Wednesday, November 25, 2015



Our thankfulness to God is just overflowing. We could not be more thankful for the journey God has brought us on. Last year I wrote:

Thanksgiving 2014: 
We pray unceasingly that this little girl will one day be put into our arms alive and well. We have so much to be thankful for as we see this little life, so FULL of life! So full of innocence and so full of movement. Every time she moves, my distracted mind thinks about her, that special moment - that moment we prayed for for so long. I wish I could say I can multi-task, but with this girl, I have a one track mind. When she moves, I move too - my hand gently finds her little foot, hand, head, whatever it may be, and I just soak in all that she is doing inside of me. My mind often wondering what she is thinking and doing in there as she can get pretty wild, but those wild tendencies just remind of God's grace in our lives.

To think that last year, this little girl was still growing inside, a little girl that we would soon hold. And now that we do hold her tightly in our arms, our arms and hearts just overflow with thankfulness to God. Truly, the gift of life, is given ONLY by God. The gift of life is just that - a GIFT.

So on this Thanksgiving eve, we praise God for giving us the gift of new life. Of renewed dreams. Of renewed hope. We give thanks for little Mazy Grace!

Our hearts overwhelmed...

Our hearts so full...

Of God's amazing grace!

Happy Thanksgiving!

How To Make The Most of Black Friday

I posted this last year, but thought it would be a good reminder with BLACK FRIDAY just around the corner!

I sometimes do not know what to think about Black Friday. For weeks, there have been commercials about when certain deals are starting for weeks. In fact, many stores have started their "Black Friday" sales at the beginning of the month! Then I wonder, why do we make such a big deal about Black Friday?

To be completely honest, it's sad that these sales technically only happen during the holiday season. It begs the question, if all of these stores claim this is their "Black Friday", why don't they have these type of sales more often? Why wait until November and December? Yes, obviously this is the big buying season - I get that. But if these stores can afford to have these types of sales, think about how much we are overspending the other 10 or 11 months?

The older I get, the more I enjoy shopping online! With some things, I enjoy supporting the local business owner, but when it comes to most things, I am able to save money by shopping online in the comforts of my own home, with free shipping. Because we do not live close to many stores, we have to factor in what it costs to drive into town!

Are you a Black Friday shopper? Do you dread the day or look forward to it? I know that for many, it's a rush. Yes, I do enjoy going out that day, even though I do most of my Christmas shopping beforehand. Mostly it's because I love Christmas! The spirit and love, I just can't get enough of!

I usually spend Black Friday with my family, which is time together more than anything. At lunchtime, we gather for a meal, regroup, and decide if we need to stop at a few more stores afterwards. If not, we head home.

How about you? What does Black Friday look like for you? How do you prepare for Black Friday? In all of the hustle and bustle, it's easy to forget some very simple steps to make your day that much more enjoyable!

How To Prepare For Black Friday:
1. First see if there are any items you can buy online, ahead of time. You can save gas money, often get free shipping, and even prepare your "shopping cart" days and weeks before, then day of, click "submit order".

2. Check the newspaper for sales ads. Are there any helpful coupons?

3. Make sure it's a good deal. Is it going to be worth standing in line for? Or can you buy 2 days before or after, without the hassle?

4. Make a list. A list will be an incredible time and money saver! If it's not on the list, do not buy it!

5. Write down a list of stores to go to. Why get stuck in traffic on a road you have no use traveling on? Know what stores you need to go to and even draw a map if needed! Plan your route!

6. Keep hydrated. When you are doing all that walking, you might get thirsty and hungry by 9:30am! Bring water and a granola bar to tie you over until lunchtime. This also prevents you from buying those aisle items that are only full of sugar and are not real craving quenchers.

7. What is the return policy? If you may have to return the item, is it worth buying?

8. Wear good walking shoes! Yes, it's always fun to look cute and trendy, but are you going to pay for it throughout the day? Let's be honest - we've all seen our fair share of "just out of bed-ers" who did nothing but jump straight into the car and go shop! Don't waste your time looking perfect - spend time dressing comfortable!

9. Have fun and don't be greedy. If you want to see one of the worst sides of the American society, shop on Black Friday. Why does it always seem like there are some who just "ruin" the fun? They are pushing, shoving, yelling at the cashier, you name it. What if we all went into the day with an extra dose of patience and a Christ-like attitude?

10. Check your receipts. Make sure all the discounts were taken off and you were charged the right amount.

11. Wrap! When you get home, if you have time, why not start to wrap some of those gifts? Get a head start!

12. Be THANKFUL. This is supposed to be a fun time - spend time with your family and friends. And remember what the day before was - THANKSGIVING. Be thankful for what you have (even if you weren't able to get all you wanted to). We all have more than we need!

Below is a FREE Black Friday Shopping Printable!

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Starting The New Year Off Right With A Personal Planner

I know when it comes to preparing for the new year, one thing I always look forward to is getting a new planner. 

Over the past few years, I have bought an inexpensive one from a local grocery store. I would use it for a few months and by about March or April, it was at the bottom of the pile. Unused. Instead, I found myself just writing on our wall calendar, every little detail of our life. And trust me, wall calendars are not made for that! 

Whenever I bought a planner before, there were parts of the planner that were often irrelevant for me or areas that were unused. Also, some of the sections I used were bigger than I needed and some were too small, to fit all that I wanted (such as an area for notes). One day I went on a hunt for a customizable planner. I found a company called Personal-Planner out of Sweden. I decided to give them a try and I must say, this is by far, the best planner I have ever had. Their options far exceeded my needs and I now have found a company that I will stick with, every year when it comes to planner-ordering time!

Personal-Planner lives up to it's business name. They are personal in the sense of very easy to work with, but also personal in the sense that you can personalize your planner to fit your style, wants, and needs. 

There are 4 different sizes to choose from. The A5, wide, square, and mini. I chose the A5 because I typically buy a planner that is roughly an 8x6 size anyways. Price-wise, they run between $30-$40 dollars (though for my readers, look for a discount coupon code below), which includes tax and shipping. 

When it comes to the customizing process, I have to say that it is a lot of fun. Like I said before, what I really like about the Personal-Planner is that you can customize so many parts of the planner to make it yours and fit your needs. For instance, you can choose from various patters, designs, themes, all with different color options as well for the cover (both front and back), but you can also upload your own images. I decided to design my own front and back covers using PicMonkey. It is a free photo-editing program, so I just uploaded a white picture, sized it to the planner cover that I was designing (8x6), and designed it. 

Next came the actual designing of the planner. First of all, you can start your planner with any month. I decided to start mine at December 2015 because I do not currently have a planner and December is known to be a busy month for us (and I'm sure for you as well).

Here is an example of what I chose each week to look like:

It also comes with an overview before the start of each month:

You can also choose how you want the layout of each week to look like, which can also include personal dates, like birthdays, yearly special events, etc.

Along the bottom, there are 3 modules that you can customize to include a workout checklist, to-do list, meal planning list, and more. I chose to have 2 sections left blank with module 3 ruled.

There are 3 sections in back that are also completely customizable. I chose to have an overview of the next 2 years (2016 and 2017) along with ruled pages for notes. You can also choose graph paper, and even a lesson-planning section for teachers if you'd like!

Other parts that I like about the Personal-Planner?

  • A heavy-duty clear cover 
  • Comes with a ruler and plastic pocket insert
  • The edges are color coded by month so tabs are not needed
  • Choice of color is also available for the elastic closure

Personal-Planner has offered my readers a discount on one of their planners (your choice!) Use the discount code D-XFEE-JUEI and you will receive a 15% discount on their website until December 13!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Why I Deleted My Pinterest Account

I am just as shocked as you probably are.

Yesterday, while I was doing dishes (we do not have a dishwasher), I was thinking about all of the things I had to do. As I was scrambling, thinking about how I was going to get them all done, I took a look at my daughter and decided: it's time to stop being bound by things that do no matter.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of going on a women's retreat with one of the churches my husband is a youth pastor at. The topic was "Understanding True Freedom". Of course, only true freedom can be found in Christ. Though, I found myself feeling bound, feeling "not good enough" or unaccomplished in some areas. I realized that I have a heart issues (spiritually speaking) that I have to deal with:


Being a blogger, I sometimes feel this pressure to make it big. To have this blog that 1000s read. When I had my Organizing Life With Less blog, I spent countless hours developing that website. Though, I would always be envious of those who made it big in the organizing world. I found myself trying to live up to what they were doing. Though it became what I would call successful, I realized after having Mazy, it was taking up too much of my time. It was taking away from her. So, I decided to import all of those posts into this new site: www, I didn't want to give up blogging altogether, but still enjoyed writing about organizing, but also my personal life, which I can now do here.

Back to envy. I found myself looking at Pinterest, trying to find ways to make our life "better". At that time, I saw "better" as being able to DIY everything, being able to say I was "that" mom who lived up to the 10 best ways to love your child. Being able to make a 5 course meal for supper, that was Martha Stewart approved. I thought why not? I am a stay at home mom (minus 2 days), so I should be able to do all of these things, right?!

That is where I felt bound. I realized that who I was trying to be was not Kristin, but everyone else. I was on Pinterest looking for a recipe and I realized I didn't even enjoy what I was doing. I felt bound. Yes, we are trying to eat healthier and more "clean", but I don't need Pinterest to tell me how to do that. I need my heart to tell me that.

I became sick of trying to live up to this Pinterest life. This do it all yourself life. Yes, I love to DIY. Always have. Yes, I love to make food from scratch and eat healthy. I would even love to live off the grid someday (okay, call us weird). But I don't need Pinterest to tell me how. I know how. It's pretty simple. Don't buy processed foods (okay, we still buy some!)

Pinterest was taking away from who I wanted to be. I desire to be Kristin. The woman God created me to be, in His image. The woman who God uniquely gifted to live out His mission here on earth. The woman who does not have it altogether. The woman who does envy. The woman who wants to stop being envious of Pinterest and be the woman who is set free from it all.

So I deleted my Pinterest account.

One of the big things I used Pinterest for was for recipes and how to make homemade baby food. The thing is, all of that information I can find on the internet. In fact, it goes directly to the source, instead of having to go through Pinterest first. What I need, is to be Kristin and not worry about who I am not. I honestly was not an avid Pinterest-er, but I am trying to rid my life of the things I feel bound by.

I realized too, that I did not need to pin all these ideas on how to decorate my home. How to throw the perfect party. How to make the perfect gift. How to dress like a celebrity. How to do my hair perfectly. You see, we do not want to spend our money on those things. I am not saying these things in and of themselves are wrong, by all means! Please do not take this the wrong way. I think getting ideas is a good idea! I do it for baby food! Trust me, it's not like I'm never going to use the internet again to scrounge up an idea for a party or an idea for a dessert. I so will! I just do not need to be bombarded by the options and reminders of what I am NOT doing.

I still dream! Though, Dan and I are about making memories and experiences - through exploring God's creation. We dream about where we would like to travel to. Where we would like to take Mazy. The experiences we want to have as a family. Those are the things that matter to us.

Someone once said (actually I am sure many have), that when on the death bed, you rarely hear people say that they wish they made more money, had a bigger house, had more clothes, made fancy meals, etc. What you hear them say is that they wished they spent more time with their families and on the things that really matter.

That is the legacy I want to leave.

And in order for me to help live out that legacy, like spending quality time with my family, I had to delete my Pinterest account. Not everyone should. I am NOT saying you should either. Not that it took up all my time (like I said, I wasn't an avid pinner), but I do not want to be remembered as someone who tried to be someone she was not. I want to be Kristin. A daughter of the King. A wife. A mom. A family.

Now being a mom, I do not have time to do my hair always, wear the perfect outfit (honestly, sometimes yoga pants and a sweatshirt is about as far as I get), or make supper (I am glad Dan likes grilled cheese). And not having time is the BEST time. Because my time is now filled kissing my daughters cheeks. Rocking her to sleep. Reading books to her. Making her laugh. The life I live is how Mazy will see life lived. I do not want her to grow up wishing she was someone she wasn't. Who she is, is perfect. She is the one and only Mazy Grace! And I want to raise her like that. But that starts with me. It starts with me realizing that I am Kristin. The one and only crazy Kristin.

So what do you feel bound by? What makes you feel envious of others? What is stopping you, from being YOU? Uniquely YOU? What do you need to rid your life of in order to be uniquely YOU?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mazy Is 8 Months Old!

And this is why I love this age:

There is never a dull moment when it comes taking pictures of this cutie! Forget trying to keep a sticker on her! Happy 8 months, baby girl!

There is just way too much going on around the house to stop and look at the camera!

She will chew on anything!

Look at that little smirk behind that sticker...

Stats: Unsure, but we know she is growing length-wise because many of her pants are too short!

Food: Mazy still eats about every 3-4 hours and drinks about 5-6 ounces each time. We feed her a fruit or vegetable twice a day and then cereal at night. She can now eat Gerber Puffs if we break them up into 1/4s, which is a small towards chewing food, I suppose! She still does not do great with textured foods like homemade pureed meats, but she will eat basically anything!

Size: Mazy wears 9-12 month clothes, 6-9 and 9 month onesies, 12 month sleepers, and some 18 month pants for length. She wears size 3 diapers all of the time now. She is pretty skinny, but 3s give me (and her) some wiggle room, so I know she won't wet through them.

Routine: Nighttime sleep has been a bit more difficult for her because of teething. A few months ago, I thought she was teething, but now I am starting to understand what teething really is! She is a cute little drool monster, who has a tough time sleeping sometimes. Some nights she won't fall asleep solidly until about 3, but other nights she will sleep through the night. Tylenol does not seem to help, so we just pick her up and rock her (I know, rough life, right?) Honestly, those late nights with her are precious, when I put sleep aside. She just nuzzles into your arms and falls asleep. The transfer from arms to crib is a bit difficult, but holding her is just such a beautiful thing! I often have the radio playing quietly and what joy it is to sing over her! I know one day these days will be no more.

Mazy typically wakes up between 7:30 and 8:00am. We feed her a bottle, play for a bit, then after about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, she is ready for her morning nap. She usually sleeps about an hour, then it's feed time again. After that, either we go for a walk or run errands. By about 1:00 she is ready for another nap, where she will sleep about another hour (or more). When she gets up, another bottle and more play time. Between 4:30 and 5:30, she is ready for 1 more nap, where she will sleep for about 30 minutes or an hour. At night, we give her cereal at 7:30, a bath if needed, a bottle at 8, and bedtime somewhere between 8:15 and 9:15. That little girl just loves to play, so sometimes she is not ready for bed until later (which actually helps her sleep better at night, if she can make it that long).

  • Mazy sits up completely on her own, with no support
  • She LOVES to stand up still! I
  • Mazy wants to crawl, but doesn't quite understand how, so she gets frustrated. Otherwise tummy time is going much better!
  • She doesn't roll a lot because she just loves to sit up now.
  • For naps, Mazy sleeps in her crib or bouncy. We can put her down awake and she will put herself to sleep. Sometimes we can tell she won't fall asleep, so we try again about 15 minutes later and then it usually works.
  • Mazy's hands do what she wants them to do 
  • She likes to wave at everything!
  • She reaches her hand out to see if she can touch EVERYTHING. It's adorable!
  • Mazy says "Da-da" and "Ma-ma" but doesn't understand what she is saying (though we like to claim she does)
  • Mazy loves the walker at church
  • She likes to walk when you hold onto her hands
  • Mazy has learned to clap! If we say "YAY", she will typically clap
  • She is starting to get the hang of her sippy cups, that she has to tip it up

Other Things To Remember:
  • Mazy still loves books - she knows where the touch 'n feel parts of a book are
  • She enjoys playing the piano and listening to me play it
  • She will chew on anything we give her - we hope those teeth will pop through soon!
  • She loves her mesh fresh food chew toy!
  • She loves to shop while riding in the cart
  • Mazy likes to sit on our bay window and watch the world go by
  • She LOVES to dance
  • She likes to play with balls and hit them
  • Walks and bike rides never get old for her
  • She is starting to learn how to show off - she knows when she is being cute!
  • She lets us know when she is angry - she knows how to throw her WubbaNub when she is mad!
  • For some reason, she does not like to get her pajamas on and to have her diaper changed
  • Bathtime is still a favorite!
  • She thinks it's hilarious when she toots in the tub and the bubble come up - she giggles every time! We don't giggle when there is a result of those toots though!
Mazy's smile and big blue eyes just continue to melt our hearts! She has such a goofy personality! Everyone comments on how much she just loves life and people and it is so true! She continually teaches us to love and live life to the fullest! It has been fun to introduce new foods to her, like meats (even though she isn't a fan of them). We are starting to have those feelings of "she's growing up way too fast", yet at the same time, it is so much fun to see her grow. Before we know it, she will be crawling! Makes me tear up to just think about the blessing she is to us. What a special gift from God, that we have the privilege of "opening" everyday.

We love you, sweet Mazy girl!

How To Declutter Cords + Giveaway!

I have what I would like to call "troubled" spots in our home. These are areas of our home that are disorganized, but I have yet to find a solution on how to solve the disorganization.

I don't know if you have any "troubled" areas in your home, but one of my biggest ones is the constant mess of cords. Our phone, internet,  and micro cell cords have created such a mess on our kitchen counter. Unfortunately the mess of cords can be seen by all, which is a bit of an embarrassment, but I just couldn't find a feasible solution!

One day, I was searching for ways to organize cords, and I happened upon a company on Etsy called Above The Fray. What I like about Etsy is that they are companies who are trying to make it in the small business world, so I enjoy supporting businesses through Etsy. 

Above The Fray makes cable bands that solve the issue of cord disarray. After gathering the cord, just slip the band around the coil and with it's elastic band, it will hold the cables snug and keep them organized. The cable bands are made of durable fabric elastic that stretched to fit a wide range of cables, like computer power cords, phone cords, and you can even double it up for organizing cables that are small in size.

If you are looking to organize your cords and cables, Above the Fray has offered to giveaway a set of cable bands to one reader! 

  • Giveaway starts Thursday, November 19, 2015 and ends Monday, November 23, 2015 at 11:59pm.
  • One winner will be chosen via
  • Open to U.S. residents only and must by 18 years or older
  • I will email the winner and the winner has 1 week to confirm.
  • Winner be shipped one package of cable bands, free of charge!
  • Please enter below via rafflecopter! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Copycat Famous Dave's Mac 'N' Cheese

At a birthday party we were at recently, our friends had catered Famous Dave's. It had been YEARS since the last time I had eaten there, so I obviously forgot how good their food was! Wowzas (I know, a real professional word, right?)

One of my favorites was the mac 'n' cheese. I have tried numerous homemade mac 'n' cheese recipes over the years. When I was pregnant, I always craved Wal-Mart's Great Value thick and creamy mac 'n' cheese. I could eat a whole box myself, but I did divide it up into well, 2 servings. Better than one, right? When I would try to make something similar, the cheese always ended up "mealy" in a sense. I was never fully satisfied and decided to just keep trying. 

Often with "famous" recipes, you can find copycat recipes online. I decided to see if I could find one for the Famous Dave's mac 'n' cheese and sure enough! There were numerous out there, but all had roughly the same ingredients. This recipe is adapted from a LA Times newspaper article. I tweaked it just a tad for our liking and I must say, it was incredibly good! It was creamy, tasty, and very filling! This will definitely be my go-to homemade mac 'n' cheese recipe!

Copycat Famous Dave's Mac 'N' Cheese

  • 3 T. butter
  • 3 T. flour
  • 2 c. milk
  • 3/4 c. half and half
  • 1 T. mustard
  • 2 t. barbecue sauce
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
  • 8 oz. colby cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 c. fresh parmesan cheese
  • 2 jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1 T. fresh parsley
  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni cooked and drained

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Melt butter over medium heat 
3. Whisk in flour
4. Slowly whisk in milk and then half and half 
5. Whisk in mustard, barbecue sauce, salt and pepper
6. Simmer the sauce and whisk frequently for 8 minutes
7. Whisk in all cheeses and frequently stir until melted
8. Stir in macaroni
9. Pour into 9x13 pan
10. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly

**Note: the original recipe calls for aged white cheddar cheese, instead of 4 oz. cheddar cheese, but aged white cheddar is expensive, so I substituted with the regular cheddar cheese. Also, the jalapenos do not make it too spicy (that is coming from someone who doesn't like real spicy food)