Dear Reader (day 15): A continuation of the letter to the mother I used to be (part 2)

Dear Reader

In continuation from the other day:

Dear fresh, young me,

I’m telling you now – 15 years later – appreciate it fully. Notice the peace of life as a newlywed couple with only one Little Nugget running around. Breathe in deeply the simplicity of one schedule, ONE SCHEDULE, by which you abide. Savor those long naps with your babe and the 7pm bedtimes that leave your nights free to be a grown up couple, because you’ll have more kids and you’ll have roughly 26 more years to go of raising people, and there will be times you’ll have to work to remember this same brand of joy.

You’ll get buried under laundry, you’ll do endless loads of dishes, you’ll do grades kindergarten through fourth four more times besides your own, until you release these kids to do the whole school thing alone. You’ll hope you can stop repeating elementary around 4th grade, but be careful how much you let go, because letting go too much is not good either. Of course, there is a book about exactly how to do this in exactly the right way and you will never make a mistake ever.

That’s a lie. You won’t know exactly how to do any of it. There is no book with step-by-step instructions, and the best you can do is your best. Try your darndest and don’t ever quit. Throwing in the towel is the only 100% wrong thing you can do here.

There will be times when it all feels so pointless. You’ll feel like your entire existence is picking up other people’s’ socks and dishes and broken things. You’ll feel sometimes like your life doesn’t even belong to you. And you’ll get upset about it.

You’ll have to do some work when this funk starts to pull you under. You’ll have to look at what is sucking you down and do your best to alleviate it. You might have to ask for help, or you might need to take an overnight trip with your husband, or you might need to study or create or build something new that goes hand in hand with your big picture, because you need to know you’re growing too. You need to feel yourself BECOMING as a mother and as an individual.

You’ll need friends. Good, solid friends who stick with you through thick and thin. Don’t ever shirk this piece of advice. You need them, and they’ll need you, and together you hold each other up. There is nothing like the soul deep friendship of a best friend to pull you out from under the garbage heap and pep-talk you back into loving the life you lead.

Eventually, you’ll realize your life does belong to you and it matters immensely. Even though you don’t always see it, your work is the most important (listen to your husband here. He tells you this but you don’t always take it to heart. He is right, Dear. Let it sink in.)

It is. IT IS.

I can’t say this to you enough. Your work matters. And one day, you’ll see this and you’ll actually feel it deep down in the very purest part of you. You’ll know it’s true.

Every time you look into those little people eyes, every time you hug, every time you sit and harass about homework, every meal you prepare, every time you put down your thing to pick up theirs, you are showing them they are loved. They are valuable, they matter. You are forming people who understand love and respect. You are growing, cultivating, training good and loving people to send out into the world.


To be continued (again). . . .

Dear Reader (day 5) – It was that kind of morning.

Dear Reader

Dear Reader –

We had a “trenches” kind of morning earlier this week.

This is where it gets tricky for me, because I want to tell you all the details of the ridiculous drama that took place  in our house as we prepared for school, because here, truly, you’d be able to nod your head (especially mammas of little people) and say, “Oh heck yes, I know (or remember) those days.”

But out of respect for all the people under my roof who never chose to have a blog, some things must remain rather vague.

Let’s just say, there were over-tired people (hello. . . ME TOO) and there was an overabundance of stooooopid, yet normal and age appropriate, FREAKING OUT happening at too high a decibel. (I don’t know how much freaking out is apropos at my age, but I’m sure I hit the nail on the head as well. . . . )

And I lost my cool.  I lost my noodle. I lost my *!@%.

I might have, in a very loud and not very nice voice, threatened to carry someone into school, crying or not, and still wearing pajamas, plop them in front of the teacher, and walk away.

I’m not proud of this, but I don’t feel particularly remorseful either. The offender was wrong, and I was right. (Of course.)

But this is the reality of having kids. I don’t like when we have mornings like this, and I usually walk away from them feeling a little heart-sick. Sometimes it’s just how it goes though.

Thankfully these types of shenanigans don’t happen every day. If  they did, you might find me in a straight jacket instead of comfy old sweat pants every morning.

We laughed our keisters off when our brother and sister-in-law shared this video with us.

Whether you have kids or not, (They don’t, and – obvs – we do) it’s for sure worth the 7 or so minutes. (It’s very clean, as far as modern comic acts go.  There are a couple itty bitty bad words in there; the s-word, and on more mild one I think – but no F-bombs. Use your own judgement if kids are within earshot.)

It’s appropriately called, “What People With No Kids Don’t Know”.

“Ah yes. People who don’t have kids. There is so much you never even knew you didn’t know,” I thought that morning as I dropped my little nuggets off at school – no one crying, red eyes gone, giggling, climbing rocks, small-talking about the scary animal dreams they have on occasion. . . . No one would ever have guessed the chaos that blew through our house 20 minutes before.

These are the times where I’m so thankful for Grace – from up above and from all these people I get to call my own.

A Turkey Day Doodle

Thanksgiving doodle 2014

For you, Lovelies. A Thanksgiving day doodle for the kids to color while the bird roasts and you sweat your booty off in the kitchen. . . .

Oh, wait, I mean. . . for you to color with your kids while you all enjoy Hallmark quality family time around a cozy fireplace with hot chocolates in hand.

Or, you could print ’em up, roll ’em up, tie ’em with a ribbon, and tuck them in with each place setting. Then you all can talk about what you’re thankful for. Examples included in the doodle:

  • Mr. Worm, “I’m thankful for hot dogs!!”
  • Mr. Turkey, “I’m thankful for steaks!”
  • Mr. Giraffe, “I’m thankful for polka dots!”

I’m thankful for cool Southern winter days, warm little fingers that still hold mine, squeezy husband hugs, shiny new friendships and those that are weathered and worn, fresh journeys, and answered prayers. And you! I’m thankful for you crazy peeps who keep coming around these parts for better or for worse. ♥♥♥

What are you thankful for??

Easy Little Zombie Ghost Craft

spooky zombie ghosts

Don’t be freaked out, now.

It’s only a little zombie ghost.

These have names, actually. Alvin is on the far left, Simon is that bean pole in the middle, and that thick boned little guy on the right is Theodore.

As a girl who’s got luke-warm emotions about Halloween in general, I must admit I’m somewhat of a sucker for cutesy pumpkins and pillowcase ghosts. AndLetsNotForgetTheCandy.

Remember how I said I love my kids’ teachers?

Alvin was the creation of my little guy under the direction of his second grade teacher, and he’s one of my most favorite ever decorations for the end of October.

When we made Simon and Theodore, it took us roughly 10.2 seconds once the jars were clean. And the project drained my pocket-book of around $13.50 ($6 for the tealights, $3.50 for the bandage (at Wal-Mart), and $3.00 for the googley eyes) and we have enough supplies left over to make at least 4 more chipmunks zombie ghosts (I’m just guessing a number here, because we still have leftover tealights, wrap, and oodles of googley eyes).

All it takes is this:

spooky zombie ghost suppliesI can neither confirm nor deny the effectiveness of the sports tape. We haven’t used it yet. I can confirm however, the effectiveness of pudgy little pre-school fingers organizing the supplies. They’re excellent for the job. Also excellent? Self adhering sports wrap. Life. Saver. Don’t skimp.

And the Wiggle Eyes . . . fun, yes. But not absolutely necessary. I say a good ‘ol pair of black construction paper lookin’ balls would do just swell here. Use a single hole punch to let the pupils’ glow come through.

So here’s the deal:

1. Clean your jar. We’ve got one spaghetti sauce jar, one olive jar, and one salsa jar.

Soak them in water for a few hours to wet the labels, then scrape them off. Wash ’em one last time to remove any residual goo. Let them dry completely.

2. This is going to be a tricky 4 seconds. Starting at the bottom edge of the side of the jar, start winding the self adhesive wrap around the jar and work your way to the top, layering the wrap slightly as you go. When you reach the top, snip it and stick it. Phew. Thank goodness that’s done.

3. Glue on your oculus of choice.

4. Insert tiny little battery operated tealight.

5. Watch your adorable little Zombie Chipmunks flicker in the night.

If they were real zombies? They might look creepier – like this:

spooky zombie ghosts

I just thought of something – these guys could star in “The Not Walking Dead”.

Get it? Because they don’t have legs. So they can’t walk. Plus, they’re not alive. Which, I guess technically, neither are zombies. But whatever. I’m confusing myself.

The kids nixed the creepy version though. They like these guys friendly and cute. Bonus if you spy them hanging out in broad daylight:

spooky zombie ghosts

Teacher Love, Plus A Vase (totally recycled and recyclable)

Daisy in recyclable vaseDear Teachers,
I have so many things to tell you, but let’s start first with the confessions:

First on the list is this: I’m sorry, but I have officially checked out for the school year. There are only 26 days left. Maybe only 24 if you don’t count tomorrow or the actual last day. I think you are awesome, and there’s no way I could do what you do, so I fully, totally, completely appreciate your career choice and the fact that somehow, day-to-day, you keep it together and keep showing up for work and, by the grace of God, end up teaching our children how to read and write and add stuff together. Continue reading

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins with Brown Butter Glaze

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins with Brown Butter Glaze

Let me tell you a few things:

1. I’m sitting here in my black (velour? maybe fake velvet. . . ) sweat pants circa 2001 aka, pregnancy numero tres. What can I say? I have a hard time letting go of faves.

2. Oreos now makes MEGA STUF cookies. What?! Continue reading

Homemade Ketchup: Regular or Buffalo?

Homemade Ketchup - regular or buffalo? No added sugars, Paleo and Whole30 compliant

I didn’t intend to post this all by itself.

It’s actually part of a recipe combo that includes those other savouries up there too: slow cooker pulled pork and red cabbage tacos with quick-pickled cucumbers and peppers.

They all go together, but they can be separated too. And probably, on occasion, should be.

Kind of like siblings.

Poor little Buffalo Ketchup was feeling a little lost and alone amidst those other delicious edibles.

(Speaking of siblings. . . Buffalo Ketchup. Possible fifth child name??)

He needed a spotlight on his little ol’ self.

So, there he is, in a poorly composed photo because I just didn’t think it through ahead of time.

Aaaaaaaaaand, I’m lazy.

There’s no way I’m shooting it again.

So Kiddo, here you go:

Happy Buffalo Ketchup

See how we did that?

We just made his day.

You can decide what road you want to travel down with this ketchup.

You can stop pre-buffalo and you’ll have a nice, traditional, homemade ketchup.

BUT, if you’re feeling fiery, or you’re craving a change, or you think it’s time for you to switch up your ketchup game (because I know you have one), then by all means – go the buffalo route and don’t turn back.

Either way you do it, we’ve pulled it together with no added sugars. We use those trusty dates for sweetness instead.

Me and B.K. will be back again later to tell you all about the tacos and pork.

For now? You may just want to start carving out a little fridge space fo your happy ketchup’s home.

He told me he prefers front row door space.

Apparently, it’s the prime vantage point from which to gape at you through those sweet aviators.

Oh, and TOTALLY off-topic, but I was just sitting here with my gal plugging words into Google Translate, and, because I am super mature and totally grown up, we put in words like “poop” and “smelly cat”.

She and her littlest big bro however, have a language all their own – in which, “Wackadoodle everherd” is a real-deal phrase.

Just for kicks, plug it into Google Translate and listen to the robot voice struggle to say that one in Spanish.

I dare you not to at least giggle.

Homemade Ketchup: Regular or Buffalo?

Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

If you don't have dates on hand or would just rather use sugar for this recipe, I'd suggest swapping out the dates for 1/4 cup light brown sugar. Then just continue on with the rest of the recipe as-is. This "sauce" arrose when we were eating Paleo on the Whole30 program, and I was craving a sauce. Who knew I would continue craving it to top everything from shredded pork tacos to spicy chicken sausages and hamburgers!


  • 1/4 cup chopped Medjool dates (about 3 dates)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 26 ounce carton Pomi diced tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Gluten Free balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • pinch of ground allspice
  • scant pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce (Optional)


In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the two tablespoons of water and the chopped dates. Allow them to simmer until dates appear softer and water is almost gone. Remove from heat and transfer dates to the bowl of a blender or food processor. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, heat oil and cook onions until they are translucent. Remove from heat and add them to the dates in the blender or food processor bowl.

Add Pomi tomatoes and tomato paste to onions and dates and puree until smooth.

Add puree back to the sauce pan. Add in vinegars and spices. Stir till well combined. Add in bay leaf. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours. Remove from heat. Remove Bay leaf.

This is where you stop if you don't want the Buffalo version.

If you're into the Buffalo flavor, now is the time to add the 1/2 cup of Frank's Red Hot sauce and stir until thoroughly combined.

Either way, allow sauce to cool completely.

If you'd like to put in some extra effort, you can strain the ketchup by pouring it into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and gently pushing it through the strainer with a spatula. I found this step to feel somewhat wasteful, but if you are a texture person, or just want to work harder, go ahead and give it a shot. (And let me know if you found it beneficial).

Store in the fridge in an airtight container.


Sara | Home is Where The Cookies Are