December 31, 2013

Looking Forward

Well we made it. Most of you know that we recently moved from Pennsylvania to Colorado. As you can imagine it's all been a little overwhelming. We've been in our new place just over a week, I believe, I often struggle with knowing when and where I am. We started out strong with our unpacking, knocking out the kitchen the first night. That's always most important to me, it really makes you feel like you can function when you have your kitchen unpacked. Then the second day we started dreaming up Christmas decorations. We have a lot to celebrate this year. A new home, being together, good health, employment, of course the birth of our Savior...  We were blessed to have a moving company coordinate our move. It really is a blessing even though having others handle your stuff can be nerve wracking. We had them set aside all the Christmas boxes in a corner and while they were moving us in I worked on knitting a festive bunting for our fireplace. If you ever have a moving company move you my best advice is to distract yourself with something. I poured all my nervous energy into knitting and I don't think I've ever knitted so fast in my life.
The Christmas decorating all started with the bunting and then we just had to have a tree. One of our favorite things about living in Colorado before was that we would get a permit from the National Forest and go cut down our own tree. So that's what we did the 2nd day we were in our new place.
It can be pretty challenging finding a Christmas tree in a National Forest and they are always rustic and natural or as some people like to say Charlie Brownish. I love the way ornaments hang from these trees!
Our kitchen was unpacked and we had Christmas decorations up after being in our house for only 3 days! The other rooms may have had boxes stacked to the ceiling but we didn't care. All of us gathered around the fire and enjoyed the season.
We've never had a fireplace before and it has quickly become our favorite spot to be.
Since we had the kitchen unpacked I was looking forward to fixing a special Christmas meal. I was so happy to be cooking again and thrilled to even have friends to share with. I made a prime rib for the first time which turned out EXCELLENT. Of course I made deviled eggs, one of my favorites and I made mashed potatoes in a crock-pot! I've never done that before but thought it would be wonderful to not have to babysit boiling potatoes and to have my stove-top free. It was wonderful and they turned out perfectly. I can't wait to share the recipe with you. I also made roasted Brussels sprouts and cheesecakes in a jar for dessert. I even set up the bar cart with beverages.
It was really nice to put some energy towards something other than stacks and stacks of boxes. I really wish I had remembered to take more pictures of the celebration.

Now that the New Year is staring us in the face and all the distractions of the season are starting to dissipate. I'm getting slightly depressed and anxious. I just want to decorate my house and make it pretty I don't want to keep unpacking boxes and find places for everything. I just want everything magically organized and then I can dream and decorate and paint. It will take time and this is such a roller-coaster of a process. I find myself doing pretty well until I see a picture of the farmhouse we just left or I go shopping and find something that will fit perfectly in a spot that I realize isn't in my new house but was in my farmhouse. Oh there were so many dreams I had for that place. It's hard to let that go. But I will. It's a New Year. A fresh start. A time to move forward.
What are you looking forward this New Year? 

I'm looking forward to more days like this
time spent in the mountains enjoying God's beauty.

I'm looking forward to more walks out my back door and seeing how the seasons change.

I'm looking forward to being settled and being part of a community. There is so much to look forward to this New Year. I hope you too can spend time looking forward instead of backward; I wish you the happiest of New Years filled with many many blessings!

December 15, 2013

Slate Christmas Tags

Christmas is definitely a little weird for us this year considering we're moving halfway across the country again. Many of you are probably going to be wrapping up gifts for Christmas soon or at least start thinking about it. That's one of my favorite things about Christmas is the wrapping. I love to wrap gifts! It's always fun to add something to the outside that is also a gift. Last year I made Christmas tags that were also ornaments. 
You might remember reading about my farmhouses old slate roof. At this point it's not my farmhouse anymore which is still not real to me yet since we're in between homes right now. I made Apple Brie once and served it on a piece of the slate, you can read about it here.
Slate Christmas tags are super easy to make and not only mark who the gift goes to but make cute ornaments. If you don't have access to slate consider using some small tiles or even rocks.
First you're going to want to make sure that you break your slate into smaller pieces then drill a small hole in the top, I used a Dremel tool. A diamond tip will work best for drilling into slate and tile.
Next use paint pens to decorate one side with trees, snowflakes and other designs. On the other side write the name of the person you're giving the gift to.
There you have it a slate Christmas tag and ornament.  Just add a ribbon and tie it to a package. Do you have a signature way of wrapping gifts or do you do a different theme every year? I'm generally known for brown paper no matter the occasion. I love wrapping in basic brown paper and then adding special touches with tape and ribbons.  HAPPY WRAPPING!

December 5, 2013

Letting Go & Things I've Learned

Have you ever heard the phrase "Let go & let God?" Well that's much easier said than done. I'm spending my last days enjoying my farmhouse in PA. I feel like I'm preparing for a death instead of a move. I'm trying desperately to let go but it's really hard. I poured my heart and soul into this place and realized that it's what I've always wanted in a home. How often do people get that in their first house? There are going to be so many things I will miss. I will miss the refreshing spring water that just comes up out of the ground. I will miss our yard and all the critters that visit. I feel so sad for my dogs that they won't be able to run forever at our new place. There are so many plants that I planted that I will never get to see bloom and grow. I don't understand why we lived here for such a short time, I really wanted to settle down. My belief is that every experience we go through in life shapes us, molds us, strengthens us and grows us. This one hundred and eleven year old farm house did teach me some things. I will never once regret pouring myself into this place and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have lived here. Here's to hoping that I take what I learned with me and will be a better person because of this experience.

November 26, 2013

G-free Pumpkin Muffins

Eating gluten free can have its challenges sometimes. For me those challenges are worth it because I feel so much better. I'm getting more and more used to the disappointments that can come with it, like going out for coffee and watching the people around you enjoying pastries. Sometimes you just want things to be convenient and easy. Which is hardly ever the case when eating gluten free.

That's one reason why I love this recipe so much. It's quick and easy! It doesn't involve measuring and weighing out 10 different flours and these muffins stay yummy for up to a week.

I can't tell you how thrilled I was to discover this new gluten free line that Betty Crocker has. The price point seemed to be a little lower than other specialty mixes and the best part is they are made in a gluten free processing facility. I've tried this recipe with the yellow and chocolate mixes, both were delicious. Of course if you don't need to eat gluten free you can choose whatever cake mix you like.
This recipe is so good I'm sure it would be enjoyed by everyone even if they don't eat gluten free. If you're looking for something to have out Thanksgiving morning for your family to munch on this would be a quick and easy thing to make. Do you usually eat Thanksgiving morning or do you try to wait until the Thanksgiving meal? 
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

November 23, 2013

This too Shall Pass

The clouds roll in so quickly and often unexpectedly. I can sense the change in pressure. I don't know when or where I am. Everything is changing too fast. The weight of life can be heavy.
I'm embarking on yet another move. All moves have their challenges but this one seems to be especially challenging. Maybe it's just because that's how the storm is in the moment. Only when it's passed can we see more clearly. I never thought I would be moving again so soon. My hope was that when I did move it would be further South preferably nearer to my sister-in-law. I love spending time with her! The South to me is a place full of kindness, rich in history, character and culture.

I can't help but feel as though once again I have no say in my life and I fear falling into depression. I have to hold on to the fact that these feelings will pass and that I really have no say in my life, no matter what, because I've already given my life over to God. I've been told by multiple people that I could have said no to moving to Colorado. How could I tell my husband to pass up a job promotion and moving to a place he loves? Colorado is still so foreign to me, even though I've lived there before. 
Maybe it's because I just got back from a whirl wind of a trip but I'm very conflicted about the move. I just spent over a week in a hotel room everyday while my husband went to work.  When I wasn't in the hotel I was searching for a home or walking to the nearby mall. I suppose I went to Colorado full of expectations even though I told myself that's not what I was gonna do. I was expecting a new home to love that my husband already picked out and put a contract on without me seeing. Let's just say it wasn't love at first site and on top of it there were big issues that came up in the inspection. I was expecting to attend a church that would water my dried up spirit. Instead I found major crowding. There are so many people in Colorado! I'm just not use to all the houses, all the traffic, all the people. It really must be a great place to live, actually I know it is. I just need to get use to it all again.
Living in Pennsylvania has been such a disappointment in regards to finding a community. I don't think I've ever been lonelier. After a series of tough job situations and endless amounts of churches we visited I guess I kinda gave up. I love my home so much but I need a community to be a part of. My husband is in Colorado until we close on our house in PA.  This will be the first time we've spent a holiday apart. Hopefully it will just be Thanksgiving.
Despite my negative feelings at times, God has been faithfully showing Himself. I do feel peace and our house in PA had an offer on it before we even officially had it on the market. A family is really going to love calling this place home. We just need to get through a few inspection hurdles. I find myself wishing I could have a place like my current home in Colorado. It's impossible to find a 111 year old farmhouse surrounded by woods with a creek flowing through the backyard. Houses are so much more expensive there and very different from what we have now. It's just a house though and that's not what matters. It's the people, memories and love that fills a house that's important.  I'm looking forward to feeling settled again and not being exhausted all the time. I know this too shall pass and it will be a faded memory. 
Do you have any challenging moving stories that are distant memories? 
I took all these pictures during my recent visit to Colorado. They depict perfectly my emotions. No matter how much the clouds build and how stormy it seems like it could get there is still a beam of light shinning through. If you have a chance say a little prayer for me; I'm heading back to the attic to try tightening a loose and very old railing.

November 19, 2013

Spring Peeper

This time of year is full of so many changes. The darkness of the night falls upon us much earlier. The trees are becoming more and more barren. The air is filled with a chill. Squirrels are feverishly gathering food for the winter. Other animals are preparing themselves for a long winter nap. For me there is one creature that stands out from all the others. It's the Spring Peeper. Have you heard of him before? A Spring Peeper is the tiniest of frogs. Would you believe me if I told you this frog
 almost completely freezes in the winter?
I learned of this amazing creature while spending my first Spring living in PA. I remember hearing a chorus like I've never heard before. It was so unique and very high pitched. Our property is surrounded by swamp land leading to a pond. I noticed as I got closer to the pond the noise would get louder. I was told they were just frogs, of course I couldn't believe that they were just any frog. I wanted to see them for myself. So I searched and searched but never could find one. Then I found an article in the paper about the Spring Peeper. They're a very common sound in PA during the Spring and they are very rarely seen. This is because they are so tiny measuring no more than an inch. Not to mention they blend in perfectly with their surroundings and they stay hidden during the day being most active at night.
One evening in the Fall, long after the sound of the Spring Peeper disappeared, I was playing in the yard with my dogs. Princeton soon lost interest in playing and decided to hunt something down. I don't know how he does it but if there is even the hint of movement he's aware of it. Soon I found him pouncing up and down after something, it's really funny when he does this. Blanca and I were curious about what he found so we walked over and discovered he was trying to catch the tiniest of frogs I've ever seen. I immediately  squealed with delight. I was seeing a Spring Peeper at last. I knew because of the faint X on his back. The Latin name for this frog is, Pseudacris crucifer, because "crucifer" in Latin means
 “cross bearing.”
Oh he was such a beautiful little frog. He was so sticky too. 
It was amazing to watch him climb and hang on vertical surfaces. 
I feel so blessed to have enjoyed such an amazing little creature. 
And now as the weather starts to get colder I'm reminded of these little frogs and how they will hibernate. Apparently up to 70% of their bodily fluid freezes and they survive the entire winter freezing and thawing out with temperature fluctuations. Isn't that Amazing! 

November 15, 2013

Blessings for the Evening

It can be challenging for me to wind down in the evenings. I try to use my time productively until the last shred of daylight,  squeezing as much as I can in before the sun goes down. This means I'm not starting dinner till after dark and dinner is regularly late. This always messes things up. I've also gotten in a really bad habit of watching a TV show right before bed followed by a quick (not really) check of my e-mail and social media as I'm brushing my teeth and getting my self under the covers. The "experts" say that electronics especially are not good for peaceful sleeping. You are supposed to keep the lights dim and read before bed if anything. Well I LOVE to read but before bed never works out like I want it to because I get through about 1 page and I'm out like a light. How about you, do you have any type of evening routine?

I've started to readjust my evening routine slightly and I'm really enjoying it so far. I've always put importance on starting my days on the right foot but I've never really put that same importance on the end of my days. I was encouraged to do this when I was given a book to review by Bethany House. The book is called Blessings for the Evening by Susie Larson. The premise of the book is to take quiet time at night to refresh your soul so that when it's time to rest you can do so peacefully.
The first thing I noticed about the book is how beautiful it is. Each page is filled with an incredible photo that emits peacefulness. Each evening I look forward to seeing what the photo will be, they are so captivating.
The book is set up so that you read two short pages each evening. The page on the left is scripture and the page on the right is encouragement or blessing. I usually read it right before I go to sleep and read it over a few times. I feel like I'm clearing my slate and am preparing myself for a new day.
Not only are there blessings to read each evening but there are also some very specific blessings to read during different times such as when dealing with grief or disappointment and one for Thanksgiving Day....
This is a well done book filled with powerful words and images. It's the kind of book you can leave out on your nightstand as a decoration. It would make a lovely gift.

I'll be sharing more books in the future and I've created a new tab "what's on my bookshelf?" where I'll be linking up a variety of books that I enjoy. If you're looking for a copy of the book I shared today you can find it on Amazon the link below will take you there.

November 12, 2013


Since moving to our farm house in PA I've become more familiar with different plant varieties; I never really knew that much before. It's been so much fun to learn about what's been growing around us. Now I'm hoping to become familiar with plants that grow in Colorado. Last time I lived there I didn't have very good success, this time I hope it will be different. If you have any advice or resources please send it my way. When I think of Mums I think of a Fall plant that's often set out on porches for decoration like the ones I planted in old buckets for our porch.
I recently drove toward Philly to spend the day at Longwood Gardens, as you may have previously read I was searching for the colors of Autumn. I knew they were having a Chrysanthemum festival but I didn't really know how interesting that would be. I expected to see lots of plants like the ones above except in different colors. Well I should have known better, Longwood Gardens is at the forefront of horticulture and plant artistry. This Chrysanthemum festival was beyond my wildest dreams. Experts have nurtured and trained these plants into amazing works of art. I had no idea Mums could look like this. The most impressive display was the largest Thousand Bloom Mum in North America which showcased more than one thousand perfect yellow blooms, I shared another picture of this amazing beauty in a previous post
Walking through this conservatory is like being in a Fairy Tale. 
The light is so dreamy 
and warm. 
Whimsical flowers are around every corner. 
The way these plants were manipulated made me want to immediately go home 
and start experimenting with the mums on my porch. 
It was so fascinating to hear how they meticulously maintain the plants
 trimming away all the other buds so one bud can grow to a large size. 
It's still hard for me to get over the variety of mums that there are. 
I usually don't choose favorites but I really loved the Spidermum.
And it's the only kind of spider I will ever say that I love. 
I had such a wonderful day at the gardens surrounded by God's creativity. I hope that you enjoyed the pictures I captured and they transported you to a peaceful place.
  Are there any gardens for you to enjoy in the area you live?