Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Redeemed… a reminder

19th April 2012

“We are Easter people, living in a Good Friday world.” (Barbara Johnson)

Redeemed… is there a better message for the month of Easter?  I think not.  And each day that we get further away from Easter, we need to be reminded, as above, that we are Easter people, living in a Good Friday world.  I was lucky enough to receive a tangible reminder of this message from Dayspring, a beautiful makeup bag and wallet from their “Redeemed” collection.  What a sweet gift that arrived just in time for my birthday!

This makeup bag is made of oilcloth, and besides being gorgeous, it will be so functional.  I’m sure I’ll use the wallet daily, and the sweet message on the other side says “truly treasured”. Thanks, Dayspring, for the perfectly timed gifts for this Easter season and all year!  Anything in their Redeemed collection would make an amazing gift, and there are so many things to choose from. Head on over to Dayspring and see for yourself… the banner below will take you to a bunch of other reviews and some giveaways with GREAT odds of winning something for yourself! (I’m sending you over there with a dose of my good luck!! Go on!!)




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Choose rightly

29th March 2012

A thought that struck me this morning…
Some things we think are important, and some things are actually important.

Christ is important.
Family is important.
Friends are important.

Do not miss opportunities to choose rightly.

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Blog resurrection… What’s Cooking!

17th March 2012

My poor blog didn’t even remember me when I tried to log-in… that’s a bad sign isn’t it?

Well, I’m going to try to resurrect things here.  A few sweet friends have inspired me, and there are so many sweet/funny/delicious/memorable things I could be sharing… as much for our looking-back pleasure as for others to enjoy.  So here goes…

I’ll start with notable recipes, because there have a been a few lately.

  • This Rueben Braid was AMAZING.  My apologies to everyone who’s heard me rave about it in person, on Twitter or on Facebook.  But I cannot believe how easy it was, how impressive it looked, and how everyone in the family ate it.  Surely I’ll be making it often. (notes: I filled mine with turkey & swiss and a little Thousand Island dressing. Don’t skimp on the cheese.  Roll it out directly on your parchment or heavily flour your mat.  Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time transferring it. And it won’t rise much, but it will rise in the oven.)
  • I made these sweet Chocolate Strawberry Donuts for Valentine’s Day.  Delicious. This morning I used the same recipe with a French Vanilla Cake mix & mini chips (this morning’s treat) with a chocolate glaze… so yummy.  When you need a chocolate donut, though, this recipe cannot be beat. I think the coffee makes the flavor stand out more. YUM.  If you don’t have a donut pan and you like breakfast treats, it’s so worth having. And I was over-the-moon excited to find a cute heart-shaped donut pan at Target for $5.  WOOHOO!
  • Thin Mints… you might have seen on Facebook that January/February was super busy with Girl Scout cookies.  My sweet little Brownie sold 203 boxes initially (which “won” her a fleece roll-up blanket thingy – wooho! and yes, a tiny bit of sarcasm there…), and in the continued orders/booth sales, she boosted her total to 324 boxes.  Whew!  That is ALOT of boxes of cookies to deliver, to say nothing of the money-tracking for Mom. Oddly enough, I didn’t end up with quite as many boxes for myself as I did last year. And I’m down to only 2 boxes of Thin Mints already. Sadness.  But this week, I used two boxes in recipes that were really worthy of those precious cookies.  I made these melt-in-your-mouth Thin Mint Truffles as a little Spring Break treat for the teachers.  I made them last year for a MOPS mom who had just had a baby, and she loved them so much, she could hardly wait for Girl Scout cookie season to arrive so she could make them (note… I think, as a last resort, you could probably use Keebler Grasshopper cookies. But that wouldn’t be quite as special).  I also made these Thin Mint Ice Cream Cups (from the same awesome blog!) for our weekly Life Group. They were, of course, well-received.
  • I just wondered about the delicious Girl Scout Samoas cookies and how they’d work in a truffle… Lo and behold, the same amazing blogger made them here.  I’ll have to try them soon!

That’s enough for now… I promise I’ll be back with more little news and recipes soon.

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Bike-racing Beach Vacation

29th September 2011

In all our travels, we haven’t been to the beach in a couple years. So I was THRILLED to hear that Brian had found a bike race in Pensacola, FL. I warned him we would be kissing him good luck and waving him off while we relaxed at the pool and beach. He had a great weekend of racing (see all the fun details at, and we had a really great time playing.
I’ll let the pictures mostly speak for themselves. Our hotel (the Holiday Inn Resort in Pensacola Beach) was wonderful. We loved the lazy river, pool and hot tub, and the beach was steps away. Of course, the beach was wonderful, though we were scared out of the water often by jellyfish. We saw tons. But the weather was perfect, and it really was the perfect bike-racing beach vacation!

Our hotel had fun stuff scheduled. We snuggled up under our towels for a dive-in movie both nights (Analise was the only one swimming, but she loved it, my little mermaid.) They also had a pirate and mermaid show on Saturday afternoon. Analise got her face painted like a mermaid, and they both had a swordfight with the pirate. Fun!

Friday we went to the Naval Aviation Museum (amazing!! free! awesome!) That’s another whole post full of pics, though…

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Our sweet bunny’s first week

22nd August 2011

After bunny-sitting for a friend a couple times last year, they called to ask if Analise & Josiah would maybe give Jaggy (or Jaguar, after the Spain Park HS Jaguars, where the bunny owner goes) a bit more attention than their busy schedule allowed. We were THRILLED to say the least. Jaggy is the sweetest bunny, litterbox trained, and very gentle. She’s never bitten, and she puts up with lots of snuggling from us. She currently lives in her cage in our entryway, but she gets let out for supervised hopping/exploring a couple times a day. It’s crazy hot here, so she doesn’t get outside much, but she has an outside hutch for more moderate times, and she loves our bunny-proofed side porch. A few of pics of my sweeties and their furry best friend…

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What’s Cookin’ – First Week of School wrapup

18th August 2011

So with the kids at school, I’ve got so much I could be doing. Cleaning, projects, errands… But this week, I’ve used my *favorite* procrastination technique… concocting lovely things in the kitchen! Here’s a bullet list of the highlights:

  • Peaches & Cream Muffins – brought peaches back from South Carolina last week.  Awesome.  I love, love, love making muffins… and sharing them!
  • The Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Iced Coffee – I’ve heard rave reviews.  Anna sent me some really great coffee for my birthday, so I’ve got a batch of this brewing overnight.  Can’t wait to taste it tomorrow!
  • DIY Flavored Syrup – Caramel – Made this today for the coffee…
  • Taste of Home’s Delectable Granola – Made this today, and though I think it cooked a bit too long (wasn’t seeming crispy, come to find out, it crisps as it cools) so it tastes a little “dark”, Brian LOVES it, and I love that I made my own granola!!  I love granola and yogurt and fresh fruit.
  • Giant M&M Cookies – Made these today, and I was a bit disappointed.  Might be that after the most amazing, chocolate pb cookies of earlier this week, it’s hard to compare.  But they are pretty, the kids loved them, and since they cooked a tiny bit too long, they’ll get another try.
  • KAF’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies – These. Are. So. Divine.  Seriously, there is no better chocolate peanut butter cookie out there.  And Trader Joe’s mini pb cups (frozen) are perfect in these.  You can also use the new mini Reese’s pb cups, but they have to be frozen, or they melt into the cookie.  Still delicious, but it’s awesome if they hold their form for bites of pb cups.
  • This cute little “Smart Cookie” tag set to package up a treat for the teachers – trying to decide which cookie recipe to use… leaning towards choc pb…

On my cooking agenda…

If only y’all knew how many recipes I have bookmarked to try… Wow.

Now, if you’re with me this far, you’re in for a real treat.  I’m about to confess a really bad decision, probably the stupidest I can remember. (Backstory – I recently read Born to Run and LOVED IT.  For various reasons, one of which stems from the book, I’ve started running barefoot, in a field near my house, once a week or so.  Brian’s told me to go get some Vibram Five Finger barefoot shoes, but I just can’t get myself to spend the $, and I haven’t needed to, because the field is really soft and safe.)

Yesterday, I was going to be running about 11, and if I don’t run early in the day, I lose my motivation quickly.  I was meeting a friend for lunch, and I really didn’t want to run, but I thought I should just do something, anything.  So I thought, hey… maybe I should try barefoot running on the smooth, blacktop paved Lakeshore trail, and then I’ll just run for a super short run, since I’m trying to gradually adjust my legs/feet to the biomechanical differences of running without shoes.  It was hot – 92 by my car thermometer, and as soon as I took a few steps on the trail, I thought, man, this is really hard and painful on my feet.  Just suck it up… you’re only going out 5 minutes and coming back 5 minutes.  So I kept painfully plodding along, until I hit the shade.  My feet HURT, and not just from the hard pavement.  I realized they were blistered from the heat of the blacktop.  And I had to run back to the car.  You seriously would have heard me saying, “What an idiot” to myself over and over if you’d been near me.  I was so embarrassed I’d made such a stupid decision.  Sure enough, back at the car, my feet were so painful, and walking to lunch (in my socks/shoes) felt like I was still walking through hot coals.  I can only laugh now.  Definitely learned my lesson.  I drained the blisters last night, and they’re 75% better today.  Hoping to run tomorrow… with shoes.  And yes, maybe soon I’ll splurge and get myself some Vibrams.  But until then, I’ll only barefoot run on the safety of the field.

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The first day of the rest of this mom’s life…

15th August 2011

And what did I do with my 8hrs? Brian (who starts teaching next week) and I let the bunny explore her more-or-less bunnyproof porch. I went running, cleaned & did laundry. We had a lunch date at Baha Burger (so delicious!!).

I made these amazing cookies for an after school treat (, best to use chilled Trader Joe’s mini PB cups).

And before we knew it, the time had come to pick them up. A good, good day was had by all!

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Yay for the First Day!

15th August 2011

So proud of my sweeties! I can’t believe I have a kindergartner and a 2nd grader!

We were excited to have our new neighbors walk with us, so after the requisite photos, this mom was pleasantly distracted from all the emotions that had been building.

Analise was a pro, full of chatter all and left us without a backward glance like she’s been doing this forever… or at least 2 years.

Josiah was excited to walk with the two older boys, and after walking Analise to school for 2 years, he walked in confident that it was finally his turn.

And just like that… my years of intense hands-on mothering are over. As I was lamenting the letting-go last night, I felt God gently reminding me that I may have less time with them, I have much more time to pray for them. So I start this new season on my knees, handing them over to Him.

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A Back-to-School Popsicle Party!

14th August 2011

With the start of school looming, I suggested to the kids last week that we have a Popsicle party and invite all the neighborhood kids, some of whom we don’t know at all. We used last year’s school directory and came up with 18 different homes to visit. Analise & Josiah were so excited as we drove around ringing doorbells to hand out our invites or leaving them taped to doors.

I stocked up on various popsicles (note: not enough fudgesicles), and we put Jaggy, the bunny’s, cage out in the grass so everyone could meet her. We had an AMAZING turnout! I was too busy handing out popsicles to stop and count, but probably 3/4 of the families we invited and a could others. It was so much fun! There haven’t been many get-togethers in our neighborhood, so this was perfect timing. I love meeting so many new people who are so close by. I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year!

(funny note… the party was scheduled from 4-5, and I had planned to cook a nice, healthy filling back-to-school dinner after the sugar-filled party. But we were outside talking until almost 6, so the healthy dinner turned into frozen pizza and apples with peanut butter. Glad kids will remember the fun times and not the dinner!)

Coming tomorrow… the first days of 2nd grade and kindergarten! Be still my heart…

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How to camp… the Toone way

30th July 2011

The kids & I had a great inaugural camping trip in Wisconsin with Grandma Sandy and Poppa Dale in June, complete with thunderstorms, mosquitos, campfire and pit toilets. {note to self: must blog about this and entire awesome trip to Wisconsin. add to list of “things to do when kids are in school”. *gasp*… both kids, in 2 weeks!} Yesterday, the kids begged to set the tent up in the front yard. So like a fun mom, I agreed. They wanted to sleep out there, but I knew that wouldn’t last.

YouTube Video

So they settled in at 6:30, still full daylight. For about 5 minutes. After about 10 trips inside, and before darkness had even really started to make an appearance, Analise told me she wanted to stay inside. (She was scared, but honestly, it was HOT in the tent, even with a fan rigged up.) So Brian, the fun dad that he is, suggested bringing the tent inside. Amazingly, we could just pick it up and squeeze it through the front door with everything inside it. (picture below from earlier today)

After about 15 minutes in their sleeping bags last night in the tent in the living room, they both wanted to go to their beds… because the floor was too hard. They were tucked safely in by 8:30 and asleep within minutes.

Today, though, they piled every pillow they could find into the tent, along with many other “important” things. They told us they wanted to try sleeping in it again. Lo and behold, it must have been quite comfortable, because this is what they look now.

I love these two. I love how they’re growing to be better and better friends. They can spend a long time working together to make things happen, usually something quite creative but also quite a mess. They have plenty of disagreements and fights, and I often end up frustrated. But I love how this picture captures that, at the end of the day, they’ll end up at peace, by each other’s sides. Thank you, Lord, for letting me feel like I’m doing something right. May they always be friends.

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