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Weekend Links | Clothing, Snacks, Mamas, and Pizza


We're taking on this weekend like a bunch of ninjas.  Taking every moment captive and leaving nothing for chance.  Actually, it's probably going to be filled with snuggles and ice cream, but I had to share this picture.  Ella is really into making "inventions" (sorry, sister, but masks and swords have been around for a long time.) and she came up from rest time last week with masks and swords for the boys.  Give a girl some tape and paper and she can do anything! 

Now, onto some links I felt worthy of sharing.  I hope you have a happy weekend!  

+ I don't think this is the first time I have endorsed Be Still Clothing.  I love the message they have and I love their clothes.  Right now, I'm digging this wide neck sweatshirt.  So cute.  It's still winter.  I think I would have several good months of wear before I needed to pack it away for summer.

+ I am going to whip up a few of these snacks this week.  I'm not sure I can get Mark to eat any of them, but they all sound delish to me!  Plus, they are healthy and swim suit season is headed our way.
+ This blog.  This post.  I totally relate and I think most of you would, too.  I remember so clearly being a young mama to two kiddos.  It was such a sweet time and I see myself in this mama a lot.

+You all know my love of pizza.  I can't eat it while pregnant and I crave it the entire time.  It's always the first thing I ask for after delivery (that, and a cinnamon roll).  That's how much I adore this lovely, doughy mealtime creation.  I am planning on trying this recipe out.  I hope it's as good as it looks!

Makeup | Natural Eye Tutorial

 

Every gal needs a go-to, quick eye routine for those busy days.  When I need to look pulled together, but don't have a lot of time, I always go for a natural and subtle look.  Over a year ago I switched all of my makeup to a natural, organic, vegan makeup line.  They have omitted a lot of chemicals and maintain an amazing product.  I threw out all of my makeup and only have the Root brand in my makeup drawer (except for a few makeup brushes, but I am in the process of overhauling those, too.).


These are the color products that I use for my natural eye look.  I currently use Pearl Powder (shade 1) for my eyeshadow base color, but I am about to get Shell and that will replace the pearl powder.  The All Day Pretty Gel liner is amazing.  It is super creamy and easy to work with, but when it dries... it dries!  You won't have smudging with this product.  I never put on makeup without paying attention to my brows.  If you are apprehensive about using a brow product, try the Root brow powders.  They are very natural and super easy to work with.  I also use this product to contour my nose (I know... very versatile!). Tan Rose is a very natural gold/peach/pinky shade that would work for all complexions.  I have to force myself to NOT use it every single time I do my makeup.  I love it so much!  


All the other products can be found on Root's website.  I highly recommend the fluffy shadow brushes and the 100% Lash Mascara.  They are so lovely to work with.  


Okay, now onto the tutorial.  The resolution isn't the greatest, so bear with me as I work on upping my videoing skills.  I will be trying to improve upon that for future videos.  Enjoy!

Motherhood Monday | A Letter



To the Mother Embarking on this Journey...

I saw your picture tonight on Facebook.  You know, the one with your hubby snuggling your precious firstborn.  I cried.  I cried because I remember that moment like it was yesterday.  I remember my husband flying my firstborn around like an airplane while laying on the couch.  I remember him sitting at the computer with her propped up on his lap.  I remember him working tirelessly building our house, crouched on hands and knees laying our floors.  Below him, there she was, hammering right along watching his every move.

I am writing you because I didn't know.  I didn't know how much those moments would mean to me years later.  I had no idea how they would move my mama's heart to tears.  I had no idea that they would be mere memories so quickly.

No one can truly explain how precious those moments are.  You are in the midst and it seems like you have all the time in the world to soak it up.  Those sweet glances from a freshly bathed babe and the giggles that can stop time in its tracks.  It seems like it will hang on forever- but, it doesn't.  One day, those cheeks will thin down and the dimpled hands you used to hold will shows signs of aging.  The "mommys" will turn into "moms" and you won't know where the time has gone.  But it has- it's gone.

So, from a mommy who is bidding her "baby years" goodbye, to a mommy beginning it all... cover yourself in it.  Let yourself bathe in the blessing of baby-hood.  Rock that baby at 2 am and don't wish a moment away.  Hold her, even when she's been crying for an hour straight, and relish in the time not wasted.  It is not time wasted.

There will be pressure.  I'm telling you right now, there will be temptation to hope and wish for the future.  To dream about the days when you won't be toting a diaper bag.  The days when you can get in the car and all your crew members can buckle themselves.  You will sit in that chair, at 2 am as you are rocking your sweet baby, and you will be tempted to wish the late night feedings gone.  Don't.  Don't allow yourself to be sucked into the mindset that tells you the grass is greener.  Precious Mama, the grass is perfect right where you are.

Weekend Links | For the Bloggers

I have a lot of readers who blog.
I get a lot of blogging questions and since I am no expert,
I decided to make this post for those who want to grow their blog.
Here are several articles I found very helpful and inspiring.
If you aren't a blogger, sorry... see you Monday! :)


How Did You Grow Your Blog |  This article brings together several successful bloggers and answers some major blogging questions.  It is interesting to see their perspective and gain a little knowledge on how they became successful.

How to Get Sponsored Blog Posts | This article narrows down the different sponsored opportunities for bloggers.  One way to make money is to write sponsored posts.  You sign up with a sponsor platform and then get offers to write sponsored posts.  This article shares a few of those options.

Creating a Blogging Income | Oak & Oats lays out all the different avenues for making money while blogging.  There is money to be made, you just have to know where to look.  This is a great article to start with.  

Blogging Prompts |  It is so easy to start a blog and write.  The hard thing is to be able to dig up great content after the well has gone dry.  I have a pretty active life- with four kids and such- so I have a lot I can write about, but there are times I sit at the keyboard and wonder what I should share.  If you find yourself struggling with what to write, push through the block and try a blogging prompt.  Usually, after I get the juices flowing, it comes pretty easily.

A Better Looking Blog | The last article I am going to share is about blog design.  This is one area I hope to work on in this next year.  How your blog presents itself is huge in the blogging world!  You have to have your game face on the minute a reader hits your doorstep.  This article gives you a few easy steps to making the best impression!  I fully believe in a clean, simple layout (obviously).  It is sharp, modern, and doesn't distract from the content.  

I hope you enjoy these articles.  They are all quick reads and very helpful!

Beginning Homeschooler | Ebook

 

I have been working on this project for nine months now.  I started it right before Julia was born and finally put the finishing touches on it.  I spent hours searching my heart about what I wanted to tell beginning (and, not so beginning) homeschool mamas.  When I began this journey, I needed someone to help me along- emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  I needed information in a clear, concise format.  I needed to know what was up ahead and how to deal with it.  

This ebook was written to answer those questions.  

What is this "nudging" I am feeling?
Where do I begin?
How do I make this work with multiple children?
What do I do with my kids all day?
How do I pick curriculum?
What are my favorite resources?
How do I lesson plan?

and so much more!

I poured my heart into this ebook for months- adding and taking away.  I feel like it is perfect for the overwhelmed, confused homeschooling mom.  It is like sitting down and having a heart-to-heart with your best friend.  If you have been on this course for a few years and need to feel some encouragement, this is the book for you!  If you are just beginning to consider homeschooling, this book is for you!  If you are just curious about our homeschooling journey and how it works for us, this book is for you!  

I hope you find this book to be a blessing.  It was a labor of love for me and I am so excited to get to finally share it with you!

You can purchase this ebook from my sidebar, or directly below. 


Add to Cart

Today is My Favorite

Motherhood is tough.  It's especially difficult when you do motherhood alone.  I love bringing mamas together so we can encourage one another.  Nicole is a sweet mama who loves her family fiercely and she is here to share with you!


Hey friends!  My name is Nicole and I am married to my best friend, Adam.  We have two little dudes we call Emmett Dane and Gideon Brian Steele.  Each day I keep the home fires burning in our 120 year-old-house, where you can find me creating, making yummy things to eat and sharing my love of essential oils.  



You might say I wear my heart on my blog, Today is My Favorite.  Most days it's a happy mess of boy toys, our favorite treats and life as a creative.  Other days it is brokenness and stories of the life's messiness, though always hopeful that each day we are being remade.

My heart beats to see women live in community together while pursuing their dreams for the honor and glory of Jesus.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I honestly believe it takes a village for any of us to do life.  It's my hope that through my small presence online, I can create an uplifting community of love, so consider this your invitation to join the family.  



And just in case you can't get enough of the two cutest little dudes you ever saw, be sure to join me on my ultimate social media crush, Instagram.  That's where the good stuff really goes down everyday.  I also dabble in twittering and Facebook through the day and tend to over-pin house-spiration on a regular basis.

Okay!  Enough from the me. . .  please come find me via your own favorite avenue of social media  and tell me what I need to know about you.  I already know we'll be great friends.

xo-
n

Motherhood Mondays | Tales from a Husband

  


Hey there – I’m Mark.  
You may have seen my name mentioned in some of Liz’s blog posts and I may have even flown under the radar with an alias, such as…hubby, father of 4, superintendent (since we homeschool J), etc.  Now that you are seeing the correlation and the relation that Liz and I have, I will go ahead and say it… “Yes!  I am a very lucky man!”  You may have already grasped from Liz, but I will reiterate, that God has blessed us in so many ways.  I would’ve never dreamt that our life would be what it is, but I fully believe that we are right where we need to be…right now!

Where to begin? I told Liz the other day that maybe I could write a few things down on her blogging machine, and much to my surprise, she said, “sure!”  I’m always amazed that my wife can drum up thoughts and feelings and put them into a post in such a captivating way.  I’m a guy…I’m analytical…I’m a deep thinker.  But, I’m not always so good about letting others know how I feel or portraying what I’m thinking. 

Am I making any sense? At times, I find myself becoming overwhelmed with all the thoughts that go through my head.  You see, I’m always thinking of new inventions (that never seem to make it very far), new business ideas (that usually get put on the back burner) or ways to improve our financial condition (which is a daunting task on one income for a family of six), just to name a few.  As a matter of fact, if you haven’t heard, it’s been said that the average person can have around 55k-70k thoughts over the course of one day.  Wow…that’s crazy!

So here’s my question to you… “What do you think about, when you think about, what you wanna think about?”  I asked the momma of the house this question the other day and needless to say, she just looked at me in utter confusion.  I’m sure the thought going through her mind at that time was, “yep, he really has gone mad.”  Think about that question…really think about it.  It has opened my eyes in so many ways, to the fact that many times my thoughts aren’t where they should be.  I get consumed with thinking about stuff and many times I lose focus on who and what has gotten my family where it is…God and His grace. 

Why is that?  Why do we let things distract us?  Why do we let abstract thoughts consume us?  I believe there is a battle going on in the heart of every person…a spiritual battle.  War strategies are endless, but to win a battle, one must first get rid of obstacles placed by the enemy and focus on the end game...are you tracking with me?  Therefore, I often ask myself this question (say it with me), “What do I think about, when I think about, what I wanna think about?” 

Be honest with yourself when answering that question and make adjustments to your strategy!  I think Phillipians 4:8 (NIV) says it best, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things."


Now, at this exact moment, I really need to THINK ABOUT helping my wife out…the kids are becoming restless…let the rough-housing begin J

The Happenings | This & That



Preparing | for a little mini-vaca with family in a few days.  We are meeting Mark's family at a water park hotel for an evening.  The kids are stoked and I have to admit, I am working on suppressing my excitement- not for the swimming suit, but the excitement of family time.

Reading | Mere Christianity and taking it really slow.  The words are simple, but reverent, and I am trying to focus on his heart and glean a little bit of wisdom from it all.

Hoping | That spring will come early this year and hold on a bit before summer strikes.  I am not minding the gray, snowy winter so far, but getting glimpses of warmer weather- here and there- makes me long for days spent outside.

Wanting | a king sized bed.  We sleep on my mattress from when I was 15, so it is high time we swap out for a new one.  We both love to sprawl out (and not touch anything), so we think the extra inches will be lovely.  We have our sights set on one and when we decide, I will fill you in on all the details!

Eating | lots of avocados.  I am an avocado-ian.  I love them.  I do.

Enjoying | mornings with my crew members in the schoolroom.  The deeper into the school year we get, the more satisfied I become with it all.  I see it work.  I feel less like an intruder into this little world of homeschooling.  It feels settling.

Stalking | this blogger.  She photographs her life so well and makes me want to jump in and invade her space.

Anticipating | my next hair appointment.  I think I'm chopping it off.  I might change my mind in the next six weeks, but at this moment, I have decided to go for it.

Watching | Parenthood.  Seriously?  I have a friend who has been gently recommending this show to me for awhile (as in years), but I never found the first few seasons, until we started Netflix.  Now, we sit and watch episodes in the evenings while we surf the web and "connect" with other people.  We're total multi-taskers. ;)


50 Shades vs. Song of Solomon


It wasn't too long ago, on Valentine's Day, that I sat and hoped for roses- lots of them.  I wanted to be showered with gifts and love- superficial love.  I would have gauged the success of the day on how much money was spent and how special he made me feel.  And to be honest, unless he hung the moon, I probably would have been disappointed.

It wasn't too long ago that I wanted the 50 Shades fantasy.  The passion.  The intensity.  It seemed like the ideal.  I was insecure and certainly insecure with my relationship.  I had no idea what would fulfill my heart and make me feel whole- the movies definitely make it look pretty good.  I thought that a bouquet of roses and some frivolous gifts would satisfy.

It wasn't until a few years ago, that I began to see what real love was.  It definitely wasn't risque and filled with shallow gifts.  It wasn't 50 Shades of anything.  It was and is real, deep, long-lasting, and sacrificial.


It stood by me as I delivered four babies- covered in laboring sweat and exhausted beyond belief.  It rubbed my back as I threw up during every single pregnancy with my "two-day old" messy bun and sweat pants on.  It gave baths to little ones when I was too tired and worn to do it myself.  It brought me flowers and sweet acrostic poems to brighten my day and make me feel worthy.  It shared the bed with me even when I had been unkind and deserved the couch.  It was and is real and unwavering and long-lasting.

I thought I desired the 50 Shades kind of love.  I was young and naive.  One thing, though, that I want to make abundantly clear, is that the love that I have now is a gift.  I settled for nothing short of magical, spiritual, and eternal.  And, if you're looking for intensity, this is it.  Nothing is more intense than Biblical love and intimacy.  Biblical intimacy isn't whips & chains, it's gentle and quiet and forgiving.  It loves when you're unlovable and breathes life into you when you are undeserving.

Biblical love grows old with you and sees your beauty with each aging wrinkle.  Biblical love pours into your soul and values your being.  Biblical love sees you as a gift and cherishes you like gold.  Biblical love holds your hand as you walk through life and desires you more with every step.  It might not be the 50 Shades kind of passion and lust, but intimacy isn't passion and lust.  Bondage is made up of passion and lust.  Intimacy is a God-given gift that is to be prayed over and fought for.    

*Disclaimer:  I have never read any of the 50 Shades of Grey books.  I am merely addressing the issue due to its presence on my facebook newsfeed and in the media.  

DIY | Nursery Decor


Last week, I shared a tutorial on how I made the Giraffe Canvas in our nursery.
  We love it and always get tons of compliments on it from visitors.
I was going for an airy, eclectic nursery for Guinnyth, and two years later, I am still loving it for Julia.  I have swapped out Guinnyth's and Julia's newborn pictures, but I still need to change all of the "Gs" for "Js!"  I am kind of thinking I can pretend like the "Gs" really stand for "giraffe" instead of "Guinnyth" so I don't have to change anything!

Anyway, here are a few more snapshots of the rest of the nursery.
It is simple and can grow with Julia as she gets older.  It is white with a soft green stripe at the top. Simple.


There are a few pieces that sit on the floor.  The horse, duck, and pouf are used daily by the kids.
They tend to play in the nursery a lot since it is on the main level.  I also keep my baby blanket in this room.  It is soft and "vintage" and means a lot to me.  That is hanging on the crib, but I also hang it on the back of the glider.



I made the scrapbook mobile before Guinnyth was born and Julia loves it, too!  It is colorful, cheap, and draws quite a bit of interest.  Bright. White. Simple.

Motherhood Mondays | Hope for the Weary



He wept.  We get that, right?
What that means- him shedding tears,
it means that He knows what it is like to bear a weight.
He knows what is it like to have the people he loves be disobedient.
To not see the promise and grab ahold of it with all of their might.

He gets it.  He feels where we are.

He already wept for us.
He already redeemed us.
We just have to step into him and take hold.

We will grow weary.  We will.
Don't go about your days betting on you.
You will fail every. single. day.
You will lose if you place all your chips in your corner.

It's beautiful, though.  
Without the failings, there would be no redemption.
Without that need there would be no saving grace.
The saving grace is the where it's at.
We all grow up thinking about Prince Charming.
He will come, sweep us off of our feet, and all will be right with the world.
That story might have been made up and something that dreams are made of,
but the story I'm talking about is as real as it gets.
It is raw.  It is sacrificial.  It is whole.

Jesus isn't just there when we need him.  He's there the entire time. 
He's there when we ignore him.  He's there when we cry out to him.
He's there when our entire world falls apart.
He's there.

My whole point is that we will grow weary.
We will fail.  It's in the cards.  You can't escape it.
There is hope.  A hope that surpasses all understanding.
A hope that is eternal and true and just.
We just need to grab hold and feel the warmth.

For some, motherhood is all they have ever wanted.
I realize it's not like that for all mothers.  That, in no way, makes you less.
It just means that He's there.  He's got it all figured out.

Handmade | Roar Haus

Let's start this weekend off with a GIVEAWAY from one of the most adorable handmade shops.
Amber is the sweet mama behind the Roar Haus boutique on Etsy.
She makes bonnets, quilts, wooden baby teethers, skirts, and more.
I have to add, her work is impeccable.
I was raised by a sewing mama, so I am well aware of good workmanship.
Hers is stellar!


Roar Haus sent me the Zoe Bonnet to review and I was smitten.
The colors have that vintage look that I love and the fleece inside was not only soft, but kept Julia's head warm during the recent cold snap.  
It is even big enough that both Julia and Guinnyth can wear it!


I love that this sweet bonnet can be worn for every day, for special photo occasions, or for the upcoming holidays, such as Easter and Mother's Day (it's still cool here on Mother's Day). 
Since I'm all about stretching the dollar, the fact that this bonnet will grow with Julia over the next several years is a major bonus.  I see us getting a lot of use out of it!


Here is a little bit about the brains behind Roar Haus:

Amber is a creative explorer who loves all things crafty. She enjoys quilting, sewing, painting, scrapbooking, photography and knitting. She is a life long equestrian, dog lover and runner who believes firmly in the "just be nice" mantra. She loves to share her creative adventures on her blog and offer's several of her favorite items for sale in her shop, Roar Haus and 5 Dog Vinatge.

Roar Haus Design Co. was created days after Amber's  first child, Noi, was born, as a way to share her love of quilting. It has since evolved to offer other baby related items as well as clothing for littles. 2015 is going to be a fun year for RH as they are planning on monthly limited edition runs of unique items. They are excited to see what the future holds!


And now for the good stuff... YOU get a chance to win a bonnet for your own sweet babe!
For those who can't wait... here is a special code just for you!
Use the code QUICKHAUS to get 15% off of your next purchase at ROAR HAUS!
Use the Rafflecopter below to enter the giveaway:



You can find Roar Haus here:
IG: @roarhaus 

Recipe | Festive Cookie Straws


I have such a sweet treat for you today!  I am always on the lookout for new, fun ways to celebrate those special moments.  This time, it's for Valentine's Day, but you can make these for all kinds of occasions- birthdays, holidays, random parties.  

Festive Cookie Straws!


The cookies are super simple to make and my kids helped with every step of the process.
I pulled out the sprinkles and paper straws and the kids went wild.
Anything colorful and new gets them excited.  The sprinkles were purchased from the supermarket and the straws were purchased from P.S. I Adore You.  
Let's get started!


Grab all of your supplies for the cookies- ingredients, sprinkles, straws.

+ Make your dough (recipe below)
+ roll into small balls (1 to 1/1/2 tsp)
+ press them gently to flatten them out a bit
+ and coat in sprinkles.  
I used parchment paper on my cookie sheet so the cookies would come off easily once cooked.


Once the cookies are done baking, take one of the straws and poke holes in the middle of the cookies.
Allow the cookies to cool.  Grab your mason jars and begin to gently slide your cookies onto the straws.  I went with two cookies, but you could do three, if you were feeling generous.


The best part is how festive they looked and how excited the kiddos were when they got to eat them with their milk.  Enjoy this sweet treat!

Sugar Cookie Recipe
adapted from here

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla, then gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Scoop teaspoon-size balls of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until done.
Enjoy!

DIY | Giraffe Canvas


When I first wrote this post about my DIY Giraffe Canvas, I had no idea how many people would love it!  I originally made this canvas (2 years ago) for Guinnyth's nursery after seeing a much, much pricier version on Etsy.  In order to cut the cost for redoing our nursery, I made my own.  The total cost for this project was around $10.


To make this, go to Jo-anns (or your craft closet) and pick several different fabrics- one for each giraffe. Grab the rest of the supplies and get started!


Supplies Needed:
Coordinating Fabrics
Cheap Foam Brush (you will throw this away afterwards)
Mod-Podge
Scissors
Sharpie Marker

The best part about this project is how easy it is.  

+ Trace giraffe shapes on fabric
+ Cut out giraffe shapes (stay inside the sharpie line so it doesn't show)
+ And mod-podge them onto the canvas.

It is so easy and quick!  Definitely make sure you mod-podge the entire canvas.  If you don't, you will have glossy and non-glossy areas when the sun light hits it the right way.  So, seal it all with the mod-podge. 





Let me know if you try this sweet project!  It is such an eye-catcher and doesn't cost you a ton to create.  I also think using other animals would be perfection- birds, elephants, even trees!
Enjoy!

Recipe | Gourmet Baby Food


Here I am, making homemade baby food for the fourth babe, and I am always amazed at how satisfying it is to be self-sufficient and how rewarding it is to feed my babe healthy, clean food.
This process can sound overwhelming, but it is so, so easy and I am here to show you just how easy it is to make your own gourmet baby food!


The very first step is to decide which foods you want to feed your babe.  I usually stick with butternut squash, apples, pears, bananas, avocados and carrots.  Those are pretty safe fruits/veggies to start your babe with.  I start my kiddo on a food and feed him/her that same food for several days before beginning another food.  The nice thing about homemade baby food is that it keeps for many months in the freezer, so there is no rush to feed all the food to your baby before it goes bad.


1.  Step one, pick up some organic, fresh fruits and veggies at the supermarket.  Let them ripen and then clean them so you can get started making your baby food!

2.  Next, slice your fruits and veggies.  Leave the skins on.  If you need to thin out your baby food later, you can use the water from steaming the food to thin it.  The skins have so many nutrients, so leave them on!  Once they are sliced, steam them on your stove.  

3.  Once your food is steamed and soft, put it in a bowl to cool.  You can slice and steam other foods while you wait for your hot food to cool.  This will allow you to make several foods at once.  


4.  Once your food is cooled, peel the skins off.  I do leave some skins on if they are thin skins, such as pears.  They add nutrients and calories.  

5.  Next, you will put the food in a blender, food processor, or mini-chopper.  Puree your food until it's a smooth consistency.  If your babe is just starting food, make it pretty smooth.  If you are making purees for older babes who are familiar with eating, chewing, gumming foods, you can keep a thicker/chunkier consistency.  

6.  The last thing you will do is put (cooled- it will be less likely to get freezer burn when it is cooled completely) the purees in ice cube trays.  Put glad sticky wrap on top of the trays and place in the freezer.  Allow to freeze all the way and then place in labeled, dated ziploc bags- place back in the freezer.


To use your baby food cubes, remove the desired number of cubes from the freezer and place in a bowl the night before you need them.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator to thaw.  By morning, the cubes will be ready for your sweet babe's breakfast!  

Enjoy!

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