Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best Of {2014}

On the blogging front, this year has been a really fun one. I have really enjoyed getting back into blogging after somewhat of a hiatus on my old blog. I have enjoyed writing about things that I love and that are important to me, connecting with other people, and just having this space! 
I thought I would recap the most pinned/viewed posts from this year (starting in July because that is when this blog began) for anyone who may have missed some of the best ones! 
3 Applicable Bible Verses for Young Children 




Adoption Benefit Giveaway (The reason I'm including this one is because I still want to help promote all of the amazing women who donated and their shops! Check them out!!)



Here's to another great year of blogging! I have some big goals for the blog for 2015 and hope you will continue to pop in and read along the way! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Treat Tradition

One of the first years that my husband and I were married, we started a little Christmas tradition. At the time, I had dreamt of how fun it would be to do this with a whole family one day, and the last few years that we've been blessed to do so, have been amazing! 
Every year, a week or two before Christmas, we bake a bunch of treats, package them up, and then deliver them to neighbors and loved ones. The fun of it is that it is unannounced and no one is expecting us. We don't hit the same people every year, so it's never like "Oh, it's December 14, the Cooks are coming with treats!" You just never know about us! 
This year, it was pretty much my big girl and I baking. I'm not sure what happened to daddy and little during the baking process, but they disappeared into a bedroom and there were lots of giggles and visits from big sister. She eventually ditched me for them....
The first recipe we did, I found here. I didn't follow the "recipe" 100%--I felt like it needed a lot more cookies, pretzels and almond bark than what they called for--but we pretty much did the same thing. When I saw it, I thought it would be PERFECT for my toddlers to help because it basically consisted of breaking and dumping stuff! What more could a toddler want?! 
She was in charge of breaking up pretzels, while I worked on breaking cookies since they were a little tougher. I ended up using a package of Christmas knock off Oreos from Aldi and they were so yummy and peppermint-y. They gave the whole thing a ton of flavor! 
Her favorite part was definitely dumping on sprinkles. She LOVES sprinkles. I got a giant thing of sprinkles from Aldi that had several different kinds of festive sprinkles all in one, and it was the best. She pretty much had me open up one section at a time, then dumped the whole thing out on one little section of goodies, then we moved to the next until we were out of sprinkles. 

She may have snagged a handful of her own while I was taking pictures. Girlfriend knows what she likes!
We also made these. At first they were really weird. The dough was like sand consistency and I felt like it wasn't right, but they rolled into balls fine. Then, I thought they baked a lot longer than normal cookies so I just wasn't sure. When I took them out, I figured we needed to taste test because I didn't want to give people bad cookies, so we did and...they are amazing. Please make them! 

When we were done, we packaged everything up and went around to neighbors. This year, we did mostly neighbors since we moved this year. It was a great chance to meet some of our neighbors that we hadn't yet! I intended to make a little label so we could leave them on doorsteps if people weren't home and they would know where they came from and that they weren't poisoned, but I never got around to it, so we skipped houses where people didn't answer and just went to ones where they did. Maybe we will try to hit the other houses before Christmas. 
After neighbors, we loaded up the car and hit up a few family members and friends with what we had left. 
This is one of my favorite nights of the whole year, every year! There is just something about the season, being in the kitchen, and delivering surprises to people that just exudes joy and happiness! I love this tradition and I hope my kids always think of it when they are grown and look back on Christmas memories from over the years! 
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Monday, December 22, 2014

The Harder You Try

Sometimes I get super frustrated, because it seems like the harder I try at something, the more I fail. Am I alone here?! It's like the harder I try to lose weight and the more effort I put into it, the more weight I gain. The harder I try to make a tight budget and stick with it, the more unexpected expenses come up. The harder I try to keep my house spic and span, the more messes there seem to be. Why does this happen? I know I can't be the only one. 
I was frustrated about this the other day (on the budget front) and I just had to stop, take a deep breath, pray, and reevaluate the plan. I think it is really easy to just throw it all up in the air and be like "I'm DONE with the budget. Spend all the money!", but realistically, this isn't a good idea. Or even possible in some situations. 
Times like these are good times to lean into God. To rest at His feet and let Him take the wheel. I am finding that out more and more. Sure, there is a lot I can be doing to lose weight, get in shape, stick with a budget, clean my house, etc. BUT sometimes things don't go according to your plan. Sometimes things don't happen the way you want them to, and not because of anything you did or didn't do. Using weight loss as an example, sometimes you can eat perfectly, get in X number of work outs, and not see a change on the scale or tape measure. It happens. It is frustrating, but you won't be any better off by quitting. These are the times where I'm learning to turn to prayer. To just say "Hey God, I did my part. I did my best. I'm leaving it with you and trusting you to take care of the situation."...whatever that situation may be. He always works it out better than we could have anyway, doesn't He? 
Have you had any "the harder you try" situations lately? 
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

6 Years

Today, my love and I are celebrating 6 years of marriage! 

Every year, it gets harder and harder to believe that we have been married as long as we have. At the same time, it feels like we just got married yesterday, but I can't remember life before him. 

So much has happened in the last 6 years, it is hard to put it all into words. 1 apartment, 2 homes, 2 kids, 3 jobs, a countless number of cars.

 Life is much different now than it was in 2008, but in the best way I could dream of. I'm so thankful I get to do life with this guy! 

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Mary or Martha?

So, so often, I am running around trying to get everything done and make everything perfect. I am washing clothes, doing dishes, fixing meals, driving little people around, vacuuming, meal planning, grocery shopping, running to the bank....I'm sure you know the feeling. Sometimes I feel as though if I take just a little time off, my whole world would explode. Everything would fall apart because I would get behind. It is hard to imagine just sitting around and doing nothing, which is how Martha saw Mary. But Mary certainly wasn't doing nothing. She was doing, as Jesus tells us, the most important thing
Read more at Project: On Purpose!
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Essential Oils-Oily Testimonies

I shared the other day that we have started using Young Living oils and why, but today I really wanted to share some of the testimonies we have about using oils so far. For me, hearing what other people's successes had been was really helpful when we were trying to consider if oils were right for our family. Knowing what is tried and true for people I know and trust says a lot to me. Hopefully these testimonies I am going to share will. 
Disclaimer: All of the opinions here are my own and my family's. I am not a doctor and am not trying to give medical advice. I am ONLY speaking about Young Living oils, which we use and trust, so please do your research and be sure that you are confident in whatever essential oils brand you are using. 

Frankincense for Scarring
My oldest daughter has a large scar on her arm from a burn. When I first got my hands on frankincense, the scar was fairly new. I am guessing about a month old. It was still quite red and very new skin there. I started applying frankincense just one drop, once or twice a day and within a day or two I was noticing a difference. By 3 days, I was in shock! 
The photo speaks for itself. The photos are totally unedited, taken in the same exact place with the same lighting. 
The scar has faded considerably since then. After a few weeks of using frank, I just kind of forgot to apply it and the scar had really faded by then. I need to be diligent about doing it again to see if I can get it all the way gone, but it is the same color as the rest of her skin now. This was the first "ok, maybe these things actually work" moment we had. 
Thieves for the Flu
Thieves is a great blend made by Young Living that has been university tested and proven to kill 99.99% of bacteria in the air. Needless to say, we diffuse it whenever we've been at yucky places like the doctor's office or play places, and I put it on my girls' feet before bed semi-frequently. 
We went through a bout of not really using it and I had never applied it directly to myself, and I came down with the flu. I will just say that I haven't had the flu in a good long while, but whenever I used to get it, I would be out for the count for 5-7 days. I'm talking holed up in my bedroom, no one touch me for the entire week because I'm so achy and miserable. I woke up with what I knew was the flu, and started diffusing thieves immediately. I put it on the soles of my feet 2 or 3 times a day. The first day, my husband had to go to work, so I diffused it in my bedroom right next to the bed and put movies on for my girls so I could rest. I really didn't want them to get it so I was diligent about diffusing it constantly that day. The next day was pretty much the same, but my husband took the day off so the girls weren't around me. The 3 of them put it on their feet once or twice each day and I used it 2 or 3 times the second day as well, still diffusing constantly. The third day I woke up and was fine. I could not believe it! No one else in my family got it, even though my kids spent the entire first day with me. Hallelujah!!! 
Thieves and Lemon for a UTI
It was literally a day or two after my kit first arrived and I really hadn't dug into them at all yet. I had a series of urinary tract infections after my 2nd daughter was born that I just couldn't kick. I was getting one about every month until I finally started on a probiotic and I hadn't had one since (over a year)! Well, if you have ever had one, you KNOW when it is coming on. I went to the bathroom and knew in that instant. I immediately thought of my oils, because I really didn't want to drag both of my kids to the urgent care waiting room to sit and then wait another 24 hours to have relief kick in. I knew a friend had used oils for her UTI but I wasn't sure which ones and how she used them so I texted her, but she didn't get right back to me. I googled online and read that lemon is good for removing toxins and kidney  function, so I dumped a bunch in my water and chugged. Once my friend texted me back (just an hour or two later), she told me that she did a drop of thieves in a spoonful of honey and had almost instant relief. I honestly didn't believe relief would come that quickly, so I downed the honey thieves combo (it will burn!), and then ate some coconut oil to get the taste out of my mouth haha. I kid you not, within 20 minutes the feeling was completely gone. I did it again the next day, just for good measure to make sure it was really gone and it was and never came back. 
Lemon for Crayon Removal
Oh, your kids don't color on the walls? Just mine? I can't even remember how it happened, but we were getting ready to go on a bike ride. My younger daughter drew a nice little piece on the wall between the bathroom and garage and I remembered someone telling me lemon removed it, so I put some on a cotton ball and scrubbed away. I won't say it was the easiest thing ever to get off...I had to put some elbow grease into it. But we have stark white walls and it was red crayon and you can't even tell it was there now, so....
Lemon for Cleaning
I had burned some potato soup into a pot. It was bad. Really bad. At first, there were chunks of potato stuck to the pot that I couldn't even get off. I soaked it for a day, then scraped and scraped and scraped and soaked for another day and was left with the photo on the left. My husband suggested I try using lemon, but I was basically out. I shook the bottle for all it was worth and got 2 measly drops out, soaked it for a few more hours with the lemon oil in there and voila! 
Lavender for Restful Sleep
One night, not too long after we started using oils, my husband was out of town. Because this kind of thing would only happen when he's gone. So my older daughter wakes up in the night, like an hour after I went to bed, of course, and I cannot get her back to sleep. This has never happened before. She's not sick, nothing is wrong, she just woke up and can't get to sleep. After probably about 2 hours of going back in every 15 minutes because she called me or I could hear her singing (she shares a room with her sister, and I didn't want TWO kids up at 3 a.m.), I finally brought her into my bed. Still couldn't sleep. Finally, out of nowhere, I remembered lavender! I took her potty and then brought her back to bed and applied a drop on the bottom of each foot. Within 10 minutes she was out like a light for the rest of the night! 
Thieves Toothpaste
Last spring, I had to have oral surgery. About 9 years ago, I passed out at a water park and knocked one of my teeth out. I had a bunch of surgeries back then to put an implant in, and all was well until last year. I had noticed it was swollen there but not painful. I asked my dentist and they said it was fine. 6 months later, the next time I was there it was the same so I asked again and they did a little more digging and determined it was probably infected and sent me to a periodontist. He looked at it and agreed it was probably infected but there was no way to know unless they cut it open. I'll spare you all the disgusting details, but basically there was an infection because the bone there was wearing away so they took care of the infection, grafted in bone and brought my gums back together. While they were healing, the stitches split and there was a hole in my gum tissue. He said it should hopefully come back together on its own and it took awhile but it mostly did. When I went for a recheck after 2 months I think, he said it wasn't healing the way he wanted and if it didn't improve, he would have to do the surgery all over again. The surgery was painful and miserable and the recovery was pretty bad as well. I really wanted to avoid doing it again so I thought the thieves toothpaste may help. I started using it and I wish I had a picture. The gum tissue there after 2 months was still discolored and bruised looking. I started using the thieves toothpaste after about 4 months and used it for probably 1 1/2 months before my re-check. At the re-check he said it looked well and the color was what he wanted to see and I wouldn't need surgery again! I had stopped using the antibiotic mouthwash he gave me and was ONLY using thieves toothpaste. I had just added in the thieves mouthwash right before that appointment. 
We have definitely used our oils for more than just these things, but these have been our hugest and best testimonies when it comes to our oils. We have only been using them a few months and I already don't know how we ever lived without them! 
What is your favorite oil and do you have any good oil testimonies?! 
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Reader Survey

Hi Friends!
As we are closing in on the end of the year, and I have several months of running this blog under my belt, I am starting to think about the future. Even though I have been blogging for years on my previous blog, I changed a lot of things when I started this one. I would so appreciate your help and feedback on this reader survey. It is totally anonymous, so give me the good, bad and ugly! I want to know how I can improve this blog and make it a better experience for everyone who visits! The survey shouldn't take you more than a few minutes and would help me out greatly! 
Thank you!

She Builds Her Home Reader Survey
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DIY Silhouette Plaque

Ok, honest truth here. I had no idea what to call this thing. Plaque art? That sounds like some kind of dental work art. State art? But it could be way more than for a state, like I did. So I just went with silhouette. It works, right?! 
This is an easy last minute, DIY gift idea if you need one for Christmas. I am actually planning on making another one with a totally different feel, different shape and no glitter. Hopefully I have time to do it! 

So this particular version I made for my little sister. She lives in Texas (obviously), and is getting ready to do a big room re-do so I thought this would be a cute detail in her room. We just stood it up on a plate stand. 

Here is what you'll need: 
Wooden plaque (I got mine at Hobby Lobby-I think it was $2.99 + I had a 40% off coupon)
1 sheet of scrapbook paper
Card stock/printer
Glitter (optional)
Glue/mod podge 
Craft  Paint

Ok, before you get started on the actual craft part, you need to print out whatever shape you are using. I love using this site because you can edit the images, but you can also google "xyz silhouette" and find a free image to use. For another one I'm doing, I am using an animal printed out in the color I want and skipping the glitter altogether. For this one, I flipped the image in word so that the lines would be on the back since I was printing on white card stock and I knew all of those little border details I wouldn't be able to do exact! The other one I just printed as is since I'm not doing glitter, and it was in a dark color.

Onto the craft part. First, you will want to paint the edges of the plaque. Don't worry about it being perfect because you will cover up most of it with the paper. 

Next you are going to want to trace the shape of your plaque onto the scrapbook paper. I couldn't think of a better way to do this, so I used a fine tip pen to get under to the edges of the plaque.

Cut the paper out, line it up on the plaque and mod podge/glue onto the plaque.

Cut out your shape if you haven't already. If you are just leaving it as is, go ahead and put it where you want on the plaque and mod podge it on there!
If you are glittering it, give the silhouette a good layer of mod podge and shake glitter on. I just put it on top of foil and then when I was done, dumped the excess glitter (like half) back in the container. After it has dried, you can dab on more glue and glitter with a q tip but it is hard to make it even and I didn't do great in some spots.

After it is all dried up (I put on a layer of spray adhesive on top of the glitter so it doesn't get everywhere), mod podge the silhouette onto the scrapbook papered plaque and you are done! 

Here it is on my sister's night stand. Thanks for the photo, Lili

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