Thursday, September 29, 2011

Joy in the journey!

Today I celebrated my 34th birthday.  And although I do not have 34 years worth of wisdom to share with you right now I just had one thought on my heart. 

Learning to enjoy the FULL BOUNTY of GODS AMAZING GOODNESS. 

 I feel like the last several years for us have been so filled with striving, stress, economic strain, massive changes and challenges!  

Just since 2009 we have moved to Colorado from Alaska where we sold a home we had just spent 4 years adding on to and remodeling as well as having our first two babies. Moved into my parents place for 3 months since Colorado was a temporary stop over before moving overseas to do volunteer work.  Left our stuff in storage and packed what we could in suitcases and moved our family of 4 to a remote island in Vanuatu located in the South Pacific for an undetermined amount of time.  We also spent our lives savings on a beach property there in Vanuatu with the dream to develop a bungalow style mini resort and build our home there.  Enjoyed working with Youth with a mission a Christian foreign aid ministry but struggled dramatically with finances wondering where our next rent payment would come from as our saving ran out.  Then adopted a baby girl from birth with only 3 weeks notice into a village home with out running hot water and VERY limited cooking facilities and NO laundry facilities (which comes in handy with cloth diapers!!) on a non existent income.
3 months later we found out we were pregnant with our happy surprise who is baby number 4.  Then struggled with our adopted daughters paperwork (still in the works as far as American Citizenship  is concerned).
 From there we came home to the US for a "visit"  that turned into a permanent move into the economy we are all now struggling with.  We lived with my parents off and on for almost a year while we tried to find work and find a little home. 
While we are still waiting for out land to sell (please pray!!) we have purchased a cute little fixer upper that is currently in the works.  We have been blessed to part of starting a telecommunications business with my AMAZING parents where we now live only a few miles from my them.  The business is still in the growth stages so income is still tight but the potential is really starting to show as business picks up and that is exciting!

Why did I go into all that?  To tell you what I learned in the midst of it all... Life can be hard and taxing and confusing but NEVER ONCE did GODS FAITHFULNESS leave us.  In the middle of every little or big trial GOD was there encouraging, providing. and blessing us with little and big surprises along the way. 

I am really feeling God saying ENJOY THE BOUNTY don't get hung up with the little stuff!  Joy really IS in the journey and not the destination.  We truly can relax, trust and ENJOY what we do have before us rather than stress about what we don't!

These are the faces of little ones who GET it! 
My little ones who I have a lot to learn from.  The Bible says for a reason...
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." (Matthew 18: 3-5)
These guys know how to enjoy the journey and see the wonder in all the little moments.  I want to be there.  I want to be free to trust my GOOD and loving Heavenly Father with the details and go enjoy what I have so generously been given!

I hope this post will inspire you to look around and ENJOY, and trust God with your finances, health and struggles.  Look to see what you have to be thankful for and I bet you will see the undeniable bounty that we have.

The faces of Joy!

Monday, September 26, 2011

DIY Pumpkin Spice Lattes & Pumpkin Pie White Hot Chocolate!

It is that time of year...I love fall and one of my favorite things about it is..PUMPKIN madness.  Everything comes in pumpkin flavor!  Pumpkin scones, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup...

Here are a few pumpkin flavored hot drinks to take the chill off those chilly mornings!
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Photo courtesy of  flikr
makes 1-2 servings

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin OR 1 teaspoon of  Pumpkin Spice Syrup (your choice)
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute - you can halve this amount
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1-2 shots espresso (about 1/4 cup of espresso or 1/2 cup of strong brewed coffee if you don't have an espresso machine.)

In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin and sugar and cook on medium heat, stirring, until steaming. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and spice, transfer to a blender and process for 15 seconds until foamy or just whisk the mixture really well with a wire whisk.  Even better?  
Use your french press to froth all of it!
You just pour the milk mixture into the french press and pump it up and down vigorously until it is just as frothy as you would like.
Now pour into a large mug and add the espresso on top.
Optional: Top with whipped cream and sprinkle pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, or cinnamon on top.
This great recipe from   

If coffee is not your thing try this delicious pumpkin pie white hot chocolate recipe from Closet Cooking.

Pumpkin Pie White Hot Chocolate

Pumpkin Pie White Hot Chocolate 

(makes 4 servings)

3 cups whole milk
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 ounces white chocolate (roughly chopped)
pinch salt
Just heat everything besides the hot chocolate then mix in the chocolate once it has reached a steady simmer and take it off the heat while you add the chocolate and stir it until it melts.  

Want it frothy like a steamer?  You just pour the milk mixture into the french press and pump it up and down vigorously until it is just as frothy as you would like.

Optional: Top with whipped cream and sprinkle pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, or cinnamon on top.

YUMMY!! I can't wait to try these!  Hope these drinks take the chill off and help you enjoy fall!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

DIY distressed farmhouse table

This is my dream table!
A huge awesome talbe to fit all my little kiddos and friends.  I have already shown my husband for future reference!  So it will not fit in my house at this point but when I get a bigger dining room this is the perfect table!
The full DIY detailed dirrections are found HERE.

This is another photo of the exact same table so you can see the full details.  There are extensions on it as well (not pictured).  I LOVE IT!!!

Farmhouse Table

I love this

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's FALL!! Homemade Bagels, Pumpkin Scones, and Quinoa Biscottis!

I LOVE fall!  It is my favorite time of the year!  It means baking, apple cider, sweaters, cuddling up inside and crisp air outside.  My birthday is in September too so that could be part of the love I have for fall... After a summer of avoiding the oven I am ready for the baking to begin.  What is at the top of my list to bake you ask?
Homemade Bagels
I found a great recipe and tutorial for homemade bagels here at The Happy Housewife.  What a great name for a blog.  I love it.  I have never made bagels but always wanted to so this is day.  I plan on making these later today with my kiddos for a homeschool lesson on baking which also doubles as a great math lesson in fractions especially if we double the recipe.

Next on the list? 
Pumpkin scones 
because I love anything pumpkin in fall and who doesn't love scones.
There is a great recipe here at New to Veggie World.  There is an included frosting recipe or glaze, but I prefer my scones with out all the additional sugar.  That may be just me but I am not a big frosting fan.  I actually started to make these the other day but after I got my flour all measured out I realized I had no eggs.  BUMMER!  So as of yet no pumpkin scones for me.  I see them in my very near future!

Now for another treat I am dying to make..
Quinoa Flour Biscottis.
Find the recipe here at the Enlightened Cooking one of my new favorite food blogs.
We all have heard how healthy quinoa is but making it the same way every day can get old so I thought this looked like a fun way to add quinoa to my diet, avoid white flour and get to finally make homemade biscottis! YUMMY!! All this baking talk is making me hungry and making me realize I need to do a workout post soon as all this baking could be detrimental to that healthy body we are all working toward!

Since Pumpkin is a favorite of mine I am sure a recipe post is in order for all things pumpkin.  Like pumpkin butter, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pie fruit dip... Oh I could go on forever, but I will save that for another post so you can get baking!  What are your favorite fall recipes?


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Full hands and full hearts!

I have 4 kiddos aged 7, 4, 2, and 1.  So I here "You have your hands full!" a lot.  It is very true that I have my hands full, but I wouldn't change it for the world!  I saw this inspiring  quote from oby and tara bennett parents of a child with severe disabilities. 
 Her story really touched my heart.  When ever I think I have my hands full I will remember how blessed I am to have health on our side.  Their blog is very inspiring to say the least.  Joy is in the journey and we will never get it all right or have it all easy here on this earth.

 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

“Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.” Joel 2:23 NIV

Monday, September 19, 2011

Free sewing pattern for easy slippers!

Christmas is just around the corner and it's time to get started on all those Christmas gifts.  I saw these and thought they would make great Christmas gifts!
I can't wait to try making these!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Still dealing with mom hair? More hair help.

The sock bun was a huge hit so I thought I would share a couple other ideas to keep you inspired and away from the everyday ponytail.  Don't get me wrong I resort to the ponytail on occasion as well, but I am trying to make it less and less frequent  I NEVER have time for complicated hair styles or curling or blow drying, so I found these when looking for easy solutions to good looking hair in a short amount of time.

"The Simple Gibson Tuck" 
Easy instructions and full video found at  Sara Lynn Paige

She also another great hair tutorial for
  "The simple Up Do"
hairstyle updo v. 3
This photo is her photo of version 2 of the up do.
 Another easy to follow video is found here,

I love easy ideas for hair and I have more coming soon  like the one I am currently using all the time. It is great for a cute pulled together look when it is up and when taken out it gives you  beachy waves .  Still need to have hubby take photos and then I will post.  Any other ideas for great hair in short amount of time?  Let me know!  I love comments!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

15 foods that boost your metabolism!

(via pinterest)

We all need some fitness inspiration this time of year.  We are busy with kids, schooling, etc... But the fall holidays are coming, so we better keep up our healthy eating so the winter pounds don't pile on!  


Saturday, September 10, 2011

FREE homeschool helps! part 1

I have been saying for awhile now that I would compile a list of free homeschool helps with links but haven't done it yet for you guys.  SO here it is!  Hope this is helpful!

Here is a great Charlotte Mason style help that has
Printable manuscript copy work sheets (hymns, poetry, scripture)

This is one of my all time favorites as it has worksheets in almost every subject that you can print off for free.  No need to buy big busywork books.  Plus you can customize a lot of the worksheets.  These are great for your morning baskets that I explained earlier here.
Printable worksheets for math, handwriting (customizable), English, word searches, Geography etc...

worksheets plus  is a great source of printables for every subject.  I just printed off the vocab worksheets I plan on using tomorrow.  There are a lot of fun grade appropriate crosswords and other games to keep you kiddos interested while working on language arts.

I also just printed off these month at a time list of journal prompts from 2nd grade is splendid to use weekly to keep writing assignments fun and interesting!

A fun approach for spelling is to have the kids read it, stamp it, and write it.

You can find these printables at mama-jenn a great blog FULL of fun and useful printables and good ideas!
Teach your kids to type using this free online game style system from BBC .

Let your kids enjoy listening to stories.  You can find a HUGE list of reading websites here that read stories for our kiddos.  Choose a story for them and then do a comprehension quiz later.

A journal jar is a great way to add excitement to writing assignments.  You can print off these colorful journal writing prompts here from Teaching with TLC.

Looking for fun games to help with the reading process?  There are great online educational games for reading using phonics at Starfall. PBSKids and PBSkidsgo also have a huge selection of learning games.  All of these are fun educational safe places to send you kids online.

Another great resource is homeschool views as they offer free printables, journals and record keeping helps and whole unit studies to print off!

So that ought to keep you busy for awhile!  I will do parts 2 and 3 later, but for now you should have plenty of things to discover.

have a favorite?  Please let me know!  I love comments!  Nice to know who is reading and what is interesting to you all. :)


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Date night !?! How to make it happen and some fun ideas...

Between 4 kids, budgeting, homeschooling, cloth diapers, the kids' dance class', car pooling, meal making, devotional times, working out, house cleaning, and sippy cup filling I find it hard to plan a date much less actually attend one!

I was perusing pinterest  one of my favorite late night activities.  I was looking for creative ideas for jewelry, DIY crafts, and sewing projects that I don't have time for... when I stumbled upon several "pins" for posts about creative date nights.  The thought of a date night right now is so enticing that they drew me in!  I found some amazing ideas for creative dates, creative plans to make them happen like the "year of dates" gift, the can of dates, etc...  These are so great I just had to share!  I hope these inspire you to a year full of special memories and a chance to remember why you fell in love in the first place!

This is a MUST READ from a great relationship blog love actually

These range from at home dates like slumber party for two to all day excursions  like the imaginative and budget friendly at home Vegas Vacation!

Just need some fun ideas for day to day romance like...
And a ton of other fun ways to show your love from Love Actually in the day to day romance section.

This year of dates in a basket from Shannon Brown is my favorite idea of them all because it ENSURES A DATE NIGHT! What a great Christmas gift or Birthday gift!  You will have to check it out to see it in action but basically it is a years worth of planned dates all lined out most of which are paid for, At the beginning of the month you just look over the calendar with your hubby and pick a time that works and you have the date to look forward to all month.  it also gives you a good reason and time to plan a babysitter!  

Got any great ideas of what you and your spouse do to keep the romance alive a midst the chaos of daily life?  I would love to hear them from you all. I am excited about trying to bring back some of the fun of our dating days!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tutorial for matching kids reversible apron and chef hat!

 First of all can I just say how ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE my daughter is?
 Being as Christmas is just around the corner and we could all use more birthday gift ideas I wanted to share this great set of tutorials with you.   I made this set of matching reversible apron and chefs hat from a couple of different tutorials and some altering.  Bella my 2 year old was modeling it for me, but since she is only two and it is for an 8 year old so you can see that it is a little big for her. It was just right for the eight year old.
 I used canvas type home decor fabric as it holds it's shape so nicely and does not require any interfacing, but you can use quilting fabric if you like with some interfacing in the hat.  I used the chefs hat tutorial from Michael Miller Fabric found here (you have to click on the link on the right side of the page).  It was pretty easy to follow and I was really happy with it.  I would probably use a smaller circle of fabric for the top of the hat next time as it seemed like a bit much when it was done.  Just my personal preference.
Now the apron is where I started to do my own thing a little bit.  I followed the basic child's apron pattern as a guideline but just used the measurements they gave to design my own pattern.  Once I had the basic measurements drawn out I used a plate to round off the side of the pattern to give my pattern a rounded bottom edge instead of the square corners on the original pattern.  I also skipped the large rectangular pocket of the original in favor of a cute embellished rounded pocket sewed on at an angle.   Click here for the basic childs apron pattern that I altered from Michael Miller Fabrics. (again you now have to click on the link on the right hand side of the page.)
Here you can see that I did not sew straps at all but used coordinating ribbon to for style and to cut down on the sewing time and material needed.
 To create the pocket I cut two rounded pocket shapes and placed them right sides together and sewed them together around the sides and bottom.  I then flipped them right side out and ironed them.  From there I created a cute little bow out of bias tape I made.  Then I covered the top of the pocket with the bias tape careful to enclose both the inside piece and outside piece and sewed it in place.  Next I attached the bias tape bow I made.  Then simply attached the pocket to the apron at an angle BEFORE I SEWED the front and back of the apron together.   I did this on both sides in the coordinating fabric so that both sides of the apron were completed. Form there I continued with the directions in the above tutorial.
This is a view of the other side of the apron. I am not sure which I like best, as tjhey both came out great!
Love my little Bella girl what a cutie she is. She looks ready to take on a modeling career in this one!

Hope someone special gets this cute set from you soon.  Love to hear how yours turn out!