Summer Highlights

Can you believe July is almost over and August is nearly upon us?! What happened  to summer?! Because I happen to home educate my daughter, I had this idea that the summer would be a fun, relaxing time without the structure of teaching every day and our typical “school” time free for blissful rejuvenation and opportunities to catch up on things like blogging, planning for next school year, and reading half a dozen books or so. On the contrary, I think this has been the busiest summer of our lives! I have done some planning and a bit of reading, but mainly I’ve been doing… well, I’ll show you some snapshots of what I’ve been doing!

If you follow my Facebook page, maybe you’ve already seen this “before” photo that I posted of my china cabinet. What it doesn’t show is the piece of black trim that our friend added at the bottom (the piece is a built-in that matched the cabinets but I wanted it to be black to tie in the black peninsula we added). He also added the white trim at the top (trim leftover from other projects) which really helped to fill out the piece and make it look like it stands alone (now that it’s all the same color).

Here’s the “after” photo. Black paint seems to take a long time to cure. This took a process of several days to complete all the sanding and painting and letting dry until it was safe to replace my china. But now that it’s done, I’m LOVING it!


Shortly after summer began, we enjoyed a week-long lake vacation with Kevin’s family.


We thoroughly enjoyed our time with family and friends, boating and tubing, swimming, miniature golf (for the first time in my daughter’s case… she didn’t quite understand the rules of the game, but enjoyed herself and her own version immensely), board games, sunshine, an ice cream boat that patrols the lake daily selling frozen confections (which we patronized quite often), sunsets and moonlight and a campfire complete with S’mores…. mmmm!







Once we returned home, we hit the ground running for a wedding week. One of my dear friends asked my daughter to be her flower girl, so I had a few last-minute items to procure to complete her outfit; plus I was asked to make her wedding cake.  In the meantime, a surprise birthday party was planned for my sister, and I was elected to make cupcakes for that occasion as well. I used a recipe she’d given me earlier for these delectable delights for which, at some point, I must share with you the recipe because I really believe it yields the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted in my life.



Two days later, it was time for more cake baking and icing making! I do not make wedding cakes as a rule but have made two exceptions for a couple of very dear friends over the last few years. This cake was almond flavored with almond buttercream icing.


Transporting the cake is the worst (i.e., most nerve-wracking) part. I was happy to be able to set it up the night before and breathe a sigh of relief as it left my hands (figuratively speaking).  I was honored and happy for this chance to help out my faithful friend who has invested much in my life over the years.


Friends! (Me and Little L with the bride while helping to decorate for the reception the night before the wedding.)

Here’s a picture of the flower girl. She got to wear cowgirl boots with her dress… and couldn’t have been prouder!


I know the flower girl and the ring bearer aren’t the focus of a wedding… but these two were so cute they threatened to steal the show!

The bride’s sister arranged all the flowers for the wedding, including those she added to the cake. Such gorgeous blooms!  I loved the rich purples and blues of the hydrangeas and other flowers.


Road trip! Soon after the wedding, my little sidekick and I took a quick trip to visit my hubby’s family — a fun summer tradition we started last year so she gets a chance to have some summer fun with her cousins before they go back to school. This year’s trip included, among other things, a fun day at an amusement park (this little girl is a serious rider!).





This is me at the top of the flume in the boat with my daughter and two of my nephews. We’re probably screaming (and definitely about to get wet).



We came home to a lovely surprise from my sweet hubby who must’ve missed us — he had a dozen roses waiting for each of us (in our respective favorite colors) and candy and Starbucks gift cards and a sweet note!

We also enjoyed visits with out-of-state relatives and longtime friends; and on the days that it wasn’t raining (it rained a lot this last month!), we were loving the chance to take advantage of our pool membership with friends. On the days that it did rain, I was thankful to get some much-needed household organizing and purging done and hope to do more before the summer expires.

We have also been tremendously blessed by the summer teaching series our church has held on the topic of marriage and I can’t wait to pass along some of the highlights of that to you in a later post as well!

Despite the fact that the summer has been much busier and less “productive” than I had planned in my trusty notebook (I didn’t even get a chance to finish planning what I was supposed to plan!), I am thankful for what God has ordained for these days and that He is helping me to realize that life is less about my to-do list and more about relationships with the people He has created and allows me to do life with, for ministering and for mutual encouragement as He continues His sanctifying work in us for His glory.

And there’s still a few weeks of summer yet to go!

What memories have you and your family made this summer?

Tackling Clutter Without Taking Tons of Time ~ Part 3

Spend 15 minutes every day on an organizing project.

It can be a kitchen cabinet, drawer, linen closet or pantry… whatever needs attention first.

When your 15 minutes are up, you’re free to stop. Repeat the next day. This gives motivation to fit in a small amount of time each day when you might not have time to do the entire project, but little by little the job gets done. When you complete your first project, start on the next and keep your new habit going! This is, again, a tip from a friend who received it from an older lady in her church (I love learning from wise women who are ahead of me in this journey! Thankful for how God prescribes for the older women to teach the younger in Titus 2!)

Keep your kitchen sink empty.

One dirty glass placed in the sink somehow seems to reproduce itself with an army before you know it. As dishes are dirtied, immediately put them in the dishwasher to await the next time you run it. Quickly wipe the water drops off the sink and faucet. Once I considered such things unnecessary time wasters to the point of being almost crazy. Now they help conserve my sanity just by giving me visual calm in that area of the kitchen (my neatnik husband is responsible for this new development in me). If I see a clean, calm area, it boosts my mental energy to tackle a not-so-tidy area.

Get in the habit:

When you wake up in the morning, make your bed immediately.

I recently read an article showing how much more productive people feel when their bed is made first thing (I am not very familiar with the author or the website so I’m not endorsing either, but it’s definitely an interesting article). It also gives you a neat corner of the house to see and encourage you that you’ve already accomplished something small that adds to the overall tidy feel of your house and motivate you to go ahead and cross another task off your list.

If you’re a mom, teach your kids this habit too and require them to make their beds first thing in the morning. Try to keep stuffed animals and dolls on the bed to a minimum and find a better (maybe out of sight) place for them instead. Abundance of these cuddly critters can complicate the process of teaching a little one to make their own bed, and finding a different place for them to belong can help teach “a place for everything and everything in its place.”

Getting into a morning routine is so helpful in maximizing your day. As seasons change, you’ll need to re-evaluate it and change it accordingly and it’s sometimes hard to transition into a new one, but keep at it till you find the morning routine that works for you. Chronic illness, the birth of a new baby, moving, new jobs and other significant changes dictate flexibility. We are in a “re-evaluating” season now as we are nearing the end of our home school year and making a plan for the summer, and I’m reminded as I’m considering the factors I need to account in creating our new plan just how crucial it is to:

Get to bed at a decent hour the night before in order to maximize your time and productivity the next morning.

Nothing like getting sufficient rest to boost your energy level and mental concentration throughout the next day!

What is your favorite tip for tackling clutter without taking tons of time? Are you working on developing new habits in this area? Have you learned any shortcuts or tips you can share with us?