Saturday, April 30, 2011

31 Days Closer . . .

Shelly Final

Hey guys!

I'm so excited!

Tomorrow I'm starting a 31-Day blog series called "31 Days Closer to Your Kids."

Sandy Cooper of "The Amazing Adventures of Fitness Friday Girl," Melanie Dorsey of "Bella~Mella," Lisa Smith of "Glad Chatter," Missy at "It's Almost Naptime," and Jen Ferguson of "Finding Heaven" are all taking part in this 31 Day extravaganza, each with a different topic.

More details to come tomorrow . . . along with details about a huge kick-off giveaway! So come on back tomorrow, will you?


Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Party

Good morning! Come on in!

Grab a tiara and a Royal Wedding Bingo card.

How about a spot of tea?

The food is ready.

Especially the yummy scones Kate made. (My Kate, not that Kate--she was a little busy this morning.)

We have cucumber sandwiches too.

I told you we'd be having a party, and party we did. At 4:30 this morning, 12 college girls descended on my house to watch "the wedding of the century" according to news reports.

Check out these girls' faces as Kate came walking down the aisle. I'll admit, she was a bit mesmerizing.

Here's Princess Abby. Isn't she cute?

All of these girls are adorable, and they had so much fun this morning dreaming of their own "weddings of the century." By the way, I told them they had to speak in a fake British accents and wear their tiaras all day today. I actually think a couple of them might just do that.

Finally the big moment arrived. Wills and Kate kiss on the balcony. How cute are they??!!

The girls swooned.

And then they fell asleep.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Light

They sat right there, within reach, on the checkout counter of the dimly lit doctor’s office. Those little rolled-up sunglasses that just curve around your face, making you look like your grandpa who used to wear those hook-on sunglasses around his real glasses.

And so I passed them by.

Yes, my pride is huge.

I rationalized that my own sunglasses were just in my car. Surely I could get myself to the car without having to put a piece of ugly rolled-up plastic on my face.

As soon as I stepped out of the building I regretted my decision.

The light!

My dilated pupils took in so much sunlight I had to blink. Hard. When I tried to open my eyes I couldn’t do it. Beams of light were streaming in from every direction, and I squinted and squirmed uncomfortably, hoping in those first few minutes to quickly adjust.

My eyes started to water profusely as I struggled to find my keys and make my way, slowly, to the car where my sunglasses awaited me.

Why did I not take the plastic protectors when they were offered to me? Now, practically feeling my way to the car, I wondered why I had been so stupid. It was a mere 25 yards, but the walk (or should I say, the grope) to my car felt like a mile.

The light just streamed in, hitting every exposed surface of my inner eye, and I could not stand to look outside.

In those few feet I could not help but think of the Light we had been studying in Bible study this year in the book of John.

This True Light (John 1:9) who Himself created the light (Genesis 1:3) and whose light cannot stand to be looked upon (Exodus 19:21) is brighter than even the discomfort I experienced that day. His light is all-consuming.

And one day, we will get to see His light. All the time.
"And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
" Revelation 22:5
What a day that will be.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Your Royal Wedding Watchers Guide

Alright, Anglophiles. It’s game time.

This week is OUR Super Bowl week, and Friday is the Big Game.

Time to exercise your clicker finger. Time to bake scones. Time to pull out that old bridesmaid’s dress and wear it.

It’s Royal Wedding Week.

There’s just a bit of buzz about the Royal Wedding going on around here. Three girls live in our house. Are you kidding me?! We’re just a little bit excited.

We will be celebrating with a group of college girls (along with any high school or junior high students who might want to get up early) at 5:00 a.m. Tea, scones, and cucumber sandwiches are on the menu.

As a public courtesy, I thought I’d give you a few ideas to enhance your Royal Wedding week.

Of course, your RW stage central is the Official Website of the Royal Wedding. Here you’ll find pretty much everything you’ve ever wondered about the Royal family, its history, and their friends. You can even find a seating chart . . . just in case you’re wondering where to sit in Westminster Abbey.

Fox News also offers a Royal Wedding page on their website, complete with the guest list and plenty of videos.

And then there’s the BBC. The BBC website offers love stories, a map of the wedding route, and even a Middleton family tree (I guess that’s just to prove she really is a Commoner).

Just for Fun
Boden, THE place for adorable British fashion, is THE place for Bingo this week. Go to their website to download Royal Wedding Bingo cards that you can play during the ceremony.

And while we’re having fun, how about a movie? One of my personal Royal family favorites is “The Queen.” It’s particularly fitting right now since it’s rumored that Wills and Kate will be honeymooning in Balmoral, and much of the movie takes place there.

(As an aside, why anyone would want to honeymoon in Balmoral, where it’s cloudy and foggy and about 45 degrees all year long is beyond me. But, hey, who am I to talk? I went to Wisconsin on my honeymoon. But that’s another story for another time. Or never.)

Another favorite British movie that has nothing to do with the Royal family but is one of my favorites is “Notting Hill.” Because . . . why not?

Finally, for a HUGE laugh, you have to see the Man Hater’s Channel Lifetime movie “William and Kate” played by C-list British actors who have never been to St. Andrews let alone ever ridden in a Range Rover (not that I ever have either, but hey, one can dream). To properly watch this movie you have to gather a bunch of friends together, drink a couple of glasses of wine, and only use your fake British accent all night long.

This movie just has to be experienced to be believed, but thankfully Lifetime has given us a 30 second trailer for their stellar film. Watch this and get in the mood for Friday.

So tell me, how will you be celebrating the Royal Wedding this week? WILL you be celebrating the Royal Wedding?



To you, my independent one.

My oh-so-disciplined child who has

. . . practiced willingly

. . . studied carefully

. . . loved tenderly

. . . saved diligently

. . . given faithfully

. . . tutored selflessly

. . . befriended loyally

. . . traveled begrudgingly

. . . laughed joyfully

. . . challenged truthfully

Thank you for teaching me so much. Thank you for your sense of humor, your sense of style, and your sense of caring.

You, special girl, are a gift, and I love you so much.

Happy birthday, Caroline!




Monday, April 25, 2011

Gratitude Journal

I've been struggling lately.

Struggling to find words.

I'm not sure why--I usually have plenty to say. But lately, I just can't seem to figure out how to say it.

But here's what I know . . . thankfulness will lead me somewhere good. So today I'll just keep listing and reaching and seeking and finding.

152. A beautiful day to work in my garden. (That was a couple of weeks ago!)

153. A visit from my mom. Such a treat!

154. April showers. (Can I really be thankful?)

155. Ducks on our roof.

156. Closed doors. (Can I truly thank Him?)

157. Open doors.

158. Faith stretching opportunities.

159. Good Friday service.

160. Easter with family and friends.

161. Easter hymns.

162. Kate home for the weekend.

163. A great birthday last week.

164. Remembering 17 years ago this week--a second blessing to our family.

165. He is Risen! Indeed!

Linking up with Ann today.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Do You Have "Stuff"?

I sure do.

I'm sitting here amidst a mess on my desk that is calling out for my attention. Who knows what's buried here?

My dog has tracked in so much mud lately I could give myself a facial.

I've been frustrated with the procrastinator I am.

Sometimes I wonder how on earth God can use me. But thankfully He does . . . somehow.

If you've ever felt like me, you HAVE to listen to this song by Francesca Battistelli. It's her most recent release, and it is a fun, toe-tapper if I've ever heard one. (By the way, Francesca's got some other great songs that have landed on my iPod lately.)

Plus, it makes me feel so much better about the mess I am.

Enjoy this today!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Here's What I Know

1. My mom is visiting with us for a few days.

2. It’s colder here than it should be right now. (Sorry, Mom!)

3. My kids have more activities than usual this week.

4. College Girl is coming home for the weekend (yippee!), so I've got some cooking to do.

5. It’s Holy Week, and I’ve got some reflecting to do.

6. We’ve also got some celebrating to do. My birthday is tomorrow. (*gulp*)

7. Between church services and family fun, there won’t be a lot of blogging this week.

So here’s the deal. I think I’ll post a couple of previously run posts this week. And I’ll come up with new material as I can, but no guarantees.

I’ll miss you, but I need to focus my energy here at home right now.

See you when I can!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fabulous Friday Food - From Great to Average

In the interest of keepin' it real around here, I thought I'd let you in on a few secrets and call it a Fab Friday Food post.

1. I didn't cook anything fabulous this week. In fact, I really can't remember what we ate this week. Do you ever have weeks like that?

2. I may be a great cook, but not everything I cook comes out great. How is that possible, you ask? Well, take a look at these pathetic pancakes.

I burned made these while on Spring Break when I was forced to cook on an electric stove.

3. I hate electric stoves.

4. Here's another flop from last weekend. Ree, a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman, gave this recipe for a grilled Romaine salad with a strawberry balsamic reduction. I thought that sounded really good. I still think it sounds really good.

It tasted like dirt.

[Ree, if you're reading this, I am sure it has nothing to do with your recipe and everything to do with me. And if you're reading this I think you probably have too much time on your hands--don't you have a conglomerate to run?]

5. Just yesterday I was trying to do something nice for my girls, so I made their all-time favorite cookies. These . . .

. . . for which I actually have already given you the recipe. They are delicious, unless you put them in the oven and then go upstairs and get completely sidetracked and leave them in the oven for about 15 minutes too long and then you smell something so you go check on the cookies only to realize that the oven timer has been going off for 15 minutes. Oh my heavens.

But, being the troopers that we are, we soldiered forth, cutting away the really brown parts from the edge and diving right into the middle of the pan. They were pretty good, but not great.

So, see? Not every week is a bang-up, wonderful, fantastic food week. Some weeks are just your average I-can't-even-remember-what-we-ate-for-dinner weeks.

I'm still a great cook, but I had an average week.

How about you? What did YOU have for dinner this week?


Five Minute Friday

It's Friday! There's a lot on my plate today, so I'm grateful to Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama who makes it easy to put up a quick, yet thoughtful, blog post.

Today's Five Minute Friday topic is Distance. So let me check the little clock up in the corner of my computer screen and I'll be back in five minutes.


When I think of distance all I can think of is my family. A close-knit family, growing up amidst the tall corn fields and black dirt of Illinois.

Yet today, we are all spread out. Nine hundred miles to the closest of my relatives. Twice that to my parents.

Does distance separate us? Yes.

And no.

We do not let distance come between us. Christmas has become a priority. Cousins still hang out happily, connecting instantly, and tell us they still want to have "cousins Christmas" every year . . . as they said, "Even when we have husbands." (!)

Other times we make being together a priority too: weddings, graduations, even orchestra concerts as my mom will attest to. She's coming next week just to see her granddaughter play in the orchestra--something she's never been able to do, being 1,800 miles away.

Distance can be spanned. We can be as close as we want. And for my family, even being a thousand miles apart, we are right next door.



Thursday, April 14, 2011

Defining My Blog

Hi again!

Two posts in one day? Only for Sarah at Modern Country Style who is hosting a "Define Your Blog" party today.

Have you met Sarah yet? She's amazingly talented, amazingly sweet, and amazingly gracious. Plus, she lives in my favorite place. Go check her out sometime.

But not yet. Stay here for a second, will you? Because Sarah has asked us to define our blogs, which is a challenge for me.

I kind of did that recently for the Ultimate Blog Party--you can find that post here.

So today I thought I'd totally steal an idea from my friend, Glenda, and use pictures to define myself.

Briefly, my blog is mostly about four F's: Faith, Family, Food, and Fun!


My relationship with Jesus Christ will hopefully come through while your read about the rest--the family, the food, and the fun. He is here, and He is everything.


Married for 26 years to my college sweetheart, B.

We have three teenage daughters with whom we share many fun adventures.

I write about parenting kind of a lot--I guess I'm passionate about getting that one thing right in my life.


I love food. I love to cook it, and I love to eat it. Come around on Friday and you'll usually get a recipe from me.


I love to laugh. I love to have fun. And I LOVE to travel. Most of the fun I write about are our travel adventures. Particularly travel adventures to England--I've been there six times . . . and counting.

Here's the house I'd live in if I lived in England.

And this would be my view.

Well, maybe this one.

Or this one.

One can dream.

Alright, and just for fun and so you can get a little sense of where I actually really do live, here are a couple of pictures of the bathroom remodel we did last summer.

Welcome to my little corner of the world. It's a great place to be.

This post is also linked to Amy's Finer Things Friday! Go visit Amy too!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dayspring "Grace" Tiles

"Hey, Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!"

I know that's what you're thinking this week.

I realize this is NO decorating blog. Not by any stretch of the imagination. When you click over here, I'm fairly certain that you're not expecting anything in the way of beautiful pictures of my professionally decorated home. That's just not me.

Don't get me wrong. I love my home. I love making it comfortable. I love entertaining and having people stay with us. And I love looking at other people's beautiful homes.

I just don't think I'm very "gifted" in the decorating sense. Not like Sarah. Oh my! That girl has a gift! (It doesn't hurt that she lives in a gorgeous place, too.)

Anyway, this week has been a little different. Yesterday's question sure generated a lot of opinion from you all. (Thanks for nothing.) I've decided, thanks to my wise middle daughter, to keep the red for one more year and see how I feel. BUT . . . good news! . . . I think I'm going to change the window treatments and the furniture. That should help, don't you think?

But that's not the point of this post.

Sometimes we just need a little boost rather than a complete room makeover. Sometimes we just need to change out a picture or fill in an empty space to make us feel like we've contributed a little something to our home.

And that's just what I did this week, thanks to Dayspring. When they asked me to review their new "Grace" wall tiles I immediately jumped on the opportunity. Because, you know, "Grace" is my word this year.

I had an empty space in my dining room where the tiles fit perfectly. And doesn't it just seem fitting to add a little "Grace" to your dining experience? Maybe the irony is lost on you, but I thought it was cute.

Here's a closer view.

Want one of these beauties? Right now, Dayspring is offering $10 off the Grace Wall Tiles at the Dayspring (in)Courage store. They have some other great deals going on right now, too, so go check them out.

You can find more Dayspring product reviews at the (in)Courage (in)spired deals page.

Thanks to (in)Courage and Dayspring who provided these beautiful wall tiles for me to review!