Love thy neighbor. Unless he’s gay?

Social media has been blowing up all week over the supreme court ruling allowing same-sex marriage. 90% of the time, I attempt to just keep my head low and my mouth shut when it comes to taboo subjects. Why? Because, SOMEONE will always be offended by what I have to say. It’s no secret that I am a Christian woman, my thoughts are fairly conservative on moral issues. I’m absolutely horrified by what some of my “Christian” friends are posting about the subject. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs but at what cost to the feelings of fellow human beings? I try not to delete fb friends for their beliefs and/or choice in sin because it’s not my place to judge them. This week however, I had to delete a few folks when I read some seriously horrible things that they wrote about the situation. I don’t know why any human being would feel the need to say such hateful things about another group of human beings. I can only blame complete ignorance. I’ll try to make this short and sweet…

Do you have sin in your life? I can personally say that despite my faith and conviction for Christ, I have still knowingly sinned.

Cheated on your significant other? Even THOUGHT about cheating on your significant other? Looked at pornographic materials or watched a pornographic movie? Have you lusted after someone other than your spouse? Had sex before marriage? These are ALL forms of sexual sin. Our society packages sexual sin with a pretty little bow and makes it all seem alright and as Christians, we buy into the fact that what we are doing is so much different than homosexuality. We’ve made homosexuality the greatest sin. We’ve got Christian women going to see movies like 50 shades of gray and Magic Mike and their husbands being okay with it because it’s “just a movie” but not seeing that those movies are full of sexual sin! I haven’t seen either of them to speak from personal experience but I know what they are about and I gotta tell you, they are oooooooooozing with sin and temptation! Guard your heart ladies and know that Satan uses all sorts of ways to attack you spiritually. Guys, there’s nudity flowing through media today. You’re frequenting restaurants and bars that boast scantily clad women in bikinis, crop tops, and booty shorts bringing you your wings and beer. Hell, you’re even having your hair cut by women wearing shorts the size of panties and shirts so tight and short they leave little to the imagination. In today’s marriage, pornography, and strip clubs, and risqué movies are just okay.

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28

Remember that ladies and gentlemen!

But I’m not just talking about sexual sins here folks. We sin every.single.day but somehow, we dull down our own sins and say, “well, at least I’m not gay!”. I’m not saying homosexuality isn’t a sin, because the bible clearly tells us it is. The bible tells us not to do a lot of things, but we still do them.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18

Y’all, you know we’ve ignored this little tidbit of advice a time or two! hahahaha I kid but really. There are different levels of sin of course but sin is sin and each sin causes us to fall short of what God wants for us. Envision if you will that our lives, as Christians, are a target. In the center, at the bullseye, is God, a perfect sinless day. The outer rings are different levels of sin. Each day, we go out with our arrows and we aim for the center but we don’t make it. Our arrows hit different rings each time. We may get close to the center some days and we may barley make the target at all on others but we NEVER actually hit the center. Some people get closer than we do, some not at all but in the end, none of us hits the bullseye. What’s my point here? We are ALL sinners, so unless you’re sinless, shut your mouth and stop being so hateful! Have we as Christians become so offended by the sin of others that we forgotten completely that God commands us to love Him AND love others? He never ever EVER says Love thy neighbor, unless he’s gay. Our job isn’t to judge others, it’s to love them. We will ALL be judged for our sins when our time comes. I want to encourage you today to read Romans 2 and to remember that judging others and condemning them for their sin isn’t your job and may actually be keeping you from the glory of God. You don’t have to believe in gay relationships or support gay marriage but you certainly have to love God’s people. Stop the division and the hate and just love one another. I want to remind you that many of these loving people you are condemning to hell, love the Lord too.

To my friends who are part of the LBGT community, I deeply apologize for the hatred and backlash you have received by the Christian community and I hope it will not leave a bad taste in your mouth for the church as a whole. God loves ALL his children! ❤

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Today’s youth group-tomorrow’s adults!

I sit in the same section every Sunday at church. On the far right 1 row behind the teenagers/youth. Some people are annoyed by them but not me, I’m absolutely fascinated by them. Something about sitting behind them encourages me and gives me hope for the future. Why? Because it’s a place where otherwise macho jock teenage boys will hug each other as brothers in Christ. It’s a place where teens will huddle around a friend laying hands on one another in prayer. It’s a place where the popular trendy looking girls embrace the not so fashionable ones as their sisters. Watching teens with arms extended high to the Lord fills my cup. They aren’t ashamed of their faith, they embrace it. They don’t sink into their seats for fear of looking “uncool”, they jump, they shout, they sing, they dance, they praise! These kids aren’t here because their parents dragged them there, these kids are truly on fire for the Lord and it shines! This is encouraging to me because the world has set them up for spiritual failure. Everything on television, in music, movies, and magazines seems to be advertising sin. Satan entices our children with every temptation that is meant to drag them down to the fiery pits of hell with him. He wraps that sin up in a beautiful red ribbon and it’s hard to resist, especially when you aren’t well equipped. My girls and my nieces aren’t teenagers yet but I know that day is right around the corner for us. I’m so blessed to have many amazing teenage girls that I’ve adopted as my nieces over the years. I’ve loved watching them grow into beautiful, amazing, intelligent, caring, compassionate, God-fearing young women. My heart breaks for them when I see them struggling with some of the “normal” teenage girl dramas and heartaches. I try to reach out and encourage them to the best of my ability because it’s MY responsibility as cooky adoptive aunt to pour into their lives. It’s MY responsibility to show them the love that God has for them. There are a million and one people and influences swirling around them daily pulling them in the wrong direction, giving them destructive “advice”, pressuring them to sin so they need just as many influences lifting them up and encouraging them in the word. We are living in a world where kids who don’t know the Lord are committing unspeakable crimes against other teens and themselves. Our high schools are filled with young pregnant girls, STD’s, drugs, suicide, crime, teenagers with no accountability for their actions whatsoever. I want to encourage each and every one of you whether you have teenagers of your own or not to lift our youth up in prayer daily. Pray a hedge of protection over them and their friends. Pray that they will be so filled with the spirit of the Lord that satan can not sway them. Pour into their lives and be a good listener. Drop unexpected encouraging texts and emails. They need to know that the price of sin is death and that Jesus brings life. Remember that today’s teenagers, are the leaders of tomorrow. If we don’t cover these kids in the blood of the lamb and teach them right from wrong, if we don’t nurture and encourage a Christ centered life, we are not only doing them an injustice but we are sabotaging the future of our nation, of our world. Our teenage girls are especially under attack. Society tells them they aren’t pretty enough, skinny enough, popular enough. Society will teach them that they need the love and attention of a boy to make them feel complete. But, we need to teach them that they are the daughter of a King and their heavenly father thinks they are beautiful and perfect and loves them more completely than any high school boy could even fathom. It’s up to us to raise and encourage God fearing women who will go on to raise and encourage another generation of God fearing women. It’s up to us to pour into those teenage boys and show them how to love and respect a woman just as their heavenly father loves the church, his bride. It’s important that we teach them to love others despite their differences. Schools are filled with so many cliques and so much division, we must teach them to close in those gaps and come together as a family of Christ sharing one simple goal. Love God, love others. Rejoice in the truth and not delight in evil. If we all pour into these tweens/teens and show them to follow Christ, help them fall in love with Him and his word, we can change the world. These kids are our future. Invest in your future! ❤ Be the light! ❤

For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.
Proverbs 11:14

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:5

Motherhood

I want to start with a bit of an apology or a disclaimer if you will, I normally proof read my blogs briefly before I post because I know I can often become long winded or stray from the subject but I didn’t do that here. I just wanted to express exactly what I was feeling without any regards to run ons or subject changes! You’ve been warned.

When I held P (now 10) in my arms for the very first time, I knew being a mom was my calling. I mean, I had always known it but it really reiterated it. Yep, this was what I was meant to do. I was absolutely made to be a mother. I closed my eyes and envisioned my future as a glowing, nurturing, patient, maternal goddess. My entire future glowed before me. Soccer games, cheerleading, PTA meetings, family pictures. Yes, life was going to be picturesque, I could feel it. Even through the pain of my c-section and the late night feedings and poop explosions I trucked on towards the prize. The mother-of-year-prize; as though it was a tangible engraved trophy. I attended all her preschool parties with handmade treats and personalized party favors in tow. I scrapbooked every glorious little detail of her life in elaborate hand cut spreads with corner rounded photos. When I learned I was pregnant again, I just knew I would be an even better mother this time around. After all, I had some experience under my belt now, I was practically a pro! But when T came along, I learned I wasn’t as super as I thought. She was a difficult baby. She pretty much hated anyone but me and refused to be bottle fed at all. Pumped milk was not her thing, she wanted it fresh from the source! lol So class parties and other social events sort of took a back seat to little sister. I felt spread so thin I was sure both of my girls were suffering. By the time T was around 2 and I finally felt like I had a foothold on motherhood again, Dave and I begin talking about trying for our third and final baby. We thought since we were “trying” this time, it may take a while but in no time at all we were expecting again. This pregnancy was exciting to me because we were better prepared for it. It was expected, we were excited, the girls were excited, and we were in a better place financially to accommodate a new little blessing than previously. I was older, more experienced, and completely ready to take this on. After all, I had mastered being a mother of two, how much more difficult could a third child be? A was a pretty difficult child right out of the gate. She was colicky and was seriously attached to her mama. She did like Daddy much more than T did as a baby so that helped. Dave was much more helpful this time around too. He changed diapers and would offer to keep her so I could go to the store alone occasionally. But 3 kids into my parenting journey, I don’t exactly feel like a pro. I am NOT president of the PTA like I envisioned, I don’t even attend meetings. I have a hard time keeping their school and sporting events straight so I’m always late or confused in someway. We haven’t had family pictures taken in years. I’m not a glowing maternal goddess. I’m out of shape and stressed and overwhelmed most days. I feel like I’m drowning and failing in so many ways. I spend most of my days questioning every parenting decision I make and reflecting on every poor choice I made in the day: I text while I was at dinner with them, I fed them chick-fil-a because I didn’t feel like cooking, I didn’t bathe them last night because I was beyond ready for them to go to bed, they watched tv for more than an hour today, I lost my patience, I yelled, I skipped a bedtime story, we didn’t wake up in time for church, we didn’t pray together before bed. Did I spend enough time with them? Did I spend TOO much time with them? Did I let them be individuals and develop their own opinions or am I forcing mine on them? Have I scared them for life? Am I crushing their little spirits and forever changing who they are? Will they need therapy as adults? You laugh, but you know you’ve all thought the same thing about your parenting skills. Some days I hide in my closet and cry because I’m so disappointed in myself as a mother. Our pediatrician constantly compliments me on how well behaved, polite, intelligent, and wonderful our girls are. She praises Dave and I for our parenting every time we visit. Recently, Dave and I treated the girls to a nice dinner at Saltgrass steakhouse to celebrate P & T both being selected as students of the month at school when an elderly gentleman sitting at the table behind us came over as they were leaving and shook Dave’s hand. He said he just wanted to stop by and congratulate us on being wonderful parents. He said he and his wife had been watching and they were so blown away by how polite the girls were and how they just sat there sweetly the entire dinner. They were never rambunctious, never threw a fit, and were absolutely beautiful as well. Dave beamed with pride and the girls sweetly smiled and said thank you before waiving goodbye. Stuff like this literally happens to us every time we leave the house but still I don’t feel like a good parent. I still am overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and failure. This weekend was a great weekend for our family. Thursday I attended a muffins with Mom breakfast at the older girl’s elementary school and then a few hours later attended a muffins with Mom event at A’s mother’s day out program. I loved watching them very proudly present me little handmade cards and gifts as a Mother’s Day present. Friday morning, I attended another early morning breakfast event at the school because P had been chosen for a character award. Each time I attend an event at the girl’s school I am bombarded by reports of praise from their teachers, administrators, peers, and other parents. I cried as a letter from her teacher explaining why she was chosen was read aloud choked full of wonderful words of praise like “P is selfless, generous, and there is not a student in my classroom who thinks anything but the best of her. On my own bad days, I can think of a student like her and realize why I love to do this job.”. She goes on to say “Her kindness and constant enthusiasm will be something I remember for many years to come.”. Wow! Included in her award papers was a wonderful collage of sweet comments that each of her peers had contributed about her. “P is a problem solver and I have never seen her with a frown”, “You are a sweet, nice, cute, and generous girl and will be my best friend forever”, “You are awesome! You are fast, nice, gold hearted, a good friend, and very good at soccer”, “She is one of the coolest and nicest people I have ever met”. Were amongst some of my favorite things her classmates had to share about her. I am so so proud of this amazing little girl but I can’t take the credit for it. Even with all this praise, I can’t take credit. She’s wonderful all on her own and I still felt like a failure when I fed her fast food for dinner that night. The next morning, our whole family attended a city wide “Character March” at one of the local high schools. Star students from each school in the city were brought on stage and recognized for being students of impeccable character. This year there were about 18 students out of the nearly 500 enrolled students at their school selected to be students of the month and of those 18, my 2 children were BOTH selected! They were the only set of siblings recognized that day. T’s teacher said about her: “She always has a kind word for her friends and encourages others. She usually goes the extra mile to help teachers and students alike.” She added, “She is a great example to her peers daily and her genuine and caring heart makes her a friend to all.” We finished off the morning with food and fun at the stadium and then enjoyed an evening of pizza and playing with friends. At the end of the night when I kept my children up waaaaaay past their bedtimes and then became irritated when A was extremely cranky and whiney I felt like a failure again. My point in all of this was not to brag on my children, (okay, maybe a little bit, but they truly deserve some recognition), it was to say that no matter what the parenting circumstances are, no matter how other people view you as a parent, no matter how well behaved and kind hearted your kids may be, you will always be your own worst critic. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I became a mother and something I will probably always struggle with from time to time. This morning when I was surprised with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, jewelry from one of my favorite stores, donuts, and hand drawn Mother’s Day cards before church, I cried. Reading the sweet words on the card my husband had selected for me and the wonderful note he wrote at the bottom made my heart swell because I realized something for the first time in all of my years as a mom. I realized that I am enough. I’m not perfect, I’m often impatient, I become overwhelmed, sometimes my kids eat fast food, but I’m doing my very best and you know what? That’s a pretty good start. God didn’t intend for us to be perfect mothers. He intended us to lean on him with faithful prayer. He intended for us to go to Him for counsel and guidance and to raise our children to love him. Can I tell you something moms? You are enough for those babies. Someday when they’re grown, they won’t remember that time we were too tired for a bedtime story, they will remember the love we had for them, the discipline they received when they were disobedient, the lessons we teach them, and most importantly how we instilled in them a love for the Lord.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I find so much encouragement in the word knowing that the Father is with me co-parenting and picking up the slack when I can’t go on. I find hope in His promises for me as a mother and although I know I will always fall short in some area as a mother, I know those sweet, beautiful, amazing, precious babies of mine love their imperfect, absent minded, goofy, flawed mommy more than I deserve. They are truly the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. They try my patience and drive my absolutely batty some days but this wonderful amazing motherhood journey has been the greatest ride of my life!

Proverbs 31:28-29 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things but you surpass them all.

Thank you Lord for loving me so completely despite my many flaws. Thank you for trusting me with these 3 amazing little angels. Thank you for giving me a God fearing mother as an example to myself and my children and for the many amazing mothers in my life. I pray for extra strength for my fellow mommies who are struggling with the same feelings of inadequacy and failure today. Less of us and more of you Lord.

Happy Mother’s Day Mamas! ❤

Reading nook fun

Our oldest daughter is severely dyslexic.  She’s struggled with reading for years and finally as she nears the end of 4th grade, she seems to be reading on level and actually enjoying books rather than dreading reading time.  I wanted to really nurture her newfound love of reading as well as that of her little sisters so I decided we needed a designated reading area.  I initially planned on a cute little teepee or something in the corner of the playroom with pillows and blankets (hint: hobby lobby is now carrying super cute teepees for $100 and you can use a coupon!) but our playroom looks over our living room and kitchen so it isn’t always the quietest of places.  Then it hit me!  The “secret” closet under the stairs.  The door is in the laundry room and it’s pretty quiet with the exception of the lull of the washer/dryer when it’s on.  We were using it as storage for our cleaning supplies and some boxes of Christmas decorations.  The girls and I got started on clearing it out and moving the boxes up to the attic.  We are so pleased with the way it turned out and it’s been used daily since.  Aside from the little book rack and a new rug, it cost me next to nothing as we used items we already had around the house.  

The only rules are to be quiet and have fun.  Everyone has to pick a quiet activity while in there, doesn’t necessarily have to be reading.  

   
 

The reading lounge seating is actually an old ottoman top that no longer matches my living room.  It’s padded so pretty comfy to sit on and the back is a rolled piece of foam for a bed we had laying around.  I had an extra set of queen size sheets that I used to cover  both items and I used a little duct tape to secure them to the bottom without having to actually cut or sew anything.  They’ve held up great so far!  We had the battery operated lanterns and pennant banner leftover from a party and I got the rug from garden ridge on clearance for under $20.  The cloth book rack is from Walmart.com.  It arrived in days and was inexpensive.  I used chalk pens to doodle a Dr. Suess quote on a chalkboard we already had and hung it for decor.  

  

I wanted some color on the walls but didn’t want to commit to paint so I was ecstatic to find the little circle decals on clearance for $4 at target.  

  
We filled the area with quiet activities like magnets and magnet boards, (an oil drip pan from the auto part store and cookie sheets from dollar tree), I-spy bottles we made a few years ago, and books.

  
We got the idea from Pinterest of course and the girls love them!  Super easy and fun project.  They’re made using voss water bottles, rice, and little trinkets from around the house.  We took photos of the items before putting them in the rice, printed them out, laminated, and numbered them and the bottles as a key.  They use dry erase markers to mark off the items as they find them.  

  
The girls aren’t allowed to have electronic devices upstairs because I like to be able to monitor anything with internet capability so we created an “iStation” with all our iPads, iPods, and innotabs.  We added headphones so that game and electronic stories didn’t disturb others enjoying the quiet space.  We had such a fun time creating this reading nook together and the girls love having a secret quiet hideaway to unwind and enjoy a good story.  Can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!  

Memories…

pho·to·jour·nal·ism
ˌfōdōˈjərnəˌlizəm/
noun
the art or practice of communicating news by photographs

Okay, okay so photos of my kids and our life may not exactly be “news” but they do tell a story. I’m sure my friends on social media get sick and tired of me flooding their news feed with a bazillion photos of my kids, especially in the last few months. What can I say? My kids are cute and they’re always doing cute things. I’m proud of them, sue me! Sorry, not sorry. lol Imagine all the photos I take and DON’T post! There was a time not so long ago that I didn’t take my camera anywhere. It’s big, bulky, and heavy so if I was going to snap a photo, I relied on my trusty iPhone camera to capture the moment. Fine in a pinch for a quick snapshot but the problem with iPhone photos is that they are great for Instagram and other social media sites for quick posting but in reality, they are grainy and poor quality. Really how often do you print your iPhone photos? When my mother in law passed in August and we were searching for photos for the slideshow for her services, I didn’t have a single photo of her with my kids that wasn’t a grainy cell phone photo. I can’t get that time back. I will never have those moments back. Why didn’t I take more photos? Why didn’t I capture the way she liked to play baseball in the yard with the family or the way she liked to fish on the river? Why didn’t I capture her smile when she would throw her head back, slap her knee, and laugh? Or the way the kids would light up when she read Jingle to them at Christmas time. I would give anything to go back and have my camera to capture the little things. Looking through those old grainy cell phone photos made me realize the importance of carrying around that big bulky thing for 2 reasons.
1. Life is short. Those you love won’t be around forever and all you’ll be left with are those memories, those photos.
2. Kids, they aren’t kids forever. I recently made a comment to my Dad about how I couldn’t believe my baby girl was 3 already and he said, “how do you think I feel? My baby is 30 and has her own babies!” Woah. Really? It goes by that quickly? Yikes!

I’m going to blink one day and my babies will have babies of their own. There’s so much I want to remember about their childhood. Like what T looked like leading her horse to pasture by herself for the first time at her riding lesson last summer or the longhorn balloon hat she picked when we went to he Fort Worth Stockyards over spring break.
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or the pouty face A makes when she’s overly tired and not getting her way or the pure joy on her face when she’s at the park swinging or sliding.
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I want to remember forever P’s love for animals and how she just has a way with them or what she looked like sitting on the bench at soccer taking a break and waiting for coach to call her back in. Always with her shoe untied! lol
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So how do you know what to include in your photos? Ummm… well, EVERYTHING that means anything to put it simply. Or not so simply. Remember, there aren’t any rules to memory catching. Your subjects don’t always have to be posed, smiling, looking at you, or even facing forward for that matter! Some of my favorite photos are of the back of my children’s heads. Like this one of P & A fishing together last summer.
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Get up close and personal! Zoom in, catch the details even if you don’t get any faces in the shots. Last summer after my Mama in law’s funeral, we all spent a week at the family ranch together. The kids loved playing down in the meadow and by the creek skipping rocks and catching roly polys. They spent the week with dirty fingernails having the time of their lives with tiny bugs in their tiny hands.
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Pay attention to your surroundings. Over Spring Break, the girls and I hit up the zoo. While there, we rode the train to the wild west area. Normally, I would just snap a photo while I sat across the train from them but then I wouldn’t remember what the train looked like or what it was called. For this shot, I choose to snap the photo before I boarded the train while the other passengers were still loading. This way, I’ll always remember our ride on the yellow rose express. Because at one point, my grandkids will be flipping through a photo album and ask “Grandma, where were you? Why are you on a train? What color was it? What was it called?” Because that’s just the sort of thing kids ask. lol
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My final tip to you is to pay attention to your angle. I snapped these tonight at P’s soccer game while A was playing on one of the smaller goals behind the field. The one on the left was shot with me standing like normal over her and looking down. You see the grass and that she’s sort of swinging from something but you’re not real sure what it is or where she is. It doesn’t tell a story. For the one on the right all I did was squat down till I was at her level. You can tell just by glancing at it that it was taken at soccer fields and that she is more than likely swinging from a goal post.
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Remember these things when recording memories of your cuties even if all you have handy is your trusty iPhone. A well executed iPhone photo is better than no photo at all.

My absolute final tip to you is don’t always hide out behind the camera. Jump in front too! Have someone take a photo of you with your kids. Take a selfie, heck, photobomb them! You’re not getting any younger either people! I may need to take my own advice a little more here. I don’t know about you, but I love looking a photos of my mom and my grandmother from when she was younger. Checking out her goofy glasses or seeing the shifting fashion trends. So get out there and get in those frames mamas!

Happy snapping! ❤

After school snacktime

I don’t know about your kids, but when I pick my kids up from school, the very first words that come out of their mouths are usually “I’m hungry”! Sure sometimes they grab a yogurt or some sort of prepackaged snack from the pantry but if we have extra time and I haven’t had a dreadfully stressful day, we like to engage in a little snacktivity. Yeah, yeah, a snacktivity is a snack that doubles as a fun activity. Kills two birds with one stone! 😃 I’m going to share with you a few of our favorites.

There are a few things that you will pretty much ALWAYS find on hand in our house and we use them in many of our snack making adventures. Bananas, peanut butter, pumpkin purée, and wheat tortillas.

1. Peanut butter quesadillas:

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We buy PB2 powdered peanut butter because it has less fat and sugar than typical PB. We buy the other kind too but for smoothies, shakes, and snack making, the powdered kind is awesome! Just mix it with a little water and BAM! Instant PB! We smooth a little on a wheat tortilla and then add our toppings to just half of it. Bananas, strawberries, and chocolate chips. A is allergic to peanuts, not a severe allergy but she gets a little rashy so I use Nutella on hers instead of the PB. Then I fold it in half and toss it on the griddle until it’s nicely toasted. We enjoyed ours with a yummy fruit smoothie on this particular day.

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2. Pumpkin spice chips with caramel pumpkin cheesecake dip
This is one of our very favorite snacks ever! My kids (and myself) could probably slather this dip on just about anything and enjoy it.
For starters, take a few wheat tortillas and coat them in butter. Then add a sprinkle of cinnamon, sugar, and pumpkin spice. Use as much or as little as you want. Use a pizza cutter to cut them into chips and then place on an untreated cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10-15 mins. Ovens will vary so just check on them and pull them out when they hit your desired crunchiness.

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While those bad boys are getting their crispy on, toss 1 part cream cheese in a bowl with 2 parts pumpkin purée into a bowl. Add a tablespoon of powdered sugar, cinnamon, sugar, pumpkin spice, and a few drops of caramel flavoring. Mix it with a fork or use a hand mixer until it’s nice and creamy. Sweeten to taste, different brands of pumpkin are sweeter than others so you may need more powdered sugar.

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3. Banana pops
Easiest snack ever! Cut bananas in half, insert a lollipop stick, and place on a wax paper lined pan in the freezer for a few hours. When you’re ready, take some melting chocolates and toss them in the microwave. I like to use a small juice glass rather than a bowl for these because it makes dipping a breeze. I add a little PB2 for the big girls or Nutella for A and mix well. Remove bananas from the freezer and dip one by one then place back on wax paper in pan. Add sprinkles if you’d like and wait for the chocolate to harden. Voila! Banana pops!

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4. Fruit kabobs and vanilla cream dip
Super easy fun snack and so yummy! I let the girls select and cut up their fruit and then they have a blast designing their own kabobs. We use lollipop sticks rather than skewers because they’re safer for little fingers. While they do that, I combine 1 part cream cheese with an equal part of marshmallow cream. Add a scoop of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt and a couple of drops of vanilla extract and mix well.

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Scoop into dipping bowls, garnish with sprinkles, and enjoy!

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5. Pumpkin pie banana ice cream
Chop up 4 ripe bananas and toss them in the freezer for a few hours. Once mostly frozen, put them in a blender or food processor with half a can of pumpkin puree, a dash of cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice and blend. Pour into a freezer safe container and toss in the freezer for a few hours or serve just like that.

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I dip my ice cream scoop in a mug of hot water to make for easier scooping. If your ice cream has frozen solid it helps to let it set out a little before serving. We top ours with graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, and sprinkles.

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6. Banana chocolate chip oatmeal cookies
Toss 2 cups of oatmeal in my food processor and make a fine powder from it. Take 2 ripe bananas and mush them with a fork in a bowl. Stir in the oatmeal and add a dash of cinnamon, and about 1/8 cup of brown sugar. I toss in some dark chocolate chips and a bit of crushed walnuts and mix completely until it’s the consistency of cookie dough. Spoon it out into cookies on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 10 mins.

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7. Cinnamon sugar art
My kids LOVE this snacktivity! Take a paint pallet or a plate and add drops of food coloring. I use a medicine dropper to fill the pallet with milk to make edible “paint”. We use a small cup of milk to wash our brushes and the girls go to town painting designs on their slice of bread. I bought the brushes at dollar tree and washed them with warm soapy water first. We set them aside for this very project. Once they are done with their works of art, we toss it in the toaster until it’s to our desired level of toastyness. Once it’s done, spread butter over the top and add a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon. Enjoy your edible art!

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Hope you and your littles enjoy these fun, tasty, and semi healthy snacktivities too!

New years resolution. Yep I made one, yep I’m keeping it. So far anyway…

If you know me personally, you know I am simultaneously the most organized and the most unorganized person you will ever meet.  lol  Let me explain, I love my label maker, organizing bins, color coding, and labels that all face the same direction but I can never remember what time to take what kid to what sporting event or party.  I’m always losing papers and I have a stack of mail on my kitchen countertop that I’m confident will reach the ceiling soon if I don’t deal with it.  Unfortunately, 3 kids haven’t always allowed me to be as organized as I would like. I was so tired of being late, missing events, and forgetting where I put things that I vowed to get more organized in 2015.   I had been toying with the idea of putting A in a mother’s day out program 2 days a week for a while but she’s my last baby and I was hesitant.  When they called in December to tell me they had an opening for her, I decided to take the leap and enroll her.  Figured it would be good for both of us and i’m so glad  I did.  She’s still adjusting to not being with me 24 hours a day but the extra time I’ve had to get organized has done wonders for my sanity.  It’s definitely a work in progress.  I’ll share in a later blog how I organized every nook and cranny of my house but today I’m going to share how I’m organizing my life.

I’ve always been a fan of planners, organizers, and journals but my problem is, I’ve never really committed to them or carried them around with me at all times to fully utilize them.  I would write something down on a post it, toss it in my purse, and forget to transfer it to my planner when I got home.  Rather than my usual pick up a planner at Target bit, I decided to jump on the Erin Condren Life Planner bandwagon as recommended by many friends.  I’ll be honest, my main appeal was (and still is) the interchangeable covers.  On the inside it’s much like any other ole’ planner but the cover switching helps keep it fresh in my head I think.  You always like to use new things so switching them out every so often should help with that in my head.  haha

When it arrived, I was immediately impressed with the packaging.  It was colorful, fun, and welcoming.  It included a little envelope of bonus stickers and gift labels.  Who doesn’t love freebies!  🙂

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I selected a cute and colorful paisley-ish cover.  I didn’t put too much time into customizing it because I knew I would work my own magic with it later.

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The tabs and all the pages are very colorful and cheery and I love that!

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I picked up several goodies to help me make my planner manageable including a cute little bag (probably meant to be a cosmetics case) at Michael’s for $4, China markers for the laminated inserts (stays better than a dry erase marker in my opinion), and washi tape in assorted colors and prints.  The EC planner came with several sheets of these cute colorful stickers and I opted to customize a few extra sheets for an additional $5.  The weekly menu insert was an additional purchase from EC and the errands tab I added myself.  I’ll show you how and attach a printable you can use too later.

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I also ordered a package of erasable markers off of amazon.  Yep, I said erasable markers!  Are you as excited as I was?  They are by far the greatest thing since sliced bread and I think I need more ASAP!

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You can find them here

http://www.amazon.com/Pilot-Frixion-Colors-Erasable-Marker/dp/B00F9MYPCS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423074830&sr=8-1&keywords=frixion+erasable+markers

Here’s what the pages look like from monthly and weekly views.

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If you’re not the do it yourself type, you can purchase additional covers directly through EC for around $10.  You can also find some cute ones on Etsy.  To make my own cover, I selected a cute scrapbook paper combination and scanned them into my computer.  I used photoshop to scale it to size, add text and/or shapes, and then printed them.  I upload mine to office depot because their colors are so much more vivid than my printer at home but you can do it however you choose.  While I was there, I used their straight cutter to trim the covers to size, place pages back to back, and then have them laminated on thick lamination.  Be sure and tell them to laminate it in the center so you have room to cut and make your binder holes on the side.  I then used the straight cutter again to cut the laminated cover down to size leaving an edge all along the sides.

Once home, I lay the new cover over the top of the planner and used a sharpie to mark where the holes would need to be quickly.  I then used a handheld small hole punch to make holes all down the side.  Once that is done, you take your scissors and make a slit through the center of the hole.  Now the cover is ready to click right into your planner.

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We’re only in February and I’ve already created 2 optional cover sets.  I have commitment issues.  haha

I also created a few printouts to help me with my little goal oriented organization.  I kept seeing the 52 week savings challenge on pinterest and was dying to try it for our next Disney trip spending money stash so I added a checklist for that as well as a little mason jar weight loss page.  I’ve been keeping up with the 52 week savings challenge thing but I will plead the 5th on the weight loss page!  It’s not my fault, it’s those darn girl scouts I tell you!  😉

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You can laminate these and insert them the same way as the covers if you so choose but I just glued them over some of the additional memo pages in the back that I will likely never use.  I used little heart stickers to symbolize the about of lbs I wanted to lose this year and then as I lose them, I’ve moved them to the other lbs lost mason jar.  Sadly, there are many more hearts in the lbs to go jar than there are in the lbs lost jar!

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Overall, I’m really loving my planner and the fact that it’s large enough for me to see and really write in yet compact enough to toss in my handbag.  I think I’m officially an EC believer!  Ready to get started?  You can follow this link to start your own account and create your very own Erin Condren Life Planner

https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/loriannelatch0107

Now here are some of the goodies I made for my planner.  I’ve removed my name for you so that you can add your own and print if you so desire.  Hope you enjoy!

plannerfrontandback1  This one can be used for the front and back of your planner.  Just add your name.

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Obviously, once you print, you can arrange them any way you want them, this is just how I did mine.  Here are the mason jar printable, errands bookmark style insert, and the 52 week savings challenge to match.

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plannererrands  Just print this, cut it, place it back to back, laminate, punch holes, cut, and insert like the covers

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Hope you get some use out of these printables.  Have you used any of my printables in the past?  Would love some feedback.  Did they work out for you?  How did you use them?  Keep them coming?  Comment here or email me at dysfunctionaldomesticdiva@gmail.com

Thanks!  Happy organizing!  ❤

Happy Birthday Grandma!

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I’m gonna get a little personal for a second. This isn’t so much a DIY project, recipe, or one of my usual posts as it is a tribute. For those of you who don’t know me personally, we lost my mother in law to lung cancer in August. Somedays I’m not so sure it feels quite real yet so writing this for the world to see is going to be somewhat difficult for me. If you didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Lyndee, I can tell you that she was most definitely a memorable woman. She was tall and slender and as goofy as can be. She loved being silly and making people laugh. Her laughter itself was contagious, if I close my eyes and concentrate, I can almost hear it. When she was first diagnosed with lung cancer, we were all heartbroken and confused. She hadn’t smoked a day in her life, how could she have lung cancer? Shows our complete lack of awareness! The truth is, lung cancer can be caused by a whole plethora of reasons and there really isn’t a way to know for sure what caused it in her case. We do know her parents were smokers and smoked around her and in their home and vehicles throughout her childhood and that exposure to secondhand smoke may or may not have been a factor. Whatever the cause, it’s a terrible disease and watching her fight was both inspiring and heartbreaking. She was so strong through the whole thing. When she was first diagnosed, I remember all of us being very weepy but we never saw her cry. One night, I asked her, “how on earth are you so calm? I would be a blubbery mess in your shoes.” I’ll never forget her reply. She told me she had prayed about it and that God had filled her with peace. She was going to fight but she wasn’t afraid to die, she was ready when the time would come. I could go on and on but how on earth do you sum up an entire life in a single blog post. I’ll say this: She loved a lot, was loved by many, and spread joy wherever she went even to perfect strangers!

The holidays were difficult without her. Surreal almost. It was strange not seeing her across the table at Thanksgiving and strange not shopping for a Christmas present for her like usual. So, when her birthday rolled around a few days after Christmas, the kids and I couldn’t help but want to do something to celebrate her life. Unfortunately, you can’t send a cake and gifts to heaven so we had to come up with something else. Because she loved making other people smile, we decided our gift to her should be a week full of making other people smile! I typed up a little note that said:

“Our Grandma is celebrating her birthday in heaven this year. What a party that must be! She was a silly Grandma who was always doing nice things for others. Since we can’t celebrate with her this year, we are doing nice things for others as our gift to her. Please accept this random act of kindness in honor of our Grandma. Add to the party by playing it forward.”

I attached a goofy photo of her sporting a multicolored afro wig we bought her as a joke when she lost her hair to chemo and cut it into strips. We then spent the week distributing them along with different small acts of kindness in our community.

We taped quarters to vending and gumball machines everywhere we went.
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We taped microwaveable popcorn packages to redbox machines around town.
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We scattered $1 bills around the toy section of Dollar Tree for some kids to find and get themselves a little treat.
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We bought coffee for the car behind us at Starbucks and asked the cashier to hand them our note.
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We bought individual laundry detergent packs at Target and left them on washing machines at a local laundromat with some quarters.
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We also mailed crisp $1 bills to 5 random people from the phone book with our note, donated books to our pediatrician’s office (we noticed theirs were a little ragged), and left a hefty tip for our server at dinner.

We hope Grandma liked her gift and that we brought some smiles to the faces of the strangers who found the goodies. Who couldn’t smile after seeing that picture!

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You can view the slideshow I created for her services here:

20 Random kitchen products you had no idea you would need/want!

I’m a bit quirky.  I like unique things that’s for sure.  My kitchen is no exception, I strive to find the funnest and funkiest kitchen gadgets around.  I’m going to share with you my top 20 adorably fabulous kitchen gadgets that put the FUN in functional!  You just might want to add them to your kitchen collection too!

Spiffy Units of measure:

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These items aren’t just cute, they’re super functional too!

1. Mason Jar Measuring Cups

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I snagged this little bit of stacking measuring cup awesomeness at World Market

You can find them here:

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/mason+jar+measuring+cups.do?from=Search&cx=0

2. Flower Pot measuring spoons

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My sister in law got me these cuties last year for Christmas from Modcloth.com.  They’re out of stock now but I managed to find them elsewhere for ya here:

http://www.hiddentreasuresdecorandmore.com/Flower_Pot_Measuring_Spoons_p/pj0305.htm

3. Tiny measuring cup

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Sometimes, measuring out the perfect amount of liquids can get tricky in the measuring spoons especially when transferring from one counter to another.  For such instances there’s this little guy.  I got it at World Market as well.  They only sell them online in sets of 3 but you can get them individually in stores like I did.

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/mini-measuring-cup.do?&refType=&from=Search

Cool fruit gadgets: 

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4.  Awesome apple slicer

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just line up your core with the center hole and shimmy down to slice and core your apple.  Push the bottom part up and it  will push all your slices up without slicing your hand.  I got this particular one at bed bath and beyond last year.  I don’t see it on their website now but they do have it on amazon.com.  I see similar products at all major retailers though 🙂

http://www.amazon.com/Prepworks-Progressive-International-Wedge-Slicer/dp/B00EZQQO8M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260073&sr=8-2&keywords=progressive+apple+slicer

5. Bodacious banana slicer

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This mellow yellow dude comes out to play quite often in our kitchen.  Yes you can just take a butter knife to your banana but this is so much better!  Just slide your banana through and squeeze and you quickly have perfectly even slices to top your waffles, pancakes, sandwiches, and other goodies!

http://www.amazon.com/Chefn-102-205-017-Bananza-Banana-Slicer/dp/B004HINHKQ/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260262&sr=8-7&keywords=banana+slicer

6. Super awesome strawberry pitter

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When I saw my best friend using this little baby to make cheesecake stuffed strawberries (yes, they’re as delicious as they sound) for my baby shower several years ago, I knew I had to have one too!  My sweet bestie grabbed one for me and surprised me with it and we’ve been using it religiously ever since!  You can find it on amazon and most major retailers.

http://www.amazon.com/Adorable-Simple-Strawberry-Remover-Dishwasher/dp/B00KGNSCUQ/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260426&sr=8-14&keywords=strawberry+pitter

7.  Amazing avocado slicer

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Ugh, it’s so tough to get all your green goodness out of the avocado and slice it evenly.  I always squish it and it doesn’t go well but with this little baby, that’s no longer an issue!  Maybe my OCD side just likes the even little slices!  lol

http://www.amazon.com/Chefn-Flexicado-Flexible-Avocado-Plastic/dp/B000AXU1VA/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260493&sr=8-18&keywords=avocado+slice

8. Veggie Spiralizer

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Watching your carb intake or just want to make your veggies pretty?  This little baby is just the thing for you!  I love to make “noodles” from zucchini and squash when I’m trying to go easy on the carbs.  I make spaghetti for the girls and then whip up a low cal version for myself!  Delicious and nutritious!

http://www.amazon.com/SpiraLife-Vegetable-Spiralizer-Recipe-eBook/dp/B00L0R9R38/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260614&sr=8-4&keywords=veggie+spiralizer

9. Say Cheese slicer

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How cute is this little cheese slicer?!?!?!  I fell madly in love with it at a local gift shop and just had to have it!  You can get yourself one on amazon!

http://www.amazon.com/Say-Cheese-Instant-Slicer-GAMAGO/dp/B00ICF25VM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260901&sr=8-1&keywords=say+cheese+slicer

10. Picture perfect kitchen timer

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If you have to time something in the kitchen, you may as well do it with a cute timer!  Just sayin’!  I picked up this adorable camera lens timer at World Market over the weekend and it’s so cute I had to share!

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/telephoto+kitchen+timer.do?&refType=&from=Search

11. Magnetic Salad tongs/servers

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I can’t remember where I actually purchased these but they’re pretty stinking awesome!  They’re magnetic so you can toss your bowl of salad and then stick them together to easily serve said salad!  Plus, they are much easier to store when separate!  Double win!  Here they are on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Progressive-Piece-Green-Magnetic-Salad/dp/B00DYXSJLC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421261086&sr=8-1&keywords=magnetic+salad+tongs

12. Popsicle making magic

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I’m 75% sure I got these at dollar tree a few years back but you can obviously find similar products anywhere.  Keep an eye out for the kind with the little straw attachment on the end.  My girls love to make fresh fruit pops in the summer and as they start to melt, they can drink the juice from the little straw on the end instead of it running down their cute little hands!  These are pretty close on amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Friendly-Popsicles-Smoothies-BPA-Free/dp/B00N7AV8ZG/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1421261238&sr=8-10&keywords=popsicle+mold

13. Mini condiments

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These little cuties also came from World Market.  They’re so great for lunch boxes and picnics even when you don’t want to pack an entire bottle of ketchup but need just a little squirt.

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/mini-condiment-set.do?from=Search&cx=0

14. Homemade ice cream container

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The girls LOVE to make banana ice cream.  You know, the kind where you freeze bananas, add a dash of peanut butter, cocoa powder, and milk and blend.  Yummy and not nearly as terrible for you as regular ice cream plus super fun to make! Anyway, we used to put it in tupperware to store in the freezer but this little beauty is so much cuter!  I stumbled upon this one at TJ Maxx but as you would guess, you can find them on amazon.  I in fact will be ordering a few more in the very near future!  They even have smaller individual sizes!

http://www.amazon.com/Tovolo-Storage-Container-61-3583-Pistachio/dp/B00LEO71LM/ref=sr_1_sc_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1421261746&sr=8-8-spell&keywords=homeade+ice+cream+container

15. Moped pizza slicer

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Don’t you hate when you use the pizza slicer and you have to go over it a couple of times because it didn’t cut all the way to the bottom?  This little guy takes care of it in one swipe with dual blades!  Plus, it’s much funner to “drive” over your pizza than it is to just merely slice it right?  I got this one at Garden Ridge last year but of course you can get yours on Amazon!

http://www.amazon.com/Kikkerland-II-Motorino-Pizza-Cutter/dp/B0096643J8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421261900&sr=8-2&keywords=motorcycle+pizza+cutter

16. Pink piggy egg ring

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My hubby likes his eggs over easy.  YUCK!  lol  This little piggy makes it much easier for me to keep them in check.  Without it, The egg seems to go everywhere in my pan and it’s not pretty.  Maybe that’s just me!  It’s also great for breakfast sandwiches and we love those!

http://www.amazon.com/Oink-Piggy-Fry-Silicone-Ring/dp/B00JQVPG6W/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1421258056&sr=8-18&keywords=joie+oink+oink

Fun with baking:

17. Batter finger spatula

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you stick your finger in the batter and lick it sometimes don’t ya.  Admit it!  This nifty little spatula is great for mixing up your favorite muffin mix and then licking the remnants off without sticking your dirty little sausages in the bowl!

http://www.amazon.com/Fred-and-Friends-BATTERFINGER-Spatula/dp/B0015MU91C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421262114&sr=8-1&keywords=fred+batterfinger+spatula

18.  Speaking of muffin mixing…

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These jeans make your muffin top actually look good!  hahahahaha  Excuse the dish soap residue on them.  They need a good rinsing it seems!

http://www.amazon.com/Fred-Friends-MUFFIN-TOPS-Baking/dp/B00EIFXCA8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421262287&sr=8-1&keywords=fred+muffin+tops

19. Killer cookie stamps

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Why should the kids have all the fun with the cookie stampers and shapes?!?!?!  This interchangeable cookie stamp set is super fun for the adult crowd.  Deliciously funny sugar cookies coming right up!

http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=33732694&cm_mmc=CJ-_-Affiliates-_-ShopStyle.com-_-11292048#/

20. I mustache you a question about your lunch

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Kids hate the bread crust.  Why?  I don’t get it.  Even I wanted my ends cut off as a child but now can eat them right up!  Mind over matter I suppose…  Anyhow, why not cut the ends off and add a little fun to that plain ole sandwich with this mustache sandwich cutter also by Fred & Friends.  Who says you shouldn’t play with your food?  NOT this mama!

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Graze snack boxes

Hi everyone! Been a while since I’ve posted anything, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth I promise, have just been incredibly busy! I have a bazillion blog posts floating around in my head that I can hopefully get to posting sometime soon. For now, here’s a quick little product suggestion for you! A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon a service that sounded interesting and I’m super excited to share with you guys! If you’re anything like me, making healthy snack choices when you’re on the go constantly can be extremely difficult. Enter Graze boxes… Graze is an awesome service that will send boxes of 4 individually packaged healthy snacks right to your door weekly or bi-weekly dependent on your preference. You can view their unique snack combos and rate them based on wether or not they sound like something you would like to try or not and they will appear in your mailbox soon afterwards. Don’t rule something out just because you’ve never tried it though. I have to say, there have been a few that sounded gross to me just by reading the description but ended up being pretty tasty. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you hate them, you can trash it via your account preferences and they will never send that particular snack to you again. You can choose from 2 different types of boxes. A “nibble” box or a “calorie counter” box. The calorie counter box only includes snacks that have less than 150 calories each! You can even change your delivery options to skip a week if you’ll be out of town or something for instance.

Your super cute graze box is small and thin so it fits in your mailbox easily.

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Open it up to find 4 individual snacks that are packaged for easy portability! I keep a basket in my pantry and dump all my Graze snacks in it when they arrive so that I can grab one, toss it in my purse, and go with a healthy snack in tow while running errands.

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The boxes are $6.99 each and that includes shipping! You can cancel at anytime so there’s no obligation to continue the service if you don’t like it. If you enter this promo code: LORIAN7WB Graze will give you your 1st and 5th boxes for free! Your credit card will be charged weekly or bi-weekly for each subsequent box!

So far, some of our favorite snacks have been:
-raspberry and coconut muffin
-spicy sriracha peas
-tropical daiquiri
-hot cross yum
-oat spelt and raisin dippers
-banana caramel dippers

If you try it out, let me know what you think!

https://www.graze.com/us/