Chorizo & Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Loin

Do you ever tire of the usual turkey and ham for the holidays?  I love trying something new during the holidays.  I guess I figure if I am going to go to the extra effort there might as well be a house full of people to enjoy it!

A few years back I cooked a sausage and dressing stuffed pork loin.  It was a nice departure from the ordinary turkey and dressing, but it didn’t just wow me.  Maybe it was a little too similar to our usual holiday flavors.  However, my family loves pork, so I began playing around a bit with some flavors and landed upon a this fall recipe.  I use chorizo, goat cheese, dried cranberries and pistachios.  It’s a little sweet and spicy- a combo my family enjoys.

I filet a 4-5 lb pork loin length wise.  Then I prepare the baking dish.  I use a standard 9×13.  Grease the pan and line it with aluminum foil.  Spray the aluminum foil lightly with cooking spray.  Lay the cooking twine out, then place the filleted pork loin in the pan.

porkloin

Brown half a pound of chorizo in a skillet.  Once the chorizo is browned add one cup of  dried cranberries and half a cup of shelled pistachios.  Stir until the cranberries begin to soften and plump.  Turn the heat off, allowing the chorizo mixture to cool.  Add 8 oz of crumbled, plain goat cheese to the mixture.

Pour the mixture down the center of the filleted pork loin.  Take the cooking twine, pulling the pork loin up towards the center, being careful not to force the filling mixture out.  Tie the twine, cutting any excess.

In a microwave safe bowl combine 1 8oz jar of orange marmalade (I use sugar free) and one 8oz jar of red pepper jelly.  Heat for approximately to minutes in the microwave, stirring to combine.  Pour the mixture over the top of the stuffed pork loin.

Bake the stuffed pork loin uncovered at 375 F for 50-60 minutes.  The pan will fill with juices.  If you feel the pork loin is getting dry, simply spoon some of the cooking juices over the top as it continues to bake.

This dish is best served with roasted sweet potatoes, roasted new potatoes and a simple salad.  It is a very savory dish, needing little to accompany it.

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 Chorizo & Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Loin

1- 4-5 lb pork loin, filleted

1/2 lb chorizo, browned

1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup shelled pistachios, lightly salted

8 oz goat cheese, crumbled

8 oz jar orange marmalade

8 oz jar red pepper jelly

cooking twine

 

 

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Are You Ready-Hospitality

Now that we are settled into our new home and I am in the midst of this incredible business Mary & Martha, I have a renewed desire to carry out one of my passions – entertaining.  I love inviting people into my home.  I love that quiet time, set aside to focus on friends, family and even strangers.  I love the conversations, the laughter.  It’s easy to let life crowd those moments out.  It’s easy to compare ourselves, our homes, our abilities to others and talk ourselves out of opening our homes.  Little good can come from that.  Real conversations are hard to have sitting in a coffee shop or a busy restaurant.

I am challenging everyone I know.  My Mary & Martha business holds me accountable in this area.  My Mary & Martha business helps open doors encouraging other women to welcome friends and family into their homes.  My Mary & Martha business provides products to help all of us entertain with ease.  I LOVE it.

Mary & Martha is in the midst of clearing out for our new product line.  I get to go to Siloam Springs, AR next week for my first Leadership Conference.  I can’t wait to worship, fellowship and learn.  I can’t wait to get to see Dayspring headquarters (our parent company).  I can’t wait to get ready-ready for a year of growing my business, sharing hospitality, modeling hospitality and encouraging hospitality.

Our flash sale has been extended one day only.  Ends tonight at midnight, January 16.  If you have never shopped the products this is a great opportunity to sample some at great prices.

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To shop go to http://www.mymaryandmartha.com/shana or click on the Mary & Martha button.

New Home, New Plans, Start Here

Our moving process has just about come to an end.  The painter was back for touch ups today and the last light will hopefully be hung next week.  I have had the boxes unpacked for a while, but we are still (I am still) finding a place for everything.  I have said it before and I will say it again, while I love my new home and am ever so grateful to have had this opportunity, the best part of this move has been releasing.  I tell you, this recovering perfectionist has learned a lot about releasing over the course of the past three years-releasing people, feelings, situations…  The icing on the cake has been releasing stuff as we have prepared to move.  I feel twenty pounds lighter (in my dreams, and that’s another blog post for another day).  My family has embraced this process and I can honestly say I do believe we are down to having in our home only those things we love and find to be useful!

I was born with an innate desire to have order and simplicity.  I’m not one to like chaos, although I love change.  I’m not one to like collections.  I’m not one to like lots of color and pattern, in my home or on my person. I feel better when things are fairly simple (my girls say ‘boring’).  Piles do not energize me.  They drain me, as if calling out to me, “One more thing to do!”  While this innate desire for order and simplicity has driven me to a love of organization, I truly embrace organization because of the life it enables me to live.  I don’t ever want my home, my blog, my speaking engagements, etc… to prompt anyone to go home and begin organizing so they can present a certain image, or think it is a must do.  I don’t want any of us to emulate the pristine pictures in magazines or on Pinterest.  My prayer, my hope, is that anything I write, say, picture, about organizing creates a longing in others for peace, for a life that is fully lived.  I love being organized, having an organized home because it frees me to serve others, to use my home as a sanctuary and place of refreshment and nourishment.

Over the course of the next few months I thought I’d give you a glimpse into our home and along the way pass along some of my tips for keeping things ordered.  Today we will start at the front.  Our front door opens into our entry and dining room.  This home has been a challenge.  We have moved from a two story English style home, with lots of separate rooms, to a more English country open, one story floor plan.  I love it, but boy does it ever beg for order.

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I have yet to find an entry rug I like, nor have I landed on what to put over/behind/with the small silver chest on the entry wall.  We have 14 foot ceilings in the entry and dining.  I love the expanse.  I feel like I can take a deep breath and relax when I walk in.  I decided in this home to move away from the more traditional English colors I had used in the past, deep reds, navy blues, deep greens, and gold.  I moved completely out of my comfort zone and went with tone on tone.  The trim is slightly darker than the walls.  It is a greige.  I think that’s what they call this new trend.  The walls are subtle taupe/white.  We have a lot of family wood pieces and I wanted those items to pop and yet the home to feel light and slightly more modern.  Not sure we pulled it off completely, but it is feeling like home and we all like it.

Our dining room is a big part of our home.  Not in terms of space, but in terms of how we live.  We LOVE to entertain, and so our dining room really does get lots of use.  I am blessed to have a 1960 Ethan Allen dining set once owned by my mother-in-law.   In fact, it was her gift to us just two short years before she passed.  I treasure it.  I love the simple lines.  She loved order as well, so she had great storage pieces.  There is a bar cart my husband’s father still uses, so I don’t have it yet, but one day the set will be completed again.

We keep our dining table extended, ready for seating 8.  I love to decorate for the various seasons, but always try to keep the decorations centered on the table, so nothing has to be moved in order to use the table.  It just makes life easier.  I like to throw a few books and decor items in the china cabinet, but by in large, I store china and crystal in the china cabinet.  It keeps it safe.  It keeps it close at hand for use.  For those of you who never use your china, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.  I got to meet and hear a Royal Doulton VP speak shortly after I got married.  A real treat.  He took a china plate and through it on the floor.  It didn’t break. He took a piece of every day dishware, through it on the floor and it shattered.  Bone china is actually very strong.  It is resistant to chipping and breaking.  Now, if you slam it up against the granite counter, well, no help there.  My point is, while it may look fragile, it really isn’t.  I could go off on a whole other path here spiritually comparing women to bone china and reminding us how very strong we are, but…  I also learned that bone china is dishwasher safe.  I heard you gasp.  And yes, my grandmother and mother just might faint.  It is the truth.  bone china, even with gold or silver banding is dishwasher safe.  The trick?  DO NOT use dish detergent with lemon in it.  In all actuality using dish detergent with lemon in it is bad for ALL your dishes, glass ware, cookware etc…  The lemon causes pitting.  Use the plain Jane dish detergent.  I use the good old Cascade plain.  I have for 24 years and my china is as beautiful today as the day I got it.  My gold bands are in tact.  The second secret is to let it air dry.  Adjust the setting on your dishwasher-it’s simple.  I tell you all of this to say-USE YOUR CHINA!  Why have it, why store it, if you are not going to use it?  If it just isn’t you, not your taste, you registered to get your mother off your back, then take a deep breath and let it go.  If you love it, dream of using it, then get it out and USE IT!

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I keep my silver in the silver drawer.  You can buy replacement liners and/or spray for the liners at the Container Store.  This keeps my silver from tarnishing quite so quickly.  Again, I keep it here so I will use it.  And we do-even a little tarnished.  I also keep our table cloth, chargers, table runners, box of plate stands etc… and a box of candles in the cabinet.  I literally have everything at my finger-tips when needing to set a quick table or prepare for a festive gathering.  You’ll notice the table cloth drawer is not full.  I keep a cream table cloth and a brown one.  That’s it.  I have found those two meet my needs.  And in all honesty, more often than not we just use place-mats or chargers.  I know there are TONS of gorgeous table cloths out there.  I know many of you have drawers brimming with them.  My question is, “Why?”  Do you use them?  How often do you think about using them, only to decide you don’t want to iron them or you don’t want them to get dirty.  My challenge to you is this-free up the space.  Get rid of them.  Life is way too short to fret over table cloths.  Keep the one or two you REALLY use.  Release the rest.

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I change out the art next to the china cabinet by season.  It’s an easy spot to add some holiday decor, yet doesn’t clutter things or require moving a lot of other stuff around.   During the fall I actually have framed pumpkins my kids did back in the 3rd grade.  I loved the look of them and as a mom, I struggled during those elementary years with storing their art.  I actually have quite a bit of it framed and we use it in our home.   It’s amazing how many comments we get.  I love it.  My girls love it.  One day I hope their children will love it and be inspired.

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As I have sought to become less of a perfectionist and more of an organized mom seeking peace, beauty and a full life, I have come to realize that having less often means having more.  Our dining room is fairly simple.  I have let go of a lot of stuff-and I am ashamed to say so.  Good grief the decorations, table cloths etc… I have spent money on.  Oh well, lessons learned.  As you can see.  I use every inch of the china cabinet and keep the table open for guests (which also means I don’t have to store the table leaves).  I have tried to be creative with my kids’ art, saving money at the same time.  While simple, we love our dining room and we use our dining room.  We serve friends and family there.  We play games there.  On occasion the table is cleared and we work on scrapbooks there.  We enjoy it.  And that dear friends, is a full life.

I challenge you to rethink your dining room.  If it’s really not your style to have one, then repurpose the room.  I have helped a client turn hers into a craft room.  A friend of mine uses hers as a billiards room.  If you want to use your dining room, then do.  Clear out the chests, get rid of the excess.  Use it, enjoy it.

House Construction Almost Done, Home Construction Just Beginning

The journey to our new home continues.  While I have continued to use my trusty Home Building Binder and Expandable Folder, let me assure you not all has gone as planned.  Add to that our crazy moves (two to be exact), and well, it’s been all we expected and more!

My husband and I have built 5 personal homes, counting the current house under construction.  We love the process.  We get along during the process, which some would say is a testament to our marriage.  Of course, there are those who say we are crazy and I am sure there are those who would judge us for spending the money.  No comment.  We love the process.  We have learned from the process.  We look forward each time to the construction of the house, but even more to the construction of the home.

Paul and I share the gift of hospitality.  We truly believe our home is meant to be used to entertain, welcome, serve, heal and encourage others.  We love guests-so yes, if you are reading and want to come visit-COME ON!  We have sought to teach our girls to love home-to care for it using principles of biblical stewardship; to spend time in it; to entertain friends; to create in it…  We have not built extravagant houses.  I have yet to get my Viking Range in my dream kitchen.  The Moroccan tile bathroom got nixed.  The pantry turned out smaller than planned.  One closet was negatively impacted by a failure to realize the door needed to be off center.  There are moments of disappointment.  There are moments of frustration.  So why do we do it?  How do we survive it?  Simply focus on the home you want to build, not the construction of a house.  The house construction will go awry.  Subs will make mistakes.  Subs will be late.  Concrete, boards, sheet rock, duct work, etc… are simply the framework for the house.  Yes, it requires planning and attention to detail.  But if your focus is on the framework, you’ll end up one frustrated, disappointed, angry person.  However, if you focus your attention on the outcome-how you want to LIVE in the home, you’ll be able to let the little things be little things.  I can still prepare delicious meals without a Viking.  My kitchen can still be filled with light, laughter and love without a Viking Range.  The clothes will still fit in the not so perfect closet and it can lead to an opportunity to scavenger the area for a worn armoire to paint, adding some pizzazz and style to a daughter’s room.  As we walk through our imperfect construction, we talk about the events we want to host, we talk about where friends will sleep, we talk about pool parties and family holidays.  The joy of building comes in dreaming about all that will take place in our home.

We are nearing the end.  Three more weeks!  We are excited.  We are grateful.  We are ready to get back to normal-if such a thing exists.  But most of all, we are ready to share our home.  We are past the little mistakes.  We are past the frustration and disappointment.  We have our eye on the prize- a framework of a house turned into a home as we live, laugh, play in it.  We can’t wait to welcome family, friends and even strangers.  We are almost done with construction, but the journey to constructing our home has just begun!

 

5 Tips for Surviving Construction

1.  Plan, plan and then plan some more (see previous post)

2.  Communicate with your contractor daily-even if just a short text.

3.  Walk through your home with plans in hand every day.

4.  Expect mistakes and delays.

5.  Spend more time talking about how you will live in the home, than what you want it to look like.

Hire the Babysitter!

We had a great weekend.  Saturday we hosted a baby shower for one of the girls’ former babysitters.

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Back in the day, I taught 8th grade girls’ Sunday School.  I had an incredible group of young girls, whom I grew to adore!  No one prayed harder for me to overcome infertility and have a baby.  No one prayed harder for the babies growing in my tummy.  And no one, beat any of those girls to the hospital to visit the fragile premature little girls laying in the nursery.  Two young girls in particular captured my heart.  They had the most amazing friendship.  They became our duo babysitting team- from 9th grade through 12th.  We were blessed.  My girls were blessed.  I think they were blessed.  One of them has a cute little 5 week old baby boy. The other, well, she is soon expecting a beautiful baby girl, and therefore a fabulous tea party themed shower this weekend.

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Decorating and preparing was so much fun.  I pulled out two old quilts-one made for me by my grandmother, the other one quilted by my great, great aunts.  They served as the perfect backdrop for a moss runner, candles, roses, greenery and some touches of crystal and silver.  Making the table, were the vintage pink dishes left to me by mother-in-law just before her death early in my marriage.  She was a soft-spoken woman of grace.  Each time I use those dishes I think of her, how much I know she would have treasured her grand-daughters and I smile.  We ate, presents were opened and by the end, there was an explosion of pink!  The dad’s, grand-dads and dads to be showed up to load the “loot”.  The real visitin’ and eatin’ began.  I loved it.  I loved watching my own girls, just now the same age as the two babysitters were when they began working for us. Life had come full circle.  It hit me with joy, mixed with a tinge of sorrow-sorrow time passes so quickly.  Most of all though, I was struck by what an incredible blessing these two young women, now mothers, have been to my family.  I stood back as the new mom let each of my girls hold her precious son.  I watched as the four of them laughed, talked about his little nose, attire and life in general.  I laughed as they talked about the soon to be mom’s nursery.  Then, it seemed to hit both these young women.  Almost in unison, they looked at me and asked, “How old were they (my twin girls) when you let us babysit them?”  “A little over six weeks,” I replied.  The response was comical.  Within seconds they were both talking a little louder and as if in total astonishment!  I found myself being reprimanded.  “Were you crazy?  We were 14!!!!  You left us with your six week old babies?  What were you thinking?”  I couldn’t help but laugh.  There in front of me stood the six week old baby girls-now 15 years of age, standing taller than their mother!  Alongside them stood the nearing 30 young women who were once the sweet 14 year old babysitters.  Obviously all had survived.  Obviously all four are bonded for life and still crazy about each other.  For a brief moment though I did wonder what in the world I had been thinking.  Or maybe I hadn’t been thinking.  Maybe I had been nothing more than a crazy, sleep deprived, in need of adult conversation new mom.  I am not denying that in part describes me, but the truth is I intentionally asked those sweet 14 year old girls to take care of my just over 6 week old babies.  I waited a long time to become a mom.  Six years of infertility had kept me on an emotional roller coaster, friends had come and gone, my marriage had been tested.  And in God’s timing, in His way, He had chosen to grant us twin girls.  The pregnancy was difficult, they came too early, I hemorrhaged shortly after delivery, and for several days I don’t think anyone felt confident all three of us were going to survive.  But we did.  During those years of waiting and even during those difficult days awaiting their coming home, I vowed to give them back to God.  I determined to surround them with as many faith filled people as I could.  I vowed to be their biggest advocate, but to not hold on too tightly.  I knew they would need someone besides mom and dad to “watch”, to talk to, to trust.  So in those early days, yes just past six weeks (actually I think it was closer to 9 weeks), I purposed to let those two, sweet, 14 year old girls become a part of my girls’ lives.  I purposed to encourage what I knew would one day be a mentorship and a friendship.  Crazy, maybe.  But as I said, in the end all survived.  Two young 14 year old girls got to spread their wings.  They got to share with me, borrow shoes for prom, and seek advice.  I gained their mothers as life long friends and mentors.  Now, my girls have two sweet, young moms to share with, borrow from and seek advice from.

The baby shower was great.  Greater yet though was seeing life come full circle.  If you are a young mom or dad doubting, wishing you had some time alone or with your mate, to you I say, “Hire the babysitter!”

Southern Hospitality: It Ain’t About You

I love to host events.  I have the Spiritual Gift of hospitality and come from a long line of Southern cooks, most of whom loved to entertain.  There’s just nothing better than good food, a cool beverage, some flowers and a host of friends.  Every time I entertain, I am reminded thought “It ain’t about me!”

It saddens me that as our houses have grown in size and Viking Ranges have gained in popularity, fewer and fewer people entertain.  I am hopeful though as I follow blogs and spend too much time on Pinterest, that the next generation is bringing good old fashioned hospitality back.  That’s exactly as it should be.  I also notice though that the houses are a little smaller, the tables set with restraint, and what is old is new again.  How fun!

As I mentioned, I come from a long line of great cooks and hostesses.  Each with their own style, but each made certain their home was ready for guests and the very best of what they had to offer was prepared with love for those visiting.  I pray the gift of hospitality is something I will pass on to my girls.  Hosting others in your home can be one of the most fulfilling tasks.  Especially if done right.  And, the only way to ensure you do it right, is to remember, “It ain’t about you.”  Too often we get more concerned with what people will think of our home, our place settings, our choice of attire, etc… and we fail to think about the person(s) we have invited into our home.  To entertain well, one must make your guest comfortable.  And that can mean different things for different folks.  But what it always means is placing our attention on them.

I have been blessed to have a husband and children that love having others in our home.  That being said, we have hosted a LOT of stuff.  I am always so blessed when my guests tell me how comfortable they were at my home or have someone take the moment to tell me how “homey” my home is.  Now, I realize that in some “southern” talk that can mean my home is cute, not the top in vogue design style etc… but, if someone felt at ease, enjoyed good conversation and wanted to linger, then “homey” I’ll take!  This point was driven home a few years ago when a dear friend called and asked if I would take the lead in hosting a bridal shower for her son’s bride elect.  Her reasoning for calling me was simply this, “I know you will think about her and make it comfortable.  She likes simple things, doesn’t have expensive taste and would much prefer that money be spent on a cause than on cakes or silver.”  Yes, entertaining is ALL about your guests.  Of course, I hosted the bridal shower and I do believe it was a success, meaning the bride elect was at home and felt welcomed.  In reality, I got a few raised eye-brows as I recommended we use a few paper products, have rustic decor and serve mini cupcakes instead of a large bridal shower cake, which in the South can come close to looking like a mini version of the wedding cake!  We served on white porcelain trays, no silver, no crystal.  Oh my…  But, you see, that was this bride-to-be.  She loved color and simplicity.  Her heart was tender and she was a giver.  A lot of fluff and sparkle would have seemed a waste to her, almost even an offense.  Lesson learned, yet once again.  Entertaining ain’t about me, it’s all about my guests.

Here are a few tips, followed by some pictures of various hostessing moments.  Enjoy.  I hope you will be encouraged to open your home.  Plan a party.  Plan dinner with friends.  Keep it simple and make it ALL about them.

Hosting 101:

  1. A clean home is more important than a decorated home.  I know, we all hate it, but mop, vacuum and scrub the toilets.  It’ll go a long way.
  2. No need for crystal and china-although if you have it USE it!
  3. Set the table the day before.   Include placing serving pieces on the table.
  4. Be creative in your centerpieces:  A few potted plans sitting on some burlap running the center of the table.  (Your guests can take them as party favors or you can plant them the next day.)  A grouping of candles is always fun.  Fresh fruit gathered among-st some grapevine or set upon a wreath.
  5. Keep the food simple.  A meat, a starch, and a veggie or salad.  Make dessert the night before or have something mixed up ready to pop in the oven.  I love chocolate chip cookie dough in ramekins.  Serve hot with a scoop of ice cream.
  6. Be creative with napkins:  Use bar towels, bandannas, and yes, even paper
  7. Don’t stress over the details and by all means don’t snap and yell at your family.  (This is the voice of experience.)  Your guests will notice the tension more than they will notice the missing centerpiece or toys under the coffee table.
  8. Let the dirty dishes wait.  Your guests came to see you.  Be seen.  Sit and visit.

 

She made it herself.
She made it herself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep-plastic cloths, plastic dishes ...  But lots of fun
Yep-plastic cloths, plastic dishes … But lots of fun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was all about him and GOLF
It was all about him and GOLF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple, Yet Elegant for the Mom
Simple, Yet Elegant for the Mom

 

 

From Chaos to Order to Thanksgiving

Lest anyone think I am always organized, completely together… I’m giving you a glimpse of my kitchen counter Friday afternoon.  Not pretty.  If you looked real hard, you’d see dog hair on the floor, along with some damp fall leaves drug in by our two furry friends.  

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There was a moment of complete frustration.  And before I knew it the negative self-talk began in my mind.  “You don’t have enough time.”  “You are so behind.”  “There’s no way to have everything ready for Thanksgiving, then three weeks to Christmas and then the girls’ birthday.”  Thankfully, yes, thankfully, I had spent quite a bit of time Friday reading in God’s word before the sun rose, reading through Crystal Paine’s manuscript, and had lunch catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in two years.  We had laughed about memories past, shared our mothering struggles and even discussed the dysfunction in each of our families that can drive us crazy. But in the end, we had laughed much and recognized all the good in our homes, in us, in our husbands.  So, I took a step back.  I shut the negative talk down.  I looked at the calendar, saw an opening on Sunday and blocked off two hours.  I then jumped in the car with my family to enjoy an evening with friends watching basketball.  Sure enough, I enjoyed the weekend and my family, knowing in advance about my “blocked off time” left me to the quiet of my kitchen for an hour and half.  The mess on the counter got cleaned up. Coupons got clipped.  I finished filling out the gift idea list, scheduled the new events on the calendar and reviewed the menu for the week.  I blocked off time (with 30 minutes extra on the front and back side) for each task:  shopping, board meeting, real estate calls, church reminders, baking, food preparation, laundry etc…  I sighed a deep sigh of relief.  I wiped down the counters, grabbed a tall glass of water and just sat for a moment.  What a great feeling.

Life can seemingly go from good to bad to ugly in a matter of seconds.  And sometimes, that indeed happens.  A catastrophic event occurs.  But more often, we just think life has gone from good to bad.  We allow ourselves to get overwhelmed.  We wallow in the chaos and never stop long enough to take a breath and work at restoring order.  And that, that is what steals our joy.  That is what keeps us from experiencing gratitude and having a sense of peace.  Just a little quiet time focused on reigning in the tasks, getting a written plan in place, and life can go right back to great.  Yes, there’s a lot to do.  Yes, it may mean more time in the kitchen than usual.  I may be up a little later, but what a privilege.  How blessed I am.  How blessed we are.  How deserving of thanks is my God who is and was and is to come.  

So, don’t get bogged down in the chaos this week.  Take time, right now, to create order.  It is within your power.  Then, as I will do, work the plan.  Let the blogging, the extra house project, Facebook, etc… fall to the side.  This week they are not necessary.  Only your list, only your family, only Thanksgiving.  

My kitchen bar is still clear.  And as of tonight one of the tables is set and ready.  Be Still.  Let the God of Order fill your thoughts.  Be Thankful.

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Get Ready: Holiday Planning Begins NOW!

I allow myself to get through Halloween before I begin planning for the Holidays.  Of course, ideas, thoughts, pictures swirl through my mind, but I make no effort to intentionally plan or write things down until now.  We can get so caught up in planning and preparing, we miss the joy of the season.  Before you begin to think of gifts and decorations I challenge you to follow the advice of Glynnis Whitwer and tackle the food planning first. After all, the best memories are made around the dinner table or at the festive holiday drop in.  And in all reality, the food for the next 6 weeks can cost us as much as the gifts if we are not careful.  Glynnis’ tips are easy – just takes a little planning and a little time.

Let the holiday planning begin!  http://glynniswhitwer.com/2013/11/planning-for-the-food/

Organized to Party

We had quite a weekend!  In the midst of beginning to home school one of my daughters, we had the privilege of hosting a baby shower for a very special former babysitter, now considered special family friend.  Well, truth be known, we claim her and her best friend (also former babysitter) as family.  It had been a while since we had a large event at the house.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy hosting parties and celebrating life’s special moments!  To say we had fun, is truly an understatement.  It was all the more fun getting to host with girls just shy of being 20 years younger than myself!

Blue, Blue and More Blue
Blue, Blue and More Blue
Drink Station Decor
Drink Station Decor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I planned, I found myself once again searching Pinterest.  Not just for shower food ideas and theme decor, but some cute little printable to use for Party Planning.  I found several, but in the end, this Second Season Mom decided nothing beats my planner and a legal pad.

Trusted Legal Pad
Trusted Legal Pad

I made a list of decor for each area (food table, beverage table, seating area, gift display table, etc…).  I then listed the menu, who was to bring it and put recipe locations and grocery items on the back of the trusted yellow legal pad paper.  Last, but not least, I listed in the margin next to each item or task what day I would take care of the assignment.  Some of these got transferred to my weekly calendar pages, while others just got marked off directly on the legal pad.  Some days you just have to do the job.  I could have spent many more hours searching all of your incredible sites for the perfect planning pages, but…  Tried and true are sometimes best.  Most importantly though, what matters most is just getting it done!  Purge the mind, trust your list, and then set out to get it done.  The day of will always be more enjoyable that way.

 

 

I am ready now to begin my holiday planning.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  My girls will have the entire week off.  I love the crisp air, beauty of the fall leaves and a holiday that requires little more than some cooking.  We are loving our new edition from Ever Thine Home created by Barbara Rainey at Family Life.  Being thankful is a state of mind.  Being thankful is a by product of living in the moment.  We had much to be thankful for this weekend and trust we will continue to express our gratitude through the holiday season.

 

Gather Round from Ever Thine Home by Barbara Rainey
Gather Round from Ever Thine Home by Barbara Rainey