Monthly Archives: January 2012

10 minutes

On a solo-parent-night last week, I made Ethiopian Lentil Stew and Injera Bread for dinner.  After it took one boy 1.5 hours to finish, I then decided to give haircuts.  Middle one was so irritated at this point, he would not sit still.  As he jerked his head, the scissors caught his ear, and all wails broke loose.  Jude sat wide-eyed, watching the whole thing.  When older one sat down for his turn, Jude tells him “If you complain, mom will clip your ear.”  {Rookie error.  I will now only make grilled cheese when dad’s not home, and no haircuts. What was I thinking?!}  
Ah, we laugh now 🙂
Naturally, our days are wild. unpredictable. loud. fast. full.
{Sometimes I feel like I’m gonna lose my mind!!}  Because of this, we all need a break now and then.  A night out with the girls, a quiet morning with a cup of coffee, a date with my love.  A chance to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again.  
But when we start living for the next break, we can miss the beauty in the now.  I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with those extra 10 minutes post-facebook. How to make the most of these moments. 

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
~ Annie Dillard

To not just enjoy the view from the top, but to grab that snowboard and go!
I may not be as good as my 7 year old, but hey, it’s fun to try 🙂

To say YES! as much as possible.
I mean, when did using ketchup and mustard containers as water bottles ever hurt anyone?  Or, seeing if a paper boat could float?  Just look at this smile…

To break out the good bowls.  To see *this moment* as a special occasion.

To let them know how much you love them.
Life isn’t always so fairytale-looking.  Sometimes you wake up to grumps and your basement floods…like a river-flowing down there, flood.  
And, we may not always respond the way we should.  
But, 10 minutes?  It’s a start…  
To awake. To kiss. Turn up the music loud and dance. Sit down with a cup of tea. Pick up the phone. Tell someone you love them. List your blessings. Memorize a verse. Write a note. Say YES! Pray for whoever comes to mind. Drop everything to hear about their day. Scoop them up on your lap. Laugh. Take a walk.  Risk. To live! To find more pictures like this on my son’s camera.
I think I like how the day sounds through this new song.  
Oh, won’t you sing along?

homemade dishwasher detergent

Homemade dishwasher detergent.  Seemingly, a paradox.  I mean, you have a dishwasher to have to do one less thing, to have more time to do something else.  So, why make dishwasher detergent? Besides the fact that I appreciate a paradox now and then…

It takes 5 minutes, and saves you $31. Plus, some days it’s just easier to make it up rather than run to the store.  I tried this recipe last year on a day we were out, and I didn’t feel like dragging 3 sick kids to the store.  For me, it worked well, if I switched back and forth between homemade and store-bought.  But, there is also the risk of borax I didn’t like.  So, another winter-y, blizzard-y day that this mama didn’t want to trek to the store, I found this and LOVE!

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
1/2 cup Dr. Bronner’s sal suds or pure-castile soap {I use the pure-castile soap, because it’s what we had on hand.}
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 drops essential oil {I use lemongrass, which is antibacterial, insecticidal, antimicrobial, antiseptic.  Would also recommend tea tree – something with disinfecting properties.}
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
Mix in a bottle.  Shake well before each use.  Use 1 Tablespoon per load.  
I also fill the rinse aid compartment with distilled white vinegar.  
I’ve been using this daily for 3 weeks now and haven’t had a problem with it.  It cleans well and doesn’t leave streaks.

Here’s the math!  
{I take no credit for the math, except for pasting it from the original recipe.}
Dr. Bronners Sal Suds: {$12.29 for 32 oz. on Amazon} It is a super-concentrated, natural, all-purpose cleaner that is gentle on the skin. It works well in hard & soft water. You could also use Dr. Bronners Castile Soap in any scent. 

Lemon Juice: {$1 for squeezy lemon thing, anywhere!} Fights soap residue & cuts grease.
Lemongrass essential oil: {$5 at health food store} Natural anti viral & anti bacterial.
White vinegar: {$1 at Walmart} Rinse aid. Leaves your dishes sparkling & gets rid of residue.

How does it compare?
Just looking at the Sal suds, with one bottle, you can make this recipe 8 times. Each time you make the recipe you get about 20-24 loads…So.. 24×8= 192. 192 loads of dirty dishes for about $18 {add all the ingredients prices up}. Sound good? I think so!
Let’s use Cascade Complete as an example of a store bought detergent.
It is about $7 for 26 loads. 26 goes into 192 about 7 times… so.. 7×7= 49.
$49 vs. $18 for 192 loads??

I think the homemade dishwasher detergent wins the price battle.  


I’ll be back with “10 minutes.”
Since giving up facebook, I’m realizing just how many 10 minutes there are in a day.  We’re on a mission to see just how meaningful these moments can be.

The ambitions we have will become the stories we live.
~ Donald Miller

simplify, part 1

About this new resolve to live simply… 
I’m still flushing out what this means for me.  ‘Cuz naturally, 
our life is complicated.  Some of this I have no control over.  Other things {like making our own dishwashing detergent} are a choice.  And when it stands in the way of having a quiet heart, it’s time to run to the store for some Cascade. But for me, the very thought of a trip to the store in this blizzard is enough to make my own.  
Simplifying is subjective, really.  

{Cue Scene 1: The day I quit Facebook.}  

This is a touchy subject, and it may have been better to just delete my account rather than to try to explain myself.  As soon as I hit post on my breaking-up-with-facebook status, there was both relief and fear.  Relief from finally doing it, the freedom of letting go.  Fear of losing the chance to keep in touch with “old” friends.  Fear of the risk of being misunderstood.  I still feel like it is worth the risk to take a step back.
  Not sayin’ facebook is wrong or a waste of time.  Just sayin’ I feel like it was taking away attention and energy and emotion from those around me, from the life before me. 

Teach us to make the most of our time,
so that we may grow in wisdom.
~ psalm 90.12

Happy Weekend-ing!

Yes, that is an orange we lit on fire.  It burned for hours!  Who knew?
Directions here.  

P.S. Homemade Dishwasher Detergent {new and improved!} coming up next!  

cinnabun muffins {grain-free}

Never thought I’d see the day I would be writing a post about making muffins out of almonds.  
I guess, today’s the day.
Muffins.  Out of almonds.
And, a mighty fine muffin it is.

Cinnabun Muffins 
{gluten-free, grain-free, so-good!}
1 cup almond flour
2 T. coconut flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs
1 T. vanilla
In a large bowl, whisk together oil, honey, eggs and vanilla.  Sift together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt in another bowl.  Combine the dry ingredients with the oil mixture.  Spoon into a greased muffin pan until 2/3rds-full.  Top with a mixture of 1 T. cinnamon, 2 T. brown sugar (or sucanat), 1 T. oil.  Sprinkle with walnuts.  Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes.  Makes 9 muffins.
source: inspired by, adapted from elana’s pantry

What makes a good muffin and a cup of coffee in the morning taste even better?  Redirecting my thoughts, fixing my gaze, basking in mercy.  

My Father’s mercies are new every morning.  May this mama’s be new as well.

Wishing you all a feliz dia as well!

before and after

One year ago, we became the elated owners of one. big. ol’. mess…
laced with wondrous possibilities.
Folks, the “before” and “after” day has officially arrived.
Here she is!  
Before: January 12, 2011
After: January 13, 2012

|the back|
|front door|
and, after!

|living room|

in process…


|one of my favorite spots|

in process…


|standing in the kitchen, facing the dining room/living room|

|the kitchen|
in process…



before {we tried to salvage those cool built-in cabinets, but couldn’t because of the mold and the nasty}


|guest room|
in process
{hubby put some elbow grease into these babies}

|the boys’ room|

in process…

|master bedroom|
in process…


|upstairs bathroom|
before {astroturf and all}
in process…


|downstairs bathroom|
{wish we had a good before pic, but just imagine…
it was way worse than the upstairs bathroom…}

We made it!  Oh man, I can’t believe what we just we did.
Some dinners looked like this {daddy scraping paint}:

Saturday mornings looked like this:

But, it’s done.
And we are so very thankful.

Thankful for this season of life the Lord has brought us through.
Thankful for lessons learned along the way.  To not lose the vision of what could become.  To pour our energy, courage, resources, time into repairing something the world had condemned.  To not give up hope.  Oh, how I want my life to be so much more of this!  Not redoing another house, but investing in something that will outlast these four walls.  One great day this will all pass away when the ultimate Before and After returns {Revelation 22.12}.  

Thankful He doesn’t just leave us in our helpless state.  But continues in His work of transforming, renewing, restoring.  May the pictures of this earth never outshine the beauty that is to come!  And, may the award we are seeking be for the honor of the One named Faithful and True, the King of kings, Lord of lords {Revelation 19}.  

Then the King will say to those on the right: 
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, 
inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  
For I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.  
I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  
I was naked, and you gave me clothing.  I was sick, and you cared for me.  
I was in prison, and you visited me.”  Matthew 25.34-36 {NLT}

Thankful for the chance to be involved in His restoration project.  
This house may look nice.  But it is worthless if it is not used as a tool to invest in our true home.

At that time, I will deal with all who oppressed you;
I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered.
I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
~ Zephaniah 3.19-20a {NIV}

breakfast casserole

You may have noticed I like to save a penny here and there.  Some ideas work out great, like turning old sweaters or dress shirts into quilts.  Other ideas I wouldn’t recommend, but they sure make for funny stories to recount.  

…Like, pulling out someone else’s Taco Bell tacos out of the trash and eating them for lunch the next day {I mean, we were paying for grad school as we went, but was a 69 cent taco really too expensive?!}  

…OR, actually thinking a good way to save money on our honeymoon in Paris would be to stay in a convent.  AND, if it wasn’t bad enough that I ever entertained that thought, how about the fact that we seriously went to a convent to meet with some nuns about the possibility of staying for there a few nights?!  {Fortunately, they didn’t allow men overnight there anymore, so after considering a youth hostel, we decided to splurge for a $60 room – I mean, it was our honeymoon, right?}
…When we bought our first home, we were scandalized by the price of mail boxes.  So, Andy set out to build his own.  It was basically a smaller rendition of our house.  As soon as he set it out by the curb, the first snowplow to come along…Well, snowplow: 1, mail box: no longer.  Back to Lowe’s to buy a $50 mailbox.

But really, here’s some not-as-ridiculous ways to save:
— Frozen orange juice.  I stopped buying OJ for awhile, because we go through it so fast.  Our family can drink a half-a-container in one sitting.  So, a friend suggested buying the frozen concentrate because it’s cheaper.  I add the juice of one orange, and we would never know we are drinking anything less.  

— Make a pack of green onions last a month.  This time of year, my green thumb gets that itch.  I tend to what I can indoors: stevia, rosemary, peppermint, thyme, sage all still growing strong.  But, who knew you could grow green onions indoors in 4 simple steps?  
1. Chop the green parts off of the onions {use in a recipe, like below}.

2. Place the white part, roots down in enough water to cover the root.

3. Put near a window.

4. Change the water everyday.
Watch them grow!

{I use organic green onions – not sure if what they spray on conventional ones would stop this from working.  Also, I discard them after awhile.  I’ve heard of people planting the roots then.  I’m just not there yet.}

And now, one of our new faves.

  Breakfast Casserole
{gluten-free, grain-free}
1 T. butter
5 mushrooms, sliced
3 green onions, chopped
1 cup cottage cheese
6 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 T. cornstarch
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
dash of hot pepper sauce (like sriracha)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a square baking dish or pie pan.  Melt butter in a skillet and saute mushrooms and onions until tender (3-4 minutes).  Place cottage cheese, eggs, sour cream, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and hot sauce in a blender.  Pulse until combined.  Pour into the prepared baking dish.  Stir in mushrooms and onions.  Bake about 40 minutes, or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.  
Inspired by and adapted from: The Gluten-Free Bible

It’s a Monday, all! 
A new day, another week, a fresh start, blank page, new mercies.
May we have open eyes.  To look for beauty.  To breathe as many thanks as possible.  To rise up.  And live this day to the fullest.  There will never be another like it.

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year. 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

11 years ago…

A page was turned as we stood on a stage in a room filled with loved ones.  Candles flickering, tulle draping, hearts bursting, cheeks aching from smiling so long and so wide {ok, maybe that was just me…}  Holding the hands of the one I love, looking into his olive eyes, I said:

With confidence that our heavenly Father has guided our lives to this day and will continue…before these witnesses, I, Sara Lynn, take you Andrew Paul, to be my husband.  Whether we’re sick or healthy, poor or prosperous, I promise to give you myself in a life-long union.  To love you unconditionally and continually, to respect and support your leadership (not only from behind, but by your side), to always be a tender comfort to you, to cherish and honor and pray for you faithfully. According to God’s Word and by the enablement of His Spirit, I am committed to be your “esposa” until death parts us or the Lord returns.

Wearing my best – a white, flowing gown facing a tuxedoed, prince charming, I don’t know that any bride can fully grasp her promises at that time.  While the past 11 years have been filled with hearty laughter and sweet romance, they have also had their share of what we used to call “detours” and “parenthesis” of life, until we learned it was simply…life.  I never imagined “in sickness” would include cleft palate, autism, emergency hernia surgerieS, celiac disease, thyroid cancer.  We never would have dreamed we’d live where we do, with as many plans as we had to put miles on our hiking boots.  I didn’t know how many conditions my love had on it or how hard it can be to apologize, or forgive.  

11 years later… The plates we bought off the clearance shelf on the way home from our honeymoon have all chipped.  I have given up on buying new glasses that inevitably break in a few months and now just drink out of mason jars.  Year 10 was a bit comical when all sorts of appliances went out too = the iron, toaster, vacuum, washer, crockpot…  I would be naive to think that a marriage is no less fragile than these dishes.  And, I’d be foolish to assume we could do this alone.  I can’t help but sincerely thank those who stood with us on that day, those who walk with us today…Friends who keep it real…Examples of husbands before us loving their wives enough to work hard for their families, remain faithful, pursue closeness…Wives we watch honoring their husbands by choosing to respect, seeking peace and a gentle answer…Parents who jump at the chance to watch our boys for us to have a night away…My mom’s reminders that Love comes from God…This bond of three, which is not easily broken.  

So, here we are… another year to celebrate, another glass raised, another chance to grasp hands, lock fingers, look into each others’ eyes and once again affirm I still do.    

  {His choice for dinner: Cambodian/Thai at The Lemongrass Cafe.  
My choice for lunch: Indian Buffet at Tamarind Flavor of India.  Both: GF and so delish!}
As wild as the road has been (and probably will be – evidenced below…  🙂
I am so blessed to journey with you.  Happy Anniversary, my love.