life is beautiful

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's been fun...

I've had a lot of fun with this blog in 2011, but it's time for me to re-prioritize and keeping up with this blog is something that needs to go.  I'll miss you and wish you the best in your search for beauty in God's lovely creation!
You can still follow our family at www.thepabodys.com and I hope to spend more time/energy over at www.teachingofkindness.wordpress.com.
Merry Christmas, and because I can't resist.... I have to tell you that

Baby Sock Advent Calendar (Garland)

Image taken by my little guy!
On the day after Thanksgiving our sweet, innocent 4 year old woke up (and stayed up, mind you!) at FOUR (4) AM because he was SO excited for Christmas!  
I'd had this cute twist on an advent calendar in mind, but it became a necessity when we realized he was going to wake up early and excited every single day until his Christmas dreams came true!
Most of these sweet socks were actually worn by my babies, (some of them are colorful hand me downs from a very special friend - you know who you are!) and some of them I shamelessly scavenged from the 25 cent bin at our favorite consignment shop because of their radiant and whimsical patterns!  I didn't go ahead and fill each sock (to help keep temptation at bay) but each night I put a little scrap of paper with something special we've planned for the next day and a little treat in the appropriate sock so it's ready for the next morning.  
I've done some necessary activities like "decorate the entry" or "put up the Christmas tree" and other very simple ones like "take a walk tonight to see neighborhood Christmas lights."  Later in the month I have some more serious ones like "help a hungry person eat a hot lunch," and "give away too small coats to kids who need them," and there is a daddy-son and a mommy-son date to be snuck in for our oldest.  I put activities that we were already planning ("Tonight is our church's Christmas musical!" and "Bake & decorate Christmas cookies with sprinkles," etc.) as well as some surprise events ("Invite some friends for hot chocolate and a movie at our house this afternoon") to keep him guessing, and it's turning into a great way to keep him happy but not overwhemingly excited for the Big Day.
As for the treats, last year I bought a cute ready-made calendar from Ikea and it was basically a plastic candy mold covered in pretty cardboard with windows over each candy for the days of December.  After the holiday I tore off the cardboard and kept that adorable candy mold!  So this year I'm making a few candies at a time with it (each has a different design - adorable) and putting 2 in each sock at night.  (Gotta love re-using/repurposing! Yay!)

Now if you're inspired to make your own, here are some ideas:  I've seen lots of cute sock advent displays, but my favorite (and first...) was Sara'sLove it!
image from www.sara-mincy.blogspot.com

And of course there's this adorable one (that's been pinned 5 kajillion times!) by the lovely Martha.

Image from www.marthastewart.com
And there's this one from Little Bit Funky that I like a lot, too!  I looovve how she uses other things (including some of her favorite outsized baby clothes on the garland to make white and solid-colored baby socks festive for Christmas.
image from www.littlebitfunky.com
Here's a sweet "stocking countdown calendar" from Family Fun Magazine with a TON of cool ideas and suggestions for sock stuffers (riddles?! get out of chore free cards?! a new pair of socks - ha! guess mom took them all for the garland!).

 Sooo, now that you're all inspired just give Pinterest a little search and see what ideas you get.  And if you get busy, I'd love to see what you do! Happy month of joy!

Christmas Cookies and JOY

We're having a blast already with sparkly decorations and sprinkley sugar cookies...

Aaaaaaand... you can grab some FREE print-out "joy" right here!

Happy December!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Printable

FREE, fresh, seasonal "art" for your home! Here on the Betty Crocker Wannabe blog.

This free printout is from last year, and now the blog's author is writing over at A Simply Klassic Home, where she has kazillions of amazing current Christmas ideas happening.  Stop over and check her out! :)
Starting Thursday, December 1 she's even kicking off "12 Days of Christmas Printables" (I'm so excited!!!!!) AND she has a heart for showcasing the less commercial, less secular aspects of our beautiful upcoming holiday!  I'm SO excited to see what she has to offer!  Stay tuned.... and have a happy day!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday is Special - Give Thanks and Praise the LORD!

Psalm 150 

Praise the LORD!
    Praise God in his sanctuary;
        praise him in his mighty heavens!
    Praise him for his mighty deeds;
        praise him according to his excellent greatness!
    Praise him with trumpet sound;
        praise him with lute and harp!
    Praise him with tambourine and dance;
        praise him with strings and pipe!
    Praise him with sounding cymbals;
        praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
    Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
    Praise the LORD!

(Psalm 150 ESV) (Listen here!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Psalm 100

    Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
        Serve the LORD with gladness!
        Come into his presence with singing!
    Know that the LORD, he is God!
        It is he who made us, and we are his;
        we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
    Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
        and his courts with praise!
        Give thanks to him; bless his name!
    For the LORD is good;
        his steadfast love endures forever,
        and his faithfulness to all generations.

(Psalm 100 ESV) (Listen here!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


God is SO GOOD!


Originally submitted at UncommonGoods

A child's imagination is unique as a fingerprint across their minds dance bumbling creatures that the world has never seen. Unleash that creative ability with this hands-on, fingerprint art set. Each tin contains 3 pads of washable, non-toxic ink for making fingerprints. Also included are 10 c...

Perfect gift for 4 year old boy!
5out of 5
Pros: fun, Compact, Colorful, Portable, Creative, Good Quality
Best Uses: Art projects, Card Making, Children, Quiet time play
This was a perfect present for my 4 y.o. son who loves to "draw." It gives him great ideas for how to use shapes to make realistic animals and it provides him the ability to make creatures that are realistic. He is very proud of his work. The carrying case is compact, making it perfect for traveling. Baby wipes work well to get excess ink off of fingertips (he's careful anyway, but if you child is messy this might NOT be a good travel toy). I see this set as a great stepping stone to Ed Emberley books!

Books We've Loved This Thanksgiving

With a preschooler and toddler at home, we've really enjoyed these special books this Thanksgiving season.

(On the first few pages of this book, I changed Pilgrims to "Separatists" when I read aloud just to help it be a tad more correct and to work towards future expansion on this era in history.)

(This one was a special favorite! The little guy had so much fun comparing the differenced between the first Thanksgiving and how we celebrate today, and I LOVED the creative artwork!)

This turned out to be much more than a fun tale of Thanksgiving! It was great for rehearsing the elements of how we celebrate Thanksgiving Day but also sparked interesting discussions about deceit and honesty. It ends with the family being thankful for each other - delightful!

This was perfect for our little lady.... but the little man loved its simplicity and sweet artwork too!

Have you read these books? Do you have more to recommend? Please tell me! :) These books will remain in our November repertoire for years to come, I'm sure, but there's always room for a new treasure, and next year is coming faster than I'd like to imagine...

Another November favorite of ours is

...which is very special because the author grew up and set the story only about 60 miles from where we live!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DIY Holiday Handwash

I looooooove this stuff!
But you know what?  I don't really love its price tag (even with a Black Friday coupon!).

A few months ago on Pinterest I discovered a wonderful handy trick for making your own foaming hand soap (to re-use those great foaming soap bottles), and I tried it and it worked marvelously!  I had some unopened baby wash left over from a generous shower gift (two extra bottles!) and now I only use about 2-3 Tbsp of it each time I refill my foaming soap pump.  I figure I'm saving big bucks each time I refill and make my own instead of buying a new bottle!

So I've been going along, completely happy with my frugal hand soap solution UNTIL.... I went to do a bit of Christmas shopping.  (You know there's nothing better to make you want, want, want than that, right?!)  There I was walking around smelling all the gorgeous holiday scents and I started remembering this Vanilla Bean Noel soap, and I started thinking about how I used to buy it every year and how special I thought it was for house guests to wash with something so delicious-smelling, and how that was such a nice tradition aaaaaand of course I wandered over to the soap shop and started gazing longingly at the Christmas soaps.... you know how it goes!  But I eventually stopped drooling, decided not to buy it that day, finished my errands and took my self right home before $12 of holiday bathroom cheer leaped out of my wallet.

Later THIS VERY WEEK I was organizing under my bathroom cabinet (hunting the baby soap because it was time to refill my frugal foaming soap and lo and behold I discovered a forgotten bottle of warm vanilla sugar body spray (another generous gift!).  Suddenly I thought, WHAT... IF... I pour some of this into my soap mixture?!?!?!?!

And ohhhhhh, I'm so glad that I did it because now I can share my little trick with you! Try this if you dare - I promise you won't regret it.  Neither will your pocketbook!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday is Special

"O man [or woman] of God.... pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness."

PLUS.......... an amazing, free, downloadable printable of this verse from Joy's Hope! <3

Friday, November 11, 2011

I'm Thankful for Your Sacrifice

Thank you, men and women of our wonderful military, for serving, for keeping us safe, for making the world a safer place, for giving your lives in the ultimate selfless sacrifice.  God bless you and your precious families especially today. We appreciate you!

Happiness = Books

Image Source: flickr.com via Amanda on Pinterest

Ok, we are more than a little book-crazy in our house.... weekly library trips (we get to walk because we're blessed to be so close!), daily story time (no, I'm not super-mom: they beg for it when I'm lazy about it!), my man soaks up audio books on his lengthy commute, orders, reads and shares kabillions of books from CBD and especially on these cozy dark nights (I'm so blessed that they are cozy for me - don't want to forget that!!!) I loooove to curl up with a good biography or a little classic fantasy...

The 4th installment of the Happy Day Project has to do with books, and what could be better?!  Day 4 is called "Book for a Friend" and they propose that you bless a friend by giving them a book.  How delightful!
My time is short today, but I want to show you my latest greatest reads.  A very dear friend (who knew I checked this treasure out of the library but ran out of time to finish it before it was due!) loaned me her newly purchased copy of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy and I am currently devouring it.  What an amazing man of character, what a hero, what an inspiration was Bonhoeffer!  If you have a friend who loves history and/or biography, this would be the perfect way to bless them today.

Don't forget the lovely Happy Day Project ladies have coordinated truly gorgeous printables to go with your book-gifts!

  My dear sister-in-law gave me a link with coupon for this book (via Christianaudio.com) this week, and I've just started listening to it. Elyse Fitzpatrick has long been one of my favorite authors and her other books have been life-changing for me and great tools to use while helping others.  I'm so excited to see how this book will affect my child-rearing and am SURE it will be useful when encouraging others!
 I wish I had carved out more time to tell you about what else I'm reading/listening to (The Wise Woman, Loving the Little Years, The Littlest Pilgrim, but maybe you can tell me what YOU'RE reading? What would (will?!?) you gift a friend with today?

 Enjoy your happy day!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Will You Be A Helper?

We haven't been out on the town, but Wednesday's project is in our near future (hopefully tomorrow).  Let me just tell you, this project truly touched my heart in unexpected ways.
Image from menmedia.co.uk
Living near one of our nation's major cities allows me to see many homeless people, but somehow that frequent contact has started to harden me to their plight.  I certainly feel compassion for them, but being face to face with their sheer numbers has shown me the hard reality:  I am unable as an individual to help everyone.... and honestly I've stopped helping at all.
I smile kindly but keep walking. 
I avoid eye contact at the interstate exit and will the red light to change faster.
While reflecting on this project, I've recalled a very special memory of my grandmother.  As we drove out of a shopping center in central Florida one day in the mid-80's, we passed a homeless man with his cardboard sign, and I watched in amazement as tears began to roll down my tenderhearted Mima's face.  She quickly made a left turn back into the shopping center and marched into the grocery store, quietly bought a loaf of bread and packages of lunch meat and cheese, and when we drove out of the shopping center the second time, she rolled down her window and handed them to the man.  I know she said something to him, but I don't remember her words.  What I do remember is the man's expression.  Even to my child's mind he looked encouraged and softened - even relieved - to receive a kind word and a meal.
PLEASE, please go here and read Life Rearranged's post about this project.  Her words haunt me and spur me on to compassion in action.  Can I help everyone?  No, of course not.  But can I help someone? Yes.  Yes, I can. By giving them a little McD's gift card to help with a meal? Yes.
Is my greater desire to help them with something of eternal value? Yes.
Might the kindness of meeting a bit of their physical need lead to a conversation where I can share how God has changed my own life? Yes!  Might the kindness of meeting a bit of their physical need simply soften their hearts and get them ready for what God wants to do for them eternally? Yes.
This is a very timely project for me.  At first I thought I couldn't do it, because I have such little ones.... because I don't have a lot of extra spending $ right now.... because I'm sure the people standing around in my town are just too lazy to do anything else but beg.  -gasp- Yes, the thought really went through my mind! :(  But those are excuses, and while I certainly wouldn't endanger my precious little people there are plenty of ways I can show kindness in front of them to a homeless person while staying safe, and a $7 giftcard is not such a hardship, and as for my last objection, well, these words ring loud in my ears.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Paris, Anyone?

Are you in the mood for something beautiful and creative as the days get chillier (or rainier or snowier?!) and playing outside gets a little more challenging?

Just take a little look at these amazing free template printouts from MadeByJoel!

Wow, wow and wow.

(You can even see how other 'kids' are playing with this cityscape (and other cool cities, vehicles, cutouts, coloring pages and fun, fun crafts on Joel's Facebook page.)

My own little guy loves playing with these paper "dolls."   One day we'll color them perhaps but we're just enjoying them one step at a time! Delightful!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happiness in Action

We're trying to do the Happy Day Project this week, and just as a quick update, we've been VERY happy making chocolate chip cookies, using these adorable labels and delivering to a few very special friends!

Also we're making love notes for other friends....

You can do this too!  It took little actual time out of our day and is a great, special way for me to reach out and love those around me. Plus, I get to teach my little ones that loving those around us and sharing our happiness is important. It's perfectly beautiful!  We have so much to be thankful for!

The Happy Day Project

Happy Day project #1 Design by Mique of 30 Handmade Days
I'm lovin' the joint project over at Joy's Hope and Life Rearranged this week!  They are full of inspiring ideas to share happiness with those around you, gorgeous free printables and practical ways to help specific women who are struggling right now.  These women's stories and the coordinator's objective, reachable suggestions of how we can reach out of our own comfortable lives to help them today will change your life, if you're open to it.
Please go by to see what these ladies are up to.  You'll be blessed and inspired to make the lives of others more beautiful this week!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Please Help Today (November 4, 2011)

Today's the last day to vote for ABBA Fund (adoption funding helpers) to win up to a $50K grant from @GivingOfLife. Please take a minute to go vote here: http://givingoflife.com/browse/abba_fund

ABBA Fund provides interest free loans for adoption. ABBA Fund helps families overcome the financial barrier to adoption by maximizing the $13,170 per child federal adoption tax credit. Visit www.abbafund.org to learn more.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lovely Free Printable from Joy's Hope

Don't you just adore this?  It's perfect - the message, the colors, everything.  It's so cheery and just what I really and truly need to see every morning. Go here to download it, print it as fast as you possibly can (I'm doing mine at Costco because they just turn out so nice there) and put it where you'll lay your little eyes on it often. (Mine's by my bathroom mirror.)

AND, guess what? (Yes, it gets better!) This little goodie is a harbinger of something I'm super-excited about: The Happy Day Project at Joy's Hope Blog!  Stay tuned to learn more!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Candy Corn Marshmallows

While we don't celebrate halloween in our family (some of this stuff bothers us, so we've made a personal choice not to be a part of it), we surely do enjoy fall treats and harvest-type festivities.  In fact, if the weather cooperates, we have a HUGE fall family day planned this coming Saturday and I promise to treat you to tons of pictures and ideas! Yay!

One of our little man's favorite projects this fall has been these Candy Corn Marshmallows.  The original recipe (as far as I can tell!) is found here at 3kidsandus.com, but I actually saw it on Pinterest. (Ohhh Pinterest, how I love thee, and how I have to limit my time with thee, for thou wouldst consume all of it if I let thee!!!)

Sooo, ours didn't turn out as neat as those pictured elsewhere (although they weren't THIS bad! Hee hee!), and I think it's because we left out the Crisco recommended by 3kidsandus, PLUS we were a bit impatient with letting them cool between colors, but we were thrilled with our results despite those small issues!

Instead of orange and yellow colored candy melts, we just used icing food coloring and vanilla [off-white] melts), whereby I was able to incorporate color mixing (for the orange) as well some excellent dexterity practice (and mommy-patience practice!) as the little guy toothpicked out the coloring and we carefully stirred the candy.

It was a super fun Sunday evening project - something simple and quick but rewarding for a boy who had done VERY well in the evening church service and was up later than little sister...


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday is Special

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 
In all your ways acknowledge him,  and he will make straight your paths."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It's Fall at Our House!

What does fall look like in your neck of the woods?
At our house, well.... why don't you just come take a look?!

We have lots of leaves and gray skies, and there's a chill in the air most of the time;

but not allll the time, as you can see.  Our petunias are still going strong right beside the pumpkins!

Come on inside.  It's warm and cozy in here!  We're so happy to have you for a visit!  Don't be surprised if a very excited boy gives tackles you with his exuberant greeting, "Happy Fall, Y'all!"

For us, fall means grapevine wreaths and fresh squash and candles.  Lots and lots and lots and lots of candles!

I just love this "In every thing give thanks" print, and it was a free download from CheepIdeas.com. This is the pumpkin color, but they also have Toast, Cranberry and Pine. Lovely!  I printed mine at Costco and it turned out beautifully.
Our neighbor's grapevines (you can see them if you peek out our window!) are a bounty this time of year.

We love fall inside and outside!

Our school area even gets a fall makeover here and there.  (Found this autographed "November Boots" book at our neighborhood thrift store for 59 cents. Wow!

This monogram "wreath" was sooo simple to make.  I just took some "scratch and dent" upholstery foam, printed out a huge letter in the font I wanted, drew it on the foam with a sharpie, cut it out with my electric turkey carver, and wrapped it with pretty ribbon. Easy-peasy!

Of course we pull out the fall linens and I find a special place for my Sara Mincy pumpkin print.  I love her work! (She's pretty loveable herself, too! ;)

I love to tuck little hints and touches of fall everywhere - just to warm up the house with color as well as to add layers that hold physical warmth to combat the damp and chill that are setting in outside.

And finally, I have to let you know that we certainly have a fair amount of snuggling and cuddling going on around here - the VERY BEST fall activity, if you ask us!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Before and After #5: Green Couch Redo

One happy yard sale-ing morning in September, 2009, I stumbled upon this beautiful Ethan Allen couch for $15.  It smelled like unkempt cats and was sticky (as if it had been kept in a frequently-fried-food environment??), but it was structurally sound and had a sightly form so I scooped it up (with some muscley help, of course.).

At first I thought the foam could be re-used, but it was ultimately UNsalvageable, so I stripped it off and started cleaning (scrub, bleach, scrape, scrub, scrub, scrub and finally a little restore-a-finish wipe-down):

We moved it inside where it housed every single available throw pillow for FOR-EV-ER while I decided what to do with it!

At one point I so despaired of knowing what to do with it that I tried to sell it on craigslist...

THANKFULLY, it was at around this time that I got completely fed up with my beige on beige on beige living room color scheme AND this fed-up-ness coincided with the relocation and liquidation of my local JoAnn's!  So long story short: my couch budget suddenly looked a LOT bigger, and after much deliberation, I yanked my craigslist ad, ordered seat cushion foam (very, very happy with the Foam Factory's customer service, prices and quality, and no, they didn't pay me to say that. ;) and snatched up some delicious deep-discount grass green fabric (in a soft but sturdy denim, believe it or not!).

That was 6 months ago, and even though I had a great plan, I was still frozen about how to execute it, until..... I came across Creative Little Daisy's excellently clear tutorial on Sew, Mama, Sew! It gave me courage and understanding on how exactly to plan out the zippers...  so I did it! (Although I skipped the piping, not out of fear mind you {I was afraid of them there zippers, though!} but out of laziness practicality...)

And I used the previous over-sized-throw-pillows-turned-too-flat-seat-cushions as foundational back cushions in the same color, plus I recovered a few of the other stand-ins for a pop of color!

What do you think? Doesn't it liven up the space?!

Well, these little chickens help in that department too.... Yay!

[I think ultimately this couch would be perfect paired with sky blue walls... Check out the color combo on my Pinterest.]