Finding beauty when it’s right in front of me

Finding beauty when it's front in front of me

This tree is like hundreds of trees in Northwest Arkansas. I love the beautiful red.


We have beautiful autumn seasons here in Northwest Arkansas. Pictures of gorgeous fall colors in a recruitment brochure are what first attracted me to my alma mater, John Brown University. The display of splendid color is something I look forward to every year.

This year, I noticed when the colors first started changing but kept thinking “wow, they aren’t changing much” or “I’ll really go leaf hunting when it’s in full peak” or “it will actually be gorgeous when it’s full peak.”

Well, peak has come and gone. I started bemoaning this fact with the idea that I had missed all the beauty. Well, God has a way of smacking me upside the head with truth and he did it this time.

The beauty was always there. It was slow, but it was powerful. I spent so much time waiting for the all leaves to change that I didn’t notice most of them going through the changing process in front of my eyes.

I was so caught up in my desire to experience full beauty and what I perceived as complete magnificence that I didn’t notice I was surrounded by it. I focused so much on deciding to be content and even happy with a certain outcome that it never occurred to me to choose contentment at any other time. Continue Reading →

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Asian Spiced Apple Meatloaf (recipe)

Asian Spiced Apple Meatloaf

Meatloaf no longer has to be the traditional beef mix with green peppers and ketchup. Don’t get me wrong, we love that traditional variety. But as I’ve already shown you here at Jamie’s Thots with the All-Day Breakfast Sausage, we’re not afraid to try new ideas.  Continue Reading →

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Rediscovering a thankful spirit (not a Thanksgiving post)

Rediscovering a thankful spirit


I always try to be thankful for what I have. I say thank you when people help me, including wait staff, medical professionals, and anyone else. It’s just polite, you know?

What I feel like I’ve lost in recent months is a thankful spirit. A true thankful spirit. Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself. I’ve not talked about it much on my blog, but this year has been a myriad of health challenges that have changed my life for what might be forever. They’ve certainly changed my attitude and mindset for forever.

Almost out of habit, I try to keep in mind the things in life that are going right. When I’ve gotten discouraged I try to think “well at least I am not dealing with so and so” or “at least I have so and so.” It feels robotic. It feels forced. I don’t feel truly thankful.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it? I’ve tried to sort it out in my own head and heart but writing is the best way for me to sort things out, the best way for me to even pray. I share this publicly both as accountability and also in hopes that it helps someone else.

To be honest, I’m almost annoyed that this is coming around Thanksgiving time. Everyone is doing the “30 days of Thankful” posts on Facebook and part of me wants to force myself to join in. It feels like one more thing I have to manage and commit to so I thought I’d would give it a big one-time shot and try to embrace some of the ideas here.

What I feel like God is showing me is that thankfulness is a spirit, not a thought or even an action. Those thoughts and actions stem from the thankful spirit, the spirit I feel like I’m losing. The thoughts and actions are fed by the spirit but it also happens in reverse. That’s why I think it’s important to maintain the “thank yous” even when I don’t feel overjoyed with life.

I’ve been so caught up in the day-to-day of my illness including the fears, the doubts, the anger. I’m trying to be thankful that we now know answers for what I have and are treating it, but to be honest I’m not there yet. I’m still frustrated at the process and yes, even a little angry that this is happening to me. I’m not bitter, just really going through that stage of grief right now. I’m also fearful of more illness and more pain.

That said, I need to take time to recognize and yes, be thankful for, all that has happened in this storm. I’m about to go “stream of consciousness” on you … you’ve been warned!  Continue Reading →

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Easy Winter Blueberry Rhubarb Pie

Blueberry Rhubarb Pie Hero


I love hearing stories of when my husband grew up eating great food from his grandma. We make Grandma Susan’s bread every winter and he frequently talks about her persimmon bread and her rhubarb pie.

He also loves pretty much anything blueberry so whenever I can find a dessert or salad or … anything with blueberry, I get it for him to try.

He recently pondered the idea of a blueberry rhubarb pie after we tried a blueberry rhubarb preserves, which even I agree was divine. I did a little research and learned that both fruits are more spring/summer fruits but I wasn’t deterred. It’s rare he asks for desserts so I decided to accept the challenge.  Continue Reading →

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A “tail” of two #SmithKitties

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyCatMyMuse #CollectiveBias


It’s no secret we love our pets. Our cats were our first pets and that makes them have a special place in my heart. Yes, the #SmithKitties even have their own social media hashtag. I would say that our cats continuously teach me how to love how someone needs to be loved.

Both John and I think it’s important to take care of our pets both for their healthy and safety, and our sanity. After all, a happy cat is a less destructive cat! We make sure they have the right kind of nutrition such as Purina Muse® Natural Cat Food and we make sure to provide the play stimulation they need. That’s pretty much where the similarity ends! Continue Reading →

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Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake #EffortlessPies

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EffortlessPies#CollectiveBias


Traditional pumpkin pies are delicious, but let’s face it: they are time-consuming and messy to make, and they aren’t the healthiest dessert option. What’s more, they pretty much come in one flavor. I recently discovered the limited edition Oikos® Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt from Dannon® that makes pumpkin pies a healthier, easier to make, and more versatile option.

Seriously, add a couple ingredients such as the ready-made Keebler® Ready Crust® Mini Graham Cracker Pie Crust and Reddi-wip® topping, and you have a quick and delicious assortment of pumpkin pies that each person can easily customize.


Those who know how much I love lattes should not be surprised that I chose to make Pumpkin Spice Latte cheesecake pies. Not a fan of the coffee undertones? Easy. Just leave out the ground espresso. You can also use other Dannon® Greek Yogurt products such as Light & Fit® Greek Apple Pie Yogurt. Visit this website to find other #EffortlessPies recipes. Continue Reading →

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All-Day Breakfast Sausage Meatloaf Recipe

Breakfast meatloaf Hero 1


A few weeks ago, John asked for meatloaf but decided to let me pick which one. We researched Pinterest together and I tried to gauge his reactions to different styles. I ended up making two meatloaves: one a cheeseburger meatloaf and this Breakfast Meatloaf. It was the first time I’ve made meatloaf with pork in it and we both really liked it!

One of the things we love to do is find a recipe we like then find ways to alter the recipe to make it our own. I decided that the cheeseburger meatloaf couldn’t be altered much (although I’m still curious what it would be like with pickles instead of green peppers). The breakfast meatloaf opened up so many opportunities that I had fun finding alternatives.  Continue Reading →

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Experience Captivating Heart this October. You will not regret it

Church top

This is the chapel at Village on the Creeks in Rogers. It’s a quiet chapel used for prayer and sometimes weddings.

About a year ago, I attended the leadership retreat for the Captivating Heart Women’s Retreat. We were preparing the final details of the 2014 retreat and it was also a chance for the leadership team to come closer together in Christ.

I can’t really adequately describe how passionate I am about the Captivating Heart message-how God sees us, how my identity as a woman reflects God’s eternal beauty. It’s where I first came to the idea of being enough.

Once I better understood who I am in God (and who I am not), I started to better understand the idea of worshiping God. It makes perfect sense, really. If I better understand who I am and who God is, it will be a more fulfilling relationship.

Back to this leadership retreat. This group of women are the only people with whom I feel I am completely free to explore who God is and how I relate to him. There are no “shoulds” with this group. It was during this leadership retreat that God really blessed me with the idea that I can worship him in any way that I can and want. But also that I should worship him with all that I have.  Continue Reading →

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Cutting away the fat and reconnecting with my bloggy tribe at #AWBU

It might sound cliche to say that "no conference is possible without the sponsors" but at Arkansas Women Bloggers University, that is so much the truth. I wanted to start this blog out by saying thank you to all the organizers and sponsors you see detailed in the graphic above. These companies did so much more than donate money and get their logo on a program. They interacted with us. They educated us. They believe in us. I've never been to a conference before where I can name all the sponsors and can identify at least one person from each sponsor company with whom I had a meaningful reaction during that conference. This is different. I connected in some way with each one of these sponsors. That tells me how truly invested they are. No, I wasn't asked to say any of this.

It might sound cliche to say “no conference is possible without the sponsors” but at Arkansas Women Bloggers University, it’s the truth. I wanted to start this blog out by saying thank you to all the organizers and sponsors you see detailed in the graphic (courtesy Arkansas Women Bloggers) above. These companies did so much more than donate money to get their logo on a program. They interacted with us. Educated us. Believe in us. I’ve never been to a conference before where I recognize all the sponsors and have met their representative. AWBU is different. I connected in some way with each one of these sponsors. That tells me how truly invested they are.

Whew! Last weekend was a whirlwind. I completed my third summer trip and this time it was to one of my favorite conferences: Arkansas Women Bloggers University.

AWBU is an annual blogger conference where Arkansas Women Bloggers members (and sister organization members) enjoy a weekend of learning, fun and fellowship. The sessions are stellar and I always come away with new information and most of all, inspiration.

I took gobs of pictures but most were from a distance so they are blurry. Never fear, collages to the rescue! Let’s take a look at the highlights:  Continue Reading →

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Our new go-to, no-boil lasagna recipe that is beyond delicious (and has egg)

This no-boil lasagna uses traditional noodles, eggs, cottage cheese, spaghetti or pizza sauce, mozz cheese, a grated cheese blend, hamburger and egg. Yes, egg.


Both John and I grew up with moms who made great lasagna and we’ve tried over the years to emulate those recipes, which were pretty similar. We recently decided to make lasagna and discovered I had accidentally purchased no-boil lasagna noodles and had to learn how to use them. I decided to loosely follow the recipe on the back with my own variations based on our usual lasagna recipe.

What came out was beyond amazing. The first time we made it, we just made enough for an 8×8 pan. We used an 18 ounce jar of Mario Batali pizza sauce (yes, pizza not pasta). It was rich and decadent! The second time we tried our other favorite sauce, Classico traditional tomato and basil. It was not as rich, but it was still delicious. We used two, 24 ounce jars and it made a 13×9 pan. Both brands are lower in sugar and filled with flavor compared to the cheaper brands.

The ingredient that surprised me was the egg. Lots of egg. I’ve always added grated cheese in the cottage cheese to thicken it, but never thought to use egg. I now use more than what is recommended and it’s great! I was going to write it all down then realized it would be perfect for my blog. I didn’t decide this until later so I didn’t take pictures during the production process like I normally do.

This recipe is for the 13×9 size pan. Basically cut it all in half if you want to make an 8×8 pan.

Decadent no-boil lasagna

Continue Reading →

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