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All is Calm... All is Bright

"All is calm, All is bright..."


Those words lift the weary soul, don't they?
Just thinking about all being calm, brings peace and quiet to my busy heart.
I strive for simplicity.  For calm and peace. 

 At times, I get discouraged when things are hectic and disheveled.
But, I have to remember, that before "all was calm and bright,"
things were uncertain and frightening.
Before the "calm and bright" was a long journey.
A journey that was uncomfortable, tiring, and seemingly never ending
Before the "calm and bright" there was no room in the inn.
There was a mere stable with no proper bed.

It's good to know that with all that is left on the to-do list,
there will be rest to be found.
There will be rest for your weary and tired soul.
There will be a blessing beyond the Christmas presents.
The "calm and bright" lasts well past the physical celebration.
It is such a relief to finally reach the birth of peace and calm.
Have a Merry Christmas.  We will see you in 2015!

A Merry Christmas



We're almost there.
We're almost to Christmas!
As we've been venturing through our advent book this year,
one little step at a time,
I struggle to keep my emotions in check.
The kids look at me a little bewildered-
Mom, this is great news!  Why are you almost crying?

Some won't understand why I get emotional.
They will never quite get it.
I go to bed every night and beg God to make this baby,
the baby who was born in a dirty, cold stable, the center of my heart.
I beg for Him to be the cornerstone of every decision and motive in my life.

That is why I barely make it through our Advent time without soaking the pages.
It was Him all along.
He wasn't some "last minute" plan that God threw in because He was between a rock and a hard spot.
Jesus... He was the plan for all eternity.

Christmas is such a wonderful time of year.
It is filled with family, presents, and cherished memories.
I, honestly, spend most of the year waiting on this one holiday to come around.
Then, when it does, the gravity of the whole story- a true story-
is almost more than my heart can take.

In a few months, I'll be on my knees thanking Him for dying on a cross,
but now... I'm in awe of how this beautiful love story all began.
God makes no mistakes.
 The birth of Jesus is the beginning of the biggest love offering there was or ever will be.
Hold tight to the truth.  It's all we have.  Love on your family.  Freeze their excitement and squeals of happiness in your minds.  It's all part of the joyous season, but pause for a minute.  Pause and let your heart steady on the raw, beautiful truth behind it all. 

 He was born, in a manger.  His mama, I'm sure, was terrified and unsure of what was to come.  His daddy was trusting in the vision he had been given.  But, this little baby's Father... He knew all along.  We need the true story of Christmas.  We need it to center every breath we take.


Merry Christmas.

Milestones | Sweet Ella's Birthday



This girl.  She turned seven.
How does this happen??
My precious little girl who kept me up at all hours of the day (and night) for weeks.
The babe that broke me in real good in regards to this momma business.

She taught me how to be sleep deprived and still get up the next day
 and smile because my heart was so full.  
She taught me how to clean up a "blow out" with one hand in the back seat at a wedding reception.
She taught me how to snuggle up on the couch and forget all the "to-dos" waiting to be completed.
She taught me how to love a sweet voice saying, "mommy," more than anything else in the world.



I know everyone says this about their kid, but I really mean it-
she has the best heart around.
This girl, there is something special about her.
Not like "Miss America" special,
but- special.
She cares. She has a heart of gold. She is willing to put herself aside for others.
The way she prays for others melts my heart, but not as much as it melts her Father's heart, I'm sure.



She's one in a million and I am humbled to have her as my own.
Happy Birthday, my Sugar Punkin.

DIY | Peppermint Soap

I wrote this post for Sugar Bee Crafts earlier this month, but I wanted to share it here in case you missed it and needed a last minute gift idea!
This project can make as much, or as little, as you desire and can be customized.  I made Peppermint soap because it was festive and I had the essential oils on hand.  You can make any scent you'd prefer.


Let's jump right in and see what we need for this easy project.
These items can be found at any hobby store.
Ingredients:
* Glycerin
* Red Soap Dye
* Peppermint Essential Oil (I used this brand)
*Soap Mold
*Microwaveable Container (one with a spout) 
*Twine, Paper, or Ribbon for wrapping


Gather your ingredients and let's get started!  First, you will want to break your glycerin into small blocks.  Put them in a microwaveable container and cook in 30 second intervals.  Stir after each 30 seconds until the glycerin is completely melted.  

Once the glycerin is melted, put 5-10 drops of peppermint oil in the melted glycerin and stir.
 Mmmm... smells devine!


You will then pour the mixture into the soap molds.
Drop 2-4 drops of red soap dye into the molds and stir with a toothpick.
Let the soap cool completely before removing from the molds.


Once you remove your bars of soap, tie some pretty twine or ribbon around it and set it under the tree.  Or, just go ahead and use it for yourself!

I hope you loved this quick, easy, and fun tutorial!!
Here are a couple more DIY posts for ya!

                    

DIY | Personalized Gift Tags


I love personalizing all the gifts under the tree.
The kids get a kick out of it and I kind of like looking at the sweet faces, too.
A few years ago I made gift tags using stamps when bad lighting and brown paper was all the rage,
and this year I made personalized tags with my peep's pictures on them.

These don't have to be perfect.  If you are a pack-rat, I wouldn't recommend making these, because you will just have a hard time tossing the tags once the packages have been ripped into.
I, on the other hand, will have no trouble throwing them away, since I am not sentimental like that.
I opted for the yarn/pompom look this year, but you can garnish your gifts however you want!
I just think they look prettier when they are "glammed" up a bit.

Here is what you will need:
+ Pictures of your loved ones
+Card Stock (I used filing folders for mine!)
+ Glue Stick
+Hole Punch
+Sharpie Markers
+Cute Accessories to use in the Wrapping process



1. Grab all of your supplies and get ready to make your gift tags.
I have pictures for each of my loved ones ready to go.  

2. Glue the pictures on the folders/card stock, leaving enough room to write who the gift is from.

3. Cut the tags out.  I didn't worry about how straight it was and just free-handed them (since I am not going to keep them, remember... they will be tossed in the trash later. ;)).
I also wrote who the gifts were from at this point.  I knew that Mark and I were getting them one gift and the kids were getting each other one gift, as well, so that is how I labeled them.  You can, certainly, wait until you use them on the actual gift before you label them!

4. Hole punch each gift tag, making sure to punch far enough in that your tag doesn't rip off.

Put them on your gifts and enjoy the personalized memories
 as you celebrate Jesus and giving this year!





Enjoy!!  Merry Christmas!

Recipe // Silk Cashew Milk Waffles


One breakfast we often enjoy are waffles.
We love waffles and I always use my Nene's Dutch Honey.
 My kids have grown to love her special syrup just like I do.
Any time I can throw in some extra protein and nutrients, I do!

High carb breakfasts often leave my crew hungry an hour later, 
and with school,
ain't nobody got time for that!
So, when I got the chance to use Silk Cashew Milk in my waffles,
I jumped at the chance!  
They were sweet and hearty, and the kids loved the added flavor!


Here is my sweet recipe:

Ingredients:

2 cups Flour
1 3/4 cup Silk Cashew Milk
2 eggs
4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
Your favorite syrup!

Directions:
Mix all liquid ingredients together.  Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt to the liquid.
Mix well.  Pour 1/4 cup of batter into a hot waffle iron.  Serve with syrup and Silk Cashew Milk!

Enjoy!

If you are interested in learning more about the newest Silk product... sign up for the newsletter!
You also get a free coupon when you sign up!
Have you tried Silk before?  Hop over to their Facebook page and let them know what you think!  It only helps them make the best products!!

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

Motherhood Monday | Encouragement

I wrote this post for Aliesha about a month ago.
I wanted to share it here, in case some of you missed it.


There are some mommas who know in their bones they were made for motherhood.
They spent a great deal of their childhood playing "house" 
and dressing up their pets so they could treat them as their baby.
I was one of those mommas.
From very early on, I dreamt about what motherhood would be like.
To be honest, I thought about being a momma more than I did about my wedding.


Now, as a momma to my four little crew-members,
I can taste and feel motherhood in my bones.
I am on the battle lines of motherhood and it is so much more
fulfilling and overwhelming than I could have imagined it to be 
as my young self so many years ago.

With all the wonderful blessings that come with motherhood, 
there comes a fear- almost from instinct.
Being on the front lines can be suffocating and often times can make you feel
like you weren't cut out to be with all the other mommas in the trenches.


Other moms are doing life better than you.
Other moms have it together while you struggle to simply tread water.
Other moms were made for this journey, 
while you somehow snuck your way in through the back door of motherhood.


I want to encourage you.
I want to tell you that you are exactly where you need to be,
relying on God's grace and provision in spite of your weaknesses.
I want you to know that your babies were knit inside your womb
because God knew that you were the momma your kiddos needed.
Those mommas who are part of the blessing of adoption,
God created your child for you.
He knew, from the very beginning,
 that you were the perfect one to love, train, and kiss that baby,
even though you didn't carry him in your belly.

So, when you are out there treading water with one last breath to take,
remember that you are right where you need to be-
being stretched and molded by your Father in heaven.

Lately | What I am Loving

Here we go, folks.  A large dose of "What I am Loving" lately.
There have been a few things I have really been digging recently.
Some are daily indulgences, some not so often, but no less lovely.


/Gilmore Girls/
I watched this a little here and there when I was younger, but I was never a solid Gilmore Girls viewer.  Another blogger kept mentioning it on Instagram, so I decided to give it a go.  It is totally up my alley as far as humor.  I think it is pretty funny, but there is one thing that drives me nuts.  I have never understood why using foul language (there isn't hardly any of this) or the Lord's name in vain (this is the one that bothers me most) adds to a show or movie.  Why does it have to be thrown in?  Just use "golly" or "goodness" or even "gosh," people!  I will help you rewrite your scripts!

/Weaving/
I made a loom (of course I will do a tutorial for you- thanks for asking;)).  I bought a few skeins of yarn.  I wove those said skeins of yarn on the homemade loom.  I am now happy to say that I have a lovely and imperfect tapestry hanging in my bedroom.  Mark is already begging me to make him one for his side off the bed.  And, for his office at work.  And, a woven seat cover for his vehicle.  I'm a weaving legend in this house.  Kidding.  

/Makeup/
I have said it before, but I found a brand of makeup (about 9 months ago) that I have fallen in love with.  There are so many great things I love about Root- it is run by a young momma, it's at a great price point, it's long lasting, it's versatile, etc.  My skin looks the best it has in years and I chalk it up to cleaning my skin well, moisturizing my skin well, and using this makeup.  It is healthy, vegan, organic, void of harsh fillers, and the list could go on and on.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.  If you do buy some Pearl Powder, make sure you have a good kabuki brush (if you don't, buy Root's brush... it is so dense and applies the makeup beautifully, plus it is at a good price point, too!!).  It can make or break your application.  You can use "rootliz" for a free eyeshadow!!!

/Rain Boots/
I am crossing my fingers and hoping that I get a pair of rain boots.  I particularly love the Sperry brand, but I'm not too picky.  I have seen them out and about on Pinterest and I love how they look.  It would be a total splurge to have these boots.  None the less, if you are in the "boot department" and don't know where to turn... this is a good place to start.

/ This Cap/
It's cute and perfect since I don't like to wash my hair very often.  Find it here.

/This Shop/
I have always loved these scarves.  They look so soft and have the perfect amount of density.
Find it here.   

DIY | Evergreen Wreaths


It's Christmas time, and what is more festive than a REAL evergreen wreath?
Not much!  I sent my sweet hubby out into the timber to cut some evergreen twigs so I could make a few wreaths.  I also went to Lowe's and snagged some of their clippings for free! So, if you don't have access to "wild" trimmings, head to Lowe's and look for the huge box of evergreen clippings in the corner of the garden section!

Okay, here we go with the simple and CHEAP tutorial.
Seriously, you should have pretty much everything on hand,
and the supplies you don't have on hand will either be free (trimmings), or cost you mere dollars!
It was rainy and cold when I made these, so I pulled out an old sheet to set all my supplies on so my carpet didn't get flooded with the needles and such.  

Supplies:
Evergreen Twigs (lots!)
Clippers, Snippers- whatever you need to trim the evergreen to your liking
Wire Hangers- or something else to use as a wreath form
Green Wire or Twine
Glue Gun
Ribbon


First, bend your hangers into the shape and size you want for your wreath.  I cut mine with wire cutters so I could have some larger and some slightly smaller.  I was going for a more eclectic look.

Next, grab some of your trimmings and begin to tie them onto the hangers with the wire.  
I used gloves simply because the "wild" trimmings were splintery and I didn't want to wreck my hands while doing this project.  
If you feel like your wreaths need a little more denseness, grab a hot glue gun and glue some small pieces where you feel they need it.


I hung my wreaths up in our big picture window using a mesh ribbon.  If you don't want your wreaths to spin and move, either nail them right against the window, or try a wired ribbon to hang them so they won't twist.  


They look so great and I love how airy and mismatched they are.  I was so excited to do this little project because I felt like something was missing when I looked at the windows.  These little wreaths pull it all together!


Have a great Christmas season!

The Happenings




 

|| Our house has been filled with cinnamon candles, twinkling lights, and Christmas music.
It is so, so much fun!!  We have been working through our Advent book and it is short,
but perfect for the younger kids' attention span.
On the down side...
I haven't prepared a Christmas card yet.
I wrestle with whether, or not, to do one.
I love having them to tuck away for safe keeping,
but the thought of preparing, buying, addressing, and mailing one,
when I know majority of receivers of said card will just toss them
makes me want to ax the whole idea and forget about it.
But, then I won't have the year end solidified with a glossy card of my little crew members.
The struggle is real, people!

I think I just decided- snap a picture and print off some cheap cards.
Done, and done.

|| The next item is this shirt.  I love it.  It has a message.
My hope everyday is that I make a difference.  I have four sweet babes and sometimes I feel like 
it isn't enough.  That being a momma isn't enough of a difference.  I should do more.
I need to volunteer more.  I need to give more. Yada, yada, yada.
But this shirt, tells me to make a difference here and now with these four 
precious souls.  Good stuff.  

This shop also has a great message.  I will let you visit the shop and read all about it.
Such a powerful vision and mission.

|| I have a fun little tutorial coming up!  I have been wanting to make evergreen wreaths for several years, but never bit the bullet.  This is the year and I have finally done it!  
The smell, the texture, the color- so perfect!  I will give you a step by step later this week.
I know... you're on pins and needles.  I don't blame you.

|| I look forward to Sundays.  I don't know why, because they are so busy and force me to get out of my schedule, but I do.  I love seeing friends and watching my kids build relationships. 
 We come home from a long morning and eat a warm lunch, then it's family nap time! 
 Some days the little girls don't quite make it through lunch before they are whooped.
I am the same way.  Naps on Sundays are a must.

|| And, last but not least, a random picture of me not looking at the camera with a messy mop on my head and a flannel shirt.  
It really needs no caption, but there ya go- "messy mop, flannel wearing mom."

Guest Post // Easy Peppermint Soap

Today I am guest posting over at Sugar Bee Crafts.
Mandy is sharing a ton of fun, festive Christmas crafts and treats this month.
Hop on over to see the entire post.
The step-by-step tutorial is soooo easy and is a perfect gift idea for Christmas!!!


Our Night in Black & White

After Thanksgiving, we have started the tradition of watching Christmas movies and going
to see Christmas lights.  The first movie we watched was Rudolph.
Julia napped while the older kids crowded on the couch.  Ella always covers her eyes when the abominable snowman comes on the screen.  Liam, on the other hand, marvels at how big the deer's antlers are. 

Mark and Ella have an, "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine," agreement.  Ella will scratch Mark's back for about fifteen minutes, then he will rub her leg for the rest of the movie.  It works out pretty good for the both of them!

Guinnyth, oh sweet Guinnyth.  She lasts for about five/ten minutes before she is up exploring and causing a ruckus.  The next movie will be The Polar Express and I will have to pop some stove-top popcorn and whip up some hot cocoa.   

What are some of your Christmas traditions?  
Do you wait until after Thanksgiving to start celebrating?





A Merry Target Christmas


I have been adding touches of Christmas to our home the past week, or two.
I have acquired this and that over several years.
I love going to Target the week after Christmas to get their awesome deals.
I have Black Friday shopped before and had a great time,
but if you want really good deals on decor- go the week after Christmas.
You can save so.much.money if you wait and shop after season!!

My favorite place to shop is Target.
For some reason I really love their style.
They are so on-trend and I could pretty much put one of everything in my cart.
It's probably a really good thing that I rarely go there anymore.
A really good thing,
because I went there they other day as I was getting goodies for Ella's birthday
and I was swooning over everything.
I hadn't felt the urge to shop in a really long time,
but one step into Target and it all goes down the tube.
They sure know how to market.

The past few years they have had neutral lovelies in their Christmas section.
I managed to snatch a few of them up at great prices!
Let's take a look, shall we?

Neutral Sweater Trees and Star
+I got these adorable little sweater trees and two sweater stars
 two years ago for just a couple of bucks a piece.
They add some texture, but don't knock you out with bling and bright colors
(though I do love some bling and bright colors on occasion).
The stars match the trees and are simple, yet festive.




Tiny Trees
+These cuties came from the Target dollar section.
I do find it interesting that the dollar section has now become the $1-$3 section.
Bumpin' it up two dollars really puts a damper on my dollar bin shopping.
I did manage to snag two of these, though.
I felt like $3 was pretty reasonable because the trees feel sturdy and durable.


PS.  Those tea light holders were $1 a piece after season last year at Target!!!

Soft, Warm Plus Sheets
+These sheets weren't on sale, but they are soft and warm
 (just what I need during the cold months) and I love the simplicity.
We were still sleeping on a pair of sheets we got for our wedding (10+years ago),
so I felt justified in making this little purchase.
Who knew that a pair of sheets would make you feel different about sleeping?
I am excited to snuggle up in them at night.


Glittered Woodland Tree
+  I love this tree.  It has some bling
 (see, every once in awhile we all need some bling!), but in a muted way.
It looks great with our Taffy cow print and my grandma's white porcelain tree.
 


Gold Glittered Pine cones
+Yep, these babies needed some decking, too.
The antlers got a nice dose of Christmas cheer with some white pom poms and 
after-season glittered pine cones.  These came in a pack of 10 for mere dollars. 
They were cheap, but the glitter stays put pretty well.


There ya have it!  That is how I like to shop for holiday decor.
After season and cheap!  I love having a festive house, but buying $100 wreaths is just
not in the cards for us.  This is more fun anyhow!


Reflection // Babies, Blogging, and Blooming

We are about to close the year 2014
 (I know, we just finished Thanksgiving, but seriously- it's flying!),
and so much has happened these past 11-ish months. 
We had a beautiful baby who has been such a sweet addition to our family.
She truly is the best baby ever.
We love passing her around as we sit on the couch, from lap to lap.
She has the most laid back disposition and has made the transition to four so, so good.


This has been the busiest and most successful year for my blog.
It all started, years ago, when I kept hearing people talk about blogs.
I had no idea what one was (I think I was still using MySpace at the time- embarrassing),
but when I laid my eyes on one, I loved it!
All the craftiness and amazing talent going on held so much excitement for me!
I was a stay-at-home momma to two kiddos and was looking for a way
to connect to other women.  A way to feel a little less alone.
The first blogs I gravitated towards were craft blogs.
I had no idea what you could do with some hot glue and spray paint!
It was then, in January of 2011, that I started this little blog.
Those first posts are so rough and a little awkward to read.
They were mostly comprised of photos taken in "auto" with bad lighting 
and a few sentences to caption the pictures.
But, we've come a long way, baby.
This year has been good to my small corner of the blog-world.
I am hoping the next twelve months will be just as good!


I have enjoyed so many snippets of life this year.
I have loved watching my kiddos bond and love on one another.
We have watched the snow fall, trees bloom, and leaves scatter
all from the comfort of our front porch windows.
Mark and I have journeyed through the highs and lows and it feels so nice to 
be able to reflect and rejoice together.
I think we're really coming into our own as far as this little family is concerned.
We have a groove going on and it suits us.
It's not anyone else's groove- just ours.


I also have come to realize that a family with four kids isn't so "big."
I laugh when people see me and "gasp" when they discover I am the momma to four kiddos.
I would have "gasped" too, not too long ago, but now...
it feels normal.
Herding my crew across a parking lot might take a bit more coordination,
but it's not so bad.
Four is my cozy spot.  I think I'll sink into it and stay awhile.

What exciting things have graced your 2014?