Thursday, June 28, 2012

Coersion. (and a winner!)

 For the record... I don't take photographs of every thing.  Or everything I make.  Or everything I bake.  But it comes pretty close, I'm not gonna lie.  My camera and I are BFF.  What can I say? 
 I wanted to bake some gluten free muffins to take along on our upcoming fun weekend... (more on that to come) and I dreamed up a combination of pineapple, coconut, and banana in my head.  (That could be due to the fact that I want to go some place tropical.) Before long I had put it into action as a new experimental recipe.  I knew in my heart that it would be a keeper... sometimes you can just tell ya know?  But I needed to be sure.  I needed a guinea pig.  Enter, boy-who-eats-everything-in-sight lately.
 I stepped outside where he was playing, "JJ...."  Bright green eyes flashed up at me from around the corner and he smelled baking in the air came running, "Yes Mama?" 
"I need you to eat this muffin for me so I can tell if it's any good.  Are your hands clean?"  Grinning widely at me as he wiped hands on his jeans, "Yeah Mama... they're clean!"  (Previously digging in dirt forgotten apparently.)  He came to a standing vertical bounce, directly in front of me and held his hands out expectantly for his treat.
 I flicked my camera on, as he tried to shove the entire thing in his mouth.  I laughed and told him to slow down. 
 It's really a lot of work getting people to eat things around here.... I have to beg and plead and bribe.  Ha! Okay so that's a lie.  There's a lot of willing tasters milling around my kitchen constantly.  I can't tell you how much I love that. 
 JJ is a natural ham too, so when he knows the camera is on him, he makes all of this exaggerated chewing and eating faces.  He had me laughing so hard. 
 You see it right?  He knows he's got me in the palm of his grungy little hands. And he smells like dirt. Just so you know.  (I'm pretty sure little boys are supposed to smell that way.)
This is the "mmmmmmmmm...." face. 

Gluten Free Tropical Muffins with Pineapple Glaze
2 1/2 cups rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 banana, chopped
1/2 cup pineapple chunks, drained, juice reserved

*Combine first four dry ingredients and set aside.  In separate mixing bowl, combine coconut milk, vanilla, oil, sugar and eggs.  In blender or food processor, combine banana pieces and pineapple chunks and blitz until smooth and creamy.  Add banana/pineapple puree into coconut milk mixture and stir to combine.  Add dry ingredients at once and mix only until combined.  Pour into baking cups and bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes. 

*While cooling, prepare glaze: 1/2- 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice.  Whisk until combined, and if too thick, add more juice, 1 tbsp at a time.  If too thin, add a little more powdered sugar until drizzling consistency is reached.  Spoon over tops of cooled muffins, and sprinkle with coconut flakes (optional.)

And the yummiest news of all- Carmen at Old House Merchantile who supplied the amazing soaps for my giveaway has graciously offered all of you 20% off your orders from now until July 4th if you use the coupon code, "LEMONADE."  Isn't that sweet of her?  (You can go to her shop here.) 

And the winner of the joy joy joy joy down in my heart giveaway was The Everyday Extraordinary.  (Congratulations and give me a shout at to claim your prize!)
To everyone who participated, thank you so much for playing- y'all make giveaways so much fun around here and I promise another really good giveaway in about two weeks!!  You won't want to miss it!

Happy Weekend!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Currently, second edition.

 Ah the lazy days of summer....I thought it was the perfect time for another "Currently" post.  I love those and haven't done one for months.  They are kind of an in the moment snapshot of my heart.  Which may or may not be a little bit scary. (giggle)
Currently loving...having my hoodlums home with me.  I know public school has been the right decision.  And there is no doubt in my mind and Adrain's that our homeschooling season has come to a close for now.  It's a decision we take year by year.  However... having them home with me is bliss. Well... until they start fighting at Lowe's.  Ha!

Currently reading...Bonhoeffer, The Pillars of the Earth, and Uncle Tom's Cabin.  I like a lot of irons in the fire at the same time.  And has everyone out there read Uncle Tom's Cabin, besides me?  How did I miss it in school?

Currently waiting for...Something to change for my man.  I so desperately want him to be happy and I know he's doing a good job, and is doing the right thing for our family in the job department... but I know how much he wishes it was something/someplace else.  That said... we are unbelievably blessed and thankful that he still has a job. 

Currently excited weekend plans with my three favorite people.  To be honest, I'm a little bit giddy...  

Currently puppy dog.  I don't think we are in the best season to replace her... and that makes me sad.  Adrain isn't there yet and I'm coming to realize that maybe he never will be.   

Currently begin running again.  After a year of low back pain and issues, it is heavenly to be out there again.  I wish it didn't have to be such a slow process!

Currently working at...being the best version of myself, rather than being "the best."  Isn't that a fantastic thought? 
Currently enjoying...every minute I get to spend with my husband.  He puts in a lot of hours as Summer becomes his busy season but he's my best friend and I'd rather be with him than anyone on the planet, even if he walks in later and later each night.   

Currently using...Picmonkey.  I like it... but I am dying to take a Photoshop class.  Dying I tell you.  I WILL master it some day.  Not today... but some day.

Currently pants, sadly.  I had planned on doing an ab workout before dinner but my kids were fighting and I had to deal with a long verbal situation so my workout was momentarily shelved and then it was time for dinner, so perhaps I'll get back to it soon.  Or I'll just swap them for my jammies and do it tomorrow.
Currently planning...a fun lemonade stand with all my girlfriends and our kids.  It's gonna ROCK.

Currently singing...some Julie Andrews song.  My kids love Julie Andrews.  Then again, who doesn't?  I especially love her Christmas music.  She seems to smile through the speakers. 

Currently needing...affirmation in a situation where I keep feeling very sub-par. 
Currently speak kindly to myself.

Currently listening kids jump on the trampoline.  Apparently they're friends again which is shocking considering how much fighting went on today.  Ah, summer... I do believe operation sit-on-the-couch-and-hold-hands-until-I-say-you-can-get-down is soon to be back in effect.  

 Currently wishing...I had booked my hair apt. for this week.  Darnit!
Currently Etsy bookkeeping.  Oh it's lots-a-fun! (But actually it is... I love being able to hand my man a paycheck.)  

 Currently praying for...Ohhh... I think I just cringed.  I'm praying for forgiveness with my whole heart right now over something I have been making into a god. Something I put onto a pedestal and wrestled with all week until it came to me very clearly that what I was seeking had become an idol in my heart.  As I became aware of that, I also became aware of how often my neutral thoughts go directly there.  Ahh!  
Currently dreaming of...Hawaii.  It will always be Hawaii.  I went once, and I've been spoiled for it ever since.  I dream of it on those especially Northwesty style days when the skies are cloudy and gray. 

Okay it's your turn if you want... you can give me a run down of a few of your current statuses in comments just for fun or blog it and pass it on!  

(And there's still time to enter my giveaway from the previous post!)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart GIVEAWAY!!!

 Today is my favorite kind of day.  And not just because I'm giving away a lot of fun stuff. (which I am) But because as I stretched out in bed, squinting my eyes to the light filtering in between my bedroom curtains, I felt it.  JOY.  Bubbly, for-no-good-reason, raw joy.  It blasted me with it's unexpectedness and I felt lightheaded with it's presence.  A wide smile stretched across my face and I knew it's Source.  Those are precious and often rare days. 
I needed it so badly and it's timing was impeccable.  On Saturday I posed a question on my LMM Facebook page.  I asked "Where do you go (kind of assuming a good majority of you will say God) when your "bucket" is completely EMPTY? Would love some specific places/people/etc...."  Looking back, we've had a couple of really good weeks lately.  Of course, we've had a few intense moments, some junk that sneaks in there, like everyone else has, but over all good.  We have a couple of things that we're looking forward to right now, and a really full summer, but there are a few people/places/things that have been draining my husband and I of our reserve joy, leaving us with empty bucket syndrome in spite of the overall good.   You can't give what you don't have... and if you lack joy and you're empty, something has to fill it.
 I am not the kind of girl to sit around and wait for it to get better.  I'm proactive and a go-getter, so I read all of your encouraging words and comments, and did some soul-searching and praying along with my man throughout the day.  Some things have no immediate or human solution and must be set aside in faith.  But we saw a few areas where we need to change or make minor adjustments in our thoughts, actions etc.  We saw a few places lacking healthy boundaries that have now been reconstructed, and we did several of the things you all suggested to get our buckets filled in the right ways once again.  (I loved your ideas and thoughts- I always do.) Plus, I always feel better with a plan... don't you? 
 As we made breakfast Adrain and I broke out singing, "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart" (Did I just hear you just say "WHERE?") Down in my heart!!  
 So because of that, I'm calling this the "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart giveaway."  It seemed fitting somehow.  Things can't give you joy of course... but I've gathered a bunch of favorite items that I hope will bless someone's heart.  My longtime reader friend, Carmen at Old House Kitchen asked me if she could contribute some of her amazing goat's milk soaps to one of my giveaways... and I was thrilled to say yes!  I was even more thrilled when they all arrived, wrapped in stripey baker's twine with their cute little tags, making my house smell amazing. 
 As you're noticing, this is just a bunch of feel-good, cute things.  I so hope you like it!! I've got some grassy green party napkins for you, some fair trade, organic, Justin's peanut butter cups.  I've also got a darling flowered bowl that I've filled with Carmen's soaps- lavender, unscented, cinnamon oat, rosemary, and lemongrass.  And just for fun, I've included some branch colored pencils.  (I want a set to go with a notebook next to my guest bed- people could leave masterpieces.  Ha ha.) And lastly... for a soft smokey eye this summer, a few shimmery mineral eye shadows in "Storm," "White Pearl," and "Rain drop," along with a soft applicator brush.  
 To enter: 
Spread some joy-would you go here, to Carmen's store and tell me your favorite of her items in comments, please?  She's so precious, and her items are lovely.   

You may also pin, tweet, Facebook, or post this on your own blog, and tell me in separate comments for an extra entry(s).

That's it friends.  I'll post a winner chosen by by Thursday.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Trimmed and stuff

 I feel like it's time for a really packed post.  I've got a lot to say today and decided to jam it all into one post.  You all like that though, don't you? 
 My gallery wall #2 is slowly morphing and taking shape.  In fact, it might be done.  It might not be done, too... you never can tell with these things.  See the table?  That is actually my beloved desk, that is temporarily living as a console table while I figure out the best systems for mail and shoes which drive me crazy constantly because I didn't design the layout of my mudroom.  Savvy?  It will forever be a thorn in my side.  Mail and shoes.  These things need order and structure! 
 And did you see the print?  Oh yes... my sweet little gray baby.  I called it the "You complete me" print.  And that makes me laugh out loud every time I think about it.  I do love words.  My blog is case in point.  It's my second to last "new" creation until Fall.  (Here to shop)
 And my last new creation until Fall... these adorable dishtowels.  You can't ever have too many, and if you've ever had children wipe salsa, brownie batter on them, or dry an old frying pan with them, you'll agree.  (Here to shop)
 And now the moment we've all been waiting for.  (You were waiting for it, right?) Trim... painted.... hooray.  (The bedrooms are not done, but we'll just pretend they are because that's going to be a bigger deal with taking trim off and such.) This above photo is the before.  (We no longer have a dog... or a broken down TV stand for that matter.)
 And this is the "after."  Fresh,clean, and creamy white.  I love it so much.  In fact, I think it completes me.  I should have added "you are the paint to my trim" in my aforementioned print.  (grin) By the way, don't you want to totally curl up on that cuddly chair?  I am begging my man for the matching ottoman. 
 I know... the old light is still here... I'm getting impatient myself... hopefully soon-ish! But look at that trim!!  Whoo-ee!

 We took all the door hardware off and primed them, then added oil-rubbed-bronze spray paint.  Now everything is streamlined.  Well, mostly.  (Our doors kind of look like cheap apartment doors, but hey they were cheap doors to begin with and you can't always turn the frogs into princes.  They look fine enough for us.)
 Tomorrow is the last day of school, finally!!  I need my babies home with me!
 Ava requested strawberry cookie frosting on sugar cookies to celebrate the end.  (Cookie recipe found here) My initial reaction was, "Blech." But then I made some and it tasted like home-made strawberry ice cream... only not cold.  And not made of cream.  It would have been better on a cupcake. I'm just saying.
Strawberry Frosting
1/2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed
1 cup room temperature butter
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla 
*Blend strawberries in food processor until pureed and set aside.  Beat butter in separate bowl until fluffy.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Mix until combined and creamy.  Add 3-5 TBSP strawberry puree and blend. 

Coming up Monday... a GIVEAWAY!!  I have gathered a cute little collection of some feel good things for your summer and I can't wait to give it away! Happy Weekend sweet friends. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Oops, I did it again.

I still remember the freeing feeling when I kicked insecurity to the curb.  It was a few years ago, and I blasted it.  Bricks fell from my shoulders and I began to breathe again.  And like myself again.  I had just completed "So Long Insecurity" and I thought, (while raising my fist to the sky in true Scarlett O'Hara-ish fashion) "With God as my witness... I'll never be insecure again!" 

Of course, then life... the great equalizer, hit me from a few different and unexpected sides and I couldn't seem to dig my self out from the rubble it left me under.  I needed someone on the outside with a shovel.  I began saying that nastiest of things to my self.  The more I beat up on myself from the inside, the more my world closed in tightly, around me, which goes against everything I stand for.  But I felt paralyzed and unable to stop it.  I was finding that my initial reaction to people and scenarios were skewing immediately to uncharacteristic judgement, probably not surprising since that's how I was viewing myself.  Critical feelings that are out of character for me ordinarily, were bubbling under the surface, everywhere I turned.  I was spiraling deeper and deeper into self-loathing mode. 

I began doing a scramble, that is all too familiar to me.  Attempting to reign it all in, control it, smooth it, mask it, hide it, and finally... perfect it around the edges.  I was doing the dance of "pretend you're okay and then you will be." But I hadn't been "okay" for a year.  I just hadn't.  I didn't like to talk about it in specifics but I found two women that I could be downright, ugly, carelessly specific.  I thank God for them.  They were/are still struggling in some of the same places, right alongside me.  Which made me realize that it was finally time for that shovel and an outside source for us all.   

I reached for my "So Long Insecurity" and it fell open to a very worn-in page; 105.  A page that is circled, arrowed, starred, question marked, underlined and highlighted.  Beth Moore writes something that has hit me so many times that I've underlined it each time I've read it, and it seemed to apply to the situation and the ways I've been manifesting my own junk.  "We will never feel better about ourselves by becoming more consumed with ourselves. Likewise, we will never feel better about ourselves by feeling worse about others."  

I own it.  I've been guilty of that one way too much. 

Pride, check. 

Insecurity, check.

Everything that follows in the wake of those two life-choking ships, check. 

I think I broke my own heart with this.  So I let the tears fall down my cheeks as I asked God for help, wisdom, forgiveness and healing.  I've been such a fool in some big areas.  I was so afraid that I had crossed an uncrossable line, unable to accept, change, and be freed.  And then while doing my bible study, I read the words that lifted me gratefully, once again, from that pit of self.  "God's kindness leads you toward repentance." (Romans 2:4b)  Kindness.  Not anger, not contempt, just kindness.

The same thing I had not been extending to myself (and others).  Kindness.  I felt about as tall as dirt, so it was fitting that I came across the words inscribed on the "shovel" that is now digging me out.  "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed.  Psalm 103:13-14"..."God Himself formed human emotions.  He knows how easily the heart can be broken.  The mind can be marred.  He knows life hurts... because people hurt... and then hurt people.  He also knows the resilience with which He made us and the innate capacity within each one of us to be restored.  Remade.  He knows we are capable of loving even when we feel unloved because He loves us enough to cover those who don't....He knows we have the capacity to be astoundingly extraordinary, and not just in spite of where we've been, but because of it." 

As I unravel my knotted insecurities over past once again, and let go of some things, I am digging myself out with kindness.  To myself.  To others.  We beat ourselves up over careless words we say (or hear.) Choices we make.  Past mistakes.  Errors in judgement.  Relationships we've wrecked.  Opportunities we've missed and people we've misjudged. It goes on and on and it makes us feel worthless. We can't lift our head to help others if our leg is pinned under the boulder of self.... and feeling worthless is a form of self and twisted pride, keeping us at the center of our own universe.  It's a specially designed trap of the enemy of our soul.  We are not worthless... we have been redeemed by a God who gave us everything, and He is kind.  His kindness calls to our hearts and we respond in repentance and find our security by His side.  

Kindness amidst the mess we've made, spilled over into our life by a loving God who forgives and heals... and then pouring out into others expanding our tiny universe, which is the only reason we are here. 

I'm going to be chewing on this one a while.  And I don't know about you, but I could be a lot kinder to myself...

Monday, June 18, 2012

This is the week

  We spent four days celebrating the most amazing Daddy who didn't have much of a Daddy growing up himself, to learn from.  I'm always amazed at the kind of father Adrain is to my children.  Encouraging, strong, gentle and much more patient than I am.  I'm more amazed that with no positive fatherly role model, he figured it out like a fish figures out how to swim.  And if I keep talking about him, he'll start to feel like this is a Facebook shout-out and I know how he feels about those... so I'll stop.  But only for his sake. 
 This is the week I've been waiting all year for.  The last week of school.  I'm ready to have my babies home again!  Boy to go from homeschooling, 24-7 kid time, to full days free of them... well, let's just say I've never encountered more loneliness in my entire life.  And I didn't like it.
 Also, I would love to know the reasons Washington state has school nearly until the end of June, when Montana kids get out around Memorial day, and East coasters were done last week?  Sheesh.  We get two months of summer.  Two!  Which really is probably okay since it's still 60 degrees and rainy right now.  And gray.  If you want sunshine around here, you have to bring your own. I'm working on that!
 Anyway, I'm going to try and make the most of this week.  I'm restocking my Lobster dish towels on Etsy, working on two tiny last things until the Fall, finishing up the last few custom orders (they're almost finished girls!) and getting things mailed out.  I won't be taking ANY custom orders on anything this summer... the only exception will be the "You are my sunshine" barn wood signs... providing I get more barn wood.  I've had over 50 inquiries by people wanting those signs.  (If you want one, you can just pray that I'm able to get my hands on more wood soon!)  I was going to finish all the bedroom trim...but I ran out of paint, am afraid to pop that trim off by myself, and I'm just not there right now.  That will be a lingering project through the summer I'm afraid.  I will show you my trim and doors soon I promise.  I kind of hoped a few of my real life friends to see it in person first instead of relying on my blog for Sasha updates!  Ha! 
 I'm also doing something just for me and it starts today.  I'm also going to begin to run again now that my physical therapy is finished.  I'm starting the Beth Moore summer study on Nehemiah and I think it's going to be fabulous.  Actually I know it is. 
I haven't made a summer list yet... but for the first summer in three years, we aren't selling our house... don't think we're moving any time soon... have some fun plans on the calendar... and I'm looking forward to it.

I also dreamed that we got a new dog last night... and she was one of Lucy's puppies.  Which of course is impossible.... and how weird is that? 

So... what's on your week's list?  Is school out for you?  Is summer begun?  What's going on for you this summer? Fill me in friends!