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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring Days in the Garden

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. The reality is the gardens in our new home are proving difficult at best. I'm dealing with horrible soil that is mostly clay mixed with a lot of stone and rock along with inclimate weather. The gardens are at the point where I look at them then get frustrated because I simply don't know where to start. The problem is we really are still in the tearing out

Monday, April 28, 2008

He slept SEVEN hours straight last night...

... and for some reason, everything is looking particularly wonderful this morning. ;-)

Growing Basil

Basil is an annual with many varieties. It is a bit of a chameleon, coming in a range of sizes, leaf colors, leaf shapes, and aromas. A fast grower, basil is native to Asia and Africa, and has a solid, if not revered place in the kitchen.

Growing Basil

Cultivate basil in full sun and provide it with well-drained soil that has a layer of mulch to reduce moisture loss. Basil can't tolerate frost

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Make Herb Croutons

Herbed croutons are easy and inexpensive to make and are a great use for stale bread.They make a tasty addition to French onion soup and add a satisfying texture and crunch to salads. You can even crumble them into your meatloaf and meatballs.Herbed Crouton Recipe1 tablespoon dried marjoram1 teaspoon dried thyme1 tablespoon dried parsley1 tablespoon garlic powder1 teaspoon onion powder1 teaspoon

Show & Tell: My Post-Partum Link Party

Because I've been in my post-partum stay-close-to-home mode (translate that to: "I've been spending a lot of time reading on the computer while feeding and snuggling with my son"), I've got a lot of links for you this time. (And, unashamedly, as a proud mom, I'm showing off a few recent pictures of my kiddos.) Enjoy!

  • KNOWING GOD'S WILL- Randy Alcorn gives excellent advice about discerning the will of God-- that it's often more about who we're becoming than what we're doing.


I've received lots of "thank you"s over the months for these show & tell posts, so full of links and reading material. But then I know these are overwhelming for some of you. I have to confess, I love seeing all the "out-clicks" on my sitemeter after posting one of these posts... it's so neat for me to see these great articles all being read and (hopefully) useful for you. It is a passion of mine to point people in the direction of good information/resources that will help women and families to honor God more.

Please feel free to e-mail me if there are particular topics you'd like to see more links about, or if there are articles you find that might be worth including in my show & tell posts in the future! Additionally, if there are things I could do to make these links more useful for you, let me know!

Thanks-- and happy reading!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Make a Mint Julep

With the Kentucky Derby coming up, it's time to get into the spirit by learning to make a mint julep. It isn't for every taste, but everyone should try it once.

The recipe consists of two parts: First you need to make mint syrup. I like to use peppermint and spearmint for a more dense flavor, although you can probably use either.

Mint Syrup Recipe
2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups fresh

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Growing Mint

Mint is the first herb I ever saw growing in the ground. I was about ten and brushed up against it at the nursery where my mother was shopping for edging plants. I was shocked that a plant could smell so strong, and be so true to the aroma I most associated it with – candy canes and gum; both big winners in my book.

That chance encounter started my life long interest in herbs. I've kept many

My Hardest Life Transition (So Far)

I have heard many friends talk about how their hardest transition was from single to married (had to learn compromise, teamwork, etc.), or from one kid to two (having to learn to prioritize needs among children), or from two to three children(no longer a one-to-one parents-to-children ratio). I can understand all of these, but even though we're still in the midst of the adjustment to being a family of *six*, I think the hardest transition in my husband and I's hearts and in our marriage was going from being a married couple to being parents when we had our first son.

When you have that first child, so much in your life suddenly changes... and you really *CAN'T* anticipate it. People try to warn you: GO OUT ON DATES. People try to tell you: SLEEP IN EVERY DAY THAT YOU CAN. But you really don't *get* it until you make the transition. Even if you try to implement the things people warn you about (going on dates, sleeping in, etc.), you really don't appreciate them in the same way you will a year later.

Here are some of the things that I remember that hit me HARD with that first couple months of being parents:
  • It suddenly began taking us 30 minutes to get out the door. (Nurse the baby, get him dressed, oh wait, he spit up on that outfit, get him dressed again- this time, put a bib on him in case it happens again, grab extra diapers, wipes, burpcloths, etc... then RUN out the door.)
  • We didn't have free reign over our schedule anymore. This is the one that (for me) I really wasn't prepared for. Staying up late and sleeping in early couldn't happen (at least not for both of us). Going out just cause we feel like it and walking around for as long as we wanted... couldn't happen without some planning and that previously mentioned 30-minute window of getting out the door. Dropping by someone's house or having someone else drop by yours is all suddenly colored with the attitude and age and developmental stage of this new little person (is he clingy right now? will he cry because he's teething? is he grabbing everything in sight and putting it in his mouth? will I need to nurse him right when they get here?, etc.)
  • It was difficult to keep our conversations from completely centering around that little wonderful boy God had given us. Granted, that's normal and it's a great part of becoming parents-- falling in love with this new little person. But it does take a while to figure out how to make your marriage a priority above being mommy and daddy.
What about you? What life transition has been (or is being) the hardest for you and why? Becoming an adult? Going to a certain number of kids? Reaching a certain age? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

CrocusApril 14, 2008How did you spend Earth Day? I found it difficult to say I'm going to give up using this or not going to do that for the day. The reason being is we try to celebrate Earth Day every day so some things folks get excited about doing for Earth Day have been a norm for us every day for years. I spent a good portion of the day cleaning out the side yard gardens, most of it

Monday, April 21, 2008

Keeping Cats Out of the Garden

I have been inundated with requests for tips on keeping cats out of the garden. Here are my personal favorites:

For some years, I had big problems with cats in the flowerbeds. These days our dog, Harry, takes care of the problem, but before he decided to come live with us I developed some guerrilla warfare tactics that worked for me.

Cover A Cat's Favorite Hideouts

If you watch the areas that

Discreet Breastfeeding in Public

Can you tell by some of my recent topics that I'm in the throes of newborn life? :-)

Last night, I sat down and did the math: out of the past 82 months of my life, 80 months have been spent either pregnant or nursing a baby (and occasionally, both). So, while it's on my mind, let me share what I've learned about the "art" of nursing in public.

(1) If you don't feel comfortable nursing in public, that's OK. Just find a corner or a toilet with a lid on it or a nursing lounge (the newer malls that have these are GREAT, aren't they?!), and take care of things there. It's OK to not be comfortable with public breastfeeding, especially in those early times with your first baby, when you're just figuring things out!

(2) Don't let ugly looks or comments from stranger
s get you down! I don't think I'll ever forget my first time nursing in "public"... we were moving from Washington, D.C. to Dallas and Doug was driving a U-Haul cross-country while I flew. After a successful flight with my 5-week old son from Washington to somewhere else (maybe Memphis?), I knew we were nearing the time for him to need to eat. I snuck into a bathroom and found (to my disappointment) that the only place for me to sit was in a little hollowed out spot, up against the wall, supporting him with my legs, JUST in the place where women had to line up to wait for the toilets. Nice. So I did the best I could, covering up with the burp cloth, etc., but of course, as a newly breastfeeding mom, I'm sure more showed than I would have preferred. But I was in a women's restroom, for crying out loud! Well, you'd have thought I was doing something ghastly and evil, from the responses of some of the women! I still remember feeling humiliated by some of their stares, even though I was absolutely committed to nursing and knew they were just poorly informed about all of the *wonderful* benefits of breastfeeding. (Of which I was VERY informed, being a new mom who had voraciously read every single book I could get my hands on about breastfeeding!).

All that to say, I can still remember the glares, so I know how easy it is to feel intimidated about nursing in public. But hang in there. Be as discreet as you can, but don't let others make you feel bad! I'm glad to have not let some silly old biddies change my course-- and I'm thankful to have successfully breastfed each of my kids (so far) for at least a year.

(3) Be as discreet as you can. There's no need to "flaunt it". When we lived in China (and I was nursing our third baby), one of our friends (whose wife was, at the time, expecting their first baby) remarked that he never realized when I was nursing when we went out to eat. I used a cover-up and he was none the wiser. Especially in the beginning, it will take time to get used to breastfeeding (I wasn't that comfortable nursing in public with our first baby), but it can be done discreetly, in a way that won't embarrass you or others.

But once you feel comfortable, and want to nurse in public, here are some ways that you can be discreet about it:

Option #1: Nursing Cover up- The idea with this is that you can wear whatever you want, and just whip out the cover-up whenever it's time to feed the baby. It covers the nursing "area" as well as any tummy area that might show on that side while feeding. Here are some options:
Option #2: Nursing tank bra- The great thing about this is that you can wear it under shirts and it covers up your tummy for you while nursing, while your actual shirt covers up the rest. (Here's another version of that idea.) You don't have to have an additional item (like you would with option #1) with you, and it can be worn under any top. The only potential downside is that it adds another layer, which may not be desirable if you live in a hot area and it's August or something. I've really enjoyed my nursing tank tops, though... they're very handy!

Option #3: Use a blanket. Not that fancy or "hip", but it works. I've never had much luck with this method, as I'm always struggling to hold the baby in the right position when they're a newborn, and once they get older, they can easily pull the blanket off. But my sister-in-law could always do this smashingly, so you may do well with it too.

Anyone else have great ideas or tips for nursing in public? Or do you have any questions about any of this? Fire away, as always-- in the comments box!

Blessings on you and your little ones!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Uses for Parsley

Parsley is a great "medley" herb. It plays well with others to create a dish with a nice blending of flavors. It is one of the key ingredients in bouquet garni, and is a familiar herb in any number of salad and egg dishes, stuffing, and soups. When using parsley, add it toward the end of the cooking cycle unless you are planning on discarding it (as with bouquet garni).Parsley has long been

Growing Parsley

Flat Leaf (Italian) Parsley

Parsley may be the most easily identified of all of the herbs. It is a common resident of the bins and shelves of produce departments around the world, and is the most beloved garnish available for the table. In the garden, there are two common varieties: curly and flat leaf (Italian) parsley.

What is a Biennial Herb or Plant

Both curly leaf and flat leaf

Lavender Ice Cream

If you are taking a needed rest from your gardening, or gardening prep duties today, spare a few minutes to look at my lavender blog. I have a recipe for Lavender Caramel Ice Cream that makes a nice summer treat.If you are heading out to the plant nursery or garden shop later, don't forget to pick up a couple of English lavender plants. Lavender can be a great addition to your garden, kitchen,

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Starting an Herb Garden

A while back, I wrote a brief article about starting an herb garden. It has some good summary information that will be helpful if you are just getting started. Give it a quick read at: Planting an Herb GardenWhen you've finished, the posts below will give you more in-depth tips. If you need background on specific plants, the side bar listing on the left will give you shortcuts to recent articles

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hardening Off Herb Seedlings

If you are planning on putting your delicate seedlings out soon, don't forget to prepare them for the outdoors first. "Hardening off" your immature plants by introducing them to nature in small increments will help avoid setbacks. It's sad to see your seed starts fail, so do everything you can to prepare them for the greater world by following a few simple instructions:Start the Hardening Off

Leftover's Anyone?

Okay hold on to your hats, you are about to see pics of the most over-the-top antique shop I have EVER seen live and in person. The furniture, the accessories, the displays... All unbelievably fab! If you are ever even remotely near Brenham TX I encourage you to stop by Leftover's. Thanks guys for letting me take pics!

The night we went they were having their famous Antique Week Party. Here are the girls left to right: Luann(Patina Green), Heather(PresentPast Collection), Casi(Patina Green), Theresa Smith(Time Worn Interiors), Linda Marcov(Willow Nest), Shelly and Carol(Raised In Cotton). Down front are myself and Theresa Cano(Garden Antiques Vintage).

Marburger All Stars~~Part Three

Rounding out my top three favs at Marburger is Judy Hill. I have seen pics of her booths from past shows, but honestly you must admire the talent of this woman in person to truly get it. She is edgy and witty and I found her positively refreshing. I can't wait to see what she does for the fall show. Hats off to you Judy.

Marburger All Stars~~Part Two

When I stepped into this booth my jaw dropped to the ground in utter amazement at the drop-dead-gorgeous offerings that are French Vanilla. Really Peg and John, you couldn't have picked a better business name if you'd tried. Your masterful arrangement of the treasures you selected truly inspire me to keep getting better at this. You are both sweeties and Mr. Sweet Pea and I can't wait to see you in the fall. Enjoy the eye candy.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Growing Marjoram

Marjoram is a tender perennial herb in the oregano family. It's frequently placed on the oregano page of herb texts, so it's easy to miss sometimes; and in the garden, too, it can look like oregano, with its small gray-green leaves and bushy habit. Marjoram is a very different plant, though. I've heard it described as a milder oregano, but that seems like giving it short shrift. Marjoram is mild,

Marburger All-Stars Part One

One of the best parts of doing a show like Marburger Farms is meeting the dealers who really knock it out of the park. These people are stars. They not only sell unusual, edgy, jaw-dropping stuff but they put it together like nobody else can. Watch out Anthropologie! First up the one and only Theresa Smith of Time Worn Interiors. She recently changed her name from Cottage Gardens and her link is under my favs so check her out. Here are some pics from her fab booth. Props also to Craigy-poo for his great tin top tables and his charming personality.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Growing Oregano

Oregano is a half hardy perennial with small green leaves and purple (sometimes pinkish) flowers. It reaches a height of 12 to 18 inches. The common term 'oregano' can refer to a number of plants, some of which have very little flavor. The Greek oregano (Vulgare hirtum) is considered the most flavorful for cooking purposes, although Italian oregano is also used. I should add here that marjoram is

Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

My garden was a buffet for Japanese beetles until I discovered a trick for banning them.I read a number of discouraging articles about how difficult it is to get rid of them. I also tried looking at commercially available traps, only to read about the hazards they present to pets, and how they have to be kept cleaned out (ugh). I even read that the traps can attract more beetles than they

Battling Bedtime?

I don't ever want this blog to be a place for fakery or inauthenticity, and thus, I don't ever want it to seem like I'm one who "has it all together". That's far from the truth. Yesterday, I almost blogged about what a mess our apartment was and what a wreck I was (a dissheveled, unshowered mess as my husband left for work)... but I didn't even have the time to blog about it... that's how "not together" I was. :) The truth is, we all have weak spots and weak moments. But we all have strengths, too. And so, in a spirit of wanting to help other young moms, I want to share something I think we've done well.

So I'll just come out and say it: our kids are all excellent sleepers. And it hasn't been by "luck" as many people implied when we "just" had one or two children (I know all you moms of one or two out there are thinking, "JUST?!?!"). We have worked at it intentionally and made it a priority, for several reasons:
  • Health/disposition of the baby
  • Time together as a couple in the evenings, from about 7:30/8pm on
  • Sanity of mom! :)
I have heard other moms gripe about this aspect of child rearing (moms who are still waking up with a 2, 3, or 4 year old, or parents whose children get out of bed for that proverbial "glass of water" about 6 times a night), and so I want to openly share what has worked for us. While these things aren't some kind of magic "formula", I do believe that they have each contributed to having three (working on four) "good sleepers" in our young family.

(1) Our kids have all started out on a Babywise routine, and have slept through the night by 5 & 1/2, 8, and 10 weeks respectively (we'll see how Silas does... he'll be 4 weeks old tomorrow and he's doing two 4-hour stretches). We try to help our children have good sleep habits from the beginning. With four very different children (different personalities, body types, weights, and one with reflux), this simple method (eat/wake/sleep cycle at roughly 2-3 hours between day feedings) of helping get an infant into a basic routine has been such a blessing for our family.

If you're a pregnant mom, check it out. If you're an exhausted mom, check it out. If you're just curious, check it out. I've loved it and have found it to be a wonderful tool for our family's rest, health, and sanity. You can check it out here.

(2) Consistent bedtime, with no ins and outs. Occasional legitimate bathroom needs or sickness are acceptable, but anything else will teach their little minds to come up with "excuses" to be out of bed! From about 6-8 months on, our kids are in bed by 8pm and sleep until about 7am. A consistent, predictable bedtime helps their active & growing bodies get the rest they need. And it gives mommy and daddy a built-in together time. Even if we never left the house for an official "date" (which we occasionally do), we have built in that needed time together in the evenings to maintain and strengthen our relationship as husband and wife.

(3) "But what about crying it out?" We have never used the "cry it out" method with an infant. That said, once a child is consistently sleeping through the night and starts waking up, we check for any unmet needs or problems:
  • "is she teething?--if so, offer an icee and perhaps some tylenol
  • "does he have gas?"-- if so, use gas drops. liberally.
  • "is an arm stuck through the crib slats?"--if so, gently remove it and console baby. ;-)
  • "did something scare him?"-- if so, snuggle and help him calm down.
  • "does she need her diaper changed?"
  • "is she sick?"
  • etc.
Once we've gone through the list of possible needs/problems, and feel confident that all needs have been met (even if it's just that they were scared and woke up needing a quick snuggle), we put them back to bed and expect them to sleep.

Both older boys went through a period of waking up randomly with no needs or problems. In that circumstance, once they have exhibited a consistent ability to fall and stay asleep for the entire night, and their needs have been met, we expect them to sleep at night. It's that simple. So both boys had about three nights of "crying it out" to get back into that normal nighttime rhythm. The first night, they cried for the longest. The second night was less, and the third night was virtually none. After that, they (neither one) have had any night wakings aside from the very infrequent sickness or nightmare.

Some moms balk at "crying it out", but really, three nights of fairly short crying (the sum of which might amount to 2-3 hours total, if that) is a small "price" to pay for the entire family getting the rest they need. Particularly as compared to months or even years of time without a full night's rest for mom or baby.

(4) Two or more children in the same room? Instead of hassling with separate bedtimes, or worrying that they'll talk themselves into oblivion, play Bible stories and God-honoring music on tapes or CDs to fill that time while they're falling asleep! Not only does it help them to fall asleep, but it also occupies their minds with wholesome things. My sons have learned worship songs, memorized scripture, and had the stories of the Bible planted in their minds and hearts during this time between bedtime and falling asleep. A mom of eight recommended this to me, and since we began implementing it, we've never stopped. Our sons love it (they have something neat to look forward to as they get ready for bed), we love it, and I believe God is using that time to teach our sons and draw them to Himself, as they learn to worship and love His stories in those 20-30 minutes as they're falling asleep.

So those are my basic tips for avoiding the "bedtime battle", with little ones at least. Perhaps you disagree philosophically with one of my points. That's fine; I'm just sharing what has worked for us. I'm not attempting to say that it would work for everyone.

We've worked hard to help our children get the consistent rest they need, and because they've always gone to bed at a reasonable time, they happily go to bed now-- it's not work, it's not a fight, and it never has been. And as a bonus, Doug & I have built-in time together in our evenings. It's a blessing for everyone!

Hopefully something from our experiences can bless you, too. Sleep well! :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lemon Balm Tea

For a refreshing tea, try lemon balm. It makes a good mid-morning pick-me-up, and in the evening with a little lavender honey it will help you relax. Oh, and it tastes great too. Take a little trip over to my tea blog for the recipe and a link to information on growing lemon balm in your garden: Lemon Balm TeaIf you're not a tea drinker but have been wondering what all the fuss is about,

Make Your Own Bouquet Garni

The term bouquet garni comes from the French, meaning garnished bouquet, and was made up of sprigs of tied, fresh herbs that were used to season the stew or soup pot. Before serving, the bound herbs were removed and discarded.

Bouquet garni has changed over the years, but there is agreement that the original term probably referred to a combination of parsley, thyme, and bay leaf in a ratio (

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thyme for the Garden

I couldn't help the play on words . . . although I tried. Thyme is the traditional herb of courage, and was often used as an ingredient in teas, soups, and as a main ingredient in tokens and sachets to encourage good luck in battle, in overcoming shyness, and in 'winning the day'. The word thyme may well derive from the Greek thymon, which means courage.Growing ThymeThyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Imperfect Past, Imperfect Present... Hopeful Future

Did you come from a divorced family, an abusive home, or some other past that keeps you feeling trapped in the "not-good-enough" category? Maybe it's the choices that you made that leave you feeling like you can never measure up with the "Joneses" around you. Perhaps you were raised in a fully-faked "perfect" (on Sundays) Christian family, and it leaves you feeling like authentic Christian faith in family life is (in reality) impossible.

Or maybe it's your present that leaves you feeling discouraged. Perhaps you are currently not living out anything like the kind of life, marriage, or family life that you *know* you should be living, but you just don't know how to do any different. Maybe you find yourself consistently doing things that you know you shouldn't do, and not doing the things that you know you should do. (For what it's worth, the Apostle Paul felt the same way.)

I just want to say, first of all, that I know at least some of what you're feeling. The choices I made as a young teenager (and the pain and grief that came from them) kept me in bondage for nearly 10 years, feeling as though I would never deserve anything good (isn't it sad how the devil twists the truth? NONE of us deserve anything good... it's not as if I was alone in that!), and that because I didn't *deserve* it, God wouldn't give it. What a crock of lies!

Which leads me to the second thing I want to say:
God is not like "karma"!
  • He is MERCIFUL-- (He doesn't immediately give us what we deserve.) He doesn't want to "stick it" to us and get us back for all the wrong we've done, tit for tat. In fact, He is slow to anger, and abounding in love and forgiveness.
  • And He is GRACIOUS-- (He gives us what we don't deserve.) He offers an abundant life, fully in line with His design of us and His purposes for our life. Even when life is difficult or when we face struggles, His plans for us are ultimately good.
He doesn't put our lives into a spreadsheet, weighing out the good and the bad, and from that input, determine what to give us (a good/bad marriage, lovable/intolerable children, abundant/struggling finances, etc.). But He DOES look for those mustard seeds of faith. Faithful choices, faithful words, faithful prayers... He wants our FAITH. He desires for us to HOPE in Him. We don't have to have our act together, or pull it together all by ourselves... He just wants our faith so that HE can do His work in us.

I have to tell you: He has been SO gracious to me... and He will do it for you too. His grace in your life undoubtedly will look different than what His grace in my life has looked like... He deals with us each in unique ways. But He WILL give it. He gives grace and mercy to those in need. He gives strength to those who wait upon (hope in) Him. He promises to give wisdom to those who ask Him. He gives favor to the humble.

So hope in Him! Admit your need, wait for Him, and humbly ask for wisdom. Don't let the imperfections of your past (or even your present) keep you from hoping in Jesus for your future. If you do, it doesn't mean everything will turn out like you've planned it, or like you want it to (from your perspective right now)... my life certainly hasn't turned out exactly like I thought it would. But I will say this: HIS plan for your life is going to be far more full and rich than the carrying out of your plans ever would be.

Don't be held back by what you've been, or even what you are today-- HOPE IN THE LORD!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Relaxing Lavender Tea

Good morning, everyone! Happy Saturday.When you take a break from your busy schedule this afternoon, try making some relaxing lavender tea. Here's how: Lavender Tea RecipeLavender is a sedative and antispasmodic. A cup of hot lavender tea will relax those tight muscles in you neck and back, and reduce some of that tax-time worry. The recipe calls for English Breakfast tea, but your favorite brew

Food for Thought for Homeschool Moms (and other onlookers)

"In a seemingly obscure NT passage of Scripture, Jesus says some of the most profound words concerning education and discipleship in the entire Bible. Luke records His words: 'A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.' (Luke 6:40) ... This raises one of the most important questions Christian parents will face concerning the discipleship of their children. Whom will your children resemble at the completion of their 'formal' education?"

~Voddie Baucham Jr. , Family Driven Faith, p.123

Of course, this makes me consider carefully who else I might ever put as a teacher over my children (I currently teach our children at home, and my husband does an excellent job discipling through regular family devotions and life-on-life discipleship of our children). And when I first read this passage, I'll be honest-- that's where my mind went... "wow! I can't imagine putting some other random person or entity in charge of my children's character!"

But it also reminds me of my own inadequacies as a teacher of my children. If my children continue to be fully trained by my husband and I, will that be enough? Am I being all that I want them to one day be? And of course, the answer is woefully "no". I lack so much that I want them to have. When I look at the other options, though, I am personally convicted that the responsibility rests on me to teach my children (even if I eventually "outsource" for things like geometry and physics).

Which means I need to BE what I want them to become.

I've got a judgmental/critical spirit that needs to be turned away from. I've got impatience, arrogance, hatred, bitterness, and more that needs to be dealt with... and I lack the self-control, love for others, and compassion that I desperately want my children to have. It is ridiculous for me to try to teach them to avoid doing the things that they consistently see me doing (losing my temper, criticizing others)... and it is silly for me to hope to teach them to consistently do things that I don't do (take my frustrations to God in prayer first, for example) .

Which means I've got a lot of work to do. The only solution, of course, is that I intentionally and willfully make Jesus my teacher-- and prayerfully strive to become more and more filled with Him, and thus, more and more like Him. I must be in the Word-- I must be filling my mind with the pure, good, and right, and casting off those sins that would destroy both me and my children.

It's a tall order-- only possible with His grace.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I Won An Award At Marburger!

Okay I'm not sure some people would be flattered to win an award for being the #1 Junker at Marburger, but if you know the context of the word "junker" in the circles I travel in, then you know it's a good one. I'm sure most of you are familiar with the JunkMarket Girls~~Sue Whitney and Ki Nassauer. They've been featured on HGTV many times and have written two books on re-purposing "junk" into treasures. Well, Sue was at Marburger doing a book-signing and giving demos on several of their projects. She also walked the show looking for booths that featured treasures made from salvaged materials and gave out awards to a few select dealers. And...looky looky~~I got an award for the potting table Mr. Pea and I made from an old dresser and various pieces and parts!! I was super flattered and even teared up!! Check it out~~I got a trophy cup, a best-in-show pin and an autographed card showing what I won for. How cool is that?

Thanks Sue! For more info on the JunkMarket go to

Rode Hard and Put Up Wet aka First Time At Marburger

Howdy Y'all! Well I finally feel like I'm getting my head above water! What an eye opener these last two weeks have been! Mr. Pea and I are just back from the fabulous Marburger Farms show where we set up for the first time. What a blast although we are both exhausted. We met the nicest people and made many new friends, and I have developed a profound addiction to clothing by Magnolia Pearl. She is the sweetest person as is her partner John. The latest issue of Country Living features an article about her that is pure eye candy. See my favs list for a link to her.

So after an interesting trip out where the framework near the wheels on my brand new trailer was coming apart and a lengthy detour off I-10 in Houston we finally arrived. The first three days were set-up days and the show started on Tuesday. We had beautiful weather all but one day when it rained and the temp dropped to the low 50's. Can you say Brrrrrr? But Saturday was back to normal and all in all I was pretty happy with my debut at the show. I can tell you that this is the real deal of shows. No garage sale junk and the best of the best in all categories of antiques. Here's a peek at my booth before the onslaught...

We started home on Sunday hoping for an uneventful trip. Alas it was not to be. We hit another detour off I-10 in Biloxi and then at 3:30 am on Monday (yes we drove straight through) after almost 22 hours of driving we had a blow out on a trailer tire. Again with the trailer! We were less than an hour from home but luck was not ours this time. We crawled into bed at almost 5 am and pretty much wrote off the rest of the day. The next day we were back at it as we had to load the trailer contents back into the shop. I really must say I can't remember the last time I felt so pooped but slowly I am getting on track. The shop is 99% back together and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Please check back as I will be posting more on the show and a couple of the fun events we went to in our "off" time. I'll also let you know about an award I won for the re-purposed pieces Mr. Sweet Pea and I made as well. Until next time....

Thoughts on Economy - Preparing for a Frugal Christmas

If the economic news is getting you down and thinking ahead to the holidays is a nightmare, there's a bright spot on your gift-giving horizon. Start an herb garden! Many of the herbs you grow will make great, inexpensive gifts this fall. You can start now.Start Planning for Your Craft Projects Early Watch for sales and snatch up those decorative bottles, Epsom salt, sea salt, essential oils, wax,

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Make Baja Crema (Variation on Mexican Crema)

A creamy accompaniment to fish tacos, vegetable dishes, egg dishes, and hummus, Baja Crema is a delicious combination of tart and smooth. I've added some spice to the traditional Baja Crema, giving it some unexpected zip.Baja Crema Recipe with Herbs (lime thyme, dill, and garlic)1 cup mayonnaise1 cup sour cream3 tablespoons fresh lime juice1½ teaspoons grated lime peel½ teaspoon fresh dill½

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Chamomile Herb Profile (Anthemis nobilis)

Worshiped by the Egyptians, chamomile has been a favorite in the garden for centuries. Short and lacy, with miniature daisy-like flowers, this half-hardy perennial has many uses both in the garden and out.

Growing Chamomile

Be sure to give chamomile full sun and light, well-drained soil. It thrives in mildly acidic conditions, and the liberal addition of sand is welcome. Keep it moist in

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Herb Hummus With Dill

Hummus is one of life's great treats. Even before it became popular in the U.S., I was a fan of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and used them in soups and salads. This easy hummus recipe spices things up a little. Give it a try on a hot summer day. It's filling and refreshing.Herb Hummus With Dill Recipe1 (12 – 15oz) can of chickpeas2 tablespoons tahini2 tablespoons lemon juice2 tablespoons lime

Monday, April 7, 2008

Make a Great Tasting Herbal Tea for Indigestion

If you have occasional trouble with indigestion or gas, try a delicious tea brewed with ginger and cardamom. Both ingredients are time honored herbal remedies for stomach ailments, and they're delicious, too. Here's how:Ginger Tea with Cardamom RecipeCut a 1 ½ to 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peal and slice very thin. Set aside.Boil three cups of water in the microwave or stove top. If using the

Quick Query #26: What Useful Skill Do You Wish You Had?

It's been a while since I've heard from many of you... so, in an attempt to draw you out of your online "shells", I have this question for you:

If you could pick ONE of these useful homemaking crafts/skills to instantly acquire and be able to use in your everyday life, which would you pick?

(A) Sewing - to make clothing, draperies, and other cloth goods that look professional
(B) Cake Decorating - to bake and design beautiful cakes, from the simple and elegant to the elaborate and detailed (great talent to have for kids' birthday parties!)
(C) Furniture Refinishing - to take hand-me-down or antique/used furniture and wisely select fabrics, recovering and refinishing to look elegant and professionally done
(D) Knitting/Crocheting - to make nice-looking quality afghans, sweaters, and other items from yarn
(E) Carpentry - to design and craft quality furniture and other useful wooden items
(F) Painting - for everything from wall hangings to detailed decorative painting on furniture and walls to designing unique wall treatments

Please share which you would pick and WHY-- how it would be helpful in your current life! :) Can't wait to hear from you!

Graphic from Alphonse Mucha, Moterosso Villa

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Make Your Own Lemon Balm Hair Rinse

Herbal hair rinse can have some substantial benefits. It gently deep cleans hair and helps control dandruff, and it increases your hair's natural shine and highlights. The addition of beer as part one of the rinse process also helps add body and volume to limp or thinning hair.Where mass produced hair rinses can contain waxes that build up on your hair, or chemical stabilizers to prolong its

Herbs To Grow in Problem Areas

Herbs grow well along walls, sheds, and fences, adding color and texture to areas that can appear bald and unwelcoming. A little herbal green near posts, downspouts, faucets, and pet pens can camouflage unsightly areas and add a little whimsy and panache to a bare spot. If you want to dress up a plain or neglected area with herbs, the following lists should help:

Herbs to Grow Along the

Treating Children as Individuals

Confession time: lately, between nighttime feedings, trying to carefully use our pre-made frozen meals, and snuggling with this new little fun person in our family, I've found myself making blanket statements to our three oldest children:
"Go find something to do that doesn't involve bothering each other."

"Everybody just grab a book and pick a couch that someone else isn't sitting on and READ!"

"Go pick a toy and play with it. By yourself. NOW."

And while I realize that these are some of the most difficult times-- transition as a family, lack of sleep, emotional and hormonal upheaval-- and while I recognize that this is merely survival mode... I still can hear myself reminding me, "they are each individuals-- you need to be parenting each one wisely!"

We try to do this normally-- assessing each one and trying to meet his/her needs and help him/her to rein in/fight those things that are problem areas. But I'm definitely having to be more intentional about it in this time of transition. It's so easy to let things go-- but they need me now too. They need me to still meet their needs- and that includes character needs.

The one who needs to be taught that emotions are not for manipulating others. The one who needs to learn to sit still, stop fidgeting and PAY ATTENTION, at least for a few minutes a day. :) The one who needs to learn the joy of focusing on making others happy rather than himself. The one who needs to stop hitting at the slightest hint of frustration. The one who needs more affection normally anyway. The one who needs face-to-face time together. The one who longs to be particularly near me throughout the day. I've got to keep these things in mind, even as I'm adding a new personality and new routine to the mix of our family dynamics.

It ain't easy, but if I can just put it (and keep it) in perspective, it'll be eternally worthwhile.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Lemon Balm, The Scent That Refreshes -Your Hair

If you're a busy woman with a schedule to keep, but want a pick-me-up in the middle of the day, or an effortless and natural way to make your hair smell wonderful after hours in a stale office, try lemon balm.

Refresh With Lemon Balm

Lemon balm grows easily in the garden or indoors, and its fresh, light fragrance is the perfect wake-up in the morning, or when you are starting to get

Friday, April 4, 2008

Dill Vinegar Recipe

Dill in flower

Dill lends itself well to herbal vinegar. Add it to fresh vegetables from the garden like carrots, cauliflower, or cucumbers. It also makes a nice low cal ingredient in salad dressing, sauces, and marinades. Make up a batch to instant-pickle your peppers, or spice up your mustard crusted salmon.

Dill Vinegar Recipe


3 cups of cider vinegar
8 to 12 sprigs of fresh

The Facts About Dill

Dill is a popular pickling herb with an impressive historical pedigree. Its uses date back to the bible. That lanky, fernlike, yellow flowered plant you see in the produce department of your grocery store was once so valuable that it was kept under lock and key. And even though its monetary value has plummeted over the centuries, its appeal hasn't.

The Colorful History of Dill

Once an

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Easy Lavender Bubble Bath Recipe

You can use relaxing lavender aromatherapy oil to make an indulgent but inexpensive bubble bath. Here's how:

Lavender Bubble Bath Recipe

1-1/2 cups of water
3/4 cup unscented shampoo (an inexpensive shampoo works fine)
3/4 tsp. salt
15 to 20 drops of lavender oil
red and blue food coloring (optional)

Combine all ingredients but food coloring and blend well.

Combine food coloring in a

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sterilize Garden Soil

If you have a bad patch of soil, one that's been giving you problems that chemical solutions just don't completely fix, try a more natural solution. Cook your soil clean. I've created a post on my gardening blog that explains the steps. Take a look: Sterilize Your Garden Soil

Periwinkle, A Shade Loving Herb

One of the lovelier flowering herbs, periwinkle (Vinca major) is a popular shade plant that isn't picky about soil as long as it drains well.Propagating Periwinkle In spring, it can be divided or propagated from cuttings. Take five-inch lengths of stem and place them in a porous potting mix. Provide plenty of water and dappled light until they root. Periwinkle also roots readily as it creeps

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Herbal Flea Control and Your Dog

Rosemary Flea Control

Don't let fleas get out of hand this summer. Natural herbal flea control can help you get a handle on fleas. Eucalyptus is a natural enemy of fleas, and eucalyptus oil is used in some flea control preparations.

To foil the nasty little pests in your home, place eucalyptus in dog bedding, under carpeting, and in furniture. Sachets of eucalyptus can also be placed in

Show & Tell: Fun Finds for April

***Just wanted to share some exciting (for me) news: my letter to Maranatha has been published at the Gender Blog put out by the Council for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood. (This feels like silly self-promotion, but I'm so thrilled and feel so honored and I wanted to share it with all of you!) ***

Get ready for some fun links-- these should give you lots of interesting reading, so here we go!


  • Mt. Sinai, Moses & the Exodus: This video is absolutely incredible; it's in 10 parts and takes about an hour and a half to complete. Full of interesting, on-the-ground archaeological and geographical research into the biblical account of the exodus based on the biblical text, the evidence unfolds before your very eyes. Ethan & I had so much fun watching this video after having read through the exodus account over the last few weeks in school.
  • Butterfly Emerging from Chrysalis: I was explaining this to the boys a couple weeks ago and realized that there was probably a video on the internet that would show the whole thing. Bada-bing, bada-boom- I found this... a time-lapsed video that shows it in high-speed (and then you can click to watch the slow, real-time version). The internet has its drawbacks, but stuff like this is so incredible!
  • Dinosaurs in computer animation: Based on bone structure and placement, animal "norms" and other research, Discovery channel put out these interesting videos that show what dinosaurs may have looked like in their original environment. Interesting stuff.
  • I love you, but you love meat: not only an interesting commentary on veganism, but also an interesting commentary for all of us to consider about how personal idiosyncracies or preferences might keep otherwise compatible men & women from marrying and starting a family together.
  • 83 Years of Marriage: what a neat story! Maybe we'll make it to 83 years-- there's at least a chance- we were married at 21! :)
  • Holding Out: Boundless wrote a great article about young Christian singles who seem to be waiting for greener pastures... I'd love to hear from you guys on this-- do you think this is an accurate assessment of how things are going among Christian singles/college students?
  • Either Serve God Wholeheartedly OR Get Married?
  • An honest commentary about the "appeal" of abstinence education as it's been done by churches and Christian families in recent decades
  • Girls: Rod Dreher shares his thoughts about the natural differences between the sexes.
  • Is a Woman Just an Egg-Factory? Around the world, this is happening more and more.
  • Bratz at the Beach: Crunchy Con shares some great thoughts about how the culture is affecting teenage and college-aged girls and their aims & dreams. It's disappointing and insightful all at once.
  • Buying Clothes: the frustration of being a normal woman in a sex-driven, cleavage-baring, nothing-off-limits world-- do you ever find yourself wondering, "where can I get some normal clothes???"
  • Questions You Should Never Ask ANYONE- my friend Bethany compiled a great list of rude questions people ask when they oughtta just bite their tongue (I've been asked some of these!)!
  • Stages of Responsibility: I found this to be helpful for ideas and to evaluate the reasonableness of asking kids to do various things around the house. It's a listing of chores and home responsibilities based on children's ages and skill levels
  • On My Sewing Machine: Shannon might just inspire you to pull out the fabric & thread!
  • Depressed in the Lap of Luxury: Why "having it all" does NOT equal happiness
  • "How I Feed My Family of EIGHT on $300 a month"-- need grocery-savings tips? I think this woman's series of articles is a great place to start!
  • Battling Sexual Sin
  • Why I Don't Read Your Blog - I found myself nodding to a lot of these-- I've had to cut back on my blog reading anyhow (it's just overwhelming, and I easily fall into what Joe Carter described himself as-- a complete media junkie), but this list describes some of the reasons why I choose not to read certain blogs (ETA: Additionally, I found this list helpful in identifying problem areas that I need to avoid when blogging.)
  • Jonah: Too Horrifying for Kids? - an honest appraisal of the dumbing down and p.c.-ing of Bible stories
  • Designed for Sex: an incredibly good article about what sex is for and what we lose when we lose sight of God's plan for intimacy
  • This is something I've always been bothered by: the phrase "Hedge of Protection"-- and Tim Hawkins' comments about it cracked me up!

The Spider in my Garden

Spring is here, and boy am I ready. One of my favorite memories of last season was a friendship I developed with a spider that lived in my garden. She'd built her web along the deck railing and could be seen in her spot at its center each morning. I started watching because she'd decided to set up shop right next to the chair where I sat to drink my morning coffee. Being a decent housekeeper, I

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