Friday, August 29

Home Improvement...

Have a fun Labor Day Weekend! This is the weekend to celebrate our country's work-force...and women and moms certainly lead the way as workers.

So take time for yourself and celebrate all that you do for your family.

It is also a good time to explain to your kids that their job is to become all that they can become. Encourage them as they head off to school again that being a student is their job and they should work in such a way that they can be proud of their accomplishments.

Have a family chat about God giving us the privilege of working. He blessed us with the ability to work when He created man and woman to work in the Garden of Eden. Work is not something to be avoided or resented. As women of our households, we can set a great example of working with enthusiasm and pride.

So celebrate all that you do in and for your family this weekend. It's bound to improve your home!

Thursday, August 28

Satisfying snacks....

As our families transition back to school, or prepare for fall activities and commitments, food comes to my mind. And with the end of summer around the corner, I'm beginning to get an itch for baking....and eating in general!

In just 1-2 weeks my kitchen will be finished and I can starting measuring and mixing to my heart's content. Until then, there are plenty of easy recipes that don't involve any mixing and measuring.

With cooler weather coming, it's beneficial to have some good snacks on hand to feed hungry mouths...whether that's kids, spouses or friends and family members!

Here are a few ideas:
Mix peanuts, almonds, raisins and m&ms for a quick and protein-filled snack.

Use up left over bananas and instead of making banana bread, mix up your favorite recipe and put it in muffin tins instead of a loaf pan. A quick muffin snack on the go.

Make up a few pieces of celery with peanut butter and raisins - kids love this and it is healthy!

Mix together pretzels, white Cheez-its, peanuts and m&ms. A tasty, salty treat for afternoon cravings.

Mix mini Oreos and mini Nutterbutters together for a chocolate peanut butter combination.

Do you have a favorite, easy snack for when you are on the go? Please share!

Wednesday, August 27

More End-of-Summer Fun...

I had a few simple 'traditions' that I started with my kids when they were young. I didn't realize they would become a yearly activity or that they would mean so much to me in the years to come.

I had the kids print their names in a scrapbook on the first day of a new school year. It is amazing and fun to see how every year their signature took on a whole new look. The early years they tried to get it 'just right'. As they got older, they wanted it to look 'real cool'. This simple 'tradition' is now a priceless treasure to me.

I also measured them each year at the start of a new school year. In each of their closets are precious memories notched on the wall. I dated each mark and we 'oohed' and 'aahed' as to how tall each child had grown that year.

The kids kept a one page list of what was important to them each year:
Friends' names
Favorite books they read
Favorite movie they saw
What sports they enjoyed

I had to help them during the younger years, but they came to realize it was a 'right of passage' to get into the next grade! They needed to record the essentials for mom's sake.

It took abit of effort, but doesn't everything that is worth something? Think of ways to capture the memories of your children now that summer is coming to a close. Keep it simple and enjoy it all!

Tuesday, August 26

September celebrations and planning

As you get back in the routine of fall, considering doing a little celebrating and planning to acknowledge this special time of year...

If you have kids (or a spouse in school!), plan a first-day-back-to-school dinner with your family or make a special dessert to celebrate the beginning of another year.

Talk to your spouse and/or kids about everyone's dreams and goals for the next 9-month school year season.

Write a letter to your spouse or your children as this new school year kicks off. Tell them what you most love and appreciate about them and why you are looking forward to this next year.

Take a family picture outside the front of your house. You'll see how your family grows and your home changes from year to year.

Look at your calendar and plan a date night once a week or twice a month for just you and your spouse. Take turns planning the date and don't let other activities replace this valuable time together!

If your kids are too young for school, consider wrapping up a new book or puzzle or game to enjoy together as a family. You can read or play together and make wonderful family memories.

You can start traditions such as these that will continue in your family for years to come. It's never too late to start a family tradition!

Monday, August 25

The Count Down Is On...

Most schools will be starting next week....are you ready? How did you do with your summer 'Fave Five' list? See our postings for the week of May 19th and see if you accomplished what you set out to do this summer.

One idea I proposed in the spring was to leave alot of 'empty spaces' on your summer calendar so you could fit the fun stuff in. I encouraged you to limit your childrens' activities so you could be intentional in their life and just have a relaxed, family summer. I hope you found that tip helpful.

Now school is around the corner. It was about this time of year, when my kids were young, that I began moving their bedtime up so they would be ready when the first day of school was upon us. Long summer nights were fun to enjoy since the kids could sleep in abit, but school days aren't so pleasant when my kids were sleep deprived! It didn't matter what their age was, I found if I set an earlier bed time before the first day of school, everyone benefited from it.

Also, the 'Back to School' sales are on. I always got the kids involved in selecting what they needed and made a big deal of the 'decisions' they were making. It was a good time to talk about value and cost and how to save money by using coupons or buying generic brands. Simple activities but good lessons to pass on to your children.

There are a ton of great ideas for winding down the summer...share your favorites with us!

Friday, August 22

Home Improvement...

Here is a no-brainer for this weekend:

...write a note to someone special in your life.


...write that thank you note you have been putting off

Or along side a child to help him/her discover the joy of sharing their words in a letter

Thursday, August 21

Pass It On

If you are a letter writer, make sure you pass on your passion to your kids.

If you are not a letter writer, perhaps you should consider becoming one so you can pass this passion on to your kids!

The key to teaching kids to love to write a note is to start when they are young. As I wrote Grandma and Grandpa to thank them for the gifts they gave my kids, I made sure my kids were aware of my efforts. I had them pick the card and envelope. I encouraged them to decorate the back side of the envelope or draw a picture of the gift they were thankful for.

I let them lick and apply the stamps (now you can personalize the stamps if you are as organized as Martha Stewart...otherwise, just get a stamp on the envelope!). They could lick the return address label as well.

I always got excited to receive a letter. I pointed out the difference between the bills I received and the personal letters that came every so often! I tried to make a big deal out of receiving a note so my kids would realize what others might feel receiving something from them in the mail.

As my kids got older, I would have them tell me what they wanted to say to Grandma or Aunties or whoever we were thanking. I would write down exactly what they told me to and then have them sign the note however they could.

When they were old enough to write a line or two, I had to resist making any correction of grammer or spelling for fear that I would squelch their enthusiasm for getting their words on paper.

By the time my kids could write a thank you note on their own, I had to impose a rule that they could not use the gift given to them until a note was sent. They knew by then that meant they had to get a card, write it out, find a stamp and address label and then they would give it to me to put the name and address of the recipient on the front of the envelope.

Teaching kids the joy of sending and receiving real live mail is an on-going process, but well- worth the effort. Stick with it and perhaps you will be the recipient of notes you will treasure in years to come.

Wednesday, August 20

Healthy Habits

Everyday it seems I struggle with so much to do. I always have a to-do list a mile long. I think that's just my personality :) I have continually been challenged to come up with a 'system' for my to-dos.

I tend to write notes everywhere but I drive myself crazy. Last year I created an Excel document for my to-do list and I had column for everything I needed/wanted to do. The bar across the top of the page says: Tasks, Projects, Cards, E-mail, Call, Gifts, Errands.

While I am currently not using this system (I am using a to-do notebook right now), it does reflect my priorities.

I am a girl who has a constant list of projects to do, I communicate very well and often via e-mail, and I love giving gifts so I made a column for that.

Writing notes and cards is also a priority. But I often forget. Or the urgent crowds out the important. Or I am out of stamps. Or I think of it in the car and then I forget when I'm at home.

I've discovered if it is a priority in my life I need to create a system to make it work. I love getting handwritten notes and cards. And I love sending them.

I have a binder with all my addresses, stamps and a box with cards and envelopes. I still don't write as often as I should, but I'm better than I was.

It takes effort and energy to build habits. But isn't writing a note filled with words of gratitude, affirmation or encouragement a habit worth building?

Tuesday, August 19

Want to be Classy?

I was a young girl when Jacqueline Kennedy was the First Lady living in the White House. Much was made of her appearance and her fashion statements. She set the trend for women. As the years went by, her influence went deeper. She was applauded for her skill as a single mother, she went to work as an editor and she was given credit for her achievements as well as her beauty.

She had a passion for writing. Not only as an editor, but in her personal life as well. Her love of a hand-written note was her signature of sorts. People who were close to her said she left a box of stationery on her desk when she attended social affairs to remind herself to send a thank you note within 24 hours of the function.

She was a firm believer that a note needed to be hand-written to give the recipient the proper respect that was deserved after hosting a get-together. Her note would express appreciation for the invitation and the event, but she would also use the note as an opportunity to convey how she felt about that person.

Jackie said back then that proper etiquette was becoming less and less important and she felt a hand written letter was one way to insure that proper habits were in place.

If Jacqueline Kennedy, as First Lady, found time to write notes of appreciation and personal correspondence, I am encouraged to keep a box of stationery on my desk as well. I have heard it said that sending a thank you note is a touch of class. I would challenges all of us women to strive for proper etiquette by sending personal notes and thank you cards...not only because it is the classy thing to do, but because it is the right thing to do as well.

Monday, August 18

One of a kind

I love this quote from a small booked titled The Art of the Handwritten Note by Margaret Shepherd:

“If you receive a note, you can enjoy the ritual of opening it with the sure knowledge that although you cannot know exactly what it will say and how it will look, you can already guess at who wrote it and know that it is one of a kind, that it is meant only for you, and that you are worth the effort it took. Inside that envelope is evidence that someone wants to be in touch with you for some very good reason. And that’s one of the greatest human experiences; receiving the gift of another person’s attention.”

Isn't that a beautiful quote? We all desire the gift of another person's attention and what better way to tell someone you deeply care about them than to write a note, card or letter telling them so?

Of course, you can always send an e-mail. It's fast and easy. But there is something about taking the time to personally handwrite a card or note.

Do you have a one-of-a-kind person in your life? A sibling, a parent, a spouse, a friend, a mentor, or a colleague who deserves the time and attention of a handwritten note?

A few meaningful sentences about what the recipient means to you can encourage and bless. Let them know you are praying for them, or thinking of them or just that you cherish their friendship and are thankful for their presence in your life.

I believe you'll be blessed in the process as you ponder the one-of-a-kind relationships in your life....

Friday, August 15

Home Improvement...

The Olympics are the perfect inspiration we need to get us going to improve ourselves and our homes! Make this weekend a time to improve on your over all fitness. Check out yesterday's posting by Stacy on 7 fitness lessons you can work on to improve physically.

I experienced a great break-through in my personal disciplines when I read John Ortberg's book, The Life You've Always Wanted. He was talking about spiritual transformation, but I think it applies to every discipline. He says, "There is an immense difference between training to do something and trying to do something."

I don't think any of the atheletes we have been cheering on this week have tried to do their sport. They are the epitomy of training to become the best they can be. As I have intentionally trained to be spiritually, phyically, mentally, and emotionally fit, I have seen a difference in my life.

Go for the gold in your life, whatever that may look like...start your training today!

Thursday, August 14

Olympic Lessons

As we have been talking about this week, there are so many lessons the Olympics can teach us. Young or old, fit or not, wealthy or poor, as we all watch athletes from around the world come together to compete after years of dedicated training....we can't help but cheer them on while being inspired ourselves!

I found a few articles online about lessons the Olympics can teach us. Rather than duplicating their efforts, I'll let you pick the one you want to read. As you turn on the tube to NBC, pay attention to the lessons you might be learning and discuss them with a friend or family member!

6 Lessons the Olympics Can Teach Baby Boomers

5 Life Lessons the Olympics Can Help Teach Kids

The Olympics: 7 Fitness Lessons We Can Learn

Wednesday, August 13

"Best Scenario"

I love watching these Olympics! I fall into bed too late after watching the final presentations and then I am up early, energized by what I saw the night before. So many lessons to take away from these 'games'. Can you believe these individuals work for years and years for just a few moments of victory or defeat? How can they justify so much time and energy into one activity that will soon fade into history?

It's the lessons that they learn along the way that will be engraved in their minds forever that will make it worth it.

I liked what one announcer said. He said something to the effect that the best scenario for the gymnastic team was for them to botch up a performance early on and then recover and 'set the train back on track'. He meant that if they experienced a flaw in their performance but were able to recover, they would move forward with even greater determination to win.

What a great life lesson that is. I don't receive gold medals for my efforts, but perhaps I should act as if I do. When I waver on my 'balance beam' or step out of bounds in my speech...I should quickly see that my 'best scenario' is to recover and put my 'train back on track'... to do better and be successful in what I ultimately want to achieve.

Yesterday I wavered in my attempt to make a tough decision for work. Today, I will put that 'train back on track' and follow through with a decision.

Yesterday I failed to make a phone call that would have brought encouragement into a friend's life who is recovering from surgery. Today, I will put that 'train back on track'.

Yesterday I didn't I already have put that 'train back on track'.

Once again I realize I don't have to be an Olympian to practice some of their basic principles. When I fail to do my best, the best scenario is to recover and put my 'train back on track.'

Tuesday, August 12


Right now the US women's team is competing for the finals in gymnastics. There are four young ladies and they are judged in four areas: floor, vault, uneven bars and beam.

There have been some amazing moves. A few mistakes. What intrigues me the most is the way after each gal finishes her part, she hugs each team member. They truly are a team. If one messes up, the team suffers. If one scores extra high points, the team benefits.

From day one of our marriage, my husband has reminded me that we are a team! We make decisions together. We plan together. We work together. We balance out each other's strengths and weaknesses. If one of us makes a mistake with finances, we both deal with the consequences.

When we said our vows it was for good, bad and everything in-between. There is no 'this is mine' and 'that is yours.' I need to think like a team member. I can't choose what is best for me. I need to choose what is best for us.

Living as a team is a work in progress. And there is a lot of work involved. And as we've seen from the Olympics, it takes daily perseverance, commitment and practice.

Some days are golden. Other days are far from bronze. But what a privilege to be part of a team!

Monday, August 11


Have you watched any of the Olympics 2008 yet?! Wow, they are so inspiring! Last night the men's 400 relay in swimming upset the French team and the joy was palpable. Rarely do men show such excitment and unrestrained happiness.

Can you remember the last time you suceeded in a task and every fiber of your body trembled with enthusiasm?

I wish everyday activities would cause my adrenalin to flow and push me towards completion. Too often I have to talk myself into doing part of the task, hoping I will complete the rest by default.

I have been working on self-discipline again this summer (haven't I worked on that all my life?!) I guess it needs to be a way of life. Galations 6:9 says "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

I wonder if the swim team recited this verse as they practiced and trained during the past 4 years? I recite this verse often. I substitute the personal pronouns (me and I) so it makes it a verse just for me.

I know Delayed Gratification is a major player in self-discipline. I began intentionally putting that exercise into place along time ago. For example, today I need to make a few business calls I am not looking forward to. I also want to work in my garden tonight. If I delay doing the things I want to do (gardening) and complete the things I don't want to do (hard business interaction) first, I delay my gratification and get the things done that I don't want to do first because I can look forward to doing what I want to do later.

It's a far cry from winning an Olympic Gold medal, I know. But it works for me. Monday is a good day to repeat, "Let me not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time I will reap a harvest if I do not give up."

Do what you need to do today and then treat yourself tonight and watch the Olympics!

Friday, August 8

Home Improvement

Since we've been talking this week about how to spend the last month of the summer, lets each take some time to think through and be intentional about our plans.

Do you need to schedule some rest and relaxation? Then set aside some time to do so.

Do you need a date night or two with your spouse? Put it on the calendar (and call up a babysitter now if need be!).

Do you need to spend some time with family or a friend you haven't seen? Call or e-mail them today to schedule a coffee or dinner.

If you haven't taken any vacation, get a couple days on the calendar before summer is over! Before you know it the craziness of fall will be here and lazy summer days will be long gone.

Wise women need to plan so that the 'good and better' doesn't take over the 'best' and the urgent doesn't crowd out the important.

Wednesday, August 6

Guilty pleasures

Wow, that headline sounds like the name of a trashy romance novel.

Speaking of books.....I'm not sure I've shared with all of you that I like to read. I mean I REALLY like to read.

In fact, I would say that reading is among my top five favorite things to do. I am not sure what the other four are, but it's definitely on my list of favorites.

I started a new book this week by Jodi Picoult that I've been anxiously waiting to read. That was maybe not the wisest idea since I have plenty of house projects calling my name and I'm in the middle of wrapping up a large writing project.

But last night I threw caution to the wind after my husband quickly dozed off, and I read for 90 glorious minutes. I could have kept reading, but responsibility got the better of me.

Maybe you enjoy reading? Maybe not. Maybe there is another hobby or activity or past time that calls your name and draws you away from household responsibility.

Whatever that activity might be, may I suggest you allow yourself the sweet pleasure of enjoying it this month? Before you know it summer will be over, fall will be busy with commitments and you'll look back and wonder what you did all summer.

Make the decision this week to spend August intentionally. Rollerblade. Bike. Garden. Take walks. Focus on photography. Fish. Swim. Eat out on patios. Bird watch. Play mini golf or other games you enjoy. Paint. Watch sunsets.

Whatever floats your boat - do it! And don't feel guilty.

Tuesday, August 5

You scream, I scream, We all scream....

For ice cream!

Here in Minneapolis it will be in the mid-80s today and all week. It’s perfect weather for ice cream (as if one needs perfect weather to enjoy this creamy dessert!).

Some little known facts about ice cream….

  • The United States consumes more ice cream than everyone else except New Zealand.
  • More ice cream is sold on Sunday than any other day of the week.
  • Ice cream consumption is highest during July and August. July is National Ice Cream Month. (How did I miss this fact??)
  • Children ages two through 12, and adults age 45 plus, eat the most ice cream per person.
  • The average number of licks to polish off a single scoop ice cream cone is approximately 50.
  • 98 percent of all households purchase ice cream.

Now I am sure that many of you frequent DQs and Cold Stones in the summer….just as I do. But with the days of summer quickly slipping away, why not go on an ice cream date to explore a new ice cream store and a new flavor? Make it a date with girlfriends, a date with your hubby, a date with your kiddos or a double date with friends.

Whatever you decide, it’s worth it to set aside some time in the next few weeks. You’ll make some summer memories and your taste buds will thank you for it! Maybe you'll even find a new favorite place to frequent!

For you locals, here’s some unique places to consider…..

Edina Creamery 5055 France Ave. S., Minneapolis, and 13003 Ridgedale Dr., Ridge Square N., Minnetonka
Izzy's Ice Cream 2034 Marshall Ave. St. Paul
Pumphouse Creamery 4754 Chicago Ave S, Minneapolis
Sebastian Joe's 4321 Upton Ave S Minneapolis or 1007 Franklin Ave, Minneapolis
Grand Ole Creamery
750 Grand Ave, St Paul or 4737 South Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis

I will share with you all that I am beyond delighted to learn that there is a Grand Ole Creamery in Minneapolis. It serves delicious ice cream….well worth the drive to St. Paul and almost too tempting to be so close in Minneapolis!

Happy licking....

Monday, August 4

Dust off your Fave Five

Today is August 4th. That means there are just 27 days left of summer (or at least until Labor Day which signifies the end of summer for many). I don't mean to be the bearer of bad news but this is reality.

Remember way back in May when we suggested you compile a Fave Five list for the summer? Dig up those lists and see where you're at.

Have you accomplished all, some or none of the items on the list?

#3 on my husband's list was to move. Well as you've seen from recent posts, we accomplished that!

#5 on his list is to take lots of walks. We've been walking nearly every evening throughout our new neighborhood and thoroughly enjoying ourselves!

#1 on his list is to go to Betty's Pies. That's a pie shop in northern Minnesota. We went on a weekend trip two years ago with my brother and sister-in-law and had a blast seeing the sights and eating super tasty pie.

I'm going to share a secret with you. You have to promise not to tell my husband....

I've been secretly planning with my brother and sister-in-law a surprise two-day trip to Two Harbors in northern Minnesota for Ryan. I've requested a Friday off with his boss and we're going to be driving three see the sights, make some memories and eat at Betty's Pies!

It seems a little crazy. And expensive since gas isn't cheap these days.

But I'm so excited. And he'll be so surprised. And I love making one of his Fave Five come true this summer.

You still have time to make a Fave Five list for yourself. Or to complete more of the faves on your list. Or to make the Fave Five of family members come true.

27 days...make every single one count!

Friday, August 1

Home Improvement

Here's a great dinner idea I've discovered since not having a kitchen:

Get in the car (preferably with husband and kids if you have them), drive to a favorite restaurant, choose a delicious dish to eat, share in laughter and good conversation. Bring the leftovers home and reheat for tomorrow's dinner.

You can do this any night, but try it this weekend and see if you don't think it is a wonderful dinner idea.

Enjoy the weekend and enjoy summertime ladies!