Raising kids. Keeping House. Choosing joy, every day.

Weekend Edition: Recipes, Books and Art I’m Loving Right Now.

I don’t normally write on Saturday, but here I am. Winter seems long right about now, and to compensate (I think) I tend to fill the house with flowers. Peter bought me these hydrangea after the last blizzard, and surprisingly, I haven’t killed them. Emily made this adorable centerpiece by arranging old milk jars we had in the cellar. Did you know that my great-grandfather was a dairy farmer in Plymouth and he was one of the last in the area to deliver milk to the community? So milk jars just seemed right for this quick centerpiece.

My tulips were a bit droopy, so putting them in old milk bottles helped them to survive a few more days.
Peter's grandmother taught me to water plants from the bottom and let them drink up the water as they want to. So far so good. It's been two weeks, and this hydrangea is still living.


For Valentine’s Day, I made Peter this dessert for maple creme brulee from the New York Times online website. It was gooood. It was also not on my diet. Ahem.

Hope and I made this delicious Grandmother’s Bread recipe. We split the dough in half and used one half to make the orange sticky buns variation for breakfast. Extremely good bread and would make great sandwich bread. (I tasted a bite, but behaved myself.)

Strawberry Summer Salad is one of my favorite recipes to make for company. I always top it with Grilled Caribbean Chicken. Served with rice, roasted veggies, and grilled bread, this makes a delicious, easy meal. I served this last night for dinner when we had a young couple from our church over. Here are the recipes:

Strawberry Summer Salad.

Strawberry Summer Salad

1 head red leaf lettuce

1 pt. strawberries, sliced

4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1. c. chopped pecans

Salad Dressing: Wisk together until well mixed: 1 cup veg. oil, 3/4 c sugar, 1/2 c. red wine vinegar, 2 cloves garlic minced, pepper to taste. Pour onto salad.

*I use less sugar, and it comes out fine. You can also use sugar substitute.


Grilled Caribbean Chicken

1 envelope Good Seasons Italian Salad Dressing Dry Mix

2 T. brown sugar

2 T. oil

2 T. soy sauce

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. fresh thyme (or 1/2 t. dried thyme in a pinch)

2 lbs chicken pieces or boneless skinless breasts

Mix the dressing mix, sugar, oil, soy sauce, cinnamon and thyme in a small bow until well blended. Pour over chicken mixture and let marinate for one hour. Grill chicken until done, over hot coals, until cooked through.

Blog Posts that Inspired Me:

1. This post from Ruth at Gracelaced resonated with me. It is encouragement to embracing motherhood for what it is. This is the desire of my heart and something I keep in the forefront of my mind. Read it here. I also wrote A Letter to Young Mothers here.

2. When we are quick and careless to glibly counsel “You just need to give yourself grace!” when a mom is discouraged or desperate, we may be doing them a disservice. Each opportunity to counsel comes with a responsibility to also accurately assess and apply God’s truth to your friends situation as discussed in this great post.

3. This excellent post on praying like Jesus from Good Morning Girls. Here’s an excerpt:

“A person who values prayer will make it a prominent part of their lives because they understand that they can’t do “it” alone, whatever “it” is. They know they are not wise enough to make decisions on their own, and are not strong enough to handle the circumstances they are in without divine assistance. We will pray when we understand we are not spiritual enough to grow in godliness in our own effort. A woman of prayer is therefore humble.

On the other hand if prayer is not a major part of our lives we are basically saying that we don’t need God’s help. We believe we can figure it out on our own. It means that we are looking for answers, comfort, and strength somewhere else–in ourselves, in another, or in the world. A prayerless woman is prideful, and in a practical sense atheistic.”

Go read the rest of it here. You’ll be glad you did!

4. This week on the blog we talked about friendships that leave us disillusioned and noted that not all friendships are created equal, and that’s okay. We’ll continue this topic in more specifics next week.

5. Emily, my 17-year-old, wrote this article on complaining. I’ve thought of it several times this week as I began to open my mouth to sin mention several annoyances this week, like “I can never find the cord to my GPS.” Let that sink in for a moment. ahem. Thankful for a reminder from my precious girl, and God’s word.

Books I’m Reading/Considering:

I’m still working through Jesus + Nothing = Everything, and will probably re-read it again so I can take better notes the second time through. The best explanation of grace that I have read in a long time. (grace that leads to true godliness.) Peter is going to read this after me and I’ve already told my two oldest that this book is required reading for them.

My kids have been mainlining on The City of Ember series. For some reason, every once in a while, they pull that series down and read all four books in one week, like they can’t get enough. Holly tells me that these are her favorite books ever, and that the movie did not do the books justice.

I am making a list of titles to purchasing from Amazon and am looking for recommendations. I prefer non-fiction right now. Has anyone read these?

A Steadfast Heart: Experiencing God’s Comfort in Life’s Storms I might order it to read as I travel this month to visit Rebekah at school.

I’ve heard such great things about Feminine Threads: Women in the Tapestry of Christian History, and since I love studying Christian women of the past, I hoped this would be an interesting read.

Comforts from Romans: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time is Elyse Fitzpatrick’s newest book. She is one of my all time favorite authors and so I know that I’ll enjoy this and benefit from her insight.


Right now I am finishing up an English cottage picture, researching for a new commissioned piece, and working on some fun ACEO pieces with Hopie. ACEO art is so popular right now, and in a nutshell it is original art in trading card size. (2.5×3.5″) Fun to make, affordable, adorable in a frame and people love them.

I also made this reminder for myself:

Oh, and look what I found blooming again in the midst of this harsh winter. :)

What are you reading these days? Any great recommendations for me?