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Friday, October 31, 2014

Dandelion Jelly

As I opened up another jar of jelly today I realized that I never shared with you my new discovery this past spring! As dandelions popped up all over my yard in early spring I googled Dandelion Wine (something my Grandma had talked about) and saw that I wouldn't have enough to make that, but stumbled upon dandelion jelly instead.

I was intriqued. It sounded like it would be gross. Yet, all reports I read made it clear that it tastes like honey. I figured I would give it a try.

We picked a huge mixing bowl full of dandelion blossoms (no stems) in an area that is not sprayed or used by animals. I rinsed them and spread them out on a towel on the kitchen counter. Several hours later I separated the yellow petals from the green part (I started by cutting off the base but finally just started to pull the middle out with my fingers which was much faster). Discard all green parts.

Pour enough boiling water over the petals to cover and let sit several hours or overnight. After brewing you will have a yellow colored "dandelion tea". Pour through a strainer lined with a coffee filter into a bowl. Discard the petals as all you are using is the "tea liquid".

You will need: 3 cups dandelion tea, 4 1/2 c. sugar, 2 T. lemon juice, 1 box powdered pectin

Add dandelion tea, lemon juice, 1 box of pectin into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil.  Add your sugar and bring back to a boil.  Continue boiling 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and fill jars. Process in a hot water bath canner for 10-15 minutes.
I think this made about six jars. I am hoarding the last few in the cabinet because it seriously is very delicious! It does taste similar to honey and is great on toast, biscuits, and English Muffins.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

S.O.S Challenge

I haven't done a good job taking photos of the items I have purged, but I have continued on with my challenge (rid the house of at least 5 items a day).

I have a reuseable bag that I keep in my closet and as I find items to sell I stick them in there. I have managed to fill it three times in the past two weeks to take to my aunt's consignment shop. 

I also dropped a box of toys off at the charity shop in town before they closed for the winter and another stuffed garbage bag of clothes to the clothes closet at the church (where they give out clothing for free to families in need). I didn't count each item but guesstimate that it is well over 100 items total. 100 things. Out. Of. The. House.

It feels good. As I mentioned before, we hope to buy a house with some land in the future and pairing down now will help us in the long run when we want to put the house on the market and when we get to the actual point of packing and moving. 

35 items a week. Donated, thrown away, or sold. It's really not a hard challenge, and I want to continue this trend until I've paired down to an organized, simplified house. Still a long way to go! :)

Rude Dude's Book of Food

Fun, crazy, comic-like books are all the rage with kids these days. Our house is filled with Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Baby Mouse, and the like so I figured that the Rude Dude's Book of Food by Tim J. Myers would be a bit hit as well. I was not disappointed.

Rebecca read this within 24 hours and said "Did he write any other books?" Yep, she enjoyed it!

What I like best about this book is not only is it funny and interesting but it also teaches you A LOT about food! Everything from food advertising, where chocolate comes from and how it evolved to the yummy treat we know it for today, and so much more.

For an adult it's a little like reading a book written by someone with ADD...it jumps around a lot. But, I think that is why kids like these types of books, especially boys. It follows their line of thinking. Fun and educational is always welcome in our house!

Disclaimer: This book was sent by Familius in exchange for my honest review.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tables in the Wilderness

I had high hopes for this book, by Preston Yancey, but just couldn't get into it. In fact, I stopped reading about 1/4 way into it as I was muddling my way through the pages and then just realized "I don't care about reading any more!".

I hate to give a book a bad review, because something I dislike may be another person's favorite book. The fact is, maybe I just didn't need a book like this in my point in life. This book is about growing up in a religious family, then loosing the sense of God in early adulthood, and finally finding Him again. This would be a good book for someone who is feeling that silence from God and having doubts. 

The issue for me is that the book reads more like a blog than a book, which isn't a problem except for the fact that it was so disjointed that I couldn't follow along. Good for blog posts, maybe, but not a book where one wants to read a continual story.

Also, while Preston is a good writer he tries to be too poetic, describing things in too much detail. I wanted to scream "Just get to the point already!". Sometimes less really is more.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Shark Tank Meets Main Street

Whenever I've caught an episode of Shark Tank I am always enthralled by it. I love seeing the business ideas people come up with - some are laughable and some are awesome! It helps you get into the minds behind products and also helps you see things from a business perspective.

U.S. Cellular has partnered with Shark Tank to create "Shark Tank Meets Main Street" to support small businesses. U.S. Cellular brought casting calls to three major cities in America and are now hosting a contest called Shadow Shark Tank, where one lucky winner will be able to "look into the shark tank" (fly to LA to sit in a VIP seat to watch the pitch process, eat dinner with the cast, and pick their brains about business).

For those Shark Tank fans, you can also visit here to learn more about behind the scenes casting process, what happens to the businesses that have been funded, and more! 

And don't forget, if you haven't spoken to your children/teens about cell phone usage, safety, and etiquette, now is the perfect time to print out the parent/child agreement and have a heart to heart talk with them.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


*Today I am thankful for my mama, who wrote through her grief and are helping others through theirs. Her book, Refined By Fire (by Mary Potter Kenyon), was released yesterday!!!
*I'm thankful to everyone who came out to celebrate at the book launch party! It was a wonderful mixture of people and I knew it was something my dad would have organized had he been here. 
*I'm thankful for all the guys who came out to the Winthrop Library in celebration of Star Wars Reads Day, but also in memory of Jacob. All of them are awesome people!

*I'm thankful that my brother and his girlfriend (and their doggie) are okay after their house had an electrical fire last night. We are still waiting to hear the extent of the damage; this was my Grandma's house so holds many memories to us all. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Patch

Saturday was warm and sunny and just too nice to stay inside. So that means we headed to the pumpkin patch.
Climbing the hay bales, sliding, tire swings, hay rides...
Pictures with their new friend Gus (this picture cracks me up - I have no idea what Joe was pointing at and Amy was staring at!)
Amy picked out a pumpkin the perfect size for her.

The kids just love it and are already begging to go back this week. We shall choose a day when school is in session so that we have the place to ourselves! :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October IPSY Review

I always get excited when I see the pink IPSY mailer in my mailbox each month!

The theme this month is "Beauty Candy" and the colors are just brillant!
Each month there are about 20 variations of products and your bag will contain 4-5 of those.
This month my bag contained:

*Ecru acacia Protein BB Cream for hair (Can't wait to try this out!)

*Jesse's Girl Mineralized Baked Powder Eye Shower (what a beautiful color!)

*Figs & Rouge Hand Cream (love this!)

*City Color Be Matte Lipstick in Cappuccino

*Skyn Iceland Cleansing Cloths (love having these on hand!)

*An awesome makeup bag

I was so happy with this month. At just $10 a month it's an amazing way to experience different types of beauty products on a budget. And a fun little surprise each month! 

Disclaimer: Referral link included in post.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


*It's rainy, grey, and cold. One of the trees outside my window is already bare of it's leaves. It went from green, to yellow, to bare within just a few days. 

*My newest Hip Mama Magazine arrived, with my article in it. :) This is a very radical, alternative parenting magazine, so don't click the link if your senses are assaulted by that type of thing.  

*My children are turning into string beans! All of a sudden the sleeves and length of Becca's shirts are too short. And Joe's jeans have become capris! No wonder they have been eating us out of house and home. 

*Hot tea, candles (today it is Pomegranate Cider from Yankee Candle), and piles of books have been on my "must-do" list! There is an upside to the dreary Fall days. :)

*My S.O.S challenge is still coming along nicely. Another update on that later this week.

*I need to work on another "Favorite Things" post. I'm always finding new favorite things. What is your new favorite thing this month? (Something pumpkin flavored, perhaps?!)

*My Bible Study this week is on friendship. Real friendship. It's a topic I am focusing on for an essay for a book, so came at the perfect time. Funny how that works sometimes, isn't it?

*An article about Jacob, Star Wars, and friends is in a local paper this week.

*Enter to win a copy of my mama's newest book, Refined by Fire,  set to be released next week!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Experiencing the Loss of a Family Member

Who wants to have the need for a book like this? Yet, in our lifetimes we will all experience a loss of some type and Experiencing the Loss of a Family Member by H. Norman Wright is a very good resource for anyone stuck in the mire of grief. From losing a parent, child, sibling, and even pet to helping children with their grief or knowing what to say to a friend.

I got a lot out of the losing a child chapter and was so glad to see that even a year out all my feelings are normal and just a part of grief. The feelings of fog, isolation, memory loss, passing of time. Yep, it's all there and it's all normal. The fact that H. Norman Wright lost a child makes it an even better resource...I know that he knows exactly what I am experiencing. I plan to purchase his book Missing the Child You Love.

I plan to pass this on to someone who experiences a loss in their family as I feel it is helpful to anyone grieving.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

365 Pocket Prayers for Mothers

This is my new go-to devotional! It's a tiny little leather bound book that is perfect to slip into a purse, diaper bag, book bag, or drawer for daily scripture reading and encouragement. 

It can be read straight through (once a day for a year) or searched through for the perfect scripture for a particular day. Touching on subjects such as satisfaction, grief, reward, mercy, refreshment, intimacy, and so much more (literally 365 topics!). All topics that mamas need encouragement in from time to time.

Each devotional is a page or less so can be quickly read and then pondered on throughout the day. The days lesson includes a Bible verse as well as a paragraph or two of wisdom on one particular topic.  I find even just grasping a piece of God's word in the morning can make the whole day run a bit smoother. 

Once I've spent a year with this book I plan to pass it to another mama...and hope it goes through many mama's hands and blesses them in the process.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

Lots of randomness today! 

*I'm burning a "Candy Corn" Prize Candle and it smells delicious in here. Not like candy corn, but some type of baked goodie. Delicious and very October-like!

*I'm halfway finished with Christmas shopping for the kids, and it's not even the middle of October. This "Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read" is awesome and easy! I also have a fun idea for handmade gifts for my family and friends, I just need to get some supplies ordered soon.

*Do you need some Fall/Winter clothing for your kiddos? Finish up clothes shopping online at Moxie Jean! With this link, only available for a few days yet (expires Oct. 15th), you can get $15 off your first order (and shipping is free over $50!). You can see my previous review here. I've never had a bad experience with them and there customer service is the best! Halloween costumes were just listed too, along with coats, winter wear, and boots!

*The 4 winners of the NuNaturals packages were randomly drawn by Rafflecopter and are: Babsi Bee, Kathy, Elizabeth S, and Antonia M. All have been contacted and the packages will be sent out soon! Thank you for entering!

*I'm dropping several subscription boxes. :( Birchbox, which I loved, is the next to go. I'm still keeping PopSugar and Ipsy for sure though!

I'm following Jennifer for Thursday Thoughts!

Disclaimer: Referral link included in post.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Week 2 S.O.S Update

I was a mean, green, cleaning machine this weekend. I worked on the upstairs and pulled things out of closets, drawers, and from under beds. I washed the carpet in each room. I threw a giant bag of garbage away.

And then I purged some more. Ignore the dust on my car (time to head to the car wash!) and look at the two reusable bags filled with items for the consignment shop. Plus a garbage bag filled with clothes (and whatever wasn't taken at the consignment shop) which was dropped off at the clothes closet at a local church (free clothing for area residents in need).  

I already have another bag started for the clothes closet and a box of toys/books almost ready to go to the local charity shop. I'd say there were 10 things taken to the consignment shop at 40 things taken to the clothes closet, along with the huge garbage bag of stuff I threw away. So once again, I've exceeded my weekly goal of 35 items out of the house! 

Yay me!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

InScribed Series

This past Spring, when I received the beginning of the InScribed Series to review ("Living So That", "Amazed and Confused", "Dive Deeper", "Leaving Ordinary") I fell in love with these awesome devotionals/journals.

I was excited to be asked to review the three new ones this fall.  

Barren Among the Fruitful by Amanda Hope Haley is about Navigating infertility with hope, wisdom, and patience. I flipped through this book and hope that the wise words inside will give peace to women who are facing this struggle. I can't really review it myself as I haven't had to face this issue but am passing it along to a friend who has.

Just Rise Up! by Sarah Francis Martin is a Call to make Jesus famous. This is a book that helps us surrender to God's leading and fulfill His purpose for our life. I think all of us, especially mothers lost in the busyness of daily life, can use a little nudge in this direction. 
Inseparable by Ashley Linne is about Who I am, was, and will be in Christ. It boils down to seeing ourselves as God sees us and looking to Him for approval, not the world. In a world where we are judged by our appearance, financial status, and quite frankly - by ourselves much too harshly. It's a great reminder to look through His eyes, at ourselves and others.

Disclaimer: These books were given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Girls

We celebrated Becca's 11th birthday on Saturday.
I can't believe that I'm the mama of an 11 year old. It seems as though she was just a baby and here she is a pre-teen.  She is such a sweet girl and a big helper. She loves to read and write just like her mama!

We celebrated low key. She got to go shopping, pick up cupcakes, and choose where to eat for lunch. We spent the rest of the day home together as a family. The very best kind of birthdays, I think.

And Miss Amy. This is why it's so much fun to buy cute clothes!
Boden, how much I love you, let me count the ways. I was waiting for fall to arrive just so she could wear this pinnie. Hedgehogs, leaves, mustard yellow? What is not to love?!

Disclaimer: Referral code included in post.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Weekend Links

A great post about stay-at-home parents.

A thought provoking article on children's clothing. Why such a difference between boy's vs. girl's? 

It's really not all the boy's responsibility. A different perspective.

Curl up with a bottle of wine and this movie. It's a great little "mommy moment", and just $1.27 from Redbox! A bit silly but lots of fun! 

I am off to enjoy the day with the new eleven year old in our house. Happy Birthday, Becca!  

Friday, October 3, 2014


I loved, loved, loved Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan so have been looking forward to his new book, Food; A Love Story ever since I heard about it coming out!

This book is a laugh out loud, cheer me up on a bad day, I never want it to end type of book! Maybe it's because I love food, but I could relate so well to everything that Jim jokes about. Reading his book made me hungry for a doughnut. And some cheese. And food in general.

I like how he can be funny without being crude or vulgar. He has clean comedy, which is rare in the comedy business. He talks a lot about his family too and you can tell that he is a real family man.

I started this book the evening that it arrived. I really wanted to finish it that night. I also wanted to savor every bite (ha, I made a funny!) so I eked it out to a three day stretch of reading. I'm sad that it is over and am already hoping that he writes a third book. Who thought that one could write 340 pages about food and their love of it? Jim Gaffigan managed to do so, all while staying interesting AND funny!

Gosh, I'm already contemplating reading it again!

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Halloween Crafting

I wanted to do some fall decorating, though on a budget, this year and the best way of doing that is by making your own. I'm trying to also think outside the box and involve the kids as much as possible.

I had picked up a bundle of window branches at a garage sale for 50 cents. The kids painted them orange and black. We stuck them in vases that we already had, filled with black and orange strips of construction paper. We made ghosts out of tissues and hung them with dental floss. Joe even added some "dental floss spider webs" to his, which was cute. 

This whole project only involved the cost of the willow branches as we had everything else on hand. We've moved them to the buffet as Amy kept bothering them by climbing onto the table and I must say that it puts a little extra "Fall" into the air!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cut the Sugar!

If you are trying to cut sugar out of your diet you may be miffed by the few, and mostly artificial, products on the market. It's hard to cook, bake, and eat healthy when everything these days seems to be artificial.

Which is why I love NuNatural products and was thrilled to sample and review a few of their new items! 
Their Stevia is 100% natural and best of all is non-bitter (I was turned off by Stevia previously by a very bitter and nasty after taste...NuNatural Stevia does not have this!). There are so many options to choose from too...packets (perfect for coffee or tea or a sprinkle on foods), liquid, powder, and now their simple syrup.
The syrup has become a new favorite in our house, especially the cocoa and cocoa mint. This can be used in so many ways but in our house a quick glass of chocolate milk or an ice cream topping is our favorite use for it. The store bought counter parts are filled with high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial flavor, and a bunch of unpronounceable things. I'm going to experiment with this to come up with some awesome baked goodies as well.

The new NuStevia Liquid Extracts are amazing as well! These are actual extracts of lemon, orange, peppermint, cherry, and vanilla! Not only are they easy for flavoring your water (think Crystal Light without the chemicals and colors!), but also other beverages and for all your baking needs. Can you imagine cupcake frosting made with NuStevia Liquid Cherry Vanilla?! Or Christmas mints made from their peppermint liquid?! Poppy seed bread drizzled with an icing made with the orange liquid? 

I've been sampling these products since August and am only at the beginning of my ideas of what to make with these. You can basically transform your snacking, baking, and cooking needs with these sweeteners. Think holiday baking coming up! I hope to showcase some of my future creations on here (yes, I need to get back into posting more recipes!).

You can save 15% on NuNaturals orders by using code BLG1214

4 of you lucky readers can win a Prize Package from NuNaturals just by entering the Rafflecopter below! Each winner will receive: one bottle of the Vanilla Stevia Liquid,  a 50 pkt box of NuStevia White Stevia Powder Packets, PLUS a bottle of NuStevia no carbs blend, and a bottle of cocoa syrup. With a retail value of  $50.00 , plus a free bonus product! Open to readers worldwide; P.O. Boxes not allowed. Come back daily to win, contest ends on October 9th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
  Disclaimer: Products given to me by NuNaturals in exchange for my honest review. Product giveaway supplied by NuNaturals.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


We awoke to a morning that definitely feels like the start to October.
I felt like oatmeal and tea on this cold morning so made us some steel-cut oats with maple syrup, bananas, and cinnamon.  A hot cup of tea really hit the spot too.

While I'm not one for selfies, nor pictures of myself in general!, I did get my hair done yesterday and so snapped a photo.
I never straighten my own hair because it takes so much time, but like the way it looks when it is straightened! And I'm loving my new caramel highlights.

I managed to sneak away for that hair appointment yesterday, lunch with my mom and aunt, and go to Bible study in the evening. Hubby was off from work yesterday, which allowed me to do all that, but I get the sense that he no longer thinks staying at home with the kids all day is relaxing and easy. It's about time he figured that out! ;)


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