Search results for:

label/Blog Parties


Learning To Dance

I have been quite reflective lately as I celebrate the end of the “big T’s” (chemo, mastectomy and radiation).  Looking back over the last 7 months of this fight, I simply cannot believe the goodness of God and how He has given me such sweet touches of Himself, letting me know He was holding me every step of the way. 

 This is a post, written last October in the middle of chemotherapy treatments, and it brings tears to my eyes to think of how my God and I have DANCED!
Sometimes, the dance was not all.
I struggled against His lead–still do–for I am still learning.
But the dances that I have learned and overcome? 
They are sweet, sweet memories of my Savior holding me close, as we danced.
I sat at Starbucks for a few hours yesterday and spent some time reading God’s Word.  I came upon the parable of the Sower in Matthew 13.  It inspired this…
I am a seed planted lovingly by the Gardener.
He is in Control.

He takes care of me.

The seeds He plants are special. 
Special because He gives them choice
He lets me choose whether or not I will allow Him to sustain me.
He knows what is best for me. 
He watches over me when the storms and winds come. 
He asks me to remain planted, and allow Him to do the work. 
He asks me to just submit and to keep my face upturned to Him,  
Face turned, I dance in worship to the One who gives beauty and life.
At times the gardener must strip me, and it is painful. 
I wonder if I’ll survive the deadheading, the pruning.
Petals fade, head hangs low. 
It takes great effort –choice— to turn upward.
The season is cold, I lie waiting, the loneliness overwhelms.
I know my Gardener is there.
I believe His promise,
He cares for me, though I am weak and small.
 I know this, yet do I really trust Him?
In this storm, within the fierce winds, I hear His whisper…
”Trust deeper, my beloved one. I am here”
“Do you believe me?”
I want to. 
I want to believe that He will breath life into mine and make me strong again. 
I believe that spring will come
 But there is the problem.
I want spring to look a certain way. 
I want spring to bring the familiar.
I want to be planted in the same place that I was before, amongst those whom I love.
My Gardner knows this, yet whispers
“Deeper still…let’s go deeper.  Let the roots take hold”
He gently picks up my head and tells me to look around. 
I do and I see something
It takes me by surprise; it is so off-putting –so ugly.

 I have replanted myself and have emerged into a place of shallow soil. 
Where can my roots go?
I am here, in the shallow, surrounded with weeds created by me.
As I laid in despair, weeds named “Fear” and “Control” sprung up and have choked.
They have stunted my growth.
They have taken my ability to re-seed and multiply the beauty of my Gardener.
When did this happen?
How quickly and easily they have come!
It started with one; he calls himself “Fear.” 
He has many friends
Their names:
These weeds have seen my thwarted plans and losses,
They have taken advantage of my vulnerability.
I didn’t keep my face lifted, and in they quickly crept
The “friend” most familiar right now is “Resentment.”
He pretends to keep me company and points out others
They are unhealthy, but not yet diseased, as I am.
The question comes as I look at them –“why me?”
What an ugly question to ask
That is the moment “Resentment” introduces me to “Self-Pity”
I hang my head in shame
Oh my Gardener, forgive me!
Forgive me for allowing these weeds, these hideous pretenders,
They replace the real Truth
They take my face from You!
You have promised plans for me. 
I want those perfect plans
I want to take root and say “Come what may”
Please pull these weeds out of my way.
Rescue me.
Show me how to get out
Plant me by a stream of living water.
Where I can drink the peace that you promise to give
A peace that is hard comprehend.
I have known such a sweet peace.
I have tasted it before
I long for it again.
You tell me to lift my head toward You and empty my worry
You tell me to ask you for help
You tell to practice thankfulness, and to keep dancing, even in the storm

This is what brings peace
You pick me up and replant me exactly where I belong,
You shine on me and give me life
I will forever lift my head and dance for you, My Gardener

Philippians 4:6,7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 58:11
“You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

**I’m happy to be linking up to these parties.

She Speaks Conference
She Speaks Conference is “about women connecting the hearts of women to the heart of our Father God.’  This describes my heart, so I have stepped out of my comfort zone 🙂 and applied for this SheSpeaks Scholorship.  We will see what God does with it, but going to this conference has been a desire of my heart for a couple years now, and I would get to meet HER!! So… I will wait with uncomfortable anticipation for the announcement of the winner!


No Bake, No Sugar Chocolate “Larabar” Truffles

You are gonna like these!  They are really good.  They are make from very healthy ingredients, and contain no sugar.  They taste very much like a Chocolate Coconut Larabar.  I have always been a fan of Larabars because they are made out of just a handful of healthful ingredients…
… the above bar contains-dates, almonds, walnuts, unsweetened cocoa and coconut. That is it!!

I knew these would be easy to replicate, so I was excited to see that the Nourishing Gourmet had already tried and succeeded!  I used her recipe and was really happy with how they turned out!

I packaged some of mine pretty to take to my Radiation Oncologist as a thank you on my last day of radiation.  He is a diabetic, and I knew he had been staying away from refined sugars.  He seemed pleased to have a treat that was sugar free, tasted them and approved!
You DO NOT have to be a date lover to like these.  I do not like dates!  In this recipe, they provide the sweetness and I could not tell there were in there. 2 of my 3 girls loved these and couldn’t get enough. My oldest is not a fan of coconut, so no luck with her.  The neighbor kids gave them 2 thumbs up and asked for more.
Here is the recipe, adapted from the Nourishing Gourmet:
 Chocolate “Larabar” TrufflesMakes about 20 truffles
    20 dates, pitted
    1 cup of coconut flakes, fine
    1/4 cup of coconut oil
    Heaping 3/4 cup of cashews, walnuts, pecans, or nut of choice
    2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    A few dashes of unrefined salt
1) In a food processor, combine the pitted dates, coconut flakes, and coconut oil. Process until the mixture is finely ground.
2) Add the nuts to food processor and process until the nuts are in very small pieces (some even completely ground)
3) In the warm pan, add the chocolate to melt. If you need a little more heat, put on the very lowest heat on the stove, just until melted to prevent burning. Scrape into the food processor and add the salt and vanilla. Process until well mixed.
4)  Roll into balls (refrigerate for 30 minutes if too sticky…mine were not) and place on a plate or in a container and then harden completely in the refrigerator. Keep cool until you serve and enjoy!

**I am pleased to link up to these parties!

Drinks/ HOME/ Natural Products/ Simplifying

Paper Towel Alternative

We have had a few spring like days here in Nebraska.  I love it!  It is making me think about spring cleaning!  I will be having radiation the next 6 weeks, so I will have to do mine in baby steps.  I am planning on working in a different “zone” of my home each week, 15 minutes a day.  Hopefully by the time I’m done with radiation my house will be de-cluttered and sparkling clean!!
I was inspired by this post at Clean Momma.  She is someone who knows sparkly clean!  I loved the idea of getting rid of paper products.  It kills me to spend money on paper towels, and we were going through them like crazy!  I do still keep one roll around for those nasty type spills, you know, like when you accidentally drop an egg?  Or when the raw chicken leaks onto the counter?  Yuck!
Both the jar and the cloths are from Target.  If I did it over again, I would get a more quality cloth, like these.  If you are an Amazon shopper, and want to buy the jar, here is a link.
 Clean Momma also got rid of paper napkins and cloths to wash her children’s faces.  She said she is saving at least $20.00 a month by not having to buy paper products!
Even though I am not a fan of bleach, I do occasionally bleach these white cloths.  I also started keeping the jar under my sink, as I wanted a bit more counter space.  If I had more room, I would for sure keep it on the counter, it is handy and I think the jar actually looks pretty!
Are you getting the itch to spring clean?
**I’m happy to be linking to these parties.
Tip Junkie handmade projects


HOME/ Homemaking/ Organizing/ Simplifying

Kids After-School, Afternoon Routine

 Some of my most popular post are the ones I wrote on my kids Back To School Morning Routines and Evening Routines, so I thought I would share with you our After School, Afternoon Routine.

Routines and charts really do keep this family running smoothly, but lately I was noticing some bumps within the smooth.

For example:
~The girls water bottles were not filled, in the refrigerator, to easily grab when packing lunches
~Piano was not getting practiced on a daily basis
~Lunch bags were not hung up where they should be
~School papers were not getting signed
~a healthy snack turned into “mom, can I have some Halloween candy”

I started getting frustrated, then realized…I had let AFTERNOON ROUTINE slide!!  Duh.

 I think my energy level in the afternoon had much to do with it, especially on chemo weeks.  I was often laying down when they walked in from school.  We didn’t have it laminated like the other Routine charts, so somehow it made it less official, so they would still earn their “rocks” because the chart was not up or ready to be checked off.
Now that we are getting back on track, there will be no tv, computer, video games or play until Afternoon Routine is done!

I also noticed our “3 chores a day” was not happening, either, which is part of the Afternoon Routine, which meant:
~the shoe basket would overflow
~the stair basket would overflow
~laundry was not getting put away by anyone but me
~I was starting to get frustrated and naggy!

It really amazes me how much our routines keep us on track and makes our family life so much easier!

 ~I am no longer a mom who follows the kids around picking up after them or naggin them to pick up after themselves, thanks to “pick up personals” on their Morning and Evening Routines.
~our home really keeps itself picked up, and looks company ready most of the time, because of “pick up personals” and the small things I do to keep it picked up.
~it is never more than “15 minutes of picking up” messy
~I know my girls get their vitamins every morning
~The girls are usually completely ready for school when I come downstairs in the morning.  The only thing left for me is help with their hair and pack their lunches.

Afternoon Routine
~Shoes In Basket
~Backpack Emptied, Papers For Mom On Table
~Backpack Hung Up
~Lunch Bag Emptied
~Lunch Bag Hung Up
~Water Bottle Filled & Put In Refrigerator
~Snack Cleaned Up
~3 Chores A Day
~Practice Piano

Shoes In Basketwe have a basket in our sunroom where they put their shoes when they take them off before coming into the house

Backpack Emptied, Papers On Tablethis keeps me from missing out on work they have accomplished and also work that they need signed, teachers notes, etc.

Backpack Hung Upthey all 3 have designated areas where they keep their backpack hung up

Lunch Bag Emptiedit is a pet peeve of mine when packing lunches in the morning, to open one up and find a nasty banana peel or baggies of sandwich crust, yuck!

Lunch Bag Hung Upanother pet peeve of mine is when packing lunches, their lunch bags are not hanging on the hook in the pantry where they belong

Water Bottle Filled & Put In Refrigeratorthis keeps us from using 10 billion cups.  It also keeps me from having to respond to “mom, I’m thirsty.”  The best perk of this one is my kids are water drinkers.  They do not get juice often, and really do not want it, because their water is always cold and ready for them to grab.

Snacksometimes I have their snack waiting for them at the table when they come home.  If not, we have a snack bin in the pantry, they know they have to eat a healthy snack before they can ask for any type of sugar snack

Snack Cleaned Uppaper towel in trash, crumbs wiped up, chair pushed in.  I did not like finding crumbs and snack mess when I would go to set the table for dinner, so on the chart this went.

3 Chores A DayI am in the process of making a Master Chore List to draw from when writing their 3 chores on the white board each day.  Usually this is easy, I know what needs done that day, and I just write it on the board before they come home from school.  I find when I skip a day or two because the house is in good shape, that they get out of the habit and then complain when they have to do chores again.  Because of this, I will have chores everyday, even if I have to refer to my Master Chore List to come up with them!!

Practice Pianough, this one MUST go on a routine list.  I hate it when Saturday piano lessons comes and I know they have not practiced as often as they should!

Homeworkthis one is tough.  I don’t like making them do it right when they get home, but I also dislike it when we have activities in the evening homework is not done, and all the sudden it is bedtime!  I like doing it right after dinner, but that does not work on busy evenings.  My oldest LOVES doing her homework right before bed.  I really don’t have this one figured out, and I’m not sure if it should go on Afternoon Routine or Evening Routine.  What do you do with homework?  I’d love to know what works for everyone else!!

***I use this site to make our charts.  I choose the “no image” option to keep things clean and simple.
***I am happy to be linking up to these parties.


Cupcake Decorating Birthday Party

My daughter turned 11 years old on August 27th, and we had a super fun cupcake decorating party for her.  She invited a handful of friends, and we celebrated out at Grandpa and Grandma’s pool house.  It was a really easy party to prepare for, and she loved how it turned out.  We kept the decorations homemade and cheap, and the food super simple and easy.

She knew she wanted lots of candy to decorate the cupcakes with, so we decided to go with bright colors and let the candy become part of the decor by using little mason jars to display the candy toppings.

We went to Hobby Lobby and started in the paper aisle.  I knew paper was a cheap way to bring lots of color and fun to the party.  My daughter picked out the polka dot paper.  We used it to make popcorn cones (using this template), wrap water bottles, and make little round decorations.  I grabbed a few pieces of coordinating paper, and a small package of round mirrors that were under $2, that I knew would add sparkle.  We had the wrapping paper that you see down the  middle of the table leftover from Christmas, it just happened to have little circles on it in the same fun, bright colors.

  We made custom water bottles by gluing little paper jackets on them and topping them with a mirror.

We wrapped boxes in the wrapping paper to hold the popcorn cones and suckers.

I put tissue in the boxes before wrapping to keep suckers from sinking down too far.

3 tissue poms and mirrored, circle paper decorations made the bar festive.

We made little flag toothpicks out of the paper scraps.  The Baked Macaroni And Cheese Cupcakes were a hit with kids and adults.  Yum!  I used this recipe from Giada.  The rest of the menu was simple.  We ordered pizza and I made fruit kabobs.  Easy, easy, easy!

We had lots of fun stuff on hand to decorate cupcakes, as you can see, this birthday was full of sugar and all kinds of artificial colors!  I tried to ignore that the whole day…:)

The kids had a blast decorating their cupcakes.  They just piled on the toppings!  Love it.

We burned off the sugar by playing a few fun pool games.  It was a beautiful day, and it was such fun planning this party with my girl and celebrating her!  She has brought so much joy to me in her eleven years of life, I love being her mom!

{I’m Happy To Be Linking To These Parties!}

FUN/DIY/ Seasonal

Mason Jars-Glowing Monster Jars

**Thought I would re-post this now that it is getting close to Halloween!  This is actually one of my most popular posts on the blog, it does really well with search engines for some reason.  Let me know if you end up making these little monsters with your little monsters!

In this previous post, I told you about my love affair with mason jars.  Well, I’m still having the affair, and I said I would post about all the great things a mason jar can do, so here we go!
Here is a super cute idea for a Halloween craft using mason jars.  I have not made them yet, but I know the minute my daughters see them they will beg me to make them.  I found them here at Not So Idle Hands and they make me love my jars even more!
Crafts…I wouldn’t say I am a person who likes making crafts.  I think it is my impatience.  I like the idea of the craft, but I just want it to be done and do not really enjoy the process.  Still, I buckle down occasionally and just do it, mostly because I have 3 very crafty girls so it is a way to spend time with them, and I have found that being crafty is a frugal way to decorate my home, so that is also motivating.
These little light up monster jars get me a bit excited because I love anything that creates atmosphere, and I know these will. Maybe I can just start simple and make three of them representing my own three lovely, little monsters.  I think these would be fun in my sunroom at night, creating a spooky fun glow!
*update:  We made them today!  I used tissue paper that we had on hand which happened to be a goldish, coppery color.  They were really fun, my girls got really into it.  They look cute lit up with a tealight!
I’m happy to be linking to these parties

Frugal/ FUN/DIY/ HOME/ Seasonal

Homemade Wrapping Paper

We have been saving our paper grocery bags for awhile now (I  talked about it here)  I didn’t want to spend any money on wrapping, so we decided to make our own out of grocery sacks.  It was a bunch of fun, and kept my girls busy for days.  I told them they had to use silver, black and red.  We talked about how most wrapping paper has patterns, and how larger images would get cut off or folded, so we would want to stick with smaller patterns unless it was for a larger gift.  I also told them to think circles, just because i LOVE circles and we have a lot of round things on our tree.  I was very proud of what they came up with!
This is the first one my 10 yr old made.  I love it.  I wanted to frame it!
My 8 yr old made this one.

Simple stamps

my 8 yr old made…another favorite of mine

I made this one!  I was inspired by my own daughter:)

Made by my 6 yr old

Aww…made by my 6 yr old
supplies we used: red crayon, red marker, black marker,
stamps and silver ink, silver puffy paint
We started on this project before Thanksgiving, so the rest of my Christmas stuff was still packed away.  Little did I know that I had bought wrapping paper at an end-of-season sale last year, and when we started bringing the Christmas decor out of the attic I was pleasantly surprised! I forgot I had purchased it. The mixture of both under the tree is nice.  My girls were so excited to see their work used to make pretty gifts and I am excited because I think grandparents will love getting a package wrapped in original art!

I wrote about handmade package toppers, but honestly, I needed to keep it simple! I didn’t make any I posted about, but everything I did use we had on hand so I didn’t have to spend money.  I’m getting crafted out, and I am ready to just sit, read and snuggle with them.  They love projects, but sometimes for me, its too much of a good thing!  This was a super easy project, but added to others we have done lately– I am project’d out!!

**I’m happy to be linking up to these link parties:
BCD Show and tell