Friday, November 29, 2013

cabin thanksgiving

Here's a few glimpses of yesterday.
We gathered this year with my family.
So lucky we could celebrate the day at my sister and brother-in-law's cabin in the mountains.
A treat to spend the night, too.

It was an adventure getting there. 
My brothers got stuck in the mud. 
Car and foot. 
(Poor Andrew and his brand new shoes.)
Our dog Lucy getting sick with all the winding roads. 
(Not fun.)
Seeing a bald eagle hovering right above us while we stood out gazing at the magnificent view before dinner. 
A rare, never before sighting.
Also spotted was a beautiful, scampering fox off the side of the road, a herd of deer, and some wild turkeys in a clearing.
Reuben's fried Hush Puppy appetizers were a hit.
(Our Cajun heritage coming through.)
Papa said if we ate enough, we'd soon be speaking French.
Little Ellis stealing the show.
Those cheeks, so irresistible.
My pies were a success, if I do say so myself.
Roasting chestnuts in the fireplace.
Dogs in every direction.
Book seclusion.
Longings for my two missionaries.
(It's just not the same.)
Hootin' and hollerin' over Brazilian Candid Camera
videos on YouTube.
Head, leg, knee, foot, and hand massages 
for Mama and Papa.
"I can't believe how good that feels. Emily and those healing hands of hers," comments Dad.
Late night board game playing around the table.
Pie for breakfast.

So fun.
So good.

Another Thanksgiving at the cabin two years ago here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

peanut butter popcorn: a family night treat

Around here, Monday night is Family Night.
Kind of like the night's reserved just for us.
We've made it an important part of our family culture from the very beginning.
We do our best to make it happen, even though one or more of us might be away.
Some nights are more successful than others, if you know what I mean.
Sometimes our evenings might have a story, a lesson, a discussion, or a time for planning.
Maybe it might involve an outing, a game, 
a movie, or a project.
There are some things we always do, too. 
We read and talk about a section of scripture.
We always sing a hymn or other song at the beginning of our time and then at the end.
We open and close with prayer, as well.
We all take turns.

Tonight, we had french toast and fruit for supper.
I lit the candle.
We read aloud our missionary kids emails from last night and this morning.
After we did our usual opening routine, 
(while Isaac did a professional job of giving me a scalp massage)
we made a list of activities we want to do throughout the month of December.
We have lots of plans.
Almost all of them are things we do every year.
It just wouldn't be Christmas without these family traditions.

Family Night just wouldn't be Family Night without a treat.
So tonight I went into the kitchen and popped some corn on the stove.
Isaac reminded me that I haven't made peanut butter popcorn in a long time.
It's always been a favorite with us.
It's kind of a good fit for fall.
You should try it sometime.

I was just going to post the recipe,
but then I remembered that I already posted it awhile back
when I made it for the Cub Scouts.
Here it is, anyway.
(I guess it's good enough for a repeat.) 

Peanut Butter Popcorn

10-12 cups popped popcorn
1 cup dry sweetener (any kind will do)
1 cup honey, maple syrup, agave, or corn syrup. (I haven't used corn syrup in years. You could also do half and half like I did with honey and maple syrup.)
1 cup peanut butter
1 t. vanilla

In a saucepan, combine dry sweetener and liquid sweetener. Stir constantly and bring to a boil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour over popcorn and stir well. (I like to pour this onto a cookie sheet and let it set up a little.)

It's really best to eat this when it's still warm and chewy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

morning view from the bedroom window

“Gratitude goes beyond the 'mine' and 'thine' and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” 

~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

notes from a wednesday

This morning, I had the opportunity to do a little photo shoot for my friend Norris. (The Potter-Man, I call him.) He's been cranking out some very beautiful pieces in preparation for a show he's participating in this weekend. 

He's such a talented artist. Every time I pull one these bowls down -- whether it's for my morning oatmeal or lunchtime soup, or those nights I need just the right serving bowl for the dinner table vegetables -- it always becomes an even more meaningful and pleasurable experience.

On the way home, I stopped the car a few times to capture a few last glimpses of autumn. I have a feeling it's fading fast.

I got my hair cut. I picked up kids from school. And now a coconut bundt cake is baking in the oven. It'll be my offering for the church women's group potluck I'll be heading to tonight.

Coconut is my all time favorite. Especially if nuts and chocolate are involved. 

The house smells heavenly.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

gratitude sunday

:: long, luxuriating soaks in the tub.
:: joy and smiles receiving sweet, delicious emails and familiar airmail letters in the mailbox. him pouring his heart out to his mother ("Well.. my mom.. she's really my best friend..."), filling up six pages with his perfectly beautiful handwriting, his growth and his goodness.
:: warm and sunny November days.
:: rainy November days.
:: feeling positive, feeling good. An excitement, even, when I first wake up in the morning.
:: enlightening library books.
:: baking cookies. that's always cozy.
:: dishes done, an empty sink
:: feeling a growing sense of strength, flexibility, ease, and rest that's coming through my yoga practice.
:: nice, warming mugs of tea.
:: snuggling with Isaac in bed on a lazy Saturday morning.
:: the pleasure of the warm water flowing onto my hands
:: YouTube videos. what a great way to learn new ideas.
:: the joy it is to receive compliments.
:: pumpkin curry for dinner. and for breakfast. and for lunch. and dinner again.
:: autumn light.
:: capuring the perfect glimpses of November. such a gift this is.
:: staying calm through various situations this week. not allowing anger and frustration to escalate when it would have been so easy to.
:: happily cleaning the house and how wonderful it all felt afterwards.
:: shaking with excitement, tears of absolute joy with the way this project turned out. looking upward, a "thank you! thank you! thank you!".
:: while standing alone to check out my library books, all the sudden feeling two small arms suddening wrapping around my waist, hugging me so tight. looking down to see her little smiling face looking up into  mine.

Friday, November 15, 2013

being peace

Live in such a way that you embody true peace, that you can be peace in every moment of your daily life. It is possible for everyone to generate the energy of peace in every step.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

finding gratitude

 With the celebration of Thanksgiving Day coming up here in the states, it's natural for many of our hearts to turn towards gratitude this month. I not only believe it is one of the most important spiritual practices there is, but I also believe it has a power to shift oneself into greater joy and greater peace. I know this for myself. 

This blog has been a tool in this regard. Capturing all the good and beautiful in my life. Turning thankfulness into something tangible. Like going on my own treasure hunt, if you will. A concrete way to acknowledge, note, and record mostly the simple, every day blessings that surround me.

On and off, I've kept running lists of things I'm grateful for. I have journals full of them. Unfortunately, I've gotten away from doing this in the last year or so. Recently, I felt inspired to start another journal solely dedicated to gratitude. (I won't deny the fact that I always get a little rush of pleasure just starting start a new, fresh journal!)

I've been thinking more and more that this naming and listing not only brings me joy, but it may also be the means to allow even greater abundance into my life. As my heart is full, as my hand records, and as my eyes observe these lists and lists, it's only natural that this practice will become a magnet to attract even more blessings and greater joy to come into my life. 

This week as been quiet. One of introspection, too. The cold that was brewing at the end of last week hit with full force on Sunday. Enough to put me to bed for a couple of days.  I can't remember the last time that's happened. Grateful for the chance to rest, to read through many of the books I picked up on Saturday's trip to the library, watch a couple of movies on Netflix, and just enjoy a slower pace. Maybe it's my body's way of  "decompressing" after  the intense push I experienced in October.

A pot of comforting soup was made and has been enjoyed, too. Yesterday, I made some homemade body wash to go with the shampoo I made last week. I can't tell you how yummy they are. Even made some healing salves, too.

Grateful to help the two clients I gave massages to today. I love this work and I'm loving my days.

P.S. Just want to (finally, finally!) express my gratitude, love, joy, and wonder for all you dearies who have left comments here (or through email or Facebook) this past while. I feel terrible when I don't acknowledge all your sweet words of kindness, encouragement, and friendship. I hope you know how much each word touches my heart. That you would even take the time out of your busy lives to stop by.

I'm so glad you are here. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

around here

Hello my friend. How are you?

I know I've been a little scarce around these parts. Even though my week was pretty ordinary, it was full and good. 

Some of us have been battling colds. Two days with sick kids home from school. For the last few days, my body has been feeling like it's been on the verge, but not full blown. I'm trying my best to keep things at bay.

It's been so nice to feel a sense of freedom to my days lately. Relishing to have time and margin while the kids are gone during the day. Grateful for the space to actually decide what I want to do with my time. Maybe a run, a yoga class, a shopping outing, a mid-day movie, time in the kitchen to bake. 

Actually, a lot of my time this week has been spent working on a "creative project". A secret surprise. I can't tell you how excited and absolutely joyful I feel in seeing this all come to fruition. 

It just makes me want to cry.

Isaac and I went to the library this morning after my run. Looking forward to delving into my stack later on.

Everyone's gone but me. The boys headed to my parents to watch a football game. (They have ESPN and we don't.) Eliza's at her school painting her mural. 20+ foot school mascot spanning a wall in the lunchroom. She, alone, has been staying after school every day since the school year began. This project, which is going on nine months now, is taking more time than she ever imagined. She's so dedicated in seeing it through to the end. I tell her that she's another Michelangelo. 

If you can believe it, I looked forward to time alone this afternoon to tackle some cleaning and organizing projects. This week I mixed up some homemade cleaning products. Amazing what you can do with simple household pantry staples like baking soda, vinegar, etc. Adding some essential oils to the concoctions makes my home smell so good, too. If you are interested in the recipes, go to my Pinterest boards here . I even pinned my own blog post "Homemade Cleaners" so I can find it easier that way! ) Even made my own shampoo this week, too. 

According to Sam, that's taking things a bit too far.