Thanksgiving Blessings

Friday, November 27, 2015

I find it kinda ironic how the day after Thanksgiving we have Black Friday. Thanksgiving is a day to focus on our many blessings and having good times with friends and family.  It's just silly how the day after we celebrate being thankful we are once again out the door early the next morning buying more stuff and trying to find the best deal.

My family used to have a Thanksgiving tradition to help us remember of what we were thankful for throughout the year.  We put a decorative box on the table and throughout the year we would write down something we were thankful for and put it in the box.  On Thanksgiving we would open the box and read all of the slips of paper that said what we were thankful for.  

Sadly, we no longer do this tradition and often times I wish we still did.  As we have grown older we have grown out of many of our traditions.  When I have my own family someday I can't wait to bring back this tradition and start many new traditions.  

Just recently I have been trying to focus more on being thankful and having a heart that is content.  Last year I had four jars on my desk that I decorated and slips of paper to fill out and put in my jars.  I had one jar for prayer requests, a thankful jar, a jar for good times,  and a jar for Bible verses.  Sadly, this year I'm not doing my jars again.  I still have them I just wasn't motivated to do them this year.

One thing I love to do is journaling.  I have too many journals, to be honest, and I just keep buying more because I love them so much.  Just recently I have started writing in a special journal. I call it my Thankful Journal. Each night I try to write down at least three things that I'm thankful for to help me keep my focus on God and His goodness to me.  I can usually think of about five things to write down.

This year I'm most thankful for my family and friends. I usually say this every year but this year I'm especially thankful for my family because I'm learning that even when my friends grow distant or move away and I don't see them as often as I used to I will always have my family.  

I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving with friends and family.
With Thanksgiving past it is now officially okay to listen to Christmas music and decorate for the holidays. Only four more weeks until Christmas!  

Enjoying Life

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Don’t try so hard
To move past the moment
These days go by
And they’re gone before you know it
So come on, open your window
Let the light shine in
This is life don’t miss it"
~Francesca Battistelli

Today I have been busy working on one of my sewing projects; I'm making a Christmas blouse to go with my prairie skirt for an upcoming event we are going to after Thanksgiving.  When  I spend long hours in the craft room I like to listen to my music to keep me company while I work.  Lately I've been trying to listen more to Christian songs because they are always so much more uplifting and as I sing the lyrics and contemplate the words I find them to be so encouraging.  

I listened to the song "Don't Miss It"  by Frencesca Battistelli and I have to say I just love that song. It is a wonderful reminder to take time each day to go outside and enjoy life.  

It is so easy to get so caught up in social media that it's all we think about. I've been there and I find it is still a constant struggle for me to just put my iPod (since I don't have a phone) down. Or maybe we get overwhelmed by working ourselves to hard. We need to remember life is too short to waste on things that don't matter in the long run. I want to make each day of my life count.  

On Monday my family (well everyone minus my Dad who was working) went on a short trip to Monterey to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  We've been to the aquarium so many times before so it wasn't anything special.  What made this trip special to me was being able to spend time with my family.  We made many memories that day and I am so blessed because I could not have asked for a better family to share life with.

I took plenty of pictures as well since, as I've said before, photography is one of my favorite hobbies.

Everyday I'm amazed at Gods amazing creation and I think Gods creativity is best displayed in the creatures of the sea.  I feel so privileged to have been able to take pictures of such amazing creatures.

My camera was driving me crazy the whole time because of the low light conditions and the fish never staying still but I managed to get quite a few pictures that I'm really happy with.


I found Nemo! and he actually stayed still enough for me to get a good picture.  I also found Dory!

This picture is my favorite.  The special exhibit at the aquarium had octopuses, cuttlefish, and squids. I was able to capture this picture of a squid and I'm so happy that it's not blurry.  I'm spellbound at how big and intricate the squids eyes are.  Gods unique design is clearly seen in this creature.  

I know this is not a "Fish"  but this puffin (At least I'm pretty sure it was a puffin) posed so cute for me in this picture that I had to share it. I also really like the picture below of the same puffin because I think it gives a completely different story to same subject.  I love how you can see the puffins feet underwater and how you can see the water drops making it clear that the puffin is behind glass and living in captivity.

Anyway, with Thanksgiving just around the corner it's time for me to start counting my blessings.  I have so much to be thankful for and my family is at the top of my list. 

I'm doing my best each day to find the little blessings of life, ones that are often overlooked, and thank God for them.  

I hope you enjoy these pictures ;)

How to Cook a Pumpkin!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The best part of fall is pumpkin spice everything! Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Bread...  My favorite is Pumpkin Pie.  I love making Pumpkin Pie, but this year just the normal pumpkin from a can routine was not enough for me.  I decided to make my pie from a real pumpkin.  The pumpkin I used was a Cinderella Pumpkin.  I was so excited  about getting my own pumpkin that I had my own little picture shoot with it (Yeah, I know, I'm weird, but the picture above is my favorite from the shoot).

Today I am going to show you how I cooked my pumpkin and made pumpkin puree with it.  I was so surprised at how easy it was.  

First you wash your pumpkin (I almost forgot this step).  I decided to cut my pumpkin in half from the stem down.

I also cut the halves in half because it made it easier to get the seeds out.  I used a spoon and scooped out all the seeds and the stringy pumpkin gunk.  I placed all the pumpkin half's onto a big cooking pan.  I filled the pan with a thin layer of water and covered the pumpkin with tinfoil because I didn't want to burn the edges of my pumpkin. I cooked it in the oven for about two hours at 375 degrees.

I was surprised that my pumpkin had barely any seeds.  The Cinderella Pumpkins are more for cooking so they had a lot of meat to them and not a lot of seeds.  

While the pumpkin was cooking I seasoned the the pumpkin seeds, half with a garlic seasoning and the other half with a BBQ seasoning and olive oil.  

I put them in the oven for about twenty minutes.  I normally don't like pumpkin seeds.  I don't know why.  I kinda think it was more of a mind thing.  But I find that when you make something you don't necessarily know if you like you are more likely to try something new.  I found out that I actually really liked the pumpkin seeds.  We decided that the garlic seasoning was the better flavor.  

Back to my pumpkin.  Once it was soft and a little bit mushy I took it out of the oven and let it cool for about 30 minutes.

I scooped all the mushy meat of the pumpkin into a bowl.  It was really stringy. When I was done I was left with just the skin of the pumpkin.

Using a hand blender I blended the pumpkin mush (I'm calling it that cause that's really what it was), until it had a nice smooth texture.

What you now have is basically the same stuff you buy in a can. Fresh homemade pumpkin puree that is ready to be used in all of your pumpkin recipes.  I found that it is a little bit watery compared to the canned puree.  Next time I think I will try to drain some of the liquid out of it before I use it in my recipes.

I used my pumpkin to make pumpkin pie.  I was happily surprised to find as I took my first bite of the pie that the pumpkin flavor was really rich.  

I had a lot of leftover Pumpkin Puree so I froze some in an ice cube tray to use in smoothies and I used the leftover to make homemade Pumpkin Butter.

If you've never had Pumpkin Butter, you have to try it.  It is like fall in a jar.  I could just smell that stuff all day as it cooked in the crockpot.   I followed this really easy recipe I found on pinterest.  A link to the tutorial is below.  My favorite part is that there is no sugar in the recipe.  The main sweetener is honey.

So that was my cooking adventure this past week.  I'm trying to try at least one new recipe every week so I plan on doing many more tutorials.

Twenty and Blessed

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A sore throat and a pinched nerve in my neck that hurts whenever I look to my left greeted me this morning when I woke up. But I was determined not to let it bother me or take any joy away from this day. I pulled myself out of bed, jumped in the shower, and put a smile on my face because today was my birthday. I turned twenty years old today (No longer a teenager, Yeah!).

Unfortunately the smile I put on my face didn't last long. This year my birthday was on a Sunday and I was planning on wearing one of my favorite dresses to church today. The dress I really wanted to wear didn't work out and I found myself rushing around like crazy trying to put an outfit together and do my hair and make up (and my once clean closet is now in need of cleaning again).

I wish I could say the rest of my day went perfect and met all of my expectations but I'm just gonna be honest and say that I didn't have the perfect day, and things didn't go exactly how I wanted them to.

But Instead of focusing on all the things that "went wrong" I'm doing my best to choose to focus on the things I can be thankful for in my life. I'm twenty and blessed. So blessed. I have the best family who loves me very much. Each one of my siblings is very dear to me. My friends all wished me a wonderful day, and I have a lot to look forward in this next year.

My day may not have have gone exactly how I wanted it to go but that's not what matters. I'm learning that if I take the time to count my many blessings my disappointments vanish and I'm left feeling blessed and happy once again.

I've been thinking a lot about the next year of my life. I have decided that what I really hope for in this next year is for it to be a year of learning. I have come up with a list of things I want to either make, improve upon, or teach myself;

  • Improve my cooking skills by making a new meal at least once every two weeks and trying new dessert recipes. 
  • Learn how to make a dress without a pattern and learn how to make my own pattern. 
  • Read for at least 20 minutes everyday 
  • Make a hiccup cosplay for my brother (because I got an Astrid cosplay, but I kinda need a Hiccup cosplay now) 
  • Draw more, Write more, and take pictures more often 
  • Make a promise Box (If you want to know what this is check out this wonderful blog post from A Lovely Calling:
  • Most importantly grow closer in my walk with God 

I will most likely add to this list, it's still what you can call "an idea in progress". My goal in this list is to help me stay focused and not always fall into the habit of wasting my time. In the end I know that my plans are nothing compared to God's plans and I know his plans are always the best for me.

I'm excited to see what God has planned for me in this next chapter of my life. Twenty is gonna be a great age, I just have this feeling. I'm warming up to it quick and am ready to take my first steps of life in my twenties.

Welcome November!

Monday, November 2, 2015

November is finally here.  I love November!  It's my favorite month (I do have a particular reason for liking this month so much, hehe, but I'm not gonna tell yet).  

I can't believe that Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. I'm getting excited just thinking about how happy I'm gonna be when Christmas music is all I listen to and cuddling up in front of a warm fire with a warm drink in my hands is an often occurrence. 

Today is a beautiful rainy day and rainy days are always a good day to stay inside and clean. I have a closet full of costumes and the funny thing is I don't even store them in my closet. I've had my costumes hanging up in my parent's closet the past few years.  

My mom said she wants her closet space back so today I packed all of my costumes into bins and labeled them.  It always feels so good to get some cleaning and organizing done.

Last Saturday was Halloween and I wanna share some pictures of our fun outing that night.  

I've always wondered if celebrating Halloween and trick or treating was bad.  My family used to never called Halloween, Halloween.  We always called it Harvest Day.  We used go to harvest festivals at our church but the past few years we haven't really done much at all.    

Yesterday my family went to a local Halloween event in town.  We walked around town and it was really fun to see everyone in their costumes.  I decided to wear my Astrid Cosplay since I've never worn it in public before.  

My sister wore her airsoft gear and my brother dressed up in a military uniform from the Vietnam war that we found at the thrift store.  The last time he wore the uniform it was huge on him because he used to be so little.  I don't know what happened.  Now he's so tall and grown up.

People kept complimenting me on my costume and asking for a picture of my costume.  I loved how the little kids would recognize me as Astrid.  To them I really was Astrid.  I even found a little girl who dressed up as Astrid from the first movie.

They had a costume contest that was fun to participate in.  I was bummed my costume didn't get any of the places but all the compliments I got made up for my disappointment.

Anyway, I hope you're enjoy these pictures and I hope your just as excited as I am about Thanksgiving and Christmas!  The best time of the year has finally arrived!