A little life update...



Happy Monday!

Look at those silly girls! You want to know why they are smiling so big? I totally bribed them with ice cream if they'd let me take their picture. Haha! Just a little real life honesty, for you. ;)

Can you believe we are already half way through September? That's mind boggling. I have been decorating for fall all week. My mother in law gave me some new décor items that I've been playing with, and ended up re-arranging several things around the house. I'll do a video tour soon!

Evie is loving and thriving her Pre-K 4 year of school. She begs to do school all day long. *wink* She also started a little homeschool art class once a week. My friend teaches it and she was gracious to let Evie join in....she spends about 20 minutes focusing on the class before she's ready to go play with her friends. I think it's adorable and such a nice outlet for us all to get out of the house.

Ella, my goodness, has been changing so much. She's learning to communicate better, and of course wants to do school with sister. She has started coloring and drawing like crazy. When she figured out how to draw a circle, she spent nearly an hour covering page after page with circles!

I've been spending most of my mornings working (from home). I handle social media, PSA's and other web site related tech stuff. It keeps me busy and gives me a little creative outlet. I've had to figure out a new routine for myself, hence the reason my blog has been quiet. I'm not planning on going anywhere blog wise, just had to figure it all out!

Even though, I love my fall décor, I'm also already planning and scheming for Christmas decorations. I'm thinking it's time to add a second tree to our house. I'm torn between a Disney tree (how fun would that be?) or a blue & white themed tree (more elegant ).

I better sign off for now. Hope you all have a blessed day. 😊😉

My Planner + Bible Journal


Hi friends!

I recently had to purchase a new planner, and I went with the Blue Sky planners again. I also recently started Bible Journaling, and what a simple way to spend more time in scripture! I found all of my items at Wal-Mart and Target.

I vlogged about it:


Fall has definitely arrived! It's been raining off and on for the last few days and the temperatures have finally dropped. I'm thrilled my favorite season has arrived and am eagerly awaiting the color changes to the trees around me. ;) Also, have been enjoying homemade maple syrup latte's. So yummy! I'll have to share that recipe, soon.

Happy Tuesday!




My Favorite Chocolate Cake



We had such a nice four day weekend. Lots of sleeping in, visiting with family, and catching up on a few things around the house...like slowly, but surely decorating for fall!! I couldn't wait any longer. Have you decorated, yet?

My uncle was visiting from Illinois so I had my family over for Sunday dinner, and made our favorite chocolate cake. My family makes this cake for almost every birthday, holiday and get together. It's so easy and tastes heavenly.

I'll share the recipe!

Double Chocolate Cake

1 pkg. Devils Food Cake mix
1 pkg. Chocolate Pudding (Godiva tastes amazing in this cake!)
1 Cup Chocolate Chips (or white chocolate)
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Mix cake mix according to directions. Add dry pudding mix and stir until well incorporated. Add chocolate chips and vanilla. Bake according to the cake mix directions.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Enjoy!

And if you want to see a sneak peak of my kitchen fall décor (full fall tour video coming later!)




Happy Wednesday, bloggy friends!! <3

First Day of School


Today, we started school! These little stinkers were pretty exited to wear new dresses and pose for pictures.

We  have a lot of books to read and field trips to take! I am probably just as excited as they are. I'm using Five in a Row Curriculum this year, and I'm already loving it.

Here's to a year of learning and growing together. Happy Monday!

Board + Batten | An Updated Living Room Tour




I finally got around to filming an updated living room tour to highlight our Board + Batten project. Also, any idea on how to hide chords? I feel like it is such an eye sore. ;) It was nice getting out the camera and filming again. I have to admit, it's a lot of fun!


Happy Thursday!

Outside We Go


We've taken the girls on a few hikes this summer, and it has been such a good experience for them. As they get older, I find that we are outside more and more.

Even better, is the fact we've had a mysterious break in the heat! Typically, this time of year, we are boarded up inside due to intense (and dangerous) heat waves. I feel like a kid on Christmas as I've woken up to cool temperature, and rainy days over the last couple of days. I even made a pot of chili to celebrate. Who knows...I may even bake up a loaf of pumpkin bread soon!


Hopefully, we are off to another adventure this weekend. Happy Friday!

Our Family 2018


We had our family pictures taken last month, and this was my favorite image. Framing it!

I was comparing it to last year's pictures, and gracious, my girls are so much bigger.

Ella has left behind toddler hood, and Evie is my little lady. This has been such a fun stage with the girls. We have so much fun together! Parenthood just gets more amazing and precious.

Also, can you tell that is one loved daddy? He takes care of his girls so well. 😉

I plan to get back into my blogging groove. I've missed it. Happy Wednesday!

Simple Homemade Granola (Grain Free, Protein Packed!)


While we were on vacation earlier this year, I fell in love with the breakfast offered by our hotel. My favorite being their yogurt parfait topped with granola. I ate it every morning, very slowly, as I savored each bite. I had no idea granola could taste so good!

Imagine my delight (sarcasm) when I realized how much sugar and carbs most granola had be it homemade or store bought.

Enter low carb granola! Easy, delicious, and just as crunchy at traditional carb laden granola.

The real kicker, though? There are no oats involved! Now, I love me some oats, but when I tasted this almond flour concoction, I was fairly certain angels started singing with each bite. ;)

Recipe below!

Simple Homemade (grain free) Granola

1 Cup Walnuts, chopped
1 Cup Almonds, slivered
1 Cup Coconut, shredded & unsweetened
1/4 Cup Chia Seeds
1 Cup Almond Flour, blanched
Cinnamon to taste (I added approx. 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 Tsp. Sea Salt Flakes (you can add a little more for a more sweet & salty mixture)
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup

Preheat oven to 325. Rub a little olive oil over a 13x9 Casserole dish to prevent sticking.

Mix all ingredients together until maple syrup has been fully incorporated. Your mixture will have clumps.

Bake for 16-20 minutes or until mixture turns golden brown.

Enjoy!

Summer Days


Our summer days have centered around lots of swimming, reading, ice cream, and a little hiking thrown in here and there. 



One of my favorite childhood memories was reading the Little House books. I read them all...probably more than once. The girls are still a bit too young for the full series, but I've enjoyed reading to them from the little chapter books.


Evie has been learning to swim this year. She can keep her head above the water, float, and has been working hard to swim under the water. It's amazing how quickly she has learned and she LOVES it!

Happy Wednesday!!

Sunflower Unit Study




Last week, I was inspired to a do a mini unit study on Sunflowers with the girls.

With music playing, they colored pictures, explored the texture of the sunflower, munched on honey roasted sunflower seeds, and listened while I read "From Seed to Sunflower".

Nature, art, music, and time together. It's exactly what this momma heart needed. ❤

Happy Friday!



It's been a slower paced week. So thankful for that. Yet, somehow, I'm still behind on laundry. ;)

We've been hiking, swimming, reading, and sipping iced coffee on these slow, hot days of summer.

I'm quite ready for fall. Soooo tempting to decorate. But, I'm holding off. I usually get started at the end of August. But, I can just smell the cool crisp evenings of fall.

Until then, I'm ready for another dip at the pool! Hope you are all staying cool. Happy Friday!

Stress Busters For the Weary Mom



Stress relief is one hot topic for many moms! Over the last few years, I've earned simple stress management tips for our home that have helped me tremendously. I'm sharing not because I've perfected stress busters, but because I've had so many people ask me how I deal with it!

Of course, my tips are coming from my life as a stay at home mom. I know that many working moms have their own stressors (maybe one of you can chime in!).

1) Get Help When my second was born, I constantly battled fatigue and anxiety. That led to even more stress on our little family. There were many other things going on in the background of our lives, but I realized at the beginning of this year, that something needed to give. I realized I needed to talk to my doctor. While being tired and facing anxiety can be normal parts of life, the depth of what I was feeling was NOT normal. My doctor keyed into the fact that I was low on vitamins, and worked out a game plan for me. I followed her instructions, and the constant fatigue went away almost immediately. Which led to less anxiety. Which led to less stress. It's amazing how our bodies work and rely on intricate details! So my first piece of advice, is to get input on WHY you are so stressed. 

2) Set Boundaries This has been the hardest lesson for me. While I love the idea of attending every event and get together we are invited to, I have realized that it's okay to say "no". There are times when we keep our calendar clear and simply spend time together as a family of four. This allows us time to rest, heal, and bond together. This is also important during your daily routines as a stay at home mom. It's easy for nerves to get frazzled on all accounts! We have a set time each day that we reserve for quiet time. The girls get a special snack and show that is reserved specifically for quiet time. That way it's something they look forward to doing. I like to break quiet time into three things for myself: rest for a few minutes, speed clean and read or write. And of course, coffee. ;)

3) Fresh Air It never ceases to amaze me how fresh air can change attitudes. If I notice the girls getting fussy (or lets be honest, myself getting fussy) we will often grab ice pops and head to the front porch. Sometimes, we all jump on the trampoline or the girls play with their toys outside while I read for a bit in the shade. Regardless of what we do, getting outdoors and changing our scenery helps drastically. 

These are the things that have helped me! What steps do you take to keep stress at bay?

Papaw


My Papaw passed away this morning. I will miss him so much.

I had my grandparents for 30+ years of my life...and it just feels so sad to think of milestones and holidays without them. They were there for everything, always.

Would you pray for our family? It would mean so much.

Our Cottage Farmhouse Living Room


We've been working on our living room for a few months, now. My goal was to incorporate a little bit of English Cottage and Farmhouse style. The biggest change that we've made since moving in was adding wainscoting to our walls. We opted to paint the lower half a solid, pure white. My hope was to lighten up our living room. I think my favorite decorative change, though, was buying buffalo check curtains. I'm kind of obsessed with buffalo check! A few things that helped pull the look together:

  • Neautral  Colors as the base, fun colors for accents! I went with turquoise and light green.
  • Adding buffalo check seems to check off both cottage AND farmhouse style!
  • Adding a few rustic and vintage elements. Namely, the vintage window!
  • And can't of course my Magnolia wreath that gives a nod to Fixer Upper!


We also added the wainscoting to our kitchen/dining and hallway area. It really changed the look and added to depth to each of the rooms.



I have enjoyed having fresh flowers in our home for the majority of summer, but with the heat waves, I think that is coming to a close. So, I'm snapping pictures of my hydrangeas as fast as I can. ;)

Shopping Resources:
Curtains: Bullard Designs
Table Lamps: Tj Maxx
Pillows: Tj Maxx
Scripture Signs: Hobby Lobby
Manolia Wreath: Flea Market
Rustic Frames: Mud Pie

Repin Love:



Also, I love all thing white & blue! Happy Monday, friends. :)

Last Text Message



Last year, when we lost my Grandmother unexpectedly I remember thinking I wish I had something around my home to remember her by.

You see, when I was 14, I lost my Grandma Terri to cancer. I was very close to her, and I remember the grief coming like waves. Every night for weeks, months, and even years, I slept with the blankets that she made me. And now my entire family enjoys snuggling with them at night.

After Mimmie was gone, I wanted a simple reminder of her love that she had for us.

Fast forward a few weeks after her death, I was cleaning out my text messages when I realized I still had the last text that she had ever sent me. She had even included a message from my Papaw, who is now very Ill.

It may seem so trivial, but to me, it meant the world. I saved the image, and even posted it to my Instagram to look back on. I will also have it printed to frame for my gallery wall.

I love that God knows how much we need those little reminders. He is good.

Five Things Friday




Drinking: Ya'll, I've become obsessed with the swirled coffee flavors from Dunkin Donuts. I order an Iced Latte with Caramel Swirl. It is SO good. 

Reading: I had a chance to pick up a few novels from Mardel's. I'm about to dive into another Dee Henderson. Her crime novels are the BEST. 

Watching: Other than Incredibles 2, we haven't watched much TV this week.

Loving: We've been swimming every weekend so far this summer, and it has been wonderful. I don't enjoy the extreme heat, but swimming makes it much more bearable.  

Making: We have a potluck at church this week, so I will most likely make a batch of chocolate chips cookies or brownies.


How was your week? What things are you loving today? 

Family Movie Night: Incredibles 2



We loaded up the girls and headed to the theater for a family movie night. Incredibles 2 was the feature! I may have been a little too excited, because the previous week, I bought matching shirts. I mean seriously, perfect photo op! If only I had found matching shirts for us parents. 😁

I wasn't sure if the girls knew what we meant when we said we were going to the theater. It's been a while since they've been. But, as soon as we got in the car, Evie reminded us that the theater meant Popcorn and a magic show! (She calls movies magic shows, haha).

I was super impressed with the movie. Lot's of funny moments, action, and good old fashioned family jokes between the parents. ❤ More importantly, I love that Disney focused on the heart of family: learning to work through challenges as a unit.

Note: there were two curse words. My kids were too young to catch on, but if they were older we'd have pointed out that those are bad choices and not allowed within our family.

Be sure to check it out!!

Off to plan more movie nights and matching outfits...🎥🍿

Happy Wednesday!

Weekend Recap





We started the weekend off with swimming! My parents live in a resort community where there are a plethora of pools to choose from. This was is so pretty with it's tree lined background. Also, I forgot what a great workout swimming is! I should schedule this into my week on a regular basis.


On Saturday, Evie woke up begging to go to a museum, so we did. This particular children's museum has tons of fun things to do for kids of all ages. I love that she has such a passion to learn and explore already! I'm also looking forward to starting Pre-K with her in the fall, as I've already narrowed down our curriculum.


Then on Sunday we celebrated Josh. He's truly an amazing father, and it's always fun to see the girls interact with him. He hung the stars and the moon in their book. ;) We also had a chance to visit with both of our dad's. The day will filled with lots of fellowship, pizza and more swimming!

It was a fun weekend! Hope you had a lovely one, too. Happy Monday!

My Girl



I feel like I blinked and this little girl changed overnight. Her toddler days are slowly melting into the pre-school stage. She loves to keep up with big sister: She works hard on learning the alphabet, she loves her PJ Masks (Catboy is her favorite) and she would eat chocolate all the day long if she could. She loves to walk around the house roaring like a dinasour (thanks to George from Peppa Pig).

They say she looks like me...but goodness, does she act like her daddy.

She's my wild & precious one. I love her so.

Simple Street Steak Tacos


There's a little whole in the wall taco shop that makes the most mouth watering tacos. I'd eat there every day if I could. I tried my hand at street tacos earlier this week, and they were so easy to make! I love that you can adjust the seasonings any way you want to fit YOUR taste buds.

Easy Steak Street Tacos

2 Cups of sliced fajita cut steak (I buy mine pre-sliced to save time!)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Garlic, chopped
1 Cup Onions, diced

For the sauce:
1 Avocado
1 to 2 tsp. Fresh Lime Juice
Sea Salt & Pepper (to taste)

For the sauce, you'll want to mash & whip the avocado until creamy. Then, add 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh squeezed lime juice. Add sea salt & pepper (start with about half a teaspoon). Set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté garlic & onions until tender. Add steak. Cook until meet is cooked thoroughly. Immediately serve on tortillas with Avocado cream sauce & fresh cilantro. I added a touch of creole seasoning for an added kick.

Hasta luego!

Monday Pretties


Our hydrangeas were late bloomers this year! At first, we thought we may have pruned them back too early thus voiding out this years flowers. Alas, they finally came around!


I love having fresh flowers around the house. Makes me happy! Josh keeps my vases re-stocked. I've also managed to keep my hybrid cactus alive, which I'm pretty proud of. Ha! It's the simple things. ;)

Hope you all had a restful weekend. Happy Monday!

Four


One minute, I'm cradling you in my arms, the next you are climbing trees and twirling in your princess dresses. They say that it goes by so quickly, and I'm inclined to agree. It really does!

I'm so proud of the sweet young lady you are becoming. You have such a passion for learning and being with other people. My social butterfly.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank our Lord that I get to be your mommy.


Things to remember: She loves wearing ballet shoes & jelly sandals. Her favorite foods are cheese pizza, peanut butter sandwiches, Nutella sandwiches, and fruit. She really love popsicles and getting "Ice Cream Corns" (yes she says corns instead of cones...I don't want to correct her, it's too cute!). She is obsessed with Unicorns right now! She is still very much a mommy & daddy's girl, Ella is her BFF, and loves to be with her grandparents and cousins. She is such a little mommy, and has such a tender and sensitive heart.

Happy birthday, sweet girl! I love you.

California Road Trip Part II


When we rented a car while staying in La Jolla, I knew that we would want to drive up and down the coast visiting other areas. But, I have to say, one of the best parts of the trip was an early morning near Shell Beach (still in La Jolla). The color, the other worldly beauty! It honestly felt like I was back in Ireland.


Yes, so much beauty.


Another drive we took was to the Cabrillo National Monument. There are two sections of the area, and the back side was very remote. With views for miles, it felt like we had found the ends of the earth! Breathtaking, really.


The Cabrillo National Monument is part of the US Parks. You can still view/tour the lighthouse that is there. I love history and anything that is considered a "step back in time", so definitely right up my ally. Not to mention, you can get an amazing view of San Diego from that vantage point.


Also, getting to travel alone gives me a little time rekindle my love for photography. I forget how much I enjoy until I take my camera out again!


Pin for reference!


Today




Today, did NOT go as planned.

We were parked downtown when a large work truck ran into our back door while Josh was putting Ella into her car seat. I have to say that was five seconds of...well, you know. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. But, I'm a mom and a wife, and all I could see was my husband and baby girl just a few inches away from what could have been a horrific disaster.

Two Words: Angel Guardians.

I was okay until we got home, and then I had a good cry in the bathroom. Then I went back outside to give the girls popsicles. They were okay. They were happy to be home. I was happy to be home.

I know I try to post positive stuff, but, sometimes, life happens, and you just need to vent.

So ,that's my vent for the day. I'm ready for some R&R for the rest of the weekend!

How To Make Money as A Stay At Home Mom




One of my favorite things about being a work at home mom is that I'm able to create a balanced schedule. I taught myself how to earn an income by working at home long before the kiddos came along.

My goal was a) I wanted to know how to generate income so that I COULD stay home, and b) I knew that my personality would need a creative outlet.

It has been a huge blessing to my family, and for that I am thankful.

How Do I Work From Home?


The first few years that I started working from home I focused on freelance writing. There were ample opportunities through various web sites and it gave me the most flexibility. 

What I Used: Freelancer.com & Textbroker

You can check out these web sites and see if it's a good fit! There are tons of options out there. Pinterest is also a great place to learn about other freelance writing gigs.

Other Ways to Earn Cash at Home


However, my favorite way to earn additional cash isn't so much a job as it is a hobby: consignment sales! I feel like this is such an untapped resource for moms...especially new moms! Very few of my friends take part in this, so I thought I would share a few of the benefits.

Every year, I participate in 2-3 consignment sales. I clean out kids clothes, shoes, toys, books, movies, games, outdoor items, etc. I price according to the sales guidelines. The money I make from each sale then can be used for the next season of clothes, date nights, etc. I earn money and clear out clutter: what's not to love?

I have also used sites like Ebay & ThredUp to earn extra money from time to time, too. 

Have you participated in any of these outlets? If so, I'd love to hear!

Taco Tuesday: Fish Tacos with Garlic Lime Aioli



If I had to eat one meal for the rest of my life...I would pick tacos. I mean, how can you go wrong with tortillas? I don't think you can.

Last week, I made Aioli sauce for our fish tacos, and thy were a hit! The first time I heard someone talk about fish tacos, I thought they were crazy. But, then I had some, and there's no going back. ;)

Also, whoever invented Taco Tuesday can be my friend forever. *wink*

Fish Tacos with Garlic Lime Aioli

2 Tilapia Steaks, cooked to preference
6 Hard Taco Shells
1 Avocado, sliced
1/4 Cup Shredded Red Cabbage
Cilantro, chopped (to taste)

For the Aioli:

1/4 Cup Mayo (use the real thing!)
1-2 teaspoons of lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon Siracha

Chop pre-cooked tilapia. Layer cooked meat inside the hard shells. Bake at 400 for 10 to 15 minutes. Immediately  add cilantro, cabbage and avocado to the tacos. Top with Aioli sauce.

The Royal Wedding...Did you watch?






I had fun watching snippets of the royal wedding via YouTube an Instagram...a few things to note...

I thought her dress was very simple, yet elegant.
The veil was stunning!
I was surprised at how small the bouquet was, yet it was gorgeous!
Overall, everything seemed understated than other royal weddings.

It was fun to watch! I think the girls will enjoy watching playbacks with me throughout the week. I'm tempted to watch Kate & William's wedding again, too. I think their's will always be my favorite. ;)

Five Things Friday



Drinking: This week, I've been sipping on Iced Thai Tea. It's a smooth, fruity drink, and I enjoy it with a splash of cream. It's the perfect afternoon treat!! I'm also obsessed with flavored sparkling waters. 

Reading: I just picked up Louis Lowry's latest republished novel, and read it in a matter of two days. It's a mix of coming of age, learning about life type novel. It was pretty good, but had more "stuff" in it than I would have imagined. 

Watching: Honestly? Unless it's Hawaii-Five-O we haven't watched much TV. We've been outside for HOURS every day this week. It's been fantastic. ;) However, we are hoping to see the latest Avenger's at the theater ASAP.

Listening: The Greatest Showman Soundtrack. Haha. On constant repeat. I need some new summer tunes! Care to share what you've been listening to?

Cooking: This week I made a new taco recipe, and they turned out super yummy. Recipe coming soon!

Happy Friday!!!

Your Guide to La Jolla California


For our anniversary, we wanted a relaxing, extra long weekend. While looking up places to visit in California, I stumbled on the web site for La Jolla, California, and I was sold. We also wanted to rent a convertible. When we arrived in San Diego, we headed to the Payless Car Rental desk, and the young man on duty was extremely helpful. He spent several minutes working out details so we could get the car that we wanted, printed off maps for us, gave us personal recommendations (which ended up being one of our favorite stops!). I wish I had taken time to write the young man's name down, because I was very impressed. In a world where customer service appears to be fading, you REALLY notice companies who go above and beyond. We are new fans to Payless!


We stayed at the La Jolla Cove which was directly across the street from the ocean (stunning views from our balcony). While it was an older hotel, it had been remodeled in a chick beach theme, and the lobby was STUNNING. Besides the fact it smelled like heaven (seriously, I should have asked about the candles they were burning), they had snacks, drinks, a sitting area, and a beautiful fountain. What really sold me on staying there, however, was the fact they offered complimentary breakfast on the roof! So every morning, we sat on the roof taking in views, and enjoying the breakfast. I fell in love with the Mango juice, and yogurt parfaits. Best granola EVER.



Another reason we chose La Jolla is the wildlife that is located directly across the street from the hotel. You can walk right up to the Sea Lions, Seals, and tons of tropical birds. I knew Josh would love it, and I was right! They also have gorgeous cliffs, walkways and beaches to enjoy.


The views were absolutely stunning.


My favorite thing in the whole world is taking walks along the beach, coffee in hand. There's  nothing quite like it, and honestly, it's such a simple tribute to the beauty of God's handiwork.



We took time to visit the SALK institute in La Jolla. My husband works in architecture, so we generally look up cool buildings to see. Oddly enough, I think I was more excited than Josh to see it. It's extremely modern, but very unique. It's worth stopping by for a photo op!


The town is very charming...it's full of boutique stores, art, architecture, coffee shops, and the best Gelato shop we've ever visited. It was also home to one of the best meals, ever! I'll be doing a separate post all on that, too.


We can't wait to visit again, but next time, I think we are gong to make it a family getaway!