Thursday, December 31, 2015

Of Loss and Love: A Year in Review with Pictures

So I've been pretty sentimental today. I didn't expect it. It was mostly a normal day. I worked. We have no New Year's Eve plans. I'll be going to bed early from exhaustion. But this NYE stuff caught up with me. The reflecting on a year drawing to a close. So as I drove to and from work, I found myself reviewing the year.

And what. a. year.  Marriage. A home purchase. Losses that knocked the wind out of us. Joy that seeped into the cracked places of our hearts. New places and new friends...and always the treasured old.

Tears and smiles, awe and gratitude joined me in the car today. But more than anything, I felt grace. Grace all over the year, woven through the ups and downs. God's presence. His protection. And His providence.

Sometimes we need to look more closely at the small things to see beauty...but sometimes we also need to step back and look at the larger picture. Join me as I recount the big and small things of 2015?

January






I was knee-deep in wedding planning, a nervous but excited fiancee looking ahead to the biggest change in my life.

I accompanied P. (fiance at the time) and my bestie R. to the March for Life in Washington D.C. Always a powerful trip as we show our nation's leaders (and the few media channels that will cover it) that we believe every life is a gift and worth living.

P. was invited to lead the prayer for the opening of a House of Rep. session at our statehouse. Such an honor!! His brother, nephew, and I were tickled pink to join him!

February


We were blindsided by the sudden death of my father-in-law. By God's grace, all the family members were already in town for a Baptism (some live as far as the East Coast) and were able to stay together for the following week. The grief and shock were overwhelming. We were too young to lose a parent. I felt so inadequate to comfort my husband-to-be, yet was so deeply touched by the way his family banded together in their grief. I felt blessed to become part of this family, this legacy.

March


We found our house. Searching for a home during our seven-month engagement proved to be one of the most challenging things we did and possibly stretched us the most as a couple. But I'll never forget the day we saw this house...shortly after losing the bid on a previous home I had wanted. We both fell in love with the country view, the quaint two-story, and the white woodwork. Within a week, we had had our offer accepted.

April




My bachelorette party with my sisterhood. These girls. The ones who have been with me through the ups and downs of single life, relationships, faith struggles, and self-image woes. We have a history together...and a future. Their hearts were so generous in helping me plan and prepare for marriage. Some friends will stay in your life forever.

May


I stood face-to-face with the man who swept me off my feet and vowed to love him forever. I watched him cry as I walked up the aisle. We worshiped together in song after receiving our precious Jesus in the Eucharist. We were overjoyed at the church full of so many loved ones who traveled near and far to support us, pray with us, and celebrate with us.

June




After a crazy two-week stint of living in both our apartments (an hour apart) on a random schedule, we moved into our new home! My mom and dad get the highest praise here, I've never seen anyone work so hard in helped us pack and unpack. We also had a sweet band of friends who made endless rounds from the trailer to the house. I hope they move soon so we can begin to repay them!!

July


One of the most joyful and painful months of our lives. We learned I was pregnant. Those moments of awe that a little life is within you...soon changed to the agony of having the little life leave you too soon. We lost our sweet son, Ignatius, to miscarriage. Despite being only two months into our marriage, my husband was a rock for me. My mom and my sister were lifeblood. And all the women who came out of the woodwork and shared their own miscarriages gave me strength and hope that we, too, would get through this. I was most comforted by these words of Mother Angelica.

August





It's an odd thing to be an adult. Because somehow, you can grieve and rejoice at the same time. And so while we still carried our grief, we were also enjoying our first few months of marriage and life in our new home. We hosted about forty young adults at a local park for a summer party of sports, pizza, and a bonfire. Such a gift to have fellowship with solid, delightful people who share our love for Christ.

I took my first trip away from P. and enjoyed the annual girlfriends camping trip at the lake. Despite my tan for the wedding, I burnt to a crisp from too much lounging in the lake!

September


A friend H. and I began Courageous Women, our monthly Bible study. The book has been incredible, the friendships inspiring, and the food quite tasty!

October




In the wake of doctor's appointments, new diagnoses, and discouragement about my fertility, we decided to take a month to refocus and reprioritize. October was a simple, carefree month all about our marriage. We even took a little getaway to Amish Country when my husband was scheduled for a few talks there. I was so excited for him to experience a historic Bed and Breakfast (although I think he mostly just enjoyed watching me get so excited about it all). I found so much peace and joy in this month of surrender to the Lord and gratitude for the gift of our marriage.

November

The day after Thanksgiving my thankful heart overflowed when I got a positive pregnancy test. Despite my deep gratitude, I soon learned this time around there would be a battle with fear and anxiety. I wanted to be excited and joyful but I struggled with detachment and fear that we would lose this little one, too. I so desperately wanted to trust God, but what did that even look like in this situation? I couldn't trust that everything would turn out like I wanted it to...but I realized I could trust who God is, that He loved and willed this child into being, and that He had a plan for it. If that plan was to join Him in Heaven right way or if that plan included us meeting and raising this little one, God's will be done. He is good and He loves us in either outcome.

December

My Advent continued my struggle with fear but I could see grace reaching in, God teaching patiently, and my heart learning slowly. We still don't know what will happen in the months ahead, but I'm learning to treasure every day I carry this child beneath my heart. I'm learning to trust like Mary in the uncertainty of life just as she trusted God in her pregnancy. And there is joy. So much joy.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tuesday Talk #13

Want to join this week's link up? Grab our button below and link back to one of the hosts!


The hosts of Tuesday Talk

Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Elliott Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

You can join us on Pinterest, too!

Follow Sweet Little Ones's board Tuesday Talk Features on Pinterest.


Join the party, friends, by linking up with your favorite post from the week! Here's the scoop:


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy. He, the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute."

-Saint Augustine, qtd. in The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tuesday Talk #12: Merry Christmas!

It's a holiday break for me once again! Though this Advent season and Christmas preparation have been decidedly different and slower than most years (more on that later), there are still a few loose ends to tie this week before we celebrate the birth of Jesus! A few gifts to wrap, a few parties to attend, and a few recipes to make (Christmas Crunch, anyone?).

I pray in the midst of these last-minute preparations for all of us, we can find some time to be still. To reflect. To pray. To enjoy the greatest gift. May your last week of Advent be full of blessings and joy!

And a very merry Christmas from our house to yours!



Want to join this week's link up? Grab our button below and link back to one of the hosts!


The hosts of Tuesday Talk

Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Elliott Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

You can join us on Pinterest, too!

Follow Sweet Little Ones's board Tuesday Talk Features on Pinterest.


Join the party, friends, by linking up with your favorite post from the week! Here's the scoop:


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"Wise men are only wise because they make their priority the seeking of Christ.
All our moments, all our waking -- all the globe is a looking glass to God, and the wise keep seeking the presence of Christ in a thousand places, because you only come to yourself when you come to Him.
And your God, He's coming now, everywhere, for you."

-Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday Talk #11: Fear Not



It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Right?

Yet in the midst of the joyful preparations, the twinkling lights, the festive parties...I find myself experiencing some feelings that aren't so wonderful.

Fear. Worry.

We've had a couple different situations lately within our families that have been the cause of my anxiety. Yet I allowed those feelings snowball into habits of daily worry.

A few evenings ago, my husband was out of town and it was just me for the night. The Christmas tree was on and I lit the candles on the Advent wreath. But something was missing.

Peace. The tranquility that a night like this would normally bring me. It was then that I realized how much I had let fear take hold within me. It was becoming less about the outcomes of the family situations and more about my attempts to control them, my need to know the future, my exhausted efforts to go beyond my abilities. And I realized these were not just reactions and emotions anymore-- they were habits. They were symptoms of a deeper problem. My lack of trust in God. My lack of faith in Him. That He would be with me whatever the outcome. That He knows, He sees, and He is a good God.

I reflected on Mary, who carried the Son of God in her womb as she traveled with Joseph to Bethlehem. A journey we too often forget about in our hurry to celebrate the Nativity. It must have been a journey of hunger, fatigue, uncertainty. Did they wonder about their next meal, their next bed, the health of baby Jesus in all that traveling?

Yet God was with them. Literally. And He provided for them every single step of the journey.

Just as He does in our own uncertain paths.

I watched this video that evening (moms send us such good stuff!). About peace, About stillness. About trust. I cried through it. And I repented of my lack of faith. Of my desperate reaching for control when a loving God has it all in His hands.

I sat before the Advent candles burning before my manger scene--the one my mom bought for me years ago as a little girl and promised to give to me my first year of marriage. Tears drying on my face. I felt it. Maybe for the first time this season.

Because I had let go. Those hands that had held so tightly to a false control were now open to receive it.

His peace.

"And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people." -Luke 2:10



Want to join this week's link up? Grab our button below and link back to one of the hosts!


The hosts of Tuesday Talk

Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Elliott Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

You can join us on Pinterest, too!

Follow Sweet Little Ones's board Tuesday Talk Features on Pinterest.


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Monday, December 14, 2015

A Cookbook for Under the Tree


This book is a feast for your eyes. Seriously. My number one desire for a cookbook is a lot of pictures!! This one does not disappoint!

I'm a huge Food Network fan and their products (and their chef's products) are usually pretty trustworthy when it comes to quality. If you have not heard of Giada De Laurentiis before, she is one of the Food Network chefs, a lovely Italian with an infectious smile. This particular cookbook is a comprehensive one, including all the meals as well as snacks and treats and holiday cooking. It tends to focus on simplicity, enjoyment of cooking, and clean eating. 

I actually just enjoyed looking through and reading this book even when I wasn't in the kitchen! The ideas and pictures are delicious and it's fun to see the different topics. Most of the recipes were fairly healthy yet original and flavorful. I appreciated the variety as well-- casual breakfasts or gourmet dinners, even a section on "gifts from your kitchen." There were quite a few posed pictures of Giada herself throughout the book. At first I thought this seemed a little odd or too Hollywood, but then I also thought it does give a more personal feel to the book, like you're getting to know the chef and seeing her work with the recipes she shares. My other disclaimer would be that many recipes are not for the beginner chef (including myself in this category!). Though she does a great job explaining recipes, some of them just seemed a bit complicated or included ingredients that were above my budget or knowledge. It would be fun to branch out and make these for a special occasion but not for an everyday affair. However, she does have several other recipes that do fit my style, taste, and budget.

All in all, if you're looking for a gift for the chef in your family, this would make a lovely gift under the tree-- and would provide many future gifts on your table!

More Info on Happy Cooking (and a coupon code!)

About the Author (she went to cooking school in Paris!)

[This book was provided to me at no cost in exchange for a review. This review contains my honest and original thoughts. Thank you, Blogging for Books!]



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"So go to the window. Go to the hills, the desert, the corner, the back door, and be ravished and taken and awed, and you who were made by Love, made for love -- be still and know and watch love come down. 
The answer to deep anxiety is the deep adoration of God.
And the greatest gift we can give our great God to to let His love make us glad."

-Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tuesday Talk #10: Advent



This season. I love it.

No, not the gift wrapping and cooking baking and parties.

But the quiet moments, the holy hush, the sense of wonder and waiting and hopefulness.

Advent.

As crazy as I am about Christmas (and yes, I'm all into the decorating and the music and the festivities!), in the past few years I've fallen in love with Advent. I see the wisdom of the Church in giving us this season of preparation before the celebration.

Perhaps it's my deeper experience of the world. Of grief. Of brokenness. Of uncertainty and unfulfilled dreams. Advent reminds us in the midst of these things that there's more. There's a Savior who came to save us from these. A Savior who still comes. Who gives such hope and meaning to the events of our lives.

A Savior who took on our flesh. Who knows what it's like to be human. He understands. Our infinite, almighty, all-powerful God understands what it's like to be human...to feel pain and anxiety and weariness.

I think of His Mother, of her faithfulness in the unknown. Her trust in Him when her world was turned upside down. She simply took the next step then the next then the next...and because of her faithful steps, our whole world is changed.

Advent calls me to pause. To reflect. To quiet my soul. There's a holy hush, a waiting. But the waiting is anything but empty.

It's a pregnant waiting, full of purpose and meaning. Full of the Christ-child.

But we must receive Him before we can bear Him to the world.

Join me this Advent? Commit to a quiet time, whether in the morning or evening. Slow down, quiet down. Look for the presence of Christ within you and around you. Hear His voice of hope and joy and love. Let Him grow within you.

And then like His Mother, let us bring Him to those we encounter. Perhaps by our simple, faithful steps day by day, God will change the world through us.

Do you celebrate Advent? How do you seek out the silence? What do you find in the waiting?



Grab our button below and link back to one of the hosts!


The hosts of Tuesday Talk

Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Elliott Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

You can join us on Pinterest, too!

Follow Sweet Little Ones's board Tuesday Talk Features on Pinterest.


Join the party, friends, by linking up with your favorite post from the week! Here's the scoop:



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"The small Babe of Bethlehem, the dismissed Son of God, the stripped and beaten Messiah hanging exposed on the Tree -- He begs us to spend the attention of Advent on the little, the least, the lonely, the lost.
Because in the rush, in the hurry, in our addiction to speed -- it might just be a bit like stepping on the shoot that sprouts from the stump. [Isaiah 11:1-2]
Advent, it is made of the moments.
This slow unfurling of grace."

-Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

I'll be sharing passages this month from the above book I've been reading. This is a beautiful book for the hushed and holy season of preparation, of Advent. I look forward to sharing more with you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday Talk # 9: Holiday

I'm taking advantage of the holiday weekend and letting it squeeze into this week. No post today -- I'm still on Thanksgiving break. (wink, wink)

My house is a mess despite the fact we've been gone most of the past week. We visited my husband's family on one side of the state over Thanksgiving and my family on the other side of the state over the weekend.

We were home on short night in between the trips but it was enough for me to beg gently encourage my husband to bring every single box of Christmas decor up from the basement. And it is now sprawled all over our home, an odd mix of old fall decor like turkeys and leaves and pumpkin candles...and the new Christmas decor of greenery and colored lights and balsam fir candles.

Note to self: unpack from travels before unpacking Christmas boxes.

Got to learn to live in the mess!

How was your holiday? We're officially into the season of Advent, how do you use this time to prepare Him room?

Leave some comment love and or join the link-up party with your favorite post from the week!

If you link up, grab our button below and link back to one of the hosts!


The hosts of Tuesday Talk

Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Elliott Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

You can join us on Pinterest, too!

Follow Sweet Little Ones's board Tuesday Talk Features on Pinterest.


Join the party, friends, by linking up with your favorite post from the week! Here's the scoop:



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Talk #8: Thankful



Welcome to Turkey Talk! ...er...Tuesday Talk! Can you tell I'm excited for Thanksgiving?

What are your plans for the holiday? Are you trying out any fun new recipes? We'll be with my husband's family on the actual holiday and with my family over the weekend. I went super easy and boring with my contribution: mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. I was in the mood for traditional and simple instead of trying out new recipes (with all the cooking and meal planning I've done lately, I think I just wanted a break!).

Despite my love for holidays and all things seasonal, I also realize this can be a difficult time of year for so many! Loss and grief (we lost our baby through miscarriage and my husband's dad this year), severed family relationships, infertility, being single, poverty-- these are realities that leave a heaviness in our hearts, especially with the constant holiday commercials of perfect families and materialism.

So how do we deal with "less-than-perfect" holidays?

Gratitude. We are blessed. All of us. So blessed. If you're reading this, you have access to a computer and are literate-- both immense blessings we so often take for granted! We are safe (pray for the Syrian refugees!). We are warm (pray for the homeless!). We are loved (pray for those who are lonely, that they might know the love of our Savior...perhaps through your heart and hands and words!).

I'm counting my blessings this year and my heart overflows. Here are a few of the things I'm thankful for this year:

My Marriage. What a gift the it was to receive the sacrament of Matrimony this year with P. We just celebrated our 6-month anniversary this past weekend and we both agree there's been so much joy in these six months!

Our Home. It's been an adventure to be first-time home buyers this year, but how special to be celebrating our first holidays as a married couple in this house. It has truly become home in such a short time.

My Job. It stretches me mentally and emotionally so often, but what a gift to get paid to do what I love, to have a job that's also my passion and ministry.

My Family and Friends. I love people. And both P. and I feel we have so many amazing people in our lives. People who have taught us unconditional love, steadfast faith, and the importance of humor!

Ovens. I couldn't bake without one! On that note, I'm thankful for cookies, too!

My Bible study group. Beautiful fellowship, digging deep into the hearts of the women of the Old Testament while sharing our own.

My Cell Phone. Despite my frequent "media fasts," I'm so thankful for phone calls with my mom and sister, and text messaging with my precious girlfriends!

Books. I can't get enough of them. May I never take for granted the availability of them through libraries, bookstores, and online...as well as the ability to read and learn!

Blogging. Sweet reader, you enrich my life. Thank you for encouraging me to write. Thank you for welcoming me into your home while you sip a cup of tea. Thank you for receiving my heartthoughts with such kindness and support-- as a true kindred spirit.

Happy Thanksgiving to each one of you!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His mercy endures forever!" -Psalm 107:1

Grab our button below and link back to one of the hosts!


The hosts of Tuesday Talk

Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Free Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

You can join us on Pinterest, too!

Follow Sweet Little Ones's board Tuesday Talk Features on Pinterest.


Join the party, friends, by linking up with your favorite post from the week! Here's the scoop:



Sunday, November 22, 2015

Amish Christmas at North Star: A Book Review



Oh, friends. It's almost that time of year. Even just the cover of this book gives me a warm and cozy feeling inside!! 

I've long been a fan of Christmas stories. It began when my mom would read them to my siblings and me during the holiday season...and somehow, I never grew out of loving them (Christmas stories, that is. Not my family. I mean, I still love them, too. You know what I mean.). 

This particular collection of novellas has an additional perk to it: the stories are not only about Christmastime but also about the Amish. There's such a beautiful simplicity and charm about their lifestyle. It reminds me of the pioneers' lifestyle of simplicity, hard work, and care for community. 

But I digress. This book is delightful. I loved curling up with it these past couple weeks and getting to know the characters. I also am a sucker for novellas. Some novellas can be cheesy but these were nice quality. Two of the authors, Cindy Woodsmall and Mindy Starns Clark, were authors I've previously read and enjoyed. I also appreciated that each of the novellas were tied together by a specific story in the beginning and all took place in the same town, with a few cross-overs of characters. My favorite story was probably Guiding Star, the first novella. It would make a great Hallmark movie! Mourning Star was intriguing as an Amish Christmas mystery novella-- a funny mix of genres! In the Stars was perhaps my least favorite but I still enjoyed it. Star of Grace was written by one of my all-time favorite authors. 

This would not be a top five favorite Christmas book (because hey, there are just too many amazing Christmas classics!) but I was definitely pleased with the quality of the writing and the enjoyable holiday settings of this book! It was a perfect start to my Christmas reading for the season! Four stars. 

Want more information on this book?


[Thank you to Blogging for Books for sending me a copy of this book at no charge. This review contains my honest and original comments.]

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wisdom for Wednesdays

"While other creeds endeavor to get us out of the world and into heaven, in Christianity, heaven comes down and Christ comes into this world to get us. To suffer with us. We find favor-- only because Christ feels pain."

 -The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp

[Heaven comes down to us...yes. Especially in the Eucharist we receive in the Mass. God is so good that He wants to be with us, to be one with us. So good.]

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday Talk # 7: Meal Planning and a Pinterest Fail


Good morning and welcome to Tuesday Talk! We're glad you're here! Check out all the fun posts from friends on the link-up and add your own, too!

Any chance you know what you're making for dinner tonight? A few weeks ago I would have answered that question with a sad shrug, painful grimace, or with my head inside the freezer or pantry desperately searching for options. Yet now I'm actually excited to answer that question. 

The miraculous change? Meal planning. I've jumped on the meal planning bandwagon.

I'm still pretty casual about it. I'm not using printables, or systems, or excel charts. I'm must using a cute notepad that is divided into the days of the week on each sheet. On the front of the sheet (with the days of the week), I write out our schedules so that I know which nights P. will be working (which equals simple dinner for one while I watch some episodes!!). Then under each day I write what recipe/meal I plan to make (sometimes "leftovers" gets written in, and that's okay!). I'm usually browsing my Pinterest boards or perusing a cookbook while I'm making out the meal plan so that I can see what ingredients I'll need to buy. Turn the meal plan sheet over and bam! You've got yourself a blank sheet for a grocery list. (I know. Fancy. But it works.)

This small routine has done wonders for me. I feel less pressure on busy work days because I've planned healthy, hearty meals on the previous weekend or my days off so that we'll have leftovers those days. I end up making about 3-4 recipes a week, and the other days we are eating the leftovers or something more simple (hello, frozen pizza). Ideally, I'd like to eventually stock the freezer with meals for those busy days, but hey. It's a journey.

Ready for some winning recipes from the past couple weeks??


Autumn Lasagna -- This baby was amazing. Know that you will be in the kitchen all afternoon, so if you don't love a cooking adventure, this is not the recipe for you. I made it on a Sunday afternoon, pulled up a marriage podcast on my computer to listen to, and thoroughly enjoyed time in the kitchen. Three HEADS of roasted garlic and two butternut squash go into this bad boy. Word of advice: it's so unique I didn't want leftovers over and over, so I froze individual portions for when I'm hungry for it again.


Holy Yum Chicken -- We had dinner guests last Friday night and this was my main dish. I highly recommend it for entertaining! It's elegant yet simple-- and very little last-minute cooking with it. You throw it together, pop it in the oven, and the only thing just before serving is some cornstarch to thicken the sauce. I served it with roasted veggies, multigrain French loaf, and apple-walnut salad. (And the Pinterest fail...more on that later.) 


Kung Pao Chicken -- This is an ideal weeknight dinner. Chicken in the crockpot with your favorite Chinese sauce, add some veggies an hour before serving and cut up the cooked chicken. It was delish. 


Pumpkin Penne -- I made this for myself while my husband was in D.C. for work. I figured he probably wouldn't mind since a few days prior he had asked me, "When is pumpkin cooking season over?" with a hopeful face that it was soon. (I think he had had his fill of that delightful fall bounty.)

What's that you say? Oh. Right. I promised you a Pinterest fail. Alright, friends. No laughing. It can happen to the best of us. (Okay. You can totally laugh. It's hilarious.)

Ever tried making "Cookie Cups" for ice cream using cookie dough and an upside-down muffin tin?

Um. Don't.



 But there's a happy ending. I cut around the mess and they made decent cookie cups and the guests loved them. (And we had some extra laughs.)

Have a great week, friends! I'd love to hear about your favorite recipes lately-- and any Pinterest fails!!



Grab our button below and link back to one of the hosts!


The hosts of Tuesday Talk

Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Free Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

You can join us on Pinterest, too!

Follow Sweet Little Ones's board Tuesday Talk Features on Pinterest.


Join the party, friends, by linking up with your favorite post from the week! Here's the scoop:



Monday, November 16, 2015

Fall Bookshelf: Two Reviews


We've all seen the social media shares on the recent undercover videos of Planned Parenthood employees discussing different abortion procedures, tissue procuring and sales. While it's atrocious and important for us not to turn a blind eye, I also realize different people are led to the truth in different ways. 

Abby Johnson was a beautiful young woman desiring to help other women when she first happened upon a Planned Parenthood booth at a college health fair. This book chronicles her journey through volunteering with them and eventually being hired by them and becoming a Planned Parenthood director. It also shares of her first hands-on experience with an abortion and how that one instance completely changed her views on whether Planned Parenthood was 'helping' women. Her story is incredible and God's grace is woven so beautifully throughout. This book reads like a novel-- I couldn't put it down! Abby's heart for others and her loving way of sharing the truth is powerful. Whatever your view on abortion or Planned Parenthood, this is the one book to read on these topics. Five stars, Abby. Thank you for your witness.

[This book was provided to me by Tyndale Publishers at no cost, in exchange for a review. These are my honest and original thoughts concerning the book. Thank you, Tyndale!]


I'm fascinated by the idea of working at home. Of small businesses. Of women entrepreneurs. Etsy shops make me dance inside. So when I saw Crystal Paine's new book Money Making Mom up for reviewing, I was all about it. The subtitle is even more appealed: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference. 

P.and I both work for nonprofits. While we're both passionate about our jobs, we're also not climbing the financial ladder (and after seeing kids in Haiti, we're okay with that). Yet someday as God grows our family, we'd like for me to have more time with them at home, whether that mean working fewer hours and staying at home full-time. The crazy reality of this is that as our family gets bigger, our income will get smaller. 

Enter this book. Crystal is wonderful at empowering women to seek out their God-given talents, skills, and passions and to use them to create more income for their families. In the past, I've taught CPR classes, piano lessons, braided hair for dance recitals, and babysat. I was interested to see if this book could coach me in utilizing any of those skills (as well as my hobbies of blogging and crafting) in a business down the road. 

However, I have mixed feelings on this book. The pros: it's written very well. It's full of step by step guidance and encouragement. Crystal's heart and authenticity is apparent in her writing. The cons: personally, I don't want to grow a huge business that would become a full-time job. I simply want to make some extra money on the side to help our family in the long run. My ideas are somewhat smaller, and the ideas or instructions in the book intimidated or overwhelmed me at times. All in all, I  do think it's a great reference, and I will likely use it in the coming years for resources, encouragement, and ideas. I give it four stars. 

[Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for sending me a copy of this book at no cost to me. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]


Saturday, November 14, 2015

What a Dog and Instagram Taught Me About My Relationship With God

I was on a walk this afternoon with our Little Dog. He's a tiny guy who will sit in your lap all day unless the front door is open, in which case he will escape and run for miles like the child of a rabbit and a white-tailed deer. While I was blissfully enjoying the sunshine and farmland on our walk, the Little Dog came across a small animal, broke the leash, and was off to the races leaving me in his dust...

Want to read more? I was over blogging at the Catholic Sip this week, drawing inspiration from our crazy little Brogan-dog. (They have a great podcast you might enjoy as well!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tuesday Talk # 6: Closet Craziness


Hello, sweet friends!

Welcome to Tuesday Talk! Scroll down below to visit all the links, and make sure to stop by each of the hosts!

This past week was one reminiscent of my single girl days. No meal planning, no cleaning, and lots of ice cream and episodes.

My husband was in Washington D.C. this past week for work, taking a course to receive a certificate in Catholic social teaching. So it was just me and the Little Dog on the homefront. I couldn't believe how much I missed him. I guess six months of marriage will do that to you. (YES! Six months on the 22nd!! Time flies when you're in love!)

But since there was no jumping on a plane to D.C. (only in my dreams or the latest chick flick), I did the next best thing.

Clean out my closet.

I know. It's sad how much I enjoy organizing. But this, this closet was a job that meant calling in reinforcements: my mom and my sister (and my stinkin' cute 18-month-old niece).

Three hours and three garbage bags later, my closet is clean. And organized. And simplified. I can now walk in without stepping on something or having something fall on top of me. Life is good.

Yes, I'll share the pics but trust me, you have to see this in person. (Seriously, come visit me! I'll make you pumpkin bread and hot apple cider!)

Before. Definitely before. I did not wear half these clothes.

After. Simplified and stream-lined. I no longer feel like I should be on Hoarders.

Next stop: the freezer...(should I be embarrassed for showing you these??)


What are your disaster areas? What are your favorite tips for organizing or simply being motivated to organize?

Give me some comment love and then check out the other chatter this Tuesday morning.


The hosts of Tuesday Talk

Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Free Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

You can join us on Pinterest, too!

Follow Sweet Little Ones's board Tuesday Talk Features on Pinterest.


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