Saturday, December 31, 2011

Forging into the New Year, Reflecting on 2011 Posts

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The new year is about to begin!  It is hard to believe!  The Christmas season always seems to fly, leaving just a hint of time to start squeaking out a list of hopes and dreams for the new year.  This week we were endowed with the beloved stomach “flu” -  yes, our entire household, except for our niece who was probably thankful she was visiting elsewhere!  I haven’t had much time to regroup this week, but I AM looking forward to starting a new year.  Starting something fresh, with a clean slate, always feels good.

As we head into the new year, I thought I would review some of my posts from this past year to fuel us.

May you be blessed as you reflect upon the many blessings you have had this year and look forward to what God has in store for the future!

Personal Growth:

Marriage:

Motherhood:

Cooking:
Cake Extravaganza (included Confetti Cake, Ice Cream Sandwich Cake, Chocolate Cakes, Red Velvet Cake, Yellow Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter Wacky Cake, “Better Than a Hug” Cake, Root Beer Float Cake, and Sour Cream Banana Cake)

Homeschooling:
Homeschool Curriculum Review (included Math in Focus, Spelling Power, Spelling Workout, Horizons Math, Bob Jones English, God’s Design for Science, and First Language Lessons)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Have a very Merry Christmas!

May you be blessed with joy, rest, and peace as you celebrate the Savior of the world!

The Jefferies 267-2

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Remember Those Who Are Suffering This Christmas

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This Christmas I am reminded that so many people suffer.

Many suffer with grief as they remember their loved ones who have passed on.

Many suffer from loneliness.

Many suffer from poverty.

Many suffer with broken hearts.

Many suffer from devastation, like our friends and their acquaintances who live in the Philippines who just lived through a terrible flood.

While so many of us “have it good” this Christmas as we shop, wrap, sing, cook, and celebrate, there are many around us who suffer. 

Please remember them!

Send a card or a simple note.

Make a phone call.

Send money or tangible goods.

Schedule a visit.

Ask God what He wants you to do to help someone.

Most of all, pray for God to be with those who suffer.

What Are Your Children Believing in This Christmas?

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Today I was discussing Christmas with someone, and her young son was nearby.

“Do your children still believe?”, she whispered.

At first, I had to stop and think…  “What is she talking about?”

My initial internal response, being a Christian, was that she was asking me if my children believed in God.  I asked her to repeat herself.  Oh yeah, got it!  She means do they believe in Santa?  “Um, no.”  That was my gracious response. 

My children know about Santa.  They know he is fictitious.  Some would say this “ruins” their Christmas, but for us, we believe it deepens their Christmas experience. 

For us, Christmas is about God sending Jesus Christ, His Son, to earth to save us from our sins.  Songs like “O Holy Night” and “How Great Our Joy!” actually mean something very special to us!

We do not want our spiritual celebration to be overshadowed by Santa Claus.  We want our children’s focus to be on Jesus Christ and what He can do for them.

We believe it is a blessing for our children to know that their gifts are coming from parents, relatives, and friends who love them.

We want them to know that we are blessed to give (and receive) because we have received from our God in heaven.

We want them to celebrate God’s gift of Jesus Christ – the greatest gift of all!

I ask you -

What are your children believing in this Christmas?

In whom do their hopes and dreams lie?

Santa or Jesus?

Who has been the focus of their hearts the past few weeks?

Santa or Jesus?

If you are a Christian family, I encourage you to diminish the teaching of Santa in your home and uplift and esteem the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!

Think about what your children are believing this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Your Personal Celebration of Christmas

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All over the world there are discussions as to HOW to celebrate Christmas.  Topics include gifts, parties, donations to charity, decorations, etc…  Someone like me can feel overwhelmed in trying to create the perfect holiday.

In the end, the choice is up to you as to how you observe Christmas.  The celebration of Christmas is just that – a celebration, a personal reflection of the values and desires of your heart.

Some may choose to celebrate by keeping things simple and humble.  Others think it is important to glam things up a bit (or a lot!) and give abundantly. 

Some may attend every Christmas event possible while others may choose a select few events to keep their lives more doable during this season.

Whatever you decide to do, be confident in your decision.

Have peace!

This is YOUR celebration of Jesus. 

The season of Christmas should heighten our lives not drain them.

Are your activities lining up with the way you desire to celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ?

May your life be blessed as you attempt to keep in step with the meaning of Christmas – peace, holiness, generosity, fellowship, and joy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Happenings!

Christmas is finally happening at
“The Cozy Nook”!
All over Blog World, people have been talking about Christmas for weeks now!  Here at “The Cozy Nook”, I’ve just been living life and trying to squeeze in Christmas here and there.  With Christmas only less than a week away, it is time to get serious!
Although my blog hasn’t shown it, I *have* been preparing for and celebrating Christmas!
A couple weeks ago I went to a friend’s house for a very lovely time of fellowship.  We ate delicious food, filled our need for friendly companionship, and exchanged gifts with each other.
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All of the food was extremely tasty, and I made a cookie dough dip that was divine.  If you follow me on Pinterest, I’ve got the recipe pinned on my “Food” board.  Otherwise, you can find the recipe here
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My children made homemade gift tags by recycling old Christmas cards that a relative had given to us. 
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We also made Christmas wreath cookies, and my son wanted to shape some of them into trees. 

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Of course, I put up my Christmas tree.  Brian and I surprised the kids one night, by bringing home a precious fir tree after an evening out together.  I love my tree!


 

 


What have you been doing to prepare for Christmas?

I’d love to hear from you.  Let me know what you’ve been doing by leaving a comment below or on my Facebook page.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Confetti Cake Pops

IMG_0419-1I made confetti cake pops with my daughter a couple weeks ago to celebrate her birthday, and we enjoyed our time creating them!  The cake pops were a great alternative to cake, since we had already eaten “real” cake with her friends a few days before her actual birthday.

If you are looking for a treat to make this Christmas season – for a special gathering,  as a gift, or just to have some fun in the kitchen, I would recommend these!

Confetti Cake Pops

9x13 pan of confetti cake

1/2 recipe of Swiss Meringue frosting

2 bags of candy melts

lollipop/cookie sticks (~50)

sprinkles of your liking

For an excellent video on how to make cake pops, check out Bakerella’s video here!  That is where I learned to do the following…

First, make the cake.  After it has cooled, divide it into four sections and crumble into crumbs.

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Mix the crumbs and the frosting in a large bowl.  Then shape into balls. Place them on a tray, covered with wax paper, into the freezer for about 15 minutes.  Then place the tray in the refrigerator until you are ready to dip the cake balls.

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Melt the candy melts following the instructions on the bag.  Note:  I used a double boiler.  If you do this, you must adhere to the instructions carefully.  You must put water (below the top pot level) in the bottom pot and heat alone.  Once the water is simmering, remove pot from heat.  THEN, place the top pot on top with candy melts inside.  Stir continually for a few minutes until melted.

Place the end of a stick into the melted candy, about one half inch.  Then insert into a cake ball.  Tenderly dip the cake ball into the melted candy, until well-covered.  Gently tap off excess by tapping on your hand that is holding the stick rather than the stick itself to be careful not to lose the ball on the end of your stick! 

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Splatter sprinkles of your choice upon the cake balls.

Allow treats to dry uprightWe used tall glasses.

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You can purchase treat bags and ribbons to place atop the cake balls if you would like to gift them once they are dry.  We did this for my niece’s basketball team, and they absolutely loved them.  ~smile~

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~ Enjoy! ~

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Are You Dating Your Husband?

The Jefferies 144

Today is the 14th anniversary of my engagement to my beloved husband.  It is a special day that brings back special memories.  I think of the wonder in our relationship at that time, the awe we had for one another, the butterflies in my stomach, and the love that filled the air!  What a joyous time!

Here and now, we are lucky to make it through each day – or so it seems.  We are raising five children – from teen to toddler, homeschooling our children, juggling my hubby’s hectic job, serving at our church in multiple ways, and trying to live life as God calls us to live.  Life is definitely full and busy!  In the midst of everything, it is easy to lose the fervor in our marriage relationship.  When the days are full of more than enough “care” for each day, evenings are spent separate - focusing on our various duties, and the day closes with a wish that “we could end the day together, and he would get more than four hours of sleep each night”, closeness suddenly seems so distant. 

However, as I reflect upon this wonderful day – the day I betrothed myself to the man I love, I realize once again that I need to remember to date my husband.

No, I don’t have to escape the four walls of my home to do this precious task.  I can simply start within the secret places of my heart.

I can start with a wonderful, respectful attitude that praises my husband and longs to be with him.

I can overlook his faults and our differences and love him utterly and thoroughly.

I can look for small (and big) ways to bless him each and every day of our lives together.

Are you dating your husband?

Make sure you add that to your Christmas “to do” list!

May God help us be superb wives who have intimate and awesome relationships with our husbands – relationships upon which the world will look and see Christ and His church.

Ephesians 5:31-33

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sweet Treats–Homemade Gumdrops and a Spectacular Chocolate Cake

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My daughter’s birthday usually starts the process of making fun goodies, taking us through the holiday season.  A couple weeks ago we made homemade gumdrops.  They were fun to try.

You can find the recipe here at “Bakerella”. 

When we made the gumdrops,

we put them in a mini loaf pan to set.

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That worked well for us.  Our pan was non-stick, so the molds came out quite easily.

The recipe says to let the mixture set overnight in the refrigerator before you cut and coat the pieces with sugar.  We let it set about eight hours throughout the day, and that did not seem to be enough.  After our first coating of sugar, the gelatin started to melt a bit after a while.  I put the pieces back in the frig. for several more hours and then coated the pieces again, since the sugar seemed like it had dissolved or something.  All of this to say, I would recommend a long overnight set – like 12 hours or more – before cutting and coating!

We used lemon extract, almond extract, and vanilla extract to flavor the gumdrops.  Almond was voted as the favorite with lemon a close second. 

For my daughter’s birthday cake, we wanted something with the deep, vibrant colors of autumn.  We found a cake d├ęcor that we loved via “RecipeGirl” that looked too good to be true for us chocolate lovers.

First we made a Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake with applicable frosting.

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Then….

Then….

Then!!!

We added Kit Kats around the border and filled the top of the cake with M&M’s.

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Doesn’t it look so colorful and magnificent?

If you are planning to make a birthday cake for Jesus this year, maybe this is the one!  ~smile~

(Coming soon! – Funfetti Cake Pops)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Keeping the End in Sight

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A few weeks ago we started remodeling our family room.  It is a project we wanted to do.  It is a project for which we thought we were ready.  It is a project where we thought we could “stick to the budget”. 

However, now that it has begun, life seems to be a bit disheveled, and I am having a hard time keeping a good attitude.

You see, this “little” project has affected our lives tremendously.  It is costing us more time and money than we were planning. We included a couple add-ons, like moving a doorway over, extending our kitchen floor, and redoing our fireplace.  Those additions are bringing about extra projects, like replacing the kitchen floor since we now have an extension built onto it!

As with most projects, we ran into various glitches along the way.  One problem we found was a water leakage into our wall and fireplace area.  Fun!

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Today I came home from a day at the homeschool co-op, only to find a thick layer of dust from the drywall sanding covering the entire family room and kitchen floors.  There is also a thin coating of dust covering my kitchen area, including *clean* dishes, past the plastic “walls” that were put up to protect it.  Yes, this project is affecting other rooms of my house now, as the dirt and debris travels through the air and upon soles of feet.

Through all of this, I have to tell myself to keep the end in sight!  It can be very discouraging to live through this – with so much mess, items scattered around my house waiting for their “home” to be finished, and a non-functioning, crucial room.

If I can somehow remember what the end will look like, I can bear up under this extra pressure right now.  I can clean the dust with joy.  I can justify the extra time and money we are pouring out.

My mind starts to spin, and I think about how this applies to life itself – particularly when things come our way, and we aren’t quite prepared for all they bring to our lives.

God is wise, and He knows all.

He sees the end of everything.

He knows our situations and plans them carefully so they bring about the fruit He desires.

If you are going through something in your life right now, trust God!  Remember that even in situations where we *d0* know the end, it can be very difficult to live them out.  All the more, we must trust our God and know that He loves us, cares for us, and sees a good end!

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.