Monday, February 18, 2019

Theology from the Spring Book Review

Theology From the Spring
- by Jacob Taggart 

My hubby and I love nature. I love the sound of a stream, with the leaves rustling overhead.... and when we are surrounded by Gods beautiful creation, we feel, completely, and utterly free! You see, for us, there is 
no clear line between religion and nature. And though I don't fly fish, I still benefited from this unique look at spring creeks as they reveal the truths of the Gospel. 

Pastor Jacob A. Taggart takes his readers on a voyage to pull them out from behind their screens and back into the world that reflects the One Who created everything. He uses divine truths that make sense of the beauty and chaos we see within the created order. 

For me personally the book was deep, and a little hard to read. But then again, I'm not a theologian or an avid reader! Overall, whether you are searching for God, or you are a seasoned Chrsitian, this book can still awe and inspire you by bringing you back, to the One Who created the spring.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Loving Your Spouse

It's easy to love your spouse when everything is going smooth, and you feel deep in love. But do you love your Spouse in the middle of a disagreement, or when there's conflict, and you think, how did we get here? What happened?

My husband and I had our first big, and only major blow-up argument about one month after we got married, which ended in one of us calling the other a name, and not speaking to each other for 3 days straight... (which is not a good thing when you are remodeling your house and end up with a bathroom floor that neither of you like, but were both too stubborn to tell each other!) Looking back, our argument was really stupid and was over a piece of mail. It all happened because instead of talking to each other about what we expected from each other, we assumed the other person would just know. 

Let me insert here, the first 6 months of married life was hard for us... (We were two very independent ppl with homes of our own, and used to doing our own thing!) ...and it was full of giving, taking, and learning to communicate, and sharing a home, and life, with each other. For example: 
  • He thought I should ask before driving his car. I thought since we were married it didn't matter if I drove his car if he wasn't driving it. 
  • I thought he would give me a certain amount of money for groceries or for gas. He thought that since we were married I would just get whatever amount of money out of the bank whenever I needed it. 
Hehe!! We both had days we wished we wouldn't have gotten married. But thankfully, that was short lived!

Since then, we have had small disagreements, sometimes with tears, or raising our voices, or needing to take a time out, but we have never called each other a name or went without speaking to each other.

A few months ago, we had a disagreement over a particular situation and how each other viewed it. And without going into a lot of detail, I was unknowingly hurting my hubby by some thing's I had said, and done, and feel. And when he confronted me about it, I felt like he didn't understand where I was coming from. I felt like he was accusing me of hurting him on purpose (which he was not), and I wondered, could the last 13+ years that we shared a life together not mean anything? Did he not know by now how much I love him? Could we get over this? How do we get through this if we both feel we are right? Why can't he understand my how I feel?

To make a long story short, I ended up leaving... I felt the house was closing in on me, and I just needed time to think. I didn't know what else to say, and I didn't want to face him, when he got home from work.... so I text him to tell him I was leaving and started driving. I love to drive. And while I was driving, I was playing it out, over and over in my mind... going over what he said, what I said, and what might happen to us if we couldn't get past this? I found myself about 2 hours north from home, when the thought hit me.... why was I driving away from him? I just wanted him to hold me in his arms. I wanted to know that he still loved me. I wanted him to know that I still loved him. I needed him. 

I text him, to tell him where I was at, and that I was coming back home. That 2 hr drive back home took forever. When I got home, my hubby was making the kids supper. I went to our room to hang up my jacket and my hubby came in and wrapped his arms around me and gave me grace! It makes you feel so absolutely, totally, and fully loved, when the person who feels you were in the wrong, holds you and tells you over and over how much he loves you. 

We stood there and held each other, cried, and explained why we felt the way we did, how we felt about the other, and how we could move forward. There was no yelling, no bitterness, just love, grace, and understanding. You see the thing is, we were both somewhat in the right and we were both somewhat in the wrong - me a little more so than him. And when it comes down to it... we are both on the same team. We love each other and we don't want to see each other hurting.

Not much has changed about that particular situation -it's something we'll have to figure for a long time to come, and we still don't agree on everything from that situation, but that day, was a big turning point in my life. 

Now, when we have little differences, I find myself running towards him, wanting to make up (not because I'm in the wrong or because I don't like conflict, but because I need his love -especially in the middle of a disagreement), remembering that I love him, and that our differences are just that, a difference, and has nothing to do with him, or myself, or our marriage, or the love that we have for each other.

You see, loving your spouse, even in the middle of a disagreement, and not just saying you love them, but actually talking to them, holding them, and really truly loving them in the middle of your argument, giving them grace, is what loving your spouse is all about!

...and, I'm still a work in progress!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Who I Am with You Book Review

Who I Am with You - By Robin Lee Hatcher 
Published by Thomas Nelson

I normally don't read very many fiction books.... but this one caught my attention.

 I loved Andrew and Helen’s relationship, and the way Andrew kept trying to work on their marriage even after he knew the truth about Helen's betrayal. And, that they could completely and fully forgive each other and have a great marriage.

I also loved the relationship between Jessica and Ridley, and how it started out as a friendship! There was a lot of trust there, which I loved as well. When they encountered road blocks they didn’t fight or attack each other, they just trusted each other.

This book is hard for me to review, as I really liked it the story, but I didn't like the time jumps. I thought both stories were good and well written, but it was confusing jumping between the two.

For me personally, I would have rather had two books, the series should have started with Andrew and Helen's story and continued from there.... it would have been a much smoother read.

To be honest, I'm don't think I will read any more of this series.....

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Closet Pantry Makeover

We've lived in this house for over 13 years and while making over the pantry has always been on the to-do list, it never quite got to the top......

 Up until now, my food storage consisted of:
  • Kitchen cupboard - snacks, drink mixes, and cereal
  • A big boxy thing on one side of a coat closet - dry goods and canned food
  • Shelves in the garage - home canned food and extra canning jars
  • Garage floor - pop, and water bottles

It was all use able.... just not ideal. The problem was that I had food in 5 different places, and I couldn't find anything in the big boxy thing, because everything always fell over and I couldn't see what I had. It was frustrating.

Here's a pic of the closet/pantry before. It also had the sweeper, cleaning things, coats, shoes, hats and other random stuff in it.

I wanted to make the whole closet into a pantry, so I could have all the food in one place, and see, and easily get to everything. So, we started by taking everything out.... 

My son, Wyatt and I tore the big boxy thing out. There's something about demo work that makes me happy...

Hubby put boards on each end so the shelves could rest on them. I painted the whole thing a bright, clean white. I wanted to add wall paper behind the shelves, but didn't think it was worth the extra time, or the $$.

Hubby put in the shelf brackets and cut the shelves to fit. (We bought heavy duty brackets - each one holds up to 500 lb., so with two to each shelf, it should hold up to 1,000 lb. per shelf. Overkill? Maybe, but we'd rather be safe than sorry. Also, because most of my shelves are 8" between, we had to stagger the brackets, as they were too large to put in a row. In the end, it's better that way, so that all the weight is distributed over the four wall studs instead of only two. Also, we wanted white brackets, but the store was out, so we got the grey instead, which I really don't mind). Putting in the shelves was slow going.... but he got it done! 

Hubby also installed a led motion light in the closet.

I had fun filling all the shelves! I tried to group item into categories... baking, cooking, condiments, drinks, fruits, canned goods, snacks, vitamins, etc.

And, I will insert here.... I love the look of a pretty organized pantry with everything in clear jars all lined up neatly!!! But, for our house (and my sanity) that just ain't going to happen!

Here's the breakdown: 
The top two shelves are 12" deep, so that we could get things on and off of them easily. The rest of the shelves are 16" deep.

The top shelf is 15" from the ceiling. I put things that we don't use often in fabric 11" boxes. One has extra baggies and kitchen wrap, one has empty plastic containers, and one has canning stuff. I also put my pressure canner on the top shelf.

The next shelf is 11" and it has the taller items like cereal boxes, oatmeal, flour, oil, and condiments on it.

The third through eighth shelves are all 8" tall and holds everything else. 

The floor space is 16" high and I have baskets of chips, potatoes, onions, vinegar, pop, water and my step stool (which will eventually be painted black) there.

I hung my fabric, plastic bag holder in the pantry too.

I shopped my house for the fabric bins on the top shelf.. (they came out of the girls room). The large black plastic bin on the floor used to hold sandbox toys, back when the kids were younger, but it works perfectly as a place to put bottles of water and pop.

The copper baskets were bought for .25 cents a piece. There are two different sized rectangle ones, and three tall round ones on the floor. And though I would have rather had something a little prettier, these twelve baskets work great for the $3 I have in them!

And there you have it!!! I love to open the doors and just stand there looking at my new pantry! I love having all our food in one place and being able to see everything I have!


*Pictures really don't do it justis at all. The pantry is right off the kitchen in my small laundry room and between the light coming in at the window, and trying to find an angle to get the whole closet, it's rather hard to get good pics!

** Because I cook/bake about everyday, I do keep my baking supplies that are open and my spices in my kitchen cupboards, where they are more convenient.

*** My empty canning jars are going to remain on the shelves in the garage. And yes, when I do more canning, I will need to keep some of the excess in the garage too, but I'm okay with that. 

**** By the way, the sweeper, broom, and cleaning supplies have moved to their own designated closet! And the coats, hats, and random things found other homes! I'm thankful for a house that has 8 large closets!

***** We are a family of five. Between living in the middle of 'nowhere', and the fact that I don't like shopping, I usually only do my main grocery shopping once a month and then get fruits, veggies, and milk every week or so, as needed.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Fancy Cauliflower Mac and Cheese


1 1/2 cup cauliflower florets
1 1/2 cup dried macaroni
1/4 cup butter,
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp mustard powder
2 1/2 cups whole milk
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt, to taste
1 1/2 cup mature cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 cup colby jack cheese, grated
1 1/2 cup havarti cheese, grated
3 Tbsp breadcrumbs
Sprinkle of thyme leaves

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes or til tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and refresh in a bowl of ice-cold water to prevent it from cooking any further. Drain well.

Put the macaroni into the boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions. Drain, refresh under cold, running water and drain again.

Mix the macaroni, cauliflower and a bit of butter together in a large bowl. Preheat the oven to 350* F. 

Heat the rest of the butter in a pan, and stir in the flour and mustard powder to make a roux. Gradually add the milk, beating continuously with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. Slowly bring to the boil over a low heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture thickens. Season well with cayenne pepper and sea salt to taste.

Mix the three cheeses together and stir 3/4 into the white sauce. Mix well until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth again. Add the macaroni and cauliflower to the sauce and mix well to coat.

Spread the mixture into an 8×8 dish.Combine the remaining cheeses with the breadcrumbs and thyme leaves. 

Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cauliflower mixture. Bake for about 15–20 minutes until the topping is golden and crisp. 

Sprinkle with bacon crumbs and fresh green onion.
Serve immediately.

We ate ours with New Orleans style catfish and steamed grean beans with bacon! Every one loved it... even the picky eaters that don't like cauiflower!

*recipe is adapted from Gordon Ramsey

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Saying Goodbye to Toxic People

Sometimes you just have to say goodbye to toxic people. To detach.

A family member, who is a toxic person, will take advantage of the fact that you are family – a bond that is supposed to be enduring, loving, and respectful – to manipulate and hurt you, because we are conditioned to believe that if we end relationships with them, that we are “bad” and no one wants to be or feel like they are an inherently bad person.

Toxic extended family members cause a lot of stress. It is hard work just to be around them. Many times you are always on edge, cautious, trying to live up to their ideals, yet always failing. Their manipulation, drama, neediness, criticism, jealousy, and other negative traits drain you emotionally and make you feel bad about yourself. All of these things affect your health both directly and indirectly. We spend years sacrificing our mental and emotional health in abusive relationships under the notion that we “have to” because these people are our family - no matter how close or far they are in your family tree.. 

Time and time again you’ll find yourself trying to understand and rationalize their behavior and then forgiving their actions because… it’s your family.

But here's the thing, just because they are family doesn’t mean that it’s a relationship built on mutual love, respect and support for one another. You are family by blood and that may simply be the only connection your relationship is thread together by.

Giving up the hope that things would get better is hard. Coming to the realization that your family member is not available, or open to fully and completely loving you, and discovering the fact that you cannot call on them, or trust them, is one of life’s most painful realizations.

Cutting ties with family members is one of the hardest decisions in life, because we are conditioned to believe that to terminate relationships with “family” is morally and inherently wrong. The facts are that “family members” are just people and not always healthy people, and if these people weren’t family we would never choose them to be a part of our lives due to their poor treatment of us.

"Detachment doesn't mean not caring. It's taking care of yourself first and letting others take responsibility for their actions without trying to save or punish them!"

Prioritizing my own emotional wellbeing by walking away from extended family, although hard at times, has been an awakening, yet painful journey. Letting go of extended family is a choice I would make over again, and again to heal. Sure, it hurts a little knowing that you are no longer included in family activities, and you don't know when a cousin has a baby, gets married, or other life events, but the peace is worth it, one thousand times over!

I also got rid of almost all of my so called Facebook friends, (I kept 12 -and I even unfollowed a few of those.) I realized most 'friends' really aren't there for you, and far too often they only create drama. Getting rid of my personal fb "friends" and extended family on social media was a huge emotional weight lifted for me! Sure, I miss the gossip, lots of pics, and what's happening in people's lives, but I don't miss the comparisons, stupid posts, drama, fakeness, and people pretending to be something they're not! *Note: I still have a business fb page

Today, I am free. I am finally rid of the all the anxiety, neediness, and pleasing I did to fit. I do not hate them, and I do not need them. I am happy without them. As I have grown and experienced life, I have learned the hard truth about people. Not all people have good intentions, even if you are related to them.

Wisdom from a conversation about the subject with my 17 yr old daughter... "Honestly, if it's better for you, then you shouldn't feel bad for distancing yourself from your family. After all the times I've seen them wrong you and dad, they don't respect you, or care very much, from the way they've acted towards us in the past. It's not fair to you to keep engaging when it only causes drama and makes you upset. I think I understand why you say that family is the people you're closest to... I think they have just grown too far apart to be worth trying anymore. You just do what's right for you. I love you." -such wisdom. She may only be 17, but even she can see through bullshit.

Choose You. Choose Happiness and Peace. Choose Your Emotional Wellbeing and Joy. Detach from toxic people. You are worth it!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Hamster's From Hell

Our youngest daughter has been wanting a hamster for a few years now, and since we got rid of all the animals this past year, I thought it would be the perfect Christmas gift. And since we try to practice a somewhat minimalist lifestyle and the kids always end up with too many gifts, I thought a hamster would be the perfect gift... something she wanted, something small, it would help teach her more responsibility, it is relatively quiet, and it would have no toys to add to the clutter!

I should have questioned the idea when the new cage came 2 weeks before Christmas and it wasn't the right size...  I had to buy a different stand for it to set on, so that was an extra $40, but I thought we'd make do.... it just takes up more space and it don't look near as neat as the last hamster cage I made out of a bookcase a few years back....

Then I went all out buying new water bottles, running wheels, snacks, food, running ball, bedding, treats, chew toys, etc.... it ended up costing way more than I was planning!

Next, we went to the store 45 minutes away to buy the hamster. The hamsters were in quarantine and wouldn't be available till the following day. Let me insert here, I've never bought hamsters from a pet store before. I try to find local breeders, but I couldn't find any this time around.

So, the following day, we once again drive the 45 minutes to pick up the hamster.... they didn't have the color my daughter wanted, so we compromised and got a different one... she was cute. My daughter named her Twixy.

She didn't really seem to eat or drink much, and had diarrhea, I read that sometimes it can take a week for them to get used to their surroundings, so I didn't think too much of it. 

A few days later, we came home from another Christmas get together and the hamster had definitely took a turn for the worse. I wrapped her up in a heating pad and fed her water through a dropper, but it was too late, she died about an hour later that night, from wet tail.

The next morning, I called the pet store and they said to bring her in and exchange her for another one. Ok. So we drove the 45 mins to take her back and get a new, hopefully healthy hamster. Problem was all their hamsters were one again in quarantine and wouldn't be ready until the following day. (I'm not sure why they couldn't have told me that on the phone....)

I drove up the next day, and got another hamster. I get to the car and open the box to look at the little thing, but she bit my finger before I had the chance to pet her. I had blood running down my finger.... that little thing bit hard... it hurt. I take her back into the store, and The staff assures me she was just startled and she'd be super friendly when I got home.

Wrong! She bit my oldest daughter while she was putting her in the cage and drew blood again. Every time we'd try to pet her, she'd try to jump up and bite us. I tried wearing gloves, but she bit me through them too. After trying to befriend her for a few days and keep getting bitten, I truly think this is the hamster from hell! She would stand up and hiss at us anytime we walked by her cage.

So once again I get to drive the 45 minutes to take her back to the pet store. My youngest daughter can't even touch her. What good is a pet if you can't interact with it without getting bitten?

How in the world did I think buying a hamster for a Christmas gift was a good idea?

The people at the pet store pretty much rolled their eyes at the idea that it bit us.... I exchanged her for another one, that let me hold it.... 

The third times is the charm, right?

Well, we get home, she nipped at us once, but I continued holding/petting her every couple hours. She didn't have diarrhea, and man, she sure was cute! She seemed like she was gonna be fine. The following day, she let us hold her and played in her ball, but that evening, she bit my daughter and drew blood. I seriously thought my daughter must have scared her, so I decided to hold her.... but not even a minute later, she took a chunk out of my finger, so I had blood running everywhere too.

Needless to say, I think we are all scarred of hamsters now! We've had them in the past, but them never bit us like this. I'm wondering if they are mistreated at the pet store or how/when they were raised.

So, I sold it, cage and all, and went to Walmart and bought her a Barbie set, to replace her Christmas hamster.

I really just want a bunny, but bunny's take time to potty train, need a larger cage, and I'm not sure hubby wants that, but bunny's are much better in my opinion. I've never had a bunny bite me....

The moral of the story is this.... buying a hamster and all the supplies for a Christmas gift was so not a good idea.... let's not do that ever again!

And, when in doubt, buy a Bunny....


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