Friday, May 29, 2015

St. Philaret's Prayer (free printable)

Update:  this printable has been revised with the correct spelling of the word "throughout" :o)

I'm a firm believer in the power of prayer.  When I reacquainted myself with my prayer journal from The Toddler Years, I was astounded to see how many of those prayers God continues to answer, and that was great motivation to re-establish more regular prayer habits.  For years, I've used a prayer journal  - more as a fixed list of things to pray about than a journal in the traditional sense.  Although my personal church experience doesn't include corporate prayers spoken in unison, they've always held a certain fascination for me, and I've come to appreciate pre-written prayers of late.  My favorite is this beautiful morning prayer from St. Philaret:

This prayer reminds me that God is in control, and it sets my days off with a calm heart at peace.  Asking God to help me act firmly and wisely and not embarrass or embitter others seems particularly relevant these days as a mom of four young people.  I'm sure my kids give a hearty amen to this part of the prayer :o)

Apparently, the part of my brain that memorizes things is the smallest part, so I have the prayer written out, and I thought maybe you'd like a copy, too.  Click }here{ for a free printable.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mercy Hunting: The Rain, The Pole, and Other Things

Wet.  Rainy.  Muddy.  Chilly! 
Can this possibly be May?

My brother came down this week.  He made a flag pole for us - it's 25 feet tall!  He brought his tractor, the flag pole and his four wheeler.  While he and LtDan and the boys dug the hole and cemented the pole base, I rode the four wheeler :o)  Our next step is to paint the pole, and then we're ready to raise the flag just in time for Memorial Day.  I'm so excited!

LtDan mowed my walking trail for me, and then it rained, and rained, and rained - it's still not finished raining - and as the fields drain into the creek, parts of my trail turn into causeways.  Some of our property lies in the flood plain, and I totally geek out on the affect of the rain on the land and the creek.  Perhaps I should have studied hydro-engineering in college - ha!  Anyway, since I walk in mudboots, wading thru water isn't a problem.  God's mercies are new, ready to be counted every morning - even if they may be a little water logged.

The Power of None vs. Energy Bites

I mentioned listening to Gretchen Rubin's book Better Than Before }here{ and I thoroughly enjoy her podcast -  check her out }here{.  This podcast is like sitting in on a friendly chat between two smart and witty sisters talking about things that can make all our lives happier.  One of my favorite empowering concepts that Gretchen introduces in her book and discusses on her podcast is the difference between Abstainers and Moderators.  An Abstainer finds it easier to have none than one; a Moderator functions best when they don't have to deal with absolutes.  I'm definitely an Abstainer, which I finally learned after raiding the reward candy supply and having to go back to the store to replenish the candy stock more than once.  At last, I proclaimed "NOT EVEN ONE" piece of candy would cross my lips again (well ... from this candy supply, anyway :o).  And that was it.  Not even one piece of candy, and no more emergency trips to the store to replenish the supply.  It's infinitely easier for me to just decide nope, not even one, than to try to moderate my willpower.  Better Than Before put all of that into words, helped me clarify my tendencies, and realize that opting for none is even an option.  Ah yes, I thought I had this thing down, but life is generous with learning opportunities: my sister brought over a box of homemade Energy Bites.  Let us say I had a very "energetic" day until I realized I must wield the Power of None or else possibly explode.  They were delicious, but for me, impossible to resist.  If you would like to conduct your own experiment to determine if you are an Abstainer or a Moderator, check out this recipe for No Bake Energy Bites }here{ on the Gimme Some Oven blog.  Just ... be careful.  

Spring is busy on the front porch.  Honey bees at the Hummingbird feeder and a  spider with who knows how many tiny babies on its back, and wanting to come in the house!  It's a good thing LtDan works from home is all I will say about that spider.

Praying for America

A friend of mine posted }this link{ to an article about Anne Graham Lotz's MAYDAY Prayer Initiative, a call to pray for America.  These days, the national headlines are, at best, unsettling.  Often, after watching the news I find myself wondering, "what can I do?"  Ann Graham Lotz is Billy Graham's daughter; I found it so encouraging to hear her say in the interview, "We're doing all we know to do:  Pray."  This, I can do.  If you'd like more information about the MAYDAY Prayer Initiative, click }here{.  The message is sobering and urgent, but offers hope.  No worries if you aren't offering your prayers on the "right" date (I'm not either).  I don't think there's an expiration date for prayers.

Just this week I was noting a young cottonwood tree (my favorite!) growing by the creek.  The next day?  It was down on the ground, and look!  It was the handywork of a beaver!  I'm so bummed that a beaver (or beavers?) chose to gnaw down a cottonwood tree out of all the choices available, but it's kind of fun to know what Ruby is always so very interested in when we cross the creek.  

In other wildlife news, I saw a deer crossing the backfield last week, and there are lots of footprints in the mud.  When I hear hunters shooting during hunting season, I'm hoping the deer get away.  Sorry, hunters!

The May wildflowers are definitely here, but some of my favorites are waiting for sunshine to coax them out.  Having suffered through the past few summers in drought, it's bad form to begrudge the rain.  Maybe May showers will bring June flowers, too?

I hope you're having a lovely spring.  One day this week, it was hot and humid enough to remind me  that I actually do prefer exercising in warmer temperatures.  I'm sure the Texas summer will accommodate soon.

One last thing.  I'm just curious ... tell me, is it just me, or can you see a face in the tree trunk in the picture below?  Oh dear, now that I ask, I see more than one ...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Family Surfing Night #14

Hey!  We made it to Friday!  This week we enjoyed one of our favorite family activities, Family Surfing Night, where we share the best of the web with the family.  You can read how Family Surfing Night got started }here{  As far as family activities go, this is the ace in the hole - everyone always wants to do this one.

When I looked to see what episode Family Surfing Night this was, I was shocked to see that our last FSN post was over a year ago.  How can that be???  We've had several FSN's since last February, and alas, alas, the links to quality viewing that cannot be retrieved.  Before I share this week's entries, allow me to give honorable mention to a couple videos from those lost Family Surfing Nights.  You've probably seen them by now, but they bear repeating.

First, the AMAZING Dove soap commercial where women are drawn by a forensic artist, based on their own description of themselves.  I was hesitant to share this one, since FSN's are generally light hearted, but the kids were as touched by it as I was.  Watch this video.  And then remember:  you are so much more beautiful than you think!

And of course, the great debate over "sprinkling" or "raining" ... this video is quoted at least once a day at our house, STILL:

And then this one ... DANCE!  Dance like nobody's watching!!

And now, for your viewing pleasure, Family Surfing Night #14 ...

From Nathan, a fond blast from the past:

From Dan, a fishing trip gone ... well, just watch:

From Abbie, a charming Anime (the video begins to play a second time; when you see the credits in Chinese, it's over :o):

From Melissa, a montage of dance numbers from all the best movies you love:

From Ben, an edgy steam punk music video:

From Aaron, How to Beat a Monkey at Chess.  Because we need to know this:

And the winner is:  Abbie's whimsical entry - it will make you smile.  I wish I had a chair like that :o)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Freestanding Kitchen Island Part Two: Granite Stone Top

When we built our house a few years ago, I hadn't thought much about how I wanted the kitchen to work.  I was all about making sure the paint color glowed when the sun went down (it does) and taking advantage of every possible opportunity to add windows (mission accomplished).  About the only thing I was sure of for a new kitchen was that I wanted a walk in pantry and a long counter to use as a buffet.  I also knew I didn't want an island.

Alas, it's four years later and I wish I'd considered a built in island.  Maybe someday I'll master woodworking and put together a true do it yourself, but for now, a free standing island from is a perfect solution.  I introduced this piece of furniture to you }here{ and it's been a great work horse already, except for one problem:  the wood scratches easily.  I was expecting that issue, thanks to honest reviews on Amazon, and there was a plan to deal with it before I clicked confirm on the order.

Occasionally, daydreams about upgrading our countertops pop in my head, but for now, we'll settle with a stone top for the freestanding kitchen island.  I like that the island is black, but as a whole it's a bit dark.  I wanted an easy to clean, scratch resistant stone surface that would coordinate with the existing counters and cabinets.  You know how it is when something is on its way to you and you can see the dots connecting way before it was even on your radar?  I noticed the Jubilee Company showroom in Princeton, Texas, on the way into town months before we were even shopping for an island.  When we decided we would definitely want to resurface the island with a stone top, I knew right where to go.

The Jubilee Company showroom will have you dreaming of beautiful kitchen and bathroom projects the minute you step in the door. I explained to Dan, our customer service representative, what we were looking for and he walked me through the display area full of   b e a u t i f u l  stone slabs in every color and pattern your heart could desire.

I wanted something to brighten up the surface of the island and blend with the color of the cabinets.  When I first walked by the stone I ultimately chose, I said, "That's really pretty, but it's not what I'm looking for." Of course,when I went back one more time to admire it, I couldn't deny it was the one. I guess this is how it will be when it comes to the kitchen:  I think I know what I don't want, then it turns out to be what I want :o)

Dan let me take a small sample with me, which I was so happy to have, since I'm pretty sure I would have second guessed my choice once I got home.  I chose "Revolutions" - a natural slab granite, and also opted for a beveled edge to complement the island's bevel.

Our gorgeous 24x42 custom slab was ready in about two weeks.  Delivery was an option, but since it's a manageable size, we were able to go by the showroom and pick it up.  It's a solid 120+ pounds, and definitely required two very strong young men to carry it (thank you Nathan and Caleb!).  All they had to do was carry it into the house, lay it down on the the island, and we had instant kitchen bling!

Ordering a smallish piece of granite gave me some budgetary freedom to choose what appealed to me the most; if I'd been looking for countertops for the whole kitchen, this choice would have stretched the budget.  I did learn that stone is graded in levels, and the more spread out a pattern is, the higher the level (and more expensive) it is.  Jubilee Company has levels 1 to 7 on site in their showroom and can custom order up to level 10.  The piece I chose is a level 7.  I'm glad there were no level 10's anywhere close.

Having been without a kitchen island, we now appreciate how great it is to have a dedicated work surface right in the middle, especially when there's lots going on.  And having lived for a while with a work surface that scratched easily, we now appreciate how great it is to have a resilient granite top that is so, so pretty.

Here's our journey from no island at all, to freestanding wood top, to granite:

I have a new love for gorgeous stone and everywhere I look I'm wondering if I could add a stone top. It might have been more budget friendly just to go ahead and do those kitchen countertops ....

If you're considering a project that involves natural stone, 
check out the Jubilee Company website }here{ ... it's full of information and beautiful ideas!

I'm linking up with Thrifty Decor Chick's May Before and After Party 
click }here{ to see lots of fabulous transformations!

TDC Before and After

Friday, May 1, 2015

Quick and Healthy Microwave Breakfast

Hey, have you had breakfast yet?  Because if you haven't, I have the BEST little dish to share with you.  It meets my criteria for a favorite recipe:  fewer than five ingredients, super easy, takes less than five minutes to make, and it's delicious!

Here's what you need:

2 egg whites
3 tablespoons picante
8 ounces mozzerella cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon lowfat milk

Combine the egg whites, picante, crumbled mozzarella and milk in a microwavable bowl and stir until well blended.  Cook for three minutes in the microwave.  Stir one more time and let it cool for one minute.

That's it ... it isn't a show stopping gorgeous breakfast entre, but it's my go to choice almost every day because it's SO GOOD.  Sometimes if I really have things together, I mix it up the night before and leave it in the fridge so it's ready to pop in the microwave after my walk.  

This dish packs a great protein punch and will keep you feeling energetic and satiated for a long time.  I've found that eating this for breakfast instead of something carbohydrate heavy helps me avoid snacking in the evening.  That, my friends, is basically the same as telling you this dish performs miracles on a daily basis  :o)