Life: Not Cancelled.

shallow focus photo of orange ceramic mug on white saucer

Photo by Elle Hughes on

It’s no question. We are living in unprecedented times. (How many times have I heard that in the last couple weeks?) Like seriously… Un. Heard. Of.  My big girls asked me when the last time something like this has ever happened.  Never.  There are so many questions.

What do we do now? What about school? What’s for snack? What about dance recital? Why is there no toilet paper? What’s for snack? Can I sleep in? What’s for snack?

I do not have answers for most of these questions.  I just don’t know. I cannot tell which scientist/politician/doctor/website is telling the truth.

Is it just a bad flu? Does it only affect the elderly? How long does the virus live on surfaces? Do I need to cover my face in public?

The Man’s 40th birthday trip to Minnesota. Cancelled.

Wedding trip to Missouri. Cancelled.

Anna’s high school band/choir trip to Orlando (On which I was also set to go as a chaperone). Cancelled. (Will it be rescheduled? Maybe. Will I get my money back?  Most likely not.)

My luggage is still neatly packed in the corner of the bedroom out of denial that this truly is happening. I am guilty of hoarding an unusually large amount of coffee, because I am pretty sure no wants to be quarantined with me otherwise. I am literally stringing together unorganized thoughts, because there is so much going on in my brain right now.

My four sweet girls are fighting copious amounts of emotions.  They are 15, 13, 10, and 7.  They miss their friends, teachers, dance, choir, enrichment classes, and youth group.  Some are old enough to connect to friends via technology. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Some of their friends are home, too. Some of their friends are still going out and we wrestle with the questions of why we have chosen to stay home as much as possible. (Disclaimer: Iowa currently does not have an official shelter-in-place order.)

I watch the news just enough and bear witness to the chaos that seems to be overtaking places such as New York, California, and Washington. It would be easy to tune it all out and imagine we are on summer vacation. Minus the heat and the sun. The news betrays me, because here at home in Iowa, there are more COVID-19 cases reported every day. It feels like standing by and watching a tsunami inch closer with nowhere to run.  I don’t really know how to do this. 

I watch. I pray. I prepare. 

I have now entered that sweet spot of life known as “middle age.”  I am forty.  I remember 9/11 well. I was in college in Minneapolis. I have often tried to explain to my children what it was like and they have always had a hard time understanding why it left such an impact even though it happened so far way… mostly in New York.  I have tried to explain that crushing feeling of uncertainty, because back then, we didn’t know if it would just be New York.  We were waiting to see what was next.  Would it be me next? Would it be my city?  Even though the circumstance is so incredibly different, THAT feeling of just not knowing is much the same.  Daily, we work through all the feelings (because there are a lot these days).  I said, “Remember when we talk about 9/11 and I try to explain what it felt like?  THIS. This is pretty much what it felt like.”

And despite the fear and frustration about what we were all going through at the time, there was this sweet unity born out of crisis. For just a moment, Americans rallied together, because we were all suddenly in the same boat.

Similarly, beautiful things are coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Amidst the inconveniences, each day there are stories of humanity rallying together to infuse joy and goodwill into our momentarily awkward existence.

  • The man who bought a $300 gift card at the coffee shop and told all the healthcare workers to go get a treat on him.
  • The teddy bears, rainbows, and Easter eggs in neighborhood windows.
  • The Christmas lights on display in spring.
  • The homegrown seamstresses making masks for healthcare workers who are in short supply.
  • The teachers organizing drive-by parades through their student’s neighborhoods just to give a wave at an appropriate social distance (six feet, of course).
  • The preschool teacher who dressed in a hot-dog costume to “ding dong ditch” her students and leave small gifts by the door.
  • The groups organizing help for the elderly to get the supplies they need.
  • The grocery store manager buying loads of unsold Girl Scout cookies from a troop to give to hard-working employees.

And on, and on, and on.  There will be more stories.

This. THIS… is what happened after 9/11. We were all on the same side. We were all scared. And we all needed to see good things happen. Everyone wished this refreshing spirit of goodwill would continue. Unfortunately, collective altruism lost and familiar partisan practices won .

I recently read a post from a young adult saying they hoped it would stay like this. You know what? I really hope so, too.  I hope this changes our lives forever. I hope we never grow weary of kindness and jumping in to do the hard things just because we are able.

Maybe we will be better humans because of this mess.  Maybe we will continue to be good stewards of our resources.

Cook more. Connect deeper. Love harder.

It’s all up to us. Choose to make it better. And if you “Ok, Boomer” me, fine. I’m just rooting for all of us to win this together.

So pour your coffee. Make it strong. Check on your mama. Call your friends. And put something wonderful into the world that wasn’t there yesterday.

Love and coffee, Friends. (And a whole lot of prayers.)


“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13 (NIV)


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Into the New.

coffee bean heart

There was Christmas. (Magical.) Then New Year’s Eve. (More magic.) There was the snow. (Yes!) There was the extreme cold. (You know the days that were colder than Antarctica. Literally.) There was the casting of lots to see who would make the long trek to the mailbox in the Iowa tundra. (Not. Me. Because I feed you. And reasons.)

And now. It is that weary time of the year when all seems to lie dormant. Dead. Dying. Consequently, we hibernate. Drawing into the cocoon of a cozy house, waiting for winter to pass. (Hurry, Spring.)

Regardless, there are lovely things. Lazy nights sipping tea while playing cards. A well-loved movie, nestled under the warmth of a blanket. The harmonious aroma of hot chili and sweet cinnamon rolls wafting from the kitchen.

Time is shorter than ever. My efforts to keep busyness at bay often fail me and the only constant seems to be coffee. I most often arise at an ungodly hour for my work. Perhaps one of the most exciting things to happen around the homestead in the last couple years is that I now work from home teaching English online to elementary students in China.

I get to stay home and love on my sweet girls and work before they rise each morning. Also, before the sun rises. And often, before my brain rises to the occasion of coherence.

Coffee. Is. Life.

As I stumbled into the kitchen on a recent morning, I opened a fresh bag of coffee in order to prepare the morning brew. (Like insanity-inducing early also known as Beijing Time.) In a complete stupor, I made a clumsy attempt to carefully add the coffee, gave up, and just dumped in a more-than-appropriate amount for good measure. But something wasn’t quite right. My befuddled brain mused as to who could have put what resembled chocolate chips in the coffee bag?

Until it dawned.

Beans. Beans!? Yes, in my hurry at the supermarket, I grabbed beans instead of ground. Darn. It. Because at 3:00 am, the family does not take kindly to awakening by coffee grinder. It is what it is.

But perhaps the single most exciting thing is that we recently moved to a new homestead. New pastures to explore. (Some laden with cow pies. Quite literally.) A fresh piece of small-town Iowa to traverse. Adventure awaits in every sense.

So much coffee and so many stories to share. Stay tuned, Friends.

But for now…

Love & Coffee!

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The Light Changed.

chris-lawton-154388 (1)The early chill cut to my core and I had yet to lay hold of my morning sustenance.  The wee hours were just waning and I suspected that the morning was eager to burst forth within the hour.  I gingerly stepped onto the cold wooden floor, thankful for my fair-isle slippers with the leather sole.  At first step, my sleepy eyes met with an unexpected golden glow streaming through the vintage lace curtains of the old farmhouse.  The lace cast intricate patterns across the aged floor and on to the fine China seated in the hutch.  The aura seemed most ethereal and near heavenly.

The light had changed.  The hour had moved.  And I had forgotten.

I thought, “I must hasten the morning coffee that I may capture this moment while the quiet persists.”  Cup in hand, I sat in the weathered rocker, blanket-wrapped, watching the light filter through the front-yard tree, setting the living room to light.

I anticipate the time change almost as much as a morning coffee.  It feels like “coming home.”  Everyone retreats to the house early.  The sky darkens.  We dine by the dimness of the evening.  We rush into our jammies, dim the lights, and cozy up for a game of cards or a favorite read-aloud story.  There are steaming cups of peppermint tea and fleece blankets a-plenty.

We savor cold nights, neatly tucked into the old farmhouse and I reflect on change thus far and change for the future.  I always thought I would be sad to grow older. But as time creeps and age blooms, I find myself unwrapping each moment as a gift. Always unexpected. And usually good.

My Peanut (if I can still call her that) is thirteen.  We talk about things.  All the things.  Over coffee.  It is more beautiful than I imagined it could be.  To see a young woman take shape just where my little girl once stood.  To see her struggle.  To work things through.  To celebrate wins.  To find herself.

And the light in her eyes?  It has changed, too.  And changing still.

Ladybug is right behind her…   And then two more.

Gratitude rises within as I have grown to appreciate each season. Each moment. Each breath.


I am thankful for…

Fingerprints on the picture-window glass. (And the little girls that left them.)

The dog that curls up to warm my feet. (And warms my heart twice as much.)

Mason jar glasses brimming with chilled milk. (And sometimes a cookie.)

Untidy rooms. (Lived-in and loud.)

Cracked Pepper & Olive Oil Triscuit crackers. (With a bit of aged cheese.)

Worn-out jeans. (The coziest kind.)

Dog-eared books (Well-loved and smelling of “old”).

Ragged dolls. (Played with time and again.)

Logic puzzle magazines. (And a freshly sharpened pencil.)

Briars stuck in long, girlish hair. (And the adventure that caused them to be so.)

Gold glitter nail polish. (Almost as bright as little-girl eyes.)

Scripture Lullabies. (And calm nights.)

Romantic nights in. (With expensive chocolate.)

Blank paper in my sketchbook. (And a good set of pencils.)

Friends that love me anyway. (Grace!)

Family members that choose to stay. (Grace all the more!)

Coffee. (Yes.)

Coffee. (Of course.)

Coffee. (I’ll stop now.)

And a little cream.  (Mmmmm…)


May we celebrate all of the things for all of the years we have. 


Love & Coffee… and maybe some pumpkin pie.


Happy Thanksgiving, Friends! 


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When It All Comes Together

nathan-dumlao-298337.jpgI am not certain that it ever fully does, but in a sense, it feels like it’s all coming together.  I cannot even say exactly what.  It is that moment when you turn around and look behind you and it takes your breath away.  That moment when you recount all the mistakes and regrets you have about your journey thus far and sigh with relief that things have not turned out half bad.  It could have been worse.  And the good far outweighs anything less.

Sure, there are things I wish I had done differently.  And time marches on to a metronomic beat that every fiber of my being wishes would slow to a largo.  My four darlings are turning out beautifully.  Too beautifully.  And time refuses to stand still.  The Man never seems to age, yet somehow creases are settling into my own visage without relent.

I suppose you could say that life is comfortable.  Not in a financial sense.  Or a perfect house sort of way.  For the first time in my life I feel like I may be comfortable in my own skin.  In who I am.  In who God created me to be.  Content to be confident in my Creator.  And it’s a beautiful feeling.

My sweet girls have continued to grow up, despite my protests.  It seems unfitting that my 13-year-old beauty continue to be called “Peanut.”  Or that my not-so-little “Ladybug” shares my shoe size.  It is also seems utterly impossible that “Lovey” has outgrown her taste for deodorant and Sharpies (although she continues to challenge me in entirely new ways daily).  And “Cupcake?”  Four.  And a half.  And sassy as can be.

Upon reflection, this blog began over 6 years ago.  SIX!?  Oh, how life has evolved.

All things considered, it has been a good run.  But I feel like it’s just getting started.  First?  Adolescence.  I am NOT handling it well or otherwise.  Second?  The Man thinks we should give chickens another chance. (Third time is a charm?)  Third? I have this half-brained, but also necessary, idea that we are going to renovate our 1900 farmhouse if it kills all of us.

I feel like there is going to be a LOT more coffee in my future.

I hope you will join me, because this ride just got a whole lot more exciting.

Love & Coffee, Friends! 


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Just wiggle harder.

OH, how I have missed writing things.  For eighteen long months, this sweet, wistful life on the homestead became bombarded by circumstances and ambitions that mostly seemed contrary to my entire life philosophy.  As I plowed deeper into the rigor of further education, my sweet girls went to public school for a year, The Man switched careers entirely, we ate entirely too much frozen pizza, and my brain was nearly left in a crumpled heap of exhaustion.

I can barely remember the ride…

And somehow while all of that was happening, Peanut is now almost to turn thirteen (and consequently no longer thinks kindly of being called “Peanut”).  Ladybug is double digits and always dreaming of Paris, fashion, and lip gloss.  Lovey is entirely too lovely and no longer looking so smallish.  And Cupcake.  Sweet cupcake is no longer a baby and nearly four.

Perhaps one of the most beautifully hysterical things to happen in recent months is that Peanut and Ladybug have discovered that their mother writes a blog!  (Two, actually, but who is counting? And seeing that this blog has now been going for nearly six years, they are caught somewhere between utter hysterics and death-worthy embarrassment upon reading its contents.  (HELLLOOO GIRLS!)  You see, Peanut and Ladybug have bookmarked this blog to police me.  (Nice try, Ladies!)

But  I must tell you about Lovey and Cupcake.

I believe one of the greatest victories this side of heaven surely must be the day you are done with diapers.


Twelve.  Years.  Of.  Diapers.


But in a house brimming with girls, it seems that there may never be enough bathrooms.  And even if there are, they will always choose to use MINE. And so it was, just last week.  The facilities were full, Lovey taking her time as girls often do.  (You know, because bathroom time is the best time to write songs.  And poems.  And talk to your imaginary friends.)

And Cupcake is a wiggler.  Yes.  She does not do that normal thing that most children do when it is time to go, but rather this awkward, yet cute-as-a-button, wiggle.  And as I happen upon this interesting display, our conversation usually goes something like this:

“Cupcake, do you have to go Number 1?”

“No.  Just wiggling.”

“Cupcake, do you have to go Number 2?”

“No.  Just wiggling.”

“Cupcake, surely something is wrong?”


“The bathroom is free.”

(Makes mad dash for the bathroom.)

Perhaps it is a tendency to be modest.  Or perhaps we are raising a pathological liar.  I am never entirely sure.  However, on this recent occasion, as Lovey composed and recited and conversed to Cupcake’s chagrin, I apologized while she wiggled, “Cupcake, darling, I am sorry for the wait.”

“Don’t worry, Mama. I’ll just wiggle harder.”  My sweet, oh-so-positive, Cupcake!

I nearly spit my coffee all over kingdom come in amusement, yet her words rang true.

Because that, Friends, is what we do.  When things are weird.  And the wait is long.  And  nothing turns out like you had perfectly imagined…

We “wiggle harder.” 

You know that feeling when you come home after a long, tedious journey?  Not the one to Disney, but the one you didn’t really want to take in the first place?  The one where you were not really sure what you were doing there, but were hopeful it would make sense later?

Well, here I am.  Home again.  (As a college graduate, no less!)  And planning my spring garden.  (It is going to be amazing!)  And whatever unexpected things may come…

Just.  Wiggle.  Harder.

Because spring is coming.  There is much to be done and the homestead is coming to life again.

Love & Coffee, Friends.

(Seriously… BIG love.  And HOT coffee.  I’ve missed you.)


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Begin Again.

DSC01626 I feel like we are starting all over again.

All. Over. 

In March of 2012, we moved here to this sunny little Iowa acreage just shy of heaven. We had plans. Really big ones. Plans for all sorts of things. (You can read about all about our initial foray here: Dreams and Things.)

The Man and I have a long-held dream of rural, sustainable living on our little homestead. But there’s this thing… We’ve never really done anything like this before.

And we have been quick to learn that more often than not, things do not go as we foresee them to. Shortly, after moving here in 2012, we found ourselves completely surprised by pregnancy. (You can read about that here: Crayons in the Fridge.)

And as God would have it, it was no easy pregnancy by any stretch of the imagination. Riddled with complications, bed rest, and the longest winter of our lives, we did nothing but wait and wait and wait (and not usually patiently) for our precious Cupcake to be born. (More on that here: Sitting Still. And Thanks.)

We spent so much time just yearning for the terribly wonderful ordeal to be over and, of course, our sweet Cupcake was worth every second. (How it Went Down.)

It was just so much waiting.

Almost as soon as she arrived late last winter, The Man was ready to jump head first into homesteading. I was still trying to remember how to take care of a baby. (Funny how one can have four babies and everything seemed new all over again. I knew everything and nothing all at the same time.)

Cupcake was scarcely weeks old when The Man brought home 10 chickens to raise in our foyer. Uh-huh. (Chick-a-licious.)  Soon after, he surprised me and came home with a Rottweiler. (A Boy and His Dog.) Then the chickens died. All of them. (Counting Chickens.) Then the dog died. (Then She Was Gone.)

Our garden never even had a chance. I did manage to put in 4 lone tomato plants, but I only bothered to water them every so often and Lovey helped herself to the few small, green tomatoes she spied before they could ever dream of making into our kitchen.

But really, my baby just had my heart, my time, and my attention.

So THIS is the year. Cupcake is newly 1 (gasp!) and we are all healthy (woohoo!). We were blessed to have a lovely friend till our entire garden space last fall. I am really bad at estimating distance and size so for now, I will just say it is mildly gargantuan. After poring over seed catalogs for months, the seeds have finally been started. (Crossing my fingers.) I expect to lose a lot of lovely things to critters so I fully anticipate this year to be somewhat of a test year. I have grand ideas of canning and freezing anything and everything.

And here we go…20140324_211104225_iOS

The Man brought home chickens again last week. (A baker’s dozen and every last one getting cozy in a box in my foyer.) Naturally, we have a better chicken house security plan in place if the The Man can find the time to finish it up.

And a dog. The Man has Rotty fever once again, so that is also on the horizon. By the end of the week, our sweet little Rottweiler puppy will be here.

(Perhaps a goat or two are also in our future?)

In addition to all the plans we have for the interior of this cozy, old farmhouse, I’d say we have our work cut out for us. But things have never looked brighter.

Love & Coffee.


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Out of Touch

Phone. Abstract techno backgrounds for your designTwo.  Years.  (A very long time.)

For two years, I have endured having a mobile phone number that was formerly the number of a trucking company.  For two years, my phone rings at odd hours of the night and day only to find that on the other end of the line is a trucker wanting to give me his “load number” or asking for assistance of which I am in no possible way able to provide.

But all of that has suddenly changed.

I think The Man loves me.  He bought me a smart phone.  (He either finds me delightfully out-of-touch or they were on sale.  Probably the latter.)  It’s a very, very smart phone.  Is it embarrassing that I have been clinging to my trusty flip phone that takes me roughly 37 minutes to send just one text message?  I still kind of miss it.  It was familiar.  It was easy.  And it was well-loved.

I. Am. Not. Ready. For. This.

They say it will make me more connected, but sometimes I rather enjoy being disconnected.  I am simply not one to be “on call.”  There are just so many important things that I would rather be doing.  Coloring, playing dress-up, and bedtime stories will always trump a text message.  Every.  Time.  And when it’s time for family dinner (yes, we still do that nearly every night) all of those electronic devices are comfortably nestled far away from the table, leaving us focused on each other.  Real people.  Real faces.  It’s all real.  And amid the clanking of silverware, passing of butter, and spilling of milk, I find these sweet moments where we all share our daily adventures, challenges, victories, and always leave room for dessert.

It’s a beautiful way to live.

If you call, I may not answer.  If you text, I may not reply.  But rest assured, you may leave message and I promise I will get back to you… eventually.

P.S.  The sunrise is especially lovely this morning.

Love & Coffee.

If you liked this post,you might also enjoy The Quiet.

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Icicles on Log CabinIt’s so very difficult to lurch out of a warm, cozy bed on such a frigid morning as this.  I was snug, my pillow was just so, and my blanket hugged me like a long-lost friend.  I lay still, eyes closed, in blissful silence, savoring the lullaby of the friendly owls perched in the tree just outside our bedroom window.

The sun is yet sleeping.

The darkness still envelopes.

Yet the day beckons.

And there is coffee to be brewed.

Drink up, Friends.  It’s going to be a lovely day.

Love & Coffee!


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Back again.


No… Wait!  Don’t leave!  Trust me.  You are in the right place.  Blue Jeans & Coffee Beans has undergone a makeover!  I am still tweaking a few things so there may still be some subtle changes over the coming days and weeks.

A few important things to note:

1.  If you are an email subscriber to my blog and want to continue receiving updates via email, you may have to re-subscribe.  The email subscription box is located just under the About Me section on the top right corner of the Home page.

2.  The Recipes page is currently under reconstruction and will be functioning again in the very near future.

3.  Please, let me know if you encounter any problems along the way.

It’s lovely to be back.  I have so many beautiful things to share.

Love & Coffee.

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No nukes…

is good nukes???

No, this isn’t a political statement… but a family experiment of sorts.

I ditched the microwave.  I thought we were ready.  I thought it was time.  And I’m driving everyone crazy!  But it is gone, gone, gone.  

Sort of.

There is plenty of good material/research on the negative effects microwaves have on our food.  This is not one of them.  As a family, we decided some time ago to reduce our use of the microwave as much as possible for a lot of reasons.  Aside from the obvious health concerns, zapping perfectly good leftovers until they resembled barely recognizable, chewy, leathery fare didn’t seem to mesh with the simple, homestead-y life we are aspiring to out here.  

So the microwave… it’s been banished to the utility room to co-exist amongst other appliances such as the washing machine and dryer.  Currently it resides on the floor until I can decide on it’s permanent home.  (Or until I can clear off the laundry counter and make room for it!)   I will probably still use it to heat water on occasion and for warming rice pillows (to toast cold little toes in the winter).

Besides.  I really needed the counter space.  

How true it is… you don’t realize how much you really use something until it’s gone.  I was under the impression that we were truly already living without it.  Until I didn’t have it.  

Day one didn’t go quite like I expected it to.  Things were going along quite swimmingly until around 10:00 am.  This is the time when the morning coffee has often gone cold.  And I usually sneak a cup into the micro for a quick warm-up.  No such luck!  Okay… so I pour my cold coffee into a small saucepan to heat on the stove.  No problem, really.  Perfect in no time at all.  Swish out the pan and I’m good.

Noon.  Lunch.  The kids want leftover spaghetti.  Oy.  Is it sad that I have practically never re-warmed anything in my entire life on the stove?  Correction:  NEVER re-warmed anything on the stove?  I dump the spaghetti into the pot, adding a little water to keep it moist, cover, and heat over medium until it’s hot.  Five minutes.  Not bad!  I could get used to that.

Then dinner.  Shoot!  I have not one bit of thawed meat.  No chicken.  No beef.  No nothing.  

And it’s 5:00 pm.  

I called The Man and asked him to pick up a pizza on his way home from the office.  Epic.  Fail.

I don’t regret it, but it is definitely something new to get used to.  I’m positive there will be more to come on this topic, but until then…

Love & coffee.

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