Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Checking in

Hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. We did, and I will share pictures soon.

Speaking of pictures, I'll be sharing a special one on Friday. Here's a hint. =) I really don't have a prediction this time--just hoping to see a healthy little one!

I have lots of other posts planned for the next couple of weeks, too, including a book review, our Merry swap show-and-tell, and Nathan's 5th birthday. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


“O Thou who has given us so much,
mercifully grant us one thing more--a grateful heart.”
– George Herbert

Hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A little fall treat

I confess I have a hard time paying for drinks at coffeeshops. Sometimes I feel badly about that, because one of my best friends is a *bucks barista, and our neighbors own a local coffeeshop where two of our close friends also work. I want to support them, but it's hard for me to hand over $2-3 for some tea or steamed milk unless it's a special treat!

I'm not a coffee drinker, so that's not a temptation, but sometimes I want a fun warm drink, and I rarely make anything at home besides tea or hot chocolate with marshmallows. But I was excited when I saw a simple but unique beverage idea in a magazine: pumpkin pie cocoa! Here is the recipe adapted for one serving:

  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup hot cocoa mix
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. canned pure pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream
In a saucepan, whisk milk, cocoa mix, pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice; heat until steaming. Pour into mug and top with whipped cream. (I omitted the whipped cream, and it was still pretty yummy!)

I think this drink cost me about 25 cents. Now that I can handle! =) And even though coffee is not my favorite, I did make this other pumpkin drink a few times last winter when friends came over, and it was also delicious!

What's your favorite drink on a cold day? And are you more of a coffeeshop person, or a make-it-at-home person?

*And speaking of treats, the winner of the hair accessory giveaway is #4, Katie! Thanks to all who entered, and remember, Kendra is offering free shipping until Friday!

Photo courtesy of The Motherload

Friday, November 11, 2011

Simply Sweet Chic Giveaway

11/11/11 seemed like a fun day to host a giveaway!

I mentioned awhile back that my sister-in-law, Kendra, recently opened an Etsy shop where she sells darling headbands and hair clips. Well, today, you can enter to win one of these pretties!

Check out these cute styles, made even cuter by my adorable nieces!So, how about you? To enter, visit Simply Sweet Chic Shop and browse the selections. Then come back and tell us which one you would choose if you win. (PLEASE NOTE: For some reason, blogger will not allow me to link to her Etsy shop. Please go to Kendra's blog and click on her shop button on the right side of her page. Or you can copy and paste this URL:

Contest will be open until next Tuesday morning. Item can be shipped anywhere in U.S.

And if you don't win, Kendra is generously offering free shipping if you enter the code CARRIESENTME when you place an order by 11/18. Happy browsing!

Awesome photography credit (bottom photo)Link

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Boo, y'all!

The above expression is a nod to a funny family memory . . .

Anyway, I have several pictures to share today. First up, our kids in their trick-or-treating costumes. Our very cute dragon (dinosaur?!) and lion:Second, we were so blessed to have my parents here this past weekend. As always, the time went way too quickly, but we had a wonderful time together.

*This worked out perfectly: Nathan had to bring something to preschool on Friday that started with a "G"--what better to bring than GRANDPARENTS?!*Snuggle time
*Goofy grinsThanks for coming, Mom and Dad. We love you! And I am thrilled to say that as we approach the third anniversary of my dad's diagnosis, he continues to do well and to amaze both us and the doctors. Praise the Lord!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Our host family experience

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we are a host family for an international student attending our local college, and I was asked to share more details about that. If you were to look into a program like this at your local institution, it might look quite different, but here's what it entails for us.

The host family program at our college has been in existence for decades, but this is just our second year participating. Most families who sign up are assigned a student, but in our case, we made a direct request. We were particularly interested in hosting Cristina, because a close friend of ours helped make it possible for Cristina to attend college here. She is from the poorest European country, and it is through generosity and God's grace that she finds herself in small town Iowa!

In the program we are part of, international students live on campus and not with their host families. Our role is to offer friendship and support, as well as a place where she can hang out, do laundry, and eat meals now and then. Because Cristina wasn't bringing much with her due to luggage, we compiled a list of her needs which friends and people in our church graciously helped provide. Eric has assisted her with registering for classes, setting up a bank account, and purchasing textbooks. She has regularly used our computer since we have a webcam and she can Skype with her family. We have had her over for quite a few meals, and we have helped her with an assigned paper on American culture. (Very interesting--she asked lots of questions about our values and beliefs.) On average, I would say we see her 2-3 times a week.

Cristina hopes to be here for four years, so the plan is that we will remain her host family during that time. Our kids love her. She is excellent with children, and she often brings them a little treat, which is a fun surprise for them!

Being a host family for an international student is a unique opportunity. We consider this commitment a part of our desire to show hospitality. If you have additional questions, I would be happy to answer them. Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Merry Swap!

It's time for another Christmas swap! We are pleased to announce that our next Sister's Shoebox Swap has a theme of Merry!

For those are who are unfamiliar with our swaps, my sister and I started these several years ago as a unique way to make a new friend and encourage them. Based on the information you send us, we match you with someone we think you will pair well with, and then we ask each of you to fill a shoebox with goodies tailored to the theme and your swap partner. It's a lot of fun!

Please read the following details carefully if you are interested in swapping:

1. In order to participate, you must either have swapped successfully with us before, or you must be a regular commenter on one of our blogs (The Homespun Heart/with all that I’ve been given). You don't need to comment daily, or even weekly, but we need to recognize your name when you sign up.

Before you send us an e-mail, please consider if you have the time and resources to fulfill your swap. We don't want anyone to be disappointed!

2. You need to fill out your questionnaire as part of the sign-up. In order to sign up for this swap, please e-mail with the following info:

complete mailing address
e-mail address
blog site, if you have one

If you would be willing to ship internationally, please indicate that specifically. If you don't mention it, we'll assume it's your preference to ship within the U.S.

Also, please answer the following questions in your sign-up e-mail. The more thorough your answers, the better we can match you with someone complementary.

* How do you define a Merry Christmas?
*When you think of Christmas, what colors or images come to mind?
* What are your do's and don'ts of holiday decorating? (for example: Do you collect snowmen? How do you feel about Santa or religious decorations in your home?)
*When it comes to gifts, are you more likely to buy them or make them?
*Do you have a favorite Christmas book or movie?

Sign-up entries must be complete to be included. Even if you’ve swapped with us before, please send all of the information requested above. Please keep the theme in mind when selecting items for your partner, and as usual, please limit your gifts to what can fit in a shoebox.

Important dates to consider:
Sign-ups due by 8 a.m. (CST) Thursday, November 3, or when 40 people have signed up.
Partner info will be e-mailed to you by Monday, November 7.
Please send your shoebox by Friday, December 2.

If you have not received an e-mail with partner info from us by November 10, please check your “junk” folder first, and then contact us if needed.

Thanks, and happy swapping!