Reflections upon today


1. Find joy in the journey… TRUTH.

Sometimes I find myself so focused on goals and aspirations that I forget to enjoy the actual journey getting to that end. But if we would just take a moment to slow down, walk (not run), savor the “now”, breath in deep the ordinary… there’s so much to see and experience. There’s so much life right here, right now. Let’s not miss it!


2. Buying decorations for St. Patrick’s Day today.

I’m a sucker for holiday window clings. They’re just so fun! I have them for each of the holidays. They just make me smile. 🙂 And holiday decorations in general– they keep the house fun and happy all throughout the year.

3. My oldest daughter today.

She was (is!) just cute as a button. She brought a smile to my face every time I looked at her. A messy, wavy side ponytail… super round, funky gold sunglasses… a cactus t-shirt… Love this sweet sweet child of mine. So confident. So cool. So sure of who she is and what she likes. So full of life and creativity and passion. Lover of fashion and music. She has my heart and always will.

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4. Off to a Lincoln Day dinner with my hubby!

Been going for years. Wouldn’t miss this one. Lovely dinner. Lovely company. Lovely speakers. Yummy food. Always a blessing to attend each and every year. It also makes a lovely date night with my hunny.


5. Winning prizes this evening at the Lincoln Day dinner!!!

I swear my hubby is my lucky rabbit’s foot! With him, we almost always win prizes and free food wherever we go. It’s a thing we always laugh about because it happens all.the.time. No joke. I was never so lucky until I married him and we make out like bandits anytime there’s a raffle drawing or prize contest. Or even at drive thru’s/restaurants (can’t even recall how many times we get free or discounted food. It’s unreal.) Tonight’s raffle won us (2) bottles of BioFreeze (LOVE this stuff!), a 5 gallon car cleaning bucket full of car wax/upholstery & glass cleaners/etc. (*not shown: 2 ball caps, as two of our sons took off with them as soon as we walked in the door), and a $65 coupon for a local hair salon. Luck + prizes = :-).


Had a fantastic day. Hope your’s was, too. Hope you’re learning to find joy and smiles in all of the odds and ends that happen throughout your day.

Until tomorrow…

Being Spoiled

We were recently gifted from a family member a free trial of meals from Blue Apron. Up until this past month, I’d never heard of this company. How that happened, I do not know. Because now that I have been made aware of it, I see BA everywhere (as scroll through my Facebook feed, as I navigate through the internet, etc).

Basically, you pick out the meals that interest you (we chose our meals from the vegetarian menu), and they ship them right to your door. Since our trial included 2 meals this week, they packed everything we’d need for those two meals into one (very insulated) box: herbs/spices, cheeses, canned and/or fresh vegetables, noodles, etc. And the recipe cards (which were extremely detailed, but super simple to follow). You still have to wash and cut the vegetables, shred the cheese, and cook everything yourself. But all of the ingredients are pre-measured and pre-packaged for ease and simplicity. One meal is exactly enough for two people.

From start to finish, our meal took 30 minutes to prepare.

Here’s our Bucatini with Tomato Sauce from dinner last night:



What was truly fun (besides savoring this dish!) was working alongside my hubby in the kitchen and cooking together. We’d both had a looooong day and just needed to do something to refresh our spirits. I love how food can do that.

Our BA shipment had come in just that morning, so we were eager to have a go at that first meal. The kids had already eaten their supper earlier and were quietly enjoying their evening. Perfect time to spend some quality time in the kitchen. In fact, we had a couple of little helpers (and tasters) join us in the kitchen: our 11 and 1 year old daughters.

Here’s what the recipe card (& nutrition facts) looks like:



It was just a meal, but it was also fun and light and happy and simple. Just what was needed to cap off the day.

And, by the way, dinner was delightful.

I truly feel pampered by having these BA meals delivered to us. So very thankful for this yummy gift. Looking forward to preparing our next dish (potato tacos)!


Married and Still Dating

A couple of years ago, my husband and I were living with his folks for a time as we saved up money to purchase our first home. It was really neat as we had a full-sized apartment and a huge, beautiful property in which to enjoy. The best part was having grandparents living right there: an extra set of eyes to watch what was going on… an extra set of hands to help out… and an extra set of arms for the kids to cuddle into. And it was also very good for my husband and I, too, as it strengthened our relationship with them. It was a precious time for our families.

While we were living there, nearly every Thursday evening was scheduled Date Night. We LOVED it! We both could have had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week… but we could hang on till Thursday because THEN… if only for a few hours… my hubby and I could leave (kid-less) and enjoy each others company.

And his parents would babysit.                    *glorious sigh*

I can’t state enough what a blessing it was that they would do that for my husband and I!!! What they did was amazingly precious and selfless and giving. Those were especially trying times in our marriage and having that opportunity to get out alone together almost weekly was one of the most precious gifts they could have given us. We desperately needed those evenings!

Date Night’s were usually nothing terribly romantic. Honestly, we spent most of our dates at Applebee’s eating off their late night 1/2 off appetizer menu. Then we’d venture out to Walmart to shop (usually for diapers!)… or just to walk around holding hands… and talk about absolutely everything and nothing.

We made some sweet memories…

A little over two years ago we were finally able to purchase our first home. It was nice to finally have our own place and it was an answer to our prayers… but we all did (and still do) truly miss our parents’/grandparents’ company. We still see each other since, thankfully, we live in the same town. But it’s not the same. We miss them.

Our Date Nights now have taken on a different flavor. Whereas we used to go out, now we stay in. It used to be buffalo wings and Walmart… now it’s a glass of wine and some fancy cheese from Aldi’s… or a movie… or coffee and hanging outside by the fire pit… but always cuddles and hand holding and TALKING.

Oh man, talking is HUGE in marriage. I’m not kidding… I can’t think of a single thing my hubby and I can’t talk about. We talk about what’s working, what’s not working. The good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. Parenting. Business. Finances. Politics. Christianity. Our futures. Our dreams. Our goals and aspirations. Our struggles. ALL of it. In fact, I keep a running list of “things to talk about with my hubby” so come Date Night we don’t miss any topics. If I don’t write it down, I lose it (mom brain), and then we forget to talk about it.

Now I’m not saying we only talk to one another on Thursdays. That’s silly. But sometimes life gets busy and time slips away far too fast. That’s when it’s especially very important for me to write down what’s on my mind so we can talk about it later. It doesn’t HAVE to be Thursday. But there have been weeks here and there that Thursday was the first time all week we’ve both come up for air and we’ve had the undistracted time to really talk about important issues.

Our marriage has been far from a walk in the park. We have had to really work at it… especially as we went through some pretty tough experiences: honeymoon pregnancy, quitting my career to be a stay-at-home mom, embracing homemaking and childcare (which I was not accustomed to), hubby starting a business, financial strains, more babies, moving a couple of times, a miscarriage, a stillbirth (at 37 weeks), homeschooling, changing curriculums until we found what we liked, changing churches, etc. We NEEDED Date Night’s in order to stay on the same page and to weather the difficulties of life together. We very easily could have grown apart during some of these trials. But we didn’t, I believe, in large part because of Date Nights. That was our time to cleave to one another, share our burdens, pray, and seek God.

But even if/when things are “boring” and seemingly stagnant or we’re not finding that time throughout the week to really communicate and connect… we always have our Thursday evenings to do just that. We covet that evening. We plan around that evening. We hold strict bedtimes for the kids that evening. We try very hard to protect and maintain that evening from other activities.

It’s been great, too, since it’s turned Fall. Hubby and I will oftentimes make a cup of coffee and just sit outside by the fire pit and just hang out. We’ve had some amazing conversations.

I will say, I do enjoy it better when we can get out of the house for Date Nights. It’s a tad tough being in the house with all the dishes and laundry and toys. I try hard to get the house in order before the kids go to bed, but there’s ALWAYS unfinished work or projects that seem to leer at you. It takes more effort to ignore it and just focus on the date. When you leave the house, everything is out of sight out of mind and much easier to deal with. But we are currently making do with where we’re at. 🙂

This phase of our lives will shift pretty dramatically in the next couple of years. Our oldest kids are 12, 11, and 9 and they are already super capable. Give them a couple more years and we can start actually “going out” without needing a babysitter. That time will come before we realize it, I know.

So anyways… I say all this because no matter WHERE you’re at in life and marriage, you CAN (and should) make time regularly to DATE your spouse. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy-schmancy. It certainly doesn’t need to be expensive (it could even be free!). You don’t need to leave your house. It doesn’t even have to be at night: you can meet for lunch dates if your schedules both allot for it better. Shoot, even if your hubby travels a lot you can STILL make Date Nights work. FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Viber, Tango, and ooVoo are great for face-to-face chat.

Dating is simply carving out specific time to be together… alone… undistracted…

Life and family and kids and jobs keep us SO distracted these days. We need this time to “just be” with our spouse. Dating should never stop with the words “I do”… or with kids… or with financial strains… or with an empty nest… or with old age… or with busyness. If anything, as the busyness of life increases, the need for Date Night increases as well as it becomes SO EASY to lose that precious connection.

If you are currently dating your spouse regularly, I’d LOVE to hear about it! Especially if you stay home for Date Nights In. What sort of things do you do together?

If you’re currently not dating your spouse, could I encourage you to make an effort to start? Talk to your spouse and pick a day and time that would work for the both of you. If you start, let me know how it goes and what you think!

Happy Dating!!!!

**Awesome podcast/transcript from Focus on the Family!


Photo Credit:


Several years ago, my hubby and I went to the local orchard and bought a bunch of seconds apples and turned those bad boys into melt-in-your-mouth apple butter (an old family recipe from his late grandma). It’s SO yummy. Afterward, we had all these peels left and we felt it a shame to simply just throw it all away. That’s when we found a super easy, super yummy, super not-so-good-for-your-blood-sugar-levels recipe for Apple Peel Jelly. It’s a-ma-zing though. It’s probably our most favorite jelly recipe, only second to homemade strawberry jam.

So like I said, it’d been YEARS since last we made these recipes.
But this year, hubby wanted to make some more– so we pulled out the dusty old recipes and decided to have another go!

My hubby bought me this for Christmas to make it easier—> and apple peeler/corer:


It’s a Victorio, which is a *wonderful* brand of product! I was a happy wife. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Here is what the apple peel jelly looked like this batch:

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Aint’ it pretty?!

Every time you make it, the color is so different, depending on what type of apples you used for the apple butter.

On top of making apple butter and apple peel jelly, we also used apples to make pre-made bags of apple pie filling. (Can you tell we love apples over here?!) You simply cut up the apples, throw all the apple pie ingredients into a freezer bag, and freeze. Voila. Simple. Then all you have to do when you’re ready to make pie is to cut the bag and throw the frozen ingredients in a bowl and allow it to thaw. It’s a pain in the rear to thaw it *in* the bag as all the spices cling to the bag and it’s difficult to get it all out. We just found it’s abundantly easier to dump it frozen into a big bowl and thaw that way. Don’t want to lose all the goodies. It’s a great treat to pass out to people as gifts. Just add crust!

apple pie

Besides making something yummy for the fam and to share with loved ones… I just LOVE doing projects with my hubby.
He actually *likes* cooking and canning all this. I *love* being side by side with him and working together. We’d put the kids to bed and promptly get to work… and it was kinda like date night in because we’d talk and share and discuss and joke and play. And of course sample the final product on a piece of bread. My love language is “quality time” so this definitely filled my love tank. 🙂

I don’t have time to post it now, but I will *def* get to posting the recipe for apple peel jelly later. I’d gotten it online years ago but the web address got cut off the copy I have. So I’ll just write it down and share with you when I get the time.

If ever you make (or have made before) apple peel jelly, what did you think? Did you like it?