Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Remembering "Christ" in Christmas

As Christmas approaches, I'm reminded of how much I play into the lie that Christmas is about "me"... I want to give and receive the best gifts, we want to have the best decorations, and throw the best parties. Not that there's anything wrong with giving gifts, receiving gifts, putting up lights, and all the Christmas parties - in fact, those are the things that make the season exciting; but to what extent do I celebrate the REAL meaning of Christmas? I want to remember the true meaning of the season - Christ's birth which led to salvation and eternal life for all who choose Him...


"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.


And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”


Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
   and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”



When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”


So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them."


- Luke 2

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black Friday... Worth It or Not?

NOT. Well, at least to Nate and I. Here's our Black Friday experience...

Best Buy was giving away a 42" LCD TV for $200 (steal, right?). Nate and I tag-teamed it with our friends, Kristi and Aaron, and got in line around 6:00 pm. Around 10:30 pm, they handed out "tickets" for their doorbuster items, but in a frenzy or unorganization and chaos, the tickets for the 42 inch-er didn't make it past 1/20th of the line, and therefore, we didn't get one. Still waiting in line hoping to get anything on sale after waiting for 6 hours, at 11:30 pm Nate and I decide to leave to check out Target and Walmart before they opened at midnight. We drove by two Targets, both of whiches lines ran all the way through the parking lot, when we realized that Walmart opened it's doors at 10:00 pm. Once inside, we were amazed at the craziness we found! You couldn't move a foot without bumping into someone, two fights broke out, and the police sent two people to jail after blood was spilled while waiting in line. Somehow, amazingly, we ended up getting a TV - 40" for $250 (not bad!). Nate "merged" into the line, if you could actually call it a line, and after waiting 30 minutes to get the TV and 30 minutes to check out (thank goodness for "15 Items or Less"), we left Black Friday at 1:15 a.m. VICTORY!

Even though we left with what we wanted, we decided it wasn't worth the time and hassle. What we truly realized, however, is that in the future we would never sacrifice time with our family or the blessing of celebrating Thanksgiving to stand in line for "stuff".

All that being said, what were your Black Friday experiences, good or bad?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes

This year was a milestone year for me... not only did I make my first turkey, but I also cooked my first pumpkin pie. Sure I've helped mom in the kitchen throughout the years, but for the first time, I made one by myself in my own kitchen. Surprisingly, both the turkey and the pie turned out great, so I thought I would share the recipes and cooking tips:

Turkey Cooking Tips:
  • Buy the turkey several days in advance to allow time to thaw in the refrigerator (Plan B (for people who don't think far enough ahead a.k.a. me) is to let the turkey sit submerged in room temperature water to allow it to thaw)
  • Tie the legs together with cooking string so the turkey looks nice and keeps its shape
  • Check your pan/ roasting rack and oven to make sure the turkey and pans fit in the oven properly (I found out the hard way that older and smaller ovens don't have room for 23 lb. turkeys)
  • Everything you read says plan on 2 lbs. per person, but really when buying a turkey, 1 lb. per person is plenty unless your guests haven't eaten in a week.
Directions:
  1. Pull out the turkey neck, and bag of innards (usually this is already detached, you just need to remove it) 
  2. Place turkey on cooking tray or in roasting pan, breast side up.  
  3. Season turkey with butter, salt, pepper, rosemary, and sage (you can really add/substitute any spices you like and can also sub olive oil for butter. The secret is to separate the skin from the breast meat (this should be fairly easy) and rub the butter and dry seasoning mix directly on the meat. Also rub/ pour on the outside of the skin as well. Be sure to cover the whole turkey with seasoning - breasts, legs, wings, etc. For large turkeys, don't underestimate how much seasoning it takes to get a good flavor.
  4. Stuff the turkey - I didn't stuff the turkey with a stuffing; however, this is a great option. If you are not making stuffing, stuff the cavity with an apple, lemon, celery, and onion (whole and not sliced). This gives the turkey a slight citrus and richer flavor without being overpowering.
  5. Tie the legs together and tuck the wings under the breast (technique called "akimbo") for more even cooking.
  6. Cover turkey with foil tent.
  7. Cook bird on 475 degrees for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the oven down to 325 degrees for the remaining of the cook time. Usually you cook the bird 20-25 minutes per pound. Every hour or so, using a spoon or baster, pour the drippings from the pan on top of the turkey to keep it moist. Remove foil for last 15 minutes to brown top of turkey.
  8. Enjoy with some yummy green bean casserole, mashed and sweet potatoes, and all the other great holiday fixings and desserts!
Speaking of desserts... PUMPKIN PIE

Because I was trying to come up with a pumpkin pie recipe on Wednesday morning, I thought I would try to classic one on the back of a can of "Libby's Pumpkin" and it turned out great! Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz) Libby pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked pie shell
Directions:
  1. Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves in bowl. In mixer, beat eggs, add pumpkin, and sugar mixture. Gradually add in evaporated milk. The mixture will be soupy and thin, but it will firm as it cooks.
  2. Pour into pie shell
  3. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn temperature down to 350 degrees and cook for 40-50 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
  4. Cool completely - serve with whipped cream
Happy Holidays and Happy Eating!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chili Weather

Recently I told Nate that I wanted us to start cooking together. It's something fun and interactive we can do together at home, instead of watching TV. Tuesday night, he started helping me make chili and discovered his inner creative chef! I was watching him throw all kinds of great spices into the mix, and at one time he even said, "I put a secret ingredient in there, let's see if you can tell what it is."

Of course, I can't tell you what the secret ingredient is, but I can tell you a few chili suggestions that make an amazing chili or frito pie...

3/4 lb. ground beef
1/4 lb. ground spicy pork
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1/2 can kidney beans (we prefer the "red" kind)
1/2 can black beans
*Here's the trick, instead of adding water like most recipes call for, add about 1/2 bottle of beer (I would use Shiner Bock or something heavier and non-light)

Viola! Great chili recipe, thanks Nate. Now that the weather is a litty "chili", throw in some Fritos and cheese and you're good to go!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall Favs

Ahhh, Fall Break - one of the many joys of working at a school. This long weekend couldn't have come at a better time. Time to clean and do laundry; time to catch up on my emails and blogging; time to search on pinterest and work on some fun recipes for the colder months... couldn't be a better day! Thought I would take this time to talk about a few of my "Fall Favs"...


1. Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer - gives my day a spicy start!

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2. Doggie Halloween Costumes

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3. Boots - all of them, equestrian, heels, ankle... so many things to do! 
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4. Candy Corn - like the kid's candy, yes, I love it!
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5. Pinterest - need I say more??

6. New TV Show, "Revenge" - AWESOME!
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7. "The Hunger Games" - reading book #2, "Catching Fire" and love it
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Have a great Fall weekend! Hopefully, after a productive weekend, I'll have some house pics to post!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chipotle - Dr. Pepper Pot Roast

Like I said earlier, I'm trying to cook more and be more creative within my cooking repertoire. Yesterday I made a pot roast and mashed potatoes, but this wasn't just any pot roast... it was a chipotle/ Dr. Pepper pot roast. Now at first thought, those two ingredients wouldn't compliment each other, but as reluctant as I was, I decided to try this recipe and seasoning mix I bought in Canton. It turned out great!

The pot roast had a nice kick to it from the chipotle seasoning and the Dr. Pepper caramelized and brought a nice balance to the heat. Here's the Recipe:

Chipotle - Dr. Pepper Pot Roast

Ingredients:
1 chuck or rump roast
carrots, celery, onions (these are the vegetables I like with my pot roast)
chipotle seasoning (I used a pre-packaged mix, but you could use any spicy chili or chipotle seasoning mix from the grocery store)
1 can Dr. Pepper or Coke (NOT Diet - sorry girls, you're going to have to eat the calories on this one)

Directions:
1. Add a few inches of water to the crock pot, enough to cover the bottom of the roast.
2. Add seasoning mix and half of Dr. Pepper (do not add vegetables yet)
3. Cook on LOW for 8 hours (after 4 hours, add the remaining Dr. Pepper and vegetables)

Serve with mashed potatoes or rice!

So easy and great. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Emerging from my hole...

As wonderful as having a home is, and as blessed as we are to be able to create and personalize our home, doing "housework" has consumed our life for the last two months. This weekend, we saw the first glimmer of hope in getting to a place where we feel settled and officially moved in. As I've begun to emerge from the hole that has been working on my house, I've realized what a fun time of year this is... I love the Fall; the weather changing puts a pep in my step (well, minus the over 100 temps today and tomorrow), football season is under way, and the holiday season is quickly approaching. With all of this excitement lingering, it's motivated me to "re-evaluate" and give myself some new goals as I finish 2011. Kind of like "spring cleaning" comes with the change of seasons, this will be my "fall cleaning."

As busy as this time of year tends to get, I really want to be better about being intentional with my time. With all the changes this summer, Nate and I have completely gotten out of a routine. For some of you, that's normal life, but for a Type A person like me, I crave routine. Getting on a normal, go to bed and wake up around a certain time, schedule is first on the to-do list. However, as my alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. and I sluggishly pushed "snooze," I realized getting into a routine is the hardest part.

Another item on my list... cooking more. I love to cook, and I've been out of the habit, mostly because we didn't have a working kitchen for about six weeks, but now that we do, it's time to start. Fall foods and spices are amazing to cook with - pumpkin, butternut squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves - and now we can finally make hot things like chili and soup! So expect to see many more recipe ideas visit this blog and invites to dinner at the Kotschi house.

Lastly, I want to serve others more. Recently, I feel like we've had some great stuff going on, but all of my focus and attention has been on me and us - buying a house, fixing up a house, my new job, etc. I'm not talking about anything major, I'm just thinking of little ways to remind my friends and loved ones that I care... cards, phone calls, inviting people into our home. I want pouring into others and making time to love them well to become part of my new "routine."

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Well, this has definitely been the longest I've gone without posting on the blog. I did want to use this post, late as it may be, to talk about my husband. This past Monday, Nate and I celebrated our one year aniversary by going on a date night, reliving wedding memories, and some suprisingly yummy one-year old cake In some ways, it feels like it went so fast, and we can't believe we've already been married a year. In other was, it seems like we've together forever. Regardless, Nate and I experienced a lot of "life" in our first year - we moved into a rental house, Nate turned 30, we joined a new church, we bought, renovated, and moved into our first house, and I changed jobs.

When I think back on this year, I'm so thankful for Nate and how much we've grown, both individually and as a couple. We've learned so much about each other, compromising, and loving each other well; but the most important thing I took away from our first year was the importance of good communication and laughter. There are so many things about Nate that I appreciate and love, but right now, I appreciate how much he makes me laugh. Whether it's a joke, silly face, or just something random, no matter what each day brings, I know laughter will be part of it.

For my gift to Nate, I framed our wedding vows that we wrote. It was neat to go back and read them with each other again and be reminded of the signifigance of those words:

I love you, Nate, and I know that you love me. Because of this, I desire to be your wife. For years I have prayed that God will lead me to the man that He has chosen for me, and I am confident that His will is being fulfilled tonight. Through the pressures of the present and the uncertainties of the future, I promise to be faithful to you. I promise to love, serve, and respect you as long as we both are alive. Christ told us that the wife must submit herself unto her husband as unto the Lord, and I promise to honor and submit myself to you.
I love you, Amber, and I know that God has ordained our love. Because of this, I desire to be your husband. Together we will be vessels for His service in accordance with His plan, so that in all areas of our life Christ will have the pre-eminence.  Through the pressures of the present and the uncertainties of the future, I promise to be faithful to you. I promise to love, guide, and protect you as long as we both are alive. In accordance with Ephesians 5 and with His power, I promise to show you the same kind of love as Christ showed the church when He died for her, and to love you as a part of myself because in His sight we shall be one.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Life living as a Nomad...

Life as a nomad... That's what it feels like at least, living in our house while it's being renovated. Picture this - we have all of our furniture, boxes, etc. stuffed into our dining room and third bedroom because neither of those rooms are being renovated; and we're living out of a suitcase in our guest room and using the guest bathroom, while its also being painted. We've been eating out every meal because we don't have a functioning kitchen nor any kitchen appliances. My brother came over the other day and told us it looked like a bunch of hoarders lived in our house, haha.

As frustrating and tiresome as this process is, we're still so thankful and excited about the end result. Just when we think we can do this no more - when we've eaten one too many fast food french fries; when we've inhaled too much paint; and when we've worn one too many dirty clothes because we can't find the clean ones - something exciting always happens to energize us - our flooring is finished, our living room painting is finished, our bathroom is tiled, etc. These are the little things that will keep us going for the next few weeks.

All that being said, this picture sums up our life right now....


Sunday night we didn't think we could muster the energy to go to dinner anywhere, so we decided to order Chinese food. We had to use a towel and make a picnic on the bed because we don't have any furniture to sit on. We also realized that they didn't give us any plasticware so we had to search all of our boxes for our packed forks and knives.

What an adventure! I'm looking at this as a "camping experience," and something that will make this house even more special for us!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Change is inevitable... except from a vending machine." As I said in my previous post, July has been an eventful month for Nate and I. We've had some big changes all occurring at one time. On July 20th, we got the keys to our new house in Lake Highlands; Monday I started a new job as the Admission Associate at Good Shepherd Episcopal School; yesterday we started renovations on the house (more details and pictures to follow); and this weekend we'll completely move into the new house. 

Through all of this, I have learned so much about the beauty of change. I believe change is necessary for  growth, and sometimes change means taking a risk. Something that has become abundantly clear to me is that most change, even good change, can be scary because you're leaving the comfortable, the familiar, and the memories. My first week at my new job has been an adventure, and I have such confidence that this will be a great and challenging experience. Even knowing that, there are still moments of sadness when I miss my Hockaday friends; I miss the "usual" way of doing things; I miss knowing everyone; and I miss my desk chair with my perfect back support (it's the little things that really matter). At the same time, as excited as Nate and I are about buying and renovating our first home, there's a definite sadness about leaving our rental house. We love the M-streets; we'll miss our long talks on that porch; we'll miss walking to our favorite places on Greenville; most of all, we'll always remember that as our first house we lived in together.

And that's what I'm learning... that grieving or feeling sadness over change isn't only allowed, it's necessary. So this post is a memorable goodbye to several important parts of my life, and also an exciting welcome to new adventures and challenges that are right around the corner!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Jumpin July

Well after weeks of seeing how things "pan out," I feel like I can talk about all of the changes that are going on in the Kotschi household. Yesterday I turned in my resignation at Hockaday. After four years with a wonderful office in a fantastic environment, I am leaving to do admissions at another private school. I'm excited about the opportunity, and I have full confidence that this is where God's leading me.

While Nate and I were waiting to see about my job opportunity, we put an offer on a house in Lake Highlands. This home is a "fixer-uper," but we're very excited about being able to update the house and make it ours. As of now, we're still under contract, so its not official, but if all goes according to plan, we're set to close on July 20th and start renovation on July 25th. I will also start my new job on the 25th, and five days later, Nate and I will move out of our wonderful first home in the M-streets.

This July is one of those times that I'm so thankful that we have great friends who have been encouraging and praying for us. We'll still be needing lots of prayer - for smooth transitions and mostly that we'll keep our sanity. While these changes are all exciting and such a blessing, it's still bittersweet leaving the familiar and the good memories, and as always challenging as we learn to trust God and rely on him for our strength!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Building Altars

Altars. That's a word we don't hear or use much in today's common vernacular. Last night, our community group was talking about God's faithfulness in our lives and how he has overwhelmingly answered so many of our prayers in the last few weeks. That lead us to discuss the importance finding ways to worship God and remember his goodness and faithfulness, so the times when we are troubled and God seems far away we can look back and be reminded of His promises.

In the Old Testament, when they wanted to praise God and remember what He did for them, they would build an altar. When God saved Noah and his family from the flood, the first thing they did when they landed on ground was build an altar (Gen. 8:20). When Moses and the people of Israel defeated the Amalekites, Moses built and named an altar for the Lord (Exodus 17:15). We see all of the Old Testament characters - Gideon, Saul, David - repeating this act of worship. Not only did they signify their thankfulness by doing this, but they also had their priorities in line. They built their altars immediately after God answered their prayers or delivered them.

This makes me wonder why we don't do the same thing more often? Well, I do understand why we don't physically construct altars out of building materials, but why don't I make an effort to incorporate worship and devotion into more places of my every day life. I heard a story of a family writing verses on the foundation of a newly built house, and I've heard of people taking pictures and attaching verses to them of answered prayers. I believe in the importance and significance behind building altars, and I hope to find ways to incorporate that into more of my everyday life.

That being said, what do you do or what ideas do you have for making altars to God?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Desert Song

We sang this song, "Desert Song," at church last week, and I loved the lyrics. It really reminded me of God's faithfulness and how much we have to be thankful for "in every season." Happy Wednesday:

This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be empited again
The seed I've recieved I will sow

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fantastic Finds

I'm one of those women who loves doing lots of things. I love cooking, decorating, crafting (when I'm in the mood), writing, travelling, and trying new things. None of these, however, are exclusive, which is why I love blogs that are specifically limited one specific idea, but I couldn't limit myself to only one topic. As you've heard, Nate and I are in the process of buying a home - I use the word "process" loosely seeing that we're still in the beginning hunting stages. This, coupled with some much needed free time and light workload, has allowed opportunities for me to light my creative fire and spend hours scouring over decorating pictures and ideas on the Internet.

I recently discovered two blogs that I absolutely fell in love with, and I wanted to share them to you self-decorators out there.

The Nester - The Nester is a blog written by a mom of three boys. It has wonderful inspiration and ideas for homemade and cheap decorating (love the cheap part of that).

Knock Off Decor - This blog is amazing! She researches and finds knock off designs from everywhere. You can find designs or ideas by store (Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, etc.).

After spending several hours looking through these blogs, I felt motivated to decorate our house. The good news is when we find a house, I'll be ready. The bad news is, I'm mentally decorating for an imaginary house. Hope these fun blogs bring a smile to your day!

Happy decorating.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vegas, Baby!

This past weekend Nate and I went with my brother, Wade, and his girlfriend, Lindsey, to Vegas for a quick, 48-hour trip. Nate's been to Vegas several times, but for Wade, Lindsey, and I, it was the maiden voyage. We had a wonderful time gambling, eating wonderful food (in large quantities), enjoying the spa and the pool, and doing some phenomenal people-watching. A few things I learned about Vegas are that the hotels and casinos are beautiful and worth visiting; the food is incredible; the pools and spas are luxurious and worth spending all day at; and the city lights at night are pretty fantastic.

The trip itself was fun and exiting, but the flights there and back, not so much. On Saturday morning, Nate and I missed our flight by 5 minutes (the one time in my life a flight has left on time or early), but we lucked out and got another flight that left only an hour later. Our flight back to Dallas on Monday was suppose to be only three-hours which would put us home at 12:30 pm. Somewhere around 12:20 our pilot told us we were detouring for an emergency landing at an air force base in Wichita Falls. Apparently we had a faulty fuel gauge, and the pilot thought it was unsafe to keep going without having it checked out. This "quick stop" turned into a three hour wait and we didn't land in Dallas until 4:00 pm. I'm all for safety and thankful we made it, but needless to say, we were very ready to get off the plane!

All in all, had a great time with my husband, and I love our trips and adventures we are able to take. I'm so thankful that we have so much fun, laugh together and truly enjoy being with each other. We walked away with a little bit lighter pockets, a sunburn, and some funny stories. I would say more, but you know what they say... "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" :)


We did a lot in a short period of time, but here are my list of "MUSTS" for Vegas:

1. Bellagio fountains - They start at 8:00 pm every night and go until 10, and the show put to music is breathtaking.

2. Visit as many hotels on the strip as possible. Each hotel has something different and special about it - whether it be restaurants, themes, or casinos, and they're all very unique. I would also suggest staying on the strip; you get more for your money and you can walk everywhere.

3. Eat big! We ate at Emerill's steakhouse at The Venetian, and it was incredible! It was pricey but well worth it as Nate and I both said it was the best meal we've ever had.

4. "Aquavana," the spa at The Venetian. It's only $20, and you get to enjoy the spa amenities all day without having to pay for a service. All of us went, and even the boys enjoyed it!http://www.canyonranch.com/spaclub/las_vegas_nv/spa_treatments/aquavana/

5. Spend an afternoon at a hotel pool. The pools at the hotels on the strip are amazing. The Venetian pool had a beach, three pools, two bars, a restaurant, and beautiful layout gardens. On top of this, the people-watching at is hilarious - you'll never see such a conglomerate of people anywhere else.

The last thing I would suggest that we didn't get to do is see a show. I know the shows are amazing, and there are so many to choose from. However, if you do a show, make sure you stay more than 48-hours because our time was full as it was.

What are your thoughts or suggestions for future trips to Vegas?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Easy Bar-B-Q Ribs Recipe

Bar-B-Q Ribs. Sorry folks, no pictures to go with this recipe, but it's so easy and delicious, I had to share it:

Ingredients:
1 rack of ribs (pork or beef)
1 jar Bar-B-Q sauce (I prefer "Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle")
salt, peper, and garlic

Directions:
1. Create a dry rub mix with salt, pepper, and garlic salt (add chili powder to taste) and rub on each side of raw meat
2. Fill crock pot with about 1-2 inches of water
3. Cut ribs into two sections to fit and place them in the crock pot
4. Put 1/3 of Bar-B-Q sauce in crock pot
5. Let cook on LOW for 6-7 hours
6. After 3 hours, turn ribs over and add another 1/3 or Bar-B-Q sauce
7. Remove when tender, place on serving platter, add remaining sauce

These are fall-off-the-bone tender and a crowd pleaser! Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Game Night!


Growing up, Monday night was always "Family Game Night," which meant we ate dinner and carved out at least an hour to do something together, other than watch TV. Now that I'm semi-grown up, I applaud my mom's effort to bring the family together, even if, as teenagers, we kicked and screamed our way there and some nights ended with someone huffing and puffing their way to their room. I treasure that time I spent with my family and know that when we have children, we'll be doing the same thing! If you don't make a habit of playing games, I would encourage everyone to do so! Game Nights are a great way of bringing friends, family, and loved ones together.

I love games, even when it's just Nate and I playing them. Games have a funny way of drawing out interesting conversations and bringing people to a common ground. Nate and I have learned that we're both very competitive, so there is no such thing as a "close game," once we start, we'll inevitably keep playing until there is a very clear "winner."

As I've mentioned several times, Nate and I have been so lucky this year to be able to see April and Wade so much. Every time April comes in, we always pick up where we left off playing the board game SORRY... Who knew that a game we use to play in elementary school could be so fun and exciting! It is more difficult to find games to play with just two people, but a few of our favorite games to play with as few or many people available are:

- CATCH PHRASE
- MONOPOLY
- APPLES TO APPLES
- SORRY
- SPADES

What are some of your favorite games?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Letter for Mom


Dear Mom,


How could I ever say thank you enough for all you've done for me. Thank you for your willingness to put us first and be so involved in our lives as we grew up. Thank you for your time working at the school, driving me to cheerleading practice, watching choir concerts, and playing for our music competitions. 

You have been such an incredible example to me of a godly woman and mother. Your fun and spontaneous attitude is always a joy to be around; your warm and friendly personality puts others at ease and makes them feel welcome; and your compassionate and servants heart always helps and blesses others. As I've grown up, you've been my encourager, supporter, cheerleader, mentor, and friend. I'm so lucky that I can call my mom one of my very best friends. I love how similar we are and how we think alike. You have taught me so much about myself that has helped me grow into a better person, wife, and one day mother.

Some of my favorite memories with you include our time together at the piano practicing for choir concerts, singing "Danza, Danza"; coming home from high school and plopping down on a bar stool in the kitchen to tell you about my day, before even changing clothes; sharing a cup of international coffee as we catch up; my funny interpretations of you and our inside jokes; our SING comments and evaluations; and our morning phone calls on my way to work.

I don't know what I would do with out you, and I am constantly aware of what a blessing you are in my life. This weekend, as you celebrate Mother's Day, I wish I could be there. I wish on Sunday we could go to church, eat lunch together, come home and drink a cup of coffee as we sit on the couch, play the piano and have a sing-along, and watch a really cheesy chick flick together. On Sunday, I hope you know I'll be thinking about you all day.

I love you so very much! Happy Mother's Day.

Amber

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sweet Reminders


Every day our minds are filled with thoughts about work, relationships, finances, events and obligations. In response to my last post, here are some wonderful thoughts on which to meditate:

"Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways aknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."
- Proverbs 3:5-6

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; Plans to give you a hope and a future.'"
- Jeremiah 29:11

"A man's heart plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps."
- Proverbs 16:9

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 4:19

What are some of your favorite verses?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Don't Borrow Trouble

Don't borrow trouble. That's a phrase I haven't heard in years yet suddenly came to my mind this morning. I love how God uses whatever means necessary to teach us and get His point across to us.  For me, that happend to be waking me up at 2:00 am last night. God really put on my heart yesterday how much I worry, and on a deeper level, the fact that my worrying comes from my desire to be in control. I'm a planner - I love my calendar, live by lists, and consider myself productive most of the time. That's also the reason I love my husband... he is not. Nate flys by the seat of his pants, doesn't let too many things ruffle his feathers, and is perfectly content doing nothing. God has totally used him in my life to grow and teach me. Last night, however, I needed an extra lesson in giving up control and trusting God.

Nate and I are just starting the process of looking to buy a house. As exciting as this is, it's also a bit overwhelming and nerve-racking, and I spent the day yesterday worrying and stressing about every part of buying a home. When I woke up in the middle of the night, my mind immediately began the cycle of worry. Almost immediately, I felt the Lord speaking to me of Provers 3:5-6 - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..." I woke up this morning and told Nate what a great reminder it had been of a few things:

1. God is ultimlately in control and His plan will prevail, no matter how much I try to control or put my plan in place.

2. God is a good and faithful God, and His will for our life is perfect... meaning it's much better than anything I can try to figure out or do on my own.

3. Worry and stressing about things that are out of my control doesn't change things or make them better.

I know that God made me a planner for a reason and there are some great qualities that come from that. For now, I'm content resting in the fact that God's got us covered - in every part of our life!

Happy Monday.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Would you like some cheese with that whine?


I definitely can't take credit for this creative endeavor, but Jennifer Porter inspired me a few months ago with a Wine and Cheese Pairing Party, and I followed suite Tuesday night. All six of the girls from our community group came over for our own version of a Wine and Cheese Party. Even though the only expertise I bring to the table related to wine and cheese is the fact that I enjoy both, we had a wonderful time!

I mimicked Jen in arranging the event and asked each person to bring a specific and different type of cheese and wine. We had a great variety of cheeses that included: gruyere, brie, gouda, parmesean, goat, and bleu. We also had both white and red wines represented, and the wines were: prosecco, pinot grigio, chardonnay, pinot noir, merlot, and cabarnet.

We tasted every different type of cheese with every different type of wine, and in between there was a lot of laughing and chatting. One of my friends in our small grou, Jennifer Fowler, has taken the official wine and cheese class at Scardello. I highly recommend enjoying some wine and cheese; whether at home, at a restaurant, or at an official tasting. My only caution... pace your cheese intake!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

South America Day #7

Well, this is our last night in South America. Tomorrow night we'll be on a plane, catching a red-eye back to Dallas. This trip has been a great experience, both professionally and personally. Today, we went walking and shopping around Sao Paulo and ate a fantastic lunch at a very cute, charming restaurant. Tonight was the Brazilian Boarding School Fair at our hotel. We only had about five inquiries, but even though there wasn't as much interest, these trips are always good for two reasons: networking and exploring new markets.

After the fair, several of the admissions officers went to a Brazilian "bar/ restaurant" for some traditional Brazilian snacks. Something I did learn about Brazilian food, it's friend and it's a lot of cheese. In fact, those were the main two commonalities of most of the dishes.

Even after a great week of work, networking, and some play as well, I'm looking forward to going home tomorrow night. Big D, I'll see you on Friday!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

South America Day #4-#6

GOOOOOOLLLLLL. I'm combining days 4, 5, and 6 because after taking a red eye flight to Sao Paulo Sunday night and arriving yesterday morning, the last few days all mesh into one. Sunday we walked around the hotel, bought some authentic Colombian coffee, worked out, and played a mean game of cards. Yesterday morning, we arrived in Sao Paulo at 6:00 am, napped, and laid out at the pool.

I'm excited to have left dreary and cold Colombia and now be in sunny Sao Paulo. The weather is beautiful, low 80s, and we walked everywhere. Today we went to the Art Museum, Futebol Museum, and this very authentic market. I am not by any means an expert on Brazilian soccer, but seeing that I married into a soccer family, I really enjoyed and appreciated being in the soccer capital of the world. Tonight we walked to a fantastic pizza restaurant called "Margarita's." It was fun to walk and drive around the city and experience lots of different activities.

Tomorrow is the Brazilian Boarding School Fair and our last full day. Until then... ciao!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

South America Day #3

Today was the actual Bogota Boarding School Fair. Our expectations were greatly exceeded when about 200 students and parents arrived. We were told by the organization we're working with that translators would not be needed as most people who would be interested in this would speak English... wrong. Out of the 100 or so people Jen and I met, only about 5-10 spoke some level of English. I ended up speaking in my very limited and broken Spanish to most of the families, and at some point in the conversation, "No hablo espanol bueno" was always stated. Jen laughed that I used a combination of hand motions and Spanish phrases to communicate, which just goes to show the truth in the study that found 90% of communication is non-verbal.

After a three hour fair of listening and attempting to communicate, we were exaughsted. However, we were pleased and suprised by the large turnout, especially since this week is "Holy Week" in Latin America. Tomorrow we're heading to Sao Paulo for a few days and fair number two. Hasta luego!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

South America Day #2

Lo Siento. Hablo espanol un pocito. This has quickly become one of my most used phrases over the last two days. Our second day in Bogota was has been very interesting. This morning we took a taxi and visited two bilingual schools in the North part of the city. It was fascinating to talk with other administrators and learn about the philosophy of schools in another country. One thing I love about Hockaday is how they're always striving to open new doors for students. Today, we spoke not only about our boarding department, but also about our summer school, possible exchange program, and even the opportunity for our classes to collaborate and communicate with each other. 


After visiting schools and getting a special Colombian snack (some sort of homeade cheese and bread treat), we decided we would try to cash our traveler's checks. I don't know a better way to explain what happend for the next two hours than this:


1. Front desk tells us to go to the money exchange around the corner.
2. Money exchange tells us to go to another money exchange shop in La Salitra (mall about 5 minutes from our hotel). 
3. On our way out, front desk at hotel tells us to go to Colombiabanco at La Salitra. 
4. After waiting 30 minutes in line, Colombiabanco tells us to go to a money exchange called Cambio (still in the mall). 
5. Cambio tells us to go to Cambino (another exchange store in the mall). 
6. Cambino tells us that they don't cash travelers checks. 


And after all of this, we still weren't able to cash our traveler's checks. Someone said no one in Colombia will say, "I don't know," and I believe it.


To end the day, we had dinner and drinks with our colleagues from the group we're here with, TABS. It's always interesting conversation to talk with other boarding schools from around the country - both coed and single sex - and exchange ideas and information. 


Tomorrow will be a big day as we have our Boarding School Fair in the afternoon. Crossing our fingers that we have lots of attendees. Ciao from Bogota!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

South America Day #1

Since I'm in South America for a week, I thought it would be worth writing a short post every day of our little adventure. For those of you who don't know, my director and I are traveling to Bogota, Colombia and Sao Paulo, Brazil with a group of boarding schools known as TABS for the first Latin American Boarding School Fairs.

Today was a long travel day. We left DFW this morning, had a layover in Miami, and arrived in Bogota around 7:30 pm tonight. We're staying at a nice and contemporary Marriott hotel. However, we have been surprised by a few things:

1. Drug dogs and metal detectors both when you're leaving the airport and when you arrive at the hotel (somehow makes you feel both safe and a little uneasy at the same time).

2. English is not as common as we thought, and many of those who speak English have limited vocabulary, which means Jen and I are having to brush up on our Spanish and make use of the translator app I downloaded on my phone.

And it's time for bed now. Until tomorrow, buenos noches from Bogota!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Genna's Shower Soiree


N&G

This weekend, my "girls" and I threw our friend, Genna, a kitchen shower to celebrate her marriage! I've always had a small creative incling, but recently I realized that this incling is turning more into a downright urge, and I thought I would share a few of those ideas from Genna's shower with you.

Genna's colors are green and brown. Since brown flowers aren't very popular, I decided to use white flowers and use limes and green apples as accents to bring out the green.


Using fruit as accent to floral arrangements is so easy and can add such a cute punch of color. You can use limes, apples, lemons, oranges, but consider the size of fruit when picking vase and floral arrangement size (I originally bought green apples to put in the tall vase, but after I got them home I realized they are too large and they only fit stacked one on top of the other).

To make the "apple flowers" follow these steps:

1. Core the apples (I don't have an apple corer, so Nate and I sat on the porch and used a good old fashion knife).


2. Clean the apple with a wet cloth, stuff a paper towel inside, and refrigerate until ready to use.


3. Cut flowers to the appropriate size to and place inside apple hole.


In between the apple flowers you can see our "goodie bags" we made. We used a variety of spices from Central Market and let each guest choose their own spice bag. Chelsea came up with the idea for the spices, and they are so cheap to buy in bundle. I also made small tags that say, "N&G"  and the type of spice is written on the back.

Loved throwing this shower with my wonderful friends for an amazing woman! Hope these fun ideas spark some inspiration. Happy crafting :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This Is Who I Am

Yesterday I got to spend some wonderful one-on-one time with my friend, Ann. In catching each other up on life, Ann inspired me with a story of how God's using and teaching her to share her faith. We had a wonderful conversation about how God sets up opportunities all the time for us to share our faith, and as Ann told me how she explained to her friend that her faith is more than simply religion or what she believes to ensure that she will go to heaven, I was hit with the reminder that Christianity and believing in God is so much more than that, it's truly defined who I am and what I do. This morning on the way to work, I heard the song, "This Is Who I Am" by Shane and Shane. Nate and I played this song at our wedding because we love the words and what it's professing. As I blared this song in the car, I was further reminded that my life is not my own, and even though I fail daily, everything I do should be for and because of Christ and his gift of eternal life for me. Here's the words to the song,
I hope it blesses you like it blessed me:

I am a new creation,
the old is passed away
and I’m made new
I’m made new.

And I have been adopted,
the door is opened up
for me to know you
be like you

This is who I am
I’ve been born again
the Cross is my defense, my hope secured
now my life is in Your Hand
on Your every word I stand
Lord I’m finding who I am in all you are

When my heart condemns me
tells me I am guilty
Your greater
Your greater

Jesus you have searched me,
and even in your finding
You have loved
and You love me

This is who I am
I’ve been born again
the Cross is my defense, my hope secured
now my life is in Your Hand
on Your every word I stand
Lord I’m finding who I am in all you are

For He mad Him who knew no sin
To be sent
On our behalf was crucified
Oh that we could be the righteousness
Of our creator

I am a new creation,
the old is passed away
and I’m made new
I’m made new.

This is who I am
I’ve been born again
the Cross is my defense, my hope secured
now my life is in Your Hand
on Your every word I stand
Lord I’m finding who I am in all you are

Saturday, March 26, 2011

California Knows How to Party

One thing both Nate and I really like to do is travel, and that's something we really want to take advantage of over the next few years before we have kids. Since I still get a "spring break," Nate and I decided to take a trip to the sunshine state. We spent three days total in San Francisco and one night in Carmel-by-the-sea. It was a very fun but interesting trip. The week before we left, Nate was really sick with strep throat, so of course we were praying that he would get better before it left. Thank goodness, he was feeling better the day we left, and we had a great first day - seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and Chinatown, walking up and looking back on Lombard Street, and riding the cable cars. Our second and third day we experience a little set back as it rained constantly. We learned that San Francisco rain is very different from Dallas rain. In Dallas, it's dreary and cloudy but really only actually rains for short periods of time. In San Francisco, it rains lightly but constantly! Nate and I made the best of it, bought some stylish rain jackets to wear (yes, they definitely say "San Francisco" on them), and toughed it out. 






On day #3 we rented a car and did the Highway 1 drive to Carmel, which was breathtakingly beautiful, even through the fog and rain. We stayed in a cute little Inn within a mile from the coast and Pebble Beach golf course (which we walked to and snuck on, of course). It was a really cute town and a fun side trip. 



Thankfully, our last day it finally stopped raining, and we drove back to San Francisco to spend some time in the eclectic Fisherman's Wharf. We saw lots of great street vendors - the "bush man," a magician, and rave spray paint artists. We completed our trip on a high note finishing with a beautiful day of sunshine and some In-N-Out Burger (can't wait for that to come to Dallas). 


All in all, we definitely learned how to be flexible, and it ended up being a fun trip and some great time to spend together!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We Found One.


Well, after six months of marriage, and visiting churches all over Dallas, Nate and I finally found a church to call "home". For those of you who don't know our background, before we were married, Nate was attending Irving Bible Church and I was going to Watermark. We really had a hard time trying to decide where to go because both of us had such strong connections and relationships at our individual churches. We finally decided the best thing for us as a couple was to find a new church where we could start over together.... enter Northwest Bible.

Something that I learned at my time at Watermark was the importance and value in having friends and people that share our desire to serve the Lord and really live for Him walking through life with us, and this becoming plugged into a wonderful small group was one of the aspects that really sold us on NWB. Since we've decided to attend Northwest Bible, I've recently become involved with the Sunday morning music ministry. I just started doing it, but I already am so excited that God gave me an opportunity and place to be involved with music again! 

To those of you who knew we were going through this process and were praying for us, thank you! It definitely wasn't the easiest process, and I learned a lot about really having to let go of my control and trust the Lord. God knew exactly what He was doing, and we are confident He's going to do amazing things in us through this church.

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good! His faithful love endures forever."
- Psalm 136:1

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Things have been pretty crazy and busy around the Kotschi household this month. Snow days, family visiting, a trip to Waco, and a very heavy work load for Nate and I have made February a fun but hectic time. During busy and stressful seasons, there are a few simple things that always make me smile and brighten my day, and I thought I would share them with you:

 1. I don't know what it is about Starbucks coffee,
but it changes my whole outlook on the day!


2. Weird?! Cleaning relieves so much stress for me.


3. Flowers always make me smile - giving them, receiving them,
or just looking at them!


4. How can you not love this face? (Well, honestly its about half and half - half the time he DE-stresses me and half the time he stresses me)


Hope you enjoy these little things as much as I do...



Monday, February 14, 2011

Be My Valentine


"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." - I John 4:9-12

Well, today is Valentine's Day... a day filled with flowers, candy, and lots of pink! But what I love about Valentine's Day isn't the sweet surprises, it's that everyone has a reason to celebrate. Valentine's Day is a celebration of love, and we experience that in so many different relationships - siblings, parents, friends, spouses,  and significant others. However, the most important love that we have to celebrate is the love of God, our Father who in sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins gave us the most precious and sacrificial gift, our salvation. This February 14th, on top of celebrating God's love and my relationships with my family and friends, I have the blessing of celebrating the love I have for my husband. 

I hope each and everyone of you get to celebrate with a loved one... whether that be celebrating with friends, enjoying a date night with the hubs, or just hanging out watching TV. As for Nate and I, we did the fancy Valentine's date Friday night, so you can find us eating $.50 wings at Plucker's tonight... Happy Valentine's Day Nate!