All posts by Life of Joy

Long Time Marriage

My parents celebrated 57 years together recently. What an accomplishment! Of course like most couples, they could have chosen to give up at any point, as I’m sure most couples could. They are committed to each other.

They’ve been retired for several years and are enjoying spending time with each other. Daddy always worked hard and long hours, so Momma was frequently alone. But now they are able to be together all the time. It’s a good thing they are best friends. :)

People are often amazed that my kids can have a big disagreement but can end it without hard feelings and still talking to each other and even still being friends. I dare say, it is true of this good marriage as well; I know it is true of my own marriage.

The way I see it, forgiveness, commitment, and and being friends with your spouse are three big keys to a long and happy marriage. It’s what I’ve seen in my parents and what I’ve experienced in my own 32-marriage as well.

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº

Shopping, Red, Giveaways, and Blogiversary

Wow! It’s Friday again! Where do the days and weeks go? I’m going to do some shopping today . . . looking for some new walking shoes. Four years ago I got some Sketchers with go-ga mat insoles that I have loved but sadly I have worn them down to where they now hurt my feet. :( So it is my goal to purchase a replacement for them with some of my birthday money.

Tiffany and I went in together on some mechanical pencils from Amazon. They are pretty but the lead is scratchy! Yuck. She also bought a .3 mm lead mechanical pencil from Hobby Lobby with some really nice lead. So, I’m also off to see if I can find that Pacific Ark lead in .5 and .7mm sizes today also.

I have a favorite pair of shorts, like most people, I guess. Any way, I get a bit frustrated when I want to wear them and they are in the laundry to be cleaned (a.k.a. the dirty clothes hamper). So I want to get another pair that are similar (so that it doesn’t look like I’m wearing the same pair all the time :D ) but I’m not sure about buying another pair because it’s nearly the end of July and thus the summer is nearing its end. :)) Right! I know. Summer lasts until October around here. But then there is the fact that I intend to have lost weight by next summer so that I would not be able to wear them any more than what use I get out of them this year. Of course, I won’t pay much for them anyway, so I’m sure I’ll get my money’s worth . . . so I should just buy me a pair. =)) Wow! Sorry you had to be a part of all that crazy thinking. :D But at least I’ve talked myself into shopping for a couple pairs of shorts. Oh yeah, I only mentioned the one pair, huh. Well, I have another favorite pair that I wear only at home but they are so comfortable that I’d love to have another pair like them as well. ;)

I finished the second book in the Circle series by Ted Dekker, this week. I struggled a bit with this one as there seemed to be some slow bits for me. It was still good and I will continue on with the series because I do want to see how it turns out.

It was a story of redemption and I did find it interesting. There was one part that was difficult to read but then I have a hard time reading in the Bible about how Jesus was beaten too.

In other news, it is July and Tiffany has been celebrating Christmas in July with giveaways, mood boards, quotes, and character interviews on her Instagram account this month. I’ll be reading her book again Thanksgiving and Big Stuff ~ Lifeofjoy.mesoon (Murder Mystery and the Ginderbread Cookies), definitely before the end of next week. ;) She has a darling bookmark she is giving away each week and she also includes a print of the character of the week. My favorite so far has been Alison. :) I’m so proud of her, as she not only wrote the book but is also doing all the artwork. She amazes me.

This August I will have had this blog for five years! That just amazes me. (It appears I’m very amazed today but that is just the word to describe both situations for me right now. ;) ) Anyway, I will be having some new things starting this year. It’s a bit ‘scary’ for me but I feel these are going to be some good things. My oldest son, Brian, has been after me for a while to do some of this and I’m excited to see how it is going to come together. So look for those changes/announcements in the next week or so. ;)

Well, I’m off for now. I hope you have a good weekend and stay cool. :)

Michele ºÜº


Reading and YA Distinction

Do you have a pre-teen or teen? Do you struggle with books for them to read? Do they think they must get books from the YA (young adult) section of the library? Do you know that YA is NOT a reading level?

I read books from all over the library. Yep, children’s department too; see these posts I did recently about some juvenile fiction I’ve read in the last month or so. I’ve got one more checked out that I want to read yet. But I digress. ;)

I’ve read some YA books and I have to say that I would be very careful about which books my kids read in that area. They are generally filled with angst and teens experimenting with all sorts of things. There are soooo many good books in the juvenile section that are worthwhile reading.

Here is a really good article and even a podcast (but I haven’t listened to that) about the YA designation and that category. It is not a short read but does have some book suggestions as you scroll to the bottom. I’m looking forward to reading some of these myself. :)

I hope this helps you steer your child through their reading adventures.

Michele ºÜº

HeART String Hollibaugh Tile

This week’s Today’s Tangle: Keeping it Classic prompt (#TTKICPrompt071519) was to use the word heart with the first two letters in cursive and the last three capital manuscript letters. Then Sandy offered twelve tangles to choose from for the tile, three for each letter of heart.

There were so many sections created by this string that I felt it would get way too busy way too quickly. I toyed with not even doing this tangle and going with tangle prompt from either of two different groups. Then I thought about using Hollibaugh, one of the three ‘h’ suggested tangles. I love Hollibaugh because it has such great contrasts built in (at least when I draw it ;) ).

Here is my string.

Yeah, it looks splotchy because I forgot to take a picture of the string this week and had to digitally erase down to the string in order to share it.

Here is my tile before shading.

Here is the tile in natural light before shading.And here is the scan after shading.

Well, drat. Looks like there is a hair on my scanner. :( I hope I remember to wipe it off before I scan next week’s tile. ;)

Here is the finished tile in natural light.

I think it turned out rather interesting. Doing it this way was relaxing, so I’m glad I kept it simple. ;)

Thanks for stopping by. I hope I can encourage you to take some time for yourself.

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº

Super Easy Make Ahead Meal

Yeah, I know, any meal you make ahead is easy when you finally eat it but this one is even easy to make. I put boneless skinless chicken in the crock pot with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and cook on low for about six hours.

Meanwhile, bake sweet potatoes that I pierce with a knife at 325º for an hour to an hour and a half. Then cool them and refrigerate until needed.

I like to cut them in half (long ways), place them in a skillet-cut side down, put a little water in the pan, cover and heat until desired warmth. Tiffany likes to cut them in half and put them in the air fryer/toaster oven to heat them up. Reheat chicken on the stove with a little of the broth in the skillet or pot.

So, pair it with the chicken and a salad for a good quick meal. Easy peasy!

The night pictured, I air-fried the chicken with a bit of chili-lime seasoning. When I use the crock pot chicken, I frequently just put it in a salad with the sweet potato on the side. No heating up of the kitchen on these HOT Oklahoma days.

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº


The Right Way to Ask Questions about His Decision

The Generous Wife, Lori Byerly, shared an article from Shaunti Feldhahn (author of For Women Only) that really made me think about how I converse with my husband. I think I need to talk to him about this article and see if it resonates with him. I’ve learned that just because many or even a majority of men think a certain way does not mean MY man does. So while this is good food for thought, it is not necessarily spot on with everyone’s spouse.

So the article was an answer to a message that Shaunti got from a relatively new bride about how it seemed that her husband didn’t like her inquisitiveness after they got married and this bothered her. Shaunti shared how most men work through a problem and how her inquisitive nature could be making the husband feel she didn’t trust/respect him.

In reading Shaunti’s response, I realized that I can be that kind of person and that I do not speak my agreement with Michael nearly enough. Since then, I have made an effort to begin my part of the conversation on something Michael’s shared by stating my agreement with something he’s said. (Yeah, that was real wordy but I hope it was clear.) I noticed in doing this that he is not as defensive and we are relating a bit better. :)

So, I’ve rambled enough. I hope you’ll click on over and give the post a read. It is always enlightening to see how most men process things. ;)

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº

Bread, Flowers, and a Cute Grill

It’s been another of  those mixed up days kind of weeks. Tiffany and I ran errands early in the week because they have a young adult conference to attend at our church all the later part of the week.

I had my sourdough starter out last weekend to make bread and didn’t have enough for the five loaves. It took me some time, but I finally decided that I didn’t have enough starter to make the bread and made a double batch of Lemon Poppy Bars instead. We all love them. :) I gave us all one bar and froze the rest. :D The family wasn’t too happy that they weren’t readily available but this way they won’t disappear so quickly. :D

I figured I’d feed the starter for a few days and then bake bread later in the week. So I was sitting down trying to figure it all out and realized that I had the exact amount I needed right then but I’d have to get busy right away because it the prep work takes 30 minutes or more and then it has to rise for 5-6 hours and then another 1-2 hours after being put into the loaf pans.

I’m not very good at shaping the loaves yet but I got them made. :) If you follow me on Instagram or facebook, you’ve seen them.

I tried to be careful not to over proof them this time but it doesn’t seem to have worked. :\

I ended up having some volunteer sunflowers after all. :)

I love the red/orange one!

I’ve had some roses. I’m really not a good gardener, so these babies really have to want to bloom. :D

Here’s a pink one.

Isn’t it beautiful? Here’s another from the yellow bush.

The peach trees are not looking good. I’m going to have to do some research on how to care for them. All the peaches on the one we planted have dots all over them and the volunteer peach tree peaches are all nasty. Sean said they were slimy. We shall see.

My brown mums are starting to blossom. I think I lost the white ones though.

Here’s one of our adorable kitties. :)

When Michael and I were out for our anniversary, we saw the cutest grill at TJ Maxx. (I think that’s where we saw it.)

Inside the grill.

So stinkin’ cute! Of course, I think the price was something ridiculous though.

Well, I’m going to run for now. I hope you have a great weekend. Michael and I are getting a small taste of empty nest with Sean and Tiff at the conference. :)

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº

Book Review: Lenny’s Book of Everything

This is another of those books I found at the library a couple months ago that was about siblings that actually got along. The only other thing I knew about this book going into it was that they younger brother had rare form of gigantism. Consequently I assumed it would end up being a sad book but was interested in the sibling relationship.

Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee

Okay, I’m just going to be honest . . . this is a hard book. It did not capture me–I had to push to keep reading it. There is a lot of loss in this book.

I guess I should start by telling you a bit more of what the story is about. First up, Lenny is short for Lenore and is a girl who is three years old when her brother is born. The book starts out very somberly! with the mother having a feeling something was wrong with her newborn. This is given credibility because it is like the feeling she had the day Davey was born, which is shared in the beginning.

Lenny’s father was in and out of their lives the first several years. So this is also a story of a “single” mom with two kids and how she handles it but told through the eyes of the children.

My Thoughts/Talking Points

  • The mother lied about her husband, saying he was dead. However Lenny says she lies from the first word of the letter, so this is definitely something to be aware of and talk about with your children. Do you agree with it being a lie?
  • The book delves in to Lenny’s feelings about her brother’s condition.
  • Lenny and Davey talk about and plan to run away.
  • Lenny goes somewhere she should not go and it disrupts her relationship with her brother (well, with everyone).

Bottom Line:

  • This is a hard one for me to bottom line because in the end it was a decent read but I have no desire to ever read it again. It is a stand alone, which is good.
  • I liked that the siblings like each other and treat each other well most of the time.
  • It shows how doing something behind peoples’ backs changes things.
  • It shows how sometimes we want something so much that it seem as if it is true.
  • The people we surround ourselves with influence what we do.
  • Accepting help is not necessarily charity
A few things to consider:
  • abandonment (father left the family)
  • death, although it is not shown
  • mother “dating”
  • sneaking behind adults’ backs
  • lies?
  • “stealing” money
  • running away
  • being left behind can cause a drift in a relationship

My recommendation is to definitely use this one as a read aloud, so that you can stop and discuss things as they happen. Talk about why Lenny thinks Mom lied in the letter and if it is really a lie. Talk about if Lenny should have met GAE. Talk about what meeting GAE did to her relationship with Davey and the adults in her life.

There is also the “dark heart feeling,” which is mentioned from the very beginning of the book. I would describe it as a sense of foreboding. Other phrases that are kind of similar

This book is a bit heavy. It does show siblings in a good light. Ones that enjoy sharing things with each other but how sometimes they can be embarrassing and how to deal with those feelings.

OH! I almost forgot to mention: if your child is into beetles or birds, they will probably really enjoy this because Lenny finds she is intrigued with beetles of all kinds and Davey is enamored with a Golden Eagle and later Falcons. Definitely a fun part of the book

I also enjoyed how they looked forward to the parts of the encyclopedia showing up each week and how they would pour over them. There is also the mention of a few television shows in the 60’s and 70’s as well as the mention of the moon landing. :) There are probably more things I should mention, like I think Mrs. Gaspar is Catholic, vandalism–which is immediately dealt with, and friendships.

As you can see, I had mixed feelings about this book. I hope I have shared enough that you can decide if it is a book for you and your children or not.

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº


Striping Monotangle

I followed the Today’s Tangle: Keeping it Basic prompt (#TTKICPrompt070819) again this week which was to do a monotangle using one of about nine tangles. I haven’t used striping much so thought that it would be fun. I also went with a string instead of no string. I just randomly drew a line on my tile until I was done. ;)

Here’s what I ended up with.

It’s a bit light and hard to see because it is my pencil string. But I got a picture of it with the camera.

Then I started striping. I wasn’t sure if I was going to fill all the sections or not. I just kept on until I was done. ;) I tried to do one with a zigzag but it ended up being just a V.

I tried to vary the directions, widths, and styles of stripes. It appears that I forgot to take a picture of it in natural lighting. :(

Here it is after I added some shading. I struggled with this a bit, knowing which parts to shade darker and which to leave.

Here it is in natural light.

Well, that’s it for today. Oh, I did use my uni-ball eye black pen rather than a micron. I wanted to add some white highlights but that group does not allow it, so I didn’t use it.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope it inspired you. :)

Michele ºÜº

Summer Dessert We’ve Loved

For a while now, I’ve been craving the Strawberry Pretzel Salad. I never had this when I was young but loved it several years ago when I had my first taste. The saltiness of the pretzels really paired well with the sweetness of the rest of the dessert.

Well, I saw a keto version of this deliciousness several months ago and decided I needed to make it. Independence Day seemed like a good excuse to make it. ;) The creator said the pretzel layer was her favorite in the original dessert and so she had to get it just right. I believe she nailed it! We loved it!

My Tweaks

I made two tweaks to her recipe.

  1. I used Wild Berry Zinger Tea because I don’t like raspberry. I know, sad but true. However the Wild Berry Zinger Tea worked great for me. This has some raspberry in it but it isn’t blaringly obvious, thus tasted great.
  2. I used Neufchatel, which is a lower fat cream cheese, because I am desperately trying to lose weight and appreciate a few less calories where I can manage it.

That’s it. This deliciousness is easy to make. I made the crust early in the day because it does require baking the three ingredients in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

The cream cheese layer is no-bake and very similar to my no bake cheesecake recipe. Very simple ingredients. Just remember to get the cream cheese (or Neufchatel) out when you make the crust so that it softens by the time you are ready to make the cheesecake part.

The top layer is just sliced strawberries with a small amount of ‘jello’ to hold it all together. I refrigerated my bowl of jello and set the timer to stir it after five minutes and then forgot to reset the timer for the last five minutes and it was a solid mass. So I had to do that part over again but I just reused the same two tea bags from before. (There’s something to be said for not cleaning up after yourself immediately. :D )

I hope you’ll give this dessert a try. It really tastes great! Hubby said, “I think I know what I want for my birthday dessert.” :) My 26yo son said it kind of tasted like a pecan pie wanna be. :D He has a sweet-tooth and added more sweetener to the top of his piece the next day and liked it better; he said the strawberries were too tart/bitter. He’d never had Strawberry Pretzel Salad before so had no idea ‘context’ for what this dessert was trying to recreate. However, in the last couple of years we’ve found that we love pecan pie thus his pecan pie comment. ;) We all loved it! Kudos to Jacinda.

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº