Friday, August 31, 2007

This is a picture of Danny Seo's backporch (see his website, Simply Green, on my blogroll). I just love it...simple and cozy. I think it would be pretty easy to recreate this look on my back porch. It runs the whole length of the back of our house and is screened in. It is one of the best features of our house. It overlooks the back yard, which is very wooded and is an official wildlife habitat, whatever that means. So there are often deer and other woodland creatures in the backyard. I want the porch to be really inviting by the time the weather cools off. Right now it is very underutilized. Once I have it fixed up, it will be a great place to sit and watch the boys play on their new playset (they are getting a wooden playset as a joint present for their birthdays in October). I can't wait for the cooler fall weather. It is my favorite time of year!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


...It should be as cute as this one!
Maybe I should just paint my toyota sienna a funky color and put stickers all over it. Somehow, I don't think the effect would be the same!

I realized the other day that I need to get a jump start on Christmas planning. Some of you, like my mother, probably shop for Christmas year around. I am not that organized. I always have good intentions but they sort of fall flat. I want to get started early this year for a couple of reasons
-To make it less financially burdensome...much easier to enjoy Christmas if you aren't broke in December!
-To have the time to thoughtfully plan out what to give each person on my list
-To allow time to make things by hand
-To have the opportunity to purchase things when they go on sale, or as I find them in non-retail environments.

I would like to do a lot of my shopping on etsy this year. There are so many lovely things on there, handmade by self supporting artisans, and I really want to support that. Besides, who wouldn't want some wonderful handmade goats milk soap, a hand knitted sweater, a set of embroidered napkins? One year I gave all my friends homemade vanilla extract in cork topped glass bottles. I don't know if they liked it or not...I hope so...and I really enjoyed making and giving them.

I want to plan out my gift list, as well as food I want to make and have around for the holidays, what traditions I would like to introduce this year, what social obligations we will keep and which we will bow out of to enjoy family time at home. I feel that if I plan these things out now, it will be much easier to enjoy the holidays rather than making decisions about these things as we go along. Plus, we will be taking our family vacation in November, and I would love to have enough of the shopping/making/preparing done that we could spend our evenings wrapping gifts, writing out Christmas cards, sewing, etc.

I would also like to have a box or basket by the door, with sweetly wrapped little gifts to send home with friends and family that drop by during the holidays. I am not sure yet what this will be. Divinity? Sourdough bread? Fudge? Soap?
I need to think of something that will be universally enjoyed by anyone that comes it should probably be some food item. Any ideas?

Today marks the end of the first week of my experiment. As much as I would like to gloss over where I have failed, I am going to ignore the urge and tell you exactly what went right...and what went wrong. First up, we ate at Chick.Fil.A twice this week. It is a chain, yes...but I don't feel completely guilty eating here, for a number of reasons.
1. It is operated by a local family, and they receive a percentage of the sales.
2. It is a Christian company
3. It is a great place to find healthier options than McDonald's or other fast food restaurants
4. Gosh, darn it, I just like to go there!
Hmmm. Maybe I will do better next week. In better news though, other than my aforementioned mishaps, and the bagged salad we had to buy sunday night, I have not purchased ANYTHING 1. New 2. From a chain store 3. and most especially, from Wal.Mart. I have been much more thrifty this week, thinking more often about how to reuse things I already have, finding different solutions to problems, rather than heading to the store for a quick fix, cooking from scratch, etc. It feels really good.

Today, I went to the mall to return some things that have been riding around in my car for months. I was given a store credit at both places I went. After several minutes of searching, all the while remembering my desire to simplify my life, I couldn't find one thing that I wanted to bring home. As I am staying home more, simplifying my life, etc. I am finding that, very quickly, my actions are coming in line with my values. I was given the opportunity to spend today and buy and found that I lacked the desire. I am very glad because I worried that I would feel "deprived" by my own rather strict parameters. I am happy to find it is quite the opposite. I am liberated by a lack of desire for "things". It felt really good to walk into a store, and not immediately have internal battles of desire versus need.
...That being said, I don't think I am ready to brave Target yet. :)

All in all, I would say that my first week was a success. Bring on week two!

As an aside, I routinely spend about $400 a month, or $100 a week, on groceries. This includes all cleaning supplies, diapers and wipes for two children, all groceries and anything else you can buy at a super wal.mart (light bulbs, air filters, spray paint, shampoo, toothpaste, medicines, etc.). I don't think that is very seems like a lot for a family of five (unless the boys were all teenagers), especially since we eat a lot of deer meat, which is free. Anyway, I wanted to document how much I spend every week during the experiment, to see which shopping method is most cost effective and if I really save as much as I think I do by shopping at Wal.Mart. This week I spent $12.50 at the produce stand, and $46.10 at the discount foods store (I found out that was the real name of the dented can store!) for a grand total of $58.60. That is a huge savings, but since I started out with a stocked pantry, I am not going to get overly excited yet. It will be interesting to see though! I am tracking my spending by week on the left hand side of my blog. I will update it there each week.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


This afternoon I went to what we call "the dented can store". I am sure it has a real name, but I don't know what it is. I wasn't really sure what to expect but I was out of things such as cereal, crackers, etc. and couldn't think of anywhere else that might have these kinds of things, other than our local grocery stores, which are all large chain companies. I was pleasantly surprised by the dented can store. It DID have a lot of dented cans...and it had a lot of other stuff too, for really cheap. Here is what I walked out with.

-1 roll of kraft paper (for wrapping gifts)
-1 bag of Pampers Diapers, pack of 33
-3 Boxes of cereal (life and cheerios)
-3 boxes of taco and fajita dinner kits
-2 cake mixes*
-1 cookie mix*
-1 box of birthday candles (two birthday boys in October!)
-1 jar of spaghetti sauce
-1 large can of chickpeas (to make hummus)
-1 can of sweetened condensed milk (to make ice cream)
-1 gallon of milk
-1 can of deviled ham (I know, gross...but I ate it as a kid)
-1 package of corn on the cob holders
-1 large can of tomato soup w/ basil
-1 package of organic whole wheat flour
-1 box of organic fruit leathers
-1 box of Lipton noodle soup (all matt will eat when he is sick)
-1 box of Lansinoh reusable nursing pads (I am really excited about these. I usually pay $8 a box for disposable. These were $2.50. Cheap and enviromentally friendly!)
-4 small bags of animal cookies
-3 containers of cake sprinkles*
-3 tubes of icing*
-1package of cupcake cups (again, thinking about those Oct. birthdays)
-2 large bars of Ghirardelli chocolate
-48 foil star and heart shaped baking tins*

*My little sister, Darcie wil be nine on Sunday. For her present, I am putting together a baking box. This was one of my all time favorite gifts as a kid.

I paid $46.10 for all of it. I easily saved at least $20. I had only been here one time before. They had lot of more items than I had remembered and I will definitely be coming here again. There are more benefits to this experiment than I had anticipated. So far, it isn't costing me more money to shop in places other than is just requiring that I shop a little more creatively. As a result, I am becoming aware of what is available to us and am finding that we have alot more resources than I had first thought. Yay for that!

You have to check out this website, Little Brown Dress. Go ahead, I'll wait...
I just love this concept! Not that I am brave enough to do it...besides, I don't know that I could wear the same thing for a year as I am in the process of shedding lots of baby weight (isn't my optimism inspiring? Ha!!). But, I was just so impressed by how cute and funky she looked and how many different ways she was able to dress up the same outfit.
I would really like to adopt the uniform concept. That you find the look that is really flattering to you...suits your personality, flatters your figure, suits your climate and lifestyle, etc. and then just have several variations of it. Less to wash, less to think about, always look good. One more little step on the road to simplicity.
What are your thoughts on this? Really cool or exceptionally boring?

My good friends, Meg and Charlotte, both had baby boys on Sunday! Hudson Babb weighed in at 7 pounds, 4 ounces. Roeland Carroll weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces. Both Meg and Charlotte had amazing deliveries and are headed home today with their sweet babies.
My friend Jennifer, Charlotte's sister, called me from the hospital just minutes after Roeland was born. In the background, I could hear the bustle of the hospital staff, excited friends and family, and that sweet newborn cry. And do you know what I felt (besides extreme excitement for Charlotte, happiness, etc.)? JEALOUSY. I, who have a two month old, was jealous of Charlotte for having a newborn!!! Am I CRAZY?
There is just something so magical, so surreal, about those first few days with a new baby. Time almost stands still. I absolutely love those days in the hospital when you just spend hours getting to know this new little person who will and already has, altered your life forever. I think that is one of the amazing things about having a baby. For nine months you think about and plan for this new little person. It is so exciting b/c you already know without a shadow of a doubt that you will love him so much that it is sometimes physically painful. Who else do you know you will feel that way about before you ever even meet them?
Caedmon is about to turn five in October. I feel a lump in my throat just typing that. The time is flying by. Matt and I have the looming decision of where to send him to school next year. I am terrified. I don't want to move into this next phase...I want my boys to stay little, for just a while longer.
I think that is one thing I love about having a baby. As long as I have an infant, I feel like we are still young, we aren't moving into this next phase, that our children aren't growing and becoming more independent. There are a few problems with this logic. For one, I can't just keep having babies for the sake of having a baby. They do grow up. Nothing I can do about that. Someday they will be teenagers. Yikes. Also, whether I have a baby or not, Caed will be in kindergarten next year. Nothing I can do about that either. I am going to have to learn to embrace it and how much he is changing, sad as it is.

Sometimes I feel like Bauer gets the short end of the stick, being number three...especially following in wild child Landing's wake. But, I think I appreciate Bauer more than I have my last two. My time alone with him is pretty much limited to when Landing is napping, or at night when the others are in bed. He is an easy, happy, smiley baby. He seems almost thoughtful, wise. I love to sit and hold him, with his little head on my chest, feeling him sleep. Having a baby forces you to slow down (especially if you nurse). I appreciate that. And I don't want it to end. I can't believe that I already have three children. I feel like my life is flying by...and as the boys are getting bigger, it is going faster and faster. I can't imagine what it is like with teenagers!
I have to figure out how to make the most of this time. Yes, sometimes I want to pull my hair out or change my name and run away to somewhere tropical...but this is also an amazing, sweet time full of simple joys. I want to continue to reduce the non essential chaos of life so I can more fully experience the joys of motherhood. Cutting out Wal.mart, getting up early and doing much of the housework, paperwork, etc. before the boys get up, staying home, choosing simplicity...all these acts hopefully aid me in my attempts to focus on the really important and eternal task of raising and enjoying my boys.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


The first few days of my social experiment have gone well. I haven't yet been tempted to darken Wal.Mart's doors. In fact, I have hardly shopped at all. I bought a pair of wide legged linen pants that were really fabulous at Goodwill and I bought tons of fruits and veggies at our local produce stand. Tonight, unfortunately, we did have to go to a grocery store that is part of a chain. Some friends invited us over for dinner after church and asked us to pick up some salad fixings on our way over. The produce stand isn't open on Sunday night, so we did have to go the grocery store. Couldn't be helped:::sigh:::but at least it wasn't (cue horror music) WAL.MART!!!
It hasn't been hard yet, mostly because I started with a stocked pantry, so I haven't had to get very creative. But, we are starting to run low on convenience foods such as goldfish and cereal, so I thought it would be in my best interest to go ahead and make out my plan of attack. When Matt was in California for a week this summer and I was home alone with a four year old, 20 month old, and two week old baby, I made a plan for the entire week: all meals, including snacks. It served me well, so I thought I would do it again for this upcoming week.
I do like to have some fluidity within my structured life (smile), so rather than say we will have xyz for breakfast on monday, I would rather just plan out seven breakfasts, seven lunches, etc. and then pick out what I want to eat the day of. This allows some flexibility in case of plan changes and such. I also only plan five lunches and dinners b/c we usually end up eating out a few times either at my parents or matt's parents house, have date night, etc.

1. Blueberry muffiins, scrambled eggs
2. Scrambled eggs and toast
3. Waffles
4. Oatmeal
5. Cereal
6. Cheese grits, turkey bacon, toast
7. Pancakes

1. Pita pizzas
2. PB and J
3. Turkey sandwich (2)
4. Grilled cheese and tomato soup

1. Roasted vegetables and shrimp with orzo
2. Hamburgers, hand cut fries, fruit salad
3. Breakfast for dinner: turkey bacon, french toast
4. Turkey paninis
5. Spinach salad w/ grilled shrimp, fuji apples, walnuts, and feta

-popcorn w/ olive oil and sea salt
-home made cereal bars
-Peanut butter and crackers
-Hummus w/ pitas and carrot sticks
-oatmeal cookies and milk

Friday, August 24, 2007


I FINALLY have started composting. I hemmed and hawwed about it long enough. I kept procrastinating "I need to find the perfect can for the compost", "I have to find a good place to keep the compost can", blah, blah, blah. In the meantime, I am just throwing tons of stuff in the trash...headed for the landfill...could have been making some good fertilizer:::sigh:::so I pulled my big 8 cup pampered chef measuring cup out (glass is great, won't harbor smells) that has a lid (in case I don't want to carry it out, I can just put a lid on it and deal w/ it later). No big deal. Now I am composting. I am always doing that to myself. Analyzing. Planning. Vascilating. Finally I spring to action after becoming overcome with irritation at my in-action and "poof" it's done...I'm composting! Feels good. Shouldn't have taken so long. So often, I wait for the situation to be perfect and don't do anything, when I should just do somehing and let good enough be, well, good enough.

Also, I am attempting to compact for the next two months. That is, not buy anything new except consummables, safety items, and personal care items. I make exceptions for shoes, socks, and underwear. I think it is gross to use those items secondhand. Ewww. So, anything that I need to buy that falls outside of those categories I will try to purchase from Goodwill, thrift stores, garage sales, craigs list, ebay, etsy, etc.

I am not going to beat myself up if I buy something new every once in awhile but I am going to try and become more aware of what I am buying and, if I am able, to buy it used. Should be a fun little adventure! It definitely has me thinking more deliberately about what I buy. I am learning to think outside of the box and come up with new uses for old things (making the fabric from an old shirt into a new apron, instead of heading to the fabric store, for example). If any of you have/are compacting, I would love to hear what things you have started buying used instead of new, and maybe some challenges you have faced with compacting.

Anna has posted her thoughts on tattooing and piercings and I thought she had some good things to say. This is a hot topic, and very sensitive with lots of people. I don't have the answers, but I am enjoying hashing it out! I love her "J.Crew Jesus" comment. Check it out!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Here we go...I have begun a list of things that I will be making instead of buying over the next two months. I am very excited about it. I love to cook anyway, and my experiment is just the impetus I need to step it up a notch.

These are the things that I have come up with so far that I will be making instead of buying. Let me know if you think of any more I should add to the list.

-Spaghetti Sauce (tomatoes and garlic from the produce stand. Basil I grew. Olive oil in pantry)
-Pizza Crust (I usually buy whole wheat crusts from Wal.mart but making my own shouldn't be any big deal)
-Ice cream
-Granola/Cereal (I regularly make granola. I am going to look online for some homemade cereal recipes)
-Bread (I LOVE making bread. I will be doing this on a weekly basis and supplementing from the bakery)
-Hummus (this is another food that I make on a regular basis and is a great snack food)
-Vanilla Extract (I used to make this but have run out. It takes several months from start to finish but I have store bought vanilla that should tide me over. I purchase my vanilla beans off Ebay from a grower in Madagascar)
-Peanut Butter (I have made almond butter before. It is really easy. Peanuts are in season here now, so this will be yummy!)
-Applesauce (mom and I buy apples from a farm in TN near her parents every fall. We will be making applesauce, apple butter, apple jelly, etc. Can't wait for that!)

One perk, that will make this experiment easier, is that my hubby sells food for a living. I will be buying things in bulk from him that I can't find in these places:

-Produce Market: All fruits and veggies, milk, butter
-Organic Farm box program (weekly box of fruits and veggies, delivered to bakery): fruits and veggies
-Mennonite Market: pies, breads, jellies, etc.
-Butcher: ground beef, chicken
-Woman in town that sells: flour, raw sugar, wheat, etc.
-Local pharmacies: diapers, meds, personal care items
-Bakery: bread, sweets, some cheeses
-"Dented Can store": canned items, diapers, crackers, etc.
-Our pantry: canned green beans, jelly, beans, olive oil, sugar, spices/herbs, granola, etc.
-Our freezer: Pork loin, frozen veggies, soups, roasts, peaches, blueberries
-Mom: Fresh eggs

Today starts my new social experiment. To see if I can go two whole looooonnng months without shopping at Wal.Mart. No Wal.Mart until October 23rd. I really have a love hate relationship with that place. On the one hand, it is oh so convenient. You can buy everything in one place! And it is cheaper than anywhere else. On the other hand, it sucks the soul out of me every time I go in there. It has no personality. It is big and overwhelming and full of scantily clad college students. Gag. I drag my childen in there and emerge two hours later frazzled, tired, and broke. I go in with a list and usually come out with at least 5 things that were not on my list and that I did not realize I needed until I went in to Hellmart, uh, Wal.mart.
I would love to live like the Europeans who shop for their groceries every day and walk to the neighborhood butcher, baker, green grocer, etc. Unfortunately, that life style isn't as easy to emulate in small town, USA. For one thing, you can't walk to all the stores, they are too spread out. For another, once Wally world comes to town, many small businesses just can't make ends meet, and have to shut their doors. We are such an impatient culture, we want everything 10 minutes ago. We get irritated if someone pulls out in front of us, our blood boils if someone in the drive thru has a big order and we have to wait an extra minute to get our food. We shop at Walmart because we can get in, get everything, get out and be done with it. The pleasure and thoughtful planning and purchasing of our food is all but lost!
So, I am going to see if it is even possible to buy everything I need without going to Wal.mart. I am going to buy everything I can from privately owned (no chains or corporations), mom and pop stores. What I can't buy, I will make. I am going to document each week the things that I had to purchase, and from where. I am really skeptical that it is even possible anymore to find everything you need outside of Wal.mart.
These are the anticipated pros and cons of my experiment:
-I will be more intentional about the foods that I buy and prepare for my family...if I am only buying foods from the produce stand, bakery, and more junk food!
-Because it will be more expensive and time consuming, I will be more deliberate about what I am buying and more conscious of waste
-I will be more environmentally aware. The foods that I buy will be locally grown which means my food didn't travel hundreds of miles in a gas guzzling 18 wheeler to get to me.
-I will be supporting the local business owners and giving them my money, instead of Wal.mart share holders (not that I have anything against share holders in general, smart people!).
-I will be developing relationships with people in my community whose shops I frequent.
-Shopping will be a more pleasant experience
-I can break up my shopping into smaller trips, if neccessary (butcher one day, baker another), which will be easier on my children and myself

-It will be more time consuming
-It will be more expensive
-I will have difficulty finding some items such as some dairy products, baking supplies, etc.
-I will not be able to rely on quick-fix junk meals and will have to plan ahead

So, it will be interesting to see how it goes. The experiment begins today. I went to Wal.mart one last time b/c I had a gift card (they already had my money, I figured I should go ahead and use the card). As we pulled away, I said "Take a good look, kids, we won't be here again for a long time!" Woo hoo!
Wish me luck! Anyone want to join me? It would probably be easier to do this in a larger city, where you have more choices in where to shop. I would love to hear comments, suggestions, etc.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


My mom has been having a hard time coming to terms with my "self mutilation", as she calls it. She was pretty upset the first day. After several emails, research, etc. she wasn't quite as upset. She was able to appreciate the reasoning behind it, though she didn't agree with it.
This afternoon was a baby shower for my friend, Charlotte. Many of the women in our church came. Earlier in the day, I confided to my mom that despite my desire to not worry about what others thought about it (nose piercing), I was sweating bullets at the thought of all the negative criticism I was sure to receive. Later, I arrive at the shower to find that my mom has taken a small gold sticker and stuck it to the side of her nose! I know that she doesn't approve of me piercing my nose. I also know that she loves me anyway. Her showing up at the shower with that sticker stuck to her nose, wordlessly supporting me despite our difference of opinion, was truly one of the most incredible things that anyone has ever done for me. I was completely dumbfounded.
That small action meant more to me than probably anything else I can think of that she has done. And there have been some good ones. Like the time we moved into a new house when I was 8 1/2 months preggers and we didn't have any hot water that first night. I burst into tears because I was exhausted and wanted a hot bath, oh so badly. So my mom spent two hours heating hot water in pots on the stove and filled that bathtub for me. Wow.
So Mom, this post is for you. I don't tell you enough, but I love you very, very much. I can't even begin to express how thankful I am for you. Truly. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


So, last night I had my nose pierced (yes, mom, I really did it. No, I am not teasing you.). I have been wanting to do it for a while, but just haven't had the guts. For some reason, I have always really liked piercings. Don't know why, just do. Contrary to what some may believe, I didn't do it on a whim and I did give it a lot of thought. I asked several leaders in our church if they thought that piercings/tatoos were a sin based on several well known verses of scripture. The consensus was that it is NOT sinful and satisfied with that, decided to go for it.
I am always surprised how strongly people feel about some things. Family size, for example. I had many people comment on my third pregnancy with sentiments such as "this is your last one, isn't it?" or "was that an accident?!". It was the same with this. I heard comments such as "haven't you had enough teenage rebellion?" and "how could you do're a MOTHER!!!". Why do people care so strongly about something has that absolutely no bearing on their lives? Obviously, it is hitting a nerve with them. There are strong social stigmas about how many children one should have, what kind of person have piercings, what kind of car you should have, what kind of job, etc. I have seen these biases in my own life. I often judge people based on how they are dressed, or what they drive, or how articulate they are.
In truth, I did have strong reasons of my own for wanting to pierce my nose, but I am not sure that I will be able to explain it coherently. But I am going to try.
A few months ago, I was having a phone conversation with a friend. She was telling me how frustrated she was with her children. I replied that I understood her frustration...patience with my children is easily one of my biggest struggles. Genuinely surprised, she said that she had never seen/heard me be impatient with them, and never would have guessed that about me. Taken back, I then apologized. Obviously, if one of my good friends didn't have any clue about one of my greatest flaws, I was not being very transparent with her. This has happened several times since then, and has led me to wonder if I was showing myself genuinely and honestly to my friends. I think this is very important, especially in the church family. I want to be vulnerable to the women around me and to allow them to see my struggles just as much as my triumphs. I know many times I have compared myself to women, feeling like a failure because I didn't measure up to what I perceived to be their greatness. Presenting myself as anything other than a sinner desperately in need of grace, someone who fails again, and again, and again is not only a lie, but also is a huge disservice to my peers. Being a mother is so hard and the last thing we need to do is compare ourselves to each other and find ourselves lacking because the person we are comparing ourselves to seem to "have it all together". To be in community with one another, to build each other up, to encourage one another...we have to be honest about our own shortcomings, be humble, full of grace. So, you are wondering what this has to do with piercing my nose?
I have felt for a long time that the person I am on the inside is not accurately reflected by what people see on the outside. Not just in the way I dress, but also in things I pursue, who I really want to BE. On the inside, I am earthy, I go hiking and rafting with my boys, I cook from scratch. I grow a garden. I live a simple life, pared down. I enjoy the quotidian events of my life: cooking, cleaning, teaching my boys. I practice attachment parenting, babywearing, holistic medicine. I champion being environmentally concious. I am a good listener and I am kind. I anticipate the needs of my friends, and help them. I am open about my love for the Lord and I pursue a relationship with Him. I am a fun, funky, simple, crunchy mama. That is me on the inside.
On the outside, I am a minivan driving, temporarily overweight, conservative, preppy, laid back yet stressed out, mommy to three boys and wife to one hubby, who I love very much. While some of what people see on the outside is true, there is much more of me that I hold back. Some of the reason that the person that I FEEL like on the inside, and the person I APPEAR to be outside don't match up, is because I am deathly afraid of what people will think of me. I am allowing my life to go by, not really living out many of my values because I am afraid that someone else, who does not live my life, will think something negatively about me. NEWS FLASH: people already do think negative things about me (you might be right now!) and always will, regardless of whether I live my life intentionally, or not! DUH!
So, something snapped in me and I have just decided that life is too short to not pursue the things that are important to me. As long as I am not being sinful, I am going to do the things that I find enjoyable, that are beneficial to my family, and add value to my life. So, with my husband's blessing, I pierced my nose. I might decide in two weeks that I don't really like it so much after all. Who knows? But I am not going to worry about what someone else thinks about it. Maybe God will give Matt and me ten children. If that is what He has planned for us, then I am going to be thankful for that, and enjoy them, without worrying that many people think I have eight children too many. Fear of man is a big struggle of mine, and I am sure I will continue to deal with that. We all deal with it to some degree. I also know that I can be very judgemental too. But I am learning in new ways all the time, that there is more to each of us than meets the eye. We all are much more than the car we drive, and what we wear. I know I am and i am going to learn to look deeper for the hidden qualities in the people around me.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Tonight was the fabulous dinner for my father in law that I posted about earlier in the week. It went very well and he seemed to enjoy it, as I had hoped he would. So often, things are much better in my mind than the reality ends up being. The food turned out great and we had a sweet little centerpiece of yellow flowers put together by our house horticulturalist, Caed.
I had never made shrimp and grits before, so I was a little nervous. In fact, I have never cooked "a grit" in my whole life until tonight. Shrimp and Grits is a great dish though...southern comfort food at its best. Here is the recipe, in case you are interested.

Shrimp and Grits
1 Ib. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups grits
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup white wine
Equal amounts of paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Lemon Juice
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish (optional)

Shrimp- Boil shrimp for 1-2 minutes, just until pink. Place chopped garlic in preheated saute pan w/ oil. Season cooked shrimp with paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, then place in saute pan. Sear on high heat for 30-45 seconds. Place shrimp in bowl and set aside. Deglaze pan with white wine, making sure to get all of the flavor off the bottom of the pan. Slowly add cream and let it simmer just until it thickens.

Grits- Prepare grits according to package directions...please, no instant grits! Add chicken stock to simmering grits and season with salt and pepper. Add cheese, if preferred. Transfer grits to serving dish, add shrimp and squeeze half of lemon on top. Top with cream mixture. Garnish with scallions and lemon wedges, if desired.

Friday, August 17, 2007


This was a great post and interesting food for thought. I have considered this several times myself over the course of the summer. Instead of turning on the tv, do something creative...rewarding...meaningful. Read this post and see what you think...

So, after teasing me mercilessly for my little blog, the Saulsy has created a blog of his own! So, despite his teasing, I am going to give him a little shout out. Check it out, especially the blog on fatherhood. Good stuff.

One of my favorite quotes is by Thomas Jefferson, which says,
"I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage, with my books, my family, and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give."

If you have ever visited Monticello, you would probably agree with me that you would hardly call it a cottage. I tend to think of a cottage in terms of square footage, which I think is incorrect. Living a cottage lifestyle is about much more than square footage (and anyway, a "small" house is so relative). I think it is about living a lifestyle of simplicity, ease, and home grown comfort. Unpretentious. Living a cottage life is not about impressing others, but rather holding their comfort and enjoyment of your home in high regard. Loving your neighbor as yourself. When I think about being in other people's homes, I am surprised by the visits I that I remember as being the most enjoyable. One in particular stands out. The house was a mess (and that is generous). It was a large family, full of chaos and craziness, yet when the wife invited us in, she made no apology for the state of the house. We have all been there...we walk into someone's perfectly immaculate house and the woman says "I am so sorry about the mess, I haven't had a chance to clean". I admit, I have caught myself saying the same on many occasions myself.
Anyway, this woman made no apologies, just greeted us warmly, and set about preparing the meal. She asked about us, how we were, as children ran around underfoot. She set me up chopping something for lunch, Matt setting the table. We felt like another member of the family. They were having us over to spend time together and enjoy a meal. There was no elaborate spread, just simple good food. We worked together preparing it and I was glad that she felt comfortable with us and didn't feel the need to spend hours before our arrival cleaning and preparing. I always try to keep this memory in my mind when I am preparing to have friends over. It is about enjoying one another's company, spending time together, blessing others with our hospitality. And most importantly, glorifying God with the attitude of our heart. I realized a few years ago that I had so much pride (in a bad way) about having others over. It was all about making sure my house was perfect and the food was perfect and my children acted perfect. And then it hit me. We aren't perfect. We are sinful and in need of God's grace ALL THE TIME!! So why was I putting on airs? Now that I have been a homemaker for several years, and have several small, messy children, my ideals have changed, for the better, I hope. My favorite type of hospitality is when a friend drops in late at night, when I am already in my jammies. I might fix a cup of hot tea or coffee and we just sit on in the couch, talking late into the night in a quiet house. It is simple, it is unassuming, and it is honest. The way I would like all of my life to be. I want my hospitality to be a true reflection of myself, and of my values.

Jesus, Cast a Look on Me
Give me sweet simplicity
Make me Poor and keep me Low
Seeking only Thee to know

Thursday, August 16, 2007


OK, I promise this post is not going to be one long gripe session...but I'm not going to lie, this has been a rough week. For starters, I have had a sinus headache since Sunday night. That is four straight days. Apparently, my boys didn't get the memo that my head was on the verge of exploding, and proceeded to scream, fight, argue, throw tantrums, etc. pretty much the for the entirety of their waking hours. Even Bauer has been fussy and restless day and night. Night and day.
Tonight was my first party since going on maternity leave four months ago (yes, B is only two months old...I took the last two months of my pregnancy off too). The Saulsy and I have agreed that the money I make off my sales (commission) is being saved for our beach trip next summer and all the money I make off my team (royalty) goes into our family account for bills and such. I need to sell $2000 a month (I make 25%, so $500) to pay for the trip (we are renting a 5 bedroom house w/ a pool and are taking two babysitters. It is going to be so fabulous, I can almost feel the sand in my teeth, er, toes). Well, my party tonight will probably be $2000 all by itself. Woo hoo. Not bad for one night of work. But, there is always a downside. After an emotional and physically tiring week by the time I actually got to my hostess's house tonight, my head hurt so bad that my vision was blurred and several times throughout my presentation I forgot what I was saying mid sentence. I sat down to take people's orders and I swear I could have slept right there in that kitchen chair and been fine. I felt like I was doing really badly at my job. Then, Matt starts texting me that baby B was starving and had been crying for 45 minutes. I couldn't leave until everyone had placed their order, so by the time I actually left and drove home, I was a nervous wreck, feeling terrible for not being home to feed my poor baby. So all that to ask:
How are we supposed to juggle it all? I have always thought that if you add something into your life, something else will suffer. But tonight, I felt like EVERYTHING suffered. I didn't do my job well, and I didn't do being a mommy well. And that, above all, makes me really sad. But here is the thing. My job is the absolute best thing I could do for being a stay at home mom. I work as much or as little as I want. I set the tone and pace. What else could I do where I stay home with my children all day, then go out one night of the week, and make $500? I work 15 hours a week. 5 hours in the early morning before the children get up, 3 hours for a party one night a week, 3 hours one morning a week while my mom has the boys, and four hours one night a week while matt is counselling and the kids are in bed. So, the majority of my work is done while my children are sleeping. I don't think they suffer, except on nights like tonight, when my baby is hungry and I am not there to feed him!
I don't really know what I am trying to say. Just work things out in my own head, I suppose. This isn't really a question of whether or not I should be working. If it isn't this, it is something else...there will always be something. I think about the Proverbs 31 woman. She worked, she invested, she managed her house, she prepared food, she bought property, she made clothes, etc. And she did it with a good attitude. With each child I have, I simplify my life even more. Pare down, eliminate. I don't mind that. Someone recently said that they declutter to eliminate the distractions that keep them from knowing God. I love that. The more simple my life and home is, the less time I have to spend driving around, getting gas, running errands, dusting, repairing, etc. The more time I have for the truly important things, like investing in my husband, children, and friends.Take housekeeping for example. I know that it is important to have a clean, well managed home. But on the other hand, it will just get messy again and there are so many more important things to do than clean toilets! So, how do you decide how much time and effort to put into cleaning? I know this post is somewhat frenetic, and I am sorry about that. I would love to hear comments though on how you choose what stays and what goes in your do you decide what deserves your time and what you give up?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


So, this morning I am hosting a brunch here for all the women in the church with new babies. There have been nine babies born to Trinity since November, including two sets of twins. My friend Charlotte is bringing up the rear, with her little boy Roeland due in just a couple weeks. I thought it would be fun to have everyone over during our normal playgroup time but step it up a notch with some yummy foods. I got up at five to start cooking...I had the good intentions of starting last night after the kiddos went to bed...but you know what they say about good intentions. Baby B didn't settle down until almost 11, so there went that. But I digress...
So, for the mommies I am making:
-French Toast Casserole
-Parfait Bar (vanilla yogurt, fresh berries, honey, and homemade granola)
-Mimosas, hot tea, and coffee

For the kidlets:
-mini muffins (UPDATE: scratch the mini muffins, I just burned those. oops)
-orange or apple juice
-fresh fruit (bananas, apples, strawberries, and grapes)
-fruit dip (marshmellow creme and cream cheese)
-yogurt cups

Should be yummy!! Also, I am setting up stations for all the kids. For the big kids we will have a dress up station, legos, bubbles on the back porch, coloring/finger paint, etc. For the babies, the different stations will include a playmat, swing, and bouncy seat! Should be fun!!

Monday, August 13, 2007


My father in law's birthday is on friday. I always get a little nervous when Saulsy's parents have birthdays because they have *everything* they could possibly want or need and I never know what to get them. This year, I am taking a cue from ANNA (scroll down to the Oct. 15th post) at Pleasant View Schoolhouse and am making a yummy, meaningful dinner for him. I plan to make Shrimp and Grits with a white wine reduction, crusty bread, sauteed asparagus, and spinach salad. We'll have white wine to drink (give a little shout out to the reduction!), and Mrs. Becky will bring the birthday dessert. I plan to use candles, have a flower/weed centerpiece, nice crisp linens. Instead of spending money on something that he won't use or need, I am going to give him thoughtfulness, time, and energy. I hope he enjoys it and that it makes him feel special.

Mothers of boys, check THIS out!

I just found this book and it sounds so darling I think I must get it! The Dangerous Book for Boys?! How cute! Topics such as: How to treat a lady, how to tie a knot, building a go cart, how to play rugby, identifying fish, etc. This is must-know stuff for little boys! How fun to have these little men to teach these interesting things to! :)

Tonight, sitting in bed with my hubby, reflecting on the day, I realized that I was in a moment of grace. And it felt oh so good. Sometimes, I catch myself in a moment, fleeting and ordinary, that if only I take a small minute to acknowledge it, becomes meaningful. Tonight was one of those times. The house was clean enough to feel good about, the boys were all tucked in their beds, I felt vaquely sexy in my ralph lauren men's nightshirt and rimless glasses (in a librarians-gone-wild sort of way...ha!), I was having a nice end of the day conversation with my hubby, a friend had dropped by late and unexpectedly and had spent a few minutes having good conversation and perusing my bookshelves for a good read...and it struck me...these simple, quotidian pleasures...these little quiet rewards after a long day...this is the good life. Sometimes, I must remind myself, while waiting for the next "big thing" to happen...not to miss the little moments of grace that make life really wonderful. Tomorrow, happy chaos will erupt around 7:30 am, but for now I am enjoying this moment of just *being*. And I am thankful for it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


I am having a blogging revival. New format, more regular posting, links, and soon (when my hubby gets me the right cord and shows me how to use it), pictures! So stayed tuned...
In the meantime, just a little update on our family life. At the moment, we are expecting company (our good friends, Eddie, Stacy, their 15 month old Michael, and baby #2 who we meet in February!) for dinner and a movie. I am making crab cakes (great recipe from Paula Deen's Savannah Country Cookbook), spinach salad with turkey bacon, sunflower seeds, feta, and balsamic vinagrette, home made wheat bread that is in its final stage of rising, and some homemade cake batter icecream that I copied from Bruester's (yummy!).
It is pouring rain outside, hopefully it will bring the temperature down a few degrees...maybe to 100?
My house is clean, with a fresh tablecloth and my red footed bowl filled with fruit. My new Maroon 5 cd is playing and the kids are sitting on the couch together watching a baby einstein video and drinking chocolate milk. This is usually the hardest time of day...we are all cranky, I am trying to cook and keep the peace and do kids baths and finish up the housework and get the boys in their jammies and into bed...but today is good because I have back up (that would be the Saulsy, in case you wondered).
Baby B is sweet as can be. He has these wise little eyes that just study me...he is an old soul, I think. What a joy to have three little boys. Hey I'm a poet and didn't know it! And on that lame little note, I am going to go finish dinner! Until next time...
This is a continuation of my first ever post. There are just so gosh-darn many little everyday things that make me feel good! :) I will probably continue to update this list as I think of things.
Please excuse any overlap. I can't remember what all I listed the first time and I don't want to keep going back to look. If I have listed it again, I must just really love it!

-Red shoes, especially high heels...

-...the sound of heels clicking on the pavement

-Big earrings that "distract" from the extra poundage I am trying to shed :)

-The quiet in the mornings when I actually make it up before the rest of the time to get a head start on the day, have devotions, and watch the world wake up

-Empty laundry baskets

-Houseplans. I am addicted to house plans!! I especially many of Eric Moser designs. He really marries the classic cottage asthetics with modern day comforts.

-Fresh air

-Clean car

-Wearing nice clothes that I feel good in

-A glass of muscadine wine while I am cooking, or late at night while I am reading

-An amazing book that I can't book down (right now I am IN LOVE with the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon)

-Snuggling up with my hubby at the end of the day and talking until we fall asleep

-Seeing my children playing together and getting along!

-Knowing what I am having for dinner *before* 5 pm!

-Down pillows and comforters, 100% cotton sheets...aaahhh, heaven

-A handwritten letter from a friend

-Listening to my little boys, with their sweet little voices, singing their hearts out while we drive in the car