You're not in the driver's seat!

Do you remember the first time you got behind the wheel? You know, that first time when your dad or mom or granparent or sibling or aunt or uncle started to teach you how to drive? Oh yes, I remember mine. I was a late learner, 17 years of age to be exact. My dad was in the passenger seat. My brothers had tried but they were definitely not like my dad. He was so patient, that's he's nature. Dad has always been that way. I remember driving down the road and not knowing what to do at a 4 way stop sign. I kinda froze and I had people honking at me and my brother telling me to hurry up, but my dad, not him, with all the patience in the world he said, "don't worry, they will be fine, take your time and just do this..." OH yeah, I forgot to tell you, they were teaching me to drive stick shift. :) The car had stalled and I got stuck in the middle of this 4 way stop sign. Oh Lord, I thought the world was coming to an end (yes, I was a dramatic 17 year old). Anyway, I finally got going and we got home. That night I decided I was going to buy an automatic car; and I did! 

How about the first time you drove all by yourself? Do you remember that? It's exhilarating, isn't it? You feel so grown up, so adultish! You offer to go get the groceries mom forgot, get the dry cleaners, take other siblings places, pick up grandpa or grandma. Aaaahhh...yes, and our parents probably loved it.

Years later, or perhaps, a few months later, the joy of driving becomes another thing in the list of actions we perform on a daily basis and the time comes when driving becomes a chore that we no longer want to perform regularly because most of the time we do it to do tasks we rather not accomplish. Tasks like going to work, taking the kids to school, to doctors, to activities. 

I remember going to India back in 2006. Upon arrival we were assigned a driver. The reason was because Kolkata traffic can be a bit nerve wrecking...a bit like this...

Seriously, I remember being in the car and seeing a few cows, a tram, mopeds, bikes, rickshaws, taxis, buses...all on the street at the same time and many going in different directions. Hence why our kind hosts gave us a driver. And I tell ya, it was nice to be dropped off places and being asked, "at what time do you want me to pick you up?". No need to find parking, Amen to that!!! Can you imagine having a driver? Yes, imagine someone to take you to work, pick you up, take you to the mall, that crowded mall during Christmas time when there are no parking spaces in sight? Yes, that would be superb!

Now imagine someone doing that in your life? Someone that tells you, "I know you're tired, let me take it from here. I'll drive!". And yet, that offer has been available to you, and to me, for a long time now. But, who likes to be the passenger driver? Really, we may be stuck with someone that doesn't drive as fast as we would like to or maybe they drive a bit too fast for our liking. And what if we get the driver that constantly hits the breaks abruptly or the one driver that never puts on the turning signals? No thanks! In addition, to be a passenger driver means we would give too much control to someone else, and even if we don't feel like driving, we take the wheel because we think we can do better. 

You and I have been called to be passenger drivers in this life. Did you know that? God invites us to follow Him and let Him be the driver. And yet, most of the time, we rather treat him like a back-seat driver. We put Him in the back and when He tries to lead us in a direction we don't think we should go we simply ignore Him or shush Him, because really, who likes back-seat drivers anyway?

Oh, if we were only more willing to let Him lead, to let Him drive. 

"Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat, I am." (Mark 8:34-MSG)

There's a reason why He's asking us to let Him be the driver. He sees far beyond the road that's in front of us. His vision is perfect. He knows the turns we should take that will keep us safe, that will keep us from danger. And even though He is in the driver's seat, He knows that the ride won't always involve sunny skies, so He doesn't promise that but He promises to show us the way.

"Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how." (Mark 8:35-MSG)

He knows that at times we'll have to drive through storms and some rough terrain but He will show us how to make it through it! And even better, He promises to be with us, always. In our ignorance, well...more like, in our stubbornness, we choose 'us' instead of God. We think we can do better. We think we know ourselves better and no one better than us to take us to where we need to go. And there's God, waiting, just waiting to 'let Him take the wheel' (thank you Carrie Underwood for the analogy...LOL!). But to do that seems like such a sacrifice at times...

Yet, in the beautiful surrendering of the 'wheel' we will find a Savior, and in that Savior we will find our true selves...

Yes, the self that gets lost in the many turns and roundabouts of life. And in the midst of all the wrong turns we end up losing the self that should distinguish us from others, the self that knows that we were once lost but now we are found; found by the Savior that extends grace and mercy and joy and peace at every turn we take in life. So the question now is, why not? Why not let Him drive? Why not become the passenger and follow Him? After all, the road of life will one day end, no time to get lost trying to find our true selves in all the wrong places.

"What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?" (Mark 8:37-MSG).

Nothig. I can't think of anything worth trading.

One day, you will get stuck in the middle of a four way stop sign as the honking of people and the messy stuff of this world comes at you from every direction. And there, in the passenger seat, you will find God and He will look at you and say,  "now, will you let me be drive?."

You're not supposed to be in the driver's seat...God is! And rumor has it, He's pretty good at it!

 

Tried & True winter recipes Pinspiration

Have you ever seen something on Pinterest and it looked soooo yummy then you go and try it and it's a big flop? Yeap, been there too. Makes you think twice before you try another recipe from Pinterest. But no worries, here are a few recipes I've tried myself that were splendid! Not only did I approve, the hubby did too! Okay, so here are 4 good and easy recipes to try this winter! 

Oven Roasted sausage and sweet potato

Okay, I tried mine with butternut squash instead because that's what I had on hand and it was great. Now, this recipe doesn't ask you to coat the veggies in a bit of oil and I was a little skeptical about it because I had a feeling the veggies would be too dry. Once the meal was done you just have to coat the veggies with the liquid remaining in the pan and they are good BUT I think I will coat my veggies with a bit of oil next time, just enough so they're a bit more moist. But the flavors in this are absolutely fantastic! Do give it a try! Get over here, grab the recipe and start cooking!

roasted sausage and veggies.jpg

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Squash with Dried Cranberries and Dijon Vinaigrette

Listen here, if you are like NOT a fan of brussel sprouts let me ask you a question, "have you ever had them roasted?". If you haven't PLEASE give them one last chance by roasting them. But let me be honest, in my opinion, veggies are way yummier when roasted, the flavor is amazing! So, don't write off the poor brussels just yet. This recipe added some cranberries which I have to say I forgot to add when I actually did it and it was still just fine (but I will give it a try next time because I do love cranberries). And what brings it all together is that deliciously simply vinaigrette. Really friends, so easy and so good, you just can't go wrong with that combo! This delicious recipe is found here!

roasted-brussels-sprouts-and-squash-with-dried-cranberries-and-dijon-vinaigrette-5.jpg

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

I LOVE soup! My husband hasn't quite been a fan of soup, that is, until I began to introduce them to some of this type of yumminess! When I saw this recipe on Pinterest I thought to myself, "I love orzo, I love chicken, I love lemony stuff, what could go wrong with this soup?" and I was right, nothing could go wrong. It was absolutely delightful! I would dare say you could even try it with some of that leftover turkey you may have from Christmas! :) Go here to get the recipe!

Butternut Squash Soup

Tis the season for winter squashes and well, I had some butternut squash left from the half I roasted the night before so I went on Pinterest and looked around for an easy soup recipe. Well, this one was a hit and you know how I know that? Not only did I LOVE it but my I'm-not-a-fan-of-soup hubby ate it and liked it! BUT let me say, I did add a couple of things that the recipe didn't call for. So with mine I added some milk at the end (after I pureed it in my food processor), I also used vegetable broth because it's all I had AND I added some crumbled spanish ham on it! Oh yes, it was muy delicioso!!! I paired mine with Trader Joe's Pizza made of French Thin Crust topped with Brie and Tomatoes (it's heaven). :) You could try just making your own homemade pizza instead, if I would have had the time I would have! :) Enjoy friends! You can find the recipe here!

Blue Apron Review

So, there are a few trends going on with food at the moment. One is the short 'How to' video recipes like the ones from 'Tasty'. Have you seen them. I will say that I did try the Cauliflower Fried Rice and it was oh so yummy! - I did adjust the recipe a bit but this gives you an idea.

Healthy Cauliflower Fried "Rice"

Posted by Tasty on Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The other trend are the fresh meal kits from places like Hello Fresh and the one I tried, Blue Apron. I don't know about you, but every time I saw an ad about one of these on FB or on TV I wanted to give them a try. I thought to myself, "Oh, that seems like so convenient..." So, the day I saw the offer to get it half off I decided to give it a try.    

Okay, so here's the scoop on it!

After you order it, the meals come your way all nicely packed in a box with ice an all so the perishables don't go bad. I was soo excited when I got home from work and saw the box! Yes, I'm one of those annoying people that actually enjoy cooking! I opened the box and began to look through all the goodies!

Blue Apron also includes 8 1/2 x 11 full color recipe cards which is great because now I have them at my disposal so now I can cook these delicious meals any time I want. The front of the cards gives you info about the dish and the ingredients and the back of it has step by step instructions with pictures.  

The ingredients are really fresh and for the most part you will be receiving meals that will use produce that is in season at the moment. Each ingredient is labeled and for the most part, it is already rationed. 

The meals were very tasty. And for the most part, they were very easy to make. Our box included four recipes, Hoisin Pork Burgers, Chicken Tinga Tacos, Crispy Catfish & Roasted Potatoes and Steak Gyros & Corn on the Cob. Our favorites were the tacos, gyros and the burgers! They were all so delish! The fish was okay too but I don't like frying fish; however, the aioli dressing for the green beans was delicious! I'm making that again. 

But here's the bottom line, would I try this again? Would I recommend it? Yes and yes, but let me explain. I do think that the price is a bit expensive for what you get. I gave them a try before I left my job to become a stay-at-home mom, meaning, we had more money then. I don't think I would pay the full price being that I know I could get some of these meals for less if I went to the store myself. What you're paying for here is the convenience and THAT is the best part of it, specially for those who don't enjoy going to the grocery store.

For some, the portions may not seem enough but for us they were on point. We got the box with meals for 4 servings and so we ate left overs the day after for lunch or for dinner again. 

Now, here was the bummer for me...I thought that the ingredients would be all ready to simply turn the pan on, heat the oil and just add the ingredients but that's not the case. You still have to chop all of the ingredients that need chopping. If you are thinking that this will make cooking go faster, well, it won't. The only step you are cutting with this type of meal kits is the trip to the grocery store and some of the rationed items that already come pre measured. For me, in cooking, what takes the most is the washing/prepping/chopping of all the ingredients. So that was no different from the everyday cooking I do. But as I mentioned earlier, the products were great and the meals were very tasty. 

I will say that Blue Apron was great to work with. Their customer service was amazing! For that reason alone, I would go with them if I ever do another meal kit again. I had a bit of a hiccup with them. When I purchased the meal kit, I didn't realize that I had signed up to get meal kits every two weeks or so. It took my husband one look at our account and a phone call to realize what I had done. When I called customer service, they had already sent the box. I barely finished telling the customer service rep that I had made a mistake when she said, "that's okay, we will credit your account and you can just keep the box when it arrives to you." So, we got another box for free. That's excellent customer service, so excellent in fact, that when I get money again, I will give them another try! 

This may not be for you, you may not be able to afford it or may not want to spend the time it takes to still cook a meal, but it you like great ingredients, tasty meals and the convenience of not having to go to the grocery store then this might just be the thing for you. 

Happy cooking!

Music Monday :: It is Finished

A couple of weeks ago we got to visit our friends Jason & Shelly and their beautiful girls. Their story of adoption and God's miracles are inspiring, you can read about it here. Jason leads the music team at Liquid Church and gave us a CD with their recent recordings. Evan and I specially like "It is Finished" and wanted to share it with you.

Finished. Finito. Complete. That's the reminder in this song. What Christ did to bring an end to what was supposed to be our ending. But that all changed because of a sacrifice paid on a cross. Redemption, everlasting life, grace is now our finale. Think of that when you listen to this song. 

You can also listen to the other songs here.

Est. 2005

Over 15 years ago I met this cute british boy and a friendship began. Little did I know at that time that he would become my husband a few years later.

This week we celebrated our 10 year anniversary. The day began with some beautiful flowers from the hubby. He knows how much I love flowers and these were a beauty...take a look.

This year we were supposed to be heading to Italy but a little someone came into our lives almost 5 months ago and well, the plan is now to head to Italy next year. But I wouldn't change it...my little lad was a much better anniversary gift! 

So instead, these two foodies got all dressed up and went to try a new restaurant. It was the first time little lad stayed behind. I kept thinking about him all through dinner! I'm sure some mommas out there can relate! :)

It's hard to believe that 10 years have already gone by and I wouldn't change a thing. Not that it's been without its challenges but we wouldn't be at the place we are today if it wasn't for all the ups and downs along the way. I love how much we've learned about each other, how he's pushed me to be better, the things we've accomplished together, how we haven't let differences in personality or points of view become a division in our relationship. I love that I get to call him husband and that he calls me his wife. 

10 years have gone quick. We've done so much in our time together. 10 years of birthday celebrations-and some big ones, like my 40 year milestone-we've had to make critical decisions along the way, we've also embarked in new adventures. As I look back, so much has happened in the last 10 years. But here, let me give you a recap of how our little love story has played so far...

Brit boy comes to America.

Latina girl meets said boy.

They met in the midwest out of all places.

Brit and latin chica become friends.

No love sparks happen at first.

Chica thinks boy is cute but he's younger than her, so no.

Boy is not even thinking about chica at the moment.

4 1/2 years of friendship later boy and chica pull an all-nighter at IHop.

During all the chatting, chica starts thinking, "hmm...Alex is a good looking lad and hmmm...I think I kinda like him."

At the same time, lad is thinking, "hmm...I don't think I can look at this chica only as a friend anymore."

After IHop, they say their goodbyes and boy flies back home to England.

Not long after boy comes back to the USA.

Lad and chica meet for dinner at Outback.

Brit lays down his cards on the table. 

Girl is still not sure because of the age difference but they still hook up. 

Long distance relationship starts. 

16 months later boy asks girl the big question.

Girl says yes!

The planning of a wedding begin.

The big day arrives.

They said their I DOs.

They honeymoon in Mexico.

They lived together and worked together and survived to talk about it. :)

Couple moves from midwest to east coast. 

After two years in the east coast, couple begin the journey of starting a church.

Said journey is challenging, very challenging, but very rewarding.

Couple of years after that they go through another challenging time in life...

...they face infertility. 

Couple give fertility treatments a try. 

Treatments fail.

Disappointment is deep,

Disheartening.

Couple goes through the process of accepting and being okay with not becoming parents.

Out of left field, God surprises couple.

Baby is on the way.

Baby arrives.

A new journey begins.

And in between all these major things in life they've experienced in their marriage, the brit and the chica have taken time to make memories. Lots of memories.

The two have traveled.

They've been spontaneous.

They've satisfied their foodie interests. 

They've made room to laugh, to cry, to chill, to enjoy the simple things in life.

And they're still making memories.

It's been a sweet-sometimes hectic-at times challenging-kinda of a ride. 

I'm excited to see what the next 10 will bring! 


PHOTOS OF OUR BIG DAY 10 YEARS AGO



The Journey Thus Far

Well, it's been almost 4 months since our little lad made his big entrance. Wow...and what a journey it's been thus far!

A lot has happened from the moment my water broke to today! Lots of getting to know this little person that comes packed with smiles, gooings and cooings, crying and tears, colic and gas...oh the gas!!! :) Amazing how there is so much to get to know about someone so young and little. It's been fun getting to know him.

Many have asked, how's it been? Is it all that you had imagined? It's hard to explain in words all of the emotions that come tied to this experience of becoming a mommy. So to best express it, I thought I would do so in a Q&A way. So here we go!

WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST THOUGHTS WHEN YOU SAW THE BABY? I cried as soon as they placed him on me and I said, "We've been waiting over 8 1/2 yrs to meet you!"

WHAT'S BEEN THE HARDEST? At the beginning it was breastfeeding. Many told me that it was going to hurt but boy, you really can't prepare for it till it hits you. Some moms don't have any issues but I did and then one day I finally found a thing called 'nipple shield' and my world was alright again! :)

WHAT'S BEEN MOST SURPRISING ABOUT BECOMING A MOM? How instant your love for this little person is. He's a brand new little guy you just met and BAM! the love comes all over you! It's amazing. AND how much rejoicing can come about from a poopy diaper when baby hasn't pooped in days! :)

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART ABOUT BEING A MOM? So many but if I have to one would be the love that this little person gives you, you can sense it even though they're not even able to formulate any words yet!

WHAT'S BEEN THE MOST CHALLENGING? Dealing with colic and teething! Okay, I said it earlier but the gas this child can store in his belly, yikes! Lord help us all! For his first 2 1/2 months of existence our poor little lad's stomach was not his best friend. Bless him...it was tough. We quickly became good friends with gas drops & gripe water and thankfully it's all good with the world now. But I guess that was replaced with teething because this little lad decided to start teething early. The drooling...UGH! Me no likey! I need to teach this child of mine he doesn't have to be such an overachiever! But this too shall pass...in how many more months??? Jesus take the wheel!

HAVE YOU DEALT WITH ANY ANXIETY? Just a couple. The first was having to take him out all by myself. For the first two weeks I had people with me so it was no biggie but the day I had to go run errands all by my little self, oh man, anxiety set in. I thought I wouldn't be able to carry that carseat and that I would drop him because it would be too heavy. I remember when I had to go grocery shopping...I thought, "how in the world will this 5ft 1inch Latina chica be able to see past the carseat while pushing the grocery cart?" (yes THE ONE inch in my height is important to mention...hush!). Anyhow, but I did it and now it's no biggie. I have a feeling Evan wishes mommy would still be anxious enough to just stay home because mommy takes him to too many Target and TJMaxx trips. :) And well, I still look short and weird while grocery shopping but I make it work and if you see me at Wegmmans and laugh at me, I'll probably join in and laugh at myself as well! The second anxiety? Cutting his nails! Yeap. And let me tell you, the first time I did it, I...ummm...caught a bit of his finger and well, I felt horrible! He cried and I did too. I still don't like cutting them nails but sometimes you gots to do what you gots to do! 

HOW WAS LABOR? Ha! That's a funny one. My water broke on a friday morning around 4am. I kept thinking I was peeing myself. This went on until it finally hit me that maybe my water had broken. When the doctor told me to go to the hospital to get checked (at 8:30am) Alex and I decided to do a few things before heading to the hospital. A few things as in hang a shelf in the baby's room, vacuum his room, put the rest of his clothes away, get my bag ready (I know...procrastinator right here!), take showers, cut the hubby's hair (yeah, you heard right, as in giving him a haircut), oh and giving myself a haircut too (cause I wasn't going to go give birth with bad hair friends!). I know, we are cray cray (yes, I said cray cray-I have a newborn, leave a momma alone!). We finally made it to the hospital by 11:30am and hadn't really had any contractions yet. We still couldn't believe this was happening even after the doctor came in and told us my water had broken. A baby coming on Easter weekend is never easy for pastors of a church. We told the little lad that he could come any time he wanted EXCEPT Easter weekend. Ha! We could tell right away that he was going to be a good listener. Once contractions kicked in I was handling them pretty okay. The only struggle came when I decided to get the epidural and the only anesthesiologist in the hospital got called into emergency surgery. Two and a half painful hours later I got the meds and let me tell you, they were heavenly! But hey, he was worth it! I mean...look at that face! :)

WAS LABOR BETTER OR WORSE THAN YOU HAD EXPECTED? Ummm...I guess just what I had expected. I knew lots of pain would be involved. Once the epidural kicked in I kept pushing the med button they gave me. Alex kept asking me, "are you in pain?". I'd replied, "No. Why?". "Because you keep pushing the button for meds." to which I replied, "I just want to make sure the drugs are really in for when it's time to push cause this chica is not going to be feeling no pain!". No wonder it took a little bit for my legs to stop feeling 'numb' after giving birth! :)

HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT, 'GOSH, I CAN'T DO THIS' AND WHY? The only time I'd thought this was when I was trying to breastfeed. I was in so much pain in more places than I could count and I felt as if I was just not going to be able to make it. I thought I was NEVER going to heal and was never going to feel myself again. I remember being in the bathroom and crying and telling Alex, "I'm not good at this thing" and Alex padding my back and telling me, "you are doing great babe!" How dramatic was I! LOL! Glad that stage of it is over! 

WHAT PART OF LIFE HAS CHANGED THE MOST SINCE HAVING THE BABY? Going out takes more effort and more memory. There's always a checklist to go through before leaving the house. Bottle-checked. Paci-checked. Burp cloth-checked. Diapers-checked. Wipes-checked. Breastfeeding cover-checked. Carrier-checked. Yeah...it takes a bit longer and if we forget something important that I can't just buy somewhere then a trip back home is a must. So, I just make sure I have things ready the night before so leaving is not such a big ordeal! :)

WHAT HAVE YOU ENJOYED THE MOST THIS FAR? Wake up times! I love it when he first wakes up, specially in the morning. He is so talkative and gives smiles left and right! That is one of the things I'll miss the most when I go back to work...seeing that little face when he sees me in the mornings. Priceless! Wouldn't change it for the world!

WHAT ADJUSTMENTS HAVE YOU HAD TO MAKE? A few. I have to be ready for interruptions. I can't just say I'm going to do this and finish it once and for all because more than likely a little someone may start crying inconsolably, wake up from a nap, have a poopy blow out. Talking about interruptions...little lad is up from his nap. Guess this is it for now friends! 

To be continued...


Best Brown Rice Recipe

Okay...if you like brown rice and have ever cooked it, you know it could take a little bit of time to do it and to get it just right. Yeap, I've been there but then, I found this baked brown rice recipe it and I haven't looked back since. I tell you, it is THE BEST way to make it. I tweaked the recipe a little and let me tell you it's not only SO easy to make but it is yummy. Go on, give it a try, you won't regret it! 

What you'll need:

1 1/2 cups brown rice

2 1/2 cups water OR chicken stock

1 Tbsp butter OR olive oil

1 Tsp salt

How to make it:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Put salt and butter in an 8 in square glass baking dish and add boiling water and mix it with a fork until butter is melted (I boil my water in a kettle). IF USING CHICKEN STOCK: bring chicken stock, butter and salt to a boil and then pour it onto the baking dish. Add the rice to the baking dish, stir to combine and cover with foil. Bake in the middle rack for 60 minutes.

After 60 seconds your rice is ready! Take it out, remove foil (watch out for the steam!) and fluff with a fork. 

Okay! That's it! Now you're ready to enjoy with some orange chicken or grilled salmon or whatever your little heart desires! Enjoy!

Music Monday :: make a way

I've been praying for friends this morning that are going through a difficult season in life. Most of us have been in a season like this at some point in our journeys. I know I have, and one thing I know for sure, one thing I've experienced closely, is that there are some situations when it is only by the grace of God that we make it to the other side and it's only when God intervenes Himself that we see Him carving out a path in desolate places because only our God can make a way where there is no way and in times when we feel all alone He is the only able to reach us, to reach deep down in our soul, to do in us and through this seasons in life what at the moment seems impossible. 

So today, if you're going through one of these seasons, think of this, He can make a new way, a new thing and bring forth something good out of your situation.

I'm believing this for you today not because it's a nice thought to think or a nice thing to say but because I believe God can do it. I see it all over the Bible, time and time again, God making a way where there seemed to be no way. He did it with Sarah and Abraham-gave them a child when all the odds were against them. He did it with the children of Israel, over and over again, parted seas, delivered them from slavery, provided bread from heaven (literally). He turned Joseph's unfortunate circumstances into the most fortunate one in Joseph's life. So, yes! I believe God can do it because I've seen it in my own life over and over and over...And, there is no way He won't do this for you too because He doesn't have faves, He loves us all the same and is always ready to reach out to us. 

Now it is your turn to grab hold of it and believe it for your own life and to declare it out loud as you face that mountain that's staring at you today. 

"This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
they lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands."
(ISAIAH 43:16-19)



Stop and Smell the Roses

You've heard the saying, "stop and smell the roses". You know, taking the time to push the pause button, if only for just a second, to see the beauty around us. Even more so, it allows us to break the busy cycle that many times we are forced to be enslaved to in our daily lives. A moment, a break, a pause to dig our faces out of the 'sand' of stress, problems and burdens that may be facing us that day and have been consuming all of our attention. 

A new study suggests that people are happier when they take the time to appreciate the good things in life. I believe that. I've seen it and I've experienced it myself. But I think that more can come out of stopping and smelling the roses. Sometimes, pushing the pause button can be a way to make us aware of God moments. Moments that have been orchestrated by God himself either for you to be blessed or for you to be a blessing. 

Last month, I was leaving the church on a bitter cold Monday night after our prayer group. It was raining and I didn't realize that we had been getting some freezing rain. Alex went to move the car and as I walked to the other side of the parking lot I stepped on some ice and down I went. It hurt but I got myself up, barely, and before I knew it, BAM! There I went again, falling a second time. My arm and hiney hurt a bit but I figured I'd be fine by the next day. 

Tuesday came and my arm and hiney were still hurting. I didn't call my doctor but people at work kept insisting that I should because when you're pregnant you are supposed to. Well, I let it go for the day as I kept busy working away, but here and there I was feeling some new 'pains' in the lower part of my belly. So, after I got out of work I decided to call the doctor's office. They suggested I head to the hospital just to get checked and make sure everything was okay with the baby. 

Now, I debated this one in my head for a bit. See, I had plans that evening. It was going to be our first ladies group for the winter season, and not only did I want to be there but I was also the one leading it. Yeah, this whole thing about going to the hospital was definitely messing with my plans. I reasoned with myself, "okay, it's early enough so perhaps, I'll be in and out quickly and well, even if not quick, I could just grab dinner on the go and head straight to group". With that in mind, I took myself to the hospital. 

My mind wasn't on anything else but to get in and out of there as quickly as possible. And so, as I sat there in the waiting room, I decided to do what most of us are so good at in this electronic world we live in. Yes, I dug my phone out of my purse but when I turned it on I got that most annoying little sound we all hate to hear coming from our precious treasures, yes, I'm talking about the 'low battery' sound. ARGH! And so, I was forced to put my phone away! The nerve!

And there, in the midst of being forced to do what we used to do before we had our electronic devices-you know, engage with the immediate world around us-I was gifted with opportunity #1 to 'stop and smell the roses'. But as quickly as I was pushed into it I tried to get away from it. So I did what any of us would do, I looked for an outlet, there had to be one in this room, all I needed was one close to a chair so I could be on it while it was charging (you know what I'm talking about!). As I was perusing the room for said outlet I noticed a woman sitting across from me. She looked distraught. For a brief moment I wondered what had caused her deep sadness but then my eyes quickly moved on to keep searching for an outlet. Ah! Yes! Eureka! found one! There was one right there, across from me, two chairs down from the woman I noticed earlier. I moved and began to charge my phone but I had to wait a bit for it to charge enough so I could turn it on because by this time the battery had already died on me. And as I waited I was given another nudge to stop and 'smell the roses'. I was forced once again to engage with my immediate surroundings rather than have my head buried in a little screen and as I did I couldn't help but look back at that distraught woman I had seen earlier. There was such sadness in her eyes, her demeanor was such that I myself began to sense it in my spirit. I knew something had happened but wasn't quite sure what. As I saw tears coming down her cheeks I began to cry myself but I wasn't crying due to my hormonal pregnancy stage, it wasn't just a little emotional cry. It was a cry that I could feel deep within my soul. And that's when I knew this was a God moment.

My heart began to beat fast as I could almost hear God whispering in my ear "go and speak to her". "But what will I say? I don't even know why she's so sad...and I'm a complete stranger." I held back a bit, looked back to see if my phone had enough juice so I could turn it on but it was too late, my mind was no longer engaged in this little device, my heart had taken over and was deeply engaged in the God moment I was being graced with. I began to pray for her, asking God to be with her during this moment. Even if she didn't have faith in God, I prayed that he would comfort her. I prayed and prayed, and cried and cried while seating there. I knew I would be called in every minute now and I couldn't get away from the thought that I was to go and speak to her, so I did. I went and sat next to her and said, "I'm sorry, I know you don't know me, I know I'm a complete stranger but I couldn't help but noticed that you look so sad. I don't know what you're going through but I wanted to get your name so I can be praying for you." She looked at me, grabbed my hand, held it tight as if saying 'I needed this'. She gave me her name and we talked a bit. We cried together and in between tears she managed to utter the phrase "thank you". She hugged me and I said "I will be praying for you". And at that very moment my name was called. 

While on the hospital bed, hooked up to machines that monitored the baby's heartbeat, and while given a shot to slow down the contractions I was having, I kept praying for Jennifer. But then my mind tried to quickly thrust me back into the craziness of this world as I kept trying to get out of that place so I could go and fulfill my previous plans. But then, a nurse came in, and I was presented with opportunity #2. This time I was quicker to recognize it and to acknowledge it and not ignore it. I paused, I stop to smell the roses and allowed this God moment to take place. What started as a simple conversation turned into an opportunity to share my story of infertility and the miracle that I had been given. 

God moments sometimes may seem as interruptions which is why we are so quick to disregard them. We don't have time, we got places to go, people to see, to do lists to finish. We don't think we have the luxury to pause for such 'petty' moments. Oh! but if we only stopped long enough to embrace them for within these moments lie beautiful opportunities. Not only could you be the giver of a small blessing to someone else but you may be the one that is being positioned to be the receiver of a blessing.

Perhaps, next time an 'interruption' threatens to interfere with our daily busy schedules we should stop long enough to see if we are being graced with a God moment. 

Yes, perhaps, we should stop and smell the roses a bit more often. Who knows what could come out of it!

 

easy upholstered Headboard DIY

chicaflairheadboarddiy

When we were preparing the baby's room we knew we had to include some type of bed in there b/c we would need to use it as an additional guest room in the future. Now, the dilemma was what to get. Here were the options...

  • Get a traditional twin bed
  • Get a daybed 
  • Get a sofa bed

Our first choice was going to be a sofa bed but when we started looking we realized how expensive they were. So, we went on to look for either a daybed or a traditional twin bed with headboard/footboard. And again, boy were they expensive. Well, I think it's because we seem to have expensive taste, one that does not line up with our wallet. :) 

So we kept looking and looking everywhere! I mean, Walmart, Target, Wayfair, Craigslist, Amazon....you name it, we looked it up! And then, as we were clearing our storage room, trying to make room for stuff I came across the VILSHULT IKEA picture we had bought about 7 years or more ago. We were going to either throw it away, give it away or sell it on craigslist. But...that's when the Aha! moment came. I said to Alex, "take this to the baby's room...I'm gong to see if I can turn this into a headboard". He looked at me weird but took it upstairs anyway. 

Here's the picture. 

When I placed it against the mattress/box spring it fit pretty good. Aaahhh....a project had now begun. Now, I needed to get foam, fabric, find out how I was going to attach it and what I was going to use to embellish it. So, here's what I did. 

HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL NEED

Since foam is expensive I opted for a much cheaper option giving me the same results. I opted for this foam mattress pad from Walmart. It only cost me $12. Can't beat that!

Since foam is expensive I opted for a much cheaper option giving me the same results. I opted for this foam mattress pad from Walmart. It only cost me $12. Can't beat that!

A staple gun. I got mine from Homedepot. I think it was $15. Get staples long enough to go through the foam/fabric and into the frame.

A staple gun. I got mine from Homedepot. I think it was $15. Get staples long enough to go through the foam/fabric and into the frame.

Sure you can go to a fabric store like Joanns to get it but you'll end up spending a ton of money for a nice thick material. But, why? You can just head to tany other store that sells curtains and get a great piece of fabric for way way cheaper. I got mine from Target for only $25. Only thing you have to make sure is that the curtain is wide/long enough to cover your frame.

Sure you can go to a fabric store like Joanns to get it but you'll end up spending a ton of money for a nice thick material. But, why? You can just head to tany other store that sells curtains and get a great piece of fabric for way way cheaper. I got mine from Target for only $25. Only thing you have to make sure is that the curtain is wide/long enough to cover your frame.

MAKING YOUR HEADBOARD

STEP 1: Okay, began by laying the foam on the floor. Stretch it out as much as you can without reaping it. Make sure the 'ripples' are facing up.

SAM_0608.jpg

STEP 2: Lay the wall picture on top of the foam.

STEP 3: Began to staple the foam to the picture. I started on the longer edges first and started in the middle, then I moved to the short edges. When you get to the corners, cut off some of the foam so it's not too thick, otherwise, your staples won't be able to get all the way to the board.

STEP 4: Lay your curtain on the floor. Make sure to iron it if its too wrinkled. You'll regret it later if you don't. I just laid mine on the carpet and ironed away. 

SAM_0616.jpg

STEP 5: Lay the stapled foam picture on top of the curtain (foam face down). Cut off any excess fabric you don't want. I ended up leaving some of of the extra fabric just in case I wanted to use it in the future. And since it won't be seen, it didn't matter what it looked like. :)

STEP 6: Start to staple the fabric to the board. I followed the same technique I did with the foam. Start with one of the longer edges in the middle. Once that's done, move to the other long edge but make sure to pull the fabric as tight as you can. Then, move to the short edges, again, pulling as tight as you can. Leave the corners to the end. Once you're done, this is what you end up with.

I didn't attach our headboard to the bed frame. The finished headboard was tall enough to just lay it on the floor which meant I didn't even have to hang it. I did try to see how it would look if I would hang it but it would have been way too tall for my taste. I will be attaching the top of the headboard to the wall (just so it won't move) with 3 inch command strips

And here's what it looks like so far...

I still want to finish it with either ribbon (maybe a greek design frame), nail heads, or buttons to make it tufted. So we'll see what I end up doing. Right now, it's a toss. Stay tuned as I showcase it in the final baby room reno reveal. 

Till next time! 

Little Lad's Room

I have to say that after decorating our home and also our church I had no desire to began another decorating project any time soon. I thought I was done till little lad decided to come into our lives. 

I had NO idea what I was going to do. The only thing I knew for sure was...

  • I didn't want the room to be 'too' kiddish'. Meaning...didn't want to make kiddie murals or anything like that. I wanted the room to look like something that we could easily change as he got older.
  • The room had to function as an optional guest room so we needed to fit a bed or sofa bed in there somehow.

It took me forever to come up with the first color I wanted in the room but Alex bought into it quickly. NAVY! So, the first thing I bought for the room was the navy curtains and I love them. Now, my other choices of colors took a little more convincing for Alex and it wasn't till we painted the room and the closet that daddy was all in! And then, adding the other elements in the room just sealed it for him. Phew! 

We are still not done with the room. Still have to put stuff on walls, stain the legs we added to the box spring bed we got, add shelving in the closet and in the room, get some type of bookcase or shelving for more storage and well, you know, add all those little things that will finish the room. But for now, I wanted to give you a little peek so you can see the progress we've made so far. 

WHAT WE STARTED WITH...

This was the only room in the house that we had not painted since we moved in. I was happy to see that yellow-peachy color go. At some point I wanted to turn the closet into one of those cute closet-offices you see around on pinterest but now it will be the place where the dresser-changing-table will go.

THE PROGRESS WE'VE MADE...

So far, I'm happy with the results. Finding all those cute boy decorations to finish the room is the next challenge. I've found so many great deals on the furniture pieces. One of the best ones was the pouf ottoman...OH THAT POUF! I'm in love. If you search for them online you'll see that they can cost from $80 to even over $200. Yeah, my wallet was not going to spend that much. So, I randomly kept going into the same stores each week to see if I would get lucky. AND I DID! This one only cost me $40!!! Can't beat that. Same thing happened with the wood side table. Oh I love it too! Okay, I'm loving tons of things about this room so I won't bore you. But the other thing that I did managed to save a ton of money on was the tufted headboard...it costs us $30 altogether. I will be posting the tutorial in the future. Okay, here's what we have so far! 

UPDATE: You can see the tutorial for the headboard here.


Well, there you have it! Stay tuned for more updates! 

Farewell...

This week marks a milestone in my life. It is my last week in my 30s. 

Oddly enough, age has never bothered me so I'm looking forward to the 40s but before moving on I'm going to take a look back because so much has happened in the last 10 years, so many things that have made these past decade an epic one and as I look back I see that it's been a season filled with face-palm, faith strengthening, character shaping type of experiences. 

So let's see...the decade began with a BIG BANG! I got hooked up! Yes, I got married to that stud of a Brit I now call my husband of almost 10 years. What a way to start my 30s. I married up and I married good y'all! The fact that he knows me the best, all my good, my bad and my ugly and he still chooses to love me unconditionally is a testimony of his character! :) 

But marriage hasn't come without it's challenges cause here's the thing, marriage is hard work, even when you love the other person so much. It's hard work because it comes with ups and downs and because it forces two once single and selfish individuals to now think of not only themselves but of the other person and to surrender those pre-conceived 'ideals' of marriage. Two worlds come together, two personalities, two views of life that now try to co-exist in the most lovable way possible. :) Oh, it can be an adjustment but it is worth it...oh so worth it! Even when things get tough years after, it's worth fighting for it, it's worth to apply the elbow grease when necessary because each of you come out of it stronger which in return makes your marriage stronger. So yes, my prince charming and I have been through a few experiences in our marriage these past decade. There have been moments of joy, of adventure, moments filled with tears and moments filled with lots of laughter but boy, I wouldn't change it for the world...I wouldn't change him for the world!

In the last 10 years we've had so many opportunities to make memories and experience new things. We've gotten to travel to India and Europe and South America and along the way we've had the chance to meet so many people that have enriched our lives tremendously. So many new friends and family have entered our little world! So many of them so critical to who we are today. 

But, we've also had to endured disappointments. One of our toughest times was in the ministry area, we were hurt badly by situations that could have, should have, been different. But we made it through and we endured it  and the lessons it taught us have been a wonderful source of wisdom as we ourselves took on the challenge of starting a new church. 

Oh yeah....that's something else I should mention, this past decade also was marked by taking a HUGE leap of faith as we embarked into the world of starting a new church. Boy was that a BIG step we took. Two little us, fighting against odds, going against the current to start something that was deeply planted in our hearts. It's been one of the hardest yet most fulfilling experiences of our lives. What a ride it has been. At times we've wanted to give up, we've thought 'maybe we are not cutout for this?', but then we remember why we did it, why we were so humbly chosen to take on this task and how faithful God has been through the whole process. 

We've had so many firsts this past decade. We made a big move from the midwest, where we left so many wonderful friends, and made our way to the East Coast. Yes, we became east coasters and we love it! We've gotten to visit so many cities that many only visit on vacation and yet they are at the palm of our hand. Another first? We became home owners and discovered that we can do more than just change a light bulb, we can build tables from scratch, we can fix walls, install back splashes and make it through a kitchen reno still loving each other. :) 

In the mix of it all, this past decade also brought us the challenging experience of facing infertility in a pivotal way. It brought us to a place where we had to arrive to the realization that we may never be able to conceive. Then, this past year, we took on the process of fertility treatments and deeply felt the emotions that come with failed attempts. 

Yes, this past decade has brought us our share of ups and downs but then, just at it began, it decided to end with another BIG BANG. The 30s decided to culminate with a baby on the way. An unexpected little miracle that will begin my 40s in a marvelous way!

So here I am, still madly in love with my prince charming, getting ready to embrace a new season and stage in life that will change the years to come in a BIG BIG way. Life in the 40s will be different, way different than in the 30s. Life as a family of three will come with much love, many challenges, many new experiences, many frustrations, many times of joy and so much more. And the one certain thing I can count on is that as sure as tears and challenges may come, I can also be certain that joy and laughter will come as well.

So as I look back I realized how much has happened and it prompts me to make a list and be intentional about the decade ahead so that it will be as epic as the one ending. As I began my 40s I want to commit to...

  • Take time to make memories.
  • Embark in new adventures.
  • Make room for new firsts.
  • Turn disappointments into life lessons.
  • Forgive often.
  • Love even more.
  • Remind myself that though tear may come, laughter will soon follow.
  • Don't limit your circle of friends. Make new ones.
  • Be a blessing to others.
  • Let others be a blessing to you.
  • Make room for side splitting laughter.
  • Expect miracles.

I have a funny feeling that my 40s will be as epic as my 30s!

So...farewell 30s and welcome you pesky 40s!

Here's to a new decade!

BRING.

IT.

ON!

 

While in the 'Waiting'...

A new year beckons a time of reflection of the past 365 days and a look into the 365 days that await us.

The reflection of the past may be painful for some and for others it might be their best year to date. For others is just another year and place no value in what a new year may bring.

Some enter the new year in a waiting room. They're still waiting for circumstances to change, for something else to happen. They're stuck wondering why their name got placed in the 'wait list' when all they desire is to move forward. Some enter the new year with health struggles, waiting for a miracle to happen, waiting for a relationship to be restored. Others are waiting for that long desired pregnancy to happen or for that long awaited true love to come sweep them off their feet. For many, nothing changed when the clock hit the 12am mark. They found themselves in a new year with the same self and the same circumstances.

And if that's you, if your name is on a 'wait list' I hope you take one thing with you into this new year: THERE IS PURPOSE IN THE WAITING. No, sometimes it's not pretty and frustrating to be stuck in a waiting room...you gots places to go, people to see, things to experience. But the waiting room is not the important thing here, it is the waiting itself that does. And it's what you do, the actions you make while in the 'waiting' that changes everything. In the waiting is easy to get stuck and waste time looking back, desiring what once was, what you now lack and these are the things that paralyze us and limits us from propelling forward. Your 'waiting' can be so much more than this. Your 'waiting' can have purpose. Most often, it's in the 'waiting' that growth within can happen because let's face it, we're not going anywhere, the 'waiting' causes us to pause, giving us the time to look at the self, to evaluate choices, to prioritize, to refocus, to become a much 'healthier' you, to dream new dreams, to do some 'de-learning' of habits and implement new ones. It is when these actions are taken during this period in our lives that the 'waiting' doesn't become so paralyzing and makes it seem not as long, nor so unwelcoming. These are the things we sometimes neglect to do while living life, while being busy, that's why sometimes, the 'waiting' is necessary and oh so valuable. 

Everyone of us has had or will spend some time in the 'waiting room'. Even successful people have had to go on the 'waiting list'. Walt Disney had to wait more than 20 years to do the film Mary Poppins. See, you're not alone. You're not in this room because you're not successful or because you are failure. The waiting room is no respecter of persons. You don't find yourself in the 'waiting' because you deserve it but perhaps, because your soul and heart desperately need it; because there's something new that needs to spring within you.

So, as we enter this new year, if your name is in a 'waiting list', if you find yourself stuck in the waiting room, I hope you take this to heart:

DON'T WASTE YOUR WAITING! There is purpose in your 'waiting' but it will only flourish when you take action.

Don't allow yourself to be paralyzed by staring at the past. Only look back to see and remember the good things in life that you've been blessed with and let them be the force that propels you into reaching to what is ahead.

Something new can be brewing inside you while in the 'waiting', don't disregard it, don't restrain it, something beautiful awaits when the time comes to leave the waiting room.

“Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands." (Isaiah 43:19)

 

DIY Christmas Ornaments & Decor

Three years ago I started making some of my Christmas decor because I wanted to change the colors I previously had. I started by making some Christmas tree cones and some ornaments.

Last year, after I had already set up my Christmas tree, I once again decided to change the Christmas decor (shocker!). I wanted a different look and color but I had to get creative, had to save me some bucks as Christmas ornaments can be a bit expensive during high demand season! So, what was a girl to do? Get creative, DIY it and think outside the box. 

I had seen some cute DIY ideas around in the Pinterest world and one that really caught my attention was the paper ornaments. I honestly didn't know how they were going to turn out and if I was even going to like the end result but I have to say I'm SOOOO glad I did. I grabbed an old book I had and some of the left over cardstock/craft paper I had and went to work. 

I love them so much that I thought I would share with you the tutorials I used. Hope it inspires you to get your creative on!


PAPER ORNAMENTS


THE origami STAR

This is probably the one that took me the longest while I figured it out and it's the most delicate but I absolutely LOVE it. I'm going to make a couple of more this year. Here's the tutorial I used. 


THE SPHERE

I used this tutorial for this one. I stapled the circles together in the middle and then glued the top and bottom with a regular stick glue. You can also do these with cardstock and if you get double sided pattern it will be even prettier. 


THE swIRl

You've probably seen the 3D paper 'snowflakes' around the web using 6 sections of this ornament. I decided to use the sections on their own . So easy, so cute and if you use double sided pattern paper is even prettier. You will have to use cardstock for these ones because regular paper won't hold as well. Check out the tutorial here. 


THE retro

This is probably the easiest one to make. Again, I used double sided pattern paper and stapled the top and bottom and it was done. I used this tutorial This is another ornament which I think works better with cardstock.


THE paper fan 

Another easy one too. I used this tutorial and just added one of the buttons I had laying around. It makes a big statement on the Christmas tree. You could also try this one with different 4 or two different color paper to give it that extra pop if you desire. 


CONE TREES DIY


I made these cone trees 3 years ago and still love them. The cone trees are SOOO easy to make and are great to place around the house during Christmas time. The styrofoam ornaments were a bit more involved but still easy to make and I just love that they are unique. There are many other materials you can use to make your own trees and ornaments, just use your creativity and let it loose! Here are the supplies I used for these projects:

I believe I got most of my supplies at Joann Fabrics except for the sample paint which is one of the many gray color samples I bought when I was trying to decide paint colors for the walls in our new home. For the stem vase filler, you ca find it at any other home store too like Homegoods. Here are some of the specific items I used:

THE GLITTER & RAFFIA TREES

For the glitter tree I simply painted it with the acrylic paint with a cheap foam brush and let it dry. You don't need a lot of paint so it will dry fast. Then I use another foam brush and applied glued on the areas I wanted my stripes. I winged this one but if you don't feel comfortable with that simply use a ruler and pencil and mark the circumference in the areas you want it. It doesn't have to be perfect. For the Raffia Tree I took one end of a raffia string and glued it on the bottom then I began to wrap it around and put glue every now and then where needed. 

For the glitter tree I simply painted it with the acrylic paint with a cheap foam brush and let it dry. You don't need a lot of paint so it will dry fast. Then I use another foam brush and applied glued on the areas I wanted my stripes. I winged this one but if you don't feel comfortable with that simply use a ruler and pencil and mark the circumference in the areas you want it. It doesn't have to be perfect. For the Raffia Tree I took one end of a raffia string and glued it on the bottom then I began to wrap it around and put glue every now and then where needed. 

THE STEM TREE

This will be your most involved tree but I think its my favorite. I began by cutting stems to the desired length. Once I had a bunch of it cut I began gluing each piece at the bottom. Once the first row was done I begin with the second row, overlapping a bit so it wouldn't show too much of the cone. I did paint the cone with acrylic paint so it would blend it. When the tree was completely covered I added some glitter by applying some glue here and there and sprinkling the tree with the glitter. 

This will be your most involved tree but I think its my favorite. I began by cutting stems to the desired length. Once I had a bunch of it cut I began gluing each piece at the bottom. Once the first row was done I begin with the second row, overlapping a bit so it wouldn't show too much of the cone. I did paint the cone with acrylic paint so it would blend it. When the tree was completely covered I added some glitter by applying some glue here and there and sprinkling the tree with the glitter. 

THE NATURALLY WIRED TREE

The wire may be a little tough at first but once you get the hang of it you will go fast. Once again, I painted the cone with the acrylic paint and let it dry. Take the wire and begin at the bottom. Began to wrap the wired around the cone adjusted the width as needed. Once you've gotten to the top, glue the bottom tip of the wire to the cone. Use a strong glue. It may take a little bit to dry then glue the ending tip at the top. Again, it doesn't have to be symmetrically perfect. In my opinion, it's better when it's not! 

The wire may be a little tough at first but once you get the hang of it you will go fast. Once again, I painted the cone with the acrylic paint and let it dry. Take the wire and begin at the bottom. Began to wrap the wired around the cone adjusted the width as needed. Once you've gotten to the top, glue the bottom tip of the wire to the cone. Use a strong glue. It may take a little bit to dry then glue the ending tip at the top. Again, it doesn't have to be symmetrically perfect. In my opinion, it's better when it's not! 

THE ORNAMENT TREE

This is by far the easiest tree you'll make. All I did was use some of that gray leftover paint I had and painted the cone. Once it was dry I simply too an ornament that was given to me a couple of years ago and use some of the Raffia to hang it on the cone. That is it! The one thing to remember is to use a flat ornament. Of course you can use whatever color paint you want and whatever ornament you want. You can also use any type of string you desire to hang on the tree. Simple! Love it!

This is by far the easiest tree you'll make. All I did was use some of that gray leftover paint I had and painted the cone. Once it was dry I simply too an ornament that was given to me a couple of years ago and use some of the Raffia to hang it on the cone. That is it! The one thing to remember is to use a flat ornament. Of course you can use whatever color paint you want and whatever ornament you want. You can also use any type of string you desire to hang on the tree. Simple! Love it!


MORE INSPIRATION

Here are some other ideas around the web to spark your creativity. I haven't tried them myself but will definitely try them in the future!

Origami Ornament  Tutorial

Origami Ornament Tutorial

Toilet Paper Ornament  tutorial

Toilet Paper Ornament tutorial

Candy Ribbon  Tutorial

Candy Ribbon Tutorial

Star Music Sheet  Tutorial

Star Music Sheet Tutorial

Coffee Filter Cone Trees  Tutorial

Coffee Filter Cone Trees Tutorial

A little extra to be Thankful for - Baby Gender Reveal

Amidst a world where prayer requests seem to reach heaven more frequently than thanksgiving, it is always good to stop and do what sometimes seems hard to find in this world, in our circumstances. 

Today, the United States celebrates 'Thanksgiving Day'. The meaning behind it is rich with history and today is a reminder to stop, if only for a day, to be thankful for what we do have...because we all have something we could be thankful for. 

This year, at our little home, we have something a bit extra to be thankful for. It's been a big year, filled with many, many reasons to utter words of thanksgiving, but one managed to climb up to the top of the list. If you've been following our journey, you probably read the announcement we made in our Silence Part 2 blog post. Well, yesterday, was another big day for us, the day we got to find out the gender of our little miracle. 

Yesterday, we got to see...

Ten little toes

Ten little fingers

A cute little face

Two arms

Two legs

A strong beating heart

But there was still more to see! And of course, we couldn't keep this news to ourselves. So without further adieu, here's what we're having!

We are 19 weeks and counting! And could't be happier and more thankful for this wonderful news! Happy Thanksgiving friends! And my hope is that today, you can stop long enough and find that something you are thankful for!

The Planning of a Baby Shower

So, this past September I got to give my dear friend Zoe a baby shower. She was going to giving birth to her third baby and the reason we just HAD to give her a shower is because she has two boys and now they were finally having a little girl! 

This was the very first shower I have ever planned. I usually try to stay away from them. LOL! I'm glad I had Sandy (Zoe's mother-in-law partnering with me). I'll be honest, planning a shower is NO joke but I did love coming up with crafty ideas to make it as personal as possible.

If you are planning a party or shower, here are some things that could spark your creativity!

The Decor

Whether making or buying decor for the shower, make sure they are items that mom-to-be will be able to use in the nursery. Party planning can be expensive and I wanted to make sure as many of it would go towards the baby's room. I asked Zoe about the colors and style she was going for in the room and kept it in mind while planning/buying decor. My friend was going for a shabby chic room and so I decided to do a fabric streamer garland to be used for decor at the dessert table but the intention was that after the shower the garland would be used to go over baby's crib area. Here's what I came up with. I will be including a tutorial in the future with the DIY details on how to make these. :)

Instead of playing games I decided to have a headband making station. I bought a white frame and added some string to it so people could hang their headband creations at the shower. The frame was then given to mom so she could put it in the baby's room to hang the headbands or to hang pictures. I'm so fortunate to have lots of crafty friends. My friend Rachel makes beautiful headbands so she provided a bunch of the materials. (Thanks Rachel!)

DSC_0661.jpg

I also made tags that people could attach to their headbands this way, in the future, mom could see who made it and if she wanted to she could take a picture of baby wearing the headband and send it to the person who created it. 

The Personal Touches

Personal touches add so much sentiment to the shower. You don't have to go overboard, just a few things here and there could just give it that personal touch that mom-to-be and guests will enjoy. The personal touches I added was hanging baby pictures of momma around the room. I also bought a glass jar for guests to place fun notes in it for mom to read in the future while nursing or during one of those sleepless nights. People could write something inspirational, or funny, or a tip...really whatever. 

Zoe didn't know I had gotten these pics so it was a nice surprise for her AND she then incorporated them into the baby room. Another decor addition to the nursery. WIN!

Zoe didn't know I had gotten these pics so it was a nice surprise for her AND she then incorporated them into the baby room. Another decor addition to the nursery. WIN!

The Foodie

From the beginning I had the idea to make the menu a grab-and-go appetizer type of thing. I will say, I thought it would be easier but not sure if it was or not. One thing is for sure, I LOVED the results. It just looked so proper and added so much to the party, it was almost a decor of its own. Plan a few things that you won't have to reheat but don't be afraid to add a couple of items that can easily be kept warm in a crockpot. Our menu included things like Macaroni & Cheese in martini glasses, strawberry shortcake in shot glasses, fruit skewers, "taco salad" tostito scoops and other goodies.

The place where we held the shower had this stand and we decided to put all the food there. All we did to it to bring it up a notch was to add burlap ribbon around the edges. I loved how it looked. 

The place where we held the shower had this stand and we decided to put all the food there. All we did to it to bring it up a notch was to add burlap ribbon around the edges. I loved how it looked. 

The Sweets Table

Yes, do have one. It's fun to decorate and adds such a punch to your decor. You don't even have to go too crazy. The food will speak for itself. Since the color of the shower was pink, we try to incorporate as much of it in the food. We had doughnuts on a stick, strawberry shortcake in shot glasses, cream puffs, cotton candy in pretty cupcake liners, rice crispy treats, some small meringues and of course the beautiful cake my friend Jenny made. 

I did have a blast planning it and learned so much throughout the process but one of the biggest tips I could give you is...

  • Don't do it alone! - I partnered with my friend's mother-in-law to plan the event and split up some of the cost and the work. I also asked some of my wonderful crafty friends to share their gift with us for the shower like my friend Jenny that made the cake, my friend Rachel who provided some of her beautiful headband pieces creations (check her stuff here) and my other friend Jenny who took the photos (check her stuff here) Also, to help with cost and time we asked some of the family and friends that were attending if they were able to bring a dish, we send a list of what we could use and left it to see if anyone could help. It worked out great. We asked for things such as macaroni and cheese, rice crispy treats, cream puffs. Mainly things that wouldn't take too much time from people. 

Alright, enough reading, here are other pics from the party for your inspiration! 

Cucumber Delights. I LOVE these and every time I make it people seem to love it. Recipe coming soon!

Cucumber Delights. I LOVE these and every time I make it people seem to love it. Recipe coming soon!

Guests creating their headbands.

Guests creating their headbands.

Some of the beautiful flower embellishments items my friend Rachel provided for the headband making station. I also bought some of them from Joann Fabrics and Michaels. Other items Rachel added to the mix were feathers, ribbons, beads.

Some of the beautiful flower embellishments items my friend Rachel provided for the headband making station. I also bought some of them from Joann Fabrics and Michaels. Other items Rachel added to the mix were feathers, ribbons, beads.

Simple decor. A white spray painted bottle I already had, a couple of skewers, one with a flag I printed, cut and glued to it and to the other I glued two cupcake liners and added a pattern circled I printed and then wrote baby riley on it. Simple and yet personal and cute. 

Simple decor. A white spray painted bottle I already had, a couple of skewers, one with a flag I printed, cut and glued to it and to the other I glued two cupcake liners and added a pattern circled I printed and then wrote baby riley on it. Simple and yet personal and cute. 

Worked with what you have- the place where we held the shower had this big tree. I wanted to the happy face tree a bit so it wouldn't look so out of place. Solution? I had fabric strips left over from the garland I had made and so, I decided to add the strips to it. It worked great and tied it into the rest of the theme.

Worked with what you have- the place where we held the shower had this big tree. I wanted to the happy face tree a bit so it wouldn't look so out of place. Solution? I had fabric strips left over from the garland I had made and so, I decided to add the strips to it. It worked great and tied it into the rest of the theme.

Don't mind me but that was the area we used for mom-to-be to open her presents.

Don't mind me but that was the area we used for mom-to-be to open her presents.

The guests. The place we used was small but it was charming. We actually used a flower shop.

The guests. The place we used was small but it was charming. We actually used a flower shop.

Zoe's mom lives in another state and was not able to be there. I reserved the gift her mom sent in the mail. When the time came to open her present I called Zoe's mom and had her on speaker so she could talk to her and thank her. Originally I had planned to do it via skype but it didn't work out but I will suggest video if possible.

Zoe's mom lives in another state and was not able to be there. I reserved the gift her mom sent in the mail. When the time came to open her present I called Zoe's mom and had her on speaker so she could talk to her and thank her. Originally I had planned to do it via skype but it didn't work out but I will suggest video if possible.

(Huge thanks to Sandy for letting us use her flower shop, Richardson's, for the shower. We got to have a beautiful backdrop of goodies to work with and incorporate in the shower. Go check out her shop sometime if you're in town!)

No matter what

Every Sunday morning I get to hang out with elementary age kids. Something about kids. They are raw, real, no cares in the world at that moment except for wondering when I'll be passing out snacks. :) 

I've learned so much just in teaching them these last few years. So many stories and bible verses and topics that challenge not only their little hearts but mine along the way. 

This past week the lesson was packed with a truth that even us adults need to keep learning over and over and over. 

"Give thanks no matter what" (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

BIG lesson to teach to little minds when they may be faced with adults around them that do the complete opposite. BIG lesson for us more 'mature' minds to practice in those times when all we want to do is anything BUT give thanks. 

"No matter what" is such a broad statement. No matter what implies 'through everything-IN everything'...and everything is a heck of A LOT! 

It means...

In all circumstances

In joy

In sorrow

In prosperity

In adversity

It's easy to give thanks in times of sunshine and beautiful seasons in life. But Alas! more times than not we are so much better at being diligent to open our mouth to express our disappointment with our current circumstances and to click 'post' on that detailed commentary we just typed and are eager to share with the Facebook world. 

Wonder what would happen if we pushed ourselves to give thanks no matter what!?

Wonder what would happen in our hearts and souls if we took it upon ourselves to change our mindset and taught ourselves to do this more often?

To give thanks no matter what doesn't imply that we are taking a naive stance on the reality that may be confronting us at that moment...it means you choose to think of the end result that God can bring out your situation.

So...you give thanks no matter what because when you enter into this great act of exchanging your 'thankless' with 'thankfulness' you can't help but think of all the good things that you've already been showered with and this does something to our hearts, this has the power to change a rotten attitude AND this my friends is so much better for our souls and the souls of those around us.

Maybe it's time to give it a try, not only this November but a few more times throughout the year.

 

Silence Part 2

About 5 months ago I found a chalkboard wall decor for just $5 dollars. I didn't know what exactly I was going to do with it but I mean, for $5  I was certain I could find a place to put it around the house. So, I bought it! About 2 months later I made my decision...I was going to do a timeline on it. I took my chalk pen out and went to work. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out and it now hangs in our living room. But I have a dilemma. See, I took a look at it not long ago and realized I was going to have to change it. Here's what it looks like...

But...

20140924_130829.jpg

What???!!! What????!!!! Yes, a little Penduck miracle is on the way and so, I'm going to have to get that chalk pen out again. :)

Remember how I said in my last blog post that sometimes silence is needed to process things? Not just bad things but good things too? Yeah...my news were good...very very good! But very very surprising. The morning of September 3 was one of those silence moments. 

If you haven't read my story of infertility before let me give you a bit of background. My husband and I have been married for 9yrs now. We've been hoping to get pregnant for 8 and 1/2 of those years. For most of those years we just let life run its course and waited to see if one day we would get those wonderful news but it never happened...till now.

Last year we decided to give fertility treatments a shot. We were a bit hesitant to go through the process because, if things didn't turned out as we hoped, we knew what it would entail not only physically but also emotionally. Our last attempt was hard to process and yet it was also such a pivotal moment in our lives (you can read more about it here). 

It was after that phone call that something happened in my soul. In one of the toughest moments in my life God took the opportunity to settled my heart and soul. During a time when words were tough to utter, silence came over and that was the moment when God was able to whisper at my heart. 

As I went through my journey of accepting the fact that this would probably be our last attempt to get pregnant I came to a place when I was finally okay with this fact, "if I never have a child, God will be enough". It was at this time that this truth was finally sealed in my heart. Soon after this pivotal moment, God started whispering this challenge to me in more ways than one, "Share your story of infertility." That's the reason this blog got started, the reason why you are reading this blog. This was the venue I chose to share my journey. I knew that He was challenging me to share my story not as a way to vent but as a way to bring others some hope. That though the journey is hard and there may be unanswered prayers, God is still a good God and a God that still cares for you. The hope was that those that may be walking a similar journey would realize they're not alone and that there is power in sharing our stories. 

And then, out of left field, God chose to remind Alex and I that our journey didn't quite end there.

Alex and I came back from our Nicaragua trip, a trip in which I was already pregnant. When we returned to the United States I was feeling sooooo fatigued and among other symptoms my mind began to ponder the thought that "perhaps I'm.....but nah.....must be all that delicious nicaraguan food I ate that messed up my stomach" or "maybe it's due to the antibiotics and steroid medicine I was taking during the trip which my doctor had prescribed for the ear infection I got before we left." And so, my heart and mind disregarded the thought that I could perhaps be.........."yeah, no. I'm pretty sure."

But the morning of September 3 I decided to take the tests I had asked the hubby to buy the night before. And then, the lines showed up...

That's when silence first kicked in. I saw the positive signs and went back to bed. Alex asked me, "well?", to which I replied "go check and see." I heard him say from the bathroom, "No way!". And he came back to bed.

We laid in bed saying nothing. Last time we had moments of silence was when we got THE phone call letting us know the fertility treatment had failed. However, this time the silence felt different. Our minds were trying to quickly catch up to the news. From time to time the silence was interrupted by a laugh and a "can you believe it?" But we had to quickly get up, take showers and head to work. And even at work, though there was noise around me, my mind, heart and soul were still in silence because I was in awe of the little miracle that was revealed to us that morning. That night, I took another test because I really didn't believe it. 

Today, we are still processing the good news. We are still in awe. This shouldn't have happened. This is a miracle almost 9 years in the making. A miracle that doesn't make sense in the human mind but it makes total sense in the soul and specially in the heart.

A miracle sent to reassure us that God still showers us with little miracles, many times, when we least expected. 

And now, a new journey awaits. A journey which I'm sure will bring new challenges, new memories, laughs, perhaps tears, and so much more. But for the moment I'm continuing to stay in awe of this good God of ours. 

Silence...(Part 1)

I've heard from some of you and you're telling me I've been too quite around here lately. 

I know...sorry friends. 

There are times when silence is not a bad thing. Sometimes silence is needed to process things...not just bad things, but good things too. 

Have you ever been in that place? 

You heard the news...good or bad...and now your mind is trying to catch up quickly to process each detail of said news. But not only your mind...your heart, your emotions, your soul, are in need of silence too.

Sometimes we are thrown into instances in life when we know it's time to quite the rumble around us just enough so we can hear God speak to us, to settle things in our hearts or perhaps to lift up a prayer or a praise.

And while you're silent-while you stand still, long enough, so you are able to hear heavenly whispers-your heart is gaining its strength. 

In silence your mind may not find all the answers but your soul is being reassured in such a way that you get to a place when you can utter the phrase "It is well". And then you get to a place where you can say to yourself: "Let go my soul and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name...so it is well!"

But what were my news you may ask? I will share...trust me...in the next post you'll find out. Till then, listen to this song.