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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

I don't know about you, but I am SO looking forward to the weekend. I hear we may even get temps above freezing for two consecutive days! Heat wave!

In our home, we celebrate Fridays with homemade cookies. And as promised yesterday, here is a yummy Cookie Friday recipe for you to try!

They have oatmeal, so you can even call them healthy.  ;)


2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar*
1/2 cup granulated sugar*
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats (quick-cooking would work too)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (we used an assortment of chunks, chips, and mini-chips)

*I always use slightly less sugar than what any given recipe calls for and they turn out great!

Preheat oven to 325F degrees.
Beat butter and sugars, then beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Add remaining dry ingredients except the chocolate chips/chunks; mix thoroughly. Gently stir in chunks and chips.

Using a cookie scoop or spoon, drop dough onto lightly greased or parchment-lined pan. You should get about 10-12 cookies per standard cookie sheet/pan. Bake about 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cool 1-2 minutes and place on rack to finish cooling.

Most of the oatmeal cookies I've made call for a tablespoon or two of milk, but this recipe uses an egg yolk and more vanilla- the texture is a little different this way, and we really enjoyed them.

Yields about forty-five 3" cookies.

Just perfect for dunking!  =)

ps- does anyone know how to make your blog recipes that cute printable version? If it's super technical, then thanks anyway, but don't bother. ha ha ha
Looking for a rich, gooey, chocolatey cookie recipe? Check out THIS post!

sharing with:
chef in training

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Finding Our New Normal and a Homeschooling Question

Hey folks! How funny that today of all days I begin to write about "schedules" and new routines and such, and then I realize that it's nearly 11:00 and we've done diddly squat so far today. My sewing was thwarted by some bizarre cuticle-bleeding incident. Groceries are still sitting on the store shelves because the dog didn't poop or urinate on his walk this morning, and I had to rush back home with him after drop-offs instead. Ethan had a headache last night and just got up a half an hour ago. And I have cramps. Oh, was that too much? Sorry.

You know what? Sometimes diddly squat is exactly what you need. Sometimes.

A teensy part of the problem may also be that I got sucked into reading adoption this and that, and now I'm feeling down. It's almost too overwhelming today. Here we are, aching to do a good thing, and it just isn't happening. God's timing, I know. I know. But it's still hard.

Sooooo...I would love to hear from you homeschoolers who (happily) keep a "looser" schedule. What kinds of things have worked well for you? Do you still use specific curricula? I really have little (zero) intention of adhering to a firm schedule. My boys are older, self-motivated, and avid readers, so I plan on giving them time and space in order to explore their own interests. I'm really looking forward to this kind of learning!

And to all the field trips. Let's be honest here.

Oh! Apparently my self-motivated eldest already completed a new Spanish vocabulary list before I sat down to write this. (Maybe it's just me having a diddly squat kind of day then! Now he's reading a thick historical novel about Nero and persecution, something I know I never read about in my high school years.)

And now we're going to watch a movie. I could call it educational. But I won't.  =)

I hope to be back tomorrow with a fabulous cookie recipe! Have a great day!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Time Management. (And a First!)

Yeah, I don't have any lately. That's my problem.  =)

Since this blog is mainly my online journal, I didn't want the day to get ahead of me without commemorating its significance. It's kind of a big day for us.

Today marks my first official day as a Homeschooling parent.

Wait a sec.

Today marks my First Official Day as a Homeschooling Parent!!!!!

You know how sometimes what you're saying doesn't actually sink in until you hear yourself say it? Yeah, same here.

I'm hopeful, excited, a little nervous, and eager to learn along the way. Poor/Lucky (however one might describe it) Ethan is the first guinea pig student, and Jonah will follow suit soon. We are still deciding what is best for Caleb and Isabelle, but we will continue to discuss and pray as we have thus far.

So I had better get that time management thing under my belt for good! Wish me luck! ;)

Here is a picture of my adorable 3rd grade Ethan, on our first albeit short-lived homeschool adventure.
Isn't he just the cutest little guy?

I'm much more optimistic about homeschooling this time around. The circumstances were different then. And I don't do well with small children. So there's that.  =)

I have to throw this photo in too...just look at those handsome little boys!
This was taken along the coast in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, near where my Dad grew up and we have various relatives scattered about. The tie-dye shirts C and J are sporting were their own creations from our trial homeschool art class a few days before. Those shirts fared better than the trial. ;)

Oh how quickly the years fly by. I intend on making the most out of them all.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Everyday Ramblings

I know, I know. When am I not rambling?

I just thought I'd pop in with our little happenings from the week. Quite possibly snoresville to anyone but me, but that's all right.

Do you know what's really kind of neat? Finding out fun/funny stuff about your parents that you never, ever knew. For example, just found out that my Dad belonged to not one but two bowling leagues in his glory days. And he didn't know what "bumper bowling" was...until he decided to take the boys bowling and had such a horrible score that they talked him into the bumpers for the second string. HA! Even funnier? His score didn't improve that much. Now that just makes me chuckle.  =)

'So Dad,' I innocently ask. 'Were you any good back then?'

And he laughs loudly, grins from ear to ear, and answers, "Nah, never was much good at it. But I owned a spiffy pair of bowling shoes!"

If you didn't just giggle a little, then there might not be any hope for you, because that was pretty funny.

Oh, and the girls had a date all our own during the Man-Bowl. We had an in-house beauty parlor party, complete with Little House on the Prairie and hot cocoa. In the family room. Living.On.The.Edge over here, let me tell you.

Moving on.

It has been so, so cold here this week, but oddly, the snow seems to be disappearing. It doesn't look much like it did on this stormy morning over the weekend.

 I love this sweet summer nightgown! It's listed here in my shop.
(There are some other ones listed, too, and some new items coming soon!)

I made a new header for my shop's Facebook page...what do you think?
Sweet Pea may be smiling here, but she and I had a rough afternoon/evening today. Whew.
There is a whole lotta fire in that cute little face.  ;)

You can see my facebook page here if you'd like.

I should have a post about my sewing area and our home office soon, and a little something we're finally finishing up in the kitchen! Have a great weekend if I don't "see you" before then!!!

Oh! I totally forgot something... the other day I discovered a terrible and offensive ad here on the blog and I was fuming MAD because I have blocked several types of ads as well as specific urls. The mister and I finally figured out how it was happening, since it had to bypass the blocks I have in place, and hopefully got rid of the awful ad. It's all very discouraging and I hope it doesn't happen ever again. Please know how terrible I felt about the whole thing- I'm sorry to anyone who had to see something like that on my blog.

Our world is so broken - as am I! - but I serve a perfect, patient and loving God, and good will prevail. But I have to admit that I get so discouraged by this particular issue, especially being a mother to young, impressionable boys - anyone else? I can't be alone in this, I'm sure, so how do you handle your discouragement/disappointment? 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Big Decisions & Little Changes in our Home

Okay, so first things first. It's hard for me to share this, but maybe it will offer encouragement or hope to someone else in the same boat. I know God is good like that.

For nearly a month, we'd been hoping that we'd found our baby girl. The morning after receiving an email about her, back before Christmas, I was walking C and IK to the bus stop when I got a text telling me that sweet Birthmom had been rushed to the ER due to premature labor (about 4 months early). That felt like some kind of sick joke, considering how we lost the baby back in August. We found out a week or so later that she was doing well, baby was well, and things looks great. Good news!

Another week or so passed and we hadn't heard anything. This is normal, but still, it's frustrating! Well, around this time, I'd also begun to consider another international adoption, or rather, that if God was leading us in that direction, then I would let go of my fear and follow His lead.

On Monday afternoon, I did another online search, only this time I got sucked in. I found a few agencies I like and began reading about the various country requirements, and my heart just started crumbling. Changes in laws have made it SO difficult to adopt, and not only is it a financial hurdle but now it takes more than 2-4 years on average to complete the process, including a 6-8 week or longer stay in country. I felt so hopeless and heartbroken- it doesn't seem fair! Why are people trying to make it so hard to give children a home? A family of their own?

In the midst of this moment of turmoil, I checked my email and there it was. THE email.

Birthmom chose another family earlier that afternoon.

We were told that she was holding our profile in her other hand, and had a really hard time deciding, and that we should feel better knowing that. Maybe.

Maybe not.

I hadn't "lost" it over a rejection in a while, but that night after reading the email, I couldn't hold it back. I feel like my children have seen me cry so much in the past, well, decade, so I tried to hide in the shower. I'm not sure it disguised anything. That was a painful and difficult night. And cue the tears once again. Oh this life is hard!

God is good, all the time! I really do believe that! In fact, that's what I'm clinging to for dear life. It's hard to trust Him- especially His timing right now- but I'm trying. It's a continual relearning to let go of my expectations, and to be grateful for what I have.

So that's what been happening on the adoption front. Tuesday morning was kind of blur, but in an okay way. It was pouring buckets all day long, and wouldn't you know, we had our family portrait sessions scheduled that night. Talk about a near panic attack! My hair, people. That's what I was terrified about. I mean, my hair hardly ever cooperates in general, but with RAIN...oh no oh no oh no... And then there is the pressure of coordinating outfits, everyone else's hair, those goofy grins you're hoping don't show up...

As if it knew it would be the end of me, my hair not only behaved, it was a model student! I couldn't believe it! And that is proof that miracles do happen.  =) Our pictures turned out even better than I'd hoped, and once I started breathing again because of the major sticker shock for the package prices, it was all good. (Our church is updating its directory, so they brought in the professionals, and families could choose to buy packages or not...but honestly, how on earth do you resist when everyone is smiling, looking cute/handsome, and you just look like one big happy family? Exactly.)

I was so happy, in fact, that I declared it Ice Cream Sundaes for Supper night. Tuna subs for dessert. Yum! Then...

Isabelle announces that her tooth is weally, weally, wiggly and the stinker yanks that other top tooth out! I had a hard enough time with the first top tooth, how can I even stand to lose this one? I cried. I tried to pretend it was happy-crying, or at least fake-crying, but I don't think she bought it. She kept rubbing my back and telling me that she's still my baby girl. Insert ugly cry here.

And I am proud to announce that there were no redemptive Tooth Fairy visits (after the fact) for this tooth! We are seriously the worst T.F. parents out there! No, really. The Worst. I will add here, however, that the parents who are forking over twenty bucks for a tooth are really making it difficult for the rest of us who think that forking over twenty bucks for a tooth is insane. Isabelle may have had a snarky comment or two regarding her measly two dollars. Girl should be happy there's something there at all, but I don't think I'll get into that with her. HA

Since I shared some adoption news, I'll share some family news. Ethan has taken a turn for the worse. The medical bills are pouring in. Caleb's broken leg is having more issues, and surgery may be back on the table. Medical bills from that whole fiasco keep pouring in. There is tension and bitterness in our home, even despair. Unkind words and behavior. I worry about the condition of my children's hearts. Of mine.

All of this has led to some serious conversations, lots of prayer, and a rethinking of sorts about what we want as a family. I'm not able to say exactly right now, but we're making big decisions and there will be even bigger changes in our immediate future. The strange-wonderful thing? I have such a peace about it all! That is a total God-is-in-control comfort, and I'm so thankful for that because I think I would just give up otherwise!

Just to make this post even loooooonger, I've been meaning to show a picture of our old TV armoire that we'd shoved in the basement when we moved here (it didn't fit anywhere, or so I thought!) that now sits happily where the tall bookshelves had been. It houses TONS of sewing storage so I'm able to keep things looking neat and clutter-free. And it was completely free! Happy happy happy! I moved the book shelves to the adjacent corner and they add just the right amount of weight to the family room. Now I have to add a couple more pictures to center the gallery wall above the couch, but that's pretty minor!

I will have those new million dollar portraits to show off.  ;)

If you've made it this far, well, thank you for reading my rambling! Here are some pictures:

Obviously this was taken at Christmas- the book shelves have been in that spot since we first moved in. I liked it, but there's nothing like needing to find a spot for a piece of furniture that kicks you in gear to move things around a bit.

I've missed that armoire! We stained it ourselves years ago and it was the most hideous orange you ever laid eyes on. Then we (I) tried to paint it, which was a complete disaster- just bad color choices. So then we stripped and or sanded it down to the original orange but this time rubbed in dark walnut stain, and I've loved it ever since.

I'm still playing around with different pillow cover options. Apparently Ryder has an opinion too.  If you squint, you can see the area to the left of my sewing table is a little different too. I've had so many sewing projects lately that it's never completely picked up, so...that's why there aren't more pictures to show you. Soon, I promise!

Ha Ha, this photo captures the moment well! She made herself a little nervous at one point in the extraction process.  =)

And I just had to share this one- she has such a tender mother's heart, making sure they're covered and warm. I didn't know she'd put them like this until after she'd left this morning. 

Okay, now I'd better scoot! Lots of sewing to do, but first, I've got to get my Beef Stew in the slow-cooker. Have a wonderful day!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Some Goals for 2014

I used to be a firm New Year's Resolution maker. Until I was so sick and tired of feeling like a failure that I just completely gave up altogether.

Because my resolutions never lasted. I don't think I'm alone, either.

Now I think of things a little differently. I reflect on the past year, things I thought I did well, and other things that could definitely use some improvement, and I set some goals for myself. It's still a resolution of sorts, I suppose, but it just feels a little kinder. We women are typically our own worst enemies, but I am slowly learning to be nicer to myself. Do any of you struggle with that too?

Some of my Personal Goals are:
  • Be more mindful of what I'm eating, and WHY - I tend to snack on sweets when I'm lonely, bored or anxious
  • Get more daily activity- I love to do things outside but it's so much harder in the cold dead of winter
  • Pray for patience and empathy for others - I can have a rather sinister heart/attitude, and I don't want to live with that kind of negativity; I'd like to be known for having compassion, being kind, and helping others
  • Savor life - I want to live with thankfulness, intentionality and purpose; constant gratitude reminds me that everything single thing I have is a gift from God and makes me want to share His love with others
  • Cherish and tend to my friendships more
Some of my Home Goals are:
  • Install a closet system (been sitting in the box in the basement for a year now) in our teeny tiny bedroom closet
  • Reorganize the pantry and install new shelves
  • Ditto for the inadequate linen closet upstairs
  • Change the front steps and landing - the color at least, but hopefully everything
  • Add Board and Batten to the downstairs hallway
  • Add the finishing touches to the kids' bedrooms
I would like to add here that I made great progress with some of the goals I'd set for 2013. I worked on them until the very end. Literally. I instagrammed a picture of my newly-hung scarf hooks on 12/31/13 around 4 in the afternoon!  =)

there is so much going on here that I just love, even though I'll probably get yelled at for posting this!!
I told my Dad he was going to have to get more matching shirts for J & C, ha!

One little tradition I've enjoyed over the years is to welcome in the New Year with a pretty plant or two. This year I brought Isabelle with me to pick them out, so that was special. We decided to get one for Mimi (my mother) and Grandma (my m-i-l) this year too. We also enjoyed a New Year's Day brunch with my in-laws, an afternoon of swimming fun with my husband's sister and family, and then we hosted a brunch at our house that weekend with my parents. Add in a few dinners and coffee & desserts with friends, and I think I'm off to a good start!

Now I'm off to bake some is Friday after all! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


So I officially changed this blog's name to CELEBRATE! I kept thinking I needed a new beginning (of sorts) because my life has changed so much, my children are growing and changing, and what used to work just wasn't any longer. But it's all part of me, and it proved more difficult to sever those ties than I'd thought it would be.

Why Celebrate?

It's something I've always gone back to, just a little thought that continually comes to my mind. Life moves so quickly, and the years evaporate like summer morning's dew. Gone are those precious days when my boys were young, when we sought adventure with unending energy, and oh, the fun we had! It hurts a little to think of you know what I mean? And then our agonizing ordeal in bringing Isabelle home but the indescribable joy at the same time. I'm rambling, I know, but I guess my point is that it all goes by so fast and if I'm not careful to stop what I think I should be doing and take notice, then it's too late. The moment passes. Days disappear. Weeks run into months, then years.

Yes, it hurts. But it's wonderful, too. I am not a perfect parent, not even close, but I did one thing that I hope and pray has made as big an impact on my children's lives as it has mine: I've tried to be an intentional Mom, seeking opportunities to celebrate everyday things. I try to make things special for them, for us as a family.

I think gratitude plays a big part as well. When I stop griping long enough to focus on all that God has given me, I'm completely overwhelmed. Everything is a gift! And I want to celebrate it all. My time on this earth, especially with my children at home, is limited- I intend to make the most out of it!

After I did a kick-boxing video yesterday, I noticed that Caleb had left his school newspaper out on the coffee table. He hadn't said anything to me about it, but I knew he'd been working on an article about the Red Sox win in the World Series. There it was, and it was such a simple, small thing, but I couldn't even wipe the grin off my face as I read it through. (No, really, I was super excited about it!) It was something worth celebrating!

I want to mention (so I don't ever forget) that I felt so happy baking that cake, knowing what a surprise it would be for Caleb. I took my time and enjoyed the whole process, especially the anticipation of it all. It didn't matter that my To-Do list this week is a mile and a half long because this small gesture of love for my son was so much more important than anything on that list.

Now I failed to mention that Caleb had lost dessert privileges this week for something or other, but suddenly I didn't care- I just wanted to celebrate in a way that I knew would speak to his sweet little heart. Which, yes, is directly linked to his stomach. Ha! So I lifted the dessert ban for just one night, truly out of character for me- showing grace/mercy when rules have been broken isn't one of my strong suits, so it was a good reminder for me that we are all in need of a little mercy sometimes.

That, and chocolate cake.  =)

But now I really do need to get crack-a-lacking on that list. 

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Snow Days

The first Friday of 2014! Woo-hoo! And one of our last vacation days. Some days haven't been all rosy, if you know what I mean, but I think I'm going to feel really, really lonely come Monday morning. We just survived our first blizzard of '14, and man, is it COLD out there! My skin has more scales than a python about now- so itchy and dry! Yes, there could be worse things....

So I've been thinking a lot about blogs and babies and business lately, and you know what I've decided?

I truly have no idea!

I don't know when my arms - and our baby crib- will no longer be empty; I don't know if I want to own/run a sewing business indefinitely; and I don't know what exactly I want for this blog, but I can't seem to say goodbye to it, either (starting, oh, say 4 new blogs in the past calendar year)...but I am going to keep moving forward, doing whatever it is I feel that God is leading me toward. I know my writing plays a big part in that, so I will be dedicating much more time to that this year. I know that I'm incredibly blessed, that I have everything I need and then some, so I don't say this to complain; it's just that I feel like something isn't quite right. I realized that I was actually dreading the start to a new year because deep down I felt like it will be one more year to dwell on my failures, one more year that puts me farther and farther away from my dreams. Not exactly a Hallmark moment, right? I'm not sure where along the way- or how- I began feeling like this, but it has been a huge burden for me. So I'm going to stop fretting over the particulars and instead seek God and trust Him with all my hopes and dreams.

Here are some fun pictures of our snow days this week:

Ethan had an early morning orthodontist's appointment and I didn't feel too confident driving in the snowy, icy conditions, so I sweet-talked the hubs into going for me. Poor Ethan has had more headaches this week (and yes, it scares the goodness gracious out of me!) and he was not a happy camper about having to waste a good vacation day getting up super early. Life's rough.  ;o)
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