Elements of a Good Party – Part 1 (In no particular order)

“When throwing a party for introverts invite an extravert for entertainment…”

Set the stage. Your house should invite your guests in. Mood lighting is important people. Blinding light really isn’t setting your friends at ease it’s putting them on the spot. Light some candles and dim some lights and your guest will relax. (Candles make any room cozy just remember to blow them out when the party is over!!) Another way to create a mood with candles is scented candles. Acc-scent your evening. Choose companionable scents. I like woodsy smells in the winter and light floral (not too sweet) in the Spring and such.

Now that you’ve taken care of the lights turn on some music even if you’re only having friends over for dinner. Suddenly there is a lull in the conversation and DEAFENING SILENCE has created a awkward moment. Someone coughs to fill the silence, another is suddenly thirsty and you’re desperately flipping through your mental rolodex for the latest news bit or joke you’ve just heard.

Sitting down to an Italian meal? Pandora has great stations for that. Some of my favorite Pandora stations are: French Bistro Station, Celtic, Rat Pack… right now we’re enjoying Swinging Christmas. Anyway, music can play a vital roll in entertaining just don’t play it loud. It’s meant to be in the background not center stage.

Got questions? What do you do to make your guests comfortable? Think about it, ask it while I whip up Part 2 – in no particular order, of course.

My Boys… my boys

I’m watching them grow

from the laundry I fold

I peer into their room and see drums and a lizard

Bigger shoes and books with barely any pictures

 

When did I blink?

When did I stop buying coconut shampoo

and trade it for manly shower gels?

 

If I look closely

On their beds or under

I see Curious George with a bandaged head

A pony here and a blue dog up there

a book about Fred and Ted that was half read

 

There’s a sleeping blond haired boy

On the bunk below

With blue eyes so fair

and cheeks so soft

Perfect to sink kisses in

Just above this one

is the older son who will soon be ten

with adventure filled eyes

and feet ready to run.
The years pass by so quickly

It’s not something they just say.

You’d be wise to listen

and don’t blink.

 

This one

Blond hair and freckles

Tall and skinny

with the kindest of hearts

 

That one

Blond hair with expressive brows

Solid and gentle

Creative and visionary
How did I get them?

I’m the luckiest Mom ever

He Hasn’t Forgotten

My son Carsen has not forgotten he wants to be baptized. He hasn’t forgotten that we told him to wait. He hasn’t forgotten that we questioned him and his decision because, well, at first he wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps.

It’s been almost a whole year and he hasn’t forgotten.

This Sunday morning, because Todd and Tucker were serving in the coffee House, it was just Carsen and I in the sanctuary (do we call it that at Journey?) and he wanted to switch seats and sit on the couch, the couch that is in the VERY front row… How could I say no to a seven year old grinning and mouthing “pleeeease” as he batted his eyes up at me?

It was a good excuse to move away because someone sat behind us, I don’t know who they were, and that time to meet and greet those around you was coming up and I wasn’t feeling social so I bailed in the name of “it’s for my child” excuse. I am ashamed but I did it.

ANYWAY Carsen and I sang and it was a great moment to look down and see and hear my youngest sing songs he actually knew. Que the little hearts popping like bubbles around my head as I discretely watched him. (sigh)

We were a few feet away from the big baptismal tank thingy and my little bug tells me, “I still remember you said I could get baptized.”

My heart sinks a little. I had been putting it off ONLY because I needed to check with the family to see when everyone could make it and I hadn’t. Shame. On. Me. (I know!).

“I remember Tucker said yes to all the questions they asked him…”

Carsen has been worried that he will be asked a question he doesn’t know how to answer and that maybe he won’t be baptized because of that. My heart is drowning, gurgling on shame by now.

Continue reading

“Captured by Love,” by Jody Hedlund – Amazing Christian Fiction

I have been on a reading binge lately, putting down #5 book as I wait for “Where’d You go Bernadette,” for my July book club read to come in. I recently finished reading Christian author, Jody Hedlund’s, “Captured by Love,” which is to be release July 1st, 2014. I was fortunate to receive a copy from Bethany House Publishing to review it and couldn’t be more pleased!

 

"Captured by Love"

“Captured by Love”

First, I must say Jody is an inspiration. She writes Christian fiction of the historical romance variety, which is my favorite genre. I don’t know why I cringe to say “romance” BUT … but what can I say? I need a little romance to hook me sometimes. Besides writing my favorite genre, Jody Hedlund homeschools her five children. Yes, I said FIVE.

As a mom, as a writer AND a homeschooler can I say… WOW.

Yes! It can be done and done quite well. Though Jody makes it looks so easy. Jody has a gift of developing characters that are easily engaging both likable and not so likable. I’m amused at her ability to create scenes that envelop me with rich details that don’t drag on (you know the kind where you get so wrapped up in the details you forget what the story is about).

“Captured by Love,” is set in Michigan 1814. Pierre Durant is an American fur trader who loves the freedom and adventure his profession offers. Guilt from abandoning his mother and brother drives him back home five years later only to find the family farm in shambles and his mother destitute and alone save for the childhood friend, Angelique LaBelle, who helps with her care. Pierre is torn by his desire to return to the wild or stay and take care of his mother and his growing affection for Angelique.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book because I am fairly familiar with the fur trading life and the call on a man’s soul to return. My father is a fur trader. He is never more at home than on his trap line or paddling down a river in his canoe.

*Side note – My father has often shared that when I was three years old he took me and my sister on his trap line. The stories I could tell!

ANYWAY – Jody Hedlund never fails to build suspense or seize you with the urge to shake the characters by their shoulders in hopes to knock some sense in them. I love it! Of course, the romantic tension in “Captured by Love,” is sweetly there begging to be fulfilled. Come on Pierre! Stay. KISS her will ya! I especially love that some things are wonderfully left to your imagination and when you need a nudge Jody indulges.

As a Christian reader I respect her for the discretion. As a Christian writer I am inspired that I can write about romance and the tension that goes with it without having to cross moral lines. I encourage you to try out this talented author.

I first stumbled upon her from a tweet offering “The Preacher’s Bride,” as a free download. I have been hooked on Jody’s books ever since.

A Walk Through My Garden

If you didn’t know by now, we are an Urban Homesteading kinda family.  We have turned our front yard space into an edible garden.  My husband had to sell me on this and my only criteria was … it had to look beautiful from the street.  I had imagined multiple straight rows of vegetables planted directly in the ground.  It was NOT appealing to me in the least.

I love spring.  Our garden is coming to life and it’s so exciting to see what each new day brings.  The weather has been erratic to say the least. One day is Summer like weather and then the very next day Winter winds sweep in and we’re covering young plants at 10pm before a freeze sets in.

So, together, my husband and I came up with a plan that included no straight rows, flowers mixed with vegetables, garden art and modern idustrial-like material for fencing. I’ve posted once before when we first put the beds in so this is an update for Spring 2014.  I hope you enjoy a short walk through.  If you have any questions please ask away.  I’ll try to answer them as best as I can.

In my humble opinion, gardening cannot be mastered. It is a continual learning process.  What works one season might not work next.  What flourishes one season flops miserably the next season.  Quite frustrating (Yeah, I’m talking to you Mr. Green Beans 2013!).  We have been successful with cucumbers but yellow squash … BIG FAT F.  Just a side note –  We’ve been organic gardening for at least fourteen years.

Thanks!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s a list of what’s growing:  Tomatoes, Sugar Snap Peas, Brussels Sprouts, cucumbers, red cabbage, white cabbage, white onions, red onions, flying saucer squash, watermelons, bell peppers, patty pan squash, Kale,… Just finished with spinach and broccoli.  Going to plant green beans and more cucumbers.

When You Give a Kid a Party

When You Give a Kid a Party

When You Give a Kid a Party

I blame the white butterfly birthday cake my Mom made me for my ninth birthday.  It was decorated with colored orange coconut and bright candies.  That was the cake that inspired me to learn how to decorate cakes and inspired me to throw parties my boys would remember when they got older.

My youngest son, Carsen, recently turned seven.  (sigh)  He’s getting taller.  His legs are longer, his torso stretching…   I judge their growth by the laundry going in the wash.  Surely my boys don’t wear these jeans, the same jeans that inch their way higher.

Carsen, my Carsen, is bright and creative and sees his world through drawings and colors on paper.  He is different than his brother in his own glorious way.  My what a task it is to be entrusted with these boys!

This year CJ wanted a Minecraft Birthday. Yes, that god-forsaken game just about EVERY child is playing.  I had refused to learn the lingo — to remain detached from this one fad but alas our conversations inevitably turned to the game and the exciting adventures of Steve.  I knew I was done for when I started asking them for explanations and it only seemed fitting to do so because I was in charge of creating a Minecraft party.

Planning their birthday parties is my favorite thing to do. Enter Pinterest! BEFORE I wrote down a Guest List you can bet I scoured and pinned everything I could find on Minecraft parties and menus and decoration.  My “Party Ideas,” board was brimming with eye candy. Continue reading