Month: February 2014

De-stress is Best!

It’s been one of those days today. You know those days, don’t you? Nothing seems to be going the way it should, you got nothing accomplished at work, the kids aren’t listening, the house is a mess, a friend is hurting, you have a headache and your throat is feeling scratchy, you have a million things to do but don’t have a free minute to do them…

When it feels like the world is caving in, how do you handle it all?

I’m hope you’re not expecting me to give you a brilliant answer to all of your problems or a more practical way to look at life. I’m not. But do you know what I do when the stress of life is enough to make me run for the hills?

I CLEAN.

I mean it. Sometimes there is no greater therapy than putting some elbow power into tackling the grimy floors, caked on dishes, mountains of toys, piles of laundry, and splattered microwave. Do I really have time on a Tuesday night to start deep cleaning? No. Do I really want to clean? Heck no. Is it even going to stay clean for 24 hours? No way. But for a couple of hours, it is my sanity… and so, I clean.

Move the chairs away from the table, take the appliances off the countertops, pick up all the toys off the floor – kind of clean. I even wiped down the kitchen baseboards!

There is nothing better than having a clean and organized home. And so, for the 30 minutes or so that it lasts, I enjoyed feeling like Super Mom!

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Spaghetti Squash Casserole

I’ve always been intrigued by this giant squash and never really believed it could satisfy my pasta cravings. When I decided to lay off the carbs a bit, I turned to trusty Google and skimmed through recipe after recipe on how to cook this thing. I took a collaboration of ideas and created this…

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

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It is both kid-test and husband-approved! We make it about once a week. I love it because it’s quick, easy, and delicious – and don’t even get me started on how much I love seeing my kids enjoy veggies!

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The ingredient list is simple.

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The scariest part is cutting the squash in half lengthwise. Push the blade away from you and no one gets hurt!

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Scrape out the yucky seeds and discard.

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The cooked squash really does look like spaghetti noodles! Enjoy!

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Spaghetti Squash Casserole

1 large spaghetti squash
1 tbsp olive oil
16oz spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 cups broccoli florets, cooked
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350˚
Rinse spaghetti squash and dry
Cut the squash in half CAREFULLY, scoop out seeds
Brush sides of squash with olive oil
Place cut-side down in casserole dish
Microwave 10 minutes (adjust time depending on size – squash should be somewhat pliable)
Repeat for second half of squash
Let squash cool 

In a large saucepan, add spaghetti sauce and cream cheese
Heat on medium-low until combined, stirring often
Add cooked broccoli florets and mix well
Add salt and pepper to taste
Remove from heat 

With a fork, scrape the squash strands into the casserole dish
Add sauce mixture, stir to combine
Top with shredded parmesan and bake for 20 minutes

In the midst of a trial

I don’t want to kill your mood, but I’ve got to be honest… Real life is tough!

The last few weeks (or maybe even months) have been really difficult for a lot of people close to us. It seems like illness is creeping up all around us. When our friends are suffering, we try to do anything and everything we can to bring them comfort and support. We rally around them, bring them meals, send cards of encouragement, or give them a big bear hug. And while I’m sure those things are appreciated, let’s face it – we’re not truly helping them feel better. At least not for very long.

I think that in the midst of turmoil, we often lose sight of the only source of hope that will never betray us. We have a holy Savior who loves us and extends His grace to us. Even when we least expect it. God provides for us according to His timing, not our own. Life is full of heartache. Instead of pulling away from God in anger and resentment, why don’t we fall on our knees before God and ask that He fill us with peace?

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:15-16

I’m not saying that it’s easy. It is hard for us to live with God at our focus when we are hurting so deeply. That is why it is so important to be in God’s Word in the good times and in the bad. If we are daily equipping ourselves with the Armor of God, we’ll be better able to withstand (or at least endure) the difficulties that come our way.

We were never promised an easy ride in this world. In fact, we were promised the opposite.  Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Trials make us stronger, more Christ-like, and better witnesses to others.

Don’t take my word for it. In many ways, I’m writing this post as much for myself as I am for you. I, too, need to be reminded that My God is a faithful and loving God. Jesus is my Protector, my Hope, my Redeemer. I just want Him to be those things for you as well, and then maybe, just maybe, we can be made stronger through our trials.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

Monkeys racing on dogs…

This weekend we got suckered into a local event that sounded cool but ended up being pretty lame. Here’s what got us there…

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Needless to say, we were really excited for the monkeys. While they did race around on dogs’ backs, there was a crowd that made it impossible to see and the whole thing lasted about 3 minutes. We thought we’d at least get a picture with the monkey, but they wanted $10! No worries, this one was free 🙂

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While it wasn’t as amusing as we’d hoped, it did get us out of the house and let us check out some local vendors. Blake found his new favorite sauce, produced locally and sold in Saint Augustine.

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And Kailey found a new Bounce House vendor… nice people! We will definitely be using Jump for Joy in the future!

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My Aunt and Uncle are down visiting from Pennsylvania. My dad passed away five years ago, so having his brother in town is kind of like having a piece of my dad back. So many similarities, but lots of differences, too – a good balance! They didn’t have plans for Saturday, so we dragged them and my mom along. The kids absolutely adore them, so we made the outing fun even though it was lacking in entertainment.

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Afterwards, we came back to the house and put the boys to work. Finally my windows close completely! Thanks Uncle Al!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today is Valentine’s Day…

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And I had two pretty excited little ones…

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Ironically, I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against the holiday, and I get excited for co-workers and friends when they get flowers, chocolates, and even jewelry from their significant others… but it’s just never been my favorite holiday. In fact, Blake and I kind of have an unwritten rule that we don’t buy gifts for each other, but instead just try to find some quiet time together, which isn’t always easy!

But this year, while he didn’t buy me a gift, he did do something pretty darn amazing…

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He made dinner almost every night this week!

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chowder

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As you may well know by now, I am not the most organized person and I have very little free time, so when you take making dinner off my list – I am one happy girl. And when you feed me healthy, delicious, REAL food – I’m ecstatic! It was an easy way for him to show me a little extra love this week. Sometimes it’s the little things that we do for those that we love that go a long way.

What was your favorite part of Valentine’s Day?

What a weekend!

This weekend was busy and full of fun! We started off Saturday afternoon showering this beauty with lots of love for her FIRST BIRTHDAY!

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My best friend’s youngest is 2 months younger than Cameron, and her oldest is 4 months older than Kailey, which makes our play dates more fun than you could imagine! Kailey and Madyson have a great friendship already. And, as you can see, Cameron and Autumn are on the fast track to following suit.

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The kids had a great time tearing into the presents and playing, and the grownups had fun watching and laughing.

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Sunday started with church and then running home to change and head back out the door for one of my favorite kind of parties… IT’S BABY SHOWER TIME! I picked my best friend up on the way, and I guess great minds think alike!

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My friend Jenn is pregnant with a sweet baby boy, due in April! I was so excited to rub this belly!

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Jenn’s sister planned the baby shower at a local winery – they served wine, flatbreads, and the yummiest mini-cupcakes I’ve ever tasted! It was a great time with great friends and showering baby Truman with lots of goodies!

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I’d usually try to head home early on a Sunday to prepare for the week ahead, but I had taken Monday off so we lingered at the winery for hours catching up and trying the winery’s specialty… wine slushies!

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And, of course there was laughing.

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I always have a great time with these girls. Some of us have been friends for over 20 years! It was a much needed day out and I enjoyed every minute!