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Daily Docket

Special Day– Birthday, Name day, Feast day, Holiday, Saint.
Pace- What speed do I have to go today?  Do I really need to be running like a hare, or can I take it slow like a turtle?  Knowing the pace of the day is good for me.
Priorities- What are the top 5 things I have to get done today?  Did Slade ask me to do something for him?  Do we have appointments?  Do I need to pay a bill or make a phone call?
Parenting- A mommy focus for the day.  A special lunch for Elinor.  A walk with Sophia. Be patient and speak softly today.  Play airplane with Sam.  Talk with Addy late tonight.  Practice piano with Caroline.
Partner- Something sweet, something small, something kind, something for Slade.
The Plan- A skeleton for the day…when I will do what’s on the docket.
Daily Readings- One sentence that captures something inspirational from my readings.
Prayers- Just a reminder, a little circle to remind me to make prayer a priority.
Pantry to Pot- Start dinner at breakfast.  Make meal times intentional and nutritious.
Project- If I have time what is one project I can tackle today?
Professor- What are the school goals for today?
  Water- Remember to stay hydrated.

cooking · family · fun · home tour · kids · play · projects

A DIY Play Kitchen

 My girls outgrew the store bought play kitchens long before they outgrew playing house.  Our solution: a DIY play kitchen.  I wish I had detailed instructions, but a quick search on the web will give you all the information/instructions you will need to complete this project in time for Christmas.  If you are looking for a wonderful gift for a special girl…look no further.  My daughters have enjoyed hours upon hours of fun in this playroom.  I love to watch my kids get lost in play. 

Speaking of playrooms…when it came to making a decision of what to do with the one extra room in the house…a school room, a playroom, or an office…we chose playroom.  I have never regretted that decision.  We filled it with baby dolls and accessories , dress up clothes, play kitchen toys, and a grocery store.  My parents made the little spool table and chairs a few years back.  The girls hand painted it.  They also painted a computer screen for their store using a cardboard box.  The refrigerator is full of realistic play food, the cabinets are stocked with pantry items and dishes.  The girls each have an apron. I bought them a small ironing board and gave them an old iron of mine after cutting the cord.  An old vacuum cleaner (my favorite Oreck), telephones, junk mail, and play money make the imagination play endless. I just love the miniature appliances.  I’ve been served a many gourmet meal from this kitchen.  

Our favorite kitchen toys are from Green Toys.  They are high quality and realistic…making play fun.

  This room is a screened in porch with an outside entrance, and this makes it easy for our neighbors’ daughter to pop in just to play.  Sometimes I only know we have company because I hear the sounds from the playroom.  Funny. The time and money we have spent in this room is well worth it… and it continues to be a delight for my little ones.

Here is a great site to visit to get inspiration and/or instructions to make your own play kitchen.  Just click through all three pieces for instructions for an entire kitchen.
or visit this fantastic board on Pinterest

cooking · food · projects · summer

Sweet Treats

Adalay and Caroline entered the two cakes below in our local 4-H project show in the family living division.  Addy’s cake, the Lemon Pound, won Grand Champion.  Caroline’s cake, the Sock It To Me, won Reserve Grand Champion.  Both cakes are delicious…perfect for any occasion. Enjoy the weekend!
Sock It To Me Cake


  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbls. brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbls milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Take 2 Tbls. of the cake mix and mix with the cinnamon,brown sugar, and pecans; set aside.
  2.  In large bowl, blend cake mix,sour cream,oil,water,eggs, and sugar. 
  3. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Pour 2/3 of batter into greased and floured bundt pan. 
  4. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture in the center of this and spread remaining batter evenly over this.
  5.  Bake at 375° for 45-55 minutes. Cool in pan for 25 minutes. Remove from pan.
  6. To make glaze; Blend powdered sugar and milk together to make a glaze. Drizzle over cake. 

Lemon Pound Cake 
recipe found at add a pinch

  • 3 sticks butter (1½ cups)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • For the Lemon Buttermilk Glaze
  • 1½ cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare bundt or tube pan by coating with shortening or butter and flouring light. Set aside.
  2. Let butter, cream cheese, and eggs come to room temperature.
  3. Cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar til fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add lemon juice and zest and combine well. Add flour and salt and vanilla.
  4. Mix until just well-combined but do not over mix.
  5. Pour into prepared bundt or tube pan.
  6. Bake until golden brown and skewer inserted into middle of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  7. As the cake is cooling, whisk together ingredients confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and buttermilk to make the glaze. Allow to sit until cake has fully cooled, then drizzle over top of lemon pound cake.

fun · gardening · · kids · learning · projects · rabbits

Rabbit Project

Just a few pics from the 4-H Project Show.  It is good family fun, and a great learning experience.  We are considering a new breed for our Bunny Barn….Holland Lops.  We have never raised a small breed rabbit, but we are excited to try.  We are hoping that a smaller breed will be easier for Elinor and Sophia to manage.  Our Satins are a large breed meat rabbit…weighing about 10 pounds.  

We have also been discussing breeding our rabbits for meat.  So far we have only showed our stock, but hopefully this fall we can begin to breed for food!  A friend told me that there are excellent YouTube instructional videos for butchering rabbits.  My dad also knows how to do this.  We tried once, but I backed out.  It’s hard to butcher a rabbit that has a name…different strategy next time. 
When choosing a breed it is good to know what you desire from the rabbit project.  Do you want a pet, a meat rabbit, a show rabbit, or you may want to become a breeder and sell your stock.  Gourmet restaurants buy rabbit from reputable breeders. And small breed rabbits sell well during the Easter and Christmas season.  Also it is good to research how to house your animal.  We have hanging cages.  Rabbits are not heat tolerant animals, and that makes keeping them alive in the summer months a difficult job.  We have fans installed in the barn, and a sprinkler on the barn roof that comes on during the hottest part of the day.   
Rabbit droppings are an excellent fertilizer for your garden as well.  It is not hot, therefore you can just spread it on the garden without drying it or letting it sit.  It is impossible to burn up your garden with rabbit droppings.  
These are just a few things to consider when deciding if rabbits are right for you. 

fun · · kids · projects

Piano, Piano, Piano

 Adalay Cait 
 Caroline Beth
Sophia Teress
 Mini Sonatina No.2, Movement I by Jane Smisor Bastien
“All the Better For Her” from Sense and Sensibility by Patrick Doyle
Winking Star by James Bastien
Brother John by James Bastien

Sarabande by George Frederick Handel
Siciliana from Sonata No.2 for flute and harpsichord by Johann Sebastian Bach

faith · fall · family · food · homeschooling · · learning · marriage · motherhood · parenting · projects · seasons

How to Get Your Life Together In a Day

Sometimes I make things so complicated, and truly that is unnecessary.  I realize there are circumstances that require extreme measures, but my life is not one of them.  Why do I get so stressed and anxious…wound up like an eight day clock?  I suspect it is because I am tired, just plain tired.  Being tired is not a sign that my life is falling apart.  Maybe it is a sign that my life is good, that I have a full and wonderful life…so much to be thankful for.

However, when things start piling up, pressing in, and coming undone I know it is time to do something different, settle in and refocus…just tweak things a bit.  There is no need for me to take a magic eraser to my whole life or to go through everything with a fine toothed comb.  Just a gentle redirection is all that is needed.  Gentle, but thorough.  You see, the bones are good, the underneath is still in tact, the anchor is what holds this ship in times of crazy schedules and busy days.  In times past I would begin a complete overhaul when I felt this way, but I have learned that extreme makeovers are most often the acting out of obsessions.  You know…that running dialogue in your head that makes you feel thin and shaky, nervous and irritable.  We moms have to learn to be gentle, even with ourselves.  

A very dear friend asked me the other day if I believed that sometimes there are cases where a person who was once whole could now be broken, with no hope of being whole again.  I listened to the question and took my friend seriously. I told this friend that, yes, I think it is possible, and that she did not have to be whole.  As I have thought about our conversation I have come to the conclusion that we are all broken in some way, and that it is most likely that we always will be.  Being whole is not about being completely put together…there is a reason that all the King’s horses and all the King’s men could not put Humpty together again.  Life comes down on us, it presses us, it breaks us, and we fall apart.  Once we have been broken there is no way to be whole again…not the kind of whole that we desire.  Being whole often times means we do not want to suffer this life and its trials, we long for naivety and simplicity.  But, those who get out in the world and bare burdens, get hands dirty, work hard, walk with damaged people, befriend the unfriendly, and try to be a part of the world will always be is inevitable.  The only way I ever imagine that I can avoid this is by shutting the world and people out.  In the end, I would rather be broken.

And this can apply to practical areas of my life as well.  If I desire to be out in the world living and learning with my kids, if I value relationship over everything else, if I put people on the top of my priority list, well then other things suffer…my house, my laundry, my body, my put togetherness.  I always feel that my life is a little undone, a little unkept.  But, in a way this is intentional.  I have chosen other things, to me they are more important things.  When criticisms come, and they will, I must be prepared to OWN my own life and choices.  I must be rooted and grounded in my heart.  I must also be willing to be honest, truthful with myself most of all.  This is the way that I face my life head on and how I deal with brokenness.

Today, as I was dealing with all of the emotions and stress that obsessions cause I waited for the panic to pass.  I got still and a wonderful thought came to me.  It does not take much to Get Your Life Together, Mandy.  In fact I am confident that it only takes one day of gentle internal work to feel better. This is because I am not expecting too much from myself or anyone around me…we are all broken. It is easy to be gentle when I recognize this.  Here are a few things I am doing today to regain a sense of confidence and beauty…how I am getting it together.

I Am…

  • Recognizing the dialogue in my head.  I am not trying to change it, just being aware of the Editor in Chief, the voice that keeps bossing me around, criticizing me.
  • Writing this post to share my thoughts, getting them out in the open.
  • Talking to my mom on the phone and enjoying our friendship.
  • Putting on a fresh face and a nice outfit.
  • Planning a trip to the pumpkin patch near our house.
  • Lighting candles.
  • Letting my kids be tired as well, we have been very busy.  No drill sergeant barking or correction.  
  • Taking a survey of my pantry and planning the meals I want to cook this week.
  • Doing a few loads of laundry.
  • Taking care of a speeding ticket that I got a few months back.  I made it through my probation period, and a big stress is off. 
  • Opening windows and doors to let the cool fresh breeze in.
  • Drinking Ceylon Tea..a new favorite and a wonderful gift from my husband.
  • Being quiet and just doing the next thing…gently walking through this house…room by room… accepting and being very thankful.
  • Praying the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.” Over, and over again.
  • Accepting the financial stresses of a large family lifestyle and owning my spending choices.
  • Letting my kids be who they are…not requiring that they be caught up, on target, or ahead. 
  • Washing dishes in warm soapy water.
  • Listening to sounds…a lawn mower, Mockingbirds, eggs boiling on the stove.  Just listen.
  • Smelling the things cooking, the fresh autumn air, Samuel’s little head, Elinor’s sweaty puppy dog yumminess, out of the dryer laundry.
  • Waiting for my husband to come home so I can give him a hug.

This is what my day is shaping up to be…a wonderful day, a blessed day, another day to be a mom, wife, daughter, friend. 


family · home tour · parenting · projects

A Room of Their Own

When I read Virginia Woolf’s A Room Of One’s Own a few years ago I was struck by the notion that women are in desperate need of personal space, literal space.  The reality of having a special space that is all my own is something that I cannot manage at this time in my life.  I cannot even go to the bathroom by myself.  But, I remember a time when I did not share everything, I had a little place to be by myself and dream, sing, pray, read, and think.  I had a room of my own when I was young.

It is this memory, and the warmth it creates that inspired me to create a special place that my daughters call their own, a room of their own…even if they do share the space.  For my oldest two daughters, sharing is all they know, they have always shared a room.  But, it is ok…it is their own room together. I love listening to them giggle at night, sharing secrets, whispering things to each other that they will never tell me.  Sisterhood is nourished in shared space, their special place.

Being the oldest in a large family has its perks, but the perks come at a price.  The older children bear a kind of burden that the littles will never know. When the littles are big will they remember all the little sacrifices their big sisters made for them, all the times that they were shown kindness or allowed to be a part…the gentleness, the patience, the caring?  Just last night I overheard my oldest two making Christmas gift lists for their little sisters, and I think a major homemade doll furniture project is underway.  This makes me hope…maybe this lifestyle creates and nourishes true affection.  I try to keep that in mind when I see attitudes, bickering, and drama.  

As Queen Mother, I like to inspire and facilitate affection…to encourage it.  When my older girls give, I like to give back.  In this way I hope they feel the rewards of their kindness, hard work, and selflessness.  It keeps things reciprocal, and shouldn’t all relationships be reciprocal?  I do not do these things to be fair…fairness is overrated and impossible in large families.  I do these things because I love my girls, and they love me…we are family.    

I like to give back to my older girls by treating them to special things like going to a favorite restaurant, spending time alone with me, buying a new outfit, picking up a specific treat when I go grocery shopping, giving them time alone when they request it, and making sure that I help them pursue their own interests and passions.  And that leads me to what I want to share with you in this post.

A new room of their own!

For a couple of weeks we have been working on this project together… refreshing paint, buying new bedding, ordering new accessories, and having a ball. I taught the girls how to paint a room, make and hang curtains (no sew), and we even made a fun little wall accessory out of twinkle lights.  They have been wanting a more “teenagery” (as they call it) room.  So here it is!  I hope you enjoy the before and after pictures.  As you will see, this room was in desperate need of a make-over.

Before & After

We ordered a few posters of their favorite musicals and movies and framed them; The Sound of Music, Gone With the Wind, The Princess Bride, and Meet Me in St. Louis.  
An Audrey Hepburn of her in her famous gown from Sabrina has still not arrived.  
The girls can’t wait to see it.   


The girls love reading in bed…

On Caroline’s Night Stand
Robinson Crusoe
The Story of the World Volume 2
Hans Christian Anderson
Lord of the Rings
Alice in Wonderland
Out of the Silent Planet
On Addy’s Night Stand
The Trial and Death of Socrates
The House of Hades
Eusibius The History of the Church
Pride and Prejudice
The Norton Anthology of World Literature
Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare

  • You can visit my Pinterest Board and see all the links and inspirations.  I warn you though, I am not a good Pinterest person.  I cannot seem to get into it that much.  I did find it useful when trying to put together this room.  Maybe some afternoon I will sit down with a cup of tea and discover what everyone else seems to love, but for now I remain a novice. 
  • We spray painted the bookshelf and lined the back with contact paper from the Dollar Store.
  • We also spray painted the lamp shades.  I have watermelon pink spray paint dust all over my garage. 
  • We have a navy and white chevron rug on our wishlist…maybe for Christmas! 
For those of you with older kids who do a lot, how do you keep the balance?  Do you do special things for those who help you carry a heavy load?  

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