Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our Unemployment Story: God's Good Gifts

If you follow my posts, you might have realized our family has been in the trial of unemployment.  My husband worked for a national fast food company as a director of finance.  After 12 years with the company, he was told he was being let go last May and his last day of work was the Friday before Labor Day.  The company did bless us with severance, which we know was a gift from God.

So, we have been looking for a job for 7 months, since the May announcement, but jobs were very slow in even appearing on the job lists.  He had many interviews, but the processes were extremely slow and nothing seemed to be fruitful.  Companies would decide not to hire anyone due to the economy, they would change the title and pay to where it was not feasible for Ryan, or they would want some crazy skill that Ryan didn't have--international experience/banking experience/healthcare experience/techonology experience.

We knew that God had a plan.  He had allowed many different "random" circumstances lead to Ryan's unemployment, so we knew he would do the same to provide employment for our family.  It was hard not knowing if God wanted us to move to a smaller home, to look into a different type of career, to have me work part time, or to look at jobs in places that would require us to relocate, but we prayed we would be able to do whatever He willed with joy and contentment.  God slowly peeled away layers of entitlement and anxiety to refine us and grow us in our spiritual maturity.

We had hoped and prayed that Ryan would have a job by the time we got to November.  We were told by several people that job availabilities and interviews came to a standstill over the holidays.  November 1st came and went, and we hunkered down for a frugal Christmas season, with our eyes hopeful on January and early spring.

God picked the most unlikely circumstances and timing to bring us a job.  November 17th, two days before Ryan's birthday, Ryan got an e-mail from an old co-worker who had been talking to executives over at El Pollo Loco (a grilled chicken fast food restaurant in western states), and they were looking for a new finance director to work in their marketing department.  This co-worker told them he knew the man for the job, and he forwarded Ryan's resume from his LinkedIn page.  All of this happened without Ryan knowing!  Ryan got a call at the end of the same workday asking him to be at El Pollo Loco at 8:45 the next morning to interview with two executives. 

In past job interviews, Ryan had been given about 2 week time intervals between contact and interview dates, and, after that, many layers of interviews that went on for months.  This contact to interview was all within 24 hours!

Ryan's interview lasted 4 hours, and he ended up meeting not only the 2 executives, but the whole executive team and the president.  He was asked to return on Monday to go to a training for a new technology they were using and to interview with HR.  He had a job offer on Wednesday afternoon, and we spent Thanksgiving day truly feeling the provision of God with keen awareness!  He signed the paperwork the day after Thanksgiving and started his job today!

We smile at how God broke all the rules in order to prove to us that this job was from Him and nothing of our own doing.  Ryan didn't apply for the job, but it came to him without his knowledge.  He got the job in a traditionally slow hiring season.  He was able to move from hearing about the job to getting a job offer in less than a week--much different than ANY job interview process he had faced before. 

We are praising God for His goodness to us and for providing us with a job.  We are thankful that He grew us in this trial, and we have another example of God's faithfulness to strengthen our faith.  We are more than excited to share this story with everyone, as we know many people are facing financial struggles and other trials right now.  We pray you are encouraged in your prayers and waiting on Him.  To God be the glory and the honor.  We are thankful for His goodness to us!

James 1:17   Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Monday, November 28, 2011

First Calico and Cupcakes Boutique Wrap Up

I had my first boutique sale at my home yesterday.  It was amazing!  I loved chatting with friends and family and just seeing the beautiful items the other vendors brought.  It was a blazing 80 degrees here in Orange County, so the holiday mood was all INSIDE my house. 

I made a variety of Christmas decorations, which are my favorite crafts to make all year long.  Most of my items were sold, and have a long list of orders to craft this week.  Yay!  Here is a picture walk through the day!

I forgot to take pictures until half way through the day, so the cutest items are gone.  Here is the full, beautiful ribbon wreath in cream and gold on Calico and Cupcakes' table

Yarn Christmas Trees made from fluffy white yarn

Joy letters were the hit of the day.  I must admit, they make me happy too!

Nativity signs and canvases were a great addition.

I added white trim to this sign on a whim, and everyone loved it.  They said it reminded them of snow or Santa's suit trim.

Burlap wrapped vertical joy banners

My favorite banner--Emmanuel--was sold early, and I didn't get a picture of it.  I am making 2 more special order, so I hope to get a picture of one of those.

I love the little scalloped details on the edges of the dark red.

Here is a picture of the Calico and Cupcakes area, but, again, it was half way through the day, and a lot of the best items were gone.  It was fun, though!

My friend, Beth, sews darling creations and has a shop called Sew Blue Boutique.  Here are some of her beautiful items.

Her cute display of hand sewn items

Beth also handcrafts cute signs for the home.  I bought one for our entryway.

She has two little girls and makes the sweetest clothes for girls.

Full and soft  flower pins

Scarves and sunglass cases

My friend, Meredith, has a shop called Simple Purity.  She makes handmade, organic skincare products and she also sews beautiful pillows.  Here are some pictures of her lovely items.  I bought some of the lotions and a lip balm.

I didn't do her soft, beautiful pillows justice in these photos.  The wool felt creations were my favorite, but they were all gorgeous.

Her skincare products are so affordable!  Plus, they smell great and work wonders on dry skin spots.

My friends, Lisa and Erica, sold Premier Jewelry.  I have never been a huge fan of the normal jewelry party fare, but they have won me over BIG time with Premier!  I hosted a party for Lisa in the fall, and every party I attend, I have new items I LOVE.  Here is their beautiful set-up:

Finally, my friend, Lillian, is an AMAZING baker.  She has a business baking goodies for parties, so she made hot toffee cake, apple tarts, red velvet cupcakes and chocolate cookies for free for the party.  What a treat!  I didn't get any good pictures of the food!  There were always a lot of people gathered there partaking of the goodies!

That toffee cake on the yellow mat was AMAZING!  Everyone had a hard time choosing their favorite of the treats.

It was fun!  We have already talked about doing it again in the spring . . . stay tuned!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Double Chocolate, Sour Cream Cake

My mom made this cake for me for my birthday back in September and I was hooked!  She found the recipe from a reader in The Orange County Register.  I am not much of a chocolate cake person unless it is GOOD chocolate cake.  This is GOOD cake--really good!

I made cake pops using this cake for my autumn bridal shower, and I recently made this cake for my husband's birthday this week.  It is a hit every time.  This is a perfect winter holiday recipe--rich, gooey, thick and decadent. 

Double Chocolate, Sour Cream Cake
1 package of chocolate cake mix
1 small package of instant chocolate pudding mix
3/4 cup of oil
3/4 cup of milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 package (12 ounces) chocolate chips
1 cup of chopped nuts, optional (I don't use these in my cake)

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and beat until mixed.  Pour into a greased bundt pan or into pans you are using.  Bake at 350 for 48-50 minutes for a bundt cake, bake about 35 minutes for 2 round cake pans, and bake about 40 minutes for a 9 by 13 pan.  Check regularly and be careful to not overcook-these times are estimates.

Let the cake cool in the pan, and then invert it onto a cake plate.  Use your favorite frosting (I have used my cream cheese frosting and chocolate frosting, and it is good with any flavor!).  Enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Harvest Salad

Well, before I get into the recipe for this yummy salad, I have to be honest with you all.  Friday Favorites posts might be taking a break for a little while.  I have found that Pinterest has replaced a need for me to highlight fun crafts, recipes, and parties.  Most of my blog readers are now on Pinterest, and I have noticed a dropped interest in the Friday highlights since people started joining Pinterest, which essentially highlights great projects 24 hours a day/7 days a week.  Since I am extremely busy with two boys, a husband looking for work, a ministry I co-lead at church and a beginning stages shop, the time I spend gathering, linking and writing up the favorites does not seem worth the amount of interest it currently holds.  I'd love your thoughts, though.  If the only thing you like about Calico and Cupcakes is the Friday Favorites, let me know.  I want to do my best to make this blog an interesting, fun, and creative place to visit!

Okay, this recipe is courtesy of my lovely sister's mother in law.  Our families are close and spend many holiday's together, and when I first tasted this salad, I KNEW I had to get the recipe.  She calls it a "Cornucopia Salad," and it is truly full of tasty goodies. 

Bring the salad to Thanksgiving, serve it at a baby or bridal shower, or just make a wonderful meal for your family.  It is a perfect autumn salad!

Harvest Salad
1/2 cup of candied nuts or a bag of honey coated almond slivers in the salad section
1/2 head of Romaine, torn
1/2 head of butter lettuce, torn
1 cup of chopped celery
4 chopped green onions
11 ounce can of mandarin orange slices
1 avocado cut into chunks
1 apple diced (Granny Smith are a great variety)
1/4 cup of craisins or other berry
1/2 cup of feta or blue cheese, crumbled
3 chicken breasts grilled and chopped or a double package of Tyson cooked chicken strips, cooked

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup of veg. oil
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons of sugar
2 Tablespoons of white wine vinegar
Mix and pour over salad when ready to serve.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Women in the Word Wednesday: Saying "Forgive Me" in Marriage

          Sorry on Australia Day-sky writing

James 5:16 "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed."

We live in a society where there are a lot of rationalizations and excuses for bad behavior.  Sometimes we even laugh at our sin and try to make it humorous.  "I am in a bad mood!  Watch out--I don't know what I'll say!"  "I am just one of those people who tells you exactly what I'm thinking.  That's just who I am." 

Unfortunately, this kind of excusing of sin creeps into our marriage relationship too.  We lash out because of OUR bad day.  We realize later it was wrong, but we chalk it up to a bad mood and move on without bringing up our behavior.  We assume something incorrectly about our spouse, and then when we are proven wrong about our assumptions, we just think "Oh" and move on.  We forget to do something our spouse has asked us to do and, when we are asked about it, we get defensive and accusatory rather than just apologizing and admitting our error.  We correct and disrespect our spouse in front of our kids or other adults, and we think our spouse is just being "too sensitive" if they get upset.

Compare this common behavior with the godly repentance and responsibility David shows for his sin when the prophet Nathan confronts him with his sin concerning Bathsheba and Uriah.  II Samuel 12:13 says, "David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the LORD.'"

It seems that apologies are rare in marriages today.  Heartfelt, sincere admonitions of fault, blame and grief at our behavior are difficult, but, if we are Christian women, we should recognize sin and reconcile with those we have hurt. 

We might need to just say an "I'm sorry" for an accidental wrong or a careless misdeed, such as truly forgetting to finish that task our spouse requested.  More often, though, we need to say "forgive me for  __fill in the blank___" for those wrongs that we did deliberately, such as replying with harsh words, accusing our spouse incorrectly, or the myriad of other wrongs we might have committed against our spouse.

As Christian women, we recognize we are sinful before a holy God, and only in Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit do we have righteousness, forgiveness and good deeds.  We repent of sin and turn from our bad behavior when we fall short of what God desires.  It shouldn't be farfetched for us to see we need to humbly ask for forgiveness and take responsibility for our choices in our personal relationships, including the one with our spouse.  It is sinful pride that keeps us from reconciling with our husbands when we are wrong.  There should be no excuses--just sorrow for our behavior because we have offended our spouse, and, most importantly, God.

Do you reconcile with your spouse after a fight or those "tense" moments?  Do you say "Forgive me.  I was wrong?"  Do your kids watch you admit your shortcomings and humbly confess them to others?  Are you more concerned with your spouse's apology and then, and only then, willing to say you are "sorry?"  We should be concerned with our own part of the problem and humble ourselves first, regardless of whether our spouse is still in sin and refusing to repent.

This goes against the grain of the world.  People might see this as weak, hypercritical of self, and strange.  However, we know that the things of God will not fit in with the philosphies and actions of the world.

I Corinthians 3:18-19  "Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God."

Let's be women quick to take responsibility for our actions and faster to recognize sin in our attitudes and behavior, especially in our marriages.  Is there something in your marriage that needs to be discussed and followed with a "forgive me?"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches

          Pinned Image
Thank you, once again, to Pinterest, and my friend Lisa who pinned this recipe first, we are having a delicious dinner.  My family is thankful for that website too.  They are eating better than ever.  Last night we had a spaghetti casserole with cream cheese and french onions that was scrumptious. 

I am REALLY excited about tonight's meal, though, because it is one of my husband's favorites--French Dip sandwiches.  It is his birthday week, so I am trying to fix his favorites.  The best thing about this recipe is that it is all done in a crock pot. 

I'm linking the recipe, but know that I didn't find beef consume.  I just used beef broth, and I think it will be great.

Here is the recipe from Becky Higgins.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Autumn Themed Bridal Shower

My beautiful sister in law, Katie, above, is getting married in December.  A couple of months ago, I ran some fun, bridal shower theme ideas by her, and she loved the idea of a cream, gold, white and tan autumn shower.  It was so fun putting all the pieces in place, and I got to plan and prep with my other beautiful sister in law, Sarah.

It was raining, which was predicted, so we decorated and held the event inside.  Katie had a fantastic day, and it was so fun to see her smiling and glowing with happiness as we celebrated her upcoming wedding!

For the menu, we had a "He popped the question popcorn bar" for appetizers as guests arrived.  I made cones to hold the popcorn, which I bought from the Ma and Pa Kettlecorn store. 

After guests had mingled, we served lunch, which was a harvest salad, cornbread muffins and fruit kabobs.  I'll post the recipe for the harvest salad this week.  It is a go-to recipe for parties.

We also had a coffee bar set up in the kitchen and lemonade and water in another little serving area.

Finally, we ended with sweet treats. 
We had a caramel trifle, which I found off Pinterest here.  I will share this recipe later.  I would make some flavor and ingredient adjustments, which I'll share later.  It was still delicious, though.

We also had double chocolate, sour cream, chocolate chip cake pops and cake balls.  I'll also share that recipe soon!  Finally, my sister in law made a beautiful plate of pumpkin bread to round out the autumn theme.

If you have read about my candy bar baby shower game here, we adapted it to a wedding shower theme.  I'll write an upcoming post with those candies and words soon.  Here is the board after we played the game. . .

To end the party, we gave each guest a caramel apple with Heath bar and drizzled chocolate.  I used my Silhouette to make autumn leaves and write a cute little tag that tied in with the autumn theme.

It was a wonderful day and party.  Here are some more pics!  Thanks for stopping by!

My beautiful sisters in law


I didn't get a very good picture of the pretty banner I made, but you get the idea. . .

New apron

The guests

Marina made a beautiful ribbon bouquet

Katie and my mother in law, Susan.

We love you, Katie!  We had fun celebrating with you!
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