Monday, March 25

For your holiday meal: Simple holiday salad

Can you believe that Easter is next Sunday?  This important date really sneaked up on me this year!

If you're like me, planning for a holiday includes planning a special meal.  I like super-easy side dish recipes that taste wonderful but don't require a lot of time to prepare.  This salad definitely fits the bill!

My mom always called this dish "Five Cup Salad."  Some of my guests over the years have called it ambrosia.  A sweet little girl who shares many of our holiday meals calls it "Marshmallow Salad."  Whatever it's called, it's the easiest side-dish recipe I know.  I make it for every holiday meal, so I'm calling it "Holiday Salad."

Holiday Salad

1 cup pineapple tidbits (small can, drained)
1 cup mandarin orange slices (small can, drained)
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (I use Baker's Angel Flake)
8 ounces sour cream
Stir ingredients together.  Chill and serve.
It doesn't get much simpler than that--and the results are absolutely delicious!

Is there a dish you make for every holiday meal?  Please share!


Sunday, March 24

Palm Sunday

On this day and on every day:

Oh, Lord, give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to recognize Jesus for who He is.

Tuesday, March 19

An important question

"What can I do? What can I do?"  That phrase ran 'round and 'round in my head as I pondered what I should be writing about.  Other phrases followed soon after:  "What gets tweeted?  What gets shared on Facebook?  What gets pinned?  What sells??"

Because, after all, that's what this is all about, isn't it?  We all want to be affirmed for our efforts.  We want to be appreciated for our contributions.  We want to be paid for our  work.  And there's nothing wrong with that.

But if the filter I'm applying to everything I'm doing here is whether it will sell, it may be time to change filters.

Honestly, I want to do work that will be valued.  In the world of buying and selling, it's easy to focus only on the market value of things.  In general, market value is based on the law of supply and demand.  The greater the demand for a product or service, the more resources people will trade to obtain that product or service.  It's a simple concept, really;  an item is valuable not because of its existence, but because people are willing to pay to obtain it.

But market value isn't the only kind of value.  Some things are valuable in and of themselves.  That's called intrinsic value.  Those things might not be marketable, but they're very valuable.  Many of the most important qualities of our lives really can't be measured in market value.  Thanks to the Beatles, we all know that money "can't buy me love."  But love is not the only thing money can't buy.  It can't buy peace.  Or joy.  Or goodness.  Or faithfulness.  If we have to sacrifice things of intrinsic value in order to obtain things of market value, we're making a bad trade.

To tell the truth, I'd be delighted to have commercial success.  I'd love for one of my posts to be shared thousands of times.  I'd love for one of my pins to go viral.  Who wouldn't?  There's certainly nothing wrong with that.  It's great to have that as a goal.  But there's something else to which I need to be more dedicated than to reaching my goals.   I need to fulfill my calling.  A calling comes from God: it's that work that God has in mind for us to do, that particular way we are called to serve, that special work in which we can both glorify God and serve people.

Now, some people are called to work that provides financial reward, and then they are called to glorify God with those resources.  I know a number of people like this, and they are such a wonderful example to me.  I praise God for their faithfulness.  But if I'm completely honest, I'll admit that it's easy for me to become a little jealous of their success--and that's not good.  I need to steer clear of that territory.

The bottom line for me is this:  If I can reach my goals within the context of fulfilling my calling, that'll be great.  If I have to sacrifice my calling in order to reach my goals, then my goals need to change.  I'm the kind of person who needs to stop periodically and assess how I'm doing with this.

Having a blog is part of my calling, I believe.  And within the context of blogging, my calling here is to impart grace--to reflect the love and goodness and generosity of God in everything I do.  That might not sell very well, but it's still my calling.

Is this something you think about?  What's your calling?

**I'm joining Amanda at Serenity Now for Weekend Bloggy Reading.**

Friday, March 15

Something I needed to read

My dear friends, I had grand intentions of writing a beautiful post for today--something that would make you so glad you'd visited here!  Alas, that didn't happen.  Instead, things like this happened:

Now, that's not my beautiful lamp.  It belongs to my friend Marian, better known as "Scooper" at a la Mode.  Marian wrote exactly the post that I needed to read today--a reminder of what's what, a post to help me keep my head screwed on straight.  A post called "Making Friends with Mess."

I'm guessing some of you might need to read it, too.  You'll be blessed by it, I promise.  Go on over and tell Marian her messy friend Richella sent you.

Monday, March 11

How to make a beautiful bird's nest
for just a few pennies

Spring is in the air!  Here in North Carolina, the daffodils are in full bloom.  Although it was hard to get out of bed in the darkness this morning, it's wonderful to have long, light evenings again.  

I'm ready now to add a little spring to my decor.  I wanted a bird's nest for the lamp table on my front porch, so I made one.  It's so simple and so inexpensive!

I started with a couple of items from the dollar store: a coconut planter liner and a bag of loose moss.

I used a small bowl as a form.

I simply turned the bowl upside down my work surface, tore off a hunk of the coconut liner, and shaped the liner around the inverted bowl.   The coconut liner material sticks together easily.  You'd never know there was a bowl under there, would you?

When I turned it right side up, it looked like this:

Then I shaped and formed the nest a bit more, trimmed off some of the excess, and added some moss to make the nest look a bit more natural.

A couple of robin's eggs completed the project.

I also made a smaller, deeper nest to hold a single egg:

Making both these nests took me less than 10 minutes.  I reckon I can make at least half a dozen nests from one coconut liner and one bag of moss.  That would be 33 cents per nest!  I think I'll make several to decorate Easter lunch tables at church.

For now, I like the way my nest adds a bit of spring to the front porch.

What do you think?  Could you use a bird's nest in your spring decor?

I'm joining Beth at Home Stories A to Z for Tips and Tutorials
Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday
"The Scoop" ladies for the Mega Spring Linky Party

Friday, March 8

My book is available now:
A Spiritual Formation Primer

My dear friends, this is a big day for me.  I'm so excited to share with y'all the news that my book, A Spiritual Formation Primer, is now available!

Here's the description from the Renovaré:

Written by Renovaré Ministry Team and Board member Richella Parham, A Spiritual Formation Primer is a valuable resource that answers the question being asked by many today: "What is Spiritual Formation?" Richella clearly lays out the basics of Christian spiritual formation and does so in a cheerful and winsome way.  This highly approachable volume inspires its reader that transformation into the image of Jesus Christ is available, possible, and awaiting every believer who seeks it.

Some of the topics included in this book are:
  • defining Spiritual Formation
  • the centrality of Christ
  • God's grace
  • life in the kingdom of God
  • the process of change
  • the spiritual disciplines
  • the communion of saints
  • the fellowship of believers
  • resources for renewal
A Spiritual Formation Primer is perfect for new believers who want to dig deeper into Life with God.  It is also an excellent resource for personal and/or small group study as well as a “must have” for any ministerial leadership team.

I'm donating all the proceeds from the sale of this book to Renovaré.  Renovaré is a community of Christians seeking continual spiritual renewal in Christ. Founded in 1988 by Celebration of Discipline author Richard J. Foster, Renovaré (a Latin word meaning “to be renewed”) promotes personal and spiritual renewal. We are convinced that all people can enjoy a closer walk with Jesus, leading to a more vibrant and fulfilling Christlike life.  You can read more about the ministry on its website,

My book is available in as a PDF download or in a soft-cover paper version.  Click here to learn more.

Update:  Now there's a new edition of A Spiritual Formation Primer, expanded to include additional information and notes for study and discussion!  Here's how my book looks now:

The updates make it a more valuable resource, and I'm so happy to share it with you.

Thank you, friends, for supporting me and for being excited along with me.  Let me know if you have any questions!

Tuesday, March 5

Best Banana Bread

Mmmmmm.  Makes me hungry just to look at the photo!

My banana bread recipe came from my grandmother.  She was one amazing lady and an absolutely incredible cook.  With her recipes in my recipe box, I feel invincible in the kitchen!

When bananas get to this stage, it's time to make bread.  Peel the bananas and mash with a fork (or let your food processor or blender mash them for you).  If you don't have time to bake, throw the bananas (peels and all) into the freezer.  When you're ready to use them, just thaw and smush the banana goop right out into your batter.  You won't even need to mash them.

Here's my grandmother's unbeatable banana bread recipe.  

Grandma's Banana Bread

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cups walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.  

Spread nuts onto a baking sheet.  Toast in oven for a few minutes.  (This brings out the flavor of the nuts and makes them especially yummy in the bread.)  Chop nuts and set aside.

Mix together oil, sugar, and salt.  Add eggs, flour, baking soda, vanilla extract, mashed bananas.  Mix thoroughly.  Stir in nuts.   Pour batter evenly into loaf pans.  Set timer according to the size of your loaf pans--45 minutes for large pans, 40 minutes for medium pans, or 35 minutes for mini pans.  After time has elapsed, test bread by inserting a toothpick into each loaf.  Bread is done when toothpick comes out clean.  There may be a crumb or two on a toothpick--that's fine.  You just don't want any goop on the toothpick.  If needed, continue baking in small increments, checking for doneness every couple of minutes.  DO NOT overbake.  When fully baked, remove from oven.  Cool in pans for a few minutes, then remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.  Makes one large, two medium, or four mini loaves.  Recipe may be doubled.  Bread freezes beautifully.

Click here for a printable copy.

What's your favorite thing to bake?

Monday, March 4

Thrifty tip for home decor

Last week I dropped off some donations at Goodwill, then popped into the store for a quick look around.  There wasn't much to see, but I did find two of these for $1.29 each:

Not the most beautiful pillows, but very well-made, and guess what was inside?

Wonderful goosedown inserts!  $2.58 for two!

I brought them home and popped them straight into the washing machine.  Hot water and bleach should take care of any unwanted critters. . . just in case.  Then I dried them in the dryer on high heat.

Now I have two high-quality down inserts to make new pillows--for less than the price of a bag of poly-fil.  I'm planning to make pillows for my new living room with this fabric (Scoma.519 by Kravet):

Next time you're in your local thrift store, take a quick look at the bedding!