Tuesday, July 31, 2012

First comes love...

Then comes marriage.

'Tis the season!  For weddings, of course.  I have never had a year full of quite so much bridal bliss.  I think the count stands at 9.  So far.  Add to that, the showers and rehearsals... this year has been hopping right along.

It is always exciting to witness young, committed love embarking on such an adventure.   It makes me happy, giddy, and weepy all at the same time.  

It gives me reason to pause and reflect back on my own humble wifely beginnings.  What fun to open all those gifts.  And oh, the bath towels.  We must have received at least forty.  In every shade of the rainbow.  Solids.  Stripes.  Prints.  Custom embroidered.  Monogrammed.  You name it.  And nary a one with a gift receipt.   To this day, in over 10 years of marriage, I have yet to purchase a single bath towel.  In fact, during our most recent move this past spring, I discovered a long-hidden-away-box with another set of 4 never-before-used bath towels! 

I eagerly anticipate another impending nuptial this weekend. 

I hope they all know it's worth the ride.  I hope they know it won't always be easy.  I hope they understand true love is much more than a feeling and most often a choice to love despite feelings.  

And consequently, I suppose the next year or two will be riddled with baby showers. 

Love & Coffee.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012


It took me a long (loooonnnng time) to feel even remotely comfortable with the idea that an e-reader might ever have a significant place in my life.  

I.  Love.  Books.

I love the smell of paper and ink and leather and glue colliding in my nasal cavity.  (Seriously, it smells good.)   I love the way each grainy, fibrous page caresses my fingertips as I lose myself in an intoxicating story.  I love looking at page numbers and the sense of victory and accomplishment when slamming shut the cover upon completion of a 964-page monstrosity.

I.  Love.  Books.

I couldn't pass up a Barnes & Noble, if I tried.  And the library is my second home. 

When accompanied with a steamy cup of heaven (coffee, of course), there is no place I'd rather be than curled up with a wordy book.  

I am not sure what initially made me think about it, but I started reviewing and comparing e-readers... two years ago.  And guess what this girl got for her May birthday???  Kindle Touch!  And I couldn't be more in love.

L.  O.  V.  E.

Don't get me wrong, I won't be ditching any of my favorite books.  (My Jan Karon library is forever safe in my book case.)  The idea of having access to thousands of books in my handbag at any given moment makes me giggle with nerdy glee.

To date, I have accumulated several hundred books on my Kindle.  And I have only paid for two of them.  Yes, two.

I have since discovered that there are so many places to find out about free ebooks for my Kindle.  It's a little scary.  Like an addiction.  Almost overwhelming.  I have so much to read that I don't know what to read!  Classics, history, fiction, children's books, devotionals, and a plethora of pretty amazing cookbooks.  (Not to mention I now have three versions of the Bible.  So far.)

Nearly every classic is free which pretty much has me giddy as a school girl.  (I am completely lost in Little Women at the moment...)   Amazon.com also lists their top 100 free books for Kindle which is updated hourly.  A serious treasure trove!  I could go on to list all my favorite places to find out such things, but that would take all day.

Don't have a Kindle?

Free Kindle reading apps are available for you phone, computer, or tablet here:  Free Kindle Reading Apps 

So here are links to a few of my favorite ebooks that are free at the time of this posting:

(These deals tend to change pretty frequently, so be sure to check the price before downloading.)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (with Cross-References)
Art Museum: Ancient Sculpture To Impressionist Masters
The Furious Longing of God
Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa
The Truth About Butterflies: A Memoir

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The Scarlet Letter
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The American Frugal Housewife by Lydia Maria Francis Child (1828)
Circle of Friends Cookbook - 25 Burger Recipes
Out of Sight, Out of Mind - Easy Home Organization Tips and Storage Solutions for Clutter-Free Living
Salads for Every Season: 25 Salads from Earthbound Farm
SMART SCHOOL TIME RECIPES: The Breakfast, Snack, and Lunchbox Cookbook for Healthy Kids and Adults
Superfood Recipes (Healthy Eats)

The Children's Book of Christmas Stories
The Golden Acorn
If You're So Smart, How Come You Can't Spell Mississippi? (Reading Rockets Recommended, Parents' Choice Award Winner) (The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses)
Maebelle's Hat
The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter
The Ugly Duckling (Illustrated)

Its okay.  Grab a cup of joe, put your feet up, and enjoy yourself.  It's too hot to do anything else anyway...

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Monday, July 23, 2012

This is war.

9 days.

I am certifiably losing my mind over one feisty little rodent... the mouse.  This is the first since we moved to our country home in March.

That first night after discovering mouse "presents" on my kitchen counter, I set out a trusty trap, carefully baited with peanut butter (all natural, of course).  I like to use the Ortho Defense Kill & Contain that hides all the nastiness once the trap actually works, and as a bonus, they keep my precocious 3-year-old Lovey's fingers at bay.

No worries.  I have never had trouble catching a mouse before.  But the next morning, the peanut butter was gone and the trap left intact.  Hmmmmmm... okay.  Fluke of nature.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  The next day, the same scenario.  Bait gone.  Trap not tripped.  And by this time, my sweet hubby has gone out of town for five days for work and I'm left to deal with this filthy creature on my own.  Awesome. 

So, I'm beginning to think I've got a faulty trap.  I stop at Walmart in town to pick up more and, of course, they don't carry them anymore.  I pick up another brand of Kill & Seal traps (gotta keep all those fingers on those little hands) and the next night I set out the new one.  Mouse didn't even attempt it and guess what.  I've got "presents" on the counter for the 4th day in a row.  Ugh.

Night #5.  I have an epiphany when I find glue traps under the kitchen sink.  YES!  I get out the old and possibly defective trap that the darn mouse seems to love so much and carefully place the glue trap directly in front out.  No.  Way.  Out.  Right?  I settle the kids in to bed, sit down to finally unwind with the evening news after a long day and that's when I saw him.  The little furball darts out from under the couch, across the room and under the tv stand.  Perfect.  Playtime was over.  I went straight to bed, incessantly tried to put it out of my mind, and sincerely prayed that my evil scheme would work.

No.  Dice.  Bait gone.  Trap not tripped.  And glue trap gone???  I employed my three little detectives, but there was no trace of the glue trap.  Did I have a mouse skittering around the house, dragging a glue trap from his nether regions?  How was this possible?

It was Friday.  Hubby was home.  And by now... this was an all-out war.

I informed him of the week's events.  He heartily chuckled as if I was being slightly over dramatic.  Hmph.  He wasn't the one cleaning up mouse poop every morning.  

Number 6.  Same set-up.  I had one glue trap left.  There's no way that the mouse could outsmart my clever contraption twice.  Right?  Fast forward to 4:45 am.  Something is clattering in the kitchen and into the dining room.  Dragging, almost.  Mouse vs. Glue Trap?  Bingo.  I shake hubby awake.  Kind of.  He's exhausted after a week away and wants nothing to do with the rodent drama.  Then silence.  I lay still, paralyzed by fear, and reluctantly reach for my glasses.  And that's when we locked eyes.  That mangy little rodent scampered to my bedroom doorway and paused as if to taunt me.  I scream and violently shake hubby from his sleep as mouse darts into the spare bedroom across the hall.  Apparently that room is not nearly as exciting and he quickly comes back for more.  Hubby, still in a slumbered stupor begins hurling balled up socks at my nemesis and declares that there is "nothing to worry about.  He's gone back to the dining room," as he nonchalantly rolls over and begins to snore.  Very funny.

4:50 am.  It's definitely not over.  I stare blankly at the red numbers on alarm clock until nearly 7:00 am (a full hour past my routine wake-up time).  I don't dare make a move out of bed until I am sure he is through for the evening.

Day 7.  Hubby is still not worried.  He gets Old Faithful, a regular run-of-the-mill wooden snap trap.  We wait until Lovey is fast asleep that evening and he baits the trap.  My sweetheart is confident there is no escape.  Wrong.  Bait gone.  Trap not tripped.

#8.  My dear husband is just as frustrated as I am.  Old Faithful, once again.  New location.  Same result.

So here we are on Day 9.  I'm fresh out of ideas.  I'm tired as heck.  And I'm mad at the cats (clearly not doing their job, although, to be fair it really does seem as if we are dealing with a superior sort of mouse). 

There are two glue traps still unaccounted for. 

Any ideas, Coffee Lovers??? 

I'll be putting on the extra coffee, right about now... 

This.  Is.  War.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012


I've tried to hold my tongue.  Really.  I'm not usually one to complain.  Most of the time, I am eternally optimistic, but quite frankly, I just can't take it anymore.

Its hot.  

H.  O.  T.

I am well aware that among most of the people in my social circles I am in the minority because I truly adore fall and winter.  Summer is my least favorite time of year.  I love a good barbecue on the 4th of July and I'll even take good water fight now and then.  The true saving grace of summer are the storms.  I love a good, pounding rain and the thrill of an unexpected thunderstorm, but so far, we haven't had much of that either.

The grass is brown (and crunchy), my feeble attempts at minor landscaping are wilting, and I am completely terrified to open my electric bill.  

I suppose on the bright side of things, I could say that my laundry dries on the line in virtually no time at all, the mosquito population is practically nil, and I don't have to worry about the kidlets dragging mud all over kingdom come.  

Regardless, we are trying to spend time outside during the coolest parts of the day.  There are simply too many amazing things to explore out here.  

Last weekend, my oldest, Peanut, found this out by the barn:

Scores of freshly emerged baby caterpillars.

A couple of days later, it looked like this:

They were hungry.

Peanut rescued eight of them from that lone milkweed.

The next day, we thought we should go see if we could rescue the rest and transplant them to the other part of the field that is thriving with milkweed.  But they were gone.  

So we have eight lovely Monarch caterpillars who have taken up residence in our kitchen.  
Can't wait to watch miracles unfold before little eyes.

Time to whip up an ice cold frappucino before heading out to water the tomatoes. 

Stay cool.

Love & Coffee. 

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Over the river and through the woods.

Upon descending the spiral stairs from the second floor, I encounter a fork where the stairs split.  I am always presented with a choice.  Left.  Or Right.  Right takes me into the first floor hallway leading to two bedrooms or on into the dining area.  Left curves around into the kitchen.  I know it's strange, but I can never decide which way will be more efficient. 

And when exiting my first floor bedroom for a drink of water, I must make the decision to travel by way of the dining room (which seems longer) or to traverse the bottom portion of the stairs.  Up a few stairs and down a few.  Voila.  Kitchen.  (I wonder which way burns more calories?)

And every time I take the stairs/landing route, in my mind I can't help but say "Over the river.  And through the woods."  I can't stop.  I told my hubby.  Now he does it too.  

Over the river.  (Up the stairs, pause on the landing.)  And through the woods.  (Down and around the stairs to the left, into the kitchen.)   

Over the river.  And through the woods.  Over the river.  And through the woods.

The things I think about. 

Love & Coffee

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Quiet.

Gosh, I am such a traditionalist.  I just can't help myself.  It's my roots.  It's what I feel.  

But it wasn't always this way.  I grew up staunchly conservative in every sense of the word.  And I fought back.  Hard.  I escaped to a much bigger city, trying to shed my Iowa roots and the stigma that came along with it, the best I could.  At times it was difficult to explain to people that even though I was from Iowa, I didn't own a pig and I'd never driven a tractor.  (Newsflash:  Iowa is not one big, happy farm.)

But I love Iowa.  And I love cornfields.  And as most of you know, I am now happily planted (and beginning to thrive!) in the country.  

I am home.  And it feels good.  

I used to think I was pretty cutting edge.  In college, I had a Palm Pilot.  (Ha.  Remember those?)  It was basically a prehistoric smartphone minus the internet.  And the phone.  And the color.  And pretty much anything remotely cool.  Over the years, I incessantly upgraded and upgraded until last April.  I am now the proud owner of a "dumb" phone which does exactly what it's supposed to do.  Make and receive calls(Along with the occasional text message.)  

Honestly, most days I prefer hiding from the ridiculous thing.  While the world is longing to check in, link up, and socially network with me, I find myself longing for a disconnect.  In exchange for a reconnect with the people I love most.  I guess I don't always like being so... accessible

I like faces.  There is so much to love about a genuine exchange with another specimen of God's fine creation.  Expression.  Eye Contact.  I am disheartened that most of the young people I know can't look me in the eye because they don't know how to talk to my face.  I used to think I had something perpetually stuck in my teeth, but I truly think many just don't know how to engage in this way.  

As a homemaker, I am often regarded as extraordinarily available.  My work at home, however, is noteworthy, intentional, and fiercely un-interruptable.  (I think I invented a word there.)  I am raising three little ladies to know they are worth my time, my attention, and my love.

Perhaps I am deliriously old-fashioned, but I am recapturing a love for the quiet.  Not necessarily the absence of noise, but the kind of quiet that bestills my soul and refreshes my heart all at the same time. 

It's in the moment when I and my girlies are laboring in the kitchen over a fresh batch of sugar cookies, carefully crafting each one, with nary a sprinkle out of place.  

It's in the moment I am hanging the laundry on the clothesline, watching those same sweet girls running in and out of the billowing sheets, catching every sunbeam.

It's in the moment when I read the same beloved story to my princesses for the 13th time and we all fall into a heap of giggles at the same part, even though we know exactly what's going to happen next. 

It's in the moment when I revel in the adventures of a warm, summer day over a hearty dinner with my ruggedly handsome husband and three gorgeous girls. 

It's in the moment where the five of us circle the evening campfire, sipping coffee, chugging root beer, and watching the fireflies dance. 

So if I don't answer, please, leave me a message.  And I'll get back to you.  

"Point your kids in the right direction—
   when they're old they won't be lost." 

Proverbs 22.6  (The Message)

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Monday, July 2, 2012

So that's how it works.

It's funny, really.  

A quirk of nature, Murphy's law, or a paradox of sorts.  

Some days it seems as though God sets out to wreak a bit of havoc on His dear ones... just for kicks.  

I can't imagine that heaven is a boring place, but I do think God definitely has a sense of humor.  

Case in point:

The Blob Fish.

Courtesy of www.pagog.com

Or the Dumbo Octopus.

Courtesy of www.pagog.com

Or Donald Trump's hair.


God.  Is.  Funny.

To further demonstrate, here are a few bits o' wisdom I have come by the hard way:

  • If I officially declare a "housework day" and stay in my pajamas with no make up and a ponytail, I will have unexpected company.  Guaranteed.  Even if I live 20 minutes from town. 

  • If I put on a pot roast for Sunday dinner, someone will inevitably invite us out to dinner after Sunday morning church service.

  • If my sweet hubby is driving with me, the van will assuredly run like a dream.  (And if I am alone in the city, it will mysteriously decide not to start.  He still thinks I'm crazy.)

  • If Ladybug's curly, Rapunzel-ish hair is not in a ponytail, she will become ensconced in the field full of nettles and we will spend many tearful hours sorting it all out.

  • If I wear white, it will most certainly act as a magnetic force and suck the coffee right out of my cup.  Seriously.  Someone should study this scientific phenomenon.

Thank God, my life isn't boring.

Love & coffee!

"A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
   gloom and doom leave you bone-tired." 

Proverbs 17.22 (The Message)

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