Wednesday, January 31, 2024

quiet time check in/accountability


Happy Wednesday, friends, and welcome to my Wednesday bonus post. This year at the end of each month, I'm going to share an accountability update for you here on my blog about my Bible reading. I am not bragging, I promise, I'm only here for the accountability. I hope you're inspired in this and that you either chime in here in the comments, or that you do something similar on your own blog. Even if one person reads this (I'm looking at you, Bill), it'll be worth the extra time it takes to write this. 

This year, I'm reading the Bible in chronological order again, this time with The Bible Recap community. I started with them back in the fall of last year when they made it to the New Testament, and I loved it so much that I just started all over again on January 1, in the Old Testament. So far we've completed the books of Genesis and Job. One thing that Tara Leigh Cobble (TLC) says in her daily podcast is that we should be looking for the character of God (or the daily God shot) as we read. I have been doing that and thought I'd share some of what I've written in my journal this year in the two books we've finished and the third we just started.

I've seen God as Creator. He gave us breath and life, stars and sunlight, flowers and flakes of snow. His creation is beautiful, but only He is to be praised, never his creation.

I've seen God as faithful to His word. When He said (says as we read today) that He would do something, He always followed through. 

I've seen God as merciful, like when He knew that Adam and Eve had sinned against Him, and He provided coverings for them to cover their nakedness in the Garden of Eden.

I've seen God as patient, as He listened to Job and his friends drone on and on (and on and on and on).

I've seen Him as compassionate as He offered to be Moses' mouth to speak to the Egyptians. 

I've seen God as gracious in giving everything to His people that they ever needed. 

I've seen Him as Promise Keeper as He fulfilled His promise to Abraham. 

I've seen Him as loving as He longed for His people to obey His words. 

I've seen Him as holy, as He appeared to Moses from within a burning bush. He was in a flame of fire, but the bush was never consumed with the blaze! 

I've learned so much about Him this year as I've read, even though I've read the Bible from cover to cover at least ten times. That's the thing about His word that makes it living and active—my pastor says that this means that as you're reading it, it is reading you, which is why new things jump out at you all the time. Maybe you don't know the Lord at all, but your curiosity is peaked; this for you, as well! Get to know Him through His word! The Bible is composed of 66 books, written by men that were inspired by God. His words were written to the people in that time, and for us today. If you want more information or are have questions, don't hesitate to reach out to me here in the comments or in an email. My email address is I don't have all the answers, I assure you, but I'm glad to help out anyway I can. I can Google and research with the best of them!

If you're interested in joining in, all you do is download the YouVersion Bible app to your phone, and once you're there and have created an account, search for "The Bible Recap" with the blue logo. It's easy; you read the short devotional, which is not a devotional, but a prayer prompt, then you read, then you go back to the devotional part of each day and watch the ten minute long (at most) video to accompany that day of reading. You'll never be sorry! I read it sometimes, and other times I listen to it being read to me while I follow along in my Bible. You don't have to purchase anything special, but there are other resources that are available for you, if you're interested. 

Are you reading the Bible by a plan right now? I love the saying that if you don't follow a plan, you can plan to fail. It's true with Bible reading! I am all about following a plan to keep myself on track. I am not one to play "Bible roulette" and just open it to any old place and read and then be done for the day. I do know at least one person like that, and it works for her, but for most of us I would say that isn't the case. I'd love to hear about your own quiet time! Thanks for reading my thoughts this afternoon. Love to all! 

what's up Wednesday


Happy Wednesday, friends! I'm joining in with Sheaffer and Shay for today's blog post. I'll jump right in! 

What we're eating this week

This week is hit or miss with our meals. We've all been sick, and things just don't taste the same, you know? I made skyline chili on Monday night, an old favorite of ours. Todd loved it, and I felt kind of meh about it; maybe it was just because my throat hurt and it felt like that set it on fire? I'm not sure, but regardless, he can have all the leftovers. Last night I made a giant stockpot of chicken and rice soup. Nothing tastes as good as this to me, when I'm sick. I'll be eating this for the rest of the week, most likely. I also bought some baking potatoes so that we can have baked potatoes with all the toppings one night. 

In case you're not familiar with this, you eat skyline (Cincinnati) chili over spaghetti and with shredded cheese on top. You can also top with onions to make it four way. (How we ate ours was three way.) I think there are five ways? 

On that same night, I made Dorito chicken casserole for the guys at home. I lightened it up with less fat cream of chicken soup, and cottage cheese. Don't tell them! They devoured this over rice.

This is my Dutch oven ready to boil the chicken and to put that amazing homemade stock to good use in the chicken and rice soup. I like to use cilantro lime rice to liven the flavors up. After this, I drain all the stock over my stockpot, I cut up the chicken, add the cooked rice, and let it simmer to combine all the flavors for another ten or fifteen minutes. 

What I'm reminiscing about

I'm not reminiscing in the sense that I miss being like this, but yesterday at work I was thinking about how far I've come in my job. I have messed up a couple of times recently on the register when I was distracted, but both times I've been able to correct the mistake. This could be me missing a credit card slip when I'm totaling up for the weekly deposit, or me entering in the wrong denomination or form of payment. I feel so much more confident in my abilities than when I first started! 

What I'm loving

I loved seeing the sunshine yesterday! It felt so good to sit at my kitchen table and write this post with sun streaming in on me. I am glad to see our yard drying out, too. After all the snow that stuck around for so long, it essentially rained all of last week, and though we're still not letting the dogs into a certain area of the yard, it's looking much better than it was a week ago. 

What I've (we've) been up to

I feel like I've been cooking a lot this week, and maybe it's because I have! I've also been keeping up with the other things at home and trying to maintain somewhat of a semblance of a clean house. I'll be honest here and admit that my nerves are getting frayed in this area. Tonight someone else is going to do the cleaning and vacuuming!

What I'm dreading

Isn't it wonderful to say that I'm not dreading anything? I've been looking back on memories of this week last year, and I was just starting my new full time job. I loved it so much, but over time, I was dreading more and more with it, because I was falling behind in every other area. I'll never forget one morning in my third or fourth week, that I had a major panic attack. I was being let loose in terms of making my own lesson plans, and though I did alright in this area, I did come to dread that. I also dreaded all of the state testing! I only mention this to say how thankful I am that I am not dreading anything in life right now. I don't take that lightly! 

What I'm working on

I need to be working on our house! So many spaces need to be cleaned out and organized, but I can't seem to make myself do that. I have no idea why! 

What I'm excited about

I am always excited about a new month. I am also looking forward to a family night soon! I'd love to cook, but we have a couple of gift cards that we need to use as well, and I can see us doing that sometime soon. 

What I'm watching/reading

I'm watching new Hallmark movies and old episodes of Friends and Grey's Anatomy. Yesterday I posted about the books I read in January. Click here to see it! 

What I'm listening to

Currently, I'm listening to dryer run, Jonah eating an early dinner, and Todd watching a show on Netflix.

What I'm wearing

This week it's been a lot of comfy clothes. It was warm here yesterday, so I was struggling to find something to wear. I took a picture of what I wore, but it wasn't my favorite. 

What I'm doing this weekend

Hopefully not what I was doing last weekend! I'm hoping to feel better this weekend, and get back to my normal weekend things that I love. 

What have you been up to lately? I'd love to hear! Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all!

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

the books I read in January (2024)


Happy Tuesday, friends! It was a good month of reading for me; January usually is, though. I feel like I always get the year off to a strong start. That was the case this month! Just a reminder: each picture contains a link to the book being talked about, so when you click on it, you'll be taken straight to Amazon. Happy reading!

First up was this book by a new-to-me author. 

The tag-line for this book asks the following question: How would you live your life if you knew the date you would die? That is the case for Olivia Strauss, when she finds out that date at an eccentric wellness clinic that her best friend takes her to on her birthday. Olivia was already feeling a little down-in-the-dumps regarding her age because of her well-meaning neighbors that she gets together with each month, but after meeting with the doctor at this clinic, she is questioning everything. For the next few months after her birthday, Olivia spends a lot of time thinking and reflecting on her life, and making some much needed changes. 

I loved the reminder that we should really cherish each day that we're given. I always jokingly say things like, "Life is too short to read a book that I don't love", or "Life is too short to drink mediocre coffee that doesn't taste like I want it to", but really...I'm not joking when I say things like that. This book made me think of those statements and more about things I'm doing just because, and not for any other good reason. I also always appreciate the reminder to cherish the relationships we have in our lives. I truly believe this and try to live life that way! My family and friends are some of God's greatest blessings to me! 

That being said, this was not a Christian book, and there were a few words that I had to skim past, but other than that it was a pretty clean read. I also see spiritual pictures in things that I am watching, listening to, or reading, so that's why I felt the way I did about the themes in this book. Also, and not to keep dwelling on this, but anytime I experience the death of a loved one, I become contemplative. At the time I read this book, I'd experienced two of those in the previous nine months. 

Next up was another book by a new-to-me author.

Quincy-the-Quitter has been teased by her family members one too many times. She can't help the fact that she was born into an extremely competitive family, and that she wasn't made the same way. As she opens her Christmas gifts and she hears her family share about their annual Christmas Commitments (goals they strive for all year long), and a new competition for a coveted position within the family business, she accepts their challenge of being considered for it if she'll go back and complete the last ten years' worth of failed attempts at trying new things over the course of a year. At the top of that list was moving to NYC for three months, and living with her best friend from childhood, Brynne. As she embarks on something new and exciting, it turns into something so much more than just a silly childhood competition. 

I never want to give away too much description about a book, because I want you to decide for yourself whether or not you want to read something. I had a lot of thoughts about this book! First, I loved it and the fact that it was set in the new year. I feel like it's rare to read a book during that time frame, but you know how much I love a seasonal book! Secondly, there were so many great things/sayings in this book that I highlighted. I love how the main character transformed throughout the book and how kindness was at the center of the story. Even if this book was bit "Hallmark-y", it also felt deeper than that, which I loved. It was very clean and predictable, which I never mind, and there were scenes in the book when I laughed out lout. I also loved that there were two very endearing pets in the story that were very loveable. You should check this out for yourself! If you're a Kindle Unlimited person, you can read it there right now for free. 

Next up was an advanced copy of a book that will be released this summer, by one of my favorite authors of all time. Reading one of Pamela's books feels like coming home to a cozy and welcoming environment after a long, stressful day. I love how the theme in her books always have to do with family, friendship, and food. 

This is a book about two sisters, Hannah and Sarah. After Hannah is hospitalized because of a medical issue, when her sister invites her to come home to Chatham, Massachusetts for the summer, it's impossible for her to resist. Her only holdup is that she's afraid that the absence of their mom will make her even more sad than she already is. For that reason, she decides not to go to her belated mom's house, but to stay the summer with her aunt Maggie. As a writer, Hannah is feeling pressured to finish her book by the deadline she has agreed to; she's hoping that this retreat in Chatham will inspire her once again. Sara has her own problems with her chaotic life; she loves her husband and their four kids, but she is feeling trapped at the same time and in need of a personal change in her life. She decides to go back to work part-time, but things seem to crash in around her just as she makes that decision and is hired at the local bookstore. Their aunt has her own life troubles to deal with, so the summer together will do all of them some good. 

I loved reading about the family dynamics in this book, and as always, Pamela writes in such a way that I can see and imagine the setting that she so wonderfully depicts. All of her books feel comforting to me, and this charming book did not disappoint. 

Next up was another book by another new (to me) author.

This is a nostalgic tale of two families who own two different restaurants: the decades-old Lakeside Supper Club, and Jorby's, the chain family style diner that is well known in the Midwest. This is a story about a couple who has inherited two different restaurants; one is bleeding money by the day, and the other is run by someone who has little to no business sense. When tragedy strikes their family, all of their dreams are dashed. Can one family find a way to rebuild despite their losses? Will the Lakeside Supper Club be their salvation? Here's what Good Reads said about this book: "In this colorful, vanishing world of relish trays and brandy Old Fashioneds, J. Ryan Stradal has once again given us a story full of his signature honest, lovable yet fallible Midwestern characters as they grapple with love, loss, and marriage; what we hold onto and what we leave behind, and what our legacy will be when we are gone."

Next up was yet another author whose books I have never read. I read this one with Shay's book club that she is hosting on her blog the 22nd of every month in 2024. 

Kate is dealt a hand that no young wife and mom should ever be given: she is widowed at far too young of an age. Two years after the death of her young husband, she is grieving, parenting alone, working like crazy at a job that she loves, and she is constantly dropping the ball; somehow she does all of this while clinging to her sense of humor. With a best friend who is obsessed at finding her someone to love again and an upcoming work trip, the tone is set when she has a near panic attack next to her boss while they're on their way to a work thing. When they encounter a problem on the plane, stranding them on a beach in Australia for the weekend, she finally has the chance to grieve her late husband while she is away from their young son. Will she finally be able to let go of the love of her life and see what is right in front of her? When it becomes clear that (her boss and best friend) Hugh is hiding something, she turns to a trail of scribbled notes she once used to hold her life together.

I had #allthefeelings in this book. I laughed out loud; I cried; I cringed and I sighed in content. Somehow, the description that I mangled together myself and with the help of Good Reads does not do this book the justice that it deserves. This is one of those books that I will be thinking about long after I finished the final paragraph. I love this author, though, and I have plans to pre-order her next book that will release this year. This is the first adult fiction novel that she has written, and it was worth every penny that I spent to have it delivered to my Kindle. 

Lastly this month, I read The Book Club Hotel by Sarah Morgan.

This was a very sweet story about three friends who get away every year for a book club week long vacation. This year they all wondered why Erika chose the location she did; it was out of the normal city hotel that she normally picks. They all fell in love with the charming bed and breakfast the minute they pull up, and the innkeeper and her daughter help seal the deal. Hattie, the owner, almost immediately notices that Erika, Claudia, and Anna are checking into her inn with more than just what's in their suitcases. Each of the friends are going through something hard in their lives; Hattie is as well, and they end up forming a bond as new friends when they all come together to help her out as part of her inn's staff leaves her in a jam. 

Even though technically this book was a Christmas book, it wasn't overtly so, and just felt wintry. I loved reading about this inn and could "see" it in my mind as I read, and the library that they met for book club is the stuff my dreams are made of. On a personal note, I think one reason why I love books that have to do with the hospitality industry is because that used to be something Todd and I talked about doing when we first got married. We had young married dreams of maybe owning a bed and breakfast someday in our twilight years...I still dream of this in my heart, but I wonder if he still feels the same? This was after we stayed in our first ever bed and breakfast right after we got married, and were in Kennebunkport, Maine. 

How was your reading this month? Did you read anything you loved? I'd love to hear from you and am always looking for book recommendations, so if you have some for me, send them my way! Thanks for reading my blog today, friends. Love to all! 

Monday, January 29, 2024

weekend recap, 1.29.24.


Happy Monday, friends! I'm linking up with Holly and Sarah for today's post. I hope you had a good weekend! Mine was okay, but pretty low key, thanks to rain and being a bit under the weather. I'm always glad to have time at home to recoup and rest when I'm not feeling my best. 

Because of all this, I decided to make my post more about the food we ate this weekend. I had made plans for Friday and Saturday, but one was canceled because of sickness, and the other because of weather. I missed seeing Dad on Friday, but we talked on the phone twice that day. All is well with him, he was just a bit confused because it wasn't a normal Friday for him. That night, Todd and I went to our favorite local Mexican restaurant, then onto Sam's for me to restock the bookstore snack items and drinks. We lead such exciting lives! 🤣

When we got there, he unhooked this giant espresso machine that you see to his left, and in the process discovered where water was leaking from. He started to make the repair that night, but he needed some parts from Harbor Freight and Lowe's, so we postponed it until Saturday. We enjoyed a lazy morning of watching The Voice, then we went to finish this job. While he did this, I restocked the cooler for Sunday. We weren't there that long, but I got creeped out when I saw people I didn't recognize walking through the foyer near the bookstore. There were people in the back of the building for basketball games that were happening, but nobody should have been where we were. For this reason, you will NEVER see me go to the bookstore after hours by myself. I'm a big chicken! 

I love how it looks now without the bulky espresso machine! I decided to give it back to its owner, because since I've been there, only three people have asked for that. It's a royal pain to stop and make an espresso for people on a busy Sunday morning! That was the other problem; I needed a third person to do just that one thing, and it gets crowded back there when there's two of us, much less three. My next goal is to purchase a utility cart that I'll keep all those carafes on in my closet that's attached to the bookstore. 

I never really ate lunch that day, so around two, I was starving. I made another recipe that I found on TikTok, and it was out of this world delicious. 

It was called a pizza bowl, but it was definitely more of a dip. Here's what I did:

I used one cup of cottage cheese, two pieces of sliced cheese (I used pepper jack), one Babybel wheel of cheese, half a cup of marinara, garlic powder, a sprinkle of salt, and two tablespoons of sliced green olives with pimentos. I microwaved it all for three minutes, and somehow, eating it as a dip on a tortilla chip made it taste exactly like pizza. It was so good! There's a ton of protein in it, so I couldn't eat much, but Todd finished it off before he went in for work. It would be a perfect Super Bowl snack! You could add more protein by adding in some meat, but I didn't have anything I wanted to use. 

Then a few hours later, I had this for dinner.

Blueberry (protein) pancakes with sugar free syrup. It was so good! Have you used this brand of pancake mix? It's really good and there is very little sugar, so thanks to that and the sugar free syrup, it was practically guilt free. I love to have breakfast for dinner sometimes! This would also be good to use for blueberry muffins. One serving size is three four inch pancakes. I didn't follow the instructions on the box; I added in one egg and enough water to make it a thicker batter consistency, and I added in additional frozen blueberries. I will definitely be doing this again on a night when I'm home alone! 

How was your weekend? Did you do anything more fun than what I did? It's not hard. Thanks for reading my blog, friends! Love to all. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Share 4 Somethings, edition one of 2024


Happy Saturday, friends, and welcome to our first Share 4 Somethings of 2024! Each month on the last Saturday of the month, we'll be sharing some things we've loved and/or disliked, accomplished, some things we've improved upon and/or that need improvement, and noticed. I hope you make plans to join in with us each month! I'll get started. 

This month, I loved seeing snow in our hometown...

...I loved seeing my friend Marilyn, and making some fun plans for this spring...

...I loved seeing sunshine...

...and I loved all the fires in the fireplace!

Nothing says cozy quite like a fire in the fireplace in the winter time, right? 

So far this month, I have accomplished a lot of things at work, and a few things at home. I've managed to do things like cleaning out the refrigerator, organizing the pantry (it's messy again), and staying (somewhat) on top of cleaning. I love doing things like this around our home! 

I actually accomplished quite a bit yesterday at home, and did some major cleaning in the bathrooms. That always feels good! 

Something I've improved upon this month is my morning routine. I started reading the Bible again chronologically this year, and I'm using The Bible Recap as a guide. I broke down and ordered the study guide as well this week, and am looking forward to using it in addition to the Bible app and YouTube video. I've gotten into a really good morning routine, though, and it's helping me to focused and committed to reading each day. It's a big deal for me to to keep this trend going; once I get behind even one day, I can become easily overwhelmed with the reading. 

Have you noticed the days getting slightly longer? I have! I don't remember the day that I paid attention to the time and noticed this, but I was surprised that it wasn't dark just yet. Yay! I love all the seasons, and you know this about me, but as spring creeps closer and closer, I start to get excited for the warmer months. I know it's early to be excited for that already, and I'll embrace the rest of winter and then spring, but I do like it when the sun starts setting a little later. Have you noticed how beautiful they are during this season? Ours has been MIA since last week, but I'm hopeful that I'll be able to enjoy some more of them soon. 

Thanks for reading my blog and linking up with us today! I'm always glad you're here. Enjoy your weekend, friends. I'll see you back here Monday. Love to all! 

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Friday, January 26, 2024

Friday Favorites, 1.26.2024.


Happy Friday, friends! I'm linking up with Andrea and Erika for today's favorite blog post of the week. How's your week been? Mine has been good, which is always nice to be able to say. Actually, things would have to be on the verge of terrible for me to even say otherwise. Have you noticed that here? I'm sure you can read it in my writing, but I have always been a very optimistic person. Not that I always succeed at this, but I like to keep things quiet that I'm struggling with, and I really try to not complain. This doesn't mean that I don't have issues in life that are hard; trust me, I do! I just try not to dwell on such things. And on that note, which has everything to do with this, this verse has always been one of my favorites. 

It was good to have a normal week again! After missing days last week because of weather, it was great to see people in our church once more. The days pass by more quickly when people are around, too! Tuesday and Wednesday were busy days for me in the bookstore, but Thursday was super slow. I was able to get a lot done, though, which is always nice. I cleaned out my closet and got rid of several boxes, I restocked, I packed away some of the older items I had that weren't selling, I pulled out some Valentine's day things and decorations, I returned phone calls, and caught up on paperwork and finances. It felt so good getting things done! Sometimes I love it when people don't come in so that I can do that. (I won't mention the two hours I spent chasing down $2 on a credit card receipt, painstakingly going through every receipt since last Thursday, only to find out it was my error. 🤪) 

Another favorite thing that happened that is work related, is that I am about to gain some major countertop space. I can't wait! We have this giant espresso machine that doesn't get used anymore, and it's going away as soon as they can figure out how to get it unhooked from the water source, and what to do with the openings it will leave when it's gone. This thing is massive, and I am so excited over all the countertop space I'll be gaining back soon. As it is, it's very cluttered, so you can see why this makes me happy. I'm currently looking at filing organization systems to help me with my paperwork. 

Moving on from that, I do have a few other favorites from the week.

Monday was my favorite day because I got to drive my car for the first time in eight days! With all the snow and ice last week, she sat in the garage all those days, so it was good to get out on my own. I took this picture to show you what it still looked like outside, though. The roads were still icy in some patches! 

It was worth it to get out; I got my nails done in a festive way for February, and they're my favorite.

I pulled out a favorite top once again; I love this taupe colored shirt that I bought in late summer of last year. It was so much warmer outside that day, which also felt really nice, despite the rain. 

I laughed so hard at Todd doing this the other night; his hair was so kinky because of all the rain! I had forgotten how curly it can get sometimes. He was removing all the stitching from his sheriff's department badges, because a few of them are going back to New Mexico in a few weeks for some training; they like to trade badges with other people who are there, and they all collect them. 

This top is one you've seen me post before, but I wore it yesterday, since it was so dreary out. I wanted something bright and cheerful on a rainy, cloudy day. 

Other favorites from the week include:

  • talking to all of my boys throughout the week, even the one who no longer lives at home
  • talking about the Bible with my pastor
  • seeing a friend who is really going through a trial right now, and being able to pray for her
  • ministering to another friend who come in the bookstore to talk
  • starting Grey's Anatomy over from the beginning
  • reading at work while I ate lunch
  • my morning quiet time
  • hearing about two of my sons getting to spend time with their girlfriends unexpectedly
  • two nights at home alone

It's been a good week, and a busy one, but also just one that's light on pictures and documentation. Did you happen to catch my other blog posts this week? 

Monday was a weekend recap.
Tuesday was a post I titled Ins and Outs.
On Wednesday I shared some dinner inspiration
Thursday was Thankful Thursday

And tomorrow is our first Share 4 Somethings of 2024! We'll be sharing some things we've loved and/or disliked, accomplished, some things we've improved upon and/or that need improvement, and noticed. I hope you make plans now to join us tomorrow! The link party will open at midnight on Saturday, and happens on the last Saturday of every month. Here's a graphic, if you want to use one!

Thanks for reading my blog, friends. See you back here tomorrow; love to all! 

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Thankful Thursday, 1.25.2024.


Happy Thursday, friends! I hope you've had a great week so far. I have; it's felt so good to be back to normal and to be able to drive easily on roads that aren't covered in snow and ice. I love all of that stuff for a short time, but I tire of it quickly. I'm not a big fan of feeling trapped in my house, and especially when I can't drive myself. And on that note...

I'm thankful that we had the beautiful snow to begin with. We went to see my Dad on Friday last week to take them a few things they were out of, and their property is never more beautiful than it was then.

As beautiful as it was, I'm so thankful it melted by Tuesday! We had rain move in, and the leftover snow disappeared with the first mist. 

I'm thankful that I've had the opportunity to catch up with my best friend this week. It's been ages since we've seen each other, but we've had some great text threads and even a conversation. 

I'm thankful that I have a friend/security guard who helps me out at work each week. He's my protector and is always quick to lock the doors when it reaches a certain time when I'm in the bookstore. Last night he did that for me, "kicking" people out in a nice way, and he wouldn't let one person back in who wanted to come in one more time. I am so glad he stays with me a lot! He is someone who is like a dad figure to me, before you think I feel this way inappropriately about some man who's not my husband. 🤣

I'm thankful that Todd is feeling so much better! He's still sleeping on the couch, but he's not having to wrap up with bandages anymore. That is great progress. 

I'm thankful that I've had great books to read lately. I was in a bit of a reading slump toward the end of 2023, so it feels good to be picking up good books. I'm planning on posting about this on Tuesday of next week. 

I'm thankful for praying friends! And I'm thankful to be able to pray for them. I will never take this for granted! I saw something online once that read something like, "Get you a friend who talks to God about you when you don't even know it." I am so blessed to say that I have those types of friends! 

I'm thankful, once again, for God's hand of protection over our family. I am always relieved to know that they're all safe and sound when I talk to them, and I'm grateful that they humor me in this. We had a scary situation happen in our town last night, with an attempted carjacking and shots fired at the young girl who got away. This was a student that Jonah and Noah knew when they were in elementary school, and I am so glad that she is okay and that things turned out the way they did. It's a scary world that we live in, but I don't ever want to live life afraid. I was praying about this on the way to church last night, and I prayed this verse out loud: For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. (2 Timothy 1:7) I thanked God for this reminder as I prayed about what happened; I know that regardless of how things turn out, He is good, and He is my ultimate Protector. 

What are you thankful for this week? I'd love to hear! Thanks for reading my blog and linking up today! Love to all. 

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Wednesday, January 24, 2024

dinner inspiration, January 2024


Happy Wednesday, friends! I am always up for some dinner inspiration, and I wonder if you would feel the same this week? Here's a compilation of things that we've eaten in the last few weeks. I hope this inspires you! 

On New Year's day, I made a pot of white chicken chili and cornbread. It was delicious! I used some chicken that was leftover that I shredded, and to that I added a couple of cans of corn, some green chilis, and pinto beans with chicken stock and a mixture of milk and cream. I think I used cumin powder as well, but it was amazing! I loosely followed a recipe that I saw on Pinterest, and changed it up according to what I had in my pantry. The recipe called for cannelloni beans, for instance, but I had pinto beans on hand. 

For my mom's cornbread recipe, I use two cups of white cornmeal mix, two tablespoons of flour, some salt and pepper, one egg, and milk (I keep slowly pouring until it's the consistency of thick pancake batter). To my skillet, I added a tablespoon of olive oil and heated it in the oven at 450 until it was bubbling; when I pour the cornbread mixture into it, it sizzles, which is what gives it that crispy crust. I baked it until it was golden brown. 

One night recently, we had smoked sausage cooked in the air fryer, tortilla chips, cheese cubes, and shrimp cocktail that we bought from Costco. I love to buy that from Costco; it's delicious and something we both love either on its own or with something like this. 

On another night we had these bratwursts that I cooked according to the package instructions, spinach squares, and bell pepper and onions tossed with low sodium soy sauce and cooked in the air fryer. The spinach squares are another recipe that I found on Pinterest and loosely followed. Todd loved this night of dinner and had it two nights in a row, he enjoyed it so much. 

Last week I made this chicken tortilla soup, and another night I made taco soup. Click the link for the tortilla soup recipe, but for the thousandth time, I'll share this taco soup recipe again, because it's a huge crowd pleaser. I've modified it over the years to make it a bit healthier, and here's what I do.

I either brown a pound of ground beef, or I use leftover taco meat. To the cooked meat, I add a packet of taco seasoning, a packet of ranch dressing seasoning, and one container of the lower sodium beef broth. I let that come to a simmer, then I add a can of corn, a can of black beans, two cans of kidney beans, and a can of Rotel tomatoes. I let it simmer for 30 minutes, then we eat it with tortilla chips. It's so good, and the longer it sits, the better it tastes. I also like to drain and rinse all the beans, and adding in one extra can of Rotel tomatoes kicks up the spice and makes it even better. I usually add in a tablespoon of cottage cheese to mine as I put it in a bowl, for some added protein and creaminess. 

And lastly, this is what we had for dinner last night, which is a new favorite. I add six chicken breasts to my crockpot, two packets of ranch dressing seasoning, and two packs of the less fat cream cheese. I let it cook on high all day long, then I either shred it or break it into big chunks, but at the end, we sprinkle bacon bits on top, and it is to die for! It's great with either roasted potatoes or rice, and last night we added green beans. Todd loves this meal and it's great as leftovers. I don't have an actual name for this, but I think it's something like King Ranch chicken or something similar. 

What are you eating for dinner this week? I'd love to hear about it and be inspired for next week! Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all! 

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