Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake to Go

Here's a little treat I made for my fist period snack a couple days this week.
I layered pumpkin spice Alouette Cheese, pumpkin, pumpkin butter, and vanilla bean cheesecake Alouette Cheese on graham crackers--tastes just like a cheesecake, but healthy, too!
If you leave the "sandwich" in the fridge or give it time to sit, the graham crackers will soften, making it much easier to eat compared to if they were still crunchy!
Did you also catch part of my customizable coffee cup decoration for Thanksgiving in the background?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Yummy Yogurts

I love yogurt!  I eat it multiple times a day, especially during the school week.  Yogurt is a great snack, dessert, or addition to breakfast, lunch, or dinner!  It comes in almost any flavor you could ever imagine.  These are some new flavors that I have found lately and am enjoying so much:  pumpkin pie, orange cream, banana cream, key lime, pineapple, superfruits (Raspberries, acai and pomegranate), and caramel macchiato.  I keep the fridge downstairs fully stocked!

Holiday Giving Opportunites

Don't forget that this is National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child by Samaratain's Purse!  Even if you did not get to take a box to a church's "shoebox parade" this Sunday, you can still drop them off throughout the week to be delivered.  Remember, you can always give up a few coffees, a few minutes shorter shower a night, a little less tv electricity, or less driving around using gas (and many, many ways to save yourself money) to spend on a child who has never gotten a Christmas present, and may never experience this kind of joy otherwise.  We get so tickeled when we receive gifts that we expect year after year.  Imagine how these kids will feel receiving their first (or best) gift yet, along with the message of Christ's love for them.
"...remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said:  'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"  Acts 20:35
"...for God loves a cheerful giver."  2 Corinthians 9:7
"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."  2 Corinthians 9:8
This is another thing that I am super pumped about.  Last December, our youth group started a new way to encourage raising money for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.  We called it the "Latte Moon Coffee Station.  The youth volunteered to sell and serve coffee, hot chocolate, and apple cider along with all the condiments during the Sunday School time, with the money going to the offering.  We had a blast and raised so much money! This year we are also selling these tumblers pictured above.  I am definately getting one for me, too!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Homemade Meatloaf

Tuesday I came home after school instead of running, becuase I had been fighting some sickness, and my body needed a break!  Since I had extra time at home, I headed to the kitchen to work on a new recipe I had made.  I love meatloaf, so I made one all for myself stuffed with other foods I love, too.  When I say all to myself, I mean Mom and Dad are not allowed in the dish.  Mine.
Of course meatloaf has meat in it.  But here are the added ingreedients:
black pepper, paprika, all spice, chili powder
egg whites
This was from last night's dinner, where you can see it cut up.
This may sound strange, but it actually works out really well.  Dad made spaghetti Sunday night, but I had noodles leftover but no more sauce!  No one wants plain noodles, right?  To solve this problem, I took some Classico Fire Roasted Tomato and Garlic pasta sauce and warmed it up with the noodles and meatloaf to make more spaghetti!
There is a plethora of things you can do with leftovers.

Photoshop Creation

My second block class is Web Design, and we have been working in Photoshop this past week.  After I finished my bellringer, I created a little logo for the cross country team.  I don't know what I may use it for, but I will put it to good use on display somewhere!
We all know that without God, we wouldn't have been able to win.  He has given us so many opportunites so that we can be used to make His name known in this world that needs Him so much!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chuao Chocolate

I love going shopping at places I don't normally get to go to because I can always find new things!  (Especially when it's a store with food!)  Mom and I went to Target last Sunday, and they already have the Christmas decor and more on display and ready to go!  I'm ready to go, too, as Christmas is my absolute favorite season/holiday.
However, we cannot get so caught up in Christmas that we forget to stop and be thankful and spend extra time thanking and spending time with those we love and appreciate.
I spent a lot of money at Target and the other two stores we went to (Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candle) on Christmas gifts!  I found some things for myself, as well.  Below is one of those items.  Simply dark chocolate and honeycomb, this is a super-satisfying treat!

 Trying new things is almost always a good idea!

Heath Pieces Pancakes

Recees Pieces now have friends in York, Almond Joy, Hershey's, Heath, and so many more!  At target last weekend the Heath Pieces were really calling my name, so I grabbed a pack.  I had a feeling that they would make some super pancakes, and here they are!  Whole grain batter with cocoa powder, vanilla extract, vanilla protein powder, and Heath Pieces!  Topped with honey and syrup, they were so satisfying!

Jeremy Camp Concert

Part of my birthday gift from my parents was tickets to a Jeremy Camp concert last Saturday night at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Greeneville, Tennessee, just about 30 minutes down the road.  Little did I know at the time I received these tickets that it would be just what I needed to rekindle my spirit this night.  I had been feeling unfocused and unmotivated, like I had lost the joy that I had been so filled with all year.  I began to think about my heart not being right during Rob's message Wednesday night at church, but I still didn't feel right inside. 
Jeremy is such a great speaker along with his amazing live performance in singing.  Listening to the words of his songs like Reckless, Jesus Saves, Overcome, and many more just made me think of how beautiful life is, and how we all have reasons to celebrate in who God is, no matter what the circumstances are.
He also talked about distractions.  I have a lot of those.  That is what I believe had made me unhappy, becuase the things of this world don't make me happy.  My joy comes from finding satidfaction in my salvation.  We both feel that He is coming soon!  Jeremy mentioned living in the anticipation of His coming.  There is no reason to waste the time we've been given on things that don't amount to anything.  We should "raise a shout!  and let all the world know that Jesus Saves!"  We also share a favorite verse:  Acts 20:24  "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." 
I am motivated to do whatever God wants me to.  It is really hard to put myself behind, and I stuggle daily with prioritizing.  I want people to hold me accountable for my actions and words, becuase I am not here to please people or myself, but to bring glory to God.

This is my friend Brooke who came with me.  She loves Christian music and concerts, too.  I love having friends that I can praise the Lord with!
There was a "meet-and-greet" and autograph signing after the concert, too.  Stands were set up selling CDs, small posters, necklaces, a variety of Tshirts, and his book, I Still Believe.  He talked a little about what it is written about during the concert, and it really interested me.  My favortie books are true and inspriational words by people like this.  They hold my attention and challenge me to live a better life for Christ.  Jeremy's expericed a tragic time in his life (I won't give it away if you choose to read and don't already know), and he writes about how his faith was challenged and how He abides in God to overcome life's terrible circumstances and comes to rest in the joy, peace, and love of Christ.  Several of his songs are also written during this time.  I can't wait to get started reading!

I wanted to add this little off-topic bit from the evening, because it was a new place I got to try!  These frozen yogurt shops are popping up everywhere!  For me, this is very exciting. 
Before leaving home, I looked up restaurants near this part of Greeneville.  The place we ended up for dinner was also new for us, and quite tasty!  I am a big fan of Mexican food.  The restaurant is called Monterrey's.
In the same shopping center is a self-serve froyo shop called Sweet CeCe's.  Every froyo shop has its own unique things, in my opinion, and this one is fantastic, too!  I really like how their cheesecake bites were quite large and very "cheesecakey."  All the toppings are set up in a neat arrangement; they are in tall tubes with turn knobs that drop it out the bottom!  This cup is cake batter, graham cracker, and pumpkin, with a little Heath inside and of course, cheesecake!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Autumn Trail Mix

Sweet and salty is a terrific combination, especially with nuts and candy corn.  And what a better time to throw together a bowl of trail mix with this stuff than now!  Candy corn and nuts are just so addicting....
Here is most of what I remember that I threw in here:  candy corn, Cheerios, Recees Pieces, Cinnamon Crunch, pistacios, almonds, peanuts, seeds, raisins, popped, rice cakes, Wheat Thins, dried pineapple, granola
Making it homemade is better, in my opinion, than buying it premade, becuase you can proportion it to your specific tastes!

Pumpkin Spice Cream of Wheat

Ever heard of Cream of Wheat?  Many think that this is an old people, yucky food.  I disagree!  I love the creaminess and unlimited flavors you can create!  I make it often for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and even a side with dinner.
This one I made for a pre-church breakfast Sunday morning.  I use the whole wheat version that doesn't come with flavor already mixed in, so I can mix my own.  The liquid I use is Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, because it gives things like oatmeal and cream of wheat a slightly sweeter flavor while adding just the right amount of creaminess.  I added some canned pumpkin, vanilla extract, pie spice, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon, topping it off with some pumpkin seeds!
I try to find any creative way to use pumpkin that I can, especially during the fall and winter seasons!  It also has many health benefits!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

2013 TSSAA Cross Country State Champions

Ever since Coach Farmer has been taking teams to the state meet, he has given each member of the team a stuffed animal that he or she has to personalize and carry everywhere!  This is my second year getting to be a part of this, and this year I was given a fox I named Foster.  He is wearing a Build-a-Bear Halloween costume!  If we leave our animals anywhere, no matter where we are, we must do push ups.  20 for the first offense, and it doubles each time after that.  I got up to 80 pushups on the day of the meet!  I left him in my room when I went down to breakfast.  However, Farmer let me (along with 3 others who forgot) do our pushups on the bus after we ate lunch.
This had been our goal since last season.  Last year we had some sickness and other things happen and we placed third, but we were determined to get that title this year.  We all had a great feeling going into and were ready to give it our all.  We had one senior on this team who has put in so much effort over the years.  We wanted to give it all for her, too.  And of course, I had always been saying that I felt God had great plans for us this season.  This season has had the best opportunities to witness that I have experienced.  My parents tell me many times, too, how people see and respect our actions so much.  I feel unexplainably blessed to be a part of this team and everything we've been through.  They are my best friends and sisters in Christ.  There is also no way that we could've made it without our amazing coach and supporting parents either.  We even had girls and parents from past teams drive all the way to Nashville to watch us!

We had to get in a goofy picture, too!  Even Farmer made a face. 
These shirts we got made for the weekend were designed by Haylea.  It's like the Covergirl saying, but Easy, Speedy, Beautiful, Runner Girl with the Runner Girl symbol on it!
People joked that the trophy weighs as much as I do.
When the final scores came out and we had blown everyone away, we all celebrated!  Coach Farmer was with us and we went off to a quiet spot to talk and pray.  We are so blessed to have a coach that prays with us.  There were tears, but they were tears of joy!

Jumping for Joy!
After leaving Percy Warner Park, Coach Farmer gave us a little more time at the mall!  (We had gotten just a short time to look around the previous night after dinner at an interesting Italinan resaurant called Buca di BeppoBuild-a-Bear came out with the brand new Christmas items just the night before, so Chantal, Cherie, and I went to get some to celebrate!  Mine is kind of hidden, but I got a Merry Mint Pup with pj's and and little moose!

I rode home with my parents, so we stayed and shopped a while longer.  Then I wanted some post-race dessert!  Froyo is my favorite, but at the beach I discovered Cold Stone Creamery aka the best ice cream ever.  I don't know what they do that makes it so unique, but you MUST try it.  This day I got cheesecake, Oreo creme filling, cake batter, and marshmallow.  Talkin bout heaven in a cup...the texture is just unreal!
What an amazing way to start the long weekend

Monday, November 11, 2013

State Champions Run on Dunkin, Too

Last Monday was Hamblen County's Fall Break, so we had an extra day after this thrilling weekend!  Of course I wanted to get a run in, so Sunday afternoon, I called up Chantal and Cherie and asked if they wanted to meet at my house the next morning and do a run to Dunkin Donuts.  I'd started doing this last season with my dad, and the girls thought it was such a creative idea, so I have started asking them to join me every once and a while!  Katlyn comes some too, but this time she was at her mamaw's house.  We start at my house, since the girls live close enough to walk, and run to the highway, through downtown and past the churches, and past some houses and lovely scenery this time of year, and finish at the store across the railroad on Morris Blvd!  My mom is usually the one to pick us up from there.
I decided to try something new, and get a wheat bagel with cream cheese.  I also added jelly and honey I brought just in case.  Since I am signed up for their emails and rewards, I get lots of coupons, so today I used my free medium birthday drink to get my coffee!  From my iPhone app, I got mom a free cappuccino.  Chantal and Cherie got manager's special cream filled and donuts.  This was a fun and yummy way to start the day!

XC Halloween Party

I know it is a little late for this, but I have been insanely busy.  I still am, but I am trying to find some time to share.  Our cross country team had a Halloween party the Friday after the region meet.  Our parties always have themes, and this year it was super heroes.  The food theme was soup to match super!
This cutie is Jessica, and we are the Mighty Mites.  We also had to have a background story, so Jess made up a hilarious one! 
One day there were two mites on a farm.  Then a Farmer came and fed us Raymond noodles with a side of Burnt Toast.  That's how we got our powers.
**Our coach's name is Raymond Farmer, and one of the guys who graduated last year who assists him is named Berto, sometimes called Burnt Toast.  One summer run, Farmer paired Jessica and me up on a run and called us the Mighty Mites, and it stuck!
We may be the smallest on the team, but we are mighty!
We matched all the way from the ribbons and makeup to the socks!