Oct 25, 2016

The Ultimate Gift Guide for a 4 Year Old Girl

Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read
So the man in red is coming!  AHHH!  Before I know it he will be knocking on my door.  My daughter is very aware of everything now.  She of course has a long list of things that she wants him to bring her.  

Her mom on the other hand wants her to narrow it down.  Can any of you moms relate?  Ever since I have had kids I have liked to have Santa bring them 4 gifts.  Those include: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.  I do also put 7 things in their stockings as well.  Those include: something to read, something to play with, something to help you learn, something to help you create, something to eat, something to use, and something to wear.  

It does worry me at times because I see what other kids get and I never want her to question if she was good enough.  However, with that said I also know that in America we have things so very nice and easy.  I realize and am thankful for all the blessings and amazing opportunities I have.  I want my daughters to grow up realizing that and knowing that it is not about the THINGS in life.  

I am also more of a minimalist.  I do not like clutter and I don't like unused toys.  So getting dozens of toys from Santa creates more clutter and also gives more toys to then be unused.  I try to teach my oldest about being grateful and that she is loved and a good girl.  Hopefully she will never question those things. 

So I want to share with you ideas that she has liked in each of these categories.  I hope it will help you get ideas for your Christmas shopping list. 
Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read

Oct 21, 2016

The Secrets to Styling a Swing Dress

simple, casual, and classic fall looks
I got my first swing dress about a year ago.  I loved the look of it and it honestly is THE MOST COMFORTABLE dress I have.  I get so many compliments on it.  But I constantly thought it was too boring or plain.  I had to find different ways to style it or else I was going to get tired of it quickly.  

Swing dresses can be worn alone and for the first little bit that is exactly what I did.  However, there are so many different ways to dress it up and help it look like a fresh new look every time you wear it.  Thankfully I have quite a few ways that I style it and I am still not tired of my dress.  

I just got a new swing dress from Cents of Style and I love it.  My first dress was short sleeved and this one is long sleeved so it will be PERFECT for Fall.  I am so excited to show you my secrets on how to style a swing dress.  These are all simple ways!  Just look for inspiration in your closet with the suggestions I share. 

  1. The simple look:  This look is basically just wearing the dress by itself.  You just add any jewelry that you want to liven it up with.  I love the tribe necklaces that I have from Cents of Style.  I have been wearing them with my other swing dress ever since I got them.  I love how it adds something, but still keeps it simple.  Pair this look with ballet flats and you are set.  You could also add a statement necklace if you like that better. 
    The Secrets to Styling a Swing Dress

    The Secrets to Styling a Swing Dress
  2. Casual look: I love to tie a button up shirt around my waist.  The chambray shirt that I tied around in this picture seriously goes with EVERYTHING.  However, you can tie around any button up shirt as long as it matches.  If you have sneakers that match then that is even better! It is a casual look and I love it! 
    The Secrets to Styling a Swing Dress

    The Secrets to Styling a Swing Dress
  3. Classic Fall look: I got my first blanket scarf a couple years ago.  However, I just got this new one from Cents of Style and oh my goodness.  I LOVE it!  I do have a scarf obsession, but this one is my favorite.  I love the colors and maybe I also love it because it seriously is as big as a blanket.  To pull off this look pair with your favorite boots or booties and then throw on a scarf. It seriously is my favorite look, but that is probably because I love Fall and scarfs so much! 
    Classic Fall look: Booties with blanket scarf

    Classic Fall look: Boots with blanket scarf
GREAT NEWS!!!  This dress is on sale this weekend.  With coupon code DRESS2016 you can get this dress for $21.95 + FREE SHIPPING!!!

If you don't have a swing dress already then please go get one for yourself.  You won't regret it. It is my favorite dress to wear as a mom because of how comfortable it is.  If you do have a swing dress then what are your favorite ways to style it? 

simple, casual, and classic fall looks

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Oct 19, 2016

Happy Through Trials: The Secret of Living a Happy Life Despite Your Trials

Divorce, single mom
I have a few more contributors in this series.  I am so excited to be sharing the next one with you.  I am excited because she seriously amazes me.  I know her from junior high and we cheered together in high school.  She is amazing even though her trial is one that scares me so bad.  I hope you can feel how amazing she is as well through this post!  Here's Heidi!
Happy Through Trials: The Secret of Living a Happy Life Despite Your Trials

As I sit down to write about this, I am very emotional, but not because of the trials I have faced in my life, but because I am so very blessed. 

Every single person has individualized trials that are dealt their way.  Not any one person is exempt from this.  But trials come in all different shapes, sizes, degrees, colors…you get the point.  I remember saying some years ago,  “I am so grateful my trial in life isn’t that I’m a single mom….I could never do that.”  Heavenly Father knows each one of us individually and knows how to test us in such a way that we can reach our highest potential.  I was divorced 2 ½ years ago and became a single mom of 3 beautiful boys.  They bless my life in so many immeasurable ways.  We most definitely have our challenges, but we make the best of everything we have.

A couple of years ago, in the middle of my divorce, my children were learning a song for their primary program.  It talked about Noah being a man of no fear, but when he taught repentance, the people would not hear him.  When the Lord asked him to build a boat, he did and he was prepared for the rain falls.  The second verse in that song relates Noah to us and how we can be like Noah, building our arks and doing what we know is right.  The chorus says,

“I will build my ark before it starts to rain.
 I will follow the prophet, for he speaks in God’s name.
I’ll prepare ev’ry needful thing. I will walk in righteous ways.
When the rain starts to fall on me, I’ll be ready for that day”

The first time I really listened to the words in that song, it hit me like a ton of bricks that everything I was taught from the beginning of my life by my parents, nursery leaders, primary teachers, mutual leaders, every calling I have ever served in, every sacrament meeting, stake conference, general conference attended, everything I had been taught throughout my life, was preparing me for challenges I would eventually face and was currently facing.  My parents and leaders had prepared me.  I had gained an undeniable testimony, that the Lord loved me, and I could not say that I was not “ready for that day.”  All I had to do, was hold on to that testimony and the knowledge I had, and not be afraid to do hard things.

Many challenges came in a short amount of time and I had to learn to quickly adapt.  Although I did little jobs here and there to keep up my nursing license, I still considered myself a stay home mom for 7 ½ years.  Suddenly I needed to find a full time job, I had to consider moving, and would now only be able to see my children half of every week.  I was terrified to work again, I loved my neighborhood and didn’t want to move. I couldn’t imagine my life without my kids at all, let alone for even half of the time. 

Happy Through Trials: The Secret of Living a Happy Life Despite Your Trials
My Heavenly Father knows me, and He loves me.  The same week my divorce was final, I was offered a full time job that would allow me to keep my home, and allowed me to work when my kids were with their dad, so that when they  come  home, I can just be home with them, and give them all of the energy I have.  My family lives close by and always without question, steps in to help however we need.  My friends and neighbors also are always looking out for us and quickly turned into family.  They are all such examples to me and I only hope I can give back in some way. 
Happy Through Trials: The Secret of Living a Happy Life Despite Your Trials

I so strongly feel that it is so important to surround yourself with positive relationships.  You become like the people you surround yourself with; so surround yourself with people who will lift you up when you are down, people who you know you can count on, and people who share your joys, struggles and triumphs.  But more importantly, BE that same kind of person back!  It will bring you joy and happiness.  I know this, because I am surrounded by so many of these kinds of people, and they make me want to be a better person every single day because of their example to me.  Truly, I am blessed. 

My children are my absolute world, and we live a happy life!  We have our struggles, yes.  But every family does.  Our family may look and function a little bit different than a “traditional family” but we function, and we love each other.  My boys are the bravest boys I know.  They’ve been through so much in their short little lives.  Besides having their parents divorce, they have faced so much change that came with that.  They’ve experienced loss in multiple ways.  My brother passed away unexpectedly this summer who was very close to them.  They are oh so very strong and THEY are my heroes. 

I’ve always heard the saying that “it takes a village to raise children,” but never did I fully understand what that truly meant.  I couldn’t be more grateful for those who are aware of my children and their needs.  It’s as simple as walking through the door at church with my hands completely full and a fatherly figure noticing and taking a moment to teach my boys chivalry and helping them hold the door open for their mom, or the example of respectful and obedient 12 year old boys, whom my kids idolize and mimic everything they do.  Or a soccer coach who they can look up to, or a school teacher who cares.  Or grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends who at a moment’s notice, will drop anything and everything for the sake of my children when in need.  Most of this “village” probably doesn’t even know how much they contribute to raising my children.  Truly, I am very blessed and so very grateful.
Happy Through Trials: The Secret of Living a Happy Life Despite Your Trials
Going back to work was a hard adjustment.  In fact, I cried and cried when I was first offered the job because I was terrified.  I felt like a brand new nurse all over again.  And I quickly realized how much the world had changed since I had been living in a little “stay- home- mommy bubble” for quite some time now.  I wasn’t sure I would be able to make friends at my new job.  Friends were made who have turned into my work family and I absolutely love my job.  I find joy and happiness in serving those who are nearing the end of their lives.  Truly, I am blessed.

It is important to me to pass on the love of serving others to my family.  At a particular challenging time in my life, I came across a quote by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf that says, “As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness.”  This statement couldn’t be truer.  When I am giving any kind of service, whether it be big or small, I am able to forget about all the worries I have and find true joy in serving.  This is how I eventually was able to find my own happiness.  It is hard when the kids leave and the house suddenly feels like a big empty box, but it was particularly hard in the very beginning.  I had friends who knew when the kids were leaving and always had plans for me so I wouldn’t have to just be home alone.  It was because of those friends and family members who wouldn’t let me wallow in my woes, that I learned to stay busy, and I was the happiest when I was busy helping others.  I hope my children too can learn to find this kind of joy in serving.

So, although our family faces its own challenges, and my life looks quite different than I had ever imagined; through simple things, we find happiness.  Yes being divorced is hard, and yes being a single mom is hard.  But who’s life’s challenges aren’t hard?  Every life challenge is hard! I can’t sit here and say that there weren’t times when I was angry, frustrated, upset and overwhelmed, because there most definitely were.  And in fact, I still have times when I feel that way.  But I have been so blessed by those around me and by my Heavenly Father, that I just cannot be ungrateful.  I am happy.
 I am grateful for the lessons I have learned through life’s challenges, as they have shaped me into the imperfect person I am today.  I know I am a stronger person because of what I have learned along the way.  I know that each challenge I face only prepares me for the next, and as long as I hold on to that testimony and lean on the “ark” I have built, there is always a way to find happiness.  ALWAYS.   I have never felt more carried by my Heavenly Father than I do now.  He won’t ever leave us.  He won’t ever leave me.  All we have to do is stay close to Him and hold on to what we know.  
Single mom, divorce

Read the other posts in this series:

Oct 14, 2016

Simple Fall Dinner Party

party food, party decorations, music play list, party favors, party set up
Ashley is back on the blog and this time she is bringing you a fun topic!  Enjoy! 

“Interesting people, good friends, good food, and a pleasant setting are the ingredients. What brings them together to make a great dinner party? Not champagne and caviar, not fine china and silver—though these are certainly gracious embellishments. The indispensable elements are the hosts and the spirit they bring to the occasion” by Peggy Post (Emily Post’s Etiquette book)
Simple Fall Dinner Party

Emily Post's Etiquette Book

There is only one thing I love more than baking & cooking and that is HOSTING! I learned everything I know from Emily Post’s Etiquette Book. It is still one of my very favorite gifts from my husband. Every etiquette or hosting question is answered in this book. I have even taught classes from this book. It is wonderful and I highly recommend it to every woman!

On to the dinner party. Whether you are wanting to have your friends over for a beautiful autumn dinner or planning ahead for hosting Thanksgiving. I hope this post will give you some fun ideas.

party decorations, music play list, party favors, party set up, invitations

The details!
Date: Saturday evening in September

Guests/Invitation: Although informal and not always appropriate, I used a Facebook Event to invite my guests. It’s fast, easy, free, gives you an accurate head count, allows you to change your event, and gives your guests a reminder. This particular dinner was for all woman. Ages 8-68!

Food: I was planning on 25 people, so I needed something easy, affordable, and simple. Our menu: Soups (Chicken Pot Pie & Cheddar Broccoli/Cauliflower), Bread Bowls, 2 salads, wheat & white rolls, ice water, and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (recipe below).  I read in my etiquette book that when Soup is going to be your main course, you need to double the amount per person. Helpful tip! I used several carafes for ice water so that no one had to get up from their seat once they had their food. 
Simple Fall Dinner Party

Simple Fall Dinner Party

Simple Fall Dinner Party

Simple Fall Dinner Party

Simple Fall Dinner Party

Simple Fall Dinner Party

Set Up:  I (well my wonderful, supportive husband) moved the furniture out of my living room so that we could all be seated together. I used two banquet style/church tables. I set up the food buffet in my kitchen. I set the table first thing in the morning so I can rearrange and have plenty of time before I need to prepare the food.

Music Playlist: Although Country is my favorite kind of music, it didn’t quite fit with my elegant Fall theme. I wanted something classy & timeless. I created a Pandora station that consisted of: Frank Sinatra, Norah Jones, Nat King Cole, Michael Buble, and Louis Armstrong. It was just what I wanted!

Decorations: The best part!! I bought red Pioneer Woman tablecloths & large pumpkins for the centerpieces of the tables from Walmart. The rest of my decorations came from the dollar store! I bought leaf garland to go down the middle of the tables along with some little pumpkins, napkins, place mats, the orange bowls, Fall hand towels and the goblets. I used my white plates and real silverware.

Simple Fall Dinner Party

Simple Fall Dinner Party

Simple Fall Dinner Party

Party Favors: I bought treat bags from the dollar store. I filled them with assorted Halloween chocolates and tied them with jute.
Simple Fall Dinner Party

 I ended up having 20 people come and it was wonderful evening!
Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (my new favorite pumpkin cookie recipe)
1 cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup oatmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 cup of chocolate chips

Dough is wet! Bake at 350 for 11 minutes. 
Simple Fall Dinner Party

Oct 13, 2016

Thankful Turkey: A Thanksgiving Tradition

Halloween is over and the excitement of Christmas is knocking at your door.  The kids are, hmmm how should I say this, OUT OF CONTROL.  Many times all you hear is what they want for Christmas.  There is so much excitement and it is hard to contain it.  

I have often contemplated getting out our Elf on the Shelf very early just so I can help give my girls something to help keep their excitement in check.  I have even thought about starting an Christmas advent calendar that early.  However, I am BIG on not overlooking a great holiday.  That holiday is Thanksgiving.  

The month of November is a PERFECT time to set up our attitude for the coming holiday.  However, it is hard to do when Christmas is so huge and Thanksgiving is often overlooked.  There are so many things to help keep the spirit of Christmas in our homes, but nothing really for Thanksgiving.

I have always done a gratitude board, tree, or banner for the month of November.  However, this year I wanted to start something fun.  I wanted to do something that was geared towards kids.  Something that could be a game (sort of), but still helping my girls have a thankful attitude.  

I love the idea of the Elf on the Shelf.  I love the general principle of it.  I am not a huge person to have our elf do crazy things.  I do not go overboard, but I do think it brings the magic of Christmas into our home in a small and simple way. 

So I decided to come up with a Thanksgiving friend for the month of November.  Introducing... Thankful Turkey.  I love him and I think he's kind of cute.  

I want to share this idea with you in case you are struggling like me then you have something you can do during the month of November.  It is really simple and it is something fun to do each morning in November. 

I have provided all the printables you will need.  So really you just need to get a turkey, print off the printables, and then follow the daily directions.  They should not be too hard to do each day.  Make it simple.  I do not like things that are difficult or cause stress.  This should not be one of those things!

Oct 1, 2016

The Ultimate Guide to a Happy Halloween

Treats, Halloween costumes, Halloween decorations,pumpkin decorating
I was provided free product from Oriental Trading in exchange for a blog post.  No other type of compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.

Halloween is less than a month away!  Are you ready?  Do you have the Halloween treats/prizes for your kids classmates?  Do you have the candy ready for trick or treaters?  Did you spend a fortune on it?  Do you have your decorations up?  How are your decorations looking?  Are they a bit old and sad looking?  Have you picked up your pumpkins?  If you have then have you made time to decorate them with your kids?  

Don't get me wrong...I LOVE HOLIDAYS.  However, sometimes we expect way too much of ourselves when it comes to holidays.  I am so very guilty of this.  For instance with Halloween I tend to think I need to hand make my girls Halloween costumes.  I mean it is cheaper so why not?  I tend to try and hand make cute packages that my oldest daughter gives to her classmates.  

I try to do a Halloween party for kids.  I try to do different and fun things with all the pumpkins on my porch.  Then I try to make some grandiose new decoration.  You know, with all the spare time I have.   Then lastly I usually forget about the candy and I end up paying a good fortune on it and I am not that happy with the candy that I pick. 

This year I was determined to do it different.  I have been struggling with anxiety and I knew I needed to change things this holiday season for my own mental health, but also for the good of my own family.  So I decided to simplify things this year.  Who's with me?  Do you want to simplify your Halloween as well?  

Halloween decorations, pumpkin decorating, Halloween costumes, Halloween Candy

Here's ways I plan to have a Happy Halloween (but simplify at the same time).


I am hand making my youngest daughter's costume, but it is so simple that I am actually putting my husband in charge of it.  We are excited to do it together and it won't take long at all.  For my oldest daughter we bought a Halloween costume at a second hand store by us.  She is in love with it and I figured it was easy and inexpensive for me and I LOVE to see her happy.  Oriental Trading has great costumes.  I just have a picky daughter that has to try them on.  (yeah I have no idea where she came from!)

Items to pass out to classmates
The Ultimate Guide to a Happy Halloween

Usually I try to make these beautiful and basically kill myself over it.  However, the kids really do not care at all.  Although I do love to make paper crafts I came to the realization that this year is not the time.  So this year I am going to give her classmates a bundle of temporary tattoos (Item #: IN-25/716).  These are not any tattoos, but these glow in the dark!  So much fun!  The best part is the price!  These are only $5.99 for 6 dozen!  That is roughly $.08 a tattoo.  My daughter is so excited to give them to her friends. 

Treats to pass out for trick or treaters
The Ultimate Guide to a Happy Halloween

Every year I want to give something to trick or treaters that is not candy.  Kids get so much candy for Halloween I love the idea of giving them something else.  This year I am finally doing it.  I am giving out Halloween pretzels (Item #: IN-K678) this year.  Again these are not a break the bank option.  They are $5.98 for 48 packets.  So that turns into $0.13 a packet.  Not bad at all. 

Pumpkin Decorating
The Ultimate Guide to a Happy Halloween

This year we are having fun decorating pumpkins, but it isn't messy and my 4 year old can do it completely by herself.  She has so much fun picking what eyes she wants with what mouth.  She seriously is in love with these stickers (Item #: IN-13707814) and making different faces.  These packets will last us forever.  They would be PERFECT for a party because there are so many options.  With this you get 12 sheets of stickers for $4.99. If these are a little too silly for you there are so many options to choose from.  However, these will make you laugh for sure.  We were all laughing while decorating them. 

Halloween Decorations 

This Halloween I have a new garland that I didn't lift a finger to make.  I have a slight obsession with garlands and this Candy Corn Garland (Item #: IN-13602080) is seriously so cute!  I love it accenting my chalkboard that I love to update every month or so. 

Then since I absolutely love making wreaths I decided I would do that one thing this year.  Although it isn't the easiest thing because it doesn't come ready, but I still love crafting and honestly I so happy when I craft.  So I decided to put together a wreath that wouldn't take long and would be made by me.  Even if you are not a crafter I can promise you can make this.  

  1. Gather supplies
    The Ultimate Guide to a Happy Halloween
    1. Grapevine wreath
    2. 2 Black Feather Boas (Item #: IN-25/702)
    3. Black pipe cleaners
    4. Ribbon (any color that will look good together)
    5. Black crow(s) (Item #: IN-70/1642)
    6. "Happy Haunting" Sign (Item #: IN-13605330)
  2. Place one end of the boa on wreath form and attach with a pipe cleaner. 
    Halloween wreath
  3. Wrap the boa around the wreath.  Make sure you do not see the grapevine wreath underneath.  
  4. When the first boa runs out then secure it along with the beginning of the next boa to the wreath with a pipe cleaner.  Then secure the end of 2nd boa the same way. 
    Halloween wreath
  5. Wrap the ribbon around the wreath while still allowing the boas to show through. Again securing with a pipe cleaner. 
    Halloween wreath
  6. Attach one crow to the bottom of the inside of the wreath.  These crows come with wires attached to the feet.  This makes it super simple to attach a pipe cleaner to the crow and then attach the crow to the wreath. 
    Halloween wreath
    Halloween wreath
  7. Attach the sign with pipe cleaners as well.  
    Halloween wreath
    Halloween wreath
  8. If you want you can add the second crow to the top of the wreath.  It looks fantastic both ways.
    Halloween wreath
Pretty easy right?  I love that I have everything prepared.  I am ready for Halloween and I am not stressing about it.  No I didn't hand do everything, but I did make one thing.  That way I can still do things I love, but I am not having a panic attack while doing it.  

What way(s) do you want to simplify your Halloween this year? 

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