Monday, September 30, 2013

Summer Wine Punch

When we had our college football tailgate party last month, I wanted to try a new cocktail.  I found this recipe in one of my cookbooks and it is now definitely one of my favorites.  It's light and refreshing and very similar to sangria.  

Summer Wine Punch

3 cups fresh strawberries, halved
1/4 cup sugar
1 bottle chilled Riesling
1 quart chilled lemon-lime soda or club soda
ice cubes

Chill all ingredients before mixing them together.  Put strawberries into chilled bowl.  Sprinkle sugar over and stir until strawberries are evenly coated.  Pour wine and chilled soda into bowl and serve immediately.  
Makes 2 quarts.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Marlie turns 6!

Last month Marlie turned six years old.  I enjoy making a big deal of birthday parties, but by no means create a carnival for my kid.  I just hope that the celebration we create will remind them of how special they are to me.  However, this year I tried to be very intentional about giving Marlie the party that she wanted.
Even though she hasn't shown any interest in Rapunzel or Tangled in about a year, she decided she wanted a Tangled party.  The theme was set!
For the past 5 years I've gotten her beautiful (yet edible - I don't do fondant) cakes.  She's gotten where she really doesn't like cake that much though.  We talked about what to do this year and she decided that she really wanted an ice cream cake.  We rode over to Dairy Queen one afternoon and she was thrilled to find that they had a Tangled cake.    We ordered the cake and she enjoyed customizing it by selecting the icing colors.
The party location proved to be the most difficult part of the planning the party.  We enjoy having outside parties but you never know if it's going to be too hot at the end of August.  After talking through our options, Marlie chose the small miniature golf course on post for her party.  The weather was beautiful for about two weeks before the party, but on that day it was HOT!  We were all dripping with sweat, but the birthday girl had just the celebration that she wanted.  Even though I would have done some things differently if it was just up to me, I'm so glad that I decided to focus on exactly what she wanted this year.
What a blessing to be able to celebrate our SIX year old!  

The birthday girl and her cake

Gifts!  I've never really expected Marlie to do thank you notes in the past, but this year she is capable of writing them on her own.  I put the gifts away once we got home and she could get out one at a time - as she wrote the thank you notes for them!

Em's style of miniature golf.

For almost every birthday, Marlie has had a personalized birthday shirt by our friend Tara.  Check out her products at http://collectionsbyTaraNicole.blogspot.com



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Stitch Fix #6

I was getting my hair cut this morning (makes you feel like a new woman doesn't it??) and I was telling my stylist about Stitch Fix.  I realized that I am due to share what was in my sixth box.  After choosing some cooler weather pieces the past few months, I finally got a great hot weather item!
If you want to know more about how Stitch Fix works, you can read my original post here.  For now, check out what I received in August!

I have a hard time resisting polka dots...
Cheska Sheer Dot Print Sleeveless Top  by Papillon
I was a fan of this dress.  It was cute, comfortable and best of all - made in America!  I'm willing to pay a little more for local items, but this was just a bit out of my price range.
Schepers Cotton Striped Dress by Missa

Andrea Cowl Neck Cotton Tank by Bobi

Danny 5-Pocket Knit Pants by Kut From The Kloth

Circle Enclosed Scale Earrings by 41Hawthorn

The sheer dot top was by far the winner in fix #6.  I wore it out to dinner with the family as soon as I got it.


And thanks to the super helpful style cards, I realized I had a green skirt that would pair with it perfectly for church!

                                      

Stitch Fix is probably my favorite discovery of 2013.  I can't wait to get my shipment each month!
If you would like a stylist to select some great items just for you, I would really appreciate it if you used my referral code to sign up:  

Would you like to see what items I've received in my previous Stitch Fix shipments?



Thursday, September 12, 2013

How We Got Here

As of last week, we completed and submitted our licensing packet to provide foster care.  Now we just wait on all of our paperwork to get processed and we will eventually have one more home inspection.  One question we've been asked is how we decided to do foster care so this LONG post will explain that.  I'll go back to the very beginning...
Back in 2004, during mine & Bryan's first year of marriage, he attended his Officer Basic Course (OBC) at Fort Sill, OK.  One of the random memories I have of that time is walking through the tiny mall in Lawton.  In one of the vacant stores they had set up a gallery of photos of foster children.  I recall walking through that room and reading about so many (if not all) of the children.  My heart broke for them and I wished somehow I could just save them all.  Obviously that wasn't going to happen since I was barely a wife and not yet ready to be a mother.    
A few years and one child later, we were stationed at Fort Campbell, KY.  From 2009 to 2011 we lived there and through church and my MOPS group, I had the priviledge of meeting quite a few moms who had adopted (both domestically and internationally) or were in the process of adopting.  These families inspired me to say the least and this led me to think a lot more about orphan care.  I hoped that someday we might be able to adopt after we were done having biological children.
In 2011 we moved to Athens and I got to know the mom of one of Marlie's friends.  Their family had recently started providing foster care.  Over the time that we were there, she cared for a few different newborn babies.  We were able to watch one baby girl grow and thrive in their family.  She was such a precious baby and left a lasting impression on me.
Obviously God was already working on my heart and that continued when our women's Bible study group at church took on James.  This study rocked my world in a great way.  I love that James was such a straight shooter and challenges us to be doers of the word and not just sayers.  I challenged myself to put this into practice and began working with the local women & children's shelter to collect items that they needed.  Individually each of these things seems insignificant, but looking back I can see  how everything was coming together.
In January we moved here to Kansas and since our stay here could be short, I had figured it still wasn't a good time to pursue foster care.  Obviously God wanted to let me know that he has other plans.  I met a lady at church who turned out to live just a few houses down from us.  As soon as I met her, she told me that she had adopted 2 of her daughters through the foster care system.  She soon introduced me to a few other ladies at church who had also been foster and adoptive mothers!
This got my mind and heart stirring again, but there was more to come!  I had gotten in touch with a photographer about taking Emma's one year pictures.  She is also an Army wife, but we had a mutual friend in one of my sorority sisters from college (who is now also an Army wife!).  This photographer had adopted her daughter and had a heart for working with foster and adoptive families.  She did photos for another local family who provides foster care and shared a beautiful post about them on her blog.  I asked her if she could put me in touch with this family so that I could speak to them about their experience and ask questions.  I had the privilege of meeting this sweet Army wife/foster mom, her 2 biological children and 2 foster children.  Even though it was a brief get together, she provided me with so much good information and encouragement.  A few days after that I made the call to the local agency and the next day Bryan & I attended our first MAPP class.
I have gotten to know another foster family who allowed me to babysit a precious newborn foster baby and I learned that some other neighbors we have known for months adopted their son from foster care!  I have been amazed at the local community of foster families I have found here.  They are doing hard work but I believe it is what God is calling so many of us to do.  They have already inspired and encouraged me and continue to answer my many questions!
If you have adopted or provided foster care, shared your story with me, provided me with information or answered questions - thank you!  I don't know what the future holds for our family or any child that may come into it, but you are definitely part of our story.  Even if we only help one child, you will be one of the reasons why.
May God continue to bless you Courtney, Judi, Pam, Amy, Missie, Stephanie, Meredith, Carrie, Renee, Mandy, Lindsay & Stephen.  It is so typical that I would forget someone, so please call me out if I have!  I want to acknowledge you!
The last part of our story so far has to do with our home and my role as a stay at home mom.  The last few times we've moved we were a little worried about our housing situation.  Each time I prayed that God would give us a house that we could use to do his work and each time we have been blessed with a good house in a great neighborhood.  There have been times where I wished I had the freedom and ability to go out into the world and serve on a great mission trip.  I've learned though that during this season of my life, my home is my mission field.  I am so thankful and blessed to be able to stay at home and raise our girls.  Stay at home moms are especially needed in foster care because there are so many newborns who aren't able to go into day care on a regular basis.  Not to mention the security children can feel from being with the same person throughout each day.  I feel like God is showing me now that he wants to use our home and me as a stay at home mom to serve these children and their families.
I know that there will be many challenging times ahead and I pray that I can just remember that God has put us on this path.  When I don't know what I'm doing or how to do it, He is all we need and will take care of us.

http://tharderdesign.blogspot.com/2012/03/matthew-2536-37.html

     

Friday, September 6, 2013

Strawberry Spinach Salad

This is our favorite, go to salad in the summer.  I feel like I've been making it almost weekly lately.  I like to serve it with Roast Sticky Chicken for an easy dinner, especially when I don't want to spend the afternoon in the kitchen.




Strawberry Spinach Salad 
Prep Time: approx. 10 Minutes.
Ready in: approx. 1 Hour 10 Minutes.
Makes 4 servings. 

2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced onion
10 ounces fresh spinach - rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
1 quart strawberries - cleaned, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered

Directions
1 In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.
2 In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead

Saturday was the start of the college football season for our University of Georgia Bulldogs!  Even though our opening game was a heartbreaker, we still started the season on a fun note with a tailgate party at our house.
Sunday was our usual church morning and then we went to the Wollman Park Aquatic Center here in Leavenworth.  It's definitely a hidden gem in this small town and the girls had so much fun.  Both of them loved going down the water slides!
On Monday, we decided to make a special day trip into Kansas City.  We visited the Deanna Rose Children's Farmstead which is technically in Overland Park, KS.    Admission is only $2 per person but we actually got Marlie a combo ticket which brought our grand total to a whopping $16.  Marlie took charge of the map and had a great time leading us around the depiction of a 19th century family farm.  The girls were able to encounter many different farm animals, tour a replica of a historic 1 room school house, mine for stones, go inside teepees like those of the Kansa Indians, bottle feed a baby goat, fish in a pond, ride a horse and little pedal tractors, get an ice cream from the local "town" ice cream parlor, play on 3 different playgrounds, walk through gardens, and go on a wagon ride.
People had been recommending the farmstead to us ever since we got here and I'm so glad we got a chance to go.  It was such a great value and had everything young children love!