Saturday, June 27, 2015


 I'm off enjoying summer.
No time to blog.
XOXO Tiffany

"Extracting pleasure from simple things can be the key to a happy life".
Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L Scott

Saturday, May 30, 2015

On my nightstand...

Lately I've been reading:
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (Lucy's request)
Tough Guys and Drama Queens by Mark Gregston (reading with friends)
Scary Close by Donald Miller (reading with friends)
Son by Lois Lowry (read aloud)
The Keillor Reader by Garrison Keillor (gift from brother)

It's pouring rain, the kids all have friends over, lunch is finished (pizza), and the last thing on my list is to pay bills.
Then I'll probably read, watch Netflix (Parks and Recreation), and play Skip-Bo with Matt.
I love summer.

Have a great weekend!

XOXO Tiffany

"Parents can't always change the influence of the world, but they can change the way they engage with their kids to help them weather the storms of uncertainty".
Tough Guys and Drama Queens by Mark Gregston

Saturday, May 23, 2015 we come.

We wrapped up our 2014/2015 school year on Friday.
It was one of our favorite years.

Friday ended up being warm and sunny, so we cancelled math for the day
and spent the afternoon outside.

I am so excited for summer.
I can't believe that I won't be teaching from 10-2:30 every day.
I plan on doing the things on the list above, and not much more.
I want to enjoy and soak in every moment.

Happy Summer!

XOXO Tiffany

"...a peaceful and happy mother is the real key to successful homeschooling".
Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie (eBook)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Last Week in Pictures (May 10-16, 2015)

XOXO Tiffany

"...but I look forward to tomorrow morning and rising up, making coffee, watching the sun rise as it keeps doing day in and day out..."
The Keillor Reader by Garrison Keillor

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day

I am not one that puts a crazy amount of pressure on Mother's Day.
I'm totally fine telling my family what I want and what I would like to do.
I typically like the day to be fairly simple.
Church, food, relax.

Last year (2014) quickly took over as my worst Mother's Day ever.
It beat out 2002 by a landslide.

A trip down memory lane...
In 2002, Matt and I (7 months pregnant) took Daisy (11 months) on the Afton Princess Mother's Day boat cruise down the St. Croix River.
My mom kept saying, "Leave Daisy with me!  You guys go and have a good time!".
I said, "'s Mother's Day, I want Daisy to be with me!".
Famous last words.
Apparently a group of people were late in getting to the cruise, so they decided to wait, making the rest of the people that did show up on time, suffer.  They departed 45 minutes late.  Which meant that we ate 45 minutes late, and the cruise ended 45 minutes late.
For the average cruiser, this time delay wasn't a problem.
For us, there were some consequences.
Daisy had just learned how to run.
We had a hungry, tired, running 11 month old on that cruise for about an hour too long.
We nicknamed her "The Afton Princess" for the better part of that year.
Matt and I are not super relaxed in situations like that, so it was not the best day.
We did laugh about it later.  And still do.

Last year was a totally different situation.
My three kids, on any given day, are normally so good to me.
Lucy will give me a manicure, Daisy will scratch my back, MJ will be thoughtful with his words.
Really good kids.
On Mother's Day, something happened where it was almost like they couldn't stand the fact that I had a day about me.
It was the strangest thing.

The morning started out just fine.
We got home from church, and I was preparing a soup (that Matt and I love), a salad, and some bread  for a simple lunch.
My parents would be coming over shortly.
No one offered to help.  
My Love Language is Acts of Service, which means I feel loved when my family members ask me,
"Is there anything I can do to help, Mom?"
Over the course of the next hour,
one child was flopping around on the floor asking why they couldn't see if friends could play. ("because all your friends are celebrating their mothers today, Sweetie"...was my sarcastic response...I hate it when I get sarcastic)
Two family members were sitting on the couch watching TV while holding an iProduct.
One child was nowhere to be found.

So, I was crabby.
My parents came over and we sat down to the lunch I prepared all by myself.
One precious child looked me in the eyes and said,
"I wish we could have just gone out to eat so that we wouldn't have to eat this soup".
I stared back at that precious child, got up, and left the room.

Matt found me upstairs curled up in a ball crying over the selfish children that I had raised.
Seriously, on any other day, they don't act like that!
My bedroom is above the kitchen and after my family enjoyed lunch without me,
my mom said to my kids, "let's clean up the kitchen".
Another one of my precious kids said, "I don't know how".
Oh...mark my kids will never utter those words again!
I won't go into the rest of the gory details,
but let's just say, Matt and I had a meeting at about 7 o'clock that evening,
and our kids lives have not been the same since.

We attributed their ungrateful/entitled attitudes to:
1.  too much media
2.  not enough chores

Matt and I brainstormed ways to resolve those issues.
We came up with our Media Rules, which I go over once a month with the kids.
We also introduced a Chore Chart, which basically means that my kids will never again say that they don't know how to clean a kitchen, clean a bathroom, sweep, vacuum, dust, poop duty, take out the garbage, sort laundry, and help prepare meals. 
The reason they won't be able to say that they don't know how to do these things is because they have done these things every day/week for an entire year.
And they will continue to do these things around the house as long as they would like to live in this house.

We definitely have more time on our hands because we homeschool.
But, I am still planning on Daisy completing her chores every day/week next year even though she'll be at high school every day.  She may just have to do more of her chores on Saturday's.

I love my kids.
But I refuse to send an ungrateful, selfish, entitled kid out into this world (or into my basement).
There is work to do, there is time to manage, and there is fun to be had.
All things in moderation.

I hope you have an amazing Mother's Day!
I hope you feel loved and appreciated for all you do!
And, if you don't, it may just be the start of something awesome.

XOXO Tiffany

"Parents of tweens and teens need to hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and be proactive and effective in training our children to face the snares of adolescence."
Tough Guys and Drama Queens by Mark Gregston

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Cooking and Sewing and Reading

It's Saturday morning, and I just sat down to my coconut latte.
I'm going to get my weekly blog post out, and then it's back to the kitchen.
We're celebrating birthday's and mother's day tonight with my family, my brothers family, my parents, and my grandma Ruta.
My menu:
Calico Beans
Gourmet Potatoes
Asian Cabbage Salad
Peach Pie
I brought this Rainbow Fruit Salad (+ cheese and crackers) to the most amazing prime rib dinner party at a friends house last night.

Honey Chicken Kabobs marinating.

Calico Beans in the crockpot.
I still need to set the table and prepare the rest of the menu.
Looking forward to spending the day in the kitchen.
Also looking forward to some little breaks out on the deck.
The weather is amazing!

Not much has been happening in the sewing room.
I made 50 fitted crib sheets for Bundles of Love.
And sewed some hems for a friend and myself.
Fixed a couple of things for Lucy.
Not much else at this point.
The more time I give to sewing, the more I have no idea what's for dinner.
Something has to take the back burner, and my Etsy shop is that thing.
For this season anyway.
I really like feeding my family.

Reading...trying (trying trying trying) to finish the 870 pages of Harry Potter book 5!
Also reading Scary Close by Donald Miller for our small group (love it).
My stack of books waiting for me to pick up is getting bigger and bigger.
Summer reading...can't wait.  3 weeks of Miller homeschool left...yes!

I'm off to make some homemade ice cream.
Have a great weekend!

XOXO Tiffany

"She looked around at Harry, her face glowing, and he saw that the presence of hundreds of books had finally convinced Hermione that what they were doing was right."
Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Saturday, April 25, 2015

5 Meals

My favorite post-Whole30 food is honey toast.
I can't get enough, though I limit myself to one slice a day.
Great Harvest Bread Co.'s honey whole wheat bread (just 5 ingredients!),
butter, and some local honey.

I finally got back into my 5 Meals again.
The Whole30, sickness, recovering from sickness, travel...all threw me off for a bit.
Lucy helped me come up with our 5 Meals for the week.
1.  I made a pot roast on Monday.
So nice to have that cooking away while we went about our day.
**lazy girl method...I did not brown my meat first.

2.  We also made these fabulous Creamy Chicken Tacos.
In Whole30 fashion, I passed on the tortillas and put mine over a
bed of lettuce and topped it with cilantro and avocado.

This meal was a guilty pleasure for the week.
3.  Penne Alfredo + Caesar Salad + french bread

Here's how I make my alfredo sauce:
Alfredo Sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
dash of pepper

Heat butter and cream in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted.  
Stir in cheese, salt, and pepper.  Serve over 8-12 oz of pasta.

I added avocado and passed on the croutons and the french bread.
Worth every bite of pasta.
*note the small portion of pasta
**insert painful emoji face
***I could have eaten a big bowlful

4.  We also made tacos.
I just brown my ground beef in olive oil with a chopped onion and add
chili powder and cumin when it's done browning.
Again, I passed on the tortilla (I really love tortillas), and just tossed up a big taco salad.
#imforty #carbs=pounds

5.  Today I'm making meal 5...the best Potato Soup you have ever tasted!
We love potato soup, and I was making mine vegetarian
(no bacon) for a long time.
No bacon = no flavor.
You will LOVE this soup!

MJ's favorite breakfast is a toasted hard egg sandwich with sausage.
I'll have to get a picture of that sandwich sometime.
It's quite a sight, and he makes it all himself.

Have fun in the kitchen!

XOXO Tiffany

"'s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about.  What's hard, she said, is figuring out what you're willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about."
Savor by Shauna Niequist

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Keeping busy...

I have been loving my real food diet + Whole30 inspired meals.
I've tried several recipes from my new 100 Days of Real Food cookbook
and all of them have been well received.
Nobody was excited about these little pizzas, but I made them 
and then nobody could stop eating them!
They were delicious!  Here's what you do:
Mini Whole Wheat Pita Pizzas
Use a bag of Trader Joe's mini whole wheat pitas and top with marinara sauce, sprinkle with cheese, add dried basil (my addition), and bake at 425 for 8 minutes.
Chewy and crispy all at the same time...delicious!
We ate these with a side of veggies and dip.

Daisy turned 14 this month.

And then we celebrated Easter at my parents.

Great Plains Sauce and Dough Co in Ames IA
Last weekend, Daisy and I went on a road trip to Kansas City for her soccer tournament.
We enjoyed a wonderful girls weekend.
16 hours in the car with my teen was a win for me.
(I think she enjoyed it too)

A beautiful weekend!

This week, I hosted a table at a Women's Gathering at our church.
We had a fabulous dinner, listened to author/speaker 
Michelle Anthony, and had tea and dessert.

I got to spend the evening with my mom, mother-in-law and friends!
The kids and I went to Minnehaha Falls for a spring hike with 
my auntie Nancy and 3 cousins.
A beautiful day for a hike.

XOXO Tiffany

"When we stop to gather around the table and eat a meal made by someone's hands, we honor our bodies and the God who created them".
Savor by Shauna Niequist

Saturday, April 11, 2015

I'm reading...

In the morning, I've been reading a daily devotion from Savor by Shauna Niequist
and then also reading the chapter in the Bible that she references.

In the afternoon, I've been reading 100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake.
I have been a huge fan of Lisa's blog for some time now.
Our family was on an exclusive Real Food diet at one time.
Basically, I got tired of my family whining about Doritos and Oreos and "good" snacks for their friends,
so I laid off the Real Food diet, against my better judgement.
Lisa's cookbook came out this year and I held off buying it, I suppose I just wasn't ready.
This book is so much more than just a describes the lifestyle of a Real Food diet.
I have officially warned my family, we are going back to Real Food.
The bad habits that we have acquired over the last year or so need to go.

In the evening, I've been reading The Joy of Less by Francine Jay (for the second time).
This is hands down THE best book on decluttering/organizing that I have ever read.
As I work through this book, I'm hoping to work through my home.

XOXO Tiffany

"When we're not longer chained to our stuff, we can savor life, connect with others, and participate in our communities."  The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Sick Day...

I'm in bed, sipping throat coat tea, with a hot rice bag on my feet, water on my night table, and two advil in my tummy.
The girls and I came down with some sort of yuck this week that you would not wish on your worst enemy.
We are on Day 4 and this beast is showing no sign of a surrender!

I leave you with my new favorite quote (above).  I texted it to Matt last week while he was traveling and asked him to read it through a couple of times and to let me know what he thought.  I totally expected him to say, "that is awesome...what a dream!".  But, instead he said, "sounds like you wrote".  Another gentle reminder of how different we are.  I'm thankful for our differences because when we work through those differences, they cause us each to grow.

I have "simplify" on my mind as I lay here helpless.  Hoping to share more on that next week.

I'm out of here...stay healthy and have a wonderful Easter!

XOXO Tiffany

"She knew if she kept it simple, Stone House would be just what people would want to get away for a rest."  A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Here's whats happening...

Once school has been taught, and the laundry is washed, the kids have been driven here and there, mouths have been fed, chores have been managed, groceries have been bought, and media minutes have been counted (ugh)...I am left with a bit of time to do some things I really love.  Of course I'm talking about sewing, crocheting, cooking, and reading.

This week I scheduled two 4-hour shifts in my sewing room, and the kids were so sweet about making sure that I got that time.  I definitely need to block off the calendar more often.

I'm working on some goodies for my Etsy shop.  I've got to pull out what's left of the winter items and add in some new items for spring.  I'm hoping to have the shop updated this weekend.  I sent out a survey to my girlfriends and got some great feedback on what to put back in my shop.  Now I need to schedule in a photo shoot.  

I made some top knot head bands (top photo), some key/coin bags, and some wristlets.  I'm also hoping to work on some new flower pins.

I crochet  while I sit and help the kids with math, and also during movies.  Though, I think this really bothers MJ because he is so serious about his movies and if he notices I haven't looked up in a while, he'll say, "Mom, you missed it!", and rewind so I can see all the details.

My alarm still goes off at 5:30am...though I tend to snooze till 6am.  I wish I wouldn't do that, but the kids just stay up so late these days and they're so chatty at night.  I only manage to get in about 10 minutes of reading in bed before I pass out.  But, once I'm up, I grab my phone and headphones, pick a podcast, and walk for 30 minutes while curling my 3 pound weights.  Works for me until I can get outside and run.

We spent last weekend down in Rochester where Lucy swam on the State relay team in 4 events.  Smoothies every day, two movies (Insurgent and Cinderella), and Qwirkle (which we bought while we were down there because I forgot to pack games).  Lucy mostly hung out with friends in the hotel during her down time, but Matt and I really enjoyed playing Qwirkle.  It's a game that I have managed to beat him at every time.  I'm only gloating because once he masters this thing, I will probably never see another win.  He's that good.

Well, I went and committed to the Whole30.  Have you heard of this?  The idea is from the book It Starts with Food, which I've mentioned a couple of times.  A friend and I were doing a little winter challenge, of sorts, to eat a little better.  Basically, all our other friends were in some tropical location, and we said, "if we're stuck in Minnesota all winter, we may as well be skinny!".  And by skinny, we mean healthy.  Neither of us are over weight, but we're both 40, and that's a whole new alligator to wrestle.  We were noticing that the pounds were instantly attaching whenever we enjoyed our donuts and tortillas and chocolates.  So, I proposed that we do 3 simple things:
1.  Portion control...basically just put less on your plate than you did before and no seconds.
2.  Substitute one meal a day with a smoothie or fresh juice.
3.  No sweets!
This was going pretty well for a week and a half and we had some gentle results to show for it.  Then, her cousin (in San Diego) mentioned the Whole30, and Natalie mentioned it to me.  We were all in.  A 3-way texting friendship was formed, the date was set, and today is Day 12.  Meat, veggies, fruit and fat (avocado, coconut oil, coconut milk, olive oil, olives).  That's what we eat.  No sweets/sugar, no dairy of any kind, no grains of any kind, and nothing processed.  This plan is basically "about creating life-long behaviors designed to always move you in the direction of 'more healthy'."  

Basically, I drink 10 cups of water a day, I drink my coffee with coconut milk and cinnamon (photo above) or black (in a pinch), and then I eat meat, lots of veggies, and fruit (which I prefer in smoothies unless it's a banana).  In a pinch, I eat a LaraBar (one a day max is allowed).

My two favorite meals that I have been eating every day are:
1.  homemade burgers + sauerkraut + 1/2 avocado + mustard
2.  egg roll salad (it's just the inside of my egg roll recipe minus the brown sugar) + 1/2 avocado or olives.
I eat those two meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It's strange, I know.  And yes, I'm trying to get in some other awesome veggies, but it is what it is.  My kids are sick and tired of smelling sauerkraut in the house, but I had no idea how important fermented veggies are in our diets.  I can't tell you why they're important, but if you read the book, or do a Google search, you could find out.

Reading...of course I'm fitting reading in to all the nooks and cranny's of my day, but those nooks and cranny's have not been in abundance lately.  So, my stack is getting rather large.

These are the books that I am currently reading:
The Me Project by Kathi Lipp
Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch
It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (MJ asked me to read the series)
Scary Close by Donald Miller (for our small group from church)
Savor by Shauna Niequist (365 devotions)
A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy (book club)
Harry Potter book 5 by J.K. Rowling (Daisy asked me to read this series a couple of years ago...I'm's so long)

And Lucy is just finishing a series (that she loves) called The Mother Daughter Book Club.  I really want to read that series.  Each book is a year in time and they all read a classic.  It gives you behind the scenes information about the authors and makes you totally want to read those classics.  Lucy has yet to pick up one of the classics that they mention, but I've got my fingers crossed.  

For school we're reading:
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (devotions)
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith (read aloud on the Kindle)
Facing the Facts (book 4) by Stan and Brenna Jones (our sex book...Lord help me)
The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood (historical fiction to supplement our study on Shakespeare)
A Child's History of the World by Virgil M. Hillyer (my favorite history book ever...second time through, I could read this every year for the rest of my life)

Reading buddies...and, I need a headboard.

XOXO Tiffany

"God uses my kids to teach me about myself every day.  Ultimately, He shows me that I can't be the mom I long to be on my own.  I need His help."  Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch