Summer Fun Flip Flops

Summer Fun Flip Flops
Hi Friends! Can you believe today is the last day of May? We only have one more week to meet with our Women of Grace girls before school lets out for the summer, so on Wednesday we had a special treat for them. We made these adorable Summer Fun Flip Flops.
All you need are a pair of cheap flip flops and a bunch of water balloons.
Simply take a balloon, stretch it out a bit and tie it onto the straps of the flip flop with a knot.
Repeat as many times as you want to, alternating the direction of the top of the balloon and the bottom of it, as well as the colors. Bunch up the balloons for a fuller look.
Some of the girls went for full coverage on the straps, while others just went with a flower up at the top.
Either way, these Summer Fun Flip Flops were a blast to make. What I love about them (besides how adorable they are) is that they can get wet and the water won't ruin them!
For our Women of Grace girls, we wrote "Walk in the Light" on the sides, as well as "I John 1:7". The bible verse is "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another..." It is meant to remind them of our time together and continuing to follow Christ this summer as they walk through their days.

Have I convinced you that this craft should be on your Summer Bucket List? These flip flops would be such a fun activity for a swim party or even a birthday present for a friend. The girls in your life are sure to "flip" for these flip flops!
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Ahhh, the Florida Beach...

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of VISIT FLORIDA for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of my favorite childhood memories was a trip a took with my cousin's family to Florida when I was 10 years old. We went to Sea World, Disneyland and Busch Gardens, as well as the beach. Ahhhh, the Florida beach...I can hear the waves crashing on the shore right now! I've seen a lot of the coasts in the US, and I have to say Florida's are some of my favorites. My kids have only been to the West Coast (Newport Beach and the Oregon Coast), but those are some of the best family vacation memories we have. Florida is on our to-do list for sure.

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Florida is known for its beautiful beaches, both oceanside and gulf side. Besides the gorgeous seashore, there is great fishing to be had, lots of golf to play, amusement parks to visit, plenty of nature to explore, and let's not forget about world class spas. Truly an adventure for everyone!

Ponce de Leon launched the travel industry for Florida 500 years ago when he first explored it in 1513. People have been flocking to the Sunshine State from all over the world ever since. To celebrate this great milestone,  VISIT FLORIDA launched Florida's 500 Years of Adventure Sweepstakes in January and it goes through the end of this year. They are giving away a trip every week in 2013 which includes rental cars, hotel accommodations and "about town" activities!

It's so easy to enter! Just go to Florida’s 500 Years of Adventure Sweepstakes to fill out the entry form. I'm already entered to win one of their awesome trips!  Also, be sure to follow @VISITFLORIDA on Twitter to keep up with the latest Florida adventures.

After looking at some of the great adventures that are coming up, I'd be most excited about winning  the Surf, Sand and Speed Vacation at The Shores Resort, which includes a ride along experience for two at Richard Petty Racing in Daytona, FL. I know my husband would love the opportunity to do the ride along experience (he always wanted to be a racecar driver) and I would definitely enjoy the surf and sand.

So, for future reference, what's your favorite vacation spot in Florida?  I'm gathering my information now so I can be ready when we actually have the opportunity to go. I'm off to daydream about the beach. Ahhh, the beach....

 

 

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Super Food Salad

 
I have confession to make. Blogging has been bad for my health. There, I said it. After a recent physical I had, I realized that my more sedentary ways and eating habits had become even worse than I thought. What was revealed was a 13 lb. weight gain over the last year and cholesterol on the high side. Yikes! Time to do something. In addition to exercise, I have tried to incorporate more vegetables and whole grains into my daily menu. (Remember my Italian Lentil Salad from a couple of weeks ago?) This Superfood Salad that I'm sharing with you today has been a great meal for me many times over the last few weeks.
Superfood Salad
(makes about 2 cups of salad- you could easily increase the amounts to be able to serve it as a side dish for a crowd)

1/2 cup cooked barley
1/2 cup steamed lentils
1/2 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup diced yellow pepper (optional)
1 Roma tomato
2 pieces marinated artichoke hearts (optional)
1 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese
1 Tbsp. red wine vinaigrette- I use a homemade dressing

Combine all ingredients, salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.
Here is some information I have gathered online about some of the ingredients in this Superfood Salad. It should be noted that I am not a health expert, but I have always heard these vegetables and grains were good for me and I went looking for why they are so important and what makes them a "superfood".
~ Lentils~
 High in fiber and protein, low in fat
 Helps reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure
Effective in fight against Type 2 diabetes by lowering overall glycemic index of diet
 High in folate which helps prevent birth defects and certain forms of cancer
Contain an abundance of antioxidants

~Barley~
Nutrient dense...packed with fiber and B Vitamins
Helps prevent colon cancer
Helps reduce cholesterol

~Spinach~
Loaded with vitamins A, K, D, and E and Iron
Anti-Cancer and Anti-Inflammatory properties
Strengthens Bones

~Tomatoes~
High in Vitamin C which aids in absorption of other nutrients like calcium and iron
Contain Lycopene which is a cancer fighter, particularly in the prevention of prostate cancer
Low in calories
High in heart healthy nutrients

This salad also has olive oil and yellow peppers which are also considered "superfoods" for their anti-inflammatory and heart healthy qualities. 

When I eat this salad, I am full for a long time and I feel like I am doing a good thing for my body. What's great about the lentils and barley are that they add to the fullness factor and blend in well with all the flavors. They say you eat with your eyes first. Well, this Superfood Salad is very colorful to look at and even better to taste. Now, if only exercising were as easy as eating these delicious nutrient-rich powerhouses! Do you have a favorite Superfood?
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Patriotic Fruit Ice Cubes


I hope you are enjoying your Memorial Day! We'll be grilling out today and enjoying some fun drinks thanks to these Patriotic Fruit Ice Cubes! They are a cinch to make and add a bit of excitement to your summer drinks!
Simply cut up some strawberries and place in ice cube trays. Add in blueberries and some water. Place in the freezer for a couple of hours and serve with your favorite light colored soda or water.
Patriotic Ice Cubes
The result is a subtle fruit flavor to make even water taste more refreshing! If we have any leftover from the day, I will put them in with my smoothies this week. Enjoy the rest of your day with your friends and family!
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Food for the Soul ~ John 15:13

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." These were the words Jesus spoke to His disciples. He paid for our freedom from sin with His very life. He paid the ultimate price to ensure that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. What a gift!

This weekend, we remember those who have fought for our country's freedom and have laid down their lives for their fellow Americans. 

For those who have bravely served in our military and have paid the ultimate price for our freedom... Thank you. May your families be blessed this Memorial Day!

Have a safe and wonderful weekend as you contemplate and appreciate the great sacrifices that have been made and continue to be made for our freedom by our friends, our countrymen!


Footed Seashell Dish

Hi Friends! Hope your Memorial Day Weekend is off to a fabulous start! For many of you, your summer vacation has even started. To get your creative juices flowing, I thought I'd share a quick and easy craft for you to do with some of the seashells you may collect at the beach this summer. This Footed Seashell Dish was made with shells we picked up on our Oregon Dunes trips in the past.
For this craft, you'll need some large seashells and a hot glue gun. After examining your stash of shells, determine which two will work well together.
Simply apply a dollop of hot glue and adhere the two shells together.
One will function as the base and the other as the dish. Ta-da! You now have a multi-purpose dish to remind you of your awesome family vacation. Now, wasn't that easy?
You could use it as a soap dish, a jewelry holder near your kitchen sink, for paperclips at your desk, or as I have done...a tiny planter for succulents in my Seashells and Succulents Centerpiece.
When we would travel with my in-laws, my SIL and I would try to have a craft to make while on our trip to remind us of our vacations together. This seashell dish was one of the crafts Donna put together. In fact, we would scour the shoreline looking for shells that were big enough to make these dishes. Now you have a mission for your little seashell scouts! What are some of your favorite mementos from family vacations?
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Chocolate Glazed Cookies

I've been digging through my trusty recipe box again. This time I found a recipe of my MIL's that I had not yet made. My husband grew up with his mom baking lots of delicious cookies from scratch. These Chocolate Glazed Cookies were some of his favorites.
Chocolate Glazed Cookies

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 (1 oz.) squares chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder; set aside. Melt chocolate squares and butter together. Stir into flour mixture. Add in brown sugar, egg, milk and vanilla, mixing thoroughly. Let the mix stand for 10 minutes before dropping by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet or a baking mat. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before glazing or frosting.

Glaze

2 Tbsp. melted margarine or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
2 Tbsp. hot water
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine oil, cocoa and hot water. Mix in sugar and vanilla. Dip cookies in glaze and allow glaze to harden.
I will admit to you that when I read the recipe and saw that it called for chocolate squares, I wasn't exactly sure how much that was. (I put in the ounces for you.) So, I may have put about double the amount I needed. Also, the original recipe just said that they were to be frosted. After asking my husband what he remembered about the cookies, we determined that it was some sort of glaze his mom would put on them. I went searching and ended up with something that worked well and came pretty close to the original cookies. I will say this, my oversight didn't keep these cookies from being devoured. They were still delicious.

I wish my MIL were still with us for many reasons, but one in particular would be so I could ask her to clarify some of the recipes she wrote down. I would love to sit in her kitchen again and watch her work her magic with so many of the wonderful recipes she left behind like the Watkins Brownies and Lee's Caramel Frosting.  I'm glad I was able to duplicate a childhood favorite for my hubby. My kids really enjoyed them too and keep asking when I am making them again. I guess that's a good sign :-)
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Summertime Blues

 
I've got the Summertime Blues. Let me correct that...my mantel has the Summertime Blues. That's right, I seem to be abandoning my "set it and forget it" ways. My spring mantel was screaming for an update and I obliged.
It all started when I used the leftover "Lagoon" spray paint to give my metal "H" from Hobby Lobby a makeover just like the Vintage Metal Cart got a couple of weeks ago.
I decided to put it up on the mantel, and pretty soon I was shopping the rest of the house for more blue items.
Here's the cute little turquoise/blue vase I picked up before Easter at Michael's. I filled it with my Free DIY Cherry Blossoms. Coming up a little short with blue items, I decided to add in some whites too.  Next to the blue vase, a white oval platter I picked up at second hand store got pulled out of the cupboard to be displayed. A pretty votive holder from World Market added a little bling.
Here in the middle of the mantel is my thrifted white footed turreen. I flanked it with some insulators I picked up at a garage sale last year.
Well, you know what they say..."There ain't no cure for the summertime blues!" Even though I have blue and white as the main colors on the mantel, I may have to add in a pop of color with some fresh flowers from time to time. Maybe some red carnations are in order for Memorial Day. I had such a good time shopping my house to put this together. It's fun using items I have in my stash from various thrifting adventures. I'm planning on purchasing a large plant to put in front of the fireplace during the summer months too. What have you done to freshen up your mantel for the summer?
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Few Words and Lots of Prayers

First of all, let me just say that there are no words to voice the emotions that are running rampant in my heart and mind today after the devastating storms in Oklahoma yesterday. My prayers are with the families affected by this beast of a storm. I hugged my kids a little longer last night as I tucked them into bed, knowing that many moms and dads wouldn't have the same privilege.
We know that life is fragile, but sometimes it takes events like these to really bring it home to us. With all the sad news, I'm praying for some stories of miracles to come out of this tragedy, stories of heroism and courage, stories of great faith and surviving against the odds.
Today, they are predicting widespread severe weather here in North Texas too. Will you join me in praying for all the areas hit by these super cells, for the families affected and for safety through the rest of this storm season? Wishing you a blessed day.

What's For Dessert? ~ Private Selection Upside Down Cakes

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Private Selection for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

What's for dessert? I must hear that question uttered no less than 14 times a week....right after lunch and dinner every...single...day. Unless I have been baking something(which may happen a couple times a week), the kids are always wondering what sweet thing they can have to eat after a meal. My go-to desserts tend to be cookies or brownies. Cakes are something I bake for special occasions only. That's why I was so glad to see that Kroger is carrying these Private Selection Upside Down Cakes. Now, I don't have to wait for a special occasion to serve my friends and family a delicious cake. I can do it for any meal.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a decadent dessert that was easy to prepare,super fast, and tastes homemade?  Kroger's Private Selection Upside Down Cakes will knock your socks off and wow your friends and family. How's easy is this?

1. Heat

2. Flip

3. Serve

Now that's something I can get behind, especially with the summer heat coming upon us. I love making delicious baked goods for my family, but when it's hot outside or when time is short, I'm not always able to deliver.

Private Selection

I absolutely love all the flavor combinations that Private Selection offers. How do these sound to you? German Chocolate Fudge Upside Down Cake with gooey caramel, rich chocolate and coconut or how about Double Chocolate Molten Upside Down Cake made with real butter, eggs and the finest chocolates. They also have an Amber Honey Apple Spice Cake with real apples drenched in a sweet amber honey glaze. Truly a taste for everyone!

Now, if you get asked to bring a dessert to a gathering or a friend pops in for a visit, you always have a delicious, gourmet dessert to serve them and it won't take you all day to prepare it. Private Selection Upside Down Cakes are premium quality without the premium price and they have done all the work for you. You just have to heat, flip, serve and get all the credit.

Kroger is offering a sweet deal for you. They have a coupon for $1.00 off and one for $2.00 if you go to  Private Selection Upside Down Cakes coupon *

Be sure to like  Private Selection Upside Down Cakes on Facebook and follow Private Selection Upside Down Cakes on Pinterest for more inspiration in the kitchen. 

The Private Selection brand is a premium private label brand carried exclusively at the Kroger Family of Stores and affiliated stores including: Baker’s, City Market, Dillons, Fry’s, Gerbes, Pay Less, QFC, JayC, King Soopers, Owen’s, Ralphs, Smith’s and Fred Meyer.

To find a store near you that offers Private Selection products, try their store locator  http://www.privateselection.co…

*Coupon ends 6/2/13. Official Rules. In order to load these coupons to your card, you will need to sign into your Kroger account or set up a Kroger account and enter your card number. Limit one use per digital coupon. Digital offers are not eligible on Manager's Specials, cannot be combined with manufacturer paper coupons on the purchase of a single item, and do not double. Not all items are available in all stores. A limit of 150 coupons can be loaded per household at one time.

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Saucy Meatballs

Before the weather gets too warm, I thought I'd share another "comfort" food recipe with you. Ever since I bought a certain Betty Crocker Cookbook at a yard sale years ago, I have been making these Saucy Meatballs. They are super easy to prepare and can be served with rice or egg noodles.
Here's what you need for the meatballs: ground beef, onion, bread crumbs, milk, Worcestershire Sauce, salt, and an egg.
Combine all ingredients and form into 1-inch balls.
Cook on stovetop in batches until browned. Drain off any grease. Return all meatballs to pan.
Here's what you need for the sauce: Cream of Chicken soup, sour cream, nutmeg and milk.
Stir in the sauce ingredients, except sour cream, and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in sour cream and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over rice or egg noodles.
Saucy Meatballs
(from Betty Crocker)
 Meatballs
1 lb. ground beef (93/7)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 egg

Mix ingredients and shape into 1 inch balls. Cook over medium heat, turning occasionally until brown, about 20 minutes. Or cook in an ungreased 13x9 pan in 400 degree oven until brown for 20-25 minutes.

Sauce
1 can (10.75 oz.) cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup milk
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sour cream

After you have cooked the meatballs in skillet, drain. Stir in soup, milk and nutmeg. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in sour cream and heat through.

These meatballs are very versatile, allowing you to pair just about any sauce with them. This "saucy" sauce is great alternative to traditional tomato based and tangy sauces. What's your favorite meatball sauce?

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Food for the Soul ~ Isaiah 54:10

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD who has compassion on you.

Isaiah 54:10

What a powerful truth from God's word! It's one I cling to this week as I try to process the horrible storms that ripped through towns around us last week leaving paths of destruction and despair. While I don't understand His ways, I trust Him with my whole heart. In the storms of life, He is my Rock and my salvation. I pray for hope, peace and comfort for those affected by the storms last week. May they be strengthened and held up by His grace and love. Wishing you, sweet readers, a wonderful week as you come into the homestretch before summer.

It's Garage Sale Time!

Hi Friends! The weather is finally warming up, people are doing their Spring Cleaning and de-cluttering, so that can only mean one thing. It's Garage Sale Time!
I just thought I'd share a few of the gems I've found recently to remind you to take a little time and go exploring yard sales on the weekends. You never know what you might find.
Remember the Seaside Summer Memories Vignette I showed you this week? Well, I picked up the vintage green bottle at our semi-annual neighborhood garage sale.
That same day, I found this awesome old wicker basket and these embroidery hoops. I think I paid $6.00 total. I am still looking for the perfect spot for the basket and I have an idea brewing for the hoops.
How about the Vintage Metal Cart Makeover I did recently? This beauty was at a large garage sale to raise money for several families to go to El Salvador on a mission trip.
At the same garage sale, I found these 3 pair of shoes (2 are from The Gap) for $2.00/pair and this sweet curly coral scarf. I'm so excited to have some fun new-to-me accessories!

I love finding treasures that have outworn their welcome in other people's lives. A couple of years ago, I spied an old leather camera case at a yard sale. I knew my photographer nephew was collecting vintage cameras and I thought the case would be cool. Little did I know that there was a camera in there too. Turns out it was a Zeiss Ikon Contax probably from the 1940's and was one of the premiere cameras of the day. I paid literally pennies on the dollar of what this thing is worth. I gave it to my nephew for his graduation present, thinking it was just a really neat decorative item. He has since used it several times and it takes great pictures.

So, I encourage you in the coming weekends to grab a buddy and/or a to-go cup of coffee, go out there and do some treasure seeking! Some of my favorite items in our home were once love by someone else. What's your favorite gem you've found at a yard sale?
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Bohemian Button Bracelets


While perusing Pinterest this week, I came across these adorable button bracelets and just knew I needed to make some of them. So, I pulled together some crafting supplies and came up with these Bohemian Button Bracelets.
Here's what you need: random collected buttons and hemp cord.
After you select your buttons, thread the ends of a piece of cord into two side-by-side holes of the largest button.
Pull through and catch the loop. Repeat on the other side.
Thread some smaller complementary buttons on either side or leave it plain with just one large button. Finish off with a sliding double knot to adjust size.
Make several to stack...

or wear a single one for a touch of bohemian chic!
These are the perfect little bracelets to make for your summer wardrobe or for gifts. They are lightweight and can be made in any color. You're only limited by your button stash ;-)
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