Change and Comfort

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)


  1. Brown ground beef, seasoning liberally with House Seasoning.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Book Review: Daisy Jones and The Six

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.

Menu Plan Monday

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.

flat lay photography of vegetable salad on plate
Photo by Ella Olsson 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?



Billboards from God

Have you ever been in a situation where you weren’t sure what you were supposed to do and someone says to you “well pray about it and see what God says?”  How’d that work for you?
I often joke about how I wish God would just put what he wants me to do on a billboard:
“OK LOIS – HERE IS YOUR JOB TODAY.” Then I would know exactly what I’m supposed to do and I could go do it.  I am GREAT at executing a plan.  Like, I’m an Olympic-level planner and get-things-done girl.
Here are your instructions... God


God’s not renting billboards

But God is not like that, is he?  He’s not renting billboards or sending us to-do lists to check off.  We’re sometimes left fumbling along through life as if we were walking through a fog, trying to find our path and purpose and not really sure if the way in which we are walking is the way in which we should be walking. Sometimes we don’t know we’re in the right (or wrong) place until we bump into something – and we’re either pleasantly surprised or sadly disappointed.

car on road. heavy fog and haze

Then there are those times where we are absolutely certain that this, this is the path we are supposed to go down.  This has got to be it, right? It’s the right thing to do, surely God wants me to do this?  Or is it?  Is it really us wanting something so badly that we decide that it must be God’s will for us?  How do we know? How can we know?
I once had a situation where I felt like God was urging me to do something different in my personal life – to step into a new area that I’d never gone before. I was really not sure I wanted or should be going there – even though I felt this nudging in my heart.
So I prayed about it. And thought about it. And talked to family and trusted friends about it.   For a long time. Like a year or more. The answers I kept getting were “You’d be great at that!” “Yes! You should definitely do that!” I thought, “Well, gosh, if everyone thinks this way it must be what I’m supposed to be doing.” So I did it. I jumped in with both feet.
It was not quite what I was expecting.  I had visions of everything being great – and feeling like I was making a difference and people seeing value in what I was doing. I was. And they did.  To some degree.  But it was hard.  And I mean REALLY hard.   At first I thought, “well, this is new. It will be hard at first.” But it didn’t get any easier. It was like I was slogging through mud.
That is when I knew something wasn’t right.

Still no billboards

God will not get in the way of us having our way. He will not put up a big billboard and say “Stop, do not pass GO. Do not collect $200”  He values our freedom so much that he will not get in the way – even if it means we sacrifice our own happiness for short term gain, rather than long term joy with him.  Even if it means we take a wrong turn somewhere along the way and we need a course correction.


How do you know what you are doing is God’s will?

So, if we don’t get a billboard, how do you figure it out? How do you know what you are doing is God’s will?
Well, for me, I figure out when I am outside of God’s will because things are hard.  I don’t mean hard like “oh, I’ve got so much to do, how am I going to get this done?” or that something is a challenge for you to overcome. I mean HARD – like you are swimming upstream, pushing a 2-ton block through rapids, wearing chains in the pouring down rain HARD.  When you think “WHY am I doing this?”  — That’s when I know I’m outside of God’s will.
And sometimes that is even in the middle of doing something that I originally thought was doing God’s will. Sometimes, I think we try to make our own agenda God’s agenda.
So, back to my story.  I’m slogging through the metaphorical mud, doing what I think I’m supposed to be doing – working where I think I’m supposed to be working.  And I feel like a square peg in a round hole.  And one day I think, “It shouldn’t be this hard! WHY is this so hard? If this is where God wants me to be, why is everything so difficult?!?”
I was talking to my oldest daughter one night about it – one of many conversations I’d had with her about the situation.  She is just like me. My “mini me” and we think alike, act alike, some would even say look alike.  And because of that (and many other reasons) I value her opinion.  It’s like asking myself a question but without my own inner rationalizations and justifications. And she is honest, y’all. Brutally, uncompromisingly, unapologetically honest. (I love her for that.)
And she said, “Mom, maybe this is NOT where you’re supposed to be right now.”
Um, excuse me? What?
Not where I’m supposed to be? I beg your pardon? I thought about this for two years! I prayed about it! How in the world could this not be where I’m supposed to be? Every sign pointed to this exact place I was in. I’d followed God’s prompting – I’d stepped out in faith.  All the things a good Christian follower of Jesus is supposed to do.
How in the world could it be wrong?
Had I mistaken what I thought was God’s will but was really my will? Had I misinterpreted the signs? Or was it that I had done as much as I was supposed to do and now God was pointing me in a different direction? Maybe what I thought was the “job” I had to do wasn’t really the “job” at all, but merely a stepping stone on a larger path that I didn’t yet see the end of.

Image result for stepping stones on a river

Reading the signs … or stepping out in faith

I think, sometimes, we don’t know the answers – or we only figure out in hindsight if we are lucky – that we were on the right path.
That’s where faith and trust come in. Not having that big sign pointing “THIS WAY” and telling us where to go. I think that is where we have to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit – our inner guide – telling us where we need to be and what we need to do.
In the New Testament Jesus doesn’t say “Okay guys, here’s your step by step plan to go out and share the Gospel. I’ve broken it down into twenty-seven steps and we’ve got checkpoints along the way.” No, He simply said, “Follow me”
As much as we’d like billboards and carefully planned out timelines, we don’t get that.
But what we do get is the assurance that wherever we go and whatever we do, God will provide for us.  In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus sends out the disciples saying: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt.”
He didn’t tell them to pack a snack for the walk, or some extra sandals in case the ones they had wore out. He didn’t give them an itinerary or timeline.  He just sent them.  And they went.
I think, sometimes we hide behind all the things that we think we need to know or prepare for before we step out into the unknown. It’s human nature, I know. We want to be prepared. We want to feel safe.  We like our cozy comfy places.  But God doesn’t call us to a life of comfort and ease.
He calls us to a life that requires us to stretch and move in ways we’ve never done before – to live our lives as a living testimony to His glory.  If we never step out of the comfy places, what stories do we have to tell? How can we become living testimonies of God if we never open ourselves up to opportunities to let God shine in our own lives?
As I’ve gotten a little distance and perspective on the situation one thing I have come to realize is that maybe I was exactly where I was supposed to be for that point in time. But it may not have been where I needed to be forever.  And that is OK.  I learned a lot. I did new things, shared in new experiences, and I can promise you that every step of that journey was filled with little prayers of “Ok, God, I sure hope that you’re there because I don’t know about this.”
When things changed, and that situation ended, I found myself once again in unfamiliar territory.  Reaching again for my Heavenly Father to guide me, to lead me to the next path, and to help me to continue to grow and learn from my experiences past and present.
When we surrender to God, He takes over the outcome of our lives.  In the end, one way or another, our lives will reflect the will of God – and our obedience (or disobedience) to that.   I don’t know about you, but I’d rather reach out in faith to follow my Heavenly Father than set out into the unknown without any guideposts along the way.

And after vacation…

We get sick … Apparently.  

So I haven’t been up to doing much the past week. On my second round of meds and still feeling rotten. 

But I have done a wee bit of knitting 

And I’ve got a fantabulous bread recipe I’m testing (and the family is devouring) I hope to share that with you soon. 

Other than that, I’m just sniffling and coughing and hoping to get well. ❤️

Checking in

Hi, y’all –

Sorry I haven’t posted yet this week. Have spent most of the last two days in doctor appointments for my big girl. Specialist appointments we’ve been waiting months for – follow ups to the illness she’s been battling since last fall. It’s been a hectic few days and we’re now processing and digesting all of the news and diagnoses we’ve been given.  Lots of follow up appointments to make and new things to adjust to.

Good news is it’s nothing dire or tragic. Not so good news is she’s got some medical issues she’ll most likely deal with for some time. However, she’s a tough girl and I know without a doubt that she will be able to, (in her Daddy’s words) “improvise, overcome and adapt”

So, I’ll be back to posting in a few days – thinking about sharing some of my favorite planner YouTube videos and I have a few more recipes in the works to share as well. Stay tuned. 🙂