Category Archives: Family

holiday reads

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I am a book lover always and at Christmas time, with the coziness of the Christmas lights glow and tunes on in the background, snuggling up with a good read and a peppermint hot chocolate is one of the best ways to spend a wintry evening. There are the wonderful Christmas classics that you crack out every December and then there are the favorites that may only have a small tie to Christmas in the writing, but for you, they are the perfect read for this time of year.

I gathered up a few of my favorites, and Little’s as well, to share with you lovelies, for yourselves and for your families; and I’d love if y’all shared with me, too!

1. ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

2. Bear Stays Up for Christmas

3. The Story of Holly & Ivy

4. The Polar Express

5. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

6. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 

7. A Christmas Carol

8. Little Women

9. Pride & Prejudice

10. Sense & Sensibility

11. Anne Of Green Gables

Links for each book: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 //

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mom’s granola

As previously mentioned last week, my mom’s granola is my favorite favorite. It is so delightfully quick to mix up and get in the oven and it makes your house smell like fall. And there’s nothing more cozy than that.

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I have passed this recipe on to many family and friends and it has quickly become a favorite of theirs as well. It’s a staple in our house.

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It is so easy to double or triple which is terrific as you are able to make however much you want or need at that time. It would be simple to make a large batch for yogurt parfaits to serve at brunch with friends or at a wedding or baby shower.

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It makes a darling little gift as well — sealed in a mason jar with ribbon or raffia tied around it.  If you were over at a friend’s house for dinner it’d be the perfect hostess gift to bring and couple it with some fresh berries and vanilla yogurt. Then they’d have breakfast for the next day!

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And here is the recipe………

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Mom’s Granola

4 cups rolled oats

1-2 cups nuts (pecans, almonds, etc)

3/4 cups shredded unsweetened coconut (sweetened works too, if that’s all you have)

1/4 cup wheat germ (optional)

2-4 tsp. milled flax seed (optional)

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. dark or light brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. maple syrup

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 tsp. salt

1-2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In large bowl combine oats, nuts, coconut, brown sugar, wheat germ and flax seed. In a separate bowl combine maple syrup, oil, salt and vanilla by whisking together well. Place on lightly oiled baking sheets. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve even color. Remove from oven & allow to cool. Add dried fruit, chocolate chips, or whatever other goodness you desire.

Enjoy my friends! Thanks, sweet momma, for the best granola ever!

happy friday // 08

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Hello all! I disappeared for a bit from my space here last week because we decided to take a spur of the moment trip to Texas to surprise our family there! That was rather fantastic. Those happy reactions we received will forever be favorites. The time we were able to share all together was needed and such a blessing. And watching AK and Joshie’s little friendship/cousin relationship continue to grow even though they get such little face to face time is a gift. They are buddies and it’s the sweetest thing to see. And baby cousin, Caleb, is the hilarious one of the bunch. Oh, that kid lights up a room and has the most kissable cheeks ever.  We also got to see our Roland friends who moved to TX from KY a month ago. It did our hearts good to have some catch-up time with them. We left that great state of TX with our hearts full of encouragement and refreshment and treasured memories.

And then we got home halfway through the week so my hubby only had to go to work for 2 days and now it’s Friday! This is just the best.

01 // J.Crew Factory has 50% off their clearance, people! It’s almost unwise for me to go look.

02 // Speaking of clearance: Old Navy has a ton of summer clearance online as well.

03 // Keeping with the theme, Gap has a summer sale going on now too.

04 // A good ice cream float can the perfect summer treat make. Berries & Cream Float. Green River Float. Strawberry Prosecco Float.

05 // One of our close friends, Emil Handke, is now offering photography coaching. If you’re near to the Louisville, KY area and have a desire to grow your knowledge and ability in the photography realm check him out. He’s a rather talented guy.

06 // Both my sisters-in-law are gluten free/dairy free and one of my close friends is gluten free as well. My sis-in-law, Megan, and my friend, Michelle, both own the cookbook Against All Grain by Danielle Walker. The chocolate chip cookie recipe in that cookbook produced one of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. It was so soft and melt in your mouth. I had a couple and then a couple more. I’m thankful for all the resources and food products that are available now for my friends and family! I’d like to invest in this cookbook at some point for myself so that I might better serve and care for them and to enjoy the benefits of recipes like this for our little family as well! [Danielle Walker also has written a small holiday cookbook and is coming out with her second full cookbook Meals Made Simple this coming fall.]

07 // J introduced me to the app, Day One, this week and I’m so glad he did.

08 // “When we’re tempted to keep and collect for our few short decades here, we need to be reminded that we’ll enjoy forever the fruit of our Christ-exalting investments in people and relationships.” — Excellent post by Marshall Segal on the Desiring God Blog. J and I have been talking and learning much on this subject recently and this post (and the following one) served to encourage and challenge us further in it.

09 // “Is my spending so cautious that it’s captured my heart and keeps me from loving those close to me well?” — A follow-up post to the one I shared above. Great insight into a much more subtle way that money can become an idol in our lives. As Marshall Segal writes, “what if this homicidal mistress lurks in less likely places?” Thankful for the wisdom shared in both these pieces.

Thank you for letting me share thoughts, finds, or encouragements from my week here in my little space. I’m truly grateful for these different ways to connect with all of  you. And I’d love for you to share with me here as well! Pass the love along.

Happy Friday, my friends!

— Jenny

saying “no”

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I am notoriously a “yes” person. It is a struggle for me to say no and, thus, I often overbook myself. This results in exhaustion, major emotional swings, lots of tears, impatience with my husband and daughter, and often sickness. The Lord has blessed me with a very patient and gentle husband who faithfully reminds me that sometimes I have to say “no.” We need to say “no” — even to things that are good things. Play dates, outings, trips, gatherings, etc. I have come to realize that my saying “yes” to all these things, while they may be fun, enjoyable, and even helpful to others at times, can start to have a negative affect on my family.

Now, just to insert here, I realize that there are times that are just going to be busy and weeks that are just going to be overflowing with things. There are times filled with unique, perhaps difficult circumstances, or times when work schedules are especially hectic, or times when family or friends need extra help.  That’s part of life and we should seek to joyfully and unselfishly serve, give, and work in those times. And the Lord is good to give strength and grace to endure during those full, perhaps overwhelming, times.

J and I always want to give of ourselves sacrificially, to ministry, to family and friends, etc. However, if my family begins suffering as a result of us being constantly busy, that to me is a clear sign that I need to step back, take a look at our calendar, and start making some calls and canceling some things. Especially if my committing to things is springing more from a desire to please others than truly to do what is best for my family.

The Lord has used those times of sickness and emotional instability as a wake up call to stop and evaluate. And I’ve had to come to the realization that the way He has created me is different than the way He has created every single other person in the world. And each one of us is able to handle busyness or multiple commitments in a different way. I have friends that are most often on the go and they are great with it! I’ve had to learn to praise the Lord for that for them and realize I’m not them. My family is not their family. My family is a group of 3 people who all like to be home and are most refreshed and relaxed when we have substantial family time, good sleep, and afternoons involving nothing more than coffee, books, walks and chats. We like to have adventures with others, but we also love having adventures just the 3 of us. We thrive in smaller social settings and are easily overwhelmed in large groups. Now, have we had to learn to be stretched and get out of our little comfort zones? Absolutely we have. But we are never going to be those people who are out socializing every evening of the week. And that’s okay!

Through the Lord’s gentle guidance, my hubby’s leadership, and the encouragement of others in my life, I have learned to think carefully and wisely through our days, our weeks, and our months. I commit to very little without talking to J first. I need that accountability. I make sure that AK and I have at least a couple of mornings each week (not including weekends) that we are just home together. Guarding her nap times are very important. J and I make sure we have date nights. We make sure that each of us have quiet individual time. We make sure AK and J have good daddy/daughter time. And all of this is such a process. J and I are often re-evaluating our little family’s needs with each season of life. Our needs change.

But we, better than anyone else, know what J needs, what I need, and what AK needs. We know what refreshes us and what wears us out. We know what makes us work effectively and what makes us completely useless. We know when to push and when we just shouldn’t. The Lord has given us wisdom for our family and it’s so freeing when I rest in that. Wisdom for our family. I don’t need to worry about anybody else. I can encourage them and praise the Lord for how He has created them, but I shouldn’t compare. I shouldn’t say “yes” to them when I know that my husband and daughter need me to say “no.” My little family is my first priority, always, and my calendar needs to reflect that.

A friend of our’s wrote this article and it encouraged me so much in exactly this. He wrote it more specifically to young ministers, but I know he would encourage all of us in this same vein. I haven’t read Part 2 of the article yet, but it is posted as well. 

Colorado

Some moments from our wonderful trip to Colorado………

Getting ready to board our plane and fly to Denver. I love this picture. Little was so excited – excited to fly high, excited to see Nana, Papi and Auntie Bear, excited to see the puppies. With her little backpack on, she ran up to the window, climbed on the chair, and said, “Momma! Daddy! Air-pane!” All of this pieces are wrapped up in this picture and I treasure it. IMG_8061

My two favorite people in all the world

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This was Little’s first flight with her own seat. Gosh, that hit me with how big she is now!

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My man never ceases to amaze me. He is darn good at fooseball. Thank you, Argentina, for all that practice. 😉

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Our first day there we got a beautiful snowfall.

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Little enjoyed pulling the sled because it left one hand free to eat snow.

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Sweet time with Auntie Bear

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A favorite pastime of Little’s is to play in the kitchen sink. Nana’s sink was a great one for that!

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A date day with this handsome man. Always a gift.

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Denver Aquarium visit…..

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Petting and feeding sting-rays. That was quite the experience.

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Afternoon pool match with my lovely Momma Coobs.

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Reading time before bed with Papi and Daddy. Precious memories.

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Papi and Nana had the great idea of pulling out an old mattress to let Little just jump. And boy, did she! She loved it. The girl has no end when it comes to jumping. I love my little energizer bunny. IMG_8149

She also goes completely silent when eating sugar. That’s my girl.

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I love this picture. Sweet moment with Nana before we headed home.

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I am always thankful that I travel with this man. Oh, how I love him.

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Heading home. This little girl loves planes.

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Our best little traveler. Such a blessing!

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My loves.

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Thankful for all the memories these trips bring. So thankful for our loving, generous, sweet, thoughtful, funny, and wonderful family. We treasure whatever time we are able enjoy with them.

A Sweet Visit

A few days after Papa and Gramma left a few more of our wonderful TX family members came in for a visit – my parents and little sister. My little sister, who is supposed to be 12 years old, wanted to visit Boyce, where J and I attended college, as a prospect for her college attendance next year! Oh, wow. So she and my parents were able to combine a visit there with staying for several days to have some quality time with the three of us. We hadn’t seen them since March so we were eager to have them with us. 

Again, AK was delighted! She immediately wanted to walk with her “Nomie” (my Mom) – they have such a sweet relationship – and she just chatted away with all of them. Her days were filled to the brim with smiles and giggles as she played, twirled, read, took walks, had park visits, and special treat outings with Papa, Nomie, and Auntie Meg. It was precious to watch her with them, seeing special memories be made in those moments. She sure does love them!

We took them to several of our favorite eateries around town and I think we got them hooked on pretty much all of them. My poor hubby and little sis both came down with rough cases of allergies for a couple of the days they were here so we enjoyed a couple evenings and afternoons of lounging, watching movies, and just enjoying one another’s company. As always, there was a lot of good food involved in our time being together, which I love because that means I get some good cooking-in-the-kitchen-with-mom time. She’s the one who taught me to cook and bake, instilled in me a love for serving my family and friends in that way, and the one in whom I first saw a pure delight for being in the kitchen. So time spent in the kitchen with her is one of my most favorite pastimes. Plus, she royally spoils me when she’s here by doing multitudes of dishes (we don’t have a dishwasher) and that is a true blessing! 

J and Dad were able to have a man lunch time together which J is always thankful for and gives them time to chat and catch up just the two of them. Let me add-in here, J and I are seriously both so blessed to have married into the families that we did. The more that goes by the more we realize how rare that is and our gratitude increases. Deeply thankful for that gift! Anyways……I also got to spend some good girly time with mom and Meg both together and separately which was precious for me. Those times are so rare.

It was truly a blessing of a visit, in many ways. Mom and dad know the full extent of that and for that, you two, we say thank you, thank you, thank you. You are true servants and we are humbled and grateful. 

It was weird and wonderful to see my baby sister all grown up talking to people about college and telling us her thoughts and plans. We are so proud of her and thankful for the godly woman she continually grows into. We sure don’t have any problems with her moving here next fall for college. In fact, we think it’s the wisest choice. 

Grateful for another gift of a visit. The Lord is continually gracious to allow these times spent with our dear family. We are anxious to get back to TX soon to see our 3 other fabulous siblings and two darling nephews as well. Trusting the time will come soon! 

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A Godly Heritage

My grandparents are two of the wisest, most godly, generous people I know. They are such a dear couple, who have faithfully cared for and ministered to not only their family, but multitudes of others over the years. So many of my sweet childhood memories include Papa’s jokes and stories, Gramma’s fabulous cooking, and constant encouragement, prayers, and advice from them both. It is such a gift to have such a godly heritage that has been passed down from them, through my parents, and into our lives as their children and grandchildren. Now, by God’s grace and guidance, we seek to pass that same heritage on to our daughter. We truly are a blessed family. God has been so kind and the older I get the more that truth resounds in my mind and heart.

Living 900 miles away from our TX side of the family means time spent together is usually reduced to a few times a year. This has taught us to more dearly cherish the times we do have together. It’s always exciting when family gets to come visit us in our home, so we were thrilled when Papa and Gramma emailed to say they would be driving through Louisville on their way to Nashville and would love to spend a couple of days with us. Of course we quickly replied yes! and anxiously awaited their arrival.

As we time drew near for them to arrive we prepped Little. She struggles sometimes with sharing Mommy and Daddy and so we were wanting to help her be excited about Papa and Gramma’s coming and encourage her to be sweet and unselfish. We were showing her pictures to remind her of who they are and talking, “Papa and Gigi (the great-grandkids call her Gigi) are going to come play with us and be at our house!” Well, the minute they got out of the car she took to them like nothing I’ve ever seen. She practically skipped into the house, (as much as a 23 month old can skip), which was the cutest thing ever. She ran all around the house showing them our different rooms and her toys. I don’t think she stopped her little chatter to them until she fell asleep that night! She ADORED them. She danced with “Pa-pop” (that’s how she said his name – melt me), played with her princesses with them, kicked her ball with them, played hide-and-seek with Papa, giggled endlessly, gave them kisses……..J and I sat there and melted into puddles. What a sweet gift to watch your daughter giggle and play with her great-grandparents!

Our favorite thing when they visit us, of course, is to just sit and talk. To learn and gain wisdom from them is something that J and I treasure. They are kind and faithful lovers of Christ and lovers of each other and that example is a beautiful thing to watch and learn from. They are precious to us.

We sure were thankful for their visit. The Lord was so kind to allow it to happen. We love you Pa-pop and Gigi!!

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