Hello November

I can sit on my living room couch and see this gorgeousness out my window. Ah, happiness! The people who built our house were not terribly imaginative when it came to planting trees. All three of our trees have ugly brown leaves and are rather boring when it comes to leaf beauty. So I’m extra thankful that our neighbors have beautiful trees!

I have been soaking up fall so much this year. I think it’s almost outranked summer as my favorite season now. We had some unseasonably warm days last week (as in, I was picking raspberries in short sleeves + bare feet), and now it’s back to brisk mornings and chilly evenings. My heart feels full of varied good experiences this autumn. Such as:

  • One Sunday morning we visited a church about 3 miles down the road. We drive by it all the time and it’s always piqued both our curiosity so we decided to go, just for fun.ย  Right before we left, I told Jonathan that for some reason I felt SO nervous about going. He made the comment that it’s probably because we don’t know how the people in the church are going to treat us. Will they be friendly or will we feel out of place?ย  We concluded that it’s no wonder unchurched people don’t go to church anymore. If WE feel this way (with Christianity as a common denominator), how much more uncomfortable do they feel? It makes me even more convicted to treat people with kindness, no matter what. Back to our visit to the Evangelical Christian Baptist Church– well, it actually ended up being a Russian church. (And apparently, Baptists in Russia are nothing like Baptists in America.) The whole service was in Russian — singing, speaking, and preaching, so a young man interpreted for us. (Which worked out great, except for the wiggly baby who was constantly trying to pull my earphones out) I never would’ve dreamed that we’d have to have an interpreter in a church three miles from our house!! It was interesting to be there and observe and understand people with a different cultural background. There were all originally from Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, and a few other countries in that region of Europe. (And if you ever want to hear beautiful singing… wow, can they ever SING.)
  • We hosted our annual newlywed fall party a couple weeks ago. The last couple years we just had a small party with around 3-4 couples. This year we decided to make it a little bigger, and it ended up suiting 6 couples to come, including friends from Philly and the Bald Eagle/Lockhaven, PA area. The group didn’t all know each other at the beginning of the evening, but we made sure they did by the end. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We started out with soup, salad + garlic bread, and then played several ice breaker games. Everyone did so well at the first game, that we had to keep doing tiebreakers! I still giggle to myself at some of the antics we made everyone go through. Heh! (They secretly enjoyed themselves, I hope ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) By the end of the evening, it was decided that we should have game nights/parties more often.

And a Few Fall Finds for you to check out. (You’re welcome.)

A Slice With Joy. Such a pretty, inspiring food blog with YUM looking photos The White Chicken Chili was delicious, and I’m eyeing the Gingerbread Crepes., Charlene’s Healthy Waffles, and the Creamy Sausage/Spinach Soup. Really, it all looks so good.

Wocket in My Pocket. I’ve read this blog off and on before, and enjoy her sense of humor and writing style. She addressed the subject of refugees + how we respond to the brokenness around us so well: We Have to Look.ย 

Good Reads. Come to find out, two bookish friends of mine have been using this site for years. (Yup, I’m often late to the party ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) A fun site for finding new book recommendations, shelving your own reads, or books you’re currently reading. There are all sorts of reviews and it’s a fun place to browse. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anything fun new finds you’ve discovered lately and would like to share with me?


Last week we sat on the couch with our late night smoothies + summer sausage and wrote down words that describe people. What? You don’t do that in your spare evening time? ๐Ÿ™‚

The scoop is, it involved preparation for a game we’ll be playing at an upcoming fall party. I won’t disclose too much more about the game in case some of the party-goers are reading this, but I will tell you this much. We came up with a spiritual word to describe each couple attending, and it was rather fascinating. I penned words like: committed, encouraging, sincere. Then I told Jonathan, “I wonder what word people would use to describe us?”

It really is sobering.

Now I doubt people sit around with their notebooks on a regular basis and write down words that describe each other — but they do formulate thoughts and opinions and impressions. Mentally. Sometimes verbally. Granted, impressions aren’t always correct, but the Bible does say, “By their fruits you shall know them.”

If a person is consistently kind and gracious and self-controlled, it’s not hard to see. You will see it on their facial countenance and hear it in their speech. On the flip side, if a person is harboring anger and bitterness and speaks harsh words, it won’t take much to figure that out.

What impressions are we giving people by the lives we live?

Foodie Ramblings From My Corner of the Couch

Ahh, food. That part of life that we just can’t do without, like it or not.ย  Sometimes I overflow with menu ideas, and sometimes I wish a chef would come take over my kitchen for a week. (Or at least make a gourmet breakfast every morning ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) I like to cook, but everyone runs dry on ideas (and meat in the freezer) at some point.

So on this rainy, dreary night, here are a few foodie ramblings from my corner of the couch.

I recently discovered the fun of making homemade fries. It never fails to thrill me that a boring, plain potato can be transformed into these crispy morsels of goodness. AND. This is the best part. They’re homegrown organic potatoes tossed with olive oil, well-seasoned + baked in the oven til crisp. Okay, so potatoes aren’t the most nutritious food ever, but hey, at least they are the most healthy fries you will probably ever get! Paired with malt vinegar? Um!Recent lightbulb moment: Instead of always halving a recipe that is way too much for us to eat, go ahead and make the whole recipe. Half is for supper and half goes into a freezer pan. Give to a friend who is sick or overwhelmed or grieving or just needs a boost. Easy peasy and doesn’t take a huge amount of extra work, since you were making supper anyway. This was Chipotle in a Bowl.This meal made me feel so old world. Lentil Stew + Crusty [Rosemary] Bread always does that to me. Paired with apples + cheese, it makes the perfect fallish type meal. We may have had the leftovers for Sunday lunch while playing Settlers. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Other top favorites as of late:

  • Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing Longest name ever, but my hubby declares them his favorite cupcakes ever. Confession: the icing and the cupcakes keep coming out unevenly, so I keep having to make consecutive new batches of each. Hehe! ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Zuppa Toscana [Copycat Olive Garden] This soup makes your house smell like you are GOURMET. Think garlic and sausage and bacon smells wafting through your house… And it tastes even better than it smells!
  • Salted Caramel Sauce + Stuff This blog post made me want salted caramel sauce right now. Which unfortunately is not possible with no heavy cream in the house. I want to make this for our fall party that’s coming up.
  • Steel Cut Oats topped with our own raspberries + drizzled maple syrup. It was the perfect breakfast for a misty, dreary morning.

What are your current food favorites?

Photo Shoot Outtakes

I’m currently editing our Christmas pictures and ran across some funny + sweet outtakes! Let’s just say that taking a family picture has reached a whole new level when it involves a little person. She didn’t cry, but no smiles for the camera that day.This picture just melts my heart. It was completely unposed — I think I was just testing lighting/positioning of the camera. Here we have a “Bring me more seed in the field” phone call, a teething baby’s pooched out cheeks, and the trusty farm truck. :ODog Rivals With Baby for Master’s Attention. ๐Ÿ˜‰

ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย ย  I call this: The boots that would not stay on. We spent half the time just putting them back on…Because straw is more fun to play with than pumpkins… ๐Ÿ˜‰


And the family pictures that turned out? You’ll have to wait for Christmastime to see them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Currently// October Twenty Fifteen

Currently// October Twenty FifteenIt’s been awhile since I’ve done a Currently post.

Eating/Cooking:ย Well this is a no-brainer. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Fall is here and so are all the yummy foods! Applesauce, apple crisp, apple butter, pumpkin cupcakes, apple pie, soups: on the menu. One last Tomato Pie for the year was popped in the oven last night to eat with friends. I just finished my third applesauce day; one with a friend, and two by myself. Why so much? I have a feeling that our little person will be eating alot this winter. ๐Ÿ™‚ Listening:ย My world expanded a few days ago! I discovered the Overdrive App. Sign up for free, and you can use it on your computer/phone/tablet, or whatever device you have. Then sync your library system and search for the Overdrive e-audiobooks available. Borrow one (just like you’d borrow a book from the library) and BOOM, you have a free audiobook instantly. Once your time is up (my library lets you borrow things for 14 days), it instantly returns itself. No more overdue library fines! I’m currently listening to Unbroken, the WWII story about Louie Zamperini.

Reading: We are trying to get into the habit of reading a psalm together at breakfast. They say it takes 21 days to start a habit — it hasn’t been that many days yet, so hopefully soon we will be in the rhythm. ๐Ÿ™‚

Playing: Settlers of Catan is my latest favorite game. (*whisper* I just learned how to play) Yeah I know, I’m a little behind in the game world. Hello, cozy fall evenings + my favorite game-playing person + pumpkin cupcakes + coffee.Growing: Two things. The fastest growing “thing” around here — well, she’s actually a person, not a thing. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Our little princess went from sitting to crawling in the space of two weeks, and she also says “dada” and “ba”. (bottle, I think) Just… WHERE DID MY BABY GO SO FAST???It’s fun to watch her world expanding, even if it makes my world a lot busier — and it’s expanding, alright. Once one can independently be mobile, life is never the same. Case in point: Avi now knows how to get stuck under a chair, open a bottom dresser drawer, and what happens when you touch a sleeping dog’s paw. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (No injuries besides normal bumps on the head, in case you’re wondering)The other thing I have been growing in large quantities are peppers. This afternoon I harvested what was left in our garden, since tonight is supposed to be our first freeze. And, wow, are there ever PEPPERS. They were shaded by the large broccoli plants early on in the season, and were somewhat stunted in their growth. Once the broccoli got pulled, they finally could thrive! Unfortunately, this was long after I needed peppers for things like salsa and V8. Methinks I will be chopping peppers for the freezer sometime in the near future. ๐Ÿ™‚ Outside My Window: It depends which window you look out. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Out my back window this afternoon was this scene:Soybeans got combined today, so hubby was out with the tractor + accelerator. I love the fact that they farm the land right up to our back yard, so I randomly see tractors going by with people I know in them!

Out my front window are cornshocks + mums, with a few pumpkins thrown in. I like the festiveness of fall decorating. Next year I want to grow white pumpkins. ๐Ÿ™‚

What does your October currently look like?

Happy Travels To Us

So I just read some travel blogs/articles and have been severely bitten. By the travel bug, that is. ๐Ÿ˜‰

We have several trips this month — a long weekend trip to a wedding down south, and an almost week-long chorus tour down south. (See a theme here? I say it’s unfortunate that we’re not going to these warm places in the middle of winter) One trip will be on a plane plus a few hours of driving. The other is on a big tour bus with about 40 other people.

We’ve traveled many times before, but this is our first time traveling extensively with a baby and it’ll be interesting to see how it goes. ๐Ÿ™‚ She’s been a trooper on our shorter road trips, and doesn’t mind her car seat, so I’m not terribly worried. As long as the air pressure doesn’t hurt her ears on the plane, I think she’ll be fine.

I’m trying a few “new” things this time:

  1. Packing outfits in gallon sized Ziploc bags. I tried this out for Avi on a couple weekend trips, and it seemed to work great. Pack each day’s necessities in a separate bag — for Aviella it looked like this: 6 diapers, the day’s outfit, burp cloth, socks, and a sleeper/PJs for that night. I packed extra outfits all together in a separate bag or two. It was so handy to have everything that I needed for the day all packed together in one gallon bag, and it eliminated digging around in the suitcase trying to find things. Dirty clothes go back into the same Ziploc. I’m doing this for myself too!
  2. Ordering a couple of books I’ve been wanting to read for awhile, and making myself wait to read ’til the trip to read them. (This only works if your books actually COME IN TIME. Sigh. It’s rather frustrating when the package tracking info says the book has been delivered and you haven’t seen hide or hair of it. Most likely it’ll come the day we leave, which is before the mail goes)
  3. Leaving the house as clean and tidied up as possible. It’s just so much nicer coming home to a clean house. I liked to try to follow this principle in the past, but inevitably there’d be clean piles of laundry or discarded clothes on the bed that didn’t make the packing cut. I’m trying a little harder this time. ๐Ÿ™‚ (now, if only the fridge were cleaned out…)

And a few things I’m doing the same:

  1. Packing in the same color scheme to minimalize and pack lighter. If you read packing blogs at all, you’ll know that this nothing new. I’ve found that it is really helpful on cutting back on taking too much. For instance, I originally had packed a brown schemed outfit for church on Sunday. After realizing that it was my only outfit with brown and that I’d have to pack a whole ‘nother set of shoes just for Sunday morning, I decided to scrap it and chose something that will match with the silver sandals I was already taking. Trying to do carry-ons only, so we’ll see if that works with a baby. ๐Ÿ™‚
  2. Snacks. I always, ALWAYS take snacks when we travel. My go-to is fiber balls, which are a granola type bar/ball that contain oatmeal, peanut butter, honey, etc. You never know when you’ll be eating or not eating (especially when you’re flying) and with my fast metabolism, I like to have something along that is high protein to tide me over until we can eat a real meal. For one trip I’m taking snack crackers, fiber balls, a couple apples, and a few pomegranate chocolates for a treat.
  3. Pack important documents such as passport, boarding passes, birth certificate, etc in a little pouch/purse in an easy to access place. This makes security lines SO much easier!

Happy travels to us! ๐Ÿ™‚

Rainy Days + Taco Soup

It’s a rainy day in Pennsylvania.

Lately it’s been hot and humid (as in 90 degrees plus), and feeling more like mid-July instead of the beginning of September. This rain is very welcome!

I’m relishing the cool, rainy day and am wishing for a few more. Somehow, things are more fun inside when it’s rainy and dreary outside. I just want to bake my pumpkins + squash and make banana bread and clean my house. And you can’t forget lighting candles and drinking coffee! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve been waiting all summer to make soup again, and it’s on the menu for supper tonight!

Taco Soup

1 quart V8 juice (can use tomato)

1 can whole corn

1 can pinto or black beans

1/2 lb fried hamburger

1 medium onion, chopped

1 packet taco seasoning

Simmer together on the stovetop for 20-30 minutes. When serving, top with taco chips, sour cream, and shredded cheese. Pair with crusty focaccia bread + a salad for a hearty fall meal.

The Art of Loving// How YOU Can Help Refugees

I think we’re all aware of the horrors of terrorism and persecution happening on the other side of the world. Often there is mention made on the news of the political and violent unrest going on in various parts of the world. If you’re anything like me, the awfulness of it grips you, but you feel helpless and unsure of what you could do to help those far-away people who are suffering.

Well, some of them are not so far away.

Recently, I was made aware of a program that helps refugees that are right here in our very own Lancaster County. It’s called: Showers of Support For Pregnant Refugees.ย The global organization Church World Service has a branch in Lancaster that is geared toward helping refugees, and a local volunteer named Mindy has taken the initiative to bless pregnant refugees. The purpose of the program is to collect baby items, and then have baby showers for these ladies.ย There are three Somali women, one Nepali, One Burmese, and one Cuban who may be receiving showers in the future.

I can’t imagine being in the shoes of these ladies. The violence of terror. Running for your life. Escaping your own country and all the adjustments of living in a new country. So much upheaval and turmoil. All this on top of the emotions and change that goes along with carrying and preparing for a baby.

You can help.

This is a list of the items they are looking for:

Car seats
Baby bags
Baby gates
Diapers (disposable or cloth)
Pack and plays
Baby clothes
Sanitary pads- heavy

If you are interested in giving to help these pregnant refugees, the drop-off location is at Church World Services – 308 E King St, Lancaster, PA. It’s best if you call/email in and schedule a time to drop items off so that Christine can meet you and help ensure that the items get to the right place. If you know me in real life, contact me and I would be happy to collect any items you may have and get them to CWS.

They are also looking for people to help decorate & make food for the showers. You can call Christine Baer (717-358-9278) or email (cbaer@cwsglobal.org) for more information and check out their facebook information page.

Please share this post/info with your friends and family. These ladies need our help, and who better to help them then us? After all, we are the hands & feet of Christ.

*This post was not sponsored in any way. I just want to get the word out and make more people aware of this need. Christine Baer of CWS granted permission to share this information.*Past posts in the Art of Loving series:

How to Start

How to Love Your Pregnant Friend

Loving Your Neighbors, Literally



I skipped my Art of Loving post last week, but there’s one currently in the works. Just have a few details to confirm yet. ๐Ÿ™‚ Stay tuned!I don’t feel like I have a whole lot to say right now. So… FIVE VERBS.

COOK: I haven’t been terribly inspired lately but here are a couple of inspiring links. Crepes. Because, Nutella. And strawberries. ๐Ÿ™‚ Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad… oh my yum! In my kitchen? We’ve been eating peach pie, quinoa salad, lots of leftovers, and those Fiber Balls I made for the weekend camping trip? (I keep sneaking them out of the fridge ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

LISTEN: So I just discovered christianaudio.com. If you sign up for a free 30 day trial membership, you can download one book for free. They have LOTS of options — you make sure the book you want has the green “Free with a 30 day trial membership” button. They will ask for your card information, but your total will be $0.00. Don’t forget to cancel/pause your membership before the 30 days are up, or you will be charge a monthly fee. I’m currently listening to book 3 in Dr James Dobson’s fiction series.

WATCH: Audacity, produced by Ray Comfort, was just released on YouTube this week. WOW! Such a powerful message so needed in this time of social and cultural upheaval in our nation. The movie addresses homosexuality and weaves Ray Comfort’s real-life conversations with gays into a story of a young Christian man’s journey to discovering how to relate + witness to homosexuals. [Note: There are some pretty intense scenes, so not recommended for children. Though some pretty powerful statements were made through these scenes.]

LOVE: I’ve been thinking about the little things we can do to love well. Love does not have to be a grand, complicated endeavor. It can be reading your child a book. It can be making your tired hubby a tall iced coffee. It can be running an errand to help out an overloaded neighbor. It can be smiling at that grumpy cashier. It can be folding that pile of laundry, again.

ENJOY: I’m trying to soak in the last moments of summer. I canned all day, and it was fun. ๐Ÿ™‚ The baby napped for 3 1/2 hours, so that meant I had lots of time to work. More hot pepper jelly, a few pints of pears, and little jars of hot pepper rings for gifts are cooling on my counter. Last Saturday we had a spontaneous picnic with the family in our favorite nearby park. The red raspberries are ripening, and the sunflowers are bobbing their cheery heads. Miss Autumn is right around the corner, but I’m holding onto summer as long as I can. ๐Ÿ™‚

What are you cooking, listening to, watching, enjoying, and how are you loving this week?

Farmers + Birthdays

I married a farmer.

This means that I now care a great deal more about things like timely rains and whether the hay is dry enough to bale. I also take random picnics out to the field on busy days. And now farmers have a soft place in my heart. โคThis farmer happens to have a birthday today, and we are celebrating!ย  (Mostly with food, hehe) I’m “taking” him to Shady Maple for breakfast, and supper will be all his favorite foods. Our families both have the same tradition of the birthday person picking the meal, so we’ve continued that in our home as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Birthday,ย  Sweetheart!