A Homemade Christmas


So, this Christmas I’m gonna give it a try. Make…most….gifts…. I know, I know. Crazy, right? Well, someone has to be crazy so it might as well be me!

The above photo is going to hold some of our Christmas cards this year. Hooray! I used a wooden round box top, corks and a glue gun. That’s it. Like really. Super easy.

I even have extra corks and plan to do some Pinteresty craft.

Other things I’m considering are lotion bars, mason jars full of cookies and treats, scarf wreaths, tent making kits, and jewelry.


And then there’s that candlemaking kit my husband got me like 10 years ago. Yep. Getting it out and doing it!

In my efforts to be intentional with gift-giving, I’m turning to the obvious, neglected things I have in my house. But things that people make are just special. I want my loved ones to feel special…unique…well-loved.

Leave a comment. Are you planning to make anything? What and why?

Happy crafting!

Surprised By Homeschooling


There are few things in this life that surprise me. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. Maybe it’s that I rarely admit that I’m surprised. Maybe that’s it. But one thing that has taken me by surprise as of lately is homeschooling.

I’m at the point in my journey (a serious veteran of 3 whole months – woot, woot!) here where I am turning a corner. A good corner. I’m completely floored that it’s working. I’m completely floored that my 7-year-old and I get along and that she listens to my instruction. I know, you don’t take me for one of those “my kids don’t listen to me” parents. Or maybe you do and you are just glad I’m finally coming around {we can internet high-five now} to this realization.

But it’s deeper than that. {Isn’t it always?}

I’m not surprised that my daughter is learning and – I think – thriving.

Somehow in the midst of the chaos of life, the math worksheets, the bouncing around places, the reading and kid writing…she and I have grown closer. We’ve bonded. I feel like she gets me more. And I get her.


When I go places now without her, she’s sad to see me go. She comes up and gives me hugs randomly throughout our day. Out of nowhere she’ll wrap her arms around me and hug me and tell me how much she loves me. Maybe if I’m particularly lucky, a kiss on the cheek.

I totally didn’t expect this. I kind of thought things could get ugly. Not fist fight ugly, but tense. She and I are both really stubborn. She has opinions that are different from mine. {How dare she!} I thought for sure by November there was a serious possibility that it might be clear that next year she’d go back to public school. But I’m not thinking like that at all.

We are in a totally different place than I envisioned. I’m so surprised.

Another thing….I kind of like teaching her. I know. It’s preposterous, right?

The Lord in his great kindness has steadied my heart on more than one occasion and given me patience when I have called out, “Help!!! I’m losing it!” And those moments when I have to calm myself and maybe even apologize (I’ve done a lot of that the last few months, mind you), I find such joy and such closeness with my sweet girl. We hug. We smile. We work it out and it’s so…. beautiful.

Having her precious presence with me causes me to slow down.

We are part of a co-op school that is WONDERFUL. You can find out more about them here. Lily goes there all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We are home doing “school” Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. The break is good for us and she LOVES her friends and classes there. She’s learning a lot. She’s also learning that she has to be responsible for her things. Teachers don’t hover over her to make sure every little thing is remembered. It’s like she’s been shoved out of the nest a little yet still very much remaining in the nest. I find myself missing her but loving that she gets instructions with other students in a great atmosphere.


{This is Lily and her co-op class called Character Counts – and her brother who was visiting that day}

As I come and go into the building, I’m surprised by how normal everyone is. Like me normal. Okay, maybe that’s not right. They are like real people normal. All different but still really down to earth and cool. I had this idea that other than the very few homeschool families I knew in my college years (who were UH-MAZING), families that homeschooled were off. You know, strange. Made their own clothing. Drank soy milk. Had introverted children who were wicked smart. Grew their own veggies from seed and the moms had their entire attention on all things in the home.

You’re thinking I just described our family, right? Hehe, that’s funny. We are sooo far from that reality, it’s comical.

May I present you with Exhibit numero uno below. Does this look like a normal family to you? I rest my case.

Exhibit A Numero Uno

CYMERA_20141031_172718 (2)

Exhibit B


Exhibit C


Oh and lest we forget that other thing that’s been on my mind. It seems to be working for me to teach her AND still work.

Weird…right? I know!

So that’s me right now totally surprised by homeschooling. I don’t know what will happen next year. Will little brother come home or stay in public school? Will she stay home with me or go back?

One day at a time.

But for now, I like being surprised. Surprised to know that my daughter and I have figured out how to learn together. Honestly, I thinks she teaches me more than I teach her.

And that is totally not surprising.


aka IntentionalGirl

The Town We Love

Big leaf

I have a love for my town. We live on the east coast in a little steel town in southeastern PA. We love it here. My husband and I chose this town way back in 2002 because it was cheap. That was pretty much the criteria. And now 14 years later (gulp!) it’s the town we LOVE.
We love it so much that if we ever think about moving, we think about how we could somehow muster up most of our wish list into a house in our town. Our town has sidewalks. We walk everywhere. Living in what this area calls the “borough” means that we can pretty much walk anywhere we need and not use our car. The grocery store (it’s far but feasible). Restaurants. The bank. Small boutiques. The park. The library. The hospital. Dunkin Donuts (come on, it’s fun to be so close!). Coffee shops. Bike trails.

Recently we took a walk – which was my husband’s smart idea – down to an area our town is renovating. Turns out there’s a path down there now. The kids took their bikes and binoculars and we had a really nice time as a family just getting outside.

bird watching Craig and Steph BW French Creek IMG_8701 IMG_8718 IMG_8719 IMG_8777 Leaves Lily and Ben my love

We need to do this more. Enjoy the beauty around us. What a reminder to me (since, if I’m honest, I wanted to stay home and get some projects done) to spend intentional  time with my sweet family. They will remember these moments (hopefully…) for the rest of their lives. And so will I. 
Pville French Creek

I have a slew of other posts planned as I try to make my comeback to this much-neglected blog of mine. Stay tuned…


I am always amazed at how time flies. Like fast. Real fast. All the time.

This has been a particularly busy summer for us. The Outer Banks for a week. Georgia for a big family reunion. The lake house with family. Lots of travels.




And here we are. It’s back to school time. We’ve wandered into the amazing and daunting world of homeschooling this year. Yes, your eyes aren’t failing you. Yes, this was another intentional decision by our family. It’s been in the works since January when our 1st grader started coming home complaining about school and using words like “boring” and “hate” to describe her day.

After many months of asking friends who homeschool about this world, stalking other bloggers on the topic, praying and asking the Lord for direction on this topic…we landed at trying this for at least a year. My job allows me the flexibility to do this (yes even with Real Estate!) and we’re forging forward determined to have a great year. Little brother started kindergarten at our local public charter school and while we miss him we are acclamating to our schedule so it’s helpful to only have 1 child at home right now. We are participating in a wonderful co-op on Tuesdays and Thursdays which I’m also excited about.

First day of kindergarten…


So why, right? Well, our Lily is sweet and smart, albeit slightly distractable in social settings, and it’s a shame for her not to like learning. We want her to thrive, not just muddle through eyes rolled in the back of her head. As of this very moment, it’s just for a year. But who knows. Maybe it’s gonna last longer.

And as a result, we have room changes. Ben moves to a new room so his can be the office/homeschool room. His new room lacked some things like a heat source (important in PA?) so we are in the midst of changes.


And since the carpet was dirty and ugly…well, we ripped it out.


Soon to be homeschool room…


And since we clearly don’t have enough projects my wonderful and ever-so-talented husband is making Benjamin a new loft bed.


(It was assembled outside just to make sure it all fit – this is not going to be a tree house though a very cool idea!)


Here I am. The professional painter getting to work.

And lastly, as if we didn’t have enough change, our church closed in the spring and as of tonight we are members of a new church, which we love (if you are interested here’s info about it – http://www.ironworkschurch.org). We are so loving the fellowship with this new body of folks and the joy it has brought to our family. {Psst…they sing songs like this from our new favorite group, Rend Collective}.

Thanks for reading. Happy Labor Day weekend y’all!


Today’s theme: less words, more photos.

We are at it again. Slowly.

I took the kiddos with me to work Saturday and my amazing husband managed to take down the Hollywood lights so stylishly donning our bathroom wall and replace them with these sconce fixtures.


So without further ado…







Wonder how long it’ll take us to patch the hole in the middle?

Next on the agenda? The long awaited, dreaded decision on wall color. Now that we have the mirrors in there with the lights we feel we can make a decision. Or at least that’s the thinking.

It’s spring and around these parts (side note – lots of cool bloggers use that term and I’m not ashamed to steal borrow it)… We think about lots of things.
Cleaning up sticks….


Daffodils that just bloomed…


The crocus that open up every morning…


My creeping Jenny that are coming back to life under a sea of dead leaves…


And we think about Easter. We are trying to think more about this topic with our family. I usually don’t post a ton about this topic because for us, it’s woven into our lives. We don’t go to church – we are part of a body, a family. We don’t have to read our Bible – we want the Lord to change our hearts and we know His words to us are far better than anything we can come up with.

Easter is a beautiful time of year.

So I’m constantly thinking about how can I think His thoughts. And we want the same for our kids. The other day before school we made a list of things we think about when we think of Easter.


We purchased Amanda White’s ebook that gives great craft ideas that are – wait for it – intentionally helping our family think about and discuss the Easter story for two weeks. We made a perfume bottle using a jar, skewers, essential oil and stickers {shown below in the top left corner of the photo}. It reminds us of the woman who poured perfume on Jesus feet shortly before he died.


We really are thinking about Jesus all the time and I love that.

So that’s what we’ve been up to these days.

How do you create purposeful conversations and moments with your loved ones this time of year?


Well, we are back at it again with our bathroom. After a very long hiatus we are finally moving forward with the finishing touches. We found these amazing windows at a salvage barn near us. The funny thing is that the business is primarily a glass business but in the process he collects a lot of old things and resells to the public.


So we were there one day looking for something else and told Jim about our project in our bathroom. He says to me,

What about these old windows that were taken out of a church that are up in the attic? Let’s go take a look at them because I think they would be perfect for what you described!

And sure enough. Perfect!

We took the windows over a year ago {ahem, slackers here} with the intention of cleaning them up – sanding, cleaning, sealing. Well after a long pause we FINALLY delivered them to my buddy Jim. He called today and said they were done.

Not only did we recycle something from days long ago (my fave!) but we also got a pretty good deal too. $60 each which included him removing the old glass and cutting mirror (remember the top portion is rounded so it’s not something we could easily do) and finishing up the back so it’s covered and ready with wire for hanging.

What do you think?


Next on the list is paint for the walls and  painting the medicine cabinet over the toilet black. Oh and yes we will hang the mirrors too. I was just too excited and had to see them in the room asap!

Hope to be back soon to show you our progress!



How we celebrate life

Right now I’m pausing to tell you how I’ve spent the week celebrating the gift of my now 5 year old.

Have I told you what a joy he is? He really is. We love him so and got to have a fun week with him.

Monday was St Patrick’s Day and his teacher at preschool is from Ireland (and did you know that I really adore Ireland so that makes her extra special!)… so Ben and another friend got to be the king and queen of the “paddies”. Highlight was the crown he got the wear and standing on a table. We also shared cupcakes on this day too.


Tuesday, a playdate with a friend and dinner at Chick-Fil-A. Fast forward to his birthday on Wednesday. Leader and share person at school, playdate with another friend, Pioneer Club (think Boy Scouts with a Christian theme) and yet more cupcakes and then opening presents from mom and dad.


Now today I’m decorating for the big party on Saturday. We are having it at our church so the kids have plenty of room to run around.


Listening to great music on Pandora…


Using my free batman-themed printables from Pinterest…


…some boxes a friend gave me recently. ..


Really want it to be special without spending a ton. He’s worth it. I love celebrating life!



How in the world do you go green without turning into a hippie? How do you transition into using products that are healthier and safer without turning into a crunchy tree-hugging person?

I’ve posted about my desire to go “green” before but I wanted to share an update about some little things we are doing to change things up in our family.

We tried in the past and failed. I wanted to do the cloth diaper thing but we couldn’t get it together. I have tried other natural things in the past and burned out before I could get into a routine.

It’s important to tell you the secret to this. It takes time. Little by little. NOT am overnight adventure.


First I still reference this great book called Green Up Your Cleanup. She includes tons of ideas and recipes about how to make your own detergents and cleaners. Using natural cleaners like vinegar amd baking soda are what make up a lot of her book.


One thing I’ve removed from our home entirely is bleach. We do not use it at all. Everything I’ve read about this chemical has left me with the conclusion that we can clean and disinfect with other things. And we do. Essential oils can actually help with that task. Getting white clothes clean? We use washing soda, Borax or a similar oxygen based product like Oxy Clean or Charlie’s Soap. Works great.


Another thing I’ve done is I’ve tried to use towels and rags instead of paper towels. Waste from paper towels is mostly unnecessary when I use a towel and wash it. I still buy paper towels but am making a conscious effort to use them sparingly. It saves us money too! I purchased both of these for $2.00 at the Dollar Tree.

I bought castile soap and I use it as shampoo, hand soap and add to cleaning solutions.


I am experimenting with my own homemade “shampoo”. Technically it’s called no-poo because it doesn’t have the harsh detergents in them. For a conditioner I’ve toyed around with coconut oil and a cider vinegar and essential oil/water mix. Still working out the details but so far so good.



I also keep a container of baking soda in the bathroom and have used to scour the shower/tub. Works wonderfully and super cheap and no smell!

I’m trying to avoid using plastic bags and disposable containers. Instead I use these…


So, we’re fumbling along but I like to do what we can to be natural and kind to our earth.

You, too, can go green without changing your personality.

Once I work out my hair care regimen I plan to write something about that too.

Leave me a comment. How do you go green? I want to hear ideas!


Perhaps I’m old fashioned but I like sending thank you cards. I know,  yawn.
But in an effort to be intentional and let people know that I’m appreciative, I’m on a mission to make this a priority this year.

It doesn’t even have to be fancy. You can take a piece of card stock and cut it in half, write


on the front and then proceed with your note. Forget about spending $4-5 per card at Hallmark, just do your own thing.

The point is, in our busy world of electronic everything, take the time to say thanks to someone or perhap send a congratulations more to a new mom. I LOVE getting snail mail. It’s like the best thing ever.

How can you express thankfulness to the people in your life today?

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