Another weekend adventure with my honey – this time to the North Georgia Mountains. We went to the Hiawassee Fall Festival at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, rode up to the top of Bell Mountain outside of Hiawassee and had a great day touring around North Georgia.
Felix, my fuzzy assistant, and I talk about the newest A6 cover I received for my Hobonichi planner.
(be sure you stick around for the outtakes)
We celebrated our 29th anniversary with a road trip in the NC mountains.
I remember when this photo was taken.
It was around 1999 or 2000. Easter time. (and we’re not gonna talk about that hair, ok, y’all? Mercy.)
We had been trying for what seemed like forever to have a baby. At this point, I think it had been six or seven years. Lots of tests, lots of hormones, among other things.
I had finally given up and decided that we were just going to be that aunt and uncle. The ones without kids who would swoop in, grab the nieces and nephews and spoil them rotten, returning them to their parents full of sugar and great memories.
We’d even been talking about moving to the mountains – because with no kids we didn’t have to worry about school districts and proximity to extracurricular activities.
I remember this Lois thinking that she was forever going to be childless. That God had told her very loudly “NO” on the question of having children.
That it was a permanent situation.
I found this picture yesterday while I was cleaning my office. The photo brought back a flood of memories and emotions, putting me right back in that place where I was twenty years ago. Smiling for the camera and thinking, “Well, we may as well get used to pictures of just the two of us because that’s how it’s going to be from now on.”
And it struck me — as I was spring cleaning on our COVID-19 lockdown — how similar some of the emotions and feelings I’m having right now were to the ones I was feeling back then. That feeling of the situation being permanent. Of lasting forever. That God had other plans for me. Plans I wasn’t signed up for or on board with.
This past week has been a weird one, hasn’t it?
As we all wrestle with this “new normal” we are living. And while we put all our plans aside and adjust to a much slower pace of life; staying at home and putting spring breaks, holidays, travel, parties, weddings, etc. on hold. A new normal none of us signed up for. One we are also wondering when it will end.
How long will this last?
Without having a definite date to look forward to in terms of our “social distancing” it begins to feel permanent, doesn’t it?
If I could go back and talk to the Lois of 1999, I think I would tell her that she had no idea what God had in store for her. Of His blessings and faithfulness that were to come. That riding out the particular season she was in, and embracing the now was so important. Rather than looking at what she didn’t have, she should be embracing what she did have. Little did she know, the world would look so very different in a few years — 9/11 would come, along with a new little baby girl that was such a blessed surprise.
I think the same is true for us now.
While this feels permanent, like we have put our lives on hold and they may not resume for anytime soon, it’s not. The thing I keep reminding myself is this — life may not be the same post-COVID-19 but there is no reason to feel as if right now, this moment is not valuable and should be embraced and savored.
And just like the 1999 Lois, I need to remember that this too shall pass. Hopefully, in a few months we will all be back to our normal frenetic life – celebrating summertime with barbecues and beach trips, shopping and hanging out with friends. And I want to embrace what is in my right now – time at home with my family – a family that has recently been so busy that we are often just passing by one another as we race from one commitment to another. I want to enjoy reading a book and cleaning closets, planting flowers and listening to the birds, baking breads and cakes with my youngest, scheming our next adventure with my oldest, watching movies as a family and making scrumptious dinners with my love.
Rather than dwelling on all the things I can’t do, I want to celebrate the things I can do. Things that I might have forgotten or pushed aside recently.
And I want to remember this, most importantly, that God has a plan. And while we may not know how long our quarantine will last, or what our world will look like on the other side of it, He does. And my worry and angst about what tomorrow holds does nothing but stop me from embracing today. It does not fix tomorrow’s problems. It does not (really) prepare me for tomorrow’s events. It just robs me of today’s joy.
And this is hard, y’all. Really hard. Especially for me – because I’m a planner (and a worrier) and I like to know what comes next. As I sit here with a calendar full of things that have been crossed out it is hard not to think “now what?” and feel that worry. What about income? What about our food stores? What about… What about… What about…
I’m trying to stop myself right there.
When the worry comes.
I’m trying to train my brain to say “What will be will be. And God is in control. He already knows and you don’t need to know right now.”
It’s hard. But I am learning.
And as I learn, I’m finding peace.
I don’t have to have the plan. I don’t need all the answers.
I just need to trust. I need to focus on today. I need to embrace what is in front of me.
So, I am hoping that 2020 Lois will do a little better than 1999 Lois did. She’s still a work in progress (aren’t we all) but I’d like to think she is a little ahead of the 20 years ago Lois.
I hope you, too, are able to find some peace in these uncertain times. To rest in the knowledge that nothing lasts forever. And someday soon we’ll find our quarantine lifted and our lives full and busy once again. But hopefully, when that happens, we will remember these slower days – and remember trusting in our Heavenly Father for our every need. And the tomorrow me and tomorrow you will be that much richer and wiser because of it.
I don’t know about you but with all the things going on with the pandemic, I’m looking for any way I can to find a little peace and comfort each day. The other night Little Bit wanted to bake and she decided to make a mug cake. And once the rest of us smelled and tasted it, we all requested mug cakes.
Mug cakes are great – they’re just the right size, cook up quickly with little mess and satisfy a craving without leaving a huge cake behind to tempt (or taunt) you the next day.
We thoroughly enjoyed her mug cakes and so I thought I would share with you what she made. Her recipe was improvised from this mug cake recipe. I’ve noted her adapted version below.
It was a perfect pick me up on a night where we were all feeling the strain of the situation we’re currently living in.
How are you coping with COVID-19?
Other than drowning our sorrows in chocolate, we’re trying to find ways to get outside and enjoy the spring weather. There’s nothing like sunshine and daffodils to improve your mood. Or swinging in the yard, reading a book, and listening to the birds sing.
I hope you are well. I hope you are finding peaceful moments and hope in this uncertain time we’re in. And I hope you have some mug cake. It really hits the spot.
Chocolate Mug Cake
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (we used dark cocoa powder)
1/4 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp milk (we used 2%)
1 Tbsp oil (we used canola)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chocolate chips
1 heaping tsp Nutella (hazelnut spread)
1. Spray the bottom of a microwave-safe mug with cooking spray.
2. Add dry ingredients and stir together. (flour, salt, sugar, cocoa powder & baking powder)
3. Add liquid ingredients (milk, canola oil and vanilla).
4. Stir until smooth and make sure you get all dry ingredients incorporated well.
5. Cook in your microwave for 70-90 seconds* until cake is just set, but still barely shiny on top.
Allow to rest in microwave for one minute before you devour. And be careful! The mug will be hot!
*Because microwaves are different – some will cook faster than others. Start with 70 seconds, wait one minute while it cools, look to see if it is set. Add additional 15-25 seconds if needed.
We cooked our cakes for 1 min 30 seconds
You will want to be sure you stop cooking the cake before it is completely done because you want the cake to be soft on the inside and the residual heat will continue to cook even as you let it cool for a minute before you eat it.
With COVID-19 putting the entire world in a tailspin, we’re all beginning to find our way through this new “normal” of social distancing and self-isolating. So many things about the world as we know it will never be the same after this spring. I think COVID-19 will change much about our social norms and how we look at so many things.
We’re all looking for ways to find comfort and a sense of normalcy and calm, I think.
And one way I do that is in cooking.
This past weekend I made a batch of homemade bread. The actual act of doing the mixing, kneading and preparation was comforting and grounding. The family loved the smells and especially enjoyed the fresh hot bread last night when it came out of the oven. It was a treat and made me think about how so many things we do today are based on convenience and yet it is when we slow down that we learn to savor the little things, finding joy in the mundane and peace in the simplest of tasks. Mixing bread, kneading dough, etc.
Another comfort food for our family is soup. I don’t know about you but I love sitting down to a steaming bowl of soup. I thought I’d share some of my favorite soup recipes with you over the next few weeks. I know spring is coming and we may all be thinking about warmer-weather foods, but I also know if I get sick, soup is what I want. So, I thought I’d share some of our favorites.
This week’s post features one that can be done in a variety of cooking methods – stovetop, instant pot, or slow cooker. I’ve done it all three ways with pretty equal results in each way. Equally delicious!
This is a super easy soup – other than the browning of the meat it is essentially a dump-and-go recipe. Also great as leftovers. I eat a lot of this for lunch – and sometimes make a pot for myself to eat as lunch over the course of a week.
Stuffed Pepper Soup
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1-2 bell peppers, diced
(I use a bag of frozen diced onions, celery and bell peppers, it’s a “mirepoix” mix and makes this recipe truly a dump-and-go recipe)
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
(I often use the Italian-seasoned canned tomatoes in this recipe)
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
2 cups beef broth (I use Better than Boullion Beef base with hot water)
Houston House Seasoning
2 cups cooked rice (for serving)
- Brown ground beef, seasoning liberally with House Seasoning.
- In either a large stock pot, your instant pot, or slow cooker, combine all of the ingredients except rice. Season soup with more House Seasoning as needed.
- Cooking times:
- Stovetop – bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to combine.
- Slow Cooker – set the timer for low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
- Instant Pot – set on Soup/Stew for 5 minutes; allow to natural release.
- Serve with rice.
This is great with a crusty bread or saltines.
I hope you enjoy!
Just a note – I’m not going to be one of those bloggers with beautiful food photos. I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on myself. So, I hope you will trust that the recipes I post are delicious and family-approved without the mouth-watering photos to accompany them.
I had been wanting to read this book since I’d heard about it in the promotions prior to its release last Spring. The title was intriguing and the book cover was as well. However, life got busy and it just kept getting pushed lower and lower on my To Be Read list during the year last year. As I’ve been a little less mobile the last few months I’ve had more time for reading – and so this seemed like the perfect time to dive into what I hoped was going to be a great escape novel.
It’s received rave reviews – and earned Reese Witherspoon’s praise (and has been optioned for a TV series that Witherspoon is producing – which I can’t wait to see)
So, knowing all this, I was excited to dive in. Daisy Jones & The Six did not disappoint.
The book reads like a rock documentary – like one of those shows you’d find on Saturday afternoons or late-night TV that would suck you in with the tragic story of a rock star or band that had a meteoric rise to fame and even more epic fall. And it is somewhat like that. I love the point of view of the story – it’s told from the main character’s perspectives, sometimes (often) overlapping a scene with multiple points of view and conflicting accounts. In that way, it is very real-life in the way it reads.
While it appears at first glance that the story is going to be centered around Daisy Jones, it’s really the story of the band and Daisy – from their humble, anonymous beginnings all the way through to their rise to fame and mega-stardom and the ultimate crash that you can see coming from a mile away.
The book starts out with Daisy’s childhood, which is unconventional and somewhat sad. A “rich white girl, growing up in L.A. She’s gorgeous – even as a child.” And yet she has no one – her parents are too wrapped up in their own lives to even care about Daisy’s comings and goings or to notice when she’s home or not. We see this fragility set up early on, and Daisy’s need to belong, to be accepted as a fundamental part of her character.
Balancing out Daisy’s story is the story of the band, in particular the lead singer, Billy Dunne and his brother Graham. Once again, Reid does a great job building the character profiles and showcasing the driving factors for the rest of the story. Two brothers, abandoned by their father, raised by their hard-working single mother. Billy craves that family unit, Graham craves recognition and visibility as he copes with being in the shadow of Billy who is the band’s frontman and lead singer.
Daisy, immersed in the drug culture that was the sixties, hanging out at LA’s hot spots and living the freewheeling lifestyle of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, eventually finds recognition and opportunity after being spotted at one of the Sunset Strip clubs. She viewed herself as a songwriter first and singer second and was insulted when the industry execs wanted her to sing other people’s songs. In an artistic snit, she essentially ignores the contracts, recording executives and managers and lives in a drug-induced haze.
Meanwhile, The Six is making its rise into fame. They record a debut novel and begin to tour, living the high life when they are not on stage. More sex, drugs and rock and roll – this is the sixties after all. The book chronicles Billy’s fall into addiction and how it impacts the whole band through this time – including his wife, Camilla, who has been with him from the very beginning.
The inevitable intersection of the two acts comes as Daisy is tapped to record a duet with Billy for the upcoming album The Six is working on – and what happens next is as they say “the stuff of legends.”
The band and Daisy join forces and the remainder of the book focuses on their tumultuous rise to fame and the dynamics that rock the band as they record and perform together. Without giving the rest of the story away, I’ll just say that Reid does a great job of building tension and keeping you holding your breath for what you think is coming soon and yet seems to never happen.
You want the happy ending, but you know that it’s probably not going to happen. The characters are just too broken, too messed up and the fates have aligned for tragedy not happiness. But how that actually plays out keeps you reading and reading, way past your bedtime, as you hope and pray things work themselves out and the next page is not a headline story of an overdose or death.
I’m so glad that the book is going to be made into a mini-series. I hope that Witherspoon and her crew can really give it the gritty realism that the story deserves. It’s got all of the elements of a classic, watch over and over again type of movie. That train wreck you know is coming and you watch and wait for it anyway. Kind of like A Star is Born. You knew something awful was coming but you didn’t know quite know what was coming.
Overall, a very solid story – and if I were the kind of person who read books multiple times, I’d read it again. But I highly recommend the book. It’s a quick read, a great escape and will keep you up way past your bedtime. All in all, it’s a winner to me.
I’ve been menu planning for years and years… some of those you can find here on the archives of the blog – (Menu Plan Monday) and some are written down on index cards stashed in my desk and on various pages of my planners from over the years. But I have always found that menu planning saves me in so many ways – it saves my sanity, it saves money, it saves food (waste) and time. It’s a win-win for my family.
When the girls were little it helped me to get a grip on what nights I had time to cook something more involved and what nights were “grab and go” kind of nights due to dance and other extracurricular activities. It still works that way now, even though the girls are practically grown – especially now, actually – because we ALL have busy schedules these days. SuperMan teaches two nights a week, I have a class one night a week, one girl is working, one girl has theater activities several nights a week, both girls babysit, the list goes on and on.
So meal planning helps me because I can plan what I cook around who is doing what on what nights – for example, on the nights I have class I try to do something quick and easy I can either put in the crock pot, Instant Pot or prepare ahead of time. On the nights SuperMan is gone, the girls and I usually opt for something really quick and easy like breakfast for dinner or reinventing leftovers (or even take out). That usually leaves us 4 nights out of 7 that we can potentially have family meals – and one of those is usually an eat out night (Friday, usually).
Lately, thanks to Big Girl’s job, we have been taking advantage of meals from Dream Dinners. I used to use them years and years ago, when the girls were tiny, and we are loving the convenience, variety, and ease that their meals offer. It also helps me with meal planning because they’re prepped and ready to go – waiting in the freezer for us to grab, cook, and enjoy.
This month we added a few extra meals to our rotation since I am still recovering from foot surgery. SuperMan and the girls can very easily cook these dinners – some are just heat and eat, even – and we have healthy, tasty dinners on the table in minutes.
I’m really thankful for the extra ease that Dream Dinners has afforded our family, especially in this busy season. And I’m loving the variety we have available through our meals from there. I’m not stuck rotating the same meals over and over because I can’t think of anything else to cook. I’ve also found the girls are more adventurous with these dinners – they’re willing to try new things they might not have tried before if Mama came up with it on her own!Here’s our plan this week-
- Monday – takeout (we are running errands)
- Tuesday – Taco Tuesday (using leftovers from the delicious fajitas SuperMan made Saturday. We will have fajita taco salads, I think)
- Wednesday – OYO (On Your Own) only Little Bit and I will be home so we will probably eat leftovers or something simple like soup
- Thursday – Mini Meatloaves (Dream Dinners)
- Friday – eat out (probably our usual Friday Night Mexican)
- Saturday – date night?
- Sunday – Grilled Chicken with Honey Butter (Dream Dinners)
Do you meal plan? If you do, how do you approach your meal planning? Do you prep ahead, or make as you go?
If you don’t meal plan, why? Does it seem like too much work?
God’s not renting billboards
Still no billboards
How do you know what you are doing is God’s will?
Reading the signs … or stepping out in faith
It’s a habit of many people to choose a word to define their year. Sort of a mantra or theme for the year. I’ve done it in the past and never really stuck to it except for once or twice (like the year I had my gastric bypass surgery my word/theme was “Healthy”) because I usually am distracted by allthethings life throws at me and a theme doesn’t usually emerge until I’m looking backwards at the end of the year.
This past year, I had a few things change in my personal life that came from some hard choices I had to make – choices about continuing to walk down a path I was on or stop, regroup, and find a new path; choices about health (again) and about where to invest my time and energy. Nothing necessarily negative, but things that may seem small at first glance but can shape your future whether you realize it or not.
And in making some of those choices I kept hearing one word in my head – or one theme at least. And that was this:
Now, if you know me at all, you know that I am not generally a “waiting” kind of gal. I am a “get things done,” “take charge,” “make it happen” kind of gal. I don’t generally sit around waiting for things to happen. I make things happen. Both in my personal and in my professional life. It is very much tied to my identity – who I believe I am, who others believe me to be. It’s what I’m paid to do as well! I’m good at it. Very good.
And so, this idea of waiting has been a hard one for me.
God has moved some things out of my life that I thought were the things I was supposed to be doing – things I was very passionate about and very invested in. And he has moved other things into my life that have caused me to slow down (full stop, actually) and to say no to a lot of things I would really like to be doing or to say “not right now” to other things I had been doing.
And that’s just not who I am. I’m the girl you can count on when you need help. I am the one who will help you organize all the things, get the events done — set up, clean up, show up. That’s me.
So, now what do I do with this waiting?
It’s so foreign to me.
And yet it feels like it is exactly what I am supposed to be doing right now.
I feel like God is moving chess pieces, lining things up, working on my heart and in my life to prepare me for something – what I do not yet know – and my job is to rest in this quiet period and prepare myself for what is to come.
But when you are a do-er and a maker-of-things-happening, waiting, especially when you don’t know what you are waiting for, is very hard.
If I knew, I could be preparing, right? If I knew, I could study, or research, exercise, whatever. But since I don’t know, I can’t.
And maybe that is part of what I need to learn.
That sometimes (most of the time, if we’re honest) we don’t know what is coming around the bend. And we are certainly not in charge of our future, however much we want to delude ourselves into thinking that we are.
This year (so far) is an exercise in trust. In faith. In really reaching deep and in saying “Ok, God, I don’t know where this is heading or what it is you want me to do, but I’m going to put one foot in front of the other every day and trust that you will lay the path before me each day.” And isn’t that really what we are called to do?
Matthew says (in chapter six of his gospel) “So don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
I am really trying to live this out this year – taking one day at a time – one minute at a time – and letting God direct my path.
Some days I am better at this than others, my family can surely attest to that! Some days I am so frustrated at not knowing what is coming next, where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing.
And when I find myself spiraling into this miasma of trying to fill the void with something, anything I stop and wait. I stop and pray “Ok, God, I know you have plans for me. I am here for what you set before me. Lead me. I will wait.”
But, I think, in the waiting I am learning. I am growing. I am finding out things about myself that I might not have found otherwise. And I’m trying to learn patience and trust. To let go of my need to control my future and let God handle that.
And isn’t that what faith is about?
I mean, if we really believe God is sovereign, all knowing, omnipresent, and Lord of All, why don’t we let Him rule our lives as He designed us to do anyway?
Is it that we feel as if He might get it wrong? Or put us in a situation we can’t handle or don’t want?
I think, maybe, He does just that. (and sometimes we do it to ourselves, if we’re honest. We do have free will. We are not slaves to God) But maybe, just maybe, it’s in those times when we are out of our comfort zone, out of our happy place, that God is there beside us ready to carry us through – to show us a part of ourselves we may never have seen otherwise. To lead us to a new plane of reality we’d have never reached if we’d stayed in our comfy place.
I’m still not content here in this period of waiting. I’ll be honest. I am ready for things to happen and for me to know what is next so I can just go do it.
But I’m also learning to lean in to God. And to slow down and listen to what the Holy Spirit is teaching me in this fallow time. And hopefully, on the other side of this, I’ll be better prepared for what is to come. And once the brakes have been taken off, I’m ready to race forward into whatever that is, fully charged and ready to invest all.