Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wraps and menu post!

Usually for lunch, I want to eat something quick. And usually quick equals unhealthy, right? It doesn't have to be. Lately, I've been on this eating wraps for lunch kick. I've been eating chicken wraps, turkey wraps, bean and cheese wraps, but my recent favorite? Veggie wraps. I've been putting bell pepper, tomato and arugula in a wrap and adding some black beans for protein. It is delish and pretty healthy!

With that being said, here's our menu for this week:

Glazed cod & veggies

Crock pot roast, potatoes & carrots

Homemade pizza

Grilled cheeses

Chick-Fil-A dinner with the small group night

I don't know yet!

Small group night, will take something

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The sadness that is my hair

I am sad as I write this. It’s the end of an era....for me. But things can’t last forever, right? Not all things, anyway.

Months ago, I started this awesome new hair care regimen, the baking soda wash/apple cider vinegar rinse, done twice a week. I wanted to rid myself of chemicals and having to spend a lot of money on hair care products. At first, it took awhile for my hair to get used to it. My head was overly oily and I ached for wash days. But after a few weeks, my hair adjusted and it did just fine. I could even go close to a week without washing. I loved it! The only thing I didn’t like about it was that it took me a lot longer to wash my hair in the shower, and I did start to miss the shampoo smell.

After several months of doing this, I started to dislike the apple cider vinegar rinse. It’s supposedly really good for your hair (and face, and your tummy, and a lot of other things), but I didn’t like the way it made my hair feel--which resembled the texture of hay 
almost exactly. I missed the slick softness that conditioner provided. So, I thought, I will do the baking soda wash and just barely put conditioner on the ends of my hair. That will work, right? I thought so, and my hair seemed to do just fine. But I was wrong.  

I did that for about 6+ weeks. The baking soda wash and the regular conditioner (no ACV rinse). Then I started noticing my hair breaking and splitting....very badly. It looked horrible. It started to look like I had fried it with one too many hair dyes (and, for the record, I’m not against dying your hair, but I have never ever done it...not even once. So, the fact my hair looked like this frustrated me to no end).

So, I went to get it trimmed last week. I was ashamed when she could tell, without me even telling her, how much my hair was damaged, how bad it had been breaking. In fact, she had to cut off a good 2 ½ inches to cut just the dead ends off, and that still didn’t get them all. I didn’t have the guts to tell her I’d been killing my hair with baking soda for the past few months. She suggested I get a good damage control shampoo/conditioner, stop using bobbie pins, and stop putting my hair up so tightly. And she added that it would take a long time for my broken hair to grow out and be strong and thick again. I almost cried when I left, but my hair does look tons better after the cut.

After I left the salon, I went right over to the store and got some replenishing and repairing shampoo & conditioner. While it wasn’t anything expensive, I am hoping that after awhile of washing it the normal way, my hair will be back to what it was before.

I feel that as I tell this story, I should add the reason that this didn’t work for me. I’ve read about many people who have been doing this regimen for years and have had great results. But I did it all wrong. I should never have stopped the ACV rinse. I read that when you wash your hair with baking soda, you strip your hair of everything, but apple cider vinegar helps restore the PH balance back to your hair and scalp and all is right in the world again. Without the ACV rinse, I was just stripping and stripping my hair and never restoring. Duh. My bad. I wish I had a picture of how fried and damaged it looked. Or maybe I don’t, that’s something I think I  want to forget.

In conclusion, do more research before trying anything new, especially on your hair! Maybe someday, I can go back to doing the baking soda/ACV wash at some point, but I need to get my hair back to healthy status before attempting to try it again.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pinterest hubbub

So, lately there’s been an upheave about Pinterest and their terms. You know I’m a huge pinterest fan...I’ve mentioned that so many times. I pin and pin and pin to my heart’s delight. I try things, gain inspiration, get helpful tips, put together and post clothing suggestions, I’ve never thought anything about it. I never take credit for anything I don’t create, but I always want to share any knowledge I’ve received that’s helpful.

But then I saw this deal come up on Facebook:  

I didn’t know what this meant and didn’t really care (at the time). Who reads the terms and conditions when they sign up for anything? Anyone? Not me, that’s for sure. 

Earlier last week, a friend posted THIS article and I started to get a little worried. I wondered what this meant for me. Will I get sued if someone doesn’t like that I pinned their site? Is it all really that worth it? And then I contemplated closing my account. Do I need to be that extreme about this?

But as I thought about it, I decided not to close my account. That’s the way other side of the spectrum. I am, however, going to be more careful about what I’m pinning. I’m not going to just pin any old thing like I did before. I probably should have done this anyway, but I never thought it was an issue.

Then an even awesomer thing happened. Pinterest changed some of their terms! Yippee! I got an email several days ago stating which terms they changed, and you can read them HERE. Even with this new change, I am still going to be more aware and careful of what I’m pinning.  

I am still grateful to the creators of Pinterest, for giving some of us a chance to be creative, to share helpful and creative things, and for giving me more ideas for foods for my family. You may not be perfect, Pinterest, but you still rock.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A few children's books and a photography challenge post

Every night before bed, Jude wants me to read him a story. And we all know how beneficial it is to read to your children regularly. Jude will get into one certain book and want me to read it every night for a week. This is pretty typical of 4 year olds. Me, on the other hand? It takes a lot for me to like a children's book. Don't get me wrong, I love children's books, but I am hard to please when it comes to the children story variety.

There have been a few lately that have caught my attention. Jude's Nanny bought him this book (Where's Dave), and it is so cute.

I really love everything about it. The story is cute, there is a seek and find on every page, there are different textures to touch for sensory, and there's a safe tip on every page having to do with the story. Definitely get this one for your kiddos!

This is a new book (Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy) we just got from our Dolly Parton books for life deal. It's a super cute story about a girl and boy who team up to fight the (make-believe) bad guys in the playground. This book fosters and promotes great imagination play and playing/working together. Love it!

And this book:
If you want to share a heart-touching, rhyming story about sin and how big God's love is with your children, this is the book (Giant Love). Love it so much!

On another note, I haven't done my alphabet photography challenge in awhile. My last letter was B, and that's when I took pictures of the moon. Now, on to C.

C = Color

Springtime is so full of color, everything is blooming and it's just so pretty. 

Purple flowers

Yellow dandelions

Some type of pretty pink flowers

If you can get over the yuckiness of pollen and allergy season, go out and enjoy the beauty of Spring!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Menu post and waffles!

Mmm, waffles. Who doesn't love a good waffle? I could eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, at least 3 times a week. The problem is...they're not super healthy. The waffle mix, the butter, the syrup, all pretty fatty and calorie filled. So yesterday, I searched online for a waffle batter recipe and decided it was simple enough. It may not be the healthiest thing to eat, but I feel much better about making my own batter rather than making the batter from a boxed mix. Boxed mixes have hydrogenated oils, preservatives and other ingredients I can't even pronounce. THIS recipe was simple, and the waffles tasted delic!

So, on to this week's menu post!

Eggs and waffles (I have plenty of waffle batter leftover and I need to use it before it goes bad!)

Pork chops and potatoes & pinto beans

Chicken and Ceasar salad

Glazed cod or salmon, spinach and red baked potatoes

Grilled cheeses

Small group dinner/hang-out night at Chick Fil A

Chicken fried rice

Small group, will take something

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Enjoying life

This weather has just been so lovely that my kids want to pretty much live outside. Which means I also live outside with my camera, just catching our every day lives as we live it in the Springtime. And in our backyard there's tons of regular fun to be had.

The kids love bugs, worms, anything living. I don't like bugs, personally, but I can get into ladybugs. They're so pretty!

From someone who has plain brown eyes, I swoon when I look into this boy's eyes.
Jude enjoying some green grass.
This is their new favorite thing to do. Throw the leaves up over the air conditioning unit and watch them fly! This got tons of cute little boy squeals of joy!
Happy first day of Spring!! Hope you are all able to get out and have some fun in it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I was run-ning!

I ran my second-ever half marathon yesterday in Germantown with my step-dad. I'm not going to lie, It was hard. I have been dealing with weak/hurting knees, and there were times while I was running I wanted to cry and give up. But I finished, and finished well (and by well, I mean 13 minutes faster than my last half!)

I love to run and exercise. I know that sounds weird, it IS weird. It's an outlet for me, and it makes me feel good. And I can run long distances now, but I couldn't always. When I first started, I couldn't fun for longer than 2 or 3 minutes at a time. And while I'm not the fastest or best runner now, I have come a long way. 

Let that encourage you. If you are having a hard time making that first step toward...anything, becoming healthy, exercising, following a long-time dream, whatever it is. You can make that first step. Start out slow. And things will develop as you continue on and persevere.

When we got there early in the morning yesterday, the sun was just coming up.

My sister (and mom and niece) ran the 5K that morning too. So proud of them!

You can't really see all the people, but there were a lot. It was so pretty that morning!

My finishing time! My placing wasn't all that great, but I am happy about how I finished. 
1 Corinthians 9:24
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize."

Run the race of life! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Clothes and Spring!

It's that time of year again. The time where seasonal wardrobes must be evaluated and either put up or taken out, depending on the season. And just like every year, its the time where the weather can't make up its mind. It's warm enough to wear short sleeves, but some days are too cool to wear shorts, some days are too warm to wear jeans. The drawers are overflowing and the laundry seems never ending.

I don't mean to complain, I am so grateful that my kids have clothes. But sometimes it gets really overwhelming. I feel like I don't have enough storage space or a good switch-out system. I do feel like I'm making progress since I bought a few new bins to store my boys' clothes. What about you other mamas out there? Do you have a good switch-out/storage system for your kiddos clothes? I am willing to take any suggestions here. I need help!

Anyway, on another note, I didn't do a menu post this week because our weekend is going to be an unconventional one, since we'll be with family all weekend. I'm running my second ever half marathon on Sunday, and I'm a little nervous about it. So, because of that, I'm only cooking two nights in the next week.  We'll be back on with a regular menu post for next week, though.

And I have some future plans for a few crafty projects, so I will definitely be blogging about those if I can get them done. There's something about this warm weather that brings out the craftiness in me. I've also been feeling oddly motivated to clean my laundry room since I bought those new bins. Yippee, here's to Spring!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Eliminating stress in small ways

No, this is not a post about the fun things I do to bring calm into my life (like a hot bath, a good book or a yummy piece of chocolate), although I do have a pretty good list of those things too. These are things that I do in my life to make my life a little less stressful and I wanted to share them.

1) I shop consignment or used for my kiddos. Since kids grow so fast, and my boys are hard on their clothes, this makes much more sense to me than buying everything new. I actually just got a lot of summer items (including sandals for Jude) at the seasonal consignment sale for under $20. This makes me very happy!

2) We rent movies (dvds)  from the library. Our local library has a pretty big movie selection and Ross and I are huge movie lovers. Watching new movies or ones we have seen a million times but still love is something we enjoy doing together. We do try to stay away from movies with nudity and/or sex, but other than that, we’ll give just about any movie a try.

3) I buy a lot of my own clothes at Goodwill. I could go every weekend, I love it that much. It’s almost like trying to find a diamond in the rough. Sometimes I will go and find nothing, other times I will go and find a bunch of great stuff. It’s one of my favorite stores, and you're helping others out by shopping there, so it's a win-win!

4) I gladly accept hand-me-downs. Shoes, clothes, furniture, if it’s something I need, can use or repurpose, I am glad to take it off your hands.

5) We watch all of our shows online.  That means no cable. While I have to admit, it would be nice to have cable, it actually is way less stressful for me for two reasons. a) For obvious budget reasons. Cable can get expensive, and that is one less thing we have to worry about, budget-wise; and the more important reason, b) I don’t see all those pesky commercials. I know material things aren’t important and don’t make us happy, but I love to shop and to spend money. Commercials just remind me of all the things I don’t have, but want so badly. And I am one of those easily swayed people who can’t determine between wants and needs. Don’t get me wrong, I know there is no way to completely eliminate media/ads/commercials, but this helps a tremendous amount.

6) Every once in awhile, we go through the kids toys and give away/sell old toys they no longer play with. This means less clutter, which means less stress for me.

This is not a complete list, but just a few quick ways I try to keep myself less stressed when it comes to money. Because let’s face it, money is an area of stress for a lot of people and their relationships. And while my life isn’t perfect on this subject by any means, I have learned a few things about staying on a budget, how hard it is, but also how beneficial it can be.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Crazy, messy life

As I visited with a sweet friend today, our kids were running around crazy, toys were everywhere and we were talking about how our lives are messy. I think life is messy in general, but especially this time in our lives, with little ones to chase after all the time. I think us mamas always want to seem like we have it all together (I know I do at times), and people always tell me, I don't know how you have time to do all you do! But transparency is good, so I want to be honest and transparent about the ways life is messy around here for us.

  • My countertops are rarely ever clean. Sometimes they get wiped down, most times they don't. Unless I'm baking bread, I usually clean off a spot to do that. But there's always stuff on them, which is sad because I don't have a lot of counter space.
  • I don't sweep my kitchen floor or vacuum near as often as I should. My kids drag cheerios all over the place every day. But I just don't have it in me to sweep 45 times a day. I just don't, folks. 
  • Sometimes it takes me a few days to get the laundry folded and put up. I used to be notoriously bad about leaving them clean in the hamper and having to pick through them to find clean socks or whatever, but I've gotten better....sort of.
  • I don't make my kids clean up their rooms every day. I know this is terrible mothering and I should do this, but I don't. I do want to start doing this, so that counts for something, right?
And there are so many other ways in which my life is far from perfect. It's a crazy life, but its one that I love and enjoy very much.

"If you seek some special life outside of daily activities, that is like brushing aside waves to look for water."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kid-directed play

I read an article today about how the amount of children’s free play is on the decline and how some experts believe there’s a correlation between that and anxiety/depression. Here is the article. While I don’t really know if I fully agree about the anxiety/depression part, I definitely think there’s some merit and importance to kid-directed play.

This article brought up some interesting points. I’ll name a few that stuck out to me the most.

1) It is through play that children first learn how to make decisions, solve problems, exert self control, and follow rules.
I have never thought about this before, but it is so true. At this point in Jude and Ezra’s development, they usually make the wrong choices in solving problems and exerting self control, but that is how we learn, by making mistakes. I find that I have to consistently and constantly guide their play and interactions with each other. I’m ok with this for now, hopefully I am teaching them how to do this on their own for the future.

2) Children learn to handle their emotions, including anger and fear, during play.
I feel this is so important. Children need to learn how to have self control, not only physically, but emotionally as well. I think there are other situations where this can be learned, but play is definitely a big one.

3) Play helps children make friends and learn to get along with each other as equals.
“Social play is a natural means of making friends and learning to treat one another fairly. Since play is voluntary and playmates may abandon the game at any time if they feel uncomfortable, children learn to be aware of their playmates' needs and attempt to meet them in order to maintain the play.”
Couldn't have said it better myself. I love this thought!

And here are a few thoughts of my own:
1) Children learn how to value others in play. This kind of piggy backs onto the third point above from the article, but when kids attempt to meet others’ needs in play, they essentially are being sensitive to those needs and realizing that other people, their needs, and their feelings matter. (and are hopefully learning to put others above themselves)
2) Children learning how to play with other children of different ages is a good thing to learn. We have friends with children of the same age of our kids and different ages, and I love that our kids learn how to play with older and younger children. This is another reason why we want to homeschool (and probably will).

I’m sure there are a billion other reasons why kid-directed play is beneficial. I’m just glad my kids have a built-in play buddy/teacher of how to treat others, and friends whom we play with on a regular basis. A little side note, as I type this, one of my kids is crying because they aren’t playing well together. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New foods & menu time

Recently, I realized that my cooking is only so-so. This frustrates me to no end, since I have to do it so often. I thought that in order to fix that, I must practice, and practice a lot. So, I grabbed my cookbooks and looked at my favorite websites for recipes and added a few new things to my "foods to cook regularly" list. (and I just realized that I fried a lot of things last week. Healthy? Not even a little. Oopsie)

New yummy food #1 Zucchini patties. These are YUM. I love zucchini cooked just about any way, but this way is probably the yummiest (and probably the least healthy).

New yummy food #2 - Chicken fried steak. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of this, but I knew it was something Ross liked and it's a new food. It was a hit, Jude and Ross both loved it, and I didn't think it was that bad either. I got this recipe from the Pioneer Woman's cookbook (and the gravy recipe too), and it was spot on.

New yummy food #3 - Gravy. I had to make some gravy to go with our chicken fried steak. I'd never fixed gravy from scratch before, and it was so easy, and so good.

I had to smother my chicken fried steak in gravy. Anything smothered in gravy is G.O.O.D. (and I accidentally over roasted those veggies. I hate it when I do that!)

Yay for new foods! This coming week's menu isn't nearly as new or exploratory, but had to be made (and done easily), nonetheless. So, here it is!

Chicken with bowtie pasta in pesto sauce (bumped from last week)

Pork chops and mashed potatoes

Homemade pizza

BBQ Chicken & mac n cheese

Fish sandwiches & roasted veggies

Grilled cheese sandwiches with pesto & green beans

Dinner with small group

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

B Photography challenge

Lately I've been kind of obsessed with night photography. I'm not really sure why. I think it just dawned on me all of the sudden that I always chase the light during the day because I love the sun and it's inspiring. The warmness of it makes me happy and makes me want to take photographs in it. But I never think about the light at night, the moon that makes everything look different, but just as beautiful as during the day. There's an eeriness, a peaceful beauty about the night light. And I'm not quite sure I've ever taken one photo outside after the sun has gone down. I've never been inspired to, until this week.

So, for my photography challenge this week, I wanted to try out some night photography. To see how things looked at night through my lens. I saw some pretty amazing things.

I call these shots Brightness Breaking through Blackness. The moon through the clouds is breathtaking. The clouds almost look like smoke and I was in awe as I took shot after shot. I couldn't decide which one I liked the most, they all told a different story.

And my favorite. The moon peeking out through the clouds reminded me of sunrise, how it breaks out over the horizon, but obviously the opposite. It's like the moon was wanting to be seen and known.

I've never thought much about my street at night, but it looks so different during the day.
Through the branches. I could not get my lens to focus on the branches for anything, but I still like how it turned out.
My goal is to start taking more night photos, of people, of landscape, of everything. Obviously it's a little harder to get out at night, so it will be something I work on over time.

I love being inspired. It helps fuel all other parts of my life. There are so many things that inspire me, this is just one of them. What about you? What inspires you?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Peaceful Mama

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

I have to admit, lately, parenting has felt extremely chaotic, not to mention exhausting and life-consuming. I have mentioned this before. I haven’t thought much as why its been so exhausting, I’ve just been so consumed with trying to get through each day, my reflective thoughts and joy have been absent. Every morning I’ve been wishing for bed time to hurry up and get here. This is not a place I like to be in. That got me thinking, why is parenting so hard these days? Why am I so heavy hearted? I came across this verse earlier:

God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.

I know this and believe this, but parenting has been anything but peaceful lately. My life has been anything but peaceful lately. To be honest, I don’t really expect it to be peaceful all the time. After all, this world is one big messy place and my life is messy too. But, I do hope to be peaceful as I parent, and I haven’t been. It took me awhile to figure out why.

Sunday during church, the pastor said that Jesus wants to free us from duty so we can have delight. I love, love, love this and am grateful for it, but I’ve been struggling with it. Feeling like all of life is a duty I must endure. Ultimately I don’t believe that is what life is about, but I have been feeling so much of that lately. Being bogged down and heavy with the daily troubles of life. And I was reminded of my blog and the whole idea behind it. Viewing our duties as delights. This thought lead to the realization of the reason of why I’ve been struggling. I’ve been viewing parenting as a duty and not a delight. I’ve been getting frustrated with every instance of training and discipline, which is quite often these days. It feels like I have been living in a constant state of frustration, and all the little frustrations pile on top of each other, until they build up.  If all of life is just a duty, then yes, I will always be frustrated, because there are so many little (and big) inconveniences that happen every day. But if I change my focus, and view these discipline (and other) issues as chances to build character into my child(ren), then my frustrations aren’t frustrations anymore. They’re no longer inconveniences, but opportunities.

Jesus wants to free us from burdens, not add them. This doesn’t mean that life will be easy or nothing bad will ever happen. It does mean that I don’t have to be burdened with parenting, I can be free to love and discipline/train my kids as I have been called to do. I love that word, free. It’s all about putting the focus where it belongs, and stop focusing so much on myself and what I need to do. So much weight has been lifted off and I feel my joy and peace bubbling back to the surface.

Speaking of peace, I came across this blog (The Peaceful Mom) today, and I am intrigued by it. She and her family live on an income of less than $28,000/year and feeds her family of 6 (with 3 teenagers) on $100/week. I love this idea, and am really inspired by this. What do you think? Could it be done?

Friday, March 2, 2012

A biscuit DtD challenge and a nature walk

I received the Pioneer Woman's cookbook as a gift from a sweet friend this past Christmas, and I have to admit, I have barely even touched it the last two months. I've been busy, what can I say. So, when I opened it and saw there was a recipe for homemade biscuits, I just knew I had to try them.

I'd been wanting to try homemade biscuits for awhile, but a lot of recipes call for lard and I'm sorry, but I'm never buying lard. I refuse out of principle. So I gave up on the idea. 

Until I saw her recipe in the cookbook. It calls for shortening instead of lard, and even though shortening is gross (because it's basically lard itself, but at least it's not called that, ugh), I can do shortening. I got to working yesterday on my biscuits and this is what came out:
Overall, I would give this experiment a B-. The recipe was super easy and I liked the taste of the biscuits, but they just didn't rise enough. They were so flat! At least they tasted good. I have a billion of them though, so if you'd like to have some, I'll gladly share.

Today we went on a nature walk with some friends. The wind was blowing hard and I was sweating, but it was fun...for awhile. I was able to snap a few pics.

We played with moss, rustled around in the leaves, found a cool hole in a tree trunk to explore, listened to the wind blow the tree branches around, the woods have lots of fun things to investigate. 

But not long after I took that last picture, my kiddos fell apart and I had to put the camera up. Jude and Ezra were both tired and therefore melted down repeatedly, wouldn't listen or even follow me out of the woods. It took us so long to get back to the pavilion. We had to leave our friends early, and after I got home, I was exhausted.

Yep, I have hard days too. Life isn't peaches and cream all the time. But, I was grateful we had some fun before chaos ensued. Happy Friday, friends. Hope you get some fun in this weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I've been wanting to start an alphabet photography challenge, starting with the letter A, obviously. Trying to think of a word theme that's supposed to be a specific letter was hard. But, here we go.

Here are some other photos I've taken recently.

Love the gold tones of this photo (but hate that I cut his feet off, argh!)

I was trying to chase the light in this one...always love me some sun flare! 

A for awe...he loves to look in the sky for airplanes! (and I love the catch light in his eyes)

Smiling boy!

Vintage peanut butter face Jude!

I'm so glad I've had the inspiration to pick up my camera lately. I think it's the Spring weather. All the flowers blooming and sun shining, it makes me want to take pictures of everything.

Disclaimer and Copyright

All information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Whether you try any of my methods or ideas is totally up to you. I am in no way saying you should do everything the way I do, every family is different and you should find out what's best for yours. I would, however, be delighted if you tried some new things in your own lives (whether be my ideas, your own, or someone else's), and shared it with me.

Also, you may use any of the content of this blog for your own personal use, but please do not take the ideas on my blog and claim them as your own. You may link back to my site with proper credit. This is much appreciated.

Helpful Sites

The Frugal Girl (frugality, repurposing, etc)

The Pioneer Woman (recipes)

MCP Actions (photography, PS/PSE actions)

Coffeeshop Blog (photography, digital design and PS freebies)

Digital Photography School (photography)