Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Works For Me!

This week, I thought I'd share and ask for ideas from you on keeping in touch! If you are like our family, we all live in different states spread all over the place. So, keeping in touch with one another requires a little more effort and creativity than just hopping in the car or walking next door.

A couple of ways I work at this relate to Emily (our 19 month old). I started a little newsletter that I send out twice a month called the Emily Edition, which includes recent photos and a narrative of what Emily is learning and doing at this stage. (I'm not sure my idea to link to this worked, any suggestions?) I never thought of what a great scrapbook it would make for her, but with the printed out pages slipped into plastic sheet protectors and put in a three-ring photo album, it is so priceless!

We also try to send out a mini-movie on Sunday evenings called the Sunday Family Movie. Our digital camera takes these little movies and then we e-mail them out to family. We try to keep it at 10 seconds or less to keep the size of the file down. Then, at her birthday, we made a DVD of movies and pictures from the year called, "Emily: Year In Review". She LOVES to watch this and I hope it becomes an annual tradition for us to do this for her and any future children.

Now, what works for you? I'd love to learn some new and creative ideas for keeping in touch over the distance! Click here for more WFMW ideas!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Porch Picnic

Here are some pictures from the picnic we had last night on our porch! It was so fun ~ I wish I had thought to eat out there before now. There was a slight breeze which kept the bugs away and I had red and white citronella candles around the porch railing, though they did not stay lit very long with the breeze.

I used old white sheets for the underneath layers of table coverings and dyed them in tan Rit dye ~ I had tried tea-staining, but it did not work the way I was hoping for.

David cooked hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill and we had chips, carrots, apple slices, baked beans, and apple pie with ice cream. I poured water and sweet tea into pint size canning jars and place a lemon slice in each one. Then put all the jars into a big enamelware tub filled with ice to keep everything cold and looking cute! :)

David's Dad came and my friend Christy and her two children ~ her husband is in the military, so this was our opportunity to thank them for their involvement in serving our country. We played croquet and the two little girls enjoyed playing and taking a wagon ride!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Thank you to anyone who has served, is serving, and will serve in our military. To you and your family, I am grateful for the sacrifices you make.

We try to invite someone over who is in the military each year on patriotic holidays to "thank" and honor them for their service. Or, take cookies to someone who has served in the past.

We're having a picnic tonight ~ not sure who is coming yet ~ I'll post some pictures tomorrow!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Stroll Through Our Garden

Won't you join me for a quiet and peaceful stroll through our garden?

Bush Daisies

Whirling Butterfly

Gallardia Goblin

Nikko Blue Hydrangea (my personal favorite!)

Our very first apple! (I tried three times and this picture came out blurry every time because of the breeze, sorry!)

Yeah, Emily!

Over the past months, we have been planning to move Emily to a twin bed sometime around the end of May in preparation for her new sister. The room is complete (as you saw in a previous post) and it was just a matter of deciding when to start this. I was kind of nervous about it all this time because she is such a wonderful sleeper in her crib and I was afraid to mess with that. However, yesterday she took her nap in the new bed, and slept there all night last night without a single peep! Good girl! And, I am full of praise to God this morning, as I have been praying for His guidance and wisdom about this!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

O Canning Jar

I have a *thing* for canning jars, I just love them! Interestingly, one of my dad's anscestors was the founder of Ball Canning Jars! I love that! Anyone else have a favorite use for this most versatile and wonderful of kitchen and home accessories?!

O Canning Jar, O Canning Jar
How varied are thy uses!
O Canning Jar, O Canning Jar
How varied are thy uses!
You look so lovely filled with fruit,
With budding flowers, soil, and root.
O Canning Jar, O Canning Jar
How varied are thy uses!

O Canning Jar, O Canning Jar
How varied are thy uses!
O Canning Jar, O Canning Jar
How varied are thy uses!
When filled with glowing candle light,
with jams and jelly such delight!
O Canning Jar, O Canning Jar
How varied are thy uses!

O Canning Jar, O Canning Jar
How varied are thy uses!
O Canning Jar, O Canning Jar
How varied are thy uses!
When filled with goodies for a gift,
Or simply on a shelf you sit.
O Canning Jar, O Canning Jar
How varied are thy uses!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Please Join Me!

I am just starting a Bible Study with some friends from church, gathering twice a month and reading Seasons of a Mother's Heart by Sally Clarkson.

I know nothing about the book, the author, the ministry they run, etc... so cannot say what to expect. But, I am going to read this book with the desire of learning more about God and more about the kind of wife and mother He wants me to be. Anyone want to join in?

I'll be reading one chapter every two weeks and posting a few thoughts or highlights from the chapter...I'd love to have you read along and share your ideas and thoughts as well. We won't be sharing to dispute opinions or judge beliefs, but simply to encourage one another in the growing of our faith and walk in the Lord!

Chapter One:

Observation: I noticed right off that this book is written by a homeschooling mother for other homeschooling mothers. Since I am not a homeschooling mother, I am choosing to read what she is really saying to mothers. It is easy to see how what she writes can be applied to motherhood or even being a biblical woman regardless of our mothering status.

What stood out to me:
"God wants me to find His joy. He wants every single day of my life to be a celebration of His blessings, whether they are large or small. He wants me to celebrate life...the life He has given me." pg 6

"True joy is found by living somewhere between the 'ideal life' and 'daily realities.'" pg 6

"Because when you are thankful, I (God) can see that you are acknowledging My sovereign control over all the circumstances of your life, whether good or bad." pg 8

"...reach for God instead of reaching for happiness." pg 11

"...adjusting your expectations to life's limitations." pg 11

"My joy is dependent upon my relationship with my Lord, and our celebration together of this life He has given to me." pg 13

Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 Questions:
* "If the things of this world are 'beautiful' yet we have 'eternity' written on our hearts, how will that affect our view of life?"
We will look at life through the lens of eternity, seeing the beauty around us much easier. We will also see the beauty as a mere glimpse of things to come in the eternal.

* "Why has God given us good things to enjoy if they are only temporary?"
I think God wants us to enjoy life here on earth, knowing that we are only passing through. These are some of God's sweet gifts to us that we can enjoy His creation, using our gifts to help others and serve Him, and when we live the way He would choose for us, we can receive the sweet blessings of enjoying our life lived in Him.

* "What will 'endure forever' from the life God wants us to enjoy?"
The things of God ~ His character, His plans, His Word, and His children ~ those who have trusted in Him as their Savior.

* "What will endure forever from your family?"
The only thing that will last is the soul who has trusted in Jesus as their Savior. I will give an account for the way I invested my time, energy, talents, and resources; but what I do with God and His gift of eternal life is the only thing that will really endure forever.

Philippians 4:10-13 Questions:
* "What circumstances is God using in your life to help you 'learn' to be content?"
It seems that there is always at least one area that God is using to encourage me to lean more heavily on Him because it is difficult. Relying on Him and in His strength is the only way I can be content and the only way I can ever have the strength to live the life He wants me to live for Him.

* "How do you know that you would be content whether you were 'in need' or if you had 'plenty'?"
I think of it this way, being in need or having plenty does not necessarily have to apply to physical or financial resources. When I feel like things are going well (feeling plentiful) it is easy to feel content and when I am struggling (feeling in need) I can choose to be content. Contentment comes down to choice for me. If I choose to let thoughts or feelings in which would take away from this contentment, I can go downhill very fast. But, when I guard the gate to my mind and heart, I can choose contentment much easier and a lot more often!

* "How are you modeling to you chldren that you 'can do everything through Him who gives me strength'?"
Hmmm, I'm not exactly sure how this comes across to an 18-month old, but when I live in the center of God's will (which is my goal, not always my true location) I can know that I am living in His strength and that will overflow to those around me.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 Questions:
* "What most often keeps you from experiencing joy?"
Pressure or stress that I place on myself to meet my expectations. Again, it is a choice ~ that is one reason I loved the quote mentioned earlier on page 6 about living between ideal and reality. I am notorious for high expectations and must choose to lower these to allow myself to experience joy sometimes.

* "What would you need to do to be one who prays 'continually'?"
Discipline my mind to have an attitude of prayer and to pray conversationally with God throughout the day taking "every thought captive" and focusing on God. I think this comes down to discipline.

* "What are the areas in your own life for which God wants you to give thanks, even though they are difficult?"
Things that don't go the way I want them to, relationships that are difficult or challenging, struggles, opportunities for learning more about Him and how to live more like Him day by day.

* "Do you believe you can do 'God's will' according to this verse? Why, or why not?"
Only in light of Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." If I said I could not do it, I would be right if I meant in my own strength. But, if I said it was impossible, that would be saying to God that I think His strength is not enough for me.

Nehemiah 8:1-12 Questions:
* "How did Nehemiah, the governor, encourage them (the Jews returning from captivity when hearing the Word of God)?"
He encouraged them to set this day as sacred to God and to enjoy it with delicious food and sweet drink. He encouraged them to look out for the needs of others by challenging them to share of what they had with those who were not prepared. He reminded them, most importantly, that the "joy of the Lord is your strength".

* "If you were grieving, how would his words encourage you?"
I would be encouraged to realize that there is strength available for me to draw on through the Lord. I would be challenged to be willing to set aside my grief and desire to wallow in it, to actually choose to draw on this strength.

* "How can rejoicing in God give you strength in the midst of life's difficulties?"
It changes my focus from 'me' to 'Him'. When I am not looking at me and feeling sorry for myself or having a pity party, I can more fully experience His gracious love and this will overflow to others.

My Life Applications:
* Personal: She encourages us to make a list of the things we are most thankful for and use this list each day this week in our quiet time to thank God for our blessings. At a point when I was struggling with being thankful or content, I started a thankfulness journal. I wrote five things a day that I was thankful for and some days I simply did not want to do it, because to think of these five things would require me to forget about me. Hmmm, exactly the point! I have not been consistent in keeping up with writing the things down, but - think I'll pull it out for this week and practice this!

* Family: She suggests planning a family fun night one time this coming week. Something everyone in the family will enjoy. We have set aside Friday nights as a time when we don't usually plan other things or invite people over - it is our family time. While it is not usually structured or planned, I know we can count on this time together as family. Tonight is date night for David and I since the youth of our church are offering free babysitting! But, a play-in-the-water outside night would be a hit with Emily and I recently found some ice cream store gift there are a couple of ideas for us over the next few weeks!

Reading this chapter has challenged and encouraged me, I hope you'll share your thoughts as you have time!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Works For Me!

Yes, it's time for another installment of WFMW sponsored by Shannon!

When I was first married, and then when our first baby was born, I was so discouraged with my house cleaning chores. What would usually happen is that I would run around and clean one day and then wait a couple of weeks until everything was so dirty I could not stand it again and repeat. This was a stressful way for me to clean and I wanted so much to come up with some better system.

Then, my sister gave me the book Cleaning Up The Clutter by Emilie Barnes and I soaked it up like a sponge. This book is very helpful and practical! Anyway, I have come up with the following chore list based on adapting what is listed in her book and this is what really does Work For Me!

Monday: thoroughly clean kitchen counters and sink; water plants

Tuesday: laundry, vacuum, clean master bathroom, iron

Wednesday: sweep and mop floors

Thursday: dust, clean window by front door, clean hall bathroom

Friday: laundry, change sheets, vacuum

She encourages you to skip the day if you can't get the chores done and just pick up the next day instead of trying to play catch-up, and I have had to do that from time to time. Take the time to visit Shannon's list of other participants for lots of great ideas!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

We're Home!

Emily and I had a great time with my sister, Carrie ~ and thought you might enjoy seeing some highlights!

Emily and her first face-painting experience at the Tulip Festival:

Our plate of goodies shared at the Simple Pleasures tea room:

Carrie and Emily at the Tulip Festival Parade:

Seeing the tulips, of course:

Emily and I walking through, and enjoying, the Tulip Test Gardens:

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Works For Me!

Since we'll be travelling tomorrow, I decided to post my ideas today. Check Shannon's blog for lots more participants and great ideas!

I have a couple of small ideas, so decided to post them all together this week:

1. I keep two small wire baskets on the desk by the front door - one for sunglasses and one for keys. This has eliminated our problem of trying to remember where these items are!

2. Grace introduced me to the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser this past week - I found one on clearance for less than a dollar and had fun going around the house getting marks off of toys, walls, etc... This really does work!

3. My husband loves sweet tea and I felt like I was always making it, so have come up with a new solution of making two or three batches at a time and keeping it in the fridge just needing to be constituted when the pitcher is empty!

4. I used to melt candles in the oven to get them out of candle holders when they were too short to burn, but read in Martha Stewart about putting them in the freezer. This is so much easier and requires lots less clean up! Just put the entire candle holder in the freezer for about 30 minutes and when you take it out the candle will pop right out!

Tulip Festival!

Emily and I are headed to Orange City tomorrow to visit my sister (aka "Fun Aunt Carrie")! One of the events we are looking forward to is the Tulip Festival! Should be great fun! This will be our last out of town adventure until after the new baby is born, so we're going to make the most of it!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Emily's New Room!

I've been working on the spare bedroom over the last few weeks to transform it from "The Room of Doom" to Emily's new room! We named it "T.R.O.D." after we first got married and simply used it to store/stash anything we didn't know where else to put. Then, we got it livable and made it into a guest room but it was still messy. Then it turned doom-like again. Anyway, in preparation for moving Emily to a twin bed later this month, I decided to really clean out, get rid of, and fix up this room. I love how it has turned out - I'm only sorry that I didn't take any before pictures! We did not purchase any new furniture ~ but reused what we had. I painted the one chest of drawers yellow and re-did the trim on the other dresser and headboard. My friend Grace helped me put up the wallies and my Mom helped me to do some more sorting and organizing. David moved all the furniture and he and his brother put up the new blinds which were purchased from the proceeds of the yard sale! Thanks, everyone, for your help! I'm thrilled with the results:

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day!

The one I call Mom and the one who calls me Mama...surrounded by special people! :) Happy Mother's Day to all moms today! You are special!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mashed Potatoes Remade

Pondering what I wanted for lunch today and knowing there were some leftover mashed potatoes, I came up with a yummy way to eat them that tastes different than just heated leftovers.

Place one flour tortilla in a skillet and spread half of it with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, shredded cheese, and bacon bits. Fold the empty half of the tortilla over to make a quesadilla ~ lightly brown on both sides and cut into wedges.

This was so yummy and easy! It tasted like a baked potato in a tortilla - mmmm!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Kindred Spirit

Not everyone has a chance in their lifetime to make a friend who is truly a kindred spirit. God has given me such a sweet and special one in my friend, Grace! She is here visiting for a few days and we are having such a great time together. I am so thankful for her! Seriously, I know she is a good friend because who else would help me pull weeds, cut scarves for 200+ children for VBS, and work on making envelopes for the baby announcements I want to send out in a few months?! Thank you, Grace ~ you are a treasure!

Fun Idea!

Reading Meredith's blog this morning, I saw a link to a fun idea - since I just read it this morning, I won't be participating today - but think it looks like a fun idea for the future! I also wanted to pass it on in case anyone else wanted to participate!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Yummy Desserts!

I am sorry that I forgot to take a picture of this first recipe, this was amazingly delicious and not hard at all!

Almond-Cornmeal Strawberry Shortcakes
Serves 6 Prep-Time: 1 hour Total Time: 1 hr. 35 min.

What you'll need:
for shortcakes:
6 T. butter or margarine, room temp
1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. sliced almonds
3/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tspn. vanilla
1/4 tspn. salt
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal

for filling:
1 pound strawberries
1/3 c. plus 1 T. sugar
3/4 c. heavy cream

What to do:
1. Make shortcakes: Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour 6 jumbo muffin tins (each 1-cup capacity); set aside. (I used a regular muffin pan and cooking spray)

2. In a food processor, blend 1/2 cup sliced almonds with sugar until finely ground. Add butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt; process until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary (mixture may appear curdled at this point). Add flour and cornmeal; pulse just until moistened.

3. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin tins; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. sliced almonds. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Cool cakes 5 minutes in pan; remove from pan, and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

4. Make filling: Hull and quarter strawberries. In a medium bowl, combine with 1/3 c. sugar. Let stand until syrupy, tossing occasionally, at least 20 minutes (and up to 6 hours, covered and refrigerated).

5. In another medium bowl, using an electric mixer, whip cream with remaining 1 T. sugar until soft peaks form.

6. With a serrated knife, split cooled shortcakes horizontally. Place bottom halves on serving plates. Dividing evenly, layer with sweetened strawberries and whipped cream; cover with shortcake tops.

Pecan Shortbread Bars

Makes 18 Prep-Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 1 hr. 20 min.

1 c. pecan halves

1 c. flour

3/4 c. powdered sugar

1/2 c. cold butter or margarine, cut into pieces

1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray.

2. In a food processor, pulse pecans until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl; set aside. In processor, blend flour, sugar, butter, and salt until moist clumps form. Add reserved pecans; pulse 2 or 3 times, just to incorporate.

3. Press dough evenly into the bottom of prepared pan (if dough is sticky dip fingers in flour). With a floured fork, prick dough every 1/2 inch. Bake until lightly golden, 30-35 min.

4. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Cut bars while still warm and cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Works For Me!

Another installment of WFMW! Visit Shannon's list for other great ideas!

As a new mom, I was trying to figure out how to store toys - what would be useful, practical, and not look tacky or be extremely expensive. This old suitcase has proven to be perfect! If I want to, I can condense the toys and close the lid ~ but even better, it is something I already had that works great for storing Emily's toys. Because it is too full to close, we haven't really had any trouble with caught fingers. I rotate toys in/out of here about every two weeks to keep things interesting, and she loves to play in and around it!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I was tagged by Mary Ann to complete this little ABC Meme, so here goes...

Accent: I can't say that I really have one, I won't be surprised if I pick up some southernisms, but being mostly raised in Colorado, there isn't a specific accent I can point to.

Bible Book that I like: Philippians

Chore I don't care for: Mopping and Ironing

Dog or Cat: dog, can't stand cats!

Essential Electronics: Computer, do household applicances count? If so, I would have to say washer, dryer, fridge, oven, dishwasher.

Favorite Cologne: None

Gold or Silver: I am not a big jewelry person, but I love my pearl necklace from my Grandma and my wedding set which is white gold and platinum with diamonds.

Handbag I Carry Most Often: This one I got for Christmas.

Insomnia: Thankfully, not a common problem.

Job Title: Wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, Chief Operating Officer of all things household related including the carrying out of these tasks!

Kids: Emily ~ 18 months old; baby girl due August 7th

Living Arrangements: with my family in a house

Most Admirable Trait: Quick to smile!

Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: You'd probably have to ask my Mom this one, but I was mean to my sister frequently.

Overnight Hospital Stays: 1995 ~ jaw surgery; 2004 ~ Emily's birth

Phobias: BUGS! Anything that crawls, creeps, flys, buzzes, need I go on?

Quote: "We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." ~ C.S. Lewis

Religion: Christian, non-denominational

Siblings: one sister ~ Carrie; and a foster-sister ~ Brittany

Time I Wake Up: Around 6:30 am

Unusual Talent or Skill: Uncanny ability to know when a bug is in the room!

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Tomatoes

Worst Habit: Causing myself undue stress by having such high expectations.

X-rays: anything teeth/jaw related, neck, hip

Yummy Stuff I Cook: David's favorite is Pasta e Fagioli soup.

Zoo Animal I Like Most: I've always been fascinated by giraffes, I know ~ go figure, I just think they are so interesting!

Your turn now! I tag Michelle and Grace (you can just post your answers in my comment section ok?!)!

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Mitford Experience

Here are some pictures from our trip to Blowing Rock, NC...which was indeed, a Mitford experience. My Mom and I reminded each other that the "Mitford" experience is one we create in our hearts and attitudes, not one that we find in a location! Blowing Rock and neighboring Boone were much more touristy and commercial than I expected. I think my favorite part of the entire thing was where we stayed, in a quiet and small-town feeling valley. Enjoy the pictures!

We stayed at the Mast Farm Inn:

This was the view from our room:

We enjoyed walking down Main Street, a visit to the Mast General Store, a walk through the grounds of St. Mary's of the Hills Episcopal Church. I thought this church even looked like Lord's Chapel. While we were there, the sexton was working on the grounds and offered to take us inside, show us a painting of Mary that they are very proud of, and tell us more about the church. It was another highlight!

We drove by the Samaritan's Purse headquarters and overall enjoyed a relaxing time! Our last night there, we enjoyed dinner at Sonny's Grill ~ known to be the inspiration for Mitford's Main Street Grill:

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A New Decade

Yesterday I entered a new decade of life - the 30's! It was a very special day - my Mom brought me breakfast in bed...

... David surprised me with my first pedicure ever, which was wonderful! And, I got courageous and decided to try a new haircut...

... indeed, it was a great day! Thanks to everyone who helped make it so special!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Works For Me!

Here's another weekly installment sponsored by Shannon! I am really enjoying this feature and learning new tips on household ideas as well!

My Mom is here for the week and we got to talking about photo albums, hat boxes full of memorabilia, etc... and how I could condense some of this! So, she suggested a photo box for all of the pictures - removed from the albums. And, one hat box with certificates, diplomas, and things that were too big for the photo box. So, here is what I started out with:

And, after a lot of sorting between keep and toss, this is what I ended up with:

The smallest hat box only about 2/3 full and a 2/3 full photo box of before-David photos. I also got a photo box for David for before-Monica photos and then will get one for everything after we met and family stuff. This saves me a TON of storage space! Thanks for the idea, Mom!


My Mom and I have been planning this little two-night getaway to Blowing Rock, North Carolina and we leave this morning! Blowing Rock is the home of Mitford author, Jan Karon, as well as a quaint mountain town in the NC mountains. We are excited! More to come after we return!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Foreign Currency

I have some foreign currency (coin and paper money) that I acquired through various travels or from people giving it to me. I am ready to pass this on to someone who collects something like this or who would be interested in it. Countries include Honduras and Czech Republic. I know for sure that the Czech money is obsolete now that they are part of the European Union. I would be especially interested in giving it to a young person who is interested in this. Anyway, if anyone wants it - it's free - just leave a comment that you're interested and we'll be in touch. If more than one are interested, I will put all the names in a drawing and choose one to send it to!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Happy May Day!

It has become a tradition that I enjoy to deliver flowers on May Day! The trick is to keep it a secret and get up early to deliver before you are caught! However, after years of doing this, I was caught for the first time today! Oh well... wish I could deliver all of you a special May Day greeting!