Monday, December 31, 2012

Favorites from 2012

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and has a happy new year! I cannot believe the year 2012 has just about come to an end. August 2012 I entered the blogging world, and I'm so glad I did!

This year I also finished up my classes for OT grad school, my husband started a new job, my daughter turned 3, and we moved into our first house (that we're renting).

Your Top Picks from 2012

When to Buy Cheap and When Not To: Here I write about mistakes that I have made and lessons I have learned when furnishing a home and decorating on a budget.

Budget Grocery Shopping: I break down my weekly grocery shopping list and budget.

Dinner Time Without Losing Your Sanity: These are the dinner and grocery guidelines I follow to handle meals as stress free as possible. 

My Top Picks from 2012

One of the Lucky Ones: I explore the busyness of life when you are in your 20's and 30's.

What's a Mama to Do?: Life got real the time my daughter told me she didn't want me to be gone at school during the day.

The Day I Found Joy: The difference between happiness and joy and how most of us aren't really looking for happiness.

My Favorite Recipes and Crafts from 2012

Guest Posts for 2012
Marrying Young: Grad School and Mommy Style for Messy Wife Blessed Life

Holiday Traditions for Life Happens When

I also started my Year of Faith Series with my first post Angels Among Us

Looking Forward to 2013

I am so very excited to share the new year with all of you. I have more recipes and crafts to share. We are decorating our new house and are on a serious budget. I'll share plenty of info on budget decorating in the coming year, as I am sure I'll have to get to creative to stay in our budget!

 I plan to continue my Year of Faith Series with posts about the works of mercy, the saints and adoration. I also want to invite you to consider guest posting for the Year of Faith series! If you are interested, please contact me at

There is so much planned for the year 2013! You can follow me via email on the left sidebar or through google reader on the right sidebar to make sure you don't miss any of it! 

Happy New Years!

Friday, December 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (13)

My husband, daughter and I exchanged presents this afternoon. I got my husband the game Anno 1503. He really likes board games (a lot) and has been wanting a new one for a while. When I say board games... I don't mean Monopoly. He enjoys intense, village building, goods transporting European games that last a minimum of 1 1/5 hours. The slightly dorky games (don't tell him I said that). Since meeting him, I have discovered that I enjoy them on occasion as well. On a whim I decided to get my daughter a doctor set. She enjoyed giving my shots and listening to my heart beat all afternoon!

We are finally starting to settle into our new house. We even decorated for Christmas. I love all the space and the lighting is so much better than our last apartment. Did I mention that I have my own washer and dryer?!?! It is like a miracle! In the past 2 weeks I have officially done laundry almost every day, and I am still enjoying every minute of it!

My heart breaks for the families who lost loved ones in the Newtown shooting. I keep praying and praying. You can send in snowflakes to Newtown Elementary to help decorate the school for the kids when they return after the holidays.

If you need to do any last minute baking for Christmas, you may want to check out my grandma's butter cookie recipe!

Somehow I managed to miss the second episode of Jennifer's Minor Revisions! I am so bummed. I missed the first one, but was able to watch it later on YouTube. I hope this one ends up on YouTube too.

Being home from school has been a dream over the past 2 weeks. Hanging out with my daughter all day, library time, actually getting chores done around the house, and crafts/decorating getting completed. It has been a wonderful and much needed break!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas! My posting may be a little less frequent over the next week because I will be having some family time!

Head over to Jen's blog for more quick takes!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God Was There

I have spent the good majority of the past week immersed in the news. My heart is broken for these 20 children and 6 adults that were killed. I didn't know what to say and I still don't. I know that all the deceased are now free from suffering in heaven...but I just cannot comprehend what happened.

I have spent countless hours asking God why this happened and where He was when this happened. Why did so many innocent people have to die? What happened in Adam Lanza's life that pushed him toward committing such an evil and heartless act?

 Then it occurred to me that God didn't abandon anyone. He was there. He mourned over Adam Lanza's decision. He begged him to change his mind. He mourned for the families that would lose their children that day. He held and comforted the children as they took their last breathes. He gave teachers and the principal courage to protect their students. He held students hands as they hid in terror in the bathrooms and closets of the school. He inspired the first responders to get as many people safety out of the building as possible. I know God was deeply saddened by the crimes committed, but He was there.

Now He is here with our country. We must turn towards prayer. We must invite Jesus into our homes. We must hug our children and them how much we love them. We must be Jesus to those around us. Love and compassion needs to shine through us all.

The love of Jesus will carry this country and the families and friends of the deceased in this time of mourning.

My prayers are with all those who lost their loved ones.

Butter Christmas Cookies

My daughter and I made these Christmas cookies for her to bring to her class on the last day of school. Since we were moving she wanted to share the cookies to say goodbye.

When we went shopping for supplies it went something like this:

Me: Do you want to make Christmas cookies for your friends or just all different kinds of cookies?

Daughter: I think Christmas cookies

Me: Okay, then lets get green and red sprinkles for your cookies.

Daughter: I want the star sprinkles. Lets just make all different shapes of cookies for my friends.

Me: Are you sure?

Daughter: Yes, I want to star sprinkles.

Upon arrival home......

Daughter: Lets make our cookies Christmas shapes!

So here are our Christmas cookies with birthday star sprinkles:

  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp talk 
  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix until a putty-like consistency is obtained. 
  • Refrigerate for a couple of hours
  • Roll dough out and cut out with cookie cutters
  • Bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees, until edges are brown. 
  • Cool, then frost if desired. 
I used this recipe for icing from All Recipes.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Homemade Christmas

A few days ago I questioned my little on what she wanted for Christmas. Her initial response made me melt. She said, "I just only want a picture of mama, dada and me for my room. I just already have lots of things, I don't need anymore things". 

Upon further reflection, she decided that she would indeed like some "oven puppets" (oven mitts), a real kitchen that works and is the right size for her, a balloon and a flower for Christmas. I think Santa can make 3/4 of those happen. Easy bake ovens just aren't made for 3 year olds I have decided. In addition to those gifts I'm planning to get her some new watercolor paints, coloring books and some underwear.

We got some Christmas/Advent decorating done thanks to my mom who supplied most of the decorations. We made the rest.

Our Advent wreath

Beautiful trees my mom brought over, and a gingerbread train station my daughter and I made from a kit my mom brought us.

Our snowman display

Our coffee table center piece

I strung some plastic ornaments on some twine for the windows (please excuse the poor picture quality- they really did turn out cute)

More plastic ornaments used

Our Christmas tree (please ignore the fact that it is badly leaning) We are limited in our ornaments so I made bows and hung cheap candy canes on the tree!
I also put up a Christmas count down santa, a wreath outside and a picture of an ornament I painted. The camera didn't make it to them... One day I'd love to also get a Nativity Scene, but I want a nice one and they are too expensive this year!

I'm linking up with NFP and Me.

How have you decorated? What are you planning to get others for Christmas?

Friday, December 14, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (12): The No Picture Edition

We moved! I have spent all week packing up boxes only to unload them again. We are renting a house for the first time and I am loving it. The house is almost 2x the size of our cramped apartment, so as of now we don't have enough furniture to fill the place. We have been on the hunt for some serious deals.
Unfortunately I have been unable to find the cord that hooks my camera up to the computer. I have been really wanting to participate in Beth Anne's Best's Advent Photo Contest, but my lack of cord has been preventing me.
I am inadequately prepared for Christmas this year! Major panic has set in. I have officially only purchased 1 present and we don't even have a Christmas tree yet. This has been especially difficult for me because I love Christmas Time.
My mom came to my rescue and brought over a bunch of left over decorations she had. We at least have some Christmas decorations around the house between all the boxes. The Advent Wreath has been up for the entire season though :)
Check out my post from this week about finding joy in life, instead of happiness. I also talk about where joy comes from- it is not the places we would always except!
I have personally spoken to good ol' St. Nick and he has arranged to come early this year. He is coming this Thursday! He told me that my daughter should be expecting a letter in the mail soon explaining why he will be making a special trip for us!
I have to get back to my boxes now. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Head back over to Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Day I Found Joy

We just moved into a new house over the weekend. The person who lived in the house prior to us subscribed to Good Housekeeping magazine. As I checked the mail for the first time, I was excited to find this delightful treat of a magazine- which I usually do not read.

The front cover caught my eye. One of the cover stories read: 7 Things ANYONE Can Do to Be Happy. As I flipped through the pages, I found the story. The quick read tells it's readers that to be happy one should:

  • Appreciate significant others
  • Be deliberately grateful for others
  • Take a spiritual break (gives the example: deep breathing)
  • Eat chocolate
  • Set a bedtime for electronics
  • Befriend themselves
  • Get fitter in 40 seconds
None of these ideas are bad ideas. Relationships, exercise, gratefulness, deep breathing, and loving ourselves can bring us happiness. But when I look deeper into the meaning of happiness, I discover that happiness is not exactly what I am looking for. Happiness does not last over time. It comes and goes. 

My years in junior high and high school were spent searching for happiness. I tried to eat right, exercise, and look nice. None of which are bad things at all, but they didn't bring me lasting happiness. 

Near the end of my high school career I volunteered at an overnight camp for children with cerebral palsy. I was assigned a specific camper to take care of throughout the week. She was a 10 years old girl, who was significantly developmentally delayed, had little speech, was unable to walk, and needed help showering, toileting and eating. The girl was amazingly delightful to be around. She always smiled and thanked me for everything I did. 

The second to the last day of camp was the 4th of July. I pushed my camper outside to a large field where we had planned to watch the fireworks.  Many of the other volunteers where helping their campers get out of their chairs to sit down on the grass. I decided to do the same. The sky was starting to get dark around us and it was a little difficult to see. 

A few moments after I had helped her down to the grass and propped her into a sitting position, she started to scream. I had no idea what happened. The poor girl was unable to verbalize the problem to me. Then I noticed hundreds of ants crawling on and around her. I had unknowingly sat her in a fire ant pile! 

Immediately I called for the counselor, who was the head of my cabin. We picked her up and carried her to the nearby shower. I hopped in the shower with all my clothes on. She sat, naked, in my lap as myself and the other counselor washed away all the ants. 

 As the water soaked all my clothes I couldn't help but feel horrible! I couldn't believe all the pain I had caused this girl, when I was supposed to be taking care of her. Then she stopped crying and smiled at me. She said, "tate you, just a stake". She didn't care that it was my fault, she only cared that I helped make her feel better. She trusted me and knew I had not intended to cause her any pain.

Then she gave me an enormous hug and pooped on me. Myself and the other counselor laughed so hard we cried. Then I thought to myself, "This is joy". 

I am not sure at what point sitting in a shower fully clothed, soaking wet with another person's poop on me became one of the most joyful moments in my life, but it did. 

That day I discovered where true joy comes from. It doesn't come from looking great or eating better. The joy in my life comes from living beyond myself. It comes from living for others, which in turn is living for God.

It is true joy that can sustain a person, even in the messiest of times. With joy, the quest for happiness diminishes. We can find joy in each and every person we help. 

Where do you find joy in your everyday life?  

Friday, December 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (11)

This week has been unbelievably busy for me. I took all my finals and officially had my very last class EVER on Thursday! I am so grateful for the experience and for all the people I met along the way. I am very much looking forward to my rotations coming up in January and no longer being in school.
Check out this tutorial I created to make your own clay angel ornament. It would make a great Christmas present or ornament for your own tree.
I did a guest post for Leanne about creating family traditions for the holidays. Head on over there to check it out. Leanne writes for Life Happens When and she is one of my favorite bloggers out there!
Moving day is scheduled for this Saturday. Right now I am up to my ears in boxes. I think if I never had to move again...I'd be okay.
We made some cookies for my daughter to bring to school to share with all of her friends on her last day of school. Stay tuned next week for the recipe.
We had our first real experience buying from a consignment shop last Saturday. We got a massive wooden dresser for my husband and I for $350, and a nice wooden dresser for my daughter for $150. The store had a huge Pottery Barn dresser for sale too. I wanted it pretty badly.. but at the steep price of $750, we had to pass. I know that a Pottery Barn dresser for that much is such a steal! It made it even more difficult to say no to it. I am very pleased with the dresser we did choose.
Here is an inspiring verse to take with you next week.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.- 1 John 5:14

Head on over to Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Clay Angel Ornament

When I was younger I loved sculpting things out of oven bake clay. I often made small animal figurines and beads. This year I decided to rekindle that old love of mine and make some ornaments for Christmas. I chose to make an angel because angels are so important to remember during Christmas, as well as everyday life.

Here is how I did it:

Sculpt about 1/2 a block of sand colored Sculptey clay into a head with a long flowing blob underneath it. (mine is about 6 inches in height) Then attach 2 long rectangles in the center of the back and have them meet in the center of the front of the body to make the arms.
Then free form the wings. Mine were about 3 1/2 inches in height.
Attach the wings to the back of the angel
Make a rectangle with rounded corners the same height and width of angel's body that extends below where the hands meet. Pinch the top of one end to make pleats.
Attach the skirt just underneath where the hands meet.
Make a small heart out of a piece of colored clay and attach it to the front where the arms meet. 

Make 4 long "snakes" out of brown (or whatever color you'd like) clay. Twirl them around a pen to make curls. Then attach them together at the top with 2 on each side.
Lastly I cut the top of a paper clip off with wire cutters and pushed it into the top of the angel's head to make a hook.
Then bake at 275 degrees F for about 30 minutes (or whatever the directions say). If you don't want your clay to show any finger prints in it, then I recommend lightly rolling over each piece with a rolling pin prior to attaching the pieces. I chose not to do this because I liked the handmade look.

These make perfect Christmas gifts or can be used in your own home on your tree.