Highlights of 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

Another year gone and a new year has just begun, well almost.

I can’t say with honesty that 2010 has been a favorite year of mine.  I can’t say that there were many highlights from my skewed point of view.  And I can’t say it was the best or the worst of times. 

But I can say that I have seen the Lord move.  I have seen suffering in my life and around me.  And if I look closely enough, I have seen the scales pulled back and my life transformed for the better, I’ve stared sanctification in the face and if 2010 has done one thing, it has drawn me to the feet of Jesus.  

I’d be lying if I said this year wasn’t hard.  I’d be lying if I said everything is okay and that it’s back to normal.  I’d be lying if there still were not tears and heartache and confusion over what to do next, what 2011 will hold.

But I can say with faith that He has been good to me.  That this year was a blessing and not a curse.  Though it has been hard I’m a better woman and a better wife because of it and our marriage is better than ever.  I’m hoping I find myself again this next year, find joy in the ordinary and remain content.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”  James 1:2-4

It’s hard to believe the year is already over.  I’m not sure I remember most of it and for that reason alone I’m glad I blog.  But for my own sake, let’s take a look back and see what the year had in store.

Alex turned 31 and we lived in a hotel for 30 days.

Dealt with the fertility stuff and heard Paul Tripp at the Marriage Retreat

Bought a house
Spent Easter with my Grandpa and heart wrenchingly decided to leave our small group of over 2 years.

Reminisced about my stepfather Jim and wondered how 5 years could go by so quickly and enjoyed the annual women’s retreat at our church
Spruced up our little patio
Mourned the passing of our last grandparent, my grandpa, spent a weekend up north, and joined our first CSA
Revamped our bathrooms, drank green monsters, and found hope in the cross

Celebrated our 4th anniversary, made some very difficult decisions, sold the house and found hope through Andree Seu
We witnessed God’s goodness through Asher, and we went on a much needed, mind clearing, relaxing vacation. 
Vacation, turning 30, and retuning back to reality

Got back into cooking, celebrated the holidays with family, and enjoyed just being at home
that’s it 2010 in a nutshell.  what were your highlights? 

Were you there?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?  Tell me, if you understand.  Who marked off its dimensions?  Surely you know!”
Job 38 4-5a

This morning I opened the Word.  He did not disappoint.  Have you read the account of Job lately?  Chapters 38-40 were my favorite.  When the Lord clears the air and communicates just who He is.  He is almighty God, Creator, Just, and Powerful.

Believe me, this morning I was humbled as my sinful, prideful heart always gets in the way.  It was good to be reminded of just who God is and what He has done.  And what I cannot do.

After months of snow, I’m glad I know who keeps the storehouses and gives orders to let it loose.  Read it again, stand in awe of our creator God who awakens the day by ordering in the morning and showing the dawn it’s place.

I can trust him.  And so can you.

For His wrath is but for a moment.  His tender mercies are new every day.  He loves me just as I am.  He is incredibly good.

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name.”
Psalm 9:1-2

Christmas 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

In mid-December we headed back to WI for a triplet birthday party and to have Christmas with my family.  Jack, Luke, and Kate are 3 of my favorite kiddos and it was precious time spent with the fam.





Then on Christmas eve due to too many people feeling under the weather we headed to an early church service with Alex’s parents following lunch at Olive Garden.  We enjoyed a very relaxing morning on Christmas day and then headed to Alex’s brothers’ house for appetizers and family time.  Hanging out with 3 of my other favorite little people Macayla, Lauren, and Jack was so much fun. I included Lauren’s Grinch video in which she is trying to convey one of her favorite parts of the movie:)

Also this Christmas we have seen multiple movies, ate lots of yummy food, caught up on sleep, received many great gifts and even made some really fun purchases!  Hope you had a very enjoyable holiday!



Lauren retells her favorite part of the Grinch

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor,Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Wherever this Christmas season may have you, whether rejoicing or in sorrow, with many or with few, surrounded by love or pain, there is one who was born today to meet your every need. His name is Jesus.
Today I came across this article:

Christmas Is for Those Who Hate It Most

From our house to yours, wishing you a very blessed Christmas!

The Best Beef Stew

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Seriously.  It’s the best.  I would know.
I’ve been waiting for this accolade for over 4 years.  This phrase, “honey, this can be our forever, family recipe, beef stew.”  And because of that, this recipe deserves a spot on the blog.
Last night’s menu:  Parker’s Beef Stew, Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits, and a small Arugula Orange Salad with Cranberries.
That, my friends, is something we don’t hear a lot around this house.  I mean, the food is good, even better than good, more often than not.  But never a, “this could be our forever.”  Thank you Ina.
Last night I ventured to a place where I have been shot down plenty of times in the past.  I have made many beef stew recipes and they have never turned out like this nor have they been as easy.  Seriously.  But I did tweak it a bit.  I’ll note my changes below.  But if you even kind of like beef stew or would like to like it, make this.  Thick but not too thick.  Tender, yummy beef with a delicious sauce.  Oh, I want more!
But you have to use the best ingredients you can afford here, it really makes it worth the effort.  What you will have in front of you if you do is company worthy Beef Stew, like you could serve it to your boss or someone really important:)
I’ve been trying to get at least 3 recipes a week off my BC Recipe List and last night we accomplished 2, both really good.  So I will be posting them all, if I remember, because it’s fun.  And I want too!
But back to the stew, like I said I did change some things, actually made it a little easier than it was, which was easy but a little labor intensive.  Plus I cut it in half, I’ll post the original recipe with my changes and the 1/2 portions included.  But don’t let the work dissuade you, it’s perfect for a day at home, and it’s worth every minute you invest..  And with Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits, it’s even better.
Parker’s Beef Stew (adapted Ina Garten Back to Basics)  Serves 6 (or 3 if you halve it, measurements noted below)


  • 2 1/2 pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (I went to Whole Foods for this and it was only 4.99/lb. and for half a recipe use 1 pound, you could use less meat for the original recipe too if you would like and use more)
  • 1 (750-ml bottle) good red wine (I used 1/3 of a bottle of Trader Joes Cabernet; we drank the rest!)
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, smashed (1 1/2)
  • 3 bay leaves (I didn’t have so I omitted)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (1 C for the halved recipe)
  • 6 ounces bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces (use good bacon, we used Nueske’s, and 3 slices)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes (1 onion for halved, I used half red and half yellow…it’s what we had)
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered (I bought red potatoes and measured them in the store, 2 medium red potatoes equal 1/2 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (3 cloves) (1T)
  • 2 cups or 1 (14 1/2-ounce can) beef broth (I buy it in the box so I can use it a little at a time, just measured out 7 ounces)
  • 1 large (or 2 small) branch fresh rosemary (I used dried, a little over a teaspoon)
  • 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I omitted, we don’t care for them)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (1 T)
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas (I also omitted)


Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight. (Unfortunately I read this part right before I wanted to start this, so I let it marinate for about 30 minutes, minus the bay leaves)
The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Brown the bacon in a large saute pan for 5-7 minutes, over medium-low heat.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a Dutch oven. Do not get rid of the bacon grease!
Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the bay leaves, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess.
In the same saute pan, brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in the Dutch oven with the bacon and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you'll need more oil.) Place all the beef in the Dutch oven.
Lower the heat to the saute pan to medium-low and add the onions, cook for 5 minutes adding olive oil if necessary.  Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the carrots and potatoes and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the saute pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the beef stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. (I did this, but I added the above ingredients stock-pepper to the dutch oven and just poured in the wine marinade later…it’s easier) Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275 degrees F.
Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.  Also remove the Rosemary branch if you use fresh.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Adjective: Feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful.

That’s what my heart is.  It’s bursting inside, feeling the love from others, love for my Savior.  My heart is so thankful.  As I think of what this year has meant for us, for friends, for family…it’s been hard for so many in so many ways and yet I’m so thankful for my fingers, my toes, my health, my husband, my friends and my family.

But right now, reflecting on the past year, there is one thing I’m really thankful for today and that is Gospel, saturated music.  I know some don’t love Christian music, maybe it’s cheesy or over the top, I’m with you on some things.  And yet, what keeps me grounded and holds me close to Jesus, is the ever present Gospel in my mind.  When the words of How Great Thou Art or I Need Thee or Nothing but the Blood flood my mind in those moments, when Satan creeps in, when He daily attempts to pull me away, those words, rooted in the Gospel turn my mind and heart to Jesus. 

So often over the past year I’ve needed that.  When my flesh is weak and I’m resistant to being in the word, the music gently reminds me, pulls me in to what really matters.  I’m thankful for that today, that as our music choices have turned to Christmas, the message is still the same.  It’s all about the Gospel…our lives, we’re here to glorify Christ, no matter the circumstances, and hearing in song the struggle, the joy, the endurance, the gratitude, it’s hard for it not to take root.

If you’re interested in good Gospel music, checkout Praise FM 95.3 or some of our favorite channels on Pandora:  Sovereign Grace, Derek Webb, and Downhere (holiday).

Last weekend I headed to our church’s annual Christmas Luncheon for the women.  The music, again, aligned my heart to ready itself for this season, to honor Jesus.  We’re big fans of Downhere but I had forgotten this song they sang, it’s a favorite, and here's my favorite part of the chorus...

How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me

Celebrate Jesus this season...

Homemade Christmas Decor

Monday, December 6, 2010


I like trying to be crafty.

I usually try to pick things that are easy and inexpensive but don’t look cheap.  Sometimes I succeed and other times I fail.  But this idea I think was a success.

Yarn Trees.

Yup, I have a thing for trees around the holidays.  I just can’t stay away.  Last year I acquired all my natural and glitter trees for about a dollar after Christmas and thinking they needed some friends, this year I added some made from yarn.


Wish I could say I came up with the idea but I actually spotted a finished one at Michaels.  Which of course led me to the paper mache cone aisle to grab the necessary supplies.

Because I am a knitting failure I have plenty of unused yarn around our house.  I chose the gray which I think blends nicely with the rest of the forest!  Along with some adhesive we were set to go.  This project is extremely easy, would be good for kids, and is really fun.

DSC_0115 (2)(plain cone on left/finished on right.  I used mod podge for my adhesive.)


1.  Paint mod podge onto first quarter of cone, repeating as you go farther down the cone.

2.  Starting at the top, press one inch of yarn down from the tip and then start winding the yarn around that 1 inch piece to hold the starting line in place and to create a tip at the top.

3. . Continue winding adding more adhesive when you run out of room.

Next project:  Coffee Filter Wreath

Meeting my Good Nearby

Friday, December 3, 2010

"You're going to do something important someday. It may not change the entire world, but it'll change the world of the people around you. You'll be the good nearby....People don't realize good is closer than they think...the good nearby." (excerpt from The Good Nearby by Nancy Moser

I thought this book by Nancy Moser was good, though I can’t fully remember everything about it.  But the thing I did remember is how the grandmother spoke of Jesus.  She called him the good nearby.  Isn’t that the truth.  Jesus is the good all around us and he intercedes through people, circumstances, just about everything. 

My good nearby over the past 6 months has come over the internet.  A “blog” friend, who over the past months has come to be someone I can turn to and hear the Gospel.  Someone who’s walking the same road, almost identically.  Someone I am absolutely positive is a gift from Jesus.  I can’t even describe it very well, besides she beat me to it and anything I write doesn’t even do justice to the way she wrote about it.

And it all started here:  http://mollypiper.com/2010/04/i-hope-who-me/

After leaving a comment, another blogger commented and then checked out our blog.  I love how things happen like this.  She said it so much better when describing what would happen later, quite possible the best birthday present a girl could ask for.

Jackie lives in Ohio, though I had to do a little digging to find that out.  Her best friend and her husband just moved to MN to attend Bethlehem Seminary.  Jackie is amazing.  And I got to meet her in person.


If anyone has ministered to my heart in the past 6 months, she has.  Through her own battles, struggles, ponderings, grasping of the Gospel.  The Lord has given her a spiritual maturity beyond her years, she’s only in her mid-20’s.  (hope you don’t mind me sharing)  I’ve been incredibly blessed by her, in so may ways.  Seriously, I’m sure Alex got tired a time or two over all the things I’ve shared with him about this other “blogger”.  :)

And meeting her was the icing on the cake.  She is not only gorgeous but so full of life and love.  We never paused for a minute and our time together was far too short.  I’m thinking a trip to Ohio is in order:)  It’s as if I’ve known her my whole life, that’s one of the reasons I love blogging.  Jackie, I’m so thankful the Lord encouraged you to stalk my blog, comment on a post, and contact me about getting together.

Makes me want to blog stalk all the more:)

Thanks Jackie for being my good nearby…I’m so thankful for you!


Ready, Aim, Shoot

Thursday, December 2, 2010

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to shoot a gun. 


For my 30th birthday, which by the way still sounds funny to write, I received the best present ever.  We went clay pigeon shooting.  My problem before now has always been finding a gun to shoot.  not a problem when home with the folks…my dad has never failed to come through, especially in this case. 


So we bundled up in as much gear as we could and faced the windy and cold day.  Earplugs in and ready to go, I ended up doing better than I could have imagined.  My dad may have been in shock seeing his daughter shoot so well given I have no real training.  He’s mighty proud, I tell you!

For the first time ever shooting a gun and first time clay shooting, I went 14 for 40…not bad for a novice.  Though all it did was make me want to go again and again…maybe we should get a gun?

Oh my, oh my

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I received a gift last night.  Not just one, but 25.  I’ve never been so overwhelmed, excited, patient, and surprised in a long time. 


Someone, maybe even a reader, gave me an advent basket.  Here’s a link to what an advent basket is: 


I opened my first gift this morning, the first day of advent, and I received the perfect mug for coffee.  I squealed with delight and went right over to the coffeemaker to fill it up.  I might just use it every morning until Christmas:)

Seriously, whoever you are, you made my night and my next 25 days.  What a blessing.  This year hasn’t been easy…it’s been trying.  I don’t want to seem contrite, I know plenty of people personally who have been through far more difficult things, but this season of life, as I’ve mentioned on here before, has been harder than others.  What a perfect way to walk into this new season of life. Not only do I have 25 gifts to bless my heart daily but I also have 30 great goals.  I’m thinking December 2010 through 2011 are going to be months to remember.

Thanks again Advent Basket giver…my heart overflows with gratitude.

ps…my blog friend Jackie revealed her first Advent Basket today too!

The Big 3-0

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rather than dwelling on the end of an amazing decade…I mean, from 20-30 so many wonderful, trying, difficult, growing, celebratory, grief filled days have passed, I’m going to choose to look forward with anticipation to this next year.

Here’s to 30 things in my 30th year…in no particular order…some things I’ve been dreaming of for years and others are new, and I hope to accomplish or attempt to accomplish them all.  The first one I accomplished already on my birthday:)


  1. Meet my “blog” friend Jackie in person (more on this later)
  2. Run another half marathon
  3. Write a book (or at least start it)
  4. Shoot a gun
  5. Interrupt people less
  6. Make more phone calls
  7. Stop biting my nails
  8. Run a marathon
  9. Read my top 5 books again
  10. Learn to sew (again)
  11. Recover our chairs
  12. Learn to cross country ski (again) and go
  13. Take the classes for our new camera
  14. Start a new blog
  15. Watch Food Inc
  16. Make Artisan bread
  17. Make all the Barefoot Contessa recipes that we like
  18. Join the community center and workout consistently
  19. Memorize the fighter verses
  20. Use 1 new seasonal ingredient each month
  21. Revamp or make a piece of furniture
  22. Be a better wife with a better servant heart
  23. Try to be on time :)
  24. Learn to say no and keep life simpler
  25. Get back into sending cards for birthdays
  26. Organize our address book
  27. Spend quality time in prayer and in the word
  28. Eat more fruits and vegetables
  29. Get organized…life, stuff, everything…
  30. Enjoy this year to the fullest with family and friends:)

i miss 3 little faces

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

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Somehow I have so many pictures of the littlest and the fewest of the oldest.  hmmm…I wonder how that happened.  all that said, I miss these boys and I am so looking forward to seeing them next weekend for brunch.  it’s been 5 1/2 weeks since I have seen them and I am in serious withdrawal.

Going from 4 days a week to not at all…the shock is setting in and I would give my left arm for a hug, a joke, a look, a sassy remark…just about anything from all three of them. 

Riley, Liam and Colin, I miss you!

The rest of the trip…

Sunday, November 21, 2010

We are now safely home and happy to be here.  There’s something to be said of the comforts of home.  It was great to get away, relax, see new things and enjoy time together, but being home, I’m not sure I want to leave any time soon.  Good thing, because I have way too many projects planned:)

After we left the cape we ventured down to Stamford CT for a few nights so Alex could play golf.  We got down to one round of golf this trip, pretty good if you ask me!  So while he headed to the golf course I stayed and relaxed in our hotel catching up on my Precept Bible study.  Alex was lucky enough to cross a very well known course off of his top 100 list, Winged Foot Golf Club.  He was all smiles:)

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From Stamford we headed into NYC.  This was a really fun part of our trip not only because NYC is fun to explore but it’s even more fun when you get to see friends as well.  One of my really good friends Emily and her husband Ernesto have lived in NYC for the past 2 years.  We don’t get to see them that often so it was really fun to get dinner and brunch with them.  Also our friends Brandon and Becky just moved to NYC from MN so we caught up with them one night too! 

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We also headed to Ellis Island and it was so interesting.  Alex’s grandfather actually immigrated to the US when he was 9 years old, so we were able to look him up and read the ship Manifest.  Very Interesting!  Other than seeing friends we walked until our feet hurt and ate until our stomachs were full!

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Highlights:  Eataly, the Doughnut Plant, Magnolia Bakery, Almond, and there were so many more!

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From NYC we hopped on the Bolt Bus and headed into Washington DC.  For the next 5 days we slowly made our way through all most of the museums and took in loads of history.  Highlights included a turn on the Segways, the Spy Museum, lots of Potbelly Sandwiches, and plenty of election coverage.

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Like I said, we’re happy to be home but very thankful for the time away!

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