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

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sparkling Winter

Today has been a bone-chilling, blustery winter day...Brrrr....but the last few days we enjoyed some warmer, absolutely beautiful temperatures. One of those days happened immediately after a storm, and the next morning was so mild and warm and wonderful! Jonah and I headed out with Ryder to take in the sparkly sights around our neighborhood. Such a great morning!

Now it's time to get started on the mashed potatoes and Green Bean Casserole (to go with Pork Roast). Happy Monday!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Double Cocoa Dream Cookies - A Versatile Cookie with Many Variations

I meant to post these yesterday for Cookie Friday, but... make them, and I will be forgiven. They're that good.

Double Cocoa Dream Cookies
adapted slightly from my favorite Nestle cookbook

You'll need:

1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
2/3 heaping cup granulated sugar (this is a lesser amount than called for, so you can add more if you prefer reaaallly sweet cookies)
1 scant cup packed brown sugar
1 - 11/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose (we use unbleached) flour, packed
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
dash salt
2 cups semi- sweet chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy. Beat in eggs until light and fluffy. In a small bowl (or simply add to the butter mixture), combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. The cocoa powder is super dusty, so beware when using an electric mixer- start on low. Stir in chocolate chips when thoroughly mixed.

*I've used a combination of creme de menthe and semi-sweet chips, peanut butter and semi-sweet chips, and milk chocolate and semi-sweet chips...ALL delicious!!!

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheet (or parchment paper). Bake 8-10 minutes or until slightly puffy. Remove from oven and let stand a minute or two before removing to wire rack to cool.

Eat just one.
I dare you.  ;)

Looking for a fab homemade Whoopie Pies, with REAL creme filling? Check out THIS post!!

sharing with:
chef in training

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Blizzards, Breakfasts and Designer Jeans...

Oh what randomocities (new word there, and I think I like it!) are swirling around inside my head right now. Much like the snow today. And yesterday. And the day before that. And for three days last week.

So what's winter without a good old nor'easter? Without mammoth-sized icicle fangs clambering down the house from the eaves? Without the perpetual muck-colored, gritty puddles from dirty boots that keep multiplying all over my hallway and kitchen floor?

Well, we've had all that, a hundred times over it seems. And I am SO DONE with winter. As in, well...I don't what...but I'm pretty sick of cold and ice and snow and gritty puddles. The irony here is that I know all too well I'll be complaining about the sickly, oppressive heat come June and July.

Maybe I should just stop complaining then.  =)

Today was actually a pretty great day. It started with breakfast out with my two student-sons, an academic advisory meeting of sorts. Or just pancakes. Really, really good pancakes. I even let Jonah get a cup of coffee when he asked, ha! I know he didn't like it that much, but he wasn't about to admit it. Double ha! I'd been planning this for weeks now, but the frequent snowstorms continually put those plans to a screeching halt. So today I went for it!

Nothing else I had planned for the day worked out at all, but you know what? It was okay. It was even better than okay. We had fun anyway. There may not have been as much learning going on, but I got the chance to spoil my guys just a little bit (hence the designer jeans, on sale of course, and with Ethan chipping in; no, Jonah did not walk away if!). Totally worth it!

So here are some random photos of our random day. How funny that I posted a picture on Instagram this morning declaring my love for that stranger-orb shining so sweetly...and precisely two o'clock the biggest snowflakes I have ever seen began wafting down, covering the car completely in less than five minutes! Amazing and terrifying all at the same time!

Cherry-cheeked big brother giving sister a lift up the hill- so cute!
Until the fighting resumed and Isabelle came in pouting. Oh well.

I enjoyed a lovely half an hour of quiet (before the pouting) while I made cornbread and cornbread muffins to go with our favorite Beef Stew.

Welcome to Buh-lizz-ard Town

Big brother cops up to whacking this one, and tries to make it better by acting silly and making her laugh.
I think it worked.

Someone was getting a little stressed out with all the tension in the air.

Oh right, he looks much calmer now- can you tell they're best friends?
No? They don't absolutely adore each other?

Over the weekend we went to my sweet niece's 3rd birthday party, and I had my picture taken with this cutie- he looks adorable, and I look kinda strange...Let's call it the lighting. And maybe the crazy blushing cheeks. ha ha

Even more cookies.

Biggest brother feigns sleep while Isabelle reads him a story. These are the things I store up and know I will treasure forever.
And the piles of sock laundry just add to the happy. HA We live on the edge, I tell you. 

The most beautiful little girl in my world. Those eyes, that grin, cute as a button nose- all of it!
Though I do see some probable ortho in the works.  ;)

Have a great night! I hope to be sharing that cookie recipe on Friday.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day

This winter wonderland sure does make things look and feel extra romantic today.

Perhaps slightly less so when you take into account that we are trapped at home with sugar-crazed, full-throttled yelling kiddos who are determined to test every patience bone in our little old bodies.

But yeah, other than, it's perfect!

For now, I'll settle with this picture collage.

They can't talk back.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Making Clothes...Cuter

So let's pretend that I wasn't exhausted at the end of the day and have to go to bed by 9:48...and that it's still Tuesday. M'kay?

Hey there! It's Tuesday, my house is relatively clean, laundry is {relatively} caught up, AND...I had a fabulous Hair Day. Yes, so good in fact, I must use Capitals. I don't know what inspired me- okay, that's a lie. Two of the darlings had their well-checks today. With the doctor I kinda like.


I put my Pins to good use, pulled up my big girl britches, and plugged in the hair dryer, flat iron and curling iron. No, not all at the same time. And I did it! Me! I was all, "Whoa, this actually looks like the pictures in the pin!!!!" I posted a picture on instagram here if you're curious. And I had a springy skip in my step all day long.

Even if it was all of 19 degrees out today.

Anyhoo again.

Today I mailed my first ever saw-your-nightgowns-on-the-blog-can-I-order-some order! To Australia! That was kind of a thrill. Except for the fact that the post office guy made me stand on the sidelines for what felt like a hundred years, waiting on some form that turned out to be the wrong one, and then I had to wait more because he'd already called other people up. Hey there, remember me? The one who was here, oh I don't know, a hundred years ago?

Well we finally got things squared away and off it went. Then it was time to pick up Jonah and Ethan from the hockey rink at the park.Yet another perk from our liberating new homeschool adventure.

So. I've had this post brewing for quite some time and am just now getting around to write it. It all started with a plain ol' pair of black fuzzy gloves. And I wanted to make them...cuter! Check it out over HERE if you want to take a peek!

Not sure why this photo is looking so dark because these nightgowns (the order for Australia) were just about the sweetest things I've seen all month long! A marvelous antidote to the Arctic that has overthrown poor February.

Today (yes, it's Wednesday now) I've got to get some Valentine's things in order, good things, like cake. And heart-shaped bread.  =)

Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Moments to Remember

These days are relentless! Hard as I try to slow them down, they just won't listen. I find myself still under the delusion that I need balance, but the truth is, life with other people is often chaotic, unplanned, and rather messy...what good would balance do me? I do what I can do when I can do it. That's enough right now.

Speaking of right now, I hear people cheering and yelling through the TV in the other room, and now there's talk of gold and silver medals. I hesitate to admit this {kind of} for fear I come off sounding unpatriotic or something, but watching and/or following the Olympics holds my interest for about as long as I can stand there brushing my teeth until the toothpaste starts foaming and dripping out of my mouth. And then I run to the bathroom to spit, maybe wipe the front of my shirt off, and never really end up going back to watch more. So, right. I'm as die-hard a fan as they come.

February has the distinct pleasure of being that dull, in-between month that I have to drag myself through on the way to March, when at least I can pretend that Spring is coming. This February? Brutal. So brutally cold I can't stand being outside for any length of time. Maybe a little longer than the aforementioned tooth-brushing scenario, but still. I think I'm beginning to lose my marbles here.

Since we're in {a LOT}, the kitchen is a perpetual dumping ground and general mess. That's taking its toll on my sanity for sure, but at least we're well fed, for which I'm grateful. So a messy kitchen is a productive and happy kitchen. I'm pleased to report (to myself mainly) that I've done a really good job of staying active, one of my goals for this new year. I rotate between a few fitness DVD's or Wii Sweat for 25 minutes most mornings by five, and bring Ryder outside for a walk once or twice each afternoon. Now if I could just get out of the kitchen, I might even seen more results.  =)

I nearly squealed at the grocery store this week when I eyed the first bucketful of daffodils for the season. They practically flung themselves into my cart, and now they're sitting cheerfully on the counter top. And on the dining room table. And in the family room. (Maybe two or three or seven bunches jumped in! Just kidding- only two; thankfully a bunch goes a long way.)

Okay, time to go sit with my mister and unwind a bit. Happy Saturday night!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Choosing the Path of Grace (When It's Not Easy)

Well...I started this post on Sunday evening, and now we here we are on Wednesday morning. It's a Snow Day here (both school and church activities for today were announced as cancelled by 7 pm!), and I'm even letting J and E take the day off. HA We were out until nearly 10pm last night watching the broadcast of the debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye at church, and I had a really hard time staying awake. Science isn't- and never will be- my "thing." I can understand and appreciate it, but it's never going to rock my world. Needless to say, the debate was no exception there. No world rocking. Though I think I appreciate it more now as I think about some of the points than when I was actually watching it.

Ethan was pretty ticked at me last night, if that gives any indication as to his opinion of the whole thing. Can't win them all.

I'm going to backtrack and post this next part how I wrote it (on Sunday night) so I don't ever forget. It was just one of those spontaneous, precious moments you know you'll treasure forever.

I love my boys so much. From the time our eyes first met to all the many adventures we've shared in between. Of course, there are the occasional challenges, and lately we've been facing a few with our Caleb. I find myself often thinking about how I can best help him navigate these rougher waters of growing up.

After a somewhat trying day, I took a deep breath and silently prayed for more. More grace, more wisdom, more love. To be more than I'm able to be on my own.
So tonight I decided to spend a few extra minutes with him as he got settled for bed. As we sank into our spots, side by side under Mimi's silky-soft afghan, he excitedly started in with the low-down on the Super Bowl, up to that point anyway (about 8:20).

"Manning's good, I guess, but I hope the Seahawks take 'em," he says. "That'll be the best revenge for the Pats, the way the Broncos humiliated them at the AFC Championship. I want the Broncos to feel the torture." And he emphasized the word torture, just so I'd be certain he meant it. ha ha

We chatted a bit more about school, sports, life.

"Hey Mom," he suddenly whispered in the dark. "I think I know what I want to be when I grow up."

As I listened to the excitement rising in his too-loud-for-bedtime voice, I smiled, wondering what it would be tonight. The army general and the police officer have been neck in neck for years now. Then there's the occasional fireman, security guard, pilot, and wildlife

"What?" I answered, already anticipating his answer.

"A trillionaire. So I can have enough money to buy all the orphanages in the world so all the boys and girls will have a home, with me. I will be their family."

Cue waterworks.

When he said "trillionaire," immediately words like selfish and worldly came to my mind, and I have to admit that my heart sank ever so slightly. I wondered if this was an area where I might be failing as a parent.

But he didn't stop there.

I was dead wrong. I had assumed the worst, and I was wrong.

We went on to discuss his beautiful plans to give every child a home and a family, careful, detailed ideas to bring comfort and hope to those in need, and I was so moved I could barely choke out the words when it was time to say our goodnight prayers.

The grace that God gave me tonight to put aside my frustrations and disappointments allowed me a glimpse inside his precious little boy heart, and it was such a wonderful reminder to always choose the path of grace. What I would have missed out on if I had chosen instead to keep my focus on outward behaviors!

Since I'm feeling so nostalgic these days...
My little guys-

Out exploring-

This one gets me in so many ways I can't even begin-

I'm quite sure I'll need to be reminded of this over and over and over again, but for today, I'm choosing the path of grace because I want to know my children's hearts.

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