Apr 22, 2015

The Neighbor Project--Working Out the Kinks

As I've mentioned a few times, I'm currently reading Amy Lively's How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird.

So, we're on a mission to make full use of this spring and summer and have our neighbors over for a meal and start getting to know them better.  But with our small house, it all has to be done outside in our big backyard.  Which means we need to figure out how this all is going to work in actual practice, rather than winging it, as I usually do.

So who better to test it out on than family?

So Corey built a table (modified from the plans of course, because we're us.) and we invited all of our extended family over and served a potluck taco dinner on the too tall, un-sanded table... that we had to assemble with super long 3" nails, because the battery on the screwdriver died and we had an hour before everyone got here.  (On a side note, I found out that one of my strengths is ACTIVATOR, which means, when I have an idea that I know we need to do, we're already automatically behind schedule and we've got to get started NOW and finish FAST because NOW!  Which makes my perfectionist husband, Mr. Measure, slightly CrAzY.)

We set the table with sturdy disposable plates, a mason wide mouth pint jar, and plastic silverware.  But I think I'm going to drive up to Ikea and get some inexpensive real plates and keep them for this occasion... not sure if we'll stick with plastic silverware or if Ikea will have a great deal on the real thing.

We made sun tea in half gallon mason jars and filled the Ikea corked glass bottles with water.  Everyone brought something for the taco feast, and we supplied the tortillas and seasoned taco meat.

I set the table, because I LOVE the pics of beautifully decorated tables before everyone sits down, but really, I don't know how to make that work in real life.  We had to go to the table, get the plate, then go back to get the meat, and the condiments and toppings, which were on the dinner table abd out of reach for some.  It was awkward and I was glad it was just family who are very forgiving.

So Corey and I talked afterward about what went well, what didn't, and what we'll try next time.  We think we'll try a stack of plates at a buffet table (read folding table covered with fabric) off to the side, and just have place settings with a glass jar, silverware and a napkin and maybe a butcher paper place mat.  We'll have 3-4 small dishes of condiments within easy reach and two tables... with a beverage station in the middle of them.

We'll do a couple more test runs, each time learning and tweaking, and let you know how it goes in preparation for the big day when we have the neighbors over.

Things to do:

-Buy these plates at Ikea

-Buy 4 more of these water bottles

-find or make a insulated ice bucket for beverage station (I'm thinking a smallish cooler because the real ice buckets are spendy!)

-figure out place settings... maybe a glass with a wide gift wrapping ribbon tied on it, that guests can write their name on, along with a placemat, napkin, and drinking jar and silverware.

-find white Christmas lights or similar and string them above the table.

-Plan an easy and inexpensive meal that I can prepare most of it ahead a time.  My friend suggested BBQ pulled pork or chicken, coleslaw and pasta salad. 

-always have plenty of ingredients for s'mores!

Apr 21, 2015

Book Review--Undone by Michele Cushatt

I first heard Michele on Michael Hyatt's podcast when she joined him as a cohost.  I listened to Michael introduce her and then hopped over to her website and browsed around a bit and fell in love with her openness and honesty and the struggles she has been through.

When I heard about her book, Undone--A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life, I ordered it to learn more about her and the struggles and victories (and defeats) she's had and just get to know her a bit better.

And guys, she's been through it all (and is still going through it, with yet another cancer diagnosis and treatment after the book was written).  This book is so genuine and so honest.  She writes about divorce, struggles through addictions, blended families, adoption, cancer, sickness, hard kids, and faith.
"This is the true test of parenting, when you find your child in a mess of their making and you have to decide whether you'll guard your heart and keep him at arm's length, or love him in the middle of it.  Not agree with him, condone his behavior, or rescue him.  Maybe not even like him.  But there is strength in the person who digs deep to both disagree and love with equal passion.  To make convictions known, maybe even say goodbye. But who, at the end of all the tough decisions, has the guts so say, "I love you.  And that won't ever change."

I think Michele will be the first to tell you that she doesn't have it all together, but the pain, problems, and questions are familiar to anyone who has wondered why life hits so hard sometimes... and seeing how she moved through them, sometimes with victory and sometimes crushing defeat.  But through it all I could see God's grace on her, and how He is developing her as a woman of tremendous impact for Him, who is very relatable to the rest of us.

If any of you are struggling through hard kids, divorce, re-marriage, cancer, grief, or any other pain, Michele's words will walk alongside you and help you remember where your hope comes from.

She's not perfect (which I love) and there are no cliche sayings about looking about the brighter side.  It's true, aching, painful growth through trial.  And it is beautiful.

Cancer, as heinous and evil as it was, had delivered an unexpected gift.  It taught us how to live.  Not in regret over all the ways we wished we could go back and do it over.  Not in mourning the countless unfinished, undone places that yet remained.  And not in fear of the unknown future we couldn't predict or control.  Cancer--in both its presence and absence--had taught me the immeasurable value of today. 

I received this book as part of a blogger review program.  The review is honest and my own.

Apr 20, 2015

Being Brave as an Introvert--The Neighbor Project

On my heart this week is this book.

I finally got it in the mail and read through half of it this weekend.  Let me just say, Amy is the Real Deal.  She is so honest and open in her book that she is already my friend.  And so far, she has completely nailed me on each of my excuses, but in a very kind and encouraging way.  If you can smack someone up alongside the head in a kind way, Amy figured out how to.

I'm a total introvert and for 12 years I have been perfectly content to just stay in my house, wave at my neighbors and smile and keep going.  And I still want to be that way... but I can't.  I feel led, or convicted, or however you want to word it, that right now is the time to start reaching out to my neighbors.

Will it be hard? YES! I don't want to be outside of where I am cozy and comfy with coffee and books and my quiet backyard.

Will it be awkward?  YES!  For 12 years I've done nothing and now all the sudden I'm knocking on doors offering to feed my neighbors?

Will it be worth it?  I mean, what if it is just weird and strange and nothing happens... but then, what if something does?

What am I hoping happens?  I'm hoping to start forming relationships.  I want to know more about the family on the corner where all the girls wear skirts.  Or the Tibetan Monk (I think that's what he is... he always wears an orange toga and shaves his head and has a huge group of people that come over once a month to learn from him).  I'd also like to know our over-the-fence neighbors and that's scary because the backyard over the fence people put up a solid fence on their side and have called the police on my teens for shooting a BB gun into a hay target (pretty sure they won't be coming).  But there's also the side yard neighbor, the single, older, Chinese lady on the right and the older couple on the left who travel to Arizona for the winter every year.  I know their names, but that's about it.  And what if... guys, what if?!?

So, I talked to my husband, who is also very hesitant and kind of reluctant to do this, but he agreed to try it ONCE and if it's awful, we'll revert to our hermit state and recover.  AND, he agreed to build two huge 8 foot long farm house tables.  We cut, sanded and nailed this beast together and got to do a practice run with family this weekend!  I'll have a post up later this week with all we learned from the trial.

Farmhouse table, modified from Ana-White.com and an old bench we had that was too short, so Corey added landing skids (like on a helicopter) and it works great, and yes, we're dorks.  Today they will be painted Seahawks blue!

And, I just wanted to let you guys know where I'm struggling, what I'm having a hard time with, and also that I think if I can push through this hard place, the results on the other side will be amazing.  (And if they're not, I'll write Amy and tell her she was WRONG, that loving your neighbors IS weird !)  But I have a feeling it's going to be awesome.  And since this blog is all about Being Brave Anyway, I guess I have to do something brave once in a while too, right?

P.S.  I'm not getting paid or anything for this book.  I got a copy of it, agreed to read it, and honestly tell you what I think of it.  And even though I'm only half way through, I can honestly say, click the link and buy the book.  It comes out on Thursday this week.  Even if you NEVER EVER EVER want to share with your neighbors, do it anyway.  Really.  Click here.  Order.  You, me, Amy, and Jesus could change someone's life forever.

Apr 11, 2015

Things to Share--What I've Been Dreaming About

So I'm in a group to review a new book coming out soon called How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird by Amy Lively.  You will definitely hear more about it when I get it in my hands.  I joined Amy's launch group because I've been convicted about how long we've lived here (12 years!) and how few of our neighbors we know.  Really, it's pathetic.  I'm so comfortable just being me, in my house, and not doing much else.

Like I said, I haven't even gotten Amy's book yet, but it must be rolling around in my head already because I was wide awake this morning with PLANS and IDEAS and WISHES.  See, when it's planned, and ready, and I'm recharged (MAJOR introvert here) I really enjoy having people over.  Amy's upcoming book has got me thinking that I cannot continue to be a hermit forever if I'm going to share the love of Jesus with people around me, right?

So I woke up with ideas... that I'm sure Corey will love (once we all fully recover from the flu--VPM did NOT work this time, ugh).  You see, the reality of it is, we live in a teeny tiny 1970's ranch house.  Just a hair over 1000 square feet .  That makes big gatherings really, really crowded and tricky.   BUT, we have a HUGE backyard.  And a bonus is it was professionally landscaped by the original owners so it's pretty nice when we keep it up (and very weedy if I don't stay on it!).

Anyway, back to what woke me up.

photo from The Neighbor's Table Facebook page

I want to do a Neighbor's Table in our backyard.  For friends, church members, family, and especially NEIGHBORS.  Actually, I don't want to, but I do want to... I'm torn.  I have all these worries, fears, doubts and what if's.  But I also have this overwhelming desire to make the most of the time we have, the neighbors, friends, and family we have and DO something memorable to share our common love of Christ, or introduce others to Him.  Even more than the "don't want to's" and fears bouncing around in my head.

I've been lurking around the edges of the idea for months now.  I first heard about The Neighbor's Table from Jon Acuff, he briefly mentioned attending one that sounded like a blast.  And then I found their facebook page and fell in love with the huge table, smiling faces, white twinkling lights.  It just looks amazing.

But what about a table big enough?

Enter Ana White.  We've made a few of her things before and they always work and are long lasting and super sturdy.  Corey made a farmhouse bench years ago and it is still the most used piece of furniture in our dining room. So I searched a few of her tables and there are a ton of brag posts of great modifications done to make them extra big.  We could totally do this! (I'd want to add tall posts or bars or something up from each corner of the table so we could string lights across the top, to light it up all night if we need to!)

Then I saw a post about a curved bench to go around the firepit we made years ago and, you know, if we're dreaming, let's dream big!

And while Corey and I are building these items, I'd have the boys get to work on making a giant jenga set and a giant checkers set, or just cut some wood rounds and paint a checkerboard on our current patio.  My boys even want to invite friends over to help build the game pieces.  A party for a party.

So, something like this is going to happen this summer.  It may not be as elaborate as I'd like, but there will be a big table, lights, mason jars to drink out of, and a giant jenga set.  Then we'll go from there.

So now, here's your challenge. How can you work around your current restrictions (like our tiny house, and introvertedness) to make a difference in the lives of those around you?

Apr 9, 2015

Book Review--The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Let's talk about this book for a bit today, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I received it from the publisher to review, and was super excited to read it for a few reasons.  One was because it is from a Japanese decluttering super star (and I love all things Japanese) and the second reason is because it's about organizing and decluttering and supposed to be amazing.

It's a cute little hardback book and reads really fast but she really does have some points here that I had never thought of.  Plus, no one that she has worked with has ever gone back to disorganized and cluttered... which kind of floored me.

Okay, so with that in mind, I did my typical pre-read of this book, reading the front, the back and the table of contents and then skimmed the book.

After that, I did my complete read through, stopping quite a few times to try out some of her ideas.  I had to take into account that this was written by a Japanese non-Christian, so a lot of her habits seemed really weird to me.  Like thanking your socks each day for covering your feet, or bowing down in the middle of your house, thanking your house for providing your shelter for the day.  But other than that, there was a lot of good in here.

I think the biggest eye-opener for me was the way she decluttered.  She starts with categories, not rooms, and the first category is clothes.  She suggests that you get ALL your clothes out of EVERY place they are stored.  Closet, drawers, hall closet, dryer, storage for off-season clothes... everywhere... and lay them out so you can see them all (on your floor or bed or entire room).  Then she says to pick up each item and ask if you LOVE it or wear it.  If you don't love it, off it goes.  Go through each item this way.

She suggests the same for books (which hurts my heart! I want ALL my books!), but it works!  I emptied my bookshelf (didn't do ALL the books in the house, as I was still experimenting here) and I picked up each one.  It's funny because there were a lot of books that I had read and wouldn't re-read or refer to again that I got rid of!  She says that if you leave them on the shelf, your eye almost skims over them and ignores them, but if you have them all out, and touch each one, you really see it and think about it.  It definitely was true for me!

Book Thoughts:

Did I like the book?  Yes.  I liked the little insights into Japanese culture a lot, and she truly did have some life-changing ideas in here.

Would I recommend it to a friend? Yes!  In fact, I already have!

Is it worth the time sacrifice to read?  Yes, especially if you struggle with clutter.  It's such a short little book, and as I'm always looking for one good sentence or thought, it definitely has those, so it's worth it.  Plus, like I said the inside look at Japanese life was fun too!

Apr 7, 2015

How To Stay Healthy When Your Whole Entire Family is Sick

Two of my boys woke up with an ugly vomiting virus this morning and both raced to the toilet right after one another.  (One missed... which means I clean it up, and then feel sick... but is it sick from me really having the virus or sick from cleaning up sick?) 

Vomit time always moves me quickly into Vomit Preparation Mode.  This is a crucial part of our family life when it occurs, so I thought you might want to see how this all works.

V.P.M. for Beginners

1.  Bleach!  It's your friend! Bleach everything in the bathroom.  Scrub the toilet, the floor, the walls, the sink, handles, doorknobs, everything.  Then wipe with disinfecting wipes.  Be sure to wash your hands for twenty minutes finishing with a good slosh of hand sanitizer.  This step is crucial only because if you do get sick, you'll get to throw up in a bleach smelling toilet... because if you have boys, you don't want your face there without bleach first. Ever.

You now have roughly 4 to 12 hours before you get sick.  Don't waste time yet.

(I recommend reading the rest of the post, while letting the video below play.  It adds a sense of ADVENTURE! EXCITEMENT! URGENCY!)

2.  Drive to the nearest grocery store and stock up on sick food:  Chicken noodle soup, sprite or 7up, saltines, and apple juice.  Be sure to plan something for lunch or dinner that tastes the same coming back up as it does going down.  Good options:  Cream of wheat, apple juice, toast, oatmeal, maybe eggs--if you're brave.  For the next 12-24 hours avoid at all costs chili, pizza, tomato based products or anything with strong flavor.  Those items are cruel and unforgiving.  Wash and disinfect your hands again and convince yourself that gnawing feeling in your stomach is just sympathy pain.

You now have about 2-10 hours before getting sick.  Still need to keep moving. 

3. Bleach the entire bathroom floor (and depending on where your kids missed the toilet--steam clean the carpets) Keep a Costco sized pack of sanitizing wipes next to the bathroom sink, toilet, bathroom door, living room, dining room, and kitchen.  Wipe something every time you walk past.

Remove any towels that your sickies might wipe their faces on.  Put paper towels and paper cups in the bathroom.  Wipe everything again with disinfecting wipes.  Wash your hands again while singing the ABC song.

Down to 1-9 hours before zero hour. Try not to think back to every straw or cup you've shared in the last 24-48 hours with your now sick child.  Or every kiss or touch or hand hold.  You're fine.  Just fine.

3.  If you're still healthy and happen to be behind on laundry, because who isn't, throw in a load of towels and some bleach for good measure.  You'll need lots of those.  Put one under the head of every sick person and in a 3 foot radius around them, or line the entire bedroom/living room with layers of them...and down the hall to the bathroom.  Disinfect all doorknobs and light switches.  Wash your hands again and gloop on the sanitizer.  You're not sick.  It's just in your head.  You're doing excellent! (take a handful of vitamin C and maybe a multi-vitamin... and if you have them, eat an orange while gulping airborne.)

Down to getting sick at any time or up to 8 hours from now... or not, because you just took VITAMINS! Maybe eat some blueberries too!  Antioxidants and all that.

4. Check on your sick kid(s).  Are they able to hold down any 7up or apple juice yet? Give them about a tablespoon's worth and wait.  Armed with a bucket.  Work on your ninja reflexes while applying hand sanitizer.  Maybe take a shower at this point, or at least wash up to your elbows.

5.  This next step is crucial, so if you are still not sick, sit up and pay attention to this one.  Have you ever gotten sick after eating something? And after you throw it up you feel sick every time you smell it again?  Ya.  So here's the deal.  Eat something that you love, but know is really bad for you.  My sister and I thought of this quite a while ago and it works!  If you're addicted to McDonald's fries, go and get some and hork those fries down.... anything that you know you need to quit eating and just can't seem to.  Donughts?  Pizza?

This works in two ways.  One, if you get sick, you'll never want to eat them again and you win!  Two, if you don't, hey it was a tasty treat and you tried, right?

At this point you're a ticking time bomb, it's time to hunker down.

6.  It's important to figure out what TV show you're going to watch an entire season of while flat on the couch.  I don't recommend any cooking shows... The Pioneer Woman and the flu DO NOT MIX.  A good option is any trilogy or set of movies you have.  Last time we did a Harry Potterthon.  Lord of the Rings is good too, less food scenes in LotR, but more blood.  It's kind of a wash either way.  Stack the DVDs near the player, locate all necessary remotes (and disinfect them) and grab a couple books that you've meant to read for the last year or so and some pillows and throw blankets, and your cell phone, because if you're sick on the couch, you'll need plenty of posts to social media.

7.  Set up your station with the DVDs, remotes, books, a throw up bucket or bowl, towels, tissues, and disinfecting wipes.  If your sick kids are in the living room, plan on a lot of together time with a lot of bleach and Lysol fragrance added to your day.  Make a note to look into the essential oils everyone but you seems to know a lot about.  And wonder if it really does work to slice an onion in half and set them randomly through the house.

But, whatever.  You're fine.  Excellent, in fact.  Moms can't get sick, you have immunity!

Apr 6, 2015

Things to share for the week

I LOVE this prayer from Time Warp Wife
 I, too, pray regularly for each of my boys' future wives.

After reading and being SO INSPIRED by The Kitchen Counter Cooking School I'm changing how I cook.  No more MSG laden Cream of Mushroom soup or canned spaghetti or enchilada sauces (yup, all of them have MSG in them not to mention other things I can't pronounce), I'm looking up recipes of things I can make from scratch that are easy to store or freeze, starting with Cream of Something soup.

Three ways to do cream of mushroom soup:

or a quick microwave/blender version

or a powdered version you just add water to

All of them look interesting.  I'm going to try all three and let you know what I think.  Let me know if you try them too!

Also, I dehydrated veggies this weekend in the middle of prepping a bunch of food for this week!

Mushrooms and carrots will be rehydrated for soups, stews, etc.  Just pour boiling water over and let soak for a minute or two.  Very easy and I feel so homestead-y and productive!  (The storage jars they are in are still on my counter because I like looking at them.)
And, this weekend the awkward happened.  It was time.  I had to go to the MALL *shudder* and get fitted PROPERLY for a new bra.  I HATE the thought of it, but the reality was that it was really almost pleasant, very professional, and completely worth it.
Ladies, if you have never been professionally fitted for a bra, DO IT SOONEST.  If you are big or small, or somewhere in the middle, do it.  It makes ALL the difference.  I went to Victoria's Secret (I know, I know...) but they are THE BEST at fitting, and their bras are AMAZING and I didn't see even one diamond encrusted one.  I was wearing the wrong size and style for years.  It makes such a difference.  Ya, there's a touch of awkward, but really, it is only for a second because they are so professional, and the employees who work with you come in all sizes too, they are not the sassy models that you think of when you think VS.  I totally recommend it.  Really.  And I'm not a bra or mall girl.

Apr 2, 2015

Homeschool (and life) sanity saver... Tuesday Tea Time

A couple years ago, we started the tradition of Sunday Tea, where we'd eat finger foods and drink tea for Sunday dinner.  We did that through the fall and winters, and changed to Sunday BBQ in the warmer times.  That's when the boys first started liking tea.  We'd serve it hot with lots of milk but now they just drink it straight up.

But now almost once a week, the punks and I have tea time.  It started as a trial, and idea suggested by a blogger and homeschool writing curriculum author, Julie from Brave Writer.

At Julie's suggestion, we started doing a mid-day tea on Tuesdays.  Tuesdays were the days we were home all day, and around here, for some reason, Tuesdays are also the days that are usually the hardest.  A friend and I have a hashtag for Tuesdays, #suckyTuesday.    So I started making Tuesday Tea a priority, to give us something to look forward to on those long Tuesdays. We either do it at 10am or at 3pm, depending on how crazy I'm getting that day.  If we need an early break, we'll take an early break.

As Julie suggests, we usually read poetry aloud, or look at art books and discuss.  At first the boys almost mocked the art/poetry part of the deal, but they really enjoy it now. I usually gather a bunch of picture books from the kids section for art and random poetry (Shel Silverstein!) and we all just find one that we like and read it or show it to everyone.  It's very low key, and doesn't take longer of 15 min or so to pick up all our moods.

When we realized this was going to be a THING, I searched for a fancy teapot and found a set on Walmart.com.  This one was $20 and came with the caddy!  The teacups are tiny, but fun. And for $20 bucks, it is pretty high quality (though small...we usually fill the teapot twice, but no one seems to mind).  

Someday I'm hoping to find a fancy-schmancy old fashioned silver tea set at an estate sale or on Craigslist, then we'll be pinky-out formal for sure!

Oh, and my youngest son learned to make light as air scones to accompany our teas.  Can't beat that!

Ryan's Tea Time Scones
(recipe originally from My Father's World Exploration to 1850 curriculum)

Preheat oven to 425.

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix together in a big bowl.  Then cut in

5 Tbs COLD butter

until it resembles coarse crumbs.  In a smaller bowl, mix

1 egg
1/2 cup cream

and add to flour/butter mixture.  Mix until just mixed, trying to work the dough as little as possible.  Pat into a thick circle (scones will rise quite a bit while baking) and cut into 8 wedges.  Sprinkle sugar on top if desired.  Place wedges (with space between each one) on baking sheet and bake for 15 min or until golden.

Serve hot with whip cream and jam.

Apr 1, 2015

New items from Penny Bennett Totes!

Penny Bennett is a sponsor of the blog and I want to let you know of some of the cool items she has for sale in her etsy store.

I don't have any sponsors on the blog that I don't absolutely believe in, and all of Penny's items are amazing.  The construction of all of her handmade totes are perfection. 

Have you noticed that the patterns match up exactly on the pockets and totes? That isn't something that happens by accident.

I've had my tote for well over a year now, and the handles are just as sturdy as when I bought it and the whole bag looks just as good as the day I received it all wrapped up in tissue with a sweet card.

But in addition to her bags, she also makes other fun and high quality items like:

zippered clutches

Bible clutches that fold over and tuck in to protect your Bible, plus they are super classy looking!

or writing clutches, the perfect size for your pens and pencils

If you didn't catch the first post about Penny, please take a look at how she makes the bags and runs the business.  Or just pop over to her etsy shop (click below or on the sidebar) and look at the dozens of items she has available to purchase.

They are definitely worth the investment!

Penny Bennett Totes

Mar 31, 2015

Books for April

Last month I finished 7 books (not all were started last month) and made good progress on the ones I didn't finish.

April's books include:
Book 3 of the Chronicles of Narnia.  So far my boys have said they LOVE this one.  I'm really enjoying it too, and doing the voices is always a lot of fun for me (though the boys give me sideways looks on some of them).

The Uncle Eric books on economy came recommended to me as a quick and easy read on economics.  Since my older boys will be studying this next year I picked up these used copies at our favorite homeschool bookstore, Exodus Books.

Mary Jones and her Bible is part of the recommended reading for my youngest son as a read-aloud book for our curriculum this year.  Right now, a few chapters into the book, I'm a little bitter about it because Mary is so hungry to learn how to read so she can read a Bible... that they can't afford or have access to.  It is hard to read to a bunch of boys who act like they could care less about learning and that it is more a form of torture than something they would actually strive for.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School.  This book, oh my gosh.  SO SO GOOD.  I picked it up from a recommendation someone made on Facebook about what cookbooks changed their lives.  I requested it from the library thinking it was simply a cookbook.  But actually it's documenting an experiment done by a chef who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu and it reads like a novel.  It is so warm and cozy and encouraging.  It is totally changing the way I think about cooking and am just about ready to throw out every pre-packaged soup, sauce, and box.  It is definitely going to change what our menu and meals look like (as soon as I finish out these 2 weeks I've already shopped for).  She makes fresh, simple, delicious food seem easy and attainable... and if 9 other women who couldn't cook at all can do it, so can I.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Do not miss this book!

The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry.  By the same author as above, about her time at Le Cordon Bleu.  Excited to start it after I finish the last few chapters of the one above.

You're Loved No Matter What.  A blogger review book.  I've read another book by Holly Gerth and she is very authentic and encouraging.  Can't wait to jump into this one!

Undone.  I follow Michelle Cushatt on her blog ever since I heard her on Michael Hyatt's podcast.  She is an amazing woman who has struggled beautifully through cancer and huge life changes.  She is so genuine and real that I feel I know her.  This book is going to be amazing.  Another blogger review book.

Love Does.  I hear so many good things about this book but have yet to read it.  April is the month!

Still working on Overcoming Sin and Temptation.  This book has so many underlines and highlights and margin notes, I'm sure it will take all year to finish.  It's so full of thought provoking passages that I'm really enjoying taking my time.  I'm going at about a chapter a week pace and loving it, while it kills and convicts me.

Let me know if you have any amazing books you are reading! I'm always looking to add more to my list!

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Mar 30, 2015

Things to share--Quick breakfast ideas

Breakfasts around here have changed a lot over the years.  Last summer, I had the boys each be responsible to purchase and make and clean up a meal once a week.  It was great, but with school back in session, it just wasn't working. Especially for those days they had procrastinated all day and weren't even close to done at dinner time.

So for the school year, I changed the plan to once a week having them make a breakfast for everyone, and I would clean up the mess (they still clean up after dinner).  While it's not QUITE as good as the dinner plan, it's still keeping them in the kitchen and expanding what they can cook.

I still cook a few mornings a week, but I do it by cooking on the weekend and then reheating.  Makes my breakfast days so so much quicker!  Here are some of my go-to recipes for quick breakfasts.

My favorites to freeze for the boys:
I'll usually pick just one or two of these to make ahead.  I'll do it on my Meal Prep Saturday Mornings and make a bunch, cool, then freeze in ziploc bags.

French Toast--just make as usual, cool, and bag up.  Each slice can be heated in the microwave or toaster.

Pancakes/waffles--just like the French toast, freeze and toast.

Muffins and scones--Just make up the recipe of either and freeze before baking. Freeze the muffin batter in a gallon ziploc bag, the scones I pat into the shape, cut into wedges and freeze in wax paper or a ziploc bag.

Breakfast burritos--I scramble eggs, dice bacon, sausage, or ham (or go meatless), add shredded cheese, roll, and freeze.  For the grown-up version, I love to add sauteed onions, peppers, spinach, or whatever else sounds good.  Also they are TO DIE FOR with a few dashes of Penzy's Adobo Seasoning.  AMAZING.

McMom's--I like to make super easy and yummy McMuffins at home.  Great to grab and go and add more to them after heating if you like (avocado, Adobo, tomatoes, etc.)  The Yummy Life has it all laid out for you here.

My favorites to make for Corey and me:

Smoothies--I like to bag frozen fruits in a sandwich bag and keep in the door of the freezer for quick smoothies.  BUT, I think this week I'm going to try this version from the yummy life.

Refrigerator Oat Porridge--In the summer we love these refrigerator oats.  It's almost time!

Granola--We love this with Greek Yogurt.

I LOVE fitnessblender.com and we all do their workouts throughout the week.  I loved this blog post they did on meal prep.

If you have any great recipes you love, be sure to share in the comments!

Mar 24, 2015

How do you take every thought captive?

This is an excerpt from the upcoming Bible study for 2 Corinthians.  It is a question that I've often pondered and wondered what, exactly, taking thoughts captive would look like in action.

As I was studying this section in scripture, and reading books on discipline (OUCH), I have discovered a few truths that are helping me.

How do we do it?  How do we REALLY take every though captive to the obedience of Christ? (2 Corinthians 10:5)