A Day In the Life (Norah, Lillian, and Henry)

There are certain chapters in life that you just know aren’t going to stick around for very long.  I am currently in one of those chapters.

Norah is five.  Lillian is three.  Henry is a puppy.

In a few weeks, school will be over, and the older two will return to our daily lives.  In the fall, Norah will start kindergarten, and it will just be Lillian at home with me (and Henry).  This little dynamic we have going right now is fleeting quickly, never to return, and our days together have a unique flavor that is both funny and sweet.

Here are a few glimpses of how our days look.

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We start our day by getting dressed.  Lillian is still figuring out how clothes work, and sometimes she comes in to ask me to help her unbutton her jeans so she can pull them up, while holding her underwear in her hand.  Getting dressed can be complicated.

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Since the days have warmed up a bit, there is lots of outside playing.  Especially since the big kids aren’t around to see who plays with what.

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Of course, we have to take care of our babies.  Shhhhhhhh.  This one is sleeping.

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Without fail, there are always errands to run.  Target trips happen frequently, and this is our current cart configuration.  Lillian sits in the front, Norah in the back.  We always take advantage of the free cookie from the bakery.  Lillian likes her owl hat.

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When left to their own creativity, these two come up with some awesome ideas and tricks.  This is a picture of Norah and Lillian performing their most recent trick called “The Candle.”  See how they have formed a candle together?  Makes me want to sing, “This Little Light of Mine.”

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Some days we lounge a bit more than others.  Norah loves to stay in her pajamas.  Lillian usually changes into a costume of some sort.  Today she is Rapunzel.  And let me help you understand what’s happening in this photo.  Lillian is “reading” the NIV Worship Bible (which has zero pictures).  Norah is flipping through a cupcake cook book “handing out recipes to all her children” while sitting on a giant pillow throne.

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What you see here is Norah using a recording toy microphone to capture clips of herself singing an original song, or reporting what just happened.  Her sign off is, “This is Norah Paige Sasser reporting live.”  I can legitimately see this being the beginning of a future career choice.

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Hide and seek happens a lot.  The laundry hamper is Lillian’s go-to hiding place.


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Lillian has a very special relationship with Henry.  Lillian has always been very…aggressive?…with her affection for things or people that she loves.  Violent kisses and strong hugs are a normal thing with her.  She extends this to Henry, and can be found on the ground with him, squeeling his name, taking his ears in her hands, pulling his face towards hers.  They are like two peas in a pod

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I found her like this one evening after baths just whispering to him how much she loves him.

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Sometimes all this love wears Henry out, and he finds a cozy hole to tuck away for a nap.  Norah likes to wrap him up in a blanket so he’s as comfortable as possible.


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By the time we get in the car to go pick up the big kids, Lillian is wiped.  It takes about thirty seconds for her to assume her normal afternoon car posture.

My favorite part of our dynamic can’t be shown with a picture.  It happens in the conversations that go on between the two of them, made even cuter by Lillian’s sweet little lisp.  Norah is definitely the ring leader, and Lillian is her loyal subject.  Lillian doesn’t mind though.  She happily and gratefully accepts anything Norah gives her, and then compliments her for her kindness.  It goes something like this:

Lillian:  Noh-wah.  Noh-wah.

Norah:  What, Lillian?

Lillian:  Can I borrow your kitty?

Norah:  (Sigh.) I guess.  But just for naps.  Not for keeps.

Lillian:  Thank you, Noh-wah.  You are tho kind.

Norah is “tho kind,” and Lillian is “tho thweet.”  And I love these quickly-disappearing days we get to spend together.

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Weeknight Wonder {Roasted Pork Tacos}

Before we talk about dinner, I need to say a few things.  First, thank you for all the amazingly supportive comments, texts, emails, and messages you sent me after Monday’s post.  I so appreciate your compliments.  This is me…smiling and saying, “Thank you!”

Second, thank you for all the kitchen questions you sent my way.  In fact, they were so helpful, I have decided to rework my original plan and postpone it a tiny bit so I can better answer what you want to know.  I can promise you this, though.  If you asked a question, I will answer it.  Don’t give up on me…the answers are coming!

Now, on to dinner!

No two ways about it.  Pork Tacos are not only delicious, but they are incredibly hard to mess up.

I speak from experience.  Just last week I served Pork Tacos to my family for dinner.  The only problem was I bought the wrong cut of meat, and I didn’t have the right spice rub.  I pressed on, despite two strikes against me.  You know what happened?  Dinner was a home run.  The meat was both flavorful and tender, thanks to what I like to call “Pork Math.”

Seasoned Pork + Low Heat + Long Cooking Time = Success Every Time

First, make sure your roasting pan is covered with foil to make clean up easy.  And if you have a rack to place in the bottom of the pan, this is a good time to use it.  If not, it’s fine.  (I was cooking for a very large crowd when I took these pictures, so you are looking at two roasts.)

Next, you rub a whole mess of spice rub on the meat and drizzle it with a little olive oil.

Then, you pop it in the oven and cook it in a low oven for a long time.  Theoretically, I really think you could use your crock pot here and have good results.  I’ve just never tried it.

Many hours later, when the meat comes out of the oven, it is fork-tender and mouth-watering.

Look at that delicious crust.  Mmmmmmm.

I like to fix mine in a corn tortilla with fresh pico de gallo, sour cream, feta cheese, lots of fresh cilantro, and a nice squeeze of lime.  I also like mine with a nice healthy dollop of guacamole.  Of course, I like a nice healthy dollop of guacamole with my cereal in the morning, but it pairs especially nicely with the Pork Tacos.

One of the best things about Pork Tacos is all the left over meat!  Pork Sandwiches, Pork Quesadillas, Pork Nachos…there are lots of options for future dinners.  You can also freeze the leftover meat and save it for another day, which is always nice to have in the middle of a busy week.  And lately, doesn’t every week seem busy?

Hope you have a lovely Wednesday, busy or not.

Click below for the recipe.

{Pork Tacos}

 

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Things I Want My Daughters To Know {compliments}

daughters logo

Compliments are gifts we give to other people.  Our words are powerful expressions of inward feelings and thoughts, and compliments can be a tiny slice of sunshine on a cloudy day.  Compliments are kind to say, and they are a delight to hear, but so many times we mess it all up with what we say in response to a compliment.

To my daughters, here is what I want you to know.

It is easy to give compliments.  It is an art to receive them.

Most scenes go like this:

“Your house looks so pretty!”

“Oh, well, we have so much more work to do.  I mean, the bathroom grout is coming out.”

OR…

“This chocolate cake is delicious!”

“Well, it was so easy.  I mean, I just didn’t have time to do something fancy.”

OR…

“Your hair looks so cute!”

“Well, I really need a haircut, and my roots are showing.”

OR…

 ”You did a great job sharing your testimony at Bible study last week.”

“Well, I don’t know.  I mean, I really botched up this one part, and I should have talked slower.  I was nervous.”

No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.

This is not receiving a compliment.  This is arguing with a compliment.  Receiving a compliment is as much about the giver of the compliment as it is about you.

Let me say that again.

Receiving a compliment is as much about the giver of the compliment as it is about you.  

It takes strength of character and fortitude of mind to fully receive the gift of someone else’s kind words.  Why?  Because in order to graciously receive a compliment, you have to cease thinking of yourself, even though you are the focal point of the statement.

It seems like a compliment should be all about you.  I mean, someone is bringing up something they like about something you did.  It would logically follow that the whole thing is about you.  RIght?  Wrong.  Paradoxically, graciously receiving a compliment requires you to consider the other person above yourself, even though you are momentarily the center of their attention.

I understand why people respond with rebuttals when complimented.  We don’t want to appear self-centered.  We don’t want to seem proud.  We want to appear humble.  Or, at times, we really don’t believe good things about ourselves and have absolutely no idea how anyone else would either.

The art of compliment-receiving requires us to set all that aside.

Think of it this way.  When you are paid a compliment, and then respond by explaining it away, you are telling the person who issued the kind words, “You are wrong.”  Very few people like being told they are wrong.  All those “humble” statements you issue actually make a case for why the other person’s assessment of you is inaccurate and their opinion is incorrect.  In essence, you take their compliment and turn it into an insult, and that, dear daughters, is very rude.  Let’s not be rude.

Here is how to graciously hear and receive a compliment.

“I love how cozy your living room looks!”

(smile) “Thank you!”

“Gosh, this lasagna is amazing!”

(smile) “Thank you!”

“Look how beautiful you are!”

(smile) “Thank you!”

“You are doing a really great job.”

(smile)  ”Thank you!”

The formula is simple:  Smile and say thank you.

That’s it.  The end.  No qualifications or justifications or excuses.

Smile and say thank you.

In doing so, you are allowing someone else to love you with kind words, and you are extending grace to them by valuing their opinion, even if you don’t agree or feel uncomfortable believing what they say.  You aren’t being proud.  You aren’t being self-focused.  You are being thankful.  And gratitude is always lovely.

Smile and say thank you.

It is simple, but it is not easy.  I have gritted my teeth and curled my toes at times to keep from gushing forth all sorts of disclaimers and reasons why someone shouldn’t think complimentary thoughts about me.  But over time it has become much easier.  I still tell myself “smile and say thank you smile and say thank you smile and say thank you” every time someone tells me something complimentary.  And it’s getting easier to receive.

Daughters, you are lovely, beautiful, smart, special, loved, talented, and all together wonderful.

Smile and say thank you.

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Friday Favorite {week 2}

friday favorite logoI would like to submit an amendment to my previously outlined guidelines for Friday Favorite posts.  Last week I stated these posts would be my “favorite thing from the web from the past week.”  I would like to change that verbiage to “my favorite thing from the web that I found this past week.”  What’s the difference?  Date of publication.  If a post was published a year ago, but but I didn’t find it until this week, it is eligible to be a Friday Favorite post.  Everyone cool with that?  Awesome.

Glad we got the legalities of this silly thing out of the way.

Glad I take myself seriously enough to consider there might be legalities involved.

Geesh.

This week’s Friday Favorite is a post called 100 Rules of Dinner.  It is written by the husband-wife team from the website Dinner:  A Love Story (aka:  DALS).  The website is great, and I found this post to be particularly entertaining.  In fact, I was sitting at the table with two of my kids while reading this post, and could not stop laughing out loud.  They both rushed to look at the computer, and did not understand how a screen full of words was making me laugh.  But it was.  And I was.  Heartily.

I declared, “YES!” more than once while reading the list (#63, #11, #91).

I more than once thought, “I could be friends with these folks” (#38, #87, #3, #42).

I also audibly gasped and dropped my jaw at one item that I vehemently disagree with (#44).

This list is going in my favorites folder for future reference slash entertainment.  Gold star well-deserved by the DALS team.  Hope you enjoy this nugget as much as I did.

Have a wonderful weekend…

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Breakfast Cookies

If you missed yesterday’s post, please click over and check it out.  I need your kitchen-related questions.  All those quandaries you’ve never voiced?  Now’s your chance.

Now, on to the good stuff.  Breakfast Cookies.

You heard right.  Cookies for breakfast.

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Here’s the skinny.  This isn’t dessert masquerading as breakfast simply because it’s served in the morning.  I know that trick.  Blueberry Crumb Cake.  Baked French Toast.  Chocolate Chip Scones.  Come on, people.  Just because you serve eggs with cake doesn’t mean it isn’t cake.

Most breakfast baked goods are technically dessert (which I fully accept and endorse on a weekly basis).  Not Breakfast Cookies.  They are legitimate start-your-day-right food.  Just look at everything that goes into them:

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Whole wheat flour, oatmeal, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, and coconut…just to name a few of the star performers.

In an effort to even further legitimize baking cookies for breakfast, I did something I have never ever done, and I may never do it again (so enjoy this one-time event).  I calculated the nutritional information for you!

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This recipe makes 16 very large cookies (my kids eat half of one and are full, ditto me), and each cookie has just over 300 calories.  Plus 6 grams of protein and lots of whole grain goodness.

Ugh.  Enough already.

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You know what?  Breakfast cookies are delicious, and they are dang convenient too. Here’s why.

As with my Chocolate Chip Cookies, the best way to keep these cookies fresh is to store them in the freezer.  When you need breakfast on the go, take one from the freezer, nuke it for 20 seconds, and bam! you have fresh-baked taste first thing in the morning.  With one batch you can have lots and lots of breakfasts ready to go and waiting for you in the freezer.  Double it and you won’t fix breakfast for a month.  Sure beats a pop tart!

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Just look at all that delicious texture and baked-in goodness!  Crunchy, sweet, chewy.  And perfectly complimented by a cup of tea or a dark cup of coffee.

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Happy Breakfasting!  Click below for the recipe!

{Breakfast Cookies}

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Help Please

Hope your Monday is off to a lovely start!  I’m about to clean out some closets and do laundry, right after I reheat my coffee for the fourth time and empty the dishwasher.  All glamour, all the time.

And now, a word from Mr. Maguire.

I couldn’t resist a little Tom and Cuba YouTube magic this morning.

Help me.  Help you.

Here’s what I need.

In between all my glamourous life events (see above), I am busy working on a series of posts to share some of my favorite kitchen tricks, tips, and tools with you.  I had everything mapped out, but then last week something unexpected happened.

After sharing my recipe for Pot Roast, I received a text from a friend asking what a dutch oven is and how you use one.  Turns out this friend also wants to know how to chop an onion and how to prepare multiple dishes at the same time.  Aren’t those great questions?

And then I got to thinking, “Hmmmmmmmmmmm, maybe other people have questions too!”

If you like to ask questions, here is your chance!

Please help me help you by submitting your kitchen-related questions.

Anything is fair game.

Nothing is off limits.

  The sooner the better!

You can ask your question in the comment section below, or click the contact me button on the right.  Or send an email to info {at} katherinesasser {dot} com.

I can’t wait to hear from YOU!

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Friday Favorite {week 1}

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Fridays are full of fun!  And starting today, Fridays will be all about awarding a gold star to my favorite thing from the web for the week.  It’s kind of going to be like a my own weekly awards show!

Today’s Friday Favorite comes to you from…Not Without Salt!

(applause applause applause.  swelling music.  humble acceptance speech.  smug looks from other blogs.  celebrity after-party.)

I found Not Without Salt literally three days ago, and I was hooked.  Besides having a great title, the photos are beautiful, the content is killer, and the recipes look like the real deal.

Specifically, the gold star this week is awarded to Wednesday’s post from Not Without Salt.  Please pop over and read it.  I think it’s pretty fabulous.  It is my favorite piece of the web this week because…

1.  The post is from a series called Dating My Husband.  What’s not to love?

2.  I’m already cheering for this girl.  She shares some really big news, and I found myself welling up with pride and excitement (for a complete stranger!) as she told me all about it.

3.  The dessert featured in the post is gold-star-worthy all by itself.

4.  She references Bird by Bird, and I feel a special kind of kinship to people who have read and love that book.

5.  Her exciting news, which I won’t spoil here, grew out of something she was already doing as a part of her normal life.  I love when passionate pursuits turn into profitable projects.  I also love alliteration.

This post hit all the right notes for me.  I smiled.  I cried happy tears.  I was inspired.  I can’t wait to cook an absurdly complicated dessert.  Heck, it was better than Cats.  A gold star is well-deserved!

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Weeknight Wonder {Pot Roast and Mashed Potatoes}

 

Let’s talk about Pot Roast and Mashed Potatoes.

Truly, I could write a novella on each of these items.  I’ll skip it, and instead tell you there are a million different versions of pot roast, and this one is the best I’ve ever found.  Don’t be surprised if it brings a tear to your eye, reminding you of home and all that is right with the world.  Meltingly tender meat in a rich, flavorful sauce, this is top notch, top shelf, best-in-class kind of pot roast.

Full disclosure:  It is a little involved.  Not difficult.  But there are more steps than “dump it all in the crock pot and walk away,” which is probably why it actually tastes like something you’d be excited to eat.  Go figure.

And mashed potatoes.  Can we all agree that we don’t eat mashed potatoes because they are good for you?  They are a white starchy “vegetable,” boiled until soft, and then mixed with a variety of dairy products and salt.  The potatoes are basically a delivery system for salted dairy.  I am not going to apologize for using real butter and half-and-half.  It tastes good.  I dare you to trade quantity for quality and eat a small portion of my full-throttle version instead of a heaping mound of the kind made with all that why-bother, fat-free nonsense.

These are leeks.  I am showing you what they look like because this recipe calls for leeks, and maybe you’ve never met a leek.

Leek, these are my readers.

Readers, these are the leeks.

You guys are going to be great friends.

Leeks are in the onion and garlic family, but they aren’t spicy or as pungent.  Think of them as the onion’s sweeter, milder niece.  Or garlic’s gentle grandma.  Whatever works for your imaginary vegetable family tree.

To use leeks, lop off the dark green leaves, then lop off the root.  Split them down the middle…

…and slice them into chunks.  Leeks are grown in sandy soil, so you need to rinse them to get rid of any grit.  Because as much as I love grits, nothing will ruin a pot roast faster than grit.

In case you missed that nugget of obvious truth, grits and grit are not the same thing.


Here is one of my most favorite-ist tips.  When the potatoes are finished cooking…

…use a spider or slotted spoon to remove the potatoes from the water (instead of draining the potatoes in a colander) and put the potatoes directly into your mixing bowl.  Leave the water in the pan, but turn off the heat.

(Pause.  These photos were taken in my old kitchen, and I’m having a bit of a nostalgic moment remembering that sweet house.  Is it normal to be emotionally attached to a stove?  Probably not.)

Once you have mixed the potatoes with all the lovely dairy ingredients and salt, cover the bowl with foil, and stick it back into the hot water in the pan.  The potatoes will stay warm for a loooooooong time while you get everything else ready for dinner.

I usually just serve them from my mixing bowl, keep them in the hot water bath, and then they are still piping hot when people go back for seconds.  Seconds are a normal thing when these mashed potatoes are on the menu.

Don’t be alarmed.  This isn’t prison food.  This is what top-shelf pot roast looks like.  Sure, it’s begging to be styled up a bit or shot in more flattering light, but let’s just go with it.  When the roast is finished cooking, you are going to remove it from the pot and place it in a dish whilst you finish the sauce.  Believe me, it’s delicious as is.

But it’s even better covered in the sauce you are going to make from all the pan drippings and vegetables.  Can you even see the meat under all that killer gravy?  Oh my gosh, my mouth just watered.  An involuntary physical response to an incredibly unattractive photograph should be an indicator to you of how great this tastes.

Meat.  Potatoes.  Incredible.  See how I didn’t even muddy the waters by adding in a green vegetable?  True story, we ate this for dinner last night.  It’s good every time.

And can we talk about the leftovers for one minute?  I highly recommend giving the Pot Roast Sandwich a try (bread, mayo, pot roast, cheese, pickles).  Timm Sasser has perfected this little piece of heaven between two slices of bread, and it is reason alone to make pot roast in the first place.

You can also take all this lovely sauce, cook up some fettuccini noodles the next night, and cover them with the leftover sauce.  Pot roast and mashed potatoes one night plus hearty pasta dish the next night equals two dinners for the price of one.  Win-win.


Click below for the recipe!

{Pot Roast}

{Mashed Potatoes}

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Things I Want My Daughters To Know {Introduction}

daughters logoHaving daughters is an honor.  Mothering them is equally complicated and wonderful, and at times, fascinating.  I’ve watched my own daughters play dress-up, host tea parties, rock their babies, tap away on their toy laptops and call it “work,” design rooms and outfits, plan elaborate events, perform concerts in our living room, and decorate doorknobs with ribbon for different occasions.  They are tiny wonders, waiting and wanting to be all grown up.

I am simultaneously horrified and humbled by the process of raising daughters, especially when I see them mimicking and mirroring me in ways I didn’t expect.

Norah, like, why are you, like, using the word “like,” like all the time?

Annie, it’s on my list of things to do today to ask you where you learned to make a list for everything.

Lillian, you don’t need to bring three bags with you in the car.  Can you help me carry my three bags to the car? 

They watch.  They learn.

I have, for several years now, amassed an imaginary check list of things I want my daughters to know.  If I’m honest, it is fueled by the fear of my sudden and tragic demise.  Who will tell them all the things I would want them to know if I were suddenly gone?  Morbid, but true.

Things I Want My Daughters To Know is my effort to intentionally begin to chronicle and capture all those little treasures my motherly hearts wants my girls to know.  As it stands now, most of the topics I want to cover (yes, I have a list) are very practical in nature, perhaps a bit amusing or unexpected.  Things like “don’t pick your nose,” and the like.

It goes without saying (as I proceed to say it anyways) that in addition to wanting them to know not to pick their nose, I want them to also know things like how much Jesus loves them, and that contentment can’t be found in anything other than a relationship with Him.  But I feel confident that there are scads of people out there who can teach them this if I were to be struck by lightening or fall down a well.  I stupidly (also fair to insert any of the following adverbs: pridefully, arrogantly, foolishly, et.al.)  think that I am the only woman in their life who will ever tell them it’s bad form to pick their nose.  Like I have a monopoly on motherly advice or something.  Or, perhaps a more accurate assessment of my assumptions is that if I were to no longer exist, my daughters would somehow slip beyond the reach of my Father’s provision and love for them, and they would walk through this life picking their nose and not knowing any better.

Huh.  Have to admit, I didn’t see all that coming.  Writing brings the yucky dross right on up to the surface, doesn’t it?  I might need to repent of my motives and remind myself of some truth about God and His sovereignty.  Let me go ahead and add that to my list of “Things I Want Myself To Know.”

All my erring motives aside, I will assume you get the point about what I want these post to be.

What I don’t want them to turn into is a soap box.  These posts are not my way of banging my drum and selling anyone on why my opinion is the right one.  It is the subjective nature of opinion that, by definition, leaves everyone open to form their own, including you, and including my daughters.  I want my girls to think for themselves and freely live their own lives one day.  But, as their mother, I want to add my opinion and perspective to their arsenal of information and contributing factors that they will use to determine why and how they make decisions.

It’s not that I expect them to think like me, but I want them to know why I think the way that I do.

I also think these posts will provide interesting fodder for conversation and the opportunity for you to chime in along the way via the comments below.  Maybe you think “don’t pick your nose” is awful advice.  I’d love to hear why.  Or maybe you wish your own mother had taught you not to pick your nose.  I bet you have a funny story about how you learned that the hard way.  Or maybe you agree that nose picking is a no-no.  It’s always good to hear encouraging words from fellow mothers and daughters.  Let’s dive into this together!

So, now I can, like, cross this post off my, like, to-do list, but I, like, can’t remember which bag I put my list in.  Here’s to mothering!

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Easter {2013} and a Milestone

First, the milestone.  Today is my 100th post!  One hundred little nuggets.  One hundred tiny tales.  One hundred specks of sparkle cast out into the vast sea of cyber-space.

I’m usually very good slash obsessive about anticipating and planning for grand events, but this one wasn’t even on my radar until after I published yesterday’s post.  And it’s too bad, because it would have been fun to do a giveaway or something special to celebrate today.  But since I don’t have anything at the ready, I think I will just surprise you one day with a belated 100th Post Party.  Look at me being all casual and not caring about the timing.  So low-maintenace and laid back.  (My husband just read those words and did a spit-take.)

We had a lovely Easter!  How was yours?

It was fun to hear from several of you about your plans to serve some of my recipes at your Easter gatherings!  Potatoes au Gratin, Potato Casserole and Herb Marinated Shrimp were the ones I heard about.  I’d love to know how everything turned out, so drop me a comment!

And now for the pictures.

First, a few from when we dyed eggs with Rachel a few weeks back.

Easter Eggs 1

Easter Eggs 2

Easter Eggs 3

Easter Eggs 4So pretty.

Upon waking Sunday morning, our kids ran in and said, “Good morning, Mommy!  Happy Easter!  He is risen!”  To which I replied, “He is risen indeed!”  It’s one of those things Timm began teaching them when they could barely speak, and now those words have become part of their normal Easter vocabulary.  So even if they want to think it’s all about the candy, there rote greetings declare otherwise.

Easter Morning 5

We enjoyed a special Easter breakfast with our little bunnies.  Guess which one is in character.

Easter Morning 6

Everyone got dressed in their carefully coordinated and meticulously styled outfits, and we went to worship and celebrate our risen Savior!

Easter Morning 7After church we joined some friends for a barbecue in their back yard on a beautiful spring day.  Please fully drink in my husband’s dapper seersucker suit, festive yellow bow tie, dashing glasses, and well-groomed mustache.  Is he not a debonair picture of classic Easter fashion?

It was a lovely day with friends and family, remembering that because He died and rose, we can live.

He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

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