Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Week 23 {Embrace the Camera} Part 1: New Do

I'm officially half way finished with my one year  Embrace the Camera challenge.
Yes, it's getting easier.... as long as I don't get so caught up in my weekly to-dos that I don't make time for a photo op.
In honor of this momentous occassion- my Embrace the Camera post for this week will be a two part-er.
One post is very close to my heart and hasn't reached it's right reading flow yet.... its a work in progress that I hope to share later this week.

The first part is right here....
We spent as much of our "spare time" as we could this week at the farm priming and painting The Boy's bedroom and the family closet (very small bedroom that's gonna be a wonderful big closet for us!).

We were blessed to have Lu's bestie, Al, come and help us out one day. I love this girl like she's my very own.... she calls me her second mom and I love that. Here we are together as she helped with some of the serious dirty work in The Boy's room- scraping all that old paint and wallpaper (ew). 

I love that my Lulu has this girl as her best friend. God has truly blessed these two young women in their friendship. They have that "iron sharpens iron" true blue, speak-the-truth-in-love relationship the like of which I didn't have until my 30's! This is a friendship that will last their whole lives through. What a precious gift! And what a gift to me to have this young lady as an "adopted daughter".

Besides all that painting- the other news of the week was that I finally decided I couldn't stand my long hair getting caught in doors and seat belts anymore and I went in for my first hair cut in over a year....

A friend of mine is a beautician and was able to get me in the very day I called for an appointment! I love that. She cut over eight inches off my hair and gave me some lovely face framing layers. I love it.

I continue to embrace the streak of grey that continues to appear in my hair and my beautician friend loved playing up this "natural highlight". Yes, a streak of grey- not a few greys here and there sprinkled throughout my hair but an entire section on the right side of my part is turning grey. The exact same thing happened to my mama and people thought she purposed to dye it that way.... so, instead of coloring it and having to try and keep up with the touch-ups that I know I just won't keep up with- I'm embracing my natural hair.
And most days I like it just fine.

>>> Embrace the Camera is a year long challenge in which I agreed to take/have taken and post at least one photo of myself each week for 52 weeks. No editing out the wrinkles or digitally shrinking the waist line or cloning out the growing grey.... real pictures of the real me. Along with the photos comes bits and pieces of my heart- written out here as I walk this journey to capture the real me on camera for the remembering.
Click here for all cumulative weeks of the Embrace the Camera Challenge.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Free Printable: May's weekly menu plan and a few links to some quick & easy meals

We're not even into double digits in April yet and I'm ready with May's free printable!
Yay me!

Our menu plan here at the homestead is currently a "work in progress"- meaning: don't be surprised if we eat pbj's tonight because we've got too much going on.
This is mostly due to us spending as much time as possible at the farm working on house projects. Sometimes we don't eat until 7:30 or 8 pm..... due to working.
AND-- since we're hoping for the sale to go through on the house, I've been working on us eating from the pantry and freezer in hopes of having less "stuff" to move.

So far- I've cooked up most of the meat from the freezer (exception: 2 big turkeys!] and have had the unfortunate job of tossing a few unidentifiable freezer burned items.... [boo!] but have also used some odds and ends to make some good meals! [Yay!] 
I'm working to buy only what we absolutely need for 1-2 weeks' meals when I go grocery shopping and my mom is supplementing some meals at the farm with stuff she's trying to get out of their freezer in anticipation of us moving.
I am so very thankful for our new Aldi store in town which is making this whole process a lot easier on my pocket book. Running in to Aldi for a few items is a lot easier, quicker and cheaper than the big box stores. I'm not tempted or lured by end caps and big sales and I don't have to walk half a mile through the store to get to the milk....
Of course, I haven't bought any Easter candy either.... hmmm.

Here's a few links to some of the easy to prepare meals we're planning:
Corn Chowder and biscuits
Aunt Florence's mac-n-cheese casserole with some of our homemade Wagner Pickles
Hamburger gravy on toast with green beans on the side [Comfort food!]
Parmesan broiled tilapia [so quick and so good!] with mixed veggies on the side
Sloppy Pizza Burgers with fries on the side

I bought a frozen veggie lasagna ($8.99) when I was at Aldi the other day to have in the freezer to have on hand for that day I just don't want to/or can't go to the store or be bothered to put too much thought into cooking.

I've also been thinking about creating some freezer meals (mostly for the crockpot) for when things get super crazy.... thinking of spending an afternoon creating some from different pins I've collected on Pinterest. We shall see if I can eek out the time and the energy to make that happen.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Week 22 {Embrace the Camera}: Count it all Joy

Week Twenty-two finds me a bit battered.
And very weary.
Worn-out and worn down.

The house sale is a mess. I don't wish to go into details.... it's just a mess. It looks like if we want to help the sale go through that we will be wiping out our savings to make some needed repairs. We're in a quandary as to which way to go on this.
It's hard, I won't deny it. We are disappointed and sad. My heart is weary.
And yet....

Painting the stair railing at the farm... that ceiling was wallpapered and its the bane of my farm existence....
I press on.
I know that this entire situation is in God's hands.
That He is still leading and that His best is still before us.
And yet I ache.
And still I worship.
And believe.... have faith that He's got this.
No matter what happens.... no matter how long this takes- we will praise Him.
I can't do anything but praise Him....
even in the midst of my weary worn-outness.
I choose to live in confidence and in faith. I know He provides.

I have a sweet friend, who likes to say to me "Count it all joy!" [James 1:2] when I'm dealing in life's inevitable difficulties and am floundering. So I hunt for the ways to count this joy- and in turn add to my thankfuls list..... and yet, I admit that there are moments when this is a struggle.

Am I not stating the obvious when I say that it can be seriously hard to find joy in the midst of trying times? Am I the only one who struggles under the weight of trials and mulishly doesn't want to count even a morsel of joy in the circumstances? Who wants to whine to God,  "Why do these things always have to be a struggle? Why can't it just be easy for once?"
Count it all Joy....
How can I find joy in a crumbling house sale?
I can believe it's God's will and He has something better planned.
I can be thankful for:
that this is an opportunity for me to grow and trust more
that I can model what it means  to have grace in the midst of trial to my kiddos
if the sale falls through, the repairs we make will benefit us for when it does sell

I can also continue to prepare (my fields) for rain (think Facing the Giants- this here)
So we squeeze in what time we can at the farm- preparing.
The Mister and Lu have been hard at work scraping, patching and priming The Boy's room.... it is by far, the worst off and most in need of work.
We've also been working in the hallway when we've got a can of paint open that matches.... but its not high priority right now.
Sassafras has been helping me in the room we're making the family closet- my tall girl has been priming and painting the ceiling and the hard to reach places for me while I work on the walls and trim.
I painted the closet door- Blue Lagoon.
Because it makes me smile.
And I need that.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Week 21 {Embrace the Camera}: Contradicting

I am a chaotic mix of contradictions.

I am excited.
I am sad.
I am energized.
I am worn clear through.
I am strong.
I am weak.
I am calm.
I am worried.
I am fearless.
I am fearful.

Our house inspection was yesterday.
Another hurdle crossed.
We haven't heard if we passed, so....
Everything can continue on as planned with the sale.
Or everything can come to a screeching halt.
Yes, our house is in good repair.
However, I cracked a window on the porch....
And we have an old carriage barn.... which, considering it's age is in good condition.

I'm borrowing trouble.

I ran into a lovely friend yesterday (who has walked this road with home inspections) and as we talked, I blurted out my worry to her. She consoled me and said she'd pray.
I asked if she'd pray with me right then and there- right where we were at.
She did.
[Side note: I am so blessed with prayer warrior friends who don't just say "I'll pray about that." but seriously do it.... and are immediate with it. This makes me mindful to do the same!]

I know I am borrowing trouble that is not yet mine and quite possibly won't be mine.
I must fight against this.
Which means I'm basically fighting against myself.... fighting against my propensity to gnaw and worry the "what if's".
I fight back with my only weapon....
With The Word.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
Psalm 56:3

Pray continually.
1 Thessalonians 5:17

And the verse I've continued to lean into since we put the house up for sale:

Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10a

Truly, that's all I can do.... all I need to do.
However- it goes against my very nature to be still. I'm a wiggler, a do-er, a fixer.... constantly moving. I can't even take notes without doodling.
So, this is obviously a lesson I still need to be learning. Hence, God is still, continually teaching it to me- which makes me so very thankful for his unending patience.
This house sale is teaching me. He is teaching me.
There is so much of this that is quite simply out of my control.
I truly do need to just be still

>>> Embrace the Camera is a year long challenge in which I agreed to take/have taken and post at least one photo of myself each week for 52 weeks. No editing out the wrinkles or digitally shrinking the waist line or cloning out the growing grey.... real pictures of the real me. Along with the photos comes bits and pieces of my heart- written out here as I walk this journey to capture the real me on camera for the remembering.
Click here for all cumulative weeks of the Embrace the Camera Challenge.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

House & Home & Farm Update


We've had an offer on the house.
We've accepted that offer.

And those two sentences right there don't do justice to what I'm feeling right now.
I'm all over it excited, sad and mostly overwhelmed.
God is so very, very good.

He has kept us close to Him during this and grown me so much.
And it's not over yet.
In fact, I think most of the growth is still yet to come as we wait for the paperwork and house inspection to go through and the closing date to creep closer.
We've got to pack up 20 years of lovin' & livin' in our sprawling house and condense it into a bit smaller quarters.... that we'll be sharing with my parents (for an unknown length of time).
I'm over-the-moon excited that our farm dreams are that much closer to becoming real deal reality....And trepidatious as I wonder if I can really do this.... pack it all up and leave.
Um... yeah. That.
You see- this right here that I wrote last fall is still true today.
All that I have that is good here-- I'm taking it with me.
I am also admitting to being a serious, sentimental fool.

This morning, as I walked back into our bedroom with a load of clean, folded clothes in my arms, I stopped and stared at the door frame.
The door frame on the left side- it marks in pencil-- my children's growth through the years.
Yes, we went old school and did a growth chart right on a permanent piece of the house.
And I can't take that with me.

These are the things creeping in on me. Is this how adventure always feels? Real, no-turning-back adventure? Fun and exciting yet scary and sad all at once?

People pack up and move all the time. Why should this be my struggle?
Goodness gracious, I'm only moving seven miles away.... we won't be saying good-bye to anything besides this here house. No changing jobs, churches, losing friends or any of that.
I'm clearly over-reacting.
How do I stop?

Very Near Future.... very
I'm a "look at the big picture first then chop it into bite size pieces" kind of gal.
If I don't like the looks of the big picture- I usually don't follow through with things.
I love the looks of the big picture here. 
It's us making our family farm dream come to fruition.
So it seems its the bite size pieces I'm choking on right now.

I look at all our stuff upon stuff upon stuff and think- how in the world will we pack all this up and move it in 6-8 weeks? How to I label boxes so I know where to find things and just where am I going to put all these boxes, boxes, boxes?

So what's a girl to do?
1. Soak in the Word.... only way I can walk or even crawl through this is with lots and lots of Jesus. Lots. (this is gonna include some pocket verses, seriously.)
Right now I'm reading from Psalms and Philippians.... two of my go-to books when I need remindering that my God is bigger and in control.
2. Work forward. -- My biggest downfall is what my Mr. Steady calls "borrowing trouble". I'm always ever looking forward to all that needs doing and all that could go wrong. To combat that I'm trying to simply focus on the next part of the project. Right now that is getting the farmhouse bedrooms (and hallway and room we're turning into the family closet) fixed and move-in-able. 
This is good work for me-- because painting doesn't require a lot of thinking and so instead I'm left with ample time to turn my thoughts towards prayer.
3. Pray continually. Arrow prayers, breath prayers, lengthy prayers, before you get up and before you sleep prayers, dinner prayers, folding laundry and making dinner prayers. This is key in getting through this move with a good attitude and good memories- loads of prayer.

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; 
thank God no matter what happens. 
This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

4. Count Thankfuls. Yes, it's common practice around here to jot down thankfuls every day but when things get hairy this can get set to the side "for later" and in all honesty, there are days when later doesn't happen. I don't like those days- too many days of not physically scribbling down my thankfuls makes me grumpish. I know this- so I must combat this and determine to keep my list going steady no matter what.

I will offer You my grateful heart, 
for I am Your unique creation, 
filled with wonder and awe.
You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;
Your works are wonderful;
I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.

Psalm 139:14

So that's where I'm at right now and where we're heading.... and may the fingerprints of God be on every piece and every moment of this adventure.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Week 20 {Embrace the Camera}: On being an auntie

I love being an auntie. Seriously. I love all the fun, the crazy, the hilarity.... doing stuff that makes the kiddos say, "we never get to do that at home" and then sending them home slightly sleep deprived, bellies full with our extra baking, and equipped with extra heaping helpings of extended family love, care and commitment.
I love telling tales on my siblings to their children. I love the reminiscing and thought induced cozy memories and rushes of love it gives me.
I love how it just seems to slow time down by bits and pieces when we have the nieces and nephews overnight.

When I married my Mister, I instantly became auntie to his six nieces and nephews (with two on the way). On that side, I am now auntie to eighteen kiddos plus great aunt to six sweet littles.
Obviously my side is a wee bit smaller. I have four nieces and nephews.... two of each, actually. We like even numbers.... yet I have 3 kiddos to their two each. Ah, but I digress.

This past weekend we had the wonderful privilege of having my brother's two kiddos stay over.

My niece is a sweet, shy, six year old-- she'll tell you she's six and a half.... halves count a lot more when your under ten, I think. Her brother is my Sammer's age and Sarah Bear is sandwiched between two (almost) 10 year old boys and my youngest niece Ree who's 3 (3.5). Sometimes I think she might feel like an "only" niece in the midst of that gap. My middle kiddo- Madsy just so happens to be Bear's favorite. Hands down.
But I'm thinking this Auntie may have made runner-up status this weekend.

This weekend I found out that Sare's love language is quality time and organization. *wink*
The Girl caught me digging through one of the end table drawers and saw all the goodness that we label "junk drawer" status inside.
She was smitten.

Next thing you know, that girl and I have pulled the drawer out and are sorting through it together with a plastic sack for trash on one side and organized piles of what-not on the other.
Sigh. Organization *Bliss*

As soon as we were done with the first drawer she was eyeballin' the other end table. We spent a wonderful hour tiding and organizing. That Girlie helped fill one whole bag for my 40 Bags in 40 Days (yes, from just two drawers- sigh). Girlfriend is straight-up helpful.
Of course, she was amply rewarded. She got to keep every bracelet and sticker we found.

Tidying makes one a wee bit famished so Sarah Bear (family nickname) and I commenced to making my favorite iced monkey bread for everyone to nosh on.
Girl likes to bake.

Sarah is a quiet, little girl when she's outside her comfort zone, but she crawled out of that shell and shared as we worked together. She chatted me up a storm. I love her voice and her dry wit. I love how she listened and trusted me as she tried new things. I love how she would wander her way and I'd wander mine but in a short while she'd pop up and find me again doing some project or other (like laundry) and she'd quickly offer her help.

That girl- she took me back.... to a time when my kiddos were littles. I pulled out Lu's old china tea set and got out miniature cookies & filled the tea pot with water. She served. We sat cross-legged on the family library floor (yes, we've got a little room we call the library & yes, I love it) and pulled out books to read..... books my kiddos haven't fingered or flipped the pages of in ages. She and I- we snuggled together on the couch with a flashlight and magnifying glass and spent a couple of hours trying to find Waldo together.
I was back in a state of little girl bliss.
My girls are seventeen and fourteen. I love their ages and the girl fun we get to have together, but pieces of me miss those younger years.... when each new task was a grand adventure and mama was the biggest, bestest thing in their universe.... I miss their tiny pippi's (what we called braids), tooth gap grins, little giggles and the way they'd mismatch their outfits. I miss little hands in mine and littles snuggled on my lap.
I am so very glad for the extra job of being an Auntie and how I can still experience these things and revisit these memories with my nieces. We watched Frozen with Sarah this weekend- she'd planned it all out. Her newest favorite movie, with a favorite snack (caramel corn) and sandwiched on the couch between a couple of her favorite cousins. As the credits rolled and the speakers spouted out "Let it Go, Let it Go...." those 3 girls filled their lungs and sang with gusto.
I loved it. [not the song necessarily- but the moment.]
*Bliss* to have that moment of watching those girls sing with abandon. To see Sarah smile and look up to her cousins with such love and awe.

We're planning to introduce her to a couple of our favorite musicals for her next visit.
Her daddy is gonna straight up love me when I introduce her to Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (FYI- not his favorite- not at all) and we get her singin' some of those tunes!

And guess what? My youngest niece Ree is coming on Friday. Squee!

I was more intentional about embracing the camera (camera phone) this weekend because of Sarah and how I knew these moments were special and I didn't want to forget them. I hope I've truly turned a corner with this embracing thing.... [I'm more than a third of the way through it now].

>>> Embrace the Camera is a year long challenge in which I agreed to take/have taken and post at least one photo of myself each week for 52 weeks. No editing out the wrinkles or digitally shrinking the waist line or cloning out the growing grey.... real pictures of the real me. Along with the photos comes bits and pieces of my heart- written out here as I walk this journey to capture the real me on camera for the remembering.
Click here for all cumulative weeks of the Embrace the Camera Challenge.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

FREE Printable: April Menu Plan and a few recipes for Easter Dinner

Not much of March left yet the snow keeps hanging on in these parts. 
Snow and mud.
It's not looking very pretty or very springlike but my April Menu Plan is the exact opposite.
I love this perky purple menu plan.
It makes me smile.
Spring will be here soon.
I hope.

April also means Easter.... 

Looking for simple (and frugal) ideas of your family's Easter Dinner?

Try this Easter Menu:
Ranch Potatoes
add a nice salad of spring greens 
or Cucumber & Mayo Salad
and for dessert.....
Chocolate Yogurt Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Do you have a favorite family recipe you like to make each year for Easter?
Please share!

Click here for the rest of my FREE menu plan printables.


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