Lessons in Mousse

Lessons in Mousse

The chocolate melts slowly over simmering water, while I crack eggs. I carefully let the whites slip through my fingers and cradle the rounded yellow-orange suns in my palm. I slide them into the stainless steel mixing bowl and whip to pale yellow.

Through careful technique, I spin just five ingredients — sugar, eggs, chocolate, water, and cream —into a concoction that becomes so much more than the sum of its parts.

My infamous from-scratch chocolate mousse has become a Valentine’s Day tradition. The first Valentine’s Day I made it, my husband proposed {after dessert, of course}.

True mousse is labor-intensive, and its success rests wholly on skilled execution.

While the mixer still churns, I boil a simple mixture of water and sugar. Then, I pour in the thinnest possible ribbon of syrup, slow and steady. Dump it in, and the egg scrambles. Don’t add it, and you’ve got raw eggs. Chefs call this process tempering.

Join me at Next Level Mama for the rest of the story?


A Birthday Party for Jesus

A Birthday Party for Jesus

Today, I welcome my friend, Kristin Hill Taylor of 152 Insights To My Soul. She’s sharing one of the special ways her family makes Christmas meaningful each year.

Each December, we sing “Happy Birthday” with a chorus of friends. We eat cake, make crafts, and hang out with other families.

But the honoree is no regular man. He’s the savior of the world.

Our birthday party for Jesus has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

Kids understand birthday parties. They look forward to their own, and they like receiving invitations to other parties. I want my kids to grow up understanding that Christmas is a season full of sparkly lights, wrapped boxes, and goodwill toward men — only because of Jesus.

So, we throw a birthday party for Jesus to remind the kids who is worth celebrating – this day and every other day of the year. We collect for charity, make crafts to share with neighbors who need something to brighten their days, and hear the Christmas story after singing carols. We savor fellowship with other families who want to dwell on this holiday truth.

christmas kristin collageThe fact Jesus was born is a reminder that God is with us. He walked this earth. He experienced physical life in the same ways we do. He felt pain; he experienced hunger, thirst, exhaustion. And he gave that life up for us. So why not celebrate him — that tiny babe that changed our world with his birth?

Our tradition began with three families. And then it expanded to include more of our circle of friends. While every year is a little different, our celebration always points to Jesus. This year we’ll have our fourth annual Jesus Birthday Party the first Saturday in December.

You can plan a Jesus Birthday Party too. Here’s a checklist to get you started:

  • Pick a date in December. I want the kids to associate this birthday party with Christmas, so I find a date between Thanksgiving and Christmas and schedule the tradition. Consider what time would be best for your circle of friends. We like lunch-time parties around here, but each year has been different based on what else is going on.
  • Let your friends know as early as possible. December calendars get busy fast.
  • Choose charitable projects. We collect canned goods for our local food pantry and money to buy gifts from Compassion International’s holiday catalog. You could have a toy drive or make cards to give out at nursing homes.
  • Plan activities. Consider crafts, songs, books, and games that can incorporate the meaning of Christmas. We’ve made cards, created manger scenes out of candy, drawn pictures, made advent paper chains, and had a children’s concert.
  • Serve food. The time of the day will determine how much and what kind food you’ll offer, but you’ll want to make it fun and festive, just like a regular family birthday party.  You’ll also want to make sure you have a birthday cake for Jesus. Just don’t try to do it all yourself – ask your friends and family to help by bringing a dish.
  • Include party hats, goody bags, and other things that kids relate to birthday parties. Oriental Trading has a nice selection of “Happy birthday, Jesus” and nativity party favors and activities. Jesus was born, and that’s a life worth celebrating. Make it tangible for the kids.

Of course, there are many great ways to celebrate Jesus’ birth. This birthday party is one of several things my family does each year to focus on giving and God’s glory. Some traditions make it on our calendar every December. Other opportunities come when we’re least expecting them.

But wherever we are, we can always let our lives sing “Happy Birthday” to the one who came to save us. <<<Tweet This!

kristinhilltaylorKristin Hill Taylor lives in Murray, Ky., with her husband, Greg, and two kids – 6-year-old Cate and 4-year-old Ben. She can often be found trying to beat her husband in Words with Friends, playing games of Settlers of Catan with her best friends, listening to her daughter’s stories, reminding her son to be careful, or texting her friends. She believes in taking road trips, living in community, and documenting real life. You can keep up with her at www.kristinhilltaylor.com or follow on her Twitter.


{(in)Courage Guest Post:} Nourish-Worship & The Perfect Apple Pie

{(in)Courage Guest Post:} Nourish-Worship & The Perfect Apple Pie

The blood of Christ shed for you, Beth.

I like it when the communion assistant knows my name. I lift my slim rim to meet the silver V of the chalice.

I say Amen and tilt the sliver of plastic, that liquid ruby sliding down, over wafer crumbs still in my mouth.

This soul feast—it’s what’s to sustain me in the week to come. But I’m never quite sure if I do it right.

Is this the day? The day I feel communion take hold in my body? The time the wafer and wine feed me weeklong, nourish me, make me more Christ-like?

I try the quick ACTS formula before communion, thinking it might ready my soul better, though worship during worship always seems better suited to the childless.

Adoration: God, I praise you, for you are mighty. Your wonders never cease.
Dispense raisin handfuls.

Confession: Dear Lord, there are so many ways I’ve failed you this week. I’ve been impatient, selfish, snapped at my kids, didn’t love my husband as I should. I’m sorry. Please forgive
Retrieve matchbox car under the pew to quell rising squeal from 3 1/2 -year-old.

Thanksgiving: God, your blessings are many. You give us so much ...
Admonish 8-year-old for all-too-audible “is church almost over?”

Supplication: …
The usher finally clears his throat; I’m not sure how long he’s been waiting for us to retrieve our cups.

Join me for the rest of the story {and the recipe for the Perfect Apple Pie} over at (in)Courage today?

{DIY Post:} Candy Corn Earrings

{DIY Post:} Candy Corn Earrings

I know I’ve mentioned before that I have a little craft hobby {ahem, addiction}. Making jewelry out of oven-bake polymer clay is fun and easy — and a great project to involve your kids with. You can make fun food-shaped charms or beads that you can transform into simple, good-enough-to-eat jewelry.

Today I’m guest posting a tutorial on how to make these super-cute candy corn earrings over at Next Level Mama.

In fact, my 8-year-old made these candy corns into beads {simply use a straight pin to make a hole through the center before you bake} and strung them with solid orange and black beads for her school’s “economics mini-mall” project where the kids make, sell, and buy “products.”

Want to join me for some DIY fun today? Head on over…

Also, be sure to Pin these for next year, or buy your own copy of The Polymer Clay Cookbook, to make adorable, holiday-themed, food jewelry for Thanksgiving {think pumpkin-pie charms} or Christmas {mini gingerbread cookie charms}.


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