Food Links I Love

Food Links I Love

I was going through my Feedly and realized there were quite a few recipes I had bookmarked and forgotten about. I’ve pinned them to Pinterest and am going to give some of them a try soon. Pinterest is my favorite source of recipe inspiration when I need it. Here are a couple recipes that I want to try.

Ree (the Pioneer Woman) shared her recipe for queso fundido. I’ve never tried making a queso from scratch but this recipe looks amazing! Although, as I’ve said before, I love almost all her recipes I’ve tried!

Ashley has a recipe for easy tortellini soup. It really does look simple – and delicious. I have some tortellini in the freezer that make this recipe worth a try.

A Farmgirl Dabbles shared her Mom’s take on peanut butter cereal bars with chocolate frosting. I have a similar recipe but want to try her recipe using cornflakes.

I’ve very intrigued by Shaina’s recipe for molten orange chocolate lava cakes in jars. Chocolate and orange is a great combination and what a fun idea to serve dessert in ball jars! Cute and delicious.

Jan made a vanilla chai cupcake with cinnamon buttercream icing that looks incredible. I’m amazed at how she frosts her cupcakes so beautifully.

Do you have any favorite recipes I should try? I do enjoy trying new recipes.

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Motherhood Links I Love

Links I Love

Being a Mom is hard work. Thankfully, I went into the task with my eyes wide open. After so many years of waiting to be a Mom, it does make the hard times a bit easier…some days. Other days, it’s still hard work. Here are a variety of links that pertain to the task of motherhood. All encouraged me as I hope they do you!

Stephanie at Six Figures Under posed an interesting question by asking should you pay off debt before you have children? Like her, I believe there is never an ideal time and you will never be fully prepared financially. Still, it is a question each couple needs to consider.

Alison shared about 19 types of Moms and asked which one you are. We are many of them – and through our day, the Mom we are often changes. There are some good resources here with this list!

Lisa-Jo gave encourage for the times you worry your life is too small to qualify for big ministry. I’m sure every Mom can relate to these feelings of inadequacy at times.

Kalyn shared a guest post by Kim on how to afford being a stay-at-home mom – focusing particularly on the transition from working woman to staying home. 

I really liked this letter to the Momma at Chick-fil-a. Scissortail Silk has beautiful encouragement of all sorts. I also liked this reminder to wives – before you were Mommy.

Finally, my absolute favorite bit of encouragement came from Jaime. She thoughtful posed the question, should I be doing more? I love, love, love this…especially since I’ve been thinking about this myself recently. Okay, like Jaime, I often think about this. Do you?

Wherever you are, Mom, and whoever you are. Whatever your day (or night) brings, may you remember that God has chosen you to parent your children. Remember that. Cling to that amazing knowledge. And go love your kids – and the task of being Mom!

1st Birthday Links & Inspiration

1st Birthday Party Links & Inspiration

We’re hosting Nathan’s 1st birthday party today (3 days before he officially turns one). I’ll be sure to update you with pictures and the details behind his party soon. For now, since I’ll be busy in the kitchen today and with our company (my brother and sister – with her husband and son drove up from St. Louis), I’ll share with you some of my inspiration for the party. You can look at these ideas and compare them to my interpretation once I share! :-)

I want to start Nathan’s actual birthday with a crib picture like this and end it with a sleeping one like this. Both priceless!

There were so many adorable chalkboard prints like this so I decided to create my own version. We used it as the invitation and to display. It turned out great – and was much cheaper than ordering it on Etsy (as well designed as that one was)!

Nathan loves books (just like his Mommy) and Little Blue Truck is his favorite. The themed truck ideas were precious but we expanded it into a book party using more of Nathan’s favorite books and some of the ideas here.

Do you want to guess what foods we’ll make for each book? Some of the recipes I’m using are the Pioneer Woman’s macaroni and cheese, mini ham and cheese sliders, and rainbow fruit cups.

baked this layered cake for everyone but of course, I baked a separate little one for Nathan. Betty Crocker had some adorable ideas for smash cakes. Did you know they had an official name like that?

I really appreciated the advice shared about taking professional pictures of a smash cake at home. There was more good advice here and I love the sprinkle idea, too!

I’ve taken pictures of Nathan over the past 12 months so I’ll have those to display. I love displaying the pictures in a big frame but the garland idea was easier to do.

I’ve had fun putting on my creative hat for this party but now I’m simply looking forward to celebrating the day with my sweet baby boy!

Lessons from the Newborn Days

Lessons from the Newborn Days - There is much to appreciate and learn from those first days, weeks and months when you have a baby. Here are some of the lessons I learned in hopes that it encourages other new mamas.

When I was pregnant, I read lots of books and blogs, all full of advice for pregnancy and parenting. There was so much information about having a healthy pregnancy and countless opinions available on labor. The same is true with parenting and caring for a baby, but there were many things I didn’t know until I did it.

This was a list I began months ago when I was in the midst of caring for my newborn, Nathan. Amazingly, my little, tiny baby will turn one in a week. The past year has flown by. As I look back over the past year, I thought it fitting that I share this list now. These are a couple things I wished others had told me – or the things I wish all mama’s of newborns would know.

You don’t get a medal for having a baby without an epidural. My friend, Allison, wisely told me this piece of advice. If you want to labor without an epidural, that is certainly your prerogative. The same can be said of your decision to have an epidural. I wasn’t planning on having an epidural, but when my labor sped up too rapidly (with contractions every minute when I was only 4 cm) for the doctor’s comfort (and mine!), I opted for an epidural. I was glad I did! My sisters have amazingly labored without epidurals. We all ended up with healthy babies. This is just one of the many difference of opinions but every laboring mama gets to decide for themselves.

Enjoy your time at the hospital with nurses available at any hour of the day or night. Yes, the constant interruptions can be annoying to some but I chose to be thankful for their constant checking up on me. Ask your questions. Accept the advice they give. And be sure to take home the “free” things they give you – like bottles, diapers, pads, and formula.

Lessons from the Newborn Days - Take advantage of your nurses while you can.

If someone offers to bring you a meal, graciously take them up on the offer. It may not be a meal you’d typically cook for your family, but the time spent out of the kitchen is lovely! Even if you have meals in your freezer and feel ready to cook, still accept the gift of a free meal for what it is. A thoughtful gift!

Your baby will take all your time. Find a comfortable spot because you will be spending majority of your days (and nights) feeding your baby. Remember that the typical two hours of a newborn baby’s feeding schedule are from the start of one feeding to the start of the next – so it’s really only an hour and a half break (or less) between feedings. The time between feedings does lengthen as your baby grows. There will come a time when you can do things other than feed your baby.

Learn to appreciate any amount of sleep you can get. It’s been said to sleep whenever the baby sleeps. Sometimes that is possible but sometimes it is not. After waking up multiple times through the night, and with an early rising baby who still likes to wake around 5, I found those early morning naps (around 8am) to be just what I needed before getting started on my day. It’s also important to go to bed earlier in the newborn days because you will be up before you know it with your baby. And most importantly, remember that someday, you will sleep again!

Lesssons from the Newborn Days - Appreciate any amount of sleep you can get!

Whether you breastfeed or use formula, you need to keep your baby well-fed. I planned to nurse and, thankfully, was able to do so for the first 12 months of Nathan’s life. I never anticipated using formula, but due to his unexpected start in the NICU, he did take a bottle. After a week or so, Nathan was a primarily breastfed with only an occasional formula bottle, but I learned not to feel guilty about using formula. That said, just because your baby starts on formula doesn’t preclude you from successfully nursing. On the flip side, a little bit of occasional formula won’t hurt your baby if he / she is hungry! Nursing was the more frugal and convenient option for our family, but I have many friends who have transitioned to formula with their babies just fine.

Stock up on free formula deals before the baby is born. Even if you are not expecting to use formula,you may find you need it. For that reason, accept all the freebie samples that come in the mail, as well as from your doctor, and save them until after the baby is born. If you don’t need them, then you can easily give the formula to a friend who needs it for her baby or donate to a local pregnancy crisis center. You will save a lot of money (for you or someone else) by collecting these formula freebies.

You will question what is normal for your newborn. Should he breathe like that? Is that congestion typical? Are all babies this gassy? Is she eating enough? Is he sleeping enough? Especially if this is your first one, there will be questions. Call your Mom. Ask your doctor. Text your friends. And (cautiously) Google, if only for your own assurance. This is normal to wonder what is normal.

Plan to accomplish only one or two things a day. It may be as simple as showering and unloading the dishwasher. Or perhaps doing a load of laundry from start to finish. Keep your plans simple and you’ll be much happier at what you accomplished. This one was a hard one for me since I was used to accomplishing a lot during my days. You are still accomplishing a lot but most of that is tied to the care of your baby.

Learn how to use a baby wrap. I am convinced this relates directly to the previous lesson. You get more done when you have free arms. A baby wrap / carrier makes that possible. There are countless options! I was given a Baby K’tan and Nathan loved it. I loved it, too! He spent a lot of time in that wrap as a baby. It was a lifesaver in the grocery store and even made our walks to the post office more enjoyable.

Lessons from the Newborn Days - Learn how to use a baby wrap.

Take lots of pictures. There will come a day when you’re not snapping as many pictures as you do in those first days. Keep your camera nearby and take pictures of all those moments you want to remember. Sleeping, tummy time, bath time, in the bassinet, in the car seat, with the pacifier, and of course, take pictures of all the people who come to visit. If you are a video person, do the same. Nathan used to make this sound like a little puppy whenever he started to nurse and I wish we had recorded that sound. Oh, how we laughed!

Write down the firsts and the little (and big) events you want to remember. This is where I didn’t do as good of job as I planned. It’s hard in the sleeplessness of newborn days to keep track of all these things. I wish I would have kept a calendar attached to the fridge where I could jot little notes. I have little notes all over the place but didn’t stick with any one thing….and it’s already hard to remember the specifics of all those little moments I was so delighted by.

You are the Mama that God chose for this baby. No one else can take your place. Trust your instincts. Follow your heart. You will do things different from your Mom, sister, friends and neighbors. It’s okay. Don’t be offended by well meaning advice. You’ll choose to follow some and ignore the rest. Do what works for you and your baby and your family. Do what you and your husband believe is best for your baby!

Lessons from the Newborn Days - You are the Mama God chose for your baby!

Cherish these days because they will be over before you realize it. All too soon your baby will be sitting up and crawling and walking and the memories of these newborn days will fade. I love the quote about time spent raising children, “The days are long but the years are short.” This is most certainly true for life with a newborn.

Those are a couple pieces of advice from a mother who is past the newborn days with her (gasp) almost 1 year old son. What pieces of advice would you add to this list?

Sun Maid Instant Win: 14,000 Free Books

Win a Free Children's Book


Here is another instant win sweepstakes and one that I’m particularly excited about! Sun Maid Raisins are giving away 14,000 free children’s books – or 200 daily! Through May 23rd, head over here daily to enter for your chance to instantly win one of 14,000 free book including Goodnight Moon,The Grouchy Ladybug, or Paddington ($17.99 value). Again, there will be a total of 200 winners every day. Let me know if you win a book!

Thanks, Hip 2 Save!

Recent Links I Love

Links I Love

Here’s another list of links I loved. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoy sharing them! There is a lot of wisdom (and deliciousness) out there that I just can’t keep to myself.

Jon Acuff had a great point when he said everything is a classroom. We can and should be learning daily from all those around us!

The Nester had some great advice about when it’s time to paint your ugly floor. This is why I keep reading her blog because she reminds us it doesn’t have to be perfect to be lovely! Sometimes, you just have to jump in and get started – somewhere!

Edie wrote about finding your calling in chaos. We may not lose our homes the way she did, but we have our own unique challenges. God is with us each step of the way!

I loved Shelly’s honesty with her recent frugal failure in buying cheap bread. We’ve all had frugal failures of our own! I just had one and stayed tune because I’ll be sharing it on Shelly’s blog soon.

Ruth listed 9 conversations every couple needs to have. It’s a big yet important list. Read it carefully – and start talking!

Crystal had a great reminder that we need to choose love today.  Some moments this is easier said than done, but we can make the choice. Love is a choice.

Finally, let’s end on a tasty note. Adriane at Little House on the Dairy shared her memories of – and a recipe for – oatmeal marble chip squares. They look nice and gooey and delicious!

Do you have links to share with us?

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Kroger: Basketball Bracket Instant Win Game

Kroger Basketball Bites Bracket

Kroger has a new instant win game called Basketball Bites Bracket. Daily, two different snacks will be shown. Vote on your favorite for a chance to win one of the following prizes. Prizes will be digitally loaded to your Kroger card. You can play daily, now through April 6th. Let me know if you and what you win! Instant win prizes include:

  • 250 – $25 Gift Card for the Kroger Co. Family of Stores
  • 300 – Wheat Thins Toasted Pita (8 oz.)
  • 300 – Wheat Thins Crackers (5.5-9.1 oz.)
  • 300 – Wheat Thins Popped (4.5 oz.)
  • 300 – Ritz Crackers (7.5-13.7 oz.)
  • 300 – Ritz Toasted Chips (8.1 oz.)
  • 2,000 – Hershey’s or Reese’s King Size Candy Bars
  • 1,000 – Powerade (32 oz.)
  • 1,500 – Coke Zero (20 oz.)
  • 1,500 – Coke Zero (1.25 L)

March Madness Sweepstakes

If you have a couple minutes, I’ve found that sweepstakes can be a good way to win some free products or prizes. I’m a fan of the instant win ones with lots of prizes because I know right away if I’ve won. I also like the ones where you can register once but enter daily to increase your odds. To make the most of my time, I’ve started entering both my husband and myself at the same time – to better our odds. Here are a couple sweepstakes that I’m currently entering.

Nabisco Snack Bracket Sweepstakes

Through April 6th, you can daily enter the Nabisco Snack Bracket sweepstakes. I’m playing for my chance at one of the 1000 $25 gift cards they are giving away. Although, the grand prize is tickets to the Final Four which my husband would love! You collect a game piece each day you enter and you can also rate the recipes daily for more entries.

Coke Zero Bracket Sweeps

Also through April 6th, you can daily enter the Coke Zero Bracket Sweeps. This one you can actually enter twice per day and are assigned a team each time you enter. As your team advances, you’ll have chances to win prizes like free Coke, Reese’s peanut butter cups, or yes, tickets to the Final Four.

Twix Pick a Side

This one lasts through December 31st, so there is lots of time to daily enter Twix Pick a Side sweepstakes! They are giving away 100,000 FREE Twix coupons ($1.49 value) and 400,000 FREE music downloads. Each time you enter the instant win, you are also entered to win the grand prize of $100,000. Even better, you can win 5 times with this sweepstakes. I’ve won 2 music downloads but would really prefer to win the free Twix.

Mars Big Night In Instant Win

Finally, through April 16th, you can still daily enter the Mars Big Night In Instant Win Sweepstakes for your chance to win games, free chocolate coupons or movies. You can also win 5 prizes with this sweepstakes. I’ve already won a free candy bar coupon with this sweepstakes.

Happy entering and let me know if you win anything!

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Pioneer Woman Recipe Links To Try

Pioneer Woman Recipe Links I Want to Try - Joyfully Thriving

I have always loved flipping through cookbooks. Perhaps that is why I enjoy browsing Pinterest for recipe inspiration so much! I read several cooking blogs but some are hit and miss. There is one cooking blog that always provides reliably good recipes. That is Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman fame. I have tried many of her recipes already (love her cinnamon rolls!) and have many more that I want to try. Here are a couple of her recipes that I currently want to try.

I love pasta of all kinds. My husband really only likes fettuccine alfredo and only on occasion. I’ve never tried making it but Ree’s recipe for this creamy pasta means maybe I will – just for Andy.

Her recipe for corn and cheese chowder seems like something I would really enjoy. Especially if I were dedicated enough to make a bread bowl for it! This also seems like a perfect soup for winter.

Ree has a fun twist on macaroni with her recipe for shells and cheese (with bacon and peas). Macaroni is already good but bacon makes everything better! I’m still experimenting with macaroni and cheese recipes. So far, the Pioneer Woman’s recipe is my winner for homemade mac and cheese.

I have grown to love grilled veggies so this recipe for grilled veggie burritos looks amazing to me. I love that she put rice in there, just like Chipotle! I could (and should) make this at home, as soon as garden vegetables are in season again.

Finally, Ree recently shared this recipe for apple peanut butter delights. It’s so simple with english muffins, apples, peanut butter and cinnamon sugar but looks absolutely delicious!

There you have it. Those are a couple of the current Pioneer Woman recipes I want to cook. Have you tried any of her recipes? Which ones are your favorites?

Bonus Points for My Coke Rewards

Coke Bonus Points

Are you a Coke Rewards member? If you are, right now you can enter any cap codes you have for double points! This offer is good through March 13th only. If you’re not a member, consider signing up. Coke Rewards is one of the ways I earn my free Shutterfly books. We don’t necessarily drink a lot of soda, but other people give us their codes too.