DIY Valentine’s

I love holidays. LOVE holidays. BUT…

I also have a huge panic attack when I realize that holidays = parties = expectations that I’m a super awesome Pinterest mom who can whip out the cutest ever gifts to exchange. (This expectation is 100% self-imposed).

Well, I’m here to tell you that you can be SUPER AWESOME without braking the bank or losing your mind trying to come up with crafty crafts because there are super-talented moms that have done all the work for you. GOD BLESS PINTEREST (sometimes).

We have 3 different exchanges to prepare for, so I picked 3 seemingly easy to prep DIY Valentine’s with free printables and allergy-free snack options.

How cute is this CUTIES Valentine from Happy Money Saver? I love cuties. They are good for all occasions, right?!!

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I instantly fell in love with this BEAR HUG Valentine from Bloom Designs

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And how cute is this DIY craft? I’m totally going to have the girls make this for family members!

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I am feeling 100% better and more prepared after my search and I am glad I was able to find some ideas that fit my needs.

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My Favorite Valentine’s.

What Valentine’s do you plan to make this year?

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What’s your Why?

With Valentines day around the corner, I have been trying to think deeply about love, who I am, who God is, and who He created me to be. This past weekend I was challenged to describe myself without any title, without what I do, and without using anything about my job. It was all about who I am. It was really a challenge.  Do you think you could do that? Describe yourself without a title, position, or what you do.  Write it down.

This whole thing got me thinking about the TED talk by Simon Sinek “Start with Why”. His whole premise is figuring out what really drives you.  Not the how or the what in what you do, but the why! 

What is the reason you do what you do. This circle needs to work from the inside out. Not the outside in.  The why you do what you do should drive the how you do it, which ultimately drives the what. The why gives context and meaning. Who are you? Speak from who you are. Speak from the authenticity and trust of knowing who you are and living in that. Put your feelings into words. Combining your language and feelings is hard.

Start with

  1. Clarity of Why
  2. Discipline of How
  3. Consistency of What

Your why compels you. It reminds you of why you are doing what you do. Be compelled to make an impact. Be encouraged to make a difference. You are unique. You are talented. And you have potential to have a positive impact. And the more you know why you do what you do, the greater impact you can have.

So why am I thinking about this? Why do I love what I love? What makes me who I am? Not my title or what I do, but my core, my inside, my feelings, my desires. I want to be able to know that and live it out. I want to be able to love bigger and better. I want to be able to express myself and find power in my why. You can too!

  • Describe yourself without a title, position, or what you do.
  • Whats your why?
  • Live it out

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Further resources:

Valentine’s Day Crafts and Friendship

Celebrating Valentine’s Day can extend to giving and sharing more love than just the love you have for your spouse, kids, grandkids and extended family. Tonight we spread the love around as we gathered for a Valentine’s craft night. I personally love crafts of all kinds so I will clear my schedule anytime for a gathering of women who want to do crafts. One dear friend opened her beautiful home for us to gather, another friend found some projects on Pinterest that we could make and she brought all the supplies. I sent out an email invitation and encouraged people to bring friends. We each contributed some money to cover the cost of the supplies. Add some delicious and nutritious snacks and you have the perfect Ladies Night Out!!! The extra treat of fellowship time with a group of beloved girl friends adds a bonus that can’t be beat!
And LOOK WHAT WE MADE!!!!

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What you will need to make the Valentine’s Tree:
-A variety of colored and patterned scrapbook paper
– A small pot
– Floral foam
– Wire
– Wire cutters or scissors you don’t mind cutting wire with
– Glue gun
– BBQ skewer sticks
– Fabric
– Wooden heart or make one from cardboard.
– Moss or rafia
– Ribbon

What you do:

1-Paint your pot with acrylic paint and allow to dry about 30 minutes. When dry, place floral foam in pot and insert stick in place.  Set aside.
 2- Cut a long piece of wire, at least 18 inches
3 – Next, cut your variety of papers in to 8 pieces. 2 ½ inches wide and 6, 5 ½, 5, 4 ½, 4. 3 ½, 3 and 2 ½ inches in length. Accordion fold each piece by folding in half with wrong sides together and then fold each side in half again
 4- Center your wire at the base of the sticks and wrap it around them one time.  You want it centered so that the wires are equal on both sides.  (think shoe lace and how you want both laces even when tying them)
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5- Now, starting at the base, attach the 6 inch strip of colored or patterned paper to the base of the sticks.  The easiest way to do this is to wrap the wires so that they form an X over the front of the accordioned paper.  Then, wrap the wires behind the sticks and bring them around to the front so that they are ready for the next paper.
6-  From here we just keep adding more colored or patterned papers. Continue with each piece 5 ½, 5, 4 ½, 4, 3 ½, 3, 2 ½ in order. Repeat until you have all the colored papers attached to the stick.
7-  Now we decorate.  Add a little moss and a small ribbon to the base like shown below. Add a cut out heart to the top. Decorate your Valentine’s Day tree with paper hearts for fun.
The other crafters worked on Valentine’s Day cards and they turned out absolutely fantastic! We talked, encouraged one another, we even sang songs and planned some fun events for the future. We feasted on delicious snacks and all in all it was a perfect night!!!
.FullSizeRender-4 FullSizeRender-5 FullSizeRender-6 FullSizeRender-8 FullSizeRender-9When is the last time you got together with girl friends for a fun night of crafting, relaxation and fellowship?
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Simple, Delicious Homemade Guacamole

This weekend is Super Bowl Sunday which means lots of yummy food! Chips, salsa, and guacamole are staple football game foods – so this year, WOW your friends with this delicious homemade guacamole that is sure to impress! And, you don’t even have to skimp on your New Year health goals with this recipe! Avocados have so many health benefits – check out a few here from Best Health. If you are devoted to stay committed to your health goals, try this recipe with your favorite veggies instead of chips!

Now, I have to give credit where credit is due – I always have my husband make this recipe because it is so delicious when he does! However, tonight was the first time we actually measured out the ingredients together (I’m a recipe follower and he’s more of a wing-it kinda guy in the kitchen), and it was the best guacamole we have ever had! He likes adding more kick to his (see the optional ingredient below) but he knows I like it better without so he usually won’t add it if he knows I want some.

If you are making this recipe for a larger group, I would definitely double (or triple) it, as I’m guessing it will go fast :)

IMG_7996Ingredients:

4 Large Avocados

1/4 Cup Pace Salsa

1/2 tsp Garlic Salt

1/4 tsp Pepper

One Lemon

(Optional) Tapatio Sauce (Add to taste)

Directions:

  1. Cut open avocados, remove pit, and add insides to a large bowl. Mash up.
  2. Add all other ingredients to the mashed avocados, except for the lemon, and mix together.
  3. Cut the lemon in quarters and squeeze one quarters worth of juice into the bowl (Make sure no seeds fall into the guac). Mix and add more to taste but do not add more than an additional quarter lemon.
  4. If you want your guacamole to have a bit of a kick, add some Tapatio sauce to taste. Be careful not to add too much at first as it can make the guac pretty spicy!


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Need some help with your avocados?? Here are a few helpful tips from PureWow.com for the Best Way to Ripen a Hard Avocado.

What you need: An apple, a brown paper bag and that not-quite-ready avocado

What you do: Place the apple and the avocado together in the bag, then fold over the opening as best you can to seal it off. Let the fruits sit together overnight and–voilà! You’ll have a ripe avocado, ready to be enjoyed.

Why this works: Apples give off ethylene, a naturally occurring gas required for the ripening process.

So does this work with other fruits and veggies? Yup! Bananas, corn, tomatoes…sometimes nature just needs a little help.

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Simple, Delicious Homemade Guacamole
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 4 Large Avocados
  • ¼ Cup Pace Salsa
  • ½ tsp Garlic Salt
  • ¼ tsp Pepper
  • One Lemon
  • (Optional) Tapatio Sauce (Add to taste)
Instructions
  1. Cut open avocados, remove pit, and add insides to a large bowl. Mash up.
  2. Add all other ingredients to the mashed avocados, except for the lemon, and mix together.
  3. Cut the lemon in quarters and squeeze one quarters worth of juice into the bowl (Make sure no seeds fall into the guac). Mix and add more to taste but do not add more than an additional quarter lemon.
  4. If you want your guacamole to have a bit of a kick, add some Tapatio sauce to taste. Be careful not to add too much at first as it can make the guac pretty spicy!

Fun With Grandparents

My girls are SO blessed to have in-laws that live close by and a large loving family to care for them so that I can get some much needed breaks and date nights with my husband. Mommy breaks are so important for a mom’s well-being and it is so important for kids to foster a relationship with their family or other caregivers.

My in-laws are THE BEST. They are so creative and willing to do whatever the girls want.

I wanted to help out and set up a little fun for everybody for today when I sneak off to Disneyland with my girlfriends…SHHHH!! Don’t tell.

A friend shared a DIY play dough recipe and I figured it was the PERFECT time to try it. 2016 is all about stepping out of my comfort zone to try and learn new things! I decided to put this Play Dough recipe from Imagination Tree to the test!

Ingredients:

2 cups plain all purpose flour

2 TBS vegetable oil

1/2 cup salt

2 TBS cream of tartar

Up to 1.5 cups hot water plus food coloring

Directions:

Mix the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl. Add food coloring to the boiling water. (I definitely could have used A LOT more color!! So don’t be shy). Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky dough. Allow the dough to cool. (This only took a few minutes). After the dough is cool take it out of the bowl and knead until all of the stickiness is gone. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP SO KEEP ON KNEADING! Add a touch of flour if the stickiness doesn’t go away. ENJOY your new creation!!

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Excited to make play dough. This was a very kid friendly activity. We like to take turns with ingredients and practice our counting and pouring!

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Excited to add the food coloring and boiling water! We chose HULK green.

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You can see I could have added A LOT more color! Mixed and ready to cool.

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A visual for how much one batch made.

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Hooray for homemade Play dough. So excited!

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It truly was FUN and as easy as promised. Nothing like a successful Pinterest craft to make you feel like a real supermom! I can’t wait to see how it goes tomorrow with the girls. They are very excited.

What are you favorite things for your kids to do with grandparents or other caregivers?

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Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

It’s soup season, still! Here’s another great one that I make all the time.

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Throw it all in a crockpot, let it cook all day, and enjoy!
Author:
Recipe type: Crock Pot Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 2 peppers
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1-2 cans of black beans
  • 1 cup of salsa
  • 2 cans of mexican stewed tomatoes
  • 3-4 cans of chicken broth
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1 tbs chili powder
  • 2 lbs of chicken (frozen or raw)
  • Optional add ins: zucchini, spinach, rice
  • Optional toppings: rice, sour cream, chips, cilantro, avocado
Instructions
  1. Dice the tomatoes, celery, and peppers. Add the corn black beans salsa tomatoes and salsa. Pour in chicken broth and seasonings and stir. Set the crockpot to 4-5 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low (depending on frozen or raw chicken). After the chicken is cooked, pull it out and shred it or cut into smaller pieces. Put it back in the crock pot to soak into the rest of the soup.
  2. Enjoy!

 

Get a Jump-Start on Your Spring Cleaning!

Clutter can be a real negative influence on the health of our minds and bodies. During the fun activities of the holiday season it becomes so easy to put many important aspects of life on hold (especially cleaning and organizing) until the busyness calms down (or should I say IF the busyness calms down). This year, don’t let that happen! Let’s be more prepared and not wait until Spring to free ourselves from the stress of clutter. There are fun ways to clean and organize your home and I am going to share one of those ways with you today!

ThredUP is the name of my recommendation for de-cluttering your closet and/or improving it on a budget.

“thredUP is the easiest way to save money on great Women’s and Kids’ clothing brands and sell clothes for cash. We’re like a consignment store, but simpler. On thredUP you can refresh your entire wardrobe online without ever leaving your house.”

Browse thousands of like-new clothing items, which we’ve hand-selected and certified for quality. You’ll find all your favorite brands discounted up to 90% off, year-round.

And, when you’re done with clothing, simply fill up a thredUP bag and put it on your doorstep. thredUP covers the shipping, and pays you for every item we can sell to other families.

Our goal is to make your life just a little bit easier.

  • We eliminate the stress of deal hunting by offering consistent discounts every day.
  • We take the hassle out of bringing your kids into a store by allowing you to thredUP online.
  • We relieve that recycling guilt by helping you lighten your family’s carbon-footprint with every order.

Ready to give thredUP a try? We think you’ll love what you find. 

I was ready to try! It is so simple! Once I had completed my own process of de-cluttering, I quickly found the link to order my “Clean Out Bag” from thredUP for FREE! My bag arrived in the mail within 3 days. I filled the bag to the brim! I sent out my bag (with a Prepaid Packaging Label) making some much needed space in my closet and made some extra cash, too! 😀

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If you want to start your Fall Cleaning in a fun, unique way – Click the link below to get your first Clean Out Bag! And, you might even make some money! :)

https://www.thredup.com/cleanout

OUR STANDARDS:

DEFECT-FREE, ON-TREND, TOP BRANDS

Some Top Brands include J.Crew, Gap, Calvin Klein, Kate Spade, Lululemon, H&M and more.    See all accepted brands here.

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HOW IT WORKS??

https://www.thredup.com/p/cleanout-how-it-works

Learn more about the Evaluation Process, Payout, and What Happens to Unaccepted Items in the link above!

Once you are done de-cluttering, treat yourself to a few new items…start shopping today!

Cleaning and organizing is so great for your health! Don’t let anymore of this new year pass before you get your closet and life more organized! Putting in the work now will make a huge difference for the rest of your year – and it will be so worth it!

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Love in Action

Falling in love through service is an incredible experience. When your heart is moved by an unmet need and you know that you are being called to participate in fulfilling that need, an instantaneous thing happens in your heart-you fall in love with the people you are serving. TRUE greatness in this world comes through serving others. True love also comes when you give 100% to another person and that happens through serving one another.

This weekend, I attended a Gogo Grandmothers Board meeting where I spent a glorious day with friends renewing our hearts and reaffirming our commitment for the continued work being accomplished in Malawi. I feel so privileged to be a board member for the SAFE /Gogo Grandmothers ministry and have loved every minute of my time serving with the other members of the board. (SAFE stands for Sub-Saharan Family Enrichment) We serve a mighty God who moves in mighty ways! My current project involves organizing a manual for preparing groups who want to go have a hands on experience in Malawi with the SAFE/Gogo Grandmothers ministry. I am excited for the day when I get to go meet the Gogos and the staff in Malawi. It will be a blessing to someday meet the people that my heart already loves.

Here is a chart from the 2015 End of Year report that shows how our ministry has grown because of people like you who have joined in to serve and put their Love in Action!FullSizeRender

Gogo Grandmothers provides for the orphans of AIDS in Malawi, Africa by assisting the grandmothers who care for them. In America, and across the world, individuals and Gogo Grandmothers groups (often uniting women who are grandmothers themselves) gather monthly to pray and carry out fund-raising projects that provide what poor “gogos” in Malawi need to raise the orphans whose parents have died due to the ravages of AIDS in their country. In Africa, the “gogos” (grandmothers) who receive assistance in the villages gather monthly to be encouraged, to hear God’s Word, pray and to learn how to care for their grandchildren and other orphaned children in their villages.

Look at these faces and read the “Did you know” facts that accompany each photo….. These are the faces of the new people I love…I have never met them but my heart is drawn towards them all because I have taken the risk of joining in, making myself vulnerable and jumping into serving these beautiful women and children that live in Malawi, Africa. Join me in learning more about the Gogo grandmothers organization. As you look at these pictures and read these facts…maybe you will “Fall in Love” as I have and want to join in serving these orphans and widows. For more information go to www.gogograndmothers.com, and join us on Facebook-Gogo Grandmothers or instagram-gogograndmothers. The new film Love in Action is available to watch on Youtube by clicking here.FullSizeRender-3Fact #1: Did you know that…In 2015, the World Bank determined that the poorest country in the world is…Malawi?

 FullSizeRender-5Fact #2: Did you know that…in Malawi, with a population of 16.5 million people, there are over one million orphaned children?FullSizeRender-1

Fact #3 Did you know that…in Malawi, the official languages are English and Chichewa?

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Fact #4 Did you know that…..in Malawi, the chichewa word for “grandparent” is GOGO?

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Fact #5 Did you know that…most of the Gogo grandmothers survive by subsistence farming and they are truly the poorest of the poor?

FullSizeRender-6Fact #6 Did you know that…because the people are so warm and cheerful, Malawi is nicknamed the “Warm Heart of Africa”? FullSizeRender-4Fact #7 Did you know that…1 in 5 Malawians live in extreme poverty (less than US 20 cents per day) and cannot afford to feed themselves?…46% of children are “stunted” in growth because they do not have enough food! FullSizeRender-7Fact #8 Did you know that…when you “sponsor” a Gogo, you get to provide the basics of life not only for her, but also for her orphaned grandchildren (often 3 or more)?

I would love to have many of you who feel the heart tug join me as we put our LOVE IN ACTION! You can pray for the Gogo Grandmothers groups in America and for the Gogos and the staff working for the ministry in Malawi. You can sponsor a Gogo or give a one time donation to the Joseph Project.

Join me in serving and you too will Fall in Love as you Serve! Put your LOVE IN ACTION!

Kerry Signature48

Have More Happy

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Proverbs 17:22

I’ve been learning a lot about how important it is to take care of yourself and pour into yourself so that you can better serve and love on others! One of the best ways to do that is to be filled with joy and do things that make you happy!

One thing that fills my heart with joy is going to Disneyland with my girls. We just love it. Yes, it takes a lot of work to pack up our food and gear and make a day of it. Yes, it makes me tired. BUT sharing the experience together and seeing their happy faces makes it worth it to me.

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It is the same way with exercise. It’s never easy to make that time, but the rewards outweigh any excuse I might make. And fitness makes me so happy. It is one of my passions.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to Have More Happy:

  1. Be Grateful. Start your day with gratitude so you are focused on all the blessings in your life.
  2. LAUGH! Do things that make you laugh, hang out with people that make you laugh. Watch a funny movie. Watch funny clips on YouTube. I recommend Jimmy Fallon Hashtag skits. They are hilarious.
  3. Add value to others. Give, serve, tell someone you love them, connect and listen.
  4. Take care of yourself. Drink water, get sleep, nourish your body. When you feel good on the inside it shows on the outside!
  5. Surround yourself with joyful people. Who we spend the most time with has a HUGE influence on our attitude and behavior so choose wisely.
  6. DREAM. Make plans and goals that you can get excited about – enough to make you jump out of bed every morning ready for the day!
  7. Do things you enjoy.
  8. Move your body. There are so many ways to get fit. Find something you love and make time for it.
  9. Learn. Learning is good for your brain and learning and accomplishing something new is a great way to build yourself up.
  10. Remember the true source of all joy – GOD and be filled with His presence in your life!! (Psalms 89:15-17 NKJV) Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance. {16} In Your name they rejoice all day long, And in Your righteousness they are exalted. {17} For You are the glory of their strength, And in Your favor our horn is exalted.

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Honesty is the Best Policy

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We always think of lying in terms of saying something that is not true… But sometimes, avoiding being honest, manipulating the truth, not saying enough, or just not saying anything is a form of a lie. Yes there is a time and a place to keep your mouth shut… but other times, its time to speak up. If you are in the middle of processing through something and it’s better to keep working through it before you say anything… you can say “I need more time”.  If you are going to speak out of a reaction rather than a response, maybe think about counting to 10…  But the worst thing you could do is bottle it all up, let it ruminate, let it turn into bitterness, and let it EXPLODE a few days later.  Be honest with yourself, be honest with others, be honest with the Lord.  Don’t keep it all in. We weren’t created to figure this life out by ourselves.  Even in the context of prayer, ask for help. Yes the Lord already knows what we are going to talk about. But still ask, still pray, still be open.  The Lord still wants the honesty, the worship, and our awareness.  We can’t hide anything from him.  But we still try.  So why not be real with ourselves and be honest with God.  He knows exactly what we are thinking, exactly what we are going through, and exactly how it ends.  In terms of relationships, sometimes being honest hurts a little bit at first, but it always ends up better in the end.  When something is brought up weeks later it comes as a shock to the person on the receiving end. Sometimes even a shock to yourself to realize you have been holding it all in for so long. Certain situations, there may be a time and a place to let things stay in as you process through them.  Other situations, you may just need to hold in whatever exaggerated emotion you are feeling because it may be an overreaction.

But when you can be honest, do it.  Let yourself work through whatever it is that is going on in your mind and heart.  Let others in to what is going on with you so that they can be a part of it and be involved in your life. And on an even greater level, Let God be God.  Let him into everything so that he can be in control and in return be glorified.

Now don’t take this and go call ten friends and tell them you are upset with them.  Start by changing the honesty in your heart and be honest with yourself.  Start bringing honesty into your life on a more regular basis.  Just as little white lies create habits and turn into big lies… honesty can work the same way. Be honest, and it needs to be step by step, you need to start somewhere. Wouldn’t you want to be described as an honest and genuine person?  Well… start today!

Think about a time that was hard to be honest, but you did it anyway?                                  How did it turn out?
Think about a situation you are in today where you could be a little more honest.         How can you do that?

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