Thursday, April 14, 2011

From the Dead

It's Easter time.

In choir practice Wednesday, we practiced for our upcoming Easter services.  I've been singing songs all day.  Of course, that made me scour the Internet to look for some of my favorite songs to listen to around this time of year.

I listened to two songs tonight.  One is a new one, Matt Maher's "Christ is Risen." It has a beautiful chorus:

"Christ is risen from the dead/
we are one with Him again/
Come awake, come awake/
come and rise up from the dead!"

The other is by Kristian Stanfill.  We've sang it in church for years, and it still gets me EVERY time. It's his version of "Jesus Paid It All."  I love it when we sing old hymns and mix them with some modern lyrics.  The bridge...oh, the bridge...there's something so simple yet substantial about that bridge...

"Oh, praise the One who paid my debt/
and raised this life up from the dead!"

The 15th chapter of Corinthians always comes to mind when I hear this.  It was spoken at my Grandpaw's funeral - "Where oh, death is your victory?  Where is your sting?"

There is no sting.

Christ conquered fear, death - the GRAVE. 

He conquered my life filled with iniquity.  My life - my pitiful life - my crazy life - my odd life - is raised from the dead.

No matter what, I live.  Because He lives.  Because He gave.

Did I mention that I don't deserve any of it?

That, my friends, is a beauty of Easter.

May I live a life worthy of His sacrifice.  May I live a life that exemplifies being raised from the dead.

Christ, my redeemer
raised my life from putrid stain
I will live again


Sunday, April 10, 2011

With a Little Help from My Friends

The weeks before Spring Break were overwhelming.

Amelia had surgery on the 18th of March to have tubes put in her ears. She had four ear infections in six months, and the last ear infection never completely healed up with antibiotics.  When Jeremy took Amelia to the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor (by the way, that term is passe - those doctors are called something like Otolayrnologists or something else with way too many syllables), he told us that Amelia had pus backed up behind her ears.

It sure did explain a whole lot.

My happy, sleeping baby had turned into a cranky insomniac. She was constantly griping - and even the simplest things would set her off into a tantrum.

All of this took place around the time of my birthday.  So, to be honest, it really put me into a mood.  One of those narcissistic, Molly-Ringwald-esque "it's my birthday and I'll pout if I want to" kind of moods.

My poor mother noticed it. She notices all of my moods. She and my sister sent me flowers.

My sweet friends noticed it.  I started getting messages saying, "wanna have a play date?" When I got three of those in the same day, I realized I needed to get out of my grouchy, self-absorbed state.

So, with a little help from my friends, I arranged two play dates. One was with Kathi and Kim, and the other was with Alisha.

Alisha teamed up with us the next week at Chick-fil-a, and we all had a good (albeit germy) time in the play area.

After that, we had a play date at my house - filled with nuggets, tater tots, and very infamous cupcakes.

I love having play dates with my friends and Amelia's friends. Amelia gets so much out of the experience.  She loves to see her friends and play with them! And, in turn, I get to see my sweet and wonderful friends.

It's a win-win situation.

Here's to many, many more play dates in the future.

I'm so thankful for friends - my friends, and Amelia's.

Simple Iced Coffee, a la Dana

It's hot out today.

It's only April 10th, but the sun is boiling down on folks in Georgia today.

I love it.

It is a little sad, however.  We don't really get a spring in Georgia.  Spring is weak-kneed and falls too easily to Summer's mighty, humid grasp.

Days like today make me want iced coffee.  I've developed quite a coffee habit in the past year or so (babies do that to people).  Around this time of year, I usually trade in my hot mug of joe for an iced coffee.

I experienced problems with my iced coffees over the past few years.  It's pretty difficult to thoroughly dissolve sugars and mixtures into iced coffee.  I could hot brew all of my ingredients together in my coffee pot, but my iced coffee wouldn't be so icy when I want it cold.  Plus, I have a Keurig, which brews iced coffee and then cools it down for me.

My solution in the past has been to go to Starbucks and purchase bottles of their vanilla syrup, but it has been difficult to obtain one this past year.  Plus, if you haven't heard, Starbucks is kinda expensive.

So, I made a simple syrup this morning with 1 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 cups of water, and two tablespoons of vanilla bean paste (you could use extract or a whole vanilla bean).  It worked really well - you just have to wait until it cools.

When the simple syrup is cooled, find a nifty container to put it in, like the one below.  Keep it in your cabinet for future use.

Now, you're ready to make some yummy iced coffee.

Take your cup, and add some simple syrup to it, like so (a couple of tablespoons - or more, depending on how sweet you like your coffee).  I used this fabulous cup that I bought at Wal-Mart:

Next, add in the ice...

Then, the coffee.  If you have a Keurig with an iced coffee K-Cup (like me), you can use that, or you can just chill some regular coffee.
This picture makes me drool.

Then, add in some milk. I like to use skim milk, because it is lower in calories and you can't really tell the difference between it and 2% milk.

Next, you stir, stir, stir!

Then, add in your favorite things.  Caramel syrup for a caramel kick, chocolate sauce for a mocha kick, whipped cream for an extra frothy iced coffee (I actually don't like whipped cream on my cold coffee..I think it creates a weird filmy taste and dilutes the taste of the coffee).

Gloriousness in a cup right here:

Notice that I added caramel to the straw on accid...I mean, as a decorative touch.

Save the simple syrup and use it whenever you want to make iced coffee, lemonade, limeade, or anything else that needs a sweet kick!  (To make lemonade or limeade, get the juice of one lemon or lime in a cup, and then add in some simple syrup.  Top with ice and water, and stir the mixture vigorously.  A mint leaf would be yummy in there, too!)

Here's the recipe:

Simple Iced Coffee

3 tablespoons (give or take), simple syrup (see recipe below)
8 ounces cold coffee
3 or four ounces of cold milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
caramel syrup (optional) 

Pour simple syrup into bottom of a cup.  Place ice in cup (as much or as little as desired).  Top with cold coffee, or iced coffee K-Cup brewed in Keurig.  Top with milk and vanilla and mix the coffee thoroughly.  Top with caramel syrup for a caramel macchiato, or with chocolate syrup for a mocha.

Simple syrup recipe:  on a stove top, heat up 1 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 cup of water on low heat.  Bring the mixture to the boiling point, and whisk the mixture together with a wire whisk.  The mixture should be clear.  When it reaches this point, turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of vanilla bean paste (vanilla extract or a vanilla bean could also be used).  Let the mixture sit until cool, and then place into a separate container for keeping.