Thursday, April 27, 2017

Making Our House a Home

Last July, we sold our House Hunters home... it was very bittersweet, but also something that needed to be done with a new baby on the way and not enough space in our little 1,000 sq. ft. duplex. Fortunately, we found our perfect home almost immediately, had our offer accepted the next day, our duplex under contract two days later, and then moved in our new beautiful forever home!

The big moving day was August 1st (which is a story for another time -- our buyer was a nightmare, cleaners never showed, I was 7 months pregnant and just couldn't deal, etc.) and we are still working on making it our own. Things are slowly coming along and we have a few of our rooms completely finished, but there is still so much that needs to be done (especially our master bedroom, which has yet to be touched).

It's a daunting thing, isn't it -- having a family and wanting to create that perfect space for them to grow up in? I have nothing but warm and wonderful memories of my childhood home... it was such a safe and fun place, which is the exact kind of home I want for our boys. 

Over the next few months, I will be sharing the progress of our home with you: the completed rooms (living, play, theatre, and boys rooms) and the complete overhauls. To follow along, click the "House" button on the navigation bar or simply follow me on Facebook or Instagram. We look forward to sharing our home with you, our friends -- and hope that you can even give us tips and pointers along the way!

July 29th, 2016 -- the day we closed on our forever home (a 5 bedroom, 3 bath ranch with a beautiful backyard in the suburbs). 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake

As you may have noticed, I have been extra silent lately... sorry about that! I have so many ideas for this blog and can't wait to implement them, but other projects (and life in general) keep taking the driver's seat. I will share all about some of these exciting new life changes soon, but in the meantime I wanted to share the recipe for this light and airy Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake that I whipped up the other day!

Jackson (3) and I share a love of cooking shows and recently stumbled upon Food Network's Spring Baking Championship. All of the spring-themed baked goods got us both hungry and feeling creative (or so I convinced Jax), and inspired us to whip up something fruity and delicious.

Enter this cake.

Last year, my sweet friend Ashley introduced me to Young Living Essential Oils and I have recently had the urge to play around with them more and actually used Lemon Vitality in this cake! It is seriously the easiest thing ever to bake and would be the perfect dessert to serve this Mother's Day.

Without further ado, here is the recipe:


  • 1/2 cup margarine 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 drops Young Living Lemon Vitality Oil (If you don't have oil, substitute with 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Powdered sugar (for garnish)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, and milk. Mix until combined. Add flour mixture and lemon oil, and mix on low until combined. Stir in blueberries.
  4. Pour batter into greased bundt pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  5. Let cool and sprinkle with desired amount of powdered sugar. 

(Note: This cake pairs well with coffee and can even be served for breakfast!)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Easter Basket Ideas for Catholics

Easter Sunday is less than two weeks away and all I can think is "where on earth did this Lenten season go?" These peaceful 40 (technically 46) days of Lent always seem to fly by, but I have found that busy days with little ones make the time go by even faster!

If your family is like mine, you not only observe Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday (AKA the TRUE meaning of the season), but you also set out little baskets for the kids. Now the Easter Bunny, jelly beans, and stuffed eggs obviously aren't the reason for the season -- and I know a lot of good Christian families who do not observe this more secular tradition -- but my husband and I both think that it is a fun part of childhood that we want to share with our boys.

That being said, I have been on the lookout for basket stuffers that pertain to Jesus and His Catholic Church, and came across some fun gifts that you may also want to consider:

I am pretty much obsessed with these beautiful vinyl dolls from the Shining Light Dolls company! They are so pretty, colorful, and are the perfect way to introduce your littles to important saints. (Pictured is their Our Lady of Guadalupe doll.)

As I have mentioned before, I always carry a religious coloring book and crayons in our diaper bag for mass... if you are looking for something to keep your crafty kids occupied either at home or church, I recommend a coloring book like this Saints one from the Catholic Company!

If your toddler is anything like mine, he/she may enjoy playing mass at home (and crossing themselves after eating mints... or is that my Jackson?), so why not consider surprising them with a detailed mass kit like this one from Amazon

This exact rosary was gifted to my 3-year-old at his baptism and is now a favorite of both him and my 5-month-old! The beads are huge and sturdily fastened (so you don't have to worry about choking), and are an automatic favorite because of their bright colors and smooth texture. 

Talk about a gift that keeps on giving: The Mass Box is a monthly subscription box that is chock-full of crafting goodies pertaining to each Sunday's gospel reading! (You can read my honest and unsolicited review for the box here.)

For the school-aged kids in your life, I recommend checking out Raymond Arroyo's Will Wilder books, which are described by saying that "Fans of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Peter Lerangis’s Seven Wonders series will embrace this epic adventure in a rollicking new series by a New York Times bestselling author."

7.) Cat Chat CDs ($5.95 each)
My 3-year-old LOVES listening to Cat Chat CDs in the car! Not only do they provide toe-tapping tunes and easy entertainment, some of the audio CDs also tell bible stories and teach important life lessons from a Catholic perspective. (In addition to the CDs, the company also sells DVDs, books, and saint cards!)

These are my suggestions, so now it is your turn to sound off: What will you be putting in your kid's Easter baskets?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


"Well, this is going to be a fun flight."

I heard the sarcastic tone come from behind me whilst bouncing my overly tired and fussy 4-month-old on my lap.

"Excuse me, but he is just a little baby and he WILL fall asleep once we get moving!" I wanted to turn around and say to her (followed by a snarky comment about how my baby will get some sleep and be his normal happy self, but that her personality will always suck).

I bit my tongue... after all, this is probably the same thing I would have said or thought back when I was the perfect parent (pre-children, of course). As I figured, Gabriel did finally fall asleep once the plane began to move and I got a few uncomfortable minutes of sleep as well.

After a long 4 hour flight, we landed in Newark and scrambled to make it through customs, check our bags, and walk through the unorganized security check. Whilst standing in the never-ending line and being bombarded with requests to cut, my husband and I just knew that we were going to miss our connection (as our layover only lasted an hour). We felt completely frazzled and defeated, as our bag had made it on the flight but we hadn't.

We stood in the security line with our numerous bags, tired toddler, and wiggly baby for nearly an hour before finally making it to the terminal. At this point, we were walking at a snails pace and decided to just take our time, get the boys diapers changed, and grab some food before figuring out our plan.

"What flight are you on? Let me help you with your bags."

I turned.

It was a United flight attendant with a friendly smile and several bags of her own.

We thanked her for her generous offer, quickly explained out situation, and expected her to bolt to her next destination.

"I'm going to Denver," she eagerly told us, "and there are still plenty of seats available on my flight!"

She quickly grabbed the boys diaper bag from me, told us to follow her, and lead us to the Denver gate. The ladies at the desk were extremely helpful, but told us that in order to catch this flight, we would need to hustle to the nearest help desk, which Brandon did in record time.

He came back with the great news: we were on the flight. We would be going home (and only an hour later than our original flight)!

After feeling so sad and put off by such a rough day of travel, I had my faith once again restored in both the airline industry and in humanity... and all thanks to a caring flight attendant who went out of her way to carry a bag and get us on our way.

The whole experience reminded me of the importance of kindness and also made me think back to a time when Jackson was a newborn and I had a terrible Monday. I originally wrote and published the following post back in 2014, but wanted to share it again as a reminder to both myself and others to be kind to everyone, as you never know the kind of day someone may be having.

(The following post originally appeared on Annie One Can Cook on April 1, 2014):

Yesterday was definitely a Monday.. did you feel that way too?

I usually make it a point to not go out on Mondays--I have designated it as a day to just clean, do laundry & dishes, go for walk, and cuddle with Jax. However, with lots of errands to run and places to go, staying home yesterday wasn't an option. Shortly after Brandon left for work, Jax and I hopped in the car and headed out.

Our first stop was the bank.

Nothing bad happened there--in fact, the people I stood in line with were all very friendly and wanted to talk about Jax (which happens to be my favorite subject!). 

Next stop was Target.

Again, nothing too eventful--my cousin sent a gift card for Jackson so we picked up a few Easter related items  for him and some all-natural teething tabs his doctor recommended. We were in and out in about 15 minutes and all was well.. until I couldn't find our car. I kid you not, I carried our bag and Jax (in his heavy car seat) around that entire parking lot because I could not remember where I parked. 

After about 8 minutes, I finally spotted our car and we were off to Conoco to get gas. $56 later, it was time to head over to King Soopers to pick up a few groceries and mail some packages.  

Okay Colorado people, don't laugh at me.. at Dillons (which is King Soopers with a different name) you can mail packages, letters, and buy stamps, so I figured I'd be able to do that here, too. Not the case. I asked one of the very nice ladies working if there was a post office nearby and she gave me directions and sent us on our way. As we shopped around for a few groceries, a woman who wasn't paying any attention to where she was going nearly hit our cart.

"Oh, excuse me!" I said (politely, I honestly wasn't being sarcastic).

This woman looked at me and then at Jax and rolled her eyes.

Now it's one thing if you roll your eyes at me.. but when you roll your eyes at my child, it's a whole different ball park. I had to make a split second choice: do I make a scene and ask her what her problem is or do I take the high road and just keep walking.

I chose the high road--but I did mumble a few expletives as we walked away.

Once we had our groceries, it was time to head to the post office.. and that's when all hell broke loose.

At first, Jax was just fussing a little bit in the back of the car so I started talking to him and telling him we were almost finished and he calmed down.. but once we got out of the car and into the post office, he let loose and screamed. I tried to calm him in his car seat by rocking him but that wasn't working so I took him out and started bouncing with him (while I'm addressing/stuffing giant envelopes) but that just made him scream even louder--the entire line was staring at us by this point and I just wanted to climb in a hole and hide. Between the mean stares, the rude lady in the grocery store, and an inconsolable baby, I felt sad and defeated.. I was ready to curl up and start crying with Jax.

It was then I had three different people come up to me and offer to help--they were kind, understanding, and knew exactly what my heart needed. An extremely sweet, older woman ended up holding and rocking Jax for me as I addressed, filled, and mailed my packages--she was even able to get him to sleep! I wanted to hug this woman (actually, I did hug her) and invite her over for dinner; I don't think she realized that such a seemingly small gesture could mean so much to one tired mama. Her kind gesture turned my day around and I prayed for her and thanked God for bringing her into my life when I needed somebody the most. 

The moral of this story is to be kind to everyone you meet--you never know what kind of a day a stranger is having and how something as simple as a smile can turn their day around. I'm going to remember that the next time somebody rolls their eyes at me or seems completely overwhelmed at the post office and I hope you do too.

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