Friday, January 31, 2014

Babies and Marriage! Friday Favorites (1/31)

Hey y'all! I am so glad it's the weekend. Aren't you? We've got cabin fever here at the Mills house. The kids were sick for the better part of last week and beginning of this week, and then we got snowed-in on Tuesday. But we have some fun stuff on deck for the weekend. 

Here are some of my favorite things from the past week:

Our new niece, Aubrey, was born on Tuesday morning!!! When Ben got home from work we took a snowy drive to the hospital to see her. 
 We went out for Mexican food afterward which was a treat since we rarely eat out during the week. And we took some back to the hospital for my sis and her husband. :)

Helping Ben lay-out our next Bible study lesson. The main idea is that as Christians we are married to Christ and there are many blessings that come from that. It has been really cool to see the way that earthly marriage reflects these blessings/benefits. 

Our dear, long-time friends, Brittany and John-David, were blessed with a baby boy! Their adoption story has been incredible, and it has been a privilege to pray for them and see God's work. 

Getting a gym membership! I have not had one in a couple of years, and I am so excited. We all went one evening, and the kids loved the childcare room! (Happy mommy dance.) I did part of Sarah's interval workout (again) and some extra leg stuff. Ben even ran beside me for a little while. 

Good reads from the blog world:
Mmmisformommy's crockpot ribs recipe which I'm making tonight. Reviews are rave so they better be good. 

We're having friends over for dinner tonight (that's why the ribs better be good). I am running 10 miles in the morning for marathon training, and we are going to try to get together with my sister's family tomorrow afternoon/evening so the "big kids" can play.

 I am most excited about the getaway that Ben and I leaving for after church Sunday morning to go skiing in West Virginia. 

Have an awesome weekend!

What do you have planned?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Veggie-full Meatloaf

Hey, y'all! Let's talk about meatloaf. It's one of those things you either love or hate. I'm somewhere in-between. But my husband loves it! And let's be honest, meatloaf is not pretty... it just looks gross! I probably make it only three or four times a year, mainly because I always feel like it's not very nutritious. I usually serve it with a green vegetable and something southern like mac n' cheese or mashed potatoes, but it just seems lacking. So, last time I made it, I decided to try mixing in some nutrition. Here's what I came up with:

I roughly chopped 2 carrots and 1/2 of a white onion, then put them in the food processor along with a generous handful or two of baby spinach. I pulsed until the carrots and onions were finely diced, but not mush. 

Then I just followed my usual recipe, stirring in the diced veggies. 

As a bonus, I sprinkled on a little shredded Gouda that needed to be used up. 

And it was a success!!! My kids never noticed a difference, and believe it or not, neither did Ben!

Let me know if you try this recipe. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Cookie Jar of Grace

Happy Monday, everyone!

Just when you think everything is running smoothly, you make a quick run to the grocery store (which is literally 30 seconds away from your child's preschool) right before drop-off time. 

Heading to check-out things were still going well; I had only gotten three items...

My little guy is always mesmerized by the candy display right next to the checkout line (I strongly dislike the person who decided to put that junk right at munchkin-eye-level!), and he loves to stand and stare at all the different types of gum; he picks them up and sniffs them and crinkles the plastic around the gum box. Sometimes I let him pick a pack if I know that his stash is low at home. (He LOVES gum!) 

Right after I signed my name on the credit card box, I look over to him to say, "OK, time to go!"--- and he enthusiastically rips open a packet of gum after I had repeatedly told him that we were not buying any on this day. So I say, "Now that you have ripped open the packet, we have to pay for it. But you are not going to be allowed to have any of the gum and you will not have any for the rest of the day." I instruct him to walk around and hand it to the cashier so that I can pay money for the gum. (At this point, I'm thinking that he is understanding the seriousness of what he has done...) But then he walks back around to me and completely changes the subject, asking about something totally different, but still trying to fulfill some desire of his. I'm also trying to have a conversation with another cashier now, who I know personally, and he is interrupting over and over. I say a quick goodbye to my friend, and hurry the little guy to jump onto the cart so that we can go back to the car to get to school which we are now three minutes late for. 

Feeling negative about the way that I handled the whole situation, (Why do I question my mom skills so much?!) I get in the car after getting the kids buckled and handing them a snack, and the feeling of defeat just washes over me. (It did not help that I somehow caused the panic alarm to go off on my van, and I could not figure out how to get it to stop. There's nothing like feeling defeated and then drawing attention to yourself in the grocery store parking lot with your blaring car alarm to work you up to tears.) Ah, motherhood...

There is a point to this story, and it's not that Rush is a typical four-year-old boy, or that I am a typical mommy. It is that we are all gluttons of grace. 

You know... we decide to go forward with something that we know in our hearts God has not given us "the go" on. We do it---> it doesn't go well---> God smooths it over for us---> and we immediately start asking him for the next thing without really asking for forgiveness and repenting of our indiscretion. 

"God help me to find the right new car." You find one just slightly over your price range and somehow justify that you can make it work. All the while there's a twinge in your stomach reminding you that it was not the best decision. But you quickly move on to the next thing: maybe asking for success in a new deal at work, but using a slight un-truth to entice the potential customer. And we continue this pattern of asking for God's help, knowing what's right, but straying a bit from totally obeying, and then pretending that all is OK (remember, there's no pretending with God). All the while, God is trying to get our attention with his "panic alarm" (conviction). We may regret our choice to "slightly" disobey or even feel embarrassed if others see the result of our mistake. But we do not get serious about repentance. We are over-indulgent partakers of God's grace. We've been caught up in what God can do for us (get us gum), but rarely admit our mess-ups. We continually go to Him with our problems and requests with unconfessed sins. 

I do not love my little boy any less when he messes up. But I do want him to realize and talk about the mistake when he makes one. God does not love us any less when we sin. But he asks us to confess our sins to Him so that we can grow. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

I do not want to be guilty of regretting a sin but never confessing and taking action against that sin (repentance). I certainly do not want to be guilty of gluttony. God's grace is a free gift, but I cannot expect to continue to receive it if I continually overindulge. 

Obviously, a four-year-old cannot be expected to understand the gravity of these things, but I can be setting an example by talking through these types of situations. It's only with God's help that I (alongside my husband) will be able to have the wisdom to instruct my children in these principles. But in the meantime, I am amazed at how much God is using mommy-hood to teach me, mold me, and grow me. His grace really is amazing, and I don't want to take advantage of it. 

"The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty." Numbers 14:18

And for a little comic relief:

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Favorites

Well... If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my post about our Little Lottie having RSV this week. So... that is my Friday un-favorite. ;) But, despite the sickness, this week has not been short of favorites. Here goes:

I decided for sure that I am training for the Covenant Marathon. Early morning runs, here I come... you may or may not see me with clothes on inside out during my training. 

Got some exciting (to me) shopping deals this week:
Awesome skirted running tights from Gap for $4.00!!! Yes, you read correctly: $4.00!!! 
I had just been thinking that I needed to find more skirted running gear for modesty reasons because of a recent conversation with Ben about modesty. Thanks for the gentle reminder, honey!

Plum Organics Fruit Straws for half-price at Kroger!

A successful first trip to the dentist for Rush. He was so brave, and his teeth looked great. Aunt Brittany, I know you're proud. 

Baking homemade Cinnamon Raisin Flax Bread. I doubled the recipe for my sister and her family since Baby Aubrey will arrive at any moment.

An awesome workout thanks to Sarah @ Sweetmiles!
I used my body bar for all of the weighted exercises. I had to cut it short, though, because as you can see on the light indicator on the baby monitor, Lottie woke up {poor sick baby}.

We are headed back to the pediatrician today for a follow-up. Then I am going to get my hair cut... just a trim, but it will mean a few hours of freedom for me because my mother-in-law will have the kids. :) I hope to do Sarah's workout again when I get home. Tonight is family movie night, and probably leftovers for dinner... my fridge is full! {I that's a good problem to have.} After the kids go to bed, we are going to do a run-through of the lesson Ben has prepped for Bible study; then we're going to watch episode 1 of North and South on Netflix. I'll have 14 miles to get in tomorrow morning, but besides that, we have no other plans tomorrow. That's a great Saturday in my opinion!

Happy weekend!

What are you currently studying in the Bible?
What's your favorite way to spend a Saturday?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bob's Red Mill Vegi Soup in a Crockpot

Last Sunday morning I had the idea to put some soup in the crockpot so that we could have lunch when we got home from church. I had been wanting to use the Bob's vegi soup mix that I bought about a month ago. Here's what I came up with:

1 pound turkey sausage, sliced (optional)
1 cup veggie soup mix
4 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth
1/2 white onion, diced
1/2-1 cup extra veggies such as potatoes, celery, carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp Dried oregano
1/2 tsp Dried Basil
1/2 tsp Dried thyme
1/2 tsp Garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker and give it a little stir. Cook on high for 4 hours (while you're at church). :) 

Remove the bay leaf so no one gets it in their stew. 

The family LOVED this stew! I will definitely make it again... maybe with chicken next time for something different. I hope you enjoy it too!

Have you ever used Bob's Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix? Please share a recipe if you have. 

Veggies and Goat Cheese Pasta

I came across this original recipe in Real Simple sometime in the summer. It is called "Linguine with Summer Vegetables and Goat Cheese," but I have adapted the recipe and now call it "Whatever-Veggies-Are-in-Your-Fridge Goat Cheese Pasta."

Here's what you need:
1/3-1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3/4 lb. whole wheat pasta (or any variety)
3 Tbsp oil
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder or 2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups corn (fresh or frozen, thawed)
1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
Any of the following: 1 zucchini, 1/2 cup asparagus or green beans, 1 cup baby spinach or kale chopped
6-8 oz goat cheese crumbles

Cook pasta according to the package directions; toss in the zucchini, asparagus, and/or green beans the last 3 minutes of the pasta cook time. Reserve one cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and veggies. 

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a skillet on med-high heat. Season the corn with salt and pepper and garlic powder or fresh garlic; sauté the corn until soft and fragrant. 

Toss the pasta along with ALL of the veggies including chopped leafy greens into the pasta pot, adding 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally as the "sauce" thickens. Add more cooking water if needed. 

Serve in shallow bowls and top the pasta with the toasted walnuts, extra goat cheese, and fresh oregano (if desired).

Monday, January 20, 2014

Marvelous in my Monday!

Happy Monday, y'all!
It was a great weekend here at the Mills house! 

Friday night, I made homemade pizza, and my sister and her family (our best friends) came over. She is due to deliver baby #3 any day, so we are all excited about that! I forgot to take a pic of the pizzas, but I will have to share the crust recipe because it turned out to be the best that I have ever made! Don't you love homemade pizza?!

Saturday was birthday party day! Lottie had so much fun at her cowgirl party. We have so many wonderful, loving family and friends that came to celebrate with us. I will share some pics later this week. 

When we got the kids to bed on Saturday night, Ben and I stood in the kitchen (because I fall asleep if it's after 8:00 pm and I sit down) and went through the final draft of his lesson for our class. While he was talking, I was listening and giving my input, I might have made this:
Brownie in a mug. 😍 

I am still full of joy after a great day at church yesterday. All three teachings that I heard (Bible study taught by Ben and two sermons) were powerful and convicting and inspiring. God really opened my heart to reveal some tough stuff to me about my motivation behind what I do. I'm so glad that I have the Holy Spirit through Christ in me to help me in my weaknesses. 

Today I am meal planning, grocery shopping, and taking Rush to have his teeth cleaned. Just a typical day-in-the-life Monday!  
Thanks, Katie for hosting!

What was your favorite moment this weekend?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Favorites!

This week just came and went in a blur. I truly can't remember much since Sunday.   Does that ever happen to you? Oh well... here are a few things I do remember:

Favorite moment:

Going out to lunch after Bible study on Wednesday for Lottie's 2nd birthday! Ben came to meet us, and we had a great time!

Favorite Moment with God:

Hard to pick one, but it was great to get back to Bible Study Fellowship after a long Christmas break plus weather cancellation. We are studying Matthew, and I am more and more amazed at Jesus. 

Favorite Food:

Olives and Wine's Peanut butter berry bars It's a peanut butter and jelly granola bar!

Favorite Friend Moment:

Girls' Night at Misty's. We watched Pitch Perfect (because we all love to sing!), and ate an amazing dinner. Fun times (no pic... we were too busy laughing!)!

Favorite Reads:

Becky Crenshaw "The Worldwide Webs We Weave" So convicting and well-stated. Her blog is awesome!
Barbara H's book review of Lisa Terkeurst's "Unglued."  I've been considering reading this book, and now I will have to!

Happy Friday! We are looking forward to Lottie's party on Saturday, leading our Bible Study on Sunday morning, and possibly skiing on Sunday afternoon. What do you have planned?
Lottie stole my hat! And me, sans make-up!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Marvelous Monday! And My Non-Perfect Life Disclaimer...

Sometimes I worry that this blog can come off as my "highlight reel." So before I spout off all the great stuff that I experienced this weekend, I want to be clear that my life is not all rainbows and roses. I yell at my kids; I feel depressed and lonely sometimes; Ben and I have marital conflict; I stray from my relationship with The Lord. Thankfully, the God that I seek to serve is gracious, and He forgives my shortcomings when I ask; He comforts me when I feel down. <---- This tidbit of info is "marvelous" enough to never write another blog post again! But, since the title of this post is Marvelous Monday, I'll go ahead and share a few things from our weekend...

Friday night triple date to Cheesecake Factory:
Ben and me

Me, my sis, and future sis-in-law (Sorry for the bad photo. Lighting inside CF is bad for pics.)
I  had the Chicken Madeira, which was good. But my favorite was the cheesecake: Kahlua Cocoa Coffee, and it was AMAZING!

Saturday morning trip to the Rainforest Zoo. 
We have a season pass but have not been since the summer. They had some new animals, so we had an extra-fun time learning about them!

Saturday afternoon outside playtime.
The rain cleared, so we got to get some fresh air. :)

Awesome Lord's day!
Ben did an amazing job teaching on Jeremiah 17:5-10. Our pastor's sermon on the importance of being dedicated to your local church was bold and convicting. 
I made a new soup/stew in my Crock-pot using Bob's Red Mills Vegi Soup Mix. (Recipe soon!) 
The evening sermon from Titus was spot-on for me as well. After church, Ben said, "Pastor Dan has perfected the art of humble boldness," and I could not agree more. We are blessed with a great church and pastor. 

Sunday afternoon run.
It was a beautiful afternoon. I rarely see this route in daylight, so I had a special appreciation for the view along the way. 

Hope you have a marvelous Monday!

Thanks to Katie at Healthy Diva Eats for hosting this link-up!

Simple Fish Tacos

Quick, filling, fresh, healthy, and toddler/ husband approved.

You will need:
Homemade taco seasoning, yellow cornmeal, and 1 to 1 1/2 pounds tilapia, cooking oil of choice, tortillas and toppings (full recipe at the bottom of this post)

While you heat your oil, put 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal and the fish in a gallon size zippered bag, or bowl with a tight-fitting lid, and shake to coat. 
Sorry, folks, my phone died during the next step... so no photo. 

There will be cornmeal and seasoning that do not stick to the fish, but you will use it when you put the fish in the hot oil, so reserve it.

Place the fish in the pan with the hot oil, and lightly sprinkle the reserved cornmeal and seasoning on top of the fish, then flip it over immediately. Sprinkle the other side of the fish lightly. 

Cook about 5 minutes on each side (cook time depends on the size of the fillet). Start to break up the fish as it softens with cooking, and stir to distribute the cornmeal and seasonings a bit more.

 Continue to cook until nice and golden. 

Serve on your tortilla of choice. I prefer soft corn tortillas. Top with fresh chopped spinach, avocado, tomato, salsa, etc! Black beans make a great side!

Simple Fish Tacos

by April Mills
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

4-6 adults


  • cooking oil of choice
  • 1 Tbsp. homemade taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1- 1 1/2 lbs. tilapia
  • tortilla of choice (I prefer soft yellow corn.)
  • toppings: avocado, chopped baby spinach, diced tomato, salsa, onion, shredded cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt
Place 1 tablespoon taco seasoning, 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal and the fish in a gallon size zippered bag, or bowl with a tight-fitting lid, and shake to coat. Reserve excess cornmeal-seasoning.
Heat oil on medium-high heat.
Place the fish in the pan with the hot oil, and lightly sprinkle the reserved cornmeal and seasoning on top of the fish, then flip it over immediately; sprinkle the other side of the fish lightly.
Cook about 5 minutes on each side (cook time depends on the size of the fillet).
Start to break up the fish as it softens with cooking, and stir to distribute the cornmeal and seasonings a bit more.
Continue to cook until nice and golden, about 5-10 more minutes.
Serve on tortilla of choice with fresh toppings.
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Friday, January 10, 2014

Control Your Temper

The name of this blog is Fruitful Family, which is inspired by one of my favorite bible passages, Galatians 5:22-23, that says, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" There may not be another verse that states more clearly what I hope to model my life after. But to be honest, I fail everyday. 

Philippians 4:5 says "Let your gentleness be evident to all." 

This is the one "fruit" that I have struggled with the most lately. If you are a parent, I know you can relate. 

I find myself getting flustered with my kids' behavior to the point that I raise my voice too often (um... yell, actually), grunt (I know!), and even use sarcasm sometimes. {They're only four and two!} My explosions of temper happen most when my attempts at being gracious and gentle are ignored, but the only thing I'm teaching them is to react in the same way when they are frustrated. And I am seeing that result. :(

My prayer is that being gentle will not only be not be my first reaction to their disobedience, but my second and third as well. 

But I know that I cannot simply ask God to take that attitude/reaction out of my heart; I must ask Him to search my heart; to reveal to me the root of my sinful reaction: I'm not reacting to the defiant attitude; I'm reacting -er, having a "grown-up tantrum"- over my feeling out of control. 

My children need to see me displaying gentleness and self-control if they are to be able to produce those fruits in their lives. 

"We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God's grace, not on our own human wisdom..." 2 Corinthians 1:12

Oh, Lord God, only you can give me the grace that I need for these trying moments. Wrap your hands tightly around my heart when my attitude is on the verge of ugly. Remind me that my children's willful disobedience is just like my disobedience to you; and that you correct with gentleness. Turn my frustration toward them into simple words of guidance and LOVE. 

"This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." The words of Jesus in John 15:12

How do you handle the willful disobedience of the little hearts in your home?

Friday Favs

1. Watching my kids play in the snow!

2. Having a "Sprinkle" (small baby shower) for my big sister who is expecting her third very soon!

3. Trying some new recipes! 
Broccoli, spinach, pesto quiche from The Gracious Pantry

Fish tacos (my own version--- recipe coming soon)

4. 2nd Birthday party planning for my Lottie Loo! Cowgirl theme!

5. FINALLY going for a long run this morning! 
It has been so cold, that I have not been running, and I am such a treadmill wimp! I managed a s-l-o-w 12 miles in the rain, but at least it was slightly above freezing- 33 degrees to be exact. ;) It was such a slow run that I made Ben late for work! Oops! 
Speaking of Ben, can share a bonus favorite?

Bonus Fav: I am so thankful for Ben. 
I was just reflecting this morning on what a great man he is. He is so diligent in his relationship with God; and he is preparing to teach our new class with excellence. He is so supportive of me in every way, and he is very intentional with our kids in leading them. OK, enough bragging...

We are looking forward to another low-key weekend with a possible date night tonight. We got a gift card to Cheesecake Factory for Christmas, so we want to use it. And after this 12-mile run, I will enjoy my cheesecake guilt-free! Please pray for us as we prepare to facilitate our first real lesson this Sunday.
And just for kicks, here are some of my favorite blog reads from this past week:

Hidden with You: Interruptions and Interrupt
Delights and Delectables: My Prayer as a Future Adoptive Mom

Have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blog Blah! And My 1st "Marvelous in My Monday"

So... I have been "blogging" for over a year now, and I have a confession to make: I have no clue what I am doing! I guessed enough to create the blog, type, and publish, but that's about it. And honestly, I did not read many blogs before I started mine, so I had no "blog community." I still don't follow that many, but I use the Bloglovin' app so that when I come across a new one I can have it on my reading list. I started my blog more as an outlet for journaling than anything else, but I do enjoy sharing it with others. I'm not at all wanting to make money through my blog, I just want to share my faith, struggles, and successes in order to encourage others.  Here's where I am struggling: I feel like the only way to get more readers is to comment on other blogs a lot and blow up Twitter and Facebook... and I do not have the time to do that. Help!??? I know there has to be a better way to build my audience. Any practical advice is appreciated.

On to my Marvelous in My Monday...

Our weekend was fun. We were really focused on teaching our first class on Sunday morning, so that was our main topic of conversation. I got to do some baking on Saturday morning,which I haven't gotten to do in a while. Whole Wheat Flax Bread (easy!):
Recipe from Foodie Stays Fit

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles from The Mother Huddle. 

M&M Cookies for Family Movie Night on Saturday night. Movie of choice was Benji. 

Sunday morning went super-well! Ben did a great job preparing and sharing our testimony. I am so proud of him for stepping out of his comfort zone in obedience to The Lord. 

We woke up to snow today!!! And I just made myself this yummy "grown-up hot chocolate" with my leftover coffee from this morning to warm up after playing outside with Rush. Do you see the white stuff in the background???
1/4 cup coffee, 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk, chocolate syrup of choice.
Mix together and heat in microwave!

I've been trying to read more blogs lately, and here's a great one that I found over the weekend: The Saved Runner. 

Some of my favorite posts from the weekend were:
Runner's Trials (Her) Preterm Labor
Lindsey's List Working Out While Pregnant
Delights and Delectables Friday Five and Favorites
A Healthy Slice of Life Munchkin Meals ( my first ever link-up!)
I also got to play with my Silouhette Cameo. Here's a preview of the pendant banner I am making for my niece:

And to make my Monday even more marvelous, I'm making quiche for dinner!!!

Happy Monday!!!