I took it on the day of and I posted it online to the group so that's something at least.

Today I will be photographing a birth and I'm sure that there will be a photo that I want to use for my DPP and I probably won't want to share it in a post with a picture of my cozy bed. So here's last night's on time but posted late day fourteen.

Man, I was ready to climb in and snuggle down!

He's my calm when everything is going crazy.

The voice of reason in the midst of irrational thought.

He's the place I go when I need to hide.

My strength when I cannot.

He makes me laugh and upon occasion, cry.

He gives me balance and aside from my children he's the one who causes my heart to fill near to bursting with love.

He is my beloved and I am his.

Fresh bread. There is nothing quite like that smell. Or taste.

I remember the first time I really tried to make bread from scratch. I got together with a friend of mine and I believe we had some success...in brick making maybe. I think if we had dropped one of our loaves we could have put a hole in the floor.

Another time someone gave me starter for that delicious sweet Amish friendship bread. You know the really high maintenance one that has to be fed every day and can't be in a metal bowl and can only be stirred with a wooden spoon while you stand on one foot and recite the alphabet backwards in Latin? At least that's how it felt to me before the container it was in exploded all over everything.

Since that fiasco I have pretty much limited myself to nothing more than eating homemade bread.

But several months ago a kind bread making friend not only gifted me with one of her loaves of sourdough but also some of her starter. I will admit that I was leery of the gift but I am happy to say that I have not killed the starter nor have I made any bricks to form a new patio or pathway. I have however consistently found success with this very forgiving and easy to use sourdough starter.

Today's picture comes from my very first attempt at making a pretty artisan type bread. It looked really pretty and the taste was good too. I'm still not sure I would call myself a bread maker but I am feeling a little less like a total novice these days.

I really wasn't sure if I had ruined this because I actually flattened it our with a rolling pin before adding the seasoning I wanted and braiding it.

Obviously my artisan skills still need a bit of work but when your trial and errors taste this good, does anyone really mind?

Oh, you know what? I need to try this out on the brown sugar and cinnamon loaf next time!

In which I get sort of artsy. And as usually happens a few times during this project I couldn't choose just one photo.

I love frosty and sparkling winter mornings, don't you?

I've tried free lensing before but I don't practice enough to be really good at it. But I did like the way this one turned out. Maybe it's the purple hues but I am making it my choice for day ten.

While I may not free lens often I do enjoy a little reverse lens macro. It's amazing to me how the light can change and the hue and color tone of an image shift within seconds from one frame to the next when taking pictures. Maybe that explains my whole fascination with photography.

I liked the underlying brightness to this image which is why I just couldn't not post it. Beautiful winter mornings should be shared though so enjoy!

So what does it look like to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas? We get asked this a lot when people find out our holiday season is a wee bit longer than the norm. Most people are curious but also seem leery of how much work might be involved. But honestly, once you get the hang of it it's not difficult at all. The important thing to remember is that it doesn't have to be perfect down to the last detail.

As a matter of fact how it looks today for our family varies quite a bit from how it looked when we started however many years ago it was when we started. I imagine as our children grow and marry and grand children come along that it will look even more different then than now. Essentially the framework is in place but every year you have the opportunity to flesh it out differently depending on circumstances, ages and interest of the kids, etc. You are only limited by how creative you want to be. Things can be as big and special as you wish or as simple and uncomplicated. As a family of seven there are some activities that we rarely do because of how expensive it can be. We don't eat out as a family often and a trip to the movie theater is practically right out. These are the kinds of things we add into the 12 days mix and I think it makes them a bit more special because they don't happen often.

Like I mentioned in yesterday's post we have a few days that repeat every single year so let's start there. These are the events or activities that we did once and the children begged, pleaded, and possibly mutinied over not having until we made them an annual part of our celebration. 

A hockey game. I know absolutely zero about hockey and my children know even less. My love may know a little bit more than all of us since he has lived up north before. What we all know is that one of the first families to join us in the 12 days knows a lot of stuff about hockey and we go to dinner (Sonny's Bar B Que) and an Ice Flyers game with them each year. Nothing about this can vary. Not who goes with us and not where we eat. I've no idea why it is so or why my normally peace loving non-violent children become blood thirsty hooligans but that's just the way it is.

Sweet Frog. Yep, a trip to the yogurt shop. This is also an activity that we do with friends although they don't mark the 12 days as we do. But frozen yogurt with our family is as much a tradition for them as it is for us. We've got some hilarious stories to come out of this yearly adventure and the telling of them is all part of the process.

Gingerbread house contest.  We do this with several other families and is a sweet messy day and also usually involves a meal. This year there are so many of us participating that we've moved it to the church. Each family brings supplies and we put everything out for people to use. And snack on. We've loved how these days have sprung up and it adds so much to the sense of community we share.

Favorite things basket. I get a large basket and buy all the fun stuff that I always or nearly always say no to. Giant jars of nutella and or Biscoff cookie spread. Lemon curd. Yoohoo drinks. Pop Tarts. V8 Fusion. Certain cereals. Particular chips or snacks. All the things that either don't fit our everyday grocery budget or are so awfully bad for you that I can't do it on a regular basis. No off brands either, the real deal name brand. Something everyone will enjoy but some things are put in because of a specific child. Like the lemon curd. Anyone can enjoy some but it is in there because Claire loves it.

Giving Days. This is hands down my favorite part of the 12 days. We didn't start with these days but once we added them I wish we had come up with idea sooner. Each child has a giving day assigned to them. On that day they don't receive any gifts but give the gifts to their siblings. (As our oldest daughter became an adult she added her father and me in to her giving day which is really special.) The giver also gets to choose a menu and do the cooking for that meal.  

Christmas stockings. This is the last gift given on the last day every year. It's a fun way to wrap up the whole thing.

For those who are are a little intimidated by what seems to be such a large undertaking let's break things down a bit.

There are 12 days. The first day (Christmas morning) they each get a gift. Usually that one thing that they've been asking for. 

Subtracting the five giving days from the remaining eleven days brings us to only six more days.

Take away five days for each of the days mentioned above and there is only one more day to buy an individual gift for each of the kids.

Ideas for individual gift days have been random choices suited to whatever each child is interested in.  We've also chosen to do themed days...shoe, game, music, etc.

You can choose to do a service project as a family, visit a nursing home, have a baking day and then deliver the goodies to the local fire or police department. Have a craft day.

One idea that I literally thought of this morning and will implement next year is a gift card day. Through the year I plan to randomly buy $10 gift cards to places that strike my fancy and suit my kiddos likes. That way I can give them a variety of cards and the cost is spread out over time thus protecting my budget and relationship with my beloved.

I'm sure that you probably have ideas all your own that I have never even thought of. I'd love to hear them and also if you have any questions feel free to ask!

PS Someone mentioned it might be helpful to see how we lay it out. So here is look at how I write things out.

Day 1    Christmas Day (one gift from us all the stuff from grandparents)
Day 2    Hockey Game Night
Day 3    Giving Day for one child
Day 4    Gingerbread House Contest
Day 5    Favorite Things Basket
Day 6    Giving Day
Day 7    Individual Gifts
Day 8    Giving Day
Day 9    Sweet Frog
Day 10  Giving Day
Day 11  Giving Day
Day 12  Stockings

Normally, I try not to do back to back giving days but with the date of our hockey game it couldn't be helped. And the only reason I try to not do it is strictly for the sake of variety. They don't mind either way.

PPS Another question that came up...our children are ages 22, 17, 16, 15, and 11. We've been doing the 12 Days for the last five or so years.

Repairing the ruins.

That's a phrase commonly heard in our reformed classical circles as it relates to taking back the way we educate our children. As I've been thinking through writing this blog post in response to some questions I've gotten about how our family celebrates Christmas I realized it's a rather fitting phrase for more than just classical education. 

The truth is that our job as Christians is to be continually at work repairing the ruins. Now obviously we cannot ignore the truth that through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ God has put all things back to rights. But neither can we ignore that we live in the now and not yet-ness of what God has done, is doing, and will do. Or that we have been giving the joyful task of joining Him in that work.

One of the smallest but biggest changes our family has made in recent years is aligning our lives more closely with the Church calendar which functions along the life of Christ. So in one sense we are currently marking the start of the new year as we celebrate Advent even as we recognize the close of the traditional calendar.

Practicing Advent each year was the starting point for us and then we also started looking for ways to change how we celebrate the birth of Christ. I was familiar with the "12 days of Christmas" but always as a time leading up to Christmas, not marking time from His birth to the time traditionally celebrating Epiphany, the arrival of the wise men.

This is important because for most of the western mainstream church the 25th of December is the climax of weeks long anticipation but December 26th doesn't mean much. Or the 27th, the 28th, and so on. Of course January 1st is marked but then life collapses back into normal until months later when Easter Sunday is celebrated. But there is so much more.

Marking the 12 days leading up to Epiphany means we are celebrating and marking the glorious Truth that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. It's not just about spiritualizing the holiday as a way of rejecting the commercializing of the one real Holy day most of us agree is actually holy. It's twelve days of commemorating the greatest gift ever given...God Himself taking on human form and becoming one of us. 

There is no Biblical command to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas so not doing so is certainly no sin. And that also means that each family is free to set up their 12 days as they see fit. Our days have evolved and changed over the years with some days becoming set in stone staples and other days being flexible and changing from year to year. The important thing is that we are working to restore the glory of a world changing event that the enemy has sought to tear down and bury under a pile of cheap spit and shine made up thrill meant to distract from the thrill of hope that causes a weary world to rejoice.

Tomorrow I will share some of the ways we celebrate the 12 days but let me give a few highlights we've found in this process. First, the fact that it is spread out means that although there is significant planning (I mean we have five children so I have to kind of have my act together) it doesn't all happen on one day. Less pressure. Less stress.

Which brings me to point number two and one that we really like...hello after Christmas sales! You can take advantage of some major deals.

And third I think our children, and us adults for that matter, can enjoy and savor the time more because it isn't hitting us in the face at a breakneck pace. It's lost the overwhelmingness that sometimes comes with major events that leaves us feeling limp, exhausted and slightly underwhelmed because of the momentous days and days of lead up.

An added benefit that we have enjoyed more and more as the years have gone by and others have joined us in marking the 12 days is the sense of community it brings. There are certain activities that we enjoy during this time that are enriched because we share them with friends.

The important thing to remember whether you celebrate one day or twelve is well summed up by Jeff Smith, the Frugal gourmet guy:

"...on our own, Christmas does not work. It is not the tree, or the dinner or the planning, or the weather, or the relatives that make the Mass of Christ. It is the Child. Come to the manager and be amazed..."

Thinking about my understanding of time as we marked the first day of Advent yesterday. Perspectives are shifted and reality altered when we orient ourselves to the Church calendar and therefore the life of Christ. It causes us to live in the midst of the Gospel itself and how can that not change us? 

This new year begins as we enter a time of hope, of joyously anticipating the arrival of the King. And somehow we live in the now and not yet...knowing He has come and waiting for the day when He comes again...our own anticipation a mirror of that long ago silence that was broken by the song of the angels. 

I took the first photo and shared it online on the first day but ran out of steam before I could post here. So I'm not going to say that I am already playing catch up and it's only the second day but I am going to share two days at the same time ;-)

Are you familiar with progressive dinners? We used to do them all of the time back in my youth group days. The idea is that several homes agree to host various parts of the dinner and the attendees travel from house to house for each course of the meal.

A friend of mine suggested doing one for the jr/sr classes of our school and it was so much fun! Since Emily is a senior we hosted the dessert portion of the evening. Because we chose to do a Christmas around the world theme the kids were able to enjoy some amazing foods. We did Sweden and hosted a glorious sugar filled night of fondue. (The good thing about doing the last stop on a progressive dinner is that no one gets to your house before 9pm so you literally have all day to prepare. The downside is that no one gets to your house before 9pm and frankly that's my bedtime, y'all. But it was totally worth staying up and having so much fun.)

Day One~

Not everything made it into the picture. We had dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate butterscotch, and salted caramel fondues. There was a plethora of dippers with homemade pretzels, brownies, pound cake, graham crackers, rice krispie treats, marshmallows, cream puffs,  apples, and bananas.

I love the DPP and look forward to doing it every year. This is my seventh year participating and one thing I've learned is that it is way more interesting if every image is not centered around the holiday. Don't get me wrong, I love the lights, colors and sparkle of Christmas but life is still happening day to day and I like capturing those moments too.

I took today's picture first thing. Milo wandered into our bedroom and looked so perplexed that I hadn't raised the blinds yet. Once I obeyed his silent command opened the blinds he hopped right up and got comfy. And I got what I think is one of the coolest cat photos ever. The reflection looks almost ghostly like it's the cat of Christmas past come to see him.

I've been sitting on this recipe for just the right time to share it and I think posting my 100th Pinterest Test Kitchen qualifies, don't you?

It's rich.

It's decadent.

It's a chocolate lover's dream.

It even gets points for being naturally gluten free.

It's also versatile. I've made it as a single layer cake in a torte pan and I've made little minis too.

And unless you are having a no good very bad day like the one I was having here while making it, it is super simple and you probably have everything you need on hand to make it and that is a big bonus right there.

What you'll need for the cake:
 1 cup chocolate chips (I've used semi sweet and dark chocolate, either is fine)
1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder (again I have used regular cocoa powder and dark chocolate)
2 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee (made it with and without and it's tasty either way)

For the ganache:
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

What you'll do:
Preheat over to 375 degrees
Melt chocolate chips and butter until combined
Pour into a bowl and add the sugar and espresso powder if you're using it, stirring until thoroughly mixed
Add eggs and whisk until batter is smooth
Add in cocoa powder and stir
Pour into a well greased cake pan (you may want to use parchment paper but I've not had any problems just using Baker's Joy)
Bake for 20 minutes (I've started cooking mine for 18 minutes because I noticed my edges getting too done at the full 20 minutes.)

While the cake is baking make your ganache by heating your heavy whipping cream and chocolate chips until smooth and well blended (be careful not to allow your cream to get too hot and keep stirring as the chocolate melts)

Let the cake cool for ten minutes and them flip it onto a plate
Pour ganache over the top and allow it to drizzle over the sides
Let the cake sit out for about 30 minutes before refrigerating for at least an hour before serving
Top with a dollop of whipped topping and garnish with raspberries

Grab a fork and bite into that deliciously chocolate dream and sigh with utter satisfaction.

I realize that a one layer cake doesn't seem like much but this dessert is really rich so a little slice will do ya. Also, to make the mini cakes I've used the silicone pan and I've also used just a regular mini muffin pan. I think once I got really crazy and used the mini bunt cake pan I have but decided that was a wee bit more work than I wanted to put into it with not much return.

I've also learned that while you do need to refrigerate it so the ganache can set you want to take it out and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

So yeah, this is my 100th post that I've tagged (or tried to remember to tag) as either Pinterest Test Kitchen or simply Test Kitchen. You can enter either of those into the search bar near the bottom of the blog to pull up all the post in the series or you can go here to where I have most of them saved onto a pinterest board.

I'd love to know what you have found on pinterest and tried!

She started unloading the dishwasher with a heavy sigh and droopy shoulders. She was obviously not happy with the task at hand and truthfully hadn't been happy with any task lately, content to only do what she wanted to do.

I stopped her and reminded her that part of being in a family is taking part in the tending of that family and it's stuff. And I also encouraged her to remember that she should be grateful that there were dishes to put away because that meant we'd had food to eat. And the very fact that she was unloading a dishwasher meant that the task of actually washing dishes had been done for her and she had the easy part. We talked a few minutes about not despising the work that often times comes with the gifts we receive in our lives.

And right then and there my own gentle words that I was hoping to encourage and teach my daughter gratitude with turned around and smacked me in the face.

We've had a busy six weeks. I mean ridiculously busy and things keep crowding in on my to-do list.  I realized that while individually I did not mind the tasks at hand, cumulatively I was drowning. And I was letting the feelings of overwhelmedness (I think I just made a new word) wash me down a river of resentment. I couldn't enjoy anything because it was all beginning to look like just one more than thing that had to be tended.

So I hugged my girl and took a minute to rejoice in the work of parenting and for the ways our Father uses those situations to parent me. And instead of looking at a great big pile of must take care ofs I needed to look at each task as the gift of work from the hand of a loving Father who has given me much. The work my friends, represents the blessings of family and friends and clients, home and church and school activity. And I don't want to fall prey to despising His generosity.

So whatever is crowding your to-do list at the beginning of this week, whatever crazy holiday schedule is looming on the horizon, remind yourself that God is the giver of good gifts and that the work that can sometimes come from those blessings and opportunities is a gift in and of itself.

This is crowd pleasing comfort food at it's best. Biscuits and cheese are two of the main ingredients so seriously, how could it not be? I cannot even remember how I found the recipe, or when, but I know since I pinned it and started making it it's a favorite at every potluck I bring it to. I was actually surprised to realize I hadn't blogged it already.

What you'll need:
2 cans Grands biscuits, cut into pieces
1 jar of Alfredo sauce (I like the family size jar but the regular works fine)
2 cups Swiss cheese, separated 
(I have only found shredded Swiss once, the rest of the time I just use sliced and chop it up)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 garlic salt
2 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 lb deli ham, shredded

What you'll do:
Toss the biscuit pieces with the Alfredo sauce and garlic seasonings
Add chicken, ham, and 1 cup of cheese
Stir until everything is well blended and coated with Alfredo sauce
Place into a 9x13 that has been coated with non stick cooking spray
Top with the remaining cup of cheese
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until biscuits are done.

Serve with a Caesar salad or steamed green beans so you're at least giving a nod to the healthy life and enjoy!

A few weeks ago, like hundreds of pastors and preachers across the country, Rob preached a Reformation sermon. Our worship was a little extra that day since not only were we marking the 500th celebration of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, we were celebrating paying off a mortgage in less than three years in a joint service with a sister church. Another layer was added to the sweetness of the day as we contemplated the history of two churches that used to be one and how God had gifted friendship and genuine love where before there had been angst and turmoil.

The whole sermon was good and even though the themes of death and Resurrection are familiar to me viewing it as being torn apart and reformed into something else, something more, was beautiful. Rob sent me a copy of it so I could share part of it here.

God loves to tear things apart. We don’t often think about God in these terms, perhaps, but the biblical record (and what we observe in history and in our own experience) shows us that it is so.

If we go back to the creation narrative we can see that God is immediately about the business of tearing things apart – of separating thing from thing. He divides the day into light and dark – day and night. He made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse.

When we get to man, God separated some of the dirt he had made and formed it into a man and breathed life into him with his own Spirit. Then he took the man and put him into a deep sleep – a kind of death – and tore from him through a hole in his side part of his body. And from the rib he took from the man he formed the woman.

He loves tearing things apart. But notice that he doesn’t just rip them apart because he’s dissatisfied with them. Rather, he tears them apart in order to re-form them. The things divided become complements of each other, making a new thing. The one day is made up of day and night. The two humans (male and female) are then brought together and become one flesh.

Even in the case of our Lord who is Life itself, God separated his Son from life and in a sense from himself (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?). But, of course, he was raised from death and was reunited with life in a new, glorified way.

God separated Abraham from the other nations to create a unique people for himself, but even here we see in Ephesians (and elsewhere, of course) that God is remaking from the two one new man.

Even we ourselves are subjected to separation from ourselves (God killing in us that which separates us from him) in order to be put back together, to be human in the way our Lord would have us be human.

Sometimes in the midst of busy seasons it's easy to get caught up in the finish the thing move on to the next thing moments. But always I want to be mindful of how God is at work and, like the woman at the end of the pregnancy yearns to feel the pain of contractions that she knows will bring about the arrival of her babe, I long to feel the pains of God at work tearing me apart and reforming me more and more into the image of His Son.

But really more like chunks than the title would suggest. I have lots of thoughts in my head and every intention of actually blogging them but it just hasn't happened. So I'm going to dump them all here and see if I can work up a rhythm for regular blogging by starting with a clean slate.

We'll see.

There is a thing in photography called the golden hour. As the name suggest it is the time of day that is particularly good for taking pictures. Photographers covet this hour because of the beautiful soft light. Saturday I was reminded that early morning has some rather beautiful light of it's own. I can't share any of the pictures yet since it was a bridal session but in the ten minutes it took to leave my house in the pitch black to hitting the interstate gas station by Pensacola Bay this happened and I had to stop and take a few pictures. I should maybe explore this early morning light more often.


As I've gotten older I have become less and less of a candy person. Which is something because at one point in my life I ate a Reese Cup and drank a Sprite every day for a snack. Now I might have the occasional piece but I can take it or leave it but with Halloween last week I've been rather indulgent and I've learned few things. Firstly, I underestimate the yumminess of plain M&M's and secondly, I seem to like Kit Kat's.  Who knew? Thirdly, I really love twizzlers but I got a really bad headache after eating them twice so I think I'm going to steer clear. And fourthly, whoppers are still gross.

I'm a little bit behind in the Bible Reading Challenge but am amazed at how connected the Old and New Testaments are. I realize this is a simple observation but the connection and overlap is so clear and even more so when time is spent in reading from both. It really has added a depth and richness to my Bible reading.

Related to that is Bible Study Fellowship. Boy, do I love the book of Romans! We had such great discussion in last weeks class. One of the things I shared was how, right in the midst of David's soap opera with Bathsheba, was the simple phrase , "And the Lord sent Nathan." Chapter eleven ends with God being displeased with David but in the very next chapter He is sending Nathan to rebuke and call David to  repentance. It reminded me how much we need Nathans in our lives, people who can call us to confront our sin.

Later that day I would also come to realize how we need to be willing to let there be Nathans in the lives of our kids. I mean, it's easy for us to feel like we're fulfilling that role in their lives but truly we need to be willing to have other people carry out that task sometimes too, which can be much much harder. But other people can bring a perspective and shed light that we need and our children need. I want to hold on to this thought as we approach parent/teacher conferences at school. Not that I am expecting trouble or bad reports but I want my kids' teachers, who spend a lot of hours with my kiddos each day, to be willing to be Nathans to the sin in their lives. And I want to be open and to hear them if they have reason to be a Nathan.

On a lighter note, our Sabbath lunch was not exactly all I had hoped it would be for reasons outside my control, I might add. Sam was quite funny though and afterword came up and hugged me and said, "Nice try with lunch, Mom." It made me laugh. I was also grateful that the two families we had invited over for the fellowship had to cancel. That was God's kindness to them I think :-)

What else has been rattling around in my brain?

Time change. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I've never been a fan but Oh.My.Goodness, yesterday afternoon lasted forever and I was up by 4 o'clock this morning! That's right...four in the A.M. I've unloaded the dishwasher, folded a load of laundry and washed another load. And here I am blogging and it's not even five in the morning.

Big wedding weekend coming up with the marriage of one of our church members on Saturday and my nephew's wedding on Sunday.

Looking forward to a long weekend with Friday off for Veteran's Day.

Got a notice that it is time for my yearly renewal with the blog. Which ever always puts me in a place of considering whether to keep blogging or not. In theory, to be a successful blog you're supposed to blog regularly and often. It isn't hard to see that I am in a season of not blogging regularly so inevitably I question whether to be done or not. Which means I spend time examining why I even blog and exactly how should I judge whether it's successful and should that even be a consideration. And if I do keep at it do I stay here or move on to a different platform like wordpress or something which seems like a more grown up way to go for some reason.

I am one of those people that hates to see Christmas stuff go up in October.  I also have a rule about not listening to holiday music before December first. I want to very deliberately savor the season of Thanksgiving before diving into the joyful and thoughtful season of Advent and Christmas. However, due to the fact that we celebrate Advent as a family and at church I have to open that door a bit in order to plan and prepare. Not to mention the planning that goes into our 12 Days celebration means I'm already having to think about presents and stuff. I'm really trying to keep a tight reign on things though so that Thanksgiving is given the proper attention. I realized yesterday that I really want some stuffing. I also realized I am not sure why I only make it once a year but so far that seems t be what I do. I treat it like eggnog which means it's seasonal. Except I was surprised that eggnog was out at the store before Halloween even. Don't tell my kids but I already enjoyed some. The next thing you know they'll want to start listening to Christmas music.

Saturday ended much the way it began with a family session that wrapped up in time for me to enjoy a beautiful sunset. Pretty spectacular book end to the day, don't you think?


It's no secret around here that we frequently eat breakfast for dinner. I was actually surprised to find out that two of our family friends not only don't do that upon occasion but the husbands of each family actually dislike it.

So weird, right?

I actually forgot that bit of information and one family was over visiting and dinner time approached and I knew I had all the stuff so I started flipping out frittatas only remembering after I had served him. He really enjoyed them though and told his wife she could make them (for breakfast though.)

My beloved? He will eat them anytime of day as often as I am willing to make them. They're not complicated and really this is more of an assembly post that an actual recipe. But they make for a really pretty looking meal and they're delicious.

Frittata are basically a kind of omelette. A traditional frittata looks more like a one layer cake with all of your fillings (veggies, meat, etc.) mixed in instead of folded into the middle in the way of an omelette. But when Rob and  I went to Lakeland a few months ago and ordered them from room service this beautiful dish was served and it's the only way I make them now.

What you'll do:
Gather and prepare your fixings. I usually roast chopped potatoes after tossing them with olive oil, garlic, and fresh rosemary. I've used store bought hashbrowns but just don't have a knack for cooking them. (I know, I know! It's frozen potatoes but I just can't make them turn out right.)

We love sauteed onions so I try to include them.

Mushrooms, spinach (also sauteed), chopped roma tomatoes, cream cheese or goat cheese, basically anything you'd put into an omelette.

Because you will be flipping the egg mixture you need a small frying pan. I have made Rob a five egg frittata but that gets a little messy when I flip it so normally I stick to four. I make two egg ones for myself or the girls and I have also used one whole egg and two egg whites before.

Whip your eggs in a bowl and pour into a well buttered hot pan just like you would if your were making scrambled eggs.

Just make sure not to stir them and pop any bubbles that begin to rise. Once it begins to get firm use a spatula and flip it just like you would a pancake. It won't take long but while it finishes grab your plate and build your base. In our house we do the potatoes and onions on the bottom. Apparently I sometimes add my mushrooms too.

The we place the egg cake on top and add the other goodness putting the cream cheese or goat cheese on last. According to this picture I guess we tossed in some chopped avocado too.

It's not a complicated meal but it can be time consuming. Sometimes we work it short order style and everybody eats as they come off the skillet but I have cooked up batches and kept them warm in the oven until we could all sit down together to eat as a family.

Some mornings I may leave out a few of the ingredients like the potatoes and onions just because it's faster. I've also added  tomato and green onion to the egg mixture while it's cooking.

So, there ya go...a yummy and quite pretty breakfast you can eat anytime. Even for dinner.

The glory of childbirth.

I've done it five times myself and have had the privilege of being present at least that many times at other births and I cannot find words that even come close to describing the miracle of life coming into this world.

I think that may be why I am so drawn to birth photography. I may not have the words but I can take pictures that reflect, at least in part, the glory of a human being's arrival.

This labor and delivery was one of the most beautiful l&d's that I've been a part of either as a participant or spectator. From start to finish is was saturated in the Word and covered in prayer. And the sense of community was profound.

This was Cody and Jessica's third child but the first time she has ever gone full term before so it was a bit of a waiting game for all of us but the call finally came that labor had indeed started. Little Miss Heidi was also the only day time birth for the family, both of her big sisters arrived in the middle of the night. I think it was incredibly gracious of her myself.

When I got to the hospital they were settling into their room. It was a natural childbirth but periodically Jessica would get hooked up so that heart rates could be checked and contractions were tracked to establish a baseline.

They had made a play list of praise and worship music and had it playing in the back ground. She had also made a list of favorite Bible passages that would be a source of encouragement to her during the hard moments of labor. During some of the stronger contractions her husband would put counter pressure on her back while a sweet friend read various verses giving her something to focus on.

You would think that would be the sweetest moment in the room that day but when things really got going her Dad stood up so he could go hang out in the waiting room until time to meet his new granddaughter. Just as he went to hug her a contraction came on. Without missing a beat her father rubbed her back and prayed over her until it passed.

Later, it would be her mother's turn to give comfort and prayer.

She had such an amazing support group around her each moving in and out of the way giving her comfort and help as needed.

I love the moments with the family and friends but my favorites are still what is going on between husband and wife. 

No matter how hard the contractions Jessica always rebounded with her beautiful smile and sweet attitude.

Heidi was a pretty big girl and it was a lot of hard work to get her here but mama persevered and at long last she made her debut. She had a little trouble breathing at first but the nurses were fantastic and got her going.

Dad was pretty close by keeping an eye on her.

As soon as he was able he very quietly spoke over her, The Lord bless you and keep you, The Lord make His face to shine upon you...

Beautiful exhausted grateful amazing mama.

Welcome to the world, lovely Heidi Rose! Gad has graciously placed you among a family and with friends that have already covered your life in prayer and in His word.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you
in the knowledge of God and of  Jesus our Lord.
II Peter 1:2

A couple of posts back I shared about having the amazing privilege of photographing the birth of my niece's daughter. And while I haven't been able to attend the arrival of my other niece's two sons I have had the great joy of doing their newborn pictures. So I'm really happy that tradition is being carried on with Miss Kya's sweet self.

She is absolutely adorable and we spent a lovely morning together last week taking pictures. Because her mama is who she is and my niece's mama is who she is the child is not lacking in cute outfits and head bling to wear.

But her Daddy gets all the credit for picking out the most adorable coming home from the hospital outfit. He found it and ordered it online as a surprise for my niece.

See what I mean? Worth the wait all sparkly and then those leg warmers! But then we have this on so fancy head piece.

The sweet little baby was a trooper during her pictures. She was awake a little bit but when her mama got her to settle and go to sleep she was out and let us move her all around without a whimper.

And how perfect is this bridge? My mother-in-law just got it as a sweet birthday present for my daughter. It made the most phenomenal prop and I am already plotting and planning how to use it again.

Looking at these and I just can't wait to love on her some more. She is so precious and we thank God for her life.

Welcome to the world little one! You are so loved.

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