Friday, October 30, 2009

A Redeeming God

Last night I had the opportunity to get together with a friend of mine who is going through a really rough time in her life. Certainly not something she would have chosen had she been given a list earlier in life of things she would choose to endure. Actually, I have had that same opportunity with a number of different friends over the years and I have always come away in complete awe of who God is and how he can take any circumstance and redeem it for his glory. The 3 particular women that I am thinking of have had to face hard times, really hard times, all with their own unique set of circumstances. Each of them has shed many tears over the heartaches that have come. I have cried right along with them. Each of them loves the Lord. And each of them has had a choice. They could get really mad at God, and maybe they have. They could ask God why they had to go through this pain, and they probably do. They could have pity-parties and withdraw from everyone. Who could blame them? Finally, they could turn their backs on their God, their Maker and Creator, the One who loves them more than anyone else possibly could. And they have not! Last night, as in the past, I came home rejoicing and in amazement at how God loves to take ugly situations, sad situations, really REALLY hard situations and redeem them. These women have shown me what it means to love the Lord. These women have shown me what faith truly does look like. These women have pointed me to a loving God that hasn't promised an easy life but has promised to be with you no matter how difficult the road may be. He promises to carry you. He promises to uphold you. He promises never to leave you. He promises never to stop loving you. I am so blessed to have these women in my life. To have this glimpse of what true faith looks like, faith during the hard times. I always wonder what my faith would look like if those circumstances happened to me. And they may. But will my faith sustain me? Will I have the strength and hope and trust in my Lord as these women do? Each of them would say they are not strong. Each of them would say their hope and trust is shaky. But each of them is testament to the saving power of Jesus Christ. To the hope that only he can give. Has their situation changed? No. Have they changed? Absolutely! I am so thankful to have these women in my life. And I can only pray that when the trials come to my life that I will become as pure gold, just as they have.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nothing Like Homemade Pizza

Fridays around here have been Pizza Fridays for a long time (well, okay, they were around for a while, then they weren't and now they are back again). And for us that means homemade pizza! To me, you just can't beat the taste of a lovingly handmade pizza hot from your own oven. I haven't found a frozen pizza that doesn't taste like cardboard and ordering in? Well, I am not too fond of the places we have close by. So, a couple of years ago, I made a search online for some pizza recipes that I could try. I found these and haven't turned back since!

If you are looking for a tender and chewy crust that rises oh-so nicely, this is the recipe to try! I honestly have no idea where I got this from but it is not my original recipe.


1 1/3 cup (scant) warm-hot water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons cornmeal
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

Place water, sugar, salt, yeast and olive oil in bowl of mixer and dissolve sugar, salt and yeast. Stir in remaining ingredients and knead with dough hook to form a soft but not-too-sticky dough, about 8 minutes. Remove from machine and allow to rest, covered with a tea towel, about 45 minutes. Prepare pizza as desired and bake in a 425F oven for 18-20 minutes.

*(though I know some will say "It is nothing like Pizza Hut's dough" - hey, that's the name that was on it when I got it and it tastes good so I don't care!)
** Sometimes, I will make a batch of dough to bake into breadsticks. Just take the dough, after it is done resting, roll into a jelly roll pan (I use stoneware), brush with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt, then bake. Cut into sticks and enjoy.

If you are looking for a great tasting sauce recipe, I love this one for the "regular" pizzas, like pepperoni, ham & pineapple, etc. It is also great warmed and used to dip breadsticks.

1 6-ounce can tomato paste
3/4 cup warm-hot water
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspooon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
salt to taste

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients; mix together, breaking up any clumps of cheese (also works great to blend it with the Magic Bullet). Sauce should sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors; spread over pizza dough and prepare pizza as desired.

My absolute favorite pizza, for its tastiness and ease of preparation, would be this one, featured in a Pampered Chef cookbook called Seasons Best Fall/Winter 2005. I make this pizza often and, though the combination of ingredients seems bizarre, it is just fantastic!


Mole Sauce
1/4 cup barbeque sauce***
2 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tsp creamy peanut butter
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1 tsp lime juice
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 plum tomato, sliced
8 oz cooked chicken, chopped (2 cups)
1 green pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup chopped onion *
1/4 cup pitted ripe olives, sliced *
1 pre-baked pizza crust (I use my regular pizza crust recipe, not pre-baked)
4 oz marble cheese, grated (1 cup)
1 tbsp snipped fresh cilantro *

*Due to personal taste, we omit these
**I love pizza sauce so I often double this recipe
***The barbeque sauce you choose will change the taste of this sauce. My favorite to use, which creates a zippy but tasty sauce, is President's Choice Smokin' Habenero! Oh so good!

Preheat oven to 425F. For mole sauce, combine barbecue sauce, chocolate chips, peanut butter, chili powder, lime juice and garlic. Microwave on high 30-60 seconds, stirring after 30 seconds, until melted and smooth; set aside. For pizza, slice tomato, chop chicken and green pepper; set aside. Chop onion. Slice olives. Combine chicken, green pepper, onion and olives in a bowl. Place pizza crust on pizza stone; spread mole sauce over crust to within 1/2 inch of edge.
Evenly spoon chicken mixture over pizza. Arrange tomato slices around edge of crust. Grate cheese over pizza. Slice cilantro; set aside. Bake 18-20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven; sprinkle with cilantro. Cut into wedges and serve.

Finally, this pizza I don't make very often, because I don't always have the ingredients on hand, but it tastes AMAZING!!! I love alfredo so this pizza just made sense. It comes from a cookbook called "Don't Panic - Dinner's In The Freezer."


Alfredo Sauce
1/4 cup butter
scant 1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 pizza crust
10 large fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
6 green onions, sliced diagonally, including tops
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, cooked until crisp
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Swiss cheese

For sauce: Melt butter in large saucepan or skillet. Add cream and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat under pan.

For pizza: Roll out pizza dough to form crust. Spread alfredo sauce evenly over pizza crust. Arrange spinach leaves over sauce. Add green onions, shredded chicken, and bacon. Sprinkle cheeses over top. Preheat oven to 450F. Bake 15 minutes or until bubbly.

One thing I learned recently about pizza crusts - if it goes into the oven sticking, it will come out sticking. So add more flour to make sure the dough is not too sticky.

I love to use my Pampered Chef stoneware pan to make pizzas but just recently bought 4-7" pizza pans for the kids from Epicure. They are heavily perforated aluminum and make perfect personal pizzas. Now the kids can have whatever kind of pizza they want and so can we!

I am always interested in new pizza recipes so if you have any, send them my way! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you find at least one recipe you enjoy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Country Dream Come True!

{This post may get a little long! Consider yourself warned!}

Since forever and a day, I have always wanted to live in the country. I grew up on about 15 acres of land and loved to wander the bush in search of wildflowers, wild life and anything else wild. The untouched country always left me feeling so happy and content, like everything was as it should be. I spent hours outside, in sunshine and rain, cold and warmth. I was MEANT to be a country girl (well, except for the poison ivy, which I got EVERY year. With intense reaction. I loved Prednisone. I eventually had a doctor tell me that I was meant to live on CONCRETE! Who, me? No, thank you!) So, this whole living in town thing has been a little bit hard for me. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the convenience of everything being so close by - the grocery store, the post office, the hardware store, MCC - all the good stuff. And I really REALLY love my neighbours. They are wonderful people. But a lot sized 70x130 is just not quite big enough for this country girl. Even if we can see horses and sheep from my bedroom window.

Back track a few years. A man who was Jay's neighbour while he was growing up approached Jay about 3, maybe 4, years ago to see if we were interested in buying his property when he retired and moved away. His 5 acre property. With trees. Lots of them. We said absolutely were we interested. So, time went on and about 1 1/2 years ago he approaches Jay again and says he is ready to sell. He told us the price and we couldn't refuse. So, we went to our lawyer together to start this whole process. Turns out the man is separated from his wife, has no idea where she lives or who her lawyer is. We attempted to find her but couldn't. Eventually he found out that she had another lawyer. In his mind, another lawyer meant she wanted a divorce and he wasn't about to give one. End of process. Man, were we disappointed. That location would have been so perfect. 1/4 mile away from Jay's parents. 1 mile as the crow flies from Jay's work. 5 acres with lots of trees. And the best part? A house trailer! Yup, this lot has a house trailer so we can move it off or burn it up or tear it down or whatever and BUILD A HOUSE!!!! Can you get any better than that? But it was not to be. At least not then. Over and over Jay kept saying how great that property would be. Over and over I kept telling him to just let it go. It wasn't for us. We should pursue other land options, plant trees, start from scratch. I was wrong. There, you have it in writing, dear - I was wrong!! This past summer the man reapproaches Jay and says he is ready to sell. Again. This time he knows where his now ex-wife is, who her lawyer is, where she lives, all that good stuff. Kind of important things to know when the property is in joint ownership. Since then we have been back and forth in this whole property purchase thing. It gets a little . . . drawn out when the sellers are divorced and have no money. This is their opportunity to get money out of each other. Or booster cables. Or pruning shears. So, the process took a lot longer than we hoped but finally - fiiiiiiiiiiiiinnallyyyyyyyyyyy we have possession of the property as of today!! What a great day it has turned out to be. So, of course, with my curious nature, a field trip was necessary as I had never stepped foot on this property. Jay had been there a number of times but not me. And the curiosity was getting the better of me! So, off we went to my new country home!

The agreement was that whatever was left on the property on possession day was ours. He could take or leave whatever he wanted seeing as we really only wanted the land. So, the question was: What was in the trailer? What was in the sheds? Exploring we went!

Driving on the driveway for the first time! The excitement is mounting!

The front part of the lot. Aren't those tall pines just beautiful?

The back half of the lot. I feel like I am standing in a meadow with all that tall grass. I may just have to go back and get some pictures of the kids in it!

The neighbour's kitty that Ali found - she was in love, squealing with delight! It felt SO right. (The kids have been praying for the dogs and the cats we will have when we are in the country and for the dog food and cat food we can buy when we are in the country!)

2 of the 3 sheds. The first one in the trees is full of garbage and is in really bad shape. The one closer to the front of the picture holds tool-y stuff and is in fair shape.

The last shed closest to the trailer. It holds - get this - about 200 canning jars! Isn't that hilarious? And, I just may keep them. Or, at least some of them!

The house trailer still has the fridge, stove, washer, dryer - that sort of thing. Also, an old dresser that I am certainly keeping and will try to redo and beautify. It just may come in handy somewhere.

I am sure the big question you are asking is when are we moving. Well, unfortunately, not this year. Not even next year. Maybe 2 years? 3? Certainly not 4! However, I would be willing to wait 4 if it meant being able to afford the house we really want - our dream house - as opposed to building something sooner that is not quite what we want. For now, I am content to know the property is ours, the first step has been accomplished. I feel so blessed to know that sometime soon (because we all know time flies!) this country land will not just hold our dreams but that those dreams will come true! Thank you, Lord!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Growing Up & Crawling Away!

As is obvious from the title, my littlest babe has mastered the art of crawling! As is usual with my kids, she took the easier approach at first with the commando arm-over-arm army-style of crawl but has recently switched to the traditional method of crawling. And, although I am happy for her developmental progress, it makes me a little sad. See, at this point in the lives of all my other kids, my thoughts would begin to switch to the next baby. After all, little Ari is 8 months old, she is crawling, I am no longer breast-feeding (well, haven't been for a while) - all signs that a new baby would soon be on the way. Not this time. Nope, we decided 5 is all this house and my body can handle. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE being pregnant. I mean, really, really love it. I don't care about the morning sickness or the intense fatigue, the aches and pains or any of the other things - I love being pregnant. I believe I am happiest when a child is growing in my womb. Granted, with each additional pregnancy, I spend more time at the chiropractor as my sacro-iliac joint gets worse and worse and I am afraid to make any move for fear of causing it to separate. That's no fun and neither are the weekly trips in to get adjusted. If it were up to me - and only me - we would have another baby. And another. But the whole family suffers when I am in pain. So, I am a little sad that no other baby will grow in secret in my womb, no other baby will nurse at my breast, no other baby will be completely helpless to move about unless I help him/her. So, although mommy is a little sad, grow on, little Ari! Live and move and have your being! I am so blessed to be your mother. I am so happy you are a part of our family. I am so proud of how you are growing and crawling. Just try not to eat every piece of garbage you find on the floor, okay? ☺

Monday, October 19, 2009

Keeping It Real - The Laundry

A long while ago I posted a blog about my victory in conquering the laundry. It was my little way of patting myself on the back for accomplishing something that I have not since replicated. As I was down in the pit of laundry this afternoon, I thought it was time to show you the real picture of how laundry usually looks around here. And it certainly doesn't involve empty baskets or hampers. Well, it might if all the laundry is spread on the floor and not yet sorted (which it usually is). Not today. Today I sorted it first then took this picture (so, I guess this is only half real). Here it is:

Yup, 11 loads (because some of those dividers are so jammed full they would fill 2 loads of the washer). And it doesn't contain one piece of J's or my clothing. Just the kids' stuff. And there is no bath towels. Plus I already did 2 loads of bedding. Might be a sign we have too many clothes in this house. Or a maid that is on strike. Most certainly the reason I have never entertained the idea of cloth diapers. But, whatever. Just wanted to keep it real!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lists . . . Updated!

So, last week Tuesday (that would be 1 1/2 weeks ago) I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish in the period of one week. I thought I would let you know how it went.
  1. Make supper (you like how I have to put this on the list? 5 pm rolls around and I have simply FORGOTTEN to make supper. I have had this jar of dry chili mix sitting on the counter for days. Today is the day!) I have been much better with this, actually making a meal most of the days and having it planned or made by lunch time! Yeah for me!
  2. Put away laundry (the laundry that has been sitting in the basket for days). Well, this is never-ending. Yes, I did put some away but created more so I think I won't put this on the list again - it depresses me that it is always undone!
  3. Clean up my bedroom. (I believe your bedroom should be a sanctuary, a retreat from the chaos that envelops the rest of the house. Our bedroom is the worst room in the house, well, next to the office. See #4). My room is amazingly clean right now (well, for me, anyway). And feels so much like a sanctuary. Especially since I have made the bed everyday - something else I don't usually do. The room looks so pretty when it is clean and tidy! Who would have thought??!!
  4. Clean up the office. Still working on this one.
  5. Vacuum carpets. (The only carpets in our house are in our bedroom and the office. Which are so messy you cannot really see the floor. Thus, #3 and #4.) Did the bedroom but not the office. Not clean enough yet.
  6. Clean up garage from the garage sale. Did a very little bit. Still lots to do. Van still parks outside. You think that would be motivation. Maybe tomorrow?
  7. Post maternity clothes online. Uh, nope.
  8. Decorate for fall. (This I would rather have at #1 and then skip the rest of the list). YES I DID!!
  9. Clean bathrooms. (They are okay for now but won't be when I actually get to this!) Yup!
  10. Sort lego. (Subject for another post another day!) Done!
Lessons learned? Don't make a list with 10 things on it and expect to finish it in one day. Like, really! What was I thinking? So, now I have a notebook with a master list of things that need to be accomplished. I take 3-5 of them and make a daily list. If I get them done, they get checked off the master list, the one that is never-ending, and move on to the next thing. If I don't get it done, it stays on the list until it does. We will see how this goes. My goal is to make myself feel good for having accomplished my list, not make myself feel like a failure because 90% of the list is not completed! Make sense?


Remember this beautiful orange chair I bought at our local MCC this past summer? Well, it is currently sitting in various states of disrepair as I am removing all the fabric in hopes of recovering it. Not hopes, I guess. Plans to recover it. Definate plans. The holdup was the new fabric I wanted but couldn't find. Until today. I found it! I actually found the exact fabric I wanted and let me tell you - it is gorgeous! Oh my goodness, is that chair going to be unbelievable when it is actually done. And, no, I will neither show you the material or tell you what it looks like because that would ruin the surprise. But, I promise you, it will be gorgeous! Absolutely incredible! Just thought you should know!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

White Bunkbeds . . . So Hard To Find!

As I mentioned earlier, the master bedroom should be a retreat. A getaway from the chaos that envelopes the rest of the house. A getaway from the kids. Kinda hard when the youngest kid is sharing that space with you. Eventually we will send her downstairs to share her sisters room but for now she sleeps in our room. Don't get me wrong, I love to look at her sleeping or see her smiling face. It's the snoring that keeps me awake or the babbling I hear that reminds me I have no retreat, no place of my own. In order for her to join her sisters, a different bedding arrangement will need to happen. We already have 2 cribs in that room - adding a playpen just wouldn't work. Too little space. So, we are on the hunt for bunkbeds with a trundle bed. White ones, to be exact. And they are proving to be harder to find than I had thought. Everything white in store is metal. And I don't want metal. I have looked on line. Everything on line is in the USA and won't ship to Canada. Or they will ship if you pay some astronomical price. Finally, last night, Jay found this website and a number of beautiful white bunkbeds. Not exactly cheap but cheaper than the white ones you can custom order at the furniture store. I am also a little particular. No spindles. I want pretty. Feminine. These are some of my favorites:

"Lea Getaway Bunkbed"
I wish the picture showed the footboard or headboard a little better. It looks really lovely but I think the angle is bad. Plus they state that the newest design of these has changed the finials to flat rather than rounded. Do they mean the whole headboard/footboard? Still very lovely.

"Lea Freetime Bunk Bed"
I am not as keen on the squareness of it but still find it charming!

"Lea Caroline Retreat Bunkbed"
Still square but a bit softer looking.

"Tradewins The Hampton Bunkbed"
Really like this one! Is feminine, pretty and has a softness to it!

UPDATE: We decided to order this one. I love the curves, the bun feet, the finials, the wainscot look - RJ saw it and said she wanted to sleep in this bed because it looked cozy!

UPDATED . . . AGAIN: A few days after we ordered this bed, we got an email saying that it is discontinued and not available to ship! Hmmpf! So, we ordered the Lea Carolina Retreat instead. Still has the wainscot look, the bun feet and some curves. Still very pretty. And they gave us a 5% discount for the hassle.

"Lea My Style Bunkbed"
This is gorgeous in black but also comes in a white finish. The headboard and footboard aren't quite as solid as the Tradewins but still beautiful.

Turns out Lea is a Lay Z Boy company and some of these are actually made out of hardwoods. Most of them have other color choices as well. So, at least now we have options. I only have to figure out which one I like best. Which is your favorite?


Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Little Early, Wouldn't You Say?

Remember those few snowflakes I talked about in yesterday's Fall Decor post? Well, those few snowflakes turned into this:

A little early, wouldn't you say? And the forecast is for more. Yuck!

Friday, October 9, 2009

DIY Autumn Wreath

As I mentioned in my previous post, I created an autumn wreath for my front door. I had looked around at ready-made wreaths but was either unimpressed with the wreath itself or the price. I decided to make my own. Now, I am generally not a fan of artificial . . . come on, let's call it what it is - fake. I am not a fan of fake, man-made, plastic-y flowers, fruit, greenery, plants, etc. I stretched myself with this creation as I used exactly those things I have always shunned! I decided to stop and browse in the fake greenery aisle at Dollarama. Not something I have ever done. And I was slightly surprised at the various items I found. I gathered a few and thought I could probably come up with some sort of wreath that looked good - or at least better than the ones I had seen in other stores.

Here is what I bought (please excuse the "technical" words - that's why there are pictures!!):
  • 3 bunches of fall colored maple leaves with small berries
  • 3 bunches of longish leaves with larger berries
  • 1 bunch of white "bull rushes" (they are not soft, but stiff and scratchy and oh, so interesting!)

  • 2 bunches of long white rods (I have no idea what these are but they looked cool)
  • 2 bunches of white flowers
  • 1 bunch of red flowers

Keep in mind different textures when buying your flowers. The more textures you have the more interest your wreath will have. I also bought 2 rolls of some 3/4" wide goldish ribbon which was not completely smooth but a little rough and jagged-like. I thought it looked less polished which is exactly what I wanted.

Next, you need a grapevine wreath. I had this one kicking around the house, probably bought at Michaels on sale.

You will also need some thin wire, a pair of wire cutters and a glue gun. Gather these things and you should be set to go. Total cost (minus the grapevine wreath): $14.

  1. Determine where you want your foliage to go on your wreath. I only covered about half the wreath, keeping the grapevine exposed on the other half.
  2. Cut each maple leaf bunch into 3 pieces, cutting where it makes sense to cut. You want to be sure there are adequate leaves on each section. Cut off the extra stems, leaving about 2-3 inches. Stick the now separated and shortened leaf bunches into the wreath, starting at the bottom and working your way up. Continue until all your maple leaf bunches are on the wreath. They should all be facing the same direction.
  3. Cut apart your "longish leaves with berries" into 2 sections each, making sure each section has sufficient leaves. You may end up with one larger section and one smaller section. Put one larger section at each end of the maple leaves and use the smaller sections to fill inbetween the maple leaves. TIP: All of your leaves should be facing in the same direction. So, the stems should all be facing the same way. However, on the bottom of your wreath, face that longish leaf the opposite way. Does that make sense? This just makes it look a little nicer. You can adjust the maple leaves to cover the "gap" that exists between these two sections and voila! It looks great!
  4. Cut off each of the "white bullrushes", leaving about 2-3" of wire on each. Tuck into the maple leaves where you think it looks good.
  5. Take your stems of white flowers and gently pull off each flower in a downward direction. This should cause the flower to come off with a small piece of wire. Once you have all the flowers off, stick them throughout the wreath, filling in holes or gaps and placing them where it looks nice. Try not to bunch them all in one spot, unless that is what you want.
  6. Do the same thing with the red flowers.
  7. Strip the leaves off the "long white rods". Cut them so they have a 3" stem. Stick them in at the very bottom of the wreath. I only used three of these rods.
  8. Create a bow using the ribbon and wire you bought. Since my rolls of ribbon were only 3m long, I used 2 rolls and made 2 bows that I stacked on top of each other and wired them together to make one bow. Hot glue that bow in your desired location. I put mine towards the top of the wreath, in about a 10 o'clock position.
  9. Fluff and play with all the leaves and flowers and berries until everything is exactly where you want it. Make sure there are no holes or gaps.
  10. Hang your wreath with pride! You did it and it looks beautiful!

Fall Decor

Well, I know that fall decorating was towards the bottom of my list and other, more pressing, more practical, items were above it in order of priority. However, I don't know about you, but too many days of the boring, mundane and practical cause this girl to go a little wonky and a good session of some sort of crafting is in order. That day has finally come. Fall decorating, here we come (however, with the snow flakes falling outside, maybe winter decor is in order. Snow, that blasted 4 letter word. I so despise winter. I hate being cold. And winter, with its extreme cold, seems to stay around FOREVER in these parts! Ugh!). So, this is what I came up with for this year. I don't usually decorate for fall but I can see it happening more frequently from now on. It was a lot of fun!

I needed a wreath for the front door so I crafted this beauty!

I wanted something at the front door to greet visitors so I created this little combo. Don't you just love the little fishbowl full of gourds? Or the little willow chair holding the squash and the welcome sign? The mum looks a little sad given last night's frost but still adds a nice splash of color.

I got my hubby to cut some cornstalks (which he "stole" from his parents field, roots and all!) and nestled them in the corner. Imagine the candle glowing softly at night. Mmmm. Speaks of warmth and welcome. I am working on a pumpkin topiary on the other side of the door but am not quite satisfied with it yet. I will show you that soon.

Inside, I lined up these block letters and this candle holder on my buffet. I love how they look together. (The letters are from Superstore, the candle holder from Canadian Tire)

On my coffee table sits this tray holding a bowl of mini-pumpkins and gourds, a metal trike and a tealight candle. So cute. (I really love little metal trikes!)

Later this afternoon, I will get my little ones to paint some more mini-pumpkins I have and use them as candle holders on the table. They love this craft and I love how their input contributes to our thanksgiving season. After all, they are a major "item" for which to be thankful. Might as well include them!

So, this concludes my fall decor for the moment. If you search the web, you will find oodles more ideas. My question for you: Do you decorate for fall?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dealing With Sibling Squabbles

In a house with any children, there are always siblings squabbling over one thing or another. In a house with 5 children it is slightly magnified. Though I have tried to be diligent with discipline and correction, sometimes I am not always sure what is the right response. For example, Pepe and AJ are playing. AJ asks something of Pepe, which he ignores. AJ hits Pepe for ignoring his request. Pepe comes to me crying and I discipline AJ for hitting. You must understand the personality differences between those boys - Pepe is bigger and older but more gentle, even-keel, a soft heart. AJ is younger, thinner, smaller, a spitfire full of spunk and energy. So, anyway, back to the example, I would discipline AJ for hitting but not Pepe for ignoring AJ. I have actually told Pepe to hit AJ back! I know, not one of my better moments. After all, I need to teach Pepe to defend himself. Thankfully, I decided to head over to a blog called Raising Olives and the Lord provided the answer to my dilemma right there. Raising Olives is about a homeschool family of 11 that loves the Lord. Her post entitled Solving Sibling Squabbles lays out what I had been hoping for or attempting to do in such a wonderful way. Now I have a clear guideline for dealing with the squabbles that happen here on a regular basis! I cannot wait for the first argument so I can try it out!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lists, Lists, Lists

I know the "good" thing to do when trying to organize your day is to make a list of all the things that need accomplishing then start at the top and work your way down. Check, check, check when all is done. A feeling of great accomplishment is achieved! Not so much for me. I think about all that needs to be done, and the list is ALWAYS loooooooong, and I get so overwhelmed, I skip the list and accomplish nothing. One of my friends mentioned a slightly altered way of doing the list and so I am going to try that for this week. Her suggestion was this - make your list but then number it in order of priority. Duh! Why didn't I think of that? So, here is my list for the week, numbered in order of priority. I will renumber it each day, just in case something more urgent pops up but I will try to maintain these same items. Hopefully by the end of the week, the list is finished.
  1. Make supper (you like how I have to put this on the list? 5 pm rolls around and I have simply FORGOTTEN to make supper. I have had this jar of dry chili mix sitting on the counter for days. Today is the day!)
  2. Put away laundry (the laundry that has been sitting in the basket for days).
  3. Clean up my bedroom. (I believe your bedroom should be a sanctuary, a retreat from the chaos that envelops the rest of the house. Our bedroom is the worst room in the house, well, next to the office. See #4).
  4. Clean up the office.
  5. Vacuum carpets. (The only carpets in our house are in our bedroom and the office. Which are so messy you cannot really see the floor. Thus, #3 and #4.)
  6. Clean up garage from the garage sale.
  7. Post maternity clothes online.
  8. Decorate for fall. (This I would rather have at #1 and then skip the rest of the list).
  9. Clean bathrooms. (They are okay for now but won't be when I actually get to this!)
  10. Sort lego. (Subject for another post another day!)

This list doesn't include the obvious like teach school, get dressed, make breakfast, breathe. Maybe it should. Then I could check something off!

Wish me luck!

Monday, October 5, 2009

I'd Rather Be Doing Something Else

At our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group this morning, we were talking about the tension that exists between Planet Me and Planet Mom - Planet Me being all that you were and all that you did before you had kids and Planet Mom being all that you do and all that you are now that you have kids. I never really thought about it in those ways before but I totally understand the tension part. There is great tension between wanting to do "me" things and needing to do "mom" things. Like this afternoon - the "me" part wanted to take a nap. After all, I had a fitful nights sleep thanks to the 2-year old snuggled squirming beside me for the majority of the night. (It was either have her in my bed and quiet or in her bed and screaming.) So, the "me" wanted a nap, the "mom" (or maybe "working woman"?) needed to do paperwork or clean the house. The "me" wanted to decorate for fall, the "mom" needed to think about supper or laundry or the dishes or school tomorrow. Why is it whenever I am doing something "mom" related I am constantly thinking about what it is "me" would rather be doing? And when I am doing something for "me" I am feeling guilty and thinking about what "mom" should be doing! AGGGHHH! I hate the tension. I hate always feeling like I'd rather be doing something else. How can I fully live in the moment? How can I embrace the moment? How do you handle the tension?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I Froze My Fingers for This? (also known as Garage Sales)

What better way to spend a cold October day then to sit in a garage packed with kids clothes and hope that the people wandering in and out buy way more clothing than they possibly need just so you don't have to pack it back up again!! Well, that is exactly what we did today! Our town decided that the spring town-wide garage sale went over so well that a fall one would be just as successful. Initially it was supposed to happen last Saturday, when it was warm and sunny. The date got changed to protect those walkers and runners participating in a walk/run marathon held throughout our town on that warm and sunny Saturday. We got the cold drizzly Saturday. That would be today. But, hey, we were all out there as a family, bundled in layers and longjohns, watching people trail in and out without buying hardly a thing. So, yes, there is way, and I mean waaaaaaaaay too much clothing to be packed up again. A discussion must be had on how long one can stash and store then sort and sell, stash and store then sort and sell. It gets kind of tiring after a while. And we could certainly use the storage space.

While waiting for people to empty their wallets on our behalf, I took our oldest son and oldest daughter, along with my mom, for a little shopping of our own. And what treasures we found!

My little diva daughter first found a princess purse and wallet (which Nana graciously bought), then a pair of sunglasses ,which she expertly perched on her head like the teenager she pretends to be (oh, what am I going to do when that girl grows up??!!), and finished the shopping off with pink princess slippers trimmed with fluffy pink "feathers". She was set.

My son found nothing to suit his desires so a quick trip to the local MCC thrift shop afforded him the opportunity to buy a motorcycle toy complete with rider (which he promptly dropped and broke - now we have to convince daddy he can fix it).

And me? Well, I found two wonderful little treasures. The first is a purse I bought knowing my daughter will be green with envy. What can I say? We both have a taste for things that sparkle. Girly things. And this purse is oh-so-girly!! Even better, it was only $1.

Secondly, I found these fabulous antique wooden bobbins. 5 for the grand price of $10. What a deal!! I have always loved the look of these spools but never thought they would grace my home. I am not sure exactly where to put them but for now they grace the side table beside my couch. Sort of a fusion of old and worn and new and modern. I can totally see the little people in my house grabbing these and using them for weapons but I will deal with that later!

If it were up to me, I would spend much more time at garage sales. I love the thrill of the hunt, the pursuit of a deal (I am not the type to barter for a better price - either I like the price or I don't - either I will pay what you ask or I won't, simple as that). I also love looking at people's houses, seeing what type of people live where, what do the "rich" people sell, that sort of thing! However, driving from one house to the next in that pursuit loses a bit of its desire when you have to bring 5 little people with you. Somehow it is not quite so appealing when it takes longer to get everyone in and out then it does to actually shop. Maybe some day.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mint Tea

When I was perusing the green houses this spring contemplating which herbs to plant in the garden, I happened upon mint. Immediately I thought about spending time in my grandmother's kitchen, making a cup of tea from mint that grew in her garden. I decided to buy some mint and plant it in hopes that I would be able to brew one cup of tea and sit and think of my grandmother. Little did I realize that the mint would grow so well or that there was such a shortage of recipes needing mint - and by mint, I don't mean just a sprinkle here or there - I mean, copious amounts of mint. So, I checked out the web and came up with my own way for making mint tea, thanks to tidbits of information here and there. If you want to make your own tea, the steps are rather simple (and I am sorry that I have not illustrated these steps with photos!).

  1. Get some mint and lots of it if you intend to make a lot of tea.
  2. Wash the mint.
  3. Fill a pot about 2/3 full with the clean mint - leaves, stems and all.
  4. Fill the pot with water.
  5. Put the pot on the stove element, turn on the element and let the water come to a boil.
  6. Simmer for 1/2 hour? (I don't usually check how long but long enough to get some good flavor)
  7. Remove sticks, leaves and stems with a slotted spoon. Don't be too picky as you will strain it later.
  8. Add sugar to taste. For me it is about 1 - 1 1/2 cups for 12 liters of tea.
  9. Return to boil and boil for about 2 minutes.
  10. Strain tea and enjoy.
  11. Chill for a very refreshing cold mint tea.

This is a beverage that makes me feel very "pioneerish" - you know, picking greens and boiling them to make something that tastes good. It just feels right. And tastes so much better than Nestea! Plus, everytime I enjoy this cold treat, I am reminded of my grandmother!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

10 Years and Still Loving Him!

September 25, 1999. A completely magical day! The day I married my best friend! It was such a fun wedding and I was SO excited to get married. To be married. I couldn't keep still. Literally. I was bouncing, I was so excited. The pastor actually said, "The Lord bless you and keep you . . . still!" Yup, I just married the man I loved and I couldn't contain the excitement!

Fast forward 10 years. 10 magical years. Okay, let's be realistic. Not all of them were magical. In fact, some were hard. Really hard. I remember feeling so angry at Jay, so disconnected, so confused as to why things were so hard. So empty. So ugly. We didn't talk. Life was chaotic. We had 3 kids. He was busy doubling his hog operation. Life was busy and stressful and we grew apart. It was anything but magical. Lots of tears were shed. Lots of hurt feelings. But, we pushed through. We did not give up. We continued to pray and talk and pray and talk and pray and talk. And things got better. Are things less stressful now? Maybe just a little. But is our marriage fun again? Is it full of life? Is it good? I mean really good? ABSOLUTELY!! To celebrate 10 wonderful years of marriage, we went away for 2 nights, without the kids, to a resort located a couple hours away from here called Falcon Trails Resort. Now, when I say the word resort, I get images of shiny windows on huge hotels, shimmering pools, exotic locale, hot summer sun. This was NOT that kind of resort. This was a cabin by the water, rustic, trees, deer, quiet, kind of resort. Absolutely perfect!

Our cabin was called Sunset and it afforded beautiful views of the lake. It was a cozy place - 3 beds (2 in the loft - obviously we only needed one), a small kitchen, livingroom/diningroom with fireplace, TV/VCR/DVD, hot tub in the screened in porch. It was fantastic.

The first night we arrived we stayed around the cabin as it was already dark. We made supper, soaked in the hot tub, watched a movie and went to bed early. Heavenly!
The next day we got busy - we hiked and hiked and hiked, about 4 hours in total.

We kept trying to get a picture of the two of us using the timer on the camera. We finally succeeded. This is us after 10 years of marriage. Older, wiser!

This was us on our honeymoon 10 years ago. Yup, we were at a cabin in the woods then, too. We hiked and we took a picture (one of my favorites - it sits beside my bed!). Boy, do I look young. Innocent. Naive!!

After resting a few minutes back at the cabin, we went canoeing. 2 hours, maybe?

That evening, we watched the sun set on the water (spectacular, isn't it?).

Then, we headed to Kenora, ON for supper at Dino's Restaurant. I had read great reviews online and they were not wrong. It was a wonderfully delicious and filling supper. Once back at the cabin at 10pm, we headed back out in the canoe and into the mist settling over the marsh. Felt like something out of a movie, a little scary. Dark, you cannot see anything, misty. I was expecting an alligator to sneak up on us! Enough of that! Back to the hot tub! The next morning, we packed and away we went. We left the quiet behind to go get our kids. Our noisy kids. We miss the quiet! Ah, but we love having them around, too!

Best part of the whole 2 days? He proposed to me, all over again. He is so romantic when he has time to think through what he wants to say and writes it down. He took us to the end of the dock, read me some amazing words (which I don't have to remember because I have written copy!) then pulled out this unbelievable ring (whose beauty cannot be appreciated in photos!) and asked me to marry him . . . again. Which I didn't hear because I was so taken with the ring. Seriously, the first words out of my mouth were "holy crap!" So, not the words I would have chosen had I thought for a few seconds, but they are what they are. And I laughed. With the same giddy excitement I had the first time he proposed. On a dock. And I said yes! Both times!

I am so blessed to have such a wonderful man in my life. I am loved, deeply loved by him and he continues to show me. Buying me a ring, a big ring, an expensive ring, is a huge thing for him. He is a saver, not a spender. So when he doesn't look at the price of a piece of jewelry but goes from his heart instead, you gotta know it is important. Really important. So, now I have rings on my hand that remind me of the beginning of our life together and a huge accomplishment along the way. I love you, sweetheart, and I cannot wait to spend another 10 years as your wife! Happy Anniversary!

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