Monday, July 30, 2012

Today, my daughter is interviewing me about Summer Beauty Tips! Enjoy!

For more tips on staying beautiful all summer long, visit Getting Ready with Kendall and Kylie Jenner and the Venus page.

For a chance to win a $50 Visa Gift Card, answer this question in comments: "What's the best beauty tip you have shared with your daughter to prepare her for the summer or share your funniest beauty mishap!”
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 7/26 - 8/23.
Be sure to visit the Venus brand feature page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!
Have you checked out the Life Well Lived section of There are some great tips and expert posts on everything from Looking Your Best to Getting Happy and Getting Organized!

Friday, July 20, 2012

It has been SO long since I've participated in Five Question Friday, but since I'm hoping to be posting more regularly, I figured this is a good way to keep me going!  As you likely know, FQF is usually hosted by Mama M, but since she's enjoying some time away right now, you can hop over to Kate's blog and join the party there!

1. What do you call them- flip flops, sandals, thongs, or slippers?

Flip Flops.
Picture courtesy of Google Images.

I love Flip Flops!  No question about it. In fact, it drives me crazy when people (especially my mom, bless her heart!) refers to them as thongs.  In my mind, thongs are underwear, not something you wear on your feet!  Sandals are usually bigger, often involving straps that go around your feet or ankles.  Slippers are soft and fuzzy and are worn around the house.

2. Are you a "my kids can do no wrong" kind of mom or a "Johnny punched you? Well what did you do to him first?!" kind of mom? 

Definitely the "what did you do to him first?" mom!  I have learned (especially with Colin) that my kids come to me with only the part of the story involving what the other person did wrong.  You would think, by now, that Colin would have figured out that I will ask him about his part in the story - and usually end up finding out that he started the punching/kicking/name calling.  But I guess he just likes to have to have that part of the story dragged out of him!!  ;)

Nope, I never consider them innocent until proven guilty.  Well, almost never!

3. Would you confront a good friend that looked/looks down on your husband/significant other?

I absolutely would.  My husband is my best friend.  He is the most amazing man I know and I have never loved anybody as fiercely and intimately as I love him.  If there was a reason that someone close to me was looking down on him, I would definitely confront it.  I can't imagine having a close friend not get along with my husband, and if there was any sort of an issue, I would want to resolve it immediately.  If it weren't able to be resolved, I would likely have to consider the importance of that friendship in my life.  I mean, come on, look how great he is ...

Thankfully, to my knowledge, I don't have that issue to deal with! :)

4. Biggest pet peeve?

Noises.  Random white noise drives me crazy.  On top of that list is the sound of people eating.  Chewing.  Smacking their lips.  Swallowing.  Eww.  I can't handle it.  Top that off with the fact that any noise starts to annoy me after awhile (including music!) and you find a woman (me) who is working very hard to allow God to increase her patience!!  In a home with five kids, noise is inevitable!

5. What's your favorite take out meal?

Pizza Hut.  It's been my favorite for a LONG time.  Unfortunately, there is not a Pizza Hut anywhere near me.  If I'm ordering take-out from my home, my first choice would have to be Scotty B's Restaurant - SO yummy!!  I love eating in there, too, because the staff are so friendly and the clean-up is WAY easier (because I don't have to do it)!! :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

There's this guy I know who I really want to introduce to you.  I've known him for probably five or six years now.  His name is Ryan and he's loads of fun!

Ryan (on the left) with our friends Tony and Pete.

I met him and his fantastic wife when I dated her brother (for the record, while I was dating him I used to always say that, if it didn't work out and I was dating him just to be introduced to his amazing family, then it was worth it.  That statement holds true to this day!).

Katie and Ryan

He works in Youth Ministry - I actually worked with him for just over a year and would have continued to do so, but then I fell in love, got married and moved too far away to continue to work with that specific group.

 Our group of leaders at Castaway Club (a camp).  I am the blonde in the center - Ryan is directly above me.

Ryan preaching at Bethel College.

One of my favorite things about Ryan is the fact that he's pretty dedicated to healthy eating.  When I say pretty dedicated, I actually mean really-stinking-incredibly dedicated.  With the exception of Chipotle.  We still can't agree on that place (he likes it, I loathe it).

Regardless of our differences, I still think he's a great guy! :)  He recently started a blog all about food and healthy eating - and it is amazing!  Do yourself a favor and get to know this fantastic guy through his new blog - The Menu According to Ryan Braley - and get a few great recipe and food ideas along the way.  Make sure to become a follower of his blog, too, and give yourself a chance to get to know this awesome personality ...

You won't regret it ... I promise!!  :)

** All images, with the exception of the first, stolen directly from Ryan's Facebook page without his prior consent.  :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Yesterday was an amazingly productive day.  Colin and I went to Costco and Toys 'R' Us (he earned a reward, and his choice was a little Star Wars Lego set).  Monte and our friend Chris tiled our backsplash in the kitchen.  I took all of the kids swimming at the park near our home.  We had a fun dinner on the patio and Monte and I spent the evening (after the little kids were in bed) playing Texas Hold 'em while sitting at our new kitchen table and admiring the new backsplash.  It was an awesome day.

As Monte and I sat playing poker, he asked me if I would be blogging about the backsplash - putting up pictures of our kitchen remodel, now almost fully complete.  My answer: I really don't know.  You see, while I do fully understand that this is my blog and that I am fully able to talk about whatever I so choose, I am still hesitant to mention it.  The reason?  Well, a couple of years ago when Monte and I decided to put an addition on our home, I chose to blog about it.  I wrote many posts like this one here that detailed where we were in the renovation process.  I loved writing about it and sharing this exciting time in our lives with you!  Until the day that someone decided to comment and tell me, in just a few cutting and painful words, that we were spending our money unwisely and that it wasn't okay, in this economy, to be putting an addition on our home.

It hurt.  In fact, it hurt a lot.

I even went on to explain myself, to say that Monte and I weren't spending money foolishly; that we had planned and prepared for it and already had the money set aside.  I explained that we still had money to fund our lives, money for the kids' savings accounts, money for bills, etc. etc.  I don't know why I felt the need to explain myself, but I did.  The catch: that same person came back with another rude comment.  I don't remember what it was about, and I'm not about to go back through my comments to rehash that one, because even reading it to this day still brings a little ping of pain inside me.  Leave it at enough to say that it hurt.

So, with that being my past experience, you can understand my hesitancy and why I have chosen to be a little more hush-hush regarding this current renovation.  Monte and I have not been foolish with our money - we knew exactly how much we had to spend on this and made it happen within those means.  However, the possibility of someone telling me how to spend my money and how to live my life keeps me from sharing.

Maybe I will find the boldness in me to share those pictures soon.  Not yet, but maybe sometime soon!  In the meantime, I will leave you with this incredibly cute picture of Ellis showing off his souvenir from Wall Drug in Wall, SD.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

One of my favorite things about summer is the fact that we have so many birthdays to celebrate!  June is Ellis's, July is Monte's and August is Iain's (among other cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents, too!).  When a birthday comes around, the birthday king/queen gets to decide what we have for dinner that night as well as what kind of cake they like.

It never fails that Iain requests the same dinner each year, as it's one that has been a favorite of my kids' since the first time I made it.  We have made this dinner for friends, we make it when people have babies/surgeries or just need some help - it's delicious for parents and kids alike!  Since we love it so much, I decided it was time to share it with all of you.

Recipe courtesy of the "Southern Living at Home" Magazine, January 2011 issue.

Baked Smokin' Macaroni and Cheese

Makes 8 total servings.
Hands on time: 25 minutes - Total time: 1 hour

1 lb. uncooked cellentani (corkscrew) pasta  [we use Cavatappi]
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 C. all-purpose flour
3 C. fat-free milk
1 (12-oz.) can fat-free evaporated milk
1 C. shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1/2 c. shredded 1.5% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
3 oz. fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper, divided
1 (8-oz.) package chopped smoked ham
Vegetable cooking spray
1 1/4 C. Cornflakes cereal, crushed
1 Tbsp. butter, melted

[Side note by me: I have found it necessary to prepare all of the ingredients before you start making this dish, as the timing of it all requires you to be able to just grab it for use].

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare pasta according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Gradually whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in milk and evaporated milk until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Whisk in Gouda cheese, next 3 ingredients, and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper until smooth.  Remove from heat, and stir in ham and pasta.

3. Pour pasta mixture into a 13-x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Stir together crushed cereal, 1 Tbsp. melted butter, and remaining 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper; sprinkle over pasta mixture.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Then serve to the masses!  Please don't tell Monte that I put a picture of him in this pink shirt on my blog - it's a painting shirt and he doesn't wear it away from the house.  It just might embarrass him to know it went viral! :)

My only change to this recipe is that I use red pepper flakes instead of ground red pepper, and I put it on each individual serving as requested since some of my kids can't handle that spice!

Stay tuned for a future "In the Kitchen" featuring Iain's favorite birthday cake!