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what I'm lovin' these days | may


My Leuchtturm Medium in Emerald that I am using for my Bullet journal (blog post coming soon!). I happened to buy the plain, non-lined, non-dotted, non-squared Leuchtturm and thought I would not like it but found out quickly I just don't mind it. I will probably get the squared Leuchtturm next time around. Bullet journaling is simply - wonderful.



White Corelle Livingware. Don't you love the name - livingware. These are for living. I am slowly acquiring pieces of pure, delightfully white, Corelle livingware. We have salad plates and dinner plates and most recently I've purchased soup and cereal bowls. I have my eye on the pasta bowls too. We've dropped them on our ceramic floors, we've microwaved the snot out of them, and dishwasher-washed them, served spaghetti and other staining sauces, and yet - they are as white as they began. And they weigh next to nothing and take up scant room in my cabinets. They are my simple in a mess of a kitchen.


Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series. I'm so excited I've found a new book series to sink deep into for hours at a time. This meaty series, starring Gabriel Allon, a master art restorer and reluctant Israeli intelligence spy, have complexity and depth, stout inscrutable characters, and astounding storylines. I'm currently reading A Death in Vienna and from the first page I was intrigued, once again, by the manipulations of the protaganist Gabriel Allon.


Photo Source

An organized home. Prior to the BIG graduation celebration for John and Jarrod and the influx of family to our home when we shot up from a 5-member household to 13-members faster than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (after first sounding it out, of course), my house was in a shambles. My bedroom was a disaster zone, the scrap studio (read: computer room) looked like ground zero, and the last stages of homeschool were still engulfing the dining room's shelving system. Please don't get me started on all the stuff that needed purging, the trash that needed taking out, and the recyclable to Goodwill. 

But, now. Now, I'm pausing delightedly to bask in the glorious-ness that is an organized (almost organized) home. I walk into my bedroom and can breathe easy, again. I don't cringe when I slide into the scrap studio with plans to paint. I gaze upon the shelves in the dining room and smile at the pleasing-to-the-eye organization. Simply inspiring!


52 New Books in 2016 | 29


A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva

The fourth installment of the Gabriel Allon series, and the third and final installment of the superbly crafted mini-series, within the series, where Silva confronts 'unfinished business of the Holocaust'. "A bombing at the Austrian Wartime Claims and Inquiries office leaves chief investigator Eli Lavon near death. Undercover Mossad agent Gabriel Allon, protagonist of the two previous novels, is ordered by Israeli spymaster Ari Shamron to ferret out the perpetrator. Allon is reluctant-he's working as an art restorer on one of Bellini's great altarpieces in Venice-but Eli is an old friend from the secret service, and duty calls. The case becomes personal when Allon, reading his mother's account of her time in the camps "I will not tell all the things I saw. I cannot. I owe this much to the dead" discovers that not only was Radek a sadistic monster, his mother was very nearly murdered by him. The chase is long and complex as agents from a number of international spy groups circle and harass Allon as he hunts down the infamous and still deadly Radek." (Publisher's Weekly).

Although the storyline is deep and intense, it involves the Holocaust, how can it not be?...the pace is swift, the plot mind-blowing, and the characters are being developed more intimately and precise with each additional book in the series. I love this series. As a Christian who prays for Israel and regularly studies the children of God within the Word of God, I love reading about Israel's more current history within the telling of fiction and non-fiction. And too, thankfully, Silva's already written 15 books in the series so I have along way to go until I 'finish' the series and am anxiously awaiting another book to be written (like I have to do with J.D. Robb's In Death series).

New Rating: 9.0


50 States 50 Recipes | Kentucky


Kentucky Hot Browns. Word is "in the 1920's, the Brown Hotel [in Louisville, Kentucky] drew over 1,200 guests each evening for its dinner dance. By the wee hours of the morning, guests would grow weary of dancing and make their way to the restaurant for a bite to eat. Sensing their desire for something more glamorous than traditional ham and eggs, Chef Fred Schmidt set out to create something new to tempt his guests' palates. His unique dish? An open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and a delicate Mornay sauce. The Hot Brown [and culinary legend] was born!" (The Brown Hotel). 

This open-faced deli roasted turkey sandwich with bacon, because everything is better with bacon, and juicy, ripened, brilliant red Roma tomatoes smothered in an herb and cheese Mornay [Beschamel] sauce, sprinkled with more cheese and cast under the broiler to brown the cheese for the finishing touch is simply amazing! I used a thick artisan bread I happened upon at the commissary (which never happens but delightfully did unexpectedly, so I grabbed it). Of course, I went for the good stuff - Boars Head Roasted Turkey deli meat sliced thin (but nowhere near shaved) and melted smokey Gruyere and nutty Parmesan Reggiano into the Beschamel sauce - so good - when combined with parsley and finely chopped green onions was divine!

P.S. The above recipe should say 8 slices of bacon - duh!

I am positive this will become a regularly occurring meal in my families repertoire of recipes. (Find all my 50 Recipes 50 States recipes below) 

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52 New Books in 2016 | 28


Love Kindness by Barry H. Corey

From the words of Micah 6 verse 8, "He has shown you, O mortal [man], what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy [kindness] and to walk humbly with your God," comes Corey's book Love Kindness. As it is my life verse I was eager to read a book based on loving mercy [kindness] and what Barry's thoughts were on what, how, loving mercy looks, in the hearts, words, and actions of Christians. . 

Christians, so often, are given a bad reputation, sometimes because we deserve it; sometimes Christians have chosen not to be kind when faced with the sins of the sinner. Instead of loving the sinner, they show only hate for their sin. But, what about kindness? Mercy? The loving mercy of Christ. When Christ was confronted by sin he saw first, the sinner, he showed his love and mercy. Somewhere tucked within the book, (or maybe I heard it somewhere else just in the past week whilst reading Love Kindness) were the words, "We cannot change the mind and the hearts of sinners, only our love and kindness, that is of God, can lead others to repentance..."  I'll give a 'for instance': I believe homosexuality is a sin. But. I will not change the mind of a homosexual or the heart of a homosexual toward the heart and mind of Jesus unless - I show them love and mercy. Show them love. Give them only kindness. It is only when a sinner sees Christ IN ME will they see their own sin - not by my words (unless those words are kind and loving), only my actions displayed through love and mercy. One can debate homosexuality if they want to. My mind will not be changed regarding the sin of homosexuality as the word of God is quite clear and concise on this particular sin, but my heart and words and actions will be kind and loving toward the homosexual.

So, was this book all about loving the homosexual. No. But, it was about loving the sinner. Being kind - instead. I think Barry Corey used homosexual as an example of how we can be kind as Christians, because the debate of homosexuality is such a forefront of cultural debate and confusion and stance. Christians who choose to show love and kindness to the gay community are ousted, spewed hate from other Christians as somehow they've watered down their faith, yet they are, instead, and in fact, living out their faith. Christians can show love and kindness without liking the sin, or agreeing with the sin, or saying it's okay to sin, instead they are just loving the sinner. 

Once, I figured out this book was more a memoir on kindness I read it eagerly, ready to hear more kindness, love, and mercy through those individual, some very small, stories. I think our lives can tell this kind of story also. Individual acts where we've chosen kindness over debate. Kindness over hate. Kindness over disagreeing. We don't have the right to call out someone's sin unless we've first laid down before them love and mercy. What does this look like? Corey, I believe, states it rather quite well, "In today’s polarized culture, we are often pulled toward one extreme or the other, soft centers or hard edges. I’m proposing a different approach, a third way. Rather than the harshness of firm centers and hard edges, and rather than the weakness of spongy centers and soft edges, why don’t we start with kindness? Kindness is the way of firm centers and soft edges."

One of the first Christian songs I learned in that little church in Oklahoma where I accepted Jesus into my heart was They'll Know We are Christians By Our Love. If every Christian would do justly, and love mercy [kindness], and walk humbly with God, then more non-believers would become believers of Christ - Christians, because of our love for Christ displayed in our love of others.

Because I was able to solidify, and workout, my heart towards doing justly, loving mercy [kindness], and walking humbly within the scope of today's insane societal challenges I will easily give Love Kindness - 4 Stars. 

my summer manifesto 2016.


For no other reason than to add a bit of adventure into our summer. Add some purpose or direction. Seeking to check a few things off my bullet list. Fulfilling hope. And dreams. Here's to a gentle, sweet, adventurist, calm, quiet, lovely, fun-filled summer. I give my summer manifesto. 2016.

Be a tourist for a day in my own town. Take a carriage tour. Eat at the best hot spots in town for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Watch the sun rise over Tybee. Get in line for The Breakfast Club. Eat at the counter. Take a walk along the beach.

Read outside on my glider. And read some more.

Hook up my Silhouette - and make something.

Hook up my WACOM tablet - and write something.

Paint a canvas for our bedroom.

Go jet skiing.

Dolphin watching.

Finish de-cluttering my house: hallway closet and linen closet, organize photos, en-suite bathroom linen closet, and bedroom closet.

Take a couple day trips. Somewhere I've never been.

Watch fireworks on Riverstreet, downtown Savannah.

Make homemade ice cream.

Visit the Farmer's Market and make dinner with the fresh fare.

Welcome a new grandson to the family.

Welcome Summer. 

Just not the heat.

Just not the sand gnats.

And did I mention not the heat.






inspiring links | 9


photo source

A reading and riding program in an elementary school in North Carolina. Smart. 

Here is an interesting, challenging, thought-provoking article on the side of pro-life. I am struggling with so many dilemma's, that aren't really dilemma's when lined up with the Word of God, but because I live in this hardened, sinful world become clouded, veiled, and uncertain.

From Relevant magazine 5 Questions to ask yourself before posting to social media like Facebook, Blogs, Instagram, Twitter, etc. While the magazine is a Christian magazine the questions are certainly appropriate for everyone who posts to social media. 

And another of the social media platform, Pinterest, with an interesting, Biblical approach and view.

For Mom's everywhere, The most Life-Changing thing any mother can give herself. Poignantly beautiful.

I simply cried.

More on the art of listening. Instead of saying something just to say something, listen, instead. Be fully present, fully engaged with the person who is talking. Listening to someone does not always require a response in any way, shape, or form. Just listen. 

God has already Revealed to You His Will for your Life. This is for everywhere contemplating their future and wondering what they should do next.


...and a little more Silas and Tucker







They're not my grandsons. But, I love them anyways. Love this family!

Since Maggie, these little guys' Mom (and Dad Reid) post plenty of photos on Facebook (with something to say for each photo) I easily save the photo and copy and paste their words for short journal spots. 

I've found such delight in making this album for Maggie. Her and Reid have moved downstairs in the wee little kids ministry (along with Tucker and Silas) so I don't get to see them near enough.

52 New Books in 2016 | 27


The Job by Janet Evanovich (with Lee Goldberg)

I certainly wouldn't call The Job, a Fox and O'Hare novel, spectacular, but it sure was fun. These books move along pretty fast that one does not have a chance to get bored at all, but there also isn't much depth to the plot nor the characters. Like I said, they're just fun. 

Nick Fox, con man and art thief is charming and annoying to female FBI Agent O'Hare who has captured Fox but then the two go undercover with the full backing of the director of the FBI, to catch really bad, evil people most wanted by the FBI. 'Tis true Fox is a con man and art thief but he's not really bad nor really evil. I'm not sure where, nor how long Evanovich will maintain this series without, for instance, FBI Agent O'Hare compromising more and more (as she did in this book). 

For a quick read in between hard hitting books this series is stupendous for light, flirty, and fun.


de-cluttering my home


Photo Source

In a little over a week I will have all my kids together under one roof. Plus, all my grand children. Plus, two great grandmothers. For this to happen I needed to get busy finding room for my home of 5 to become a temporary but comfortable home for 13. I am so excited! Beyond words, excited! Finding room for 13 people though - not so much. But, I realized something had to be done about all the unnecessary, overwhelming, accessories (read: stuff) around the house if I was going to make this happen. This meant (means) I needed to get busy. 

Hang on. It's going to be a wild ride.

Several spaces within my home need(ed) tackling and I (we) have begun making room.

1. The boys' room will become a room for four. After moving in a year and a half ago, Joan's boxes remained in my boys' room..for long enough. Yep, they've had their room cluttered with boxes of things that weren't even theirs. They've been so gracious about not even saying anything, yet it has bothered me tremendously. These boxes have now found a place in the attic and the boys can see their floor again. Yet, much still needs to be accomplished in their room before the work is done. Vacuuming, dusting, fresh sheets, pillows - a cleansing beyond...plywood between the sagging mattress and box spring, putting away (preferably purging) of their 'stuff' - but, more likely putting away. 

2. The den will become a room for two (maybe three). This room was the worst! More boxes from Joan's move in, tons of my craft STUFF that had gotten out of control, boxes of photos, homeschool curriculum...the list goes on. I did not, and sometimes could not, even find space to plant my feet, let alone have a space to work. Much progress has been made in this room from first clearing the floor to raiding the closet to cleansing the stuff-shelves (as opposed to bookshelves). I have a pile of STUFF ready for Goodwill, ready for another home, just not my home anymore. That 'one man's stuff is another man's treasure' still applies, but does not resonate with me anymore. 

I have found such freedom in purging and cleaning. A gentle peace and contentment. It isn't more stuff I needed. It was less.

     a. Homeschool Curriculum has been pulled out. Actual work the boys accomplished has been stored in a bin and moved to attic. Once they've been accepted into college those bins will be emptied and discarded. Actual curriculum has been photographed and posted to homeschool co-op board for possible sale.

     b. I purged! I seriously asked myself: Would I use it within a year? How long has it already been in my possession unused? Do I love it? Honestly, will I ever use this? After asking myself at least those four questions in multiple variations, I began making a very large pile ready for Goodwill and a large heavy-duty yard bag for trash. Unfortunately, I'm not done. But, I have made quite the dent and I have empty shelf space to prove it! Over the next couple of days and this weekend the den will be finished. Vacuumed, dusted, hide-away bed in the room ready to open with fresh sheets, blanket, pillow. Even after my family of 13 goes back down to a family of 5 again I want this den space to become my studio again where I work (rather than the kitchen table) at my craft.

    c. More vacuuming, more dusting. More purging and organizing, and ordering.

3. My bathroom needs cleaned top to bottom. Because we're going from 5 to 13 my bathroom will need to be utilized by more than just Hoosier Man and I. While I can accept a level of filth much higher than most, mostly because I can't stand cleaning the bathroom, I'll need to clean it for the sake of the family. Sigh. A sigh because I hate cleaning the bathroom. Oh, wait! I said that already, didn't I?

4. My bedroom needs cleaned top to bottom. Family will be walking through my bedroom to get to the bathroom. Enough said. Unfortunately, much of the problem areas are piles of stuff that aren't mine, but Hoosier Man's accumulated 'stuff' which I won't touch - it's not mine to touch, or purge.

5. The shelves, previously holding all things homeschool, need to be cleared and decide, what now? for those shelves.

This weekend will be the big push for cleaning, buying food for a house full, planning and accomplishing to-do lists for a graduation and party and a house full of people. Did I tell you we were going to have a house full?

I'm not overwhelmed.

Ok, maybe a little.

But, I wouldn't want this coming week and weekend of celebration any other way.


52 New Books in 2016 | 26


The Confessor by Daniel Silva

Beyond brilliant, tightly weaved international intrigue and thriller. When Silva took the toward-the-end events on a wild ride I was delightfully surprised. This stroke of genius, mesmerizing fiction of Vatican politics, intrigue that crosses cultural, spiritual, and racial boundaries, murder mayhem, and World War II history is just superb.

Gabriel Allon returns in this stunning thriller of ancient and modern betrayal, long-buried secrets and unthinkable deeds. In Munich, writer Benjamin Stern enters his flat to find a man leafing through his research. When Stern confronts him, the man shoots him, murmurs a few words in Latin, gathers the papers and leaves. In Venice, art restorer and Israeli agent Gabriel Allon reads a message saying that Stern is dead; can he leave immediately? At the Vatican, a priest named Pietro paces in the garden, pondering the discoveries he has made, the enemies he will make, and the journey he must undertake. Three threads woven into a multi-layered mystery peopled with memorable characters and distinguished by rich prose.

This is the third Gabriel Allon novel by Daniel Silva I've read and each hearty novel craving for more. Thankfully, there are 12 novels left within the series already completed.