Thursday, September 30, 2010

Forcing creativity...

Last week I was asked by a lady from church to decorate a table for our church's annual "Rejoice" womens event. This is a Christmas-themed event in December where ladies decorate the tables amazingly and we share a meal, a message and some fellowship along the way. I remember walking in last year and thinking, "wow, how on earth do the women come up with these fantastic ideas?". And also thinking... "no way, I'll never do this!". So imagine my shock when from somewhere deep within I heard myself saying "yes, I'll do one!"... via facebook I said it, but still.

I enjoy creating and decorating... at home. It's safe there. And, if someone doesn't like it... thats ok because its MY home. Decorating and creating for the purpose of other people... eeek, geeesh, gasp! But, it really is something I want to learn to do - and I know first hand what a blessing the beautiful night is to so many ladies. I want in on being a blessing to others! So... December... here we come! The planning starts now. I am hereby forcing creativity... and ready to take your ideas.

My task: to decorate a table with 8 seats. I need to make the table pretty but also have 8 place settings of dishes (saucers and cups included). Here are some ideas I found online for centerpieces... Making this on a bigger scale - larger box, large pinecones. Probably multiple boxes and pine cones - then using small cones as verse holders, etc. I love the nature-ish aspect of this.

Or then we could do the other direction entirely...

Vivid colors, out of the norm designs, etc. I dunno... way too many ideas running through this ol' mind today. Thankfully I have some time to get my act together and do some good planning.

But I wonder... what kinds of things do you enjoy seeing at Christmas? Good old fashioned red and green, maybe some retro something, bright colors, basic whites, blues? If you were going to a womens Christmas event what kind of table would you like to be sitting at to feel the most festive? Maybe I should do some kind of giveaway to get some good answers...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


"The depth of a friendship - how much it means to us... depends, at least in part, upon how many parts of ourselves a friend sees, shares, and validates."
-Lillian Rubin

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More ideas for decorating on a budget...

How strange that yesterday my blog topic was decorating on a budget, because upon opening my blog browser today there were mulitple other bloggers who wrote on that! Great minds must think alike. ;)

I know that lots of people have already heard the buzz about the "Dollar Tree/Dollar Store hurricanes". I know I've seen it at least 10 times on other blogs. If you haven't heard yet - these stores sell clear, glass, candlestick holders and clear candle vases/mini hurricanes, etc. that you can glue together to create Pottery Barn/ Williams Sonoma-ish hurricanes. They are so pretty and creativity is endless with clear glass! Agree? Here's a pic I saw today at yet another posting about this craft:

I love the idea of using cinnamon sticks and ribbon! LOVE! And I believe this lady spent under $5 on vase filler. So, yet another tip that I might just try. Oh, and, here's the easiest "how-to" site I have found to make them. Enjoy! And if you make it (or already have) - share your pics! I'd love to see!

*Thanks to "My blessed Life" for the great idea and pretty pic!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Decorating... on a budget

Anyone else battle with materialism this time of the year {through Christmas}? I do. Last night our pastor publicly prayed for the women in our church to avoid materialism, coveteousness, etc. and I am thankful for his prayers... as I do struggle with those temptations on a week to week basis. Praise the Lord that we don't have a ton of "extra" stacks of money lying around just waiting for me to buy "things" with. But I will tell you... I do like to celebrate seasons and holidays with my family, and, I am teaching my daughter to how keep a home - this includes some pretty little things here and there.

As I mentioned a few posts back, when it comes to Autumn decor my options are limited. Thankfully, a few darling boys from church went on an acorn hunt for me. That helped. And I found a few antique candle holders that were my great-grandmothers. They have pretty orange glass inside some black iron ball shaped holders. Sounds weird - but, they are great for this time of the year. I have been trying to come up with some FREE or very cheap ideas to kind of transform our home a little bit. Since I have no degree in design or art or the like... I have to rely on those people who get paid to do it. (or friends that don't mind if my house practically mirrors theirs) Intro... my beloved... I know I say this all the time, but, I find SO much use from that site & magazine. Just today I got October's issue and its jam packed with fall recipes, decor & garden ideas, etc. If you have an extra $3 it would be worth your money, I think. Anyway, the other day i was on the site and came across this -

This is their Dried Gourd Luminaries! Go ahead, sigh and awwww, I did. I think they are so gorgeous and would make a wonderful table centerpiece or entry way table thing, er, whatever. My only problem is... coming across large dried gourds isn't happening. I've checked. Please share if you know of any. So here's my idea: instead of drilling fresh gourds - I'm going to get some gold and bronze glitter from my local Dollar Tree, grab some glue and instead of fire holes... I'll have glitter dots that will catch the sun instead. :) The Dollar Tree has fake gourds right now, too! The garland is beautiful... and I'm on a hunt for a cheap way to get that, too. Simple. Easy. and afforadable. And, if I use the fake gourds...something I can use again and again! If you'd like to see the REAL instructions on these beauties - check it out here.

Another idea came from the Thrify Decor Chic - also involving things from dollar stores. LOVE. And instead of explaining I'll just post a pic and let you check it out here. {I did not take this is from her amazing site}

But, here's my question... what are some things you do to make your home a Fall haven for your family? Special foods or decor? Types of music? rearrange anything?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Letting go of One

Today is September 25th. {Exactly 3 months from Christmas} SORRY! I had to...

Anyway, today is the 25th and the month has been flying by us. It dawned on me this last week how fast my little girl is growing up - just about as fast as the months keep flying by. Makes sense I guess. She's be 2 Dec. 16th!

She's is saying so many words and partial sentences. She has preferences and opinons. She interacts with me and others. She's intelligent and loves learning. Lately she has been taking her leap frog fridge magnets and lining them up in a horizonal line across the fridge. Then, if you listen closely, she begins to rattle off "the alphabet" : "A, B, D, Sick, J, P, A, 2". (sick, is six, btw) Everything has an order with her. From the way she lines up those magnets, to her bath toys all on the side of the tub, to her books and baby dolls. She loves to count and can get all the way to 10 by herself - with me only helping on 7. For real!

When we are in the car listening to a cd she says, "next song" each time one ends. She asks for "Burgers" by name as well as "milk", "apples" and the generic "snack". She's understanding the idea of the potty though she's not quite ready to take the plunge (ew, pun!) and can now name several body parts when she's in the tub.

My little girl is growing up and changing. And causing her momma to sigh in both pride and a little tinge of sadness. I'm slowly but surely preparing myself to say goodbye to One. It is NOT easy. But with every unprompted "Tank too" (thank you), bear hug, or act of obedience... it's makes it a little more easier to accept.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Buh-Bye Summer

Did anyone stay up to see the harvest moon last night? Supposedly it was amazing... and the sun passing over the equator now pushes us full force into a most beloved FALL! Happy Fall!

I messed up our meal schedule and somehow don't have anything "Fallish" on the menu for tonight :( And with the rain pouring down outside it doesn't look like we'll get to our "1st day of Fall walk" after that "fall dinner". Ah well - my pumpkin candle is blazing away downstairs, its kinda gray and cool and feels like fall... we'll take it! And, this weekend we are planning a pumpkin patch/corn maze trip to a local place. I think Ava is just the right age to LOVE that!

Last week Brad's mom was in for a grandkid/family visit and I made an apple pie from scratch! {well, for the crust I scratched open the box of crusts} But I did do all the rest! It was delish and a fun way to celebrate a new season.

It also got me in the mood for holiday baking. So, I may or may not have busted out a few of my Christmas and Thanksgiving cookbooks. Don't judge!

Last week I also pulled out some of my Autumn decor only to realize, I have very little to pull out. Mostly homemade things my mom whipped together - sewn pumpkins, etc. Things I love. But now that I own a home - I'm seeing how much more creative I need to be. We can no way purchase new decor for every holiday... so I turned to nature this year. We have been gathering acorns from local parks and in front of our house, sticks with berries on them, leaves to press and dry, dried corn cobs, etc. I was able to purchase a table runner for our dining room table - gotta love Kohl's deals!

So in my mind... even if 90 degrees comes back again... I'm sayin' "Buh-Bye Summer", it was nice knowin' ya! :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

.::This parenting thing::.

I am truly humbled at how God answers so many of my prayers on a day to day basis. Little things like, "Lord, pleeeease let her sleep in just 10 minutes this morning", or "God, Thank you for loving me... please protect my hubs as he drives to work", and the list goes on.

One thing that I have been praying for off and on since Ava was born was that I could join a mom's bible study (or any for that matter...) that provided child care so I could actually go. So when I read in our church bulletin that ladies bible studies were starting - I eagerly ran my finger down the list and right there at the end of my nose read, "Child Care provided" to the study that I had my heart set on. {gulp} My heart fluttered as the realization hit me... I can be a part of this and my child can be, too, just a door away. No searching for sitters, no awkward drop offs, just a pleasant 7 minute drive to church, where she is comfortable and familiar. Score!

Last week was the beginning of our study on the book, "Growing Grateful Kids", by Susie Larson (who has a blog here). This study is all about teaching kids to see God in the ordinary and how to appreciate Him and all He does for us - for them. The second part is that we can't CHANGE our kids - but we can change how we teach them, react to them, raise them. And I'm so desperate to learn from God's word and this study tool on how to do these things. I want Ava to grow up and adore God and see him in the normal, everyday life stuff. I want her to tear up when God provides for us, works in our lives or teaches us a lesson. Like I do. {If I'm paying attention}

Though I'm only into chapter 3... I've already been a bucket of tears a few times reading Susie's account of raising her little ones with this grateful-Godward focus. After chapter 1 this was my journal entry: {warning...being vulnerable here}

"This parenting thing is a huge deal! I've been having so many difficulties with Ava this week - from spankings to food battles to nap time drama to saving her from jumping out windows. It's very easy for me to jump to anger as my solution - raise my voice or roughly push/pull her around to obey. Then I wonder why her choice play right now is to pretend she's spanking her babies or shouting "no" at them. :/ It's in these everyday moments that I am being refined & molded...and Ava, too. I'm trying so hard to live intentionally and teach her by example. Some days are just better then others..." Sept. 16, 2010

Can I share two very refreshing thoughts from Susie's book? Both of which met me right where I was last week - feeling overwhelmed, insufficient, ungrateful & lost.

"But during the times when I was actually willing to lay down my agenda and pick up God's promise to provide, I found peace that was better then getting my way. I found something else too, the desire to thank Jesus for what I already had."


"When our strength is unequal to the task, we see the strength of God come to bear in our lives."

I was so encouraged by her words and motivated that I CAN DO THIS PARENTING THING! And I must do it well... for all our sakes.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Phil. 4:6

Monday, September 20, 2010

Love/Hate relationship

After over a week of being computer-less we are back up and surfing the web again. Well, my surfing really only covers a few sites...but, still, we are back. The Geek Squad sat here at this very desk and worked on our beast computer for 2 hours, killing multiple viruses and installing our new internet protection. Thank you Geek Squad!

I have a love/hate relationship with technology - this even include my microwave. I know it's important stuff and helpful, obviously, I love being able to blog or shop or whatever... but, as much as I love it - I hate the problems that come with it. Today I found out that people actually get paid, as a job, to create viruses! Can you believe that? Imagine a man walking out in the morning and saying, "bye honey, I'm off to infect half the states computers with internet viruses". What kind of person is that?! Bah virus making people, bah!

Hmmm... other news...
Ava is now 21 months old.
Fall is fully underway in our youth ministry and super super busy.
Brad's mom came for a visit last week.
We are going to OK in October for a wedding

Yea, not too much. Happy Monday!

Friday, September 10, 2010

..Welcoming Fall..

Yesterday I was back on the "creating traditions" band wagon, as I prepared for this new season approaching - Fall :) Every year since Brad and I were married I've tried to do things that felt "fallish"...usually involving food, because, that's what I know. And of course the occasional trip to orchards, pumpkin patches, etc. Which, we are doing next month! Yesterday was day #1 of Autumn Desserts in our home - for the month of September I'm doing all apple desserts. This one was super easy and just the perfect size!

Spiced Apple Cake

11 T. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 c. peeled apple slices, any variety
2 c. all-purp flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs
2/3 c. milk
(whipped cream - optional)

1) Place 3 T. of the butter in a 9in. round nonstick cake pan. Coat sides of pan with nonstick spray. Place pan in oven while heating to 325. When butter is melted, remove pan from oven. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. sugar. Carefully fan apple slices, overlapping, in pan.

2) Sift flour, baking powder, cloves, allspice and salt into a medium sized bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat remaining 8 T. butter and remaining 1 c. sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs. Add half of the flour mix, the milk, then remaining flour. Beat until smooth. Pour into pan. (I use my stand mixer for this)
3) Bake cake at 325 for 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Run a butter knife around the edge of the cake; invert onto serving plate. Remove pan; replace any stuck apples - serve warm and with whipped cream! :) {garnish with nutmeg or cloves dusting}

While I was working on this cake - I tried my hand at homemade {from scratch} Gnocchi. I love the stuff at restaurants and was planning on making Gnocchi Alfredo casserole for dinner. I had gone to 2 stores looking for the refrigerated, pre-made kind and no one had them. So, I thought... can't be that hard, right? {snicker, snicker} I will tell you... it's not that it's super difficult but that it takes sooooo much time. I think I worked on just the gnocchi part of dinner for well over an hour. But it was worth it! The recipe I used was found in the Good Housekeeping Cookbook and was two pages long - so, yea, won't be sharing that one on here...but you can def find recipes all over the web or in your cookbooks at home if interested. But I do have some pics of my progress along the way! This was a huge accomplishment for me, and, my family loved them!

So, after you boil potatoes, peel them (while still hot), put them through a hand held food mill or ricer, combine with flour and salt, roll them out, cut them... then you are almost done. I didn't do the fancy fork tine impression on them, simply because it already taking so long I couldn't imagine spending another 15 minutes making them look pretty. :/ But I did boil them and plop them into my dinner recipe and then we waited 30 minutes while the smell of parmesan cheese filled the kitchen.

The end result was well worth the effort - and our first FALL meal was a success!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

From the pen of J.I. Packer

"What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it - the fact that He knows me. I am graven on the palms of His hands; I am never out of His mind. All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him because He first knew me and continues to know me."
-J.I. Packer

"When You said, "Seek my face,"
My heart said to You, "Your face, Lord, I will seek."
Psalm 27:8

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

You know they're almost two when...

..They can climb into the tub by themselves.

And they do.

In their diaper.
Obviously we are keeping an extra close eye on this one!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's a Labor Day Miracle!

Ok, perhaps not a real miracle...but, definitely a blessing! Do you remember a few months back I blogged about the blessing of toilet paper? Someone gave us massive amounts of toilet paper just out of the blue - and it was very timely as we were out! Well, those same people have lavished upon us again - only this time with...

Yep, count 'em... 6 boxes of name brand, sweet, and delicious cereal!
{don't mind the mess behind them} This is just such a generous blessing to us this Labor Day weekend that we are thankful to God for. I don't usually get to buy brand name cereals and we LOVE those Reeses Puffs! What a joy to know people who just love to give... and who challenge me to be giving, too. :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

And I quote...

"God gave me a mind, and I am sure He meant for me to use it."
-Kathy Peel
There's a noteable quoteable if I ever heard one! Does any else feel like some days they just run through life with the ol' gray matter on "auto pilot"?
Just a thought.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lazy Saturday

Enjoying one of those Saturdays where everyone seems to just be letting out a long sigh from a busy week. Our house is in total choas as toys and dishes, clothes and shopping bags are tossed about here and there. It's a no cleaning, lounging on the couch, football on tv kind of day - and we like it like that. At least... for a few hours. This afternoon we'll get a gussied up to attend a wedding and then life will kick back into overdrive - but for now, the robe is still on, hair pulled back in the ponytail and the hubs is propped up in his favorite spot in his pj's. {sweet}

I'm thinking about getting back into photography. Ok, wait a minute, I'm thinking of getting INTO photography. I've always loved taking pictures, tho nothing fancy and def with no skill involved. I haven't a clue on how to use any kind of picture program on the computer or any of the terms for angles, etc. But I do love capturing beauty in a moment. Prior to Ava joining our family I used to sneak out and take "nature shots" all the time. Mind you we've always lived in a "city" so my nature shots were spiders in our bush out front, or a pinecone on the sidewalk... but still nature. A few years ago Brad was a guest speaker at Camp Bayouca in NY state. I was able to go with him and we had a great weekend ministering to some teens and spending some solitude time away from our jobs - in a more nature-ish place. One morning I woke up early and grabbed my lil' camera and just went picture happy. This morning I was looking back through them, thus the new notion to get into photography somehow. I love what I see on the other side of a camera lens!

And I don't have the skill... I just know what I like - so I find it and shoot it. But, maybe someday...somehow... I could really get into it. But for now, back to lazy Saturday.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Let's try this again...

I have been trying for TWO days to get just the right background template, layout, etc. etc..blah blah blah and I'll tell you what - there is NO more time allowed on this! :) I hope you enjoy a taste of fall on my blog now instead of just reading about it! :) Man o' Man I have so much to learn about all of this.

Happy September! My little fam and I celebrated today by sleeping in, having Cinnamon-Nutmeg pancakes for breakfast and then spending most of the mid-morning @ one of our local parks. It was a toasty 58 degrees and there could be nothing more perfect in my mind then watching my little one run around with her denim jacket on...blond hair blowing in the wind! My hubs and I had a pretty great time, too. I don't think we have swung on monkey bars or gone down slides in quite some time... it was so refreshing just to cut loose and have fun together. And it helped that NO ONE was at the park but us! {love daddy's Fridays off!}
Football season is underway, the breeze is cool and the windows are open! No offense Dean Martin, but, this is the "most wonderful time of the year!".

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Because my husband is a youth pastor we often times get random things in the mail. Well, I suppose all of you do, but, our random things are kinda fun. We've gotten samples of mugs with music groups names on them, band pins, goop mix (sticky stuff basically), prayer rugs, etc. Apart from fun mail we also get little random "youth pastor boxes" from our local Family Christian Store full of equally random "youth" things - including tester CD's of new bands, weird t-shirts that would never sell and book know, those kinds that have just chapter 1 then a bunch of ads.

Several months ago in one such box we got one of the break-out music cd's. I always love those. It's such a mixed bag of weird, slightly good and just... "never gonna make it" music. There was a group on there called, "Tal & Acacia" that I had never heard of but intriqued me after hearing their song, "Garbage In"... they kind have a Barlow Girl-ish, Sixpence, kind of sound, maybe a tinge sweeter? Anyway, after doing some research I came across their song "Yahweh" and it was so refreshing and encouraging to me this morning. So you just never know what will be an encouragement to you in a day, do ya?! So thankful for Yahweh!

I want to Gaze at you
Soak in all you do
Sit so simply at your feet
Listen To your voice so sweet
And Let time Pass Away
(Chorus) As I simply Praise Yahweh
My Lord I cry Jehovah Elohim
The Lord Most High
and When my hands are raised
My Knees they fall
As I simply Praise Jehovah
Cry As I see your blood stains
Overwhelmed As I see your pain
And I'll dance, dance,
dance Because I am set free
You are my conqueror Jehovah Nissi
And Let time Pass Away
Do I believe that you're my God
That You're all I need
So Let time Pass Away
My Daddy, My Abba, My Best Friend

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sept. 1, 2010

We woke up this morning to overcast skies, damp trees and grass and I think I caught a whiff of someone who was either burning leaves (already!) or possibly turned on their wood burning stove...tho I can't imagine it got THAT cold last night.

September. I love it. And this year we will be making the most of it. Afterall, we are fully moved in - this time last year we were closing/packing/moving. I went to Hobby Lobby this morning with Ava girl and we walked almost every aisle hoping to get some ideas on how to spruce up our home a bit. Autumn is my favorite and every aisle held a crazy expensive temptation. I found what I was looking for and we quickly left before I caved on the $20 plastic pumpkin! ahhh! WHO pays that?!

So, the Autumn decor is going up today. It's my own little tradition. I love putting up the red, glittery leaves above the kitchen window. My home-made harvest wreath is on the front porch door, pumpkin spice candles are burning and Mozart is playing in the background. The mood is set in my home. It's warm and comfortable... and I can't help but bubble over with Thanksgiving for another awesome year the Lord has given to us. While I know Thanksgiving is still months away... this time of the year always seems more "thanksgiving-ish" to me. Routine is back. I dunno.

The "Summer, Slow Down Bible Study" has been going well with the girls. This week we looked at choosing coaches and cheerleaders {aka: mentors and encouraging friends} and the girls open up a little more each week. It's refreshing to sit down with teen girls and hear them open up about life and their struggles and victories, fears and failures. What a challenge. And I love the groups diversity... homeschool, public school, Christian school.... newly saved, saved at childhood, maybe not saved. I'm thankful for this opportunity and eager to watch them all grow. Something dawned on me this past Monday night, and it's going to sound weird - but, these girls are just like me. They all have insecurities. They want friends but don't have the 'know how' of how to get good ones. They battle the flesh. They desire God. It just struck me that sometimes I feel so distant and far away...but it wasn't too very long ago that I was the 15 year old sitting on my youth pastors wifes' couch, feeling squirmy and awkward but so wanting that attention and guidance.

Sigh. So many thoughts today. God is good. September 1, 2010 - welcome!