Tuesday, October 31, 2017

[simply] Tuesday

What a fun day for all the kiddos!  I always feel so sorry for all the teachers on this day.  When I worked at the local elementary school years and years ago, I always had such mixed emotions about this day.  The kids were always over the moon excited about everything, but in most ways, I think the following day was even worse, when they brought in all their candy for lunch.  I lost count of how many times I said, "Eat your main thing first, THEN you can have the candy." 

But it was fun. 

My dad, stepmom and sister came over for dinner last night.  Terri will be in town all this week, and we'll get to see her a few more times before she heads back to North Carolina.  I made chicken tortilla soup again, because when I made it a couple weeks ago, I didn't make enough.  We love to eat the leftovers, and there wasn't near enough.  Last night I doubled the recipe and we have plenty to eat on all week.

Today I'll be doing the laundry I didn't get around to yesterday, and cleaning of the floors, both upstairs and downstairs. 

We have friends coming over tonight to sit around the fire pit with us as we pass out candy to all the trick or treaters, and we'll eat hot dogs and rotel cheese dip. 

I don't think any of the boys are going trick or treating this year!  That's sad, but I know they're older, so this is life, I suppose.  They can enjoy the fire pit with us. 

Because I never post pictures of Graham, I love what I came across on Timehop last week, from one of the dress up nights in youth.

He was Woody, from Toy Story. 

And one of my favorite pictures of Drew came up last week on Timehop, as well.

I'm pretty sure he still considers this night one of the best of his life.  He has always loved girls.  When he was little, instead of saying a girl was "hot" [which I don't like to hear], he called them "spicy".

Oh, the memories. 

I'm looking for a picture with both Jonah and Noah dressed up, but this was all I could find.  I just don't want to leave them out.

This was back in the day when we went to the pumpkin patch every year.  They were four in this picture.  Man, they were ADORABLE! 

Have a fun day!  Whether you're taking your kids door to door, or if you're handing out candy, I hope it's a great one.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

a weekend in the life

I always consider the start of our weekend as Friday at noon, when my sweet dad comes over and we eat lunch together.  I LOVE our Fridays together, and I thank God for the many, many years we have spent doing Friday afternoon with him.  I'm pretty selfish with that day and time and just about the only things that stop me from seeing him would be if one of us are out of town, or if we're sick.  We never want to share germs with eighty-six year old Pappaw.

Unfortunately, the only picture I have from this whole day is a selfie, and well, you know I don't love those.  I'll spare you.  

We ate with him, then we came back here and had coffee.  It was chilly!  He stayed until three, then he went home.  I tried to take a nap, but it didn't work.  Todd and Graham were home at five thirty, and we all went our separate ways.  Noah was camping this weekend, so he was gone.  Drew and Jonah went to dinner, and Graham and Rachel went somewhere else for dinner.  It was raining and yucky, so we had Graham go grab a pizza for us, then we ate it in front of the tv and watched The Good Wife.  It was a lovely evening at home in our jammies.  I love nights like that!

I was up at the crack of dawn Saturday morning.  I'd promised my bestie I would cook bacon for an event at church, so I made all the bacon she brought over, then I made breakfast for my people.  Which consisted of bacon and blueberry muffins.  Todd and Jonah left to go to a Cars & Coffee event in Cordova, but not many people were there because of how cold it was.  They drove back into Collierville and found some nice cars at the local Harley Davidson shop here in town.  

While they were doing that, I went shopping for a few fall and winter things.  This was me, in the dressing room, texting my sisters, mom, and niece over this cute outfit.

Usually I have a sister, my mom, or my best friend with me, but no one was with me, so of COURSE I texted all of them.  

I bought this and a few other much-needed tops.  They were all on clearance, so that was a huge bonus.  Right after I left here, I called my best friend and we decided to go to another shop together, but Graham needed my car, so I came home and then she picked me up.  [We are short vehicles, so I'm sharing my car with the boys.]

We went to Charming Charlie.  I needed [okay, WANTED] a new clutch and she wanted to go with.

I found something and she did not.  Also, how cute?  It's flannel.  I exchanged my heavy purse for a medium sized clutch in June, and I don't think I'll ever go back to a purse again.  It holds just enough for what I need.  It holds my lipstick, keys, some headache medicine in a snack sized Ziploc bag, my phone, a tiny flashlight, and instead of a whole wallet, I only carry my license and library card, insurance cards, and credit card.  This one has a zippered pocked inside, and is a tiny bit bigger than the one I carried since June.  

It also saves my back.  I love big purses, but the bigger the purse, the more junk I put inside of it.  If I need to carry a book, I just carry it in my hand.  This particular bag even holds my glasses in their soft case and my phone.

After we shopped, Missy dropped me off, then I sat down and had a short nap.  At four, the three boys and I left for my mom's house for dinner.  Toddley worked for the sheriff's department.  

We had a yummy dinner, and then we did this.

Bill and Graham messed around with the firepit.  

I watched bits and pieces of a Hallmark Christmas movie with Mom and Trish.  

And we gawked over the babies in Colorado, at their mommy and daddy's costume party.  

They went as the circus. 

Also, Trish and I rummaged through Mom's Christmas decorations in search of a tablecloth, but had no luck.  

We came home at eight, then I watched some of The Good Wife.  I went to bed early, because I'm always ready for bed by nine thirty.  Ha!

I was up early on Sunday, because Jonah and I needed to ride to church with Todd.  He arrives at eight, and I had to be there at eight thirty for praise team practice.  

[I'm doing that black and white photo challenge on social media, so this was my picture for the day as I was waiting to get started.]

After church, Toddley took me to McDonald's for a cheeseburger meal [I have such sophisticated food preferences], then we came home and he got dressed for work again.  I tried to take a nap, but my phone kept going off with text messages.  When you help lead youth, you'd be amazed at the amount of texting that takes place on a Sunday afternoon about activities for that night.  My nap didn't happen, then at three, I had to be back at church for our weekly praise team practice.  We meet at three, then the whole choir meets at four and it lasts until five thirty.

We had our first official full Christmas rehearsal.  I have been listening to this music for the past week via our planning center app that I have on my phone, and some of it is from last year, so these are songs I was familiar with already.  [Mostly.]

We left choir early because last night was our annual high school bonfire night, in lieu of community groups.

I love going out to Out To Pasture farm for this night.  Mr. Ronnie and Mrs. Sandy always are so kind to host this for the high school students, and I would say it's one of our favorite things to do as a youth group.  

The weather was PERFECTION.  

When a bonfire is actually needed for warmth, that is the perfect bonfire night.  We stayed until a little after seven thirty, then my ride [Missy, again] dropped me off at home.  I started a show, but ended up watching something else with Rachel until she needed to get home.  Then I went to bed.

It was a GREAT weekend!  It's going to be a great week, too.  My sister Terri is in town all week, and tonight, my family is coming over for dinner.  

Tomorrow night we'll be handing out candy with friends and eating hot dogs and rotel dip.  On the agenda for today is getting a nail repaired that tore last night, then going to Costco and Kroger for all my needed items for the week.  I need to make lists, first, though, and determine what to get where.  I don't always need huge quantities of things, so I'll probably get most of the items from Kroger, except for our protein drinks, toilet paper and coffee.  

I also need to clean and vacuum and do laundry.  Every day of my life, I need to do those things.

One last thing, and I'll be done.

Here is the scripture writing plan for November.  This is a great month to join in, if you want.  It's when I started, two years ago.  If you want more of an option, go over to swtblessings.com for a different plan.

Happy Monday, my friends!  Love to all.  

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends!  It's been another great week around here, and the weather has helped tremendously.  We have had some great fall days!  You know that fall is my very favorite season.

I'm linking up with Andrea [Momfessionals] and her friends for the writing of this post.

Last Saturday night when we went out to my mom's and step-dad's house for dinner, this was one of my favorite moments from the night.  I love their new pergola and the lights he hung when he was finished building it.  My step-dad is a really talented carpenter, and I am confident that he can do just about anything.  He was inspired by a show on decks that he watched, and decided to build this.  A pergola is NOT a covered porch.  It is partially covered, with spots left open for sunlight.  You would be amazed to see this in person, and to see how much bigger their back porch looks now.  I love it.  I'm also hoping for a repeat of this for this Saturday night.  The weather will be cool, and I'll like it even more this week because of that!

I love being in choir.  I've always been in a choir of some sort, for as long as I can remember.  I grew up singing in church, and I always entered into the school talent show when I was younger, and then I went from school choirs to church choirs.  Church choir is my favorite.  A traveling choir is even MORE my favorite.  This was a partial view of us during warm up last Sunday night.  We went to a sister church in Memphis, The Dwelling Place, and had a night of praise and worship.  It was AMAZING.  Amazing.  We went to minister, but instead, the Lord showed up and ministered to us.  It was an honor to be used by the Lord, and to sing praises to Him. 

I'm ready to do it again in a couple weeks.  :)

I pretend that I don't love her, but really, I do.  This is Callie, our two year old pup, and I always say about her that she's broken.  She kinda is, truthfully, but she is absolutely precious.  She does drive me nuts, with her pacing about the house, but really, she is a good dog.  My favorite is when she curls up on the couch and falls asleep.  :)  She's a little lady, and almost always has her legs crossed like this, or she'll lay with one paw tucked under.  We used to think something was wrong with it, but it turns out that is just something German Shepherds do.  Who would have known?

Sometimes, she forgets that she's not a lap dog.  Or that she is supposed to be a guard dog, instead, crying and whimpering any time the doorbell rings.

I wrote about this earlier in the week, so to read the full post, scroll down a few, but this was my favorite night of dinner.  It was when we had a couple extra, and I didn't think we'd have enough, so I asked the Lord to make it be enough.  And He did exactly that!  I always say that the Lord hears when we pray, and He always answers in some way or another.  It may not be the way we pray, but He always shows up.

He is so very good!

Sunsets and skies are my favorite. 

This is one of my very favorite memories!  This was six years ago, when a friend gave us six tickets to see the Fab Five [the women's Olympics gymnastics team] at the FedEx Forum.  We surprised the boys with this night out, and this was them when they found out why we were there.

I love their excitement!

Yesterday, Jonah and I were doing some de-cluttering and cleaning in the garage, and I came across this gem.  This was the sign my family had hung in the garage when we moved into the house we currently live in.  For the full post, hop over to Instagram and follow me.  [allfiveboys]

Aside from the day I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life, when I got married, and the days I had a baby or babies, this was my favorite and best day ever. 

This is Drew, my middlest son, dressed as Buddy the Elf for WayBack Wednesday in the youth this week.  This is my favorite costume ever, of all time.  He is perfectly natural as Buddy, and people tell him all the time how much he resembles Will Ferrell. 

It's been quite the week. 

Thanks for reading my blog!  I hope your weekend is great.  Love to all! 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

trick or treating, and Halloween traditions

How we "do" Halloween nowadays looks a lot different than what it used to.  First, my kids are all older now, and not all of them trick or treat.  Teenagers trick or treating is such a controversial topic on our town's watch page on Facebook.  Personally, I don't mind giving out candy to ANY kid or teenager.  There are bigger things to worry about.

When they were all really little, we always went to my sister Lisa's house.  They were all in the toddler phase and lower elementary grades when we would do that.  Lisa would always have a big bash, because our family loves Halloween and it was also her dad's birthday.  One of my favorite memories is one year when she bought her dad a black birthday cake.  Jerry loved Halloween, too.  She went to transfer it from one area of the kitchen to another, and she dropped THE ENTIRE cake all over her beautifully tiled floor.  I think it took months to get all that black icing up.

Then her kids grew up and started doing their own thing and mine wanted to stay in our own neighborhood, so we started having our family over to our house.  It was anyone that wanted to come, basically, from my side and from Todd's side as well.  All the grands loved seeing their grandkids trick or treat.  I would make a huge pot of soup, we would eat, then Jerry would pass out the Halloween candy.  He always made our night entertaining and more fun.  Todd and I, along with Big Daddy and Mimi, usually, would take the boys trick or treating.

Jerry died five years ago, and not a Halloween goes by that I don't think of him.  I'm glad my kids got to know him, and that he was able to enjoy their childhood and watching them dress up.  He used to love to scare them by taking his dentures out in front of them.  I cannot type that sentence without chuckling.  We all loved Jerry so much.

Also, it was on that type of night (Halloween) when Jonah and Noah were in kindergarten, when I first made this soup.

[Chicken tortilla.]

Then we started going to our church that we still attend, and they always had a Fall Festival.  Graham and Drew were always on the puppet team, and while Jonah and Noah would run around and play games, Graham and Drew would perform, then enjoy some of the games, as well.  The church always supplied us with dinner~hot dogs and chili.  The fest only lasted from 5:30-7:30, so then they would come home and trick or treat on a few streets nearby.  All the grandparents always came with us to the Fall Festival, and it was there one year, that my mom-in-love fell during a rousing game of Cake Walk and injured herself.  [I am so sorry, Phyllis, but I also chuckled when I wrote that sentence.]

Now that they're all teenagers, they don't all go trick or treating.  Jonah and Noah usually go still, but this year, I don't think any of them are.  I told them I would just buy them a bag of good candy and they could eat it.  [This is all very likely to change, by the way.]  Our Fall Fest at church is happening on the night before Halloween this year, so that our church family can stay in their own yards and build relationships with their neighbors.  I love that they encourage that.  We have been doing that for years, ever since we had Andy, who was traumatized by the doorbell and strange people on our front porch.  We started taking our chairs out to the driveway with the bowl of candy, and that way the dogs wouldn't go nuts, once we added Crash to our mix.

This is about all the dressing up I can get them to do, and it's always for Way Back Wednesday in youth.

Most likely we will eat hot dogs and Rotel [and maybe some chili] this year and let the boys do their thing, whatever that may be.  I would love to pull out the fire pit and sit around it this year, too, while we hand out candy. 

[Also, how perfectly natural is Drew, as Buddy the Elf?  Thanks to my friend's hubby Jason, for letting him borrow his costume!  Noah and his friends went as Alvin and the Chipmunks.] 

Jonah didn't want to dress up. 

Things may look differently, but we always have a fun night.  For the last two years, Missy and her husband have come over to hang out with us, and she and I are always the ones outside handing out the candy.  This year, I think we'll all be out there.  :)  Also, I have a feeling their friends will be here, as well.  The more, the merrier.

What does your family do?  I would love to hear! 

Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

what I love on Wednesday

Happy Wednesday!  I am LOVING this fall weather that we finally have this week.  Fall is my favorite season, and I love being able to wear long sleeves, or sweaters, without getting hot.  For now, it's fine, but once winter hits, I can no longer wear sweaters or even long sleeves, sometimes.  Places here turn the heat way up when it gets cold, and I end up being so hot that I get sick.  For now, I'm embracing the fact that I can wear such things.

Here are some other things I am loving on this beautiful [mid]week day.

My current nail color.  I love black in the fall and winter months, and was inspired by a friend at church last week to do the same.  I wear a lot of black, sometimes for my entire outfit on Sunday because of singing on the praise team [when we all have to either match or coordinate], so it's practical.  You can only get away with dark colors like this if your nails are shorter.  If they're too long, you'll end up looking like the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz.

This color is a gel color, but it's Black Onyx by OPI.

Monday night, when we were all at home, was glorious.  I had plans that got canceled, and though there was something else I could have gone to at our church [a girls ministry leaders meeting], I skipped it and stayed home.  Our weekend was busy and all disjointed, so it was good to be home together for maybe the only night this week.  Such is our life right now, so I try to go with it.  This was the night I made one of their favorite meals and I prayed over the food, asking the Lord to multiply it.  After dinner while Todd was catching up to me on episodes of The Good Wife, I drank this coffee and started a new book.  It is never too early to wear Christmas pajama pants or drink from a Christmas mug.  I love this mug, because it reminds me of my sisters!  I bought it in Colorado, when we drove up the mountain to North Pole, back in July. 

This was an insert that was in our church bulletin this past Sunday, and I was immediately filled with gratitude of belonging to a body of believers such as the one I go to every single week.  I love our church family so very much, and our pastor is such a good shepherd of the flock that God has given him.  I love that they changed our annual Fall festival to the night before Halloween, so that we can be at home on Halloween night to make and build relationships in our neighborhoods within the community. 

I love that outward focus.  I love that events are created to reach out to the surrounding neighborhoods that are close by our church building, and I love that food is so often incorporated.  There is something so special about breaking bread together and sitting around a table, and quite honestly, it was an event like this that brought our family to where we now attend for services.  The motto of my friend Austin, who at that time was the children's pastor, was that if you could reach the kids, you could reach the entire family.  And it worked!  I say that like it was something Austin himself did, but that's not true.  God already had it in the works for my family to start attending here, but He definitely used Austin in His plan, along with a couple of really great friends.  I love how God works! 

Speaking of the Lord, check out this beautiful sunset He gave me to enjoy while I was driving to a meeting last night.

The meeting was at a huge church in Memphis, so I had about thirty minutes of driving and gazing at the gorgeous sky.  I love nights like this.  My friend Andrea and I were texting back and forth yesterday afternoon, about how magnificent God's creation is, and how He designed it to bring Him glory.  She sent me a picture of their camping trip from last weekend, and that was what got it started.  And the picture was so beautiful, that it brought tears to my eyes.  [If you know me AT ALL, you know that tears are practically ever present in my eyes.  Which is why I never wear mascara on my bottom eyelashes, because who wants to see black streaks on my face constantly?]  Anyway.  Those tears led to more, and also I was listening to the Travis Cottrell version of Holy Spirit [You Are Welcome Here] while getting dressed to go to Drew's senior year meeting, and all of a sudden, I had a situation on my hands and discovered that it is impossible to put on mascara while also crying.  For a few minutes, I couldn't stop the flow and had to just get it out, before I could finally finish my makeup. 

I blame it all on Andrea. 

And yes, I told her that.

The tears finally stopped, and you'll be glad to know that I never cried again about the fact that ANOTHER son of mine is graduating this year.

I came across this verse in Psalm that I love, that goes along with the picture above. 

All the earth will worship You and sing praise to You.  They will sing praise to Your name.

[Psalm 66:4] 

I don't know about you, and where you are in your walk with the Lord, but I cannot stop myself from always singing praise to Him.  I see Him everywhere.  In the sky, in nature that is all around me, I hear Him in music [not literally, but He definitely ministers to me through music], I feel Him close by during quiet and reverent nights when I am seeking His presence.  When we seek Him is where we find Him, and that can be anywhere.  If you have never actively sought out His presence, pray that He will help you to feel Him.  I always pray that before I go to worship Him during a church service on Sunday, or if I am in my kitchen spending time with Him.  I almost always use music as part of my quiet time.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, but that is something you want to experience, comment here or email me.  [allboys@gmail.com]  I certainly do not know the answer to everything, or even many things, but I know how to seek out the Lord.  I would be glad to help you do the same.

One side note: on Sunday night, we had a praise and worship night at a sister church in Memphis.  I prayed for us to experience His presence that night, as I know many of the choir and orchestra people that were also there did, and He showed up.  The bible says that where two or three are gathered in His name, that He is there also [Matthew 18:20], and there were way more than two or three of us.  I could feel His presence tangibly, and I was so caught up in the worship, that I totally forgot we were there to minister as a choir and orchestra.  Instead, He ministered to us, and then through us. 

I love nights like that.  Our worship pastor prayed that we would drive home spent, having emptied ourselves in worshiping Him, and I would say that is definitely what happened.  I came home exhausted and sore, which is crazy, because all I did was sing, but it's as if my whole body had gone through rigorous exercise.  I was still sore the next day. 

I'll end on that note, friends.  I could go on all day about this, about the goodness and kindness of the Lord, but I'll stop.  I pray your day is great.  Love to all. 

P.s.  I love these verses and want you to read them, and think on the act of worship, and challenge yourself the next time you worship Him.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him.

He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.  

He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.

For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross--whether things on earth or things in heaven.  

Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions.  

But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him--if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard.  

[Colossians 1:1-23] 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

what's for dinner this week

I wrote this type of post last week, and it was a hit, so I decided to do another one.  Who doesn't ever need dinner inspiration?!  I know I always do, and maybe this will motivate you to make dinner for your people tonight. 

First up on the list is the cornbread I posted a before picture of last week.  I had a few inquiries about the recipe, and though I never use measuring instruments when making this, I will try my best to write it out. 

You will need a muffin pan.  Before you start mixing all this together, put a tablespoon of Crisco into each muffin slot.  Put that to the side, and when the cornbread is all mixed together, you will put that pan into a 425 degree oven and stand right there with it.  All you want to do is get the Crisco nice and hot, without burning it, so do not leave it unattended!  This takes one or two minutes.  This step achieves the crunch that is so good in cornbread.  You'll hear a sizzle as you pour, and that is exactly what you want.

Mix together:

2 cups of Martha White self-rising corn meal (make sure it's white and not yellow, the yellow is sweeter)

3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1 tsp of salt

1 egg

milk ~~ I can't say for sure how much of this you will need, but let's start with a cup.  As you mix this together, you will see how thick it can be.  I like the consistency of the batter to be like that of pancake batter that is not thin.  (Does that make any sense?)  It needs to be pour-able, but not thin and watery.  You can add more milk as needed, so go slow with this step, and determine how much more you need as you stir or whisk.

You will pour all this into that hot Crisco and bake at 425 degrees for about ten or fifteen minutes, or until golden brown.  It depends on your oven, but last week, mine was done in twelve minutes.  I made jalapeno cheddar cornbread last week and I did all the same steps as above, but into each muffin slot that held the cornbread batter, I added some cheddar cheese and four jalapeno slices from a jar.  It stuck to my pan, though, so, beware.  It wasn't pretty, but it was AMAZING.

I'll be making this again this week when we have Cajun 15 bean soup one night.  (That is probably going to be Thursday night's dinner.  I'll also add some smoked sausage to this, because not all my people love bean soup.)  This is a bag of dried beans that I buy at the grocery store, and I follow all the instructions on the back.  (Debi~you should try this!  It's not hard.)  About the dried beans, it's easiest if you do an overnight soak of the beans.  The instructions are on the bag for this as well, or there is a quick version, in case you forget like I did last Wednesday.  It worked just fine.

Last night we had an all-time favorite of my boys: chicken/ritz/poppy seed casserole, Sister Shubert's yeast rolls out of the freezer section, and Italian style green beans that are the Allan brand.  I add a tbsp of butter to my canned green beans and cook them low and slow for almost an hour.  That eliminates the tin taste from the can.  

The casserole is easy.  I used a rotisserie chicken, one large can of cream of chicken soup, one large container of sour cream and a couple of tbsp of poppy seeds.  I mix all that together into a 9x13 dish, then top with two sleeves of crumbled Ritz crackers.  I cut up little chunks of one stick butter and place those pieces on top of the Ritz crackers and bake it at 350 for thirty minutes.

Tonight we're having an epic version of broccoli cheese soup that is from Edie Wadsworth over at Life In Grace.  Click HERE for that recipe.  My advice for this recipe is to double it, AND DO NOT SKIP THE NUTMEG.  It heightens all the flavors of the soup and makes it the best you'll ever eat.  People ask me to make this all the time, and it is Noah's all time favorite thing of all the things I make.  So tonight is for him.  

About dinner last night, when I started making the plans to make this casserole for dinner, I thought it would be either just the six of us, or five of us.  Most nights, Graham goes to Rachel's house nowadays.  Imagine my surprise when we gained one more person for dinner, and then a couple hours later, another teenager joined.  So, we had TWO extra teenagers, and this is one of my boys favorite things I make, which means, there is hardly ever any leftover.  It's enough to feed us, but not really enough for extra.  But when one of their friends came in and asked what was for dinner, and when I told him, looked like a puppy dog with his big brown eyes, you invite said teenager to stay and eat.

So, this was our stack of dinner plates and forks from last night.  Right after I placed these here, I prayed over our food before it was ready, asking the Lord either to multiply it, which would be ideal, or to at least make it ENOUGH for all of us.  And, guess what?  The Lord is so gracious, as always, and He made it just enough.  (I did have the idea to serve it with rice, to stretch it a little more.)  I am so grateful that there is nothing too small or too big for Jesus.  He always hears when we pray, and I know He answered this plea of mine.  Because who wants to send away teenagers that are still hungry?!  Not me. 

I am happiest when our home and table is full.  I love having extras for dinner, and I am usually prepared to feed an army, thanks to raising all these boys.      

Happy Tuesday, and thanks for reading.  Love to all.  

Monday, October 23, 2017

the weekend

This weekend went by so quickly!  I think every second of it was planned out, to some extent, and I only saw my family in shifts.  The only time we were all together was Friday night, when we ate dinner at Zaxby's.  After dinner, Drew's friend came to pick him up, and they hung out together the rest of the night.  Graham, Rachel, Jonah, Noah, Todd and myself all went to Bass Pro.  Todd was on the lookout for a new pair of boots, but even after visiting that one and the other one in Memphis, he wasn't able to find a pair that he liked. 

After the second trip to Bass Pro, Graham treated us all to ice cream at Sheridan's Custard. 

It was a fun night.

The next morning, Todd, Graham and Drew all left at eight thirty to go spend the day working an event in Memphis.  They were gone all day long, and returned Sunday morning at two something.  I went and visited a friend in the hospital who had just had a baby with Missy, then came back home to finish watching a movie with Rachel.  She and Graham had gone to breakfast that morning, and instead of going back home, she came here to hang out until she went to work later that afternoon.  While they were gone, Jonah, Noah, and their friend Weston and I went out to my mom's and stepdad's house.  We ate dinner, the boys tossed around a lacrosse ball, and when it got dark outside, Bill turned on the lights on their new pergola.

It's so magical!  Bill built this himself, and it is so beautiful.  The lights add an extra special feeling of ambiance.  They even can be switched to different colors!  It was a fun night.  When it was dark enough, the boys played hide and go seek. 

I love nights like that, when the weather is cool, and the boys are all running around, being boys.  I know I've said it before, but time really does fly, and my boys are growing up like weeds, right before my eyes.  I miss the days of their younger years, when they were always playing outside with the neighborhood kiddos.  We used to have to force them to come back inside, most days!  I certainly miss all the backyard stuff too, when there would be ten boys out there, on the trampoline or the swing set.

When we got back home, the three boys headed upstairs, and I settled in to watch a couple episodes of The Good Wife.  My husband will catch up with me, eventually.  I'm a few episodes ahead of him.

Yesterday morning was church, then I came home alone afterward.  Todd and the rest of the tech team loaded up some equipment to take to a sister church of ours in Memphis, The Dwelling Place, for a night of praise and worship we were having that night.  They had lunch, then went to the church in Memphis to start setting things up.  The service was AMAZING.  I love singing praises to Jesus, and the night passed by so fast.

(This was during warm-up.)  It is so much fun to travel together as a choir, and I hope we have the chance to do it again someday. 

I was home and eating a snack by eight thirty, and when I went to bed, I crashed.  Singing wears me out!  All my people ended up back home at some point, and I'm pretty sure they all fell asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow.  I remember talking to Todd, but my head hurt so bad that it hurt to talk too much. 

Today I am spending the day recovering, and putting my house back in order.  I have a small mountain of laundry to catch up on, and at some point, I need to leave the house to go grocery shopping.  It's a busy week again, with lots on the calendar. 

Thanks for reading!  Happy Monday to you.  Love to all! 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, Friends!  It's my favorite week day, the weather is nice, and the possibilities for the weekend are endless.  I love this day of the week! 

I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals, and her friends, for this blog post. 

Here are some favorite moments/actual things from this week. 

This first one is one that I meant to share on yesterday's blog post, but I forgot.  It's something I found on Wednesday night, and I could have written every word of it myself.  I didn't though.  Rachel Martin wrote it, over at Finding Joy.  She is someone whose blog I have read for a long time, and she has really had a rough go at life in these recent years.  I loved what she had to say about the year she turned forty, and because I'm forty, I could relate to every word.  Click HERE to read the post.  People who are honest, open, and completely vulnerable are my favorite. 

Okay, on to the other part of this blog post.

Monday night was my favorite night of dinner this week.  We had chicken tortilla post, and if you want the recipe, scroll down a few posts.  It's under a dinner related title.  I think it was Todd's favorite, too.   And Drew's.  By the next night, the contents of this giant Dutch oven had been completely consumed. 

Also, this Dutch oven is one of my favorite kitchen things.  My mom bought it for me as a gift, while I was recovering from my hysterectomy a few years ago.  Kitchen things are ALWAYS better than mere flowers.  I couldn't wait to recover, just so I could use this thing.  I also use it all the time.  I've used it three times, this week alone.  It's also been a camping pot, and has been put over a camp stove.  It's heavy, but I love it so much.

Forgive the weird size, but this kid of mine.  Oh wow.  He is one of my favorites.  ;)  He gave me permission to send this to Marissa in a Snapchat on Monday night.  (Tuesday, maybe?)  He didn't know I took a screen shot of it, though.  On Monday, he cleaned out the pantry for me.

I love him.  Then the next night, he cleaned the garage.  He is awesome and will do anything for me, or for money.  Ha!

Toddley is also my favorite.  He's my number one, after Jesus.  This was a couple of weeks ago, and he had no idea I took a screen shot of this Snapchat either.  I love him.  On Wednesday night, we sat at the kitchen table for a good solid hour, talking about some things we really needed to discuss, parenting and college things.  We had a misunderstanding that day, and we talked about that too.  I cannot say enough that I would never want to be married to anyone other than this man.  He is the hardest working, smartest man I know, and he is the greatest dad ever. 

Saturday night, last weekend, at my dad's, was one of my favorite nights of the week.  This was Drew and Noah playing an old game they used to love to play at his house. 

This made me burst out in laughter when I saw it this week, and I immediately texted it to Missy.  For me, it's not the Sunday afternoon nap that is long, because I have choir practice every Sunday, but it's the post D-Now Sunday afternoon nap that makes me like this.  One of my first favorite friend moments with Missy was when we were at a camp two years ago in North Carolina.  We would walk to dinner each night together, and I called her on this particular day and asked if she was ready.  She said yes, but then she asked, "For what?"  I had woken her up from a very long nap, and she forgot where she was, and what day it was.  I still laugh thinking about it.  That was the year that Student Life tried to kill us all by making us walk all over the mountainous campground.  It was beautiful, but it was BRUTAL.  The next year we vowed to have a car.  Good times, good times. 

We all know that fingernail polishes are my favorite.  This is a new color that I want to get the next time I get my nails done.  :)  I love fun, fall colors. 

Thanks for reading my blog!  I hope your weekend is fabulous.  Love to all! 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

things that make me happy

Yesterday's post was long and detailed.  Today's will be short and sweet.  Here are some random things I've loved this week.

I LOVE the cool weather!  I keep getting mad at the meteorologist on our local news, because she keeps saying, "It's really warming up out there now!", like that's a good thing.  It's FALL.  I want all the fall temperatures. 

Along with fall, I love being able to wear long sleeves without suffocating.  Have I mentioned I love fall?

I love fall colored nail polish.

I love any excuse to wear dark fingernail polishes.  This one is Feel the Chemis-Tree by OPI.  The other one I love that's newer is Less is Norse.  It's a dark grayish navy blue.  One of my best friends and I *might* text pictures of our nails back and forth to each other all the time.

I always love Timehop, but I really love it this week!  I've been reliving our anniversary/birthday trip to NYC last year.

This day was the best day ever!  We woke early to leave Rhode Island to go into the city for the remainder of our trip.  You should have seen us struggling with getting our luggage up all the subway tunnel stairs and then walking to our hotel.  We looked hilarious, I'm fairly certain.  When we left the hotel for lunch, we ended up at Carnegie Deli.  I'm so glad we did that, because now it's closed.  We had the best lunch.  Then we walked all around, seeing Top of the Rock and the NBC building and underground mall, and eventually ended our day in Central Park.  I loved being in the park, and sitting and people watching with my hubby!  It was so sweet and romantic.  That was also the day I fell asleep with my head straight up on the subway back to the hotel.  We were BEAT.  We ordered take out and had it delivered that night, and I'm pretty sure I was dead to the world by eight thirty.

I want to go back now.

Last week I was reliving this camping trip we took two years ago with a bunch of teenage girls.  And then I did a little collage and texted this to Missy, because half the time, I feel like we are Lucy and Ethel.

Oh, the memories.

I'm also loving tv right now.  The shows I love are This Is Us, The Good Doctor, and recently I started watching The Good Wife, and drug my husband into that one with me.  I was watching it the other night with him not paying much attention, and before I knew it, he wanted to start over and get the full story.  So he did, and now we're both hooked.  It's so good!  I don't know why I waited this long to watch it, I've been hearing about it for years. 

Well, speaking of Toddley, I need to get them out the door and get dressed.  Thanks for reading!  Love to all. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

tips and tricks on organizing, and keeping things picked up around the house

I thought I would write a post that's actually useful.  I've had a few people mention lately that my house always looks so clean, and then I've seen a couple of posts on Facebook asking for tricks, and so this idea was born.

I need to preface this post with a couple of things first.  First, I don't work outside of my home.  Because I have all the time in the world, and because I spend most of my days here, I take the time to do these things consistently.  Second, my house does always appear to be clean, but don't inspect it too closely.  I am great at keeping the furniture dusted once a week, but we have two dogs and one cat, and their hair is all over the place.  I am not great at dusting off shelves, baseboards, and the tops of furniture pieces.

That being said, I thought I'd walk you through how I keep things like this, and the way my brain works with this whole organization topic.

It starts when I go to bed every night.

(This is EXACTLY what it looks like when I go to bed each night.)

I always make sure and go to bed with a clean kitchen.  I've put all the dishes into the dishwasher, and both sides of my sink are clean.  (I got the clean sink idea from Fly Lady.)  The dishwasher is turned on, the coffee is preset to start brewing at six, the counters and all the surfaces are tidy and wiped clean.  I include wiping off the surfaces, because it doesn't feel clean to me if the surface tops are dirty or cluttered.  (This is just how my brain works, and how Mom raised me, y'all, I know everyone doesn't do these things, and that's fine.  Whatever works best for your family is how things should be.)  Two times each week, I take a towel and a bottle of 409, and I clean the counters.  I move everything off, and clean every inch.  I also clean the tops of things like the coffee maker and the stove when I do this.  I hate a dirty stovetop!  Mine is a smooth top, so it can easily be seen when it's dirty.  I do this more than two times a week sometimes, like when I make something with chicken.  I try to keep things clean, but I also like them sanitary.

The next morning when I come downstairs, I let the dogs out, and I straighten things up in the living room while they're eating their food.  I fluff the pillows, I fold and put away all the blankets, I take any leftover dishes that were missed into the kitchen.  Eventually, the dishwasher gets emptied (usually around nine thirty or ten).  I make lunches and coffee in to go containers for my husband and my oldest son, and once they're gone, I sit down at the computer and read/write blogs.

I'll add this here: when my kids were little and their toys were all over the place, every single night before they went to bed, they were taught to clean up.  We sang the Barney "clean up" song every single time, and this included me helping them at first, in order to teach them.  I have always had lots of boxes and baskets lying around the house, so that all of their toys would have a place to go.  When the car rug was out, we had dish buckets that they used to hold all their little hot wheels cars.  They stayed out on that rug 24/7, because that is about how often all my kids ended up playing with them.  Their books have always had shelves to sit on, and at one time, there was toy box downstairs behind the couch, so they could be put away each night.  This saved my sanity, because who wants to be overrun with toys?!  Not me.  They also cleaned up their rooms each night, but that took work on my end.  I kept their closet cleaned out and organized, so that everything had a spot to go.  When it became too full, we would go through and clean out the toys.  Some were donated, some were put into the attic, but we rotated the toys often.  I had a rule on this: for every new thing that came in to their room, one thing needed to be put in the attic.  They did not mind this at all, trust me, they still had a TON of toys.

Another thing I do is that I try my best to avoid clutter.  I love cute things, y'all, but I don't need or want a lot of knick knacks (dust catchers, my stepmom calls them) lying around.  The more that lays around, the more you have to clean.  I also try to keep paperwork put away (this is an EVERYDAY battle, because life and bills) and I try to keep my kitchen drawers and cabinets cleaned out.  For mail, I have two cute boxes sitting on my counter in the kitchen.  One is tall and one is short, but ALL the mail goes in there.  Toddley clears it out when I ask him, which is about every six weeks.  Junk mails gets tossed immediately, and things that are paid off get shredded.  Sometimes things get put away into cabinets, so I try to have space for those things.  I have one whole cabinet in the kitchen that is designated for this kind of thing.

I also try to keep our pantry cleaned out, but I have these four teenagers who live here, so it's more complicated than it sounds.  Which leads to this picture:

Yesterday, Jonah cleaned out the pantry for me.  We have a good sized pantry, but just because we have the room doesn't necessarily mean that I keep it filled up.  Except for when the Christmas season is here, and everyone gives me tons of food because I have teenagers, I try not to overbuy grocery items.  That means I use what I buy.  We have the luxury of living two minutes from the grocery store, so I go often.  Sometimes three times a week.  I don't have eight boxes of chicken stock in my pantry.  I do, however, have thirty bottles of Sweet Baby Ray's sauces.  They were given to my husband, we did not buy all these!  If you need some, let me know.  Ha!

I even try to keep things organized in the pantry.  This means it gets cleaned out a lot and rearranged, because of those boys I mentioned.  Baking things on one shelf, breakfast items on another, chips and such on the bottom.

As far as cleaning goes, I dust at least one time every week, sometimes more.  I like for things to be cleaned on Monday and Friday.  I love starting and ending the week with a nice, clean house.  I clean the kitchen constantly.  If we eat dinner here, the stove is cleaned every night.  If we eat at the table, it gets wiped off every night.  Especially because that's where I sit to have quiet time.

I don't want crumbs underneath my bible and journal as I use them each time.  I think this was taken at night, because there are no cups on the edge of the counter, which is where the cups sit most of the time.  Sometimes they're taken upstairs or to the living room, and then they're brought back before we go to bed.  Sometimes the cups stay upstairs for a week, and the dad threatens to treat them like they're all four again, and forbid them to take food or beverage upstairs.

We have a half bath downstairs that stays clean.  When I wash my hands in there, I get water on my hands, and wipe off the whole counter.  Then I wash my hands, dry them, and then dry the counters.  Because of boys, the toilet gets cleaned often as well.  (To make this easier for myself, I keep Lysol wipes in the cabinet.)  The floor gets wiped down really well (also with those Lysol wipes), and things are kept pretty tidy under that bathroom cabinet.  Extra toilet paper is in there, and clean hand towels.  It's actually junky right now, and I'm thinking it'll get straightened out today at some point.

I do that same thing in my bathroom.  The surfaces get cleaned all the time, mostly because we have a cat that I mentioned, whose food the dogs would love to eat.  So her food stays on my bathroom countertop.  Which means that countertop gets cleaned off with Lysol or 409 all. the. time.  I try to keep things tidy in there, as well, and put away.

Our bedroom stays neat, as well.  I make the bed almost every single day (except for sometimes on Sunday), and I try to keep things dusted off and put away.  The dresser is where Todd empties his pockets, so it's a little more filled with clutter, but occasionally, it is all put away and gets a good cleaning.  Most of the time, I ignore it.  He needs to know where his receipts are.  We have a cedar chest at the end of our bed that also becomes a catch all, so it gets decluttered all the time.  I have a million books in this house, it seems, so I have to put them away, and I put away the laundry that will get put there.

The floors stay pretty clean.  Well, hair-free.  I don't mop a ton, because I hate all the mops we own.  I need to fix that.  The downstairs gets vacuumed everyday.  Sometimes with my Dyson vacuum, sometimes with the Roomba.  It's not always perfect, but if the dog hair is mostly gone, I'm happy.  That Roomba was one of the best things my husband ever bought.  It was pricey, but it saves my sanity over the hair that Callie sheds.  Who knew German Shepherds would shed so much?!

The laundry is done daily.  I have figured out that if I do one complete load of laundry every single day, it will not overwhelm me.  The boys can all do their own laundry, but I just throw it all in there together and wash it at one time.  I don't usually separate the colors either, unless there's a new red shirt.  I wash all the colors and whites together, on cool.  Sheets and towels are washed separately in hot water.  I don't like to iron, so all the laundry gets folded right away, except for when I forget, like I did last night.  I love neat piles of folded clothes, and I love to fold.  I blame it on the days when I worked at Eddie Bauer Home, and my job was folding towels.  I seriously love folding clothes.  Most of the time.  The boys usually help me with this, but sometimes I do it while they're doing school work.   

The goal here is not perfection.  I have too many boys in this house for that.  I have found what I can live with, and I let go things that don't drive me nuts, like Jonah's basketball on the table.  I think my house is a welcome mix of tidy and lived in.  People always compliment me on it being so inviting, and I think it's that mix that make people say that.  It is certainly not my cleaning abilities.  

One last thing, and I'll wrap this up.  That is that lately I have been taking one area and cleaning it out each week.  It started in my laundry room.  I cleaned out the cabinets a few weeks ago, and I have been able to keep them and the surfaces of the washer and dryer clean!  That is huge.  Usually the top of the dryer becomes the catch all.  Yesterday it was the pantry and this coffee cabinet.

It was really dirty.  I took everything out and washed it all off, then put it back.  I threw away a bunch of old coffee, too.  This is the cabinet by my coffee pot.  It's where the boys make their chocolate milk each day, so the syrup stays there too.  I don't know why the honey and the cinnamon sugar container are there, but I left them.  I'll probably move them when I'm done with this.  Ha!  

A few weeks before that my closet got cleaned out.  The boys are always in and out of our closet and things get messed up often.  Helping it stay clean is the fact that we don't have a ton of clothes and shoes.  We wear everything we own, and all of our clothes (summer and winter) fit in our closet.  Neither one of us care much about trends and new things, so we have a pretty minimal wardrobe, and buy things to last for years.  If we've had something that hasn't been worn in more than a year, it gets donated.  We are not at all attached to things or clothes.  Sometimes that is great, other times it's really bad.  I will not be taking any of this "stuff" into heaven with me, so I live by that. Things that matter to me are pictures, memories I've written in my journals, bibles, the occasional piece of furniture, and sometimes books that people give me.  

The bathroom cabinets were also cleaned out, and have stayed clean as well.  Prompting me to do this is the fact that we are tossing around the idea of moving soon, and I'm trying to prepare in advance for the arduous task of packing up a house full of stuff.  Jonah cleaned the garage last night, or got a huge start, at least.  All those shelves need to be purged.  And the attic too, but that's a whole other post.  It is really, really bad. 

If you don't know where to start in order to start living simply and (slightly) minimally, pick one room that you're in all the time, and just start.  Go from top to bottom around the room, cleaning, and purging.  It might take a whole day in one room, but at least you'll have started.  I aim for one area a week, and if more gets done than that, I consider it a bonus.  If you start with a smaller area, it motivates you to keep going, so I recommend that.  Start small and work your way up.

I hope this inspires you to jump in and get started in your own home!  Thanks for reading this longer than was intended post.  Love to all.  

Friday Favorites, 7.12.2024.

  Hi, friends! As you can tell, I'm forcing myself to be here often, because my life needs to resume some sort of normalcy right now; th...