Monday, April 30, 2012

I am Organizationally Challenged...

Seriously, it may be hard to believe when you see pictures like this one, but organization is just not an area I am gifted in!

What you are viewing above is a picture of Stephanie's favorite shelves in the new pantry!  She loves all the red lids!  Actually, they are old washed out peanut butter containers from the days before I was purchasing 20lb. tubs of peanut butter!

This weekend my fabulous hubby {in spite of some serious bronchitis} put in this:

While this looks pretty organized, I know I could do better with putting like items together, labeling, probably even having better containers.  I know so many of you are so much more naturally talented in this area!!!  {Doors are pending, as they need to be painted!}  This pantry replaces a blank wall that is part of the back hall just off our kitchen.  Neighbors down the street have a similar pantry in their home, and I have been dreaming of one for years!  

Well, this is the year, because {also inspired by our neighbors} we are doing a little kitchen remodel and taking out these:

Ken will be removing all of the upper cabinets, and the lower cabinets to just to the right of the "Lazy Susan". {I never figured out why they call them that!}  Then, he will be taking out the wall that is between our kitchen and dining area!!!

     Here is a view from the dining side:

I know most of you DIYers love pictures of the construction in the, I will be better about showing what we do as we do it.  I would have shown the process of installing the pantry, but thought of it too late!

So..since I can't participate much in the construction part of this project, I'm thinking of tackling a little project of my own:

And, since I'm organizationally challenged...this should keep me busy for quite a while!!!  Seriously, any of you talented people out there want to send me some ideas?

I'd love to see links to your projects!  I'm always inspired by others!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed! {Well, not by the final pictures, but maybe by the first few!}

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Berry Berry Muffins...

So, last week we were celebrating that our little bundle was the size of a what else do you cook up? {OK, so I didn't have just raspberries, so instead we made Berry Berry Muffins!}

A few years ago I went to a "Breakfast for Dinner Potluck".  My friend Jodi brought the most fabulous Blueberry Muffins with Crumble Topping!  Last week I just had to add the crumble topping...thanks for the inspiration Jodi!!!

Here's my variation of the recipe {Fast and Easy}:

Mama Cook's Berry Berry Muffins

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 beaten egg
1/4 teas. salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
3/4 C berries (any type)

Crumble Topping

Mix together with a fork:

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon               

Preheat oven to 400 degrees! Mix all muffin ingredients together in a mixing  bowl - batter will still be slightly lumpy.  Lightly grease muffin tins and fill 2/3 full with batter.  Top with Crumble Topping! Bake in 400 degree oven about 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean!  Makes 10-12.

This week our bundle is the size of a green olive...sorry, I won't be posting any Martini Recipes!

And, yes, food is on my brain a bit more these days...but I'm not changing to a food blog...though it may seem like it for a while!

Thanks for stopping by! Be Refreshed!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Do You Know Your Grains? {Recipe}

You've heard the saying ~ "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!"  Well in our house last week it became ~ "When life gives you wheat berries, make Wheat Berry Soup!"

Last week while I was taking my little girls to ballet, I had left my older girl in charge of making rice.  But, when I arrived home, I found a pot of wheat berries happily cooking away!

It is easy to confuse the two...especially when they are in unmarked bins in the cupboard!

Here is what they look like when cooked:

So, not one to let food go to waste, I quickly did some research for a hearty Wheat Berry Soup!  The results were fantastic! 

Here's the recipe...with all of my variations as I did not have most of the ingredients on hand!
{The "secret ingredient" in this one is the lemon!}

Wheat Berry Soup

  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large large carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  •  3/4 teaspoon allspice
  •  3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups Cooked Wheat Berries (We cooked ours the same way you would cook brown rice!)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • Preparation

    1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add garlic, All Spice, and Nutmeg and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds more. Remove from the heat.
    2. Transfer to Stock Pot and add vegetable stock, lemon juice and wheat berries.  Cook until heated through!
    We served it with a yummy loaf of Crusty Garlic Bread and some Tabasco Sauce {for us spice lovers}!

    I'd love to hear how you have improvised and discovered something new!!!

    Thanks for stopping by! Be Refreshed!

    Friday, April 13, 2012

    Friday Fast Tip {Spoiled Eggs and a Winner!}

    One of these things is not like the other {key Sesame Street music}:

    Last Saturday when I went to boil our eggs for egg dyeing it reminded me of how to check for egg freshness.  I was thinking, I should leave an egg out so it can spoil and then show each of you how to test for freshness. But, as Providence would have it, I didn't have to...

    Here's the trick:

    See how most of the eggs are on the bottom, but one is floating?  When an egg has spoiled, it produces gases inside the shell.  The result is an egg that floats instead of sinking!  So, if your eggs have been in the fridge for a while, you can use this test and toss the ones that don't stay on the bottom!

    And now what you've all been waiting for...

    The Winner of k.rev designs' Birdie Bracelet is:

    ~~~~~~~~Kim Russell!~~~~~~~~

    {I used a Random Number Generator @ to produce our winner! Just in case you were wondering!} me with your pick of colors for your Birdie Bracelet and I will be sure to get it to you!  Congratulations!!!

    Have a terrific weekend!

    Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Celebrating with Sweet Peas!

    Last week I mentioned that I was behind the gun on getting our peas in the ground.  I usually have them planted around St. Patrick's Day!  But, being that my kiddos LOVE peas right off the vine...I had to plant them anyway!

    I come from a long line of gardeners!  My dad grows prolific tomatoes.  My mom always had a beautiful abundant garden.  And my grandpa had rows and rows of yummy veggies in his farm-sized patch!

    Only, the gene wasn't passed down...or, well, I just don't work as hard, or maybe it's my commitment to organic that makes my produce smaller.  Whatever the reason...I do it anyway!  Why, because I love it and I have an ideal of one day learning the secrets of feeding my family more from my own yard than from the store!

    Sweet peas are an easy one!  I plant, pray, and they produce!  I have yet to have them fail!

    Here is my process:

    Insert finger into dirt to first knuckle...

    Drop pea into hole...cover...water...wait...enjoy!

    Do you see the nails sticking out of the wood on the edges of the picture?  I use those to string twine or yarn over the arbor that my husband built over our garden. The peas cling to it as they grow and it saves space in the rest of the bed! {I've also used fishing line, but inevitably a child thinks it is meant to be played as a guitar and it snaps causing the peas to fall!}

    This is string from last year's pea plantings!

    So if you read the title, some of you may be asking, "What do peas and celebrations have to do with each other?"


    It only seemed appropriate to plant Sweet Peas when our expected addition is the size of a Sweet Pea!

    Yes...after 6 positive pregnancy tests, I figured we were safe to share the news!

    We couldn't be more ecstatic!

    Don't forget to enter the giveaway for the Birdie Bracelet by k.rev designs by clicking here!

    Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    Celebrating Spring with a Super Fun Giveaway!

    Birdie Bracelet by k.rev designs

    Happy Spring Everyone!  Have you seen k.rev designs newest addition? {Click on the company name to be redirected to her website!}  Kristin, the owner, has generously agreed to donate one of these beautiful bracelets for a Cook's Cottage giveaway!

    I wish all of you had the opportunity to meet this precious woman in person!  Kristin is mama to three, a lovely wife, lover of all things beads, and one of the most genuine Christian women I know!

    Seriously, Kristin is the type of woman that exudes the true character of Jesus Christ, living out the commandment to:
    "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" {Luke10:27}

    She has that raw sense of love in her everyday character ~ walking without judgment and loving those around her with a deep desire to see others know Christ at face value! {Not the Christ that some "religious people" have made him into.}

    She is someone I hope to get to know better as our lives cross paths more and more! win one of k.rev designs' beautiful Birdie Bracelets, simply leave a comment!  Friday I will pop in with the winner and a Friday Fast Tip you won't want to miss!

    Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

    Linking to: The Better Mom, A Handful of Heart, What Joy Is Mine, The Straightened Path {Motivation Monday}, Women Living Well, Deep Roots at Home

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    Popping in for a Fast Friday Find...

    My hubby came home early today and while I was planning on posting on planting sweet peas, I’ll have to save that for next week! {If you get an opportunity to plant sweet peas this weekend, DO IT!!!!  I’m behind the gun on planting, as I usually have them in the ground by St. Patrick’s Day!}

     So, instead I had to share a treasure I found at my local thrift store…

    I have desired a ring holder for my kitchen ever since my husband replaced my basic wedding band with a more intricate ring!  It is beautiful, but not conducive to hands in dough!

    While on a walk to mail some Easter cards, we stopped in at my favorite thrift store, NW Thrift Store {all of their proceeds go to educate foster children.}  This sweet thing was on a back shelf, waiting for me to snatch him up! At $3.99 and cute to boot ~ I scored! Plus, doesn’t he just make you smile?

    Sneak Peek
     Come back Monday…I am preparing a spectacular giveaway from k.rev designs that you will want to be sure not to miss!

    Happy Easter Everyone!  He is Risen...He is Risen indeed!

    Thanks for Stopping By!  Be Refreshed!

    Thursday, April 5, 2012

    A Testimony to Tithing {Part 2}...

    As I mentioned before, there are so many principles that are learned through the act of tithing! Three big ones that come to mind:

    v  Stewardship – taking care of what has been given to us and taking care of others.  Remembering that nothing belongs to us!  {“The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” - Psalm 24:1}

    v  Sacrifice – giving up our “wants”! Learning to be content! {“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Phil. 4:12}

    v  Surrender - No longer relying on self, but relying on the true provider! Testing the principles of God’s provision by walking in Faith! {"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." -Malachi 3:10 }

    I think each one of us will find a challenge in at least one of the principles I mentioned above!  For me, it has been different in different seasons as God has worked on refining me!

    In Part 1, I shared a testimony of the beginning of the journey of tithing for us.  At that time, I was learning about not relying on myself and learning to trust the Lord I said I put my faith in!  Today I’m going to share with you another story that combines the Stewardship and Surrender principles…

    To lay the foundation, let me explain that my husband and I purchased our home when we were merely 22 years old!  God did an amazing work in our lives by opening doors and closing others that brought us to this home that, while not large {1980 sq. ft}, has always expanded to fit our family and needs!  Only at 22, I did not recognize who the true provider of my home was!  I took great credit in how Ken and I had “succeeded” at such an early age, how we had sacrificed and worked hard to accomplish what our peers were not even considering yet for their lives! Hmmm…isn’t there a verse about “pride coming before a fall?”

    Fast forward a few years, Ken was working as an apprentice electrician, and I was doing a part-time daycare out of our home.  By this time God had gotten a hold of our hearts and we were learning about surrendering to Him!  One morning, Ken arrived home from work!  I was suspicious, because it was so early in the day.  To keep a very long story short, he had been severely injured at work {electrocution and an 8 foot fall} and had driven himself home, in shock!

    This turn of events brought our financial world to a very quick halt!  We began functioning in a “pay as able” mode.  Eventually we found ourselves 5 months behind on our mortgage and preparing to sell our “dream”.  One day we packed some of our belongings and drove them to a storage unit in a city we felt we could afford to live in – much more rural and away from our friends and family.  But God was preparing to show us Who would provide!

    The next Monday, I received a letter in the mail from the IRS that they owed us money!  What?  The IRS wanted to give us money? No Way!!!

    Sure enough, after having my accountant Father in Law review our tax return, the IRS indeed did owe us a large sum of money!  That, combined with the current year’s tax return, gained us a refund that exactly covered, to the penny, our back mortgage!!!! 

    Coincidence?  I think not!!!

    This, my friends, is your same God!  If you choose to trust and follow Him! Take a step in faith – test Him {He has asked you to} – bathe in the blessings – and remember to share your testimony!

    Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    A Testimony to Tithing {Part 1}...


    The subject of tithing has come up a lot recently, so not one to miss a hint, I decided I'd better write on the subject!

    As you would expect, our family believes firmly in tithing...there are a lot of principles that are involved in the process of tithing.  {These I will address in my next post!}

    For now, I want to start with a letter that I wrote to friends and family a few years back that testifies to a place where God had brought us in our tithing!  I pray it inspires!

    Many of you know our testimony to God's provision in times past. Though long, I wanted to share this to show you that our God is ALWAYS faithful.  We need only to put our faith and trust in Him...

    As I sat to pay our monthly bills, I first wrote our check for tithe. Only this check would need to include our building fund payment - as well as a past due building fund payment.   Looking over the bills and the income that would come in for the month, it was difficult not to notice that things would be quite close...and this would not include our gas or food for the month.  (Creativity abounds in the Cook Kitchen, as I make some interesting meals from what the Lord has provided through a food resource He has blessed us with and some "storage food" from a friend who moved across country a couple of years ago.) Word at Ken's work is that there is not much work left, and unemployment has been looming over our household for weeks.  But, God has been faithful and every week, Ken has continued to work!  Praise God!

    It is difficult to look at a situation like this and not be tempted to hold onto anything over and above our tithe, especially at this time of year and with such uncertainty ahead of us.  But, I wrote our check, praying in faith, believing that God would provide for us - as He has always proven to do so in the past - and actually eagerly anticipated Sunday morning when we could give our offering.

    After working a 1/2 day on Friday, Ken received word that he indeed would be working one more week (before I turned in our offering). I gave praise to God for His faithfulness to us, and credited our obedience.  But, come Monday, after working only 1/2 of a day Ken was sent home.  We waited to see what work would be provided, and Tuesday passed with no call for work. God granted me the peace to rest in Him and know that He would provide.  Today is Wednesday, and Ken was called for work tomorrow - Praise God! (Let me qualify all of this by telling you that there is no provision for paid time off in the line of work Ken is in, so our already tight budget just got tighter.)

    Today, as I opened our mail there was a Christmas letter from someone from our church.  The card was anonymous, and a $100 gift card was enclosed!!!!  A note said, "The Lord told us to give you this to help out with Christmas.  Praise the Lord!  Love, a CHCC family"  Praise the Lord indeed!!!!!  I am overcome with emotion and gratitude, to the Lord again for His faithfulness and towards this family for their obedience!

    After trying to decipher who the card was from so we could thank them and share our testimony, the Lord impressed upon me that our testimony needed to be shared with all of you.

    So, thank you to the one that sent this gift, may the Lord bless you 10 fold! "You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God!" - 2 Corinthians 9:11

    To those of you who are finding yourselves struggling, I encourage you to continue to tithe and obey God in other areas of offering as He calls you to, even when it doesn't make sense to you. He IS faithful! "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."  Malachi 3:10

    To those who are not struggling, but have received this as a testimony to tithing and obedience to God's voice receive this as confirmation. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galations 6:9

    For the few of you that God laid on my heart to send this to who have not yet chosen to follow Him.  Hear this testimony and understand the heart of our Lord God and His precious son Jesus.  He cares for and loves each of us  so much that He will never abandon us. "The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." Psalm 9:9-10

    Blessings to all of you this Christmas season and always!  You all are very dear to us!

    Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!