Wednesday, August 15, 2012


When you're a mommy, you are constantly evaluating yourself.  The burdens we have when raising children can be heavy, and how you measure success on this journey can either lessen your load or add to it.  I speak from experience, because I have done more adding to my burdens with unnecessary worrying about my job performance than I care to admit. 

I found this note on the fridge this morning from a child who struggles to obey.  It was such a bright spot, and got me to thinking about that question "Am I doing anything right?!" that plague our mommy minds.

There is love there....

Love for mom and dad, and his Heavenly Father who loves him more than we ever can.

So friends, stop worrying.  Love your children and be a reflection of God's love, and you can call that success I'm sure.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pray for the Buttrams

The last couple of weeks have been difficult for our community.  We were hit with damaging winds and storms that left West Virginia without power, as well as surrounding states.  I had never heard of a derecho before, but that is what hit us.
Then, a very dear friend who is also a pastor at our church, was struck by a car last week.  He is in critical condition.  Please, please pray for our friend, Kim Buttram.  I have known his family since I was a little girl;  I grew up with their four kids.  My husband became best friends with their oldest son in junior high.  Their two daughters have been friends of mine for years, one of them is Aunt Jessi to our kids, and her husband is a very close friend of my husband and I;  he is Uncle Josiah.  These people are incredibly dear to us.  His wife, Linda, has been a huge source of encouragement to me, specifically since I became a mommy.  We are heartbroken that this tragedy has occurred, and we are daily praying for healing for our friend.  My heart aches for his family who are facing this long road ahead.
Our good friend, S.D. Smith, aka Uncle Sam, who is Jessi's brother-in-law, wrote a lovely tribute about this God-fearing man.  In it you will learn more about our friend and his family, and there is also a link to a Facebook Page where folks are posting stories and encouraging words.
God will undoubtedly use this for His glory.  We are praying for His mercy and grace.  Please pray for Kim, for his family, and for all of us who love him. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Vintage Finds!

So don't you love stumbling upon something amazing that no one wants?  Awhile ago I walked over to my grandparents' place, which is literally over the river and through the woods.  Almost anyway- it's a creek really, not a river.  My sweet grandparents are not living now, but their place it still there.  My parents gave us some of their land, which was once my grandfather's, so we built a house, and we all live up on this hill.

When I was a little girl, I would go into the feed house to get the horse feed.  It was in a big barrel and it smelled of something sweet.  I would scoop it up with an old coffee can, and take it to "Tumbleweed", my father's old pony.  There are no horses to feed now, but the feed house is still there, storing some of my family's old things.  I took a peek inside, and I spotted a chalkboard.  An amazing chalkboard.  I found some other things too, and after talking to my dad, I brought my husband back and we rescued some really cool stuff. 

We got the chalkboard of course, which I am really excited about, because a nice chalkboard can be pretty pricey.  No pic yet of that, I will show you when it is up on the wall.

I think this chair is beautiful.  I have a lady who has reupholstered several pieces of furniture for me, and she took a look and  is confident she can fix it.

Vintage buttons.  Need I say more?

This handmade skirt.  I don't know who made it, but it is in excellent condition.  I have already paired it with a tee and some amazing red wedge sandals I got for my birthday.

We also found some old toys and fabric of my mom's.  I am told that there is a couple of old typewriters over there as well, but it might take some time to find them.

Giving new life to old things is truly satisfying!  Wouldn't you agree?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Dessert for Breakfast

Today we had dessert for breakfast.

This past week we had everyone's (mostly) favorites every day. We had muffins one day, overnight steel-cut oats one day, scrambled eggs on toast with cream cheese once. We even had cereal one day, which we never do. I am not above cereal, but I have four kids, and they never just want one bowl, which means the box lasts about a day and a half. And the fact is that I don't like eating it for breakfast.

Today, I made this awesome cobbler. I wanted something easy that could bake up while we were doing chores. I think that because this recipe has so little sugar and butter, you can make it work for breakfast. Besides, a muffin is essentially dessert, and everyone eats those without reserve.

I made myself feel like a better mother by serving it with yogurt pooled beside it. Using a lot of blackberries (around three or four cups, I think, I didn't measure!), and adding a crumble made with a bit of oat flour, oats, brown sugar, and butter made it feel a little more breakfast-y.

Please don't burst my bubble by telling me about the evils of white flour and refined sugar, okay? It was delicious, it was Friday, and I've been a good girl lately.

Speaking of breakfast, I am excited to try this one. I am always looking for something new to try for our mornings.

Tomorrow we are having these cinnamon rolls. I like to mix them, roll them out, then put them in the fridge until morning. Usually on Saturdays I make my husband the manly food he wants, like biscuits and gravy, but I have been wanting to have these for awhile. Cinnamon rolls will be a cozy breakfast for tomorrow; I think we are going to have more snow tonight!

Have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Waiting for Spring

Our winter has been very different this year. We have had many warm, sunny days with very little snow. This has left us with spring fever around here. I have opened up the windows on more than one occasion, then left them open for a bit before realizing that it still is too chilly for that. And I've been asked more than once by my kids if they can wear shorts. Still too cold for flip-flops, but plenty warm enough to spend lots of time out playing. We have hardly used our winter coats, and that alone has made life easier. It is so much less exhausting taking children out when you don't have to locate everyone's hats and mittens!

Still, it is winter, as we awoke this morning to a little bit of snow. It was such a shock, let me tell you. I guess it will be awhile before we can count on all the warmth of spring, but it is much more cheerful to embrace the winter, than wish it away. So we are staying cozy with my favorite hot chocolate, found in this post, and keeping things cheerful in our surroundings as well.

Here is our mantle in our dining area. This is also where we do school mostly. The branches were our Jesse tree during Advent. When the ornaments came off, I made some pom-poms to adorn it. The pom-poms are kind of hard to see in the photo, but they are lovely! And who doesn't appreciate the simple beauty of pine cones and winter fruit?

This wreath took me a really long time, but it was worth it. Yes, it is much better to embrace winter. Lots of beauty to be found this season.

What are you doing to enjoy the season while waiting for spring to arrive?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Christmas Gifts

Happy New Year! I hope I'm finding you well. Now that the holidays are over, I want to show you a bit of handmade. I didn't commit to making much this Christmas. I really wanted to just enjoy the season, which I did, I think. Although I never can get everything on my list completed. I didn't even start on the handmade stuff until a couple of weeks before Christmas Day.

For now, I just want to show you these little cuties. I made these kitties for my girls, inspired by this. These were so fun, and easy. I just had the best time picking out material and bits of felted wool from my stash. The head, arms, and legs of the dolls are from an old pair of pants. They are so nice and soft.

I just used this familiar pattern for the kittens, and I just re-drew the head, adding the ears and omitting the hair. I made the legs smaller than the pattern, closer in size to the cats' arms.

There are just so many inspiring ideas out there! Lots of talented people to grab ideas from.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Gingerbread House Decorating Party Tips!

Are you thinking of hosting a gingerbread house decorating party? I must say that, with the help of all my friends, I have this tradition almost down to a science. I was keeping a mental note of what we were finding out this time around, and maybe someone can benefit from said findings? And be sure to check out last year's tips on how to have a sweet party!

I'm not even sure how many years we have done this, I'm thinking five or six? We continue to learn, of course, as our children get older and we add more little ones into the mix. We just had our annual party last weekend, and we had a record amount of kiddies decorating. I think we had sixteen houses. We even had two little guys, one two years old and the other nearly two, decorating their own tiny custom houses. It was magic!

Tip number one: use hot glue!
Last year we decided to use graham crackers to make the houses, which worked fine, once we figured out the best way to make them. This year we used hot glue to stick the houses together, instead of icing, because no one really eats the house part anyway! This worked much better, they dried faster and stronger. We did pipe around the joints with icing, just to seal things up and make them look better. This also helps disguise any wonky-ness you may have!

Tip number two: let your husbands do some building (it is really good for some laughs!)
As a few of us sat making the houses, while other ladies were busy with other jobs, we kept saying again and again that we thought our husbands would enjoy the task of building. So, we put them to work! Seeing our fellas wielding glue guns was pretty cute. The guys had a blast, and the ladies had time for other things.

Tip number three: pay attention to what sizes of crackers you have
One thing we discovered early on, was that some brands of crackers were different sizes. That meant we had to be sure that the pieces of each house had the same brand. Also, one brand had crackers that weren't in sheets, they were in squares, which is almost a deal breaker. The good thing is that, when you are using the glue, it is very easy to just glue pieces like that together to make a sheet. When you are setting up to build, just put like brands together.

Tip number four: Use thicker icing for sticking candy
I remembered last year thinking that I needed to make the icing a little on the thick side. Why? Because heat from little hands quickly warms up the bags of icing and makes the icing a little on the runny side. Of course, if you are using ready made icing, you could put the icing bags in the fridge, just for a bit, until ready to use. This would keep them from becoming runny as quick. No one wants their candy sliding off the house!

Tip number five: big tootsie rolls make great chimneys!

A big element of this party is the candy. Our faves are gumdrops, sticks of gum, and those gummi rings make great wreaths. Someone brought sno caps, which I really enjoyed eating. One thing we found this time around was that big tootsie rolls make great chimneys. I had some (okay tons!) of Halloween candy leftover, and there were lots of those in my stash.

Tip number six: corral the candy with cupcake liners!

As we were watching our darling children stick candy to their houses, one of my mommy friends observed that we needed cupcake liners for each kid to house their candy. Some of the round candy was rolling away onto the floor. So, I grabbed some out of the cabinet, and problem solved! Seriously, what would I do without the wisdom of other moms?

This Christmas season, I have really tried to slow down, and do less. But this party is one thing I just can't seem to skip. When the kids start decorating, and everyone is having fun, I always look at my husband and smile. I LOVE hosting this event! I know these parties will be something we will always remember.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Grateful People

Have we waited far too long to surrender
Forgive us Oh God the years
We failed to seek your face
Oh Lord, your mercy turns us into
Grateful people
We can’t seem to find the words
So take our lives that there might be enough
To tell you how grateful
Lord, we are grateful

from "A Grateful People" by Watermark

The words of that song always come to my mind this time of year. It seems easy to remember to be thankful for the little things. My oldest daughter wrote that she was thankful for clean water, and our doctor. My two year old is thankful for cookies. We do tend to take the simple things for granted. A not so simple thing that I am guilty of forgetting is the mercy of a holy God. What I deserve and what He has given me are two very different things. So thankful.

Wishing you and yours a lovely Thanksgiving. And remember friends, a slice of pumpkin pie counts as a serving of vegetables!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Remembering to Be Thankful

With Thanksgiving upon us, we are trying to be more intentional about the way we celebrate the holiday. There are lots of ideas on how to get your kids thinking about thankfulness, and good ones too. This year I decided to just cut strips of paper that we can write our thoughts of thankfulness on. The strips will go into a jar, and then we can pull strips out to share at dinner each night.

I thought that after Thanksgiving, we can make the strips into paper chains. I always like to do paper chains for our Christmas decor, and this way, the cutting paper part is already done, and we can go on thinking about our thankfulness throughout the Christmas season.

This is just a simple way to turn our hearts towards being grateful.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cream Cheese Pastry with Crumbly Topping

If you are looking for something healthy to cook, move right along. This recipe is not for you. It is, however, so very delicious. It is another winner that my mom cooked up, years ago. Remember the Easy Pastry Braid? The same dough is used to make this recipe, and it is easy! This dough is so easy to work with, and always turns out right.

Ready? Here goes...

Make your dough, and refrigerate for an hour. I have even mixed it up before bed and left it to refrigerate until morning. I'm telling you, I have never had any trouble with this dough recipe.

Spray a 11 x 9 pan with cooking spray and set aside. Then pinch off about 1/3 of your dough and set that portion aside. With the rest of your dough, roll it into a rough rectangle and place in the pan. Then just press it around until you fill the pan. Press the dough up the edges of the pan as well. Now you have a place to pour your filling.

Mix your filling! In a mixing bowl, beat eight ounces cream cheese, one egg, and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. Pour this on top of your dough. Set that aside.

Now, take that bit of dough we pinched off, and roll it into a smallish rectangle. Cut strips of dough out, and lay them on top of your filling. We are going for a rustic look here, it doesn't need to be fancy. Every one will be too busy eating it to care what it looks like anyway! Now set that aside in a warm place to rest while you make the topping.

For the topping, mix one cup flour, one cup sugar, and one stick of butter with a pastry blender. I usually start out with a pastry blender and finish with my fingers. You can just use a fork if you don't have a pastry blender. Just mix it all up till it's crumbly. Make sure you leave some big pieces. Dump that deliciousness on top of your pastry!

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until it's golden brown.

I think you are going to love this one!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Look at the beautiful flower I grew! (not so much)

Lovely, isn't it? Yes, but you should know, this beauty came about because I spilled a bag of bird seed on a graveled spot in front of our house.

It's funny to me that this came up by accident, but my garden that I spent lots of time and money on did not do so well. Proof, if you ask me, that I should stick to sewing and cooking!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Getting Some Perspective...Once Again.

Losing sight of the goal in parenting can really make you feel despair. I had a day last week where I forgot what my objective was. It seemed all day I was quietly labeling my children as rotten, because there had been so much disobedience. I complained to my husband about them when he got home. Then when all were in bed and one little straggler was resisting sleep, I'd had enough. Rotten, rotten, rotten. I escaped to my bedroom where God graciously brought my thoughts back to where they needed to be. Suddenly it hit me. Why did I want my children to obey? I realized that I was focusing on obedience for convenience sake. When they obey, it makes things easier on me. When they don't deliver, then they are bad and I must be a failure for not getting through to them. And then, there at the very bottom, the only thing left for me to do is demand justice. Someone must pay, whether it is the kids for their mistakes, or me for mine.

It was so humbling for me to come to this realization. What am I hoping to raise? Children who are sinners yet see their need for a Savior? Or little people-pleasers who are self-righteously obeying authority for appearance sake? I want a heart change in my children. Disobedience is a window into what is going on in my children's hearts. It is an opportunity to teach them truth.

When my perspective had changed, I was able to see that I had not been trusting God for my children's lives. Right now, day after day of the same struggles, it is easy to feel like I am not making any progress. However, God is at work, and He will put my feeble attempts to good use. I had forgotten that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. Believing that He will equip me to train my children helps keep my perspective right where it should be.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Making Jam

This morning I came across this recipe, and I am going to try it as soon as I find a good deal on plums. I love making homemade jam. There's something about those sparkly jars in my cabinet filled with something I made. I made my first batch of jam last year using blackberries from our yard. Since then I've made peach, strawberry, and blueberry. The more I have done it the more confident I have become. Making jam isn't nearly as intimidating to me as canning other things, because you use the water bath method. You can buy special equipment for this, but I just use my stockpot with a rag on the bottom instead of a rack. Besides your jars and lids, the only other equipment you need is a utensil set. This is the one I have.

This site is where I started reading up on canning, and it had lots of helpful tips. I read and re-read about making jam before making my first batch, and then I just followed the directions on the pectin package. I've used Sure-Jell for less sugar recipes, and this one. These allow you to make jam with a lot less sugar, or even with honey.

I hope these links and tips will be helpful if you've never tried making jam before. It really is so much fun, and sweet little jars of jam make great gifts!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Watermelon Slushies

I always find us out of fun drinks on days when the kids are out in the sun, not a good thing. We have had some dreadfully hot days here lately, and I needed a cold drink for my four little ones. So I made slushies! It is amazing what a blender can do.

This is really a non-recipe, and this whole post is serving to fill in the gap until I have something brilliant to share, if I'm being honest. Maybe this will just spark some creativity in the kitchen? I felt this drink wasn't really sweet enough for my grown-up taste, but my kids loved it. My daughter asked me if I made this up myself, and when I answered yes, she seemed impressed. So I guess you can't go wrong if something you try in the kitchen charms your kids.

I simply blended about two cups chopped watermelon, a cup of ice, about a 1/4 cup apple juice, and the juice of two lemons. I tasted and added until I got the consistency I wanted. Sorry about the lack of concrete measurements; told you it was a non-recipe.

I really think some limeade in place of the apple juice might make this fabulous. And I'm certain some really sweet lemonade would do the trick. So you try it and tell me what you come up with, and I will just benefit from your creativity! How's that?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Why am I blogging about rice krispie treats?

Because these were just so good. Boasting browned butter (a lot of it) and coarse salt, these are not your grandma's rice krispie treats! I don't have a picture to show you because we ate them all up at Bible study the other night, and I've been a pretty lazy blogger lately. I doubled the recipe and put them in a 11x13 dish, and got lovely towering treats.

I've been labeled a food snob, and these treats are definitely food snobbery at it's best. For me, food snobbery is about taking simple ingredients and pairing them with something unexpected. It's not about fussy, hard to find ingredients or difficult cooking methods.

Hopefully soon I will be back to regular blogging. We are just really trying to pack in plenty of summer fun in between laundry/cooking/naps while we still can! Hope you are enjoying your summer.