Who let the dogs out? . . .Puppy Chow!

Who let the dogs out? . . .Puppy Chow!

I know, it’s an easy recipe that everyone probably already has. But my taste testers LOVE Puppy Chow so I thought I would go ahead and whip up a batch. The only complaint was that this is one messy snack, so if you have fussy tasters at your house you might cut back on the powdered sugar just a bit.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 cups Crispix or Rice Chex cereal
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Combine peanut butter, butter and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 minute.  Stir to blend all ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Stir well.
  3. Place the cereal in a VERY LARGE bowl.
  4. Pour the peanut butter-chocolate mixture over the cereal and toss evenly, making sure all the cereal gets covered.
  5. Place the powdered sugar in a large zip-lock bag (I used the 2 gallon size).
  6. Add the coated cereal to the bag, making sure to leave enough room to shake the puppy chow.
  7. Shake the bag vigorously to evenly coat each piece of the puppy chow with powdered sugar.

Serving suggestions for parties include serving the puppy chow in an actual NEW and CLEAN cute ceramic dog dish.


 

 

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My Life As A Seed

I bought some seeds the other day in anticipation of the spring.  I have spent this past winter drawing out plans for where I wanted to plant seeds in my back yard and I’m about ready to put those plans in action.  This morning, looking out my window I became impressed with how much my life right now resembles the life of my seed.

A seed, when looked at out of the package, does not show it’s full potential without some help from me.  I imagine if the seed could talk it might complain about being shoved into the dark ground.  Not knowing the damp, dark place was the only way that strong roots

would begin to develop, the little seedling that doesn’t trust I have his best outcome in my plan may pout or complain or even refuse to let the urgings to put out roots take hold.  For that little seedling, the full potential of what he could become is held back not by me but by himself.  The seedlings that are willing to trust me may not see the extra care I am taking of them while they are buried under the dirt, but I am making sure that predators are kept away and that the seedling is getting the nourishment it needs to be resilient to disease from within or storms that might try to break it.

Eventually, when the time is right and strong roots have been put down, the little seedling begins to emerge.  Soon a beautiful flower will be exhibited with intricate petals and brilliant colors.  The seedling that soaked up the nutrients I gave it while it was in the dark and put out strong roots will be the brightest, biggest bloom in the garden.  It will be seen for what it is, a beautiful creation that was nurtured and loved by someone so that it’s full potential is now evident.  This little seed that has now bloomed will provide beauty to everyone around it, nourishment to the insects and birds that feed from it, and might even help other plantings around it become resilient to pests that might otherwise have destroyed them.

How closely I resemble that little seed.  Right now I am in a season of planting.  I’m not sure I really like being shoved in the dirt and I certainly can’t see all that God is doing in my life, but I trust that He is protecting me from harm and He is providing the nutrients I need to so that when my time comes to do what God has called me to do and be what He has called me to be I can be resilient to storms and disease-free.  I trust that God will help me to grow into my identity.  Like the seedling my job is to soak up the nourishment from God’s Word and in relationship with Him so that I can use this season of my life to plant strong roots.

I am certain that when my time comes, if I am like the trusting seedling who has trusted and laid down strong roots, I will bloom – not into a “new” me, but into a better version of me – a version that more closely resembles the creation God intended me to be.  If I bloom as God is nurturing me to, I can’t help but reflect the beauty of my Creator!

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A Well-Planned Retirement

Subject: A well-planned retirement

From The London Times:

Outside the Bristol Zoo, in England, there is a parking lot for 150 cars and 8 coaches, or buses. It was manned by a very pleasant attendant with a ticket machine charging cars 1 pound (about $1.40) and coaches 5 (about $7). This parking attendant worked there solid for all of 25 years. Then, one day, he just didn’t turn up for work.

“Oh well”, said Bristol Zoo Management, “we’d better phone up the City Council and get them to send a new parking attendant…”

“Er… no”, said the Council, “that parking lot is your responsibility.”

“Er… no”, said Bristol Zoo management, “the attendant was employed by the City Council, wasn’t he?”

“Er… NO!” insisted the Council.

Sitting in his villa somewhere on the coast of Spain, is a bloke who had been taking the parking lot fees, estimated at 400 pounds (about $560) per day at Bristol Zoo for the last 25 years. Assuming 7 days a week, this amounts to just over 3.6 million pounds ($7 million).

And no one even knows his name.

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A Short Blog

My husband told me that my blog entries were way too long.  I told him they were okay for people who actually read.  Then we didn’t talk to each other.  But, in the spirit of compromise today’s blog entry is dedicated to my husband.

It was a dark and stormy night, . . . .

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Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas

I love making these because they are really easy and I can make two 9 x 13 pans.  This is the most requested from my daughter and her roommates.  In fact, it’s pretty standard procedure that I make 2 pans and send one back to college with my daughter.  What I love about this recipe is that it actually turns out better if I make it a few days ahead, chill and then reheat.  For those of you who don’t like spicy, I promise this one is for you.

enchilada

 

  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 onion – chopped
  • 1 to 2 pkgs chicken tenderloins
  • 2 large cans Green Enchilada Sauce (I use medium heat)
  • 2 8 oz package Mexican Melting Cheese
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 pkgs soft taco size flour tortillas
  • 16 oz shredded Fiesta Blend cheese

 

First, I pretty much make this recipe up as I go each time so don’t be afraid to add to it.  And don’t forget that the quantities I give are for two pans, so adjust according to your needs.

  1. Cook chicken in skillet with onions until done.  Remove and set aside to cool so you can hand-shred later.
  2. In same skillet that chicken was cooked in, add cream cheese, both packages of Mexican Melting Cheese, sour cream, and 1/2 can enchilada sauce.  Cook until melted, stirring often.
  3. Shred chicken into sauce.  You should have fairly thick consistency with chicken and sauce mixture.
  4. Add Cayenne Pepper and salt to taste.

To assemble, pour Green Enchilada Sauce to coat bottom of 9 x 13 pan.  In flour tortilla spoon amount of stuffing you wish and fold ends and roll tortilla.  Place seam-side down in pan.  Continue preparing tortillas and placing in pan filling up the pan (some of the tortillas will have to go along edge in different direction.

Pour enchilada sauce over tops of tortillas until covered.  Top with Fiesta Blend cheese until covered.  At this point you can cook or you can store in refrigerator for a day or two before cooking.

Cook at 350 degree oven for 45 minutes.

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Trials to Triumph

Losing my job has been tough.  There are times when I struggle with my self-worth and with trusting God with my future.  I have nothing left but to learn to trust in God.  Not just a “head-knowledge” about trusting in God, but an honest-to-goodness trusting him with everything.  Trusting him to open doors that seem impossible to be opened.  Trusting him to overcome my own mistakes made in the past.  Trusting him to provide while I have no full-time income.  Trusting him to help me emotionally with the pain of rejection or feelings of inadequacy or low self-worth.  I know that when it feels like life is falling apart, I can trust him.  The question is, do I?

“Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.”  Hebrews 10:23

My entire life consists of plans of one kind or another.  Plans to have breakfast; plan to go to work; plan which road to take to work to avoid traffic . . . I’m a planner (and a list maker, but that’s for another discussion).  The thing is, right now I don’t have a plan so I have to learn to trust in God’s plan for me.  I am content to know that God has a plan for me, but I am less content that he chooses not to reveal it to me.  The details of his plan remain a mystery to me and it seems like God expects me to be content to simply know that he has one, and to trust that it is good. (Jeremiah 29:11)

series_trust_god The truth is that God reigns.  I will look back on this time and see how God used these circumstances to stretch me and teach me.  I know that at the end of this present journey God will have shattered misconceptions I have of him, removed lies I might believe about him or myself, and will have brought me to a place of deeper maturity in him.  Already I am learning what trusting God in my circumstances means.  Here are some of the things I have learned:

The only way to learn about trusting God is to trust God.  I wish it was a simple matter of watching someone else trust God, and then “bam”  – lights come on and I’ve got it down.  Or maybe if I could just read a How-To book I would know how to do trust God in all things.  Unfortunately, the only way to learn how to trust God is by actually doing it.  When I look to the Bible for answers, it doesn’t take me long to realize that God is big on trust.

I never trust God until I have to.  While I would like to tell you that I default to trusting God in all circumstances, my track record shows that if I am in difficult circumstances my first thought is to find a way out of the situation.  But here I am in a situation that I have no control over (believe me, I’ve tried to wrap my brain around how I could control or even predict the outcome – and always come up with the same answer – I can’t).  So I am at a place where I have to trust God.  As a Christian I say that I trust God has something good planned for me and I believe this.  However, if I say that God closed the door on a particular job “because he must have a higher paying or better job in store for me” then I am limiting God.  A bigger paycheck is not the most valuable thing God can give me.  God might have a lower paying job or make me wait for over a year because during this process I will learn humility and be forced to rely on Him every day.  Maybe God closed the door because the trials in store for me will build up a faith that is more valuable.  So, while learning to trust God in all things I need to also learn to change what it is I value so that I begin to value the things that God does.

In our walk with God, he will make sure that we come to place where we have to trust him.  Count on this, God will allow circumstances in my life in which there is no human way of wiggling out of.  Because God loves me, he wants me to trust him.  And the only way to trust him is by doing it (see #1 above – ironic isn’t it?).  I do take comfort in the fact that with an ENTIRE universe to take care of, God loves ME enough to want to teach me how to trust him.  I admit, when doors close on me I tend to cry to God (whine is actually the word I should use).  “Where are you?  Will I ever get beyond my past mistakes?  Just open one door for me.  Give me a sign of your goodness.”  I know, pretty pathetic and desperate sounding.  Instead what I need to do is realize that a closed door does not mean it is the end of the road for me but the beginning.  I need to recognize that everything God does in my life is done with loving care.

Trust God’s plans but recognize that they are not the same as my plans.  How do I know this?  Because all of my plans are much easier and they usually don’t work out the way I wanted them to.  God’s plans, however, never fail.  They can’t; it is a physical impossibility.  My challenge comes in knowing whose plan I am following.  I have to recognize that most of my plans center around success for today while God’s plans center around things like faith, hope and love.  I may be frustrated with the plan I’m on and think it a complete failure while God is looking from his vantage point and calling it a huge success.  Say I go on a job interview and I really want this job.  It’s perfect for me and I feel I’m perfect for that job.  But I don’t get it.  In my eyes, my plan is a failure.  But during the process of trying to get this job God did some powerful work on my heart.  In God’s eyes, his perfect plan was a perfect success.

Trust God when doors close.  They are his attention-grabber.  If I’m sailing along I’m happy to keep cruising like I am.  However, if I lose my ship I start looking for the next ship and it’s then that I will be able to see what God has prepared for me.  It is also when I face closed doors or have nothing left but to trust God that I learn to pray more.  In fact, I get very inspired to pray – often and for long periods of time.  It is during the tough times in my life that I feel the helplessness of my situation and I hit the dust on my knees.  And I don’t stop after a few minutes.  I pray like I’ve never prayed before.  I pray, realizing that it is the hours just before dawn that are the darkest.  I pray until I have an assurance in my heart that God has heard my prayers and I have found peace.

Trust that God is preparing me and wait on his time.  While I wait for whatever God’s plan is for me God is preparing me.  God knows better than I do the qualities and strength I will need to be able to handle what will be given to me.  All the waiting, all the hardships and uncertainty that I am facing now is actually building my faith muscles.  I am being molded and shaped by God to become more like the person he created me to be.  I have to learn to thank God that the more tough my trials the greater plans God has for me.

What it all comes down to – what it takes to look at my trials as triumphs – is to know and trust in my Lord, lean on His ways, meet Him in my devotions, learn from Him in my studies, and be rooted in Christ.  This time is about connecting with Christ so I am growing in Him.  It is in this way that I can lead a life of worth and distinction.  I am learning to see life not as a series of attacks and hurdles to get over, but as a way to learn and grow.  I have a purpose; I have a reason to keep going even in times of confusion or stress or when it seems the odds are against me.  I am learning to allow God’s truth to reign in me and to live with trust and without worry.  It was during the long process of working through his questions and struggles that Job finally resolved to trust God no matter what.  I will trust and be comforted in God’s sovereignty and in his sovereign love.  I will be reminded of God’s promises.  I will look within and be shaped by God’s instruction.  I will be able to say “I give myself to You as never before.”  And finally, I will be comforted by God’s sovereign control and everlasting love.

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2

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