Archive | September 2012

World’s Greatest Party Snack

Its Birthday Party season in our family.  First was Ransom’s big 2-year-old bash last weekend.  With only 3 kids total, the theme was sort of loosely “Down on the Farm”.  We had awesome farm-themed cake and cupcakes made by my sweet sister-in-law Ashley.

The rest of the party snacks were country-style too:  ham, mac-n-cheese, and sliced apples with caramel dip.  This dip is one of my go-to recipes because its SO easy.  I have made it bunches and bunches of times.

Midway through Ransom’s party, great-grandma Memaw asked if we were bringing that dip to HER party, 1 week later.  Her 90th birthday party to be exact.  And so uh yeah the answer is yes.  Whatever you want Memaw!

Memaw’s party was yesterday and I’m pretty sure she didn’t get to eat any of the dip.  She didn’t even get to eat her own birthday cake between greeting all her guests.  The party was a big success though.  She took a big slice of cake home with her, and we have plenty of leftover dip to take to next weekend’s party.  I will make sure she gets some.

So, because I have yet to take this dip to a party and NOT have someone ask me for the recipe, I figured I might as well share my secret with the world.  This is literally the easiest possible recipe, with only 3 cheap ingredients and no cooking. The sneaky part is, caramel isn’t even one of the ingredients.  Brown sugar is used instead, but people never guess that.  I like to serve it with Granny Smith The apples are merely the vehicle, you could probably substitute strips of cardboard just as well.  No I’m kidding, tart green apples are the perfect compliment and add a healthy dimension to an otherwise unhealthy dish.

Caramel Dip


  • 1 block of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla


  • Mix well.
  • Serve with tart firm apple slices.  Granny Smith are perfect, but red varieties like Fuji are also good.  Red Delicious etc are too soft, not my fav.  Give your apple slices a quick bath in Sprite right as you cut them up to prevent them from turning brown

Eucharisteo: The Painting Reveal

I can’t believe I’ve had my painting almost 2 weeks now and have still not revealed it to the world!  As you can tell from my “Day In The Life” post, things are a little wild around here.  But this morning I’m making some time between work and laundry to sit down and blog.  [In other news, 9 days is the longest I’ve ever gone between blog posts since we started the blog project.]

The only problem with this painting is that it’s so awesome, we couldn’t figure out where to put it.  After some discussion, Keith and I finally settled on the living room wall which is perfect because everyone who come in can see it there, and sad because I don’t get to stare at it every second of the day as I sit in my office.  But I’d rather the world see it, so I love it in the living room.  Some of you may be saying, “what painting? I’m totally lost here.”  So I’ll give you the quick back-story.  For one of my read-a-book-a-month goal posts, I chose Ann Voskamp’s  1,000 Gifts and loved it.  I was inspired by her thankfulness journal to start writing down things I was thankful for….from the big stuff like my new job to the little stuff like something funny the cat did to make me laugh.  I wrote on little pieces of paper and stuck them in a jar.


Meanwhile, Keith and I had been wanting to decorate our house with some original art since all our wall hangings are pretty much from World Market or Target.  We fell in love with the work (and the person!) of Laura Amstutz Weibezahn when we saw it at a Compassion retreat, received a print of her’s in the mail as a gift, and saw a display of her work at a local coffee shop all in the space of two weeks.  We decided we wanted to purchase one of her paintings.  Then Keith had the brilliant idea to ask her to use all my little scraps of thankfulness papers and incorporate them into a commissioned painting.  Fortunately, one email later, she loved the idea and work on the painting began!

I admit that I cried when I picked up the painting.  It’s such a beautiful piece anyway, but to know the thankfulness that is represented there….that it was created by a friend and a member of the creative community I’m so thankful to be a part of in Nashville….that it was my sweet husband’s idea.  All of that is overwhelming to me.  And each time I walk past it, even if I’m not in a good mood, or something less-than-perfect has happened, etc. etc….it reminds me instantly that God is the giver of all things and that a heart-posture of thankfulness not only blesses our Heavenly Father, but it blesses us as well.  So, without further adieu……here is

Eucharisteo by Laura Amstutz Weibezahn

I thought you might also like some close-ups since you can’t lean in close and peer at the painting.  Although, if you’d like to do that, by all means, stop by the Yellow Barn and check it out.

“Abide With Me” is one of my favorite hymns, as is the “Doxology.” The sheet music flowers are composed of these two hymns cut out of an antique hymnal I bought at a local used bookstore.

The “sky” portion of the painting is composed of my thankfulness.

So grateful for so many things.

If you would like to own a painting of your own or just want to see some other great work, please check out Laura’s online gallery.  She is amazing as a painter and an individual.

Foto Friday

Hello Friday!  I got this picture in the mail several weeks back and it took me this long to remember to post it on a Friday.  I bet I could completely recast our old Foto Friday tradition to posting pictures of old ladies.  I can think of at least 3 awesome ones right off the top of my head.

Happy Weekend, people!


A Day In My Life: A Journal of Monday, 9/17/2012

How is it Thursday already, I ask you?  This does not compute in my head.  I wrote this blog post on Monday….and its already Thursday and I still haven’t posted it.  sigh.  Anyway.  Mary Hall suggested (after my super-lame last post) that I do a “day in the life” post like she did.  So this past Monday I kept a log of my day.  And now I’m posting it for you all to read.  🙂  Of course, this isn’t EVERY day. Just this past monday.  No two days ever look alike.  Sometimes I’m up earlier.   Sometimes I go to bed earlier.  Most of the time we don’t have this many workmen at our house.  But this was my Monday.  So this is what you get.

9:00 AM – Wake up to my alarm clock and accidentally kick the cat as I roll out of bed…he was nestled all snuggly on top of my feet.  He rolls over and give me an annoyed look as I stumble to the bathroom, but is fast asleep again by the time I’m finished and headed to my office in the front room.

9:20 AM – sit down on the settee in my office/library/music room and open my computer to find 37 new emails.  A few are junk, but the rest are notifications of new orders through my new boss’ online store and the rest are emails about details for upcoming events for both my new job as personal assistant to speaker/author/singer Kelly Minter, and for worship leader/songwriter Ronnie Freeman.  (I’ve been playing violin for Ronnie for 7 years now, done merchandise for 3 years, and have been his personal assistant for a year.)  I also see that Mary-Hall has commented on my last blog post suggesting a “Day In The Life Post.”  I open up a new Pages document and get to work.

9:25 AM – I have a phone call with Kelly to sort out a shipping problem.  This involves several more phone calls and about 10 minutes later I have the whole thing sorted out.  At least I hope I do.  Right now my fingers are crossed and I’ll wait for a confirmation phone call later in the day.

9:45 AM – I dash in to get dressed as we have several workmen coming over today and I think it would be awkward if I was still clad in robe and furry slippers when they arrived.  No time to be cute today, plus, it’s pouring rain.  I grab a pair of grey shorts, a t-shirt and top it off with my new long-sleeved tee purchased off Scout Mob shops online….it’s hand printed from a boutique in San Francisco and says “Ciao Bella” on it. I’ll top this outfit off with some rain-boots before I head out the door.

9:55 AM– I’m back in my office banging out answers to emails.  I turn in my timesheet for the last two weeks.  I’m adding things to my to-do list quicker than I can check them off.  Booger the cat finds all of this exhausting so he naps on the back of my settee while I’m curled up at my desk.  He’s a pretty fair cat and wants to make sure everyone gets graced with his presence…he’ll spend another hour or so with me and then wander upstairs to nap in Keith’s office for the rest of the day.

10:45 AM – the doorbell rings.  It’s the guy who installed our hardwood floors here to look at a gash that the guy who installed our alarm system last week put in the floor.  He says it’s easy to fix, so I’m happy, and cheap, so the alarm company who is paying for it is happy as well.  While the floor guy is here, I notice that the ceiling in the kitchen is leaking again.  We had a new roof installed last week and the kitchen ceiling leaked badly a few days ago.  The roofers came and “fixed” the roof and the drywall guy was supposed to come fix the ceiling today, but we’ll have to cancel that since the ceiling is leaking AGAIN.  Funny how the old, hail-damaged roof didn’t leak, but the brand new one does.  Keith calls the roofers.  I’m hopeful they can fix this roof and our ceiling can be fixed and we’ll be done with it soon.

1:00 PM – Where has the day gone?  The roofers have just left (again). They have found the leak and hope to be out tomorrow to fix it.  I have a bowl on the kitchen floor under the drip.  In the past 2 hours and 15 minutes I’ve updated Kelly’s online calendar so people know when and where she’ll be speaking, reconciled merchandise sales from the event she spoke at last weekend, created an updated email list, printed set lists for 3 events I’ll be playing with Ronnie this coming Wednesday-Sunday, written a thank you note and an email to some girls I’m hoping to do a Bible Study with and answered more email.  Now I’m headed to the closet to get my rain boots and jacket to head out to run errands.  I have to go to the bank, swing by Kelly’s and drop off some stuff/pick stuff up and then run more errands after that.  Hoping I can be back by 3:00 in time to package up orders and get to the post office.

1:50 PM – I’m back home and I heat up some Healthy Choice Southwest Spring rolls for lunch.  yummmmmmy.  I find out that the shipping issue from this morning hasn’t been resolved yet, so I make a few more calls and cross my fingers AND toes this time.  I’ve got quite the stack of orders that have come in over the weekend on Kelly’s website so I start the process of packing them up, printing mailing labels, etc. so I can make my daily trip to the Post Office and make sure everyone gets what they ordered quickly!

2:30 PM – It’s kind of quiet as I’m packing orders and since I’m going to be playing violin at Kairos young adult ministry at Brentwood Baptist tomorrow night and I haven’t listened through the songs yet,  I download all the MP3s into a iTunes playlist and turn it on so I can learn the music while I pack.  All about the multi-tasking, baby.

3:00 PM – I’m out the door and headed to the post office with a stack of about 20 freshly packaged orders.  After the post office I run a few more errands and then head out to East Nashville.

4:45 PM – I pull up to my friend Laura’s house to pick up my painting.  Yes.  THE PAINTING.  (Don’t worry. There will be a blog with photos SOON!)  To say the painting is amazing  is an understatement.  I’m in love with it and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.

5:45 PM – I get back home and give Keith the big reveal.  We immediately hang the painting in the living room and admire it for about 15 minutes.  Then it’s back out the door to Music City Crossfit for bootcamp.  It’s an exhausting workout and Keith and I both leave with all our limbs feeling like jell-o.  We’re home by 7:15 but I immediately head back out to Walmart for groceries and Staples for office supplies.

8:15 PM – Keith and I curl up in the living room with dinner (black beans and brown rice with chicken, avocado and fried bananas.) and some TV (we’re a little hooked on Friday Night Lights Season 1 on Netflix).  I’m a little bit of a work-a-holic these days, so I’m watching, but I’m also doing email on the side.  I get an email assuring me the shipping issue will be fixed Tuesday morning. (side note: and it was!!!!)

10:45 PM – I’d love to watch another episode of FNL but I realize that I need to be an adult instead.  So I put on some pj’s and move my computer and a stack of files to my bed to get some work done before I turn in for the night.
12:00 AM – The obnoxiously loud catty-corner-across-the street neighbors are partying on their front porch like they live on Frat Row.  I text my next door neighbor Megan about it and we complain to each other via text about how rude the excessively noisy neighbors are.  She suggests a box fan.  I send a bunch more work-related emails trying to catch up on the million events that I have on the calendar for the fall.

12:45 AM – Keith heads upstairs to retrieve a box fan from the closet that fortunately makes the noise of the neighbors go away.  He crashes out in bed beside me as I send a few more emails and update this blog.  My head is starting to ache and I think I’m super sleepy so I set my alarm clock and turn out the light.  The last time I remember seeing on my phone before I fell asleep was 1:45 AM.  Whew.  Sister had a lonnnnnng day.

So tonight (Thursday night) I told my friend Val that I was working on my “Day in the Life” blog.  She says she might not read it because it might stress her out.  It’s crazy how you don’t realize how much goes on in a day until you try to document it all!  I challenge you to write down your own day in the life one day.  Read over it.  Do you like what you see?  Would you like to change your day?  Could you spend your time more wisely?  Could you relax more?  It’s a thought provoking exercise for sure.  Hope I didn’t stress you out too much.

Paper Dolls

Our sponsored child’s birthday is coming up on Saturday, the same day as Ransom’s.  So, last month I was working on a birthday letter online and poking around the Compassion website.  I ran across some great information that I thought I should highlight here, in case any other Compassion sponsors are reading this.

If you’ve never heard of Compassion, its a ministry that Bethany and I both strongly support.  Their tagline is “Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name” and that pretty much sums it up. My husband and I sponsor a young girl – Alba in El Salvador.  Bethany & Keith sponsor several kids from all over the world.  You can read our previous Compassion posts here.

So, here are some links to the information that I found so helpful: Letter Writing FAQ! Also, this blog post.

I knew there had to be some delay between our letter writing and Alba receiving them, because the letters have to make several stops, be translated, etc.  However, according to the blog post it can take up to 3 months.  Of course, now I was feeling like a slacker for only writing Alba about her birthday six weeks in advance.  *Mental note to send a Christmas card SOON.*  BUT, then today I got a response from Alba that mentioned our last letter… so, I guess the delay between here and El Salvador is not as long as some countries.  Hooray!

All that aside, I was inspired by this List of Small Gifts that you can include with your letters. We’ve done stickers and photographs before but “Paper Dolls” just jumped off the page at me. (Side note: check this!! A Pinterest board of more ideas.. super cute. My fav may be the DIY scratch-offs.)  Blame it on my misplaced interest in all things miniature.

I found some doll templates here. I printed these on leftover birthday invitation card stock and rounded up four random sheets of scrapbook paper.

Now, Alba seems like a very sensible young girl, and she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. (At least she did.. These things change you know.) So here are her first shipment of paper dolls, complete with a lab-coat sporting Dr outfit.

It occurred to me that her doctors may or may not wear white coats.  I decided not to worry about it.  That outfit could just as easily be a white blazer with a weird necklace.. either way.  And now its occurring to me that lab coats have long sleeves.. Oh well.

Happy 9th Birthday Alba!!

September 14th

Dear Faithful Blog Readers –

So besides being the day that the iPhone 5 pre-orders sold out in an hour…..long before I had a chance to pre-order one………it’s been a whole month since I turned 30.  And I didn’t take the time to prepare a skittles colored graph like MH did to show what I’ve accomplished.  Why?  Because it hasn’t been much.  (even my blog title is boring today.)

Wait.  Let me take that back.  It’s been A LOT actually.  I now have a notebook because my to-do list is that out-of-control.  I’ve traveled to Wisconsin and Tifton, GA.  I’ve completed my 4th week at my new job.  I’ve turned our library/music room into a fully functioning office whilst cleverly disguising everything inside awesome furniture.  I’ve gone to 5 boot-camp classes and lost 2 more pounds.  I’ve gotten a new roof, an alarm system and new gutters.  My name is now officially on our house deed and I wrote a will.  (Never too young to sort out all that end-of-life business.) And lots of other stuff.  Just nothing really that was on my blog list.  In fact, I haven’t even blogged in over a week…..a first since the inception of the blog….and I’ve missed it.

And tonight’s blog isn’t very exciting.  But I’m hoping to have something for you soon.  Something super duper cool.  (It’s in the works.)  Something I’ll need your help with.  🙂
But for now, I wanted you to all know that I’m alive.  Just very very busy.  (I guess that’s what happens when you get a real job!)  And that I miss giving you random peeks into my days and weeks.  So I’m vowing to be back on the blogging wagon.

Talk to you soon,



P.S.  I found a second-favorite fingernail polish color.  It’s called “Berlin There Done That.”  I think I’ll start wearing “Tasmanian Devil Made Me Do It” (which I now own once again thanks to MH who found a bottle at a random store and mailed it to me, as any good friend would do) on my toes and “Berlin” on my fingers.  Because I’m that edgy.  Haha.

Mary-Hall’s September Status Update

Whatdayaknow, I’m 3 days past 9/9, which means I’m 30 years + 1 month + 3 days, which means obviously its time for me to pull out my skittle-colored graph and make an honest assessment of the situation.


MMm I could use a pack of Skittles right about now.

Anyway, clearly I made some good progress in July (see the “Yes” arrow) but then flopped in August.  Even more disconcerting is the utter lack of items in the “Started” category because that means I’ve got a queue problem.

Duly noted.

There’s a ton of stuff I should document.  Such as, on the night of my birthday, I made a last ditch effort to determine “what kind of wine I like” (#13), by purchasing two of Bethany’s favorites and tasting them late on 8/9/2012.  Wouldn’t that have been an appropriate list item to cross off on my actually birthday?  Why yes.  But unfortunately I can’t exactly say I liked either one!  WHAT?!? So weird… I figured Bethany for a super sweet kind of wine drinker but apparently I was wrong about that.  I perhaps, am.  Rather, whatever she is, I am not.  The recommendations, for the record, were Cupcake’s Red Velvet and Relax Riesling.  Seriously, Cupcake Red Velvet tastes nothing like a cupcake.  Its been spicing up spaghetti sauce in the Johnson residence ever since.  The riesling kind of grew on me.  So my next step will be to consult my charming younger brother, the closest thing to a wine expert that I am directly related to.  And, I’ll see him this weekend, so perhaps perhaps I will solve the puzzle soon.

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