Home Decor Shopping

Good Morning! I missed all of you yesterday! Instead of a workout, I enjoyed being pampered at the salon last night…it was PURE BLISS. A good rest day is just what I needed.

Now, on to home decor shopping! After living in our house for just under a couple months, I’m slowly but surely making progress on decorating, but still have so far to go. I’m the type that would rather have bare walls and wait for the perfect piece or idea to come along instead of just throwing something up there to fill the space. However, I feel like I’m on somewhat of a time crunch because I’d really like to have a bunch of the rooms finished before our twins come in late March. I know my time for extra things like decorating will be very limited after their arrival.

With that said, I need your help! I would love your suggestions on where you have had luck finding home decor for your home. I’m pretty thrifty when it comes to decorations, so I’d welcome recommendations for places that give you a big bang for your buck. I tend to like a bit of a rustic and antique style of decor. Truth be told, most of my things come from Home Goods. My house would be completely bare without that place!

Here’s a sample of the type of look I’m going for with my house…we found all these pieces for our mantle at…you guessed it, Home Goods! I especially enjoy the decorations when they’re paired with watching Sean on Live! With Kelly & Michael. ūüėČ

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Question for YOU:

Where do you buy your home decor? Where can I find good deals, friends? Please share your secrets!

Make it a wonderful day today, finding a few minutes of “me time!”

Amber

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Snickers Bar Ice Cream Dessert

IMG_8464¬†My husband has an amazing memory. He doesn’t forget much. He especially doesn’t forget when he’s eaten something delicious. We laugh about it, but at the most random moments he’ll remember that one time when his mom made a pepperoni meatloaf that he liked, or when his high school friend’s mom made a specific kind of cookie that they’d always have before basketball games. We’ve been married for five years, and there are still times when he’ll recall random recipes he’s had that he wants me to recreate that I’ve never heard him mention before. Most of the time I’m happy to oblige because he also happens to be a picky eater and likes to eat the same things all the time. So when he suggests a new recipe, I get pretty excited.

Lucky for him, most of his random recipe recollections are almost always delicious, and this one is no exception. The other night we were headed over to some friends’ house and in charge of bringing dessert. As we ransacked our minds about what to bring, this one popped into his head. I’d had it once before and agreed it would be perfect. If you’re a fan of ice cream cakes, then this will be right up your alley. I added caramel to the original recipe to make it taste like a Snickers ice cream cake!

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Snickers Bar Ice Cream Dessert

Crust:

-1 package Oreos

-1/2 cup melted butter

-caramel (the kind used for topping ice cream – I use the Hershey’s brand)

Ice Cream Layer:

-1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (square container is the easiest to work with)

-1 cup salted peanuts

-caramel

Topping:

-2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

-2/3 cup powdered sugar

-1/2 cup butter

-1 1/2 cups evaporated milk

-1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions: 

1. Crush 1 package of Oreos and mix in melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Freeze. Add a layer of caramel. Freeze.

2. Create an ice cream layer on top of the Oreo layer by cutting the ice cream into equal sized squares and piecing them together in the pan. Smooth out with a spoon until you have one uniformed layer. Press salted peanuts into ice cream layer. Add another layer of caramel. Freeze.

3. Topping: For about 8 minutes, gently boil the chocolate chips, powdered sugar, butter and evaporated milk together. After boiling, stir in 1 tsp. vanilla. Let chocolate cool and pour over ice cream layer. Freeze. After chocolate layer is frozen, cut into squares and serve!

Recommendations: In order for this recipe to turn out, you NEED to allow enough time for each layer to freeze.  

This would also be a great alternative to serve for a birthday party if you don’t want to fork out the big bucks to buy a professional ice cream cake!

The next time your man suggests a recipe to try, take him up on it! It may just turn out to be one of the most delicious choices ever!

From my kitchen to yours…ENJOY!

Amber

 

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Unexpected Blessings

In just a couple months, we will be welcoming two precious baby girls into our world. Two identical baby girls, to be specific. Finding out I was pregnant with twins was certainly one of the last things I was expecting. I originally found out I was pregnant when I was about 6 weeks along. After spending a lovely day hanging out with my friend and her kiddos, Baylen and I came home and I was feeling nauseated. I happened to have a pregnancy test in the bathroom, and decided to take it to give me peace of mind. Although we hadn’t officially been trying to get pregnant, we hadn’t been doing anything to prevent it either. We’ve always wanted our kids to be close in age, so we were open to it happening whenever. Sure enough, the test came back positive! Since I never got my period after I was done breastfeeding Baylen, I had no idea how far along I was so I set up an appointment with my doctor. According to my HcG levels, he confirmed I was about 6 weeks along and wanted me to go back for an ultrasound in a couple weeks. We went back at 8 weeks, had an ultrasound, and saw the precious heartbeat! Notice heartbeat was not plural in that last sentence. We walked away from that appointment assuming we were pregnant with one.

Soon after that we moved out of Chicagoland. Jake started working and living in Minneapolis, and I started living with my parents in Iowa for the next couple months while we waited for our house to sell and close. I continued to go to my monthly doctor appointments, and was measuring normal for being pregnant with one baby, and when the doctor found one heartbeat each time, we assumed everything was progressing as normal. A day before Thanksgiving Jake and I went in for our 20 week ultrasound. We were so excited to find out if we were having a boy or a girl! We were greeted by the sweetest ultrasound technician. I laid down on the bed, and she looked around for a bit. Then she looked at me gently and said, “Did you know that you’re having twins?” My immediate response was, “Are you joking?” I totally thought she was. She assured me she wasn’t, and proceeded to show me two heads. TOTAL SHOCK SET IN. AND PANIC. AND WORRY. AND QUESTIONS. Were they okay? Were they healthy? Were they identical? Fraternal? Would I have to be put on bedrest? Am I now considered to have a high risk pregnancy?

Thankfully Danielle, the technician, did a great job of keeping a calm atmosphere in the room. I don’t think Jake and I said more than five words to each other the whole time. Shock will do that to you. She took a look at both babies, used affirming words as she measured and located each body part, and by the end we found out we were having two girls and that they were measuring perfectly for how far along I was. After a short visit with the doctor afterward, we were on our way, still in shock, but incredibly grateful that the Lord was entrusting us with another sweet babe. We were now a family of five!

As exciting as it is, it has honestly taken me a while to get fully adjusted to the fact that we’re having two more babies. Since we found out two months ago, it has been a process of daily surrendering the whole situation to the Lord. The girls are sharing a placenta, which makes it a higher risk pregnancy, and means I have to go to the doctor a lot. Being pregnant with Baylen was a total breeze, and pridefully before I knew I was having twins I sort of was expecting the same thing this time around. I had this allusion of being in control and handling it on my own. God has stripped me of that pride and has humbled me many times. He has taught me to surrender each worry, fear, doctor appointment, ect. to the Him. It hasn’t been easy, and there are times when my flesh has been weak. During those harder times, I’m thankful for the friends and family I have praying on my behalf, and I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit is alive within me, guiding me toward truth.

Although I’m considered high risk, the Lord has blessed me with a healthy pregnancy so far. The girlies are doing great, and growing at the same rate. I get to see them via ultrasound every two weeks, which is so much fun for me. I haven’t had to be on bedrest at all, which is a huge blessing considering I have a 15 month old to chase around all day. When I’m able to keep my perspective clear and eyes on the Lord, I’m discovering each day that the blessings surrounding this surprise are abundant. I’m trading feelings of overwhelming uncertainty for confidence as I remember that He, who started a good work within me, will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6).

Questions to think about this week:

As you think about your own life and circumstances, what has God surprised you with lately? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, are you willing to surrender the situation to HIM? What unexpected blessings have come from your surprise? What does it look like to praise God through the surprises of life?

If you’re willing, I’d love to hear testimonies about how God has been moving in your heart.

May your week be abundant as you recognize the blessings God wants you to notice!

Amber

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Moments Mommy Captured: 1/13/2012

Highlights from our week included…

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Cuddle time on the couch after Baylen’s 15 month shots. It was our first time at a new pediatrician, and Baylen did great. He weighed in at 24lbs (75th percentile) and 31 inches (75th percentile).

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A lovely mocktail/cocktail dessert date with my dear friend Christy!

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Another haircut for the little man. His hair grows SO fast…thank goodness he doesn’t mind getting it cut. The stylist at Kids’ Hair was so good with him!

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Another week of consistent workouts at the gym. At 27.5 weeks, I’m feeling grateful that my body is still allowing me to work out. It’s helping me maintain a sense of normalcy throughout this whole twin pregnancy journey.

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Lot’s of family time! We were in Iowa this weekend at my parents’ farm celebrating a late Christmas. Baylen loved playing with Aunt Ali!

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Our failed attempt at a family picture. If you have tips on how to get a 15 month old to look at a camera long enough to capture some good shots, let me know!

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Baylen chatting away with “Pa-pa!” as he calls him. Bay LOVES being held by Papa and looking at the cows and tractors with him. There was lots of mooing going on!

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Grandma helping Baylen open his presents!

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Watch out, there’s a new tractor driver on the loose, folks!

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Giving goodbye hugs to Uncle Joey and Aunt Madison. Soon he won’t have to say goodbye anymore because they’ll be living in MN too!

And that does it! Here’s to another great week!

Amber

 

 

 

 

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Leggings

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, Baylen, I was at my biggest point during the summer and early fall, which meant I got to cop out of a lot of maternity clothes by wearing comfy sun dresses instead. Most any dress with an empire waist worked perfectly!

This time around I’m due in April and live in Minnesota, so the baby bump needs more than a cotton dress to keep it cozy during these frigid months. I can only handle so many days of maternity jeans before I start feeling frumpy, so I’ve been opting for lots of leggings. They’re as comfy as sweatpants but still make me feel like I’m wearing real clothes. I stocked up at Old Navy where they’re super affordable, and just bought them a size bigger than normal. Thankfully they have lots of stretch so I think they should last me through the rest of the pregnancy.

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When it comes to leggings, I’m one that needs to cover my booty in order to be comfortable. I’ve been on the lookout for long tops and sweaters this winter, and have had great luck at H&M, Target, Old Navy, and Motherhood Maternity.

I’m sharing a couple different ways I wear leggings in my photos today. First, a casual look, where I like to pull on a vest and my new high top wedges. They are perfect for running around town with a toddler. Thanks to Jamie at Stylin Mommies for recommending these shoes. If you haven’t checked out her blog, please do so. She is incredibly inspiring and super cute!

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Second, if I want to dress up my leggings a little, I add a big sweater cardigan and some booties. I can transform from mommy into a hot date for my hubby in a matter of moments!

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If you haven’t given leggings any love yet, I highly recommend adding some to your wardrobe. Instead of another day in sweatpants, you can feel just as comfy but I bet you’ll feel cuter!

Shirt: Loved by Heidi Klum via Motherhood Maternity
Leggings: Old Navy
High Top Wedges: Target or Steve Madden
Booties: Carson Pirie Scott
Vest: Gap
Sweater: Loved by Heidi Klum via Motherhood Maternity

Question of the Day:

Do you like to wear leggings? If so, what do you ususally pair them with?

Have a great weekend and remember to take a few moments of “me time!”

Amber

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DIY: Ladder Towel Rack

Upon moving into this house, we discovered that none of the bathrooms had towel racks. We installed new ones in our last house and knew that it could turn into an expensive project if you simply go to Home Depot or Menards. Therefore, this time around we tried to be a bit thrifty. After several trips to Home Goods I found enough matching towel racks to cover most of the bathrooms, and they were only a fraction of the price of home improvement stores. With the last bathroom, which is a small water closet on our main floor, I wanted to doing something more creative.

I decided a ladder would make for a perfect towel rack, so we set out to get the supplies. At the home improvement store we purchased wooden dowels, a couple wooden strips for the sides, and wood screws. We had leftover stain from my DIY: Pegboard Jewelry Organizer, so we didn’t have to worry about purchasing more of that.

I put Jake to work and within about 20 minutes he had the ladder assembled. After that he put a couple coats of stain on, and voila! Done and done! All it took was a few measurements, cuts, and drilling, and we had not only a functional towel rack, but a decorative piece for our water closet. Even if you don’t have much handyman experience, this project isn’t too tough to figure out.

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The total price for this little baby came in at around $10! I’m thinking of decorating a couple other places in our house using ladders to perform other functions. I’ll keep you posted if we come up with something that’s worth sharing!

Question of the Day: 

Do you have a functional DIY piece in your home that you’re particularly excited about? I need inspiration!¬†

Make it a wonderful day today!

Amber

 

 

 

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Arm Workout Using Household Items

Happy Wednesday Everybody! The sun is shining here in Minnesota this morning which always makes for a good start to the day!

Another way to get your day off to a great start is by working your arms a little bit. I have a workout for you today that is simple and can be done using products we all have in our homes.

Just like last week, I have a few videos below for you to watch so you know how to do the moves. Then check out the actual workout series below for the amount of repetitions I suggest for each move. After doing these moves for a week, I guarantee you’ll be well on your way to getting those toned arms we all want!

Arm Workout Using Household Items

You’ll need some weights to perform this workout. If you have free weights, feel free to use them. If not, use milk gallons and canned goods!¬†

-50 Bicep Curls (25 each arm)

-50 Hammer Curls (25 each arm)

-100 behind-the-back tricep pushes (50 with each arm in front)

-25 tricep dips

-2 minutes door frame resistance pushes (30 second intervals, taking a short break between each set)

-25 forward arm circles with cans

-25 backward arm circles with cans

-25 reverse flies with cans

Get to work, mommies! Just because we’re mommies doesn’t mean we have to give up feeling GREAT about ourselves. Take a few minutes for yourself today!

Amber

 

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Homemade Dump & Taste Chicken Soup

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During the winter months a lot of soup is made in my kitchen. In particular, a lot of this¬†homemade chicken soup. The first time I made this for Jake was¬†back when we were¬†in college. We had been dating a few months and he came down with¬†a terrible cold. Wanting to impress this guy who I had started to fall head over heels for, I decided to pull out all the stops and make my mom’s homemade chicken soup. It had been a favorite growing up, and although I hadn’t made it before, I knew it would be the perfect medicine.

I called my mom to ask her for the recipe, and soon learned it was pretty simple and almost impossible to mess up. You basically add a bunch of ingredients to a stockpot and sample it until it tastes just right for you. Hence, why I call it the “Homemade Dump & Taste Chicken Soup.”

If you’re looking for an easy go-to recipe for soup, this is it.

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Homemade Dump & Taste Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

-1 whole chicken (cut up) or 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts*

-1 can of corn, drained

-2 cups shredded carrots

-2 cups celery, chopped

-1 cup rice

-2 cups egg noodles (or whatever noodles you prefer or have on hand. I used penne in my last batch.)

-chicken bouillon cubes to taste

-salt and pepper to taste

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Instructions:

Fill a stockpot or dutch oven about halfway full of water and bring to¬†a boil. Add a little salt to the water and boil the whole chicken or chicken breasts for about 20 – 30 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Keeping the water in the pot, carefully remove the chicken and set aside to cool. The chicken flavored water in the pan will serve as the broth for the soup. While the chicken is¬†cooling, add the corn, carrots, celery, uncooked rice, and uncooked noodles to the water.¬†Allow them to boil for a bit until tender. While they’re boiling, cut up the chicken into small chunks, removing all bones if you used a whole chicken. Add the chicken to the soup. Turn to low and let simmer until you’re ready to eat. While its simmering, taste the flavor of the soup. If you’d prefer a stronger chicken flavor, add a few chicken bouillion cubes and some salt and pepper to taste. Also feel free to add more rice if you want a thicker consistency. When you’re happy with how it tastes, serve it up!

Recommendations:

I think the soup has better flavor when using a whole chicken, but if you’re looking for a shortcut the chicken breasts work fine too. When buying a whole chicken at the deli, ask them to cut it up for you so all you need to do is dump it in the pan.

As is the case with a lot of soups, this one keeps getting better as the flavors have longer to mix, which means it is great for leftovers. It also works well to freeze it and pull it out on a day when you’re looking for a quick meal. It thickens as it sits, so when you reheat it you may need to add some more water and bouillon cubes.¬†

If you have your own patient to nurse back to health, or simply want a soup that will leave a lasting impression, I hope you’ll give my mom’s soup a try. It certainly did the trick to win over my honey’s heart!

Make it a great Tuesday, remembering to take a few minutes for yourself today!

Amber

 

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Enjoy God’s Best

We have a choice to make this week! We can either choose to feel overwhelmed by our circumstances, or we can aggressively expect good things.

I don’t know¬†about you, but I can almost always expect moments throughout the¬†week when¬†my patience is tested or when I feel overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done. Those moments have the power to determine how the rest of my week will go. By choosing to look at the obstacles as opportunities, we can focus on how God wants to bless us through those trials.

God most certainly knows this, and reminded me of it again this weekend. Since moving to the area a little over a month ago, we’ve been trying out various churches. This week we went to Eagle Brook¬†and I’m positive it was a divine appointment. They started a new series this week called “Losing Our Buts” which is about learning how to get rid of our excuses because they hold us back from experiencing life as God intends. I can hardly wait to listen to the rest of the series.

If we want to enjoy the best life God has for us, we need to realize that it starts with us. We have to believe what God’s word says about¬†us more than¬†we believe what others say or what¬†our feelings or own minds say. We need to expect God’s best. We need to look ahead with confidence and excitement, knowing that God’s plan for¬†our lives¬†is awesome, even though it may seem¬†a bit overwhelming at times. The truth is, God wants to pour out favor on our lives – kindness we don’t deserve.

My challenge for all of us this week is this:

Resist and refuse to let doubt convince you that good things won’t happen to you and your family. Ask God to give you divine supernatural favor and then expect to see it in your life every day! His blessings are abundant, if we’re just willing to take the time and acknowledge them.

“Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people; and the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were being saved.” -Acts 2:47

Question of the Day:

Do you ever find yourself being overwhelmed by what’s ahead? How do you flip the switch and get into a different mindset?

Let’s enjoy God’s best for us this week!

Amber

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Moments Mommy Captured: 1/6/2013

Outside of New Year’s being on Tuesday, the rest of our week was pretty low key. It’s been nice to get back into our normal routine, enjoying the ordinary everyday moments with our little family.

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Our week started out with Joey and Madison staying with us. Baylen’s become quite fond of them. It’s so fun for me to see him bond with his aunt and uncle!

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We lucked out and found a babysitter for New Year’s so Jake and I headed out with some friends to Capital Grille. It was fun to get dressed up and go out!

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Baylen continues to becoming more independent everyday. Whenever we’re out and about he insists on walking on his own, which is great except for the fact that he doesn’t exactly understand what it means to stay by Mommy and Daddy. It’s good practice anyway, for when the girls come and we can’t carry him all the time anymore.

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If you would have asked me at the beginning of the week if I let Baylen stand at the top of the stairs with the gate open I would have said no way. But we worked on learning how to go down the stairs this week and he’s quickly becoming a pro. I still don’t quite trust him to go down the whole flight by himself without me spotting him, but I’m excited about a day soon when I don’t have to police the baby gates so closely.

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We’ve also working on eating with utensils this week. I’ve been giving them to him to play with for a while now, but it wasn’t until this week that he took a real interest in using them. I was quite impressed with how he was gobbling down the mac and cheese with his fork. As for the bites that didn’t make it into his mouth? For those I’m thankful we have a yellow lab.

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Our little man¬†is such a busy body and until recently hasn’t been interested in sitting still for longer than about 5 seconds when it comes to reading him books. However, within the last few weeks he’s started to have favorite books and will bring them over. When we stick to his favorites, he’ll let us read them over and over.

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Bay’s movements have become a lot more focused and calculated lately. Whether he’s stacking and opening jewelry boxes, putting his straw in and out of his glass a million times in a row, or pointing to eyes and other body parts we’ve taught him, he loves to figure things out.

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Baylen got his first basketball lesson from Daddy this week. He was so intrigued.

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What started as his signal that he wanted to give an open mouthed kiss has become his signal for anything he wants to put in his mouth. I get to see this cute face when he wants a drink of something, wants his paci, wants a kiss, or wants to eat something from the cookie jar. That little guy knows how to get what he wants!

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Just a couple days ago Baylen started to copy us when we sneeze. Whenever he hears one of us say “Bless you!” he immediately breaks out in a series of fake sneezes, which is what he was doing in the picture above. Yes, at almost 15 months, our little man is a little ham.

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As for those little princesses? They’re growing too. I definitely feel like I’m starting to pop out big time. This¬†was yesterday at 26.5 weeks!

That’s it for this week’s update! Take a few minutes today and think about the precious moments from your week! We are blessed, friends!

Amber

 

 

 

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