How We Do It

Liturgy is a difficult word for many people. It conjures up images of stiff, boring, and repetitive church services at worst, or dry and quiet ones at best. This kind of understanding tends to make us think that liturgy is something that we do or do not do based on our preference and that it is only found within the walls of a church building…usually one that houses a catholic, lutheran or other such religion.
But liturgy is something that we all do. My routine, or liturgy, in the morning consist of quiet time, drinking a cup of coffee, checking email, etc. At six I wake my girls up. For three of them the morning liturgy is a cup of hot tea; for the oldest it’s just quietness so she can wake up slowly. We all have our own way of doing…of being…that is pretty set but there are outside factors that help shape our liturgies. For my girls I am the outside influence…I shape their routine by deciding when they wake up. My liturgy is shaped by my need for coffee to wake me up and prepare me to start their day 🙂 All those little liturgies, if you will, are shaped and formed by greater outside influences…namely when school begins for the day.
For most of us our way of marking time is flipping the calendar starting in January and moving through the twelve months with it’s various events, personal and public, noted and acknowledged. So technically we are coming to the end of the year aren’t we?

In the last several years though our family has begun to shift away from the typical view of seeing Christmas as the end of the year and January as the beginning of a new one. Now obviously we cannot escape using dates and calendars and national liturgy in a lot of aspects, nor is there reason to. Our practice though, what liturgy is used to govern our worship, is now determined by the Church calendar and the life of Christ.

We view the coming celebration of the birth of Christ as the beginning of our new year. And on Sunday we will begin the season of Advent, both at church as well as in our home. Advent, which simply means “coming” or “arrival”, is a beautiful way to prepare for Christmas day. Celebrating advent for our family is somewhat new and we are still figuring out what it will look like. It will be different than last year’s celebration and will probably not look completely the same next year. But our desire is to create a liturgy over the next few weeks that will establish a rhythm that will cultivate an awareness of our need for a Savior. It is a celebrating of the truth Christ has come, that He is present now, and that He will come again. It opens a door that will lead us to the cross and even now begins to prepare us for Easter.
In our home we will slowly begin to put our some decorations this Saturday. We’ll use evergreen garland and boughs to remind us that everlasting life has come with the arrival of Christ child. Our advent wreath with it’s three purple candles, one pink and one white will find a prominent place in our living room. Other things will eventually be put out with the idea that they are leading up to something bigger and on Christmas Eve we’ll put up and decorate our tree. For some the idea of decorating this way seems crazy but we want to mimic the way smaller signs and wonders came and foretold the coming of the Messiah with the culmination being, obviously, the birth of Christ…the true Light of the World. It’s a small thing but something we think can enhance our celebration and enjoyment of the true reason for this time of year.

Sharing my picture and words with My Chaos and My Bliss  and Best Shot Friday as well as the blog party hosted by Sincerely, Paula.


Test Kitchen Repeat (So Good I Make It All the Time) #11 ~ Almond Cake

I’ve always thought that the best way to tell how good a dish taste is by seeing how messy the recipe card is. Like a good book will have well worn pages I tend to think that an oft used recipe will be a little dogeared too. The recipe I share with you today, my friends, is a delicious cake. As proof I offer you this photograph:

The recipe was shared with me almost ten years ago and I have probably made it a hundred times. Not even kidding. One year around Christmas I made a bunch of them for people my Mother worked with. One year they were teacher gifts. My husband even went through a phase where almost every other night I was making a fresh one for him to enjoy still warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

What I love about this cake is that generally speaking you probably have everything you need to make it already on hand. Seriously, look back on that list…it’s pretty uncomplicated ingredients. The first time I baked it I only had to get some almond flavor but since we enjoy this cake so much even that is a staple in our pantry now.

Of course me being me means that I changed it a little bit from the original but only because I had no idea what a jelly roll pan was nor could I find one at any local stores. I have since learned that a jelly roll pan is essentially a baking sheet with sides but it was too late. We were hooked on a loaf style as opposed to a sheet cake. So I pour the batter directly into the greased loaf pans, sprinkle the top liberally with sliced almonds and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 to 50 minutes.

In these pictures I made a couple of cute little mini loaves in some pretty Thanksgiving ceramics that someone had picked up for me as a gift. They were pretty adorable and made lovely little take home gifts for some guest we had over Friday after Thanksgiving.

You really should try this cake…simple, great flavor and very moist. But beware that it could lead to a dangerous obsession.

Sharing the goodness with Mealtime Monday, Sweet Sharing Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Mondays, Try a New Recipe Tuesday and This Gal Cooks.

How We Spent Thanksgiving

We originally thought some very dear friends were going to come visit us for Thanksgiving but much to every one’s disappointment it wasn’t able to happen. So some other very dear friends invited us and our twenty-five and a half pound turkey to feast with them.

One the beach.

My favorite place.

And the weather was wonderful. The water was crystal clear and we were able to see a bunch of frolicking dolphins and a fever of stingrays. (I looked that up to see what you call a bunch of stingrays 🙂

The kids were even able to pick up a game of beach volleyball with some really nice people from Mississippi  and they raced each other up and down the beach.

On your mark…get set…GO!

He’s in the lead!

It looks like he may hold onto his position…

But big sister pulls ahead…

He doesn’t like that; he must do something…

He’s going to take her down!

They spin…

 Please note Emily celebrating the victory in the background.

Little Miss Claire was pretty busy collecting shells and Abby went back up stairs to help make some homemade yeast rolls that were fan-tab-ulous!

All together it was a great day of relaxing thankfulness. Hope you enjoyed yours as well!

Sharing pictures and telling stories with Sincerely Paula, My Chaos and My Bliss and Best Shot Friday.

Mini Sessions

Portrait sessions can usually take anywhere from ninety minutes to two hours or more depending on how many locations I’m using. (And how much fun we’re having.) But sometimes I have time constraints that must be worked around and while this seriously cuts down on the amount of time I get to enjoy spending with my clients it doesn’t limit the wonderful pictures that can be captured.
Recently I volunteered my time to do 30 minute mini sessions as a fundraiser for my daughter’s Jr/Sr trip to New York in the spring. It was so much fun and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to do it again.

There is something so fun about brothers and sisters.

Every session I find myself drawn to a particular image. Sometimes it’s series of images that clearly shows the bond between the subjects. With this family there were several images that I really liked but we did a few minutes with the father and son and every time I look at them I smile. It’s obvious that they have a wonderful relationship.

I love pictures like that, that just show people having a good time. The whole weekend was full of moments like that. It’s the reason behind why I love doing what I do.

Pinterest Test Kitchen #10 ~ Tortellini Soup

Just in time for the cooler weather…a soup recipe! Straight from Taste of Home so you know it’s good. And simple. Which is what I like.

All you need is:

The original recipe calls for chopped zucchini but the first time I made it I didn’t have any and we liked it so I just leave it out. I also double the recipe to feed my crew and it is perfect paired with a pipping hot pan of homemade cornbread.

After browning the hamburger I mix everything together except for the tortellini into my dutch oven and bring to a boil. Then I turn down the heat to medium, add in the tortellini, and give it about ten minutes. I’ve also tossed it all into my slowcooker and put it on low for the day and it turned out fine.

If anyone tries the creamy version I’d love to know how it turns out.

Linking up with Mealtime Monday, Sweet Sharing Monday, and This Gal Cooks.

Proverbs 31:26

My first try at subway art…the background is actually a mistake I made shooting something and not realizing I had the camera on manual focus. The words of course are from Proverbs 31.

Did you know that portion of Proverbs 31 was actually the teaching by a mother to her son as a way to teach him what to look for in a wife? Also, the word translated virtuous or excellent is the same word used in other parts of Scripture to describe a well prepared soldier or army?

Sharing with Scripture and a Snap Shot, Fresh Brewed Sundays, and The Sunday Community.

A Thousand Words

In late spring I had the honor of photographing a wedding vow renewal for a dear friend’s parents. Forty-five years they were celebrating. So much love was present…the devotion to each other was beyond words…it was a visible expression of two who had become one.
She became a little emotional walking down the aisle and I’ll never forget the way he smiled and held his hand out to her. It was a practiced move…one that you just knew had happened before over the years when everything in their world would go a little crazy…he’d put his hand out to her…pulling her to his side offering comfort, protection, an anchor to withstand whatever storm they were facing.

Over six months later and I still get teary eyed looking at their pictures. And it’s not because I’m so close to them or know them so well. It’s that their devotion to one another is so clearly heard in every gesture and smile.

Yesterday he was moved to hospice. I just can’t imagine…and once again I am without words and overwhelmed by the beauty of their love for each other.

May God be gracious in mercy and may peace and comfort surround them.

Updated: Earlier this morning Mr. McShane passed away very peacefully with his wife at his side. He will be greatly missed but we rejoice knowing that he has been completely healed and is with his Lord.

Sharing their story at My Chaos My Bliss and  Best Shot Friday.

Test Kitchen #9 ~ Frito Dessert

Notice something different about this week’s title? Yep, it’s missing the “pinterest” part. Apparently I cooked before I pinned. I mean, obviously I did but in the onslaught of all the new recipes I find I have sort of forgotten that fact. But this week I am going to share a sweet and simple treat with you that has long been a favorite. As an added bonus it is also gluten free, so yay! (Please do not mistake the gf-ness to mean healthy though…it is definitely a suh-weet treat.)

Actually it’s a near perfect blend of salty and sweet and I have found people either love it or hate it. Make it at least once before you decide though. The ingredients sound weird together but it really is quite tasty. Oh, what’s the name of this confection you ask?

Frito Dessert.

It’s basically a layer of fritos glued together with a peanut buttery almost fudgey likeness. Intrigued? Here’s what you do.

Empty a bag of Fritos into a 9×13 baking dish.

Stir together one cup of sugar with one cup of light karo syrup over medium heat until it starts to bubble and the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in one cup of peanut butter until well blended. Pour over the fritos making sure to coat them evenly. You will probably make more than one pass over them.

Allow it to set for at least an hour and a half before cutting into squares and enjoy!

I’m posting a day late but still serving it up with Sweet Sharing Monday, Couponing & Cooking, and This Gal Cooks.