craft getaway weekend

Matt and I made it a goal to give each other a weekend away each year to do whatever we’d like.

This year, I chose to host a Craft Getaway weekend at our house.  I did it several years ago, and it’s one of my favorite things.  And it always ends up being with some of my favorite people.  (okay, and favorite food… and of course, crafts.)

Bestie Lacey got to come help host – she’s the hostess with the mostest.  I love sharing a mutual gift of hospitality with her. (yay Lacey)

Blah blah blah… if you’re interested in coming to the next one (sometime whenever that is) I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.  It was an ultimate blast of treats, crafts, great friends, pajamas, girlie movies, yummy food, homemade cheesecake, good convos, antique shopping and did I mention good food?



Cheesecake. Yes please. With a side of Miss Congeniality.IMG_0145_s

Craft 1: Tote Bags


Craft 2: Reclaimed Wood Signs


Craft 3: Hand Stamped Jewelry



A little shopping before dinner…


So, if your napkin comes with a button hole in it, is it just for decoration or is it for making a bib?  Any etiquette experts out there?


… and sweet friends donated their goodies for our SWAG: the best decorated sugar cookies you’ll ever eat (and cute too!) compliments of Cay Bolin, and cutie cute hand-painted, hand-lettered signs by Lori Redfearn at Letters by Lori (check her out on Instagram).  Thank you so much, ladies, for contributing to our weekend!


Lace – thanks for hosting with me!

Suz – thanks for coming all the way from Africa just for this.

Carrie – thanks for sharing your peg people talents with us!
(Check her out on Instagram at Jubliee Pegs!)

Until next time, my ladies. I cherished each moment!

food: frozen yogurt dots

Need a fun snack idea for kids that’s more fun than another piece of string cheese? 

Take a tub of yogurt, any flavor. Fill a small plastic baggie, close it and snip off the corner. Squeeze small dots of yogurt onto a cookie sheet covered with foil. Put in the freezer. Wait.  

If your kids are old enough, they can do it themselves and it becomes an activity (aka time killer. What?) too. 

Peel the dots off of the foil and serve in a small cup or bowl and voila! 

Healthy finger food snacks for the kids – we did ours with vanilla this time, which pretty much tastes like vanilla ice cream, so they think they’re getting away with having dessert for snack. Just eat them before they melt! 

Enjoy!  Do you have any easy 1-2 step snacks that are quick to prepare and yummy? 

diy sidewalk chalk paint

Mornings at our house are for planned activities and playtime. I find that if I invest just 30 minutes of playtime with my little people, and engage with them in the morning, they are much more content to play independently later in the day. 

So our first official activity of the summer is our old staple: chalk paint. Want the easiest “recipe” ever? Here you go: 

– Chalk (Dollar Tree – $1 for 12. We only used about 4 today = 33 cents) The bolder the chalk color the better. 

– Water

That’s it’s. Really. 

Now, you also need ziploc bags and a hammer, but really, that’s it. We use recycled Cool Whip containers to hold our paint, and cheapo paintbrushes from Walmart, and reuse them over and over. 

Smash chalk in ziploc bags with a hammer. (An activity in itself) Pour chalk dust in container. Add water slowly to make a thick soupy paste. Done. 

This is one of my favorite summer things. It’s so fast, the kids can pretty much manage it all by themselves (as long as no one gets out of control with the hammer) and the mess is all outside and washable. We always have chalk and water on hand so it’s an easy one to pull out of your back pocket when you run out of stuff to do!  Enjoy!  Let me know how yours turns out. 



May 31, 2017

Today is my husband’s last day as the Forge Director at Pine Cove.  

It closes out a chapter that is 12 years long.

To be exact, that’s 4,412 days that he’s given to the ministry of the Forge.
Almost 1/3 of his life.

In ministry, you’re on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which means 105,888 hours that he has devoted to the mission of training up leaders for a lifetime of ministry.

12 years ago when we began this journey, we had no idea where it would go, what we were doing, or if it would even last longer than a year or two. We sat in a van with 12 students, driving them to their first destination and we looked at each other.  Our eyes said, “What in the world are we doing? What do we do next?”

Over 275 students later, that chapter has come to a close and I can say this:
I’m proud of him.  Exceedingly proud.

I didn’t know until this year, but one of the first things he says to his students on the very first night they arrive is, “Whatever we do, we will do together.  And you can know that you will get all of me.  You’ll get whatever I have to offer.”

And that… he has done.  He has given all of himself to this ministry.  Long days, late night phone calls and emergencies, triumphs and celebrations when his students succeeded, tough days when they failed or suffered or grieved together, thousands of miles on I-20, hundreds of miles hiked in Israel, hundreds of classes taught, over 800 office hours… hundreds of students’ lives directly influenced, and thousands of parents, mentors, mentees, relationships, marriages, children, families, ministries and businesses indirectly influenced by his investment with the Forge.

All that being said, there are two things that make me the most proud.

1. Matt leads people like Jesus did.
2. Matt leads people to Jesus.

Matt asks questions.  He pours into others’ lives, but also teaches them to think and learn for themselves.  He doesn’t spoon-feed every answer, he won’t let you be lazy when it comes to Scripture (or P2, or anything else, for that matter).  He holds Scripture and the gospel in the very highest esteem; it’s the air he breathes and he never misses an opportunity to point people to it.

I’ll be the first to say that people are drawn to this; they are drawn to Matt because the way he teaches and invests in people is unlike anyone else I know.  For a leader, this is a place of great temptation: to see your own appeal and start to think that you are the ultimate, that making disciples of yourself is worthwhile (and it makes you feel pretty good too).  But the thing I am the most proud of in my husband, is that he has resisted this temptation over and over, and continually deflects attention from himself and returns people to the “Shepherd and Overseer of their souls.”

During Jesus’ ministry, people were drawn to Him, yet He continually directed His followers to the Father.  I have watched as students and staff have been drawn to Matt, and he always directed them to Jesus. I know there are countless students who joined the Forge because Matt was there; I know most of them would say they learned from Matt, but what they learned from Matt was the most important thing: that the gospel of Jesus is above all else.

If, in 12 years, Matt has taught anyone anything, it is that.

And that, is 12 years well spent.

Well done. I love you.

Your partner in it,

craft: vintage chalkboard verse

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Like, a bazillion days ago I bought this thing at the Gresham Barn Sale.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it at the time. (this is nothing new. sorry matt.)  It used to be a pull out cutting board in someone’s kitchen. I wonder what their story was, and why it doesn’t live in that house anymore.

Anyway, I decided right away to turn it into a chalkboard with hooks.  The idea was to put a new verse on it every month or so… whatever I felt was the reminder that I needed for the month.

No, I do not freehand my writing.  Almost never.  I design on the computer, print, and trace.  So there’s that.

Psalm 145 has always been one of my favorites, so I started with that one.  And guess what?  Here we are 3 years later, and it’s still on the chalkboard.  It used to live in our garage entry in our old house, and once we moved, I decided it needed a central place in our home.  It now lives in the kitchen, right where we sit down to breakfast every morning.


I even took a picture of it with my phone, and it’s been my iPhone wallpaper for the last 3 years as well.  Why?  Because life with 3 small children calls for this reminder daily – sometimes a hundred times daily.  I actually repeat to myself out loud, “… slow to anger, slow to anger, slow to anger.”


The beautiful thing is, too, that the Lord is not just slow to anger, but on top of that, He lavishes his graciousness, compassion and rich love on us.  It’s not just the absence of anger, but the presence of these things.

It’s HARD. I want my home to be about such things.  And I need a daily reminder to do it.

Moms – what verses help you “hold it together” in life with littles?

Side note: I’ve made an 8×10 digital photo of this chalkboard.  If I made prints of it, would anyone be interested in purchasing one?

mom hacks no. 1

Or simply: Things We Do in our House to Make Things More… Simple.

1. If it’s not labeled on the toy itself, write the type of batteries that a toy requires on the outside, so you don’t go through the trouble of getting out a screwdriver only to find you don’t have the right kind of batteries. And then the kids cry.

2. Put stuff close to where you will use it.  I used to keep my daughter’s hairdo supplies  in her bathroom upstairs, then I moved them downstairs to the cabinet in the guest bathroom. Then I thought, “That’s dumb too.” I do my daughter’s hair at the breakfast table on school mornings, so this is much faster.  Weird to have hair supplies on the fridge? Maybe. Nice to have extra time on school mornings? Absolutely.  (PS – there are tiny rubber bands in the bottom of the basket.  I’ve found that the whatchamacallit popular loomy- bracelet-making rubber bands are the BEST for doing little girls’ hair.  They hold tight enough and they don’t get tangled when you pull them out.  And there’s like, a bazillion in a package, so I don’t reuse them… just trash them after each use.)

3. If you have younger kids who don’t go to school yet, pack their lunch when you pack your school-age kids’ lunches. You have all the stuff out already anyway, and then when hunger strikes, you can direct them to their lunchbox instead of scrambling to decide what to feed them.  My 4-year old starts asking to eat his lunch at like, 9:30am.

Sometimes I let him. What?

4. Lay out a week’s worth of clothes at a time. (or sometimes I do 2-3 weeks at a time if I have enough clean laundry for it.) See this post for one of my favorite school morning saving-grace projects: day of the week hanging shelves.

5. And/also… Have your kids sleep in their clothes if you know a particular morning is going to be hectic. Kids’ clothes feel like pajamas anyway, right?   We do this specifically when we know we’re leaving early in the morning for a road trip, etc.

More hacks to come as I come across them in every day life…

Any quick tips that you use to make school mornings, or just mom-life in general, go more smoothly?

craft: laundry room layout

So, I don’t like doing laundry. (or dishes for that matter)  So, I’ll do anything I can to make it better.  That includes making the laundry room, albeit small, a happy place to look at.

I  saw this idea of hanging a ladder for drip-dry laundry items, so I immediately called my antique-barn-sale friend to see if she had any for sale.  Awww, too bad.  She did. 🙂  We needed to solve the problem of our drip dry clothes hanging from the doorway; one of the things I love about our house design is that our master closet has a sliding door that leads to the laundry room.  However, it makes a bad spot for hanging clothes because it’s a walkway.

I  found these free printables on CraftGawker a while back, and the idea for the “laundry” sign on Etsy and already had the materials to make one, so those were a quick afternoon projects.

I originally wanted to hang the ladder from the ceiling like all the photos I had seen, but my hubby wasn’t too keen on all the clothes hanging over our heads in that same walkway, so after much brainstorming, this was the solution.  I had to be careful to hang the ladder high enough, and the vintage printables had to be hung with stick-on adhesives rather than nails because the sliding door recesses into the wall behind the ladder.

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I hinged the ladder in the studs above the doorway, and drilled a hole in the back of the ladder to insert a pole to hold the ladder out away from the wall. (I used a bamboo paint-roller extension pole from Lowe’s).  I also put felt pads on the bottom corners of the ladder to keep it from scratching the paint when it’s let back down from the upright position.

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I’m really happy with the ladder solution.  It’s great as a decorative element most of the time, and only gets pulled out when we need to hang a few garments.  Good compromise.

Someday, I think I’d like to paint the walls a fun color, but for now, this makes doing laundry a little less painful.

craft: wooden spool table

So, I really wanted to make a clock out of a wooden cable spool. Voila – new construction down the street, and there, stacked on top of a pile of pallets by the dumpster, a wooden spool. Perfect size.

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Brought that guy home.

Then it sat for a few weeks while I decided that our home didn’t actually need any more clocks. But I remembered seeing something like this on a blog one time.

So my little man helped me take it apart, sand it and put it back together.

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Both the big kids helped paint the sides, we attached some wheels, and done!  I love that it was originally constructed with the metal screw rods inside the wooden spool (we removed half of the wooden supports) so we could use the rods for book props underneath.  They love it!  It’s just their size.  We already had the chairs, and I already had the paint, so the whole project was $4.97 for the caster wheels on the bottom.  I love those kinds of projects. 🙂

Now I’m realizing that our playroom does need a clock, so I guess I’ll have to go find another spool. 😛

just remember…

My daughter was upset that I wouldn’t let her take her indoor toys (dolls, Barbies, etc) outside to play in the yard with the neighborhood kids.  We had a little timeout for her attitude – one thing we work on constantly is being content with what we have. (Our motto is, “be content with what you have or you lose what you have”.). 

She was upset because she wanted to have a “club” with the neighborhood kids, which really just means playing like they do every day, but with a special hand drawn sign saying “club” taped to the front door.  😛

I offered her a few options – have a club with outdoor toys, make a fun sign or invitations… She balked at those but then eventually ran off to do her thing. 

Then, I see her in the kitchen, cup after cup disappearing out the front door. Then plastic straws, then crayon and paper. And my immediate thought is, “What a mess!” 

Then… I went outside to see what she was doing. 

“I got everyone a drink so they wouldn’t have to run all the way home if they got thirsty. I was thinking of others as more important than myself.” (Another motto) 

Well, melt my heart. 

So, just remember…  We’re not just here to make sure they don’t make a mess.

Remember to cherish it, dwell in it, watch what they’re learning and praise the good things. 

Slow down and take a picture of it so you can remember the sweet times. 

mommy pto

My hubby gave me a Mommy Paid-Time-Off weekend this weekend. He was gone on three separate trips this month and thought I’d enjoy some time away from the little people in our house. 🙂 

Yes, please. 

I went to my parents’ house; my brother came up to spend the weekend too. Not sure if many people would say, “Gee, I can do whatever I want this weekend – I think I’ll spend it with my little brother and parents.” 

But I would! 

We barely made it there. It was the big Texas Blizzard of 2015, you know. But, once we were there we were iced in, so the weekend quickly changed from shopping/movie theater/out-to-eat weekend… into stay-home-and-do-nothing weekend. 

Well, maybe not nothing

A quiet drive alone…

We made it! And home cooked dinner was waiting for us…

Saturday morning Skype session to watch my older brother (deployed) be promoted to Lt. Colonel! 

Homemade sleds out of cushions, cardboard and trash bags… 

Yes, we’re in our 30s. But who cares?  It was fun. Even my parents tried it! 

Cookies, coffee and board games… 

And a QT drink for the drive back home. 🙂

Thanks, Dusty, for braving the ice with me. Thanks, mom and dad for hosting – and raising a brother that I’d want to spend time with. Thanks, Matt, (and nana and pops) for caring for our kids so I could disappear for a while. I’ve got the best hubby out there.