"The people living in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned."

Matthew 4:16



five of my most favorite people

Where did November go? Can it really be December already?

We've been away for awhile--a very long while, in fact.

We left home October 22 and returned just this week.

Here's what we've been up to:

A 17 hour drive down to Northern California (my husband drove straight through!)
A week spent here in Grass Valley
A visit with family in Los Angeles
A shopping day at the American Girl Store
A trip to Disneyland
A camping trip in the Grand Canyon
A visit with family in Mesa, Arizona
A visit with family in Tucson, Arizona
A beautiful drive up the California Coast on Highway 1--we saw the sun set as we drove!
A visit with family in the Bay Area
A tour of the Jelly Belly Factory
A visit with family in Northern California where we celebrated my girls' 5th birthday, Thanksgiving and my husband's birthday
A chance to hear my big brother preach at his church
A visit with family in Portland, Oregon
A crazy drive home in the snow--with no chains and no snow tires (they were back home, of course)

Whew! Now back to reality.

I've been scurrying about trying to organize my life.

Tonight as I prepared dinner, I put on my apron for the first time since I've been home and as I tied its strings, I sighed and felt a huge weight of stress lift.
It's a little piece of home that brought comfort right away.



Such a beautiful month, October!

Up here in the Northwest, just about now, our gardens are in full-bloom.

Yes, we really do have to wait this long.

But all around town there are beautiful signs of fall emerging, too.

Just yesterday, this little pumpkin asked to go home with me. :)

I said, "Yes," of course.

Another thing I love about October is making pumpkin everything--Play-doh, pizzas, soup, crafts, and chili.

Last night we had these waffles for dinner.


They were excellent with syrup, a dollop or fresh whipped cream and chopped pecans sprinkled on top.

It was like fall on a plate.

And if I'm missing summer,

I have only to go sit on the little bench in my garden

for this spectacular view.


from my garden

"Earth laughs in flowers."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson


lil' makeover

I don't sew very often because the only good spot for my sewing machine is on our kitchen table.

If ever I need to work on a project, it needs to be put away before meal times and depending on the project, that's not always convenient.

This afternoon I reclaimed a section of the basement and cleared off a table that held boxes and piles of random things.

It felt good to clean up this area!

It still looks very basement-ish with the unpainted wall,
the pipes and the exposed ductwork,

but I already love being in this space.


eleven years

We celebrated our 11th anniversary yesterday
with dinner in the backyard
after tucking the kids into bed for the night.

It's the little things, year after year that make life so sweet.
This year I'll remember...

a pretty table for 2

flowers from the garden

a yummy dinner

bluegrass music,
bare feet and candlelight
on a breezy, summer evening.


the farm chicks show

Another great year at The Farm Chicks Show! I felt like I was better prepared this year, knowing what to expect when I walked through the door. Last year I was completely overwhelmed by all of the beautiful displays and the amount of crafty goodness! This year, my friend and I decided that we would just take it all in, not get stressed out and know that we would leave there with the things God would want us to have to enjoy in our homes. That took a huge weight off my mind. Last year I felt like I was in a race with the other shoppers to see who could find all the cutest stuff first.

This year I went at a much slower pace and spent lots of time browsing in the booths. The vendors put lots of time and effort into planning their booths. Many were works of art! This year I was able to appreciate the beauty of the booths themselves, not just the items for sale inside of them.

Here are the things I purchased this year...

Last year I was on the look-out for a red tray that I could convert into a magnet board for my kitchen. I found these two polka dot t.v. trays at this friend's booth, along with these old milk bottle cap magnets. My husband is going to hang both of them on the wall next to our computer in the kitchen. I can't wait!

I also found these adorable vintage paper dolls. I plan to make magnets with them.

These vintage flashcards were too cute to pass up!

I also found this "Great Grandma necklace." Made of plastic beads, it reminds me of something from my Great Grandma's jewelry box.

Here's a sweet surprise from this friend...she knew I loved this pillow and bought it for me when I was wasn't watching. My girls have been playing with it all weekend.

And of course I was completely giddy when Serena said hello to me!!! I guess she remembered me from last year's cookbook signing--probably because I made a fool of myself with my expert-giddiness. :)


life around these parts

Last night we enjoyed our first s'mores of the season

complete with a bit of singing 'round the fire.

Our strawberry patch is looking quite promising!

It looks like we're ready for June around here.

And just this morning, one our painted ladies emerged from her chrysalis.

The kids are watching intently to see the amazing changes that are taking place within our live butterfly garden.


dinner with friends

I just found this picture and realized that I meant to post it months ago!

A few months ago, our family hosted an Italian dinner night with dear friends.

Each of us contributed something...

antipasto salad

bread sticks


tiramisu (my ultimate weakness)

sparkling Italian soda

and drippy candles.


stuffed french toast

This recipe for stuffed French toast (sent to me by the same friend who makes yummy pound cake) is oh-so-good!

I made up several little French toast "sandwiches," put them in the freezer over night, and then baked them on a well-buttered cookie sheet for about 30 minutes the next day.


a happy little party

Several months ago, I spotted tissue paper pom-pom kits in the craft section at Wal-Mart.

I wanted to make a few to decorate for a birthday party, but our Wal-Mart has scaled down its craft section and, sadly, they were all gone.

I searched online and found these super easy instructions to make them.

Seeing them suspended from my kitchen ceiling still makes me happy!

This also makes me happy...

A dear friend brought all of the ingredients to make yummy strawberry trifle.

The pound cake was made from scratch.

And it was real pound cake--she used a whole pound of butter. :)


des moines and back

white chocolate raspberry, mint chocolate and German chocolate cheesecake bites

Last month I was able to fly out to Des Moines, Iowa, to visit a friend from college.

Eating, shopping, napping, talking with an old friend--what could be better?

One day we stopped by her cousin's fabulous restaurant called flarah's.

I enjoyed quiche and a wonderful chocolate blueberry salad for lunch--it was amazing!

If you're ever in the Des Moines area you must stop by for a delicious bite to eat.


hidden in my heart

I've been enjoying this beautiful lullaby CD.

I've learned that mommies need lullabies just as much as our babies do.

And lullabies aren't just for bedtime...

Sometimes my heart needs a good calming at the kitchen sink,

or in the schoolroom,

or beside the bathtub as I'm trying in vain to bathe squirmy children.

If I could, I'd purchase a copy for each of my friends!


easter blessings

Happy Easter!
Our family enjoyed a blessed day.
Amid the excitement of tearing open Easter baskets
and searching for eggs in the backyard,
I'm going to treasure this sweet prayer offered at bedtime by my little one in pink jammies, hands folded...

"Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross and forgiving me"

I love that she didn't miss Him today among all of the eggs and the candy.
It makes me smile.

"Christ is risen
and my soul knows
sweet salvation!"


excuses. excuses.

It seems lots of us are apologizing for our lack of blogging lately.
Is it the change in the weather?
Here's one of my excuses, and I promise it's a good one!

I was able to spend last week in Oklahoma visiting my little sister and her sweet-as-can-be, brand new baby boy.

I had the hardest time saying goodbye.
I found myself swaying back and forth in the airport as I waited to board my flight.

Probably from doing lots of this all week...

And then I came home to this...

O.k., make that two good excuses!


hints of spring

I'm not sure what happened, but we've had the most uneventful winter this year.

Little green shoots are already poking their heads up all around the yard.

And recently I've smelled that hint of spring in the air.

Thoughts of spring now occupy my mind--kids playing out back, Easter dresses, working in the garden, and Cadbury Mini Eggs (yum!).


a bit of advice

"Mothers from miles around worried about Zuckerman's swing. They feared some child would fall off. But no child ever did. Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will."

--E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

Isn't that the truth?

Sometimes good parenting advice pops up where I least expected it--

such a good reminder to let my kids be kids.