What I’m Into (July/August 2015 Edition)

Here I go once again linking up with the crowd over at Leigh Kramer’s blog for a rare but hopefully returning edition of “what I’m into”

Here’s what your favorite Michigander and mother of three has been up to…ish

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Well, I’m sitting here making a packing list for our annual Labor Day camping trip which means that summer is coming to a close, quickly. I haven’t been doing a lot of writing on the blog lately but I’ve been doing a lot of freelance work which has kept me at the keyboard.

I’m trying to strike a balance there, school will surely help. Although I have one doing half days and one doing whole days so I feel like I’ll be mostly driving…

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Summery Summary – We’ve been in living in the parsonage (which we have named the Wrecktory… because rectory and also young kids) for 12 weeks now. The upstairs is really coming together and although we need to get a new couch, I am really happy with it. Caedmon and Noelle each have their own room and like I said, Clara has a crib in Noelle’s room but we’re mostly accidentally co-sleeping with her at this point. The move was really all encompassing and we didn’t do any fun kid-camps or vacations but instead have been exploring our new area, trying restaurants, hitting up the beach and playing in our backyard and garden. Produce has been a big focus this summer and we’re picked blueberries, strawberries, peaches and apples as we talk to the kids about real local food and show them what eating that way looks like. And then some nights we order cheap pizza, just in case you were worried we were getting too Holy over here. Continue reading

What I’m into (January 2014 Edition)

Linking up with Leigh Kramer for a (very belated) edition of What I’m Into.

January started with me a little wine-tipsy on the couch, because surely I’m not the only thirty-something finding midnight a stretch these days. But it really wound up from there, starting with Kel’s first day at his new church planting position with the “church that shall not be named… yet.”

Month in pictures

We had a ridiculous amount of snow days this month and in fact my birthday was defined by it, we celebrated sleepily in PJs and only ventured out once for pizza with friends.  A few days after my birthday Caedmon turned the big 03 and we did it up with a train party.

The middle of the month was a flurry of Young Life and Church work and I hit a stride with working from home that feels both hopeful and a little oppressive. I still struggle with the idea of working where you live yet also feeling “done with work” for a while. One of the keys to my progress this month has been setting up a bare bones office for myself in one of the bedrooms. This involved putting the kids together in one room which left me feeling nervous and selfish but in the end it’s gone perfectly.

Then the last week of the month saw us doing a road trip to Florida complete with stops to meet four blog friends!  The point of the trip was for Kel to take his last class of Seminary and while he did so I hung out with my cousin and our kids while we toured the greater Orlando area soaking up all the sun the weather would allot us.

Soggy day at SeaWorld!

Soggy day at SeaWorld!

It was a great trip but I’m happy to have the suitcases put up for a bit.  We put 2,500+ miles on the ol mini van and that was just a lot of in-car togetherness.

February is going to be a new month with revamped rhythms and the new task of house hunting as we are really feeling drawn to live in the neighborhood in which we are planting a church.

Travel

Got to meet the AMAZING Amanda Williams, Abby Norman and spent a week with my lovely cousin Amanda

On My Nightstand 

This month saw me completely immersed in the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth.  I flew through Divergent in one day, Insurgent in three and tried to pace myself through Allegiant because I didn’t want it to end.  It’s good and more addicting than a pan of brownies, you know how you go back to neaten the edges?  You’ll do that with this series. (also this is 3 500+ page books so it was no small undertaking in a month)

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld– This is a novel that is loosely designed to mirror the life of former First Lady Laura Bush. This was my first novel by Sittenfeld and I liked it enough to pick up another at the library this morning.

Red Cat, Blue Cat (for the kids) I picked this one up on a whim from the library simply because Noelle is crazy into kitties and I fell in love with the creative illustrations, british whimsy and underlying message that “being you is better than getting worked up about who someone else is.”  (any other adults need this one?)

On the Small Screen

We gobbled up the new installation of Sherlock this month, because, FINALLY NEW SHERLOCK!

Also kept up with Parenthood, what’s up with Joel? Does anyone else feel like there was a personality change there?

Cooking club

Best Bites

So this month a group of friends and I got together and started a cooking club, mostly because we heard Shauna Niequist do a reading over it and wanted in ASAP.  Our first meeting was Italian themed at Alyssa’s house and we are all already in love with the idea of gathering and cooking together. I made The Pioneer Woman’s Warm Spinach Salad, Lisa made Pasta Carbonara, Alyssa made a cheesy poppyseed bread and Courtney made warm sliced tomatoes topped with cheese and basil.

This month’s theme is belated Valentine’s Day at our place.  Can’t wait.

Random Love For

I got a Jawbone UP this month, which is a wrist bracelet that tracks your movement and sleep. My neurotic side loves being able to keep track of all of this and I have 0 regrets with this purchase. In fact I think I’m in love.

Also have to give a shout out to the Nars Matte lip pencil (I got it in Cruella) which I purchased for my first speaking gig. Don’t underestimate the power of the power lipstick my friends.

distinctlyme

In my Earbuds

I share all my music favorites on Spotify, a program and app for which I do pay a monthly fee and would gladly do endorsements.  The current New Year, New Playlist can be found by clicking that link.  You’re welcome.

Non Verbal Creativity 

Well I made that slouchy hat that you see Kel wearing above, a failed Red hat for Caedmon and that’s about it really. I’m still plugging away on a granny square afghan that feels eternal.

On the Blog

The three most popular posts on the blog this month were mostly guest posts!  I love being able to share this space with friends and their amazing words. In case you missed out please check out Addie Zierman’s and Tanya Marlow’s posts for the Love Showed Up Series.

You all also resonated with this post on how to stop worrying about who isn’t listening and start loving who is.  The title speaks for itself and it truly is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned lately. Always need a reminder here.

Well that’s in for the (late) January update.  I’m sick of talking about myself… What have you been up to? In to?  Reading? Eating?

Are you so over winter too?  Le Sigh….

Don’t miss a post, have each one delivered to your inbox… I’ll try to balance out the spam.

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There’s always twitter and Facebook too, you can join the conversation on all fronts, that my favorite.

This is What I’m Into- July 2013 Edition

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Once again I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer for another edition of “This is what I’m Into.”

Month in (super brief) review:  July wasn’t marked by any massive changes.  We celebrated fourth of July, I worked a lot, we swam a lot, Caedmon got stitches and then Kel and I went to camp at Timber Wolf Lake.

Favorite Moments: Watching the kids play with sparklers at the fourth of july and getting pictures (on my phone!) that looked like the belonged on the front page of the paper.

Random family date night at Lake Michigan, where Caedmon found a minion in the lake and Noelle found a gluten free bun at the 8th Street Grille.

The High Ropes course at Timber Wolf Lake and the ensuing laughter when my “step” off 946312_527554430667_1871061970_nthe platform looked more like a squirrely seizure.

Reading List- With increased hours at work, more guest posting and starting an Etsy store…  July left little time for reading.  And it was far, far, far too busy.

So in August we will be making some changes at the Casa such as scheduling reading time until it becomes a habit and moving our TV downstairs and dropping down to just one TV set again.

I will say that I did spend the month making my slow way through Barbara Kingsolver’s The The Poisonwood Bible(finally) but I’m only 1/3 of the way through so it doesn’t count and I still don’t have as great a feel for it.

 On the Small Screen:  These days we seem to only watch TV as the background noise for doing something else, so when I’m doing a lot of rug making or sewing, I have the TV on the in the background.  It’s one of my favorite ways to chill.  I relax in this somewhat noisy, multi-tasking way nearly every afternoon for about an hour.

This month I’ve been re-watching Arrested Development from the beginning and laughing. A lot.

Also I gave The Walking Dead a try with Kel and I have to say that the story line is great but the zombie parts make me want to curl up in my momma’s lap.  I don’t enjoy the undead and I think that’s okay.

July 2

On my playlists: This has been a great month for new music, mostly thanks to listening through the Parenthood Soundtrack on Spotify.  You should check out these tracks

Human After All – Michael Logan.
Somehow this song seems to sum up my entire July “Chase that sunset til we’re blind, and wake up to find, we are only human after all.  We are only human after all.”

Today has been OK – Emiliana Torrini
Another song about life, love and the stuff of life… mostly for melancholy moods, which I’ve sort of been in.  Can’t you tell?  

Shine On – The Kooks.
Because when you’re done realizing how you’ve messed up.. you gotsa have something upbeat to move you along.

St. Judy’s Comet – Paul Simon.
Because it reminds me to focus on my kids and not so much on whatever is stressing me out.  

Best Bites:  I made up some white chicken chili and for some reason it was pure magic in the middle of the summer.

Other than that it’s just been a lot of fresh blueberries and turkey wraps because July was busy.  Too busy.

Although there is this Salsa recipe.  I call it Salsa ala Betsy, because it’s a recipe from my Aunt Betsy… who I dearly love.

Take a jar of salsa.
Add a chopped pepper (color of your choosing but I go red, yellow, orange.. sweet)
Add a can of sweet corn (or whatever corn you have on hand, but this is easiest.)
Add a can of black beans
Add a chopped, ripe avocado.

Eat this for lunch and feel great because you’ve eaten protein AND veggies while standing at the counter.

Craft July

Non Verbal Creativity: I think the pies de resistance of my rug making thus far was this inset heart rug, which ultimately went to the home of my dear friend Allison.

Also! I scored some fantastic furniture from the side of the road and have big plans to up-cycle it for either sale or personal enjoyment.

Random Love For:  Mary Kay Lash Love Lengthening Mascara.  I don’t spend too much on makeup but I’ll invest in eyelashes that feel so long you could poke people with them.

On the Blog / Writing: Well most of you know this, but I had a viral post with Relevant Magazine.  It was shared on facebook over 2,200 times as of the writing of this post.  I cried the entire day it was being shared because redemption of my pain is the hope of my storytelling.  So… yeah lots of tears.

Other than that, my most popular post here was my big, exciting, Young Life Announcement where I told you all about how I’m fundraising to come on staff with the Western Great Lakes Region of Young Life to do their writing and social media.  So. Excited.

So now it’s your turn, what are you into, up to, all about? 

This post contains links to my Amazon Affiliates Page.  Clicking through and making purchases supports this blog, and that makes me pretty happy, really.

What I’m Into- June 2013 Edition

Once again another month comes to a close and I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer for another edition of “What I’m Into”

Month in (super brief) review- This month has been all about settling, simplifying and organizing. It’s warmed up considerably here in Michigan and we’ve been making frequent trips to the splash pad.  I started back at the Driving School where I worked for 7 years previously and I’ve been averaging two days a week answering phones and scheduling road tests there.

Also we celebrated Father’s day by having my family here in our new home where Kel grilled burgers on his new grill.  Overall a lovely month I’d say.

June Collage 1

Favorite Moments- Meeting up on the beach with these lovely ladies, Watching my kids ride bikes for the first time and this rabbit… who I’m convinced can bring a smile on the worst of days.  Oh and Noelle writing her name for the first time, unprompted and proud!

On my Bookshelf: This month I completed three books!  Glory and Hallelujah! (Technically I have a few chapters to go in one of them but my self esteem needs the number 3 so lay off it.)

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver-  I’m moving ahead with Kingsolver so I’d give The Bean Trees a try.  I enjoyed it a lot more than Prodigal Summer and I found the characters rich and (mostly) relatable.  Either way the story line was interesting and held my attention even if Kingsolver does move a little slow for me at times.

Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes I love Keyes and I have ever since I read her for the first time.  She writes witty, Irish novels that are easy to keep going back to, like neatening the edges on a pan of brownies. The story line of Mercy Close involved a main character trying to survive with her second relapse with a major depressive episode.  She has such a spot on and unique perspective that, for me, it proves once again Keyes’s ability to write about heavy topics in a completely unique and refreshing way.  Give her a try and if she’s not your cup of tea then… apologies.

Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown– I’m nearing the end of this book by Brené Brown but I had to include it here because I wanted to spread the word about how life changing, head-messing it is.  This book centers around wholehearted living: shining a light on shame and loving yourself well, which seems revolutionary, but should it be?  After all God loves me deeply, why would I think he wants me to hate on myself? hmmmm…..

So: If you buy any book this month make it this one, use this link, do it now!

June Collage 3

On the small Screen: We are now completely caught up on Dr Who and with the last episode came a definitely sadness.  However we plunged ahead with our BBC love and started watching Sherlock, which we promptly finished as it’s only 6 episodes long.  Love it.  Want to kiss Cumberbatch… appropriately, on the cheek like you do.

Also I re-started parenthood and it’s now my go to show for folding laundry, and my 45 minute break while the kids are napping/resting.  I cry every time.  Every. Bloody. Time.  So good.

June Collage 2

Best Bites: It’s summertime in Michigan and this means fresh produce abounds.  One can’t drive to the store here without passing mom and pop roadside produce stands piled high with goodness and I’M LOVING IT.

Along those lines we’ve been grilling loads of freshly snapped asparagus, baking up rhubarb and filling out mouths with berries upon berries.

Earlier this month we went strawberry picking and came home with a whopping 14 lb box of berries which Kel quickly dispatched into jam.  So now life is all sticky sweet with strawberry jam.  Bliss.

Also, I’ve reigned it in health wise, but I still love ice cream, dilemma thy name is bed time snack!  Enter this recipe for chocolate banana “ice cream” which is just frozen bananas, cocoa powder and vanilla.  It totally fools my late night craving with less guilt and dairy hangover.

June Collage Crafty

Non Verbal Creativity: 

This month I’ve done my level best to focus more on reading and writing (not arithmetic) over crafting and creating with my hands.  And I’ve experienced a lot of peace and positive momentum from this change.  Yet, I did manage to finish this dresser project for Noelle’s bedroom as well as some quilted valances.

June Pic 6

Random Love For:

This Bubble Thing Our kids love bubbles, but we have one major issue with them and that is bubble spillage.  No sooner do we peel the foil off of a new thing of bubbles than the solution is all over the deck.  Then we saw the “bubble-nator” which is a bucket with wands that prevents spillage.  Now they can bubble to their heart’s content, hooray!

Pine Sol- I don’t always like to clean, but when I do… I do it with a big bucket of Pine Sol. I’ve realized this month that I’ve become some sort of odd Pine Sol evangelist.  I helped a friend move and actually ran out to get some Pine Sol because I couldn’t help myself.  There’s no feeling quite as odd as realizing that you’re in the middle of an unprompted, yet impassioned speech about how much time we waste with spray cleaners when a bucket of suds does the trick more effectively.

It doesn’t have to be Pine Sol (for me I can’t justify $9 on a small bottle of Meyer’s Clean Day) but  a few rags and a bucket of pine sol has made cleaning so much easier, I can wipe down anything with it, walls, counters, sticky floor spots and furniture.  (I’m already in a shame spiral for writing this… but you need to know of it’s wonders!)

Chambray- This month I bought a new Chambray skirt and dress (off my stylish friend Danielle) and have paired my chambray skirt with everything under the sun.  I’m in love with the light, breezy versatility of it.  Two months ago I didn’t know what Chambray meant (it’s light denim) and now I can’t get enough of it.

Mary Kay Nourishine Lip Gloss- My BFF is a Mary Kay Rep and so by supporting her I’ve fallen for some of their products but none so passionately as their lip gloss, which I own in three shades: Gold Rush (sadly discontinued) Berry Tart and Red Passion.  I want to get into lipstick, truly I do, but for me this heavy gloss is so much easier to throw on as I walk into wherever I’m going, late with a kid in each hand.

On the Blog:

This month I had my most popular post of all time with The Plea of the Pastor’s WifeThis is a sad part of the rhythm of most ministry families, healing at home when the people of God tear you apart.  

I also had great response with Strawberries and Snap JudgementDon’t we paint big pictures of each other in our minds based on a square inch of information?
I’ll be honest, I do.  I judge people, in my mind, all the time.  Constantly really.

So now it’s your turn, what are you into, up to, all about? 

This post contains links to my Amazon Affiliates Page.  Clicking through and making purchases supports this blog, and that makes me pretty happy, really.

What I’m Into (May 2013 Edition)

Month in (super) Brief Review: Well this month should be fun to review, eh?  It started off in Oklahoma with an enormous moving truck which we promptly filled like the packing ninjas that we are.  Then we closed on our house and said a hundred teary goodbyes to our Oklahoma friends and family.

Our drive up was blessedly uneventful and we were met at our new home by a dozen friends and family who helped us unload and unpack in a flurry of cardboard and bubble wrap.

May Collage 1

Then we began the process of organization and settling in, which involved rotations of working on the house and leaving it to take in the pure Michigan awesome we now find ourselves in.

We bought a membership to the John Ball zoo and I created an epic playroom in the basement.

Kel did a stint on a construction crew and I went back to my former job at Century Driving school (one day a week.)

Noelle turned 4 and we filled our house, (twice!) with friends and family to celebrate four years of our beautiful Noers.

Then Kel accepted two (TWO!) jobs with the Michigan Methodist Conference and we planted some Kale and Zucchini in the side yard.

So…. yeah?  Wow.  Bring on the JUNE and with it hopefully some much needed routine and rhythm because I don’t think two of our May days were quite alike and to be honest I could use some same-ness.

May NAture

Great Reads & Word Discoveries:  This has been a terrible month for reading.  From blogs to books I have been absolutely MIA and it’s been a struggle to even keep up with email and messaging.  There is too much to do all around me and I’m cracking out on nesting and cozying into our new digs.

But I pick my way through Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.  This was my first novel by Kingsolver and I found it… okay.  I had to force my way through it and the endings were not shocking, I could have predicted them from the first page.  All that to be said I didn’t hate it so… there ya go.

May Collage 2

On the TV Screen:

So we are nearly caught up on Dr Who and I have to say that I’m now a self proclaimed Whovian.  Not only that… but Matt Smith is “My Doctor” (Every Whovian has one) and I am now comfortable coming out of the closet with that confession.  I held a torch for David Tennant for so so long but Matt and I?  We “get” each other, I even love his chin… and that’s true love.

Also… we met Ted’s Wife on HIMYM, we met THE MOTHER!  How did we feel about this? Are we excited, disappointed?  As for me, I need to know more. But one evening Kel pointed out… Check out how much we already know.

Also over the last week I started Parenthood and I’m already both addicted and smitten.  The Asbergers diagnosis alone had my heart strings pulled to tear inducing tautness.

Favorite Bites:

This past weekend I attended the Renew and Refine Retreat for Writers (which was awesome and I absolutely recommend) and Jason Berg prepared the most fantastic fare you could imagine.  Every meal had a fresh farmer’s market feel to it and it re-centered my culinary aspirations.

Overall I am loving the start of summer food and the weekly trips to the farmers market.  I stopped at a farm stand this past week for some freshly snapped asparagus and rhubarb which I turned into the best rhubarb crisp I’ve ever had.

Oh and I made 10 lbs of potato salad and I even shared with you my (not) super secret recipe.  

May Collage Food

Non Verbal Creativity (craft-crack): If I had to be honest with you, which I do, this is where most of my time has been going lately.  I’ve spent the month of may in serious nesting mode trying to get our new place to feel like home.  I’ve made valances, a play tent, curtains and some wall art.

I started painting a dresser for Noelle and I also learned how to make a granny square afghan.

I’m awash with half-completed projects and disorganized closets.  This is all to be expected, but that doesn’t mean that it’s my favorite.

Oh but look!  I made an orange floral skirt out of some sale fabric and one of Kel’s stained white T-shirts.  Total cost on this was under $10 and it has an elastic free yoga band at the waist which means it’s comfortable and fancy all at the same time.  #winning !

May what I love

Miscellaneous Love: 

Le Creuset 8-Quart Covered Stockpot (I’ve joined the Le Cruset owners club!)
The phrase “craft beer” which can be found all over West Michigan
The Holland Farmer’s Market and the abundance of farm stands.
Ghirardelli Sea Salt Soiree –  I always have it in the house so I can nibble at will.
Biggby Coffee, especially the Holland one at Chicago Drive and Waverly.
Constant hang out and play date invitations
Laying on the couch with the widows open, snuggled up to Kel at the end of a busy day
Our neighbor girl Summer, who stops over to play with Noelle.

May Collage 3

On The Blog: 

Most Popular Post: Crap, I’m a Sexist “Outside I portray equality, share-care and few gender stereotypes.  Yet my mindset is stuck on June Cleaver when it comes to personal expectations.” 

Runner up: What Oklahoma Gave Me: A Beginning ” I’m so thankful for these walls, this start, and I can’t help but grieve the end of this chapter. It was grace beyond grace in these walls and right now I’m finding it hard to walk out that leaded glass door for the last time.

But hope is on the journey. This is one beginning giving life to another, I know this full well.”

So that’s my May… I think… it’s been a weird month so I’m probably missing something.

So now it’s your turn, what have you been into, up to… all about? 

This post contains amazon affiliates links, clicking through will result in your supporting this blog and all the work that goes into it.  

What I’m Into (February 2013 Edition)

Feb Review 1

Month in [Super Brief] Review: I cannot believe February is over, I know it’s a short month but seriously?  I can hardly tell you what we did or where the month went.

I know I had a re-design on the blog, it snowed, we made snowmen, we went to Great Wolf Lodge, checked out Trader Joes and then it was supposed to snow but instead it was sunny and 54°

And now it’s almost March, dang.

PicMonkey Collage23

Best Moments of the Month:

At Last Serenade

click for my awkward reaction to this amazing serenade

On Valentines Day, Kel had some members of the ECU cchorale come and serenade me with “At Last” by Etta James, which is the song I walked down the aisle to at our wedding.

It was amazing, I was blown away and as you can tell by the video, I had no idea what to do while these amazing singers did their thing.

Also this month, Noelle has started working out with me… and she’s amazing.  She really takes the sting off of Jillian Michaels… sort of.

And Caedmon’s nose pressed against the glass at Great Wolf Lodge?  Priceless.

Also, a new nights ago Noelle created a reading corner and I instantly felt like I was winning as a Mom.  Then Caedmon joined her and she “read” to him from her memory… and I cried a little.

Feb Collage 2

Continue reading