The Tale of a Table

My Table was a housewarming gift from my sis-in-law when my family moved a year ago. My Table was painted by all the boys in my life. My Table was intended for the front yard…but My Table filled with life in my backyard. This is a 1 year glance with My Table:

Prep and Painting took several days in short bursts,  but was done by both our families so that we would each have a Table. Turquoise was our color; modeled after the great Kristin Schell, who has a beautiful following with her #turquoisetable phenomena. We both love all that she is doing with community across our country. 

My heart knew that this Table needed to be in our backyard. We had moved based on the hunger my family had to have a backyard to play in, dream in, run and be still in. The previous 2 years we had hardly set foot in our yard because it was a large hill with mud slides. This new yard, this new table…it beckoned us to come outside.

One day I snuck outside and set up snacks on the Table while boys were playing. It wasn’t even 5 minutes before the table was covered in hungry boys and conversations.

I looked outside one morning and found my 9-year-old sitting at the Table whittling a stick. This was carried over from time spent with PawPaw.

We hosted our first pumpkin carving in the new house and set it all around the Table.

Even snowflakes enticed us out as the boys had fun “drawing” in them on the Table.

When Spring burst forth, we gathered all the chickadees and had egg hunts around the Table.

And with warm weather, came opportunities to invite friends and family over and do life outside. Coloring sessions, card games, checkers and eating took place regularly on the table. Kids lingered until dusk and generations linked in games at the Table.


On several occasions throughout the Summer there have been strategy meetings at the Table. Neighbor friends hashing out plans for attack in the latest battle in boys imaginations.

Our family raises turtles, and when we received a baby one from cousins, it happened to be at the Table.

My mom had a miraculous recovery from a horrendous incident this year, and this picture of her with my youngest son at the Table  is more beautiful to my eyes than I can express.

3 generations of men in our family sit at the Tables during a Fathers Day brunch. (We pulled both families tables together for one long sitting for all)

Many Bible Quilt sessions have seen the Tables with friends, family, neighbors and guests. The table gave way for opening up our hearts to others and sharing our sacred space.

As all the seasons come full circle, quiet retreats call my boys to the Table one-by-one. 

The last of Summer bubbles were danced through the yard while the Table held the treasured content.

This Table of mine is quite special. We celebrate a year with it, and our lives are richer for it. What a heartfelt gift given to me; what a priceless piece to store up memories on. I can hardly wait to take it for a spin this second year! I can see the Autumn leaves falling on it now!

Enjoy your spaces. Soak up your family. Invite your friends. Share it with guests. Rest and refresh at your Tables.

Strawberry Sensation: Whip up an Instant Family Favorite!

You know you have a winner recipe when you  jot down the date and your family’s reaction when you first try it, then add notes over the years as you tweak it here and there.

Ten years ago I tore a recipe out of a magazine and made it for my husband’s birthday. “Yummy!” was the general consensus…so I made it the following year and added another note to my recipe, “Still yummy!” (thus, a family favorite was born…)

strawberry sensation

Strawberry Sensation

4 cups fresh strawberries, divided (I use all 4 cups in step #2 and add another generous amount of fresh strawberries when I’m ready to serve)

1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk (you could decrease amount slightly to reduce sweetness or use fat free version)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 8 oz. container cool whip (or homemade – see below)

8 Oreos (double or triple the amount so you can add a middle layer)

1 Tbsp butter, melted (depending on how many Oreos you crumble, you may want a little more butter to hold topping mix together)

I love recipes that have a short list of ingredients, and I especially appreciate recipes that can be made in advance. This one is a WIN-WIN! You can keep  one  in your freezer & pull out for an instant crowd pleaser at any time.easy recipe

Step #1 – Prep pan: Line inside of 8 x4-inch loaf pan with foil, leaving a generous overlap to allow for a full coverage later.

Step #2 – Strawberry Mixture: Slice and mash 2-4 cups of strawberries in a large bowl. Stir in condensed milk & lemon juice. Fold in 2 cups of cool whip.

Step #3 – Pour about 1/2 of this yummy goodness into the foil-lined loaf pan.

Step #4- Crush Oreos in a ziploc bag. This is a perfect job for any young helper you may have lying in wait that you can “pay” with a couple Oreos! Add the melted butter into the ziploc and blend in the bag.

Step #5 – Sprinkle about 1/2 of the Oreo topping over the strawberry mixture.

Step #6 – Pour the remaining strawberry mixture into the pan.

Step #7 – Spoon the remaining Oreo topping onto the strawberry mixture, gentle pressing the cookie crumbles into a layer.

Step #8 – Prep for freezing: Fold the foil ends over until the pan is completely covered.

Step #9 – Freeze 6 hours or until firm. I’ve left one in the freezer a couple months & it was fine. I think I made 2 for Memorial Day weekend one year and only served one. It was a happy surprise to rediscover it again just in time for a 4th of July swim party! 

Step #10 – To Serve: Invert onto a serving plate, remove pan and foil. Spread the remaining cool whip onto the top and sides. Slice fresh strawberries, then layer them on the top and along sides of the dessert. Allow to sit at room temperature about 30 minutes until it has softened enough to slice.

blowing out candlesTheoretically this recipe makes 12 servings, but not for my crew! If it’s not all gobbled up during your first serving, then store the remainder in the freezer for a lucky few to have a second round later.

This is easy enough for any summer day, but yummy enough to grant as special birthday wish!

strawberries and creamBonus touch:  Instead of store bought cool whip, make your own! Beat heavy whipping cream in mixer until peaks form, adding a splash of vanilla and a little sugar to taste.

~ ~ ~ Hope you enjoy this sensational dessert to finish your summer strong! ~ ~ ~

***If blueberries are more your jam, check out For the Love of…Blueberries 

Broken Seashells

For an Oklahoma Girl that loves her home and every beautiful big sunset across the skies, my heart has always yearned for the ocean views. I don’t need to pack up and move, but it does my soul good to gaze at an ocean from time-to-time. My family got that opportunity this summer. 

The waves were stirred up in the ocean and my two older sons LOVED it! They ran out into them and collided with wild abandon. They jumped into them, over them, and got knocked down by them for hours. They laughed for such a long time.

The foam that rushed to shore teased my two younger sons over and over again. They ran through it as it reached and pulled back toward the ocean. Sand castles were made, and boys buried each other up to their necks in sand for the better part of a day.

BUT THE SEASHELLS! The seashells were the BEST part. But not in the way I had dreamed them to be. My mind was fixed on big, beautiful shells; whole and perfect in every way. Because the tide was so rough on our stay, the shells that are normally on the beach had been taken back into sandbars under the water. We were left with scattered fragments and broken pieces on the shore. My youngest was completely captivated by each tiny, broken sliver. He brought each one to me as of holding a treasure of great worth. I kept thinking of what might be out further if only we could see them…I tucked away my disappointment at not being able to get them.

Meanwhile the other boys kept shouting, “You should feel how many shells we are walking across out here, Mom!” “There are tons of them!!” And I knew there was no way to pick them up because of the persistent waves. These shells that I imagined were big, perfect…at arms reach, but impossible to see or get because of circumstances.

Meanwhile, my youngest son’s bucket overflowed and JOY was found in each broken discovery on shore. He never once saw them as incomplete. He was in awe at each color, pattern, barnacle attached…each one SO WORTHY.

What a picture of God’s LOVE I saw played out before me on that ocean shore. We came together as a family and collected many pieces of shells together. We turned each fragment over in our hands and discovered hidden beauty in each part; they became priceless to our hearts. AND THEN…we began to dream beautiful dreams of how to put them together once we returned home; taking the many pieces and giving them beautiful purpose that can only be made together.

I just love the ocean. I learned the hidden beauty in the broken shells. It will impact me forever.  Near that water, if you are still, God speaks to your soul.

If you are in our neck of the woods this Thursday evening, please stop in for a Simply Summer Session at 7pm. It’s at Di’s home and it is an open house Bible Quilt night. I’ll be working on a page with Seashells…

How to add a little Sparkle to your Ordinary

Are you familiar with the phrase, the liturgy of the ordinary?

walking the dog
Walking the dog

How much do we pay attention to the daily practices that absorb our time and skew our perspective simply through their mundane repetition?

watering the plants
Watering the plants

As I picked up my groceries the other day, I had a startling reminder that we can experience more joy and connectedness in our daily hustle, sowing seeds a little along the way, rather than resigning ourselves to the drudgery of repetitive chores or errands.

I pulled up into slot #7 & called the pick-up number to notify them of my arrival. Someone answered and yelled into the phone, “WALMART GROCERY PICKUP!” I was so startled I almost dropped the phone, noticing that I already had ringing in my ear from the loud screech.

Almost immediately, the voice on the other end of the line began to apologize, laughing nervously. I asked, Is this Tanya? It was my turn to surprise her because I recognized her voice. “Uh, yeah” she replied somewhat sheepishly. I told her my name and she began laughing, saying “Oh, it’s you! I’m SO sorry! I’ll be right out!”

Typically I don’t call the number. I usually activate the app as I’m leaving my house to warn them of my impending arrival. In fact, I had never talked to Tanya on the phone before.  

How did I know it was her?

Instinctively, I knew it was her because the two of us have been part of each other’s Liturgy of the Ordinary.

As part of her job, she rolls out my grocery order, informs me of substitutions, and cheerfully loads my groceries in the back of my well-lived-in cargo area. As part of my  Momjob, I’m frequently in the waiting zone, rolling down my window and squiggling my autograph on her order phone.

Tanya and I have chatted over the course of the last few months as our mundane duties have bumped us  together more often than I’d like to admit. (A household of teenaged appetites is my excuse for such frequent visits, not poor menu planning…surely not!)

We have become familiar with one another, often sharing a knowing smile of “here we go again!” as we move through our well-choreographed grocery dance.

What began as an ordinary Monday grocery pick-up this week turned into laughter and connection, giving us both a boost of positive energy to resume our rote routines. She hugged me spontaneously and said something along the lines of “Thanks for always being so great! You’re awesome!”

full cartAs I drove home with my grocery bags jostling each other, I was lighter in spirit and grateful for a little unexpected sparkle in my day.

The mundane task of putting all the food away and preparing the next meal still loomed, but my perspective shift was noticeably clearer.

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us.” Psalms 90:17

 

By the way, if you don’t know about grocery store pick-ups, do it! I wish it had been available when my kiddos were younger and in carseats… a game-changer, for sure!

Now, go discover the Sparkle in your Ordinary day, my friend!

 

What Do You Do When A Unicorn Arrives In The Pool?

As a certified “Boymom”, I have expertise in many things: preparing large quantities of food, all the top jokes on belching and farting, the technique of spitting and all the ways Nerf darts can get wedged in things.

I have lost touch with “cute and dainty” and colors like pink and purple faded out of my color palette long ago. Boymom’s know about Nerf Guns, Lego’s, Cars and games like Battleship, Risk, Monopoly, (with LOTS of Uno in-between). So when I had an opportunity to host a pool party for my cousin’s two girls, I of course said, “YES!” The theme was Unicorns, the colors were pink and turquoise…sounds simple, but then I remembered I live in a world of camo colors!!

So we put a Unicorn Float in the pool and I hunted, (to no avail), for pink decor in my home; why I don’t know, just ever hopeful. I imagine that girls would probably “float” on a Unicorn Float.  Boys “ride” a Unicorn Float. And by “ride”, I definitely mean “grab it by its rainbow wings and yell”. So hence, this is how our first Unicorn Float lost its “float”, all before the girl’s themed party.

My sons, ever resourceful, spent two hours and half a roll of duct tape trying to find the leak. The bigger problem arose when they realized it was not just a one leak issue.

Let it be noted that when you leap with wild abandon onto a Unicorn Float all afternoon and scream at the top of your lungs,”giddy-up go, go, go!”, this is the end result.

By the time I saw all the tape around the Unicorns wing and neck, I said “enough”. This meant I had to get another Unicorn. And this is how the original float became just a Unicorn Head. The boys salvaged the head that had its own air supply. My first thought was, “well, alrighty we have the makings of a Halloween costume”, but my boys first thought was not even on the same level. I did not discover their grand plan until the night before the girl’s party…

Once we had another Unicorn Float in our possession that we deemed “Unicorn Island” because of its massive dominance over the pool, it was well-known to the boys that it was off-limits! They were told to not even walk near it. It must stay intact for the party.

The day of the party arrived and as I walked outside to survey our Unicorn,  I gasped as I looked up in the tree fort and saw the Unicorn Head tied on a rope hanging off the decking! The boys thought this was hilarious; I imagined the horror that girls would have on sight. And so another difference in boys and girls!!

The Unicorn Party was a huge success in the end, and I must say the memories made in the process are priceless to me. I love the vast differences in boys and girls; and I now have a fun connection with Unicorns! (Ours is going to be spoiled, I can see it now…)

Happy Summering!

For the love…of blueberries!

Summer is all about curious explorations and fun family outings.blueberry farmRecently we had a joint family adventure to a local blueberry farm and dove into our first experience of picking fresh blueberries.

We each grabbed a bucket and headed down the rows of lush blueberry plants.Within a few minutes we had established a rhythm:

Reach in to a full branch, grab a few berries,  do a sample taste test, and drop the remainder into the bucket.

Repeat.

It wasn’t long before we were confident in our picking game. The boys quickly determined that the ripest berries would release easily, leaving the rest on the vine for later.The sun warmed our backs and a light breeze kept us going when our task began to feel a bit like “work.”

Occasionally we’d switch rows and swap stories, eyeing each other’s buckets to see how much progress we were making.blueberry pickingConversations bounced about as our buckets slowly filled.

Sweet tidbits of summer’s glory…

With boys ranging in age from 6 to 15, we could see the difference in their maturity levels in their conversation as well as their picking styles.

Some were methodical and steady. Others experimented with centrifugal force as they hurled their buckets in large circles, challenging each other to go faster and faster.

One needed to do his taste-testing at the sno-cone truck to “preview” flavors for the rest of us. (It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!)

The Lord must see this same maturation process in our spiritual lives. Our prayers and spiritual walks strengthen as our faith ripens over time, saturating into us as we press through life’s challenges.

We are all maturing at our own unique pace – – –

… some of us are “green” yet full of potential

… others are at the “sweet spot” of maturity & ready to share 

…others are past their “peak,” yet maintain a strong, distinctive flavor



Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity…” Hebrews 6:1



amily picking blueberriesAs we rallied the troops and weighed in our buckets, it didn’t matter how much each of us picked. Our efforts were gathered together in one beautiful heap.
One family outing reaped many bonuses:
  • the simple joy of having freshly plucked berries to add to our granola, yogurt, and salads

red, white, and BLUEberry~~~ the red, white, and BLUEberry fun during 4th of July celebrations ~~~

blueberry buckle– camaraderie shared in the deliciousness of blueberry buckle,  carrying on traditions of friends &  past 4th of July parties

blueberry muffinsHow much sweeter all these experiences were because we had gathered the blueberries ourselves and shared in our collective abundance, enjoying the fruits of our labor.  Sweet rewards for hot, summer days – – – infusing fond memories and new traditions – – – for the love of blueberries!

 

 

daily life transformed by God into extraordinary tapestries

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