Honoring Veterans Every Day

Veteran’s Day is truly a day to be celebrated.  Megan and I are patriots, hence our name Two Liberty Belles.  We are so thankful to veterans for the freedoms that we’ve been given.  It is because of those brave men and women, because of their sacrifice, that we enjoy those freedoms today.  Veterans have been around since the birth of our country.  In 1776, it was Captain Nathan Hale, a 21 year old soldier who was captured and hanged by the British, that said, ” I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”  That is a common attitude among veterans, and we are all the more blessed by it.

Megan and I have some veterans really close to our hearts.  Our Dad was in the Navy, my father-in-law Dave was in the Army, and Megan’s husband’s dad John (he died when Chris was young) was in the Army.  This was during the Vietnam War.  Chris’s dad John was Seventh-Day Adventist, so he was exempted from the draft.  However, he served our country as a medic, which his religion allowed.  My father-in-law and John Hanks both suffered terribly from the horrors that they witnessed.  Their lives were forever changed by the war. Back then, not much was known about PTSD, so they suffered in silence.  Sadly, Vietnam veterans did not experience the hero’s welcome that World War II veterans did, either.  We owe them all a deep debt of gratitude.

Dave Brott
John Hanks

Our paternal Great Grandpa Fazakerley (also named Frank, like our grandpa) was a career Army man. He served in both World War I and World War II.  His son Art was in the Navy (which is I think why our Dad chose the Navy).  Our maternal Grandpa, Newt Cunningham, was in the Navy too.  We have the coolest pictures of him on leave in Honolulu.  Unfortunately, we don’t have pictures of our Dad in his uniform.  Since Megan and I both wore his Navy uniform for Halloween when we were 13, that tells you how small he was.

Newt Cunningham

Nowadays, it is so hard to imagine 18 year old boys (some younger lied about their age) signing up to fight as they did during World War II.  I think we owe it to current and future generations to teach them about the sacrifices that have been made by brave men and women.  There are so many excellent books and movies that portray what veterans experienced.  The DVD series “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific” are great.  I know I’ve mentioned these books before, but Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton are riveting.  I just finished reading Lucky 666 by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin and I just can’t believe what soldiers went through!  The brotherhood of soldiers reminds me of the verse, “Greater love hath no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13

We must not forget the members of today’s military.  Let us not let them suffer in silence as the veterans of yesteryear.  I am a proud donor of The Wounded Warrior Project and I encourage everyone to think about donating.  The Wounded Warrior Project stands behind veterans and gives them support on the long road of recovery.  For just $19 a month, you can make a difference in the lives of veterans and their families.  If interested, visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.  By the way, I’m not being paid to advertise for them!

Though Veteran’s Day has come and gone, let’s remember why we have veterans in the first place, and celebrate them everyday.

“We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.”

-Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 4, September 12, 1777

God bless our beloved veterans and God Bless America!

Mardi

 

 

 

Fill Your Freezer Fast With Freezer Cooking

Last week Tuesday, Megan, our good friend Karla and I, spent the day freezer cooking.  If you’ve never done it before, trust me, freezer cooking rocks!  It’s an absolute life saver to have meals in the freezer, all ready to cook whenever needed….like, everyday.  As much as I love to bake, I don’t like cooking.  B-u-t, I like to eat, hence my love of freezer cooking.  It feels so satisfying to have a freezer stocked with delicious meals, especially with the holidays approaching.

freezer meals

First, we decided on the “assembly” date.  Karla suggested that we each make four meals:  one ground beef, one chicken, one pork, and one of our choice.  So between the three of us, we would each get 12 meals!  Then we searched Pinterest for freezer cooking recipes, as well as using a few that we already had.  After choosing recipes and making lists, it was time for grocery shopping.  Karla and I bought our groceries at Aldi’s and Meijer’s, while Megan only went to Meijer’s.  We kept track of our expenses so that we could square up with each other later.

The recipes that I chose to make were:  beef tips with gravy, smothered pork chops, chicken and rice with black beans, and black bean taco soup. I’ve served all of these meals to my family before, so I knew that they were “winners.”  Karla chose to make recipes in disposable tinfoil pans rather than Ziploc baggies, like Megan and I.  Her recipes were:  ravioli, enchiladas, chicken pot pie, and pork with sweet potatoes and apples. Megan decided on:  chili, one pot chicken dinner, kielbasa with peppers, and beef stew.  The beef stew is a sixsistersstuff recipe and a favorite of both of our families…..and did I mention that it is beyond easy to make?   The black bean taco soup is also a sixsistersstuff recipe.  What can I say, the six sisters really know their, ah, stuff.

freezer meal

Find the recipe for Kielbasa and Peppers here.

We met at my house for the assembly which worked out great for me, but not so much for Megan and Karla.  They had to tote all of their groceries and a cooler, but they were good sports.  My kitchen was a flurry of activity as we each made our own four recipes for each of us.  There was much slicing, dicing, browning hamburger, rinsing and draining beans, etc.  I cheated with the onions and bought frozen diced onions from Meijer’s….I loathe chopping onions!  We had a quick lunch break before finishing and going over our receipts.  The final cost for the 12 meals was…drumroll please…….$107 for each of us.  That’s right, $107 for 12 homemade meals!  I still can’t believe it.

Next time we make freezer meals, we said maybe we’ll prepare them at home, then meet to exchange them.  That way, we can visit more.  Then again, maybe we won’t.  We’re women, and it’s our prerogative to change our minds! Either way, it’s such an amazing feeling knowing that my freezer is stocked.  Tonight, we’re having Megan’s one pot chicken dinner.  Megan is preparing my smothered pork chops.  Megan made Karla’s enchiladas last week and said they were really tasty.  Whether you work from home or not, whether you run kids to sporting events constantly, or not, freezer meals are a lifesaver.  Instead of wondering frantically, “what am I making for dinner tonight?” ,  simply decide which freezer meal you want.  It’s generally suggested to defrost the frozen meals in the refrigerator overnight, but many times I put them in the crockpot frozen and adjust the time accordingly.  Now is the best time for freezer cooking, because everyone will only get busier with Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner.  Happy freezer cooking!

Mardi

What is your favorite freezer cooking recipe?

 

 

Fall Fun at Crystal Mountain

fall foliage

This past weekend, we had the opportunity to go up north to our parents’ vacation home at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, MI.  You might have read about the resort in another post here.  We used to go up at least once every Fall, but since the kids are older and so busy with sports now, it doesn’t always happen.  Those were the days…getting to take off on the weekend with nary a thought to a child’s schedule.  Well, you’ve heard this sob story from me before, so I’ll stop now.  Anyway, four out of five of us headed up with my parents and sisters.  Chris had to work, plus he was painting our bedroom and I would never dream of slowing down progress!

Crystal Mountain Resort

Hayrides at Crystal Mountain

It really was a beautiful fall weekend.  The colors were unbelievably gorgeous and it was mostly cloudy and wet, which is perfect for lazing around in front of a toasty fire.  If it were nice and sunny, I would have felt compelled to go outside maybe and do something productive…or maybe not.  I don’t know what it is about going up north, but I turn into a slug the minute I get there.  So the rain was not a problem.  Well, not a problem until I took the girls trick-or-treating.  Crystal Mountain had all kinds of special activities planned for the weekend.  There was pumpkin carving, hayrides, a petting zoo, trick-or-treating, a spooky trail, a pumpkin seed spitting contest, and more.  The girls had a great time trick-or-treating in their costumes (Fynn just loves any excuse to wear a costume) at the lodge, the adventure center, and other stopping points.  I had to follow a map, which I confess was a little tricky, but we managed to find all the candy and didn’t get too wet.

fall fun at Crystal Mountain Resort

fall fun at Crystal Mountain Resort

fall fun at Crystal Mountain Resort

But best of all, the wifi wasn’t working, which was great because my girls played games, did puzzles, colored, and even got a little bored.  And I felt like Super Mom because I not only brought them trick-or-treating, but I also did puzzles and brought them to the pool.  Now notice I said “brought” them to the pool.  I sat and watched since my children are fully capable of swimming alone now, praise Jesus.  So maybe I’m not exactly super mom after all, but hey, they were happy and I was happy.  Win-win situation.  Mardi wasn’t quite so lucky…she got to hang out in the exercise room with the boys who wanted to work out.  They needed parental supervision, so she walked on the treadmill while they lifted weights.  Maybe she should get the super mom/aunt award.  As you can see, our standards are pretty low either way.

I have to apologize for this boring post that pretty much offers you, dear reader, nothing.  So please accept my apologies for rambling, but do consider a trip to Crystal Mountain one of these days.  And if Crystal Mountain isn’t in your plans, just spend a day depriving your kids of wifi and enjoy some time together.  Novel idea, I know.

Megan

How do you love to spend a free Saturday afternoon?

Halloween Movies to Get You into the Spirit

I’m in my room, burning a spiced pumpkin candle, and watching Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”  Life just doesn’t get much better.  Megan and I absolutely love fall, and with Halloween fast approaching, there are certain rituals that must be adhered to.   My favorite fall ritual, besides baking apple crisp, pumpkin pie, etc., is watching Halloween movies.  Maybe it goes back to my childhood and watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin” when it aired on TV.  It was a special night I looked forward to every year.  I’ve always loved The Peanuts, and still do.  It brings back the warm fuzzies I felt when watching those CBS specials as a child.  So now I own “It’s the Great Pumpkin” on DVD and watch it every year.  I watch it by myself (does that sound pathetic?) but I like to have my nieces over to watch it too.  They are good about humoring me!

It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

I remember watching “The Birds” as a kid at our old house.  It was a Saturday afternoon in the fall and I just came across it on TV.  I was in our “hobby room,” which was like a little family room.  It had dark paneling and orange plaid carpet, and it was my favorite room in the house.  Hey, it was built in the 70’s!  Anyway, I watched “The Birds” and got really creeped out.  I didn’t see it again until I bought the DVD a few years ago to show my kids.  I told them how scary it was, how I remembered it.  We brought the movie to my friend Jennifer’s house and our families watched it together (after we dressed up like zombies and played zombie tag).  My kids teased me about how NOT scary it was and Sander said “well, that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back,” after watching it.  Sander at 12…..now that’s scary.  I just noticed this year that “The Birds” is based on a book written by Daphne Du Maurier.   She also wrote My Cousin Rachel, which I just read this summer.

Alfred Hitchock's The Birds

Another must-see Halloween movie is Disney’s “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.”  I remember watching it as a kid, but Kendal for years has put the movie on for the kids after trick-or-treating.  “Hocus Pocus” is a favorite too….it will get you into the Halloween spirit.  My girls grew up watching the “Halloweentown” movies on Disney channel and Manon says it’s not Halloween until she’s watched it.  Movies like these are a fun part of childhood, or in my case, adulthood!

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

My daughter Marek loves Tyler Perry’s Madea movies, so last year we saw “Boo!  A Madea Halloween” at the theater.  It was hysterically funny.  The sequel comes out in a few days and we can’t wait to see it.  So whatever your fall and Halloween traditions, make sure you include a few movie nights.  Pop popcorn, make treats, light a candle, invite friends over, and watch a Halloween movie.  Or if you’re like me and your kids won’t watch them with you, watch them alone or invite your nieces over.  Enjoy the season because Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner!

Mardi

What’s your favorite Halloween movie?

Spooky Crow Wreath

Happy Monday everyone!  Hope you all had a nice, relaxing weekend and are ready for a brand new week.  We had three soccer games this weekend, but other than that it was pretty laid back.  And it was cloudy, rainy, and windy…which I actually love this time of year (except when I’m at said soccer games).  This kind of weather makes me want to stay inside and do something crafty.  I know, I’m a nerd.  The problem is, I waste all my time looking on Pinterest trying to figure out what craft to do.  I pin and I pin and I never actually commit to making anything.  Does anyone else do that, or is it just me?  Well, if this is you too, then hopefully this post is a call to action for you.  I have a craft all picked out for you, and once you have the stuff you need, it can be done in no time.

So, step away from Pinterest (it’s okay…take a deep breath…you’ll survive), and make plans to head to the store.  You need to make this spooky little wreath now!  I already did the hard part…figuring out what to make…for you.  I did the Pinterest research and found this adorable wreath last year and made two of them with my girls (I cannot find the original pin to give credit for the idea, but I remember it being a Williams Sonoma knock-off). These are eight inch wreaths, but it would look just as cute with a bigger wreath and bird. They hang them on their bedroom door for their own little Halloween décor.  Aren’t they adorable?

Best of all, they are super easy. So here is what you need:

  • grapevine wreath, any size
  • moss
  • black crow (usually you can find these at the dollar store or a craft store like Jo-Anns or Hobby Lobby)
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • black spray paint

First of all, spray paint your grapevine wreath black.  Make sure you get into all of the cracks and crevices.  After it is dry to touch (I didn’t wait long), wire or hot glue (or both) your crow to your wreath.  Next, glob on some glue and moss all around your crow.  Just don’t burn your finger like I always do.

See!  You are already done!  Now go grab a command hook or wreath hanger and hang your simple, spooky wreath up. And hurry, because Halloween will be here and gone before we know it!

Megan

Harvest and Halloween Home Tour

Harvest and Halloween Home Tour

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  This week is flying by already!  Actually, the whole month is.  I can’t believe it is almost mid-October.  The kids have already been in school for six weeks, and it seems like they just started.  (Time flies when you’re having fun…I guess I’ve been having fun having them at school.)  Since Halloween is right around the corner, and before we know it Christmas will be here, I thought I better get this post on Harvest/Halloween decorating done…just in case you were dying to see it (wink, wink).

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love decorating my home in pumpkins and lighting candles and just making the house feel cozy.  After barely being inside all summer, I have to admit that it feels good to stay inside and make myself comfy on the couch (well, after soccer and football practices, supper, homework, listening to a violin scratching away, nagging about showers and teeth brushing, and getting everyone tucked in, kissed, prayed over, and a glass of water).  As I’ve mentioned before, I used to put up every decoration I owned, whether I liked it or not, but I have decided that sometimes less is more, and it’s okay to put out only the things I really like.  So this is a much simpler version of what I used to do, but my kids still get excited when I get the holiday stuff out

First of all, what would Fall be without pumpkins?  Lots of fake pumpkins!  It’s amazing how expensive they can be, though, so it’s always a good idea to buy them after the season on clearance.  And you can never have too many!

pumpkins, fall decorating

decorating with pumpkins

decorating for fall with pumpkins

decorating for fall

harvest and halloween decor

 

I LOVE fake crows.  They are simple and match with your existing décor.  Let these babies roost any and everywhere!

halloween decorations, fake crows

decorating for Halloween with fake crows

Mini fairy lights are so fun!  You can stick these almost anywhere and they lend a nice warm glow.

decorating for halloween with fairy lights

You just gotta have a throw somewhere to snuggle under.  I bought this wool blanket for $4 at an antique store!

decorating for Fall with throws

These cute little bats with sticky backs were only 75 cents at Family Dollar.  I would have bought more, but they were sold out.  And the black velvet bow was 90 percent off at Jo-Ann Fabrics!

decorating for halloween

And lastly, you can’t have a cozy house without a great candle.  My all-time favorite fall candle is Yankee Candle’s Harvest scent.  It is the best!

yankee candle harvest scent

I hope you enjoyed this little tour and maybe even found some decorating inspiration for your own home.  I know I love to get sneak peeks into other people’s homes, since I rarely come up with an original idea on my own!  Wishing you a cozy, relaxing October evening, friends!  And hopefully it doesn’t include scratchy violin noises in the background.

Megan