Summer-eee (and a recipe-eee)

Here are a few random summery photos for you, along with my favorite go-to easy summer dinner recipe.

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Ice cream swim break!

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Summer fruit… mmmmm….

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One days pick!  We have tomato insanity over here.

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And, my favorite easy summer go-to recipe: Grilled, marinated flank steak.  You just sprinkle garlic salt all over.  Then dump some salsa, olive oil, and lime juice in a bag and stick the meat in.  Let it marinate at least an hour.  Grill about 6 minutes each side, and ta-da!  The kids used the meat for soft tacos.  I made a steak salad.  It would be great plain with potatoes on the side, too.  Endless possibilities!  Enjoy!


1.  These girls are almost to the age where they won’t be playing dress-up anymore.  (sniff, sniff).  That will be a sad day!

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2.  This boy is almost ready to do laundry himself.

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3.  These peppers are almost ready to be picked.  (Feels like they took forever to turn red!)

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4.  We almost have enough green beans to use as a dinner side dish.  Almost.

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5.  The apricots are almost ripe.  (I’m super excited about it, too — my favorite fresh summer fruit!)

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6.  This chicken almost got away with sleeping in the tomatoes.  Funny Audrey.  She still roosts here every night, but now I catch her and bring her into the coop.  Animals are not safe in our backyard at night!

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7.  I’ve almost got the kids 2013-2014 schoolwork organized and put away.  Phew!

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8.  My husband is almost finished with our awesome new backyard table.  I love doing projects with him!  Can’t wait to show you the finished project.  (Can’t wait to see it, myself!)

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As of today, we have 3 new smiles around here…

1.  This sweet girl lost her 15th tooth last night.  (Yikes!)

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2.  This poor girl ran into a pole while playing tag and cracked her front tooth and damaged the root.  We are hoping and praying it heals itself.  For now, she has a special mouthwash 3 times a day, and a semi-permanent retainer that resembles braces.  She was a trooper and did great!

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3.  And, this little sweetie had her first dentist appointment today and also did great.  Just look at those pearly whites!

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Summer.  Now it’s official.  And here is something I never thought I would say… I think it is my favorite season!  Once we get past Allison’s birthday and Father’s Day and the calendar actually reads summer, I feel such calm and peace.  There is no running from one activity to another.  No birthdays to plan.  No more school planning… at least not for a while.  No schedule.  Summer Bible study and church are the only ways I know what day of the week it is.  (side note:  Priscilla Shirer’s Gideon study is incredible!)  Daily swims.  Daily Bible study.  An abundance of eggs and tomatoes.  Fresh fruit.  Iced coffee.  Barbecues.  Lots of friend time.  VBS.  Camping.  Time for organizing and projects.  Need I add more?  Summer is what I need!  (Right now, that is… when fall comes, that will be my favorite season!)  But for now… I’m in love with summer!


Oh!  One more activity I forgot to add; baseball!  Actually, we aren’t really a baseball family.  But, some sweet friends invited us to play softball on Father’s day, and it was so much fun!  Check out Malachi at bat:

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Happy First Day of Summer!

Father’s Day 2014

Technically, this should be titled, “Father’s Day Celebration 1” because it was our Saturday celebration of Father’s Day.  We chose to celebrate Saturday because we thought that Daniel would be working on Father’s Day.  Turns out, he is going to be home Father’s Day after all, so we will have a Father’s Day Celebration 2!

Saturday began with a quick morning card opening, and then it was off to run errands.  All.  day.  long.  (Hence, the reason Daniel took Father’s Day off).

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Our day ended with a fun family dinner.  Daniel’s favorite: Cheese fondue, along with shish kabobs and root beer floats.

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I am so glad there is a day to honor fathers.  Sometimes I forget just how blessed I am to have a husband who is such a wonderful dad to our kids.  Thank you for being such an incredible husband and dad to our family, Daniel.  You are the best!

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Sometimes a small getaway is just what the doctor ordered.  In this case, it was a great way to kick-off the summer!  Daniel bought the Groupon for our “Swiss Chalet” a few months back, and we decided the weekend of Allison’s birthday would be the perfect time to go.  (Note to self: Don’t plan a trip the day after a birthday party unless your husband is home the week before to help you think and pack.)  Despite the busy-ness and exhaustion before getting there, I am always at peace surrounded by God’s incredible creation and the ones I love.

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We played lots of games… Clue, cards, Wis and Wagers, and ping pong!

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The girls enjoyed an outdoor makeover… nails and make-up!

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We kept meals simple, marinating and preparing almost everything at home before going up the mountain.  Nice!

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Buddy picked a wild orchid on our little nature walk.

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Day2: Chilly morning, though not as cold as I expected.  One of my favorite parts of being in the mountains is cool air.

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Daniel brought along his birthday present: a hammock.

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We went on a lovely little hike; (more of a casual stroll along a short path).

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Sweetest. family. ever.  Some of my favorite people on the planet.

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More games… and Allison’s new Nancy Drew movie from her birthday.

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An evening by the lake…

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All this just 40 minutes from home… blessed!

Painted Frames from the Craft Closet

I feel very blessed to have a closet in our home dedicated entirely to craft supplies.  (I would show it to you, but it is in desperate need of a summer clean out!)  Anyway, if I dig deep, I can usually find something “special” for the kids to work on.  The other day I found my Ikea 3-pack of wooden frames.  I gave the girls some paint, and expected it to be a quick project.  Why am I always wrong about these things?  Wrong in a good way… this project lasted a long time!  I think it was one of the most impressive paint jobs from all 3 girls.

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The frames sat in that closet for years, but I am pretty sure they still have them at Ikea… and for a good price!  Next time I go I think I will pick-up some more.   We’ll see how long those last in the closet this time!

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 And, here they are:

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Mystery Book Birthday

Because birthdays are so special with kids, we make every effort to have a party each year for each kid.  I know some families who do it every other year, and some that keep it simple all the time.   I can understand that… but I love finding out what theme our kids want and then having a party to celebrate!  This year, my oldest chose her favorite pastime as her theme: mystery books.  So, we put together a mystery book theme, based mostly on Nancy Drew.  (On a side note, this was the 20th party we’ve thrown for our kids’ birthday… whew!)

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We used Nancy Drew’s signature teal and yellow for the color scheme, and added as many vintage finds as we could.  My favorite piece was a gorgeous typewriter loaned to us by this sweet friend.

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Goody bags consisted of flashlights, magnifying glasses, sunglasses, stickers, and candy.

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Activity # 1:  Fingerprint art.

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Activity #2: “Questions to ask witnesses.”  (not pictured)  Kids were given a list of questions to ask each other as if they were investigating.  I thought it would be a good way to break the ice and get them talking!

Activity #3:  Charades using titles of Nancy Drew books.

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Activity #4: “Who stole the cupcakes?”  (not pictured)  This was my “big” game of the party.  The kids were divided into teams and given a checklist.  They had to go into different rooms and ask each of the witnesses questions to find out who dun nit.  (Specifically, who stole the cupcakes, with what did they steal them, and which rom did they hide them in.)  It was all beaded n the classic game of Clue, and was by far the hit of the party!  The winners each got a decoding kit from the Dollar Tree.

Activity #5:  Mystery menu

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Each kid had a menu with made-up names for specific items, and after all the kids were served they had to try to decode and figure out what each item was.  More fun!  The menu consisted of all of Allison’s favorites: homemade spaghetti and meatballs, caesar salad, garlic bread, peaches, homemade lemonade, and sweet tea.  Included on the silly item names were things like forks , napkins, and straws.

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Present opening:

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As you can see, Allison is holding a cupcake (above).  I can’t believe I didn’t take a single picture of the cupcakes, but they were magnifying glasses made out of miniature Oreos, black icing, and tootsie roll handles.  They turned out really cute. We had such a great time.  Happy 9th birthday, my sweet girl!

Birthday Breakfast

Breakfast… my favorite meal of the day!  We have quite a few breakfast recipes we rotate, but just a few saved for special occasions.  The last few birthdays, I’ve done cinnamon rolls as a treat.  This year for Allison’s birthday, I decided to try something new – a Norwegian “birthday wreath.”  (What could be more appropriate, right?)

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The recipe comes from my new Norwegian cookbook my aunt Carol gave us for Christmas.  I’ve been excited to dive into it, and thought this would be a fun way to start.  And, it was…

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…Except that mine didn’t exactly look like the picture.  In many ways it was delicious, but it could have been so much better.  I can’t wait to try it again.  I am glad I at least have a little experience under my belt for making a flaky butter pasty now.

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After breakfast, Allison opened the rest of her gifts from Mom and Dad.  (Her under-the-bed present was the Nancy Drew movie.)  The big hit was color-your-own socks craft.   Sisters got in on the action by coloring their own t-shirts.  It made for a fun and busy birthday morning!

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That afternoon it was mystery party time; pictures to come!

Summer Sampling

Summer has only just begun for us.  Technically, the calendar still says “spring,” but I am in full summer mode and loving it!

This past week was quite busy, and my husband unexpectedly had to be gone longer than I had hoped.  Nevertheless, it was not a surprise to God. That fact alone gave me a lot of peace and comfort.  Add to that the lack of stress for not having to plan school… and honestly, it wasn’t so bad!  Another challenging week is ahead of us with lots to do, but I am ready!  In the meantime, here are some samplings of our summer fun:

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We said goodbye to our baby birds for the 4th year in a row.  It is always so fun to see them fly for the first time!

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This sweetheart can swing and sing for hours by herself.  I NEED to record it for her wedding!

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Origami was a favorite of mine as a kid.  In fact, I still have a huge box of all my origami from when I was a girl.  The big girls have been on a little origami kick, and it has been super fun for me — even if I have forgotten a lot.

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This paper bead project was inspired from this post.  I thought it would be a huge hit — but it was a bust.  I am not giving up, though — I think it was only a bust because it was just my oldest and me and she was wanting to read her new books.  I’ll let you know how take 2 goes!

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 Hanging out with friends we rarely see during the school year is a highlight of summer for us.  I just love this picture — so summery!

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 I think I started this post over a week ago.  I accidentally deleted it, and haven’t had the time to re-do it… until now!  LOTS more summer fun to come!