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Monday, May 30, 2016

How I Created a Little Spot for Conversation in My Home #Folgers #ad

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Folgers for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
I've always functioned on the mentality that a comfortable home can be made with a little organization and a whole lot of pretty. Recently I made over a corner of our home to give my husband and I a place to sit and visit away from the TV and video games. It's a great place to chat and have tea or a cup of Folgers Instant Coffee.

Jamie is a coffee aficionado and loves to try new roasts and flavors. Still, there are times when he craves a good cup of black. Folgers is a great alternative that can be made in an instant.

I've always wanted my home to be a great place to offer hospitality to guests. However, a few years ago, I started really thinking about making my home a peaceful place for offering hospitality to my family---the ones who actually live here!

It's neat the way this little corner came to be. I told a friend I was looking to replace my couch and a week or so later, she messaged me to let me know her neighbor was upgrading her living room furniture and had a couch for me. She offered to deliver it, since she has a truck, and when she went to pick it up, the friend offered this recliner and rocker, as well! With just a little rearranging, I was able to make a spot in our school room that's just perfect for reading, writing, or having a quiet talk.

Oftentimes, Jamie and I have just a few minutes to sit and chat before it's time to serve dinner or take the kids to an activity, so I like to keep our corner of the house free from the kids' toys and books. That way, we can spend our short time in conversation and catch up on one another's days. Before he gets home from work, I have the kids clean up any messes Daddy might encounter on his path from the front door.

With a comfortable place to relax, Jamie can enjoy his instant coffee---and his family---before we all jump back into the busyness of big family life!

Do you have a comfortable spot in your home for a quiet chat? I encourage you to get creative and see if you can carve out your own peaceful corner. Also, check out these Folgers recipes for some inspiring ways to dress up your coffee.



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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Southwestern Hummus Tortilla Wraps and Saying Goodbye to a Dear Friend #HummusMadeEasy #ad

This post was sponsored by The Women Bloggers. All opinions are honest and are my own.
Earlier this month, my friend Letitia and I hosted a going away party for our dear friend Connie. Her family is settling down about three hours away and we are all really going to miss her! We said goodbye with a Mexican fiesta---Connie's favorite kind of food. I made some yummy wraps with Bush's Southwestern flavored Hummus Made Easy and they were a hit!

It was such a blast to get some of my favorite foodie friends together and sample everyone's potluck dishes. I love trying new things at moms' get-togethers because I can try a little bit of something without spending extra money on ingredients I'm not sure my whole family will eat. It's a get way to get new recipe ideas.

Letitia and I had been planning this party for a couple weeks, but when the week finally arrived, I found myself swamped with lots of end-of-the-school-year obligations. I wanted to bring something delicious and a little out of the ordinary to the potluck, but I was worried I wouldn't have a lot of time to prepare it.  

These Hummus Made Easy packets really are a life saver! Just blend the contents of the packet with one can of Bush's beans for a super fast and simply-made bowl of hummus. All the seasonings, oils, and other ingredients that you love in hummus are already combined in the pouch.

After I prepared the hummus, it was just a matter of spreading it round these flour tortillas and rolling them up to cut into pinwheels. It took all of 10 minutes to make a whole plate of hummus wraps.

This simple recipe is great for last minute guests---or last minute parties. With no preservatives, I feel I'm giving my guests a good quality snack that I can make fancy by adding extra mix-ins, or leave simple as I've done here.

Along with our Mexican flavored meal, we had a little gift-giving time for Connie and everyone signed a page in this journal, telling her how much we love her and her family.

Our party was a success and we sent our friend off with a happy goodbye. Best wishes to you, dear Connie! You are loved in Northwest Arkansas!

Look for Hummus Made Easy at Walmart near the canned beans. Let me know what you make with it. I'd love to hear your great recipe ideas!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

5 Things to Do With Leftover Baby Cereal & A Giveaway! #CookingWithGerber #ad

This post was sponsored by The Women Bloggers. All opinions are honest and are my own.

In the earlier days of parenting, our family utilized the county WIC program, receiving milk, eggs, formula, and more to help offset grocery costs. The program was very generous to young families and we always received a lot more baby cereal than our babies would eat. In my limited young adult knowledge, it didn't occur to me that the cereal could be used in other ways. If you're looking for ideas to use up leftover baby cereal, try some of these:


Before I tell you about these easy-to-make wraps, let me just say how much I love the plastic resealable containers from Gerber. They're way less messy than the former cardboard containers and they help keep the food safer and fresher, as well.

This wrap recipe is such a great idea, if I do say so myself. You can make one in less than two minutes, they cost pennies to make, and they're so great if you're focusing on a high protein, low carb way of eating. Just whisk one egg white, then add 2 tsp. Gerber baby cereal, and a pinch of salt, garlic or onion powder, rosemary, basil--whatever seasonings you'd like to add. Let it sit for about a minute, then pour the mixture onto a hot and greased griddle or frying pan. Spread the mixture out as thin as possible, and flip when the first side is cooked. These don't take long at all so don't leave them! Then flip it out onto a plate and fill it with whatever sounds good. You can do quesadillas for the kids, salad wraps for you---they're a savory and less expensive alternative to store bought wraps.

Tip: use Gerber Rice Cereal for a gluten-free option.


In the same style, why not try a breakfast crepe? This one features Gerber Lil' Bits Banana Strawberry flavored oatmeal, filled with Gerber Strawberry Banana Yogurt Blends and some fresh strawberries. Since Gerber is focused on healthy, high-quality ingredients, it makes me feel good to use these as creative breakfast starters. For the crepe, whisk two egg whites, then add one heaping tablespoon of cereal and your preferred sweetener, if desired. I just added a little white sugar, but you could put in honey, stevia, or nothing. Whatever makes you happy. Again, grease your pan or griddle and spread the mixture out as thin as you can. Flip it when the first side is done, then cool a few minutes on a plate before filling with yogurt, jam, and/or fruit.

Tip: Gerber cereals are iron-fortified so they're a good choice for healthy growth and development for all members of the family.

You've probably used oats as a binder or thickener for your meatloaf, meatballs, and stews---but have you considered using oatmeal baby cereal? Give it a try in my easy meatloaf recipe and let me know what you think.

So we've established that baby cereal is a great substitute in all kinds of recipes. But it goes further than that. How about using Gerber Oatmeal Cereal as an exfoliating face scrub? Just mix it with a nourishing oil like coconut or almond oil and add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil like lavender, citrus, or even peppermint for a refreshing scrub. {Note: it only looks like I'm sticking this in my eye...}

Another use for the oatmeal cereal that never occurred to me until this past week is its effectiveness as a compress or in a bath to treat skin problems. Our Kynthia broke out in a horrible rash earlier this week. I was thinking everything from allergies to measles and she was clawing at her skin so bad that I finally took her in to the clinic to see what was up. Turns out, it was just a bad case of hives at the onset of a cold, and some allergy medicine cleared it right up. Still, an oatmeal compress or warm oatmeal bath would have helped soothe the irritation.

To make an oatmeal compress, mix one cup cereal and one tablespoon cornstarch. Mix in water, a little at a time, until it makes a paste. Apply to irritated skin and leave on for about half and hour before rinsing it off.

Well, there you have it. Five things to do with that extra baby cereal in your cupboard. Don't have any extra baby cereal? Well, head to Walmart and grab some! Gerber offers single-grain and multigrain varieties, along with Lil Bits and Hearty Bits containing fruit. Walmart also offers a good selection of Gerber baby fruits, vegetables, blends, and yogurt. You can also check out the website for some great #CookingwithGerber recipes and more ideas for using baby cereal in creative ways.

The Women Bloggers is giving away a $50 prepaid gift card to one of my readers! Check out the Rafflecopter below to enter to win.


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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Homemaking Party

Gorgeous flowers in Ashton Gardens, Utah. We visited Lehi with my brother's family in April. Who can tell me what kind of flower this is?

Don't forget the Summer Spoolie Swap starts soon! Sign up info can be found here.

Thanks for stopping by The Homemaking Party! Hope you're having a beautiful week!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Highlights From the Homeschool Prom Night

Friday night was one of our teens' favorite nights of the year---the local homeschool prom! Lynzie and Michael had been planning their outfits for months and couldn't wait for the big night!

Michael wanted a white suit and I found this on eBay for less than $50. A tux rental store had gone out of business and was selling off their stock! He found the hat at Walmart and already had the blue tie to match his date's dress. Perfect!

Lynzie dreamed of a Cinderella dress just like the one in the new live action film. I drew this out on paper and prayed I could make it a reality.

The back has 20 eyelets and a ribbon lace up and the skirts are four layers: white sparkly tulle, blue sparkly tulle, blue satin, and metallic blue/lavender organza.

Lynzie added the butterflies to complete the look. So pretty!

Michael took his friend, Serenity. She looked gorgeous in her blue ombre gown!

 A delicious dinner was served before time for the dancing to begin. While they ate, I went to dinner at a restaurant with a couple mom friends. It was a great, memorable night!

Thanks for stopping by the Homemaking Party. I'm excited to see what you've got to share!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Teaching Our Daughters to Thrive

Friday night was our local homeschool spring formal and my two oldest teens had been planning the night for months. Sixteen year old Lynzie wanted a Cinderella dress---complete with multi-colored butterflies---so I put aside everything and made it for her the day before the dance.

We arrived to a gorgeously decorated ballroom and a lovely dinner laid for the guests. It was their time to enjoy so I hung back with a couple friends and chatted the evening away. Sometimes, while my mom friends were off visiting with other moms, I had time to just watch the kids dancing, playing, laughing, and enjoying their special evening. ...and I did a lot of thinking. {A seven-hour prom gives one lots of time to think}.

Lynzie is about a year and a half away from a state of full independence. She's already expressed her desire to stay home with us until she's out of her teen years. She doesn't yet know that love changes everything and, if she's anything like her mama, she could be married and expecting her first baby by 20!

I stood there watching her brilliantly smiling and moving gracefully around the room and all I could think was---live. I want her to live. I want her to thrive. To reach into the great big pot of life before her with both hands and scoop up every bit of wonder and throw it up into the air and let it come showering down over her. Then I want her to raise her hands and spin and delightfully dance in every ounce of it.

I want to teach her how to conquer fear.

I want to teach her to find fulfillment in blessing others.

I want to teach her to look for diamonds in the rough.

I know I'm not the first mom-of-a-teen to panic at the thought of running out of time. I don't know why we tend to think 18 is the magic number at which the clock strikes midnight on our influence in the lives of our children.

God, please help me to remember that the best way to teach my daughter to thrive is by living the example of an abundant life myself.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

How to Dry Flowers Using Cat Litter


We sure do love our cats---even if they do cause lots of cat-astrophes around our house! It's always been important to me to teach my children to be gentle with animals. Thanks to some help from Sam's Club, our family was able to donate $100 to the Bella Vista Animal Shelter so animals in our area can receive care while they're waiting for homes.

Don't let these two innocents fool you. They may look lean and lazy---but get them indoors and they're terrors! Even though I love cats, I've not had much luck with having them live solely indoors. Three times since I married Jamie 18 years ago, he's attempted to gift me with an indoor kitty; and all three times, the cat has eventually ended up being a mostly outside cat. Maybe I'm feline intolerant or maybe I just get blessed with hyperactive cats but I have very little patience for the curtain-climbing, furniture-clawing, and book-gnawing that goes on with some inside cats. I do much better when I can share a sunny spot with them on the porch---away from my cat-attractive collection of antique books.

A good quality cat litter is important in keeping the litter box area of your home smelling fresh, but did you know cat litter can be useful in lots of other ways that really have nothing to do with your cat? Here are just a few ways you can use cat litter outside the litter box:
  • Place an old book in a container of cat litter and store it for a few days to remove musty smells.
  • Mix cat litter with potting soil for more even water distribution around your plants.
  • Sprinkle litter in the bottom of trash cans to deodorize them.
  • Use litter instead of rice, beans, or sand when filling crafts or bean bags.
  • Deodorize your refrigerator with a bowl of litter on a shelf.
Did you know you can also use it to dry flowers? I love to use dried flowers and other plants in crafts and drying them with cat litter is simple and can be done quickly. Here's how I make a dried flower bookmark using an easy drying technique:
Begin with a flower or plant that can be flattened. Pansies and daisies are great choices, as well as clovers. 

Next, find an airtight container large enough to fit the flowers and add at least an inch of cat litter. Lay the flowers in the container and cover them with a light layer of cat litter. Close the lid and keep the container in a dark closet for 3-5 days. For thick flowers like roses, it may take a few days longer. 

Once the flower is dried, begin creating the bookmark. I like to start with a pretty piece of scrapbooking paper and stamp or glue on words or quotes that inspire me. I buy secondhand copies of my favorite books so I can cut out bits of the book pages to add. {I acknowledge this completely enrages some people.} 

Then I apply a thin layer of glue from a glue stick in the area I plan to add the flower. I press it down carefully, starting with the center of the flower and then gently pressing the petals and stem.
When the glue dries, I cover the bookmark with clear packing tape. Sometimes I lay the bookmark between two sheets of clear contact paper, press down, and cut around the edges. 

Then I use a hole punch to add a hole for a pretty ribbon. Use a match to melt the ends of the ribbon so it won't fray. This is a pretty way to preserve a flower from a special day and makes a great gift, as well.

My cats may not have direct access to my books very often, but that doesn't mean they can't still enjoy great literature. My little readers love to entertain their feline (and canine!) friends with their favorite stories---outside.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Big Kid in Training and DG Digital Coupons #PottyTrainingTips #DGCoupons #PullUpsPersonality #ad

I can't believe our youngest is in Pull-Ups® already! I'm at sort of a difficult place in my mothering as there hasn't been a new baby for three years and Brenna is breaking out of all the baby and toddler stages as fast as she can. I'm proud of my little big kid in training---but it's a bittersweet time, too!
Brenna turned three in December and, like all my other girls, she's been slower than her brothers to completely potty train. That's fine with me though---I've found that it's much less stressful on both of us if I just encourage her and wait it out. She loves wearing Pull-Ups® Training Pants because they help her feel independent and aid her in learning how to do this next big girl thing on her own.

Now that the weather is nice, our family has been hanging out more at the parks and hiking trails in our town.  It's nice that I'm not dealing with baby diapers when we want to get ready for a trip quickly. Brenna can pack the diaper bag on her own and this makes her feel like she's done a big kid chore just like her older siblings.

I found Pull-Ups at Dollar General last week and saved $2.00 with a digital coupon. Have you tried Dollar General's digital coupons? It was my first time and it was super easy! For a limited time, you can save $2.00 also on Pull-Ups® Training Pants.

To sign up for DG Digital Coupons:
1. Sign up here---> https://ooh.li/117fee5 or Text JOIN to 34898.
2. Create an account and load the coupons you want.
3. Shop Dollar General to redeem the coupons at checkout. Check out their store locator to find your nearest location.

After you've signed up for all the coupons you want to use, you're ready to shop. At check out, just enter the phone number you signed up with and your digital coupons will automatically be deducted from your total. No printing required!

Pull-Ups® help Brenna feel comfortable and confident as she grows through this newest stage. Because they look and feel more like real underwear, she can pull them on and off herself so she's gained some independence. Here she is with Daddy at her first real baseball game. With our big family, we can play a "real" game all on our own.

Of course she hit a home run and everyone cheered as she ran around the bases!

After our baseball game, we had a picnic and took a hike around Tanyard Creek park. Brenna was still going strong with no accidents---yay!

This little sweetie is full of personality and fun. Do you have a potty-training child? Check out this fun quiz to see what their potty training personality is. You can also visit the Pull-Ups® site for some potty training games to play with your little big kid!
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