Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday - last one for 2012

Tonight we'll gather at some friends home and eat appetizers, play games, referee children, and talk about highlights of the year. There will be laughing and conversation and general enjoyment. I'm looking forward to the celebration. I always enjoy NYE, even when we aren't doing anything "big" for it. There have been years with newborns where we went to bed at 9 and whispered "Happy New Year" as we fell asleep. There's something about the ending of something old and the beginning of something new that inspires me. So, if no one has wished it to you yet - Happy New Year! Praying that the Lord grows each of us in a new way this year, and the valleys, mountaintops and level roads all give us opportunity to praise.

The Weather:::
Teens and twenties. Keeping all this snow nice and crispy. :)

Right now I am:::
Watching "Narnia" {the first one} with my 4 year old. She woke up asking to watch it so I have obliged. :)

My-o-my do I have much to do today. I haven't begun the post Christmas clean up and need some kind of cleaning bug to get me in the spirit.  Also, really enjoyed staying up late by myself last night to watch Downtown season 2 on PBS. I really do enjoy that series! Cannot wait for season 3 in Feb!

On my reading pile:::
Picked up a super old copy of "Streams in the Desert" from my parents house. I'm eager to read it. I'd also like to pick up a copy of "Valley of Vision". I want to put together a 2013 reading list and read through a book a month - any recommendations?
Here are some others on my wish list :) 
-Fit to Burst, Rachel Jankovic {author of Loving the Little Years}
-Morning & Evening, Spurgeon
-The Hole in our Holiness, Kevin DeYoung
-Feminine Appeal, Carolyn Mahaney
-Choosing Gratitude, Nancy Leigh DeMoss
-Why Pro Life?, Randy Alcorn
-Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges
-Shepherding a Childs hearts, Tedd Trip

On my TV:::
Narnia :) The first one.

Favorite blog post this week {mine or others}:::
Back to the topic of reading. I really enjoy Rachel's book list from 2012. She had several that I hope to add to mine this year! I've really enjoyed her honesty, good ideas, and the fact that she reads the books I'd like to read and tells me whether they are worth it. {grin} Check out The Purposeful Wife here.

Something fun to share:::
I need to gush about a sweet friend of mine, we'll call her... A. :) She knows that I love my coffee and use my Keurig often. A little too often, I'll admit. Yesterday at church she handed me several pages of coupons for 1 FREE box of Starbucks K-cups. Seriously - that is FUN. She's super good at winning contests and won them and then shared them! Blessed A. :) We entertain A LOT and now I can have our k-cup tree filled each and every time. That makes this momma heart feel so loved. So, A, if you are reading... Thank you, again and you are so precious! I need to have you down for a cup, now.

On the menu this week:::
Monday - NYE, we'll be at friends dining on apps and desserts. I'm making Peanut butter bars & spinach artichoke dip.
Tuesday - In true traditional form... SAURKRAUT, sausage and mashed potatoes. It's the German blood in me. :)
Wednesday - Leftovers :) 
Thursday - Onion Chicken, Drop biscuits and spicy green beans.
Friday - Teen retreat all weekend, Hellllllooooo camp food :)
Saturday - "
Sunday - "

On my to do list:::
Crazy amount of laundry from playing in the snow, traveling to Ohio, and back.
Take down Christmas decor
General cleaning of most every room {sigh}
Purchase wall calendar and plan out January meal plan
Purchase new day planner {going nuts without one for next week...}
Make dessert and app for tonights party
Pay mortgage.

What am I creating:::
Taking some time off of trying to create. Haha. But, really hoping to get new updated family pics hung up in the antique windows I bought last fall.

Homemaking Tips:::
I'm actually looking for some wisdom on how to get my children to help in housework. They are little mess makers at 1 and 4 years old - but have no interest in helping. Advice? Thinking of a chore chart....

Looking around the house:::
Complete chaos. Toys, clothes, christmas stuff, couch is in mayhem... what am I still doing on here?

From the camera:::
My precious niece experiencing snow for the FIRST TIME! The Georgia girl loved it! {Ash, I borrowed your pic}
On my prayer list:::
Our teens! Heading out for winter retreat this weekend praying that the Lord does His work on their hearts! It's so easy to laze back and not care about your walk with the Lord, at any age, but I do see the attacks on our teens especially now.

Bible Verse, devo:::
I'm starting the book "Streams in the Desert" tomorrow and really hoping to use my time wisely in digging deeper in God's work. My only goal for New Years is to be in the Word EVERY day.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New boots, a mouse, and why I should never make homemade alfredo.

Over Christmas vacation I had a little conversation with my sis-in-law about my new mom bad habit. Shopping for my children. Let me explain that better...
When I am given birthday or Christmas money, shooed out of the house by my hubby for some alone time. or just have a few extra minutes to browse a store alone - it happens. I end up in the kids section looking at things for my girls. Recently I've noticed a few "holes" in my own wardrobe and I'm blaming it on this habit of mine.

As I was getting ready for church this morning I realized I have NO winter shoes. Well, a pair of tennis shoes and some old leather boots that I've had for years... but, nothing warm, mildly stylish or without holes or detached soles. {blush} So, tonight at Kohls I took care of that problem - and these babies will be delivered later this week. :) Warm, cute, what I needed. AND... SUPER SALE price :) Originally they were $80, and I got them for $30.

A2 by Aerosoles Cinch of Luck Wide Ankle Boots - Women 

Mice. Cute, fuzzy, squeaky, mice. I'm all about having them out in the nature and I even enjoy reading a good children's story now and again. But, let me be clear - I am not a fan of a tiny, little, brown fuzz ball tip-toeing across my dining room carpet. Last night as I was sitting alone finishing up a good magazine - something kept getting my attention from the corner of my eye. Since our living room resembles a small exploded toy store I just assumed it was a polly pocket or little people princess - until I looked up and watched it move, tail up, and everything. All of probably 3 inches long and beady eyed. IN MY HOME. So now I'm afraid to walk into my own kitchen. And, while I know we need to set up a trap...I dread the end result of that. SNAP. {ugh}

Homemade Fettuccine Alfredo. Delicious Amazingness in a pan. I whipped up a batch of it for our Sunday lunch this afternoon. It was every bit of buttery, cheesy, creamy, savory YUMness. With all the heavy whipping cream, nutmeg, parm cheese and wide noodles- how can you go wrong?! Well, just don't look at the nutrition content. That's all I'm saying. I need to wait a looooong time before I make this again, as I'm sure we had enough fat and calories in just this one meal, to last a week. But it was so good, so worth it!

Tomorrow is the last day of 2012. I can hardly believe it. It's been a good year - a challenging, wonderful, crazy year. I am so thankful for each and every day. What a gift! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blizzard in Ohio

Tomorrow we are supposed to load up and head back for the looooong drive back to Iowa. However, right now it's snowing snowflakes the size of quarters and its coming fast. A blizzard. Seems like we just had one of these. Oh wait, we did, in Iowa, before we drove here.

Needless to say -  we don't know how the next 24 hours are going to play out. While I dread the idea of driving home on snow covered interstates… 
I am so enjoying the "tap, tap, tap" on the windows from the flakes, the snow globe look out my parents front window, and the cozy way I feel while still in my jammies, the day after Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

C'mon in!

I so wanted to jump on the "Christmas Tour of Homes" train this year - get some good pics of our decor and just life during this season. I got a few, but nothing spectacular. But that's ok - I invite you in to take a peek at Pausleyland during Chistmas. :)

This year we set up our little tree to be specifically for the girls. All kid friendly ornaments, ribbons, beads and stuffed decorations. Our 4 year old made the angel and the girls decorated this one all by themselves. For being 1 and 4, we were sure proud! I, personally, the the home made items... tree skirt crocheted by my mother, as well as the sewn gingerbread man. :) Makes it all the more special to me!
My "simple" theme this year was to 1) use what we had 2) Try new set ups with those items. I tend to fall into a rut of doing the same thing year after year. I loved how this spot turned out using all my Salval treasures, Dollar Tree creations and some nature {buckeyes and pinecones}.

After a trip to a local antiques mall - I found this wire basket :) Throw in some fresh greenery, a few mason jars, epsom salt and candles - an easy and pretty kitchen counter decoration :) I LOVE how this smells so good right in the busiest room of our home!

For Christmas cards I strung some jute string in the kitchen and had hoped to glitter up the clothespins, but, that didn't happen. :) But we loved hanging them up and we'll plan to turn them into a "I can pray for" book when the holiday is over.

 Our pretty 8 foot tree! Did I mention that I'm not a good photographer!? This pic just doesn't do it justice. Simple ornaments, white lights and more jute string... just right for us.
 Keeping with our new tradition - the stump of the tree for 2012. We cut off the bottom of our real tree each year and write on it. Last years is an ornament on our tree!
 Stockings are hung! And stuffed with more Christmas cards :)
 I have a random small wall in the living room and I'm never sure what to put on it. I made this little set up just for Christmas. Covered some cardboard with newsprint wrapping paper found at the Dollar Spot at Target, hung an ornament with raffia. Put the LOVE above it {from our bathroom}. Voila!
Merry Christmas and God Bless!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Of snow and snowsuits.

My mother was and still is the queen of invention. Growing up, I can clearly remember her turning nothing into something - whether it was food, a craft, clothing... she could make something stretch and last and turn nothing into something amazing. Even though at times {as a preteen/teenager} I would feel embarrassed by some things homemade - I always felt the love of my mother making something out of nothing, special, for me. And now that I'm a mother I wish I had her skill. I wish I knew how to make a can of soup stretch to feed 10, crochet a blanket in a day to give as a gift, craft something out of whatever scraps of cloth and whatnot in a random drawer. I want that ability but it seems it has skipped my generation.
{view from my bedroom window, first thing this a.m.}
But today... I had a moment. And, I think my mom would be proud. I had a moment of invention. :)
We woke up to LOTS of snow today - and now we are having blizzard like winds. I love it and I love that my husband at this very moment is resting on the couch after having shoveled for a long time. We are snowed in. A Christmas dream come true! As soon as our big girl woke up she wanted outside...and I clearly remember being exactly the same way. I couldn't help but smile as I watched her dance in anticipation - it's what kids do - they dance and rejoice over all those good things. We got her dressed and in my mind I'm spinning ideas on how to keep her warm. We don't have snow pants for her, or snow boots, or anything that matches - but, that's not going to keep her in this house. So, I grabbed some trash bags, next size up jeans, and VOILA we made our own snow gear.
Now, it probably won't become the next fashion trend and I'm not in line to win any major awards - but, it worked, and our girl got to play outside all morning and stay dry! She thought it was the coolest thing to wear those trash bags - and, I know that someday all too soon that will not happen. :)

Everyone is inside now and the heat is running, two girls are wrestling on the floor, the Christmas tree lights are sparkling against a window full of snow behind it. I might need to brew another pot of coffee and just enjoy these moments a little longer. Thank you, Lord, for this snow day. And, I'm considering it a bonus that I got so much cookie baking done yesterday... All of this has turned into yummy deliciousness. :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"I was planning to..."

Someday I'll write a book with a title such as that. I feel like the queen of intentions. I always have these amazing dreams and ideas of things I want to do with my family, or for friends, etc. But then the days go by and somehow nothing has been done or even close, prepared for. I've been avoiding my facebook news feed for a few days because honestly what I see evokes these feelings of failure in me. And I hate it. It steals my joy and gets my focus off of the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Families working on gingerbread houses and everyone is smiling, beautifully decorated homes, children wearing normal clothes... not bathing suits, their fathers shirts, and half ripped dress up outfits. {ok, I admit I do love my big girls fashion sense lately} I see things and I think, "oh, I was planning to do that" and I look at the calendar and realize - there's no time. My goal for this Christmas was simplicity - and, the humor in that is... it has been. Completely simple. No extras. And even though that was my plan, I keep finding myself disappointed. How confusing is that? I wanted to celebrate Advent with our children - and so far we have managed to do 3 days out of the month. 3! And let's just say...the girls aren't really "into" it. We spent a morning out at the local mall to take a $1 train ride and just window shop - see the lights, etc. It was perfect...only, in my mind I kept thinking, "oh I wish this...and I wish that..." instead of being satisfied. Ah, flesh... you rotten thing.

Through all of my shortcomings and battles with my mind - the Lord remains faithful to train me and teach me. We have been showered with blessings, unexpected, and taken care of in such a huge way. Every time I start to get down or anxious, the Lord has provided. We praise our Jehovah Jireh!

This afternoon I'm planning some Christmas cookie time with my girls. To be honest I'm already dreading some of the mess, redirecting, and just those kinds of things. But, I also love watching them get so excited! I have 4 simple recipes planned - and we PLAN on sharing some with a few neighbors and taking the rest to Grammy's house this weekend. I thought I'd share the recipes in case you were looking for a few easy and yummy ones. :) They are 4 brand new ones in our home. I try to do new ones each year...because I'm nuts and like to make life more difficult for myself.  :)

Brown Sugar Shortbreads is a recipe from Better Homes & Gardens. Click here for the recipe. Here's what they should look like. They are easy roll in a ball and smash with the bottom of a pretty cup, cookies. :)

Nutmeg-Pumpkin Drops. Another BHG recipe featuring some of our favorite things... pumpkin, spices and white chocolate. Click here for the recipe. Peek at them below. {we aren't doing the pecan on top..too expensive!}
Deluxe Nutmeg-Pumpkin Cookies

Peppermint Stick Cookies! I'm most excited about these... I think my girls will have fun with them. I found the recipe in an old Country Woman cookbook. Here's a link!  And these are SO cute...
Peppermint Stick Cookies Recipe

Last but not least - Candy Bar Sugar Cookies :) Easiest, I think. You just roll them up, roll in sugar, and bake. Might let Ava take over on these. Check out the recipe HERE

Here's to turning at least one of my "I was planning to..." into WE DID IT! :) 

Monday, December 17, 2012

And just like that...

She's 4. She woke up smiling in anticipation of her special day. And while she's had others before, it seemed like this time she really understood why it was such a big deal. My firstborn turned 4. And my mind goes a million directions, but I'm really wondering how is it that life goes this fast and will it continue to do so? The weekend held some dark moments in my mind as I pondered the events of our world. And while I don't want to be callous or insensitive... talking about it doesn't help me. So I pray and I cry and ask the Lord to listen to my heart. And the best part is - He hears me and calms me.

We celebrated her all day long. It felt imperative that she get kisses every 39 seconds. The kitchen table was set with her birthday breakfast {chocolate covered doughnut with milk!}and a few select presents, that she got to open BEFORE church! Her eyes were big and excited and she smiled from ear to ear. The kind of smile that every mom longs to see... to know that they did something right, for once.

At church she was allowed to bump up to the 4 year old class room and act out the Christmas story. This was a very big deal to her. Her she is in her debut as an angel. :)
Then we had a special birthday lunch of her choice. She could have chosen anything, but the 4 year old chose Taco Bell. So we dined on cheese roll ups, raspberry tea, and cinna-twists. I found myself in tears as she asked to pray before lunch - and she thanked God for her presents and that she "gets to be 4 and that she got exactly what she wanted." Once back home it was time for cake and singing. Her beautiful cake, made by Miss Stacy, made it extra special. It was just her size and just lovely. Berry chocolate per her request!
Four years ago the Lord allowed us to have her. And she's been an amazing experience, an amazing child, an amazing blessing. Sometimes I just stop and watch her and imagine what she'll grow to be. But for now, I'm enjoying the random, silly, giggling, lovey dovey days with my beautiful girl. And I'm thanking God for another year with her. 

*thanks to The Welch Cupcakery and Vivian Schwab for facebook pics :) 

Thursday, December 13, 2012 weakness...

How does a week go downhill so quickly? From being so grand to so.. so.. erggh? I'm still feeling puny and exhausted, and it's like my children KNOW this. This morning I propped myself up in the nook of the couch and closed my eyes just for a few seconds while the girls were watching "Daniel Tiger". Perfect, I thought. They were glued and I was exhausted. My eyes snapped open a few minutes later as I watched my first born swinging a saucepan at her baby sister. Daniel Tiger has lost appeal within seconds of my eyes closing and apparently acting out Rapunzel's story was much more appropriate. I didn't have to say anything... the "mom look" let her know the doom that awaited. Thank the Lord the little one was several feet away from her. BUT STILL!

I'm thankful for Grace today - in my own life. And I'm thankful that even when I'm on my very last nerve... I can still show Grace. Keeping this in mind all day.
Now, back to the couch while the girls sleep.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It doesn't get much better!

I'm drained. Today has been a tiring kind of day. Hubs and I stayed up late after drinking a bit too much coffee after 8pm. It was worth it - and, after a HIGHLY emotional episode of "Parenthood"... wow. I think I went to bed drained. Anyone else follow that series? We just started watching it and I cry every.single.week. Geesh!

Anyway, our second born woke up at 6am and was just a crab bucket. After about 2 hours of whining and then screaming - she pointed to her ear and said, "boo boo". So at 8:40am we were at the peds office hearing the diagnosis of another ear infection. Blech. Poor baby, poor ears. After a swing by the pharmacy we got home and crashed. Augs didn't even want lunch - just bed, as she whined over and over and over. She slept 1 hour and was back up crying. I think this ear infection is a doozy. :/ My eyes were heavy and I had very high hopes of maybe a good ol' snuggly nap on the couch with the still tired babe, but, nope. No sleeping - but lots of snuggling and relaxing. Those are precious times that I wouldn't trade for the world! Though I'm sleepy and still have a very full night ahead of me - I'll be alright. There are far worse things going on in the world then a sleepy momma.

So, apparently shoes are a big deal right now in our lives. {grin}
I shared the story of the shoes for my big girl and would you believe that just today I have another one! Only this time it's for my Augs, and, much more brief. ;)
Walked into Salvation Army on the way home to grab an Ugly sweater, of which they had none, and stumbled upon a BRAND NEW pair of black Stride Rite toddler shoes. No scrapes. No wear. No gross shoe smell. Brand new. And the best part... $1! Yep, Stride Rites, in Auggie's size for a buck. Ah, thank you Jesus!

Of course I googled how much they run normally. $47! I think we found a deal, folks! Woot. :)

Tonight we have our annual Elevate Christmas party with the teens at church. I'm praying that the Lord works in the lives of our teens, both the ones who come to church and the visitors we may have. We need the Lord to move and we trust in His plan for this group.

Last thing in this rambling post. I promise.
Yesterday I made some super yummy Cranberry Walnut bars. They are savory, rich, and so delish. Found it here and if you enjoy cranberries, walnuts or butter {grin} you MUST try them. Ta-ta for now, friends.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Shoes : A Momma's perspective.

It had been a beautiful night of worship through music, testimonies of God's faithfulness, and a delicious meal.  We had lingered over hot coffee and been happily chatting about all things - being women. :) As the years go by I find myself enjoying these moments more and more. There was a time when I was caught up in the busyness. I was running and planning and always on the move. These days I enjoy a sit down chat. I look forward to looking in a friends eye while she shares life with me. This was one of those nights.

The Lord had already been working on my heart that day, prior to the event, and I was tender while listening to the ladies around me. Each one celebrating the Holiday season in a different way. Some were older, others quite young. We had newlyweds and retirees. It was brilliant. My heart was full and I felt as warm as the candles flickering in front of me. But, like all things... it ended and was now time to head home.

My drive home was pretty normal. It was finally colder and actually felt like December - which was great, for me! I flipped on some Christmas tunes and drove on my merry way thinking about the great night and an equally great night that was coming the next day. Our church was to have the annual childrens Christmas program and it was my firstborns last year in the 2's and 3's portion. {sniff}Then, out of some place selfish and worrisome came the sinking thought - "ugh, I don't have any "Christmas shoes" for my girl." All the beauty of the night seemed to take a back row, now, as I thought about this. She had her Christmas dress and I knew how we would use gold ribbon to tie back her hair... but all I had for her feet was some clunky black boots. It wasn't a big deal - I mean, some kids have no shoes at all... but, it kinda weighed on my heart. I thought back to the two Mocha's I had splurged on earlier in the month. Could the total cost of both of those been the equal to one pair of size 10 girls shoes? And that's how my mom mind works sometimes.

After parking the car I went to pull out two diaper boxes of clothes we had been given that night, from a new friend. She has two older girls and no longer needed the items. Since I'm always needing something... this was a wonderful thing! I lugged them inside and kissed my hubby hello. We chatted about the evening as I began to look through our new treasures in the diaper boxes. It was then my heart fell and the tears came as I opened the second box and found... of course... black dress shoes. Christmas shoes for my girl.
Just one more way that God shows His perfect care for me. Shoes are not the priority, nor is looking put together for a childrens program. We know that. But it's in these small ways where sometimes I feel the most loved and seen. And my firstborn couldn't have been more excited about them! We had a great talk about God's provision and she is starting to get it. This year - for Ava - God provided Christmas shoes. And in the meantime, continues to work on this mom heart in the area of trust. The show went on and the children did a great job! Glory to God in the highest!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy Homemaker Monday - December style!

Helloooo and happy Monday! The Lord has given us a day that I am sure we will not too soon forget. His provision is amazing and we've been experiencing it since we woke up. Christmas cards full of love, friends sending notes, yummy smells and chocolate, and just every little sweet thing to make me feel the arms of my God wrapped tight around me. We are blessed and we are thankful!
The Lord knew I needed this day to be like it is. After some heartache and melancholy last night... Joy really did come in the morning! And, even it if it wasn't so joyful - God is still good.
We have been opening our home on Sunday evenings after church for our youth leaders to come and share a meal with us. Never fancy. Always loud and lots of activity. My heart is never more full then in those moments looking around my home watching people just "be". I am so thankful for this house that we can jam pack full of folks. I'm so thankful for crock pots of soup and warm bread and children running around crazy. There is SO MUCH JOY in opening your life.

And now, onto the day...

The Weather:::
Yikes! 20's! I'm absolutely loving it. And, I think I get a lot of crazy looks when I say that. :) This momma has been itching for some cold weather. We had a beautiful "snow globe-esque" morning on the way to church, but everything melted by the afternoon.

Right now I am:::
Taking a little break. Girls are napping, dishwasher is emptied, laundry is going, a new scentsy is melting away and smelling amazing. I might have had a few oreos. :)

God is so faithful. It never ceases to amaze me how our every need is thoroughly met - and then some. I'm also really seeing a great connection between our generosity and the Lord working in our lives. So challenging.

On my reading pile:::
"Living" and "Thriving family"  magazines. It's been a light reading time of year.

On my TV:::
We've had the Sounds of the Season channel going all day - it's a wonderful mix of Christmas music. Tho, if Dominic the Donkey comes on again... it's over. Bleh!

On the menu:::
Monday - Leftovers :) Lots of Meatball and potato soup leftover from our meal lastnight.
Tuesday - Chicken Marinara with friends!
Wednesday - Church night, not sure.
Thursday - Pasta bake
Friday - Pesto Chicken Penne. Already done and in the freezer. What a great Friday that will be!
Saturday - Need to do some shopping.
Sunday - "

On my to do list:::
Continue with laundry
Do the elliptical for at least 15 minutes. {setting small goals - I hate exercise}
Put all the clothes away
Vacuum girls bedrooms
address Christmas card envelopes

What I am creating:::
Zilch. No crafts happening right now.

Homemaking tips:::
Did you know that hair spray gets ink out of linoleum? My husband did! Second born drew us a lovely scribble right in the middle of the kitchen floor - in black pen. Hubs to the rescue with his bottle of White Rain! :) It's totally gone now.

Looking around the house:::
Tree is wonderful. Kept everything really simple this year and so glad we did. The home is full of life and memories and you can tell a family lives here. It's all clean, too. LOVE having company over - helps to keep the clutter at bay, for at least a day.

From the camera:::
Our 8 footer! Always wanted a HUGE tree.

Every ornament has a meaning - either hand made, gifted, etc. Favorite spot is on the couch to sit and watch the lights at night :)

On my prayer list:::
Friends with financial needs.
New pregnancies I keep hearing about.
Traveling family during the holiday

Bible verse, devotional:::
Yikes. Nothing to share here. Just loving all the ideas on Advent - we are trying to go through a booklet put out by Focus on the Family that uses the names of God. Powerful!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Favorites...

I'm jumping on the "Friday Favorites" band wagon! Fun idea! It's a wonderful, calm, afternoon here. The girls are napping, I'm watching Little Women and sipping a mug of Mocha - all comfy on the couch. Love family day!

Favorite #1 - our REAL tree. {excuse this lame pic}
We went to three places this morning to find it - and at our last spot nabbed it for a great price. It's 8 feet tall and smells amazing. :) I love a real tree. I cannot wait to decorate it with my little girls and hubby.

Favorite #2 - Christmas Yummies

This recipe is called "Terribly terrific Toffee". Um, yum. And I love that it made from inexpensive saltines - a cheap and seemingly easy idea!  A Southern Grace has the full recipe here.

Favorite #3 - Gift wrap idea, using my little girls fingerprints :)
Wrapping Ideas-Christmas Lights 
What a brilliant idea and {again} a great money saver! You almost wouldn't want to rip these packages open. I'm hoping to do this with my girls for their gifts to Grandparents. I think it adds an extra element of precious. Check out the full how to at Splash of Something

Favorite #4 - Truth! I love how from time to time I find these great verses written out beautifully.
{Found this on pinterest, it didn't lead to any blogs or anything I could cite}

Kind of a random bunch of favorites - but, by now I'm sure you aren't surprised by that. :) 
Have a wonderful Friday! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Two trains of thought.

Remember how a looooong time ago I shared that I was going to turn a portion of our very unfinished basement into a workout room? Yea, still working on that. No where near where I want to be - but, encouraging news is that I made some progress today! After lunch with a friend and some encouraging words, I feel a new motivation to get serious and get moving.
Right now I'm at the cleaning - moving around - organizing stage. This afternoon I was able to vacuum up a zillion dead bugs, lay down the small piece of flooring, move the tv table, tv and dvd player, elliptical and new machine we were given, and prep just 1/4 of the basement to be used until my "dream" room can be completed. Something IS better then nothing, right? Here's the condition now.

I found a massive bucket of basement paint and plan to paint over the highly unsightly yellowing that seems to be happening on the wall behind the TV. Then it dawned on me... if I get this place cleaned up real well, I have LOADS of pink paint and could easily move a few toys down here for the girls, too. That would be after MUCH cleaning, however. At one point I got distracted and might have spray painted a wall with a can of beautiful Gray spray paint I bought for another project. See, I'm distracted. Anyway, though it doesn't look like much - I'm so thrilled to get things going. I want to put some sort of plastic shelving under the table for workout DVDs, my free weights, maybe a jump rope and some music. ??? I'm a looong way from the ideas I've pinned on pinterest - oh how I love this under the stairs storage, green rug and basic beautifulness. 
"unfinished" basement.  So we need: throw rug, everything organized, tv and deep clean what can be cleaned. ugh.
And this idea - the curtains! The hidden machines! The sight of clean and no dead bugs. Since laundry is my FAVE household chore, I could see lots of time spent in this! 
unfinished Basement Wallideas.  Never thought to use curtains to cover the ugly 1914 walls. Easy peasy - string up some wire and get those babies up!
But it does give me a goal to work towards. :) 

Next train - woooot wooot. Cute things. 
Today while reading through my newest edition of "Living" magazine, I stumbled upon this cute idea - also basement related. I have a drying rack set up in our basement, but, it only holds so much. I try to hang dry several items and this would be such a help - especially as it rolls back up and won't "clothesline" someone. Buahaha. A-hem. 
This is a retractable clothesline, friends. It's supposed to look aged and it's just about the coolest thing I've seen in awhile. So I looked up the website and WOW - if you are into the junkin', antique, old-ish look you want to go check out Farmhouse Wares.  It has a ton of cute ideas and the prices vary. This clothes line is roughly $13! Some things were a bit more pricey.
I thought this candle holder was pretty cute, too.

Ah, motivation, you are wonderful. Now...back to it!
What projects are you working on? Re-doing any rooms in your home?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Luke 1 - the anticipation.

{source:, images}

I never get tired of the story from Luke chapter 1 in God's word. It's another one of those God stories that proves over and over that truly "nothing is impossible with God". Elizabeth, barren for her entire life at this point, is told by God that she will conceive and bear a son - who will be John the Baptist. And just like Sarah in the OT, she was not a young woman - in the prime of child bearing years, but as it says in the word, "advanced in years." 

But for now I want to focus in on the description of what her son, John, will be like. (Luke 1:13-17)

"But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.  And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.  For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.  And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.  He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’[a] and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

This morning I was so challenged and reminded by the last part of that paragraph. John's role in life - "he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, ... "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.. " While this verse is VERY specific to the readers of that day and addresses the target group as specifically Israel - this mom heart was still encouraged on one point - MAKE READY A PEOPLE PREPARED FOR THE LORD. As the days go on and I raise my children I'm so challenged by that. Am I raising my children and teaching them the greatness of the Lord, and preparing their hearts to know Him? 

As the Christmas season rolls on, what great opportunities to teach and share the story of Christ - coming to earth as a baby, growing up as a child, and then dying for our sins as a man. This season lends to anticipation, something children "get" all too well. They anticipate gifts and goodies and seeing grandparents far away - so how can we build in that anticipation about our God? I'm reminded today of just how great a task I've been given and I'm motivated to be creative with how I prepare my little ones for the wonderful day that is Christmas.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Haul out the Holly....."

Go on, sing it. December 1st and the Christmas season is fully upon us :) I feel like I've been waiting since July for this time to come. Tonight I'll head to our local church for the ladies Christmas event - Rejoice! I spent a good part of the day yesterday setting up and decorating some tables, and will share some pics after I take some tonight. :) I look forward to this event every year - such a blessing to be a part of a church that teaches the gospel and guides us to keep our minds on track during this time of year. Which, brings me to my main point...

Keeping it simple. 

My home decor this year is low key and lovely {at least to me}. I did a lot of greenery, mini trees, etc. Things I already own.
The Four Gift RuleOur gifting will be simple and to the point. Nothing excessive. Thinking of doing the "four gift rule" idea for my children.

I'm doing a lot of home made and kid created gifts and baked goods. Which I know Grandpa's and Grandma's will love better anyway!

Buying groceries to eat at home and planning to eat at home instead of resorting to overspending in a pinch when we are out and about. {minus last night's impromptu visit to Ted's Coney Island}

Last night we took our girls to the Capital downtown to watch the tree lighting ceremony. We had never gone and weren't sure what to expect. Let me encourage you to really seek out these kinds of opportunities. Not only was this FREE, but there was a local high school choir singing carols, FREE hot cocoa and Christmas cookies, and the Governor was there! Hubs shook his hand! The huge tree being lit was the icing on the cake for me. :) A special memory and something hubs and I both agreed would become a new family tradition for us. I enjoyed the light crowd, too. It started at 5:30 so not many were there - but, it was already dark so the tree lights were lovely.
While my husband would have preferred a more decorative tree, microphones for the singers, etc. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the evening. It seems the older I get the more I enjoy the simple things in life. Small treasures. Memories of performing Christmas carols with my high school choir, a warm pre-winter night outside, watching my children think we were doing the coolest thing ever, mini cups of hot cocoa, other families with young children taking this same opportunity and soaking it in.

The Lord is so good to give me those moments of calm and joy. My heart, as I shared recently, has been so weighed down with chaos all around me. I'm reassured again and again at the beauty found in simplicity. Today we ring in December 1 and remember who we celebrate this month.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” John 1:1-2, 14