Monday, December 29, 2014

Being A Responsible Citizen, I am

Last night I stayed up until 3:30am catching up on Season 4 of Downton Abbey.  I'm not a big TV watcher, but that is my show.  That and Wheel.

I'm feeling surprisingly good for staying up practically all night long.

Today we are having a nothing day.

We're all in our pj's.  Kids are on Wii and I am dreaming about buffalo check curtains.

You'd be so proud of me.  I did so good this Christmas season with all of the stuff being strewn here and there so the kids could enjoy.  It about did me in, but we made it.

I am in the mood to declutter.  Do I love it?  Do I use it?  If so, it will stay.  If not, it is going.

Maybe it is because January is right around the corner.

Maybe it is because six of us live in a three bedroom home.

Either way, I have the itch to downsize and simplify.

You may think I'm always downsizing.  And I am.

Staying on top of the excess is a constant exercise.

I try to live by a 10 toy mantra.  The kids play better with their things when there is less of it.

We have empty drawers and underneath our bed is clutter free.  That feels really good.

Right now, the thing that is bothering me is my drawers and closet.  These are the hardest for me to tackle.  Probably because when I do a stash and dash before company, all the things that don't have a home and all the things I'm not ready to make decisions on are the things that get crammed here and there.  That is why cleaning them out is the hardest.  It forces me to make a call on if it stays or goes.  And if it stays, where is it's home to be?

But I am in the mood.

In Mid-February I always put a Bed & Breakfast weekend on my calendar.  It is my inspiration to fluff and shine my house during January.  On our B&B weekend we stay home.  The house always looks its best.  I always buy fresh flowers, a new candle, a new magazine or decorating book and fun food.

If you're in the mood to downsize, you should join me!  This week is living room week.

Grab two grocery sacks.  Throw or give away 27 things today.  And then do it again tomorrow.  And the next day.  You'll be so happy with the results as you whittle down your stuff. 

Nothing makes your house look fresher than getting rid of all the stuff.

I promise!

Even empty spaces look better than being filled with stuff that is just Meh.

I'm dealing with an empty space right now.  It's about my ficus tree.  We took it out for the tree and I think we are all liking the empty space of not having it back in the house.  I'm not entirely sure what to do with the wall space, but I'm living with it blank for a bit to see.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Little Planning

If I counted it up right, we've celebrated in one way or the other the last eight evenings.  That is a lot of partying.  Today we are staying in our jammies and I am curled up in my chair with my calendar, cookbooks, and grocery store list.

For me, a big part of traditions are the tastes and smells that you come to expect each year.  Some things we are still tweaking and figuring out and some winners are already established and part of our family culture.

I make notes and add them to my recipes so I remember the small details.

One thing I do during Christmas is buy good coffee from a kitchen store in town.  They grind it in house and it is such a treat on these Christmasy mornings.  Our special coffee usually lasts from Christmas through New Year's.

So this morning I've been browsing my cookbooks and making my grocery lists.  I will end up having three grocery lists for between now and New Year's Eve (a Christmas Eve and Day trip, one in between for fresh bread and veggies, and a New Year's trip).

One thing I'm always sure to add in is extra special treats for the evenings.  Things like hot cocoa, chocolate melt bars, apple dumplin's, snickerdoodles, oyster crackers, ranch dip/fresh veggies/wheat thins, and a cheese ball.  Some of our best memories are snuggling into the living room in the evenings and watching Christmas shows while something good bakes in the oven.

This is probably one of my biggest holiday tips.  Spend some time writing down some menus including fun treats.  Make your shopping lists and go ahead and do your shopping.  Having these things planned makes it easier to settle in for movies, games, and fun around the Christmas tree.  It just takes a small amount of effort and thinking through things like this, but it is so worth it!  Think about who you want to spend time with and create some good memories this year.

(no sticks of butter or jugs of heavy cream were harmed in the publishing of this post)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas Shopping Idea

Today I want to share something with you that we are doing with our kids.  It has been a HUGE hit!

We are doing one on one dates with each child this week to Christmas shop for ideas online.  Here is how it plays out.

We drew names from a hat to see who got to go on which night.  The rule was you have to be happy for the other brothers when it is their night!

When your night comes for a shopping date with mom and dad, you get to pick a special snack and stay up late browsing things online and hanging out with mom and dad all by yourself. 

It has been one of the most fun things we've done with our boys.  Milk shakes, pj's, Christmas tree, making wish lists together, having the special one on one time.  It is so much fun to let them browse and dream.

Some of our favorite sites are Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, and Fat Brain Toys.

I tried to start a "Family Fun Day Christmas Shopping Day" as a new tradition a couple years ago.  We drug our way through the awfulness of it all two years in a row before we buried that tradition.  We got in one of the biggest fights of our marriage on the way home from "Family Fun Day" and I learned something valuable.  My boys hate shopping!

This tradition is turning out so much better.  No crowds.  No fussing.  Each child gets to think through and look at toys.  When anyone asks what is on their list, we'll have some good ideas.  And most importantly, it has been such a simple, simple way to invest individually in each child.

Tonight our six year old is up to bat and rumor has it he has his sights set on a Chick-fil-A shake for his special treat.  Glory.  His big brothers told him a toy he saw in the Target sale ad was highly toxic so every time he has mentioned what he wants he always says, "Legos, the highly toxic toy, and world peace."  OK, so I made up the very last part.  That was Miss Congeniality.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I'm not hormonal, per se

I don't know if it is my hormones or what but I put the hack on my hair this morning.  And it felt SO GOOD.  Until I took a looksee in the mirror and blowed it out and saw my hack job.  That Twilight Zone music started playing and all I could do was stare with wide eyed horror at the work of my hands.  I'm sorry, but who just up and cuts their hair? 

Living with all boys and a baby whose main word is blah blah blah didn't help either.

Naturally I called up my mom and sister.

By the afternoon I was sitting in a beauty shop watching an uncomfortable amount of my already short hair do fall to the ground.

The good news is I got like three compliments on my flannel shirt.

"Where'd you get that?!"

"My husbands side of the closet."  Actually that is not true.  This summer we were having a yard sale and I kept shopping from our own stuff.  It's like something comes over me when I see how good our stuff looks with a neon dot on it and I have to bring it back home.

So yeah, I'm wearing his shirt and apparently the ladies at the beauty shop liked it.

To top it all off, I am trying to not eat carbs and sugar and all I want in this whole wide world is some nachos from a taco joint our friends from church opened up this year.

So now, not only am I having hormonal issues, but I'm realizing I am an emotional eater because I'm stressed over my hair and think I look weird and only a plate of nachos will make it all better.

Is that rational?

And in all reality, I've been in a poopy mood all week.

I really do think nachos might make it all better.

And maybe an estrogen patch.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Jesse Tree

The idea of having a Jesse Tree during the month of December is a fairly new one to me.  Last year we created our first Jesse Tree by taking a branch from our yard, sticking it in a vase, and hanging an ornament on it each night as we read a passage of Scripture together.  The Jesse Tree is a way to trace the lineage of Jesus.  A family tree.  Our family tree.

Shane made us a new tree for this year complete with a hand-made star on top.  Last year I read The Greatest Gift during Advent and we used the free printable paper ornaments (from the book) for our tree.

I hang the paper ornaments in the kitchen and each night we count down the days until we celebrate the birth of Christ.  Celebrating Advent builds a special anticipation towards Christmas.  Even though this will only be our second year to celebrate Advent, I can't imagine a Christmas season without it.

This link will give you a list of verses to read each evening, along with ideas on how to celebrate Advent, if you are looking for a place to start.

Can you tell her hair is fuzzy in this picture?  Love.  "Happy Advent everyone!"
If you have school aged children, I highly recommend the Jotham's Journey trilogy.  Our family ate this up last year.

Tonight we begin the second book in the triology, Bartholomew's Passage.  Everything in me wants to start Ann Voskamp's new kids Advent book, but I'm trying to exercise self-control and not go into Advent overload. 

Even if you haven't planned anything formal for Advent, I'd highly recommend doing something each evening!  It is not too late.  Light a candle and read a passage together as a family.  Again, this link is a good resource for verses to read each night.

The whole point of Advent is to prepare our hearts for Christmas.

A few candle-lit minutes spent reading scripture each evening reaps huge benefits.

p.s. I use all white candles in my Advent wreath.

p.s.s. I found my Advent wreath a few years ago at Hobby Lobby.  It's just a small non-Adventish wreath that I thought was pretty.  Don't be afraid to put your spin on celebrating.  In my opinion, there is no right or wrong way.  The heart of it is to point our hearts toward Jesus, so He can remain our focus.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The "Our Story" Part

Sometimes God works in surprising ways and every time He does I get re-surprised.  The "Our Story" part of my blog was something I knew I wanted to include, but was never sure what the gist of that section would be.

There is a part of our story that is changing.  I wasn't sure {and still am not 100% sure} of how much I wanted to share about it.  My reason for being hesitant to talk about it is the same as when I write about parenting and any other thing that I am in the midst of.  My heart is to encourage and maybe bless someone else.  The flip side of that is:  I am not an expertWe are in progress.  It is not information that I share in hind-site, it is real-time life.  That means that my well-intentioned efforts that seem so good today could fail tomorrow. 

So this new part of our journey?  It began a few weeks ago when I walked out of a Sunday sermon thinking about what had been said.

For days I thought on what was taught.

Want to know what I was thinking through and trying to figure out?

Idols.  I was trying to see what idols I have in my life.  And the frustrating part was that I thought and thought for days and couldn't think of any idols in my life.  Not one. Sin yes, I can list them, idols, um_____, nothing.  That in and of itself was sending up red flags because it let me know that I was probably blinded to them!

a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered

So I asked someone I love and trust very much if they could see any idols in my life.  And sure enough, there was a suggestion for me.  Could food be an idol in your life?  Yep.  That was it.  Food hit the nail on the head.

Here's the deal.  Obviously I'm not a health nut.  If we're at a party and I stumble into the circle of peeps talking about gluten or inflammation or sprouting things, I'm going to politely excuse myself and refill my punch glass and go find the crowd who's talking decorating or beach vacations.  No offense to anyone but health talk is just not my gig.

All this leads me to what I said earlier about our story changing.

The new part of my story is this.  I'm changing what I put in my mouth.

Part of the reason food health is such a turn off to me is because it seems to suck the fun and life out of everything.  It would be such a drag to be sentenced to ordering salads every time I wanted to go out to eat.  Give me fajitas or give me death, you know what I'm sayin'?

But this new part of my journey is not about becoming a health nut or remaining solidly in the foodie camp. 

It is about smashing down the idol that food has become in my life.

Grinding it to powder just like the golden calf.

Grinding it to powder like almond flour.

Just kidding about that last part.  It's just an almond flour joke.  Us healthy people like to talk like that from time to time.  You get used to it.

So there you have it.

If you want to follow along I'm going to be talking about our journey to make baby steps toward honoring God with how we eat.  I'll guarantee you that the journey is going to include a balance between enjoying the full-fledged good stuff, and making wiser choices on the in-between times. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Coconut Chicken Curry Stew

I've purchased coconutty product before.  I usually go to this section to get my coco goods.  Somehow as I reached for the cream of coconut I felt like maybe this was not exactly what my recipe was asking me for.

Next I found myself meandering through the organic area feeling like everyone shopping on those rows knew I did not belong.  It was starting to feel stressful.  These boxes say coconut milk but they also say beverage on them.  It doesn't seem like this is what my recipe would be asking for but heck if I know what I'm looking for.  Since when do I have instinctive feelings on coconut milk varieties?  Who am I?

Then, lo and behold, I stumbled upon it.  The Asian aisle.  I had no. idea. we had an Asian food aisle.  And looky there.  Cans of coconut milk lining the shelf just waiting to find their way into my soup pot.

This soup right here is a big time keeper.  It was so packed with flavor.  It almost had the feel of a good, homemade chicken noodle soup.  I made this with the full intention that I'd be the only one in my house to eat it.  It turned out that the other two that tried it really enjoyed it. 

My advice for this recipe?  Use the fresh ginger and freshly pressed garlic.  And season with salt until it starts tasting really flavorful.  I think those are the reasons that this simple stew packed such a tasty punch.  Oh, and in case you don't know like we didn't know, fresh ginger is spicy.  Ouchy Mama!  I took the Mr.'s word for it.  He saw me grating it and took a tiny bite to try and meeee-maw meeee-maw it set his mouth on fire.  I kept asking if he was messing with me and he insisted he was serious.  I took his word for it.

Coconut Chicken Curry Stew

3 chicken breast, cubed (I used 4)
1 T ghee, butter or coconut oil
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 T grated ginger
2 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 T curry powder
6 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4)
1/4 cup cilantro.
salt to taste

Saute' chicken in butter in a large saucepan.  When the outside of the chicken has turned white, add in the coconut milk and broth and mix well.  Add in carrot, celery, tomato, ginger and curry powder.

Cook on medium heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in garlic, cilantro and salt.  Cook 5 more minutes.

* I did not use cilantro, just because I didn't have any.  I used an entire 13.5 oz can of coconut milk and the entire can of chicken broth.  I just have problems 'saving' that last bit because it always gets thrown away.  My stew turned out delish!

** This was my first rodeo with buying fresh ginger.  Talk about stressful.  The label at the grocery store said ginger root.  Is that what I need?  After much angst, I settled on a yes on the ginger root.  I got the cutest little piece since I only needed one tablespoon.  Then I was so darn excited to check out because I wanted to see if the checker knew what in the heck it was.  She had no idea.  I was all, "Um, that is fresh ginger."  I think she could tell I love Jesus since I was buying stuff like fresh ginger, you know that I'm sayin?

*** I feel like I added my garlic at the beginning of the simmering process when I added the veggies and spices.  Man.  I can't imagine using 6 cloves.  I only used 4 and mine was really garlicky. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Coming Here

From time to time I get the rare gift of a quiet house.  A quiet house ranks right up there on my list of good things such as the smell of walking into Dillard's with the bright hope of a day of shopping ahead of me, Sunday afternoon naps, freshly mowed and edged lawns, mom's roast...all happy things.

This morning I was surprised with the unexpected gift.  The big boys were out running errands with Dad.  I was at home doing schoolwork with our youngest son when the garage door opened.  All the boys were invited to head up to the church to work.  The baby was napping.  I was already ready for the day.

I moved into action right away.  Candle, blanket, cup of goodness, Bible, pen, book, lamps.

This place right here?  No one brings me here.  Days can go by on end and no one is going to bring me here.  Other things feel urgent.  The laundry mounded high with stained clothes.  The empty cupboard that needs to be refilled.  The sink full of dishes that need scrubbing.  The floor that needs attention.  My every sticking step reminds me. 

But this?  If I don't purposefully bring myself here it does not happen.  Most days this time looks like my Bible spread open on the kitchen counter.  It looks like reading together with my crew first thing in the morning.  It looks like grabbing 5 or 10 minutes here or there.  Some days it looks like putting one single verse before my eyes to think on through out the day.

This place can be hard.  If I've been away for too long, it all feels hard and unfamiliar.  Proverbs is always my starting place when I open to dive in.  Sometimes I choose a book to read through.  In those times, that is my starting place.  I like the short books toward the end.  Those are good ones to spend a week or so in.

But old faithful is Proverbs.

Just opening and flipping to the chapter that corresponds to the day of the month.

This is my other old faithful.  Streams in the Desert.  Sometimes devotionals can be kind of hokey, but I find myself always coming back to this book.  It is jam packed with wisdom.

Coming here is what I was talking about yesterday.  Making yourself go to the places that refresh you.  Yesterday my one verse I prayed through all day was simple and easy for me to remember.  "Please help us grow in grace and knowledge of you."  All day long I prayed that over myself.  Over Shane.  Over each child.  Over the members of our church family.  It was one simple request that was the focus of my attention.

Be encouraged if coming here is a struggle for you.  The more time you spend here and the more time you spend cultivating this habit the easier it becomes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Working with Joy

One of my biggest goals and prayers as a wife and mother is that I will do my work with joy.  My favorite verse in the Bible talks about a kind hearted woman.  A kind woman gains respect.  She is gracious and lovely to be around.  We've all been around women who are harsh and snappy.  Me no likey that.  I really don't like it when those two words are aptly describing me.

I have found that when I am being diligent to take care of myself, then I have more to give out and it is easier for me to work with joy.  Part of this process involves something which I think is really fun. 

Thinking about what gives you life.

Do you know what your life giving activities and spaces look like?  For years I've turned off our phones in the afternoon.  For two hours the world might be burning down but we are having quiet time at our house.  My slot looks different some days.  Last week as I was battling a terrible cold my time looked like dragging myself under the covers for an afternoon sleep.  Yesterday it looked like grabbing a blanket and a book and laying on the sunny spot on my comforter.  Some days it looks like making afternoon coffee and reading by my favorite candle.

It is not hard to create spaces that refresh you.  It does take a tiny bit of effort though.  No one is going to make us go to the spaces that refresh us!  I believe it is a false thought to think we are wasting time when we make time for ourselves every day.  You've heard it said, "If the enemy can't make us bad he'll make us busy."  I think of that when I think of making time to refresh myself.  If I am too busy to take time to fuel back up then I might be too busy.

All that said, taking care of myself on a daily basis is one thing that I do that helps me in my desire and efforts to work with joy.

Monday, November 17, 2014


It's weird. Even though I adore a sunny house with the windows open, I love cozy winter nights and rainy days.  There is something about these early evenings that make everything feel so warm inside the house.  Even heating up left-overs for dinner seems a little more festive.

I'm big into candle light dinners this time of year.  Even, especially, on left-over night.  We fill the table with our favorite drinking glasses and usually a bowl of whatever soup I've made that week and I just love it.  It is simple and beautiful.

Even though most of our dinners are nothing fancy, the candles always make it a little extra special.  This week I am super excited about making my chicken and dumplings.  I'll re-share the recipe with you.  This recipe is the darndest thing.  It looks so simple when you read the ingredients but I'm telling you we adore it around here.  It smells divine cooking away all day in the crock-pot and we all love it.  It is the perfect easy winter night meal.  I even pull my chicken straight from the bag in the freezer and toss it in FROZEN.  Have you ever?  I mean, really.

Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplins
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 6)
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of celery
2 cans chicken broth
2 T butter
seasoned salt & pepper
2 10oz cans refrigerator biscuits

Spray crock pot with Pam.  (I'm assuming your Mama taught you this but just in case here is your friendly reminder).

Put in frozen chicken.  Cover with soups, broth, butter, salt and pepper.  Liquid should cover all the chicken so add water if needed.  Cook on low 8 hours.  About an hour before you are ready to eat shred the chicken.  (I took the lid off and just used two forks to shred the chicken right in the crock pot).

Pinch off the biscuits and add them to the crockpot.  Cook until dumplins are not doughy, an hour or so.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I'm sitting here on a 37 degree morning with my window open beside me.

I'm hot.

Always hot.

Last winter I loved the 14 degree evenings.  I slept in my summer pj's all winter.  I'd get up in the middle of the night to visit the powder room, and that cold bathroom always felt so good.

We hosted a lot of training dinners the last two weeks.  Cold weather is always a happy addition to this cook because I crack the back door to let the cold air in while I simmer and stir.  Before I head to the bathroom to touch up my hair and make-up I usually sit a spell on the patio for a bit to cool off.

My Hawaiian breeze fan is my side-kick but these arctic days are really much more preferable.

The menfolk around here keep turning on the fireplace.

Oh lawd today.

I'm all, "Honey, you know I love you but we got to turn that puppy off ya here now?"

So, about the fruit and vegetable eating.

If potato chips count as potatoes and fruit pies count as fruit then I've done above average on upping my fruit/veggie intake this week.  If they don't count then, meh.  I did, not great but better than the week before.  I managed to add in a serving of fruit most days and most days I piled lettuce on my sandwich at lunch.

Why are healthy foods so dang hard to like?

I will say this though.  I faithfully do my part to make salsa a part of my diet and what is more healthy than salsa I ask you?  Exactly.  Here are two products that have made their ways into my buggies for about the last two months.  Good gravy.  Amazing.

I've been serving up my fair share of taco soup dinners and these two beauties along with freshly grated cheddar are the perfect soup toppers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

This Works Wonders

For your hardest kid on their hardest day, I have something for you.

Bless him and love him when he does not deserve it.

That child has been reprimanded more times than you can count.  He knows he keeps doing wrong.  Even though he knows he's going to get in trouble he does it anyway and you get weary from the battle.

Do something unexpected for the offender.  Bless him.  Maybe it looks like a cold drink and a cupcake.  Maybe a movie and extra snuggles from mom.  Coloring at the table together.  Think of any way you can bring him in, serve him, bless him, and give love when he is at his ugliest.  

Bring him in.  Serve him and love him.  Watch what happens.  It is amazing.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Settling In

This has been a week filled with celebrations.  We've gathered together with friends and family and shared meals around the farm table. 

The trees in our yard turned into brilliant colors overnight.  I think we've adjusted to the daylight savings time change, which always takes about a week.  Such a special time in our lives every 6 months.

This weekend I spent some time thinking through the baby's schedule and she is settling in to the new routine nicely.  After a month of travel mixed with the time change, we were kind of all over the place.  She is cutting two new teeth and they have been bothering her so much.  They bring the grand total up to 8 chompers!

Tonight I'm serving up a big pot of chili and I'm so excited.  I love the smell of chili simmering all afternoon on the stovetop.  I'm throwing  a Razzleberry pie and an apple pie in the oven for dessert.  Razzleberry pie is a berry pie filled with blackberry and raspberry.  It smells like heaven baking and makes a perfectly fine breakfast the next morning.

School is going good.  We have been using the Higher Up Further In curriculum this year and it fits our family beautifully.  Learning has become a fun thing and not a huge drag {on most days, anyway}.  I have found a community of other Charlotte Mason moms and am thankful for it.  I missed our second meeting in October but am so looking forward to getting together with them again.  We meet at a super cool coffee shop to discuss Charlotte Mason's works.

I guess the only other big news is that I am trying to learn to like wearing jeans.  I HATE the way jeans feel.  They are just not comfortable to me.  They are so versatile though, so I am trying to give it a go.  Oh.  There is one more big piece of news.  I've been adding my water drinking in every day.  This is the third week and it has been going well.  Today I am starting to up my fruit and veggie intake to 5 servings a day.  It's almost noon and I've already choked down a banana which technically is a really sugary fruit.  I thought about sharing some fruit and veggie creations as I discover them.  They always feel so hard for me to get in.

It's good to be back!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Nester's Book

I have been reading Nester's book

The result is that I unearthed my house décor.  I got to looking around and was like, "Meh.  It looks OK but I am not loving the look in the living room so much anymore."  So, all my pictures on my collage wall came down and found a new home on the dining room table.  Most of my knick knacks were tucked in around the frames on the table and for days I stared at blank walls.

If you would have peeped into my windows you would have found me on the couch staring into the great blue yon pondering the great things of life.  Things like, "Does that wall need a big, gaudy mirror because I'm thinking the answer is YES."

When I looked around the house, it felt tired and cluttered.

Aww heck no.  We can't be having no tired and cluttered house now can we?

Rearranging the goods is such a process for Shane me.  I'm a firm believer in reusing what you already have.  You'll be surprised how moving something from here to there can breathe new life into a room.

I've pieced the rooms back together and it feels like I have brand new spaces.

Try it and see for yourself.  See that New Kids on the Block poster taped to your wall?  Wouldn't it look so much snazzier over there?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


We are back from taking the month of October off.  Because Shane has served at our church for 10 years, he was given a one month sabbatical.  What a huge blessing and opportunity that was for our family.

I'd been praying for this month for a couple of years now.

It was such an extended chunk of time that I didn't want to squander. 

Every once in awhile I pray and ask God to extravagantly bless us in His Presence.  To reveal Himself to us.  Like when I go to a women's retreat I usually ask this of God.  Not a material request, but I have this clear picture of being able to feast on the riches at his table.  I think about my favorite table-my Mom's Thanksgiving table.  It is just the best thing I can think of.  It is lined with pretty linens, plates, glasses, candles, and all of my favorite holiday foods.  It is an extravagant table.  So I had been asking if God would bless us extravagantly and let us feast from His Table during our month off.

Goodness.  He answered in such sweet ways.  It is hard to put into words the beautiful time we had together.  We reconnected as a family and were refreshed in every way.  When yesterday morning came we were are all ready to jump back into real life.  He blessed us with a spirit of joy and days filled with laughter.  I can't think of too much better than that.

Sunday was a joy as we gathered together to worship with our church family.  We feel so incredibly blessed to serve and do life with the people we've been surrounded with.

One morning near the end of our time, I sat on a dock by the water at sunrise, reflecting on the last ten years.  I committed the next ten years into His Hands and cannot wait to see what it holds.

"Lord, teach me to order my days so that I can present a heart of wisdom to you"

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Be Back Soon...

We are taking the month of October to unplug and connect as a family and with the Lord.  Be back in November.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


About once a year we end up having a yard sale.  And every year it is always the same.  Pick a weekend.  Have a hard time gearing up to get motivated to fill boxes and empty the house.  But there is always a defining moment. 

The moment when the first item is tossed into the box that will not be coming back in.  Tossing leads to more tossing.  You start to see empty shelves and that is really when the ante gets upped. 

It feels fabuloso to fill up brown boxes of things I haven't been using.  The things that I don't 100% still love today get the boot. 

It forces me to look at my home with fresh eyes. 

If I see something and decide I really do still love it then it forces me to find a home for that thing.

Yesterday I headed into my kitchen and started opening cabinet doors and pulling open drawers and tossing things into my box with abandon.  It was in the middle of my kitchen decluttering spree that I realized some things.

I have problems letting go of my name brand clutter.

Pottery Barn
Pampered Chef
Ralph Lauren

You show me a name brand label and I'll show you a girl who has a hard time letting it go.

Then you have the sentimental clutter.

Wedding gifts
Birthday gifts
Kids things that have good memories attached to them
The steal you found on that something at that yard sale
My wedding dress

Then you have the skinny version of you clutter.

All those cute little t-shirts that don't fit right now?  Mmm hmmm, yeah Kool-Aid t-shirt I'm talking about you.
I have found that if I have a motivator it helps me release some things that may otherwise be hard to let go of.  So, I give you my recliner I am working towards.
This chair is cute and comfy.  For years I have wanted a chair like this.  It rocks, swivels, reclines, and dusts baseboards on demand.  This beauty is my motivation to let some of the good stuff go so that I can have something better.  Every time I pick up something that is pretty but not useful to me anymore, I think of my purty chair and in the box the pretty something  goes.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Homemade Baby Food

You know how some afternoons you just decide you are going to go for it and try your hand at making homemade baby food for the very first time ever?  Yeah, that was me yesterday.

I didn't have a book or anything.  Just some fresh produce and a blender.  Have you ever seen Fresh Produce clothing?  Oh my gosh it is so cute.  And comfortable.  And probably healthy for you to wear.

I added a small amount of water to make my dish blendable and it really worked!

I liked being able to control what went into my baby food.  I did not peel the apples and tossed them in with the seeds.  It was so pretty to see red flecks of apple peel in the food.

After freezing them in the ice tray, I popped them into a freezer bag labeled:
September 2014
spinach, apple, banana

So how did the baby like her homemade baby food?

She was all smiles and told me she could not wait to try the Beef Bourguignon.

I'll never forget watching Anna Duggar make homemade green beans for her precious baby.  Boy did I ever think she was a rock-star mama who loved her baby a little more than I loved mine.  I mean, she was feeding her baby real green beans while I was feeding mine Vegetable Turkey Dinner made by some lady named Gerber.
I am thankful that I don't have to make my own stuff every single time, but it does bring me joy to serve good things to the people I love.
It feels so good to feed the people we love good things doesn't it?

Tonight the rest of us are having Pioneer Woman's Calzones for dinner with a spinach salad.  Mwah!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Market

We have a new grocery store in town called the Neighborhood Market.  It took me a few times to decide if I liked it or not.  At first, I really did not want to try it.  I hate going to the Super Center.  Like, really, really, really despise having to go inside.  The people are rude, it is busy, it is generally just an unpleasant experience every single time.  When our nice Kroger opened I began shopping there.  It is also busy but the people are so much more friendly which is worth it for me, especially when I am shopping with babies in tow.

I am ready to make an official statement regarding the Market.

I love shopping at this store!

It is so nice.  Here is what I love about it.

It is small.  Small means there is not every imaginable organic option available.  It is less overwhelming for me.  I can get in and out in a jiffy.  The aisles seem shorter than the big Kroger and the Super Center.  I just whip up and down the aisles grabbing what I need.  There have been several times when I was in and out in 23 minutes flat having spent less than $100 for groceries that would last about 5 days.

It is cute inside.  There is a nice and warm feel inside the store.  Some call it new.  It is new but it also has a charming feel.

It is super clean.  I mean, it is immaculate.  And the shelves are always perfectly stocked and lined in neat little perfect rows.  For my fellow OCD friends you will find this aspect of the Market therapeutic. 

They sell Wal-Martish things.  You know what I'm saying?  Toothpaste, shampoo, baby wipes, Benadryl, etc...this means I can have the smaller grocery store experience, the lower prices, and get the things I usually had to go to the Super Center for, all in the convenience of this one stop.

Did I already tell you it is waaaayyyy less crowded than the big grocery stores?  I really am enjoying this factor and have noticed how it takes stress off of me when it is more calm inside the store.

The only cons I have found are regarding the meat situation.  There is no deli at The Market, so it is Oscar Meyer or bust.  I also have a thing with Wal-Mart meat.  As in I don't buy it.  Here is how this is playing out.

I'm going to the Market once a week for the main grocery trip run.  This includes breakfast and lunch fixin's as well the other ingredients for the recipes I'll be making that week.  After about 5 days I go to Kroger for meat, more produce, more milk and bread.  This week we are having left-over Italian Beef Sandwiches, Pioneer Woman Calzone's, Train Wreck, and we're grilling burgers one night.

Here is a picture of my Market trip yesterday.  If you haven't tried it you may want to give it a few shots.  If you are like me it may take a trip or two to really decide how you feel about the Market.  It has officially become my main grocery store and I just absolutely love shopping there!

And to address the elephant in the room-No I do not go get a shake at Chick-fil-A when I am done shopping and sit in an air conditioned van reading a book before I go home.

Friday, August 29, 2014


If I may, I need to be completely honest about a few things.

I talked in English class and passed notes and generally did not pay attention. 

You need to know that up front. 

You may also want to know that I love to over-Capitalize random words that I feel are Important.  There is something in my DNA that feels strongly about capitalizing many, many words that say your average Joe may not feel the need to Capitalize.

I thought about trying to write on my blog in all lower case or all caps so that you wouldn't catch on to my problem, but with auto-correct and what not it would have been too time consuming and/or confusing for my brain to process.

You may also be interested in my over use of the comma. 

Oh comma how I love thee.

Generally speaking I also over use the hyphen and ellipsis.

I have absolutely no earthly idea what to do with my semi-colon friend but I have found him useful in emoticon winking.

As long as you are good with all of This, and oh how I Hope you are, then we should be good.

My Commas Anonymous support group assured me that if I just got it all out on the table it would diffuse potential frustration on everyone's part.

Oh, and I am homeschooling my children.


Thursday, August 28, 2014


I am running a super classy state of the art operation over here.  I really am.  I am impeccable with the details because the details are what matters when are opening your home.

I really want you to feel welcomed from the moment you arrive.  In fact, I want you to feel so welcome that I will grab paper and crayon and craft a personal note just for you and tape it to the front door.

I will even include instructional ways to enter my home so that you do not get injured in the process, because I am telling you, it is the details that matter.

p.s. use the pot holder
p.s.s. nothin' but class

I care about you so much that I will put a pot holder on the door handle that heats up to a gazillion point eight degrees thanks to the western sun.

Today I just wanted to make sure you know what you are getting into if you choose to hang with me.  I like to give tips on what works and I always try to keep it a little bit on the ghetto side.

Monday, August 25, 2014


We are all loving our new school year. We ordered our new material and began at the end of May.  That was not an overachiever move on my part, it was a "we had a really slow-rough-didn't get too much done" year last year so when I was up and running from the baby we were all ready to dive right back in.

And by "we were all ready to dive back in" I mean-me

This is our fifth year of homeschooling.  Five years.  The beauty of another year is that God continues to build layers of what He wants our days to look like.  I am feeling more and more confident in my ability to step out and teach things that are not listed on paper that someone else planned for me.

It is liberating for sure.

We have had such a tailor made learning experience so far this year.

I have not felt like a failure!  Neither have the boys!

My comfy chair is where much of my teaching takes place.  Kids piled on couches under blankets.  The little guy usually sits at the dining table building Legos so his hands can be busy and he can listen while he builds.

Since reading out loud together is a majority of our learning experience, it made all the sense in the world to move the book basket to the fireplace.  It is so much more comfortable for us all to settle in for some good stories when we are in the living room.

The disciplined studies which include the English-y and math things happen at the kitchen table.

Where does your family do the majority of your lessons? 

When you think through your schooling needs don't be afraid to think outside of the box.  When I moved most of our school books to the living room it made it so easy for me to grab a book and share a lesson with the kids.