Thursday, January 30, 2014

10 Fun and Simple Valentine's Day Ideas... (for decor, romance, kids, and more)

Valentine's day is just a couple weeks away, and here are 10 rockstar ideas that you don't want to miss!! Jan and Lauralee blew me away last year with all their Valentine creativity. So fun yet simple to accomplish! If you need an idea to celebrate, sweeten, or beautify any part of your Valentine's season,  you've found the right place...





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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cooking Bacon in the Oven

Do you hate cooking bacon on the stove with all the greasy mess?  This is a great trick I learned. Cook Bacon in the Oven. Put bacon on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for fifteen minutes. Turn over once.  If you like your bacon crispy it may take twenty.  Just check after ten is my advice.  My sister also taught me a great trick so that the bacon doesn't have to sit in the grease: put your cookie rack on your cookie sheet and place bacon on cookie rack.  The grease drains in to the cookie sheet so your bacon doesn't have to sit in the grease.


Happy Cookin!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

We All Need...

 I have a friend who seems to have her 'ducks in a row' all the time.... always looks classy, generous to others, so organized, funny, relaxed, happy family, hard worker. I've teetered on being really jealous, but I like her too much to let envy into the relationship.

As I've observed how she does EVERYTHING so well, I realized that she DOESN'T DO everything!!! She does what she can, and gets help where she needs it.

Whoa... that was another AHA experience for me... I can't do it all!

 My twins are always telling me as they stomp their feet, "I can do it all by myself!!" Sometimes, we mommies do the same thing in our own, "grown up" sort of way. We think we have to do it all, and then we end up overwhelmed and totally exhausted.

I felt that way not too long ago. It seemed as though I never got a break. From the wee hours of the morning to the stroke of midnight, I was cleaning, cooking, laundering, bathing, chauffeuring,  grocery shopping, entertaining kids, healing owies, and taking care of church or other responsibilities... and more. However, "everything" never got done. I felt so unorganized even though I was constantly working! Ack!!

My friend sent me the name and number of her housekeeper, Adrianna. So, I called her to help me deep clean my house, but then chickened out.

I thought, "I'm a stay at home mom. I should be able to get all of this done. Jenn works full time, that's why she's justified in having someone help her." (blah, blah, blah)

Finally, a few weeks later, I called Adrianna. And... life changed for me!!
She accomplished in one day what it takes more than a week for me to do, because I have so many other little tasks.

Yes, I paid her, and YES it was SOOOO worth it!
I finally felt like I was caught up. Just having a little help mad such a world of difference!

That experience made me think about how much as women, we try to do everything, and be everything to everyone. We are too scared or worried to ask for help. I know though, that
we all NEED help... in one way or another!

I've wondered, why have I been so hesitant at times to accept help or even ask for it??
I'm pretty sure that my reasons may also be your reasons:
-Don't want to impose
-Feel that there should be no reason I can't do it by myself
-I've been taken advantage of in the past, and do not want anyone to think I'm taking advantage of them
-Embarrassment that I even need help
-Too expensive, or I don't want to pay for something I can do myself

The secret is to realize that we are not perfect, nor expected to be. When someone helps us, we can pay them for their services, do something in return, or just accept that someone wants to help us for nothing in return. We can pass it forward when we are able to do so.

It is so liberating to have help when we need it.

Are you overwhelmed or exhausted?
Here are a few suggestions to get some help:

  •  Realize that you are not alone! We all need help. It doesn't mean you are a failure! No one can DO EVERYTHING!
  • Round up the help you need:
  • Your husband
  • Make an age appropriate job chart for your children and stick to it (withhold allowance or privileges if they do not help) 
  • Trade with friends or sisters
  • Accept help when someone offers
  • Find the service you need, and pay someone to give it (doesn't have to be permanent.. even a little help goes a LONG way).
  • A counselor
  • An ecclesiastical leader
  • Medicaid, WIC, or Food Stamps if you are struggling financially ( **If you don't need this kind of help, yet judge others. Watch out... you may have to use it also some day. )
Life is a big juggling act. We can't do it alone. Joy comes in giving help, and also receiving it.


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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Primary Punch


This punch has been in my mom's recipe book since I was a little girl.  I am not sure why it is named "Primary Punch," but my sisters say that my mom made it for lots of different parties, church activities and family function.   It has a little extra sweetness compared to plain orange juice.  It can also be frozen and made into a slush which is also super yummy!!!

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Laundry Solution

Laundry has been my nemesis in years past!
Seriously. I had no idea when I first got married that clothing would reproduce on its own, and that I would have mountains of it to constantly climb.

As I've mentioned  before, I am NOT a naturally organized person, and have at times been completely overwhelmed by certain household tasks. Especially ones that never ever end!

I've tried all kinds of "solutions" for laundry... the 1 load a day thing, but then I'd forget to do it, or just didn't follow through. I tried the once of week thing, but then I was so exhausted and bitter-angry by the end.

Finally, this solution came, and we've been doing it for 8 months.  It's worked almost like a charm (I say almost, because laundry will never go totally perfectly in my house, and I'm ok with that)!

It all started with this.....

I call it a "Laundry Pantry".

When we moved into our house, I was delighted that this closet was in our laundry room. While unpacking, I decided that I would put all of my 4 kids clothes in that closet.

Some have asked how in the world could I fit it all in??

Answer: I believe that kids only need about 7 (or so) tops and the same amount of pants/ shorts. My rule is that when clothes start to reproduce (which oh they soooo do!), that some have to go. Adios.

I hang dresses and nice clothes in their closets, but everything else goes right in this baby.

On each shelf, I have a stack for tops(1), a stack for pants/ shorts/casual skirts (2), and some bins (3) and (4). In the bins I put underwear, socks, and pajamas.

(My 3 year old twins have the bottom shelf here, so that's why you may see two bins of princess underwear :)).

The great part is that I can:

 I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE  having their clothes right in the laundry room because I can fold and put them away right there. It saves so much time, sweat, and so many steps (unless laundry is part of your exercise routine, this is a total perk!)

The other part of the laundry solution: I put baskets right across from the washer and dryer. Then I stuck some labels (obviously not beautiful and pinterest worthy, but they work:)) above the baskets.

My kids dress and un-dress in the laundry room, and immediately put their clothes in the right basket.
(Ok, if it were a perfect world, they would do it every time. It's not every time, but most of the time).

Oh does this EVER help, and also saves lots of time and energy!

Then I can pop the baskets that are full in the washer, and not have it take over my life (eh, hem... like it formerly did).

This laundry solution has made me a much happier mommy!

One day, when my kiddos can handle folding it and putting it away on their own, then, I'll let them take it all to their own closets. But now, while it's all moi doing the work...
this is the way I roll!

If you want to make your own "Laundry Pantry", you don't even need a fancy closet. Plain old book shelves will do. Or any kind of shelf.

The key is keeping only the amount of clothing that will fit on the shelf. Then weed out.

If you don't have the heart to throw out all the clothes, then just keep some in a bin. Put it in a place the kids will not find. Then you can take out those clothes as needed.

Good luck! All moms need good luck with laundry! (... or dads... bless you if you do laundry too!)

XO, Nancy

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Power of Music

I am sure we have all had those days when we are feeling grumpy, lonely, tired, angry, anxious, sad, or frustrated and YES, lots of  happy moments.  I found myself the last three months feeling extremely tired and a bit lonely which turned into grumpy and angry.  I am one of those women who doesn't do well without sleep and my emotions get the best of me.  With a newborn and three other girly-o's my exhaustion got the best of me.  I found it really helped to have music playing.  There was something about the rhythm, beat and sometimes the words that helped me to keep my emotions in tacked until nap time or the end of the day.

When I am feeling insecure or need to remind myself who I am and what I can do, I really like this song.....
When I need to remind myself to take care of myself
and stand up for myself, I like this one...
When I need to remember to dance and enjoy
the little moments with my girls, I like this ......
If I need to remind myself that I love my children and they are only children for a short time, I like this one.....
When I need to be reminded to be  kind
or have more Christian feelings, I like this one.....

  The power of music is incredible.  It can change your mood, attitude and inner thought process in  just moments.  So create a playlist for yourself so you can change your mood during those moments that you just can't seem to get out of your inner negative thoughts.

What songs help you?
Have a musical day!
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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What Your Kids Need YOU to BE (WARNING: they'll be just like you one day)

(This post is directed to myself more than anyone!!)

The path of my life has led me to associate with teenagers for the near majority of my 37 years. I've had the awesome opportunity to work with literally thousands of teens through church, school, and other community assignments. I absolutely love teenagers. You may think I'm crazy, but really, they are great.

My husband and I were discussing an activity that I was planning with the teens in my church group, and I had an enlightening moment.  It was when something I've always known actually hit me as true...
I thought about some of the girls that I had recently worked with, and their moms. I realized that I wouldn't even have to know which girl belonged to which mother to be able to match them together... even if they looked nothing alike.

 It was kind of a scary thought... how much influence moms have on their daughters. 

Even though I love teenagers, I will admit that some are kinder and more secure with themselves than others. Please don't send me hate mail for saying this, but in my experience, I see that the vast majority of kind and secure kids also have kind, inclusive, and secure parents. Of course, there are always exceptions, but usually this is the case.

I'm not talking here about those who may be termed by their peers as "popular". No, I'm talking about those who are real, and kind. (...and some "popular" kids fit into this category, but not all!)

I pondered a whole lot about what I want my kids to be like as they grow into their teen years. I thought about what I must reflect if I want them to be that way.

Here are the top FIVE things that I would tell parents: What your kids need YOU to be...

1. Know that you are of infinitely great worth, and so is everyone else!

Sometimes self worth can swing between feeling superior to others, and then feeling inferior to everyone. Most of us have felt each of those feelings at some point.
It is so important to teach children that no one is actually a more important or superior person than anyone else. We are just different, and each must learn to shine in our own way.

 A few of my favorite quotes about that:

"Our individual worth is already divinely established as "great"; it does not fluctuate like the stock market." -Neal A. Maxwell

Although, peer pressure, and popularity contests teach kids otherwise, we brought our great worth with us when we came into this world. It's established, and nothing can change it. We will certainly be tempted to feel like it fluctuates... that's why this is something we must know deep in our hearts. Kids will know this, if their parents do.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
(Nelson Mandela quoted Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love)

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” 
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

2. Be accepting of yourself, and your body

 Some are tall, and some are short. Some are round, and some are thin. And almost everyone at some time or other wants to be something they are not! But as one adviser to teenage girls said: “You can’t live your life worrying that the world is staring at you. When you let people’s opinions make you self-conscious you give away your power. … The key to feeling [confident] is to always listen to your inner self—[the real you.]” 

 And if you are obsessing over being a size 2, you won’t be very surprised when your daughter... does the same and makes herself physically ill trying to accomplish it. 
-Jeffrey R. Holland

I like this...

"The greatest prison people live in, is the fear of what other people think."

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of someone else."
 -Judy Garland

"Over and over [my mother] said to me, "You must do everything you can to make your appearance pleasing, but the minute you walk our the door, forget yourself and start concentrating on others." 
-Susan W. Tanner

3. Be happy, smile, and have a good attitude.... even in the tough times!
People are always telling teenagers to improve their attitude, but I think all of us could take that advice.

"I believe the happiest girls are the prettiest."
 -Audrey Hepburn

"She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not flow her way, she adjusted her sails."

"Happy is the man who can brush aside the offending remarks of others and go on his way."
 -Gordon B. Hinckley

"Every time you are able to find humor in a difficult situation, you win."

4. Be with your children! Slow down, take time to enjoy them

"I all of living have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." -Gordon B, Hinckley

The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?

Alice: I'm afraid so. You're entirely bonkers. But I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are.

"Once she stopped rushing through life, she was amazed at how much more life she had time for."

 “The biggest mistake I made [as a parent] is the one that most of us make. … I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of [my three children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less” (Loud and Clear [2004], 10–11). -Anna Quindlen

5. Be truly kind

I once heard a man speak about his dad, whom he greatly admired. This father would always ask his kids about how they treated people, and what friends they had made. He would repeatedly tell his children, "I would rather have kind kids than smart kids."

I've never forgotten those words, and have felt their wisdom and importance. Of course, it's so important to make sure our children know that education is important, but I believe kindness is the most important. Even the kids who aren't perfect in grades can excel in kindness. As a teacher, I can assure, true kindness is what makes kids and teens shine.
(I say TRUE because there are plenty of people who can be kind to faces of others, but are not so kind behind backs).

Gordon B. and Marjorie Pay Hinckley

 “I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor's children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.” -Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"Being humble means recognizing we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others."
 -Gordon B. Hinkley

Good friends help you to find important things when you have lost them... your smile, your hope, and your courage." --Doe Zantamata

"Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see." -Mark Twain

So , there's my advice...definitely more to myself than anyone else. 
Here's a recap:

XO, Nancy

P.S. I just saw a great quote to end this post:
"Don't let yourself become so concerned with raising a good kid
that you forget you already have one."
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I'm Back!!

It's good to back in the blogging world.  It was nice to take a couple of months off to take care of my family.  We welcomed our little man into our family of girly-o's. I am glad to be back and like Nancy said, "to change our focus" of the blog.  As I have thought of what new posts I could write about, I have thought about my children and what I want them to know about life from the perspective of their mom.

Six years ago I said goodbye to my Angel Mother.  She watches over me from heaven, that I am sure of.  I have felt her spirit many times in the last six years, but there is nothing like being able to call her and ask her questions or have her arms wrapped around you and cheer you on during those hard days.  If there is one thing I hope for my future is that I can be a supportive mom.  One who loves their children to pieces and then let them spread their wings and fly. (NOT my biggest strength but working on it)

I find myself at this time of my life trying to still figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  That there is so much I still want to see and do and that sometimes this journey of life has cruel hard moments and yet so many more tender mercies on my behalf. 

I am excited to be back and share a few of my favorite recipes, DYI's, life's lessons and family memories. 

A special thanks to Nancy for keeping the blog going and to you our readers who following us.

Happy New Year!!!

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