Friday, May 30, 2014

Fab 5

Fab 5 is every Friday when I sit down and share a combination of:  my favorite 5 things from the past week, or random thoughts and going ons of the week (i.e:  randomness).  Enjoy and comment with some of yours!!
1.)  The Mr. and I have very different tastes in TV choices.  Basically the only things we tend to both want to watch are sermons or cooking shows (cause he really likes to eat).  99% of the time that we are relaxing together watching tv in the evenings, one of us is sacrificing for the other.  (Think ESPN and the History Channel.  Snore.)  Gratefully for me I married a total gentleman who insists we watch whatever I want and never grumbles about it, but acts totally interested.  I'll be honest I don't voluntarily flip on the ball game for him nearly enough.  BUT we have recently BOTH gotten hooked on a show and I'm declaring that a small victory in our household...
We're kind of nuts about this show, and spend so much time screaming and jumping up and down on the sofa rooting for people we don't even know that if people were looking in our living room window they'd wish they hadn't.  

2.)  Speaking of tv/relaxation time-the Mr. is finally home for Summer!  Would I be a total dweeb if I confessed that the night before his last day of work for the semester I stayed awake all night because I was so excited?  Which of course was a dumb idea since when he did arrive home that evening I was d-e-a-d. Nonetheless, we celebrated all weekend by doing absolutely nothing and doing all of that nothing together.

3.)  The Mr. has insisted on taking over the household chores this week, since he is now home to do so.  Ya'll I haven't cleaned a single dish or unloaded a solitary dishwasher or laundry load this whole week-it's a beautiful thing.  It's made me so lazy though, that and the super rainy/dreary weather we've been having.  I'm catching up on some DVR and falling asleep at the drop of a hat.  See text below to my BFF for Example A:

4.)  I heard an idea the other day about someone posting a picture of their nails every Monday and calling it Manicure Monday and I instantly thought YES doing it!  Love that!  Then I floated back down to reality and remembered that though I do actually do my nails every single Saturday night (it's a weird tradition that takes me back to my childhood-still do it 20 years later...) I typically get hooked on a certain color and use it til it's gone.  Yawn.  Make sure ya'll tune in every Monday for the next 6 months to see a pic of my nails looking the exact same as they did the previous Monday and the ones before that as well.  I suppose certain ideas should be kept in the "drafts only" file in our brain.

5.)  The Lord has been laying a few things on my heart lately that have really stolen my thoughts and attention this week.  One of them being the act of being a blessing to as many people we can while on this short spin around Earth.  It's got me thinking about the culture we live in-social media can be so weird sometimes, you know?  We find out what our kids teacher had for dinner that night and that the kid down the street has gotten strep for the 4th time this year.  Half the time you scroll through and you're all like, whatever man-didn't really need to know that.  But then there are also times, where if you pray for eyes to see the needs of those around you, you get to show off the God you serve by showing up and being a blessing.  This week I got that privilege, a neighbor I hardly know at all posted on her Facebook asking for prayer about a situation that she couldn't share much about-but that the past few days had been rough and they were seeking God's glory of the whole situation.  God sent me to my knees for this almost-stranger, and then to my kitchen.  So I got to walk down the street with a plate of hot chocolate chip cookies and a smile letting her know that whatever was going on I was covering her family in prayer.  And cookies.  Because really, cookies couldn't hurt, right?  I'm urging you to do the same.  As weird and messed up as social media can be in this day, it can also set up some of the biggest blessing and ministry opportunities if only we would pray for the eyes to see them with the willing heart to follow where He leads.  

Ok I'm ugly crying now...but I wanted you to know I'm crazy about you and so blessed to walk this journey together-no matter how many miles between us or even if I don't get to hug your neck til we reach Home.  Is there anything I can pray for you about this weekend?  We may be too far apart for cookies, but the prayers cover the miles the same.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Top 10: Unique Father's Day Gifts

As May is winding down (how did that happen??) my mind is heading into Summer.  Some of the best Father's Day presents do not have to be crazy expensive, but they may take some planning time!  So today we're getting a head start on Father's Day with a Top 10 round up of unique Father's Day gift ideas!  I've done my best to pull together a large variety of ideas, from DIY with the kids, to unique customized to just what the man in your life likes.  Let's get started!

1.)  Men's Subscription Services
The thing I love most about companies like Birchbox or Beauty Box is that it really is (ok I'm going to sound corny..)the gift that keeps on giving.  Personally I LOVE those kinds of gifts! They've come out with so many different variations of subscription box services that they are not at all primarily for women anymore.  Some of my favorites are Birchbox Man, The Tie Bar, Mystery Tackle Box (for the outdoorsy man), and The Handy Box (for the gadget loving Mr. Fix It).

2.)  Child's Artwork Key Chain
This etsy shop transforms your child's artwork/handwriting to daddy in a unique key chain.  How precious is this!

3.)  DIY Tie Holder
Is this a win-win or what?!  Dad gets an adorable tie holder and mom gets a closet floor she walk in without stepping on the ties.  The vinyl for this as well as the DIY tutorial is found here at Poppies at Play!

4.)  Generations Picture
I can't get over the precious factor on this one.  Talk about a gift for all the father's in your family to truly cherish.  Again this one is a super inexpensive idea as well, but very expensive in the meaning/sentimental department.

5.)  DIY Dad Clock 
It's true, most women would be thrilled with a simple wall hanging with a picture of her and her babes, but remember-men like function and practicality.  This is the perfect solution and Amy provides a perfect tutorial here.

6.)  For the Kid at Heart
Does your man work with kids for a living?  Or is just a big kid himself?  I love these Lego cufflinks that reminds him to not take life too seriously.  Instructables offers a great tutorial on how to make these yourself!

7.)  Tie Wreath
Love this idea!  This takes something that could appear simple and lackluster like a new tie to such a fun, creative level!

8.)  Father's Day Party
Have a large family?  Or even just a great group of girlfriends?  Join forces and throw the father's in your group a giant party!  Make sure to include all the guys favorites-food, plenty of man-movies or ESPN going in the living room, and have each woman (host) bring a small gift for each father represented.  (Think smallish-a pack of their fav pop or candy bar).  I Heart Naptime has provided great printables that would work perfect for this idea!  They can be found here

9.)  All About Dad
Source unknown
  This is a super simple and inexpensive option that really involves the kids.  Sit down and interview them with questions about their daddy.  Include those questions and answers in a beautiful print like this or even on a video!

10.)  Customize it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tasty Tuesday-Beef & Broccoli & Link Party

Hi friends and welcome to another Tasty Tuesday!  Thanks for stopping by!

If my husband had his way, we would have Chinese food every single day of the week.  Whenever I decide to get it for dinner on the way home I've stopped calling him and asking him if that sounds good to him, because I know the answer.  So I've been looking for some Chinese food I can make at home that he will love just as much as the take-out he adores.

I found it in this recipe.

Remember when I said this Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken recipe was my husband's favorite? Well after we tried this Beef & Broccoli he had a new favorite.  And for good reason.  Here's what you'll need.

2 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef broth (or if you are an airhead like me and forget to buy that, you can use a beef bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup of boiling water)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons corn starch
Fresh broccoli florets

After the meat has been sliced into thin strips
Mix the beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, olive oil, and garlic in the bottom of your slow cooker.
Then add your meat and coat it with the sauce.
Cook this on low for 6-8 hours until the meat is thoroughly cooked.  When it's done it will look something like this...

At this point the Mr started eating it and I had to turn on ESPN to distract him enough to actually finish the recipe.  Moving on.  Remove about 2-3 tablespoons of the broth and set aside to cool completely.  
While this is cooling prepare your broccoli by washing it and chopping it into bite sized florets (I used 3 small heads of broccoli-but we really like broccoli at my house).
Once the broth you've set aside cools completely, add in the corn starch and stir it up until it thickens.  Then add it back to the rest of the meat/broth mixture in the slow cooker.  Also, turn it up to high so that it will thicken more quickly, and add in the broccoli.  Let this go for about 30 minutes, or until your sauce is thicker and the broccoli is nice and tender.
And here is the finished result.  I recommend serving this over a bed of fresh rice, but it definitely isn't needed, as the Mr. and I dived in like we hadn't eaten in months and didn't slow down enough to make rice.  This is definitely one to try friends!
Printable version found here!  

Now on to the Recipe Link Up!
A few favorites from last week....

If you've been featured feel free to grab a button!

Monday, May 26, 2014

About the time I waited for the Will of God to arrive

Throughout my teenage and young adult life I was in search for one main thing.  
Not for a boy (though at times I was).
Not for the right college to attend.
Not for the right friends.

For the will of God.  

Which in my mind would arrive most likely after a "spiritual high" with God, you know like church camp or a discipleship retreat or even a really great night at youth group.  Once that "arrived" things would really fall into place for me.  I knew it.  

It would fall into my life like a package from the post office, neatly bundled together with a clear sender (God) and a clear recipient (me) to leave no room for any doubt or question.  Inside the package would be a clear and detailed plan for my life.
Go to ________ college.
Study ________ degree.
Date _________ boy.
Marry _______ boy.
Work for ________ company.
Live in _______ town.

Simple.  Point blank.  Answers.  I knew I would probably still make mistakes and sin after I knew God's will for me, because I knew I would still be human.  I would probably go through times where I'd wander off and do my own thing.  But I would always go back to the day I received "the plan" and would always return to it. Because you know...God gave me that plan.  

But He didn't.

And I never planned for that.  

I ended up staying home for college and attending our local university because my family needed me.  I jumped around to about 4/5 different degrees because my heart longed for a field of creativity and design, but my head told my heart that was silly and I needed to focus on something "logical" like business.  So basically my head and my heart fought and my semesters reflected that, bouncing back and forth more times than I'd care to admit.  I found myself in a toxic and abusive relationship that was the biggest mess you've ever seen.  And for reasons I still can't figure out to this day, I stayed in it, it was like an addiction, a stronghold.  Each night after he would take me on a date he would keep me in his car in my parents driveway and scream about how dumb I was.  One night we ran into a group of his buddies, and he blew up at me right in front of everyone in the middle of a crowded Wal-Mart because one of his friends was "looking at me too long" and somehow it was my fault because I should've promptly walked away as soon as they approached us.  So I was given rules from that day forward to go stand in the parking lot by the car or in a bathroom if that situation ever presented itself to us again.  Each night after he dropped me off I would go to my bedroom and shut the door and fall to the ground burying my face in the carpet and weeping until I couldn't breathe-begging God for some way out of this mess.  I was stuck.  He asked me to marry him, I said I couldn't...I didn't know why....but I just couldn't.  And that was my first brave step in a long hard walk out of that pit.  After a week of completely cutting ties with him, my best friend from childhood was diagnosed with cancer.  She quit school and moved home, I quit school and took care of her.  It was a dark season for me.  Many nights I stayed awake with her trying to convince her she would survive-but truth be told...I wasn't positive that I would.  

So what if all that would have arrived in "the plan"?  What if that was the answer I got when I begged God to reveal to me His will for my life?

I don't know if I would have even gotten out of bed the day after high school graduation.

Beyond the heart palpitations I surely would've had, I believe there is deep significance to the way that we don't get a plan as we often might think we want.  Where would our dependance on Him be?  If I knew His will for my life then wouldn't I just take it from there?  Instead He revealed it step by step, day by day, joy by joy and yes-sorrow by sorrow.  If I wasn't walking closely with Him I would've missed it.  It demanded an intimacy with Him in my life, in a time in my life that I probably was more interested in my independence.  

God will never reveal His will to us when we aren't willing to follow it.  We will never, ever reach a right destination on a wrong road.  It's the moments we are completely and totally surrendered to Him, recognizing that without Him taking over entirely I'm just going to mess this up.  Because He takes full responsibility for a life that is completely surrendered to Him.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Scripture Sunday

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tasty Tuesday- Chewy Chocolate Carmel Cookies & Link Party

Hi friends and welcome to another Tasty Tuesday!  Thanks so much for stopping by!

You know how most people are about chocolate?
That's how I am about carmel.

I love it.  

The Mr. always knew I loved it, but I don't think he understood just how much until just a week or so of marriage when I was dying for something sweet and our new little place hardly had anything in it in the food department-but we had a bottle of carmel ice cream sauce.  So of course I grabbed a kitchen spoon and ate that right up.
Of course.

He has never, ever let me live that down.  Especially because he knows I would do it again any time.  So while these cookies are a delicious basic chocolate cookie that you could "dress up" anyway (think peanut butter chips, or chocolate chips for the extreme chocolate lovers in your life), or they are even delicious plain and just as they are.  But I have to wonder-why would you want to?

These are the perfect chewy cookie with a gooey carmel filling in the middle.  I could eat these every day for every meal and be a happy woman.  Try these out for utter happiness.

Here's what you'll need...

1 1/4 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Optional:  1 bag of carmel candies, or 2 cups of chips (peanut butter, butterscotch, chocolate-whatever you like)
(This recipe yields approximately 54 cookies, unless you like giant cookies like I do.  Also, I typically half this recipe because 54 of these delicious beauties would be a very bad thing in my house.)

Start by prepping the carmel candies!  I'd be embarrassed to talk about the number of candies that were consumed in this portion of the baking process-so let's just skip over it and pretend like I didn't have to shove a stack of wrappers in the trash so you all didn't see it in the background of any of these pictures.

I've found the best way to do these is to make them like a round disc.  So I start by kind of squeezing in all 4 corners, then flattening the whole candy a bit.  This is not a huge deal or anything, however I have found that doing this helps ensure that the candy stays inside the cookie and that the corners don't poke through while they bake.

Next preheat the oven to 350 and grease a baking sheet.  In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.  In another bowl combine all the dry ingredients and blend gradually with the creamed mixture.  Stir in your chips now if you're using any.  For these carmel cookies, take a good sized spoonful of dough.
Bury the carmel in the center of the dough ball and work it in between your hands to shape it into a ball.  If this is too difficult try to refrigerate your dough for a bit (I never do this because I can't wait that long, but you could if you have more self control than myself) or lightly butter your hands.  I usually am pretty messy when I'm done with all the cookies, but nothing too difficult at all.
Bake for 7-9 minutes, keeping a close eye on them.  You definitely don't want to over bake these.
Printable version found here!

Now on to the party!  A huge thank you to everyone who linked up last week-you all seriously blessed me.  Here are a few favorites from last week's party!

If you've been featured feel free to grab a featured button!

Party Button here!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Scripture Sunday

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Top 10 Yard Sale Tips & Tricks

#1-Make it Multi-Family
Call your neighbors, friends or family and see if they have any junk treasures that they want to join with yours!  It's easy to keep track of what things belong to who by using colored dots as price tags!  Each family gets a color that is only theirs.  When advertising make sure to include the words "Multi-family" in the title, it really makes your sale more attractive and appealing to shoppers! 
#2-Grab Bags for 25 cents
You know all the kids meal toys you have laying around?  All the vending machine trinkets?  Put a hand full in a baggie and toss them in a basket for 25 cents a bag!  Make sure the baggie is clear so that kids can see what is in them, and make sure they aren't broken or anything.  My mom did this trick when we were growing up and it was always a huge hit.  They were surprisingly one of the first things to go at every garage sale, and many times someone would buy the whole basket with the intention of using them as treat bag favors for a kids birthday party!!  
#3-Get your checkout table organized!
People don't want to stand around waiting for you to figure out how much they owe, how much change they should get back, or where you even put the change for that matter!  Get it organized before the sale starts, and put 1-2 people in charge of that table.  Have a box for money/change, anything that has a lid and is not clear. A shoe box is good!  Also if you are having a mulit-family yard sale, have a piece of paper and a pen and as people check out have 1 person in charge of jotting down the color of dot and the amount of the item sold.  That way someone doesn't have to wait as you scratch and scrape a sticker off, and you know exactly how much each family made at the end of the day.  Just make sure that if you've gone down on a price that the written price matches that!!
#4-Man your table!
While we're on the check out table, make sure someone is at that table constantly!  I have heard of more than one yard sale getting some cash stolen because someone walked away from the money box to help someone or answer a question.  Make sure you give someone the job and a chair to stay at that table continually!!  If someone asks a question let them direct them to another helper.
#5-Look and pray for grace opportunities
Sometimes people will try to haggle and get something for nothing.  I know.  But sometimes someone would really benefit from something you have and they honestly don't have the money for it, something you have could really bless someone else.  Take that opportunity to show them the love of Christ and bless them.  Knowing that they may or may not be lying to you about what they can pay, if you feel led to help someone do it regardless of their integrity or lack thereof.  God knows your heart and blesses your intentions either way.  That's all that matters.  Also we always have a rule that after the sale is over, nothing goes back inside.  We load ours up and take it to womens shelter donation site, find places in your community that would benefit.
#6-Start a Going out of Business Sale 
About an hour before the yard sale is set to wrap up, begin a going out of business sale! You've most likely already made the biggest sales you're going to, so now whatever you can get on what is left is great!  Either take 50% off everything or even say make me an offer!!  Everything you get $1 for is more than you will at the end of the hour when you haul it all back inside.
#7-Sack it
The weeks leading up to the yard sale stash away your plastic grocery sacks and save them.  This will help out a lot when people buy multiple things or have small items, or even can wrap breakable items in the sacks.
#8-Signs sell
You may think that your signs don't matter that much, but they really do!  I tried to make really cute signs at the last yard sale we did, and I had more people tell me how cute they were and how they had to come check it out after they saw the signs.  
#9-Social Media
Facebook is a great free advertiser!  Let your local friends and fam knows you've got a sale going!  (Safety first--you can make this private to people you don't know and don't want blabbing your address too.  Or have people private message you for an address if they're interested)
#10-Plan your Spending
You may not make a ton of money, but you can make quite a bit!  Make a plan for how you're going to spend your money before you make it.  Something fun?  Or pay off a bill? Either way plan it before you earn it so you don't accidentally spend it.  It can go pretty quickly!