Friday, February 24, 2017

When I came home from the women's retreat, I had a surprise waiting on me. My sweet family put together a little surprise for Cameo and I. 
Supper was ready.
The house was clean.
And arms were waiting for hugs!
They made my favorite....
Mexican Food!
And then they made a "Welcome Home" cake for dessert. 
I was so touched by their thoughtfulness... 
Thank you Lord for blessing me so abundantly. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Women's Retreat '17

This years Women's Retreat has once again come and gone... 

And once again, I feel like it was the best yet. 
Each year I say that I think, and each year I truly mean it.

We stayed in a beautiful cabin with 35 women we had a wonderful opportunity for conversation!  We stayed in a wonderful area of Pigeon Forge, it was so convenient to the places where we like to spend most of our time while we are visiting.
One thing I absolutely LOVE about these retreats is time in the hot tub.... we usually get in and chat with whomever happens to go with you. It's a great time to just talk and get caught up on one another.  This cabin had the biggest hot tub we have EVER seen. I was somewhat like a small pool. I loved it!

Look at that chandelier! It was HUGE!!!!
A lot of good Bible study.
A lot of good, clean, fun.
A lot of laughs
A lot of friends.
A lot of sisterly love.
A lot of great food.
It was a wonderful time.

This years theme was "In Christ Alone" Such a fitting theme... the only good in me is " In Christ Alone". The only hope I have is "In Christ Alone".... my future is "In Christ Alone". I am thankful for that promise that He is always with me.

There were 35 of us ladies, with Bible studies each night and each morning we were there. 
Look at this table!!! It seats 32!!!! I loved it!
The cabin was built right beside this beautiful creek. I can imagine if you were staying in the spring or summer it would be ideal for wading and playing and the homeschool mom in me thought of all the great nature studies that could happen with that going through your back yard! We saw a blue heron one morning wading. It was beautiful with its long legs and blue-grey feathers. 

The picture below is of me, my eldest, my eldest niece, and my sister-in-law. 

It's so nice to get together with women of the Lord and encourage and be encouraged to do the things God has called us to do. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Valentine's Banquet '17

Most every year my husband and I attend the Valentine's banquet that our church association puts together. This year, not only did we plan to attend, but it was our churches turn to host! 
Many, many hands got together to make it happen, and it was a roaring success and very beautiful!
Deep, rich red fabrics draped across the tables. Centerpieces of pearls, roses, candles, and gems.

Desserts galore! Because what Valentine's banquet would be complete without some beautiful, decadent desserts??

Kitchen workers having fun together while they prep! I love these ladies!
A greeting table!
A photo op booth! 
Love permeated the entire place. 
Everyone worked so hard and I am so proud of our church. 

The guys outside grilling it up!

I hope your Valentine's was sweet... 


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

For the Love of Birds

It is no denying that around here, we LOVE our song-birds. We put out feeders, make our own feeders, and have a special place set up just so we can watch the birds come around. Lately, in the earlier and cooler hours of the day, we have been spotting so many different birds that we set up a camera in our kitchen on a tri-pod so we could snap some of the beautiful feathered friends who are coming our way. 
The Eastern Blue Bird is always one of our favorites. The bright blue backs and the red/brown breast. They are such a pretty little bird.
This guy here, what I believe to be a Hairy Woodpecker (someone correct me if I am wrong) has been hanging around a LOT since we made our own feeder. He LOVES it! And I'm so glad that we have it out, because I sure do like seeing him around. He's just beautiful!

Sweet little Chickadee with his pretty black head. 

The camera is set up for anyone walking by to snap a picture if they see a good shot. Even though this picture is a little on the blurry side, Carlie spotted our first Purple Finch! I was tickled pink when we were scrolling through the pictures and saw him! 
A Morning Dove perched in one of the bare branches.

A favorite as always is the Cardinal. We have plenty of both male and female cardinals around here. Love seeing that vibrant red color!
Our little friend the Tufted Titmouse. His cute little "peter-peter" let's us know he's come to visit. 
Do you like to bird-watch? Do you have a life list of birds you would like to see? 

One big bird on our family life-list is to spot a bald eagle. One day we hope we will. I don't imagine one will make it to our little feeding station, but one day we hope to see one in the wild! They are really incredible! 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Bread Baking

We've been getting back in the habit of really making our dollars stretch. It's so easy to slip out of the habit and get loosey-goosey and frivolous... a few dollars spent here and there for junk. Anyhow, we have made a commitment to get back to basics and that means, following our budget like we should, making things from scratch, being prepared, staying home more, using things up to their fullest potential, and not buying if we don't have to. 
One great way to save is bread. I have some bubbly sour dough starter coming from a friend, but until then I found a recipe from The Prudent Homemaker for a batch of 4 loaves of bread that she says equals out to about a quarter a loaf!!! Sure beats $2.50+ per loaf at the grocery store. 
One thing Shannon and I have realized is that we have shown our kids a lot of things, but it's like we have 2 sets of kids... What Cameo and Eli may remember us showing them, Carlie and Abram may not remember... since they are younger. 
So I am doing my best to remedy that and make sure that we teach our second batch as well as we have taught our first. 
So I took the bread recipe with the younger two, plus our little sweetie that stays with us during the day and we got to making our quadruple batch of bread.

We talked about how to measure the flour loosely so that it's not too compact. We watched the yeast activate. We kneaded. We let the dough rise. We shaped it. And we baked it. 

Every bit. Every step... all together. And when we were done, we tasted our finished loaves. 
Yum, yum!
Success... All the way around! 
And at .25 per loaf (or close) then that just makes it all the more wonderful!