Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Friday, April 24, 2015

BASEBALL SEASON...AND A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

And just like that, leisurely evenings and peaceful Saturday mornings are over.  ;)

We've won all three games so far so we're off to a great start. This little someone has found herself a new hobby to keep herself entertained during the loooooong games. Oh this girl. The giggles and hip-shakin' and impossibly beautiful brown eyes... I feel very afraid for what's to come, ha ha.


My favorite slugger. Last night it was SO cold- as in, snow squalls happened- I brought Isabelle home early. Come to find out, Caleb scored the winning point and THEN caught the fly ball that ended the game. His confidence was shaken so badly by mean and awful coaches for two years, and thankfully, after switching leagues, he has coaches that seem to encourage and instruct rather than demean and tear down. It makes a world of difference. I just want to see my little boy once again love the game that has occupied so much of his time and attention his entire life.


As many of you know, the reason I started Rose & Ruffle a couple of years ago was to help fund our next adoption. I don't have it in me to post links to our adoption journey thus far- you can search in the side bar if you want to read up on it.

I'm thrilled to announce that we are now on a new journey, one that God has led us to despite our hemming and hawing, doubting and even whining on occasion.

As of last week, we are officially en route to finding our child from way over on the other side of the globe.
God is so good!!!!!!!!!

Here are some items that are for sale at Rose & Ruffle. I wrote a more detailed post on the Rose & Ruffle blog if you'd like more specifics. This shop has been such a blessing- and a help!- to our family over the years. Even though our last several adoptions failed in the eleventh hour, there were still so many costs associated with the process. That has all been taken care of, and from this point on, everything will be placed into our new fund. 

When we felt that God was telling us to trust Him and take some time off last year, we (I) reluctantly obeyed. We have learned so much, about ourselves and about our amazing Lord. And now is the time He has called us to move forward, so we are MOVING FORWARD!



You can find these and other items for sale at Rose & Ruffle. Thank you!

I'll be posting adoption-related things on IG as well if you want to check in with me there.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

HOMEMADE TAPIOCA PUDDING

I'm not sure exactly why, but we have had so many yummy dinners, sides and treats in our home this week. Poor husband had a rough day at work, so after feeding the slightly smaller people first, Chicken Cordon Bleu it was for the grown-ups. Last night we had fresh Bruschetta, because, well, why not? And the other day, Jonah whipped up our favorite Brownie Volcano...for a culinary assignment, of course.  ;)

Now I'm sharing this recipe for Homemade Tapioca Pudding, perfect for a chilly evening. Or whenever. It's good!


You'll need the following:
1/3 Cup Small Pearl All-Natural Tapioca (I use Bob's Red Mill, found in the baking or specialty flour aisle)
3/4 Cup water
2 1/4 Cups whole (or 2%) milk
dash salt
2 eggs, separated
1/2 Cup sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla
sprinkle of nutmeg, if desired

In a small or medium saucepan, soak the tapioca pearls in the 3/4 cup water for at least 30 minutes. Do not drain tapioca after soaking, and add the milk, salt, 1/4 cup sugar, and lightly beaten egg yolks to saucepan. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil.

Simmer uncovered over very low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites, slowly adding 1/4 cup sugar, until soft peaks begin to form. This may take several minutes.
 

If the tapioca mixture is thick, carefully fold in the egg whites; if the mixture is too thin when you add the egg whites, the pudding will remain slightly runny- it tastes great but will not have that rich, creamy texture. Simply simmer the tapioca a few minutes more if needed until it thickens.

Stir for an additional 3-5 minutes over very low heat. Let cool for 10 minutes and add vanilla, stirring gently. Serve warm or let chill for an hour. I sprinkle nutmeg on top- much to a certain someone's dire protests- and serve warm. Always warm. Yum!
 I modified the recipe slightly from the original on the package.

Now that the school year is officially beginning to wrap up, I am sick of making lunches. I wrote this Enjoy Your Lunch post last year for a little self pep-talk...I think I'll go read it again. Hope it helps!


Monday, April 20, 2015

WEEKEND FUN

Last Monday I was hanging out a million loads of laundry to dry on the line. Today...I'm not. HA There's still laundry, but it's raining. Oh well.

Isabelle has ballet class this afternoon, which she is enjoying a lot more, and Caleb has baseball practice. He had such a hard season last year that just about anything that happens will hopefully seem like a better one this year. So far so good. They won a scrimmage last week and have their first official game tomorrow night. I just wanted to post some things about our weekend so I don't forget. This may be painfully boring to anyone else.  ;)

Since Fridays are Cookie Fridays, we thought we'd bring a few over to Great Gram. It was a hard visit. She wasn't very aware of her surroundings, and just when I thought I saw a spark of recognition, it would vanish before the connection was made. I am so thankful for the lifetime I've had with her, but I so wish my children had the chance to know her like I do. Great Gram is 96 years old so she is bound to have good days and not so good days. We'll just keep trying.


Ethan vehemently refused to be in our selfie. Those teen boys, I tell you. Jonah cooperated and scored himself an extra chocolate chip cookie or two. Or five. ;)

Saturday night these guys were headed out for a hockey game, and completely psyched about it! It was such a blessing for our family. I wrestle with not being able to do things like this with our crew because it gets so costly, but I want to be able to provide them with these experiences at the same time. About two years ago I began to pray that God would help us in this area because I truly believe that He cares about the little things in our lives just as much as the bigger ones. I feel guilty sometimes that I can't do all the things that I want to do with them; yet on the other hand, we have so much in this country, in our lives, and I want them to know it. It's a constant struggle and I certainly don't have it all figured out. Not even a little bit. Anyway, the tickets were given to a friend from church, and he included our guys in the group that went. I'm so thankful. What a great God we serve!


While the boys were away, we girls had ourselves a little fun night in. This cat is too funny! He jumps up on the side of the tub and just hangs out there, purring, rubbing on the shower curtain. Funny! After a bubble bath, we read stories, did our hair, and watched a Tinkerbell movie all snuggled up in my bed. She said it was a perfect night. I think I'll have to agree.  =)


Yesterday at church we met a couple who are spending the summer taking care of an orphanage in South Africa. All four of us got to talking and before you know it, we had missed the entire Sunday School hour! It was such a God-designed meeting, and it has given us lots to keep talking and praying about. Again, what a great God we serve! Plus, I made a new friend at Isabelle's friend's birthday party on Saturday. You're never too old to get excited about making friends, right? We have so much in common and it felt like we'd known each other for years. And they just moved to a house right down the road from us! Does this make me sound a little pitiful? Well, then I guess I'm pitiful. But I'm pitiful with some new pals.

We had our first official campfire and S'mores of the season last night! The wind picked up suddenly, which meant having to keep a pretty tight reign on this little pyro boy- can't you just see that look in his eyes? ha!


The wafting smoke looks like two smoke ghosts on Jonah and Caleb! These guys crack me up...most of the time. I won't bother to share about some of the antics around here earlier in the day. Parenthood is no joke.


I commented on IG how my fingers got so sticky and gooey making the S'mores that I was pretty much useless for anything else that required hands. Like taking pictures. So I was a little surprised to find a bunch of photos on my phone. I'll spare you the thirty pics of flames. And ants being burned on their log. That was gross!


Believe it or not, this guy wasn't really enjoying himself. He's fake-smiling here. Not a fan of camping stuff. But he was a good sport to come out and roast a marshmallow. It's a good thing he has other redeeming qualities.

Lastly, I have a pressing question for you. Literally. (Just insert Flynn Ryder's wonderful voice right there.) It's over on my sewing blog, along with a favorite summer dress tutorial, HERE. Thanks in advance!

Friday, April 17, 2015

TIPS ON KEEPING AN ORGANIZED HOME

One of the questions I'm asked most often is this: How do you keep everything organized and functional for a big family? Or basically: How do you keep from drowning in stuff? ha ha

Well, here is my number one, shocking, genius tip for you: Don't buy the stuff in the first place. (If it's gifted but just doesn't suit your family's needs, pass it along without guilt.)

Let's talk kitchen. I do not have tons of storage in this kitchen so it's imperative that I only hang onto what I love and what works for us. I simply don't have extra drawers for seldom-used items. One thing that does threaten to sink me on occasion is this: party stuff, the candles, decorations, color gels, etc... A long time ago I put all these things in two separate containers (with lids) and I keep them on a handy shelf in the basement. They're there when I need them but not cluttering up my kitchen when I don't.

I wrote this post on organizing just shortly after moving here. Some things in our kitchen look a little different now, but the storage/organization parts look almost exactly the same. I think my favorite tip from this post is the storage capabilities of adding hooks to the insides of cabinet doors. It is THE perfect solution for awkwardly-sized or shaped items that you just don't want taking up space in a drawer; plus, you no longer have to hunt them down and fish them out- they're right there where you need them!


Think outside the box a little when it comes to organizing and storing items. One of the nice surprises in moving here was that the kids' rooms have huge closets, some even with wide shelves on the sides. Since the linen closet has become the designated medicine cabinet, bathroom items/towel storage, and holds most of my cleaning supplies, all the sheets and blankets had to go somewhere else. They are now stored on two of the shelves in one of the kid's rooms, easily accessible and perfectly organized. Don't worry, his closet is as big as mine (and I have to share half!) and he has plenty of his "own" shelves so he doesn't feel infringed upon in the least.  ;)

Look around for those spare areas that can be put to good use. They work wonders in our busy, full household. And don't neglect empty wall space, especially in a basement or garage. Hooks and shelves on these walls are often the workhorse to getting and staying organized, and getting things up and off the floors. Win win. This summer we're revamping our garage storage, so I'll share some before and after photos when we're done; having done this at our old house, I can tell you what a difference having a good system made.


I've got some laundry tips to help you stay organized.

I'm pretty ruthless with toys and sentimental papers. I do have one drawer filled to the brim with special poems, pictures and love notes from my children. Plus I have a few large folders that holds some of their art. But other than that, I part with it. It's the memory I want to hang onto, not the actual item, so I can let it go. (Another great benefit of using a blog as a family journal- it truly helps me keep a record of things that might otherwise have been forgotten.) I used to take pictures of their artwork but have since stopped doing that; now I snap a photo of them holding whatever thing they made or created, if we're not planning on keeping it forever. That way I have both the memory and the visual memento, in more manageable form.

This probably sounds like everything in my house is perfectly situated, where there are no junk drawers or hidden piles of things in the basement I just don't want to deal with... NOT AT ALL. My sewing stuff has the power to take over a room (or two!), the hobbies/sports threaten to sink me on a weekly if not daily basis, there are gadgets that I like to have in my kitchen after deciding that I really don't have a need for them. It's stuff, and lots of it!

Again, I try to be diligent about what I purchase. Bringing it back to tip #1, I guess. Just a couple weeks ago, I was staring into the eyes of the cutest little lavender bunny rabbit, and I knew Isabelle would loooooove it. It was only a few dollars and I snatched it up. But then I got thinking about all the toys she already has, how many of them don't seem special or unique simply because of the sheer volume, and how we can't adequately fit the ones we've already got. There may also be issues about picking up but I won't throw her under the bus about that, ha. So I put the bunny back on the shelf. I'm sure she would have loved getting it in her basket, she would play with it every day...for a while. But then what? Just another toy to find a place for. Her father and I are trying to teach her - and all our children- that the stuff of life isn't what's most important, and it's okay to say no to stuff. Better than okay, even. Tough lesson for a kid, I know, but we've got to start somewhere.

I'm not at all saying that we shouldn't buy toys and things ever again. I just want the things we do spend our money and attention on to matter. I think there's a big difference. It certainly impacts our day-to-day in terms of organization, too.

Okay, now I'm off to make mini-chip pancakes for my lovelies, today is Cookie Friday (woot!) and I promised them all Crepes with Berries & Cream for dessert tonight. Sugar overload, I tell you. We'll have to run laps later.  =)

Perfect Pancakes (adapted to feed 5-7 people)
WHOA! I just looked through my recipes and saw that I don't have our favorite pancakes blogged...I will have to remedy that! So enjoy this blueberry one...


Double Cocoa Dream Cookies

To see my other kitchen update posts, click HERE and HERE.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

BUSY, WONDERFUL DAYS

Date Night! We really know how to live it up, this guy and I. I think we were back home by 8:45, ha. Too old. And tired! I wanted to be in my jammies.

Boo. I do think this was the last of it. I hope.

Someone seemed right at home on this plush pile. Never mind that the seams are showing from this angle...yes, that totally bugs me and my perfectionist ways- this is the best fold for the width of my closet shelves, and the seams face the wall. Now I feel redeemed, slightly.  ;)

First park day of the year!!!

I've been taking Ryder on lots more walks lately, and he literally collapses afterward. Ha Ha

My thoughtful boy treated me to lunch! He had it all planned out, so cute! He kept telling me to drive where he said but not to think about where I was going. =) He paid and everything, so it was a real date. I was so touched by his kindness and generosity.  What a sweetie.

Feeling wild and free out on a nearby trail.

Don't leave us to our own devices...because we're a little nuts. Whatev.  =)

I don't even have words for these two. Their special relationship melts my heart.

When Ethan drives me to her school, this is how he gets greeted. Every.Single.Time.

She was very proud of her drawing, but mostly she was excited about the "six pack," ie a tic-tac-toe board that she'd drawn across his middle. Oh man, the things/expressions she overhears. Life with a little girl and her teenaged big brother is rarely boring.

Oh happy day! Clothes drying in the breeze and sunshine. I think I did at least four loads that day, and I loved every single minute spent out there.

I saw this while going through pictures the other day....someone was very proud of Diego's recent shed. Yeah, life with teenagers and all their stuff- not boring, ever!

Aren't these kites awesome? We were beach-bound on Sunday.

It was just what we needed after such a loooooong, cold winter. There were also about fifteen horses trotting all around us. Just beautiful.



This was just the happiest little pile of sweet nighties for a customer- I was a little sad mailing them off yesterday because they were just so pretty, but I'm hoping they make for a really great Happy Mail day out in Arizona!

Whew! It has been a busy and wonderful week. And tomorrow's Friday!

You can find me on:
... visit my shop, Rose & Ruffle