April 23, 2015



Spring is here, the sun shines more often than not.  Sunlight glows through new leaf buds.  Spiders are happily making strands from branch to branch.  Chickens are happily escaping their run.  We all rejoice with the sunshine!


Matching dresses + happy conversation + spring air = the best kind of bliss.

Projects inspired and begun at dusk.  Creativity and resourcefulness abounds.  Mud patties and outside tea parties coming right up. (This is the beginning for a table for their outside play house).

No one is happier than this girl.  Electrified hair and all.  The trampoline is her favorite place to be.  One of her recent tricks is to steal anyone's shoes (even Mama's nice church shoes) to make her way to the trampoline.

Boys.  That is all.

Thankfully, it is still Easter.  We were in church last Sunday and I looked up at the Paschal candle and remembered that I had bought this kit and then forgot about it!  Whoops!  We finally assembled it yesterday and it was harder than I thought.  That recommended age of 10 is pretty accurate.

 The finished product is pretty though and we are looking forward to lighting it!

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April 21, 2015

Zoo fun.

Yesterday started off gloomy and blustery and disappointing, especially after some beautiful weather on Saturday.  We were all at a loss for what to do with ourselves inside again when we'd found so much to do outside.  I was getting a shower and had the thought that if we stayed at home, we would just be bumps on logs all day.  Oh what to do with ourselves?  In the wind and showers of rain?

Yeah, lets go to the zoo.  So we packed up some lunches and we went!  Which, is nothing short of a miracle.  Seriously.  We have been so busy and I don't like to be so busy.  Not much time for anything spontaneous.  I feel pretty proud of us that we made it out of the door in an hour.

 Except some of us didn't think to bring our coats.  And even wore shorts and short sleeves!  But! But!  The sun came out!  The zoo felt a little more sheltered than at home and not as blustery.  Plus, I think all that pavement puts off a little heat.  Sure, sure it does.  The best picture of the crew of the day.

I love this photo--holding hands as they approach that peacock together! 
I just can't get over her pony tail in this one! 
Turtle races. 
Feed a giraffe.
Touch a snake. 
Be in awe over the train.  Even the second time around!

I asked Nathan to take a photo with me in it.  This was the best.  Um, Patrick?  You okay??

The Peacock is once again competing for attention like last year.

I'm really glad we jumped in the car and went.  What would be my favorite time to go to the zoo? When no one else is there!  Just ask my kids, I love the quick trips at 3 pm when everyone else has gone home for dinner or getting up and being the first one there.  Taking a chance on the weather sometimes pays off in no lines for anything, especially the train.

April 16, 2015

{PHFR}: It's Spring!


An unusual bird laid these eggs and they blended in so perfectly with the rocks, even if placed very impractically alongside our private drive.  Mama bird has since abandoned them which is a shame.

A girl, a dog and a little red wagon.  What could be better?  Her muddy knees tickle me to death!



Spring brings kite flying! The kids love being able to put those Easter trinkets to good use.

  Oldest and youngest.  They make a cute pair.
 Two youngest.  Looking just like each other in their poses and sweet smiles.
 My sweet boy loves to present me with a bouquet of wild "flowers."  I love the sentiment.

She's ready for the next challenge--mud puddle, rock throwing, flower collecting--she's in.

Nothing better than a puddle and some rocks to throw in it!

Totally unrelated to the rest of this post...throwback to June 2001 at Cumberland Falls.  I have this one labeled as "family photo" which is really weird to think of us just as a little family of three.  So long ago.  And my husband totally looks 15, lol!  Nathan is somewhere around 6 months here and hey. look at that...I'm wearing a watch!

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April 15, 2015

5 Faves.

I've been on a housecleaning and reorganizing binge so I thought I would share my 5 Faves this week.  Something for your house, something for you to keep going with Spring cleaning!

Ziploc Space Bag 12 Vacuum Seal Bags Super Value Pack

Seriously, why oh why has no one expounded upon the beauty these bags to me before?  A bag that makes more space?  Yes, please!!

Let me illustrate.

In the top image, we have 14 pairs of snow pants.  Yes, 14.  Yes, I know there are only 9 of us!  All the sizes...all the sizes! I digress.  Bottom photo there are still 14 pairs of snow pants with all the air sucked out.  Notice the top one the bag is up to the top of the second rung of the chair.  Bottom photo--half the size.  Don't make me get out my bin of hats and gloves in order to thoroughly impress you!!  ;)

Also, don't pay that price on Amazon.  Find yourself a Dollar General...  I also think Sams Club might have a cheaper club pack.


Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Dish Soap--Honeysuckle Scent.

I've always been a lavender kind of gal.  And I can't deal with strong scents.  But, seriously, this stuff smells like spring.  It's also clear which means it refills my mason jar soap dispenser wonderfully.  I just saw there is a bluebell version as well...and that sounds pretty good too.  I love all the Mrs. Meyers products, the cleaner concentrate has been a long time favorite.



Speaking of Mrs. Meyers and prices... I recently had the opportunity to try ePantry.  Everyone has been raving about it for so long and I finally jumped out there and did it.  Ten years behind the times, as usual.  So, if you want to buy Mrs. Meyers (and Seventh Generation , and Toms, and...)  check out ePantry because the prices are much, much better.  If you sign up here, you get $10 and I think I get $10 too.  But, hey, no pressure.  Seriously.  I was pretty excited to get my box of Mrs. Meyers matching scents!!  The prices are either comparable or better than what you would get in store.


I had a Hamilton Beach that I loved for like 5 years (this one actually).  And then it had a fatal accident.  We shouldn't talk about that here in case we scare the new coffee maker.  Anyway, I went looking for a new coffee maker.  I liked my old one because when I left my cup of coffee on the counter for two hours because of well, because 7 kids, then I could warm it back up without curdling any creamer and such.   The reality is that I'm a one-cup-every-couple-days girl.  I like coffee but I don't live for coffee.  So, the single serve aspect was calling to me.  However, I didn't want to be locked into buying K-cups.  I also wondered what to do for company--having everyone make an individual cup of coffee seemed a little ridiculous.  Viola!  There's the Flexbrew with single serve and a carafe.  Use your own coffee.  Or not.  One cup or more.  It seems to be happily working out for me so far.  (That Amazon price is true to what I've seen in store.  I did get mine on sale a little cheaper at Meijer but not by much.  I've been saving my nickels and dimes...never would I have thought I would spend that on a coffee maker).


McCafé Premium Roast K-Cup Packs - 12 count

Life is a funny thing.  I said I didn't want to be locked into using K-cups (and I don't) but oh my how I love these little cups!  So easy!  Especially for me, because I just want one cup.  I bought these McCafe ones to try out the new coffee maker and now I just feel spoiled rotten.  I'm not coffee gourmand, even if I am picky in my own special way, but these were pretty darn good.  Since the theme of this post seems to be for me to offer a price comparison...don't pay that price on Amazon!  Unless you're desperate for caffiene, then it would be okay.  ;)  These run about $7-$8 in store without a sale.

If you want to see what other 5 things people are loving this week then visit Call Her Happy.

April 14, 2015

Blueberry Coffee Cake

This recipe is one that comes from a book my mom bought me at a used book sale called the Pillsbury Complete Book of Baking.  There are quite a few recipes in here that I refer to all of the time, the Blueberry Coffee Cake being one of them.  As the binding is ruined on my book, I thought I better record it here before I lose it.  (Though when I went to link to this book on Amazon--they have them used for $5 with shipping!  I bought one, why not?!  I seriously love this book.)  We had Blueberry Coffee Cake for breakfast for Divine Mercy Sunday.  My intent had been to serve with sliced strawberries and whipped cream.  Good intentions don't always pan out.  ;)

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Coffee Cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar (I halve this)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp grated lemon or orange peel
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
3-5 tsp milk

Preheat oven to 350*.  Grease 13 x 9 inch pan.  In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon peel.  Cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  (I do this in my kitchenaid--dry ingredients go in bowl and use the wisk attachment to cut in the butter.)  Add 1 cup milk, eggs, and vanilla; stir until well blended.  Pour 3/4 batter into greased pan.  Top with blueberries.  Spoon remaining batter over blueberries.

Bake at 350 for 35-45 min or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 30 minutes (we never have the patience to do this!)

In small bowl, blend icing ingredients and drizzle over warm cake.

In my photo above, half the cake is blueberry and half is chocolate chip (kids request).  You can also substitute 2 cups sliced peaches or  3 cups pitted, halved bing cherries.

April 9, 2015

Reading Binge.

Since January or late December, I've been on a reading binge.  Now, I do try to limit myself as I read really fast.  And when I read, I'm totally and entirely "sucked in" ...well, if the book is good. By "sucked in" I mean:  The food is burning and I don't notice, someone is trying to tell me something and I am oblivious, and I have no idea what time it is.  So, I really try to limit myself because reading can really be a compulsion for me.

That being said, here's what I've been reading.  You'll notice a theme or two.   One of which is that I am about ten years behind on reading the popular books.  Better late than never, right?!

Left to Tell recounts Immaculee's experience during the Rwandan genocide.  Graphic and disturbing, it is worth the read.  I personally don't think I fully understood what was happening in Rwanda.  Mostly, it is a story of God's ability to carry us through the worst of time and still be able to love.

This one was written after Left to Tell.  I think I would recommend reading in that order.  Shorter, this one gives accounts of the visions of Our Lady of Kibeho and Immaculee's experience ten years before Left to Tell.

I don't know where I heard about this book but it is absolutely amazing.  It is the story of the underdog crew team that went on to compete in the Olympics under Hitler's gaze.  It is mostly about the boys' life experiences with tidbits of world events thrown in.  Also, mostly clean as I think the boys had a good moral compass.  Interesting even if you don't know anything about racing crews or shells or boats at all.  This book, set me off on a Nazi-era reading spree.

We all know about the Holocaust.  Most of us have probably heard of Corrie Ten Boom.  A great 
read, horrific, but God's providence shines through the horror.  I'd like to read her other books.  (Totally unrelated but Blogger will not let me make this little blip left indented and it is making me crazy.  That is all.  It isn't my fault it is centered!!  :P)

I'm still not through this one.  I have really wanted to watch the movie for a long time but couldn't convince anyone to watch it with me.  So, I thought I would read the book.  Only I don't like the book and I've heard it from others that the book isn't nearly as good as the movie.  I find the narrator's interruptions to be choppy, the constant use of German cuss words annoying and so far, pretty much just dismal.  Either I need to stick to autobiographies that or more historical or I just need to keep reading.  I'll update when I finish.

Update:  I finished.  I'm still not sure how I feel about this book.  It is flat out depressing.  Granted, there are elements of goodness but the characters didn't resonate with me.  And the whole "death is a person who doesn't talk to God" also didn't sit will with me.  I'm a big fan of reading the book before the movie, so for that purpose I would recommend it.  And if you do, let me know what you think!

Now, you know I just had to throw one in there for the kids.  Snow Treasure is a fictional novel based on a true story whose main character is Peter, a 13 year old Norwegian boy.  Peter, along with his friends, become involved in a plot to keep the country's gold reserves from falling into Nazi hands.  I thought we would all read this together, it turns out my most interested kids are Elizabeth (7) and Nicholas (6).  We haven't finished this one yet (and actually, wish I'd started it when it was really cold outside because it seems not right to read about sledding when it is finally spring!) but so far we have really enjoyed it.

As part of this reading binge, I have also purchased a stack of books for the boys.  Perhaps, they would like to review their reading selections?  Hmmmm, boys?  (Don't hold your breath, blog readers, they probably won't.)