home schooling · more cake, please

Cake # 40 – Apple Cider Donut Bundt (second try)


This week I looked over the calendar and realized it was time to begin  testing some fall flavor ideas.  There’s a chocolate root beer pound cake I would love to try.  And a few spice and pumpkin cake recipes I’m looking forward to.  But first – there was a cake I wanted to make again and make it my own.

I first made the Apple Cider Donut Bundt for a friend earlier in the summer and I tried to make it mostly the way recipe assigns – but, I knew I wanted to do a few different things and see if I could improve the cake from something delicious into something incredible.

Well, I’ll tell you – I sent this baby to a youth event and it was consumed with fabulous reviews.  My daughter who has seen and tasted a lot of cake this year says this one may indeed be a keeper!  I may need to take her advice!

Here it is:  Cake #40. Apple Cider Donut Bundt.


3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup apple cider
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla butternut extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 12-cup Bundt pan. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together 1 and 3/4 cups brown and white sugar, cider, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and eggs. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; whisk until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; let cool 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.

Invert warm cake onto rack. Brush small sections of the cake with melted butter, then sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar. (I did this several times – butter, sprinkle sugar, butter, sprinkle sugar)Let cool completely before serving. Cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature up to 2 days.

Give it a try!  I bet you won’t regret it!  happy fall, y’all!


friends and loved ones · home schooling

The 3 R’s of homeschooling

(My lovely kiddos pictured on our first day at a new co-op – Oh, don’t we look super happy! )

Its a mental picture of sorts I have – it describes how our school year is going.  We are about 6 or 7 weeks in to our academics for the 2017-18 year, and I have to tell you about it:

You know that little kid on the playground who is too small to keep up, but is always trying hard, scrambling along just behind everyone?

That’s me.

I’m that little kid shouting, “Wait for me guys, wait for me!”    Almost always a day late and dollar short.

Assignments late for a new co-op teacher?  Check.  Forget an extra appointment, even though its been on the calendar for months.  You betcha.  Trying to remember new passwords and order the right stuff for the right class but getting it ALL WRONG.  Absolutely.

I was looking back thru my journal and found an entry from August where I wrote out all of the “new” things implicated in the upcoming school year -and really it was sort of a prayer asking the Lord for help.  When I got to writing it all out it became clear just how much our year was going to be different from the last – and the whole thing was a little (okay, a lot) scary.  It looked like this:

new school year.  Help
new co-op.  Help
new choir.  Help
new friends and relationships.  Help
new technology.  Help
new requirements.  Help
new classrooms.  Help
new schedules.  Help
new books, teachers, expectations.  help help help!
new expenses, new emotions. HELP!

So, I tried to encourage myself with these words:  New is good.  New is hard.  New stretches.  New is healthy.

It worked just a little.  But then, I thought about the real way to homeschool.  I learned this way back in the early days, but I always forget.  My heart is prone to wander from the truth.

I know beyond any doubt that homeschooling, this year, is what God has for our family.  And with this knowledge I can homeschool using the three Rs.  You may not know them…

Remember.  Remember His faithfulness – that He already has done big things and He will continue to accomplish through me what He has called us to do.  

Rely.  Once I get around to remembering (which is more difficult than one might think) I need to rely on that faithfulness – rely on His goodness, His mercy, His provision.  HE will do it. 

Rest.  I can calm down in the middle of all the “new” that we are experiencing.  Even if I feel like we can’t catch up, even if I feel like nothing is going the way I’ve planned, I can rest in HIM.  He is the author of this story, not me.  I can let my heart remain in HIM.  


“I am the vine and you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”




friends and loved ones · home schooling

everything will be okay… right?

I walked into the room, bringing a wave, no, a tsunami of tension with me.  She wasn’t facing me, standing at the table looking over her teaching materials, and I thought momentarily I might catch her off guard.  “Mrs. Jones,” I said, my voice lightly trembling, “I’m Emily’s mom and I… uh… we …” She whirled around, and stopped me with a gracious warmth in her voice.

Everything’s going to be alright.  Everything’s going to be just fine,” she said.  

I can still hear those words rolling off her lips.  Her eyes were shining brightly with the light of Jesus and she knew exactly what to say.  All of my worries and anxious thoughts were defused in just one moment.   It was a moment I will never forget.

That day was our first day of school in 2016, and Emily was nervous.  But I… I had taken up that nervous-ness right along with her.  All summer, I had coasted along confidently, happily believing we had made the best plans for Emily’s first year of high school. But, as the first day closed in, we both became less and less confident.

Some years are different than others for me in how and what I plan for our school work, but always, and I do mean always, I reach an anxious point.  And at that point, I pray frantic prayers to the Lord for help and wisdom and peace because I know that I can’t do this BIG thing He’s called me to do without His help.

Last year, He used Mrs. Jones to help calm my heart. (And by the way, we had a fantastic year – thanks to the goodness of the Lord!)   School starts tomorrow, but this year, we don’t have a Mrs. Jones.  And so, I’m remembering, His goodness – but also her words and her heart.

Because He is at the heart of our home school, I am confident:

Everything’s going to be alright.  Everything’s going to be just fine.  

And to everyone starting school, at home, or in christian, public or private classrooms – I pray you will live confidently believing :   He who promises to finish the good work He started, will be faithful!   Have a great year!!

a bit of history · friends and loved ones · home schooling

Just Today

My girl is 15.  I don’t really know how that happened so quickly.  It seems like just yesterday we… Well, I don’t need to review all that right now- I’d end up in a puddle of tears and have to stop blogging.  Anyway – I blinked and here we are.

So, we were sitting at the table the other day  doing some school work – and she was finishing up her economics assignment, drawing up a draft of a budget for when she is post-college, working and living on her own.  Now, let me tell you, I don’t like thinking about those things with her.  Not yet!  We can barely stay focused to finish Algebra 1 this year.

But, as we spoke about the future, she really got into it – planned her occupation,  how she’d spend her salary, and many other things.  I could tell, even once we had finished the work, she was still thinking.  Not long after we had moved onto other things, she came back, loaded with questions.

How do we know I can make it to that?  What about…?  And you can fill in the blank – she had so many variables of what might happen and wanted to know what she was supposed to do about it?!?!

I just stared at her like a deer looking into headlights.

I wasn’t speechless because of her questions.  I was speechless because I had asked God the very same thing earlier in the day – except with different variables!     My girl and I are good at asking hard questions, and worrying…

My new prayer journal is pink with tiny, glittery-gold polka-dots.  I had recently picked it up from Target and began writing my requests. I kid you not : That day in my journal I had written a list of circumstances and questions that I could not get my brain to comprehend. From next week, to next school year, to five years from now – I was franticly praying like it was all happening tomorrow.

Completely ironic (or maybe not) is the fact that at the very front of the journal, just days before, I had written a confession to the Lord.  I wrote that I was prepared to wait on Him – and there, in scrolling cursive, I had copied some beloved Scripture.

Psalm 27:13-14

13 I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
14Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.  Wait, I say, on the Lord. 

As I reread the words over and over, I was reminded to wait.  One day at a time- JUST TODAY- is where I can keep my focus, and He will care for the rest.  Faithfulness, day to day – patience, day to day, – and He will bring the strength and courage for what comes.

Thank you Heavenly Father, for the promises from your Word, that my girl and I can share.  Help us to hear Your promises and believe!  Let our hearts find strength in You!  Amen.


Emily with her Challenge 1 tutor, at a formal event this weekend.
She is growing into a beautiful young woman!

friends and loved ones · home schooling · who knows?

here, lately…

We’ve been in the midst of beginning our Thanksgiving season.  At our house we try to celebrate God’s good gifts to us with thankful hearts from Canadian Thanksgiving all the way to American Thanksgiving – which spans about 40 days.  (give or take a few)

Mostly, we try to write down and collect up “thankfulnesses” on little cards.  Each day we store them up in a jar.  Eventually, on Thanksgiving morning, we will spread them out on the dining room table and read them.

Giving regular thanks, right here at this time of year, is a way to combat my own sinful heart in the coming season.   The Advent Season is supposed to be about Jesus coming as our Redeemer and Savior – but often times it ends up in a materialistic quagmire and the pursuit of accumulating more stuff.  In my heart of hearts I want to enter  Advent this December with my mind dedicated to the giving of thanks for Jesus most of all.

In the mean time, let me give thanks to Him for all of his gracious blessings!   These small mercies, that are actually really big in my life, make my journey oh so sweet.


my girl, with our newest thankful jar, her own creation.


our homeschooling life, on-the-go learning at Panera


this pup and her girl – both make me smile.


this new music, balm for my (sometimes- weary- mama’s) heart.


Grandma’s pumpkin pie, eaten with my folks at their house a few miles from mine, celebrating Thanksgiving together. (oooh- there are several things to be thankful for, just in that one phrase)


This guy.  always.  forever thankful.


and my new chair for teaching piano lessons, giving me new perspective.

Happy Season of Thanks y’all!

I’d love to hear what you’re giving thanks to God for these days!

friends and loved ones · home schooling

letting go


“Let’s bake cookies, you know the oatmeal chocolate chip ones? Those are my favorite.  and we can take them to the pool on Friday to share. and lemonade – let’s make lemonade too.” That’s what she said yesterday when we were talking about our week and making a few plans.

I was a bit proud.

There’s one thing I know for sure: I’ve been baking cookies to share ever since she can remember.  It is as normal as laundry or cleaning around here and it shows in her idea.  My girl is starting to think like me.

So, we set out to bake together tonight.  And I found myself huddled with her around the mixer.  Trying desperately to let her navigate, I kept giving unnecessary instruction.  She’s been with me long enough to know how to bake cookies.

But, I’m not good at letting go.    I have this unreasonable expectation of perfection in the kitchen;  cookies should turn out a very certain way…


I’m sitting here waiting for the cookies to cool and I’m reminded of Scripture from Deuteronomy 11.

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

You know, I’ve read this over and over this evening. While the Lord is asking for obedience from His people – He isn’t saying, “Look here, teach your children all of this, and they will go do it perfectly on the first try.”


A few weeks ago my girl went thru assessment testing.  I was a little nervous about what her scores would be.  For the most part I’ve been her only teacher here at home, overseeing all of her education.  Are we on track?  Are we behind?  Have I done a worthwhile job?  All of these questions would haunt me when I was trying to fall asleep at night…

Well, the time came and I sent her into the testing – she had to go it alone and come up with the answers (obviously).  No help from me, other than what I had taught her over the last eight years.

Here’s the thing:  we got her scores today and she is absolutely on track – even ahead on several subjects.  I would like you to think it is because she’s had a fantastic teacher.  But it isn’t. Faithfully we did the work, learning each step of the way.  And when it was time she was successful.   Was it perfect?  Nope- we have some work to do.  But, that’s okay!

As I see  my girl grow into a young adult, who makes good choices, who thinks clearly even when it is difficult and who loves Jesus- I can see that He is working in her.  Maybe that’s partly because we’ve tried to be obedient to settle His words in her heart… or maybe it is because He is having mercy on us.

Sin and mistakes and poor decisions are probably in her future – I know they are a part of my growing up.  But, I’m confident that she belongs to Him.  And I can see that it might be okay to let go just a little bit, let her spread her wings, do things on her own- baking or test taking or any other number of things –  and become the young woman He is creating.


friends and loved ones · home schooling

every morning…

On this, the first day of our school year, when its a tiny bit dreary and gray, and I still have a few books to order for Mackenzie, and still a few more things to accomplish on top of that, I’m grateful for these words from Lamentations 3.

Yet this I call to mind  and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

As a mom, who believes in Jesus, I’m not sure there is a promise I relish and treasure more.

I have these thoughts often, when I’m praying…  “Every morning, Lord?  every one?”   “Never failing compassion?  Are you sure?”

I ask Him because I know I don’t deserve it.  because I mess up A LOT.  But, these words from Lamentations echo in my ears.   And He confirms in my spirit, “Oh yes, I’m sure.  Every minute, of every day, My mercies are fresh and My compassion will not falter.”

It is a beautiful way to begin the school year – with confidence and joy in a sovereign Lord who will keep me and my children each day.