coffee chat #2

coffee chat

This week I met with a friend to talk about homeschooling. She was a great blessing to my heart and I came away much more excited about the possibilities and blessings of homeschooling. In addition, she gave me a box full of books, games, and manipulatives which made both me + my kids quite ecstatic. It was a shot in the arm I didn’t even know I needed. Thankfully there’s a God in charge of everything who knows what I need a whole lot better than I do.

I’ve been loving this dirty chai lately. I found it at Target a couple weeks ago and it’s been a favorite afternoon treat. I drink it with a little milk + sugar. Of course, it’s not as rich and creamy as the ones from Sbux, but then again it’s also lower in cost and calories.

A friend gave me this candle last week and I’ve been burning it regularly ever since. I’ve mentioned before that I’m an annoying saver with special things such as gift cards + candles. (I call to witness the votive candle my parents gave me several years ago and I just burned last week.) But I’m trying to do better at just using and thoroughly enjoying them, not just enjoying the idea of them. Clearly, there is still improvement to be made in this area.

I got these ankle boots yesterday. I went in looking for some flats in a gray-ish, neutral-ish color, but I didn’t find my size in any I liked. However, these boots called out to me from another aisle and, ya know, it’s just rude to ignore something that calls for your attention. So when I turned to look, I decided to try them on. From there, I asked my kids how they looked because they were the closest people around and the only style police available. “Mommy, of course they look good!” I’ll take it. The jury is still out on whether I will return them or not, seeing as they weren’t exactly what I went in to buy. But I had a coupon that expired yesterday, so I figured I’d buy them and then decide later. I think I’ll hang onto them until I figure out exactly how useful they would be in my closet.

Tonight is a couple’s night for Jonathan and I. (We did a video on our couple’s nights here if you missed it!) I am so excited about it. He’s been cranking out a big paper for one of his classes, so he’s had a lot of early mornings + late nights recently. I’m debating about making these for our date night. I just…ugh…they sound nasty. I’ve already shared my feelings about dates, but I’ve heard rave reviews about this recipe (talking to you, Audrey!), so I might give it a go.

And on a more serious note, I re-read this post yesterday entitled How to Keep Falling in Love With Your Husband. Really excellent.

I hope you all have a very wonderful weekend! If you’ve come across anything you love recently, please share in the comments – or let me know on facebook! I truly love to see what you’re up to!


All the Light We Cannot See :: a book review

You know I like reading. It’s why I recently did a book week (that turned into a few weeks).

I recently finished reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Have you read it?

all the light we cannot seeimage via

At almost 600 pages, the book was an intimidating size. But after hearing several people recommend it, I decided to see what all the hype was about.

After reading it in approximately 8 days, I recommend this book to you on the basis of 3 things:

  • writing style: Doerr’s descriptions of events/people were beautifully accurate. The kind of description you read and then smile because you can exactly picture what he’s intending to communicate.
  • themes: beautiful themes of right + wrong, light + dark, and the ability to see something wrongly not because of what it is but because of who you are. This quote is often repeated: “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”
  • suspense: I already mentioned I read this book in about a week. The reason why? suspense. cliffhangers. and the aforementioned writing style + themes.

I rarely give anything a blanket endorsement and this book is no exception. There are unsettling accounts of bullying, lying, and evil actions. The time period is World War II and there are gruesome stories involving some of the soldiers. But the evil is portrayed as wrong, right deeds are magnified, and in the end, one can’t help being on the side of the courageous heroes and heroines.

If you’re looking for a historical fiction book to read, definitely give All the Light We Cannot See a second look.

And if you need Christmas presents for children in your life, definitely snag one from this list. (Our current favorite is #14!)

Now tell me – are there any other historical fiction books you love?

My {very honest} review of StitchFix & a suggested alternative

Well, lookie there!

stichfix and a cheap alternative

This lovely StitchFix box was on my front porch Saturday when I came home from my half marathon. And even though I really wanted to rip open the box, I attempted to exercise restraint because I wanted to do a video of me opening it. That way, I figured you could share in the surprise + first reactions, you know? Here are the 5 things I got…

I have to decide by Wednesday what I’m going to keep/send back. If I had to put the items in order of what I liked most, here’s what it would be:

  1. black/white striped shirt
  2. live sweater
  3. jeans
  4. gold necklace
  5. black dress  … I hate to be harsh, but the dress doesn’t even register on my “like” scale. 

As I mentioned in the video, the only reason I tried StitchFix is because I had some referral credit – enough to snag 1 piece of clothing for free. So I figured I’d give it a go and see what the fuss was all about. Here are my thoughts about the process:

  • Exciting – Having a box of 5 clothes/accessories especially picked out for you being delivered to your door? SUPER exciting!! I love looking forward to special things, so having this box scheduled for delivery definitely was more exciting than, say, picking out my own clothes at the store.
  • Fun –  Like most of the world, I’ve never had my own personal stylist. So to try on clothes that someone else had picked out just for me was pretty awesome.
  • Risky – Gotta be honest, if I had been in the store, I never would have picked out that black dress much less tried it on. That’s part of the beauty of StitchFix – you try on things you wouldn’t normally, so it takes you out of your normal zone. Sometimes that’s a good thing. In this case, it was a waste of the 5th item. womp womp.
  • Expensive – Every time you get a box, there’s a $20 stylist fee involved. if you purchase anything, the $20 goes towards that purchase (yay!). But the clothes are pretty pricey. Especially for a girl who likes to shop at thrift stores and stretch gift cards. I have a hard time seeing the value of getting a regular shipment of pricey clothes I’m going to want to buy.

I have to decide in 2 days what I’m going to keep and send. If I keep nothing, I still take the $20 stylist fee out of my credit, so I’m planning to keep 1 item and am leaning towards the black/white striped shirt or olive sweater.

So that was my {very honest} review. Aaaand here’s my suggested alternative:

  1. Pick a friend. Someone who dresses well and you think has great taste. I mean, if you’re their friend, they obviously have good taste, right??
  2. Take them to a store. This could be the mall. Or a thrift store. Salvation Army half price day. Banana Republic. Whatever.
  3. Pick out 5 pieces of clothes for each other with the stipulation that you both must try on everything.
  4. Decide what to buy/put back on the rack. You don’t have to pay if you don’t keep anything. But maybe you should buy something anyway, especially if your friend with great taste says it looks good on you.
  5. Buy each other coffee in lieu of a stylist’s feethis is basically an excuse to have a coffee date with your friend.

And that, my friends, is how to do a form of Stitch Fix on the cheap.
You can improve your wardrobe, build a relationship on the way, and spend your $$ on something that matters a whole lot more than a great wardrobe.

Because a wardrobe – no matter how stellar – won’t last forever.

two. four. six.

We’re in birthday season over here. These cuties now claim title to the ages of 2, 4, and 6.



My sweet Miles is 2 and we might be in denial. I vividly remember the feeling of complete joy when he finally emerged. He loves talking (possibly even more than his sister), eating chicken (good thing because we have 40 lbs of it!), sucking his thumb, playing with animals and babies, and making music.


At only 2 years old, he has a hilarious sense of humor and loves to make his family laugh. We kinda love it too.


My 4 year old, Nate, would like to be the biggest person in the world. I’ve been trying to discourage him from such an aspiration, but he is constantly talking about wanting to be bigger than his friends & growing taller. He has an incredible imagination, enviable art skills, and a sensitive spirit. He went through a phase a while ago where he always wanted me to wear my hair down and got upset if I put it up. He regularly tells me I’m beautiful (even when I’ve just woken up) and loves his Daddy more than anyone else in the world. He loves to laugh and you can see just a peek into his fun personality from this expression:


My little princess just turned 6 and is the spunkiest child I have ever seen. Her energy for life is contagious and she has the uncanny ability to make friends wherever she goes. She loves books, games, puzzles, playing outside, cooking with Mommy & riding her bike. She can be super tough and has gotten into some pretty tough scrapes without making a whimper.

While I write this, she’s sitting next to me doing a puzzle so I just read my description to see what she thought. When I got to the end, she said, “Of course, Mommy. Of course I like cooking with you.”


3 little gems from the hand of my heavenly Father.

Thank you, God, for the gift of children – especially for my 3 treasures.
Help me to teach them to honor You & Your Word,
to live out the truth of the Gospel,
to obey in heart + not only deed.

Teach me to have a love with them that is patient and kind,
that doesn’t insist on its own way,
that isn’t irritable or resentful,
that bears, hopes, and believes all things.
Teach me to to love them like you love me.

What to Do With 40 Pounds of Chicken

Last week during our coffee chat, I mentioned that I had bought 40 pounds of farm fresh chicken. How does one deal with 40 pounds of chicken, you ask? Allow me to share – from personal experience – what to do with 40 pounds of chicken.

What can you do with FORTY pounds of chicken?? 3 steps to prepping large amounts of meat. Super practical + a great money saving ideas in this post, plus the cheapest place to buy organic chicken.

#1 – Prep your space.

I planned to freeze at least 90% of my chicken, so I made sure I had enough freezer bags + a working sharpie for the job.

What can you do with FORTY pounds of chicken?? 3 steps to prepping large amounts of meat. Super practical + a great money saving ideas in this post, plus the cheapest place to buy organic chicken.

I figured I better clear out some freezer space and took some time to wipe out the crud that inevitably finds it’s way to the bottom of my freezer. In the spirit of full and honest disclosure, I’m fairly certain I would not have taken time to wipe out my freezer crud if I had not been planning to take a picture for you. So… thank you for the motivation.

What can you do with FORTY pounds of chicken?? 3 steps to prepping large amounts of meat. Super practical + a great money saving ideas in this post, plus the cheapest place to buy organic chicken.

Then I got all over-achiever on myself and decided to label my bags before I even picked up my chicken. Good life choice, Christa.

What can you do with FORTY pounds of chicken?? 3 steps to prepping large amounts of meat. Super practical + a great money saving ideas in this post, plus the cheapest place to buy organic chicken.

#2 – Pick Up That Chicken

A few months ago, a couple friends mentioned this company called Zaycon where they bought farm raised, all natural meat for a deep discount. I was intrigued. I checked it out online, ran the idea by Jonathan, and we decided to buy a package of chicken. My pickup date was last Monday, so I drove to the pickup spot, rolled down my window to verify who I was, and opened my trunk. A man put a large box in my trunk, waved at me, and I started to drive away.

“Did he put chicken in our car?” my kids asked.
To which I helpfully responded, “Umm, I have no idea what he put in our car. I hope it was chicken!”

We got home and discovered that yes, in fact, it was chicken…and not a bomb.
I have an overactive imagination.

how to prep zaycon chicken5

#2.5 – Get Coffee.

Okay, this step is optional. I mean, mostly optional.

But there was a merging of 3 significant factors going on here:

post-sunday (aka monday) + 40 pounds of chicken to prep + 3 small children + a free drink at starbucks

I tend to be an annoying saver with free things like that. But due to those 4 factors, I decided today was the day. Venti dirty chai. And please – always order a venti when it’s free. I used to pretend to think the size over when I ordered because I didn’t want to come across as a total freeloader. And now I think, “Well of course I’m going to order the largest size possible since it’s free.” Next time I should see if they’ll give me a pitcher.

how to prep zaycon chicken4

#3 – Cut + Prep.

This involves clearing a large counter space and equipping it with a cutting board (of some sort) and a sharp knife. I have raved over my knife for years (number 3 on this list) and it’s worth raving over. You don’t want to mess with a dull knife when you’re prepping 40 pounds of chicken. Curly cutting board? Maybe. Dull knife? Nuh-uh.

how to prep zaycon chicken6

Excuse the rather gross picture of raw chicken.

how to prep zaycon chicken7

Several months ago, I started cutting my chicken into strips, covering it in italian dressing, and storing it in the freezer until I want to grill it. I planned to do that with 20 pounds of this chicken, so I used these italian dressing packets from Aldi to make my own marinade and save a little $.

What can you do with FORTY pounds of chicken?? 3 steps to prepping large amounts of meat. Super practical + a great money saving ideas in this post, plus the cheapest place to buy organic chicken.

These pieces of chicken were de-fatted and kept in the fridge until I was able to use them.

how to prep zaycon chicken10

I cooked the top 2 containers in the crockpot with some italian seasoning, then shredded + bagged it for future meals. I love having cooked & shredded chicken in the freezer that I can just pull out and use for soup, enchiladas (we love these), pizza, greek nachos, casseroles, calzones, etc.

What can you do with FORTY pounds of chicken?? 3 steps to prepping large amounts of meat. Super practical + a great money saving ideas in this post, plus the cheapest place to buy organic chicken.

The bottom container has been cut into small chunks. I used 1/3 of it in a crockpot meal of potatoes, carrots, and chicken with italian dressing seasoning. It was an experimental meal, but it turned out to be quite tasty. I’m planning to use the rest of the container for freezer meals. I love having bags of meals that I can just throw into a crockpot or in a pot on the stove and have dinner virtually made. Except I usually try to make rice, noodles, or a salad on the side. But sometimes I don’t and call it done. Or sometimes I break out the bag of baby carrots and call that a side. Because it totally is.

#3 – Store. Eat. Enjoy.

Take a look at all that chicken – already de-fatified, cut into strips, and marinating.

What can you do with FORTY pounds of chicken?? 3 steps to prepping large amounts of meat. Super practical + a great money saving ideas in this post, plus the cheapest place to buy organic chicken.

You know why it’s so beautiful to me? Because it means I can pull out a bag to thaw, grill it (I have this indoor grill), and have a delish + incredibly easy meal. I usually serve this grilled chicken on top of salads or in wraps. My whole family loves it, but especially my 2 year old. Clearly, this makes mama proud.

So far, we’ve only eaten 1 meal with the chicken, but it’s been delish so far. I’m considering trying some of their all natural ground beef in the future. I’ve also heard good things about their bacon. They have pork too, but we aren’t huge pork eaters. Or should I say we don’t eat a ton of pork? Whatever. We aren’t huge pork eaters. Nor do we eat a huge amount of pork.

And that, my friends, is my 3 step process for preparing 40 pounds of chicken. (4 steps if you count stopping for free coffee.)

Have you ever prepared a inordinately large amount of meat at one time? What tips would you add?