It’s four in the morning. I can’t sleep. I have been up since 2 am and have been sitting in a tub of tepid water all the while, pruning while I think. Of all the nights when I needed sleep, this is the one. A week of cooking, Thanksgiving-ing and Nutcracker practices and performances for the tiniest tin soldier have me feeling gnawed at. I am thankful though.
We avoid the Black Friday shopping crowd, in fact I hate the whole occasion. We went to some thrift stores instead and our thrift haul was sweet. We found Kenny a new-old Wool Blazer to replace the one I decided to put in the dryer. Tired Mom strikes again. We found a cute fall skirt for Emma for 1.00. Also, we found a beautiful wooden train set for Alice for Christmas for 5.00. Kenny found some Santa mugs for pennies, He’s been collecting them every Christmas from thrift stores and shops. I was able to get some new ornaments for our tree Saturday as well, I can’t wait to add them to our humble collection. I am so thankful.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday were packed with performances but I managed to stop at the Book Tavern for Small Business Saturday and get 90% of our Christmas shopping done there. I am very thankful for places like the Book Tavern and our friends that own this gorgeous place.
After promising my daughter we’d go Christmas tree shopping Sunday after her last performance and realizing on the way to the Christmas Tree Farm that with bills coming and a need for groceries we were going to have to wait, I couldn’t help letting the stress of week hit me with a guilt flood and cry until I realized Christmas Trees can wait. They aren’t the most important things about this season anyway. Advent is primary, time spent with Family is also so important to us. We, instead of Christmas tree shopping, took a detour to my Parents’ home and had leftovers to suffice for the night. In the busy-ness race, I’ll happily come in last and not worry if our Christmas is Pinterest-worthy or not. There is provision for today and Christmas Trees can wait. I am truly thankful.
Thanksgiving is over but let’s not stop showing Gratitude and giving Thanks throughout the seasons. God is good and there is enough for today and Christmas Trees can wait. When I forget and get discouraged hopefully I can remember Psalm 37 and wait patiently on Him with Joy.
Posted on December 2, 2013 by Ellie
Despite what others may think there is beauty in Simplicity, especially at Advent.
We are about to be in the biggest consumer season of the year while we hustle to out-do our personal buying records of 2012. This post, though, is not titled “The evils of consumerism” or “Things don’t make you happy” or “Stop making Christmas about Stuff”, even though the latter would probably fit. This is not a negative spin on what you shouldn’t do at Christmas time but instead what you can do to make the season more lovely through less. I would just love to see the Advent Season primary and the Western World putting less emphasis on the commercial race.
We give gifts, don’t get me wrong, we do. We love to give gifts and believe it is an extension of a bigger story, but we want to be responsible in our gift giving and in our home so we can focus on a better Christmas Story.
If you follow my blog you know that there are things that my Family has done to live simpler and intentionally. This is not a banner of Simple or Intentional Living that we want to hold high but something that was spurred from circumstance and a desire for joy in the gifts we’ve been given. It has been a step onto unsure ground to start learning this lesson. It is starting to be a beautiful thing in our lives as Faith is more central.
1. Study the Advent- Do a Jesse Tree, this had drastically changed our percepetion of the Season based on what we turn our mind to this next month. We have done a Jesse Tree for the past three years at Advent time and we love it. We adopted this new family tradition from the encouragement of other Families that saw the value in it and I am so thankful we did. Here’s one that we’ve enjoyed the past few years: Ann Voskamp. Our church recently did a ornament swap for the Jesse Tree Advent Devotional and we are excited to do a Jesse Tree once more this year.
2. Stay away from the comparison game- Pinterest and Social Media are tools, they are not evil of themselves but when used for comparison can aid in stealing our Joy. Good ol’ Teddy Roosevelt, Man’s Man Extraordinaire, said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” and this is so true. I have to be careful to not allow Social Media to become a tool in a Self-Pity spiral. Be joyful in what you have and what has been given and in the humble things you can give. Being mindful of simplicity in your wants and desires can be a better tool than re-pinning every new thing. I do use Pinterest for visual bookmarking but I try to do it in a way that is practical to our needs and a be mindful of desires that out-weigh the simplest wants. “Dream Boards” are fine as long as you don’t think you have failed in life because you don’t have all these things. Maybe I’ll talk more about Pinterest and this new form of wanting in depth in another post. But even in life without Social Media, Let us also teach ourselves and our children not to compare themselves to others.
3. Evaluate your Families needs first and then wants and reasonably what you can do- Maybe I’m “that Mom” that gives my kids things they already needed for Christmas and it’s usually more books and clothes than toys and gadgets. I am of the mindset that children are happy with simple pleasures and don’t need a lot of fluff at Christmas time. I mean our our grandparents were content playing with sticks and have you ever given a child a cardboard box to play with. Seriously though, I could probably give my oldest a cardboard box for Christmas and she’d be happy. I’m not advocating Cardboard Christmas, or Am I? Just using that as an example that children are happy in so many ways other than receiving the most of the most.
4. Give Less in some ways and More in others- Be thoughtful and frugal when you do give and it goes much farther than expensive and frivolous. A simple thoughtful gift that matches the gift receiver well is so much better and more personal than a quick expensive buy. This requires some thinking and planning but is worth the time spent. You know what else, you can be honest with yourselves and others on what you can afford to give. You don’t have to make all handmade gifts, so people don’t like handmade gifts, in fact. (Even though we give art and screenprints and that seems to please most times) You can be thoughtful and not spend a lot. Take the excess money that you would have spent and apply towards life long gifts for those in need. Whether it’s giving to a local charity, a missionary fund, buying a goat, helping to fund adoption, these are good gifts that can change someone’s life forever for better. a. Hope for Augusta b. Lottie Moon c.WorldVision d. Covenant Care
5. Don’t buy a Christmas on Credit- America is in debt, families are in debt, We are a nation that spends increasingly more and more than we have. If you cannot afford to buy gifts without a credit card, think of alternatives to expensive gifts. Cheaper, more thoughtful gifts, or a handmade Christmas with items available is a sweet and simple Christmas. Be careful what you teach your children about money, is it better to teach them to spend only what they have or to go into debt spending outside of what they have?
6. Look at your life, revisit hearts, remember the joys you have and be thankful- Be Thankful for what you have and Don’t forget what Christmas is about and why we celebrate Advent, this point is just an extension of the first point. Long before the New Year of promises begins, let us look at our hearts and lives and center them on Christ. Revisit living simpler faith lives this season and into the next and being joyful for every single non-physical gift given. A simple thankful life has more value, in my opinion, than years of unmet desires.
Nativity Set above is from Minniefolk, this is one thing we wanted to get for this season, our first nativity scene.
Posted on November 21, 2013 by Ellie
“Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not.” — Ruth 2:15.
When I think about all that has happened in our life and all that God is doing I can’t help but wonder in awe at what he has down, what he has provided, what he is providing. When we feel the sting of need and provision like the Brothers of Benjamin through the drought, He allows us to glean from the crop of the field he has provided, though we do not deserve it. Why do I doubt that God is able to do these things when he has continually done them for us. Countless times God has provided for us, Jehovah-Jireh, our provider. He has allowed my family and countless others to be benefitted by his Mercy when things seem too difficult to handle. When I feel like the room is shrinking and the air is leaving my lungs to never return, it is only temporary, I pray, as long as I can recall what God has done and what he has taught me.
There are days or weeks or sometimes months where we do not know where our grain will come from, but He provides. If you have ever felt the lows of deep need, you can understand how beautiful the realization of provision from God’s hands is. I’ve struggle with depression and anxiousness, deep despair and I can tell you how tiresome it is. The thoughts that pervade my mind at those times have been dangerous.
“I am ready to give up; I am in deep despair. I lift up my hands to you in prayer; like dry ground my soul is thirsty for you.” -Psalm 143
Anxiousness and Worry hide away truth. We can have the confidence of provision for today and the strength for today. The Spirit helps us in our weakness so we may persevere. I am slow to learn this.
“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
― Corrie Ten Boom
So, I know now through much stubbornness and doubt that God provides for all my needs according to his riches and glory. I am stubborn because there are times when I choose to feel pity for myself instead of believing promises I know. I am doubtful when I forget the promise and what is and has and will be done. Although I forget or choose to deny it at times, I can’t help but sing today “Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”. I haven’t come to even start to understand this fully, what I’ve learned is not even a grain of sand in the scheme of the beginning and end and forever. I am astonished. Amazed that God is merciful and preserves me, just like the Brothers of Benjamin and Joseph who could not understand mercy bestowed, undeserved.
Not only does he provide for my physical needs, my spiritual ones that have experienced the drought of doubt and self-pity for far too long are being restored as he allows for me to come and glean from the sheaves. He calls me beloved and gives me, us access to the mystery hidden for the ages that I could not earn on my own. I am thirsty and my soul is like dry ground in need of rain. He lets me still come and drink and glean from him, because I hunger.
Ruth had no right to go among the sheaves to glean, but Boaz gave her a right to go there by saying, “Let her do it.” For her to be allowed to go amongst the sheaves, in that part of the field where the wheat was not already carted, was a special favor; but to go among the sheaves, and to have handfuls of corn dropped on purpose for her, was a further proof of the kindness of Boaz. -CH Spurgeon
Grace is a beautiful thing. Grace, Mercy and Love even more so.
Remember the Psalms when we feel the physical and spiritual drought so we that can be Satisfied.
As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation 6 and my God.
Posted on November 19, 2013 by Ellie
I wanted to share some recipes from the archives, some fall-friendly recipes for this beautiful season.
I don’t know why it took so long but I updated the Recipe Gallery with a few more food recipe articles, I wrote for the Verge about a year ago. The Pumpkin Spice Latte (link above) is better than the S-bucks in my opinion. Here are some more fall deliciousness from the archives.
and these delicious, but my pics are a little messy, don’t let that discount the amazingness of the recipe.
I have a recipe for Korean BBQ tacos that I need to pull out of my old articles to include on the blog, Korean BBQ anything is my favorite thing any time of year. I’ve updated the Recipe Gallery to include a few more recipes and can guarantee all have been tested and we’re Yummy. http://ellieeugenia.com/recipe/
I hope that you can use and enjoy these recipes. Happy Fall Cooking and Baking.
We have just been going, going, going for the last few weeks. There’s a lot of events happening in this wonderful month and I’m happy for the little rest we are getting here and there. This past week was pretty amazing even though we were very busy and we didn’t get a lot of down time there is a lot going on in the life of the Benson’s. The big event was Star Wars Reads Day at the Library and Kenny dressed up beacuse he was working it, he dressed up as Jango Fett and Emma dressed up as the cutest little Princess Leia (above), a ten minute costume I made for her. (if any one would like to see how it was made, I can make a tutorial, it’s the easiest costume with Halloween around the corner.) The were in the paper and Emma loved dressing up as a Space Princess.
I’m still trucking away at my reading list, my goal is still to get as close to 200 in a year as possible, or it may take longer than a year, but I will do it. I am about 16 books behind on my my monthly right now but that’s because I’ve been pretty much reading a lot of meaty fiction. I have some shorter books coming up soon to help me get ahead. I’ll post some observations of what I’ve read so far either this week or next, depending how quickly I get through this week of reading.
Kenny has been making art like crazy, made this… this weekend for a charity art show and it sold even before it was displayed which was pretty awesome. He’s been working on watercolor commissions and he also has put a few new Screenprints in our BensonBenson shop, like this new favorite… and I hope to get one up there as well this week if I have some time to finish one I’ve been working on.
I am going to attempt to blog more artwork and things that we’ve been working on as we progress.
Emma has been a busy little bee as well, she is going to be a soldier in the Nutcracker this season with Augusta Dance and the Augusta Ballet School and she is really excited. I am really looking forward to her performance and she is practicing almost every weekend until then.
Emma is almost wrapped up with Soccer season, as well.
and I hope we can have more of this that happened last week…dinner in the out-of-doors due to this lovely, lovely weather.
I hope your fall is turning out wonderful as well.
If you get a chance head on over to my relaunched photography portfolio, link in the sidebar, Kenny made me that lovely logo with the trees.
I am so happy to have fall here, it is my favorite time of year, always. Everything about Fall makes me happy and September is one of my favorite months because this beautiful weather starts creeping in around this time. It’s like a preview of what’s to come. It’s been a busy but good season so far this year and fall is always a relaxing time for us to just enjoy family, to enjoy home. Even though we have soccer games and Nutcracker practices and all sorts of events there is just something unexplained about why I feel settled in the fall. Like my soul knows that all will be reborn soon and I can truly enjoy the end of things.
Some people feel energized in the new year, January and so on, but I’m always energized in the fall. Maybe it’s the weather or the excitement of anticipation of all of my favorite holidays one by one for the next several months. It might also be, this year at least, that I am on my feet again after a silly sprain while walking down two steps. You can’t take a sick note from being a Mother so I am very thankful to be mobile again cooking dinner and teaching Emma and trying to clean house, keyword is trying. I am thankful for this season and and everything to come. As the treetops turn umber and we enjoy pumpkin this and spiced that, know this is the the place we are at and the season we have been given and it is good.
In regards to my book challenge, I’m still on it. I am slowly getting back into the groove after my sprain. You would think that reading would have been the best thing when I was off my feet but I found that between pain killers and exhaustion, I couldn’t read ten pages in without drifting off. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading much more and I am excited for some book picks coming up. I am still giving myself a year, although I won’t beat myself up if it’s not exactly 365 days long but a little longer. I’ll post later this week what books I’ve read so far and what I’m excited to read.
So I am giving myself a challenge to read 200 books between my 31st and 32nd birthday. Let me first say this is more of a way to train better reading habits than a race to reach 200 but I am definitely going to do my best. In the vein of my No New Clothes Challenge. There was once a time when I was young and had no responsibilities that I could devour a book in a day, not that I have to get to that level again but the idea is to start and finish a book and move on to another. I’ve read a lot of books partially through and although I thoroughly enjoyed it I would stop to start another and never go back. Even though I may reading multiple books at a time during this challenge, my aim is to finish these books. I would rather have read 100 books all the way through than 150 part ways.
This was not the idea of my own, an IG friend @lamere7 inspired me with her 200challenge posts. She wrote that she was inspired by the book Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch. I think this a great way to be more intentional with reading and use my free time more wisely than in the past.
Starting today since its been two weeks after my birthday almost, So, I will have 50 weeks of reading to do. That is about 4 books a week or a book every 1.75 days. So I have a long way to go.
I’ve picked something light for my first book; The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman which I started and never finished so many years ago. So hopefully I will be blazing through the books and sharing them with everyone on here. So I need everyone’s help, I need book suggestions, be it YA, Contemporary Lit, Classics, Non-Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Historical Fiction etc. etc. I love all of those genres and have a preatty eclectic taste in Literature, so I have a lot to pick from, I’m sure. The Library will be my friend. So, Please help me pick some good choices for this year of reading. I will be instagramming my progress and probably adding them to my goodreads whilst. Let the recommendations start.
There are so many lists out there of what children to should be doing at this age. Some of them are just plain silly, there is no reason a child should be doing algebra or able to read novels on their own at this age. We know through common sense and research that learning comes through play before this time. Here is the research: naeyc.org. This is why I love this list from Charlotte Mason because these are attainable and practical expectations for a child of six, who has just started formal learning. Some of these we have mastered in our house already (like pressing flowers, printing from hand, adding and subtracting etc.), some we are working on organically, with little to no pressure, just through conversations. This is a great guide for those that would like a guide even if you do not follow Charlotte Mason, but do not need or want a list of common core standards to follow. Plus, these are much more fun than most lists I’ve seen. I just love this old style of learning in a gentle art, a way that creates interesting and curious children. I guarantee your six year old can already do a lot of these things and helps us to breathe a sigh of relief that we are not “screwing our kids up” if they don’t compare to all the other opinion noise out there.
A Formidable List of Attainments for a Child of Six (with my notes added)
1. To recite, beautifully, 6 easy poems and hymns
2. to recite, perfectly and beautifully, a parable and a psalm
3. to add and subtract numbers up to 10, with dominoes or counters
4. to read–what and how much, will depend on what we are told of the child
5. to copy in print-hand from a book
6. to know the points of the compass with relation to their own home, where the sun rises and sets, and the way the wind blows
7. to describe the boundaries of their own home
8. to describe any lake, river, pond, island etc. within easy reach
9. to tell quite accurately 3 stories from Bible history, 3 from early English (or Early American), and 3 from early Roman history (length is not important)
10. to be able to describe 3 walks and 3 views
11. to mount in a scrap book a dozen common wildflowers, with leaves (one every week); to name these, describe them in their own words, and say where they found them
12. to do the same with leaves and flowers of 6 forest trees
13. to know 6 birds by song, colour and shape
14. to send in certain Kindergarten or other handiwork, as directed
15. to tell three stories about their own “pets” –rabbit, dog or cat
16. to name 20 common objects in French (or Spanish), and say a dozen little sentences
17. to sing one hymn, one French (or Spanish), and one English song 18. to keep a caterpillar and tell the life-story of a butterfly from his own observations
NOTE: Any mention of Early English History or French Language (substitute ex. Early American and Spanish Language) can be substituted for what you are learning, this list was specific to British Culture and may need to be different for others.
*original source: amblesideonline.org
What do you think of this list of attainments, what would you do differently, what would you add or take away? For me the one thing I am subconsciously adding to this list is for her to know and write her address and our phone numbers, I think that technically would fall under the “boundary of the home” a long time ago but not today. I’d love to hear from you.
“Now We Are Six”
When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.
I am thinking of A.A. Milne’s Now We Are Six and wondering what that would look like for those a bit more seasoned,Now We Are Thirty One. Even though it would be lovely to be six forever, my six year old doesn’t seem to think so, here we are much older and hopefully much wiser. I know I won’t be thirty one forever and I realize how relative age is, I am thirty one yet still think of myself as a child, perhaps because I haven’t set aside all those child like ways, there’s a few things I’d like to keep forever. I don’t know if someone has said this before and I want it to be true forever, act like an adult but imagine like a child. I want to hold onto to that fleeting wondrous imagination that I see in my daughter. Let us all not forget how beautiful the dreams of children are. Let me continue to dream of wonderful things till the day I go to see the most wonderful things. So I think I’ll dream like I’m six, now and forever.
I did have an excellent birthday with my little family; little kisses in bed, flea market adventures, birthday date night, good food, drink, and dessert (Bee’s Knees, of course). I am so happy to be the age I am and to grow older with the family I have. I am thankful.
I have been rereading Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot, maybe it felt appropriate for this new season, as my friend Lizzie described it as entering a new decade. I am praying for that, a quiet heart for this chaotic, noisy mess, on that is content in all things, has peace in all things, and loves in all things. Im ready to leave the cacophony for a more settled life. There is something so beautiful in the settling, when you realize life is much more satisfying when enjoyed bit by bit, drip by drip instead of racing, racing, busy, busy, never stopping. I am happy to be learning this, I wish I had known this in my twenties, but it’s good to be learning it now. New decade, new mentality.
My last thing I wanted to do in this post is to announce who won the print I was giving away for my birthday. The following picture gives the information, thank you friends for the bride hay wishes and the love, I am truly thankful.
Posted on August 30, 2013 by Ellie
I turn 31 tomorrow, I’m excited to be in another year and I can’t believe time is going by so fast. I fully accept this new age and hope it is a new and wonderful year. I generally don’t fear getting older, not at all but I do get a bit weepy nostalgic a lot these days. The last two years have been a lot of up and down and I praying for some new-found stability. I’m ready for whatever is coming regardless.
I also cut my hair off Wednesday night at two in the morning with safety scissors, (don’t do this-the safety scissor part.) because I couldn’t find my shears. So, there’s that. My hair had gotten so long and it is very thick, it feels like I’m wearing a blanket on my head always, I just got fed up trying to sleep and went to the bathroom and chopped it off. So, new birthday year, new birthday hair. It feels so much better even though this is pretty much the same haircut I had all of middle school. It’s nice and a throwback. I feel all Babysitter’s Club/ Sweet Valleyish.
The Doc Martens are back, it’s been cool enough for them and I got these last year for my birthday and couldn’t wear them throughout the pregnancy, but yay, they are back. They still need substantial breaking in. I wore these same shoes in burgundy all throughout high school. Doc Martens were my favorite, I had a mary jane pair and short black pair. So maybe I am getting all nostalgic and reverting to my Daria style from High School. I have listened to quite a bit of 90′s music recently and it has been such a strange comfort to me. Strange because we know how depressing 90′s rock was but I love the memories. Maybe I’ll share my 90′s rock Spotify mix at some point in the future. Right now, it’s a secret, but not really.
It is also a birthday or birth month rather for my blog, It’s been a year since I made the switch over to ellieeugenia.com and I want to thank all my friends and loyal readers. It really means a lot to me to have people who are investing in this with me. I love you guys. I always have a lot on my mind and having somewhere to let it out has been refreshing. Thank you for sticking with me, friends and subscribers.
I will be giving away one of my Geometry Bears screenprints as a birthday present to one person (pictured above). I try to only do give aways for things I really love or that mean something to me. This print is one I did that represents being a Mother, I have one hanging in my Living Room to remind me. If you’d like to enter just leave me a comment here telling me about your best birthday ever and also share the link to this post with someone. I’ll pick a winner at random next week.
I’m pretty sure my best birthday was a Rapunzel Birthday Party I had as a child, complete with Rapunzel Head Piñata and long braided hair. Yah, I liked Rapunzel before it was cool. So Hipster of me. ; ) Last year’s was also pretty great, spending time with good friends, good food and cake. Of course, cake, Cake is King.
Once again, thank you for meeting me here. It makes the lists as one of my Happy Things.