Gigi's camping party and 2 creative ways to use paper lunch bags

happy birthday Gigi I hope you enjoy this little party re-cap-- scroll down for a couple of easy DIY party projects.

Friday night was Gigi's birthday party-- her first drop-off party with a slew of little girls . It was lovely. Having only done parties where the whole family was invited in the past, I wasn't sure what to expect.

But with only my two little ones to get in the way of the big girls, the 5-7-year old crowd was remarkably easy to coordinate. The girls had a blast. My next-door neighbors were the only adults to stay and hang out and we had a great time with them-- and I enjoyed passing off my camera to one of them who offered to photograph the event.

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I love photography, but it was so refreshing to not have to be the one doing all documenting. He took dozens of photos (including ones of me-- shocking!) and I got to focus on Gigi and the girls instead of my camera.

When I saw this party on a friend's blog, I knew it would be the perfect way to sway Gigi away from a character-themed party (gag me!) and it was true. She loves camping, and well, I had her at s'mores for dessert (and hey, we still had a Frozen sing-along around the campfire).

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The meat of the party consisted of a "tent"-- an EZ-up with sheets tucked in and clothes-pinned around the sides. Inside were blankets to sit on, and the girls got to do finger-style rainbow looming, decorate wooden clipboards with camping-themed stickers and then use those for coloring printable coloring sheets that I found on Pinterest. The clipboards were their party favors.

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Gigi was dying for face painting, so while the girls (+ Brody) worked on their art projects and snacked (see below), I also painted their cheeks. They all looked loved.

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The kids also did a backyard scavenger hung -- finding a bug was the big challenge there. ;)

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For food, we served up organic hot dogs, caesar salad (Gigi's favorite), watermelon, chips & dip, carrot sticks and juice boxes, along with the super fun build-your-own trail mix bar (honey roasted peanuts, dried cranberries, chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, almonds & raisins), which was a hit.

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Gigi opened her presents around the fire pit, and then we lit the fire for dessert. While I ran inside to grab the sweets, the girls were getting a bit restless. "Why don't you guys sing Let it Go" was enough to send them into a contented singing frenzy. When I returned, I took a moment to pray for dear Gigi before we got to roasting.

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Dessert couldn't have been easier-- s'mores around the "campfire" and of course, we sang to Gigi over a flaming marshmallow instead of candle.

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She had a wonderful time, and I loved seeing my big girl so happy. Her actual birthday is May 7, so I'm looking forward to another special day of simple celebrating. Special thanks to my parents for letting us have the party in their backyard.

And now for a little DIY.

Being the classic ENFP that I am, I had great visions (and lots of inspiring pins) for this party, but of course, I waited till the last minute to do everything. So there I was, the morning of the party, trying to create a cute paper bunting by Gigi's request, and naturally, my Cricut wouldn't work. I threw in the towel, disappointed.

It was later, that I came up with an even better solution. I cut off the tops of some brown paper lunch bags to make little snack bags, and when I looked at the top halves sitting in a pile, I wondered what we could do with them. Inspiration struck and sure enough, they made a perfectly rustic bunting that Gigi loved (and got to help make).

paper bag DIYs

2 ways to use paper lunch bags for rustic party décor

These are fun projects to do with your child!

Supplies:

Trail mix bags for a build-your-own trail mix bar

The first thing we made was the snack backs. I cut off the tops of the bags leaving a short bag about 3-4" tall. Gigi labeled them for "trail mix" and then I hole punched two holes in the front side to tie a little baker's twine bow through for a dash of cuteness.Voilà!

Rustic bunting

Take the paper bag tops and gently fold them in half where their seam is and trim off a diagonal piece leaving you with a slightly triangular bottom.

Have your kid label each one with a letter (on the side without the seam)-- ours said "CAMP GIGI!" on it in two colors.

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Punch two holes in each pennant and then lay them out on the ground. Measure a piece of raffia and a piece of baker's twine long enough to span the pennants and have about a foot of extra on each end. Thread twine/raffia through the pennants.

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Hang to display! Ours went on the front of our art "tent" and then we saved it to hang over Gigi's bed. I love simple these projects were and that Gigi could get involved. Sometimes when technology doesn't cooperate, we all win.

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Happy camping!

The bundle books I love and the ones I'm ready to devour {+ new pay in May option!}

First: real life talk. I can't go on with regular blogging without mentioning this. My dear pastor's family needs as much prayer as they can get. Monday 4/28 at noon, their precious daughter, who spent her 14th birthday in the hospital yesterday, will undergo a very invasive surgery for a tumor that was found unexpectedly in her skull a few days ago. The details are here and our church family covets your prayer. 

I've been wanting to give you a bit more personal look at the bundle, so today I'm going to share some of the books that are already favorites of mine, and also the ones that have got me really excited to read or use.

Get paid May 1st? You don't have to miss the bundle! Read on below to see how you can order now and pay/get the bundle on May 1.

 Homemaking

Life Your Way Printables Download Pack by Mandi @ Life Your Way - Mandi has basically created a printable for every part of life that needs organization. I'm excited to try out some of them and see how they work with my current planning system. 

Sewing School 101: Simple Tips to Get You Stitching - ahem. Am I allowed to call my own book a favorite? ;) Seriously, if you need a friend to hold your hand through learning to sew, let me and my book be that friend for you.

 The Homemaker’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Schedule by Amy @ Raising Arrows - I love the idea of a schedule but in reality tend to balk at it, so I'm excited to have another resource for creating one that I might be able to stick to. 

See these and all the homemaking books here.

Food

Just Making Ice Cream: Over 70 Delicious Recipes Made with Nourishing Ingredients – 2nd edition by Marillyn @ Just Making Noise - Any of you who know me at all, know my affinity for homemade ice cream. One of my favorite resources is this cookbook-- I've probably made close to a dozen of Mare's flavors and they've yet to disappoint, and have in fact, received rave reviews from whomever I've fed them to. I reviewed her first edition a few years ago, and it's been one of my go-tos for Ice Cream Sundays ever since. 

Meal Planning Made Easy by Kelly @ The Nourishing Home - I've heard nothing but good things about my friend Kelly's meal plans, so I'm thrilled to read through this for meal-planning inspiration.

The Healthy Lunch Box: Sandwich-Free Secrets to Packing a Real Food Lunch by Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship - One of my favorite food bloggers and eBook-writers is Katie- I know I can trust her recipes and research. Since I pack mostly GF/grain-free lunches for my kids, it's one of my biggest challenges in the kitchen to come up with creative lunch combos. Katie's lunchbox book is a fabulous resource and I feel inspired after reading through it to make my kids' lunches.

I have a friend with Candida, so I was more than happy to give her my copy of The Sweeter Side of Candida: Desserts for the Holidays, Special Occasions, & Everyday Sweet Treats by Paula Miller & Sarah Ives - I'm hoping it blesses her with some great ideas for sweets that her body can enjoy.

The food options are blowing me away in this bundle. From freezer cooking to a meal-planning workshop, I can't wait to dig into all the goodies in this category.

Motherhood & Marriage

Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood by Jamie @ Steady Mom - I read this book by my friend Jamie a couple of years ago and loved it. It's written in short approachable chapters that a busy mom can get through in snippets of reading time, and it really inspired me. I think it's time to go back and read it again. 

Discipleship & Discipline: Practical Parenting Help for the Desperate Mom eCourse by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae - I was really bummed to miss this webinar when it happens so I was thrilled to see it added to the bundle. I can't wait to take it and look to be as inspired as I was when I read Sarah & Sally's book Desperate

Undivided Mom: Finding Christ in the Chaos of Motherhood by Kayse @ KaysePratt.com - This book sounds like it was written just for me. I look forward to digging in to it. 

To Love, Honor and Vacuum Audio Download by Sheila @ To Love, Honor and Vacuum - I've really grown to love listening to audio of some sort while driving and cleaning and doing mundane tasks around the house, so I look forward to listening to this one.

These are just a few of the motherhood and marriage resources which look inspiring in the bundle.

Faith {for me & for kids}

How To Manage Your Mouth: A 30 Day Wholesome Talk Challenge by Connie @ Smockity Frocks - I know how powerful the tongue can be for good or for evil, so I look forward to reading this book to help me speak life to my family.

Character Badges by Caroline @ The Modest Mom Blog - I can't wait to try this system to try to train Gigi (it's designed for kids 5+) in forming habits of obedience and integrity. We're hoping to start this week!

The ABC’s for Godly Boys/The ABC’s for Godly Girls by Lindsey @ The Road To 31 - These sound like a great way to teach Bible doctrine to the kids, I'll definitely be looking into trying them out with our family.

There are numerous other resources which look to be great resources for building up our faith and training up our kids in the way of the Lord in these categories of the bundle.

Homeschooling

A Simple Homeschool Planner by Tsh @ The Art of Simple - I've really enjoyed using some of the pages from Tsh's planning book (you may remember me reviewing it at the beginning of the school year)-- they go great with my homemade planner.

The Charlotte Mason Way Explained by Dollie @ Teachers of Good Things - Classical education is our foundation for schooling but I'm excited to read this as I know there is a lot of crossover between classical and CM. 

The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight: Managing Your Days Through the Homeschool Years by Heidi @ The Busy Mom - This book is technically in the self-care category, but either way, it's one I definitely want to read. 

Self-Care

I seriously want to read every book in this category, but I'll just highlight a couple of them here.

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life by Crystal @ Money Saving Mom - Since I just read Crystal's book, I know this will be a great next step as I'm definitely looking to add more discipline to my life. 

Equipped: Because You’ve Been Made to Live On Purpose by Elisa @ More to Be - This book is already on my Kindle waiting for me, as this has been a season of learning about intentionality. I recently listend to Elisa on one of Kat's podcasts and was encouraged by her. 

Health & Wellness, Holidays & Special Events, Working from Home & Blogging, Pregnancy & Babies

There are just so many great books and resources in here! I'll just highlight a few more I'm interested in.

Healing With God’s Earthly Gifts: Natural and Herbal Remedies by Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama - This looks like it will be a great one to keep on hand for reference. 

Feast! Real Food, Reflections, and Simple Living for the Christian Year by Daniel & Haley @ Carrots for Michaelmas - I don't know a lot about the liturgical year but I think it would be great to incorporate some of Haley and her husbands traditions into our family's repertoire. 

The Minimalist Mom’s Guide to Baby’s First Year by Rachel @ The Minimalist Mom - I can remember feeling so overwhelmed with STUFF when we had our first baby, simply because I didn't know better. I think this will be a great resource that I can recommend to new mom friends along with my own story of simplifying the baby life over the years.

The Blog Planning Kit: A System to Maximize Your Blogging Efforts by Kat @ How They Blog - I use many of Kat's pages in my planner and find them super helpful. 

Blog at Home Mom: Balancing Blogging and Motherhood by Christin @ Joyful Mothering - This is fine like that I'm constantly trying walk and figure out. Looking forward to reading this book for inspiration.

You guys, there really are just SO many wonderful resources in this bundle. I'm thrilled to have them at my fingertips and I know if you buy this sale you will grow and learn from them as well. The sale ends today, Monday at 8:59 PST, so don't delay in getting yours.

Pay in May

pay in may for the bundle sale

If you don't get paid until May 1st, you will happy to learn that we know have a way to pre-order the bundle before the sale ends today, but not get charged until May 1st.

If you use these special forms (PDF or Kindle), your order will go in before the deadline, but you won't be charged until May 1st. That's when you'll receive the bundle as well. I love that the bundle creators were able to add this option at the last minute.

Bundle bonuses

I'm going to send out a newsletter today highlighting a few of the bundle bonus offers that I'm most excited about. If you haven't signed up for my newsletter, you  can do so here, which will also get you my printable calendar for praying for your community, and access to secret news and posts from me.

And don't forget, the giveaway I'm a part of ends tonight as well. Enter to win an iPad mini, an apron and an Amazon gift card today if you haven't already!

And finally, thank you so much for all your support in this bundle sale and at the launch of the my book. I appreciate your patience throughout the sale and I know that those of you who have ordered it will be blessed by its contents. Tomorrow I will be getting back to a normal blogging routine, and I even hope to share with you what that might look like moving forward.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle. 

Announcing Sewing School 101, part of the amazing Ultimate Homemaking Bundle {P.S. iPad mini giveaway, too!}

Don't miss the exciting giveaway at the bottom of this post! It very well may be my longest post ever but it will be worth the scroll! You guys! I wrote a book! I finally finished writing and designing my ebook, Sewing School 101 and I am thrilled to be able to present it to you as part of this amazing bundle going on today, April 23- Monday, April 28.

Today, I'm sharing all the details of the bundle sale today, but you can also read ALL about Sewing School 101 and see the table of contents over on its separate page. And if you're a blogger, you're welcome to join my affiliate program!

The homemaking bundle is an amazing  collection of resources (almost every item is NEW to the bundle!). I love my role as homemaker but that doesn't mean it's an easy job or that all that it entails comes naturally to me. I love how the bundle is categorized-- if I look at the themes included, I can see topics where I could definitely use some growth or encouragement in each one.

Later this week, I will reveal what my favorite items in the bundle are and also which ones I'm most looking forward to reading and using.

I also have a really exciting giveaway that I'm partnering with some of the other authors on for you-- you can enter it at the bottom of this post. 

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Take a few moments, read through what we're offering and I'm sure you'll see why this bundle is such an amazing deal. I don't promote a lot of these sorts of things but this is one I can really get behind (that's why I wanted my book to be a part of it). It's chock full of resources that will encourage and equip you in your homemaking journey, and would also make an amazing gift as well.

Get The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle--Hurry: Sale 6 Days Only!

By popular demand, 100+ homemaking bloggers are bringing back The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle, and it's better than ever!

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle is a complete library of great eBooks on homemaking—a truly valuable knowledge base you’ll use for many years to come.

Unlike a library, though, you don’t have to spend years building it up. The Ultimate Bundles team has done the hard work for you, searching the web to find the very best eBooks from top homemaking authors and combining them into one essential collection that you can buy in one simple purchase.

Act now to get the ultimate eBook collection on homemaking at a once-in-a-lifetime price.

Buy the PDF BundleBuy the Kindle Bundle

I'm confident you won’t find a more comprehensive set of homemaking resources anywhere -- and certainly not at this price. Bought separately, they’d cost a total of $698 (not including $200+ in bonuses!). But you can have all of them for just $29.97!

Or, for just an extra $10, you not only get the full set of PDF files, but also a bonus set of Kindle editions, perfectly formatted for easy Kindle reading. This has been a popular request over the years and I'm excited to say it's now available!

I believe it’s the best deal on homemaking eBooks anywhere on the web. But it will only be available for six days. So grab yours before it's gone!

You get ALL THIS in The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

This huge wealth of information and guidance will be right there on your laptop, tablet, smartphone, or Kindle, whenever you need it.

Here's what you need to know about the sale:

When? 8 a.m. EST Wednesday, April 23 until 11:59 p.m. EST Monday, April 28

What? 78 eBooks, 2 eCourses, 2 audio files, and 2 printable packs PLUS over $200 worth of bonus products you'll really use!

Where? Purchase the bundle here.

How much? Well now, that's the best part. The entire package is worth nearly $900, and it's selling for less than $30. Sweet deal, right?

Get ALL of these eBooks for 1 LOW Price! One Week Only!

What's in the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle? ($698 value!)

Homemaking

Food

Motherhood

Marriage

Faith

Faith {For Kids}

Financial Stewardship

Health & Wellness

Holidays & Special Events

Homeschooling

Pregnancy & Babies

Self-Care

Working from Home & Blogging

What are the Ultimate Homemaking Bonus Offers? ($200+ value)

bonus-imagesIn addition to all the amazing eResources, this bundle includes the best bonus offers it's ever had. These deals are worth over six times the price of the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle. So you’re up on the deal right away!

  1. DaySpring—A FREE 10-pack of Premium Greeting Cards. ($20.00 Value. Standard shipping applies.)
  2. HopeInk—$15 HopeInk store credit to be used towards anything + a FREE 8×10 Art Print with order. ($39.00 Value. Standard shipping applies.)
  3. Redeeming Beauty Mineral Makeup—3 FREE eyeshadows of your choice from Redeeming Beauty. ($16.47 Value. Standard shipping applies - only ships to US and Canada.)
  4. Marie-Madeline Studio—A $15 store credit for anything in Marie-Madeline Studio's online store. ($15.00 value. Standard shipping applies.)
  5. Once a Month Meals—A FREE One Month Pro Membership from Once a Month Meals. ($16.00 Value. No shipping required.)
  6. DizolveFREE 64-load pack of Dizolve Laundry Strips for you PLUS a Free 64-load pack of Dizolve Laundry Strips for food banks. ($25.98 value. Standard shipping [$3] applies. Only ships in the US.)
  7. TrilLight Health—Get a FREE 2 oz. bottle of a liquid health formula OR $15 store credit from Trilight Health. ($15.00 Value. Standard shipping rates apply.)
  8. ListPlanIt—Free 3-month membership OR 3 free ePlanners from ListPlanIt. ($15.00 value. No shipping required.)
  9. Bulk Herb Store—Instant download of the instructional video Making Herbs Simple Volume 2 for FREE from Bulk Herb Store. (up to a $15.00 Value. No shipping required.)
  10. Fit2B™ Studio—FREE 2-Month Online Fitness Membership at Fit2B™ Studio. (up to a $20.00 Value. No shipping required.)

Buy the PDF BundleBuy the Kindle Bundle

Remember, this bundle is available for 6 days only, from 8 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday, April 23 to 11:59 p.m. (EST) on Monday, April 28th.

And now, for the giveaway! 

A group of us thought it might be fun to give away an iPad mini-- something sleek you can read all your new eBooks on after you get the bundle (you don't have to buy it to enter, though)! The lucky winner will also get a cute apron (your choice from these fun prints) and an Amazon gift card that could go towards a case or other accessories.

Enter via the rafflecoptor below! Giveaway for those living in the US/Canada only. No purchase necessary.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stay tuned for a few more fun posts related to the bundle in the next week, and then we will be back to our normal blog posting. Next week I'm planning to open up a bit about blogging and what you can expect from me moving forward here at Gidget Goes Home.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Read the fine print about this bundle and read the answers to frequently asked questions about the bundle.

4 ways to use Pinterest secret boards

Pinterest just announced that they're giving us unlimited secret boards (thanks, Pinterest!). Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 2.58.43 PM

There are some obvious ways that we might use the secret boards-- ideas for a surprise party, gift ideas for a special person, or private pins that we don't want to reveal for one reason or another.

But there are also some less-obvious ways that I use secret boards. I shared some of these in the first edition of my newsletter, but when I read the announcement about secret boards I thought it'd be nice to write these tips up and share them in an expanded, well, pinnable format for you.

4 ways to use pinterest secret boards

 

4 Ways to make Pinterest Secret Boards work for you

1. For bookmarking things you want to keep... secret.

This sounds obvious at first, but a couple of specific ways I've done this is bookmark articles for a large project I'm working on (or may work on someday) and also bookmarking visually pleasing sites for a design palette.

When I was having Oana redesign my header and artwork, I gave her permission to view one of my secret boards (yep, you can collaborate on or share secret boards with specific people) so that she could have an idea of what kind of blog art I liked. It made it easy for her to define what I was looking for without me having to try to just explain it with words.

I also have a secret board called Save for Later where I bookmark sites/articles I want to come back to, although now that I've discovered the Chrome extension OneTab (seriously if you need to go to a Tabs Anonymous program like me, this extension will change your internet-browsing life), I'll probably phase that board out.

2. Current Eats

I love my current eats board. I have to give a shout-out to my friend Rena, who first gave me the idea for a board like this. Since I use Pinterest so much for meal planning, this board has really simplified and organized my life.

Each week when I plan out my meals, I take any recipes I'll be using and re-pin  them to my Current Eats board. I have a lot of food boards (ice cream, other sweets/snacks, recipes to try, favorites, smoothies/drinks, paleo-ish stuff, breakfast) so to have to search through all of those at 4:30pm when I'm trying to get dinner going (while also keeping my kids from complete witching-hour meltdowns) to find a recipe I pinned a few weeks before is bit of a pain.

Now, when I go to my Current Eats board I see a handful of pins that I'll be using that week, there for easy access. When I've used them, I delete them from the board (although I leave a one or two there that I use often). This doesn't delete the original pin, just the version on the secret board. At this time, I also decide if I want to re-pin the recipe to my Favorites board or totally ditch if it was a complete fail.

3. Current Projects

My latest way of using secret boards is similar to the previous idea but for projects. I have a lot of ideas collected-- on boards like Make & Do, Home Sweet Home, Sewing, and Kid-Friendly Art & Crafts that I often forget about. A new way I'm trying to intentionally try out more of the ideas I'm planning is to re-pin them here.

During the weekend, I'll sit down and browse through my own boards for a handful of ideas or projects that I want to tackle, try or implement in the next week. I'll re-pin them to my Current Projects board so that they are handy and I also write them down in a list in my planner (like I do with my meal plan) so they are visually handy even when I'm not on Pinterest.

4.  Currently: Pinterest to Real Life

My newest secret board is where I will keep track of new pins I try for Pinterest to Real Life. Each month I sit down to recap what pinspiration I've brought to real life and again, I'm a bit overwhelmed, looking through over 60 boards and over 2,000 pins, to try to remember which ones I used that month.

So now I will move them from Current Eats or Current Projects, or re-pin them from anywhere, right to my Currently: Pinterest to Real Life board, so that when I comes time to write up my post, they're all in the same place. I'll probably even make notes in the description box on how I liked the recipe or if I had a particular thought about the project that I want to remember.

Then, after I write that month's post, I'll simply delete the pins off that secret board (remember, this won't delete the original pin), and start fresh.

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Let's recap

Here are my four ideas for using Pinterest Secret Boards: for inspiration/articles to keep private, for current eats and current projects, and to keep track of pins I use in any given month.

My goal with these Current boards is make Pinterest work harder for me. It's not just a place where I find and collect pretty things. It is that, but so much more for me, too. It helps me organize and compartmentalize my very visual brain, and these secret boards help me to feel more productive in this inspiration-overload world we live in.

Well, I'm off to pin some secret pins... what about you? How do you use secret boards? I'm sure there are lots of ways that we could use them, especially now that we can create unlimited secret boards. That is, if it's not too big of a secret to tell us. ;)

Life through my lens

I've been clearing out the archives here and I found some drafted posts that never got published for one reason or another. Here is an entry that was started on January 1, 2012. A lot has changed in the last year, but these thoughts still ring true.  photographs help me linger

When I read that quote, it really resonated in my heart. I've been thinking a lot about blogging, photographing and chronicling life lately. It takes a lot of time, but the truth is that it really feeds my soul.

claire_original

 

I've always loved the image of Kirsten Dunst "clicking" an imaginary camera in the movie Elizabethtown. I do that often myself, internally processing and storing a moment in my memory. But real photos do so much more for me than just having a memory.

Shots of every day life are my favorite. (That must be why I love Instagram). Simple memories of life as it lived.

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I was listening to a podcast between my friend Tsh and another blogger, Emily Freeman. Emily was talking about how she uses photographs to inspire her blog posts and her writing instead of the other way around.

Listening to her clarified what I unknowingly was also feeling. She put it this way-- using her camera she said, "forces me to see."

That's how I feel about blogging (and photography). It helps me to process, helps me to really see my life. Maybe in another era I would have had to find another medium for this, but now, in this digital era, blogging is what does it for me. When I see my own photos on the screen, see my own words in digital "print," I get a fresh perspective on my kids, my mothering, my marriage, my life.

I get to visually re-live the good times, and that sure helps when times aren't so good.

I've noticed that when I make a point to capture life with my camera I slow down. Life starts to move at a different pace because I'm watching what's around me. I begin to live more in the present instead of the what-needs-to-be-done-next reality that I so wish to avoid.  With that in mind, I've decided to challenge myself to finding God and capturing Him through my lens.

Quote by Heather, of Life Made Lovely

Here's to 2014 being a year where I take out my big girl camera more and play around with the art of photography, in addition to snapping as many shots of life with my iPhone.

I'm sure there are other ways people do this... so I'd love to know, what gets you to really see?

{top quote from SouleMama}

{Kirsten Dunst image source}

What I'm Into: November 2013 edition + Pinterest to Real Life resurrection time

Sky's on fire for our last night at the beach. Linking up with Leigh again to share all that I've been into over the last month. There are a bunch of affiliate links in here, and I just want to take a moment to thank those of you have clicked through any of my links. Every little bit that I bring in from affiliate links is a real blessing to our family.

Read & Reading

So apparently I only finished one book this month! But have been making progress in others, so I'll cut myself some slack. But the one I did finish as a really sweet one...

Aloha RoseAloha Rose ~ I was drawn to this book right away because of its setting. Hawaii! Yes, please! The descriptions didn't disappoint and it was a lovely little literary vacation just as things were really cooling off in real life. Thanks to my mom and my mother-in-law both being avid quilters, I must say I have an affinity for a story built around lovely quilt as well. Hawaiian quilting has always intrigued me and I loved the bits of tradition and history woven into this sweet love story.

Sometimes I love Christian romance novels and other times they seem cheesy or superficial to me. This story didn't disappoint, in that while the spiritual aspect was overt, it was raw and real and we really got to see the characters grow into a more complete understanding of the gospel alongside their love story.

Aloha Rose is a well-written, entertaining read and would make a great beach companion as well as a virtual winter escape. For more information about the storyline and the series, visit the Quilts of Love website. {Thanks to Litfuse for providing this book to review.}

Currently: I keep track of these books in progress on GoodReads. Usually I'm switching back and forth between Pride and Prejudice (for the book club of course!) and the first James Potter book, but I've got some other ones underway as well.

Read-Alouds: Felicity & Samantha books, and we've also got our Christmas books out which we all love! We keep them under the tree for the season; here are a few of our favorites: The Greatest Shepherd of All, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, If You Take a Mouse to the Movies, The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving,  and the advent book we've been enjoying, Charlie & Noel.

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Watching

TV: Parenthood, Amazing Race, Emma Approved and Hart of Dixie.

Movies: Date night scheduled for Catching Fire next week! I haven't seen any other newer movies lately but I'm delighted to get back to the cheesy made-for-TV Christmas movies- I love those (call it a guilty pleasure if you will). I think my favorite one so far is 12 Dates of Christmas (you can't go wrong with Zach Morris). And of course, we've been enjoying all of our Christmas favorites-- Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, The Holiday, White Christmas, and Four Christmases to name a few (David loves to watch The Christmas Story and Elf, too.).

Listening

My Christmas 2013 playlist is my go-to dumping ground for any album I come across that I want to keep in my repertoire. It's a random mix including the Good Lovelies (who I found last year actually), Austin Stone, and a few others. I'm adding more each day to that one.

I just started listening to Kat Lee's new How They Blog podcast and I can already tell that it is fantastic. Very encouraging and inspiring for anyone who wants to grow their blog and connect with their readers.

Happy Thanksgiving from the beach! God is good!

Eating

Here's my general weekly meal rotation for dinners these days:

Monday: 1-pot meal Tuesday: Something easy like chicken sausage and veggies or a stir-fry Wednesday: Roast chicken (the only recipe I repeat just about every week) Thursday: soup in the crockpot, with leftovers available to anyone in our community group who arrives hungry Friday: seafood & veggies (or something that didn't get made earlier in the week for whatever reason) Saturday:  brinner! We usually have pancakes for breakfast and then eggs for dinner. Sunday: some kind of meat & veggies, often this is family dinner with grandparents or my brother's family

For Thanksgiving, my dad smokes a turkey (so good!) and then my mom, mother-in-law and I split the other other dishes. This year I made green bean casserole (I love the recipe on the back of the TJ's crunchy onions can) and the amazing brown butter whipped sweet potatoes from Simple Bites. YUM. It was a good meal.

Family photos in action!

Loving

  • the photos my brother took of us over Thanksgiving. Dang, I have cute kids. I'll share those soon.
  • our beloved family tradition of beach camping for Thanksgiving. God went above and beyond with the sunsets this year.
  • collaborating with some awesome ladies for the book club. I can't wait to introduce you to the moderators.
  • Christmas festivities, traditions, trimmings and treats!
  • free tickets to Cirque du Soleil- fabulous!
  • nature walks by the lagoon
  • art with friends
  • the sweet moments with my kids that get me through the really hard ones
  • sweet friends having babies

Pinterest to Real Life

I'm happy to announce that I really, really, really am going to try to resurrect this monthly tradition from Simple Homemade in January. I will try to post right around the 1st of the month recapping the previous month's successes and failures from the inspiration that was pinned. If some of you want to join me, I just bring back the linky for this, too.

What I'm Into...

Magazine readers I can't seem to stop sharing good things with you. It makes sense, because for all the years that I've been subscribing to Martha Stewart, her Good Things section has always been the most fun part of the magazine for me.

And I'm trying out another new (to me) linky, since I had so much fun with sharing what I learned in June. If I keep going with both of these memes, I suppose I'll need to differentiate them a bit, but for now, bear with me if this post seems a bit reminiscent of my last one. So without further adieu...

Read and Reading

I came to a realization last week. I'm not really in a good season for fun fiction, as I like to call it. I have this problem where I get so immersed in a book that I can't really think about anything else until I finish it. It's --ahem-- not very conducive to running a household and taking care of kids.  So, I might take a break from reading so much fun fiction. I'm in love with memoirs right now, and they read at a pace where real life seems to be within reach between chapters, which seems sorta important.

Yesterday's Tomorrow

yesterdays-tomorrowI think this last book I read was what really did me in. Yesterday's Tomorrow was intense and there was really no way I was going to drag out reading it over a period of days or weeks. With a father-in-law who served in Vietnam and an interest in journalism (I almost majored in it), I was drawn into the story basically couldn't put it down.

Author Catherine West did a wonderful job developing her characters-- they were very raw and real. Their relationship intrigued me and the complications they had to overcome surprised me. The wartime setting made the book an obvious page-turner, but it was also the characters that made me want to read more, to watch them grow and change and experience life, love and a deep sense of God's sovereignty. This may not be a relax-on-the-beach type of book but I wholeheartedly recommend it to fans of adventurous romance stories.

Vietnam, 1967. Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father’s memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother’s wishes. Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he’s hiding something. Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.

Thanks to Litfuse for the review copy.

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Currently Reading

Been working on these a while now: The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald), Desperate (Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson), Toujours Provence (Peter Mayle), Nurture by Nurture (need to pick this one back up!); recently borrowed from a friend: Cold Tangerines (Shauna Niequist); picked up at the library: Food Rules (Michael Pollan).

TV

Can't stop watching Hart of Dixie. Sad to be almost done with Season 1 because Season 2 is not on Netflix yet. Still working our way through the new Arrested Development-- I still see it as a darker version of the original, but we're enjoying it nonetheless. And of course, the Dodgers are a constant in this house. You've never really experienced baseball unless you've watched/listened to Vin Scully call a game.

The kids and I are now obsessed and in love with Olive Us (thanks, Melissa!). I can't recommend these adorable short videos enough. It has also inspired me to get back to editing our own little home videos that have been waiting patiently in the recesses of my computer for the last couple of years.

Movies

We haven't watched much of note lately, although last weekend I watched What to Expect When You're Expecting with a girlfriend and enjoyed it-- wasn't expecting (no pun intended) the sweet adoption storyline. Seeing Dennis Quaid (who I normally love) play a jerk was a bit of a shocker though. I always love movies with a million little storylines that eventually converge (is there a name for that kind of movie?).

Music

Do you ever get overwhelmed with the prospect choosing something out of pretty much all the music in the world? (I'm talking about Spotify of course.) Sometimes I just don't even know what to listen to. But lately, I can't seem to get enough of Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, and Joao Gilberto. My username is nicoleakagidget there.

Also of note, while not technically music, is a fun podcast I started listening to on our recent road trip: Spilled Milk. Just think a dude and a girl (both married to other people, both quite funny), exploring various food topics. David and I did the shared-ear-buds thing (which was very romantic until he had to turn his heads to change lanes) and listened to a few of them together on the drive.

Things I love:

~ The Honest Company. I think I'll write about this more later but if you are looking for quality disposable diapers (i.e. not chemically-laden), these are an adorable option. I'm loving everything I try from Honest so far (including their sunscreen and I'm a stickler on that one).

Hallee's Bummis

~ Bummis swimwear. I was sent this adorable swim outfit for Hallee to try out and I just love it. The velcro swim diaper is easy to get off and on and doesn't store tons of water like some other reusable swim diapers do, she actually keeps the hat on for a while and the rashie is nice and thick which I know means good sun coverage (and less sunscreen to apply!).

~ Staying with friends on road trips. Enjoying other people's hospitality and having so much quality time with friends is such a treat.

~ Seeing David with his buddies from the days of old like happened last weekend. Wish we could live closer to all the fine folks we visited.

Gigi and baby Charlotte

~ My baby nephew and my baby niece who are both equally squishy, cuddly and just plain cute. I can't wait to hold them again!! (But no, I don't want any more babies of my own). ;)

Molly and me

~ Instagram friends who become real-life friends. My brother can back me up here. Meeting the lovely Molly and her family was such a fun treat, she is a true kindred spirit!

Sparklers!

~ Sparklers!! This is a pretty novel thing to me because home fireworks are not legal where I live (fire hazard anyone?), but they are super fun, and our kids loved experiencing them (Gigi was a little unsure but warmed up a bit).

In the blogosphere

Back in the day you could "share" things on Google Reader and that was how I kept track of inspiring blog posts I found elsewhere. That's been gone quite a while and now Reader itself has gone the way of the buffalo. I'm reading blogs in Feedly now and will try to stay more up-to-date on sharing worthwhile blog posts on my Tumblr page or occasionally on Facebook.

Yesterday I had my monthly post on Simple Mom, where I shared how to make the adorable yo-yo earrings that I often get compliments on. It's a quick and easy project!

What are you into?? 

Linking up (eventually, I'm a bit early) with Hopeful Leigh.

What I'm Into at HopefulLeigh
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What creativity looks like for me... when I'm not crafting

Written by editor Nicole Bennett of Gidget Goes Home.

We've been talking about creativity this week... first I shared my goals, then Emily wrote about carving out time to be creative, even if it's just small slices of time.

I love to create and really do feel that we were designed to take part in the creation process in our own little ways. But sometimes traditional arts and crafts just aren't in the cards.

Many times, I am simply prioritizing other things during free time-- checking email, writing a blog post, reading a few pages in a book, dusting the piano, washing diapers. Leisure time (or lack thereof) and life circumstances certainly have a lot of control over when we can create.

It's funny-- I started writing this post, and then realized that my friend Andrea was doing a year-long challenge that spoke directly to what I was feeling.

Sometimes we(I) pigeon-hole ourselves into thinking that “creating” is all tied up in a perfectly styled tutorial, complete with pretty pictures and plenty of pins.  We forget that we have the opportunity, and often do in fact create every day, several times a day.  A freshly organized closet, a twist on a classic family recipe, a simple after school craft project with the kids; these are all ways that we in fact create a life and a home, and memories for our family. ~Andrea Howe, fortheloveof.net 

I love to create with my hands and my heart-- I love sewing, doing embroidery, scrapbooking and many other crafty things, but I really want to "create a life and a home and memories for our family"-- that can happen every day, whether my fabric has been unpacked or not!

So here's a short list, off the top of my head, of ways I've been finding creative moments in orthodox ways lately...

  • reading good fiction, which inspires me dream of stories and writing
  • planning new ice cream recipes inspired by other yummy treats
  • incorporating creativity into my homeschool day with my daughter
  • slowly unpacking my crafty supplies, and thinking about what I'll tackle first when my work area is ready
  • reading inspring blogs, when I have a few spare minutes at the computer
  • flipping through my stack of unread magazines and planning for future homemade gifts
  • getting inspired by how others fit creativity into their days
  • playing with my new espresso machine and savoring my creations (mmm...)
  • settling in to my new home, creating new vignettes and arranging old favorites in pleasing ways

Soon (I hope) the fabric and thread will come out of hiding. :) What do you do to feel creative when you're not crafting or DIY-ing? If Andrea's project appeals to you, join in this month on Instagram with the hashtag #52weekstocreatejan.