Friday, May 31, 2013

And the awards go to.....

May is such a busy month for most everyone.  I didn't know whether I was coming or going.
There were two weeks somewhere near the middle that had my head nearly spinning.  
I know you can relate..
doesn't it feel good to somehow know we're not alone in the craziness?
Thank God all months aren't as crazy as some.

The whole month would be a complete blur were it not for dear & faithful Instagram.
I swear most of these mundane moments captured might be lost forever otherwise.

May is a beautiful month, even in her busy{ness}.
She marks the end of another school year, while ushering in summer for us.  

Our weather has been amazing...glorious really.
Spring in Georgia is tricky. It goes from winter to chilly for a week and then hot. the end.
Except, not this year.  We've had cool mornings & evenings and very bearable afternoons.

This weather was made for laying in a hammock, and we have taken full advantage of it.
Andy and I always try sneaking out alone, but our kids sniff us out within three minutes.
Do they make a hammock for five people?  
Oh, who am I kidding.  Hammocks with five people in them are not peaceful at all.

So, I've decided to hand out awards in a few categories to a few of my IG shots each month.

First category: Most humbling
Bathing suit shopping.
Note to self: Your body's changing.  Deal with it and don't take it too seriously.  Laugh a little.

Second category: Most Annoying
Andy texting me a picture of his scrumptious breakfast.
Note to self: Schedule a "working" breakfast at Mama's boy pronto.

Third category: Most Inspiring
 Lydia breaking out into a spontaneous dance in front of the mirrors at Macy's.
Note to self: Have more spontaneous fun.

Fourth Category: Most Fun
A great visit with my college roommate and a couple of her kiddos.
Note to Self: Keep surrounding yourself with only dear friends.

How was May for you?
Are you handing out awards to any of your mundane moments?
life rearranged

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer time is GRILLING time.

I know you're wondering where the greens are.  
There was a salad.  I promise.
Why in the world it didn't land in the picture, I'll never know.
Apparently, we favor meet and potatoes over here.
{Let me introduce you to the men in our family!}

No.  I'll tell you what happened. 
We've got this rule.  We try HARD not to start eating before everyone is ready to eat.
Someone always breaks the rule, and it's usually me.
In my defense, I prefer to shove a piece of bread in my mouth before I sit down, 
that way, it doesn't count.  Right?!

I don't take pictures of our food very often, but when I do, 
my family nearly steps over to the dark side.
As was the case this particular night, when I was trying to snap some pictures for this post.

So, that's why my big, fat, colorful, healthy salad didn't make the picture.
If I'd pressed the issue, I might not be here today to tell you about that gorgonzola butter.

I'm no expert on grilling steaks, but a juicy ribeye is our all time favorite.
Random information:: I waitressed for about a year at Outback Steakhouse in college.
They taught me that the ribeye steak is the most flavorful of all steaks.  
Bet you're sooooo glad you stopped by today.

Summer makes cooking meals for our family so easy, doesn't it?
Grilled meat, a big salad or grilled veggies, and some bread or rice or potatoes.
{or bread AND rice or potatoes, if you live at our house!}

Okay...are you ready for that gorgonzola butter recipe?
Try it on your next literally melts all over the top and has potential to change your life.
I can't even begin to tell you how good it is!!!

Gorgonzola Butter:
4 tablespoons butter, softened
4 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese (or more if you're me)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped.

What are some of your favorite meals to cook during the summer months?
Spill it in the comments.  please and thank you.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Miscellany Monday and it's random goodness

I'm joining Carissa for her miscellany Monday post today...wanted to for forever.
Random is what summer is all about, as far as I'm concerned.

To start....none of these pictures were taken today.
I snapped a few of them last week at my parents' house. {the fence, the tree, and the barn door}
No matter how many times I go home, the feeling is always the same.
Memories of playing on that land swarm me.
I ran my legs off in those pastures.
My mom used to sit under that big tree with me...and now she sits under it with my children.
We pretended that barn was our house. That big door seemed enormous to my five year old self.
And the fence?  I used to sit on top of it {somehow} and watch my daddy bale hay.
so many memories.
There really is no place like home.

All the other pictures have been taken around our house..most of them at dusk.
Because I'm bonkers over dusk...I swear gratefulness bubbles up in me at sunset and spills out.
Do you have a favorite time of day?  ...a time that forces you to just stop and take it in.

We're just a few days into our summer break, and we're already so relaxed.
Andy and Luke took off to Florida this week..Andy is teaching at a youth camp.
You know what this means for me, don't you?
Easy meals, reading a couple of books, and lots of lounging at the pool.

Speaking of the pool...the younger two and I spent 4 hours there today.
This is our first year joining, and I won't regret a penny spent. 
Sanity is worth something, right?
They were occupied for hours with friends.
I talked with another mom and read half of my 2nd book this was glorious.

The first book I finished this week wasn't originally on my reading list, but I read it anyway.
It's called Three weeks with my Brother by Nicholas Sparks.
It took about 4 hours for me to read...he tells a lot of his story in the book.  I {heart} stories.
Easy read.

I can't believe I've never read ANY of his other books, so after I finished that one,
 I started one of his fictional novels called At First Sight.  Also, not on my reading list.
I suppose there needs to be some spontaneous reading in the mix, so there you go.
I'll get to that list eventually.
Hey, I'm just happy to be reading again...more reading=less ding-dong tv shows.
I didn't say NO ding-dong tv shows...just less. :)
You know what I've never watched that I think I'm finally gonna watch?
Friday Night Lights.  Watched it?  Recommend it?
Everyone in my life thinks we need to start from the beginning and watch every season.
Supposedly, we'll love it..small town USA...that's my childhood, so I think it'll bring up memories.

Okay.  Two last things for you to have on your radar.
Jeanne Oliver is hosting a summer mini-series with several really cool bloggers.
My good friend Paige will be doing one of the series on fashion at every age.  I can't wait!

Also, STARTING TODAY, is the Santos Cage doll making class with Jenn Rizzo.
It's not too late to sign up to take the course, and remember, you'll have access to it for a full year.

What does your week look like?
Counting down the days 'til your summer break or already enjoying it?

Friday, May 24, 2013

A funner Summer.

I've been gearing up for summer all week because today was our last day of school.
Whoooooooooo Hooooooooot!  Happy Dance!  Happy Dance!

I've made my summer reading list; now I'm working on one for the kids. 
Do your kids read over the summer?  We give our kids an incentive...MONEY.  
Works like a charm.
They don't get rich off of it, but they sure do compete to see who can earn the most.

I won't bother with showing you the chore list that I make, but believe me, I make one.
It's good for them.
Future spouses will thank me one day...I just know it.

I also break out the chalk and make a summer fun list...totally copied Meg a few years ago.
My only plan in the whole thing is to keep it simple.
It's so funny.  My parents never made a summer fun list.  Did yours?

My dad's idea of "summer fun" was working us near to death in the garden.
He swore it made us better people.  {he might have been onto something.}
My mom's idea was taking us swimming everyday and keeping us outside.
We lived outside from sun-up 'til sun-down.  
We played in the creek, ran in the pasture, and caught fireflies in mason jars.

The smell of summer was all over us at the end of each day; you know that smell?
We played hard and collapsed into bed each night.
And to think we did it without a summer fun list. 

What about you?  Do you make a summer plan?  
The older my kids get, the faster summer seems to fly by.  
I positioned that clock next to our list on remind me that it's all fleeting.

Remind me of that in about three weeks when I'm going bonkers.  umkay.  thanks.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bring on the Books...

The last day of school is this can't get here fast enough for any of us.  There will be lots of sleeping in and staying up late around our house very soon.

I for one am looking very forward to enjoying my kids.  
We're gonna swim and run and play with friends and cookout and eat ice cream and see summer movies and go to the beach and help in my parents' garden and go on extra long bike rides and sit on our deck as often as we can with friends and family.  

We're also going to be reading and {Shhhhhhh, don't tell them} doing Math.  
They'll thank me one day, surely.  Okay maybe not.  

I'm still working on their summer reads, but my list? It's stacked and ready to tackle!
I'm actually hoping to throw in a few more books, but I thought this would be a great start.
I set these lofty goals for myself...sometimes I meet them and sometimes I don't.  
There are under-achievers and there are over-achievers and then there's me. 
I'm somewhere in the radical middle.

I stunk it up this past year with reading for myself.  I think I only completed about three or four books total.  That's a first!  Reading is usually a solace for me. 
Wanna know what my solace was this year?   

The Office. 
The Bachelor.
Grey's Anatomy.
Real Housewives of OC, Beverly Hills and Atlanta.  

It's not my proudest moment, but I was a little off my game this year.  Anybody else?
It's lame, but having homeschooling two kids and having one at school just about did me in.
Okay....clearly by the looks of my tv choices, it FRIED me.

Nothing these long dog days of summer can't redeem, right?!
What about you? Any good ones on your list this summer?  Do tell!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Seven...a slow digestion.

Seven is the book that I started reading ten months ago. What in the world?

The goal when I started the book was to try the experiment for myself as I read along.
Wrong idea.  Epic Fail.
We all do this, don't we?
We see how God is moving in someones life, and it's so amazing, we want it.
It took me a while in the beginning to remember that comparison really is the thief of Joy.
Trying to emulate Jen Hatmaker's experience was exhausting and unenjoyable. 
So very 7th grade.

I decided to take the better part of this past year just taking in the whole book.
I'd read a chapter and take notes all along the margins, then I'd put it down to chew on it.
I didn't want to try to live out her convictions, yet I kept finding myself trying to.
A big freedom for me in reading this book actually was the realization that our lives can't be traced or copied.  I should know that right?  
I think I mostly do know that, but it's too easy to read books like this one and assume we're all suppose to be doing the same thing.
What we're all called to do is Love God and Love Others as ourselves.
How that plays out in each of our lives can look radically different.
One book and ten months later, I think I finally got it.  
Thank you Jesus and Jen Hatmaker.

After all these months, this book falls into my "must read" book list. 

Here's why...
Whether you do what the Hatmaker family did with the 7 categories or not, 
you'll enjoy how it challenges you to think beyond how you're currently doing life.

It'll be just the "kick in the pants" you might need to break up with some of those areas in your life that are nagging you deep down.  

Now, I won't lie.
There were times when I thought the book was frustrating me, but after I finished it, I was keenly aware that it was ME who was frustrating me. and my "eager beaver, copy what everyone else is doing so I can feel good about myself,  recovering performance-based follower of Jesus" self.

Because I spent the first three chapters trying to do it exactly like the Hatmaker family was doing it, I will say that I wish she would have put some of what she wrote at the end of the book at the beginning.   I could have used the reminder early on that... 
"self-deprecation is a cruel response to Jesus, who died to make us righteous.  Guilt is not Jesus' medium.  He is battling for global redemption right now; His objective hardly includes huddling in the corner with us, rehashing our shame again.  He finished that discussion on the cross."

Jen expresses her struggle with this in every chapter of the entire book, and it's refreshing.
She's ridiculously funny when she openly shares the hard parts for her, which made me feel a little more normal. 

When reading a book like this one, our humanness vacillates between desiring to take on the challenge of a more radical life to feeling like crud for not being able to fully live it out.

This book consistently did two things....
It reminded me that apart from him I can do nothing, and it repeatedly turned my heart's attention back to the cross.

Fasting is good for our souls.  It's uncomfortable and hard.  It reveals the condition of our hearts.  It makes us ever-aware of the greed in us.  It also was a good reminder that I really am absolutely incapable of everything without his help.

Have you read it?  Think you want to?
Are you making a summer reading list?
Spill it.  I'm making mine and I need some suggestions.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Paula Deen's Strawberry Cake

The strawberry fields are ripe for the pickin' around here, so it's time to exasperate my family with all things strawberries.  This is actually the cake that I have requested for each and every birthday of my life, so it holds a special place in my heart.  My mom had her own version, but she found this one of Paula Deen's, and she's been using it ever since.  You need to come up with some reason, any reason, to make this cake this very week.  Your family will thank you.  Promise.

1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix 
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
Strawberry cream cheese frosting, recipe follows
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting 
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
7 cups confectioners’ sugar
Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional
Also optional is adding a thin layer of strawberry jam to each layer.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.
For the cake:
In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
For the frosting:
In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the strawberry extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream for a delicious treat.) Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.
Spread frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. While you're at it, spread a thin layer of strawberry jam between each layer, too. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Beauty & Ashes...the things Motherhood is made of

i have started and stopped this post 8 times.  i write a paragraph and then i highlight the whole thing and delete it.  here's why.  i feel this pressure {most likely from myself} to write only the good stuff, so that i prove to all of you {and myself} that motherhood is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.  then, i start over typing a little reality, like the one i posted here.  but, that one leaves me feeling guilty for writing the real stuff.  the real stuff might make you think i'm not enjoying it most days, which i am, if it matters.

it's early, and my boys just came downstairs and turned on the tv.  i had to tell them it's mother's day.  they said in robot voices, "happy mother's day, mom."  they never turned around.  when i told them i'd like to see their eyes, they both turned around with huge grins on their handsome faces and wished me a happy mother's day once more, while actually giving me their eyeballs instead of the backs of their heads.

that moment was made sweeter by the memory of last night, when seth asked me to lay with him at bedtime, and i did for a whole 30 minutes, which is about 25 minutes longer than usual.  he asked me how my day was and wanted to know all the details.  he most likely was stalling having the lights turned out, but still, i'd like to hope that he asked because he just wanted time with me.  he shared his heart, kissed me a few times and told me i was awesome right after he told me how awesome he was in his soccer games this weekend.

and yesterday, for no good reason, luke grabbed me and hugged & kissed me and told he loved me.  be still my heart, he loves me.  a whole 30 seconds later he was arguing with his brother for trying to pull his pants to his knees.

lydia was worried yesterday, when she heard that today was mother's day.  she didn't know what she'd have time to make me or buy for me.  i assured her that her hugs and kisses were enough, but she ran outside to find daddy to see what she could get me.

she asked me to pray for her last night because she said it helps her sleep in peace.  i think it might be her favorite time of the day.  it has to be better than the day this week when she interrupted a phone call to tell me that it isn't fair that she can't play with madeline or lucy whenever she wants to.  it was hard to break the truth down for her and tell her that life isn't fair.  it was extra hard when she went to her room and slammed her door crying, "i don't like it when life isn't fair." she didn't like that truth at all. not one bit.

these mothering moments...they're made of the sacred, treasured ones, but they're also made of the ridiculously hard ones. being a mama is beauty and ashes.  

it's all too easy to hyper-focus on the ones that i'm not proud of...the ones i wish i could do over.
...speak more kindly, remind more gently, love more tenderly, discipline more graciously and on and on and on....

today...i'm focusing on the joys of every moment i get to be a mama to these three yahoos.
we argued all the way through that picture i took of them.
the grass was wet on their feet.
they didn't want to be late for church. {again} 
and i won't name names, but according to two of them, one of them had awful breath.
i pulled out the big guns and told them this picture was their present to me today. 
hey, whatever it takes, right?

motherhood is glorious, and i'm grateful for the gift of it.
i just got handed the sweetest card with a special note from all three of them.
it had a gift card in it for a spa pedicure. yes, please and thank you.
i'm surrounded by my crew, my parents, and my brother's family.  
life is full and wonderful.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tweaking Our Mantle. {The Last Chapter.}

Remember when I showed you our mantle last week with my new favorite art on it?
Well, last weekend when my friend Kate was visiting, 
Andy and the kiddos took a field trip to a reclaimed wood sawmill and came home with a souvenir.
See that big, gorgeous plank of old wood in the picture above?
It's what we're calling the texture we needed to write the last chapter in the book called Our Mantle.  

As soon as Andy got it up, I was in love.  The mantle not only felt finished; it felt like "me."
It got me thinking about how much my style has evolved over the past 17 years of marriage.
In our first ten years, I hardly knew myself much less my decorating preferences.
Plus, we were students and new parents in our first home during those years.
 Everything we owned was handed down, and as grateful as we were for all of it, it wasn't necessarily "us."

This home-making business is a slow and steady process.
Unless you've got a bajillion dollars, it takes time to add pieces of furniture and art that you love.
It has taken us years to figure out what it is that makes a house feel like our home to us.

Some of our learning has come through mistakes that we've made in purchases.
For instance, we bought a matchy-matchy bedroom suit for our very first home, and we've slowly over the course of a decade sold every single piece.
I love classic with a vintage twist, so now I know that every room & every vignette in our home
needs to have a classic look with some vintage touches for me to love it for the long haul.
I've also figured out in all these years that texture finishes off a space for me.

The slow process doesn't bother me at all. I like to watch our home evolve more into who we are.
We moved into this house nearly a year ago, and it was a wide open, brand new space.
I love that our mantle finally represents us.
The art and the lanterns were a wonderful start, but the reclaimed wood adds the texture that makes it for me.

Ps.  The TWO winners of Jenn Rizzo's Santos Cage Dolls are::
Cheryl (comment # 4)
Susan (comment # 2)
Congratulations!  I know you'll love class!!!
Please send me your email addresses, so I can forward them to Jenn.

Monday, May 6, 2013

GIVE AWAY!!! Two Free Spots for a summer creative class!

Are you looking for something creative to learn to do this summer?
I'm in the middle of making our SUMMER FUN LIST, so something like this seems really cool!
Jenn Rizzo is offering two FREE spots in her Santos Cage Dolls class that she is offering through 
Wouldn't it be so fun to learn to do something that you've never done?  

Santos Cage dolls have gained popularity over the last few years.
They have a serene, rustic beauty and sometimes almost eerie quality that has transformed them from use as religious icons in the 17th and 18th centuries to beautiful works of art.
Each doll has it’s own personality and as you sculpt and create you will see your own style and beauty develop.
In this class, You will learn to make three different versions of Cage dolls.
You will learn techniques in assembling armature, sculpting and painting faces, and using unconventional materials to make beautiful figural dolls.

You can join Jenn starting May 27th for an in depth course on how to 
assemble,sculpt and paint Santos and figural dolls.
Jenn knows that summer is coming fast, so starting on May 27th

 ALL of the videos will be available THAT DAY and you have access for ONE FULL year from the date of payment.
So no worries if summer gets too busy and you are ready to begin again in the fall.

The course will be available for one full year!

The cost is only $19!!

To register you can go directly to Jeanne's creative network (the fastest and easiest way to register) HERE or register through Jeanne's website HERE.

Please leave a comment telling me what your summer plans are!
I'll pick TWO winners on Wednesday.

Friday, May 3, 2013

{SHOP} news.

Beth from Unskinny Boppy is offering one of our ORIGINAL FAMILY RULES signs in a give away.
I'd love for you to enter to win and also enjoy a 10% discount with the coupon

Jeanne Oliver showed off her custom sign from us in her beautiful home this week.
She also is offering a 10% discount in our shop through the end of May with the coupon code 

Karianne from Thistlewood Farms has a new monthly post called The Shops at Thistlewood.
You can find tons of good deals and discounts from her advertisers!
She's offering a discount in our shop with the coupon code THISTLEWOOD.

We also have a couple of new signs that we listed in the shop this week, 
so if you're in the market for something like this for your house, use one of these handy coupon codes to buy it. 

Hope y'all have a great weekend...I'll be back tomorrow for some amazing weekend reads.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What Instagram Pictures Don't Tell You...

Our oldest turned thirteen a few weeks ago, and we had a handful of his friends over for the night.
Before we served his favorite dessert, Andy asked the guys to lay hands on him, while he prayed over him.

It was a sweet moment watching the guys giggle through the intimate moment as Andy prayed.
I snapped a picture because seemed like a moment I might want to hold onto forever.

I posted it to Instagram later that night, but the whole thing stirred something up in my heart.
I didn't do it, but I found myself wanting to explain that this picture wasn't entirely representative of our family.
Of course, if you were to hang out with us for ten minutes, you'd know it,
but most people who read aren't people who know us.

I started thinking about how many times I've looked at someone else's pictures and assumed everything was perfect.
The problem with pictures on any form of social media is that they don't tell the whole story.
So much is left to be assumed in a picture,
and lets face it, we all assume everyone else's picture looks a little more perfect than ours.

For the rest of the story, you'll need to visit Courtney DeFeo's awesome place where I'm sharing one of my not so beauty-filled moments in parenting that Instagram luckily missed.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Farmgirl Paints on Etsy is Open for Business!

I've been chomping at the bit to show y'all my new cuffs from Becky, but I wanted to wait until her shop re-opened.
I didn't think it would be very nice to show off mine without you being able to order one for yourself!
I'm so proud of her for taking a month off now and again to spend time with her family,
but oh how glad I am to report that she has opened her shop back up this morning!

This is my third cuff from her this year, and I swear I've got a head full of ideas for more. 
Her cuffs have become my personal solution to a longtime desire for a tattoo.
It's probably a good thing, because I'd start out with one tattoo and end up with a full sleeve.
Tattoos are beautiful, but these cuffs are cheaper and can be removed. :)

I'll tell you just a little back story about these two cuffs.
I actually already had a "trust your story" cuff, but I lost it at Disney World back in February.
It was there one minute and gone the next, and here's what you need to know...
I fell apart in the middle of Magic Kingdom.
My friend immediately thought to tell me that whoever found it would be blessed by it.
She tried to console me with the sweet truth that someone out there might need to learn to trust their story.
Yeah.  I panicked and acted like a fool.
Her son had to remind me that at least no one had died.
Alrighty then, a eleven year old boy had to "school" me in perspective.  Nice.

Needless to say, Becky was amazing and sent me a new one. Thank you, The end.

My "free indeed" cuff is my daily reminder. He who the son sets free is FREE INDEED.
Thank you {John 8:36} and Amen.  I think I'll live in that freedom He's given me!!!

Becky is offering my readers 15% off with the coupon code TARA15 this month.
If you've got gifts to buy, I promise these are a real treasure to receive!
Head over to HER SHOP and see what she's got listed!

So, have you ever lost a treasured piece of jewelry 
and acted like a crazy person?