Friday, September 28, 2012

Rays Of Sunshine-Meet Kate

Hey Friends and Welcome to our Friday series, Rays of Sunshine. This series is meant to feature different women from different walks of life; giving us a small glimpse into their lives with the hope of leaving you encouraged.
Today, I want to introduce to you a lovely lady that I have met through blogging and am looking forward to getting to know better in the future. She blogs over at Beautifully Rooted, a wonderful blog about faith and life.  Seriously, reading this blog has been like a breath of fresh air some days. We are so happy to have Kate with us today!
So, meet Kate friends!

I am the wife of a lovely husband, mother to wonderful children, photographer of everyday moments, daughter of Jesus, blogger and friend.
I began the blog as a way to stay in touch with my sweet family back in Texas when I moved to Arizona.   The blog started out as Songs Kate Sang, because I viewed my journey to the desert as a Psalm.
Since starting this online journal, I have read stories that filled my heart with complete love, I have seen pictures that moved me to tears and I have stood beside you on causes that stirred my entire being.
Although I always pictured raising my family in Texas, sending my children to Texas A&M and retiring somewhere with huge trees and green fields, God had a little different and wonderful plan for me.
I have absolutely fallen in love with the desert. I adore the unexpected colors and the stillness of the star-filled nights.

5:45am - Woke up when husband forgot to close the door when he started the electric shaver
6:10am - Rolled back over and went to sleep when husband left for work
6:52am - Woke up in a panic scared that I'd oversleep
7:17am - Put wet laundry in dryer
 7:38am - Decided that mascara on my bottom eyelashes would not be necessary today

7:47am - Left for work
7:58am - Smiled at the night blooming cactus as I noticed their blooms closing up for the night
8:07am - Was pleasantly surprised with Dunkin Donuts by a co worker - chocolate with sprinkles!  
8:30am - Had my first conference call
9:00am - Reviewed government pricing and bid with federal team
12:08pm - Realized I was starving
12:13pm - Drove through Chick-Fil-A for lunch
3:37pm - Walked downstairs to get ice cream for two people I had missed a meeting with earlier that day - hoping that ice cream would help them forgive me (it worked!)
4:12pm - Attempted to help write a grant for educational technology
5:07pm - Walked up and down my team's row making sure they were all set for the night
5:10pm -Left work 
5:12pm - Rolled down the windows and turned up Toby Mac and Mandisa 'Good Morning'
5:27pm - Started dinner (Chicken, raw carrots, grapes, microwave Uncle Ben's rice)
 6:17pm - Started helping Nate with his book report
 7:42pm - Writing this synopsis of my blessed day and listening to Nate practice his report

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Brown Bag Special - DiY Microwave Popcorn

Since Jenny took a break from Wellness Wednesday I thought I’d share some food tips today. It’s all about corn! Yup, corn. Corn is a great veggie, no cholesterol, low fat calories, no sodium, contains some good vitamins and minerals, and plain tastey.

So here are some things I’ve learned about corn recently. You can eat corn directly off the cob without cooking it. For salads and cold dishes this is awesome (Jenny shared this tip with me). It is actually sweeter if you don’t cook it. Also, you can freeze corn in the husk. Just grab some when it is cheap and pop it in the freezer. Pull it out and thaw it and off you go to throw it on the grill, shuck it and cut it off the husk for some salad…the options are really endless. To get the corn out of the cob with fewer “hairs” all you have to do is cut the very top of the husk off with the tip of the corn. Then pull the husk down as you normally would and you should end up with very few “hairs” holding on [got this tip online but cannot for the life of me find the source-it wasn’t me who came up with this brilliance] and you can rinse those last few off pretty easily.

Now, let’s talk about popcorn…yum. I am a fan of popcorn. I very much enjoy it as a snack or as a movie watching treat, sometimes I think I could just eat a bowl as a meal and to be honest at some point when I lived alone I probably did. HA! But microwave popcorn with all it’s additives is certainly not the best for anyone and I never wanted to get an air popper or cook it on the stove, but recently I discovered this WONDERFUL trick for microwave popcorn. Drum roll please…a brown lunch bag! SAY WHAT? Oh yeah, you can throw corn kernels in a brown lunch bag and stick it in the microwave. I’ve found that about a 1/3 cup of kernels is about the right amount. It will pop perfectly and tastes delicious. There is no need to add any butter, oil, etc while it is popping because the heat is what makes it pop not the oil or butter. Best of all you can add whatever extras to it you like and know what you are getting. I like to sprinkle mine with a little olive oil and parmesan cheese. Fold the top of the bag over twice because it will push open as the kernels pop. In my microwave it takes approx 2 minutes but all microwaves are different so just listen for the pops and when it starts slowing down if you can count to 3 in between pops it is finished. Once you’ve done it a couple times you’ll know the exact right timing for your microwave. [Again, this was not my brilliance but I cannot remember where online I found it].

Key loves popcorn too so she got to enjoy the tutorial bag!

Sunny Day to you,


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Chalkboard Activity Book-Great DiY Gift For Kids

Today, we are taking a break from Wellness Wednesday and I am going to share a fun little DiY with you instead!
Truth be told, we are going on 2 weeks now of sickness in our home so my ability to really think through information to accurately give you on health and such is a bit compromised due to lack of sleep! However, I will be sharing our daily regime when we are sick and a great recipe with you next Wednesday, so come back!

For now, let's talk Chalkboard Paint! I LOVE this stuff! Seriously, if I don't watch myself, I could very easily get carried away with this pure awesomeness!
We have a chalkboard in our dining room, a few painted and soon to be hung in the living room, and a big thick chalkboard stripe painted on my boy's walls, going all around the room. Yet, I still want more!

Okay, so I made these fun little books for Christmas books last year. Right now, is the prefect weather to paint these; low humidity and not yet too cold to dry well.
Do NOT wait till it is too cold outside to decide you want to make these for gifts.  I made this mistake last year and ended up in my grandmother's garage with space heaters and a blow dryer! I know, ridiculous! But I was determined to make these.

What you need for the book:
Old board book or book from the Dollar Store
Primer Spray Paint
Chalkboard Spray Paint
White or Silver Sharpie

What you need for the eraser and chalk bag:
Couple sheets of felt

After having done this the wrong way, I can now share with you what NOT to do.
First, like I mentioned above, do NOT wait until it is too cold outside to paint these.
Secondly, I found that larger books with less pages work best. They have larger pages leaving more space to draw and less pages means less painting!

You'll paint each paint with primer and allow to completely dry.
Then, you'll paint each page with chalkboard paint, allowing to completely dry and cure for 24-36 hours before writing on it with the Sharpie or chalk.
Once your book is dry, you will prep each page for writing. You do this by simply running a piece of chalk over the entire chalkboard area and then erasing it.

A little tic tac toe action!

And, some Hangman! Do you remember this? I used to love to play hangman during class when I should have been listening to my teacher!

Draw some clothes and dress this guy please! And create a funny face too.

As you will notice here on this page, I had some drying issues with a few of my pages.  Ya know, since it was like winter outside and I was trying to hand dry each page with a blow dryer!

Some empty pages to draw whatever their creative minds desire and why not throw some dot to dot fun in there too!

I completed the gift by making some littler erasers out of felt and a little felt bag to hold the chalk and erasers.  The erasers are super easy.
You simply cut your pieces of felt, to whatever size you want your eraser to be. You will want to cut about 5 of these in the same shape. Stack your felt pieces and then run it through your sewing machine, stitching around the edges.
The bag is a basic draw string bag design. Fold your piece of felt in half and then cut down to the size you want your bag to be. Fold over about an inch on the end of each side (will be the top of the bag). Sew across the top of each side, making a tube all the way around to run your ribbon through. Then you will sew the sides, only up to the bottom of your opening for the ribbon.

Now, go to Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depot......and buy your paint! Let me know how your books turn out. Or if you have a fun chalkboard project that you have posted about, leave us a comment with your blog link too.
Inspiration for this DiY-
Chalkboard Book

And speaking of fun chalkboard projects, check this out if you are local.
Daspri and I are teaming up with the wonderful ladies at Branch Out Paint Bar & Boutique and teaching a fun new class, Dames of DiY!  Check out their FB page for more info and get signed up today! This class is coming up soon, Oct 2nd at 7pm!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Conquer the Gauntlet

Well Happy Tuesday everyone. You made it through Monday! My Monday was a pretty fun one but I was still a bit worn out from the weekend. This weekend I and my three brothers took on a 4 mile obstacle course race called Conquer the Gauntlet. It was a lot of fun and physically challenging but most of all a great experience with the bros. We have done fun things together here and there as adults [just the four of us-we usually like to include the spouses and 9 kids we have between the 4 of us] but this was our first race experience together-ever.

The race started out with a nearly 1 mile run through woods and up and down small hills to eventually land me at the first obstacle which was a contraption made of barbwire and bungee cords that I had to work my way through. After that another run and on to more and more obstacles. There was a nice couple mud pits to run through, one up to my chest and the next up to my waist. Of course this was close to the beginning so you were surely wet and muddy for most of the obstacles. Here are a few that we faced after the mud pit!


The five walls in a row were certainly the hardest endurance wise. I was fortunate enough to have a couple bros to help lift me up and get me over but even with help my arms and shoulders were screaming at me.

The obstacles got higher and seemingly more challenging as I went along. I’m sure that had something to do with being worn out from the ones before. The final wall was quite a wall indeed. It was at least 12 feet tall and had very little assistance for getting oneself up. Again I had my bros to help me out and we got over it and through the final obstacle-the gauntlet-and conquered the course.

Was a great day and so much fun to do it with my bros. I’m in pretty good shape right now, best I’ve been in for quite some time but as for doing it again, I’m certainly game but I think I’m going to have to start lifting some heavier weights and running much longer distances before we step up to the next level of challenges.


All the best, enjoy your week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stylish & Easy Bracelet Makeover (DiY Love)

It's Monday, the start to another week, and I'm hopeful that this week will be full of healing!
We've had a sickly home for the past week and a half now. So, today, I am going to share a quick and easy project that leaves you with some fun and stylish jewelry!
Grab some cheap bangle bracelets, some fibers or ribbons of your choice and start wrapping! It is really THAT easy!  I simply wrapped them, leaving a small tail at the beginning so I would have something to tie in a knot at the end.
We have a great dollar jewelry store here and I scored this whole set for a $1!  I used some fabulous multicolored fibers that my mom had used to decorate my birthday present, making this one really inexpensive project for me.
I love the results!

They are pretty cute mixed with the
plain silver bracelets. I also really like
the little knots.

I also made these too. I REALLY love how these turned out!
I also scored these colorful wooden bracelets at the dollar jewelry store. WOO HOO! I just love a bargain!

I had bought this cute lace trim at Hobby Lobby a while back. I had no actual plans for it at the time. I just knew I loved it and it was on sale, so clearly it was going home with me.

For these, I started out the exact same way as the bracelets above, wrapping them. However, I wanted the vibrant color of these wooden bracelets to still be seen, so I chose to only wrap a portion of the bracelet. So, when I had wrapped the portion that I wanted, I grabbed my E6000 glue and dabbed a small amount on the inside of my bracelet and pressed my lace trim down.  I allowed them to lay and dry for a bit and then trimmed off the excess lace.

That's it friends! I told you, quick and easy!
I am super thankful for projects like this; the kind that still allow me to get in a little bit of creativity even amongst a house full of sick little ones!

Let me know how your bracelets turn out and have a happy Monday!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rays of Sunshine-Meet Tabitha

It's Friday! Welcome to our Friday series, Rays of Sunshine. This series is meant to feature different women from different walks of life; giving us a small glimpse into their lives with the hope of leaving you encouraged.

Today, I want to introduce you to someone pretty wonderful. You know that person that everyone seems to just instantly like upon meeting them, well, prepare to instantly like Tabitha. She is truly a sweetheart and I am blessed to call her my friend. I miss her living close by so much and so I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her day. I think you will too!

My name is Tabitha, and I am the wife of a wonderful husband, mother of three joyful boys, and child of God.  A day in our life has many surprises, messes, up, downs, songs, laughter, and battle scenes.  Each day is quite different, despite my strong efforts to get us to a norm.   

We moved about 4 months ago, and finding a norm for us since has been difficult, mainly because we seem to always have something going on.  For instance, the week before last we made a spur of the moment decision to go to out of town Friday on Thursday. Then last week my grandparents from California were coming to Arkansas, and now this week we are preparing to go camping next week.  After we get back we will preparing for my oldest son's 7th birthday.  

So, if you haven't noticed there is always something.  So, after much thought ;), I have decided to roll with this ride, and realize that everyday is an adventure!  A new adventure that God has planned for us!  I plan some things, but make sure to realize not to miss the fun when my plan doesn't work!  (by the way I am very sorry to all those reading this that know me, that have had our adventure for the day turn their upside down, for what it is worth Thank You, I am so blessed to call you friend)

Okay onto our adventure for today.

Early this morning around like 5:30, I vaguely remember helping my hubby out of bed, and then saying bye to him or rather him to me before he took off for work at like 6:40am. I do not really consider this being up at all, although I am striving to start getting up with him and being up before the boys. It would be a perfect time to spend with him and then with the Lord - a perfect way to start my day, I mean adventure.  But obviously life isn't perfect and so I am still striving to accomplish this ;).......

This morning I woke up to whisperings of "Mom, Mom, Mom will you read this now?" from my little man, Tristen - my 5yr old.  The night before I had promised to read this book today and we had left it in a special place so we wouldn't forget.  So, that means that I have one excited little man to spend time with me first thing in the morning! (even though it is like 7:15 in the am I think, the clock was very blurry) And also, this particular book is You Are Special by Max Lucado, so we both are starting the morning being reminded of God's Love.  Simply an amazing way to start my day! ;)
By the way, I must add here that little brother, Ethan my 2yr old, is in our bed every morning about 3:00am give or take an hour, so he was also listening to the story.

After the story was read like 1 1/2 times, Tristen went to go play with big brother - Thaddeus my 6yr old, in their room, while I help Ethan change his pull-up, go potty, and get underwear on. While doing this he is singing one of our sign songs about a banana, and trying to do the sign for it with his cute little fingers.  Too cute!  Now, on to start the coffee.  

Mmmmmm, I love to smell the coffee making in the morning.  It really wakes me up that and my shower.

While the coffee makes this morning, my task is to look up camp sites for our camping trip that we are leaving for in like 4 days.  Yes, I know last minute, but still needs to get done and so today is the day.  So, back to looking up camp sites.  While I am doing this on, I am on my bed, Ethan is bringing his farm set in to me to play, with a "Mommy, can I have this on your bed?"  I can't say no to that.  Apparently, this is my animal to play.....
While Ethan and I are doing this, big brothers are playing what sounds like a very crazy game in their room.  Oh, time for coffee. And yeah!, I get to have my favorite cup, it's the little things that make me smile.  Back to research and farm life while I drink my coffee.

Okay it's 8:40, I need to get breakfast going now, so the camping research will have to wait.  First, a drink for everyone.  We have water most all the time, otherwise the boys never want to drink water at all. 
Oh dear,  a crisis has occurred! Ethan's new Buzz got a few drops of water spilt in his helmet apparently from the hole in Ethan's lip.  I get that cleaned up and all is good. Whew!  On to breakfast again.  I am making oatmeal for breakfast.  As I start it Ethan asks, "Mommy, can you get me a banana?".   I smile at him and get it.  I love it when he asks so sweetly in his little voice.   While the oatmeal is cooking, I have some cookies that have to get baked, five rolls of oatmeal cookies.

The boys helped me make them last night.  They had to be in the fridge for at least an hour, so I just saved them to cook this morning.  We are taking them camping so there are a lot.  I always have lots of help in the kitchen.  And this  little man loves to be in my pictures. 

I also have granola that needs to be cooked today - also for the camping trip.      Guess the oven is going to be going all day, oh well.  Ethan is now done with his banana and asking for 'oatmilk'.  We work on this like every morning like with most things right now, it's fun.  The rest of the conversation goes,


Mommy: Yes, the oatmeal will be ready soon.
Ethan:  not oatmeal, oatmilk mommy.  Can I have oatmilk?
Mommy: Yes, Ethan oatmilk is oatmeal, can you say meal?
and so on, you get the idea.

Now everyone realizes the cookie dough is out and want to eat it, so I have three little hands trying to get in the dough.  I give them each a piece and then finish up the oatmeal.
Oh dear, we are out of honey for the oatmeal - our favorite sweetener is honey for our oatmeal and most everything.  But oh well, I can improvise this, we will just have maple and brown sugar flavoring today. ;)

After we eat it is time for after breakfast clean-up.  Big brother rinses off all the breakfast dishes.  Usually Tristen brings him the dishes, and wipes of the table.  But today Tristen has taken the initiative to put away all the folded clothes in the basket - they all belong to the boys - right after he was done.  Way to go Tristen!  So, I help Thaddeus out, and help Ethan clean himself, and get more cookies in the oven - this last one is an endless cycle for a bit.

Now, I sit down for a quick breakfast with another cup of coffee, or maybe this is the same one only half drunk.  Okay fill-up coffee cup, and do more campsite research while eating. Oh yea! Big brother is reading an Oceans book to his brothers - a school moment!  We are on a student led school right now for the most part.

After my still have finished breakfast, we need a quick clean-up in the house.  My little bundles of adventure have sure taken advantage of Mom being on the computer a lot today ;)......

These are pictures of the boys rolling their own sleeping bags during clean up.  I thought they handled it pretty well.

It is about 10am or so now and we go get ready for the day.  This means I dash to the shower and we all get dressed, put pj's away, make beds, brush teeth, all that good stuff.  Ethan sometimes hangs out with me, but today is being a big boy with his brothers.  I must say at this point in my life, I have finally figured out how to take quick showers (though I still enjoy a long one when I can get it, mmm those just take all the kinks out) After I am pretty put together and more prepared to face the rest of our adventure,  I go in and help Ethan to make his bed.

Okay, now to the kitchen again to get the granola going.  It has to cook like all day.  So, the rest of the cookies will have to wait till tomorrow while this granola cooks.
After that is done I go into the living room to sit.  Ethan and Tristen start bringing me books to read.  And after a bit Thaddeus brings in our bible.  He knows the routine.  Usually, we try to do a bible story together about this time and sing some songs.  So here he is getting us started. Love it when that works.

Right now we have been reading thru the Gospel Story Bible. Thaddeus will read half of the story, and I will read half.  Then we answer the 'talk about questions' and look at the pictures. After this we sing a few worship songs and pray.  Then we sing our ABC song - we try to sign the alphabet during this and it is so cute to watch Ethan do it -  and then we have fun acting out the animals and such in the song.

We just got a call from Dad asking for some lunch - see little surprises always pop up.  Well, I guess thoughts on a picnic will be acted out.

While we are eating our picnic we go over our word for the day, the verse that goes with it. Then we have a rather interesting discussion over examples of persuasiveness. The word always has a word it is v.s. which my battle fighting knights love.  And so we cheer for the good word, and booo the bad - with as much humility and politeness as possible ;).  That word today is contentiousness - even I don't know, should have done my homework for it before hand, oh well learning together is more fun.

 While playing we find a little tiny baby frog.  Tristen picks it up, and we take it out to the woods.

Hold the phone! Here is a multitude of school moments!  Obviously the frog, but I also point out that the frog is camouflaged when in it natural environment - Thaddeus wanted to take it to the rainforest where other frogs live.  So Can you find the frog in the pic?

After this lesson, we fly back to the park to play..... and then head    home for some naps/rest time - the older ones don't really sleep anymore.

At nap time we usually read a story for a bit, like a chapter book that we go thru.  The boys are getting a lot better at remembering what has happened in the books up to the point we are reading.  Right now we are reading Little House on the Prairie.  I know I have boys, but they really seem to enjoy these books.  We already read thru the first one.  I think it is all adventure tales that the Pa has to tell in the book.  Works for me, I have never actually read thru them all, so here we go another learning adventure!
While the boys lie down I have more camp research to do - I have to nail one by the end of the day.  And I also need to get some office work done, things like bills, check registrar, and of course email, Facebook, maybe even sneak in some pinterest.  
Okay the older boys have lay still long enough, so I take a break from office work - whew it is exhausting - to take them some books.  Today I will beat them to getting up and asking me for some ;)

About 3:30pm it is time to let them up. They request to play wii, since little brother is still sleeping - there is one particular game they can't play with him around.  So I let them since I still have to look up campsites - have to find one, I think I can, I think I can ........ - while little bro wakes up.  When Ethan gets up, he and I read a few books, look at some word cards, and hangout together. Then he asks to watch his 'favorite movie buzz'.  Too cute!  Well, I get him set up, and then I go get some more camp food together.  And some dinner started.

For dinner, we make a pizza together.  Tonight Dad has to work late, so we are hanging out doing a few kiddo things laid back and easy, so as to not miss him quite so much.  Pizza goes in the oven about 6:15. By the way, Thank You again Mrs. Jenny for this great recipe!

While the pizza cooks we play some Candy Land.  Thaddeus totally dominates the game! 

Okay, pizza is down!  Dinner time!  After dinner we take some baths, clean up from the day, and then the boys go on to bed. 

Now, please understand, this is a long process of like at least 45min. or so.  Danny still hasn't made it home yet, so I sit down to get some more camp research done, till he gets home.  It was a really fun day, and the boys had a blast!  Most importantly we all smiled a lot!  I thank God for all the blessing he has bestowed on us, and for each smile I get from these boys.  They are little handfuls of joy for sure. And sometime and at some point we will have a house routine down - to keep it clean, and a more school like routine, and more hubby time  - but right now until then, I am enjoying every minute!



Thanks so much for taking time to enter our giveaway. I am thrilled to announce the winners: first, for the Vintage Inspired Cuff and Colorful Bobby Pins is....... Kate
Kate, I will be emailing you soon!

And the winner of the Blessed Necklace and Fall Inspired Hair ties is.......Amy!
Amy, I will be emailing you soon as well!

Congrats ladies! :)

Tank Top Touch-Ups - DiY

Hey there! Today we are going to work on a few Tank Top Touch-Ups. As we’ve discussed I’m a bargain shopper. So, sometimes I find something at a deal price but it isn’t quite right. If you play your cards right with these types of items you can really score something cute that just needs a tiny tweak.

This cute tank I bought was the only one left on the sale rack ($3.20) and I really liked the offset pattern at the bottom but it wasn’t my size. I tried it on and it fit great as a baggy top everywhere except under the arms. So I took it home and fixed that little problem with a quick 5 minute sew job.

All you have to do is put the top on and see how much you’d like to take in. If you are trying to do it right the first time you really need to measure but I was in a quick rush to actually wear my top so I just guesstimated.  For this top because it flared at the bottom I did a slanted stitch so only the top would be taken in.  As you can see from the picture I did it twice at the very top because I didn’t measure and nobody will ever see the inside of the shirt while I’m wearing it so a few extra stitches can’t hurt (psst, don’t tell anyone)!
Easy and fast and that little tank now fits exactly like I wanted it to.

A second quick tank touch-up is for too long straps. Tanks are great for layering and wearing under stuff but when the straps are too long they get saggy and for me I spend most of my day yanking the front up. So, I took this one and gave it a quick strap touch-up.

1.       Put your tank on and decide how much of the straps you’d like to take up. Again, I didn’t measure simply guesstimated but measuring ensures it is correct. TIP: make sure you don’t take the straps in too far or your top might be too snug under the arms.

2.       Make sure the straps meet up in the place where you want to take them up. Don’t just cut on one side. Usually straps get larger the closer they get to the shirt so if you only cut one side your seams won’t line up.

3.       Pin them in place with pins.

    4.       Sew across the straps. Use thread that matches, I used white thread for the tutorials.

5.       Try it on and if you are pleased cut off the excess. I like to leave the extra length on until I’ve sewn and tried it on just in case I made a mistake and took off too much. Then I can just pull the stitches and go again. If you are a pro at measuring and sewing you won’t need to worry about that!

Now, no more pulling on the front of that tank to get it back in place, you are good to go.

Happy Thursday everyone, we made it over the hump and the weekends rolling in!
Remember the giveaway!