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Five Things

Things have been soooo busy for us since my last “Five Things” post. The kids are back to school now, and life isn’t slowing down any time soon. We had such an awesome Summer, and I’m super excited about Bennett’s soccer games starting soon. There’s nothing cuter than watching a bunch of 6 and 7-year-olds running around a soccer field.


Kendall spent a lot of her Summer at camp, and I’m not going to lie—I was a little jealous and wanted to live vicariously through her, asking a billion questions after I picked her up from her week in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. I LOVED camp so much when I was a kid, and I’m thrilled she loved it, too. Next Summer, she thinks she’ll go more than once. Ohhh the memories!!


Drew and I have stayed pretty busy, too. When I’m not at home cooking or "playing" outside with my flowers, I’m at work as a real estate title abstractor, packing the miles on my little Nissan. I thought once the mortgage interest rates started creeping back up that things in the real estate world might cool off a little, but so far, that hasn't been the case and I am as busy now as I have been for the last year. I won't complain, though, because I know I'd miss it if the market went belly-up, so I will count my blessings and just keep on trucking along.


Drew is living the life! He exited the public accounting business earlier this year to start a new job with the power company co-op in our neighboring county, and he loves it. I love it for him because he seems much less stressed than before. Plus, they let the fam tag along when they send him to conferences, so I can definitely get used to that!


The point is…it’s been busy, y'all, but in the midst of the business, we recognize how incredibly blessed we truly are to get to live this life. We have more than we deserve and pray to always remember our responsibility to be good stewards with the time and material things with which God has blessed us.


Speaking of blessings—this is the part where I get to share with you some of the top 5 “things” in my life…yay!!


1. Favorite Things:


This wouldn't be a proper food blog if I didn't give a shout out to some of my favorite kitchen tools...like this pizza cutter my mother-in-law gave me. Long gone are the days when I use to fumble around with a long-handled pizza cutter, burning my fingers in the process. I recently used mine to cut the Pear & Prosciutto flatbread I made, and I'm still a major fan!


I'm also loving my rimmed baking sheets, another gift from my amazing mother-in-law. I have used these baking sheets more than any other item in my kitchen—they can take the heat and a good beating..ha! They also hold a fair amount of liquid, reducing messy spillover, so I'm a firm believer that every homemaker needs a set of these.


These woven seagrass placemats by Alfie & Gem are a hit in our household, too! They're so versatile and simply beautiful. Speaking of Alfie & Gem, Gemma posts regular tips for hosting and all things home & hospitality on her blog, so bookmark it when you've got some extra time for reading her latest tips.



Here's a couple more of my Etsy favorites I think you should check out:





I am also SOLD on this facial roller by RoslynBoutique. Even if it doesn't make my skin look much different, it sure does feel incredible after a long, high-pressure work day. It helps reduce tension headaches, too!


This skin perfecting exfoliant is top-notch, too! It has nearly 5 stars with 68,000+ reviews, so it's a favorite for lots of folks like me.


I've also been listening to my Google Alexa in the mornings and want to share some of my go-to songs when I need a pick me up. It's been an emotionally rough year for my family with some pretty big losses, and that emotion mixed in with the intensity of my work load can leave me feeling a little drained. So, it’s always good to have a few positive songs on standby to play when you need a boost.


One of my all time favorites is one we often sing during worship where I attend called “The Greatest Command,” and if you listen to this video at 2:48 going forward, you’ll understand one of the reasons we love Acapella worship so much.


During the work week, these are some of my current favorites:


Jireh - Elevation Worship


God of Possible - Katy Nichole


The Blessing - Kari Jobe & Elevation Worship (I don't know if there will ever be a time this one isn't on my favorites list.


Lovely Day - Bill Withers


Walking on Sunshine - Katrina & The Waves...Showing my age a little here, but I still remember watching Tara Lipinski ice-skating to this song back in 1998. Back then, I wanted to be like her when I grew up..haha!


2. Memories we’ve created this Summer:


Memories, y'all. If I could offer one piece of advice over all other advice, it would be to spend the precious time you are given with your family wisely. You never think it might be your last opportunity to make a memory...until you no longer have that opportunity anymore. I miss my parents daily, and while I wouldn't take them out of Heaven to bring them back here, I would absolutely love to have a few more moments with them.


We made memories, though. LOTS of memories. Date nights with Mom, milkshake runs with Dad, and even the tougher memories shared with Dad like the trips we took to put flowers on Mom's grave. I know that sounds a bit depressing, but to me, it's not. For me, I used every opportunity I could get to spend time with my parents-- during the highs and the lows, and now I wouldn't trade those moments for the world. So, no matter how busy you are during the week, please make the effort to spend some time with your kids, your parents, and your loved ones—each and every moment you get. It will be worth every moment of exhaustion after the fun days!




3. Most loved recipes:



Lemony herbed salmon on a bed of brown rice and orzo, with zucchini ribbons, dried cranberries and sun dried-tomato feta cheese, topped with a sweet & tangy honey-Dijon sauce. This dish is super delicious and the final result is so pretty to look at AND to eat!




Maple, Oat & Banana Muffins with Crushed Carob Pieces

Fluffy, moist, comforting and absolutely delicious—these banana muffins are out of this world good! Made with whole wheat flour and natural sweetener, so this is the perfect recipe for a healthy breakfast or guilt-free snack. Get the Recipe



Three-Layer Raspberry, Vanilla Cake with White Chocolate and Raspberry Jam Frosting

Tieghan Gerard’s smashed raspberry cake with white chocolate frosting is my new favorite dessert. Three layers of the fluffiest vanilla cake with raspberries swirled throughout and finished with a sweet white chocolate & raspberry jam frosting. It’s perfection in a cake—seriously! Get the Recipe


4. Favorite Bloggers


Blogging is one of my favorite things to do! I love creating & I love writing, and with blogging, I get to combine some of my favorite hobbies whiling sharing them with you. That's my favorite part of this...the sharing + the community of incredible people blogging introduces me to.


Everything I do on this blog is from inspiration--inspiration from foods I've tried and loved AND inspiration from some super talented bloggers I've followed for awhile, and for inspiration purposes + the opportunity to snag some of the best recipes on the internet, I think you should follow them, too! Here are a couple of my favorites...


Sandy - The Reluctant Entertainer : Food photographer, recipe creator and the Queen of graze boards. She's been a favorite for a long, long time. My husband bought me one of her Big Boards

last year for my birthday, and it's my favorite to use when I am feeding a large crowd.


Kayla - The Original Dish : Just look at her website and photography, and you'll know why I love her! Absolutely beautiful food. She also posts frequent tips that will help you brush up on different cooking techniques, so with Kayla, you get the recipes + culinary training.



5. Photos that remind me how blessed I truly am:



These may seem like random photos, but to me, they are evidence of the ability God has to make beauty from ashes, evidence of God's power, and evidence of God's love. It's been a tough year, friends—honestly, it's been a tough two-plus years, but it's also been a very, very good “two-plus” years. We just hosted several hundred college students Sunday night at church...feeding them, loving on them and letting them know that no matter what they might confront this semester, we've got their backs. The rest of these photos remind me that no matter what I confront in life, God's got my back, too.


That's it for today; although, I could continue talking about my current favorites because life is sooo good, but I'll save the rest for next time. Until then, love to all and I'll see you soon!


-Laura



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