Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cabin Fever

Friends, I have the fever.

Cabin fever.

It's so bad. I long for days with even a glimpse of heat so I can take the stupid car seat cover off of Penny's car seat, take a walk outside, or go coat-less (which I tried today and regretted). I am SO ready for winter to be over. It never fails, each year as we approach February I get a sense of hopelessness that the winter will never end. I start to feel like I'm suffocating in my own and this Nebraskan winter will never end. I want picnic blankets, open windows, and bare feet gosh darn it! But since I don't have control over the weather, the best I can do is create a playlist to get me through the month. So I bring to you... Cabin Fever. Listen on Spotify here.

There are a lot of bluegrass, folk, country vibes but I make no apologies because to me that IS spring and summer. Hope you enjoy.

A desperate Nebraskan.
Monday, January 21, 2013

Settling In

So far the move to Omaha has been bearable. I have been able to maintain a fairly positive attitude and I've even accepted that this is most likely going to be home for a long time unless the Lord decides otherwise. I have enjoyed having a neighborhood and a house (rather than an apartment) and with intentional gratitude I have managed to escape almost all of my moments of discontent. And let me tell you I've had many...(prone to wander, Lord, I feel it). 

My days as a stay at home mom can seem a little mundane at times. Though I feel like I'm constantly doing something, my checklist seems to go untouched most days. There are days where I didn't even bother to wipe off the smudged mascara from the day before because I knew I wouldn't be leaving the house. It's a balance that I'm still trying to find--knowing that it's okay if the laundry is still sitting in the dyer because I wanted to have a conversation with my girl instead. 

But even though my days seem to be filled with dirty diapers and milk-stained clothes, I am finding there is a lot to benefit from it (besides the obvious fact that I am SO lucky to be raising a child). Living day to day with intentional gratitude has caused me to find joy in the smallest things...a bubble bath (even if it doesn't last long), a clean and quiet home, the scent of a candle, the gorgeous light that shines through my bedroom window. These are things I would have never noticed when my life was racing 100mph. I was quickly cleaning our room while Penny was taking her nap today and the sunshine stopped me in my tracks. I sat on the bed and soaked it in for a few minutes. So deeply grateful for it...the sun! Such a simple thing! I'm thankful for a life that allows me to bask in even the smallest gifts...the ones that are overlooked every day.
I feel myself losing steam. Wanting to stay inside rather than make friends with the neighbors, wanting to tip toe around Omaha rather than conquer it, letting it know that I will not be defeated this time. I'll be okay, this I know. And I'll trust that the Lord knows what he's doing...because He does :)

In order to encourage my resolution of a thankful life, I created a space that was easily accessible and prepped with all of the essentials...a gratitude drawer, if you will. It's too easy for me to make excuses when it comes to expressing gratitude, but this drawer prevents me from doing so. 
The essentials are obvious: note cards, envelopes, and stamps, but I also plan on keeping a book of addresses and a gratitude booklet--jotting down things I'm thankful for and things that others have done in my life. I get so excited when I have a letter to write now that it's all organized!
We aren't far into the year, but my resolution of a thankful heart has made all the difference in this time of change. When I focus on even the littlest of gifts, I have less time to think about the discomfort of our present circumstance. I'm hopeful that, one day, Omaha won't seem so faceless and for the days when I still have doubt, I will gave thanks.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fabric Softener // Dryer Sheet Substitute

I rant out of dryer sheets last night and decided it was the perfect opportunity to try and make my own. I did a bunch of research (Truman was kind enough to take care of Penny while she was having one of her fussy spells) and found this recipe. Every recipe had distilled white vinegar as a base because of its natural tendency to soften clothes, but I wanted to try using conditioner as well. This recipe called for a Rosemary Mint conditioner that smells AMAZING. It's super cheap to make, as well (especially if you already have things like vinegar and a spray bottle).

Ingredients include:
-6 cups water
-3 cups white vinegar
-2 cups Suave Rosemary Mint conditioner
-large bucket to mix in
-hand towel (optional)
-spray bottle (optional)
-1 gallon container

Step One: Mix water, vinegar, and conditioner in bucket or 1 gallon container (stir, don't shake).

Step Two: Pour half a cup into the washer during the rinse cycle to use as a fabric softener. OR spray a hand towel and throw in the dryer to use as a dryer sheet. 

Easy as that. And my clothes came out smelling wonderful!! Truman was looking at me like I was an idiot as I held every piece up to my nose as I was folding it. I had to buy a spray bottle and bucket to mix in, but if you just buy the vinegar and conditioner this will cost you under $5 and it will last WAY longer than dryer sheets. Gotta love saving money...

Friday, January 18, 2013

DIY Laundry Detergent {Review}

I finally got around to trying a recipe for homemade laundry detergent. I've always wanted to make my own because I cringe buying the expensive stuff at the store. First, I want to note that this post is not a post to make me look like that perfect homemaker who makes everything. Sure, I aspire to be the woman who makes her own cleaning products, eats organic, and has a perfectly crafted dinner on the table every night, but that's not me :) I'm simply trying to make baby steps toward saving money and show that anyone can do it.

I used this recipe with a few modifications and wanted to share my experience for the woman who's been thinking about making detergent, but needs a little motivation to get going :)

To make the detergent you need:
-five gallon bucket
-cheese grater
-1/2 cup borax
-1/2 cup washing soda
-1 bar washing soap (FYI: they don't carry them at Target, but I found one super cheap at Wal-Mart)
-Essential oils of your choice (I used Tea Tree Oil & Lavender like the recipe suggests)
-long spoon for stirring

Step one: shred the entire bar of soap. Then heat up 2 cups of water on the stove (Note: do not boil! I made this mistake and the soap got incredibly clumpy and wouldn't dissolve all the way. Just warm the water.) Add the soap to the water and stir until dissolved (this will take a while so keep stirring!)

Step two: Add the borax and washing soda and mix until dissolved.

Step three: Pour mixture into your five gallon bucket and add water until it is three-fourths full. Give it a good stir and then add the essential oils of your choice. (The recipe said to add 10 drops of each but I didn't notice the scent in my clothing so I would suggest adding more)

Step four: Allow mixture to sit for 24 hours. I hate when a recipe requires me to be patient, but this part is essential. The mixture will get thick and gooey. Stir a few times during that 24 hour period. (Notice how my mixture has big clumps. I'm assuming if the water is the correct temp at the beginning you won't have that problem.)

Step five: Use about 1/2 cup per load (or more if it's a heavy load). Transport detergent into smaller containers (or even a used detergent container) for easy storage! (Note: the detergent will not create suds when washing but it works!)

So there you have it. A giant, almost-full 5 gallon bucket of detergent for less than $10 (I didn't calculate the exact amount, but this thing is going to last until kingdom come).
Good luck and let me know if there are any tips and tricks I'm missing!
Thursday, January 10, 2013



Gratitude: learning to recognize and express appreciation for the benefits we have received from God and others.

I used to foolishly think that the older and more mature I got, the less I would be bound to the chains of ingratitude and comparison. I'm quickly learning that it's quite the opposite. Being a wife, having a child, and dealing with big-girl things like homes and careers has only made it more difficult to be truly thankful in every circumstance. I'm certain that most women will agree that comparison almost always stands in the way of joy. As a christian, I study Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 and long to be an honorable wife, gracious mother, and diligent homemaker. God created me to desire those things and by His grace I am able to do so, but I so easily get caught in the mess of comparison and ingratitude.

I'm finding that there will always be women in my life who seem to be the perfect wife, mother, homemaker, fashionista, even Christian. Causing me to feel ungrateful for what I have and ashamed of who I am (or who I'm not). Things like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. don't help either. I got into such a terrible habit last year of focusing on what others had that I was rarely grateful (or completely oblivious to) the blessings in my own life. I also noticed a tendency to feel entitled to certain if I deserved comfort. Christ really convicted me of that and I found that the only answer to my problem is a life full of gratitude. And what perfect timing with a big move and the beginning of the new year :)

I've been reading through "Choosing Gratitude" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and it has been so helpful in encouraging my process towards a thankful heart. I've learned that gratitude isn't an overnight fix. It takes living each day intentionally and making the effort to see every blessing as something I don't deserve. And above all being constantly grateful for my debt that was paid on the cross. Because when I see myself as undeserving, my perspective totally changes. All of the sudden every little complaint like a tiny kitchen, one car, and a tight budget is shown in a different light. Nancy put it perfectly when she said:

"This is where Christian gratitude begins to rise above every other form of gratitude. Being humbly thankful to God for our salvation--the most undeserved transaction in our personal history--is the starting point for the purest form of gratitude: God-ward, Christ-centered gratitude."

I desire to be easily contented and humble--always remembering that Christ willingly saved me when I gave him no reason to. "There is no way we could ever repay Him for such amazing grace. There is only one response that even begins to measure its worth--a thankful heart, expressed in both word and deed...When we consider the love of Christ, His incomparable sacrifice, and His gift of full redemption, sealed and secured forever, how can we let a single day pass without "giving thanks to the Father?"

In order to create a thankful heart, I need to immerse myself in gratitude each day. I'm going to write down 5 things I'm thankful for before I even get out of bed--starting the day counting my blessings. I will be aware of blessings from others and voice my gratitude (even things like a helpful employee or just a friendly note to let a person know I'm thankful for them). And every time I catch myself complaining, I will write down what I'm thankful for instead--even if I have to force my pen to the paper.

I was joking with a friend the other day that the last time we moved from Omaha to Lincoln we didn't even zip our suitcases before we hit the road. We were SO ready to get out. Being back in Omaha has brought a lot of fear, discontent, and discomfort into my life. I'm out of my element, I have few friends here, and we're still living out of boxes because it takes FOREVER to unpack with a baby. But I will never find joy if I focus on these things. I'm ready for a life of gratitude and I'm excited to see how the Lord is going to radically change my life through it. I'll end with this pledge that was written by Russell Kelfer:

"Having been born into the kingdom of God, I do hereby acknowledge that God's purchase of my life included all the rights and control of that life for all eternity.

I do further acknowledge that He has not guaranteed me to be free from pain or to have success or prosperity. He has not guaranteed me perfect health. He has not guaranteed me perfect parents. He has not guaranteed me perfect children. He has not guaranteed me the absence of pressures, trials, misunderstandings, or persecution.

What He has promised me is eternal life. What He has promised me is abundant life. What He has promised me is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, meekness, and self-control. He has given me all of Himself in exchange for the rights to my life.

Therefore I acknowledge this day the relinquishment of all my rights and expectations, and humbly ask Him by His grace to replace these with a grateful spirit, for whatever in His wisdom He deems to allow for my life."

Signed, J.

Monday, January 7, 2013

{Penny Emerson: 3 Months}

My sweet Penny girl. 
I've had three whole months with you and I can't imagine spending my days any other way. You fit into our little family perfectly and made motherhood an amazing experience--far greater than I even imagined. Your giant grins, your developing voice, your kicking legs fill me with so much joy. You are one of the greatest gifts I have been given and I'm thankful for you every day.
(3 Weeks)
(3 Months)
A few facts about my girl:

Still hates tummy time with a burning passion. If I prop her on a pillow she'll go about 30 seconds without crying. I have no idea how to get her comfortable with this!! Poor thing is starting to get a flat head in the back so I better find a way soon!
She can support her head pretty well by herself. She has been trying to lift it lately when she's laying on my legs.
Whenever we are burping her, she'll inch her way down our hand and start sucking on our fingers. Cutest thing ever.
She also has a knack for passing out while being burped. 
She is the WORST eater. Love her to death, but it seriously takes an hour to finish her bottle. She moves her head all over the place so I'm constantly shoving the bottle in her mouth. And when she's really hungry, she gets all dramatic and drapes her arms around the bottle. So funny.
She is officially sleeping in her big girl room! She slept in our room the first three months but when we moved we decided to put her in her crib.
Poor thing has her first cold today. She's congested and coughing, but thankfully no fever! We ventured out to a local health food store and she was all smiles for the owner. I'm going to make a safe vapor rub that will hopefully give her some relief.

-Not sure of her weight, probably 10/11 pounds. She's getting a big ol' tummy and I LOVE it!

-She is SO smiley. I never thought I would see the day. The first month it seemed like she was crying all. the. time. It is so easy to make her smile now. Sometimes she'll even try to smile while she's crying. Hilarious. And that double chin...

-She has been talking up a storm. She trys to hard mimic what we say. Saying "hiiii" over and over again (and sounding like an idiot) really gets her going.
**can't figure out how to upload a video yet**

She also recently found her hands.

Having so much fun with this little gal.


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