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Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Chow Recipe



This year for Halloween I wanted my Husband, Matt, and Son, Liam, to have Halloween themed treats throughout October. I didn't go too overboard since our Son is only 18 Months Old. So I chose two treats to make as well as two Halloween themed dinners. 

One of the treats that I chose was a Halloween Spin on Puppy Chow. I had seen it on multiple blogs as well as on Pinterest Posts so I thought it couldn't be too hard to make. I was right, it literally only takes about 10 minutes. 

Ingredients:
(1) 12oz-Bag Wilson Orange Candy Melts
(1) Box of Cinnamon Flavored Chex Cereal
(1) Cup of Powered Sugar
Cinnamon, Nutmeg, & other spices you would like to throw in
(1) Bag of the Pumpkin Candy Corns

Process:

(1) Melt your Candy Melts either using a double boiler or by using the timed defrost on your microwave. Follow the instructions on the bag of candy melts. Melt until smooth. 



(2) Put Chex Cereal in a large bowl and pour melted candy melts along with some extra cinnamon on top of Chex cereal. Mix until all Chex are coated.



(3) In a large plastic bag, add one cup of powered sugar along with extra cinnamon and the other spices that you chose. Dump your coated Chex cereal in to the bag. Zip up bag and shake until all Chex are coated.



(4) Mix in your Pumpkins and voila! You're done!!!


I decided to pack up some in baggies for Matt to hand out to some co-workers and for me to hand out to some family members and friends. I'm probably going to put a cute little Christian saying or something on the side of the bags but haven't made up my mind yet. Either way they'll love them! 

I also bought a cute little container from the Dollar Store to put ours in at home. 


Feel free to post any questions at the bottom of the page :) I hope you enjoyed my post. 

Live Gracefully with God!

Jess

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Christian Stay at Home Mommy



This past Friday night, my Husband surprised me as I walked down the stairs, after putting our 17 month old to bed, with my favorite large candle lit on the coffee table and "Moms Night Out" rented on our Apple TV all ready to go. 

I don't watch a lot of television, I mostly listen to KLove on the radio which doesn't have any Commercials, and don't really get on social media that much anymore, so I didn't really know what to expect with the movie. I know that some of my friends were excited to see it when it was in the movie theatre but had no more information than that to go on. By the title it sounded like one of those spin offs of "The Hangover" movies but of course with Women. 

As the first few minutes went by, I wasn't really sure what to think. Yes being a Stay at Home Mommy is the hardest job that I've ever done but the main character was looking a little crazy to me! Especially since she didn't have to work from home, she literally had to just watch her three Children. Not saying it's not hard because I know it can be exhausting. 

But then the next frame it was Sunday and they were in Church. I then instantly understood that this was a Christian Mommy movie. One that was long over do, one that should be just like all of the other movies and not have to be deemed a Christian movie but society is so out of hand it's crazy! But that's another post.

Overall the movie was good, it got a little out of hand and was a bit over the top for me. But one moment stuck with me, mostly because I get so much backlash about it from the majority of people in the world. She was simply describing her stolen Mini Van to the police. She described it as having a"Go Organic" sticker, a "Homeschool" sticker, and a Jesus Fish on it. That made me listen more because literally that is me up and down. 

Two years ago, I worked in the business realm. Don't get me wrong there are nice people, but behind all the smiles there is greed and people looking to gain more and more power. Hey, I was one of those people! It damaged my marriage, it damaged my relationships with Friends, and most importantly my relationship with God! But I really didn't care at the time because all I cared about was doing what was best for me. That's how we are raised nowadays! Don't be dependent on anyone or anything, you have to take care of you first! But as a Christian, I know that is 110% wrong, we need to depend on God and we need a great network around us to fall back on when we fail and we will fail! 

I now rely on my Husband to financially support our Family for the most part, yes I make a very modest sum of money to help out every month but believe me he is definitely the bread winner by far! I respect him and love him so much for this. We both decided to cut our income by half when we decided I was going to stay at home. We relied on God to provide and help us through it and he did. We would have never guessed we could actually live on the amount of money we are living on now. It was very hard to transition but God was with us every step of the way. 

Now God is growing me more than I could ever have imagined for his glory. As a stay at home mother and wife, I live by Proverbs 31. I take a submissive approach to my marriage. My Husband is the leader of our Family and makes the decision for the household, he consults me on his decisions but ultimately knows it is up to him. And I respect his decisions! That's the biggie in a Christian marriage. I know so many marriages that both spouses try to be the leader which makes them disrespect each other on a daily basis. That doesn't happen in our household anymore and our marriage is stronger than ever! I'll have a future post about this because I know many of you have questions and concerns.

I am also growing as a Christian Mother. I grew up with Barney, Nickelodeon, and Disney. I just assumed my Children would grow up the same way. It wasn't until I really dove into the bible and realized that  even positive culture doesn't always mean it aligns with the Bible. So Liam has only been exposed to a small amount of media. He wasn't allowed to watch television until a couple months ago. And if he does watch something it mostly is the cartoons that go along with his Beginner Bible. Liam now prefers to be read to, do puzzles, play pretend, and help Mommy with chores rather than indulging in television. It's just small things like this that can make a world of difference. It's things like these that are totally opposite of culture that can help a child move more towards God or away from God. It's sad that are world is like this but the bible tells us that the world is going to continue to deteriorate until the end of time. Us as Parents really need to put what is really important in perspective.

Is it more You time that you need so your Children have to be exposed to things they probably shouldn't be exposed to. Or is that large house, nice cars, jewelry, and purses worth more than you knowing 100% what your child is being taught? These are just some things to think about. I don't judge because that is not me being a Christian if I do. But I do hope that a Mommy on the border of the decision may see this post and it may help her with her decision. I also know that there are many different circumstances and I respect them all. I have a Sister that is a single Mama. She has to work to support my nephew who in turn has to go to day care. Believe me, I get it! And God does too! You all are doing what is BEST for your Child and your circumstances! And you are a great Mother for it! We are all great Mothers! 

The most important thing is to trust in The Lord in every aspect of your life. Read his word and continuously draw closer to him no matter your age or ability. Pray continuously over and over to him, from thanking him for dishes to have to be washed because that means your family had food to eat to the never ending piles of laundry you have because that means you have little feet running around playing and a husband that is working hard for your family. God is great and he will always be there for you no matter what! Just give your worries to him and he will pull you through!

Live Gracefully with God!

Love,

Jess



Monday, July 14, 2014

How I only spend $260/Month on Groceries for a Family of 3

When both my hubby and I worked I would tally our expenses at the end of the month or through the Mint application. I was astounded at the amount of money that we spent on both groceries and eating out. It kind of disgusted me that we were spending an average of $1000 on just food a month. To me that was absolutely ridiculous. 

I would then move us to a budget that we wouldn't stick with and just fell right back in to our old habits. The problem was that we weren't prioritizing health, planning, and budgeting above things like convenience and social indulging. 

When I had to leave my job in 2013 due to health complications with my pregnancy, I had to start thinking about how we could start buckling down more. Our income was cut more than in half at that time so we had to cut our bills more than in half to match it. We owned our own home so downsizing at that time wasn't an option for us due to me being on bedrest and other financial complications. I looked at our bills and tried getting them down as much as possible but again I wasn't in the right frame of mind at that point. I was in and out of the hospital, scared to death that I was going to lose my baby at any moment. 

After I had Liam and he was released out of the NICU our life started to slow down a bit. Of course the adjustment to being new parents and my Father and I's new business took most of my attention but I started prioritizing saving money and living a healthier life above everything else. It was a slow process but now over a year later, a process that I am so blessed that I started then.

Ok back to $260 in groceries a month!

This took me a year to accomplish and my hubby and I have successfully been doing this for months now. We eat healthy, rarely coupon, and are overall happy with our plan. 

I go grocery shopping the first week of the month after the first Thursday of the month. The reason is because my hubby gets paid on Thursdays and that is how I have our cash flows laid out for the month. 

Remember before starting that convenience is not your friend! Do not buy premade items or very processed items. They aren't healthy for you and you are paying in multiple ways for convenience. Aim for healthy as much as possible! Give your children fresh fruits as snacks instead of fruit snacks and alike. You can easily make your own homemade oatmeal with minimal effort or your own granola bars. 

Learn the dirty dozen and always buy them Organic! Learn about different chemicals and preservatives that are in your food and stay away from them. 

Make your own household and beauty products. Stay away from items with BPA or MSG or any of the other harmful chemicals that have been linked to birth defects and cancer. 

In a Nut Shell, do your research! God warns us to keep learning and gain as much wisdom as possible. Read Proverbs if you want to learn more about what God has planned for our lives. 

And let's start!

Step 1: Make an Excel Spreadsheet with all of your bills. Color coordinate all bills. I'm including Groceries, Gas for Cars, Diapers & Wipes, and alike. On the second tab of the spreadsheet it should be your check register for the ONE CHECKING ACCOUNT that you will use to pay all of your bills out of for the month. This will second as your cash flow. This means that every past payment should be included in the table leading up to your current balance and then at least three months of cash flows out in to the future. This will ensure that you won't run out of money. IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE CASH TO BUY IT YOU CAN'T AFFORD IT! I am anti credit cards, mostly because I fell in to the Devils lie that they are ok to use on occasion or for the rewards perks. Well they are until you start using them more and more and more and more until you a have a big hole of debt. My hubby and I are currently working on paying our debt from over a year ago on credit cards, it stinks!

Step 2: In the beginning of the month, take an hour or so and write a Month's Meal Plan. This is so much easier said than done. When I first started, I totally FAILED! I would struggle to find 31 recipes! I then got smart and started going through recipe books for us SIMPLE people like the Daniel Plan. They are healthy and easy meals. Most recipe books to me have nothing that looks appetizing but you have to do the research to figure out what works best for you. And if you know you're going to be on vacation or out a couple days that month then you don't need to meal plan those days. 

Another tip with meal planning is say you're having pulled chicken sandwiches one week. You could have a whole chicken that Sunday for dinner and then use the rest for the pulled chicken or chicken salad wraps, or a chicken sandwich. Match up your weeks so you aren't wasting food. 

Step 3: The Grocery List! Go through each recipe and write it on the back of your meal planning sheet. I cheat and only write the ingredients that I know I don't stock all of the time. For example I on average go through about 15-20 chicken breasts a month, 2 salmon fillets, 5 cups of monzarella, and 4 cups of Parmesan. These are all perishable items that I know in going to use so I make sure I tally them all up from all of the recipes. Sometimes I buy more if they're on sale and I have a little extra money in the budget to get more. My husband and I bought a deep chest freezer for this reason. It is filled to the tilt with meat and breads. After you're done tallying all alike items you can go ahead and write your list. 

Then you can include other things like milk, coffee, crackers, fresh fruit for snacks, and ice cream. I buy all of my Whole Wheat Bread for the month on that first week and freeze it, it is so easy to dethaw and tastes exactly the same. I hate freezing milk so I buy that fresh every week. Buy most of your fruit and veggies for recipes frozen, not canned! Cans have BPA!!!! 

If you're grilling then you would want fresh veggies and so on. But I'll get in to that on the next step.

Step 4: The Plan! The first week of the month you are only spending $200 at the grocery store. Mine is more realistically $160 with a couple Stoneyfield coupons and maybe a Giant store coupon threw in occasionally. 

The other three weeks you will spend only $20 a week. This is for Milk and fresh fruit and veggies that you need. Figure out per week which recipes need fresh veggies and pull those out to a separate list for that week. You don't want your veggies going bad in your fridge before you can eat them. 

Step 5: Go Grocery Shopping! I go to Giant or local vendors mostly. Giant because the self scanner tallies up everything as you go so you know how much you're spending. If you see a great sale on meats or veggies STOCK UP if it's in your budget. It usually is in mine!

And you're done!!!! Freeze your meats, veggies, and breads! And make a plan to pull out items when needed. 

If you have any addition questions please message me or leave them in the comments below!

Love you all & God Bless,

Jess 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Simplification - My New Life's Standard

A month ago I was completely happy! Now when I say completely happy it doesn't mean the same thing as having everything I want. I was greatful for what I had and for the most part I am still grateful what I do have. I was on a really good path in my opinion and very very comfortable!

If you are a Christian like myself, you know what happens when you get comfortable. God happens! God doesn't want you to be sedentary but instead continuously growing and becoming more like him. 

I often Pray for God to make my life in to the life that he wants me to live. At that time I thought where I was was exactly where he wanted me. And maybe he did at that moment...

I was volunteering at Church as a leader in a ministry, working part time from home with my Son by my side, I was being a good wife to my husband, I was reading the bible and devotions, I was in a small group for church as well as leading a separate one. My family's life seemed to be the perfect Christian life. 

As my husband and I were talking on a roadtrip the beginning of last month, my husband said to me "we often have to reflect to make sure we are doing what we are doing with a pure heart, Gods will." At first I instantly thought, I am doing everything for God, why else would I be volunteering every ounce of time I have free to the Church. But as I thought and meditated on that sentence I came to realize I had fell back in to my old habits of Pride once again. I wasn't doing any of this for God, well not first, I was doing it for me. I wanted my name in lights, I wanted to be known for my talents, and I wanted everyone looking at me as the best Christians they know. That was totally wrong of me! I had just gotten so wrapped up in everything that I totally forgot why I started doing everything in the first place.

I then decided to Pray to God for guidance and have since then. I left my Leadership post at Church and started to simplify everything in my life one by one. I want to be broken down and humbled and built back up strong with God as my guide. 

God has been laying it on my heart to live a less cluttered life for awhile. This includes financially, materially, and emotionally. Starting the second week of June I set a goal to pay off my debt, then I figured out I could hit two birds with one stone. I started selling all of our non necessity items one by one and quickly paid off one account in full as well as stuffed our emergency fund. I was on a mission! I am still working on paying off our debt but it's only been a month.

My husband had to go to Texas for a week on a business trip, for those of you who don't know my background, I live in Maryland. So Texas is pretty far away. While he was out of town I recieved another push and this time I wasn't comfortable at all. Sell your house. What! I love my house! My hubby and I have been thinking about moving about 50 minutes North of where we live to a nice small town for awhile but I was always hesitant. But for some reason I was given clarity that day that that is where we are suppose to be. People in that area have high regards for living a more morally based life from what they eat to how they live. It makes sense that I would be pulled towards that area while still in the learning phase of my new life.

So our house is for sale! And our material items are being cleared out piece by piece. We're becoming closer to being financially free and my heart is humbling. It's amazing how small steps can help lead you to bigger steps. I already make my own household products as well as eat mostly local/organic everything. I meal plan healthy meals as well as only spend $260/month on groceries. I buy used clothing/furniture/toys and so on to reuse. I'm on the right path. 

But what really surprised me is that I'm a girly girl, I like my make up! For the last week I've been going out in public with no make up. That's a biggie for me! Not only is it healthier for my skin, I am confident 100% in my own skin now to not have to wear it. It is a great feeling! 

If you're interested in learning more or have questions you can leave them in the comments below. I will hopefully be posting more items on livings simply soon in more detail.

Thanks for reading and God bless!

Jess

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Healthy Baby Home Party


This past Monday night I had the privledge of hosting a Healthy Baby Home Party for Seventh Generation. I'm not the type to really host direct sales parties, actually I have been a Mary Kay Consultant for over 4 years and haven't even had one party. That being said I do love attending home parties, but I love spending time with my girlfriends whenever I get a chance!

This party though was not a typical sales pitch party, instead it was strictly informative! Health is a very big part of my every day life. It goes hand in hand with my values and my Faith. 

The bible says:

Romans 12:1-2 helpful votes

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

I love by this verse in that you should live your life in EVERY aspect to honor God. This means gaining the knowledge needed to take care of your body the best that you can. And for fellow Mommys and Daddy's out there, this means taking care of your Childrens little bodies the best that you can also. 



Another couple of verses I love are:

In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth.
-- Genesis 1:1

All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.
-- John 1:3

This ties in both taking care of our Bodies and taking care of our Earth!

Would you go in to your Fathers Home and throw your trash everywhere and treat his hard earned things like junk. Hopefully no! Hopefully you have enough respect for your Dad that you would treat his belongings as your own. What is the difference with doing that and treating the world that our Heavenly Father has gifted us with respect!?!

One more point and we'll get back to the party!

This one isn't straight out of the bible but inside of our hearts. You know! That moment when you find the most beautiful view. It could be while at the beach as the sun goes down or your favorite little flower blooming in your garden. And you just think to yourself, "Wow that is absolutely beautiful." Whether you are a Christian or not, you have to say that in that moment it's pretty amazing. To me, I thank God for all of his brilliance in the world! Why would I want to be ignorant to the worldly ways that will ultimately cause disaster in the end. 

You also could have this moment that I have every day. I'm having it right now! Looking down at my perfect little Son playing with his toys. He is so peaceful and happy. And I have peace in myself knowing that he is living in a super positive and healthy environment. That is one view that I am thankful for every second of every day!

Ok! Back to the party!

Last night was an absolute blast! It was so nice to see so many other Women who are on the same page as me as far as protecting our Families, homes, and environment!

Introduction:
Watch Healthy Child Healthy World's "A Wake Up Story" video on www.healthybabyhomeparty.com

Sign the Petition:
Stand up for safer chemicals and make your voice heard! Using your smart phone or other device, pull up fighttoxins.com/healthybaby , and make sure to share on Facebook, email, etc! 

We played a cute game of bingo which each bingo slot came with a picture of a object and facts about that object! 
I will be posting those facts later on!

We gave out lots of samples coupons and freebies!


Overall the party was such an awesome experience. Below are some pictures from the party!

Everyone watching the Video!
Heather Shrieves (Friend), Susan Scholl (Grandmother), and Kim Dashiell (Mother) having a great time!
Patty came with his Momma Sarah to get some information!
Sarah & Patty Bailey enjoying their gift bag!
Yummy food & Bingo Cards!
Alex Adams, Hope Green, and little Declan Adams signing the petition to fight toxins!
My Son Liam & I going over all of the fun facts to everyone!!!!

I will be posting more facts as well as some reviews on some of the freebies so stay tuned!

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below!

God Bless,

Jess

Photo credit to Healthybabyhomeparty.com

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Liam's County Fair 1st Birthday Party


This year I decided to not do the traditional small 1st birthday party for my Son, Liam. One of the reasons being, we just have way too much family and friends. 

Here is what it looked like:

We had a photo booth for everyone to take family photos infront of. We also asked everyone to dress in theme.

My vintage boy and I.

Liam's pre-cake outfit that I found on Etsy!

1st year pallet that I made for my little one. 

Our food table :) we used Mason jars, fabric, and cute straws to finish the look of the party. I also only offered lemonade, sweet tea, and fruit water as drinks. We wrapped boxes in tissue paper as a form of reusing to make height to the table and chose to put the fruit in baskets like you would find at a produce market for an additional touch.

This was the main cake that my Grandmother made for us. I just like owls and we kept it brown to fit in with the theme.

We also had a smash cake that my Liam loved a little too much!!!

Our family enjoying the big day!

Games included:
- Coloring Station 
- Pony Ride (Rocking Horse)
- Can Game
- Corn Hole for the adults
- Play Area for the littler ones

We also had a table for everyone to sign and write on a large puzzle piece for Liam. I put all the pieces back in to the box and will give it back to him when he is 18 as part of his 18th Birthday Celebration.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments below!

God Bless,

Jess


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lent is Over

Good Afternoon Everyone!

As you can see it has been awhile since I last posted. Stepping back from both Facebook and Instagram for Lent definitely made me get more in to the bible and less in to social media, including my blog.

I have been unconnected since March 5th and it definitely had it's perks but there was also some times that it would had been so much easier just get on Facebook. 

Like I said above, I really grew spiritually and a lot closer to God during this time. I took a 12 week Foundations of the Bible course at my Church and this coming week is the second to last session. I have read my bible daily while even adding Proverbs to my reading plan everyday. My Prayer life and dependence on God has grown everyday. I helped make a new ministry at Church which I serve at. It uses my God given talents and skills perfectly. I have been going to small group every week and have fell in love with everyone in it. Two of whom have become two girlfriends I do everything with and they have two boys very close to the same age as Liam.

God has blessed us in so many ways just because we are giving him more of our time and more of our lives. Now that it is time to end Lent, I am a little bit nervous to get back on Facebook and Instagram. I have a lot to share with everyone but at the same time don't want it to take up a lot of my time and energy. I really need to stay focused on what really is important, and that is doing Gods will everyday in everything that I do. 

I would love to know how your Lent Fasting went. Just let me know in the comments below :)

God Bless, 

Jess

Monday, March 31, 2014

Cleaner, Greener Home: Household Toxins

Like most people that live in the United States, I grew up with a whole array of household cleaners. Windex we used for glass and mirrors, Pledge was our "dusting spray", Chlorox wipes were our kitchen clean up, and all I remember is that whatever we had for the bathroom was super strong! 

Matt and I have a wonderful and very supportive family so when we moved in to our first apartment we barely had to buy anything because our family was so excited for us that they bought us nearly everything. We received the "normal" cleaners that we were used to along with the "brand name" soaps that everyone is accustomed to nowadays. It wasn't until recently that I really have been looking at what is really in these cleaners and soaps that I has made me start to rethink my purchases. 

Here's the deal. Everything we bring in to our home releases particles in to the air. That includes you and your clothing that you are wearing! For example, when you come home from being out with someone who smokes, don't you smell the smoke on your clothes and in your hair? Well all of those chemicals that were in that cigarette just came in to your home. That's why they say if you even smell smoke do not have a baby near that area or if you smell like smoke, don't even touch a baby. Babies skin absorbs everything so much easier than adults skin and all of those chemicals are being absorbed right in that innocent baby's body. 

It's the same with everything else also. If you bring it in to your home, you are breathing it in and absorbing it in to your body. There has been study after study about people who live along water ways and how alarmingly high the cancer rates are among those people because toxins are being carried by the water and released in to the atmosphere. 

I know, I know.... Rather if you are 100 or 20, you have been using these items since you were young and you're perfectly healthy! 

But are you really? How are your allergies and your sinuses? Do you have asthma? Do you know anyone who unexplainingly has one of the million forms of cancer? Do you know someone who has had a miscarriage or lost a baby to SIDS? 

How about did you know that America has a higher pregnancy lost and infant mortality rate than most other first world countries? Did you know that we still use a lot of different chemicals in our products that are banned in most other countries who are a lot healthier than people here in the United States?

Then why do corporations allow these chemicals in their products? Why does the government? 

One answer and that is simply MONEY!

It's more costly to use healthier forms of making their products! And heaven forbid they lose profits and actually care about people's health. This is simply shown in how organic products are normally higher than their chemical pumped alternatives (but that is a different post).

It's simply stated by Jesus in the Bible when he says "the root of all evil is money." Our country, our world has come to love money more than we love each other and there lies the problem. 

Jesus lived a very simple life and never let money control him, not even for a second and yet God took care of him. Jesus wasn't just sent to earth to show God our suffering but also to show us to trust in our God. Trust what he has given us! Do your research and use that beautiful brain that God has blessed you with! Take care of your earthy body as best as you can like he commands us to! Obey his every word and he will bless you. 

Like I said before, my husband and I only live off one income. We can't afford the most luxurious organic and natural items but we also don't have to. God leads me to the information I seek to be able to live the life he wants for me while living within my means. Trust in God and you will find what you seek. Seek God and he will open so many more doors for you! 

Don't get stuck in your earthly comfort zone. Always keep moving forward to our ultimate goal which is to be more like our Savior, Jesus Christ and obey Gods commands for our life!

I hope you enjoy this series! 

God Bless,

Jess




Cleaner, Greener Home

When I was about 12, I started being exposed to a cleaner living lifestyle. I actually got this exposure by the "Green Movement" in Hollywood at the time. I was instantly drawn in and went through a phase where everything in my bedroom was white, I had a million candles everywhere, I bought yoga supplies, a yoga DVD, and some essential oils that I had no idea at the time what they were for.

I was limited to where my family would drive me to get things, so I relied on bath and body works in our local mall, who at that time had jumped on the green bandwagon and was carrying a line of eco friendly products. Little did I know but this would be the starting point to a long devoted life to doing the right thing for myself, the environment, and my future family.

As I grew older and in to my teenage years, I wasn't anywhere close to a natural living person. I, like many other 15-16 year olds, were in to one thing and one thing only, MYSELF. I had a boyfriend, a great group of friends, and just an overall great worry free life!!! I started attending college in 2007, right after I graduated high school and instantly wanted to be out on my own and I wanted my own place. There was just one problem, I didn't have the money to do so. It took me a good 2.5 years to actually be able to move out with the help of Matt, my now husband.

We moved in to a small, one bedroom apartment. It was perfect for us because we both attended college and worked within a couple blocks from where we lived. Around the same time we had also started attending our Church which was also right down the street. As many of you also can relate, we were totally broke college kids. We literally we're living off ramen noodles and spaghetti for the majority of that first year. I had a budget of $60 for food, house products, going out, literally everything for a week. 

I then started becoming more eco conscious, not for the environment but because we were too broke to pay a large heat or electric bill. We unplugged everything! If you wanted to get on the internet, you actually had to plug it in and wait forever to connect. If you wanted to heat up anything, you first had to plug in the microwave or toaster. It was like this with everything! We also froze in the winter and couldn't stand being inside in the summer. I lived off fans and blankets. 

When we bought our home in the beginning of 2011, we were making more money but still brought those same habits with us. As time went by, we were able to afford more luxury items but I still always had my eco conscious roots telling me to do things differently. 

When I was put on bedrest in 2012, things went full speed with our eco lifestyle. We were now living off one income and I was home all day going stir crazy in bed. I started putting lists together of different goals I had for our home and learned way too much about how many toxins we subject ourselves to on a regular basis. I decided then, things needed to change! 

I have since then been slowly changing over our lifestyle habits to be more healthy and green. Throughout the next couple weeks, I am going to be sharing some habits of ours as well as some do it yourself recipes for your home as well yourself.

If you would like to see any specific topics in this series, please let me know in the comment section.

Thank you for reading!

God Bless,

Jess

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another Year Wiser

This week is my 25th Birthday Week! I am a St. Pattys Day Baby which was pretty awesome when I was in college! I remember beautiful Spring Days and the warmth of just knowing that this day is all about me. I remember all of the little surprises my friends and family would have for me and everyone showering me with love. 

Well this year, I was still showered with love but it definitely wasn't anything close to the norm. Last years birthday was a big flop because I was put on bed rest right around the same time. I practically spent my birthday in the hospital and in doctors offices. So this year, I was going to get it back on track! 

It literally snowed like 6-8 inches on my birthday this year making everything shut down that I was planning on doing! Both of our cars had malfunctions, my Son was running a 102 degree temperature, I couldn't go pick up my macaroons that were replacing my birthday cake, my Mom and I couldn't go to a little small town like we planned (she even took off of work for me), and the restaurant where I was so excited for my family to visit was closed. It was like one of those days where if it could go wrong it went wrong. I was literally drowning in self pity! 

And then it happened.... You know! That wake up call that God gives you to snap you back in to reality! 

We rescheduled my family dinner to the next evening and on my way home we saw an accident had occurred about two miles from my house. When I got home, we realized that the driver had gotten shot by a police officer because he ran a police officer over with his car in an effort to not be arrested for marijuana. How precious is life, I thought to myself. 

I then heard a guy, the same exact age as myself was struck by a garbage truck and killed that same day. That accident was only one town over from me. 

And then the impossible happened. One of my friends, that I have known since high school, 4 month old had died. This was the morning after the other two accidents occurred. 

One of my best friends had contacted me to see if I knew anything but since I'm fasting from Facebook, I hadn't seen the posts about it. I contacted her to see if she was alright but it wasn't, her little angel was gone. 

How precious is life... All I could think at the moment was I can't even fathom the pain she is going through. I literally thought my heart was being ripped out at that moment. I still feel sick to my stomach from the news and haven't let go of my Son since I found out less than 24 hours ago. I've probably prayed 100 times for God to protect me from that feeling and for me to be long gone before anything happens to my Son. 

As a Mother, the worst pain I could ever feel would be losing a Child. And I have definitely been humbled since my Birthday. And I am so grateful for life! 

God is absolutely amazing in everything he does and has blessed me way more than I deserve starting with my precious boy and wonderful husband. 

The first lesson that I have learned since turning 25, only three days ago, is to not take people for granted. Stop holding off going to see someone because you think they'll always be there. Make plans and have fellowship together. Enjoy your life and give all the glory to God! We're only here for a small blip in the story of life so live it to the fullest!!!! Don't dwell in what could be or anything negative for that fact! Push yourself to be happy and fulfilled!!!

God Bless,

Jess

Monday, March 10, 2014

Gods Light on my Life

Ever since I was a young girl I have always known Jesus. I went through many trials and events in my youth and remember Praying and being comforted by Him. He was always my strength.

I didn't understand then what Jesus actually did for me nor was I from a Family who attended Church regularly. My Family did however Prayed to God, bought me bibles and bible stories, told me I was protected by God, sent me to Vacation Bible School for a week every year, and we attended Church a couple times a year. I guess that is more than a typical Family. 

As I became in to college age, I was being pulled in closer by God. He wanted me to find a Church Family. I then drug my then just boyfriend, now husband, around with me to multiple different Churches until I found the right fit for the both of us. We have now been attending our Church for 5 years and my Husband almost right away became a believer and accepted Jesus Christ in to his heart at only 19 years old, that first year we started attending.We both were baptized by full emersion on Septemer 20, 2009. 

Throughout the years I definitely haven't been close to a good Christian. There is a lot that I wish I never had done. It took me until August 2012, when I was 23 to finally hit that wall and I gave myself completely to God.

It's almost like God has a strong grip on my life. When I think about sinning, he is there, in me reminding me that I am now a Child of his. When I do sin, I ask for forgiveness. I don't like disappointing my Father! Oh but how I do sin! Not half as much as before but I do. So I counter that urge by learning and building a stronger relationship with God. I want To be as close to him as possible!

My mind fights me so much that it can become a heavy burden sometimes. God has blessed me with a very logical and knowledge seeking mind. This makes me question everything! But God always brings me to the answers. 

Just this morning I researched some main questions that have been forming for some time now and as a Christian, I was embarrassed to ask. If God is perfect, why did he let Adam, Eve, and Satan sin? Where did Cains wife come from? Why are there different nationalities and races? What happens to those who die without hearing about God? What happened to those people who died before Jesus came? 

My mind is always racing constantly! I know that Jesus's story is real and I believe in God. I have faith that everything the bible says is the truth!!! I just have questions all of the time that drive me absolutely crazy because I just want to have a moment of just bliss for being one of Gods Children!

And then I go back to the fact that God is in control! He has set up everything to happen for a reason. So my million questions I have are to serve a purpose for him! Maybe it's to help an atheist find their way to God or help my 13 year old sister seek answers she needs to be baptized! Either way, I am just here to serve my God and live my life fulfilling the purpose he has made me for.

As an FYI, I found all of the answers I was seeking for. The bible can defend itself, you just have to read it ;)

God Bless,

Jess

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lent 2014

This year Google Search says Lent is running from March 5th to April 17th. The reason I am second guessing this information is because my Catholic and Methodist friends are telling me differently. Their version actually makes more sense, running until April 19th (the day before Easter). 

I didn't grow up attending Church and only had a glimpse of traditional practices by watching others in my public School. In 2009, I devoted myself to God and started attending a local Baptist Church. I soon fell in love with my Church and became a member making me a Southern Baptist.

I still didn't understand some of our Church's practices at the time because in my head, I had let society, culture, and many different religions influence my thinking. It is now five years later and I am still learning and probably always will be. 

Even though the religion I have chosen does not push Lent, I have decided to participate this year not because of the traditional Catholic/Methodist views but very simply just to put my mind on God.

I have chosen to give up Facebook and Instagram for the reason that I simply waste too much time on both of them. It has became as if I can't grab my phone without instantly going to my social media folder. It is a bad habit if you are now doing it as an automatic response. 

Fasting also pushes my mind towards God because now when I open that folder and my FB and IG apps are not in there, I instantly think of God. It is keeping me more centered and balanced with the life that God wants me to have.

I truly believe social media isn't one of Gods favorite things for us. He'd rather us be out and about meeting and serving people. I believe he wants us to enjoy his creation, just not sit like a zombie in front of a screen all day facebooking with people you'll probably never actually hang out with or playing meaningless games to pass by the time.

I'm not saying that Social Media doesn't haven't it's perks, especially for staying in the loop in the community as well as doing business but I just think like everything else we do in America, we have abused our privileges. 

So I am giving it up, well at least for Lent and then maybe I will be able to just use it as a reference after that. I want to give all my Glory to God, not to a mindless internet. 

What are your thoughts? What are you giving up for Lent??? I would love to start a conversation!!!

God Bless,

Jess

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Snow Cream Recipe


Hi Everyone on this snow filled day!!!

I thought a little snow cream article was perfect for today's festivities!


This recipe is perfect for the entire family. Both my hubby & Son enjoyed it!


This is for 4 Cups of Snow:

4 Cups Snow
1/4 Cup Sugar 
1/4 TBSP Vanilla
1/2 Cup of Milk

Mix & Enjoy!!! Yummy!!!

Have fun!

Jess

Friday, February 21, 2014

10 Month Old Work at Home Mommy Schedule

Picture via Google

I know when I first became a new Mother, I researched for hours on end from feeding schedules to nap schedules to how much play time should you have a day. I wanted my Son to have the best! I wanted to be the PERFECT Mommy. There was just one problem with the way my life was, I still have to work at home in order for our Family to live the way we have chosen to live. 

This posed a problem because there was so much that I wanted to do for Liam. I was getting so frustrated at first because all I felt I was doing was breastfeeding all day and squeezing in work when I could. There were many nights that I would be up between 11:30pm & 1am working while Liam was asleep. I was so physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted! So when I tell my new Mommy friends that I know how they feel, I definitely mean it! The first couple of months are very hard because it is such a change in lifestyle.

So, to get to my point! I now have a "flexible" schedule that I go by. My job cannot have set hours because it is a new business venture and I'm in control of all operations, while we have two salesmen on the road getting and delivering orders. Information needs to be obtained whenever they hit a potential customer so I'm on call 24/7. So here is my Work at Home Mommy Schedule:

7:30am: Liam wakes Up - I get up & get him changed, brush teeth, put contacts in (I'm blind), and go downstairs for my coffee.
7:45am: Nursing #1 (About a half Hour)
8:15am-9:00am: We Cuddle & Play or sometimes I have to work at this time and he gets some alone play time in Mommys Office. I also usually slip in to the shower, get dressed, and do my make up in this time frame. And I make the bed! 
9:00am-10:00am: Liam get fed breakfast. I make his breakfast so it takes a little longer than just bringing out a jar. While he is finishing his finger foods part of breakfast, I do the dishes. And it is also when Liam gets his bath and gets dressed :)
10:00am: Nap #1 Time! I Rock Liam to sleep which takes 2 seconds but I hold him while I do my morning bible study and sometime catch up on articles or do this blog!
Between 10:30 & 11: I get Liam down on my bed for a nap. It varies in times depending on what skills he has been working on. It's usually until about 12pm. So I get some house cleaning done or more work done depending on the day. 
12:00pm-1:00pm: My husband calls in to FaceTime us for lunch. Nursing #2 takes place while I'm talking to him. Then we go down to the kitchen and I fix mine and Liam's Lunch to eat while still talking to Matt. We enjoy this time together as a family :)))
1:00pm-2:30pm: This is our open time during the day. We can choose to play or I give Liam some alone play time (we're working on independence with him) while I do house chores or again work. I also do my thirtyone and Mary Kay deliveries during this time or if I have errands, I run them.
2:30pm: Nap Time #2. This one is the hardest nap time and usually takes a little longer for him to go to sleep so I usually blog or Facebook. While he is asleep, I get more house items or work done. Some days he does not sleep and just gets fussy so I have to spend all my time with him, soothing him. Which can be exhausting but worth it in the end. 
3:00pm: My 13 year old sister gets here from school and I make sure she has a snack and that she gets her homework done. We usually talk about school or anything she has questions about. She likes to learn like me :))
4:00pm: Nursing #3
4:30pm: I start dinner while Liam plays with Shayna.
5:00pm: My Mom comes to pick up my Sister and I talk to her while fixing dinner.
5-6pm: Liam gets fed his dinner.
5:45pm: Matt (my husband) gets home from work.
6:00pm: We eat dinner as a Family.
6:30pm: Clean up from dinner & then have some family time.
7:30pm: Nursing #4 & Down for bed time.
8:00pm-10:00pm: Time with my Husband. We cuddle and watch our shows or we talk or we get projects done around the house. We just like spending time together.

Remember this is a basic schedule that is very flexible. Liam has play dates about twice a week and on the weekends his schedule goes out the window because we love to travel and have a lot of social appointments on the weekend. We also have church on Sunday morning which throws the schedule off. We have engagements at least two nights a week also, so that changes the schedule. For example, we are taking a Foundations of the Bible Course at Church on Wednesday nights and Liam cannot attend it with us. 

Just remember that even with a million and a half things going on all of the time, that little bundle in your arms and that handsome face that comes through the door every night come first! Make sure you're family is happy first and then the chores and the work are done second, it makes all the difference in the world. And of course always put God above all!!!

I will be posting my Chore Schedule later on so you guys can see how I do it and then make your own :)

If you have any questions or just need to vent contact me :)

God Bless,

Jess



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine's Day Infant/Toddler Craft Idea


This year, I decided to make homemade Valentine's Day Gifts for my Husband and  both sets of Grandparents. I have an almost 10 month old and I know that anything to do with his little feet or hands they were sure to love!!!

Supplies:

Red Acrylic Paint
Paint Pens (Purple, Red, & Pink)
Scrapbook Paper (Valentines Colors - I chose Green & Pink)
Valentine's Day Stickers 
A Cute Baby!

Steps:

(1) Lay out scrapbook papers and paint some of the acrylic paint on a hard surface that can be cleaned easy or thrown away.
(2) Dip left foot in paint and do as many prints as you need. Then wash left foot.
(3) Repeat with right foot. 
(4) Let Foot Prints Dry. Note: Make Sure they are V'd out to make a Heart.
(5) Decorate rest with Paint Pens & Stickers



It's that easy!!!!

God Bless,

Jess

Valentine's Day At Home Photo Shoot

Being a Stay at Home Mommy, I don't have a lot of extra funds to put towards hiring a Professional Photographer. So this year for Valentine's Day, I decided to do my own at home shoot. 


What I used:
(1) Bed Skirt (For Back Drop)
(1) Red Fuzzy Snuggie (For Main Blanket)
(1) Box (from my recent toilet paper delivery)
(3) Pillows (2 Large, & 1 Small)
(4) Custom Red & Pink Hearts (My Hubby Made them for me to hang a few years ago)
(1) LOVE Sign (I received 3 years ago at my Housewarming)
(1) Paper Sign with VDAY 2014 Written on it 
(1) Child - just in diaper
(1) Mary Kay Lipstick - Rouge
(1) IPhone Camera

I used my Sons Changing Table to drape the Bed Skirt Over and then brought it down to the floor, pulling it forward so the box could sit on it. I then placed the box on the skirt and stuffed it with two large pillows and used a small one for the back.

I then covered the box and pillows with the red Snuggie, hiding the arms. And decorated in front of the box with the decor items.

Place child in box and you are good to go! 




I used the lip stick to give him kisses on his face, chest, and belly. He didn't really like the lip stick so I didn't do too many kisses. I think it would work better on a 6 month old verses a very active 10 month old. 



I also did a few artsy pieces because he was just being so cute. Here is one more:


Just remember to not get frustrated because it takes awhile to get good shots. My Maltese wanted to be in the pictures and was driving me crazy the entire time. I eventually put him in the box with Liam but it didn't work out because both of them didn't want to be in the box together. 

I hope everyone had a great Valentines Day!!! If you have any questions, just let me know!!!

God Bless,

Jess

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Life's Distractions & Anxiety



Ever since I was young, I've always been driven to do everything as perfect as possible. I was taught to give 110% in everything I did, from school work, to dressing nice and making myself presentable, to sports, to cleaning the house. 

As I've gotten older, not much has changed. I graduated with my Bachelors Degree Cum Laude while at the same time owning my own business, paying all my own bills and supporting myself, planning a wedding, and buying a house my senior year of college. In the midst of my college years, I also had cervical cancer that I beat. Most people in my life didn't even know I had it because I didn't have time for anymore distractions! I joined Oak Ridge Baptist Church (my home church) in 2009 and joined the college ministry as well as college small group. I didn't miss many Sunday morning services and I was doing all the RIGHT STEPS. I time managed and everything had it's blocked time. 

I didn't however give time to God nor read his word. Where could I fit that in?

It wasn't until August 2012 that I broke down from not being able to get pregnant and finally let God take control of my life. My perfectionist side didn't like this one bit because I wasn't in control anymore. God drastically started changing my life, changing my plans that I had been planning for years. 

And now here I am, a totally different person. I am still driven and still a perfectionist but I have God here guiding me along and using those personality traits that he gave me to do what he wants me to do. 

I found a story in the bible that hit home with me. It's about two sisters named Martha and Mary.

Luke 10:38-42

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered,“you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I used to be Martha, keeping myself busy with things that didn't matter. Working a job that didn't really matter in the whole scheme of things. What matters is giving time to God to let him integrate himself in to everything in your life. 

I'm definitely not perfect at this. I'm still obsessed with having my house spotless! Even to the extent of exhaustion and anxiety when it's not done. I also fill my schedule with three jobs and a million and a half hobbies.

But being aware of your flaws is everything. I now spend time with God every day praying and reading the bible. I sing Christian lullabies to my son and I write this blog that hopefully will influence and help at least one person. I spend more time with my husband and son, I make sure I play with Liam the majority of my day and I write my blog while I rock him and he naps. 

It makes for such a happier person and it is good for your soul. God feeds your soul and without him it's hard to be whole and to just let go. 

My prayer for you today, is to just give control of your life to God and step back and breathe. Be happy and love simply through Jesus Christ.

God Bless,

Jess


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Quick Healthy Breakfast for Your Bundle of Joy

Nowadays everyone wants what is most convenient. It's a fact that American lifestyles are busier now than ever before. Unfortunately convenience comes at a price, mostly to our health and our wallet. But there is GOOD news! A little preparation can go a long way!

I have raised Liam, my 9 month old son, the least convenient way possible. But I am learning to prep more which makes my life a little more easier. I have chose to breastfeed him and make all of his meals myself. If you breastfeed, you know that some days can just be a day of breastfeeding. Which makes it a job on it's own, but today I am going to share with you an easy oatmeal breakfast that is not only healthy but tasty. Your little ones are sure to love it!

What you will need:
(1) bag of organic oats
(1) bag organic apples & Cinnamon
(1) pint of organic yogurt
Blender

(if you can't splurge on organic than non organic fresh items are always going to be better than prepackaged anything)

In your blender, blend all the oats until they are a fine powder. 
NOTE: I do this as soon as I come home from the grocery store and store them in a BPA Free Plastic Container. You can use this also in a Green Smoothie for yourself or as a thickener to other pureed fruits and veggies for you little one.

Next, using an apple slicer. Slice all the apples and throw away the cores. I don't peel my apples because Liam can handle the skins but if you have a little one that's around 6 month and is just starting out eating solids, you may want to peel them first.

I then boil or steam (steaming is healthier) the apples until they are nice and tender. I then add them to the blender (or baby bullet if you have one). 

Puree until the thickness you desire. If you need to add water, add the water from the pot you used to steam or boil the apples because nutrients from the apples are now in that water. 

Add Cinnamon & blend together with the apples and you have homemade apple sauce!!! It will last 3 days in the fridge or for a month in a regular freezer. I put mine in ice cube trays or use the silicone tray that comes with the baby bullet and freeze them in to serving size pieces. I then pop them out once frozen and label them on a bag "apple sauce" and throw them all in a freezer safe zip lock bag. This way you can just pull them out and dethaw them in the fridge when needed.

I actually do the above step for everything I make. In this example I used a little container that I froze and dethawed in the fridge. 

I do both my apples and my oats as soon as I buy them from the grocery store. I usually grocery shop and prep on a Sunday. I actually do all of my grocery shopping for a month at one time, but that will be another post on it's own.

After you have your serving size of apple sauce and your oats blended. Every morning I just reach for my oats, a serving size of apple sauce, and my organic yogurt.

I add the oats first, then yogurt, and then the apple sauce and mix until I get the texture I want which is a little more chunkier now then when Liam was 6-7 months. 


And voila! You have a nice healthy breakfast in one minute flat each morning.

You don't have to use apples, you can mix it up with other fruits like bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and so on. 

If you have any questions, please contact me at anytime. 

God Bless,

Jess