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September 2013
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November 2013

thirty days of thankful

I have kept a spirit of gratitude throughout the year with my 52 Gratitudes project and it has been wonderful. Last year, I joined Cathy Zielske in her challenge: 30 Days of Thankful, project and my plan is to join her again this year. Because I'm already participating in a gratitude project I'll just ramp up my thankfulness and gratitude completing an extra gratitude each week in order to complete both projects.

God is so good I'm sure it won't be a problem.

This year, instead of using Cathy Z's pre-made 6x6 album I am creating my own templates but which are very similar to Cathy's (as you can see above with the Title page). While I am making a 6 x 6 album for the 30 Days of Thankful project, I will continue each week with the 4 x 6 template for my 52 Gratitudes.

Most of the days of gratitude will look something like this:

...and if you perused Cathy Z's templates they are pretty close to her format - but I'm not a graphic designer and creating templates is still not easy. Between now and November 1st I would like to figure out how to make my text box even on both sides. I've taken one of Cathy Z's classes and I'm pretty sure she has instructions for something like that in her class I'll need to go hunt down.

But, back to gratitude and thankfulness...

I'm really excited for this project again this year. I'll get them all printed and put into a 6 x 6 album the same as last year too, so I can pull it off the shelf and be reminded of God's goodness.

sausage, biscuits, and gravy casserole.

Sooo good!

I've been serving up in the children's ministry (Elevate) at my church for a couple months now. I work as a greeter, mostly signing in visitors and new kids coming to check out Elevate. It's administrative type work and we sometimes get to play with crafts because we're tasked with busy work - getting crafts ready to give to 600+ kids (over 5 services).

I'm serving alongside several people from my small group so I've gotten to know them well - and it makes serving extra enjoyable.

And they've gotten to know me too!

And my love for trying new recipes.

So, when the Sunday morning lady, who normally makes Sunday breakfast for all the volunteers had to quit I was asked to bring a breakfast dish one Sunday a month.

Ok, I could do this. Not a huge commitment. And we were already up on Sunday mornings getting ready for serving. I began scouring the internet for breakfast dishes. I happened on a biscuits and gravy casserole that looked amazing and super simple - hello! Amazing - check. Simple - check.

It was a big hit!


1 lb hot, Jimmy Dean sausage, fried, drained, and crumbled
1 package Pioneer Peppered Sausage Gravy Mix + package directions
3 cups, sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sage, rubbed
1 can refrigerator biscuits, like Buttermilk, Flaky, or Buttery

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.  Cube the biscuits
into 1/2 inch pieces and layer in the bottom of the greased dish. Scatter the
the sausage over the biscuits and cover with the shredded cheese.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, and seasonings. Pour over biscuits, sausage and
cheese. Prepare gravy according to directions. and pour over the top of the

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.

And of course I made a recipe card for my kids' recipe book.

10 things right now | jarrod

Right now you are, for the most part, the chef-in-training, four nights out of the week while I am at work. You do most of the preparations and cooking (unless I've done it before I go to work) for you, John, and Daddy.

Right now you love, and always are the first to request me to read aloud your American Literature latest reading, and your American History readers.

Right now you love wearing your jean overalls and mimicking your dad (as he loves to wear his to work 'construction'.

Right now you always make me a cup of coffee and you always ask if you can have a cup of coffee too. Sometimes I say yes and you tell me you "love this rule".

Right now you have to be reminded to include 'more' information on your answers to questions in every subject because you have the tendency to answer with as little information as possible and that is sometimes, most of the time, not sufficient to answer the question.

Right now you are a Life Scout, excited about upcoming camp outs, settling in to not being in a leadership position after your Senior Patrol Leader stint, and enjoying the break; although, you were recently tasked with Troop Instructor along with your brother which you are well suited for.

Right now you are having to sleep out in the little tent in sleeping bags because you didn't get your room cleaned - again. Hopefully, sleeping on the ground instead of in the bigger tent and with cots, you 'learned' something this time.

Right now you are a hoot to be around.

Right now you like drawing swords and weapons on your school papers. Some call it doodling. You've always doodled and you still do.

Right now you come to me to discuss spiritual things and I love it. When we pray in church and daddy and I hold hands, each time you reach over and place your hand on top of ours. I love that connection and your simple act of vulnerbility and humility is inspiring.


10 things right now | john


Right now you do the majority of your schoolwork curled up in a blanket on the couch or chair in the living room. Sometimes, you wear a hat and gloves as the cooler temperatures have come in.

Right now you are reading Rick Riordan's, The House of Hades; book four in the series. You love anything mythology related.

Right now you only help your brother with dinner if you're told to. Guessing it's not your thing.

Right now, at 16 years and a couple months, you still play with Legos and Nerf guns, and you enjoy comic books and associated video games.

Right now you enjoy eating Panera Bread bagels for breakfast, Asiago Cheese or Everything, with Chive and Onion cream cheese. And you take copious amounts of cream cheese so when I go for the cream cheese for my bagel there isn't much left. I laugh at it because I understand the draw to both the bagels and the cream cheese.  I try and buy enough so we can share.

Right now you are taking American History, Biology, Bible, and Art 3D in homeschool co-op and all your teachers, Mrs. Liz, Mrs. Ginger, and Mrs. Jes all say you are a joy in class and that you always participate and give insight into your studies. I was talking with Mrs. Ginger the other day and she got this big smile when she talked about you. And Mrs. Jes loves reading your writing assignments with your biblical insight.

Right now you do alot of service acts, from Boy Scout related community service, to serving each weekend up in Elevate (kids ministry) in the technical booth, to working beside your dad building the Journey set.

Right now your favorite food is homemade tacos. Well, it's been homemade tacos for years. But, you love family homemade pizza night too.

Right now you struggle to keep your room clean, you don't really like chores and procrastinate doing them, and you can get really mad and raise your voice. But, more often than not, your just a really cool kid to be around.

Right now your favorite part of homeschooling is when I read your American Literature books and your American History readers aloud to you and your brother.



project life | week 43

Wow! Week 43 documented. I love Project Life! If I don't ever scrap again any other way (which isn't going to happen - but if...) I want to continue Project Life. It truly is the photos + the stories.

I kept this week super simple - as per my usual - using elements and papers from Paislee Press's Day Planner kit. Little to no embellishments - just the photos and the stories.

When I ask Jeff to get pictures he does pretty darn good about doing just that. I was able to highlight fully their Saturday filled with working for the Lord by building Bethlehem for our church's Christmas production - the Journey (which is coming up in the beginning of December).

Another week down - and this week I completed quickly, just a couple of hours and called it good. Having it completed on Monday means I can concentrate on documenting the current week. Let's see how this goes.

homemade taco seasoning mix

I have been wanting to make homemade taco seasoning mix for a long time now. We stopped purchasing the packets of seasoning for taco because of the 'nutritional value', or lack thereof and we've gone to adding fresh seasoning to our meat for taco salad, or hard-shell tacos. This is usually cooked by the boys now that I'm working on Tuesday's (which is our Mexican night). This also means that seasoning ingredients end up being different every time.

I visited the Fresh Market last week with the express interest of buying mexican-type seasonings in bulk so I could make a batch of homemade taco seasoning mix.

When I opened these seasoning packets up - man, the aroma was decadent! I can't wait to taste the mix now. One spice I was super excited about adding to the mix was a Mexican oregano leaves. Whenever I watch a cooking show and a Mexican dish is in the works it is Mexican oregano leaves we're told makes a world of difference - so we'll see!


Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix
recipe slightly adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

4 tablespoons of dark chili powder

1 heaping teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano leaves

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 tablespoons ground cumin seed

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, stir together all of the spices. Store the seasoning mix in an airtight container like a glass mason jar.


And of course, this mix will be added to the Kids' Recipe Book. I know the boys will definitely want the recipe in theirs.


coffee table book | revisited

I'm writing a book. Really, just a memoir of sorts about my history with meteorology. It is a coffee table size book of photos taken by me (and maybe one or two taken by Jeff) of clouds. I haven't written anything in a while - the busyness of life mostly - but I thought I'd share a couple more pages I've completed of the clouds and the stories - my stories. You can find the other posted pages and stories here.

Clouds: Cirrostratus

Story: "When I completed observing school in the dead of winter I headed to my first duty station - Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. The thing about being stationed at Offutt AFB, for a weather observers is, generally, and this is what happened to me, you work in no place to see the sun, let alone the clouds. Instead, I was working the old hangar that had built the Enola Gay - the airplane used to drop the Atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan."

Cloud: Altocumulus

Story: "I worked at Air Force Global Weather Center, or AFGWC. It basically was a map factory. AFGWC created weather charts that were then distributed throughout the Air Forces' weather stations. The only time I really enjoyed my job was when I assisted the Severe Weather Forecast section. Here, I plotted observation reports, especially severe weather reports. These, in turn, assisted the severe weather experts in issuing weather warnings and advisories for the entire United States.

Clouds: Jet Cirrus and/or Contrails

Story: I left Offutt AFB map factory for another map factory in Europe at 2nd Weather Squadron in Vogelweh, Germany. I garnered experience in hand plotting local area work charts for weather forecasters. While in Germany I was transferred to Zweibrucken Air Base and was afforded the first opportunity to put my limited observing skills to work and was able to learn the fine art and intricacies of weather observing. I found I enjoyed weather observing immensely but my opportunity would be short lived as I would head back to Offutt AFB in early 1986."

So, it looks like my journaling needs some grammatical work before it is sent to print - which isn't for awhile yet anyways. This book has been placed on the back burner with only a page here and there completed as I find the time - and the perfect cloud photos. Since beginning work full time again I've acquired quite a few beautiful cloud arrangements so I think I can write a few more pages soon.


project life | week 42

I think I'm back in the groove and I'm lovin' it.

I still love this project immensely and I see myself continuing to document our lives this way for years to come.

This week, as usual, I kept it super simple using mostly the Seafoam edition of Project Life with some 'matching' additional 3 x 4 journal cards in my digital stash. I also revisited a favorite technique of titling the photos, adding a dividing line, and a short journal piece. It just means I don't need to play with embellishments as the journal 'spot' becomes the embellishment. Fun for me!

I got a kick out of catching John and Jarrod all bundled up, in the house, doing their homework...and those gloves...what a riot! They are such silly gooses sometimes. And sure do make me laugh out loud.

Another busy weekend here at the Bowers household with lots of serving opportunities. Nothing was down to right our bedroom back into order and put the living room back together. Oh well, there is always next week.

fall diy projects # 1 | gold leaf painted succulent pots

On my Autumn Manifesto is complete my fall diy projects (list). This past week I checked off one of those projects. I made gold-leaf, painted succulent pots. Now, I just need to plant the succulents.

The pots are painted in the teal family to go in our living room.

They were pretty easy to make. Although the gold-leaf was messy and not necessarily compliant at all times. I really didn't follow the directions on the gold-leaf package, but it worked out ok. Here's what I did:

1) I purchased four different sized pots with their bottoms. They are all on the small side and I like that I found a pot that was skinnier at the bottom and taller.

2) I picked up paints from Michaels. I just used Folk Art because they were the acrylic paints that were on sale. I love Martha's paints but her's are so expensive (even if on sale) and these are just flower pots.

3) I wiped down the pots, allowed to dry and then painted each pot and its bottom the same color. I was on the edge using the gold leaf because I saw another set of pots on Pinterest that painted the geometric shape using the paints and leaving some of the pot terra cotta and I thought that looked cool too. But, I wanted to tackle a fear also - fear of trying something new, using something I have no idea how it's going to turn out. So I went with the gold-leaf.

4) I used just one sheet of gold-leaf for the geometrics on the four pots. Using a straight edge from my craft stash, I cut through both pieces of plastic covering and the gold-leaf. I brushed on some Modge Podge in a small area where I wanted the geometric shape to go and applied the gold leaf (peeling off one side of the plastic, laying on the gold leaf, pressing firmly, and peeling off the top piece of plastic.)

5) By the last geometric I had really gotten the hang of using gold leaf.

And there you have it. 4 tiny gold-leaf succulent pots in some gorgeous colors.