Sunday, July 17, 2016

There's Still Time for Summer Reading!

Perhaps reading is a lost art these days now that hand-held electronics have taken over our world, but I'm old-fashioned and have actual printed books checked out from three different libraries at the moment. You can find Reina and I sitting on her bed most week nights at about 10 p.m. while she works on her art and I read aloud from whatever book we are currently into. Inspired by Read to Your Bunny, Reina's baby book that encourages parents to read to their children for 20 minutes a day, I've made it a priority to read to Reina since she was an infant, and I cherish our reading time even more these days because I know this little ritual is coming to an end now that she's almost a big, bad senior.

Because reading helped me to survive a lonely and awkward childhood, I don't believe in banning books. Yes, we've read some that may be considered too mature for my seventeen year-old, but I feel it's better for us to discuss various issues at home since she's slapped in the face with them by society regardless. Don't get me wrong, I'm definitely not into junk like Fifty Shades of Gray. I'm just sayin' I think it's important for parents of teenagers to be open to discussing topics of all kinds so their kids feel safe going to them instead of just relying on their peers.

Here's a list of the books we've enjoyed in the last few years that I recommend for mothers and teenage daughters to read together:
  1. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  2. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan 
  3. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 
  4. The Son (sequel to The Giver) by Lois Lowry 
  5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green 
  6. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Most of these books have corresponding movies. One way to get an uninterested younger kid involved in reading is to read books with your child that have been made into movies and then watch the movie together. Creating a themed night with dinner or snacks inspired from the book and movie is a fun way to connect with your child. Movie or none, getting excited about reading yourself will positively influence your kids. The benefits of reading with Reina over the years have paid off because, despite the constant temptation of electronics, Reina devours most of the books she reads.

Monday, July 4, 2016

{Happy 4th of July!} Ribbon Flag

Perhaps I should have been an elementary school teacher aide because I'm a sucker for holiday crafts. Even though I often don't have the time until the last minute--we're talking the morning of the holiday--I manage to find a few moments to squeeze in a project on three day weekends. This morning, I woke up eager to make an easy DYI no sew ribbon flag I found on a cute blog I follow called Of course, I used my coupons from Michaels this weekend to score a deal on the supplies, and now I'm all set with a patriotic hostess gift for my good friend who's entertaining us later at her annual 4th of July block & pool party. Time to break out the red, white, and blue . . . and let the celebrating begin!!!

Found these craft supplies on sale for 50 cents each--such a deal!
Gather up ye patriotic ribbon, embroidery hoop, and twine. 
Tie similar lengths of ribbon all around the hoop.  
Just about done! 
Use two equal cuts of twine and knot in quadrants on the hoop.
Make sure the twine balances at the top and secure with a loop of twine. 
Let your patriotic colors fly in the wind!
Linking to: Katherine's Corner Thursday Favorite Things

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Gluten-free Patriotic Party Mix

Fireworks and all, we celebrated Independence Day a wee bit early last night at my friend's house whose daughter follows a gluten-free diet, so I whipped up something special for my little friend. The nifty thing about this snack mix is that you can accommodate it to practically any holiday by alternating the M&M colors and dried fruit, so you'll have a snack on hand for your GF friends. This sweet & salty party mix is a perfect last-minute treat for anyone who shows up at your place for the big 4th of July celebration--and holidays to come. Hip! Hip! Hooray!

Gluten-free Patriotic Party Mix


3 cups GF cinnamon Chex cereal 
1 cup GF honey nut Cherrios
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts
3/4 cup dried cranberries, blueberries, or cherries 
3/4 bag M&Ms

  • Mix ingredients in a large bowl to enjoy with friends & family!
  • Next time, alternate peanuts with salted sunflower seeds, add popcorn, or dribble melted white chocolate over the mix for an indulgent treat. 

{Celebrate!} Freedom from What's Holding You Back

“Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ~2nd Corinthians 3:17

The other night at church, we heard an inspiring talk about confessing our faults to God, ourselves, and someone else we trust in order to live freer, cleaner lives. The speaker asked us to examine ourselves for any areas we might have some garbage we need to take out, leave behind, and allow God to handle. All of us were given a slip of blue paper with the following phrase at the top: “Today I declare my independence from . . .” Written on the paper were instructions for us to write down whatever we needed to leave in Christ’s control to experience freedom in that area.

I thought this was a powerful exercise and wrote down something I’ve been struggling with for the past several years—yes, worry. Anxious thoughts loom near, clouding my perspective and blocking enjoyment of life, but it’s time to declare my freedom from worry so I can put it behind me. Every year near Independence Day, I reflect on the various levels of freedom I’m so grateful to have, and this year I’m ready to take the leap onto the next level by handing worry straight over to God. How about you?

  • Where do you need freedom in your life?
  • What’s holding you back that you need to let go of?
  • What would your life look like if you were experienced freedom in that area?
Rest in the reassurance that whatever you need to leave behind to gain personal freedom, God can handle it.

“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure you stay free . . .” ~Galatians 5:1

Linking to: Fresh Market FridayHolley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Thrifty Chicks {Easy Breezy} Summer Dresses

Oh, yes! My $2 garage sale sundress
On vacation in my $2 summer dress

Since I grew up with a mom who loves garage sailing and thrift store shopping, I inherited the thrill of seeking deals. In fact, the challenge of saving money has driven many of my choices in life. As a result, I've learned to survive (and thrive!) as a single mom on a budget. But I don't think a limited income means a gal has to sacrifice cute clothing or pretty accessories, by any means. With the abundance of thrift, vintage, and discount stores around these days, there's no excuse to look shabby. Even if you are a single mom living on a shoestring budget, you can find deals on clothing that will make you feel great about your appearance and boost your confidence. 

Find a deal on a dress for your summer luau!
Summer is the perfect season for easy, breezy dresses you can throw on with matching earrings, hair clips, and sandals. Look out for sun dresses at your local yard sales on Saturday mornings or even Ross, where summer dresses are as low as $7.99 brand new. I found each of these summer sundresses for under $10 and now have a picking when it comes to pools, potlucks, or parties--all summer long!

I found this one at a vintage store for $5 and then wore it to a lovely luau. 
You know I can't pass up a cherry deal--$3.99 at Goodwill.
The perfect sunny dress for a cruise! Found it for $9 at a consignment shop, and then wore in on our cruise last summer. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

New Additions to My Cherry Collection

To catch you up to speed and make a long story short about my growing cherry collection, let's just say I've been a lucky girl this year and received an ample supply of cherry collectibles as a gift. Yes, what a kiss from God! That's the way I look at it. What you see here is just a portion of that lovely gift of cherry treasures I've been meaning to show everyone. For all of you cherry lovers out there like me, I wish we could have tea & scones in my kitchen on my cherry plates. But my little virtual home here on my blog will have to suffice. In the meantime, three cheers to cherries!!!

Linking to: Katherine's Corner Thursday Favorite Things

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reina's Rockin' Ribs Recipe

Say that 10 times fast. Yes, she is still at it since January. That is, cooking once a week. A few weeks back, Reina treated us to a scrumptious rib dinner with steamed veggies and sweet potato fries. The recipe is so easy that she was sold on the crock pot. We found the original recipe for ribs on, but we adapted it slightly, and you can try it yourself. Fingerlicken' goooood!

Slow Cooker Ribs 
(serves two)


  • 2 pounds baby back pork ribs, trimmed
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 onion, sliced 
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2/3 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
  1. Season ribs with salt & pepper to your preference. 
  2. Pour water into slow cooker. Place the ribs into the slow cooker. Top with onions and garlic. 
  3. Cook on High for 4 hours. 
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Transfer ribs to baking sheet, discard onions and garlic, and top with remaining BBQ sauce.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until sauce is caramelized. 


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