10 Things I Learned in October 2016


At the end of each month, I share things that I learned. This habit helps me pay attention to life, myself, and God’s presence. It’s my way of reflecting and celebrating. It’s how I take notice and be present.

“10 Things I Learned” have become some of my favorite posts to write. I love the process of looking back, and seeing the deeper lessons that I might otherwise miss.

In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month:

1. Packing for a trip is WAY better with the Stylebook app.

Have you heard of Stylebook? It is my new favorite tool to virtually organize my wardrobe and create outfits with the clothes I own. But the best use of this app was to organize my packing list. It lets me plan on the clothes to take on my trips, and generate outfits using those items. So helpful!

2. There’s no getting around my daughter dressing up as Elsa from Frozen for Halloween.

I tried really hard to redirect my 4-year-old to other Halloween costume ideas. But nope…despite all my efforts and suggestions, she HAD to be Elsa. Sigh.


Minecraft Steve, baby Jack Jack from The Incredibles, and Elsa from Frozen.

3. Parents have all sorts of different strategies for dealing with the onslaught of candy during Halloween season.

I asked friends on Facebook what they do, and discovered a whole host of creative solutions. Some parents limit their kids to a particular number of candy allowed (we do 15), other parents let their kids eat one piece of candy once a week until their kids forget or get tired of it.

4. Boiled eggs are easier to peel under cold running water.

We’ve all been there. We boiled some eggs, and are now in the process of peeling the shell off. But then pieces of the egg stick to the shell, and our lovely boiled egg now has little chunks taken out of it. Here’s a great solution – peel your eggs under cold running water, and the shells come off easy peasy!

5. When I take risks, I thrive.

I took a few risks this month, including sending a book manuscript to a publishing company (eek!). You know what happens deep in my soul when I take risks? My soul soars. It feels joy in the simple act of courage that it took to try something new and unknown.

6. Pumpkin spice has worn out its welcome.

I, for one, am tired of how unoriginal pumpkin spice flavored anything is these days. Have some imagination, people. Okay, now I’m going to duck from offended people flinging their Starbucks cups at my head.

7. Sometimes something needs to die to make space for new life.

When we are about to transition into something new, there may be other things that need to end or get shelved to create the new space that is needed.

Speaking of making space for new life, I’m hosting something called 30 Days of Abiding over at my Spiritual Journey website. Want to know more about participating? Get more details here: 30 Days of Abiding

8. How to make my own homemade toothpaste.

My main reason for trying out this homemade toothpaste recipe was because Crest stopped making my favorite non-mint toothpaste. The taste of baking soda takes some getting used to, but I love how smooth and clean it makes my teeth!

9. My body is very unreliable these days.

In the last month, I’ve had a series of minor body malfunctions – strained neck, injured lower back, headaches, nausea. I have no idea what is going on, but it is super annoying and I’d love to be more physically healthy.

10. We can eat these chicken enchiladas for days. They are SO good.

What about you, friend? What things did you learn this month?

Pear Cake With Vanilla Bean Butter Glaze


This pear cake with vanilla bean butter sauce is going to improve the state of your soul. Why? Because with cinnamon-coated pears baking in a cake will melt all your troubles away in an instant, and let you know that everything will be okay.

The moist cake is generously studded with ripe pears, and drizzled with a sweet glaze of vanilla and butter. I used Bartlett pears, but surely any good variety of pear will do. Add a splash of dark rum to the glaze? Why not! I did this on a whim while making my glaze, and gave myself a mental high five.

You can treat this cake like dessert, but if you decide to enjoy a piece with a hot mug of coffee and call it breakfast, no one’s stopping you. You are an adult who makes choices. Go for it.

Pear Cake With Vanilla Bean Butter Glaze

Print this recipe
Prep time: 15 minutes
Yield: one cake (about 10-12 servings)


For the pears

  • 6 pears
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the cake

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

For the sauce

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • splash of dark rum (optional)


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube or bundt pan. Peel, core and chop pears into 1-inch chunks. Toss with cinnamon and 5 tablespoons sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, apple juice, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix wet ingredients into dry ones; scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of pears (and their juices) over it. Pour the remaining batter over the pears and arrange the pears apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Make sure your toothpick goes not just all the way down to the bottom, but does a shallow dip below the top layer of pears to make sure it comes out batter-free.

Cool completely before running knife between cake and pan, and unmolding onto a platter.

While the cake cools, make the sauce. Split vanilla bean length-wise with a paring knife. Scrape out all the seeds. In a small saucepan combine vanilla seeds, butter, brown sugar, and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in splash of rum (if using).

Pour about 1/4 of the glaze into empty cake pan. Carefully reinsert cake back into pan. With a fork or skewer, poke holes into the cake. Drizzle the remaining glaze over the cake. Let sit for about 30 minutes, allowing glaze to absorb. Turn cake out onto serving plate.

5 Things You Need to Make Amazing Homemade Ice Cream


We’ve been making a lot of homemade ice cream recently, such as this salted caramel ice cream. I love how surprisingly simple and fun ice cream is to make. All you need are the right tools. To make it easy for you, I put together a list of 5 things you need to make amazing ice cream. Here you go!

1. Ice Cream Maker

We’ve owned the Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Ice Cream Maker for years, and it has never let us down. It has a large cannister, and churns ice cream in about 20-40 minutes. For a pretty low price of $32.99 on Amazon, it is a great value.

2. Silicone Spatulas

A good spatula is a must-have for ice cream making. You will use it to stir your ice cream base, as well as transfer the ice cream to and from the ice cream maker. Do yourself a favor and get this set of very highly rated Wilton Easy Flex Silicone Spatulas. We use these all the time in our kitchen.

3. Mesh Colander

Many ice cream recipes instruct you to strain your custard base, usually to filter bits of egg or other solids out of your ice cream. For that, you’ll use a mesh colander. I have this set of three colanders, which comes with a small 7-inch diameter colander, medium 8.5-Inch diameter colander, and large 10-inch diameter colander.

4. Silicone Whisk

Another necessity for ice cream making is a silicone whisk, which is used to properly mix your ice cream base. I like the 10-inch Kuhn Rikon Silicone Rainbow Whisk. Silicone ensures that your pots won’t get scratched, and your whisk can withstand high heat. Plus, this rainbow whisk is so pretty!

5. Great Ice Cream Recipes

I have The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, and highly recommend it. The book gives tips and guidelines to making homemade ice cream, sorbets, granitas, and all sorts of ice cream toppings. I have made several recipes from the book, and each has been excellent and easy to follow.

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