Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Reading List for This Week

My reading list for this week may seem a little repetitive, even though I have added one "just for fun" and one "for review" in the mix.

Starting from the bottom and going up:

David and I are currently working on Chase The Lion for our homegroup Bible Study.   It's a great study, all about taking risks for God, and I'm really enjoying it.  

Of course, I've got my Bible in this stack and I've been enjoying the book of Ezra this week.   I think Ezra has some great life lessons to share.   The fact that the Jews were coming up against all kinds of opposition while trying to rebuild the temple, speaks to me on several levels.  Sometimes when we set out to accomplish something, someone or some thing will try to block our efforts.   At that point, we have to reevaluate our choices and make the decision to persevere or turn back.  

I love that God's word is always relevant!

Next is my "just for fun" book - a memoir by Susan Lucci (aka Erica Kane, from All My Children), titled All My Life.  I always like to have a book I can read, just for relaxing and escaping.    Since the majority of my time is spent reading books about learning or self help, I need to have a book on the side that is simply for entertainment.   My favorites are Historical Fiction, Mysteries and Biographies, with the occasional magazine on standby.  

I'm still reading First Steps to Wealth by Dani Johnson and The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst.    I'm taking notes on both of these books, which is what takes me so long to read them.    Though I've tried to sit and read these and try not to highlight or take notes......it just isn't possible!   Yes, they are that good!

And, that cute little book on top of the stack is my latest review book from BookLook.   I thought it would be fun to review a children's book and since this household loves the Robertson gang, I chose this one.   Duck Commander Devotions for Kids is really fun, with lots of personal stories accompanied by scriptures and devotional lessons for kids.     I will be posting a review on this one very soon.

And there you have it.....my reading list for this week.

I would love to hear what you're reading, so leave me a comment and share your list with me.

Blessings friends!
 Enjoy your day!

Monday, March 23, 2015

In The Kitchen - My Favorite Biscuits

I wanted to start a new routine this week and blog about certain things on certain days.  Although I've tried this before and  always seem to drop the routine for the sake of important things to say that don't fit the mold, you never know when something will actually stick and voila'.....you have a new routine!

 But, the real motive behind the desire for a routine, is that I get caught up on certain topics or styles and I forget to mix it up a bit.   This is fine, if that's how you want to manage your blog (one genre), but I have many other things I would like to share here, so I'm going to try and be more intentional about what I write.

So......today I thought I'd share my favorite biscuit recipe.  These are the best tasting biscuits, straight out of the oven, with your favorite jelly or jam and they are made with staple ingredients, right out of the cabinet.

This recipe comes from Mystie Winckler's meal plan titled Simplified Dinners.


This is a great little meal planning ebook, which teaches how to stock your pantry and make a whole lot of meals out of basic, on hand ingredients.

The biscuits are found on p. 29 and simply titled....BISCUITS!

You start out with your basic ingredients:

Whisk together:
2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
3 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt

Cut in 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

(I use my handy dandy pastry cutter, which I was introduced to by the Pioneer Woman one Saturday morning.)

Stir gently, just until combined:
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1 T. honey

See these old measuring spoons?  I bought these at an antique shop, years ago, because my mom had a set of these when I was growing up.  

Dump onto floured counter, roll, cut.
Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10 minutes at 425*.

Truly, there is no need to grease the pan, due to all the "cut in" butter.   When they are baking, they are literally oozing butter onto the pan.

As you can see,  I don't roll mine out.   I just plop them onto the cookie sheet in all kinds of shapes and sizes.   Drop biscuits are another thing from my childhood, that I remember fondly.   They were always my favorite!

And, there you have it.....a super easy biscuit recipe!  No need to pick up a box mix!   Just reach into the pantry and use the fresh ingredients you already have on hand.

I love these biscuits because you can barely taste a hint of sweetness with the honey in the recipe.

Top them with a little bit more melted butter and your favorite jam and you've got yourself a delicious, homemade breakfast!


Friday, March 20, 2015

My Week in Black and White

 It's been quite a week around here, with a sick teenager, wild hogs taking over our yard and late night medicine rounds.   I think I'm existing on roughly four good hours of sleep a night.   However, I did manage to keep my phone (camera) handy and snap some shots from our week.   I can't get enough of black and white, so this week's recap is just that - a walk through - in black and white.

Here's my diningroom after painting it white and getting all the stuff back on the walls.   And, it looks so much better than yellow!   I never thought I'd go back to all white, but I think I'm learning that simple is best!

What's a front porch without an old, country dog on it, right?  

I grabbed this photo on Sunday afternoon.   The weather was perfect for sitting outside, so we called up an old friend and told him to come over for some coffee on the porch.   He was there in 10 minutes and we had a nice afternoon of talking about old times and upcoming events.   It felt like a Sunday afternoon is supposed to feel - relaxed and un-rushed.

Another shot of the finished diningroom, looking into the livingroom.

Since Collin has been sick this week, I've had plenty of time to clean and catch up on work around here.    I decided to tackle the boy's bathroom on this day.   I had to snap a shot of our clawfoot tub.  It's one of the things we are proud of in this old house.    David and I found it in a shop in downtown, brought it home, sandblasted it, cleaned it up and it's been here ever since.  

We knew, when we moved into this house, that it wouldn't be complete without a clawfoot tub.

This is a picture of our new coffee machine.   I have given up the Keurig and I'll tell you why.....
too expensive!!
We have enjoyed a Keurig for about 2 years now, but honestly, I've encountered several downsides to owning one.

First off, the coffee is much stronger, which causes me to put more cream and sugar than normal, which caused me to gain weight.   Yes, that's my story and I'm sticking with it!

Secondly - David found that he only liked one brand of k-cups and they only sold them at Kroger, which meant I would be forced to buy our coffee at Kroger, even if I wanted to shop another store that week.   What a pain!

Finally, those stupid k-cups are expensive!

When I added up what we were spending on coffee each month, it was ridiculous!  And, yes, we tried to use the single, fill-em-yourself filter cups, but it just got to be a pain, so I splurged on a fairly pricey coffee machine, hoping to please my (picky) husband (he likes his coffee strong and very hot).

So far, we are getting used to brewing several cups at a time and having to wait five minutes before it's ready.   How spoiled have we gotten?   So yes, we've gone back to the coffee dark ages, if you will, but hey.....anything to save money, right?   Well, actually....no.....but at least we can try this one thing.

This week, I also spent some time in the kitchen, baking some sugar cookies for Collin (recipe from the Pioneer woman), hoping he would be cheered up a little.   He missed a lot of things going on this week, due to being so sick.    This boy only gets sick about once a year, but when he does....he does!

This is me in the car wash.   Well, actually, this is me, in the suburban, in the car wash.   Funny story about this car wash......I used to refuse to go through it because it scared me!   Yep....it scared me!

It's automatic and the kind that requires you to put the car in neutral, take your feet off the pedals, hands off the wheel and let the machine do the moving.    Ok, this is a real problem for control freaks!   But, I was brave this week and managed to make it through there alive.   Yay me!

Last but not least.....I stepped up to my kitchen sink yesterday and this was my view.   Of course, I ran to get my phone and snapped a few shots.  

The horses stand in this spot every morning, catching the sun rays, as it rises up over the house.  

I'm always amazed at their routine.

The old clorox bottle is one we found buried on the property.   It was probably David's grandmother's from days gone by.   How cool is that?    I have it on my window sill, with pretty yellow flowers stuck in the top.

And, that's the tour for the week.  

Tomorrow will yield our Saturday (big) breakfast, maybe some coffee on the porch, oil changes, laundry and who knows - maybe some junk shopping.

And, hopefully, some healing for Collin, a good meal Saturday night and then on to church on Sunday morning.

It's a busy but simple life.  

Just the way I like it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Even Though.....

This is the view from my kitchen window this morning.

Even though my teen has been sick for 5 days now.......

Even though I have a friend who won't speak to me.....

Even though there are little dust balls rolling around the wood floor......

Even though the floors need mopping and the wood needs dusting.......

Even though my hair is in a funky transition right now......

Even though David and I are making decisions that aren't fun......

Even though my to-do list is a mile long......

Even though I really just want to sit and read a new book.......

Even though I've been up at 3:30 a.m. trying to ease Collin's fever and cough.....

God is still Good!  

Life is still beautiful and messy and unpredictable and challenging and busy and all kinds of crazy.

But, I still have a family who loves me and a Savior who died for me and friends that think I'm worth the effort.

And, it's still a good day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Throwback and Some Amazing Meals!

 (Chocolate Daffy Cake from Marcy Jo's cookbook)

With talk of friends moving to Nashville and coming and going from one of our favorites cities, I wanted to share some posts from a series I did last year, called A Month of Meals With Marcy Jo's.

Marcy Jo's is an amazing little eating spot, just outside of Nashville, and it will forever be one of our favorite places to go.

So, last year, here on the blog, I did a series featuring recipes from Marcy Jo's cookbook.   Many of my friends participated in making the weekly selection of meals and we had a great time talking and sharing pictures of the food we prepared.  I even gave away some prizes at the end of the series.

Well, I know I have a few new followers this year and I wouldn't want anyone to miss out on this great food, so I created a page that has all the links to last year's posts, where you can see the recipes, some videos and get to know the people behind Marcy Jo's.

You can find the posts HERE or click the tab at the top of the blog titled Marcy Jo's Meals or click on the picture on the right side bar.    Many ways to get there - just click on one!

And, if you try any of the recipes, please let me know!

Happy Eating!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Painting My Way

With all the colors there are in the world, guess which one I used to paint my diningroom?



I spent the entire day, yesterday, painting over a pretty yellow wall, which has previously been red, blue, and seafoam green!  

(Insert husband shaking his head in disbelief)

Here's the deal.......

I have a small dining room, placed right in the middle of the house.   The only light it gets, comes from either the living room windows or the small kitchen window, so it doesn't have any natural light coming in, making it kind of a dark room.

When we first moved in, I thought it would be great to have a red dining room (now I'm shaking my head!), as seen in those wonderful magazines, styled by professionals.   However, I quickly learned that choosing paint is like nothing else you've ever done!   I mean, really?  Who needs 50 shades of red?  And, picking a red that doesn't look like maroon, is the same as trying to pick a yellow that doesn't look like a stripe they use to divide lanes on the road!

You can really go wrong, when choosing paint!

So, after trying all of the primary colors over the years, I decided this room called for the simple touch......plain old white (which also has 50 shades to choose from).

(Here's the room in yellow)

The problem with having yellow walls was that the room gave off a yellow hue.  Being that I use my dining room table for taking pictures (frequently), I started noticing that every single picture looked yellow!   No one wants yellow pictures!

Once I started noticing the yellow in every picture, I couldn't take it anymore and decided the room needed a makeover and this weekend was the perfect opportunity.

David was off doing volunteer work on an old ship and Collin was away on a church retreat.  This was good and bad, all at the same time.

Good -  because I could work at my own pace, without anyone needing anything from me, but at the same time - I would be working alone, with no one to help!  

I had David help me move the furniture into the center of the room, before he left, but after that, I was on my own.

I decided I was going to use as much time as I needed and take breaks frequently.   This way, I was hoping to keep my back in good shape.  

I had the TV going in the living room (Growing Pains reruns) and I worked on the cutting in, first.  I can honestly say.....I hate the cutting in and taping off and all the other work, besides the actual painting.     This prep took the most time  and had to be done in sections, followed by water breaks, lunch and a cup of coffee or two.

After all the hard work was done, I rolled the paint on the walls, without much incident, and was pretty pleased with the turn out.    I just needed to touch up a few spots at the top of the walls, where my neck got tired and I didn't do a great job.   

Surprisingly, I finished around 3:30 in the afternoon, and had enough time to still do laundry and sit on the couch for a little down time, before David came home.

I had Potato soup cooking in the crockpot, so dinner was with no effort, except throwing some rolls in the oven.

I will say that painting without help isn't the ideal way to go.  I mean, it's nice to have extra hands (and really tall men) to help with the hard parts.   

However, it was really nice to go at my own pace, paint over the nails, that I strategically left in place, and not lay down a bunch of plastic on the floors.   Yep....I am crazy like that!

Of course, I'll be wiping up little specks of paint, here and there, but it will bring back memories of the time when I did the job - all by myself - and it all came out looking pretty good.

Hey!  And, here's to pictures that look normal!  Cheers!

(Picture coming soon.....as soon as I put all the stuff back on the walls, on the nails that are still there!)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Name This Cow!

See this cow?   It has nothing to do with my day today, but my posts have been kind of heavy lately, so I thought I'd post something that makes me smile.   That's right, because I LOVE COWS!

So, as I head off to another city today to meet up with an old friend, I leave you with this cute little cow that I saw on one of our recent road trips.

He should have a name, don't you think?

I'm up for suggestions.....

Leave yours in the comment box.

See ya soon!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Are You Emotionally Bankrupt?

Have you ever agonized over a decision?

Do you have a hard time saying NO, even when your heart is screaming at you not to add one more thing to your plate?

I truly believe, as women, we struggle with this all the time!

I've been reading this book by Lysa Terkeurst and it is teaching me A LOT about discerning and making decisions that are best.

Obviously I can't retell the entire book and every sentence I've highlighted (which is almost the entire book!), but I want to share some great insight about something that had me screaming YES, the moment I read it.

It's the reality of being emotionally bankrupt.   That sounds so dramatic, doesn't it?

But, it's a real thing!

And, it explains so much about why I have developed a real adversity to busyness over the past few years.

Every day, we are faced with decisions and opportunities that require discernment and wisdom. Whether it's a new opportunity to serve at church, work, a charity or in the community.....someone wants us to do something that we're not already doing.   And, it's up to us to decide how that opportunity fits into our home, our family, and our life.

Some people say YES to everything.   Let's face it.  Some are addicted to busyness.   Personally, I think those who say yes to everything are running from something, whether it be a less-than-perfect home life, the avoidance of having to maintain the responsibilities at home, or simply being motivated by guilt and peer pressure.

But, even those YES people are going to crash and burn, at some point in time.   It's inevitable.

God never intended for any of us to do every single thing that comes our way!

What God does call us to do, is serve with love and when you're stretched to the limit, I dare say your attitude will not reflect one of love.

Somewhere along the line of cramming ONE MORE activity into your life, someone is going to get the worst of you, instead of the best of you.   Think about it.

The sad thing is, many times it's our family that gets the worst, because we're too busy trying to please the world.    It's just the truth.

This is where the emotional bankruptcy takes place.     I think Lysa says it best.......

"If someone or something demands attention 
that I don't have the emotional space to handle, 
my actions start betraying my intentions.
I will start slipping at reflecting Jesus in my words and deeds." 

In other words, you can add all the activities you have time for, but maintaining the attitude that reflects LOVE, is only going to stretch so far.    

Emotionally you will become pulled and stretched and aggravated and stressed and at some point, feel like you can't handle one more thing being asked of you.

It's a shame we wait until we are emotionally bankrupt before taking the steps to fix these things.

Wouldn't the better method be to approach opportunities with wisdom and discernment and make wise choices from the beginning, rather than fall down bankrupt later on?

When I read this section, it really spoke to me because this is what I feel when I get overly busy......I feel emotionally stressed, unable to concentrate, pulled and pushed and sometimes unable to live up to all the responsibilities.   I don't give my "all" to anything (except the stress).   I feel like a ping pong ball, going back and forth, just barely slapping the paddle of one thing, before having to shove off to the next!   

Ladies - I truly believe this is a trap from Satan.   There....I said it!

Have you looked around at families today?  Broken, shattered, busy, barely still for very long.   Do you really think this is God's ultimate desire for the family?  YOUR family?

I'm going to leave you with this question that Lysa poses on page 30 of her book:

"So that I might bless whom?"

Add that question to every activity on your list and see what you come up with.   

Are you doing things for the right reasons?  Are you saying YES to glorify God, yourself, your boss, your kids, your reputation, or what?

Why do you keep saying YES and who is getting your NO because of that YES?

Look around and take inventory.   If you're emotionally spent and there is nothing left at the end of the day.......

you're bankrupt and a bankrupt soul does not reflect the love of God.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Taxes, Pollen, and Risky Business!

Today's going to be a day of office work.....specifically bills and taxes.   I've totally been avoiding the taxes this year.  Not sure why, except that I just haven't felt like gathering up all the papers, digging through the files and realizing that I'm not half as organized as I used to be or want to be.

Yesterday we all kind of had the "pollen hangover", so I admit, I wasn't as productive as I needed to be.   Plus, after our busy weekend with the birthday boy, it felt kind of nice to go at a slower pace.

We did manage to make it to our home Bible study group and though I thought it would be hard to sit for two hours, being as tired and stopped up as we both were, I'm so glad we went.

We are doing a Bible Study called Chase The Lion and it's very enlightening.   It's all about taking risks in our lives and we had some great conversation about what that might look like for each individual.

Most of us were thinking that risk taking was more about doing those somewhat crazy things that cause people to either marvel at you or think you're insane.   But, as we moved along in the discussion, we realized that risk taking is really unique to each person, their lifestyle and calling.

For one person - it's about taking a new position at work.  For others, it's about moving away from your hometown, where you've raised kids, put down roots and made lifelong friends.  Sometimes it's about leaving a steady job to go and start something from the ground up.   Sometimes it's about going against society's expectations and doing your own thing (can you say HOMESCHOOLING?).

That's the beauty of living a personal walk with Christ - it's personal!  

Your risk won't look like someone else's risk!

Not everyone has to go into the mission field to be considered risky.
Not everyone has to climb mountains or seek crazy adventures to take risks.

Sometimes taking risks is as simple as obeying something that God has told you to do, in order to grow your trust in Him.

Trusting God is risky business!

Not because God can't be trusted, but because He will stretch you and grow you and ask you to do things that are just outside what you're comfortable with and you basically have to give up control of the outcome.

But, the longer you walk with him and the more he shows himself totally faithful, the more you will learn that when he calls you to be courageous and take a risk, you know you can count on him to walk that path with you.

My encouragement to you today is to look around at your life and pray about what God is asking you to do.   Have you felt that tug to step out and do something different?  Have you been hesitating?

Pray and seek HIM, then be obedient to that still small voice that won't let up and do what He says to do.

The risk is worth the reward!

Blessings to you today as you step out in faith and take some risks!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Winter Was Here - But Spring is Coming!

The other day I was stopped in line at a traffic light, and I looked up and saw this tree.   It stood out against the back drop of buildings and cars and it begged to be caught in time, right then, as a photograph.  

This picture speaks to me, in the way that it's bare, has no fruit showing at the time, but it's patiently waiting for Spring.  Winter has taken it's toll, but a new season is coming and when it does, new life will come forth from these branches and the tree will take on a different shape, as it produces leaves.

This is so like our seasons of life!  Sometimes we go through barren times, when we feel as if we are bearing no fruit.   We feel empty and lifeless and insignificant.

But, then Spring comes and little by little, we feel growth and newness and productive and alive and life starts to make sense again.

The truth is, even in those barren months, things were happening below the surface.   Roots were still growing, digging deeper into the soil.  God was still at work - just on the inside, instead of out.

Our lives are like that.   Sometimes life strips us bare and all we have are those roots keeping us anchored to the source.    We have to dig deep, and hang on, drinking in the richness of what He's offering us, below the surface.  

If our roots aren't deep, if we aren't feasting on the nutrients of God, our fruit will be short lived, dull, lifeless, and eventually.....dead.

You see, no matter what we look like on the outside - it's the root system and the soil that holds the life.

Water your life today.   Feed your roots.   Find that source and dig deep.

Your Spring is coming and with it will come fullness and growth; green with life!

Because, even while you were waiting......even while you felt used up and barren......God was at work and He's ready to show off, through you.

Let Him bring you to life again.

Bear fruit and live.