Monday, January 30, 2012

Pinterest Vanity Search

Wanna see if you've been "pinned"?

Here's how....Type this:

(Take out my website and replace it with yours!)

How cool is that?!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chocolate Bundt Cake

Y'all, I wanted to share this delicious recipe with you! I got a new printer this weekend, and wanted to test print something. So, I opened a document that was on my desktop. It was this recipe. I have no idea where it came from, but it looked good so I decided to try it out. So good!!
OK, I obviously need to work on my photography skills, and I didn't add enough milk to the icing, but it was seriously so good!! Here's the recipe:

Cake Ingredients
Butter, for greasing the pan
1 3/4 cups flour, plus more for the pan
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Icing ingredients
1 stick of butter softened
Confectioner’s sugar, to taste (start out with 3-4 tablespoons and add to your desired level of sweetness)
1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla
Milk–just a little bit to thin it out
Combine the first three ingredients together using a whisk. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar, if desired. Add milk to thin it out. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a bundt pan.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then transfer onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Drizzle with icing.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Birth Story - Meri Hobbs

So after the time we had getting pregnant the first time and again with Sam, we didn't think we needed to get on a birth control after Sam was born. We moved to Georgia right after Sam turned a year old. I found a new doctor, told him our issues, and decided what we wanted to do.

Just shy of Sam turning 2, we decided we were ready to start trying for another baby. My new doctor said that since we knew combining Clomid and Glucophage worked for us, let's skip all the other stuff and get straight to that. So we did, and we were pregnant on month 2 of trying that! Woohoo!

When we found out we were having a girl, we were beyond excited (and scared!).  I ended up having gestational diabetes with this pregnancy, which was not really that big of a deal. I had to meet with a dietician weekly and check my blood sugar 4 times a day. I also had to have non-stress tests every other week, then every week, then twice a week as the due date got closer. I never had any issues, though, until the very end when my sugar would get a little wacky. So they put me on a pill that took care of it.

It was an uneventful pregnancy, and I again loved {almost} every minute of it! Because of the diabetes and the fact that we lived an hour away from civilization my hospital, we were gonna be induced this time.  Which meant that, again, I got to experience the wonder-drug Pitocin. We got to the hospital about 5:00 am to get things rolling.

I progressed very slowly, and that night about 5:00, the nurse came and checked me and I was still at 6 cm. She said they were changing shifts, and the new nurse would come and check me again in about an hour. My parents, Eddie's parents, and our honorary parents (who Meri Hobbs is named after) had all driven over for the big event.  When they saw how long this was going to take, they all decided to take Sam and to go eat supper.

A few minutes later, I start feeling really uncomfortable.  I was telling Eddie that I was feeling a lot of pressure. Something was going on. I called the nurse to come check it out for me. She got in there...oh yeah! This baby was coming!!

Eddie called his mom's cell phone, his mom's husband's cell phone, my mom's cell phone, my dad's cell phone, Big Ben's cell phone, Mrs. Brenda's cell phone....NO ONE answered!!! We knew the restaurant that his parents were going to eat, so he tried to call it. It was a Japanese Steakhouse...they had no clue what Eddie was trying to tell them!

So, after 13 hours in labor, Miss Meri Hobbs was born on May 18, 2007 weighing 7 pounds 3 ounces, and was 20 inches long.  She was born about 10 minutes before all the grandparents arrived!!
By the time she arrived, we had a digital camera, so I can include pics in this one!
Sam was a little nervous to come see his baby sister!
Now he decides to check her out!
Here's the big brother waiting for us when we got home from the hospital!

Our verse for Meri Hobbs was 2 Corinthians 9:15...."Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"

We are still thankful that God sent us this precious gift. The joy that Meri Hobbs has brought us is indescribable! Our prayer is that Meri Hobbs will grow into a Godly young woman who seeks to be holy as He is holy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Product of the Week

Today I bring you another installment of Aly and Tiffanie's Product of the Week....

Today my product is a sippy cup! (I was gonna do another hair product. But, really, if you have seen my {lack of} style, are you really gonna take product advice from me two weeks in a row?! I'll postpone that til next week!)

So, until then....the Nuby sippy cup
I am always losing sippy cups, or the plastic stopper things and it seems I never have all 3 parts I need. So, I'm always having to buy more. And, they are getting expensive! The ones I usually buy are $8 or $9 for a pack of 2. This cheap-o is not ok with that! So, last week, I was putting some in buggy and I happened to glance down and notice these Nuby ones in some bins on the bottom shelf. One of these was $1.42!  That, I can handle. And Noah and Eli don't seem to mind that they are cheap! :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Encouraging My Daughter

Something I am trying to reconcile in my mind is about my daughter. I know, for right now at least, that I am the biggest influencer in her life. I don't want to get this wrong! My question is how should I influence her??
This weekend after I got dressed, she said she wanted to be my twin and went and got matching clothes from her closet!

I want her to know and to believe that she can do anything she wants to do. Can be anybody she wants to be. OK, Meri Hobbs, you want to cure cancer? You can do it! Want to own your own company? You got it! Want to fly a big airplane? No problem! Want to teach 5th graders how to conjugate sentences? Easy! Want to perform complicated brain surgeries? Piece of cake! You can do whatever you set your heart and mind to do! I believe in you!

But here's where the flip side is. What if God wants her to be a wife and a mom? What if that's her heart's desire? I think that's awesome!! But how often do I encourage that?

I don't want her to think that just because I chose to quit my job and stay at home, that's what she has to do. I want her to find her own way. And I know that a lot of people think that staying home is the only thing a Christian woman needs to do. (See my thoughts on that here). 

I don't want to encourage her so much to be a successful businesswoman that I discourage anything else. I mean, let's face it, it would be harder for her to quit a job as surgeon than it would to quit a job as a teacher. (Harder because of the money she would lose is a lot more...harder because the years she invested to get her education would be a lot more...)

So here's where I am in it right now. I am trying to, sort of, balance my encouragement. I will encourage her to do her best, succeed in school, get involved, find what she loves and pursue it. But I'm also trying to find those moments that's she's doing wife and mom things, and encourage those. For example, when she's helping her little brother zip his coat...."Oh, Meri Hobbs, you are such a thoughtful sister. You are going to be a great mom one day!" When she wants to help unload the dishwasher...."Meri Hobbs, I love how eager you are to help in the kitchen. One day, you're going to have a husband who appreciates the things you do for him." I also need to model to her how to be a wife and a mom. She needs to see that I view my "job" as a joy, not a burden. I need to show her that serving my family makes me happy, and that it makes God happy. She needs to see that I am not less of a woman or less important than working women because of my choice to be home.

More than anything, though, I want Meri Hobbs to learn to seek what God wants for her. I want her to learn to pray through her decisions. To search the Bible for answers. To have a peace that she is following God's heart in the choices she makes for her life. In the end, if she's doing that, it won't matter if the only thing I ever told her was to become a circus clown. She will do what God wants, and that is what this mom wants for her!

How do YOU encourage your daughters?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Product of the Week

Today I'm linking up with Aly & Tiffanie to share with you my product of the week!

The product I'm loving this week is the Rockaholic Dry Shampoo.
My hair is wavy. And really thick. And it takes a really long time to dry it and straighten it. So when I do, I want it to last! I love this Rockaholic Dry Shampoo. Now, when I straighten my hair, I just use this the next day and I get 2 days out of my fabulous 'do!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hospitality... Tips on Entertaining Overnight Guests

On almost every spiritual gift assessment I've ever taken, I have tested highest in hospitality. For some reason, it scares me to say that "hospitality is my spiritual gift." (Although I'm sure saying that anything was my gift would scare me.) If I actually say it out loud, people will start expecting me to be...well....hospitable. And then, they will judge me on said hospitality. says that the spiritual gift of hospitality is the ability to welcome strangers and entertain guests, often in your home, with great joy and kindness so that they become friends. Hospitality is supposed to include one's family (I Tim 5:8), friends (Prov. 27:10), Christians (Gal 6:10), and strangers who may not be Christians (Lev. 19:34). The people with the gift of hospitality tend to have an "open home" where others are welcome to visit. This gift is often combined with the natural talents of interior design, cooking, and event planning.

So I'm not sure about the great joy and kindness part. Or the natural talents of interior design, cooking, and event planning. BUT I do enjoy having people in our home and Eddie and I have prayed that God would use our home to glorify Him.

OK, enough with the intro...on to what the post is about. I want people to feel welcome in our home. I want our guests to have everything they could need. I don't always succeed. We had friends come in this weekend, so I decided to make a list of what they would need to feel "at home" in our home. I decided to share this list with you. Some of these are no-brainers. But some are things I seem to forget to do until it's too late!

1. Clean your house. It doesn't have to be spotless. I know that my guests realize that I have 4 children and they will be forgiving. But, clean the bathrooms, clean the kitchen and at LEAST sweep/vacuum the floors. You want your guests to feel comfortable - not wanting to call the nearest hotel! If you don't have time to really do a good cleaning, PLEASE clean the bathroom they will be using! Toilet, vanity AND tub. If they are going to be showering there, don't make them regret not bringing their shower shoes.

2. Change the sheets. Do this at least for the bed they will be sleeping in. Then, make the bed up so it is nice and ready for them. Guests in my home have to stay in a kid's room. I do not have the luxury of having an extra room to use as a guest room. And, let's face it, kids can be dirty. Give your guests clean sheets!

3. Empty the trash cans....again, at least in the room and bathroom they will be using.

4. Prepare their bathroom. My guests also have to use a kid's bathroom. So, I try to remember to put adult towels and wash cloths (not hooded towels), an unopened bar of soap or at least a shower gel (this is one of my biggies when I visit somewhere....I don't want to use a bar of soap that has been used by every other guest that has been there. Gross!), and adult shampoo and conditioner. Also, wash the bath mat and hand towel. Make sure there is an extra roll of toilet paper where they can easily find it.

5. Have extra pillows and blankets in their room. If my kids are in a sleeping bag on my floor so someone can have their bed, they'll need their pillow. Which means there isn't one in the bed. Some people (like me) bring their pillows everywhere they go, but some don't!  Also, an extra blanket. We like to keep our house colder than the general population, so I try to remember to leave a blanket out just in case our guests get cold.

6. Have plenty of drinks and snacks available and make sure your guests know where they are.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list. It's also not a difficult list. These are a few easy suggestions to help make your guests more comfortable. I want to become a better hostess, and the Bible tells us to "practice hospitality" (Romans 12:13). It's a work in progress. But I will keep practicing and hopefully keep getting better!

What are your tips for making your guests feel welcome in your home?

I will be back for Hospitality, Part II....Entertaining Dinner Guests! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stats from 2011

So, I've only been blogging since September, but it's so exciting to me to look at my "stats".

In September, my total pageviews was 807. (This doesn't mean 807 different people...just that my blog was looked at 807 times.)
In October, it was 1,114.
November 1,792.
And December 1,808.

Pretty cool!!

Interesting search keywords (things people searched that led them to my blog):
*Teresa Strasser (Who?? Why would this lead someone to my blog?!)
*clean eating (ha! what is clean eating?! I'm pretty sure you won't find that at my house with 4 kids!)
*if someone wants to be a part of your life (aww)
*cardigans and crayons song (maybe I should write a theme song for my blog!) Top 5 posts from 2011 (according to the number of pageviews)
1. Monogrammed Swap  - No surprise that this was #1. I linked up with Kelly's Korner and she has like 6.4 million followers, so it shot a lot traffic my way for people wanting to buy monogrammed stuff.

2. It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas - I'm glad this was #2. This was my post with pictures of my Christmas decorations and pictures from my open house. I worked really hard and was proud of how it turned out! Glad somebody wanted to see!

3. Birth Story - Sam, Part 2 - Love this. Kinda self-explanatory on what the post is about!! :)

4. I am 1 in 4 - This was the hardest post for me to write. Cried the whole time I wrote it. It talks about the miscarriage of our first baby.

5. Birth Story - Sam - The first part of my precious baby's entrance to this world after a time of infertility and miscarriage

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My View from the Moving Van

Moving stinks. There are great parts about it. But it's hard. And it never seems to get easier.  I should know. In my 33 years on this earth, I have moved 12 times. If you weren't a math major, that averages out to every 2.75 years.  That's a lot. My family is NOT a military family, either!

Of those moves, 2 were dorms in college, and 6 were moves to different houses in the same town. So those weren't so hard. But it sounds more dramatic to say I've moved 12 times. But I have seriously lived in 6 different towns in 3 different states in 2 different time zones. For a girl who likes putting down some roots, that's tough.

Our last move was the toughest. We moved all 4 of our children (one of them being only 5 days old) to a whole new state. Sam, our oldest, was in Kindergarten, so thankfully the kids weren't leaving a ton of friends behind, but he still misses his one best friend.

But this move has been the toughest for me. The ironic thing about this being the toughest is that this is my favorite place we have lived so far. I LOVE where we are. I love our church. I love our house. I love the town. I love the people. But, still, change is hard.

I have realized over the last few years how precious (and rare) real friends are. And, honestly, it's hard to make real friends if you're moving all the time.  My closest friends are a few girls who I grew up with. When I went home over Christmas, I got to have dinner with two of them. I CHERISH these times. I feel most like me when I'm with them. They know me. I know them. There doesn't need to be any pretending. No convincing. No posturing. Just love. And understanding. And being confident that somebody "gets" me. I know typing it out, it sounds cheesy even to me. But that's really how it is, and I love it.

Our dinner last month, though, was hard for me. I may or may not have broken down into tears at my favorite restaurant.  Being there with my friends made me realize how much I miss them. And how much of them I miss out on. There is WAY too much catching up on each others' lives. I wish I just knew what was going on. They both knew what was going on with each other. It was just me who didn't. I know they live in the same town and get to see each other more, but I hate the feeling of being the odd man out. Not that they leave me out. It's just how it is. I don't live there. It can't be helped. I can accept that, but I don't have to like it.

Then there are my Georgia friends. Before we moved here to Louisiana, that was our home for 5 years. I made a few good friends there, and even some GREAT friends.  But the thing with that....the people who live there have lived there for years. Most of them forever. So, I moved in, and tried to figure out my place there. I did have some fun, great, sweet friends. But, once again, I moved. They didn't. Their lives remained the same, or worse, returned to life exactly the way it was before I came there. Like I never even was a part of their lives. Sure, there are the exchanged Christmas cards or "checking in" texts/facebook posts and promises of visits. But it's different. And unlike my hometown friends, there is no history. I don't know their "backstory" and they don't know mine. Nothing that creates that cement that friendships need to survive. So keeping up with these friends takes a lot work. From both parties. And sometimes life gets too busy to be able to put in that effort.

So, now, here in the present...I've been in Louisiana for a year now and I'm in that "trying to figure out my place" role. There are tons of really sweet, really Godly girls here that I love. I hope and pray that we are gonna be here for a long time. Previous pastors have stayed 20+ years and I want to be in that category!! But right now we're still in the new phase. People here already have their groups of friends. And so many of these groups have been so wonderful about welcoming me and including me and making me feel loved. But I still know that I'm not part of the group (YET!). I know that's normal, and again, it's just a part of being the new girl and that everyone has been there and I'm not alone. But it's still a hard place to be when you're there.

I desire close friendships with girls. I want real friendships. Ones that aren't just surface. {which is also difficult because sometimes it's hard for me to get real with people who are church members since my husband is the pastor, but that's a whole different post} I am trying so hard not to just give up even trying. It would be easy for me to say "it doesn't matter" or "it's not worth it." But I refuse to do that! I believe that close friendships are a wonderful gift from God. And I am determined to be a better those I've known my whole life, to those I only knew a short time, and now to those that I'm just becoming friends with.

Disclaimer 1:
I also know that part of it is just where I am in life. I have young babies at home. I am in the midst of schedules and diapers and naptimes and getting everyone where they need to be. I know that things will change sooner than I'm ready and that I'll one day have time to meet friends for coffee and lunch and trips to Target. I know that. But this post is about how moving has affected me. And that's where it has hit me the my friendships.

Disclaimer 2:
I also know that I have not been the kind of friend that I am saying I want. I realize that all friendships take two people to make it work and I don't always invest like I need. I don't always take the time to cultivate my friendships. I don't call/text as often as I should to check in with people. I'm not whining that I'm the perfect friend and that my friends don't reciprocate. Again, not the point of this post. This is just a post saying that moving a lot makes making and keeping friends harder than it would be if I had stayed put.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Devotion Time Selections...

Here are some things I am using in my quiet time with the Lord right now that I would love to suggest to you!!

1. Jesus Callling by Sarah Young....I start my time out reading the thought for the day in this. It is short and written as if Jesus was talking to you. It is a wonderful way to focus my attention on Him and bring my thoughts to Him.

2. The One Year Through the Bible Devotional (published by Tyndale)....It has the Bible divided into sections to read, and it has a devotional thought to go along with it. I love this because sometimes (especially in the Old Testament...especially in the who begat whom sections) I tend to kinda skim. This devotional suggests parts to focus on and helps me think about the passages with background on it or thought provoking questions about it or ways it can apply to me today.

3. The Bible. Obviously. I use the New American Standard version. It's a word for word translation (instead of thought for thought like some, such as the New International Version). I like the NAS because it's accurate and easy to read and understand.

4. Journal....I have journaled off and on, but I am trying it again. I am writing down anything God teaches me as I read. I am writing down things that stick out to me. Questions I have. What I'm praying for. Sometimes it's long, sometimes it's one sentence. One of my biggest problems in my spiritual walk is that I can get legalistic. I'm not setting up any rules for myself in this journal. Just write down what I feel like I need to write down! But it's important to keep me focused and not let my mind wander.

5. Prayer time....this is another component I have struggled with in focus. Right now I'm going through the Louisiana Baptist's 21 Day Prayer Journal. I am liking that in that it gives me Scripture to pray about and helps focus my prayer time. I am also enjoying the journalling part of this...sometimes I write my whole prayer and sometimes I write down bullet points.

That's what my quiet time is composed of. I am also going through (for the 2nd time) the Bible Study "Satisfy our Souls...a Cry from the Desert" by Frances Worthington. I do this at a different time than my quiet time because I don't want to let this take the place of my quiet time. So I do it after everyone is in bed at night on the nights when I can.

I love this study because I can relate SO much to it. Her paragraph on the back of the book says "Do you find yourself thriving in mountain-top experiences only to plunge into barren, arid desert reality that chokes out your joy? Your shoes are full of sand and your heart is dried out. You're gritty and grumbling and wondering why this keeps happening."

YES!! It's all about learning to let God satisfy our souls "as with the richest of foods." Psalm 63:5

Well, this is what I'm doing. I am feeling really excited about my own revived time with God. I hope you will make time for Him, too!

What does your devotional time consist of? Any suggestions for me??

Annoying Phrases

*I know, right {I  have to agree with your "I know"??}

*It is what it is {Well, of course it is}

*Amazeballs {What? Who makes this stuff up?}

*At the end of the day {What about tomorrow?}

*irregardless {This is not a real word, people!}

What phrases annoy you??

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New year, new ME!

I'm not really one to make resolutions. I did, however, reflect on my last year and figure out where I wanted to change. Where I wanted to improve. What I wanted to do with my new start.

With the husband: I want to be more of an asset to him and his ministry. Since we started dating in 1997, my prayer has been that I would never be a hindrance to his ministry. I'm sure there have been times I have come up short in this.

I am very sensitive. And I'm not good at hiding my feelings. If I'm thinking it, you can read it on my face. And I'm most sensitive and can be most defensive about my husband. And sometimes people can be insensitive. And thoughtless. Mean, even. Sometimes even church people. I hope and pray that as things have happened in the past, that my responses and reactions have not reflected badly on Eddie.

I want to be more of an encouragement to him. I want to be a place of refuge for him. I want him to never doubt that I support him 100% and will always "have his back." I want to complain less. I want to be more positive. I want to make less suggestions. I want to jump to conclusions less and give him the benefit of the doubt more. I want to make fewer assumptions. 

I want to be the wife with a gentle, quiet spirit which is precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:4). I want to be more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled (Galatians 5:22-23).

With the kids: I want to be more there. I want to watch them play less and play with them more. I want to cook for them less and cook with them more. I want to read to them less and read with them more. I want to listen to them giggle less and laugh with them more.

I want to them look at me and see my delight and love, and not an angry, disappointed, frustrated face. I want to be more patient. More gentle. More fun. More relaxed.

I want to be a better example of God's love for us and to encourage them to grow in to Godly men and women.

With me: I want to be more intentional and consistent in my time alone with God.

I want to be a better friend. Be more compassionate. Be more generous. Be less focused on me and more focused on others. Be more helpful. Be proactive instead of reactive. Be more gracious.

I want to worry less about what I should have done or need to be doing and just enjoy my life and my family and the blessings that God has given me.

I want to have less expectation. Especially for my children. I have really high expectations, which I don't necessarily think is a bad thing. God expects perfection from us. But He is more gracious and loving with me when I fail than I am when others don't meet my expectations. I need to realize that my children are just that...children.... and be a better guide in showing them how to live instead of impatiently and angrily telling them when they get it wrong.

Wow. This is kinda an overwhelming list. Impossible, even. Thank goodness that "with God, all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)

What changes do you want to make?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Thoughts for the New Year

This was yesterday's devotion from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. What a wonderful thought at the beginning of this year. Hope it speaks to you as much as it did to me.

Come to me with a teachable spirit, eager to be changed. A close walk with Me is a life of continual newness. Do not cling to old ways as you step into a new year. Instead, seek My face with an open mind, knowing that your journey with Me involves being transformed by the renewing of your mind. As you focus your thoughts on Me, be aware that I am fully attentive to You. I see you with a steady eye, because My attention span is infinite. I know and understand you completely; My thoughts embrace You in everlasting love. I also know the plans I have for you: plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Give yourself fully to this adventure of increasing attentiveness to My Presence.

Romans 12:2; Jeremiah 29:11

Wow! I am ready for Him to change me! I am READY to let go of my old ways. I am ready for this adventure.

Are you?