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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Valentines, Girls Night(s) Out, Welcome Home Daddy!

It has been a while since I have just posted photos - random pictures, my loves and our memories in the making.  So here you go...

I helped organize Garrison's Valentine party at school and I'm so glad I got to be there to help out.  It made up for me missing out on the Christmas party for sure.  He got picked top three for most creative Valentine box.  Yay!  Goofy kid...



Here is my other sweet boy on Valentine's Day.


Sometimes these boys are too much cuteness for Mama to handle!
 

 
My back was killing me one night so Garrison offered to help me with laundry.  After hanging up some of his clothes I walked into the laundry room to find this scene. 
(1)  This is why I carry my phone with me everywhere.  (2)  Yes, I am one of those moms who takes a picture before rescuing my kids. 


I had such a fun night out with these two gals.  Julie and Shannon are two moms whose sons play on Garrison's baseball team.  We are SO lucky to have such a great group!  I got them gift cards to a painting place for their birthdays and we finally found a time we could all go.  Even though the evening started with me rushing around and accidentally slamming Garrisons fingers in the car door it ended with a yummy dinner, drinks and lots of laughs with these girls!  I think there was also a full moon at the end of the night! :)
 



I guess you could say I'm somewhat paranoid when Garrett is out of town.  I was home one Friday getting ready to head to Garrison's school party and the dogs started going crazy near the front door.  I couldn't run out there empty handed so I grabbed the gun and ran to the front door looking exactly like this...
 

 
I can only imagine what a robber would have thought had he come face to face with a gun toting lady with curlers in her hair.  Don't mess with this Mama!  :)

I was so happy to be able to catch up with one of my best friends for an early patio dinner one night.  And I was even more excited that she brought her beautiful daughter.  I love this girl SO much!  This was not a picture from that night.  I was too distracted after a bird crapped on my head to get pictures with two of my favorite gals.  Have I mentioned how much I hate birds?!

 
 Garrett was out of town for two weeks (yeah...TWO weeks) for work.  I am usually the one who does the stuff around the house, makes dinner and does bath time, etc. so while I knew we would miss him I didn't think it would be that bad.  Without getting too sappy I'll just say I missed him SO much!  I realized that while I may not rely on him for the day to day things I totally take him just being there for granted.  I missed our conversations at night, just hanging out and watching tv together, having him play with the boys (which results in constant noise in the house) and laughing with him.  It was just too quiet.  I was not the only one who was ecstatic to have daddy come home!

Garrison and the model airplane Garrett brought him
 


Ethan and his new puppy - he loved him!  He could care less that Garrett got this at CVS 10 minutes from the house and not in a local toy store in Virginia. :)
 

 
 
We tried sending Garrett lots of pictures/videos while he was gone.  This is one of my favorites.  Ethan is obsessed with showers.  Obsessed!



My handsome boys - haircuts and suckers always make for happy boys!

It has been a really rough couple of weeks, especially with Garrett being gone when I got the news of the loss of my cousin.  These rough times really help me put things in perspective and refocus my priorities.  I am grateful for all of my blessings and for at least one more day on this earth to enjoy them. 

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." ~James 1:17

~Jewels*

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Life, Love, Family, Loss, Faith

I feel the need to write this post even though words seem so trivial in times like this.  Our family lost a father, brother, son, grandson, nephew and cousin in a senseless and tragic way on Valentine's Day.  Shock, anger, regret, pain, confusion, sorrow - I know these are all emotions most of us have felt over the last several days.

I remember visiting my cousin Josh mostly in the summers when we were kids.  He was funny.  He was sarcastic.  He was handsome.  He was a protective brother.  I hate to say that as adults we did not know each other as well but when he came to our cousin's wedding in June it was as if no time had passed.  He was still funny.  He was still sarcastic.  He was still handsome.  And he was still a protective brother.  And now he was so much more - a loving father who loved his three boys. 

It is so easy to get caught up in the "whys" of life.  But I am convinced that is not what God wants us to focus on.  God gives us relationships so we can understand how much He loves us.  We ask Him why He took someone we loved but what we should remember is what God sacrificed for us.  "For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16).  He sacrificed His own Son so that we could have eternal life.  God knows pain, grief and loss.  He has experienced it first hand.

Earlier this week I went to visit my aunt and sisters of my cousin who passed away.  At one point I remember standing in my cousin's kitchen and just watching Josh's boys in the living room.  I fully expected to feel sadness, a sense of confusion, chaos and grief in the room.  But instead I felt peace.  Pure peace.  Joy, love, comfort and peace.  I felt the Holy Spirit all over that house.  And I knew at that moment, without a doubt, those boys would be okay.  Of course they are going to miss their daddy.  Of course they are going to have questions and sadness and some confusion in the days ahead.  But to know that God is with them and will carry them through this brings me an unexplainable joy I can't even try to put into words.

I had the pleasure of singing with my sister and cousins at Josh's funeral.  One of my favorite songs, "I Will Rise", was one that we sang.  My favorite part of the song is this:

And I hear the voice of many angels sing, Worthy is the Lamb 
And I hear the cry of every longing heart, Worthy is the Lamb

I can't even begin to fathom how incredible it will be to one day go through the gates of heaven and hear the angels singing.  And be able to worship God with all my heart and soul.

No Gerber funeral ends without a funny story.  And I was so grateful that ours happened at the beginning of Josh's service.  I was looking for a mint and my cousin came to the rescue...or so I thought.  He held out his palm filled with what looked like some kind of healing crystals or drugs of some sort and offered me a "mint".  I questioned it and showed it to my cousin behind me, who concurred it looked more like drugs than a mint.  As I'm staring at this object in my  hand I hear my cousin (who offered me the mint) start to choke/gag a little.  Come to find out this was no mint.  It was, in fact, beads from a broken necklace.  Really?!  I have to say it provided a few too many minutes of laughter just before the service.  I think God knew just what we needed.

Some of my favorite verses that have gotten me through the last several days are:


"God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted." ~Matthew 5:4


"His anger lasts for a little while,
    but then his kindness brings life.
The night may be filled with tears,
    but in the morning we can sing for joy!" ~Psalm 30:5



"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  ~Romans 8:38-39

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." ~ Psalm 46:1
All of us are dealing with something.  Loss, grief, pain, a failing marriage, addiction, depression, temptations... and I just want to tell you that God IS with you!  No matter how far you feel from Him He is with you.  He will always be with you.  He will never forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
 
I want to share a few pictures of the incredible family God has blessed me with.  We have been through our share of pain and loss and have continued to overcome - with each other and most importantly with the love and strength Christ gives us.  God is good.  All the time!

Gerber Cousins

Gerber Boys and Julie

~Jewels*

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Worth Fighting For

What in your life is worth fighting for?  I think most of us would say our children, our freedom our own life if it was threatened.  I feel like in current times we fight for the most frivolous things though.  I have even found myself debating over things like politics, gun control, gay marriage... the list goes on and on.  I am not saying it's not good to be involved or passionate about worldly issues.  I'm just saying that I think our society as a whole has a very skewed perception of what is worth fighting for.  Marriage used to be sacred.  It used to be worth fighting for.  Now people seem to give up at the first (or second or tenth) bump in the road.  I could write an entirely different post on that though.

I have been thinking a lot about how God WANTS us to fight for Him.  When I say fight I am not talking about war or physically fighting.  I am talking about standing up for Jesus like you would stand up for your children, even more so.  I am talking about making deliberate choices, day in and day out, that reflect Him and His love.  I am talking about having an unwavering faith and greater than life passion for the One who knows you better than anyone ever could.   

I often wonder why I sit back in certain situations and just let things be.  I don't want to be part of the "that's just the way it is" crowd.  I am sick of not expecting more from myself, my family and fellow Christians.  When we did get so lazy with our faith?  When did we get so complacent with the way our world is?  At what point do we decide that enough is enough and take a stand to fight for our God?  Taking a stand is reaching out to people in love - especially non believers, not sheltering ourselves in our protective bubbles surrounded by the comfort of our Christian friends.  Taking a stand is speaking up and being an advocate for children who are being bullied in schools or physically/sexually abused at home, not turning a blind eye because it's "not my business".  Taking a stand is having higher expectations for our children and teenagers, not condoning sexual experimentation or "moderate" drug use just because it has become the norm.  Taking a stand is fighting for your marriage, not giving up because it would just be easier.

There is an insane amount of scripture in the bible that talks about fighting for faith and God giving us the courage and authority to do so.  This is something He not only wants from us but expects from us.

"Fight the good fight of faith." ~1 Timothy 6:12

“Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” ~Luke 10:19

“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle – my loving kindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, who subdues my people under me.” ~Psalm 144:1

“The Lord is my strength and my shield …” ~Psalm 28:7

“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.” ~Isaiah 40:29 

“But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.” ~2 Thessalonians 3:3


Are we willing to fight for the One who gave His life for us?


~Jewels*

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Weekly Meal Planning (Including Five Yummy Recipes You Don't Want to Miss!)

Just being a wife can be overwhelming.  Add kids on to that.  Add a part time or full time job on the pile.  Let's not even touch the SAHM realm because that is way too overwhelming for me.  :) 

My point is I know that we can all fall into a rut of cereal or sandwiches for dinner.  I wanted to write a post specifically for you women out there who really do want to cook but can't seem to make it happen.  I want to let you in on a huge secret - preparation and organization are your best friends.  All you have to do is dedicate an  hour or two one day a week to plan out your meals for the upcoming week and write out a grocery list.  If you want to be REALLY organized you can even write out your list according to the grocery store layout.  I should be ashamed to admit this but instead I'm proud to say I supermarket sweep my ass through the grocery store in about 30 minutes.  This is so much easier than trying to make it by the grocery store every day, especially if you have a screaming toddler in tow.

This past week I was trying to use up some of the deer meat we had in the fridge and save money which is why the below recipes are heavy on the venison.  (We normally mix it up with shrimp, chicken, venison and beef throughout the week.)  Say what?  You don't have a manly, rifle toting, beard growing lumberjack of a husband who hunts for your family's dinner?  No problem.  I will tell you what you can substitute in each recipe. ;)


Chicken Fried Steak and Parmesan Spinach New Potatoes
 
If you were forced to pick one recipe off my entire blog this would be the one I recommend.  My in-laws taught me how to make CFS a couple of years back and I have not been the same since. :)  My husband loves it so much he often requests that I make it more than once a week.

CFS Ingredients:
  • 1 lb cubed venison OR 1 lb cubed steak (found in beef section at grocery store)
  • Buttermilk
  • Flour
  • Corn Meal (white or yellow)
  • 2 eggs
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 1 packet country gravy mix (McCormick is pretty good but make sure you don't get sausage flavored)
*You can make your own gravy if you want to work extra hard but I promise the packet is just as good, actually better in my opinion.* 

New Potatoes Ingredients:

  • 4 red new potatoes (small potatoes)
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh bag of spinach 
  • Garlic powder
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper


CFS Directions:
  1. Soak the steaks in buttermilk for about an hour.
  2. Fill a frying pan up with vegetable oil about 1/3 to halfway (enough to cover about half of the CFS).  Heat oil on medium high until hot.  (A good way to test this is to get water on your fingertips and flick it in the pan.  When it pops it's ready!)
  3. Lay out three small plates.
  4. Put about 3 Tablespoons of flour on one plate.
  5. Beat 1 - 2 eggs and put on the second plate.
  6. Put about 1 Tablespoon of flour and 2 Tablespoons of corn meal on the third plate.  
  7. Dip each cube steak in each mixture (in the above order).  
  8. Place in the pan.
  9. You should be able to fit 3 in a pan easily.
  10. Fry on each side until golden brown.  Be careful you do not let it burn.  You can cut in half to make sure it is done but remember this is beef and it does not have to be well done.
  11. No need to make sure the gravy is done at the same time.  (Don't overwhelm yourself.)  You can put the CFS in the microwave to keep warm.  Trust me, it will not matter if they are hot once you put steaming hot gravy on top.
  12. Follow the directions on the packet for the gravy.  I like to serve the gravy in ramekins on the side so the steak does not get mushy.

Parmesan Spinach New Potatoes Directions:
  1. Wash new potatoes and cut in half.
  2. Put in a microwave safe dish and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Cook for about 10 minutes.  I cook for five minutes, stir, cook for five more minutes.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking put about 1 - 2 T olive oil in a pan and heat on medium high.  Add fresh spinach, garlic powder, salt and pepper and cook until they are wilted (flat and somewhat wrinkly).
  5. Once the potatoes are done, smash with a fork.  You are not looking for a smooth consistency like mashed potatoes.  These are supposed to be chunky.
  6. Add cooked spinach to potatoes and however much parmesan cheese you want.  Feel free to add more garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Yum!









Venison Spaghetti

It doesn't get much easier than spaghetti.  And it's always a kiddo pleaser!

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb ground venison or ground beef
  • 1 package thin whole wheat spaghetti (might as well be healthy)
  • 1 jar onion and garlic spaghetti sauce  
Directions:
  1. Brown meat and drain.
  2. Pour entire jar of sauce into a pot, add meat, turn on medium high.  Once it boils turn down to a simmer.
  3. Boil a pot of water and add spaghetti noodles.  Cook for 10 minutes and drain.
  4. I mix the sauce with the noodles.
 I serve with Caesar salad and  garlic cheese toast.  Texas Cheese Toast is a great brand but Kroger and Wal Mart also have their own brand.



Venison Crock Pot Chili

This was my first attempt at making chili.  I'm not gonna' lie - we love Wolf brand Chili but there is something satisfying about coming home to home made chili in a crock pot.  I found this recipe on Pinterest and literally had to cut it down by about 75% so bear with me on the rough measurements.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound of Ground Venison OR Ground Beef
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced (I used 3 T minced garlic from jar)
  • 15 ounces, weight Can Kidney Beans (drained But Not Rinsed)
  • 6 ounces, weight Jar Salsa
  • 20 ounces, weight Jar Tomato Sauce
  • 1 can Mexican Rotel 
  • 2 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Paprika
  • FOR SERVING:
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Sour Cream, Optional, for serving
  • Shredded Cheese (optional for serving)
  • Jalapenos (optional for serving)
  • Crackers/Tortilla Chips/Cornbread (optional for serving)
  Directions: 
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the beef, onion and garlic and cook until the meat is browned and the onions are softened.
  2.  Drain the grease and place the beef mixture into a large crock pot.   
  3.  Add the remaining chili ingredients into the crockpot and stir to combine.
  4.  Put the lid on and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 7 hours.
  5.  Serve garnished with jalapenos, sour cream, and shredded cheese as desired.
I served with cornbread and we tore the cornbread up into pieces and put in our chili.  Yum!







Venison Backstrap Kabobs

My BIL made backstrap venison for me when I was in Houston a while back and I had a whole new outlook on eating deer meat.  Yum!  So I took his marinade idea and we used it for these kabobs for Super Bowl Sunday!

Kabob Ingredients:


  • Venison backstrap cutlets (sorry I don't have an alternative for you)  :)
  • Whole mushrooms
  • Chunks of onion
  • Any other veggies you want on your kabobs
  • Olive oil
  • Rosemary
  • Kosher/Sea Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Marinate meat in a plentiful amount of olive oil, rosemary (I used rosemary from a jar), kosher/sea salt and pepper.  Leave in fridge for a few hours.
  2. Put on kabob sticks with veggies in between.
  3. Grill.  Don't overcook.  I would say the hubbs left these about medium.  Yum!

We served these with boyscout potatoes and you can look at this post to get that recipe.  Amazing!





Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

If I was being honest I would say this was not our favorite recipe of the week.  But if you love crock pot recipes it's definitely a good one to try.

 Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cubed venison OR beef stew meat
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed golden mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • I added about 1/2 sour cream (only because I overcooked it and needed to make it creamier)

Directions:
  1. In a slow cooker, combine the meat, soup, onion, Worcestershire sauce and water.
  2. Cook on Low setting for 8 hours, or on High setting for about 5 hours. Stir in cream cheese (and sour cream if you want) just before serving.
  3. Serve over wide egg noodles.








Enjoy!!!

~Jewels*

 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bomb Diggety Crockpot Quesadillas

I realized I haven't posted a recipe in a while and I want to get better about that.  In fact, next week I plan on posting all of my dinners from this week.  If you are looking for venison recipes, get ready...  this week has been full of deer!

I found this crockpot chicken quesadilla recipe on Pinterest last week and loved it so I wanted to share.

I have renamed this recipe...

Bomb Diggety Crockpot Quesadillas

Ingredients:

4 boneless chicken breasts

**I substituted 1 can Mexican Rotel for the below two items.**
1 (4oz) can green chilies
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes

1 (8oz) pkg light cream cheese
Shredded Mexican cheese blend
Tortillas
Non-stick cooking spray or olive oil


Directions:

Spray crockpot with non-stick cooking spray (or use these awesome no mess crockpot bags)
 
Place chicken breasts at the bottom of the cooker. Cover with tomatoes, chilies (or Rotel) and cream cheese. Just dump it all in there and place lid on top.
Cook in low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. I had a long work day so this was on low in the crockpot for about 10 hours.  I put the crockpot on warm when I got home and it was good.
 
After 6-7 hours, remove chicken and shred.  I just used two forks and it fell apart.
 
Once completely shredded, place chicken back in cooker. Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes.  I didn't do this part.  I just left it on warm since they had cooked extra long.
 
Spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray (or a pat of butter). On medium heat, place tortillas in pan. Fill one half with chicken mix & top with grated cheese.
Fold filled tortilla in half.
 
Cook each side aprox 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Be careful of burning.
 
 
 
~Jewels*