Saturday, December 7, 2013

Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew

easy crock pot beef stew
I love this easy slow cooker beef stew. It's one of those hearty winter meals that warms you up from head to toe! It's so simple to make, just chop and throw into the crock pot! I hope you enjoy this recipe.


Ingredients: 

2 pounds of beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup of flour
1 tablespoon of corn starch (optional, but helps thicken the stew)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 package of onion soup mix
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 clove of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup beef broth
4-5 red potatoes diced
4 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped

Directions:

1. Put flour and seasonings (salt, pepper, onion soup mix, black pepper, paprika) into a gallon sized zip lock bag. Add beef and shake to coat.
2. Saute the coated beef on a pan with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil until browned.
3. Add chopped onion to pan with beef and cook until softened.
4. Transfer beef and onions to slow cooker.
5. Add beef broth and a tablespoon of worcestershire sauce to pan to deglaze. scrape up any seasoning and then pour over beef and onions in the slow cooker.
6. Add remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and stir.
7. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours

Serve it up!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Is The Art of Etiquette Dead? Part 2 Table Manners



Today I want to discuss the basic of table manners and the “art of eating”. So Let's be seated!

The Soup Course:

The soup spoon is to be held in the right hand with the thumb on top. Tip the spoon slightly away from you and fill it by moving it away from you not towards you. When most of the soup is finished, tip the bowl away from you, never towards you as not to spill on your clothes.



The Fish Course:

Both the fish knife and fork will be used for the fish course. The proper way to hold a fork while eating fish is with the left hand with the prongs down. The knife will be held in the right with the knife resting atop the side of your forefinger and held gently with your thumb. If the fish is soft and boneless, you may only need to use a fork, which should be held in the right hand.


The Meat Course:

For the meat course; the fork and the knife are held in the same hands as the fish course and with the fork prongs down. However, your forefingers will be pointed down the handle for more leverage. Cut one piece of meat at a time and turn the wrist and raise your forearm slightly towards your mouth. Do not stick out your elbows! If eating other vegetable on your plate, you can place your knife at the top right corner of your plate, but don't keep switching your knife and fork between hands every time you cut a piece of meat.

Never hold the fork in your left hand and pile food on it with the knife.

Never hold the knife in the left hand.

Never place your fork and knife on your plate, like oars on a row boat.



If “resting” place them slightly crossed the bottom of the plate, a good server will know not to remove your plate because you are not finished. This position can also be used when eating a piece of bread.

Never wipe your mouth, take a drink, or gesture with your utensils in your hand.

When the course is finished always place your knife and fork as shown. The prongs should face down and the blade should face the fork. This is the “Finished” position.





The Salad Course:

The salad course may be eaten just as the fish and meat courses are eaten. If a knife is not required, then the fork may be held in the right hand only. If the salad is served with the meat course, the same fork may be used.

The Dessert Course:

If a dessert requires a fork and a spoon, the spoon should be held in the right and the fork in the left. Eat with the spoon, the fork is used only to push food onto the spoon. Pie or cake only requires a fork which can be used in the right hand.

Some General Rules of Thumb...
  • Don't stick your elbows out or on the table while eating.
  • Don't eat over stuff your mouth.
  • Never chew with your mouth open or talk with your mouth full.
  • If you find a piece of meat or food you cannot swallow, don't spit it out. Chew it as small as possible and place it on the prongs of your fork or spoon and place it at the rim of your plate.
  • Don't get up from the table until your hostess rises.
Hopefully, these simple rules of etiquette can help you on your next dinner party or date. Remember that good manners don't mean that you are better than anyone else, but that you care about them by showing them respect.

**Illustrations from "Tiffany's Table Manners"

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Holiday Card Wording, Etiquette and Christmas Cards


It's almost that time of year again, The Holidays! If you're like me, then you are already excited about sending out your holiday greeting cards. The last few years have been especially fun with now having the little one to take pictures of! Last year, I decided to be my own photographer and get creative with taking photo's of my little one. It was a lot of fun and much easier as she was just barely at the age of learning to roll over! Now she's on the go and walking everywhere! These days it's hard to capture a picture that isn't blurry!

Last year we ordered our photo's from Tiny Prints and I loved how they came out!  They have a lot of great customizable options and sizes. I loved the great quality of paper they print on, they even provided an option of rounded edges for free. This year they have lots of glitzy and sparkly holiday cards to choose from! I can't wait to get mine ordered!


However, while picking out a card can often be the fun and exciting part, then next step is personalizing it to say that perfect holiday greeting. This can be a bit of a challenge! 

Some people like to use Religious/Christmas wording. Others may like a general "Holiday" greeting, which can include Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years.  (See Examples Below) You can also get creative with quotes or come up with clever rhymes. I'm not that clever, but there's a great article on Christmas Card wording by Tiny Prints to give you more inspiration! 

Another question that tends to come up a lot is; "how to sign our name?" The Carter Family? The Carters? The Carter's? 

When signing your last name, you do not need to use an apostrophe with the "s" as that is used to show possession. As in the "Carter's House".  You can simply sign "The Carter Family" or "The Carters" 


Here are a few basic wording examples you can use:

"Best Wishes to you this Christmas and a Happy New Year! The Carter Family"

"Season's Greetings and Best Wishes this New Year! The Carter Family"

"The Carters wish you a very Happy Holiday season" (as seen above) 

"Wishing you a Merry Christmas filled with Joy and Love!" 

"May the gift of Love, Joy & Peace be yours This Christmas"

"Warmest wishes this Christmas and a Happy New Year!

"Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!"



I hope this inspires you to get the juices flowing for your Christmas Cards; and of course, I wish you all a Happy Holiday Season!


*all greetings are original, any duplication is purely coincidental. 



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Christmas Budget App





It's about that time of year again, and the holidays are just around the corner. Hopefully, you have been saving up extra cash the last few months for Christmas this year. As, my favorite financial advisor says, "Christmas is not a surprise, it lands on the same day every year!" - Dave Ramsey. Therefore, we save and plan ahead! (Right? right.) 
Anyways, I'm excited because he has just release a great new app (and website) for your phone!


It's a great and SUPER EASY site to log in your Christmas budget, who you want to shop for, and how much your going to spend! 


Then, as you shop, you can enter in any gifts that you have purchased and the amount and it will track how much you have left to spend for each person, and overall. 

 I'm a total budget nerd, so I'm excited to have this right at my finger tips on-the-go on my phone!

Be sure to check it out and use it this Christmas!

**The Budget shown is not my real budget. It is purely for demonstration. :)




Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Brie Apple Crescent Wrap Appetizer



My husband and I love the Fruit-Nut-Cheese combo, and any variation of those three things is delicious in my mind!

For an amazing and easy party appetizer, I want to share our "Brie Apple Crescent Wraps".

All you need is:

-A roll of crescents. 
-One apple (thinly sliced)
-Brie Cheese
-Walnut halves
-Honey

Unroll the crescents and place thinly sliced apples at the widest part. add a small slice of Brie cheese, add a drizzle of honey at top with a walnut. Roll the crescent and then fold over the corners and pinch closed any openings. The Brie cheese will melt and seep out of the crescent roll if you do not do this!

Bake for 10-13 mins (according to the crescent roll package).

Then enjoy warm!

This will be great to serve at Holiday Parties! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Is the Art of Etiquette Dead? Part 1: Party Planning.

I'm going to be blogging about a short series in regards to etiquette, or manners. Lately, I feel that common practices of etiquette or even simple manners are becoming a way of the past. I truly believe that being polite and showing good manners and practicing good etiquette is a way to show sign of respect to other around you.

"Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you." Luke 6:31

Today I'd like to specifically discuss etiquette when it comes to party planning. All these may seem like common knowledge, and hopefully it very well is! However, I can't even tell you how many times I encounters instances where these simple "rules" were not followed.



Invitations: The first step in planning a party is getting out your invitations. we love getting them and we love to send them. Providing all the essentials information on a invitation is crucial; what the party is for, address, time, if food will be served, or a dress code if necessary. But there is one other important detail to remember is sending them out in a timely manner. When it comes to weddings, typically you should mail your invitations six to eight weeks before your wedding date, that should give guests plenty of time to arrange their schedules. For out of town guests, send a save the date six to eight month in advance, and follow with a formal invitation. If you are sending an invitation out for a birthday party or other occasion such as a shower, please allow three to four weeks.

On another note, there are some question as to the type of invitation you should send. In the world of "Facebook" and "Evites", people often use those as a form of invitations. There's nothing wrong with this, however, I would recommend it for informal parties or gatherings. If you are throwing a party, such as a shower, you should send out an actual invitation. "Tiny Prints" is one of my favorite websites to order invitations from. "Shutterfly", also has great invitations and they also often have great promos.


RSVP: Often, invitations will include an RSVP with a date. RSVP is the initials for a french phase, which means "respond please", meaning the host would like to know if you are going to be attending their party. An RSVP is not an optional request. I repeat, not optional! This is one of the most crucial, yet I've found overlooked part of the invitation.

It may seem like an old fashion request, but it is very important to respond as soon as you can, and always by the RSVP date. For weddings, often the carters needs to know exactly how many people they are feeding, provide for enough place settings, etc... because the host has to pay for a certain amount of guests by a certain date.  Or in the case of a party, a host if not catering, needs to know how much food and drink to buy to prepare in advance.

Typically, I provide an email as well as, a phone number to make responding easy to do. Even if send out actual invitations, a lot of websites have online RSVP available as well. "TinyPrints" provides this for your event. Many wedding websites do as well too.

I've found that people these days do not RSVP as much as you would think. This is a simple task to do. If you still don't know if you can't make an event by the RSVP date, just decline. I'm my personal opinion this is a much better option than saying you will go, and then not showing up. This is rude and disrespectful to the host. So is not giving as response at all!

Please, RSVP!

Thank you cards: Once the party is over, if there have been gifts given the host MUST send out hand written thank you cards. I know some people think that a call or a verbal "thank you" is enough. I disagree. I'm a firm believer in showing a personal written thank you note. They are much warmer and more thoughtful. Besides, why wouldn't you want to express your warmest gratitude towards someone who generously gave you a gift? If a guest was not able to make an event, such as a shower or wedding and still sent a gift, you must write them a thank you note. The typical rule of thumb for sending out thank you notes for parties is within one week. For weddings or showers, if you start to receive gifts before the event, start your thank you's then. Before the wedding, send them out within two weeks of receive a gift. After the wedding no later than a month.


_________________________________________________________________________________





Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I "Still" Do!



Today is my Husband and I's 2nd Wedding Anniversary!  Two Years ago, we had our fairy tale wedding, it was a day to remember and a day I will never ever forget! We stood together in the church that I grew up in, before family and friends and said vows that we wrote together. Vows that are more than just words, but a promise.

Now, I know that 2 years may not seem like a lot, but in those two years we have experienced so much together. A few months after we got married we got pregnant and experienced the birth of our beautiful baby girl, who is now a fun little one year old! Having a child brings a whole new level to a relationship, in a wonderful way! Chuck and I have also been blessed to both have parents who are strong in their faith and strong in their marriage as examples to us. My parents have been married for over 33 years and his parents for over 45!!

We have our moments, our up's and down's of course. Who doesn't? But we work on our relationship, daily because it matters to us. We read "The Love Dare's" Daily devotional. Which is a great devotional for married couples, we attend marriage retreats at our church and my home church (*see links below) which have been so instrumental in our relationship. So much of what we have learned in God's teaching and at the church has helped better our marriage far beyond what I could have imagined! This is because we truly strive to put God first in our marriage, in our home, our finances and all areas of our life. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, "Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken." It takes more than two to make a marriage successful, it takes three! Husband, Wife and God!

I'm so blessed to be married to this wonderful man, and I can't wait to see what the next 50+ years will hold in store for us!

I love you my dear husband!






(Some good reads for couples)

* Love Dare Daily Devotional 
Love and Respect <---- This is awesome!!!
The Marriage You've Always Wanted - Gary Chapman

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

So Loved the World...

John 3:16 says, "For God SO LOVED the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have everlasting life."


This is one of the very first verses that I memorized as a child. I can even remember being about 6-7 at a neighborhood vacation bible school and practicing reciting that verse everyday until I had it memorized at the end of the week. I'm sure there was some extra motivation involved, probably promise of candy or something. But through the years, I've heard the verse, time and time again, shared it, heard messages on it, and after a while it almost become so familiar, it starts to lose a little bit of its meaning. Or maybe I never fully understood the verse to begin with...until now.

They say your life changes once you have children, and I can agree with that with a loud "Amen!". My life has changed in so many ways for the better in the last year. Sure, there are the "cons" to having children, your body is never the same, you are sleep deprived and your "shoe fund" is now a "diaper fund". But it's completely 100% worth it. Being a mother has been an absolute pure joy, it has been more rewarding and better than any job I have ever or will ever have. It has also changed the way I view God and my relationship with him.

When you are a child, or young adult, you tend to view Jesus as like a brother or friend and God as, God the Father and I think that's natural. We hear the verse John 3:16 and view it from the perspective of a child whose father takes care of them. And if we have (hopefully) grown up in loving homes, we perceive that as a natural inclination. We know our parents love us and would do anything for us.

However, once I had my daughter, my perspective of John 3:16 changed. I still understand the verse from a perspective of a child, as I am still one. But now, my eyes were opened to the verse from a perspective of a parent. The true meaning of the sacrifice that God made by giving his ONE and ONLY son for the whole world! All of humanity! And we all know there have been some great people in this world, and some not so great. Either way, we are all sinners. Not one person can say, I've never lied, or done at least one bad thing in our lives. So we are all separated from our Holy God from sin. This is a fact.

But could you even imagine giving up your own child for the sake of all humanity? (or perhaps your favorite person, if you don't have kids) I can't, no way! Because let's face it, most people don't deserve it, or even want it! I don't deserve it. I am an unworthy wretch! But God SO LOVED the world that he DID! The thought of that just makes me want to fall to my knees and cry, thank him and hug my baby all at the same time.  In a way it puts in perspective for me how much God truly loves us. It's so much more than I can imagine. He was willing to give up what was most precious to him, so that we may have eternal life. All we have to do is believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord. He died and rose from the dead and now is seated at the right hand of God. We don't have to try and work our way into heaven. Let's be honest if that was the case, not one person would be in Heaven. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father, expect through him. (John 14:6).

So I thank you, Father, for doing what we cannot do, for your precious sacrifice of your son. I can't even imagine how hard that must have been, especially knowing that people would reject your gift, mock you and sin against you time and time again. I thank you that you show us what love truly means; that you loved us, and even while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A blog by any other name...


A Foreword:

I've been pretty bad when it comes to blogging lately, mostly due to the fact summer is just super busy. Also, because my little one has discovered how fascinating my computer is, and loves to bang on the keyboard and rip the laptop out of my hands.

So needless to say I don't have many opportunities to get on my computer like I used to when all she could do was roll around! Ha ha!

Also, I've been doing a lot of "soul searching" as you could call it and the direction I want to take my blog. To be perfectly honest (and no offense to other bloggers out there reading this- I swear!) I feel that the blogging world is overwhelmed with DIY's, Birch Box reviews and Style tips. And while that's GREAT, I read them myself and like posting those topics too (mostly DIY's) I've been feeling lead to step back from that direction for a time and post about what I am truly passionate about and what my heart longs to share, and that is my love for Jesus.

So my posts from time to time, will be more personal about what I'm learning and experiencing in my journey of life. I hope you enjoy and I hope you read!


******

That being said.... I wanted to segue into some truths I have been reading and learning about lately, and that is God's Promises.

There are some things in my life that I have been praying about for a long time, at least from my perspective it's been a long time when it's been well over a year! And during that time I have had moments where I struggle to remember God's Promise's for our lives.

A promise is a declaration of what someone will do, and God gives us his promises so that we may walk by faith while we wait for him to work. The reality is that sometimes that can be hard. We have our weak moments where we feel that God isn't hearing our prayers or maybe the way we expect them to be answered isn't the way God has planned. Or, perhaps it hasn't happened in "our" timeline.

When we have those moments of doubt, it's important to remember God's character and who He is. God's promises are great because HE is the one that promises them. He never fails. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

"I am the Lord, God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?" Jeremiah 32:27.
The answer is no, of course!

Sometimes in life we tend to look at obstacles or problems we face and become overwhelmed with how big they are. We think there's no way this problem can be solved. But we can't compare ourselves to the how big the problem is, but we need to compare the situation to God. God is bigger than any situation we have. Nothing is too hard for him.

So when life throws us for a loops, we grab hold of His words, His truths and we know that God can conquer anything. We build our faith and our trust in Him while we wait.

Below are some of His truths and promises that I have held onto during this time in my life. I pray they will encourage you, as they have encouraged me.

"I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

"They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

"For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

"Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

*****


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Elsa's First Year! A Shutterbook Preview!


Shutterfly allows you to customize your photo book just the way you want.



Traveling with baby! (Our First Flight!)

Reading a book on the way to the airpot


This last week my family traveled out to Colorado  Springs for my cousin's wedding. It was our first time traveling with our baby so we had no idea what to expect!

The trip to the airpot was long since we hit morning rush hour. Elsa was good most of the time, she doesn't like her car seat no matter where we go. So it's always a challenge, even going to the grocery store.

We flew out of Chicago O'hare airport, which if you've been is a very busy airport. We managed to get through security and everything just fine. But for some reason our terminal did not seem to have air conditioning that day. It was probably about 90 degrees as we sat and waited to board.

Once we FINALLY got on the plane and found our seats.
On the plane! so hot!
 I had planned out the morning just exactly so that Elsa would nurse during take off and then hopefully take her morning nap in my lap.

Well my plan worked out perfectly, expect for the fact that the plane didn't take off when it should've. They made an announcement that we didn't have pilots for the plane yet and that it was going to be another hour! Ugh! So they told us that we could get off the plane if we wanted. Well that would've been nice, but I had my little one passed out on my lap!

Oh, and remember how there was no AC in the airport? Well there was no AC in the plane either! We were just sitting there sweating like crazy and I had my baby on top of me. It was miserable.

Once we finally got going the flight wasn't so bad. Elsa woke up just in time for take off (of course, right?)  I hate to fly- my stomach lurches with every bump. But Elsa seemed to have no clue. She was content and happy the whole 2 hour flight!

hotel baby crib -"Baby Jail!"
When we touched down in Denver my dad rented a car and we all piled in to make the hour trip to Colorado Springs.

Now for those of you who aren't aware, Colorado has been dealing with bad forest fires and there just happened to be some east of where we were headed. My mom and I were supposed to go to my cousin's bachelorette party that night and we were already running late because of our flight being delayed. But as we were traveling the traffic was horrible because the national guard was evacuating a ton of areas within our path.

So my dad and my husband were trying to figure out a back road route to my Aunt's house with the help of google maps! I'm so thankful that they both have a great sense of direction because we were able to get outta there!

Remember how I mentioned Elsa hates the car seat? Yeah, she was having a meltdown after the first hour of traffic. It was a lonnnnnngggg drive/day after the point. We were exhausted and ready for some sleep after the party.

Elsa didn't sleep well that trip- probably due to her tiny "jail crib" so we didn't sleep well either unfortunately. And our "queen sized bed" felt more like a double. Haha.

Chuck is a bit tall for this door!
The next day we were able to do a little "sight-seeing" We headed off to Glen Eyrie - The Navigator's head quarters. The Navigator's is a Christian organization. My mom's dad was on staff with them as a missionary and my Grandma still works with them. Back in the 60's he helped them do fundraising to buy the property. It's a beautiful place and there's a beautiful castle there that they have conferences at.

We enjoyed walking around on this beautiful day!
At the Navigator's headquarters
 











We then went to the Garden of The God's. Which had beautiful walking paths around this large rock formations. A really beautiful park! It was hot and Elsa was needing a nap, so we didn't stay too long.
Garden of the Gods
Elsa and Daddy!

We got to go out that night and celebrate an early Father's Day with my husband and my dad. We went to this amazing fish place - that I can't even remember the name of! I hate that!

But it was really good, and we had a great time celebrating.


The next day was my cousins wedding. It was a nice Catholic Mass and a fun ceremony to follow. Elsa was having fun with my sunglasses, trying them on.

It was great to see all of my family and visit with them!
Celebrating Father's Day




















At my Cousin's Wedding

The next day we flew home to Chicago.
We were so ready to go home after not getting much sleep all weekend (remember the tiny crib?)
The flight wasn't too bad. It was only 20 minutes delayed because they shut down all but one runway.  There was a few "bumps" along the way, but nothing too serious. Elsa was great on the flight and enjoyed looking out the window!

So the actual traveling with our baby wasn't as bad as I thought.
I had some tips that I was given from other moms that I thought I would pass along:

-You can bring food pouches and liquids that are medically necessary for baby through security (but make sure its not over 4 oz!)

- A little benadryl can help calm an anxious baby ;) Use this as a last resort. I would recommend delaying nap time so that the baby will sleep on the plane, just because they are tired. 

- I brought my boppy (nursing pillow) and It was great for when she napped on the plane. Much more comfortable, even though it was a little large. 

- Nurse if you can during take off and landing. I noticed a few times Elsa pulling at her ears, and so when I nursed her, it helped relieve some of the pressure.

- Pack as light as possible! Hard to do, I know. But a few things we did was only pack enough diapers for the trip there and bought a small pack once we got there to use. 

- ipad and iphone apps/videos can be a life saver! I'm not a parent who plops there baby in front of the TV. but while we were stuck on the plane waiting to de-board, or if Elsa started having a meltdown on the car ride. I had a few "Fisher Price" apps on my phone that I would turn on for her, and it would make her happy and keep her occupied for those few crucial moments. She loves the "Baby Animals" one! 

This is what helped us out on our first flight with our baby!
If you have any traveling with kids tips, I would love to here them!

Looking out the plane!
Where we going today!? 





Friday, June 7, 2013

Happy Birthday Mom!

Story Time with Elsa!




Happy Birthday to my Mom! 

You are a wonderful mother and grandmother! We are so thankful for you being in our lives and for all that you've done for the family!

You've always been a great example of being a Godly woman, mother and wife. I've been so blessed to have you as my mother. I know Elsa is lucky and happy to have your as her Grandma.

Here's to many more years to come!!

Love you!!

-Michelle
My Wedding

Mother's Day at the Zoo!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Easy Hash Brown Quiche




This is a easy, delicious quiche with a yummy hash brown crust is an easy dish for, breakfast, brunch or even dinner!

What you'll need:

3 cups, shredded frozen hash browns, thawed and drained
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup half and half (or milk)
1/2 cup of turkey bacon (cooked and chopped)
1 cup shredded cheddar
salt and pepper - to taste


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees

Press the thawed out frozen hash browns between paper towels to dry them out as best as you can.
In a 9 inch pie pan toss the hash browns with melted butter into a plate and then press them into a pie pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Meanwhile, mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. When the crust is ready pour the egg mixture over and put in oven. Lower the oven temp 350 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes or until quiche is light golden brown.

Serve!





Tuesday, June 4, 2013

weekend recap- congrats to my younger brother!

Elsa and Preston

A HUGE congrats are due to my younger brother, Preston, who just graduated this last weekend from Elmhurst College. He graduated at the top of his class (summa cum laude) which means you have a 3.9 GPA or higher on a 4.0 scale. Not only are we proud of him getting his degree- Preston has also been accepted into medical school next year at Chicago Medical School! Some of you may know how hard it is to get accepted into Medical School these days! Preston has been working very diligently these last four years to gain experience in the real world working at a hospital, working in a research lab at Loyola University and all while maintaining a high GPA. 

He took classes to become a ER tech to work while still in school and has been balancing working at an urgent care and at the ER at Elmhurst Hospital (many times night shifts!) He's gained lots of hands on experience and is truly gifted in the field of medicine and helping patients! I don't know how he does it!! 

I'm so excited for him and I'm happy he will be going to school nearby too!

 Congrats to the Future Dr. Preston Jacob! Way to go!

Preston with our parents


Monday, June 3, 2013

Online Trunk Show, Today only! Matilda Jane Clothing!



Don't forget! Today is the Matilda Jane Trunk Show!! <3 Michelle 


Please check out my
Matilda Jane Clothing
Catalog Show!
Shop from the comfort of your own home! One day only!
 
Monday, June 3rd
Just log on to:
and click on "Shop the Collection"
Then...use the "Shop by Size" feature to pull up what's available in your size.
Your final step is to email my Trunk Keeper, Annie Ozinga at
She'll take your order and help you with any questions you might have!
It's the easiest way to get some great summer outfits or gifts!
Contact Annie at 708-743-6786 if you have ANY questions.

Lastly, Please make sure Annie has all of your billing/shipping and payment information by 9:00pm CST if you'd like to take part in this Catalog show, you can email or call with the information, thank you so much!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Matilda Jane Online Trunk Show - Monday June 3rd




I would like to invite you to shop Matilda Jane this coming Monday, June 3rd! If you haven't heard of Matilda Jane, you're in for a treat! The clothes are ridiculously adorable one-of-a-kind pieces! I was invited to a show about month ago and fell in love with the clothes for my daughter! I got two pieces a dress and a shirt and Elsa has been wearing them all the time! 

Trust me when I say you will LOVE Matilda Jane Clothes for your little one! (And they have clothes for women too!)

Check out the info below and let me know if you have any questions!

-Michelle 



Inline image 1
Elsa in her Symon's General Store Dress, 
(nevermind the drool and onesie underneath!)


Please check out my
Matilda Jane Clothing
Catalog Show!
Shop from the comfort of your own home! One day only!
 
Monday, June 3rd
Just log on to:
and click on "Shop the Collection"
Then...use the "Shop by Size" feature to pull up what's available in your size.
Your final step is to email my Trunk Keeper, Annie Ozinga at
She'll take your order and help you with any questions you might have!
It's the easiest way to get some great summer outfits or gifts!
Contact Annie at 708-743-6786 if you have ANY questions.

Lastly, Please make sure Annie has all of your billing/shipping and payment information by 9:00pm CST if you'd like to take part in this Catalog show, you can email or call with the information, thank you so much!
Happy Shopping!


Elsa wearing "Pink Pony Anna Top" and "Symon's General Store Dress"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why you should wear homemade deodorant (and how to make it...)

homemade deodorant recipe



We all have heard that the aluminum in our deodorant is harmful. But it's what keeps us from sweating and who wants to be sweaty and smelly? Not me! So we turn the other way and hope that, yet another harmful ingredient will not do us any harm. But who are we kidding? Aluminum, parabens and other ingredients are very harmful and have been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer's. My family already has a history of breast cancer and I don't want to be adding fuel to the fire if I can help it.

I have gone out and tried other "Natural deodorants" from the health food stores and they all kind of stink. Literally. I mean they don't work for me- at all. I'm a naturally "sweatier" person by nature and I've always been super anal about how I smell and they would just make me sweat even more! I'm the type of person that would always carry around a mini stick of deodorant in my purse, just in case! So needless to say, I've always felt stuck between a rock and a hard place when it came to deodorant.

So, about a month and a half ago I stumble upon this recipe to make a homemade deodorant and I haven't looked back! It's worked even better than my "clinical defense" deodorant that I was using previously. I've even gone a day without a shower and still not have smelly pits (so says my husband who has been my verifier!)

What you use, and how it works...

Coconut Oil: Antibacterial, fights odor causing bacteria on your skin, smooth texture. pleasant scent.

Cornstarch: Acts as an antiperspirant and keeps you dry

Baking Soda: Odor fighter

Essential Oil: Adds a pleasant scent (I used lavender)

Tea Tree Oil: Antibacterial - odor fighter

Container: I used a small glass baby food jar. But you could use a cleaned out old deodorant container if you have one.

Homemade Deodorant Recipe:
2 tablespoons Baking Soda
6 tablespoons Cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
10-20 drops essential oil (I used Lavender)
10-20 drops of Tea Tree Oil
Empty container

Step one: Mix Baking Soda and Cornstarch in a bowl
Step two: add essential oil and tea tree oil
Step three: add coconut oil and mix well. Microwave for a few seconds if you need to mix better.
Step four: pack into your container.

Some thoughts and tips...

I use my fingers to scoop out a small amount of deodorant and rub in. I have found you can also use it on other parts of your body that tend to get sweaty smelly, more like a body deodorant.

First few uses, there may be extra coconut oil at the top of the container and seem oily, but it will more consistent the longer  you keep using it.

Give your body a few days to adjust to the new product before deciding.

Allow to dry before getting dressed to avoid deodorant marks, as you would any deodorant!

Let me know what you think!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Refresh Yourself: Cucumber Water!


It's been hot out lately and I've been loving the weather and with summer just around the corner it's important to stay hydrated. Lately, I've been quenching my thirst with refreshing Cucumber water. So today I'm sharing: 

5 reasons why you should refresh yourself with Cucumber Water!


1. You drink more water: Getting in our daily intact of water can be a challenge at times and with the vast variety of tempting "sugary drinks" sometimes we want something a little tasty to drink besides just plain water. 

2. It's affordable: Cucumbers are fairly inexpensive, I got mine for 49 cents and have never spent more than a dollar on a cucumber making this drink easy and affordable!

3. It's good for you: Cucumbers contain silica, a trace mineral good for your connective tissue. Plus antioxidants that are good for your skin. 

4. It's low calorie: Cucumbers only have about 45 calorie, so adding a couple of slices to your water doesn't add many calories. 

5. It's delicious and fancy: It's a tasty way to drink more water! It's great to serve to guests too, just slice up a cucumber,  add to water and serve! 




Don't forget to enter the Conscious Box giveaway still going live now!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Conscious Box Giveaway!



This giveaway is brought to you by Conscious Box. 

Conscious Box is a monthly service that sends you new pure, sustainable, eco-friendly products for you to try and discover! Some of the products and brands you can expect to see are Seventh Generation, Yogi Tea, Beauty Without Cruelty, St. Claire's Organics and many more! 

They have three different monthly boxes you can choose from:
 The Classic Box, Vegan Box and Gluten Free Box.  


And they would like to giveaway a monthly box to you for free!

Use the Rafflecopter giveaway tool to enter below!




Be sure to leave a comment on their Facebook page letting them know that you're there from Little Home and Big Hearts!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 29, 2013

Crochet Owl Hat


Crochet Owl Hat Pattern

child's owl crochet hat

It's been the longest "Winter/Spring" in Chicago and my little one needed a hat that fits to wear outside on colder days, because she's already out grown the infant hat we got her from last fall. And because stores are no longer selling winter clothes I decided to make her a hat myself!

I found this great crochet pattern for an adorable owl hat: here. They give easy to read crochet patterns for all sizes from newborn to adult! I changed the eyes a little bit and gave them an "expression" rather than using the suggested buttons, only because my daughter is in the "try to eat everything phase" and I didn't want her to try and rip off a button and choke on it!

There are lots of other great patterns on her website that I am definitely going to check out!

Doesn't Elsa looks adorable in her new hat?! :)


Monday, April 22, 2013

Life Lately...

So, per my previous post, life has been a bit crazy lately. Maybe not "crazy" but I've definitely been on my toes a whole lot more with my little one, so blogging has been a little on the back burner lately as I am just lucky to get myself a shower on most days, but have still been keeping up working out with Revolt Fitness!

For example, this morning I'm just trying to use the bathroom and my little one made her way into my make-up bag. All she was able to snag was some lip stain, that she thankfully can't open. She's also been venturing more bravely into new places I'm learning I need to Baby-proof! Oh baby!










Everyone always tells you that you will be constantly on your toes, when your baby is on the go, and yes. Yes, they are right! Haha. 

My little girl is also teething- hard core, (Why won't those teeth just pop through already!!!) and not wanting me to be far from her. She's been on me like white on rice. Whenever I go somewhere, my cute little shadow is not far behind. 
Baby girl climbing up me because she wants me to hold her... :)


following me to get a glass of water
But we have been able to have some fun lately too! The other week my sister-in-law hosted a Matilda Jane Trunk party at her house. If you haven't heard of Matilda Jane, check it out, the clothes are ADORABLE! It was a fun Mommy/Daughter night. The little girls all tried on cute dresses. Elsa got two adorable outfits that are just out of this world cute! She got a dress that is perfect for a little Tea Party! She also enjoyed playing with all the other "big kids" at the party and with her cousins. 

watching the girls play the "cup game"
playing with her cousin

Trying on her Matilda Jane Dress and Top (pants not MJ)

We have also been taking advantage of this nice weather  (when it's not raining and flooding the midwest) and enjoying swinging and walks to the park! Elsa laughs so hard when she swings! It's hilarious!


Also, last week, Chuck and I were able to go to Jesus Cultural with his sister's family for a night of Praise and Worship. Elsa got to be babysat by my father and my two brothers. (Can you say, Three Men and a Baby!?) She stayed up until 11 to wait until I got home! The only time she slept was a short cat nap in her bouncer. 

Too much fun!


Hanging with her Uncle!


It's been a busy few weeks, I'm so glad Spring is finally here! And I have some post that will be coming your way soon! (Just a sneak peak, one will be on how I made this "Matilda Jane inspired" sundress for Elsa.)