Blessed Abundantly

We usually don’t post on Mondays, but today is my 2 year anniversary and I wanted to take some time to post… I could get all sentimental about how much I love my husband (but I’ll save that for just him) but instead I want to post about how very blessed I am by some specific people. So here’s a shout out to my sisters, and all the girls in my wedding party. I love all of you so very much, and this day, and this moment could not have been any sweeter. I will remember it for my whole life.   Anniversaries are a time to think about love, meaning of marriage, the fun wedding you had, and just how amazing the special people are in your life. So in honor of our blog, and my sisters, my bridesmaids, and my family… you NEED to watch this.

“Sisters” Wedding Speech

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Aren’t they the best!!!!! Here’s to two years :)

Bethany Signature48

One Day at a Time

The thing that helps me stay organized and focused is to just take one day at a time. As much as I hate taking time from my evening to prepare for the next day, it is a huge relief to wake up and know that I am ready. Now getting my kids ready? That’s a whole separate ball game. But at least I am ready! I even do my best to get dressed and ready before I even go in the girls’ room. This helps me stay focused on them and their needs during our crazy morning routine.

Something that helps me stay focused on one day at a time is to keep my calendar current and up-to-date. I have my physical calendar on the wall in the kitchen with handwritten plans and commitments, plus my icalendar on my phone. I make sure to keep both accurate to keep myself focused. I appreciate that I can set reminders on my phone. I usually do a one day before reminder and a second one hour before reminder to keep my schedule in check.

Another thing that gets me focused is to have short term goals throughout the day. For example, my goal is to have the girls fed and ready by 8am, so that when the two sweet girls I babysit and take to school arrive, we are mostly ready. Once my girls are ready I know that we can leave at the drop of a hat if needed. I have already packed the car the night before, or at least organized our bags to take to the car when we leave. That give me a little wiggle time to wash dishes or maybe even apply some mascara and brush my own teeth before we have to leave at 8:30.

My focus is just getting out the door. I know that if I have done my part to have things ready so that we can be out of the house for a few hours all I have to do is get myself and the kids out the door. Once we are in the car we can take one thing at a time as it comes. Just getting out the door sometimes is a huge feat and should always be celebrated!

Ready on time for dance class. GO MOMMY!

Ready on time for dance class. GO MOMMY!

Finally, take care of yourself. I go through periods of time where just taking care of my two kids is exhausting. The thought of making another lunch for myself just seems like too much. However, on the days I do take the time to pack something for me to eat too I am so much happier and better able to handle all the little bumps in our day. Don’t forget water too! I try pack a large cooler of water so that I can fill up my smaller bottle throughout our day to keep myself hydrated.

Are you able to focus on one day at a time? What tips could you share to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by your schedule and commitments?

Rach Signature48

The Eyes of Christ

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How do you “see” things? Do you really see them? Do you have a certain perspective? Do you have a tainted lens through which you look? Do you look past the way things appear? Or do you have an opinion before you even really look?

I ask myself these things because I want to see things differently. I want to have the eyes of Christ as I see the world. This doesn’t mean that I walk around blinded by a “Christian bias”. It means I see things in a way that I want more of the world. I want to see things in a way where I can be the hands and feet of Christ. I want to see people with love. I want to see situations with truth. I want to see things for the purpose of Christ.

The world has tainted our perspectives. The world has a lens that is always pushing us to want more, get more, and have more. But it is filled with emptiness, void, and lack of real reason. I don’t want to see with my eyes. My eyes don’t see the potential that Christ sees. He sees fullness and hope and abundance. I get blinded by doubt and skepticism and criticism. I want to see truth. I want to see love. And I want to see Christ. He is there. He is all around me. He is living in the creation around me, he is speaking in relationships I have, he is touching my heart through blessings, he is showing me provision through trials, and He is holding my hand every step of the way. I just have to open my eyes and walk in faith so I can really see.

Hebrews 12:1-3Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”

Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Colossians 3:12 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”

How can you change your vision? Do you see Christ?

Bethany Signature48

Memories Trunk

School is back in session! Sometimes you may be planning a mini party on the inside when this time of the year rolls around; in other moments, you may enjoy reminiscing on the fun family times from the summer or even think about the previous year and how your child has grown. A memories trunk is a fun craft to keep your child’s memories organized on the inside and the outside. It is also budget-friendly if you are willing to take the time! I decorated my trunk as a wedding gift that I gave to my now-husband with our engagement photos. Right now it is being used for storage, but eventually, when we have more space, I would love for it to be filled with memories of our love adventure! I am also now inspired to find one for each of our children in the future!DSC_6491

What you need:

Vintage Trunk

Paint and paintbrushes (Optional)

Stencils (Optional)

Photos

Mod podge

Embellishments (Optional)

How to:

1. Buy a trunk! It definitely took patience and determination to find a trunk in good shape for a reasonable price. But, I eventually found a great trunk at a thrift store for $60!

2. You may want to paint your trunk. My trunk started as a forest green color. I decided to paint the base of it as a more neutral color that would match better in our home. The top I painted purple to be more unique.

3. Embellish! Use stencils to put your child’s name. Find creative ways to spell our your child’s name – I used old typewriter keys, that I found at a swap meet, to spell out a phrase and date on my trunk.

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Put photos on the top of your trunk from your child’s first day of school each year to see how they change! Be creative with your photos – here are some great examples from ivillage.com…(Click on each photo to take you the its original link)

I Want to Be…See how your child’s dreams and ambitious develop as they grow up

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Picture Perfect – Child holds their first day of school photo from the year before

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Frame It – Create a cute frame for each year130674826657427283_kY4i22jV_f

First and Last Day of School

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Chalk It Up

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And one of my favorites, The Steps10615395_10154536074160392_553412276020882052_n

4. After you embellish the top (you can also use the inside of the top of the trunk), apply a few coats of mod podge!

5. Fill with your child’s schoolwork, photo prints, scrapbooks, photo books, and other memorabilia.

6. Continue this throughout your child’s time in high school. You may want to go through the trunk after each “graduation” (5th grade, 8th grade, high school) to decide what is really worth continuing to keep. Or if your really want to keep everything, take these times to organize the memorabilia from each year. You can either keep the trunk as a keepsake as your child goes to college or use it to give them their high school graduation gift allowing them to use it to make and keep new memories in college!

View of the top

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View of the inside

How have you kept and organized your child’s schoolwork and memories as they grow up or your own memories as you have grown up?

Bekah Signature48

 

Muffin Mania-Back to School Secrets

School is back in session and moms everywhere are adjusting to the early morning routine. Making lunches, serving a healthy breakfast, helping everyone get dressed for school and making sure all necessary items are in the backpack are just a few of the essential tasks that must be completed each morning. I remember a few secrets from school days that helped our family stay organized…

1. Lay out the childrens’ clothing the night before, including hair accessories, socks and shoes.

2. Organize the childrens’ backpacks the night before, making sure important papers, books and especially any permission slips or notes to be signed by a parent are completed. Get the sports/ dance/ music/art bags filled for after school activities.

3. Grab the brown bags or special lunch boxes the night before and fill with everything except the sandwich and place in the refrigerator. Then all you have to do in the morning is make the sandwiches.

4. Plan and prepare some healthy breakfast options so you are not rushed or stressed in the morning. Breakfast is a very important meal and a special time to connect and talk together and pray before everyone goes off to face their busy day.

I love to bake muffins and it is amazing how many delicious and nutritious foods you can add to a muffin. Muffins can be made ahead of time (they keep well for a few days in the refrigerator or for weeks in the freezer). Serve with fruit, yogurt or scrambled eggs for a super charged breakfast. They can also be wrapped and placed in their lunch boxes for a healthy snack.

Here are a few really YUMMY, kid friendly, adult craved muffin recipes:

Triple Berry Muffins

2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cup sugar (I used 1 cup coconut sugar and 1/2 cup honey)
24-28 ounces mixed berries ( I used 2 cups fresh blueberries and 1 1/2 cups of frozen thawed organic mixed berries)
4 eggs beaten
3/4 cup oil ( i used 1/2 cup coconut oil and 1/4 cup canola oil)
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten eggs and oil and stir slowly until the ingredients are blended. Add the berries and the nuts and fold in until the mixture is thick but completely blended. Do not beat with mixer or blend too many times or muffins get tough and dense. Batter will be thick. Spray muffin tins and fill almost to the top. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the top is done but not brown. Makes 24 muffins.IMG_3433

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Banana Bran Muffins

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup unprocessed wheat bran
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
3 large or 4 medium bananas mashed
1 egg
½ cup honey
¼ cup brown sugar (can use coconut sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1/4 cup coconut oil (can use canola)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.IMG_3443 Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl.IMG_3442 Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix slowly and carefully until moistened. Add the walnuts and raisins and fold into moist dough. DO NOT OVERMIX-it will make your muffins dense and tough. Spoon muffin mix into greased muffin tins and bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.Makes 12 muffins or 24-30 bite-sized muffins.

 

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Applesauce Apple Muffins

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup unprocessed bran
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup coconut oil (you can use canola)
¾ cup applesauce
1 egg
2 medium apples chopped fine
½ cup walnuts chopped (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl.Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients and stir carefully. Add the chopped apples and walnuts and fold in gently. Batter will be moist and thick. Remember- do not over mix the muffin dough. Spoon dough into greased muffin tins and bake in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes until tops are light golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 12 muffins.IMG_3446 IMG_3448 IMG_3449
Enjoy!!!

What helpful ideas do you have for making school day morning run smoothly?

Kerry Signature48

Last Minute Moms…We Are Enough!

Today I am feeling compelled to encourage my fellow “last minute” moms. You know us as the ones always scrambling, always a bit frazzled, and rarely completely done up head to toe (I personally pick one thing whether it be “real” clothes, make-up on, hair done, etc.).

I know I have thousands of things pinned on Pinterest collecting dust. However, I do know that even when I don’t have great activities planned out or fabulous meals on the table, my kids are for the most part HAPPY.

Ellie’s new thing is to ask me each morning, “What are we doing today?” Usually I have one or two things to tell her, but after each activity it is always the same question: “What’s next?” I often feel bad or guilty that I don’t have something planned and ready to go in the afternoon. While there is nothing wrong with being a planned, Pinterest-worthy mom, (in fact, I salute you!) there is also nothing wrong with leaving room to be creative and come up with things on the fly.

Most of our activities stem from some interests the kids have that day or week. I whipped up our Mailbox activity one day that Ellie was curious and interested in mail. Yesterday we were putting together our new stroller and my husband turned the box into a spaceship that we filled with toys and then let the kids sit inside the box and color. Brilliant!

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I think time that isn’t planned is great for the kids’ creativity too. Ellie will create elaborate tea parties or trips to the zoo all on her own. I’m having a lot of fun seeing what she can imagine.

In closing, I just wanted to encourage you that it is enough to just be present with your kids. Even if we just sit with them and watch a show. Letting them know that we love them and are near them is enough! One day we will get to all those amazing pins on Pinterest. Maybe one day we will even make our snack foods from scratch. But if today isn’t that day, throw a few pouches and fruit snacks in your diaper bag before you head out the door and put a smile on your face because YOU ARE ENOUGH!!

(And if you do want an excellent last minute craft. Find a large box and some crayons. Put your kids in the box with the crayons and voila! fun activity with little to no clean-up)

Rach Signature48

Mexican Rice

Use this recipe with the following recipes to make a full meal
Mexican Taco Cupcakes
Mexican Marinade
Salsa #1
Salsa #2

Mexican Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1(14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1(4 ounce) can diced green chiles (optional)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, low sodium (optional, chicken broth)

Directions

In a large skillet or sauce pan add oil, turn to medium-low heat and saute onion until tender, about 4 minutes.

Add garlic and continue to saute one additional minute.

Add remaining ingredients, cover, reduce heat and simmer on low for approximately 45 minutes or until rice has soaked up the liquid and is tender. (NOTE: The time it takes to cook rice depends on the brand. 35-60minutes)

Remove from heat, leave covered and allow to set 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from http://skinnyms.com

Bethany Signature48

Decorating on a Budget-Part 2

It is 11:30 pm and Bekah is still sorting and organizing the new home she and Ashkon moved into 2 weeks ago. So I am her ghost writer tonight. Today, we had a successful adventure searching for the best deals we could find. We were looking for creative ways to store useful items in her home in an organized manner. Buying new pieces of furniture was definitely NOT in their budget so we brainstormed all the places that might have things we could use. We hunted for inexpensive things that could be used for functional storage spaces. We saved a lot of time and money by being prepared with all kinds of coupons, discount codes and special apps on our phone. We had a strategy for which stores to start with and what to look for in each store.

Here are some things Bekah did before we left that gave us the upper hand for our “Decorating on a Budget”.

1. Look up each store online to discover their weekly ads and markdowns and print up any available online coupons.

2. Take advantage of the in-store specials.

3. Check to see if the stores you are going to have apps on your phone and have all the items you wish to buy designated before hand on the app. (Target’s Cartwheel app is fantastic!)

4. Check for coupons that come in the mail, in magazines or in flyers that you may have picked up the last time you were in the store. Some stores even give you coupons on your most recent receipt, but you have to keep an eye on the expiration date on those receipt coupons.

5. Check your email for free membership subscribers coupons that come to your inbox once or twice a week and print out any coupons you need. Some of these memberships will text the coupons to you as well.

6. Use your smart phone to check prices for competitors in case the store you are in does price matching. And, if you know that your smart phone shows a lower price than what you see in the store, do not hesitate to ask for the store manager to see if he or she will honor the online coupon or sale price.

7. Pull up the most recent coupons for each store while you are in the store

8. Always remember to ask for Military or Student/Teacher discounts when checking out.

So 5 hours of shopping and 5 hours working in the apartment-building shelves, setting up creative wall units, moving furniture around in a few rooms and filling all kinds of baskets and clear plastic bins we are heading to bed. We even had time to hang a functional shelf and a hat/coat holder. A full day of fun and a home that is almost done. I have a handful of receipts in my purse and every single one of them has a big $$$$$ saved written on the bottom.Mission accomplished!!!

Pictures to follow when Bekah has all her home finished.

Kerry Signature48Bekah Signature48

Redecorating on a Budget

Moving can be stressful, but it can also be fun. The challenge of creating an organized living space on a budget has reminded me of my first 15 years of marriage. We lived in 7 different cities and 13 different homes in those early years, so I became the queen of reorganizing and redecorating on a budget. Today the possibilities are endless with all the retail stores that focus on organizing closets, kitchens, bedrooms etc, but when you are on a tight budget you need to do your research and find the best deals possible.

My daughter and her husband are just settling into their new apartment and I came to give them a hand. They had found a fantastic deal on a dining room table and four chairs but the cushions on the chairs needed to be recovered. So we headed out to the local fabric store with coupons in hand. She chose some beautiful canvas style a pollsters fabric that was on sale and we headed home to recover the cushions.

Start to finish, the project took about 2-3 hours but it was worth the time because the new covers for the chair cushions completely changed the look of the table and chairs. Here are the tools you need.

2 yards heavy duty canvas or upholstery
Staple gun and light duty staples
Screw driver
Scissors

Remove the cushions from the frame work of the chair with your screw driver.image

Place the cushions one by one, face down on wrong side of canvas fabric.
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Cut out squares of fabric the size of the cushion plus 6 extra inches all the way around. ( a 16 by 16 seat cushion needs a piece of fabric cut into a 28 by 28 square)

Place the cushion onto the wrong side of the square of fabric and center it. Begin on one side by pulling the fabric up and over. Fold under at least 2inches to create a finished edge and pull tight over the cushion frame and staple down. Do the same thing on the opposite side. Follow these same directions for the two remaining side making sure to pull tight and keep the cushion centered. Keep the staples to a minimum until you have your corners finished so you can pull the sides tighter at the end.image
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To finish off the corners you must make a fold like you are tucking your bed sheet at the corners. Pull and fold and staple each piece to make a crisp and nicely finished corner.
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Go around the entire frame and pull and staple to secure the fabric all the way around.image

Place the newly covered cushion on the chair frame and screw back in place.image

Repeat these directions for all of your cushions.

Viola, you have a refurbished dining room table.image

One quick and easy way to redecorate on a budget.

What redecorating projects have you tried?

Kerry Signature48