Sunday, March 31, 2013


Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

To make

Lanie's favorite.

Chicken penne pasta.

Makes a double batch.

6 tbs butter
salt and pepper
1 box penne rigate (or whatever you have on hand--1 pound)
1 tsp olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs flour
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups milk
1 package white mushrooms, chopped (and your kids won't even know they're there)
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained (I use the whole bottle, don't know if its equivalent)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozarella
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Spray two shallow 2-quart baking dishes with cooking spray.

Cook pasta 3 minutes short of al-dente and return to pot.

In a large skillet, heat oil and season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook till opaque. Thinly slice. (I just pop mine in the oven for about 20 minutes. Then I don't have to clean a skillet.)

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and garlic. Cook one minute, whisking. Gradually add milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes. Cook one minute. Off heat, add mozarella and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Add chicken and pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Divide mixture between baking dishes and sprinkle each with 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.

Bake uncovered about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 mins before serving.

If freezing, cover with foil and freeze up to 3 months. To bake from frozen: 400 degrees, bake covered for 1 1/2 hours. Remove foil and bake additional 15 minutes.


Nate put his arm around Erin on the way in from the playground, like it was the most natural thing imaginable.

We won this cake at the co-op cake auction. The kids are thrilled. My hips, not so much.

Morning recess with friends. I love these kids.

Monday, March 25, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (3988-4012)

a fun afternoon playdate with Kellie and Jackie
a hot fire in the schoolroom
curtains to put up on a wall

my dad on Facebook
inbox messages from him
his "take care"
friends who pray peace over us
and pray for his heart procedure (today)

for worship that leaves me silent and tearful
a life sacrificed, that we may live
Your spirit in me
and that I'm never forsaken

running into friends at Chipotle
our kids' big smiles to see each other
Sage and Erin at church
real friendships that reach below the surface
for things that last

the last set of yellowy-sagey curtains at Home Goods
cookies at Wegmans
the woods alive with birdsong
a dining room reclaimed
party plans (birthdays in April, and a breakfast meeting with writers)

the last days of the brown season

Friday, March 22, 2013


We are minimalists in many respects, except pantry items, dishes and black beans (I always seem to think we're running low and then pick up a few cans to the point we're at a surplus).

We only put pictures up in our other house when we decided to try to "stage" it. But here is different--and I vowed I would put pictures up. My living room has some of my favorite pictures of the kids. And in the kitchen I have 5 things up on walls. Even in the bedrooms: pictures. The hallway: pictures.

But it's been a long time since I thought about curtains. At the other place, we framed the windows and rather liked the flood of natural light, even if that meant the neighborhood had a full screen view of us watching TV after 8 p.m.

I took the curtains off the living room windows here. They were a heavy country blue, and not that there was anything wrong with them, they just weren't my style. And mostly, I missed the light. Living in the woods is darker, cozier. I found myself craving light.

So I painted the living room a lighter color (Hush). And we're thinking of doing a light colored slipcover over our rusty colored couches. And I thought I might do a high-and-wide hang of curtains with a white roman shade like I'd seen on Pinterest.

I got some curtains today at Home Goods. I stuck them up on coat hangers and hung them off the window trim to try them on for size.

Within minutes, I felt like the room was closing in on me. I had to sit there a while to adjust to something up on the walls. I called a friend and laughed. Told her how Christmas or other decorations have the same effect. Claustrophobic.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


It's a Japanese word that simply means good change. It refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small, in the same sense as the English word improvement.

I virtually leafed through my posts on 66 Books. So many of those entries were the very real footprints of a Savior who walked alongside me during the biggest changes. Marks of God who gripped my heart and held it out for me to see.

I never want to forget that time.

I have a picture of our house hanging in the hallway. I wanted to get the Deuteronomy verse imprinted around the mat. And I told Shane why I want His Word nearby, why I want His Word around the picture of our house, written (on/under) our floors and on the wall studs--and my very heart.

I never want to forget what He has done.

I read through those posts with new vision, looking through a lens of after. From a distance from the sometime-struggle ... emotion swelled with thankfulness for His hand visible around me--my Refuge, my Strength, my Provider.

I feel so far from before.

A good change.


We had our first homeschool day yesterday in the new schoolroom. It's not finished-finished, but it's finished enough that I love it, and my books are lined up on shelves. Still some little things to take care of: like curtains, a rug, some wall art/maps (and a little loveseat would be dreamy). 

This is the room Shane hated most.

And here it is now. Erin said, "It looks like a new house!"


I don't know that anyone can appreciate the change as much as we can, because we walked through it. Renovations: hearth and heart. Although, Shane wrote to me, "It looks like the same color. We should have just left the paneling."

(He was kidding.)

Monday, March 18, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (3972-3987)

sweet blackberries
a haircut
and lunch with Kathy
long talks with a friend

monkey footie pajamas
time to complete tasks
books back on shelves
a cake plate gifted by Linda
an audiobook on whispers

and long drives to listen to it
a gift card from Lanie
a great message
and a friend who shows up unexpectedly by my side at church
David's new car

chicken for soup
a room nearly finished

Monday, March 11, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (3946-3971)

sunshine warming my back
fresh paint
kitchen visions
big water bottles
water races with the girls

a new grocery store
lower prices
the most delicious peanut-butter-with-white-chocolate spread
big spoons
a Friday night date with a sister

freedom from condemnation
peace. oh, peace.
excitement over a new friendship that runs deep already
a new day
hot cross buns, gifted, for breakfast

hugs in a cold, night parking lot
a glass of sangria waiting for me
hush and frappe on the walls
music in the house
homeschooling my kids

love, to give away
my hound dog
spring temps
a sunny day
a morning chat with my neighbor

that she said she'd pray for me

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hunting the cat

Nella is not a good tracker, that's for sure. The times she ran off, the rescue coordinator told us to walk in the woods to leave our scent and she'd find her way back. We eventually did get her back, but not because she found her way.

She loves rawhide bones. She became rather possessive of one when we first gave it to her. David taught us about not letting her get territorial over anything. The bone was such an obsession for her, we'd have to take it away so she'd get a good night's sleep. Otherwise, she'd have stayed up hours gnawing on it. It took her three days to realize we had only placed it three feet (out of sight) from her crate.

Definitely not a tracker.

Lately her attitude towards our cat has changed. In the beginning, she totally submitted to the cat. Wouldn't even look her way. But now she circles after Rudy like a canine shadow, inches away. She waits for the cat in a tense posture. And more and more, as Rudy approaches, Nella crouches low like a spring about to release.

Looks like her hunting instinct is returning.

Today, Rudy walked past and Nella sprang at her with mouth open. Perhaps she just wanted to play. Made me think of the cartoons when I was a kid where the predator would imagine the prey in a roasting pan all cooked up.

I hope that's all it is, play. Wouldn't want this to be the year the cat gets eaten.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


After nine and we're clearing out of Panera from discussing chapter 16 in an Elizabeth George study. One mom heads off to Walmart for diapers. The rest of us linger a bit outside the storefront and chat. Two of us head to our cars in the same aisle. We're both hoping for school closures. I think of the two gallons of paint sitting in my living room and how I want to wrap up inside jobs.

Spent yesterday outside, draining the pool a bit in anticipation of snow. Short-sleeve shirt on. Kids running around ringing the captain's bell and playing outside. I watched baby hawks leaving their nests and listened as they practiced their screetch.

My hands still ached from the weekend's garden prep of raking and hauling. The morning spent shelving books that had occupied the dining room floor for two months.

"It's hard to believe it's going to snow," I said to my friend.

"Oh, it's coming," she said. "You can't see the stars."

I looked up and there was cloud cover.

"And, listen, it's so quiet," she mentioned.

"Because everyone's at home with their milk and toilet paper?" I joked. Cars driving past on the road.

"No, because the clouds quiet everything," she said.

I never thought of it that way.

The drive home and I'm singing and thinking of driveway snow shoveling years ago, and coffee with Chrisi and her mom.

Today, a date with Benjamin Moore's Hush in matte.

Happy for milk in my coffee, and the impulse purchase of Hazelnut coffee pods.

On, on.

Monday, March 4, 2013

One thousand gifts and still counting (3923-3945)

for prompts to clear a schedule
and the many ways you filled it
confirmation by Jen and Jackie

a chopped salad
and a big reminder
winter coats on sale for my girls
a muck rake in the pool shed
sticks to pick up with Erin

opportunities to serve
for ways to be helpful
hugs from Karen and Ceal
a note in my inbox from Erica
a call from Kathi

and new friends in Diona and Greg
a full day in kindergarten
invitations to prepare
and Shane's yes to getting to know a community

that I'm always your girl
for your care to feed me: physically and spiritually
and encouragement to run my race
a shopping day with Amy
the difference here makes

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Lord's salad

A meeting. A chopped salad. A near-death experience. A feast.

I went to a meeting at church last week. It was a lunch meeting, and lunch was provided. At first, I felt guilty eating the salad. This salad, paid for by tithes for God's kingdom--how is it I should be there eating it? I felt like there were much nobler causes out there than me.

During the meeting, I learned of an acquaintance's near death experience--someone younger, and in so many respects, much healthier than I. I looked down at the salad, and my stomach lurched.

After the meeting, I packed up the remaining half of my lunch, and drove home. I thought long on what I'd heard that day, and I looked down at the food--paid for by God. The life implications hit hard.

I opened that container and finished up the salad, every last veggie in it. I gobbled it, in fact, forkful after forkful. I would not waste it. I feasted upon what God had given me.

If I had brought my own lunch, who knows if I would have thought on things the way I did. This life, my salvation, the gifts from a heavenly Father--how could I waste any of that?

How can some days just seem like routine and not the vibrant opportunity to be changed? Or to be the change?

Everything is a gift, and I don't want to be wasteful. Not with material things. Not with time. Not with people. Not with opportunity. This life is brief and meant to be gobbled up enthusiastically.

Thanks, God. Thanks for provision, and reminders of how to live and who I'm living for, and that you see me still--when I feel invisible, you remind me I'm not, and that I'm yours.