Saying Yes To Embracing My Life

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WellYes2018 #CollectiveBias

A few months ago I was feeling worn thin. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but there was this sense of disappointment. I felt like I was continually spinning my wheels, and never being or doing quite enough. So, being the organized gal that I am, I did what I always do, I tried to figure out a way to put that “enough” into a schedule and made a list and a plan to jam every good thing in and weed out the bad. I minimized my stuff and maximized my time.

I soon discovered that wasn’t what the problem was, though. No matter if my days were busy-crazy or slower paced, there it still was. Now, don’t get me wrong! I still loved life. It was just that ever-there presence of not-quite-enough floating around in the back of my head making me discontent.

Then, as I was thinking over this new year I had one of those light-bulb moments.

It was, in fact, a face-palm light-bulb moment. You see, if there’s one thing I’m continually coaching and encouraging the kids about it all comes down to one little word:

attitude

Yes, this time, it turns out that I was the one with a bad attitude! Who would have thought?!

When I took a step back I realized that I’ve been grasping for things when my hands are already full. I have all in life right now that I ever hoped and dreamed of. A wonderful hubby, two beautiful children, a job I love, a home of our own. When I stop and think about it the blessings that crowd my life just pour down in floods.

I didn’t really need to do, be, or have more, at all. I just had to say Yes.

Yes to embracing this beautiful, wonderful, messy, and extraordinarily ordinary life of my own.

So the focus of my new year is to say Yes. Yes to stopping and really soaking in and enjoying all the wonderful things our life includes right now. Yes to keeping my eyes on those blessings, and up and away from the bad. Yes to finding the funny side of an annoying thing. Yes to enjoying the simple things in life whether it’s a hug, a smile, a good book, or a hot, comforting bowl of soup.

Because of this New Year, New Me goal I just had to smile when I saw the Well Yes!® soups at my local grocery store. Well Yes! helps women say yes to deliciously crafted food, with real nutritious ingredients, so we have what we need to say yes in the rest of our lives. So I stocked up on several of their tasty flavors like Well Yes! Chicken Noodle, Roasted Chicken Wild Rice Soup, Hearty Lentil Vegetable Soup, and Italian Vegetable with Farro Soup. I knew a warm bowl on a chilly day would be just the thing to have as I was working on refocusing my thoughts and having my “Well, Yes” moment! If you’d like to stock up on some of this delicious soup for yourself, then be sure to grab this coupon!

My focus now is to make a conscious effort to say yes to my life and stay positive. To really appreciate everything and everyone around me. I also want to say yes to sharing and showing those people my love and gratitude. Saying yes to my life this year means spreading my joy and thankfulness to those in it. I’m excited just thinking about what a difference this seemingly small step will make for me and everyone I know this brand new year!

What are you saying Yes to in your life this New Year? Maybe, like me, you just need to stop and embrace your life as it is!

Want even more amazing “Moment of Yes” inspiration? Check out the great ideas here!

Then start off your New Year a fun way by entering to win this great sweepstakes! Enter the #WellYes2018 Sweepstakes in the widget below for a chance to win up to a $500 Visa gift card! It’s as easy as clicking, logging in, and sharing your Moment of Yes story! If you win, think of all the ways you can use the prizing to achieve your Moment of Yes!

#WellYes2018 #Sweepstakes (1/15 to 2/16)

5 Ways to Make the Most of Fall with Your Family

#advertisement I received compensation from Dr. Scholl’s® to write this post. All opinions are entirely my own. #CustomFitRelief #DrScholls

Is it just me or is fall the BEST season of the year? The air is crisp, the leaves are turning gorgeous colors, and the holidays are just around the corner. Something about this time of year just makes me want to be outside enjoying the beautiful weather all the time. Maybe it’s because we’ve just come out of months of heat here in Texas, but autumn somehow makes me feel energetic and ready for anything. There are so many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the season, but most of them involve being on my feet for long periods of time.  Sadly this can be a real problem for people like me who often suffer from aching feet or pain in the lower back and knees, both of which can originate in the feet.

I have a really hard time finding shoes that offer the right amount of support for my feet so I pretty much gave up on finding shoes that would work for my feet and decided to just live with the pain. But then I found Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts.  Oh my goodness!  Who knew a cushiony little insert could make such a difference?  These things have four different layers, each serving a different purpose in supporting your feet to relieve the stress that can cause foot, knee, and lower back pain.

Dr. Scholl’s® experts in biomechanics have developed an incredible Footmapping®  Technology that evaluates arch type, pressure points, and foot length using over 2,000 pressure sensors, which then recommends the inserts that are right for you.   All I had to do was find the Custom Fit® Kiosk in my local Walmart and follow a few simple instructions to get my personalized recommendation.

Here’s how easy it is.

Step 1: Remove your shoes.

Step 2: Step on the mat.

Step 3: Touch the screen to begin.  Follow the prompts on the screen and in under 2 minutes you’ll know exactly which Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts are right for your feet.  I had no idea I had high arches, and it was great to have a custom recommendation just for my feet!

Thanks to these inserts I can truly enjoy my favorite season!  If you experience pain in your feet, knees, or back from being on your feet for long periods, give Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts a try and start moving around comfortably!  To find a Custom Fit® Kiosk near you click here.  And right now you can even get a $10 rebate at the Custom Fit® Online Rebate Center right here!

The season has so much to offer and I don’t want to miss out on any of it.  Here are some of the beautifully simple ways I like to make the most of fall with my family.

  • Take a nature walk.  This can be as simple as a trip to a local park or even a walk around the block.  No matter where you live, a new season always brings with it changes in nature that your family can enjoy together.   Slow down and really enjoy the beauty of the season.  Stop and look up at the trees and the clouds.  Keep your eyes open for acorns, pine cones, pretty leaves, or any other signs of Fall.  Gather special finds in a basket and make simple crafts out of them, or simply display them at home for a free seasonal decoration.  Need a way to get the kids interested?  Make up an age-appropriate scavenger hunt using local plants and animals and see how many you can spot.  You might even make a habit of taking an evening walk together because it’s such a pleasant way to end the day. Just being outside in the fresh air is a great way to slow down and reconnect with your family!

  • Have a family work day outside.  Outdoor chores have to be done anyway, so why not make it a fun family experience?  Turn on some music and get to work raking, gardening, pulling weeds, organizing the shed…whatever needs to be done to make your outdoor space enjoyable for the season.  Just remember to keep it fun! Let the kids rake up a big pile of leaves and jump in it (and then rake it up again, of course :).)  See who can pull the most weeds.  Make a leaf maze or obstacle course.   Keep some cups and a thermos of apple cider outside for breaks.  Snap some photos of everyone working hard and having fun!

  • Dine al-fresco.  Enjoy the results of all your hard work by eating outside.   Bundle up and enjoy a steaming bowl of soup out on the patio while the sun sets, or take your morning coffee outside and listen to the birds singing.  Here in Texas we can be outside most of the day in the fall, but if you live somewhere that’s much colder make the most of the sunshine in the middle of the day by enjoying a picnic lunch.  Having a meal outside somehow makes it feel special and memorable, so make a habit of dining outside as a family once in awhile during the pleasant autumn months before winter sets in.

  • Take advantage of local seasonal activities.  Most cities have certain activities that are only open for a few weeks every fall.  Pumpkin patches, apple-picking, hayrides, corn-mazes…these won’t be available for very long, but the memories can last a lifetime,  so check to see what’s available near you during this season.   We’ve gone to a local pumpkin patch for the last few years and my kids always look forward to spending the day running around, climbing on hay bales, and having a picnic there. And don’t forget your Dr. Scholl’s® Custom Fit® Orthotic Inserts so foot, knee, or lower back pain won’t cut your experience short.  Get clinically-proven all-day relief so you can keep moving and make the most of the season!

  • Hunt for treasures at flea markets and yard sales.  I love finding unique things that people are getting rid of and giving them a new home.  Autumn is the perfect time to spend a day at the flea market or checking out garage sales.  You might even find some perfect Christmas gifts for people who are difficult to shop for.  I have a friend whose family decided one year that they would only give each other gifts from flea markets or yard sales.  They all had so much fun Christmas shopping, and there were some unforgettable gifts that year!  My kids often want to buy gifts for people at Christmas with their own money, but they don’t usually have much money to spend.  So I love helping them find just the right thing at a garage sale that hardly costs anything.  This way they’re learning smart spending while we shop together!

What are some things you do with your family in the fall?  Share your ideas with us for making the most of the season.  Don’t let foot, knee, or lower back pain keep you from enjoying everything this beautiful time of year has to offer.  Try Custom Fit® Orthotics risk-free, with the Dr. Scholl’s® Money Back Guarantee and experience all the fun of the season pain-free!

Chicken Mushroom Rice Recipe & The Story of Thomas

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NutrishFureverHome #CollectiveBias

Before I get into our story, I want to make sure you know about this great chance to win big and do good!

Enter this sweepstakes for a chance to win $25,000 and other prizes! Register your purchase at www.nutrishfureverhome.com

The Grand Prize is $25,000 and a one-year supply of Nutrish® dry dog food or one year worth of Nutrish® dry cat. And there’s also 3 First Prizes: $5,000 and a one-year supply of Nutrish® dry dog food or one year worth of Nutrish® dry cat.

Entering is easy, too! Purchase any Nutrish®-only product during the Sweepstakes Period, then visit www.nutrishfureverhome.com and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the registration.

Our family had always dreamed of owning a dog. Once my husband got out of the Coast Guard, that dream became a reality and we were so thrilled for 3 happy years. Then, right after we moved into our new home when he graduated college, a horrible, tragic incident struck and we were left grieving, scarred, and without a dog.

I swore because of the pain and the trauma, I’d never, ever want another dog again.

Just like the cliche goes, though, time heals all wounds and this past summer, one year later, my heart had started to ache for a sweet, furry friend once more. After talking about it we decided to look around at all the local shelters, wanting to adopt our next dog. Of course, we were all thinking about a puppy, and when we walked into the shelter that day it was to look at some pups I’d seen online.

I let the staff know that we were looking for a sweet, mild, low maintenance kind of dog. “Oh!” She told me, “You just *have* to meet Thomas!”

We walked past the cages of wriggling, frenzied, barking bodies. And there, in his kennel, sat Thomas. As calm and quiet and happy as could be. As soon as he came out to us Amber looked and me and said, “Oh mom. This is OUR DOG.” I wasn’t convinced and told her that surely we wanted to look at those puppies.

We looked around the entire shelter but just keep coming back to Thomas. After I began to play with and pet him, I became more and more convinced. It became perfectly clear that this ridiculously adorable little mutt had adopted us.

Indeed, 3-year-old Thomas was OUR dog!

He was at the shelter because his owner had passed away, and he kept getting passed over because of his age, and because of his one “peg leg”. A back leg got broken when he was a tiny puppy and wasn’t set right–so now it’s permanently straight. He has no idea about this, and runs and jumps and plays just like any other puppy. He really was so perfect for us, and now a few months later I can’t imagine life without his sweet smiling little face! We have helped him find his Furever Home™ and he has brought so much joy and healing to our hearts and lives!

I’m not the only one with a soft spot for shelter pets! Rachael Ray™ Nutrish®  Furever Home™ Helps Shelter Pets Find The Home They Deserve. In fact, this month October 2017, your support will help Rachael Ray Nutrish donate $250,000 to benefit shelter pets. Rachael’s Rescue® was created for all of the forgotten pets – the ones who might not have someone who loves them as much as they deserve. A portion of proceeds from each sale of Nutrish is donated to The Rachael Ray Foundation, which helps animals in need through Rachael’s Rescue. Through September 2017, Rachael’s Rescue has donated more than $21 million dollars to pet charities and other organizations that do good for animals.

I picked up my bag of Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® Dog Food at my local Dollar General. I love it when I can do good by purchasing something we already need, and the chance to win a sweepstakes on top of all that is just the icing on the dog treat, so to say.

All Nutrish dry dog and cat food is natural with added vitamins & minerals, and wholesome, delicious ingredients.

In fact the Chicken, Brown Rice, and Veggies Nutrish recipe that I purchased Thomas looked like such a delicious recipe combination that it inspired me to pull together a human version for us as a family to enjoy while Thomas noshed on his Nutrish dinner!

Chicken Mushroom Rice Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • Kickin’ Chicken Seasoning
  • Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Cup Chopped Mushrooms
  • 1/2 Cup Red Onion, Diced
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • Brown Rice

Squeeze the juice of one lemon over Chicken Breasts.

Season Chicken Breasts with Kickin’ Chicken & Italian Seasoning to taste. For ours, I just sprinkled the tops with Kickin’ Chicken spices, and then once they were chopped up I added 2 TBSP of Italian Seasoning. I wanted the Italian seasoning to be the primary flavoring, but the Kickin’ Chicken flavoring gave it that added depth and zing.

Cut Chicken into Bite-Sized Pieces, then Chop Mushrooms and Red Onion into small pieces.

Prepare Brown Rice according to package directions.

While the rice is cooking, in a skillet melt butter (you can also do 1/2 butter and 1/2 olive oil, but I love how butter caramelizes the mushrooms & the onions) and add in Chicken. Cook until white throughout. Add in Onion and Mushrooms and cook until they melt down and caramelize.

Serve the Chicken mixture over top of the Brown Rice.

This meal is absolutely perfect for a busy week day dinner, and quick and easy to pull together! Which is just perfect for a family filled with activities and pets to love on!

Do you have a shelter pet story? I’d love to hear it! Also, don’t forget to Enter the Sweepstakes!

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How To Put Together The Perfect Kitty Treat Basket For Thanksgiving

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, MARS Incorporated. All opinions are mine alone. #PAWsomeGifts #ClausAndPaws #CollectiveBias

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Blessings come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, including tiny, gray, soft & sweet ones.

As you know, the past months have been full of great big, huge changes for our family.  In the midst of moving to a new city, getting our first home, and hubby starting a new job came a change we weren’t expecting at all. Due to a traumatic incident, we lost our family pet of four years. This would have been hard to deal with at any point, but coming in the middle of so many other huge life changes it rocked our little world and left all our hearts hurting.

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That’s just when Kitty Sylvanas entered our lives and hearts. Our new neighborhood is a beautiful gated, round one that’s just perfect for playing outside and after school walks. One Monday after school we went outside to discover the teeniest, tiniest little gray kitten bouncing all over our front yard. She was super friendly and the kids and I played with her for a good 30 minutes while I kept looking up and down the street for any sign of an owner–either Cat Mamma or Human. I grabbed my camera and got some shots of her playing, to remember her by once she was claimed. After that time passed by, however, with no one in sight, I told the kids we could bring her inside to keep her safe away from the busy street, which was greeted by their squeals of pure joy.

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I cautioned them that surely someone was looking for this precious little kitty and that we would just keep her in and safe until they showed up. I waited for someone to come looking, and the next day I hopped onto the local lost pets Facebook group to try to locate the owner. While many other people had posted about finding kittens, no one had lost a sweet fluffy gray one. Since she was still drinking milk and too little to be away from her mommy, we came to think that she might have been from a wild litter and got separated from her family somehow.

And just like that the weeks slipped by, Kitty Sylvanas grew and stayed, and she’s filled our hearts and empty pet home with love and cuddles and playfulness once more!

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I am truly grateful for what a huge blessing her coming into our lives at this crazy time has been. With the month of November, I’m focusing on the blessings in my life, people and pets, and how much I love them and want to treat them to a happy Thanksgiving season!

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For me, Thanksgiving is all about sharing delicious treats with those you love, and the easiest and the best place to stock up on those is during my weekly run to Walmart. This holiday season, MARS Pet and Walmart are inviting shoppers to  share their pet’s personality and the brands are rewarding them with a fun experiences and special offers.

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Our store has an awesome Cat Treat Selection  so I stocked up on several different fun flavors and types! I put them together in a beautiful but easy Gift Basket that doubles as a kitty bed! If your cat is anything like ours, you know they love to have several comfy sleepy spots. This one is so inviting they just *might* leave your favorite blanket alone, maybe!

Here’s what you’ll need to recreate this amazing Perfect Kitty Treat Basket For Thanksgiving.  I purchased everything for it at Walmart!

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  • Temptations® Classics Tantalizing Turkey Flavor Cat Care & Treats, 6.3 oz
  • Temptations® Classics Tempting Tuna Flavor Mega Pack Treats for Cats, 6.3 oz
  • Temptations® Classics Catnip Cat Treats, 6.3 oz
  • SHEBA® PERFECT PORTIONS™ Pate & Cuts
  • Large Basket
  • Small, Soft Flannel Blanket
  • Old towel or blanket for extra padding

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Take your basket and put in the old tablecloth, blanket, or towel in the bottom.

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Place your new, super soft fleece blanket on top. I went with this cute animal print, but it would be super fun to buy different holiday themed blankets and switch them out accordingly!

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Place all the treats inside and present to your kitty on Thanksgiving to enjoy when you’re feasting on your treats as well!

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As soon as the treats are out of the basket you can move it to your kitty’s favorite snoozing spot. It makes the perfect cozy cat bed!

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Want even more great ideas on how to treat your cat this Thanksgiving? Check out all the Amazing Pet Gifts & Clever Tutorial Ideas Here!

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Life Changes, Cereal Squares, and Miracles From Heaven

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareYourMiracles #CollectiveBias

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You’ve no doubt noticed that things have been just a little bit quieter around here on the blog and on all my social media channels lately. I once heard it said that when your online life was quiet it meant your offline life was anything but, and, at least lately, I’ve found that to be the truth!

While those of you who are my long-time devoted readers know that life is seldom routine for us, lately it’s been kicked into even crazier gear with some of the biggest life changes out there. Namely, Bob starting his new career after graduating with his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering, us house hunting for our first ever home purchase, preparing to move to the area where he’s now working, and a huge school year all-too-rapidly approaching with Tyler starting Kindergarten!

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While all of these are big, wonderful, awesome things–huge life changes like new careers, moving, purchasing a home, transferring schools, and starting school are also notoriously full of hassles and stress. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the latter part and to forget how to embrace and experience life’s big moments. I know I’ve been struggling a lot with this lately, and although your big moments right now might be different than mine, there’s no doubt that you might be experiencing some and having this same struggle, too. So today I wanted to share with you a big ol’ dose of inspiration and encouragement I received lately–and a family favorite recipe (because desserts with chocolate in them instantly help!!! amIright?! 😉 )

While I was in Walmart the other day I noticed that Miracles From Heaven had just been released. I’ve wanted to see it since the preview came out, and I’ve heard amazing things about it so I picked us up a copy. The timing of me watching it was almost uncanny. It was an amazing, moving film about the Beam Family that is full of love, faith, and spirit. It filled my heart, my eyes (like I told Amber, happy tears!), and gave me a renewed perspective. My favorite quote from the movie was this one:

As you can see, we now live like every day is a miracle… because for us, it is. – Christy Beam

Here are the ways I’m deciding to live like every day is a miracle, and I hope they’ll inspire you to live like it is as well! If you haven’t already purchased the movie there isn’t a better time to than right now because when you buy the Miracles From Heaven DVD here, $1 of your purchase will be donated to the Children’s Miracle Network!

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Perspective Through Thankfulness Nothing shifts my focus from the not-so-great to the wonderful like a good dose of perspective does. Watching Miracles From Heaven was the perfect reminder of this. How thankful I am for the huge things like my family, our health, our freedom, our faith, our jobs, down to the seemingly little things we take for granted like hot showers, air conditioning, being able to enjoy a slice of pizza ….I literally could go on for hours. Whenever we stop and embrace thankfulness it shifts our perspective and helps us embrace life’s big moments for the blessings they are!

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Embracing Big Changes Through Bonding Another favorite part of Miracles From Heaven was when the Dr. in Boston told Christy that Family was what would do her daughter the best right then. This is such a beautiful truth. No matter what any one is going through, having time together as a family is so critical. Through all of this craziness in our lives, I’ve been making sure to be intentional to spend lots of time bonding with the kids this summer. As I mentioned Tyler is getting ready to start school, which is such an important time in life! I’ve also made sure to focus just as much, if not more, on bonding with Amber. Going into 3rd grade she’s in that critical point in life when transitions are hard and even just starting a new grade is scary, let alone a whole new school in a new town. Making sure we have lots of special, fun times together gives me the ability to teach and check in on her and also gives Amber the opportunity to ask questions and learn from me. Although, much like in the movie and the dynamic between Christy and Anna Beam, I have to admit that Amber’s faith and attitudes through everything often end up in me being the one learning what true, pure, childlike faith and trust really are!

Some of our favorite ways to bond are playing board & card games together, our bedtime routine which includes reading and playing together each day, swimming in the pool, and snuggling up together to watch movies. My favorite way to bond, though, is baking together! Every summer my mom would make Cereal Squares for us, and I would help. As I got older I took over making them for our family each summer, and now that I have kids of my own making Cereal Squares together has continued on to now be one of our favorite summer traditions. It comes together in just a short while and the fact it’s no bake makes it the ideal summer dessert.

As you know, I can never keep a delicious family recipe to myself, so I’m sharing it with you all today! It’s the perfect summer treat for BBQs, Camping, Pizza Night, or just because!

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Cereal Squares Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Light Karo Syrup
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 8 Cups Crisp Rice Cereal
  • 1 Bag Butterscotch Chips
  • 1 Bag Dark Chocolate Chips

Butter or spray a 13×9 inch pan. In a large bowl measure out the cups of crisp rice cereal and set aside.

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In a sauce pan bring Light Karo Syrup & Sugar to a boil.

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While heating up the syrup & sugar in a double broiler begin to melt Dark Chocolate & Butterscotch Chips together. (Tip: a double broiler works best, but in a pinch you can make your own using a sauce pan fill a few inches full of water, and a metal pan placed over it.) Melting the chocolate with a barrier of water keeps it from burning.

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When the syrup and sugar are boiling remove the pan from the heat and add in the peanut butter and vanilla. Stir until blended and then pour into the large bowl of rice cereal and mix until well blended. Press firmly into the 13×9 inch pan using a spatula or turning spatula.

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When the dark chocolate & butterscotch chips are melted stir together and then pour and spread on top of the cereal mixture, creating a frosting like effect. Allow to sit until hardened, then serve. For quicker set time you may place them in the fridge.

Here’s a handy printable recipe so you can keep your laptop out of the kitchen:

Cereal Squares
Recipe Type: No Bake Dessert
Prep time:
Total time:
This delicious no-bake recipe will be sure to become a summer family tradition!
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Light Karo Syrup
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 8 Cups Crisp Rice Cereal
  • 1 Bag Butterscotch Chips
  • 1 Bag Dark Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. Butter or spray a 13×9 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl measure out the cups of crisp rice cereal and set aside.
  3. In a sauce pan bring Light Karo Syrup & Sugar to a boil.
  4. In a double broiler begin to melt Dark Chocolate & Butterscotch Chips together over low heat.
  5. When the syrup and sugar are boiling remove the pan from the heat and add in the peanut butter and vanilla. Stir until blended and then pour into the large bowl of rice cereal and mix until well blended. Press firmly into the 13×9 inch pan using a spatula or turning spatula.
  6. When the dark chocolate & butterscotch chips are melted stir together and then pour and spread on top of the cereal mixture, creating a frosting like effect. Allow to sit until hardened, then serve.

I hope that you are able to treasure the important things this summer, that you’ll enjoy this delicious new recipe, and that you’ll be sure to pick up a copy of Miracles From Heaven if you haven’t already! I promise you won’t regret doing any of those things!

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Memorial Day ~ Remembering Robert Romero

 

 

This is my Grandpa–Merced Ralph Romero, though he went by Ralph. He served in the Army.

 

Actually, there were five boys in the Romero family, and every single one of them served in the Army.
Including Robert.

 

This is my great uncle Robert Romero. He was just a kid from Wyoming, until the Vietnam War that is. Then he was flown far away, far overseas, far from the mountains of home and plunged into the jungles of a strange land. He served as an E-4–about as low on the totem pole as you can get.
He was a combat medic, and on December 3, 1969, he was killed in action.
Just a 21 year old kid from Wyoming–who died because he was helping other soldiers. It was the very act of helping them that caused him to give his life–and for this he was awarded the Silver Star Medal–our nation’s highest awards for valor in combat given in Vietnam.
Just a Wyoming kid, just my uncle I never met, just a guy who gave his life so that you could live yours.
My Uncle Don died when I was just a tiny girl, then Grandpa passed away last year, so did his brother Roy, now only my Uncle Ren is left. If we don’t remember, if we don’t pass along these stories, if we don’t remember the people behind the names these boys become statistics.
Just numbers of casualties of war.
Just names carved into a big black wall that some people don’t even bother to go see in Washington DC when they visit because “it’s not a big deal” to them.

 

 

But if we remember, if we realize, if the tears come for the sacrifice of those who loved us with the greatest love though never met us…..
Then we honor them, and we honor the day.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Noble the Movie

 

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The movie Noble is about the life of Christina Noble, an Irish woman from the mid 1900’s, who has had a very difficult and trying childhood and life growing up in Dublin and then moving to England, but throughout it all she holds onto, even if just by a thread of hope, her faith in God.

In the midst of her suffering and crying out to God for understanding and beseeching Him with questions about if He has forgotten about her, she has a vision of children from Vietnam consumed by war and devastation that their little innocent hearts does not deserve to have to endure through. She dreams of children, who are desperately in need of love, protection, and help. She vows that one day, somehow, she WILL go to Vietnam and carry out her vision that God has placed within her heart. The movie goes through her journey in Vietnam in 1989, as she is trying to set up a home for the street children so that they can be safe, loved, nurtured, educated, and receive any medical care they need.  The movie also has many flashbacks about her life as she was growing up and all the intensity and sorrows she went through to make her into the woman she was destined to be.

Her spirit is one truly comprised of gold to go through all the pain she went through, and yet to still have a song on her lips, radiating joy in her heart and love for the “least of these”, the poor and abandoned children, in abundance. She is such an inspiration in how she pours and selflessly gives out of herself to these children in desperate need on the streets of Vietnam. She is as bold as a lion, and in the movie, she even rescues some young girls from being preyed upon by evil predator type men who have nothing but the vilest intentions with these young girls, which adds for quite the dramatic plot twist as she “storms the castle”, so to speak, for these young souls. She is a hero in the truest form of the word, in my humble opinion.

The movie was such an inspiration and very moving.  I found this movie to be quite surprisingly splendid and refreshing because sometimes, with more feel-good/faith films, they can be quite cheesy and low quality, but this movie was quite the opposite. I loved the more serious parts, and how they were expertly broken up by little scenes of humor and amusement that left me giggling and smiling.

The actress who portrayed Christina Noble, Deirdre O’Kane, was delightful! She had such a passionate and vibrant acting personality, and the Irish accent in her voice, both singing and speaking, was beautiful to watch and hear!

In this movie, I laughed, I cried, I was, to say it again, very much moved by this movie.

Watching Christina’s story drew something out from within me, it reignited a passion, so to speak. Children are the future, and we are called by God to love the children, widows, and orphans (James 1:27 and Psalm 82:3 in the Bible), and for someone to embrace that divine calling so selflessly and fully with a wide open heart and boldness of a lion…that is true faith and religion in my opinion. Serving with abandon and loving everyone you come across with and protecting them from themselves even. There is no greater calling, than to be NOBLE and BRAVE and to LOVE, no matter the personal cost (John 15:13)!

Have you seen this movie yet? What were your thoughts on it?

Beloveds, my ending question is one that convicts me to the core and puts my priorities in alignment, and that is: What is something both noble and brave you would accomplish with your life if you were guaranteed NOT to fail because God was on your side?????

To find and connect with other “noble” women, search the hashtag on your favorite social media “#sheisnoble”.

Now may I add this as a follow up to that question?

GREAT NEWS!!! He IS on your side, and if He has placed a dream within you…no matter how huge or minuscule, if it is from Him…NOTHING can get in your way. Fear has no place where love is (1 John 4:18), and God LOVES you and is FOR YOU! Go be bold and brave like Christina, and do great things for the Kingdom and for His glory alone! You are VICTORIOUS in Jesus!!!

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Now for some homeplay (homework but better):

Here is the trailer for the movie and a link to their phenomenal, beautifully done website! Go check them out and give them some lovings and go watch this movie!

Here is the official synopsis from their website:

“They broke everything but her spirit. They took everything but her dream. NOBLE, the award-winning feature film, is the incredible true story of a fearless Irish heroine driven by her daring vision to escape the slums of Ireland and risk everything on the streets of Vietnam.

Winner of six U.S. film festival awards, including the Panavision Spirit Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the powerful biopic drama written and directed by Stephen Bradley is heralded by critics as “raw and genuinely powerful,” “captivating” and “moving.” The Hollywood Reporter calls it “a joyful and rousing affirmation of the human spirit that will resound widely.”

With great affection, as always,

Rebekah M. Clark

Finding My Inner Fierce

In celebration of International Women’s Day👑 I’m re-sharing one of my all time favorite posts that I’ve ever written in the 8 years I’ve been blogging, and this was definitely my favorite ever photo shoot!!!

Finding My Inner Fierce

Fierce.

Fierce is the experience of bringing a new life into this world in a way that you had never anticipated and never expected–twice. It’s giving birth first by emergency Cesarean after a grueling 24 hour marathon, and then a few years later completely drug free, neither time by choice, but by necessity. It’s holding that precious baby in your arms and realizing *I just did that* I was fierce.

Continue reading “Finding My Inner Fierce”

How To Encourage Your Daughter to Dream Big

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #InspireBigDreams #DreamBigPrincess #CollectiveBias

Writing, photography, and a love of art courses through our blood.

My Grandma has written for the Green River Star Newspaper as a journalist for as long as I can remember, and just recently has scaled back her involvement with them.

My Mom was a journalist until I was born, and now that all her children are out of the house she’s returned just this year to journalism full time for the Rocket Miner Newspaper.

I’ve spent my entire life writing in one way or another, and now have the most amazing job I could have ever imagined as a professional blogger.

So it was no surprise, but delighted my heart, when I saw Amber with a furiously scribbling pen and a deeply intense look on her face earlier this school year. Later that day she proudly came and showed me her story “The Cat” written and illustrated by Amber Elliott. One of her main presents for Christmas this year was a kid camera, and right now her aspiration is to be a Travel Blogger when she grows up. She loves exploring the world and new places, along with having a big heart that adores helping others, and because of that Ariel and Belle are currently her favorite Disney Princess inspirations!

photo credit Danielle Simmons from SimmWorks Family

As a fun surprise and late birthday present, I decided to get her some fun, new Disney Princess toys from Toys “R” Us with the help of my favorite network. By this time it should be no surprise to you how much we love Disney, and especially their princess story lines, in this family! I mean, Amber’s nursery theme was princess and she still sleeps every night under a twin sized fleece blanket that all of us writers in the family made for her that has Belle, Aurora, Snow White, and Cinderella on it.

How CUTE is this mini-Belle with Chip? I’m seriously tempted to sneak into Amber’s room and steal her for myself. Kidding. Sort of.

To this day, I will put down my work and snuggle up with the kids just to watch Sleeping Beauty and Tangled (my two favorites)! I’ve already shared with you Life Lessons From Classic Disney Princess Movies that You Need to Teach Your Daughter. Another thing I love about Disney Princesses is how they chase after their dreams, and now that Amber is a few years older than the last post I shared, and starting to Dream Big about her future, this is something I’m encouraging as much as I can in her life and as we watch the movies!

We’ve always loved going into Toys “R” Us–even as an adult I feel like I’m stepping into a fairyland with all the amazing aisles filled with nothing but FUN! I had a blast looking through the latest Disney Princess options, and each store, including ours, has a whole aisle dedicated to Disney princess magic with exclusive options available only there. I especially loved the beautiful Disney Princess Royal Shimmer Dolls. I’m currently crushing on ombre and glitter, so the fact that all 11 Disney princesses are available with a gown in their signature color with ombre and glitter is probably why I loved them so much. Each Shimmer Doll has movie inspired features so it’s easy for your daughter to recognize her favorite, and they even come with removable shoes. Some stores also have an amazing end cap highlighting these dolls like the one you see above, so be sure to be on the look out for that!

Amber’s reaction to the amazing assortment of new Disney Princess toys?!

I wish I would have gotten a video of her first seeing them, but I love this photo completely captures her excitement and delight!

Although she loved all of the toys, as I mentioned she’s especially loved Ariel lately, and she immediately fell in love with the Sing & Shimmer with Princess Ariel! Ariel sings “Part of Your World” when you press her jeweled necklace, and Amber immediately started dancing to it. In fact, she begged me to let her go dance and play with Ariel in our front yard, and of course, I did!

As soon as she got back in we opened up the Little Kingdom Ariel’s Sea Castle. Both of the kids had a lot of fun with it since they’re both in love with “little” toys right now and so the 3 inches tall Ariel with all her fun snap-ins plus the mini-Sebastian were so much fun! I love that it’s compatible with all the other items in the Little Kingdom line, including dolls of other princesses, so it’ll be easy to expand and add new “friends” for Ariel to play with!

After Amber got inspired by play we talked together about how she could use her new Disney toys and their princess stories to inspire her goals for when she grows up. I told her that she could write and illustrate a story, and then I would publish it right here on my blog, her first published work! She was thrilled and got right to work!

If your daughter, or any princess in your life, is also an aspiring author/blogger/artist here is how you can encourage that dream!

Materials Needed

  • Disney Princess toys for inspiration
  • Construction/Scrapbook Paper
  • Markers/Pens/Pencils
  • Glitter
  • Glue
  • Scratch Paper for the Rough Draft
  • Polished paper or a computer for final draft
  • Camera or Scanner (to document the process and take photos of the final artwork)

Step One–Basic Story Skills:

Go over the basics of story writing if your daughter hasn’t been taught it in school yet. Amber’s class just recently went over story development, so when we started to talk about story basics she told me all about starting off the story with a “hook sentence”, creating a rough draft, and about needing a problem and a solution, so we were good to go.

Step Two–Brainstorm Session:

We used Amber’s playtime to have her brainstorm, but if your daughter is a little stuck sit down together and talk through all the different ideas she has for her story. Who will be the characters, what problem will there be?

Step Three–The Rough Draft:

I’d encourage having your daughter do her rough draft on paper. We live in a digital world but there is something about pen and paper that cannot be replaced. Putting a story on paper makes it feel more real, plus it makes them practice their spelling and penmanship skills.

Amber’s a lot like me and while she likes to do a basic brainstorm, she really loves to watch the story develop as she writes. For this story, she knew her characters, and her problem, but how it would be solved she hadn’t decided until she was writing. She got stuck for awhile and was a little frustrated. You might be tempted to jump in and help by providing ideas for the story, but don’t! This is her creation and working through bumps in the creative process is a part of every person’s career. I gave her gentle open-ended questions to help get her wheels turning, and it was amazing to see her face literally light up when her “light bulb” moment hit and she started furiously writing again.

Step Four–Illustrations/Art/Photography:

At first, I thought I’d have Amber stage and take photos to go along with her tale, but after she wrote her story she decided she wanted to illustrate a “Cover” for her story, instead. Again, this is all about encouraging your princess and HER dreams and goals for her life, so allow her to do whatever she wants in the creative process! I gave her a big variety of materials and resources to use and just sat back and enjoyed the magic. For this, she also created a rough draft and then a final copy! I think they both turned out amazing.

Step Five–Final Draft:

Just as much as I like the rough draft being on paper, I think it’s also vital that we teach our kids how to thrive in our digital world. Amber’s school does a lot of work on iPads and computers, and I try to also adopt the half and half style at home as well. For her final draft, I showed her how to use spell check (my best friend) and the proper way to do capitals and sentences right here in my composition part in WordPress! She thought it was so much fun!

Step Six–Share:

The joy of creating is sharing it with others! Whether you have your girl share with her younger brother, your extended family, or even the wide internet world, make sure you give her a chance to shine! At this age, I believe in lots of encouragement, and gentle help. Tyler loved hearing Amber’s clever story, and here it is for all of you to enjoy now, too!

Ariel’s Adventure

One day Ariel was at the shore. Far away she could see a island. She swam to it. But there was a problem. No one was on the island. When she visited other islands they had people. The ground of this island was gray and smooth, but no rocks and no plants, and in the middle was a small hole. Then a burst of water came out of the hole, and then two huge eyes came out of the water. It was a whale! That is definitely a whale!

THE END!

How will you inspire your princess to Dream Big? Watch this heartwarming video for more ideas along with reading this awesome post by By Jennifer Lee (Academy Award®-winning director/writer of “Frozen,” writer, “Wreck-It Ralph”), and then leave me a comment letting me know, I’m always looking for more ideas!