Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Fine Romance

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to share this with you!! I had an epiphany yesterday morning! We found out that we had a few hours alone on a Friday evening so we thought we'd go on a date! Usually we hit a local restaurant for happy hour but yesterday when I awoke I had a memory, it must've come from God because it's something I haven't thought of for 20 years! I remembered dating my husband. I had this little apartment where I lived alone and decorated to the best I could afford, much of my furniture was donated to me. In the dining area a coworker had given me this darling little bistro table and I was able to purchase 2 chairs for it. Yesterday I remembered that I would set the table with placemats and my favorite dishes and light candles. I wasn't such a great cook back then but I would do my best to whip up something special, put on a pretty dress, and invite Neal over after work for a romantic candlelight dinner. I think I even put on red lipstick for those dates! I decided it was high time I bless Neal again in this way. I can't tell you how much fun I had planning this evening for us! I went shopping picking out the best ingredients and then came home to set it all up! What I love about this candlelight, stay at home date is that even if you have small children I think this could work for you! Having romantic time alone with your husband is so important! Taking a minute to get all pretty and then show him your love by setting up something special is invaluable! Even if you have little ones at home I think it could be wonderful if you put them to bed early and then sat together with your man spending time just enjoying each other!

This spread looks super pretty but it's actually quite simple! I thought I'd list out the ingredients I purchased here as a starting point for your special date! Obviously do what you can afford and make it something that you would both really enjoy!

I started with the flowers! Tulips are my favorite at this time of year and they're actually not too pricey so I picked up 3 bunches of those. I also grabbed a bouquet of eucalyptus for layering branches on the table.

For the water I love to add fresh herbs and seasonal fruit. For this pitcher I sliced up 2 blood oranges and then put in a handful of mint. This was so delicious I'm still enjoying it this morning!

I walked around the produce department looking for what was in season wanting the most fresh and pretty produce choosing radishes, pears, satsumas, and the blood oranges.

Next I hit the cheese and meat dept. picking out 3 cheeses; a blue, sheep, and goat. I also grabbed a package of proscuitto and a stick of good pepper and garlic salami. I had some fig jam at home which I put with the cheese.

Next I grabbed a bottle of wine choosing cote du rhone because that was our favorite in France and then walked down the cracker isle picking a gluten free cracker that looked yummy to me.

I LOVE olives and right now I'm super into Castevetvano olives because of their buttery taste, a nice touch I learned from a restaurant was to sprinkle a few red pepper flakes over the top.

I put out some good sea salt for the radishes, added a handful of raw almonds and a new candle which smells super fresh.

Then I just pulled out some of my favorite trays and piled everything up! There really is no right or wrong way to do this! If you have beautiful, fresh ingredients the food will come alive as you put it all together. And when all else fails, put it all on a white plate or tray, food always looks gorgeous and pops against a white background!

After I gathered all of these ingredients I decided I wanted to provide dessert. We had a big bowl of lemons on the counter so I decided to whip up a lemon pound cake. This could not be easier to make and it's so fresh and tasty! I served it with decaf coffee. Click here for the recipe.

It was a wonderful romantic night in front of the fire! I cleared the coffee table and set up our dinner there for something cozy and different! Neal was so appreciative! I think I just earned some extra brownie points! haha! Can't hurt! ;) Have a super wonderful, joy filled day! Pin It

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Our most favorite side dish!

Lately I'm into roasting everything! I have these phases, in the fall I made batch after batch of soup and now I roast whatever I can get my hands on. Our most favorite by far is this Cauliflower dish. It's SO easy! I just buy one of those large bags of cauliflower from Costco and keep it in the fridge as a side dish for whatever ends up on the menu for the day, tonight it's steak on the grill. When you buy it at Costco it's already chopped up but I like to cut it up even further before roasting.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Chop your Cauliflower.

I do everything to taste and don't measure a thing but just follow my lead and you can't go wrong!

Place the chopped cauliflower on a cookie sheet.

Drizzle with good quality olive oil.

sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper over the top.

Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and fresh thyme leaves- to taste.

Use your fingers to carefully toss the cauliflower on the sheet pan for even coating.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.

Before serving squeeze a dash of fresh lemon juice over the top- a little goes a long way but really adds a fresh taste to it!


ps. a warning- make a lot because it's so yummy! I eat it like popcorn! Pin It

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Fight On Mighty Warrior!

I moved out at 19 having this idealistic idea of what life was supposed to look like. I was supposed to keep buying up and up from a one bedroom condo to a 2 bedroom condo, from the 2 bedroom condo to our first home, from that home to the house in the right neighborhood with the view and so on and so forth. I believed that if I worked hard, went to church, paid my tithe, and said my prayers that all would go well for me. I wanted the cute car, to find my spouse, have the pinterest worthy wedding with the photographer that grabs the ideal romantic candids, live a few years as man and wife on the Dave Ramsey budget until time to welcome our first baby into the home. As we raise that baby everyone will look to us as the parents with all the answers who raise perfect children and it all sounds amazing and I could hardly wait to get started.

But something is missing here.... There must be more to the story because if life was as idealistic and perfect as all of this then what’s the problem with this world? Why are over 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce. Why do some of my friends have teenagers that have already decided they want nothing to do with God? We’re a hurting mess. You can go onto the internet and find 50 reasons why caffeine is great for you and 50 reasons why you should stay away because it’s killing you. Where do you find the answers?

I wanted so badly to live this idealistic life! I sought it with my whole heart. I kept the perfect house, wore the perfect clothes, dressed my kids to impress, had every box checked on the do not sin list so I should’ve been protected and onto my dream right?

Real life for me has been an up and down rollercoaster with good years and bad years. My kids aren’t perfect, in fact, it’s been rather humbling when they aren't and my marriage has definitely had it’s highs and lows. I’ve run into relationship problems and broken friendships, I've battled bitterness, pride, and a judgmental heart.

You know you’re in trouble when you just want to hide. When I’m not ok I want to close my blinds, shut the world out and hide in my house. That way people can’t hurt me, no one can judge me, or see that I’m not perfect. Being with people means I have to forgive, walk with compassion, be others centered, and die to myself daily. And sometimes when my heart isn’t in the right place I just plain get tired of trying to do all of this in my own strength, so I run to hide shutting everyone out.

Isolation is the work of the enemy. He does his best work when he gets you alone. He uses your own thoughts against you and his entire goal is to destroy you. It would give him no greater joy than to parade your broken life in front of Jesus taunting him with your failures, laughing at you in your discouragement.

Have you ever been there?

It feels like this.

When you wake up in the morning you feel like you’re lying under a black cloud. You hear the word failure in the back of your mind often. You regret. You feel shame; maybe it’s shame for something you have done or maybe it’s shame for something that’s been done to you and it eats you alive inside. You lose hope. Giving up sounds pretty good. Why bother going to church anymore? Nothing helps....

If you’ve never felt this way before, one day you may and when life hits you hard I want you to remember what I’m about to tell you.

You’re not going to die......

I’ve been in this situation more times than I care to mention. The enemy fights hard and he knows where to hit. He knows where that bruise is and that if he pokes it you’ll feel the pain again.

I was here again in May. The isolation. The shut blinds. The locked doors.

Remember this:

The enemy does his best work in the dark and I was making myself easy prey.

I laid in bed on a Saturday night and cried out to God for help!

I lie there staring up towards the ceiling and pictured myself falling down a deep, deep hole that I couldn’t get out of and I begged, “God help me! I’m falling! Send someone after me because I don’t have the strength to get myself out! God!!! Send me a life line I cried!”

The next morning happened to be Sunday and I went to church looking and waiting for my lifeline. I sat through the service expectant.

Minutes before the service was to end our pastor said, “I wasn’t going to share this so I am not certain where it’s found but I think it’s judges 6.” and he begins to share a little story which ended with him saying strongly


And I was sitting up there in the balcony next to my husband and I knew this was my lifeline, it’s like it cut through all the garbage to the heart of me.


and it stuck with me the rest of the day.



The next morning I remembered that our pastor had mentioned Judges 6 so I thought I’d turn there first.

Have you ever had God just cut the chase and get right to where you’re at? Well that’s what he did for me. He answered my cry and sent me a lifeline.

Judges 6 starts off with people hiding in caves just like I had been hiding. They were discouraged and felt like their lives were oppressed on all sides, just like me!

And God goes to them and says to them


But they didn’t listen- just like the many times I haven’t listened.

Forgive me Lord.

They forgot all the great things that God had done for them.

Forgive me Lord.

God sent an angel to Gideon. The angel said to him, “GOD IS WITH YOU MIGHTY WARRIOR!” And Gideon, like us, could hardly believe it. WITH ME?? But he has a question... If you’re with me then why has all of this happened to me?

Can you relate to this at all??? Like where were you God when this happened??? Where WERE you??? But God simply said to him Go in the strength that is yours. Have not I (the King of Kings) sent you?

And how many of you have felt like this before? Gideon says, “ME???? HOW??? and with WHAT???? I MEAN LOOK AT ME???

Because if you think about it we as humans look to the outer appearance so we’re thinking that we need to look like Goliath. But God looks at the heart and he sees the heart of David and calls you mighty warrior.

And God’s answer to Gideon to all of his questions is

I WILL BE WITH YOU!! BELIEVE ME and YOU’LL defeat the enemy as one man.

just like david.

you are not going to die.

and then the chapter goes on as God instructs Gideon to tear down alters to false Gods and to resurrect an alter to him.

So for me it meant to tear down an alter to fear because it was fear that was keeping me isolated. And in it’s place I am to build an alter of faith.

What alter would he have you tear down?

You know, I went on to read through the rest of the book of judges and you know what I found? They’re really no different from us. Through every chapter they turn from God and do all sorts of evil things that would make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, I mean R rated movie stuff. Then they find themselves in a mess and cry out to God for rescue and he’s so full of love, so moved by compassion that he rescues them when they cry out over and over again! He’s not a 3 strikes and your out God, just read judges and you’ll be amazed! Even before Jesus came to die he was so full of grace for us, his people, that he created.

The other day I was driving downtown and had Kim Walker’s Christmas album playing in the car. The song Silent night came on and God’s presence filled the car and I could see those people in Judges, people like you and me, who do crazy things that are so against God. We put things ahead of Him, we do things in the dark, we gossip about our neighbor and judge our best friends yet for those idol worshiping people in Judges he sent his son, those people who only turned to Him when they were desperate to be saved only to return back to their evil ways when life got easy again. For THOSE people he sent his son, for US people.

For us who take him for granted, who misrepresent, who get too busy, to distracted.

For us he sent his only begotten son because he loves us that much.



You’re a warrior who has the heart of David.

Fight on mighty warrior!

Happy New Year.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Art of Home Starts Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the big day! It is the first day we will be able to enjoy the Art of Home E-Course together! I'm so excited to see what each of the participants brings to the table and believe this will be a wonderful way to usher in a new season! I will be sharing about my favorite items to keep next to the stove for easy and tasty cooking, organization tips for your baking goods. I will also be sharing a little bit about how I love to decorate with the things I grow in my garden as well as spending time in the kitchen with you preparing our family's favorite homemade potato salad and entertaining with build your own pizzas. Won't you join us? It's not to late to sign up!

For more information scroll to the previous post or visit Jeanne's creative network. You may also register by clicking the tab at the top right of this page. You can enjoy the videos at your leisure as soon as they're available. See you there! Pin It

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Art of Home

Hi Everyone!

I'm super excited to announce that I will be part of an e-course coming up! This course gets to the heart of everything that brings me happiness; cooking from the garden, flea market finds, organization, and hospitality. These are the things that make my heart sing! During the course my mom will also be sharing a little bit of our family heritage and how I arrived at where I am today. It was such a blessing to interview her! I had no idea how inspiring that would be! I'm excited for you to register for this course, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and make yourself at home with us as we share our love of home!

Art of Home | Simple Modern Living will be about some of the lost arts of caring for our home and family. The heart of the course will also include interviews from older women sharing how they grew up and what they learned about The Art of Farm to Table, The Art of Gathering, The Art of Domestic Moxie and The Art of Reclaimed Style.

This four week course is your favorite home and cooking magazines come to life! Maybe it will even bring back sweet memories and we will all learn from each other.

Week One
The Art of Farm to Table
This week is all about gardening, cooking and preserving food.

Week Two
The Art of GatheringThis week is all about opening your home and creating a space where people feel loved and special.

Week Three
The Art of Domestic Moxie
This week is all about creative and fun ways to keep your home.

Week Four
The Art of Reclaimed Style
This week is all about using what you have and finding new uses for found objects.

Come join Me, Breanne Doucette, Kennesha Buycks, Jennifer Rizzo and Jeanne Oliver

The early registration price for this four week course is $42.99. This course will begin on September 15, 2015.

You can sign up through paypal here:

See you there!
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

the dance

We left for Disneyland on Christmas day 2014. The girls created this incredible play back in july which included songs, dances, acting, costumes, posters, and a financial plan that they had come up with so that our family could spend the Holidays in their favorite location. There were ideas of turning off lights, forgoing Christmas gifts,and promises to flush the toilet less- for water conservation and all. There was a business plan where they would sell baked goods, cash in all of their coins, and sell their old clothes in a garage sale. When it was all said and done they proudly handed us 283.00 for our trip having no idea that this wouldn't even cover the Disney passes. Neal and I took it to the Lord and asked if he could help us bless our girls with this dream come true and eventually we saved up enough to go.

To say that it is crowded in the park on New Years would be an understatement. We found it quite exhausting to get around, plus it was incredibly cold! My oldest daughter and I got in line for hot chocolate and somewhere behind us we could here some incredibly jazzy tunes being played. We peeked through the bushes to see sax players, crooners, and swing dancers. We decided to sit and watch. I wish you could've seen me sitting there with the most gigantic smile you've ever seen plastered across my face! I fell in love with the dancers, loved watching how their feet floated along the floor effortlessly, loved the incredible skirts and crazy high heels, and lost my self watching them dance. In my joy it must've looked like I was dying for someone to ask me to dance and so the nicest, and COOLEST of the dancers asked me to join him on the dance floor. I shook my head nervously and explained that I didn't know the dance and he promised me that I could trust him, that he wouldn't steer me wrong. It was awkward at first as my feet felt tied up under his effortless floating steps but eventually I started to catch on. I wish I had a video of this moment as I would throw my head back in laughter and as I improved the steps got more and more complicated and he was guiding me around the dance floor twirling me, and swinging me around as if I had done this for years. He was an incredible leader and I surrendered to his moves while he whisked me around and my girls watched on. They said later that it actually looked like I knew what I was doing... he was a great leader...

The last few weeks have been incredibly challenging for me. It seemed as though everywhere I turned there was something negative happening; hurtful things being said, relationships struggling, mistakes happening, and my head was spinning. It's hard to gain your footing when it feels like the world is whirling around you. Have you ever been on one of those gravity rides where it starts to spin faster and faster and faster and you get plastered to the wall like static cling until the ride begins to slow?? This has been my February. I have this horrible tendency of trying to save myself when life feels like it's spinning out of control. I have my own ideas of how my life should look, of how high my standards should be, of how people should view me and I try to live up to a standard that no one can achieve... I try to save myself... And in this I go down hard because I am incapable of saving me. I try to be a soldier, holding myself tightly, and erect, hands firmly clasped to my sides, tall and perfect, but this is a facade because inside I'm running for cover.

I keep coming back to this...

Psalm 119:71

while I DANCE to the tune of your revelation, my troubles turned out all for the best.

and vs. 77 Now comfort me so I can live, really live; your revelation is the tune I DANCE to.

and this word DANCE has jumped off the page at me.

And it makes me ponder.

What if I could relax and stop trying so hard to save myself. What if my trust in Jesus was so secure that I could DANCE even when the world around me is spinning.

Isaiah 30:16-17 says Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourself. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me- the very thing you've been unwilling to do.

oh man... that hits me between the eyes.

the very thing I've been unwilling to do?!

I have to confess it's true. I'm still learning about grace. Still learning that I don't have to be perfect.

One of the wisest people I know this week told me that God has seen every stupid thing I've ever done AND HAVE YET TO DO.


And I have to confess...

The reason I try SO HARD to be perfect is because I know that I don't really deserve it....

I don't really deserve to dance and run in wide open spaces.

But that my dear, dear friends IS grace... He knows EVERYTHING about you. Every tiny detail, every ugly thought, every rude remark, every time you took something to forget, everything you've looked at online, everything you've spoken over your kids, every rude thought about your spouse, everything.


GRACE, GRACE God's grace, grace that is greater that ALL my sin.

vs 19 of that same chapter in Isaiah says "Cry for help and you'll find it's grace and more grace. THE MOMENT HE HEARS, he'll answer."

And it makes me think of the dance.

I can see myself sitting on that bench on the sidelines, watching as everyone else seems so pretty, so effortlessly gliding, and I wish, oh how I wish I could dance.

And then I see my savior hear my cry, the cry that I thought was only in my head, and he walks over and extends his hand. I try to tell him that I don't know what I'm doing, that my feet are going to get all tangled up, but something inside me lets him lead. At first I feel clumsy amongst the other dancers but I fix my gaze to his. He looks down on my with the kindest most loving eyes, one arm wrapped around my back, the other firmly clasping my hand. He's a strong leader and I find my self surrendering to the sways and turns, and before you know it I'm gliding. And he comforts me so that I can live, really live. His revelation is the tune I dance to (psalm 119)

And we dance. While the world swirls and storms around me, we dance.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Nourish your soul; soup month! Today: Potato Chowder

There's been an awakening in my soul if you will, like I've been in a summer slumber and now I'm beginning to stir. I find I'm moved by beauty, it stirs me, entices me, draws me out. I wake to a thick grey fog this October morning causing the lights of the ferry to poke through its density, casting soft shimmers in the ripples of the sound. I feel cozy, bringing out the thick, nubby blankets and pulling up the cable knit stockings. I'm drawn to soup, making big pots on the weekend, savoring the chopping of the vegetables, the slow stirring, the warm smells. It's love for me, leaving something warm for the girls as they run to and fro darting from soccer to dance to sax lessons. They're busy, We're busy, but they know that when the come home at the end of the day something special will be on the stove and they can pull up a bar stool while I ladle them a large bowl of hearty soup and butter a piece of crusty bread while I listen. I'm trying to hear their hearts, encourage their dreams, and remind them always that they are lovely.

As the world seems to be increasingly moving faster and faster I long for my home to be a slow place where there's laughter, love, and food. I not only want our bodies to be nourished but our souls to flourish in the vastness of all that God has for us. I want to practice being still because it's in the stillness where I'm finding my rest! I keep thinking of the term "wide open spaces" and when that runs through my head I picture me running with my hair flying behind me and my skirt whipping from left to right, there's a smile on my face and I'm looking upward soaking in life! Hmmm.... I feel it now, LIFE, and I want to drink it, and grasp it, and soak in the warmth of it! Life Abundant; throwing off all that hinders; pride, wounds, broken hearts, broken lives; I'm throwing it off like a coat that's making me too hot and feels to heavy while I run in the sun and leave it behind, in the dust, where it's never to be put on again. That coat; it closes me off, cuts me away from living an open and generous life, and I want it no more.

There's a gentle nudge in my soul saying, "Time to get up sleepy head, you've hidden away for far to long. Lift up your eyes and see! See all that I want to show you! The world is alive with wonder and it's all me! Notice how when the leaves turn red and fall from the tree it's not a straight fall, but a dance. The leaf blows to the right and is picked up by a breeze, does a turn, and flutters and dances it's way to the ground."

And I'm amazed! You mean you own the skies yet you still want my heart? And he does. So I run.

12 slices bacon
1 cup cubed ham
2/3 cup margarine
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
3 cups chicken broth
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 large onion
1 can corn
4 green onions, chopped
1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper


Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned. Drain, crumble, and set aside. Cube ham and add to bacon.
In a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt the margarine over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually stir in milk and broth, whisking constantly until thickened. Stir in potatoes, onions, and corn. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Mix in bacon, ham, cheese, sour cream, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted. Pin It