Autumn Favorites- FFF

FFF fall leaves 2

Each Friday Susanne hosts Friday Fave Five, a chance to share blessings and favorite things from our weeks.

1. Fall Decorations

I may have mentioned how much I love Fall

happy fall yallI’m so. excited. to have my house over-flowing with oranges and yellows and reds!

Fall Flowers

2. Friends (and their kids)

We’ve been so blessed by the community the Lord has provided for us on the East Coast!  Wonderful friends I’ve hardly known a year who have kindly weathered with us some of the most challenging circumstances we’ve been through. I love the special times I get to have with my friends, as well as their kids!  I got to babysit multiple times this week and I treasure the moments with each child. And my friend, The Frugal Girl, has 3 daughters that come and spend the night pretty often with the Princess. We have such a blast together- we cook, knit, craft and laugh a lot. One of her daughters has painted me some beautiful water color paintings. She brought me this gorgeous one today:

S's Painting

3. Faithful Love

This year we celebrated nine years of marriage and he still writes me love notes on the mirror.  Today’s sweet words were courtesy of Shakespeare:

 All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

4. Fall Food

I love the way my house smells in Autumn!  Spices and baking.

On the menu today is mahi mahi in ginger curry sauce, butternut squash soup, brussel sprouts, and cooked cinnamon apples for dessert.  I came inside from picking the kids up from school and the house smelled a-maz-ing.  (Hubs had gotten home early and stayed back to manage the baking vegetables.)

Fall Food1

Lest you get a false impression- we do not eat like this every night. We may or may not have eaten cereal for dinner the last two nights because of ballet.

5. Finished Projects

I promised a peek at what’s on my knitting needles these days… I’m excited to say ‘not much’ because I’ve actually been finishing projects!  Whoo-hoo!  Binding off is a minor miracle for perfectionists. ; )

Presenting, the Sunshine Blanket:

Sunshine Blanket

Based on this blanket from The Purl Bee, I ripped out this particular blanket 4 or 5 times because I just. couldn’t. get. proportions. right. You’d think it would be easy since it’s straight garter stitch, but the yarn kept stretching as the blanket grew so I had to adapt accordingly. But now that it’s done, I’m so glad I re-knit it so many times- because it’s perfect (if I do say so myself)!  I’ll be snapping some better pictures with my friend and photographer over at B Claire and posting a pattern in October.

These are, of course, Pickles patterns. I heart Pickles.  The Chevron blanket is the same pattern my mum used for the Princess’ blanket and I just took it and standardized colors because I’m physically incapable of randomly knitted colors. The Enkel Vest is one of my all-time favorite Pickles patterns and I have knit it in nearly every size!

H's Chevron Blanket

H's Vest

These are all for my friend’s new baby girl!  I have a few minor details to finish on some presents for the big brothers (a star to crochet for the Dallas Cowboys scarf etc) and as soon as those are finished everything will be packed up and sent across the pond to England. I can’t wait to see pictures of sweet little H in her Enkel Vest!

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy all the pumpkins & apples & spices!


Autumn, Anniversaries, and Book Piles

Happy First Day of Autumn!

I love this season so much, I got married on the first day of Fall nine years ago.

wedding day

My mother-in-love sent us the sweetest anniversary gift- matching Mr and Mrs mugs with “I found the one my heart loves” written on the inside.  I’ve definitely already used them and I love them!  Perfect for the ceramic year. 

Of course, when Hubby unwrapped his, he exclaimed, “And Judas went out and hung himself! What kind of mug is this?”  I just love his quirky, hysterically funny sense of humor. It’s strange and sometimes dry, sometimes goofy… and it fits me perfectly. ❤

I have way too many piles of books around my house… and have passed the habit on to my son!  Every room in the house has at least one, sometimes more, pile of books that someone is actively reading at the moment.

What’s in my current reading pile:


Deadly Companions: how microbes shaped our history – Hubby got me this for Mother’s Day (he totally gets me ❤ ).  I’m about half way through- it’s interesting. Certainly not the best journalistic take on bio-cultural systems and disease that I’ve read, but very interesting still. From this genre, I would be more likely to recommend The Great Influenza by John M Barry or The American Plague by Molly Caldwell Crosby.

Wounded Warrior, Wounded Home: Hope and Healing for Families Living with PTSD and TBI – Only a third of the way through this one.  It hits close to home and I need frequent breaks to process.  If you or someone close to you cares for a loved one with PTSD or TBI (or both), I highly recommend it.

On Intelligence: how a new understanding of the brain will lead to the creation of truly intelligent machines – Whoa, that’s insanely long sub-title.  This was a Christmas gift from my big brother, Dr P.  I’m about 2/3 of the way through this book and have found it very fascinating.  Hawkin’s premise is that the industry’s lack of success to develop true artificial intelligence is rooted primarily in its failure to define intelligence properly. He then lays out a theory of intelligence based on neuro feedback loops, etc.  It’s a bit techy at times, but definitely still accessible to the lay person (i.e. ME ).

To Repair the World – I haven’t actually started reading this one yet.  It’s next up.

Reimagining Global Health – Fantastic book.  As with all Paul Farmer books, I highly recommend it.  This particular book is geared toward people in the public health sector and reads more like a text or compilation of articles.  For a more all-around or non-technical look at healthy systems, disease and poverty, I’d recommend one of his other books, such as Infections and Inequalities or Pathologies of Power. Pulitzer Prize winning author, Tracy Kidder, also wrote a fascinating biography about Paul Farmer called Mountains Beyond Mountains.

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God – my bible study is reading this and I’m really enjoying it.  I love all Tim Keller books, though.

I’m also listening to Til We Have Faces by CS Lewis and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell on audio book.  I listen to Til We Have Faces while I paint or knit and Hubby & I listen to Outliers in the evenings after the kids are in bed.  I definitely have enjoyed and would recommend all of the Malcolm Gladwell books I’ve read thus far!

I need to work on finishing up some of these books so I can start the next ones! 🙂  I am really enjoying audio books right now because I can work on other things as I listen. Today I’ll be having a finishing party- weaving in all the ends for quite a few finished projects and hopefully finishing up Til We Have Faces.  Tomorrow I’ll give you a peek at what’s on my needles these days.

My favorite season is ALMOST. HERE.

You guys, it’s only ONE MORE DAY UNTIL FALL.  Orange and yellow and scarves and boots and pumpkin everything– what’s not to love??

While we’re at it, let’s check in on my Autumn Bucket list…

Blogging twice a week… well, clearly not.

Painting– the dining room and living room are finished and lovely!

After being disheveled for nearly a month, I’m happy to have everything put back together

painting chaos1painting chaos2put back together

I also rearranged furniture to create more floor space.  We have this beautiful square, leather ottoman that just didn’t fit next to either couch, so I moved it to the corner, put a few throw pillows on it and voila!  Extra seating, plus board game storage.

ottoman corner

I am working on picking the color for the entry and have narrowed it down to 2 greys.  Hubby likes the lighter one- he’d rather the entire house be all beige, but I talked him into an accent wall.  Of course, I picked the 2-story one that connects the entry, living room, and playroom downstairs.  😉  I think the darker one goes better with the furniture and has a more dramatic effect, but don’t want to overwhelm the space.  Which do you prefer?


Dog training- yup! I’m always shocked at how much easier it is to train Ape- he’s so much more interested in treats than Shep!  Added bonus- my sister and nephew came out for the weekend and brought their dog, Molly. We had tons of fun just relaxing, taking the dogs to the dog beach and watching while the cousins climbed all over boulders by the bay (didn’t get any pictures- we were having too much fun!).

doggies training

Spend time in the Lord’s Word  I haven’t consistently been up every morning, but most mornings. It’s been perfect, really, that Ape wakes me up early (hooray, house breaking) so I can sit and drink coffee & have devotions before Little Warrior wakes up and careens down the stairs, starting the day at break-neck speed.  I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God and just ordered a study from She Reads Truth.

prayer corner

I also ordered this print from She Reads Truth and am SO EXCITED.

Doxology Print

We sing the Doxology to both kids after turning out the light each evening at bedtime. We’ve done this every night since they came home.  When I saw this print, I immediately knew I wanted to put it by their bedroom doors.

That’s about all I’ve accomplished on my list so far, though I have researched and selected a compost bin to help reduce our waste output and found a few places to apply for part-time work.

Now I’m off to pull out my Autumn decorations and go crazy on the house!!  😉

Back to School Bucket List


After spending Labor Day weekend camping, we’re finally able to settle into the school year.  The Princess started 3rd grade and Little Warrior entered Kindergarten (yes, there was much weeping on my part after drop off the first day– he managed to happily trot off to class without any hesitation).

For the first time in nearly 4 years, I have some consistent down time during the week.  Last Fall I had 1 hour without kids while they were in Sunday school and I sat in the sermon and a bit less than an hour when The Princess did ballet and little one was in preK.  Going from having a bit less than 2 hours a week to myself to, well, 6 hours a day, has been a huge adjustment.  I get so. much. done.

My friend, The Frugal Girl, always posts expansive bucket lists over the summer because that’s when she has time available each year.  For me, Autumn is when I can finally get my ducks in a row and accomplish big tasks.  So here’s my Fall list, in no particular order.

  1. Blog at least twice a week. 
  2. Paint the house.  Like, all of it.  I want the living area to be completed in September and the bedrooms/playroom can wait until later in the Fall.
  3. Spend at least 20-30 minutes a day training each puppy. Um, did I mention we got a puppy the last week of January?  And we got ourselves another one 3 weeks ago! They’re both Bernese Mountain Dogs and truly live up to the breed’s reputation for being the gentlest of giants, completely devoted to their family.  But even with the mildest-tempered dogs in the world, you must train them, especially when they’ll weigh 100-130 pounds!
    This is Shep Oden:
    He was 4 months old when we got him and he’s 11 months old now and the sweetest, most patient dog you’ll ever meet. I have multiple pictures of him with babies & toddlers crawling all over him– usually grabbing fist-fulls of fur– as he lies calmly, gently by. He was the runt of the litter and will likely never pass 100 pounds. I’m  completely in love.

    This is Ape Lincoln (name pending..)IMG_2095 IMG_2099He’s feisty and mischievous, and might be better suited with the name ‘Trouble’.  He loves nothing more than playing tug-of-war and chewing on Shep’s ears and tail (oh, faithfully patient Shep <3). Despite his playful ways, he certainly lives up to the gentle giant reputation and he’s a really great pup. He was the roly-poly one of the litter, and knowing his lineage will probably be a good 130-140 pounds. His paws are already the same size as Shep’s!     The kids LOVE the additions to our family and snuggle with them all the time.Shep and his boy2 Bonus points for anyone who knows why the kids named them Shep & Ape!

  4. Spend time consistently in the Lord’s Word and in prayer each day.  My bible study is going to be reading Timothy Keller’s book Prayer and I’m excited to delve into a deeper understanding of what constitutes a healthy prayer life.
  5. Begin cooking through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  This goal came about when the Princess and her friends started cooking through the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook during sleepovers (followed by one of the HP movies each sleepover, of course) and we cooked up the idea to start working our way through Julia Child’s iconic book.
  6. Reduce waste.  On multiple fronts– Reduce our food waste, which is embarrassingly high of late.  I’ll be following The Frugal Girl’s example of Food Waste Friday. Maybe if the world can see how much I waste, it’ll light a fire under my hiney to be more dedicated to using food wisely.  Reduce trash/recycle waste by being intentional about packing lunches in reusable containers and bags instead of disposable.  I’d love to get down to two bags of trash a week.  Reduce time waste.  With all this extra time it could be so easy to throw it all away.  I want to be focused and purposeful with how I use these new-found hours of productivity.
  7. Refinish the cedar chest I got at Goodwill.  I found a beautiful old cedar chest at Goodwill and lugged it home for just $30. I’d been looking for a coffee table for our book room and when I saw this I knew it would fit perfectly.  Although it is a gorgeous chest, it needs to be refinished and I’ve never been one to DIY that kind of thing.  It’ll be a learning experience!
  8. Organize and inventory our camping stuff and winter supplies.  I love camping and hope to do a lot more of it as our kids get older.  It’ll be so much easier to have everything catalogued, stocked, and ready to just pull out the camping box and go on a new adventure.
    Also, it’ll be good to easily access emergency supplies that we may need during winter storms out here.
  9. Start working part-time. Whether doing at-home transcription, starting an Etsy shop, or subbing- I will go stir crazy if I’m not actively applying my mind to something– and why not make a little moolah in the process?
  10. Train for a half marathon.  I’ve been working toward a 5K in October, but my long-term goal is to run a half marathon.  Gotta start somewhere, however slowly. 2 miles down, 11 to go!

We had a great summer filled with adventure and family.

goodbye summer 4 goodbye summer3 goodbye summer2

But as we say goodbye to summer,

goodbye summer1

I’m excited to see what the next year holds for us!

fourth of july 2015