Book Review and Giveaway: Fragrant Whiffs of Joy

Ladies of the world! I have a book to share with you! 

I have not only enjoyed the delightful, excellent, and sometimes hilarious chapters in this book. I have also cried. I have laughed. I have, as you can see by checking several blog posts ago, raced for my computer to pour out my heart on my blog. I am not only entertained. 

I am deeply blessed.

I am changed.

There is the normal everyday ~ in this book.

And there is the excruciating. The painful. The exciting. The delightful. 

There are things everyone needs to read. Because then you know you are not alone. We are together in this thing called life.

I already created an entire blog post on food. Meals. That sounds mundane. But really, it’s about the quiet, almost painful service we mothers pour out every day. Every single day. And how to God, this is a service of intense love. And He sees it.

I’m going to give you just a few quotes from this book yet…

In her chapter The Minister’s Wife, Dorcas wrote honestly of her own life, and at the end, brought us to this conclusion…

We would love to fix the world by distributing perfect solutions at arm’s length, but what people really need is for us to walk beside them until they figure life out for themselves.

So true. We may feel inadequate for each others’ deep pain. Questions. Life perplexities. Traumas. But the truth is, God gave us ~ each other. He knew we would need someone to walk alongside our hearts. So He provided that. <3

And lastly, in her chapter Generations of Fearless Women, we come to this freeing, oh-so freeing truth:

Rather than focusing on detailed parenting methods, we should all be seeking to be the best people possible –the bravest, the kindest, the most grateful and joyous and thoughtful.

Thank You, Jesus! I can do that! I can’t remember all the detailed parenting helps. But I can change and learn and grow more and more like my Father. That actually gave me much hope and joy.

And so I will leave you with these small snippets. 🙂 

(I want to make sure I mention that this is a story book. It’s not simply a “self help” book…it is full of stories of real life!)

I’m going to be giving away one of these books! To enter the drawing, please simply comment on this blog post. Or email me. Or contact me in any way! 

Also, to purchase Fragrant Whiffs of Joy, order the book from Dorcas Smucker at 31148 Substation Drive, Harrisburg, OR 97446. Books are $12 each plus $2 postage. Checks or PayPal accepted. (

Be blessed!


(Update: This give-away is now closed! We have a winner!)

Vitamin C Sip

My kids have been catching all kinds of stuff the past month. This last round, I decided to get crazy about this whole immune system thing! So besides slathering them with garlic salve, I made elderberry juice, and a fantastic immune boosting Vitamin C Sip, which shockingly, they loved.

Just a bit on baobab powder. It’s a weird ingredient that I didn’t know existed until I purchased Trim Healthy Table recently! But when I read up on it, I was amazed, and hastened to find some. I bought it from http:// Look how inexpensive it is! This is a superfood of all superfoods. It has more vitamin C in it, (besides a hundred other amazing vitamins and stuff) than about any other food on the planet. Yay!

Here it is…kid approved Vitamin C Sip.

Vitamin C Sip
Write a review
53 calories
17 g
0 g
0 g
1 g
0 g
974 g
37 g
4 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 53
Calories from Fat 3
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 37mg
Total Carbohydrates 17g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 4g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1-2 inches of peeled, fresh ginger root
  2. 1-2 c. water
  3. 1 heaping Tablespoon baobab powder
  4. 1/2 t. Bolivian stevia (to taste)
  5. 2 limes or lemons
  6. ice and water to fill four pint jars
  1. Blend the ginger and 1-2 c. of water. Don't blend it too long, as that can make the ginger fibers emulsify.
  2. Strain out the ginger.
  3. Add the baobab powder, stevia, and juice of the limes or lemons.
  4. Mix well.
  5. Pour even amounts into four 1 pint jars. Add ice and water to fill.
Adapted from Trim Healthy Table
Adapted from Trim Healthy Table

Maple Ice Cream Cookies

Someday when I am old, have lots of time, and a Joanna Gaines style kitchen, I am going to cook and bake all day long, create stunning, delicious, and healthy dishes, and be a serious recipe blogger. That’s my empty-nester dream. 🙂 🙂 

For now, I’ll be happy to get a recipe up every month. Haha! 🙂 

This one really needs to be out there, so I’m going to do this, if it kills me. 🙂

I kinda’ stumbled on this as I went. And it’s so fun and yummy! With a little time, I will have a chocolate/vanilla version, a peanut butter/chocolate version, and let’s see….I really need to do a mint chocolate version to get a pop of color in there!

In other news, four out of my five kids have been sick the past 5 days. Some more than others. Bomani barely. Hazel ran a fever for days. All four have a cold. By yesterday, after missing church and all, I felt like a prisoner in a very dirty house. I was starting to unravel in a not-so-pretty fashion. This morning around 5:30, after feeding Talia between 5 and 8 times, and Hazel waking us up several times, I couldn’t sleep and just got up. Had some super quiet time. Felt that this onslaught of sickness is a bunch of arrows from the enemy, so I just praised God and said, hey, I’m not going to go into discouragement and frustration…God is good! He is awesome! He is power! Yes. And I got up after about 45 minutes of sleep after 6:30–in a much better frame of spirit to face the day. It was freezing outside, so cozy inside this morning! And I did school with the kids which always makes me feel better about myself. (haha!) And I got Lily’s chocolate chips yesterday after a very long dearth! So this morning I made those insanely incredible magic cookies. And peanut butter bars. And Briana Thomas’ happy harvest soup. And put off cleaning the house until tomorrow. So all in all…we are okay. 🙂 And always, God is good. 

Back to the Maple Ice Cream Cookies…

The original recipe asked for buttercream between the cookies. I knew that was waaaay too high fat for me and would make me feel nasty! I’m not doing keto, after all. So I whipped some cream, added dry gelatin as I whipped it, frosted it between the cookies, and said, how will this not totally ooze out when we try to eat them? So then I froze the cookies and ta-da! Ice cream!

(They are still high fat enough that I can’t just eat them one after another…although I may have anyway…)


Maple Ice Cream Cookies
Write a review
1889 calories
115 g
326 g
153 g
20 g
68 g
472 g
89 g
5 g
1 g
78 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1889
Calories from Fat 1325
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 153g
Saturated Fat 68g
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 14g
Monounsaturated Fat 64g
Cholesterol 326mg
Sodium 89mg
Total Carbohydrates 115g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 5g
Protein 20g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1-1/2 c. almond flour
  2. 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. Bolivian stevia (depends how sweet you want it! Just taste, remembering that it is less sweet after baking.)
  3. 6 T. softened butter
  4. 1 to 2 tsp. maple extract (depending on how mapley you want it!)
  5. 1 tsp. gelatin
  6. 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  7. 1 c. cream
  8. 1/2 to 1 tsp. maple extract
  9. 1/2 tsp. Bolivian stevia
  10. 1/2 tsp. gelatin
  1. Mix first six ingredients in a bowl with a spoon. It comes together quiet easily.
  2. Dip small balls of batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. This makes 24 cookies. Flatten them.
  3. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes--until the edges begin browning.
  4. Cool completely. I put them in the fridge so that they would be super cold before I filled them.
  5. Whip the cream, extract, and stevia. Toward the end of the whipping, dust the gelatin in as you whip the mixture.
  6. Fill the cookies with as much "ice cream" as you will want to have!
  7. Freeze.
Adapted from Joy Filled Eats
Adapted from Joy Filled Eats

Food and Love

I am going to be reviewing a new book for an amazing, renowned author. Today I started reading the manuscript, even though the hard copy is not yet finished printing. I got to chapter two. And I’m here in bed, supposed to be taking a desperately needed nap –crying.


Let’s back up.

I love cooking and baking. Ya probably know that. If my house is clean and quiet, and I have some time, my first thoughts are…what beautiful, delicious food could I make…? 

Craig likes this about me. And I love about him ~ that he loves my food. And it makes him happy. Win win!

But life comes crashing in…even for those of us who love the kitchen. 

Every day. You need to stay on top of food every day. Or it will come and bite you. Maybe not so much if you have one husband to take care of. But if you have any more mouths than that, food begins to subtly take a serious chunk out of your days. And really, even if it’s just you in the house! If you don’t bake and cook, you soon start to see your money going out the door and your nutrition going with it.

There are times when I honestly despair. 

And I’m pretty sure there are a lot of moms out there who feel just like me.

I just went to Costco! This should mean that I won’t need to grocery shop for a month! How is it that my kids think there is nothing in the house to eat?!!

Grocery shopping–the first step, is exhausting. I know that for many of us, it’s our ticket out of the house and often by ourselves. This is fun! Until you go to Aldi, fill your cart to the very top, touch each item again as you place it on the counter. Pack every small bit into large bags. Plan your next chiropractor visit as you heave them into your trunk. Pray your husband will be home to unload. He isn’t. So you unload. Then you stand there, in your unrecognizable kitchen, feeling too exhausted for words. Instead of passing out on the couch, you gently pull out every one of those 569 items and put them away. In their places. 

Then it’s dinnertime. And you still need to…cook.

And if you don’t bake something healthy, both you and your husband will cave at bedtime and eat store-bought cereal with the kids. But hey, at least the milk is raw…

It’s unending. Unrelenting. Food for the kids. Food for mom. Food for dad on the road. Baby is starting to eat food? Food for baby. 

And you care about nutrition. And you have a budget. And you are busy. Like, busy.

Today I was reminded, lovely friends, that food is love. 

It’s not throwing bread on the floor and saying, “get it when you’re hungry”. (Sort of what I do sometimes.) It’s nourishing those you love. It’s giving. It’s loving. 

It’s about relationship. Serving. Fun. Beauty. 

It’s so important.

Not in the way that makes you feel like you fail. No. It’s important in the way that ~ whatever you do, know that it is important. Know that it is love.

If it is chicken nuggets from Aldi, outside, with a bowl of ketchup to share, it’s love. It’s what you can do that day, and it’s love.

If you spend three hours making a beautiful dessert for your husband that will also nourish his health, that is love. 

If you buy ice cream and carefully dip it into a large goblet, with a drizzle of caramel over the top, and take it to him as he sighs with relaxation on the couch, that’s love.

It’s not about feeling guilt when you give your kids bagels. From the store. It’s not spending all day in the kitchen. That’s not what this is about.

It’s knowing that whatever you do, big or small…it’s enough, and it’s good, and it’s love.

Moms, you are amazing. You work so hard to love your family with food. The next time you chug-chug-chug up to the counter at the grocery store, know that God is watching. He sees your love. And He is saying thank you. You are loving My children. 



After the Storm of Stuff.

Like, for instance, the night I returned from my Ohio trip, Talia started with a fever. The fever was high and lasted a solid two days, coming back after breaking on the third day to last that afternoon and night. I was already tired, but this totally finished me. I was ready to take her to see our pediatrician when she suddenly was well! Then the rash broke out and I knew it was Roseola. There is no rash until after the fever leaves. So then you’re like…ohhhhh. Okay.

The next week both Enzo and Talia came down with a nasty cold. Enzo had fever with it. I was up night after night with him because he was congested and couldn’t sleep well! Talia slept better but was still sick. I was ready to throw back my head and sleep for a solid week.

Instead, I planned, struggled, danced, and executed a really fun cooking class on Wednesday! I baked 9 small, black bean chocolate cakes in the shape of a small bowl from my mom. Since I only had one ovenproof bowl in this size, I baked them separately. I turned the oven on at 10:00 am and turned it off after 9:00 pm. Haha! Okay, yes…we did break for a chiropractor run in the afternoon.

The reason for the bowl cakes was this:

Princess cakes! For cooking class, the girls whipped up frosting, colored it, and decorated their own cakes. It was terribly fun. I drank coffee and was buzzed until about midnight that night. But we got ‘er done.

I’m laughing a bit here. Because I’m doing this thing of making myself sound amazing. And really, I’m not. Haha! I don’t pack my husband lunches, even though he wants to eat healthy and leaves the house at like 5:00 or so in the morning to beat traffic on his way to the North Fort Worth roofing job. I don’t do much in the way of homeschool right now. My kids are learning, but that’s because of other things, not me. I watch Call the Midwife instead of reading inspirational books. I buy socks for my hundred kids on Amazon because I’m too (lazy) tired to go shop the deals in-store. I buy huge bagels at Costco to fill up my kids tummies.

Okay? Just keeping things in perspective. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

But the last weeks really have been crazy. Without even going places. Just here at home. To seal this point, let me tell you this: I haven’t spray-painted anything the entire two weeks.

Oh. Except for my lemongrass planter. Haha! I did do that, I guess. It was an old chicken feeder and works perfectly!


Honestly, spiritually this has not been an amazing two weeks. Day after day I would sleep as late as possible, the bigger kids getting up whenever they woke up, and even Enzo climbing out of his crib and coming out with them. I would haul into my day or sit at my desk in a haze, trying to pray. I started feeling this guilt. “God, I’m sorry…I haven’t been…close to You…” and I’d feel bad so I would pray even less. Then one day I realized it: I’m the loser here! Not God! I mean, He wants to be close to me and walk with me…He really longs to! But I’m the one who loses when I walk alone. So that was cool. No guilt. No shame. Just…comin’ back. <3

That’s about what life has been here. Stay tuned in the next month for a fun give-away! (hint: you can read it.)

And maybe just a few more pics here…

Peace on your week! <3


Pictures of The Safari East

I had a lot of fun flying with only one baby girl! The trip to Ohio was fast. I had very little time in airports. But the trip home was a lot more fun! I had hours in both Cleveland and Houston airports. I love airports. Here is a tidbit…okay, more than a tidbit…but a piece I wrote while on the plane. Read at your own risk. 🙂 🙁 I don’t like rambling about myself all the time, so this felt a little much. But hey, take it or leave it. 🙂

I am a TCK. I love airports. I love flying. Yes, I may be simply doing a two-hour stretch from OH to TX, but who knows? Maybe I’ll deplane to breathe in the thick, spicy air of Bangkok. Or enter the aura of excitement that is Nairobi. Maybe it will be Taipei. Who knows? I may find myself in Paris, tasting delectable pastries.

It’s called being a TCK. Exploring Houston Airport…fun! It’s the reason Craig and I eat ethnic food on every date. And the date where we inadvertently ended up in a non ethnic restaurant…waste of money. 😕😄 The world says, “Come…explore me! Find the treasures! Find my people!”

There was a reason I was looking for the perfect bag for this trip. And it went beyond just “Hey, I need a cool bag!” I have flown around the world starting at age 16, and in time, perfected my style.

Back in 1996, when the weight limit for suitcases was still 50 lbs, I would pack like it was my last flight. Every suitcase was maxed out. And every carry-on was maxed out as well. What can I say? I was young, with a strong back! After several flights of this manner through the years, I said, “Hey, I’m gonna let someone else bring my shampoo and deodorant!” And I went minimalistic.

On a trip to El Salvador I procured a brown, leather backpack. And this became my carry-on. Nothing to pull beyond me. Just pop it onto my back and away I go! I did carry a fresh pineapple home from El Salvador in that backpack though. 🤣 I mean, seriously, who but a TCK would carry a five pound pineapple through airports? Cuz maybe my friends want a taste of the real deal. I cut that thing up at work and shared it. 😇😄

So it took me a bit to truly learn my style of travel. But that brown backpack went around the world with me for years. I still have it. But it’s Bomani’s now. I had his name painted on it in Thailand. My first diaper bag.

One of my favorite adventures was the time my friend Beth and I and her cousin traveled across Eastern Europe by train. We survived mostly on Swiss chocolate and some sort of summer sausage. We also dehydrated ourselves because of the state of the bathrooms. They were beyond anything I had ever encountered in all my life. Possibly had something to do with the movement of the train. I have had numerous nightmares in the years since that trip, where the toilet in my dreams is definitely from the Eastern European train. That adventure…it was the real deal.

Ah. Traveling with my baby girl brings back the years when I was footloose. A whole year without an international trip was too long. I love the stage of life I am in now. But I do look forward to the time when Craig and I can once again travel the world.

The real hero of this entire trip, however, was this man:

(This was when he stopped at Old Navy in Fort Worth for my perfect bag for the trip!)

He stayed with the 99 kids I left behind. He worked from home. He took care of them. And he cleaned the house and did the laundry before I got back. I was blown away! He is amazing. Amen.

Below, calling hours on Thursday afternoon.

Dad and Mary picked me up from the airport, and we stayed together in Jake and Mary’s basement, which used to be my Grandma’s house. Many memories there! We spent Thursday afternoon and into the evening at the calling hours, with family. Friday all day was spent at the funeral and with family until about 8:00. It was a really good time of reconnecting with my mom’s family whom I had not seen in many years! 

On our way to the funeral.

That service was an incredible blessing in so many ways. Wow. 

Some of Aunt Mary’s art. She was extremely creative, gifted, and smart. In many ways. 

Talia was a sweetie and did really well. She did get tired of everyone wanting to talk with her and hold her. Then when they would reach out to touch her, she would just bat their hand away. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Haha! She really like the kids there though. She missed her brothers and sisters!

Saturday around 11:00 Dads dropped me off at the airport again. I had a lot of fun traveling home! I am sore, however. Next time I WILL take a stroller! Talia got really heavy! 🙂

Houston airport blew my mind. It is hands down the most amazing airport I have encountered in the US!

And as we neared Dallas Fort Worth…

We pray for the city we live in.
We pray that our sins be forgiven.
Do your will right here, as in heaven!
Father, we call on your Name…

I love Texas. Just do. 

Home again! 🙂

The welcoming committee! <3

Gifts from their grandma! They were so thrilled. 

And that brings us back to normal life. 🙂



Silence. And The Safari East.

First of all, Silence.

I am hearing silence.

Like I told a friend in Ohio, I treasure my dull moments. Quiet moments. Silence.

Talia ran a fever during the night and this morning was still pink-cheeked. So I stayed home from church with her. I miss church when I can’t go, but ahhh…the silence! It pours into my soul a peace I cannot get in the hubbub. Just…can’t. There is peace in the hubbub. But it’s a different one from this one. 🙂 

So every now and again, God gives me this gift of silence. 

I had an amazing trip to Ohio for my sweet Aunt Mary’s funeral. It was incredible in so many ways. One I’m going to mention right here is how good it was for me to get away and look at my life from a distance. My stomach never hurt on this trip, even though I had planes to catch, a baby on my hip, and was socializing and relating to many people for two days straight. Parts of three, actually.

Ya know what stresses my gut? My kids do. And so something needs to change. In me. God has grace and blessing and all the wisdom and knowledge I need for these 5 kids 7 years and under. There is no need for a chronic issue with gut pain. Nope. I ain’t standing for it. 🙂 And it was so good to clearly see this! 

I feel like I’m starting into this post in a…strange way. But hey, whatever. I’m just writing as I’m thinking. Processing. 🙂 


I didn’t know my Aunt Mary well. I don’t think I had been to Ohio since mom died 5 years ago. I just remember Mary as quiet, sweet, and extremely talented. I knew she struggled with depression over the years. I knew she was an amazing grandma to my cousins. That was about it.

There is a verse that speaks of certain people who have died. And it says that having passed on, they speak. That is Mary. She is speaking possibly even louder in her death than she did in her life. I had no idea of the journey she had been on in the past 10 years. But God wanted me to go to Ohio, so He made it happen. He worked it out. He nudged us forward. I’m so grateful.

There is a lot I don’t know about Mary’s story. I’m very excited that I will be receiving a CD of Mary recording her story. I feel that in many ways, we have been walking the same road…my Aunt Mary and I. 

Aunt Mary was 79 years old at the time of her death last week. 79. Let that soak into your heart. 

It does not matter what age you are, what denomination or church you are a part of, when you passionately and persistently pursue the Father with all of your heart, He will be found by you.

In the past 10 years, Mary received much healing for pain and rejection of her past. She kept reaching for more. More freedom. More of Jesus. And she found it. She and her husband made decisions that kept them on this path, despite knowing that these decisions would be unpopular by others in their life. In their 70s, people. I think that is what blew my mind. I am not too old to change. To let go. To find freedom. Ever!

Being dead, she speaks. 

There are those of us who need to hear her story. We believe we are trapped. We believe we can’t do it. We believe that we “are okay”…except for those times we crash, and painfully crawl out of our hole, just to believe we “are okay” again. I’m not trying to place anything on anyone. I’m just crying out to you–have hope. Know that always, always there is hope. Jesus never allows even one sparrow to fall without His love and careful watch. 

Aunt Mary’s funeral was unlike any funeral I have ever been a part of. 

Earlier in the week, I faced a deep grief. My mom’s death 5 years ago filled my heart in a fresh way and I wanted to crumble under it. Mom and her three sisters had a great friendship. And yeah, I just knew what it was like to lose mom. I fully expected the funeral to be hard. Deep mourning.

Instead, it was a worship experience. Truth poured into the room to each of us. Hope shone forth for every heart who would accept it. I wanted to dance and lift my hands to God! It was an incredible service. At one point, the Pastor spoke a blessing on every person in the room who, like Mary, is on that journey of searching for more of God. More freedom. More truth. That was an amazing, Spirit-filled moment for me. 

I want to share this. I want to bless you. Keep pressing forward. Don’t stop. Don’t lose faith. There is more. The Holy Spirit wants to blow your world apart! He wants to break off those weights and set them aside. Freedom. Keep walking.

I’m going to share pictures of my trip in a separate post. This post is for Aunt Mary. And it’s for all those who, like her, pick up their insatiable hunger for more, and run with it. 

I will end with one picture. This is Daisy and Hazel singing their hearts out to music. 

“Who can stop the Lord Almighty?”


Dancing in Heaven

Good-bye Aunt Mary.  I can see you and mom dancing and singing together… <3

I love this picture. The sisters even laughed the same way! 

Lord Jesus, let Heaven come.



I haven’t posted for weeks. I know this…it’s in the back of my mind. But life happened. We are re-decorating and painting our living room. Bits of school with three first graders. Homeschool Co-op began, in which I am heading up a cooking class. 

And the hundred kids are still here. Grocery gobbling. Growing. Needing direction. Love.

So there you have it.

Oh yeah, a husband too. 🙂 🙂 🙂 (I hear the blog posts screaming…he shouldn’t come last! Haha! He doesn’t.) 

And last weekend I was sick with a stomach virus a bunch of us caught after co-op. This weekend Craig landed in bed with the same thing. It was about as bad to have him sick as be sick myself. I really, really need the break he gives me on the weekend. So now I’m needing to lean on the Lord not to head into the week on E…


Life is actually good. 🙂 We are blessed to have a roofing job again! And Craig still has plenty of work doing social media shoots and video for Ulrich Barns. Talia keeps being the sweetest thing e-ver.


I was going to post a recipe I made the other day. I actually took it down as I made it. 🙂 

And I have a living room update post in my head.

But today grief struck. And I find myself frozen in space and time. 

My mom’s sister Mary has encephalitis and a few other complications and things, and long story short, in about a week’s time, has been moved to hospice. I wasn’t quite prepared for the grief that came in a wave today. Missing mom. So much. 

Mom and her three sisters had a special bond. Even after they were all moms with grown kids, they would still meet from four different states for a day together. The three sisters came to visit mom when she was in her last months. They are special.

Thanks for listening to my rambles tonight. 🙂

The week ahead is looking veeery full, so hopefully after the rush of the next few days I will be able to post some pictures and updates! 


The Heart of Him

What is the heart of our Father, God?

In the Old Testament, do we see His heart?

In the New Testament, do we see His heart?

Do we really know Him? His heart? 

Or do we see the Word as rules and “how you should live”?

I don’t believe that is the heart of the Father. 

Read the Word, crying out at the same time, to see and know His heart. 

Are we so intimately known by Him, and knowing Him that we follow Him…not something He said?

Today, God is saying…

Learn to know Me. As you read My Word, ask to see My heart. As you study it, find Me. Find My heart.