1/2 and chicken stock. Stir well, then add broccoli and cook on low for 25 minutes. 
Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Don't skip the makes the soup!
Add the cheese and heat until melted and creamy.

Chopped Cobb Salad
{serves 6}

½ head iceberg lettuce, shredded
½ head romaine lettuce, chopped fine
handful of fresh spinach
2 oz. blue cheese or feta, crumbled
6 strips cooked bacon, roughly chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into ½" cubes
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½" cubes
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and cut into ½" cubes
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into ½" cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. minced chives

Combine all ingredients and toss in a large bowl.
Serve with your favorite dressing.

Gluten Free Coffee Cake
{serves many}
*original recipe from New Every Morning...with my own adjustments :). 

1/4 cup ground flax
1 1/2 cups almond flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp. maple extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup stevia blend

1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 TBS. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 TBS. stevia blend
1 tsp. molasses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, combine first 3 ingredients. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, extracts, and stevia.
Blend and then add to the dry ingredients.
Mix well.
Pour into a 9x13 greased dish.

Mix topping ingredients together and then pour on top and swirl with a knife.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Stitched Easter Pillows

April is almost here. Can you believe that?
Easter is such a lovely holiday and today we decided to decorate a bit.
Pillow covers are an easy way to spruce up any room and so easy to make.
Even if you are not proficient at sewing, CAN do this!

First, you need to measure the pillow you are using.
Add an inch all around and cut out the front of the pillow.
Iron and use a little sizing to make the fabric slightly stiff.
This will make sewing a little easier.

Before making the back, we are going to add the sweet picture, stitched to the front.
I used Martha's Easter clip-art.
I love her designs!
Print out the design, cut it out, and then trace it in the center of your pillow front.
You can use a fabric pencil...or a regular pencil used lightly.
I just erase right off the fabric after I have stitched.
For this project I used a linen textured fabric.

Using a bright colored thread, straight stitch carefully around the outline.
You might want to pick a design with clean lines if this is your first attempt.
This little chicken required a lot of twists and turns, lifting the foot of my sewing machine quite often to turn the fabric.
I love how it turned out!

I like the effect of going over it a couple of times. The thread color really pops out and it kind of gives it a rustic look.
A single stitch is just fine, too.
{Single stitched.}

 {Double stitched.}

Next, we are going to make a envelope slip for the back.

You will need two pieces.

Taking your measurements from the front, cut your 1st back piece to be exactly half of the front.
So...if your front piece measured 14x14 inches, your 1st piece for the back fold would be 14x7.

The next piece you want to overlap by 5 inches.

So take the previous length, and then add 5 more inches to the width.
For instance, if the front piece was 14x14, the 2nd piece for the back would be 14x12 inches.

Hem one side {length} for each of the two pieces.

Now place them right sides together, with the back overlapping.

Pin, and sew 1/2 inch all around the outside.
Back stitch where the fold meets in the back for added strength.

Insert pillow, and enjoy your new little treasure.

This stitching technique could be used on so many things!

Napkins {tutorial here}

Little bags {tutorial here}

Dish towels {tutorial here}

Happy Spring!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

{Spring} Sunday Supper: Easter Menu~Honey Thyme Glazed Ham, Rustic Rosemary Asparagus Pie, Glazed Carrots, and Homemade Crescent Rolls

Easter Day is soon approaching...and aren't you excited?
Spring is here and the warm mornings are so welcome.
We have started the garden: planting spinach, lettuces, peas, and onions and my mouth waters thinking about the fresh vegetables that will soon be on our table.
This will be our delicious Easter menu this year....from the asparagus pie {which I've published before} to the glazed ham....we will be feasting in our cozy kitchen on Easter Day.
Of course, we will have deviled eggs, maybe scalloped potatoes {my husband's favorite}. and a few sweets, but I hope this menu might be a start to a lovely meal for your family, too.
The ham is more than yummy, the rolls soft and perfect, and the carrots are amazing.
I think that the asparagus pie just speaks for itself.

Honey Thyme Glazed Ham

1 ready to eat boneless ham, 6-12 pounds.
{Adjust cooking time for bone-in ham.}

Honey Thyme Glaze
4 TBS melted butter
2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cider vinegar
2 TBS. brown sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Remove thawed ham from refrigerator a couple of hours before you want to cook it, so that it is closer to room temperature.
 Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a foil lined roasting pan, place the ham fattier side up.
I like to take a sharp knife and score the top of the ham about 1/4 inch cuts 1/2 inch apart on the top. This will help the glaze to penetrate.

Prepare the glaze: 

Heat the butter and add thyme.
Whisk and set aside off of heat.
Reduce the cider vinegar on high heat to about 1 TBS.
Whisk in butter and thyme, and then add honey, brown sugar, and Worcestershire.

Using a pastry brush, brush glaze on, trying to let it seep into the scored lines on the ham.
Place ham in oven, uncovered.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature is 120 degrees with a meat thermometer.
HERE is a cooking chart for ham.
Remember...this is a pre-cooked ham and you are just heating it up.
Baste the ham with the juices a few times while cooking.
If it looks like the top is getting too brown, cover with a piece of foil.
I didn't cover mine quite soon enough!  The edges were a little dark :). After 1 hour, really look at the top of your ham!

When the ham has reached an internal temperature of 120 degrees, finish it off by broiling for a minute or two to achieve a nice browning.
Take the ham out of the oven and brush all over with the juices.
Cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Rustic Dutch Rosemary Asparagus Pie
{serves 6-8}

2 egg whites beaten to double in size
1 cup of ricotta cheese
zest of 1/2 of an organic lemon
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 TBS dried rosemary or a handful of fresh
10~12 fresh asparagus spears
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 sheets of puff pastry {store bought or homemade}
1 TBS shaved almonds

Preheat the oven to 356 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Beat the egg whites until they have doubled in volume. In a separate bowl, beat the ricotta until smooth and add in the lemon zest, Parmesan, and rosemary. Add the salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Now gently fold in the egg whites.
Roll out the puff pastry and gently press into a greased 9-inch pie plate or tart pan, making sure to cover the sides. Spoon the ricotta mixture into the tin, spreading it evenly. Arrange the asparagus on top, brushing them with some olive oil. Bake for approximately 45 minutes (or until the pastry is golden and the ricotta slightly blistered).
Toast the almonds in a frying pan and sprinkle over the top.

Glazed Carrots
{serves 8}

2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced at an angle, 1/4 inch thick
1 cup chicken broth
4 tablespoons honey, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 TBS. butter
3 teaspoons lemon juice

Place carrots, broth, 2 tablespoon honey, and salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. 
Cover pan and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
Carrots should be almost tender.
Uncover pan, increase heat to high, and bring to a rapid simmer. 
Cook carrots, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes.  The liquid should reduce to a couple of tablespoons.
Next add butter and remaining 3 tablespoons of honey. 
 Toss until butter is melted and carrots are coated.
 Cook for about 3 more minutes and stir frequently. The carrots should be completely tender and the glaze will thicken and turned a light golden color.
Remove skillet from heat and stir in lemon juice.
 Season with pepper. 
Serve immediately, spooning glaze over individual servings.

Homemade Crescent Rolls
{makes 16 rolls}

2 1/2 tsp. yeast
3/8 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups white flour
2 TBS. butter, reserved

Combine yeast and warm water in a large bowl. Allow to sit for 3-4 minutes until bubbly.
Add the sugar, salt, egg, and melted butter.
Add in the flour and mix until combined.
Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth. You can use your mixer to do the kneading.
Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover.
Let it rise until doubled in size, about 1- 1 1/2 hours. 
Take dough out and roll into a nice 12 inch circle.
Lightly butter the dough, and then slice into 16 slices using a pizza cutter.
Starting at the larger end of each triangle, roll into a crescent.
Place onto a lightly greased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
Place in a warm oven {170 degrees} and let rise until doubled in size...about 20 minutes.
Take out of oven.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.
When they come out of the oven, lightly drizzle with melted butter.

Hope you have the most wonderful Sunday together.


Thursday, March 20, 2014


"Simplification of outward life is not enough. It is merely the outside. But I am starting with the outside. I am looking at the outside of a shell, the outside of my life, the shell. The complete answer is not to be found on the outside, in an outward mode of living. This is only a technique, a road to grace. The final answer, I know, is always inside. But the outside can give a clue, can help one to find the inside answer. One is free, like the hermit crab, to change one's shell."
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Have you started Spring cleaning yet?
It always seems like such a big job, and I am a little behind this year, but I am loving the clean-slate feeling as I purge and organize each room.
Simplifying has been an enormous part of finding contentedness.
Having less allows you more time, less to pick up, less to care for, and MORE time for those we love.
It's amazing what you don't really need in life, and what you can get by with.
I even feel like my brain is clear of clutter when my house is cleaned.
{A little gift sent to me by a friend and reader, Tammy. Thank you Tammy! You have made Spring cleaning so pretty!}

I do realize that our living space is just an outward shell of what should be reflected in our hearts and minds.
But it's a start.
I know how good I feel when my home is fresh, cleaned out, and put in order.
It kind of allows my mind to find a place to start organizing thoughts :). 

I love Anne Morrow Lindbergh's statement, "One is free, like a hermit crab, to change one's shell."

This Lenten season that is what I want. 
To take off the old and put on a new heart.
One that is simplified.
One that is pure in thought and reliant on God for everyday little things.
One that prays more and asks for grace in little moments.
One that is cleaned out.

Doing that can be a bit hard....remaining centered while balancing so many distractions in life.
I have been working hard on doing one thing at a time, and doing it well.
Scheduling alone time.
 Just me. 
A time to read and relax, pray, delve into educating myself on matters I am interested in.
{MaryJane's Farm Magazine....a favorite!}

Slowing my expectations for the day. I tend to put way too much on the list!
Remaining calmer when things don't go right and realizing I am not in control...God is!
Looking for that inner peace that only comes through prayer and trust.

I think by cleaning out the clutter in my head, as well as my house, it frees you to see life as more full.
To revel in all of the little joys.

And find the road to grace.

Happy Spring!

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