Friday, December 11, 2009

Last year's Advent Conspiracy video was shared all over the web. If you didn't see it, click here. This year they have a new one. Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When we first moved in, there was nothing in the living room until we dragged down a pink sofa that was hiding upstairs in a bedroom.

For a few months, our living room stayed that way - toys in the corner and a big, pink sofa. Then my mom came to visit and my aunt donated fabric and the big, pink sofa turned into a child-friendly, eye-friendly brown.

Finally, as we approach our one year anniversary of living here, the living room is complete (in furniture.. not decorations).

A bookshelf... a couple of chairs... a toy shelf...

... some end tables... lots of plants... a few pictures... candles...

... and it is starting to feel homey and 'ours'.

There is still a bit to do. More books for the bookshelf (most of ours are upstairs), a few more pictures on the wall, a few more plants, perhaps. But, at least I feel like we have a warm, welcoming living room to enjoy for ourselves and to share with others.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Remember this room.

It has changed.

My very make-shift desk....

... has become a wonderful workspace.

After nearly a year of living here, our house is finally starting to feel "put together." Thanks to IKEA, Ebay, Freecycle and friends for making our house feel homey. Hopefully I can post pictures of our living room in the not-too-distant future.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Last week was a hard week for me. Both my kids were sick. A simple sentence which doesn't convey the loss of sleep, the hours of comforting, the struggles to not worry, the cabin fever, the repeated wiping of snotty noses and laying awake in bed listening to rasping coughs.

I really struggled with wanting to wish it all away; wanting to return to my "comfortable" life. Obviously, for my children's sakes, I wanted them to be better, but much more selfishly, for MY sake, I wanted them to be better, too. God kept bringing to mind again and again that He is doing a work of sanctification in my life and it is these times of difficulty - much more than the times of ease - which take me beyond my limits and teach me to rely on Him. I shouldn't be so quick to wish them away.

Many times in the past week I have been reminded that life - TRUE LIFE - is dying to myself.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

This verse always gives me mental images of stories from communist China or Russia where believers literally lost their lives for the gospel and for their fellow Christian. It sounds so noble and exceptional. And yet, this is not a call to that one, special occasion, but rather a calling for our daily lives.... dying to our wants, even our needs, for those around us. What better training ground do I have than motherhood?

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1.

What an amazing perspective when I can see that my acts of nursing and comforting my children are acts of worship to an Almighty God. As I go through this often painful process of learning to give up ME, I gain HIM.

photo from

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lindsay Edmonds over at Passionate Homemaking is hosting a Crockpot Carnival. Her goal is to share nourishing crockpot meals to help out women in the busy seasons of life. I thought I would post one of my favorite soups that can easily be turned into crockpot fare. It is loaded with spices and nutrients.

Spicy Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup (this recipe is taken from

1 tsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 lb. chicken, cooked and shredded/cubed
1 can diced tomatoes (or 2-4 chopped tomatoes)
2+ c. chicken broth
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 c. frozen corn
1 can kidney beans (or 1-2 c. cooked)
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. water

Stir-fry onions and garlic in oil. Throw into crockpot with remaining ingredients except the final two. Cook until sweet potatoes are tender (2-4 hours on high; 4-8 hours on low - depending on your crockpot). Combine the flour and water and stir into the soup. Best served with chopped cilantro, lemon/lime slices and sour cream.

Photography by Docswife

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm learning more and more about the seasons of life - a natural occurrence of aging, I'm sure. Apparently this is not the season for regular blogging as my poor, neglected website shows. I've probably started about five different posts, but I have run into one problem or another, and they've sat there, unpublished.

So, what's keeping me away?

1. I've cut back on the amount of time the computer is on. A very good thing for me and my family, but it makes me have a lot less time to get the important things done, much less blogging.

2. We've been dealing with a fair bit of sickness lately. It's that time of year again.

3. We've been busier with our church/community, so I have to make wise use of the time I'm at home.

4. I'm too tired, lazy or uninspired when I do sit down to the computer.

I'll pop back in every once in a while, but meanwhile, these two munchkins need to be my priority.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Again, I thank my husband for discovering cool things for me on the internet. This time it is an extensive book search engine. Typically I assume the best prices are to be found on Amazon, but this search engine has proved me (sometimes) wrong. It claims to search 130 bookstores and 80,000 booksellers then gives you a breakdown of prices with postage included. It is especially helpful for my husband who needs rare or out-of-print books. We'll be on a first-name basis with the mailman soon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A few tips I've learned from a wise woman to run a harmonious household

1. Make the bed. A messy room will look neater with a straightened bed while a perfectly clean room looks a mess if the bed is left unmade.

2. Set the table. Even if you are running extremely late on dinner, the sight of a ready table will give your family hope and patience that the meal is coming.

3. Serve meals that "Daddy" likes. Your children may hate them (liver - yuck!!), but they see their father being valued and prioritized which gives a much more important sense of security.

4. Limit choices. Many discipline and behavioral issues are avoided by not giving small children too many options. As they grow up, they will have plenty of chances to make choices, but when they are small they need to have the stability and consistency of just learning to "obey mommy."

5. Keep the right focus. Start your day in the Word and prayer, and continue the day praising God for the little blessings that pop up.

Photo from

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I first saw this video a couple of years ago. It is a good reminder that we should not seek the deceptive beauty of this world, but rather the beauty that comes from inside: a gentle and quiet spirit. "Gentle" and "Quiet".... hmm... not really attributes admired in this day and age of progressive women. It seems weak. Yet, there are times when it takes great inner strength to remain gentle and quiet... in fact, it is so difficult that it can only be the Lord who softens us and grows in us this truly beautiful spirit.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

While preparing dinner a couple of days ago, my son came in and started knocking all his A-B-C magnets off the fridge and onto the floor. I told him he would have to pick them up again and in due time he got to work putting them back. It didn't take too long before he tried to coerce some help:

"Mama! Help!!!" Patting stomach. "Do by myself, tummy owie-owie!!"

Now what mother can resist that kind of logic? Cheeky monkey!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One thing I've been realizing more and more lately is how often we divorce the Bible from its historical context - and what richness of meaning and significance is lost when that happens. I'm so blessed to have a husband who has not only spent years reading and studying these things, but also having been to many of the places mentioned in the Bible, he is able to read the accounts with a deeper level of understanding.

It was my turn to facilitate our ladies' Bible study on Zechariah a couple of weeks ago. I listened in fascination as my husband explained to me the history of the Babylonians and Persians - why King Darius was encouraging the Jews to rebuild the temple, why the Jews got discouraged in doing so and just how meaningful it must have been to hear Zechariah's words:

"Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," declares the LORD. And many nations will join themselves to the LORD in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And the LORD will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD; for He is aroused from His holy habitation.

I was completely inspired to read more historical accounts about that time period, and thankfully, I know just the man with the right books to read! ;-)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I had way too much fun browsing the web for creative projects last night. I don't know if I will get around to doing any of them. Most of them probably take more time and ability than I have, but it's fun to see how creative people can be. As much as we might be denying it... Christmas IS coming and these might be some good gift ideas.

Patchwork Cards by Craftapple

Stack and Nest Quilting Blocks by Elizabeth Hartman for Sew, Mama, Sew!
Fabric Art by Sew, Mama, Sew

Need some winter craft ideas: The Long Thread
Need some ideas for hand-made gifts: Sew, Mama, Sew

Have fun!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I had mentioned a while back how much I enjoyed using Blurb for my digital scrap-booking. It is a free download, easy to use and probably cheaper than all the costs that go into paper scrap-booking. On top of that, I don't have the hassle of getting pictures developed and I can print as many copies of my books as I want for grandparents, friends, siblings, etc...

Again, thanks to marrying an Apple user, I can be more creative with programs like Pages to make my lay-outs. I'm sure Windows has some equivalent, but I'm not up-to-date on it. I highly recommend this method of keeping and sharing memories.

Here's my latest page for my daughter's "First Year" book:
If you *hopefully* get hooked and want to know how I transfer my Pages documents to the Blurb program as pictures, just ask and I will pass on what my computer-savvy husband taught me.

Here are some from the book I did for my son's first year:

Hooked yet?!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Having put the kids down for naps, all I want to do is sit down and "play" on the computer. It is finally "Mommy Time"... then I look at the chaos around me - the nuclear fall-out of breakfast, lunch, company for supper last night, international phone calls, getting in and out the door for Bible study, a bowel movement that didn't quite make it to the potty chair, laundry that's been begging to be hung up, rice strewn across several rooms and dishes galore... sigh!!

My typical nap time would be: resting if I needed it or setting a time-limit to "play" before tackling the necessary chores. The problem with those time-limits is that I keep adding "just one minute more" to the end. I knew that with all the mess around me, I couldn't afford "just one minute more", so I took a new approach. Rather than setting the timer for play, I set the timer for work. It is amazing what can get done in 20 minutes with that tick-tick-tick urging you on! Clothes hung, floors wiped/swept, table/counters cleared, meat out thawing for dinner, clean dishes put away... Everything got done except the still-large pile of dirty dishes before the timer rang. Now I can sit down with a relatively-free conscious and take a much needed rest from work.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

With few nice, warm-ish Saturdays left before the cold comes, we decided to head out to Sherwood Forest and see what we could see. We saw trees...

Lots of trees... including this famous tree right in the middle of the forest.
It really was QUITE large - and old.

More trees.

Hey, look who decided to wake up and join us!

So, while it wasn't all that exciting, it was a nice morning out in nature with the family. Some day we will check out the abbey near the forest as that looked pretty interesting.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I've been finding it hard to be motivated to blog at the moment. It's not exactly that I don't have time or ideas... in fact, I have many ideas running through my head throughout the day. However, when I finally sit down at the computer, all my energy saps away and I have no desire to write anything.

School has started up again here in the UK and with that comes routine (hurray!!) and busier days. Hopefully the writing bug will hit me again soon.

Meanwhile, here is a picture of me and my two blessings taken in a confined space. Gotta love the view up my nose, but the kids are looking sweet.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ah... the satisfaction of going into my garden, picking some vegetables and serving them for dinner.

We are going to have to grow a whole lot more next year, I think. There just wasn't enough for me this time around. We'll know better what we are doing next time, too, since we more or less just threw some seeds out to grow and hoped for the best. Hurray for gardening space!!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I've recently finished reading That's My Son: How Moms Can Influence Boys to Become Men of Character. The author particularly targets single moms who are trying to raise boys, but the information is good for all of us who have sons... or brothers... or husbands... or do any kind of interacting with the opposite gender. I know it helped me see ways of encouraging my husband to be a man of God as well as giving me insight into the needs of my son.

The book deals more with slightly older boys as opposed to my toddler, so I will be referring back to it in the future, but it does help even now as I try to train and shape a male child. Rick Johnson explains some inherent traits of men as well as offering advice on how we as women can interact with and help our sons in ways they can understand. I appreciated the author's candidness as he talked about certain difficult areas that will have to be faced and addressed when raising sons. One of his major points is that a boy can only learn how to be a MAN from other men - therefore it is vital that we surround our sons with men of godly influence and character.

Certainly it is a great responsibility - a God-given responsibility - and above all he acknowledges that without God's help we can do nothing.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Same old; same old


Monday - Crustless Spinach Quiche

Tuesday - Spanish Rice Bake with Broccoli

Wednesday - Angel Chicken Pasta with Veg.

Thursday - Ham and Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

Friday - Homemade Pizza

Saturday - Spicy Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew

Sunday - Omelets with some kind of homemade quick bread.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

We did it... we bought a car! And our first exciting "Discover Britain" trip was to a place not far from home called The Heights of Abraham. Our adventures are documented in photographs below:

My son - always thrilled to go "bye-bye" and even more so in a car.

Our 7-week old - looking grumpy, but really just about ready to pass out.

Riding in the cable car up the mountain.

The view
At the top (notice castle over my shoulder that we will attempt some other day)
The first thing to tackle - a look-out tower....

...with really, really steep steps.

And a great view

Then a decent into the caves.

Back out in the sunshine and pausing for a family photo.

I've become a BIG fan of baby-wearing.

De Sheng's favorite part

Back at the bottom and wondering when the food is going to show up.

Two sleeping kids and a lovely drive through fields and forest.

Until we came upon Galilee (or so my husband said it resembled).
Lots of "sheeps" (according to De Sheng)

We walked up to the top of where the rock juts out and enjoyed the view, but of course my camera battery died right then. Then it was navigating narrow, windy roads back home again for quick baths, food and bed. It was a beautiful day in Britian enjoying God's creation.