Book Review: Ladies of Ivy Cottage

Over the last five years I have spent a lot of time rocking babies and reading books.  One of my favorite authors is Julie Klassen. I think I have read every one of Julie Klassen’s books. Recently I finished the second book, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage in her newest series Tales From Ivy Hill.

First of all, I could not put this book down it was so good. I found the diverse range of characters and various unique-to-women struggles refreshing to this genre. Rarely do readers get a closer look at the historical aspect of universal issues like miscarriage and women in business. Because of this unique perspective I believe this book will connect with many readers on a personal level.

So Good!

All my favorite characters from The Inn Keeper of Ivy Hill return bringing with them their personal histories as well as intriguing new characters. In fact, in comparing the second book with the first, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage provides the rich background of the relationships between all the characters that The Inn Keeper of Ivy Hill lacked. So much so, I found myself wondering why Klassen did not put some of this background story to the first book to help provide context. Be it as it may, with The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, Klassen will keep the reader riveted to a great story and concludes it by setting  the next book up with a new twist in Jane, Mercy and Rachel’s future.

Let’s do this together! Join me in my journey back in time to Ivy Hill village. The newly released The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is now available on or at your local book store. Looking forward to Julie Klassen’s next book!





Ever get that feeling that everyone in the vicinity is watching you with rapt attention? I felt that way three times in one morning.

Let’s just begin with… I am so done with that double stroller. For years it has been a saving grace. But now that it has weathered two sets of twins and the girls are sufficient walkers, I have started ditching that squeaky old stroller and walking all the kids into stores and buildings.

And let me tell you- we are the immediate entertainment for all to see. The first time was perfect. Everyone cooperated and it went so smoothly. The second time not so much. You see, Grace has this independent streak where she sometimes refuses to hold my hand. She’s a big girl you know. She likes to do it all by herself. So, in protest of this new “big girl” status she flung herself to the floor in a classic almost-two-year-old tantrum. Right in the middle of MOPS children pickup. Of course, I couldn’t have asked for a more empathetic crowd.

The third time I was unloading at a store for a quick Christmas kids gift exchange hunt. I needed five small things and I was going to the Dollar store to let the kids pick for themselves. Unfortunately, there was a guy in his big white duly pickup parked right beside me watching the fascinating scene of getting them all out of the car and rounded up in a safe-like fashion.

First I unbuckled them all which meant my backside was right in his face. Then I got the girls out and waited for the rest to climb over the groceries and car seats obstacles.

Micah found a donut from yesterday that he distractedly began munching. Gabe got his feet wrapped up in the girls blankets and began scooting out of the car like an inch worm. When Esther was finally ready to jump down, Micah was too absorbed in his donut ecstasy that he wouldn’t make room for her. He also had his name tag stuck to the bottom of his shoe.

Finally with all feet on the ground, we began the game of follow the leader into the store. Micah in his distraction had gotten in line backwards and backed his whole way up to the door tripping over everything he couldn’t see.

Then, once inside I saw the shopping cart and literally heard angels singing in my head. That’s about the time Esther made a swift case for why she should be the one to ride in it. Unfortunately her request fell on the deaf ears of Momma’s iron will. I had plans to stuff those girls into something safer and restore our group to relative order before the chaos of the toy isle began.

And then we did it all over again. Round and round we go. It became glaringly clear that it’s time to pull out those little stuffed animal backpacks I have with little leashes on them. It’s perfect for toddler independence and keeping them close too. I have found them to be indispensable. Especially in airports or theme parks where there is just too many people and they can get away too fast. We name them too.

Meet George.

Pray For Them

Did you know that all the prayers on my blog are from the FREE BiblicalPrayers mobile app? I needed something to pray over my kids when I had only one minute and one hand to spare. It offers a full year of daily prayers that take less than 60 seconds of your time to pray. Show your loved ones how much you care by praying scripture over them personally. Send it to ten of your closest friends and see how the power of prayer can change even the most impossible situations.

Lord, you said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Teach (Name) to walk in your ways and how to follow the leading of the Father. May (Name) be counted as “one who does the will of [our] Father who is in heaven.” In your name I pray, amen. – Matthew 7:21

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Short and Sweet. That’s how I like my dinners to come together.

  • 1 bottle of your favorite BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Apple Jelly (or preferance)
  • 1/4 cup Orange Juice
  • 15 Chicken Legs
  • Garlic Salt

Season fresh chicken legs with garlic salt to taste. I recommend you do it thoroughly. Line a baking sheet with greased foil for easy clean up and bake them at 350 degrees for one hour. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan combine BBQ sauce with jelly and orange juice and let it simmer until the jelly is fully melted. Set aside.

When chicken is ready, pull them out and let them rest for about 5-10 minutes. Then coat them in the prepared sauce and serve hot.

Tip: Pour a portion of the sauce into a bowl and simply roll the chicken around in it. The rest of the sauce can be used as extra or for other dishes too. Serve with garlic cheddar mashed potatoes.

When Did She Grow Up?

After having just turned five, I am shocked at how fast Esther is growing up. She went from my little 3-4 year old who played only with her brothers to this little diva who goes to school and comes home with playground drama.

This school year Esther has a friend she just loves to play with every recess. Apparently last week Esther and her friend had a run-in with another girl who was not so nice. Esther knew this other girl from summer sports. At recess, this girl told Esther she wasn’t allowed to play with them. When Esther stood up for herself and re-established their link from the summer, this girl reluctantly allowed her to play but then turned on Esther’s friend. Said she couldn’t play because she wasn’t their friend.

Then, Esther stood up for her friend too. Said that she should be allowed to play because she was her friend and besides it was important to include others. Apparently that was enough to sway the team because they were both allowed to join the game and play. When she told me this story I was so proud of my little girl.

I have spent time teaching her the importance of including others and standing up for herself. Standing up for her friends and siblings too. So when I heard this story I was so proud of my girl and a little taken back at how fast she is growing up.

When did she become so mature? When did we move from living room fights with her brothers to playground drama with mean girls? I best put my big-girl panties on because there is no going back. It has begun.

Pray for them

Fear is such a liar. Let us stop wasting our lives in fear of things we cannot know, cannot control and cannot prepare for. Find rest in the Lord and fear only Him who understands it all, sees it all and holds it all in his hands.

Father, may (Name) never fear anything or anyone but you. When fear seeks to take hold of (Name), I pray (he/she) will seek you and find deliverance. Just as David did, may (Name) also boldly testify, “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. – Psalm 34:4-5

Sugar Cookies

These are the thin, decorating cookies that are so good at Christmas time. My Aunt Marsha gave this recipe to me when I was 12 for my birthday. And yes, I still have the 1997 shiny new penny she laminated with that recipe for my birthday too.

  • 1/2 cup Butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup Lard
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Blend butter, lard, sugar, egg, vanilla and milk until creamy. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Divide dough into two sections and roll into large balls. Refrigerate for an hour or more until dough is stiff.

If you don’t want to decorate them or cut them out, just make them into single cookie size balls and roll them in sugar. Smash with a flat glass and bake. If you do want to decorate them, skip this step and go to the next.

Dust the counter top with flour and roll out the ball of cookie dough into 1/3 inch thick. Cut cookies into shapes and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Decorate with sprinkled sugar now if you want it baked on. Bake for 7-9 minutes until slightly browned around the edges. Let cool and decorate.

Found Her Wheels

Gracie has found her wheels. After running around the house for several months, she has now found a way around the gate to the stairs. While I was in the kitchen with what I thought was all my kids, I heard the pitter patter of little feet cruising the upstairs hallway over me. I took a quick head count and it was Grace. She made a beeline for the kids toothbrushes and was having much fun testing each toothbrush out on her own teeth. What they don’t know can’t hurt them.

It was sixty degrees outside, so until I figured out what to do about the stair/gate dilemma, I sent all the kids outside. When about 10 minutes later I couldn’t get an eye on Grace. So I went in search and found that she had climbed up into the kids tall play house from the ladder. Calling her only brought forth a new game of tag. When I was about half way up, she narrowly escaped by sliding down the slide backwards on her tummy. Only a wagon ride by big brother trumped the play house slide.

Afterward she went from that to playing with her siblings under the tree out front. Finally something harmless! But then, when I couldn’t see her anymore. When I found her the third time she had crawled under the yard fence and was enjoying a rip roaring good game of “Chase The Chickens” in the coop. They won’t lay for a week after that. Feeling like I had been running circles  myself all morning, I brought her back inside and strapped her into her high chair where she watched me prepare lunch.

Really. Something will have to be done about those stairs.

Pray for them

Sometimes justice is mistakenly believed to mean exposing the sin for the world to see. However, a just and righteous person will never seek to shame or expose a person to contempt. Let us deal with each other in love and not with a self-righteous attitude.

Lord, I ask you to continue to shape (Name’s) character into one of honor and justice. As Joseph was “a just man and unwilling to put [Mary] to shame,” I pray (Name) will also be a (man/woman) of justice who sees people through your eyes and who is therefore resolved not to shame anyone, but rather to live a life that honors others. In Jesus’ name, amen. -Matthew 1:19

Favorite Old fashioned Gingerbread

I make this recipe every year several times. It is not too sweet or dry and I love to add cinnamon butter to a warm piece fresh out of the oven. This is a recipe from Allrecipes, so just search the name and you will find it there.

  • 1/2 cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup Molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Hot Water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8×5″ baking pans.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter. Add egg and mix in molasses until smooth. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans.

Bake fore 35-45 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.



Goodness! I think the whirlwind has stopped. I never would have thought that the three weeks leading up to Christmas would be less busy than the last month. I may be proven wrong yet…but as of now, the boys birthday, thanksgiving and Esther’s birthday parties are all over. Now I feel like I can take a deep breath, slowly decorate for Christmas and enjoy the season. Which is my favorite.

Cute Right?! I went to my first ornament exchange party this year and one of the ladies brought this cutie. I was immediately in love with it and my brain started ticking…

The weather is about to be cold soon and my kids will be in need of indoor projects. So we will make our own ornaments. Clear, shatter-proof ornaments are everywhere. So I got orange and black Sharpies and some little puff balls and we will make snowman ornaments this year. Each year we’ll do this and grow our own collection. I am excited.

Also- it’s Christmas movie season and I always kick it off with the classics. Meet Me In St. Louis, The Shop Around the Corner, The Man Who Came To Dinner and White Christmas. Because what is Christmas without Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Jimmy Stewart and Bing Crosby? It’s not a Crouse Christmas. That’s for sure.

Pray For Them

It is so hard not to judge. It’s embedded into my nature I think. I see things as black and white, and I believe it’s an asset as it keeps my moral compass pointed north. But I have learned that judgment without compassion is cruel. God is certainly just- His righteousness demands it. But, He is also gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. He does not treat us as our sins deserve but rather separates us from our sin as far as the East is from the West. That is the good news of Christmas!

Father, keep (Name) from judging others “that [he/she] not be judged. For with the judgment [Name] pronounce[s], [he/she] will be judged, and with the measure [(Name) uses] it will be measured to [him/her].” I ask you to guard (Name’s) heart and keep it pure from criticism. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.

Christmas Coffee

In the Christmas season I love to put a little Christmas in my cup if you know what I mean. Here is my secret: When I brew my regular coffee, I add a dash of cinnamon and a tiny pinch of ground cloves in there. Then I add the water. No floating spices, just smooth and delicious.

Why load up on sugary Starbucks drinks when you can have this delicious treat every morning?

Esther Turns Five

Five years ago this little girl made me a mommy. She changed our world. Flipped it on its head really. She arrived on her due date without a moment to lose and she’s been a go-get’er ever since.

Here are a few facts about Esther. She has three nicknames: Little E, Sweet Pea, and Our Santa Maria Strawberry. She loves animals and told me just the other week that she wanted a dog and a couple days later a rabbit. I thought she was going to sneak this kitten into our car last weekend.

Esther loves her brothers and sisters. They are her best friends and she easily goes from playing robots and firemen with her brothers to coloring pictures and playing dolls with her baby sisters. She loves snuggles and everyday after her nap she crawls into my lap with a book and we read a story together.

The best thing about Esther is her heart for Jesus and her sensitivity to him. She blows me away with her questions and her prayers. She loves singing and leading people in Bible songs. Her teachers have seen this in her and ask her to help lead the kids in worship at church. Happy Birthday Little E! We love you so much. It is an honor to be your parents and watch you grow.

Pray For Them

In honor of Esther’s birthday, I thought I would put an adult version of her bedtime prayer on here. She has been praying it since she was about two and a half. Since then we have questioned, dissected and talked about the meaning of every phrase.

Father, let (Name) come to know the Lord Jesus Christ at an early age and walk with him all the days of (his/her) life.  In the name of Jesus, I ask you to “bless [Name] and keep [him/her].” Make your “face to shine upon [him/her] and be gracious to [him/her]; LORD lift up [your] countenance upon [Name] and give [him/her] peace.” In the name of Jesus, amen. – Numbers 6:24-26

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.

Frosting in a Pinch


Sometimes I make my own frosting. But most of the time, my focus is on another part of the cake or the dinner. So, here is a quick short-cut to yummy store bought frosting.

  • 1 can  Funfetti Frosting
  • 1/2 tsp Flavoring or Extract of your choice

Mix the flavoring directly into the can and apply as you normally would. Spread it with a knife or put it in a tube with a tip for detail work. (If the frosting becomes too thin just add a little powdered sugar.)

I usually use Funfetti frosting because it comes in just about every color and almost always has sprinkles with it that are fun to use. It is however bland and flavorless. Doesn’t matter if you buy cream cheese or buttercream it all tastes like the factory it was made in. So I add some quick flavoring to it to go with my cake and make it totally delicious. For Esther’s birthday I used lemon flavoring for the white frosting and raspberry flavoring for the pink. Yum.

Tip: Wanna make your frosting from scratch? Make sure you are using a frosting recipe and not an icing recipe! It’s such a simple mistake but so easy to do.