Relief

IMG_7951

Winter is easing it’s frigid grip. It isn’t quite time to break out the flip-flops, but that day is quickly approaching. And I am so very grateful.

This past Saturday, it was warm enough to go outside without jackets. So my man and I loaded up our cameras and made out way over to my happy place, The Missouri Botanical Garden.

IMG_7980 

As we stood on the path beside the pond in the Japanese Garden, watching the geese waddling back and forth between the solids and the liquids, I looked and Scott and said, “Do you know what this feels like? Relief.”

IMG_7998 

I am so thankful to live so close to this beautiful place, a place where I can experience warmth and botanical beauty year round, even in Winter. So many beautiful details to explore, scattered throughout the acres of indoor and outdoor gardens…

IMG_7964BW

IMG_8039BW

IMG_7969BW

I’m thankful for the day of warmth I got to share with my man at the garden. I’m thankful that Spring is coming. I can feel the mercy and faithfulness of God so distinctly in Spring. I know that his mercies are new every morning, no matter what the season or the weather. But I can literally see it blooming all around me in Spring. 

IMG_8048

I’m thankful that winter is lifting, like a heavy burden off my shoulders. Sweet, sweet relief.

IMG_8078

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in Him.”
Lamentations 3:22-24

twitterpinterestby feather

Cheesecake…A Sweet Way to Re-Start

Hello, blog world. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I thought I’d ease back into our on-again off-again relationship by offering you one of my favorite, tried & true, most requested recipes…Cheesecake!

IMG_7921

Here’s a KB fun fact for you…I have never liked cold cheese. At all. Cream cheese was totally out of the question (cold cheese that had been creamed? No thank you.) For this very reason, I would never ever even consider trying a taste of the beautiful cheesecakes that my Mama would make when I was growing up. Then one day, after I was a grown up and had started a much more adventurous relationship with food, my man ordered cheesecake for dessert at our favorite restaurant. I asked him for a tiny taste. He gave me a bite. It was so amazingly good that I wanted to cry…tears of joy for the sweet, luscious, creamy deliciousness that I was experiencing for the first time, and tears of lament for all the years my fear of cold cheese got in the way of my enjoyment of such a delicacy. Thus began my obsession with eating and baking cheesecakes.

I’ve tried so many cheesecake recipes throughout the years. Plain, Pumpkin, Oreo, Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Chocolate, Cookie Dough…So. Many. Cheesecakes. No-bake cheesecake was my first attempt, quite frankly because I was not the greatest cook in our early years of marriage and all the recipes I read for baked cheesecake seemed so daunting. But as I gained confidence in the kitchen, I attempted a few simple baked recipes and had great success. Then I graduated to my current tried-and-true favorite….an adaptation of the famous Junior’s Cheesecake from their Brooklyn restaurant cookbook.

JCB_d

I highly recommend this cookbook…my Mama bought it for me for Christmas one year after seeing it on QVC, specifically for the cheesecake recipe. But the book itself is full of wonderful stories and recipes. My favorite kind of cookbook!

I’ve made this recipe exactly as it’s printed in the cookbook (with a thin, angel food-like crust), and I’ve experimented with many different variations of both the crust, and the cake itself. This is the recipe I use consistently, at my husband and eldest son’s request. It has a graham cracker crust and the most wonderful taste and texture. Try it out, and let me know if you come up with your own variation!

KB's Favorite Cheesecake
Write a review
Print
For the Crust
  1. 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  2. 1/4 cup melted butter
  3. 1 tbsp. sugar
For the Cake
  1. 4 8-oz. pkgs. cream cheese, room temperature
  2. 1 2/3 cups sugar
  3. 1/4 cornstarch
  4. 1 tbsp. extract (I use vanilla or almond...lemon would be good too!)
  5. 2 extra large eggs, room temperature
  6. 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
For the Crust
  1. Spray or butter a 9-inch springform pan. Mix all ingredients and press into the bottom of the pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool completely.
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the outside of the cooled springform pan with 2 sheets of aluminum foil, criss-crossed at the bottom so that the foil completely covers the bottom and comes up at least one inch above the sides.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream 1 pkg. of cream cheese with 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch. Scrape the bowl, then add the other 3 pkgs. of cream cheese. Beat in the remaining 1 1/3 cups of sugar, then extract. Blend in the eggs, one at a time. Blend in the heavy cream, just until completely blended. Scrape the bowl one last time, then beat again to ensure everything is incorporated smoothly.
  3. Spoon the batter into the springform pan. Then place it into a larger, shallow pan. Fill the shallow pan with hot water that comes up the sides of the springform pan, about one inch. Place in the oven and bake the cheesecake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. The center should barely move when you shake the pan.
  4. Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack. Then cover the cake and refrigerate until completely cold (I recommend overnight). Remove springform pan, slice it up and serve plain or with your favorite topping.
  5. Enjoy!
Adapted from Junior's Famous No. 1 Pure Cream Cheesecake
Adapted from Junior's Famous No. 1 Pure Cream Cheesecake
http://www.lifeatthepolishpalace.com/

Peace,
KB :) 

twitterpinterestby feather

Sweet Sorrow

A few weeks ago, Matt and I made a trek down to the farm to spend a week with our people there. It was a good, healing time…the weather was warm (at least warmer than Belleville) and a few trees were beginning to show off their Spring finery.

farm1

farm2

While we were there I took a few more pics of our Senior. He has changed so much since the first round of senior pics we shot last summer.

matt_latpp_1

matt_latpp_2 matt_latpp_3 matt_latpp_4

This one is my favorite…my sweet Mama graciously gifted Daddy’s truck to Matthew for graduation. Its sweet to see my son, who had such a bond with my Daddy, driving around in that white pickup.

matt_latpp_5

So much sweet sorrow captured in one photograph.

The raw wound that Daddy’s sudden death left in my heart is starting to heal a bit. Every few days the wound gets bumped and I’m moved to tears again, but I’m slowly finding my way back into a pattern of more good days than bad. Writing helps in the process, and someday these posts won’t feel so heavy. I’m thankful for the grace that I’m given from friends and family to work this all out at what seems like a snail’s pace, and especially thankful for the amount of time I’ve been able to spend at the farm. Life without Daddy is much more difficult to get used to than I ever could have imagined. But God is gracious to me and his presence is felt, when I allow it to be. He’s even gracious in forgiving me when I choose to ignore his comfort, wallowing in my sadness and self-pity. He truly restores my soul.

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:3-4

twitterpinterestby feather

This Long Winter

The doors and windows will be opened wide at The Polish Palace today. The temperatures will rise to well above average for the second day in a row, like a surprise visit from a dear friend. The warmth is so welcome, a brief reprieve from this long winter…this winter that brought bitter cold to our land and to my heart.

Summer is my season. I thrive in the heat of the season that allows me to walk barefoot in the grass, dig in the garden soil and grow things that are pleasing to all my senses. I get that love of heat and dirt and growing honestly, from my Daddy. My beloved Daddy, who is now gone, who died in winter. This long, long winter.

My heart is continually broken as I walk through this great loss. Every day seems to bring a new version of grief, packaged differently, never pretty. I’ve read of other’s experiences of loss and grief, and I relate to their descriptions…waves that are light and steady one day, then overwhelming the next, weights that seem heavy one moment, then lighter, but always there, always felt. Unexpected triggers pop up out of the blue…a man whistling in a store, a dog in the back of a pickup truck. I am comforted knowing where he is, with Jesus, in his new body, no aches or pains or arthritic joints, singing like never before. And I’m grieved knowing where he’s not, at the farm with Mama, a phone call away from me, sitting in the swing as I pull in after our ten-hour drive. The balance between the hope and the grief is sometimes excruciating. But there is also beauty. Beauty in knowing that my Daddy lived a life that honored God and taught me and countless others to do the same. Beauty in experiencing the presence of Jesus in a new way, a deeper way, through grief.  The reality of death and grief in this world is inescapable. But the hope provided in the truth of the gospel is real, and it is comforting me in ways I could never have imagined.

Tomorrow it will snow again, reminding me that winter is not quite done, in our land and in my heart. But today it is warm, reminding me that spring is coming, then my beloved summer. I am grateful for that hope. That this bitter winter, along with this deep, raw ache of this loss, will not last forever.

daddy_bw

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
Psalm 116:15 

twitterpinterestby feather

Photo(s) of Today

I know, I know, this little blog ‘o mine has been wildly neglected. I could give you a million reasons why, but I’ll just share 1…I’m in the middle of a major re-work of this little personal project that will incorporate a major announcement (major to me, at least). Hopefully it will be completed before or during the Christmas season. We shall see. In the meantime, I thought I’d share some special shots I took over the summer while visiting the farm. Just Matt’s first round of Senior Pictures. No big deal.

IMG_8064 IMG_8054 IMG_8295_1 IMG_8311 IMG_8330 IMG_8361_1 IMG_8394

He’s already changed so much since we took these photos in August.  As I did with his older brother, I’ll take some more closer to graduation. It will be interesting to compare the two sets.

So far, his Senior year has been less traumatic for me than I anticipated. God’s grace is evident to me as I feel him walking me through this awkward time of parenthood…the time where you try to let go and let them make more of their own decisions (and mistakes), trusting that you’ve guided them well and taught them the gospel as clearly as you can. Even as I type this, I feel a bit of anxiety creeping up in me, reminding me of all the lessons I wish I had taught him, and all the mistakes I wish I wouldn’t have made. But God’s peace is greater than the anxiety. He is reminding me that He loves Matthew more than I ever could, and He will be with him wherever he goes, to guide and protect him and lead him in His truth. And for that, I am grateful beyond words.

twitterpinterestby feather

Photo of Today…Memorial Day

TSgt Scott Konieczka, KC-10 Boom Operator, 1993

Memorial Day is an incredibly special day in America. It’s a day set aside to remember the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy in this amazing country. While driving to visit some friends today, we passed by a cemetery that was holding a Memorial Day Mass. There were flags lining the cemetery road, and several people standing outside the chapel. At that moment, I thanked God that my man was not among those who were being remembered, and I prayed for all the wives who lost their husbands to the horror of combat. May we be ever mindful that the freedom we continue to experience in this country comes at a high cost. Join me in praying for the families that are mourning their loved ones today.

 

 

twitterpinterestby feather

Photo of Today

It’s a reminiscing kind of morning here at the Polish Palace. I’ve been going through my hundreds of photo files and came across this little gem from 2 summers ago. You know, that time when our son and his cousins caught an alligator behind my Aunt Nell’s house? Crazy.

twitterpinterestby feather

Holy Week Snow

This past Sunday, Palm Sunday, began with a light pecking against our windows. Sleet was falling like tiny pellets from the gray sky, soon to be followed by the heaviest snow we’ve seen since we’ve lived in this area. When all was said and done, we’d received a twelve-inch-thick blanket of heavy, wet snow, outlining every twig and branch in our landscape.

Monday morning, my man was scheduled to leave on a morning flight to Charleston, SC. He woke up early and confirmed that the flight had not been cancelled, so we got up and prepared to make the snowy trek to the airport. The roads were surprisingly passable, and we made it there in plenty of time. I kissed my man and sent him on his way, then headed back to the East Side to get ready for work.

While driving along I-70, I marveled at how the snow had transformed such an industrial part of the city into something truly beautiful. Then I remembered that one of my favorite spots in the city, Bellefontaine Cemetery, was on my route home. I prayed that the gates would be open at such an early hour.

What I found when I arrived was truly spectacular. This is a historic cemetery that I have visited many times and am quite familiar with, but the snow had transformed it into something other-worldly. I drove around its winding streets for an hour, worshipping, snapping pictures with my iPhone and thanking God for such a precious gift on the second day of this snowy Holy Week.

Here are a few of the images that I captured. Even though I would prefer to begin this season with some warmer temperatures, tulips and buds on the trees…signs of awakening that are associated with celebrating the resurrection, this particular morning was a precious gift from our Savior, whose blood cleanses us whiter than snow.

Amen.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20, ESV)

twitterpinterestby feather

This is 40

Last week, I hit the big 4-0. It seems to have crept up on me, like a villain. All of the sudden, I looked in the mirror and there it was, staring me squarely in the face. And quite honestly, I’m totally ok with it.

Here are the fun things I’ve found myself coming to terms with in my 40th year:
1. The lines on my face are much more defined, especially around my mouth and eyes and neck.
2. What used to be considered “reading glasses” have become “necessary to see all things” glasses. I can’t even give myself a proper pedicure without wearing them.
3. Things I used to see as “hobbies for old people” have become my most treasured activities (gardening, reading).
4. Our son is in his junior year of high school.
5. Recently I was asked if I was our pastor’s mom (I’m only 10 years older than he). Two days earlier I was asked if I was his wife’s mom.

While all of these little “issues” could be a little disheartening and drive a person to the nearest botox center, I can honestly say that I am enjoying this stage of my life. There is a sense of contentment that I feel that I never experienced in my younger years. The lines on my face have mostly been developed through laughter. My glasses are a cool accessory that make me look smart while hiding the dark, puffy circles under my eyes. Gardening is a calming and therapeutic activity that reminds me of my roots and keeps me connected to God’s creation. Reading keeps my mind active and continually exposes me to great wisdom. Our teenage son is growing more and more mature and independent by the day, making the time we have left with him more about connecting with his heart and less about meeting his basic needs.

The one thing that I feel most grateful for during this milestone year is this: my community. And by community I don’t mean the geographical location where I reside. I mean the people God has placed around me to share in all the joys and sorrows of life. My birthday was filled with so much love from my family and friends…phone calls, sweet visits, THREE birthday cakes (thankfully spread out over a few days) thoughtful gifts…The only sadness I felt was due to the absence of my most precious friend, my man, who got called to go on a last-minute business trip over my birthday week. But honestly, he showered so much love on me the weekend before, I couldn’t even be too sad that he was gone on my actual birthday. It was a sweet day that ended with some of my dearests meeting me for a fun dinner.

To know and be known, to love and be loved…these are truly the most precious gifts.
I have a feeling that 40 is going to be my favorite.

twitterpinterestby feather

Photo of Today

These cows crack me up…it’s like the one in the front is checking me out, the one directly behing him is sheepishly peeking to see if all is well, and one behind him is gossiping about what’s about to go down.
Honestly, they really only wanted to see if I was going to give them some treats,
which I didn’t. So they walked away as soon as I snapped this photo.
Silly animals.

twitterpinterestby feather
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial