A Picnic.

This weekend

A picnic on our land

Loving butter and cornbread

Enjoying the quiet

Rustling of leaves

Thinking of house plans

Dreaming of family

Present and future.  

 

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Small Comforts

This is our new cozy corner.  We needed to move the rocking chair out of our bedroom where it served as little M’s preferred method of falling asleep.  Now that she’s an energetic toddler, she has other ways she likes to fall asleep.  So we found a new home for our faithful rocker, an empty corner in our study, and faced it towards our front bay window where we can watch the trees sway and the squirrels scamper.  We pulled out a small green rug we bought at a garage sale for $20.  We had no idea what to do with it at the time, but I loved it and couldn’t pass it up.  It fits perfectly under the chair and ottoman, adding a welcome splash of green to a room filled with brown furniture.  I absolutely love it.  Every time I pass it, I smile.  I want to sit and rock and sip some tea while relaxing to the beauties of nature.  My husband and I can be in the same room together now when one of us is on the computer, and Marlee can play at our feet.

 Happiness, I think, is about the small comforts. 

 

This Week At Home

I am finally coming to you again, dear readers, after an absent couple of weeks.  Three weeks ago we arrived back home from our trip to Walt Disney World and began to make the (not anticipated) transition back into our normal daily routine.  There was much to get done, but it didn’t help that the next weekend we came down with a mild virus.  That week we seemed to be doing better, but then little Marlee caught a virus and then well, so did I (again).  So we’ve had many a sleepless night here lately, and plenty of toddler runny noses to wipe, but it seems that we are finally all getting better.  So these last couple of weeks have been a little challenging, but here’s what we’ve been up to…

Decided to do some bulk cooking which proved to be extremely helpful on the days I was too tired or achy to make anything.  (Above picture) Bulgur wheat for breakfast mixed with applesauce, butter, honey, cinnamon and chopped nuts.  Warm.  Hearty.  Perfect.  Get the recipe here.

Chopped cooked chicken for my homemade chicken and cheese taquitos (for my hubby).  Mixed with diced tomatoes,  salt, pepper and oregano.  I bought chicken leg quarters (cheaper to buy chicken with the bone) boiled and shredded it first then used as filling for the tortillas.  I made eight, cooked them in a skillet then froze them in pairs of two.  Turned out great!  Next time I will make more and perhaps a vegan version as well.

I also made a big pot of soup. Oh how I love soup!

And some meatballs to eat and freeze.

My sister came back from her trip to New York and brought some souvenirs.  How fun!

I’m glad things are settling down and can’t wait to welcome October soon and with it the start of family holidays, birthdays and get togethers.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approaching the “Terrific Twos!”

Yesterday my baby turned 18 months old.  But truly, she is not my little baby anymore!  Just these past couple of weeks she has started shaking her head “no” when she doesn’t want something.  She can run and walk, and she lets us know what she wants.  She can eat anything that we eat and almost has all of her teeth.  Her many creases in her chubby arms and legs have smoothed and she looks more and more like a little girl.  In no time at all, she will be 2 and, no doubt, talking up a storm.  As she approaches this important time in her life; this time when she will learn that she is independent from mommy and daddy, a time when she is going to exercise her self-will, there is something I’m determined to do.  

I am determined to see the best in her.  

I am determined to speak well of her, to see what she could be and to encourage her potential for good.  This is something I was sure of since the day she was born.  When she was a little baby in my arms, I would whisper to her “you are a good girl…”  “you are my sweet baby…” 

Those seem like innocent phrases enough, but to me they had power behind them.  I resolved, as a mother, to always make sure that my children heard me speaking well of them- to them and in their presence.  I never ever wanted to latch onto an idea that my child was less what they could be, or so many of the things you hear parents call their children.  For example, “Oh, he’s just a trouble maker…” “She’s my little diva, always gets her way…” or “it’s just that age, you know, the terrible twos!”  I have never shared in other parent’s humor at these statements.  I’m learning words have life to them, and children often begin to form their identity around their parent’s perceptions of them.  I think we need to believe the best about our children, no matter what we see in them at the moment, and then encourage them to that end.  

It’s amazing how often this might come up.  A stranger at the store complimented Marlee, but then commented “But I bet she’s a stinker!” To which I politely replied with a smile, “Oh, she’s good!”  But I know there will be time in the near future where she will demand her own way, throw a fit, or any of the other things that toddlers do (and yes she has done) and I will be there not telling her what a bad girl she is (Lord help me if I ever call her a “bad girl!”) but reminding her what a sweet polite girl she is, and helping her to behave that way.  And I know the “terrible two” comments will abound more and more as she reaches that mark.  But what’s so terrible about it?  Attaining independence is a normal part of life.  It is not her job to instinctively  know how to behave in a way that brings honor to her, us and to God (and yes I believe little children can be taught to honor God!) but it is our job as parents.  

I know parenting holds a lot of challenges, but I hope by always seeing the best in my child she will she the best in herself and instead of hoping for it, she will simply walk in it. 

 

 

 

 

This Week At Home

Here are some of the fun things we’ve been up to this past week…

I made Marlee homemade play dough (her first experience with play dough!) and she seemed to enjoy this new sensory experience, but became very upset when she tried to eat it and realized it did not taste good!  Thank goodness it was homemade and I knew exactly what was in it- a simple mix of water, salt, flour and cornstarch. I got the recipe from The Toddler’s Busy Book by Trish Kuffner.

She discovered stickers…

Friday I took some friends along with me to the natural dairy farm I discovered about 30 minutes away, Gramen Farm.  We talked to a passionate farmer about health and dairy and the benefit of raw dairy products (I know what some of you are thinking…) He gave us kefir grains for free and I began making my own kefir with goat’s milk.  The above picture is my finished kefir smoothie (with banana and mango to take the edge off the tart flavor of the kefir) it was really good!  While I have many doubts about the benefit of commercial and processed milks and cheeses, homemade natural cultured/ fermented dairy has an ancient past and a long list of health benefits.

Saturday we went with a couple of friends to the farmer’s market where I bought some nice Texas peaches,

and a parsley plant for $1.00.  I was told this is not a Summer plant so it stays indoors, gets a bit of morning sun and lots of water. We’ll see how it does!

With the peaches I made a peach upside down cake in my cast iron skillet (sorry the lighting in the picture is a bit off I made it at night) also really good! The rest of the peaches I sliced and froze to use in smoothies.

We went to the library and borrowed books all about camping.  I’m using loosely the Joyful Learning curriculum for 2’s and 3’s (adapting it for my 1 1/2 year old).  Every month there is a theme and a Bible verse and themed activities.  I thought it would give us some fun things to do through out the week.  Her attention span is super duper short so we just do what we can. I’m not big on heavily structured days anyway.  Every month there is a play dough recipe and a sensory tub. This month the theme is camping, beaches and the ocean.  It helps that we went camping just a couple of weeks ago.  I know she is taking it all in even if she can’t tell me yet!

I love that in the midst of our very routine days of sleeping, waking, eating and cleaning we can find simple pleasures (like that peach cake, Mmmm) and memories.

 

 

Our Weekend at Huntsville State Park

This weekend we packed up and took a trip along with my husband’s parents to Huntsville State Park in Huntsville, Texas.  Few times in my childhood I had been to a state park or camping so I was excited to have this outdoor adventure.  My husband and I had never been camping together; this was long overdue!  I’m not exactly an outdoor kind of girl, but after my adventure in Scotland, I was willing to try anything!  It sure was hot, but we all had a great time.  

she loved looking out the RV window

hiking through the woods

finding treasures to put in her bag

cooking our meal in the fire

of course there were marshmallows

the next day we went canoeing!

although Marlee did not enjoy it and we quickly had to turn back to shore

she loved swimming in the lake though!

feeling the sand

tired after such a long day!

The Nature…

we saw muscadine grapes almost everywhere

we also saw a lot of these beautiful purple berries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner At Home

We were so pleased to have my mom and my husband’s parents over for dinner tonight.  We thought about going out to eat, but my husband and I suggested we have dinner at our house instead.  Eating at home is so much more intimate and special.  It allows the host or hostess the joy of serving, and the guests the joy of fellowship.  Eating should be a labor of love, and it should start in the kitchen.  I used to hate cooking, until I realized that I was going about it all the wrong way.  I often tried to make cooking easy- quick fast meals, easy preparation and few ingredients.  Then I started making a few meals the old fashioned way- from scratch, by hand and fell in love.  

A good meal starts with your mind as you think of all the wonderful dishes you could make, then your eyes as your search out the best ingredients, then your hands as you invest yourself to prepare it, and finally, a good meal ends in your mouth as you get to reap what you have spent so much time sowing.  Anything less than investing your best in a meal, your time and energy, heart and creativity, cheapens the meal, even just a little, and leaves everyone wanting.  Satisfaction comes from a meal that’s been long awaited.  

herb focaccia ready to put in the oven

I had such joy in creating this meal that by the time I was done making it, even if everyone hated it (which they didn’t) I wouldn’t have cared because I was so delighted by the process of creating it.  The menu: Simple lemon chicken, green beans, apricot and pecan salad with homemade honey vinaigrette, and (the star of the meal) homemade rosemary and thyme focaccia with olive oil for dipping.  I have never made focaccia bread before and I was so pleased how it turned out.  Baking bread is a ridiculous pleasure.  

The five of us polished off almost an entire focaccia loaf (I’m glad I made two!) and I thought the salad was the best salad I’ve ever had.  It was fresh and sweet and perfect.  I got the recipe for the vinaigrette here but I doubled the honey and the mustard. Salt and pepper to taste.  Dinner at home is so amazing in so many ways.  For me, I get to know that everything is really fresh and healthy (and vegan) and I can dig in without a care.  And I love the exclamations of delight from the guests as they enjoy my labors of love.  And it doesn’t hurt that my husband told me it was the best meal he has ever had.  Wow!  It doesn’t get any better than that!  Wives, what a wonderful way to bless your husband by investing yourself in your meals.  It is a joy and discipline I am eager to practice again and again.   

 

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