Thursday, February 26, 2015

She Doesn't Know What Is For Dinner Either!

As we continue to live in this world surrounded by technology I can count many friends who have found their significant other online. Technology opens up a whole new world to dating. However, it’s not just couples who are meeting online but new friendships can be made. Never before have you been able to connect so easily with others who have similar interests and passions as you do.

Years ago (circa 2013) when this blog was just beginning, Kristen left her first comment. A few months later, after more posts and more comments, she emailed me telling me about our many similarities. We were each mothers of five kids (three by adoption and two by birth), we both lived in Minnesota, we both enjoyed decorating, and both love God with all of our heart. 

The similarities didn't end there but those were certainly a few of them.

Fast-forward to last week when we finally got to meet in person at a Caribou coffee shop on a cold Minnesota winter night. Of course, certain thoughts went through my mind (as I'm sure went through hers)...

“I’m glad we are meeting in a public place.”

“I hope she isn’t crazy.”

“What if she thinks I am crazy?!?”

Spoiler Alert: She was as NICE as can be!

We talked about life with five kids. In fact, Kristen and her husband are in the process of adopting again. A child from Haiti. Which led to conversations about if our family was planning on having any more kids. To not leave you hanging…The answer is No and Yes. (It’s a hard answer to give once your heart has been opened to adoption.) 

Their imminent family expansion had us jumping right into conversations about twelve passenger vans and how many people max out each of our minivans (fyi, some Sienna’s seat 8 and Odyssey’s max out at 7). Both of us were chuckling as we remembered what life was like at the beginning of each of our transitions; learning to buckle all five kids into car seats in a limited space (it’s like an Olympic Sport, I tell ya! They should have timed competitions and give out medals for it.)

We also talked about how all of our kids have a two hour “quiet time” and how that is what helps keep us sane and helps the kids have a time to reset. Even moms need a break, or at least a little break, from the noise and refereeing in the midst of all of the other responsibilities. 

We both mentioned how hard our transitions have been and how, even during the challenges, it has been so fulfilling knowing that we were doing what God had led us and equipped us to do.

However, there was one thing that really stood out to me from our conversation…like REALLY stood out to me. It was when Kristen said that she doesn't usually know what is for dinner.

Most days her kids wake up in the morning and are already asking, “what’s for dinner?” I just chuckled and said, YES! :-) Some days if they know they are going to be gone later in the afternoon she’ll throw something in the crock pot that morning but otherwise, for the most part, she doesn't know what’s for dinner...either

I wasn't alone on this!

While I created a menu board months ago to help with this problem I readily admitted that most weeks it sits blank. I try to plan ahead but the majority of the time my planning ahead is simply in hopes that I get to the grocery store that week and can grab the essentials.

Even that plan fails sometimes…we have been out of bananas for days (our kids really like bananas).

So I guess I’d like to leave you with that.

Perhaps today you simply need to hear that two moms in Minnesota have NO CLUE what’s for dinner tonight. Be encouraged friends. This life can be hard sometimes, but it is good! It is incredibly worth it!

So if today you still have no idea what the plan is for dinner, don't worry...that makes three of us! ;-)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ouchie Spray Recipe Using Essential Oils

I stock band-aids in our house, but most of the time the kids don't really need them they are just there for moral support. Are your kids like that? Even if there is absolutely no blood, a band-aid somehow comforts them. 

I get it.

However, the frugal mother of five in me would rather snuggle them and just buy stock in a band-aid company instead of band-aids themselves. In fact, in previous years I eventually made a "there has to be at least a GLIMPSE of red if you are going to get a band-aid" policy.

What I did want was something on hand that helped soothe their emotions and helped with their ailment. So when my friend gave me this recipe last year for ouchie spray we started using it and never looked back. 

ouchie spray using essential oils

I keep a bottle in my purse and can easily pull it out when life happens. 

Just a few of the properties in these essential oils are...

Melaleuca: antibacterial, antifungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflamatory, antiseptic, antiviral
Lavender: antifungal, anti-histamine, anti-infectious, anti-inflamatory
Frankincense: anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic

Now when cuts, scrapes or burns happen I simply grab the ouchie spray. (Bonus that it doesn't sting!) 

My new motto is...

"Spray & Go Play!"

DisclaimerEssential oils are not meant to treat, cure or prevent disease. This information represents how I, a doTERRA wellness advocate, use essential oils in our home to benefit our family's health.
(photo credit Sarah Hardie Photography)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Creating An Art Table For Kids

creating an art table for kids

A few years ago I showed you how we made our DIY desk. We made it out of two file cabinets and two table leaves (from our kitchen table that were collecting dust in the closet.) Seriously, do you have unused table leaves that you've wondered what to do with?!? For years this desk was tucked into the corner of our dining room. (We were also recently given a wooden table to take the place of our "high end" plastic one, so that has also changed from the picture below.)

This desk is where I did all of my blogging/family bookkeeping/hulu watching/facebook chatting from. Well, most of the time I take my laptop to the couch to do my hulu watching. It's more comfortable and the kids love gathering around and watching "fish tank" with mommy...or so they've renamed one of my favorite shows, Shark Tank. :-) 

Now since launching my essential oil business a few months ago, things have really taken off! I needed a more substantial space to organize materials for classes and a desk where I could leave papers out until I returned that wasn't in the center of our home. That being the case, my desk and new office space has now moved upstairs to our spare room that my husband has been utilizing for his home office.

With the desk now being unused in the dining room we decided to move it under the window and create a space for the kids to do homework at or draw on. I've learned that my kids are way more into taking plain pieces of paper and adding their flair than coloring in coloring books...but we keep both on hand for variety. It is also nice that this desk is so close to the dining room table because they can spread out and work there too.

We keep the art supplies right on top of the desk. They use to be on the ledge going down to our basement but we found that having them out on the desk put them closer to where the action was and made them easier to put away. 

Putting colored pencils and markers under a window is as refreshing as putting a potted plant there. And the bonus is that you don't have to water the markers. :-)

What kind of art supplies do your kids love getting creative with?

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I Heart Organizing

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Stair Containers To Collect The Clutter!

stair mailboxes to collect the clutter

Recently I confessed how much having clutter in our home affects me in a negative way. Ya'll were so encouraging and I'm so thankful that it isn't a battle that I am facing alone.

I also recently switched out our old stair mailboxes that really help with reducing clutter in our home. The previous ones that we used had wires in them that had started poking through. 

Stairs + wires poking through + kids = a disaster waiting to happen!

However, after three years of constant use, I can't even imagine not using this system. So I was thrilled to find some new containers at Target. 

More than the containers though, I am simply thrilled with how beneficial this system has been for our family.

Sometimes you just need a place to toss the "in between" things to help reduce the clutter. 

bins on your stairs to help organize

Sometime soon I'll share our method of getting the kids to pick up their toys at any given moment (it isn't mind boggling but it has been effective and I'll share that soon!) However, these bins play a big role in it. Many times the kids will pick up by putting items in here that need to eventually go back upstairs. Other times cleaning up includes emptying their "mailboxes" and taking what has collected back upstairs to their rooms. 

That is usually the case when they start overflowing and nothing more can fit in them!

I didn't go fancy with labeling the containers...just a quick sharpie marker to the side knowing that in the future I can always use a little rubbing alcohol to remove the name if I ever want to re-use the bins for something else.

organizing with kids

I honestly can't say enough good things about this system. 

Even if you don't have stairs you could have a designated container somewhere in the house for each member of the family to drop their things into. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to put everything back in its place all of the time...but having a little container like this can be a great inbetween place to put things and help keep chaos at bay.

Do you have a designated place in your home for putting each person's things? What kinds of methods do you use to help keep the clutter at bay?

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Being Who God Created You To Be

All through elementary school, middle school and high school I was pretty shy. I did my best to fit in, go unseen, and all the while quietly figure out who I was created to be. It was a challenge. Which is why when I hit thirty and the pieces started slowly coming together it seemed like a journey that was only just beginning...only it hadn't just begun. 

Everything that happened in my past...all of those life experiences, they were forming what I would now do in my future.

I no longer felt as though I could just "fit in." There was only one me and I needed to be who God created me to be. Have you ever thought of that? That there is only one you and this world needs you to be exactly who God created you to be.

small things with great love

I realized that I didn't need to do one great thing for God, that instead my life was simply the sum total of doing small things with great love. 

Finally, if I could articulate what I felt called to would be to encourage others.

If I could narrow it down to things I felt passionate would be family, adoption, organizing and decorating. 

If I could summarize all of my insecurities...they would be too numerous to count!

If I could step out of my comfort zone and find a way to encourage other women along the journey...I would start a blog and begin to share our story in person to encourage others.

If I could share one thing with the world, it would be to share this story with those who need to be reminded that there is hope. 

And if I ever felt one mission or goal through it was always to point people to a God that loves them more than anyone else in this world. A God who is able to do the impossible

So I simply started

I found an available URL. 

I cropped a random picture of myself shiny eyes and all...

and I simply started to write.

Somewhere down the road I mentioned to my friend Sarah Hardie, "do you think that the next time we are in the same geographical area you could take a new picture for me? I'm just looking for anything that doesn't have shiny eyes." It was evident to me that God had created my friend Sarah as an artist. She takes pictures and tells stories through a lens using her skill all while capturing light and working with beautiful backgrounds. 

Our paths crossed one day and she told me to look down... 

and then to look up. 

We did that multiple times. 

"Look down, now look up." 

It had something to do with your eyes being more open when you do that and your smile being completely you.

I looked at the woman I was and suddenly I didn't feel like that shy girl from school.

being who God created you to be

I was simply me.

Who has God created you to be? What has he called YOU to do? What has he brought you through or given you a passion for? The journey is only just beginning...

A big thanks to Sarah Hardie Photography!

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Warm & Inviting Bed

The new year is off and running...hello February! Last month I printed off a new clean sheets list for 2015!

Speaking of sheets. 

There is nothing better than a warm and inviting bed. You've worked hard all day and now you can't wait for that moment when you get to crawl into your warm and cozy bed. Ahhh, your head is going to hit that soft pillow and fall into a blissful sleep. 

It is going to be so very cozy. 

You pull down the sheets, crawl in one leg at a time and suddenly your expectations come crashing down. It feels like you just crawled into a freezer! 

At least that has been my experience for the past few years. 

I told Sam I couldn't handle it anymore. I started dreaming of getting an electric warmer for our bed. I literally was at the point where crawling into bed was the last thing that I wanted to do. 

The sheets were just so cold. 

Then I was telling my friend Becca about it and she mentioned that I should try flannel sheets. That is when the lightbulb went off. Three years ago our friends had passed along their king size bed to us. Which meant we went from having a queen size bed to a king size bed and I no longer had a pair of flannel sheets that fit the bed. In all of the craziness from the past few years it had never dawned on me why, after years of warm sheets in the winter time, they were now so cold and miserable. 

I was concerned that the electric warmer wouldn't be convenient. I didn't want to have to remember to turn something on each night before crawling into bed. So I decided to give the flannel sheet option a whirl. And while I'm usually a solids-or-simple-patterns kind of girl...I decided to add a little flair to our now, once again, warm and inviting bed. 

I'm happy to report that the flannel sheets are an 80% improvement from our previous sheets that felt like they had just come out of the freezer. Do you find yourself dreading going to bed at night because of the cold? Have you considered flannel sheets as an option? Do you have an electric warmer and totally love it? 

While I was addressing the cold sheets issue in our bedroom I also decided to address the way too long, always collecting dust bunnies from the floor, curtain issue. The curtains originally came from IKEA and came with that fabulous hem tape that you just grab a measuring tape, scissors and hot iron to use. 

However, it was just one of those things that I never got around to doing. In no time I had the extra material cut off and the hem done.

Even a no sewing skilled lady like me had these fixed up in no time. Goodbye dust bunnies, hello sunshine.

Do you use flannel sheets in the winter time or an electric warmer?  Taking a poll could be fun! :-)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Monthly Budget Breakdown ~ January 2015

In an effort to challenge my contentment meter and stay within a budget,
I have $50 per month to spend on Decor & DIY projects for around the house. 
On the first Tuesday of every month I'll show you how I spent it 

Here is the monthly breakdown for January...

Starting Balance = $185.35 (you can check out here to see what was spent in December.)
Income: January $50 + Starting Balance = $235.35 left to spend

How did January already come and go??? Crazy! If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen a new addition that we made to the kitchen this past month. I'll admit that when we first moved into this house I immediately started dreaming about remodeling the kitchen. That was bound to happen to the girl who grew up watching "This Old House" with her dad and whose favorite tv network is HGTV. 

Alas, when I looked at our bank account there was no money designated for "remodeling the kitchen." We contemplated taking out a loan to create the kitchen of our dreams now but then we had some major heart changes. A few years also went by of living in our home and we remodeled one of our bathrooms. During that process I realized that with the state of my heart before I would have never found contentment in having a newly remodeled kitchen. 


Because there would always be the "next" project that we could do. I can picture it now. The kitchen is is absolutely BEAUTIFUL, and then my next question is...

Honey, can we re-do our upstairs bathroom now? 

I'll be so much happier THEN.


Not going to happen!

So why break the bank trying?

We still see remodeling the kitchen as a great investment down the road but unless a major catastrophe happens in our kitchen and forces us to remodel early we are all kinds of happy about making memories in this one. 

Up until now one major factor in wanting to remodel was our limited counter space. I've definitely knocked more than a few things off of our portable dishwasher/mini island while trying to cook for our family of seven.  

Then one day in January I was walking through Target and spotted a nice clearance end cap find. (Those end caps are like magnets, right?!?) I stood there taking pictures and sending texts back and forth to Sam. Will this fit? Do you think this would be a good solution for the lack of counter space issue? I definitely wasn't going to try lifting that heavy box home unless I was 90% sure that it was going to work. 

He replied that it was definitely worth a try. 

Of course one of the best parts was that in not doing many decor/organizing projects over the past few months my monthly budget had added up quite nicely. Pair that with a $50 Target gift card that I had and I only paid $124.98 cash for more than DOUBLE the counter space than I previously had.

Three hours of screwing things together later and...


target kitchen island counter top

I have considered trimming down the counter so that it is even with the dishwasher but that would also mean losing some of my newly gained counter space. So for now I'm keeping it as is. I've also thought of sanding down the top and staining it to match the dishwasher but for right now I'm simply happy with the present condition and how useful it is.

target clearance kitchen island find

I did have a friend ask if I was going to get a couple of stools to put under the counter. My first thought was NO WAY...they would just be one more thing for the kids to argue over.

I like to pick my battles wisely. 

Although a stool or two might be nice for when the kids are taking turns helping me cook...which at this point consists of them helping to beat the scrambled eggs or stir the Mac & Cheese. I don't want you to get the impression that I do a lot of gourmet cooking with my little tornadoes...we all have our limits.  

Final Breakdown...
Beginning Balance $235.35 - $124.98 (January purchases) = $110.37
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