Love Story

Monday, February 28, 2011

Re-purposing formula cans into centerpieces

After nursing for 8 months straight our little guy up and  refused to nurse anymore so we have entered back into the world of formula. I can't help but think every time we finish a can that there is something more I could do with it than put it in the trash. When Nathan was a baby I made noise makers out of his formula cans but I wanted to do something more decorative this time around. So I searched around for a little bit of inspiration and found some at deWolde Daily and ISLY. Combining these two ideas I came up with a cute spring looking centerpiece. Those flowers may not be blooming outside yet but I sure can pretend spring is around the corner inside my house!

Here's what you need:

* Formula can (or other food/coffee can)
* Paper - I used wrapping paper but wallpaper, construction, scrapbook paper would work as well
* Mod Podge (or glue or tape)
* Wooden skewers
* Ribbon
* ruler
* scissors
* hot glue
* buttons

Ready to get started? Let me loosely walk you through it:

1. Remove label from can and clean out the inside.

2. Measure can and cut paper to match:

3. Stick paper to can using your preferred method. Let me say that Mod Podge on wrapping paper didn't work out as well as I hoped. It wasn't a totally smooth finished project. So a little tape or dab of hot glue on the ends might work best:

4. Now for the flowers, I didn't do a step by step so check out deWolde Daily for detailed instructions. I will say that I used a skewer instead of pipe cleaner and ribbon instead of paper. I didn't have to punch holes ahead of time because the pointy end of the skewer went right through the ribbon. I used hot glue to attach the button to the top of the flower (I still need to cut the little points off, I was waiting for them to dry completely):

5. Now you could stop here and plop them in the can but my can was pretty tall and I didn't want them resting against the edge so I used the empty ribbon spools, stacked them on top of each other and poked the skewer through the paper to create a stand:

6. Place the flowers and make shift stand into the can and you have a lovely centerpiece! I am planning to probably add 2 more flowers but I am trying to use only items I have on hand so I need to dig around for some more ribbon:

Don't be surprised if formula cans make several appearances in future craft projects...we've got a few more months of formula to go and I like to use what I've got!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My new favorite crocheting project:

I am loving these cute little headbands! They only take about 2 hours to churn out which means on my lazy nights I can put in a movie and most likely be complete by the end. I started this one last year with the intention of giving it to my niece for her birthday, but being hugely pregnant and therefore somewhat unmotivated, I didn't finish. The original plan was to have a full head band but when I was finishing this project the other day I decided to make it adjustable with a tie. This not only shortened my crocheting time but made this more versatile to different head sizes. I think I would like to try adding some cute ribbon instead of the yarn for a nicer touch. Since finishing this one I have made 2 more for other cute little girls in my life. I am thinking about making some smaller versions for my second niece who is still cooking so she can match her big sister.

Here is how I did it:
* Crocheted the headband to desired length (about 24 rows) and then added some yarn at the end to tie with:
This was a pretty basic, repetitive pattern. I will add it to this post if anyone is interested in making their own.

* I then sewed a button about a third of the way onto the headband:

* I had some leftover flowers from a diaper cake someone made for one of my showers so I just cut the stem off and hot glued it to the button:

* Seeing as I only have boys, they are coerced lucky to be my models:

These quick little projects are right up my alley as I love something that I can start and finish in one night. I like the idea of a big project but often lose interest midway through, so I usually stick to something simple.  If you have a little girl and I know where you live don't be surprised if one of these show up on your doorstop or in your mailbox!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pass on the Thanks Challenge

This last week I was inspired by a fellow blogger's idea to do a Thank You Card Week. She is spending 4 days giving a tutorial on several easy homemade thank you cards. I love this because so many people are intimidated by making their own cards when it really doesn't have to be difficult or complex. I really think that the act of sending thank you cards is dying out and that saddens me. I for one know how much I love receiving something in the mail other than bills. It is even more special when that something is a nice sentiment from a family member, friend, or acquaintance.

This led me to come up with the Pass on the Thanks Challenge. The first part of this challenge is to think up 3 people who make your life better or easier. Can you do more than 3? Of course! The more thanks the better.  I encourage you all to get creative when brainstorming who to send this to. Whether it be a barista who makes your day better by preparing your daily latte with a smile or a co-worker who does more than their share and makes your job easier. The possibilities are really limitless. The second part involves finding or making some thank you cards. I really do love homemade cards, and you can get some great ideas all week at Small Fry & Co, but the important part of all of this is the sentiment. So whether it is store bought, homemade or written on a spare piece of paper the important part is that you do it. The third part of this is encouraging those you are sending the cards to to do the same. So somewhere in your card hand write or print off something like this:

Pass on the Thanks Challenge
If you received this card and it brightened your day,
I would challenge you to come up with 3 people who make your life better 
and send them each a thank you card. It doesn't have to be fancy, it's the thought that counts.
Before sending the cards make sure to tell them about this challenge. Let's see how far this can go!
Want to share your experience? Visit and tell your story.

That last part goes for all of you as well! I would love for you to come back and share pictures of your cards and stories about how this challenge effected you and those who you chose to pass it on to. I would love to feature your stories in some upcoming posts. A little thanks can go a long way, let's see how far this can go!
Here are the cards I made (this took me maybe 45 minutes total...but I also like to browse the dollar section at places like Michael's for packs of cheap cards so you are not alone if you choose to go that route:)


Monday, February 21, 2011

What we had for dinner (and lunch!)

Last night's dinner was so good that we had no leftovers so I just HAD to make it again for lunch today. Plus, it gave me the chance to get some pictures so I could share it with you all!

Western Style Turkey Burgers
* 1.25 lbs ground turkey
* 1/2 cup spinach or broccoli (or veggie of your choice - I used puree since I had it on hand)
* 1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal
* 1/2 cup salsa
* 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
* Cheese (whatever you like or have on hand, I used cheddar)
* Hamburger buns
* lettuce
* Crispy Onions (I used garlic pepper flavor)
* BBQ sauce
* 16 oz sour cream
* 1 packet taco seasoning

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl and mix together using your hands:

2. Form 6 to 8 equal size patties and cook using preferred method. When making homemade burgers I really like to use my griddle but you can also do them on the stove top or on a grill (with foil underneath or they will fall through the slats). Sometimes we cook up all the burgers so that we have lunch the next day, sometimes I freeze 4 of the uncooked patties for dinner on a different day:

3. While the burgers are cooking, mix the sour cream and taco seasoning together. There will be a bunch leftover, it makes a great dip for tortilla chips or homemade potato fries! Also cut the cheese and prep the buns - on the bottom bun layer lettuce, onion crisps and BBQ sauce, spread the taco seasoned sour cream on the top bun.

4. Once the burger is cooked to your liking, add the cheese and continue cooking until melted. I put a foil tent over them so it melts faster. We paired our burgers with homemade potato salad for a delicious dinner (and an equally delicious lunch the next day!):

Friday, February 18, 2011

Money Management Ideas for Munchkins

One of our main goals as parents, after raising our children to love and follow Christ, is to give them the tools they need to be successful, productive, generous adults. We want them to have a solid foundation that makes the challenges that are bound to arise later in life more manageable. One of the largest areas of difficulty for many adults is managing their finances. There are so many ways to go wrong and when given the wrong information, or no information, people can make some horrible decisions regarding money. We know that we have, and continue to, struggle with properly managing our finances. We do not want the boys to start out their adult lives with the same struggles we have had, so while we are first working on ourselves (afterall, living by example speaks volumes over what we actually say to them) we are also trying to plant some early money management seeds in our youngsters.

I have to give a lot of the credit to Laura from Happily Ever After as it was her post about teaching her young daughter how to begin being wise with her money that sparked the idea to do the same in our home. I had always planned on being intentional in teaching the boys about money but never gave it a thought to start so young. But I realized, that just like everything else in parenting, you give them what they can handle at each stage. For our 3 and 4 year old that is an "allowance" of a dollar a week. They earn this by doing their part to contribute around the house. That includes keeping their rooms tidy, clearing their own plates at meal time, picking up toys around the house, etc. We give them this dollar in the form of 10 dimes (thanks again Laura, you are too smart!) as this makes it easier to show them how to split up the money. 1 dime goes in their God jar for tithing, 4 dimes go in their spending jar and are available to them to spend as they see fit, 5 dimes go in their piggy banks which are for saving and can't be touched. I can't tell you how much they love this and we are seeing good things developing because of it. They are learning about the value of money, counting, fractions as well as responsibility and being a good steward of their money.

Today they actually got their first chance to spend some of that well-earned money. We made a trip to the dollar store last week and they saw some light-up batons that they loved and continued to talk about all week. So I told them that when they got their allowance this week we could count up what they had in their spending jar and if there was enough they could chose whether or not to go buy the batons. They each had two dollars which we told them was enough for just one thing at the dollar store (darn tax!) and they both chose to spend it. You should have seen their little faces as they marched into that store, chose their batons carefully, waited in line and handed the cashier their money. I think they were happy with their decision:

I would love to hear the things you are doing in your family to help your kids learn the value of money...feel free to share all your great ideas!

No really, I'm getting around to it!

Awhile back I told you all to get ready, that I was going to be dazzling you with some amazing chicken recipes to use up that 40 lbs of chicken we got from Zaycon Foods. I then realized that I hadn't even begun to look for said recipes. Being a woman of my word I decided to get on that and came up with a fabulous solution that was both quick and easy for me and I hope, beneficial to you all. After making those yummy stuffed mushrooms the other night and revisiting the same site to try a chicken spaghetti recipe for tonight, I decided that I would dedicate this box of chicken to The Pioneer Woman's amazing chicken recipes. She has tons of them all ready for me to try and she has yet to disappoint. As I cook through some of these recipes I will be sure to come back and fill you all in on how it goes. So while I am going to end this with another "stay tuned", I promise not to leave you hanging!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This is what it looks like in our house

Valentine's in our house this year was very low key. Jeremy worked so most of the day was spent with my little guys. That being the case, I mostly focused on spoiling them. We started the morning with gifts. I thought it would be difficult finding stuff for boys but we actually ended up putting together some fun stuff. They got monster truck chocolate boxes, Cars and Toy Story tops, magnifying glasses that double as bug holders and monsters that I made them out of old T-shirts. Don't they look excited?

We followed this with a lunch of pink pancakes and that was about the extent of the days celebrations. I did however want to have a nice dinner for Jeremy when he got home. I started out with a simple chicken, red pepper and broccoli that I was going to put on top of some brown rice:

 I knew that I wanted something special to go with it so decided on stuffed mushrooms because let's face it, anything stuffed is pretty much fabulous. I had bought a huge thing of mushrooms at Costco this weekend and knew I wanted to add some sausage but that was as far as I had gotten. Luckily The Pioneer Woman came to the rescue with her amazing recipe. I have loved her blog for sometime and know that her recipes always get rave reviews so I was excited to dig into these yummy morsels. It was hard to stare at these and wait for my husband to get home to share them!:

I pretty much stuck to her recipe but thought I would share some of the changes I made out of necessity and personal taste. I didn't have any cream cheese on hand so instead I used the Mozzarella Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Laughing Cow that I had in the fridge. I also sprinkled some red pepper flakes in with the garlic and onion to give it a slight kick. Lastly, I had no wine on hand so I just omitted that all together. They turned out amazing and Jeremy raved! Seriously, there were only 4 left at the end of dinner and that was because he wanted to take them to work for lunch.

It may not be fancy but at this stage in our life, but this is how we celebrate. Looks like most other days but that's okay because we like to think we make everyday about love!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I love

On this Valentine's Day I thought I would reflect on some of the things that I love, big and small. I hope you are all finding yourself loving and being loved today!

I love:
  * That first cup of coffee in the morning. Taking a moment to sit and relax while that warm piece of heaven starts to work it's magic.
  * Hearing the words "I love you" out of the mouths of my children. Especially in those random moments when you aren't expecting it and it is just the thing you needed to hear.
  * Baby laughs. Heart melting!
  * The man I am lucky enough to wake up next to every day. My best friend, amazing father to my children, hard-working provider and faithful man of God.
  * Craft stores. My idea of heaven includes endless aisles of things to create with. Oh...and a coffee stand in every aisle:)
  * Mom and Dad. How lucky am I to have parents who love each other, the Lord and their children with all their hearts?
  * True friends. The ones who know the real me and love me anyway.
  * My sweet niece...she is so uniquely her and I love being her aunt. Can't wait to meet my new niece next month!
   * Jesus through who I am saved!

My list could go on and on but these are the biggies. On this day of love I know that I am feeling extra blessed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Nathan's Dinner Take 2

About a month ago I had Nathan take on dinner with me from planning to shopping to cooking. For those of you who don't remember, catch up here. For those of you who do remember, this time was a much smoother experience! When I asked him what he wanted to make he said, "Spaghetti and Meatballs" and I just shook my head and reminded him of what it takes to make meatballs. Maybe we will try to tackle that another day but I thought we would go for something that might have more successful results this time.

I will have to thank my fellow bloggers for providing the inspiration for tonight's dinner. As I was checking out a new blog Nathan came up behind me to peek over my shoulders. He saw what I was looking at on the screen and exclaimed, "I want THAT for dessert!" So we began this meal planning session with the dessert under our belt. Thank you Make and Takes for the idea!

Not minutes later I was onto another blog looking at these delicious Stuffed Pizza Rolls and I knew they would be a perfect meal for my little pizza lover to attempt. Add in a salad and we had our dinner planned out. Fast forward to meal day and Nathan was hopping up and down when I told him it was his turn to help. He even said, "This time I won't get upset mom." On top of that, as I called him into the kitchen to prepare the dessert in the afternoon, he invited his little brother to come help him. I knew that this was going to be a good day. So the three of us enjoyed some time around the table eating putting M&M's on the crescent rolls and rolling them up. While they were baking we whisked up some frosting out of powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and before we knew it dessert was done. Doesn't it look delicious?

When dinner time approached Nathan was busy coloring some new Toy Story 3 pages he had found but without grumbling put it away to help out. He helped cut the dough, grate the cheese, fill the balls and prepare the salad. We had one, "I don't want to do this any more mom," with a reminder from me that I don't get to stop in the middle of preparing dinner so he has to stay to finish. That was all it took and he finished up. You want to know his favorite part in all of it? Serving everyone! He loves to dish up and take everyone their plates at the table. So funny. Here's how it all went down (don't mind the pjs, littlest brother was sick today so we stayed home from church and the kids got to be in pajamas all day):

Don't those look delicious? They were even better than they look. Nathan got rave reviews and gobbled up 5 of these bad boys himself. I have to say this was the experience I was hoping for last time and am so glad I got. He took some responsibility in helping feed the family and I got some precious one on one time with my favorite biggest brother. Life is good!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

What an honor to receive this award!! Thank you Kitchen Clutter for thinking of me.

There are some rules that go along with this.
1. You have to thank the person who awarded you and link them back in your post.
2. Tell everyone 7 random facts about yourself.
     1) I can't stand peanut butter. The taste, the smell...yuck. But I make stuff with peanut butter on a regular basis because my guys like it so much.
     2) I originally went to college to be a Zoologist. I LOVED Jane Goodall and wanted to work with primates. Too bad all that science got in the way!
     3) Being a mom is a zillion times harder than I thought it would be...but the rewards make it so worth it.
     4) I love creating things. I would be thrilled if one day I could focus my attention on one area and really do something with it.
     5) Coffee is my fourth love....God, Jeremy, the boys, COFFEE!
     6) I have met more true friends in the last two years then I have in my entire life. I think this is because I am starting to figure out my true self and therefore am surrounding myself with those who compliment my life.
     7) Finding deals is a thrill to me. Like skydiving adrenaline pumping kind of thrill. Call me crazy!

3. Pass the award on to 15 new found bloggers - There are so many great blogs out there! I don't know if I will be able to list 15 but here are some of the ones I have been reading lately and love:

4. Contact each blogger and let them know you’ve passed the award on to them and let the “giver” know you accept the award.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Heart That Loves continued...

 For those of you who missed it, I wrote a post awhile back called A Heart That Loves that is talking about the book I am reading in my Women's Bible Study group called A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George. This is a continuation of that post which is discussing having a heart for our husbands:

3. Prepare for Your Husband Daily - Preparing your husband's homecoming each day shows him that he's a priority and communicates your heart of love. Here are some ways she suggests preparing for your husband daily:
*The first part of this is preparing your house. Take a few minutes before he is set to get home to tidy up the strewn about toys, turn on some music, light a candle so that when he walks in the door he is greeted to an orderly and welcoming home.
*Prepare your appearance. If you knew company was dropping by on a given day you would be sure to freshen up. Shouldn't you do this same thing for your number one human priority? I know that I have been guilty numerous times of being in sweats with my hair all a mess and no make-up on my face when my husband walks in the door. This isn't how I would greet anyone else entering my house so I shouldn't do it to him either.
*Prepare your greeting. Most of our husbands have a schedule that allows us to know the approximate time he is getting home. His welcome home will be made so much sweeter if you are waiting for him when he arrives. Turn on the porch light, turn the tv off, prepare yourself and your kids to greet him warmly when he comes in that door. Again, this is an area where I am guilty of not putting proper effort into it. Because this can be a time of chaos with the kids and I am usually in the kitchen making dinner he often gets a quick glance and a nod from me if he is lucky. But I see him light up each time the kids barrel towards the door when he comes back from a long day at work. I can only imagine that it would also make him feel good to have that reaction from his wife.
*Clear out all visitors and stay off the phone. Your husband does not need to come home to a house full of noisy kids and other moms. He is going to want to be able to unwind and catch up with his family. This is why your phone calls should end well before he is set to arrive as well. Not only so you are able to greet him properly but also so that you don't have to rudely cut off the other person because of his arrival.

4. Please Your Husband - If you value your husband you will surely take delight in pleasing him. This means paying careful attention to his wants, his likes and his dislikes. This includes all things big and small. Some examples from our house: My husband likes the toilet paper to hang over the roll instead of under. Nothing he makes a big deal about but just a personal preference. So I make sure it is the way he likes it when I am changing the toilet paper rolls. One of the things he really enjoys to do in his free time is golfing. He has been begging me for years to go with him and for years I have said no because I have no interest in it. Reading this chapter really convicted me to change my heart and realize that this is something that is important to my husband so it should be important to me as well. This spring I am planning to hit the green and give this golfing thing a try. I am sure this will bring him much joy.

5. Protect Your Time with Your Husband - You make your husband your Number One  human priority when you protect your time with him instead of treating him like a built-in babysitter and darting out the door as soon as he gets home. While time to yourself is important, you should take every opportunity you can to be with your husband when he is home. If that means running errands during the day so you are home with him at night then that is something you should strive to do. For us, we choose to run errands as a family. I have offered to do it alone but he likes us all to go together so we make it a family outing.
Before you agree to a commitment think about whether or not it will cut into time with your husband. Try if possible to schedule things when he is already going to be out of the house himself.

6. Physically Love Your Husband - 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 says, "The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
My husband was stoked for me to read this chapter! Seriously though, sex is such an important part of marriage and it is so easy for us to sometimes lose sight of that. Not only is it our duty as godly wives in that it meets our husbands needs and protects them from sinning due to lust and temptation, but it is a gift from God that we are to enjoy. We were lucky enough to be part of a Love and Respect class over the summer and one thing from that comes to my mind repeatedly. Imagine if your husband did not speak to you for 3 days or 3 weeks or even 3 months. I know I would DIE! This is because we as women need that communication to feel close to our husbands. Just as we need that, that is how they need sex. Really gave me something to think about.

7. Positively Respond to Your Husband - It is important that our husbands thoughts, decisions and words are greeted sweetly instead of met with resistance, negativism, or a lecture. This simple act of responding with "Sure" instead of "But what about this or why can't we do it like this?" can be the difference between power struggles and hurt feelings versus a peaceful conversation. When we start out the conversation with a positive response it opens the door to those follow up questions we may have, all the while being respectful and honoring our husbands initial request.

8. Praise Your Husband - One thing Elizabeth George says you should have on your "Never List" is to never speak critically or negatively about your husband to anyone.  This not only damages the way others view your husband but it also damages the way YOU view your husband. If you find yourself about to speak critically of your husband stop and do these three things:
*Search your heart. Something is not right in your heart because a heart full of love does not gossip.
*Seek a solution. If a serious area of your husband's life need attention instead of putting him down, devote yourself to praying for him and if you need to bring it up to him do so after much preparation and with graciousness.
*Set a goal. Make a resolution no to speak destructively about your husband. Instead, you should try to practice taking up any opportunity you have to bless your husband in public. This is one way to sow seeds of love for him in your heart.

9. Pray Always - We begin with prayer, we end with prayer. Take every opportunity throughout the day to ask God to enable you to be the loving supportive wife he wants you to be.

I hope that this gives you all something to think about. I know for myself, there are a lot of areas where I am not being the kind of wife God wants me to be. Luckily, He is full of grace and allows us time to learn and grow. I am taking this information to heart and working at it a day at a time. I have a feeling these chapters will need to be read time and time again but I know that my husband will feel loved and appreciated as I continue to make an effort to love him like I should.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

HUGE Giveaway!!

Do you like free stuff? Do you like LOTS of free stuff? No...okay, never mind.

Wait, what's that? Oh, you DO love free stuff. Me too! So I just had to share this amazing giveaway from my friend and fellow blogger. Courtney is a photographer who recently started her own business, Small Beginnings Photography, and is doing a HUGE giveaway on her blog in honor of Valentine's Day. While the majority of the stuff being given away is only for those in the Spokane, WA area there is also a runner's up prize pack available to anyone so it is definitely worth checking out. There are tons of local vendors and small business participants so this is a great way find some new places to shop and support the small business owner.

Oh, did I mention that there is something by yours truly in the giveaway? I contributed a 10 pack of homemade all-occasion cards that are included in the grand prize.

So what are you waiting for, get on over there and check it out!

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Hands Down Best Dad" project

This weekend is my husband's birthday and on top of the coveted XBOX 360 game I got him, I also wanted to give him a more meaningful gift from the boys . After some brainstorming and browsing through the stuff I had laying around I came up with this project I have titled the "Hands Down Best Dad" project. Simple, cheap (or free in my case since I had all the supplies!) and 3 favorite qualities in a gift.
 Here's how I did it:

*Picture frame (any size will work...pick something that will fit your project)
*Lettering - I used my Cricut for this. You could just as easily use stickers, vinyl letters, stenciled letters, etc.
*Hot glue and a glue stick
*Paper - Something to put it all on. I recently ordered a huge roll of pattern paper for making sewing patterns. It is kind of see through so I also used some cute wrapping paper behind it that slightly show through. You could use card stock, wrapping paper, etc. I also used construction paper for the lettering.

Get Started:
1. Cut whatever paper you are using to fit the frame. This is the wrapping paper I used behind the pattern paper:

2. Paint your kids hands and press down onto paper (Can I tell you how hard it was doing the 8 month old's?):

3. I did a strip of ribbon above and below the hand prints to frame them. Cut two even strips and use hot glue to adhere to the paper (I only glued the ends, I would recommend a dot in the middle of each strip also to keep it in place):

4. Now to do the names by the hand prints. Be creative here! I wanted to match the polka dot theme I already had going to I used red, green and blue construction paper along with my Cricut and cartridge punch set to create the boys' names:
Used my Cricut to create perfect circles

Punched the boys names into the green and red circles using my cartridge punch set

Glued the red and green circles onto the blue ones for this multi-color look

Their names applied to the paper with a glue stick
5. Using my Cricut, I cut out the phrase Hands Down Best Dad and applied to my project:

6. Finally, I put it into my frame (polka dot wrapping paper first, hand print paper on top):

I am really pleased with all of the color in this project. So much more fun than a basic hand print. We couldn't wait to share this with daddy so we opened presents earlier this week and he loved it!!

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