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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I was in the middle of writing a fun post about our weekend, but I just can't keep my thoughts together today. So I'm going to get honest. You can stop reading now if you want to be spared the drama.  =)  Life is busy busy busy with sports, frequent trips to the grocery store, sewing and more sewing, laundry, cooking good meals, just the everyday things- especially with the added new responsibilities of homeschooling our three boys- and I find myself lying awake at night worrying wondering how I'm going to get it all done. Am I enough for them? What do they need that I may not be giving them? Are they missing out on important things because of me or my limitations? And who decides what's important anyway, for that matter?

I miss my friends- our life- at our old church. I still grieve often, and while I adore my new friends, nothing is the same. I know so many wonderful ladies there, and I know that they wouldn't hesitate to come alongside me in my struggles, but I can't bring myself to open up to them. It just makes me wish things could be like they used to be, but they can't. I know that.

If you've been reading for a while, then you know we have been trying to adopt a baby for nearly three years now. I haven't talked about it much because, well, mostly it just makes me cry. It leaves me doubting, wondering, and after last week's disappointment (which I didn't post about), it has left me soured, cynical, and even angry with God. Why put us through all this when all we want to do is be a family for someone in need? After the agony we went through with Isabelle, why does this second journey have to be equally- or more- difficult? Just so much confusion in it all, and my heart is breaking in the process.

And then I think about all those would-be Moms and Dads who never get to experience the beauty of conceiving and carrying a child, the excitement of the greatest anticipation in the entire world. The nursery to dream about and prepare, the darling photos of the growing baby bump, and yes, of course, those magical lists of what to do, what you'll need, what to bring here and when, etc... I'm not saying that adoption isn't also magical and exciting- of course it is! But having given birth and having adopted, I say with clarity and good conscience that they are not at all the same. Everything is different, from beginning to end, except for one thing: love.

It's a life-changing love. Powerful, strange, and consuming. I think of the many couples I've met over these three years who've long ached for a child, who have risked so much emotionally, financially, and whose arms remain empty. I might understand their pain, if only a little, but I have not experienced their losses in the same way. My heart truly breaks for them as I wonder why their dreams of parenthood are not coming true. Their strength humbles me, as adopting in this country is not as easy as many people would have you believe. If you're reading this and you've dreamed of becoming a Mommy but it hasn't yet happened, please know that I am praying for you often.

Several years ago, when I was going through one of the darkest times in my entire life, I learned about this passage while attending a Beth Moore study at our old church. It reminds me that it's okay to surrender my hopes and dreams to God because I can trust Him. Only He can transform my despair and ashes into something beautiful, and His comfort is like none other.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, 
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion -- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61: 1-3

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tom Brady and The 2014 House List

Yeah, that's right. Hangin' with Number 12. We totally had a vibe going on...can't you see it?

I'm almost sorry I'm subjecting you to this. This is me, no make-up (except for my favorite cheapo lip gloss) and with my been-in-the-rain-and-under-a-hat-all-day hair. Or, you're welcome because you probably feel a lot better about yourself right now?  ;) Well anyhoo, we had such a great time and I will cherish that night forever. I'll write more about it tomorrow.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm an ardent list-maker. People, there are sub-lists of my lists! It's bad. Our "house list" has dwindled considerably, but there are still lots of lingering projects. Nothing too extraordinary by itself, but all together, I'm slightly hyperventilating. I'm just going to have to jump in and start somewhere, which means I'm going to have to work really hard to stay on top of the boys' schooling, customer's orders, life in general, and now these projects. I thought I'd blog about them to keep me motivated to finish...though at this point, perhaps the motivation to simply begin is more like it.

2014 House Goals
1. Install closet system in the Master Bedroom Closet
2. Finish upstairs Main Bath
3. Either paint, put up a border (yuck) or crown moulding in Isabelle's room
4. Better storage/shelving for Ethan's room and Jonah's room
6. Add shelf or art to First Floor Bath
7. First Floor Hallway/ Entryway
8. Replace Front Door
9. Replace/ Redo Front Steps
10. Finish removing haphazard rock wall and cleaning up entire area (otherwise known as the "pet cemetery") in front yard
11. Finish large/huge/ginormous/completely overwhelming rock wall garden in front yard
12. Replace garage door
13. Replace garage entry door
14. Redo Kitchen Pantry
15. Redo Upstairs Hall Linen Closet

There is probably more, but my official list (and three sub-lists) are all upstairs, and since Ryder was making gagging noises in his house and I let him out waaaay early this morning, I am not leading him upstairs to jump on multiple sleeping children in order to go get said lists. So from memory will have to do.

See? Now that it's written out, it seems like a lot. But I know it's a much smaller list than when we first started here, not quite a year and a half ago. This next photo is in reference to #10 on the list- Ethan has been instrumental in tackling this huge project, and I'm one impressed Mama. I'll have more pictures to show soon.

If you want to read where we got started, click here
THIS POST shares some of our progress so far. Happy Monday!

You can find me @ Rose & Ruffle on Facebook HERE
and on Instagram HERE

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lazy Saturday Mornings...

...are OVER! 
It's official. Our lazy, leisurely Saturday mornings (since soccer ended, anyway) are a thing of the past until baseball season's done. Of course, last year's season ended rather abruptly with a broken leg over Memorial Day weekend, so let's hope to avoid that scenario this year!

 Over the years, everyone except Ethan has played ball. (Ethan doesn't really like baseball, which is a shame because he is really, really good at it.) This year, however, only Caleb has returned to the sport- he just loves it so, so much! And boy, do we have a special surprise planned for him about 10 days from now...  ;)

Here's a look back at my other superstar sluggers- I can hardly stand the cuteness.

But it's still a Saturday, and I love making a good, yummy breakfast for everyone. I went for a nice long walk early this morning and had plenty of time to whip up our favorite puff pancakes with fruit when I got back. You can read the recipe here. And tonight, we have a big surprise for Ethan and Jonah, so C and I will spend the night at Mimi and Grampy's. This is going to be a great Saturday!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Custard-Style Baked Rice Pudding

Good morning! It sure is a chilly one here today, with obnoxious winds to boot. Poor Isabelle has had a feverish cough for a couple of days, and night times are always the worst when coughing is involved. Ugh. I am so tired! I don't know if we'll be able to do much today, either, with it being so cold and her not feeling well. Anyway, yesterday my parents dropped by for lunch and hung out for a while, which was so nice, and then last night we surprised everyone and ordered Chinese food, rented a movie, and we had a family room picnic. So fun! We were celebrating with take-out for two reasons: 1. Daddy, who leaves every morning by 4:45 so he can get home earlier in the day and works very hard, was recognized at work and received a raise; and 2. I had to grab some groceries with a cranky person beside me and got distracted and forgot a bunch of stuff, so all of the dinners I'd planned on weren't happening.

You'd think I'd be a pro by now. Oh well.  ;)

Onto the recipe... This Baked Rice Pudding is such an easy one, and a great way to use up leftover white rice, either instant or longer-cooking. (I have used a combination of white and brown rice which is okay, but I don't think this recipe would fare well with just brown rice, and not with long grain or obviously flavored rice.) It's a good, warm comfort food in fall and winter, but also yummy for spring or summer when served cool or cold. A dollop of whipped cream doesn't hurt, either.

This has a basic custard recipe as its base, so it isn't that creamy, gooey kind of rice pudding. Saves you some calories and fat, all good.

You'll Need:
3 lightly beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 - 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup cooked rice (I never measure and usually end up with more- it's fine)
1/2 cup raisins (same story there...)
cinnamon and/or nutmeg
rectangular 13x9 and 8x8 dish, able to nest

Preheat oven to 325 F degrees and put some water in a tea kettle to boil, enough to cover the bottom of a 13x9 dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla until well blended but not too frothy or foamy. Next, add in the rice and raisins; stir gently with a spatula or spoon. Pour into an 8x8 dish and sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg. (I only use nutmeg.) Place this inside the 13x9 dish.

You can either add the boiling water before placing the dishes in the oven, or once they're on the oven rack; I prefer to do this beforehand. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Now, something I no longer do but that the original recipe calls for: after 30 minutes in the oven, stir the pudding; this makes it creamier. I think I used to do this, but then must have forgotten and just never went back to doing it since I love the custard part.

One of my helpers. Always in the kitchen when I'm baking. Silly cat. Oh look, Isabelle is outside playing in her snow gear... these pictures were taken several weeks ago.

 That afternoon got cloudy so the rice pudding looks sort of drab. It's a rich, yellow-cream color in person.

In our house, daughter and Daddy aren't big custard fans, so they generally opt out of this dessert. Crazy, right? It's so good!

PS: Omit the raisins and rice, and you've got a wonderful basic custard recipe, otherwise known as Flan. Cook in the same manner as above, or fill 6 small oven-proof dishes (they might even be called custard cups) in the 13x9 dish, fill with boiling water and bake 35-45 minutes. 
Every fall, my mother made these with apple chunks...delicious! Peel and chop one apple, place several apple chunks in the bottom of each dish, pour custard on top, sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon and bake as directed.

Enjoy! Since it's going to be cold today, I think we'll bake up some of this and make the house smell heavenly.I'm also working on some new tutorials for you- I hope to post them on the Rose & Ruffle blog soon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Visiting Salisbury Beach, Plum Island & Newburyport, MA

A couple of weekends back, we decided it would be fun to explore some areas that are semi-close to us but that we haven't visited before. After scouring the many websites that sang each city's/landmark's praises, we happily settled on these three: Salisbury Beach, Plum Island (including a historic lighthouse), and the quaint New England harbor town of Newburyport, all in Massachusetts.

We were really looking forward to visiting each place.

Until we actually got to them.

Oh my goodness gracious. Things went downhill faster than the speed of light, and by the end of the day, we were so ready to be done and just go home.

First off we headed to Salisbury Beach in Salisbury, MA. It was like a nature preserve of sorts, and dozens of people had parked their cars along the entrance road and were gathered around one tree in particular, with zoom lenses as big as houses pointing upward, I might add. Something had to be up there, but we had no idea what. Turns out it was a beautiful white Snowy Owl. She/He flew overhead just as I was pulling my camera out of the bag, so I didn't get a picture but I was happy we got to see it.

There were lots of parking areas heading in- and we noticed the fee for general day use in the summer months: $35 WHAT?!?!? - relieved we didn't fork over thirty-five bucks for this place. At first glance, it was new and exciting, and even pretty; however, five minutes in, I changed my tune. There was litter strewn everywhere. Bottles, cigarettes, snack bags, soiled diapers (as in more than one, and that's just ridiculously gross), cans, more bottles...I wouldn't let anyone remove their shoes for fear of them stepping on a hypodermic needle. Not even kidding. Ugh.

This boy was all smiles. Oh right, he's climbing and getting dirty and risking life and limb. Guy stuff for my guy's guy. Love him.

 And beautiful Isabelle. How did I get so lucky?

 This photo just says it all. It makes me smile.

 This one, too.

 Caleb has that look, getting ready to do something...

 He's making sure I'm ready to capture his antics on film.  =)

 And then quick as a flash, he leaps off the wall. So I guess I missed part of it. Bad Mommarazzi.

 He smiles so big his eyes disappear. Always has and I adore it.

 Purple sand. I wonder if it has anything to do with Red Tide... Well, we weren't planning on eating it so I wasn't too worried at the moment.

 HA! These two, always in this position on rocks near the water! The only things to be found here were, well, dead. Crabs, birds, fish... Just gross.

 Youngest must keep up with oldest. He always helps her up when she needs it, and it melts me. I have one brother, and he has never cared for me much. She has no idea how blessed she is, but I'm sure she will know one day.

 Really, who is this young man? Where is my little boy?

Ryder may have been a teensy bit distracted by the ducks and birds. People from all over were giving us strange looks because Ryder wails and howls and pretty much makes the most bizarre noises I've ever heard when he gets nervous or excited. Weirdy.

So at this point we decided to move on to Newburyport. For about eighteen of the twenty minutes it took to get there, I fought the urge to keep telling everyone to make sure their doors were locked. Ick. We finally made it, was all slightly underwhelming. To be fair, it was an overcast day and nothing had "greened up" yet, so everything looked blah and grey. Needless to say, nothing looked as it did on the lovely websites.

From there we were beginning to feel a little panicky about trying to salvage the rest of the afternoon. Onto Plum Island, where there is another nature reserve, more beaches, and a big lighthouse.

And here's what greeted us as we arrived. Looks homey, right? Just as you'd always imagined a US Coast Guard building to look? What the heck?

Then there was this. Such a strange feeling to this place. Deserted, only not.

The Karate Kid gave us a laugh, but it wasn't enough.

More ruins (the background, not the kid), the dog escaped and ran off- and it took forever to get him back- and the wind was picking up. Time to move it along. But where oh where is the lighthouse? No way it could be that puny one we'd seen across the road when we got here...

Of course it is. Okay, so it doesn't look so puny when they're posing next to it, but hello? It's waaaaaay across the street and barely visible from the ocean, which I thought was kind of the point of a lighthouse.

I do like the details at the top. Whatever. 
So we pretty much spent three hours' worth of gas for this? We decided that we'd at least drive through the Parker River (or maybe Plus Island- who cares at this point?) Nature Reserve before ruling it out. Didn't even make it through the first parking lot. We drove as quickly as the law allowed to the nearest Dunkin Donuts Honey Dew Donuts to at least grab the kiddos a hot cocoa for being such good sports. And then Isabelle had to use the bathroom, and oh my goodness gracious.Time to go home and decontaminate. Ew ew ewwww.

So that was our perfect family fun day. Awesome, right? ha ha

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter & Customer Packaging and Thank You Card Ideas

I was really happy when we woke to beautiful clear and sunny skies yesterday for Easter Sunday. Easter is magnificent no matter what, but it just feels so right when the sun is shining. Plus, my hair and Isabelle's often-unruly hair cooperated beautifully, which was an extra special treat since I have to leave before everyone else for choir and Daddy breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of being on "hair duty."  ;) We had dinner here with my parents - it was such a lovely day.

Today is the 118th Boston Marathon and it looks like another gorgeous day. We'll be cheering on some friends (from home), and praying for everyone's safety. When we visited Boston last weekend, things were already well underway for the big race. We New Englanders are a tough breed. Boston Strong.

Now onto the packaging details for the items I make and sell... several of you have asked me about my packaging and Thank You cards. I wrote up a post about it HERE.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Scalloped Potatoes: The Ultimate Comfort Food

 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit...
1 Peter 3:18
Today is Good Friday. I'm forever thankful for a savior who loves us just as we are, flaws and all, and who wants nothing more than to call us His own. I know lots of people think that God might not love them because they aren't perfect. That isn't true; He knows we aren't perfect and He loves us!

With our Spring weather teaser last week and the now near-freezing temps this week, I've got comfort food back on my mind. Scalloped Potatoes fit the bill perfectly. I didn't start making Scalloped Potatoes until recently, mainly after I bought a cookbook dedicated to solely to spuds. (One of those $1.99 Clearance deals, which not only screams, "Buy me, buy me" but simply jumps straight into my cart. True story.)


They are so, so good. The top gets slightly crunchy while the underneath layers get soft and tender and creamy. Yum! I altered the recipe slightly by avoiding heavy cream and using a lighter alternative.

4-5 potatoes, peeled, sliced thin
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
salt & pepper 
1 cup half and half (or light cream)
1/2 stick butter
parsley, fresh or jar
ham, diced (optional)

This is the longest part of the process: after you peel and slice the potatoes, let them sit in very cold water for at least a half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

You don't need to use fresh parsley, but it sure looks pretty.

To begin, coat the baking dish with butter. I used a large ceramic 9x13 dish; a heavy 2-quart dish would work, too. Then sprinkle some half the chopped garlic around the edges/sides of the dish; layer with potatoes. Add a splash of cream to cover potatoes, 4-5 pats of butter randomly placed, salt and pepper, a few more garlic bits, and a sprinkling of parsley.

If you add chopped ham, layer it with everything else.

Repeat these layers until all the potatoes are used.

You don't need to cover it at all. Bake for about an hour. Edges of the pan will brown, but you know the potatoes are done when they begin to brown.

Turn up the oven to 400F for the last 10 or so minutes if you want a nice browned topping; I didn't do that this time.

Sprinkle with more parsley and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Since I made slow-cooker ribs, I omitted the ham and used the potatoes as a side dish. It's more suitable as a main dish when you add the ham.

During the throes of soccer season, we learned that you can set the oven temp to 325F and bake for up to two hours, slightly longer. Delicious and versatile? Yes, please!

Check out this Hash Browns recipe for another great potato option.

Later this morning, the boys and I will be making these yummy things...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Winter Beach Day: North Hampton & Rye State Harbor Park

Exactly one month ago, we ventured out to North Hampton Beach, our first beach trek of 2014. (I keep trying to catch up, and I keep, well, not catching up...) The parking lot was a slushy, gooey mess, and drifts of snow covered the embankments still; but once we cleared the hill and navigated the slippery rocks leading toward the sand, it was so wonderful and freeing. Just what we needed after months and months of cold and dark and sub-zero temperatures.

And today, mid-April, we have fresh snow on the ground. Yikes!
I'm making this puff pancake for breakfast to try and ease the pain...

We savored riding along the coast with the windows rolled down a little bit. There's nothing like breathing in ocean air. 

Here we are at Rye State Harbor Park. Caleb and I had a special date over the summer at this very spot, and here we are again a few months later.

Isabelle can't bear to see me posing with anyone else before jumping in for her turn. I think I love that.  =)

We were in a slight rush to get back home because Ethan had a youth group outing that night. It was such a nice ride back, us chatting up front while the movie The Tooth Fairy had them laughing in the back. Then it was easy supper, baths and showers, and someone may have even picked up Chinese from our favorite place for a special little late-night dinner, just the two of us. What a wonderful day.
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