Monthly Archives: April 2012

DIY Magnet Letters

DIY Magnet Letters

It seems like the more senses involved in learning the more the knowledge “sticks.”  So with my kids I try to incorporate different senses as they’re learning their letters, numbers, and use teachable moments.  Well, here’s an easy way to make fun colorful magnet letters.  It’s so easy I can’t rightly call it a craft!  But by moving colorful letters on the fridge it helps reinforce the alphabet and reading skills for little guys and gals!  Get their whole body moving, have letter/word races, and just have some good one-on-one fun with letters!  (Word of Caution:  choking hazard.  Might not want to do this with kiddos under 3.)

I bought these handy-dandy magnet strips for $1 at Walmart and the bag of foam letter stickers for under $5. 


All I did was cut the magnet strip in half again (length wise) and then in smaller pieces (about 6-7 pieces for each half strip.) 

Remove the paper backing from the foam letter and magnet pieces.  Stick 2 magnet pieces to the back (sticky side of the letter) and repeat for each letter! 

Seriously, wasn’t that easy?  With the letters being stickers too they’re a little sticky, but not too bad.  And I only used a small portion of the bag so there are lots more letter stickers for other fun projects!  These letters stick to the fridge really well.  Not so much my cookie sheet, but maybe if I can find one made out of something other than aluminum! 

I’ve also seen whole magnet sheets if you want to make a magnetic version of paper dolls or paper cars/trains, animals, whatever your kids are into!  So many possibilities!  Hope this spurs on some ideas for you and your kids, and that you all get excited about learning!

Other posts you may like:



Don’t Worry…

Don’t Worry…

The other day I took a moment to peruse my Bible, looking for some things to read during our family worship time…I opened my Bible, and the first thing that caught my eye was a verse in Luke where Jesus is warning his disciples about worry…and since I worry a lot, I kept reading…

” Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more that food, and the body more than clothes….Who of you by worrying, can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

-Luke 12:22-34

So…Jesus asks us not to worry…but how can we not?  There is so much that seems to deserve my worry.

Faith.  Faith can help us to live without worry.  Faith can grant us freedom from the fear, anxiety, and stress (and perhaps…a few less “worry lines” on my face) that come from worry.

While it is important for us to work hard, and make good choices, plan, be responsible…we can’t be worried about everything all the time.  It will do us no good.  It will only steal the joy of the moments we are living.

{Children are a great example of the joy that comes without worry…}

 During my last pregnancy, I was worried the whole time about health and finances and working…and it did me NO good.  So, my goal for myself is to not worry.  Or, at least, worry less.  God’s plan is set, and it is what it is.  So, I will do my best to enjoy my life, my pregnancy and my {beautiful} family every day, and have faith, that He knows what He is doing.

Other posts you might like…

Choosing to Live on One Income

DIY Household Cleaners

How to Save Money on Groceries



Wednesday Recipe: Healthy Peanut Butter Honey Bars

Wednesday Recipe: Healthy Peanut Butter Honey Bars

Guess what?!?!?  I could actually smell and taste my Good Earth tea this morning!  Maybe not super exciting to you, but after a couple of days lacking my olfactory senses I was ecstatic!  And to celebrate we’re sharing a yummy protein-packed, fiber-filled dessert recipe!

The pureed pinto beans, peanut butter, whole wheat flour, and oatmeal  add TONS of protein and lots of fiber too.  That makes these bars not only delicious, but  filling too!


  • 1 cup cooked (not salted) pinto beans  (try the crockpot method!)
  • 1/4 cup of the bean liquid
  • 1 stick (1/2c) butter melted
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease 9″ x 13″ pan.  Puree beans and their liquid in a blender until smooth.  Pour into a big mixing bowl and stir in the melted butter, honey, peanut butter and eggs.  Whisk together until the mixture is smooth.  With a wooden spoon stir in flour and oats just until moistened.  Gently stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into pan and bake for 25-30 min. or until set. 


 I cut into 28 bars which was a nice size serving for us. 




The bars were small, but each one has about 3 g fiber and over 5 g protein!  With mostly natural ingredients (all except the chocolate chips) this is a snack or dessert I feel good feeding to my family.  I hope you will too!



How do you sneak nutrition into your desserts?

Yup...the recipe was a hit for this guy!

DIY Cooking Spray

DIY Cooking Spray

Cooking spray…another thing I can add to my list of things I don’t buy.  I found an easy, effective way to make it on my own!

You’ll need:

  • Spray Bottle
  • 1 cup of oil (whatever type you prefer)
  • 1 Tbsp. of water

Add oil and water to spray bottle…and there it is…cooking spray!

This version costs far less to make and works great.  I don’t know about you, but I love finding out how simple things like this are to make on my own!!

Monday Menu

Monday Menu

We have had a rough couple of weeks!  First a stomach bug hit us one by one and now all six in our family are in various stages of influenza!  Maybe it’s the price we pay for an early spring…who knows!  But we’ll be keeping meals simple this week utilizing our freezer stock pile!



  • Smoothies with Homemade Yogurt
  • PB& J’s x 2
  • Banana & Peanut Butter towers
  • BLT’s
  • Spinach salad with Hard-boiled eggs
  • Dinner leftovers

    Yogurt and granola







Earth Week…going green can save green

Earth Week…going green can save green

Apparantly, it’s Earth Week…I had no idea until I turned on the Today Show yesterday and caught a little segment about going green…they had some great ideas, but I thought that most of them included me spending my green ($$$). 

I think that doing things yourself can be a great way to go green and save green…here’s a few idea’s we have had!

  1. DIY Cleaners
  2. DIY Laundry Soap
  3. DIY Face-wash
  4. DIY Lotion
  5. DIY Cake Mix
  6. DIY Yogurt

Thursday’s Thoughts: The Struggle

Thursday’s Thoughts: The Struggle

As a mom do you ever want to shield your children from struggling with something?  I do.    I hate to see them in the midst of that frustration and conflict: whether it’s letting my youngest son struggle to dress himself or my oldest son struggling with addition.  I just want to do it  for them or make it easy.  And yet, when I stop and think about it I’m really short-changing them by “rescuing” them from that struggle. 

I set consequences but then want to soften the blow, so to speak, when my daughter disobeys despite the warning.  If I don’t keep my word and don’t let her struggle with those negative consequences,  what lesson am I really teaching her?  That I can’t be trusted to keep my word.  That she’s not really accountable for her actions. 

If I swoop in everytime I see my little ones struggling, they never learn how to work through the hard stuff to accomplish the goal.  I unwittingly send them a message that they can’t handle it.  They don’t learn that new skill, or take that lesson to heart.  I took the victory away from them.

I don’t want to do that. 

And I wonder if God does the same for us. 

 We want to know why He doesn’t swoop in and clear the obstacles, take the struggles away.  But maybe, just maybe there’s something to learn in the midst of this struggle.  Maybe, just maybe this present struggle is the exact tool needed to shape me in a special way to be more like Him.  Maybe, just maybe their will be a sweeter fellowship to grow in the midst of this struggle.  Maybe, just maybe something I learn in the this struggle will be an encouragement to someone else later in their struggle.  Maybe, just maybe, a deeper dependence on Him will result from this struggle.  Maybe the present struggle is necessary for victory.

He says He will never leave us, nor forsake us.  He doesn’t say life will be easy.  He never promised that we wouldn’t struggle.  He didn’t say He would rescue us from every hardship.  He just promised us His guidance, wisdom, and presence during our trial.  His grace is sufficient.  He is more than enough.

I want my children to know the same:  I’ll always be here for them, but that doesn’t mean I’ll rescue them from every hardship that comes their way.  And as I watch them struggle and persevere, I’ll thank God for the struggles He allowed in my life that brought me to Him and brought me such precious gifts that would come no other way but through a struggle.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”   James 1:3-4

Learning to put on shoes is a struggle!

Homemade Italian Salad Dressing Mix

Homemade Italian Salad Dressing Mix


My mother in law came up with a great italian salad dressing mix that we are loving!  Our herb garden didn’t do to well last summer, but I am hoping to grow most of these herbs this summer and dehydrate them to use in this, and lots of other things, all year long!  Until then, Winco has a great selection of dried herbs!

Italian Salad Dressing Mix

  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP onion powder
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP dried oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 TBSP dried parsely
  • 1/4 tsp dried celery flakes
  • 1 1/2 TBSP salt



  • 2 TBSP dressing mix
  • 1/4 c. vinegar (white wine or red wine)
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 2/3 c. oil  (I used olive)


It is fresh and full of flavor…perfect for the lettuce that will soon appear in our garden!  Yay for summer coming soon, and lots of garden fresh salad, and dressing!!

Here’s a great deal on seeds to start your herb garden this year!!

Tuesday Tutorial: Michelle’s Zuppa Toscana

Tuesday Tutorial: Michelle’s Zuppa Toscana

Olive Garden is one of our family’s favorite places to eat: there’s something for EVERYONE {even my most picky eater} and nobody leaves hungry!  {It doesn’t hurt that Courtney and I met while both working at the OG either!}  Between being a former  employee and a frequent customer I’m pretty familiar with the menu.  And my favorite soup is hands down their Zuppa Toscana: a creamy, slightly spicy  potato and sausage soup with kale.

 I admit from the get-go that I don’t know Olive Garden’s recipe.  But I think this is close.  And believe me, I’ve eaten enough Zuppa at the OG to know it well!   My husband is also a fan of Zuppa and he says that my recipe is as close as it gets to the real deal (just not as salty, which I do on purpose, and he “remedies” by pouring salt into his bowl at the table.)  He could be humoring me cuz he is a great guy and very loyal {which is why I married him.}  But he’s also  honest.  Either way…why don’t you make it and decide!


  • 2 quarts ham stock (or chicken stock if you don’t have ham)
  • 1-2 quarts water
  • 8-10 medium Russett potatoes (washed)
  • 1 lb  ground sausage (I like Jimmy Dean) or use your favorite Italian sausage
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3-4 large leaves/stalks of kale
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion (about half a small onion)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 T butter
  • basil
  • oregano
  • 3-4 cloves garlic chopped (or garlic powder)
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper

Fill a large pot with the ham stock and water and set on high heat.  Quarter potatoes and slice them (leaving the skins on), and then add them to the pot of water and broth. 

Saute onion in butter and a little olive oil for 3-5 minutes on medium heat until translucent.  Add garlic to the onions and saute for one more minute, being careful not to let the garlic burn. 

Add sausage to the onion/garlic mixture.  If you used Italian sausage (which I typically don’t like if it has fennel seeds) you won’t need much of the basil and oregano maybe a pinch each.  If you’re like me and using regular sausage add 1-2 teaspoons each of basil and oregano to the sausage as it’s cooking to give it that yummy Italian flavor.  Also add about 1 teaspoon of the pepper flakes (more if you like it really spicy!)

Stir the spices and sausage together until meat is just barely cooked through. 

Add sausage mixture to the potatoes and broth and let them simmer together 10-20 minutes. 


Chop kale leaves and set them aside.  

 Add cream to the soup.  Like most soups, the longer it is allowed to simmer together the better it tastes, so simmer as long as you like! 

Add salt, pepper, and chopped kale just before serving. 


Now you just need the breadsticks!


(Crumbled bacon and grated parmesan cheese are yummy toppings too!) 

If you really want an Olive Garden salad to go with your soup you’ll have to pick up a bottle of their salad dressing at the restaurant.  I haven’t been able to duplicate that…yet!  😉

Destination Maternity Corporation 
Buy One Get One Free on all clearance items at Motherhood Maternity! Valid April 16¿18, 2012.

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