Friday, March 27, 2020

Bee Sweet Like Honey

Hi everyone,

I took some time this afternoon to explore and reflect on what is happening in the world around us. I couldn't help but look at the beautiful wild iris in the middle of my woods, and admire their beauty.

We've had so much rain this year. At times we didn't see sunshine for days. Though we grew tired of it, to look at my surroundings now, I realized it was exactly what was needed to yield these beautiful native flowers all along my little creek. A reminder that what we all looked at as an inconvenience and a nuisance a couple of months ago has ended up coloring the landscape with such beauty. We don't quite know yet what will come of this time that we are in, but we have to hold on to the hope that beautiful things will bloom when this time passes.

Even the thistle, though it has thorns, still brings a rustic beauty to the landscape. For me, it was nature's way of underscoring the fact that even when life brings thorns into our lives, if we give it time, life can bloom in the middle of it all. What can you see blooming in your own life at this time?

The highlight of my afternoon excursion had to be seeing the bee in the  blackberry blossoms. I started working on a new website last fall, that I will be launching this spring called "the Jubilee Bee". I love bees because they remind me of my own life. Like the bee, that should not be able to fly, I have survived trials and tribulations that I should not have. Not a day goes by that I do not acknowledge how very blessed that I am. I have purchased some bee stock images as I have gone through this new creative process, but seeing the perfect shot, and being able to capture it brought me so much joy.

I think it is important for us to remember in this time of uncertainty that some things in life may have thorns or may sting, but in the middle of it all, we can find beauty. We can bloom. Yes, a lot of things may rain down us before we bloom, but all storms pass. Life always comes back to the surface. Beauty can always be found from ashes.

As a gently reminder as I close this evening, and words that my Mimi use to tell us, "You get more bees with honey than you do vinegar." So when others start getting on your nerves, which is common in times like these, think of this last photo, and try your best to bee sweet like honey!

Sending you a long distance hug,

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Mother Prays

Hi everyone,

Tonight I write with a some what heavy heart. Like so many others I have children in the health care profession. My daughter is a nurse. My son-in-law is a fireman. They have my miracle granddaughter who was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. My oldest son is a nursing student and nurse ex-tern at one of the local hospitals. 

Tomorrow they go to work, soldiers in a war against an enemy that we cannot see. As a mom, and a Christian I have to practice what I preach. Walk the walk, not just talk the talk. 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 
2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

I have to hold on to my mustard seed once again, like I did when our precious Lily Claire came into this world. In terms of my own health concerns, I am trusting that God is not done with me yet. He has work for me still to do for Him on this side of heaven. Just like I did when we were waiting on Lily Claire's arrival I am leaning into God's Word. 

I am keeping abreast of the COVID-19 numbers, but I am staying away from television and social media as much as possible. The hardest challenge that I face is reminding myself that my children are gifts to me from God that I am blessed to have for as long as He sees fit. My youngest son is going to be an officer in the Army. My worry for him is only just beginning. BUT, BUT, I have always told my all three of my children that they are to go where they feel God is calling them...because they are His first.  

I know there are countless mothers throughout the world tonight that are also trying to settle their souls when the worry starts to creep in. I am trying to "be still, and know" that He is God (Psalm 46:10), and He has a plan for everything that we experience in this life.

So in the days ahead, please know that you are all in my prayers. 
Please know that I am praying for each and everyone of our precious babies. 

We may not know what tomorrow brings, but we know who is watching over us. And with that thought I can go to sleep placing my life and my the lives of my children and grandchildren in His hands.

I'll write again soon.

Sending you a virtual hug, 

Friday, March 20, 2020

While We Wait

Hi everyone,

I have been so busy, going in so many directions for so long, I haven’t updated my site on a regular basis. I think a good many of us are finding ourselves coming to that realization these days. It’s funny how we may have a list of things we want to do that is a mile long, but when life comes to a screeching halt, it takes us a bit to process it all and move forward in the new direction that is laid out before us. 

Waiting is never easy, is it? From the time we are kids this starts, but in our world where we have gotten so accustomed to life happening so instantaneously, having to wait can be challenging. This morning I reflected on a point in my life that feels like it was a lifetime ago.
In 1988 I moved to Germany. At that time we had no cell phones, and we could only call home once a week for about 30 minutes, because it was so expensive. Gas was rationed, because it was so expensive. We could only watch movies we bought, because the signal for the only American television station did not reach out village. We didn’t have PCs back then, so we wrote letters…we waited for letters…we waited for care packages that could often take weeks to arrive. I learned to sew then. I read a lot then. I made friends, and to this day we share an incredible bond. We were practicing social distancing before we even knew that would one day be a “thing”. So in this new time I find that drawing on my old experiences helps. Back then it would take me a few days to get my bearings during a deployment, and I find that the same is true today. I am a creative who loves alone time, so I know that I will have a routine down soon.

I am blessed that I can work from home. I am blessed that I have incredible family and friends. We practice social distancing to protect each other, and most importantly my precious miracle grand baby. While we wait I am writing, and working to finish developing my new website. While we wait I am working on some life goals that have been on my “to do list” for the last 10 years. While we wait I am doing everything I can to improve and protect my own health, because I know there is a lot of work that God still wants me to do while I am on this side of heaven.

So while we wait, what are you doing with your time?

I would love to hear from you!! 

Sending you a hug ~ Jen

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Ending 2019 with Some SEO for Mom

Hi everyone!

I originally wrote about this post in January of 2017, but with the end of 2019 near, I felt it was a topic that deserved a revisit, because a New Year always brings new opportunities.  This post has been on my heart for a while, but it just seemed like this was the right time to share it with you.

Usually when people think of the acronym SEO, Search Engine Optimization comes to mind.  In fact, being a computer science professor, you would think that is what I would think of first as well.  However, I am not your normal computer science professor and as such, for me SEO has a different meaning.  For several months now when I have thought of SEO, Soul Enhancement & Optimization have come to mind.  Puzzled a bit?  Well let me explain. 

Yes, search engine optimization has helped us in terms of how we travel throughout the Internet, but as a mom I also want to optimize how I travel through life.  It isn’t easy being a mom in today’s fast paced world and a single mom at that.  So as I prepare to teach my own students about the Internet, this idea of Soul Enhancement & Optimization just keeps coming to mind.

Webster defines the soul as follows. 

The spiritual part of a person that is believed to give life to the body and in many religions is believed to live forever; a person’s deeply felt moral and emotional state; the ability of a person to feel kindness and sympathy for others, to appreciate beauty and art, etc.

To enhance something is to “increase or improve,” while optimization is “an act, process, or methodology of making something as fully perfect, functional or effective as possible.”  For the record, this mom knows she can never be “fully perfect” on this side of eternity, so that part of the definition I did not factor in. 

Though as a single mom and a computer science professor with a strong relationship with the Lord, the researcher within wants to dive in and investigate this concept that has been on my mind for a couple of months a bit further.  How, as a mom can I experience “Soul Enhancement & Optimization?”  With my background firmly rooted in academia at a Christian institution, I had to start with the definitions and as a student of life, acronyms always seem fitting.

Anyone who knows me knows how deeply and emotionally I feel about things in my life.  As a creative person, beauty and art are things that I observe in places that quite often others do not see.  But is this just something that I was gifted with or do some people miss out on art and the beauty that surrounds them because of life’s circumstances.  Let’s face it, there is not a single mom out there that hasn’t been so overwhelmed with life at some point that they didn’t want to just tell me, “Girl, observe beauty???  I have forgotten what that even means in the midst of bills, homework and life.”  Even in the midst of my own life it would be so easy to throw in the towel and block beauty out. Sometimes as moms, not just single moms but ALL moms, we get so busy trying to take care of everyone and everything around us to the point that we don’t know which way is up and if we do look up we often aren’t praying to Jesus, but merely expressing “Help me Jesus!” just trying to survive.  We remember what a soul was, but we have forgotten what it truly meant to feel something from the depth of our souls.  But how can we find our way back?  How can we ENHANCE the seeds that were planted within our souls before life became too much.        

As a mom, how can I improve my life so that I am using the gifts that God has blessed me with in such a way that it enhance my kids’ lives and the lives of those around me?

Let’s revisit the definition of optimization once more. It is “an act, process, or methodology of making something as fully perfect, functional or effective as possible.” 

So wait a minute here, if we can figure out how to take what we once valued so dear within our souls and enhance it, could it be that in turn, through the very act of doing this that we could become more functional and effective as moms?  Would this work for all moms?  Is there an age limit? 

Well let me share my own experience with you and then you can pick and choose what may or may not work for you. 

When I originally wrote this post I wrote of coming down with the shingles. For those of you who may not know what that is, it is the same virus as chicken pox, but very, very painful.  I am normally one who is moving through life so fast my best friend often tells me that it’s like my hair is on fire.  In the past year my family has gone through a life experience that has changed us forever and those who have followed our journey. Sometimes not so good things in life happen, not because we have done anything wrong, but merely so the Lord can slow us down and get out attention.  For our souls to truly experience an enhancement and thus optimization we have to lean in to the trials of life so that we can find the beauty in the midst of the chaos.  

Sometimes, in the midst of dealing with pain and uncertainty we are able to hear the gentle whispers that He sends to our souls and in turn we are enhancing our lives and watching every second of our day optimized, but not just for our sake.  It is through this process that He is allowing us to be a light for others in the midst of their own personal trial.  It also allows us to be examples for our kids and it has allowed by kids to be incredible examples to others. 

 The beauty of this all - when we are truly leaning into life through prayer, the study of His word, giving & doing for others when He leads us, participating in worship, and reading books by other Christian authors who have done the same, we do see that are souls have gone through an enhancement and optimization.  This doesn’t mean that it makes the pain of the trials any less, but what it does allow us to do, moms and dads alike, is take a deep breath and know that NO MATTER what comes our way, He will allow us to use it in a way to glorify Him.   

So as the end of 2019 draws near, I am leaning, dedicated to my own SEO experience. As new doors open and new opportunities appear I want to make sure that God gets all of the credit for the incredible things He has done and continues to do in my life.  The New Year will be here before we know it, time flies by so quickly, but it also reminds us once again to make every second count. 

Until next time…


Monday, September 23, 2019

Adding Color to My World

Hi everyone,

I have had so much fun in the Mood Board Challenge I just finished, I decided to step back a bit and make one for Curiosity Cottage. If I am going to see where I am going I think I need to reflect on where I have been, analyzing the colors and words that represent Curiosity Cottage. I am a work in progress, as are my different Mood Boards.

As creatives our minds can go in a million directions at once. Having both the creative & technical skills makes that more like a bazillion directions at once for me. It is a fun and exciting time for me as I plan out the steps I will take on this next journey in my life, but one that I am so ready for!!

Have a wonderful Monday!!


Editorial Note - the magnolia image is a stock image, only intended as part of an exercise for the Mood Board Challenge, all other images are mine or came from my own website. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Change is Good

Hi everyone,

I am taking a course in which we create a "Mood Board" for our brand that will then be used on a website or blog. I am also teaching my students about "crowd sourcing" so I would like for you to vote.
Several weeks back I took a pole and two names tied, "The Jubilee Bee" and "Life at Curiosity Cottage" I have decided to combine the two. My new site will be  
The Jubilee Bee
my life at Curiosity Cottage

Many of you have followed my journey since I first created Curiosity Cottage, so I thought it would be fun to have you vote. Which Mood Board/color scheme do you like best? You may either comment on my post to vote, or head over to my Curiosity Cottage Facebook page!! VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!!!

I look forward to sharing the results with your soon and letting you come along on this journey with me!! Thanks so very much for you input & for taking the time to help me create a lesson for my class.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Baking My Bundts Off

Hi everyone!

Spring Break is FINALLY here and Easter is just around the corner, so I am using my week to take on several projects. In January I stumbled across some INCREDIBLE Nordic Ware Bundt pans and I have been having a ball baking for my friends and family.

My Louisiana roots made Nordic Ware's Fleur De Lis Bundt Pan a MUST buy!! I have scoured Pinterest for recipes, asked  friends for ideas, and sent my creations out into the world for my friends and family to enjoy! I have discovered several things with this new found hobby. For starters, I have learned that you can make a cake and it can sit on your counter for days and you do not have to consume it all. Second, if you are diabetic, you can taste wonderful things...the key is to have them in moderation. Creating cakes from scratch...well you can just taste the love in the homemade. I have also found that when you bake from scratch it does not make blood sugar spike like the box mixes do. It is true that different foods tend to impact those of us with diabetes in different ways, but this is what I have found works for me. My daughter likes to tell me, "You do you mom." Well baking these cakes is teaching me to take it one creation at a time.

For this milk chocolate bundt cake I decided to try a coffee glaze. Community Coffee's King Cake flavor seemed to be the PERFECT fit, once again drawing on my Louisiana roots!! This time though, my years spent living in Bavaria, made Nordic Ware's Bavaria Bundt Pan another must have! I absolutely loved the years I spent in Bavaria, so teaching the kids about where they were born and the Louisiana roots of their family is always fun and makes for a festive time.  
With each new cake I am learning new things about baking, trying new ideas, and allowing the process to slow down my life a bit. For example, when making a cake from scratch the order and process that must be followed is critical. I even came across a recipe recently that made sure to state that the process of creaming the butter and sugar should not be rushed. We have become such a fast paced society that the idea of slowing down or it could impact the outcome of something we are creating...well let's face it, we really don't give that much thought any more. We look at prep time, but do we ever stop to think about what we learn in the process when we are prepping food? While I carefully added one ingredient after the other into one of my cakes I could not help but think of the perfectly orchestrated steps God has for our lives, steps that sometimes we want to rush through or skip all together. Often times we want the prepacked, processed product to yield a homemade taste. In other words, we do not stop to savor each layer that He adds to our lives. Each lesson He is bringing our way shapes us and mold us, and turns us each into the beautiful creations that He designed for us to be.

Baking and teaching my kids to entertain made Nordic Ware's Heritage Bundt Pan a piece that not only allows me to bake incredible cakes, but also create desserts that can also serve an beautiful accessories for any table. It thrills me every time I use this pan. Because the beauty of this cake when I am finished. The gift, or heritage, that I want to pass down to my kids from my baking is that if we slow down enough to savor the simple things in life, like baking a bundt cake. We will find that we can savor the goodness of sharing beautiful thing with others and our own family. And that, in the simple things, we can find incredible beauty.

Until next time...



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