simple blog

A simple blog about seeking the Lord, savoring life and joyfully serving.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Albondigas (Meatball) Soup Recipe

Sometimes I post things like this just so I won't forget about it. I really love this tasty soup and it is SO simple and easy to make. It's also delicious and healthy, perfect fo the winter months after Christmas when you are wanting to eat clean and fresh but you need something soothing and warm. 
Super simple soup recipe that you can make during cold and flu season. 
Very soothing, nourishing and healing.

Albondigas actually means meatball in Spanish. This soup can be paired w chips n salsa and maybe a dollop of guacamole on the side. 

For the broth 
Fill up a large pot w water 

3 sticks of celery, diced 

1 onion, chopped

1/2 bag of snow peas sliced into small pieces

1 can diced tomatoes 

1 tsp minced garlic

Garlic salt  and Season salt to taste 

(Next time I make this I am going to try making a purรฉe of 3 roasted tomatoes and 1 whole onion w 3 cloves garlic to add to the broth).

Add 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar right before serving

For the meatballs
1 lb ground turkey

1 bag cooked brown rice

1 tsp minced garlic

Handful of finely chopped mint leaves or cilantro  (optional)

2 eggs

Garlic salt to taste

Mix well and roll into balls (I use a Tbsp.) and drop raw meatballs into boiling soup broth. 
Simmer for 30 minutes. That's it! So simple yet a delicious, quick and healing soup.

Hope you enjoy.
Grace & peace,
Adoring Family 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

⭐️5 Friday Favorites and Vision of 2020 ⭐️

Today is the day after Christmas and I am snuggled on my love seat eating Christmas cookies and drinking coffee. We have so much to be thankful for. It was a wonderful Christmas. I am probably the most tired I have ever been the day after Christmas. There was just so much to do this year. I am so very thankful but so happy to be resting and to have absolutely nothing to do today.
We are keeping our Christmas decor up until the 1st so I plan to keep celebrating Christmas today but with a more focused theme. We are going to watch It's a Wonderful Life, The Star, The Nativity and we will have to YouTube Nester, The Long Eared Christmas Donkey. I have four loads of laundry to fold but now that I have more kids' drawers organized I actually find this to be a more enjoyable task and especially if I am able to relax and watch Christmas movies. We do have one more Christmas to host on Saturday.

My five favorites this week are easy:

1. Definitely the time we spent having our breakfast and daily devotions. Normally we do this as part of our homeschool routine but since my husband was home he was able to lead us. He read the Christmas story out of Luke and we asked focused questions to get the kids to truly grasp the meaning if Christmas.
2. Santa's Ranch. My husband came home from work one day and asked if we had any plans for the evening. We didn't so he said, "Let's get in the car and head to Santa's Ranch!" Santa's Ranch is a beautiful drive through Christmas light display that is located between San Marcos and New Braunfels. We absolutely LOVE this tradition. We all hopped in the van quickly but not before I grabbed the egg nog and 6 cups to enjoy on our ride. We listened to Christmas music and marveled at the magical display. Such a fun night.
3. Christmas Food! I made three turkeys this year (for the recipe and brining method I used, click here). I will say that these turkeys were my best ones yet. I am very happy with the way they turned out and my guests loved them as well. I love green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, dressing, and sweet potatoes. I am going to write a full post about how to prepare this meal for my daughters to refer to so look for that in the next few weeks.

4. Campfires. When my dad is around, we have campfires. It's one of my favorite things. I love to sit around the campfire and listen to my dad and Nathan talk. My stepmom was here as well and we enjoyed the time together around the campfire as well. Speaking of fire...
5. Wood burning stove. I never had a wood burning stove growing up but I absolutely LOVE the one Nathan installed in our previous farmhouse. It kept us so toasty and we never had to run the heat because the warmth of the stove permeated the entire house! Nathan and his brother set the stove in place on Christmas Day. Nate painted it black and I am SO in love with the look. I'm elated to have a cozy fire in it once the weather gets cold enough here in Texas (probably around January). A wood burning stove is different from a traditional fireplace because the heat is contained therefore it heats the home more efficiently. With a fireplace most of the heat escapes through the chimney. It only took one season of having a wood burning stove to convince me that I never wanted to go back to the traditional fireplace. I love the added bonus of keeping a kettle on top for hot water at all times.

Vision of 2020 : Setting Goals For the New Year

1. Begin with end in mind...What do you want to look back on at this time next year? What do you hope to say, "Wow, I did that!" about next year at this time?
I am SO grateful that when I look back at this year I can say, "Wow, we built this house and have two places rented this year!" Next year at this time I am hoping to have one more house rented. We have our little cabin that needs to be finished and last night we had a dear friend ask if she could rent it. Of course we ae excited to get another person we know love and trust in one of our rentals.

2. Commit your ways to the Lord and He will establish your plans. Ask yourself what your motives are. Are they pure and upright? If you ask anything according to the Lord's will then you already have what you ask of Him.

3. Create a plan. How will you get to you end goal? What are the steps you can take? For example, if you want to organize your kids clothes, you will need to take a quick inventory of what you have and what you need. Find a system that you think will work best. We like drawer organizers and rolling the clothes up and placing them in each little cube. It is helpful when pulling out certain shirts or pants so all the others do not get messed up. I will go into more detail on this at a later date. Maybe you want to eat healthier, take note of what you need to eliminate and create a meal plan with snacks as well.

4. Stay focused. Create a visual so you can keep your goals in front of your face every day. It could be a vision board or simply an index card with your goal written down. Just make sure you have something in front of you every day so you can remind yourself what you are working towards.

Once you have all of this complete, I believe you will be successful. Commit your ways to the Lord and pray. Stay focused and go hard after what you set out to do. Praying it's a fruitful year for all of you.Thank you for reading.
Grace and Peace,
Adoring Family

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Creative Muster #364

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares from Mrs. Kringle's Kitchen

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How to Make Christmas Fun When You Are Worn Out

This Christmas has been a wonderful time for our family. We are so thankful to FINALLY be in our home that we have worked so hard for. It is definitely better than I imagined. It is crunch time though and I still have so much to do as a host for two Christmas dinners this year. My house seems to get pretty messy pretty quickly which is to be expected with four kids who are home most of the time.

The thing is, I don't want to miss Christmas with them because I am stressed and trying to make everything perfect. I don't want to stress anyone else out and make them not enjoy this blessed time of year because of a momma that is too busy.

The joy of Christmas is for everyone, even tired mommas. That is the beauty of the true meaning if Christmas.

One of my favorite parts of Christmas story is the end, after the shepherds had come to worship and they left to glorify the Lord. Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. I love that so much. She was quiet and contemplative. She thought about the wonders of that night often. Mary was a resilient woman. I think that has to be one of her most interesting qualities. She didn't need a perfect place to have her baby. She didn't need the perfect life. I believe she treasured what she had and was peaceful and contented.

Today is Christmas Eve and I have a very long to do list but I want to make sure I am peaceful and content. I hope to focus on the joy of Christ's birth and create a warm atmosphere in my home. I do want to add in some meaningful and fun activities for my kids to enjoy the wonder of Christmas. I want to take part in them as well. You may think that you don't have any time to sit and decorate a cookie but you do. It may take five minutes but it is a memory that will last a lifetime and bond you to your children.

As I do Christmas this year I will be careful to be resilient and that things don't have to be perfect for them to be wonderful. I want my kids to enjoy the wonder of Christmas today so I made a list...
Things they will remember:

A smiling momma

The wonderful smells of Christmas...turkey roasting, candles burning, wassail warming, cookies baking.

The sounds of Christmas...the festive music, the Christmas movies, the stories of Christmas fun in the past.

The activities of Christmas...the gingerbread house making, the cookie baking, the present wrapping, the hot cocoa sipping.  

Things they won't remember:

If the house was clean.

If they all had the exact number of presents.

If the cookies came from a mix.

As I go throughout this day, this Christmas Eve, I want my children to be happy. I want them to remember why we celebrate Christmas. I want their home to filled with joy and peace. I want the sounds and smells of this Christmas to permeate their minds and memories for years to come.

I am going to tackle my to do list early and hopefully get most of it accomplished before they wake up so we can focus on the fun and true blessings of Christmas. But if I don't get it all done, I am going to purposefully choose joy. I will have list of Christmas movies to play in the background while I cook and I will have my little elves wrapping presents and decorating cookies. I am praying I can point them to Jesus as we celebrate His birth.

Many blessings to all of you and praying you have a peaceful Christmas.
Grace and peace,
Adoring Family

Thursday, December 19, 2019

☕️ 5 CHRISTmas Favs, Cozy Cocoa Recipes & Last Minute Gift Ideas

Christmas is next week, y'all! I am so excited! I wish we could have three more weeks of celebrating though. I love squeezing all of the fun advent activities into our days. I will keep up the baking and fun projects but it will not quite be the same. Here are a few Christmas Favs for ya...

1. Josh Garrels Christmas Album. Go here for the full album on YouTube. It's definitely different but so beautiful & relaxing, perfect for a quiet morning. I've mentioned how much I enjoy Josh Garrels before so when he released his Christmas album a few years ago we bought it and have loved it every year since. This is one of my favorites.

2. Cozy Cocoa Days.

I LOVE a Cozy Cocoa party...Everybody wears their cute Christmas pajammies and we set out our bar with our triple crock pot full of a delicious variety of flavored hot chocolates.

I also have wassail in a kettle for those who prefer a healthier option. I put out fun toppings like whipped cream, toffee chips, mini chocolate chips, and of course marshmallows.

My three fav flavors are Mint White Chocolate, Almond Milk and Honey Mocha and the classic Creamy Hot Cocoa.

Mint White Chocolate
For the recipe click here 
(to make this vegan friendly simply replace honey w sugar), I would triple this recipe.

Almond Milk and Honey Mocha
6 cups almond milk
6 Tbsps. raw honey
3 Tbsp. coconut oil
3 Tsp. vanilla 
1 1/2 Tsp. pure mint extract
(to make this vegan friendly, replace honey w sugar)
Mix well and simmer for an hour or two.

Creamy Hot Cocoa Legit, the BEST Hot Chocolate EVER, my kids said so :)
6 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 Tsp. vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips (you could do half dark and half milk or all milk or all dark depending on how intense you want your flavor)Mix well and simmer for two hours.
Add mini marshmallows 15 minutes before serving so they get melty. Spoon into cups and add more mini marshmallows on top. *butter beer variation: replace the chocolate chips w butterscotch chips, add 3 Tbsp. butter and use whipped cream drizzled w caramel as a topping. 

I like to whip my ingredients using this blender in the crock pot. I bought this immersion blender in 2015 and it's STILL going strong! 

 3. Christmas Cookie Decorating. 

My kids won this at our youth Christmas White Elephant gift exchange. These aren't quite as tasty as the ones we make but they are certainly cute!I enjoy making assorted shapes and decorating sugar cookies that taste divine.

4. Watching Christmas Movies EVERY NIGHT!
A few of the best ones are
A Christmas Story
The Grinch (all three)
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Santa Clause (all 3)
The Star
The Nativity
Nester (hard to find but a family favorite)and my all time #1 fav is

It's a Wonderful Life.

Mary Hatch is a beautiful inspiration to me. She is a hard worker, supportive wife and a kind, loving and gentle mother.

5. Last Favorite is Christ Centered Christmas Activities

One of my favorite things about Christmas is how easy it is to find crafts that point to Jesus. We have made baby Jesus ornaments, cross ornaments, Names of Christ Signs, Names of Christ Paper chains, three wise men pictures and the list goes on.

It's always important for us to teach the children young how to see Jesus is the True meaning of Christmas. We find Bible verses and crafts that coincide with those verses or sometimes vice versa. The most important thing is that we are doing something together that solidifies what is truly important, the most perfect Gift, Jesus.

I hope my favorites give you some fun ideas to celebrate with your family. 
Now onto last minute gift ideas...

Gifts under $10

Perfect for your UPS driver! I got mine the big one because he always goes above and beyond for us! I filled it with two oranges and a stack of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Make sure you add a little bag of cookies for his helper, too!

Yesssss, this gorgeous, thick, high quality sweater is UNDER $10! I have it in this color and its perfect w flares and booties or skinny jeans and OTK boots. I wear mine as a boatneck and get many compliments on it. I was pleasantly surprised at the thick and comfy fabric. Really a screaming deal. The navy one is only a few dollars more and I just purchased it. 
Fun gifts to have on hand for a white elephant gift or last minute gift for a child. Add a fluffy blanket for a fun gift for your neighbor.

Unique gifts
I would love this lovely bird fountain to sit outside between our chairs on our porch. I love the tranquil sound of water and would enjoy sitting in my chair listening to the peaceful sounds of water trickling.
I am trying to think of unique yet useful gifts this year and I always love giving gift baskets w a theme. How beautiful would this vinegar and oil set be in a gift basket w an elite balsamic vinegar and lovely olive oil, a rosemary plant and a fresh loaf of sourdough bread? 

Another cute gift idea is a homemade batch of loose leaf tea mix (I like red raspberry mixed w edible lavender). Add the tea balls (under $4 for two!) and this gorgeous mug ( just under $8) that has a fav Scripture of mine (I've given these out as gifts twice).

Have you already finished up your Christmas shopping. I'm nowhere near close but I am not stressing. I have the hard ones taken care of ;)I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy spending time with your loved ones. Please remember to be gentle on yourself, you don't have to feel bad if you cannot make every festive function you are invited to. It's ok to take some time to rest, refresh, recover and give yourself some space. I find that I need to take a few days so I don't let my home get disorganized and I can take the time to reflect on my blessings and make sure I am not getting flustered. I want to remain gentle and loving in my actions towards others and I find if I am too busy, I become frazzled easily. I hope you are filled with joy and peace this Christmas. Many blessings to all of you. 

Grace and peace,
Adoring Family