Monthly Archives: November 2014

Feeling More Like Christmas

It’s Christmas time ~ LifeOfJoy.mebeginning to feel a lot like Christmas!  Whoo hoo!!!  I love this time of year!!! It’s exciting! I’ve got Christmas gifts arriving today and over the next several days. I’m sooo looking forward to these next several weeks.

When I was a teen, my Granny introduced us to garage sales. When my kids were young, my mom was still an avid garage saler. As she would go, she would get some really neat things for the kids and filled their Christmas stockings with all kinds of fun things. So, she actually started her Christmas shopping each spring. By the time August and September rolled around she was beginning to think about getting the main gifts bought. Her goal was to have all her Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving so that she could focus on other things throughout the month of December.

I’m so glad she set that example for me. It took me a few years but I eventually got on the band wagon. Mom, Tracie (my sister), and I started going shopping together in late September, October, and November with our goal being to get all our gift shopping done by Thanksgiving. Tiffany watches my nieces, so that we can shop unhindered. ;) Lauren, my daughter-in-love, has even joined us a couple of times over the last several years. This year we got a late start and have been shopping weekly. This week was our third consecutive week but Lauren was not allowed to go with us because we had to buy her presents without her seeing them today. :) And Mom could only join us half of the day this week because we had to shop for her gifts as well. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll be able to join us next time either because we were not completely successful this week. :(

Next week should be the wrap up week. I’ll be tallying up all the stocking stuffers and gifts and figuring out exactly what I have left to purchase and tie up those loose ends. I’ll also need to get any gift wrapping necessities next week so that I can begin to get things wrapped up and put under the tree which Tiffany and I will put up a day or two before Thanksgiving, since we go to my parents’ home all that day.

When I was in my early teens, we began the tradition of putting up our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving night. Since we didn’t have family get-togethers that day, it was nice to start our own tradition and get the tree up early. After I got married, things changed a little bit for a little while, but we eventually went back to putting my parents’ tree up on Thanksgiving night. But after putting their tree up Thursday night, I was sometimes too tired to put ours up the next day or even that weekend, although Mike and I did many years. It was in the last five or so years that I decided to get our tree up before Thanksgiving so that we can enjoy it over the long weekend at home (since we do not do any shopping that weekend). I even started fixing a turkey dinner with other side dishes than what we had at my parents since I love leftover Thanksgiving meal and never had any.

Tiffany has been playing Christmas music every now and then over the last month but I haven’t really wanted to listen to it yet as it was too warm but it’s gotten cold over the last few days and it’s starting to feel more like the holidays to me. So yesterday morning, Tiffany and I had Christmas music blaring as we prepared to leave to run our errands. With the cold, blustery weather outside, Christmas music blaring, and so many Christmas gifts beginning to arrive, I’m feeling very Christmasy now! :)

I hope December is a special month for you and that you enjoy it with friends and family, not getting bogged down in the details. I don’t know how I’d feel about the month if I needed to get all my gift shopping done then. This way, I get to focus on the festivities and enjoy the celebration all month long. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Struggling Readers

The article I share with you today is about how some children think and process differently and thus causing them to be able to read at different ages. I hope this article will help give you confidence that your child will eventually “get” it and not to be frustrated or exasperated in the time being.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


From Barking to Fluency

Helping You Focus While Your Struggling Reader Figures It Out

By Kathy Reynolds

Book in hand, 12-year-old Brent barked1 nonstop throughout the reading. His frustration mounted, he fumbled, and I felt awkward. My teacher-ingrained confidence trusted that my young sons would fare far better than this young man was faring. Homeschooling? Scary stuff!

Uh-oh, my inflated ego was showing.

Later, having been humbled through our own struggles, I empathized with Brent and what numerous other homeschoolers had experienced. I wish I had known more about the process my later-age readers were going through.

My firstborn, Josiah, read early and easily. If one of my two middle sons had been first in line, I’d have thought I failed, miserably.

  • A good teacher is not noted by how early a child masters important skills.
  • All kids don’t read and write fluently by second grade.
  • The reading process varies, sometimes taking years.
  • Poor readers in elementary school could end up as thriving bibliophiles in high school.

Reading Can Wait

Parenting is a challenge. James 1:4 reminds us that patience produces maturity (or perfection) with perpetual results. Better Late Than Early authors, Raymond and Dorothy Moore, share many unconventional success stories through their research and publications. Their conclusion is significant: “. . . We analyzed over 8,000 studies of children’s senses, brain, cognition, socialization, etc., and are certain that no replicable evidence exists for rushing children into formal study at home or school before 8 or 10.”2

I was eager, yet sometimes frazzled, as our homeschool adventures evolved. Gideon and Ben were ages 11 and 10 when reading finally clicked, so that’s a five/six-year wait and commitment to reading readiness activities compared to their older brother, who was fluent at 5.

We don’t just wait for their brains to get ready, though. In Different Learners, Jane Healy, Ph.D. advises that we prepare the brains of late-bloomers by providing the right experiences, and get this: she proposes that they may be smarter in the long run.3 She cites a study published in 2006: “. . . Children who ended up with the superior intellectual abilities were the ones whose brains took longest to mature—as much as four years longer—possibly because the extra time helped them develop richer neural networks.”4 Was this the case for Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, or Leonardo da Vinci, who were noted for their learning glitches?5

Attitude Is Prime

Many discouraged late-bloomers think of themselves as stupid. Children need success—not failure, which can result in being labeled as some kind of failure. Thankfully, with homeschooling, my sons were spared those disabling tags and accompanying ridicule, yet there were instances in Sunday School, with neighbor kids, and with some well-intentioned adults that we had to be wary of.

I believed that my sons would become young men of character, great readers, and independent thinkers (they did!)—so my actions had to show it. It’s not about how quickly they get it or the number of books they read or how high they score on testing day. It’s about meeting children face to face, loving them with the love of Christ in us, being an example of His grace and goodness, and enjoying life and learning together. Had I realized some things earlier, my different learners would have figured things out with a healthier can-do mindset, with less pushing and fretting, and with more rejoicing and admiration for the mega-way God wired them.

Right Is Bright

In her consultation practice, Dianne Craft finds that 80% of the struggling learners she sees are right-brain dominant.6 At 14, Jeremie asked me if I thought in pictures. “Huh?” It was a Twilight Zone moment. As a visual-spatial learner,7 when he reads he sees pictures in his mind. “Don’t you focus on and say the words to yourself?” I asked. Nope—he visualizes and then stores it in his memory. Why didn’t I know this before?

Aha!” That’s what I said while reading Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World.8 I now understood the tears and misunderstandings we had experienced. It’s no wonder that reading aloud is frustrating: they see words, make the connection to turn them into pictures, and then must verbalize them.9 But hey, these same kids will likely become great silent readers! Just think—he who easily visualizes comprehends best.10 As a teenager, I remember devouring difficult books with no comprehension; I read every word, but was I reading?

In college my husband and I took the same history class. My left-brained self attended every lecture, studied and re-read every chapter in the book, and took copious notes, while my husband just sat through the lecture—we both got a B. His and my sons’ method of figuring out difficult problems in their heads astounds me; their memories are the notepads. Do right-brainers have an advantage?

Phonics Plus Mnemonics

Eventually most right-brained children do learn to read by around third grade, probably with the help of an expanding sight vocabulary.11 The more right-brained a child is, the less progress you’ll likely see with your phonics program. For us, phonics wasn’t enough. We added a visual-kinesthetic approach to our routine. Looking at color-coded cards and gazing upward while visualizing, Ben clapped the rhythm with me while spelling words aloud. It appeared that dictation and copywork—Charlotte Mason style, plus memorizing rhymes and Scripture, reinforced the reading process and advanced their progress. Games like those found in Peggy Kaye’s Games for Reading added an element of fun too.12

Rule Out Dyslexia

According to Dr. Moore, dyslexia exists in brain-damaged children, and we should not attach the dyslexic label to a child simply because his physiology is not mature enough to tackle the complexity of reading at the moment.13 The subtle dyslexic tendencies my sons displayed were not an issue after I read John Holt’s interesting perspective about dyslexia in his book Teach Your Own.14 Prayerfully seeking knowledge about human biology, nutritional science, and learning styles is important, and sometimes professional help and testing is warranted. Become the expert.

Take heart and change your focus. Consider that your child is not delayed or disabled—God’s design is that we don’t all learn in the same ways or on the same schedule. Thank God, and revel in who your child is.

I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope” (Psalm 16: 8–9).

Encourage Independent Interests

Inspire kids to explore their fascinations and fine-tune their pursuits. If your focus is on areas your child is enthusiastic about, reading won’t be as big of an issue. You should read aloud, exposing your child to the wonders of language, but set a five-minute oral limit for your child. Our sons craved books about facts, science, action, oddities, biographies—and those that struck the funny bone. Enjoy growing your home library with the use of resources such as Who Should We Then Read.15

Success! Our sons eventually figured it out while I focused on character with one main academic goal: to give them the tools necessary for independent learning. Those baffling, barking days are over and we’ve been blessed to homeschool, which is not scary and one of my favorite activities!

Kathy homeschooled her four sons for twenty-three years—the youngest is a 2012 homeschooling graduate. All are excellent readers, lovers of life and learning, and independent-thinking entrepreneur types like their dad. Kathy is a freelance writer and newly re-licensed RN with interests in holistic natural health, raw food preparation, book collecting and encouraging others. Visit Kathy at her blogs: and


1. Known as barking at print: sounding out the words, without expression or meaning.


3. Jane M. Healy, Ph.D., Different Learners, Simon & Schuster, 2011, pg. 220.

4. Ibid., pg. 221.

5. Jeffrey Freed, M.A.T., and Laurie Parsons, Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World, Simon & Schuster Inc., 1997, pg. 31.

6. Excellent site to help with visual processing and a variety of learning problems.


8. Jeffrey Freed, M.A.T., and Laurie Parsons, Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World, Simon & Schuster, 1997.

9. Ibid., pg. 104.

10. Ibid., pg. 113.

11. Ibid., pg. 106.

12. Peggy Kaye, Games for Reading, Pantheon Books, 1984,

13. Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1994, pg. 102.

14. John Holt, Teach Your Own, Da Capo Press, 2003.

15. Jan Bloom, Who Should We Then Read, Booksbloom, 2001.

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices

Putting Pen to Paper

Seton ~ LifeOfJoy.meI learned a new tangle the other day. It is a very fun one and I think I’ll be using it a lot. The tangle is Seton and can be found on . It was featured last week on the Diva Challenge. The first Monday of each month she features new tangles and this one was featured this month. I wish I had participated in the challenge for the week but had many things going on, so I was unable to do so.

This picture isn’t the greatest but I thought I’d share a glimpse of the tangle. I started to do a zentangle in my calendar one day and never found the tangles I wanted to use around it but this tangle was fun. Okay, truth be told, I just kept wanting to do tipple around it and I use tipple so much that I thought I wanted to steer clear of it but looking at it again now, I think I will go back and just do it. Creating a zentangle isn’t really about the finished work, it is about the process and just putting pen to paper. “One stroke at a time.” :)

I like the diva’s weekly challenges even though I don’t get time to do them all as much as I’d like. I also like the string thing challenge over on TickledToTangle. I’ve never actually participated in one of those either but I have high hopes for next year. ;) Yes, I said next year. :D You see, I know I’ll busy from now through the end of the year, so to put the unrealistic expectation on myself that I might participate in this challenge this year is setting myself up for failure but planning to do so next year has a high probability of success. :)

I thought I’d leave you with one zentangle I did in my calendar earlier this year. I made the string myself, although it is probably very similar to one someone else has done somewhere as it is a simple string. Then I just put pen to paper and started making one stroke at a time and this is how it turned out.

zen140117 ~ LifeOfJoy.meI think the tangles I used where fescue, keeko, shattuck, and something like meer (or just slashes).

That’s it for today. I hope you’ll try your hand at some tangling. Remember you can find a treasure trove of direction over on .

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Breakfast Burrito . . . Yum Yum!!!!


Breakfast Burrito ~

I created this recipe from what I remembered of a Braided Sausage Bread. The bread was very good but was a bit involved. However I did love the filling of the bread. So I have made this for a breakfast. Sometimes I just make it as a skillet breakfast with an egg or two scrambled in with it. Truthfully, I intended to add two to this but we were hungry and I forgot. ;)

Shrooms and onions ~

First dice a few slices of onion and about 4 mushrooms, either white button or baby portabella mushroom. Saute either in non-stick pan or pan with a tablespoon butter  or oil of choice heated.

Sausage Burrito Filling ~

When they are nicely caramelized, move them to the side of the pan and add about 4 ounces of sausage. Cook through.

Sausage with Cheese ~ LifeOfJoy.meAdd about 1/4 cup shredded cheese of choice. I used Mild Cheddar. Cover until cheese is melted.

Fill Tortillas ~ LifeOfJoy.meMeanwhile warm tortillas either directly on burner, microwave, or toaster oven. I like mine with Miracle Whip but Tiffany likes hers plain. Place half the filling on each tortilla. I used whole wheat tortillas. Roll up and eat. (If you want to ensure that the filling doesn’t fall out the bottom, fold the sides in slightly and then roll them from the bottom. As you can see, we don’t worry about that.

MyBreakfastBurrito ~

I hope you enjoy it.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

Breakfast Burrito . . . Yum Yum!!!!


  • 3 slices onion, diced
  • 4 mushrooms, diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 ounces sausage
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used mild cheddar)
  • 2 whole wheat tortillas
  • Miracle Whip (optional)


  1. Saute diced onions and mushrooms in butter.
  2. Brown sausage.
  3. Sprinkle cheese on top, cover and melt.
  4. Warm tortillas.
  5. Spread half sausage filling on each tortilla
  6. Roll up and serve.

Feeling Loved

I recently read an article by Matthew Jacobson on his site. In it he talked about the importance of romance. I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here but I just felt I should mention it anyway. It was a good article sharing that wives need to feel important to and valued by her man. I thought he did a good job explaining why planning a date and taking your wife on a date is important to a woman.

He also shared that wives want to feel desired. Personally, this is difficult because I have struggled with my weight for years. It has been a huge roller coaster of emotions. Then there are the body changes of getting older, like bumps, tags, sags, wrinkles, and a variety of other changes, which all contribute to insecurity or self-consciousness about ones appearance. But loving your wife doesn’t just come in date nights, it can be shown by the kind word, gentle caress, surprise flowers (for no reason), or sweet little note.  Of course the same can be said for showing love for your husband. It’s important! Don’t get so busy in the everyday things that you forget to show your sweetie that he is on your mind and you love him.

There are seasons in our lives that are not really conducive to date nights outside of the home, even prior to the arrival of children or even before getting pregnant. I know Mike doesn’t really like to go out again once he has reach his haven – our home. He enjoys just being here with his family. It is important to still have that couple time that doesn’t necessarily involve sex.

Once again, The Dating Divas to the rescue! I haven’t been to their site in a while but just went and did a quick search on their site and found some goodies. First there was a post with five tips for successful home dates, which included things like planning and scheduling, even if only a thirty minute date is what is available. This made good sense to me. Sometimes we think that if we can’t have a couple of hours then it isn’t worth the effort, but really, if it means you can have some focused time together at all, it should be worth it – better a little focused time more frequently than lots of time rarely.

Here are some links to their site for date nights at home:

Loveseat Lounge

45 At Home Dates  This one has 45 different ideas so I don’t think much else is needed. ;)

I hope these ideas help you let your love know how special they are to you.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Busy . . . Christmas Shopping

It’s been another busy week! Glass Snowman ~ LifeOfJoy.meAs you can probably tell by the title and the picture, it was filled with Christmas shopping! :) It is fun and tiring, all at the same time. Unfortunately, we (my sister, mother, and I) are not nearly as prepared or as far along as we should be for this time of year. Usually, by now, we are nearly done and looking to get things for those outside our “extended family” (at least that is what I’m calling the group of us that include my parents, my children, including my daughter-in-love, my siblings and their families, at least the ones living nearby). Thankfully I will be getting a HUGE bit of my shopping done tomorrow.

I went shopping with my mother, youngest sister, and my daughter-in-love earlier this week while Tiffany stayed with the my nieces. We left the house about 8:30 and returned home around 6:00. Quite the day, although not as long as we have done in years past. Unfortunately, quite a bit of time was spent working out who was getting what, over lunch, which my sweet hubby purchased for us.

I fully intended to do my online shopping the next day but was troubled by an aggravating headache, ALL DAY LONG! I tried many things to get it to leave but it clung to me. Thankfully it did not remain the next day.

Tiffany, Lauren, and I ran errands after one day to recoup from the previous day of shopping. We did a little Christmas shopping but Tiffany was in need of some clothes for the cooler weather, so much of our day was spent at the mall in one store, for which we had coupons, searching for appropriate clothing. Do you know how hard it is to find modest clothing for young ladies that actually have a figure? I’ll tell you, it is quite difficult. Most clothing is either too tight, too low, too short, or a mixture of the three. It is quite pitiful but we were finally successful and did manage to get some good deals today. I love the giving heart of my daughter-in-love! She found a couple of things that Tiffany loved but could not squeeze into our budget and purchased them for her; one she got for free after coupon and using rewards – how sweet that she used the rewards to bless Tiffany.

My sweet son Sean supplied the funds for our lunch today! What generous, kind, giving people I have in my life!!! I love a good Philly Cheesesteak and I had a good one for lunch today. The girls had Chinese food, which also looked good.

After our bit of Christmas shopping, clothes shopping, and lunch, we were off to one of our happy places, Mardel, in search of bargains, mostly of the book variety. Although we did not hit the jackpot, it was not a total loss, as Tiffany “may have found a stocking stuffer” for Lauren today. You see, when we are shopping and find something we’d like to have, we let someone else purchase it for us and will see it come Christmas but we must try to forget about it, so we are “surprised” when we unwrap said gift. Many times we refer to these items as hypothetical gifts. ;) It’s all in fun and we are sure to get something we want.

We then started our grocery shopping, visiting 4 stores within a couple blocks of each other. When we got to the last store, Tiffany was able to do a bit more clothes shopping and was blessed with some good deals. We finished and dropped Lauren off at her car and headed home. We actually beat Mike home today, which is good considering we needed to tidy up a bit before he arrived.

It was another busy day; we left at 9:15 and got back around 5:00. As I already said, I will get the bulk of my shopping done, from the comforts of home tomorrow while I wait on the dishwasher repairman to arrive. Then I’ll be on target for getting my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving again this year!

I hope you are planning your holidays and getting ready to share the love and joy of the season with your family and friends.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Inspire Your Children

When I began our homeschool journey, I thought education was merely about academics. Thankfully, God gave me the right connections to change my thinking. I soon realized educating my children was more about discipling them and teaching them HOW to learn and then encouraging them to find the answers they wanted. It was more about lighting a fire inside (inspiring) them to love learning than it was to fill their heads with knowledge.

I think this article gives an interesting perspective. I hope you will enjoy it.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Parents as Inspirers

By Karen Andreola

Ask anyone in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, about the annual end-of-summer agricultural fairs and you will be told that they are serious business. They’re fun, too. Our town’s fair begins with a parade. The streets are lined with enthusiastic faces. Three days of exhibits on the fairgrounds follow. Ferris wheels and all other rides are barred from the fair, and so are prize stalls. Therefore no ticket stubs litter the ground.

The fair is free. Many volunteer to run it. Many more enter. When we had recently moved to our town, the first time we visited the fair and stepped into an exhibit hall, I was astounded. I wasn’t expecting to see so many entries, so carefully crafted by both children and adults (displayed safely under plastic). Within moments a tear filled my eye. I couldn’t help it. But I wiped it away instantly, not wishing to appear emotional in public. I was impressed. The most wonderful thing is that I felt inspired.

I examined the knitting, sewn garments, quilts, and embroidery and knew from experience the unmarked hours that had gone into each entry. I marveled at what was home grown. Flowers more beautiful than in a florist shop. Whole rows of fruits, vegetables, herbs, baked goods, and preserves glowed more appealingly fresh and delicious than what can be bought at the grocery store. Indeed things are still made in the USA—as long as there are pumpkins . . .

Never had I seen such fastidiously groomed and healthy dairy cows and other farm animals. I couldn’t help notice their owners, the young people, who handled their animals with pride and confidence.

The aisles of amateur photographs, the tables of crafts, and a wall of paintings spoke to me that people have found things to like about their world—enough to capture it in art. The dreary, murmuring attitude of “why bother” was put to shame.

The key word here is inspiration. Those who put the work and care into making an entry in the agricultural fair had to have been inspired by someone. From whence do you derive your inspiration?

Our Educational Responsibilities

To educate is to inspire. It is to sustain the inner life of a child with ideas. Ideas come by inspiration. We find them in books and experiences. As home teachers we are tempted (when exhausted) to tackle our educational responsibilities with the burdensome view of getting through a stack of educational materials: so much needs to be covered before the week is out, before the semester is out, before the year is out.

A Yoke That Is Easy

I once mentioned in A Charlotte Mason Companion: It isn’t how much a child covers that matters most but how much he cares. When we understand that education is much, much more than the three R’s or more than covering all the material, we are refitted with a yoke that is easy. We are more willingly harnessed to the task and work faithfully, carefully, and lovingly. Why does the yoke seem easier? We recognize the importance of our call and have taken on a special role. Parents are to be inspirers.

A Child’s First Copybook

By the very lives we live, we are sowing seeds of ideas in our children. A sobering old proverb states: “Parents are a child’s first copybook.” Because we love our children, we seek God to help us demonstrate understanding, kindness, patience, cheerfulness, hard work, and reverence in our homes. How else can children learn how to show these to others? Through books, written by people inspired by ideas, we give children what is pure, lovely, noble, and just to think about. Books alive with ideas do the teaching.

Right thought flows upon the stimulus of an idea, and ideas are stored . . . in books and pictures and the lives of men and nations; these instruct the conscience and stimulate the will.”1

Passing on the Torch

A good schoolbook shows us what virtue looks like. Textbooks do the job of offering us facts, but seldom do they go into the interesting detail of discovery, invention, or spiritual awakening. So we rely on other sorts of books to inspire us. This fallen world is not all sweetness. Therefore we reach for books that accompany life’s hard truths with hope.

In literature, we meet sorrow, but we ought also to meet large-hearted characters that comfort. In history and biography we meet those who destroy, so we look for those brave souls who build, defend, or minister the gospel. Science rises to meet the challenge of hardship and sickness, and so we read about the inventors and the healers. Inspiration comes by way of those who uncover truth and pass on the flaming torch of ideas (especially needed in dark places). Some day our children may be one of the torchbearers.

Charlotte Mason borrows language from Ecclesiastics when she tells us: “The duty of parents is to sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food. The child is an eclectic; he may choose this or that; therefore, in the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand, for thou knowest not which shall prosper . . .”2


1. Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education, Charlotte Mason Research & Supply, page 130.

2. Ibid., page 39.

Home educators know Karen Andreola by her groundbreaking book A Charlotte Mason Companion. Karen taught her three children through high school–studying with them all the many wonderful things her own education was missing. The entire Andreola family writes product reviews for Rainbow Resource Center. Knitting mittens and sweaters and cross-stitching historic samplers are activities enjoyed in Karen’s leisure. For encouraging ideas, visit her blog:

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Tangles from my Calendar


Zentangle14012830~LifeOfJoy.meThese tangles are ones that I did in my One Tangle-A-Day Calendar. I used tangles from the Tangle Library app.

This one is a testament of the principal that there are no mistakes with Zentangle. This was my first attempt at Jute and I didn’t exactly do it right but it was ok.  Jute is in the background and Mumsy is in the foreground. I like Mumsy.

Zentangle140129The one from the Tangle Library is Fidget; it’s the big one in the forefront. Fescue is the small one on the bottom and kind of looks like baby fidget. ;) Msst is the one at the top.

Zentangle140130~LifeOfJoy.meIn this one I used Annee. I really like this one. I need to practice it some more. I also used Stiritup. I’m not sure what the ruffle-ish lines might be called. I used either striping or pepper or whatever you want to call it on part of Annee.

I like them. I hope you do too.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes


Mashed Potatoes cooked in the crock pot ~

This one is amazing!!! I love this recipe because you actually cook the potatoes IN the crock pot. Other recipes I’ve seen for crock pot mashed potatoes have you making them and just keeping them warm or whatever in the crock pot. The whole reason I want a crock pot potato recipe is because I want them to cook in the crock pot. Duh!

One Sunday I put Sticky Chicken in the oven before church. I have a gas oven and we are gone about 5 hours on a Sunday, so anything I put in the oven has to be slow roasted. I wanted a side dish with it and had seen this recipe online. It turned out great with the few modifications I made.

I was just going to share the link to the recipe and my alterations but unfortunately I cannot find it. So I’ll share the recipe here for you to enjoy.

The first time I made this, I left the peelings on, since that is how the recipe directed but I don’t like peelings in my mashed potatoes, no matter how thin the skin. So, the next time I Size of potato chunks ~ LifeOfJoy.memade them I peeled the potatoes and I enjoyed them even more. Since I was going to be gone for 5 hours or so, I cut my potatoes into larger chunks than the original recipe called for. I cut them into approximately 1″-2″ chunks. (The smaller potatoes were cut into quarters and larger ones into about 6-8 pieces depending on the size of the potato.)

It’s really quite simple. Peel and cut five pounds of gold potatoes and put into crock pot. Add one cup of water and one cup of butter (2 sticks) cut into chunks. Add salt and pepper to taste or recipe called for 1 Tablespoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook. The recipe said to cook on high for 4 hours but I cooked mine on low (for the 5+ hours I was gone), in my six quart crock pot, to ensure they didn’t get overcooked or worse, burnt.

The recipe recommended heating 1 1/3 cups of milk so that as you add it to the cooked potatoes, which you do NOT drain, it doesn’t cool it off. Add the milk gradually, as needed, as you mash the potatoes either with a mixer or masher, until desired creaminess. I prefer to use evaporated canned milk instead of regular milk.Truly mashed potatoes ~

The recipe said that the mashed potatoes can be kept warm on low for a couple of hours without changing consistency, just keep the lid on the crock pot.

I hope you find this recipe helpful during this busy season.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Pretty Flowers ~ LifeOfJoy.meWhen things are difficult in marriage, it is easiest to see what your spouse does that aggravates you and disregard what you do. It is much easier to wish he’d change and maybe even nag him to do so, than to see areas where you may be in need of change. The fact of the matter is that you can’t change someone else; you can only change you.

So when you find yourself frustrated with your spouse, stop and remember the things you love about him. I know when you are frustrated, all you can see are the frustrating things. It takes real effort to focus on the good he does but it is definitely worth it.

Now comes the really hard part. Stop and assess your behaviors, actions, and words. Are there some things you should or could do differently to bless your man? What are the things that you need to change? Purpose to work on one of these. Your beloved has probably given you some clues, if not told you outright, as to what you could change. Take all of this to the Lord in prayer and follow His guidance about what you can do to make your situation better. Purpose to make an effort to change one thing. It may be doing something you know he would like. It may be stopping something that bothers him. Whatever it is, determine to change the one person you can change – you. It won’t happen over night but little by little things will improve.

One time I asked Mike what little things he would like, that I could get for him. It was a hard question for him because although he knew he’d like me to get him little things from time to time, he could not give me any ideas. So, he asked me what I’d like. Thankfully, I was ready for that one. ;) There are brightly colored bouquets of flowers available inexpensively at Walmart. One day I took a picture of them and made it the wallpaper on my phone, so I could easily show him exactly which flowers I liked. I also told him a couple other things I’d like.

Since that time, he has surprised me twice with a bouquet of those flowers, for no reason at all, except to make me happy. Now, I will say, it has been a long time since I told him about this but it was worth the wait. You see, Mike has never been a “romantic” per se, so this is something he has begun to change, for me. :)

I, on the other hand, have tried to speak words of appreciation to him. Sometimes I write them on notes and put them in his lunch. Sometimes I brag on him to the kids, in his hearing. These are not easy things for me but I’m trying too. These little positive changes help undermine frustration. It takes work. I started working first and over time, he has blessed me with some changes of his own.

God is good and when you pray about your marriage and seriously pray about what you should can do to better it, He will direct you and it will pay off, one way or an other.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº