Thursday, July 31, 2008

Little Surprises...

My sister, Sarah is on her way from Nashville to visit us for the weekend. Her husband, Mike is staying back at home so that hopefully he can get a little hiking trip in. We've decided we are going to do some shopping and attempt to be crafty. Several of you have inspired us to give our hands at some projects. We'll share what we come up with.

I have a couple little surprises for Sarah...

Something pretty...

And something sweet...

These are Lemon Cookies and they are delicious! They are even better with a glass of iced tea. The best thing about them is they are made with a mix. I'm normally a "made from scratch kind of girl" but these are one of my favorites. Here's the recipe so you can share them with someone special.

Lemon Cookies:

1 package lemon cake mix
2 T. plus enough oil to equal 1/2 cup
2 eggs
Lemon frosting (store bought)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet. Mix cake mix, oil, and eggs in large bowl with a spoon until dough forms. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes or until set. Remove to wire rack. Cool and frost.

You can use any flavor of cake mix. I've used a spice cake and cream cheese frosting and you can never go wrong with chocolate!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Setting Of The Sun...

My husband, Steve, and I just walked outside and saw this from our driveway...

These pictures don't even begin to show the beauty of the colors in tonight's sunset. Our home sits on a hill that is the highest point in the county. Our view over this small city is amazing. I love being an eyewitness to the changes of the seasons from this view on the hill. Tonight, I'm glad I can share it with you.

So that from from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other. ~ Isaiah 45:6

Pancake Night...

Our family loves to have breakfast for dinner. It's quick, easy, and it's fun. It's not always possible for us to have a nice, big breakfast as a family, so having it for dinner works. When I heard the inevitable question of, "Mom, what's for dinner ?" My answer was, "It's pancake night!" After hearing this, they all were quick to help in the kitchen. Really, they pretty much took over. First, the boys made a batch of blueberry pancakes...

They are worth the wait Ben... I promise!

Jessica doesn't mind helping either. As long as she gets chocolate chip pancakes.

Almost ready...

We decided we probably should have some whipped cream to go on top.

Don't they look delicious?

Now onto the chocolate chip pancakes.

An official member of the Clean Plate Club!

What are some of your favorite meals you make for dinner?

Monday, July 28, 2008


We've just spent the weekend with some very good friends of ours who now live in the D.C. area. It was such a great time of catching up and sharing the current things going on in our lives. Even though we don't talk often over the phone or through email, it is one of those friendships where we pick up right where we left off. I love that about our friendship. They are the kinds of friends that would be there for us and we would be there for them. No matter what.

I see how God has brought friends into my life over the years for different reasons. I have friends that have been part of my life for a long time. The friends that challenge me, encourage me, pray for me, and know my heart. Then I have friends that I know God has brought into my life for just a season. It doesn't lessen how I value their friendship, but their friendship has just been for a time. I am incredibly thankful and have been blessed by the women that have come into my life throughout the years. There are new friendships in my life right now too. Getting acquainted with one another, finding out the common interests, and doing things together that are growing the connection between us. I've also gone through times when I have been alone and my heart has cried out asking Him to just bring that special friend into my life. Through those times He has so tenderly shown me He alone is my best friend. No one else can take the place in my heart I was wanting to fill with a friend more than He can. When the time has been right, He has faithfully brought them into my life. I know that God places a high importance on friendships. He wants us to be surrounded with people who love and care for us, people we can laugh with and to go through this thing called life together. 

My best friend happens to be my sister. The five year age difference has never mattered, even when we were little. From the day my parents brought her home as a baby, she was my best friend. As the "big" sister, I really don't remember ever not liking her or wanting her around. Being apart from each other was hard. Whether it was when it was time for me to go in on recess or when we went to bed at night (she would sneak into my room and get in bed with me), we couldn't wait to be together again. As adults, our friendship continues to deepen and grow.  I know that having a best friend that also happens to be my sister is a treasure. Sarah is coming to visit this weekend and just like when we were little, we can hardly wait to see each other. There isn't anything she doesn't know about me. She knows what I'm thinking, she finishes my sentences, she knows when something just isn't right. She knows how to encourage me and knows when to push me. True and best friends know how to do that. 

All of this has made me think about what kind of friend I am and what kind of friend do I want my children to be. I pray that my children are surrounded by friends that are going to build them up and encourage them to make the right choices. Do I also pray that my children are a friend to the child in the class who may not have a friend in the world? Am I loyal and trustworthy? Do I share in the victories and struggles that my friends are going through? Does my heart hurt when theirs does? Would I be a friend that they would call in their time of need because I am dependable? Do I make myself available to them and do they know what their friendship means to me? Do I make time for my friends or just "fit" them into my schedule? Am I a friend that loves at all times?

 In this world of busyness and often getting so wrapped up in our own lives, it's easy to not take the time to nurture and develop friendships. I don't want to miss out on memories that are made with friends, lessons learned from friends, or how God is using this friend to change and grow me. I also have the opportunity to make an impact in their life in a way no other person can. Am I allowing God to use me as a friend?

 So, today as we said good-bye to our friends, I am thankful for the time that was spent with them and look forward to the next. I'm going to celebrate the friendships that I have been given by the One and True Friend.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Moments...

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, July 25, 2008

My First Award...

Thank you to Kim at Seasons Of My Heart for giving me the two following awards:



This was such a fun surprise to find out about today. After only blogging for a little over a week I am meeting some really neat, creative, and funny women who are on a passionate pursuit to live their lives for Jesus. I love reading and getting to know these women through something like a blog. Who would have thought? Really, my sister and I started this together as a way for us to have a little fun and as a creative outlet. We decided we would keep at it even if we were only reading each others. I know some of the blogs I've read have been such an inspiration to me. Whether it's been to encourage me in my relationship with the Lord, getting a new recipe, or seeing decorating ideas,  I've so enjoyed it. I only hope that any words I say would somehow bless someone else. 

So, thank you again Kim and for all of you who are following me on this little journey of mine. 

Now I am passing on the awards to the following:

Shannon from-Bless Our Nest
Susie Harris from-Bienvenue...

I'm sure all of these women have received awards before but as someone who is "new" to having a blog you inspire me!

Your "official instructions" follow. Now go forth and share the love! To the recipients of the award... pick 5 blogs you consider deserving of this award, whether for creativity, design, interesting material, or contributions to the blogging community, no matter what language. Name each nominee and link to his/her blog. Show the award and include the name (and link to his/her blog) of whoever presented you with this award. Link to the Arte Y Pico blog so everyone knows the origin of this award. Post these rules.

Flower Fun...

Today my son, Ben and I went to a local flower store. I love this store because they have incredible prices and the flowers are absolutely beautiful. Having fresh flowers in the house is just one of those special things I like to do every once in awhile. Here is what we got today...

Now I can find those special places for them...

Like in the entry way...

The dining room table...

And my nightstand...

Here are some of my favorite pictures...

What are some things you like to do to make your home special?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sloppy Joe Night...

Tonight we were able to have dinner as a family (see 7/22 post). One of our family favorites is Sloppy Joes. Now, I'm not talking about the Manwich brand of Sloppy Joes. These are homemade, which is probably why I think they taste so good. In my opinion, there is just something about making a dish from scratch. Some things I just can't compromise on. Sloppy Joes being one of them. I do know that this is probably one of the sandwiches which you either love or hate. My mom made Sloppy Joes (Manwich) a lot when we were growing up. There were two reasons. 1.) They go great with tater tots ( one of her favorites) and 2.) The sandwich was one of my dad's favorites. So, sloppy joes is one of those comfort foods for me. How many people would call Sloppy Joes comfort food?

I thought I would share my recipe with you. If you have never branched out and tried a homemade Sloppy Joe, this is the recipe to try. I will warn you that it does taste different than Manwich. This recipe isn't so tomatoey (I know that's not a word) tasting, it has some sweetness to it. Okay, I may have just turned you off from wanting to try it. It is very, very good though. I get compliments whenever I make it and people who haven't had Sloppy Joes (imagine that!) find out they love them.

I hope you give this recipe a try and love it as much as we do! It goes great with homemade french fries or potato chips.

Sloppy Joes (serves 4)
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 lbs. ground chuck
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 T. Montreal steak seasoning blend (McCormick)
1 med. onion, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 c. tomato sauce
2 T. tomato paste
4 crusty rolls, toasted

Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and meat to pan. Spread the meat around the pan and begin to break it up. Combine brown sugar and steak seasoning. Add sugar and spice mixture to the skillet and combine. When the meat has browned, add onion and red peppers to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, red peppers, red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce with meat for 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and paste to pan. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook mixture until completely heated.

By the way...
Ben spilled his drink tonight.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I thought I would share some pictures of our new kitchen. I really wish I was able to show some pictures of what it looked like before the remodeling. There are pictures somewhere in the bag of undeveloped film in my drawer. To get those pictures I would have to take about 8 rolls of film to be developed. I'll save that for another day. Yes, I did just recently make the switch to a digital camera. Change isn't always easy for me with some things. I loved my old camera. That camera went everywhere with me and I captured many special memories using that camera. It was kind of hard to pack it up knowing I wasn't going to be using it as much anymore. Does this sound like an unhealthy attachment? I am having a lot of fun with my new one though!

We are currently living in a parsonage. It wasn't officially a parsonage until our family moved in last September. It is a wonderful home. I have so many memories of being in this house prior to us actually living here. At some point in my daughter's life she has been in every single room of this home for Sunday school or youth group meetings. It has been an incredible journey of how the Lord has brought us here. I'll save that for another time, another post.

As I was saying, our kitchen was completely gutted so that there would be a whole new layout of the kitchen. This house was built in 1973. It is your typical "Brady Bunch" style tri-level. Need I say more? There was A LOT of updating that needed done. Thanks to a group of talented and gifted men from our church who spent many, many hours of hard work, we now have a new kitchen.

I love this island. I love to prepare food here and then be able to use it as a serving area. Before this, the kitchen was enclosed.

A new window was put in so know we can look out into the backyard.

This is the first time I've ever painted a room red. I love it! It's called Posh Red from Lowe's.

Just in case you are wondering I do know "raspberries" is misspelled. As the Nester from The Nesting Place says, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Blessings and Spilled Dressing...

As much as I love to cook, sometimes it just gets really old. It's hard coming up with easy, and delicious meals that the whole family will enjoy. I like being creative with my meal planning but I often find myself in a rut or just kind of burned out with the thing.

Having dinner together as a family has been something we've always done. Coming together at the end of the day and being able to hear about everyone's day is important to me. The T.V. gets turned off, the music goes on and we just eat, talk and laugh. There are nights when hardly a word is said but that's okay because there is the freedom to be silent.

So tonight we were all going to have dinner together, as a family. I was looking forward to all of us being together. I had everything planned and ready to go.

Our kitchen has recently been remodeled and I have to say this truly is my dream kitchen. We live in a parsonage and basically our whole house has been updated and remodeled. This kitchen is more than I ever imagined it being. God has blessed us in so many ways in providing this home for us. In our previous home, all five of us had a very difficult time being in the kitchen.  I hoped for a kitchen one day where we could be together, where the kids could help me prepare the meals, and more than anything a place to hang out with friends and family. We now have that and after ten months of living here I am still thanking Him every time I'm in there.

My "family dinner" didn't go the way I was hoping it would however. My daughter arrived home late from work so she wasn't able to join us. When she did get home she was off to a youth group meeting. That's one thing I'm adjusting to and to be honest it's really, really hard. As much as I would like for us to have dinner every night together, it just doesn't happen. Her presence is missed at the table, it just doesn't feel right. What will it be like when she is at college next year? I know I will get used to it and I know I will have a much harder time with it than she ever will. I'm just working my way through it before that time is even here.

So, the four of us sit down to eat. My husband says grace and the food passing begins. This is when I want everything and everybody to slow down. I want meaningful conversation and for us to enjoy one another's company. You would think after so long I would let my expectations go, but I haven't. I want table manners to be used, no complaining about what's on your plate, and I don't want to ask one more time for help with the clean-up. 

We have passed almost all of the food when of course the inevitable happens. My youngest son, Ben, begins to shake the jar of salad dressing. Can you guess what happens next? The cap flies off and the dressing splatters on the floor, table, and the front of my shirt. Oh, how I wish I would have been able to laugh at the time and take a picture for your enjoyment. I think I can laugh about it now, maybe. What I do know is that I didn't lose it. My husband and son were quick to clean up and dinner continued... without any other mishaps and dinner was a hit.

 Dinner is over, the kitchen is clean and even though it was only part of the family tonight, there will be many other nights when we gather around the table, the five of us. Looks like maybe Thursday, I'll let you know.


Bird Watching...

Isn't it funny how certain things can trigger memories for us? Sometimes these can be good memories that we want to forever hold onto and other times they are memories we will do anything to forget. This morning sitting out on our back porch I had a special memory come to mind.

I was sitting there watching the birds just like someone I knew. My grandfather loved birds. He went to great lengths to make sure there was the right kind of feeders in his backyard for the birds that would come looking for food. He provided them with thistle seed, sunflower seed, and suet. The birds in his backyard were not lacking.

Pa knew every kind of bird that came into his backyard as well. We would sit at their kitchen table and he would point out the cardinals, chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers and finches. And was he ever quick to shoo away those starlings!  As a young girl I was learning the different kinds of birds. Pa would sit in that chair by the door for hours, I'm not exaggerating when I say hours. From the first bird that came in the morning to the last bird to fly away at night. It wasn't uncommon for us to show up for a visit and he would inform us of how many finches or cardinals had already shown up that day. The birds would whistle and sing in the yard and Pa knew exactly what kind of bird it was. We would be in the backyard or be sitting on the deck and he would "talk" to the birds. Pa was so good at mimicking their chirps and whistles that the birds would actually respond to him. It was fun to watch him and know that he could do something as amazing as that, at least I thought it was pretty amazing.

My passion for bird watching isn't quite the same as my grandfather's, but I do enjoy watching the birds. We now live in a place where I can see them and enjoy them. From my kitchen window I look out into our yard and see the feeders which were given to me for Mother's Day this year.  I find myself checking to see if there are any birds out there or standing there for awhile just watching. There is something peaceful about it for me. 

I do get a little excited when the chickadees show up... they are my favorites. My children think I'm weird and tell me I'm acting like an "old lady".  I find it a little amusing however,  that my children are now able to recognize the different kinds of birds that are making their presence in our backyard. One day I'm sure they will benefit from this knowledge.

I'm thankful that a little thing like birds was something that my grandfather could teach me about even though he didn't realize it at the time. I'm thankful he gave me a memory.

Even the sparrow finds a home there, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young-at a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. ~Psalm 84:3

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fast Cars, Miniature Golf & Ice Cream...

Tonight we went out for some family fun. It was a perfect night to go to one of our favorite places. We live about twenty minutes from a place called Young's Jersey. It is a restaurant and dairy farm and one of those places you always take out-of-town guests to. Young's is known for their homemade ice cream, pumpkin picking and hayrides in the fall, and cutting your own Christmas trees in the winter. It's especially fun during the warmer months because you can feed the goats, see the cows and pigs, and even sit on some real tractors. My boys still enjoy this. We have taken the children there since they were very small so it's always fun to think of how little they used to be on those big tractors. Sam could have spent hours pretending he was out plowing the fields.

Our night began with...

Ben finding this in the parking lot...

Then it was time for a game of miniature golf...

9th hole and who do you think is taking the lead?

Congratulations to Steve! It was a game well played.

The night would not be complete however, without Lemon Custard ice cream...

And the all-time kid favorite...Bubblegum!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Moments...

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 3:14

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Something Beautiful...

This is a sign hanging over the pantry in our kitchen...

Do you notice anything wrong?

After a recent remodel of our kitchen (and basically the rest of our house as well... more of that later), I wanted a really neat and fun sign to hang over my new pantry. There is a little town near us known as "The Antique Capitol of the World". I think that's what the sign says as you are entering this town. If you aren't looking you'll probably miss it. Anyway, every once in awhile I like to make a trip there. It's a fun place to go. Especially if you like the rustic, primitive, country look. I personally don't, but every once in a while there are some neat things that I do find. This sign being one of them. And now that I'm thinking about it, this sign probably would fall under the country, rustic look. Anyway, I really wanted a sign to put in this empty space. We were making our way through the store when I found this one. It was pretty much exactly what I had in mind. The red letters were going to look great against my red walls. These red walls are the boldest color of paint I've ever used. I love them! We came home, my husband put brackets (I don't know if that's what they are called... little wall hangy things) and my new sign was up. I then stood back, looked at it and noticed something wasn't quite right.

 Did you notice it? The "p" is missing. We both just kind of laughed and my husband said it added "character". In my opinion I wasn't quite so sure. Good character or bad character? I like things to be right. Would other people walk into my kitchen and notice it and think I don't know how to spell even if I wasn't the one to make it? I know I shouldn't worry about these things but I do. 

As you can see, however, the sign has found a home in my kitchen. It's been a conversation piece on several occasions for sure. I've recently been reading the Nesting Place blog (it's listed under the sites I love to visit) where "the Nester" offers all kinds of really creative ideas for home decorating. Her motto for decorating is "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." I like that. It can get pretty exhausting trying to find that "perfect" thing or to just be perfect. That is one of those things that I have to remember as truth and allow it to stick in the deep places of my heart and mind. 

Maybe now I'll be more on the look-out for those items and the people that come into my life that aren't so perfect but make their way into my home because I find them beautiful.

Friday, July 18, 2008

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

Feet in the sand...

Cream colored pitchers...

The boys in my life...

And the girls...


White hydrangeas...

And white picket fences...

What are some of your favorite things?

A Special Day...

Twelve years ago today my life was forever changed. My first son was born. My husband and I knew we were having a son because of a routine ultrasound (the planner in me couldn't wait 4 more months). I remember the technician telling us we were having a boy and instantly feeling a mix of pure excitement and incredible fear. I didn't know how to do the "boy" thing. My husband was thrilled and it really didn't take long for me to welcome the fact I was going to have a son. We began preparing for the arrival of a little brother for our daughter, and our little boy.

After 16 hours of labor we welcomed Samuel into the world. To be honest, it was the most painful and hardest thing I've ever experienced in my whole life. I really didn't think I was going to make it out alive. I don't know if my husband and my sister/photographer thought I was going to make it. I was so worn out that I could barely hold him after he was born.

I will forever remember the first time I was alone with my son. The nurse pushed him into my room in his cart all swaddled in his blanket. She picked him up and brought him to me, put him in my arms, asked if there was anything I needed, and then walked out of the room. It was at that very moment when he was in my arms that I was completely in love with this little baby boy. I took everything about him in. The way he looked, the way he felt, his smell, and the little noises he made. I knew at that moment, alone with my baby that God had given me an incredible and precious gift.

So, here I am 12 years later raising this little man. Like every other mother I find myself saying, "Where has the time gone?" My days with him watching Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers are now replaced with watching Dirty Jobs (do you know how difficult it is getting through an episode with a gag reflex like mine?) and Man vs. Wild. A trip to Target was made complete with a brand new Hot Wheel (that only costed 88 cents) and now he talks about the real car he wants. Hugs and kisses were easily accepted and needed where as now a high-five is what he wants.

We are going to go to the pool tonight to swim and have pizza with some of his best friends. Being with boys this age really is a lot of fun you know. Having a son has brought out something totally different in me as a mom. We will then come back home and have his one and only specific request... chocolate pecan pie.

Today I celebrate my son, who he is and who he is becoming. I'm glad that because of him my life was changed.

In honor of Sam's 12th birthday, here are 12 things I've learned from having a son...

1.) The names of construction equipment and fighter jets (still working on that one, those jets are tricky!)
2.) Boys have an intense need for action and adventure.
3.) I don't always have to be talking, sometimes it's just about sitting side by side.
4.) Boys smell like fresh cut grass and wet dogs.
5.) Mothering a son is a high calling.
6.) Life is good when he is covered in sand or dirt.
7.) In spite of the mistakes I make as a mom, God covers them with grace.
8.) I will never be able to stop the uncontrollable laughter if he hears, smells, does, or says any of the following... booger, fart, or burp.
9.) Always check the toilet seat.
10.) No matter how strongly I felt about not having toy guns in the house it was only a matter of time before one was made out of a stick and Legos.
11.) I am learning that I don't have to do this on my own. I can trust, depend upon, and believe that it is all part of God's plan that I am the best mom for my son. I know that my son has a Father in heaven who loves him more than I ever could.
12.) To celebrate the milestones, no matter how big or small as he journeys the road to manhood.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

So this is July...

Here we are halfway through the summer. It's this point of the summer when I start thinking it's going to be over instead of thinking over what we've done. I've always loved summer. Summer means the sunshine on my face, wearing flip-flops every single day, vacations, ice cream, swimming, lightening bugs and knowing you have the whole day ahead of you. What I love the most though is not being confined to a schedule. Even though I am a planner, organizer, and far from being spontaneous, when summer comes I simply don't care as much. A couple days will go by that I don't look at my calendar. That isn't normal for me.

My summer days are filled with being some of my favorite people in the whole world... my kids. I am a mom that starts counting down summer vacation after January 1st. I enjoy summer vacation just as much as they do. Every other summer we go to our favorite place, the beach. This summer, however, we are home making memories. Staying up late watching movies, having bonfires and making s'mores, having cook-outs and picnics, swimming all day long, and spending time with friends and family. Does it really get any better?
I don't want the second half to go by as fast as the first. I want to welcome the days with excitement and anticipation. Sometimes this is hard for me. I can be a half empty kind of person. I don't want to think about back-to-school shopping, the fact that this is my daughter's last year of high school, my oldest son is going to middle school, my youngest is going to a new school, commitments that will come again when summer has ended, and that it will soon be cold. I want to hold onto these days and the moments that God gives me. A reminder that He is always faithful and good. No matter what the season.