You Will Love This NEW Cookbook! {Foreword by Ree Drummond}

food background

A cookbook? I know, I know. Shelves are replete with cookbooks and Pinterest is crammed with delightful dishes⎯but⎯I can personally vouch for this one.

I’ve been a full-fledged fan of Robyn Stone’s food blog “Add A Pinch” for years. Her Honey Soy Pork loin and Balsamic Beef dishes are mainstays of our family table. And, oh, did I mention they’re both crockpot recipes?

So, you can imagine my delight when I learned that I’d won a copy of her new cookbook, “Add A Pinch: Easier, Faster, Fresher Southern Classics” through Maria Ribas’ giveaway on Stonesong!

My copy arrived in the mail this week and I’d love to share four specific things I’m loving about this cookbook.

Add a PinchFour Reasons You’ll Love This Cookbook:

The photography is stunning. I don’t know about you, but I like to see what a finished recipe should look like. Not that mine will appear anything like the finished product but you never know.

Her table of contents includes my favorites. Can anyone say Slow Cooker Suppers? I also love Skillet Suppers, One-Dish Suppers, Simple Sides, and Biscuits & Breads. There are more, but these are my faves.

The book has smart sidebars. Each includes suggestions and solutions for the modern home cook.

Robyn delivers on the Southern Classics. Five favorites⎯some I’ve tried, and some I look forward to trying: Strawberry shortcakes with sweet cream cheese biscuits {need I go on?}, Cranberry Chicken Bites, Grandmother’s Chicken and Dumplings, Citrus Shrimp, and Roasted Okra. Lighter dishes are also included.

Sharing a favorite cookbook with you is not my norm, mainly because I don’t purchase many, but I couldn’t keep this one a secret. Yes, it’s that good! {And yes, it was on my Amazon wishlist so sharing it was inevitable.}

Do you have a favorite cookbook?

 

Here’s my New Writing Nook! Where is Yours?

Would you like to see my new writing nook?

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My Previous Writing Spot

Perhaps you remember my last one. It was located on the second floor of our hundred-year-old home and although I loved it I do not miss the constant traffic whizzing by. When we decided to move to the country I realized I may be sacrificing my writing spot but I knew writing, and the joy I receive from it wasn’t dependent on a particular place. Still, I hoped for another one.

With this move, we knew it would be more about the property than the house itself. And that’s exactly what happened. We landed on almost 4 acres with amazing mountain views, a barn, pool, and a bonfire setting. The house was custom built in 1996 with its share of quirks. One being the kitchen which I initially thought was a walk-in closet off the great room (Yes, it’s that bad but we’ll save that reno for another day!). The Florida Room was a nice addition except that it felt heavy, the exact opposite feel I was desiring, especially for a room mirrored with windows on all walls but one. Turns out, this one wall was the deciding factor for the placement of my great-grandparents desk and ultimately my new writing nook. So now for the fun part!

blogbrown1img_3568{I wish I’d taken a better picture of the brown walls. It was quite cave-like.}

blogbrown2img_3569{The first coat of primer! Two coats of my favorite white paint, Dover White by Sherwin Williams, would soon follow.}

blogbrianwhiteimg_3604{My round-the-clock handyman hubby hard at work – thank you, Brian!}

blogemptyshelvesimg_3608{Empty bookshelves? Never! The white “box” is the back part of our gas log/fireplace. I wanted an industrial feel so I went with bare wood planks and piping for the brackets.}

bloglibraryimg_3646{Now it’s beginning to look like a writing nook! I initially wanted to use industrial piping for the brackets but when we realized that those alone would cost over 300.00 we quickly switched to beefy but affordable steel brackets that we painted matte black, saving $200.00. Score!}

blognook2img_3726{There we go! I have my [post-decluttered] books on hand, my writing mags nearby [white Ikea magazine holders], my family’s fold-down desk, and then there’s the view peeking out from the side window. Love it!}

blogwhite3img_3588{And I do so love my nearby sitting area! Soon after this pic, we painted the french doors black, as seen in the above photo.}

I hope you enjoyed the mini-tour. I plan to share more reno house pictures in the near future but for now, I’d love to know your favorite place to write. And if you’d like to include a photo, even better!

Thank you for stopping by today. What a blessing. 🙂

Unpacking Four Lessons Learned From Our Move

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Our hilltop barn.

I didn’t plan to be away so long.

When I went away on our family beach vacation in early September I fully expected to return to blogging the following week. This, despite the fact we had only a handful of days to pack our life up in brown paper boxes, close on two houses, and move to our new place in the foothills of the mountains, almost an hour away. But that’s not what happened.

My time away from blogging, however, allowed me to clearly see certain things that were once clouded by chaos.

canstockphoto5176462Four {Life-Changing} Lessons Learned from Our Move:

It’s not what we hold in our hands that will leave the legacy, but rather, what we hold in our hearts. While packing, I came across a dozen Precept workbooks where I’d marked up words, pages, made extra notes, etc. They represented studies that quite literally changed my life. It was through Precept years ago that I learned about the Bible, and more importantly, where I learned to love the God of the Bible. (Thank you, Kay Chandler and Kay Arthur). My initial thought was to keep them so that my grandchildren and great-grands would one day be able to read them and know they had a grandmother who loved the Lord with all of her heart, in spite of her pre-Christ choices. It wasn’t until I began sliding the tape over the seams, that the Holy Spirit reminded me that future generations would not be convinced of my love for God by seeing what I did, or even what I knew. They will know that their grandmother loved God by how she lived (imperfect but intentional) and the choices she made birthed from that kind of love.

Community. It’s a beautiful thing. Moving supplies passed on from long-time friends (our daughter-in-law’s parents!). Two vintage metal gliders delivered to my mom’s house. Another glider and two children’s car seats temporarily housed at my bestest buddy, Teresa’s, house. Brian’s musical instruments (including an upright bass) along with umpteen boxes of vintage LP’s, landed in the living room of Beth Saadati’s dad’s house. (Gary was even gracious enough to open his home to us if we’d needed a place to stay between houses. Gentle hearts and spirits run in this family.) Zach recruited friends from college to help in the move and one of Brian’s friends, whom he’d not seen in awhile, simply volunteered his Saturday morning to help. People who are a long-standing part of our “community” via family ties, friendships, and various churches, all came together at different times and in different ways to help us. We remain humbled and eternally grateful.

Releasing “stuff” isn’t just a step in the right direction, it’s a delightful destination. In the past, I’ve hauled stuff from place to place vowing to one day figure out what I really needed to keep. Not this time! For the most part, I went piece-by-piece evaluating if I would use it. I asked myself what my first reaction would be to the item when unpacking it on the other side. If there was the least bit of hesitation, it didn’t make the cut. I also asked myself if I would purchase it again. If not, why would I want to keep it now? I even released some sentimental things which proved to be the hardest part for me. But I knew if my relatives in heaven could speak to me, knowing what they know in heaven, they’d scream from the top of their lungs, “Let it go! It’s so temporal!” While I kept a few things that meant the most to me I took a picture of the things I didn’t keep and felt pure delight in knowing those things I couldn’t use would now be a blessing to others.

Jesus is in the details, not the devil. I’ll elaborate more on this in future posts but I marvel at the ways God led us to our new place. Honestly, it’s not a place, house-wise, I probably would’ve chosen were it not for the land, views, etc., but that too is part of the beautiful plan for Willoughby Way (the name we’ve given our place on the hill). I look forward to sharing more details, along with “before” and “after” pictures in the near future.

Can you relate to any of the above lessons learned during a move? If so, please share in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you and there is no doubt it will encourage others. Thank you!

When Spiritual Clutter Hides Beneath the Physical

blogmoreoflessMaybe it’s the sentimental clutter crying for relief in my attic. Or perhaps it’s the upcoming move signaling a fresh start. Point is, Joshua Becker’s latest release, “The More of Less…Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own” left me questioning what spiritual clutter might be discovered beneath my sentiment-driven, what-if-I-need-this-some-day, because-two-of-something-is-always-better-than-one kind of debris.

My desire to tuck away pretty things began at an early age. As an eight-year-old, I hid a true blue Easter egg in my headboard bookshelf. Why? Because I wanted to know it would be there when I felt the need to gaze at beauty for a moment. It didn’t take long to figure out that even beautiful things eventually decay…and reek.

It wasn’t, however, until I was in my thirties purchasing Beanie Babies {Did I really just admit that?} for no apparent reason that I began realizing there was more to those purchases than a fuzzy little feel good. Thankfully, they ended up in the hands of children in an overseas orphanage but unfortunately that was not the “why” behind the purchases years prior.

Those are just two snapshots from my past but even today when I find myself aimlessly wandering up and down the aisles of Target I have to ask myself the “why” question. I don’t want to subconsciously find peace and, dare I say, joy, in all the wrong clearance spaces.

Joshua’s latest release, “The More of Less” is a daily tool in my back pocket. The pages hold clear and concise wisdom, less a beating. The tone is conversational, friendly. It’s an easy but enlightening read, to say the least.

Snippets from The More of Less, some paraphrased:

  • Minimalism: the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.
  • The beauty of minimalism isn’t in what it takes away. The beauty and the full potential of minimalism lie in what it gives.
  • Decluttering will help you clarify your purpose and values.
  • Remember, the goal of minimalism is to unburden our lives so we can accomplish more.
  • In the end, your particular practice of minimalism is going to look different from that of everyone else because your life is different from that of everyone else. You may have a large family, a small family, or no family. You may live on a farm, in a house, or in a studio apartment. You love music, movies, sports, or books. You practice art, or maybe you don’t. Maybe you believe you were put on this earth to host beautiful dinner parties or offer your home as a place of respite and retreat for others. Follow your passions to the best of your ability with the resources you possess. Fulfill your purpose with great focus by removing the distractions keeping you from it. And find a style of minimalism that works for you, one that is not cumbersome but freeing.
  • The more you believe you are not influenced by advertisements, the better they have done their job.
  • Generous people have less desire for more. They find fulfillment, meaning, and value outside of the acquisition of possessions.

{Told you it was good!}

buy-686337_640As I clear out the physical clutter in preparation for the move, a subtle, more insidious kind of clutter lies in wait. I find evidence of mindless shopping. Clothes with fancy tags but little wear. Books that wouldn’t be read anytime soon but bought because I refused to deny the rush of happiness that surged through my veins. Misplaced values and unhealthy dependencies now made visible because I {finally} took the time to look at the “why” behind the purchases.

Peeling back the motives behind our “stuff” allows us to discover not only what we value but also where we find it.

Although you may have enjoyed a large house in the suburbs with the accompanying comforts of life in the past, perhaps now you are thinking more about the value of experiences over possessions. Maybe you are more focused on leaving a legacy than adding to a pile of possessions. {To the Baby Boomers, like me.}

Did a particular excerpt from Joshua’s book resonate with your current circumstances? If so, please share in the comment box. It’s always nice knowing we’re not alone.

Amazon: The More of Less, by Joshua Becker

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One Question to Ask When Decluttering Your Home

Change: It's A Good ThingDecluttering is in full-swing at the Baker’s house. Maybe it’s the excitement of the move, or the adrenaline of the unknown, or the simple fact that I can’t find squat that makes this particular decluttering effort seem more successful.

As I began sorting through clothes, paperwork, and yes, even books, I began asking myself one question:

“How will I FEEL the moment I see this item when unpacking it at the new house?”

Talk about changing one’s perspective! This one question Is freeing me both emotionally and physically. If I knew a particular item wouldn’t spark joy the moment I spotted it when unpacking in our new home, it was placed in one of three places: Goodwill, consignment, or trash. It was an immediate score. Woot Woot!

In the past, we’ve hauled the entire contents of one house to another, assuming we’d one day go through all the boxes. Not this time. We’re now going through everything before it’s packed away. Last week, I took two totes to consignment, five totes to Goodwill, and tossed 8 bags of trash. Oh, the freedom!

Yes, the process of ridding ourselves of clothes that have worn out their welcome and tossing papers with scribbles from long ago is freeing, but it still boggles the mind as to how we got here.

At one point during last week’s mission it occurred to me that much of the clutter was due to procrastination on our part. It always seemed easier to find a spot for something, say, next week. Until then, any flat surface would do. Especially if it’s a book. Or a notebook. Or fountain pens. Okay, I digress. But you get the point.

During this frenzied season of decluttering and preparing for a move, I find that the one question I ask myself while deciding what to pack, or what to toss or share, brings rest to this old soul and a renewed determination to do things differently this time around.

So how do you go about the process of decluttering? Do you have a particular question or mantra that helps you stay focused?

 

Does God Care Where I Live?

by Cathy Baker @cathysbaker

 

Years ago I heard a pastor say he doesn’t believe God cares where we live — what area, what house, etc.

I respect his opinion but I tend to disagree.

I see God’s specificity throughout His Word, as well as our own home situations over the years.

Over twenty years ago, we built a home in our new little town. As relatively new believers, we knew nothing about the beauty of tithing, but it didn’t take long to realize our budget couldn’t handle that kind of mortgage if we were going to tithe fully.

So we sold the new house and moved into a 50 year-old two bedroom, one bath house. People thought we were crazy moving into such a small home with two little boys in tow but some of our happiest memories were made in that home. As a matter of fact, our oldest son and his wife bought the home years after we’d left because he had such good memories there.

Our 50 year-old home. Image Courtesy of Google.

Our 50 year-old home. Image Courtesy of Google.

After eight years of living in our “tiny” home, we felt the boys needed more space as teenagers so we went in search of a little larger home. We put a full price offer on a home across town but they denied it. {Whaaat?} We scratched our heads at the time but remained confident God closed the door for a reason bigger than we could understand. A few weeks later we landed in a home/area where our boys made life-long friends, and had room to play music.

When we decided to move a few years later, with the boys were entering their college years, God sent a buyer from NY who had one weekend to find a home. He gave us a full price offer because he didn’t want to squabble over price. We look back now at our own full price offer that was denied and thank God for it.

That closed door opened many others that would’ve never been opened otherwise.

The examples could continue but suffice it to say I’m convinced God does care about the details of our lives. He cares about the community where we’ll live, the people we will meet, the friends our children will make, the church we’ll belong to, the money we will spend. Why? Because He cares about you, me, our families, and those around us.

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I believe our heavenly Father delights in leading us to places where we can flourish emotionally, physically, and spiritually — all for His glory! And because He cares, why wouldn’t we pray for His direction?

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8

So, what do you think? Do you believe God cares where you live? Please share below!

{You may be asking what this subject has to do with change. I’m asking myself the same thing but this is what the Lord laid on my heart to share.}