menu planning recap: night one

yalls comments on the last post about cooking and menu planning were awesome and mega helpful/consoling. i should have mentioned that i do love my crockpot but cant do it more than once a week or it makes me want to barf. dont know why. i love meat juices as much more than the next girl, but something about all the mingling and seeing and smelling it for 8 hours straight just starts to weigh on my brain and make me feel extra hunger-strike-ish.

so last night was 2 sides and an entree from my pinterest boards.

first up, cauliflower tater tots. a cheesy, creamy way to trick your mouth into eating nature's styrofoam. i was all about it. here's the pin and the original pic:

i figured, sure, the recipe includes heavy cream and cheese, but thats okay because there will be so much cauli happening. i read the recipe (she says you can just bake them or bake and then fry them for extra crunch) and decided to stop at baking mine, since frying them in oil would have been ridiculous (for that much caloric and heart attack factor i might as well just eat real fries from fast food and cut out the hassle and the cost).

you guys, it did NOT go well.

i guess i can blame myself for mixing it all up beforehand. perhaps the mixture sitting in the fridge let the beaten egg whites settle too much so that when i piped them out i had this (yes, a recipe that involving a piping bag, aka ziploc w/tip cut off, is NOT a great one for a weeknight meal):

the phrase you're looking for is, "albino turds."

and then i baked them:

flat little soggy piles.

i was so pissed. but i wasnt ready to call it quits. i wanted to make it at least edible, so i decided to fry them.

about half of them disintegrated upon impact with the oil

of the half that stayed together, some of them did turn out crispy and light and golden brown. with a little salt these werent too bad. but after 30 minutes of work and like $4 of ingredients, i wanted more than "not too bad."

i will not be attempting these again. way too much work for way too little nutritional payoff. sadtimes. and i was sweating and cussing while cooking, which is never a good sign.

i was full-on despair when i turned to my other side of a brussel sprout salad.

we never ate brussel sprouts growing up, but i knew they were gross because so many kids' shows used them as the yuckiest of things in joke references.

but as it turns out, you can shred up anything, cook it in bacon grease, top it with ACTUAL bacon, and have deliciousness pouring out of your ears. this stuff was AWESOME. very easy, very yummy and very cheap.

this is ours.

so so so good. i will be making this again and often.

and for our entree was slow-cooker balsamic glazed pork tendie. i got ours on big sale at publix and was stoked to let the crock do all the work.

the picture is divine....and as it turned out for me, totally unrealistic. theirs looks like it has an awesome char on the meat, but mine did NOT. this was where my crock pot aversion came in. avert your eyes vegetarians and the weak-stomached.

ok so that is the meat, the sage rub and the 1/2 cup water i put in 8 hours earlier plus the piggy juices.

after seeing this every time i went to brush on the glaze, i just had a hard time getting excited after i fished the meat out to actually eat it. i just cant get it up for meatwater.

it was totally tender and perfectly cooked and the glaze was awesome and crucial and everyone else in the fam loved it, (judah: "more fork peez mommy!"), but i passed last night and think i will revisit this as leftovers in a few nights. this is my problem with the crockpot.

not bad. but it was more like BBQ than the delicious roasted pork tenderloin i have made in the past.

and put it all together:
hmmm. i give it a 6 out of 10. the salad saved the day. and my jury is still out on the pork.

luckily the rest of the week is things i have had before and know i will love. monday was my adventurous day so i am a-okay with it not being a rockstar epic meal of perfection. everything was eaten and enjoyed, so, job well done, keight.

one day down, 3 to go.


extreme cooking

one of my spiritual gifts is NOT discipline. for a complete list of "not my spiritual gifts" see...a book about positive traits in highly functional people.

i do have a few spiritual gifts. my favorites are photo captioning and the ability to pick the awesomest thing off of any restaurant menu. go ahead and order that burrito, but i'm telling you, you WILL want my short rib tacos when the food arrives (you know who you are).

but i digress (oh! digression. another gift! i am putting all KINDS of positive-thinking lipstick on the pig that is my scattered brain).

so like i was saying 10 minutes ago, i am bad at discipline. particularly when it comes to food. i actually really enjoy cooking, but since i am not disciplined enough to plan ahead, buy the groceries and store them (in a manner that does NOT involve me finding unopened old yogurt in the trunk of my car 2 months after i brought it home and forgot to unload it), we often are left to scrounge.

this means that most nights jesse and i sit around in denial that we are actually hungry. we make the kids their meals as we get progressively hungrier. it's like, if we wait long enough and dont consciously address the issue, surely one of our parents will show up with a hot, well balanced dinner for us.

whatever you do, dont acknowledge the hunger. it will only lead to shame and frustration that all you have on hand is uncrustables (which i would gladly eat 5 of daily if not for that damned 1 hour thawing time), goldfish and delicious-looking hamburger helper boxes (which we cant make because WE DONT OWN HAMBURGER).

so we ignore it. and then, all of a sudden, the hunger is on my back, clawing at me like a feral lynx in heat. it usually manifests with a barely-suppressible urge to punch jesse dukes in the face for something as trivial as: wearing a flaccid-necked t-shirt, letting the bottom of his shoes touch ANY fiber of upholstery or bed linen in our home, or, god forbid, throwing an enclosed container into the sink (where it will sit for 3 days until i finally do the dishes, wherein, in a fit of domestic hubris, i will be flying through my chore and will endeavor to forcefully and ever so efficiently take the top of a sippy cup off, and will instead end up splashing curdled milk or mystery leftovers into my face, and most likely, my open mouth. cataclysm will ensue).

i deny the boiling hot punch-instinct and cast it away into its happy place: a veritable pandora's box where all of my unpunched punches, unhurled invective, and unrammed idiot drivers are kept. in a inaccessible and forgotten corner of my brain, this pulsing cube of repressed animal instinct pulses and waits; deactivated, but hungry. if science could harness the kilo-joules of potential energy contained in this nugget of pure rage-energy, we would have clean-burning fuel for all of mankind. i was a little afraid that when the castaways on LOST were poking around at the hatch that they had found the secret backdoor to this cache of destruction. dont worry, world, you are totally safe from my primal urges. as long as desmond keeps entering that code.

but we still need to eat. and it's no longer ignorable. we have now reached the event horizon where i know that, "if i dont have a zaxby's chicken finger in my mouth in 40 seconds, i am actually going to die." so this idyll of family life often concludes with a mad dash to some fast food place nearby.

case in point, this week week our dinner menu looked like this:

monday-roly poly picked up by jesse on his way home after my SOS text.
tuesday-chinese take-out, picked up by jesse after his guitar lessons went long and i was losing it at home.
wednesday- chinese take-out AGAIN because they messed up our order the night before and i wanted them to MAKE IT RIGHT. except the language barrier prevented this lesson in customer service, so we just paid them again.
thursday-mcdonald's on the way home because, shit, i NEED this.

so in an effort to NOT die of a diabetic heart-a-stroke at age 30, i decided enough was enough. so i sat down and menu planned for all of next week.

i got out my coupons, my publix flyer and my pinterest. i recently divided my food board up into several different boards for main dishes, sides, dessert and breakfast. so i just went on there and picked out some good-looking candidates and old favorites. it took all of 5 drooly minutes to select all 4 dinners for next week (friday night the kids are with my folks and its a giftcard date night!) and the leftovers will constitute many lunches for us as well since these recipes are for 4 adults.

i made up my shopping list and tweeted and instagrammed the mess out of that pic. hello, world! i am getting my life together!

if you want a better life, you need to be writing with these pens all the time. and 15 bonus stars to me for lining up my post-it lines with my legal pad lines unintentionally.

i know what you're thinking, the lady who cant pull it together enough to unscrew a sippy cup without baptizing herself in the unholy fount of spoiled chocolate milk and anger-lava is going to try to cook real food nightly? without the aid of a sidearm or a bottle of vodka?

yes, i am. i realize that this isnt anything to most humans. from what i hear, most moms cook dinner most nights of the week, even if they work outside of the home. if that is you, kudos. now please put down my thunder and step away from me. we dont even have a dinner table, so let's lower the ol' bar for keighty, eh?

i also realize that going from eating out every night of the week to cooking every night might be a tad extreme. hi, have you met me? i'm keight and i live in the extremes. i am working on improving that. but until then, i'd rather live in the extreme that has me ingesting green food and having regular bowel movements than the one where the doctor tries to draw my blood and all that comes out is MSG, processed cheese food and regret. can i get an amen?

so i will do this next week. i menu planned and shopped on the same day, so all the prep is done. now it's just opening the fridge, putting up the baby gate and getting to work BEFORE the starving hunger lynx crawls up my spine to take over the world. i picked easy but really delicious recipes that either jesse or i can do and which called for a lot of ingredients that i already had on hand (because mama is NOT paying $5 for a "pinch" of saffron, ina).

i hope this goes well. our habit is to go on kicks and then fall off the wagon, but maybe somehow one or two nights a week will hang on and become routine. otherwise, i fully expect bob harper to come rappelling through my sunroof during my next routine visit to the krystal drive through.

does anyone else SUCK at this planning ahead stuff? am i like a 67 inch tall human baby for making this little thing a "goal?" is anyone else a slave to takeout? anybody want to do this with me?

i will try to post reviews and pics of each of the recipes. but i know that even the new ones are going to be good. because, hello? i picked them, and i am spiritually equipped to pick food that i will love.


escape from witch(ing) mountain hour

was that title a stretch? i dont care.

last week we had to escape from the hours of indoor living room mania that comprise most of our pre-bedtime evenings these days, so we bustled ourselves off to the park and the library. since it was supposed to rain and close to nightfall, we had the place to ourselves.

the little tube speaker set tripped judah out big time. though i was 6 feet away from him and visible, he kept needing to tell me, "maaaah-me! mai at paygound!"

sassy pants wasnt too interested in going down slides. but she was all about walking up them and falling on her face repeatedly just to show us who was boss (answer: physics)

a few notes: 1. look at layla's badonk! 2. for the weather, i was overdressed and sweating and the kids were just right. 3. is this the first time i have posted a pic of the mai tei carrier that i made for layla when i was pregnant with her? i LOVE this thing and it is one of my greatest sewing achievements, 4. the ducks got a little aggressive at one point, and i lost my head completely and took off, yelling, "run, judah, RUN!!!!" with 90% serious panic.

put her on a spoon and just let me gulp her down.

hahaha. a kid + loud dora piped in his ear via headphones + a quiet library = HILARITY.

freaking little spazz goobers. they are PERFECTION!


OMG and last chance

i feel like i am in way too deep.

right now jesse and i are preparing and writing for our talks this weekend at our college ministry's retreat where we are the speakers.

the retreat used to be held before christmas, but now it is always in january, so it is called "the retreat formerly known as the christmas retreat," or TRFKATCR for not-so-short.

but because this retreat focuses on relationships, dating, intimacy and marriage, it is usually referred to by the students as "the sex retreat." awesome. that title doesnt go a long way towards convincing people that this isnt some freaky cult.

anyway, i am really, really nervous about this. not about public speaking, but just about getting in the way of what jesus wants to say. we have been working on and praying about this all week. i am sleep deprived and emotionally gassed. i know that jesus uses idiots like me all the time to work his magic, so i am trying to just remember that and trust in it.

i dont know anything or have this junk figured out. i am JUST NOW realizing some of my mistakes and the lies that i have believed that have jacked up my trust in jesse and in jesus. that have ransacked intimacy in all of my relationships. all i have to offer is my story, which is mine and i cant mess up, but it's still a scary thing to offer up.

anyway, if you are the praying type, could you throw up some love for me and jesse. that we will say what god wants those kids to hear, that we will shut up when we need to and that the holy spirit will show up in a big way to work in these awesome students' lives?



and in way more lighthearted news:

hear me now!

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20% off at the poppy chain with code KEIGHT20 at checkout

15% off at 19elephants with code DUKES15 at checkout.



our camera is back from being repaired (for free, thanks to my threats).

so you know what that means...more poorly-composed, ineptly edited photos that are super high-res! i know we can all breathe a sigh of relief now that we're back to that standard.

i wanted to get a picture of the still-groggy layla. i opened the door because our house gets NO LIGHT and because i like the door. i ended up with a bunch of cute shots of lady blue eyes, but this one gave the unintended bonus of some judah hijinks.

he is prancing in glee and his jugular is bulging with a dose of testosterone because he spotted, driving by the house just then, a "BIG DUM TRUHCK!"

this kid has become SO. MUCH. FUN. i can pinpoint almost the exact moment that the switch flipped between needy, boundary-testing, baby boy and awesome, fun kid. it was right at his half birthday. evidently 2.5 is his magic number.

at 2.5 he became fully potty trained. i should note for posterity's sake: we stopped putting him in a pullup at night because he woke up with them dry so many times. in a month of this, he has peed in the bed only twice, waking us up to tell us, "mai have peepee be ewry way-urh."

at 2.5 he stopped the egregious daddy-preferring and started seeing the awesomeness that is mommy. this has been HUGE and only with the grace of god (like, literally and blindly begging for it in the moments of brutal rejection) was i able to get through that period with a smile and some creative distractions that didnt give him REAL reasons to like me less.

after jesse reads him a story, prays with him and sings a song (she'll be coming round the mountain is his new favorite. it has supplanted the song that jesse wrote especially for him before he was born. great taste, judah. sheesh), he demands, "mommy come sing me superman song." if it takes me longer than 5 seconds to get back to his room, he comes to the door and calls down the hall, "mommy, come snuggle me!" obviously, i wait longer every time just so i can hear this. i come running down the hall saying, "you better get in that bed!" and he goes wild and capers off, throwing himself back in bed (i assume he has perfect baby night-vision, because i cant see squat when i enter the room, yet he has never once missed the opening on the side of his bed where the rail isnt).

i say, "what should we do now?" as we burrow under the blanket.

judah: "seeng superman song"
me: "oh, how does that one start?"
judah: "draaaaagon tay-uhls"
me: "then what?"
judah: " water be WIIIIIIDE"
me: "and then?"
judah: "pie-ruhts say-uhl"
me: "and then?"
judah: "loss boys FIIIIIE!"

and then i proceed to butcher that amazing song. judah doesnt mind. he sometimes sings along, catching the last syllable of each verse or so. sometimes he will be totally silent and then just pop in for one word in the last verse or something. these lyrical ambushes are amazing.

after the song is over, i say, "what should we do now?" and he usually says "snuggle me," or sometimes, "mommy pray." if i ask what we should pray for he ALWAYS says "junky moes," first. he means monkey joes, the bounce house play place. this is first among his many blessings.

then i tell him that i am going bye bye. for awhile this was hard and he would cry or beg me to stay and snuggle more. this was like water in the desert for me and i ended up staying for LONG times and he would still cry and cry when i left and it was not fun.

now i ask him the same thing that i ask when i get ready to leave him at church or with a babysitter:

me: "are you going to cry?"
judah: "NOOOOO"
me: "why not?"
judah: "mai braveheart."

this started because as i saw him starting to get scared about being left for church i would tell him that he didnt have to spend time crying because he was going to have fun and that i would always come back and get him. i told him that he was braveheart and that he didnt have anything to fear because jesus would protect his heart. (obviously we never suppress his tears or discourage crying when he is sad, our little routine just turned into this series of back and forth questions and answers over time).

hearing him say "mai braveheart," is awesome on many levels. 1: because it is the toddler version of one of my favorite michael scott quotes. 2: because its adorable hearing a two year old, who is on the verge of crying for his mommy declare that he is braveheart. 3: because it sounds like he is saying "my big fart."

then i tuck him in "snug as a little red judah-bug in a rug," which cracks him up every time, and i say, "i love you judah," and he says, "lobe you mommy," and i walk out of there floating on a glowing hovercraft of uterus because, damn, being a mom is good at times like this.

also at 2.5 he started wanting to help with little tasks, like loading the washing machine (though you have to watch him as he doesnt differentiate between the washer and dryer and sometimes i have found his little skid-marked undies stuffed in with a load of clean clothes in the dryer), throwing things away, cleaning up his toys, putting his lunchbox and book bag on their hooks every day when we get home.

the best was the other night. we were eating dinner in the living room (like you do) and i needed some ketchup. for my own meal. i was feeling so lazy and not wanting to get up, so on a lark, i asked judah to go open the fridge and look in the door for the ketchup and bring it to me. the little sprite was back 10 seconds later, ketchup in hand. embarrassingly, the first thing i thought was, "YES! my own little butler robot! like R2D2 was enlisted to be on jabba's sail barge!" i realize i am jabba the hutt in this scenario, but who cares, yall? i have a free condiment concierge to do my bidding! ...until he foments rebellion and deploys a lightsaber to arm my jedi captive.

dont get me wrong, he still pitches fits and tests boundaries like every two year old, but the fun, hilarious, rewarding stuff is really starting to outweigh the cruddy soul-sucking parts of bringing up a human cub.

a few more fun judah-isms that wont last forever but that i want to remember forever:

-he calls band-aids, "bandaddies." we are pretty sure this is in reference to grandaddy, jesse's dad. it pretty cute that when he gets a boo-boo he asks for bandaddies.

-he just started saying NOPE instead of no. it's way cuter because he doesnt use it with the same situational finesse that an adult would, so it gives an air of aw-shucks ness to his responses. "judah, do you need to go potty?" "nope!" "judah, can i have a kiss?" "nope!" or while playing sardines at his cousins house, every time i took him into a new room to search (all the lights off, per the rules) for the hiding sophie and jesse, i would say, "are they in the closet?" and before i could take a step towards the door he'd pipe, "nope!" every time. i think the dark was making him uneasy in a new house, but the insta-nopes were so funny. he was so sure of where they weren't.

-in the middle of playing or watching TV he will just say, "snuggle me daddy," or "hug me mommy," in the cutest little love bug voice. these guerrilla love assaults are fantastic.

-the kid HATES wearing pants (see above photo). within 20 minutes of going in someone's house (i have only witnessed this at family member's houses, they say it doesnt happen at school) he starts pulling his jeans off or telling us that he wants to take his pants off (he barely makes it through the door at home before they come off). when he did it at home, i thought it was just because i hardly ever wear pants either and he was modelling my awesome habit. but lately, he doesnt care if he's the only semi-denuded person in the house and everyone else is happily pants-ed, his pants must come off. when we're with family, we always let him do it because, who cares, really? and seriously, the little bum and legs in the big boy underpants is the cutest thing ever.

-he knows what red lights and green lights mean. he is my traffic enforcer. if i am coming to a stop at a red light behind other cars, he will say, "stop, mommy, stop," to make sure i know that i dont need to be moving at ALL if there is a red light in sight. if you ask him what a yellow light means he says, "evybody BE careful!"

-chickfila = "chicken a lay"

-he likes to pick up one of layla's paci's and tell me he is a baby. he has never been a paci kid, so this is pretty cute to me. he will climb up in my lap and declare himself a "paci baby," and ask for "a ba-ba of milk." its weird and adorable.

-if he's cold, he will ask for dragon breath. this is where we blow hot air on his neck which tickles him wildly. is we are walking outside and it's cold and i am carrying him he will demand, "mommy, snuggle me warm" and we squeeze each other so tight.

-i cant remember if i have mentioned this before but he calls carbonated drinks, "sugar bubbles." i dont know where he got that or if he made it up himself, but it's kind of right on.

-for some reason, this memory has always stuck with me. when i was about 9, i overheard my older cousins listening to the radio. tom cochran's "life is a highway," was playing. one of my cousins told the other about how her boyfriend's little 2 year old sister loved that song and could sing all of the words and how hilarious and cool that was. i remember deciding, "that will now be my favorite song,." right then and there (was i jealous of the little kid that my cousins thought were cool? i dont know).

a few weeks later i won some contest at a skating party (fastest lap? best umbros?) and the prize was a giftcard to a CD store (if youre from atlanta, it was actually a coin worth $20 at the record store, turtle's...blast from the PAST), and i bought the tom cochran CD: the first ever CD that i bought for myself (i had been given amy grant's white christmas inside of my boom box from santa that year and had scored my beloved "free willy" soundtrack for my birthday (hold me, like the river jordan! so i had those two already). anyway, this became my all-time favorite song. i always requested it at school dances, barmitzvah's and weddings, despite it being an awful song for dancing to. that being said, when cars came out, rascal flatt's did a remake of the song for the movie. since judah loves that movie with a burning passion, i wondered if he would like any of the songs in it. yes he does and the ONLY one he even notices or likes is life is a highway. whenever we are in the car he says, "play lighten song!" (lightning is "lighten a-queen" to judah). or he will bust out singing it while he is playing at home. it's so cool to have him love the same song that i always have AND to have become the 2 year old from my cousin's story who knows all the words to that song.

-he is such a great big brother to layla. he gets so excited when he hears her crying as she wakes up from a nap, "dat cootie pah be wake. mai wanna go and get her." if she is crying in the car he first informs us, "layla be loooooowd," and then says, "dat-dat's okay layla. be happy, layla." of course he also steals toys from her, body slams her and tells her that certain things are "jus for big kids!" but by and large, he seems really tuned into her feelings and wants her to be included in everything we do.

-he is getting such a great imagination and starting to lead creative playtime. he will radio in to me as buzz lightyear saying, "come in star command!" and i radio back as star command, deploying him to some far off sector to search for the evil emperor zurg. he will go, "zurg be in tree. zurg be up dat one? nope! zurg be up dat one? yeah!" he always finds zurg in the second tree. sometimes with jumpy squirrel from curious george.

okay, that turned long. but i am just overflowing with awe at the explosion of development and learning that is happening in this stage. at least 5 times a week i am overcome with how cool and fun and sweet and weird this little kid is and how i am so happy that the sperm that made him was the one that won the race, and that i get to be his mom. i have never been tempted to want to freeze time and keep my kids at any age so far (except for when i was postpartum nutso and said i wanted a newborn forever), but this period is approaching that level of awesome with judah. one day the armpits that i tickle now will be hairy and smelly and he will have a deep voice that pronounces all the words correctly, and snuggling me under the covers wont be so kosher. so the knowledge that those days are coming and there IS an expiration date on all of these little moments and scenes makes me want to linger here as long as possible.

where's the pause button?


weekly pinspiration: rack it like BEKVÄM

according to my pinterest butler robot, i pinned this idea 24 weeks ago to my "organization" board.

some genius (and geniuses abound on pinterest) figured out that a $4 BEKVAM wooden spice rack from IKEA (aka the promised land) would make an excellent way to store all of those kids' books that we love to read but loathe to keep on a shelf where the kids cant read the spines, and therefore solve that issue by ransacking every book onto the floor, where the covers are much more visible.

we were so bouty-bout this solution. we return unto our swedish mothership's bosom about once a month, so the next time we were there we went to buy a few. alas, some other intrepid pinner had bought them all, despite my sprinting, UPSTREAM, through IKEA on a saturday to make them my own (re: an athletic and spiritual endeavor or olympic heights).

so a few weeks later, we were back in the city and finally got our hands on 4 of these.

they sat in our garage for a good, long while, taunting me with their incompleteness. then, castaway on the doldrums of the holidays (no childcare! nothing open! nowhere to go!) jesse and i finally snapped and went on a reorganization frenzy in our living room (which is also dining room, play room, and certified rumpus room--wanna see my certificate of rumpification?).

while jesse excuted my brilliant idea of turning our IKEA expedit 2X4 bookshelf on its end to reclaim to precious floor space, i headed outside to spray paint the spice racks.

a few drywall anchors and some geometry later and we had quite the library in a previously unused corner of the room, a freed up shelf where they used to reside, and happy kids who could judge many books by their covers, like we have tried so hard to teach them to do. ah, life lessons.

i was surprised by how many books could fit on each shelf while still being a really low-profile setup.

the whole she-bang hides behind the front door.

aside: i realize this is ridiculous if you live in a world where you have enough rooms and space for all of your living. we dont. so as long as we are in this tiny house that we feel like we are outgrowing daily, we have decided to make the best of it. we arent entering any design contests or even trying to sell our house (right now) to normal humans who prefer to eat at a table or NOT store their cardamom behind the front door. as such, we are customizing this bee-yatch for our needs so that we don't all lose our minds and go on a nerf-shooting spree through the neighborhood. amen.

the view from the opposite corner.

i love it. and i have gone ahead and invested in a kiddie pool full of spackle for all of the holes in the walls that we are going to need to fill in if we ever do unload this tiny house of ours.

pin on , mes amies!!

only 2 days left, dont forget!

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discounts end 1/20. go get your shop on!


nowhere to sew

as sewing as become a bigger and bigger hobby/job (jhobbie?) the space required to contain my ragtag operation has also had to adapt.

it started out as just a 20-year old (free!) sewing machine on our coffee table (so old that i had to hind-wind my bobbins! ha!).

then the operation got too big for the living room and got upgraded to a NOOK in the guest bedroom.

then it COMPLETELY took over the guest bedroom and became the craft and guitar room (we ditched the old futon for more space, so no one could be our guest even if we wanted) before that room changed yet again and became layla's, forcing the sewing station to overtake the neglected and never-used dining room table, where it has lived and grown ever since.

so before christmas, this is where things were:

effective, yet SO prone to piles and messed and things being squirreled away in other parts of the house.

i think i was still secretly telling myself that this could one day be a dining room again if we needed to show the house or if jesus came back.

but when the christmas etsy season hit, i was SO over not having a place that was organized, efficient and ample enough to support my tiny business.

so that is what i asked jesse for for my christmas gift: to install new craft storage for me. we picked out a few things at IKEA (doy), target and home depot and now my sewing cave make my heart happy, with a place for everything within reach.

we arent going to be in martha stewart any time soon for this setup, but like i have said before, this tiny house may often feel like something we want to unload and escape from most days, but it is actually a huge blessing and can more than satisfy our needs (all pinterest dreaming aside). so we are living in this moment, in this house, the best way we know how. onward.

standing in the kitchen surveying my kingdom

let's dive in, shall we?

ikea sliding basket racks for my fabrics.

these drawers are crucial and wonderful. the fabbies are sorted by color families and the big wire mesh enables me to see all of the fabs at onces. the black plastic drawers on the right hold smaller fabrics that are between yardage and scrap lengths. i love that the fabric is right here under my cutting mat and on my right as i sit sewing for easiest of access.

here's the real glory: the pegboard. it makes me so happy. spotted on pinterest and brought to life!

i got a piece of custom cut white pegboard at home depot for like $6 and a pack of all the accessories (including mounting hardware for the board) for maybe $11. every hook and peg and rack and container you can imagine (and more) was included.

it even had enough brackets in the right size to anchor by tool cups and new thread rack onto it. since they are held up by the pegboard brackets, they are totally movable if i want to reorganize.

the little gray bins on the top left i got for $8 at harbor freight tools (i thing 20 bins were included for that price, but havent needed them all yet) and are open, visible, moveable storage for small little things that i need handy (needles, snaps, etc). they are hung on an anchored rack so i can just pull on bin down and rummage around in it and then put it back. i will probably add more of these along the top in the future from the leftover stash in the garage.

you can see on the underside of the bottom black shelf, i got a strip of adhesive magnet and stuck it up there. this is where i keep used machine needles that still have use, spare hand sewing needles and a safety pin or two for when i need to grab them really quick.

fun jars for scraps, buttons, floss and etc. withing reach and view at all times. i think these are all from walmart

red drawer systems from IKEA and a few new inches for stowing the ironing board.

having the ironing board storable yet nearby was clutch. previously it was just ALWAYS down and in the way since the laundry area where it lived was too far away for me to feel like getting it out every time, or putting it up.

i spy an almost-finished quilt! and a bullseye horsey with a broken leg who is being stabled here until i can fix him.

the cheapo white cubby thing is from target and isnt pretty, but has been CRUCIAL in ending the stupid pile of stuff that always accumulated on the red drawers: maximize vertical space, people!!!).

i used a cleaning caddy to become my shipping station. since our printer is in the other room, i just take this wherever i am packing things up and adding the labels and i have everything i need right there (business cards, scissors, mailers, tape, etc).

another huge win was the iron rack that i found on amazon for $10. its hard-core enough to store a piping hot iron right after i unplug it and it is far out of reach from daredevil little girls who dont understand the rules of physics, thermodynamics, or mommy's house.

magnetic hooks hold my measuring tapes on the side of the shelving brackets.

the top of the shelving unit. baskets for completed items, works in progress, and current orders that need to be completed.

the bottom 2 shelves started out natural wood but we spray painted black. there is still more room on each of them for future grown and storage. i like that i am not maxed out already.

they are about half as deep as the tippy top metal shelf, which holds 8 little cube basket things. this is the hardest stuff to access since it is so high and the baskets are two-deep. but up here i have put the things that i only rarely need. its mostly random craft stuff or really weird fabrics that i hardly ever use. not absolutely ideal, but definitely ample. i put duct tape labels on the bottom of each one which i can read through the wire mesh to know which basket to pull down.

i am a happy girl when i am at mission control behind these babies.


giveaway winners

thanks to everyone who entered the sponsor giveaways. and thanks to the wonderful ashley and beth for making and be willing to give away some of their shops' delicious wonders.

dont forget to use your discounts all week for great savings in these shops (details at the bottom)

on to the winners!

first up was a $15 store credit to 19elephants:

and the lucky third comment was:

the winner of any item from the poppy chain boutique:

comment #20:

congrats to a. leo and raechel. yall shoot me an email and will get you in touch with your prizemakers!

and everyone is a winner because we all get big discounts at the stores for a whole 'nother week.

20% off at the poppy chain with code KEIGHT20 at checkout

15% off at 19elephants with code DUKES15 at checkout.

discounts end 1/20. go get your shop on!


restoring my heart

last night i went to the first meeting of a group i swore i would never set foot in. the first of 17 meetings.

jesus is quite the practical joker. if i ever swear i wont do something, it's pretty much guaranteed that in the next few years, he will take a bulldozer straight through that promise, with me chained to the front scooper gizmo, screaming all the way. and then it will turn out to have been a heaping spoonful of blessing-pants.

2003: "i will NEVER set foot in that campus ministry. they are a cult." a few weeks later, i step in because the athletic association cafeteria is closed and CCF has free chili and i am hungry and lazy. a few months later, i am going every week. a few weeks later i meet my husband inside that building. a few more months and i am baptized by the campus minister. the following year i am working full time and living in the house. as alumni, we now give a large amount of money every month to keep this "cult" running, pray daily that our kids will find a community like it when they get older, and next weekend jesse and i are going to one of their retreats to be the speakers.

good one, emmanuel.

2004: "i am glad he's my friend but i will NEVER date jesse dukes. he's so hairy and i think i saw a neck zit." yall know how that one turned out. homie is the hottest thing inside and out that i have ever set eyes on, and i do bad awesome things to him on the regular.

LOL, jehova.

so i should have known that when i said to my in-laws, "ew, i will NEVER take a restoring your heart group. i'm a hippie jesus chick and dont like binders and programs and i would NEVER spill my guts to a bunch of lady-strangers," that i was essentially saying, "giving me my name tag and my spiral-bound study guide, i'm IN!"

my father in law has worked for over 30 years building his ministry, alongside a few other men, from the ground up. today, they have lots of branches and programs and employees (who raise their own salaries through donations like missionaries) that do a lot of different things (jesse is on staff with them), but their singular goal is building disciples for jesus. hooray, i am all about that. but when he started dropping acronyms and saying "that's a phase 3 principle", he lost me: mental boner deflation.

you should know that i love my father in law (bob) DEARLY, admire most everything about him and respect him more than i can convey. i have probably learned more about jesus from him and my mother in law, linda, than i have from any other 2 people. back when i was doing my failed "top 10 of the oh-oh's countdown," the top ten things/moments of the decade, (here are #10 and #9, the only ones i ever did), the family i married into was slated for #4, behind only jesus, jesse and judah.

because i love him and being around him so much, i was like, "bob, you dont need a binder and boring chapters and abbreviations for how to be more like jesus! just teach people to live like you." and i was all high and mighty because the delivery system wasn't my style that i was willing to miss the entire message. classic keight and totally immature. i'm sure i hurt him by sort of writing off his life's work, but i wasnt against it, i just thought it wasn't right for me.

so a few years back, when they introduced a new program in their ministry, called "restoring your heart," i, of course, heard about it. it was developed using biblical principals, by a licensed counselor, with the aim of discovering where you have been wounded, how those wounds have affected, and still affect you and then grieving those wounds, and beginning to heal from them.

i thought, that sounds great, i'm sure lots of people who had shitty childhoods will really benefit from that. but again, not for me. i dont have any huge, glaring baggage that i felt like i was still carrying around. i have never been abused, havent dealt with addiction, never dealt with death or abandonment...none of the big headliner issues. i figured, nothing that bad ever really happened to me, so any issues i have are of my own doing.

both of the dukes went through a group and talked about how amazing it was for them. i believed them. they never forced anything on me or tried to talk me into doing a group. but it came up a lot because i would inevitably ask them for advice on marriage or relationships or parenting and how they had learned hings, and they would come back again and again to, "i never realized it about myself until i did the restoring your heart group but...."

a few other couples we know have been through the groups (boys and girls are in separate but parallel groups) and have raved about the results. like: every, single one goes on and on about how much it has changed their lives. how much it sucks at first, but then what freedom and wisdom comes from it.

i started to think more about it. but i always came back to, "no, i really dont have any wounds that i havent already healed from."

all this has been playing out over the past 4 years. we have dealt with marriage issues, becoming parents, having conflict with friends and family and trying to think about how we want to raise our kids. lots of these issues seem to repeat themselves: jesse and i having the same types of fights again and again, me losing my cool at judah over the same stupid triggers, getting into misunderstanding with friends because i feel devalued. these sorts of patterns made me start wondering.

one night last month we called the dukes over for an SOS emergency marriage counseling session. after a few hours of talking through things and them asking questions, it finally hit me that i do a lot of the things that cause me and jesse and my kids pain (and will continue to) because i am wounded. not in any lifetime original movie kind of way, but just in a way that screams, "oh hey, this is a fallen world and sin and lies are everywhere and they are all over you. didnt you know?"

i came to the conclusion that while growing up i interpreted and received what i thought was truth the only ways i knew how. in the process i was told, perceived, believed and reacted to many lies. lies about who i am. lies about who jesus is. lies about how god loves me. lies about shame and worth and safety.

it is really important to note here that there isnt a human bad guy in this story. it's not like my parents or a bully or a teacher ever outright lied to me on purpose to hurt me. and even though, sadly, that can sometimes be the case that people lie to and hurt us intentionally, we have to remember that they are victims of a broken world too. the only person whose entire identity is that of a liar is satan. he is where all of this shit comes from and it gives him amazing amounts of joy when he can convince us to swallow them.

every single one of us is a limping, burned, disfigured product of these lies. in the process we bang around hurting each other, even if we want only the best for and to love one another.

so in the process of growing up, and with the mind of a child, i interpreted false messages that wounded me. that taught me unhealthy patterns and unwise reactions. as kids we are constantly being passively programmed: taking what we see and hear and experience and feel and instantly interpreting it, with no conscious thought--with our tiny minds--into the worldview from which we will operate for the rest of our lives.

so, yes, a 3 year old programmed the brain from which 80% of my thoughts, assumptions and decision originate. awesome! that really explains so much.

satan is a crafty asswipe and he hurts us the most subtly as children, when we are too immature and unlearned to put words to the hurtful things and feelings that we come across. these unnamed things get cemented into our heads as "just the way things are" or "normal," or, "truth," and by the time we are old enough to "know better" (no, my dad didnt love me less because he worked all the time, or no, my mom didnt think i was stupid because she encouraged me to do better in school, or no i am not worthless because some bully kid singled me out), it doesnt matter because the fallout from those unspoken lies has already tangled itself around so much of our operating system that it has become our truth, even if we "know better" in our conscious minds.

i would say the easiest people to hate in this life are those that target and harm children. well, the devil is the king of child predators and he started working on us from infancy. he has planted sneaky and evil lies in the hearts and minds of the smallest souls that never even knew they were in a war or had an enemy. it is disgusting and evil to the core. satan's lies seek to harm us in the only lasting way that we can be hurt: by tearing us away from the truth of how much jesus loves us. it's his only weapon and he wields it with impunity and skill.

it's hard to imagine any damage being worse than what we read about in the papers or see on the news about the horrible and rare things that can happen to children, but i am realizing that every single one of us has been the victim of an even worse abuse: trying to have our hearts and minds stolen away from and twisted against our most perfect heavenly father.

and the sneakiest part is that these acts committed against us leave no outward signs, and the victims and eyewitnesses to them don't even know they have even occurred. let me say it very clearly: satan is a disgusting, malicious piece of garbage and is the only one who hurts us with full knowledge of what he is doing to us and why he is doing it. he isnt acting out of his own woundedness; he is acting purely out of his identity as a predator who wants to destroy us.

i was always afraid to talk about my "stuff" because mine "isnt that bad." i was afraid of looking like a pampered little complainer next to others who have suffered in more external or obvious ways. but you know what? i am just realizing that that's a lie too. everybody has their own stuff and by saying someone else's is better or worse than mine, i am attempting to judge whats good and what's evil based on some scale that my brain came up with. i seem to remember that doing that exact same thing didnt work out so well for all of us when adam and eve first tried it out in the garden. and you know who was right there telling them to do it? plot twist! it was the devil there too.

i now hate the little saying, "if we all put out troubles in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd want to grab ours right back out again." we are ALL living in a broken world and have been poisoned by it. every single one of us lost. no one wins this contest of "who's got it roughest/easiest?" because they have the "least" or "smallest" mess. it's not an objective scale. we are all walking around with the same score: me-0, satan-1.

just like you cant compare your physical pain to someone else's because you CANT FEEL THEIRS, we can't do that with emotional pain either. what wounded me is what wounded me and that's all i have any control over or firsthand knowledge of. end of story.

so i am done keeping my junk in the darkness. that's what satan wants anyway. for me to feel like i am a freak or that i am alone in feeling this way, or that i am lucky and didnt really get hurt. that's not truth and that's not jesus. there is no shame in christ. he would never turn me away and say, "shut up, that memory of being humiliated in 8th grade was nothing; try having nails through your hands." he is ever-comforting, always gentle, and wants to be with me FOREVER. there is nothing in my heart that he would ever dismiss or write off.

so i will be going through this class for 17 weeks with 6 other women, all strangers, led by another woman who has been trained by the people who wrote the program. i am have committed to a serious covenant of confidentiality about the things i hear during our group about the other women's stories, but i do want to share my own personal walk through this process in a public way a little bit in case any one else has ever thought there stuff was too big, too small, too ugly, too messed up or too anything to not address.

my goals: to stop some of the cycles of unhealthy behavior and recurring wounds that i exhibit, receive and inflict by discovering the lies and hurt that i developed these behaviors in response to. that sounded fancy. here's what i really mean: to figure my junk out before i pass it on to anyone else or make it worse for myself. to walk more like christ.

the thing that finally won me over was hearing my inlaws get emotional saying how much they would give to have gone back and done this before they had kids. they would pay thousands of dollars to have known what their owns wounds were so they could catch themselves in the moment of acting out of those wounds and hurting their kids as they were raising them. their gown children are already benefiting greatly from having more healthy and self aware parents, but stopping the cycle for the next generation BEFORE the many of the wounds and lies are cemented in childhood is an invaluable opportunity that i couldnt spit in the face of.

dear jesus, i already know what it feels like to have wounded my kids due to my own issues. i refuse to do that anymore out of my ignorance. will i still wound them? inevitably and tragically, yes. but i will have this stuff in the light, before my eyes and turned over to jesus, so its insidious power is lost. i might not ever get the cure on this side of heaven, but just knowing my diagnosis and what the symptoms of my wounds are will go a huge way toward breaking the cycle of their power to cause even more hurt.

i am so ready to start the painstaking process of asking the questions that lead me back down the tangled paths of emotional unhealthiness and identify where the stupid, backward messages started. to call out the lie and deny the liar. to claim the freedom that we have all been promised by the one who is truth. to trade in my scorecard of k8-0, devil-1, and redeem the inheritance that i was ransomed to: jesus-a billionty googzillion for ever eternity, satan-jack shit.

bring on my sprial-bound binder of class materials! i dont expect this to be easy. i dont expect it to be fun or solve all of my problems. i do fully expect jesus to show up and hold my hand and start turning the pixels of my heart one by one over to the truth side. it's what he does, when we let go and let him, and he's kind of undefeated at it.

here we go.


january sponsor & giveaway: poppy chain boutique

i am thrilled to be showing off my first ever sponsors today and giving away some goodies from them. be sure to check out both sponsor posts and enter both giveaways!

the poppy chain boutique is jam packed with colorful, handmade, vintage inspired accessories. the brains and hands behind the operation is my friend (and running teammate) ashley, and girl can turn out some drool-worthy jewelry at great prices.

i have a pair of her mum earrings in red and a large carnation pendant in emerald. i wear them all the time and constantly get compliments.

things i am lusting over now from her include and are not limited to:

summer evening bouquet bobby set which i am aware that i could never pull off, but i girl can dream.

clementine baby rose earrings. hello spring and summer, peeping out of my earlobes!

midnight full rose necklace. arg! i want this so bad!

ashley loves custom orders, an is always willing to try to whip up a color or style that you might not see listed. she also ROCKS on presentation. when i got my necklace from her, it was like christmas at rivendell because only an immortal an beautiful elf could have made such a lovely parcel (yes, that was a raging LOTR reference).

THE GIVEAWAY: any item of your choice from the poppy chain boutique etsy shop

to enter (required): leave a comment on this post saying which item you'd pick if you won

additional entries (separate comment saying you did so for each):

-be/become a follower here
-favorite the poppy chain boutique etsy shop
-be a follower of ashley's blog

so that's a total of 4 possible comment for 4 entries. i will announce the winner on friday morning.

DISCOUNT: from now until NEXT friday, the 20th, everyone who enters KEIGHT20 at checkout will receive 20% off their entire order at the poppy chain boutique.

is it tacky if i use the code too? i dont care! you know opium comes from poppies, so i am blaming them for my addiction.

go, shop, enter, favorite, follow, win, prosper!

january sponsor & giveaway: 19elephants

i am thrilled to be showing off my first ever sponsors today and giving away some goodies from them. be sure to check out both sponsor posts and enter both giveaways!

19elephants is a shop full of handmade deliciocity. it is run by beth, and sister is a jack of all trades. she is rocking the sewing, crocheting, hairbows and more. all at really great prices.

there is SO much variety in the things beth can make--and make WELL--, from scarves for me to lunchbags for the kids to a beanie hat that i am pretty sure jesse would look mega-fine in.

here are just a few of the things i would go bananas for (for reals, the variety of things in there is amazing) if i had my very own 19elephants shopping spree:

the crochet cowl with flower pin. seriously. i must have this. comes in lots of colors, but i love this oatmeal shade already.

no fancy lady tying of the scarf to make it look cool: it just sits there and is awesome all by itself. and i would use the removable flower pin (in my choice of color...i choose gray!) like a red light green light scenario. if i have the flower on, i'm feeling friendly and want to make new buddies, but then when i take it off i am cool and unapproachable. that's totally how it works, guys.

so help me, layla *almost* has enough "business in the front," to necessitate a bow and balance out her "party in the back" baby mullet. one of these adorable litte accents would make her terminator assaults even more darling. plus, people would know she's a girl when we dress he in judah's old sneakers and shirts. bonus!

this thing would give judah so much joy, running around, roaring (do crocodiles roar?) and taking big chomps out of everyone. i love his big googlie eyes and shiny white grill (the puppets that is...and judah's too). the fact that this is a hand made and not mass-produced toy would satisfy the hippie mother in me that would come out if only i fed her some quinoa.

GIVEAWAY: $15 store credit to the 19elephants etsy shop

to enter (required): leave a comment on this post saying which item(s) you'd use your winnings on

additional entries (separate comment saying you did so for each):

-be/become a follower here
-favorite 19elephants etsy shop

so that's a total of 3 possible comment for 3 entries. i will announce the winner on friday morning.

DISCOUNT: from now until next friday, january 20th, everyone who enters DUKES15 at checkout, will receive 15% off their entire order at 19elephants.

good luck! and you'd better hustle if you want to beat me to that cowl!