Friday Fave Five: Spring Break

1. Easy access to the nation’s capital

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The Cherry Blossoms are coming out in full bloom this week

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We love to visit DC. Our original plan had been to go to the National Zoo but all the parking was full by the time we got there 30 minutes after opening so we tossed out those plans and went to the International Spy Museum and had lunch along the National Mall before exploring around some of the memorials.

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Taking a rest at the WWII Memorial fountain

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We take every oppurtunity we have of climbing trees ūüôā

I definitely recommend the International Spy Museum! ¬†The kids had so much fun crawling through air ducts, learning about disguises and gadgets, and seeing¬†James Bond’s original Aston Martin. They even got to practice decoding messages with simulated Enigma software. ¬†Super cool.

2. Wonderful friends to share our adventures with

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Resting at the Reflecting Pool 

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Exploring around a lake near our house earlier this week

3. Good behavior… Little Warrior has been struggling a lot lately. ¬†He’s an extreme introvert and being at school all day really exhausts him. That, and he’s bored stiff in Kindergarten since he’s quite a poppy. ¬†So the week off for Spring Break has been amazing for his choices and attitude. ‚̧ Such a huge blessing!

4. Bible study ¬†I am privileged to study the Word of God and walk through this difficult season with an amazing group of women. We each give and take according to our season, and support one another in immeasurable ways. I can’t imagine going through life without these wonderful ladies.

5. Productivity I’ve finished a bunch of projects and been working a lot on decluttering. There’s a big consignment sale coming up so I’m purging clothes the kids have out grown to sell there. ¬†I’ve also been making sure to go to bed with my kitchen clean every night and it’s made a world of difference in my attitude when I come downstairs to start my day in the morning.

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Every week Susanne hosts Friday Fave Five to share what blessings we’ve found in our weeks. ¬†Hop on over and join the gratitude fest. ūüôā

Friday Fave Five- March 11

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Every Friday, Susanne over at Living to Tell the Story hosts Friday Fave Five. Participants share five favorites from the week in an  effort to focus our thoughts on our blessings.

1. Spring Weather  We had one last snow last Friday and it was lovely.

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I took the pups out for a hike along the river and got some lovely pictures. ¬†But now it’s sunny and in the 60s &¬†70s and we’ve been to the park nearly every day this week. ¬†Absolutely¬†wonderful.

2. Sewing¬† My friend’s daughter is learning to make a quilt and she came over this week to baste her backing-batting-front together. ¬†It looks so lovely and I’m so proud of her for working so hard on it. Unfortunately I didn’t snag a photo but will try to get a good one when we finish up the binding.

3. Audio Books ¬†I’m not much of an auditory learner but in all the craziness of life I haven’t been able to keep up with my reading like I’d like to. ¬†So I started borrowing audio books from the library (you can even download them to your phone/tablet via the OverDrive app) and even purchased a few on my iBooks account. ¬†This way I can ‘read’ a book while doing dishes or driving to and from appointments. ¬†I love it! ¬†And the kidlets love it too- they’ve already listened to Paddington and an unabridged version of Rudyard Kipling’s The¬†Jungle Book. I’ve borrowed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone¬†from the library to listen to next.

4. Swimming ¬†A friend invited me to swim at a local aquatic center with her. ¬†The moment I hit the water my soul was refreshed. Swimming is the only sport I’ve ever been any good at and it’s the one exercise that makes me feel invigorated WHILE I’m doing it. ¬†So grateful to have been reintroduced to it.

5. Sweet Puppies ¬†They bring so much joy to our life, despite their constant need to be taken to the bathroom and their propensity to chew ev.ree.thing. Par for the course for a 100+ pound puppy, I suppose. ¬†Each month they seem to get better, so that’s progress. ¬†ūüôā Ape will be 9 months old this week!

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Ape (8 months) & Shep (1 year)

Does anyone know where our puppies’ names come from? (HINT: the kids named them)

What are some favorites from your week?

Fave Five

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Friday Fave Five is hosted by Susanne each week and offers a place for us to come together and share favorites moments and blessings of the week. ¬†It’s a great exercise in gratitude!

1. Grandpa is here! Grandpa comes out to the East Coast a few times a year for business and always extends his travel so we can spend the weekend together.

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A picture from Grandpa’s visit last January, when Grandma got to come along! ‚̧

We wish Grandma could be here as well, but are grateful for all the family time we can get out here. ¬†Never take for granted being close to family. ¬†It’s a joy and a treasure that we miss dearly. (Close, for us, means four hours driving or less. ¬†That’s the closest we’ve ever lived to family. Oh for the day we could live in the same city!! ‚̧ )

2. Fun times at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

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3. A warm home as weather gets cold and wet. We’re praying for people affected by Hurricane Joaquin in the Bahamas and for people already experiencing flooding along the East Coast.

4. Happy hearts and funny words. ¬†Little Warrior had a rough week last week (he was growing and oh-so-cranky) but this week has been delightful and filled with so much laughter. He’s been on a role with hilarious little one-liners that get me giggling.

At the Renn Faire,¬†as this¬†knight rode out, he enthusiastically exclaimed , “Mom! He’s the stuff legends are made of!”

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And while on the phone with my Mum after karate yesterday, he started chocking on his oatmeal because, you know, you’re supposed to swallow before shoving 4 more bites in your mouth (did I mention he’s been growing like a bean sprout..?? Eat ravenously. Sleep. Repeat.). After dealing with the lack of oral space issue, he worried aloud, “I think my digestive track is broken”, sending us into fresh peals of laughter. ¬†As his sweet Mema assured him we were laughing WITH him, not AT him, he replied matter-of-factly, “I know. ¬†It happens all the time.” ¬†These weeks of hilarity keep me pushing on through the tough ones. ¬† ūüôā

5. Sweaters, scarves & boots- oh my!  While I may detest the cold and dreary winters out here, I sure do love getting to pull out my wellies (most comfortable shoes I own!) and snuggle up in cozy, knitted goods.

Autumn Favorites- FFF

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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!

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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:

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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.)

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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:

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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!

Friday Fave Five: Skating through the month

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Susanne at Living to Tell the Story hosts us each week to share 5 of the favorite parts of our week.

1. 3 Day Refresh.

I love BeachBody programs and this one didn’t disappoint. ¬†I lost 3 pounds but more importantly it jump-started me on healthy eating habits that I’d grown lax on over the past few months. ¬†I’m not gonna lie, I was crazy hungry the last night, but overall the rest of the the time wasn’t bad at all. Though Sunday night was hard- mostly because I ice skated for 2 hours and shoveled snow for 30 minutes on the 3rd day of 900 calories a day- overall I did not feel deprived of food because you’re consuming something every few hours. ¬†I’ll definitely be doing it again when I plateau and need something to zap my metabolism to attention.

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But once in awhile I did think of this and giggle.

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2. The Princess is loving school. ¬†This is a huge blessing. ¬†I knew she would but¬†still worried about it since she was so adamantly opposed to the idea at first. ¬†And her new teacher is great. We had an unsavory¬†experience with SoCal public schools, but I’ve been beyond impressed with the educators¬†at her school so far.

3.  An ice skating birthday party with the Princess.  It was fun to get an afternoon out, just us. And we had a great time ice skating with her friends.

We liked to think of ourselves as this…

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But in reality were more like this…

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We had so much fun I didn’t get a single picture! ¬†ūüôā

4. Hubs was supposed to be out of town all week and ended up only having to be away Monday & Tuesday. ¬†Though we do fine on our own when we must, life is always better with him around. ¬†I never sleep well when he’s away so it’s comforting to have him home. ¬†Excuse me while I go swoon. ¬†ūüėČ

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5. Finishing projects. ¬†I was able to finish 3 projects this week! ¬†I hate weaving in ends and blocking and such, so I have to plan in times to finish up all the projects I’m working on. ¬†I also cast on a fun new secret project and was able to problem solve a way to smooth out some edges that were pretty gnarly at the color switch. ¬†They’re still not perfect, but¬†a lot better, and I’ll keep experimenting to see if I can make it even smoother. ¬†ūüôā

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And bonus, I got to go on a little reading date with this sweet boy. ¬†He’s started reading chapter books and I’m having such a tough time finding age-appropriate books (he just turned 5 at the beginning of the month). ¬†We’re doing Nate the Great and Encyclopedia Brown but any recommendations would be greatly appreciated! ¬†He’s also in love with TinTin books. ‚̧

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Friday Fave Five: Freezing

 

 

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Welcome to Susanne’s Friday Fave Five where we share five blessings from our week.

With The Princess’ first week back in school being riddled with snow days and late starts, I did not get the commenting and blogging done that I wanted but small progress is progress- I did get my house cleaned and lots of snuggles in. ¬†My goal is to actually get around and comment on every body’s posts this week. ¬†ūüôā

1.  My first blessing is surviving our first serious cold streak here.  Yikes.

IMG_3326¬†The first time we went out in “real snow”, Little Warrior got snow in his mittens so his hands got too cold and he screamed bloody murder (he does that, sometimes…) for an hour after coming inside, despite going straight in to a warm bath & sitting by the fire with hot cocoa. ¬†But, after getting some new, water proof mittens to wear OVER the wool mittens, he’s gotten the hang of being out in the cold and loves it.

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They’ve mastered the art of sledding down the hill behind our house. ūüôā

2.  Finishing & mailing a bunch of knitting and sewing projects, including this ginormous one. Whew.

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3. ¬†Music. ¬†More specifically, a sound system that plays it with amazing clarity and range. ¬†Hubby wanted to use his Christmas money¬†for a sound system on our main living floor, but I said, “Honey, we really don’t need it. I just play music on my laptop.” ¬†Words I have since eaten with a slice of humble pie because I use the sound system all. the. time. ¬†I seriously can’t hear Barber’s Adagio enough on it.

And Foo Fighters and Nirvana are pretty great on it too.

 

4. ¬†Totally¬†materialistic- but my next fave is pressies. ¬†¬†I got a few amazon cards and used them to buy a few books I’ve been wanting to read before starting grad school and then a bunch of birthday presents for folks. Then I used the money I would have spent on birthday presents to get a new purse. ¬†I’ve been majorly crushing on this Marc Jacobs one, but no way I’m paying that much so I trolled eBay until finding this more affordable, used gem. ¬†I’m in love. ¬†And getting rid of all my other purses makes it¬†sort of simplifying, right?

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And my awesome, leak proof Contigo coffee mug broke so my sister ordered me this gorgeous coffee mug that I’ve also been crushing on. ¬†Squee.

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5. ¬†Time with this little nut. I haven’t had much time to myself yet because of how schedules have been working out with snow days, but I’ve definitely had more time with this little guy and he’s a different kid with big sister being in school. Back to his old, sweet self. We are both such introverts that we can happily do our own things without talking while sitting in the same room. He loves to play with the Princess and can’t wait for her to get home, but she’s so extroverted and talkative, I think it just wore him out to be around it 24 -7.

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This Dino-ologist kit has entertained him for. hours. and. hours. ¬†Even now, he’s sitting next to me meticulously brushing away plaster. ¬†Oh my heart.

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When I was a kid I used to do my school work by the fire so my Mom¬†named our homeschool “Fireside Academy”. ¬†Little Warrior decided to continue on the tradition. ¬†ūüôā

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He’s also obsessed with this carved angel and takes it around everywhere. ¬†He cracks me up.

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That’s been my week of surviving the first winter storm. ¬†We’re expecting more snow next week. Yay. ¬†Where did you find JOY¬†in the little (and big) things this week?

Friday Fave Fives: First of 2015

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Every week a lovely group of bloggers gather to celebrate our ‘Faves’ of the week. ¬†It’s an exercise in gratitude and seeing the blessings in our days. ¬†Susanne at Living to Tell the Story¬†graciously hosts each week. ¬†In case you missed it, I really need reasons to find JOY in my life these days!

1. My sister and nephew came for Christmas.  We all ended up sick so we stayed in all week and it was actually just what we needed.  A week of downtime while the cousins played and the adults drank copious amounts of coffee & tea.

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2. FaceTime and Skype. ¬†Staying connected with our families made the distance feel not quite so dismal. Though we missed talking with my older brother and his family. Hopefully, soon. ¬†ūüôā

3. Hubby is home¬†for the whole week! ¬†It’s been amazing. After working 80 hours a week with almost no¬†leave for 3 years, we are LOVING this new job. ¬†Plus, he’s got a ton of leave saved up that he needs to burn. ¬†ūüôā

4. ¬†A surprise visit from a childhood friend of Hubby’s who is a Marine now.¬†We¬†just love opening up our home, and it’s fun to carry on in my parents’ tradition of giving a place of rest to young Marines in need of space from barracks life. He’s a great guy and it was fun to connect after years of keeping up via Facebook.

5.¬†Lots and lots of knitting. ¬†I actually made my thumb¬†split & bleed¬†at one point from knitting so much to try to finish a project before Christmas (I failed, but I’m mailing it off tomorrow).

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This is the Cabled Cradle Spread¬†from Pickles but on bigger needles, with bigger yarn, and knit much longer. ¬†I’ll post more details once the recipient gets it. ¬†ūüôā

Bonus: Figuring out how to use Giphy in my blog posts:

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Because who doesn’t need more Kirk and Spock in their lives??

Happy New Year!  May the Lord bless you and keep you in 2015.

Catching Up- FFF

Each Friday Susanne hosts Friday’s Fave Five where we share 5 blessings from our weeks.

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I missed last week because we had company.  My sister and nephew were out for a long weekend, which is, of course, my first fave!

1. A Lovely Visit.  The cousins love to be together.

We visited a pumpkin patch one day

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went apple picking another (sadly, I forgot to take any pictures because we were having so much fun) and visited Starbucks and parks daily.

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Fort Smallwood has a little beach where the kids like to toss pebbles and wade in the water after running around at the park for a bit.

Relaxing and fun.

2. Speaking of Cousins, we have a new one! ¬†Our little PAL was born last week and everyone is just SO¬†excited. We haven’t been able to see her yet so I stole my mum‘s picture of this precious little one. ¬†ūüôā

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3. ¬†Domesticity. ¬†We’ve been home a few days this week so I’ve gotten a lot done. ¬†We’re caught up on the school we got behind on while family visited and I’ve cooked and baked up to wazoo. Remember how we went apple picking? Well… we may have gotten a bit carried away because we ended up with 27 pounds! So I made apple pie, tons of apple sauce, and while I was baking I figured I should make some honey whole wheat bread to go with the huge vat of minestrone soup I made.

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After sampling, I’ve concluded: 1) I make darn good pie 2) I have to change my pie recipe because.. 3) Produce on the East Coast is not nearly as flavorful as the West Coast

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The Princess LOVES helping in the kitchen ūüôā

4.  Knitting.  The weather is turning colder and my knitting is constantly with me.  Hats, fingerless gloves, vests- all being knit in abundance as I use up my stash.

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Enkel Vest by Pickles

My sister decided to sneak a picture of me¬†knitting at the pumpkin patch. ¬†Apparently, normal people don’t do this?? ¬†ūüėČ

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Also, apparently I’m the only person who thinks it’s cold! ¬†Everyone else was in short sleeves and my kids and I were¬†bundled up in boots and sweaters.

5. Health & Fitness. A year ago I was overweight and miserable physically, emotionally, spiritually. ¬†I’d gained nearly 40 pounds due to multiple failed fertility treatments and I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. ¬†So I vowed that 2014 would be a healthy year for my family. ¬†I still have a long way to go but I’m healthier and stronger each month, thanks mostly to my Beach Body programs (21 Day Fix and P90x3 for now.. I really want to try TurboFire and Les Mills Combat sometime soon, though!) and eating Paleo¬†(and apple pie, of course)¬† I love Beach Body- it’s a fantastic company with solid products.

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Left was August 2013, though I looked like this until January of 2014. ¬†The right is a few weeks ago. ¬†I still have a ways to go before I feel like myself again, but bit by bit I’m getting back into shape and I love it! Except today because I’m SO. SORE. ¬†Curse you, super burpees. ¬†ūüėČ

It’s a beautiful, sunny day so we’re finishing up school early and heading out to enjoy a hike!

Pumpkins, Spice, Autumn Delights- FFF

I just love Fall.  As mush as I miss SoCal, one thing I am excited about enjoying on the East Coast is the crisp mornings and vibrant colors.

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In honor of Autumn, my favorites for the week:

1. New Pajamas. A pen got left in a pocket, ruining an entire load of laundry.  Unfortunately, both my pairs of pajama pants were in it.  So my sweet husband went out to the mall and bought me a pair of warm, cozy flannel ones from one of my favorite stores.  Major brownie points and just in time for colder weather.

2. ¬†Ruby Red Chai Tea from Trader Joe’s. ¬†Autumn in a cup.

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3. Scarves & Boots. ¬†I hate being cold. ¬†And when it’s less than 70 degrees my hands and feet hurt. ¬† Oh, southern climes… I miss you… ¬†But despite hating¬†being cold (or maybe because of…), I LOVE bundling up in boots and scarves and sweater dresses!!

4. Thai Meatballs. ¬†Oh my goodness, these were amazing! ¬†I used peanut butter instead of almond butter and couldn’t find coconut aminos so I substituted soy sauce. ¬†Next time I’ll put the cilantro inside the meatballs instead of as garnish. ¬†Everyone in the family loved them and we’ll definitely add it to our frequent¬†meal¬†list.

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5. Cooked Apples. ¬†My kids’ favorite treat right now is apples chopped up and cooked in honey and cinnamon. ¬†They taste delicious¬†(especially with some vanilla yogurt on top) and make my kitchen smell amazing.

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Happy Autumn! ¬†Head on over to Susanne’s at Living to Tell the Story to read and share Friday’s Fave Five.

Pink Birthday Festivities – FFF

On Friday’s I link up with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story to share Five Faves that were blessings in my week.

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1. ¬†I’ve been trying to¬†get¬† up before my kids so I have time to shower and sit with a cup of coffee and my bible each morning. ¬†It really grounds me to start my days this way. ¬†I’m big into sleeping. A lot. ¬†And my son is an early riser. ¬†So this has actually been a huge challenge but totally worth it.

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A bonus was seeing the sun rise slowly in the morning, illuminating the mist that settles on the field behind our house.

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(Not a great picture… I’m really not a photographer… but it was stunning in person. )

2. ¬†I met some great ladies at a bible study I’ve recently started attending. ¬†Really awesome group of women. ¬†And two of them knit!

3. This boy’s quirky smiles. ¬†They melt my heart.

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4. My family. ¬†We’re an unusual one. ¬†We get lots of strange looks out in public and we are loud and crazy at home. ¬†But we’re so full of love.

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5. A very PINK birthday!pink bday

This big, 8 year old girl is my biggest fave¬†this week!!! ¬†She’s got such a huge, tender heart. ¬†She loves to help people and babies adore her beautiful smiles. ¬†She’s grown up so much in the last few years and I’m so proud of what an amazing girl she is growing into. ¬†I pray that the Lord will continue to mold her and shape her into a godly young woman. ¬†She truly lives up to the meaning of her name: ¬†Life by Grace.

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Can you believe how beautiful she is?? ¬†Some days I just stop in awe and tell her how gorgeous she is and she just rolls her eyes at me. ¬†But I can’t help it- she’s lovely! ¬†ūüôā

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Off to celebrate everything in high PINK style! ¬†ūüôā

Blessings on your weeks!