Bonfire Party


 Spring is here! Flowers, warm weather and the promise of many memories to be made in the sun. The season of entertaining, BBQ's and pool parties, and picnics at the lake. Last week we had a bonfire, so we thought we would share it with you.


We try to make everything as healthy as possible here at the Cottage even when it comes to Smores. So we served organic marshmallows, Organic graham crackers, dark chocolate, sweet tea (hey you can't live without it in the south!), water and nitrate free beef hotdogs.


We served the tea in this adorable drink server. We bought it a few years ago at Sam's Club.


Tasty bits of organic chocolate waiting to melt in your smore.


Crisp sweet organic graham crackers await your creation.



We used this little bucket filled with ice for a cooler for guest who would rather have water.


We got the Smore station  a couple weeks ago at Sam's Club also- I really love it! It's perfect for so many things, like sandwiches and other finger foods. Oh and- oh well another post! I'm sure you will see it quite a bit this summer.


Don't forget the skewers for roasting! We used our shish kabobs sticks. We picked up those cute little glasses from Target. Aren't they perfect for this?

This post contains affiliate links

#Bonfire #FamilyFun #Party #PartyPlanning #Events #SmoreStation

Old Hickory Lake



Last weekend we spent a day at Old Hickory lake, we had such a great time! It's so beautiful. We took a picnic and sat in the sunshine watching the boaters and kayakers.


One of my favorite things about Tennessee is the many parks and lakes within just a few minutes drive. Whether you want to go hiking or hang out on the water there is something for everyone.



Isn't it beautiful? This lake is made from the waters of the Cumberland that meanders across Tennessee.  There are wonderful parks sprinkled along its shores.



People come from near and far to enjoy the water to jet ski, fish, ski, boat and just hang out with their family and friends.


Many parks include Bbq areas and picnic tables that make it even easier to  enjoy the day.


We just packed a picnic and blanket but there were places to cook and tables available.


The water is still cool, but there were lots of families out biking and enjoying the day.


It is a perfect way to enjoy the day with those you love.




Check out our visit to Wynnewood State Historic Site!


When God Gives Us A New Dream | Leelee


Up until I reached college, everything went exactly according to my plans. I got the toys that I wanted.  I received all sorts of accolades and was admitted into all sorts of special programs.  I was fortunate enough to be accepted into my first and only choice of college.

My plans were to study education and Spanish.  When I finished college, I would have several job offers.  Obviously, I would graciously accept the teaching job where I would utilize both of my majors and would be able to live in a cute little place overlooking the ocean.  As an eighteen-year-old, I could not imagine spending my career with the littlest learners.  I was adamant about wanting only upper elementary job offers.  Since I was dreaming about my ideal future, I would have fallen in love and married my college sweetheart.

Little did I know then, but a series of redirections would prove over and again that I needed to trust God with my plans instead of going off on my own.

After college was over, I moved back to my hometown and into my childhood room.  I never found my cute beach cottage.  Nor do I want to live that close to the beach anymore.  

In 2012, the NJ coast was battered by Hurricane Sandy.  Many of the cute beach cottage homes that I once coveted have sustained significant damage. Had I moved where I desired, I could have lost everything.  

It took me a long time to realize it, but there are many blessings to my current living situation.  I was being protected.

Trust me.

Things didn’t end well with my college relationship.  We were just too different. Those first few weeks, when I was single again, were rough, but God reminded me of how His love will never go away.  There was a lot of change going on inside my heart, which led me to start writing.

Trust me.

It took the heartbreak and struggles of that year for me to realize just how love actually works. Now, I have found myself in an amazing, loving, fun relationship.  I am continually thanking God for providing this connection that was better than I could have imagined.  If I had insisted on continuing with one of my pigheaded attempts to find love, I never would have found the love of my life.

Trust me.

I ended up dropping my Spanish major.  I can barely remember the language that I once was so passionate about.  Because this language study had been a part of my identity for so long, it was rough figuring out where to go from there.  There were many tears and painful meetings with advisors.  I wasn’t completely sold on my new course of study, but I was still able to graduate on time.

Trust me.

One of the biggest surprises that God had in store for me involved my work. My dream was to work with the older kids and do all sorts of deep, intense research.  Over and over, God reminded me to trust him.  I relinquished control and pursued any kind of job that I could.

This is my fifth year working in preschool.  It was the last place that I ever thought I would be.  It has turned out to be the best job.  I am thriving in an environment where a younger me thought she was not meant to be.  Boy was I wrong.

Right now, I am wondering where are the next things God has in store for me.  I may not have all the answers, but I know I can trust Him with my dreams and plans.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8





Leelee is blessed to find that the life she is living is far better than she could have imagined. She is a 30 year old lifelong Jersey girl who loves Jesus, her family, and the ocean.  Her other favorites include polar bears, pink polka dots, sparkles, and her boyfriend.

Connect with her on her blog BlogInstagram & Twitter 


Beefy Nachos



Ingredients:

Mexican Cheese Mix
Favorite Salsa
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Coconut Oil or your favorite healthy oil
Ground beef
Refried beans


Directions:


1. Warm up the ground meat of your choice and the refried beans in two separate pan with a little water.

2. Slice Tortillas into strips or triangles, fry in skillet with oil.

3. When crisp remove to a platter with a paper towel on top leaving behind as much of the oil as possible in the pan and lightly salt with some finely ground Himalayan pink salt.

4. Add cheese in layers between chips.

5. When all of your chips are done, layered and salted, top with cheese, meat, and beans and serve with a bowl of salsa, sour cream and/or guacamole.

Ingredients For Nacho Sauce: 

2 tablespoons salted grass fed butter
2 tablespoons organic all-purpose flour
1/2 cup organic milk
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 (4-ounce) can diced jalapenos
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded colby cheese


Directions:


1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in half and half, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.


2. Stir in jalapeƱos and cheeses until melted, about another minute or 2. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk as needed; season with salt and pepper, to taste.


3.Serve immediately poured on top or on the side.


When God Gives Us A New Dream | Amy Langmaack



When we’re in college, we think we have it all figured out… our careers, our friends, the place where we will live.  We’ve got the road all mapped out and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or says because we are in control.  We’re on top of the world because we’re about to receive our diploma and enter the “real world” for the first time ever.

I was one of those college students.  I went to school with a plan to be an audio engineer and live in Nashville for the rest of my life.  I had a plan to be in the music industry for the rest of my life.  My dream was to stay in that city that stole my heart, and continues to hold a piece of it to this day.  

But God…

God most certainly had a different plan in mind for me.  I ended up discovering that as much as I loved audio engineering, it wasn’t my calling or my place in life.  It will always be a passion of mine, and something that I enjoy in a casual way.  But the pressures of the job were overwhelming and I couldn’t thrive in that situation.  

I ended up changing my major 5 times in college.  God took me on a journey of discovery.  He showed me passions I have and ways that I enjoyed using my skills and talents and ways that I didn’t.  
I ended school with a major in Sociology, which I always joke was basically a major for people who didn’t know what they wanted because I was able to study a little bit of everything.  I found that I loved criminology and learning why people think and act the way that they do.  

That dream to stay in Nashville no matter what ended up falling flat as well.  I couldn’t find a job and had to move back home with my parents.  

Moving back home began a series of jobs and events I would never have anticipated for my life.  But as a result of those experiences, I know have a clearer dream for my life.
Because of moving back home, I met my now husband.  Because of the jobs I found after moving back home, I learned I had a love and a passion for those who are struggling in life, whether it’s a mental illness, or trauma situation, or the fact that they just need a loving home.

I always knew I was going to adopt children some day.  But since God showed me that my career path was going to change, he has lead me on a journey to knowing that someday I will be giving a home to foster children.  He has uniquely equipped me with the ability to understand the way that the mind works for those who have struggled in life because of my studies in college, and my jobs after college.  He had already given me a love for learning, which I put to good use getting my hands on any and all tools that might be helpful for our family as we look to someday being foster, and most likely adoptive parents.  

The small dream I had in college was all about me and myself.  I wasn’t looking for ways that my life would bring glory to God, but how my life would bring glory to myself.  I wanted to be one of the few females who went on the road doing audio for bands.  It was a dream born out of a selfish heart.
And since God took hold of my heart, and I began to listen to his direction, he has shown me how I can use my life to bring glory to his name! I may never use my master’s degree in criminal justice for anything other than helping a foster child navigate through a situation with the courts, and for me, now, that would be a degree well earned.  I may never work for another company or organization, but helping a child change their thought patterns and find some healing for past hurts would be worth the confusion of not knowing what to major in in college.  

The dream now is more about how I can make an impact for the kingdom, even if for one child.  Because that one child is well worth my time and effort and ultimately my love.

BeTheProof/Amy_face.jpg
Photo credit: Jameson Bast Photography
Amy Langmaack is a wife and mom to one little princess. Since her daughter was born, her love of learning has been focused on how to live a life that leaves a Godly legacy. She wants to be able to pass on her faith with healthy spiritual disciplines and habits to her daughter as she grows. Amy shares this passion with her husband and they share what they are learning on their blog, Be The Proof.

White Enchiladas Recipe




This is a super yummy recipe.  Our Aunt Teri made these a lot when we lived back in California.  They are so good.  We took our own route so that we can make it our way which is healthy.  Try these and let us know what you think!  Here is where you pre-heat your oven at 425 F. Not sure what that is celsius, sorry!

Ingredients:

10 Azteca flour tortillas (We use these because there is nothing bad in them. Use what you have.)
2 Cups Grated  Jack cheese
2 Cups Shredded chicken leftovers
3 Tablespoons. organic butter
3 Tablespoons. organic flour
1 Can bone broth (or other broth)
1 Cup organic sour cream
1 small Can of Ortega Chilis diced  (7 oz)

Instructions -

Mix one-half of your cheese and all of your chicken in a bowl.
Spoon a bit of this mix into the center of your tortilla and then roll them up.
Place them face down in a casserole dish and continue rolling each of them and laying them side by side.

Now for your sauce! Grab one of your skillets and in there place your butter in the pan and allow it to melt.  Then take your flour and add it to the butter and stir well.  This will become very thick.  Add to this your bone broth whisking well making sure you don't get lumps.  Cook this over medium / low heat until you begin to see it thicken and bubble. Here is where we added onion powder, garlic powder salt and pepper. Then we put in the sour cream and the Ortega's.  Stir well and taste.  Add anything your taste buds say are lacking.  Call in your favorite taste tester and ask them too (Yes, we really do this.).

Then spoon it over the masterpiece and top with the rest of the cheese. Feel free to add extra cheese if you like it.

Cover with a foil loosely and cook for 20-25 minutes.

This would also be great with sliced olives... Yum!

So Try it friends and let us know what you think.

We love your comments and ideas.  We would also love if you came over to our FB page and shared your picture of our creation.  Find us here on Facebook.

When God Gives Us A New Dream | Cassie




We all have our plans don’t we? We all like to imagine that we have complete control over our days and years… all with the ultimate goal of achieving whatever it is we happen to be dreaming of. For some, maybe a select few, this may actually work out; however, the vast majority live out a very different storyline than originally imagined- especially for those of us who follow Christ. It isn’t wrong to dream, it isn’t wrong to plan, but if we really want to please God then we need to be ready to do (or not do) whatever it takes to follow His will. We choose to do this with all of the love in our hearts because, deep down in our souls, we know that is the only way we can ever truly please the Father and be personally fulfilled.
I was no different than most other young people in my attempts at planning a future. I’ve only really had a couple of dreams in my life regarding how I would spend my adult years. First, around middle school and up through the first year or so of high school, I truly desired to be a cardio-pulmonary specialist. I know, specific right? I had a thing for the heart and lungs and could soak in just about any kind of anatomy and physiology research. I was set. Then about midway through high school, I had attended a Christian women’s conference with my mom and some ladies from church. It was at that point that God sat next to me, put his arm around my stubborn shoulders, and said, “I want you to minister to my girls”. OK, he didn’t audibly say that… but I felt it in the depths of my soul. Whatever that would look like down the road, I knew women’s ministry was my calling from God; whether it was 2 women or 2,000 I didn’t care; I just knew my ministry would be based on investing in women’s lives for God’s glory. This would, in my thinking, involve teaching, writing, and traveling. The journey getting there, however, was not at all what I had planned and, at 30 years old, I’m still not 100% sure that my life is going to look like that picture I had in my head.

Once I knew God’s calling on my life, I assumed the natural posture of a young person who was sure of their heading. I had heard all growing up that to be stable and successful in life, you had to go to college and get a good degree. I knew I was going into ministry, so my leaning was toward a Christian University. I tried to be as frugal as one could be while attending a private college, so I opted to live at home and work on the side. I decided that my path to where God wanted me would be very straightforward. I would:
  1. Graduate college having majored in Christian Studies and minored in Communication.
  1. After college, obtain a job in some kind of Christian organization where I could learn the ropes of public ministry.
  1. Get married to an amazing man of God and have about 3-4 kids. While raising the young breed I would publish 1-2 books in order to keep in touch with ministry-life.
  1. After being a stay-at-home-motWe all have our plans don’t we? We all like to imagine that we have complete control over our days and years… all with the ultimate goal of achieving whatever it is we happen to be dreaming of. For some, maybe a select few, this may actually work out; however, the vast majority live out a very different storyline than originally imagined- especially for those of us who follow Christ. It isn’t wrong to dream, it isn’t wrong to plan, but if we really want to please God then we need to be ready to do (or not do) whatever it takes to follow His will. We choose to do this with all of the love in our hearts because, deep down in our souls her to said children, when the youngest would reach school-age I would return to work in ministry and all would be right with the world.
It sounds great on paper doesn’t it? Well, I still believe God has called me to Women’s Ministry, and I still know that He will use my writing and teaching in some form in order to accomplish His will. Yet the journey so far has not looked at all like I envisioned those many years ago. Here is what my life has really looked like since those days of me “planning it all out”.
  1. Met my future husband during my senior year of high school (he’s older than I am).
  1. Attended Christian University for 1 year and got married the summer after. I then attended for part of the next year but after much prayer and consternation, we decided for me to pull out of school and let God show us what He wanted us to do.
  1. After quitting college, I found out we were expecting our first baby and almost at the same time discovered we would be moving to a different city 5 hours away for my husband’s job.
  1. We moved, I had my son, I went through depression for several years, and then we moved again to another state (this last move would prove to be a huge blessing in all of our lives).
  1. I’ve since had a little girl and, unless God wants differently, WE ARE DONE… no 3-4 kids here! I am currently still a stay-at-home-mom with no published books, no ministerial work history, and no travel journal telling of my exploits.
Due to things going a little askew from what I thought they should be, I was fairly confused about who I was for several years. I was so afraid of missing God’s plan for my life that I could not see myself living it out, simply because it didn’t look like I had envisioned. I now see that, although the dream itself that God had given me is still very much the dream I hold onto today, the journey to get there had to be the one He designed- not me. I am in the throws of raising two children but I still serve at church and use my website as my own way of “publishing” what God lays on my heart. I am learning every day to trust more and worry about where I’m heading less.

I see the passing years, not as time wasted that I should be doing something else, but as precious processes that have to be worked through in order for me to be effective in the Kingdom. I no longer define myself by what I thought I wanted in my youth and the stark contrast to what I am living out now. On the contrary, I have more now than I ever dreamed of wishing for and I refuse to allow a change of plans dictate my worth or my success. Dreams may change or the path to those dreams may change or be different than what you think they should be, but learn to trust God’s heart. He is much better at making dreams and fulfilling them than we could ever hope to be.

I am a writer, wife, stay-at-home Mama of 2, and forever disciple of Jesus Christ. My personal writings include Devotions, Poetry, Bible Studies, Q&A's, and more.

Find her on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram. Check out her website Something More!

Branding Package Giveaway!


Getting your idea off the ground or redesigning your brand can be complicated and expensive, but Tailor Brands helps to make the process as easy as possible for you! Working with the idea that branding should not be expensive to help lower the barrier to entry for people with great ideas, their logo creator analyzes your business name, services, and generates logos that you can customize further for a complete branding package.

We're working with Tailor Brands for a giveaway of their largest branding package, which is perfect for anyone looking for a logo and social media assets! This package includes your logo design, PNG, JPG, and EPS files of your logo, business card, and letterhead designs, a brand book, a branded presentation, social media covers, and 21 logo sizes for profiles and posts to ensure the best brand representation at all time. Originally valued at $99, we're giving this away for free!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hermitage Fall Craft Festival


This weekend we went to the Fall Craft Festival at the Hermitage, it was such a beautiful day to be out! The Hermitage was the home of our 7th president, Andrew Jackson. We didn't tour the home, this time just went to the festival. There were lots of great artists there, and live music from the 70's  to listen to as you strolled through the festival. I even got to play a violin!! Apparently I am pretty good because the lady was impressed that it was my first time playing one.


Aren't these mugs cool? Perfect for coffee! This person's ceramics were all in these earth tones.


These paintings were amazing! This artist came from Romania. I really loved the emotion of the one closest to us. What do you think?


This artist's take on the Nashville skyline. Love this one!


This is a table of old toys that kids could really borrow and play with. I love the rings with the ribbons. It is called graces. We this game when we were kids -  they ended up a tree.


This shop had some great funky jewelry.



This one is for my sister! She loves the brass section!


They had ceramic artists, textile artists, sculptures of wood, makers of leather goods, painters, people that did ink sketches, photographers, etc.


These sculptures were really beautiful!. The wood is a smooth as silk. Can you imagine how much time went into these? My mom wanted the angel. :)


Here is a booth with great textile art. We had to drag mom out of here.

Have you ever been to the Hermitage? To find out more information about the Hermitage or to purchase tickets go to http://thehermitage.com/ or on Twitter @7thPresident


Don't forget to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

Find us on Facebook here to keep up with our adventures and to become friends. Find us here on Twitter.

When God Gives Us A New Dream | April

  

In early 2011 I started suffering from panic attacks.  As a follower of Jesus, I knew that worry and fear was not His will for my life.  I started to fight back by the power of the truth.  Once I was healed from anxiety and depression I started to teach women how to get empowered through scripture and how to fight back.  


In June of 2012, I felt called to start a ministry that would help women overcome anxiety, fear, panic attacks and depression by knowing the Truth of God’s word.  The ministry was called Healed Whole New and it caught attention very quickly.  I saw that so many Christian women were suffering from mental battles.


I could see God in the details and women from all over the world were connecting to the ministry.  I felt like my dreams were finally coming true and I would soon be able to quit my corporate day job in Human Resources.
On April 2015, I was preparing to go into my day job and I felt so excited in my spirit.  I prayed that God would make a miracle happen that day.  I was really worn out by the corporate gig but knew that God could show up big that day.  Oh, He did!  That evening my company and I separated ways.


I was so relieved because I knew that God was releasing me into ministry full time.  I was out of work for about 3 weeks and trying to take the ministry to the next level. I was making up my bed one morning when I heard The Lord speak to my spirit and say, “Would you release the ministry to me?”  I didn’t understand (at all) but I knew I needed to release.  I cried.  But through the tears, I bowed down, held my hands up, and said, “Here, Lord.  It’s yours.  If you have more, I don’t want less.”


I grieved handing over the ministry for 3 days.   Shortly after the Lord gave me a vision to start an organization that would help women get back on track to living life with passion and on purpose.  Women in my life started volunteering to be a part of the project and we launched Point Her Journey in March of 2016!  


Point Her Journey allows me to minister to so much more than just anxiety and depression.  I’m able to work with women in all areas of life and instead of limiting the focus.  I love to encourage and help women.  Point Her Journey is so much more fulfilling than Healed Whole New ever was but I would never know this if I didn’t surrender.


I don’t know what the future holds but I know Who holds my future … and it’s gonna be good!


I'm April. I'm a recovering people pleaser and recovering "going-through-the-motions-Christian". I'm navigating through how to be a Christ Follower aside from the Christian "hipster" subculture.

I'm learning how to surrender to God in order to be brave enough to live an authentic life. I'm learning to breathe, to stop striving and just be present. Most importantly, I'm learning to look to Christ alone.

I want to help women fly high by encouraging you to keep fighting the good fight, to change your perspective, to stop being a victim, to set appropriate boundaries, and to live life on purpose.

Check out here Website, Blog, Facebook, and Instagram 


Pancake Breakfast


There is nothing like a stack of pancakes in the morning, the smell of warm maple syrup on the back burner and the smoky smell of bacon on the griddle. It is the taste and smell of home. This is a more traditional thinner pancake recipe, but it is still oh so good!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of organic flour
1/4 cup organic sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 egg beaten
1 cup of organic milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Maple Syrup
Grass Fed Butter

Directions:

In a large bowl place your dry ingredients. Beat the egg and add it and the milk to the dry ingredients. Fold together until combined.

Heat your oiled griddle and ladle the pancake mix and cook until air bubbles come up in the batter and pop leaving little holes and the sides don't seem so wet on the edges.  Flip your pancakes with a spatula to the other side and cook until done.

Lift them from the pan onto a plate in a warm oven and continue until you have enough or the batter is gone.

Add a dollop of soft butter and warm syrup and enjoy

CVS Unilever Dry Spray VoxBox



We are part of a group called Influenster and we are sent items at no cost once in awhile to try out and then share our opinions with you our friends.  


It has been really fun having the opportunity to try out new things. If you are ever interested in trying out being a reviewer for them sign up with them through our link and check it out! 



Well, we received the CVS Unilever Dry Spray Vox Box in the mail and inside of it was this Dove Men + care. We asked Mr.Cottage to try it out and see what he thought. He normally uses an organic brand of deodorant but said he would try it and see. 









We love to be out and about so we decided that we would go for a hike in the mountains in East Tennessee for the day and why not put this to the test while we were there.  










It was a great day! 

The sun was shining and it was warm. We tried out a more difficult trail than normal and had a blast hiking down to the falls swimming in the water and then back up the mountain we went. We had a picnic lunch and had a great time together. 


Mr. Cottage said that he had never tried spray deodorant before, but he liked this one. He said it worked well and lasted a long time even when he was out climbing and in the sun he felt that it worked well and that he liked the smell.




Check out Brianna and our unboxing video below. 
 


Received this product free for my honest review.