Monday, May 31, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake Cake = Yummmmmmmmm

(photo from/by The Pioneer Woman)

Thanks to facebook my husband reconnected with an old high school friend.  He and his family came for dinner the other night. What a delight!  We had a wonderful visit.
My husband was blessed to go to a small Christian school his entire life and his friends....well they are a treasure!  We had another in town a few weeks ago.  With both, it's been such a blessing to sit around chatting about mission work, Bible class curriculums, homeschooling, our Christian walk, struggles, etc  When chatting, my husband and his friend that came this weekend didn't think they'd seen each other since graduating high school, yet it took one conversation to realize they still had tons in common and were in similar places in their lives and desires moving forward!  I look forward to getting to spending more time with this precious family in the future!!

  As is the usual routine before having guests, I looked around the internet for a  good recipe.  I wanted something relatively easy, and summery...and of course delicious.  
We were doing the typical Memorial Day weekend cook-out.  So I also needed something that paired well with burgers, etc.  Oh and with the 6 kids that would be here,  I wanted something kid friendly too!
After being a bit overwhelmed by all the selections on Recipezaar, I headed over to The Pioneer Woman.  You just can't go wrong I don't think with her recipes!!  Sure enough, it's one of our new favorites.  I didn't have time to get any pictures of mine, we were rushed and running a bit behind and was gone.  
But while the strawberries are still in season, RUN....
get some berries, and then make this cake.  It's even better the next day after being in the fridge and all the juices soaking through the cake.  But's super rich!! 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A quote in the meantime

Our days have been filled with schoolwork, yardwork, testing and play. Leaving very little time for blogging or even blog reading.  But I've got some yummy recipes to share soon, til then....

 from Charlotte Mason:
"The atmosphere in which a child gathers his unconscious ideas of right living emanates from his parents.  Every look of gentleness and tone of reverence, every word of kindness and act of help, passes into the thought environment, the very atmosphere which the child breathes; he does not think of these things, may never think of them, but all his life long they excite that vague appetency...toward things sordid or things lovely, things earthly or divine"

one of my favorite pictures from our trip to the High the other day.  Hopefully we'll get
back in the next week or so to wander around some more.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So this year we planted a vegetable garden.  Our goal was small....but we wanted to use heirloom seeds and do it organically.  I've done tomatoes and a few other things before and we have herbs and some fruits, but a full fledged garden is a new experience. We got the seeds from Seed Savers , followed the Square Foot Gardener method and were determined to keep it relatively small and simple this first year. Our one goal....grow enough tomatoes to can a bunch of sauces and pastes for the year....the rest would be for fun.

Well guess what? Everything else is growing pretty well (this is the green beans a couple weeks ago) EXCEPT the tomatoes.  Sigh.....and there are LOTS of tomato plants.

Have I ever mentioned I have a totally black thumb??  Seriously talent for growing at all.  But I THINK I've figured out the problem. Thanks to a friend from church that owns a local organic farm and from lots of reading online.  One site I found thanks to Homestead Revival  is
I think we had a nitrogen deficiency and a over-loved issue!!  So I added a bit of nitrogen this weekend and I'm leaving them alone to fend for themselves a bit.  They've already started to green up.  now if the soil would just heat up and we'd stop having cool weather than I think they MIGHT take off!!  MIGHT.....remember that horrid black thumb...who knows??
They aren't dead yet, just sort of stopped growing.

But realistically, the odds are not necessarily in their favor?!!  

The best part of the veggie garden is enjoying it with my amazing hubby.
Mornings you'll often find us, coffee mug in hand, wandering around the veggie beds discussing what's growing well, what's not, etc. what we will do differently in the future, etc  Evenings....same thing.
Mid day...same thing.  ha ha!!  We are enjoying it....together!!  So if nothing lives or produces we will still have enjoyed it...and won't give up!

NOTE: please excuse the hideous yard in the background.  our current project is that we tilled up our entire backyard, put down tons of topsoil, tilled it in, picked up loads and loads of rocks and the sod will be delivered TOMORROW and yes we're laying it ourselves!! Hopefully by next summer I'll have a lush backyard!!
We've had all sorts of issues with seed in the backyard (our front was sodded when we built), so we just decided to bite the bullet and go with sod and redo the soil from the lousy job our builder did and do it right!!   My sweet neighbor  brought over this cool book the other day on organic lawn care.  It's a MUCH easier read than any other's I've looked at (and bored of) and has some really interesting tricks.  I'm going to hopefully be giving one a try in the next few days.  More on that to come......

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Field Trip

Today we took a field trip to the High Museum of Art.  We had a great time....


okay so John Mark wasn't too much into the curved canvases.  
But hey, maybe we got some culture today....


but the truth of the matter is, some of the time the kids said "Why is that ART?"  I would be thinking the same thing.  I know I know...bad uncultured Mommy! 
Perhaps not what the artist had intended for this piece, but we really liked it!

Makin' Memories

A few years ago my parents stopped getting gifts for my kids for their b'days.  Instead they started taking them on birthday outings or trips.  
Each year the birthday child is given a few options to choose from for their birthday trip.  
This year John Mark chose to go to Cumberland Caverns in McMinnville, TN.  They stayed the night at Fall Creek Falls Inn and wandered around Fall Creek Falls some before going to the Cave.  
They had a fabulous time....even better, they made more amazing memories!!!
(I grabbed some of Mother's pictures from facebook...hope she doesn't mind)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We picked these juicy yummy fruits the other day

mixed them with some organic sugar and cooked and cooked and cooked them....
and cooked them some more.

 I was testing a new jam recipe, and didn't want to get too many before trying it out. But now we'll be going back for more!!  
I made the jam the old fashioned way without packaged pectin. 
We're very pleased with it.  It's softer than if I'd added pectin, but oh so yummy!!
 I learned that berries with a hint of green at the tip contain more pectin.
So be sure to pick some of those to help your jelly set up if you aren't adding in pectin.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

yesterday I was talking to a friend whose husband every year on Mother's day leaves and goes to his Mom's for Mother's day, leaving her with their 3 kids.  
I thought....goodness me, at least take the kids with you so your wife gets a break
 a few of us just gawked at him.
But you know what?  The more I thought on that last night I thought
How awesome he wants to spend some time with his Mommy to give her honor for what she did for him and to spend some quality time with her!!
What a tribute to that Mom and what a great example for his sons!!
Why is it I expect a break for Mother's Day??
I get that we Mom's do a lot and some down time is nice.
Don't get me wrong.  
But I also realize how much some others out there that I love dearly would LOVE to be a Mommy and would be ever so willing and thankful to have little ones to do the laundry for on Mother's day  
or to get up and fix breakfast for, 
wash the dishes for, 
clean up after....on Mother's day.  
Those that want to BE A MOMMY!!
The world teaches us it should be a day our family gives us a break....a day for ME!

But I'm thinking it's a day for ME in a different way maybe

...for ME to sit back and realize how amazing I have it.  
For ME to be thankful that I have little ones in my home whose laundry I get to wash.
for ME to be thankful for each and every laugh I share with them
for ME to be thankful and realize just what a gift it is to wash their dishes and make their meals.
for ME to be thankful for the man that I married who helped me create these amazing beings.
I can remember years ago as a child getting a gift from my Mother on mother's day.  
I knew that she said it was in honor of us making her a Mother....but I didn't fully get it then.
But I'm getting it Mom....slowly but surely.  

Because my reality is I'm SO thankful to be the Mommy to these two precious ones.  
I hope next year I remember that I want it to be
about ME giving GOD THE GLORY for gifting me with these two!!  

(although I do LOVE my new juicer!)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Bloomin' here in Georgia

If this bit of loveliness can bloom in my weed ridden, black thumb owned, rocky clay soil filled backyard....
I'm thinkin' there's hope for me in this world!

On my friend LAURA'S blog someone commented the other day 
"what would life be like if everyone bloomed 
where they were planted?"

What a lovely thought.  

I mean really....why not??

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tennessee Pride - Good Ole Rocky Top!!

Below the video is a great article about what's going on and how Tennessee is handling it. I realize it's rather lengthy, but it's really worth it!!!! I love Tennessee!!



by Brent High

On May 1st and 2nd of 2010 a historic amount of rain, as much as 17 inches, fell on middle Tennessee and the city of Nashville in less than 48 hours. Historians are using terms like “thousand year flood” to describe what took place here. The Cumberland River, Nashville’s main waterway, crested at just over 51 feet, flooding iconic structures including the Grand Ole Opry, LP Field and Bridgestone Arena where the Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators play, Country Music Hall of Fame and the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center. The water rose so much, so fast and in places water has never been seen that thousands had to be rescued by boat. Dozens lost their lives. Thousands of homeowners lost everything they had. Thousands more are now trying to salvage what’s left. Most had no flood insurance because before May 1st they didn’t need it where they lived. Early estimates are that the damage will top $1 billion and this storm will go down as the most devastating non-hurricane event in American history.

This is Tennessee.

It’s Monday, May 3rd. The rain has stopped, finally. What happens next shouldn’t come as a surprise. Almost instinctively, after a long night of restlessness, volunteers spring into action. It’s in their blood. They’ve been trained to do so by their parents and grandparents. From Waverly to Cookeville, Winchester to Cross Plains and in the capital city of Nashville the sights and sounds are the same.

Without being asked, fishermen launch their boats into the muddy soup, joining the rescue efforts. Business owners and supervisors tell their employees to take the day off and jump in and help wherever they can. Neighbors, many of whom helped empty entire houses in brigade fashion the night before, transition into cleanup mode. Sump pumps and generators whirr. Drywall, carpet and ruined floors are ripped out. Elderly ladies gather at the church to make lunches for workers. Teenagers distribute bottled water. Pickup trucks, trailers and storage units are loaded with what could be salvaged. Photos and documents are spread out in the sun to dry. Wads of $20 bills are slid into pockets of those affected. Checks are written. Hugs are given. Prayers are said. Tears are shed.

This is Tennessee.

Almost 200 years ago Tennessee first earned the nickname “Volunteer State.” In 1812 More than 2,000 Tennesseans volunteered to fight for Andrew Jackson and were the main part of Jackson’s army that destroyed the British three years later in the Battle of New Orleans. A generation later the U. S. Secretary of War asked Tennessee for 2,800 soldiers to fight a war against Mexico. 30,000 volunteered.

This is a state where faith comes first. We don’t ask why. We know there is a reason and look forward to it being revealed. We are guided by scriptures such as Philippians 2:3-5 which says:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus.”

Family is a focus, not an afterthought. Don’t bother trying to do business with us the week of Christmas or July 4th. We’ll be with family. When our kids have a school play we will be there. We throw big birthday parties. We teach our kids right from wrong and aren’t afraid to give them a whippin’ when they need it.

Here we say “Yes ma’am” and “No ma’am.” We try to leave a place better than we found it. We put our hand over our heart when the national anthem is played. We pull over on the side of the road when funeral processions pass on the other side.

We are savvy business people. We are farmers. We are teachers.

We drink Coke here. We like gravy with our biscuits and potatoes.

We are serious about our sports. We keep score in little league and we still have all-star teams and MVP trophies.

We are givers.

You won’t hear us wailing about where the federal government and insurance companies were in all of this. We’ll get by just fine without them.

Right now we have a lot to deal with here in our backyard. We will handle it with dignity and class. We will sacrifice for each other in ways that are unfathomable to most. We will stand together. We will stand tall. We will come out of this stronger than we were before it.

One day in the not too distant future a hurricane, tornado, fire, flood or other unspeakable disaster will strike your community. As you struggle to put the pieces back together we will be there.

We will volunteer.

We are Tennesseans.

This is Tennessee.

Brent High, 36, is a lifelong Tennessean from Nashville. He serves as Assistant Director of Athletics for External Affairs at Lipscomb University


here's what I know is an organization my family has been involved with for many years. My Grandfather loved volunteering for them at their warehouse in Nashville. They are an amazing organization!! is a church where quite a few friends attend. I love love love their idea of collecting gift cards to hand out to flood victims!! The address to send them to is on the first page of their website!

I'm sure would put donations to good use as well. 
The two above I just know of that are located in Nashville and have been working very hard since day one!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


No matter where we go, we're rarely without our silly bandz.  
Well the kids aren't anyway.

Oh why didn't I think to shape the old swatch bracelets into all sorts of animal shapes, etc 
and sell them for $5 a pack??  

Kudos to whomever marketed those 'silly' things....genius shear genius!!  

look closely and notice all 3 kids in this pictures have them on.

National Day of Prayer

So today the 6th of May 2010 is the National Day of Prayer.
Among the many things on my prayer list today (and not just today) is all those hurting in Nashville, TN
The pictures are disturbing.  It's just so so sad!
But more sad is that so many people don't know about it because it's not been at the forefront of news coverage nationally.
So if you didn't know to....please stop and say a prayer.  Here's why:

Above is my Aunt's neighborhood in Bellevue, TN (not sure of where the picture came from...I think The Tennessean).  Amazingly, hers was one of just a handful (truly just about 4-5 out of hundreds) of condo units that did not go under water.  But now she's left with destruction all around her.
We are thankful that no on in our family completely lost their property.  In the grand scheme of things their damage was all quite minor.  But yet SO many are not that way.  The entire city of N'ville in fact is not that way.  Their symphony hall, football stadium, Grand Ole Opry House, Opryland hotel, Country Music hall of fame, etc etc....all took on water....TONS of water. It will be a long road to recovery for a city that I love so dearly!!
My entire family is from N'ville.  Both of my parents grew up there.  My Mother went to Lipscomb University (and their high school too for that matter).  Nashville is where my parents met and where their family's still live along with my sister and one of my husband's sisters.  It's a great city!!

Here's just some of what my loved ones have been dealing with (pictures by my sister and her husband and taken from facebook):
my brother in law bailing out the basement of their lovely home during the rains

Their church set up a temporary shelter in their gym for a nursing home to evacuate to.  Their church members helped set it up and helped out, as they were able, to serve the patients and the nurses and staff tending to them.

Here's a picture of the downtown area after the rains ceased...picture found here

So today on this National Day of prayer I hope you will include the residents of Tennessee as they move into starting to begin recovery from this horrific disaster!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New Life is popping up all over my yard.  We went with the Square Foot Gardener Method of vegetable gardening for ease of dealing with our rocky thick clay soil.
And we're having great results!!  We've got Squash, Zucchini, carrots, peas, beans, tomatoes, chamomile, cucumbers, lettuce, etc going out there.  In addition to our Strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries and herb garden.
My sister just passed on some asparagus as well so we'll have that in a few years too!  Hooray!!
I love having a feast out my back door!
I also LOVE the book The Backyard Homestead because it finally inspired my precious husband and helped him realize that we really could grow food in our little "postage stamp" sized backyard, now he's having a ball gardening!  However he's also now wanting to have a rabbit hutch of fluffy little adorable rabbits to have to slaughter and eat.  yeah I'm all for being self-sustaining.  But I have limits.  I'm thinking rabbits are outside of the them!!  (even if they are yummy to eat)
(John Mark picking some strawberries from the yard for a b'fast treat)

It's berry picking time!! Which means it's jam making time!  These are in our very own yard.  But there aren't enough out there for jam, just a good amount for snacking.  So today we are off to a local insecticide free strawberry farm.  So later today you can find me in my kitchen, apron on (of course) stirring a hot pot of Strawberry goo into deliciousness to last all year long!! 
 It's going to be a WONDERFUL day!!!