Campin’ Cookin’ Dutch Oven Blueberry French Toast

The last time we went camping my husband J had all kinds of fancy recipe ideas. He asked for my thoughts. I told him he didn’t want to know my thoughts. When probed for further explanation I told him I thought it was all too complicated. If I were doing the planning and cooking I would stick with simple camping classics. After discussing for a bit I told him he could do whatever he wanted but I wouldn’t be helping. I truly was not trying be manipulative! I wanted him to get to do whatever he wanted with the cooking but I knew I wouldn’t be very helpful given the direction he was going.

In the end he did all the cooking and if I’m being total honest it was the best outdoor food I’ve ever tasted. His meals were my favorite part of the trip. For real.

After posting the tasty goodness on Instagram I have had recipe requests so let me start by sharing the first thing he made on that trip which was the Dutch Oven Blueberry French Toast. This recipe and the first photo are from Fresh Off the Grid. We just made minor modifications.


Now first off you will need a 4 quart dutch oven. We inherited our cast iron dutch oven from a family member. This trip was our first time using it. We cook almost exclusively with cast iron at home and outdoors so this dutch oven has been a great addition to our cast iron collection.


Here are the ingredients you will need.

16 slices of sourdough bread

2 cup of milk

6 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

4 tablespoons cinnamon

2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries

Jeremy measures out all the ingredients in advance and labels it for easy packing and easy cooking!

And here are the instructions


Start your fire and give it time to go down to coals. While waiting cut out a piece of parchment paper to serve as a liner inside a 10-inch Dutch oven.

Tear the bread (we used sourdough) into pieces chunks about 2 inches. Place in the bread pieces inside dutch oven on top of the parchment paper.

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the eggs, then stir in salt, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Once those ingredients are fully incorporated, stir in the milk.

Now slowly drizzle the mixture over the bread.

Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to lightly toss the bread until each piece is evenly coated. Sprinkle the blueberries on top and mix gently.

Cover the dutch oven and set it over the coals then add coals on top of the lid. You should have tools that came with your dutch oven to allow you to move both the hot coals and the dutch oven.

 Bake for about 30 minutes.

Scoop out the individual servings and top with butter and maple or whipped cream.

My photo may not be Pinterest worthy but trust me this breakfast dish is divine! Try it next time you camp. If you get creative and modify it for at home let me know how it worked out and send me your recipe!

By |2024-03-29T18:12:09+00:00March 28, 2024|Simple Living, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Inspiring Mom Darci Davidson

The first time I visited the Greenhouse Bus Mercantile it felt like I had found a secret treasure out in the small town of Blanchester Ohio.

The building is weathered with decades of character and when you walk in the shop is full of organic goodness.

There is kombucha on tap, organic teas, micro-greens, grains, meat, honey, and it just keeps going.

The natural light pours in as you go down steps and find books, jewelry, and boutique items.

Then turn to the apothecary room full of essential oils. It is a wonderland for your senses and that’s only the first floor!

Upstairs is the coffee bar and every nook and cranny is full of authentic old farmhouse charm.

The drinks are something you would expect to find at a trendy coffee shop in Chicago, not in Blanchester.

The Greenhouse Bus has a very Chip and Joanna Gaines vibe, but it’s its own place. I had to know— how did something this endearing end up tucked away seemingly sheltered from the chaos of urban life. Thankfully I got to meet co-owner Darci Davidson who filled me in a little and agreed to meet up for an interview.

What a treat! Not only would I have an excuse to return to my new favorite coffee shop, but I would also get an inside scoop about its origin story.

We met up at Greenhouse Bus and I sat on the comfy couch with Darci note pad in hand ready to record all the details. First I took a sip of my creamy sweet Matcha. At this point I had convinced myself that ordering multiple drinks is research for this article. I set the mug down and pushed record on the app on my phone. Darci began opening up about all that transpired to get to this place and the story begins in none other than the small town of Blanchester.

Her childhood was fairly conventional. She and her siblings enjoyed a typical country upbringing.

There was trauma though and when she hit the teen years her stable life suddenly became less secure. She encountered multiple hardships including her parents’ divorce. Not long after that the unimaginable happened, the day before Darci’s 16th birthday she witnessed the death of her brother who was killed in a dirt bike accident. He was a senior in high school. The pain of it all was so unbearable. Darci says “I didn’t know how to process things or who to process it with”. She began drinking and partying as a way to escape. She recounted the days that she would self sabotage not realizing what damage she was causing herself or why she was doing it.

After high school Darci met Dwayne Davidson (who is now her husband). They fell in love and began living together.

To many they were an all  American success story, but they were solely focused on themselves and their own careers.  Darci explained “We lived together 6 years building up my clientele as a hairstylist and he was building up his remodeling business. We spent our free time partying and traveling. In all of our brokenness we were just trying to make the relationship and businesses work.” 

All the while, without realizing it, Darci did anything and everything to distance herself from her hometown, Blanchester. The memories it evoked were agonizing. She numbed herself with the predictable “work-party-travel”  pattern. That was life.

Work. Party. Travel. Repeat.

There was no thought of marriage, or children, or a mission beyond their own personal success.

Their story dramatically changes though  in 2007 when they discovered Jesus, were born again, and committed their lives to Him! Dwayne was immediately convicted about their lifestyle and wanted to marry Darci and make her his wife.

Three short months later they eloped in Hawaii and shortly after that had 5 kids in 6 years! Dwayne also had a daughter when he was very young whom Darci adopted.  “I went from owning my own salon and doing my own thing, to all of the sudden being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom to all these kids and literally not even knowing how to cook” Darci chuckled.

Then in 2015 Dwayne and Darci felt called to start a house church.

“We were four years into doing house church before we even knew what house church was!” Darci said.  “So we were just obeying. We were opening up our home and having church. We would let a few people know and told them they could invite whoever they want.” 

At times Darci and Dwayne felt like they had no idea what they were doing, but they felt deep in their hearts that’s what they were supposed to do. It was obedience without having an explanation. They knew that they could trust the Lord’s leading.

As God was moving in their church and in their lives Darci began to respond to a specific prompting from the Lord. She felt that He was wanting to take them back—all the way back—and exposed hurts in them that they had never dealt with. She remembers it all well, “We went through two years of personal healing and those were some intense years. God healed lots of trauma. He revealed why we were running from this town [Blanchester]. Once we cracked that open things would just flow. I would have dreams or a memory that I can’t believe I forgot and the Lord was slowly, in his time, revealing each thing. He was just chiseling away.” Darci says “After that healing season I had realized that I had shoved that part of my life behind and it was time to fully confront it.” 

Prayer, praise, worship, and writing were some of the ways that the Lord continued to heal the broken places.

Then in 2021 Darci had a dream that she was working at a health food store in Blanchester. She opened up to Dwayne about the dream. She admitted that it was silly- “I would never ever open a store in Blanchester. That would be the very last place I would consider. I don’t know why it was in Blanchester in my dream!” Her husband who has a lot of experience as an entrepreneur agreed that it was definitely not where you would want to do business. It didn’t make any logical sense.

Then one night Darci was driving home through Blanchester and while at a stop sign she had a spiritual encounter and the Lord gave her a burden for the city. She was flooded with conviction and emotion. She began praying out loud. She prayed over the houses and the people of Blanchester as tears streamed down her face. He brought complete healing and freedom in that moment so that she could minister to the very city that she tried so hard to forget.

A few months later God would take it all a step further. They were simply wanting to buy some fresh tomatoes when they met Brad and Jessica Tucker who had JUST opened the Greenhouse Bus Mercantile in Blanchester. When they visited this farmers market style story it had only been open a week. They immediately connected with the Tuckers whose ministries aligned so perfectly with theirs. Both families knew this must be a divine appointment.

Brad and Jessica asked them to be vendors of the Greenhouse Bus Mercantile and so the Davidsons did that for one month and then it transpired to a full blown partnership. The Greenhouse Bus Mercantile has been open for two years.

The coffee shop upstairs came shortly after and now they are on the brink of opening a restaurant, Harvester Farm to Table, across the street. 

I was blown away by the whole story! I felt a sense of awe about what God had done in the Davidson’s life. It’s no wonder I felt like the Greenhouse Bus Mercantile was such a special place.  Darci smiled as she reflected on everything she had just shared. Then she spoke softly,

“That night that I drove the streets and prayed in 2021—this place is the answer to a prayer that I prayed. And I didn’t know that God would answer it like this. So sometimes it wrecks me. I’ll sit in the coffee shop and look out in the streets and I’ll cry. He turned that pain into a burden and that’s what this whole thing is about.”

By |2024-03-18T15:12:19+00:00March 18, 2024|Inspiring Moms, Uncategorized|1 Comment

Darci Davidson Children’s Books and More

My next interview for the Inspiring Moms series is with Darci Davidson.

I can’t wait to share her testimony of how God brought her from pain and heartache to salvation and restoration! But first I want to highlight some of her creative endeavors because believe me, they are worth checking out!

Darci is the author of two children’s books. She wrote “But for Now, Stay Here (for little boys and their parents)” and “Don’t Give Up with Lee the Fox“.

Darci first began writing during an intense season of healing. At first it was just as her own form of therapy. Darci is an introvert by nature so sharing in a group doesn’t always come easily, but when she would write things down the words seemed to flow so easily and help everything to make sense. Then one day her writing went beyond just her personal journal entries.

It was one of those ordinary moments when her little boy Beau, climbed up onto her lap and said with his sweet little southern twang- “Momma I’m tired” and she snuggled with him a while. As she held him a whole poem flowed through her and she wrote the words which would later be published in her book “But for Now, Stay Here“. When she initially wrote the poem she never intended to take it beyond her usual journal entries  but after reading it out loud to her husband he said “That’s a children’s book!”. From there Darci took the steps to transform the words God gave her into something that could encourage other parents and “But for Now, Stay Here was born.

Her next book “Don’t Give Up with Lee the Fox” is my daughter Elle’s personal favorite!

It’s a story about a boy who is determined to tame a fox… and it doesn’t go quite the way he thought it would. It is a sweet TRUE story that teaches kids to turn to prayer and trust in God.

The illustrations are delightful. Both books make a wonderful addition to your children’s collections. They are both hard cover and available on Amazon. You can also find them in the brick in mortar store “The Green House Bus Mercantile“.

The Green House Bus Mercantile is an absolutely extraordinary health food store which Darci and her husband are co-owners.

While they do carry such a wide range of organic and local foods, it’s so much more than that. They have coffee, tea, kombucha, essential oils, and even some local art, jewelry, and books. They even host worship nights!

It’s an amazing place. I have not stopped blabbing about the Greenhouse Bus since my first visit there. Next week when I share Darci’s story I will have a lot more to say. This is a little teaser though. So if you live local or you are every anywhere near Cincinnati go to the Greenhouse Bus Mercantile and also definitely check out these two children’s books for your family or any little ones you know.

By |2024-03-15T14:14:20+00:00March 15, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Lego Table

I am a sentimental person. I can’t help but get a little teary eyed when my children outgrow things that they cherished or we had really sweet memories attached to.

Maybe you are the same way. I came across a kids John Deere hard hat that I know doesn’t get played with anymore, but my father-in-law who passed away was a big John Deere tractor guy and I just wasn’t ready to donate it. Other than a few really special keepsakes I will let things go when the time is right.

I am not emotional about every little thing. I can toss or donate items enthusiastically when I know it’s a cheap plastic thing that no one ever cared about, but when it’s homemade it really gets me in the feels.

For example J made a wooden “horse” to hold my aunt’s old saddle for Ezie’s 3 little pigs birthday party and it is full of memories.



It took up quite a bit of space and the kids had outgrown it, but I still couldn’t let it go. You can see it in the background of this photo, right next to the restroom in our basement. Perfect place for it, ha ha.

Then I got a message from SJ’s deaf school wanting to borrow it for their farm theme. They had done this in the past and I would just get it back afterwards. This time I asked if they had room to store it and would like to keep the saddle and they said yes! That meant the world to me. If they have thrown it out since then it’s fine. I know items don’t last forever, but to know that it was going to make more deaf kids smile and be used as a tool to teach speech–well it doesn’t get much better than that.

The latest conundrum was the lego table.

I’ve blogged about this lego table that Jeremy designed and made himself. The kids have spent COUNTLESS hours playing at this table. All four of them.

I have so many precious memories involving legos. Then last year Z got an electric drum set and we knew the only spot for it was the place where the lego table currently sat.

No one really played with legos much anymore and either the table was getting smaller or the kids were getting bigger, but I wasn’t ready to face reality. This was another toughie. It was time to move on. We needed to say goodbye to the lego table.

Then I thought of some of our close friends with two little kids that are like family to us. I asked if we could give them all 50 pounds of legos and the table, but only if they wanted it and if it was the right fit for their family. It was Christmas time and they thought it would be perfect for their little ones! That settled it. The lego table had been scribbled on and was definitely showing years of love, so J sanded it down and restored it to its original glory. Then SJ inscribed the kids names and we added a scripture verse on the side.

On Christmas day we got photos and a text message about how much joy the Lego table brought. Our friends continue to give us updates about how much everyone loves the Lego table.

I have replied with all sincerity that really it was a gift to us that they took that Lego table.

Z was the biggest Lego fan of all.

The boy whose Christmas wish list used to be full of Lego sets and his rainy days were spent creating with bricks now has a Christmas wish list full of instruments and his rainy days are spent composing music.

Goodness, he’s signing up for dual credit college courses this week and in a month he’ll get his license and then apply for his first job!

The term bitter sweet may be cliche, but everyone knows exactly what you mean when you say it. I am rejoicing, but I’m also grieving. Mostly rejoicing though because I never wanted them to stay little forever.

Those memories are comforting and sweet, that’s all. Sappy as it may be, seeing my kids’ old clothes on other kids that we passed them along to, or knowing a favorite item is getting more use really warms my heart and makes parting with this season a whole lot easier. Like I said, it’s a gift.

By |2024-02-01T02:34:58+00:00January 31, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Frugal Family Ham

First the recipe and then I’ll share how I make this extremely cost effective!

Instant ham broccoli cheddar soup (inspired by Panera- YUM)

All of my photos of the soup are terrible and do not look appetizing so here is one from The Chunky Chef whose soup recipe inspired mine.


  • 2 tablespoons butter Divided
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2-3 garlic cloves Minced
  • 3 cups stock (I’ve used chicken or my own home made ham broth)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 4 cups chopped fresh broccoli florets (with stems) You can use frozen if you wish, the pot may take a little longer to come to pressure.
  • 1 cup of chopped celery (totally optional, but if I have some on hand I add it as a filler)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups of cubed cooked ham


  • Place the Instant Pot on the saute function. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, chopped onions, and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent and fragrant.
  • Add the broth, broccoli, celery, salt, pepper, red pepper and garlic powder to taste to the pot. Stir to combine.
  • Place the lid on the Instant Pot and seal. Cook for 4 minutes on high pressure.
  • While the soup cooks, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small bowl. Add the flour to the butter and stir.
  • When the pot indicates it has finished, quick release the steam and place it on warm.
  • Open the pot and add the heavy whipping cream, ham, and shredded cheddar to the pot.
  • Scoop out a couple of tablespoons of the soup and add it to the bowl with the melted butter and flour. Stir and add the mixture back to the pot. This will thicken up the soup.
  • Place the Instant Pot on saute for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.
  • Serve in bowls.


I recently bought ham at full price and I hated to do it, but I really wanted this special soup recipe that I make because it’s been cold here. I told myself Next time spiral ham is on sale/clearance I am going to buy extra and freeze them as I have done in the past.

Ham usually drops under a dollar a pound after Christmas and Easter. I saw it for 89 cents at Aldi today and I stayed true to my words and bought four!

That was $85 worth of ham for $33. Almost  50 dollar savings!

Cha ching!

Here is why I get excited about ham. Everyone in my family will eat it. I can by one ten pound ham for under 10 bucks and make a nice dinner, plus have leftovers for my broccoli cheddar soup (it’s a terrible photo, but it’s delicious), and also to add to eggs or lunch.

So for $10 I can have a good portion of three meals for a family of six. In today’s economy I will shout that deal from the roof tops! I also have ham broth in my freezer. I don’t always make broth out of the carcass, but when I do then I feel like I am really maximizing my dollars. If you don’t have an extra freezer, just buy one ham it’s still a great deal.  I know this isn’t the healthiest recipe of all time, but sometimes feeding my family a home cooked meal is the best I can do. Maybe someday we’ll be all organic, but until then I am not going to worry about it and in case you’re struggling I hope this gives you permission too.

I can’t tell you exactly when and where the deals are, but keep your eyes peeled and next time you spot ham marked down under a dollar a pound snag one (or four). Heat it up according to package directions. Cut up the leftovers and then circle back to this recipe for my family’s FAVORITE soup.

By |2024-01-28T03:53:03+00:00January 28, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Double Recipe Chicken Pot Pie

I am not a food blogger and don’t have a “jump to recipe” button so I’ll post the recipe first!


2 boxes of pie crust (I just get the generic or whatever is on sale)

1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 tbs)

1 cup of chopped onion

2/3 cup of flour

1 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of pepper

1/2 tsp of paprika

1 tsp of garlic powder

3.5 cups of chicken broth (28 fluid ounces)

1 cup of milk (or cream)

5 cups of shredded chicken

4 cups of frozen mixed vegetables thawed

First preheat oven two 425 and prepare pie crusts as directed in two 9 inch glass pie pans.

Next in a stock pot melt butter over medium heat.

After butter is melted add onion and cook 2 minutes stirring frequently.

Stir in flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder until well blended.

Gradually add broth and milk stirring until bubbly and thick.

Now add the chicken and veggies.

Stir everything together and remove from heat.

Spoon half of the mixture in on pie crust and add the rest to the other pie crust.

Top the pies with the second crust. Seal it by pinching the edges or pressing a fork down all the way around.

Cut about 5 slits into the tops of each pie crust. I like making a star shape, but you can get however creative you like with the tops of pies.

Put your pies in the middle rack of the oven and cook them for 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. To prevent excessive browning you can add aluminum foil to the edge of the crust in the second half of the baking. The easiest way to do this tear off a sheet of aluminum foil that is about the size of your pie and cut a hole (about 6 inches in diameter) in the middle.

After you finish baking remove the foil and let cool for 5 minutes.

Bon apetite!

Now for the back story.

It truly seems like yesterday I had toddlers and today I have teens. Not quite, but with a family of six that includes boys that 14 years old and 9 years old boy along with two girls ages 12 and 6 year, the appetites are increasing DAILY and it is hard to keep up. I LOVE chicken pot pie. Not only is my favorite comfort food, but it’s one of the few foods that all four of my kids like. The problem is one pie made in a 9 inch pie pan is only going to give you six full size slices. That’s not going to cover it for my family! I looked for a chicken pot pie casserole recipe and searched for something that might accommodate a large family. However everything I tried ended up being a flop and couldn’t compare to the chicken pot pie I know and love. So last night I just doubled my favorite recipe and made TWO pies. It was so yummy. Everyone was full. No conniving or bribing happened. That’s a win in my book. So I posted my pies on Instagram and immediately got recipe requests.

That’s what inspired me to do this full blog post. I based my recipe off of this one. This along with everything I make is on my Pinterest page. Give me a follow @MessyMom. Take note that the original recipe does not have paprika or garlic powder and of course the increments are split in half because it’s a recipe for one pie. We ended up having a lot left over which is great! I love having leftovers. On Sundays I usually have what I call a “free for all” and I try to liquidate all of the things that are in the left over food from the week before so that the fridge is cleared out for my grocery shopping on Monday. It works well since Sundays are busy for us. Another thing I love having leftovers for is that they make easy lunches! Leftovers are my friend, but one that I was seeing less and less of as my children have started inhaling adult portions. I’m still working on tweaking our meals to accommodate the needs, but this chicken pot pie is one put on rotation, especially in winter.

By |2024-01-23T03:16:29+00:00January 17, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

40 Day Sugar Fast Starting January 2nd 2024

I am super pumped (and nervous, I’m not going to lie) about participating and hosting “The 40 Day Sugar Fast Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation”.

The book that we will be basing this off of is by Wendy Speake and you can get at Hobby Lobby, Amazon, or many other book stores. I have had some questions come up about the fast. I may not be an expert, but I have done it multiple times before and am ready to start this year off right. So here is a little quick Q&A to give you an idea of what this is all about.

When does the fast begin? 

Tuesday January 2nd! My Facebook event page says “6:00 am” and I know some people were worried there would be an online meet up at that time, but NO! I have that day off so I will be asleep at 6:00 am, but I had to put a time on the page so that’s what I picked.

Who can join? 

My only two criteria to join the Messy Mom fasting group is to be on Facebook (if you want to see updates and join discussions) and you have to be a female because I want us to be comfortable to share anything even if it’s related to–ya know–girl stuff.

The big group with thousands of participants hosted by author Wendy Speake is online and you can sign up here, you don’t have to be a woman or have Facebook for that one. But if you want something a little more intimate you can join my group on Facebook on my Messy Mom page. Just submit a request to join this private group and commit to eating no sugar and diving deeper in prayer and God’s word from January 2nd- February 10th.

How does the Messy Mom online group work? 

I will post daily scriptures and encouragement on the event page and I would love for any participants to do the same. Whether it’s prayer requests, breakthroughs, or even just looking for accountability that is what the event page is for.

What is biblical fasting? 

Fasting is intentionally reducing or eliminating something for a certain timeframe for the purpose of obeying God and focusing on Him. The Bible instructs us to fast. Jesus did it and also told us to.


What kind of sugar should we avoid? 

In the book “The 40 Day Sugar Fast” the guidelines are to say no to all sugary sweet treats for forty days “Nothing made with sugar. No soda. No ice cream, donuts, pancakes, or peanut M&Ms. Nothing containing sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.” Most importantly it’s your own personal commitment. Whatever the Lord is guiding you to do you should do, but then write it down, share with the group, and draw a firm line. If you don’t it can be all too easy to slide off of the wagon and quit altogether.

Now that we are ready to begin remember to turn to God anytime you feel that old habit of turning to sugar. Let’s allow God to transform us as we take these intentional steps to draw closer to him. I can’t wait to see all the fruit that comes from this!

By |2024-01-06T03:01:33+00:00January 1, 2024|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Z’s Sweet 16

First of all, how is it that I have a 16 year old. I could be getting really sappy and emotional about that, but I will wait until at least 17  for that blog post, 18 if we’re lucky. For now let’s just talk about the party. 16 is a big one. One of the biggest milestone birthdays of all actually and we knew he wasn’t get a car so I wanted to do something else significant. We decided that even though we had just thrown a launch party for my book and it was a huge undertaking we still needed to do something equally as big for Z, so we threw him a surprise party. It was…well, let’s just say there are two sides to every story. There is the glass half empty and the glass half full right?

I could talk about how it ended up being super hot even though September is usually nice Ohio. This heat made the cake melt into a giant glob

and the balloons popped throughout the entire party like bombs that would startle everyone.

I could mention that Z’s friends had one job and that was to stall until 12:30.

These are the kids that are always lingering around, hanging out, leaving places late and they are never prompt when it comes to being home on time, but on this day there was nothing that they could think of and needed to bring Z home early. In their defense I missed the warning text because I was frantically trying to get things setup. So Z showed up before we were ready and it was extremely anticlimactic, but he hadn’t seen everyone that was at the party, he just knew there was a party. So I blind folded him and made him sit in the front yard while everyone lined up for the “surprise”.

I originally wanted to offer refreshing bottled water to the guest, but the teens could bring their own soda if they chose. My husband scoffed at that idea informing me “Natalie I don’t care if you and Z don’t drink soda. You can’t throw a party for teenagers without soda.” He was right, so I conceded and bought plenty of canned sodas for which I offered a recycling bin. Were the cans recycled? No. Well, some of them were, but then melted cake was thrown on top of it so I gave up on that idea.

The party was packed with teenagers. over 20 of Z’s closest (ha ha) friends showed up and let me tell you– things got crazy.

Thankfully not in an immoral way, it wasn’t THAT kind of party, but I had to intervene to prevent multiple injuries from happening. For example our trampoline cannot handle a dozen people! I digress.

While I may have felt like I was failing as the hostess of the whole thing, the reality was the kids all had a blast. Z felt loved and said it was the best day of his life. He even told me that he was surprised. I’ve lived long enough to not let all the other stuff get to me. If Z was happy then I am definitely happy.

How many teenagers get to have an epic water balloon, squirt gun, zip line, knock down drag out, hose squirting everywhere water fight for their birthday? I am thankful for the way it all turned out and Z said it was the “best birthday ever” so I can’t argue with that!

By |2024-02-05T22:28:37+00:00September 25, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Launch Party

For those who have read “Hope at the Threshold” or follow Messy Mom you know I love parties and party planning. My book included details about my anniversary party/vow renewal from 2010, the Green Eggs and Ham party from 2012, the super hero party and One Happy camper in 2013, the Fun to Bee one theme party from 2016, and SJ’s butterfly birthday and  graduation party in 2018. So getting to throw another party, this time for the book, was a dream come true.

The week of the book launch party I sent an invite to my friend in Texas. I had zero expectations for her to come, I was just wanting to include her in my happy news. She told me she would be there in spirit unless she flew spirit then she may be there in person… which SHE DID!

She flew in from Texas very last minute and she really made everything come together perfectly. She taught the girls to sew and make these special decorations.

They had a blast. She also taught me how to do a balloon garland (way easier than I thought) and she made pennant banners.

They were so special because some of the material was actually from the kids old clothes. She asked me if I had any fabric or old clothing that could be used. I explained to her about my stash of cleaning rags, but they are really old unwearable items that I cut up to use around the house. I donate stuff that is in decent shape so I truly didn’t think she would be able to use any of. I was wrong and was amazed at how she was able to turn scraps of rags into something so sweet and sentimental. It’s perfect for me because I love reusing and repurposing things!

For the party I rented a pavilion at the local park which is right across the street from the library.

How perfect is that? It also has a little community library bin of it’s own. J’s brother and sister in law bought a book to put in the community library. I pray that the right person will find it and be encouraged! One of the things I really wanted to make this party extra special was customized cookies. My friend from Third Day Baking Co made the sweetest and most beautiful cookies for the occasion.

Some where cochlear implant theme and my favorite ones were a copy of the book cover. Then my brother and sister in law showed up with even more custom cookies which we really needed because we ran out of the ones I purchased. There were cookies and snacks galore! I had some sparkling cider left over from Christmas—don’t worry it wasn’t expired—and the kids kept wanting to open it but I told them I was saving it for my book launch and we finally got to pop that non alcoholic bubbly!

The best part was the people. The weather was all over the place that day but that didn’t seem to affect attendance. I had so many friends and family show up. There were people from church, people from out of state (such a fun surprise), people from our connections through SJ’s deaf school.

People communicating in sign language, babies, kids running around, some guests even brought their dog with them, which I loved!


Then there were the thoughtful hope themed homemade gifts and cards.

My  heart was bursting from the love. I also had guests sign my personal copy of “Hope at the Threshold” which is a tradition where I have a book that goes along with the theme of the party and the guests sign it. That was a full circle moment that meant a lot to me.

As far as the big question, how did the launch go and how are sales? Well, on the one hand it’s going great. I’ve had such awesome feedback from everyone who has read it and the word is already beginning to spread causing more and more interest. On the other hand my book still isn’t listed on Amazon. It shows it’s listed but that it is out of stock. Everyone thinks it’s sold out because my sales are so awesome. I wish that were the case, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to sell any on Amazon yet. This is annoying because a lot of people want to buy from Amazon to save on shipping of course! I would too. I am working hard to resolve this issue. Until then as I’ve mention on social media and the blog I would be happy to mail out copies to anyone who would like to read my memoir. The cost in full is $20 and you can pay through Venmo, Zelle, or Apple Pay. I have sent out a lot of books this way and those shipments have all been successful! Feel free to message me on social media or leave a comment and I’ll get in touch with you. The book is also available on Barnes and, BAM! Books-A-Million, or Walmart. For those who have already bought a book (or many of you bought bookS plural, which is amazing) I thank you. I am so grateful! You guys are the best!!! I mean it.

Writing a book and publishing it has been such hard work. I feel like I reach one obstacle after another. When will it end? People have complemented me on the achievement and commented about what an accomplishment this is. I would love to say “You are too kind, thank you.” but instead I feel like Bleeker in the movie Juno. Juno says “you’re, like, the coolest person I’ve ever met, and you don’t even have to try

…” and Bleeker replies “I try really hard actually”. That’s me! I try really hard actually and I am learning as I go. I still feel like this is a soft launch and the book isn’t quite officially out yet, but this is definitely a great start. I am not going to let this hiccup with Amazon to get in my way. More to come my friends. More to come!

By |2023-09-14T02:04:10+00:00September 14, 2023|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Hope at the Threshold

This is it! The moment that millions of little moments have led up to. My memoir, Hope at the Threshold is now available online for preorder and will officially launch this Saturday August 26th! Hope at the Threshold is the story of how God brought us through the valley of welfare, hearing loss, marriage struggles, unstable housing, and so much more. It’s a pretty short book—only 21 chapters— so it takes about 5 hours to read depending on your pace. I would recommend having a box of tissues nearby for some parts, but don’t worry it’s actually a happy book with a redemptive ending.

If you would like a copy you can preorder on Amazon or Barnes and Noble online. You place your order now and the day the book goes live it will take payment and ship to you automatically.

Or if you want an autographed copy shoot me an email or message. I can send you a book in the mail for $20.

I am going to be sharing A LOT of details about the book in the next couple of weeks. There will be some fun “behind the scenes” info and bonus content. But for now I just want to thank everyone in my life who has shown me abounding love and support through this process.

I have so many friends who have believed in me and cheered me on every step of the way. I also had two editors and they were so gracious to help me and teach me along the way. I will always be grateful for these two wonderful ladies.

I have to thank my family of course, especially my mom. They have pushed me even when I felt like giving up. I compare writing a book to the scene from the movie Tangled where Rapuzel leaves the tower. She is bouncing around one moment feeling the grass between her toes dancing and twirling with joy, excited for her new adventure. Then the next scene she is crying and defeated, feeling like she should have never left the tower and that she made a mistake. She gleefully shouts with proud astonishment “I can’t believe I did this” then hear expression changes to dread and concern and she says “I can’t believe I did this” with a regretful tone. It starts at 1:20 mark of this video.

I soooo relate to that!

I can’t even describe the feeling of finishing a book and being able to hold it in your hands. It’s incredibly exhilarating to say the least.

You feel like dancing and twirling like Rapunzel when she feels grass for the first time. Then imposture syndrome kicks in. And you fear the negative responses or being misunderstood. It leaves you wanting to take it all back because it’s too risky. However you know in your heart your story was never meant to stay locked in the tower forever. That’s how it felt for me and as scary as it is, it’s time to share the book with the world.

I do I have one last person to thank and that is my husband.

He has appreciated and cultivated my creative spirit since I was a teenager. He has been by my side every step of this process and he has had to do so much in terms of formatting the book, designing the cover, giving me feedback, allowing me to make mistakes and learn as I go. He also has had to give me permission, not because he is a controlling husband, but because it’s OUR story. I wanted to be sure he approved of me sharing his story too. He is a very private introverted person so the whole idea of being extremely raw and vulnerable did not come easily. For the record, it didn’t come easily to me either! What we knew though is by sharing the ugly parts along with the sweet ones God would be glorified. We believe He is going to use this testimony and that is 100% our prayer. That’s why we were able to tell about the pain and show God’s faithfulness. Because He is in all of it. And I believe he can take a “messy memoir” and turn into a masterpiece that points others to His goodness.


By |2023-08-19T12:41:14+00:00August 19, 2023|Uncategorized|1 Comment
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