Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tasty Tuesday :)

First, this is how my almost 3 year old says HAPPY AUTUMN...

Thank You Ava Edyn for casually taking a bit from every single one of momma's prized and treasured Gala apples. {ahem} After I was done being grumpy about it... then I got all teary eyed choked up looking at those tiny teeth marks and thinking how one day that won't happen. Ah Geez I'm such a nostalgic!

It's Tuesday and Autumn is CLEARLY present :) As I went to unlock and open up my front door this morning I saw leaves on the ground... yellow leaves! Ah, I love it! Took a few deep breaths and the day already felt amazing!

I'm sharing a recipe today that is just about perfect for this weather and season. It was new to me, tho, I'm sure others make something similar. And, I used those bitten-into apples to whip up the quickest and most delicious baked apple cobbler for dessert. Enjoy!

Simple Sausage Lasagna
1 lb. bulk pork sausage
26oz jar/can spaghetti sauce of choice
1/2 c. water
2 beaten eggs
24oz cottage cheese
1/3 c. grated parmesan
1 1/2 T. dried parsley flakes
1/2 t. EACH garlic powder, pepper, dried basil and oregano
9 uncooked lasagna noodles
3 c. shredded mozzarella

1) In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the spaghetti sauce and water, simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, in a large bowl (or kitchenaid stand mixer) combine eggs, cottage cheese, parmesan, parsley and seasonings.
3) Spread about 1/2 c. sauce mix into a greased 9x13 dish. Layer with 3 noodles and a third of the cheese mixture, meat sauce and mozzarella. Repeat layers twice.
4) Cover and bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 more minutes or until noodles are tender. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. YIELDS 12.

A few clarifications on how I did this...
-Ran out of basil and used Sage instead, which, actually was great because it accented the sage in the sausage :) Yummo!
-We have never waited the 15 minute set up time... and it was fine. A little more runny, but hey, it is a lasagna!
-The recipe called for up to TWO tablespoons of Parsley, but I refrained... a certain little girl has wised up to "hidden" ingredients that are green :) Use what your family likes. It does absolutely call for DRIED parsley, tho.

Enjoy the season, the weather, and the warmth of a delicious home cooked meal!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A life update

Fall is here! Welcome, Welcome! How this momma has missed it. We celebrated the day by attempting to make sugar cookie cutouts... got about 7 done and the chaos was just more then could be handled. :) So, we finished them tonight, complete with icing and sprinkles.

I finally got some fall decor up and I'm happy with what is done. I'm learning to make use of what I have and am still so thankful for my mom passing so much of her stuff down to me. But I have found some inexpensive ways to add some "spice" around here, too. Thank you again to The Dollar Tree for some unexpected finds a few months ago! The above picture is what is hanging on our front porch door. I found the basket and onion grass all at The Dollar Tree, for, you guessed it... a buck a piece! It's simple and warm and cost just a few bucks depending on how much onion grass you use. :) I love it.

While this isn't the best picture of it... we were given this awesome coffee table a few weeks ago. I'm SO thankful for this piece! I had been wanting one for so long but we just didn't have the funds to make it happen. Thankfully a friend was willing to hand it over for FREE! I had this bucket that was bright white and some random plastic pears and a bunch of viney twigs... voila! This is what I came up with for the coffee table. FREE :) It works.

Last, the front porch. Right now its entirely taken over by kids toys. But, this is what I came up with for my hanging shelf. It works for now. Nothing too fancy, but, it was free because I already owned it all. And so now we are ready to celebrate and live in the Autumn.
Last Sunday my husband had the awesome opportunity of baptizing 2 of our teens! That will NEVER get old to watch, for sure. So excited to see how the fruit of this summers growth is carrying on through the fall. Praising the Lord for changed lives!

In just a few months Ava will turn 3 years old. Seems totally impossible that I could be mommy to a 3 year old, but, it's true! She's all about playing dress up, helping me cook, pestering her little sis {sigh} and reading lots of new library books. She's a delight - and yet, learning every single one of my buttons and just how to push them. Lovely. She's completely potty trained and just growing and learning new things by the day!

August is 4 months old and just doing so so well. She is learning so many things at once that I can hardly keep up. She now sucks her thumb and it's absolutely adorable. I love it. She has found her toes, is trying to roll over, and has found her sometimes very loud voice. The other day she was sitting up all by herself, too, causing momma to tear up {of course} at the fact that my baby is already SO big! We started rice cereal this week and she did ok - not really sure about this spoon thing, but, she'll get it eventually.

And as for me...

well, I'm fine. Dreading losing this baby weight especially as all these yummy autumn and winter holiday treats are coming up. I'm still babysitting full time and it's going well. We've pretty much found our groove.

I'm tired a lot. And I've been battling with some loneliness, but, I think every woman must go through this off and on in life. Just thankful for my "Friend that sticks closer then a brother". Fall is underway and life doesn't slow down. There is always a reason to give thanks and I'm fighting for it daily... rejoicing in the little things.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

He knows me

My eyes search the room for something comfortable. I grow so weary of this tug on my heart, my nerves, my whole self... insecurity.
Since when does the extrovert morph into the introvert? And why do I have so much trouble with simple communication?

I know the Father of Lies tries to use this against me. I can feel it. I walk into the House of my God and I'm attacked from all sides. "You aren't loved here", "Your outfit doesn't look right", "Everyone is watching how you raise your children...the wrong way." The lies can almost choke me out. And it's in these moments where I have to fight for truth. I have to battle and wage war against my deceitful heart, human mind and fears. And most importantly I have to remember... IT'S NOT ABOUT ME anyway.

I'm comforted by this alone... HE knows me. My creator. Sustainer. My truest friend. He understands my plight, my fears, my frustrations and desires. And He loves me. Even me. He knows how I want to belong. He knows my insecurity and my strengths. He knows me - He loves me. And I want that to be enough.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Little DIY on this Saturday

Woah, it's been A-while since I've done any kind of DIY project. But the other day while the kids were playing and the baby sleeping... I got a little stir crazy. I'm still working on Ava's room and those bare pink walls are driving me bonkers. I just couldn't think of ANYTHING that would look cute/toddlerish/but not babyish in there, and I knew buying something wasn't an option right now. Here is what I came up with. :)

Materials needed:
3 pieces of cardboard in similar sizes
spray adhesive
scissors to trim cardboard
Material, roughly the same size as cardboard
wooden letters
white spray paint
Hot glue gun and extra glue sticks
Upholstry tacks

First, I gathered my cardboard and trimmed each piece down, as well as cutting rounded sides. I used cardboard leftover from an Amazon shipping box. :)

(Outdoors) Spray the adhesive onto the cardboard and quickly place material onto the cardboard. You'll need to smooth it out and pull it fairly tight. Once it's set up for a few minutes (I waited like 2 minutes) you can then begin to hot glue outside edges of material to the back.

Once all your edges are glued down - it's time to glue down the wooden letter. I applied a LOT of hot glue to the back of my letter, centered it, and pressed down hard for about 30 seconds.

And there you have it! An easy, quick and FREE crafty wall art for the big girls room. :) I used a decorative upholstry tack to hang them up - it's a smaller hole then a nail and a pretty external design. I already had all of the materials at home, but, if you need to buy some of the things you could probably still do this for under $5 is my guess! If this is TOO simple for you - I think you could put frames around each piece or maybe some ribbon ties. I might still do the ribbon eventually...but for now, simple is the name of the game.

My big girl already loves her room - and this was a special, homemade craft by mommy that she thinks is pretty cool, too! And mommy loves that it was FREE! :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My heart is full these days

I adore these days. simple. cool. different.
After a summer of heat and business and chaos its nice to sit back and just live. Not that I wasn't living this summer...but, for those of you like myself who enjoy Autumn the MOST, maybe you know what I mean.

This morning our home is cool and smells like bacon. We actually had family breakfast this morning - cheesy egg sandwiches, bacon and milk. We are wearing blankets and cuddled up on the couch enjoying the chilly morning. I won't turn on the heat... I won't. The children are playing on the floor and our littlest is sleeping. It's calm. Hubby spoiled me and got us coffee drinks from a local coffee shop - add pumpkin pie latte scent to bacon. It's awesome. Why do scents make me feel so alive?

This past weekend we went on a leaders retreat with our youth leaders. It was a great time of connecting and praying and planning. 3 of my favorite things. And while I loved the volleyball games, sessions, Iowa football game (NOT) and our housing... the thing I loved most was my nap under the tree. Yep. I was the crazy lady sleeping under a tree at camp. :) And I know you've heard me blabber on and on of how I love nature, etc. It was such an encouraging and refreshing time to watch the sky by myself, alone, for an extended time. I keep thinking of that nap. Clearly, I was impacted by just enjoying creation. So thankful for that opportunity.

My girls are growing and changing. August is so close to rolling over. She is precious, and smiley and content almost all the time. We'll start cereal already next week! Lately I've found myself lingering over feedings, taking extra time in the rocking chair or just sneaking in minutes during diaper changes just admiring my little one. It really does go by so quickly. Ava will turn 3 in December. I've already shed a few tears thinking about that. She's so smart and beautiful. Her favorite thing right now is watching Mary Poppins and speaking in a British accent. Hilarious. Most days I feel like a failure as I'm learning how to communicate with her, teach her and train her for this life. God is good and His Grace is sufficient...so thankful for His Grace in my life.

Hubs is going away this weekend for a mens retreat. I'm praying he enjoys his time and comes home rejuvenated. We are busy, busy with the fall schedule. There is always some sports game or band show or student activity. We love this life and we are thankful to impact lives and have our own influenced, as well. I'm thankful for the routine of the Fall.

My heart is very full lately. I still can't put my finger on just WHAT exactly it is...perhaps its just being. I'm so blessed. We are learning so much and growing a little more each day.
Autumn brings out the best in me...

Monday, September 12, 2011

And the list goes on... in Multitudes

I miss blogging. I'm still trying to figure out when the best time for me to blog will be. If you aren't in my "loop" of info... I'm now babysitting full time from 7:15-4:15pm. It's a long day, and while usually always a good thing - doesn't leave much time for blogging or even down time. I think I'm going to plug back into blogging at night once my children are in bed and I've spent time with my hubby. That used to be my best time, we'll try that again. :) Because I really do miss blogging and reading blogs.

Wow - what a weekend! I have seen the Lord move and work so clearly in just the last 3 days. We had our first annual Youth Leaders Retreat at Hidden Acres on Friday night into Saturday afternoon. It was awesome. An excellent group of people who are passionate and on board with the ministry! My husband and I are still grinning about what a great time it was and how encouraged we are.

We got home Saturday evening around 7:30ish and hubs checked the mail. He opened it and just said, "wow". Then handed me a letter from my very sweet Grandma with a check inside the letter. I cried. I had been quietly praying and asking the Lord to provide for some things and HERE was that provision in the form of a loving letter from my Grandma. She said the Lord had laid us on her heart... THAT'S MY GOD! He knows.

The provision doesn't end there. Though, that would be enough to satisfy me. Sunday after church I was driving home with my girls. Because my husband is a Pastor, I'm almost always alone on that drive home. So I've found creative ways to "entertain" my eldest as she sometimes just wants daddy... not me. :) This day we listened to her Veggie Tales CD and that seemed to do the trick. When we pulled onto our street something caught my eye on the sidewalk a few houses before ours. As I approached I couldn't believe my eyes - one of those little Tikes houses. Someone was just throwing it out. It was perfectly good and just sitting there. I pointed it out to Ava and asked if we should go investigate. We parked the van in our driveway and skipped down - and just at that time the neighbor giving it away was in her yard. I asked her if she was tossing it and she was! I got permission to take it and permission was given! I couldn't believe this was happening. My momma's heart had SO wanted to be able to give my children something like this...but, it wasn't financially possibly. Something we just didn't NEED. And now here was this house in GREAT shape, totally free for the taking. I attempted to take the house and realized it would take a few trips...when I looked up I saw two other neighbors coming to help me. I had never met these people before and was completely blown away. We don't live on the friendliest street and this really surprised me. So here we went walking down the sidewalk carrying this toy house in parts. Neighbors. Doing neighborly things. I was beaming. And now we have this amazing new play house in our back yard - another reminder to me of how intimately the Lord knows us... our deepest fears, muttered prayers and mother-heart longings. And He cares about every detail. On top of all of this, here is my offering of Thanksgiving to my God thismorning:

-Watching my big girl give her sister a bottle

-caribou coffee

-lots of coupons in Sundays paper

-baby almost ready to give up that 10:30 bottle. Thus meaning MORE sleep for momma.

-early mornings, alone, quiet, in the word...

-duck, footie pajamas

-pinecones on my table

-green afghan on a chilly morn

-two working, paid for, cars


-cable tv for one more day

-our home

What a mighty God we serve. :) Giver of ALL things. I'm so thankful today...You?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Multitudes on Monday...

Happy Labor Day!

And, if you live in "these" parts... Happy cooler fallish weather :)

{sigh, thank you Lord, for that!}

I'm having a hard time remembering my #'s while doing this count, so, I'm giving myself some slack and grace and will now just use bullets or dashes... works for me!

Today I'm thankful for...

- Morning crickets song

-the FIRST yellow leaf on our sidewalk

-$1 candle that smells like autumn... :)


-2 year old insisting on wearing a 24 month outfit that is WAY too short.

-cool front porch

-sapphire sky behind the green trees

-a day to rest and enjoy my family

-bin of autumn decor waiting to be put out

-laughing with husband

-blond, messy, pigtails

-hand me down sandals still in great shape

-conversations with my 2 year old

-Yogurt for breakfast!

-"baking" weather :)

-biggest, mouth open, smiles from my 3 month old

-$20 pasta salad... shared with friends over an amazing dinner. :) Right, Amy?

-Mocha's from Starbucks.

-driving with the windows down

This weekend we took our girls to Monkey Joes. If you aren't familiar with that - it's basically a huge warehouse they turned into an inflatable, toddler to 9 year old haven :) On top of my list this week - I'm extra thankful for my family... and the fun memories we are making each day as the girls grow up. I have to share some smiles from our special day.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mourning Cows?

So, I'm reading through the book of Jonah and it's so familiar. So familiar that it can be dangerous. And I mean... I get lazy. I get too familiar and stop being open to how God can use scripture in my life - even well known passages and stories. Seriously, who doesn't know the story of Jonah and the big fish/whale/whatev. I've heard it twice a year since I was 5 or something.

But today I was STRUCK with something new. Mourning Cows.
Yep, you read that correctly. Cows in mourning.

"...Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands." Jonah 3:7b-8

I'm struck by a few things from this passage in general.
1) The people were so full of remorse and sickness over their sin that they even covered their animals in sackcloth. It was their custom {Persians} to include their animals in mourning ceremonies (source: MacArthur). They took their sin seriously.

2) That God relented. Verse 10 says, "Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented."

What would our country look like if we took sin that seriously? Interesting. This huge massive city of Ninevah - guilty of idolatry and endless other big time offenses {but aren't they all big?!} took Jonah's word seriously and were spared. Can you imagine? If you know the Lord, you understand a taste of that... but, really, can you imagine modern day today having someone tell you your city was toast in 40 days if you don't change everything you do? If the city of Des Moines was told to stop their sin and evil and repent... I think people here would laugh. No, I know they would. Just something to think about.

I'm convicted this morning AGAIN of taking sin seriously. Mourning over it. Being heartsick and barely able to function unless I'm right with God. How often does it become the norm in my life to hold grudges, disrespect my spouse, treat my children in a rough manner and then expect them to be gentle? I'm reminded of how BIG God is - so Big and in charge. And how patient, loving and forgiving He is. There is NO SIN TOO BIG. I'm reminded how I can come to Him at all times and pour out my heart. When He looks at me He sees His Son, Jesus. Ah, Amen!

Mourning cows. Funny to think about today...
But, maybe we need to get back to that? And maybe we need to quit letting sin slide.

"So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm."
Joel 2:13

"Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us."
Psalm 62:8

"If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord WILL NOT HEAR."
Psalm 67:18

"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."
1 John 1:7