peace of my mind

peace I leave you; my peace I give you… Jn.14:27


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Yes! to extending the table

28:31 day of Yes!
I hated this table when we first saw it. It stood for everything I did not want…utilitarianism rather than aestheticism, imposing rather than sleek. It had an ambiguity to it that I was uncomfortable with at the time. Just how many little people would eventually fit around it? Which by the way, were the same exact sentiments I held for our big, fat 15 passenger van! But it is God’s sense of  humor which lets us come to love things to which we once said “Never!”

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This custom-built conference table became ours out of need and practicality, but over time it has become much more. Yes, it is imposing and indestructible, but I suppose that really is what is needed here. This table is the central thing in our home.  It is where we gather to chat over snacks, do anything creative, play games, and most importantly where we break spiritual and literal bread.

Our new Mom’s group at church recently focused on purposing to make our dinner tables nourish our families’ bodies and souls.  Getting a hot meal on the table is one thing, but getting it there with a smile and intent to minister grace is a whole other objective.

With a bunch of littles through the years, there have been seasons where simply getting regular meals to the table was the first mountain to climb.  Getting it there with a servant’s heart was (and still is) another many days.  I am once again challenged to think about the table’s restorative and instructive nature.  How can I tap into this more?

Meals, etiquette, and fellowship around our table have been works in progress…and ones I need to be reminded to keep aspiring to.  I can remember many nights when they were all small. In trying to teach the art of conversation, we would hand a ball to the person speaking who would then hand the conversation and the ball off to the next.  I have to laugh as I think back on it. Perhaps  it was a little too much like Lord of the Flies at times: “I have the conch!”, still they were overarching goals we were trying to achieve.

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The kids have become better at conversation, though they still have a ways to go. We began to practice formal dinner on Sundays several years ago. I would have the kids set the entire place settings (as opposed to melamine plates and a fork on a typical weeknight) and we would practice passing dishes of food as the kids could manage it. Practicing the mechanics has helped them become familiar to the point that it’s not foreign when it’s actually “go time.”

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“Go time” includes times of hospitality, when we are guests at someone’s house, or… when a camera crew comes to film your family eating dinner–like we did 2 weeks ago. I still think it’s funny, but Kevin was asked to do a video interview for a software company he uses and Yes! they came to our house for some slice-of-life footage…like dinner. I was quite nervous, but also comforted by the fact that this would have not been a good option at one time, but practice makes better.  And it all went better than I had hoped for. Something to shake up life a little bit. So it’s a big Yes! to extending the purpose of the table. Something I will be thinking about more in weeks to come.

31 days of Yes! is me dedicating to post each day for the month of October (which is a Yes! in itself) and to find one meaningful Yes! in each day. Over 1200 bloggers are participating thanks to the lovely Nesting Place.


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Yes! to them apples

17:31 days of Yes!

Today I said Yes! to some things that have been on the back burner. Namely 2 bushels of apples my sweet mom picked for us from my Grandpa’s trees.  They were almost sitting there too long. Happy to have them roasting and crockpotting away on the countertop now.  Tomorrow my mom is coming and hopefully, we will can applesauce. She has taught me these things and has passed supplies onto me from her own years of putting up–along with any stray jars that come across her path.  I am grateful for the tradition, the smell and the jars waiting for us all winter.

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Of course little helping hands are always welcome!

Here is a wonderful recipe for Apple Peel Jelly I tried last year. It allows you to use every last peel and core worth using to make some mighty good jam. It’s yummy and frugal–two of my favorite things!

31 days of Yes! is me dedicating to post each day for the month of October (which is a Yes! in itself) and to find one meaningful Yes! in each day. Over 1200 bloggers are participating thanks to the lovely Nesting Place.


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Yes!…to hamburger cupcakes

12:31 days of Yes!

Today was an easy one: Yes! to hamburger cupcakes!

For our quirky (in an awesome way) Gabe who turns 11!!?!! on Sunday. We did crazy crayons one year among other crazy things.  Why not cupcakes that look like burgers?

Very fun to make and just a brownie in the middle. We were short one brownie, so he plans on asking if anyone is a vegan.

Happy treat day to Gabe! Man, how I need a new camera!

31 days of Yes! is me dedicating to post each day for the month of October (which is a Yes! in itself) and to find one meaningful Yes! in each day.  Over 1200 bloggers are participating thanks to the lovely Nesting Place.


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Yes! to a helping hand

4:31 days of Yes!

One day last week I spent almost half of my day in our big, fat van. Shuffling kids here and there, just working the schedule as best I could. It was one of those days where I was behind all day and I was double and triple booked for parts of the day due to kids needing to be different places…all while my husband was at a meeting. It culminated, as you can imagine, in a brood of hungry kiddos around when we got home. Having failed to plan for dinner and finding only frozen hunks of meat on hand, I had not options but toast! Stellar, yes?

Though we do have a strange affinity for toast, it certainly is not a meal. Still, it’s all I had. Bread and butter for your supper. It’s all your mother’s got!

At Bible Study the next morning my prayer request was glaringly obvious. I asked that I would be able to care and plan for my family better in times of busyness as well as for us to discern how much busyness to take on. Feeding them is pretty much a non-negotiable; busyness cannot get in the way of that! Several friends who could write books on organizing and planning offered tips and best practices.  Truthfully, my first response to their help was prideful…”no thanks! we’re good” Really? My kids had just been famished and cranky the night before and I want to defend with, “O, I’m good!”? I had just asked for prayer to do better, but then had the gall to kindly defend my failures. God helped me recognize my request came from NEED, and to stop telling myself in pride that all was fine.  I had to admit my need could be met by someone else’s help. Duh!

Gaining an objective point of view indeed was a help. My friend met with me to look  at my schedule and see what I could do to improve it. Our time together revealed I am good at putting it all on paper, but  keeping all the plates spinning consistently is where I fall short.  Consistency and follow-up are two areas of weakness in which I need to pray to be sharpened. I would say 3 out of 4 weeks the schedule runs like a well-oiled machine. But the 4th week is when I lose stamina and tend to let plates drop. To get the house back on track when things have lost momentum is a daunting task.

So we’re thankfully back to meal plans and cleaning zones and regular chores for the kids. My Yes! is not to more chore charts and systems. These have their place and work for a time. I’m always up for revamping them and reigniting ownership around here. But I suspect we will be working on that until they all fly the nest. My Yes! is rather to taking help. Though met with resistance at first, it does a body good to admit a weakness and take instruction from those who are better at something than you. Perhaps you can become better in that area too.

What a good reminder that when I ask for prayer I should be willing to receive help. Perhaps the offer of help is the very means by which God will answer my prayer. If I only ask for prayer, but never humble myself to accept someone’s help, how do I know I am not rejecting the means of instruction God intends to use to answer those prayers? So Yes! to humility and accepting a helping hand. Thank you, Lord!

31 days of Yes! is me dedicating to post each day for the month of October (which is a Yes! in itself) and to find one meaningful Yes! in each day. Over 1200 bloggers are participating thanks to the lovely Nesting Place.


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Forcing Spring

Another dreary Saturday in the midwest. Little tastes of spring have come, and some day soon, it will be here to stay…but not today!
Our kids are on spring break this week which means no more packing lunches, checking homework, grading pre-algebra.

Forcing bulbs

It may include a little sleeping in, sewing-I hope! and the most fun of all is that daddy will be able to enjoy some of it with us since Easter comes after tax day this year. Praising God for these good things!

Egg sticks

We worked on some “crack me” eggs by Not Martha which was also featured in this month’s issue of Family Fun. The color of these alone has brightened us all a little today.

Eggs

That and the little ones were enjoying decorating Hot Rocks with crayons.  If we weren’t short on found rocks today, I would have liked that one too.

Yogurt

We have made yogurt successfully in the past thanks to the help of my mom’s yogurt maker. There are many fascinating ways to cure it…heating pads, pilot lights and boiling water in coolers. We tried the latter method a few weeks ago, but had awful results. Pretty sure it had to do with the temps at which we warmed the milk.

Hblessings

While placing a book order recently, the Homestead Blessings DVD series was on sale. The West Ladies youtube promos are so enjoyable, they are sure to be good resources to have on hand. Their family lives “off the grid” and they show sweetly and competently how to grow in homesteading skills-which I confess I am completely drawn to! Their Dairy Delights DVD was most appealing, so I did get that. The rest, I requested from our library.  After implementing a bit of their advice today,  we’ll see if the yogurt yields better results.

Another homesteading resource a friend has shared is the magazine Mary Jane’s Farm.   I’ve read the copies she passed along cover to cover.  While I don’t plan to don a cowgirl hat anytime soon, the idea of using the space you have-whatever that space may be, to be productive and sustaining to you and your family is both inspiring and useful.  I have found the practice of maximizing what you have, to also hold many lessons in godly contentment!

I have another post brewing along these lines.  But for today, we are forcing spring in-doors while we know it’s bound to come any day on the out.


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Hello February

The shortest month of the year can easily seem the longest when there are 12 inches of snow on the ground and you haven’t seen the sun in weeks. I fare these mid-west winter blues much better with shots of color and spice.

Doorheart

Valentine’s day is always good for that. I’m thinking of cooking-in this year. These inspirations are from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Jan/Feb 2001.

Olive bar

I keep coming back to the idea of fondue…cheese and of course, chocolate. We had a cheese and fruit platter on a recent date night that I seriously keep thinking of too. Really? I can’t stop thinking about figs, almonds and stilton? It made a real impression, I guess. I would also like to try a recipe I saw for pomegranate salsa with seasoned fajita crisps. Yum!

Fondue

I liked these simple gifts for friends.

Table dressing

This satin rose heart was a quick project I worked at 20 minutes at a time for two or three days. Here is the original tutorial.

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Since I wanted to use what I had, I modified it a bit. Rather than a Styrofoam heart, I cut a form from an oatmeal cereal box.  Although I sewed each strip, I did not gather them because the satin was harder to work with than broadcloth.  Lots of hot glue here!

The hot pink, satin yardage was sitting in my stash for too long. I think I bought it for a makeshift shawl for a murder mystery dinner costume years ago. It went to a good cause: helping to spice up February!

Oatmeal heart


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The Making List

Here is the Christmas making list that may or may not get ticked off around these parts.  With baby’s arrival careening at us, I may just scrap most of these plans.  We’ll see.  This post is just some links to some  great gift ideas you may also want to give a try.  If you do, I’d love hear how it goes.

From Martha, Martha, Martha:  Japanese Motif Soaps, slippers for the kids, Sugar Body Scrubs along with Candy Cane Bath Salts.

In knitting, the Brangelina Hat.

Loving this! quilty tree skirt.  This would be a big venture for me.  Teachers are getting these water bottle carriers.  The kids are hopefully getting pajama pants.  Amelia is getting my resized prom dresses for her dress-up wardrobe.

And as for trimmings and food, how about making a gift bow from a magazine page, or some spritz cookies (I’m using the brand new press that cost a dollar at a garage sale.)

I’d love to see what others are making/doing this season.  I’m strangely hearing my 6th grade teacher in the back of my mind saying, “Tempus Fugit”….time is fleeting!  And how!