Monday, November 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: November 29, 2010

After a few weeks of chaos (out of town, funeral, holiday) I just do not feel like cooking. Do. Not. Feel. It. But, it has to be done. Actually, it did me a world of good to spend a few hours cooking for the holiday, so I might just get some kitchen therapy in this week as well. However, with the chaos I'm just not feeling the recipe mojo flying. That means that I decided to pilfer the menu plans of others! WOO HOO! It's almost like eating out, but not. ;)

I'm adding in a few things from the last menu plan that never got made, tossing in a helping of orders from other blogs, and serving it up with a side of some easy old standards. For spice I'll add in a few recipes in celebration of Hanukkah this week! (Hubby is Jewish so we celebrate from a Messianic perspective. So much fun and so wonderful!) With a little bit of luck everything will get made...

*All meals are vegetarian or vegan, so meat references are Quorn Crumbles or the like.

B: Cereal. Stereotypical breakfast fare. Does it help that it was organic?
L: Veggie soup (from a can - see above comment) and tofurkey sandwiches
D: Taco Night - it's easy, in my fridge, and the kid's favorite. I'll make a taco bowl since I'm still trying to figure out the new Weight Watchers plan that debuted today (less shells that way.)

B: Waffles and fruit
L: Lunch out with a friend
D: Cheesy Potato and Veggie Soup, salad (This is actually dairy-free and vegan!)

Wednesday: First night of Hanukkah!
B: Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Couscous
L: Polenta with a red sauce or a "cheesy" sauce, broccoli
D: Potato Latkes, Tuna Salad (for hubby) and "Egg" Salad (for kid/me) with bagels, fruit

B: Tempeh Breakfast Hash
L: left over sandwiches, fruit, salad
D: CP Cincinnati Style Chili over Spaghetti, salad

B: Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
L: Homemade pizza (veggies and the like)
D: Vegetarian Irish Stew with biscuits

Saturday: The kid is dancing at a local holiday event and has rehearsal in the morning, so we'll probably eat out, on the go, and anytime that we can grab something! I should probably make some healthy snacks to take with us...

B: On Your Own (we have different schedules for church mornings)
L: leftovers
D: Vegetarian Stuffed Shells, garlic bread, salad (I'm going to attempt a few substitutions to make these dairy-free. Crossing fingers...)

Wow, doesn't look very balanced. But, it works! :)

Check out more menus at!

Review: Everything Christmas is everything you want!

Yes, the posting schedule says that today is Monday (aka Food Day) not Friday (aka Book Day.) However, I had to jump on this review! December 1 is just around the corner, and you're definitely going to want to rush out to your closest bookstore to pick up this book!

Title: Everything Christmas
Author: David Borden & Tom Winters
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah
ISBN: 9780307729293
Retail Price: $14.99

Summary from Publisher's Website:
"Everything Christmas brings all the best ideas for the holiday season together in one volume. In this book, you’ll find your favorite classic Christmas stories and a few new ones destined to join them. You’ll discover the most delectable holiday recipes, enjoy the words to treasured hymns and carols, be encouraged by inspirational Christmas poems, and find renewed joy in the Nativity story. From decoration ideas to Christmas trivia and humor – it’s all here!"


I have to whole heartedly agree! "It's all here" is the perfect description for Everything Christmas. Starting on December 1 you will have readings, recipes, crafts, and more to entertain and enlighten your family from grandparents down to grandchildren. But don't worry - it will be perfect even if you start on December 5! The book itself is gorgeous! The subtle colors on the heavy weight pages make this book feel much more decadent than the price suggests. It is a beautiful gift book ready for a place in your holiday traditions. I thoroughly enjoy the mix of information: traditions explained, trivia and historical facts, carols and quotations shared for daily enjoyment, stories to expand on the meaning of the season, recipes to fill your belly, and more. You'll come across the significant and the entertaining as you read through the chapters daily. My mind is running wild with ideas on how this book will play a role in the coming month. (The crafty side of me wants to use several quotes on Christmas cards and in holiday letters!) Though quoted scripture doesn't appear in each chapter it does appear heavily, and it is very clear that as the saying goes, "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." I appreciate this in today's society of materialism. For example, December 9 does not include a scripture reading but it does highlight a writing from Martin Luther, information on Advent traditions, Silent Night, and more. Everything Christmas is a treasure!

Be sure to check out the samples and goodies at the publisher's linked website above!

Rating: 5 Stars! Not only will this book be highly recommended to friends and family, it will also be used year after year in our family Advent tradition. I'll probably pick up a copy or two for a gift as well!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Friday, November 26, 2010

WildCrickets is having a Black Friday to Cyber Monday SALE!

Black Friday... Cyber Monday... Let the holiday shopping season begin! Here are a few coupon codes to say thank you to all who have supported me in starting WildCrickets this fall! Watch for new items to be added to the shop this weekend!

Now through Monday, November 29, 2010 you can create your own sale!!

Buy one item and save 10% off of your entire order! Coupon Code: TAKEONE

Buy two items and save 20% off of your entire order! Coupon Code: TAKETWO

Buy three items and 30% off of your entire order! Coupon Code: TAKETHREE

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm counting my blessings and enjoying a belated Thanksgiving dinner with my family and friends today. May your weekend be wonderful and full of memories!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 24: Food!

I love food. I think I've said it a time or two in various posts. But, just in case you've missed it....




Today I'm thankful for a God that provides. Not only does He provide for our family daily, but the creativity in which He does it just amazes me. We've been blessed by others when they never suspected that we needed it, and in turn we have tried to bless others when we were able. The creativity in God's creations amazes me as well! It may be because of my love of art, but my fascination with color is stoked when I think of the wide variety of food available to us. Ruby red strawberries... Deep orange pumpkins... Bright yellow lemons... The list can go on and on.

I'm thankful not only for the food that He has put on my table, but the food that groups and churches put on the table for others. God bless the workers in soup kitchens and food banks this holiday season.

My wish tonight is that you will each enjoy your Thanksgiving meals this week! We'll be celebrating a day later than most so that my mother can join us. Instead of having turkey on Thursday I'll be watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in my jammies while I rest and crochet. Oh, who am I kidding... I'll be cooking several dishes ahead (and sneaking tastes of all of the wonderful flavors as I go!)

The Simple Woman's Daybook: November 24th

This is my first Simple Woman's Daybook entry! I've read them many times over the years and always thought that it would be fun. A glimpse into my world... 

FOR TODAY, November 24, 2010

Outside my window... it's gray and looks like snow. I think we'll have to settle for a little bit of rain and hail.

I am thinking... about Thanksgiving plans and what I can cook ahead!

I am thankful for... my family, especially this week.

From the learning rooms... We're taking the entire week off for a fall break. Yippee!

From the kitchen... Today is a leftovers kind of day. We're getting our Thanksgiving meal put together.

I am wearing... jeans and one of my favorite blue cotton shirts. I love the tiny bit of beading that pops up around the neckline. Simple, but enough sparkle that you might not notice it yet it adds a bit of sparkle.

I am creating... my first original designs for my WildCrickets etsy shop! I'm still tweaking them, but hopefully I'll add some crocheted cotton bracelets to the shop this week.

I am going... to take a long hot bath tonight. :)

I am reading... Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity by Drew Brees. I love it! In a society that holds our athletes up as heroes it's nice to have a godly man in the group!

I am hoping... that the ice won't come in tonight like they think it will. We don't have to travel, but so many of our friends do!

I am hearing... my husband watch Romancing the Stone. Flashback movie of the week!

Around the house... you'll smell cinnamon. My mom found the best cinnamon broom at the store. Now the house smells like the holidays!

One of my favorite things... would have to be my snuggly blanket. It's chilly today so I'm that much happier about climbing into bed tonight.

A few plans for the rest of the week... I'm going to finish and photograph a few items for the WildCrickets shop, and then I'm going to start on holiday presents for the family. I'm really hoping to be able to sew tomorrow! We'll have our big Thanksgiving celebration with our immediate family and two ladies from church on Friday. (My mom is a nurse and is working tomorrow so we're being flexible!) I'm determined to stay in as much as I can this weekend and enjoy the calm before the rush of Christmas. Each year it seems to get busier and more hectic.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

This was taken in June, 2009. We were celebrating my grandfather's birthday by going to the zoo. This week I'm missing my uncle and my grandfather. But, I have memories like this to hold dear!

If you would like to read more please hop over to The Simple Woman's Daybook and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 22: The US Navy

Today is technically Day 23, but I've only missed Day 22 by about 20 minutes so I'm calling it good. :)

Tonight's entry is short, but filled with a lot of emotion. We buried my grandfather today. A lot can be said about a subject like that! But, tonight I am thankful for the U.S. Navy.

My grandfather proudly served during World War II. He once said that he had mixed feelings when the war ended... he was excited and relieved but saddened because he was out of a job. It broke his heart to be discharged. He talked proudly of his experience in the service all of his life.

Today he was buried with military honors. Three of the Navy's finest came to pay tribute to my grandfather. To see them salute the casket as he was taken by gave me such pause. To hear Taps played brought me to tears. They will never know the comfort that their words brought. Not completely. They will never know how truly grateful we are for their service. We will proudly display the flag presented to my mother. For some reason I feel the desire to grab a Navy sweatshirt for the winter. :)

I thank all service men and women past, present, and future. I thank all of the spouses, parents, and children who hang on in the home front while they serve. They sacrifice more than we will ever comprehend.

I'm thankful for the U.S. Navy because not only does it protect and serve our country, but it gave my grandfather such memories and pride.

Saying a prayer for our service men and women tonight...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 20: Time with my grandfather

Welcome back, Gratitude Challenge. How I've missed you.

Things have been a little crazy around here. I'm trying slowly and meagerly to keep a bit of normalcy in the routine, but it's proving to be a bit of a challenge. As you know, we were out of town this week while my grandfather was in the hospital. He was actually in the hospital for five weeks but due to illness with my daughter and myself I wasn't able to make the two-hour drive until this week when we were told that we may be losing him. After a very short stay in hospice we did in fact do just that yesterday.

I'm still processing the entire situation so this post will be brief. But after starting and stopping I knew what I needed to do. I needed to be thankful for the time that we had together. The eyes that followed in conversation. The smile that tried to peek around the corners of his mouth at my daughter. The time that we had as a family sitting quietly in the room or laughing a little bit too loud for others down the hall. It's funny where good memories will sneak in.

Today I'm thankful for the time that we had together. And, I'm thankful for the time that we'll have once again in the future for I know where he is. God is good, all the time!

Rest in peace, Papa.

Lee Roy F.
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather.
WWII Veteran, US Navy
June, 1925 - November, 2010

In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. John 14:2 (NIV)

Saturday Tutorials... Originals that I love!

Happy Saturday!

I've been a bit behind in what I had hoped would be my first week of posting according to my schedule. And what happens when we have hopes that things will go a certain way? Say it with me.... you never know what you'll get instead! :) After a week of illness and the subsequent death of my grandfather the posting was a little off schedule. I could use some normalcy today, so on with the posting!

Saturdays will hopefully be a great day for a few projects. My plan is to share with you a project that I've been working on, a tutorial or two that inspire me, or even a tutorial of my own design. I had a great little last-minute Thanksgiving project in mind for you but with the week as it was I decided to edit and turn it into a Christmas item. Look for it in a few weeks!

Instead you'll find a list of some cute (and quirky!) tutorials perfect for someone on your list. OK, maybe not YOUR list, but they are definitely perfect for someone! Each one has a distinct personality of its own! I love these items and long for the day that I'll have the perfect person with which to share them. Until then I'll be hiding them away in my massive link collection.

Kicking off today's tutorial list is.... The Duct Tape Bullwhip! This tutorial has been around for a few years and it just rings originality to me! I'm waiting for a nephew or two to grow past the age of hurting themselves - or others - so that I can make this. (Or, maybe one of the grown kids will get it as a gag gift one of these days!) Doesn't every good adventurer need a bullwhip?

These CD Photo Cubes are just too cute. I love the idea of reusing all of the empty CD cases that live in my basement. I hesitated to include this because a certain sister and brother-in-law may just be getting a set for their mantel this Christmas. (I don't think she reads my blog so I may be safe!)

Every new mom gets the standard fare... diapers, bibs, clothes, pacifiers. I've always wanted to make a tooth fairy pocket doll for my friends! It never seems to be a gift that I time correctly. Kids are either too small or too big. But, what about tucking one away in a package to a new mom? It will be on hand when the kids are bigger, and I bet she definitely won't get duplicates of this gift! Try on a Robot or a Matyroshka on for size, or what about a matching Boy + Girl for twins!

Chocolate + Science = Scientific S'mores. This might be better posted on my homeschool days, but I think this is fantastic! The actual experiment is linked within the original post so you'll have to visit two, but it's worth it. How much fun would it be to open up a chocolate science experiment kit during the holiday season! Learn something AND munch some goodies! It's definitely another one of those original gifts!

So everyone has a bag of Altoid tins in their craft area just waiting for a project, right? It couldn't just be me. (Don't tell me if it is just me.) I've been looking for some great projects because I just knew that I'd need them one day. This is perfect!  I've also seen some fantastic examples of tins used for personal-sized sewing or first aid kits, storage of those little crafty bits like paper scraps and sewing needles, and everything in between. Go alter some tins and tell me how you used it!

#6 - 106
OK, so if bullwhips and tooth fairy pillows aren't your cup of tea see if you can find something over in this grab bag of the Top 100 Tutorials of 2009. I love this list. Organized by category it is a breeze to visit while you are planning those gift lists. Hopefully you'll find a few things to stir your creative side!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude Challege Day 16: Kindness

Today I'm sitting in a hospital room with my mom and daughter. My grandfather has been here for 24 days. Unfortunately his labs and what not are improving, but he isn't. The infection he's been fighting is finally gone. Only he isn't doing better. He's just tired. So, we wait. We think we know what we are waiting for, but only God truly knows. It's in His hands and His timing alone.

This isn't an eloquent post. It isn't fancy or edited pretty. I honestly don't have time to look for many quotes like I would like. But, my heart tells me that I need to sing praises today.

My gratitude goes to those helping care for him. My mom is a nurse (as well as previously being a first grade teacher), so I've grown up understanding the sacrifice and diligence that goes with this sometimes thankless job. When you are in a doctor's office or hospital take the time to say thank you to the nurse! Say thank you to the techs. Say thank you to the people who clean or those in security. Their jobs are often thankless, and they see grieving more than most.

My gratitude goes to the other families who take the time to nod or smile, say a kind hello, or hold an elevator door. They are most likely having a stressful time as well. Take the time to say thank you.

My gratitude goes to the Lord, for I know that no matter what is in store my faith - and my grandfather's faith - is in Him. With Him all things are possible. With Him our future is secure. With Him we have no wants or needs. Sing praises. :)

Go hug someone. :)

For God so loved the ME AND YOU that He gave His one and only Son for US so that when WE believe in HIM we have everlasting life. John 3:16 (Stephanie version!)

Crafty Book Review: Doodle-Stitching by Aimee Ray

Doodle-Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery Designs for Beginners by Aimee Ray

2007, Lark Books; 128 pages

Summary from

"Asian-inspired lampshades embellished with flying fish. Canvas sneakers decorated with pink and white swirls. A pretty pillow adorned with a sleeping bunny, sweetly curled up. All it takes to create these appealing projects—or add charming embroidered touches in no time at all—are a few simple stitches, some easy techniques, and the nearly 30 projects in this book. Begin by learning several styles for outlining, filling, decorating, and appliqué. Find out about floss, fancy threads, fabrics, and needles. Get the scoop on hoops, and the lowdown on transferring your very own designs onto every type of fabric. The fresh ideas, witty patterns, and clever color illustrations take stitchers from novice to accomplished in a blink of the eye!"

My turn...

I picked this book up on a whim when I was in one of my "I need inspiration" moods. I'm so glad that I did. I LOVE this book. Did you catch that?

Love. This. Book.

Do you doodle while you are on the phone? You can do this. Like to draw on a scrap napkin? Yep. You too. Copy, alter, or start from scratch with your own original design with a doodle. It's completely approachable after you've read this book!

I don't have much experience with embroidery. I've done a bit here and there, but my hand-stitching is typically limited to finishing work and the occasional cross stitch project. I've tried my hand at embroidery a few times but honestly there are some basic stitches that my mind just wouldn't allow me to see. Aimee Ray does a fantastic job explaining the how along with the why in each basic and decorative stitch. She also tells you how a stitch might morph into another, or how two may be paired together. The photographs along with her description create some kind of magic because I GOT it! I can actually see how these elements come together to create patterns! This is earth shattering people. Seriously. It is.

Another great bit in this book comes by way of explanation of fabric and method. Each is explained (again with photos), and best yet even the patterns tell you step by step which method of transfer should be used, to hoop or not to hoop (not a question after you read her description) and how to make changes to make the piece YOURS. I tend to be a "buck the system" kind of gal. I always make changes. If a craft requires me to copy a work in full I tend to work through half and never finish. I honestly think that I will finish any project that I choose from this book. Best yet, because there are photos of motifs created in slightly different ways or with slightly different materials to illustrate the flexibility in design my mind's eye has already started coming up with designs.

Practically speaking this is a great book to grab if you are new to sewing and would like to embellish a purchased item to give it that hand-made touch, and yet it is also a good book for the shelf of a seasoned crafter. Pick it up and enjoy.

Now, go stitch something!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fall Into Reading 2010 Challenge (just a little late!)

Oh, how I love books! I love books as much as I love fabric.

And food.

Books make me smile! I spent hours as a child reading the stories of the Little House on the Prairie series. It was my tradition to read through the entire series with each move. I lived as a friend of Nancy Drew's in her adventures. I grew through stories such as The Secret Garden, and with them my memories grew as well.

I just love books. Remember the line, "Fish are friends, not food?" Well, books are friends, not simply words on a page.

Every year I've wanted to join the reading challenges over at Callapidder Days but for some reason I never can remember in time to start with everyone else. This year I decided that it didn't matter. I can read along with them even if I start late. And that I will do!

The Fall Into Reading 2010 Challenge officially began in September and will conclude on December 20th, so my list will be a bit shorter than I would normally choose. The coming season will be busy, so I hope to read as much as I can. My personal goal is to read a minimum of 30 minutes per day. It's not much, I know! However, during a season where we have three major holidays (Thanksgiving, Hanukkah with the in-laws, and Christmas with my family) I'll be doing well to get that much in!

I also tend to read things that others might not such as craft books, cookbooks, etc. I have a stack of craft books either on my shelf or on my library list that I'll work through. I love reading craft books! (I do, by the way. I read it all. Cover to cover. Instructions and all. Told you I was weird!) Since this is a hectic season I'll read through some of these. I'll give you as many reviews as I can on these in case you'd like to check them out! I've added a classic to the list. Yes, I know the story, but I've never actually read it cover to cover myself. I'm also adding a non-fiction title by G.K. Chesterton. I love the Father Brown titles by Chesterton! I've yet to read one of his non-fiction titles so I thought I'd give this a read.

Follow my progress on the Fall Into Reading 2010 page at the top of the blog!

So, to recap:

1. Read a minimum of 30 minutes per day.
2. Read my craft books.
3. Review as many books as I can.
4. Give a recap on Fridays to keep me honest!

My list:

Doodle-Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners by Aimee Ray

Sewing Green: 25 Projects Made With Repurposed & Organic Materials by Betz White

Sock and Glove: Creating Charming Softy Friends From Cast-off Socks and Gloves by Kanamori Miyako

Craft Challenge: Dozens of Ways to Repurpose a Pillowcase by Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott

Shakespeare In An Hour by Christopher Baker

Irish Impressions by G.K. Chesterton

Three Ghost Stories by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Hopefully I'll get to make friends with each book listed. Visit Callapidder Days and join in the fun!

Gratitude Challenge Day 15: Quiet Mornings

God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day. Genesis 1:5 (NIV)

Who would have thought that "morning" would pop up in a post about blessings and gratitude!? If you knew me you'd know that I am not a morning person.




However, I married a morning person. He loves mornings. Adores mornings. Craves mornings. And, it's rubbing off on me.

Over the years I've always looked for ways to sleep in. These days I set my alarm clock so that I'm up a little bit earlier than the kid. I haven't quite mastered the way of the organized ninja, but I'm getting there.

Things that mornings give me:

Time to start slow. (Though I'm a talker I'm a really slow talker in the morning. Don't look at me. Don't require me to speak in more than a grunt. Don't feed the animal.)

Time with God. (I'm not the best at morning quiet time, though I hope to be one day. I find myself giving an internal pep talk and pat on the back... it's not in the "when" but in the "do.")

Time to plan out my day. (I love to review my calendars: personal, homeschool lesson planner, blog plans.)

Time to exercise. (OK, so this more of a daily goal than something that always happens.... don't judge me. ;)

My point is that mornings can be so full of the things that I love doing - alone and without words - that I'm really trying to make it a priority to get up earlier. So far so good. I even wake up without prompting now. (Why do I have the Pull Ups "I'm a big kid now" commercial singing my head?)

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3 (NIV)

Menu Planning Monday: November 15

Ah, Menu Plan Monday... how I've missed you! I've gotten a bit wordy in this "glad to be back" post, so feel free to hurry it up a bit and skip to the bottom.

I used to love participating in MPM ages ago in my former bloggy life. What fun it was! I know. It's either making me really interesting about now, or making me seem like I need more pizazz in my life. Peeking into the menus of others is considered fun for me. (I also read - yes read - cookbooks for kicks. I'm an odd bird I tell you!) It helped me stay on task and gave me fresh ideas to wow the family. However, once the blogging stopped so did my peeking and participate. I'm so glad to have it back. Hopefully it will have the same effect on my planning as well as budget!

Two of us (myself and the kid) are vegetarians while the other two (the husband and the grandmother) are what I would call flexitarians. They eat meat but will eat a vegetarian meal with me as well. Because my husband prefers meat-based meals I do have a tendency to use replacements such as Quorn Grounds or Quorn Tenders so you'll notice things such as "Chicken Pot Pie." Some vegetarians don't like it. Pish posh. It works here. (Though we might be integrating meat back into our meals on a small basis. I'd love to hear if anyone has any experience on transitioning back after being on a vegetarian diet!) We are also a dairy-free family but most recipes are adjusted so you'll find these recipes should work for most people. Yes, yes... Quorn isn't a dairy-free product, but the amount must be minimal because our daughter doesn't react to it.

Also, I'm adding in breakfast otherwise we wander like refugees through the kitchen asking someone to toss us a slice of bread or point us to the closest box of cereal. I'm desperately trying to reign in this time of the day. It's not marked which meal is which, but I leave it to your good judgment to sort that one out! Lunches tend to be soup and sandwich fare except on Fridays when I babysit. (This week... TACOS!)

Side note: Check out the free resources over at I'm An Organizing Junkie. They are fantastic! I didn't use them much this week because I'm having to fly by the seat of my pants since I haven't been feeling well, but I plan on utilizing many of these (especially the freezer cooking links!) It's on my list of things to accomplish in the near future before falling victim enjoying the rush of the holiday season.

One website that I had a lot of fun with this week came from another challenge Planner last week: 100 Nutritious, Delicious, Vegetarian Recipes for Picky Kids & Husbands

Let's see what the family will be eating this week. After peeking through a few links and peering into the fridge it looks like the winners are....

drumroll please...

Monday: (CP) Tempeh Breakfast Hash ; Crock Pot Enchiladas w/ Mexican Rice

Tuesday: (F) Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Couscous ; Cheesy Potato Veggie Soup

Wednesday: (E) Cinnamon Raisin French Toast ; Baked Mac & Cheese w/ Broccoli and Fruit Salad

Thursday: (D) Scrambled Tofu Breakfast Burritos ; Cincinnati Style Chili Over Spaghetti w/ Salad

Friday: (CP) Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins ; Vegetarian Spinach Lasagna w/ Garlic Bread

Saturday: Vegan Breakfast Casserole (prep Friday night) ; Homemade Pizza

Sunday: (CP) Free for All Breakfast ; Vegetarian Irish Stew

*In case you're interested, here's what my notations mean:
(CP) = Crock Pot These are the days that we're loaded with activities.
(F) = Favorite Dad is out twice a month so we eat all of our vegetarian favorites. Can anyone say tofu?
(E) = Easy These are the nights that we have somewhere to be straight after dinner. The need for speed means nothing fancy from The Food Network!
(D) = Dad's Favorite Since we get a favorite certain nights HE gets a favorite certain nights. Fair is fair!

See, it's not a mundane task. It's an adventure when you link up to hundreds of others! So hop over to I'm An Organizing Junkie and take part. What are YOU having for dinner?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 14: Homeschooling

It's Day 14 of the Gratitude Challenge! I'm thoroughly enjoying this series - both the reading and the writing!

Today, I am thankful for the place that homeschooling has in our lives. It's a fantastic blessing that I could not have imagined in my wildest of teenage dreams, and I wouldn't change it for a second.

I've already written a bit about our homeschooling history as well as what we are using this year. This post will have a very different feel. But, it's where my heart is today.

* Psst.... Disclaimer Here *
In no way does my love of homeschooling or views on parenting mean that I am sitting in judgment of those who choose a different education for their children. I am thankful that we live in an age where we have choice... homeschooling, private school, or public school. No one choice is perfect for each family. Though we are committed to homeschooling we are more committed to following the Lord's leading. Our journey doesn't need to look like yours. Just a little side note for my non-homeschooling friends who read this blog!

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

We firmly believe that it is our duty as parents to train our daughter: to be a strong Christian firm in her beliefs; to be an educated young lady with the ability to find the information she requires on the path the Lord gives her; and to be a polite and responsible member of society. Homeschooling is how we choose to do that.

To be a strong Christian firm in her beliefs...

How wonderful that we live in a country where we can still stand up for our beliefs without becoming a martyr! Granted, things have changed and continue to change, but this is a post about homeschooling not politics. ;) We believe that it is first our duty as parents to teach our daughter how to understand and respond to Scripture and the Lord's leading. I've beaten myself up over the years for not teaching this or that in such and such order. Then one day it hit me. I am not strong enough to take down God's plan for her! I can't mess her up if I am choosing everything through prayer. If we teach her to do all things through prayer she will also learn how to follow His leading in her future as well.

To be an educated young lady with the ability to find the information she requires on the path the Lord gives her...

I feel so blessed that we have so many materials at our disposal in this day and age! A big thank you to all of those moms and dad that homeschooled prior to the day of the Rainbow Resource catalog. Because of you and your desire to ferret out and request high quality information and materials for your children can those of us in today's homeschool community choose from an immeasurable amount of curriculum sources. (Ok, so we could could them. I don't want to try. And, I don't know who has yet!) Thank you, THANK you, THANK YOU!

To be a polite and responsible member of society...

Whoever thinks that homeschoolers aren't socialized needs to read a few articles or have a few conversations with a homeschooler or two! Yup. We're a chatty bunch. Though most expect us to be home all the time we actually beg for a home day or two a week! We are so blessed to have so many opportunities for our children. Art classes at the rec center... homeschool groups for a variety of needs... field trips all around town. That's just the start of it! I know that not all cities are likes ours. We have so many opportunities in our local homeschool community and though I frequently lament about how I miss the South where I grew up (and I do!) I have to remind myself that we have such a blessing in our local community. I am also thankful to have an active church community that can help her in that goal as well.

Homeschooling has blessed us during times of struggle and times of triumph. We are so thankful that we have the right to choose homeschooling for our daughter!

Head over to check out today's entries in Garden of Learning's Gratitude Challenge. You'll be blessed!

Gratitude Challenge Days 11 - 13 Catching up!

Welcome to the "Stephanie Catches Up" Gratitude Challenge Post! This has been a tough week!

Our daughter has been sick.

I've been sick.

Our dogs have been sick.

My grandfather is still sick.

I'm feeling like everyone is sick!

Needless to say, I got behind in the blog and challenge. I still thought of all of the things that I was thankful for, I just didn't have the time or energy to get them posted. So....

The Catch Up Post!

November 11: I am thankful for our service men and women! My grandfathers both served... one in the Navy, one in the Army. I am blessed with friends who have given their lives to protect our freedom. I am blessed with friends who wait at home while their loved ones give their lives. It's almost an incomprehensible gift that they all give to us. How can we ever know what each has given up? We talk about how they leave their friends and family, but they also leave their hobbies, passions, loves. They give up the ability to truly relax to serve their country. They give up the joy of doing something just because they want to for us - some appreciative, some not. They give up the mundane that we take for granted (and they probably miss more than they expected!) It's the big and the little sacrifices that make up the gift that they give us. My thanks to all those who have served, past and present.

November 12: I'm thankful for technology! My mom has been traveling to the hospital that my grandfather is in. A lot. She makes this two-hour drive as often as she can around her work schedule. (She's a nurse, so this means that she is able to go multiple times a week if her schedule allows.) She's been able to keep in contact with us as she needs to through cell phones and text messages. The hospital has been able to reach her at a moment's notice if necessary. How wonderful is this! Not too long ago one would miss an important update if they were running errands. Or they would have to find a pay phone (and hope that they had change in their pockets) to call family for support. It's a little thing, and possibly odd to some, but I am thankful that she has been able to reach us - and be reached - when needed.

November 13: I've said it before, but yesterday I was thankful for my husband and daughter once again. I was in bed or on the couch nearly all of yesterday, and they took great care of me! From making me food to washing all of the dishes and everything in between, it was all taken care of for me. I am thankful that I have a family that spends so much time together (and enjoys it!) I was able to rest and somewhat recover, and I know that when I need help today they will be there to lend a hand. :)

I'm staying home from church to rest today, but hopefully I'll be back to regular posting this week. I've missed it! I've been finding some great holiday blogs to follow... lots of foodie, crafty, holiday fun. Hopefully I'll get posts up to share that this week! I've learned to let go of the mommy guilt. We get sick. We get behind. And it's fine. (My stress level thanks ME for that one!)

If you'd like to join the challenge there are still many days of gratitude left! Join at the Garden of Learning linked above or on the right side of the blog.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 10: My "take charge" husband

I'm thankful for my husband for so many reasons. He has many different sides to him. The knowledgeable side. The computer/IT nerd side. The funny side. The dependable side. (No worries... no multiple personalities. Just multiple talents!) Tonight I'm thankful for his "take charge" side.

We have four dogs. Yep. Four. It's been a stressful fall with our fur babies. One was diagnosed with an eye disorder similar to dry eye that has caused various decrees of blindness in both of her eyes. She was then diagnosed with diabetes. And bladder cancer. My poor little baby. We've had to adjust to schedules and meds. I learned to give a shot. (To know me is to know how amazing this is with my fear of needles. No. It didn't help with my own fear!)

In the middle of these diagnoses - which happened in about a week by the way - another dog started having seizures. Did I mention that it's been a little stressful? I have a tendency towards stress, so this has been hard.

I know that some disagree (and please don't tell me if you do) but I believe that God hears my prayers for my pups as well. They are His creation. I can't begin to imagine that He doesn't care for them as well. I've had to depend on Him during some stressful and difficult times of decision and events (have you seen a seizure in a dog?)

However, I've also had to depend on my "take charge" husband.

When we hear our pup fall during a seizure, he rushes to it when I freeze.

When we have to hold my pup as he cries and shakes, he sits down on the floor in the middle of - well - fluids and talks calmly.

When I'm nervous in the middle of the night because I'm afraid to sleep in case our pup has another seizure, he stays up and talks to me.

When I'm worried that our guy will have another during the day, he makes sure that he clears his calendar. (He works from home! And I love it, but that's another thing for which I'm thankful!)

I am better now because he's talked me through the seizures, but with only 7 under our belt I'm still very nervous when they start. I can talk calmly and compassionately to our little guy, but I still tend to be the one that moves furniture and cleans up messes instead of sitting on the floor because I still tend to cry. (I'm a big ol' tearing up weenie!) And my take charge husband lets me do what I need to do while he does what he needs to do. It works well, and for that I'm thankful!

Sophie the Blind Pug &
Asher the Twitchy Boy

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Ephesians 5:25 (NIV)

PS - I missed yesterday's challenge! Whoops! I was playing mom to a sick kid. I'll add in one this weekend. Or, I'll give myself grace. ;)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another great pre-holiday contest... Win Your Wishlist From Knit Picks!

I'm a yarn junkie. One can never have too many crochet hooks or knitting needles. Tool? Yep. Only mine are things like stitch markers and scissors. If you are like me in any of these things (or would like to start a new obsession hobby) check out the Win Your Wishlist contest from Knit Picks!

My wishlist picks...

Soft Touch Crochet Hook Gift Set

I love these! Actually, I love the idea behind these hooks. I'm assuming I'll love them. I want to try them!

Try It Needle Set

I've been wanting to try these for a very long time, only every time I have the cash to spend on interchangeable needles I can't decide which set I want! Now they have the most amazing sampler set so that I can try all of them before investing in a large set. Yep. I think these are going on my list for the husband. ;)

Tree Fort (Stroll Handpainted Sock Yarn)

Ah.. Stroll... How I love you. I have a personal project that I've been working on for a while in Stroll. It's glorious to work with. I think it's my favorite. Eventually I'll use it for socks! (Maybe...)

Now, I just have to win. (Details... details...)


Gratitude Challenge Day 8: Good Doctors!

Today I am thankful for good doctors!

We spent several hours today in the doctor's office with my daughter. Begin in the office again reminded me of all the things that they have done to help us in the past. This doctor has been a gift to our family over the years. My daughter had a run in with bad health several years ago. We didn't know what it was, and it was a terrifying time of specialists and tests.  Suspected diagnoses ranged from Lyme Disease to Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis to Psoriasis. Our family doctor could not have handled it better.

He was supportive.

He offered us prayer.

He cared enough to call us at home in the late hours of the night just because he had our daughter on his heart.

He rocks!

Luckily our daughter turned out to have a simple casein allergy. It's not simple to most, but when you have the other diagnoses as options I'll take it any day. :)

Through all of this we need to remember that we have a Great Physician standing by all of us...

"But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, in love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15 (NIV) abounding

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 7: Netflix

Today is Gratitude Challenge Day #7! My first six days of the challenge focused on more meaty things, and today I'm going fluffy...

Today I'm thankful for NETFLIX!

We don't watch a lot of "live" network or cable television. There are a few shows that we like but they are rare. (Ok, so I love The Biggest Loser, but that's another post.) Even if we do find one that we like the commercials make it difficult to watch half the time!

Enter Netflix.

We love Netflix streaming video. We can watch somewhat current shows without the commercials, and we can watch all of our favorite older shows as well. We grab documentaries. We watch comedies. We toss in some movies for good measure.

Why don't we just use a dvr? That would require a switch in cable providers. I'm not the primary decision maker in that area. :) For now, we Netflix!

I love modern technology!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 6: My daughter!

 It's Day 6 in the Gratitude Challenge, and today I'm thankful for my daughter! Excuse me while I brag...

She's challenging.

Our youngest daughter is 13, and she is a wonderful addition to our family. Just like her father, she is one to constantly challenge me (and mostly in good ways.) She makes me think. She makes me stay alert. She makes me hold myself accountable in the achievement of my goals. And, just when I think I have something down - like holding my tongue! - she gives me a situation to prove it or lose it. It isn't often that a parent will admit that they learn from their children, but I do learn from mine.

She's creative. 

She is a prolific writer. I don't remember a day passing where I haven't watched her write by hand, on the laptop, or at the very least in her journal. She's always loved to be elbow deep in art supplies. I think that her love and appreciation of art and music is one of my most successful accomplishments. (And I hope that doesn't sound conceited, but it was a goal that we're seeing come to fruition so I'm thrilled!) This year she has exploded! She's dancing several days a week and is taking two art classes... one focusing on the potter's wheel and hand-building of ceramics, and one focusing on drawing and painting. I've never seen her as dedicated to anything other than her writing as she is to her art this year. She's been tired and sore, sick and miserable, and she still fulfills her commitment to her dance schedule without complaints. She dresses in her own style and adds creative touches to her outfits whenever she can. I'm definitely seeing that side appear!

She's got a faith that will move mountains.

I can take no credit for this. God put a spirit of love for Him in her from the very beginning. As a toddler she would tell me about angels. As a preschooler she would explain to people that God loved them. As an elementary student she knew that one day she would work in missions, be it as a full time position or as something that she does with her life through volunteering at her church. As a teenager she volunteers as often as she can (though admittedly I could clear my schedule to allow her to do more.) She sings on the worship team during the student worship time. She loves to help with service projects with the youth group. She adores spending time with her church family. She is the first person telling us to get ready for church and the last person out the doors after we're finished on a Sunday (or Wednesday!) She gave her heart to God and meant it. She believes in modesty and courting.

She's also a normal teenager.

We have our moments (last night) and our conflicts (last night), and I try to remember that it is part of growing up. She listens to her music way too loud. She wants to spend too much time on the computer. And her room is a mess!

I love my kid, and not just because I'm her mom. She's a nut, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Psalm 127:3 (NIV)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 5: Grace

It's been a hard week around these parts. My grandfather isn't doing so well and ended up in ICU yesterday. Honestly, I didn't want to write today's post. It wasn't that I wasn't thankful for something, or that I didn't want to participate in the challenge. I'm just plain tired! It was a long night ending with a very early start to the day with a sick puppy girl. I just haven't been able to think straight. So, I gave myself permission to just skip it this one time. I thought, "I deserve blogging grace after a night like last night."

And then it hit me.


That's what I'm thankful for! The grace that my child gives me when I get snappy because I'm tired. The grace that my husband gives me when I didn't get the dishes done (or when I tell him that he can pop a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner if he wants.) I'm thankful for the grace that my mother gives me when I am just too tired to talk more about the day's events.

Most importantly, I'm thankful for the grace that our Heavenly Father gives me when I mess up. And I do. It's that human thing. It just gets in the way! Without that grace I would be nothing, and I would have nothing. We are justified through His grace. We are redeemed through His grace. We are show love and forgiveness through His grace. It's truly a wonderful thing. So today I am so thankful for that Amazing Grace...

Side note - The hymn, Amazing Grace, holds a special place in our family. My granny sang it to each of us, and it was the first song that she sang to me as well as my daughter when we were both babies. It can calm me in a storm and make me smile even wider on a beautiful day. Such a wonderful gift to give us as a reminder!

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 (NIV)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gratitude Challenge Day 4: Country Roads

It's day four of the Gratitude Challenge. Check out more at The Garden of Learning!

Today has been a tough day. It started out pretty good. My daughter started a new session of art classes at a local community center. This session it's a day full, so not only did I have a home day, but it was a quiet all-by-myself home day. (Homeschool moms know that this rarely happens!) I got some blogging in, got some tweeting done, worked on some things for the WildCrickets etsy shop. It was fairly productive.




My day ended crazy. Plans changed. Dinner didn't get made. We were almost late to my daughter's dance class.

Did I mention that my daughter's dance school happens to be in the country? Remember that I'm a country girl at heart. I think it has something to do with my family living in the country or my mother playing far too much John Denver (Country Roads!) when I was young but it soothes me. Actually, it does more than soothe me. It ministers to my soul! I don't care what season it is, or what time of day, a drive in the country makes me smile. There is always something to catch my breath. I see evidence of God in the creations around me. I love watching the animals in pastures and barnyards. The air just seems to be cleaner and smell fresher. I can forget about any trouble that aches or pains me even for a brief minute.

It's a tough night around here. I'm waiting for more information about my grandfather who isn't doing so well. I'm thankful for him in my life as well, but I realized after getting the call that he was being taken to ICU how different hearing this information would have been had I not received some good old fashioned country comfort from my Heavenly Father tonight.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

And just for extra smiles... I know he's not "cool" but I do love John Denver! Though this will date me, I'll say that I grew up listening to him from the cradle as did my daughter. (And I did live in West Virginia for a few years, and it is beautiful!)