Monday, February 28, 2011

What We Were Up To This Weekend...

This weekend I got to spend a whole lot of time with my Mr (read: handsome hubby) working on this:


Isn't she a beauty?!

It all started last Christmas when my Mr and I had been shopping for the perfect wooden kitchen for the littles with three things in mind: affordability (read: It's gotta be cheep!), design, and durability. We really liked these (among others)...

Reto Kitchen  (158.00) from KidsKraft

Retro Complete Kitchen ($249) from Company Kids 

...however we weren't too crazy about the price-tags that came with the ready made kitchens that we liked and I was pretty attached to having some counter space (you know for things like mixing, chopping, and preparing food...etc) we decided to make our own! How EXCITING!

We were completely inspired/blown away by some of these homemade kitchens...

Erin over at Ink Tree Press made this beauty. See how she did it here.

This big guy was made by Amy over at Giggleberry Creations from an old entertainment center! See how here.

And I just can't get over this little ditty made by Becca over at Bug Bites Play Food from a little footed nightstand! See how she did it here. I just think this is beyond ADORABLE! (I think I would have done something like this if I wasn't so darned attached to having counter space)

After pouring over hundreds of pictures of play-kitchens we began designing exactly what we wanted. We formatted our dream play kitchen on a program called Google SketchUp which we just plugged our measurements right into. Download it for FREE here.

With our design and measurements in hand we took a trip to home depot to purchase our wood. We spent about $35.00 and got one huge sheet of plywood (4'x8'), two 4''x1'' planks, two 2"x1" planks, and one 2"x2" plank.

We also bought all of the little accessories (knobs, oven handle, and dowel rod) as well as paint, sandpaper, bolts, screws, hinges, nails, etc...

I didn't know I'd be blogging about this later so I didn't take all of the step by step pics : ( Sorry to let you down folks.

This is what the kitchen has looked like since Christmas and we hadn't worked on it since until this weekend (we haven't been busy or anything).

(I promise I'll add these pics tonight soon!)

So this weekend we painted it and made and hung curtains! Now the only thing left to finish are the burners and knobs for the stove! We're almost there!

It was such a gift to create this project with my Mr and I had such a great time putting it all together. It was almost like a date (well...with the not quite...). I think the reason it was so special and unifying to build this toy together (besides the absolutely exhilarating feeling of using power-tools side-by-side) was because it is the first "handy" project that we have been completely united in and have created/worked on together from thought/design/dream to completion (well almost completion). So...maybe we will be able to build our dream-home together never know.

....I know you're all dying to know how much this pretty little plaything cost I'll tell you. Our total cost for this project was right around $75.00!!!  That is approximately HALF the cost of anything we found while shopping!

So go grab your hubby and take a trip to Home Depot...where dreams can come true.

Oh! And do you want to see some of the kitchen accessories that we thrifted? Well I can't wait to show you!...But you'll have to wait for another day for all of that.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Meet the Littles...

My Mr. and I have had three lively and delightful babies in three years. We call them the "littles". Let me take this opportunity to introduce them to you.

My "nearly-three" (a boy) is now potty-trained, knows most of the letter "sounds" (on his way to reading), loves to doodle, color, sing, build, make pillow/blanket forts and play outside. He leads us in our mealtime prayers, is extremely imaginative, and has a beautiful and compassionate heart...he is also a frequent visitor to the time-out chair for reasons I won't go into here...ahem.

My "nearly two" (also a boy) is almost potty trained (we just bought him "big boy underwear" last weekend! I am pretty excited to have only one child in diapers!), speaks in 3 and 4 word sentences, and is our resident dancer. If there is music or any sort of beat he will drop whatever he is doing and dance. He enjoys playing with play-do, blocks, duplos, bubbles, and LOVES to play with the play kitchen and to run around outside. He has recently learned the word "chalice" and points it out several times each time we go to mass. He is very sensitive and affectionate...our little cuddle-bug.

My "9.5" month old (a girl) has been standing solo for 2 weeks but no first step quite yet (she's now in the competition with my "nearly three" for youngest walker and has to beat his record of 10 mo.). She just got through three painful weeks of teething  FOUR new pearly whites. We can see she is quite relieved now that they're finally out (as are we). She loves to play with her big brothers and get in on the action all around her. She also loves to eat (go figure) and to play with tiny stuffed animals and dolls (her favorites are "lulu" the purple lamb and "bear bear"). She is happy, very sensitive, loves to be held, and laughs a lot. She is also quite hyper at times.

These wonderful individuals are the hearers of my hearts melody and know first hand that it is not always harmonious. In fact, sometimes it’s just plain awful! But many times it is the motivation to love these babes that encourages and motivates me to pick myself back up and to create a harmony more beautiful then before.

Have a great weekend everyone! I'm off to tickle some littles...

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Most Beautiful, Beautiful...

Over the past two weeks my "nearly three" (our first-born little) has been using the word "beautiful" a whole lot. He will use this word to describe his crayons, toy cars, block towers, play-do creations, and on, and on.

After a few days of running around the house in loose T-shirts and sweats (don't send Stacy & Clint over here...I'm ok. Really.) I decided to put on a skirt and a little make-up for my Mr. When I came out of the bathroom my little guy stopped what he was doing and said "mommy, you look beautiful!" My heart melted.

Shortly thereafter, my husband went out of town for a couple of days and my "nearly-three" began using the phrase "the most beautiful, beautiful.....". Precious.

I had gone to the dollar store, the movie store, and the grocery store the day before my Mr. left and had picked up some cheap toys and books, some fun movies, and some yummy junk-food (I will readily admit that the junk food was mostly for myself...ahem...) for each day that my Mr. was away and tucked them away in a "treasure bag" to be pulled out every time I got too frazzled to cope for another second a few each day.

Each time I would pull something out of the bag my nearly-three would exclaim in all seriousness, "Mommy! This is the most beautiful, beautiful present I have ever got!!!" or "Mommy! This is the most beautiful, beautiful, movie I have ever seen!!!" or "Mommy! This is the most beautiful, beautiful cookie I ever tasted!!!" and similar other "beautiful, beautiful..." phrases all weekend. It was as if he'd never seen or experienced these little treasures before. Each time he used this phrase I couldn't help but throw my head back and laugh with complete delight in my child. It felt so good and brought such joy to my heart.

I share this story with you, not because there is anything out of the ordinary, or anything cuter here than you've heard come from your own childs mouth, but because when I pondered these events later, this thought came to much more does Our Father in heaven delight in US His little children. Do our words touch His heart and make Him throw his head back in delighted laughter? I think yes. You (yes you) and I are His beautiful, beautiful children...(shall I assume you're all women reading this? I think I will)...we are daughters of the King! And what we do and say, no matter how insignificant it may seem, matters to Him. So no matter what your days may bring, no matter how frazzled, insignificant, tired, little, sinful, hidden, unappreciated or lost you may feel, remember that you are a daughter first and that your daddy cares and thinks YOU are the most beautiful, beautiful. He will help you through it all. "Who" you are brings joy to His heart.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:14-21

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

You know it’s going to be a splendid day when you wake up and are greeted by a note like this on your bathroom mirror.

(Oh...and please ignore all the disgusting toothpaste splotches on my mirror)

 I love my Mr.

Have a fantastic day all!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Best of Boots!

Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat ' or 'What will we drink ' or 'What will we wear for clothing ' ... for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

Matthew 6:31-32

Today was a great day! I ran around town doing all sorts of crazy errands that needed to get done...phew!

While I was out and about I decided to take a peek in at our local Goodwill and see what was new.

Have I told you yet how much I LOVE to shop at thrift stores? It is so exhilarating! I never know exactly what is going to be there or if something is waiting patiently on the shelf just for me. The possibilities are endless!

My two favorite people to go thrifting with are my Mr. and my little sister Jeanne. We just have WAY too much fun. (I will add, lest you wonder/worry, that I have a VERY strict budget for such places and am in no danger of becoming a "hoarder"... I even have a thrift store "philosophy" which I may share in a later post...perhaps).

I think that the main reason I love these stores so much is that many times I will find exactly what I need (clothing for the littles, maternity clothes, coats, shoes, home items, ect) for a fraction of what it would cost to buy them new at the mall or any other store. Shopping at second-hand stores makes me feel like I am using our money wisely and enables my Mr. and I to provide for our families "needs" and even a couple of "wants" here and there.

When your budget is very tight (as ours most definitely is) it is very difficult to think of yourself and you very rarely allow yourself to purchase anything that you don't absolutely "need". I know that's how I get anyway and sometimes counting every little penny, all the time, and denying yourself EVERY "want" can make you go a little crazy. I think that allowing yourself to "splurge" a little for something you "want" every once in awhile is completely acceptable as long as it doesn't mean your family has to go without something they "need". I'm lucky my Mr. agrees ; ) For me there is a sense of freedom in having the ability to buy something I simply "want" for my Mr., my littles, or myself...every now and then.

Well today I found two terrific treasures (for me). You will not believe me when I tell you so I'm just going to show you.

I'm super excited about these because white boots can be worn all Spring and Summer!

...and these black beauties zip all the way up the back! Fun!

I know! God must really love me! I mean REALLY love me.

Find your delight in the LORD who will give you your heart's desire.Commit your way to the LORD; trust that God will act. 
Psalm 37:4-5

God has certainly acted! These boots are H.O.T.! Just what I wanted. They are both made of pure, genuine, marvelous, leather (drool), are made in Brazil (almost anywhere is better than China right?), and are just. my. size. (!!!!!!!)

I'd been scouring the internet for boots similar to these but couldn't afford (or justify) spending the $50+ that it would cost for the knock off brands that would only last 6-9 months and anything leather...psh...well that was completely out of the question.

My boots are very similar to these...

Lanvin Knee-High Leather Boots (these beauties cost over a grand!)
Sierra Leather Boots - Kate Spade
and these...

Black Leather Mina Flat Boots - Ann Taylor

Corso Como Dame - Racheal Zoe

...which would have cost $$$$.

So do you want to know how much I paid for my leather lovelies? I know you do.

My total cost for two, amazing, nearly new, pairs of leather boots was only $11.98!

Yes folks, fashion is at you fingertips and it can even be AFFORDABLE! What a concept!

Happy Shopping!

I am always eager to admire fab finds from afar. I'd love to see what kinds of deals you come across. Do share!

For I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be. I know now how to live when things are difficult and I know how to live when things are prosperous. In general and in particular I have learned the secret of eating well or going hungry of facing either plenty or poverty. I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me.
 Philippians 4:11-13

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Praying the Rosary with the Littles - Part I

Do you ever feel like you need a little inspiration/conviction (read: kick in the pants) when it comes to praying with your littles? I know I do. Though it is beautiful and rewarding it also requires a LOT of dedication/patience. I recently came across these beautiful quotes and thought I'd share them with you.

"Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God." Catechism of the Catholic Church #2226

"By reason of their dignity and mission, Christian parents have the specific responsibility of educating their children in prayer, introducing them to gradual discovery of the mystery of God and to personal dialogue with Him: 'It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by grace and the office of the sacrament of Matrimony, that from the earliest years children should be taught, according to the faith received in Baptism, to have a knowledge of God, to worship Him and to love their religion.'" Familiaris Consortio

"The concrete example and living witness of parents is fundamental and irreplaceable in educating their children to pray. Only by praying together with their children can a father and mother - exercising their royal priesthood - penetrate the innermost depths of their children's hearts and leave an impression that the future events in their lives will not be able to efface. Let us again listen to the appeal made by Paul VI to parents: 'Mothers, do you teach your children the Christian prayers? Do you encourage them when they are sick to think of Christ suffering, to invoke the aid of the Blessed Virgin and the saints? Do you say the family rosary together? And you, fathers, do you pray with your children, with the whole domestic community, at least sometimes? Your example of honesty in thought and action, joined to some common prayer, is a lesson for life, an act of worship of singular value. In this way you bring peace to your homes. Pax huic Domui. Remember, it is thus that you build up the church.'" Familiaris Consortio #60

Wow! Inspiring! Convicting! From the "earliest years"? Really? What an awesome responsibility!

I don't know about your house but at our house it has been a challenge to get our children to sit still long enough to pray a rosary decade of the rosary as a family. Our two "older" children (3 y.o. and 2 y.o.) actually enjoy praying (especially when our prayers are sung or a candle is lit). They pray very nicely before meals and at bed time (and our 9 mo. old will even join in by folding her little hands. Precious.)  but for some reason the 5 minutes it takes to pray a decade is WAY too much to ask of them. Now I know that some of you may think I'm overly ambitious to expect my two energetic boys to sit still long enough to pray one hail Mary let alone TEN! I was almost beginning to think the same thing when I came across this remarkable idea through a friends' post on face book.

A mother writes about using "counters" rather than rosary beads so that the littles have something to "do" with their hands but don't lose their place. (I know! Novel indeed!). Even better, the "counters" she uses are little roses! The idea is that as the littles pray they are arranging a bouquet of roses for their heavenly Queen!

This idea appeals to me on so many different levels but especially because I remember that when I prayed the rosary with my family as a very small child I would ponder this thought...that each hail Mary was a gift, a rose for Our Lady.

This wise woman also uses individual prayer cards rather than books so that the littles can focus/meditate on the mystery being prayed rather than looking through the entire book during the first mystery and then becoming bored. Putting this into practice has been truly revolutionary for my littles.

Her ideas were too wonderful to keep to myself at the time (that was last Oct.) and I'd like to share them again with you today (lucky you!). Here is the link to her blog post where you can read about her ideas in detail as well as find links to her crochet rose pattern and printable prayer cards:

Pondered in my Heart - Cards and Counters


As soon as I'd finished reading this I sat down strait away and began making little roses for Our Lady (I did not make the crocheted roses from this post but sewed some from red and white fabric - see part II of this post for directions on how you too can make them!). These ideas have truly made the difference in our home and the littles are so excited to make bouquets of roses for Mama Mary.

Our Sacred Space and Fabric Flowers

NOTE: At this time we TRY to pray a decade each day and instead of having the boys sit still with their baskets on their laps or right in front of them on the floor, I have them take turns walking from their chairs all the way across the room to the basket which is stationed on our sacred space/table. This helps immensely in keeping them interested and occupied with the task of taking flowers to Our Lady and distracts them from wanting to get up and move around every other second.

I like to say "a decade a day keeps sin/vise at bay".

Pax huic Domui.

So were you inspired? How do you get your littles to participate during' family prayer time? What prayers do you pray with them during the day?/At night? I'm always seeking new inspiration, however simple.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Laundry Day

Each Thursday and Saturday are laundry days at our house. Today is Thursday...I generally dread this day but today I am inspired to take on the task and to do it with joy.

The day started out as usual. breakfast, prayer, etc...then I faced "the giant"...literally the giant pile of laundry (8 loads!) in my hallway. Daunting. I separated all of the laundry and went (mentally griping all the way) to the laundry room closet to start the first load...when who did I see peering out from between the hanging coats but Our Lady herself! Here's a picture to prove it.

It is amazing how an image can change your entire outlook. I see this image every time I open the laundry closet door but today it touched me in a new way.

I sometimes have a hard time relating to Our Lady because...well because she's PERFECT! AND she has ONE child who also happens to be PERFECT! But today it hit me...Mary had a LOT of work to do that because of modern conveniences I do not have. I mean I stress over eight loads of laundry but in order to wash her family's clothes she had to work HARD...ALL DAY...hunched over a bucket or stream...scrubbing with her bare hands...knowing she still had dinner to prepare (no fast/frozen food back then ladies and gents) and despite all of this she did not have a thought of complaint but instead said "Fiat", "let it be done to me according to Your Word". What a woman! I want to be more like her!

So today I am just grateful. I guess eight loads in my automatic washer and electric dryer aren't as bad as I thought...after all. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Tonight we're having green chili cheese burgers and these delicious and nutritious sweet potato fries. My family (including my picky eater) can't seem to get ENOUGH of these!

Sweet potatoes have to be one of the most nutrient packed veggies on the planet! They are choc full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more! Check out this link for all of the wholesome goodness in just 1 cup of sweet potatoes:  Who knew right?!
Not only are sweet potatoes better for you than regular potatoes but baked food is significantly healthier for you than fried food.
If you've never made these before then please give 'em a try! I promise your life will never be the same!

Here's what you'll need:
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Sharp Cutting Knife
  • Potato Peeler (Unless you prefer fries with skins on)
  • 1/4 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (E.V.O.O.)
  • 2-3 Sweet Potatoes (approx. 1.5 lbs)
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt (NOTE: You can also try adding other/additional seasonings to spice things up a bit!                 A couple  ideas are cinnamon/chipotle and  rosemary/parmasain (can I say YUM?!) or just                   add a  bit of paprika along with the salt...and if you'd really like to heat things up try adding               some cyanne to the mix!)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 (400 for high altitudes).
  2. Wash and peel potatoes.
  3. Cut sweet potatoes in to strips that are approx. 1/2 inch on each side.
  4. Place potato strips on cookie sheet and pour E.V.O.O. over top of them. 
  5. Add sea salt (and/or seasonings of your choice) and toss all of the ingredients until potatoes are evenly coated (I use my hands but a metal spatula works just as well. Also, you may prefer to shake your ingredients together in a zip-lock bag...this is something fun that littles can help with).
  6. Spread potatoes strips in a single layer on the cookie sheet.
  7. Place cookie sheet on the center oven rack and bake for (approx) 30 minutes (or until golden brown and crispy), turning every 8-10 minutes.
  8.  Enjoy! 

* Serves 4-6 

Step #3
Step #6


My little helper
...and for dessert...mmm!

Be sure to let me know how you like 'em!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Little More About Me

1. I love food. Health food, junk food, and in-between food.

2. I’m sometimes shy in big groups of people and prefer to talk one on one or in a small group. However, I love to be in charge of big groups of people and usually am pretty good at it.

3. I adore sports! I especially love to play football…alas…I didn’t make the pros so I  usually settle for a good Monday night Packers game. (you probably don’t think I’m serious but I am…well not about joining the pros)

4. I like to keep my toenails freshly painted all year round.

5. I am really tender-hearted (which is a nice way of saying "I cry at car commercials")

6. I used to have super blonde, curly hair when I was a little girl and now it’s dark, long, and still quite curly.

7. I'm terrified of sharks.

8.  I’ve always wanted to be a mother.

9. I am crazy for color…although you might not know it by looking through my wardrobe which is mostly earth tones. I am not crazy however about the color purple

10. I LOVE to wear heels.

11. I am a Catholic. Always have been. Always will be.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Reason Behind the Title

When I was a very little girl, maybe 8 or 9, I saw a movie called Rigoletto. While watching it I became completely enchanted by the lyrics to one of the songs...I have yet to find the name of that song but I can remember every word…

Music boxes have within,
melodies they carry with them,
once they open music fills the air.

Every person you have known,
has a song of their own,
once they open up you'll hear what’s there.

It's not easy you must listen
with your heart for what lies hidden.

There was a melody, locked deep inside of me but now its free,
it found a place embraced by harmony, sweet harmony,

Love more than anything,
Teaches our hearts to sing,
Only love, could break the spell,
now I know, very well,
the love within myself.

This song touched my heart and encouraged me to look for what is unique and beautiful within each person. It’s lesson has shaped me as a wife and mother and has challenged me to make my home a place filled with love, a place that not only allows but encourages  each person in my family to be fully who they were created to be, a “place embraced by harmony”.

 "And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."Colossians 3:14