Motherhood, mothers day, Uncategorized

Mamas and strawberry lemonade

My mom is genuinely my best friend. My husband jokes about the amount of time I spend with her…but I explained to him how she’s not like “most moms”. How she will stand with me in the pit at a concert drinking wine and dancing or go totally natural with our similar wavy hair or the way she chases adventure and gets me to teach her how to ride horses. I explained to him how she was just nice to be around, a kindred spirit now that I’m older and out of the house. We’re just enough different and just enough similar.

I’m an old soul and my mom and I share a love for antiques and nature. So we both enjoy reading the old timey magazine called Victoria magazine. I saw where I could send in a letter for Mother’s Day explaining what I loved about my mom. I saw this at 8 am and not even 20 minutes later I had written something to send in before work. It was so easy to write and recall all the ways she was a good mother. It got published in the magazine for the May/June issue along with many other women writing about their great mother’s. It was cool to see my mom’s attributes displayed in a magazine we both loved alongside so many other amazing tributes to women’s mother’s. It made me realize how powerful womanhood and motherhood is.

I thought I’d go ahead and share with you what I wrote in honor of Mother’s Day and in remembrance of all the amazing mothers out there who work so hard to cultivate lives full of joy and peace:

“As a child, I would always tiptoe down the stairs in the morning-greeted by the aroma of fresh coffee-to find my mother wrapped in one of her pink or floral robes. Before doing anything else, I would crawl onto her lap and rest my head on her chest. Planting a kiss on my forehead, she would ask me how I slept. She always smelled like peonies, and I think this was because she adored them. I believe that what you love, you in some way become.

Today, newly married, I have a painting hanging in my house of a woman with auburn hair smelling roses. Her eyes are closed, and her head is lifted, as if she is inhaling the best perfume in the world. This portrait reminds me of my mom because it captures her approach to motherhood: soaking it up for all it’s worth and savouring it completely. She cooked heavenly food, cultivated an inviting and orderly home, and loved us with grace and kindness. As I grow older, I realize what a job that was and how she took it on as her purpose.

She raised five women, all of whom have grown and are thriving but still dearly love their mom as a friend and confidant. I notice qualities my sisters inherited from our mother in the way Claire cooks, how Mary loves coffee and can brew the perfect pot, the way Lauren nurtured so tenderly, and how Cate loves to keep things homey and clean. And me? I love flowers. I pray everyday that when I have children, they will see things in me that make them feel safe and warm inside, just like we all feel with mom. But more than anything, I hope I will smell like flowers.”

Here’s a recipe to treat your special mom with a refreshing drink you can make on Mother’s Day. It’s a delicious strawberry lemonade that she will love.

Simply smash in a sieve 4 or 5 fresh, ripe strawberries or frozen, thawed, into a two cup measuring cup. Squeeze two lemons into the cup. Add three teaspoons of sugar or stevia ( I use Pyure) to taste. Fill with water and stir vigorously. Taste and adjust sugar and lemon to suit your taste. Pour into glasses, add ice and garnish with lemon slice and mint.

Serve immediately to your mom!

Xoxo,
Nan
gratefulness, unselfishness, letting God, morning pages, morning ritual,, mornings, Motherhood, Uncategorized

Morning Pages

I’m not a morning person by nature. I’m a two cups of coffee and maybe I’ll talk to you kinda person in the morning. Some days it is three cups and a shot of espresso but whose counting…

Unless I’m on vacation. Then I can’t wait to wake up. I’m like a kid on Christmas morning. I can’t wait to see what the day holds!

Who doesn’t love waking up to Mickey waffles??
Or when the kiddos wake up before the sun is up but then God puts on this display
Baby Piper
Sunrises over the ocean are worth waking up for
Waffles on the dock at Aylen Lake, Ontario

But everyday mornings, I’d rather hit snooze. Then one day it all changed. As the girls got older, started sleeping better, I started to see I valued my mornings. I learned I love sipping my coffee and watching the sunrise. Reading my devotional and having some alone time before the craziness that is our lives starts.

I read the book, “The Artist Way” last year. The author suggests doing what is called morning pages. You simply write down whatever comes to your mind. Not documenting your life. Not to pass down to your grandkids or to be published. Never to be read again. It’s like brain dumping on paper. The author, Julia Cameron says any thought that causes anxiety that is left in the brain creates chaos and turns off creativity. I have found by simply writing down my thoughts, however dumb to me or petty, it is so relieving. I have come to really enjoy that time. And I leave feeling refreshed. Something that has been bothering me greatly feels less urgent. I can think more clearly about it.

Julia Cameron says, “The morning pages miniaturizes our Censor. The Censor is part of our leftover survival brain. Any original document pretty dangerous to our Censor. Morning pages will allow you to detach from your negative Censor. It may even be going to seem like a grumpy cartoon character. Doing your artist date you are receiving opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance.”

Amelia Island Plantation

I have found that taking the time, even if it is five minutes, even on my most stressful crazy days sets the tone for my day. I usually read my devotional, do my morning pages and end in prayer. Just taking that time every morning has been so helpful in maintaining a better stress level and having a clear mind.

You can use any notebook for morning pages. It takes a little bit of time to get used to just writing what comes to your head and not journaling. But once you do, it really is amazing how therapeutic it is. If you are worried about people reading what you write and it is inhibiting how freely you share, take the paper you wrote on and trash it. Ball it up, burn it or tear it to shreds. Remember, the goal isn’t to document but to free your mind. And once that starts to happen, you will start to notice a difference in how you feel about mornings too.

Enjoy the sunrises of life friends! And a good cup of coffee.

-Lauren

Family Life, Motherhood, soup, wintertime, Uncategorized

Instant Pot Harvest Italian Soup

GSD

In the fall and winter when I ask my family for ideas for dinner I usually get back, how about soup? Nothing is as cozy as a steaming bowl of soup at the table on a cold winter night but I don’t always have time. Soup in my opinion takes a little effort. When all the ingredients are sautéed before liquid is added and when it has time to slowly simmer, I find that brings out the best flavor.

I used to make a lot of soup in the crock pot but I would often get this strange metallic taste. Sometimes the taste wasn’t there if the onions, veggies and garlic were cooked well before being added to the liquid but who has time for that when you’ve just thought of throwing something together before going off to work in the morning?

And at night when I’m trying to navigate homework, baths, babies crawling under my feet and trying to get into the cat food dish, I don’t have time to deal with fry pans and simmering something for an hour.

So my Instant Pot has been so wonderful for this busy working mom. Only one pot to clean and while I still add each ingredient to the sauté feature it only cooks for about 30 minutes. But it tastes like it’s been simmering for hours.

GSD

This is my husband’s favorite. It’s like Italian wedding soup without pasta and the variations are endless. As long as you have a base of mild (or hot if you live on the edge) Italian sausage, white beans, rosemary, onions and garlic with tomato and greens, you can add from there. I like peppers and mushrooms. Sometimes kale sometimes spinach. Red wine or maybe a splash of really good balsamic vinegar. It tastes different each time I make it.

I’m not a big recipe follower and I hope if you make this and if you like it, you’ll do it again a different way, adding what you think might taste good. That’s the fun of cooking.

Of course if you don’t have an instant pot this can be made on the stove or the crock pot. You’ll still sauté everything but simmer on the stove for about one hour. In the crock pot it can cook for 4-6 hours on low. I don’t recommend cooking it on high as rapid boiling will break down the beans and greens too much. 
Here goes.

GSD

Harvest Italian Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage (I like the sweet variety)
  • 4-5 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 -14 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups shredded kale or spinach
  • 1- 14 ounce can white beans, drained
  • 3-4 drops hot sauce (optional)
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat Instant Pot on the Sauté setting. When it says Hot, add olive oil and diced onion, with a light dusting of salt. Sauté until starting to sweat or becoming translucent. Add celery and green pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. At this point you can walk away to pretend like you know enough about math to help your daughter with her homework.

Add mushrooms and sauté until they start to lose a little water. Add garlic and rosemary and stir just until you can smell the garlic. Don’t let it get any color. Don’t leave the area.

Add sausage to the vegetables and another light dusting of salt and brown the meat. When nicely browned, pour in the red wine and deglaze pan. Be sure to scrape any of the browned meat off the bottom of the Instant Pot so it doesn’t burn during cooking. This can take about a minute.

Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, white beans, kale and a generous amount of pepper. Add more chicken broth if the soup needs to be thinned out. Stir well. Set Instant Pot to high pressure and set timer for 25 minutes. You can now give the baby a bath and wrangle him into his PJ’s. When done, let the steam out and stir in hot sauce (optional).

Season soup to taste with salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese and serve. Can serve with crusty bread. Also great the next day.

GSD

-Claire

Family Life, Motherhood, new year goal

Here’s to a peaceful 2019

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” Isaiah 26:3. This is the verse that helped me survive, grow and become stronger in 2018. It was a crazy year of unknowns, death, disappointments and lots of travel up and down I85. But it was also a year of births, adoption, a wedding and many celebrations. Through it all, the hard and the good, I had the support of my husband and family. And I love that God promised me perfect peace because I trust in him and try to keep my thoughts on him. This was my mantra last year. One of my daughters asked me how I was getting through all of these things and I shared with her this verse. It will be my verse for this year too. Part of being healthy is to live without stress or fear. Therefore my mind has to stay on Jesus and it will be my life’s goal to try to live in God’s perfect peace. I know it doesn’t mean the absence of trouble, but peace while in the turmoil. Thank you Jesus!

So Happy New Year!! May 2019 bring each of us closer to Jesus and to our families and friends!! “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, …guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7.

Homeschool, Motherhood, The Creative Home, Uncategorized

A Brand New Start

August is when my oldest daughter was born. Her birthday came close to when summer vacation was over and school began  again.  The stores were already showcasing the latest backpacks and were overloaded with notebooks, pencils, colorful binders and whatever was needed to help one become prepared for that first day of school.
Yesterday my youngest daughter began another semester of college. Thinking back 30 some years ,  I remember the butterflies in my stomach as I walked to a new room on campus, meeting my new teacher for the first time and all the new classmates.  It was nerve wracking !  But soon I’d settle into a familiar routine and the strangeness of the situation was gone.  Then all I had to do was keep up with all the tests, papers and exams they gave me!
Our homeschool didn’t begin until after Labor Day.  I tried to make our first day of school exciting each year.  I made the trip to Walmart and stocked up on all the necessary supplies we would need, throwing in a few special items for each child.  Maybe a folder that had kittens on it for Claire or horses for Nan.  I would arrange everything in the middle of the table and put something special by each child’s’ plate.  Pancakes for breakfast, devotions and a quick brushing of teeth and hair and we were ready to start our first day.
As my girls got older and the work piled on (plus their extracurricular activities , perhaps even a job) they would feel overwhelmed .  I would sit down with them and we’d make a schedule of their day, beginning when they got up, to the  chores they were responsible for, to piano practicing, homework etc.  ending with bedtime.  I remember the relief they felt when we had finished.  Seeing it on paper helped them know if they used their time wisely it was possible to get it all done.  And of course life happens and they’d get off their schedules, but I’d remind them tomorrow is another day and you can begin again.
Now I’m alone at home most of the time (at least for now).  Some of my grandchildren will be starting school today or next week, one in kindergarten and two in second grade.  I do miss  those exciting days, when the anticipation is new and fresh.  There’s something about opening a new textbook or writing for the first time in a brand new notebook that I love.  Expectations are high and so are the nerves, (maybe butterflies)!  Thankfully our  mistakes and frustrations of last year are gone.  I am reminded of the verse in the Bible from Lamentations 3:22, ” because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
How wonderful that we can begin again each morning!
We can learn from yesterday but move on to the things of today.  Proverbs 16:9 says: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps”.  I’ve been learning to give God each day and to listen to his leading throughout the day! regardless of my “premade”schedule.  That gives me such peace, knowing he is ordering my steps, my day and any interruption is God planned.
I hope and pray that each of you, whether you are the teacher or parent of a student or both, have a great year as you help your child navigate through this brand new  and exciting school year.
What are some of your favorite school memories, either from your time at school or one that you made teaching your own children?