Thursday, December 18, 2014

Our Christmas Tree and Mantel {Journey's Decorating - Nashville TN}

Today I'm sharing our Christmas tree and mantel. This year we didn't buy a live tree. We had planned on buying one but the very week that we expected to get it, my in-laws said they were buying a new tree and taking this old one to the dump. Needless to say, it's perfect for our little corner in the den :)

If you're wondering why the bottom looks so bare, it is not because of my medioker decorating skills. In fact, it was decorated but we have lots of little hands who specialize in un-decorating. After a few broken ornaments I decided it was best to just put the rest of them up for another year. So I bought some ribbon and attempted to use it on the tree. I think pretty ribbon on a tree takes practice. It's clear I need more practice. This was my second attempt and I'm giving up for this year.
The mantel is my favorite thing to decorate! This wreath came from my mom a few years ago (I'm sure from a yard sale). The tall angel on the left is from Cracker Barrel a few years ago. The candelabra was a gift from my husband (from Target). I know there are lots of people who change up their mantel every year but I love mine so much that it's probably the only thing that is almost the same each Christmas. This year I added the red plate. I'll post a photo at the bottom from last Christmas.

I'm so proud of the new built ins that my husband put in this fall. These babies are completely from scratch! I designed, he built, I painted. I'm so happy with the way our den is coming together but we have a lot of work left.  

Here's a close up of the tree. My daughter was kind enough to notice that our snowman is falling off of the tree in this picture. Haha! See if you can find him!
Thanks to everyone for visiting :)
Here's a shot of last year's tree and mantel.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween Candy Overload??

If you take your children to any kind of Halloween activities, you likely have an overload of Halloween candy when the first day of November rolls around. What are you going to do with ALL of that candy?
Here's what I do after the children pick through it for a day or two.
  • First I pick out all of my husband's favorites and set them aside for him.
  • Next I pull out all of the butterfingers and snickers. Then at the following monthly church potlucks, I make a butterfinger cake 
ButterFinger Cake Recipelike this one.
And a snickers cake like this one.                               
  • Then, the rest of the candy either gets put in to a bag for decorating gingerbread houses at Christmas OR it gets thrown in the trash.
Colorful Christmas Gingerbread House For Kids, 2014 Christmas Gingerbread Food Ideas, Colorful Christmas Decorations

Happy November!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fall Meal Planning

My Fall Meal Planning
I don't have time this month to sit down and make out a real, calendar style menu for October. But I'll still need a grocery list and a meal plan or our month will be even more hectic.  
So my big plan is to add in some fall recipes to my regular grocery list and keep the ingredients on hand to fix what I need, when I need it. Some recipes are old fall favorites and some are new finds. 
I sure hope to share some favorite recipes soon but for now, I'm just sharing my list.  


 White bean & bacon soup

 Potato soup


Beef stew

Roast beef

Big pigs in blankets

Chili and cornbread skillet

Chicken ranch tacos


Meatball subs

 Steak enchiladas

Breakfast enchiladas

Bacon patty melts

Bacon ranch grilled cheese sandwiches

French onion stroganoff

Chicken and dumplings

Chicken and dressing

Chicken noodle soup

Vegetable and beef lasagna

Chicken zucchini parmesan

Apple & honey pork chops


Twice baked potatoes

Broccoli casserole

Apple and butternut squash casserole

Sweet potato casserole


Apple cinnamon crepes

Baked pumpkin cream cheese French toast

Breakfast sandwiches

Baked oatmeal

Snacks and Outreach

Pumpkin pie

Pumpkin spice whip dip

Zucchini walnut blueberry bread

Pumpkin bread

Fried pickles

Fried cheese sticks

Pumpkin pecan bars
Happy Friday!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall At Home

The Summer heat is fading away quickly and day by day the air is just slightly more enjoyable. I'm still anxiously awaiting the cool breezes, sweat shirt days, and warm blanket nights by the fire but the highs are now in the upper 70s and that's good enough for me to start decorating :)

We have big big changes coming to our den this month. I'm hoping my pretty fall mantel will stay decorated through the process. I love pretty and I'm much happier when I'm surrounded with it.

I've started adding little touches of fall here and there throughout the house. My awesome brother sent me some beautiful flowers for my birthday last week and they really brighten up the dining area nicely. I wish they would stay fresh forever.

While I am trying to avoid the whole Halloween theme in my decorating this year, there are still a few of my favorite pieces that I just can't help but display. My daughters brought in some flowers from the field behind our house.

Thanks for visiting!!
More to come :)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Enrichment Classes or Not?

It's that time again. Summer is here and the decision to enroll in enrichment classes is quickly approaching. I usually change my mind at least once or twice before the date of commitment rolls around.
Two weeks ago, I said no way. Last week I suggested that I may teach a Mystery Detective class. This week I say no way again.
There are so many pros and cons to taking classes outside the home when you're a homeschooler. I guess each year and each family has different challenges and obstacles. Last semester was the first time I opted out of enrichment classes completely and you know what? It was wonderful. I enjoyed catching up on our studies, finishing household projects (and starting a few new ones), and organizing my mind, office, home, & school work. But I must say that in the past, participating in enrichment has also been wonderful.
Sure, it's only two days a month. But then there's field trips, park days, meetings, moms night outs, parties, basketball, book club, sewing club, church 3 times a week, appointments, shopping trips, and play dates. When do we have time to study?? Not to mention all of the exciting activities we have planned at home. Things like our monthly girls character class, monthly ladies luncheons, story telling festival, fall party, Christmas party, photography appointments, weekly piano lessons. It really never ends.

The big girls doing their studies together.

I have to keep in mind that one of the reasons that I wanted to homeschool was to spend time at home learning, teaching, exploring, creating, and bonding. Growing in God's love and sharing His love. I wanted to free up more time to serve others. To help the needy. To reach out to the lost. But if my days and nights are consumed with activities, I find it too difficult to serve God with the right heart.
Victoria mopping before our ladies luncheon.
Purposefulness. It's the key to being consistent and obedient. Purposefully considering all things and making decisions based on what will be more pleasing to Him.
Enjoying a beautiful day in the front yard.
I think this semester we will focus on our required studies, character building, obedience training, and church. We absolutely love and look forward to seeing our friends and participating in enrichment activities. I'm looking forward to a wonderful year filled with fun and edification for our whole family. Our life since homeschooling has been incredible. I can't wait to see what extraordinary opportunities The Lord has planning for us next. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sweet Nectar On Las Olas

The highlight of our vacation was a beautiful perfect lunch date. Like most parents with little children, it's not always easy to make special time for each other. But while we were in Florida, we managed to get out and enjoy a couple of hours on Las Olas Blvd in Fort Lauderdale.
We decided to have lunch at a little restaurant called Sweet Nectar. We chose to sit outside on the patio, which was right on the street. It was certainly unlike any restaurants in Tennessee, although everything there was cooked on a charcoal grill.
When I eat out at a unique restaurant like this or in another part of the country, I really enjoy ordering items off the menu EXACTLY the way the chef prepares it. It is so much more fun to experience the full flavor of the dish, the way it was created.
So we went with something creative and something simple and shared them.
Meal #1
Florida Grilled Snapper Sandwich
with avocado, mango cabbage slaw tomato pesto aioli
 & a side salad with kimchee vinaigrette

Meal #2
Grilled Chicken Sandwich
with maple mayo, watercress smoked bacon on ciabatta
& Calamari fries with smoked tomato ketchup

They were both unbelievable!!!

After lunch we browsed some of the art work displayed in a few galleries and then we hit the candy store for $20 worth of goodies for the girls :)
It's so important to make time for your marriage. With all the craziness of life, it's always a good idea to remember the feelings that brought you together. When we're alone, I can look at him and see all of the unique characteristics that attracted me to him in the first place. We can enjoy each other much more when life's distractions are held off for a couple of hours.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Our 2014 Beach Vacation

 Well, we did it! We actually took our family on a real vacation to the beach! And we all survived :) 
 It was a long trip. We drove from northern middle Tennessee to Fort Lauderdale. It took about 16 hours total. But we broke it up into two days on the way down and three on the way home. We we're lucky to have family in Saint Augustine where we rested for a few days and enjoyed some awesome fellowship and family time.
We started the planning a few months in advance. My mom rented us a room on the beach with an awesome view!
Our room view!

 Then we rented a van, to ensure we would actually make it to Fort Lauderdale :)
Next we started planning, saving, packing, & rolling coins. We really couldn't afford this trip (even with a free room) but we knew there may not ever be a time while all of our children are still living at home that we would be able to "afford" a vacation like this. So we did it anyway. And I'm glad we did.
School work the day before we left
I tried to stay as organized as possible while packing. I wish I would have taken pictures of the whole process. I color coordinated everyone's clothes and bagged them up by the day. I took each activity we had planned into consideration and tried to have a spare outfit for each of the babies. I even made sure that each days bag had a diaper, a pull-up, and matching hair bows. I thought I had it all figured out.
My plan was working wonderfully until Saturday (day one) when Mary (6) went through FOUR outfits. Oh well, you win some you lose some.
We spent 6 days visiting with Granny and Grandpa Howard. It was totally worth the money and effort.
We started with the buddies sitting together :)
The kids made a ton of memories and enjoyed spending time with Granny and Grandpa Howard.

There were a few not so fabulous moments but the good ones more than make up for it!
This picture alone was worth the effort!

Visiting with Grandparents, uncles & cousins will be a memory the girls will carry with them forever.

Friday, May 23, 2014

$25 Summer Mini Sessions, June 7th

Journey's Creations Photography is announcing
Summer Mini Sessions!!!
All day Saturday June 7th
Email or call me to schedule your appointment.
(615) 957-1196



Saturday, April 19, 2014

Journey Through Photography

I'm so excited to introduce a new chapter of my journey today!
 Journey's Photography
Please visit my photo gallery to view samples of my work.
Life is a precious gift filled with many wonderful, memorable milestones that can be too easily forgotten. My goal is to capture unique images of life's beautiful seasons for each and every client and preserve the beloved memories of today for years to come.
The gifts of the seasons

Spring- The beginning of life. Life in the womb, followed by the miracle of birth. Childhood youth is the very definition of wonder, amazement, excitement, and of course fun. There are so many special memories to be captured in this season.

Summer-  A time of preparation for the future. A season of growing. Growing ourselves in love, wisdom, family, and spirit. The days are long and often consumed by the labor of work, children, stress and busy schedules. The memories fly by quickly during this season.

Fall- A time to treasure. Children are moving on, beginning their own lives, their own creations, and their own memories. Still keeping alive the memories of themselves by seeing them relived in grandchildren. Life changes but is just as precious in this season of harvesting blessings.

Winter- The days of appreciation and wisdom. Youth is long gone. Love still remains. The gift of life is cherished now more than ever. A time to sit back and enjoy the fruit of your labor, to observe younger generations as they move through their own seasons of life. A time to call upon your own special memories.

My desire is to provide professional quality images for all of life's seasons. Exquisite photos for you to proudly display, share with friends and family, and preserve the amazing gift of life.

There is no art more beautiful than a memory. And one day these dirty little faces, elderly smiles, and young love stricken eyes will be just that, a memory.

I am honored to be a part of preserving life and photographically documenting life's precious milestones for my clients. I encourage you to bring special personal items such as blankets/quilts, stuffed animals, live animals or family heirlooms to be photographed with, to add additional significance to your portraits.
Portrait Mini Sessions- 30 minute session
Disc with approximately 10 fully edited high resolution images with print release.
$50 ($75 on location)

Portrait Sessions- 60 minute session (1 wardrobe change)
Disc with approximately 15 fully edited high resolution images with print release.
$75 ($100 on location)

Professional Print Pricing

8 wallets $10
5x7 $10
8x10 $20
11x14 $35
16x20 $50

Custom Cards (seasonal, greeting, postcards, etc.) 
Set of 25 with envelopes

Also available:
 Professionally framed prints
Boutique framed prints
Standout canvas prints 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Family Bread Recipe

People are always asking me for my bread recipe. It's a recipe that was shared with me by my good friend NT. We love it and make lots and lots of it! The kids like it best fresh out of the oven, still warm with honey butter :)
Family Bread
4 cups warm filtered water
1/3 cup sugar or 1/4 cup raw honey
4 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon real salt
1/3 cup butter or coconut oil
12 cups flour
Mix water, sugar or honey and yeast together.
Add salt and butter. Mix.
Add flour 1cup at a time until elastic.
Cover and let ride until doubled.
Makes 4 loaves or 24 rolls.
Let loaves rise until over the pan.
Bake at 375 degrees
30 minute for loaves
10-15 minutes for rolls


Friday, April 4, 2014

Art For Me

I was working on my photo gallery wall this week and there was this empty place on the wall that was just screaming "canvas". I couldn't take it anymore. So in the midst of my crazy life, I drug out all of my craft supplies and made this for myself.
I have to admit, I do not have any of my own art displayed in my house. I've tried hanging my own pieces in the past but I would just find myself staring at them and obsessing about them. They never really feel complete to me. But anyways, I really needed something on that wall. So this is it. I like it.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Leaky Dishwasher Remodel

About a year ago it became apparent we needed to replace our kitchen floor. The peal and stick tiles were popping up and the flooring under started swelling in spots. We didn't know what was going on. But I hated the floor and was happy to be forced to replace it with a much more appealing porcelain tile. Who knows how long we would have lived with that floor if it hadn't become a problem.
We had a few theories as to what was making the tiles swell. Possibly water damage from kitchen spills over the years, or maybe the people who installed it didn't know what they doing. Whatever the case, it needed to be replaced.
So we budgeted in the materials for the tile project. It was kind of funny how at exactly the time that we had enough money, we realized there was a bigger problem. The dishwasher was leaking!
Curtis took it out and started tearing up flooring to find this. Wet particle board. Moldy wet particle board. Nasty moldy wet particle board. YUCK!
After removing all of the wet particle board we put a fan on the subfloor to help it dry while we tried to figure out what to do next.
Clearly the only option was not the best option. But being that it was the only one, we decided to tear out the cabinets and see what was underneath them.

More nasty moldy particle board! Some mold starting up the walls and on the underside of the cabinets. It was a good thing we had no other options. Thankfully Curtis had lots of physical and informative help from a friend JR.

A funny thing about home improvement- you learn more than how to improve your home. For example, we didn't really know that we were "do it yourselfers" but it looks like we are. I think we always had this idea that if we had more money, we would just hire someone to do this kind of work for us. But the truth is, we like to do it ourselves and have the peace of mind knowing it was done right. Of course there are things that a professional would do better than us, but if we had more money, we'd probably just replace more and do more projects ourselves.

So all of the old stuff came out. We bleached, scrubbed, and Kiltz'd everything that was wet.

Good stuff!

The kids helped by watching tv for an entire weekend.
Then he laid plywood on top of the subfloor.
Put the cabinets back together and replaced any damaged wood on them.
 And VOILA! The kitchen was a kitchen again. Now on to the tile!