Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bring Peace Back to Your Home

I love the still and the quiet. I love that I am alone with my thoughts.  With little voices surrounding my world, the quiet is a precious commodity.  But so are those little voices.  One day those little voices with their mispronounced words and high pitch will evolve into perfectly sounded out sentences.  And I will miss the incessant noise they once used to make.  I am so grateful that we made the choice for me to be a stay at home mom.  It wasn't easy at first.  When Sparkle was a newborn, my husband worked three jobs and I rarely saw him.  When Shine was born, I would catch my husband staring down at her little face in awe.  He would say that he doesn't remember Sparkle being that little or doing certain things.  I was such a young mom.  When all my friends from high school were just graduating from college, I had already completed my term in the military and had given birth to my first child.  I was engaged at nineteen, joined the military and was married by the time I was twenty.  Sparkle was born when I was twenty-three.  I look back almost eight years ago and I can't believe that much time has gone by.  And I was missing it....

It was being swallowed up with dance classes, playdates, music classes, soccer practices, errands and busyness.  And it sucked.  I was being eaten alive by the chaos.  I remember back when Sparkle used to ask me to play with her and I would always tell her, "Mommy can't right now."  And you know what?  She stopped asking.  I remember the day I realized that she no longer asked me to sit with her and set up her My Little Ponies or Princesses.  And it nearly broke me.  But still my schedule didn't change. I kept running a million miles an hour and let those minutes tick away.  Those precious minutes that I will never, ever get back.  I barely remember those times with her when she was a toddler and a preschooler.  I just remember being so consumed with college and my budding photography business and MLM business that we were involved in. 

Before when people would ask me how I fit it all in, I would just smile and say, "You can always do more."  Like it was a flipping badge of honor.  And pardon me when I say, "eff that."  It's not a badge of honor to see how many bible studies that you can fit in your week, how many sporting practices you can get in, or what enrichment activity you have scheduled for the day.  YOU are their enrichment activity.  Your children don't want all that junk.  They want you.  And it took me nearly eight years to figure that out.  This year, I wiped my entire schedule clean.  I took out preschool, Girl Scouts (for more than one reason), two bible studies, running errands every single day, and general busyness.  My home is clean, my children are happy.  They are growing and learning.  They aren't stressed out from having to take a break from what THEY want to do, to run all over the free world running errands for mom.  They get to play ALLLLLLLLLLLL day.  They take their naps on time.  Sparkle gets her school work done and cleans her room.  She read four Magic Treehouse books in one week.   They play with pearler beads, play dough and water beads.  They color and we do art projects.  This week, I have "making homemade mozzarella" on our homeschool agenda.  I have had time to curriculum plan and map out what next school year will look like and I couldn't be more excited and satisfied with where God is directing out family.  I also have time to look at my growing baby and spend time with JUST her when the big girls are playing.  I work on her standing and walking and new words.  I snuggled with Shine and play Legos with Sparkle.  Things that used to seem so insignificant before and now I count down the minutes until I get to do it again.  Today, while at the doctor's office, Sparkle asked me to read a book to her three times.  And I told her no each time because I was "too busy" trying to correct an error I made with ordering something for my photography business.  I should have put down my phone, pulled her into my lap, gangly arms and legs and all, and read that stinking book to her.  I am telling myself daily, "Will I regret telling them no on this?"  Chances are that if I take the time to be what they need to be right at that moment that I will not regret it.  But I will ALWAYS regret not taking the time.  I truly hate that I have told my oldest no on so many things that she just stopped asking.  When those sweet little words come out of Shine's little three year old mouth, I do stop.  And I do play.  I have to help myself with Sparkle now.  I just walk into her room and sit down and build legos with her, or jump on the trampoline with her or sit and listen to her read to me.  I don't need to multitask.  I don't need to hurry and most of all, I don't need her to hurry.  Just be little and enjoy it. 

I brought the peace back.  And it started with making the choice to not be a busy body.  There is a reason that God tells women in 2 Thessalonians 3:11 "For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies."  That was me.  The "doing no work" part really got under my skin.  I was busting my rear end all day long.  But nothing was really getting done.  The clean laundry sat piled up in my guestroom, the dishes were stacked in the sink, the floor was covered in crumbs.  Someone once told me that she would rather have a dirty house and happy children than a clean house and grumpy kids.  I didn't have either.  But I sure was busy all day.  I stay home most of the day now.  I might venture out and grab a coke but that's just down the street.  And then we are home.  We have slow mornings where we snuggle, watch the sun come up, make breakfast, talk about the dreams we had the night before, give morning breath kisses, and focus on what we want the day to look like.  We pull out the school work and start laundry.  We take breaks and give encouragement and focus.  We play.  We read.  We create.  We love.  And we have peace.  Sweet, sweet peace. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Little Sickies

My daughter and I are recovering from an awful sinus infection.  My husband was kind enough to share his with us.  I am taking full advantage of the fact that she keeps falling asleep on the couch.  I rarely have the opportunity to watch her sleep, much less get photos of her sleeping.  I adore watching my children sleep.  They look so small and innocent.  When Shine fell asleep yesterday, I snapped a ton of photos and tried to focus on the things that represent her. 
 Those curls that are just as unruly as she is. 

 Her sweet little face!  Does it get any cuter???
 She loves this little lizard I picked up in the dollar section at Target.  She loves this thing.  She carried it with her everywhere.

 I love her little eye lashes.  One day she will be wearing make up (maybe....) and going out with friends and eventually getting married.  But for now, she's three.  And she's mine.  And she's little.  I love how raw she is when she is awake, so this is extra tender for me.  She rarely stops moving. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Resurrection Garden Homeschool Project

With Easter coming up quickly, a seasonal project needed to be done.  But with my recent "clear out everything on my schedule" move, I have been focusing on just being home.  Cleaning and working on my projects and homeschooling.  But I have totally neglected the fun aspect of doing projects with my girls.  Thankfully I have a friend with ten children who planned a super adorable project complete with a bible study for me to carry on with my daughters afterwards.

We had quite the little helpers!  The sticks in everyone's mouths are actually suckers. 

 Little and big helpers!
 Starting out on the gardens.

 And what Easter project wouldn't be complete without a bible story!

 Now lets add some grass seeds!
 Little C had his own version of a garden that he was creating...

So I have set out to plan a few projects for my girls and I to do this April.  I really want them to remember the fun things that we do and not that mommy spent the whole time they were growing up on her own projects, cleaning or making phone calls.  I think about all the weeks that I have missed being able to do a project with them and that makes me so sad. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Crib Bedding Blog Series

It is finally coming!!!  And it is finally announced!!  The crib tutorial blog series is starting on May 1st on Celebrate Everydays!!!

In this series I will be doing tutorials on a crib blanket, boutique bumpers, color block curtains, ruffled crib skirt, three decorative pillows, ribbon car seat blanket and boutique burp cloths.  Everything you need for a baby's nursery and beyond. 

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Pig in a Blanet & Portable Pizza Recipes

When I was growing up my hometown school system had the best food.  I am fairly sure they sprinkled something illegal on everything (except the pizza) to make all the kids love the food.  I went to the same school system my whole school life.  First grade through my senior year, I was surrounded by deliciousness.  The highly coveted pigs in a blanket, cinnamon rolls and regular rolls were traded for such things like, your Oreo cookies for an entire month or your fruit roll ups for the entire year.  A single roll was currency.  A black market for third graders.  Sick really. 

I set out to recreate the bread.  I've tried it several times.  I tried a regular white bread recipe.  Nope.  Too dry.  There was a chewiness that was missing.  I tried a pizza dough.  Which ended up being closer.  But still something was missing. Then I found it.  After searching for nearly ten year, the wait was finally over.  I found a foodie blog that was just as snooty with her food as I had become.  Aiming at culinary perfection using her own hands and not something out of a box.  I used this recipe and then altered it slightly to give it that *kiss* that it needed.

The original recipe came from Confections of a Foodie Bride and I will be posting some of her recipe.  But I altered the process so much that there's no point in showing it all.  I encourage you to take a look around her blog!

Here's what you will need:

  • 2 pkgs (or 4 tsp) dry active yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, (I added about 2 Tbsps because I wanted a very chewy bread)
  • (My ingredients) Hebrew National hot dogs or whatever brand you prefer
  • Mozzarella cheese sticks
Here's what you do:
  • Place water and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and sprinkle the yeast over top.
  • Let stand for 10 minutes - if your yeast doesn't swell or get frothy, buy new yeast.
  • Add the olive oil, salt, and flour.
  • With the mixer on low, mix until the dough comes together and mostly off the sides of the bowl (it will not come all the way off of the bottom). You can add flour by the tablespoon if necessary.
  • Let the mixer run for 5 minutes to knead the dough. It should be smooth and slightly sticky. (This part is very important.  Too dense and the bread won't be pleasantly tender and moist.)
  • Fill a small bowl with scalding hot water.
  • Spray the mixing bowl your dough is in with cooking spray and cover loosely.  I use a plate that fits on top of my mixer.  You don't want this to be air tight.
  • Place the dough bowl on top of your hot water bowl and let the dough rise until doubled.  Mine was only about 20-30 minutes. 
  • When your dough is risen, deflate it by gently "punching" it down with your fist.
  • Turn your dough out onto your work surface.  (Do not flour the surface.  I did as you can see in the photo. And I don't think it was necessary.

  • Cut off a chunk of dough.  I guessed at how much, but a good generalization would be enough it fit in the palm of your hand.

  • Stretch it gently to just longer than your hot dog or cheese stick.

  • Place your hot dog or cheese stick in the center and bring the dough around the center to completely cover the hot dog or cheese stick.

  • Roll the dough and dog on the table gently and push the ends back in to keep them a uniform thickness.

  • Bake on a pizza stone for 10-15 minutes.  I am at high altitude so you will need to watch your time.  Things bake and cook differently here.  I stopped at halfway and brushed them with butter, but I would omit this step if you want them softer.  These browned very nicely for me, but I was going for a much softer top.
  • Serve the hot dogs with mustard and ketchup or the mozzarella rolls with this homemade pizza sauce.  It's my favorite one and always turns out amazing.

These were absolutely amazing and took me back to my younger years.  I will probably use a different brand of hot dog.  My kidlets didn't like the Hebrew National ones but the mozzarella ones.....that was a whole different story.

I am calling them potable pizzas.  We have a road trip to Michigan coming up in a few weeks and I always make a ton of healthy finger foods for our trips.  This trip we are taking a few extra days and heading north to the Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and the Reptile Gardens.  With the extra days and how busy our schedule is while we are in Michigan, we get SICK of eating out.  To the point that we would rather starve than eat at one more Arby's or Taco Bell.  With Lovely being gluten free now, eating out is slightly more difficult than before.  And on a road trip we need to make sure we can feed our children good stuff and not junk every other hour.  They are getting treat boxes filled with sweet, salty and savory snacks that they get free reign of and need to make it last the whole drive.  Stick a couple of these portable pizzas in the cooler and dip them in pizza sauce after heating them up at a gas station or eat them cold.  I loathe sandwiches so anything I can come up with that will save me trauma of eating a cold, bland sandwich is a win for me.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Throw Blanket

I've been sewing up a storm with my husband out of town on a business trip.  I don't feel guilty leaving my project all over the dining room table....

I ordered this Amy Butler fabric when they re-released the line this last fall.  Its French Wallpaper in Duck Egg.  I ADORE this fabric. It's my absolute favorite!  This fabric has been neatly folded in the clear bag I got it in since July of last year.  It such amazing fabric that it was going for $35 a YARD before the re-released it.  Insane!  I didn't know what I wanted to make with it.  I ordered two yards and while doing the crib bedding series tutorials, I realized what I wanted to make.  I had some minky that was ordered that was literally three inches too short for what I needed for the tutorial.  So I had to order some more to fit but I still needed to use what I had for something. 

This was the result... and I love it.

We are doing our family room in red and aqua and I needed a throw to accent.  It's usually pretty chilly in the basement all year long and I need blankets.  The throws that I normally use don't match at all so I have to either display mismatched ones or put them away every single night.  This one is perfect.  It's a 45"x60" blanket, so it covers me just right!