Friday, July 30, 2010

For a Friday

Cost of dining room furniture: $550.00 on craigslist
Sale of antique dining room set : $150.00 on craigslist
Original cost of antique dining set 10 years ago: $100.00 at garage sale
Adjusted cost for new furniture thanks to thrifty shopping: $400.00
Knowing that guests will not fall to the floor when a wobbly antique chair finally gives way: priceless

My favorite kitchen knife: free as gift
Favorite knife run through dishwasher repeatedly: broken
New Santoku knife: free!!
Walmart frame: $3.00
Pictures off Flikr: free
Message of hope in my home: priceless

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Filed Under Grace : July

Let's gather together and bring praise to the One whose love is extravagant, whose compassion is never failing. Whether it be a prayer answered, or a desire He knew and answered before you could even ask, would you share it here and encourage the community?

Click the logo for rules and link your answered prayer below!


We packed up the camper, filled the kitty dish with food, and, stocked with bug spray, we scootted off in the direction of relaxation.

When we got back, kitty was gone.  I suppose that is the risk of keeping a cat outdoors and deserting him for four days. But this is a stray that found us, so we trusted he would be alright. He is a cat, after all. They've got nine lives, right?

The kids called for him, and I called for him, and he was a no show. I can't believe I did it, but I asked God to send him back. He was a good cat, gentle to rough hands and and unfazed by being hauled around and walked about on two paws. He was perfect for us.

We got home on a Monday. On Wednesday we were walking though Target and as we passed the cat food, Megan reminded me we needed more.

"Megan, kitty is gone. I'm not buying more food until he comes back. But I asked God to bring him back, so we'll see."

"You prayed for kitty, Mom? Thanks!"

I should have expected it. Sure enough, Thursday morning kitty was at his post on the front stoop. A bit skinnier, but no worse for wear.

I think I will finally take him to the vet to get checked out and get him tags. So we don't loose him again. And when we leave on our next trip, I'll have someone come feed him.

Thanks, Lord for caring for your children....and even their cats.


Look at the birds of the air  
{and the cats of the barnyard}; 
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, 
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. 
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Matthew 6:26

the Kristina version, 
the Bible ad libbing you can blame on my father

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Virgin Cucumber Mojito

Recipe for Relaxation

A pretty glass

Lime sparkling water

1 T lime concentrate

5 slices cucumber

3 sprigs of mint ( I used peppermint and chocolate mint)

A pinch of Stevia sweetener

Ice (which I didn't have because my children were playing with the heart shaped ice cube mold and never refilled it.... :P)

A back porch with sunset views (which I also don't have. But I do have sunset views from my desk chair....)

Sip slowly. Drink life in. Above all, enjoy summer.
It only lasts so long in MN.

Shared at WFMW.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer In a Skirt

Friends are coming.

I scurry around the kitchen in my Sunday skirt, the one I picked up yesterday at Goodwill.  I never bothered to change after service, so I should have an apron on, or something. But I don't and I like the skirt. So it stays on and I don't cover it up.

I dump the breadstick dough from the breadmaker onto the cookie sheet, the recipe with a bit of whole wheat flour. We are trying to be healthy here, you know. I smooth, and pull and stretch it out till it stays and fills the pan.

Bowls begin filling as I chop chop cukes from my own patch of earth out my kitchen window, right by the apple tree pair. I need a few more tomatoes, so, basket in hand,  I slip on my sandals and flip flop my way toward the garden, Sunday skirt and all.

Wearing it makes me happy. Wearing it in my garden makes me smile.

I pick a handful, just the beginning of that harvest, then snoop around the broccoli and grab a handful of zucchini. More zucchini. There are beans too, calling for my attention, but they will have to wait. My recipe and bread crust need me first.

Inside I go, barefooted in the kitchen, cooking in a skirt.

I attach some romance to yesteryear, and the days of buggies and bonnets and beards,
yet in the summer,
in the garden,
in a skirt,
life right now feels simple and pretty and good.

Sharing this today at Tuesday's Unwrapped. Thanks, Emily, for the weekly reminder to unwrap moments of time and see the blessing.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Is Jesus Just a New Toy?: A Guest Post

Andrea is my youngest sister. This spring, she graduated from college with a degree in music. She just turned 21 and has spent the last few summers as a camp counselor. Her immediate plans, after camp, include seeking piano and flute students. She posted this piece on Facebook, and I stole it to share with you!

Last week I was sharing the gospel with a camper. This particular camper was a ten-year-old girl who knows very little about the Bible. She thought that Adam and Eve were detectives, and when I told her the story of Jesus feeding the five-thousand, her jaw dropped. But I am not writing this note simply to tell this little girl's story, but to share with you her thought provoking response to the gospel of Jesus. I shared with her about Jesus' life from beginning to end, doing my best to fill in the most important parts of the gospel, all of which were new to her. When I was done sharing, I asked her if she would be interested in following Jesus. Her response has stuck with me all week. She said, "I think that sounds like it would be cool to do. But I don't know if I would remember about it after a while. My family doesn't read the Bible or go to church. So I think I would just forget about it. It's kind of like when you get a new toy and it's exciting for a while and then you forget about it."

A new toy. This little girl hit the nail on the head. So often, that is what Jesus is to us. He is simply something new and exciting now and then, to be pulled out and played with, and then put back on the shelf to be forgotten about. Is Jesus like a new toy to you? Has he become an old toy put on the shelf and forgotten, to be pulled out again years later? I think that in a child's language, rather than being a new toy, Jesus should be like a favorite blankie. Jesus should be dragged everywhere and be a part of everything, as a child clings to that blankie. He should be well worn and obviously loved- even obnoxiously present when people tell us to put Him away, rather than shoved away and forgotten on a back shelf.

This little girl did not want a new toy only to be forgotten. If she accepted Jesus, she wanted to be real. So she decided not to accept Jesus. But though I am reminded that for many that is what Jesus becomes, I am challenged that Jesus is so much more than a new toy to be forgotten. Jesus is our life and our everything. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things. And I pray that someday the seeds of the gospel would bear fruit in this little girl, that Jesus would not be some toy discarded, but her everything.

Thank you Andrea, for all your hard work with our kids at camp, for loving them with the love of Jesus, and for speaking truth into their lives. I love you!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hair, Platinum and Otherwise

I got a haircut. Didya notice? OK, so it was only three inches, and it's not like I got a buzz or even a real bob, but my hair hasn't been this short since, um, my sister graduated from college. That was five years ago. I think. No wait. That was her high school graduation. Held at a college.

Anyway. My husband didn't even notice. And he tries to tease me when I don't notice details, 'cause he's the high and mighty detail guy. Humph. It figures he would decide to live up to the male reputation of obliviousness at my expense.

This head has seen lotsa styles, just not in a while. What is hasn't seen is lotsa colors. I dabbled in red and blond highlights and lowlights for a while, but this here color? It's all my own. Really. Not bad for my age of 34.6, huh? I'm pleased as punch with my natural color.

Lately, I've been pulling an increasing amount of gray strands from right about the place my mom got her first gray patch, but I'm sticking to my God-given auburn till I'm forced to cover the platinum.

I think that would be about the time that pulling out gray hair takes just as long as coloring it....

Happy Friday! 

Picture courtesy Megan. Who wants to be a photographer, or a pet store owner, or a hairstylist....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Duluth in Black and White

Harbor Lighthouse

 Lift Bridge

Split Rock Lighthouse

 Robb walking across Gooseberry Falls

 Enger Tower 

See more pics of our getaway and my thoughts on why I date my husband here.

This week's You Capture theme was black and white.  Go visit Beth to check it out!

The Bigger Picture: Why I Date My Spouse

I sincerely believe one of the best gifts I can give my children is a strong marriage. Dating is not an option, once married. It is essential. To step away from children and chores and house and work and look each other in the eye and remember what caused the first spark: that is mandatory. Besides, it's also fun!

Equally important, though less frequent, are longer times spent away. A night, or two or three.

One week ago, Mitchell and Megan were already at camp, so Robb and I dropped Madison off at Grandma and Grandpa's and headed north. Just the two of us. We found the AG Thomson House to be a perfect bed and breakfast for our little getaway. I can't imagine better hosts. (We got hugged when we left!) Breakfast was delish. (Seriously, check out the menu and recipes!) All the little extras added up to the. best. time. ever.

We visited Gooseberry Falls briefly. Well, we planned to visit briefly. Our quick stop was extended when Robb locked the keys in the van. Thankfully we noticed right away, and could explore while we waited for AAA to show up. Thank goodness for our AAA Gold membership!

Throughout our three days together, I pondered previous trips we've taken. In younger years, we may not have handled this little hiccup well. One of the key changes we've made is making dates a priority. If we wait too long, don't tend the fire, the pressure mounts and all expectations are laid on one short weekend. But a few days cannot make up for years or even weeks of neglect. The littlest thing can ruin a wonderful time when our expectations are high and our hearts are distant.

Thankfully we laid no burden on this trip. It was for fun, for relaxation. Not for Disney fairy tale romance.  Because those expectations were not our focus, and we had no dating deficit we were scrambling to reduce, we could just enjoy each moment for what is was, not wishing for something different, something more, something deep.

On our way up to Split Rock Lighthouse, we encountered some road construction, but we hardly noticed. I was busy reading the history of the murder at Glensheen mansion to Robb in preparation of our tour there the next day. Morbid? Maybe. Fascinating? Definitely! Romantic? Doubtful. Memorable? Yes!

The next day, after our extended tour of Glensheen, we meandered through Canal Park, shared boneless buffalo wings and salad at Grandma's, shopped, ate ice cream that dripped down my fingers into a puddle on the sidewalk, and watched three ships come (sailing in, come sailing in....ahem) and go under the lift bridge to the harbor. At times we walked hand in hand.

That evening we climbed aboard this:

For a two and a half tour. First, as we cruised through the harbor, we had dinner with a side of sunset. 

Then we made our way out through the natural inlet, along the shore of Duluth after sundown, and under the lift bridge. I took lots of pictures. We kissed on the bow deck.

Lake Superior was the calmest I've seen.

And so went our trip. Lovely. Calm. Restful. Fun.

I am so thankful to be at this place in our marriage. We've seen the typical storms and turbulent waters that come with two becoming one. At the altar we became one in Word. In name. These last 12 years have grown us up and into each other. Selfishness, increasingly, laid aside. Our hearts, unified. The waters, calmed.

We are more one as we draw out the good and call out the bad, one's strength complimenting the other's weakness. All the time reaching for each other.

When we take time to grow into each other and together into Christ, laying expectations down, romance is not forced.

It blossoms all on its own.

 Front patio at AG Thomson House

Sharing a  Bigger Picture Moment, this week at Maegan's place 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Goodness Gracious Green

While I edit photos of our romantic getaway to Duluth, and attempt to put a few thoughtful sentences together, consider this green harvest. Instead of doing laundry and putting away suitcases, I've been slaving in the kitchen and pondering my abundance of zucchini.

Explain to me why I planted three hills? I do know better. I also know better than to turn my back on them for four days or my reward will be monster squash. And my freezer has no room for monsters. Even the green variety.

So, I dusted off my problem solving skills and began chopping and dehydrating zucchini. For soup. Because I dislike slimy, mushy, frozen-and-then-defrosted zukes. And you know what? It worked! I re-hydrated the dehydrated chunks in a zesty chicken tortilla soup, annnnnd: success! No more mushy slimy soup zucchini.

My zucchini is saved and so is my freezer!

Next up: Pepper jelly.

Taking liberty with the theme and unwrapping the gift of good ideas. :) For Tuesdays Unwrapped.

And I'm also linking this post to DIY Day with Kimba at A Soft Place to Land, because I just can't help but share that fabulous idea. :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Practicing a New Song

We were picking up around the house before rushing out the door to piano lessons, and having a sudden  realization that between camping and recovering from camping, both kids hadn't practiced all week, I asked them to quick run through their lessons. We had a few minutes. Enough time to just play through once.

Mitchell reacted, said it would take too long, and fussed that he'd had the same song for a month. Hmmmmm. I wonder why. Could be the lack of practice, possibly?

But he didn't think of it that way. He tends to have a disconnect with reality and what is required to excel. He expects immediate proficiency with little effort.
He fumed, claimed to have practiced and failed, convinced his incompetence was not because of his lack of practice. But, I knew for a fact he hadn't practice his new song. And regardless of what he thinks, good intentions are not the same as actual practice time. And practicing what he's already mastered isn't going to help him with his new lesson. Not at all.

He reluctantly made it through his new song once, and we piled into the van. As the kids began to argue about who knows what, I reacted like I always do: I turned the radio to our local Christian station. This is often a great way to distract the kids from their bad attitudes. They begin to sing, or listen, and words of truth fill the vehicle. Like David playing for King Saul, they are soothed. (When my little trick doesn't work, I just turn the volume up and sing along myself, drowning out their bickering.)

Anyway, Josh Wilson's song, Before the Morning came on. I've found God often sends just the right song across the airwaves to speak truth to current situations. This was no different. On the surface, the conflict and attitude toward piano may seem insignificant, but I recognize a pattern of hopelessness in my son that concerns me, so I used the words of the song to encourage him. To help him see the bigger picture.

"Mitchell, are you listening to this song?"

I turned the volume up.

all those things are happening
to bring a better ending
some day, some how, you'll see, you'll see.

"Did you hear that? I think God is speaking to you."

would you dare, would you dare to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain that you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

I looked at him through the review mirror and smiled encouragingly.

"Do you believe? Joy is coming!"

I could tell he was listening, and thinking. He's growing up so fast, and I so badly want to prepare him for the turbulent waters ahead. This life is an arduous journey, not a well paved freeway. I want him to have realistic expectations without stomping on his dreams. Because those dreams will take hard work.

press on, just fight the good fight

"Press on, Mitchell. You can do it, it just takes perseverance. Practice. Don't give up on yourself."

and hold on, 'cause there's good for those who love God,
life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
but you'll see the bigger picture.

He cracked a smile, accepting my words of hope.

And then God whispered my name. (Not out loud, but in my heart.) How often am I frustrated at life and  expect maturity to come naturally, even quickly, and feel deep failure as a Christian mom and wife?  Oh, I know I've grown in real ways these last few years, but my idealism never rests and I feel I'm not making any progress toward godliness.

It's like I keep practicing the same song. I can't keep getting by on spiritual fumes. The thought of prayer is not enough. A few words whispered are better than nothing, but this journey takes actual prayer. The kind where my knees are sore and my heart is emptied at His feet. It is a fight. I can't keep playing the song I've mastered. I've got to practice a new song, begin a new discipline.

Today, I hold on tight to Jesus. I pray words of faith and hope for myself and my son and my girls and my husband. I practice the presence of God in new ways. It's hard work, but I press on and move forward in this journey. I fumble out the notes and my fingers find a new song.

Because I know joy is coming.

My friend, you know how this all ends
and you know where you're going,
you just don't know how you'll get there
so say a prayer.
and hold on, 'cause there's good for those who love God,
But life is not a snapshot, it might take a little time,
but you'll see the bigger picture

Share your bigger picture today at Peanut Butter in My Hair.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Zucchini Bruschetta

I'm not supposed to tell you, but my husband is on a diet.

Ok, he would correct me and have me say that he is not on a diet, he is changing the way he eats. And boy is he ever. He's lost ten pounds in one week!

It's a good thing I planted zucchini and tomatoes, because he is loving this recipe. I originally created it last summer when I tried the Flat Belly Diet. Which I loved. I eventually got lazy though, and gave in to the majority, as I was the only one wanting to eat healthy in the family. And if you've ever tried dieting alone, you know that consistently needing to cook something separate for yourself can kill any amount of determination.

The below recipe is a single serving of 395 calories, fitting nicely into the whole four-meals-@-400-calories, each containing a MUFA plan. (Monounsaturated fatty acid. Which happens to be yummy things like olive oil, dark chocolate, olives, nuts and avacado) Anywho, while my husband follows his program, I am following this one again, albeit loosely. And I have lost 5 lbs. Yay! Go team skinny!

Without further ado, I present:

Zucchini Bruschetta

~1/2 c diced zucchini
~1 T olive oil
~2 T  fresh basil
~1 clove garlic, minced
~1 c diced tomatoes

~1 round sandwich skinny bread thing (Have you seen these? They look like squished buns. I buy the multi-grain and they are 100 calories each.) Or, if you're not counting calories, use whatever bread you like.
 ~salt, pepper, to taste
~A sprinkle of Parmesan and a few fingers full of Mozzarella cheese

First saute the zucchini, garlic and basil in the olive oil over medium heat until the zucchini is tender crisp, then add tomatoes and heat for a few more minutes. (Don't let the tomatoes get mushy.) When it's done it should look like this:

Spread on a toasted skinny bun, sprinkle with parmesan, salt, pepper and mozzarella and broil on low until the cheese melts (just a few minutes). It should look something like this:

 As Rachel Ray would say, Yumm-O!

Friday, July 9, 2010

I Want to be a Daisy

I want to be a daisy
unassuming, humble,
willing to share my joyful face
wherever I am found.

In a prairie of grass
and alone.....

Emily is a dear to let me share her space and guest post today. Won't you join us over at Chatting at the Sky?

Every week Emily hosts Tuesday's Unwrapped  and I've come to anticipate the opportunity to unwrap little daily gifts with words. Click here for one of my favorites on having tea with hot dog lunches.

Thank You Emily!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Light and Glory

America, my country.

A land birthed with faith and prayer and hard work and sacrifice.

 heading out to watch fireworks on the lake

George Washington declared in his first inaugural address,

"I must express my gratitude to the Almighty. No people can acknowledge the invisible hand of God more than the people of the United Sates. Every step toward independence was protected by his hand. Let us remember that the smiles of heaven will continue on a nation only when it heeds the eternal rules of right and order."*

 boats gathering

John Adams, in a letter to his wife, predicted that the day the declaration passed would be the most memorable in the history of America. Then he added,

the beginning of the show, shot off the island

"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these Sates. Yet through the gloom I can see rays of ravishing light and glory."*

This year, the rockets glared red,
the bombs burst in air, booming and echoing and reflecting across the water, declaring,
the flag is still here,
o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And I pray again,
America, America, God shed His grace on thee.

My we reflect Your Light and Your Glory. Amen.

*The Light and the Glory for Children by Peter Marshal & David Manuel,  p157, 143

Shared today for You Capture:America @  And pardon the not completely perfect photos. Night shots are hard enough. Night shots when on a rocking boat are nearly impossible! But I got out there and tried something new. And it was a challenge! Which is what You Capture is all about!

Strawberry Glaze Pie

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) melted butter
1 T sugar
1 c flour
stir till the dough forms a ball
press into pie pan
prick with fork
bake for 10 minutes @ 400 degrees
let cool

Cream cheese layer:
1/2 package (4oz.) softened cream cheese
1 T powdered sugar
1-2 t milk
spread on cooled crust
arrange strawberries over cream cheese layer

1 c sugar
2 T corn starch
1 c water
cook above till clear
mix in 3 T strawberry jello mix powder
cool glaze, then pour over strawberries

Refrigerate until jello is set up and top with whip cream!

Can also be made with Raspberries and Raspberry Jello. 

This post is being shared with all the good readers at Works For Me Wednesday, a blog hop of shared tips hosted by We Are THAT Family.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Saturday Evening Campfire

Hello there from a hot, humid, smokey, mosquito infested campsite. Oh, it's not that bad! Or maybe it is... We've been having a good time. Really. Picked wild blackberries, went into town and hit all the fun occasional shops, ate too much, drank too much (iced mocha), played (terribly) ladderball, sat with my feet in the water at the beach, solved all the world's problems and our own (HA!), got a wee bit sunburned. I have no idea what my kids have been doing. Just kidding. Kinda. I do know they are having fun with their friends. And they end every day, hot, sweaty, dirty and they fall asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow. I hope you are having as good a weekend as us. Don't forget, tonight the Saturday Evening Blog Post is hosted over at, an opportunity for everyone to share their favorite post! Go check it out!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fantabulous Cuteness

Scrumptious, isn't she?

I met my sister Sara at the beach this week, along with a bunch of friends, and after Victoria had finished her nap and was happy, we brushed off the sand, outfitted her in her Sunday best and started shooting some 6 month pictures.

My sister giggled.

"When people see these pictures, they're never going to guess we were at the beach and all around her in our swimming suits!"

Now you know. :)

Tori was a fantabulous photography subject! Besides being just plain adorable...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Gift of Grace

The dishes pile next to the sink, an unending chore. The panic rises within me. I can’t think with the mess engulfing me, paralyzing me from finishing. It’s daily, monotonous, yes, but you’d think by now I would have accepted it and plunged my hands in the sudsy water, washing my frustration away, down the drain. I want to be clean too.

I let the feelings come, anyway. Anger. Hurt from the lack of respect from my children. I take every cereal bowl left on the coffee table as a personal attack. They don’t know how each is like a slap in my face, but somehow I think they should.

So I let myself become like them and I lash out.

Husband dresses them and they flee, and I don’t even feel the remorse I should. I flee too. I flee the chore and immerse myself in a show, not willing to face my own childishness.

For a long time, I try to think of nothing.

He comes home with the children, finally, past bedtime. They come in quietly and I don’t make eye contact assuming they’re all still mad, and I want to hang on to my own frustration, too.

I close up shop in the kitchen, leaving the dishes I never finished, and head for bed. But the living room light is on and the door is closed. Curious, I open it and see all three kids lined up on the sofa already in pajamas, their faces full of cautious expectation. A gift bag sits on the coffee table where cereal bowls had previously taken up residence.

I can tell they’re up to something. The silly grins give it away. I feel the change in attitude, sit in a chair and the tears come, tears of my softening heart as all anger melts into remorse. Husband hands me the gift with a smile and gives me a kiss. “I chose grace,” he whispers.

As I take out each small item he explains softly.

“Next time you’re stressed, go take a bubble bath, or have some chocolate. Take a break.”

I smile weakly. His gift humbles me. It is coals on my head. Coals that burn away my chaff.

The kids gather around and I murmur repentance. They smile. While out, he had told them to watch and see what their plan would accomplish. Now, they see it played out, right in their own living room.

We all smile and embrace. Because, what could have been a damaging family conflict turned into a powerful lesson on the healing power of grace.


My gift, this morning, sharing the coffee table with a cereal bowl. I’ve got grace for that.

Lord, help me choose grace in each moment. For cereal bowls and crumbs and wet towels on the floor and endless dishes and disrespectful tones.  But, thank you, that even my failures give opportunity for teaching repentance. Thank you for redeeming and forgiving even my most childish moments. Thank you for your kindness toward me I don't deserve, for making me clean.