Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pumpkins, Ponderings, and Apple Crisp

I just had to share a few recent pictures since the last time I shared with you guys I wasn't able to.  A couple weeks ago, we went down to the quaint, little pumpkin patch "down the road", The Penny Pumpkin Patch.  We look forward to picking out pumpkins every year, and since moving back to my hometown this spot has been our place to go!  It's a fun family tradition.

This sweet place is in a tiny community named Penny which is basically in the middle of nowhere, but isn't that the best place for a pumpkin patch to be?!  If you head out of town, it's somewhere between the horse farms, soybean fields, and all the smoking tobacco barns. 

Speaking of, I have to share with you a snippet of my country life.  I have never used tobacco a minute in my life, but we live in in the middle tobacco farm country.  Every fall when the harvested tobacco smokes in the barns, it is simply the quintessential smell of early autumn in the country!  If you open your windows on a brisk late September morning and smell the woodsy campfire type scent wafting in, it's a sign that the new season is at hand. I'm sure it must be funny to think about if you're not familiar with the scent or the country way of life, but for most of the people around here it's a familiar, endearing scent that welcomes fall to Kentucky! 

The love of my life!

Whenever we're at the patch I love seeing our kids run free around the pumpkins, their heart so excited their legs can hardly keep up!  We let them pick out one of their favorite pumpkins to take home.  Our daughter takes her task very seriously, where as our son just likes to mostly run and climb on whatever is around.  (With a very energetic 5 and 6 years old every single errand is an adventure, to say the least!!) I decided on a beautiful deep orange trio of pumpkins that came stacked up and ready to adorn our front porch!

I had to steal a picture of me with my beautiful little girl as she is bursting with excitement to be picking out her 2016 pumpkin! 

Just look at those dark brown eyes you could get lost in... and those eyelashes!  She's a cutie!! 

God knows and see her little heart.  I pray that I'm meeting her needs as a mommy should. Parenting has been one of the biggest leaps of faith from the very start.  It is a day by day, hour by hour reminder that I need daily help from the Lord.  I love our children with all my being, but I imperfectly guide them while trusting God's grace to cover us in the process. 

More than anything, I want to raise adults who love God with their whole being
and love people... out loud! 
Simple goal as it is, ultimately it will be their decision to make.  

My nickel parenting advice? 

Faith. (in God) 

Trust. (In God)

Prayer. (With each breath.)

Love (The best you can.)

Back home we set out the pumpkin bounty on the front and back porch and the mums I bought at the grocery. I admire the little acorns we have by the millions around our porch.  The giant oak trees loom overhead and shower our place with acorns. 

I happen to like things like that. :)

Inside I've began to set a cozy scene with the fire in the fireplace!  Most mornings are chilly enough to turn it on as I sip a quick cup of coffee during the week or my 2-3 cups I linger over on the weekends! I have bits of fall décor peeking out here and there!  I've since added more from the time this picture was taken, but it's real life here. This mama doesn't have time to stage photos these days, yet I don't want that to keep me from sharing my home with you! 

So, I've had requests for some of the recipes of things I've been making in the kitchen. and I don't want to let my cozy followers down!...

 I'm letting you all in on a delicious and easy recipe I've been making for years and years every fall!  It's a classic apple crisp recipe with dried cranberries and cinnamon. I like to bake crumbles and crisps in the fall months filled with warm and chewy fruit and topped with a crumbly oat topping! This one is a snap to put together. It's a perfect dessert with some cold milk or a decadent breakfast with a steamy cup of coffee!  Fresh out of the oven with some vanilla ice cream for us!

Cinnamon-Apple Berry Crumble

6 cups of sliced and peeled apples (about 6 medium)
1 c. dried cranberries
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. oats, quick cook or old fashioned if you want more texture
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Ice cream if you want it extra delicious!

Heat oven to preheat at 375 F.  In a large bowl mix apples, cranberries, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Spoon into an ungreased 11x7 baking dish.

In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients with a fork until crumbly.  Spoon over the fruit mixture.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until apples are tender, juice bubbles and topping is golden brown!  Serve warm with ice cream!

Note: I'm sure you could make this with fresh cranberries if you add some extra sugar and cook it a little longer.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Back, at Last! A Life Update.

(I apologize that I have no pictures to show, but I'm some trouble getting them to load the past couple of weeks.  I guess my words will just have to paint the pictures vividly enough you can imagine all I'm saying!)

Good morning dear Friends!  I have missed you all!!! 

I've received some very kind and thoughtful emails and comments for some of you concerned for me since it has been since early summer since I've published a blog.  We are all good here!  I just have let time slip away. I've even began several different blogs but either never finished for times sake or had trouble with pictures, but today I decided I must write you and let you all know, we are well!! 

I'm just in a very, very busy season in my life and have more responsibilities than ever.  Because of that, I've had to simplify a few things: realizing I cannot do it all (that's a big one), not looking on my phone and social media nearly as much (I bet a few of you can understand the struggle), and not feeling obligated to write a blog post when I simply don't have the time.  My creative writing has been abuzz in my head with ideas of devotionals, delicious recipes I've made or fun family trips I've wanted to share, but at the end of the day I have been simply out of wind and unfortunately find myself at bedtime with yet not another blog written.  But as much as I never intend to have months between my blog posts, I also write simply from the pleasure of doing so and the connection with you all (I have no income from blogging). I have to give myself more grace than usual in busy seasons and if my blog suffers it's because I'm probably trying to be more present with my family. I am OK with that! God is helping "balance" my life, but I have truly missed talking to you and happy to share a little with you today!

It is autumn!  (I basically skipped summer...yikes) I love all the seasons of the years, but fall is sort of like my happy place --if you will-- out of all the other seasons!  Wonderful holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmastime are just around the corner, the cozy blankets have made there way back in our living room and the sweaters in my drawers.  It's jean and boot wearing weather and my favorite plaid blanket scarf has already been worn once!  It's a blustery fall day outside as I write.  Perfectly chilly and cloudy enough the vivid colors that are beginning to show have a lovely blue-gray sky to set them off.  It's dark enough for the candles to be lit inside!

I have a few of my windows open, and I can hear the slightly crunchy trees blowing in the wind with the occasional thud of hickory nuts and acorns falling to the ground.  We're pretty much surrounded by large, majestic trees on our property so naturally we have a fall landscape all around with colorful leaves, acorns and squirreling scurrying!  We've been seeing deer in our meadow almost every day and it delights our family! There are several sweet young ones that come out with their mama, and our children are delighted to see them!  Our kids are so cute....  When they spot a deer, they'll go outside quietly and hide behind trees and peer around to spy on the deer eating acorns or munching our grass.  That lasts long enough until one of the kids giggles themselves out of their hiding spots and the little deer family runs back into the woods.  It's really adorable to watch!  Their excitement for the small things in life is contagious!

Right now I have beautiful worship music playing that is the set list for our worship team practice tonight.  If you didn't know, my husband and I are very involved with the worship at church, and we love it!  We're are one of the worship leaders there, and he also plays bass guitar. Music has been one of the foundational things in our relationship since day one. Being a part of the worship team is one of the greatest blessings in my life.  I am grateful to serve the Lord in this way, but it's what I've known I've been called to do since I was a teenager!  In January of this year, that calling came to pass as our pastor asked us to be one of the worship leaders! (I could tell you so much surrounding that one thing, alone..)  Tonight I'm singing backup and look forward to what is always a nice interlude mid-week as we come together to practice and focus on the music the Lord has set on our hearts for the upcoming Sunday.

It's commitment to be in ministry, but it is so very worth the time and prayer put into it!  God is stretching me and teaching me as I  learn more and hopefully continue to improve my skill.  I seek God and those who "go before me" for wisdom so that I can lead the team and church in not only beautiful music, but an authentic experience with God!! 

I am humbled by the process. 

I've been singing for God in church since I was 8 years old.  I recognize that He gave me my singing voice (I inherited from Mom) and I told him as a girl that I would always use it to glorify and honor Him alone.  He gives us talents and gifts so we can use them in some capacity for Him! One of my favorite things to do is go with the body of Christ into the presence of the Lord.  Even when I don't "feel" like it, once I start singing those words of adoration to Him, I feel his presence so close to me.  Almighty God the Creator and Healer and Savior of the world is Father and Friend and Counselor. Wow!  We are all called to worship Him....God created us to worship Him and to know Him intimately!  I could go on and on and on about this, but ultimately spending time with God in worship leaves me more joyful and at peace than anything else on earth, and so I love sharing that with my church.  Also, that's why I had to let you in on that part of my life! :) 

This coming weekend my husband and I celebrate our 12 wedding anniversary!  He is my favorite person on the planet and I can't believe it's been 12 years since we walked out of the candlelit church to a ringing bell that would be the beginning of an entire life hand in hand.  I love him so much and being married is the best earthly thing besides my children that has happened to me!!!  We have known each other now for 24 years, sweethearts in grade school and friends thereafter.  When he became my boyfriend our Junior year of high school, we both knew that we knew we were meant for each other as husband and wife. We had what most would call a bold or fierce love so early on to be just 17 years old and to declare marriage in our future, but we meant it with all of our hearts. During all the trials or changes that happened over the following 3 years before our wedding, we never once even thought about breaking up or even taking a break of any kind, if anything we became all the more committed.  We knew that in marriage a break-up wouldn't be an option, so why do it when dating because we would get married anyways, period!!  I remember getting a few chuckles after just after he became my boyfriend and when I told some people that we were getting married one day.  I guess most people who talk like sound immature, but I knew we had a strong love for one another and believed God orchestrated our relationship from the start!

The fierce love we established even before our wedding carried into our marriage, and it's that kind of commitment to one another that has gotten us through the hardest and most difficult times we've ever faced in our lives.  That kind of fierce love isn't comes from the having Jesus Christ in the middle of our relationship.  He IS our fierce LOVE, and He has given us that kind of love in our marriage to brave the storms and uncertainties of life together.  Decade after decade. 

We've experienced trials over the past 10 years or so that I have felt completely at a loss... that have been so terrible or unexpected ... I felt as though Heath and I were in a the real life fiery furnace.  A furnace just like In Daniel 3 when the king threw the three Israelite boys in, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  It was said in the Bible it was heated up "seven times hotter than usual" . They were thrown in for obeying God instead of him.  The miracle of it all is they came out ALIVE and not even a hair singed on their head. This was from a furnace big enough to hold people!  It was because God sent an angel in there for their protection.  It was God that protected them!! That extra hot furnace that the Israelites came out unharmed burned up very guards that threw them in, just from them getting too close to it.

In God's goodness and mercy, since we are His children and have asked God to be the center of our marriage from the beginning, my husband and I too have survived a fiery furnace.  We've come out of what I've considered a furnace of trials that many couples would not have been able to survive on the other side.   Our "secret" is no secret, because I want everyone to know and I will cry it out from the rooftops! 

It's simply, Jesus.  Jesus is the answer!

I love talking about our anniversary because I love Heath! I honestly can say I love him more now than ever, because with God, what the fire leaves after wards is refined and more beautiful than before!  We aren't perfect, our story isn't perfect, but it is our great adventure that we are just 12 chapters in.  It's exciting to think about what will unfold this next year in our family!

I hope that I have left you with some beauty and inspiration here, and more insight into my life.  I really do appreciate every one of my readers and I pray that all is well with you, too! I love receiving emails from you, so if you ever want to talk especially if I'm not writing as much, I would be delighted to get an email from you! (My email address is in the side bar.)

Have a joy filled Autumn day and remember if you have a need go to God with it! He is near and loves you so much!

Friday, June 24, 2016

*Favorite* Family Fudge Pie

As a self-proclaimed chocolateholic family, this fudge pie is the pie to end all fudge pies!  This is seriously delicious.

The baker? .... my husband!  He turned out this perfect chocolate delight one lazy Sunday afternoon between church services when I mentioned to him how "I would just LOVE some chocolate and coffee right now" as we were relaxing.  I heard some littleclanging and rustling in the kitchen and in a matter of 20 minutes he had a gorgeous pie in the oven!! 

I am so blessed to call this man mine!!!

He dug up this fudge pie recipe card we've had for probably a decade or more in my recipe box, but I can't tell you where it came from because I have no idea.  This is a classic fudge pie, not to be confused with chocolate meringue or a brownie pie.  It has a deeply rich center and baked in a pie crust. 

I'll let you in on one of our favorite desserts here... It's this very fudge pie served with a scoop of coffee ice cream, dollup of homemade whipped cream, and chocolate or caramel syrup drizzled all over each piece for an over the top delicious family recipe we endearingly call the "Heath-sinker" after a Pattis 1800 Settlement pie recipe we love. Now that is something to share with your best of people!

This wonderful Sunday he served it up hot from the oven with whipped cream and some favorite dark roast coffee.  Perfection!

The unexpected afternoon nosh definitely hit the spot for my craving and was made for one happy wife!  We watched a good Amazon Prime original show called Doctor Thorne while the kids napped.  It made for a pretty perfect Sunday!

Randomly baking a pie for me..... well to us, that says LOVE.  Almost 12 years married, and I have a man who is just as fun now as ever! 

And just as cute!!!

Just look at the deliciousness going on. Just beautiful!  The pie, too. ;))

That fudge!  Don't you want the recipe???

Here you go.

Family Fudge Pie

3/4 c. butter
3- 1oz. chocolate squares
3 eggs
1 1/2c. sugar
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. rea; vanilla extract
3/4 c. chopped pecans, toasted
(Roast pecans in a single layer on 350 for 7-8 minutes, stirring once, til toasted and fragrant.)
1 Pie crust (I use the refrigerated roll out.)

Preheat oven to 350. 

Melt butter and chocolate together in saucepan on low heat.

Beat the eggs well at medium speed for 5 minutes with an electric or stand mixer. 
Gradually add sugar til blended.  Gradually add chocolate mixture, flour, and vanilla beating wil blended.  Stir in the pecans. 

Pour mixture into pie plate that is prepared with a crust.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the center is firm. I personally recommend eating while still warm, but that's how I role.

You are so welcome!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Honoring Mom

This past Saturday evening I decided to celebrate Mother's Day early with my family.  It was a beautiful night outside and a lovely time together as we honored Mom with some of my favorite homemade Mexican fare!

The table was set simply with feminine details that I thought Mom would appreciate like using my country rose china along with my everyday white dinner plates and glasses.  I found some pretty paper napkins to add color and simplify the clean up. 

For the centerpiece of the table I used a burlap runner that I folded in a bit, with a round wooden board as a base for a simple heirloom peony arrangement straight from our flower bed!  Peonies smell so good and the large flowers are stunning! I sent Mom and my sister home with one each to enjoy for the next few days. 

The views are so pretty out of our windows, so it's easy to look past the table and into the green yard beyond.  Last year when we moved into this house we changed out many of the light fixtures in this home including the one over the table.  I wanted to find a light that virtually disappeared so it wouldn't detract from the windows, and I think we achieved that when we ordered this one from Birch Lane after seeing a similar one on Fixer Upper (our favorite show!).  We love the simple elegance of the shape and the Edison light bulb that we have in it.  It's a favorite in my kitchen!

Stealing a kiss!

Here's a candid picture showing a mom's job is never done.  I appreciate my own mom soooo much more now that I'm one myself! 

The afternoon sun filled the kitchen as I was finishing up the meal.  I made some chicken fajitas with Cuban black beans, buttered lime rice, roasted corn and avocado salad, and homemade guacamole with chips!

Mom is the one who taught me that cooking for your family is more than just preparing food, but it's showing love to those around your table... making them feel nurtured and feeding their bodies with the rhythm of sitting around the table every night! I still absolutely love it when we're in each other's kitchen and we can cook together!!  We're constantly sharing recipes or new tips and tricks we've discovered in the kitchen!  She gave me this apron I have one about 5 years ago at Easter and has given me most of my favorite ones. She wears an apron almost everyday while cooking.

Mom is so very appreciative of my food and cooking as I am hers.  With us both being moms now, like I said before, we have a better appreciation and understanding of all that we do for our families and our homes. 

Many weeks I've found myself calling her or texting her to pray for me as I need wisdom in the newest struggle in parenthood or wondering if she ever felt like she would never again catch up on laundry when we were kids.  It's those real moments as an adult (especially as a wife and mother) where I realize I need mom now as much as I ever have!

We call ourselves 3 peas in a pod, because my sister, mom and I are so much alike!

This lovely lady has shaped so much of who I am from the time I was their tiny first born baby in her arms. 32 years of life and I've learned a thing or two along the way!

So much of the content I have on my blog from the recipes, the home décor, the love of beauty, talent of singing, and especially my love and passion for Jesus and my family has been encouraged and inspired by Mom!!! 

As I look back she and Papa have cheered me on in every stage of life from the second I thought I was a soccer player in middle school (ha) to the first time I ever lead worship at church and every time since I can honestly say they've prayed and encouraged me along the way. 

I want to honor Mom for who she is to me!

I only hope one day my children will be able to feel half the love and appreciation for me that I do for my wonderful mom! 

Just the way Granny (her mom) passed down to her and she passed down to me, I want to carry down the legacy of love for the next generations to look back and see that this family heritage was built on learning from each other and leaning on God one prayerful day at time!!!

"Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise."  Proverbs 31:31

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Summertime Roasted Corn with Avocado Salad

I'm excited to share with you a recipe from one of my newest cookbooks that I'm a huge fan of already!  First thing is first, this cookbook is fantastic.  It's called Seasons in the South and it's by a Georgia gal name Ginny McCormack.

I've fallen in love with how she almost tells a story through food!  The recipes are tried and truly Southern, and they're divided into the 4 seasons and by meal or occasions, which makes it more enjoyable to look through.  I'm a seasonal cook, and I've always appreciated the different seasons so it is delightful to find a cookbook like this one that divides the recipes that way!  The pictures are extraordinary in here.  Each spread has a large photo that's beautifully capturing the essence of the season through scenery, table-scapes, and the prepared recipe.

The cookbook is filled with bits of stories or quotes that apply to that particular season or the meal the recipe is in. It's really a delight to look through!

This is in no way a paid endorsement, but I want to pass my favorites along to you all.  This cookbook is definitely a favorite!

This roasted corn salad comes from the summer section of the book, and it is every bit as tasty as it sounds!  I made it for the very first time tonight, and I can honestly say my pictures don't do the flavor justice... It's sooo delicious!

Our son even asked for seconds.  For a salad!!
This dish is easy to put together and has ingredients in it that nod to a summertime picnic "on the grounds", as my family would say.  The corn is roasted in the oven and couldn't be simpler to prepare, but you can certainly grill it to take the flavor one step further.  There's something about the toasted flavor from the fresh corn alongside the spicy onion, bright tomato and creamy avocado that whisks you away to a tropical beach along the Mayan Riviera! The vinaigrette with citrus and spice isn't heavy at all but enhances all the flavors.

Get out some extra lemon and lime and make some delicious sweet tea or fresh lemonade to sip as you chop up the salad on these sun drenched evenings.  Fire up the grill and put on some steak, chicken or even fish tacos would be decadent with this on top!! I hope this will become your new favorite summer salad, I know it will be mine!

Roasted Corn with Avocado Salad
Adapted from: Seasons in the South

6 ears corn, husks removed
olive oil for brushing
3c. grape tomatoes
1/2c. red onion, chopped (I had Vidalia so that's what I used.)
1/ pepper, chopped
1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into small chunks
1/2c. fresh cilantro (I used flat leave parsley)
8 oz. feta cheese (I omitted this particular time.)

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small bowl whisk together vinaigrette ingredients. Set aside.

Brush ears of corn with oil.  Place them on a baking sheet (I used a cast iron skillet.)and roast for about 30 minutes until they begin to brown. Line the pan with foil for easier clean up. I turned them a couple times. Allow to cool a bit before removing corn from the ears with a sharp knife.

In a mixing bowl, combine corn and all remaining ingredients.  Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate.

3/4 c. (extra virgin) olive oil
4 Tbsp. lime juice (I just had lemons so I used lemon juice.)
2 tsp. ground cumin
11/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper

Makes 8 servings

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Spring Decor & the Essence of Making a Home

Good morning and Happy May! 

I LOVE the month of May.  It's up there with October for me.

The beautiful, warm, spring weather that has made the grass come back and thicken up and the trees get their youthful green back to them is just my cup of tea... or coffee is more like it.  

Gorgeous flowers in their array of colors are coming back in my gardens and we've filled most of our pots with pretty annuals to adorn the otherwise stark patios on either side of the house.  

The hydrangeas are taking off and should start to bloom later this month, and I have about 12 (twelve!) peony plants that have stolen my heart!  The smell of those is captivating!

I'm always inspired to freshen up inside my house and brighten things up a bit. Putting away the plaids of winter and getting out my spring décor. 

Speaking of home décor, I wanted to show you what came in the mail this week!  We ordered some curtains for one of our long windows in the kitchen. My kitchen is filled with windows showcasing the views of our property and that's one of the reasons we were attracted to this house, but there are evenings at suppertime when the bursting sunset kindly blinds our eyes as we sit to eat.  Not fun.  So I found some perfectly cheery yellow buffalo check curtains from Country Curtains, and I am loving them!

Note that these kitchen pictures were taken on Monday and it was a dreary kind of day outside, so I didn't have the help of natural sunlight.

My mom and I have always liked the look of buffalo checks.  I think it has a very classic Southern feel and that's exactly what I was going for.  Mom has these exact curtains in the red buffalo check in her dining room, and I've always liked the way they hang and look adorning the window. I'm so pleased with the way they turned out in our kitchen! 

With the cream color on the walls the yellow curtains adds a sunny pop of color, and they really compliment the red accents I have.  My favorite color is red so I have many red accents and that's one reason I chose the yellow (technically they call it gold in the catalog), because I was afraid the red would compete too much.  I also like the classic pattern with out subway tile back splash. 

As you know, I don't have a strict "style" that I adhere too, but I do love farmhouse meets Southern.  

I've reread this last night and I was thinking about my "style" some more. I use that term loosely.  It's hard to even say, because instead of thinking sooo much about one style throughout the house I think of how I want that particular space to feel, if that makes sense.  Everything ends up working together I think, but it's probably not anything a designer would put together; because my home is personal reflection of us and and tells our story!

I just want to put things inside my house that please me and make a house a cozy place for us!  Those unique kind of finds, like the ones I have hanging here.  I LOVE collecting things from travels and "hole-in-the-wall" places we visit.  Layering things together add personality and character to a space.

This vintage strawberry tray came from a peddlers-antique mall in Louisville.  It's a favorite I pull out every spring and summer!  The cookbook is something my husband bought me last summer when we visited this very bakery -- The Back in the Day Bakery -- in Savannah, GA.  One of our favorite places to vacation is staying at a cottage on Tybee Island and strolling along the Spanish moss draped live oak tree-lined squares of the old city of Savannah!!!  It's like heaven on earth to us!  If you ever go to there, please do yourself a favorite and visit this delicious bakery!  It will be a special place to remember, and this cookbook has most of their recipes so it helps me to remember that very special morning all the time.

My husband most recently surprised me with this apron at beautiful shop at a winery in Southern Illinois.  The food and atmosphere at the restaurant is wonderful, but this shop was filled with unique finds!

I spotted this apron that used to be a skirt, and I just fell in love with the pattern and colors.  I knew it would be lovely in our kitchen, and so my husband surprised me by buying it for me!  (He's so much fun!!)  I think it's adorable hanging here next to the curtains.

Let me show you a few more little things here and there around my kitchen. My parents gave me this chalkboard at Christmas.  I enjoy being able to write messages or scriptures or songs to fill our soul with beauty and inspiration.

My favorite salt and pepper shakers that look like 2 love birds in a nest, a precious gift from my sister. 

This is how I keep my seasonal coffee mugs!  I love how I can display them all and it feels that much more special to choose one each morning to drink from. I collect mugs and use them like nothing else in the house... we are big time coffee drinkers!


Table is set for supper with my cornflower blue floral china and simple yellow cloth napkins. Store bought rotisserie chicken with smashed potatoes and green beans is the menu.  The yard looks vividly Irish green, doesn't it? Must be all the rain we've gotten. 

At last the sun decided to show up at least for a few moments, so I tried to capture it streaming in!

Home is what you make it. 

It really doesn't matter the size or the style or the views.  We've had almost all of this furniture and décor in a small 1,000 square foot house in the middle of a prairie field, a carriage house apartment over a friend's garage, and even a cape cod cottage in the city that had absolutely no view except for the next house about 30 feet away. 

It doesn't matter! I've always been determined to make a home, even since I lived in our first home as a married couple which was "college courts -- married housing" at the university that was nearly a one room 500 square foot apartment that literally hasn't changed one iota since it was built in the 1950s -- think post--nuclear fallout shelter, cinder block walls, etc.  I laid down colorful rugs over the cold industrial tile and instead of using the harsh fluorescent lights, I set out warm lamps in every space. I set my table for dinner each night, lit candles and put on music we enjoyed, and I made a home out of that sterile place!  Now we look back on those honeymoon days of marriage in our tiny place fondly! 

Home making is in the food we prepare and the coming together almost every night to the same table for supper.  It's the beautiful practice of breaking bread together, be it family or friends.

Home making is being resourceful. Instead of paying for an expensive fresh flower arrangement, snip branches from blooming trees or bushes like this red bud and forsythia.  Another favorite is hydrangea bushes or whatever lovely thing blooms outside in your yard.  Whether it's the homemade desserts or the deli's rotisserie chicken, the secret is in whatever brings the family together!

Homemaking invigorates the senses.  Candles, music, soft blankets, warm bread in the oven, delicious smelling hand soap. 

It's not fancy things. 

You can get an creative as you like, but it doesn't have to be pricey!  Go to the dollar store and pick up what you need, or get out your nicest gifts.  Actually burn that $25 dollar votive that smells like a dream when you're reading a book or you have a family dinner!  It's worth it.

Home making is creating an atmosphere!  Get an inexpensive chalkboard and paint the edges if you like, but there you can write on it something to inspire your family.  Put words in your home that mean something to you and that bring life! That's usually why I write a Bible verse, or lyrics from a worship song.  I have a couple chalkboards around the house for this reason.

Home making is personal.  Put your own personality in your home and then own it! It's your unique style that makes your home interesting and not straight out of a showcase.  I like unique so this is something that comes easy for me.

Home making is not perfection!  I live with a real family and we do life the way everybody else does! Lately I've been the hot mess mama just trying to finish homework in these last few weeks of school.  I've found myself running late almost everywhere I go and yes, I forget to throw out the not-so-fresh flowers before they get smelly! 

I've decided relationships in my life, people in my life, come before home décor! 

So that may look like taking the Christmas tree down a couple weeks late, not scrubbing the bathtubs every week, or having take-out instead of homemade meals...but home making is not perfection, so give yourself some grace!!

You should be proud of where you live. If you aren't, think of simple changes you can make and start with just one today.  It requires little resources, but just thoughtfulness and your own creativity. 

I just showed you a few of my favorite things give me bits of joy in my home, now what's some of yours?  How do you make your home a place your family enjoys?