Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Crockpot Granola

If you don't have a crock can I encourage demand you get one ASAP??!  They are constantly in the discount sections of Target for >$15 or I bet you can find some sweet sales or coupons.  I have been using mine day and in and day out lately and have not even bothered to put it away.

The most recent thing the crock rocks at is GRANOLA!  Oh yes, it is SO easy.  We make homemade granola to cut down on sugar and preservatives and to save money because it is crazy expensive at the store.  This easy recipe is a new favorite for me.

Allow me to share with you the ease of cooking your own granola, tailored to your taste buds!

Crock Pot Decker Granola

5 cups oats
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1/4 cup honey
3 tbsp flax seed
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup dried cherries

***Note: For this particular batch I only had these ingredients on hand.  You could also throw in sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, dried cranberries or blueberries or anything else you like.  Also feel free to leave out anything you do not care for.  Such a dynamic recipe!***

Place all dry ingredients in the crock pot.  Pour melted butter and honey over mixture, combining very well until everything is coated.  Place lid on crock venting with a wooden spoon, chopstick, or whatever else you have on hand that will handle the heat.

Cook on high for 3 hours stirring every 20 minutes until all is golden brown! 

***Important note: This is easy to burn and if you can really smell the granola cooking it is time to stir.  This is a crock pot recipe to cook while you are at home and cleaning or have a day off so you can stir and prevent burning.***  

Enjoy with yogurt, milk, out of a baggie as a snack or on top of oatmeal.  Yum!

{In the process of cooking}

{Golden brown!  So yummy-a not to sweet granola to start your morning well!}

She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens.

Proverbs 31:15

Monday, February 27, 2012

IJM Benefit Dinner

Friday night we went to a benefit dinner for International Justice Mission (IJM).  We partnered with IJM during our trip to India in December so this issue is near and dear to our hearts.  We heard about their work first hang and not too long after we left Kolkata, they initiated a brothel bust and many women were rescued from their dark hell holes!  SO COOL!

IJM International Justice Mission (IJM) is a human rights organization that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression.   They empower local police to fight for victims and bring justice to the oppressors, among many other goals.  We LOVE this organization!

So here are pictures from the dinner at DU Friday night to raise money for those without a voice.  God's current fight against injustice is our voice and standing up for those who can't defend themselves.  We are honored to partner with them.

{Carly & Kristen-the IJM keynote speaker} 

{Carly & Ryan before dinner} 

{The gorgeous table settings} 

{Ashleigh & Drew arriving!} 

{Sydney, Daniel, & Ryan getting their talk on} 

 {Hey Mines students!}

{Oh hey again!} 

{Finn photo bombs...} 

{Carly & Ryan during dinner-it was SO good!} 

{Dear sweet Marie and myself} 

{Dressed up for the night and looking snazzy!}

You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous.

Deuteronomy 16:19

Friday, February 24, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

For the love of everything we have ever made this recipe is at the top of the charts for the incredible taste, pre-serving aromas, and healthfulness!

Like I mentioned a few posts ago crock pots are the bomb!  Where have they been all my life??  Seriously, you throw everything into one pot, turn it on, leave for the day, and come home to diner.  I am just swooning over the crock!

So I adventured into Indian cuisine this last Monday for our small group.  I am convinced that the Lord uses food to connect people and it serves at the nexus of bonding many times.  Jesus fed people all the time in the gospels (Mark 8 and Matthew 14) so it must serve as a foundational need and blessing.  I'm convinced it's a superb way to love on people people and share our love of health by cooking good stuff!  And Chicken Tikka Masala seemed to do just that:

Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala
Serves 7-8

3-4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 onions, chopped
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, chopped
7 tsp Garam Masala seasoning (taste and see if it needs more!0
Dash of salt & pepper
1/2 cup of Half & Half or Milk
3 cups of rice, cooked

Place chopped onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, and spices into crock pot. Stir well.  Place chicken thighs on top of vegetables, place lid on crock, and turn to low for 7-8 hours or 2-4 hours on high for a quicker meal.

Once the chicken is fully cooked (basically falling apart and white all the way through), pour in half & half or milk into chicken mixture right before serving! Serve over cooked rice.

Serving Suggestion:
We ordered garlic naan from the local Little India and served it with our dish!  So yummy!  And we also sprinkled fresh cilantro over the chicken to add a little zest. 

{Tomatoes, onion, garlic-bright and so delicious!} 

{Raw chicken on top-not so pretty however...} 

{The assembled dish.  I wish there was a scratch and sniff feature on the computer. AMAZING!} 

 {Buffet line for the Indian goodies!} 

And finally my friend Rachelle brought be these flowers as a little surprise!  She works at a fun place called The Perfect Petal and these were the leftovers from the store's cooler.  How gorgeous are those flowers with the backdrop of the colors in the photographs we have on the wall?!

{Gorgeous flowers to enjoy this morning during breakfast}

My Journey to 1000 Gifts:
167. Date nights
168. Lots of appetizers to make a meal
169. Processing
170. Realizing patterns to change
171. Letting Christ change my default
172. My husband's leadership in finances
173. Harpo wooing the ladies
174. Sound of my washer easing my life
175. Protection of a light working in our garage
176. Excitement for exercise soon
177. Birthday dinners in March
178. My mom being able to retire
The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
Song of Solomon 2:12

I'm so glad you're here!  I hope you're encouraged by what you read and spurred on to pursue the heart of God.  To make sure you don't miss anything join us over on the sidebar or add our button to your page.  Be blessed!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Wisdom

There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is soverign over all, 
does not cry "Mine!"

-Abraham Kuyper

My Journey to 1000 Gifts:
151. Wise people
152. Inspiration
153. The Theology of Work
154. Lunch w/ future Mines students
155. A day off
156. Chicken Tika Masala
157. Anticipation of Spring and new life

Decker Button, Button for Blog

10 Favorite Goodies Lately

10. This website: You have to check it out if you are a veggie lover!  I'm literally drooling over every recipe on the site and I am sensing oncoming desires to bake to the Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread. Doesn't that sound intriguing?

9. Saturday morning walks: grab your mom, walk all around your favorite town, and if you're really ready to be blessed, she will have a 50% off coupon to take you and your husband out to eat!  We are blessed by food surprises and time outside in Golden!

8. This tea.  We are tea crazies (4-5 cups a day)-it is delish and obviously great for your bod! Everyday Detox is a new favorite.

7. We've been dreaming about summer hostings and outdoor bbq's lately.  And just having the outside of our home not look like hick town.  Ryan has been tearing off all the old junk from the deck in hopes of renovating it this summer.  Here is an inspiration of what we would love for that space to look like.  Can't you picture summer dinners, birthday parties, gatherings of friends, and late night talks on a porch like this?!  I think I am ready for warm weather...

6. Ok people this is a miracle.  King Sooper's has a new organic line that has won my heart!  This picture is of soymilk and Fred Meyer's but it's the right brand and  they have regular milk too!!  I have been an almond/soy/rice/coconut milk buyer because there are always coupons and sales.  But now that I can get 1% or 2% ORGANIC milk for about $2.50 I am committed to this brand!!

5. Friends.  And schedules.  We have learned our lesson from a busy fall last year and have only scheduled activities on Mondays and Wednesdays during the week.  But here are two of our favorite people right before small group.  Friends and people we love are so sweet right now.

{Daniel & Ali...plus pager!  Who even gets to use a pager anymore?!}

4. This is belated but we were able to celebrate Anna Meverden a few weeks ago!  She is a Rising Star (which means she is a rockstar polite smart considerate Kindergartener) and invited us to the DU Pioneers game.  Go Anna!
{Mallory, Tim, Ryan, and Carly all reuniting at the game}

{Sweet little Josh who melts our hearts}

{So proud of this sweet girl!}

2. He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. Deuteronomy 10:18

1. Embracing the last of this cold, wintery season:  Come on Spring!  We are willfully trying to accept the last weeks of winter.  Here is our perspective: view shoveling as cardio exercise, cold nights as a chance to snuggle down into quilts, utilize the oven to bake warm dinners, and welcome that freezing hit of air first thing in the morning as a final push to wake up!  But we're ready for it to warm up!

My Journey to 1000 Gifts:
158. God's warning about our tongues (James 3)
159. IJM Benefit Dinners
160. Planning our garden beds
161. Resources
162. Hands to work and bless
163. Ability to smell and see
164. People who fall in love with Harpo
165. Ryan's hard work for our family
166. Milk glass

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43:11

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ash Wednesday & Easter Prep

There is a really exciting time starting tomorrow--looking forward to a time of growth and tradition!  

Tomorrow marks Ash Wednesday.  Before some research I knew next to nothing but I think it would be sweet to explore how to make this Easter season a spiritual journey and time of significant growth.

Ash Wednesday:
Marks the start of the season of Lent which begins 40 days before Easter (Sundays not included in the count).  It's a time to spend fasting, repenting, and engaging in spiritual discipline to prepare for the season.  Do you ever see people with a black mark on their foreheads?  That is a part of Ash Wednesday!  We won't make it to church but still exciting to be aware of it.

I am super intrigued by the rich tradition of this season and letting that have a new, exciting role in our walks!  So I am thinking about how to observe Lent and prepare for the absolute BEST news in the whole world, Easter...  

That Jesus would come to Earth, put on flesh, die for all the crap I've done past-present-future, died in my place, ROSE FROM THE GRAVE for God's glory and to invite us into the sweetness of relationship with Him!  We just have to respond.  
Hallelujah for that!

So here are a several ideas (with more to come) about how to participate in Lent and prepare for Easter:

  • Set your heart on God: for Lent specifically I think instead of giving something up (coffee, Facebook, a food etc) it would be neat to refocus my attention on the Lord by praying for 1 person or country or something else of importance each day of Lent.

  • Bake and bless: There are plans to make traditional Hot Cross Buns like the ones below that are a symbol of the crucifixion.  Love the cooking aspect of this celebration and subtle reminder.

  • Heart condition not sacrifice: (Hosea 6:6)I think the most important thing for me is that I would not get wrapped up in the "doing" that holidays can bring.  I cannot earn God's love, but only to respond to it.  That is the sweetest part of what Easter truly is about.
Share any ideas that you have to observe Ash Wednesday, participate in Lent, and celebrate the Easter season well!  So glad to have this before our eyes this year.

{Easter from last year!  No bunnies in our plans this season but still so fun!}

[ Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene ] [[Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.

Mark 16:9

Lectio Divina

One of the best, most refreshing parts of the day is the early morning-6:10 am to be exact.  Harpo needs to be let out and fed so I'm up!  The house is super quiet, the neighborhood is still, and it's a great time to hang with the Lord.

That being said here is my favorite way lately to connect with the God of the Universe (sa-weeet!):

What you need:
A journal or notebook (if you enjoy recording this time)
A pen
Comfy seat-I prefer our breakfast bar on the kitchen island
I always invite several mugs of coffee into my time :)

Lectio Divina 
(Latin for Sacred Reading)

This is a powerful way to thoughtfully absorb scripture and interact with God.  It's traditionally a Catholic practice of reading and I dig it!  It has become a favorite and timeless way to connect with the active and living scriptures (Hebrews 4:12)

Lectio -(Read) Read the passage gently and slowly several times-perhaps 3x.  Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the "still, small voice" of a word or phrase that speaks to you.  The passage you read is not as important as the attitude of your heart.

Meditatio -(Meditate) Reflect on the text and think about personal life application. This makes the passage individually relevant and allows for intimate application.

Oratio –(Pray) Respond to what you read by opening your heart to God. This is not as much an intellectual exercise as it is just simply beginning a conversation with Him.

Contemplatio -(Contemplate) Listen to God. Free yourself from your own thoughts and mind noise to hear God talk to you. Allow yourself to be fully influenced by God in mind, body, heart, and soul.

{Harpo's Quiet Time.  His new favorite things is sticking his head under the couch!}

My Journey to 1000 Gifts
143. Gifted granola
144. Greek yogurt
145. Resources for growing with God
146. Senior Nights for Cru students
147. Hospitality
148. Quiet times
149. Slow cooker recipes
150. Rhythms

35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

Mark 1:35-38

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I have found my crafting/cooking soul mate!  Anna Decker is a rockstar in creativity, valuing nutrition, and wanting to save money (and many other things too!).  So Saturday afternoon we set out to use our sewing machines (fail) but we did make some delicious vanilla extract and a few other goodies.

In our hopes to create and save money we ventured into making extract.  At any typical grocery or health store this stuff is $6 dollars or more!  However, buying the supplies and making this ourselves, this extract calculates out to about $3.40 a bottle.  The bomb!  And we know all the ingredients and can recycle the bottles over and over.

So thanks for the fun day Anna Decker!  Looking forward to using the vanilla soon!

Organic Vanilla Extract

12 bottles, approximately 4 oz. in size. Order from this amazing company
12 vanilla beans, you can order from the same place
48 oz of vodka


Slice whole vanilla beans down the middle with a knife, but not cutting all the way through.  Next, cut the beans into about 2 inch sections.  

Evenly divide vanilla bean sections into bottles, about 4-5 pieces per bottle.  Fill each bottle with vodka and screw the lid on tightly.

Allow the beans to seep for 6-8 weeks before using.  In the meantime decorate those bottles with cute "To and From's" or a bit of snazzy ribbon

Notes: The best part of making your own is that you can re-seep the beans several times once you have used it all up.  Once your extract is gone, re-fill with vodka and allow to seep again for 6-8 weeks before using.  Double the bang for your buck!

Gifting ideas:  I think these would be fabulous for the bakers in your life, as a Mother's Day present, a little stocking stuffer at Christmas, for your own kitchen pantry, or as baby or bridal shower take away gift.

{Organic whole vanilla beans-the BEST smell in the whole world. Slice them up!}

{Pretty brown bottles to fill with beans and vodka}

{A necessary ingredient! I didn't even know vodka was used in making vanilla extract..}

{Pouring made easy with a little funnel}

{6 of the 12 bottles all filled with beans and vodka}

{Used a little burlap and some decorative paper to make a little present}

{The finished product! So simple and a unique, thoughtful gift.}

Here are some pics from the rest of the day.  Ryan & Tyler worked on the deck while the pack of dogs taunted to poor husky next door and got covered in mud.  Afterwards, everyone was so tired and we just relaxed on the couch and ate a big vegetarian dinner.  Yum!

{My two favorite pooches!  Harpo and Porter-the cutest boys in the world!}

{Anna rocking the vanilla extract production line!}

{Little Rilyn looking so cute and naughty all day!}

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love

Romans 8:38

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Butternut Squash Apple Cranberry Bake

In the spirit of our pseudo-vegetarianism may I present to you one of our new favorite healthy desserts!  The apples are sweet, the cranberries are sassy and tart, and the squash is a happy neutral for the perfect combo!

The glorious Butternut Squash Apple Cranberry Bake!

This is so yummy!  I picture eating it right after a pumpkin patch adventure in October or for a healthy Thanksgiving dessert option.  But the color and smells warm up a February afternoon, no contest!  Enjoy!

{Everything in the dish-so simple and nutritious} 

Butternut Squash Apple Cranberry Bake
Serves 2

1 small-medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 apples, cubed
1 cup frozen or fresh whole cranberries
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cinnamon
A little honey

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and set out a 9" X 13" baking dish
2. Put cubed squash, apples, and whole cranberries in baking dish. 
3. However it works best for you, slice up the butter and sprinkle it over the mixture (Not much butter is measured to maintain the healthfulness and it only prevents the mixture from sticking)
4. Sprinkle cinnamon over mixture and stir well.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for approx. 45 mins stirring occasionally until squash is tender

Serve warm and drizzle with honey!  This dessert is extra delish served with Chai Tea 

{Right out of the oven!}

Still later he appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief because they refused to believe those who had seen him after he had been raised from the dead.

Mark 16:14

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gracious Responses

My husband is so smart.  He is a Mines grad, has earned his Master's in another country, and works as a super cool Engineer.  He is just the bomb!

However we all make some silly mistakes and a few days ago, during a fight no less, he backed his beloved red 4Runner into our CLOSED garage door!!  (insert a little laughter...just a little)

Now this is not a post to rag on him at all but actually a post to us wives (or all spouses) about how we respond with grace in our marriages.  I know I need me some grace every single dang day!

So here is what the Lord has showed me in the last few days about graceful responses, specifically to busted garage doors.  And I do not claim to be the most gracious person so this is definitely Jesus!!

 Take a deep breath before responding.  
If I'm honest my flesh (the sinful-needs Jesus-part of me) wanted to show up and give him an earful about costing us money but that is selfish and such an unloving response.  A deep breath brought me back to reality and allowed moment to let the Holy Spirit stay in control.

Asking God for a gracious and loving response.  
The Lord responds to us everyday with an overflow of love and acceptance even we we mess up the worst!  In that moment I know I need to stop and ask for God's ability and wisdom in responding

Laugh about it!  
Although we were mad at each other when it first happened, after reconciling we now laugh about what dummies we can be.  This is not even close to the end of the world and we need to put the incident in right perspective.

 Love and support the decisions to action.  
Ryan is so responsible and such a legit leader.  He immediately drew up a financial plan to replace the door as well as exploring options to fix it himself.  I learned that the best thing I can do is offer to do research, cut expenses in other areas, or just support the action steps to correct the mistake.  Mocking, criticizing, or belittling is the last thing my husband needs in the face of a failure or EVER.  Love, love, more love and then lots of support.

Anyway, this time it was just a garage door but the next big mistake myself or Ryan makes, I feel like the Lord has given us a glimpse into His character and heart for grace in marriage.

Happy Friday everyone--hope your weekend is fantastic!

But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:15

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Clip Board Makeover

When you have time to dig through boxes of old junk to organize and purge...you find some unexpected goodies!  Like these plain, brown clipboards.  They just need a little TLC.

I've been using some spare time on the weekends to piece together our home office (read: Ryan's guitar room, my sewing room, junk room, and craft room).  I eventually envision it to be a light and organized space where we accomplish work and can feel creative  And I feel more productive if my surroundings are pretty and cozy!  Anyone else with me on that one??

So in the spirit of creativity and budget-mindedness I used these clipboards, two sheets of decorative paper (I think a pretty fabric would also work stupendously), glue, and a pair of scissors to make two new snazzy wall organizers and decorations!

The result: a duh-vine and cheap new wall addition!

 {Start with two plain clipboards}

 {No "How-To" to post with this but just cut paper accordingly to the size of your board.  I used white computer paper to make a template and eliminated a lot of mistakes in the process}

 {Hang however you like on the wall.  I wanted to add height to the room so I put them vertically}

 {Clip on notes, reminders, lists, pictures etc}

{In no time at all you have an inexpensive and creative new addition to any room}

I think these clipboards would look fantastic near the door when you leave to pick up coupons/permission slips/cash, in a child's room to display their artwork, or in a work office to spice up the ole cubical! Or you could paint them with chalkboard paint and put them in your kitchen with grocery lists and recipes!!  The possibilities are endless!

If you have a project or "re-do" you're working on, please share--it's exciting to see what can be created!

My Journey to 1000 Gifts:
132. Using our home to bless Cru staff team
133. Solid teaching
134. Hearing God's voice
135. Cleaning
136. Harpo being on good behavior
137. Dreams of summer projects and gardens
138. Breakfast dates
139. Realization of energy depletion and fixing it
140. Being uniquely made
141. Prayer
142. The sound of coffee brewing
143. Compliments to lift your heart

You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

1 Peter 3:4

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Healthy Breakfast

"Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day!" 
-Ryan Decker

Here are my thoughts on a great morning to get your day going the best it can:

1) A big, steaming cup of coffee--lot's of foam
2) Some time (5 mins or 50 mins!) with the Lord-reading the Bible, praying and talking about things on your heart, a short devotional, following a Bible Study etc...
3) Healthy, hearty breakfast (cereal is for sissies...just kidding. sort of.)

You only need 6 mins to make this recipe!  You probably have at least that in the morning don't you?

Apple-Walnut-Cinnamon-Honey Oatmeal
Serves 2

About 1 cup of preferred oatmeal brand-we like Coach's Oats but any non-instant kind will do
1 apple
1 cup walnuts
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup of milk
Drizzle of honey

Prepare oatmeal according to unique directions to the brand you have.  Our oatmeal directions say: to combine 3 cups water to 1 cup oats, bring to a boil and then allow to simmer for 5 mins.  Remove from heat and let sit 1 minute before serving.

While your oatmeal is cooking, clean and slice your apple into cubes, slice walnuts if desired (we likes ours whole), and prepare spices. That is the time saver step-prep while oatmeal cooks!  

Divide cooked oatmeal into two to-go containers.  Sprinkle on all toppings or if you have the time at home to eat, a bowl and finally top with milk.

Other suggestions for this dang easy/yummy breakfast: 
Banana-Walnut-Honey, Blueberry-Honey, scoop on our Butternut Squaah Apple Cranberry Bake,  Purred pumpkin-cinnamon-honey, or a sprinkle of Homemade Granola


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