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A Simple Garnish

Whether your friend is coming by for coffee and cookies or you would like to remind your family how important they are to you; here is a simple garnish. 

Here I used a pear cookie cutter I have.

Here I used a pear cookie cutter I have.

 With July 4th just around the corner you could easily use a star cookie cutter for your party, as well.  I have multiple sizes of star cookie cutters so two different sizes would be a fun garnish on the plates.  If you don’t plan to set the table throw some watermelon stars on several of your food serving platters.

Simply slice a piece of watermelon to the degree of thickness you like and add a sprig of an herb from your garden.  I used parsley for this one.

Simply slice a piece of watermelon to the degree of thickness you like and add an herb sprig from your garden. I used parsley for this one but basil or rosemary would be pretty too.

I really do love garnishing and with just a tiny bit of time, you can do it too with very little fore thought.

Cheers to a great weekend!

Dawn

Ramblies from my Path of Life

Life for me has been kind of random as of late.   Mentally and physically preparing for the birth of my 4th baby, which should arrive in 4 weeks. I am preparing room in my for heart for this little baby that just kicks and kicks and I can’t wait to hold that slimly little baby close to me.

Mother's Day 2014

Birthday weekend

I turned 40 last week.  We partied, thanks to my hubbs, mom and sister who were scheming behind my back.  My mom and sister prepared such a delightful brunch for the guests my husband carefully thought thru to invite; some really good girl friends and some older woman who have spoken into my life. I was so humbled by their presence and kind words!  They offered me life!

A gathering of Friends

A gathering of Friends

My mother and sister with me at the celebration

My mother, sister and I  at the celebration

The green beans are up and the 50 tomato plants look great.  This is all thanks to some dear folks from church who found out we were not going to do a garden this year and asked if they could share  our garden space.  Why “Yes please, we would be happy to share our garden plot and the work load.”  I am so thrilled about this opportunity.  It’s just a small way I am seeing Jesus care for us!

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I need these babies, last year I froze 55 qt bags and I have 2 left.

My deck which was barren and simple was transformed when my mother and sister showed up with presents to make it a lovely, oasis. They strung lights and what not.  A place where I want to go have my quiet time at.  My husband bought me a beautiful bistro table complete with red pillows and  umbrella.  We love to sit out there and enjoy the quiet and I have been fortunate to have a few friends over to sip coffee with me, it’s  just a respite from the daily

hold rums of living!

IMG_2388 All 100 blueberry and 45 black raspberry plants are in.  My hubbs, boys and I did it one day.  I hurt for days after wards and felt like I could sleep for a whole week post berry bush planting.  But they are in and we hope to produce a lot of healthy small berries out of that patch for years to come.

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CJ just happy to mix the peat moss, water and dirt!

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I have been crafting a bit, rare occurrence these days.  I forgot how wonderful a hot glue gun smells.  I used to use mine all the time, when free time was more plentiful.  Just that smell takes me back, it’s a smell of days gone by.  It was all so odd how it took me back.  Last week I also  finally took down a few remnants of Christmas, (red berries that were still pretty and Christmas cookie jars) whew was I ever behind this year!!!

IMG_2378Fire fly’s and little boys are such a wonder to me.  My boys loose all track of time when they set there hearts on catching fire fly’s.  They remind me to linger just a bit longer.  The other night, in the rain they are climbing on rails with nets and what not because they wanted to capture the firefly on the window all the while they had already been given orders to get there jammies on.  They really were not being defiant, they were just lost in the wonder of light.  When I stop and look at the world through their eyes, it causes me to want to slow down just a bit more!

Our special company!

Our special company!

We happened upon a local, reasonably priced U-Pick strawberry patch this summer and have picked well over 100 lbs of strawberries.  Let’ s just say my husband has passed his love of straws onto his boys!!

Angel food cake, whipped cream and fresh straws! Yummo!

Angel food cake, whipped cream and fresh straws! Yummo!

I am using lots of paper plates these days.  I have given myself permission.  Sometimes it’s in the giving of permission that you realize it really is ok.  That I am not lazy, but it is a coping mechanism to survival.  I want to live life well and not feel like I am constantly in a squeeze.  So part of that is using paper as I finish out this 3rd trimester pregnancy, and work on  umpteen freezer meals (will share a post in a week or 2 about freezer meals) for when baby #4, and homeschooler #1 need my attention and all of us need to eat!

I still dream about business, it’s amazing to me how it side wipes me every now and again.  I love it that ‘HOPE’ is kept alive by these little side swipes.  The Lord keeps bringing people into my life to remind that HE really did place that dream in my heart.  I will run into old customers, job opportunities (even though I am not willing to lay down these moments with my babies for those opportunities) and people who want to pick our brains and draw from our experience.  It all just happens in the oddest of places but out of that HOPE  is kept alive in my soul.  I wonder if there will ever be a ‘release’ in my heart to do another business or what it will look like? I have many dreams and many more questions but for now, we will plant 30-50 each of peonies and hydrangeas and see what kind of LIFE they will bring to us and just maybe a business opportunity?   Peonies have got to be the prettiest flowers there are.  This lovely bouquet came from my friend Sarah.  They have come and gone but I still wanted to share their beauty.

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And finally, as I prepare for baby #4, I am amazed at the growth in my soul. I remember being so overwhelmed about ‘all the stuff’ that was not getting done when I had  baby #1.   I have learned to let go of things that really weren’t quite as important as I deemed them to be.  Not that they didn’t have value in our home but I think that as I am preparing my heart for baby #4 and I see all the things that may not get done;  like my kitchen floor not getting swept every day or the house not perfectly picked up or a blog post that is 4 weeks past due, I realize that there is more of a settled peace in my heart today then there was 6 years ago when I was adjusting to baby #1.  Jesus is inviting me to press in, to walk this path with a new sense of rest.  I would never have thought this possible but I am learning that this life, our journey is not so much about our circumstances but it is about pressing in and embracing what may seem to be  schedule irritations.   I am finding this quote so amazingly true!!   “The More You Love Your Decisions, the Less You Need Others to Love Them.”

Whatever the hard is that your wanting to run from or fighting to press into, I trust that you can find the place deep in your soul to accept what you need to and  walk your journey with ‘grace!’

BLESSINGS!

Dawn

A Saturday Morning Brunch & Community

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I love hosting!  It requires work, true! But there is nothing so rewarding as offering myself in the form of service like this! Last Saturday was no exception.  It was for a special group of ladies.  Ladies I have laughed with, shared with, cried with, prayed with and ate with in the past year.  They are the ladies that form my accountability/support group.  We have been in community for 3 1/2 years.  So there is a lot of life that happens in that time period.   

Colors of Christmas

Colors of Christmas with a spot of yogurt

THE MENU

It was simple.  It needed to be because the night before I had helped my hubbs with his work Christmas Banquet.  We were working on a tight budget so that required super, duper creativity!  We needed to decorate the tables and have appetizer and punch for 81 people on a $92 budget.  Yeah we did it!!  Anyway, back to the menu!

Whole grain Croissant Sandwiches with egg, cheese and bacon

Whipping Cream Potatoes (page  121 in the cookbook)

Fresh Fruit with Vanilla Yogurt (green grapes, kiwi, red raspberries & pomegranate arils)

Red Berry Pavlova Tower

(thanks to Southern Living for their creativity)  Mine didn’t turn out as pretty white as theirs did but it was still so yummy!

Coffee Bar

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The table all pretty:

IMG_0122And I am famous for picking my camera up once and not again.  This happened again at this event.  So there are no foto’s of my lovely guests.  Sigh! 

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The Coffee Station

More important then the brunch and all it’s pretty foto’s is the relationship that has been forged with these woman.  As woman we need each other.  I am pleading with you to fight the tendency to do life alone (in our heads we don’t think we want to do life alone but sometimes in our hearts we can feel so alone in a sea of people)!  Don’t wait for woman to call you and ‘form’ a group like this.   It won’t happen.  Be intentional. I am not talking about your friends who you would call to go shopping with although they may be a part of it. I am talking about woman you can share your hearts with, woman you may not generally rub shoulders with but woman you want to learn from. While Bible Study with woman is good, this goes beyond that.  Pray! Seek out the woman the Lord gives you faces to.  Be diligent in your seeking before Jesus. 

We started with 6.  You may want to start smaller.  Trust me, we are all so different. You will want to be flexible in the context of your group. We have changed our format up every year.  We started meeting during the day with our kids.  It was chaos.  Now we meet at night.  We meet once a month from Sept-May.  And in between those meetings time we have access to a closed Facebook group and we text a lot back and forth. We are always available to pray together. 

I think what is so beautiful to me is the fact that we are learning from each, we are growing from each other.  We have left our meetings with this stark realization we are not alone in our parenting struggles.  Satan would want us to think we are and before we know it has tripped us up!  It has been so good to hear real, in flesh woman be honest with their hearts not just some words I read over the computer off a blog or heard on a radio show.  I share this next story with my hubbs permission and we share it because I don’t think woman really understand the beautiful, grace-filled power they can have in relationship to their husband.  I didn’t!  During an incredibly difficult time for my hubbs and I, one of the ladies in our group challenged me to go home and move towards my husband sexually.  I thought she was out of her mind because that was the absolute last thing I felt like doing.  But the most beautiful thing happened in our marriage during that time after I pondered what she said to me.  We had a break thru like never before.  It still is just such a precious time as I look back and reflect over that time period.  The ‘hard’ dynamics that we were dealing with DID NOT change but my husband opened up to me in such a beautiful, powerful way that was just beyond comprehension.  Had I walked alone during that time I would have turned inward and not experienced the truly beautiful place that the Lord wanted to take my husband and I!!!  I am so grateful for deep, close community and this brunch was only a tiny reflection of the true beauty that is in the hearts of these woman I so love!!

Cheers sweet friends!

Dawn

Last Saturday

we were very random and spontaneous, well the spontaneous  part started about mid way thru the week.  Let me back up a bit, earlier this spring I had been in Lancaster, PA and mentioned to my friend, Jess that I was doing this radical detox (due to feeling so lousy since my 3rd baby i.e. 4 pregnancies in 5 years probably contributed to that) she mentioned this health food store that might have a lot of the products that I am looking for. While at the health food store I picked  up a brochure that talked about ‘Family Days on the Farm’.   Sorry there is no website to link you to, I wish there was because in our spontaneity we were the beneficiaries of an an amazing, educational, fun, informative and just all around superb day!!

There were proably 10 large tents like this on the grounds.  All filled with great things to discover!

There were probably 10 large tents like this on the grounds. All filled with great things to discover!

I had marked this day on the calender back in March, thinking that if we need a little family outing maybe we would pack every one up  and go on a long drive to take the event in. We live about 3 hours from Lancaster.  It came down to the week of and my husband and I kept going back and forth, should we go, should we not?  We last minutish, invited our friends, Shawn and Katrina to go with us and they said, “Let us see what we can do.”  They have a very tight schedule, they run a home for elderly and do such an amazing job in their commitment to give a ‘loving family’ approach to the aging as they approach the end of life.  It also means they are not able to steal away very easily.

My hubbs and I left it that if they would join us we would go.  My husband has been traveling a lot with work lately, we have been hosting guests for meals and over night and were feeling a bit tired but also feeling like maybe this little day trip might just be the thing we need for a bit of adventure.  I did question what kind of event this would be because we didn’t know anyone who was connected to it?  And I was thinking what if we drag 2 van loads (urs and Shawn’s family) of people up their and it turns out to be a joke.  Bum deal that would be!!IMG_8180IMG_8170

Shawn’s got back to us with a “Yes”  It was so worth every ounce of effort it took to make the day happen.  We left our house at 6:15 a.m. and didn’t arrive home till 12:15 a.m. Sunday morning.  (Needless to say, we were dragging on Sunday!!).  The memories we made, the workshops we took in, the healthy food we ate, the simplicity of simple living and the generous hospitality they welcomed us with, were amazing.

When we entered the farm of Mr Zook (he’s the organic Amish farmer who allowed his land to host the event) at 9:40 a.m. they told us that there were already 1,600 people on the property and last year the event pulled 2,000 people so clearly in their 2nd year of an event like this they were going to draw a much bigger crowd.

For real, that is a real live camel with her baby.  They were loading to take her home.

For real, that is a real live camel with her baby. They were loading to take her home.

They had such well planned things for the children to do.  Workshops for the adults, such as blueberry growing, healthy eating, how to raise chickens, how to butcher chickens, horse training, cheese making, the dangers of GMO’s, how processed food has increased diseases, composting and the list goes on and on.  It was basically an event to educate us on how to care for the land with out the use of synthetic products.

Jordyn having fun with one of her prizes!!

Jordyn having fun with one of her prizes!!

The food was donation basis and all came from the ‘local’ area.  They had a fresh salad bar, chicken corn soup, chili soup, grilled hamburgers (on fresh ground whole wheat buns) , homemade hand  made sausage links, fresh fruit cups, smoothies of all kinds, fresh grape juice, lemonade made with stevia, homemade healthy pies :-), homemade ice-cream made with all raw products and sweetened with maple syrup, raw sugar and/or stevia. It was all just very impressive to me!!! And the fact that the food was on a donation basis.  Blows me away.

The atmosphere was so kid friendly.  Our friend, Shawn walked on and said, “This is definitely not like the Fauquier fair, where you are constantly on edge about where your kids are?” That was a true statement.

I come home with a new appreciation for farming and the hard work that goes into it.  Gardening is hard work but to know my food source and grow it is so rewarding especially when I know I am making good deposits into my children’s health and well being.

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For me, the blueberry session was probably the most beneficial because we would like to plant 100 bushes next spring. For my husband, the GMO session and the dangers associated with it was very beneficial for him and I think it will help him make good decisions in how we use our little plot of land.  The kids could not stay away from the animal tent.  And the memories we made with our friends was priceless!!  We drove into the heart of Lancaster after we left the event, stopped at road side stands to buy tomatoes and peaches and what not. And then ended it with dinner at a Deiner’s.  There food is so good and our servers were wonderful (which thru an odd circumstances of events knew my husband and Katrina) so that made our dinner experience even better.  Never mind taking 7 kids ranging from 1-9 does not create an atmosphere that you would call quiet and peaceful for dinner but it did fill their bellies well which was most important for the  long ride back!

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Katrina and I with our kids!

Sometimes information overload can be so overwhelming but with time as you download all that info into your brain and think about it for weeks or months it helps you make good decisions going forward. I think that is how this event will be for us.  So instead of being discouraged about some more changes we need to make i.e. the biggie being NO MORE round up. Ouch!  Long term I know it’s the best for our well being.

Shawn with his boys

Shawn with his boys

I also left the event encouraged, realizing that some of the healthy life style changes my husband and I have made over the past 4 years have been really good ones.

I keep thinking about Sally Clarkson’s words to us at her Intensive…… Sometimes a momma just has to be tired for the sake of her children, mothering requires sacrifice.  Sure we could have stayed home on Saturday but we would have missed an incredible opportunity with our friends making memories and educating ourselves!  Yeah for little adventures!!  Dawn