Take a Moment to UNPLUG!

Unplug.No more excuses. Just do it!Take time during summer vacations to unplug. Go somewhere without wifi or even phone service. We camp frequently and some of my favorite camping spots are those where we can be completely

unplugged.

Vacations are meant for uninterrupted time with family, for making memories, and opportunities for God to bless you beyond measure.

Families need to get back to the basics of reading books,

playing board games, staying up late laughing, going on long walks,

enjoying God’s creation,

discovering and learning together.Time passes so very quickly, and moments spent staring at a screen can never be retrieved. Once they are gone, they are either wasted or embraced.

We want God to bless us with miracles and abundant blessings. He does this every day, yet at the end of the day we feel empty but full of regret for the moments we let slip by us. No electronic device can give you what you long for.Think ahead to the future and what types of devices your future generations will hold in their hands. Do you want your children and grandchildren to rely on the power that drains their family, or do you want them to thrive on the power of God and leading their families, making memories, and seizing the day? You set the example. They aren’t going to do what you say. They are going to do what you do. You have to make a choice to intentionally unplug the lifeless electronics and plug your heart into your family and all of the precious treasures God has in store for you and your family. They are only young once. Before you know it, you’ll be like me: wondering where the time is going as my second child graduates high school…

Please, UNPLUG! It’s one of the most powerful, rewarding, fulfilling decisions you will ever make.

All Natural Granola Bar Recipe

Granola bars are a staple in our home.  My children think they are the perfect snack, and I do too. They are a combination of savory and sweet, are convenient for on-the-go snacking, and the can be healthy when they contain the right ingredients. Today, I’m sharing my recipe for all natural granola bars over on the Raising Homemakers blog. Visit here for the recipe.

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Shielding Your Family from This Season’s Germs

As a family of six, whenever we are exposed to viruses we try to take as many precautions as we can to prevent the spread of germs. We have our routine preventative measures, but we also employ extra methods to prevent the spread of germs. Otherwise, it is going to run its course through our entire home and can take a month or more to leave us.

One thing we do on a regular basis is keep our toothbrushes covered with those plastic covers. I use natural toothpaste that is white and my toothbrush cover is also white so when I see it looking a little dirty, it disgusts me. I disinfect and clean it often, but I always worry about germs that may be lurking on it and jumping onto my toothbrush. I mean, that kinda defeats the who purpose.
toothbrushes

Recently, I was introduced to IntelliDent Toothbrush Shields. They are made of breathable material that allows your toothbrush to dry. These sleeves simply slide down right over the head of your toothbrush. They are actually disposable, so you don’t have to take the time to disinfect them.

My children really appreciated not having to try to turn they plastic covers a certain way to lock them into place. There is no wrong side of the toothbrush shields, so they are able to just slip them over the toothbrush and go.

They are tested and proven to be effective for up to seven days, so you don’t have to use a new one each day. They are compact which makes them easy to store in our already crowded bathrooms, and they work well for travel.

I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy it when I am able to let go of some tasks and worries. It’s been nice to not have to clean my old plastic toothbrush cover. It’s been even nicer not to worry about germs that might be trapped or growing on the plastic holders and as a result all of our toothbrushes and into our bodies.

They also have mouthpiece shields that work well for retainers. My oldest wears a retainer every night. She attends college and works in the food industry. She brings home lots of germs, so having a mouthpiece shield gives peace of mind as well. Plastic retainer keepers containers can be disgusting.

I highly recommend IntelliDent Shields. If you’d like more information about them, you can contact them directly at info@toothbrushshield.com or on their website.

To prevent the spread of germs, we use preventives and immunity boosters through essential oils and other natural sources. We always keep a safe distance from anyone in our home who is sick. We make sure we keep our children home when they are sick and don’t share germs with others.  We don’t eat or drink after each other. We don’t eat off of the ground or floor. I know everyone says a little dirt never hurt anyone, but that is just disgusting. Do you realize how much animal feces and bacteria we step on outside and then bring inside our home from our shoes onto our floors. You can get hook worms and other parasites from these nasty practices and many times not know it until you become very sick. These can also be spread to your family members. Ultimately, we try to provide a clean environment for our family to prevent as much sickness as possible.

I pray you and your family practice good hygiene, take measures to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs, and that you have a healthy season!

*I have not received compensation for this post, but I did receive IntelliDent Toothbrush Shields to review.

Ham and Spinach Breakfast Casserole – THM S

Quick, easy, one-dish meals are such a blessing! Wednesdays are pretty busy for our family. They usually consist of school, archery club, piano lessons and visit from my awesome uncle, and church. There is only a small window of time to cook dinner, so I’m always looking for meals that take very little prep and cook time and clean up. Because they are easy, scrambled eggs and bacon are a regular on Wednesday nights for us. Although my family could eat bacon every single day of the week, scrambled eggs can get old quickly.

This week, I had some delicious leftover ham, and I got the bright idea to make a breakfast casserole. My sweet husband, children, and I devoured the whole thing.

ham and spinach breakfast casserole watermarked

Ham and Spinach Breakfast Casserole

Serves 6-8 THM S

12 eggs

½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt

2 tsp salt

Pepper to taste

1 tsp Onion powder

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

¼ cup feta cheese

1 cup chopped spinach

1lb diced ham

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, yogurt, salt, pepper, and onion powder. Add cheeses, chopped spinach, and ham. Stir until mixed well. Pour into a greased 11×9 casserole dish. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes. For the Trim Healthy Mama plan, serve with ½ cup of berries and/or sautéed veggies.

It only dirties a dish or two, and the prep time is quick as well. On a busy evening, you can just shove it in the oven and let it cook while you get ready for church, or take care of some other mom duties. You can serve it up on paper plates to make the cleanup even easier. That’s my kind of meal!

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Are You Embracing the New Year?

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I cannot believe another year has passed. It seems like I was just celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2015 with my family. I don’t know where the time has gone. I don’t usually embrace aging or my children growing older, but I have a fresh outlook this year. Read about it in my post over at Raising Homemakers. Happy 2017 everyone! Love and blessings to you in the New Year!

Names of Jesus Ornaments with Christmas Devotions

christmas-ornaments-watermarkedIn years past we’ve used a Jesse Tree and devotions during the Christmas season.  A few years ago I was pinning some of my favorite Christmas crafts I came across a picture of some beautifully crafted glass ornaments with the names of Jesus on them.  I repinned the post and read later (like most of us do when we are short on time).  I really liked this idea, because I ADORE anything that reminds me of all of the names of my precious Jesus.  I also liked the idea that each of my children could make their own set of ornaments to celebrate the advent season.  Not only could they use them to decorate their own trees in their rooms, but they could also keep them over the years and share them with their children.

I began researching and found an awesome Names of Jesus unit study here from the Easy Fun School website.  It teaches 24 names of Jesus, scripture, handwriting pages, word searches, and activities for each subject which are tied to the lesson.  The study actually includes a list of all of the names of Jesus so you can study even more. We did this study and made these ornaments years ago, but my children still use these today and they plan to use their ornaments in their own home some day.

To create our Names of Jesus ornaments and Bible study, I went to my craft closet and gathered all of my supply bins.  I purchased sets of fillable glass ornaments for each child (and one for myself).  I would get extra in case some break.  You can also purchase acrylic ornaments, but they are more costly.

You could utilize paint pens in black, gold and silver to write the names of Jesus and the scripture reference on the outside of the ornaments or you could purchase vinyl decals here.

There are lots of options for decorating the ornaments:

  1. You could pour a small amount of paint into the inside of the ornament, cover the whole and shake. You can also swirl a few colors into the ornaments to give them a marbelized effect. Then be sure to turn the ornament upside down and put it into a bathroom sized paper or plastic cup to drain for a day or two.
  2. I love the look of glittered ornaments, but glitter on the outside is extremely messy. Polycrylic is a clean and beautiful way to glitter ornaments. Simply pour a little polycrylic into the ornament and immediately turn the ornament upside down into a cup to drain out the excess. Then sprinkle a little of your favorite color glitter into the ornament and slowly turn the ornament around in your hands to coat the entire inside with glitter. Add more if needed. Then turn the ornament upside down into another cup to allow the excess glitter to sprinkle out. Then you can immediately put your top back into your ornament. You can pour your excess glitter and polycrylic from your cups back into their respective containers. e of the ornaments, squirt small amounts of paint inside and shake.  You can swirl more than one color inside as well.
  3. Fill ornaments with trinkets that pertain to the scripture reference. For example, for “Bright and Morning Star” we filled our ornament with star confetti. We didn’t completely fill our ornaments with trinkets as sometimes that makes the label on the outside difficult to read. You can also see the trinkets better as well.

You can easily fill ornaments with sweet trinkets. However, I found that it could be quite pricey to fill them completely so I only fill ours half way to be thrify. It also makes it easier to see the trinkets when there is still room inside the ornament. Be creative with your trinkets. If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas:

1. Alpha & Omega–fill with cutouts of the Alpha & Omega symbol.
2. Wonderful Counselor–fill with paint or glitter or beads or filler.
3. Mighty God–fill with cutouts of barbels or gold ball filler or beads.
4. Everlasting Father–fill with artificial pine needles or paint green for evergreens.
5. Prince of Peace–fill with dove confetti or cutouts of doves or crowns or artificial snow filler.
6. The Firstborn of Every Creature– Fill ornament with birthday candles or birthday confetti.
7. The Unspeakable Gift–we made cutouts of gifts using small construction paper or gift-shaped confetti or little bows.
8. Lamb of God–fill with cotton or fiberfill.
9. The Good Shepherd-fill with cutouts of shepherd staffs or mini candy canes.
10. Bright & Morning Star-fill with star-shaped sequins.
11. Messiah–glitter or paint.
12. Immanuel–another filled with paint, glitter, sequins, or beads.
13. Holy–glitter or paint.
14. Light of the World–mini light ornaments or mini light bulbs (just be sure they will fit in the hole of the ornament).

15. Dayspring–glitter or gold, pink, orange paint to represent the colors of a sunrise.
16. The Word–In small font, I printed John 1:1 on paper, cut out multiple, curl, and put inside ornament or Bible confetti.
17. Servant–I printed a small picture of Jesus washing the disciples feet and put inside ornament or paint/glitter.
18. King–Fill with gems or crowns.
19. Rose of Sharon–Fill with real or silk rose petals.
20. Lily of the Valley–Fill with silk lily petals, paint or glitter.
21. Friend–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.
22. Savior–Fill with cutout crosses or cross shaped beads
23. Shiloh–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.
24. Ancient of Days–Fill with paint, glitter, sequins or beads.

When your ornaments are all dry you can store them in their box or put them in a bowl, etc.  You can begin utilizing them in whatever fashion works for your family.  We started on December 1st and will follow the study daily for 24 days as a family during our night time devotions, but this is a unit study so you could actually use it during your homeschool day.  During our devotions, we study the name and verse.  We have chosen activities from each day to do together as a family.  Then we close in prayer and each of us puts our ornament of the day on the tree.  Sometimes we put them on the tree. Other years we put them in a crystal bowl or wooden box on our table so we can reflect on the names each time we pass through or sit down to eat in the heart of our home.

If you need simplicity this Christmas season, you can purchase a set of 12 Names of Jesus ornaments here. They come with printed scripture reference and prayer focus. I pray your family is able to utilize this and other ways to enjoy celebrating Jesus throughout the Christmas season.

It’s a Farmhouse Christmas

christmas-collage-blog-watermarkedRustic, practical, functional, natural, peaceful, relaxing–a farmhouse is a lovely setting during the Christmas season. No, I haven’t moved, but it is my dream to own a farmhouse one day. I long to live out in the tranquil country surrounded by God’s creation. One day I will, but for now our family resides in a home for which we are very grateful.
This year I decided I didn’t want to wait to enjoy a farmhouse atmosphere, especially during the busy Christmas season. I am determined to slow down this year and enjoy the true meaning of the season. We start the season saying this every year, but we get wrapped up in the decorations, shopping, programs, parties, all of the hustle and bustle. Before we know it, it’s New Year’s Day and our whole season has wrapped up in a whirlwind that leaves our heads spinning.

In keeping with typical farmhouse style, I decided to streamline and simplify our decor this year. This serves a practical purpose as well as a spiritual one. Not only does it mean less decorating, but we don’t have as much to clean around every day. Functional but beautiful, simple but profound–that is farmhouse style. This year for our home and our spirits, it’s a farmhouse Christmas.
christmas-collage-blog-3-watermarkedRead more about our simple farmhouse Christmas in my guest post on Raising Homemakers here.

 

Simple, Inexpensive, and Last Minute Decorating Ideas for Fall

Where has the time gone? I cannot believe that just three short weeks from now it will be Thanksgiving. We start decorating for Christmas on Black Friday. I feel a little overwhelmed, because I just finished decorating for fall. If you are like me, you’ve just been too busy to even think about preparing for the holidays. Then just last week we realized it is our turn to host Thanksgiving with our extended family, and now my head is really spinning.

We have a tight budget and a tight schedule this year. I recently started a new business, and since it is in its new stages it is taking quite a bit of time and it’s not generating quite enough income yet as I am using the business funds to grow the business.treasured-sparrow-designs-pAfter thinking and praying about it, I decided to decorate in simple ways that do not put much pressure on me, my schedule, or my budget.planner

For our porch, I simply pulled out my trusty Hobby Lobby garland from years past to adorn the door. I also used the wreath I made a few years ago–if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
fall-porch-pumpkin

I decided not to move the ferns and just slid my outdoor table over near the door for an inexpensive pumpkin. I was creating pumpkin decals for the store, so I made one referencing one of my favorite verses that would fit for the entire fall and Thanksgiving season. You can visit the Treasured Sparrow Designs store here.

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God’s creation is beautiful this time of year, and there is no better way to decorate than with His natural treasures. Nature is free for your enjoyment and as well as crafting/decorating. Take a moment to walk around your yard and gather leaves, pinecones, acorns, nuts. Utilize this beauty to fill boxes, jars, and scatter them around your home.

I used dry leaves and dried hydrangea to fill this lantern.

fall-lantern

My sweet son gathered some acorns from our backyard for this natural touch to our bar.

fall-acorns

I wish I had time to make garland with leaves, but I just didn’t so I used more inexpensive garland from one of the craft stores. You could also use dollar store garland, but I would suggest filling it in with pinecones and leaves from your yard or even just purchasing extra strands of garland and doubling or tripling them to make them fuller.  A few leaves fell off of my trusty old garland, so I scattered the leaves on tables in the entry way and in our china cabinet.

fall-china

I also had some old dishes I purchased to display in the china cabinet, but you could also just purchase solid white plates from the dollar store and cut your own vinyl decals for wording or order decals from a vinyl designer. Most of them customize and can make whatever you desire.

fall-dish

I purchased a small bag of mini pumpkins from the store and filled my favorite box with them. Burlap, dry leaves, and pinecones add a nice touch as well.

fall-box-2016

I’ve told you before how words touch my heart, so I created some of these signs that are not specifically Halloween or thanksgiving or even fall, but can be used throughout the year. I used wood, stain, paint, wire, ribbon, and of course I made handmade vinyl lettering and graphics for the signs as well. If you need quick and easy décor, you can purchase door and wall hangings like these here.

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These decorations may not feature in Southern Lady magazine, but they add subtle touches of God’s fall creation, and they are simple. They will be easy to pack up in a few weeks when the Christmas season begins.

Now that my home is decorated, I’m hoping to slow down and “sit a spell” (as my sweet grandmama would say) so I can enjoy the sights and smells of the season and all the gratefulness it brings.

Where Have I Been?

tsI bet you’re wondering where I have been lately. Well, I’ll be honest with you–I’ve been in a juggling act. I’ve turned a hobby into a business for my family. I could say it all started last Christmas, but it really started further back than that…

Words are very important to me as they mean so very much. I’ve always enjoyed anything with words, crossword puzzles, word searches, reading, writing, spelling, music lyrics, monograms, poetry, and quotations. I believe that love for words came from my sweet grandmother, who raised me. As a wife and homeschooling mommy, I incorporate words into our daily life through lovingly communicating with and teaching my family, decorating our home with words of encouragement and scripture, and blogging.

My husband and children, knowing my love for words, crafting, and designing, purchased a vinyl cutter for me for Christmas. I’ve been working on all sorts of projects. I have been blessed with all sorts of design ideas through my relationship with Jesus, my family, and my friends, I decided to us this gift as a blessing to others and my family. I’ve opened up an Etsy store:treasured-sparrow-designs-p

And the rest is history…

So, what does this mean for my blog?!? Well, it means that I will have more creative and crafting ideas to share, and silly stories of my adventures with vinyl like the time I went to church with a piece of vinyl stuck on my neck–it gets EVERYWHERE!

I’m still trying to find a way to balance it all. I don’t feel led to quit blogging, so I’m sure The Lord will help me work out my schedule. In the meantime, I’ll just keep plugging along. Stay tuned for more tips on working from home, crafting, blogging, and motherhood while searching for rubies amidst all of the ruckus!

Love and Blessings!