Thursday, February 28, 2013

little joys

staring at little feet and chunky thighs quickly turning from baby to little girl...

holding on to morning and evening bottle feedings simply so I can enjoy the cuddles and stare into those blue eyes a few days longer...

sharing a sweet look between my son... that boy melts my heart like no other person!

hearing sweet voices play, and sing, and talk, and laugh, and say "mommy"...

waiting in anticipation and then catching the next funny or interesting thing that boy will come up with...

making the decision to apply a bandaid for the 4th time in the same spot

pushing fine baby hair out of eyes...

stroking the softest baby skin that will too soon not be

being constantly surprised by the next new thing learned

snuggling while reading

holding that long boy close and knowing the days are growing short where he'll still fit on my lap

the boy's hugs and kisses and i love yous are cherished, each one. For one day he won't be so free with them.

not feeling guilty about procrastinating on dishes and laundry, because playing on the floor is always more important

choosing to find them adorable and the moment precious during an early morning wakeup call

watching them sleep- still, soft and warm

crazy dance moves those two can break out with

heart swelling at their good behavior in public

little prayers

precious voice reciting Scripture

the love between them growing

two pairs of big blue eyes, both the most perfect shades

squeals of delight, times two

wiping tears, and comforting hearts

confidence in knowing my job is the best in the world

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

snuggle day & seeking first

It's a sad day when I have to miss our local mops group to stay home with a child who's not feeling well! Its a difficult decision to have a snuggle day when he seems fine, but at this age you kindof have to take him seriously, especially since he's been up on and off since 4:30am!

So we're snuggled on the couch watching episodes of Curious George on netflix and I'm reflecting on life as mom.

It's hard for my heart to be "into" a snuggle day when I have to say no to something that I've been looking forward to, and something that would be good for me as a mom. I would get a break, have an encouraging time, and meet other moms. (And when you're new and the moms only meet twice a month, that's really not alot of chances to make friends.)

So I want to sit on the couch and feel bad for myself. At the inconvenience of it, at how once again for the sake of motherhood I'm asked to give yet something else up.

But if there's something I've learned since we've begun this new adventure and new life, is that I can trust God to meet my needs.

 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. -Matthew 6:33 

This verse seems to be the theme verse for our year so far! It's a constant reminder to simply do what I know God wants me to do for today and leave the rest up to Him! Although some days I may wonder, there's nothing better that I can do with my life, with my time, than take care of these two precious children, no matter what I may miss out on. And God will bless me for being faithful to what he's called me do to right now if I seek him first!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Inspired You

A few days before my birthday this month, I received a package with my first birthday present- a book, called Inspired You. I was getting dinner together, but I flipped through a few pages and checked out the table of contents. I was immediately excited to sit down and read through the entire book. So as soon as the kids went to bed, I sat down on the couch and spent the rest of my Friday night reading this book!

Inspired You is written by Marian Parsons from Miss Mustard Seed, and is a book about finding your God-given creativity to create a beautiful home! The book is full of gorgeous photography, decorating inspiration and spiritual encouragement. I particularly love the subtitle: Letting God Breathe New Life into Your Heart and Home.

She shares tutorials, like how to make pleated curtains, build an ottoman and paint furniture. She gives lots of ideas and tips on shopping for decorations (think thrift stores and auctions), and helps you evaluate your perspective and attitude towards your home! It not only inspires you to create a more beautiful home, but gives lots of encouragement and confidence boosting along the way! You'll walk away from this book viewing your home in a different way, and you'll feel more motivated and capable to make some changes! As I read, I felt like I was flipping through a magazine because of all the beautiful pictures, yet it was easy reading like a blog. (You definitely can’t get the full experience of this book through the Kindle version!)

Since we've made our big move and have started to decorate our big house, it was encouraging to hear her articulate things I've already been thinking and feeling. I decided that when we moved, I wanted to take a different route with setting up and decorating our house. I wanted to be as frugal and homemade as possible- not just to save money, but mainly to create a home that reflects more of who we are as a family. We wanted a house with character and creativity. And if we put a little extra effort into everything that we add to our house, we will find more satisfaction with it and enjoy our home more! When I got this book, I was at a pretty discouraging point with decorating our house, but as soon as I was done with it, I was really inspired and had a lot of ideas, some of which I could do pretty inexpensively and quickly. (Did you read about my newly painted gray kitchen? yeah, that happened the next day!)

She debunks the idea of creating a perfect, impressive, or magazine-worthy home! That’s not the goal! She says the goal is:   
Not a perfect home. Not a impress the neighbors home. 
Just home. A home that was made, not bought. 
A home whose walls and rooms tell the story of the family who lives there. 
 Create a home for your family's needs and decorate it to reflect who you are, and it will be the perfect home for you!

What I appreciated most was her emphasis in the end of the book on being content with the home God has placed you in!
If we find ourselves constantly wishing for and wanting more, perhaps we need to close the catalog and focus on all the things we have to be thankful for...
When our focus is on being thankful, earthly treasures start to lose their importance. 

I love that she shares some spiritual aspects of decorating, like recognizing our urge to decorate and create a beautiful home is because of our God-given creativity and characteristics of being a woman. Also, developing the skill of seeing potential in something old and worn out that we could give a second life to, and carrying that skill over to "hopeless" people in our lives, to see the potential that may still be there! And then to learn to be content and thankful in the midst of our journey toward a more beautiful home!

Inspired You has really helped push me along to the next step in making a beautiful home for our family, and came at a good time to motivate and inspire me, while speaking some truth to my heart as well!

Beautiful homes start with inspiration and a willingness to try.

Friday, February 22, 2013

diy $5 table runner

Today I'm sharing a simple tutorial on The Copper Coconut for a table runner that you can make for about $5! I'm so excited about the opportunity to guest post on Katie's blog! She is a very talented, creative lady who is a young mom and interior designer, and blogs about lots of great tutorials and has an Etsy shop offering custom graphic design and stained glass!

So many of you know how we recently made a big move from MI to OH
We now live in a big farm house turned church parsonage circa. 1873 on 5 acres of land. 
We’re excited for a big garden this summer and being outdoors letting the kids run free. 
But inside, there’s lot of stuff we need to do. Large rooms and large windows and high ceilings mean any change costs a little more. And we are usually pretty limited with funds, so we do little things here and there as we can. You know how it goes! We slowly keep moving down our list of home projects, although we are still near the top- a couple rooms have been painted, some curtains have been sewn up and hung, and decorating is beginning to happen.

I decided that when we moved, I wanted to take a different route with setting up and decorating our house. I wanted to be as frugal and homemade as possible- not just to save money, but mainly to create a home that reflects more of who we are as a family. We wanted a house with character and creativity. And if we put a little extra effort into everything that we add to our house, we will find more satisfaction with it and enjoy our home more!

Now head over to The Copper Coconut to learn how you can make this table runner for about $5!

Monday, February 18, 2013

these kids are killing me!

One year ago, my husband was on a missions trip to Togo, leaving me with a 2 year old and a newborn! Shortly after he arrived home I wrote the following on something the Lord taught me while Tim was gone. The Lord has used this to challenge and encourage me many times in the past year. I wanted to share it with you today and I hope it will encourage you as well:

Six weeks after I gave birth to Norah, Tim led a mission trip to Africa for 17 days! 

As the days and weeks crept closer for him to leave, my panic grew at being left with the two kids (including a newborn) all by myself. The day he left, I drove the three of us to my in laws house for a few days. On the way, the kids fell asleep, and I was able to have some time alone with the Lord! I told the Lord,

 It’s just you and me, God!  I don’t know what the next 17 days hold, but you do. And I am placing my rest in you! 

And in that quiet moment, I chose to rest in him and place my trust in his watch care and sovereignty and protection over us! I knew it would be a time of growth for me as I handled life alone and knew that my dependence on the Lord would grow, in areas that I would normally depend on Tim first.

There were many chances for me to exercise that trust in his absence:
I had to take Titus to the ER the first day because of a bad case of hives.
I had some confusion with our finances, which caused me some stress since I usually don’t handle them.
And I potty trained my 2 year old while nursing a 6 week old (thanks mom for the help!)

But the Lord sustained me (and I’m so grateful for our parents who stepped up to help me out during that time).
But there’s still no one that can replace your spouse and your kids’ dad.

While Tim was gone, life seemed to be tilted on its side, nothing seemed quite right with our family separated. I would get up every morning, go through the motions of taking care of the kids through the day, and go to bed at night completely exhausted, only to get up multiple times with the baby.
Then in the morning I would get up and do it all over again. I fell into a survival mode. Life had become about getting us all through the 2 ½ weeks until Daddy was home and all would be right again.

But God had lessons for me to learn, and this time away from Tim proved to the place He wanted me to learn them.

One particular day, I was struggling and wondering if I was ever going to survive, specifically that time apart, but also motherhood in general. I remember feeling incredibly panicked in that moment and thinking, 

This is going to kill me! I think I’m going to die!  I feel my life being sucked out of me! Will I ever make it through this? 

That night, Tim sent me an email and encouraged me to read 2 Corinthians 4, the passage of Scripture he would be preaching in Africa, and one that had been some good food for his soul. Little did I know how perfectly it would answer my melodramatic questions!

I grabbed my Kindle, settled down under the covers and read the words my heart needed to hear that were felt down into my soul.

Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who live are always given over to death because of Jesus, so that Jesus’ life may also be revealed in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you. 13 And since we have the same spirit of faith in keeping with what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we also believe, and therefore speak. 14 We know that the One who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and present us with you. 15 Indeed, everything is for your benefit, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to increase to God’s glory.
16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (HCSB)

What I came to understand was that I was dying. My life was being sucked out of me and my body was slowly being destroyed daily. 

But what I was encouraged by as I read verse by verse and let the power of the Word wash over me, was that although my physical body is being destroyed, my inner self is being renewed! We know that because of the curse, our bodies physically are dying. They are wearing out! As we watch our physical bodies decay and feel the curse at work, we have the hope that no matter how difficult life is, our inner person (the part of us that really matters and lasts forever) is being renewed day by day!

What a hope to have that this life is not all there is! The struggled of this life is just for a moment! What’s done in this life does matter, but it’s for such a short time that we’re called to be faithful. And it is such a reminder to evaluate what around me has eternal value, because those are the things I should be focusing my energies on! All the stuff that I can get sucked into or desire isn’t worth my energy in the end. 

What matters most is the investment I’m making into my kids’ lives.
It matters eternally how I live my life before the Lord.
It matters how I serve and love my husband.
And my attitude toward the role that the Lord has given me as a full time mom, wife and home manager matters eternally.

Immediate gratification of time to do as I please, getting more sleep, having nicer things or living in more comfort are the things that are “seen”, not having eternal significance… If I’m blessed with those, great! I’m thankful for God’s graciousness. That doesn’t mean I don’t pray for them according to God’s will. But they don’t consume my energies and thoughts. 

What is unseen is developing my relationship with the Lord, raising my children to godliness, serving my family selflessly, growing in my character, loving those around me, and taking care of my responsibilities. 

What is unseen may be the future salvation of my children when I make praying and spiritual conversations a priority above keeping them "busy" so I can have a moment of quiet. 

It might mean falling deeper in love with Tim because I spent time with him sacrificially, rather than using my evening time spending it for myself.

It may also mean that I spend my few short moments in the afternoons with the Lord rather than choosing to spend them doing less important things.

I must keep my focus on the things that have eternal value, rather than letting myself get bogged down in the day to day momentary struggles that are temporary and not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. It’s also an encouragement to know that all these struggles I endure in this life as I trust and follow the Lord will be worth it in the end, when I finally see that “absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” (vs 17)- say that out loud, I love how it sounds rolling off my tongue!

Trust God with your life! Focus on the eternal, on the bigger picture and be faithful to what He’s called you to right now! It’s just temporary! As you die daily, be encouraged that the inner, immaterial, eternal part of you is becoming more and more alive all the time!

I still have days that I think “These kids are killing me!” and I feel the life draining out of me as I pour my energies out. But this is the hope and encouragement that I daily hold on to. And I hope you do too as you follow the Lord wherever He’s placed you!

Friday, February 15, 2013

i am not creative

photo credit

I was with a group of ladies this past week, and like most times when we're together, we have a craft! The organizer planned a fun, easy craft which involved turning paint swatches into Valentine's themed bookmarks! As we were leisurely standing around tables cutting the swatches, hole-punching hearts and tying ribbons, I overheard this phrase a few different times: "I am not creative!"

It bothered me. And I had so many thoughts flood my mind as I tried to figure out why.

I hear this phrase a lot among women and I'm sure if you and I were talking about this face-to-face, you'd be nodding your head in agreement!

I know that many of you will be surprised at this next confession:
I used to say this phrase ALL the time about myself!

I know, I know! You're shocked,
Me- who sews and crafts, has a handmade shop, who is always trying new things in my home, and blogs DIY posts...
I used to say this phrase! And I believed it too! For a long time...

Here's are 3 reasons why I believe that statement is untrue for me, and for you to think:

1. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy! Sometimes just believing something about yourself, makes it become true. Then you stop trying to do new things, or exercise creativity! You also stop believing in yourself and rather than having confidence when an opportunity to be creative comes along, you become uncomfortable or unwilling because of what you believe about yourself.
And that leads to my second point...

2. It's based on fear! We become unwilling to try something new, or we try it with very little effort because we have such low expectations of ourselves! And of course all this is rooted in our fear of failure! But what most creative people know, is that there is no such thing as failure when it comes to the creative process. We may not always get the desired outcome, but we try again and do it a little differently! And if it doesn't turn out at all, we ask for help, appreciate the "art" that we produced as it is, or we move on to something else! But the biggest trap that we can get ourselves into is to compare our creativity to someone else's. Which leads to my final point...

3. We are created in God's image! Look around this world- it's an awesomely created world! God is so creative- I mean, c'mon! He's the Creator. And by that I mean, He's THE Creator! He is the most creative Being in the universe and because we are all made in His image, He's given us a part of his creativity! We're all creative! When we say we aren't creative, we are refusing to acknowledge a part of God in us, a gift he's given to us. It also shows how ungrateful we are to Him and even how disappointed we are with how God has made us! You see, God has also given us all special talents and abilities, along with a capacity to LEARN! We need to foster a desire to learn by trying new things, and deepening our knowledge of previously learned things! Skills have to sharpened and we can only grow in knowledge and creativity if we exercise our brains by learning! When we meet a really talented lady, we don't often think about the fact that it took her a lot of time and practice and trial & error for her to reach this level of skill, confidence and creativity!

When we say we aren't creative, we usually do it as a response to someone else who seems more creative than us! I find there is a difference in saying, "I can't do this" and "I won't do this."
Usually we say the first out loud but the latter is what we really mean. We think to ourselves, (probably not consciously), "I don't know if I can do this, so I'm not going to try, or at least put much effort into this."

You see, we aren't all gifted in the same ways, and that's okay! We aren't all creative in the same ways and we all have different interests. I know there are some people who simply are more creative than others! But that doesn't mean you aren't, just because it may not be at the same level or in the same way. I believe they have worked on and developed their creativity. They've embraced it and exercised it and grown in it!

And at times you or I simply won't enjoy doing certain creative things we women associate the word "creativity" with, and that's okay!
Each of us is creative, but in different ways! And we all need to find the ways that we are creative in!

I finally overcame this false belief about myself because I decided to try something new and pursue a hobby that seemed totally foreign to me. I was all thumbs at first, my brain felt muddled, and I felt silly and stupid. But with time and practice, I got better and my confidence grew! Then I realized I enjoyed it, and it was no longer practice, it was the real thing! I decided to push the limits of who I was, or thought I was! And though this creativity discovery, I've also discovered a lot about myself along the way!

Which side of the "I'm not creative" phrase are you on?

Have you been here before? Are you there now?



Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Roundup!

Happy Valentines Day! I hope that today you are celebrating the special people in your life and are thankful for the privilege it is to love them!

For today I wanted to do a round up of sorts of some Valentine inspired fun around our house!

Top Row- Heart Shaped Peanut Butter Sandwich, Red and Purple Goldfish Crackers, Heart Shaped Apple pieces,
Bottom Row- Heart Shaped Pretzels :), Salsa for dipping, and heart shaped string cheese pieces

This is a throwback to when I used to do these muffin tin lunches all the time with Titus!
We still do this occasionally, and this week I couldn't resist throwing together a Valentine-themed muffin tin lunch (however NOT on Monday haha). These are really fun to get creative with, and kids love them!

Norah has just started wearing hair clippies! I finally needed something more than the hairbands she always wears to keep her long bangs out of her face, so I went to my dear friend (and former business partner) Laura, from The Blue Ladybug! She made me a lovely set of Valentine's clippies, a Tiny Pink Boutique Bow (Seriously adorable!) and another set of pastel clippies. I'm thrilled that Norah is keeping them in (for the most part!) and I love having another option for her hair now that she has more of it! And I love all her new hair clippies- they are all sooo cute! So head over to Laura's newly re-opened shop The Blue Ladybug and check out some of her craftiness! She's super talented and is my go-to person for all things crafty. I don't think she has any hair things listed in her shop right now, but she's been making quality hair bows, headbands, clips, etc for years and loves to do it! She might create you a custom order if you asked her nicely :)

Fabric Heart Cards Tutorial
We had fun mailing these to some very missed friends and cousins, and handing them to some new friends we've made! God is good! :)

Valentine's Garland Tutorial
I decided I needed to make several more of these to hang around my new gray kitchen!  Of course I never got around to it, so maybe next year! I do love the one I have though! Did you make one?

Here are some pictures of the kids I took last Valentines Day when Norah was only about 6 weeks old! I have the most precious pictures of them from this time! Of course I couldn't resist getting a new one this year, although it was a little more difficult! Maybe I'll make it a tradition, although they'll probably get tired (or grossed out) of the ones where they're staring into each other's eyes! :)

I love having two kids! Yes, it is a ton of exhausting work! But there are those moments when I look over, and they're playing so nicely together, or they're loving each other, or Titus is so tenderly talking to Norah. And I know it's totally worth it! These are the greatest kids ever! I'm so blessed! And this Valentines day I'm enjoying focusing on how blessed I am to have these two (and their amazing daddy) in my life to love and take care of!

What love are you celebrating today?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

homemade citrus cleaner

As promised here is a homemade citrus cleaner similar to the all-purpose vinegar cleaner that I shared yesterday. The only thing is that this one requires your family to eat citrus fruits and a little patience! :)

But first I want to offer a quick disclaimer/encouragement...
In case anyone is feeling the urge to start making all their own toiletries, cleaning products, etc, and might be feeling overwhelmed, let me encourage you to take your time! I may be posting all these quickly, but remember that this change for me has taken months! As I ran across new ideas, I incorporated them into our lives. So go slow with transitioning to homemade stuff- don't over whelm yourself by making too many changes too quickly!

Okay on to the Citrus Cleaner...

I love Citrus! It's one of my favorite smells. So when I saw how easy this was, I just had to try it!
This may not be new to some of you since I did see it floating around the Internet recently.

What you'll need:

~ A quart size Mason jar (or two!)
~ Citrus Peels
~Distilled White Vinegar
~A spray bottle

1. Eat Oranges :)  (or any other citrus fruits- mine consists of Oranges and Clementines)

2. Save the left over peels in a Mason jar

3. When the jar is filled with peels, pour in the vinegar to fill up the rest of the jar.

4. Now set it on the counter for about 2 weeks (It really makes a lovely temporary decoration). The longer it sets the more potent it will be. Also it might be a good idea to label your jars so you know when they're ready!

5. At the ending of the 2 or so weeks, use a fine mesh strainer to separate the orange peels from the liquid.

6. Pour the liquid into the Spray bottle and add the same amount of water
(Ex: my first batch yielded 10 oz of liquid, so I added 10 oz of water.)

7. Give it a shake and you have a Citrus cleaner that you can use on anything- counters, floor, tubs, sinks, etc!

This process of saving something that I used to throw away has made me rethink what we throw out, and wonder what other ways I can recycle our "food waste." I'm learning there are still ways we can benefit from foods we throw away and I'm looking forward to learning more about how.

Finally I want to comment on how satisfying it is to make something from scratch that is very useful to your family! Once you start, it's an addicting feeling! Just make one thing on the list from yesterday and see how it feels! :)  But really, we all know the satisfaction of creating something from our own two hands with success, so I know this isn't a shock to you! There's nothing like looking in your cabinets, on your shelves, in your freezer and seeing products made by your own hands, with your own effort! If anything make me feel like super mom (on those rare days), it's doing this! I feel like I'm truly providing my family a simpler life and a safer home! You aren't creating something for just the sake of it, but you're creating a product that will save you money, that will be more natural and safe for your home, and that you'll actually use!!! I also love that I've freed up a chunk of our grocery budget by freeing myself from having to buy cleaning products at the store! When something runs out, I go to my pantry and whip up another batch!

Okay, how have you discovered the satisfaction of made-from-scratch living? 
Have you tried something new recently?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

make cleaning products for pennies

There is something about homemade living that I think everyone should know:

You can make your own cleaning products (and toiletries) for just pennies, and actually enjoy them!

AND you don't have to live with and use the chemicals from the store that make you want to wear a gas mask every time you use them! 

When I first pregnant, I became more and more aware of the chemicals in my house- they were everywhere, in my kitchen, in my bathroom, in my laundry room, and behind most cabinet doors close to the floor! It was alarming to realize this and the huge responsibility it would be to baby-proof a house and spend years keeping all kinds of harmful things around our house out of little hands.

I knew it would be impossible to say goodbye to the little years without some incident involving my child eating something he shouldn't, no matter how careful I was. So what could I do?

I could remove it all from my home. But how? I still needed to clean my house?

Then I began a mission of finding a natural cleaning product. Then I discovered Norwex and have been happily using their reusable antibacterial microfiber cloths for about 2 years now, along with many other products! I love the products and although I don't sell them myself, I've sold many friends and family on them and now have a couple consultants in the family :) If you have any questions about it, let me know, as I won't take the time and space in this post.

After slowly removing chemicals from my home and using a few simple Norwex products that are truly multi-purpose, I started learning that I could easily and cheaply make my own cleaning products with only a few ingredients that I already have around the house.

Here is a basic list of staple ingredients needed to make homemade cleaning producs:

  • Borax
  • Baking Soda
  • Super Washing Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Castile Soap
  • Essential oils are not necessary but they can be fun to experiment with

    The basics are vinegar and baking soda- we probably all have that in our pantry right now! So you can start there! The rest of these items are fairly inexpensive and can be found pretty easily in the laundry aisle of your local grocery store, a well appointed health food store, or online through Mountain Rose Herbs.

Here are a few recipes for cleaning products you can make with a few simple ingredients:

Abrasive Scrub
(Uses: Toilet bowl scrub, mattress freshener, carpet freshener,

~Fill an empty plastic container (like a parmesan container) halfway with baking soda.
~Add 15-20 drops of tea tree oil (anti-bacterial)
        (Also add any other essential oil you like for scent- I love Peppermint or Orange)
~Shake until mixed totally

For toilet bowls, use like Comet- sprinkle in toilet bowl, and use toilet brush to scrub
For mattresses and carpets, sprinkle around, let set, then vacuum up!

All Purpose Cleaner
(Uses: counters, floors, sinks, tubs, etc!)

~Fill a spray bottle 1:1 with water and white distilled vinegar.
~Use as is or add some essential oils

Dish Soap- I plan to make this recipe soon!

Laundry Soap- uses Castile bar soap. I plan to use this recipe as soon as I go through the last batch I recently made. I don't care for the strong smell of the Fels Naphtha.

Foaming Anti Bacterial Hand Soap

So here are a few recipes that can get you started, and pretty much do most of your cleaning for you.
I've found that if there's still something in my house I want to replace, I just google a homemade natural version and there are usually lots of versions out there, so take advantage of the internet! There are lots of other women on blogs who have a wealth of information and experience and they are just like us, wanting to make their homes safer and cleaner!

I now exclusively use Norwex or homemade cleaners, and chemical cleaners are almost non-existent in our house! It feels good to have one less thing to worry about in a house of toddlers! We have enough trouble to keep them out of!

Tomorrow I'll be sharing another DIY Cleaning Recipe with you!:)

Share or Link any other cleaning recipes you have in the comments below so that we can all

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fabric Heart Cards

Before kids, my hobby was card-making.
Since having kids, I've fallen in love with sewing and fabric!
For this project, I dug through all my card-making supplies and my scrap fabric, and merged the two together!

Here are the Valentines that we made for all Titus and Norah's little friends, both near and far!


Fabric Heart Valentine's Cards


What you'll need:
Paper cutter
scrap fabric
card stock paper
sewing machine
glue stick
extra paper for a note
stamps/ink (any card making supplies)

First, find some scrap paper in pinks, reds, purples, etc. and cut them to the size you'd like.
Mine are various sizes because we just cut wherever we felt like it!
Titus enjoyed using my paper cutter, although he did manage to come away from it with a battle wound from it! :(

Then using scrap fabric in various patterns and Valentines colors, cut out hearts!
Polka dots are fun- which you can see I have a lot of! :)
I find the quickest way to do this is to start with a small square of fabric, fold it in half, and cut a half heart starting at the fold.
Or if you want to be precise or aren't confident in your cutting skills, you could draw a template. Just lay the template on the fabric, trace it and cut it out that way. But that will take a lot longer. I don't think an imperfect heart is that big of a deal, anyways. It just adds to the charm of this handmade card!

Now it's time to sew!
Place a heart on one of the pieces of paper anyway you like, and place the machine needle in the bottom tip of the heart. This is your starting point.
I just used white thread for my cards to keep it simple. In some of fabric it matched nicely and wasn't that noticeable. And in others it stood out more. Feel free to be bold in your thread color!
You also might need to adjust the tension/settings on your machine since you're sewing through paper.  I loosened the tension slightly and increased my stitch length because I noticed some of my stitching with looking tight. It would be a good idea to play around with the settings on a practice card.
Start at the bottom tip of the heart and work your way up the first side and around the first hump. When you reach the middle point, keep your needle in the fabric/paper, lift the presser foot, and swivel the whole thing so you can do the next side.
Be careful when stitching around the curves, but also keep it moving! And be sure to keep a good hold on the heart since it's not pinned! Don't worry if it's not perfect- mine certainly aren't!
Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end, and clip the threads close the fabric.
Now repeat with how ever many cards you plan to make!

Here's what they'll look like when they're finished!
Beautiful! Just a few more steps to go!

Now when you're done sewing, the back will look like this. You'll see the stitching.
To cover it, we glued a Valentine's poem to the back.

  Then Titus signed the cards, and we stamped some hearts.

For the front, we stamped each of the their friends' names, or stamped the word "Love."
You can decorate your cards any way you'd like by rounding the corners, using decorative scissors, stickers, rub-ons, etc. 

Now they're done and we have a stack of envelopes ready to mail to lots of loved very-missed friends and cousins in MI!

For another Valentine's craft idea, click over to make a Valentines Garland!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

chalkboard kitchen wall

Thanks for all the birthday wishes this week! I had a wonderful birthday, made special by my amazingly sweet husband and my two precious children! I really am so blessed! God is good!

Over the weekend, we painted our kitchen! :) I'm so in love with the new colors! I feel such a freshness when I walk in the kitchen and was such a pick-me-up on my birthday! It feels like me- like US- and I'm excited about this blank canvas of neutral gray walls to bring lots of color to!
Here's the before and after.



I also wanted a very dark gray for the back splash behind the stove and sink. Instead of spending more money on paint that I only needed very little of, I decided to use what I had on hand- chalkboard paint!

I was finally able to cure it today and was very pleased with how it turned out and looks with the rest of the kitchen! We'll be tackling the cabinets next!

Here some highlights from my little birthday party, that show off the kitchen color too!

Crazy kids, yummy goodies!

It's not a birthday party without hats, according to Titus!
Love my kids!!!

Enjoying my new birthday present... especially since I currently have dishes to do and floors to sweep! :P

Today I'm linking up with the following:
The Shabby Creek Cottage
Somewhat Simple

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

a mama's birthday...

Here I am, sitting on my couch, in my pjs still at 10:30am and I haven't had a shower yet...
Today is my 27th birthday...

(Last year, I shared on my old blog about having birthday blues as a mom, when our birthdays become overshadowed by everything else in life)

I think the birthday blues are ever-present as a mom of young kids!

This is my first birthday after our big move, and it's brought on homesickness for all the friends and family we left it MI! It's easy to have a little pity party thinking about the fact that I'll be home most of the day alone with my two little kids, as if it's any other day...

Cleaning up messes, breaking up fights, disciplining misbehavior, wiping dirty bottoms, lots of noise, making peanut butter sandwiches... this is what my birthday has consisted of so far!

As I look around at my life today and realize the blessings that my 27 years of life have brought me, my birthday has become a day to celebrate the good things in my life and be thankful, and not to do whatever I want (like sleep in hehe) and be selfish on my day! :)

I have two sweet kids, who are a lot of work right now, but a few birthdays spent serving them, is nothing compared to the blessing that they are and the importance they are eternally!

My husband is such an example of selfless, Christ-like love and humbles me with his constant service and others-centeredness attitude! He knows my birthday means alot to me and does what he can to make it special. It may not be like how my mom would do it, but I've learned to change my expectations and appreciate all the good things that do happen!

As a mom, it's the little things that I've come to appreciate....
Last night, it was sitting in the corner of a dimly-lit restaurant with my husband alone, enjoying a quiet dinner without having to inhale my food or stop to feed kids or cut up food! It was NICE!
On Saturday, my husband lined up babysitting in the morning so we could sit at Starbucks and drink some coffee together!

This birthday, more than any other, I've realized I want different things than ever before.
Time alone with my hubby!
Eat at a restaurant we would never take our kids to...
Get to actually eat my meal uninterrupted...
Enjoy some peace and quiet...
Walk around a store alone or with just my husband...

It's the little things now that matter most!

Here are a few other birthday blessings-

I got this book for my birthday and have already finished reading it! Inspired You has truly inspired me and because of it, I completely repainted my kitchen (with more to come!) :) I'll have to do an official review soon, because think most if not all of you would LOVE this book!

I love the new colors in my kitchen and the fact that some fresh paint in the house, truly makes the space to start to feel like my own! I love that the neutral colors will make brighter colors I'll decorate with just pop.

I can't wait to eat this yummy cake that my hubby made for me! It's a dark chocolate cake with a hint of coffee flavor!! Mmmmm

And although I'm a little more homesick this birthday, and am really longing for a girl's night with two very special friends, I'm thankful for this day to reflect on God's blessings in my life, and to enjoy all the good things that God sends to bless me this day! God reminded me this morning that this isn't my day, it's His day that he's given me to live for him, not myself!

I'm also thankful for so many birthday greetings, texts, calls, cards, etc!
 It's a huge reminder of all of the people in my life Ive been blessed to know and many who are praying for me today! Thanks for the encouragement that so many of you have been to me today!

Friday, February 1, 2013

tutorial : valentine's day garland

Happy February!!!

February is my birthday month!
And many other wonderful things happen this month, including lots of other family birthdays and Valentines day!

Here is a fun Valentines decoration I made last year that I posted on my old blog.
I pulled this baby out of a box while I was unpacking my craft room a couple weeks, and knew that I had to share it again!

This Valentine's Felt Garland would be really fun to make with your kids (that is, if your kids are old enough to use scissors!) with many ways to decorate!

Here are some decor ideas that I wish I could do with my garland:

~ drape it on a mantle
~ wrap it around a small Christmas tree to make a "valentines tree"

Ultra Easy Instructions:
*Cut hearts and other various shapes out of red,pink,white, etc Felt
 you can have your kids help with this.
(this is what takes the most time)
*Sew all your shapes together by feeding them one by one, back to back under the presser foot of your machine.

Now you have a fun, easy Valentine's Decoration that is so versatile, you can use it every year in a different way!

Let me know you decorate with yours!!!