Saturday, April 30, 2011

DIY beautiful indoor outdoor twig chandelier

I love this beautiful chandelier by Vivienne over at The V Spot. HOw beautiful would this look outside all lit up on a summer evening, or over your dining room table, or in a bedroom.... What a great idea and it came out so well.  It doesn't look like the materials would be very expensive at all.  Save some dough on your outdoor decorating and make one yourself .  Make sure and let me know if you do I would love to see how it comes out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to - old window pane to snazzy photo coat rack. LOVE IT!

Need a use for that old window pane?  Check out this great idea from Johnny In A Dress.
What a fun creative idea!  Now if I only had that window pane I just passed up at a friends garage sale...  I should give her a call...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sassy customizable calling cards!

A what?  A calling card!  No need to have a boring old business card. Perfect for when you just want to have your phone number,blog or email address handy.  And how classy are these! They make great mommy cards, blog promoters, or just straight up calling and email cards.  Sure beats a scrap of paper you dug out of your purse with chicken scratch on it! Here are a few I really liked...

Cameron Blazer at Cottage Industrial has created these beautiful cards that you can 
download and customize for FREE! Yeah Cameron!  


Check out these little cuties below from Jessica Jones, a graphic and textile designer and blog author of How About Orange!  Love her style.  The font used is Euphorigenic, a free download at but if you don't want to bother your computer will substitute something else in there.

photo by Jessica Jones

Photo by Jessica Jones

Photo by Jessica Jones

So take your pick get some card stock and get printing!
(Please respect their request that they only be used for personal use.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The sweet stuff line up..Natural sweeteners and chemical ones to avoid and why

Organic powdered sugar (AKA evaporated cane juice) Agave Nectar, Xylitol, Truvia (a form of Stevia) and raw sugar

We all know sugar is bad for us, so I wanted to go over some other options out there and point out briefly how dangerous some of the common artificial sweeteners out there can be.  As far as healthy options go I just pulled things out of my cupboards and here is what I came up with.

Organic powdered sugar is actually  evaporated cane juice which is one of the least processed forms of sugar.  The reason that is important is that sugar in the whole plant form is sugar cane.  When a food is still in its whole food form it contains all the nutrients and enzymes needed to digest it.  In essence, a sugar closer to its original form will not cause all the destruction and weight gain that processed sugars do.  So this makes this sugar a better choice as it has more of the original nutritive value and is digested more efficiently. As with all forms of sugar less is always best.  You can find it at Trader Joe's, Safeway and other main stream grocers as well as heath food stores.

Agave Nectar is extracted from a plant called blue agave which is best known as the plant that tequila is made from. The health benefit of using agave nectar aside from it having its nutritive component still intact is that it does NOT cause the spike in blood sugar that common white sugar does.  It has roughly the same calories as sugar but is processed differently because of the low glycemic index.  The spike in your blood sugar is what contributes to diabetes, mood swings, the sugar rush and crash.  It is similar in taste and consistency to honey and makes a great substitute for corn syrup in recipes like home made granola bars etc... It is also great as a sweetener for hot drinks, plain yogurt, on pancakes, and anywhere else you might use syrup or honey.  It has become mainstream and now aside from health food stores can be found in many common grocery stores, even Wal-mart.

Xylitol was really exciting to find because not only is it not detrimental to the teeth it actually helps PREVENT tooth decay.  It is a natural sweetener in a crystallized form much like raw sugar in texture that is made in the body and found in certain plants and fruits like raspberries.  The cool thing about xylitol is that it's molecules have 5 carbon atoms as opposed to the regular 6 that other sweeteners such as sorbitol, fructose and glucose have.  What this means is that most bacteria and yeast in the mouth are unable to use it.  So decay, thrush, and other related maladies are kept at bay.  It is just as sweet as white sugar but has 40% less calories!!

Stevia or other brands of stevia like Truvia are excellent choices for those wanting to lose weight as it is completely calorie free and unlike splenda or other chemically altered sweeteners it is  ALL NATURAL.  Stevia is a plant and it comes in the powder form or liquid, but be careful as it can easily been overdone as it is 30 times sweeter than sugar. If you use too much it can have a slightly bitter aftertase.  It is not a great option for baking because of the lack of bulk compared to traditional sugar.  If used for cooking or baking using recipes specific to stevia is a good idea.  Stevia is highly recommended for diabetics as no insulin is needed to break it down and so the blood sugar is not affected.  It is best used in hot and cold drinks, to sweeten oatmeal, yogurt, or fruit.  Try it in all kinds of foods.  There are no side effects.

Honey is another all natural sweetener that is a better choice than traditional sugar.  It has amazing healing qualities fighting infection and inflammation, aids with tissue regrowth and avoiding scarring as well as being good for diarrhea,  indigestion, stomach ulcers and gastroenteritis. Granted some of those are topical treatments but all in all honey is a wonderful alternative to white processed sugar.  Again processed sugars are handled in the body different from unprocessed or minimally processed sugars as the enzymes and nutrients needed to digest it are already present as opposed to being stripped.  This allows the body to process them more efficiently leaving less to be processed as fat.

Raw sugar is only marginally better than white sugar and as such should be used sparingly.  It has the same calorie content and is just a slightly less processed form of sugar.  It is what white sugar is made from before the molasses has been stripped from it.  It is only on here because even sugar (as bad as it really is for your whole system) is still light years ahead of the chemical sweeteners so many people mistakenly use to improve their health.  

BEWARE of reduced sugar and sugar free processed foods.  MANY new foods are making it to the supermarket shelf filled with SPLENDA the name brand for sucralose a dangerous non food that has been chemically altered to look closer to a pesticide than a food.  In fact that is how it was discovered in 1976 by British scientists who were trying to develop a new pesticide and came up with this.  Unfortunately it has now become the latest craze.  Many of you have heard that  the Splenda molecule is comprised of sucrose (sugar) and while that is true they fail to mention that three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by three chlorine atoms which makes this compound much more like a pesticide with all its deleterious effects than a sugar.

 Another chemical sweetener that has been making it back onto shelves in a big way is aspartame a known toxin and carcinogen.  I was shocked by this as most people are now aware of how dangerous this is.  However you will find aspartame in lots of sweetened reduced sugar or sugar free yogurts like YOPLAIT, sugar free or reduced calorie drinks like crystal light, and other sugar free drinks and other common, name brand sugar free products.  READ labels and try to buy organic products or those that you have thoroughly checked out first.  

If you are addicted to your artificially sweetened drinks and foods and can't be bothered to give it up thinking you are at least losing weight think about this...from ABC good morning America

"Calorie-conscious consumers who opt for diet sodas may gain more weight than if they drank sugary drinks because of artificial sweeteners contained in the diet sodas, according to a new study.A Purdue University study released Sunday in the journal Behavioral Neuroscience reported that rats on diets containing the artificial sweetener saccharin gained more weight than rats given sugary food, casting doubt on the benefits of low-calorie sweeteners."There's something about diet foods that changes your metabolic limit, your brain chemistry," said ABC News' medical contributor Dr. Marie Savard.Though Savard said more research needs to be done to uncover more information, the study does hint at the idea that the sweeteners alter a person's metabolism. Savard said another recent study, which included more than 18,000 people, found healthy adults who consumed at least one diet drink a day could increase their chance for weight gain."

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Make DIY crusty NO KNEAD (no joke) artisan bread at home with this EASY tutorial

photo by Diane Hopkins
DIY no knead EASY artisan bread at home
Sounds too good to be true but it is not! No special equipment needed, no fancy ingredients,  just a little time for it to sit while you do all the other million things you do in a day! This will save you a ton of dough! Ha ha pun intended :)   Just follow the link and let me know how yours turns out. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bellas adoption story (she turns two on Tuesday!)

This is a copy of an old post I did on an old blog I had while we lived in Vanuatu in the South Pacific doing volunteer mission work.  We now reside here in the US and as her birthday is coming up on Tuesday I just wanted to post this to honor the God that put us all together.  What a blessed miracle she is!

We just adopted…BELLA is finally home & we are all in love with her!

Josh and I have felt it on our heart for years to adopt even before we had kids.  We have tried several times to look into different options but before things could go very far it would always fall through.   We know that at the core of Gods heart is a longing and a desire for children to have life, be loved and cared for.  Here is the answer to YEARS of prayer and a life saved!!  Introducing BELLA CHRISTIAN NEELEY born Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 7:11 am 3.52 kilos, or 7.74 lbsIMG_1513
“True religion is this to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”-James 
I got the call on Sun at 1:45 am that Mary had gone into labor and we (Amanda my friend & I) were to meet her at the hospital.  So I got dressed fast and ran in the dark to my friend Amanda's house down the road a ways to get her.  There was a little confusion and we finally got a hold of the guy who was to take us to the hospital (remember neither of our families have cars, and bus’ don’t run in the middle of the night here unless they are just getting done drinking or coming from a kava bar (not good if you are the one getting a ride!).  We had woken him up and it turns out he went right back to sleep! So an hour later we figured out what happened and had to wake Amanda’s husband  Jeff (you can’t go out as a girl with out a guy in the  middle of the night for safety reasons.)  Then we had to pray for a Taxi cause it was the middle of the night and just as I prayed one showed up (we had only seen two vehicles period in the last hour we had been there!)!
Finally after much waiting and praying Little Bella was born at 7 am!  
IMG_1516This photo is of when she was only 20 min old!  Pre bath.  I was the very first person to touch her after delivery except for the nurse who delivered her!  She was under a heat lamp crying while the nurse attended to Mary (birth mother) and I was able to touch her and soothe her.  I was even able to give her her first bath !IMG_1514
The kids and Josh came as soon as they were allowed at about 8:30 on their way to church which happens to be right behind the hospital.  They were all so excited to meet her!
Notice the falling off diaper! Dahlia was crying cause all She got to hold were Bella’s feet.  Pierce and Dahlia just love having a little sister.  Dahlia keeps tugging on my pants saying “I can’t see my baby” when I am holding her. 
This morning she got out of bed saying “Ours baby! Ours baby!”  Like where is our baby?  Usually she yells “mama” and waits for me to get her out of bed.  Unfortunately at this point Bella much prefers if Josh or I hold her…Don’t know why :) 
This is the brave lady who gave Bella to us.  She is sitting with her daughter on her left and her sister on her right.  She is 36 and is not married, and the father is long gone.  Her parents are not willing to take another of her children as they have raised the other kids (the girl above 18 and two boys 7 and 10).  She knew we were her answer to prayer as to what to do concerning the baby.STA_1519
Giving the baby up was hard for her to do even though she had planned it for months.  It was a bit emotional at the actual passing over when she got off the bus before us.  She didn’t say anything and I croaked out an awkward “Thank you, thank you” not knowing what else to say.  I am pretty sure she didn’t see me crying as I received the baby from her sister who was with her cause she wouldn’t look at me.  I think she was trying not to let me see her emotions.  I  wrote her a letter and stuck it in her bag at the hospital.  I just wanted to go beyond the language barrier and say that we were honored and thanked her for choosing life for our now daughter.  I reminded her that the love we feel for this baby is the same love God has for us (including her) as He says in the Bible he has “adopted” us in to His family.  I continued to tell her that God has a plan for her life and for Bella's life and that we were blessed to be a part of it.  I also reminded her that God brings the best out of a very bad situation and that this was exactly that.  We have asked her to write a letter to  Bella telling her why she choose to relinquish her to us and that it was not because she didn’t love her…  I hope that she will do that for Bella's sake and for hers. 
We find it amazing that somehow God arranged it all to go so smoothly.  What a blessing little Bella is to us.  Truly Gods gift to us.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Favorite quick and easy dinner- Quinoa and black bean tostadas

I LOVE these tostadas and my meat loving husband loves them as well!  Quick, super nutritious, easy, delicious, and cheap!  I boil 1 cup quinoa (you can find this in a health food store or online) in 2 cups water with at little bouillon (2 tsp) until cooked.  If you want you can add some chopped up onion and or garlic at this stage to boil with the quinoa.  That only takes about 15-20 minutes.  Then I add a rinsed can of black beans.  Shred cheese, chop onions and tomatoes and toast corn tortillas in the toaster or broiler, but watch as they burn FAST!  Now all you do is layer the quinoa bean mixture, cheese, onion , tomato, on a toasted corn tortilla and top with salsa and sour cream!  YUMMY!!

Quinoa is what is known as an ancient grain.  These grains are known for their high nutritional content.  It is great because kids like it, it has a mild nutty flavor, is easy to use as it works like a substitute for brown rice, and cooks very fast.  It is also very high in protein and other nutrients.  Give it a try!  It is a great way to add more nutrients to your meals easily.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Check out this great tutorial for a cute chore chart (not a plain paper one)

I love this chore chart from April at her awesome blog since it is so cute!  No more messy papers on the fridge.   I love that you can tailor it to fit your decor with whatever fabric you have, and it is still fun for the kids to get to move their chore slips.  If you do one let me see a photo in the comments.  When I get around to doing mine I will post a photo.
decor friendly chore chart

Friday, April 8, 2011

Owl cupcake cake! Lots of fun and easy to eat.

We had lots of fun making this owl cake made from cupcakes.  My frosting was a little too runny cause I just couldn't bear to keep adding powdered sugar but other than that it went great!

To get started you need cupcakes, frosting, sweetened shredded coconut, gingersnaps or other flat round dark cookies, and pretzel rods.

Here is how to do it..
Make cupcakes.  Tint most of the frosting green or brown for a more realistic owl, and leave a small amount white, and an even smaller amount needs to be tinted orange for the beak and claws.  Now cut several ginger snaps in half being careful not to break them into a bunch of pieces.  Cut one into a triangle for the beak shape.

Set the cupcakes up on the platter in this pattern.  Two frosted in white on top for eyes. A row of three frosted green followed by a row of four in green, followed again by a row of 3 also in green, with a row of two frosted white after that as pictured.  Now sprinkle the shredded coconut over the belly area and then place the gingersnap halves on the edges in two rows as pictured to form wings.  Take two whole gingersnaps and frost a small circle in the middle for the whites of the eyes and use a small dark candy for the iris of the eye.  Now place them on the top two cupcakes to complete the eyes.  Place the orange frosted triangle cookie piece in between the eyes as pictured.  To create the sticks at the bottom arrange several pretzel rods to your liking.  Now frost the claws onto the pretzel rods and you are done!

I got the idea here Owl cupcake cake by family fun magazine

Linked up to Skip To My Lou made by you  Monday!

Fast easy healthy breakfast on the run! No more excuses for fast food.

View photo 2.jpg in slide show
We love what the kids call "egglish muffins".  They are healthy fast and portable. 
You put one egg into a Tupperware and micro if for around 40 seconds.
 Meanwhile you toast your whole grain English muffin.  Once the egg is done add a piece of cheese if you want on top of the egg to melt while the muffin is toasting.  Then just put it all together and VIOLA! One portable protein filled delicious breakfast.  If you want to make multiples at one time use a micro safe muffin pan for the eggs like a silicone muffin pan.  That way you can make up to 6 at one time.

Want to save money with grocery coupons but hate the bother?

I love and because you can preload your coupons from the internet onto your safeway card so no paper is ever involved!  Nothing to forget, wreak havok in your purse, or delay you in line!  You just set up an account (easy and fast) and look at the coupons online, and anything that looks interesting you click and it adds it to your card.  Once you have done that you can print or email yourself the shopping list for the coupons you chose.  Then when you are checking out all you do is input your safeway card and they come off automatically!  Pretty painless and you can save quite a bit if you do this regularly. Indicates partner stores for electronic coupons and that printable can be used anywhere
check out to start preloading your safeway card!

Or try for a differant selection of coupons to preload

DIY plastic bottle bracelets - Recycle and add to your jewlery in a few easy steps!

OOOH!! What fun and such an easy project! Now I just need a plastic bottle...Hm...

See Plastic Bottle Bracelets and 1000's of others - or share your own on Cut Out + Keep

I love this reversable shoulder bag tutorial!

I have been looking for a simple tutorial for a great shoulder bag and this one looks like it will do the trick.  It is the perfect size to throw a few water bottles, snacks, diapers and other necesities!  I will post a photo when I get mine made.  I have hight hopes of doing it soon, but with 4 kids you never know!

See Reversible Bag and 1000's of others - or share your own on Cut Out + Keep

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fitness Freebie - free printable fitness and healthy eating journal

If you are interested in getting in better shape, improving your health or have other diet and exercise related goals the first place to start is by keeping a log of what you do and eat and when.  This not only gives you accountability but gives you a reality check of where you are and what is tripping you up.  You might notice for instance that every day at 3 pm you go for a cookie or other sugary snacks.  Armed with the knowledge of where you struggle you are better prepared to attain your goal.  It also motivates you to NOT eat that brownie if you know you are going to have to write it down.

One of the most effective ways I have shed weight or gotten my eating habits back on track was to simply try to cut 90 calories.  That meant I could eat a cookie but maybe I wouldn't eat the last bite of it, or maybe I really wanted tortilla chips I would just eat less.  It helped me avoid eating things that I just mindlessly picked up, by reminding me that I had to cut somewhere.  It made it really easy to be mindful of what I put into my mouth, so that I could make choices that fueled my body.  It also helps you avoid the eating that is fueled by boredom.  You would be surprised what even a little effort could do for your health.  Now print this off and go for it!

Here is a free printable diet and exercise log or journal thanks to Multimedia designs by Sandy at to help you on your way!  Just click on the link below it to print yours off.

Free printable diet and fitness journal

If you want it formatted to print two to a page on a landscape view please email me and I will be happy to email it to you. To turn it into a book get the 2 per page view from me and print it off front and back.  Now make stacks of 5 sheets.  Once that is done fold all the sheets in half and stack all the booklets together to form one large book.  Print plenty so you can bind it into a notebook that will last you a long time.   Then make a simple cover sheet or use your scrap book materials on cardboard to make a cute cover and back page.  Make sure your cardboard is slightly bigger on all the edges so that your pages do not hang out.  Now all you have to do is take it to the local office supply or copy store to have them bind it with a wire binder or plastic comb for around a dollar!  I will post photos of mine when it is all done and a clear tutorial when I get a chance.