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Month: June 2015

DIY Bubbles

DIY Bubbles

bubblesdiy

How fun are bubbles? I love setting a bowl of bubbles out on the porch and letting the kids play with them. It can usually last for a good half hour before the bowl gets spilled and someone ends up covered in bubbles.  Bubbles are way too expensive (at least here) to have them being spilled every time we use them. So we decided to just start making our own. WAY cheaper and they actually work better than a lot of the store bought ones. We use pipe cleaners as our bubble wands which work pretty well, too!

Bubbles

Mix 1 cup warm water with 1/2 cup sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add 1/2 cup Dawn dish soap. We used the orange kind this time which works well but everything I read says blue works better. 

P.S. Don’t shake it up to combine the soap with the sugary water…it leaves a top layer of bubbles that don’t go down for a LONG time! (You can see that in the photo above).

Let me know if you try it. Do you have any DIY bubbles tips? Share them with me!

Still haven’t voted for your favorite birthday cake? 3 days left to vote! Vote now!

Banana Bread Pancakes

Banana Bread Pancakes

pancakes

Anyone else craving pancakes? We have been experimenting with egg free pancake recipes for a while now. I made these last week and they truly taste like banana bread. We used honey instead of syrup, too. Mmmmmm. The kids ate these faster than I could cook them. Even Pepper was gobbling them up. Here’s our recipe!

 Banana Bread Pancakes (yields 12 mini pancakes)

  • 1/8 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cup water (could be water or milk or 3/4 of each)
  • 1 cup flour (we used gluten free)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (more or less to your liking…we like things sweet!)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 large banana (about 1 cup mashed)

Let me know if you try them! Any suggestions to add to my recipe? Share them with me! Have you voted for your favorite birthday cake yet? One week left! Vote now!

Because He First Loved Me

Because He First Loved Me

I remember as a child we used to always sing in the car. One song that I remember the most is my mom or dad would sing, “oh Sandy, do you love Jesus?” I would reply, “Oh yes I love Jesus.” They’d sing, “Tell me why you love Jesus.” And I’d answer, “Because He first loved me.”

calvary blog post

I grew up knowing that God loves me. I grew up knowing that He died on the cross for me and because of this I am to love Him, too. I am so thankful to have been taught the Bible at a young age. But sometimes, when you never know what it is like to not have something, you don’t realize what you do have. There are wonderful Bible verses like, “But commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 10:9) This verse is so powerful stating that God loved me when I was against Him! I was His enemy and yet He died for me! But I can’t tell you how many times I have just skimmed over this verse. I already have it memorized so I don’t need to pay attention to it when I read it. And because we skim over it we miss out on the truth of that verse- that God first loved me. He doesn’t demand a love in return. He did this for us before we loved Him.

When you come to the realization that you are doomed for hell because of your sin it should bring awful grief and heartbreak.  I always teach my Sunday School class that as a sinner, I had a problem. I had sinned against God. My sin isn’t allowed in heaven. My sins would keep me from ever entering heaven. That’s the problem. But God, seeing my problem, offered a solution. He gave His Son to die and take on my sin. He would take away my sin! So, I have my sin as the problem and Christ as the solution. When I learn what God has done for me, that’s where that love begins. Then I need to make a decision: Take God’s free gift, believe in His Son and what He has done for me. Or continue on with my sin. When I accepted God’s gift of salvation- I remember that moment- I felt that deep, amazing love for God.

Now, 14 years later, why do I not feel that same amazing love for God that I felt that night at camp? Has God’s love changed? Of course not. Like the church of Ephesus, I have left my first love. I stopped dwelling on how amazing God is and on the love He showed for me when He gave me salvation. That’s my fault. I can’t say that it’s because I have a home now that I need to keep clean, or kids that take up so much of my attention. I can’t blame it on my being too busy in church ministries or facebook or anything else.

God’s command in Deuteronomy hasn’t changed: And thou shalt Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Deuteronomy 6:5. 

Consider now what you can do or change in your life in order to put God first again. How can you be dwelling on God and His love more? What will cause you to feel for God that love you felt when you accepted His great gift of salvation?

Do’s and Don’ts of Running a 5k

Do’s and Don’ts of Running a 5k

I made some goals for this summer. One of them was to run a 5k. I am NOT a runner. I am horribly slow and I get winded easily. But those are sort of the reasons why I run now. Anyway, I decided to sign up for the Midnight Sun Fun Run this year. It is to celebrate our first day of 24 hour daylight. After participating in my first 5k, I thought I’d share what I have learned.

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DO carb up before the race. Carbs take longer for your body to digest, therefore giving you energy longer.

carbo load

DO NOT eat a bowl of alfredo minutes before the race. This just ends in disaster…disgusting disaster.

alfredo

DO bring your dog. It’s always fun to run with your pup.

DO NOT let your dog pee on your friend’s bag. I stopped mine just in time 🙂

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DO find a friend to run with. It’ great to have someone who can help push you along.

DO NOT talk the whole time. Apparently this can be annoying when your friend is trying to focus on the race. (Sorry, Kate!)

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DO be a good cheerleader! Everyone loves a bit of encouragement!

DO NOT yell “keep running” to that old man on the sidewalk. I don’t think he was part of the race.

hedghog

DO finish strong. Keep running right to the end!

DO NOT run around and point people’s faces yelling, “You lost!” Or in my son, William’s words: “I won you! I won you!”beat you

I encourage anyone to take part in a 5k. Even if you don’t run, walk! And don’t forget to go vote for your favorite cake at the Birthday Cake Battle!

My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things

What a beautiful time of year! The Arctic is truly beautiful anytime of the year but right now is the best time to be outside and enjoying the beauty! It is breezy, so the massive mosquitoes aren’t too bad. It’s sunny (24 hours right now!) so my mood is good. It’s dry so muddy footprints aren’t being painted all over my floor. I really love Inuvik summers 🙂

And while I am in this good mood I thought I’d share my Favorite Things list that I have been putting together for a couple of weeks. This isn’t meant to be some sort of ad for anyone but rather just a chance for me to share things that I love so that maybe some one else can enjoy them, too. So here they are in no particular order.

favorite things post

1. My Bible

I was so hesitant to put this on my list. It can’t be compared to anything else on my list. It is not just a favorite item. It is my most needed item. It is God’s Living Word and is not merely just a good thing to own. And at the same time, it is my favorite thing I own and should be on my favorites list. And I really believe everyone who reads it can be changed.

2. Water Bottle

You need to have a nice water bottle. You just do. If you don’t you will not drink nearly as much water as if you had one. I own a pretty pink Nalgene water bottle. It shows how much water it holds so I know how much I drink in a day. 

3. Magic Bullet

5 years ago, almost exactly, Shane and I stayed up way too late. We were watching those infomercials where if you “call right now you can get the second one for free!” Guess what, we called! I thought we were crazy and actually was a little embarrassed about owning a Magic Bullet for quite some time. But over the years it has become my favorite and most used kitchen appliance. We use it to make milkshakes on occasion, and I used to use it for chicken salad all the time. Then William was born and I used it to make his baby food. I used it to make Jenn and Pepper’s baby food, too. Now I use it for my smoothies at least 4 mornings a week. That poor little thing is slowly tuckering out (which is actually very sad). Good thing we called right away and got a second one, though 😉 I alternate mornings with them so they are lasting a little longer. Several times I thought that would be its last smoothie but then they keep going. I love my Magic Bullet.

4. Guitar

This had to be an obvious one. Of course my guitar has to be one of my favorite things. Me and that guitar have been through a lot together. We have played in 3 different nursing homes, at least 4 different churches, 2 summers at camp, 2 different countries, around countless bonfires and with the most talented ladies I know. With my guitar I enter before God’s throne with His praises and before long my songs turn to prayers to Him. 

5. Weights

Like I mentioned in a different post, weights really make a workout more fun. I was on the lookout for some for a while. Because they can be expensive I was searching every yard sale. Then Shane’s dad gave me his old ones so I got them for free! The ones I have you can add discs to make it heavier as you make progress. I really suggest that kind.

6. White Vinegar

This stuff is amazing. I use it to clean my sinks, bathroom, and Kuerig. But, I use it most often with the cloth diapers. If it weren’t for that white vinegar they would always smell like wet dog, even right after being washed. And then of course a splash of white vinegar makes my sloppy joes amazing. So so many uses for white vinegar. 

7. Perfume

Not just any perfume. My sister bought me perfume and I got it days before going into labor with Pepper. It has since been my favorite perfume, EVER. Of course, because my sister got it for me makes me want to wear it. But also, because it smells amazing I wear it all the time. It is Eau So Sexy from Victoria’s Secret. I love that stuff. 

8. Sneaks

My sister is seriously awesome. All of them are. They find things they love then buy some for me. I feel so blessed. My sister bought me my first pair of amazing sneakers. They are Nike and they are pictured in this post. They look awesome and feel awesome. Like I said in the other post, having a good pair of sneaks makes you want to exercise.

9. Day Planner

I have been using a day planner since I was given one at my high school graduation. Right now I use Brownline 14 Month Planner. It is my favorite so far. I babysit so it’s important for me to keep records of that. Also it contains all my notes for this blog and all my important to do lists and phone numbers. If you are trying to get more organized, start with a good day planner.

10. Spotify

Last but not least, is spotify. It is an app I have downloaded to my iPad. I discovered it months ago and I think I use it almost every day now. It works like a radio but with very little ads and you can make your own playlists. I have a lot of playlists but my favorites are: Steve Pettit and Piano Guys. Then for the kids I have Veggie Tales, Backyardigans, and Disney theme songs. But you can find just about anything on there. The best part- it’s free 🙂 You can upgrade to a premium package to get rid of the ads but you don’t have to. It can be glitchy at times but it’s worth it considering all it offers.

Ok, so there is my favorites list. Are some of these things on your favorites list? What is on your list? Share with me! And if you haven’t voted yet, check out the Birthday Cake Battle and vote for your favorite birthday cake!

Tips for Staying Motivated

Tips for Staying Motivated

stay motivated

Staying motivated to work out is not easy. I go through so many lulls with exercising. It’s something I really love to do and know is important but still I lose motivation from time to time. Because of that, I have learned several ways to get motivated to get moving again. Here are the ways I stay motivated:

1. Purpose

This is possibly the most important thing when exercising. Why do you exercise? What caused you to start should be a good reminder for you to continue even when you don’t feel like it. My purpose is to be healthy and strong to be able to keep up with my kids. I want to play with them now as they are toddlers and also enjoy playing sports with them as they become teenagers. I know that with every push up I do, every mile I walk I am increasing my chances of being active with them as they get older.

2. Accountability

I have several forms of accountability. First, is Shane. He helps me stay accountable with things like drinking water instead of pop. He often will fill up my water bottle for me when he sees it empty and stick it in the frig or freezer. He knows I like it cold 🙂 When I see a water bottle in there I am way more likely to grab it instead of something filled with sugar.

Another form of accountability I have is with my sisters and our friend. We set up a Facebook group 3 years ago to log our daily exercise. It started out as a competition to one up each other. But now it is a very important role in my fitness. I know they will notice if I go more than one day without exercising. I know they will notice if I haven’t increased my reps in a while. Some days I won’t feel like working out at all and then I see one of them post their workout for the day. It always prompts me to get up and do something. Even if it’s not much I do something.

Lastly for accountability, I have a friend from church. We go to a program here in town together called circuit training. It is only once a week and some weeks I do not feel like going. Then I get a text from her saying she will be here to pick me up in an hour.

It’s so important to have someone to help push you when you need it.

3. Invest Money

It doesn’t have to be a lot of money. I surely don’t have a lot of money to spend on working out. But find a good pair of sneakers and wear them. My sister got me that awesome pair of Nike’s in the photo above. A good pair of sneakers will really help you want to exercise. Invest in some weights. I got mine from Shane’s parents. They were going to sell them but no one came to pick them up so I got them. They make my workouts SO MUCH MORE FUN. Seriously, it is worth it. My weights are also pictured above. Another investment that I love is my chin up bar. I got one worth $230 at a yard sale for $20. That thing is so much fun. Buying things to make your workouts better will make you want to workout.

4. Goals

I cannot say enough about making goals. Set short-term and long-term goals. This doesn’t have to be weight goals. In fact, I try not to make weight loss goals. The only time I do is after having a baby. I always have that goal to get back to pre baby weight. But then after that my goals are things like doing 2 chin ups in a row (which is why I bought the chin up bar), walking 100 miles, doing 20 push ups without stopping, fit into a certain pair of jeans, etc. I also measure my waist and thighs and use them as starting measurements rather than a starting weight.

5. Knowledge

The more I workout the more I enjoy reading about working out. I read articles about food and exercise, I learn new exercises, and I follow blogs that give great information about working out. My favorite blog right now is Diary of a Fit Mommy. She is a real life mom with no fluff in her articles. Very real and very motivating.

How do you stay motivated? Share your tips with me! And don’t forget to vote for your favorite cake in the Birthday Cake Battle!

Birthday Cake Battle

Birthday Cake Battle

birthday cake battle

As some of you may know, my birthday is right around the corner. I pin chocolatey pins all year long in anticipation for this day. It is the one time I bake a seriously awesome dessert with no regrets. I don’t care how many calories this thing has. It’s my birthday so I can chow down! There’s just one problem. I am just about the most indecisive person I know. It takes me so long to decide what dessert to make. After all, I have been pinning all year. I have a lot of desserts to choose from! So is born the Birthday Cake Battle.

The Competitors

1. The Salted Caramel Cheesecake Cake from shugarysweets.com

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2. The Chocolate Italian Love Cake from chewnibblenosh.com

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3. Boston Cream Poke Cake from recipesforourdailybread.com

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The Battle

Comment below which cake you think I should make and why. Think you have a better looking cake? Send me the recipe and I will try that one out, too! Whichever cake has the most votes I will bake for my birthday. I will post pictures and a review of my birthday cake!

Is your birthday coming up? Make your own Birthday Cake Battle and post the link here so I can vote for your birthday cake!

Gluten Free Granola

Gluten Free Granola

This post contains affiliate links. I only give my honest opinion.

gluten free granola

I have been testing granola recipes on and off for a couple years now. I have finally found one that I LOVE and worked well with gluten free oats. I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats for this and it turns out perfect every time!

 

Simple Granola

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Combine brown sugar, honey and canola oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
3. Cook, stirring often until sugar is dissolved.
4. Pour brown sugar mixture over oats and add cinnamon and salt. Stir until oats are evenly coated.
5. Spread granola mixture over a cookie sheet (sprayed with pam) and press mixture down.
6. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before breaking apart and into pieces.
8. Store in a ziplock bag or other air tight container.

The kids and I really enjoyed it. We ate it by itself, with some chocolate chips, on top of yogurt, etc. Next time I am thinking of putting some cocoa powder in it, just because I find a way to get chocolate into almost anything.

I used my Kitchen Aid baking sheets and rubber spatulas for this recipe. I have had them for years and they are still going strong!

 

Every week I link up to these great blogs!

 

 

 

Our Screen Free Rainy Day

Our Screen Free Rainy Day

rainy day

I am not against kids watching tv or playing video games. I just want to put that out there before I begin. However, Shane and I do enjoy a day or two a week where the tv stays off. We don’t want our kids to become unable to entertain themselves and unable to use their fantastic imaginations.

Saturday was a rainy day here. That can be the best combination: Saturday + rainy day = movie day! That is typically what we would do. However, Saturday was supposed to be the kiddie carnival here in Inuvik. The kids were so disappointed that we wouldn’t be outside playing games. I decided we would have a screen free Saturday and just play together all day. So, here are some fun ways to spend a screen free rainy day!

1. Cardboard Box

This seriously lasted for an hour and a half. It started out as a dog cage. Then some tape and another box turned it into a hotwheels ramp. A couple rips down the sides and we had a throne for the King and Queen (a piece of construction paper, stickers, and tape made their crowns).

2. Playdough

I don’t really think much needs to be said about this. If you can ignore all the tiny crumbs of dried up playdough on the floor for a little while then this activity is so much fun. I even enjoy creating with them. I think we spent about an hour doing this.

3. Boat Races

This was by far the biggest hit. They each built their own boats out of popsicle sticks, glue, and buttons. I had to help a little when it came to glue. But they did most of it themselves. Then we filled up the bathtub and they raced their boats. They spent about a half hour playing with their boats in the tub until they started to fall apart. It was a lot of fun.

The kids working on their popsicle stick boats
The kids working on their popsicle stick boats

Share some of your rainy day activities with me!

Popsicle Stick Workout

Popsicle Stick Workout

popsicle-stick-workout

Today I would like to share with you my new favorite workout. I love new exercises and workouts. I get bored easily with workouts and hardly ever do the same workout two days in a row. That is one of the reasons why I LOVE this workout so much! I saw this on Pinterest a long time ago and finally started doing it a month ago. I do it 4-5 days a week and still am not bored with it! It changes everytime!

Here’s how it works:

1. Write a different exercise on each popsicle stick. 

You could start with your favorite exercises or add in some new ones you want to learn. 

2. Color code the exercises. 

I tried my best to code mine by the type of exercise. Some exercises could have been put in two groups but I just chose the one I thought worked best.

3. Choose a couple from each group

Decide how many exercises you want to do or how long you want to be exercising and choose that many sticks. Try not to look at the exercise on the stick when grabbing. Just go by color. I get two of each color.

4. Set the timer

How long you do each exercise is completely up to you. I started with doing each exercise for a minute. I am slowly upping the amount of exercises I do and the length of time I do it. You could start with each exercise for 30 seconds. Then if you are feeling able, go around and do them again- each for 30 seconds. That’s the beauty of this workout…you can fit it to how much time you have and how you feel.

 

Here is a list of my exercises and the groups I have them in:

RED – these are mostly cardio that get your heart rate up

One handed burpee, high knees, quick jacks, football stance, skaters, burpee, butt kicks, stair jumps, steam engines.

ORANGE– these are mostly planks…I LOVE planks!

Bridge plank, scissors, knee to elbow plank, plank jacks, plank tricep kickbacks, side plank, rainbow plank, donkey kicks, mountain climbers.

BLUE– these are mostly core exercises

Calf raises, wall sit, squat, leg lift, lunge, bicycle crunch, crunch, squat with side kicks, squat jumps, one leg bridge.

GREEN– these are arm exercises

Military press, reverse tricep extension, upright row, arm dips, tricep drop, Russian twist, push ups, bicep curl, fly aways.

You are guaranteed to walk away from this workout sweating and breathing hard! If you don’t know some of the exercises I mentioned above just let me know and I can explain it. YouTube and Pinterest are great for learning new exercises, too. Let me know if you try this and how you like it. Share with me your favorite workouts!

*Update. Looking for new ways to use your popsicle stick workout? Learn how to build your own workout here!