Life can be crazy and so very full. Focusing on what is making life more lovely is a great habit! Here is what is making our lives easier, tastier, prettier, and funner.
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We took that picture above on my birthday, and it is definitely safe to say that it is bringing me joy. I hope to get it printed and framed so it can make us all smile whenever we see it in our home too.
I’m not going to lie, friends, and tell you that this summer has not been a walk in the park. There have been some very difficult things that we are walking through, and while I can’t share all the details yet, just remember that the internet often only tells part of the story. I share as much as I can because I want to be transparent and honest, but things aren’t always (or often) easy.
Nonetheless, I still wholeheartedly believe in the habit of practicing gratitude and the power of a good perspective to brighten everyone’s spirits. I really enjoy sharing these What I’m Loving posts because they are an opportunity to step back and think about what is going well. It may take a little bit, but there are always things I can be thankful for in every area of our lives. Sometimes just a quick scroll through my camera feed is all it takes to find inspiration.
Whether you feel like life is smooth sailing right now, or you are in a hard season, I hope that you will take the time to do the same today or sometime soon. What is bringing you joy? What are your kids loving? What has been especially tasty on your table recently? Make a list, and please, share a few things with us in the comments!
What I’m Loving Edition 11 :: Making Life Easier, Tastier, Prettier, & Funner
Instagram Stories & YouTube
Wanting to tell you about how much I’m loving Instagram stories and a few YouTube channels was the catalyst for writing this post. I am seriously loving both of these sources for videos!
I’ve been enjoying adding to my stories all day for the first time ever. As far as watching, Instant Loss‘ stories are my favorite, but I’m enjoying many others as well. Stories are just a fun, more informal sneak peek into friends and bloggers lives (and, of course, the food they eat).
On YouTube, I have a few current favorite channels. This Gathered Nest, Leigh Ann Dutton, and Lynette Yoder. Since I’m new to their channels, there are lot of past videos to watch too. I’ve been watching many of the videos while I wash dishes or early in the morning with little babies.
Lynette Yoder’s channel especially has been fun to watch and super inspiring to me to clean my house! She is a cleaning and organizing pro and shares a lot of quick videos on both. It’s always good when watching videos makes you want to get up and clean your bathroom or organize your snack drawer. 😉
My newly organized snack drawer…Marie approves!
I added two new cookbooks to my collection recently. I only have a small space for cookbooks in my kitchen, so I tend to be very selective before buying new cookbooks that I will have to make room for. (You can check out a list of my favorite cookbooks for healthy, family eating here).
I found the Seriously Good Freezer Meals cookbook on Instagram and clicked right over to order. I honestly have not made anything from it yet, but the recipes look great and I’m excited to try it once I get my cookbook turned in. It’s going to be so helpful to have meals in the freezer this fall once we have dance and soccer in the evenings.
Tiffany from Eat at Home sent me her fabulous new cookbook– it just arrived AND released this past week! I love Tiffany’s passion for helping families to eat at home together more often. I also love the chapter breakdown in her cookbook. Eat at Home Tonight has chapters of recipes for when you only have fifteen minutes to make dinner, when you don’t want a bunch of dishes to wash, when you want to cook for a week in just one night, and more. I gave a much more thorough peek at the cookbook on my live video last night when I was using her cookbook to make dinner.
I’m looking forward to trying many more recipes soon!
For My Kids
Independent, creative play time.
My kids have had a lot more free time on their hands recently as it is becoming crunch time for my cookbook. The biggest thing I am loving for my kids right now is how well they entertain themselves and play together!
I reorganized some of our favorite building toys into large baskets that I am keeping on the fireplace. Magnatiles, Lincoln logs, wooden blocks, and Duplos. They can play with them all together and clean them up easily. It’s also been helpful to say, one kid gets all the magna-tiles, on kid gets all the blocks, etc.
I remember loving to play board games as a kid, and getting super excited when an adult would play with us. My kids are the same way, and connecting over games is a great way to spend intentional time with them.
Recently, I let my older three kids stay up late and we played Settlers of Catan. I made popcorn and we all had so much fun! It was the kind of thing where I wasn’t sure I wanted to follow through and let them stay up, because those quiet hours after bedtime are so sacred (the only quiet hours of the day). BUT, as is so often the case, once the babies were settled in bed and we started playing I was really thankful.
My two year old has few games that we can play together. A while ago I bought Let’s Go Fishing for him, and he really enjoys that. I added another game to his stash recently that we are really loving. It’s called On the Farm and is really well made, so simple, and very sweet to “play” together. I highly recommend it to other parents of toddlers.
For the Home
I spent ALLLL day recently getting our bedrooms and our living areas back in order and I am very motivated to keep everything picked up. I love love love to see the house tidy and well organized, and I want to teach my kids to be responsible for their things and the value of tidiness. At the same time, I don’t want my kids to feel like they can’t be free to be kids in our home, or like I care more about clean spaces than them. So I’m constantly finding the balance.
Not too long ago, I did one of those surveys with my kids where they answer questions about me. They all said that I love to clean, which I found pretty funny. But I recently realized that, well yes, I do enjoy cleaning. Who knew? Adulting, I suppose.
Speaking of cleaning, all summer I have been getting monthly deliveries from Grove. It’s been wonderful because it’s saved me special trips to Target (which saves a lot of money…). I love that I can order a lot of different things (cleaners, toiletries, etc), try new cleaners, and adjust my cart from my couch. Plus, there are free gifts with just about every order.
A few of my regular Grove favorites:
- Squirt & Mop (I use the hardwood and the hard floor versions multiple times a week. I love how easy they are to use!)
- Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Cleaner (We use this for everything!)
- Method Antibacterial Bathroom Cleaner
- Mint SPF 15 Lip Balm (smells great, makes my lips feel soft, and my kids can use it too)
- Grove hand sanitizer spray (I keep this in my purse and use it all the time. I love the orange scent).
- Mrs. Meyers Dish Soap (We don’t have a dishwasher…so I use this A LOT. I really like the Geranium and the Lavender scents).
- Reusable Zipper Bags (I have the gallon and sandwich size bags. We use them weekly).
If you want to try Grove for yourself, you can sign up here. This month (August) they are giving away a LOT to new customers who spend $20. New customers will get Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap, Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap, Mrs. Meyer’s multi-surface spray, Grove hand sanitizer spray, and Grove walnut scrubbers. So many of my favorite items!! Existing customers will get free walnut scrubbers this month.
On the Table
August is going to be major crunch time for cookbook writing. (I feel like that is all I talk about these days, but it seriously is taking up so much brain space right now!). So, I can’t share a lot of what we are eating because it’s mostly recipe testing.
That said, I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THE COOKBOOK RECIPES! Seriously, I really think you are going to love it and I can’t wait to get it into your hands.
I know everyone loves tacos, but have you had the pleasure of eating tacos with home fried shells (super easy process), and homemade salsa, guacamole, yogurt, etc??? It’s a whole different level of AMAZINGNESS.
This is my challenge to you. Host a taco night with friends soon. Make some fresh salsa (you can make this amazing salsa in ten minutes or less), mash some avocados for this one-minute guacamole recipe, shred some cheese, chop some lettuce, and prep whatever other toppings you want. Ground beef, seasoned chicken, black beans, yogurt, sour cream, whatevs.
Okay, now I want a taco, and I hope you do too because a few good tacos are definitely the kind of food to brighten anyone’s week.
What We’re Reading
Dad’s family read-aloud: Father and I Were Ranchers, the first book in the Little Britches Series. (We have wanted to read this for a LONG time and I’m so glad we are finally starting! The Little Britches series is included in so many lists of great read-alouds, and has been compared to a boys’ Little House series).
Audiobook: We finished listening to The Green Ember series (loved it), and instead of starting something new, decided to listen to a few favorites again. We are listening to Anne of Green Gables occasionally. Last night we finished Farmer Boy and then my boys requested to go back to Little House on the Prairie. The whole family LOVES the Little House series audiobooks read by Cherry Jones.
Me: I’m reading through Stepping Heavenward again (this time on my phone), and listening to Parenting by Tedd Tripp. I also just started Spurgeon’s Sorrows by Zack Eswine. The subtitle is “Realistic hope for those who suffer from depression”, and I’m looking forward to gaining insight and wisdom to help those who struggle with depression in my life.
Husband: All Quiet on the Western Front
8 Year Old: I’m going to start including my son on this list since he’s starting to consistently read his own books too. He just finished the Harry Potter series (such a bittersweet milestone!). After a little deliberating, we found another series that captured his interest recommended by Sarah Mackenzie from Read Aloud Revival. The first book is called The Edge of Extinction.