Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday Sunshine: Christmas Edition

Practicing contentment by remembering thegraces of the week and practicing gratitude through giving.


Christmas is here.  My life is so full of blessings that are too numerous to count.  The ones that really mean the most during this season are (mostly) the ones that can't be purchased.  


:: The friends who are as close as family and the family who are friends.  Our fall has been filled with these wonderful people and they all mean so much to me.  


:: For our health and our [growing] family.


:: For medical professionals who have great bedside manner and personalities and truly love their work.


:: For a warm house, hot showers and food on the table.


:: For the simplicity of a three-year-old's wonder at the Christmas season.  The tree pictured (although with no snow) is our Christmas tree this year and G proudly tells folks "our Cwissmas twee Ou-SIDE!"  I absolutely love it!  She did point out that it needed a star


:: The flexibility of traditions while children are young.  (Stockings don't HAVE to be opened as soon as you wake up, they can become road trip entertainment!)


:: The JOY that come through contentment during this season that can so easily be overwrought with despair and wants.


Wishing you and yours a very contented, 
JOYFUL Christmas Day!


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Sunshine

Practicing contentment by remembering thegraces of the week and practicing gratitude through giving.


I am having so much fun this Christmas season, seeing all of the little wonders of of the season through the eyes of my favorite three year old.  From the "Mommy, Cwissmiss wights!" every time we're out after dark to the excitement when she examines each and every Christmas tree she sees.  She's not made the Santa connection at all, and we're not pushing it.  


This season also brings lights to  our "Christmas tree" and as snow settles on top, it is one of my favorite winter scenes.  


Fresh peanut brittle, homemade caramels and lunch with friends were also highlights of this week.  I'm so thankful for doctors we like and access to good medical care.  Both are such a blessing.


I was also blessed to be part of our Christ's Bounty program at our church.  We provided 90 families with food boxes and the parents of about 50 kids with gently used clothes and toys to help out with their Christmases.  The many volunteers and donations from around the country make this event possible and the recipients were so thankful.  


It has been a week full of blessings.  I hope the joy and peace of the Christmas season surround you this coming week and that you can count your blessings among the busyness of the season.


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

God Gave Us Two

I have really enjoyed being part of the Blogging for Books program.  It's pretty simple, I go through the list and pick a book (or ebook), read it, review it and then pick a new one.  This last time it was time to pick a book, I was skimming the childrens' books because I really wasn't sure how much reading time I'd have between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

One of the children's books available was God Gave Us Two by Lisa Tawn Bergren and Laura J. Bryant.  Since we had just found out we were expecting our "Number Two" it was a perfect pick!  It sat on the shelf for a couple weeks as we waited to tell GTot that she was going to be a big sister.

God Gave Us Two is a beautifully illustrated story of a polar bear family expecting their "Two".  The older child wonders what life with the baby will be like and the theme that children are a blessing from God runs strong through the story.  The big sister asks the questions that I think most kids ask: What if I don't like the baby?  What if the baby doesn't like me?  What if the baby cries too much?  Each question is answered gently and kindly with reiteration of the blessing of a new child.  The illustrations are beautifully done and can tell much of the story on their own.

This is a great story to share with your young children the idea of a new member of the family on the way.  I know we're enjoying it!


December Musings

Life has been full.  I thought things would calm down once the dust settled from the flood this fall.  It didn't.  It only seemed to speed up.  November brought precious family moments and time with friends and visits from some of GTot's aunts, uncles, and grandma.  Thanksgiving rushed upon us and I did precious little cooking for Thanksgiving - I let HandyMan and his brother and do most of it.  It was quite a break - and a treat.

The beginning of Advent came right on heels of Thanksgiving, as it always does, and so begins our Christmas season.  I've begun making Christmas candies- good news!  Now they have to last until Christmas - bad news!   I'm working on the post to share the recipe for some amazing praline caramels that I made on Monday. I'm also working on a book review of a precious children's book that has become a regular in our reading list. 

Life is full.  We are blessed.  May joy, peace and love fill your Advent season.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Practicing contentment by remembering thegraces of the week and practicing gratitude through giving.


I'm thankful for grocery deals, for mechanics who can turn a $340 job into a $40 job, for friends.  For delicious smelling foods of the season and yummy tasting treats.  For health and great doctors who not only have great bedside personality but are great at their jobs too.  For cookies & milk and freezer meals.  For visits from family and time watching GTot enjoy her aunts and uncles.  Facebook conversations and text chatter.  


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Sunshine

Practicing contentment by remembering thegraces of the week and practicing gratitude through giving.


This week I am thankful for . . .


:: Friends. The ones who you can call for help in the middle of the night, who come and hang out and chat over pizza, the ones you catch up with over a long distance phone call or steaming cups at Panera and new friends made over a meal and bonfire.
:: The Non-Routine.  The routine of this week was all messed up and it was good!
:: Folks who will pitch in to help out a stranger in a time of need.  Good people around here!
:: Tortellini Alfredo. mmmm...
:: The hilarious things that come out of my daughter's mouth.  Things only a 2 year old can come up with!
:: Surprise calls and visits from siblings. 
:: Warm house as the temperatures drop.
:: Sunny, clear fall days.


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Treats

Because we live in a rural area we don't see a lot of kids traipsing around on Halloween.  We do get a few folks who know us and bring their kids by, so I try to have something around.  A couple of years it was candy, but then there's leftovers and my will power around mini candy bars is close to nil.

Last year I made sugar cookies and spent the afternoon with YouthGal (aka- GTot's favorite baby sitter) and GTot decorating them.  I wanted to do it again this year but just didn't have the energy to do the whole shebang  sugar cookie - cutting- baking - frosting mess.  So I improvised.  I made a batch of my favorite sugar cookie dough and a batch of the best Chocolate Sugar Cookie dough.  I colored the plain dough orange (well, as orange as I could get it with very little red food coloring in the house) and we cut out pumpkin faces with the chocolate and put them on top of the pumpkin cutouts before we baked them.  We used a pastry cutter to get the zig-zag affect which made the mouths super easy.  They turned out pretty cute and tasted pretty good too!

We didn't use much of the chocolate dough, but that's ok because there's a bake sale I'm going to have to do something for later this month and this dough freezes beautifully!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Sunshine

Practicing contentment by remembering thegraces of the week and practicing gratitude through giving.


This picture to the left is what we woke up to this morning.  It was an amazing winter wonderland and the absolute perfect snow in our area.  It didn't accumulate enough on our driveway to need to shovel and it was mostly melted by tonight.  It brought with it a pristine blue sky and moderate temperatures.  It was a gorgeous morning!


This week has brought time with friends, and some fun evenings out. Other friends stepped in to watch GTot for our evenings out which is always such a blessing to us! 


I read a quote this week on my friend's blog that I absolutely loved: 'Anyone who doesn't treasure my kids, doesn't get to have them'. We are so blessed to have a lot of wonderful folks who truly treasure and enjoy spending time with our daughter and that is the most amazing gift anyone can give the parents of young children!


This week brought the end of soccer season for HandyMan.  While I know he will miss this time with his team, I'm looking forward to having him home a little bit more in the coming weeks. 


This week was not without its trials and challenges, but even through those I'm learning how to be a better mother, wife and friend.   


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sunday Sunshine

Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude through giving.

I've not had much time to blog in the last month, but it was time to center myself this morning and focus on gratitude.  So much has gone on since I last posted, but here are a few of the things  that I'm so thankful for today:

:: Movie mornings with G.
:: Donations of time and supplies to aid the flood relief efforts in our area.
:: Fun evenings out.
:: Surprises.
:: Projects for work.
:: Caramel popcorn.
:: Freezer meals.
:: Coffee & dessert dates with friends.
:: Surprise helpers at my door.

It has been a long couple of weeks, and just when it looks like life may settle down, something else comes up.  Life is full.  We are blessed!

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review: The Corruptible

The Corruptible by Mark Mynheir is a solid who-done-it with a bit of a film-noir feel.  A private investigator is retained by a very wealthy client to track down a data storage device which contains information which is invaluable to his client.  Mix in a missing person, a murder, and a police officer of questionable character and the mystery evolves.

The plot was solid and held my attention but the character left me scratching my head.   I think that the main character reminded me of a combination of multiple characters I've encountered on TV and in other books.  the combination in this new main character didn't sit well with me.

I can't say that The Corruptible was one of my favorite reads, but I can't pin down what was the turn-off. 


Disclaimers: I received a complementary copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as part of the Blogging for Books program. The opinions and thoughts of this are my own and are not influenced in any way. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hello, Sunshine!

This morning I was dragging myself out of bed and to the shower.  The thought of having only two more "wake-ups" until a much needed 4-day weekend helped to pull me through my shower.  I welcomed in the little guy I babysit and lit up the pellet stove to take the chill out of the house.  Seated with a cup of coffee I was greeted by this wonderful image when my desktop weather application opened up.


Hallelujah!  After a month of clouds and rain and floods and more clouds and more rain - this is such a welcome sight!  I hope everyone has a great week!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Three Weeks of Flood Relief Efforts

It's been about three weeks since I posted last.  I mentioned that we were working on gathering supplies to serve "some meals" from the church.  When I wrote that, I had no idea that we'd be serving two weeks of hot dinners and a brunch, totaling over 1000 meals.  

I also talked about getting potable water out to folks who didn't have drinking water.  I had ideas about distributing water through drink coolers since bottled water was a scarcity.  A week after the flood, I was connected with a county official who had us pallets of drinking water within three hours of a phone conversation.  I don't dance well, but I did a happy dance and thanked God for the contact.  I started calling him Santa Claus in conversation around the church, because he would come through with amazing resources that our community needed.  Basic things, but essential.

I had no idea I'd be coordinating cleaning supplies as well.  But I did. Scrambling for bleach, gloves, brooms and whatever else we could get our hands on.  I think I may have walked into a room full of people and cheered when I got a call from a counterpart at another relief site who said he had 300 face masks for our location.  (The face masks are very important for folks who are having to spray bleach on areas that have been saturated with flood water.  I spoke with folks who didn't have them when they were cleaning up from the 2006 flood and still had health repercussions.)

"How'd you get in charge of all this?" one of the high school students from church asked me as we were getting ready to serve dinner one night and a number of folks were milling around gathering up supplies.  "I have no idea!  It just evolved." was my response.  

The last three weeks have been filled with an amazing array of emotions and a level of exhaustion that I haven't experienced in a very long time.  Many hands made miracles happen.  

Relief efforts continue as we are still distributing supplies but the frenzy has died down.  The last couple of days I have been embracing my "normal" routines as we settle back in to fall.  


Friday, September 9, 2011

No Way to Prepare

I felt prepared coming into this week.  My menu was ready.  Activities were organized and ready to go for my daughter and the little boy I baby sit.  The house was in relatively good order.  I was on top of the laundry.  I was feeling good.

But there was no way to prepare for this:





These photos were taken on NY Route 7 in Nineveh,  NY - 19 miles northeast of Binghamton.  Our area is flooded.  Water has reached historic levels in some areas and very close to record levels on our part of the river.  Our house is high and dry but our neighbors to the church are not.  We will be working in the coming days to come alongside them as they pump out basements, shovel out muck as well as doing the same cleaning in the church basements.

Today, it seems that getting drinking water and food-stuffs into town will be the priority.  We are making plans to serve some meals from the church.  If your pantry is dry and overflowing, or if you have extra hands and are willing to help, please contact me at thrivingmama@gmail.com.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Applesauce, Pepper Jelly & Tomato Sauce - oh MY!

Friday on my way home I hit the produce stand and gathered apples, peppers and the other sundry fruits and vegetables I needed for the fridge. While I got dinner ready, GTot and HandyMan picked tomatoes from the garden.

After supper, HandyMan and I got to work.  The order of business: Applesauce, Pepper Jelly (Hot & Mild), and Tomato Sauce.

I have a great KitchenAid attachment that makes the applesauce a breeze.  GTot was allowed up on the counter to watch the tomatoes squish thorough and thought it was the coolest thing!  "Mommy!! My applesauce!"

Then it was on to the Pepper Jelly.  I used this recipe as it is written for the hot jelly and replaced 5 jalapenos with a 5th bell pepper for the mild jelly.  The mild has very little bite and is fabulous with cream cheese.  I had some for breakfast this morning on fresh bread.  YUM!  I'm too chicken to try the hot stuff.  I'll bust it out when my Dad comes to visit next month.

Finally, we cooked up some tomato sauce.  GTot helping again to get the stems off the tomatoes.  I'm a hack-job of a canner.  I'm making it up as I go along and I really hope that this great stuff I've put into jars actually stays good and we can enjoy it in the months to come.  One of my 'experiments' was the tomato sauce.  I added balsamic vinegar and basil to it while it was cooking.  I'm thinking it should be fine.  The batch I made and had for dinner earlier this week was great, so now I'm just hoping that the canned version will be just as good!

The stash above came from 2 1/2 hours of work in the kitchen.  Not too shabby.

This post is linked up at An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Sunshine: After the Storm




Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.


This has been a week of no routine.  I'm thankful for the utility crews who have worked so hard out here on the East Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.  I'm very glad that our power was only out for two and a half days and is back on now.  My garden was spared and our house mostly protected as Irene's winds and rain came through our area.


:: I am thankful for companies who live up to their promises and are a pleasure to do business with.  


:: Homemade tomato soup, applesauce and pepper jelly.


:: Accountability techniques 



:: Extra hands for shopping day


:: The hospitality of friends while our power was out


:: Sunny days to dry laundry on the clothes line


:: Play dates and friends for GTot


:: HandyMan's hard work both at work (in the many tasks and challenges his job presents) and at home to keep our house maintained and improved.


Life is full.  I am thankful.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Power's Out Pizza


We're on day 3 of no power on our road.  While I had planned on using up things in the fridge this week, it's a bit more imperative now that the perishables are living in a cooler on my kitchen floor.  I racked my brain trying to figure out what I could make for dinner with the stove top or grill that would use up the most of what was heading towards moldy in the cooler.  Cheese, pesto and tomatoes were all rescued and piled one pizza crust on the grill.  It was a great dinner!  The tomatoes and basil in the pesto all came from the garden and are some of my favorite flavors of summer!  

Anyone else getting creative trying to selvage their food in the face of a power outage?

Sunday Sunshine: Daily Thankfulness

* I had this ready to go once I added final notes on Sunday - then Irene came to visit and we've not had power since!


Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.


Gratitude and thankfulness have been a recurring theme this week for me this week.  It seemed whenever I hooked up a podcast, turned on the christian radio station or sat down to hear a sermon, gratitude and thankfulness were the theme.  So I dug out a notebook I had started a while back and restarted my dormant habit of listing things I am grateful for in a given moment or day.  Here are a few of the highlights this week.


:: Quiet, cool mornings and warm tea and coffee.
:: Fresh veggies from the garden
:: Impromptu dinner parties
:: Playdates for GTot
:: Sunny days
:: Bills are paid
:: Homemade Jam
:: Sound sleep
Life is full.  I am thankful.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Kitchen Sensory Activity

I follow a couple of blogs that have all kinds of great ideas for sensory development activities for pre-schoolers.  I always look at them and think that sometime I'll get around to doing that for GTot.

Today, as I tried to decide whether to find a busy activity for GTot while I got tomatoes ready to can, or to include her in the process.  I took a look at my project gathered G up to help me in the kitchen.  I realized that the process of peeling tomatoes for canning is an amazing sensory experience for her.

First, she practiced sorting, as she pulled the stems off the tomatoes and put the stems in the compost bin and the tomatoes in the colander.  After I dipped the tomatoes into boiling water and they had cooled in ice water, the fun with textures began.  The textures of the smooth skin of the tomato, the squishy flesh of the fruit, the warm tomatoes and cold water and the colors of the tomatoes engaged her while she "hepped".  An extra squeeze of the tomatoes didn't hurt them in my process.  She continued sorting: skins to compost, tomatoes to my cutting board.


She had fun and I got at "thanks for helping me mommy" when we were done.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pretty, Pretty Jars

This year is the first year that I've done any measurable amount of canning.  I think it's in my blood.  Both of my grandmothers canned extensively.  Grandma Jean's jams and jelly were family legends and favorites around the holidays.  Grandma Foy made sweet pickles that were amazing - sadly the recipe has gone MIA in the family archives.  My mom did some canning when I was a kid and we had a garden.  I've done a couple batches of jam in the past, and applesauce.  Handyman handled the dill pickled green beans.  It all added up to about a dozen jars in the pantry for the winter.

This year, my freezer is a smaller and I'm feeling the impact as I've had a pretty successful garden year so far and the pumpkins and winter squash are promising to need their space in the freezer.  I've rearranged some storage in my house and made room for home-canned goods.

I think I may unleashed a monster.   On Wednesday, it was a 2 pints of garlic pickled green beans, strawberry jam, blueberry jam and lemon blueberry jam.  The jam was to shift the berries from the freezer to the pantry - and turned out oh-so-yummy!  Thursday it was this week's stash of tomatoes.   I keep finding more fun recipes of fun things to make and can.


Is it work? Yes.  Will it be worth it in February when my family is eating produce that I know came from my yard, or locally in season?  Absolutely!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Garden Party:



While the mornings have begun to feel like fall with cooler temperatures, my garden is still speaking summer: tomatoes and zucchini!  Carrots, basil and asparagus are also making regular appearances in my picking bucket.

This is the first year in about four years that we planted the tomatoes in beds instead of upside down pots.  I've forgotten what a treasure hunt it is to pick tomatoes in beds.  Our beds are raised and usually I have to walk around them twice to make sure I've gotten everything.  Then as I walk away, another flash of ruby will peek out from under the foliage and I dash back to pick again! 

I'm shifting some of my preservation to canning this year as I realized how quickly my smaller freezer is filling up!  (The winter's worth of chicken purchased on sale is part of the overload!)  So I dug down deep and found blueberries left over from last summer and some strawberries this summer that I had thrown in thinking HandyMan was going to use them for pies.  He didn't.  So now, those berries are headed for jam.  This week's tomatoes are headed for Canned Tomato Bruschetta Topping.  I think there will also be a couple more jars of dill green beans and some apple sauce heading into the canner.

What are you using your garden produce for this week?

This post is linked up at An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Sunshine: Self Directed Activity


Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.


Sunday slipped past me.  Again.  It was filled with worship, alone time and a resounding theme of gratitude.   


Last week we were blessed with a date night and great friends who kept GTot for us.  G's favorite "big sister" was also able to come and hang out last week giving me some time to work on some projects.  


The end of the week brought the completion of some projects around our house, a successful fundraiser to go towards holiday food baskets in our community and some down time.  


This morning a new week has begun.  I am thrilled to be working my way towards our fall routine.  I got up a little earlier and had a little bit of time to wake up and collect myself before GTot woke up and that always seems to set a better tenor for my day.   Independent play is a new stage for GTot which I am LOVING!  While I worked on my morning chores, she colored and organized her crayons.  While I blog, she glues (occasionally asking for help or for me to "take a turn").  While I hang laundry, she blows bubbles.  It is a wonderful rhythm.  


Life is full.  I am thankful.


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!



Friday, August 19, 2011

From the Garden to the Pantry/Freezer

My garden is doing well, in spite of the cooling temperatures as fall begins to peek around the corner.  I'm regularly harvesting zucchini basil, tomatoes, green beans and asparagus.

HandyMan has picked up a recipe for dill pickled green beans that we have been using on the tougher beans, the tender guys get a place in the freezer.  The asparagus is getting eaten as it comes in, but depending on the crop, it may see some freezer space too.  I'm at the point of giving zucchini away (any takers?).  Basil is being stored as pesto in the freezer and dehydrated in the spice rack.  Tomatoes are heading for this great roasted vegetable marinara recipe.

What are the destinations of your garden produce this fall?  Feel free to link up your favorite fresh veggie recipes in the comments below.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Indelible - By Kirsten Heitzmann

Kirsten Heitzmann brings another great addition to her collection of novels with Indelible and certainly does not disappoint her long time fans or new readers.  While listed on her website as a stand alone novel, it carries over the same small town of Redwood, Colorado and cast of characters as Indivisible which I reviewed a few months back.

Indelible brings a gifted sculptor, Natalie, to Redwood who can capture an a  persons' flash of emotion in clay.  We are also introduced to Trevor, a gold-medal skier turned wilderness outfitter who's past drives him to rescue and protect all those around him.  Their paths cross when Trevor rescues Natalie's nephew from the jaws of a cougar on a trail outside of Redwood.  As their paths intertwine, complicated relationships with family and friends brings additional stress to their forming relationship.

The plot is deepened even further as Heitzmann weaves the works of a disturbed individual who also feels the need to rescue and protect the weak and innocent, but his actions are less than noble and puts the innocent in even more danger than they may have been and he has his sights on the children, visually impaired and the weak of Redwood.

Two plots of light and darkness are interwoven into a wonderfully suspenseful page-turning read.  Short of the "guy-gets-the-girl" ending, there is nothing predictable about this romantic mystery.



Disclaimers: I received a complementary copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as part of the Blogging for Books program. The opinions and thoughts of this are my own and are not influenced in any way. This post contains affiliate links.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Asparagus Round 2!

Last summer, another gardener friend mentioned to us that they were eating fresh asparagus in September.  We had a cool summer so I thought it was possible.  When I commented my surprise that his asparagus was still going, he told us that he lets it bolt in late June or early July and then cuts it all back in the beginning of August for a second crop.  This year we decided to give it a try, and what do you know, it worked!  I picked this handful of  fresh spears this afternoon:


I'm also picking the second crop of green beans and I have a bucket of ripe tomatoes collecting in my fridge.  I think I see tomato soup in my near future!

How does your garden grow?

This post is linked up at An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Sunshine

Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.


Sunday slipped past me.  Now it is Monday.  Handyman returned safely from a 183 mile bike trip through the Catskills last week. He made the trek along with 120 youth and leaders and seemed to have a great time.  This Monday is the first Monday of soccer coaching of the season for HandyMan.  He's a volunteer assistant and thoroughly enjoys getting out on the field with the high schoolers.


While HandyMan was away, GTot was awesome!  Sure she missed Daddy but she was an absolute pleasure of a kid.  One morning last week, I'm not sure which one, she woke up speaking in full and complete sentences.  Her verbal communication is growing exponentially on a daily basis and it makes life so much easier!  I received wonderful bits of respite throughout the week (thanks GM and KW!).  

Last week was also Vacation Bible School at our church.  We had about 30 kids every night
coming to play and sing and eat.   The week was topped off with a carnival night that seemed to be enjoyed by all.

Life is full.  My priorities are still being adjusted.  We are blessed.


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!





Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Webspace...

Welcome to my new corner of the web!  I enjoy blogging and it is a medium that I enjoy using to connecting with friends and others who share some of the same aspects of the day with me:  be it gardening, chasing toddlers, cooking or crafting.

My posts have been on the decline lately because the summer has been busy and the software I was using was obnoxious.  To keep all the geek-speak out of this, lets just say that the way I was doing my blog was rapidly becoming confusing and "un-fun".

So it was time to change.  I hope you enjoy the new web-space as much as I am!  I've transferred most of my stuff over to this new site, but some of the links may still send you back to the old site.  If that happens there's a link at the top to bring you back to the Active ThrivingMama site.   Thanks for reading and I hope you'll take a look around!

P.S.  So sorry about the inundation of posts if you subscribe in a blog reader - something glitched when I switched a program over.  Another switch too out all my photos, so I'll be working on that in the next couple of days!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Book Review: Restless In Carolina

Restless in Carolina takes the basic long-stemmed rose of a boy-meets girl romance and adds in some crinkly-petaled carnations of family dynamics, some grenery of environmental awareness and some baby's breath of faith and grace delicately placed among the conflict and characters to create a Christian romance that is as unusual as it's characters.

Bridget Pickwick Buchanen is forced to face her long held grief over the loss of her husband when confronted with her sister's words through the mouths of her five-year-old niece and nephew. Clinging to grief, this barefoot, jeans wearing, landscaper finds herself in designer-business professional attire to come up with an environmentally friendly option for the sale of the family estate. As the faux fascade fades back to her Levis, so does the acuity of her grief as ahe finds that just maybe there could be another 'happily ever after' in her future.

Tamara Leigh does a wonderful job of incliding subtle details to fully portray her characters: each of whom holds their own conflicts and secrets. Having not read the first two books in this series (Leaving Carolina and Nowhere, Carolina), I feel Leigh has done a great job creating a stand-alone story. While reading the books in order would provide depth to the other family members, Bridget's story stands alone nicely.

Restless in Carolina was a very quick vacation-week read for me and I look forward to looking up the other books in this series.



Disclaimers: I received a complementary copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as part of the Blogging for Books program. The opinions and thoughts of this are my own and are not influenced in any way. This post contains affiliate links.

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Sunshine

Practicing contentment by remembering the graces of the week(s) and practicing gratitude by giving.

My heart is full, like the clouds that are pouring rain right now.  I was blessed with a week away with my family last week.  I've picked my first tomatoes and my garden runneth over! We were blessed to be able to invest in our home and add a little bit more space that will provide a much needed eating area (for he who designed our house, didn't put one in and we were running out of elbow room at the breakfast counter!)

Our time away included great time with friends and family, way too many late nights talking and playing games.  Thought provoking messages from the camp speaker and great play time for GTot and "other kids".  We arrived on Sunday and by Tuesday GTot would wake up calling "Other ki-ids, where are you?!"

Life is full.  My priorities are again taking on a new appearance.  We are blessed.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Sunshine

Practicing contentment by remembering the gracesof the week(s) and practicing gratitude by giving.

The heat of summer has set in and while it has been HOT, I'm so thankful for the sunshine!  We have had lots of time to play in the water at the local lake or pool and in the backyard pools of gracious friends. G love the water and has had a lot of fun this month!

This week we were also blessed with a night away - thanks to the Granny Nanny who came to stay with G.  HandyMan and I got to go see one of his favorite bands (highlight of his year) and I got an hour to go play at Ikea (highlight of my month!).

Life is full.  We are blessed.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Walk in the Garden

In the midst of a very full summer, I finally caught an evening when the G-Tot was settled in bed before I ran out of energy and I was able to take a stroll with the camera to catch some of my yard and garden to share.

One of my favorite things this summer is this fantastic hanging pot that was gifted to my husband.  A local farm grows these and they're gorgeous and it really hangs almost four feet.  With all my purple hostas in bloom - it's one of my favorite views right now.



On the vegetable front, I have the most beautiful broccoli I've ever grown:



We're picking green beans by the bucket load every two days (ok, its a 2 quart bucket):



It also looks like it's going to be a great year for tomatoes in our garden too!  I am so excited but don't want to count my tomatoes before they're ripe.



Things are great in our yard this year.  How's your garden growing?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Sunshine

Practicing contentment by remembering the gracesof the week(s) and practicing gratitude by giving.

It seems that I've entered a season of life in which time for reflection is sparse.   G-Tot is adding words and phrases to her vocabulary on an hourly basis and wakes up running!  I grope for coffee and breathe a prayer, and shuffle into the day.

I'm so thankful to have a little bit of time today to get organized for the week to come, to process the last few weeks and to just sit, alone, with my thoughts.

We have enjoyed visits from family, a decent craft show, and today celebrated church members who have celebrated 80 (or more) birthdays.  What a blessing to see these spry "youngsters" join us each week, and oh the stories they tell!

I've been pulled into the tidal wave of planning and fundraising for our church's VBS program that will take  place in August.  It's a joy to see all the little folks involved and running around at church too.

While it is only July, I'm glad for craft supply sales as I begin to plan what I'm going to do with G-Tot and another two-year-old that I baby-sit in the fall.  I'm also grateful for all the moms who are much better at that kind of stuff than I am and post their ideas on their blogs!

The gloomy fog of June has lifted and sunshine reigns in our area.  My garden thrives and wild berries are taking over my flower beds.  I choose to have no complaints.

I hope you can choose to do the same this week!

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Menu Board

In the last few months, I've found that it is increasingly dangerous to have a laptop on the kitchen counter in the presence of food preparations and a toddler.  I've also found myself being sucked in by the shiny screen and going off on recipe chases and toddler activity scavenger hunts and losing large amounts of time.   It is also the information center for many of my day-to-day activities: recipes, weather, calendar, communications.

As I try to balance a home, toddler, work and life in general, I'm finding that sometime this wonderful tool is more of a hindrance than a help.  As I work on finding balance, and in an effort to save it from getting a bath in strawberry jam,  my cute little netbook is getting grounded.  I'm trying really hard to only fire it up when either a) GBaby's asleep or b) it is a designated working time.  (Read: I'm hiding somewhere and HandyMan, or some other gracious soul, has eyes on the tot).

When I tried implementing this type of limit on myself in the past, it worked great for about 3 hours until I was setting out to prep a meal and needed a recipe online.  Then I'd jump on the computer really fast to pull it up.   Then since I was already on, I needed to check the weather and the news and blogs and, oh yeah, the calendar too to see if HandyMan is home for dinner tonight... You get the idea.

So, as a solution to this problem, as well as to encourage myself to more reading and less surfing, I recently got a new toy, er, I mean organizational tool. It has basic web capabilities which is great for pulling up those recipes.   So, I've added a new page to my little corner of the internet here: The Menu Board.  See the tab up at the top?  If you click, you'll find all the recipes that are on my menu for the week with links, and a few other categories of recipes that I like to have at my fingertips.  Think of it as a notepad you might find on my kitchen counter - because there's not much glamour or organization to the page [yet].  I've bookmarked the page on my new toy and have my recipes for the week one click away.

Someday I may take the time to actually organize it into one of those nifty Monday Menu posts, but for now, I'm keeping it simple!  So if you're in need of some menu inspiration, check it out and click around.  There's some yummy stuff there!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Sunshine: Iced Coffee & Quiet Time

Practicing contentment by remembering the gracesof the week(s) and practicing gratitude by giving.

This weekend is marking the beginning of a brief summer schedule for our family.  While it has been great a baby-sittee in the house during the weeks, it will be nice to have a break from it for the next couple of months.  I continue my work for camp and for candles which has helped us save towards our "one of these cars is going to die soon" fund.

I love this time of year when fresh produce abounds: strawberries, spinach and asparagus have all arrived on our table fresh from the garden.  Ripe tomatoes and fresh green beans are right around the corner!  GBaby loves to help water.

In this season for outdoor activity, I'm so glad that GBaby will happily endure sunblock and bug spray.  She is very conscious of "bad bugs" since she seems to be a walking bug bite since the end of April.  As soon as we call out "bug spray" she knows it's time to go outside and with come and hold out her arms and legs.


Life is full.  I am blessed.


Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Treats

The weather is warming up, this is the last week of school in our area.  I know - they go so late up here! I thought I'd put up a few of my favorite summer goodies that are pushing their way onto our menu and into the cooking line-up in the coming weeks.

Reduced Sugar Strawberry Jam - Strawberries are in peak season right now and we've already picked about 15 pounds worth that have been put in the freezer.  I'm planning on going back on Saturday to get some more for jam.

Fajitas - This wonderful grill meal has already made it on the menu in June and will be making an encore appearance in July.  It is such an easy meal that can keep everyone happy!

Dozen Layer Finger Jello - When I asked HandyMan back in May what he wanted to see more of on the menu, he said "jello".  Go figure. I guess it's time to make finger jello again!

Peanut Butter Cup Freezer Pie - This is a go-to easy recipe for a quick, easy, cold summer dessert.  I just have to figure out what occasion to make it for.

What fun summer recipes are you dusting off as the weather warms up?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Favorite Kind of Day

Today I am working my hours at Made in Chenango.  It's a great little crafter's co-operative in Norwich NY.  As  part of my candle business, I am a member here and part of the requirements are to sit hours manning the store.  After an unfortunate incident in March, involving rain pouring into our first floor store, the co-op was closed while we determined what we wanted to do next.  After a lot of work on the part of our board of directors, they found a new location that is beautiful.

Over the last three month's I have missed these days working at the store.  I've realized how much I enjoy these days of going to work and getting a break from the multiple hats I wear at home: mom, baby-sitter, cook, house-keeper, gardener, and the list goes on.

Today, rain falls, soft music plays and I get to work - uninterrupted - on my stack of projects.  It is absolutely wonderful!  And the icing on the cake of the new location: WIFI!  It is a good day!