Ask and Ye Shall Receive...

Life continues to happen...whether or not I am blogging about it.  I must remember this.  There are seasons when I can crank out 10 posts in an afternoon and there are seasons when I can't even get 10 words typed.  We are currently in the latter (well...except for this post, of course).  I hope to carve out some time this weekend to write several posts that are floating around in my head, but until then, know that we are living and breathing, counting our MANY blessings, and reveling in the gifts of one another.  Since January was a little crazy around here, this week is the start of my "new year" -- which means attempts at scheduling, more intentional living, eating, reading, playing, etc.  Many, many things to keep up with, and blogging just doesn't make it to the top of the list.  But...I miss it, so hopefully once things are a bit more oiled and running smoothly, I'll be able to fit in regular blog posts. Don't give up on me friends. :)

I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that i might feel the need for God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for - but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all people, truly blessed.
~Author Unknown


Right Now...

This reminds me of those surveys (or memes? is that what they were called?) that went around SO much after e-mail became popular...I can still hear my modem dialing up right now as I anxiously awaited to see if I had any mail....

But, I like this one, as it would be a fun way to go back and remember what was going on at various points in life. It would be good to fill it out about once a month and save it...or blog it...

Of course, I found it at my new favorite hangout...

1. LISTENING: quiet...very quiet. just the hum of the baby monitor and the refrigerator

2. EATING: nothing...still very full from lunch...leftover Chicken Pot Pie

3. DRINKING: sweet tea...all afternoon on Sundays.

4. WEARING: jeans, black cami, hoodie. cozy. comfortable.

5. FEELING: excited about a new week with no major plans or doctor's restrictions!

6. WEATHER: COLD...but sunny!!

7. WANTING: a nap...stayed up late last night watching a movie.

8. NEEDING: (a nap), more of me to get it all done!

9. THINKING: about blogging this list periodically...

10. ENJOYING: the weekend with my husband, and my daughter's developing vocabulary.

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Because, it's the weekend again...

...and because this is what you do when you live far away from grandparents and Aunties. :-)


Thankful Thursday: an early glimpse of Spring...

Gifts #58-75

- small fingernails painted pink
- coffee in the afternoon
- raindrops hanging...and then falling
- a pink sunrise
- memories of the "highs" of dating
- her bed-head all nested and matted and adorable
- the bed all mussed...evidence of slumber
- the bed all made up changing the whole demeanor of the room
- forts made of blankets and pillows
- Mercy - the clouds ye so much dread...are RICH with mercy
- His Fatherlike tending
- the gift of covenants and families and generations that bless His name
- an October sky...in January
- the gray-blue of her eyes
- the sky in his eyes
- timeless treasures in books on loan from those who have walked before
- tiny yellow flowers still blooming (but not needing mowing!)
- the joy of being home, savoring every moment with her

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Of generations...

(Note: This post was originally written as an introduction for tomorrow's Thankful Thursday post, but it grew and grew as some posts are apt to do, so I am posting it separately and Iwill post the graces and pictures tomorrow.)

Just this past Sunday, we started a new parenting class at church. We will be watching the video series Getting to the Heart of Parenting by Paul Tripp. (If you are not familiar with Paul, you may have heard of his brother, Tedd, who wrote, Shepherding a Child's Heart.) My husband and I recently had the opportunity to hear Paul speak at a marriage conference (I talked about that here), so I was excited to hear what he has to say with regard to parenting. The video took up about half of the Sunday School hour, and then we followed up with discussion and answering some thought-provoking (translated: convicting) questions.

The interesting (to me...) part of this week's study came at the absolute VERY beginning...in fact, even before we watched the video, as the leader had us look at the passage that Paul would read to begin. You might be thinking to yourself (like I was), "Okay...parenting series...it's probably (insert verse of choice here)..."

Judges 2: 6-15

Yep...Judges. NOT the first place I would turn to in my quest for parenting. But...check out verse 10...

...And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

You'll notice it doesn't say, who did not follow the Lord, the God of their Fathers...it says who. did. not. know.

The leaders...heads of families, and priests and judges failed to follow God's commands in teaching the next generation of the works of the Lord, as he had commanded them (as found in Deuteronomy).

Only take care, keep your soul diligently lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children, how on the day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, the Lord said to me, "Gather the people to me that I may let them hear my words so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth and that they may teach their children so. (Deuteronomy 4:9-10)

The emphasis is mine... Notice that the first command is to the fathers (parents) to keep their own soul diligently. We cannot tend to others, if our own is a disaster. Paul (Tripp) said, "You cannot give away that which you do not have."

Hear O, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)

This language of all your might is expressed totally in Hebrew, so the New Testament states it as mind and strength. This is the language of devotion. God does not demand mere outward obedience to a law, but the heartfelt love and commitment of the whole person. (notes from here)

When I think about devotion, I can't help but think of Olivia Newton-John singing Hopelessly Devoted to You in Grease. I know, I know...REALLY, did she just go down that road?!? Comparing Sandy's adolescent infatuation with Danny to how we are commanded to love the Lord? Yes, I'm afraid I did...but, all joking put aside, we really are to be consumed with God and a good picture of that is how a young lover is utterly consumed with this new emotion.

My notes from Sunday's class...God is the ultimate fact that defines and gives reason to every other fact. Nothing can be properly understood without knowing the character and existence of God. He has created us in such a way that His world reveals Him. Because of this, it is un-natural for us NOT to be talking about Him ALL. THE. TIME. Your job as a parent is to give your child awe of something other than himself. A human being who does not live in awe of God is a profoundly disadvantaged human. Our lifestyle has to be in a place where we're slowing down to discover, notice, and talk about the awe of God with your children. Busy schedules do not allow for this recognition. Children will acquire a sense of awe (of something) from somewhere, if not from us. This sense of awe should be something that naturally flows from us so that our children are immersed in it, from the time they are born.

And then, back to the Bible...I bet this might have been one of those verses where you expected him to start...

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

Not only are we as parents to be consumed with awe of God, so that our children see it in us, but God clearly wants the children involved and taught of this awe. And, this is not a teaching "from an arm's length" kind of thing. It seems so often parents feel like they have to "hold back" or "hold out" on their kids until they've made some sort of decision to follow Christ, or worse, until the parents see evidence of a decision. But really, let's be honest here, don't we all make that decision EVERY. SINGLE. DAY? With the presence of sin in our lives, we are all battling this every minute of every day, and those are the moments when we need this awe of God the most.

Something is going to influence our children, and if we're waiting around for them to be old enough to understand, or waiting for this magical moment when they decide to follow, we've wasted some of the most valuable time God has given us in teaching them... by example.

Yeah... by example.

Now, I'm not discrediting time of instruction, family worship, etc. But, if we only invite God at our times when we sit still and quiet and listen (NOT FUN for little kids, HELLO!), or when we are disciplining, God doesn't really seem like someone to be in awe of. He doesn't dwell only on His judgement and curses in the Bible. The main thread of the Bible focuses on His mercy in sending His Son. Now, my 2 year old can't fully grasp that concept yet. But she can understand when I tell her that the moth she is fascinated by and consumed with watching was created by God...that He designed their wings so that they could fly and gave them their colors so that could hide to stay safe and isn't He just magnificent to have designed all of this?

And no, she won't grasp all of that (although I'm constantly amazed!), but in that moment, what has taken place is that she now associates God as being Creator of moths (along with all the other cool bugs), and that is pretty awesome to her. Not only that, but Mom was pretty excited about God and how He designed this... So next time we talk about God, she remembers the moth and Mom's awe and she's receptive. Now she might also remember Mom saying, "You disobeyed and God says when you disobey, Mommy has to discipline you." But, there has to be both...and as her mind matures she will understand more and more this wonder of mercy and forgiveness...or she will tune it out because...there goes Mom preaching about God again.

So...what does all of this have to do with a list of a thousand gifts on Thankful Thursday?


These gifts that I am noticing, experiencing, anticipating... this sense of awe... can be lived out and shared with my daughter, though she is not yet 3 years old. Not just CAN they, but God has commanded it.

This is one of my absolute favorite hymns.

Let children hear the mighty deeds
which God performed of old;
Which in our younger years we saw,
And which our fathers told.

He bids us make his glories known,
His works of power and grace;
And we'll convey His wonders down
Through every rising race.

Our lips shall tell them to our sons,
And they again to theirs;
That generations yet unborn
May teach them to their heirs.

Thus shall they learn in God alone
Their hope securely stands
That they may ne'er forget His works,
But practice His commands.


Tuesday Tips: To wholesale or not...

A big thank you to those that responded to my questions in this post about whether or not you think your Costco membership is worth it. I really appreciated your feedback and found it quite helpful. I ended up going to Costco with my husband (who kept my daughter entertained and fed with samples!!) and wrote down just about everything that I thought we might buy there, along with the price of each item. After some food and playtime at Chick-Fil-A, we headed to Aldi where I did the same thing (you'd think I'd have these prices memorized since I go there at least once a week, but they fluctuate and I wanted to be certain). So, for the past week, in all my spare time (which I've actually had more of since I'm still supposed to be resting...ahem), I've been plugging all these numbers into a chart to figure out what was cheapest and where. What a project, let me tell you! I ended up with 4 pages, single spaced, with 1 line for each item. The findings were surprising, because Costco is cheaper on things that I didn't expect them to be and visa versa with Aldi.

One of the main things I have realized is that grocery prices really differ all over the country, so this list is probably not going to be helpful to someone living in a different location. We all have different stores available to us and other variables that cause our prices to fluctuate. So -- my list may not be accurate for your area, just as I discovered that some of the things you all said in your comments were not true for me here. Also, a lot of pricing has to do with what items you are "brand loyal" to -- I am brand loyal on very few items, and our family has been satisfied with the Aldi brand of most things. I realize this is a personal choice for everyone, so again, something that we have to figure out for ourselves and our individual budgets. I will put an asterisk(*) beside the items that I AM brand loyal to. :-)

Some of the big ticket items that are by far cheaper at Costco:

ink cartridges*
dog food*

Of course, these items come in a larger quantity, thus making them MORE expensive, but the outcome is actually much cheaper. So...we just have to figure out how to fit a big chunk into the budget and enjoy the wiggle room later...or save up...

Costco sends out store coupons each month that are good for most of the month and you can buy multiple items (there is a limit) with each coupon. These are the ONLY coupons they accept. Just looking at this month's coupons, it seems that there would be significant savings on:

cereal bars
spaghetti sauce
some cleaning supplies

I was surprised at how long the list of items that I regularly purchase that would be cheaper at Costco actually was. My budget is not such that I will be able to purchase all of these at Costco each time we run out, but hopefully I can buy a few things each shopping trip. I make most of our bread (rolls, bagels, french bread included), and I was surprised to find that some of my baking ingredients are about 1/2 the price at Costco!!

ground beef (if not on sale somewhere else)
ground turkey (here's hoping the salmonella outbreak is over...)
fresh spinach
dishwashing detergent* (Finish is the only brand that gets my dishes clean.)
trash bags
yeast (less than 1/2 of what I've been paying!!!)
vanilla (1/2 of what I've been paying)
cooking spray
lemon juice
bread flour
peanut butter
parmesan cheese

Some of the things that I was expecting Costco to be cheaper on and they were not were:

milk (Aldi still wins)
bread/tortillas (brand names compared with Aldi brands)
paper towels and toilet paper (comparing Kirkland brand with Aldi brands)
tea bags (comparing brand names with Aldi brands)
Frozen Chicken Breasts
(comparing brand names with Aldi brands)
crackers/snacks (comparing brand names with Aldi brands)
diapers (comparing Kirkland brand with Aldi brand)

SO...that is the overview of my (rather extensive) list and discovery. I'm looking forward to shopping at Costco and hopefully splurging to try some of the fun stuff when I'm able to do so. We are also planning to purchase gas there, as they seem to be about $0.05/gal cheaper on a regular basis.

I still plan to coupon on a smaller scale, as I still think I can do better than Costco on some of the cleaning supplies and Health/Beauty products. Many items I get for free or very cheap with coupons, so that will be better than Costco pricing...assuming I can still put in the time required.

For any of you locals, if you want to see the whole list, let me know and I'll e-mail it to you (if you can make sense of my system).

linking up at Women Living Well

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Monday Musings: They who matter most...

"Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also and he praises her."
Proverbs 31:28

Last week, I finished reading an eBook about Proverbs 31. You can get a copy of the book for free here. The book is good, but I was particularly struck by the meditations on the last few verses.

This verse (28) in particular..."who is praising her? it's not the people in the PTA, her church Bible study group, local newspaper, co-workers, or neighborhood association. It is her children... Arising and blessing their mother is not just about the 'thank you' but about them arising and living honorable, noble, God-fearing lives. This fruit is evidence of a mother's hard work. This is a mother's true reward."

Too often, we get distracted from what is our primary calling as wives/mothers, because there are so many {good} opportunities in our daily lives. But, when it gets right down to it, if our husbands and children are not first and foremost {after God, of course}, then we are not fulfilling our Biblical calling.

In Sally Clarkson's post here, she says,

"One of the great accomplishments and most fulfilling purposes and work of a godly woman is to become a conductor of all that is good, true, and beautiful in the minds, souls, and lives of her children... It is not about curriculum, it is about life and investment, and mentoring, and joy. We dance to His truth and leading in front of our children and they become familiar with the ways and values of the Master Artist as we celebrate Him in our homes, and they in turn dance the steps in their own lives."

And, then also, verse 30 of Proverbs 31:

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

This was the verse of the week for the card that we keep on the windowsill above the kitchen sink, so I read it a LOT last week, and then I read Courtney's thoughts about it in the eBook...

"The woman who fears the Lord will have a God consciousness. She will be aware of God's presence in her home at all times. She will work tirelessly and sacrificially to create a home that is filled with peace, joy, and comfort. This woman loves the Lord and desires to please him. She serves her husband and children because of her higher desire to please the Lord."

If that's not inspiration, I don't know what is. But, in case you're still lacking, here's a tribute to a godly woman who truly loved her husband and family. She is a stranger to me, but after reading her daughter's tribute to her, I aspire to be like her.

"You have received so much love - share it with others. Love others the way that God has loved you, with tenderness."
~Mother Theresa


Checking in on her toys...

Christopher Robin takes a bath (and pony tags along)

tea & beans...

bit of a traffic situation here, you might say...

if only doll clothes came in custom lengths...

might have a bit of a problem with those shoes. :)

I don't even know what to say...

what's cookin?


Thankful Thursday: Continuing gifts...

Gifts #40-57:
- my husband's kindness, even in my sharpness
- the ability to feel hunger
- sunshine after many days of clouds
- chapstick administered by my little 'fashionista'
- friends to share treats with
- an all-together day with my favorite two
- watching him melt when she is particularly cute
- his tenderness with us, his two girls
- his care and concern for me
- her little dance and giggle 
- a spirit of repentance in a young heart
- His peace even in storms
- 'Delight yourself in the Lord...' (Psalm 37)
- 'He has blessed us in the Beloved' (Ephesians 1)
- riches lavished upon us (Ephesians 1)
- yummy smelling soap and a cloth made with love for doing our dishes
- waking up to sunshine (and a husband who let me sleep in!)
- his gentle kiss on my forehead.

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Breakfast Quiche

I've been planning to share this recipe with you for several weeks, and I'm finally getting around to posting it. Some time ago, I signed up for a special offer to receive a cookbook in the mail with recipes from Jiffy (the baking mix company). There are actually quite a few good recipes in this little booklet, and can still be used even if you make your own baking mix (or purchase a brand OTHER than Jiffy...like me).

Breakfast Quiche (printable version)

1/2 cup buttermilk biscuit or baking mix
1 cup cooked ham, diced or bacon, crumbled
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp. onion flakes
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9" pie plate.
Mix together ham or bacon, cheese and onion flakes, and layer into prepared pan. Blend baking mix, milk, pepper, salt, and eggs. Pour blended mixture into pan. Bake 45-50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

It's delish! I've made it with sausage, also.

So, fast forward and I have a whole bag of spinach that needs to be used ASAP due to an abundance of salad in my house over the last couple of weeks. I was looking around online today to find a crust-less quiche recipe and found this one that looked promising. As I was cooking the spinach, I decided to modify the recipe a bit and combine it with the Jiffy recipe to make this:

So, here's my recipe for this:

Spinach-Bacon Quiche

1 tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 (10oz) package fresh spinach, washed
5 eggs
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup baking mix
2 cups milk
8 slices turkey bacon

In a large pan, melt butter and saute onion until translucent but not brown. Add spinach and cook over low heat until wilted. Chop bacon into small pieces and fry, or cook and then crumble. In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, baking mix, milk, salt, and pepper. In 2qt. baking dish (greased), combine spinach/onion mixture, cheese, and bacon.

Pour egg mixture over spinach mixture.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Enjoy!

linking up at Women Living Well Wednesdays

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Tuesday Tips: DIY Coasters

Before I get started on this post...here's how we spent a rainy afternoon:
C was making play-doh muffins, and I was cleaning out my coupon binder for the new year.  It was a good time! :-)

One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was probably one of the least expensive, but there was time and love put into it which makes it very special.  And, it's a super-cute gift!!

THESE are my new coasters!  Are they not adorable?  I love them and it makes me happy, every time I look at them.

It gets even better...my {new} sister-in-law MADE them!!!  She made a set for my mom too, and I have to admit I was a little hopeful after mom had opened hers and I was handed a small, square gift with some weight to it...

Aren't the colors great?  She knows I love bright colors and these look so nice in my family room with the yellow walls and denim couches.

The underside has felt and looks like this...

Okay...ready for the how-to?  This was originally found on pinterest {of course!} and it's 4x4 tiles from Home Depot ($0.16 ea), Scrapbook paper, Mod Podge for adhering, clear spray paint for sealing (she did 3 coats, I think), and felt pads glued to the bottom.

Can you imagine the possibilities for these?!?  You could make a set of coasters for every season, every holiday, and think of all the gifts!  You could have coordinating coasters for every room in your house...  I really could go on and on....

Thanks, Rachel, for a great gift and an exciting blog post! :-)

linking up at Women Living Well Wednesdays

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Crunching Numbers...

This is my current facebook status:

Costco Shoppers: What things do you save the most on by purchasing at Costco vs. another store? Do you feel like your Costco membership saves you money as well as time? I'm in the midst of crunching numbers...Aldi + couponing vs. Costco...

I'm currently working on a price list to compare prices on items I regularly buy... I normally shop at Aldi, filling in at Walmart or Bi-Lo for items that Aldi doesn't carry. When I have time I try to use coupons matched with sales at grocery and drug stores to save on some food items, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. Couponing requires a LOT of time, and I'm wondering about scaling back. So, I'm looking into joining Costco. It seems that with the coupons that they send out (the only ones they accept), they might be cheaper on SOME items... I'm also factoring in the membership fee, and the savings on gas.

I'll report back once I finish this looooong list to see what conclusions I come to... In the meantime, I welcome any feedback regarding warehouse stores vs couponing, etc.


Reading Goals for 2012

**Note: I just realized I forgot to include one of my newest discoveries, The Meaning of Marriage...perhaps I can fit that in somewhere...

I'm finally getting around to posting some reading goals for this new year, and I'll just say upfront that I may end up adding to or taking away from this list. I'm trying not to be too ambitious, in order to allow room for some new things I will discover and will want to read. In addition to this list are the ongoing studies that I am participating in with other groups. I will list those at the end. Please share any books that you have read recently ...I'm always on the lookout.

January: finish The Prodigal God and 1000 Gifts

February: finish A Praying Life and Creative Home Organizer

March: Give Them Grace and Building Her Home

April: The Ministry of Motherhood and Loving the Little Years

May: Homemaking and Comforts From the Cross

June: The Power of Prayer in a Believer's Life and Organized Simplicity

July: Same Kind of Different as Me and Sacred Parenting

August: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and A Shelter in the Time of Storm

September: One Day and Real Marriage

October: Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands and The Happiness Project

November: Though the Darkness Hide Thee and Better Off

December: up for grabs....like I have time to read in December!!

It's an ambitious list for sure. But, I had to start somewhere, and this seemed like a good place. We'll see what happens.

I will also be involved in the following studies with groups:
Lies Women Believe (due to a scheduling change I will be finishing this study on my own)
GMG Ephesians Study (online study)
Shepherding a Child's Heart (SS class at church)
Women's Ministry in the Local Church (with the WLT at church)

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Thankful Thursday: Starting the New Year...

Ever since I started reading Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts, I've been keeping my own journal of things I'm thankful for, but it's been very sporadic and inconsistent.  I was thrilled to read this post on her blog and find the January list for the Joy Dare in 2012.  This will be my guide for actually listing at least 1000 things this year that I am truly thankful for.  3 things each day.  The part about this that makes it even more exciting is this is done so that you can photograph your thankfulness as well.  I love how Ann's posts include photos, and hope to include some on mine as well.  Since I'm a little behind in getting this up, I have almost 2 weeks worth of thanks and pictures, so bear with the long post this time.  

Gifts...  #1-15
- organization; cleanliness; the gift of loving others passionately
- the sun reflecting off of the deck, making the dining room glow
- breakfast for dinner
- "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness..."
- "Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified"
- "Isn't He wonderful?"
- old handmade doilies from my Great Aunt; new handmade doilies for Christmas
- a blue glass basket from my brother as a wedding gift
- Scripture all around me, permeating my home
- this list of things for which to be thankful
- a clean, comfortable home, far more than I deserve

Gifts #16 - 39

- disposable diapers 
- leftover "Christmas Milk" after naptime
- the gift of gentleness, modeled to me by my own mother
- my husband gently cleaning up after me when I've been sick
- my mother caring for my precious little one 
- my daughter who is already modeling gentleness (1 Peter 3:4)
- watching the candle flickering
- showering...after not showering for 3+ days (a personal record!)
- the shadow of her hand in mine walking to the mailbox
- flowers from a friend
- clean, folded laundry in neat piles
- the end of the day, cuddling as a family, reading & praying
- watching her face eating lemons
- Chocolate Peanut Butter balls leftover from Christmas
- his arms gently around me
- light reflecting on yellow walls making all seem aglow
- the clean-ness of lemons
- discovering a book highlighted by a previous reader
- clouds heavy with snow (hopefully)
- warm fuzzy socks
- my precious girl snuggling close in the morning
- her small voice..."Isn't He wonderful, Isn't Jesus my Lord, wonderful?"
- heat blowing through my warm home

- her pens scratching away at the paper while she creates

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