Monday, March 27, 2017

Easter Baskets

With only a few weeks until Easter I began looking for some fun goodies to fill the kids’ baskets this year. In years past I’ve been good about setting a theme for each individual basket, but this year it’s a little more frantic and I’ll be happy just to get something other than a couple bags of sugar. Less candy, more fun is my motto!

I love keeping the baskets simple with one larger item such as a doll or toy and filling the rest with a couple accessories for the warmer months like sandals, bows or sunglasses. I often use Easter as a way to refresh our outdoor play items like chalk, bubbles and beach toys especially when they’ve been buried in the sand or lost in the Atlantic. I always toss a book into each basket (usually what I create the theme around). This year I found the adorable bunny themed yoga book that will be perfect for rainy days inside. I love the BabyLit board books and I’m adding  Treasure Island to Finn’s basket. I can already see him pretending to be a pirate and trying to take us down with his felt ball sling shot. Isn’t that the cutest and most fun little add in??? I have a feeling I’ll be ordering another one for Mike. To finish, I like to put Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks or Crackers hidden in these fun eggs and stick in the yummy and festive marshmallows from William Sonoma. They’re so good!
Building a basket with fun and practical items makes it easier and less overwhelming (for me!) and it doesn’t junk up our playroom. 

Happy Hunting!


Friday, March 17, 2017

Glitter Silly Putty

Happy Friday!!!! It’s officially my day off from babysitting, part time nannying, being a daycare provider....whatever we shall call it. Some may think I’m crazy, but I absolutely adore taking care of an extra little love during the week. Some days are a little crazier than others, but it’s a huge privilege to be able to help friends and watch their little babe grow. This week was has been more challenging than most due to our schedule change and the fact Olivia chose not to sleep for a good three nights in a row. By Wednesday night, nothing was going to keep me awake and any sleep was going to be good. Luckily, I finally felt refreshed Thursday morning even if Olivia slept with me most of the night.

With more time with the kids this weekend we’re hitting the dining table and kitchen with some fun spring DIYs. If you caught our Insta-story yesterday (follow us @rachbraden) the babes and I made our first batch of homemade glitter silly putty. This concoction played triple duty for fun, math and science. Kensi and Finn took turns measuring, pouring and mixing our ingredients together to make an activity that held their attention for a couple HOURS!!!! Mom points here! The loved making it, but have really enjoyed playing with it. They ran over to our art basket and pulled out a few different play dough tools to use for moulding, pressing and cutting. The one downfall i’ve learned is when it sits by itself it begins to melt into whatever shape its confined to, which is really cool in itself and normally fine, but our carpet goes right up to our kitchen cabinets where our stools sit. So any little pieces that escapes and makes it’s way to the floor is an adventure for me to find and pick out of the carpet. We totally need new floors, this is just getting old. Kensi was so excited to make this silly putty glittery by adding different glitter we found in the Target dollar bins. We got a little eager and added every color and now it looks more sparkly gray than anything. We recommend sticking to one color family per recipe.

Glitter Silly Putty
original recipe from pinterest
1 bottle of clear school glue (such as Elmers 5 oz)
5 ounces of water
1/2 teaspoon Borax
1/2 cup hot water
colored glitter

Pour glue into a bowl. Fill the empty glue bottle with water (5oz) and add to the glue in bowl. Stir until well combined. Add a couple dashes of glitter/sequins and stir. 

In a liquid measuring cup add 1/2 teaspoon of Borax to 1/2 cup of hot water and stir until dissolved. Pour borax mixture into the glue mixture. Stir mixture until well combined and it will become thick silly putty! Use play dough tools to cut and manipulate. It can also be formed into a ball and slightly bounce!

Have so much fun!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Catch Up

This last month has been a real doozy for us. We've been battling a virus that just seems to take us down one at a time. It's been a good three weeks (and a few days) since it started and we're finally feeling normal again, just in time for our crazy schedule change. It feels like so much time has passed and I have so much to share! In the last few weeks while down and out Olivia has hit a few milestones including turning 6 months, sitting up on her own, starting solids and believe it or not...crawling! She is definelty eager to keep up with her older siblings and doesn't show signs of slowing down anytime soon. 

We finished painting our cabinet bases and we are loving our color combo! Our doors are getting their final coat of paint this week and then I can finally share how they turned out. Of course Mike and I are already thinking about the next step in the whole kitchen process which may be countertops. Our stove is beginning to crap out on us so that may be the next step. It’s never-ending and always changing.

A couple months ago while looking for books on home beauty recipes I came across this book Hello Glow by Stephanie Gerber and finally purchased it about three weeks ago. For all my fellow oil users or anyone who enjoys the crunchy goodness of this sort, this book is ah-mazing. I'm so obsessed with the recipes she's created. Honestly it wasn't the pretty pictures or really the recipes that initially sold me, it was her introduction. She describes her childhood as being brought up to use natural remedies (much like me) and (this was the kill) wrapping her throat in wool to get rid of a sore throat! My mom did this every SINGLE time we ever complained of a sore throat! I've never come across anyone else who's done this and when I read that I was hands down, here's my money, SOLD! I taught Mike this trick when we were first married and even though he thought I was a little nuts, it's our automatic go to antidote! So yes I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes soon including how to do the wool throat thing. 

As spring is quickly approaching I’m preparing for the upcoming events like our Easter brunch, my mom’s visit and believe it or not Kensi’s birthday in early summer. We’ve been talking about possible birthday themes since January and she’s been all over the board. She never fails to surprise me and I absolutely adore her creativeness and imaginative personality. Her first idea was a nutcracker theme, in June, I absolutely loved the idea, but it was quickly replaced with a carnival theme after going to her friend’s birthday party. Then she switched to a Minnie Mouse theme, which I was kind of dreading because it was a character thing, but I was ready to embrace it because I knew she would love it. But hold on, she changed her mind again! This is why we discuss for months leading up to her birthday and I don’t begin planning until around April. At this point, and yes there’s still time for another change up, she’s asking for a rainbow themed birthday. Kensi loves rainbows because it has all her favorite colors except black, white and gray (those are your colors mama) and she loves painting, so we’re going for a rainbow art party. I think this will be so much fun and I cannot wait to start planning, that is unless she changes her mind....again! 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Snow Surpirse

We were pleasantly surprised to wake up Sunday morning to a wintery mix slowly dropping in large wet clumps that quickly turned to slushy ice. It’s been nice and warm lately and our light green grass that has recently sprouted was now covered in a light icy snow blanket. Kensi and Finn were still a little groggy from losing an hour of sleep due to daylight savings, but they were squealing with squinted eyes at the sight of this magic falling as I loaded them in the van to head to church. Snow in coastal Carolina is rare and snow in coastal Carolina in March is unheard of! We were so excited for a small glimpse of winter even if was spring.

During church service we kept sneaking peeks to see if it was still snowing and if it was at all accumulating. I think almost everyone around was thrilled with the unexpected winter storm. Once we made it back home, Mike and I bundled the babes up and let them loose in the backyard to play in the snow. It was all great and fun until we remembered we aerated the lawn last weekend and the melting snow was soon turning into a mud pit. The kids played a whole ten minutes and I quickly tried to take as many photos as possible to document our 1) unexpected winter surprise 2) Olivia’s first snow 3) a winter storm at the beach. It took all of 3 seconds of Kensi laughing about how much she enjoyed eating the snow when she accidentally picked up a dirt clump and quickly throwing it over her shoulder. She had a look of utter disgust and decided she was also scared to make a snow angel because she didn't want to wake up the dang ants (they're pretty horrible here), but opted to make a snowman instead. With a little help from Mike they rolled three snow + dirt balls and gave him a face made of carrot pieces. Although he looks lumpy and odd with all the dirt clumps sticking out of his body he was very loved while he stood.

Back inside we celebrated our snow day as if it was December with hot cocoa, bumping the heat on and making up Christmas by watching Home Alone. We rolled so many milestones in one two hour block and loved every second of it. #christmasredo Until next time winter...


Friday, March 3, 2017

Date 7: Love Language

There's never a doubt when we try to do something that is biblical and pleasing to God we are attacked by the enemy. Mike said it best last night during our weekly life group; no matter how well you armor yourself for a battle, the enemy can find the slightest crack and wedge himeself in. Writers, doctors, grandparents, our parents, siblings, friends....they all say one of the most challenging and difficult times during a marriage is the seventh and eighth years. To be perfectly honest Mike and I have felt as if we've been gliding through our marriage. We hardly argue and very rarely fight. We're laid back and have always found our love to be easy. Always felt we were so fortunate, maybe even the lucky ones. 

Did I mention we’ll be married eight years this summer.

Hmm. That right there, admitting it was easy, directly set us up for a challenge. We were so blind to the attack from the enemy. In the last few several weeks Mike and I have been challenged in ways we’ve never been before. Since January we’ve really seen challenges come from our finances, friends, family, work, and our life group. We’ve become easily offended by one another, demanded more from each other and questioned each other’s motives and trust. With all of that there also comes a sense of loneliness, shame and betrayal and it’s extremely easy to slip into a state of constant anger and fear. 

Our weeks have been heavy with everything I mentioned, but when it came to our date nights, it was easy to find each other again. We would be cheerful and loving just like our normal selves, but when the weekend was over this vicious circle would start all over again. Fortunately, we were both able to recognize it and knew we had to up our communication game in order to get through it. We realized we needed to re-center our marriage on God and not the business of our everyday and trying to keep up. In an attempt to refresh we spent our seventh date going back and reading The 5 Love Languages devotional. We needed to remember we were dating each other and needed to love each other’s language. Although many of our answers hadn’t changed it opened us up to having a safe conversation about what we’ve been feeling in these last several weeks. We were able to lay it all out there and guide each other to what we really needed and wanted from our marriage. 

It’s obvious looking back how easily it is to fall off center in our marriage, but with prayer, correction and forgiveness we can set ourselves back up for success. We don’t want our marriage to live for our weekend date nights, we want it to live within each moment of our everyday. When the focus is set on Him then it’s harder for the enemy to knock you over. 

Here are some other marriage devotionals and good reads on our marital roles we really enjoy...
(we’re currently in this one and it’s SO GOOD!!!)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


This right here is exactly why I love using essential oils in our home. I wish I had a better photo to share of Finn while he was at his worst, but I don’t. Last Friday Finn woke up with green gunk collecting in his left eye. I immediately thought it was a symptom of an ear infection as Kensi just had one with similar symptoms. Saturday morning came and I decided to take Finn in to our pediatrician’s office. Of course it being Saturday meant I had to do a walk in appointment and sat in the “sick section” with several kids wearing masks because they were running fevers and coughing up who knows what. I was cringing with every cough, sneeze and wipe. As any mother knows it’s the perfect brew as your toddler decides now in this moment, in this situation that he would really like to be wiggling, try to get down and nearly scream as he doesn’t get his way. All I could think about was what in the world am I doing here exposing him to all of this.

When we were finally called back the nurse practitioner checked him out and declared there was no ear infection. She diagnosed Finn with pink eye and I immediately sunk thinking 'crap, here we go with this stinkin' pink eye.' However, she informed me Finn didn’t have bacterial pink eye which is the always dreaded one that terrifies every parent and teacher. He was reacting to our pollen pop here in North Carolina. The poor kid inherited Mike’s awful allergies and just like his daddy it was affecting his eyes. So not only was I relieved it wasn’t contagious in the sense of THE pink eye, but I also learned there are three forms: bacterial, viral and allergic. Which now makes sense as I grew up I often would have a cold in my eye....viral pink eye. Finn had a combination of viral and allergic and the only medicine offered for him was an eye drop that's meant for bacterial pink eye, it wouldn’t do much for him according to the NP since his was not bacterial, but it would help with the redness. So now I was faced with another decision. Do I give him the antibiotic? I know so many people are probably rolling their eyes as they read this and saying duh! yes you take the antibiotic, but in my parents’ house we were taught to try a natural remedy first, then go to an antibiotc.

Together, Mike and I opted to skip the medication and instead looked to our essential oils. One of the things I love about essential oils is the community. It doesn’t matter where we are or who we’re under we’re all here to help each other. When I was trying to figure out what oils to use for Finn other than eucalyptus, I turned to my friend Hillary who recommended using lavender and purification. I created a blend and applied it above Finn’s brow line and a tiny bit on his cheek bones. I also rubbed a little breast milk on his eyes, I know that may sound crazy, but breastmilk has super powers and when I put it to work with my oils it was a dynamic duo. Within a day Finn was looking better. When I tried to take a photo of his eyes on Sunday night he was so irritated. Today is day three since using our oil blend and his eyes are nearly back to normal. Yes, he still has a little goop, but nothing like he had over the weekend...hopefully it doesn’t pass to Olivia or Kensi, but if it does I’m now equipped! By no means are the oils a cure all, but they may be able to help relieve some symptoms. I’m so thankful to have been introduced to essential oils as it’s changed the health of our family, home and lifestyle and the fact I have another option when my mom gut just says no, maybe there’s something better.

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