Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Our December Kitchen

I had planned on doing an awesome 2 part post on our lovely kitchen makeover. But all that I managed to post was A Tiny Peek at Our Kitchen Makeover. No part 1. No part 2. No big kitchen reveal. Just a peek and not much of one.

I'd like to say that it's because I'm just too busy but that wouldn't really be true. I am super busy but the real reason I've haven't posted about my kitchen makeover is- I don't know if we'll ever really be "finished". It appears to be one of those projects (like every other project) that will take us years and years to actually complete. So I'll just try to post an update every now and then :) 
Let's start this kitchen post with a quick reminder of our kitchen last year.

Leaky dishwasher. Rotted floor. Bad wallpaper.  

Ugly huh? We really didn't change very much. Just the floor, backsplash, and color. There is still sooo much to be done.

And to be honest, the floor isn't finished, the backsplash isn't finished, and the paint isn't finished. I still have plenty of trim and caulking to do. Not to mention a few tiles that need to be repaired already.

So try to see past the dirt on the floor and stools, the rubber bumper on the corner of the counter, and the bad lighting, and just see how far we've come.



Thanks for stopping by :)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Sole Hope Labor Day Sale

My new Sole Hope flip flops came in the mail this week! It's been a great mail week :)
While everyone is looking forward to getting out their fall boots and shoes, I'll be sporting these new beauties. And they're not only adorable, they're a purchase with purpose.
So what is a jigger? Well, it's a nasty little sand flea that burrows into feet, lays eggs, multiplies, damages the soft tissue, and can cause a variety of painful and some times very serious problems. You can read more here and even check out some really disgusting photos if you're interested in that sort of thing. You know I love to share pics from Facebook, so here are few from Sole Hope's page.

How are your shoes holding up? On the rare occasion that children arrive at a clinic with shoes on they usually look similar to these. #perspective Will you come alongside us and help Sole Hope continue to provide shoes to children in Uganda? Go HERE: http://www.solehope.org/donate/ to sponsor a pair for $10 or sign up for a recurring donation and sponsor a pair every month. Thank you for your continued support!

"Our volunteers are great at comforting the kids when jigger removal gets rough"
Ok, so I've said it before, I'm a sucker for a good cause sharing God's love. As I'm getting older, I'm trying to be more intentional with my life, my words, my time, and my purchases too. Who we choose to buy from is who we choose to support. So when I realized that it was time to replace a pair of my favorite flip flops, I knew exactly where I wanted to get them. As a matter of fact, I've been waiting for the chance to shop with Sole Hope for a while now. I love this cause because, and I know this is kind of stupid, but because I hate bug bites and my feet suck! When I moved to Tennessee from California, I was introduced to living life in a mosquito habitat. Man, I hate mosquitos!! An itchy bug bite is pure torture. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a place where jiggers are common and health care is not.

Sole Hope takes there clinic to villages and removes the jiggers for people, they also educate them about jiggers and provide them with shoes (many times their first pair of shoes ever). I have some foot problems myself and I'm thankful to have access to cream and scrubbers for my cracked heals and shoes for when my feet are hurting. 
If Sole Hope sounds like a cause that you might be interesting in supporting, you should check them out right now because they're having a Labor Day sale!
25% off with coupon code: LABORDAY
You can also follow them on Facebook or Instagram.
Happy Labor Day weekend and don't forget to #purchasewithpurpose friends!

Friday, September 4, 2015

I'm the One That Needs to Adjust & Breakfast Cake

We've made it to week 5 of school. It feels good. Taylor received her first progress report on Monday. Three A's and one B. I'm impressed. I love that they're learning so much and trying so hard to do well. They are adjusting well.
I guess now I'M the one who needs to adjust to school schedules and demands, being at home with two unpredictable little girls all day, and juggling home management & a small business by myself (with said little girls at my feet).
My biggest challenge (like most moms, I'm sure) has been feeding my family. I love to cook but I do not enjoy rushing. I enjoy meal planning, but haven't found the time. I didn't expect this to be a problem for me because that's one of the things I've always been pretty good at. But since school started we have had pizza and Cheetos for breakfast, cereal for dinner, and this week I paid for the school lunch, then made lunch from home and sent them to school with it. I'm a mess!
I'm a morning person. I like to get up and get going. I like morning showers and coffee. I like getting my chores done early and having the rest of the day stress free (it doesn't happen often but I like it). I have no excuse for being this unorganized with my meals, other than the forty reasons that I could give you that explain why I'm this unorganized ;)
So I'm going to share some of my favorite easy breakfast recipes and some new (hopefully good) ones that I'm planning on experimenting with, then sharing the details. I'm hoping it will encourage me to do better and maybe even inspire someone else to make more breakfasts. #journeyseats
Today I'm sharing one of my favorite recipes, adapted from a combination of recipes over the years. It's perfect for fall. For school mornings. For weekends. For anytime. We've been enjoying this for a long time (and not just in the fall and winter).
Lets call it:
Blueberry Pumpkin Oatmeal Bake :)
Start the night before by soaking 2 cups of oats in a teaspoon of kefir, buttermilk, or yogurt and cover with water. Soak overnight. Drain and rinse oats in the morning.
I'm big on improvising and using whatever you have on hand.
Mix together:
Soaked oats
1-2 eggs
1 t. baking powder
1/3 cup of pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling
1/3 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries
3 T. maple syrup
I usually put a casserole dish in the oven with a couple of teaspoons of butter until the butter melts and coats the dish well. Then I pour my mixture in the dish and bake at 350° for about 40 minutes.
My recipe changes a little each time I make it. You can literally add anything you want to it (raisins, apples, brown sugar, peaches, honey) and it's always turned out awesome for me. Some people may like it a little creamier and want to add a splash of milk to the mix.
I top it with powdered sugar and more blueberries. The kids call it breakfast cake. They love it!

Friday, August 28, 2015

More Loving, More Serving

Question: Do you ever feel a personal conviction to do more? Do you ever look around at all of the terrible problems in the world and wonder what you can do to help? Are you short on money, time, and other resources that you think are needed in order for you to be able to make a difference? Do you have too many mouths to feed, rooms to clean, and errands to run?? Yeah... me too.
But nonetheless, we have been called to love and serve. In recent years, I have dreamed about being able to serve others in better ways. I've wanted to be the one who does the helping. So many people have been there for me, and helped me in my life. I'm so grateful to every one of them. It is a blessing to know that you're loved by God and that other's are working for God to show you his love and their love. 
Having a large family with small children is something that most people in America either never experience or forget soon after their season is over. I vow to never forget. I will remember the many days when lonely hopelessness filled my heart. The times that I struggled to just keep everyone alive and fed and sort-of clean. The times when it was all I could do to pray, let alone dress everyone and make it to church.
But that's not even what today's post is about. Today I'd like to share about "more". Doing more to serve as the hands and feet of God. I've spent many many days and nights thinking and praying about the needs all around me and what ways I can show others the love that God has for them. What loves and talents do I have that I could use? Well, I have a serious love for children that I feel is something like a gift. My entire life I've had a special interest in the poor and needy. And most of all, the helpless. There is a place in my heart for the helpless that I think can only be filled by helping.
Soooo.....I'm going to help now. 
How am I going to help, you ask?
Well....... I'm going to do something. Yep. Something.
I'm going to start by writing this. And hopefully encourage you to do something too. For years I've been following different non-profits, researching charity groups and companies, asking questions, and searching for whatever it is that I could/should be doing. My favorite website/instagram/facebook page is without a doubt Neema House - Geita, where some of the greatest work in the world is being done. I could write about it all day.

It's basically an orphanage in East Africa, Tanzania. They not only care for orphans but also for children in broken families who need care and they care for and protect albino children from witch doctors who kidnap and dismember them because they believe their bones have magic powers.

Can you imagine having to bring your child to an orphanage just because he/she was albino and needed to be protected from being murdered? Heartbreaking to think about, isn't it? Neema House - Geita is so good about updating their Facebook page and sharing progress on their children and their families if they have any, and also on projects and goals they're working on.
These are from their Facebook page :)
A local family threw a birthday party for all of the kids.
They have to shave their heads. I'm not sure if it's a certain times or all the time.

Thomas, Gloria, and Agnes in their new cribs.

The girls' bedroom makeover this month :)
Charity visiting with her mom for the first time in 10 months.
Here is their mission:

Neema (pronounced Nāma) is the Swahili word for “grace” or “abundance.”  

Located in the Geita District of Northern Tanzania, Neema House is the only organization in the region supporting at-risk, abandoned, and orphaned children ages five years and younger.  Neema House has been developed as one of the ministries of the mission team in Geita. It is currently set up as an interim care facility to serve up to 25 children and is designed with the purpose that people from the Geita community will experience the grace and abundance of God through tangible acts of love and service. 
Neema House works in connection with the local hospital and government social welfare offices to identify children in need and ensure their care and safety.  While at Neema House, children are provided food, clothing, shelter, medical care and love.  Day to day care of the children is provided by Tanzanian "mamas" to help ensure that they are raised in their Tanzanian culture as much as possible and therefore more easily reintegrate into homes in the community.
Though many children are orphaned due to AIDS, malaria, other diseases, or abandonment, some children may have extended family in the area.  Neema House is committed to maintaining and developing a relationship with any extended family these children may have in the hope that as many children has possible may return to their homes in the future.  Children who do not have additional known family will remain in the care of Neema House until further long-term plans can be arranged to ensure the child's care and safety, whether through local adoption, possible fostering, or other future arrangements.

If any of you are looking for an opportunity to help the helpless, this is a great one. You can meet these sweet babies HERE!
These little angels is where I'll be donating 10% of ALL sales from Journey's Creations and Photography. All photography sessions and craft sales included.
I don't know how much of a difference it will make but it will be a little "more" than they had before. Go check out Neema House and you'll quickly see the amazing work going on there.
Money isn't always the best way to help. I'm still praying about what I can do more locally. But this has been on my heart for  many months and it feels good to finally commit to it.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Monday Morning AND Big News

This Monday morning has been a lovely one! Yes, I could complain about at least a dozen things that haven't gone "right" already, but I'm not going to. I'm just going to say another little prayer for today's worries and move on. There' s plenty to get done around here and nobody has time to waste thinking about things that can't be changed!
My lone tomato plant is really flourishing!
The weather was amazing in Tennessee this morning. But when I went outside I noticed how bad my favorite place has been neglected (the front porch). But there is hope. I saw some tiny seedlings sprouting in one of my pots, and hopefully the window boxes will have sprouting activity soon. I've been using the porch for sanding and painting cabinets for weeks. I'll have to add "make porch beautiful" to my list.
This week's "to-do" list is already a mile long. The kitchen is close. Really, really close. Some more cabinet doors are going up tonight and I hope to have all cabinets totally finished by the end of the week.
Note to self: Never ever under any circumstances paint the kitchen again!
In other news....

I am SO excited to announce that I am hosting a fall craft party!! eeeeek!!
I love making things and I love opening my home up to my people. So why not put them together for some serious fun?! Come join me for a night of food, fellowship, and cute crafts!
Here's the details:
+ Fall craft party with Journey's Creations at my home in White House TN.
+ On Friday  September 25th at 6:00 pm.
+ Cost is $25 per person.
+ Materials, dinner, and dessert included in registration fee.
+ We will make three adorable crafts that will not disappoint!
Registration is OPEN NOW! Space is limited and some supplies need time for shipping, so please be sure to reserve your spot early.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Craziness & Finding Beauty in the Everyday

What a week this has been!
Colds are fading away and life is getting back to normal. Well.... the new normal. And, I'm not even exactly sure what that is yet. I've been working like a crazy person trying to finish house projects, working on orders from Journey's Creations, and best of all, getting my Etsy Shop back up and running! I'm so terrible at the Etsy thing. I list things and then end up selling them to someone local or giving them away as gifts. But I have a new strategy that I'm hoping will help. We shall see.
Fall is my busiest season of the year for photography and it's right around the corner! I've already been busy setting up sessions this week and getting ready for a big wedding with Authentic Photos & Designs next weekend.
The girls are doing amazing in school. Or at least I'm amazed. Taylor did happen to bomb out on her history test last week but I'm certain that she'll improve. She has awesome study habits and I know she'll come through. I couldn't be happier with their effort. Mary seems to be averaging B's on her work, and considering that she's never been to school before, I think that's wonderful.
The best thing to me, is that August is almost over and fall is a little closer. I'm looking forward to fall even more than usual. This summer has been the saddest, most difficult time in my entire life. I'd like to move on to another season and leave this summer behind me. I'm so ready for change (remember, I love change). Ready for cool breezes. And sweatshirts and baking and coffee on the porch swing. Ready for the grass to slow down and the leaves to change.
At this point in my life, I'm learning how important it is to truly enjoy the little things. The everyday. Seeing beauty in the everyday is priceless. These lives we live are special gifts from our Heavenly Father and we should cherish them as He would want us to. We have to be careful to not waste them away worrying and feeling sorry for ourselves. Careful to not dwell on our troubles, but on the joy in our journey. And learning to find that joy in the everyday feels good.  
Today, I found joy in watching my babies play with an $8 bag of used kitchen toys. They played and played. They never even spoke to each other. I sat there and watched them and I loved it. They were so busy investigating every single plate and piece of play food. After they had touched each piece, they started creating meals and play feeding them to me. It was the cutest!
Then I made my big babies some rice krispy treats to enjoy when they get home from school. I slapped a tablecloth on the front porch table and I was the very first person to break into the mums at walmart this morning!
Happy Friday Y'all!


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Tiny Peek at Our Kitchen Makeover

I guess we'll start with this crazy awful embarrassing picture. The right side is the dirty old green cabinets and the left side is the clean new grey cabinets (obviously). I actually like the old green color and seriously considered repainting them the same exact color. But then I thought, if I'm going to go through all the trouble of painting my entire kitchen, I may as well change the color.
What do you think about the grey?
I went back and forth after painting this one little section. I never really decided if I loved it or not but I didn't want to repaint what I had already finished. I'm really lazy and I can't work on any one project for very long. I usually have at least four things going at once. I like to hop around and have the choice of what I feel like working on. I like change, so I just keep on moving around and changing.


I know this is not much of a peek but I don't want to spoil the big reveal :)
Happy Tuesday Friends!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sunday Harvest and August in the Garden (Don't get excited)

This is the gorgeous Sunday morning harvest from our garden. And technically, aside from the strawberries, this is the only harvest from our garden ALL year.
I really hope you enjoyed that pretty picture. Now get ready for some not-so-pretty pictures from our August garden.

Yes, that's Buster's tail bouncing around in there. He was looking for something edible. He didn't find anything, except maybe a rabbit :(

The fence is basically covered in vines.

Now check out some of last year's garden activity. It was the opposite of this year. It was awesome!

Fermented salsa! I would slap someone for some of this right now.
This is what our cucumber harvest looked like every other morning!

The pickling was endless.
The tomatoes were gorgeous!
Below is our only living and happily thriving tomato plant of 2015. Notice that it's not even in the garden. I should probably mention that we didn't even plant it!! It just sprouted up in the front flowerbed all by itself :)
So we tied it to a pole and it's totally content.