With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart: 5/17/09 - 5/24/09

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Front Porch Living

Remember my grumbling about making the new cushion covers and pillows? Well, now that the air has warmed and the birds have returned, the front porch has again become a very enjoyable place to rest and the finished cushions create a welcoming place to sit a spell.

Daisies in a sprinkling can sit atop a little round wicker table

Fellowship, Bible Study and of Course... Dessert ~ Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes

Pastor has always felt strongly that small groups are hugely important even in a small church but especially as the congregation has grown so large. It began as a group of 14 people meeting in the home of a family. 25 years ago our family began attending while meeting in a local high school. Several building projects later we now have a sanctuary filled to over flowing and three services on Sunday and an attendance over 1000 people.
And then there is our small group. Though the name has changed from Growth Group to Cell Group to Community Group, the focus has never changed. A place to build deep friendships, share joys and heartaches, trials and difficulties, laugh together and love and pray for each other.
A very safe place to be.
Our group of about 16 men and woman has had the same core group for many years. It is a joy when new people join us and sad as others move on. A most beloved couple lead our group last. In their 80's at the time and overflowing with a love for Jesus, for each other and for people, this was a couple you were just drawn to. Full of wisdom and kindness, I loved to be in their presence. They now reside across the country but are continually thought of and remembered in our hearts. My husband was asked to lead our group five years ago and meeting each week with this precious group has been a huge blessing!
Though the desserts are certainly not the most important part of our time together, they sure are fun!
Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Frosting

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons instant cappuccino powder {you can use espresso or even decaffeinated coffee powder} - I used instant coffee that I ground to make into a powder
1/2 cup {1 stick} unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sour cream

Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting
1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon instant cappuccino powder {you can use espresso or even decaffeinated coffee powder} - once again I used instant coffee that I ground to make into a powder

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. In a large bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together and set aside.
3. In another bowl, mix butter, eggs, and sour cream together. Pour into dry ingredients, rapidly mixing with a wooden spoon until batter is smooth.
4. Spoon batter into cupcake papers, filling cups about 2/3 full. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool.
5. To make the frosting: put cream, sugar, cocoa, and coffee powder in a large bowl. Stir, cover, and let sit in the refrigerator for about an hour, until chocolate and coffee have dissolved. Remove from refrigerator and beat with an electric beater until stiff.
6. Frost cooled cupcakes just before serving. Dust with cocoa powder.
yields 16 regular cupcakes, 8 jumbo cupcakes or 40 mini-cupcakes.
Original recipe from Cupcakes and Crinoline.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Coopers Hawk and Other Backyard Birds

What a surprise to find this feathered fellow perched on the edge of our picnic table on the patio just outside the back door. I think it is an immature Cooper's Hawk. The bird remained for a long time until it made a swooping dash under a nearby bush as a group of starlings gathered and began diving at it. I was fearful that it was injured and hoped it would survive.

My husband was excited to observe this bird so closely as he loves birds of prey ~ his favorite being the Red-tailed Hawk.

From Wikipedia: Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) is a medium-sized hawk native to the North American continent and found from Canada to Mexico. As in many birds of prey, the male is smaller than the female. The Birds found east of the Mississippi River tend to be larger on average than the birds found to the west.

You can read more about the Cooper's Hawk here.


I guess he wasn't injured... two days after I began this post draft, the hawk returned to the edge of the picnic table, about two feet from the back French doors. I noticed because my dog was barking frantically at him on the other side of the glass. The hawk swiveled his head and looked directly at the dog totally unruffled.

(Maybe he is pointing out the patio post that is in need of repair... or the bench that is in need of pressure washing... or the debris that is in need of being removed... or the items on the picnic table that are in need of being spray painted...)
Along with the usual Robin's, Blue Jays, Purple Finches, Doves, Mockingbirds and Starlings are my favorite birds. This petite female hummingbird returned the day after I set out the feeders.

Other feeder visitors include the Gold Finch which is the New Jersey State bird (as well as many other states). I didn't get a picture of them yet this year, so I am sharing one from last year.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Softer Side of Hard Rock by an Eleven Year Old

He has...
the determination
the guitar
the dyed hair with splotches of cherry red
the skullcap
the name (Toxic Union)
the stance...


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