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Oct 30, 2008

Thumbs Up 2 - Ya Gotta Have Friends!

It's Thursday's Thumbs Up 2 Friends! Women are relational creatures. Can I get an "Amen"? One of my very best friends relocated a few years ago and man (or should I say woman) do I miss her! One of the things we really enjoyed doing together was hosting parties. She is a decorator extraordinaire so usually we held the party in her home. Together we planned our theme, guest list and the menu.
Our menus often included gourmet dishes we had never prepared before! That might seem scary but it always turned out delicious. A delicious adventure! We have served standing rib roast, cream of tomatoe bisque, asparagus au gratin, and decadent desserts. Did I mention she is a wonderful decorator? See some of her work and ideas here. This summer she and her Prince Charming and the princes returned to sunny Florida for vacation. While they were in town I invited our past party guests to my home so we could all visit and catch up together. We had a Fiesta theme and everyone brought a Tex-Mex dish. As the noche (night) drew to a close, we said Adios amigos!
Friends...ya gotta have 'em...ya gotta love 'em...ya gotta feed 'em!
My friend, Alisa, and me.

I'd love to hear what kinds of adventures you share with your girl-friends. Do tell!

Oct 29, 2008

What's for Dinner?

Weeknight meals are often a challenge in my kitchen. Yes, occassionally I will put something in the crockpot, but I'll be the first to admit that I am not the best planner-aheader. So when I need to put something tasty together in a timely manner, I turn to Tex-Mex. Our favorites are Mexican chicken soup, enchiladas, and southwest style casseroles.
Pictured here is a "What's for Dinner?" dish we had last night: Chicken Enchilada CasseroleWhen I gathered up the ingredients for this last night I saw that I didn't have enough cheese, so I made my basic cheese sauce adding Rotel tomatoes and taco sauce to it. If you have never made a cheese sauce you may not realize that you don't need a lot of cheese to make a cheesily delicious, smooth sauce. In fact, it made my original Chicken Enchilada Casserole even better, I must say. And it really didn't add much more time.
Here it is before I put it in the oven. I layered torn flour tortillas topped with broken up tortilla chips. Then a layer of boiled, shredded chicken breast combined with cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups + a cup of chicken broth. The next layer was the cheese sauce. I repeated the layers: tortilla/chips/chicken mixture/cheese sauce. Then topped it with a small amount (all I had) of grated jack cheese. Into the oven @350 until it's heated through and bubbly.
Y aqui esta en mi plato! (And here it is on my plate!) Served with salad dressed with Hidden Valley Southwest Ranch dressing and baked scoops (offsets all that cheese!). It's What's for Dinner at my house. What about you? Do you have a favorite go to meal when you're short on time? I'd love to know!

Oct 28, 2008

Guitar Girl's Birthday!

Yesterday was Guitar Girl's Birthday!

Our beautiful daughter started life as a pretty sweet little baby.

And now she is a beautiful and kind young woman. Happy 19th Birthday Guitar Girl! Dad, the boys and I adore you.

Oct 27, 2008

Monday Magnificat - La Paloma (the dove)

"When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'" (Matthew 3:16,17).

God the Father sent Jesus and introduced Him into the world - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." And Jesus always points us to the Father. Once one of the disciples asked, "Lord, show us the Father" and Jesus replied, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father..." He went on to say, "The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works."

Before the ascension of Jesus, He introduced the Holy Spirit. He spoke to His disciples concerning the role of the Holy Spirit, "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me."

The Trinity works together to redeem fallen man. God wooed His people in the Old Testament. That was a period of time when God spoke directly to men, or through angels bearing messages and through the mouths of prophets. This was the administration of law and sacrifice-the Old Covenant.

Then in the fullness of time, the Word-Jesus-was made flesh and dwelled among [them]. His birth initiated the dispensation of the Son-the New Covenant of grace.

Now, because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, the Promise of the Father, we are living in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is bringing into experience that which Jesus made possible.

My Monday Magnificat? I thank God for the Holy Spirit who is a comforter, teacher, revealer, intercessor, and the One who indwells the believer to produce fruit in her life. He is all that and much more. I am also thankful for my church who makes room for the presence and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. For all of this I utter my praise.

MAGNIFICAT - an utterance of praise from the Latin magnificare - to magnify

Oct 25, 2008

Florida Fall, Ya'll!

It's a Florida Fall, ya'll! That means the temperature really dipped here on the coast of the sunshine state. We had lows this afternoon in the high 70's!

I adjusted the AC and put on a sweater. Just kidding about the sweater part.
Instead of digging out the winter clothes, shirts with sleeves, I made a fresh apple cake. I stirred up the ingredients. Good things like apples, cinnamon, toasted pecans, and, of course, the staples in baking-oil, flour, sugar, eggs. Here it is in the 9 x 13.

And out of the oven in all of its cinnamon-y, apple-y, pecan-y goodness!
You can top this cake with a caramel glaze or eat it as is.

We inhaled it, I mean ate it, as is.

24 hours later-nothing but the crumbs! Seriously,
24 hours later...I don't joke about cake.

'Cause, really, nothing says Fall in Florida like an apple cake. Now excuse me while I trade my capris for some long pants-I feel a chill in the air.

Oct 24, 2008

Friday Favorites - My Family







Oct 23, 2008

Thumbs Up 2

One Fine Man and Bella~Mella give a thumbs up to the Magnolia Pancake Haus in San Antonio, TX. While on vacation this summer, we found this delectably, delicious eatery! We had blueberry pancakes, bacon pancakes, Oatmeal Cookie pancakes, Banana Bread French Toast, BelgianWaffles, eggs, grits and bacon! We had all of this because our family of 5 ate breakfast here 2 mornings in a row. It is that good. In order to partake of and truly enjoy the deliciousness, I had to forgo all thoughts of calories, low carb, low fat and points. In fact, I coined a new phrase in honor of the Magnolia Pancake Haus. Ready? See it below the 2 satisfied partakers of pancakes (his-blueberry; mine-bacon oh baby):


Oct 21, 2008

My Guitar Girl

Let me introduce you to my guitar playing, song writing, song singing, lap swimming, laughter inducing college girl! She's the one up top with the coffee. I'm the one over here without the coffee. October is her birthday month; she's turning 19. My birthday is in June and I turned...(you didn't really think I'd tell, did you?)

She has the soul of an artist, painting poetry with phrases and chords. She has a heart to honor her Creator with the brushstrokes of lyric and sound. Someday you'll hear her songs. Someday you'll hear her heart. But for now, you can catch a glimpse of her here.

Oct 20, 2008


Ever have to tell yourself to "shake it off"? When you feel you've fallen short, disappointed, or not given your best, it is tempting to dwell on your shortcomings--especially when you know you could have done better. I used to be my own worst critic when I found myself coming up short. But through prayer, insight and learning to be my own best friend rather than my own worst enemy, I can now "gimme a break" and, to use another cliche, "shake it off."

So rather than getting bogged down and distracted from the next opportunity to get it right, I say with Paul, "Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward--to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back" (Philippians 3:12-14 The Message).

My Monday Magnificat? I praise God that I can shake it off, keep on running and not turn back!

MAGNIFICAT - an utterance of praise from the Latin magnificare - to magnify

Oct 17, 2008

Friday Favorites ~ an ode to Tervis

Welcome to Bella~Mella's Friday Favorites.

One of my latest favorites is the Tervis Tumbler. These tumblers have been around for 60 years but I just found out about them this year!
I got mine at BED, BATH & BEYOND, but Tervis has a website, too. They are insulated tumblers that really do keep your cold drinks colder and your hot drinks hotter.
They have a life-time warranty and sport the cutest designs~from bass fish to flip-flops. You can even buy lids for them with an opening for a straw!
Since I am notorious about spilling tea down the front of my tops, this is akin to a sippy cup for someone who may or may not be a gulper of beverages as opposed to, say, a sipper. What I like most is if you need to carry a cold drink with you at all times and leave it in your car's drink holder while you run your errands, then the Tervis Tumbler is for you. And, if you are a friend or family member of mine, don't be surprised if your Christmas gift bag includes a set of Tervis Tumblers. I'm just saying...don't be surprised!

Oct 15, 2008

Why "Bella-Mella"?

I am intrigued by all things wordy! In other words, languages and the etymology of words fascinate me. When my husband and I went to Italy last summer I took a crash course in Italian. Since I have studied Spanish and French in college and absolutely adored my high school Latin course, learning a little Italian was a fun challenge. Back to the title of my post: Why "Bella-Mella"? Obviously, or maybe not, Mella is a play off of my first name-Melanie, and Bella is Italian by way of Latin for "fine, beautiful or pretty." Now lest you think I hold a high opinion of my appearance..."bella" is also found in Hebrew and means devoted to God. So, while my husband tells me I am beautiful, "Bella-Mella" to me signifies the kind of life I hope to live-A Beautiful Life Devoted to God.
(picture from our trip to Venice on our 20th wedding anniversary)

Oct 14, 2008

The OSP Diet

What is the OSP Diet you ask? OSP is my acronym for Operation Ski Pants. For the past few years our family has taken a ski trip during Christmas break. Last year (12/07) my ski pants were so tight, I promise you I could hear them complaining! As I schussed my way down the slopes, I vowed, Scarlet O'Hara-like, "As God is my witness, I will lose these extra pounds." As soon as we returned home in January I began the OSP Diet. I was determined that the next time I wore the ski pants, they would fit better and I wouldn't overhear those ugly words I'm sure I caught them muttering. To date-16 pounds lost on the OSP Diet! That'll make the pants happy...(picture of me at Keystone Ski Resort, CO)

What I Love About Jesus


What I love about Jesus...He puts me in my place. When I read in the Gospels what Jesus did and what He said, my heart grows wings.

Jesus liberated women. He set them free to be real. When Jesus walked the earth, women had little status. There were cultural restrictions on male and female interactions. Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. He spoke truths that set her free and gave her wings. She was given a voice to speak those truths to the inhabitants of her city. She was privileged to invite others to, "Come, see a man!" All because "the man-Jesus" saw her. He put her in her place. He gave her a voice. He gave her wings! I love that about Jesus. (To read the biblical account referenced here, see John 4.)