Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saturday Inspirations

Today, I’d like to share a mini-DIY project plus excerpts from my devotional this morning. Sound good? Good.

PS: make sure you’ve got a cup of coffee in hand. It’s always easier to be inspired that way :)

This DIY project was inspired by a set of cards I recently gave to Valerie as a birthday present, and following is a step-by-step process of how you can make something similar. I think that these make perfect hostess gifts and Christmas presents, but you should probably make a set for yourself, too! You know, for all the thank-yous you’ll be writing post holiday season.

SATUR-DIY: Personalized Greeting Cards and Stationary Sets

1. Think about the person you’re creating the cards for. What do they like? What images remind you of them? Sketch ‘em out!

2. Throw away your mess-ups and cut out the images that you like best. Scan them onto your computer and adjust the light and contrast as needed. (tip: you can add color in on easy programs like Paint, too).

Here is a sample set of 8 images that I selected for Valerie:



3. Load your printer with a paper of medium weight. Traditional computer paper will look cheap, so I suggest buying something like cardstock or a thicker recycled paper. Any craft store should have a great selection!

4. On a Word document, set up the image to look like this:

This enables the image to be “right side up” when you fold and cut the cards.

5. Print each design on a separate sheet of paper and allow the ink to fully dry.

6. Using an existing card as a guide, cut the paper with the printed image until it is the size you desire. Minis are cute, traditional is easy, and oversized cards can be fun too (just make sure they fit into an envelope!)


7. Keep the packaging simple: pair the cards with store bought envelopes and tie the two up in twine or raffia.

8. Give the set away along with some festively wrapped candies or a tin of homemade baked goods. And then go ahead and print another for yourself.

Because they’re just so darn cute!

And now, for the real inspiration. A little Saturday morning devo! I hope it blesses you in the same way it blessed me this morning.

1. Afraid of making mistakes? Of choosing the wrong thing? Relax into the adventure—it’s all part of the journey.

“Your desire to live a risk-free life is a form of unbelief. Your longing to live close to Me is at odds with your attempts to minimize risk. In order to follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your tendency to play it safe.”  Jesus Calling

2. Have no idea where the road you’re on is going? You’re in good company!

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” Hebrews 11:8

3. Stressed out by the demands and expectations of this world? Find freedom by asking yourself this question:

“Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules?” Colossians 2:20

4. Paul prayed this over the Ephesians. Let’s make this our prayer today, for those we love and for ourselves:

“I pray out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19

Take a deep breath. Finish that last drop of coffee. Don’t you just feel inspired?

Have a wonderful Saturday, mes amis! And if you make any greeting cards of your own…please, let me know. I’d love to see what you come up with!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Just Because

My favorite days to bake are just because days.

I had one of those three days ago. It all started after I returned to the house after a trip to Carrefour.

Oh, Carrefour. Quick aside. Even if I have thusfar survived the almost-one-way-but-not-quite streets of Southern France, my life will still almost assuredly come to an early end somewhere along the jam-packed aisles of Carrefour. Being impaled by a French baguette during a struggle for the pain-du-jour or run clean over by a herd of French people driving grocery carts like they’re on the freeway are equally likely scenarios.

It’s just SO CRAZY. People pushing and shoving, grabbing things, ramming their carts into your back (excusez-moi) and then glaring at you like it’s your fault. I literally think I will kiss the ground the second my ballet flats hit the Target parking lot in the Motherland (that’s Texas, for all you who didn’t know).

But anyways. As I was putting my hard-won groceries away upon my return to the maison, I noticed that we had 4 granny smith apples starting to sour in the bottom of the produce drawer.

Personally, I am not a big fan of granny smith apples, so I wasn’t surprised that they’d been forgotten. But while they’re not the best snack tout seul, everybody knows they’re undeniably the best for baking. It’s like something magical happens in the oven—the tartness melts away, the sugars are drawn out, and those sour apples soften right up to make your baked goods perfectly moist and delicious.

Like this baked good, par example.

For whatever reason, I’ve been craving scones lately. Maybe because I’ve overloaded myself on macaroons and dark chocolate since living in France, and my stomach (and heart) are begging me to switch it up a little.

Who knows? Regardless, these scones answered the call on all counts—taste and health, if you can believe it! I reworked this original recipe, reducing the sugar even further (you don’t need all that), almost doubling the amount of apples called for and amping up the cinnamon, too. Plus, I threw in the cranberries. Just for kicks (and flavor and color).

So, is it a rainy day? Got nothing better to do? Make these scones. Just because.


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup sugar 

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (plus more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt 

Dash of ground nutmeg

Dash of all spice

1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces 

1 1/2 cups shredded peeled Granny Smith apple 

1/4 cup dried cranberries

splash apple juice

1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cooking spray 


For Topping

2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk 

1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (I used 1…it was plenty!)



Preheat oven to 425°.

Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups and tablespoons; level with a knife. Combine flours, 1/4 cup sugar, and next 6 ingredients (through all spice) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Cut in cold butter with a knife until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Pour the dried cranberries into a bowl. Pour apple juice over the top, until cranberries are just covered with liquid. Microwave for 30 seconds on high. Add thinly sliced apple pieces, stirring to combine. Sprinkle a little additional cinnamon until apples and cranberries are lightly coated.

In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup milk and vanilla extract. Stir milk mixture and apple mixture into flour mixture until just moist (dough will be slightly sticky).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 times with floured hands. Divide dough in half; pat each portion into a 6-inch circle on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cut each circle into 5 wedges, cutting into but not through, dough. Brush tops of wedges with 2 tablespoons milk, and sprinkle evenly with 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (use turbinado for extra crunch).

Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until golden. The scones should sound hollow when you tap the center.

Serve warm…with a cup of decaf, of course.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to Hear

I took a mini-day trip yesterday to Eze village. Just me, my devotional, my camera, and the sunset (okay, and a little Christmas shopping, too).

Although in general I prefer to “go places” with other people, on occasion I also really enjoy getting away by myself. Which is good, because I’ve definitely had a lot of “me time” since coming to France.

But you know what? It’s been such a rich and good thing. I didn’t say easy—sometimes it’s not. But good? Definitely.

I think we all experience things differently when we’re alone. Personally, I find that I appreciate things more deeply, take more time to observe, walk a little slower. I give life my fully focused attention.

But the best thing about being tout-seul, I’ve found, is that it has enabled me to hear the still, small voice of the Lord that had been escaping me before I came here.

Scratch that—His whispers weren’t escaping me. I just wasn’t tuning in. Not with my fully focused attention, anyway. I gave the Lord bits and pieces, carved out a little space for one-on-one time with Him when I could fit it into my jam-packed college schedule. But you know what? It wasn’t the Lord who was getting gypped out of a great relationship with me during this time. Exactly the opposite, in fact.

I was gypping myself out of walking the pathway to peace. I was taking away the assurance that comes from keeping an open line of communication with God. I was scheduling my spirituality instead of basking in the comfort of being fully known by my Creator.

Being alone isn’t the easiest thing, and it’s certainly not the most comfortable. And don’t get me wrong—I think that by nature, we’re all made for companionship. But think about it. When you need to have a heart-to-heart with a close friend, where do you go? To a Taylor Swift concert jam-packed with screaming 15-year-olds? To the top of a roller coaster at six flags where you can’t hear anything but the wind rushing past?

I’m thinking no. You go somewhere quiet and peaceful, where the two of you can be—you guessed it—alone (and preferably where you can get some really great coffee, too). You sit with your friend. You talk some, but you listen more. You focus. You forget about everything else on your agenda.

In my life, I’ve found that God kind of works the same way. Whenever He has some serious work to do, or some important directions to give, He’s probably going to try to get you alone. And take my advice—go where He’s leading you. Don’t resist His calling out of fear of isolation, or breaking away from everything you’ve ever known, every plan you’ve ever made for yourself.

Hear this: He’s never going to leave you there, and you will never be abandoned or forgotten by God. In all likelihood, He’s just trying to get you to a place where you stop looking for answers within yourself and other people, and turn first and only to Him.

Acts 17: 26-27 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

The barriers we construct are the only things that distance us from Christ. Finding Christ’s will for your life is not impossible. Discerning His voice and His leading is not a special privilege reserved for pastors, Saints, and spiritual gurus. Before the beginning of time, God determined the exact place you should live so that you would reach out your arms and embrace Him as your only answer, your only hope.

Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

We don’t know the place in the heavens where we were first conceptualized in the mind of God. But we can rest in assurance knowing that we are here now, exactly at this moment, by His design. Turn to God. Seek Him first. And I promise, you will hear.

These are a few things I saw (and heard) yesterday in the beautiful village of Eze.

Psalm 16:11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Matthew 4:19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said.

Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

“In this age of independence, people find it hard to acknowledge their neediness. However, I have taken you along a path that has highlighted your need for Me: placing you in situations where your strengths are irrelevant and your weaknesses were glaringly evident. Through the aridity of those desert marches, I have drawn you closer and closer to Myself…you have realized that needing Me is the key to knowing me intimately, which is the gift above all gifts.” Jesus Calling

Matthew 28:20 And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

Go ahead. Try to tell me that’s not the most gorgeous thing you’ve ever seen in your life.

I just finished eating the last slice of the best pecan pie in the entire world.

How good was this pecan pie? It was no words goodthe kind of good where everyone looked up from their empty plates with wide eyes and open mouths, speechless as they tried to figure out what had just hit their taste buds.

It’s called pecan pie, y’all! And this particular recipe went over so well with the French that it happened to have gotten me a new job selling pies at Princesse Pirate, a new cafe and boutique in Monaco.

And no, I’m not kidding. My pecan pie will seriously be in the cafe window as the “tart du jour” on Tuesday. On Wednesday, it will be replaced by my apple and pear crostata.

In case you didn’t get that, I somehow just officially became a French pastry chef!

I think it’s clear that I need to get my new apron embroidered.

Mmmm. Love those French caramels! I think they made all the difference.

Okay, so I just gave the pecan pie a lot of facetime. But the pear and cranberry crostata absolutely deserves a little spotlight of it’s own.

Please don’t ask me if I ate a slice of the crostata for breakfast and had a slice of the pecan pie for dessert. Because I’d be forced to lie to you in the interest of my pride, and I hate lying.


Post-bake. Toasted to crunchy, golden perfection.

I know it probably looks like I spent the majority of yesterday afternoon just photographing food, mais c’est pas vrai. Actually, I spent 9 hours in the kitchen cooking up every single dish on our Texa-French-ican menu. And I loved every single one of them!

Then, of course, I spent about 2 hours eating. (French dinners are long. It wasn’t just because I went back for seconds).

These pictures were snapped somewhere in the middle of all of that craziness. And I’m so excited to share them with you! Consider this your belated invitation to our French Thanksgiving party. Bon apetit!

Homemade whole-wheat yeast rolls

I think this means that I’m either Martha Stewart or a housewife.

Either way, I’m over 40.

Winter vegetable puree

Since sweet potatoes and marshmallows weren’t readily available at Carrefour, I went with the next best thing—a puree of yams and carrots with nutmeg, cinnamon, and all-spice added in for sweetness. And as soon as this baby was finished baking, I added a whole-wheat, walnut, and brown sugar steudel to the top, too.

Needless to say, my French friends were initially confused. They thought I was asking them to eat pie for dinner. (which, okay, I kind of was).

This is my wanna-be turkey. AKA, it’s a rotisserie chicken that I basted in butter and tarragon. But still. I had to cut his neck off and his little feet and…

…sorry, I know it’s getting graphic. But the butchers here really want to make sure you know that what you’re eating was once a real live chicken! What I’m trying to say is, it ain’t no turkey but it was some work. Maybe I’ll go for the real deal next year. This was definitely a good practice run!

Deviled Eggs

They may be devils, but they sure were heavenly. Too corny? I don’t care.

Apple Sausage Stuffing

Place settings

The blank leaves? We wrote our “I-am-thankful-for” statements on those.

How stunning is that table? Valerie is an incredible hostess.

So incredibly grateful for new friends.

And for new experiences.

And for having new experiences with new friends alongside me.

Let’s give thanks every day.

bisous, mes amis. xo

Karley with a K. Todos los derechos reservados. © Maira Gall.