Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Summer Time Randomness, Stewardship, And Quinoa Salad

Summer is winding down quickly and at our house this means it's time to gear up for fall.
Over the past six weeks or so, we have been going through out house room by room, drawer by drawer, closet by closet, and purging, deep cleaning, and reorganizing.
Clutter is a time thief
When there is clutter a simple job becomes complicated and when life is busy things need to be handy, well organized, and minimalized.
Where there is clutter, there is grief
Have you ever noticed the extra energy it takes to dig through a closet, cupboard, drawer, or an overfilled room to find a simple necessary object you need right away? When we have too much, peace goes out the window.  The longer I do life, the more I agree with the "less is more" philosophy, and especially as a mom of several kiddos ranging in age from eight years old to sixteen. Each child's life is filled with activity.  Our family calendar is my responsibility and  I need to be free to stay on top of our family schedule without added distractions and time suckers.
Being a good steward isn't just about the finances
Taking care of our homes, cars, and belongings is part of being a good steward. When we care about the things God has provided, we are showing a grateful heart for all of it. This includes donating or selling things we no longer need and I don't know about you, but I feel so refreshed and peaceful after a good, deep cleaning, and paring down of the household inventory. I love to donate things, but I also love to sell things we don't need and be a part of adding to the household income even if it's in very small ways. It all adds up. Modeling this for our kids teaches them to be good stewards, as well. It teaches them to "let go" of things in life that will weigh them down.  It teaches them ways to make some money when they aren't old enough to have a job yet. It teaches them organization skills. If you don't have room enough in your closets and drawers, it's time to pare down until things are easy to see, easy to grab, and easy to put away. This is our family rule. No more digging through and around things to get to what we need. If we can't immediately see it when we open a drawer, cupboard, or closet, we have too much and it's time to purge.
Managing the square footage in our home to the greatest advantage for the family overall, is also part of good stewardship.  Over the years we have changed rooms to best meet the changing needs of a growing family. What works well for one season isn't as beneficial for another season in life. Imagine wearing shorts and a tank top in winter, or a winter coat and snow boots in summer. The wrong clothing for the season doesn't meet the body's physical needs.  It's the same with our homes. There was a season our family benefitted greatly from a room dedicated strictly to school. That season is over now. The dining room table, or personal desk spaces in bedrooms fits our family well in this season.  Two weeks ago we did some major reorganizing of the rooms in our house. It was tantamount to actually moving to a new home. It was hard work, it took time and required the whole family's involvement, but the changes fit our family for this season perfectly. We feel like our home has doubled in size and I'm breathing a sigh of relief knowing that I can now begin the busy, new, season organized with a fresh, clean, house.
Stewardship in the kitchen
Feeding my family healthy meals is something I am passionate about. Excellent nutrition, excellent flavor, and excellent fun are three areas I strive to meet when I put my apron on.  I enjoy having my kids cooking alongside me, too!
The other day my creative kitchen juices were flowing again as my sixteen year old daughter and I prepared one of our summer time family favorites.
Salmon, quinoa salad, and stir fry veggies.
This is an easy meal, and delicious!  I'm all about saving time and money, so if we have a social engagement coming up, I try to combine the creation of my contribution to that with a meal I am already preparing for my family.  Quinoa salad is one of the easiest and best things to take to a potluck. It's quick and packs a tasty punch in both flavor and nutrition. 
Warning: drooling may occur upon sight or thought of it.
Tip on  purchasing salmon: Always choose wild salmon for best nutritional benefits.
I switch up the ways I prepare salmon all the time.  For this particular meal, I prepared a sauce using plenty of fresh, minced, garlic, Himalayan salt, fresh squeezed lemon juice, a generous amount of dried dill, and a touch of local honey.  I didn't measure any of it. Once I had all of my ingredients together, I whizzed it all up in my Vita Mix, and drizzled it over the salmon.  I then handed it off to the resident barbecue master AKA my hunky hubby, and he grilled it to perfection. His rule: salmon should be cooked, but not overdone. It should be tender, and juicy, not dry. He watches it carefully throughout the process, testing it with a fork frequently until it's flakey and pink, but not red.

Quinoa Salad
I usually make a very large batch of this delicious, filling, protein packed salad, so I used about eight cups of cooked, organic, quinoa. This recipe is very versatile and you can add anything you like to it, pretty much!
This time I added chicken tenders that I fried in coconut oil and seasoned with salt, sliced olives, a generous amount of feta cheese, chopped onion, sun dried tomatoes, Himalayan salt, and fresh ground black pepper.
The dressing:
1 1/3 cups pure, cold pressed, organic olive oil
1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar with the mother
4 cloves garlic
1 TBSP (preferably local, raw)  honey
1 tsp. salt
1-2 heaping TBSP Italian seasoning (or for Mexican salad.....cilantro, cumin, chili powder to taste)
1/2-1 tsp. of mustard powder or Dijon mustard (optional)
Blend dressing and mix in
This is delicious hot or cold
Other ingredient options
Shredded parmesan
chopped parsley
sliced cabbage
chopped tomatoes
taco meat
artichoke hearts
can of beans



After our delicious salmon and quinoa meal, we settled in to enjoy one of the last summer evenings of the season and our sweet grandma Golden Girl, Tessa joined in on the fun.
One of the privileges I enjoy as a mom, is shooting my kids...with my camera....as sort of a surprise attack. This one was a win for mom!


I leave you with a little puppy spam!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sing It Again, Neemaw!

Our two year old grandson spent the night with Neemaw and Papa last night.
He may be small, but he's big in personality!
Our visit consisted of a swim in the pool with his Uncle Levi, rocking out with Neemaw and falling asleep in the process, playing with all the uncles, following his Auntie Natalie around while chewing her out for making a mess out of some wrapping paper supplies, (which was hilarious very scary), watching Veggie Tales, drinking loads of water, going potty, singing songs, playing the "who's who?" game with Papa, snuggling puppies, giving lots of hugs and kisses, and hamming it up to keep everyone laughing.
The best part for me, was tucking him in at night and praying with him.....and then kissing his sweet, chubby cheeks while he laughed and hid under the blanket, then popped his head out for more kisses.
We were so busy having fun, that we didn't take many pictures, but these capture the adorableness of his essence and they were taken recently. <3
I did manage to take a picture of him after he fell asleep in the rocking chair with me. This little man has stolen his Neemaw's heart!
As I was driving him home this morning I started singing.
One of the songs I sang was
Some of the words to that song go like this:
"Holy God make me holy.  Merciful God, give me a merciful heart.  Lover of souls help me love them too, so I can be more like you. Holy God, Merciful Father, I want to be more like you. I need to be more like you. In all that I say and all that I do, I want to be a perfect reflection of your character and ways so when people look at me they'll be seeing you.  Oh Father make it true. Make it true of me today."
After I finished the song, Cooper said "Sing it again, Neemaw!"  So we talked a little bit about what the song means together. It was the sweetest moment ever, and then he requested a second time "Sing it again, Neemaw!" So, I sang it one more time, and then we sang "This Little Light of Mine" and "Jesus Loves Me" and we sang several songs all the way to his house. As soon as I finished singing one song, he would request another one.  I was thinking in that moment about my experiences and memories with my own grandparents and how they modeled their love for Jesus to us grandkids. God was very big to them and very real and their lives reflected that. Their lives reflected His unconditional love and I always felt loved and cared for and very special when I was with them. Grandpa read the Bible to us every morning when we stayed at their house. We prayed together with them every morning, and before bed.  Grandma sang little hymns to us, sometimes even in Swedish when I was really young.  The legacy my grandparents left has lived on in my heart and soul. It has given me a desire to leave that kind of legacy for my own grandchildren.
As grandparents, we have an opportunity to speak into the lives of our grandbabies and as I was singing the words of "Holy God Make Me Holy," I was thinking about how much I truly desire to be a perfect reflection of God's character and ways. The words are so profound. The meaning of each one was penetrating my heart as I sang.....and what a blessing to hear my little two year old grandson ask me to
"Sing it again, Neemaw!"


Friday, August 21, 2015

This Moment

This Moment
{this moment} ~ A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cheaper By The Dozen?

Last week we welcomed a beautiful litter of puppies into our home.
Our girl NCG's Awrey Fowl Weather Friend (Dallas) was bred with Limelite's Fly’n At The Speed Of Sound, BISS (Sonic) and together they produced a litter of gorgeous, robust puppies!
There is just nothing like the excitement of imminent whelping. For a couple of weeks prior to the due date I get busy catching a baseline temp for Dallas and continue to take her temp daily a couple of times a day until closer to puppy arrival. At that point I begin taking her temperature every two hours and it is so thrilling when we finally see her temp drop and we know labor is going to begin very soon.
My husband built a beautiful whelping box for our last litter and had it all set up about two weeks prior to the due date. We had all of the supplies ready to go in the room, and allowed Dallas plenty of time to enjoy her den and do some nesting in there.
On Tuesday of last week I was busy taking temps every two hours throughout the day. Her temperature was incrementally dropping all day long, so we were pretty sure she would begin labor on Wednesday. Early on Wednesday morning it dropped significantly.  By 1:30 that afternoon she whelped her first puppy. The puppies came every 25-30 minutes consistently and Dallas loved lapping up ice cream between puppies which helped to keep her energy and blood sugar up for the rest of her labor.
Labor slowed down a bit after she whelped her tenth puppy, which sadly, was D.O.A., but two hours later two more puppies arrived back to back, to complete the litter. She did an amazing job!
We have seven healthy boys and four healthy girls (thanks Buffi for alerting me to my number reversal) and they are just beautiful, ranging in color from light like their daddy, to dark like their mama.
We posted some photos and video we captured on our I-phones, but I finally managed to edit and upload the pictures I took during the whelping process.
If you have never witnessed puppies being born, it is amazing!!!
First puppy has arrived and she is getting ready to whelp puppy number two.


Having contractions


Three puppies on the scene!

A few hours later....

Another one emerging in the sac


Rich helping to tear the sac open

Dallas meeting and cleaning her newest addition

They all know exactly what to do and where to go, to get warmth and food.

Some of them came out already free of the sac.

Ice cream for mama!

One proud mama!
All done and enjoying the fruits of her labor.


Later on after Dallas had a bath, and we added clean, fresh, bedding.









Our little two year old grandson couldn't wait to meet the puppies. He was so excited to wash his hands and have some help from his mom while he held them. It was just precious and he was so gentile and sweet with them!
These photos were captured yesterday.





We hope you enjoyed the journey with us!

Summer Lovin'

I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I have written.
Summer is such a fun and busy time for us.  The weather this year has broken records in our area. It's been very dry and very warm, even in the month of June which is notorious for loads of rain!
So....in the evergreen state, the most visible color these days is brown.  It's strange to see our yard hosting only spots of green here and there and walking barefoot in it, is painful.  I do miss the lush, green, grass and the cool feeling of it on my bare feet, but I can't complain.  The sunny days have enabled us to get a lot accomplished, and we have enjoyed several trips to the beach with friends and family this summer.
Yesterday we had all of our grandkiddos here together for the first time in a long time. Kyla and Kendrick spent the night with us Monday night. We love having them and feel so privileged to have all of our grandkiddos close by.  Brandi and her kids came out yesterday, and Heidi arrived with Marlee a little later on. We had tacos for lunch and the kids ran around playing in the woods, building forts, enjoying the pool, the trampoline, a few games on the Wii, several rounds of checkers, and a movie or two.
My camera as usual, was busy snapping pictures of all the fun. <3
Kenny and his Uncle Levi
Kyla and her Uncle Noah having a little "Wii time"
I'm not sure if you can tell, but our family sort of likes babies
Our fifteen year old daughter managed to abduct my camera and snap a couple of pictures of Marlee and me. Thanks, Christine!
I returned the favor :)
Kyran and his Uncle Noah playing checkers
All of the aunties and uncles, and cousins together.
We were in a huge hurry to capture memories of everyone while their mamas were packing to leave, so the lighting is far from optimum, but the essence of who they are and the fun they all have together is pretty evident. :)
This is how we bathe at Papa and Nama's house!

I hope everyone else is enjoying a wonderful summer!