More than JUST Vanilla French Toast!

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Believe it or not, I have struggled with cooking breakfast for years!! My journey to becoming Joyfully Submitted had its share of bumps and bruises, and breakfast was one of them!! I knew how to cook, but I did not find joy in it, and as a result, lacked creativity, as well as the desire to find new things, recipes, techniques and flavors. As long as we ate and it was good, I was great! Delicious was not necessarily a goal of mine, or so I thought. But I found myself becoming disappointed or having my ‘feelings hurt’ when I got less than the highest praise for meals that I had put together without much thought.  I put my heart into holiday meals, and meals that would be served to guests…(shaking my head in embarrassment). But my cooking lacked more than mouth-watering flavor! It lacked joy…it lacked heart! Nowhere was this more evident than in the morning…with breakfast. I am truly saddened as I look back and view in retrospect not just the food served, but the heart with which it was served.  I was not horrible, I just was not there…my heart was somewhere else for years!!! And if anyone cared to look, it was evident…in my cooking. Oh I could do your basics…eggs and bacon, cereal and toast, oatmeal from scratch (took some practice), and the meals were good. But the really good stuff (in my opinion…in my families opinion) like pancakes and french toast…I always fell short of, well, delicious! They took too much time! They involved too many ingredients!! Who had time??? Time was not the issue, nor was the number of ingredients in the recipes.  Who knew that a lack of submission to Christ and his plan for my life…for your life…for our lives…would reveal itself  in our approach to meal time…to cooking? The sharing of meals has always been an integral part in the lives of believers since before the church was born. We see our Lord serve the disciples and spend his last night on Earth eating with those closest to him.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 25:26-28

We see that as the church was growing, food and the joyful sharing of meals was an integral part of that growth….

A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”Acts 2:43-47

But I had missed this, of course, because for years my silent, secret focus was on myself. I grieved for a long time and silently refused to let go of the life I planned for myself. I thought that if I looked like the submitted wife on the outside God would let me off of punishment and reward me with my dream life!!! My selfishness caused me to totally miss the glaringly obvious reality that I was living my dream life!! And this one came complete with surround sound and high-definition!!! But all was not lost….and breakfast has been rescued! On my journey I have discovered that as my heart was made new, so were my perspectives and the things I found joy in. And cooking everything, even breakfast from scratch, has become a source of great joy! The recipe below is so much more than JUST Vanilla French Toast! It is a symbol of another area in my heart that has been made new as evidence of my submitted heart. It’s not the vanilla that makes this french toast impossible to resist. It’s the depth of love and care and concern and joy that went into preparing it. It’s not looking at the recipe and thinking there are too many ingredients, but now investigating to find new ones that can be added… I pray that you enjoy making this for your family. Relax. Breath in deeply the aroma of the Vanilla and cinnamon blend. Slow down and taste all of the flavors mixing together in your mouth. Then teach your kids to do the same. You see, it was not just my heart that was filled with joy as I prepared this. It was witnessing that joy transfer to my children and my husband when they ate it…my change of heart positively impacted them! And with HUGE smiles they asked for more!

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4

This recipe from http://www.allrecipes.com has not only vindicated me in the kitchen, but has served of more evidence of a Joyfully Submitted heart! No longer are my husband and oldest son the only ones who can successfully prepare breakfast foods such as pancakes and french toast from scratch, and have us wanting for more. This recipe, posted in the pic below, is amazing!!! The kids actually had thirds!! Well, the boys did :D.  Just between you and me, I made a few modifications the last 2 times I made these. I added another 1/2 tsp of cinnamon as well as 1 tsp nutmeg (which the original recipe did not include). The results were amazing!! The recipe yields 12-18 slices of french toast! Enjoy preparing it!!! Enjoy serving it!!! Enjoy eating it!!!

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10 Things I am Thankful for Upon Turning 40

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Today is my 40th Birthday! (Tomorrow by the time you read this) It was not the day I dreamed of. It was not the day I expected or would have planned for myself. It was soooooo much better!!! Let me tell you 10 reasons why 😀

1. I am alive and healthy!!!!!

God is so faithful that he allowed me to see today. It is a BLESSING to have been walking this Earth for 40 years. So many were not even born, or have died before reaching this milestone. But I am still here!!! I am ALIVE!

2. My Husband is alive and healthy!!!!

My father died when I was 25 years old 😦 and I missed him all day! I saw my mother widowed just prior to her 30th wedding anniversary. They were YOUNG!!! It has been 15 years, and everyday I am soooo thankful that my Sweetie is still here with me, but never so much as I am today! As he approaches the age that my father was when he passed (he was only 46 and my Sweetie is 42), I am blessed and highly favored that he is still with me and that his health is good!!!

3. My children are alive and healthy!!!

I have four babies and they are all alive and healthy! I was able to spend the entire day with them, not doing schoolwork and lessons, but celebrating life…my life! God is good…AND he is FAITHFUL!!!

4. I LOVE THE LORD AND AM LOVED BY HIM!!!

In a day and time when so many are lost, where they do not know why they exist or how they came to be, I am sooooo THANKFUL that I was show the way to the Cross and the empty tomb as a young woman!!!! The Joy that I have found in knowing Christ…in being FORGIVEN by the Son of God…in being made a part of the family of God!!!!! …it given me a confidence in Christ that is unshakeable…unbreakable…matchless!!! The love of God fills my senses and my heart and the love for him overflows from within me!!!

5. Our needs are met!!!

The enemy of our souls actually attempted to fill my thoughts with complaints today…with ingratitude!!!! I was awakened with breakfast in bed…made from scratch by my Sweetie and the kids!!! Followed by a family tradition of everyone piling into our bed and presenting made from the heart greeting cards!!!

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Card from Kayla (oldest)
Card from Isaiah
Card from Isaiah
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Card from Jordan…He drew a copy of a picture we had taken a couple of months ago 😀
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Card from Leah! Complete with 40 balloons 😀

Each card was filled with a handwritten letter or message. By the time I was done reading them all I was, of course, in tears! Ukali then presented me with his card AND sang me a song <3! My mother in law took me out to lunch, and I returned home for some down time (and a rest from the 85 degree temps outside), before shopping! Shopping was followed by a home cooked meal with my family working together in the kitchen and me sitting and relaxing on the sofa! What was there to be discontented over??? What was there to lament or to be sad over??? I’ll come back to that!

6. That I am free!!!

It was 20 years ago that the Lord hijacked my life and turned it around!!! Maybe hijacked is a strong visual, but that’s how it felt! I prayed years before and I told the Lord that I was giving my life over to him! But I did not think He would take that literally!!! But He did….and I. AM. THANKFUL!!!! You see, he rescued me from me!! And today I.AM.FREE!!!!! Free from the prison of feminist ideology!!! Free to serve God and man from a heart filled with compassion and the love of Christ!!! Free to love my husband and to submit to his authority without fear!! Free to commit these years of my life to the rearing of my children and FREE to work hard diligently to draw their hearts to Christ!! Free to live and love without fear of what others think!! I.AM.FREE.

7. I am finally a grown up!!!

I can’t explain it, but I FEEL like an adult!! I feel mature and grown up in my thinking and my emotions and attitude. People asked all day if I felt different when I woke up this morning…and my response was ‘NO’. But I do feel different, it’s just did not happen this morning! It has been gradually happening over the last few months and I am just able to put it into words :-P. Today, I looked into the mirror, and thought to myself that I do not FEEL 40 (whatever that feels like), but I feel grown-up! I feel confident…and secure…and focused…ALL AT ONCE!

8. I FEEL loved!!!

My husband has loved me and complimented me and told me that I am beautiful for years..20 to be exact! I even remember one day, before we were married, that my dad was watching the Jerry Springer show and Ukali was visiting me. He overheard a portion of the show, which was about husbands threatening to leave their wives because they had gained weight after having one or more kids, and had not lost the weight! Ukali was horrified and came into the kitchen of my parents home to pledge his love and support of me no matter how my appearance changed over the years!!! He has stood by his promise… through 3 pregnancies, bedrest, bad hair, horrible rash outbreaks due to an unknown allergic reaction, bad breath, extended periods w/o physical intimacy during pregnancies, fake hair, colored hair, cut hair….THROUGH ALL OF IT I.HAVE.BEEN.LOVED!!! and I am just recently able to genuinely believe and receive it FULLY!!!!! And to rest in it…and I am sooo thankful!

9. I can do ALL things through Chris who gives me strength!!!

Really…I can! I can love. I can write. I can encourage. I can walk with young women and disciple them. I can submit to my husband in love and humility. I can educate my children. I can love God with all my heart, all my soul and all my mind!!!! I.CAN!!!

10. I.CAN.FINISH.SOMETHING.I.START!!!!!

Maintaining this blog for a year and a half has worked to dispel the lie of the enemy that has told me that I am a quitter…a failure…a captive to fear! Looking back has worked to help me to look forward!!! Not only am I following through with this blog, I am wrapping up several writing projects and they will be published this year!! Praise God!!! Gone are the fears of a 9-year-old little girl who received rejection letters from publishing companies that served to crush her spirit and paralyze her. 31 years have gone by since then…those companies have probably been shit down or bought out by now! 😀

Well, that’s it for now!! Of course there is more, but I am going to enjoy the last few minutes of my birthday with my Sweetie! Soon, I will tell you how my 40th birthday was almost ruined by …well, I will tell you that later! Let me just say that I thank God for perspective!!! TTYL

Making and Canning Apple Pie Filling!

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Ok, So I am taking a break from finishing my book in order to relax a little bit and catch you guys up on some goings on around here 😀 Today’s post will share a little bit about my first time canning apple pie filling!!! Let me just say that we (the girls and I) had a blast, and I am soooo glad they were here to help me. I was a little overwhelmed, but after completing this, we looked back and realized how simple it really was!! So, I hope you enjoy this look at the lighter side of things, and if you EVER wanted to do things like this, DO NOT WAIT!!! Tomorrow is NOT promised!!

We had quite a few apples that were getting pretty ripe in our refrigerator, so I said, “Why not?” I very rarely totally plan ahead…meaning I may have a thought that I want to do something on a certain day, but it’s not until that day comes that I decide whether or not I will…and sometimes that depends on if I even remember that I wanted to do it!!! Why did I share that? To give you hope!!!! I have wanted to can things for YEARS, but was always soooooo overwhelmed and felt like I had to be this EXTREMELY organized person to do it!!! I have realized that I don’t necessarily have to be organized, but I do have to have the basic tools on hand in case the urge hits me 😀 Anyway….here’s the Apple Pie Filling Recipe & Instructions for canning!

GATHER YOUR CANNING SUPPLIES

Water bath canner (or LARGE stock pot with lid)

Canning jars

Canning seals and rings (lids)

Jar Lifter

Canning Funnel

(ALL OF THE ABOVE WERE PURCHASED AT WALMART FOR VERY REASONABLE PRICES)

Large pot or blancher

Bowls

Large Spoons

Sharp Knife

Towels and dishcloths (it gets messy/to dry jars)

Ladle

INGREDIENTS

Apples (enough for 6-8 quarts)

5C. Sugar

1C Thickener (cornstarch, flour or clear gel)

1tsp. Cinnamon

1tsp. nutmeg

2tsp. salt

10C. water

3T lemon juice

THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR HOW TO MAKE WILL BE FOUND IN THE CAPTION FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHS 😀

Before you begin, fill your stock pot and turn on high. The larger the post the onger it will take to boil the water. Start early! DO THIS FIRST :D
Before you begin, fill your stock pot and turn on high. The larger the post the onger it will take to boil the water. Start early! DO THIS FIRST 😀
I think everything neded is in this pic!!! If not it will be pictured later :D
Gather your supplies in advance! I think everything needed is in this pic!!! The stock pot and other pots are already on the stove. 😀

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I used an apple corer/slicer to cut and core the apple. Then I peeled each piece individually. Easier and quicker than it sounds.
I used an apple corer/slicer to cut and core the apple. Then I peeled each piece individually. Easier and quicker than it sounds. The remains can be used in compost for fertilizer 😀
AFTER CUTTING. CORING AND PEELING THE APPLES I SOAKED THEM IN A FRUIT/VEGGIE SOAK MADE OF 1/4C VINEGAR, 2TBLS SALT, AND A STAINLESS STEEL BOWL FILLED WITH WATER. AFTER REMOVING AND RINSING THE APPLES THE WATER WAS DISGUSTING!!!!!! THE VINEGAR AND WATER WORK TO CLEAN (vinegar) AND DRAW OUT ANY LITTLE BUGS, DIRT AND OTHER SMALL UNWANTED THINGS. Normally this is done with the skin on but the skin had been removed. This does NOT alter the taste of the fruit.
AFTER CUTTING. CORING AND PEELING THE APPLES I SOAKED THEM IN A FRUIT/VEGGIE SOAK MADE OF 1/4C VINEGAR, 2TBLS SALT, AND A STAINLESS STEEL BOWL FILLED WITH WATER. AFTER REMOVING AND RINSING THE APPLES THE WATER WAS DISGUSTING!!!!!! THE VINEGAR AND WATER WORK TO CLEAN (vinegar) AND DRAW OUT ANY LITTLE BUGS, DIRT AND OTHER SMALL UNWANTED THINGS. Normally this is done with the skin on but the skin had been removed. This does NOT alter the taste of the fruit.
While the apples are soaking in the rinse, put on a pot of water to bring to a boil.
While the apples are soaking in the rinse, put on a pot of water to bring to a boil.

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At this point you are going to combine 5C. Sugar, 1C Thickener (cornstarch, flour or clear gel), 1tsp. Cinnamon, 1tsp. nutmeg, 2tsp. salt, 10C. water. Stir as it thickens! Let simmer.
Rinse your apples and place them in the boiling water for about 1 minute. I suggest filling a jar with apples FIRST for the purpose of measuring. 1.5 quart jar of unboiled apples will equal 1 full quart of boiled apples. For best results, only put enough for 1 jar in at a time to prevent other apples from overcooking!
Rinse your apples and place them in the boiling water for about 1 minute.

AT THIS POINT LET ME POINT OUT THAT I HAVE JARS THAT ARE FILLED WITH BOILED WATER WAITING, AS WELL AS A BOWL OF BOILED WATER WITH THE SEALS AND RINGS SITTING IN THEM WAITING. EACH JAR WILL BE EMPTIED OF THE WATER INDIVIDUALLY AND PROMPTLY FILLED WITH APPLES AS THEY ARE READY.

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I suggest filling a jar with apples FIRST for the purpose of measuring. 1.5 quart jar of unboiled apples will equal 1 full quart of boiled apples. For best results, only put enough for 1 jar in at a time to prevent other apples from overcooking!
Using a slotted spoon, begin to remove the apples from the boiling water after 1 minute. Using your funnel (this is SUCH A BIG HELP!!!)  carefully place HOT apples into jar. Place more apples into water and quickly move to next step.
Using a slotted spoon, begin to remove the apples from the boiling water after 1 minute. Using your funnel (this is SUCH A BIG HELP!!!) carefully place HOT apples into jar. Place more apples into water and quickly move to next step.

THE RIMS OF EACH JAR ARE WIPED CLEAN BEFORE THE LIDS ARE REMOVED FROM THE HOT WATER, DRIED AND PUT IN PLACE 😀

Repeat process until all of your jars are filled.
Repeat process until all of your jars are filled.
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Place jars and canning rack in stock pot ALREADY filled with boiling water. Cover with the lids and let boil for 30 minutes.
Let sit in water for 5 minutes then remove CAREFULLY! Let cool on countertop for approximately 2 hours until jars are room temperature.
Let sit in water for 5 minutes then remove CAREFULLY! Let cool on countertop for approximately 2 hours until jars are room temperature.

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This is the syrup that was left over. Use for something else...applesauce, oatmeal, or pancakes maybe???
This is the syrup that was left over. Use for something else…applesauce, oatmeal, or pancakes maybe???

STORE IN A COOL PLACE! USE WHEN YOU WISH AS YOU WISH!! ENJOY 😀

This is how we chose to enjoy it!!! Twice so far :D
This is how we chose to enjoy it!!! Twice so far 😀

 

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Homemade crust and hoomemade crumb topping added 😀
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Baked on 375 for 45-50 minutes 😀

Jesus and Raising Red Onions From the Dead

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Ok, so I have one million and 50 billion things going on right now!!! 🙂 In addition to turning 40 in 3 weeks , my oldest turning 18 next week, as well as graduating and going to prom, operating a business from home, blogging, finishing several books and looking to be published before my 40th, homeschooling, and the list goes on and on, can you believe that I have the audacity to add ANYTHING to this list??? Well in the midst of all of this, I have managed to develop an absolute love for gardening!!! And when I say love, I mean LOVE, as in encouraging my husband to stay awake when he comes to bed so that he can watch the latest video I have found on making compost tea!!!!! LAUGH. OUT. LOUD.

So, among the tons of posts I am working on (Series of Video Blogs on the Health Benefits of Vemma, Series on Raising Godly Children While Living in Modern Day Sodom and Gomorrah, Faith and Freedom at 40!, etc), I decided to throw in a quick series on some gardening fun…and failure!!! These will be quick posts as in they will be shorter than my usual ones, and they will have more images (I take pics of almost everything!!!), but I hope you will find them beneficial.

My heart here, on this blog, is to develop a voice that communicates across cultural, ethnic, and socio-economic boundaries and goes straight to the heart! I want the readers here to walk away with a growing understanding and appreciation of the fact that God speaks to us through His Word, through and in our marriages, through failures and our successes, through nature….The Bible is a book that details for us the authentic historical accounts of Gods relationships with his children and their faith in Him. So what does that have to do with gardening??? Everything!!!!

John 15:1-8

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. 

~~~~~

Did you get that!?!?!?! Jesus is the TRUE VINE and God is THE GARDENER!!! In gardening, we see God!!! The first time we see God digging in dirt to grow or cultivate anything was in Genesis 2:7-9a

Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit.

We can look at our own lives and see the living proof that Jesus makes ALL things, and that he makes ALL things new.

Colossians 1:15-16 says it this way…

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.”

~~~~~

And in the words of famous playright, George Bernard Shaw,

The best place to seek God is in a garden.  You can dig for him there. 

 The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, 1932

So, my first gardening post reveals what happened when I purchased a BUNCH of Red Onions from Walmart that appeared to be dead. The picture below depicts the onions after a couple of days. Days 1-3 the entire bunch was red at the root, but the shoots were brown and dried out COMPLETELY!!!   And I thought to myself, “Why did I waste our money? I should have just bought seeds and planted them!” But Water Works Miracles!!!! Because I had been growing green onions in jars for a few months now, I thought to myself that maybe these could be revived if I simply placed them in water. And look at what began to happen!!!! Green shoots began to grow up out of the dry, dead shoots!!! So, here is what you do.

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 When you purchase green or red onions, put them in a jar of water (they will last longer, and continue to grow!!) These are sitting in jam jars 😀

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Every couple of days, dump the water and rinse the jar out. These were in such bad shape, that I placed them in a strainer in the sink and RINSED them for a few minutes before….wpid-20130508_204306.jpg

I began to peel the dead outer skin off . This felt slimy and gross, much like our sin does to the Lord as he cleans and restores our lives that were once dead but have now found life in Him…

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This is what they looked like when I went to bed last night! The brown has been cut away, for the most part, and the roots have been washed clean of slime and stinky stuff!

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The red ones will be planted just like the green ones I have growing already in a ceramic pot outside! Water well, and they will rise towards the Sun, in the same way that when our lives are immersed in the Living Water, we continue to rise towards the Son!

My next gardening post will be on the joys and simplicity of container gardening, and the joys and simplicity of living according to God’s boundaries! I will see you then!!!

Simple and Delicious Homemade Butter!

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A I delve deeper and deeper into the joys of serving at home, I continue to discover more and more things that “I have always wanted to do,” but just didn’t know it!!!! One of those things just happened to be making butter!!! Can you believe it??? As I prepare to turn 40 exactly one month from today, I am simply amazed at the transformation of heart The Lord has done in me, and for some reason, making butter for the first time today, as simple as it was, brought a few tears to my eyes…and a sense of satisfaction and contentment to my heart.

The first time that I can recall having a thought or a desire to make butter was 2 years ago when my youngest daughter was reading Little House on The Prairie. When she got to the end of the book, she discovered a recipe for homemade butter and in her excitement, she ran and shared it with me. And the desire was born! But like so many other things that “I have always wanted to do,” I never made the time to do it! Until now, that is. Today was the day! And I have to say, it was worth the wait!

The simple recipe that I actually followed:
1 pint of heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
Blend in food processor for 10 minutes or until butter separates from liquid
Spoon into dish or bowl with slotted spoon and refrigerate

The recipe below is the recipe that my daughter Leah found in her book. I wanted to share the exact one since she was soooo excited to share it with me and I was soooooo excited to make it!!! The pictures are from today and the simple recipe above, and I hope you enjoy them and decide to try this yourself, if you have not already!

The Little House on the Prairie Butter Recipe

You will need: 1 pint of heavy cream, slotted spoon, quart-size jar with tight lid, tea towel

1. Pour the cream into the jar. Screw on the lid.

2. Shake the jar until the cream thickens and starts to form a ball of butter. This may take a while, so keep shaking!

3. Scoop the butter out of the jar with the slotted spoon, and drain it on a tea towel.

4. Squeeze the butter inside the towel to get e remaining liquid out.

5. Form the butter ball into a pretty shape, put it on a plate, and chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready yo use it.

6. Enjoy!!

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Have you not heard (part 1)?: How to have godly ambition and not covet or have a materialistic mindset

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Another GREAT post from my son, Jordan! You definitely want to read this one and please, leave a comment. 🙂