Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Handy Calorie-Counting Charts

(pic and great advice from here.)

Better Homes and Gardens sent me an email that included some handy calorie-counting charts. I especially like the 200 Snacks Less that 100 Calories since I often get bored with the same thing.

Here's the link: BHG Calorie-Counting Charts

Just in case you have calorie-counting on your mind for 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Questions for Reflection

This is the third year I've spent a little time reflecting on the year that is about to end.  In 2011 I found the following questions (sorry, I can't find the original source) and answered them. I wondered if it would be a task that would have any meaning, but in December 2012, I pulled out the questions again and found myself comparing answers. Did I really change in any way?  I also enjoyed reminiscing about the BIG memories of both years. 

So again, today, I pulled out the questions and started writing my answers.  I didn't look back at what I had written earlier so my answers would be "fresh," but I have to admit, once I finished I began comparing all three years at once and I started to see a progression of improvement. Basically speaking, I saw how the Lord was tidying up those rough edges and how He doesn't miss any details. 

The questions of reflection will probably be with me now to the end of my life and I hope that my children will enjoy the encapsulated version of my years after I'm gone. It would be better than reading my journal, that's for sure!

I only answer 18 out of 20 questions that I originally ran across. You can see the full 20 questions here. (I leave out # 6 & 7 on their list.)

Questions for Reflection  in the New Year

1) What was the single best thing that happened this year?

2) What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

3) What was an unexpected joy this past year?

4) What was an unexpected obstacle?

5) Pick 3 words to describe this past year.

6) What were the best books you read this year?

7) With whom were your most valuable relationships?

8) What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?

9) In what ways did you grow emotionally?

10) In what ways did you grow spiritually?

11) In what ways did you grow physically?

12) In what ways did you grow in your relationship with others?

13) What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

14) What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?

15) What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

16) What was the best way you used your time this year?

17) What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?

18) Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Refinished Rocker

At work/church one Sunday some friends and I got talking about refinishing furniture and I mentioned how much I've enjoyed finishing a couple small tables of my own.

The next Sunday they brought in an antique rocking chair that had been in their family for over 100 years and asked if I would refinish it for them. 

(pic taken in the church parking lot)

I said I'd take on the task if my Dad would help me with the project. He agreed so we took a couple of weeks and cleaned it up!

The chair turned out pretty well and we enjoyed working on it together. My friends were pleased with the outcome and will, hopefully, enjoy it for many years to come.

*a sweet side note, I hid the chair in one of our unused nursery rooms when returning it right before the owner's birthday. After the "reveal" she sat in the chair and nursed her infant daughter and said she imagined her grandmother and mother doing the same thing in the chair down through the years. You could tell it meant a lot - so much so that she didn't even wait to get it home!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Crafts

We've gotten a little crafty around here lately!

In our Home Ec class we made turkey pins.
(my variation on Paper Turkey Pins found at FamilyFun mag)
Instead of cereal boxes, we used magazine pages backed with a piece of card stock.

We also made turkey cookies in class.
Pillsbury Thanksgiving Turkey Cookies are a yummy way to celebrate and give thanks!

This morning we thought we get one more treat in before the big day, 
Pilgrim Hat Cookies.
You'll find different variations floating around Pinterest and the web, 
but we bought cookies that had a fancy scalloped edge 
and used other ingredients we had on hand. 
They are easy and delicious!

Taste of Home has a great recipe you can follow.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What Should I Read Next!

A friend suggested I check out www.whatshouldireadnext.com.

Let me say, "It's AWESOME!"

Type in a title or author and you will get recommendations from other readers of books to try next.

Click on the Info/Buy button and it takes you to Amazon so you can check out the selection there.

You can build your own book list and share recommendations by registering with your email.

What apps or sites do you use to find new books to read?

Such a happy distraction! Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Two Songs For You

A few weeks ago I was driving in my husband's truck and listening to Satellite Radio. That evening I was listening to THE MESSAGE channel and Natalie Grant was debuting her new CD, Hurricane. During the broadcast Natalie shared the stories behind each song with a small live audience. There were some very poignant moments and I found myself reaching for tissues a couple of times.  At the stoplights I also reached for my pen and notepad to jot down the titles of songs I wanted to purchase on iTunes so I could listen to them again and again.

While I like the song, Whisper, I truly liked what Natalie had to say about it.
The jist of what she said was so very often we want God to thump us over the head with what He has to say to us - if His words came like lightening, it would be so much easier to know His mind.
But He doesn't do that.


Because God is too close to yell.

He has to whisper.

That thought made me want to pull over and just listen right then and there.
It's so true. We want the message on the loud speaker. 
We're busy. 
We want it to be easy.

But the Lord wants to sit with us and He wants us to quietly listen.

My newest favorite song is When I Leave the Room. 

Natalie wanted to write a song for her little girls, but she said she wanted to write only ONE really good one. She worked at it for months and nothing seemed right. She was touring with Nichole Nordeman and had her family along. Nichole understood Natalie's heart and after the tour ended Nichole called and said, "I think I have something for you." She sent the lyrics to this song. Natalie and her husband, Bernie Herms, put the lyrics to a haunting tune that will tug at your heart. You may want to reach for the tissues before listening! It's the new Butterfly Kisses, I think.

I found my notes from the ride and have made my purchases. If you're interested in reading more about the album, you can read about it at nataliegrant.com

I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Walking on the Water

Lately the Lord seems to be reminding me to trust in Him, to recognize His Sovereignty, to be at peace with where He will take me.  That's a little scary and makes me wonder what's going to happen. Some big changes are possible for me in the near future and I don't know if the Lord is preparing my heart to trust through those changes OR if the possibility of those changes has been used as a gentle reminder that it's about keeping my eyes on Him and not my circumstances. It doesn't really matter, the message is still the same.

I temporarily lost my study Bible this week and had to read from my chronological Bible one morning for devotions.  That's was a little frustrating since it's organized by days of the year instead of books of the Bible, but as I opened it up on Friday morning, I thought, "The Lord probably has Matthew 14 on today's date!" I thought this because earlier in the week someone used that passage to encourage me re: the possible changes and I bristled a little when it was shared. Of course, right in the middle of day's reading was, you guessed it, Matthew 14. It made me chuckle.

The passage is a familiar one with Jesus walking on the water and Peter stepping out to walk with Him. He doesn't succeed for very long, but gets distracted by the circumstances, the wind and the waves, and he takes his eyes off Jesus. Down he goes, right!  The Holy Spirit wasn't being too subtle this week; I got the message. However, despite the usual reminder we get from that passage - to keep our eyes on the Lord - He also gave me one more nugget, which has been immensely encouraging.

The disciples see a figure walking on the water. They think it's a ghost at first, but then the Lord identifies Himself and says, "Don't be afraid!" What does Peter do next? He asks for confirmation (Is that you, Lord?) and then He asks to join the Lord ("command me to come to You on the water.") 

Why on earth, Peter, do you want to walk on the water?

Stay in the safety of the boat, Dude!

No. More than anything else, Peter wanted to be with Christ, no matter where that was.

It makes me think of Matt Redman's line from Better Is One Day,

"Better is one day in your courts than thousands elsewhere."

Do we really feel that way about walking with the Lord? Are we willing to walk anywhere? Through any circumstances? The wind and the waves are always going to be there in one way or another, but where Christ is, there is safety, shelter, and perfect peace. Each day, each hour, we have a choice to abide with Christ or to drown in our circumstances. I'm practicing the choice to abide.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Desert Places

Isaiah 43:19
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

I've been in a desert place, spiritually-speaking for a while now. Throughout my 39 years of walking with the Lord I've experienced dry times - times where devotions are hard, prayers seem to hit the ceiling and a general malaise permeates my spirit.  There have been many reasons for these dry times in the past, but, in my experience, the Lord does not allow/send dry times without a purpose. He uses these times to teach me more about Himself and in the process, more about myself, as well.

I have felt defeated recently. My mind has listened to the lies of the enemy and I haven't stood behind the Father as my Shield and Defender. I've tried to do it on my own. You know how well that works! I'm tired and I'm weary. I'm finally ready to listen, which is the usual outcome of desert-traveling, a wearing down of my pride and coming to the realization that without Christ, the desert would be my permanent dwelling place.

Isaiah reminds us that through Christ a road has been made for us and rivers, not creeks or even a simple oasis, but rivers will be available. When we're done trudging through the sand dunes, He has made a better way.

Isaiah 44:3
For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring....

Isaiah 44:6
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts: I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.

It's time to stop wandering around looking for something to satisfy and turn to the Living Water that leads us out of the desert and fully satisfies.

Many of us are struggling with grief and troubles which can seem overwhelming. Sometimes it's easy to barricade ourselves off and trudge through the circumstances, but that's a desert path. Leaning into the Father and availing ourselves of the Living Water at the time we need it most is His way for us.

I'm praying that each of you will walk in abundance with Him.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tonight You Belong to Me

Too Cute...

This little girl couldn't sleep because of fireworks so her Dad propped her in front of a camera and began singing with her to get her mind off of the noise. What a treasure!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up - Sept 15

Life is full. Busy. For all of us, I realize, but blogging is not my life.

However, I love to be able to share what's going on in our lives especially with far-away family and friends. So even if I don't entertain you with daily posts, I am going to try to give weekly updates. I know that would mean a lot to those I care about most.

It's also a great way to record what's going on so weeks don't blur into months...into years. I used to try to capture the day with a picture, but that was too much pressure. I found myself taking pics of stuff I didn't care about just so I could mark the task off my to-do list and then actually missing opportunities for pictures I would want to take just because I was sick of using the camera. Weird.

So, my weekly updates will sometimes include pictures, but only if I really wanted to snap them. :)

Last week was full of work for my part-time job. That kept me at my computer A LOT, but the girls were both sick with head colds so they were vegging in front of electronics or the tv.

Mark has been traveling several weeks each month and this is the first trip we've experienced without Rhett at home (he's away at college.) It's been quiet. Very quiet.  Mark walks through the house a lot and Rhett talks a lot so having the two guys gone has been quite peaceful. Sorry, guys.  I don't like to talk on the phone, especially in the evening. I've used up my words by then and just want to relax, but without having an adult in the house, I find that I'm more willing to talk about the mundane with Mark on the phone. That's been a pleasant surprise for both of us.

I can't say that our house looks as tidy as usual. Oh, speaking of tidy...

Last Sunday at church I walked through the 4th & 5th Grade area to pick up supplies (I work in our children's dept.) and saw some forms titled "About Me" lying on a common area table. At the top of the  pile was Tara's form. I decide to peek at what she wrote about herself and her family and friends. It was mostly cute.

Here's the jist of what she said about her family:

My sister likes art.
My brother likes to read fantasy books.
My big sister likes to knit.
My Dad likes being outside.

Then what do you think she wrote about Mom? She likes to quilt? She likes to organize? She likes to read? Anything that might seem like a pleasure? Not really.

She wrote,

My Mom likes to have a clean house when company comes over.


It's true, but I sure enjoyed giving her a hard time about it. Tara said it's the first thing that popped into her head.

Now I'm wondering if Dad likes being outside because Mom likes a clean house when company comes over? :)

Let's just say, we haven't had company over and it shows.

Back to the weekly update...

Because the girls were sick we, together, spent a lot of time in front of the tv. Fevers were raging, tissue piles were growing, snacks were plowed through. It was one of those weeks. We came across a new show that we really enjoyed, Rachel vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off. What a hoot those kids were! And the food - amazing!

We love to cook and eat around here so my girls were truly inspired. So much so that earlier THIS week, Katie made homemade taquitos for dinner one night. They were de-lish! We were groaning and moaning the whole time we ate them. Definitely a new recipe for our house.

Whoops, I'm getting into this week!

Because we had so much time on our hands I was able to finish up a quilt I made for a co-worker who had her first little girl.  I LOVE this quilt! I love the Momma, too. I know she will cherish it for years to come.

That's our week. Boring, yet productive and entertaining.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up

For our family and friends, here's our week, all wrapped up.

On Monday we said good-bye to our buddies -


and Bentley

It's hard to even write about it without choking up. Despite our hearts breaking we knew it was the right decision for us to send our two horses off to another family. They went together and we've heard they are doing well. We plan to go visit them in a couple of weeks and check on them, but for several reasons we had to let them go.  The girls are barely keeping it together for these pictures; we did a LOT of crying on Labor Day. The field is lonely, but we knew it was the right thing to do.

Tuesday was the first day back to school. So far, so good. We didn't quite get a full day in on Friday so we finished up on Saturday morning. We've accomplished all we set out to do this week.

Wednesday I finished a quilting project.

These are appliqued coasters that I made for a swap.
When I want to try a new quilting skill I sign up to swap the finished project with someone. I need a little incentive and a deadline. I had a lot of fun with these and learned a few new tricks, as well.

These are the coasters I received from my swap partner.
Love the orange & blue!

Thursday was CoOp.

This was taken for our CoOp directory - a lonely little picture without Rhett.
(Thought some of you might want to see my haircut - went short in February!)

Friday our small group Bible study resumed. It was a wonderful night reflecting on the Word, prayer, eating & fellowship. So satisfying.

Saturday I tried tying up loose ends and did some laundry so those who are traveling  next week have something to wear. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A month of joy & sadness

I'm glad summer is wrapping up. In some ways it's been peaceful; in other ways, it's been difficult.

Mark has traveled a lot and the farm work has fallen on the rest of us. We've faced illnesses, injuries and financial setbacks, but in all, we've made it through and I'm looking forward to stepping out of summer-mode and back into school year-mode. Anyone else?

This month I said good-bye to my second child, Rhett, (my only boy) as he went off to college. He's my buddy so it's been an adjustment around here. It's been a little quiet. We don't seem to be going through the food quite as quickly either.

Rhett has enjoyed the first two weeks of university and is getting along well with his two roommates.

My Colorado daughter, Ashley, and son-in-law, TJ came east for a friend's wedding and spent several days with us.

Oh, that Denver beard!

We spent hours talking, eating and playing boardgames - three of our favorite things. 

Our latest addiction...

(such a fun & easy game!)

We've been playing another game around here.

It's called "You might be a Redneck if..."

you can shoot a rifle at 10 years old...

you can shoot a rifle in a skirt...

you're the youngest, but have the best aim with a Glock...

you put a shirt over your head to keep the bugs off so you can take aim.

Yep, Rednecks!
This is some kind of country livin'.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Going-away Sing-a-long

First, I wish I had a picture to share with you. I almost didn't write the post because I didn't capture it in a photo, but I'm guessing you can use your imagination and envision the scene at our home last night.

My son, Rhett, has worked 2 jobs this past year in preparation for college. One of the places of employment is a local music shop where he teaches piano.  There are a few believers who work at the music store and they have become fast friends.  Rhett decided to invite those young adults over for a Mexican dinner, Martens' smores and a jam session before he leaves for college in 2 weeks.

Ten of us started off with green chili enchiladas, rice, chips & salsa and watermelon. Squeezed around the dining room table we had our family, Ryan & Chelsea (an engaged couple) who shared their romantic courtship story with us, and the Gold Sisters: Tori, Jocie, and Shelby - three very sweet and talented young women.  (I couldn't get over the strong resemblance between Tori and "Mary" the oldest sister on Downton Abbey. Two beautiful girls!)

After dinner we moved out to the fire pit to eat smores the Martens' way - forget the graham crackers, bring on the chocolate chip cookies!

Here's Tara eating the Martens' smores a couple of years ago - roasted marshmallow and chocolate smooshed between two homemade chocolate chip cookies. Trust me, you'll never use graham crackers again!

After our gooey dessert we moved to our "music room" (aka - office or place that houses the piano).  Ryan and Rhett took turns on the piano, Tara and Rhett played the bongo drums, Tori played the mandolin, Jocie, the guitar and Shelby, the fiddle. Mark, Chelsea and I sang along with everyone else. We all sat in a large circle singing whatever came to mind - love songs for the engaged couple, hymns, and worship songs.  The Gold sisters also sang some of their own music.  You can see their beautiful faces and hear their wonderful music here. 

I wish life were slow enough to have evenings like this every week! It was so fun and relaxing.

This morning I'm still fondly remembering the stories and music; time well-spent.  Wish you could have joined us too!



Saturday, July 27, 2013

On the Mend

Thanks, Gail, for that gentle reminder to give an update on Biscuit...

Thursday when I awoke Biscuit was breathing shallowly and shaking with every breath. She couldn't move without crying in pain.  We took her into the Vet again (by stretcher this time) and she came out with steroids for inflammation, morphine-type pain meds and a camel (a bag's worth of saline given under the skin on her back for hydration.)  She was in bad shape.

She slept peacefully the rest of the day, but did not move from our towel covered couch.  Rhett and I carried her out at bedtime and she went to the bathroom, but we carried her back to the couch to rest for the night.

On Friday morning my puppy-girl turned the corner. She was lifting her head and initiated going out to the bathroom, eating and drinking. She still stumbled and shook when walking, but the pain meds and steroids helped her manage until the antibiotics could start attacking the infection.

Today she sat in her fave spot looking out the window and even went outside on the deck to watch Dad mow. A little bit of her personality is back! She's on the mend, thank goodness.

Thanks so much for your prayers, and Gail, especially, thanks for your concern and follow-up!


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Waiting to see...

Biscuit woke this morning not being able to walk very well. I took her to the Vet ER today and found out she has full-blown lymes disease. Her platelet levels are incompatible with life and he said if I had waited a day she would have been dead. She's on meds and we're hoping they work quickly. We've had a lot of drama this month (3 Urgent Care visits for our family) and I'm not sure if I can lose my 2 year old dog, as well. If you would say a prayer I'd appreciate it.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


July has been event - full!  Much of the month so far has been spent in Urgent Care (3 times in 12 days!)  I'm hopeful we're all on the mend now and that the rest of the month will be quiet, but who knows.  Here's an overview of the first part of July - the good, bad and ugly.

The afternoon of July 1st Tara mentioned she wanted to start using deodorant. At the store we took the lids off of maybe 15 different ones so she could smell them and by the time I got to the car I was itching. By the time I got to dinner the hives covered my arms. By the time dinner was done they were down my torso. By Tuesday morning I was covered head to foot and went to Urgent Care. Three shots and 3 prescriptions later I was down and out until Friday, the first day of "no rash."  I now need to see an allergist. 
Our guess - an essential oil. 

To keep my mind off of the itching I threw myself into quilting a patriotic table runner for the holiday. ;)

My Dad brought ribs and corn over for dinner on the 4th of July and I made a red/white/blue jello poke cake. After we ate the gang went to the local park and watched the fireworks while I stayed home to rest.

Mark used his new chainsaw to take down a dead tree in the front yard.

Summer fun - the girls gave themselves avocado face masks.

Back to Urgent Care on the 11th. Bella, our horse, stumbled and stepped on my sandaled foot. The pain was intense and I thought it was broken. Diagnosis: severe contusion (she crushed the soft tissue only - no broken bones.) I'm in a boot for a few days. The foot is now black and blue, but the feeling has returned to my toes. 
Back to wearing boots when I work with the horse. Duh!

Katie ended up in Urgent Care on the 12th with a rash. She has a bacterial skin infection. We think it happened when she took a fall on Wednesday. Poor thing. It's a patch on her hip and the meds seem to be working. We're doing a lot of relaxing around here this weekend.

My husband has been traveling a lot. This week while he was away he sent me a gift in the mail - 6 jars of my favorite jelly, which I can't buy in any stores around here. (Smuckers Mixed Fruit)
What a sweet gift!

I have an outdoor girlfriend who gifts me with beautiful flowers/bushes for my yard. Here are some gorgeous lilies in bloom!