Oreo Balls

I have a new obsession this year, it’s Oreo® Balls. I tasted one last year and knew I had to have the recipe. I have it! And I have already made two batches. The first batch was a bit of a learning curve for me. I usually have a trial run while I figure out just how it’s supposed to be done.

cookies, Oreo Cookies, Oreo Cookie Balls, Christmas cookies

One of the best things about these cookies is they only require 3 ingredients. The taste reminds me of cake pops but a bit more gooey on the inside.

My first batch looked a little something like this:

cookies, Christmas cookies, Oreo cookies

I added the red sprinkles for the festive appeal and to hide the chocolate bits that were mixing in with the white dipping bark.

The next batch came out just how I wanted them to. I am giving them to my customers for a Christmas gift along with a few other treats.

Oreo Cookies, Christmas cookies

For now I will share the Oreo Cookie Ball recipe with you!

Oreo® Cookie Balls

1  8 ounce package of cream cheese

36 Oreo cookies, finely chopped

16 ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

1. Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until well blended.

2. Shape into 48 (1 inch) balls. Freeze 10 minutes. (Hint: I kept them in the freezer longer. Keeps the crumbs out of the melted dipping chocolate.)Dip balls in melted chocolate, place in single layer on waxed paper.

3. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.

That’s it! Enjoy and don’t forget to share!

 

Grace is a Beautiful Thing

Last month at Southeast Christian Church Kyle Idleman did a series on Grace. It was called Grace > (is greater than). Grace is a beautiful thing.

grace, life

The second lesson in the series was called: Grace > Hurts.  This was a very timely lesson for me. I realized while listening to Kyle talk that grace is greater than all my inadequacies, hurts, losses, and  lousy memories. That’s a beautiful thing.

Kyle Idleman is an amazing teacher. I often come home with many things to think on when he teaches. that’s why I wrote What is Wrong With a Mega Church? Here are a few things Kyle said that gave me something to ponder during this series:

Grace is beautiful when you receive it but messy when you see it.

The test is when you extend grace to someone who has hurt you the most and deserves it the least. This is when you know it’s real.

Stop thinking about the wrong that’s been done to you and focus on the things Jesus did for you instead. Was he talking to me, really?

Grace is indeed a beautiful thing. These are powerful words. But we can’t mistake grace for a way out of taking responsibility for our lives, our actions, or the inappropriate and harmful behaviors of others we are in a relationship with.

Grace is huge. Without it there is no hope. Finding the balance, owning our stuff while accepting grace is the goal, though none too easy to achieve.

Finding out about grace is freeing. I am free to forgive; myself and others, but free too, to do the next right thing.

Hebrews 12:15 says: See to it that no one misses the grace of God. Wow!

The last two lessons in the series left me with more to ponder. One thing was this; God doesn’t ask me to forgive more than I have been forgiven. What do I do with this? What do I do with it all?

Again, it is important to keep in mind that forgiveness does not equal forgetting or letting someone off the hook. It is imperative to own our actions ALWAYS!

Kyle also encouraged us to delight in our weaknesses. Delight in them? We don’t even like to acknowledge them! In our weakness is when God can show up. I know this to be true but to know our weaknesses, share them with others and allow God to be in them is a journey I have just started.

Grace > circumstances. All circumstances. My circumstances. Your circumstances. God knows. He sees. And His grace is greater.

Grace is a beautiful thing. A messy thing. A necessary thing to live a life of freedom and peace.

See to it that no one misses the grace of God.

I hope they don’t, my friend. I hope they don’t.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bourbon Ganache

My favorite cookie I made for Christmas last year was Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bourbon Ganache. Sharing the recipe again!

Cookie time again! I made Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bourbon Ganache. And yes, these have bourbon too. I’m not a lush or anything…really I’m not, but there’s something about chocolate and bourbon… Tis the season.

I recently made Candied Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies and posted the recipe: (click here).

I found the recipe for this cookie in Southern Living Magazine last year and am just now trying them out. They are definitely worth the effort.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bourbon Ganache

 

 

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Bourbon Ganache

Makes: 2 1/2 dozen

Hands-on Time: 5 hr., 45 min, including ganache

3/4 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used light)

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp., baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

1 (12-oz) package semisweet chocolate morsels

Parchment paper

Bourbon Ganache

1. Preheat over to 350duty.

2. Combine flour and next 2 ingredients in a small bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in morsels just until combined. Drop dough by level spoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, using a small cookie scoop (about 1 1/8 inches).

3. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheets to wire racks, and cool completely (about 30 minutes).

4. Spread Bourbon Ganache on flat side of half of cookies (about 1 Tbsp. per cookie); top with remaining cookies. Cover and chill cookies 2 hours or until ganache is firm.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Bourbon Ganache

Melt 1 (12-oz) package semisweet chocolate morsels and 1/2 cup whipping cream, stir. When completely melted and mixed whisk in 3 Tbsp (I used 2 Tbsp) of bourbon, 3 Tbsp., softened butter, and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. Cover and chill, stirring occasionally, 1 hour and 30 minutes or until thickened to a spreadable consistency.

Bourbon Ganache

Making Christmas Ornaments

This is a repost! I loved making Christmas ornaments a few years ago. Here it how I did it!

I have been making ornaments. A lot of ornaments! I found this simple idea on Too Much Time On My Hands blog ( one of my fav blogs!), and I have become an ornament-making machine!

First I bought some clear glass ball ornaments. Sorry about the blur!

That’s when the fun began!

 

I went to Half Price Books and bought an old music book, Mozart, as a matter of fact. I cut the sheet music into strips and put them into the glass ball. I bought some lace at a fabric store, added some twine, fired up the hot glue gun and this is the result.

 

Then I spotted another ornament idea on another blog: Under The Table (another fav blog!). First I used about one tablespoon of Pledge Floor Care. I used a funnel to pour it in and gently swished it around to cover all the interior surfaces. No shaking…that causes bubbles. I then used another funnel to pour Martha Stewart glitter into the ornament. I swished that around until the glitter stuck to the entire ornament. I tied some ribbon to hang from the tree and here it is!

 

I added a bow to the sheet music ornament instead of lace to create a different look.

 

Another glitter ornament.

 

And I added a few snowflake cling thingies to this one. The possibilities are endless!

 

Christmas Can Be Hard

My sister-in-law lost her grandma last week. That’s always a tough thing to deal with, especially around the holidays. Christmas Can Be Hard is a post I wrote last year. This year I am thinking of all the people who have suffered great losses this year, losses due to death, divorce, separation for whatever reason and everyone dealing with a situation. My heart goes out to them all as I repost Christmas can be hard.

I am mindful today, this Christmas Eve morn, pondering the loss of those we love as I read on Facebook of people who are gone, and thinking of my little brother. This is the thirty-fourth Christmas without him. I’m not sure why this is a bigger deal to me this year than most, but it kinda is. Christmas can be hard.

Who are you missing this Christmas?

Christmas Tree

My brother died in a car accident when he was eighteen years old. In my mind he is forever young. I sometimes try to imagine what he would have been like as an adult. What he would have done, who he would have married and how many nieces and nephews I missed out on.

It is what it is… he isn’t here.

Christmas can be hard indeed.

Many people experience feelings of longing, loneliness and missing someone more than usual at this time of year.

I’m especially sorry for those who are going through the first Christmas,  New Year, and anniversary of any kind. Those firsts are so very rough, and just so you know… they lied…time doesn’t heal all wounds. The passing of time helps ease the pain of the loss that has occurred and life goes on, but it’s never the same.

Every year, at Christmas, other holidays and family events, or just a normal average day, I miss my brother and those other loved ones who have gone before us.

If you are experiencing a loss this Christmas, or just missing someone special who has been gone awhile, I wish you moments filled with happy memories, and a peace that only God can give because Christmas can be hard.

How to Relieve Stress During the Holidays & Get Back to Enjoying the Season

Last year I wrote a post for The SITS Girls that I am sharing again today! I hope you find some tips on how to relieve stress during the holidays and get back to enjoying the season.

how to relieve stress

Photo Credit: The SITS Girls

How to Relieve Stress During the Holidays

Women tend to suffer more than usual during this time, or stuff the feelings inside, which isn’t a good thing to do for a number of reasons.

Here are a few tips to help you not only survive the holidays, but to actually enjoy them this year.

1. Get In Touch With Your Inner Child

Take a few minutes to sit in a quiet place and revisit the Christmases of your childhood. What did you enjoy the most about those times? Was it the gift giving? The time off school to spend with friends? Getting together with extended family members? Whatever it was, allow yourself some time to reflect upon those memories and feel the joy. It just might carry over into Christmas present!

2. Don’t Try To Be Perfect

It’s a total impossibility anyway so why waste precious time and energy trying to make everything perfect? You go through a lot of trouble to make it all just right. Maybe you’re newly married, or a first-time mom or you’re having a house full of guest. It won’t be perfect! And most people wouldn’t notice even if you could work that perfection magic, certainly not a newborn. It is what it is, so enjoy the moment, knowing that memories are being made with or without perfection.

To read the rest of the post (4 more tips) and to add your own ideas, please click the link: How to Relieve Stress During the Holidays & Get Back to Enjoying the Season

 We would love to hear your suggestions on how to have a less stressful holiday season.

 

Good Enough Life

Have you ever heard of a good enough life? I hadn’t until a couple of months ago. It was weird, I heard it twice in a period of a week or two, by two different sources and in reference to marriage and parenting.

life coach, trained mentor, satisifying relationships, relationships, marriage, parenting

When I first heard the term, “Good enough marriage” it seemed like a negative thing. I listened as the gentleman went on to explain how a good enough marriage was a relationship based on the mutual needs of each partner; engaging in the meeting of those needs and connecting along the way.

What made the good enough life hit home with me was when I listened to the speaker talking about parenting and how you didn’t need to be this over the top, awesome and wonderful parent. You just needed to be the parent each individual child needed you to be. No more, no less. That is called good enough parenting.

Why  do we get caught up in the fallacy that life has to be perfect? Relationships, marriages, parenting, work, all have this standard that is oftentimes beyond our reach, and when we “fail” to meet those perimeters set by, well, who knows?, then we feel guilty, and shameful, and like we somehow don’t measure up.

What a ridiculous idea. Walking around feeling like a failure in any area of your life is no way to live. That’s where a good enough life enters in. It’s not settling for something less than you deserve or desire. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s deciding what you want in life, in your relationships with your spouse, children and other family, friends and partners in your sphere of being. It’s taking inventory of what you want and need and determining how you can achieve those things, and keeping others in mind as well.

A good enough life isn’t putting up with disrespect. It’s not even loosening the boundaries you have in place. It’s a beautiful way to take care of yourself and your relationships.

I know it appears like everyone else, at times, has a better life than we do. Facades are safely in place and protected with the enhancement of social media. I’m not knocking social media. I’m a huge fan. It serves an important purpose  in the business world, but it also has a way of making us feel more dissatisfied with our own lives and relationships because everyone else has lives that look way more glamorous and put together than our own.

Take a look at the good enough life. I’ve found it to be a more peaceful and productive way to live.

 

From the Outside In

Life is an interesting thing, especially looking from the outside in.

judging, being where you are, telling someone what to do, unwanted advice, life is messy

It just seems to be that everyone knows the exact thing to do in life when it involves someone else besides yourself. When it is about someone else then things are crystal clear, or so it seems. Things happen. People get hurt. Life is messy. It can become extremely complicated. Sometimes there are no easy answers.

Why is it though, that people looking from the outside in see things differently?

I know being an armchair coach is an easy thing to do when it comes to sports. I think the same can be said for the messy parts of a person’s life.

Every case is different. No one can say what they would do in YOUR situation because they aren’t in your situation, nor will they ever be.

And sometimes doing the hard thing can look like weakness, and sometimes weakness can look like strength.

Running away isn’t always running away and staying isn’t always staying.

Maybe what I’m really talking about is judging another person. Never a good idea. You don’t have all the facts. And even if you do, let he who is without trouble in his life cast the first stone of judgment.

I guess my bottom line is: Don’t tell me what to do unless you’ve been where I am, feel what I feel, experience what I experience, and are living in my skin.

If these things do not apply, then do us both a favor and stop judging from the outside in.

You want to help? Ask what you can do. Ask what the person needs. Listen. Sit. Be with them. Sometimes those things speak louder than words. In fact, most of the time this is true.

It’s human nature I suppose, to want to help someone. It’s also true that it is easier to see the speck in someone else’s eye than it is to see the plank in your own.

I know I have a messy life at the moment, my friend. I know you mean well. But you’re not where I am, so you don’t know what you think you know by looking from the outside in.

 

Party Time

I had a conversation with a young friend of the family the other day, a 15 year old, who really enjoys pulling your leg (some would call it lying but why split hairs, eh?) .

I asked him what he had been up to. He told me he spent a little time in “Juvy”, but insisted he was innocent. I guess I should have known he was lying, er… pulling my leg, given his history, but I wasn’t at the top of my game that day.

I sympathized and told him my Juvy story.

I was probably 15 or 16 myself at the time, when two girlfriends and I went to a concert. It just so happened to be Thanksgiving Eve. The plan was to get dropped off by one set of parents, and get picked up by another. The first half of the plan went off without a hitch. The second half…not so much.

The three of us ran into two guys we knew from school. We sort of hung around with them for the rest of the concert, and before I knew what happened, we were getting a ride home with the guys. I didn’t get the memo.

I begrudgingly went along with the plan. I don’t remember why because I wasn’t thrilled with the idea. Maybe it was because I didn’t really enjoy the night. Oh wait, maybe I do remember…because they were ‘DRUGGIES‘ (yes, I’m shouting the word) as we called them back in the day. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t opposed to a little partying myself, however, I really wasn’t into that sort of thing.

On the ride home the driver of the car, who I’ll call Mark (because that was his name) pulled into the parking lot of a liquor store. He and his friend, who I will call Steve (because that was his name) needed a cup of ice. Yep, these two genius-types had a bottle of whiskey under the seat of the car, and they wanted to pour themselves up a little night-cap. And they chose a liquor store to get the cup of ice! Guess who pulled into the space beside us?

It was a police officer (or two), looking quite interested in the car full of teens. We were asked to step out of the car while they did a search, which is when the bottle was found, and even though the guys told the good officers we had nothing to do with any of it, we all took a little ride to the juvy center.

Our parents came to pick us up. Ironically, I didn’t get into trouble over that one. I think my parents knew I was more pissed upset over the entire episode than even they were! (The tale was told around the Thanksgiving table at my grandparents’ house).

The morale of this story (there are a few) is if you have a bottle of whiskey hidden under your seat and you need a cup of ice…go to McDonalds…just saying

Thanksgiving Days of the Past

Reposting from last Thanksgiving, days of the past again.
I got a text from my youngest brother today. He said he was thinking about Thanksgiving Days of the past. To tell you the truth, so was I.
Grandparents, thanksgiving, days of the past, memories
We were both remembering the many times we would gather at our grandparents’ house. We did so every year, until our grandmother had a stroke that left her unable to speak and paralysed on her right side. She spent the remaining eleven years of her life in a nursing home. Our grandfather would faithfully make the thirty minute trip to sit by her side every day without fail, except one or two times due to bad weather that left the roads unsafe to travel.
My earliest memories of visiting my grandparents’ homes were when my paternal grandmother was still alive. We would gather at her house and rake and burn the leaves from the half dozen or so trees in her yard. Afterwards, we would have a family meal. Sometimes there were other families involved; aunts, uncles, and cousins. Other times, just my family.
The Friday after Thanksgiving we would make the ten minute drive to the home of my maternal grandparents. My grandfather was a farmer, his main crop being tobacco. He worked at tobacco warehouses during my growing-up years. He would spend the day at the warehouse, all the while leaving my grandmother and mother cooking for the Thanksgiving meal we would later partake of after my grandfather returned home from working.
My dad, brothers, and uncle would walk the forty plus acre farm, during this time, carrying their guns in hopes of spotting a rabbit. Some call it hunting, but they did very little shooting, even if they did happen to catch a glimpse of one. If I was really bored, I would walk with them. That didn’t happen but once or twice.
My grandmother would have the traditional Thanksgiving fare, including a few regional favorites. She always made sure to cook each grandchild’s favorite dish. She was indeed a good cook, and a very special lady.
I have very fond memories of those times we gathered around her long dining room table. I remember the conversations, and how they were more interesting the older I became, when in actuality the conversations never changed much.
I miss my grandparents and all family members who have left this world…never more so than during the holiday season.
Wishing you fond memories of Thanksgivings past, and joy and laughter shared with family and friends this year.