Saturday, October 29, 2011

Worship Song Saturday

My family has been hosting a father/son camp for just about as long as I can remember (Check it out at  This year there are nearly 600 fathers and sons participating, and for the worship service tomorrow, my sisters and I are playing  our string instruments along with two singers, a guitar and piano.  The song I am posting, Surrender All by Sovereign Grace, is new to me; the worship leader suggested that I check it out before we rehearsed and I'm glad I did! 

Nathan is the worship leader for our church, playing guitar and singing.  I am so proud of the great job that he does.  We regularly sing Glorious and Mighty by Sovereign Grace (I should clarify- Nathan sings, and everybody is glad that I just play piano), but I think we'll have to add this to our repertoire too.  

I hope listening to this prepares you for a great time of worshiping God tomorrow.  I'm thinking that I should create a playlist of songs like this and have it ready to go while I'm getting ready in the morning.  Somehow, getting to church on time makes for the most stressful morning of my week, when really, it should be just the opposite.  Maybe taking a proactive step like this will help.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Day His Head Lost 5 Pounds...

I gave my first hair cut not too long ago.  My "shop" was at my mom's house and my client was willing to take a risk on his hair cut.  
 Really, I wasn't afraid of making it worse....and the way this mop grows, even if it did look atrocious, it wouldn't take long for it to grow back.  Plus, curly hair hides a lot.
 This is only part of what came off that head.
Not bad for my first attempt.  Of course, I think he looks cute either way.  :-)
Now, the crazy kid in the background is another story....

The Room Every Family Should Have

 This place, the closet room, is hands-down my favorite place in the house we are renting.  After living here for a few months, I'm practically convinced that it should be illegal to build a home without one.  It gives us a "home" for our miscellaneous items and is less congested than an actual closet.  And if it is so helpful to Nathan and I, I can't imagine how awesome it would be for a family with children.  So, all of you who are planning on building a house someday, take note.

 This is what you see coming in from the garage.  I like having our coats right here- no need to trek across the house to the coat closet when we're leaving from the backdoor.  And for those of you with males in your life, minimizing the number of motions it takes to put things away is a plus.  Here, there is no closet door to open and shut- simply hang up as you walk in the door.  I've found the same thing to be true for laundry.  After unsuccessfully trying a hamper with a lid in Nathan's bathroom, I changed to just putting an open laundry basket in there.  Voila!  From then on, his clothes magically made it into the hamper.  
Speaking of laundry, having a laundry basket in this space has been great.  Our laundry room is in the basement, so I'm usually not motivated enough to run down there with dirty towels and such from the kitchen.  But, it is easy to step into this room and drop laundry into the basket.  And if one of us is coming in dirty from outdoor work, exercise, or sports, this is a good spot to drop dirty clothes, rather than dragging the dirt through the house.
Keeping our cleaning supplies all in one plastic box has been really helpful.  When I'm cleaning, I just carry the whole box from room to room with me, which makes it go faster since I'm not constantly running back to a specific place for supplies.  The other container in the picture holds disposable paper goods.
 I keep extra paper towels, lightbulbs and such on the top shelf, and then have room below for ironing essentials and a basket of cleaning rags.
 A bowl for keys and a basket for random things we might bring in with us.
 I really like these pull-out baskets.  I would imagine with kids it would be a great place for little hats and mittens, backpacks, etc.  We use the top drawer for disposable bags and the bottom for small reusable totes.
 When we lived in our apartment, the small space forced us to find methods of organization.  It was nice to start out that way to get in the habit of being efficient with our space.  It also made it a lot easier to move- we didn't have a lot of random odds and ends to pack up.  We got a gift card to Target last Christmas and used it to buy a lot of plastic containers.  Here I have one for gift bags, a small one for bows and ribbons, and then a bag of pool items- towels, sun screen, goggles- waiting for next summer.
These shelves hold odds and ends of tools (usually there are more there on that bottom shelf, but Nathan has them out at the house we're remodeling), toys my little siblings play with when they come over (I'm the cool sister because I have a marshmallow gun and an air cannon), scrapbooking supplies and gift wrap.  I'm sure there's a lot more that could be done with this space if we needed it to.

And that brings us to the end of your tour of my favorite room in my house!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nieces and Nephews

If these sweet faces don't make your day brighter, I don't know what will.

Happy Tuesday!

My sister Krista's girls

Megan's four

 Gracie and Madeline

 Baby Benjamin

 I think I'll get to see Krista's girls this weekend.  They live in Chicago, so they grow up a lot between visits!  Megan lives about 30 minutes away, so usually I get to see those nieces and nephews once a week.  Uncle Nathan is a favorite with the older boys because he plays Nerf wars!

Baby Elliana

Four Mini-Posts in One

Nathan and I had a fun and free weekend in St. Louis- it doesn't get any better than that!  He coaches a couple of club soccer teams, and the high school girls had a two-day tournament in St. Louis.  I went to a couple of games, and during the others, spent some time exploring the great shopping.  The weather was gorgeous, and between the games, we had a great time hanging out together.  On the way home, we stopped at Greenville College, where Nathan went to college and played soccer his freshman and sophomore years.  We walked around the campus and it was fun to see the place he lived for two years.  Of course, I forgot our camera, so no pictures to share!


I was in Barnes and Noble yesterday getting a birthday present, and came out with this handy note pad.  It's about the size of an index card.  The pen holds the metal case closed, and when you open it, there's a pad of paper inside.
I've been seeing these "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters around for about a year.  It would be a good mantra for me to start reciting (i.e.- I am not very calm!).  Originally, the poster was designed by the British government during the beginning of World War II when the citizens were worried about England being invaded.  It was rediscovered in 2000 and it's now what I see every time I look at my to-do list.

This is a great thing for me because I have an hour commute each way for work.  When I'm in the car, I think of all these things I need to do, but by the time I get home, I've forgotten all of them, and have no idea where to start.  I filled up the first page during my drive home yesterday, so I have a feeling this is going to work.  You're probably wondering, like Nathan, why I don't make a list like this on my phone or iTouch.  Well, it takes so long for me to open the application for notes and type the words out (I have clumsy fingers and have to use the backspace key a lot!).  And when I'm driving, it seems really distracting.  When I am writing by hand, I don't have to take my eyes off the road to jot something down, and this is compact enough that I can do it with one hand.


 I've been looking for salt and pepper shakers for a long time now, but I have expensive taste, and every time I found some I liked, I would turn them over and get sticker shock.  So, when I found these cute shakers at a local festival, I didn't have my heart set on taking them home because of my experience.  But when I found out that the whole set was $7, I rushed to the register.  :-)

I got this runner and centerpiece last fall, thinking that it would be my fall decoration, but it matches so well with the paint in our kitchen and the cushions on the chairs, that I've kept it up year-round.  It "helps" a laminate-top table that isn't really my style, but it was free AND sturdy, so I'm not complaining.


Did you really want to see my feet?  Probably not.  Just concentrate on the painted flowers and it won't be so bad.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Team-Marriage Needs Cheerleaders!

 Last week, both sets of my grandparents celebrated anniversaries.  53 years for one, and 60 years for the other.  Nathan's grandparents have been married for 50 and 48 years each.  Nathan and I read an article a couple days ago about an Iowa couple who passed away within an hour of each other after being married for 78 years.  They were holding hands as they died after a car accident, and after the first spouse died, they noticed that a heart beat was still coming through on the monitor.  It was the other spouse's heart beat being detected because they were holding hands.  It made me think about what helps marriages to stand the test of time.  There are the big, obvious ones: trusting God together, selflessness, shared goals.  But I also started thinking about something that I might have missed when we were planning our wedding.  
The people around you- family and close friends- can have the power to influence your marriage for good!  Many of the people witnessing our wedding have come along and been such an encouragement to our new marriage.
When I spend time with someone who is complaining or down in the dumps, it's easy to start feeling that way too.  And if I am constantly spending time with optimistic people, it's easier to take that outlook on life.  I think the same principles for forming good friendships applies to forming good friendships of our marriage.  It's so inspiring to be around a wife who is constantly building up and affirming her husband.  I want to surround myself with people like that, who are so excited for us, just like we did on our wedding day.
 Can you tell Isaac was excited for us?  This little brother is a great reminder to me to be a cheerleader for other people's new marriages too.
 I'm so thankful for all the people God has placed in our life that our cheering us on in our relationship with God and with each other.
(This picture also reminds me that I wouldn't have walked down that isle looking like I am now, and it would be nice if I wasn't wearing my PJs when Nathan gets home from working this Saturday morning!)
And then there's our lucky are we to not only have four grandparents with inspiring marriages, but parents on each side of us with great marriages- 31 years for my parents and 29 years for Nathan's- wow.  We've had a front seat view to these marriages and we know things don't always go perfectly, and we've observed them go through stressful seasons.  But we've also known the security of parents who undoubtably are going to stay together forever, and that's one of the best things in the world.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hindemith Cello Sonata

I got my recital video back recently and uploaded one of the pieces to YouTube yesterday.  The piece I'm posting is Hindemith's Cello Sonata.  The style of playing is probably different from what you might expect from cello playing- most people think, beautiful, melodic lines when they think of cello.  This isn't quite that.  Hindemith, the composer, lived in Germany and composed this work in the 1920's.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Miller Brothers Eggs

A few weeks ago, I used Wix to create a website for my brother's chicken egg business.  He is a college student majoring in agriculture and in addition to helping my dad on our family farm, he has started selling free-range eggs.  That's what Nathan and I buy now and we can tell such a difference in the taste!  Plus, I have peace of mind knowing that we're eating healthy, local food that is free of preservatives, antibiotics and hormones.  He's selling to individuals, a health food store and a local restaurant right now.  
Go to and take a look around.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall Fun

Isaac and Eva came over to play one Friday.  The weather was beautiful and they quickly raked a big pile of leaves.  Well, Isaac raked and Eva used the broom to sweep leaves...we only have one rake!

Apparently they had more in mind then just playing in the leaves when they made their pile near the stairs on the back of our house.

That is a big pile of leaves, but doesn't look big enough for me to think it would be fun to jump into it from 8 feet above!

I'm standing on my personal soapbox here, but it makes me really happy to see kids playing outside, delighting in simple things that just won't be as fun when they're all grown up.  It seems so much better than hours of TV, video/computer games and internet surfing.

We went for a big walk around our neighborhood and I let them try out our tandem bike.  It was scary to watch- neither of them could really reach the pedals!

That same weekend, my sister Therese had a cook out at our cabin.  Max, Isaac and Nathan were playing football that night.
Eva getting a bird's eye view from the round bale!

I hadn't been out to the cabin for a while, and I forgot how nice it is back there.  The whole back of the cabin is windows looking down a ravine onto the river.  Quite a few people came to the cook out, and it was nice to catch up with some girls I hadn't seen in a while.  Of course, I managed to get pictures mostly just of my two little siblings!
Nathan and Eva cooking!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

When the Week Turned Sour...And It Was Only Tuesday.

I had a great early morning on Tuesday.  I didn't have to leave for work until 10:30.  I got up early, and was flying through my day's to-do list.  I just love checking things off my list, and I was drawing a lot of check marks that morning.

At 8 am, I ran out for some errands.  I started at my bank, then headed just a few blocks away to pay our rent at a different bank.  Pulling out of the drive-through, I waited, and waited, and waited to pull out onto the four lane highway.  I guess not all people get to leave for work at 10:30.  Finally, all four lanes were clear.  I pulled out, and while crossing the two west-bound lanes, I looked towards the east-bound lanes to double check before easing into them.  It was an ideal fall morning- crisp, sunny and barely breezy.

Suddenly, an east-bound truck catches my eye.  Just feet away from me, he is headed straight for my driver-side door.  In a panic, I slam on my brakes and he swerves in front of me.  We've avoided a major accident  but I know my perfect morning is going to go a little different from here on out.  The small impact causes the dreaded sound of metal-scraping-metal.

With other cars driving around our little mess, we agree to move our vehicles into a nearby parking lot and I call the police to come for an accident report.  I was shaken up that, although I was not in a hurry, and spent a lot of time waiting for the traffic to clear, I didn't see that truck coming.  The police suggest that the beautiful, sunny morning and the strong glare it brought with it might be to blame.  I got a ticket.

I called Nathan and suggested that he might be bad for me.  I went six and a half years without getting a ticket, and since we've been married, I've had two.  Joking aside, we were so grateful that God protected me from what could have been a serious accident.


Calling 9-1-1 to report the accident reminded me of another time I called 9-1-1.  I was 16 and had been the proud owner of my shiny new car for a whole week.  I dropped my younger sister off at her horse riding lesson and headed out to do an errand of my own.  I was driving along the highway, about an hour away from home, when, in an instant, all of the dials on my dash fell to zero.  I quickly pulled over while the car was still coasting.  Panicked, I knew that I must have bought one of those "lemons" I'd heard about.  Something must be seriously malfunctioning on my week-old car.  I'd heard about those "lemon-laws", so I'd probably get my money back.  But what was I to do now, sitting on the side of the highway with a non-functioning, week-old "lemon"?  Well, this was an emergency, and I knew what to do in emergencies- call 9-1-1!  The operator answered with the typical "state your emergency" line.  I told her that I was driving along the highway, and my car suddenly stopped.  I was having an emergency over here!  Calmly, she asked me when I last put gas in my car.

Gas?  You have to fill up your car with gas??

Of course I knew this, but the whole time I was learning how to drive, I was using my parent's vehicles, and my dad always filled them up with gas.  I never even thought to look at the gas level.  And when I got my own car, I just hopped in and went.  I was mostly concerned with studying the tachometer, because while thoroughly studying my owner's manual, I read that for the first 10,000 miles, you should not exceed a certain marker.

Well, at least I know now.  You have to check  your gas gauge before you drive.  Huh.


It took me three or four years before I could bring myself to tell my parents this story.  They just shook their heads.  I'm sure they thought they'd covered all the bases, only to find out that they should have told their very blonde daughter to fill her car up with gas occasionally.

Nathan's not sure that I've fully grasped this concept yet.  He thinks he's the only one who puts gas in my car.  It's somehow always on "E" when he gets in.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Non-Candle Scents for Your Home

I love having a good smelling home.  Most of the time, I like it to smell fresh and clean.  I've been using fresh laundry-scented plug-in warmers for the past few months.  But between the fall weather that makes me want cinnamon, pumpkin and vanilla over the clean scents, and the tidbits I keep hearing about all this synthetic scented stuff being unhealthy, I decided to try something new.

I was getting groceries today and picked up cinnamon sticks and whole cloves while I was there.  I spent less money on them then I would spend on a small candle, and from my experience today, it should last a long time.

I put three cinnamon sticks in, a good sprinkling of cloves, a few drops of vanilla extract and a thinly sliced orange.  Then, I filled the pot with water and put it on the stove to boil.

I went upstairs and came down just about choking on the cinnamon smell 15 minutes later.  At least I learned that I don't need three cinnamon sticks next time!  It did smell good, but I definitely had to open the windows- very strong.  The house we are renting right now is very big and now, six hours later, the whole house smells like cinnamon in a strength that is just right.

I turned this back on a few minutes ago on a lower heat (I had it on high before) and I think that's a trick I'll keep in mind.  On this lower heat, the mixture just gently bubbled and was less pungent than the full boil I had going before.

Overall, I'm happy with this new little non-candle venture.  I saw some ideas online of different things to add and I'm looking forward to trying some of these in various combinations:

-apple peels
-orange peels (I like the idea of this one so I don't waste the orange like I did today)
-apple juice
-lemon peel
-dried lavender (the website I looked at recommended using one cup for a boil)
-whole or ground nutmeg

On a different note, I love having a few decorations to celebrate the new seasons.  In the kitchen, I have pumpkins at the sink window...

...a cute little sign my Mom and Isaac gave me, and more little pumpkins in the glass jar I got last year for less than $10.00 at Walmart.  Last year it sat on my piano holding candy for students.  Its use this year is a little cuter.  :-)