Fun Friday: 4th of July Recipes

With the Fourth of July next week, here are a few crowd-pleasing recipes that will go perfectly with your hamburgers, hot dogs and fireworks.


Old Settlers Beans

1 lb hamburger meat
1 small chopped onion
Combine and brown in a skillet, drain any extra grease and place into a greased 9×13 dish.

Next mix the following in a large bowl:

¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup BBQ sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. yellow mustard
½ tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. molasses
1 can of large butter beans or white kidney beans, undrained
1 can of red kidney beans, undrained
1 can of pork and beans, undrained

Pour the bean mixture in the casserole dish with meat and onion, then stir to combine. Bake uncovered at 350 for 1 hour.


Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

11 – ice cream sandwiches (any flavor)
1 – 16 oz container Cool Whip
1 – 16 oz jar Hershey’s hot fudge ice cream topping
1 – cup chocolate chips, crushed Oreo cookies, M&M’s, festive sprinkles, or
crushed candy topping of your choice
Hershey’s chocolate syrup for garnish

Layer a 8 x8 in pan with foil. Make sure the foil lays over the sides of the
pan. This will make it easier to remove the ice cream cake from the pan when

Layer 5 1/2 ice cream sandwiches on the bottom of the pan. Spread a layer of
hot fudge topping on top of the ice cream sandwiches. Then spread half of the
cool whip on top of the fudge topping.

Repeat the same process with the second layer. Sprinkle chocolate chips, Oreos,
or candy of your choice on top. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and freeze for
about 3 hours.

Remove from freezer and remove the ice cream cake from the pan. Lift the cake peeling it off of the foil and place it onto a serving plate. Drizzle on some Hershey’s chocolate syrup just before serving.


A Home of Love, Peace & Joy

by Terri Owens Blanchard

We often hear, “home is where the heart is,” “home is where the cat is,” and “a house does not make a home.” While these idioms may be true to some, others may have their own definition of what home means to them. Home to me is where there is love, peace, and joy.

Living in a house that argues and fights all the time was not a loving environment for me. Living in a house with chaos did not give me peace. Even a house that was quiet but had no joy was not where I wanted to be. I have lived in these types of surroundings; places that did not have love, certainly not peace, and empty of any joy. Thankfully that is not the case now!

These Scriptures have helped me to create a loving, peaceful and joyful home: 

Luke 11:17 – “A house divided will not stand.”

Proverbs 15:16 – “Better to have little, with the fear of the Lord, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil.”

Proverbs 14 – “A wise woman builds her house.”

Mathew 7:24 – “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.”

2 Corinthians 3:17 – “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.”

John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you; not as the world gives do I give you peace.”

Galatians 5:22 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy…”

I also found Mother Teresa’s explanation of home to be helpful, “Peace and war begin at home. If we truly want peace in the world, let us begin by loving one another in our own families. If we want to spread joy, we need for every family to have joy.”

I have learned the key to enjoying a home filled with love, peace and joy. It is simply asking God to be the Lord of my home, committing my home to Christ, and inviting the Holy Spirit to fill and to live in my home. Granted, He first told me that I needed to remove, replace and rearrange a few things. I even needed to relocate. All of which I have gladly done. Because for me, I do not mind making those changes in order to have a home where there is love, peace, and joy. 


Terri Owens Blanchard is very happily married to John Blanchard. She is also a mother, a Mimi to her granddaughter, a Mary Kay Consultant, a small group leader to the Military Wives group, and an assistant small group coach. She loves to shop, travel, and shop as she travels! She also enjoys spending time with family, friends and her crazy pets. She can be reached at

Date Night Disasters

By Leah Martorana

Before my husband and I had a baby, people would always tell us, “Once you have kids, everything changes.  You better enjoy things now.”  It was spoken like some kind of cryptic warning we wouldn’t understand until the kid came and changed everything. 

In the weeks after our son was born we began to clue in to the “everything changes” thing on our first attempts at date night. 

Our first night out was to a new restaurant near our house that we had been eyeing for weeks.  We were hopeful it would become a new “go-to” when we wanted something close by.  On the big night out, the babysitter fell through and here we were with our new bundle of joy.  “Oh well,” I thought.  “Date night can still work with the little man in tow.”  So our new little family headed out on the town. 

When we arrived at the restaurant, the menu was promising and we made our first selection of an appetizer.  I could tell where the night was headed when our selection reached the table and we practically needed a magnifying glass to locate the tiny morsels of food on the plate.  There were a total of 4 olives on the plate and I believe they cost us nearly $3 a piece!  That should have been our first clue but we stayed for the main course.  Needless to say, one tragedy led to the next and before our meal was even started, the baby had a major blow out.  Once that was under control and my appetite was all but gone, our baby decided he wasn’t happy.  He proceeded to wail the kind of wail that causes everyone in the room to fix their eyes on you. They seem to say, “Why can’t these people get their baby under control?”  We decided we weren’t quite ready to handle the public humiliation so we asked the waitress to box our teeny tiny pizza and we got out of there.  As if that wasn’t enough, I finished off the night by accidentally dropping our leftovers on the garage floor as we arrived home.  Nice.

Our second attempt at date night was not much of an improvement.  This time around we were a bit smarter and decided we would go somewhere where we couldn’t possibly disturb others.  We opted for the drive-in theatre with the rationale being, even if baby cried, no one else would hear. We were right about that part but we weren’t prepared for all of the other things that might go wrong.  For example, I sent my husband off to get some drinks right when the movie started.  I took on the task of getting our little SUV-theatre all set up.  Problem was we had a “new to us” SUV that did not come with a manual.  That meant I had no idea how to turn off the overhead lights inside.  The other movie-goers were a little angry about that.  Our romantic movie turned a bit stressful to the tune of honking horns and angry shouts.  Then there was the fact that I forgot the bottle on the kitchen counter, so I did my best to feed baby discreetly in the back of the car with a fleece blanket on top of me in 90 degree weather. 

Our most successful date so far was on our anniversary.  I was driving back that day from seeing family in South Carolina.  With our now 4-month-old along for the ride, it made for a lengthy trip with many pit stops.  The original plan was for me to make it back in time to go out for dinner, but as I got further and further delayed by the baby stops, our dinner plans went down the drain. By the time I made it home it was 11 p.m.  Despite my frustrating day, my sweet hubby had the house cleaned from top to bottom and dessert ready and waiting.  It was one of our best anniversaries yet and I’m sure I’ll remember it for years to come.

The thing is, those people that warned us about everything changing only had it half right.  Everything has changed but that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped enjoying it.  Sure, date nights are a bit more challenging now.  But they are also sweeter, more humorous and more appreciated than ever before. 


Leah Martorana has been married to her husband, Mark, for 4 years and is enjoying her new role as mommy to 5 month old, Maxwell.  She is the co-leader of Beautiful Moms at Grace Family Church. Leah also does part-time HR work and in her spare time at home she enjoys anything creative, from cooking to crafting.


No Going Home

by Elaine Morley

I met with a dear friend for lunch recently and part of our conversation turned to Matthew 6: 19 (NIV), “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”  That verse hit the mark not only for the topic at hand, but as I meditated on it further, God also connected the verse to the very recent loss of my childhood home.

My parents, now in their mid 80s, just sold the house where I was born and it was torn down to make green space for the church next door.  The realization that I will face an empty lot where the house used to stand makes me sad for my next trip back to Minnesota. 


That house stood its ground for many years. It was built in 1876 by a doctor who had just moved to our little southern Minnesota town.  I’m not sure what life that house had between him and our large family but it was the perfect size and location for us. In November 1964 my parents bought the home and moved 11 ¾ children into the house on the big corner lot. The ¾ represents me, number 12 and the final addition to the line of kids.  I was born within a few months of them moving into the home and dad would always remember how long they had lived there by asking me, “How old are you now?”

Through that verse in Matthew, God changed my focus from the physical loss of the home to the comforting realization that there were many treasures stored in my heart and in heaven that came from that home.  This house, like all treasures on Earth, will be eaten by moths, destroyed by vermin, and torn down to meet someone else’s need.  But the memories that were made in that house, both with family members and with friends, will not rust or be destroyed.  The faith that was built within those walls cannot be taken away.

I remember mom standing in the doorway of our little bedroom as she watched over my sister and I when we said our bedtime prayers.  I remember her closing the door to her bedroom and sitting with me when I was studying for my first communion, shutting out the chaos of the household to make sure that I learned about the significance of Christ’s sacrifice.  I remember walking home for lunch each day from school and mom being there.  I remember helping dad plant and harvest the large garden that fit so well on our large corner lot.  I remember climbing the huge oaks and having to rake all the leaves in the fall.  The piles of leaves would be as tall as we were, and we’d pile them up by the porch and jump off the railing into the piles. I remember as a teenager climbing out my bedroom window onto the roof to get a suntan, slathering baby oil on our skin to make sure we got lots of color (kids if you are reading this, it’s a bad idea, do not try this at home).   I remember as adults sitting on the wraparound porch whenever we’d gather back at home on a warm Minnesota day.   And with every trip back dad would give me a tour of his flower and vegetable gardens, and we’d pick black raspberries that were so sweet they tasted like jam right off the bush.  

So as I continue to digest the loss I realize that like those raspberries, there are many sweet memories to balance the sadness that I feel now that the house is gone. It has made me think about what memories and treasures I am storing through the activities of my own home.  So I leave you with a question, what treasures are stored through your home?


Elaine Morley and her husband, Paul, have been married for 20 years and have called Grace Family Church their home for the past seven. She has two wonderful step-children who still live in Minnesota, but visit Florida often.  She serves as a Beautiful small group leader and loves the friends she’s made at Grace who help strengthen her walk with God.


15 Minute Cinderella

by Becca Christensen

Whether you’re single, married, married with kids, divorced with or without kids, living with roommates, or running a house full of pets, keeping up with a home takes work!  If you love to have a clean house but hate to clean or never seem to make time, have no fear!  This post is going to give you a simple system to keep your house clean with a minimal time commitment (like those “lose weight without dieting” gimmicks, only true).

When I became a homeowner I promised myself I would always keep my house clean enough to have people over at the drop of a hat.  I live in a townhome and my complex has an amazing pool and I always want my friends to feel like they can invite themselves over on the weekends to use it.  The Lord has blessed me and I desire to be generous with those resources. 

That being said, I’m also a single, 26 year old with two jobs, a bible study, a blog, 15 weekends of travel per year, a commitment to read 50 books per year, and on occasion when I’m not passed out in my can of Diet Coke by 10 p.m., a social life. I do not have endless hours a week that I want to spend playing Cinderella and I’m guessing, neither do you.  So I did some research.

I printed three weekly chore lists from Pinterest and recruited three of my girlfriends to try them out with me.  For a week at a time we would follow these “15 minutes a day to a clean house” chore lists and compare notes. Later I weighed the pros and cons of each and made my own master list.  Now, I wake up a half hour earlier. I do my quiet time (this is key to my sanity and spiritual growth) and then spend 30 minutes doing my chores for that day BEFORE work. This ensures they get done no matter what my day holds.

My advice would be to try this yourself.  It takes discipline but the payoff has proven to be worth it for my friends and me.  You’ll need to make your own priority list because your household is unique and so your chores will be as well.  But to give you an idea, here’s a simple version of mine:

  • Monday
    Take out the trash.  All of it.  Bathrooms, garage, kitchen, etc.
    Dust the whole house
  • Tuesday
    Vacuum the house (this one does take more than 30 minutes because I have 2 sets of stairs, and can’t be done at 6 a.m.)
    Mop (every other week)
  • Wednesday
    Clean bathrooms
    Clip/print coupons and make shopping list
  • Thursday 
    Run and empty dishwasher
  • Friday
    Trash again
    Pick up room
    Cards for the next week (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)
  • Saturday
    Change sheets and towels
    Grocery shop
  • Sunday
    Prep meals for the week (pack lunches for work, etc.)
    Clean out car and run it through carwash

As you can tell, your list will need to be customized. But none of these tasks in and of itself takes a long time.  If you divide them in an order that makes sense and put the harder things on the days when you’re home longer (like laundry or vacuuming) this will help you maximize your success.  I put the easier tasks on the weekends because I enjoy having more time on those days to relax.

If cleaning and organizing overwhelm you, don’t let yourself be defeated before you try!  Make a list and make yourself stick to it for two weeks.  You’ll be surprised by how much you enjoy the way your house looks and runs, which may just motivate you to keep going for another two weeks, and two more after that. 

I would love to hear your results and stories so please feel free to shoot me an e-mail.  I can be found at  This goes for any questions as well.  Also, for great cleaning list resources check Pinterest or

Becca Christensen works as an event specialist in the non-profit/sports world. She loves to bake, travel, read, blog, spend time with family, and root on the Indianapolis Colts. In addition to contributing to the Beautiful Blog, Becca attends Beautiful Monday Nights. You can read more about Becca on her blog, Oh, The Places You’ll Go.