{Recent Recipes}

I’ve been on a cooking and baking binge lately.  Well, I guess I cook every day anyhow, but I am getting more into it!

I think it was watching all those Netflix episodes of The Pioneer Woman’s cooking show.

Here are some of my favorite DESSERT recipes recently:

Strawberry Sparkle Cake (a little time consuming, but fairly easy and SO worth it).

Mocha Brownies (super quick, easy, and delicious).  I seriously made these three times in the last three weeks!

Rosemary Focaccia bread (simple and delish, but has to be eaten the day you make it.  Doesn’t store well)

Carrot Cake (like WOW)

Here are a few yummy DINNER recipes that I am loving:

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Just don’t touch your nose after chopping the Serrano pepper. Trust me)

Tomato Basil Soup (served with grilled cheese).

Mexican Quinoa (SO delicious and easy)

Quinoa Chili (I love one dish meals)


You are welcome.  Also, I apologize that I do not have exercises to accompany these.  But, I do believe that whatever weight you gain from making these delicious treats will be well worth it!


{Last Minute Gift Ideas}

I’m a little late to the party with the gift guide, but I couldn’t resist sharing a few items with you!

Most of these items, you could probably find locally or have a special two-day shipping deal going on!

I really love gift-giving and get really into it, but this year I decided to make a Pinterest board to help my husband with gift ideas for me!  It was fun to make and he really appreciated it.  I made sure to put plenty of items and multiple styles of each item, so that I would still be surprised!

So, here are a few items that I think would make great gifts! They cover a lot of different categories to keep the gifts interesting and fun: clothing, accessories, home deocr, cooking and baking, beauty, and art! Also, most of these are $50 or under!



I stole the first idea from my sis-in-law.  Gel nail kit!  Save on manicures forever! Then, toss some pretty polishes in their stocking to go with the gift! (Available at Target)


Confession: I stole this one from my sis-in-law as well.  As in, she owns this.  A cozy sweater is always a great idea and Aztec is so in right now ;) (Available at Old Navy)



There are so many great pillow covers on etsy and it would be fun to get one that is really customized to the gift recipient.  This pillow is so me.





A bag is a practical, yet cute gift.  Target has tons of great options!






I love pretty prints in a house.  I think this would be great near a vanity or closet! There are tons of great prints on etsy.




I’ve really been into cooking and baking lately and have been interested in some new kitchen tools and accessories, all of which can be found at stores such as Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  This frosting spreader would be so helpful with all the cakes I make and the gift giver would benefit from it as well.  YUM!




Mixing up the type of gifts allows for variety between practical and just for fun gifts.  I am obsessed with these shades from Fossil and really anything from Fossil is great: shades, watches, jewelry, wallets, bags: oh my! They currently have free two-day shipping, so there is still time.




Obviously I am into rose gold.  I love these mule mugs from One King’s Lane.  Bed, Bath, and Beyond also carries a similar version.  They are so unique and would look great on display.  World Market also carries tons of fun mugs for the tea or coffee drinker in your life!





I’ve been sick for the past two days and although I haven’t been able to go to bed early, or take naps, I’ve been given rest.

My girls slept for over three hours yesterday during afternoon naps, and are going on three hours today.

I was able to watch a few shows while working online and drinking tea as the wind raged outside.

I often watch home shows in the background as I work. Something about looking at different homes in different locations and done in different styles, fascinates me. However, I am often irritated by the complaints of the home buyers.

“It’s too small” (over 2,000 square feet).

“These appliances are dated” (less than five years old, but white).

“This bathroom has to be gutted!” (1950’s tile).

I often want to grab them and shake them and scream, “Are you kidding me?!”

I want to bring them to my home, my 816 square foot home, and say, “You have so much.  Don’t you see it?”

I want to show them orphans and poverty-stricken nations and just open up their eyes!

Now, I know that they are not bad people because of this. If I could afford a bigger or more updated home, I would buy it as well.

But, more and more I am realizing how unnecessary so many things are.  I am realizing how miraculous it is that I am safe and warm inside our cozy home while the storm rages outside.  I am realizing how much is truly enough.

This home, this phase: it is our reality.  It is our story.  It is going to shape us and shape our children.

As I was reading The Mission of Motherhood, by Sally Clarkson, the other day I was so touched by what she said when discussing the sacrifices mothers often make to be able to stay home with their children.

“Even though those times were hard, the Lord provided and sustained us. Those lean years turned out to be precious ones, years in which much of my foundation of faith was laid.”

How beautiful.  I pray that I will not squander this time with worry over what is to be or what is not possible or what I want, but that instead the foundation of my faith, and that of my children’s faith, will be laid.



{Hearty Beef Stew}

It has finally been rainy and windy and cloudy and cool around these parts!


So, it was time to bust out Mom’s stew. Always a favorite in our home, fairly easy and quick, and relatively inexpensive!

I made it last night for 18 people!  18!!!!  I used 3 pans and a pot and all four burners!

Related: I am severely out of shape as evidenced by the fact that my arm was on FIRE after chopping 8 russet potatoes.  Whenever a situation like this occurs I always think of the verse, “her arms are strong for her task,” and then I feel convicted. HA!

Anyway, flabby biceps aside, It is a delicious, comforting, and hearty stew and a bunch of people wanted the recipe, so here you go! No pictures because “ain’t nobody got time for that”.

POTATOES (Brown Russet)


STEW BEEF (Cut in chunks.  Might need to cut them in half before cooking)


(The amounts depend on how much you want to make and the ratio of beef to veggies you like)

In a deep pan, pour a little olive oil and place the meat in.  Salt it however you like.  I used Montreal steak seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Brown meat.

Add in chopped carrots and potatoes (no peeling necessary).

Pour in beef gravy. Cover and Cook on low for approximately an hour stirring ever so often to keep it from sticking to the pan (until potatoes and carrots are soft).

Serve with fresh bread (any kind) for dipping.  Or, if you are like me, for sopping up every last drip of gravy. mmmmmm.

Ok, I’m off to eat leftovers from last night.  Enjoy!

Oh, and here is your deep, philosophical question of the day: Do you use a spoon or a fork for stew?  I mean, it could really go either way.  I am a fork girl myself!


Do you ever get caught off guard by a moment?

Overwhelmed with its beauty or wonder?

I often do.

Whether I’m hiking to the top of a mountain in Canada and am taken aback by the beauty of creation, or I’m watching my daughter drink a bottle in the fading light of day, I see it.

I’ve always been that way.  The way the sun sparkled on the asphalt after a rain would always dazzle me as a child.  Moments and images have always touched me.

And for that reason, this post spoke to me.

I have a fairly nice camera, yet I don’t quite know how to use it well (I took photography classes before Digital existed . . . ahem).

I have a desire to capture moments, yet I let so many pass me by. I focus on capturing perfectly posed images rather than the beauty of our everyday lives.

So, today, I took out the “big” camera and captured some moments, both good and bad.  Because these moments are real.  They are life.  They are the moments that will create memories.  Memories that I want to cherish forever.

After all, this life I’m living as a wife and mother, is exactly what I aspired to as a youth.  Only now, I realize that this time of mothering little ones-which I longed for my whole life-is going to slip by in a blink of an eye.

So, I’ll try to capture it and cherish it. That way, these moments that move me so much? However simple and unposed.  They’ll be mine to keep and to share with my children when they are grown.  A legacy.


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It’s friday.

I spent pretty much the whole day running errands, which is big for me.  I usually don’t go anywhere!

My kids were troopers, but it has been a long day and I’m not feeling well, so I’m ready to drink cocoa, eat carrot cake, and watch Once while I grade and work online.

Hubby is working late and then working all day tomorrow, but then SUNDAY!  Sunday is church and fellowship, and the Thanksgathering!  I’m so looking forward to it!

How has your week been?  Are you prepping for Thanksgiving yet?

Here’s a peek into our week via instagram photos (I’m jenanninga if you want to follow).


There was a PRO-AM golf tournament over the weekend that hubby really wanted to go to.  We loaded up the girls and went out to the local country club.  Addie was enthralled and soooo well behaved.  The weather was beautiful, and there were trees, and everything was green!  I loved that part of it.


Hubby has been on a roll with projects around here!  He brought this piece of wood home from work awhile back and I stained it.  My friend Ashley (who has an awesome sign shop on etsy) made me the vinyl numbers.  Now, all that is left is hanging it!




I really regret not rocking this one to sleep more, but with a crazy toddler running around it hasn’t always been an option.  So, I turned on a cartoon for said toddler and rocked the wee one to sleep.  It was heaven.



Speaking of the toddler.  She had a rough morning of dropping a heavy stool directly onto her big toe.  So, we made cake.  Then, as it was baking, I realized the date was her exact half birthday!  So, I stuck a candle in the mini-cake I had made her and she blew it out.  It was such a simple way to make her happy.

I also love the gallery wall behind her that we recently finished.  The last piece was the number 5.  It represented our family and despite my miscarriage, I can’t bring myself to take it down.



We’ve been cruising in the Mustang lately, which is always fun.  Inconvenient with kids, but fun.  Like, the guy at Costco gas knows me:

“So you have two kids now!”  and then a five minute conversation about Mustangs.

Or the cart pusher at Michaels- a teen-aged boy – “Nice car!”

I will admit: it makes me feel cool . . . and young.



We host a growth group every Tuesday and this year we have been doing potluck style dinners every week.  This week was mac ‘n’n cheese week. A few of us made mac ‘n’ cheese and the other brought veggies, salad, and dessert.  Oh, and I made cider.  It was delish! Also, autocorrect annoys me to no end!



Little blondie turned 11 months!  What?!  Invites for the first birthday are out.  I can’t believe it!



Lastly, this moment.  I think my caption was something about my heart almost bursting.  But truly, it was one of those perfect moments.  It was cloudy, grey, and cold outside.  I had the netflix fire on.  I was drinking tea.  Addie was still napping, and this one was quietly looking at books. It was just A. MOMENT.



Did you have any great moments this week?

{11 Months}


How is this happening?!  11 months?!

Our sweet one’s personality is growing every day and she is such a fun bundle of energy and a total love bug.

She will snuggle and pat your back and clap for your successes!  We love her!

I am so curious to see who she will develop into during the next six months as walking and talking become more of her reality!

Happy 11 months, little one!


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