Monday, January 26, 2015

3 a.m. and the police are at the door!

That's never a good way to wake up. My thoughts immediately start to race. Did something happen to our college son? Did someone break into the cars? Did something happen to a neighbor?

No. We back up to an apartment complex and a gal had gotten into a fight with her boyfriend. He threw her Prius keys over the fence into our backyard. In the middle of the night. Now the policeman wants to search our backyard. In the rain. He is apologetic. I feel sorry for HIM having to wake us and search around in the dark and the rain.

My mind wanders as I lie in bed and can't fall back to sleep. Ephesians 4:26 comes to mind: In your anger do not sin. I like what Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary says about this verse:

If there is just occasion to express displeasure at what is wrong, and to reprove, see that it be without sin. We give place to the devil, when the first motions of sin are not grievous to our souls; when we consent to them; and when we repeat an evil deed. This teaches that as sin, if yielded unto, lets in the devil upon us, we are to resist it, keeping from all appearance of evil.

I'm sure that the man had a reason for his anger. He should be allowed to express those feelings to his girlfriend. However, his anger led him to actions he should not have effected. I'm not saying that throwing keys over a fence is a sin. But "consenting to the anger and repeating the evil deed" is. 

In case you were wondering, the policeman did not find the keys. I could NOT fall back to sleep until almost morning. Then I missed my run date with my running partner. We looked again for the keys this morning. Still nothing. 

A seemingly harmless act will now have expensive repercussions. Replacing keys can be costly! The takeaway? Think through your actions when you are angry to be sure you don't regret them later! 

Now, I'm off to make a second cup of coffee. I'm gonna need it today!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sonlight Turns 25!

To commemorate Sonlight Curriculum's silver anniversary, they are hosting a year-long blog party on the 25th of each month. The topic for this month is Introduce us to your family. Are you just getting started homeschooling? Or do you have graduates? Or somewhere in between?

I first began homeschooling in 2000. My kids were 5 years, 2-and-a-half years and 3 months old. Since it was only Kindergarten, I was pretty confident that I could handle it, even if I did have a newborn! I had attended a homeschooling convention the month before and had found out about Sonlight at a workshop (thanks Shawne and Katy!). I ordered my materials and was so excited to be able to homeshool using BOOKS and have a plan! (Love the IGs!) Although it was challenging, that first year was so fun and it gave me the confidence to try it again the next year. And the next. And the next. Over the years, we have enjoyed our time together reading, learning, and traveling to visit many places that we had learned about.

Fast forward 15 years and now my kids are 19, 17 and 14.5. I've been homeschooling for 15 years and all of them with Sonlight, with some supplemental stuff thrown in as well as joining various co-ops and support groups. My oldest is now in college, a sophomore at the University of Florida. He used Cores A through H before going to a private high school. My second son is now a junior and is currently doing Core 300. He is dual enrolled in our local community college for math and writing, takes advanced Physics at a co-op and Italian 2 through Landry Academy. My daughter is a freshman and she is currently doing Core 100 as well as taking Geometry, Biology, Spanish 1 and Logic through PEP, a local co-op.

Although my career as a homeschool parent will draw to a close in three years, I will cherish the time we've had together: the fun, the memories and the great stories!

On a recent trip to the Eternal City
Be sure to check out what other bloggers have to say about homeschooling with Sonlight!

Sonlight Blog Party

Friday, January 23, 2015

Wish list: What are you coveting?

The Style Me Bloggers are back with another post! What are you coveting; what's on your wish list? Luckily, I’m a pretty contented gal. I have spent years cultivating that attitude thanks to the Proverbs so I don’t pine for things very often. 

I did reach a place where I didn't like my house. We had let things go for so long for a number of reasons (kids are small~what’s the point?/we want to travel instead/let’s fix up the boat and go on a year-long cruise/single income family). But now the kids are growing up and are no longer trashing furniture, the boat is sold and is no longer a drain and, well, we still ARE a single income family, for the most part. That part has not changed. However, with the other changes, we can now focus on getting the house squared away and making it more attractive and more pleasing.

It began, interestingly enough, with the economic downturn which prevented us from selling our 3 bedroom house and upgrading to a bigger home. We ended up staying put and added on a bedroom to the house. Then a moldy shower convinced us to do a major bathroom renovation in our master bath. That went so well that we revamped the hall bath as well. And a friend’s advice of painting the brick in the family room and another friend's recommendation of furniture rearranging has led to a completely new look in there. I’m finally loving my home!

My weight loss last year caused me to need to buy new clothes. That led to me be willing to try Alison Lumbatis’s Style Me Challenges back in the fall which led me to try new things, clothingwise. I’ve always been a pretty traditional person, and especially so in my clothes. I like to buy timeless pieces and I don’t follow the trends very much. However, Alison's challenges have gotten me out of some ruts and have encouraged me to be more adventurous and creative.

So with those things in mind, here are some things that are on my wish list right now

1. Oversized watch – It doesn’t have to be anything super fancy or expensive. I’m happy with a $10 Walmart one. It was an item on the challenges that I never did get.

2. Cognac shoes (both flats and boots) – I’ve only recently begun wearing boots and I usually use black as a neutral. I think cognac will be a welcome and versatile change. But I'm picky with flats. Not too pointy or rounded. Not too much toe cleavage...

3. Losing the weight I gained on vacation in Italy – It’s just not budging. I really need to buckle down and get focused and quit cheating. I really do. I want it GONE!

4. A dehydrator – I think it would be great to be able to dry my own fruit and tomatoes and chilis from my garden. But I want a good one and good ones cost $$$.

5. A large walk-in closet with wooden hangers – I love Carrie’s closet and love how it looks like shopping in a boutique! However, mine is small and there’s no room for wooden hangers! That being the case I would love to have all matching huggable hangers. It would create more space in my closet and help it look neat since the hangers would all match.

6. New floors in the house. - I'm really tired of carpet. I want it all gone.

7. A house at the beach. - This *is* a wish list, right? A girl can dream?!

Okay, that's about it. Check out the other bloggers below to see what their wish lists are!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pineapple Soy Pork Scallopini

Chops on the grill
This recipe came about because I had pineapple juice I wanted to use up from the champagne punch from our Christmas Eve party. It was quick, easy and very tasty!

1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup white wine
2 garlic cloves, sliced
pork scallopini (I made 8) or thin cut pork chops

Place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl or zip lock bag. Add meat to marinade and allow to sit 10-30 minutes. Grill until done. Place marinade in a small saucepan and cook until reduced.
Cook the marinade to make it safe to eat.
Serve the chops with sauce and your favorite sides. I served it with roasted cauliflower. 
Roasted cauliflower is an easy side dish. 

Linking to Skip to My Lou's Made by You Monday
Skip To My Lou

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Zooma Half Marathon

Today I ran the Zooma Half Marathon which was in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. This is a women's race series. My running partner, Lisa, and Lisa's friend Heather and I signed up for it about 3 months ago. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in downtown Fernandina and it just happened to be right by the start! It was great because we were able to walk out to the start just a few minutes before the start.
Ready to start!
The course winds through downtown Fernandina...
On Center Street
...turns north on 14th street and crosses over a bridge which then leads you through a back gate into Ft. Clinch State Park. 
Beautiful morning!
After running to the beach access area, you turn around in the parking lot and run out of the park, onto the beach road and then end at the Ritz Carlton. The worst part was running through soft sand. It was a bit longer than 13.1 (more like 13.3.)
Although I did not set a personal record, I had a great race. It helped to have Michael and Annie along with Lisa's daughter, Rachel and her friend, Shelby cheering us on. We even had our good friends, John and Denise, cheer us on! They came up and stayed with other friends Lu and Sandy, who hosted us the night before for a tasty Tex Mex dinner!

Zooma had a nice after-party on the lawn at the Ritz but we were starving and ready to eat our well-deserved post-race burger, so we didn't linger long.
Our blingy medals
Thanks to Lu's suggestion, we ate at T Rays and had a great burger!
I even ate the bun and the fries!
Now that that one's behind me, I've gotta find something else to train for. My Sonlight pals have invited me to run in their hometowns. Hmmm...I'll have to see when those races are! Destination races are fun!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sonlight Curriculum

I'm in Colorado for the Sonlight Training Conference, getting all trained up for the 2015 convention season. Sonlight is celebrating their 25 year anniversary and they have lots of cool things planned in conjunction with that.
Company luncheon in the warehouse
Clowning around with Donna of NH
I enjoy coming out here. This is my 7th training conference (one was in Florida) so it certainly feels familiar by now, but I still get a little thrill getting to go to HQ.
The indefatigable Luke giving us some computer training!
 (That's not a duck face. I caught him mid sentence.)
We had some snow on the first day, just for me because I prayed for it, but the weather started warming up after that.

We are feeling the absence of some friends who are no longer with Sonlight but we are making new friends with the new people. (Jamie of Alabama can be seen in the picture below. She's a stylish southern cutie and you can check out her blog here!)
Quick break between trainings
Sonlight has some fun stuff planned to celebrate their 25 years. One is a year-long blog party that they are hosting on the 25th of each month. Be sure to come back for my post on the 25th! If you're a Sonlighter and a blogger you can join the fun here.

Sonlight Blog Party

Can you spot Sarita??
If you're a Sonlight and NOT a blogger you can share your Sonlight story here. Because if you are a Sonlighter you are part of the Sonlight timeline too!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Apple, Bacon, Caramelized Onion and Brie Pizza

It was pizza night, but rather than making our usual homemade pizza we decided to mix it up a bit. I remembered a recipe for an apple and brie pizza but I couldn't find it anywhere so I decided to just do my own thing. Since I didn't want to add a tomato sauce but thinking it needed something "wet," I decided to brown up some onions. The sweetness of the onion would complement the sweetness of the apples. I was initially going to use prosciutto to add a little protein and a salty element but the two stores Michael went to didn't have it so we made the switch to bacon. I recently discovered Hormel Black Label bacon (the link has a coupon) and it is my new favorite! I love it when the grocery store has it on BOGO and I have a coupon! I stock up and throw it in the freezer so I always have this yummy bacon on hand. This past Christmas we went through 8 packages of it! (I made a LOT of bacon wrapped dates!)
Onion and bacon
Back to the topic at hand. I sliced up the brie and the apple while the onion was slowly cooking in some olive oil and the bacon was cooking away in the microwave.
Apples and brie
When all the different elements were ready (mis-en-place), it was time to assemble the pizza. We were initially thinking of grilling it but now that we are using a cold fermented dough, it comes out really wet and hard to work with; it wouldn't transfer well to the grill. I stuck with baking it on a Pampered Chef  stone cookie sheet. First, I spread out the onion, sprinkling the bacon on top of that. Then I arranged the apple slices and finally, the brie.
Ready for the oven!
Since I didn't know if Timothy would like this "fancy" pizza (Annie was at a sleepover), I made a small regular pizza (sauce, mozzarella, bacon and onion) in small cast iron frying pan (picked up that tip recently somewhere but can't remember where). 
Personal pan deep dish delish!
Both came out beautifully. And tasted really great! 
The final product!
If you follow THM, this is on plan but a crossover since the dough (which was fermented for 5 days) and apple are E and the bacon and brie are S. Plus the onion (E) is cooked in oil (S). Regardless, it was tasty AND on plan!

Linking up with Skip to My Lou.
Skip To My Lou

Sunday, January 11, 2015

St. Augustine in 2015

Last year we decided to intentionally spend time visiting and getting to know St. Augustine better. It was so much fun that we decided to do it again this year!

We kicked off the first visit of the year with a trip to an art exhibit at the Visitor's Center. This exhibit was titled The First City Through the Eyes of Masters and is part of the 450th Commemoration of St. Augustine. It featured works from Florida painters of the 19th and early 20th centuries who wintered at Henry Flagler's Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College). These artists painted landmarks in St. Augustine, from the Castillo de San Marcos, to the city gates, to the slave market, to various buildings around town and would sell them to tourists, much like the galleries around town do today.
In the Visitor's Center
The exhibit had several of Frank Henry Shapleigh's works as well as William Staples Drown, Anthony Thieme and George Seavey and Michael's favorite, Arthur Vidal Deihl. All were part of a single collection belonging to Cici and Hyatt Brown who began collecting Florida artwork in 1997. The neat thing about this exhibit is they had photographs next to some of the paintings that show what the scene looks like presently. Check out this link for a sampling of the artwork.
The artwork was behind those walls. Photography was NOT allowed and being the rule follower that I am, I didn't take any pictures of the artwork. Unlike SOME people! *cough*
The exhibit also offered a walking tour where you could follow that map around town and see the current version of the historical paintings. But alas, the weather was not conducive to walking around town and gawk at buildings. However, despite the dreary weather, we did manage to walk to the Barley Republic, a pub on Spanish Street where we had a beer and a snack. The weather was much more conducive to this kind of activity!
Mine was a Kentucky Bourbon ale. Quite tasty! Michael had a cream ale that I didn't care for.
After that respite, we headed back to the Castillo parking lot to retrieve our car. 
Wet, wet, WET!
But not terribly cold, thankfully!
We decided to drive to the St. Augustine Distillery and check it out. We had been to the Ice Plant before but the Distillery is relatively new. They make small batch whiskey, vodka, gin and rum (but they didn't have whiskey or rum yet. )
We'll be Bahk!
We were too late for the tour so we walked around the static display and the gift shop but will need to come back in the summer when the rum is available. (My husband is secretly a pirate!)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Style Me Bloggers: From my closet...

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something in a shade of blue...

Lest you think that one of my children is getting married, let me be quick to assure you that is NOT what this post is about!

It's the topic for this week's Style Me Bloggers' post!

I put together an outfit that incorporated these elements. First up, *something old*. That was going to be easy since I have plenty of *old* things in my closet. Since Florida is seeing low temps, I decided on a pair of green J. Crew cords I have. I picked these up years ago at our church's garage sale. They were in a smallish size but Hey, J. Crew, and I *am* on a diet... Thankfully, since THM, I have been able to fit into these pants.
Again, since it's cold, I knew I would want to throw on a layering cami for warmth. This was a hand-me-down so another old thing.

Now for the *borrowed* and the *something in a shade of blue* (knock two birds out with one stone)... I wanted to pair the pants with a navy sweater but I had worn my cable knit blue sweater the day before and my cropped Gap one looked funny with so much cami sticking out. I asked my son if he had a navy sweater I could borrow and he had a comfy cotton J. Crew one! It just so  happens that he wears a small in men's and it fit me perfectly. Then I asked my daughter if she had a scarf I could borrow and she gave me two to pick from. I selected the floral one to lighten my overall look (navy and green can be pretty dark.)
And finally for the *something new*... I paired this outfit with my brand-new-never-been-worn Gap white puffer vest. I had been looking for a white puffer since the GYPO Fall Challenge but couldn't find one I liked that was in my price range. After Christmas, I had some returns to make at the St. Augustine Outlet Mall and went into the Gap. Found one there for $18!! I had seen it there before for $35 but didn't want to spend that much. (It was originally $60!) Score!
Also new (this season) are my Old Navy booties. I used to not be a bit boot fan. At. all. Now I own 4 pair: two tall and two short. I bought these for the Style Me Pretty Fall Challenge.
So there you have it! My outfit from my closet incorporating new, old, borrowed and blue items.
Check out the links below to see how the other Style Me Bloggers interpreted this post!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Black Currant Mustard Vinaigrette

Are you familiar with Aldi? We just recently got one in St. Augustine, about 40 minutes from where I live. About a month ago, several girlfriends, my mom and I decided to go on a field trip to check it out.

Aldi pride themselves as being different than other stores. If you've never been to Europe then it might feel weird, but I just felt like I was shopping in an Italian supermarket.

One thing that is different is that you pay to use a shopping cart. You put a quarter in the cart and then when you return it, you get your quarter back. That means that store workers don't have to go around the parking lot gathering up carts. Because if you're lazy and abandon your cart (and your quarter), you can bet your coin purse that there'll be someone who will return it and make a quarter! (*cough* mom)

Another thing you'll notice, when you check out, they only accept cash and debit cards. No credit. And no bags. You either bring your own or you can purchase a reusable bag.

While you're shopping you'll see items that look vaguely familiar but they won't be your conventional brands like Nabisco and Kelloggs. The packaging is identical except for the name. (I bought Peak Bars rather than Cliff Bars.) And you'll also be able to get in and out quickly because the store size is significantly smaller. Rather than stocking 30,000 items, they only carry about 1,400 of the most popular products.

On my trip, they had some seasonal items so I bought a nice 4-pack of mustards imported from France. Unfortunately when I got home I found one of the jars had broken. So it then became a trio.
Trio: the one that got away was basil mustard
When cooking dinner the other night, I decided to use one to make a mustard vinaigrette. Since I had just purchased raspberries and wanted to add them to my salad, I decided to try the Black Currant Mustard. Success! 

It was super simple. First I took a teaspoonful of mustard...

Then I added champagne vinegar (but any wine vinegar would do) and extra virgin olive oil. Added a couple of pinches of kosher salt, gave it a good whirl and BAM! Deliciousness! 
So yummy!

A perfect accompaniment to a salad of greens, feta, pecans and raspberries.

Try it! Fresh ingredients, no preservatives, super fast. Why wouldn't you? I'll try the same thing with the other mustards I got too: honey mustard and tomato and olive mustard. Don't those sound like they'll make lovely vinaigrettes?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Lemon Chicken Piccata

When your Meyer lemon tree provides you with lots of lemons, how is a gal to use them all up? The first thing that came to mind was Lemon Chicken. So I jumped on the trusty ol' Pinterest and did a quick search. Yup. LOTS of ideas came up! As I scanned the recipes, I wanted something that was not complicated and that did not have a lot of ingredients. Bingo. Found itBut I also wanted it to be "on plan" so I had to make a few adjustments to make it so. First of all, I eliminated the flour. I could have subbed some other on-plan flour but I just didn't want to. I pan fried the chicken cutlets (I made 8) in a tablespoon of butter.  

Cooked them in batches of 3
Then once they were all cooked (but not necessarily cooked through), I removed them from the pan and added a sliced shallot and let that brown up a bit. Then I deglazed the pan with some chardonnay (about 1/2 cup I reckon...I eyeballed it). Added in the juice of one Meyer lemon and then added the chicken back in, sprinkled it with salt, added a tad more wine and placed the lid on top. Simmered it about 15 minutes so that the insides were cooked through. [Side note: I love my Le Creuset pan that my dad found at a thrift store for $5.]

I served the chicken with zucchini fries and a salad dressed with black currant mustard vinaigrette. Tomorrow I'll share that quick and easy recipe with you!
Buon appetito!
One of my favorite sayings: "I love cooking with wine! Sometimes I even add it to the food!" certainly applies here. Salute!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Time to plan

Now that the new year is upon us, it's time to tackle the year's to do list - that's how I like to think of New Year's Resolutions - and as usual, I like to begin with taking a look at how last year went. 

Run the Disney half marathon and PR at the Gate RR.  I did complete the Disney half but I was way off my goal of 2:17. We ended up being in the very last corral so we had to pass everyone! However, I ran the Jacksonville Bank Half Marathon last weekend and did it in 2:17 so I guess my goal to run a half in 2:17 was achieved. I did not PR at the Gate RR. After weeks of getting up early to do speedwork at the track I was more than disappointed that my time had not significantly dropped and consequently I dropped out of doing speedwork at the track. If I'm going to be slow, so be it. 
Run a 5K in sub 30 mins. Since I had been trying to get faster, I wanted to see what I could do in a short race. Completely forgot/missed this. I didn't run a 5K race but I did run 3.1 miles in under 30 mins. I guess I'll need to make it official though.
Strength train. I have kept it up at the Y but I never did try either Ballet Beautiful or T-Tapp. I just prefer going to the Y. I tried a Body Pump class this summer, but going into the fall the time (mid-morning) was inconvenient for me with homeschooling. So it's back to early mornings on Tues and Thurs.
Get to 25% body fat. Since finding Trim, Healthy Mama I reached a weight I hadn't seen in more than two decades. However, travel in the spring and even more so, the summer, derailed my hard work. Although I am not back to where I was, I am no longer at where I was either. 
Climb Mt. LeConte (again). When I tried to make reservations, the lodge was booked for the year. So I added the date to my calendar for when they open reservations for the following year and made reservations for then. Our climb will be next June. Michael and I climbed this third highest peak in the Smokey Mountains before we had kids. This time we will do it with kids. The cool thing about this hike is that there's a lodge at the top that you spend the night in. This time I know to bring an extra blanket. We made reservations for 10 so we will be bringing a few extras with us!

Read through the Jewish NT with commentary.  This didn't happen. At all.
Read 4 Spiritual Books. Although I didn't read the 4 books I had set out to read (okay I read one: Bread and Wine), I did read! I completed 3 Busy Moms' Bible Studies (very good stuff!), reread Philip Keller's Lessons From a Sheepdog (so *SO* good!) and completed then immediately started over again Experiencing God as well as completing several YouVersion devotionals.
Meet with married couples.  We did meet with several couples and also co-taught another marriage retreat in October. This is definitely an area we are passionate about and a ministry we can do together!
Meet with my mentor. We have been consistently meeting. Love our times together!  I am
also mentoring someone. I'm telling ya, everyone needs a Paul, a Barnabas and a Timothy!
Lead a Women's Tea. I did do this in the spring and then organized a fall retreat. And now I'm ready for a break.

Blog. I did make some improvements in this area. However, I still fell short of two posts per month until the latter part of the year when it picked up due to the Style Me Challenges I joined.
Photography. I did take the class with Annie and I learned a lot. And then I didn't put what I learned into practice. So it's slowly slipping away. Annie is just so much better at it than I am. She has an artistic eye that I lack. I'll have her be my photographer.
St. Augustine in 2014. This came about because we like to go to St. Augustine at Christmas and see the lights. With that in mind we made it a goal to have monthly visits to the oldest city, exploring sites and restaurants. We mostly hit that goal, minus June and maybe July since we were traveling.
Scripture memory with Timothy and Annie. Doing a little better this school year. 
Go to Italy. We did it! Saw lots of places, ate way too much yummy food, visited with family and had a blast.

Although I no longer worked as a Sonlight Advisor, I did work for BookShark, Sonlight's sister company and will continue to do so this year. That came as a bit of a surprise. It was a reminder that the Lord takes care of us, which leads me to the biggest goal of all and that was and continues to be...

Follow God's lead. The Lord places something in my life that I cannot foresee or plan for. I will follow where he leads and drop any of my plans that are not of Him. Last year was my "year of saying Yes to Him." 

And now for my goals for 2015:

Run a half marathon Since I need something to train for as motivation for running, I signed up for the Zooma Half Marathon in Fernandina. It's in just a few weeks. And since I did complete a half marathon in 2:17, my new goal is to beat that time even if it's only by a minute. I will not run the Gate RR this year due to a homeschooling convention. 
Run a 5K in sub 30 mins. Since I completely forgot about this goal and therefore missed it, I will keep it on my to do list for this year.
Strength train. I will simply keep on keeping on in this area. 
Get back to goal weight. Using the Trim, Healthy Mama lifestyle, I will resume eating right and getting back to the weight I had reached. 
Climb Mt. LeConte (again). Now that the reservations have been made, we will be able to check this one off the list too. I'm looking forward to some nice mountain hikes this summer! It will be interesting to see who the 10 people will end up being!

Read 4 Spiritual Books. Continuing with this annual goal, I have pinpointed 4 books to read this year. The first one is to continue rereading Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby but this time I'm reading it with a friend. Since I enjoyed Philip Keller's Lessons From a Sheepdog so much I purchased an anthology of his selected works. And I'll give The Holy Wild and God is Able another try. I will also start Rick Warren's YouVersion devotional again. This will be my third time reading though it. Can you tell I like it?
Marriage ministry.  We aren't exactly sure what this will look like this year (another retreat? something else?) but since this is an area we are passionate about we will pursue doing this ministry together!
Mentoring. I plan to continue meeting with my mentor and being a mentor to a friend. I so love our times together!  I can't stop saying it: 
everyone needs a Paul, a Barnabas and a Timothy!

Blog. I monetized my blog at the end of 2014 and I paired up with some other Style Me Challengers who formed the Style Me Bloggers. We decided to keep blogging together in 2015. I really enjoy doing this with this group of ladies. Plus I really need/value the accountability this group provides. I am attending a blogging lunch in a few days and I hope to learn some good tips and tricks.
St. Augustine in 2015. We had so much fun visiting St. Augustine in 2014 that we will continue exploring this town in 2015. I will try to blog about our visits. 
Focus on the Home. We have started slowly working on the house, beginning with adding on a bedroom, then remodeling the master bath and then the hall bath and finally doing some work in the living room. I haven't blogged much about these changes but I plan to go back and get caught up as well as move forward with some new projects. I am finally getting to the point where I like my house!
Bedder Covers. And saving the best for last, Michael has invented and patented an idea that we will pursue making a reality this year. If you live in Jacksonville, plan on seeing what it is at One Spark this April! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

After weeks of frantic activity, Christmas, quickly followed by New Year's, finally came!

I was supposed to do a home tour post last week but I just didn't find the time to sit down at the keyboard and do it! 

So here's a quick tour of our home, all decorated for Christmas (before it all comes down)!

Our live tree
Our tree is always live. This year we did not add all the ornaments we own. I went with a simpler selection. We have quite a few because the kids get one every year from their aunts and uncles. When they move out, they'll take them with them and then our tree will feel bare!

Next to our tree is our manger scene We bought this one years ago at a craft fair in Hickory, NC when the kids were young. I liked the rusticness of the simple wooden shapes. Plus I liked that the kids could play with the figures without fear of breaking them. Although we are not Jewish, we have a menorrah. Jesus was Jewish and we are into our Jewish heritage because of Him!

Decked out buffet
Our buffet in the dining room is all dressed up for the holiday with an advent wreath and apothecary jars. I had been wanting these kind of jars for a while and finally found some that I really liked and could afford at Beall's Outlet this summer. I've been having fun decorating for the seasons with them.

Festive apothecary jars
I filled one with red and white ornaments, pinecones and pieces of fresh Christmas tree. The other one has small red and silver balls, peppermints, mini pinecones and fresh Christmas tree branches.

Fireplace mantel

And, finally, here's our mantel. The stockings for the kids were made by my mother. Mine was too, actually, when I was little! Michael's is the one he had as a child. That's why it's different than the others.

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus! And here's to a healthy new year!