Saturday, August 9, 2014

Enough: A Book Review & Giveaway

Hi friends.

Have you ever started reading a book for one reason, and realized rather quickly that God put that book in your hands for so many other reasons? 

This is that book.


This book started out as this post. My friend Kate wrote it just over 2 years ago, and it exploded all over the interwebs. You probably saw it come across your Facebook news feed. It's pretty much amazing, and I expected nothing less from the book. 

I wanted to read the book for a lot of reasons. We have quite a few teenage girls in our lives, including my two sisters-in-law. Add to that list a 5 year old daughter who is growing up WAY too fast, and I figured I had plenty to learn from these pages. 

If only I know...

This book was for ME!

The chapter on modesty and body image? Speaking right to me.


The chapter about better things to follow than your heart? That one about all the beautiful passions, intuitions and gifts that God has blessed us with, even when we can't see them? Speaking right to me.


 But the part that really got to me was the chapter on drama. Growing up I certainly had, created, and complained about my fair share of the stuff. It's one of those things that we just chalk up to the teenage experience. Kate does an amazing job getting to the root of the reason why so many girls seem unable to break free of it's gravitational pull. She speaks to their value and calling in the eyes of God. We seek out drama because we are craving something worth so much more. But the part that really got to me was the part where she talks about where girls learn their responses and reactions...

From their moms.

BOOM!

Already I have had too many instances of hearing myself come out of Abbey's mouth and cringing. Am I teaching her to respond with grace and kindness, or judgement and snark? Is she learning the best of me or the worst of me?

Now, this is the critical point where I get to make a decision. I can fall on the floor and cry because I am failing as a mother, or I can stand in His grace, know that it is sufficient. Every day I can do my best to show Abbey the grace that is shown to me every minute of every day. I can try over and over again to show her how incredibly valuable she is.

Because she is enough, and so am I. 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Do you have a teenage girl, cross paths with a teenage girl, or stand a chance of ever talking to a teenage girl? You want a copy of this book!

Lucky for you, I get to give away a copy! All you need to do is leave a comment telling me why you want to read it! The giveaway will close Tuesday at Midnight.

**The giveaway is closed. The winner is: Holly!**

Be blessed,
Heather

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Easy Peasy DIY Cloth Diaper Safe Laundry Detergent

Hi friends!

I've been on a mission over the past year or so to get as many harsh cleaning chemicals out of our home as possible. One of the easiest ways to do that is to make homemade laundry detergent! I was using the most common dry recipe out there with Fels Naptha, but I found out when I was pregnant with Owen that Fels Naptha can build up in cloth diapers and impact their absorbency. No good! Then I found out that Castile Soap doesn't build up, and life was good again!

Here it is, my favorite recipe.


  • 1 box Borax
  • 2 large boxes Baking Soda
  • 1 box Washing Soda
  • 2 bars Castile Soap (I used lavender, but you can use whatever you like)
  • 15-20 drops Tea Tree Oil (optional)


The trickiest part of this whole process is grating the soap. I HIGHLY recommend using a food processor. Borrow one if you don't have one.

I start by slicing the bars of soap into smaller slices.

Then I use my grating blade to grate up the soap, leaving me with this.

That would be fine if you were making liquid soap, but this stays powder, so I like it in even smaller pieces. I dump this into a bowl and put my regular blade into the food processor. A few pulses and you end up with this. Much better!


Now it's simple. Everything gets dumped into a bin! Seriouly. No measuring, just pouring. I used a 16 quart bin, and it fills about halfway up. Stir all of the ingredients together, then add your essential oil and stir again.


I use 2T per load for our small, stackable washer. This amount worked well in our standard washer,too. We use about 1/4 of that for cloth diapers. Feel free to use more or less as you need it. Also, if for some reason you feel like you need more soap, add another bar of castile. I haven't noticed a problem, but I also try my best to pre-treat stains as often as I can. There are so many things that can make a difference in how a detergent works, so feel free to tweak this recipe as you need!

Oh, and my favorite part? This amount of detergent will last us for almost a year! Yep, you heard me right, almost a YEAR! It cost me about $30 to make. Sounds good to me!

Do you make your own cleaning supplies?
Why did you decide to make the switch?

Be blessed!
Heather

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Berry Cultured Butter with Lifeway Kefir

This shop has been compensated by #collectivebias, Inc. and its advertiser. 
All opinions are mine alone.

Hi friends!

I am usually all about simple recipes. I love quality food that doesn't take a long time. However, some things are worth waiting for.

Cultured butter is one of those things.

The creaminess of butter with the tanginess of yogurt. Yes, please! It gets even better when you use something delicious like the flavors that Lifeway Kefir offers. Throw in some fresh berries and now you really have something amazing!



Ready to make the most amazing butter you have ever had? Here is what you need:
  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream 
  • 1/3 Cup Lifeway Kefir
  • a pinch of salt
  • berries of choice 
  • a large jar or bowl

OK, here we go...

Pour your cream and your kefir into your jar. Cover it up and let it sit out for 36-48 hours. Yes, that long. I didn't make it up, go ask America's Test Kitchen. Lift the lid to let out any pressure and give it a shake every now and then. The cultures in the kefir will be growing and multiplying and doing their cultury thing. 


Give your cream a taste. It should have that nice tang to it. When my cream came out of the jar it looked like this:


See how it got all thick and lucious? It's like yogurt, Well...it is yogurt!  Go ahead and add your salt. Now it is ready to churn. What? You don't have a butter churn? Well neither do I, so you're all good! You can use your stand mixer or your blender. You pick! I used my stand mixer and mixed my cultured cream on 6. You're going to want to throw a towel over it while your mixing. Trust me on this one

After a minute or two the solids and liquids will start to separate. Take a break from churning and pour off the liquid. Look what you have now...buttermilk! I don't know about you, but I never have buttermilk when I need it, and I never use a whole carton. I threw this into ice cube trays, so now I have it waiting whenever I need it!


Now go back to churning. In theory, the solid/liquid separating process should start again. For some reason mine didn't, and it just sort of became whipped butter. I'm totally OK with that. At this point I threw in some cut up berries and mixed it for just a few more seconds. That took me from this:


to this!


You might want to eat it with a spoon at this point. Some people might judge you for that. Not me.

This is way more butter than you want sitting in your fridge. One of the great things about butter is that is freezes beautifully! Use a spatula to scoop portions of butter onto some plastic wrap.


Roll up the plastic wrap and twist the ends until you have a nice little bundle. Throw those babies into the freezer. Now you have cultured berry deliciousness any time you want it!


Make sure you keep a little bit out to eat now. Spread it on toast, put it on your waffles. Stuffed french toast with berry cultured butter? Yep.


Want to find even more ways to use Lifeway Kefir? Check out #kefircreations on Instagram and Twitter! You can even sign up HERE for coupons!

Have you ever had cultured butter?
What would you spread it on?

Be blessed!
Heather

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How To Throw A Simple Frozen Party Without Losing Your Mind (or blowing your budget!)

Build Your Bundle - Homeschool Edition Sale - Up to 92% Off! 

 Hey there friends!

Abbey turned 5 last month. FIVE!

And, like every other 5 year old girl on the planet, she wanted a Frozen party.
I love throwing themed parties. I really do! They give me a direction for planning, and get my creative juices flowing. Her rainbow party was so much fun to do! However, it can be so easy to see all of those beautiful parties on Pinterest and get a little jealous. I can't ice custom cookies, I don't have 15 cake stands, and let's be honest...those parties take a budget much larger than mine! They are beautiful, and lots of fun, but you can absolutely throw a great themed party with an every day skill set, and a small budget.

Here are my favorite ways to keep it simple:

Simple Decorations
Even with a theme, I try to stay away from the super theme specific stuff. Rather than decorating with pictures of Anna and Elsa, I created a mini winter wonderland. Some easy-peasy tulle pom poms and some snowflakes easily transformed our deck. Think outside the box for your decorations. Ignore the big party stores and hit up your local craft stores. The snowflakes came in a pack of 24 in the wedding section of all places! Thinking in terms of "white and sparkly" instead of "Frozen" really helped me find things in my budget.

Simple Treats
I keep food simple at parties. Our local grocery store makes amazing fried chicken, so we usually do that and simple sandwich fixings. Add in some picnic sides (fruit, veggies, chips...) and some lemonade and you are all set! However, I do like to let the sweet treats help with the theme. This time it was cupcakes. I love cupcakes for birthday parties. Everyone get some without the hassle of cutting and passing! Again, I went with white and sparkly. White cake, white frosting, edible glitter and white candy balls. 

Due to my previously mentioned lack of cake stands, I picked up a plain cardboard cupcake stand. Easy on the budget, but not all that pretty. A quick addition of one of the snowflakes from the deck adding a nice little flair. This looked beautiful on the gift table!

Another thing that I like to keep simple is goodie bags. How many times have you come home from a kids party with a bag full of candy and toys that just get tossed in the trash? Why waste the money? I made some of this Frozen slime from Growing a Jeweled Rose. I put it in some gift tins from Hobby Lobby and wrapped those in glitter tape. Done! Everyone gets a fun treat to take home for less than $10!

Simple Fun
I am a firm believer in the idea that kids are perfectly capable of having fun on their own. For that reason, I like to make sure that birthday parties have a good combination of free play time and fun activities. For this party we had two crafts.

1. Snow painting
This one was easy. Blue construction paper, some rhinestone stickers and some cloud paint. Ready, set, paint! All the kids had a great time creating just like Elsa!


2. Do You Want To Build A Snowman pops
The kids had a lot of fun with this one. Here is what you need:
  • craft sticks
  • marshmallows
  • chocolate chips
  • carrot noses (starburst, shaped into carrots)
  • pretzels
  • frosting
  • toothpicks

Each child got to build their own snowman. Use the toothpicks to stick pieces on with frosting. 


Yum!

Want some other craft and game options? I've put together some of the best stuff out there in this Pinterest board!
Follow Heather's board Frozen Fun on Pinterest.
And there you go! A Frozen birthday party that is full of frosty fun without draining your budget. It may not make any of the big party planning websites, but it sure was fun!
Do you like throwing parties?
What is your favorite tip for entertaining on a budget?

Be blessed!
Heather

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