Lessons from the Kitchen

I love baking. I especially love baking bread. There is something about being up past my wrists in dough that just brings me peace and contentment. The Holidays in particular bring out in me the need to fill my home with the aroma of rising bread. They say that scent is one of the strongest memory triggers. I know this to be true. The simple scent of certain bread products that flood my mind with images and moments from my childhood.

Any time I cook my little one's want to be part of the processes. Maddie especially wants to be part of whatever is going on. If I am baking their desire to participate is even more intense. Either because they want to eat the cookie or play with the bread dough. So often my first instinct is to brush them off. Our kitchen is small and there isn't a lot of extra space for little ones. But something about this time made me pause. And so I took a deep breath, scooted over, and taught them how to brush butter onto the paper-thin dough before I rolled it into crescent shapes.  I explained how to place the rolls on the baking sheet (though that clearly went over their heads).

Some where along the way I looked down and instead of seeing my hands forming the rolls, but my mothers. Instead of the voice of my daughters I heard my own childish voice asking to help and in that moment I was reminded of the connection to the women in my family. My mother, my sisters, my aunts, my grandmothers. The women who came before (if only by a few years) and have made their way into the every day of my life.

There is quote by that I fell in love with years ago. Pearl Mae Bailey

"My kitchen is a mystical place, a kind of temple for me. It is a place where the surfaces seem to have significance, where the sounds and odors carry meaning that transfers from the past and bridges to the future."

This is why I love to bake. Because, in the mixing of flour, and water, and eggs, I am connected for the women who came before me, and helping to form the little ones who will come up after me. And some day they will look down at their hands and see mine, and my mother's and my Grandmother Hazels and know that they are part of a beautiful heritage of strong, capable women who lived lives marked by love.


Free Thank You Card.

So I have been participating in 30 Days of Thank You this month. If you read yesterday's post you know it has been an emotional time for me realize just how blessed I am when it comes to friends.After planning that post I was so excited to get an e-mail from shutterfly about a new card brand they just launched

They are so excited about this new brand that they sent a coupon code I get to share with you all. So what does that mean? You can now create and send a totally personalized greeting card from Treat for FREE. Whether saying thanks for Thanksgiving, wishing a best friend a holiday birthday, or simply sharing the holiday cheer with a just because card, Treat lets you create a one-of-a-kind card that is sure to impress.

So grab a cup of coffee, check out Treat Cards, and use coupon code TREATBLOGR today or tomorrow to send one free card. Hope you enjoy!

(This is a sponsored blog post however, I only share my honest and genuine opinions.)


Thank you!

As some of you may remember that I participated in Onetober last month. Well this month Jennifer the lady behind The Clutch Guide came up with another great idea (that thankfully didn't involve clothing this time).

30 Days of Thank You has over 400 participants each attempting to write and mail 30 thank you notes in the month of November. That's over 12,000 thank you cards! That's a whole lot of mail and a whole lot of people being thanked.

I have loved the processes. Admittedly I am a little behind. I had a horrible cold and serious cut on my hand so I've been a little slow. BUT it has been so special.

Back in high school I was blessed with a number of friends. While we had our share of high school drama it was still a fun group that loved each other and loved God. In college I struggled a bit more making friends. Out of my comfort zone it took me a while to open myself up. But when I did I was once again blessed with amazing women who came along side of me and did life. We laughed, and cried and prayed together.

And then I got married and all of my friends graduated and most moved away and I was more lonely than I have ever been in my life. I was blessed with three amazing older sisters plus an older sister by marriage. But they all lived out-of-state and I missed the dailiness of local friends.

For years my husband and I prayed for friends for me. After nearly two and a half years of praying God answered us in one answer came in the form of my husband's best friends' wife. An amazingly selfless woman who has shown me and my daughter love in so many ways. What started out as two women hanging out while their husbands played video games has turned into one of the most rewarding relationships in my life.

The other answer came in an unexpected way when my younger brother started dating an amazing young women. Instead of bringing a friend into my life He brought me a younger sister. I am so thankful to have her in my life. She came along side of me and for nearly two years we truly did life together. And, in a way we still do, but now that she is Kansas and I'm still in VA it's a little different. So when she moved I was seriously concerned about being alone again.

This project has been such an eye-opening experience. Some how, over the past few years, my life has been FILLED with amazing women. Some where a long the way I lost track of how many ways He has answered my prayers.

He answered with fellow mom friends who answer my questions, and watch my kids, and understand the trials of raising two little ones.

He answered with the college friend who came back into my life, walked me through some of the darkest days I have ever experienced, who became my daughter's  Godmother.

He answered with fellow creative women. Who have challenged me with my writing, and blogging, and creative pursuits.

He answered with women who pray with me and point me to God when everything feels like it's falling apart.

With one woman in particular who watches my kids, and prays for me daily, and always lifts me up and is there when I need anything from coffee too an encouraging word to a new dress.

I am truly, truly blessed.


Have any one you are extra thankful for and want to send an extra special card to? Check back tomorrow for a coupon code for a free card!



Reflecting on a lost pregnancy.

I realize that the timing on this post may seem odd to some. And perhaps it is. All I know is that for whatever reason, while doing dishes today, I felt that it was time.

When our due date first came and went I wasn’t ready to share. My mother came down that weekend and was a blessing in so many ways. I don’t think it was until we sat down the morning she left and talked about my lost one that I truly felt free to grieve.

As time passed and my dear nephew was born I hesitated to share. I didn’t want to mar such a beautiful time for them by bringing attention to myself. This is their first child and they deserved to bask in his beauty and perfectness. (And he is oh so perfect!)

And so here we are, six weeks past the day my little “George” was due, and I am finally ready to share with you all some of what this experiences has been to me. Perhaps some of you wonder why I share at all. I myself have even wondered that. And all I can say is that I share these thoughts in the hopes that someday some where they will bring encouragement to someone else in the same place.

Through this experience I have an increased awareness of the sorrow in those around me that struggle with conceiving. After two unexpected pregnancies it was hard to fully understand what these women I loved were going through. While I can never claim to fully understand the pain these amazing women must live with, I am slightly more aware of the bitter sweetness so many of life moments must hold for them. I pray God will use this to make me more aware in my words and actions that I will not bring any added pain to these women.

The irony in this whole situation is that after being surprised by three pregnancies, Josh and I have been unable to grow our family again. Before we were married I was told I may have difficulties conceiving. After thee surprise pregnancies this seemed almost a joke.  We laughed out how little doctors new. And yet here we are 7 months later, still not pregnant. And so I am left with so many questions. Perhaps the doctors were right all along?  Maybe my two angles are miracles? Maybe God does not see fit to bless us with more?

So often when women share their miscarriage stories with me the end with “but then God gave us so-and-so.” Yet here I, and so many women I know, are months out from our loss still waiting on the “but then.” With the doctors words echoing in my head I am forced to face the fact that my “but then” may not be another child. My “but then” may simply be healing, and peace, and other opportunities that God puts in place.  Dreams I wouldn’t be able to pursue if I were tending a new infant. Or perhaps my “but then” is simply waiting, till I have learned a few more lessons on parenting and grace.

All I know for certain is that I have learned how much I love being a mother.  In grieving the child that I lost I have come to appreciate that much more the two that I get to watch grow. While I still take pleasure in pursuing things out side of motherhood, being mama to Bear and Goose means so much more than it used to. Each emotional, spiritual, and physical milestone they hit feels like that much more of a triumph. Motherhood came so early in our marriage that I often felt like I was barely keeping up. It wasn’t something that happened to me rather than something I sought out. That has changed now and I feel myself embracing and valuing this role so much more.

I have come to realize how true it is that the Lord knows my hearts desires so much more than I do. As a young woman mothering was never high on my list of dreams. Through this I have come to realize how much it means to me. How much fuller my life is because of it. I am so thankful that the Lord so fit to disregard my own plans and set me on the path He had written for me.

And so

I am learning live with the questions, hopefully with grace.

I am learning to be more aware of the hurt in those around me.

I am learning often joy and grief  must live in harmony.

And I am learning that my Lord is on His throne so it is well with my soul.



I'm not sure what it is, but every time I sit down to write I just can't quite bring myself to actually do it. Nothing seems to flow quit as easily as I would like. Maybe it's this nasty cold settling in my chest, maybe it's my weird sleeping schedule lately, or maybe I'm just to lazy to put in the real work of writing.

It's easy to say "I write" or "I blog" but just saying those things doesn't make it so. Real writing happens when you are willing to put in the time, day in and day out. When you sit down and take pen to paper (or fingers to key board) even when your mind feels blank. And so today that's what I am doing. Simple writing, because not writing doesn't feel right.

As you might remember I did a post sponsored by Tinyprints a while back. I finally ordered my products and got them in the mail this week!

I wasn't sure I was going to keep the calendar notebook for myself so I put a favorite family saying on it rather than my name. As soon as I opened it up I new I would have to keep it!

It's so bright and colorful. I normally like weeks laid out and you can get that if you get the Erin Condrin Life Planner. Because it doesn't have the weekly break down I'm not sure I'll use it as a planner or if it will be more of a catch all for lists and deadlines ect. Either way I truly do love it!!

I may not be writing much here but I am writing daily. I have been participating in 30 Days of Thank You and I have been writing a thank you note every day to some one I treasure. It's been so much fun.

I've also been journaling on a pretty regular basis. I've been processing through the misscairiage a lot and am almost ready to share some of my thoughts in this space. I've also been writing for a few other blogs!

You can read about how having 5 women in my family suffer from cancer has changed how I live my life over at The Clutch Guide.

I will also be writing for The Motherhood Collective a few times a month starting this month. My first post doesn't go up for a few more weeks but if you want to check out their blog they are doing a give away featuring The Goose Beary Shop!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I'll be back soon with thoughts on my Abi Bear turning 5!!


Creative Gift Giving Part 2: Staying Organized.

In the first part of Creative Gift Giving I shared how I go about getting ideas for meaningful gifts. Today I want to share with you how I organize all these ideas!

This is my Holiday Notebook (I say holiday not Christmas because I use it for Thanksgiving as well). It's just a simple note book with dividers that I glued a pretty gift picture onto. You can be as fancy or as simple as you want.

(If you buy a notebook with out dividers I suggest adding simple tabs yourself). As you can see mine is pretty beat up. That's because this is the four year I have used it so it's been through quite a lot. I have mine divided into four Sections.


Each year I keep a list of the dishes I am assigned to bring to any Holiday meals and parties. A lot of times I also keep my holiday meal/party grocery shopping list in there. Each divider in my book has a pocket which I LOVE. In the Menu section I keep index cards with go to recipes I use at the Holidays. (Corn casserole, Green Bean Casserole, ect).


A LOT of information goes in this section of the journal. I use the pocket in the divider to keep track of receipts I have also added an envelop that I put any gift cards/coupons I plan on using while shopping.

In the gift section I make a list of every one I am planning on giving gifts to. This is every one from family members, friends, teachers. I also keep a separate list of who is getting Christmas cards, and who is getting baked goods as a gift.

This is when all the research we did in Part One comes into play. DI keep a running list in my head (and some times in another note book) of ideas I collect from the observing I've done. During the year if I see a great deal on something some one would love I will often buy it. This helps spread the cost of Christmas out as well as reduce the stress of last minute shopping. I have a special draw I stash all the stuff I buy through the year and I keep a running list. As the holidays approach I sit down and compare that list with my Gift Giving list. A lot of times I can cross off quite a few people before I even start officially "Christmas" shopping.

Once I have crossed off any one who is already done I brain storm ideas for the people left. My shopping list for things I plan on buying also goes in to the "Gift" section of the note book.

To Make:

Because I make a lot of Christmas gifts the third section of my note book keeps track of any gifts I plan on making. From dolls to my daughters, to napkins for my mom, or towels for a friend all those projects get recorded as well as a craft/fabric shopping list.

To Bake:

My fourth section is a to bake section. I keep many of my favorite cookie/baked good recipes on index cards in this pocket as well as a list of anything I want to bake and who is getting baked goods as gifts. I've also collected fun ideas on how to package baked goods over the years and will often add a picture or jot down an idea in this section.

To Thank:

The last section of the note book is where I keep track of gifts we are given during the season so I can be sure to write out thank you notes. Some times I keep thank you cards in the fold so as soon as I get a gift I can jot down a quick note to be mailed in January.

You can organize yours however works best but it really does help. You can either use just a blanket note book or a fun holiday one. Here are a few ideas to get you going.


These fun notebooks are available at ChloesCards.

These two can be found over at Kimberly's Craft Corner.

And this pretty little organizer can be purchased from Crafting To Stay Sane.


(All pictures were used with the consent of the etsy sellers.)


Three Years Of Dolly Making

Four years ago my daughter Abi Bear was turning one and I went in search of the perfect "first" dolly for her. During the process my good friend Marliessa introduced me to Waldorf Dolls. (You can read a rough description of them here). At the time I couldn't afford the beautiful dolls I found on Etsy so I let it go.  A year later when Abi was turning two I just couldn't get this sweet style of doll out of my mind so I attempt to make my own.

Here is Miss Abi Bear and Annie Doll.

Since that first doll I have truly fallen in love with this art and have grown a business around it.I have tried my best to make dolls that I believe in. I think every one should be able to afford an heirloom quality doll for their child that protects the beauty and purity of childhood. When so many dolls are made of plastic and are holding up unrealistic ideals I wanted a dolly for my girl that was as sweet and innocent as she is.

My dolls have changed and evolved over time but I feel like they still hold the sweet innocence that I fell in love with and Abi still loves her Annie Doll.

To celebrate three years of doll making and as a way of making sure I stay true to why I started, I am offering ONE THREE custom 6 inch doll for $20.00. First  person three people to comment bellow with their paypal e-mail address will get an invoice and e-mail from me with details.

Much love!

~Joy Leanne