Friday Favorites ~ In The Kitchen

I love being in the kitchen. It gives me great happiness and satisfaction cooking and baking for my people. There are things about this kitchen that we will eventually update (I’m looking at you 1990’s tile countertops) but one thing I love is the west facing window over my kitchen sink that gets the most lovely light in the afternoons.

I also love my big kitchen towels I found at Target a few years ago, too. And apparently the dogs liked them as well and they had a grand ole time playing tug-of-war with one. Sad, I know.

But the good news is that I had to replace it and wouldn’t you know it, Target not only still had them but also in some new colors. They’re part of the Hearth and Hand With Magnolia collection. I am not a brand specific person, I like things that are well made, affordable, and do what they’re made to do, but I will say I haven’t bought any other kitchen towels since I found these.

I also found some napkins at Target because wouldn’t you know it, when the pups realized how much fun kitchen towels are they had to give napkins a whirl! We’ve had the majority of our cloth napkins for at least a decade but my favorites were some Pioneer Woman sets I got a few years ago. I liked the colors and they had the right texture to them. The way a napkin feels is the deal breaker around here so I am always on the lookout anyways but after the kitchen linen olympics with the dogs it has become more of a priority. I loved the color and subtle pattern to these sets, also done by Hearth and Hand, that come in packages of four. They also have some solid colors but I was drawn to these because they seemed so summery without being obnoxious.

I’m really excited about this next Friday favorite because it’s a book! A cookbook to be exact. I have been wanting to make a sourdough starter for a long while but the two times I attempted it I questioned what I saw and smelt happening and ditched the efforts. I have friends that tried it years ago and ended up basically giving themselves food poisoning and they are accomplished cooks and bakers so I am treading lightly with this kitchen adventure.

However, in our farm quest Rob came across a youtube channel and sent me a link to a few things knowing I would like it. The Prairie Homestead is just a well done online space for all things farming and homesteading. What I have found so engaging about their website is how easy it is to follow and understand…they present things in a way that makes you feel like they are just like you; and that you can do what they do. They seem normal, not like polished professionals and I mean that in the best possible way.

One of her videos was a tutorial on sourdough starter and I loved watching it. Next thing you know, her cookbook landed in Rob’s Amazon cart and then it arrived on my doorstep. It’s like magic, y’all 😉

I can’t wait to get back from Florida next week and start my starter! I will keep y’all posted on what I am sure will be my success. (Said totally tongue in cheek…I fully expect some bloopers because that’s the way I seem to roll.)

The last item on my list to share with you today is the reason my blog will never hit the big leagues, friends. Because y’all are going to love this dish and somebody is going to wonder where I got it, how much I paid for it, and how big is it. And I can only answer the first two questions.

TJ Maxx and $12.99

If you pushed me I might would say it’s a two quarter but honestly that is information I never paid any attention to. But isn’t it so pretty? Microwave, oven and dishwasher safe too! But sadly, not driveway safe. I had a companion dish that was oval shaped that met its demise, along with the English peas it was carrying, on our driveway one Sunday morning as we headed to church.

So there you go, friends, a few of my favorite things in the kitchen right now. What are some of yours?

Have a great weekend!


Friday Favorites ~ Color Bombs and Pig Roasts

The last two weeks have been full, y’all! Monday a week ago a sweet family from Friday came into to town for a visit, which was delightful, and they left on Thursday. On Friday Sarah and Devon came into town for the long weekend; we haven’t seen them since the engagement and it was so good to have them here! Her ring looked pretty in the facetime call we shared after he proposed but it is so beautiful in person.

Hays is going to do their official engagement pictures next month but they let me do some silly fun ones while they were here.

Some of you might remember the color bomb session Sarah did with two of her nursing school buddies when they graduated. We used powdered tempera paint for that and the colors were fabulous! The only thing we could find (totally our fault since it was a spur of the moment shoot) was an actual color bomb set from Hobby Lobby. The color was not as vibrant but Sarah and Devon still had fun!

And messy. They got a little messy.

The way he stalked her across the field was funny. You can tell from the tilt of her head she was trying to talk him out of it.

You can also tell she knew she wasn’t going to be very successful.

In the end it was hard to say who won the colorfest but it is safe to say these two are quite happy together. And we couldn’t be happier for them.

Because we were just messing around I asked Rob to use the drone and we caught a few cute pictures with a bird’s eye view. I still have a steep learning curve with it but I am enjoying it!

This week we had another overnight visit with some friends from Florida. It was so good to see them! It is amazing how much children can grow and change in six months. This afternoon Emily and Hays are coming to stay the weekend with us. I love the times when we are all together but that is harder to make happen with grown children with jobs and responsibilities so I will be grateful for weekends and little getaways whenever they can make it happen.

Have a happy weekend, y’all! We will be celebrating Pentecost with a Cochon de lait at church. (Ko shawn de lay is cajun for pig roast.) We plan to feast and fellowship bigly. Come on and join us!


Last weekend started off low key but with plenty of work to put our hands too. Rob and Sam worked really hard to dismantle the horse ring left by the previous owners. I literally climbed on the counter in my bathroom to get a good view of them because Sam was using power tools for the first time 🙂 Rob and I took the drone up for a few minutes before they got started because we want to document our progress as we work the land.

Dinner Saturday was delicious and right in the middle of it I looked up to see Emily and Hays pulling into our driveway. It was a lovely surprise for Mother’s Day! They also gifted me with some homemade vanilla that I cannot wait to use.

Sarah and Devon sent me the absolute best card along with a beautiful new addition to my Willow Tree figurine collection.

Rob and Abigail, Sam and Claire gave me the one thing I have wanted for literally years and years and we finally have the best place for it here…a swing to hang from one of our beautiful oak trees! I can hardly wait to sit in the mornings with Rob and drink our coffee together.

Speaking of coffee, my sweet friend and I went to a really lovely bakery in Lake Charles called The Bekery as a way to wrap up a book we’d been reading together. The food was scrumptious and I enjoyed a yummy lavender and honey latte. We are already planning our next read and decided this will be our tradition every time we finish a book.

Another favorite this week is this book.

We are looking for ways of using our property instead of selling parcels of it. Currently we are researching raising chickens and/or pigs and cultivating a flower farm. I am more excited about laying hens and their beautiful yard eggs rather than raising meat birds. And I like the idea of pigs more than meat birds for some reason. But I am positively delirious with joy at the idea of a flower farm! I almost always have fresh flowers in my house and if you pay any attention to my photography it’s easy to see how much I enjoy floral photography. I have a lot of reading to do to be able to really make things thrive in the ground here but I’m eager for the challenge.

Currently we have a huge blackberry bush growing and producing like gangbusters so I know the land can be fruitful. Trying to harvest ripe berries earlier in the week earned me and Emily some scratches but no pain no gain, right? Totally worth the yummy hand pies Claire baked yesterday. There are a ton of almost ready berries and I realize I am going to have to check it daily if I don’t want them going to waste. It’s already frustrating because of some of them are out of reach already but the bush is so beautiful.

Since we are talking about sweet treats I am going to wrap up this week’s Friday Favorites post with a link to a recipe I made a few weeks back for church. My mother shared it with me years ago and until recently I had forgotten all about it. For some reason the original recipe was called Italian Bakeless Cake which just doesn’t sit right with me. I have no idea what is Italian about it but the weirder thing to me was calling it “bakeless” which is just an odd sounding word to me. I promptly made it Italian No Bake Cake but no matter what you call it just make sure you get called to the table to enjoy it!

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Friday Favorites – Puppy Edition (From my Phone)

Rex and Louis.

They are such a pair! Full of energy, mischief, and mayhem. But my goodness, we love these little guys! Rob probably not as much because the amusement of puppy antics wears thin for him rather quickly but he does say he will love the dogs they are going to be 🙃

They used to be so little!

Now Rex is about 30lbs and Louis is 26lbs. When I walk them by myself that is a whole lot of puppy to handle!

They are so funny though. One of them will find a stick or something (anything really and I do mean anything 🤢) and they will let just enough hang out of the side of their mouth so the other one can see it. Then the fun begins! The one with something will deliberately pass into the line of sight of the one who does not have something and the shenanigans start.

Looks like an episode for dogs gone wild or something but it’s not a cigar I promise, just a stick.

Tug of war is a favorite pastime of theirs. And so are bubbles which just makes me laugh watching them.

We do spend a lot of time with them outdoors and Rob built them a dog run of sorts that I affectionately refer to as the play pen. Our yard is plenty big so we take lots of walks, rain or shine.

A stunning selfie of me in my raincoat and what you can’t see are my wellies. Whoever invented rubber boots has my deep heartfelt gratitude.

We are working to having them in the main part of the house which they love. They are such social creatures and really want to be with their people. They are finally past the initial excitement of being inside and needing to explore and sniff every inch of everything and will actually settle down and rest inside in whatever room most of us happen to be in. That does tend to be the kicthen most often and they get quite curious when I’m cooking.

They still like watching the horses. As they have gotten bigger they have gotten braver and will bark at them. They horses pay little attention to them.

Poor Lucy…she is great with child and due to foal next week. I figure that even though I have been watching and waiting and waiting she is probably going to give birth while we are in Monroe for the wedding :-/

So that’s the puppy update. It’s funny to me that we now have two cats and two dogs and Rob is also planning on getting chickens. (We will put them in a veritable fortress to protect them from the pups.) The girls are still trying to convince Rob we need cows but Claire is hoping only a milk cow. No way does she want to raise her future dinner 😉

Have a good weekend, y’all!

It’s The Weekend, Y’all

We have friends coming to visit us from Florida tomorrow and we are so excited to see them! We have settled in and found a home here so much faster than we expected and it gives me much joy to introduce my Florida people to my Louisiana people. They will even get to be here for church on Sunday.

In somewhat related news, Emily has just about all of her stuff out of the apartment so I will take today to wash linens and get the space ready for Al and Mary to stay in. Bless her heart, Em has been driving back and forth a lot between here, Monroe, and Pensacola and I know she is ready for the wedding and to finally get settled. I am excited for her but at times it also makes me sad…somehow I wasn’t quite prepared for how quickly we arrived here and I naively thought because I had already gone through having a daughter move out that I knew what to expect. I didn’t, mainly because when Sarah moved into her apartment she was still only 20 minutes away. I’m adjusting though. Being mindful that this is the normal and right way of things. It helps that Hays is such a godly young man and I know he will love Emily well.

And this brings me to the first of this week’s Friday favorites. When we were in Monroe for Em’s birthday we were talking about how difficult it has been for my very homebody child to basically be living in limbo since our move in November. She knew she wouldn’t be here with us in Sulphur for long so it really hasn’t become her home in a settled sense. She also knows that despite Hays moving into the apartment they will share and being able to decorate and set it up that that is not yet her home either. Throw in trips back to Pensacola for wedding dress fittings and meetings and you can see why she is just sort of over it. I joked something about her being a woman without a country and Hays quipped back without any hesitation that she does indeed have a country, she is just waiting on her visa. Y’all may not find that as funny as I did but it really made me laugh. I think he might be ready for the actual wedding to get here too.

Here are a few favorite images of some yellow tulips I had recently. I love tulips, don’t you? I love flowers in general and cannot wait for spring to get here so I can start playing in the dirt!

Another favorite thing I came across this week is this cartoon. I get confused by all the texting abbreviations and this were quite funny to me. I think my favorites are ROFL and MOG.

The article I was reading about the cartoonist also used the word pithy and that fell into the favorite things category too. Sarah just returned from a trip to England and one of the biggest things she noticed was the differences between the way Americans speak and the way the English speak. It was more than the obvious accents; she said they just use nicer words in general and sound so much more pleasant. They probably use the word pithy more than we do.

Last favorite thing for this week. You can go here and get the recipe for a delicious sweet treat that I took to the superbowl party we went to last Sunday. This cookie dough dip is made with cream cheese and melted brown sugar and butter and is just so tasty and a little unusual from normal sweet treats. You should make some.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Fly Away

I took this series a few years ago. I remember walking out to the car in the early morning fog and hearing all of this noise and not seeing anything at first. But then as I looked over the trees I could see the birds. I’ve always been fascinated watching flocks, the graceful way they swoop and move as one. I wasn’t sure if I had time to grab my camera but I had to try. They started to fly away just as I came back outside.

Not Going To Waste It

The weather this week has been so wonderful! My windows have been open and I have found myself finding reason to be outside frequently.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been to the beach or near the beach for a variety of reasons like photo shoots or dinner to celebrate buying our home.
But I haven’t been able to stop long enough during those times to enjoy my happy place.
So today one of my best girlfriends will drop her son off at school while I drop mine off at the school and we will head to the beach. With packed lunches and cameras in hand we’re going to wander the fort, feel the breeze blowing, lift our faces to the sun, and put our toes in the sand.
I realize this glorious autumn weather we’re having probably won’t last…we live in Florida after all.
But for this day I am going to savor it…rejoice in it…and not waste a single ray of that autumn sunshine.

Sam’s World ~ A Little Clarification

boy autism spectrum sams world

I’d like to clear up, or rather clarify, something I said in my post last week.

This may surprise people and may even anger some but I don’t care about a cure. I’m not really interested in knowing a cause.”

I’m not taking back what I said but in and of itself it could be taken the wrong way – as if I don’t really care about my son. The road of autism is pretty broad and those words, not quite filled out, could make someone who is walking that same journey on a different part of the path feel like they are doing something wrong if they are concerned about a cause and a cure.

For us, for Sam, we live with the reality that he was born autistic, he is autistic, and he will be autistic. It is a true truth fact. It doesn’t mean that we haven’t second guessed what could have caused it. Was it the restoration paint job Rob was working that exposed us to lead paint during my pregnancy? Is there any connection between my gestational diabetes? Looking at great grandparents, specifically our grandfathers, is it a genetic thing?

It also doesn’t mean that I haven’t wondered in the quiet of my own mind and heart what Sam would be like as a typical thirteen year old kid. But I rarely go there because I just can’t see him any other way…his quirks, his issues, his struggles, his sense of humor, his uncanny way of speaking so simply and his plain insight, all of his strengths and weaknesses make him who he is and whether that is all due to his autism or not really doesn’t figure. It’s who he is.

Autism isn’t the definition of who he is…it’s just part of who he is. Like I have green eyes but that doesn’t make me who I am it’s just part of who I am. And if I am so focused on trying to cure this part of him then I run the risk of missing out on who he is. And, in the words of his father, “If I had a normal kid I wouldn’t have Sam. Sam is more…Sam is Sam.”

boy autism spectrum sams world

The are two other considerations I have about the whole cause and cure subject.

First, there is a ton of money and effort being put into what causes autism and finding a possible cure. But there is precious little in place for autistic adults. My son may not do it exactly the same way but he is doing what every living creature born on this planet does ~ he’s growing up. And if all of our energy is focused on one small percentage of time that makes up a human life then there is almost nothing left to help him or families with autistic adults cope with the post infant and adolescent world that we will eventually live in. We’re already experiencing this to a certain degree and he just became a teenager. (Side bar: There is no doubt that early intervention makes a tremendous difference with autism. I am all for putting a structure in place that meets the needs of the family with a young autistic child. But I think more needs to be done to help and assist those same families as their child grows.)

My second consideration may seem wonky and disconnected at first.

90% of all pregnancies with a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome end in abortion. What do you think will happen if a genetic cause is ever discovered for autism? Our society views any form of disability as a detriment and value of life is balanced on the razor sharp edge of quality of life determined by some obscure feeling or humanistic reasoning. Anything not normal, not typical, is a liability and we are not a people that tolerates the burden of imperfection well. But the value of human life is in it’s being…it’s very existence as the image bearer of God.
boy autism spectrum sams world
Sam’s life, autism and all, is not some tragic burden but a constant source of delight for our family. The struggles and difficulties are legit, and at times, exhausting. But he is worth it…just as he is. And we know that God will use Sam to display His glory in a way that is enhanced by his autism.

Now, all that said doesn’t mean that we don’t do things to work with and improve life for Sam. While we
may not be looking for a cure we do want to help him connect and be a functioning productive part of society. There are things, like discipline and therapies, that are of great benefit and they should be utilized as much as possible.

If you’ve spent any time on the blog at all you know we do a gluten free diet with Sam. (You can read more about why here.) Since last year I have come across two websites that are quite helpful to those who do gluten free regardless of the reason. What I really like about them both is that they share brand names that are easily found and accessible.

This first link is really a link to a bunch of links. The food stuff is listed by category though so it’s easy to navigate.

The second link is to a really great gluten free blog. The Gluten Free Spouse has a really great list of normal everyday brands that are gf. Like off the shelves of Walmart or Publix kind of brands so it’s really helpful.

This week’s Sam story is a food related funny from several years ago when we were introducing meat into his diet.
Rob: “Sam, why won’t you try this chicken?”
Sam: “Because it’s made out of meat.”

Made perfect sense to him.

The Great Winter Storm of 2014

In case you somehow missed it, it’s been pretty cold in these here parts. Like, seriously cold. Honestly, I didn’t mind it at all. I loved the unexpected three days of having the kids home.

Not so much the power going out for almost twenty four hours and therefor no heat except for our fire place, but even that was great fun. It was family time with no technological and electronic interruptions. And we had kind friends who had us over for hot cocoa and a nice warm visit. The kids delighted in playing dark hide-n-seek the evening we lost power and it was hilarious for me to sit by the fire and listen to them play. Sarah, as it turns out, has amazing staying power and does not easily give up her hiding spot even when she hasn’t been found for fifteen minutes. Emily declared she had to brainstorm and needed quiet while trying to figure out hiding spots, Abby just quietly pondered and whenever she came up with a spot would go check it out. Samuel enjoyed playing the scaredy cat and Claire would just pace around the living room and ask everyone to go with her to search. I did draw the line at the Gollum  impressions. There’s just something creepy at hearing that voice saying, “Come find me, my precious” in the dark.

We put the fire place to good use. Not only to keep us warm but we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, something the kids have begged to be allowed to do since we moved here. And Sam also got his wish to sleep in front of the fire all night.

Rob kept the home fires burning literally just about all night. It was still cold but we all stayed cozy and fared better than most have in history before all of our modern conveniences, and still better than others today. It gave us an interesting historical perspective on some of our favorite books like Little House on the Prairie and Keep the Lights Burning Abby.

The kids and I went for a walk and even though we didn’t get to play in snow since we mostly had just ice, we did enjoy the magical beauty of everything being encased in ice. There may or may not have been some slipping and sliding on drive ways and icy patches of grass, or icicle harvesting from neighbor’s mailboxes and garbage cans. Regardless, it sure made the house feel pretty stinking warm even without the heater when we got back!

It was a lot of fun and an adventurous story for us to look back on in years to come that will start with, “Hey remember when…”