Thursday, December 30, 2010

Interview with Indie Artist, Alisa Turner

Here is another interview my friends and I did on our e-zine, The Waking (which is currently on hiatus while we move to a different location), back in 2008 with an incredible indie artist, Alisa Turner. We first discovered Alisa's beautiful music on MySpace and became instant fans of her piano driven sound and very honest lyrics. Plus we were really intrigued by her tour called "Performance and Pancakes", where everyone sits down to enjoy a nice pancake dinner before Alisa performs! How awesome is that? We were really happy to be able to do this interview with her, where she talks honestly and openly about her music and her life. I think you'll be very blessed by reading this interview, I know we at The Waking were! :)


TW: Alisa, first of all, thanks for doing this interview with us. We love introducing people to great artists! So tell us how you first you started singing and performing as an indie artist?

Alisa: Well I took piano lessons as a little girl but with my father being a pastor and us always on the move, it was hard to keep up with lessons and finding teacher's. Eventually I just started fooling around on the piano by myself and discovered being creative and making stuff up and I've never stopped : } I never took voice lessons, just kind of sang all my life everywhere I went... Songwriting and singing is like that favorite Sweatshirt everyone's got, It just Fits!!!

TW: What made you want to take the indie route instead of signing with a label? And in what ways has it been challenging or rewarding?

Alisa: Well, to be honest, I never really chose it, All artist start off as indie. Some of us get picked up sooner than others and then there are some that refuse to sign and stay independent. There are many perks to staying on your own, But you still need a lot of help or it will eat you alive : } It takes EVRYTHING you've got And more to survive and have a shot at doing a dream like this. I definitely know that labels these days aren't what they use to be. Just because you get signed doesn't mean your going to do well and doesn't mean you won’t get dropped the next month. I'm very particular, But, if the right label came along with the right deal that benefitted both sides, I would most Definitely consider. This question is a little interesting, I've just been offered a record deal by Gotee Records/ Warner Bros. (Toby Macs label) But, we shall see what happens : }

TW: What is the inspiration behind your songs? Are a lot of the songs autobiographical?

Alisa: Allllll my songs so far are autobiographical. (and my what a long word : } Now I won’t say they will always be the rest of my life. As an artist, we like to create and be a story teller or even tell someone else's story. But I have to say, I never started out doing music because of my love of it or dreams of being a rockstar. I wrote because I was very sick growing up and in more pain than I'll ever be able to put into words, and writing was the only thing that kept me breathing, kept me going.

TW: We all loved "9 Verse Song", what was the inspiration and story behind that song?

Alisa: Awww haha I'm so so so happy to hear you guys liked it!!! Ya know I wrote that one night, after just being exhausted of feeling and thinking so many things that I never put into words. So...I gather all my bravery and guts and let it all out : } It was an Awesome moment and continues to be an awesome moment with each show I get to sing it at!

TW: What song is the most personal to you?

Alisa: Ummm gosh, they truly truly all are.... 9 vs Most definitely, songs about my father, but I would say one that I am most ummmm I guess protective of is Breathing. I was in so much pain and it truly was what kept me breathing that night... It was a very vulnerable moment, talking about suicide, ya don't hear that topic brought up much....

TW: I read in your blog that you recorded your EP with Don Chaffer of Waterdeep, what was the writing and recording process like? And what was it like working with Don?

Alisa: Oooo I just love Don. It was the Best so far experience of being in the studio. I didn't feel nervous or pressured or insecure, it was PArty CentRal!!!! We just had a blast and made it fun. In between each take, the most important topic of conversation was where were we going to be eating our next meal at ; } AND, I'm going back in the studio with him this January!!!!

TW: How can people purchase the EP? And are you planning on releasing a full length soon?

Alisa: You may go to ITunes to purchase it as well as attend of live show. Or you can MySpace me about it and send me in the mail your cash or check and I will mail one out to you!

TW: You've been doing a really interesting thing on your last tour, before your performance there's a pancake dinner. To sugar crazed people like us that sounds like the perfect pairing. Music and pancakes. It's such a unique and fun idea! Where did that idea come from and how have people responded?

Alisa: Well....pancakes were always a huge thing to us growing up. My dad was constantly making them for us, especially on Saturdays. After my daddies sudden passing, those memories and special things he did for us became even more special and started showing up in many songs. Then when we were planning these house shows, my booking agent suggested I throw in some pancakes to seal the deal since I sing about them and just truly Adore them and let's just say, they truly have sealed the deal. It is CRAZY how people have responded to the pancake thing. People on my MySpace will just leave me comments of their favorite kinds and stuff, its like the subject everyone's been wanting to talk about but never had the chance. And now they do : } yum!

TW: Do you make the pancakes or do you have someone else make them?

Alisa: Oh I LOVE making them, I love to cook and bake. Every now and then the host will take over, but I prefer to help if I can : }

TW: Well we just have to ask you, what are your favorite kinds of pancakes and do you have any recipes?

Alisa: Oh I'm a simple girl, a box mix is fine with me. Just Add Water : } I love just traditional pancakes, butter and syrup other secret love is throwing in some blueberries...OOOOOO a little piece of heaven!

TW: How did you first come to know the Lord? Did you grow up in a Christian family?

Alisa: My father was a pastor my whole life, I lived more in the churches we were at than my own home. I really think I asked the Lord into my heart probably a hundred times....From Sunday schools, to awanas, to my mom sharing it with me : } But ya know, just in the past 5-6 years am I really starting to understand that it’s not a religion or hobby, it’s not about what you do or don't do. Although some things may fall into those categories, but what's most important is that it’s personal. That He is alive and well and though this world is crazy and complex, His love is simple, unconditional and beyond words.... He is my best friend.

TW: Is it hard to keep your relationship with God strong while your out on the road? And what do you feel God's been teaching you lately?

Alisa: Ummm definitely not hard to keep it on the road. He goes everywhere I go, we experience so much on the road, I love it. Ya know it will probably take another interview to really give you a back round of my life and it’s journey but real quickly, I was born with Mercury Poisoning btu. We didn't find this out until I was 24yrs old. I was so sick growing up and by last winter I had MS and early Alzheimer's. I lost any and every ability because our medical community and FDA don't want to acknowledge there mistakes in fear of being sued. In short, satan really REALLY targeted me during many of these difficult years because I was so weak and sick, I couldn't put up much of a fight. It got to the point where I couldn't even read my bible... So my mom has been reading to me and explaining things. But everyday I feel him, he holds onto me. Once we found a doctor who really wanted to find the ROOT of my problems rather than just medicating my symptoms, I am Finally recovering. I do special treatments every week. So slowly but surely I'm getting to know what life was suppose to really be all along and I’m getting to experience God as it was Also suppose to be....

TW: On the road I know you come in contact with so many young people. What is the common thread between all the stories you hear from them?

Alisa: Well wow.....I've heard sooooooooo many stories. A lot of pain is what I hear and feel but what's most common and troubling is that many and most of them don't have proper tools and support around them to process what's going on and what to do. A lot of them turn to cutting and eating disorders and much much more....They need support. A hug. Someone to listen.....

TW: What struggles have you faced that you feel makes it easier to relate to people, and minister to people at your shows?

Alisa: Well due to being sick, I experienced a lot of depression and anxiety among other very scary things. You don't hear many artist talking about such issues in their shows, it is a little bit of a downer subject BUT, these girls and guys are so desperate for real, for something and someone to relate, so they are glued to me on stage when I get to talking about that in my show.

TW: What do you feel is the biggest problem facing young people today?

Alisa:  Ummm ya know....there are issues unfortunately popular like cutting, there's issues with Hollywood lifestyles that are unreasonable, BUT I really don't think those are the issues. Kids start pursuing things like that when something in them isn't being properly addressed. Perhaps bad home environment, loss and grief any many other things....And again, when they don't have a healthy home life or spiritual life and things like that, they start to feel lost and they start looking for quick fixes. Relief....they get desperate.

TW: Last question, ministry of any kind can really be stressful and challenging at times. When your trying to do anything for the Lord the enemy really tries to attack.Tell us how we can hold you up in prayer?

Alisa: Well boy o boy you are definitely right about the enemy attacking! I would just love prayer that God would continue to give me direction in healing and providing financially for my healthcare so that I can keep doing what I'm doing...

To hear Alisa's music and see where you can catch her on tour go to:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things … At Christmastime!

Hope everyone had a very merry Christmas! Can’t believe it’s already over…I’m so not ready to see all the decorations come down yet. :( But then again I never am. I had a very nice Christmas this year though! Not only Christmas day but the whole season has just been a lot of fun. For some reason I’ve always thought the days leading up to Christmas are almost more fun than Christmas day itself. Anyone else agree? … I guess it’s the anticipation. Since the season is wrapping up, and in just a few days we will enter a new year (hello 2011…can’t believe you came so fast!), I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorite things about the holiday!

Our Christmas Tree ~



I don’t know about you, but to me it’s just not Christmas without a real tree… what can I say? It’s how I was raised. My mom has always wanted an artificial but it’s a concept that my dad, my sister, and I just cannot grasp. Every year since I was young we always try to get the biggest and fattest tree we can find. This year however I think we might have gone a bit overboard as we didn’t realize just how tall this tree was until we got it into the house. We came to that conclusion after the top bent against the ceiling lol. My dad had to cut it a bit just to fit the angel on…but I think it turned out pretty good if I do say so myself. :)

Christmas Ornaments ~



Over the years my family and I have garnered quite an extensive collection of Christmas ornaments… as you can see lol. What I love most about them is how so many of them have a story or a special significance. It makes our tree feel personalized.

My mom bought me the castle ornament above because of the special significance it has for me. When I was a kid my favorite thing to watch at Christmas was a cartoon called “Christmas Everyday”. It’s about a little girl named Tilly who is given a magic castle to hang on her tree. The Christmas fairy who lives inside the castle grants her the wish of Christmas everyday…and of course chaos ensues. I don’t know if any of you have seen or remember this, but it aired on TV in 1987 and my mom taped it for me. It may be a little silly but even now at 26 years old it just isn’t Christmas till I watch it! So my mom bought the castle ornament in honor of my love for this cute little Christmas cartoon. :)

 Spending time with friends ~

The holidays are always a great time to get together with friends you don’t get the chance to see that often. My sister and I were so happy to have our good friends from Austin, Amanda and Amber, make the trip to our town to hang out for a bit! We had a great time talking and laughing, going out to lunch, exchanging gifts, and decorating sugar cookies! :)


Me, Amanda, and my sister, Cecily, at the bay in my town.


Me, Amber, and Cecily


Our um…adorable…sugar cookies lol. :P They were actually pretty delish!

My dad’s White Chocolate Raspberry Cake ~


It’s just not Christmas unless I have a slice of my dad’s White Chocolate Raspberry Cake. It’s a Christmas tradition in our home. This is a photo of the cake he made this Christmas. It was heavenly!

Our kitchen table all set for Christmas dinner ~



These are a couple photos of our kitchen table right before we sat down to eat this Christmas. A special touch was that we used my grandma’s red Christmas table cloth she always used when my sister and I were young.

The smell of the holidays ~

Spice Aroma Therapy (Homemade Potpourri)

My mom used to make this homemade potpourri in her pretty glass teapot. I remember loving the smell, it smelled exactly like the holidays. This is perfect for when you have guests over or when you just have a relaxing evening at home. Simmer your favorite combination of these ingredients in your infuser with a full teapot of water.

Whole Nutmeg

Cinnamon Sticks


Vanilla beans

Apple Slices

Orange Wedges

Lemon Wedges

Bay Leaves

Hot Chocolate ~


Who doesn’t love hot chocolate? If Tx didn’t get so hot I would drink hot chocolate all year round. :) A couple weeks ago my family and I bought some of this Hershey’s Bliss Raspberry Hot Chocolate for our Christmas movie night. It was pretty delish actually! We topped it off with gingerbread marshmallows…too cute!

While instant hot chocolate can be good, let’s get real, homemade is just way better. Here’s a great recipe I found on one of my favorite food blogs Just Cook Already. My sister loves anything with sweetened condensed milk in it so I knew it was a good recipe to try. We made some the other night and it was really good, rich but not too sweet. Give it a try!

Hot Chocolate ~

(Recipe found @

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
5 cups warm milk* (warm in microwave or in pot on stovetop)

In a large pot, stir together the condensed milk, vanilla, salt and cocoa powder.Slowly whisk in the milk. Heat through on medium-low until warm.

Top with marshmallows, homemade whipped cream, or marshmallow fluff.

Home For Christmas by Nsync ~


Yes, you read that right…Nsync. Believe it or not but these guys did a great job with 1998’s “Home For Christmas”, and it’s honestly one of the best Christmas cd’s I’ve heard. They really do the originals like “The First Noel”, “The Christmas Song”, and “Oh Holy Night” (which is beautiful with their 5 part harmonies) justice. And they also have great originals like “It’s Christmas”, “Under My Tree”, and title track, “Home For Christmas”. This cd has a lot of good memories attached to it for me. I bought this tape (yes, tape ;) in Christmas ‘98 and my cousins and I loved it. And still to this day we listen to it every Christmas. I like to think it’s the memories attached to it that really make it so special. :)

Boo Humbug by Rene Gutteridge ~


This book has become a holiday tradition for me! About month ago I wrote a review for the first book in this series called “Boo”. Well “Boo Humbug” is the fabulous Christmas edition, as well as the final book in this quirky and hilarious series by author, Rene Gutteridge. The tag line is "Christmas is scarier than you think". For those of you who've never heard of the "Boo" series, they center around a newly converted horror writer named Wolfe Boone or "Boo", as he's referred to in the books. "A Christmas Carol with a horror twist" says the back cover. This crazy Christmas installment of the "Boo" series finds Skary resident, Lois Stepaphanopolis, gathering the towns people together to put on a Christmas production "like no other"...that doesn't end up going quite as planned. This book, as well as the whole series, is sure to keep you laughing out loud the whole way through. "Boo Humbug" became my favorite book to pick up around the holidays. You can't help but be entertained by the witty dialogue and crazy antics. It’s a great book to get you right in the spirit of Christmas.

To purchase "Boo Humbug" Click Here

Hallmark Channel Christmas movies! ~

The Hallmark Channel has been giving Christmas movies everyday since early November. To be honest, I thought I would be sick of them by early December. But now it’s a few days till January and I’m still loving them… thank you Hallmark! :)

 My mom’s tendency to decorate EVERYTHING for Christmas ~


Yes, that is the Pillsbury Dough Boy with a Santa hat on. My mom decorates everything for Christmas…even the cookie jar gets a festive holiday touch. ;)

Wrapping gifts while watching “A Christmas Story” on Christmas Eve ~

I may not be very good at it but I love wrapping gifts! My favorite thing to do on Christmas Eve is wrapping gifts while watching “A Christmas Story” on TV.

Baking with my mom and sister ~

Nothing beats being in the kitchen baking and cooking at Christmastime with two of my very favorite people. :)

Sirius XM’s Christmas stations ~

As I’m typing this I’m listening to Amy Grant sing “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” on Sirius XM’s Christmas station. :) All season long Sirius devotes quite a few of their stations to playing nothing but Christmas tunes. They even have one that just plays Christmas songs by all Christian artists. Maybe a little cheesy…but I must say I will be sad to see them go after New Years.

The lyrics to Oh Holy Night ~

The lyrics to this beautiful Christmas song always make me stop and remember the true meaning of Christmas. The powerful and sacred words remind me of why I’m celebrating…who I’m celebrating. It reminds me to worship my Savior, Jesus Christ, who came to earth as a baby to die for the sins of the world. This good news is felt in every note of this song as it proclaims our Savior. This is one of the most worshipful Christmas songs ever written.

“Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother. And in His name all oppression shall cease.”

The Bay in my town all decorated for Christmas ~


In the tiny town I live in we really only have one attraction…and that is our pretty bay front. It’s where people go to fish, go boating, jog, or just take a stroll. It’s really nice all year round but at Christmastime, I think it just becomes even more pretty and calming.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Traditions and Family Legacy

(This is a blog I wrote last year and posted it on The Waking but never posted it here. I wrote it as I was reflecting upon all that God had done in and for my family through the years. I hope you enjoy reading it!)

The Holidays have felt a little more reflective and a little more special to me this year. Christmas is my very favorite holiday and this time of year is always special to me. I can be quite sentimental and a bit of a cheese ball when it comes to Christmas. I'm very big on tradition. I love decorating the tree with my mom and sister every year (we always get a really big tree), drinking hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music. Laugh at me all you want but I'm not afraid to admit that "Home For Christmas" by *Nsync will forever be my favorite Christmas cd lol. And I find great Christmas cheer by torturing my sister with it every year (insert evil laugh here) ;). I've always loved all this time of year brings and it's always meant a lot to me. But this year it's starting to mean a lot of new and different things to me as well.

Christmas this year has me thinking a lot about tradition, and even more than that, it has me thinking about legacy.

This year was the very first Thanksgiving that my family and I haven't spent at my grandma's house. My grandma is almost 90 years old, my dad and my aunts take turns caring for her. She hasn't been doing very good for some time now, but in these past few months it seems like it's been a pretty fast deterioration. And to be honest, in the back of my mind, I wonder if this is the last holiday season we'll share with her. The week of Thanksgiving my aunt was taking care of her. So this year, my parents, my sister Cecily, and I spent our first Thanksgiving at home. Don't get me wrong, we had a really good Thanksgiving. It just really got me thinking.

It got me thinking about the childhood holidays that seemed to be centered around my grandparents and the home they filled with so much love and good food. It made me remember the many Christmases my whole family would pile into my grandparents tiny kitchen, (which seemed to get smaller and smaller as we all gathered in. If any of my cousins are reading this, you know exactly what I'm talking about.) standing around the dinner table to pray over the meal we were about to share, thanking God for all the things he had done for us. God was at the center of everything. It made me reminisce about the loving hands of my grandparents who prepared most of the meal for us. I still remember like it was yesterday, my grandma in the kitchen on Christmas Eve making her dressing, (a special recipe passed down from her mother. My family is spoiled to this dressing.) my grandpa always right there next to her, helping her cook. They were good cooks. Everything always smelled so good...and tasted even better. It made me sad to think of that very same home that used to be filled with so much noise and laughter during the holidays, to now be sitting completely dark and empty.

I know that's life. Things change and move on. And Holidays that were once spent crammed into your grandparents house with your whole family fade away. ...But it's still a little sad.

I miss my grandparents. Even though my grandma is still here, she is of course, not the same as she used to be. She can't really hold conversations anymore, and I miss talking to her. In so many ways I feel like I've already lost her. I miss my grandpa, who passed away in June of 2005. He was such a sweet and gentle man who truly loved the Lord. I miss his sweet smile and his hugs.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the legacy they have left my family and I. I looked up to both of them. My parents, my sister, and I lived with them for the first 16 years of my life, so I was very privileged to get to see their day to day lives. They weren't perfect, but I can truly say that they loved and served God with all their hearts. My grandma was the prayer warrior of our family. Everyone would tell her what they needed prayer for and she would write the requests down in her notebook and pray for them each morning. My grandpa was a musician. He played the saxophone really well and would often play in church. His most played song being "When The Saints Go Marching In". It makes me smile now to think of how I would sometimes wake up to him practicing his saxophone at 7:00 in the morning. It was so loud, I would put my pillow over my head to try and drown out the noise and maybe go back to never worked lol. Now I miss waking up to the smell of coffee and the loud but pretty sound of my grandpa's saxophone.

It's not only in the special details and good's so much more than even that. The legacy that they left me was being built before I was even born. You see, my grandpa was an alcoholic. Him and my grandma went through a lot because of his problem. He truly wanted help, he really didn't want to be that way. He went away to rehab, but that didn't help him. Him and my grandma even looked to witchcraft to free him of his alcoholism, but he walked away just as addicted as before. It wasn't until later in his life, when he and my grandma, my dad, as well as all my aunts and uncles met Jesus. That was when everything changed for them. When my grandpa gave his life over to God, he was finally set free. Jesus delivered him from his addiction, and he never took even a sip of alcohol ever again. Praise God, for He is the one true Deliverer.

Our family was founded on the salvation and deliverance of God almighty. I don't ever want to lose sight of that. My family and I have been left with such a rich legacy built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. And my prayer this Christmas, is that no one in my family ever forgets that. My prayer is that my sister and I, our parents, our aunts & uncle's, our cousins - and now their children, will all carry on this beautiful, Godly legacy in our lives.

Not only was I left with a Godly legacy on my dad's side, but also on my mom's side, from grandparents I unfortunately didn't get the privilege to know very well. My grandpa (my mom's dad) was a preacher who, along with my grandma, gave his life to God in his teen years. He touched a lot of people's lives with his ministry. Both him and my grandma lived their lives devoted to the Lord, and raised their 15 children to do the same. Some of my uncles even followed in my grandpa's footsteps and became preachers like him. In 1996, my grandpa passed away from Alzheimer's disease, and my grandma passed away in 2001 from breast cancer. I wish I had known them. I look forward to spending time with them in Heaven someday. But for now I know them from the many wonderful stories my mom has told my sister and I. There's one particular photo my mom has that speaks on the Godly legacy they left behind. It's a black and white photo of my grandpa in a lake baptizing someone. I love that photo.

I feel very honored and blessed to have these beautiful and Godly legacies to carry on. This Christmas, I can't help but think on what legacy I want to leave with my life. I guess I hope at the end of my life people will say some of the same things about me that was said of my grandparents. I hope people will say "She wasn't perfect but she lived her life striving to become more like Jesus every day, and I saw glimpses of Him in her eyes".

So this Christmas I ask you, what legacy do you want to leave with your life?


                                                           Merry Christmas!

My Grandparents on my Dad’s side:

06-30-2010 08;25;52PM




06-30-2010 08;25;03PM



My Grandparents on my Mom’s side:

07-21-2010 12;16;12AM




07-21-2010 12;12;48AM

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Top 6 Christmas Treats!

I love baking all year around but there’s just something about baking at the holidays that feels even more fun. And yes, I’m a total cheese ball and have the Christmas music playing while I bake! :) It wouldn’t be the holidays if I didn’t get a chance to get in my kitchen with my mom and sister and bake all our favorite Christmas treats! We all have our traditional treats that we bake ever year, treats that our mom or grandma used to make…which always makes it extra special. It’s the time of year we get out all the favorite family recipes, and actually get an excuse to indulge in them. This is a list of 6 of my favorite treats to make at the holidays, the ones I look forward to every year. Hope you enjoy and I would love to know what some of your favorites are! :)

1. White Chocolate Raspberry Cake


This cake is a Christmas tradition in our home…it’s Christmas to me. I’ve never personally made this cake, but my dad makes it every year. Our whole family is in love with this cake. I love and look forward to it every Christmas. It's beyond delish! Since it is a tradition in our family I wanted to post the recipe...the only problem is that this is a recipe my dad just came up with on his own. So it's a little hard to tell other people how to make it. However, I’m going to attempt to try just because you should experience this yummy cake for yourself!


1 white cake mix

2 bags white chocolate chips

2 large Cool Whips

1 jar raspberry preserves

2 bags frozen raspberries


Prepare and bake cake mix according to package directions. Let cake
cool, then cut in half to make two layers. Spread a layer of raspberry preserves over first layer of cake. Melt one bag of white chocolate chips and quickly beat them into one of the large Cool Whips, spread over preserves.

Next, cover the whole first layer with frozen raspberries. Add on the second layer of cake. Melt second bag of white chocolate chips and beat with the remaining Cool Whip. Spread over the whole cake.

You can decorate the top of the cake by piping more frosting on the boarder of the cake, and putting raspberries in the middle. Keep refrigerated.

2. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake


(Recipe found @

My sister and I made this delish cheesecake for the first time on New Years Eve a few years ago for a family get together. It was a hit...therefore we only got one piece. So the next day we decided to make it again, only this time, keep it all for ourselves (Insert evil laugh). Don't be selfish like us. Share with your family. Or just make two. ;)



1-3/4 cups chocolate chips cookies or chocolate wafer crumbs

1/4 cup of sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted


3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1 cup of sugar

3 eggs

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

(Cookie Dough)

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 tbs. water

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1-1/2 cups miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided


In a small bowl, combine cookie crumbs and sugar; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom and 1 in. up the sides of a greased 9-in. spring form pan; set aside.

In a mixing bow, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low just until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla; beat just until blended. Pour over crust; set aside.

In another mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars on medium speed for 3 minuets. Add water and vanilla. Gradually add flour. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls over filling, gently pushing dough below the surface (dough should be completely covered by filling).

Bake at 350 degrease for 45-55 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight; remove sides of pan. Sprinkle with remaining chips. Yield: 12-14 servings.

3. Chocolate Truffles


I don’t know about you, but I Love chocolate truffles! This is a really easy and delish recipe that my sister and I make every year. We roll them in everything from Butterfinger and M&M’s, to Christmassy sprinkles, cocoa, and walnuts. 


1 package (2 cups) Semi-sweet Chocolate chips

1/4 cup sour cream

crushed assorted candies

cocoa powder


Melt Choc. chips over small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream, blend well. Refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes or until mixture is easy to handle.

Using hands or melon baller,roll mixture into 3/4 inch balls; roll into cocoa powder, assorted crushed candies, or nuts. Place in paper candy cups, if desired. Store in airtight container in refrigerator up to 4 weeks.

4. Chocolate Cookie Bark


(Recipe found @

This yummy Chocolate Cookie Bark is one of my favorite treats to make at the holidays! It’s so quick and easy to whip up. I love the way the peanut butter tastes with the white chocolate, it’s such a delish combo! When my sister and I made this bark a couple weeks ago we had some of the white chocolate/peanut butter mix left over so we decided to dip some Oreos … and let me tell you, they were amazing! We topped them with little snowflake sprinkles, and voila, a cute and easy holiday treat! :)


2 Tbsp. peanut butter

1 pkg. 6 squares BAKER'S White Chocolate melted

10 OREO Cookies, crumbled, divided 1 pkg. 

8 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted


ADD peanut butter to white chocolate; stir until well blended. Stir 1/2 the cookies into each bowl of chocolate.

DROP spoonfuls of the chocolate mixtures onto waxed paper-covered baking sheet, alternating colors of chocolates. Swirl with knife.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces.

5. Cappuccino Cream Cheese Brownies


(Recipe & photo found @

I know most people don’t think about brownies much at the holidays, but these Cappuccino Cream Cheese Brownies just smell and taste like the holidays to me! For starters, brownies and cream cheese are just a heavenly combo, but what makes it even better are the warm flavors of the coffee and cinnamon! Plus it’s just fun swirling the cream cheese in the brownie batter. :)


4 squares BAKER'S Unsweetened Chocolate

3/4 cup 1-1/2 sticks butter or margarine

2-1/3 cups sugar divided

5 eggs, divided

3 Tbsp. MAXWELL HOUSE Instant Coffee, any variety

1 tsp. vanilla

1-1/4 cups flour

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. flour

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon


PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Microwave chocolate and butter in large
microwavable bowl on HIGH 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in 2 cups of the sugar. Add 4  of the eggs, coffee granules and vanilla; mix well. Stir in 1-1/4 cups of the flour. Spread into greased foil-lined 13x9-inch baking pan.

BEAT cream cheese, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, remaining egg, 2 Tbsp. flour and cinnamon in same bowl until well blended. Spoon over brownie batter. Swirl with knife to marbleize.

BAKE 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cool in pan; cut into 24 squares. Store leftover brownies in refrigerator.

6. Divinity


(Photo found @

This is Paula Deen's Divinity recipe which happens to be exactly like the recipe my mom makes every year. It can be a little tricky, I have never attempted to do it myself, I always leave it to my mom. She seems to always make it perfectly. Keep in mind, weather is definitely a factor to the way this candy turns out. I love swirling it with chocolate, it just makes it more decadent in my opinion (although everything is better with chocolate to me ;). Try this candy out I think you'll really love it.


4 cups sugar

1 cup white corn syrup

3/4 cup cold water

3 egg whites

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

2 cups chopped pecans


In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Stir only until sugar has dissolved. Do not stir after this point. Cook syrup mixture until it reaches 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer, bringing it to a hard ball stage.

While the syrup is cooking, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Once the sugar mixture reaches 250 degrees F, carefully pour a slow steady stream of syrup into the stiffly beaten egg whites, beating constantly at high speed. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until mixture holds its shape, approximately 5 minutes. Stir in pecans.

Using 2 spoons, drop the divinity onto waxed paper, using 1 spoon to push the candy off the other. This may take a little practice because the technique is to twirl the pushing spoon, making the candy look like the top of a soft serve ice cream. If the candy becomes too stiff, add a few drops of hot water. You will need to work fast when making this type of candy.

After you spoon the cooked sugar and nuts onto the waxed paper, you're done. Cool the candies on racks completely. You can store
them in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ornament Exchange!



These are a couple photos I snapped of the very cute Christmas ornament I received in the ornament exchange hosted by Kate McDonald of the blog, The Accidental Traveler!

One of my favorite things to do at this time of year is search the stores looking for cute ornaments to add to the somewhat extensive collection my family and I have accumulated over the years. So when I read about Kate’s exchange I signed up right away! It was so fun to buy an ornament for someone else this year! I loved shopping for it and writing them a little note. It was also fun to have a cute ornament to hang on my tree that was picked out by a complete stranger. It kind of makes the blogging world feel more interactive. This is such a fun holiday idea and I definitely hope to participate again next year! :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Standing Before Love

I wanted to share with you guys a lyric I wrote with my cousin, Pam, a few Christmas’s ago.

Every year my church (which my dad is the pastor of) puts on a Christmas play. My sister, Cecily, and I are the ones who organize them, and for the past 3 or 4 years, have been writing our own plays. It’s always an interesting experience… trust me … it would probably make you laugh if you saw my sister and I writing our plays. It usually involves lots of late night hours, random fits of laughter, and way too much Christmas candy lol. Anyway, that year we wrote a play about a girl who didn’t believe in God anymore because of her doubts, one of them being about the virgin birth. She couldn’t believe that Jesus really did exist, and that he actually came to earth in the form of a baby. She has a dream in which she gets to walk a mile in Mary’s shoes so to speak. We named the play after a song we love by Joy Williams called “2000 Decembers Ago”.

192 (2)

(Cecily and I with the “2000 Decembers Ago” play programs)

While we were writing the play I had seen an interview on Tv with Lacy Mosley of the band Flyleaf. In the interview she talked about how she used to be an atheist when she was younger, and how she almost committed suicide. But she decided to first go to church with her grandma who had been asking her attend. At church she felt God touch her heart and gave her life to the Lord that night. She said that she couldn’t explain what she felt at church that night, but it wasn’t logic, it was faith. And that she felt like she was standing before love. That statement as well as her testimony so inspired me and touched my heart. It reminded me of the girl in our play, so I wrote down what Lacy said in my journal.      

I was hanging out with my cousin, Pam, a few days later and she read the play that Cecily and I wrote. We were talking about the play and I also told her about the interview that I saw of Lacy. We both felt so inspired that we sat down and wrote this lyric. Knowing Pam she’s probably forgotten about this lyric by now lol, but it’s special to me because we wrote it together, and because it was inspired by important things. So I hope you guys enjoy reading it!

Standing Before Love

How do I accept it? How do I just believe? How do I speak of faith when it’s not even a part of me? I need verification for things I just can’t see. If only trust came so easily.


I can’t explain it but all I know is I’m standing before love. Standing before love. It’s not logic, it’s faith, I’m standing on the mystery of your grace. And I can’t see my doubt from above, all I know is, I’m standing before love. Standing before love.

For so long it sounded like make believe. A savior born in a manger was just a fairytale to me. How can you serve a savior you’re not even sure is real? How can you get past a story and make it something you feel?

{Repeat Chorus}

If only I could see what the angels saw that day. If only I could walk into that manger where he laid. If only I could believe as Mary had believed. If only I could fall down and worship you on my knees.

{Repeat Chorus 2x}

© Krystal Celeste

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Favorite Christmas Songs & Movies!

Ah, it’s that time of year again! Christmas has always been my favorite holiday! There’s so much to love about the season. But two of my very favorite things about this time of year have got to be all the great music and movies! And yes, I’m one of those people who start listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies (Yay Hallmark Channel!) as early as possible! :) Below is a list of some of my favorite Christmas songs and movies! Hope you guys are enjoying the holiday season! :)


My Christmas Playlist ~

There are so many sounds to Christmas… I love that the music of the season ranges from fun and cheerful, to soft and quiet, to almost ethereal and mysterious in sound. Sounds that seem to embody all the emotions of the season. This is a playlist of some of my Christmas staples as well as some new favorites. I tried to limit this playlist to 20 songs…I really did, but there are just too many good ones that I couldn’t bear to leave off the list! lol

1. Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year by Rosie Thomas

2. I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm by Billie Holiday

3. Man With The Bag by Vonda Shepard

4. Christmas Don’t Be Late by Molly Jenson

5. Santa Baby by Madonna

6. All I Want For Christmas Is You by House of Heroes

7. Baby, Please Come Home by Anberlin

8. Christmas Eve(Sarajevo 12/24) by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

9. God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman by Barenaked Ladies featuring Sarah Mclachlan

10. Christmastime Is Here by Sixpence None The Richer

11. 2000 Decembers Ago by Joy Williams

12. Wishing For This by Leigh Nash

13. Little Drummer Boy by The Almost

14. I Celebrate The Day by Relient K

15. You’re Here by Francesca Battistelli

16. Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

17. What Child Is This by Kenny G

18. Oh Holy Night by Rebecca St. James

19. Let It Snow/Sleigh Ride by Point of Grace

20. Don’t Save It All For Christmas Day by Avalon

21. No Christmas For Me by Zee Avi

22. It’s Christmas by Nsync

23. My Favorite Things by Tony Bennet

24. What Are You Doing On New Years Eve by Harry Connick Jr. or Ella Fitzgerald

25. Happy Holidays by Peggy Lee


Review: "The Christmas Classics" EP by House Of Heroes ~


House Of Heroes singing a Mariah Carey song? May sound a little odd, but it's a fun surprise you get to hear on the bands three song EP, aptly named, "The Christmas Classics", which released last Christmas. The EP starts off with the Mariah Carey Christmas classic "All I Want For Christmas Is You". I was a little surprised to hear them sing this song as I've never heard a guy sing it before. But in my opinion, they really do it justice. Lead singer, Tim Skipper's smooth vocals sound awesome on this song. Yes, ladies, you will swoon. ;) Next is the song "Silent Night", which the guys kept traditional. The background vocals on this song was a highlight to me. Last song, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", sounds traditional all the way through until the end when the guitars pick up and Tim's rock vocal kicks the song into high gear. It may just be three songs but it's a must have for any House Of Heroes fan. Plus, this digital only EP is only $1.98 on If you like traditional Christmas songs with a little twist this is the EP for you.

To purchase this EP Click Here

Best Original Christmas Songs ~

1. I Celebrate The Day by Relient K

2. 2000 Decembers Ago by Joy Williams

3. To Be With You by Sara Groves

4. Wishing For This by Leigh Nash

5. Why Can't It Be Christmastime All Year by Rosie Thomas

6. Hibernate by Jars Of Clay

7. You're Here by Francesca Batteselli

8. Don’t Save It All For Christmas Day by Avalon

9. Christmas Is All In The Heart by Steven Curtis Chapman

10. Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

Christmas Cd’s and Eps To Check Out ~

Tracks In The Snow – The Civil Wars (Free @ )

Advent Christmas Ep, Vol. 2 – Future Of Forestry

Happy Christmas Vol. 5 – Various Artists

O Holy Night Tour: Live The Prison Show – Sara Groves (Free @

Over The Hills And Everywhere: A Christmas EP – SeaBird

Songs For Christmas – Phil Wickham

No Gift To Bring - The Almost

The Silent Night EP - Seabird

The Family Force 5 Christmas Pageant - Family Force 5

Punk Rawk Christmas - MXPX

Christmas EP - Aaron Shust

Gloria EP - Hawk Nelson

My Holiday - Mindy Smith

A Very Rosie Christmas - Rosie Thomas

Wishing For This - Leigh Nash

My Top 5 Christmas Movies ~

1. The Christmas List ~


Though this movie aired on The Family Channel in 1997, it’s still one of my very favorites! My family and I watch it every year.

2. The Santa Clause ~


Who doesn’t love this movie? It’s a Christmas tradition.

3. Christmas With The Kranks ~


This movie can always make me laugh! A new favorite in the last few years. 

4. A Christmas Story ~


Ah, a classic! My family and I leave it on TBS every Christmas Eve for 24 hours of this quirky movie. It’s simply not Christmas unless I get to wrap gifts while watching A Christmas Story. :)

5. Eve’s Christmas ~


I’ve loved this made for Tv Christmas movie ever since I saw it on Lifetime in 2005. Now it’s a must see for me every year!



Monday, December 6, 2010

Rejoicing In The Fall of Another

As I was surfing the net last night I came across a story on a popular Christian forum I browse every once in a while. The story was of yet another prominent Televangelist who admitted to having an affair. He and his wife decided to publically speak about the affair that happened years ago instead of paying hush money to someone who was blackmailing them.... is this the ministry or a soap opera?  They said it was a very painful time in their marriage but that after counseling, and new found accountability from people in their ministry, they were able to find restoration in their marriage.

But to be honest, I think what I was more disgusted with was not the admission of an affair.... it was the reaction of fellow believers on that forum. They seemed to be delighting in it, almost giddy at the news. They made jokes about it, posted up other rumors they had read, as well as names of other preachers who have been in that same situation. Then they said we should pray for them. The whole "Let's gossip first and pray later" thing we Christians can be so good at. But is this sort of reaction troubling to anyone else?

You know, for the minister there is no justifying what he did, and he knows it. The truth is out because what is done in darkness will always come to light. He's not trying to justify it anymore but is now apologizing for it. And you know what? If he has sincerely repented of the affair, God has not only forgiven it, but forgotten it as well. But we however, us fellow believers who watch this on TV and read about it on the internet, it gives us a prime opportunity to be self righteous. We don't easily forgive and we certainly don't forget.

If only just for a little while, it gives us a chance to forget about our sins and short comings to focus on his. We can feel like "good little Christians" for just a little while. We judge him and his ministry and it feels good for the time being. But God forbid all of our secrets come to light, God forbid our skeletons happen to be forced out into the open. We all sin and fall short of His glory, yes even ministers, but at least we don't have millions of people watching, waiting, and rejoicing when it happens. 

When we do this, aren't we forgetting that he and his family are humans just like everyone else? .... They are not perfect or infallible. They have pain in their lives, things to figure out and get right, just like everyone else. Ministers and their families already carry a much heavier load because of the sheer weight of that responsibility. Without a healthy spiritual life and Godly accountability, it’s a breeding ground for sin.

The guilt, regret, and public shame he is facing, the pain and embarrassment his wife is facing, the hurt and possible anger his children are facing... that's all ignored. In all our gossip we have forgotten this is a real family who needs our prayer and support. Not our slander.

We are all sinners saved only by grace. No one is ever beyond the reach of temptation. We are all susceptible to evil because of the fall. And I don't think people realize that the enemy will attack you 10 times harder when you're in the ministry. Spiritual warfare is a very real thing. And spiritual warfare is what goes on behind the scenes.... you just don't see it.

We've created a church devoid of accountability and we wonder why we fall.
We've created a church full of fakes and frauds who are terrified of being found out, and we wonder why we fall.
We've created a church full of secrets and we wonder why we fall.
We've created a church full of gossip and lies and we wonder why we fall.

And this will only continue on if we do not make it safe and okay for ministers, as well as fellow believers, to come clean and be honest about what they are struggling with, without fear of being judged. No more secrets. No more lies. No more shadows, and darkened shrouds.... but light.

We are all the body of Christ, yet we turn on each other. But we are still brothers and sisters in Him, beautiful and broken as we may be. Some are running this race strong after Christ and praise God for that! But still, others are walking, some barely crawling, and some will fall away completely. But God help us if we ever find ourselves rejoicing in that.

God help us, your body of believers, brothers and sister in you,  to never turn against each other. But instead, help lead each other out of the darkness and further into your light.