Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Back to School Shopping Organization and Some Pretty Things in our Home

The past few days have been so drastically different from the ones that left us in sweaty puddles just a little while ago- with the humidity gone and a certain crispness in the air, I can practically smell the fresh pencil shavings and am nearly giddy at the thought of beginning to fill in my new calendar! It's the teacher in me that cannot, no matter how hard I try, ever get used to a Jan-Dec kind of calendar- it's got to be a school calendar for me!  :)

Anyhoo. This year I'm trying really hard to keep track of what I'm purchasing so I can avoid repeats. I hate it when I find some secret stash of new school clothes, obviously meant for the fall, in the middle of February because I completely forgot that I shoved the bag in the back of the coat closet waaaay back in August! Plus, this year Jonah is attending private school again, so his school needs are more specific. It's definitely time for a little Back to School Organization 101!

Enter plain ol' note cards. They're the perfect size to fit inside my purse so I can carry them with me for reference. Now I know in a glance what they need, and what they already have. Simple and effective!This works for clothing items as well as classroom supplies.

I had an incredibly challenging week last week. Nothing I'm able to share here, but let me just say that parenting teens is not for the faint of heart. I cried myself to sleep almost every night.  :(  Things are better now. We are spending more time reading the Bible and praying together, which I feel are most important (and helpful!). Today I felt peaceful, and all day long I kept noticing pretty little things around our home.

Vibrant colors...

Cheerful petals in my cute little cow bottle...

And I will admit that this, the simple act of pouring new dishwashing liquid into the bottle, nearly had me squealing in delight...
In my defense, all those bubbles were SO pretty, especially as they gleamed in the sunshine! Simple joys, folks. Simple joys.  =)

And this lamp got a burst of pretty color with one of the easiest, quickest spruce-ups I've ever done! Strips of fabric just basically wrapped around the lampshade- I used small elastics to secure the ends together, so no sewing or gluing required! Then when I want a different fabric, I can swap it out easy peasy!
I'm debating spray painting the base of the lamp ivory. I like the darker color now that the shade looks so cheery. The original shade is a rusty-colored paper with Scripture quotes and Jesus fish all over it- it has never been my favorite because it's rather drab and sinister looking. Now it isn't! A perfect pop of color!

We spent all afternoon and evening with my parents up at one of their favorite campgrounds. All those pics are on Instagram - I'm bethany_liv if you want to see. There were two baby ducks that kept waddling on over to us, over our towels and everything! So cute! And then after our campfire dinner and more S'mores, we watched the sun sparkles on the lake, one of my most favorite things ever! There is just something about the sun's last rays dancing across the water. Tomorrow we're heading back to the ocean for a day with Bill's parents, so... another fun-filled and busy summer week! Now off to bed! Goodnight!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Crumb Coffee Cake Recipe

Happy Monday! We had a nice weekend as a family...a little swimming, backyard S'mores making, an afternoon at one of our favorite lakes, church in the morning and then again at night for a special service, some movie time...just a nice weekend! There was one moment of sheer slight panic late Saturday night when my dear husband asked me if I remembered that I'd volunteered to bring in food for our Fellowship Class at church. Well, no, as a matter of fact, I had not remembered. Until then. 11:30 pm.
Or go to sleep?
Lucky for me, I remembered a quick and easy recipe I could easily pull off in the AM, so beauty sleep it was!

My mother-in-law gave me this recipe shortly after Bill and I got married. It's been around a while...  :)
And it is SO YUMMY! I love this recipe because it's easy, quick, and doesn't use a million dishes!
I'd tell you it's healthy, but... well, at least there's cinnamon, ha!

for the coffee cake layer:
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
7/8 cup milk 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together shortening, sugar, egg & vanilla in large mixing bowl. Next, combine dry ingredients in bowl and add alternately with milk to shortening mixture.
{this looks a bit lackluster was a little dark at 6 AM, ha!}

Grease a 13x9 baking pan or dish and spread mixture in bottom of pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges begin to turn golden brown. 

Make Crumb Topping while cake is baking.

for the crumb topping:
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup sugar 
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or more...I always add a little more)
1 1/2 stick butter or margarine, softened

To save on washing dishes, I use the same bowl for the topping as for the flour mixture above. Simply combine dry ingredients and then cut in softened butter until it's crumbly. I usually mash it all up with a fork.

Sorry, no photos of this step! There may have been a clothing emergency...

Remove coffee cake from oven when ready and carefully spread crumb topping mixture over top- the top is spongy and will not be fully baked, but that's the way it's supposed to be. Again I use a fork to gently push the topping over the entire cake. Return cake to oven to bake for another 20-25 minutes. The edges should be golden brown, and it will smell absolutely divine by this point. Use a cake tester to check if in doubt.

Cool. Slice. Devour.  ;o)

sharing here ...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Kitchen Helpers & Fashion Icons

Meet Isabelle Kate, aka the Serious Baker, ha!
I did not even notice how grumpy she looks while I was snapping the pictures - she was giggling and singing like she always is, except, apparently, right at this particular moment.  :)

Then this guy comes zipping around the corner, and, well, the stripes just got me. Caleb needs to wear a long sock under the terminator boot, but since he's supposed to be trying to walk a bit without it now, he just leaves on the sock in between. Makes me chuckle.  :)

Then again, what can I really say? He has always been the fashion icon in our family!

And here is the lovely Lemon Meringue Pie that my Isabelle helped to make.
Totally from scratch, HA HA!

Hope you had a lovely weekend, too!
Oh, and ps: I'd been wanting to change the name of my Etsy shop for a while now, but I find the whole name-changing process completely intimidating and overwhelming, but...I did it! Click here if you want to take a peek.  :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Week We Lived In The Water

We New Englanders aren't generally wimpy about too many things, but you give us near 100 degree temps with humidity thick as sludge for a week straight, and that wimp will surface! This heat is about to do me in, and I've got several very pregnant friends (who probably don't complain about it as much as I do), so yeah, wimpy, ha!

So we pretty much lived in the water this whole week. And it was WONDERFUL! Lakes with views, lakes with friends, lakes with cute little ducks, pool time after dinner every night, and the blissfully cool Atlantic Ocean on the hottest day yet. Our absolute favorite day was with my Mom - I will remember that day with a smile for the rest of my life.

Jonah, aka the next Jeff Corwin  =)

Oh yes, there is plenty of this in our home too. Boys, ha!  ;/

98% of the time, this is Caleb wherever there's water.

Snack Shop treats at Wellington State Park

Future little engineer or architect right here!

Yesterday was such a great day! All day at Hampton Beach, with about 8 million other sweating people!, then a quiet ride home thanks to the wonder that is watching a movie in the car. Bill got home shortly after us and I ran out to mail some nightgowns and even fit in a quick birthday shopping trip for my almost 14-year old. Please don't make me say that again, ugh. Then we squeezed in a little more shopping at the outlet stores on our way to the resort for our family pizza pool party. As we drove home lightning started blazing through the clouds but all remained rather quiet. For a while anyway.

We discovered Luke was MIA at some point in the evening, and once Sneakers heard us outside calling him, Sneaks began pacing from door to window, back to door, etc, meowing and prowling something awful- it is equally sweet and disturbing the bond those two share, ha! He was beside himself without his little orange sidekick!

Then the storm hit. Ugh. Not only was it literally 86 degrees upstairs, but then I was too worried about Lukey to sleep. I thought for sure everyone was going to wake up in panic at the sound of those booms, but only Isabelle did, so we plopped her stuff on our floor and let her sleep in our room, and I finally fell asleep around 3, hallelujah! And then promptly awoke to the pitiful cries of Luke at 4:17. So yeah, I'm almost a zombie about now. But Lukey is inside and safe!

Sneakers, however, has gone from worried to ticked off, and is presently giving his sidekick the silent treatment, ha!
 This is one of my all-time favorites of little Luke, that naughty little orange rebel.
 And this one, eek!

Oh well. Nothing a good breakfast and strong coffee can't cure. For a little while anyway.  :)

As good things are often accompanied by not-so-good things, this week has been no exception. Bill's cousin, Josh, lost his battle with brain cancer this past Sunday, leaving behind a young wife and three very small children. My heart is just broken for her. She is a strong Christian, and her testimony through all of this amazes me. While we are rejoicing that Josh is fully healed and restored in heaven, there is still much sadness and grief here. There have been many times this week, and over the past couple of years, where that lump rises in my throat and tears pool as I ponder those heavier topics, like death and mourning and loss. Here at home, driving to the beach, sitting by the lake watching my children play- everywhere. It reminds me to savor life. To drink in beauty and celebrate little things and love with abandon. And to let go, to free my mind and heart of things that don't matter, of things that hold me back and don't honor God. Every day truly is a gift like none other.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Fun And Whales!

It's Friday! This week has flown by! Yesterday was my big all-day adventure with Caleb...a whale watch cruise from Rye Harbor! We've been getting random storms popping up lately so I was sick-to-my-stomach nervous that we weren't going to be able to go, and I hadn't actually made a Plan B. Not to worry, Plan A was PERFECT!

I think I want to do a whole separate post about our day, but here are some highlights. Absolutely amazing! As much as I love to watch God's creatures in their natural world, I found I truly marveled at the sounds they make. Amazing!

I will remember that day with my little boy for as long as I live. So grateful we had the opportunity to share that together.
Backing up a little bit, I knew I was going to miss my big guys like crazy so I snapped a few fun pics while at the pool. I can't believe it, but I actually forgot my camera for almost every single thing we did last week! Me? I must be getting old and senile!

I was slightly stunned they actually cooperated and granted my request for synchronized handstands, ha!
Jonah kept asking me to watch him wave underwater. My kids are fish. They get it from me.  ;o)

Me and my beautiful girl!
 Take 2!

Some changes going on inside our little abode...
Bill has been working soooo hard and everything looks better than I even imagined! I took this yesterday morning around 6 am - wait till you see what it looks like NOW!

Right now it's still just Caleb and me, and it's so quiet and, well, really really nice. Isabelle has had VBS this week too, so Caleb and I have had lots of quality time together! Right now she's over at Mimi and Grampy's for a sleepover, and Caleb and I will pick her up for the closing ice cream social at VBS. He's on the couch in the other room telling me over and over how great yesterday was, asking if he can make me homemade waffles for breakfast, ha! Love this boy! And tomorrow I get to see my other boys! I miss them so much when they are away!

Have an amazing weekend!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Interview With a Kindergarten Graduate

It's a quiet week here, relatively speaking anyway -- Ethan and Jonah are off at camp. Sometimes I don't even know what to do with myself! For reals! Two kids seems like nothing, ha! Less food to cook, less stuff to take care of and clean, less bickering...well, I guess the less stops right there.  ;)

Right before school ended, I thought it might be fun to have a little interview with my big kindergarten girl after she "graduated." Since I don't have the typical firsts with her, I think this will be a precious keepsake one day to look back on. And it's uniquely hers, as I didn't do this with the boys.
She's a clever one, that Miss Sassy Pants, ha!

Me: What was your favorite thing to do in school this year?
I: Go to the farm. And petting the pony. And the baby piglets, they were cute too.

Me: What about in church?
I: Um, learning to respect God.

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?
I: A pony rider girl. (Let's note here that we are reading Magic Pony from the library.)

Me: Who do you think you'll marry?
I: Nolan

Me: Oh (surprised), and where do you want to live?
I: Guatemala

Me: That's great, but that's awfully far away.
I: Aren't you going to be living with me?

Me: How many children will you have?
I: 3; I hope some are girls, well, one boy is okay, or, I hope they're all girls... I will be a fun Mom, funner than you, except when you let me watch TV, then you're fun. And you're usually nice. And I will drive my kids in a van with a screen thing, I mean a TV, but only when we go to far places. Because I'm fun. (What!?!)

Me: What does Mommy do while you're at school?
I: Sew. And paint. (Nailed it!)

Me: What about Daddy?
I: Daddy types stuff on computers. And calls us.

Me: What do you think about having lots of big brothers?
I: (brows furrowed, thinking hard) Good.

Me: Good? (looking for clarification)
I: Yes, because sometimes they're nice.

Me: Those are some pretty interesting answers...
I: Well, I am very interesting you know. (ha ha ha)

Me: Okay, last question - what's your favorite song?
I: Already belting it out...This Little Light of Mine.

This made me laugh so hard! She is so smart and funny, and I'm so blessed to be her Mama.

Tomorrow is my big All-Day Date with...CALEB!

ps. I would love it if you kept our cousin Josh and his sweet family in your prayers this week - he has battled brain cancer for nearly 3 years and is about to meet Jesus. Please keep his wife and young children in your prayers as they grieve and mourn this tremendous loss. Thank you very much!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Strawberry Spinach Salad// Balsamic Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Strawberry Spinach Salad just feels like summertime. It's especially great when you've overdone it all week with burgers and potato salads and cupcakes and and ice cream... so and fresh and tangy! And not a gazillion calories!

one bag/package organic baby spinach, washed
a few leaves regular spinach, or however much you prefer
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup walnuts
about 1/4 or 1/2 a good sized onion, wedged or sliced
a spoonful or so white sugar

Place onions and walnuts in small pan over medium heat; sprinkle with sugar, stir occasionally (we're not truly caramelizing them, just giving a little added flavor). 

Prepare remaining fresh ingredients; place in bowl. 

When onions have softened and begun to turn color, remove from heat and set aside, sprinkle atop salad. Mix gently.

I played around with a homemade vinaigrette dressing until it wasn't, well, too much. Flavor is one thing, but when I have to mentally prepare myself for the next bite, then I just assume it's a tad too strong for my taste. Also, since the liquids should have some time to blend together, you may want to make the vinaigrette first.

1/4 cup virgin olive oil (canola oil is okay)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard (NOT spicy brown mustard)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp or so sugar, only if needed

I'm the queen of a sprinkle of this, a dash of that, but I tried to keep track of the measurements as best as I could. Pinky swear! Obviously, this is a total taste thing, so add or take away as you see fit. Drizzle over salad and toss gently. Enjoy!

Note: I thought this would taste really disgusting the next day, however, I pulled up my big girl pants and made myself try it...and it was delicious! I did not love the texture, since it had gotten a bit soggy, but it was still really good! I think some grilled chicken sliced on top would've made up for the sogginess and tasted fantastic!

Sharing here & here
Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Scorching 4th of July

heat waves + home renos + girly stuff + grumpy kids + too many late nights= 1 miserable Mama

 It was a memorable 4th, but not in the way I'd expected. Just an all-around bad day. Moving on.
Honestly, I guess it's just been one of those weeks. Not great, overall. But we did salvage some moments.

Delish Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
I tweaked the recipe a little...I'll share later

A couple of days at the beach. No pics to share because it was that hot and I don't think I ever left the water! Everyone loved those days!

Sprucing up the front yard--
 This foundation garden is brand new...and finally finished!
The plan was to get a brand new front door, screen door, and redo that pitiful insanely-orange landing, but...the washer finally let go so we've had to replace that, and so there goes the front landing/door project. In time, in time.
See the kitty in the window to the right? ha ha

 I cursed Pinterest on the 4th when I excitedly gathered the kids to make those cool patriotic layer drinks, and it was a total and complete FAIL. And then of course several of our friends posted their awesome layered drinks all over Facebook so I felt like even more of a loser. Ugh.

At least my girl's adorable 4th of July outfit was, well, just that...adorable!
And so is this shot with big brother Jonah. How can these kids keep growing up SO quickly?

I think I may add some red ribbon bows to the straps like I did this dress.

We kissed the very last of the Ugly Tiles adios!
Bill has really impressed me with the new floors! I'll have lots to brag about and show off soon!

We've been thinking up ways to stay cool, like this idea.  And this one.
Sometimes all you need is a good ol' splash of water, kiddie pool or not, ha!

And it's still hot out today so we're about to go jump in a lake.
Literally.  =)

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