Behind the Blogger Facade

This post is different. It isn’t full of sunshine or sparkles. It won’t tell you how to make the perfect crafty decoration for your perfectly maintained home or how to save your money without feeling the pinch of budgeting or make you feel badly for preparing dinner from a box when you were just too dog tired to do anything else. My perfect children won’t make you feel like your parenting is lacking or something must be wrong with you. You know why? Because today I decided that , come what may, I am going to be real.

I haven’t blogged at all in months. I tried. I thought about it many times. The post ideas that I thought of that seemed “right” and on theme with my blog of being natural, frugal, and happy just felt all wrong to me. The little blurbs about a free sample of some product to send for, a way to save money, or a cutesy craft felt shallow and hypocritical because in reality, I haven’t been very thrifty. I have done very few art projects compared to what I used to and I haven’t even painted my kitchen walls in the year I have lived in this house. My house isn’t spotless and I am not wonderwoman. But, you know what, I am not complaining. There is nothing shameful with being imperfect or with sometimes making mistakes. In the blog world it is SO easy to see the shiny side of everyone else. After all, the only side of a blogger that we see is what they choose to share. The same holds true for Facebook and other social media. If you don’t want to share your shortcomings, you don’t need to.Sometimes that is nice because you can be the best you possible, the you that you want to be anyways. Nobody need ever know that you burnt dinner last night or that your laundry pile is so huge you can’t find 2 socks that match today. But along with that benefit comes the fact that strong, competent, amazing women don’t feel like they measure up. And that is not ok with me. So, here I am , admitting for everyone to see that I am far from perfect (everyone who actually knows me is nodding, smiling and agreeing).

I love the fact that we can encourage each other by what we post and share online. There are thousands of resources available for us with the typing of just a few words into Google…recipes, crafts, fashions, fixes for about any problem we can come up with. The downside is that perfectly normal women end up feeling like LESS. They feel like they don’t measure up or that they should have tried harder. Women who raise children with love and security feel like their parenting is falling short. Women whose bodies have carried and nurtured babies want to cover their beauty because it doesn’t look like that model who isn’t really that thin anyways.I am not only talking about Hollywood. We all know that those “stars” aren’t realistic and that their lives are often in shambles because they spend so much time keeping up appearances. What is needling me is that we can sign on the web and find blog after blog of women who are supposed to be just like us who are only presenting their best side. I have been guilty of that, and maybe you have too. We don’t want to complain or seem discouraging, so we don’t share the struggles. But you know, it’s OK to feel discouraged once and awhile. It’s alright to be REAL and to admit that people have problems. It doesn’t make us less because we admit it, it makes us stronger. There exists such potential to uplift one another through our comments and our posts, but there is also an opportunity to conceal and compare. I whole heartedly give you permission to come talk to me and be exactly who you are. God doesn’t turn away in disgust when we fall short, so why should be do that to ourselves? He lifts us up, brushes off and sets us back on the path. So do true friends. How much better could we make the internet if we are more like that?

I have come to a place in my life where I just need to be ME. It may be considered shallow, wrong, negative, or any number of things, but from here on out this is the real me. I want a place to share my life, my joys,my triumphs, my happiness, but also a place where I can be open when the sky just looks grey. This blog has been silent because I haven’t been sure how to put myself into it…and without that, it seems to be useless. So, in the future , things around here will be real. I may loose every single reader because it may change into something that nobody finds useful. But, I will be here. My goals, my failings, my successes, my random ramblings, and my honesty. I want to share with you all, but it has to be genuine. So, feel free to step back from my blog if you want, but I prefer you to stick around and be real with me.

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Fast and Yummy Chocolate Cake in an Mug

IMG 20131123 1717032 169x300 Fast and Yummy Chocolate Cake in an MugSome days call for chocolate cake. Some demand a fast fix. This sweet little recipe is the best of both worlds. Grab your coffee mugs, a fork, and some basic ingredients to whip up this delightful little treat.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter

Chocolate chips (about 1/4 cup)

1 egg

3and 1/2 tablespoons of milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

2 tablespoons self-rising flour (you can make this by mixing 1 cup flour with 3/4 teaspoon baking powder)

Directions:

Melt the butter in a large mug. Whisk in the egg. Add the  milk, vanilla, sugar, cocoa, and flour. Mix well and divide into 2 mugs. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips in each mug.  Microwave each for 2 minutes, remove and enjoy!

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Free Minion Rush Game App

 

 Free Minion Rush Game App Free Minion Rush Game App
Maybe it’s because I have 3 goofy boys, but the minions from Despicable Me are considered super cool around my house. I can’t wait to show my kiddos this new Android app that I just downloaded for free, Despicable Me: Minion Rush Free Minion Rush Game App .
They have seen this game before on someone else’s device and loved it, so I am saving it for when boredom sets in at basketball practice tonight. You can download it for free,too. It will definitely be good for a few giggles!

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread Recipe

 

GFPB1 300x217 Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread Recipe


As you may know, my oldest son has a gluten allergy. That has been especially hard for him when he sees his favorite treats being enjoyed by other people. I have tried to compensate by making as many of his favorites as I can in a gluten free form, but that just doesn’t work very well with most breads. I have found that quick breads with rich flavors of their own are the easiest to recreate without sacrificing the taste that we know and love. Too many gluten free breads are also crumbly and dry. This pumpkin bread recipe is a new favorite because it is both scrumptious and moist. We can barely tell the difference between “traditional” and GF!

Here it is: (or go straight to the printable version without reading the rest of this post)

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread 

Ingredients:
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup oil
1 3/4 cup gluten free flour blend
1 teaspoon xantham gum or guar gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/3 cup water or milk
Mix dry ingredients. Add pumpkin and eggs. Add oil and
water/milk. Mix well. Pour batter into 2 greased loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes depending on size of
loaf pans. Tops of bread will be domed and toothpick will
come out clean when finished baking. Let cool, then place on
cooling racks. Bread is very moist, so cutting when cool
works best.

The printable form of this recipe is HERE.

Note: The gluten free flour blend I reference can be one you create yourself, or one that you purchase. If you are new to GF baking, buying one (I like Bob’s Red Mill GF flour blend) may be easier. If you want to blend your own, I suggest equal parts of several different flours (rice, tapioca, quinoa, fava bean,etc) to get a more well rounded flavor and texture. The xantham or guar gum helps the texture to be less crumbly.

I really hope that this can help other families enjoy their fall favorites this year. Please, let me know what you think!

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Great Wolf Lodge discounts today!

GWL 300x147 Great Wolf Lodge discounts today!

My little family loves to visit indoor water parks during the cooler months, but we have never been to a Great Wolf Lodge. The prices are usually quite a bit more than other water parks, so we have previously chosen the more economical weekend get away options. However, I am getting ready to go over to Zulily and purchase a one night stay at Great Wolf. They are offering a discount for Friday night or a deeper discount for Sunday through Thursday nights. There are no Saturday offers that I can find. I plan to snag a Friday, spend the night on a Friday evening and play all day Saturday. The rooms are super nice, kid friendly, and come with water park passes for the family. Judging by the amount of shares I am seeing in my news feed, this deal may sell out before it is set to expire. If anyone has any feedback on Great Wolf, feel free to comment and let me know what we have to look forward to!

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Free Ethiopian Coffee at Starbucks tomorrow!

For all of fellow Starbucks lovers out there, or even if you just want a free cup of coffee, head to Starbucks tomorrow 9/29/2013 to try their new Ethiopian coffee. It’s free for everyone all day,and would be a nice after church treat! Enjoy!

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Free St Patrick’s Day Memory Game app

I am all for enjoying a holiday, but I hate to spend money on a holiday app because after the day passes, the app isn’t as appealing and the money is wasted. So, I was glad to find a St. Patrick’s Day app for my android devices for free. Ya!

 Free St Patricks Day Memory Game app  Free St Patricks Day Memory Game app

Memory: St. Patricks Day Free St Patricks Day Memory Game app

This is a cute little game to spread the leprechaun love. icon smile Free St Patricks Day Memory Game app

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FREE apps for kids on your Android device!

Here in the midwest, another winter storm is howling around the trees an sending us all scurrying indoors. As these last (hopefully) few weeks of winter play themselves out, I am looking to my tablet and phone to provide the little ones with entertainment. They are just as ready for spring as I am, if not more so!

I assume my family is not the only with spring fever, so I rounded up a list of a few kid apps – all 100% FREE. Hopefully it can save you some sanity!

 

 FREE apps for kids on your Android device! FREE apps for kids on your Android device!

IstoryBooks is an app with interactive storybooks . It’s really cute and the kids like to be involved with their story.
 FREE apps for kids on your Android device! FREE apps for kids on your Android device!
Fishes Puzzles for Toddlers and Kids FREE FREE apps for kids on your Android device! – great for toddlers and pre-k age kids. Allows them to figure the puzzles out “all by themselves” by matching the ocean creatures to their shadow shapes.You can try it out on your computer  before downloading,as well.

 FREE apps for kids on your Android device! FREE apps for kids on your Android device!
TooTooNi! Trains, cars & planes for kids-  FREE apps for kids on your Android device!an educational app with 10 fun games to help kids learn while playing, plus enough variety that they don’t get bored easily. This one has games from painting with their fingers to music, connect the dots, and building blocks.

 FREE apps for kids on your Android device! FREE apps for kids on your Android device!
Math Fun for Kids  FREE apps for kids on your Android device! – a good choice for older kids who need or want a little practice with their math skills.  This app spans math skills from adding & subtracting to multiplication up to the 12x tables. It has an option to try it on your computer before downloading it to your device.

 FREE apps for kids on your Android device! FREE apps for kids on your Android device!
Connect the dot – Vehicle FREE apps for kids on your Android device! – great for little boys who love planes, trains, and cars. They connect the dots, then get the verification that they did it correctly when the shape pops out at completion. A great way to give them a sense of accomplishment while playing.

I hope this helps someone else who has active little ones! I would love to hear about any android apps that your kids love. I have ages 4-10, so varied ages and interests. What is your favorite app currently?

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Egg Muffin Recipe – quick, easy, low carb !

We all have hectic mornings, right?  Those rushed breakfast times leave little time for variety and it becomes all too easy to reach for a carb filled convenience food. I don’t want to feed “junk” to my kids, so I am always on the look out for a nutritious breakfast that is also quick and easy A Pinterest search returned several recipes for egg muffins. I decided to give them a try this morning. These little egg muffins turnd out to be easy, fairly fast to prepare, and all 3 of my boys ate them. So, I snapped a few pics on my tablet to share with you!

To make these little breakfast goodies, start with a greased or lined muffin tin. You can make as many or as few as you wish.

IMG 20130223 0037483 300x225 Egg Muffin Recipe   quick, easy, low carb !

Bacon Crumbles

I put some bacon on the bottom of the muffin liner. You could also use any other breakfast meat your family enjoys,or leave it out altogether. That’s the beauty of these egg muffins, you choose what you like.

IMG 20130223 0039171 300x228 Egg Muffin Recipe   quick, easy, low carb !

I added some salsa.

For the next bit I added some salsa to a few of the muffin cups. I left it out of the ones for my youngest kids.

IMG 20130223 0040061 300x258 Egg Muffin Recipe   quick, easy, low carb !

Shredded cheddar cheese for the next layer.

I grated some fresh cheddar into each cup on top of the bacon & salsa. It is cheddar even though it isn’t orange, by the way. It’s organic and raw, so the orange coloring hasn’t been added to it. icon smile Egg Muffin Recipe   quick, easy, low carb !

IMG 20130223 0042451 300x205 Egg Muffin Recipe   quick, easy, low carb !

Then add the eggs

I scrambled one egg for each muffin cup , poured it on top and then put the tin in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Just check to see if it is done with a toothpick or knife. If it comes out clean when you pull it out of the center of a muffin, they are ready to eat!

IMG 20130223 0044001 300x215 Egg Muffin Recipe   quick, easy, low carb !

Egg Muffins ready to eat!

Then plate them and a complete breakfast is on the table! I apologize for the quality of this last pic. I didn’t have time for staging a nice photo because it was time to get the kids ready for school. However, the general idea is there!

A couple of tips for this recipe: don’t over cook. Dry egg muffins aren’t nearly as good as the correctly baked ones. Also, If you use paper liners, more egg gets left behind when you peel it. I found that a greased muffin tin yields a nicer shape and prevents you from peeling wrappers for little hands. After all, every minute is valuable in a busy morning, right?

How do you save time without skimping on a healthy breakfast in the morning?

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TOMS shoe sale on Zulily- stock added!

TOMS 013001D10 RED 1361386073 TOMS shoe sale on Zulily  stock added!

image credit: Zulily and TOMS

You have probably heard of Zulily. I have, many times, but I just made my first purchase yesterday. Just in case you missed it,  Zulily a discount buying site similar to Groupon. You get  new deals on things like clothes, shoes, beauty products, and toys every day and sometimes they are really nice products for a price that you can’t find elsewhere. You can also refer friends to earn credit to your accout (but I think that most everyone is already signed up, so don’t count on that).

TOMS 013002D11 AGIRA 1360803858 TOMS shoe sale on Zulily  stock added!

image credit: Zulily and TOMS

Yesterday I saw someone comment about the TOMS shoes currently for sale on Zulily for adults and kiddos. So, I went over to look and found this adorable pair of toddler TOMS for my little guy. They are so cute and have little giraffes all over them. There weren’t any that I cared for in my size or for my older kids, so I didn’t bother to mention the deal here. BUT ,today there are a ton of new styles of TOMS added to the stock and I think it is worth taking a look!

Here is my referral link if you are new to Zulily and want to give me credit. If you prefer to keep your referrals to yourself, here is a link that doesn’t give me credit. Either way, these shoes are so cute, very “green” and quite on trend. It’s worth a look to see if they strike your fancy.

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