Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Stuffed Mushrooms

'Tis the season for baking, cooking, roasts, etc… The cold weather always leads me into my kitchen, with a need to create hot, warm, filling meals. This also means I often have ingredients around that I don't always use. 

This past weekend, I happened to have some left over mushrooms and wanted to do something with them so they were more than just an addition to salad. I have had stuffed mushrooms before and that sounded tasty, so off to look for a recipe.

I couldn’t find any recipe where I had all the ingredients required, or the time for that matter, so I created one that worked with what I had on hand. I should also add that I only had half of a package of mushrooms, but made a full batch of the filling, and froze what I didn’t use for the next time I make these.

  • 1 package mushrooms (look for large caps, over an inch in diameter which makes stuffing a snap! I had mid-range button, and they worked okay, but were a little small)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (if you have smaller cloves from the middle, use 3)
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 slices thick cut homemade bread (you can substitute country bread, or Italian bread here); soak in milk; squeeze until no more milk runs out
  • 1/8 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. Mozzarella cheese
  • 4 egg yolks (I had them leftover from royal icing production the day before; you could use 2 whole eggs)
  • Salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350o F. Oil a large baking dish to hold all mushrooms with no crowding, single layer. I used an 8x8 square which had plenty of room for a whole package of mushrooms.
2. Remove mushroom stems and set aside. Wipe caps with a damp paper towel or brush.
3. Trim ends off stems, then chop finely.
4. Heat 2 T of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. (I used one of my cast iron skillets.) Add chopped mushroom stems, garlic, and oregano, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes, or until stems are soft.
5. Place cooked stems in a bowl with soaked bread, eggs, and cheese. Mix well. If the filling seems dry, you can add a little olive oil. It should be moist, not wet. Add 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper to season. Mix well.
6. Spoon filling into mushroom caps, mounding it up a little. Place caps in prepared pan, with filling side up.
7. Add water to baking dish, about 1/3 of height of the mushroom caps.

8. Bake until filling is golden and mushrooms are tender, about 35 minutes. Serve immediately, while warm. I used tongs to remove the mushrooms from the baking dish and to transfer to a serving plate. We let them cool for like 2 minutes, then we literally just gobbled them they were so good!

You could add in some cooked, crumbled bacon....or maybe some cooked, crumbled sausage, for a heartier version. You could also change up the cheese - more Parmesan, or add in some Romano, maybe some grated Swiss with the bacon. So many possibilities!!!! 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I Must Confess - Day 3

Confession time here. Be prepared. Last night, after a fairly emotionally charged day, I snapped at my husband. I shall pause to let that sink in. And so you can stop snickering at my jaw-dropping revelation.

The juicy details are so not juicy. We were outside. I said, "Hey look, the garlic we planted is coming up."

He said nothing.

I said, "We have bugs I've never seen before. What are they?"

He said, "How would I know, I'm not a bug expert."

I said, "Can you please go get the bug spray?"

He brought it out. He watched me spray the bugs. He heard me say, 'I am unhappy there are bugs in my herb garden, especially since they are hanging around the garlic, which makes no sense.'

His most excellent come back was….wait for it, "I found my missing coffee cup."

If you read my blog, you are most likely female, so you probably don't need me to explain any further. On the off chance you aren't female (or married), I shall expound.

I was unaware that there was a missing coffee cup. I could not fathom what that had to do with the bugs. I have no ability to imagine why the coffee cup had gone missing. It's not like the coffee cup sprouted legs and ran away from home…. Or wherever he had left it sitting.

Are you wondering what this story has to do with balance? (Or anything really?) It was what I realized later that makes this story important. As I sat down to do some bible journaling, I started thinking about how quickly I have been losing my cool by the end of the day recently.

My days have been very full. Major purging and cleaning; harvest and canning season; busy in the Studio, ministry, and more. I am tired by the end of my day, which is usually not until after dinner, if then. Notice there is little on this list that doesn't involve me doing something that isn't specifically for me. Don't misunderstand - all are of value, hence them being on the list.

They aren't refreshing, re-charging, or just for my own soul & personal care though. They are for other people. I love all the things I do, and my family, but I also need a bit of time just for me. By myself. Without anyone talking to me… or asking me to find something I didn't misplace or lose… or wanting to know what is for dinner… or randomly telling me about the missing/found cup that I never knew anything about anyway, and to be totally honest, didn't care about in the least. It's not like we don't own more than ONE coffee cup!

It would be easy to blame PMS for my crappy attitude, but that doesn't work this week. The real truth is that I have allowed the busy to create a lack of balance.  Yes, I really did need to do something with all the apples and tomatoes before they spoiled. Yes it had value, and I am glad we had them, and I see the good. BUT….

Spending time just sitting and reading my bible, doing some journaling, practicing my lettering. These things fill me up. They are refreshing for my soul. They are a little down time, just for me, all by myself. Moments that create some emotional stability, so I can giveaway to others. I love the saying, 'you can't give what you don't have.' This is SO true!

I hate to tell you, but the laundry will wait for you, and no one will die if there are crumbs on the floor from dinner, left there so you can go have 10 minutes of peace. 10 minutes sounds like heaven when you have toddlers. You would think it could be increased when you have teenagers, but really it only moves to about 15 minutes, unless you are in the bathroom which is where all mom's go to hide! (Teenagers go through periods when they are really just larger versions of toddlers with better vocabularies. They are however very okay with you going to the bathroom by yourself. Thank you Jesus!)

Balance in my days comes from taking the time I need to refuel. I am less apt to snap at my family, more understanding about missing coffee cups, and generally more pleasant. I feel ready to tackle all the things again. It allows some time to gain perspective on the to-do list, clear my schedule for people over projects, and helps me use my time more efficiently. 

I encourage you to go hide in the bathroom, (take some of the chocolate you bought to hand out for Halloween), and think about something that recharges YOUR batteries. What are the little moments that bring you peace, or refreshing, or joy? Choose just one, and pursue it even if for just 5 minutes.  

Monday, October 2, 2017

Day 2 - Comparison

There is a popular meme floating around Instagram right now that says, "I will not compare myself to other's on IG."

We are all guilty of doing it though. I'm sure you're wondering what comparison has to do with balance right? EVERYTHING!

When I was an expectant mom it was birthing stories that were compared. Then as a young mom, it was parenting experiences. Then as a homeschooling mom, a wife, a daughter, a female..... the list is endless.

I discovered, much later than I wish, that my life was being lived based on comparison. Experiences with God, faith, parenting, even my height! I'm short, and on the smaller side. Boy can other women be cruel. Like I had any say in my height or appearance or metabolism. Anyway.....

Spending my time watching everyone else inevitability led to some pretty big insecurities in my world. I've never really been one to care what other's thought, but it would be nice if they thought nice things. SO, I felt compelled to create a life that looked like what someone else may also want. That way, when the comparison game started, I at least wouldn't be the one person no one else wanted to be.

To be fair, I had some other, larger, more pressing, issues that also led to some of these comparisons and insecurities. I'll save that for another day.

Most recently comparison reared it's head in IG land, and obviously I'm not alone. I can guarantee you Pinterest would either beat IG or come in a super close second! We scroll through picture after picture of awesomeness. Then we look at what we have created, or decorated, or lettered, or journaled, or whatever, and we wish we were better.

Balance in life though begins when we stop comparing ourselves, our gifts, and our lives, to those we see around us...and definitely those on social media. Comparison ultimately leads to being busier than necessary, or feeling less than, simply because.

I have a friend who shared that watching my IG posts made other people feel exactly this way! Each day I would share pictures of all the things I was doing and making. And since we're in harvest season, the making and canning is abundant.

I felt bad for a little while. I truly did not intend any harm. Here again though, comparison came to be. While I may not alter my photo's for IG, or stage things for that perfect picture, my life had some how appeared to be too good, and led to other's feeling bad. Comparison.

My life will quickly spiral out of control if I run around trying to decorate my home like some of the people I follow on IG, or spend all day trying to letter as well as people who do it as their full-time income, and again on goes the list.

I will choose today to be content with my gifts, my skills, and my life. This will bring some balance into my life, as I focus on what is in front of me, for my hands to do. At the very least I won't feel like a crazy person!!!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Struggle To Juggle - 31 Days of Balance

I am so excited to be participating in this year's Write 31 Days Challenge!! For the next 31 days, I'll be blogging every day, about the struggle we all face to juggle our dreams, family, jobs, health, hobbies, harvest season, ministry and so much more! 

If you are meeting me for the first time, I'm Kim, the Vintage God Girl. Not only do I absolutely adore antiques and vintage everything, I love the meaning of vintage - unique, created during a specific season, special. I believe this description fits all of God's beautiful, amazing daughters (and sons). 

I have one child, a daughter, who just graduated high school. This means I am no longer a homeschooling mom! One less thing to juggle this fall.

My husband is a pretty cool guy. He is a mechanic, which means that all the lights in my car are on, and we 'just don't worry about it." We just celebrated our 6 year anniversary in September. We live a small town in the Midwest, surrounding by corn and bean fields, in a vintage house, filled with vintage and antique things.

Actually, the theme for this month of posts, was my husband's idea. The title was his idea too!! I work from home as an artist, creating all the things. I teach classes on herbs and aromatherapy, as well as bible journaling. I help manage my father's event center, and am active in ministry. As you can tell, balance is a big deal in my world, especially since we are in the middle of garden harvest season.

So follow along, as we walk through all the things together! From lessons I've learned already, to some I am currently learning. I'll be sharing some tips on creating some space in your home and heart, making balancing all the things a little bit easier! 

You can follow along on IG at #write31days!

Day 1 - You're Here!!
Day 2 - Comparison
Day 3 - I Must Confess

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Vintage Child of God

Recently I was preparing for a bible journaling workshop and wanted to do something on growing, faith, blossoming, etc... I had a verse from Hosea 14 that I thought was perfect, AND it fit in with the current book I'm reading, Whispers of Rest. (Psst....go buy the book! It's that good!)

I wanted to make sure that I had space in all 3 of my current journaling bibles. (Yes, I have 3. I kind of retired one because it is overflowing; I mostly use the 2nd, but it is quickly filling; the 3rd is the Message Canvas which has a lot of pre-drawn art.)

Fortunately I had space in the first 2, which was great! One to do in the the workshop, one for my personal page with my book, and a third if I needed it! When I got to the Message bible, I was in awe of how the verse(s) had been paraphrased.

They talked about being a 'vintage child of God'. Now, I want to stop right here and say that I have a NIV study bible, where I do all my studying. Then my journaling bibles, where quite often I end up finding a ton of 'bonus' material. My Message Bible I just read and use for creativity, or if I'm really puzzled over a verse and have looked at all 5 assorted translations I own!

I read it, then re-read it, then prayed, then read it again! I adore vintage everything and anything!!! I knew full well that the verse was referring to wine, but still. Come on!

I knew I had to do something with this verse. Then God reminded me that years ago, I had been practicing my drawing (NOT my gift), and managed to draw an awesome vintage inspired lady. Since it was rare for me to do so well at something, I turned her into a hand-carved stamp! Then I set her away because I never quite figured out what to do with her!

Out came the stamp. And I stamped and watercolored and lettered!!! Then more inspiration as I created note cards. Then she turned into a blossoming flower. And so on it went. Inspiring idea after inspiring idea.

Vintage Child of God Girl ©2017 K. Hazer
But God wasn't done with her, or me, just yet! Back to my study bibles, my concordance, my stack of theology books and commentaries and dictionaries. What exactly IS a Vintage Child of God.

Let me start with the actual verse from Hosea 14. It is verse 7, "Everyone will be talking about them (her) spreading their (her) fame as the vintage children (child) of God." MSG (my paraphrase of the verse)

Vintage here is referring to wine, as the verse reads in every translation I own, including my KJV (I had to look). Vintage, as a word, originated with wine making. It refers to the act of, or season for gathering grapes and making wine. It also refers to the collection of contemporaneous & similar persons or things. Is that not the coolest thing!

Wine lovers will tell you that the vintage is very important when it comes to quality, since it also refers to a specific year, or crop, that was especially good.

When I talk about the vintage items I collect, I am referring to a period of origin, generally anything prior to 1970. (Antiques must be much older, heading towards 100 years plus.)

This excited me even more though, to read that vintage referred to something special, unique, specific. The inspiration that God sent as a result, was literally overwhelming to me! I wrote, and journaled, and studied, and oh goodness all that I found. (Can you tell how enthusiastic I am today? I have lots of exclamation points don't I? LOL!)

To be a Vintage Child of God is literally to be YOU! Be yourself. Be unique. Be original. You ARE exceptional in God's eyes. You are far superior to the lies you have believed. You were created for a specific season, of great value. You are in process (making wine is also part of the definition). You are becoming.

My Vintage Child of God girl is definitely going to be around for awhile. You will see her a lot in the coming weeks as God's plan unfolds. He provided amazing clarity, which isn't always the case in my world. The pieces literally fell together with simplicity and the ideas didn't stop, until I stopped from the shear enormity.

PS - You can find my Vintage Child of God this week on postcards, note cards, and more in our Online shop:

Friday, July 14, 2017

Easy Herbal Vinegars

This is going to be the quickest, easiest Herbal Vinegar recipe you have ever read!! 

In fairness, vinegar is a tricky thing to work with. Although vinegar has a very stable shelf life, and most people think it can't go bad, once you introduce anything else into it, it becomes less stable.

The other thing you will want to consider before beginning, is where you live. Super humid (like here in the Midwest) or super dry climates can also have an impact on the stability and quality of your vinegar. 

Okay, enough of the nitty gritty, let's just have some fun!! I'm going to share my process for creating this tasty Tarragon White Wine Vinegar. There are NO measurements here because the more herbs you add, the stronger the flavor. It's entirely up to you! 1 gallon of vinegar will need a LOT of fresh herbs!!

This is fresh tarragon, straight from the herb garden. It was rinsed and completely dried before adding to the vinegar. Any water/liquid will cloud the vinegar. 

Any herb in your garden will work for vinegar if it hasn't been sprayed for bugs. I love using tarragon because it is versatile in everything.

Rice Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar both pair well with tarragon. I chose the White Wine because it has a flavor that most people will like. It also easier to find in larger quantities.

I take a glass mason jar, place fresh tarragon in the jar.....

....and then just fill with vinegar to cover the herb. Place plastic wrap over the top, then screw on the metal lid. (DEFINITELY USE PLASTIC WRAP - otherwise the vinegar will react with the metal in canning jar lids. You don't want this to happen!!!)

Now, we sit and wait. And wait. And wait. The jar needs to be left in a cool, dry, semi-light space for at least one week.
 (If you want to super-speed this process, you can also use the 'sun-tea method'. Just place the herbs in the vinegar, cover, and place in the sun the same way you would to make sun-tea. At the end of the day, just move it to a dark, cool area for an additional 24 hours.) 

Now it's time to strain out the herbs. This is my Pour-Over Coffee Maker. It is perfect for this application too!! 

All bottled up, with some of the original infusing herbs, and a few fresh stems. The new fresh stems will also discolor eventually, but they add some fun! 

See, super easy!! I will do a more in-depth post in the future, but with fresh herbs abounding everywhere right now, you can at least start assembling ingredients and tools. I keep a whole shelf of assorted flavored vinegar's just for the fun it adds to any meal or dish, year round!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Fresh Spaghetti Sauce

Coming from an Italian heritage, with real homegrown, canned gravy (Italians call red pasta sauce gravy), I am a bit choosy about what I put on top of pasta. Each year I plant the herbs and veggies I intend to use for my homemade sauce. This is a more traditional red sauce, that once cooked down, I freeze until ready to use.

Since pasta is a staple meal in our home, I usually run out of frozen sauce long before my own garden produce is ready. This Fresh Spaghetti Sauce fills in the gap.

Fresh Sauce is best when made about an hour before you intend to use it. This provides some time for the flavors to mingle together, and it cuts down on the zap from the garlic. You can whip it up while you're waiting for your pasta water to boil though, if you are short on time.

Fresh herbs are the best to use, but if there is no fresh to be found, you can substitute dried. You can also adjust the quantities to taste.

Fresh Spaghetti Sauce

4-5 Roma Tomatoes, skinned and diced (I never bother with skinning my tomatoes and no one has noticed! You can use a beefier, juicier tomato also)
2 cloves Garlic, minced (I use a garlic press)
3/4 can of whole Black Olives, chopped
3/4-1 c. Olive Oil
Oregano, or 3-4 bunches, minced (use about 1-2 tsp. dried, or to taste)
Sweet Basil, 4-5 very large leaves, minced (use about 1-2 tsp dried, or to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
                                                                 Optional: Fresh Fennel Leaf; Balsamic Vinegar (2 T.) for cold salad

Place all prepared herbs and veggies in a bowl. Pour olive oil over the top. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. That's it! Once your spaghetti has finished cooking, stir the sauce again and then spoon over the top of your pasta. The warmth from the pasta will help release the flavors of the sauce.

This recipe, plus 1 pound of spaghetti feeds my family of 3 dinner, plus leftovers. We prefer this as a hot pasta dish, but it can be made ahead and used as a cold pasta salad with the addition of the Balsamic Vinegar, just prior to the olive oil, and changing to Rotini. Chill and serve.

I have been asked about the quantities provided. This recipe is essentially just a guideline. Adjusting it does not really affect anything other than flavor and quantity of sauce. A beefier tomato will provide more juice and may require more frequent stirring to prevent separation from the oil. I tend to use less olive oil, as I just don't think it needs that much. (Of course, I also don't use a recipe anymore when I make this!)

You can leave out the salt if you are on a low-sodium diet, and increase the amount of herbs. You can add in a tiny bit of fresh fennel leaf for a truer traditional red sauce flavor. You could even mince up some fresh spinach leaves and toss them in! The kids will never know!

Towards the end of our summer growing season, this is also a great recipe for those last few garden veggies you have. Occasionally during the winter months I will make some just for a taste of fresh vegetables since the grocery store always has fresh veggies.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fresh Pineapple Mango Salsa Salad

When the garden begins to produce all those lovely veggies we hoped for, we have to find something to do with the abundance. Often it seems that everything needs harvesting at the exact same time!

Our grocery store has a small greenhouse they set up every year. We don't purchase any of our garden veggies there, BUT, the other day they had them reduced to just 50¢! So we had to grab a few things. I didn't plant any varieties of hot peppers this year, as I still have bags of frozen jalapenos from a few years ago, but with the price I thought I might as well. They had some hot banana pepper plants, so I grabbed the 4 pack that had tiny little banana peppers already started.

Of course, the peppers had to come off so the plants would grow bigger than 2 inches tall. But what to do with 3 bitty peppers? Fresh Pineapple Mango Salsa Salad it would be! Why a salsa salad? Salsa and chutney refer to sauces made of veggies or fruit, that are cooked. We aren't cooking this, and it's not a sauce. You could however cook this down, and you would indeed have a salsa since the ingredients are basically the same.

These tiny peppers still packed a huge amount of zing! When working with hot peppers, I always suggest using gloves while preparing them. If the oil from the peppers gets on your fingers, everything you touch will feel the burn of pepper, so make sure to wash your hands thoroughly (longer than you think you need to) with soap and warm water, and still use caution when touching your eyes! I washed twice, and still managed to have some stuck under a finger nail, which I noticed when I tried to eat a plain piece of pineapple!

I happened to have frozen mango in my freezer, and had just purchased some pineapple chunks for another recipe. You could use fresh of both, but honestly, I found it far easier to just chop up the frozen mango and canned pineapple, then try to peel, core, etc…
Fresh Pineapple Mango Salsa Salad    

1/2 can (20oz) pineapple chunks (about 1/2 cup), drained, cut in half
1/2 cup frozen mango chunks - cut these into smaller pieces
3 tiny banana peppers OR 1/4 to 1/2 of a whole banana pepper, minced
1 clove garlic
3 pinches of dried cilantro OR 3 T. fresh, minced
Salt & pepper to taste.

Mix all ingredients together in serving dish. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 1 hour, or longer, for flavors to meld. Stir and serve! This is great with chips, or you can spoon it over the top of chicken, pork or fish during the last 15 minutes of cooking.

I usually leave this covered in the refrigerator overnight, stirring at least twice more. I also will add some pineapple juice if it seems too dry, or if it's too spicy.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Studio Garden

I am so excited about my (sort of) new project! Years ago while in 4-H I took a project called Flowering Arranging. It was so fun!! As I worked through it, it suggested using dried flowers, and provided examples of flowers you could grow and dry yourself.

That led to my experimenting, and doing more research on flowers to grow. Which led to my discovery of dried herbs, which led to my passion for herbs, which led to learning about essential oils and aromatherapy, which led to a retail store and a passion to pursue natural health, which led to today.

I've been growing and using herbs for over 25 years now. This year, after a season of hard things, healing, and a ton of growth personally, I realized that I am so passionate about so many things it would be hard to choose something specific to focus on as the 'what I want to be when I grow up' mission. Since my daughter graduated, I am no longer a homeschooling mom, which means I now have free time to pursue whatever my heart desires!

With that knowledge, the art side of the Studio moving forward, God providing me with many open doors to walk through, and a deeper understanding of who I am…. I have created 'The Studio Garden', bringing back my passion for 'all things herbal' which was my tag line from my retail store.

The Studio Garden is a place filled with fragrance, beauty, usefulness, and a constant reminder of how amazing it is to be able to grow the very things we use! I've put a ton of work into the herb garden, moved plants, added new, and plan to continue working on creating a space I adore. This garden has existed for just over 16 years, so it has undergone a number of changes. I'm sure I will make many more still this year!

We just added additional patio stones for the table, and have some comfrey being added to the garden

Recipes are being worked on (some of which you have, and will, see this week in my blog), classes and workshops are being planned, unique plants have been added to the gardens, tea time in the herb garden will begin, and all my fave things will be brought out!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Lavender Mint Scones

The Studio garden is filled with an abundance of herbs, and most are thinking they need to flower right now. Once an herb goes to flower, it loses its lush abundance of leaves, and you end up with a leggy, stemmy, plant that wants to reproduce. This does not make for an abundant harvest!

To keep this from happening the plants pruned and flowers removed. But what to do with all these fresh tops? Why use them of course!! I usually dry the majority of them, but this year has been a strange growing year, so I have been using as much of the fresh as I can.

This is a quick and easy recipe that is sure to please everyone in your household and will definitely get your friends talking. My family happens to enjoy lavender flavor, but they are used to eating herbs. You can substitute any herbs or spices you have on hand. I had added some Lemon Balm to these as well, but not quite enough so they were missing the zing of lemon I had hoped for.

My family usually eats a bunch of these when they come out of the oven, slicing and adding butter. They are just as tasty the next day, so one batch does not last long at my house. I store them in an airtight container, unless glazed. If I glaze them, I will leave them on a platter with plastic wrap over them. They get eating quickly enough they don't dry out to much.

Lavender Mint Scones

 2 c. all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. butter (you can use margarine)
1 egg
3/4 c. vanilla yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional, I use vanilla yogurt so I rarely add this)
1 T. fresh mint, minced
                                                                 1 1/2 tsp. dried lavender buds (if you use fresh, double this, so 3 tsp.)
1) Preheat oven to 400°. Grease baking sheet.
2) In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients.
3) Cut in butter until mix resembles coarse cornmeal.
4) In a medium bowl, beat egg. Add in yogurt and herbs. Beat together. 
5) Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms. (This will be very sticky!)

6) Turn dough onto a floured bread board (your counter will work, but flour WELL, as this dough is very sticky!!). Knead dough by hand 10-12 times.
7) Place kneaded dough on baking sheet, patting into an 8" circle. Cut into 8 sections with a floured knife. Do not separate sections. (I use a round biscuit cutter to cut out scones.)

8) Bake 18-20 minutes (less if your create biscuit sized rounds), or until brown on the top.
9) Cool on rack. Separate sections when ready to serve.
10 ) Once cool, store uneaten scones in tightly covered container. They will dry out quickly!

Optional: You can add a glaze by brushing top of scones with heavy cream, and then sprinkling with sugar before baking. You can also mix heavy cream and powdered sugar to create a glaze to brush on after cooling if you would prefer.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What If?

When I was little, growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, my parent's had a large cherry tree in the back yard. We only lived 1 block from a huge park, complete with pool where I took swim lessons. The street we had to cross was extremely busy though, so my dad hung a board from some rope in the tree so I could swing at home.

What joy to swing up into the tree!!! I would stand on that board and pick off cherries from the lower branches. I would lean back and try to touch them with my toes. 

At the park I could swing on a swing set, and look right into the sky. I could fly!! No matter how high I swung, I could never seem to touch the sky or the clouds with my toes. But I could soar and see the tops of some young trees. I was joyful and free!

Now when I sit on a swing set, I realize that I am a little bigger than I used to be, therefore a little less joyful and a little less capable of soaring. Adulthood kills so much joy and fun!

What if that wasn't really true? What if even as adults we could sit and swing, stretching our toes up into the sky trying to touch the clouds? What if we pretended we could fly and soar and find joy in swinging?

Worse is the fact that we live out every day the same way. We don't think we can soar anywhere. We talk ourselves out of flying, simply because, as we try to pretend, we are older and wiser. Of course we can't fly or touch the sky with our toes! We've matured beyond such silliness!

What if we didn't? What if we had that same youthful joy? What if we could have that same youthful spirit? Would we even want it?

What if I told you that you could? What if today was the day you could soar through the tree's, touch the clouds with your toes, stand on the swing and just pick cherries right out of the tree? 

This week, I've bee participating in a book club, for my friend Bonnie's new book, Whispers of Rest.  (You can still join us!!) We are only on Day 9 and already it is messing with so many ideas and notions and thoughts and beliefs!

There has not been one single 'what if' question, yet that is exactly where I find myself. What if I could recapture the joy of childhood? What if life really were less complicated than I choose it to be? What if there was a way to just sit still, or swing, and find joy?

What if we are supposed to stop worrying about being adults and responsible and what others think? What if we are supposed to run through the sprinkler, go play on a swing set, sit and pick out shapes in the clouds? What if we were meant to live lives filled with joy and wonder and simplicity? 

I don't really have an answer yet to all the what ifs. I do know that I am beginning to see a picture of life that goes against everything I ever thought. A life filled with freedom and joy despite the hard things. A life filled with smiles and picnics, despite the weather. A life that is so filled with good, that the bad looks less bad. A life in which we truly can soar!!!!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Being Beloved Amid Whispers of Rest

Y'all, I am so excited for today!!! For the last few weeks, I've been reading an amazing devotional, Whispers of Rest, written by my friend Bonnie Gray.

What better place to read about rest, than in bed!! 

I was blessed to have received an advanced copy to read through and I can honestly say, that is a great thing!

Initially, I was enthusiastic to read it, as I've been on a journey of learning rest and balance. It seemed, just by the title alone, "Whispers of Rest", that this would be a great addition to my journey.

Excitedly I began reading all Bonnie's posts, following her on FB and IG, and watching for some of the information that was coming. It must have been a 'God-thing' that I missed the part of the book, clearly stated, about soul care and God's love.

While these are great additional topics, I got a bit nervous. I've been praying for some pretty big miracles, and some pretty big healing. God had already been responding, so the idea that there might be more was a little scary for me. Do not ask me why, because I couldn't have told you if I tried....and still can't!

Here is one of the quotes I saw :

Eye-opener number 1! I was going to have to explore the idea that I was WORTH rest. Ugh!!! 

Man, talk about messing with me!! Now, read another:

The word beloved really caught in my throat! It seems to carry so much more weight and meaning and value. 

Did you catch it? Jesus ENCOURAGES rest despite being busy!!!!! I like busy, it is distracting from feeling sometimes. And just like that, I realized that God had much bigger plans for me, and that I was indeed going to have to face the idea that He loved me, and I was going to find more healing!

I finally receive the book, and begin courageously reading it. You guys... oh my! I discovered a completely new way of looking at rest, God's love, my value, and so much more! 

Not only could I relate to the idea of allowing 'busy' to be my constant companion, I could also relate to the idea that I had always believed that love came from other words, could God love me just because He did?

I explored flawed ideas about God and myself. I discovered hurts I was hiding from Him. I learned that God can do the most amazing things, if we would just sit and listen for those whispers of love and rest. 

I began to start taking better care of myself, cutting out busy, and really focusing on truths I had previously ignored. Sometimes it is 'easier' to believe a lie, than to believe a truth. Sometimes the shouts are hard to ignore so you can hear the whispers. 

If you are in a season of life where you are feeling tired, drained, overwhelmed, in need of refreshment, I encourage you to take the first intentional step of taking care of yourself - grab this book!

I can honestly say that just spending that few minutes with God every day is a beautiful pause, and it has brought so much joy to my soul!!! 

I invite YOU to join myself and others, for an amazing time of community this June, as we start Book Club! Be sure to visit for all the information and to order YOUR copy of this amazing book and take advantage of all the FREE resources you'll receive!! Invite a friend (or 5) to join you on this journey and find some joy for themselves!! 

Friday, April 7, 2017

When Good Planners Go Bad

Were you aware that there was a 'dark side' in the planning world? Me neither!!! Until recently that is.

First, some background. I began using a Franklin Planner when I was 18. No, I am not kidding. Since then I have used them all, tried them all, and must admit, it is my 2nd favorite of all time. The 1st was my Believer's Life System from Moody Publishers (you can not get this anymore, anywhere, and yes, I have called Moody directly).

Last year I branched out, seeking a more laid-back, creative side to my planning. The Happy Planner was were I landed. This year I've switched about 5 times, and it is only April. I went from Happy to Recollections, to Heidi Swapp, to Carpe Diem, and now you and I are caught up.

Now is also where I discovered the seedy underworld of planners. It really does exist, I swear!!! It all begins when we attempt to locate what is referred to as 'planner peace'. This means we find a system, style, and whatever else, that makes us feel peaceful and organized. This elusive 'planner peace', rarely finds any of us!

Then of course you have a slew of decorations, stickers, stamps, and accessories do decorate, record, sort, organize and beautify our calendars. Plus, systems such as bullet journaling, schedules, dated, un-dated, etc....

Some planners have beautiful layouts and spreads, but few actual to-do lists. Some of us have to-do's so big, we couldn't decorate because there is no space for pretty!

Where does the 'underworld' exist then? Social Media!!!! It is referred to by a nicer name - 'Enabler Alert'. Planner addicts (yes, this is a real thing. No, we feel no shame - we're too busy planning!), post pictures of the newest finds, washi tape, pens, binders, stickers, and everything in between!!!

This leads to an entire group of women, who simply want to create an organized, well-planned life, rushing get to the nearest Hobby Lobby, or Michael's so all the good stuff doesn't disappear before they get there!!!

Confession time - I have gone running to HL or Michael's for the elusive roll of washi tape!!! I couldn't help it - it had coffee cups on it! And there were coffee cup shaped paper clips that matched! And they were 50% off!!! I may also have gone there for a few other when Carpe Diem and The Reset Girl hit Hobby Lobby finally!!! 30 minutes standing in front of a wall of beauty!

Years ago, a brilliant author coined the phrase 'Bad Girls of the Bible' and wrote a book about them. I will now be coining a term myself - "Planner Girls Gone Wild"! This is us!! True addiction in all it's forms converging in the aisle of a craft store, salivating over the new, grinning from ear to ear, and trying to get others to understand this obsession. Welcome to the 'dark side'.

While most of this post is written tongue-in-cheek, there is a certain truth in it all. We strive to find the 'thing' that will help us 'feel' organized. It shouldn't look boring or bare or like our life looks. It should look fun, energetic, and make us feel good about what we spend our time doing. It should also ensure that we don't forget what we're supposed to be doing.

All along the way, we tell each other and ourselves, that we really don't need one more new pen or that roll of washi, all the while, deep down, we know we MUST have it! I think that is why many of us never quite realize 'planner peace' or 'planner bliss'. There really is no good way to take a crazy, messy, chaotic life and world, and neatly fit them into any size binder, regardless of the extension packs offered.

Ladies, there is no perfect planner, just a planner that fits where you are today, in this moment. Maybe tomorrow you will be someplace else, and need something different. Pens and washi will come and go, and we will always chase the elusive planner peace!

By the way - I am in serious happiness mode over my newest planner, a robin egg blue Carpe Diem, with Reset Girl Faith inserts, and some Illustrated Faith sticky notes, and some Happy Planner Faith Planner Stickers. Sigh......

Monday, April 3, 2017

Mommy Needs A Time Out

I remember the day clearly!! I was overwhelmed. My daughter was still fairly young, and had been having what I'll refer to as a 'rough' day.

So rough in fact, that I was quickly losing all patience, reasoning ability, and was going to blow my top! I realized that my precious daughter was in some real danger of having me blow my top in her direction, possibly all over her.

In this moment, mostly to protect her, I looked right at her and said in a measured, quite serious tone, "Mommy needs a time out. I am going to my room now. Do NOT come speak to me, knock on my door, ask me a question, or otherwise bother me unless the house is burning down."

My daughter was stunned, and silently watched as I marched myself up to my bedroom, closed (I wanted to slam, but there was a rule about that, so I followed the rule) the door, and sat on my bed staring at the ceiling, trying to calm myself. I remember saying out loud to the Lord, 'God, help'.

This was also the day I realized that maybe, just maybe, God had shown far greater wisdom than I, by not allowing any more little ones in my world. Surprisingly, this was a comforting thought that day.

Stay-at-home moms are often overlooked when it comes to 'challenging, rewarding career options'. Let me say loudly and clearly - IT IS THE HARDEST, MOST WONDERFUL CAREER EVER! Some days we forget this amidst runny noses, milk shared with fish, toys everywhere, and the sock consuming dryer!

(Can I just take a minute and suggest that the next time you need a break, you send your hubs and littles on a mission? See if they can find the elusive sock monster that lives in the dryer!! Maybe call it something different, but see if they can find it. The hubs can use tools, and the kiddos will clean up all the mess in the laundry room looking!)

Years have passed since the day I took a time out. I have probably only done it four or five times in total during the last 18 years. Most of them around the ages of 7, 13, and possibly I threatened once around 15. My daughter hates it, because she realizes that the depth of my emotion is so great, that she is in super deep trouble.

I wish I could tell you that is was solely because I needed to learn to control my temper, or that the thing(s) she did were so over the top they make great stories now. Nope. It was a culmination of many different factors. The perfect storm if you will.

Now, eighteen years later, I wonder to myself how often God wants to take a time out? Wisdom, which often does come with the years if you allow it, has shown me that I'm sure there are days where His heart is breaking, or His anger is fierce. I have also come to realize that He is God. He loves perfectly. I'm sure His emotional state is much more passionate than mine will ever be!

We can know for certain that God doesn't take timeouts. The bible says He is always near to us, if WE call on His name. That means that any timeouts are coming from our OWN hands, not His. I am so thankful, that even when I've been super naughty, or having an emotional breakdown, God doesn't send Himself to time out!! What joy to know that I can always run to Him, and how thankful am I that He has SO much more patience than I!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Enough With All The Shouting!

I just hate it when God decides that you need to hear something clearly, don't you? Usually it is not on the list of things you wished you were hearing. No, it is usually what HE thinks you should hear.

If it's His idea, and you aren't listening well, have you noticed how loudly He can shout? It never fails that when He wants my attention, there are at least five other people He will recruit to expound. AND He always picks random people, who don't know each other to expound. There are days where I am certain there is a secret conspiracy in which everyone is a part of, on opposite sides of the country, to ensure I hear what God is trying to say. 

When this happens I usually look at whatever ceiling is handy and proclaim loudly - "I GET IT!"

Truthfully, I probably don't actually get it, but I certainly don't need the megaphone from so many different directions….or do I? I guess I must because it has happened a LOT in 2017!

I find it a bit humorous that I get multiple megaphones, because my daughter says God speaks too softly for her to hear, and my hubs says he's not even sure God actually speaks sometimes. So how is it that I can hear all the volumes and words? It is definitely not because I spend time trying to hear all the words. There are a pile of days I would prefer to hear NONE of the words!

I even listen!!! I have been in sit and listen mode for weeks now. It's all I can do!! So why the need for all the shouting? Well, I believe I have some answers, finally, maybe....we'll see.

Let's give it go though, because if these are really answers, than I should share them with others who may also be feeling hard of hearing. 

Answer #1 is that while I have been hearing words, I've not necessarily been listening to what is being said. As a mom, I am able to weed out babble from a child with precision, while still being able to listen well enough not to get caught or to accidentally agree to something I didn't mean too. Apparently I have this same skill when it comes to listening to God. The difference here is that God knows what I'm doing so...

Answer #2 is that the times where I managed to listen to what was being said, I didn't care for it. So I just ignored it. Again, as a mom, this works towards the children. However, if my child chose to ignore my words, well, my words would get a whole lot louder in a hurry. (Here is where you go 'duh Kim, could've told you that! And I go 'yeah, well....') 

Answer #3 is that if the message is repeated that many times, then obviously I am not just supposed to listen, hear and retain, but I am to RETAIN and OBEY! Quick like! Without delay!! Pronto!! 

I shall stop here for a moment, because by now you are feeling like I am feeling....this all sounds exactly like a parent and child. BINGO! I am the child and God is the parent/father/in charge/authority/etc.... I however am an adult, which means I stomp my feet and say stupid things like, 'But I'm a grownup! Quit telling me what to do!' 

On a budding young adult, this looks stupid, but normal. On a grown woman with grey hairs and her own young adult, it's downright ridiculous. 

We have no need for Answer #4 because this pretty much sums it all up. God uses multiple people, multiple ways, and multiple times to ensure we heard, paid attention, retained the information, and intend to obey. If we choose to NOT do any of these things, well, I won't tell you what happens then because it isn't pretty. Just don't do it! 

I wish I could say that it is always pride that causes the foot stomp, but sometimes it's fear. Sometimes it's flat out rebellion, and sometimes it's honestly that I just don't get what it IS I'm supposed to be hearing. That is frustrating beyond all belief. These are the times when I have learned to just stop, sit, listen, and go right back to the Bible with a heart that is ready to really listen and obey. That is when the shouting stops. The soft, still voice speaks, and I find peace. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Friends with Pastors, Part 2

Have you been impatiently waiting for part 2 on sheep? If you are like me, you weren't really! I have a tendency to want to avoid any mention of how I am prone to behave at times. Those short-comings and flaws that I would prefer to have hidden away keep me from looking forward to hearing about them!

However, I did say in Part 1 how 'sheep' like we as Christians are. Today I am going to expand a bit. Sheep graze and follow each other around. They wander away from the group. They get angry when you try to shear them. The tend to just keep their heads down, eat their grass, and wander.

My favorite breed of dog is the Shetland Sheep Dog. They were bred to herd sheep. Their whole job is to keep the sheep together and help the shepherd move them, as a group, from once place to another. My Shelties live with my family. They have no sheep or little children to herd. So, they spin in circles, and put a lot of effort into convincing ME that I "need" to be herded to wherever they think I should be. When my nephews visit, they routinely try to herd them towards their parents. This is actually hysterical to watch!!!

This past summer we took my Sheltie Mira out to my parent's house for an afternoon. She broke the "no dogs on the pool deck" rule as she got very nervous about my one year old nephew walking around. Every time he got near the edge of the deck, she would place herself between him and the step or the edge (it has a large, open stairway the width of a smaller deck). She hovered as he played in the 1" of water in the baby pool. She followed and circled him as he walked through the yard. He is only 1 and fairly containable. Now imagine trying to 'herd' a bunch of adult humans.

Pastors are often referred to as the 'shepherds' of God's children, or flock. We are often just like real sheep. Pastors then must behave like my Shelties. They must circle around the people, keeping them moving in the direction God has said to move. They must go rescue the 'stray' folks, keep the others grouped together, and watch for wolves.

I've heard sermons about shepherds and what their job looks like. Maybe if you only have 50 sheep you can manage it on your own. If you have 1,000 sheep, you have dogs to help. The shepherd trains his herding dogs. He also starts with dogs that are specifically bred for their natural herding instinct.

There are a ton of people who want to be the leaders of others. They want people to see them as mature, capable, strong in their faith, competent, etc… They want to be in charge because they "know" what needs to be done. Some of us were created to lead. Some of us were not.

We as believers spend far too much time attempting to position ourselves to appear a certain way. We spend a ridiculous amount of time vying for attention and fame and position. We seem to think we know better than everyone else. I think I could stop writing right here and we would all be happy. Who really wants to be called a sheep anyway?

The thing is, all of us sheep become the responsibility of the pastor. Unlike real sheep (you know, the animals), we use other people to get to the pastor. Or we bad mouth him and his staff. Or we treat people differently based on what we think will get us closer to him. Or we get cliquey.

I once had a pastor friend give me a list of things I should make sure not to tell anyone else about his family's home life, simply because he didn't want anyone to judge him….and it was all nonsensical stuff that no one should have cared about anyway!

We want our pastor's to survive on no pay, be available 24/7, live as paupers as proof of their commitment to God, while we want bigger houses, nicer cars, and more comfortable chairs to sit on. We whine and complain about how they do their job, while standing in judgement of them. If only we were as content to just walk around eating grass, and laying in the field all day like the animals.

We complain when they attempt to herd us back towards God. We complain when they use the word sin. We whine about how they don't meet our needs, make us more comfortable, and on goes the list.

We place unrealistic expectations on leaders in the church, then get mad when they fail to live up to our ideals. If I was judged as harshly as most of my pastor friends, I am not sure I would survive it well. I would be tempted to tell a few people off, and certainly would not want to kindly pray for them!! (Here is also why I DO NOT and WILL NOT do counseling or Pastor on Call. I have limited patience for constant whining!)

So to be friends with a pastor, means dealing with all of the other sheep. The judgements, the false friends, the wanderers, the social climbers, the everyone. It means listening to, and sometimes wishing you hadn't heard, the whispers and murmurs and judgements. This is hard friends. It's hard enough to be a sheep that doesn't always go along with the crowd, but it is super hard to be the sheep that has to listen to all the others complain about the shepherd! It hurts! 

Dreams Come True

Yesterday on my Instagram account, I shared two bible journaling pages I had done, after reading through a devotional on Joseph and dreams coming true. It was part of the newest Bible Journaling Kit from Illustrated Faith & Dayspring, called 'A Heart That Receives'. (I've provided the links to both!)

Usually when I am bible journaling, there is a specific verse or paragraph to focus on. Yesterday was 10 chapters expounding the life of Joseph. I found a place to start however, and then found an additional verse, Romans 8:28, that fit well.

It wasn't so much the "Life and Times of Joseph" that spoke to me, but how the Message Bible translated Romans 8: "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along….He knows us far better than we know ourselves…. (verse 28) That's why we can be so sure that EVERY DETAIL in our lives of love for God is worked into something good….God knew what He was doing from the very beginning."

At the end of Joseph's very overwhelming story (up to this point) he tells his brothers that it was God who was in charge all along. Despite their feeble attempts to get him out of the way because of their own jealousy, God worked out every detail to ensure that Joseph's dreams came true.

When we read Romans, we can see how this happened. I'm certain that Joseph had days where he grew tired in the waiting. I'm sure when he felt overwhelmed by his circumstances he wanted to complain, cry, and ask God how a pit, a jail cell, and a false accusation were going to help him accomplish anything good, let alone arrive as the solution to a future problem!

What kept catching me, was how often I believe that my circumstances are overwhelming. How often to I question the purpose of the pit and how it will get me anywhere? In my faith journey, I've had many, many of my own versions of a 'pit'.

Currently, I'm walking through one of the most challenging times so far. In the midst of a health situation that is costing me independence, activity, and some days my sanity, I question how this will bring any glory to God….and how it can possibly be an aid in any dream He gave me coming true. In the moment, it seems to be a stop sign, or a bottomless pit. A no-win situation which is quickly leading me to a solitary confinement of my room (read jail cell, because some days it feels like one!).

However, IF, and sometimes it is a definitive "if", God is in all the details, shouldn't I be rejoicing in this time and making the most of it? Joseph used his time in jail to impact the lives of others. Paul did the same thing from his prison cell. Do I? Do we?

The last few weeks I have questioned the dreams God laid on my heart many years ago. I've questioned the direction, the calling, the tasks, and just about everything else! I've cried out to Him in my frustration over being stuck in a bed. I've whined about how I don’t see any purpose for all this yuck, that some days is so overwhelming, I spend the day just battling for my thoughts!

Here is where this section of journaling became so important. Before we get to verse 28 in Romans, Paul likens our faith to pregnancy.Now I have been pregnant. At the beginning of my pregnancy I was ecstatic! I was finally pregnant!! It had been a struggle to get there so I was beyond thrilled! Then morning nausea hit, and everyone said it would pass (it didn't - it turned into all day queasy). I started to gain weight and have braxton hicks contractions, everyone said it would pass (this too did not pass - notice a theme here of things that others said would pass that never did? This continued for the whole rest of the 18 year journey I've taken with my child! Now it is finally starting to pass as she is grown(ish) up!). I started to get bigger, and bigger, and bigger…well, my abdomen did. I looked like I consumed the largest football you had ever seen!! I have a picture, and it’s a straight shot out the front!! 30 pounds of extra all in the front.

I was uncomfortable, heavy, and SO ready to be done being pregnant by the end! Paul says that our faith, like a pregnancy, is filled with waiting that we know will result in our dream…. A delivery of a baby! That part wasn't a whole lot more fun than pregnancy, if I'm honest! But I had my baby, a beautiful little 7 1/2" pound girl. Holding her in my arms finally, was so worthwhile! The snuggles and cuddles and all that baby goodness!!!! I had always known my pregnancy wouldn't last indefinitely….and Paul says neither will our waiting in faith!

If we spend our days focused on the pit, or the nausea, or the overwhelming circumstances that seem to be derailing our dreams and hopes, we've missed the point entirely. We should instead be focusing on the end result - the baby, the provision, the dream becoming reality. If it takes longer that we think it 'should', maybe we should remember that God is right there and KNOWS us better than we know ourselves. He knows when it's time to give birth to the child AND the dream!

Take heart friends!! There is a day coming when we will ALL celebrate the dreams God laid on our hearts coming true…if they are of Him and for Him. That is the only catch. I wanted to be a mom, and I am. I was only given one beautiful child to keep and raise, not the many I dreamed of. Two beautiful babies are already with God, but I am just as much a mom with one to raise as I would be with 3. I am just as blessed, just as content, just as thankful. I see that God answered my prayers, allowed my dream to come in His time, and according to His plan. It is still the dream come true, just His way, not mine. And that is okay.

Today, I will choose to remind myself that this too shall pass. That the end of the waiting WILL come, and it will be every bit as amazing as I hope it will be!! I use this time to learn all I can about the dream. (PS - I used my time being pregnant to learn about being a mom. I can use this time to learn more about my dream!)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hello Spring and New Products

I know there is supposed to be a second part to my last post, BUT, I am putting it on hold for now. I've been back down for the last little bit, as I caught something, so my remission plans took a slight detour.

To highlight how off-track it pushed me....I thought tomorrow was the 1st day of spring so I'm officially 2 days off schedule for a pile of things! Sigh......

However, what that means is that on this beautiful, sunny, 60 degree 1st day of spring, I get to launch our NEW products!!! I am so excited!!!

Since I have been down for a bit, I've had nothing but time to get clear, focused, and moving towards what I know is God's plan for me and for the Studio. Ready??

I adore so many things, and like most everyone, realize that not all pretty things are needed, I have focused on high quality, handcrafted, inexpensive ways for people to be encouraged and TRY new things.

I am releasing a line of one-of-a kind, hand painted, water color notebooks. Sized for Traveler's Notebooks, each of these notebooks are made to capture a moment, and give you the chance to see if bullet journaling is a great fit for you!

Next on the list is Planner Jewelry!! I've added some Planner Charm Chains so you can decorate your planner for every season, week, occasion, etc... New charms have also been added to customize!

There are more goodies waiting to be revealed throughout this week!!! In the meantime, be sure to head over to our Studio Shop Website for some great deals on Spring Clearance items! Things are marked down to 80% off!!!!

I will resume my regular blog posts next week!

Stuffed Mushrooms

'Tis the season for baking, cooking, roasts, etc… The cold weather always leads me into my kitchen, with a need to create hot, warm, fi...