I’m Lana, a native Oklahoman. Married 17 years to the first boy I ever dated. Mama to two amazing, darling girls. I’m a coffee-drinking, book-reading, home-educating night owl! An accountant in my life B.C. (Before Children), my dream job would be getting paid to read all day.And if you’re into Meyers-Briggs personality tests, I’m an ISTJ. Most important of all, I’m a follower of Christ.
At least, that’s what I’ve always told myself. It had that weird, tangy whang that left a strange aftertaste in my mouth. I didn’t understand why my husband liked the stuff, but since he enjoyed it, I dutifully bought a carton every holiday season. And every year, I’d try the eggnog again, just to see if my tastes had changed.
My taste buds had not changed. Eggnog was still yucky-tasting to me.
That is, until I discovered this recipe. Suddenly, eggnog is one of the highlights of our family’s holidays. No weird flavor here, just a wonderfully creamy drink. No strange aftertaste, only the delicious spice of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Our whole family looks forward to having a mug of eggnog while we work on a 1,000-piece puzzle together (another of our Christmas traditions). We’ve even discovered that this eggnog recipe is as delicious served warm as it is cold!
So whether you’re an eggnog aficionado or an eggnog avoider, add this recipe to your holiday to-do list and you just might find your family has a new Christmas tradition too!
I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
I grew up in a home where my parents entertained pretty frequently. We always had people in our house for my dad’s job, or church fellowship, or just because my mom, who is a natural hostess, invited someone over that night. My mom has always impressed me with how she can entertain in a pinch and everything was always wonderful. Someday I will grow up to be like my mom. She was a Pinterest mom before that was a “thing” and she came by it naturally from my grandmother. It also might be an Army wife thing. One of my mom’s many gifts is hospitality and generosity.
Thankfully, this has all resulted in tons of impressive but quick dinners, appetizers, and sides that never fail. Go Mom!
I love to cook and I love to entertain, although I am not as good as my mom at hosting and my “skills” in hospitality have progressively worsened after I had kids… oh well. I’m working on it.
Hospitality is a spiritual gift for some and for others, it seems like a nightmare. Even if you enjoy it, sometimes hospitality is inconvenient. A dear friend and mentor of mine once challenged me to allow myself to be inconvenienced. She urged me to intentionally change my attitude about serving others when it seemed to push me outside my comfort bubble. She challenged me to open my heart to opportunities that seemed to cause more work or interruption in my day and see how the Lord worked through it to minister not only to me, but to allow myself to be used in those situations to serve others and be hospitable.
Here are a few verses to meditate on:
1 Peter 4:9 (ESV) – “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
Romans 12:13 (ESV) – “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”
Hebrews 13:2 (ESV) – “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Some of these are talking about the serving the body of Christ as a whole, but the idea here is serving others and having a right heart about showing love even in the midst of inconvenience in your day, or all the stress or the hours of clean up.
I want to encourage you to look for ways to serve not only other fellow members of the church, but your community as well. This might even look like being helpful or “hospitable” to a fellow mom at a park you usually go to (anyone ever forget the diaper bag?!), maybe it looks like offering to run an errand for someone, or taking a meal. Truly, I think our challenge here is looking for opportunities to serve with a willing heart outside of our comfort bubble or our plan for the day, however that may look in your life.
You never know when serving someone, even in a seemingly small way, is “entertaining angels” or helping to further God’s Kingdom.
All that being said, every once in awhile we just need to make a meal that tastes good but doesn’t require an all-day production. Sometimes family pops over for dinner unexpectedly, or maybe you decided to invite that new person at church over, or bring something to the family down the street going through a rough time. Usually, (or if I really plan ahead) I go to the crock pot for some of my favorite feed-a-crowd deliciousness but sometimes I don’t have time for a crock pot meal to cook.
Here is a great meal that strikes a nice chord between homemade and super convenient.
Behold: Homemade meatballs, tomato sauce and pasta.
This can be easily doubled or tripled for either a big group or to freeze. My kids love these so I usually have a bag in the freezer that I can use for a quick lunch (or to feed an impromptu dinner guest).
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground Italian Sausage – any kind you like, I use sweet or mild for the kids
¾ cup Italian breadcrumbs (In a pinch I’ve also used panko, but increase seasonings by at least a tsp each if you use unseasoned crumbs.)
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp each of the following:
1 Tbsp of your favorite Italian seasoning
Optional: fresh snipped basil
1 box of penne or spaghetti pasta
What’s more cheater and delicious than a good jarred sauce? Buy two, or get one jar of your favorite sauce and one can of diced Italian tomatoes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. .
Dump all the ingredients (except the sauce and pasta) into a bowl and mix with your hands just until well-combined. Don’t over-mix or your meatballs will get tough. Tip: mix using your fingers, don’t “knead” the meat.
If the meat mixture seems too dry (if it’s really crumbly and not coming together into balls), add about 1 tsp of olive oil at a time to gain the right consistency.
Grease a large cookie sheet or two depending on the size of your meatballs. Roll them into anywhere from about 1-inch to 2-inch balls. Make smaller ones for it to stretch further; big ones are fun for meatball sandwiches.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes on the middle rack.
Use it all now or freeze it for later
If you are using them right away, dump the whole tray (drippings and all) into a pot of your favorite jarred spaghetti sauce. I recommend two standard jars for this, or one jar and one 14 oz can of Italian diced tomatoes. If you are feeling fancy, you can even make your own sauce, you know, with all your free time ;).
Let it simmer together for at least 20 minutes, or up to an hour on low. Season to taste and serve with cooked pasta!
I like to use a box of penne with this. Toss it in the sauce and meatballs and throw a handful of shredded mozzarella or some fresh chopped Italian parsley on top for a quick delicious meal that feeds a large group.
Serve with some crusty bread and a salad (even a bag-o-salad). It’s a wonderful hearty meal everyone will love.
Again, these meatballs freeze great and they are pretty forgiving on measurements. If you make them ahead, then just add them cold to the sauce and heat together on medium until it’s all heated through.
Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
I thought I would take a break from my healthy living series today to talk about grief because I just learned of the passing of a great man.
Not only was he a friend of mine, but he was the grandfather of a friend of mine. I’ve known him for about ten years and I think I bonded with his granddaughter because we are so much alike in that we had very close relationships with our grandfathers. They were so close, just as I had been with mine.
I remember a few years back, I was working with my State Representative to pass a bill for farmer’s markets. I needed people to attend a meeting at the State Capitol with some of the representatives. He was the first to say yes even though he lived well over an hour away, and he called me several times to check on the progress and to offer help and advice. This was a two year process and he checked on me during the entire process. He would pick up things for me that I needed that were close to where he lived.
As I started writing this, God spoke to me and told me to stay with my series because grief affects our health. So here is the fourth installment in my series.
Grief and Health
I’m not a counselor but I have experienced deep grief and I know that it can affect one’s health. I miscarried our first child (I wrote about it earlier) and have lost all of my grandparents, one of which for whom I was the primary caregiver.
I never really dealt with any of this grief until my grandfather passed away. I didn’t realize I had been carrying around grief for all those years that I had just bottled up, AND it was affecting my health. While my grandfather was going through the dying process (hospice term), it was difficult for me to admit that he was dying. I did everything I could to keep him going because I wasn’t ready to let go.
During this time I started having medical problems. My hormones were out of whack. My neck and shoulder hurt all the time. I lost and gained weight like I was on a roller coaster.
The day of my grandfather’s funeral, I almost passed out as I approached his casket. I really do not remember that part but I do remember my husband and the funeral director’s wife sitting me down in the car.
I thought this was just part of MY aging process until I started going to a grief support group. I realized that these health problems manifested themselves because I had bottled up my grief and refused to deal with it.
After quite a bit of counseling, I realized that I had not been taking care of myself. I had taken care of my grandfather. I was taking care of my three children. I was homeschooling my three children. I owned a small business. I was a farmer’s wife to a husband who also had a full time job. I was doing for everyone else, but I was not taking care of myself.
I had even pushed God away. I was not angry with Him; I just thought I could do everything by myself. I felt abandoned. I still went to church and went through the motions. I was what I always called a “pew warmer.”
Luckily for me, or should I say only through God, the support group facilitator was a very open, wonderful Christian woman. (She is also the one that convinced me to write.) She helped me to see that I needed to turn to God and that He would help me through this.
Healthy Tip #4
Take care of yourself. Take time to pamper yourself, whether it be taking a hot bath, reading a book, watching a movie, whatever is your getaway.
Also, eat properly. When we are upset, we tend to eat “comfort foods.” These are generally high fat, high sugar foods that temporarily make us feel good. Avoid those and try to eat something a little more healthy.
Most importantly, spend time with God. Do not shut Him out. It is only through Him that we can get through our grief.
2 large whole grain tortillas
1 ripe avocado
1 small clove of garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste.
Thinly sliced cucumber, chopped tomatoes, or other vegetables.
Cut garlic in half and rub over tortillas. This gives a great light garlic flavor.
Next smear avocado over tortillas.
Place other vegetables in a line down the middle and roll up.
Cut in half and enjoy.
This makes a quick light lunch or nutritious snack.
Have you ever tried to do it all by yourself?
Have you ever been physically ill from grief?
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