Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Day Trip to Nashville

After reading so much about Greece this year in our lessons, I had the idea lurking in the back of my mind that the children and I should head up to Nashville one day and visit the Parthenon! I tried many times to just plan the day, but nothing worked out, until one fine day on Spring Break. I talked to Shannon and he said it sounded like a great idea to him and so that next morning, the kids and I took off on a little adventure. 

This was the first trip to Nashville for the two youngest, but Eli had visited once when he and Shannon went to the Georgia vs. Vanderbilt game. 
We made it to Nashville around lunch time... my plan was to have a picnic and eat outside in beautiful Centennial park, but it was ooshy gooshy! The wind was whipping and quite cold... so before we got out to visit, we had our picnic in the car. Still fun! ;) 
It is a BEAUTIFUL sight to behold! Such detail! And it really is HUGE!

Athena (above) stands 42 feet tall!!!! She is covered in gold leaf and her spear was once a McDonald's flag pole. haha funny, huh? 

The Parthenon in Nashville is a to-scale replica of the one in Greece. It was built in the 20's! It's been remodeled since, but I thought that was fascinating that it started so long ago! 
Carlie and Abe loved the swings outside, they had a place for your feet and you could push to get yourself swinging rather than pumping your legs. 

These Parthenon Marbles are replicas made from plaster! There is a griffon that sets right outside the door and it was unbelievably light! I wish I had taken a picture of him! 
These doors however are 24 feet tall and a foot thick! AND they weigh 7.5 TONS each!!!! But you can move them easily! It's neat! 

While we were in Nashville, the kids and I drove by the Country Music Hall of Fame... this part of Nashville was PACKED to the gills... and it was only Wednesday! We decided not to try and stop, but to just drive by. We tried to get to the Grand ole Opry... but construction had many lanes blocked or stopped.  We did make our way to Trader Joes... which was AWESOME! I want to go back to Nashville JUST to go there AGAIN!!!!! 

It was a super fun day trip! I hope to plan more trips like this for the kids in the future. We packed our own food, and we didn't buy much, so basically we only used some time and gas... but we made lot's of memories, and there is no amount of money better than that. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Bowling with the Youth

Each month we try to do something fun with our youth department.
 Last month we had game night at our house. 
This month we went bowling. 
We will also have a work day at church this month. 
We try to make sure we have a time of service as well as play... We try to encourage our youth to remember that it's not all about games and fun stuff... but we are trying to help them realize that we are here to serve one another and to serve the Lord. I think that is one thing about youth departments that can be dangerous... if we only focus on what's fun, we miss the opportunity of showing that service can be fun and worthwhile! We want to encourage BOTH and if our mind and heart is right they BOTH can be fun! And through ALL of it, we hope to be an example of Christ. No matter what we are doing! To speak love, wisdom, and encouragement to those young people we get to be with, it's a mighty task and we pray that God will use us and help us point them to Him!

We had such a good time! Even if I got some pictures that make people look less than thrilled. It's hard to see what kind of picture you are taking when everything is lit up in blacklights! 

Abe the ham!
My two precious middles! 
Let me tell you... I stunk up the bowling lane! Worst game I have EVER played. 
It was horrible!
But I had a good time! 
My sweetie and I! We realize we are not young anymore. But it's fun to act young for a few hours!

We had a good group, there was about 14 of us. A few had other plans or something came up and were not able to go with us! Hopefully next time!

It's always nice to get out and do something that you don't normally get to do. 
Shannon and I were talking and I think the last time we went bowling, Cameo was about 17? maybe. She will be 21 in May! 
Time flies.
She had plans already or she would have went with us too... 

I pray that these kids will one day look back on our times together with fondness and love. The way Shannon and I do on our 'youth group'. We pray that we will encourage them to press on in the faith and to love Jesus above all, the way our leaders did for us. I pray God will do a mighty work in the lives of each of these precious souls. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Sunshine on my table

Last week, our very springtime weather was about to take a major turn and remind us that winter is NOT over yet in the South. My daffodils were blooming so beautifully, I hated the thought of the frost biting them and losing all the beautiful color outside... so I rushed outside one very cool morning (in my gown no-less) and cut a huge bouquet sunshine and brought it inside.
I've told you before, when I use a large mouth pitcher I make a "grid" with tape to help fill in and get the middle flowers to stand up nice and tall. I did the same with these. When I cut my flowers, I cut them as long as possible, that way I can trim them down if needed. 
I enjoyed this beautiful sight on my table more than you know. There just is something about fresh flowers from your garden... and all this yellow? Like I said, it was just a bouquet of sunshine through this cold and blustery time. 
Have a great week friends! 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Yellow and Blue and Sunflowers too.

Right in time for the cold snap... I got out some of my spring decor. Which is usually the way it goes, right?  Or is it just me?
I saw this idea on pinterest with this galvanized 'tire swing' and filling it with pretty spring flowers. 
You can find some gorgeous flowers at the dollar store by the way! 
I took the swing form and added a row of foam to stick the flowers into. It was two blocks cut in half. 
I added my favorite color mix of course. Blue and yellow! 
Sunflowers and blue lupines and a few sprigs of gypsophila. 
I love how it turned out!!! It just screams springtime on my door! 
I love the happy sight on my porch.... now if I can look past the clods of mud, the chicken poo, the cats and chickens nesting in my window boxes, and the piles of boots, airsoft guns and toys... I can keep this pretty picture in my mind. 
Have a wonderful weekend, my friends! 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Strawberry Jam! WITHOUT pectin!

I LOVE to learn new things.
 I also love to learn how to do something the "old fashioned way" too. And when some friends of mine were talking about making jam without pectin and LOW sugar, I was all ears! I learned some things along the way, and believe you me, it does take CONSIDERABLY longer, but the end product was far superior in mine and my families opinion! 
Cheaper, healthier, and tastier! 

Our local farmer's market had some beautifully sweet strawberries from Florida for an excellent price! So I ran over and bought two flats. After reading and talking with my friends, I gathered my supplies and gave this 'no pectin' jam a go.

I started with 8 cups of sliced berries.
I then pureed the berries in my food processor.

To that amount of berries I added 3 cups of sugar. Yep, that's ALL! If you look at any other jamming recipe you will see 8 1/2 cups sugar for ONE BATCH! ACK!

Don't worry... it tastes really, really good with only 3 cups. 
You actually taste wonderfully sweet strawberries, not just sugar! 

Then add 1/4 cup lemon juice and the zest if you like... which I do! YUM!

Stir together in a large pot and get ready to test your patience. 

Cook... cook... cook... and cook some more.
Other places around the web you may hear that it only took them 10 minutes, well I'm here to tell you I cooked for an hour. 
For reals.
 Now it's not labor intensive. I brought my berries to a boil and then turned them down to simmer for that hour. I did other things while they cooked down, like play scrabble, menu planned, washed dishes, etc... I would stir occasionally and check how things were going.
 You want the jam to cook down, get thick, and get to the "jam" consistency. 

My jam got some beautifully deep red and flavorful, I do believe I will continue this method because we all loved the taste so much!

Once the jam has cooked down and it is nice and thick, you can check with a cooking thermometer that the temp should be around 220*. 
Cook for a while til you see that it is 'jam phase' you can pull it off. 
What I mean by the jam phase is when you have a cold metal spoon and it 'sheets' rather than drops off the spoon in droplets. 
If it does this, you are ready to fill your clean jars. 
After filling my jars I processed my jam in a hot water bath for 5-10 minutes just to seal. 

So other than it just taking a while to make it happen, this jam is super simple and takes SO little to make it! 

Give it a try! And if you do, let me know what you think!