All posts by Audra

A Picture Worth A Thousand Memories

As I walked through the house on my nightly clean-sweep of rooms, I paused last week on this grouping left on a desk. Two sons had mingled parts of their day on this surface. I see this stuff all the time, and usually sort and sift quickly to keep or trash. But for a split moment I was inspired to pay attention before I disbanded the “clutter”.

I felt the need to snap a picture for my memory bank. It means nothing to most eyes that see it, but for me, it reflects two rambunctious boys that I love. The stick and duct tape, the fidget spinner, the rock, the beginning attempts of drawing circles…such sweet pieces of childhood.  It’s not something I will scrapbook later, but I will begin to snap more pictures like it for my own heart and memory.

And so I hope to plant a seed for you too as you walk through parts of our mundane days. They are Ordinary a lot of the week, but in that Ordinary,  look for the gems that are visually laid out just for you as a gift from God; these snapshots are beautiful reflections of family, love, joy, contentment, security… they are hidden treasures unless you really open your eyes to see.

As I was unpacking boxes from our move, I unloaded children’s books in the hallway with no plan yet of where to place them.  Eli instantly sprawled out and began absorbing them as if old friends had just arrived.  He lingered there for an hour! (A  looong time for a 5-year-old).  I kept stepping over him to continue unpacking, but then glanced down and realized that I didn’t want to ever forget such sweet innocence in that moment. You think you’ll remember; but take the snapshot.

So many Saturdays are on the Soccer Fields right now in our family’s life. My views are similar each week, and I make sure to take a pic or two of my boys playing the sport from time to time. But with my quest to see the hidden gems, I snapped this thinking I would probably delete it once I could actually see it out of the direct sunlight…but oh no, I will keep it. I love it in fact.  It has all the components from the quilt blankets laid out each week, to the sibling drifters that are needing busy work and snacks while waiting out a game. To me, it’s a sweet reminder of this season.

And so I have these:

Two leaves that one son thought were worthy of keeping,

A beloved pup that always lingers at the top of the stairs hoping for a pet on the landing below,

A crazy fort that I ran in to while trying to get though my bedroom!

Boys enjoying the quiet process of creating art late at night when the house finally stills… Oh, I don’t want to miss any of these! I probably would not have normally taken these photos last week. The are all just natural parts of our family’s routine. I see them all the time; but this week, through the camera lens, I see the beautiful treasures they are just for me.  My heart overflows with thankfulness to the Lord for His abundance in my Ordinary day!  You can keep your eyes open for the hidden gems that are laid out just for you too! You see them all day long. When you spot them, snap the picture. You never have to edit them; they are perfect just as they are. 

Oh give thanks to the Lord! For He is good, for His steadfast Love endures forever! Psalm 107:1

5 Go-To Meals We Love

Ordinary Threads is about to meet with a great group of women to help them set up Menu Planning Boards for their homes next month. As the preparation for that swirls in our heads, our thoughts are focused on FOOD! I have a few Go-To meals that I’ve been making for years now. When a week turns crazy, these are my steadies. They are easy, fast and yummy. Add a salad, veggie, bread or fruit and you’re ready to eat! Try one or all!

SPAGHETTI PIE

1 Kraft Italian Dinner Box

2 Eggs

1  16oz. can Tomato Sauce

1  6oz. package of Mozzarella Cheese, grated

Boil spaghetti from dinner box and drain and rinse. Beat eggs in large bowl and add parmesan from dinner box. Add spaghetti and mix well. Put half of spaghetti mixture in bottom of greased 9 inch pie plate and then layer half  of the grated cheese and then repeat layers one more time. Bake 10 minutes, uncovered, at 350. Do sauce per package directions. Cut pie in wedges and serve with sauce.

 

SPEEDY SAUSAGE SUPPER

1  lb. smoked sausage, sliced

2 TBS Butter

1 small Onion, chopped

half cup fresh Mushrooms, sliced

1  8oz. can Baked Beans

1  8oz. can Kidney Beans

1  8oz. can Tomato Sauce

1 envelope Chili Seasoning

Cheddar Cheese, grated

Melt butter in large skillet and add onion and mushrooms. Saute 5 minutes. Add beans and tomato sauce. Stir in Chili Seasoning and add Sausage. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until heated through. Garnish with grated cheese.

QUICHE (HAM, VEGGIE OR BACON)

1 Half-baked Pie Shell

4 Slices Bacon, crumbled

Ham Cubes

Veggies of choice, diced

Blend of Swiss and Cheddar Cheese, 1 1/2 cups together

3 Eggs

1 cup of Milk

Dash of Nutmeg

1/4 tsp. dry mustard

Mix all together in a bowl. Pour into pie crust. Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 Degrees.

ONE-POT PASTA

1 lb. spaghetti

1 pkg. Smoked Sausage, sliced

1 large Onion, thinly sliced

3 cups Grape Tomatoes, halved

3 cups fresh Basil

Sea Salt and Pepper

1 cup Parmesan, grated

In a large pot over medium heat, combine EVERYTHING, but cheese and add 4 1/2 cups of Water. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer till Pasta is cooked through and water reduced. Stir in Parmesan and Serve.

RANCH CHICKEN

1 small package of Ranch Dressing Mix

6 Chicken Breasts

1 sleeve of crushed Ritz Crackers

1 cup of Parmesan Cheese

Melted Butter

Coat Chicken in Melted Butter, then in a bowl filled with mixture of crushed crackers and Ranch mix. Place in a greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese. Pour remaining Butter over the top. Cover with foil. Bake 40 minutes at 350 Degrees.

These Recipes are a culmination of Family, Friends and my own Finds that have proved Faithful time and time again for our Family. I enjoy cooking for my family, but time doesn’t always allow for it. The focus for me in a season of young children and after school activities is to share as many meals around a table as possible in the week. When a meal can be made fast and in one skillet, pot or pie crust, it’s a winner in our books! Makes clean-up a breeze too. Make a list of these meals and more that will give you quick sustenance but also rich time with your loved ones.

Here We Go, Girls, Get Your Momstations Ready!

God is Faithful; in the Sunshine and the Storm.

Aren’t Summers with children in the home a “hurry up and get to relaxing!’ And then, “hurry up and get ready for the school year!” We try to cram as much fun and spontaneity into every steamy day of our break. We have sipped lemonade, lounged by a pool, admired our cute pedis and laughed with our kids…we have unplugged for the glorious summer. But this week we have been recharged and it’s “Go Time!” All moms are prepping for the new school year. 

“Hustle and bustle” is again reinstated into the vocabulary; it cannot be denied. However, with a few tricks up our sleeve, it can still be fun! 

Let’s talk Momstations!!

Sometimes we make it home before school pickup, and sometimes not. Usually we are traveling to the next destination of sports practice, music lesson, karate, Scouts, etc.  Last year I grew weary of the frazzled feelings every afternoon evoked, so I applied a few thoughts to action and they worked!! 

So here you go; sure hope they lighten your load as they have mine:

I have a thermos for everyone in my car that gets filled with ice at breakfast time. They are labeled with names and set in cup holders in our car. By afternoon pickup we have cold water for all; and no sticky drinks are sloshing in my car. 

Along that line, There is a snack bag placed in an insulated bag each morning too. Inside are individual “mystery snacks” for all riders. (My kids just like the term “mystery”, and each day I put some sort of trail mix combo that varies each day so it feels different). This trick has saved me many Quik Trip runs!!

I love to encourage readers, so I stash magazines, comics, crosswords with pen attached, Mad Libs, joke books, maps, you name it…in all nooks and crannies of the car to be found. (Kids love to discover maps of their town to navigate).

There are always 2 decks of cards in the glove box, because many a time I have been waiting for one child and sitting with the other. Card games are a great filler of time, and more importantly, a fantastic way to engage in conversation and hear more of your child’s heart. (They are also used in a restaurant for the kids if the adults are trying to talk for a few minutes).

I keep a Bible Quilting Bag in the front seat with me all year-long. It is decked out with flair pens, washi tape, devotional material and my journal to quilt in...let me know if you’d like me to set one up for you too!!  It’s my favorite “go-to” thing in the car! (the kids have one too; nothing blesses my heart more than taking a few moments to write a scripture alongside my child).

 

As we cross paths all over town throughout the school year, we can still engage in meaningful times and quiet respites if a little planning goes in to it. Hope this spurs you on to begin thinking of ways to set up your Momstations and enjoy the ride!

Road Trips: Family, Friends and the Wild Weiner Dogs of Yellowstone

“Back in the day, when the Bison and Bear roamed freely on the natural landscape of Yellowstone, there was another animal that leapt through the reeds down by the lake… the Wild Weiner Dogs of Yellowstone frolicked with their long coats dancing in the wind…or so the story goes in the active imaginations of brothers having an adventure together.”

 

Our family set out on an adventure this summer. The Boys are 11, 10, 8 and 5, so we decided it was about time to give them a true taste of a road trip across country.  We packed bags, pillows, books and games and then fueled it with coffee, chocolate and sunflower seeds to head out!

Our first 2 stops were with Friends that have become as Family to our lives. The Boys hunted license plates as we drove in to Colorado and then Oregon. Our 3rd stop was to see Family that we had told 6 years ago that we would visit…surprise, we made it!!Better late then never! And then on to Yellowstone and Mt Rushmore, (which are not even close to one another but our Boys had hearts set on both).

 

The car rides were long and the sleep was minimal. The views were spectacular and the conversations sweet. The bond of shared memories made was hands-down worth any effort involved. 

This is what happened: 

We shared Bible Quilting with Friends and Family.

We created art on a Oregon deck with Family after collecting huge pinecones on a nature walk.

We visited our Friends Church and walked a day in their footprint.

We played card games by the light of the Colorado sunset and our Friends fire pit.

We rallied a Family Kickball game in the fields that will be our Friends new school this year.

We picked Blackberries and Wild Flowers in unexplored fields and then enjoyed them at a dinner table with Friends.

We ate PBJ”s by a bubbling creek that we found under a beautiful bridge.

We taught our Boys how to be photographers and enjoy the view through a lens.

We showed our kids how to read a map and count the anticipated hours in the car for the next destination.

We celebrated special days with special people.

We shared more, hugged more, held hands and enjoyed one another’s company MORE  in the closeness of a Road Trip.

As a girl, I rode many summers across country in my Grandparents Cadillac headed to Family Reunions. The memories are a treasure to my heart. And now another Layer has been added with the laughter of Brothers by a lake in Wyoming at the end of a day of Family hiking. The innocence of pure life and silliness enjoyed together.  Enjoy A Road Trip with Loved Ones if you have the chance!

Give THANKS  To The Lord And Proclaim His Greatness. Let The Whole World Know What He Has Done! Psalm 105:1

Warning: This Post Will Make You Itch!

When you are young, everyday begins as an adventure. There is excitement raveled up with unknowns and interlaced with dependency on grown-ups. There are ecstatic highs and devastating lows almost every day in a young ones heart. 

After the past two weeks, I think the same can be said for an adult too!

Our family is soaking up as much summer as we can, but have thrown in a Move, an Emergency Surgery and a most unexpected Lice Epidemic in a few short days that quickly turned to long and challenging “opportunities”.

On our Blog, we love to share all the fun, warm fuzzy layers that we do, but it dawned on me after the past week that it is important to share how we do the unexpected, uncomfortable layers also.

The Move and the Surgery were manageable for our family; the realization that 5 out of 6 in our household had lice however, tried to take us down. We had never dealt with itchy heads before so the moment of crisis was a fork in the road for us. We could model hysteria to our children, or we could choose a calmer path. (Believe me when I say that I had inward panic happening, but with prayer and support was able to walk the prettier trail). 

We chose to laugh instead of cry at the situation presented to us.

We educated ourselves on what was happening and then took a stand as a family to eradicate it.

We looked at it as an opportunity to grow stronger in family teamwork as we poured hours into vacuuming, cleaning, laundry and so much laundry.

After we quarantined the majority of the house, we banded together and called several evenings a “huge family campout” as we piled all the boys in our room with borrowed bedding. 

We all know there are two sides to every story,  but as adults, we are constantly given chances to figure out the better option. Lots of little eyes watch how we deduct and choose. We couldn’t do it on our own attempts every time;  God’s mercy shows up for us when we ask Him. Thankfully He got us through the last week!! 

There were honestly Highs and Lows running the gamut, but the perspective on our situation stayed focused. We hopefully taught our kids how to weather some set-backs without being swept under. And the silver lining was new Hairbrushes for All!!!

All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.  Isaiah 54:13

Random Acts of Kindness

What’s a Random Act of Kindness?  Many times it’s a small or large  action done for a person to bring them joy. The beautiful by-product of doing a Random Act of Kindness is that it usually   blesses the giver too. 

Last week my family took out on a 1 week adventure to a Family Camp. It was the 5th year for us to go; we look forward to the play and relax time we have as a family each year in this place.  We pick many excursions throughout the week that puts our focus on fun together. But this year we stretched beyond our comfort zone and chose to spend a day serving in a camp nearby that has many sponsors helping to make it happen. We knew very little about Kids Across America when we drove there at lunch time. Our kids had agreed to trade a day of play for a day of work without hesitation, but we all felt the weight of the unknown as we got there. 

I can say without a doubt that the afternoon turned into one of our favorite parts of that week! There were things in that experience that were familiar, but there was much that seemed foreign to us. It was good for all of us to break out of our molds and work hard and learn new things and meet new people. It turned out to be  a wonderful day of planned Kindness.

The week before Camp, we had stopped at a Sonic for cold drinks during some errands. While ordering,  I got 2 extra Cherry Limeades for women we would see on our outing. When we got to the office, they had left for the day, but my boys were concerned on what to do with the extra drinks...in a random act of Kindness we began looking for the first 2 people we could find to share the drinks with. The 2 we found were so happy to receive an unexpected drink! There was joy and surprise and laughter and conversation all over a cherry limeade!! We got back in the car and marveled at how that situation had turned out; it was so random, but really blessed our day. 

A woman I met just the other day spoke some wise words to me in the brief time I had with her…she paused in our conversation and told me to ponder the word Growth. And so I am; and it is such rich word with many layers. There is room for growth in each day; Random Acts of Kindness will follow.  I encourage others to tuck that word into your hearts this season. 

On our Bucket List of Fun for the Summer, we have decided to add many more Random Acts of Kindness to our weeks. Both big and small endeavors reap large rewards for all involved. I hope many others will invest in these Acts; they refresh ones Spirit in huge dividends of growth!!