Where I Blog

about the usually ordinary, occasionally exciting and sometimes quite boring daily happenings around here

7 QT

  1. Hi!  I’m Jennifer.  This blog is a mess.
  2. On Tuesday, we enjoyed a parade, a family get together, grilling out and fireworks.  It was a good time and had me feeling a bit sentimental.  I was thinking about how many things about this tradition are exactly the same as they were when I was a kid – 30+ years ago.  And how many things have changed.  I thought especially about those that are no longer with us.  My heart was heavy as I thought of all the memories I had with my grandparents and aunts and uncles on the 4th of July.  Maybe I was looking at it through the eyes of my kids, especially our youngest, and how much she loves it.


    Only picture I took all day. At my parents house, before heading to the parade.

  3. I am building a farmhouse table for our patio.  I read the plans here and all of the comments and suggestions from others who have built it.  I cannot over estimate how much those helped.   I also gave myself permission to make a few mistakes.  I am really happy with how it is turning out.IMG_0176.JPG
  4. I’ve started to think about next summer.  We are talking about an extended family vacation and my daughter is talking about a class she may want to take.  That feels weird to me.  I don’t know – its July and we are making plans for next July!?!
  5. I have been listening to podcast while I tackle some of the projects that I really dread.  AKA housework.  The Lazy Genius is a new one I’ve found and I am really enjoying it.  Check out the one on baking.
  6. How many cups of coffee do you think is too many cups of coffee?
  7. My birthday was yesterday.  I turned 43.  I think back to how old I was when my mom was 43 (or 42 or 41 – you get the picture;-).  Its a different perspective.  For so long, I thought my parents were perfect – not only that – but that were supposed to be perfect.  When I think of my mom’s age and my age, its a good reminder that there is no age that we are magically given all the answers.      Thanks for hosting, Kelly.

7 QT

Thank you, Kelly, for hosting.

  1.  We returned home after vacation last week and I’m not going to lie, it’s been rough.  I like vacation mode.  Lets stay there.image
  2. Last year when we returned home from vacation we had several nests of baby bunnies.  Some of those had mothers who abandoned them because they made it in a drainage area and they were washed away.  This year, we return from vacation and – same thing.  There are baby bunnies everywhere.  My best guess is our yard is safe when our two dogs are not patrolling it.
  3. Our kids are feeding three that were found crawling about in the yard.  What are my options here?  Google has helped.  But we just can’t keep doing this.image
  4. I feel like real life is on the horizon… school, activities and bedtimes – oh my.  I’m hiding and in a bit of denial.
  5. What else?  I made this Mexican Casserole and received great reviews from the family.
  6. I need a good book to read.  Any suggestions?  I just finished Blue Castle by LM Montgomery and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I heard rave reviews about Eligible and I was anxious to read it, but I’m just not loving it.
  7. We are going to go out to eat at a riverside restaurant on Saturday that has the best corn fritters this side of the Mississippi.  No kidding.  I’ll report back.


Have a great weekend!


Building Bridges

This year I am going to be serving together with several other women.  It is a great organization and I am excited to be a part of it.  These women have friendly, beautiful and upbeat personalities.  They have awesome children.  They have hearts that want to serve and I am grateful to be serving with them.

In conversation yesterday with one other woman I saw it.  I heard it.  I almost felt it.  Our differences.  We have pretty big philosophical differences that guide us in our own lives.



What if we confidently go forward, certain in what divides us and yet also certain in our own approach.  What if we go forth confident in our decisions?  Decisions we’ve made with our spouses and through prayer.  What if we move forward peacefully confident in our own decisions?

What if?

What if we looked at these decisions differently?    What if I looked at my sister and said, “But you should continue on this path.  It is what Christ has planted in your heart.  Keep going.”  These differences between us are beautiful and necessary divisions.

They don’t require arrogance, insecurity or competition.

These differences may see like a canyon in our relationships; deep and stunning.  They are carvings from our unique backgrounds and experiences.  If we move toward one another in  our strength, confidence and certainty we can build a bridge that defies all odds.  We can create a connection in places we can connect.  In places we do connect.

Connection over differences.



I walked this bridge in the literal sense last week.  What does it look like to relationally walk this bridge?  What does it look like to walk the bridge of connection over differences?

It means not entertaining insecurity or fear about my own decisions.  No second guessing or doubting what we have discussed and discerned with our spouses and others.  It would be mutual; both people seeking connection in places we connect.

It means allowing space for others to be themselves.  Allowing space for differences in opinions.  As Matthew Kelly says in The Seven Levels of Intimacy,   “Consciously or unconsciously we tell ourselves, ‘When I understand him, I will accept him’ or ‘when I understand her, I will love her.’

This is akin to standing at a stove and saying, ‘I’ll give you wood when you give me heat.’ Too often we make understanding a condition of our acceptance.’ ”

If we took time to remind ourselves, I do not understand your approach, but I accept you.

If we took the time to remind ourselves, that together we are trying our best and following the call that is placed our hearts to become everything we were created to be.

If we took the time to remind ourselves, that your path looks different from mine and I accept that.

We would build amazing bridges.












Thank you, Kelly, for hosting.

  1.  Summer is going way too fast.
  2. This past week I had a disagreement with someone.  I like disagreements about as much as I like the thought of having my wisdom teeth removed without anesthetics.  The thing is.  I believed in what I was bringing to the table, but it was messy and a lot less 7 steps to resolving a disagreement and more like,  I don’t even know. It was messy and awkward and shaky voice and angry and oh man I don’t think it should be going like this.
  3. It hit me this week  (I use that phrase too much – it hit me.  Its deep. Real deep.)  that that is what bothered me the most. It bothered me how wobbly I was in the midst of the conflict.
  4. I wasn’t happy that I had stood up for something I believed in, but was feeling bruised that I didn’t look or sound polished doing it.
  5. Pride is a messed up thing. It messes with our confidence and belief and strength.  It tells us if you don’t wrap everything up in a neat little package with a $20 bow, then we are a failure.  A big and epic failure.the-art-of-glamorous-gift-wrapping-L-93af5y
  6. That’s a lie.
  7. We won’t look good and certainly won’t feel good doing it.  But if we think it’s worth it, or it needs to be said then we should say it.  Sure its nice if we can deliver it in a nice 7 step flow chart with a resolution as number 8, but life is messy and unpredictable sometimes.
  8. A bonus one because I love you faithful readers. Ok.  I love you, mom and dad. Due to our marathon kitchen update, we have no cupboard doors.  In our absence last week our dog found a bag of powdered sugar and had a par. tay.  When we came home, my husband and kids warned me as I was the last to enter the house.  I considered 1. the time and effort it would take to clean this up.  or 2.  what our lives would look like if we never used the kitchen again.




Linking up with Kelly.

  1.  I love the Fourth of July. There was some of this….

My parents have a little haven for a backyard, including a zip line:).

2.  There was a parade, bingo in the park, cotton candy and kettle corn.  The carnival. Was. In. Town.

3.  Yesterday we visited an ice cream shop that locally sources 95% of their ingredients.  It is about 20 minutes from our house but I would drive there again for the Saigon Cinnamon or Brown Sugar Bourbon Ice Cream.  It was delicious.



4.  This weekend we are on day 7462 of a kitchen update.  We have finished sanding the doors and are now on to sanding the drawers.  When we started this we said we were FOR SURE going to be finished by the Fourth.


5.   How many days can laundry sit in the living room waiting to be folded?

6.  Six is always hard for me.

7.  Im off to the grocery store and maybe Home Depot.  Don’t be jealous.

Happy Friday!









I’m linking up with Kelly.

1. My blog is a hot mess. Send help.

2.  We went to the CWS this week.   My husband and son go to watch the game.  I go for the food.  My girls seem to be joining team mom on this one.  I’m raising them well.  Insert the picture I didn’t take of the $10 chicken-walking taco with sour cream and jalapeños here.

3.  I just read Jen Hatmaker’s book, For the Love,  it is a keeper (but belongs to the library).  I laughed out loud in several parts.  Others I tabbed and had to come back to and share with my husband.  Good stuff.  I don’t know if it was my favorite quote because there were several, but the part that made me giggle later when I thought of it was, ….

Honest to goodness, I just got up off my couch to go find it and apparently I took it back to the library before it was due.  I’ve done that 7 times since I’ve had a library card.  No quote, but it was the part where she talks about asking her child to get a shovel to dig her (his?) own grave after she sassed her and then said, because “that is WJHWD.”  Be kind dear reader on my placement of quotation marks, “because” may have been in there as well.  I’m not taking credit for the because.  Don’t sue me.

4.  I’m reading Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery.  It has been a little slow to grab me, but I am really starting to enjoy it.  I read reviews and heard great things about it before picking it up to read.

5.  Have you ever tried this recipe?  It is so good.  I don’t like beer.  At all.  I know that that image conjures up a prudish, middle age woman who says the word beer with kind of a creaky voice.  It’s not that.  It’s just that I really don’t like beer.  But I really like this recipe.  It is great if you are having a group over.  My neighbor froze some raspberries and lemons to put in the pitcher.  So cute. Which is exactly what you are looking for in a drink, I know.  Tasty and in my experience a crowd pleaser.

6.  My word this is hard.

7.  Here is a picture of one of our dogs.  He’s really cute.  I like him on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and every other Saturday.



Our Lenten Journey

We need lent.  Lent is a time to step back and reflect on what is getting in the way of our relationship with God.  It is to be just that – a relationship. Not a checklist or a drive thru.  But, we are human and even our relationships at home can feel like that from time to time.  When they start to feel thin or lacking, we can tune in and make some changes. Maybe we’ll schedule a date night at home with our spouse.  Or we’ll go out for dessert with one of our kids.

It is so easy to forget that we need to do the same in regards with our relationship with God.  We cannot see Him with our human eyes, only with our heart – so it is easy to forget that we need to maintain a relationship with Him.  What stands in our way of entering a relationship with God or going deeper into our relationship with Him?

Our idea of him?  Maybe we read a chapter of the Gospel every evening during Lent.  Our lack of trust?  Maybe we start every morning with the simple prayer, “Jesus, I trust in You.”  And then we journal, sharing with Jesus about what is on our heart and our minds.

Where does your sense of security come from?  Money, number of friends, number of followers on a blog or Facebook?  Be honest with Jesus about this.  Maybe tithe $5 more.  Maybe step away from whatever your security blanket is during Lent and ask Jesus to be that security for you.

The options are endless.  It starts with asking the question, “What is getting in my way with starting/continuing or deepening my relationship with Christ?”  Answer it honestly and offer it to Christ as a prayer.  Listen.  Your lent will be fruitful.





Umbrellas, lemonade and a basket of corkscrews

Early in the summer, my parents offered to take the kids for a couple of nights in July.  Thank you, Mom and Dad.

We toyed with different ideas of how to spend this time and ultimately wanted somewhere quiet and removed from the noise of the city. I love where we live. I think it is one of the greatest cities with charm, warmth and yet still the feel of a city – but I need quiet. I was surprised when my husband agreed and even more surprised when I pitched the idea of a Bed and Breakfast to which he said yes.

The one we chose was an hour away with our own private entrance, king size bed, a sitting area – and our own private bathroom that used a barn door for privacy.

Breakfast was incredible. To start was zucchini coffee cake and banana bread followed by a french baked pancake with cherry sauce and slivered almonds.

Summer 2013 Bed and Breakfast, ear piercing, county fair 014 (2)

Day two started with granola and fresh fruit and was followed with a spinach, sausage and roasted vegetable (peppers and tomatoes from her garden) frittata and baked sweet potatoes.

Summer 2013 Bed and Breakfast, ear piercing, county fair 037 (2)

On the day we arrived a note hung on the door telling us to ring the doorbell and if no one answers – come on in. We did and still no one came up front. We went through the entry, sitting room and dining room to find the innkeeper busy in the kitchen. We scared her and she apologized for not hearing the bell. She then asked if we wanted a tour of the house, to which I honestly wanted to decline because we had just walked through it, but politely said yes.

She took us back to the entry way and pointed out the concierge table, umbrellas if we wanted to walk in the rain, and a basket of menus of local restaurants. She directed us to the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and the lemonade she had made in anticipation of our arrival. The buffet had today’s weather written on a homemade marker board and to the left – a bucket of corkscrews and wine glasses – should we find a bottle of wine at a local winery. She told us of the movies, books, board games that we could take to our room and finally the spa out back.

Excluding the spa, books and board games, I had seen most everything she had shown me on my first unassisted tour through the house. It was her tour, her showing us all of the little extras and pointing out the corkscrews that made me want to stay – to sit down with a glass of her freshly made lemonade and read my book. Her kind way of pointing out all of the little things made us both feel welcome, really welcome.

It is something I’ve thought so much about, her way of sharing her gifts in a way that made another feel welcome. Not only that, but it was needed. I can honestly say had she not given the tour, I would have started to plan the afternoons and evenings away and look past the beautiful old, covered porch full of cozy furniture and a blanket or two – just in case the breeze picked up. I would not have spent time reading on the couch or looking through menus at local eateries.

Summer 2013 Bed and Breakfast, ear piercing, county fair 019

Her hospitality made me want to stay a bit, a day or two, refreshed and ready for reality again.  I have been in other places of business, homes, gatherings, events – or blogs even, where gifts are shared and items pointed out in a way that made others feel small and unwelcome. They were shared in a way that said, please compare yourself to me and my riches/talents/abilities, and I hope you lose.

Hospitality is a lost art. Sometimes it is tilted toward self, seen as an opportunity to show off. Those I’ve met with incredibly hospitality are rooted first in a gentle, strong self-confidence. It is not insecurity guarded by perfectionism, but secure in knowing themselves unafraid of their strengths or weaknesses and a desire to invite others in.

Many years ago, Katie Brown had a show on TLC. She did a show on all the ways she prepared for guests – the house, the menu and the table settings. It has been a while and my Google search yielded zero results, but at the end of that show she shared that when it is time for the party she answers the door with wet hair and a towel on her head (or a robe on – I don’t remember exactly). Partially not on purpose but due to planning and time crunching, but partially on purpose as she discovered the impact it had on guests coming in and really feeling welcome and making themselves at home.

Hospitality is authentic and has a way of disarming guests. It has a silent way of saying check your worries at the door and I am glad you are here.

I love being invited to a hospitable home and I hope that mine feels that way to others.

Passing it On

A few days ago I added a DIY tab to the blog.  After clicking on that link you will be assured that this is not a mark of original ideas or talent, only a desire to be creative and hopefully a place that will encourage others to do the same.

As a child, teenager and college student I was told that all of us are artists in the few, but various art classes I took .  Some were required such as the art appreciation course at the liberal arts college or the art class I needed for my education degree.  I didn’t and still do not believe that.   There are those with amazing talent in many mediums  – paint, pencil, photography and sculpture to name a few.   Artists translate emotions, moments, thoughts and ideas with tools on to their canvas of their choosing.  Their translation becomes for onlookers an affirmation of what they hold in their heart or mind, a question to ponder or, something they will (hopefully only metaphorically) spit at in anger or disagreement.

I am not an artist but I do enjoy being creative and strongly believe that our homes should be a safe place to take risks in this realm.  Putting a nail in a wall should not evoke more fear than say getting in a car to run to the store.  If I don’t like it, I’ll move it, hang something over it or fix it.  Eventually.

I have discovered that thrift shops are great places to find that piece waiting to be upcycled.  I have also stumbled across the power of spray paint. I have discovered the freedom that comes In allowing our homes to be a canvas.  I have discovered that it also inspires our children to take risks.

This is my home.  Our home is and should be a safe place to take risks.  I start small and then decide to think about something bigger.  Some projects turn out and others do not.  I get discouraged but also enjoy the successes.

As I learn to appreciate the need to be creative and not strive for perfection,  I also see how creativity works differently for so many people.  Some people are creative in finding solutions to problems – in businesses, schools or the organizational challenges of running a home.   Some are amazing in the kitchen, with a simple taste can name what ingredient will transform it unafraid to throw caution (i.e. the recipe) to the wind.

Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is contagious.  Pass it on.”  I’ve found this to be true.  The hardest part is giving myself permission to take a risk and to fail – because that is part of it.  The more I do so, the more I see my home as nest that needs my unique style of feathering.  In doing so, I also find that I am developing a greater appreciation of the strengths and talents of others. And their willingness to give step-by-step how to tutorials. Yeah!

Perfectionism is the nemesis of creativity.  I say, conquer by creating.  Start small.  Paint something.  Take your camera with you on a walk. Collage something.  Plant something.  Bake something and add that ingredient you think it has been missing.

Give yourself permission to take a risk, you will thank yourself later.



Five Favorites (vol. 2)

Linking up with Hallie at Moxie Wife for Five Favorites today!


Vintage Necklaces for Curtain Tie Backs

I am really liking this idea. We just hung, no scratch that, I just put the anchors, screws and screw driver on the dining room table so we can hang new window treatments in the dining room.

I think I might have to try this.




Roasted Sweet Onion Triscuits.

Yum. I discovered these after a last second throw in at the checkout aisle in Target. I am glad I did. A recipe suggestion on the box included Gouda cheese, teeny slice of fig (not a fan so I skipped) and apricot preserves.

It was okay, but I thought them especially delish with sharp, white cheddar cheese.




Tuesday Night Date Nights.

Sounds strange doesn’t it? A few summers ago, my husband and I decided to splurge on a sitter once a week for a date night. We assumed this would be a Friday or Saturday, but said babysitter was only available on Tuesdays. “Tuesday?” We said. No really it was just me. “A date night on Tuesday!?” Who goes on a date on a Tuesday?

We did. That’s who. All summer long. And it rocked.

Do you know you never have to wait at your favorite restaurant on a Tuesday?

Do you know you can get to the movie theater at the actual starting time and you will still get the best seats?

Do you know how many restaurants have incredible specials on Tuesdays because no one goes out to eat on Tuesdays?

Our favorite restaurant had half-off on all bottles of wine.





Fresh flowers on the kitchen table.


I have always thought having fresh flowers in the house such a treat.

Sometime ago we decided we would keep fresh flowers on our table for the 50 days of Easter.

It is such a treat and a beautiful reminder of the Easter season.


We Bought a Zoo soundtrack

We have had this for a while, but we just pulled it out again. So it is sort of a re-discovered favorite.

Majority of the titles are by Jonsi, the guitarist and vocalist from Sigur Ros.

Thank you, Hallie, for hosting!

An awesome week to ya,