Encouragement for Moms from Lisa-Jo

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Lisa-Jo Baker is a talented writer and as she would say, an ordinary mother. Yet, I would like to add that she is an ordinary mother whom God has given an extra-ordinary way with words. She recently published a beautiful book called Surprised by Motherhood. It was just what I needed to read in my own early days of motherhood. Since then, I have found myself encouraged over and over by her blog. Lisa-Jo speaks to my heart with just the encouragement I didn’t know I needed. Read this. Be encouraged today!

A prayer for all the weary Thursday Mothers reminded me not to “rush through today or wish it over.” I need to remember this. Always.

The false advertising about Motherhood lists 10 things many of us have believed. Remember, “It’s ok to feel overwhelmed and it’s ok to feel like there are some days you just want to quit. That’s normal. You’re phenomenal. I’ve never understood why there aren’t more parades in your honor.”

Not to be left out, share this with the Dad in your life. For all the “ordinary, boring” Dads from your grateful daughters, you need to know that “you might be surprised by what we remember.” Because “the memories of what we did together will always trump the lost ones of what we didn’t.”

The growing pains of Motherhood reminds us that we are not alone. Other mothers are experiencing the same moments we are. As Lisa-Jo says, “I see you measuring your day in inches as the years stretch ahead in long miles.”

Her perspective on what the gang wars and Mommy wars have in common was shockingly accurate. “The thing is, the woman we’re so offended by – she bears your name. She bears my name. She is also Mother.”

Finally, I leave you with this for when you’re tired of the “how-to” books of parenting as another reason you should read Lisa-Jo’s beautiful book. “Motherhood isn’t a competition. It’s a calling.”

Patriotic Links I Love for the 4th

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How can it be that Fourth of July is next week already? It seems that summer just started! I’ve been thinking about all things red, white and blue as we host a patriotic bridal shower for my future sister-in-law this weekend. Here are some of my favorite patriotic links.

If / when I have a mantle, I would decorate it just like this 4th of July one at Landee See, Landee Do. Simple but festive.

For some quick decorations, HMH Designs has three unique free printables on America and our National Anthem.

I love the simplicity of this patriotic berry dessert from Around My Family Table.

Shugary Sweets put a festive spin on her meringue cookies by dying them red, white and blue. Cute!

Domestically Speaking made an adorable burlap table runner for the Fourth. Plus, there is no sewing required!

This patriotic wall art that Melissa made is also something that I could do. Great idea!

Did you notice the theme running through these links? Yes, they are all patriotic but they are also all simple ideas! You’re welcome for that! :-) And Happy 4th of July!

Ice Cream Links I Love

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Summer is here at last and that makes me think of ice cream. This is the time of year when I think having an ice cream maker would be fun. However, I’d probably eat too much ice cream for my own good! That said, I have been accumulating quite a few homemade ice cream recipes – all that do NOT require an ice cream maker. I want to give some of these a try this summer.

I’ve already made frozen chocolate chip yogurt. This recipe is so simple – and so delicious! Andy enjoys this recipe, too. This recipe tastes just as good before it is frozen, so good luck waiting to eat this one!

Budget Savy Diva shared her recipe for easy homemade vanilla ice cream. With only three ingredients (and one of them sweetened condensed milk), this recipe looks very easy.

This must be a good recipe because Kevin & Amanda share the same simple recipe. Then, they suggest lots of add-ins to make varieties such as cinnamon bun ice cream. Knowing this is a basic recipe gives me a lot of ideas to make different ice creams!

Not Your Momma’s Cookie shared her take with “no machine” monster cookie dough ice cream. With this one, you mix up the cookie dough mixture first before stirring it into the ice cream. Yum!

Eagle Brand has several ice cream recipes on their site. The mint chocolate chip ice cream is the first one I want to try. I think I’ve actually made a similar recipe from Taste of Home.

If you want to see more, you can view all the other ice cream recipes I want to try on my Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker Pinterest Board.

Money Saving Links I Love

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Andrea Dekker shared their Savings Journey: Living Off Half Our Income. I think this is something many of us would like to do, but we don’t always think it’s possible. It’s nice to read a story of someone who made it happen.

The Prudent Homemaker shared her strategies for Cutting Expenses When You Think You Have Nothing Left to Share. This family has seen dramatic income losses, but yet they are still finding ways to cut expenses. We may not think a savings of 5 cents a day is worth it, but over the course of the year, that adds up to almost $20. Everything adds up! This is good food for thought.

Anita shared a guest post at Money Saving Mom of How We Increased Our Savings $136 a Month. Again, the areas of savings may be different for everyone but they found ways to save. Good inspiration!

Kristen of The Frugal Girl shared her thoughts on Saving Time vs. Saving Money. While the activities may be different for everyone, her principles of how to chose are good guidelines.

Lynette of Cleverly Simple wrote How Living in a Rural Area Helped Me Save Money. I’ve been asked this question before and I think her points are excellent ones. Even living in a city, you can apply some of these ideas.

Mandi at Life Your Way discussed the Time Cost of Our Stuff. We don’t often think about this aspect of money saving but I believe it’s true. Decluttering our lives would save many of us substantially.

Finally, Jessica of Good Cheap Eats shared 5 Ways to Stock Your Pantry on a Budget. These are all good tips but my favorite is to shop the stores sales and close-outs. It’s amazing what deals you can find simply by keeping your eyes open.

Have you read any good money saving advice lately?

Mac & Cheese Links To Try

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Lately, I’ve found myself craving macaroni and cheese. Like so many others, I grew up with the blue box Kraft mac and cheese. It’s still nice on occasion, but I now feel like there must be a good homemade alternative. Do you know how many different variations there are for mac and cheese? I don’t know how to decide which one is best other than to try them all! Here are some of the recipes on my list.

Of course, I should start with the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Macaroni and Cheese. Ree has yet to steer me wrong on recipes so this seems like a good place to start. Plus, it seems pretty basic.

The Lovely Little Kitchen shared her version of Mac and Cheese that is created with a combination of colby and sharp cheddar cheese. I made this one already when my friend, Allison, came over for a visit. I didn’t top it with bread crumbs but it was still good.

Mandi’s recipe at Life…Your Way is unique because it calls for the addition of cream cheese. I want to try her Creamy Homemade Macaroni and Cheese because cream cheese in anything is delicious!

Shugary Sweets shared a Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese recipe that sounds delicious. It has cream and white cheddar, which sets it apart from the other recipes. I actually have never tried the Mac and Cheese at Panera but this recipe intrigues me.

I have tried Beecher’s famous Mac and Cheese in Seattle and Martha Steward shares the actual recipe with the World’s Best Mac and Cheese. This recipe does require a separate step of making a cheese sauce, but if it tastes as good as the mac and cheese we ate in Seattle, it will be worth it!

Savory Reviews shared a recipe that is supposed to be similar to the Noodles and Company Wisconsin Mac and Cheese. Again, I’ve never tried it but I like the idea of a cheese sauce with noodles and more cheese piled on it.

Have you tried any of these mac and cheese recipes? Or do you have another one I should try? Any secrets for making a good homemade mac and cheese?  I’m determined to do it! I’ve printed off all the recipes so now I just need to start trying them. I’ll let you know which recipe wins, once I’ve tried them all, that is!

Interesting Links I Love

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I realized it’s been awhile since I shared some of the interesting links I’ve saved in my Feedly reader. It’s eclectic mix with the common thread that all are links that I found interesting.

Andrea is a mom with a toddler and new baby. I appreciated her motivation that Organized Days start with Organized Nights. I believe this has long been my Mom’s philosophy and one that I am now embracing, too.

Ruth shared her recipe for Basic Freezer Bread. I normally bake my bread before freezing it but I love the idea of freezing the dough so I can have hot, fresh bread whenever I want it.

Another Kristen hit the nail on the head when she wrote Because $90,000 Isn’t Enough. Clearly. It’s concerning that a family can really think that, although many of us have probably thought something similar at some point in time.

Jen had a creative idea for making party decorations with Marshmallow, Cupcake and Coffee Filter Garland. It sounds odd but when you see her pictures, it works!

Tim Elmore shared Five Lessons We Can Learn from the Greatest Generation. These are all excellent points – especially prudent savings and faithful commitment.

I’ll leave you with those links for now…until next week, when I have others to share!

Peanut Butter Links I Love

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Ah, peanut butter. Is there anything more ideal than the combination of chocolate and peanut butter? I’ve always liked peanut butter – but when paired with chocolate, I really like peanut butter! Buckeyes are proof that peanut butter and chocolate are meant to be together. Recently, I’ve discovered quite a few more peanut butter (and chocolate) recipes that I want to try. I don’t know if they’ll be as good as buckeyes (or buckeye cake) but I’d like to give them a try.

This was the recipe that started my thinking of these delicious pairings. Cathy of Lemon Tree Dwelling shared her recipe for Cookie Dough-Stuffed Peanut Butter Fudge. Yum! I love cookie dough and I love peanut butter fudge. What an novel pairing for this decadent dessert!

Lindsay of Life, Love and Sugar shared her recipe for Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Brownie Layer Cake. I’m not really a cake fan, but since the cake is more like a brownie, I could – and would – make an exception.

The Food Fanatic shared a simpler recipe for Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies. It’s simpler than the recipe above, but still looks quite tasty. I like the idea of a frosting on my brownie, too.

The Sweet and Crunchy Blog shared a recipe for Layered Peanut Butter Brittle Ice Cream Pops. No special molds required as they are made in simple paper cups. These look delicious for summer!

Crunchy Creamy Sweet shared a recipe for Skinny Peanut Butter Cup Dip. It’s only 4 ingredients – and uses Greek yogurt to lighten it up. Hmm. Next time I buy Greek yogurt, I’m going to give this dip a try.

Finally, Sally of Sally’s Baking Addiction shared her recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Lover’s Granola. There are only 7 ingredients needed for this recipe, too. If you haven’t visited Sally’s blog before, do! It’s the most delicious baking blog ever.

If you don’t like peanut butter, my apologies! For those of you who share my love of peanut butter, which recipe would you like to try first?

Baking Links I Love

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I am slowly getting back into my baking mood. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve wanted to bake, but I haven’t had spare hands and time enough to bake lately. Even so, I’ve been adding to my list of recipes I want to bake.

First, let me share two recipes that my Mom baked while she was here. It was nice to try new recipes with her. She made these Oatmeal Craisin Breakfast Bars that were quite yummy. We used regular chocolate chips instead of white. I liked them a lot, but Mom liked them even more – baking three pans in two days! At my request, Mom also baked these Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies. Absolutely delicious! The brownies were good but it was the peanut butter fudge that made them special. I will be baking both of these recipes again. Give them a try!

Chocolate recipes are my favorite type of recipes. I discovered this recipe by Not Enough Cinnamon for Easy Homemade Mounds Bars. These only have 3 ingredients and look delicious. We’ll see if they really taste like the candy bar.

Living Well, Spending Less shared a recipe for Basic Freezer Bread. You mix the dough ahead of time and freeze them in loaf pans so when you want fresh bread, you just thaw and bake. Lots of people by Rhodes frozen bread so why not make my own? Why have I never thought to try this? I will be now!

Chef in Training shared a recipe for Cheesy Appetizer Crackers. This recipe only has four ingredients and looks like a tasty snack. Cheese is something I always have in my fridge (or freezer) so maybe I’ll make this some afternoon this next week.

Raining Hot Coupons shared an idea to make a Grilled Mac & Cheese Sandwich. It’s a unique idea and oddly intriguing. I’m curious to give this a try and see if this combination works.

So, there you have it. Those are some of the recipes I want to bake soon. Nothing too fancy or complicated but all seem worth a try. What are you favorite type of recipes to bake?

Another Round of Encouragement

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We’re still waiting for our baby to make his appearance – even after a busy, busy week at school. I’ve been on my feet teaching, conducting, serving soup – and still the baby sits cozily. At least now, Andy and I are both on Spring Break now. It is nice to know we will both be home all week together with the baby – when he arrives! God provided some dear friends who encouraged me with the exact words I needed to hear this week. I am so thankful for Allison and Erin (and so many others). 

I am always amazed at how God uses (in)courage to provide me with exactly what I need to hear. Here is the latest round of encouragement that spoke to my heart.

Kristen wrote How God Feels About You. This reminds me of Max Lucado and it is a reminder we all need to hear again and again. God loves us so very much!

Annie wrote about the beauty of Saturday Morning. My Saturdays have changed since the baby and this is a great reminder to soak up the moments – no matter what or where they are!

Rachel shared her perspective on Broken Things. I found the idea of showing our cracks particularly intriguing. Scary, sometimes, but there is beauty to be found in brokenness!

I appreciated Ann’s perspective on 7 Things You Need When You’re Overwhelmed and Can’t Keep Up. We all have those days (or weeks). Ann’s reminders of God’s graciousness are indeed a comfort.

Stephanie wrote about How to BE Patient. We often forget about the goodness of gifts God has given to us and our patience suffers as a result. Don’t you think so?

Robin shared honestly with When You Aren’t Like Her but You Wish You Were. Comparisons don’t tell the whole story but it’s a trap we often fall into. Yet, God made us all with unique talents for a reason! Read this and take it to heart.

Finally, Dawn wrote about When Sharing Your Home is an Act of Reckless Optimism. I love how she says, “The mess is part of my story.” Isn’t that true for all of us – and our homes? Let’s be optimistic!

Various Links I Love

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The links I chose to share each week really are just because links. Some are recipes and some are ideas, while others share a project or a motivational article. I enjoy picking out these things to share with you – and I hope you enjoy them, too!

While there is still a chill in the air, I want to try Andrea Dekker’s recipe for their new family favorite cheese broccoli soup. The recipe is simple and looks delicious. I like recipes like this.

Crystal Paine (of Money Saving Mom) recently published a new book that I want to read - Say Goodbye to Survival Mood. On her blog she answered the question, How do you wake up excited about each day? There are some good pointers here for us all!

Get Rich Slowly had an interesting article about what to do with too much emergency fund? Spend it. I know it seems like a rare problem (and one many of us wish for) but there are some good take-aways for all of us – whatever the size of our emergency fund.

Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam wrote an article on 7 highly effective ways to raise lazy and entitled children. It’s sarcastic but true. I especially like the point to pass blame to others. Not a good idea!

Another Jen, at Thrifty and Thriving, shared her recipe for orange-cranberry biscuits. I love all these things separately so this recipes seems to be ideal for me. I am eager to try this one!

Shelly at Frugal Family Home shared some excellent tips of how to save money by planting a garden. It’s that time of year when we can start thinking about gardens. We didn’t plant a garden last year and while I didn’t miss the weeding, I did miss the fresh produce and the salsa I canned from our garden.

That’s what I have to share for now. Did you read anything of note this week?

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