Indoor Herb Garden

Fall is, hands down, my favorite of all seasons. Bundling up in cooler temperatures, crunching through fallen leaves, and cooking warm comfort foods are among my most treasured fall traditions. 

The one thing I don’t look forward to, however, is the end of my summer herb garden. Cooking with fresh herbs is life-changing to those who love to cook. Seriously. So what’s a cooking geek to do all winter in Iowa?! 

Apparently Pinterest is full of ideas, and so this morning I pulled of a Pinterest project. Prepare to enter into the worst tutorial ever. I had high hopes of documenting this little project, but between crying baby and needy preschooler, that didn’t happen. ūüėČ

I combined some blue canning jars I had on hand (because I’m completely obsessed with blue canning jars and snatch them up whenever I can!) with some garden supplies from WalMart. The result: my first ever little indoor herb garden. 

 Per Pinterest advice, I placed river Rock at the bottom of the jars to help with drainage. I then covered the gravel with a small piece of coffee filter I’d cut to fit inside the jar. This will hopefully help the dirt on top to not mix in with the gravel and look yucky. 

Then simply fill the jar with potting soil, and finally with your herbs. Easy peasy. 

I planted 1 jar of Rosemary and 2 jars of Parsley, and placed them on this cute wire shelf I got for $1 at a garage sale. This window gets great afternoon sun, so I’m hoping these herbs will be happy here! 

This space is among my favorites to sit and drool over my vast cookbook collection. I’ve got cookbooks tucked into nooks & crannies all over our house! Maybe the scent of fresh herbs will inspire my cooking adventures this winter?! 

Basil got a larger container and its own special spot by the bay window because I love basil! Hoping it’ll produce gorgeous green leaves all winter! 

I’m already dreaming up my winter menu!!

How about you, friends? Any tips for growing herbs indoors? I’ve never been blessed with a proverbial “green thumb,” so it’ll be interesting to see how this turns out! 

Dream Big

I’m not sure when it happened, or exactly why or how it happened. I’ve realized lately that my¬†Type-A and extremely rational personality has morphed into a more chill and visionary persona.¬†For instance….

*Our family had ice cream for dinner on Saturday, after a fun afternoon at the swimming pool. After everyone was showered and snuggled into pajamas, we topped off our ice cream dinner with popcorn and cheese/crackers while watching a movie. Several years ago I’d have bemoaned that choice, fretting that my kids hadn’t gotten the nutrients they needed for dinner that night.

Silly me…how could I have ever been so ridiculous?! Everyone giggled and had a great time, our bellies contained more food than a vast majority of the world’s population, and I didn’t have to do the dishes. A great situation, no?
ice cream

*My husband is leaving for a European mission trip in less than one month. Several years ago, when he shared with me his desire for mission work, I was a less-than-supportive-wife (okay, fine…I was downright rude about his vision). My rational side came up with every reason under the sun why such a trip was not a good idea at this time in our lives.

Again, ridiculous. Today? I’m excitedly making phone calls to line up all of the details for this amazing opportunity, and we’re purchasing plane tickets for the trip tomorrow!

*All three of my kids have recently shown an interest in learning about Paris, France. I’m honestly not sure where this interest came from, but I’ve loved it as I’ve always wanted to go to Paris! They’ve checked out books at the local library about Paris, and they have fun spotting anything French in stores, specifically anything with the Eiffel Tower. They keep asking if we can go to Paris someday. The old me would have given them every reason why that will most likely never happen….after all, I’d have said, your mommy is 32 and has never even stepped foot on an airplane. Dream squasher right here, folks.

The new me¬†decided to dream big. We ran across a really cool Paris plate at a local thrift shop, and paired it with some other items we had at home. Together, we’ve created a family “Paris fund.” We’ve dropped in lots of coins, and a good chunk of change the kids earned at a lemonade stand they had last week. Over the years, we’ll continue to dream big and save for the day when we’ll all board a plane for Paris.¬†Even if they have to push me around in a wheelchair when I’m old and grey, we’ll go. Someday.

Maybe I’m learning that life is too short to be too serious about it. Certainly there is a place for rational thoughts and actions, but I’m learning to balance those rational ways with dream-filled ways. I have other dreams that are beginning to surface, and I’m excited to explore those. (My mother will not be happy to learn that one of those dreams involves a tattoo on my wrist…sorry mom! But that’s another blog post entirely!) :-)

God, in His own creative and loving way, created each of us with unique personalities and dreams. We were made for His glory and His honor, and I’m learning that He accomplishes that in some very clever ways. We just have to be willing¬†to follow those ways.

Join me? Let’s train ourselves to think outside of the box a little more often. To take the time to explore our dreams and visions, and be willing to take that first step in making them a reality. There’s an awful lot of hurt and destruction happening in the world around us…may we be people willing to see the beauty amidst the ashes. May we open our hearts to the things God has dreamed for us, and make HIS dreams OUR dreams. Buckle your seat belts…it could be a wild ride!

Long Overdue

I am sitting at my desk, a steaming mug of coffee in front of me, and it feels so very good to write again! I has been five months since I’ve written a blog post, and a lot has happened in five months.

A while¬†ago a well-meaning (but very misinformed) individual approached me, attacking both my character and my intentions, using my blog as “proof” that I had misaligned priorities. Our conversation was a difficult one, and I left feeling discouraged. While I knew that this person was wrong in their assumptions, I struggled to find my voice again through my words. For some, that sounds silly. But to someone who adores words and finds great joy in writing, it was heartbreaking.

Yesterday, a friend stopped over for coffee, and I was overwhelmed with her kindness through her words. She had absolutely no idea that the preceding incident had happened, and yet she spoke directly to it. She shared with me how my writing had encouraged her over time, and admonished me to continue along the path I was on. I was overjoyed and so very encouraged!

And so today…I’m trying to find that voice again through writing. I’m realizing the power of words, both to help and to harm. The old adage “stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”…so very far from the truth. May we all use our words today to encourage and build each other up!

So, is anyone still out there reading my blog?! I could write about so many things that have happened. I could write about…

*how my husband is leaving in October for a missions trip to Europe.

*how we hosted a bake-sale fundraiser to send him to Europe, and were completely blown away by how God provided!

*how I am absolutely in love with my new little niece, Brooklyn. And how I’m so anxious to meet my new nephew coming in September. Our family is growing!

*how a family member generously gave us a new appliance that we needed, and inadvertently probably saved our house from a fire. Yikes!

*how summer with my three munchkins is FLYING by, and we’re having so much fun!

Those are all stories I’ll share more in detail in the future, and I hope you’ll come back to read more about them. For today, I’m stealing this idea from another blogger…..


Tanner and I recently discovered the “Alias” series on good ‘ol Netflix. Oh my! We are binge-watching episodes late into the evening after the kids are tucked into bed. It’s one of those shows that always leaves you hanging at the end of an episode, and so naturally we have to continue to the next episode to find out what happens. It’s an intense show, and probably raises my blood pressure each time we watch it! The main character is a double agent, and watching this show is making me want to buy a punching bag and take self-defense courses. It’s bringing out my inner fighter I guess?! :-)


I haven’t had much time to read this summer. Hmmmm…maybe because we’re watching Alias during our free time in the evenings?! Anyway, I am slowly making my way through Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It’s making me think twice before menu planning and purchasing my groceries, and making me wish that I had the space and knowledge to have a large garden to grow some of our own food. And, it’s reiterating to me why I absolutely love to cook for and nourish my family through our daily meals together.


I’ve recently discovered Ben Rector on YouTube, and I’m loving his style of music. My favorite time to listen to music is while I cook dinner in the evenings, and my go-to for that is always Michael Buble. Always.


We’ve had a few summer projects going on around here, with our biggest one yet to come. Our back deck is in major need of repair, and we’re hoping to re-do that yet this summer. We have zero shade in our back yard, which makes our deck difficult to use because it’s so stinkin’ hot. So we’re trying to figure out a thrifty way to build a pergola or shade structure of some sort. Stay tuned for updates on that!


Fit. Sort-of?! This summer I began something I never imagined I’d do…I started taking a yoga class. Three mornings a week, I’m at my yoga instructor’s house by 5:50 to begin our class at 6AM. While I really hate getting up that early in the summertime, I’m loving the flexibility and strength I’m feeling from this class. I have so far yet to go in my journey to fitness, but it’s a step in the right direction.


There is a lot of planning that needs to take place in order to get Tanner ready for his trip to Europe in October. It’s a bit overwhelming for us, as I have NEVER stepped foot onto an airplane, and the last time Tanner flew was in high school to Florida. A bit different than Europe?!

We’re also planning some fun things to do over the next two weeks, as Tanner has taken some vacation time from work. He has never, in our 12 years together, taken 2 weeks of vacation at a time, and so we’re a bit excited for it! We wish we had the financial resources to actually go on a vacation, but we’re content for now to just spend the time together doing “staycation” stuff. What are your favorite things to do on a staycation??


My family. Let’s be honest…there are days that staying home with three kids can seem overwhelming and sometimes monotonous. There are days I want to lock myself in the bathroom for a few moments of quiet. But, all in all…I love it! The ups, the downs, the good, the bad. It’s my job, my passion, and my life. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Recipe Sharing

Thank you to everyone who watched our “table video” from my last post!! What an incredibly encouraging response we got! It’s cold and windy here today, but I’m staying warm and enjoying some meals around that very table I blogged about last week. Thought you all might enjoy these recipes, as well! The first comes from a cookbook I heard about a while ago. “The Yellow Table” is a beautiful cookbook, written from a gal with the same passion I have for life around the table. She self-published a limited number of this cookbook, and immediately sold out. I was able to snag one from a third-party seller on Amazon for $25. Glad I found it when I did…the only 2 copies now on Amazon are selling for $100 and $7,000!!!! Say whaaaaat!?!?

IMG_3080-0.JPG I love everything about this cookbook, and the individual baked oatmeal bowls I made this morning were fabulous! Here’s a photo of my yummy breakfast this morning.

IMG_3078.JPG The recipe can be found at the author’s blog. Enjoy her blog!! Baked Oatmeal Recipe For lunch lately, I’ve been eating this somewhat odd recipe I concocted. It’s filling, healthy, and has TONS of flavor!

IMG_3079.JPG I start by warming some olive oil or avocado oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. I add a large handful of broccoli-slaw (can be purchased in the bagged salad section of the grocery store. It’s shredded carrots, broccoli, and cabbage). I saut√© that for a bit, and then add already cooked & shredded chicken, salt & pepper, chopped pecans, diced apples, and a few dried cranberries. Once it’s all warmed through, I add a slash of balsamic vinegar and cook for a minute longer. Then I slide it all onto a plate, and top it with some crumbled goat cheese. It’s so good! The flavor combination might not suite everyone’s tastes, but it makes my taste buds pretty happy! :) I hope you’re all well! I love hearing from you, so feel free to comment on my blog or the Facebook link to my blog…let me know what recipes you’re loving lately! Blessings to you!

A Story and a Video

Today is a day of “firsts” on my blog, and I couldn’t be more excited!

If you’ve seen¬†any of my recent posts, you’ve probably read that we recently revamped our home in order to house a really large dining room table. But what I haven’t shared with you is the entire story behind our new table, and the reasoning behind this venture. So today, for the first time, I’m going to share my heart with you.

Rather than write out the entire story, I asked¬†my very talented husband to create a video story to share with you. We’re both pretty exited about this‚Ķit combines his passion for video editing and storytelling with my passion for cooking and hospitality, and we think they meshed together pretty well. :-) I’m so proud of him for all of his hard work over the past few years to teach himself how to film and edit video. What a unique¬†and powerful way to tell a story!

I want to say a HUGE thank you to the gentleman who built this amazing table for us. I hope he’s reading this! :-) Your work on this table, and your willingness to do it for us has already impacted lives‚Ķand we pray it will continue to do so for many, many years. We can’t thank you enough. Thank you to everyone who helped with this venture…my dad for the use of his van to haul this huge table¬†home, and my brother for his help in strategically getting it in the house. We couldn’t have done it without you!

And the frugal side of me just has to share that when all was said and done, this entire room project cost us under $50. We sold our old table to purchase the materials for the new one, and we sold some of the old decorations from the living room as we no longer needed those in the dining room. This was a HUGE answer to prayer, as some recent financial tightness almost kept us from doing this project. I’m so happy we plowed our way through, and that everything worked out so well! Praise be to God!

Enjoy my very first video blog entry! I pray that my story might encourage your hearts!!

Blessings, friends!!!!

Thrifty Kitchen

I love food. And cooking. And baking. There…I said it.

For years, I’ve loved to cook, bake, and eat the food I make while gathered around the table with friends and family. But I’ve felt weird saying that I love it. You see, I’m not exactly the smallest woman in the world, and I’ve been afraid that admitting I love all things kitchen-related would cause others to think things along the line of, “You may want to avoid that scrumptious muffin you just baked, and opt for an apple instead.;-)

But you know what? Life is short. Way too short to worry about whether or not I should enjoy a muffin or an apple. (As a side note, I do care about my health, and I do try to keep things in check. But really, who doesn’t love a homemade goodie?!)

I sorta kinda love my kitchen. It’s my domain, and I feel most at home when I’m working away in there. I love to drool over Williams Sonoma and Sur La Table catalogs, and dream of what my kitchen could look like. But then I wake up from that dreamland and realize that unless I win the lottery (which would also mean I’d have to actually purchase a ticket!), I’ll never afford the items in those catalogs.

I was re-arranging some items in my kitchen yesterday, and it occurred to me how thankful I am for stores/venues on the opposite spectrum of the fancy kitchen stores. Goodwill, Salvation Army, garage sales, and SOR (side-of-road)…they’ve proven extremely helpful in outfitting my kitchen. It was fun to do a mental run-through of the items in my kitchen, and how many of them came from unexpected places.

I¬†thought I’d share some photos today of some of my favorite parts of our kitchen. All of these areas were made possible by extremely cheap thrifting and a little creativity. I hope the photos inspire you to look beyond what most people would consider “normal” (catalog/big-box store shopping), and think outside of the box a bit. You may be surprised by what you can come up with!


All of these “goodies” sit atop my refrigerator. I used two old wooden crates (compliments of SOR) to create a fun way to display some vintage kitchen items (from Goodwill) and to hold some of the spices I use on a regular basis. The glass jar on the right holds the protein powder I use in our smoothies, and looks so much more fun than the big plastic bag that it comes in.


There are a handful of spices that I use Because I use them so often, I like to have them on the counter. I found these vintage canning jars at a garage sale last summer for 50 cents each! I washed them well, filled them with spices, and placed them in this adorable blue enameled dish I also scored at a garage sale. They sit right next to the cooking oils I use most every day, and I love that it looks fun while at the same time being extremely useful.


This is hands-down my favorite part of my kitchen. I found this unique solid-wood shelf on the side of the road a few months back, and it works perfectly to house my cookbooks. I have a bit of an obsession with collecting cookbooks! I love that this little corner of the kitchen holds things so near and dear to my heart…the aprons hanging on the door were made by a dear friend from my late-grandfather’s shirts. The wall hanging above the shelf contains my great-grandmother’s handwritten recipes, and the shelf holds some really OLD cookbooks I’ve gathered at antique stores and garage sales.


Coffee….a definite staple in the Archer household. This little cupboard above the coffee-maker holds my favorite coffee mugs/saucers that I eyed at a local consignment shop for MONTHS until they were finally marked down to 70 cents per set. There’s another one of those little canning jars from the garage sale, and it holds the brown sugar I like to sprinkle in my latte in the morning. The honey jar to the left was a gift to me for hosting a party, and I use it every single morning and think of how fun that party was! The little wooden box behind the brown sugar holds some coffee flavorings, and was found in a pile of wood headed toward the garbage. It’s a super old shipping box for a pencil sharpener. It’s adorable, and I love it! Total cost of this cupboard…probably less than $5.


A couple years ago, we ripped the doors off of our pantry and created an open-pantry. I loved the idea of being able to see the pretty things in our kitchen, and hide all of the other not-so-pretty things inside of the closed cupboards. I prefer to use white dishes, and every single white dish you see in this pantry came from a thrift store. They don’t all match, but that’s part of the beauty of it. It took several trips to various thrift stores to complete my dish collection, but for probably less than $20, I have a whole host of white dishes to use for every-day use as well as larger get-togethers.


This little jar sits on that cookbook shelf that I love so much. It’s filled with tiny spools of baker’s twine (I use the twine for tying together fresh herbs in sauces, or for adding pretty little touches to the baked goods I wrap up). The jar was 50 cents at a garage sale, and the baker’s twine came from Dollar Tree. I don’t know why, but I just love this cute little addition to my kitchen!

I hope you enjoyed that little walk-through my thrifted kitchen. :-) While someday I really would love to be able to purchase something from one of those beautiful kitchen stores, I’m pretty content with my little thrifted kitchen. Maybe someday I’ll happen upon some items from Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table…you never know what you’ll find when you’re on the hunt! :-)

Blessings to you today, friends! Enjoy your weekend!

Oh, and stay tuned for a “first” on my blog…Tanner and I have been working on a video story about our new dining room. He’s doing a fantastic job editing this video, and I hope it will explain my heart a little bit more as to why I love to cook, bake, and open our home to anyone who wants to join us around our table. It might be a while yet before it’s finished, but I can’t wait to share it with you!


Have I forgotten that I have this thing called a “blog?!” Good gracious, things have been busy around here lately!

We’ve had our fair share of both exciting/happy situations¬†and¬†difficult/stressful ones‚Ķas I’m sure each and every person reading this could say, as well. God has shown Himself faithful over the last few crazy months as we’ve dealt with financial stresses, some disappointing news, sickness that comes along with having a family, and¬†attending a loved one’s funeral while preparing our hearts for another one that appears to be imminent.

While standing grave-side this past weekend at Tanner’s grandmother’s funeral, I¬†thanked God for the very powerful reminder that life is short. There are days that seem long. Seasons that seem like they’ll never improve. I’m slowly realizing the truth in what¬†my mom often says‚Ķthe days are often long, but the years are short. Last weekend, as everyone gathered ’round this precious woman’s casket, the previously clouded sky gave way to sunshine for the first time that foggy day. And I couldn’t help but recognize what a gift that ray of sunshine was. A visual reminder that even¬†amidst sadness and death, God’s love still shines through the darkness, warming our hearts like a ray of sunshine warms our faces.

If you know me well, you know that I love to read. Books are like medicine for my heart and soul. Tanner just asked me last week what my long-term plan is for storing all of the books that accumulate in this house. We laughed and said we may need re-enforced floor beams to house them all! My book wish-list grows longer each week, and it’s been such a treat to find some of the same books at thrift stores that were on my Amazon wish-list. I’ve picked up several for just a few cents lately! I thought I’d share with you a few of the books I’m reading now. I’d love to hear what you’re reading!

Redefine Rich (A New Perspective on the Good Life) by Matt Ham
This book does not actually release until later next week. However, I “happened” upon the author’s blog a few months ago and fell in love with his philosophy of life. I pre-ordered the book, which included immediate access to the Kindle version. I’m not much of a Kindle reader (I prefer an actual paper book!), but what I’ve read so far has been spot-on and deeply encouraging.

What actually spurred the purchase of this book was recent conversations with my 7-year old. She’s been asking lots of questions that we’ve not dealt with in our parenting adventure thus far. Questions like, “Why do lots of people have big houses? I want a big house‚Ķcan we get a big house?” “Lots of kids from school are going on vacation for Christmas break. Why haven’t we ever gone on a vacation?” “That’s a really pretty house (while driving around to look at Christmas lights). Are they rich?”¬†¬†In an effort to guide our children correctly through some of those tough questions, I’m excited to read this author’s thoughts. And to be completely honest, I need this more than my children do‚Ķbecause sometimes those questions creep into my heart, as well.

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma
This book caught my eye at a Scholastic warehouse sale last week. I’m only a few chapters into it, but I love it so far! In a nutshell, Alice’s book-loving father made a promise to read aloud to her every day for at least 100 days. They loved it so much that 100 days turned into 1,000 days, which turned into over 9 years of reading aloud together. Every.Single.Night. And that makes my heart smile! What a legacy! Something magical happens through the reading of books as well as time spent together with loved ones. I can’t wait to implement some of her strategies into our home!

Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford
This author writes a very interesting journal-type book about her journey to living a life free of distractions. Again, I’m not very far along in this book either, but so far I’ve enjoyed (and been extremely convicted about) her thoughts about¬†the distracted lives we often live. It’s been good to examine my priorities and learn to savor life more than simply rush through it.

An Everlasting Meal (Cooking With Economy and Grace) by Tamar Adler
This book has gotten rave reviews from “foodie” type personalities. While it’s definitely not exactly what I thought it would be, I’m enjoying the practical tips she shares about being graceful and frugal in the kitchen. Written by a very prominent chef, I love that she’s very down to earth and recognizes the beauty in simplicity. I walk away from it feeling ready to conquer my kitchen!

How about you, friend?? Do you like to read as much as I do? I’d LOVE to hear some of your all-time favorite reads, or which books are on your nightstand right now. Feel free to comment on here, or comment on the blog link on Facebook. I might add your favorites to my wish-list!

The Real Life Amelia Bedelia

My 7-year old has recently discovered a love for Amelia Bedelia books. And I must admit that my love for these classics has been rekindled as I’ve read them aloud¬†each evening before tucking Nadia into bed. Just the other day, a thought struck me‚ĶI am fairly certain that I’m a modern-day, real-life Amelia Bedelia. In fact, maybe I could write a series of books entitled Emily Bemily.¬†¬†Much like the encounters of Amelia Bedelia, my books would narrate the ever-crazy, often upside-down feelings and daily happenings around this household.


Do you remember these classic stories? Poor Amelia Bedelia can’t seem to do anything correctly.¬†She takes everything extremely literally, and messes up everything. Everything. And yet, while nothing goes exactly as one would hope, she trudges through with a smile and ends each day by baking or cooking something amazing. Her love for cooking and her skills in the kitchen remain a constant in her crazy life, and she always, always shares her love of cooking with those around her.


I’m feeling a lot like Amelia Bedelia these days. Many things in life over the last few months have gone awry. One would think I’m retelling a fictional story here, but rest assured this is an actual account of life around the Archer household. Non-fiction.

*The south wall of our basement foundation is cracked and bowing. Another wall leaks water badly and needs waterproofed. Our sump-pump is falling apart and needs replaced. This all needs to be fixed before the dead of winter, when freezing temperatures would only exasperate this problem. The total price quoted for this made me cry. Like a baby. In front of the repairman.

*Nadia broke her arm in gymnastics class a month ago.

*Our beautiful hardwood flooring, installed less than three years ago, has a gigantic bubble in one area and is beginning to make the floorboards bow and bend. Numerous phone calls to the flooring company and warranty centers reveal they will do nothing to fix the problem. Fantastic.

*Last week, on a particularly stressful day, I got stung by a bee. Our main sewer line was clogged, and we paid a pretty penny to have it cleared/cleaned. Several hours later I mis-judged the amount of space I had to back out of our garage, and side-swiped my in-laws vehicle, scratching it. Awesome.

*While clearing space for the basement work we need next moth, I discovered another wall that’s cracked and bowing. Unbelievable. Now, the total cost for fixing our basement could have purchased us the new vehicle that we’ve been¬†needing and praying about for a couple of years.

*A visit to a specialist revealed immediate need for surgery on Nadia’s broken arm. The first doctor messed up her arm so badly, and she had surgery yesterday that resulted in pins inserted into the bones. Six weeks in a new cast, and probable weeks of physical therapy to follow.

*My grandmother also broke her arm, and was admitted into a nursing home. Tanner’s grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and likely has only weeks to live. I’ve cried alongside loved ones as they’ve received heartbreaking news of another miscarriage. This is heavy on our hearts. Life is short.

*Several weeks ago, I blogged about our dining room/living room swap. We started this entire thing so that we could be more hospitable to our friends, family, and anyone else who was needing some love and hospitality. I’ve had a savings account for a while, saving any money I make from selling bread or swap site items. The money was set aside to purchase a large dining table¬†that would seat those we open our home to. This money will now be spent on a basement that’s apparently falling apart.


I tell you all this not to whine like a baby about it. Quite the opposite, in fact. Tanner and I have realized that in an attempt to live a life that counts for eternity and is honoring to God, there will be hurdles to overcome.¬†The aforementioned happenings are difficult, yes. But they are distractions. It’s our choice whether we let these distractions take us away from the bigger picture, the most important things. And we have decided that we will not give into the distractions. While it’s maybe temping to close the door to our home and to our hearts, and sulk in our overwhelmedness (is that even a word!?), we will not. Much like Amelia Bedelia, I’ll break out my kitchen gear and cook/bake for anyone who wants to enter our front door. Maybe that’s one thing I can count on to turn out well?! It might not be fancy, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s my heart, and I want to share it with others. As our Pastor said in his sermon on hospitality last week‚Ķhospitality begins in the heart. And I’d add to that a thought that’s been on my heart for years‚Ķhospitality has nothing to do with the size of your home, but everything to do with the size of your heart. All of these distractions lately‚ĶI’m praying that they’ll only enlarge my heart for this important ministry of hospitality.

I’m fairly sure that Amelia Bedelia would feel the same way.

In this edition of Emily Bemily, I picture our family playing Red-Rover. In this childhood game there are often teammates that you’d like on your team, and teammates you’d rather have on the other team. Right now, I’d rather not have some of our life’s teammates that have broken our family’s grip as we’ve held onto each other tightly. But those teammates are now playing along with us, and we’ll just grip tighter. We’ll play the game as best as we can, and pray that in the end the Ultimate Coach of our team will be glorified.

red rover

Maybe I could encourage you, as well? What distractions in your life are trying to take you away from what you’re called to do? Let’s band together and refuse to let life’s distractions steal our joy and our purpose. God has big things planned‚Ķlet’s watch Him work! Blessings today, dear friends!!


Room Swap

If you know me well, you know that I have a passion for all things decorating, cooking, and hospitality. Today’s post is about all three of those things.

When we purchased our home, we were beyond excited that it had a dining room. We’d never had an actual dining room!¬†While we have loved our dining room, it has begun to feel cramped as our family has grown. Yet, I’ve loved nothing more than squeezing people around the table, loving them through a good ol’ fashioned home-cooked meal.


The idea is to be able to seat 10 people at this table, but that is MAXED out. We were all a little squished at this particular dinner party.

But lately, I’ve found myself wishing for more, to the point of being discontent. We know several people in various stages of home-building. Looking at blueprints¬†and walking through partially-built homes of people we love‚ĶI’ve felt excitement for them, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also feel the pull of discontentment. I began to say “if only” a lot more than I used to. “If only I had a bigger dining room, we could host larger get-togethers.” “If only I had a double oven like they do, I could cook amazing meals for my friends and family.” “If only we had a room that could house a huge table‚Ķthen everyone could sit together at the table.”¬†Slowly but surely, these “if onlys” began to steal away the joy of hospitality, and that began to break my heart.

And so I started to think outside of the box a bit, while at the same time speaking the truth I knew I believed deep down. The truth that hospitality has nothing to do with the size of my house, but everything to do with the size of my heart. That I don’t invite people into my home to be entertained (I hate the word “entertaining.”) I invite others into my home to be loved, cared for, listened to, and fed‚Ķand I can do that no matter what the size of my dining room. In the words of my favorite author, Shauna Niequist, “What makes me feel alive and connected…is creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table. I believe it’s the way I was made, and I believe it matters.”¬†A little soul-searching was good for me, and if nothing else it re-ignited a flame within my heart to use our home to show love to those around us.


After I’d settled my discontentment in my heart, and vowed to be hospitable even in a cramped dining room, an idea literally struck like lightning one evening. It sounded crazy, even in my own head, but I voiced it out loud…and found that it sounded just as crazy aloud. Who on earth says that the dining room has to be the dining room, and the living room has to be the living room? Why not switch them around?!¬†Bless my dear loving husband, he listened (even though the look on his face was one of major skepticism). And after a few days, he was actually open to the idea! I shared my idea with a few family members and friends, most of whom gave me the same odd look…I think they’re all a bit worried about my sanity! But we ran with the idea, and switched them around anyway. We figured we might as well try, and we were up for a good challenge. After all, the dining room could serve as a cozy little sitting room, and the living room (which we’ve forever had a hard time arranging because of it’s long narrow build) could house a really awesome harvest-style table someday. Doesn’t it often seem that when people are together, they tend to gather around the table anyway? It’s that way at my house, so why not use the larger room for a larger table?

Two weeks ago, while the kids played with some neighbor kids, Tanner and I played musical furniture all around our house. The couches moved to the basement, the table moved to the living room, and every decoration I owned found a new place within our home. I literally shopped our own house, and transformed our main level.¬†The only thing I’ve purchased so far is the beautiful antique rocking chair that sits in the corner of our cozy little sitting room. A sweet older woman sold it to me for $30…it’s over 100 years old, and her husband completely refurbished it. I think it’s beautiful!

So, for a grand total of $30…here are our two new rooms. We’re trying it like this for a while to see how we like it, but so far we love it! Long-term, if we keep it this way, we’ll save our pennies for a HUGE harvest-style table that would seat 14 or more people. We’ve already got our feelers out there, and a few very generous people have offered their time and talent to help us build a table this large, as they’re really hard to find already made without spending more than what this room is worth! :-)



I love that you can finally see the beautiful bench that has sat behind our dining table for years! This bench is from an old one-room schoolhouse, and has a date of 1897 stamped on the cast iron legs. I love it! And, it’s hard to see in the photo, but we’ve put a comfy leather chair on the right-hand side of the room.


My writing desk fits perfectly in the corner!

My writing desk fits perfectly in the corner!




I literally took apart the corner cabinet in our former dining room, in order to use the top half in conjunction with our fireplace. Definitely outside-of-the-box-thinking, but I love how it turned out. And, I love that it cost $0!

I literally took apart the corner cabinet in our former dining room, in order to use the top half in conjunction with our fireplace. Definitely outside-of-the-box-thinking, but I love how it turned out. And, I love that it cost $0!

This little shelf was built years ago by my grandfather. It's built from the very first headboard my grandma and grandpa ever had. I wish he were here to see how I've used it in our dining room!  The baskets that hold the white dishes cost me nothing! They are actually the plastic white baskets that came with our deep freezer, and I spray painted them to look like antique baskets.

This little shelf was built years ago by my grandfather. It’s built from the very first headboard my grandma and grandpa ever had. I wish he were here to see how I’ve used it in our dining room!
The baskets that hold the white dishes cost me nothing! They are actually the plastic white baskets that came with our deep freezer, and I spray painted them to look like antique baskets.

This little bench was $5 at a garage sale several years ago. It's been outside for a long time, but with a fresh coat of spray paint and some's a great little window seat.

This little bench was $5 at a garage sale several years ago. It’s been outside for a long time, but with a fresh coat of spray paint and some distressing…it’s a great little window seat.

We host our first get-together in our new rooms tomorrow evening, as we are beginning our church small group Bible studies. We’ll add some card tables to the end of our current table so there’s enough room, but I cannot wait to have every adult gathered around the same table eating goodies, drinking coffee, sharing hearts, and watching God work in lives. I have a feeling that this room will host many get-togethers like this, and that excites me!

I’m quite certain you have your own opinion about our¬†swapping of rooms, and I’d love to hear them! Some of you may love the idea, and others may hate it. Some¬†of you might roll your eyes at another one of my crazy ideas, and that’s okay. Really. I, for one, believe a little bit of crazy in my life is good for me. And maybe, just maybe, we all need to be a little more willing to be crazy every now and then? Maybe crazy isn’t as bad as we make it out to be? ;-)

Blessings to you today, dear reader!! And maybe someday, you’ll join me around the table? I’d love that!


Grace Upon Grace

Hello friends! I hope this post finds you all well. I want to share with you my newest project, completed just this morning. But first, a story…the background behind this new addition to my family room. 

I awoke Sunday morning to the smell of sewer gas in our main floor bathroom. I’d love to say that I calmly thought through the situation, but that would be a lie. I freaked out. Not only because of the sewer gas smell, although it was quite bad, but because I was not sure I could handle one more home repair.¬†Everyone (including myself) talks about “seasons” of life. Well, our “season” lately has been the season of everything-is-breaking-and-costing-so-much-more-money-than-we-have. I really felt like I was holding it all together okay, until Sunday. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.¬†

We’ve been waiting to hear back from a banker about¬†some¬†details in regard to fixing all that needs to be fixed around here. I have been anxiously checking emails, voicemail, and even the mailbox for any sign of an update from the banker. Sitting in church Sunday morning, God convicted my heart that while I have been searching¬†for news from a banker, I have completely ignored His Word to me. I know that God’s Word speaks to the struggles that we face, and I know that He promises He’ll never give us more than we can handle. But for whatever reason, I realized I had not been holding tight to those truths.¬†

In his message on Sunday, our pastor talked about gratefulness. He told the story of an older woman¬†he knew‚Ķshe worked at a coffee shop and had to drag large bags of garbage across the parking lot to the dumpster. One day, while dragging several large garbage bags, she chose to not complain about the job‚Ķinstead she smiled at our pastor and remarked how very thankful she was for garbage men. After all, she said, we’d be in a world of hurt if they didn’t come and drag away all this garbage! To some of you, that may seem silly or trite‚Ķbut it resonated within me. Several years ago, God did a work on my heart to teach me to be more grateful. And for a season, I was‚Ķour whole family became more grateful. And every Friday morning, when Tanner would wheel the garbage can to the curb, he would come inside to kiss me goodbye and say, “I’m really thankful this morning for garbage men.” I realized Sunday morning how far I’d drifted from living a life of thankfulness. How long had it been since I had thanked God for something? It seemed like more often than not lately, I was only asking Him for something‚Ķall the while, ignoring the blessings that surround me.¬†

It was Tanner’s idea Sunday afternoon to post a “Thankfulness” board somewhere in our house. Something to visually remind us to give thanks to the Lord for all He has done, for indeed He has done much for us. And if you know me at all, you know that I love any reason to be crafty‚Ķso I dug through the pile of decorations in the basement, and made a Thankful Wall in our family room. The verse God has used in my heart over and over the past few days is John 1:16‚Ķ”For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” Grace upon grace‚Ķit’s all grace. Everything that happens, whether I deem it good or bad‚Ķit all occurs because there is a God in Heaven who loves me more than I could ever comprehend, and He allows things to transpire because His is good, faithful, and just. All the time. And for that I am truly grateful.¬†


An old 3-pane window, rescued from the trash a while ago, became a place to write our thanks with a dry-erase marker. The two picture frames above were garage sale finds a while back, and the little porcelain plate hanging from the black picture frame was only $2 at Michael’s. The “GrAcE upon gRaCe” on the top of the window was made from $3 scrapbooking stickers, adhered to the window with a little bit of hot glue. And the cute little burlap flower on the bottom was also a Michael’s find. Total cost for this project was $10!


I love that our new "Thankful Wall" is right next to my desk!

I love that our new “Thankful Wall” is right next to my desk!

The idea behind this Thankful Wall is that anyone can write down anything for which they are thankful. Big or small…doesn’t matter. It’s a way of reminding us that there is always something to be thankful for, and that “while we may not always feel joy, God asks us to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving.” (Ann Voskamp)

The wonderful author Ann Voskamp also wrote in her best-selling book, One Thousand Gifts, “The joy of small things makes life large.” I forgot how much I love that quote!! And I’m reminded how deeply I want to instill this into my heart as well as my children’s hearts. And so as we fill this window with many small acts of thankfulness, it is my prayer and hope that from it will rise people who view life in a very big way.¬†

And so I hope that you’ll join me in this journey of thanksgiving. You certainly don’t have to hang old windows on your wall and scribble notes of thanks on it…only weird people do that, right?! ;-) Whether you post them for all to see, scribble them privately in a journal, or secretly draw them across your heart…it doesn’t matter. All that matters, I’m slowly learning, is that we slow down and take the time to notice the work God is doing around us, and that we give Him all the thanks and glory that He deserves. Join me?

Blessings to you today! 



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