Saturday, December 28, 2013

Taking a Moment

And's all over.  Gifts, thoughtfully chosen and wrapped to shiny, sparkling perfection, are handed out, oohed and aahed over, proper thanks offered. The Christmas ham, the hors d'oeuvres, the brightly frosted cookies are no more. Family has come, bearing more food and more gifts, and they've gone.  Gift boxes have been flattened, ribbon rolled up and stored until next year. Strange, this whole process of preparation, planning, anticipation, execution...and then exhaustion.

 There have been years when I would un-deck the halls as soon as the hoopla has ended. Not so this time.  Lights still twinkle on the tree. Snowflakes still surround the glittery "Let It Snow" that hangs on the mirror.  A teeny manger scene continues to sit on a bookshelf as a reminder of a night in a stable when Love came down.  I find myself rather pensive and unwilling to let go.  Perhaps I need a few days more to accept the ending, to gather the gumption to face a new beginning.  Already I know there are challenges to overcome, joys to be discovered, plans to make.

What lies ahead, the known and the things we can't possibly imagine, they roll soon. But not today.  Not this moment. Today I am choosing this quiet with my journal, a hot cup of coffee, good music and a little something full of chocolaty comfort. This moment is mine to just be. Quiet. Rest.

The new year?  I'm allowing myself a Scarlett O'Hara moment. I'll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Anyone who knows me knows that crafting ain't my thang.  Really. Just thinking of sewing, knitting, scrapbooking and the like, I start to feel dread. I can spend an entire day in the kitchen chopping and creating wonderfulness, but give me paper, pencil, scissors and glue, and I can promise you disaster. Allow me to share an example of my ineptitude...
The really sad thing here is, I was actually trying to draw Harry Potter. Honestly, I was. When Maddy was younger, she liked to give us family art lessons (how cute is she!?) and this was my project.  With Harry's neck so thick, I decided to rename the book.

 All that to say that, in spite of my decided lack of crafting ability, I created a little something a few days ago. Ok, Kyra helped a bit.  She's marginally better than I when it comes to paper and scissors. As I was reading a post by a favorite blogger, I discovered a link to yet another blog (you know how that goes) with the most wonderful idea, a creative and beautiful way to celebrate Advent.  Take a look at is lovely (she probably actually enjoys crafting.)

Here is our version---photos of some precious people (many are newly-made friends from Kyra's Rwanda trip) hanging at the foot of the stairs to help us remember to pray. Some nights we choose one to pray for as a family, but their beautiful faces are there for us to see many times during the course of every day, a reminder that there is so much more to this world than our little corner of it.  I love it.  Think I'll keep it up after Christmas, changing out and adding to the photos as God puts people on our hearts.

Thanks and blessings to Devi at My Daily Bread and Butter for the beautiful idea!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What to do with The Ugly

The past.  We all have one. Some of ours may be a bit more "colorful" than others. I have to admit to a bit of a rainbow myself. Yep, I've got a past full of mistakes of all shapes and sizes, bad choices, and seasons of falling flat on my face in a nasty mess of horribly lacking faith.  But...I have a Savior whose sacrifice has covered my past, removing it as far from me as the East is from the West. I choose to walk in that grace, that forgiveness--to believe Him and trust that He keeps His word. I choose to trust that He is enough.

So what do we do with our pasts once we are forgiven, once we have been delivered?  We extend grace, love, and mercy to others, just as it was extended to us. Use the ugly to make your little corner of the world more beautiful. Did you get pregnant in high school?  Go love and support a scared, stressed teen mom. Have you overcome an addiction?  Give real help and mercy to someone in the throes of their own struggles.  Were you guilty of condemning others, mired in graceless judgement? Go be there for those in the fringes, without a place to belong.  Be Jesus...grace, mercy, kindness and true empathy.  

What do we not do with our pasts?  Wallow in them or let them control our present. Don't believe the enemy when he tells you that the hard times are punishment for your shortcomings.  See this for what it is--a big, fat lie. His desire is for you to walk in defeat, but you already have've only to claim it, walking into a new future. 

My heart has been heavy these past few weeks for some of you struggling so and allowing your pasts to affect your present. This quote from Graham Cooke spoke volumes to my heart.  I hope it touches yours as well. 

"Whenever God gives freedom, it is always implicit that the freedom He gives you can be given to other people. You go around setting other people free from the very thing that you were victimized by.  God comes into your life and He turns the areas of abuse into areas of ministry and significance. He gives you a calling in the area where the enemy tried to strip you of your identity or even kill your life. Your testimony is the beginning of your ministry!"

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Best Ever Hair Product...No Jokin'

A quick little post today for those of you with fine hair or (like me) fine hair AND a cowlick on the crown of your head that ALWAYS wants to make a part from the crown of your head and down.  Ugh...freakin' annoying.  Anyway, I have found the solution.

About a year ago, my full-of awesomeness niece, Bobbi (who just happens to be a rock star hair stylist), introduced me to this....

Poor Bobbi, so nicely listening to my lamenting of the cowlick and subsequent lack of height where hair should have some height, says to me, "You just need to get some Big Sexy Hair Powder Play.  Sprinkle it in your roots.  Gives it some grit."  Simple words.  Big life-changing impact. (I'm only sort of exaggerating here.)

I love this stuff, people, in case you can't already tell. If someone were to tell me that it was made of radioactive plutonium, I'd have to give serious thought to whether or not it is worth it to give it up. Kyra has fine hair as well and she would wholeheartedly agree.  On a recent trip to Boston, I introduced my cousins to the wonderful new world of Powder Play, which was followed by a trip to TJ Maxx to buy every bottle they had (it was half price there, just so you know.)

So there ya go. That's all I have for today.

You are welcome.

Bobbi, I love you anyway....but I'm pretty sure I love you more now. :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Worst of Times

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way..."

I find myself contemplating a bit of Dickens this morning, recalling a very trying season of our lives. This season, begun so auspiciously and ending in such ugliness and heartache, rarely comes to mind these days.  However there is, on occasion, a happening or a comment that brings with it a rush of memories.  Last week was one such occasion.  It all began with a story--news of dishonesty and lying, of crime and punishment, a story of someone I once knew, distrusted, and who had caused so much hurt.

It's quite interesting really, my default reaction to this news. Suffice it to say, it was ugly.  And prideful. It was the urge to grab the phone and call those who had weathered this season with me, those who knew. It was the longing to email the story to a few people along with a big, "I freaking told you so!"  It was even, I'm truly ashamed to say, laughter. I suppose it could be said that it was one of those moments in life when it seems that a wrong has been somehow righted, when someone who caused you pain gets their comeuppance.

It wasn't long before I felt that nudging, that little voice in my spirit and, to be honest, I didn't really want to listen.  I wanted to have my little "victory" that I was so enjoying.  Self righteousness. Justification. Validation. This reaction of mine included not one ounce of compassion, grace, or mercy.  (Oh my, I find it difficult to even type that now. Shame on me. I told you it was ugly.)  I even chose to ignore, for a little while, the voice of my Father crying for me to stop. But my Jesus is patient, kind, long suffering.  He is grace and mercy, always turning my heart around--as soon as I choose to listen.

I could tell you the exact moment I chose to hear his voice, the moment when he broke my heart with loving reminders of my own imperfections, of shortcomings and times when I, myself, had wronged others. It was a moment of questioning as well, for I thought I'd forgiven. I thought I'd let it go, but something in my heart was still holding on to things thought to be long gone. There was still forgiveness to be had, grace to be given, healing to be done.

If there is anything I've learned in my 41 years, it is this--God is all about the process, using life experiences to constantly mold us into His likeness. I find myself without the ability to express what is in my heart.  His love overwhelms me, drawing me closer, changing me. I am learning, albeit very slowly, to react with grace, to love without judgement, and to trust. Thank you, my precious Jesus, for loving me and for bringing healing through the ugliness.

photo by Kyra...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Good Food on a Budget...Waste Not, Want Not

Food is stinkin' expensive.  In an ideal world, we'd all have be gathering the bounty from our backyard gardens to feed our families. Unfortunately, that's not the case for most. Our family recently made a 2000 mile move from Montana to Texas, making gardening an impossibility at the moment. I really, really miss my garden, but life goes on...and you go to the grocery store.  Months ago, I'd promised to do a few posts on keeping costs down while feeding a family whole, live, organic (mostly) foods.  Since our move has happened and we are somewhat settled, this is the first of said posts. Hopefully you will find it helpful.

It is, as we all know, more budget-friendly to buy in bulk and larger quantities. The downside to this is sometimes having food go bad before it gets used. Oh my goodness, I really hate that!  It makes me quite upset with myself when I bring home lovely bunches of greens or carrots, only to let them get limp and slimy in the fridge.  Unacceptable. Here are a few solutions I've found to work nicely.

Fresh is best when it comes to fruits and veggies, so I always leave out an amount that I know we will use up before they can go bad. The rest is usually either juiced or frozen.  Onions and peppers, for example, freeze nicely if you just cut them up and put them in freezer bags.  I once bought an entire basket of peppers at farmer's market, which I cut up and put in the freezer, giving us yummy peppers to enjoy all winter. You can do this with many veggies--celery, carrots, kale, chard, etc. If it is more than you can use fairly quickly, I recommend blanching, as some things, greens in particular, can get bitter if in the freezer for an extended amount of time.  While frozen produce isn't always ideal for some dishes, it is great for things like soups, smoothies, etc. Simply take out what you need, putting the remainder back in the freezer.

If you have a juicer, use it to juice foods likes apples, pear, carrots, celery, or cucumbers.  Simply freeze in ice cube trays and pop them into a freezer bag or mason jar.  Fruit and veggie juice cubes are great in smoothies!  Citrus fruits, like lemons and limes, can also be juiced and frozen. Be sure to zest them first and freeze that as well.    *(Sprinkle baking soda and salt in your sink and give it a little scrub with the leftover lemon rind or put the rinds in a jar of vinegar.  Let the jar sit for a few weeks, adding rinds as you have them, making a great citrus cleaner for around the house.)

Fresh herbs don't last long, even in the fridge.  Use ice cube trays filled with sprigs of herbs and olive oil to freeze them.  As with other things, just pop the cubes out and into a jar or freezer bag.  It's really easy to grab a cube or two out of the freezer to use in a broth or skillet.

Life can get crazy busy, I know, and sometimes doing things like blanching, chopping and freezing may sound like more than you have time for.  In the long run, however, it makes things easier and has the added benefit of saving your family some money on groceries!  Good luck!

Next up:
Just Say No! to Canned Beans :-)

Monday, October 21, 2013


My Kyra. So lovely--inside and out. Witty. Fun. Tougher than she realizes. Already plotting her course, her heart leaving our nest to live out her very own God-adventure. My girl with the hippie heart, Birkenstocks, and dreams of living a life to bless others. My goodness--how I love you, Bitty.  Happy 18th birthday!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

When Life Gives You Brown Bananas

One of the 5,214,697 ways that South Texas differs from Montana is the rate at which fruit ripens as it sits in my fruit bowl. I find myself with many, many overripe, brown bananas. I don't think we've made it through an entire bunch yet without at least a couple of them ending up in the freezer.  What to do with a bunch of brown bananas???  Make banana bread, of course!

For all of you who may actually be experiencing fall temperatures (it was in the 90's in Houston today) and for my Montana friends who are under a winter storm warning, here is our family's favorite banana bread recipe.  Happy Baking!!!!

Banana Nut Bread

Cream together:
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar (I usually add less than this.)

Blend in:
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups mashed banana

Mix in separate bowl:
2 cups flour
1 heaping tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

Add flour mixture to banana mixture alternately with 1/2 cup buttermilk.
Optional: 1 cup chopped pecans

Bake in 2 greased and floured loaf pans.
325 degrees for 1 1/4-1 1/2 hrs.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


(image via Pinterest, unable to find original post)
A natural antioxidant and powerful anti-inflammatory, turmeric (circumin) is getting a lot of press in holistic circles at the moment.  After taking it for a time, I can attest to it's healing properties.  It has definitely helped me with a health issue.  Though I originally took a turmeric tincture, I now just include it in my diet.  In case any of you are interested, I thought I'd share a couple of easy ways to incorporate more turmeric into what you eat.

If you are someone who believes in eating pastured, local eggs, a great way to eat turmeric is to sprinkle it on your eggs. It adds a yummy, subtle flavor and it's a lovely yellow color. :)  (Beware--it REALLY stains clothing!)   A second easy way to eat tumeric is to add it to your green smoothies.  Since turmeric is a fat soluble nutrient, be sure to include a healthy oil like coconut or hemp.

 Spicy, flavorful, and fragrant, Middle Eastern and African cuisine is an absolute favorite around our house.  Nothing smells more amazing than a simmering curry or tagine.  Oh my goodness gracious. Not only does it smell and taste fantastic, it's also full of herbs and spices that can help improve health.  Sounds like a win-win situation to me. So make a trip to your local Hallal market.  If that's not an option, many supermarkets are stocking a bigger variety of interesting spices nowadays.  I'll share with you one of my family's favorite dishes and a great spice rub for roasting chicken.  Enjoy!

Beef Kofta Curry

1 lb ground beef
3 T finely chopped onion
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped
1 T plain greek yogurt
4 T flour
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 fresh green chili (seeded and finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ tsp black mustard seeds
1 egg
Salt and pepper

For the curry sauce:
2 T butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 T curry powder
4 green cardamom pods (you can take these out after it is finished cooking. Pretty nasty to bite into!)
2 ½ cups hot beef stock
1 T tomato paste
2 T plain greek yogurt
1 T fresh cilantro, chopped.

Put beef in large bowl, add remaining meatball ingredients and mix well with your hands. Roll into small balls and put aside on a floured plate.
To make curry sauce, heat butter over medium heat. Fry onion/garlic about 10 minutes or until soft.
Reduce heat and add curry powder and cardamom pods. Cook for a few minutes, stirring well.
Slowly stir in stock and then add paste, yogurt and cilantro. Stir well.
Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add meatballs a few at a time, allow to cook briefly and then add a few more, until all of them are in the pan. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through.  Avoid stirring, but gently move meatballs around. The curry should thicken slightly, but you can add a bit more stock or some water if it gets too dry.
Serve hot with rice.

                                      East African Spice Rub for Roast Chicken

Mix together:
2 Tablespoons soft butter
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
4 Tablespoons thick coconut milk
4 Tablespoons dry sherry
1 tsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
Sprinkling of chili powder

Recipes from The African and Middle Eastern Cookbook  by Josephine Bacon and Jenni Fleetwood

Friday, September 13, 2013


One of my best friends just found out she is pregnant with twins and is now so sick she can't get off the couch.  She already has 2 little ones to care for. Oh how I remember those days.  When I had my Maddy, Shelby was only 4 years old, Kyra merely 2. ( My goodness--what were we thinking???  Obviously, thinking wasn't at the top of our priority list. ;) ) Definitely a crazy few years.  I recall not being able to get off the couch myself when I was pregnant with Maddy, and I have a very vivid memory of these 2 tiny faces staring at me as I was lying there trying not to lose my lunch.
Shelby looked at me, shook his little head and said, "Mommy, are you EVER going to get off the couch?"  To which I replied, after I had started sobbing, "Nooooo, I don't think so!"
Oh for Pete's sake.
Thankfully, we survived. Maddy was born, and now my cute little munchkins are so grown up.

To all of you who are parenting little ones, navigating your way through pregnancies and piles of diapers--hang in there. These days, full of things that seem so never ending and exhausting, are fleeting.   There are many things I wish I'd done differently, you'll someday feel the same.  While it would be nice if each kid popped out with his/her own manual, this isn't how it goes and so we will all make mistakes. It's life.

Here are a few things I've learned over the years...

~Hug your kids...a lot!  Hug them, kiss them, squeeze them tightly.  Stop whatever you are doing and take time to let them sit in your lap. Tell them you love them, even if they they roll their eyes and say, "I know, Mom. Geez!"

~Let them be goofy.


~And be goofy with them.

 ~Let them sleep outside on the trampoline...making a big mess with every single blanket, pillow and sleeping bag you own. When you hear them at 2am, running around the backyard, just be thankful and try to go back to sleep.

~Let them play outside and get dirty.  After that...let them bring home bugs and sticks and rocks and dandelions. When they offer you the gift of a gravel rock that they painted, accept it with a smile.

~Let them paint the graffiti on the wall, play dress up, and make a mess baking cupcakes.

~Love them enough to let them go through the tough things, and be thankful for every single day that you are blessed to be with them. 

~Play ball, build a snowman, cherish the laughter, and play in the yard.


~Coach that team.

~Love every handmade birthday card and Christmas gift. Put those sweet little drawings and paintings on the fridge.

~Love them for who they are, each so different from the other, with special talents and gifts.

~Laugh.  Laugh.  Laugh.