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Friday, March 24, 2017

What I Learned About Faith While Boiling Spaghetti

It was the hubbub of a busy Wednesday night.  Soccer practice was over, a quick dinner of spaghetti was bubbling on the stove, my oldest was reading her homework aloud to me as I cooked, and my baby girl was pulling pots and pans out of the lower kitchen cupboards.  My husband an was racing home from a long day at work to help with Boy Scouts by 6:30 p.m., and I had girls coming over to our house for a church activity at the same time.  Miracles had to happen before 6:15 p.m. that night.




And that is when my middle child, a boy of 6 years old, came over to ask me a very important question.  His voice was worried.

He tugged at my sleeve and asked, "Mom, what is adultery?"

I paused.  
I had no answer. Where did this come from? My mind was blank as I could only think of my time schedule and the spaghetti noodles that were boiling over.  

 And then I sighed.  My little son is very inquisitive and takes learning seriously.  He's an avid reader with a very tender heart.  So I turned and asked, "What's the matter?  Why do you need to know that?"

My son held up a paper bookmark with the Ten Commandments on it.  "I got this from my church teacher.  She says Jesus wants us to follow them."  The worry now increased in his voice as he said, "I think I can do all of them, but 'cept I don't know what adultery and co-co-coveting are."

And suddenly I felt a change in the room.  I could feel a warmth in my soul softening my heart as I knelt down to his level and looked into his wondering eyes.  I gave him a hug.  I focused on him, and then I was finally able to think of a simple answer that satisfied his heart.  

I didn't notice the pasta boiling over anymore.  I couldn't hear my oldest reading aloud or my baby banging the pots in the background.  I had stopped focusing on the busy world for a moment.  All I knew was that my little boy was doing his best to follow the Savior and he wanted help.  He had faith in the words of his church teacher.  He had faith in that words on that bookmark.  And he had faith in me, that I would help him understand.  But most of all he had faith in Jesus Christ.  It was a beautiful faith, untainted by the worldly distractions of that day.

I've learned that teaching moments are NEVER convenient.  
 I've also learned that having faith is not convenient either.  There are times when having faith is hard.  There is always something to keep me distracted or bring me down, making it hard to live in faith.  The busy world sucks away our days, stealing all our thoughts, energy, and our quiet moments.  Our news feeds are full of crazy things and confusing information and we sometimes don't know what to believe.  

But I've learned that faith is action.  Faith is doing.  Faith is blissful and hopeful.  It's living like you believe until you know and understand.  Just like my little boy who was actively seeking to know what Jesus wanted him to do amidst the distractions, we can too.  He was seeking for truth in faith until he understood and felt at peace.   





I've also learned that our hearts can be touched at the craziest of times and we can feel peace in the middle of the hubbub . . . if we are willing to let it.  I am thankful that I decided to pause and dig deeper into his question.  I could have easily just brushed him off (as I have done many many times), and instead I remember it as a very special moment.  

In the end, the spaghetti noodles were a little soggy, we were a little late getting to our activities, and I never had time to add a veggie to our meal, but miracles did happen before 6:15 p.m. that night.  It just wasn't the kind I expected.




Learn more about the principles of peace 

#PrinceOfPeace

My next few blog posts will be focusing on some of the principles of peace as part of the #PrinceOfPeace initiative from mormon.org.  I'll be sharing things I have learned from others and some of my vulnerabilities.  I hope by being open and telling these stories you'll find the peace and meaning in your own life.
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What I Learned About Compassion 
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Easter Scattergories Printable for Spring

Before SPRINGTIME and Easter are over I thought it would be fun to share a free Spring/Easter Scattergories printable with you.  It's a free printable.  Use it how you need for school, church, parties, or whatever.  I also have a Free Easter Bingo game printable that I shared recently if you would like then.  Also, remember that the #PrinceOfPeace campaign is coming up.  This is all about finding peace through Jesus Christ using the 8 principles of peace.  You can read about my experience with faith all while I was cooking spaghetti and more in in a few days.  If you would like to know more or share how you find peace, check it all out at mormon.org.



So here's the Spring Scattergories printable for you.  Below are the instructions of how to play the game.






How to play Scattergories:

1. Pick a letter of the alphabet (you can roll a alphabet dice or draw out of a hat)

2. Set a timer for 1 minute

3. When the timer starts, players see how many categories they can fill up by thinking of answers that start with the chosen letter.  When the time is up, all players quit writing.  Then they go around the group, answering out loud what they got for each category.

4.  The player with the most answers wins the round.  There is 1 point per answer unless they come up with a viable answer that has two words that starts with that letter.  For example, if the letter was 'W' and the answer was "Wicked Witch" that would count for 2 points.  However, if it is something that doesn't necessarily go together such as "Wimpy Witch" then they would only get 1 point.

5.  Whether or not an answer is right or viable depends on the group you are playing with.  If something doesn't seem to fit the category or subject then the group can dispute it and vote on whether or not that person's answer deserves a point.


Have a blissful day!


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Monday, March 13, 2017

Easy No Glue Spring Wreaths

My old spring wreath died in the garage this winter.  It was all dusty and smashed thanks to some big projects that went on in there, namely the mudroom shelves that my husband built for me--and I love the shelves--but the project killed my wreath.  So I had about 20 minutes max one day to throw together a new wreath and I actually ended up making 2 spring wreaths without glue.  I re-used flowers that I already had from other arrangements or projects.  I have a ribbon stash too that I could draw from.  Anyhow, I decided to show you my no glue wreaths because they were so EASY!  And maybe it will get your creative juices flowing so you can throw together your own easy wreath for your front door in 20 minutes.

*This post may or may not contain affiliate links at no expense to my readers.  All opinions are mine.


No glue spring wreath number one.







This piece of heaven totally brightens my room.  I actually have it hanging on the inside because I love it so much.  The wall basket made it so easy to make.








I used a wall basket similar to this Rattan Wall Basket from Hobby Lobby.  Amazon also has some other styles of wall baskets that you could use.







Basically you just stuff your wall basket with flowers and arrange them nicely.  Taller pieces in the back, smaller pieces in the front.  Spread the bright colors evenly.  You can use artificial flowers like these or even natural branches and blooms.  






To keep the flower stems and branches from flopping forward when it hung, I added some floral wire just to hold them back a little.








Add a nice big ribbon.  Use what you already have around the house if you can.  Tie it tightly so it stays on for the season.  When you are sick of this arrangement, simply fill it with different flowers, add a different bow and then you have a whole new wreath!  

No glue.  Just easy.  And cute.  And bright.  And everything else.






This spring wreath brightens up my kitchen too.  I can't decide where to put it.








Here is no glue spring wreath number two.

And yes, my front door is salmon-colored.  I like to call it coral.  

I live in a neighborhood where all the houses look the same, so I had to liven our front door up.  








I wanted this one to look very natural.  I wanted the flowers to look as natural as possible and the ribbon to be soft instead of stiff.  Here it is blowing in the breeze.







I re-used my grapevine wreath that I have had forever.  It is similar to this one at Amazon.com.









I have used this wreath many times, including my Easy Valentine Wreath.   This wreath also used minimal glue and wire so I could easily reuse it again.





And here it is again in one of my earliest blog posts, back in the day when I was still called Pebbles & Piggytails.  Please no cringing at my high-contrast photography.








Anyway, simply insert your artificial flowers in between the grapevine branches.  Put an even amount on each side.  Tie a ribbon in the middle to finish it off.  I got these flowers from Hobby Lobby a couple years ago.  You can also find tons for artificial blooms at Amazon.com.










Best of luck in your crafty endeavors!  Have a blissful spring!


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Friday, March 10, 2017

Quick Lemon Pound Cake

I've been in the mood for lemon lately.  It must be my desire for warmer weather.  I like sweet lemon desserts, not the tart kind, unlike the rest of my family.  My Man and all my kidlets LOVE tart lemon desserts.  Not me.  So when I saw this easy recipe from Duncan Hines for quick Lemon Pound Cake I knew this would satisfy my craving for sweet lemon in a jiffy.   Sometimes I need a quick recipe for gatherings or family nights and that's where these kind of easy cake box recipes come in.  This easy lemon pound cake is a little fancier than your typical cake mix cake.  So give it and try and make sure you check out my newest recipe video (you guys, I can't believe I actually made a recipe video!!!).  You'll be tasting that sweet lemon flavor in less 45 mins . . .

*This post may or may not contain affiliate links.  All opinions are my own.








Here's the recipe video!





 Here's what you will need for this lemon pound cake recipe.  I used Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme cake mix.  Delicious.








Mix it all up together.







And bake.  I used bread pans and they worked beautifully.  A bundt pan would make it beautiful too.







Top it off with powdered sugar or your favorite topping.  And enjoy!





Quick Lemon Pound Cake

1 box lemon cake mix (16.5 oz)
1 cup water
1/3 cup oil (I used olive oil)
4 eggs
1 box lemon instant pudding (3.4 oz)
1/4 cup powdered sugar, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl combine the cake mix, water, oil, eggs, and pudding mix.  Mix well with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes.  Pour batter into well greased baking pans.  Bread pans or bundt cake pans work nicely.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean--depends on your oven and pan size.  Mine took 30 minutes with batter divided into 2 bread pans.  Cool completely before slicing.  Dust with powdered sugar.






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Monday, March 6, 2017

6 Ways to Live a More Blissful Life

I've been thinking a lot about what makes a life blissful today.  Our Grandma died this week at age 101.  Yes, you read that right, ONE HUNDRED AND ONE.  And it got me thinking, did Grandma have a blissful life?  Was it because she lived to 101 years of age?  Or would it have been just as good if it had been short?  As I sat at her funeral listening to the stories of her hard work, her goodness, and her influence I wondered about my own life.  Here I am, a mom of 3 kids with just a very basic, normal life, running a website called Making Life Blissful that is all about trying to find the good things in life even during the hard times, boring times, and just regular everyday living.  Do I really know what it means to live a blissful life?  Do you?  Well, read on my friends . . .





Well, it just so happens that today is also March 6th.  Today is my miracle anniversary day.  It's been 10 years since my miracle happened.  As many of you know already, I was in a crazy auto-pedestrian accident when I was 6 months pregnant with my youngest child.  I was the pedestrian.  I was on the sidewalk, safely walking with my little 3 year old son on a small overpass that went over a cement canal or large ditch of water.  I was hit from behind by an intoxicated driver who mistakenly drove up onto the sidewalk and hit me with a force strong enough to cause me to go into the air, over the railing, and down into the cement ditch below.  The force was strong enough that the back of my head cracked his windshield before I flew into the air.  I fell about 10 feet onto hard cement . . . my unborn child inside of me.  I lived.  My unborn baby lived.  My 3 year old son lived.  It is possible that each one of us could have died that day and yet we all walked away without a single broken bone.  God gave me a miracle that day and I am forever thankful.






After this accident, I had a very powerful realization that my life could have ended that day and I was struck by how much of my everyday life was focused on the wrong things.  Now, at the time of this accident I was a stay home mom and my husband was in school.  My main focus at the time was taking care of my young family.  So you may ask, how could this be the wrong focus?  It wasn't so much about what I was doing in my life as it was my attitude.  My attitude was all about surviving each day and focusing on me.  We were in the dark days of medical school and it was very difficult for our young family.  Making it through all the chores, trying to make things perfect, looking to that next vacation as my only ray of sunshine . . . these were my focus.







After this accident, those things suddenly were at the bottom of my list.  My attitude about life had been wrong.  Instead, I found that our lives are about the people around us, instead of about us individually.  It is about gratitude and I've found that to be truer than ever as I am thankful for each breath I take, each sunset I see, and each hug I receive.  And life is about doing those good things--like taking care of my family--and finding the joy in it, instead of seeing it as a chore.  Life is not about perfection, but about understanding my imperfections and embracing them as a chance to grow and learn.

And most of all it is about the small moments.  I've found that a blissful life happens in small moments over time.  The little moments that we take to share, to give, to embrace, to work hard, to make good decisions, to find peace, and to be our best selves even if it's only for a few seconds a day . . . those little moments create the blissful life.


6 Ways to a More Blissful Life

So take it from me who almost lost it all too early in life, but was given a second chance to find true joy in life.  You can have a blissful life now.  You do not have to live 101 years to make your life meaningful.  You can find joy now.  Here's what I have found to bring bliss:

1.  Stop focusing on yourself.  Your life is not about YOU, but how you influence and love the people in your life.  Influence them for good and you will be happy.

2. Be grateful.  Gratitude is the best medicine for a grumpy soul.  Take notice of the big and little things that are good in your life.  Be thankful for them.

3. Look for the good even in the mundane.  Don't let the stress and hardship of everyday bring you down.  See your work and chores and things that will help you learn and get to where you want to be.  Look at the big picture and why you are doing them.

4.  If something is bringing you down, change it.  If there's something in your life that is constantly hurting your happiness, reevaluate it.  What can you change?  Where can you improve?

5. There's no such thing as perfect.  We look at others and think they have the perfect life.  They don't.  No one does.  Find joy in imperfection.  Use your mistakes and imperfections as a stepping stone to help you grow and learn.  Keep trying.  Strive to do your best--which does not have to be perfection.  Be compassionate with yourself and where you are in the learning process.

6. Treasure small moments.  Don't just ignore those tiny good moments that happen.  Take note of them.  That smile from a stranger.  That hug from a friend.  That moment you had to read your favorite book.  That job you finished on time.  That opportunity someone took to help you.  If those kinds of moments are not happening for you everyday, then take charge and make them happen for yourself.  You have the power to make your life a good one.  Little by little it will happen.


I wish you the best as you search for bliss in your life.  I know there are many more ideas out there.  What are some of the ways you have found joy in life?  Please share in the comments!

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Monday, February 27, 2017

10 Easter Activities for All Ages + Free Easter Bingo Printable

I am so excited for SPRING.  We've had a lot of snow around here, so I'm in the mood to start posting some Easter picnic ideas for y'all.  So to start springtime off right, here's some easy Easter Activities.  These Easter party games work for kids, preschool, church, parties, or whatever.  Many of these are Easter minute-to-win-it games and then I've added some other springtime games so you have a lot to choose from.  I've created a free Easter Bingo Printable just for you at the bottom of this post.  So let the sunshine in and let's get ready for SPRING and EASTER!

*I received products from Oriental Trading Company to review and try.  All opinions and ideas are my own.  This post may contain affiliate links at no cost to my readers.



You will need only a few supplies for all of these games.  The main items you need are plastic eggs and jelly beans.  Many of the other items you will have around your house or in your Easter stuff.






1.  Plastic Egg Tower Game


For this game you will only need plastic colored eggs.  Open all the eggs beforehand.  Set the timer for one minute.  Players start stacking the eggs as fast as they can.  Players compete and see who can build the biggest egg tower in one minute.  Depending on the amount of people, you may need a lot of plastic eggs.  I like to buy them in bulk for cheap.  You can get bulk orders of eggs from Oriental Trading Company or Amazon.






2. Jelly Bean Pickup Game


For this game you will need straws and jelly beans.  The smaller the jelly bean, the better to make pickup easier.  Give each player a handful of jelly beans, a small bowl or basket, and a straw.  Set the timer for 1 minute.  Players use the straw to pick up one jelly bean at a time and transfer it into the bowl by sucking up air through the straw.  The player with the most jelly beans in their bowl by the end of the minute is the winner.






3.  Jelly Bean Seek and Find


Fill an Easter basket or bowl with fake grass.  You can use the plastic grass here or even real grass if you prefer.  Hide a good amount of jelly beans (these are my favorite kind!) all over in the grass.  Mix it up well.  Set the timer for 1 minute and let players quickly find as many jelly beans as they can.  When they find one, they should pull it out and put it in their own personal collection.  This game is better played outside since it could get messy.  Smaller jelly beans will be harder to find.  Choose according to the age of your players.






4. Easter Egg Decorating with Stickers


An easy and traditional Easter activity for kids is always decorating eggs.  If you are putting on a large party, how about decorating eggs with stickers instead of messy cups of liquid.  I got these Easter Egg Decorating Craft Kits from Oriental Trading Company.  They came with 12 individual foam sticker packets.  It was so easy to make and SUPER CUTE!  This would be a fun activity for any Easter or Spring party.  Check out all of their Easter party supplies for more ideas!





5.  Easter Memory Game


This Easter activity is not a minute-to-win-it game but instead a game to play like concentration.  You will need jelly beans and plastic Easter eggs.  Make sure you have 2 of each color of jelly bean.  Place the jelly beans in rows in the playing area.  You can mix the colors up however you want.  Use the plastic egg halves to cover each jelly bean.  Let players take turns choosing 2 eggs at a time to uncover.  If the jelly bean colors match then that player gets to eat those jelly beans and the eggs that were covering them are removed from the game.  If they do not match, simply cover the 2 choices with eggs again and let the next player try.  Play until all the jelly bean matches have been found.  This game works well with little kids that are too young for minute-to-win-it games.  Older kids would have fun too if you make the playing area bigger and use a lot more jelly beans.





6.  Easter Egg Match Game


Another simple minute-to-win-it game for Easter parties is this Easter Egg Match game.  Simply mismatch all your plastic Easter eggs and put them in a big basket.  Set the timer for 1 minute.  Players simply open the mismatched eggs and then put them together again with the correct color match.  The player who correctly matches the most eggs wins!  This one is super fun and harder than you think.  Make sure all your plastic eggs are the same brand since many eggs from different companies do not fit together well.






7.  Egg Spoon Relay Race


This is an easy game with a lot of laughs.  The egg spoon race is played like a relay race in teams if you want.  All you need is a spoon for each player and a real egg.  Line players up outside in a row and have them put their egg on the spoon.  Each player must race the other players to the finish line keeping their egg on the spoon.  If you are doing a relay then they can run back to the start line and pass the egg to the next player.  You can use raw eggs.  This is hilarious when they are dropped.  You can use boiled eggs, to lessen the blow when they are dropped or even plastic eggs for younger crowds.






8. Sticker Eggs Minute to Win It Game


This game only needs plastic eggs and a sticker sheet for each player.  Set the timer for 1 minute.  Players remove stickers from the sticker sheet and place them on their egg.  They try to get as many stickers as they can on their egg.  The player with with most stickers on their egg, wins.  I used Spring and Easter Stickers like these.







9.  Bunny Hop Race


This is a classic Easter party game.  Simply have players line up in a row and say "Go!".  Players have to hop like a bunny all the way down to the finish line.  Can be played as a relay too.  It's fun for kidlets and hilarious for adults and teens! 





10. Easter Bingo (Free Printable)

And last but not least is our free printable Easter Bingo game!  Who doesn't love a good game of Bingo.  Click on the link below to get yours!

And let me know in the comments what your favorite Easter game is.  I love hearing from you.









May blissful sunshine be heading your way today!  See you soon!
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Disclosure

*This site may or may not contain affiliate links. These links help fund this site. All opinions are my own. I am never paid to give a specific opinion. Often I am asked to try products or services and share what I think about them.