Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Hello 2018!

Welcome, New Year! Our little family had highs and lows in 2017, but through it all, God was good. Here's a recap of some of the merriment we experienced in the month of December:


My sweet bible study friends got together for a delicious brunch, and a few days later we had a girl's night out, sipping wine and painting at a studio called Mood. It was my first time using acrylics and our teacher was wonderful. 

Our Mops Leadership put on a lovely evening at our local country club. I had a couple girlfriends over for a "pre-party" in the bathroom. Just like college days... Mike and I hosted our annual Open House and loved watching our friends mingle.

Despite our city voting against having a Nativity, our local churches got together and set up a beautiful display right downtown on some private property. 

All four of my kids, plus two daughter-in-laws and our youngest daughter's fiance' were ALL home this year! It was so special to have them all together at our Harbor home. We still don't know if we'll have to put our house on the market this Winter or Spring, but we enjoyed hanging out, playing games, eating and sipping together in our cozy downtown Split-level, with coffee cups, shoes, pillows and laptops scattered everywhere!

7 Seas Brewery Shenanigans

Christmas Morning Breakfast

We had a White Christmas in the PNW!! It started snowing just as we were heading to Christmas Eve service and continued through the next day. It was beautiful!

The day after Christmas, all the Carver girls headed to the bridal shop to check out our little bride's dress. In another post, I might explain some tips for other future mothers of the bride. (Lots of hidden costs I didn't know about...) 

Mike and I hosted a little engagement party and it was wonderful getting to know our future son-in-law's family. ONLY 185 DAYS UNTIL THEIR WEDDING! I've got some work to do...

After all the kids left (missing them!) and the tree was down, we drove up to Seattle on Saturday. We watched the Huskies lose at the Ram by the UW campus, window shopped, admired the city lights and checked out the amazing Gingerbread Houses across from the Sheridan Hotel.

Thankfully I rebounded from my mean cold (two weeks and counting!) long enough Sunday night to celebrate New Year's Eve with friends. We always enjoy hanging out together!

(At the Burnett Hutchins Group gathering in Nov.)

We spent the evening playing fun games while sipping champagne and munching on snacks and chocolate fondue. The guys set off bottle rockets right before Midnight and we watched fireworks over the water and on TV. I was impressed I stayed up until the clock struck 12:00!

So many dear people across our amazing globe dealt with tragedy and terribly hard circumstances, and I hope there will be joy and peace for them in the coming 12 months. I am ready for the New Year and am looking forward to all that 2018 holds in store. I'm excited to begin a new part-time job as a nanny for a baby girl, and our very own baby girl (OK, she's 24) is getting married in July! My husband Michael continues searching hard for his new job. Fingers crossed, and continuous prayers going up! 

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the world, and I wish you a wonderful New Year! Once we have some exciting job or house news (and a paycheck) we'll send out belated Christmas cards to our sweet family and friends. Thanks for your understanding...

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
ISAIAH 43:18-19

In His Grip,
xo Jane

Saturday, December 9, 2017

5 Favorites

Happy Saturday! I hope you're enjoying this second weekend in December. The photo above is from a post I wrote many years ago, "Mrs. C and Me," explaining all the things I have in common with Mrs. Claus. I LOVE Christmas! I still have and occasionally wear that hat!

One of my sisters asked if I had put my personal family photos back out since our home is no longer "on the market." The answer is no, not yet. Half our garage is still filled with boxes that are packed with personal items, excess decor, out-of-season clothes, etc. Whether we get to stay in the house or not, I'll eventually go through all the stuff and hopefully pare down even more. We've decked-the-halls in a minimalistic, yet cozy way, and I'd better get busy since I'm filling in at Charlie Barnes for a few hours this afternoon. Come visit the baby store if you're in the Gig Harbor area~lots of adorable items for littles.

But first, here are my current favorites:

1. Yay for body butter from Trader Joe's:
I use the Coconut body butter all year, but THIS Warm Vanilla is new and only available for the Holiday season. Rush~there weren't many jars left yesterday! Only $4.99 and healthier than Bath & Bodyworks lotions.

2. The Sample Dinner Ideas from Trader Joes:
In the back of the University Place store, a friendly woman prepares yummy samples using about three ingredients found in the store. Yesterday's menu was roast beef and brie on French bread. My tip is to take a picture of the recipe that they write on a little chalkboard so you can remember what to buy in the future.

3. Seeing familiar faces around town:
One of the big reasons why I love living here in my Harbor town is always bumping into people I know when I run errands. (I may or may not remember all their names, but I know their faces!)  I have a history with lots and lots of wonderful people that I've met over the last twenty years. At Target I saw at least six friends, then caught up with a bestie at Michael's craft store.  I walked into two local shops Friday morning and had the joy of being recognized, welcomed, and known. 

4. Flashback Memory:
When I was a tween and teen, my Dad, who worked in Indianapolis (about 30 minutes North of our home in Carmel) would take me with him downtown for a special day when school was out for the Holidays. I'd get to Christmas shop in L.S. Ayres and Blocks Department stores (think Nordstrom or Macy's) ALL  BY MYSELF! I loved the festive window displays, the gift displays, feeling grown-up and then meeting my Daddy for lunch at the Press Club. I moved away from Indiana in 1994 and my father passed away the year before that, so it's been many, many Christmas seasons since I've had those special times with my Dad in the Hoosier State.

5. Having an unexpected "Holy Moment" in my kitchen.
I had asked "Alexa" to play holiday songs by Michael W. Smith and the song "All is Well" sung by Carrie Underwood and Michael came on. OH. MY! It stopped me in my tracks! SO beautiful and perfect peace for my heart. Praise for their goose-bump talent giving glory to Jesus! Enjoy!

We're praying for the fires in California to be extinguished, (thankfully our oldest son's apartment isn't affected) for healing for our friend's toddler, Caleb, and a new job for my husband, yet rejoicing that there are only 16 days until Christmas!!

In His Grip and trusting All is Well with you,
xo Jane

Monday, December 4, 2017

Listening With our Hearts and Minds

"Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left." Isaiah 30:21

If you drive by our house you might notice that the "for sale" sign is missing. No, it wasn't taken, and no, our house hasn't sold. As my husband puts it, we've had a "course correction." We've come to the conclusion that our idea to move wasn't meant to be. At least not right now. No doors were opening and we just weren't getting any confirmation.

Sometimes it takes some time and a journey to realize that HOME is right where you are! We had prayed, discussed, worked hard to prepare our home to sell, and truly thought we were heading in the right direction; moving East to Spokane where three of our four children currently live. During and after our fun Thanksgiving weekend there with our kids we were feeling unsettled and second-guessing our choices.  God whispered to both of us, "stay where you are, I have more for you to do in the Harbor..."

We were terribly excited at the idea of living close to our children and spending time with them often, and selling the home to become debt-free would have been excellent. Yet, the idea of saying goodbye to our beautiful community, our church, our friends, and the life that we've built over twenty years just seemed wrong. Especially since we returned here from Illinois because we missed it so much! (Here's an old post I wrote about selling our home in Glen Ellyn, IL.)

When we called our kids to explain our change of heart they were disappointed we wouldn't be coming but VERY understanding. We have the most amazing children ever! Our friends who supported us in our move decision made us feel loved with our stay decision. We certainly have and will be a slight topic around town~those crazy Carvers!

Our future is still a bit unknown since the paychecks stop in a few weeks, but my husband is whole-heartily focused on finding his next job, and we trust God with all our tomorrows. I can enjoy ALL the fun December things without quite all the anxiety; preparing for parties instead of preparing for "showings," baking, deepening friendships, and anticipating our kids coming home and enjoying a pitcher of margaritas with them! (see link above)

We aren't the only ones who turned things around! Since our brand new washing machine was delivered, every time I took our wet clothes out I wondered why they were HOT. (Our rinse cycle is always supposed to be cold water.) In a moment of "I'm not so blonde after all," I asked Mike if there was any chance the delivery man connected the water hoses incorrectly. He had! The cold and hot water hoses were hooked up wrong and needed to be corrected. For two weeks I've been shrinking our clothes. Boo. 

Lesson Learned: Good intentions don't always mean good decisions. Sometimes things need to be corrected.

We are very thankful for the graciousness of God as we move forward, right here. We trust we will flourish HERE and can plan visits often to see our precious children in Spokane and L.A.
Thor is super happy his cat condo is back where it belongs:
 In His Grip and Choosing Joy,
xo Jane
Thanks for reading SJL!

photo source:

Thursday, November 30, 2017

What I Learned This Fall: September-November 2017

Oh Alexander, I can relate!

As I write this, my Mom is celebrating her 91st Birthday!! I am thankful that she was born, thankful she met and married my amazing Daddy Vaughn, thankful that she had my two older sisters and me and thankful to have her as my Mama! She is very young-at-heart and it's hard to believe she's been on Earth for 91 years! I choose to believe that my kind qualities come from her! She was a teacher her whole life; to students and her children. She graduated from Depauw University, earned her Masters degree from Ball State and she taught at  College Wood Elementary in Carmel, Indiana from the day the school opened until she retired. She was the BEST 5th-grade teacher ever and she passed on the teaching gene to her three daughters and three of her grandchildren.

(The Story "girls" on my visit this Fall.)

Besides all the lessons I've learned from my Mom, here are some other things that I learned this fall:
1. Some people can sleep with their cats, but not me!
My one-year-old, always hungry, growing daily, red kitty wants to sleep on my pillow on top of my head or on my neck! He makes it difficult for me to breathe, let alone sleep! I can really only snuggle with him when I'm sitting on the couch.  Oh, Thor!

2. I finally figured out how to clean and shine my teapot.
For some reason, when you leave your teapot on a burner while you fry or cook, it gets coated in residue that just won't come off with dish detergent. After years of frustration, I hunted online and found that a paste of baking soda with white vinegar makes a gentle scrub that takes off the gunk and leaves the finish. Thanks, Martha

3. Being a "Great-Aunt" is super fun and gives me a glimpse of how amazing it will be to become a Grandma someday.
Thanks to my nieces and nephews in Indiana, I have nine Greats! I didn't get to see them all on my trip back to the Midwest this Fall, but I did get to see five of them including the two new twin baby girls. 

4. Sometimes life gets hard and things change quickly.

I thought my part-time job was always going to be "my spot."  Finding out my hours were being cut was HARD. Throughout my adult years, I have spent time as a waitress, teacher, full-time Mama, and sales clerk at the baby boutique. What's next? It's time to start hitting the pavement and find my next $pot. 

We knew my husband's job was probably going to end. (I'm proud that he hung in there as long as he did! ) When it really happened a few weeks ago, it was HARD. 

When our five-year-old front-loader washing machine stopped working and even with the new part wouldn't work, that was ANNOYING. My sweet friend let me use her home like a laundromat until our new top-loader was delivered. Thanks again Dawn!!

Deciding to sell our dream home was HARD! Not knowing if it's the right solution has us awake at night. I'll let you know what we decide... Which leads me to #5.

5. TMJ is a THING and I have it!

Headaches. Every day. All day and night. I have been trying to rule out the causes. My doctor sent me to an ENT, Ophthalmologist, MRI and guess what I found out at the Dentist this week?... I have TMJ and my pain is exactly like the picture below. I wish I had found this article months ago! I suffer from all of it. I could be the girl in this photo!

So...I'm now going to be wearing my night guard, taking Advil every four hours, and applying moist heat. (Not sure about the don't speak too much and don't bite your nails mentioned in this article.) Perhaps my stress level is through the roof?...

6. Do you want to become a minimalist? Put your house on the market!

We actually got our home "on the market" one week after we made the decision. I sped through each room, pulling items to get rid of. Some things were boxed up and are stored in our garage. Daily trips to Goodwill happened. My bible study friends got used to me schlepping in bags of "stuff" for them to look at. Two of my best friends did a walk-through and advised me what else I needed to remove to make our home look VERY uncluttered and tidy. Then, the deep cleaning began...

I really miss my family photos and "GOD is Good" artwork, but other than that, everything left "sparks joy" as in Marie Kondõ's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. 

If you're serious about decluttering and purging, you might want to check out a book coming out next month called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson that I discovered while looking around on Amazon. Basically, the premise is "Let's not leave our cr__ for our family members to deal with." I can't believe some of the stuff I've been saving!

Perhaps I need to write a book on how this transplanted Midwest-turned-PNW-recovering-sentimental-hoarder is learning how to say goodbye to stuff?!

For those of you who have read my posts this month, I don't really have an update on my current situation. Are we selling? Moving? Finding jobs? 

I've always loved Fall, this year's Fall just hasn't been my favorite. Alexander in the book at the top had a terrible, horrible, very bad day, and I've been feeling like we've sort of had a very bad month. I DO know God knows and sees and has a plan, and so we will just continue praying for wise decisions that are God-honoring. 

I am linking up to Emily P. Freeman from Chatting at the Sky. Enjoy! 
Only 25 more days until Christmas!! Let the joyful merriment celebrating Jesus begin!

In His Grip,
xo Jane

Saturday, November 18, 2017

5 Favorites

Happy Saturday! I didn't get a chance to post this yesterday because we headed up to the wonderful wine area of Woodinville to have dinner with friends. Thanks to a break in the rain, I took a sunny walk Friday morning with Sydney, and the photo above was one of the beautiful sites I got to enjoy. The views in my current town will always be my favorites! Here are five other favorites:

1. Event
This week's list of favorites begins with an invitation. If you live anywhere near Gig Harbor, Washington, you need to pop over to the Festival Of Hope, which takes place today and Sunday at Chapel Hill Church. Check out the link, and then come purchase gifts with a purpose

2. Beauty Product
It was time to buy a new mascara, and since I'd read good reviews about L'Oreal Voluminous Paradise Mascara I decided to give it a try! The cashier at Bartell's said everyone raves about it. The price was under $9 and it really is a great product. "Take your lashes to Paradise?" Yes, I did! Now, can I please take my whole self to Paradise? Maui perhaps? A girl can dream...
3. Red Blend
I've always liked "14 Hands" wines, so when I saw this new blend called "Run Wild" I had to try it. WOW. Just like the label says; Juicy and fruit-forward. Such a great affordable red wine! 

4. Country Singer
I obviously haven't been keeping my radio tuned to Country music lately, because not until I watched my recorded "Country Music Awards" show did I rediscover Maren Morris. (I love her song "80's Mercedes.") During the CMA's, Maren sang a duet with Niall Horan, who used to be with the band One Direction. (He's a cutie and talented!) Check out "I could use a Love Song" and "Seeing Blind."

5. Our Thanksgiving Traditions
I love Thanksgiving!  We I watch the Macy's parade, and we normally watch football while preparing our feast. Our family's menu: turkey, Carver stuffing/Story dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cheesy green beans (not the mushroom soup recipe), rolls, cranberry relish, and pie or pumpkin bars with cream cheese. Our vegetarian daughter will whip up something delicious too. We ALWAYS listen to the "Nutcracker Suite" music while we eat, talk about what we're thankful for and looking forward to, and sip yummy Pinot Noir or Riesling wine. 

For the last twenty years, we've lived too far away from our parents and siblings to be together on Thanksgiving except once or twice. As I reflect on our time in the Harbor, I'm so thankful for good friends who have invited us over when we were in-between houses or without kiddos (thanks, Davis and MacIntosh families) and hosted our children when we were back in Illinois. (Thanks, Fullertons!) We also spent many evenings joining our former Life Group for a dessert potluck. It's such a gift to gather around the table to others!! 
How do you spend your Thanksgiving Day?

I'm looking forward to popping over to the Festival of Hope, and joining the mommies I mentor in MOPS for a girl's night in Tacoma.  I'm not looking forward to cleaning again for our Open House tomorrow, but I am HOPEFUL that our buyer will walk through the door and fall in love! Have a great weekend!

"I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of your wonderful deeds."
Psalm 9:1

In His Grip and grateful for grace,
xo Jane

photo source:

Monday, November 13, 2017

Random Thoughts For a Rainy Monday

My boys and husband are BIG Arsenal "football" fans. Every Saturday morning, we tape the games so they can root for their favorite English Premier League team. I have my own current arsenal; it involves all the products I'm using on a daily basis to keep this "for sale" house looking clean and shiny.

I love both Method and Mrs. Meyer's cleaners, and since I was going through paper towels too quickly, I picked up some reusable Brillo wipes. Oh, Lemon Pledge too-not only to dust with, but it is great for stainless steel appliances. I must say, we've got this down since we can get ready for a showing in about 20 minutes; vacuum, counters shined, sinks wiped dry, dog and cat items hidden, lights on, soft music playing, air freshener sprayed. Yep, this is not our first house-selling rodeo.

Years ago I followed the blogger and author called "FLY Lady." She has really kept up with the times and even has a cell phone app now. "It all starts with a shiny sink." If you've never read any of her information, I highly recommend it. I might be getting a bit anal since I found myself clearing the prep counter before my husband had even had time to start eating his breakfast.

Notice the generic Day and Night Cold medicine mixed in with my arsenal of cleaners? Of course I'd get a scratchy throat and headache during a stressful time. I'm drinking lots of H20 and taking my vitamins. I blame our trip to IKEA on Veteran's Day. So many people...

Did our washing machine break last week? Of course, it did! I am SO grateful for my friend Dawn who lets me come over and use hers until our expensive part comes in so the expensive repairman can return to get it up and running.

"We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5

I am still excited about the new adventure that is ahead for us and to live in the same town as three of my kids, but I will admit that the reality is sinking in a bit and I've been a bit down. I will REALLY miss this home and my friends. But then I think back to other times and other moves and I know that God really does have a purpose. This week my bible study is focusing on Joseph and in Genesis 45:8 it says, "So it was not you who sent me here, but God."

I also reread two of my previous blog posts that described my heart as we moved. If you take the time to read them, you might understand why we trust God so much with our next step. 
(The photo at the top was from a trip to Florida. I wish God would send another visual to us right now!)

Windows and Walls

(Our family's Yellow House: 1997-2010)
Looking Back...and a Five Year Blog Anniversary
The last sentence of this post I wrote sure applies to NOW: "I try to remember not to hold on too tightly to all we've been given. Who knows what the next five years might bring?"

We know that rainy November is not the ideal time to list and sell a home, so we'd really appreciate your prayers and referrals! Time to light a candle, sip some tea, and go shine my sink!

In His Grip, 
xo Jane

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Here We Go...Again!

Do you know anyone who decided to sell their home last Friday and got it ready to show in one week? Well, you do now...

Back in September, I wrote about how much we LOVE our Harbor home. We just celebrated our third anniversary of moving here from Fox Island and I really thought this was our forever home. God, however, has a different plan for us.

My husband and I have both been feeling weighed down by our debt and feeling like God was nudging us to consider a new adventure. After lots of talks and prayers, we came to the conclusion that we need to sell our "dream home" and then move across the state to Spokane.

God has been preparing us and whispering to our hearts for months. My job situation changed, Mike's might very soon, and we realized there won't be many times when three of our four grown children live in the same town. It's no coincidence that my bible study has been focusing on Abraham's trust and obedience to God's call, and every podcast I listen to talks about GOing and obeying.

Once we made our decision and shared the news with our kids, the hard work of purging, staging, and cleaning began. I'm becoming a regular at the Goodwill drop-off, my house no longer has ANY family photos (so sad) and our garage is overflowing with packed boxes.

We adore our community of friends and our Harbor town, but we are trusting that God has gone before us and will help us find a spot to rent, church to attend, friends to do life with and possibly new jobs! I will never be able to replace my sweet sisters in Christ I have here, but I will visit often and keep in touch via texting and phone calls. As I look ahead, I hope I can become involved in a MOPS group or maybe mentor some Whitworth University students, but if I've learned anything lately, it's to let God lead and then join Him.

Yesterday our photographer-friend sent us the shots he took yesterday and we're waiting for Zillow to activate our updated information. Our neighbor-friends helped my husband with a couple last minute outside chores and signs are now in the yard and down the hill. THIS IS HAPPENING!

If you know anyone who is house-hunting in the Gig Harbor, Washington area, please contact me or comment below. We plan on holding our first (and only?) Open House today from 1:00-4:00. We'll have the Seahawks game on so you won't miss a thing!

So that's whats been happening in my little corner of the world. I'm glad we got to turn our clocks back last night and get an hour more to sleep! In the last seven years, I have packed and moved five times. I'm tired! 

 “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.” Psalm 25:10

In His Grip,
xo Jane
(The photo at the top was looking out my kitchen window two weeks ago before all the wind blew the leaves down.)