Monday, April 21, 2014

Mother's Day Cards & Blessing Packs

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Hi friends!

Did you have a nice Easter? We couldn't have asked for a better day! We had an amazing worship service, had lunch with all of our local family, and spent the day playing outside! It was perfect.


It's crazy to think about, but we're already rapidly approaching the next holiday, and it's a good one. Mother's Day!

I'm lucky enough to have 3 mother's to celebrate on Mother's Day. One mom, one mother-in-law, and one stepmother-in-law. If you've seen my goals lately, you know that we're trying really hard to pay off our consumer debt this year. I love to give gifts, but we have a pretty tight budget for a while. As much as I would love to shower the mother's in my life with jewelry and flowers, it's just not in the cards this year.
Now cards, however...those I can do! (see what I did there? Ha!)


I am a firm believer in the idea that a small, thoughtful gift can be just as meaningful, if not more so, than a huge, fancy gift. Something with a sweet note, and a treat you know they will love. Hallmark to the rescue! At Walmart they have so many beautiful Mother's Day cards

There is something for every mom. Sweet ones, sparkly ones, ones that will make her laugh, and ones that might make her cry.


 Once I had picked out cards for everyone, I headed over to the candy aisle. I was on a mission to find the perfect little treat for each of my mothers.

Cadbury for my Mother-in-law who grew up in England.

Classic milk chocolate for my Stepmother-in-law. She's a classic!

And dark chocolate with sea salt for my Momma. It's her favorite!

I get to deliver my mom's gift in person, but my mother-in-law and stepmother-in-law live out of town. They'll have to get their gifts by mail. One more simple way to dress up this gift? Washi tape!

Add a little to the card envelope...

Then add some to a padded shipping envelope. Who doesn't love getting pretty mail?

Seal it all up and pop it in the mail! Simple blessings for the mothers in your life!

Want even more great ideas and goodies? Make sure you check out connectionsfromhallmark.com to sign up for Hallmark Rewards, and to see great content from other bloggers. Join in the #MothersDayCard conversation on Twitter with #collectivebias!  For every 5 Hallmark cards you buy you'll earn a reward. Sweet deal!

What are your favorite simple gifts?
Any plans for Mother's Day?

Be blessed!
Heather


Friday, April 11, 2014

Lord, I Need You

I've never believed that God does things like this to us. It's just not how He works. I will probably never understand why He allowed them to happen, but I don't blame Him for it.
I can't.
If I did, I wouldn't be able to cling to Him as desperately as I have been these past 4 months.

{Read more at Fancy Little Things}

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

#onelittleword 2014: April Goals

Hi friends!

It's that time again...goal recap! Are you still working on your #onelittlewords? How are they going?



It might not look like it, but I feel pretty good about this month! 

Here's what I was working on:

Home:
- 2 loads of laundry washed, dried and folded 5 days a week. Well, it's not quite this specific, but I do feel like I'm at least keeping up with the laundry most of the time, so I'll call it a win!

Personal:
- In the Word every day. I'm getting better. I'll just leave it at that.
- 8 cups of water daily. Again...better! I have discovered that if I keep a tumbler with a straw full and close by this is easy. If I depend on myself to fill up glasses of water throughout the day, I won't do it.
- 2 workouts per week. Yes! Well, at least for the past week, but it's a good trend. I just discovered Blogilates, and I'm in love! Combine that with the YouTube app on our PS3 and I'm good to go!

Blog:
Keep reading How To Blog... I'm almost done and it is rocking my world! Now to start putting things into action.
- Finish new design! :) It's DONE! Have you seen it? If you read this in a reader you probably haven't. Click on over and check it out!

Finances: 
- Write a snowball plan for remaining consumer debt Done! I'm not going to post it, but if all goes as plan we will be consumer/medical debt free by the end of the year! Woot!

OK, not on to this month

Home:
- Clear out the last of the moving messes. Even though we have found a place for most things, there are still a few spots that have homeless things just sitting around. Time to either find them a home or get rid of them!

Personal:
- In the Word every day. 
- 8 cups of water daily. 
- 2 workouts per week. 
These three are pretty much non-negotiable, and not totally mastered, so they're staying put!
- Fresh produce at every meal. Dinner is good with this one, but I want to be better about getting fresh fruit or vegetables at breakfast and lunch. It's so easy to just grab a bagel or some leftovers, but is it really that hard to grab a banana or some carrots too?

Blog:
- Two posts a week: I've been trying to get back into a regular posting schedule after pregnancy and the holidays kicked my butt. I'm feeling good about post a week, so time to move on to two! Any requests?
- Set up Google+: Facebook is being lame. I have a google+ account for this page, but I've barely used it. Time to get it going! Are you on Google+?

Finances:
- Set up bank budget tool: Our bank has an online budget tool, but I haven't set it up. If I'm going to keep up with that snowball plan, I need to get that done!

So that's the plan for this month! What's your plan?

If you do, what are your favorite way to spend quite time in the Word?
Do you get your water every day? Tips and tricks?

Be blessed!

Heather

Thursday, April 3, 2014

5 Fun Ways to Feed the Birds

Hi friends!

I am in LOVE with this print from The Wheatfield! I want it for my mantle!

It's finally bird chirping weather! Well, it's starting to be at least. Here in Chicagoland winter just will. not. let. GO! But, the birds are back, so that means that spring can't be far behind. I've rounded up 5 of my favorite bird feeder crafts for you. There's also a great list of ways to watch and observe the birds you attract!
Check 'em out!


1. Molded Bird Feeders from Eighteen25
2. Plastic Lid Bird Feeders from Frogs, Snails, & Puppy Dog Tails
3. Bread Bird Feeders from Teaching Mama
4. Fruit & Grain Bird Feeders from Happy Hooligans
5. Pine Cone Bird Feeders from Fancy Little Things

Tips:

  • Can't use peanut butter? Use your favorite nut butter! (also, 1, 3, and 5 on this list are PB Free!)
  • Hang your feeder near a window so you can watch as the birds come by
  • Use a great bird watching printable like this one from Lara's Place. She also has a great list of bird watching materials.

Is it bird chirping weather where you are?
What is your favorite way to feed the birds?

Be blessed!
Heather

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Gratitude Jar

...gratitude...
It's hard. It doesn't always come naturally, and sometimes it can be hard to find things to be grateful for. Our daughter is 4, and we're still doing more prompting than we would like to get those "Thank You"s. I want gratitude to be all over our day. It's a discipline, and it is a habit worth working on. We've started working on it pretty hard at our house, and part of that is our gratitude jar.

{Read more at Fancy Little Things}

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Favorite First Foods

Hi friends!

I can't believe it, but Owen is already starting to eat solids! 



I'm a big fan of homemade baby food for two reasons:
     - I know exactly what is going into it
     - it saves a ton of money

I remember reading somewhere once that no baby food company has been found to be completely honest about what goes into their food. Whether that is completely true or not, I would much rather know exactly what my little one is eating. That gets much harder to do as they get older, so I'm going to do it while I can!
Also, have you seen the price of baby food lately? Holy COW! No way. 

So here they are, my favorite first foods!
     

Applesauce
Vitamins: A, C, Folate 
Minerals: Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium 
Prep time: Zero! I usually grab a jar at the store. Just make sure it doesn't have added sugar. It is sweet enough on its own. Making applesauce is super easy, too. This one is super chunky and not great for first eaters, but I peeled and sliced some apples last weekend, threw them in the crock pot and cooked them until they were mushy. Perfect applesauce!

Bananas
Vitamins:  A, C, Folate  
Minerals: Potassium, Phosphorus, Selenium, Magnesium, Calcium

Prep time: Zero! Mash and serve. Bananas are also great because you can get them pretty much anywhere. Even gas stations have them, so if you find yourself out and about without baby food (or you left it on the counter which, of course, I have never done) you won't have to look far.




Avocados
Vitamins:  A, C, Niacin, Folate  
Minerals: Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium
Prep time: Zero! Just like bananas, mash and serve!

Sweet Potatoes
Vitamins: A (tons of it! ), C, Folate 
Minerals: Potassium, Sodium, Selenium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Calcium
Prep time: 30-45 minutes. I prefer roasting sweet potatoes in the oven. The get super sweet and delicious, and they keep a great texture. You can also boil them or, in a pinch, microwave them. Then just mash and serve!

My Favorite Tips
     - Make large batches and freeze them in ice cube trays. Easy single servings, ready to grab and go!
     - Mix in breast milk, formula or water to thin out foods for early eaters.
     - If your child doesn't like something, keep trying! It can take over 10 tries to enjoy a new food

     - Try new foods one at a time, with a few days in between. That way if your child does have a reaction,           you will know which food caused it.
     - When in doubt, mix it with sweet potatoes! Little one not a fan of peas? Mix them with sweet potatoes.         Spitting out spinach? Mix them with sweet potatoes. Seriously. They're made of magic.




Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional or dietitian. Just a mom who has done this before. Most pediatricians recommend starting solids between 4 and 6 months of age. There is all sorts of research that debates starting solids and development of food allergies, but this is the recommended window. There are also some developmental things that need to happen for babies to even be able to attempt eating solids, and most of those have happened by this age as well. In all honesty, we started a little bit early, but Owen was showing every sign of being ready, so we gave it a shot. He had been extra hungry, and was SO interested in our eating. We figured if he didn't take to it we would wait a while and try again later. He took to it like he had been eating off of a spoon since he was born! We also don't have a family history of food allergies, and have stuck with low-allergen foods. When in doubt, talk to your doctor.

Have you ever made your own baby food? 
What are your favorites?

Be blessed,
Heather

Friday, March 21, 2014

Caprese All The Things

This post brought to you by Gro-ables. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hi friends!

We just moved into a new condo. While we love it, we lost  our back yard. Bummer. This is our new deck:


It's actually a great size and holds our grill, but it's not really big enough to put a table on to enjoy that way. You know what it is big enough for, though? A container garden! I can't wait for the weather to warm up so that we can get going. I have always dreamt of being able to go out into my back yard and grab fresh veggies. My mom has always had a garden in her back yard and I have great memories of fresh summer meals.
Now here's the thing. I'm TERRIBLE at gardens. I love the idea, and I really really want one. I'm just awful at actually making them an actual thing. So I need all the help I can get. Enter new MiracleGro Gro-ables. These babies are simple pods that contain everything you need to start a successful plant. As long as I use them correctly (and let's be real...that's a big if!) they are guaranteed to grow, and $1.29-$1.49 a pod, you can't beat the price. I love knowing where my food has come from, and Gro-ables help me take the guess work out of that.

I have the pods for Globe Tomatoes, Basil and Sweet Peppers. Three of  my favorites! I can't wait for summer veggies.
Sweet Pepper photo 12_MG_Pepper_5506_1209002_V01_zps84f2f428.jpg

Is there anything better in the summer than a fresh Caprese salad? Especially when it comes right from your own garden? So simple. It doesn't get any easier than tomatoes, fresh mozzarella (always fresh!), basil and a little balsamic. Yum! I can't wait for these little pods to grow so that I can make my own!
In my excitement over the Caprese goodness in my future I found all sorts of great variations on the classic. Here are 10 of my favorites!

 1. Caprese Pasta Salad from Simply Scratch: A great side dish for those summer time barbeques!
2. Caprese Salad Bites from Elizabeth's Edible Experience: I've made little bite-size skewers like this for parties before. They're extra good when you use marinated mozzarella!
3. Panzanella Caprese Salad from Drizzle and Dip: Caprese salad and crusty bread all in one bite? Yes, please!
4. Fried Caprese Salad from Bell'Alimento: Crispy and salty, but still with Caprese's classic freshness.
5. Broiled Caprese Salad from Pass The Sushi: Gooey, cheesy goodness!
6. Avocado Chicken Caprese Salad from Iowa Girl Eats: This turns the simple salad into a full-on meal!
7. Bacon Caprese Salad from Real Mom Kitchen: Because everything is better with bacon.
8. Hasselback Caprese Salad from Fuss Free Cooking: These would be so pretty for an outdoor dinner!
9. Peach Caprese Salad from Iowa Girl Eats: I don't know what it is about Iowa, but this girl knows her Caprese salad! This one is definitely on my summer to-do list!
10. Strawberry Caprese Salad from Kids In The Sink: If you haven't had strawberries and basil together, you are missing out!

Want to learn even more about Gro-ables? Take a look!



I'll keep you updated on how (if?) my garden grows!
Do you have a garden?
Have you ever done a container garden? Any special tips?
Be blessed!
Heather
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