Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Small Thing That Makes Me Happy

I picked up a few more Pioneer Woman dinner plates at Wal-Mart the other day, and I found a really cute tablecloth, on clearance, that fits our giant farmhouse table, that is in PW's line and matches the dishes.  (How's that for a sentence?)

The packaging on these things are so cute and have a matching fabric strip that goes around it and closes with velcro.  I didn't want to toss it, so I tried it on a jar I use for snacks and it fit perfectly.

I'm so glad I thought to try it on the jar!  

I can see it from our living room area and the kitchen.  Its a small thing that makes me happy.

One more thing, could I ask you to pray for Rachel?  She has the flu, and feels pretty yucky.  At her age and with her good health they don't even bother to test because they don't treat it in her situation.  We are trading off Tylenol and Ibuprophen, using Musinex and Nyquil.  She came down with it overnight Sunday into Monday and we went to the doctor yesterday morning.  Last night she was able to watch a movie with us.  She should be better  by Friday.  Also if you don't mind praying that the rest of us would remain flu free.  We don't seem to pass things around, especially if she picks stuff up at work.  Thanks!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Cheesecake Berry Salad

I've been making this fruit salad the last few weeks.  Everyone LOVES it, even my 12 year old boy!  Its on plan for me too, so win-win!

Cheesecake Berry Salad (THM-S, Sugar Free)

Its very simple -

3 1/2 cups of fresh strawberries, sliced
1 1/2 cups of fresh blackberries
1/2 cup of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries

1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 8oz cream cheese
3/4 cup sweetener (I use xylitol, you could use sugar in the same amount)

Mix the cream cheese and sweetener, then add the whipping cream and blend well.

Pour over the fruit and gently mix the berries and cream mixture.

That's it. You'll love it!

Here's a photo of the salad I made yesterday, before I mixed the fruit and cream together!

Its really delicious!  If you make it let me know!

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Best Part Of Having Chickens

well, besides how cute they are and how funny they are, is the EGGS!

Breakfast sandwiches this morning!

Did you have a good weekend?  We did!  We went to see Mary Poppins at a local high school.  It was terrific!  What a talented bunch of young adults!  All the way home Kamryn kept singing, "Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!"  So cute!

A group of us from church went to lunch yesterday, and the young adults came to our house to have their Bible study, play games and watch a movie.  Its an all day thing around here on Sundays!

This morning I was helping Tim get tax stuff gathered to go to our accountant.  I am always grateful when I see once again the tangible evidence of God's provision for us.  Tim has lots of work and while winter is traditionally slow, it has been so busy already this year.  So grateful!

Friday, February 23, 2018

This and That

 It's a rainy day here in Pennsylvania, so the photos are not that great.  I changed out my dishes this week, putting the Friendly Village away until the autumn.  I brought out my Pioneer Woman cottagey dishes because I am ready for spring!  They are so cheery, aren't they?

The chicks have left our property and gone to Lindsay's inlaws home.  It was easier for her sister in law to care for them there than to have someone drive her over here daily to make sure they had their needs met.  They didn't want us to have to do it.  I'll miss getting to see them!


The Tahoe should be done today, and Rachel's car will be repaired tomorrow, so by Sunday it'll be like the vehicle craziness never happened!  God is good like that, you know.  I'm thankful for our family, and friend Denny for being flexible and helping us out. 


In Denny news, he is off all his prescribed pain meds and back to driving himself around.  I know he's relieved about that.  We all know how hard it is to not be able to go where you want, on your own timetable, when you are used to it.  He went over to visit a friend last night.  He's making great strides and the surgeon and PT are very pleased.  


I've really enjoyed the conversation in the comments on my Intentional Grandparenting post.  The ideas shared there are so good and I, personally, have been helped by it!  If you missed that post you can find it here.


Rachel encouraged me to get an app called Marco Polo.  It allows you to make video chats with friends.  So my mom and sister in law and I have been using it this week.  You can record a video and send it and they can watch it whenever and send one back.  Check out your app store for it.  It's easy and fun.


 A local high school is putting on Mary Poppins for their spring musical, and I'm wanting to take Kamryn.  The issue is timing.  It started last night and there will be a show tonight, and two tomorrow and that's it.  There is a Mom's meeting tonight for co-op, which is optional, but I usually like to go, so that leaves tomorrow.  I should have my car available by then, so I hope that there are tickets available.  I'll check this morning.


What are you up to this weekend?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The New Chicks In Town

Aren't they the cutest?  

Most of them are a birthday gift from Lindsay and Joseph for his sister Jane.  Their brother Joshua is building Jane a coop and when they are big enough for the coop, they'll leave here and go live there!

We'll be keeping a few to join our flock and will probably get more in the next few months.  Most of our girls are over two and will not be a productive with their egg laying, so we need to bring in younger hens.

These 'older' girls will continue to be a sweet part of our flock.  When I go outside they follow me around because I'm the one who gives them treats!  Last week they followed me down the driveway to Tim's Tahoe, all in a row, hoping I had something for them.

Speaking of Tim's Tahoe - it blew its transmission this weekend, so its in getting a rebuilt transmission.  So he's using my van for work this week.  Yesterday, while Rachel and I were on our way home from breakfast and errands, her car slipped some belts and it turns out the pulley needs to be replaced. Our friend Denny, is able to drive himself to appointments now, so we called him, and he came and rescued us.  Tim can do the repair, but can't get to it until Saturday, as he has to pull the radiator out first.  So we have one vehicle for the whole family, plus my dad's Suburban which Tim needs for pulling his trailer with water for an inspection today and tomorrow.  However he didn't want to haul the trailer with the water totes (even though they'd be empty) to his two other inspections, and with co-op today I can't help him.  But Lindsay was free so read on for how our crazy day is supposed to go.

Rachel had to be at work at 7:30 today (unusual but worked out perfectly) so she took the van, picked up Lindsay on her way.  Rachel got dropped at work, Lindsay headed out to meet up with Tim (over an hour away) at his inspection.  When the inspection is done this morning, she'll drive the Suburban back here, we'll unhook the trailer and then we'll pick up Kamryn, and drop Lindsay off at home on our way to co-op.  After co-op, I'll take the kids to Chick-fil-A, get them a treat, and we'll wait for Rachel to be done with work and her meeting, then we'll all come home.  Tim will get home, we'll hook up the trailer with Suburban again, re-fill the water totes for tomorrow.  Then we'll figure out Friday!

The schedule for Rachel's work is different tomorrow, but once Lindsay gets back with the Suburban, we should be able to unhook the trailer, take Lindsay home, go get groceries and then get Rachel to work.  

God is good, all the time, even in the midst of craziness like this.  We realize it is first world problems, and if I really had to, I'd just miss co-op (though they depend on me for the parents room).  

If you would say a quick prayer for us to see God's hand in all the details, I'd be grateful.  He's already supplying all the grace needed.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Intentional Grandparenting

I've always tried to be an intentional parent, building relationships with my kids, and yet giving them the freedom to be who God created them to be.

As a grandmother, I've had to work at separating my ongoing parenting of my younger kids, while being grandma to my older kids' children.

I know many of you are very involved grandparents, taking time with your grandkids, doing fun activities.  I've seen friends whose adult children had expectations that their parents would be at every event their grands were doing, and thus not really having the freedom to do anything but that multiple times a week baseball game.  How do you be intentional, to build into your grandchildren's lives, and yet have your own life?

Right now, my grands are all young, the oldest is seven, the youngest are 16 months old, and we don't have lots of grandkid activities going on.  When Kamryn and Klaire come over, Kamryn is interested in either playing with Kyle or if he is not here, she wants to watch a movie.  

So far my grandparenting of her has been more babysitting, and teaching her school.  I don't see Isla except when we FaceTime, because they are in South Carolina.  So I'm trying to develop ideas to build relationship with her while living at a distance.

I wanted to start a conversation here, in the comments, because I'd like to hear your thoughts on this subject.  I know that we all have different circumstances, and depending on where our kids live we may not see our grands that often.  

I'm hoping to learn from you and plan to do an ongoing series on this in the weeks to come.

All right, let me hear your thoughts on this!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Old Family Photos

Family photos are so interesting aren't they?  I just saw these yesterday, my dad got them from his sister when he was visiting her in Hawaii.

This is my great grandmother Minnie Hannah Chandler Alston in San Diego.

Here she is years later already a grandmother.

 She married Walter Alston, my great grandfather, who was a postmaster, and a chiropractor in San Diego.  

This is my dad's mother, my grandmother Catherine.  This is her senior photo.  

 I didn't know her very well, she died when I was a young girl, and I never met my Dad's father, William Monroe McElrath.  He was a WWII Marine Corp vet who saw action in all the major battles in the Pacific.  He won a Silver Star we believe for the battle on Iwo Jima.  He drank too much, and they divorced when my dad was a young boy.  They didn't see their dad again until they were adults.

Here's a photo of them in happier times.  Catherine with baby Bill, Robert (my dad), sister Nancy, and William. (Bill)

This photo was taken in 1937 of my great great grandma Chandler (Minnie's mom), great grandma Minnie, grandmother Catherine, and my aunt Nancy.

My dad and his siblings - Bob, Bill, and Nancy.

There are more photos to share - including one of my great grandma Minnie and her friend in 'harem' pants like Sybil Crawley wore to dinner in Downton Abbey.  That was fun for me to see!

Do you have photos of your grandparents, great grands from years ago?  Did you grow up with lots of family around and cousins to play with?

Monday, February 19, 2018

How I Use Essential Oils

Do you use Essential Oils?

I don't use either brand that is a multilevel marketing business.  I use a brand that I buy at my local organic food store.  I've researched them and feel comfortable with this company for the way I use EOs.  

I don't ingest any oils, and that is just my own preference.  I had water with lemon essential oil in it once and it made my stomach hurt, so I did a bit of reading about it and decided that for me, I wouldn't ingest ANY brand of oils. (the brand I ingested was one of the mlm brands)

So, how do I use EO's?

1. I use them to clean the air in our home.

                                       This is my new diffuser!  It looks really pretty at night!

During winter, and cold and flu season, I like to have different blends scenting my home.  I use these oils alone or in combination - lemon, orange, peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, frankinsence, tea tree.

I also use EO's in the water when I mop my house!  It helps make it smell fresh and clean!

2. I make blends for health.

I make a decongestant blend for cough and colds.  This is what I make - 

3 drops of Peppermint
2 drops Eucalyptus
2 drops Tea Tree
1 drop Lemon

I will diffuse this overnight (or during the day) for several nights and it really helps them sleep and we've found it to shorten a cold. Obviously, if a cold hangs on longer than 10 days or a person begins to have  tightening of the chest, trouble breathing, or coughing up thick green mucus, you need to see a doctor!  You may have developed an infection or pneumonia.

If someone in my family is coughing really badly and can't sleep, I will rub Eucalyptus with a carrier oil on the bottom of their feet.  We have found this really quiets a cough.  Tim and I have done it for ourselves, and found it to work well enough for us to sleep all night.  You could use this during the day as well.  We apply 5 to 10 drops of the oil mixture to the bottom of each foot.

3. We use blends for pain relief.

I made my first blend on the recommendation of a dear friend who has rheumatoid arthritis.  She told me that she used a few drops each of Peppermint and Clove oils straight onto her knees and that it helped give her some pain relief.

Nate has back pain at times, and pain in his leg from a bad break years ago.  I made him up a bottle of both of these oils, with Sweet Almond oil as a carrier oil.  I don't have a 'use this many drops' for this.  I just try to do about 2/3 carrier oil and then even amounts of Peppermint and Clove.  It works for him.  

I've made it for my mom for her arthritis in her hands and it helps her too.  I made a small bottle for a neighbor of Nate and Kay's and it has worked for her, too.

4. I make my own hand cleaner.

I use water, a bit of rubbing alcohol, and lavender and lemon EOs.  I put it in a small glass spray bottle and carry it in my purse at all times.  I clean cart handles with it and my hands when I am out shopping.

So that is the basic way I use Essential Oils.  I'm not into it to make money, I'm not one to say that an oil can give you courage, or cure disease.  I do believe that oils do have healing properties (I learned about medicinal plants years ago), and that they can help lift your mood.

I'm especially interested in keeping our home a calm and peace-filled place and having it smell good is one way I do this!

Do you use EO's?  Any favorite blends?  What do you use them for?  Let's chat in the comments!

Also later this week I want to start a conversation on intentional grandparenting, and I know so many of you are involved grandparents and I'd like your imput.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Blog Friends, Community, and Scandalous Scones

Last week I had a message from a sweet blog friend, who hadn't been blogging much for several years due to serious health issues.  She wanted to chat about things that we've both written about on our blogs - mentoring young women, encouraging homeschooling moms, our hearts for our homes.  We decided we wanted to not message back and forth, so we had a phone call on Thursday evening!  It was the best!  We plan to do it more often!  After we'd agreed to the call, I was a bit nervous, just like I've been when I've met other blog friends.  "What if their disappointed after meeting me?" "What if they are not anything like who I've thought they were?"  You know we all have these expectations of each other!  

Do you know Julianne from Life at Providence Lodge?  I am so happy to say she is truly who I thought she'd be - kind, gentle, heart for mothers and women in general.  

We spoke about our kids, things we've learned being parents of married adult children while still having younger kids at home.  I've got some good ideas for blog posts from our three hour conversation!  It didn't feel that long, and we hung up with a desire to talk again, and the sense that you are now "real life" friends and not just blog acquaintances!

One of the things we talked about was community - our need to have kindred spirits in our lives, and how so many of us have found them through blogging.

I'm thankful for those I have in my 'real life' too, that I get to spend time with at our co-op on Thursdays.  Great young women who are home educating their children, often without the acceptance or approval of family and friends.  These women are working hard to educate their kids, and to make a loving homelife, be good wives, and sometimes to be the only parent in their children's daily lives.

I love these women, and am thankful that they don't think I'm a fossil just because some of them are my older kids ages!  

One of the things Julianne and I spoke about was Trim Healthy Mama and for her being gluten free, and dealing with other food allergies.

She loves to have tea time with her kids every afternoon and really missed being able to have scones!  I told her I post this recipe, and when I went to the website the server is down!  I never printed the recipe because I just would go to the website and make the recipe from there, but I did google the recipe by name and I found someone who shared the recipe.

I hope this is exact.

Grain-free scones made using almond flour. Yummy and low carb!

Scandalous Scones

2 cups of almond flour

2 eggs

1 rounded tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tblsp Oil (I use coconut oil)

***I add 3/4 xylitol***

Now notice they don't have any sweetener listed and the recipe from the original website didn't have any sweetener either.

When I made them the first time I put too little sweetener in (I like to use xylitol), but found that with the cream and the curd they were fine.

Then one day when I was making them, I realized that when I make cookies or scones with the same amount of regular flour, I put in way more sugar, so I decided to add more sweetener and they were just right to me!  I added about 3/4 of a cup of xylitol.  

I don't feel deprived when I eat these scones!

I think this recipe without the sweetener could be made into a savory scone with the addition of herbs and cheese.  Yum!

Have a lovely weekend friends!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Real Love, Homemade Valentine's, and Flowers

Tim and I have been sweethearts for a very long time.  Over the years we have celebrated by giving cards, flowers and gifts, or not at all.  Sometimes we've gone out to eat just the two of us and other times, I've cooked for the whole family.

Last year on Valentine's Day he had one inspection and asked me to go along for the day.  We ate lunch out and had a nice time poking around in bookstores and antique stores.

This year he also had one inspection, and asked me to go along for the day.  I did.  We ate lunch out, drove around the Main Line areas of Philly, (amazing houses!) tried to find antique stores open but most were closed. (winter hours, I guess) We talked, laughed, had dinner out, too.

Real love is not just one day a year.  It is the day in and day out choosing each other, working hard, choosing grace, choosing forgiveness.  

Kamryn and I made Valentine's the other day.  She took hers home for her family and I hung mine on my kids bedroom doors yesterday morning before I left for the day.

I also like to buy fresh flowers for Valentine's so I got some white hydrangea for the house,

and some lovely pink tulips for Rachel and Sarah.

It won't be long before they have sweethearts of their own.  In the meantime, I want them to know they are loved, by us and by the Lord.  

Tim and I are very blessed to be sharing our lives together, after all these years.  I'm grateful.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Building Community

Next month will mark my 11th year of blogging.  Isn't that crazy?   Kyle was 2 years old when I started.

Over these years I have had lovely conversations with women about home, family, schooling, tea, chickens...well, you get the idea.

I feel like overtime my blog friends and I have built community with each other.  We care about one another and share our lives.  Some of us have met up in real life.

Some, I've only emailed with and have become good friends this way.

I think its wonderful that we can make connections with people all over the world, and share life with each other.  This is the biggest reason I keep blogging.  Being real, sharing encouragement, being a friend are all important to me.  As is sharing the hope that I have.

Today, I'm meeting up with a friend for brunch. We used to see each other every week and spend the day together, but now that we don't go to the same church, we don't see each other often. My schedule is free and I'm looking forward to catching up with her.  I'm also helping coordinate her daughters' wedding in May, so I'm sure we'll have some wedding talk, too.

Building community takes time and effort.  It means communication, and caring for another.  It takes being intentional.  

I'm grateful for the sweet friends I've made through blogging, and the ones that I know here in my hometown community.  We need each other.  You're all a blessing in my life.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Skin Care

I've had good skin my whole life, even in high school.  Rarely a blemish.

As I've gotten older I've mostly continued to do the same things I've always done, which is basically cleanse my skin every night before I go to bed.  I also mosturize most of the time, but not always.

My skin is naturally getting wrinkles, and I still have all my freckles, and I'm not worried about those (wrinkles or freckles).  I do feel as if I need to exfoliate regularly and this is what I really want to talk about today.

I've begun using a konjac sponge, made to exfoliate the face, a few times a week.  I should probably use it every day.  Its gentle.  Here is a link to information about konjac sponges.  Mine is plain without red clay or charcoal.  I mosturize afterward.  

For cleansing and moisturizing I use Lacura brand.  I buy it at Aldi.

Related image

What do you do for skin care?  Are there products you love and recommend?

Friday, February 9, 2018

What Kind Of Tea's In Your Cup?

I've probably shown you this before but I just love it so.

My friend Jane, gifted this sweet lamby pie to me.  She found it at World Market last summer.  It covers my Royal Albert Old Country Roses teapot, and keeps us supplied with hot tea for hours!

With winter here to stay for a few more weeks, we are thankful for the gift of tea to warm and cheer our spirits!

We like to drink Irish Breakfast, Chamomile, Barry's, or Lyon's brand tea.  I also love to drink Yorkshire Gold.  Sometimes I like to drink Oolong with cinnamon, and a tiny bit of cayenne, some vanilla, a bit of sweetener, and some almond milk.  Its really tasty!  Kind of like a chai.

What kind of tea's in your cup?

I'm joining Bernideen today...

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Around The House

I have two people (Tim and Sarah) who have really bad colds.  We've been amazingly healthy in this winter where all around us people have a really nasty stomach virus and the flu.

Tim has a slower week, which is nice with his cold, and so after his inspection yesterday, he got to come home and snuggle with our granddaughter Klaire.  The timing was perfect because she needed a nap.  They both did. (smile)

Things are going well here at the cottage.  Life moves at a fast pace much of the time, but we always land back here together.  

Our sweet house is 32 years old and has seen some life.  There was a family of six who lived here before we did and we raised six kids here and have had tons of people through our doors, both on Sundays and staying over with us.  Its such an awesome house, but it could use some attention.  I'm hoping to get to some of the updating done this year.

In the meantime I try to create beauty for us to enjoy.   We really like this drink station area in the kitchen.  It gets used all day long in the winter.

This shelf is over the stairs to the basement, and just to the left of the drink station.  I love the way it looks.

You can see the shelf in the background of this photo.  I love the beauty of everyday things.  The flatware is in jars on the top of a plate rack that sits on our counter.  Setting the table for dinner is a breeze and we get to enjoy the pretty dishes and flatware.  It also frees us space in the drawers and cupboards.

 These pretty pitchers are on a shelf on the black cabinet by the kitchen door.  I popped in a red metal candle holder, from the dollar spot at Target, for a bit of color.

My dad, Lindsay and Joseph are back this morning from Hawaii.  Tim drove on icy roads to get them from Philly.  They must be in shock with the weather change!  Poor things.

I like this quote from C.S. Lewis - 

"You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending."

I hope you have a good day.


  We are finally getting some blue skies with real clouds, and sunshine! I took sometime with Kyle and Kamryn's help to set up the deck ...