Monday, July 6, 2015

Wow - What a Weekend!

Our Sunday was full of so many good things!  My sister-in-law, who normally resides in Maine, is in Arkansas for a couple of weeks.  We are so excited to get to spend some time with her.  Actually, we wish that she and my brother would just move back to Arkansas, but we are thankful that they love living in Maine and that they make the effort to come back down and visit from time to time.

We attended church together and then came home to devour the roast, potatoes, and carrots that had been cooking in our absence.  It was so nice to putter around the kitchen together and sit on the swing and visit for a few minutes after lunch with my sweet SIL.

For Olivia's birthday she requested an ice-cream cake, and Sarah felt like a practice cake would be a good thing before the big day.  Sarah made a marvelous turtle ice cream cake, laced with caramel, toasted pecans, and chocolate.

And more friends came by to help us taste test!  We hadn't seen Jason and Kayla since December when they came to visit us in the village, and they needed a good place to stop on their long road trip back home.  Their birthday-cake-taste-test timing was perfect since Kayla has a birthday just around the corner.

The house was full of music and noise and Jesus and laughter and food and joy.

Jason and Kayla brought their new puppy, Steinway, and Olivia, our animal lover, helped Steinway practice his tricks.

What a perfect Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Fourth in America

You flag and my flag!
And, Oh! how much it holds--

Your land and my land --
Secure within its folds!

Your heart and my heart
Beat quicker at the sight.

Sun-kidded and wind-tossed --
Red and blue and white.
from "Your Flag and My Flag"
by Wilbur D. Nesbit

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Rainy Day Books

When a frontal boundary stalls out and gives us rainy, cool weather, you can often find a kid curled up with books at our house.
The library is still a never-ending source of wonder for us, and I've added a few new-to-us books to my summer wish list based on the luscious summer fruit that is so bountiful right now: 
"Blueberries for the Queen" by John and Katherine Patterson (based on a true story during WWII)
"Blackberry Booties" by Tricia Gardella
"Peach Heaven" by Yangsook Choi (based on a true story from South Korea in 1976)

Friday, July 3, 2015

I love Zucchini, Part 4

We're trying to grow a tiny herb and veggie garden next to the driveway.  So far the basil is doing well, and my mom found a handy gadget to make quick work of chopping herbs:  five-blade herb scissors from Ball.  It's a fun way to get kids (and adults) involved in the cooking process!
Zucchini with Basil Cream
Serves 6
1 cup chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
dash cayenne pepper
2 small carrots, julienned
4 medium zucchini, cut into 2-inch julienne strips
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 TBSP minced fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

In a large saucepan, bring the broth, garlic and cayenne to a boil; cook, uncovered, until mixture is reduced by a third.
Add carrots.  Reduce heat; cover and cook for 4-5 minutes or until tender.  Add zucchini; cover and cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender.  Drain.

Combine the cornstarch and milk until smooth; stir into vegetables.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Add Parmesan cheese and basil; stir gently.  Sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Picking Peaches and Blueberries


Our summer routine is slowly taking shape.  The kids are completing two days of school a week, and the others days are plenty full with all of the good things and people that surround us.

I drove my hard-working kids to Cadron Crest Orchard in Guy, Arkansas, to pick peaches and blackberries.  Wow!  The fruit was absolutely beautiful.

And you can eat while you work.

Soon we had four bags full of peaches, so we moved on to the blackberry bushes.


Many hands make light work, especially when you know that your morning is full of errands after the fruit is picked.

Katherine had a little visitor - a teeny tiny frog - who crawled up inside her jeans and made her squeal.  But he was just as happy to get out as she was.

In just over an hour, the back of our vehicle was full of ripe, sweet-smelling fruit, and we continued with our busy day.

I know all mamas should be partial to their own kiddos, but I really do think mine are the very best.
When we got home, they peeled and chopped, and best of all, they sang together while they worked.

They knew good things were in store.  Like peach upside down cake for an early birthday cake for my mom.

And then they still had enough stamina after supper to make a double batch of peach jam.
I'm so grateful for their choices to work together and have fun at the same time.

The results are beautiful.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Holly Grove, Arkansas

I recently discovered the book "Summersaults" by Douglas Florian.  Our visit to spend time with my aunt, uncle, and five cousins can be summed up in a couple of poems from this sweet picture book.

 "The Swing"
The swing's a swinging, zinging chair,
The place to chase the air up there.

Just hold on tight, no need to steer,
And soon you'll clear the atmosphere.

"The Sum of Summer"
The sum of summer
Is one billion bees

 And six trillion leaves
On three billion trees

And four fillion flies
And five sillion fleas

And uncounted numbers
Of sweet memories.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Olive Branch, Mississippi


I love looking back at God's faithfulness in guiding my path.  In the midst of challenging times when Aaron was in seminary, God gave me a couple of special friends who have stood the test of time and distance.

We got to visit one of those friends during our quick trip to the Memphis area.  Every time we visit, we know that the entire family will have a blast.

This time, we even found a potential new favorite game, Suspend.  Whenever I spend time with Christine, I always come away challenged to make my world more beautiful and to never quit learning.

I also seem to always get busy talking and never take enough pictures of the happy chaos going on when our two families are together in this sweet household.

Christine's fingers created a lovely reminder of our relationship that God began in 2002 at library story time.

Thanks for sticking around long enough (no matter how many times I move!) to call me an "old friend".

Monday, June 29, 2015

Memphis, Tennessee


I've written before that piece of our hearts are scattered all over the world, but huge chunks of our hearts still reside in Memphis.

Over the weekend, we crammed in as many people and places as we could possibly manage - seminary professors, alto buddies from church choir, lots of people we met while Aaron served on staff at Highland Heights Baptist Church.

Some of our friends even hosted a get-together at their house to make it easier for us to catch up

 with many special friends all at the same time.

We're so grateful for all of the people who took the time and effort in the midst of busy schedules

to spend a little bit of time with us this weekend.

Our bodies are exhausted,

but our hearts

are full.