Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cookies, Conversation, and Fishing

Purpose. That is one of the coolest things that God brought to my days after our move home to Michigan.

Don't get me wrong. I love my vocation of wife and mother and serving the loved ones in my household.

But I always wanted to find a better way to serve my neighbor, too.

Shortly after joining our new church, I volunteered to take part in their fledgling ministry of English language tutoring to the community. It has been a real blessing, not only to the participants, but for all of the tutors and the church members working behind the scenes.

Thus far, we've had a small group of non-English speaking adult students who have been patiently willing to learn right alongside us on this journey. A family of women from Syria, a mom and auto engineer's wife from South Korean, and a young man from Lebanon who provides much needed transportation and translation.

Some of our lessons are strictly grammar. Vocabulary, pronunciation, verb conjugation. Other lessons are cultural. And sometimes, our participants just need conversation.

This morning, I made a Lebanese/Syrian cookie to bring to class. Ghraybeh is basically a middle eastern shortbread cookie. I found a few recipes online, and through some trial and error, made it my own.

Our translator was so impressed.

"How did you learn to bake this?" he asked.

"Easy," I answered. "Pinterest!"

I love how these sweet little cookies get rolled into a fish shape and secured with a pistachio. It reminded me of our focus at church to be "fishers of men." We've been talking a lot at church these days about joining Jesus on his mission. Serving, sacrificing, loving His people. This new ministry helps me to do just that.

If you are looking for a new cookie to try with coffee, this one might just be a winner.


2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks (plus 2-3 Tablespoons if mix feels too dry) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pistachios ( I used lightly salted and roasted, and un-shelled them myself)

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, mix together butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy. Slowly add flour until blended. Take a heaping tablespoon of dough and form a five inch long log, then cross ends into a fish shape and place on a non-greased cookie sheet. Add a pistachio where the "tail" meets. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes, until just golden. Allow to cool on baking sheet for two minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy! (makes about two dozen)

"And Jesus said to Simon, 'Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.' And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. " Luke 5:10-11

Friday, January 12, 2018

Organizing In The Craft Room

It's January, and you know what that means...time for everyone to make resolutions about organizing and simplifying in the new year!

Funny. No one ever makes a resolution to complicate and clutter up their lives, do they?

I confess, I love to organize and clean and sort, but I really don't like to spend a ton of money to make it happen.

I also don't need to reinvent the wheel. If another crafter has come up with a good system, it makes sense to give it a try.

Everyone in the stamping world refers to the pocket and bin system as the Jennifer McGuire method. She is, after all, a rock star in the stamp world. And if it works for Jennifer, it should work for me, too.

I needed a better system for storing all of my stamps. One unified system. For example, I was storing a lot of stamps in the original company packaging, which was getting ripped and torn and cumbersome. And years back, I switched from the cheap CD cases for storing my Papertrey Ink stamps, and went to the more expensive DVD cases. It wasn't ideal.

So when Joann's had a sale on Avery Elle storage pockets last week, I bought a good supply and got to work.

I now have my clear stamps and their matching dies in one place! Hooray!

 And for the magnetic sheets, I went to Walmart and picked these up for cheap. Easy to cut to the size needed, too.

I can put all the storage pockets in my plastic bins, and flip through them to see what I need.

I really want to use what I have this year, and I'm hoping that the new system will make it easier. I haven't been very crafty lately, but cleaning and organizing my craft room has gotten me inspired once again.

Any storage tips that you'd like to share? Please tell me in the comments!

Blessings, cafe friends!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Dog-Gone Cold!

It's still dog-gone cold here...but not too cold to craft a cute dog card!

I used the Lawn Fawn window die, and paired it with a peeking puppy from My Favorite Things!

I made the lacy curtains from an old MFT scallop circle die, just cutting it to fit behind the window frame.

I colored the flowers, stems, and puppy with COPIC markers. Just a little pup spreading some sunshine during cold winter days!

{Today's Brew: MFT dog stamp, Lawn Fawn window die, woodgrain paper from Lawn Fawn, other papers from Simple Stories}

And speaking of cold winter days, it's never too cold for Miss Jemma. She still loves her walks, even when the temps barely reach double digits. Brrrr!

Considering that her birthday is the first day of winter, I think she will always be a snow loving girl. Of course, wearing a fur coat helps.

Blessings on your winter weekend, cafe friends!

Friday, January 5, 2018

2018: Grace and Truth

Happy New Year, cafe friends! I hope you are staying warm. We've been blasted by arctic air for a long time now, with temps in the single digits by day and the negative numbers by night. Brrr.

It's a fresh new year, which means a new word to ponder for 2018. I almost decided not to do the whole "word" thing this year and opt for a hymn instead. But then I found a scripture verse that I'd really been thinking about a lot this year. That's when I found the word.

John 1:17 "For the law was given to us through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ."

Grace, my word for 2017. And we were blessed with some pretty amazing grace in 2017.

I remember reading this verse with Sam when we were doing our homeschool catechism back in January of 2017, and I couldn't let it go for the entire year. It seemed to follow me all the way to our new Michigan home, and it popped up frequently at our new Michigan church.

The law, given to us through Moses, to show us how woefully we fall short and need a savior on a daily basis. And grace and truth that can be found in only one source: Jesus Christ.

Truth. My word for 2018.

And there's no better place to find truth than in Jesus, the word made flesh who dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

I need to be in the word this year. And I need to let the truth of the word do a new work in me.

I am always amazed at the path where God will lead me through His word throughout the year. Often times, it's not the place I would expect, but I learn so much on the journey.

Tell me, do you have a word for 2018?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017: The Year of Going Grey

Do you remember back in 2016 when I decided I wanted to stop coloring my hair?

In February of this year, I chopped off most of my hair into a short pixie, cutting off the old color to let the new natural color emerge. It was a gift to myself for my 50th birthday. Freedom from stinky chemicals!

I've let it grow a bit since then. And slowly, gradually, the grey has appeared. Not in a shocking way. Just streaks, here and there.

I'm referring to them as God's highlights.

I went to a stylist for a consultation this summer. She recommended highlights that would grow out gradually (lies!). I decided not to go back to her. My new stylist had a "Hey, it looks good to me, and as long as you like it" attitude. I like her. :)

Now, when I look in the mirror, the color looks natural and right somehow. It is darker than I imagined, but it suits my coloring better than any bottle shade. Yes, I sparkle in the sunshine like a vampire from a cheesy romance novel.  But I'm okay with that.

My sister, Tina, and I used to talk about the going grey idea like it was something scary. And then Tina was diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and she lost all her hair. It really put things in perspective.

Tina is pretty sure that when her hair does grow back, it will be completely white. Like Moses when he saw the glory of the LORD on Mt. Sinai. She looks beautiful even without hair, so I'm certain it will look fantastic on her.

Grace...my word for 2017. And aging gracefully was all part of that. But of course, grace means so much more. And I recognized grace in abundance this year. For all that 2017 brought me, I am thankful.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Enjoying the Christmas Season

Good frosty morning, cafe friends! Brrr. Is it cold where you are? We had morning temps in the negative digits this week, and it seems that every morning we wake up to fresh snow. It's a good time for coffee!

I am still enjoying the days of Christmas...baking, crafting, enjoying time with family. It's been a wonderful Christmas, filled with good food and board games and movies.

Don't you just love this thermos? I found it at Macy's this Christmas, and I loved it so much that I bought one for myself and five others to give as gifts. It's from Martha Stewarts' holiday collection, and I love the vintage retro vibe. I will be taking coffee (and maybe hot chocolate) with me everywhere this winter!

I've been making some felted hearts this week. My friend, Sandy at the PTI forum was selling her Primitve Stitched Hearts dies, and these have been on my wish list for a while. So fun! I added some holly leaves and berries. Going to try these in different colors for Valentine's Day, too.

I made my very first Buche de Noel this Christmas! The Yule Log turned out better than I expected, and it was delicious, too!

I made mine the easy way. I used a box devil's food cake mix in a jelly roll pan lined in parchment paper. When it was done baking, I turned it out on a clean dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar, and then rolled it warm and let it cool. After a few hours, I unrolled it and spread a cream cheese/butter/powdered sugar frosting, then rolled it back up. Then I frosted it in a milk chocolate frosting, giving it some wood grain texture with a fork.

The fun part was adding the toadstools (raspberry toppers on segments of Pirouette cookies) and acorns (mini Nilla wafers frosted and stuck to Hershey's kisses), and tree fungi (sliced almonds) to finish it off.

You know it's fancy when my son, John, got his phone out to take a photo!  I have the feeling this one went on Snapchat. :)

I also made some really amazing chocolate chip scones from a recipe I found on Pinterest:


These were so good that I had to make a second batch to send home with John before he took off yesterday. Mmm. The perfect accompaniment to an afternoon latte.

Here's Miss Jemma on Christmas Day, watching the puppy sleeping on the Hallmark Channel's holiday yule log program.

She thought that was a really good idea, too.

We're settling in for a long winter's nap!

Hope your weekend is filled with cozy moments, too!

Blessings, cafe friends!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

PTI December 2017 Blog Hop

Merry Christmas, cafe friends!

I hope your holiday has been filled with special blessings!

Today is blog hop day at Papertrey Ink, and here is the inspiration photo:

Isn't that lovely?

I decided to make a wreath, add some flowers, and insert coffee. Coffee is my love language.

{Today's Brew: Cup of Cheer stamps and dies (PTI), Rustic Wreath die (PTI), heart border die (PTI), Tea for Two stamps for sentiment (PTI), SU seam binding ribbon, PTI inks/card stock/papers, amuse twinkle rhinestones}

My cup runneth over this Christmas! Home, with my family, safe and warm inside with a blanket of snow outside. A cup of coffee, snuggled under a blanket by the fire. Bliss!

Thanks for visiting the cafe today!