Bell Blend Chocolate Toffee

2 cups butter

2 cups sugar

1 tsp of vanilla extract

Bell Blend coffee

2 cups milk chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

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Boil butter, sugar, and vanilla extract until it turns into a dark amber color.

Pour onto a baking sheet, and immediately sprinkle ground Bell Blend over the toffee while it cools so that it will stick.

While it cools, melt the milk chocolate chips in a double boiler.

In a separate pan, melt the white chocolate chips.

Once the toffee is dried, pour the melted milk chocolate over the top of the toffee.

Scatter the melted white chocolate on top of the milk chocolate.

Set it in the freezer to harden.

LOVE is spelled 5 1 0 4

The day is creeping up.  You know, THE day. The day of the year where everyone “oo’s” and “ah’s” over teddy bears, everything red, boxes of chocolate, red roses, and fancy dinners. The day that some might even try to throw a parks and rec Galentine’s Day. It’s the day of the year that we go crazy and honestly, we can’t help it.  It is all about what WE are going to do.  We become OBSESSED with what I am going to do, how I am going to be celebrated, how many chocolates am I going to get?

Well, It makes me wonder about the real meaning behind Valentine’s Day.  NO, I am not about give you a history lesson about Cupid or his arrows.  I am a little curious though, how often we are thinking about each other and the people that we love most on Valentine’s day, let alone, every day.

Are we thinking about the people that mean most to us? Our closest friends, our family, even the cashier at Winn Dixie?

Last night I had a girls night with 2 out of my 3 college roommates.  We made homemade pizza, ate Bell Blend Chocolate Toffee   watched the latest episode of Scandal, and literally laughed so hard I had a sore throat and a tummy ache.  Those girls sure know how to make my life a little brighter.

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In the midst of baking our pizza, the third roommate (who currently lives in Jacksonville, FL) called me.  We put her on speaker phone and it was just like the old days.  We were making jokes and making more memories.  When the four of us are together, it’s like nothing has changed.

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It wasn’t even a year ago that those Ivories were my roommates in Apt 5104 at Faulkner University.  We were the loudest 4 girls on campus.  We ran together, we cried together, we drank ALOT of COFFEE together (so much that we broke our coffee pot.. twice.), we got frustrated and sometimes down right mad at one another, but all in all, we LOVED the snot out of each other.  Life was easier because of them.

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It was like a hard ball of emotion on graduation day.  Packing up and moving out of Apt 5104 was devastating.  We watched it happen.  We watched as hour by hour furniture, clothes, and bedding were slowly making their way out of the apartment and into the vehicle that took us to the next season of life.

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I remember cleaning off my desk in my bedroom, putting pictures of memories from that past 4 years into a box I mustered out of the cafeteria recycling bin, and tears started rolling down my face.  You know the heavy tears? The ones that make ugly cry? That was me, huddled up in the corner of Bedroom B.  Abbey, our current Jacksonville roomie, walked by and saw me.  She walked over, crouched down behind me and wrapped me up in a huge hug.  “I know, it sucks, but it has to happen, we have to keep going.”

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We did. We had to keep going.  We had to step out into the unknown with our heads held high and our fingers crossed for greatness.  We had spent 4 years fighting to make it to this point and all of the sudden we were blinded by the reality that we had NO IDEA what we were going to do.  All of us had separate paths, and none of them made sense.

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Here we are, 9 months later.  We are all finished with school, working jobs that we never pictured ourselves taking, and taking life one terrifying day at a time.  These chicks though, well they love me. They teach me.  They teach me how to fight for happiness in life, how to pursue greatness with Jesus, and how to love… they spell it out for me 5.1.0.4.

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Don’t lose sight of today.  Don’t misunderstand the month of February and all of the pressure that comes with the 14th day of it.  Think of how love is really spelled out for you.  Who in your life has more to offer you than a teddy bear and red roses?  Treasure them, then… share the love with those who don’t have that.

*stay tuned on how the Bell’s are spending Valentines week*

Be sure to check out the Recipe for Bell Blend Chocolate Toffee under the recipe tab!

The Ivory Moment

You know those moments that take your heart and make it tighten up? It’s almost as if it starts coming through your throat, trying to push its way out through salty drops down your face?

This weekend, I had those moments… over and over and over again.

All of us were together, in one place, with no plans, no agenda, just each other.

The Plunkett Parents, The Hoehn’s, The Peurach’s, the Bell’s,  and the cutest niece and nephew.

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My little blond headed, blue eyed Ivory,  joyful, spunky niece finally came to town for a visit, to meet her new “baby chusin”.

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I walked through the doors of the home that raised me, and those sweet, chubby cheeks ran to me yelling “LaLa!”, giggling with excitement.

may the heart swelling begin… 

I picked up that happy 2 year old, squeezed her little guts and and whispered  “I love you Ray Girl”, she looked away, as if she hardly paid attention to what I said, and yelled out “I love OO LaLa!”

It was that moment, the first time in my relationship with her, that she spoke to me, without being told, without begging her to say a word, her sincere innocence erupted out without a second thought.

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  I looked all around me and saw beauty in the “ivories” of my life.  They are just as rare as Ivory, hard to find, impossible to replace.

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These people, this family I come from, they’re all mine.  FULL of rarity, FULL of grace, and one of a kind. 

I fall in love all over again every time I see them. There is never a moment of questioning the way we feel about each other.  We are quirky, smart, goofy, obsessed with grilling ridiculous amounts of meat on the grill, and sitting around a table for hours belly laughing.

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I walked into the living room of my parent’s house and sat down across from my mom.  There are big decisions coming up in mine and my husband’s life, decisions that will drastically change our direction.  I felt the *mama moment*.  You know that moment? The one where all you really want is to hear your mama’s voice and look in her eyes and tell her all your dreams and biggest fears? This was that moment.

She looked at me and smiled, nodded, and listened as I poured my heart out on her living room floor. She looked at me, she smiled at me, and her whole being whispered ‘Remember where you came from, it will get you where you’re going’.

She knows what to say without saying it… It’s a mama thing I guess.

cue the throat swelling thing… 

Dinner was had, coffee was sipped, endless conversations, and laughter erupted from the roof of 6464, our Zimbabwe brothers came over, and those ivories of mine once again captured my heart.

We are known.  Every tear is tracked and every heartbeat heard by the One who set it into motion.  Every moment is seen by the One who makes all things beautiful.  From our first gasp of air til we last lay our head, He is with us.  By our side.  An advocate, a refuge, our strength and our song.

*stay tuned to see the direction we are taking with our coffee venture! And while you’re waiting for the next update, be sure to buy some Bell Blend 🙂 *

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