Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Cheerful *Hello* & Healthy Banana Bread Recipe

Hello friends! It's been a bit since I last posted. Despite my scroogie-ness of Christmas...we are still super busy this time of year. We still get together with family, exchange gifts and fellowship. There is just *no* way around it...and I don't want to be a *complete* scrooge (it sure is difficult to stand by your convictions when traditions are so rooted in everyone). Anyway...I just didn't have the time to post. We have taken this week off from our schoolwork though so while I filled a couple sticker orders, I thought I would sit down and post quickly!

Chris and the children (as well as a couple of our nephews who are spending the night) are in the living room watching Tim Hawkins (Christian comedian). It makes me smile to hear the laughter and giggles coming from the other room! :)

Although I *did* eat too many sweets this holiday season I also continued exercising (although I haven't stepped on the scale ~ EEK!) and even made a healthy banana bread to share with family. It is moist and super tasty!

Below is the recipe I found on thechalkboardmag.com (Sorry...I forgot to take a picture after it was done!):

Quick and Easy Healthy Banana Bread

* 1/4 c. butter
* 1/2 c. greek yogurt (I used 0%)
* 1 c. honey
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 3 very ripe bananas
* 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
* 1 t. baking soda
* 1/4 t. baking powder
* 1/2 t. salt
* 1 t. vanilla
* 1/2 c. walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350*.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the butter, greek yogurt, honey, bananas, eggs and vanilla. Set aside walnuts. Beat the wet ingredients thoroughly. Pour wet ingredients into flour mixture. Beat again. Fold in walnuts.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan.

Bake for 60 minutes at 350*.

It's that time of year again....lots of candles are lit throughout the house daily. The warmth, smell and cozy feel of the candles are just so enjoyable in contrast to the cold outside. Our snow and ice have melted (for the most part) though and temperatures have been in the 30's. I think it is suppose to snow again later this week though. Although I am not a huge fan of the cold and snow, I *am* thankful it gives the ground a time for rest. Plus, it seems my push-mower has broken (I tried to use it one nice day in the fall for a *last mowing of the year* day...and it wouldn't work.). Since it can't be used...I'm glad the grass isn't growing! Ha! :) Hopefully Chris will be able to fix it by next spring so I can continue to use it!

Since we had church and some other family get-togethers this past Sunday, we did our little gift exchange with the children Saturday evening. Chris's brother came over and had supper with us (beef roast, mashed potatoes and corn ~ frozen from the garden) and stayed to watch the children open a few gifts. We don't do a ton...but we do some and what totally warms my heart is my children's gratitude for what they receive (as they know their daddy worked hard to earn the money to pay for the items and I took the time to find them things they would enjoy or need). They were also so generous with their giving to each other and loved watching each other open gifts! :) Here are just a few photos I took...

I know what you are thinking...Christmas lovers are like: "YAY! A Tree!" and Christmas Scrooges such as myself are like: "What? A tree!?" Hahaha....It's just a decorative tree (up year-round). The children put a few ornaments on it that they had...for fun. I don't consider it a Christmas tree at all...the kiddos actually put the ornaments on in October or November...and I just didn't mind them or bother to do anything about them. I just love having the white lights on the tree in the evenings throughout the year. It's pretty!

For supper tonight I made up some rolls, chipped steak, sauteed onions and some homemade oven fries.What did you have for supper? Anything tasty? 

I hope you are all doing well! Thank you for stopping by. Can you believe it's almost 2017!? The wheel of time just keeps spinning and I can't slow it down! It's crazy and bittersweet! Watching my children grow and mature in the Lord is *such* a blessing...but it just seems like it is happening too fast! Goodness ~ Madelyn will be able to start driving this coming year! How can that even be *possible*...I mean, I just turned 16 last year...right? *snicker*

Hey, if you give that banana bread recipe a try, let me know how you like it! It's a hit in our household! Have a great week friends and may you have a beautiful start to the New Year (I'm not sure if I will be posting a final post for 2016 or not! We'll see!). Thank you for sharing in my journey with me!


Linked up at: Strangers & Pilgrims

Friday, December 16, 2016

~ A Spurgeon Gem ~

"There is the finite and the Infinite, there is the mortal and the Immortal, corruption and Incorruption, the manhood and the Godhead, time married to eternity! There is God linked with a creature, the Infinity of the august Maker come to tabernacle on this speck of earth—the vast unbounded One whom earth could not hold and the heavens cannot contain—lying in His mother’s arms! He who fastened the pillars of the universe and riveted the nails of creation, hanging on a mortal breast, depending on a creature for nourishment! Oh, marvelous birth! Oh, miraculous conception! We stand and gaze and admire. Verily, angels may wish to look into a subject too dark for us to speak of! There we leave it, a virgin has conceived and borne a Son." 

~Charles Spurgeon The Birth of Christ

Although I don't *do* Christmas and don't celebrate that Christ was born on December 25th (and find no scriptural reference to celebrate it as such since it is a man-made tradition)....I still marvel and worship at the thought that Christ was born of a virgin. He humbled Himself to take on the flesh of man and live a life of perfect obedience (Philippians 2:8) in our place. He gave Himself for us...as it is written:

...the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. 
(Romans 3:22b-25)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christby grace you have been saved— 
(Ephesians 2:4-5)

He suffered, gave Himself over to death and rose again three days later. What a God we serve! I recommend this article by John Piper....it is beautiful, beautiful truth friends: He Loved Me and Gave Himself for Me.

 I encourage you to remember the miracle and beauty of His birth all year round....as well as the perfect life He lived and His death in *our* place. These are beautiful truths that we should meditate upon every.single.day. As spectacular as His birth was, without the perfect life of obedience, death in our place, and resurrection...it wouldn't do anything to secure our salvation. 

So enjoy celebrating Christ every day....for ALL that He is and has done for us! 


Linked up at: Strangers and Pilgrims

Sunday, December 11, 2016

6 Ways to Keep Your Home Tidy

 I am far (so very far) from perfect and my house is nothing fancy. I live in a fixer-upper. Some of our walls are imperfect. We still have siding to put on the dormers of our home and we need to replace some more of the windows. Our home is just as imperfect as I am. However, a happy home doesn't have to be a perfect home. It needs to be tidy, comfortable and full of joy and love!

In this post, I am sharing six of the ways I work at keeping my home tidy. This is not a "how to deep clean your house" post...just some ways to keep it tidy from day to day so the chaos of clutter and mess doesn't bog you down!

1. Clean as You Go 

Whether you are cooking, wrapping gifts, crafting....no matter what you are doing it helps to keep things from getting overwhelming by cleaning up as you go. Put garbage in the trash can and put things away where they go. It can take a little extra time up during the process of whatever you are doing...but in the long run, it saves you from a big mess afterward. I *always* do this and it is so nice not to have a messy kitchen after making supper. While things cook I will wash a few dishes I have used, wipe the counter and throw things away.

2. Place Baskets in Areas Where Clutter Happens

I use baskets because I like them....but you can use whatever sort of container goes with your home's decor. To have baskets in places where clutter seems to multiply helps me by taking all things that don't belong in that area (that belong to others) and place them in the basket (I put some of the items away if they belong to me or I know where they go). This removes the mess from the immediate area and confines it to the basket until things can be properly put away (I let the family know they need to get their belongings out of the basket).

3. Do a 15 Minute Tidy Before You Go to Bed (or leave the house)

Every night (or before I leave the house) I always do a pick-up time. I call them a 15 minute tidy. I'll tell the children it's time for one and they know what to do. Sometimes I just do one on my own. I go around the living room and pick things up...fold blankets, fix pillows on the couch and put things away. I like the living room to be tidy most but if I have time and notice some things need tidied in other rooms, I will do that too. It just takes a few minutes of your time and then, when you wake up in the morning or get home from running errands, things are tidy! It is a glorious feeling! :)

4. If Something Needs Done...Do it

Okay, those of us training up children need to teach them to be responsible and to clean up after themselves (see Tip 5). That being said...I make it a habit to do what needs done. If I am walking by something that needs picked up...I pick it up. If my husband leaves clothes on the floor...I will pick them up. (He doesn't need scolded about it.) If there is a paper on the floor...I pick it up and throw it away. Yes, it is annoying at times...and I will speak to my children about it if they were being irresponsible or neglectful. However, noticing things that need done and just doing them makes me happy to have them *done*. :) It helps keep your home tidy and a place where people can enjoy being!

5. Delegate

If you have children they should have chores. This teaches them responsibility and teamwork. Even young children can have chores that are suitable for their age. **Do not delegate to your husband though (it's not your job to give him housework).** My children alternate vacuuming, dusting, putting clean dishes away (from the dishwasher...and the sink dish rack. I wash them), putting their laundry away (Madelyn washes her own laundry too). The boys help clean the toilets (....since anyone with sons knows how boys are). Our chores and rotations work well for us. Each family has their own dynamics of what works for them. What I *do* know is that if you are not training your children up on how to properly care for their home ~ you are hurting them rather than helping.

6. Purge

The last tip I have is to get rid of things you don't need or want. Don't let guilt or over-sentimentalism (is that a word?) make you hold on to things that are just collecting dust in your home. Too much stuff isn't necessary and it can make your home uncomfortable for your family. Take time to target specific areas each week that can be gone through. For example, make sure to go through your children's clothing from time to time. Take the old play clothes and make them into rags or throw them away. Clothes that are decent but too small...hand them down to friends who could use them, sell them, or donate them! :)

So there you have it...my little list of things I do often to keep my house tidy! :) I hope you find this helpful! If you have any tips to add...please leave them in the comments below!

Have a great week friends!

Linked up at Strangers & Pilgrims

Monday, December 5, 2016

*Living Windows* & Jaxson's Birthday

 My boys (as most of you may know) take lessons on the banjo and the guitar. Their teachers signed them up to participate in something our town does during the first weekend in December called: Victorian Christmas. People dress up from back in Victorian times and there are different activities going on. Another part of Victorian Christmas is a thing called "living windows". That is where people dress up and do something in the store windows around town. Some do art things....some play instruments etc. My boys were assigned a store window in a flower shop where my cousin works! We didn't even plan that! It just happened that way so it was quite fun! They played in the window for an hour this past Friday evening.

You couldn't hear them outside, unfortunately, however you could go inside the store, warm up and listen to them play! (Plus, it is good for the store owners who can get sales by people coming in! Lots of stores have fun sales!)

If you go HERE you can see a picture of them at our home...all dressed up! :) Don't they look so handsome? (A big thanks to Grammie for getting them their outfits!) Also, if you click HERE you can see a picture of Madelyn and me while we were there.

It was a nice time! Did you notice the trees in the above pictures? Don't they look like trees from a Dr. Seuss story? ;)

In other BIG news....my *baby* turned 11 this past weekend! I think I started this blog when he was 2 or 3! For those of you who have followed along with me for a while...can you *believe* he is ELEVEN? It's a beautiful blessing and I am so very grateful to be able to watch him grow. It's just so bittersweet because I do miss the little guy he used to be!

My sister and the girls came to town on his birthday which was such a beautiful thing since 1. My sister doesn't feel all too great lately (You can see the short video I took HERE to know why!) 2. They haven't been able to make it to one of Jaxson's birthdays since the girls were born because of it being in the winter...they just haven't been able to make it!

So Jaxson, still in his pajamas, got to open his gift from them while they were here!

Later he got dressed up to go to his little family party (as in previous years it is held at my inlaws' meat market. It's deer season and the men folk are busy bringing in the deer to process and so the only way to have the men there too is to have the party where *they* are. Jax, thankfully, never has a problem with it)...

He is loving the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland so we made cupcakes and I made the toppers...

Sad to say...but I couldn't find my candles so he didn't have any to blow out this year!

He had a nice time and was thoughtfully gifted from loved ones! :) My mom was fantastic as she made meatball subs and homemade broccoli-cheese soup for supper for everyone! The meal seemed to be enjoyed and the cupcakes were pretty much devoured! A simple but joy-filled party for our 11 year old! :o)

I know it has been a while since I last posted. Things have been busy lately and sometimes it is hard to take the time to sit down, upload pictures and write. I do appreciate you taking time out of your day to stop by though! I hope you have a great week ahead!