Summer Date Night Ideas

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One day last week, my husband was cleaning out some of his office boxes that had been stored away in our garage when he came across a stack of preserved letters, notes and cards, most of them written by “Yours truly.”  We began reading them and found ourselves laughing, crying, and rejoicing over the years, the experiences we’ve shared, and the goodness of the Lord in it all.

It became so obvious to me that the written note is so important!  Without that, how would we recall these precious memories?  How would we have remembered how awed we were by God’s provision, or how near the Lord was during that trial?

Since that afternoon, I’ve determined that I must
a.) Continue writing notes.  Texts are great, but in ten years, how will we be able to reread that form of media?
b.) Read through the stack I have tucked away from the 36 years behind us!

Now, here are 30 great Summer Date Night ideas! 

  1. My first encouragement to you about a summer date night is to make a time when you and your spouse can sit down and read through some of your cards and letters you’ve saved.  Go out on your back porch to read them, or take them to the lake where you can sit at a picnic table.  Just do it.  It will remind you where you’ve come from and how special your relationship really is!  I fell in love with my husband all over again!
  2. You don’t have any notes?  Sit down and write your husband one today and leave it in a special place where he’ll find it.  Write it on pretty paper.  Spray a little perfume on it.  Then tuck it away so you can start that file you’ll be able to read again when you’re old and gray.
  3. Make your own Drive-In.  Make the setting outside your home perfect for watching a movie or show on your laptop or tablet.  Turn on the patio lights, light candles, get a bowl of popcorn popped and a comfy swing to share!
  4. Bookstore Date–  I first shared about this here ,and no matter if you have done it before, this date can be done over and over again and it will be new each time.  It’s one of our favorites!
  5. Read your favorite books to one another – or find a new one to read!
  6. Bake cookies together
  7. Watch the sunrise, then make breakfast together
  8. Attend a local baseball game
  9. Go for a long drive
  10. Have a picnic
  11. Play Frisbee
  12. Visit the farmer’s market
  13. Video Record the Story of How You Met & Fell in Love
  14. Cook a Late Night Dinner Together
  15. Write a Prayer List & Pray Together
  16. Make Smoothies or Milkshakes
  17. Share 5 Goals Over a Late Night Snack
  18. Do a Puzzle Together
  19. Play a Game
  20. Have a Chip & Dip Night – Add Conversation
  21. Record Each Other Sharing a Recent Memory
  22. Tackle a FUN Project
  23. Write a Gratitude List about one another
  24. Have an Ice Cream Sundae Night
  25. Search for Funny YouTube Videos
  26. Go to Yard Sales and see who can find the best bargain
  27. Go to the Local Bike Trail and ride bikes.
  28. Enjoy an Outdoor Concert
  29. Begin a Date Night Journal and Write down each time you have a date, what you did and any fun memories you created.
  30. Go to a Theme Park Without your children and leave your phones in the car.  Ride all the water rides.  Eat the snacks.  See the shows.  Stay late for the fireworks!

I hope you’ve had a great first week of June, and I hope some of the ideas shared this week will inspire you to create some fun at home this summer!  Each day is a gift from God and is worth celebrating!  So enjoy!!

Stay refreshed in God’s Word this weekend.  We need Him every single day!

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

Family Friday – Ten Things This Mom Would Do Again

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My mommy days are behind me now, and as I’m watching others in this special, yet demanding role, I have done some reminiscing over the years when my girls were young.  I have plenty of regrets, as all moms do, but I’m not going to dwell on those, because I can’t change them, and because doing so would not fall under the Philippians 4:8 things I should think about!  It’s in the past. But there are things that were so good about those days.  As I think back, I remember things that we did that I would definitely do again, if I had the chance.

Here they are:

  1. Be a stay-at-home mom.  I’m so thankful that I was there for all but 9 months of both of my girls’ lives.  The nine months I worked were the longest months of my life!  I hated being taken away from my family and my home.  I was under a teaching contract, and I kept my word to the prinicple, but when the school year was done, so was I!  My husband and I decided that it was best for me to pour into our own children, rather than someone else’s!
  2. Be relatively poor.  Does that sound strange?  I would have never anticipated saying that!  Our churches did the best they could to care for us, but when the girls were young, things were tight.  Very tight. As I stated above, I was a stay-at-home mom, so we lived on my husband’s salary alone.  We homeschooled, so we had book fees and satellite costs, which were a large chunk of money every year that we never had on hand.  We were in ministry all those years, and we needed time away – times to rest and refresh as a family and recharge our spiritual batteries and physical bodies.  We had growing girls and we entertained missionaries and guest speakers, so groceries were another cost that stretched us.  Where did we get the money for these things?  We prayed.  Our inefficiencies ran us to our all-sufficient God.  He provided for us in amazing, life-changing ways!  Had we had all the money we wanted or needed, it wouldn’t have taught us to depend on Him so greatly.  Being needy turned into a great blessing.
  3. Read aloud to my girls.  One way we entertained ourselves at bedtime, around the kitchen table, in the car, or on a blanket in the backyard was through books.  We read a varied kind of books, and they were carefully chosen, and opened a whole world to us, even while we stayed home.
  4. Use God’s Word in discipline.  We always sat down and talked with our girls in their bedrooms at discipline times.  We explained from the Scriptures what they had done wrong that God considered sin.  This kept us from acting quickly out of anger (we sent them to their room and we’d cool off before addressing the issue!).  They knew it wasn’t just that mommy and daddy didn’t like what they did, but they saw it in God’s Word, and it guided their thinking and changed their behavior.
  5. Laugh and have fun.  We had lots of laughs as a family.  I should have laughed at myself more, but we shared many fun times around games, out in the snow, in the car playing the alphabet game, baking in the kitchen, or building a fire in the backyard.
  6. Be faithful to Sunday school and church.  It’s not just because we’re a ministry family that we went to church.  We love being in God’s house and with God’s people!  Worshiping, singing, reading Scripture, giving our tithes, and fellowshipping with other believers helped all of us to grow!
  7. Show outward affection and say, “I love you.”  We’re a “touchy” family, in that we hug and love on one another.  Using words to express love between parents and children is so important.  Our children learn how to love by watching us.  The first place they should feel acceptance and unconditional love is at home.
  8. Leave the girls once in a while to go on a date with their dad.  We were making a stronger home for them, and they lived through the trauma of it all!  A parent can feel really guilty leaving a crying child, even though they’re in great hands with grandparents or other caring adults, but without those times away, your relationship will get stagnant, and you’ll only discuss things like empty milk jugs and unfinished homework!
  9. Spend time alone with God every day.  When the girls were small, this time was limited, but I would read what I could and pray over each of my family.  Sometimes it came a verse at a time, with interruptions in between.  Sometimes my prayers were while I was ironing their clothes.  It was then that I’d pray for the one whose clothes I was pressing.  I often left verses on cards around the house so I could meditate on that passage.  Those “little moments” fed my soul and kept my heart right with God so I could parent them and point my girls to Christ.
  10. Marry my girls dad.  I let them know often how much I loved their daddy and how God brought us together.  He had to be my first priority because that’s God’s order.  Why?  Because God knew that I’d be where I am today – an Empty nester, and He wanted my home to be just as fulfilling now as it was when our daughters were here.

And you know what?

It is.

What are you doing right now that you know you’ll be glad you’re doing as a mom?  Keep doing it!  What are you regretting?  Ask God how to change it and watch for how He steps in!  

Refresh your children by being the mom God will enable you to be by His grace.

With love,

Denise Signature 150 px

Friday Favorites – Christmas 2016

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Christmas 2016 will have to go down as a favorite Christmas!  Everything about it was just special.  It wasn’t perfection, but it was full of good food, sweet faces, and fun memories!  Here are my top photos.  Let’s start with the FOOD!

Christmas Eve – Our traditional Senate Bean Soup, Chicken Gnocchi, Party Ryes, Cheese Ball & Crackers, Veggies & Dip, and LOTS of cookies and goodies not pictured!

Christmas Breakfast – Whitney made Grits and Bacon Quiche, Alli made these Cinnamon Rolls, I made Cream Cheese Danish and Orange Juilius, another tradition.

Christmas Dinner – Spiral Glazed Ham, Twice Baked Potatoes, Frozen Fruit Salad, Green Bean Casserole and Angel Biscuits.

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Now, a look at the Faces:

I’m telling you, we laughed so hard while we were together.  The close up pics of my family were all taken while playing Quelf, a hysterical group game! Our time as a family found us talking and catching up, asking questions, interrupting with another question and enjoying every minute the Lord gave us to share!

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One more group of pictures of random things from the Christmas weekend:

Liza loves ribbon and paper, of course!

I made snow globes for the Christmas Eve table and then scattered bottle brush trees in between.

We went After Christmas shopping and Whitney was nearly beside herself at Target!  We all got great deals that day!  That’s lots more fun than Black Friday shopping, in my book!

A couple days after Christmas we went back to Dollywood with Andrew and Alli.  She and I rode the Ferris Wheel; it was kind of scary in the dark!  But it was worth it to catch the view of the half million lights!

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Love the picture of my husband with his daughters.  They love to tease him, and I’d say he’s had it coming!  😉

I loved that Christmas was on Sunday!  What a special service we had that day!  We also had a candlelight Christmas Eve service that was a blessing!  God’s gift to us in the form of His Son = the BEST gift ever!

Now, I’ll close with my favorite picture of the weekend.  It’s hysterical.  I snapped it as I was getting off the escalator during our epic After-Christmas Shopping trip. This wasn’t long before we headed home.  It wasn’t staged – it just happened ~

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I posted this on Instagram and said that this really said everything about how each one felt about our shopping trip –

Dale – Yes!  Let’s find more sales!
Paul – I’m good; can we go now?
Andrew – You spent how much?!
Alli – Let’s go get a snack!
Whitney – I’m tired, but let’s all smile for Mom’s picture!
Denise – Out front, leading the way!

Thanks for stopping by to see my Favorites today!  What was your favorite moment from your Christmas celebrations?

Happy New Year, Friends!

Denise Signature 150 px

The Real Reason for Supper

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All this week we’re going to talk about a subject dear to my heart – the Supper table.  From the why’s to the who, and the how – we’re going to discuss it all!  If you have any questions or comments about things you’d like to hear about, please let me know in a comment here!  Let’s get started today with the why of supper!

My husband was gone for a few days last week and I missed him greatly!  On the day of his return, I wanted to make a nice supper for him, even though it would be a little later than we normally eat.  I knew he wouldn’t have stopped for anything, and he’d be hungry!  

I could have just warmed up soup or made sandwiches, but I wanted the meal to communicate something to him – I missed him.  I was thinking of him.  He was worth the effort it took to prepare a nice meal.  Supper is more than just filling our family’s bellies.  It’s about letting them know that we care for them.  It’s about taking the time to sit at the table and chat.  It involves reaching across the table for their heart – not just the bowl of mashed potatoes!  So this is why it was important to me to make a nice supper for my husband’s homecoming!  I had a message to share!

Here was my menu:

Short Ribs
Wild Rice Mushroom Bake
Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
Parkerhouse Rolls
Ginger Cookies

I wanted the ribs to be really tender, so I did them in my pressure cooker.  It only took 15 minutes – which is incredible!  Because I was using my oven for the rice dish, it made it easier for me to cook them this way.  I followed these instructions.

We love broccoli, and though I usually just steam it, I thought I’d try roasting it.  I used Ina Garten’s recipe with Parmesan Cheese and garlic.  Roasting it  gives it a different kind of texture – a little crispier than steamed, but it was good!

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Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

4 to 5 pounds broccoli
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.

Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.

The Rice & Mushroom Bake was a nice change from potatoes.  This is an old recipe my mom shared with me years ago.  It makes a lot – so I have some in my freezer for another day.  It’s creamy and delicious.  

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Wild Rice Mushroom Bake

Saute one onion and cup of celery in a half stick of butter.  Add 2 cups of beef broth, one cup of sliced fresh mushrooms and a box of Uncle Ben’s Rice.  Bake 45 minutes @ 350 degrees in covered dish.  Uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.

We don’t often have dessert on a weeknight, but you have to make something special for a homecoming meal!  The Ginger cookies are his favorite and I’ve shared them here.  I bake the large size for 11 minutes and it makes them just soft enough to be perfect with a glass of milk or cup of coffee!

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I encourage you to think about what your meals are communicating to your family.  No matter if it’s you and your children, you and your husband, or a whole table full of people.  Make your supper meal an occasion – not just food.  You’re making memories around that table, so make them delicious and special!

With love from my country kitchen,