February 2016 Visiting Teaching Message

This month’s message is called Marriage is Ordained of God and there were several wonderful quotes to choose from.  Besides the one I picked for the handout I also loved this quote from Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, “Everyone, no matter what their marital circumstance or number of children, can be defenders of the Lord’s plan described in the family proclamation. If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan!”  That last sentence stuck out to me especially.  “If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan.”  It couldn’t be any plainer or more simple to understand and can apply to every aspect of our lives.

Here is the handout for you to take to the ladies you visit teach or send it to them in the mail or through email.  I hope having a little handout helps you as you complete this inspired assignment!

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February 2016 Visiting Teaching Handout

Valentine’s Display and Decor

You all know I love a good project and enjoy doing all sorts of fun crafts for the holidays.  But it is also kind of nice when I go to decorate and find that I don’t need to do any crafting because I have enough decor to put together a look already!  That is what happened with my Valentine’s display.  I picked up a few things at Hobby Lobby because they were cute and when I came home to put it all together I found I had plenty to decorate my piano.  I wish I could say that the time I would have spent crafting was able to be turned into time reading a book on the couch but let’s be honest.  I have two busy, little kids.  I don’t know when the last time I opened a book was.  More likely I took that extra bit of time and used it to scrape dried baby food off of our kitchen table and chairs.  Such a glamorous life I lead.  :)

Red and White Valentine's Display and Decor

I don’t expect anyone to really remember this, but if you pay extreme attention to detail you would notice that the floral arrangement in the vase is the same one I used at Christmas, just with the gray berries removed.  Super easy!


The cute heart banner came from Hobby Lobby, as did the red bottles and the tall red candle.  The bottles and the candle were in the Christmas clearance section for 80% off so you better believe I snagged those right up.  I’ll definitely be able to use them for more than just this holiday.

Red and White Valentine's Display and Decor

I love this little red heart plate I found a couple of years ago at a thrift store.  It was so cute that I couldn’t resist.  Everything else I already had around my house.


And a big thank you to Yellow Bliss Road for the adorable print.  It is perfect and she offers it for free in several sizes!

Red and White Valentine's Display and DecorHope you enjoyed this peek at my Valentine’s Day decor!  I’d love to see yours so free feel to send me an email.  Reading messages from my followers is one of my favorite things!

Red and White Valentine's Display and Decor

If Kisses Were Snowflakes…

I think something happened to my calendar because when I looked at it I saw that Christmas was one week away.  That can’t be right.  Somehow the dates must have gotten all mixed up because I know I have more time than one week.  Right?  Anybody else feel this way?

I’m not ready for the season to be over!  We have been busy (like super busy) but it has been the wonderful kind of busy.  Spending time with family and friends and taking part in all the wonderful things this time of year has to offer.

Christmas Season Fun

I know that you have to be as busy as I am so I have a little gift idea that is really quick and easy to put together if you want to give a treat to someone special.  All you need is some Hershey kisses and a bag or jar to put them in, then print this tag and you are all set!

Free Printable Kisses and Snowflakes Treat TagI love the candy cane kisses that come out at this time of year.  I could eat a whole bag all on my own if I’m not careful.  I may have snuck a couple of these for myself while I was taking pictures.  :)

Free Printable Snowflakes and Kisses Treat Tag

Download the PDF

As busy as we all are I think it is still important to take a few minutes to make the important people in our lives feel special, and this is one quick and easy way to do it!

Christmas Decorating & Free Printable

This holiday season will be known as the Great Decoration De-Cluttering of 2015.  When it came time to decorate for Christmas I sat down in my living room with my boxes of decor around me and made three piles: one to donate, one to throw away, and one to keep.  I went through with a pretty detailed eye and if it was worn, faded, falling apart, or a style that I no longer liked then away it went.  And at the end I was really surprised at how small the keep pile was.  I definitely got rid of a lot more than I had planned on but I wasn’t sad to say goodbye to any of it.  This will be our 10th Christmas together so it makes sense that some of the decor needs to be updated.  And since I had such a small keep pile I basically got to start from scratch.   So of course off to Pinterest I went for some inspiration!  It may seem weird but I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for when I saw this picture of blankets.

Christmas Decoration InspirationThe words that came to my mind right away were cozy, winter, snow, and holidays.  I loved the colors and the textures in the plaid and different fabrics.  I had found my new Christmas decorating theme!  The only problem is my budget doesn’t really allow for me to go out and buy a houseful of new decor.  :)  So I’m starting small.  I bought a few new simple things and just decorated a couple of small spots in my house.  I plan on hitting the after Christmas sales and slowly but surely rebuilding my stock.  One area that I decorated is our entry way table with a print I designed inspired by the blanket picture.

Christmas decorating and free North Pole Sleigh Company print from Darling Doodles

The berries in the white vase all came from the Dollar Tree and you might recognize the fluffy white and red Christmas trees from this post.  And the snowflake vases are from Walmart and the frame and lantern I already had.  That pretty much consists of my decoration shopping this year.  I told you I was starting small.  :)

Christmas decorating and free North Pole Sleigh Company print from Darling Doodles

And of course here is the print!  Feel free to download it and use it in our own home if you like.  I had mine printed up at Costco at 8×10.

Free North Pole Sleigh Company Printable from Darling Doodles Free North Pole Sleigh Company Printable from Darling DoodlesDownload the PDF

North Pole Sleigh CompanyI shared this picture of our tree on my Instagram account a couple of nights ago.  One of my very favorite things about this season is the warm glow from a Christmas tree.

Christmas decorating and free North Pole Sleigh Company print from Darling DoodlesThe other part of our house that is decorated is the most important part.  On top of our piano we have our beautiful nativity my parents gave us when we were first married.  I love this set so much.

Christmas Decorating with Darling DoodlesAnd next to the piano is our collection of small nativities that we add to every year.

Christmas decorating and free North Pole Sleigh Company print from Darling Doodles

In a way I am really liking the simplicity of the decor with the main focus being on our nativities and thus on Christ’s birth.  Which is exactly how it should be.

Mac n’ Cheesy…Easy Peasy!

A few weeks ago I had an impromptu girls night at my house with one of my friends.  During our phone conversation before she came over we found out that neither one of us had eaten dinner yet.  And it was already 8:00 pm.  The things we moms sacrifice for our kids, right?!  I told her not to worry about it, I would throw something on the stove and we could eat together.  As soon as I hung up the phone I opened my pantry doors and thought, “Oh crap.  Now what?”  I quickly assembled a dinner in the 15-20 minutes before she arrived and as we sat on the couch eating, my friend said, “I need to learn how to cook more fancy recipes like this.  This is really good.”

I wanted to laugh out loud.  My fancy recipe was…..boxed macaroni and cheese.  *GASP!*  Yes, it is true.  We occasionally eat mac n’ cheese in this house.  I know that thought horrifies some people but come on.  There are just some nights where having a quick and easy dinner you can pull out of a box saves my sanity.  I do, however, have a few tricks to make an easy dinner seem like it wasn’t quite so easy to prepare.  Here are my favorite ways to dress up boxed macaroni and cheese and create a “fancy” meal.

3 Simple Ways to Dress Up Boxed MacN CheeseMy favorite brand to use is Annie’s.  I think they taste the best out of the different options but you can obviously use whichever kind you prefer!

3 Simple Ways to Dress Up Boxed MacN Cheese

The first “recipe” adds steamed broccoli and toasted bread crumbs to the Shells & Real Aged Cheddar.  While the water is boiling/noodles cooking I throw some frozen broccoli in the steamer and then toast the bread crumbs in some melted butter.  For one box of macaroni I melt 1 teaspoon of butter in a small pan and stir in 3 tablespoons of bread crumbs.  Then I just let them saute, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and slightly crispy.

Mix the broccoli into the pasta and then sprinkle the top with your toasted bread crumbs and a handful of cheddar cheese.  Seriously, yum.  I honestly don’t know why adding two little ingredients makes such a big difference but it is really good.  And my two year old will chow down on it, broccoli included.  That’s a win right there.

3 Simple Ways to Dress Up Boxed MacN CheeseThe next variation uses the Shells & White Cheddar and adds peas and shredded chicken.  Chicken tenderloins cook faster than chicken breasts so I prefer to use those if I’m in a hurry.  (Or if you’re really pressed for time there is no shame in using canned chicken.  I won’t tell!)  Take 3 or 4 tenderloins and season each side with some salt and pepper.  Place them in a foil lined baking dish and bake at 425 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.  While that is baking cook your noodles!  Right before you drain the pasta add in about a cup of frozen peas.  The warm water and noodles will be all you need to thaw the peas.  Shred the chicken when it is finished cooking and mix into the pasta.  Sprinkle the top with some Parmesan cheese.

3 Simple Ways to Dress Up Boxed MacN Cheese

The final twist adds just a hint of spiciness and bacon.  And when you add bacon to anything it automatically makes it awesome.  It’s a known fact.  While waiting for your pasta, cook your bacon slices and chop into bite sized pieces.  After making the macaroni and cheese stir in about 3 Tablespoons, or 1 small 2 oz. jar, of pimentos.  I wouldn’t mix the bacon bits in because they’ll get soggy if you have any leftovers so just sprinkle the bacon and some pepper-jack cheese over the top.  Tasty!

3 Simple Ways to Dress Up Boxed MacN CheeseIf you serve any of these variations with a side of bread or a small salad then pat yourself on the back, mama.  You just put together one “fancy” meal for your family.  Or your unsuspecting friend, whatever the case may be.  :)

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3 Simple Ways to Dress Up Boxed MacN CheeseAre there any other variations out there you’ve thought of?  I’d love to hear any other ideas on how you find ways to dress up simple, quick meals!


Scripture-a-Day Focusing on Christ

I wish I could take credit for this wonderful idea but it isn’t completely mine.  A few weeks ago we had an activity at church and they handed out little journals with a reading chart glued onto the front cover.  The chart had a scripture a day to read from now until Christmas that focused on different attributes of Christ.  I LOVE the idea of taking a small amount of time each day to read a scripture and keep Christ more fully in my mind and heart this holiday season.  It is such a small act but I can feel a difference in my days and I think this will help make my holidays more meaningful as I focus on the true reasons behind them.  These upcoming weeks are busy and hectic, and I actually love all the hustle and bustle, but I also love taking a minute or two each day to refocus and remember what is really important.

Reading Chart with a Scripture-a-Day from now until Christmas that focuses on Christlike attributes.

I have created a chart to share with you with Bible scriptures that start on Sunday (Nov. 15th) and go all the way until Christmas.  Each week has a different “theme” to it and the theme focuses on an attribute of Christ and how it can/should apply to us.  I purposely didn’t put any dates on this chart or make it super Christmas-y so that it could be used at any time of the year but if you start on Sunday there is one a day until Christmas.

Reading Chart with a Scripture-a-Day from now until Christmas that focuses on Christlike attributes.I love this time of year for so many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is the opportunity I have to grow closer to my Savior and develop the relationship I have with Him.  Hopefully this will also help you keep Him nearer in your thoughts and hearts this season.

Download the PDF

Reading Chart with a Scripture-a-Day from now until Christmas that focuses on Christlike attributes.