Monday, September 18, 2017

What I've Been Reading

This was such a neat, unique book. It's somewhat of a 'prayer guide' for your daughter. Each chapter has a specific topic (her identity, her heart, her mind, her sanctification) and then subcategories within that (that she be pure, kept, content, undivided). Within the chapter, the author shares some thoughts on the particular issues or needs, a prayer for the mom's heart, and then several prayers for the daughter, with a blank to insert your daughter's name and make the prayer your own. It may seem silly or unnecessary, but the prayers are so beautifully written and I found myself thinking of all sorts of things that I want to pray for my daughter that I would not have otherwise thought of. This book reminds you that the spiritual part of parenting is even more important than the practical side, yet it's so easy for us to get lazy in that area or to be satisfied with 'the basics.' The only thing I'd add or improve would be adding women saints to inspire the girls or intercede for them (especially Mary as a spiritual mother and role model!), but the book is not Catholic. 3.5 out of 5. :)

[Thank you to Baker Publishing Group for my complimentary review copy. This contains my honest and original thoughts.]

This book pretty much rocked my world. I found myself reading it the same pace as a fiction book rather than a nonfiction. Katie's story is incredibly fascinating to me. I was deeply impacted by my own mission trip to Haiti several years ago, but I'm in awe of how her one mission trip inspired her to return to Uganda and live there (over ten years now!) and adopt 13 children as a single mother (although she has recently married and had a bio baby too!!). It's so radical, I couldn't help but want to read more about this girl. I have not read her first book but now I want to. I have a feeling I'd like this one better anyway, though, because she shares a lot about how she and her faith have changed and matured in the ten years. Her message transcends time and place and I had tears several times with the way she inspired me in my own relationship with Jesus, to go deeper in relationship, to trust in the hard, to be patient with His plan. The subtitle really sums it up well: "Finding God's Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful." 5 out of 5. 

[Thank you to Blogging for Books for my complimentary review copy. This contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Salsa of all Salsas

And this picture is exactly why I'm not a food blogger, y'all.

Ok, so not really about the "salsa of all salsas." When it comes to salsa, different strokes for different folks, you know? But this particular recipe is my favorite, so I'll share it with you anyway. It's a thicker style rather than watery and it has a rich, tomato-y taste as well as a kick of black pepper. You can modify the peppers to use more or less banana peppers or jalapeno peppers (swapping with green peppers) to change the heat. I would say it's medium as is, although if you leave the seeds in the jalapenos that might take it up to hot. Enjoy!

Amy's Mom's Salsa (gotta give credit where credit is due, haha!)

12 cups diced tomatoes
4 cups diced peppers (1 cup banana,1 cup jalapeno, & 2 cup green pepper)
2 cups diced onions
2 tsp red pepper seasoning (crushed red peppers)
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
6 tsp salt
3 6-oz cans tomato paste
2 tsp cumin
3 tsp black pepper
Combine all ingredients and boil 5 min.

This is how many containers it filled for me-- the smallest container is a 2 cup bowl
so you can see it makes quite a bit! The 'measuring cup' is actually a large mixing bowl (8 cups, maybe?)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Currently // September

New month. Almost a new season. September days are lovely. A quiet, subtle ushering in of the fall. Our weather is slowly changing but cooling down sooner than usual. I'm starting to think of book clubs and bowls of soup and picking apples and all the plaid. Here's what else I'm up to currently:

celebrating: with gratitude that our baby had a healthy heartbeat and was measuring right on track for growth. I know pregnancy can seem so natural and simple and resilient for so many people, but for us having experienced a loss before, we just don't take anything for granted. Every milestone is a celebration! We loved seeing our little bean and his or her precious heartbeat!

watching: Nothing. I'm still in the first trimester exhaustion phase and I go to bed shortly after the toddler. I miss staying up with my husband and our Poldark episodes. Hopefully by the time season 3 airs, I'll have more energy to stay up.

welcoming: people into our home despite the lack of perfection. We hosted two college-age missionaries from the Culture Project for dinner and overnight on their way east for training. Tonight we're hosting a national speaker for a last-minute dinner before his talk in our town (quite the feat with my "all day" morning sickness and finding out he is on the paleo diet! ha!). It's been a blessing to me to learn how to open our home with a loving and welcoming spirit even if the food or the decor or the cleanliness isn't exactly how I'd like it to be.

preparing: for all things fall. Mentally I'm preparing, that is...I could really get a move on with the physical prep-- like switching out summer clothes for cooler weather ones, stocking the pantry for soups and comfort food, outdoor work. I'm also starting to look for a new orchard or pumpkin patch to visit! Can't wait!

photographing: the occasional moments. Nothing fancy. But it's good to catch the little moments to remember. I was off instagram for the month of August and it was interesting to see that I sometimes failed to capture the little moments like I do when I post on instagram. I've always liked the way that particular social media encourages appreciating the little things in an ordinary day.

Linking up with Anne and Lowanda. Would love to hear what you're up to currently!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Seven Quick Takes // Happy Fri-yay!

1. My sweet girl is down for her nap and went to sleep relatively quietly. I hope our next baby is a better sleeper, but I wouldn't trade our G for anything. Just now I had one of those heart-melt moments when I looked at her asleep in her crib. She's just so beautiful and I can't believe she's ours. Yeah, all the heart eyes. :)

2. It's been a stressful week with a lot of pregnancy symptoms and some bad lab results. I had low levels of progesterone with G but mine are currently even lower than they were with her despite me being on maximum treatment. That's always discouraging and I can only hope baby is still alive and well and safe in there. My ultrasound is next week and that will (hopefully) be an encouragement that all is well. I was telling my husband how I understand the reality (and beauty!) that our children are gifts from God and His first, that He loves them more than we do, and that the goal for all of them is to be with Him in heaven someday...but when the fear of miscarriage taps at my heart, I realize how desperately I want to meet and know our baby here on earth first.

3. We have two missionaries coming for dinner and staying overnight with us while they make their way out East to a conference. They are from the Culture Project (check them out if you've never heard of it! SO fabulous!) and it will be fun to meet them and talk with them tonight! It's also been awhile since we hosted people for either dinner or overnight, so even that sounds fun. I'm busy getting fresh towels and little chocolates to put on their beds. :) #bedandbreakfastwannabe

4. I went to the dentist today for the first time in 2.5 years! That is the LONGEST I think I've ever waited between appointments-- my poor hygienist!! ;) No excuses, but it just took me that long from getting married and moving to finding a new local dentist. They were so great, though! Being a nurse, I always have high expectations for healthcare workers and they did not disappoint!! From the receptionist to the dentist, everyone was SO nice and caring and thorough. I think that's somewhat rare these days so I was so delighted. Plus my teeth are squeaky clean...time to start taking better care of them. On that note, do you have a favorite toothpaste? I prefer the natural stuff, but I just think baking soda and coconut oil might be too hard on my teeth for daily use...

5. I'm in JEANS today!! It is September 1st and feeling like FALL!! We didn't even hit 70 degrees today and there's a brisk wind. It's kinda crazy! I'm ready to make all the soups and brew all the tea and light all the candles now! But a part of me is sentimental and not quite ready to say farewell to summer. I didn't even make it to the new community pool!

6. So I've been reading this book and it's been very inspirational!! It's occasionally intimidating (the authors lived abroad a lot and seem to have endless money for projects/hosting/etc.) but I LOVE their emphasis on creating a warm and inviting home for your family and guests, and creating memories and moments for your children that will nurture them into a healthy adulthood. Have you ever heard of Sally Clarkson? She reminds me of Emilie Barnes. Quaintly old-fashioned yet full of some good wisdom.

7. I've been invited to several book clubs this fall in addition to hosting my usual one. Two of them are moms' groups and it's SO tempting to join because you can never have enough fellowship (plus one has free childcare!), but they're also 30 minutes away and I'm afraid of overcommitment this fall, especially since I'll still be in the first trimester. I'd be part of a total of four book club/Bible studies. ha. How do you balance stepping out for opportunities without overcommitting to stuff? 

Have a happy weekend, friends, and enjoy the holiday!! Oh, and I haven't forgotten about that salsa recipe...coming soon! ;)

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday Quick Takes

1. Hallelujah, we have internet again! Okay, so we were only without for a couple days...but it's nice to have it again! ;) We've had the same internet company for two years and twice they have tried to increase our rate but somehow we have continued to get the same promotion. This year, however, no go. They weren't having any of our sweet talk. So we cancelled! Ain't nobody got time for paying double the amount. At least not us. My neighbor had told me about a different company that was almost HALF the price of what we were currently paying! Yay! I switched but obviously everyone else did too because it's going to be two weeks until they can install it...but our generous neighbors are letting us use their Wifi until then. I just love our sweet Mayberry town and neighbors.

2. Speaking of neighbors, a random neighbor invited our whole neighborhood to her Pampered Chef party this weekend. I think I'm actually going to go! I don't think I really need anything for our kitchen, but I've always enjoyed Pampered Chef parties, and it might be fun to meet some new ladies from the neighborhood! Despite sometimes being pricey, there are a few PC thing that I LOVE-- like my glass mixing bowl or my potato peeler. What kitchen products do you like, Pampered Chef or otherwise?

3. And while we're talking about the kitchen...I am CRAVING homemade salsa. And not just any recipe, but my favorite recipe I make every fall. It's from my friend's mom and we've been making it for probably twenty years now!!! It is SO good and I've never tasted anything like it. Today I mixed up the spices and tomorrow I'll head to the farm market to get some peppers and tomatoes. Mmmm...I can't wait. I think I'll eat a bowl of it for each meal, ha!

4. On the cravings note, I'm really starting to feel all the preggo symptoms. Which is interesting with a toddler around. Thankfully, both her pregnancy and this one it's relatively mild, just uncomfortable. Like nausea, short of breath, and fatigue uncomfortable. But it's manageable. Most of the time. And when it's not, I just lie on the floor and let her crawl on me, haha!

5. Tonight we're headed to a surprise birthday party at good ol' Chuck E. Cheese! Despite what you may think, it's actually a party for an adult! ;) They disguised it by telling him it's a birthday party for a two-year-old, but little does he know when he arrives that we've all gathered there for his 30th birthday!! I haven't been there in years, but it sounds fun to see friends, play games, and have some (likely cheese-less?) pizza. :)

6. My husband is hitting one of the busy seasons of his job. The fall holds 40 Days for Life Campaign and Respect Life Month so he generally has lots of events and talks scheduled. In addition this year, he's has masterminded and organized and led a core team to host a diocese-wide conference on the problem of pornography. Matt Fradd is coming to speak and I really think it's going to be a powerful conference. We've already felt some of the spiritual warfare surrounding it all, and I know God will use this to free many people from such bondage. So proud of my hubs, but please pray for him and all the team and all those who will attend.

7. And finally, some baby photo dumping. Here are the latest shenanigans in our daily life:

We cook together.

We do laundry together.

We, um, dry dishes together?

And then we chill out together. ;) That smile, though.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Work of Creating a Home

There's no place like home. A safe, comfy, beautiful haven where we can let our guards down, relax, and enjoy ourselves. Where we can make memories with loved ones. Where we can be refreshed before going back out into the crazy and chaotic world.

But now that I stay at home full time with a baby-turning-toddler, I'm realizing how much work it takes to keep our home a haven! Oddly enough, it seems that the more often I'm home, the harder it is to keep it clean, warm, loving, and welcoming!

This past weekend was one of those where I was shamefully nitpicky to my poor husband. To be honest, weekends at home can be challenging for me these days. I've spent a long week of making and cleaning up messes and taking care of G, but my husband has spent a long week of working hard as director for his ministries. We're both exhausted but there are still meals to be made, messes to be cleaned, and a mini energizer bunny to keep up with. There's a tension inside me know both he and I desire a break, so who deserves it more?? (I know, I know. I'm not proud of these feelings, just keeping it real!). If I see him lying on the couch, I feel resentment building up inside, thinking he should be helping me do all the work around the house (and don't get me wrong, he often does help!).

Yet one day as I was driving alone in the car, I was reflecting on the situation and a totally different perspective settled in. Yes, it's a lot of work to create a home, but it's also a blessing to have that as a job! Like any job, there are exhausting moments, discouragement, frustration, and such. But what a satisfying feeling to know that because of your efforts, other feel comforted, welcomed, and restful. When my husband is lying on the couch, it's not that he's being lazy. It's that my efforts to create our home have given him a safe space to rejuvenate after his long days working hard in ministry. What a gift that I can provide that for him! It's so funny how just a change in perspective can change your whole attitude. Seeing things this way helps me to see my work as a gift, a privilege, even *gasp* a joy. It's rewarding to know that even the most mundane work that I do (dishes, laundry, meals) is sustaining a life-giving place for my loved ones to flourish.  While my husband will continue to help me around the house (grateful!) and while self-care and my needs are certainly an important balance to have with homemaking, I'm finding a renewed energy in my role. Instead of seeing the endless and monotonous, I'm seeing purpose and art.

Whether we're single, married, or mothers...whether we live in an apartment or house...whether we have lots of money or very little...I believe all women have the gift of an innate ability to create a home with beauty, comfort, and security. What are your favorite ways to create 'home' in your space?

Saturday, August 19, 2017


Little Miss G has a new role coming next spring. As you can see, she is still adjusting to the idea, but my husband and I are thrilled!