Please note: All images on this blog (except where noted) are original works of Miki Baxter and cannot be duplicated without permission. Also, if you're inspired by a project featured on here, then please link back to me and give proper credit. Thank you!!!


A Story Told Thru A Camera Phone

Once upon a time,
there was a brother and sister who loved each other very much.
Only two years apart, they were the best of friends.
They played well together and shared all of their toys.
One of their favorite activities was dressing up.
And posing for lots of pictures for their parents.
Mostly, these two were delightful and as sweet as pie.
Bringing lots of joy to their parents.
Sometimes they got a little mischievous...and fought.
Teasing one another mercilessly.
But they missed each other when separated.
They apologized profusely.
And tried to mean it.
And make the truce last.
Then one day a new person came into their family.
A baby the two had earnestly prayed for.
He was really cute, and they adored him.
But not when he put their toys in his mouth
or drooled into their juice.
Which happened often.
But they forgave little baby
and welcomed him into their world of play.
Except for when he put their toys in his mouth
or drooled into their juice.
Then they cried out for MOM!
who whisked baby away.


Goodbye 2009.

Tomorrow is the last day of 2009, and I am looking forward to a new year.  A fresh start, including a big move (shh, more details soon) and settling down after a year of lots of upheaval.  Goodbye, 2009.  I will not miss you.  I will wholeheartedly embrace 2010, hoping for the best and praying for God's peace, provision and guidance throughout the year.  He is always faithful and true, the One we can depend on in every season of life.  This song by Sara Groves has been the theme song of the last year, one I find myself singing all the time...
Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.

I can’t remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful,
He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me.


Friend Making Monday: New Year's Resolution

The question for today's Friend Making Monday is,
"What are your New Year's resolutions?"

Hmm.  I normally don't make them, but over the last several weeks there have been a few areas the Lord has been challenging me to address and change.  So I will!

1.  No TV.  A few years ago, I'd cut this out after being convicted about it, but TV watching started creeping in more and more.  I know that I'll have so much more time to do more meaningful activities, and 2010 should be full of creative opportunities!

2.  No Sugar.  Last March, I embarked on a healing/cleansing plan that was so energy-giving.  I felt great, looked great and... the "just one won't hurt" excuse totally side-swiped me!  Even during the holidays, I've seen the effect that too many sweets can have on the family, and it's just not worth it to me.  I want us all to get back to enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables more, not associating celebrations with sugary things, and enjoying even stronger immune systems.

3.  Yes Exercise, Yes Healthy Living, Yes Organic Foods, YES to making the year leading up to my 40th birthday fabulous.  I have looked forward to turning 40 for as long as I can remember.  In March I will be 39, and my plan is to make the necessary changes this year in order to be all that I've always wanted to be at 40.  I see myself as a trim and fit forty, with a big smile, lots of energy, and a strong sense of being the person God's created me to be, on the path to greater understanding and fulfillment of God's plan & purpose for my life.

Though I exercise, it isn't as much a regular part of my life or my family life as I'd like it to be.  This is the year we will be a bicycling, walk-taking, outdoor fresh air breathing family.  We eat mostly organic foods and practice healthy living, but I want us to take it to the next level  - for us to ooze health and wholeness and simple living.

These are my goals for 2010.  What's on the agenda for you???


All I Want For Christmas...

The topic of today's Friend Making Monday is All I Want For Christmas...
My list includes... a home, preferably a gorgeous Victorian one.

Photo courtesy of

Clarity and confirmation regarding the next phase of our lives, and a smooth, EASY move. Please, please, please, Lord!

But the top of my list every year is always a joy-filled, healthy, strong family.
Most years, I find that the things I want or need the most can't be found at the mall or ordered through a catalog. In fact, the only consistent place I can get what I want and need is from God's Holy Word. The B-I-B-L-E. God's promises cover a wide range from peace in the midst of storms, to enduring grace, His strength when mine falters, true joy, purpose for my life, guidance and comfort, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and eternal assurance. In light of all of that, the true meaning of the Gift given to us, Jesus, and the genuine reason we celebrate Christmas takes center stage. Jesus...the lover of our souls. As one of my favorite songs from the Supertones declares, "He'd rather die than live without us." Jesus was born to bring us hope, so that He could give His life for us. That's Christmas.


A Toast to Making Wonderful Memories

Isn't this bird so festive and Christmasy? He was a decorative member of the Christmas Victorian Tea. (You can read more about it and the decor on my creative blog, The House of Beauty and Culture.)
I'm not sure what's come over me, but I'm loving bird decor. I bought my first bird from Joann's on clearance to inhabit my thrift store bird cage. Then at an ornament exchange, I was given two calling birds. And I have become slightly obsessed with the 12 Days of Christmas. Rather than spending $24.00 on paper ornaments from Ballard Designs, as lovely as they are, I decided to make my own. This is a project en processe (sounds fancy, eh?).
The family and I are currently enjoying an early holiday celebration up in Englewood, NJ, a cute town right outside of NYC. Mr. Nice Guy had a gig up in CT, so we tagged along for the weekend to visit with Grandma.
Making Memories...last night I took the two older children outside during the snowstorm (we had waited all day for the blizzard to show up.) It felt like we were on a set of a movie, the setting was so perfect. Glittery, untouched snow sparkling in the street lights. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse... Just the three of us battling it out while Mr. Nice Guy took photos, our raucous laughter disturbing the tranquil night. Nighttime snowballs fights are exhilarating!
It reminded me of an evening soon after Mr. Nice Guy and I got married. A rare snowstorm blanketed the city, and we decided to hike a few miles to the grocery store, just for the fun of it. We laughed like little children, eyes bright with wonder and excitement, holding hands while crossing the empty streets. Until we came across some guys engaged in a serious snowball fight. I encouraged Mr. Nice Guy to join in as one snowball whizzed by our heads - no need for us both to become the new targets! Many minutes of hilarious fun later, he rejoined me as we continued our trek to the downtown grocery store. We didn't actually need any groceries but decided to pick up a few snacks for movie watching, just in case we were snowed in for a few days. The return trip was just as fun, as I shared childhood stories of snow fun. Sledding down big, bumpy hills and returning home half frozen. My mother sticking our feet in the warm oven to thaw out. My father building a real igloo for my brother to camp out in (and he did, though my mother dragged him indoors in the early morning so fearful that he would freeze.) My sister losing a shoe in a snowdrift and trying to find it - we never did, even after the snow melted in the Spring!
So last night, though it was past the children's bedtime, in the interest of making wonderful memories and loosening up the overly serious and perhaps rigid parental personal I have, we played in the snow. It was so much fun. And the children kept thanking me over and over when we came in to thaw out over mugs of hot tea. The look of wonder on their faces, their eyes bright with excitement, their peals of laughter and squeals as the cold snow found exposed skin was priceless. A pre-Christmas toast: to many more moments of making wonderful memories!


Friend Making Monday: Survey!

I love questions, which is what today's Friend Making Monday is all about! Here's some more info about me:
1. Favorite website
Hmmm...I check the news, my e-mail, Facebook and catch up on my favorite blogs. 2. Favorite color
I finally met someone who has the same dilemma that I do - I do not and never have had a favorite color. I like certain colors at certain times or for certain things for specific reasons. I'm more a color-texture-pattern-color combination person. 3. Facebook? {Post a link or share your name if you want some new Facebook friends!}
I am trying to keep my Facebook friends list filled with people I know personally, especially since some of my friends are teens... I've had some crazy posts come through from friends of friends that I didn't know, & it is hard to know how much info/photos pass through to your other contacts. 4. Favorite Christmas song? The Christmas Song, isn't that the actual name of the song? "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..."
5. Christmas tree: Real or fake? I'd like to experience a real one some day, but ours is not only fake, it's WHITE!
6. Hottest celebrity? My husband is so ok with this (though he thinks it's kind of funny), but I think Dr. Oz is HOT!!! He's number one on my celebrity list.
7. Favorite restaurant? We don't go out to eat much, preferring the food we make at home, but I like the occasional Mexican restaurant or even Panera for a hearty soup & sandwich.
8. Favorite magazine? I like home & design magazines, Martha Stewart's Living, Better Home & Gardens, Ballard Designs catalog
9. Favorite thing to drink around the holidays? I like to have a glass or two of eggnog, but Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte is my favorite treat.
10. Favorite Christmas movie
Home Alone is my absolute favorite Christmas time movie for some strange reason. I think it's because of the house, the snow...I don't know!
Enough about me - what are your answers to these questions?


Friend Making Monday: Thanksgiving Edition

It's the Thanksgiving Edition of Friend Making Monday over at Amber's...
1. Turkey or Ham?
Turkey, maybe some meatballs too per hubby's request, but no ham 2. Favorite side dish
Sweet Potatoes and Stuffing 3. Favorite dessert
Something, anything PUMPKIN 4. Black Friday: Are you going or not?
I think so 5. If so, what's on the top of your list?
Not going for anything in particular, just for the fun and to look around. I like not having any pressure to get an item but the benefit from the specials if I'm there for them. 6. Going out of town or staying close to home?
After several years of trips taking more than double the normal time due to traffic, we are staying home and are soooooo glad about it! 7. Hosting or helping?
This year it's a small gathering, my mother-in-law is our only guest. We like to vary the holidays - last year we travelled on both holidays, so we're low-key this year. 8. Name one family tradition at Thanksgiving
We express what we are thankful for, pray together and thank God directly for His goodness to us. With our young children, we're still in the process of creating traditions - seeing which ones work for us, end up being meaningful. 9. What do you do after dinner?
Relax, hang out, chat, s-l-e-e-p!!! 10. What are you most thankful for this year?
For God's provision throughout the year - He's been so good to us through some challenging times


Butternut Squash Soup

19_33_39---New-Forest-Autumn-Colour_web The focus of today’s Friend Making Monday is sharing a favorite recipe for this time of year.  The browns-oranges-reds-yellows outside plus the crisp weather makes me want to snuggle up to a bowl of soup.  A dear friend from South Africa introduced me to this soup, and when I went searching for a recipe to make it at home I came across this one on the Web:

PAUL'S FAMOUS BUTTERNUT SOUP (serves 6 as a starter)

1 fresh butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups of chicken stock (I use chicken broth) 
Half a cup cream
1 tsp curry powder
A squirt of Worcestershire sauce
Salt and black pepper

1. Toss the chopped onion and garlic in a pot and sauté, don't burn or caramelise. They must be translucent but still white.
2. Add the peeled butternut and chicken stock and bring to the boil.
3. When the butternut is soft, mash (as in MASH, don't liquidise or pulverise!)
4. Add the other ingredients and stir.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. And eat.

Beware of adding to much salt. It's the cream that makes all the difference.

Last week I was too lazy to look for couldn’t find the the recipe, so I boiled the cubed squash in the broth, mashed it, forgot about the cream and added some apple juice, with some curry powder and a dash of salt.  My family loved it!  (My South African friend’s recipe called for apples, and apple juice or applesauce works great.)  This is an easy way for me to get the kids to eat squash and gain the benefits of beta-carotene and the many nutrients it contains.  Enjoy! 



November 6, 19991999-11999-21999-41999-51999-6Our first year…  1999-020aB0003974 Expecting our first baby!2000-22001-4 Two years later, expecting baby #2!2002-002 2003-2Five years as a happy foursome…  2004-12005-5… then a wonderful surprise!!!   2008-1 2009-1 And today, celebrating ten years of marriage2009-18   2009-17 2009-16 and three amazing gifts from God.2009-15 We are truly blessed. 2009-14

Friend Making Mondays: Favorite Scents

Today’s question for Friend Making Mondays is “What are your favorite candles/scents?”pearA dear friend gave me a delicious Autumn Pear candle last weekend, and it is making our home smell deeeee-vine.      p_candlesBut my absolute favorite scent for candles is Pumpkin Spice.  I burn my Pumpkin candles all year long without apology.   Fallscape1 Overall, I just love, love, love the colors and scents of Autumn.  What about you?  What are your favorite candles/scents??? 


CRAZY Fun!!!

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, I started searching online for fun & free activities to do with the family…and I came across a Scavenger Hunt around the harbor in our downtown area. The rules were simple: you needed a team of at least four people, a digital camera and cell phone with texting capabilities. And it said that kids were welcome too – perfect!!! Costumes were highly recommended, though not necessary. Rain postponed the Scavenger Hunt for a week, and it took place on Tuesday, after Halloween. Which may explain why we were the only team that showed up in costume. Our team name was “The Baxter Buccaneers,” and even our sleeping toddler was in full pirate gear, vest, mustache and all. Around 5 p.m., we were all given a bag that held a notebook (with instructions, a map of the harbor area, and a task sheet), pen, toilet paper, sidewalk chalk, and our first clue which had something to do with Edgar Allen Poe, Annabel Lee, and food by the sea. We headed towards the Harbor Food Court building, while I perused the paper filled with various tasks and trivia that would earn extra points. We realized that we wouldn’t be the fastest team, with a stroller and toddler, so our strategy was to make up for that by doing as many of the tasks as we could. One of the tasks was to draw a 3’ x 3’ Halloween picture with sidewalk chalk. Done!Another one was to get your face painted by Little Red Riding Hood. Seeing our costumes and guessing that there was a link, a group of people passing by mentioned seeing her and pointed the way. Faces painted – check!After finding the maiden with the next clue in the Food Court, we headed to the opposite side of the Harbor, across a street, to the top of Federal Hill, a steep ascent with two sets of stairs. Mr. Nice Guy pulled out his inner Hercules and carted the stroller and toddler up and down the stairs. At the top was a lady dressed up as a cat, and our clue instructed us to howl at the moon. Along the way, we tackled another task which involved taking pictures with a total of 20 strangers. We grabbed people along our path and asked them to pose with us. To get the next clue, we had to find a “Killer Banana” which had us stumped until one of the kids mentioned seeing someone dressed as a banana. Off to find him! Our proudest moment was when we convinced a man to let us wrap him in toilet paper, a task worth 100 points! What a great sport! Other clues had us searching for… our ancestor’s flag (we located a store selling flags and to be on the safe side grabbed flags from Japan, Trinidad, and Great Britain), a ringing telephone, the title of a book in Barnes and Noble by unscrambling letters, and finally a pirate ship. We received a phone call that we had 5 minutes to locate the ship and to check in. Mr. Nice Guy remembered that one of the ships docked at the harbor looked like a pirate ship. R-u-n!!! We checked in with the pirate at exactly 7 p.m., the deadline for the hunt! There was one team ahead of us throughout the race (all adults BTW), and they were already there at the finish line. We had reminded the kids throughout the race that we were going to give it our best, have a lot of fun, and work together as a family – winning wasn’t our primary focus. The Announcement: The prize for best costume went to the three kids – hurray! After adding up all of the points, we came in first place by less than 100 points – the costumes (worth 100 points) paid off!!! We each got a certificate, gift cards for Panera, and tons of candy! It was unbelievable!!! And the best part was doing it as a family, laughing and working together, experiencing this adventure together.