Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 Days of Autumn Inspiration For Home and Family

Autumn is my favorite time of year as many of you know.  It's a time of vibrant color and change, hearty stews and rich flavors, cooling nights and nesting family moments.  It's a season rich with inspiration and ripe for family memories.  

So for the month of October, I'll be blogging about Autumn and how it can inspire our homemaking and family.  How can we use this season to in our teaching, parenting, hospitality, creating a richer life for our families and communities?  Stay tuned to find out.

I hope you'll join me in the next 31 Days as we seek out Autumn Inspiration!  

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bookmarks for September 2012

*Bookmarks is an online book club hosted at Creative2xmom. Here we discuss the books we've read in the past month as well as the suggested reading. Our suggested reading for September was 5 Love Languages for Children by Gary Chapman.

These are the books I read this month:

10 Christians Everyone Should Know by John Perry-- See my review here.

Our suggested reading for this month was 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman-- This book came at a much needed time in my motherhood journey.  When I made the list in January, I didn't know I would be homeschooling in September.  And yet here I am.  One of the greatest decisions (so far) and yet one of the hardest.  I'm seeing my relationship with my son deepen and yet we're together 24 hours a day and really know how to push each other's buttons.  So this book couldn't have come at a better time.  If you haven't read anything about the 5 Love Languages before, this is a great place to start.  The book gives a clear description of each as well as examples as they relate to kids.  And although I do know the 5 Love Languages, this book gave me some fresh ideas.  As the book progresses it gets more into parenting theory.  This is where I got a little off track.  The writers are still very clear; I just found myself disagreeing on some points.  All in all, it gave me some new ideas, but some ideas I'll discard as well.  Read it with a grain of salt.

So what are your bookmarks this month?

Tell us in the comments about the books you're chewing on. Or link up a review from your own blog. Let's share the books we're finding, good and bad. And give us your thoughts on 5 Love Languages for Children by Gary Chapman.

And come back Friday October 26th as we discuss Reluctant Entertainer by Sandy Coughlin and other books you're reading.  

*Linked to these Parties

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Carmel Apple Cheesecake Bars

September screams fall to me and nothing says fall like apples.  The crisp juicy crunch of a freshly picked apple is unbelievable.  And apple desserts are all about capturing that feeling and the comfort of the changing seasons.

So when I saw this recipe on pinterest several months back, I'm immediately pinned it, already thinking ahead to the changing seasons and the cooler evenings.  If you're like me, you'll pin anything that says "cheesecake" and these make a seasonal treat that is not to be missed.  Enjoy!

Carmel Apple Cheesecake Bars
from The Girl Who Ate Everything

2 c. flour
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. butter, softened

Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8oz) pkages cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. sugar, plus 2 Tbsps, divided
3 lrg eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (Granny Smith's for tartness)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Streusel Topping:
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. flour
1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1/2 c. butter, softened

Carmel Topping

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine flour and brown sugar.  Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.  Press evenly into a 9x 13 pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake 15 min or until lightly brown.
  3. Beat cream cheese with 3/4 c. sugar until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.  Pour into warm crust.
  4. Stir together apples, remaining brown sugar (2 Tbsp), cinnamon and nutmeg.  Spoon over cream cheese mixture.
  5. Combine all streusel topping ingredients.  Make sure the butter is really cut well.  
  6. Sprinkle streusel over apples.  Bake 40-45 min. or until set.  Drizzle with carmel and let cool.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall To Do List

Every season I love to create a To Do List of things that we're looking forward to in the coming months.  Fall tends to be a busy time in our house, but it's also my favorite season.  Maybe that's why it's so busy.  I'm always cramming more and more into the season so I can savor every last possible second.  Here's what's on our Fall To Do List this year:

*Celebrate Noah's 7th(!) Birthday
*Go to the pumpkin patch
*Attend the women's retreat
*Show at the local consignment sale
*Volunteer at a local healthy living event
*Scrapbook through June photos
*Roast marshmallows
*Carve pumpkins
*Take photos in the leaves
*Toast pumpkin seeds
*Can apples
*Go to the Christmas parade
*Make Apple Cider Floats
*Visit the Farmer's Market
*Make a pumpkin dessert once a week in Oct
*Plan ahead for Christmas
*Go Christmas tree hunting
*Make a Thankful chain
*Host an open house
*Make changing leaves cookies
*Break out the fondue pot
*Host a Christmas cookie exchange?

What are you looking forward to this fall?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dayspring Cards Review and Giveaway

For the month of September, Dayspring send me two sets of cards to review.  One set was their Compassion International Assortment Pack.

The set includes: 3 Birthday cards, 3 Thank You cards, 2 Encouragement cards, 1 Thinking of You card, and 1 Friendship card, as well as 10 envelopes.  The set also includes a postcard with ideas for writing your message and the significance of developing a card ministry.  These cards were all beautifully illustrated and unique. There wasn't a card in the bunch that I didn't like.

The second set of cards I was sent for review were Colors of Compassion Encouragement Cards.

This set includes 6 Encouragement cards of the same message, as well as 6 envelopes.  The color quality is beautiful and the variety of fonts and color is stunning.  These cards are a lot of fun and would be a wonderful card for encouraging a friend.

Wanna a set for yourself?

Buy it!-- The Colors of Compassion Encouragement cards retail for $19.74 and the Compassion International Assortment Pack is on sale for $19.99.


Win it!--If you noticed the title of this blog post, I have a set of each cards to give away to one lucky reader.  Wanna know how to win?

To enter: Simply leave me a comment telling me why you love sending or receiving cards.

Additional entries: Follow Creative2xmom on FacebookTwitter, or through Google Friend Connect.  Simply leave an additional comment(s) letting me know which one you choose,  (Feel free to choose all if you don't mind my jabbering.)

Entries will close Friday Sept 28th at 12 am PST.  I will post and email the winner on Monday.

Good luck to all the entrants.

*Disclaimer: I received the both sets of cards from Dayspring free for my review.  All opinions are my own.

*Linked to these Parties

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hospitality Beyond the Home: The Ministry of Notes

In today's fast-paced world of email, text messages, and facebook, the ministry of the written word has been cheapened.  We live in a world that is saturated with communication and connection.  And it's cheapened our words.

How often do I take the opportunity to write down my thoughts?  To write down my love for others?  We think that they already know and many certainly do.  But how do I feel when I check the mail and find that someone took the time to write me a note?  Doesn't my own heart soar and walk just a little taller knowing that someone is thinking of me?

A handwritten note does something for one's soul.  It lightens it.  It releases a load.  It lifts the spirit.  It reminds us that someone is contending in prayer for our lives.  It can be an encouragement that God is working in our lives.  Or that we have yet to be forgotten in this world and in our mission.  Or that our friendship has value and worth in another's life.

There are many different types of notes we can write, but these are just a few to get us thinking:

Happy Birthday Cards--Recently, I've been keeping a list of special birthdays (and anniversaries) so that I can bless others with a word of encouragement.  Before I run out to the store (Dollar Tree is my favorite for cards), I take a quick glance at my list to see what dates are coming up.  Before sending each card, I do my best to pray over what the Lord would have for the recipient(s) in the next year.  Is there something special that He would like to speak into that person's life?  How does He want to lead and guide in the next year?  Sometimes the card doesn't get mailed till that day.  And that's fine too.  It's the simple act of remembering and blessing that comes through in remembering their special day.

Encouraging Notes--We all have those individuals in our lives who could use a word of encouragement.  Leaders, friends, stay at home moms, siblings... there's no lack of struggle in a fallen world.  Who in our lives needs to be lifted up and stregthened for the journey?  Ask the Lord how He would like to encourage those in your life.  How would He like to speak to them?  Is there a special scripture you need to share?  Think and pray for someone in your life that is struggling in their marriage, struggling with sickness, walking through financial troubles, battling through parenthood, grieving the loss of a parent or a child, or simply someone who is grieving in their heart and they can't figure out why.  Make it a goal to send one encouraging note a week.  Who can you lift up this week?

Thank You Notes-- This is a practice I've done with my children from a very young age.  Each year after their birthdays, we sit down together and work out how to best thank family and friends for their generousity.  Some years, I pick up a package of printed Thank You cards from the Dollar Tree.  Or years, we paint homemade Thank You cards together.  Either way, I always involve them in the wording of the cards, helping them to express their gratitude.

Beyond birthdays, is there someone in your life that has blessed you recently?  Maybe there's been a particular sermon that's spoke to you in the past weeks. A friend that's had you over for dinner.  Has someone blessed you in a special way?  Let them know that their efforts have not gone unnoticed.  Ask the Lord to speak through you.  You may be amazed at how He blesses them through a simple note.

These are just a few ways we can use notes to ministry to those without even leaving our homes.  Our lives are certainly full, but this is such a simple way we can show our love and appreciation for other.  Handwritten words have the power to build others up in a powerful way.  In our age of fast paced communication, let's not forget the power of the written word.

How can you be a blessing to others today?

*Linked to these Parties

Monday, September 17, 2012

10 Christians Everyone Should Know {Review}

Let me just be honest in saying that when I first picked up this book, I wasn't so sure that I had made a good choice.  The first 20 pages or so seemed dry and I wondered how I would ever get through it.  Was this a book I was really going to be able to review honestly?

However, as I began to get into the flow of the book, the more I enjoyed it.  Particularly the chapters on Anne Bradstreet and Johann Sebastian Bach.  These short biographies offered insight into their particular place in Christian history that I had no prior knowledge of.

Please be aware that this is a biographical book and is written as such.  These short biographies (20-30 pages) are very historical and fact based.  At times, I did find my mind wandering, trying to piece all the events and sequences together.  There's not a lot of fluff and it does take some concentration to get through.

However, if approached in the right mindset, this is an enjoyable book for seeing how these lesser celebrated figures meld into the Christian history.  This would be a great book for the historian in the family or anyone searching to find groundbreakers in all walks of the Christian life.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book for review from BookSneeze.  All opinions are my own.

*Linked to these Parties

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My Top Five Foods

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what 5 Foods would you never get sick of?

Realistically, I know I'd get sick of all of these, but when I think of My Top Five Foods, these are the ones I crave:
1. Cheese-All kinds of cheese:
Pepper Jack
Sharp Cheddar
Blue Cheese

2. Peanut Butter-
All natural and freshly ground

3. Watermelon-
Homegrown, right off the vine

4. Pizza-
Vegetarian or
I'm not picky!

5. Cupcakes-
the varieties are endless!

Monday, September 10, 2012


If you looked inside my life today you'd see:

*a little boy doing math with dice

*laundry hanging on the back line

*apple cider donut holes baking

*a family outing to the local museum

*peanut butter and jelly sandwiches... again

*monkey birthday party plans

*a little girl discovering the world of books

*a Mama obsessed with finding new ways of teaching

*family arriving to celebrate another year

*children jumping on Grandparents

*homemade potato salad chilling in the fridge

*Baby Boy exploding with new words

*two parents staying sane with a Cake Boss episode at the end of the night

*a life filled with laughter

What's filling your days?

*Written 9/7/12

Friday, September 7, 2012

Apple Cider Donut Holes

Apple Cider Doughnut Holes
adapted from Feastie
makes approximately 36 mini muffins/"donut holes"
  • 1 c. white flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. apple butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. apple cider
  • 1/3 c. plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp applesauce

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, 1/4 c. sugar, 1Tbsp cinnamon

  • Powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In another bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Do not over mix.
  4. Slowly pour wet ingredients into dry mixture.
  5. Use a cookie scoop to fill muffin pan.  Obviously we over filled our tin.  But they were yummy still.  Bake for 10-12 min and cool.
  6. Melt butter.  Brush donut holes lightly with the butter and dip into sugar/cinnamon mixture.  OR... dust with powdered sugar.
These are so yummy!  I made them for breakfast while we had company.  But the kids got ahold of them the night before and dug in.  We had a couple for dessert and I had a hard time staying out of them for the rest of the night.  Perfect way to celebrate the beginning of fall!

Do you have any favorite apple recipes?

*Linked to these Parties

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hello, Y'ALL!

Hey guys,
You might have notice that things have been a little quiet around here lately.  There's been a post or two here and there, but for the most part, August (and even July) were pretty slow.  Actually, it ended up being an unexpected, but very welcome break.  July is always busy around here.  That's usually when we plan our trips to see family.  And August... well, August was just unplanned, smashed together fun at the end of the summer.  It was one of those situations where a couple of days go by and before you know it, it's been a month since you've written any real content and you're just praying that people are as busy as you are.  :-)  Right?

But September has arrived and with it greater motivation and inspiration.  And tons of ideas that are waiting to bust out of my brain.  We've had some big changes in our family over the summer that I'll share with you soon.  So with that, I'm altering my writing schedule to about 3-4 days a week, but I'm so excited to be sharing you again.

Fall has hit full force in our house.  We went from being surrounded by smoke due to the fires around us to now having cool(er) days and longer drying time for my laundry.  But although it's still in the low 90's here, I'm dreaming of pumpkin pastries and apple desserts.  I'm in the mood to bake this week and promise I'll be sharing some yummy recipes with you guys in the near future.

We're also planning a 1 year old birthday party.  Our foster son is turning ONE!  So although I can't share pictures of him, I'll try to share a few of the cake and party this month as well.

Being a mom of three has officially hit with full force as our fall schedule is being finalized.  Kids back in school, one homeschooling, and one crawler and I'm feeling like a mom.  But before I get too sentimental (or crazy), let me share a few photos from our busy summer.

Taking the kids to see Rio
at the Dollar Theater

Noah and Cousin Jasmine
on the quad

Finishing Swim Lessons

Finishing Swim Lessons

Bunches of Cousins

Celebrating Cousin Dylan's Graduation
at a Giant's Game
Lydia playing at the beach

Noah running from the waves

Noah and Daddy playing in the water

Noah and Mommy on the Slip N Slide

Noah playing T-Ball

Cousins Lydia, Natalie, and Noah
at the Fair

Noah and Lydia at the Fair
with Great-Grandma

So that's what we've been up to.  Good memories and I'm amazed at how quickly it all went.  There's more to come to keep reading.  I'm so blessed to be journeying with all of you.

What have you all been up to lately?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bookmarks for August 2012

*Bookmarks is an online book club hosted at Creative2xmom. Here we discuss the books we've read in the past month as well as the suggested reading. Our suggested reading for August was Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule.

These are the books I read this month:

Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong--Click here for my review.

Word Spirit Power by Kendall, Carrin, and Taylor-- Click here for my husband's review.

Our suggested reading for this month was Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule--I have good things about Soule's Creative Family, but haven't been able to get my hands on it.  So when I saw this title listed at the library, I had to pick it up.  I wasn't prepared however for all the sewing projects in this book (I know.  It's in the sub-title).  And for a non-sewer like myself, I just skipped several parts.  My sewing abilities are BAD. I can't get through a straight line with jamming the needle.  Although I will say, it has inspired me to make some eye pillows.  They're a cute little gift and maybe I'll get over my fear of the sewing machine to put together a few for Christmas.  Besides the sewing, there was several other projects that I'd like to try: handmade journals, a treasure bag, a rack for the hall, etc.  I think what I loved most about this book was that everything was made with found material, recycling treasure that no one else wants.  This is a cute little book that I want to keep in mind for "someday" when I have more time.  

So what are your bookmarks this month?

Tell us in the comments about the books you're chewing on. Or link up a review from your own blog. Let's share the books we're finding, good and bad. And give us your thoughts on Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule.

And come back Friday September 28th as we discuss 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and other books you're reading.  

*Linked to these Parties
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