Monday, September 30, 2013

31 days of abiding


I’m so glad you’re here.

What you’ll find before you is a mess of words, stories written on the page, incomplete and unrefined, but full of life. Or at least that’s my goal. Somewhere deep within I just wanted the challenge.

To write for 31 days.

To be honest, this place, these days are completely unscripted. There’s no outline or train of thought. Just a flow of words. This is for me. To get back into the habit of writing out our story. No more recipes. No more life updates. For 31 days just my thoughts on abiding, whatever that means. I’m thinking there’s a purpose here and I’m anxious to see where the topic leads.

Working out life on the page and taking you along. I’m opening my life up and sharing bits about my story, my life, my heart. Hoping you’ll come alongside and journey with me.

Hoping you’ll stay awhile.

come and abide.

{For 31 days I’ll be linking up with The Nester & working through the word abide}

Encouragement for Today {A Review}

Even before having Elizabeth, carving out time to be in the Word had been difficult. It’s not that I don’t have the time, I do, but sometimes so much life is swirling around me that opening the one thing that would help stop the swirling just doesn’t occur to me.

I know…sounds bad but I’m sure we can all relate.

There have been a couple of things that have helped as of late and one of them is the Proverbs 31 Devotional called Encouragement for Today. It’s a book filled with short devotionals for everyday living written by the Proverbs 31 team with questions at the end to help you remember, reflect and respond. I’ve read through them and they are really encouraging and thought provoking.

Short and to the point the daily devotionals are a great catalyst for further study and offer a nice morsel to gnaw on throughout the day. The devotionals are encouraging and to the point, offering a glimpse into the writers own lives. I’ve found it to be a great resource for everyday. I can pick it up, read it through, and reflect on it throughout the day. Great for my limited amount of time and very uplifting and encouraging to my heart.

Do you have a favorite devotional?

I also really like She Reads Truth.


{disclaimer: this book was given to me for review as part of Book Sneeze, a blogger review site through Thomas Nelson Publishing}

Friday, September 20, 2013


Somewhere deep down inside of me there’s a longing to do something more with what I’ve been given. Not more crafts or opportunities, not more checks off the list or more obligations on the calendar, and not more time investing in those around me.

I want to make more of Jesus. For my family. For those around me. But mainly for me, as a woman.

There are many new conferences out there for women. For bloggers, there’s Allume. For hipsterish-moms and small business owners, there’s Influence (although I’m sure that’s not how either of them would define themselves). But as much as I wanted to go to one of those, I want so much more to go here, to the IF:gathering.

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When I hear Jennie Allen talking on this video, I get little shivers up my arms and my heart bursts. I know the Lord has given me much to speak of, much to write about, much to unleash to my family and those around me. But somewhere in the past year or so, it’s been bottled up. Fear lingers and my fingers just can’t seem to get the words on the page.

And I know I want to be inspired. Be encouraged. Be changed.

And that’s why I’m hoping anyone who wants to join me in Austin, TX this February would prayerfully consider doing so. I think I may have convinced one friend to come and I’m hoping many more will join me. But even as an introvert, I have to go. Even if I go alone.

So join me or pray for me or think I’m crazy.

But Austin, here I come.

Dates: February 7-8, 2014
Location: Austin, TX

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pumpkin Swirl Bread


This weekend the air finally changed. You know when that time of year comes and even if it’s above 70 degrees it just feels different? That happened over the weekend. Our lows at night have gotten lower and there’s a crispness to the air.

To celebrate I made bread. Something that hasn’t happened in 14 months. And if I do say so myself, this bread is amazing. One of my favorite treats in the fall is the pumpkin swirl bread from Great Harvest. And this, well this is almost the same. It’s a tiny bit spicy, soft, heavenly toasted with butter,and tastes like fall.

And I happened upon the end result by mistake. Somehow in the rush at the grocery store I ended up grabbing pumpkin pie filling INSTEAD of canned pumpkin and I didn’t realize my mistake until both loaves were in the oven. Oops.

Well luckily for me the end result was better for it and from now on my newly altered recipe will be my go-to.


Pumpkin Swirl Bread

(adapted from this Pumpkin Yeast Bread recipe)

1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons instant yeast
2/3 cup warm milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups Pumpkin Pie filling
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 1/2 cups (approximately) All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Filling (mix all together in small bowl):

1/2 cup granulated sugar                                                                                      1/2 cup pumpkin pie filling                                                                                      2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


In a large bowl, stir yeast into water to soften. Add milk, eggs, pumpkin, oil, 4 cups flour, brown sugar, salt, ginger and cardamom to yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for a few minutes.

Gradually add remaining flour until you have a dough stiff enough to knead. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead, adding flour as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.  (I used my stand mixer to mix up the dough)

Put dough into an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Turn dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide dough in half. Press dough into rectangles and spread filling over rectangle. Roll up, pulling dough up to cover the ends and pressing lightly along the seam to close. Let rise again, covered gently with a dish towel for 30-40 minutes. Place on a silpat or parchment paper atop a jelly roll pan.

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven. Loaves bake about 30 minutes, rolls about 20. Check the internal temperature of each with an instant-read thermometer.

Immediately remove bread from pans and cool on a wire rack to prevent crust from becoming soggy. For a shiny crust, brush tops of bread or rolls lightly with vegetable oil. Makes 2 large loaves, or 1 large loaf and 12 dinner rolls.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Scenes from our weekend

Played with rice and made a messDSC_0016

made pumpkin swirl yeast bread


watched a modern day “barn” raising


Picked out clothing and had family pictures taken


Rolled in the covers on the floor


Read truth and books upon books


Monday, September 16, 2013

A few things I never thought I’d admit

1. Amber teething necklaces work.

I can’t believe I even just said that. I was the biggest skeptic until our daughter started teething early. And it was hard. She was fussy and unhappy and drooling all over everything. So I read a bunch, researched and decided to give it a whirl. 12 teeth later I’m convinced. Elizabeth has been wearing it for 10 months straight and teething has been a dream compared to what it was. She rarely, if ever, touches it and doesn’t seem to know it’s there. So far we’ve had VERY minimal drooling, none of this change the shirt 10x a day, no loose diapers, no diaper rash, rare night waking, some ear pulling, very minimal fussiness. She now has all four molars and four teeth on top and four on the bottom. We really only notice that teeth are coming right before they’re about to pop through. One thing I’ve definitely been happy to be wrong about! We picked ours up here.

2. I really like the color pink.

These days it seems everyone has an opinion on pink. I know a lot of anti-pink ladies and I’ve felt a little intimidated to share my love for pink but now that I’m going on 33 I feel I can really be open and honest. The pale pink of a peony is my favorite color; I think it’s incredibly feminine, soft, and gorgeous. And I’m happy to say that we’ve found a way to bring a pop of pink into our kitchen and I’m ecstatic. We’re putting this wallpaper on one tiny section of our kitchen that cannot be seen from any other room and I know that when I’m in there my heart will be bursting with joy that pink is in the room!

3. I don’t really like to dress up.

Most days I wear either a hat, nice yoga pants and a t-shirt, jeans and a t-shirt, or one or most of the above. I really like comfortable clothing for more than just the comfort factor. Hear me out. When I nannied I began to notice a pattern that if I “dressed up” (i.e.: wore something I didn’t want dirtied) I grew crabby and was less likely to play with the kids. But if I wore clothing that was comfortable and preferably still cute, as in not my husbands baggy shirts and 8 year old yoga pants, I played, ran around, engaged with the kids. Crazy huh? Same holds true with Elizabeth. So most days I dress to engage with my toddler. Besides it’s way more fun that way.

PS…I knew my husband was the one when I realized that he was ok just throwing on a hat and whatever clothing to run out for coffee or something in the morning and didn’t care when I did the same thing. I know plenty of girls who don’t or won’t do that so I was happy we both were ok with it. In my opinion, life’s too short to be observed from the sidelines in pressed pants.

So there you go. 3 random tidbits now made public knowledge.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Learning to sew

I can still remember the time my mom made me a Laura Ingalls dress for our school play. It was a dream come true to play Laura in the third grade. And more amazing was how in awe I was that my mom could sew. She sewed the dress and the apron. I can even briefly recall going to the store to pick out the pattern and then she let me have a turn on her sewing machine. I just did crazy lines of course! (by the way, the dress below isn’t the one she made but it was very similar but in a shade of blue. That’s me as Laura!)


Thinking back, I’m not sure why or why not, but she never taught me how to sew beyond just messing around. I’m thinking that it just wasn’t what you taught kids at that time. Or a more honest answer was probably that I just didn’t want to or have the patience to learn!

The next time my hands found their way about a sewing machine was in my junior high home ec class. Somehow I’m old enough to still have had a home ec class in my junior high. I’m not sure sewing a pillow, learning the basics in the kitchen, and building a piggy bank are still classes worth the time and effort…but they should be. They were really fun!

So that catches us up to right before Elizabeth was born. I’m not sure if it was the nesting or this whole move amongst mothers and women to recapture home economics, but I bought myself a sewing machine. And with it so far I’ve completed a teething rail for Elizabeth’s crib, I’ve hemmed curtains, and now I’ve made my first little jumper for our girl.

It’s nothing fancy but I wanted it finished for some fall family photos we are having done and if I do say so myself, I’m mighty proud of this little jumper. I think I spent half the time it took to sew just googling sewing videos and texting my advanced sewing friends. I learned quite a bit on how to do things and quite a bit on making things work so I didn’t have to rip out every seam! I realized halfway through that it’s a good thing I am not a perfectionist because there were a lot of mistakes, but the iron seemed to mask most of them.

I picked up a Simplicity pattern from Jo-Ann before starting and the fabric was from Hobby Lobby. It’s a very cute fine wale corduroy, perfect for fall. As a novice, this was the first time I ever read a pattern and cut out the pieces, did interfacing, and sewed a garment. Now that I am on the other side I feel pretty capable of taking on another.

Although I must add…my mother in law did the button holes (um…no mistakes can be made there) and I very hesitantly did the hem. I was a little uncertain on how to complete those but I know if I practiced a bit I could make it work.

The finished product isn’t quite finished but here it is almost done:


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

that old house

Have you ever had the chance to visit a house you previously owned or lived in? I can still remember going back years later to look at the house we lived in when I was growing up. It’s an interesting thing to go back, realizing that others have made your home their own and how the house that was really isn’t anymore.


Our old house had new paint and interesting design choices, but the bones of the house and the places where we played and dreamed were the same. About a month ago a friend let us know that our first house was back on the market.

When we moved from our house on the lake I wrote a post on saying goodbye on my old blog. It was the house Alex remodeled with his own hands, the one where so many memories were made, the one where we could only dream of where we are today.

As soon as we knew it was on the market we quickly looked it up, wondering just how it looked. And it’s not the same house. The floors, the kitchen, the view…they are the same. But someone else’s things are there. The choices they’ve made would not have been ours.

And as I pondered the memories, the changes, I realized what is really true. It’s not the house that matters but the memories that are made inside. It’s not the decorating details or the remodels or the old worn fixtures. It’s what is created within the walls that matters. The love, the joy, the laughter, the pain. All of the them come along to the next place. And even more is learned, gathered, experienced, and remembered in the new place.

We’ve lived in three places since we were married 7 years ago and each of them hold precious memories, from lake house to apartment to our current-needs-updating-split level. There has been so much life going on within the walls. A life I wouldn’t trade and it hasn’t mattered, if I admit it deep down inside, what the interior walls have looked like.

Our houses needn’t be perfectly decorated or updated or even organized for meaningful life to happen and beautiful memories to be made.

“Home. Yes, a place. A good enough, pleasant enough place ‘to put my feet up and thank God.’ When we walk in through the door, we are surrounded by an atmosphere. Although we see the ‘bricks and mortar’ first, a home is really made up of the people in it. They either give it an atmosphere or love, joy, and peace or fear, loneliness, sorrow, and anger.” p.63

excerpt from For the Family’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

The atmosphere of our home is not dependent on its walls…it’s dependent on those within it. And I’m grateful for the atmospheres that have been created in each of our homes which have allowed for beautiful memories to be made. And knowing that, I’m glad we moved on, allowing life to continue again somewhere new.

Monday, September 2, 2013

to fall in love

I still remember the day like it was yesterday. The day I stood in the Dunn Brother’s where I worked, chatting to a co-worker who once dated my now-husband, about the guy who caught my eye. And then I did what I still cannot believe I did. I emailed him asking him to hit golf balls later in the afternoon. I was never shy around guys but I don’t think up until then I had ever “asked” a guy out.

Shockingly he said yes. And after a couple of dates, I knew he was the one. Deep down to my very toes I just knew. But he had other thoughts. He sat me down over coffee and gave me the dreaded “I think we should just be friends” chat. And I walked out neither sad nor angry nor frustrated.

Instead I walked out knowing he would eventually change his mind.


I just knew he was the man God had brought into my life to be my husband. Previously I had dated two other fellows I thought might be worthy of the altar but neither relationship ended with a future in sight.

My college boyfriend of three years was my first love. And it took me almost the same amount of time for my broken heart to heal. He was a believer, funny, full of grace, gentle and totally laid back. And then there was the hometown sweetheart, friend of our family, who had me wrapped around his little finger. There was just something about him. Obviously it didn’t last long and it was all spark and no flame. But he was the other side of the college boy; determined, hard working, secure, and most importantly he played golf.

What I knew after our first real date was that the guy I happened to cross paths with in our post-college bible study was the perfect combination of the fellows who had once stolen my heart. He was the total package.


And then a few months later, while stuck in a canoe for two down a long winding river, we got to know each other fast. And to add wood to the fire, it rained the entire 48 hour canoe trip. Nothing like seeing a true representation of the person before you. And before I knew it my entire summer was consumed with the man who captured my heart.

Today we’re celebrating 7 years of marriage. And the only thing I can tell you is that I am not the same woman he married. I’m better.

And I’m better because of him.

This morning I pinched myself because this life I get to live, all the pretty and the ugly intermixed, is my dream come true.

Gina Zeidler Photography

photo courtesy of Gina Zeidler Photography

To walk alongside the one whom my soul loves…