Thursday, September 20, 2018

Love - word of the year end of summer update

Love, refining, end of summer update

I had planned to do a post that was a summer update about how things are going with my word of the year... but since Fall starts on Saturday, let's just call this an End-of-summer update. 


Songs are sung, poems are written, and it seems everyone has a different definition for what love is or is not. I'll go back to DC Talk's words: "love is a verb." Jesus Christ was love incarnate. The example for each of us to follow about putting others before ourselves. To love someone, we must think of their needs before our own. Oh, as a mom you get lots of opportunities to practice loving your children, but sometimes it is done as a "need to" not a "want to." 

Can it really be called love if we don't want to do it? I say yes because love is making the choice to do the right thing even when, especially when, it contradicts what our selfish natures want. That's the thing about being a Christian - we are not made perfect when we accept Christ. We are viewed as forgiven, clean, because of Jesus' death and resurrection when we accept Him, but the refining process to make us more like Him is a life-long one. 

So how has this word for the year been working in my life recently? Hmm...

God has been giving me a lot of opportunities recently to sit and listen to others share what is on their hearts. It has been good for me to work on listening, hopefully without interrupting, and hearing not only what people are saying, but what is left unsaid. Sometimes it is the unsaid areas where we need the most prayer and encouragement. 

God has used this summer to stretch me and refine me. Sometimes its not been too bad, other days I'm thankful that the Bible reminds us that these are light and momentary troubles. Because some days they seem heavy and long-lasting. Then something happens and we more clearly see Jesus' face and are reminded that they are momentary trials designed to make us more like Christ.

I was given a lot of blessings this summer. God has lavished opportunities upon me that I did not foresee, but am truly thankful for. He has given me the chance to put my faith into action, and He is showing me the daily working of the Holy Spirit in my life. At times it has been almost overwhelming to think that anyone would love me enough to provide all of these blessings - but then I am reminded that he is my Father, and He knows how to give good gifts!

There have been a lot of opportunities to spend time with our girls, and continue to tie heart-strings. These are moments I will always cherish! I've had a peace that only God can provide, and plenty of opportunities to rejoice. There have been tough days too, but less of those recently, for which I am also thankful!

What will this fall hold? Probably more change, but also more opportunities to choose to love those around me. That will let me love people like God has loved me this summer.

For that opportunity - I will rejoice!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

SweetHeart dried pomegranate seeds ~ a review

Water comes as a solid, liquid, and a gas. For different situations, you need a specific one. Ice cubes to cool you in the summer, water to drink when you are thirsty, and water vapor (steam) to open up those stubborn envelopes (LOL!)

Pomegranate seeds also come in three forms: fresh, frozen, or dried. The technical term is arils, but nobody will mind if you call them pomegranate seeds. I like fresh arils best for eating with a spoon whenever I’m craving some fruit, I like the frozen ones to put in my blender when making smoothies, but dried arils are the easiest to bake with! That’s why we’ve been having fun all summer long with the SweetHeart dried pomegranate seeds from our friends at!

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We met our friends from juicy gems last fall at the MomsMeet WOW Summit. They are such an awesome group of people who love providing quality fruit to points all around the US. You can read more about their frozen pomegranate arils over in this post.

SweetHearts dried pomegranate seeds can be substituted in just about any recipe that calls for dried fruit. If you have a favorite scone recipe, substitute the SweetHearts for the dried cranberries. Granola recipe that calls for raisins? Use pomegranates instead. Trail mix? Add a new dimension to your mix’s flavor by adding SweetHearts dried pomegranates to your other dried fruits, or switch them out completely. I’ll share some of our favorite recipes below.

There are a variety of other ways to use SweetHeart dried pomegranate seeds as well. I frequently toss them on my salads, especially if I’m out of fresh pomegranate arils. They work really well with both chicken and fish. My usual is chopping up the leftover chicken and adding it to my pomegranate salad for lunch the following day. Try adding a quarter cup of dried arils to your breakfast cereal.

Nutritionally, pomegranates pack a one-two punch with Punicalagins and Punicic acid, two healthful substances not found in other fruits. But truthfully, I just know that the flavor makes my taste buds happy and eating pomegranate arils keeps me regular. 

Because juicy gems grows their pomegranates in California, the easiest time to find them fresh in the store is October-February. That’s right, October, as in I'm getting myself some fresh yum real soon, but - if you’re going to be baking - these dried ones are perfect anytime! 

SweetHearts dried pomegranates come in three size offerings: 2 oz, 1 pound, and 5 pound bulk boxes. The 2 oz packages are great to throw in your backpack for snacking on the trail, or taking on a road trip, but since we use them a lot for baking, I’m going to suggest you go for the 1 pound or 5 pound size. Once you get started baking with them, you’ll be glad you stocked up!

Arlene is usually the one who bakes our scones. This batch she made bison shaped, because we had just added a bison to our cookie cutter, umm, I mean scone cutter collection. :)

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Here is our scone recipe:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup dried fruit
1/4 cup sugar
2 oz butter
2.5 oz milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit 
Mix flour, baking powder, sugar + salt
Add butter (cut into pieces)
mix with fingertips until crumbly
pour in milk and dried fruit, mix until dough-is
place on floured surface and roll to 1/2" thick
cut into shapes
bake for 12 minutes, remove and cool on a wire rack

Arlene found this recipe in her Recipe Holder book from, which I believe is now out of print.

I like making some trail mix for whenever we head out. I have these nifty Ball® brand freezer jam jars that are plastic with rubber lids that fit really well into a cupholder. So if it is just going to be me, I’ll make a small batch of trail mix in my tiny stainless steel bowl and just fill one of them. If there will be several of us out, I’ll make a bigger batch, pack a couple jam jars for the trip, and leave the rest at home in a quart jar for the next trip. In the winter I usually add chocolate chips, but in the summer I don’t want one giant chunk, or a gooey mess, so I skip the chocolate but often add in coconut flakes or another nut variety instead. This summer it was usually cashews.

My basic trail mix recipe is:

1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup organic raisins
1/4 cup dry, unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup cashews (summer) or chocolate chips (winter)
1/2 cup SweetHeart dried pomegranate seeds

Mix, put into reusable container, and enjoy! 

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Trail mix made with dried fruit is a terrific snack to keep in the car. Since the fruit has already been dried, you don’t have to worry about it sitting in a hot car for the day, like you would with a banana or grapes. Plus, with the resealable lid, what you don’t eat on your ride home today will still be waiting in the cup holder for you tomorrow. Ta da!

Granola, granola, granola!

Oh how I enjoy a good bowl of granola. I have one specific brand that I buy at the store (and add fresh, frozen, or dried pomegranates or blueberries to) or I make it myself. I’ve experimented with a few recipes, because even though I like to bake, granola just seems to come out better if I start with a proven recipe and then tweak it to my individual taste. If you've never made your own granola - try it -  it really is not that difficult! My current favorite recipe is one I found on and tweaked a little. Kate adds the dried fruit at the end after baking, while I like my granola chunkier and find it holds together better for me if I add the fruit before baking.

Here is how I made my last batch, which was delicious!

Granola recipe:

4 cups rolled oats
1 tsp sea salt (next time I’m going to try 1/2 tsp of salt)
1 tsp cinnamon (if you’re not a huge cinnamon fan like I am, cut it back to 1/2 tsp)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup SweetHearts dried pomegranate arils

Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit 

line 2 baking sheets with parchment (I use jelly roll pans just to make sure none of it rolls off the side and gets lost to the bottom of the oven

mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (at least 3 Qt size)

in a small bowl or pan, mix honey and oil, add vanilla - then pour slowly over dry ingredients in large bowl - slowly mix until well coated

pour half of granola mixture onto each lined baking sheet
press flat with back of mixing spoon (if you press it together you get more lumps, for looser granola, just spread it out)

bake until golden 20-25 minutes (Do not over bake!)

Let cool completely, then break into chunks and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

If you think you won’t eat it all in a week, you can store half in the freezer, just toast it back up for a few minutes in the oven once it defrosts. (But who wouldn't eat it all? LOL!)

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I hope you will give SweetHeart brand dried pomegranate arils a try soon! Come back by when you do and let me know your favorite way to eat them - I'm always looking for ideas!

Disclaimer: we received free product from juicy in exchange for an honest review. We were not required to write a positive review, nor were we compensated in any other way. We are disclosing this in a accordance with FTC regulations.

1 Corinthians 12:6

Scripture Writing, hand lettering, Bible verses

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dollar Days at SchoolhouseTeachers!

Just in case you have missed the notice, the month of September is Dollar Days at

Just what does that mean for you? It means you can try out any (or many) of the more than 400 courses available for just $1 for the first month. 

If you like the courses, or the planners, or the transcript tools, or any of the other feature (like World Book encyclopedias) you can continue your membership for the discounted price of $14.95 monthly. If you decide not to continue your membership, it has only cost you $1. I really think you'll decide to continue your membership once you get started, but no hard feelings if you don't. :)

All those resources for a dollar? That my friends is a seriously good deal!

If you're wondering what they offer, go check out and choose what you want to do first. There are courses for every age from pre-school through adult.

I thought you might really want to check out one of the newest courses: Achieving Art Success with ArtAchieve. You may remember that Arlene and I reviewed some of these ArtAchieve lessons in 2017. If you are looking for art for your kids, be sure to look at these as there are lessons for multiple age/ skill ranges.

Also, if your child, or you, needs to work on their keyboarding skills, check out Keyboarding with The Typing Coach David Kimball. These are no-nonsense lessons that really do teach you how to type well. Find out more details by reading my review.

That's it for now. I just wanted to make sure you knew about a couple great resources available on that you might want to check out during Dollar Days!

Have a great week!