living on pb & j

Ordinary moms living on Prayer, the Bible, and Jesus!


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Enjoying the Little Blessings

Thanksgiving is coming up for those of you in America and I know, I’m getting a jump start on the”blessings” and “give thanks” posts that will undoubtedly be inundating your reader feeds and email inboxes. But as I’m sure at least one post will tell you, you can’t just be thankful one day a year. It’s an every day thing.

What I wanted to tell you is just a simple little reminder though. Don’t just count the big blessings. Count the little ones too. You know, the big blessing of a healthy family, a loving spouse, a Bible in your language, a wonderful church, your salvation, etc. Those are the ones everyone counts right off the top. And that’s great. But what about the little ones? Like, indoor plumbing. (Or is that a big one??) Or a day of homeschooling where no one cries? A front or near-to-the-front parking spot at Walmart? I tell you, if you only focus on the big blessings, you will be missing out on the little ones. I think it’s through the little blessings that we are reminded the most that God does love us and cares about everything in our lives. Even the little things.

I had a small blessing while out shopping with my Mom this week. Do you ever just feel like you’re life is in a rut? You do the same things every day. You wear a lot of the same things (admit it, most of us have that one comfy
outfit that is our go-to outfit for days we aren’t expecting to see another living soul with a judgmental eye). Things are just monotonous. That’s every day life. Sometimes though, you just need something to break the monotony don’t you. That was me. So as my Mom and I were walking through Kohl’s one day this week with a 20% off coupon burning a hole in our pocket, we hit every department’s clearance corner. Now I hardly ever find anything in the home goods department but I look anyway. Never know right?? And I saw this:

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I added the floating bear and smiley face on the sun. I wish it had that smiley face because that would be totally awesome! So I’m standing in Kohl’s looking at this end-cap of miscellaneous mugs, I spot this little guy. I think yellow just screams happy. I don’t know if you can see it, but it says “Beautiful Day” on it. It has birds and some fluffy clouds and rolling green meadows. The whole inside and handle are yellow! I picked that little guy up and flipped it upside down to see the cost and to my surprise it was on CLEARANCE! Yes! *Christian happy dance* It was only $1.99 and we had that extra 20% off! Now, I know all you practical ladies are out there shaking your heads and saying to yourselves, “Yeah but did she really NEED that mug?” Of course I didn’t! We are probably all guilty of having a bazillion mugs in our cupboards. But to be honest, it seemed just perfect for breaking up my daily routine and monotony.

I didn’t walk into the store looking for anything special. I didn’t expect God to really care that I felt things had gotten a little dry in my life. I FULLY believe He sat that little mug there just for me. He knows I love yellow. He knows I like happy looking things. And He knows I’m a near-broke mother of six, homeschooling mom who refuses to pay full price for most anything. Haha! Can I get a witness on that!?

To me, that mug was a little blessing. I don’t drink coffee but I do drink milk, tea, and hot chocolate, and this has become my go-to drink container. In fact, I just took a drink out of it after that last sentence! 🙂 It makes me smile. My husband just shakes his head at me, but I’m okay with that! I can take the judgmental head shaking!

So look around you today. Don’t wait till Thanksgiving comes. Start TODAY looking for those little things. Maybe it will be the stain treatment working on your favorite shirt, or your kids actually liking something you make for dinner. The Bible says that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights” – James 1:17a So everything GOOD. Did you see that? Good AND Perfect. So not every gift will be perfect. But it will at least be good. 🙂 And that’s all the little things too! So tell me what some of your little blessings are. I guarantee you will find some if you just take the time to pay attention! Remember to say “Thanks!” to your heavenly Father Who loves you enough to even orchestrate the seemingly little things in your life! And now I’m off to refill my happy mug! Woo!

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Warning: This is not a post for dieters.

ATTENTION! SPOILER ALERT!  This is not a post for you if you are currently dieting.  It may tempt you to get off that diet and ruin all of your hard work thus far.  Also, do not read this post if you have an affinity towards sweets!  Consider yourselves warned. 

Once upon a time, a long, long, long time ago, I had the privilege of knowing a very dear and sweet lady.  She was my kindergarten Sunday School teacher, a precious Christian, and the closest thing to a Godly grandmother I would ever get.  Her name was Lavada.  Isn’t that a great old name?  Lavada.  Well, she was also a fabulous cook and one of her best recipes was for a German apple cake that she brought to almost every church fellowship.  She passed away several years ago but before she passed away,  I was somehow deemed me worthy of having that recipe and it has become a family favorite as well as a favorite of a bunch of other good people with good taste. Haha!!  It seems like a lot but it’s actually very easy and I promise you will not go wrong.  It can be a bit rich though so if you’re serving it, don’t cut the pieces too big. 🙂 I’m only sorry I don’t have a picture of one of these to share with you!  

Ready?  Okay! 

 

German Apple Cake

1 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 of granulated white sugar (or 1 1/2 but I always use 2 because, well, I’m a sugaraholic) 

2 cups of all purpose flour*

1 cup of chopped walnuts(optional or if you live with a nut allergy like my son does, then it’s absolutely forbidden!)

2 tsps of cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 cups of apples (peeled (did I really need to say that?) and chopped) That’s about 4 med. sized apples.

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to a toasty 350 degrees.

Beat eggs, vanilla, and oil with a mixer till well blended.  Stir in all of your dry ingredients (Except the apples and nuts!) a little at a time.  Your batter will seem to be one big lump and you’ll probably wonder how this big dry lump could make such a delicious dessert.  Trust me.  It will be great.  After all the dry ingredients are stirred in, and you’ve gained a bit of muscle, add your apples and nuts.  Voila!  The juice from the apples gives the cake a more, well, cake batter-like consistency.  And here, you were all worried.  Pshaw.  

You’ll want to pour this delicious batter into a greased and floured 9×13 pan.  I have used cooking spray before so it is totally your preference!  I have also done a cupcake version, just make sure to spray the liners.  I learned the hard way. 

Bake that high-calorie yummy goodness for about 45-60 minutes.  It will turn a nice golden brown on the top.  Check with a toothpick to be sure.  

Now for the good part (because we all know the icing is the BEST part of cake! Am I right?!)

Icing:

This is a cream cheese icing.  My husband does NOT like cream cheese so I always have him taste it to make sure I added enough sugar.  If it doesn’t taste much like cream cheese then it’s perfect. 🙂 Seriously, I’m not kidding.  

You will need:

1 box of Philadelphia cream cheese (or a store brand, again, your preference)

1 lb of powdered sugar.  If you buy those two pound bags at the store, you will more than likely use, at least, half a bag. 

1 tsp vanilla.  

Mix all that together till it’s fluffy. If it’s too stiff or thick you can always add a LITTLE milk to thin it out.  Don’t add too much or you’ll have cream cheese soup.  No one likes cream cheese soup.  No one. 

 

If you make this and it turns out well and you take it somewhere, make sure no one knows you made it.  You’ll be inundated with requests for this cake over and over.  And you will tire of making it, over and over.  😉  We have it for special occasions like, oh say, Christmas! Or Thanksgiving.  I hope you enjoy this as much as our family does!  

 

*P.S. Tip tip tip!  If you want to cut down on measuring ingredients you can always substitute self-rising flour for the all-purpose.  You would then just omit the baking soda and salt.  So no salt, no soda, no all-purpose flour.  Just self-rising and if you’re lazy like me, you’ll end up doing that every time.  

 


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Coffee With A New Mom

Hey there New Mom!

How’s it going? You just had a new baby, how do we all think you’re doing, right? 🙂 You’re tired aren’t you. Probably feeling a little overwhelmed? Maybe you’re little one is a newborn or maybe he or she is a few months old and the daily grind has set in. I’m currently going through my sixth newborn season. How about we commiserate together for a few minutes? Grab some caffeine (you know you need it), ignore the laundry, and let’s chat.

So maybe your spouse isn’t as helpful as you’d like, especially with those middle of the night feedings. I mean, seriously, doesn’t he understand that 2 A.M. is your prime sleep time? *sigh* Men.

Having trouble getting anywhere on time? Yeah, I understand. That little treasure loves to give out treasures just when it’s time to leave or better yet, they are absolutely STARVING and simply must nurse RIGHT NOW or that car ride is gonna be very loud.

You probably don’t feel like you look your best. Kinda hard to get to the salon isn’t it? And frankly, you still haven’t quite squeezed into your pre-pregnancy clothes yet. I totally understand. My closet mocks me every time I open it. I’m not even sure why I leave those clothes in there that fit me four babies ago. I know it’s just wishful thinking. A girl can dream though, right?

Do you feel pressured by your social media friends and family to post a photo of Junior every hour? Do you worry people might think you’re a questionable mom if in that next photo the baby has on the same onesie they had on in the previous day’s photo?

How about feedings? Worried that little bottomless pit isnt getting enough? What about that random rash or fever? What about finding a pediatician? Maybe you’re just feeling utterly inadequate to raise another human being to adulthood. Maybe, maybe, maybe, if, if, if.

Now, take a deep breath.

Take a loooooong sip of that coffee / tea / carbonated beverage.

If you and I could look each other in the eye right now, I would say to you, it’s all going to be okay. Maybe your husband doesn’t do 2 A.M. feedings or maybe he does. If not, just remember, your little one will sleep through the night eventually. I promise. Trust me, you’d rather have a happy, well-rested hubby than a tired and cranky one. And then you know what? Just when you get used to it, and start enjoying those infomercials they show during the times of night when you’re most vulnerable to buy that collapsable pasta strainer for the unbelievable price of only $9.99 plus S&H and by buying in the next ten minutes you get a second strainer plus a pot and a random flashlight, all free just pay separate S&H, (Maybe I know from experience or maybe I don’t. I’m not telling.) (deep breath) Junior starts sleeping five or six hours straight. Then you will wake up and run to his crib just to make sure he’s still breathing. Then you will start sleeping all night again. Wow! That sounds really good right now doesn’t it? 🙂

As for getting out of your house and not being late, eventually you will have your little darling worked into the family schedule. I also promise you won’t look haggard forever. People know you’re a new mom. They know those dark circles under your eyes are because you lack sleep because you’re a great mom who feeds her child. And only you know it’s also because you just couldn’t lay that little snuggler back down in their crib after that midnight feeding. (They’re so fun to snuggle aren’t they?)
Maybe you’ll never fit into that pre-pregnancy size again. After all, pregnancy changes the “lay of the land” for good. What better excuse to hit your favorite shops once your body shape figures itself out? Don’t feel bad about it. The new you is a badge of honor. Even if it doesn’t seem like it. You never liked that weird dress your mom got you anyway. (I’m trying to help here! 😉 )

And as for all those other things, don’t sweat it! Remember I said I’m going through my sixth newborn season? That means I’ve been on the other side of it five times now. I’ve been where you are. I’ve cried many times over the helplessness and inadequacy that I felt. Look here, don’t you be afraid to ask someone for help. You don’t get a cookie from anyone for “staying strong” and running yourself on fumes. Know your limits. You can do this! But everyone needs help somtimes. 🙂 And you know something else? The Bible says in Psalm 127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” If God saw fit to bless you with a child, He will sustain you in raising that child! He knows your greatest worries and fears. You can leave them all with Him and just love on that little whipper snapper.

As I leave my empty cup on the table let me say I’ve known a lot of new moms and I’ve been a new mom. We all put up a front, don’t we. But you know something? We all know that we are each going through the same thing. We all feel forgotten, inadequate, fat, frumpy, and hormonal sometimes. And that’s okay. Because at the end of the day, that precious little one is going to snuggle up next to your neck and you will be the greatest thing in their life. They won’t care if hormones are making your hair thinner (temporarily!) or if you are still hanging onto ten pounds of baby weight or if you haven’t had a shower in three days. They will look at you like a super hero. And they will be your greatest accomplishment. Giving birth. Creating and sustaining a human life. You go, girl! Always remember, God loves you. Your spouse loves you. Your family loves you. Your church loves you. And me? I may not know you personally, but you’re a new mom, and I love new moms.

Thanks for letting me spend some time with you. You’re going to be great at this whole mom thing! I’m cheering for you! (Minus the acrobatics. I don’t want to hurt myself! Haha!) Now while the little princess is snoozing like a little angel, go take a nap! 🙂

P.S. Some of you new mamas out there may have had the joy of adopting a baby and while some of the physical changes may not apply in your case, I’m sure a lot of the things I mentioned will. I want you to know that I think you are just as special as any mom out there and I am proud of you! That little tater tot you chose to love and raise may never know how blessed they are to have you in their life. You are amazing and I applaud you for making a difference in a child’s life!