Jul 31, 2013

Easy Peach Cobbler

     Summer and cobbler are two words that are synonymous for me. It's just a given that a warm summer night calls for sweet gooey fruit mixed with bread pudding that is doused in ice cream and smothered in milk. Church function, cobbler, game night, cobbler, just because, cobbler. It really is the answer for almost anything in our house. It is a little unfortunate that Gray isn't a berry lover, but he does love peaches so we're good.
     I've been stuck to my Easy Peach Cobbler recipe since high school. I found it in an old cookbook that my mom owns. Oddly enough, I believe it is a cookbook put out by a school who compiled a bunch of recipes from their students (aka. their students' parents). Since I don't know who's recipe this is, I'm gonna pretend its mine, so . . . sorry if I stole your grandma's recipe!
     A couple of weeks ago, I met up with my college roommate who happens to live only two hours away from me! Naturally, you would think we would take every opportunity to see each other, but as it stands we are both horrible at communication, therefore, getting together twice over the past six months is a pretty good record in our book. We met in Gaffney and lucky for us, they had just hosted the South Carolina Peaches Festival this meant that we both went home with a bag of peaches.
     I couldn't eat them fast enough so obviously I had to make cobbler . . .

Easy Peach Cobbler
1) Preheat the over to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
2) Melt completely 1 stick of butter and place in the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.
3) Spread 1 large can of peaches in whatever syrup you like (3 or 4 large peaches cut up that have been sugared and allowed to sit for a little bit) over the butter.
4) In a large bowl combine-
        1 cup flour
        1 cup sugar
        1 cup milk
        1 teaspoon vanilla
        2 teaspoons baking powder
5) Pour the batter over the peaches.
6) Bake for about 50 min (check at 40min). It will get brown on top and when you stick a knife in the middle it will be a little gooey.
7) Allow it to sit for about 10 min before you dish it out and enjoy!

     It is hard to mess up, but with that said, me and easy peaches have had our rough patches. If you try the recipe let me know if you like! Till Friday happy eatin!

P.S. For you Greenville folk who love cobbler, Jamie Estepp also has her own special recipe that she might be willing to share . . .

Jul 29, 2013

In the midst of crazy.

     I find it hard to believe that the weekend already came and went. Sometimes life seems to go so slow, inching along at a snails pace while at other times it seems to race by. In those moments, all you can do is break for a short second to breath before running to the next thing. That was this weekend. A bunch of craziness packed into two days. Finally at the end of it, I find myself sitting on the couch while Gray watches the Braves game and Riggs goes to town on a bone, trying to take deep breaths and remember the special moments. It's so easy for me to get frazzled while in the rush and therefore miss out on the beauty of living.
      Tonight all three Summit Campuses came together to sing and worship God. I have to be honest, my heart wasn't really in it. My mind was shouting out all of my insecurities about getting up to lead worship, and I was tired. In the midst of my complaining, God graciously grabbed hold of my heart and gave it a little shake, releasing me from my bad attitude and giving me a different outlook.
     We sang a song titled "Oceans." It's pretty popular, but if you haven't heard it, you should go take a listen HERE. The bridge (if that's what it is) sings:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters 
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

     This really struck me. It's an idea that I can say I truly long for, but haven't ever really asked for or sought after. So many times my trust in God is dependent on my own pre-conceived notions of when he "deserves" trust. Like when things are good and going the way I think they should, but what would it mean to trust him without limitations? I do pray that he would lead me where only he can. To places I dare not dream of because in my small frail human-ness, I don't know how I would ever handle them. But isn't that part of the sweetness of putting my trust in Christ? Knowing that no matter the outcome, no matter what life throws, I have a Savior who leads me deeper, who calls me outside of myself and pulls me towards Himself and the beauty of his presence. 
     So if you find yourself panting and tuckered out from this past weekend I hope that you can find a peaceful moment to catch your breath and reflect back on the beauty of living. And maybe like me you'll be able to find God in the midst of the crazy.

Jul 26, 2013

Is the grass really greener on the other side?

Hello faithful readers of my dear wife's blog! I am taking over for a post (Jaklyn asked me to I promise!) I thought I would update you all on something God has been teaching me lately. It's probably kind to myself to say that He's teaching me as I am struggling to truly learn and apply the truth He has been revealing to me in my life.

As many of you know, Jaklyn and I have been on an exciting journey since we got married nearly two years ago. Our life has been full of many changes. We have yet to live in one place for more than 8 months. Our Journey started from September-June in Cedarville where we finished school. Next we traveled with Heartsong for 2 1/2 months which took us up to mid-August when we went to Spain from mid-August-end of December! Next we packed up what little he had and made the trip down to South Carolina. We're now in South Carolina where I am working part-time at a church plant, Summit Church. God blessed us by providing a friend from church who got her interview for Investinet, the company that she is now working for. I tell you all that backstory to be able to better explain what God has been teaching me.

We've always had something in the near future to look forward to. Because of that, I have always struggled to live in the moment. Also, that put a lot of pressure on the stage of my life that was upcoming because I would think about it in moments where I was struggling or unhappy where God currently had me.  When I was in my senior year, I looked forward to Heartsong. When I was on Heartsong tour, I looked forward to Spain. When I was in Spain, I looked forward to South Carolina. Now that we're in South Carolina, we don't know what's next. I think that because there is an uncertain future ahead of us, God has used that to teach me how much I have been missing out on the passed couple of years because of the way my mind has been functioning. I have been living in a mindset that "the grass is always greener on the other side." I have been thinking about all the things I didn't like in my current situation and convincing myself that as soon as the next stage gets here, it will all be better. Something that has become overwhelmingly clear in my life is that when I'm looking to find things to whine about, it will never get better! I can always find things about my life that I wish were different or improved. I can even find a different situation in which the current things I don't like will be better. However, that new place will have its own set of challenges and things that aren't easy.

We're going through a series through Psalms, and a theme that has come up as Kyle and Jason have been teaching and as I have been reading through the Psalms on my own has been the ever-present help that God is in any circumstance that we find ourselves in. As David was running away from Saul and then later, Absalom, he continuously wrote Psalms of praise and of an inner peace that he had as he knew that God knew what was best for him. God always knows. He knows why we're in the current place we're in, and He knows what is going to come next. David also knew that even if his life were to be taken, it would be okay because his soul rested secure. The thing that really stuck out to me is that the things and circumstances David was going through were so much worse than my frustrations. Working a part-time job when I would love to be full-time, living far away from family and friends, and being in a new culture seem to be pretty insignificant in comparison to running away and hiding from the king and your son as they are trying to kill you for various reasons. I have been challenged and made aware of all the different opportunities that I am going to miss out on if I continue to dream about what's coming next in my life. Jaklyn and I have so many things to be thankful about where God currently has us. God has placed us in Greenville for the time being, and I need to be here and now. That is something that sounds simple; however, it has taken me nearly two years of marriage to figure it out. I'm not saying that it's wrong to look to the future or plan for what's next; however, I am learning how much of the present I am going to miss out on due to wanting to be somewhere else all the time.

I'll end my post with an encouragement to trust God where He currently has you! Hopefully you don't struggle with the same thing as I do in always looking to what's next; however, if you do, trust that God has you in your current place for a reason. Make the most of where you are! Ask yourself who God currently has around you, and share who He is to them every chance you get. I am learning to trust that God is big enough and Sovereign enough to place me where I need to be. It's about time I stopped looking to the other side and started giving my completely mind and energy to the side I'm on for now!


Jul 24, 2013

Beauty Products

     I do not foresee many posts like this in my future, I love beauty products, but I've never wanted to spend money on "the good stuff." Since I'm too lazy to look for the amazing knock-off's that are "just as good if not better than the real thing," I don't have much to say on the subject. If you were to ask any of my sisters or any of my friends you'd probably get a completely different answer, but thank goodness we weren't all made the same! Anyway, that was a super long introduction all to say this; I have a really shnazzy work friend who introduced me to BIRCHBOX. If you've ever heard of Birchbox then you know how fabulous it is, if you haven't, then you might really enjoy this post!
     Basically, for $10 a month, you can receive a real, literal package that will arrive at your doorstep (not your email box or Facebook message board) that will contain this:
If your curiosity isn't already piqued, then I'm here to tell you it only gets better. If you lift off the lid you will find a post card explaining the theme/word of the month on one side and a list on the other. It will be placed atop bright pink tissue paper that is patiently waiting for you to push it aside. 
     Once you do, you will find a plethora of sample beauty products ("the good stuff," if you were wondering). All you have to do is try them, or not, but the first option is way more fun. This month my box had lots of facial products, but my box last month had among other things, blush and lipstick. You never know what you're going to get which makes each month so exciting. The idea is for you to try the products and if you find yourself enamored with one or all of them you buy the full-sized product. You can even go online and mark products you're more interested in receiving. *Note: All the products in the box are listed on the back of the postcard.
     So far, I haven't been sooo "in love" with something that I have bought the full-sized version, but it has been exciting to add some new, fashionable and trendy samples to my collection! So if this sounds interesting to you, I think its definitely worth checking out HERE. Below is a list of the products and their descriptions (which are not mine) as well as my opinions of the products. 
1. Juicy Couture (perfume) - a youthful scent that layers passion fruit and mandarin over a base of rose and caramel. In my opinion, it wasn't very youthful, it smelled grandmotherly on my skin, so I only wore it once.
2. Frais (hand sanitizer) - a zesty smelling hand sanitizer that zaps 99.9% of germs while enriching skin with essential oils. For me, I like hand sanitizers that go on and dry really quickly, this one left my hands feeling sticky which could be due to the oils, all in all, I wasn't a fan.
3. Benta Berry (G-1 moisturizing face cream) - a french best-seller that both hydrates and purifies. This one I really liked, a little bit went a long way and it left my skin feeling really smooth!
4. Number 4 (super comb prep & protect) - a sulfate-free leave-in conditioner that safeguards color and protects against UV rays. I think this product would be great for people with dryer hair, it left mine feeling greasy.
5. Marcelle (BB cream golden glow) - a Birchbox exclusive, this Canadian multitasker is rich in hydrating aloe juice. I didn't realize it was exclusive, this product was my favorite, it gave my skin a little color but didn't have the feel of makeup, it blended everything together and felt really light. If I bought something, it would be this!

Happy Wednesday!

Jul 22, 2013

Road Trip!

     I hope that when I'm old there is a Melody in my life. To me, it is so amazingly sweet of Melody to pick Granny Cato up in Virginia and take her on a crazy cross country road trip to visit old and new friends, family and significant places in her life. The first stop on their road trip took them to our house in Greenville. Granny and Pop Cato both attended Bob Jones University which is right up the street from our apartment. So on Sunday they went to church with us and while Gray and I were finishing up some responsibilities they fixed us an amazing casserole for lunch. Then we all jumped in the car and headed up the street. Granny purchased a disposable camera to document her trip and so we stopped at both the dorms she stayed in as well as the dining hall and welcome center snapping photos and listening as she recanted so many funny and sweet stories of her time at Bob Jones. We all got a little choked up as she remembered all the good times she had with Pop and the first time they met. Even though I will never get a chance to meet Pop on this side of eternity, I feel like I know him a little bit now after all the stories! Later, after a quick nap, we headed downtown for some ice cream and a look around Falls Park. 
     *Don't mind the creeper in the background.
     Another reason for their visit was to drop off some china. Granny Cato did a little spring cleaning and found several items she didn't need and so she offered them to the grandkids! I just happened to get the china (a perk of having different tastes than my sisters-in-law). I cannot wait to use it, anybody want to come over?

     Well, Monday came and they continued on their journey. They stopped at Nashville next then headed to Kentucky followed by several places in Indiana before finishing in Iowa. So we wished them well as they headed out on their exciting journey and for me, life went back to normal. I went to work and came home to these crazy kids and loved every second of it! 

Jul 19, 2013

Atlanta, GA

     I was soooo excited on Friday of last week. I took a half day at work so that Gray and I could go early to Atlanta and spend some time at the beautiful botanical gardens before meeting Nate and Celeste for a fun filled Saturday get-together. As we drove up the road to the garden entrance we rounded a corner and came face to face with a gate, no biggie, we obviously missed the correct entrance . . . I then checked online for another entrance and it became apparent that Beyonce shut down the park for her concert. Of course this would happen to me. It seems that every time I have a brilliant idea (i.e. I'll leave work early, we'll go to the botanical gardens and relax and smell beautiful flowers) it somehow gets thwarted, maybe every time is a slight exaggeration. Anyway we went to the mall instead, just as good right? Nope.
     So the weekend didn't start exactly how I had hoped, but that's okay, it definitely ended a lot better! It was so good to see Gray's sister and brother-in-law and catch up on life. Saturday we woke up somewhat early (I say this because 8:00 on a Saturday is early for people who don't have kids) and took the Marta into Atlanta. We strolled around the CNN building and moseyed on down to Olympic Park where we bought the best peaches and then we ended up at the Coke Museum. After filling up on drinks we burped our way to the Braves game and had a good 'ole time watching them beat the Reds, sorry Nate. The whole day went entirely too fast! I can't wait to meet up with Nate and Celeste again soon, love those people!

Jul 17, 2013

Monday Night Crew

There is something about true community that feeds my soul. 
The ability to sit with friends and share life with them; the praises, the burdens, the struggles, the challenges, the joys, both the sweet and the horrible sadness and then the ability to feel instantly connected, instantly at peace, that does something to me. I leave wanting to remember every moment. I leave wanting to etch every beautiful word, affirmative look, and sustaining hand into the deepest recesses of my brain. Community is a gift I find so hard to explain. Its a gift that I stand in awe of. A gift that when experienced causes me to reach out and grab it, so that I might rest in its anchoring power because it is truly so life giving.
 So why is it that in my darkest moments I try to live without it? Why I choose to deny the cleanest most refreshing thing that every seeped into the driest places of my soul?
I'm sure if God didn't already know the answer, he'd be asking me the same thing. 

Jul 15, 2013

Senior Photo Shoot: Dominique

     Getting the chance to take senior photos for Dom was, for me, one of the highlights of our recent vacation to Ohio. Being able to give back just a little bit makes me feel less bad for all the horrible choir concerts, piano recitals, singing competitions, musicals (the list goes on), in sum all the events that she was dragged too on my behalf. I think the oldest and youngest always share a special bond because each position has its own set of unique, but similar challenges. The oldest forges the way and the youngest is left to forge their own way because doing what everyone else does who goes before you is never fun. So in an effort to balance the scales, here's the start of what I hope will be an extremely fun, memory filled Senior Year! Can't wait to cheer you on to graduation!

Jul 4, 2013


     Most people aren't choosing Ohio for their vacation destination. I would say they look to relocate somewhere hotter and beachier, or somewhere with more attractions. We got some pretty weird looks when we told people our vacation plans, but I have to say, going back home this time around was one of the sweetest vacations ever. I believe anytime relationships are grown, life is enriched. Spending time with Jim, with my family, and with best friends made for an amazingly refreshing week, regardless of the rain and un-beachiness :).
     On our last day there we took a trip down to the Little Miami River to canoe. Us Couser's got into canoeing several years ago on a family vacation that included an unexpected nine mile canoe trip that we all thought we'd hate. Little did we know canoeing would be come one of our favorite family activities. So in honor of fathers day went on a little adventure. I cannot wait to go again!
     Like always our vacation ended too quickly, but if we had stayed too much longer I probably never would have returned to Greenville and that's not an option, so its a good thing we got out while we could!!! :)

Jul 3, 2013

Peace & Calm

     The next couple of posts will be jumbled and out of order, exactly like my apartment most days . . . A couple of weeks ago Gray was up in Virginia doing an intensive week at Liberty for his grad program. There was no reason for me to go, so I stayed home with Riggs and Gray's mom. She graciously agreed to stay with me so that I wouldn't have to be alone and we had a grand old time! Most of the week consisted of me at work while she looked after the dogs and the other half consisted of Premier Jewelry Training (learning the ropes and getting my stuff together). But one night I was able to clear some space so that Melody and I could go to Caesars Head State Park. I've been wanting to go for forever, and I finally convinced someone to make the drive.
     Caesar's Head State Park is about an hour north west of Greenville and it boasts some amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the surrounding area. Here are a few photo's from the outlook.
It was a little foggy the day we went, which means I have a great excuse to take Gray and go back!
     As we headed down from the top of the mountain we found an unlikely surprise. At first glance we thought a couple people had stopped off at another cool trail, but once we walked across the bridge and through the line of trees we found a huge rock that was spray painted all over and an amazing view! The night couldn't have ended better! . . . and then we got ice cream.
Thanks for taking an adventure with me Melody!