Friday, October 31, 2014

Christian Fine Art 8x10 Print Giveaway [CLOSED]

Several years ago, my friends lost their 4-month-old baby. I had a hard time finding an affordable and beautiful gift for them, until I stumbled upon Bugaboo Jewelry (it was also my first giveaway on this blog!). Last year, another woman I know lost her baby, this time in utero. I wanted to get her a similar customized gift, but I didn't know the details that well and didn't know her well enough to ask. I looked for other gift ideas multiple times, but didn't buy any, and thought the lateness of the gift would be awkward.

A year went by, and I thought the anniversary would be a good time for me to try again. I decided on a card I found during one of my previous searches. It was a beautiful drawing of Jesus cuddling a newborn, made by Alicia of Christian Fine Art. I asked Alicia to make it into a card instead of a print so I could write a message to my friend. Not only did she do that for me, but she also included an envelope and an extra card! I hope I won't need to use it anytime soon.

All of Alicia's artwork is wonderful and uplifting.

I am a mom in my mid-30s with four children. I absolutely love music and dancing! I also love ripsticking, long-boarding, roller blading, jogging, and hiking. Most of all, with everything I do in life--whether it's raising children, helping a friend, or painting a picture--my greatest desire is to inspire people to believe in Christ, His love, and His grace and to follow His words. This desire to share my personal testimony is born of the hope, joy, and peace I have found in my faith.

*Beautiful, realistic artwork.
*Great gifts and home decor for Christians, and inspirational artwork that the nonreligious can appreciate as well.
*Excellent customer service! Alicia responds to questions quickly and is very accommodating.
*I would love to see new artwork in the shop!

 One of you will win an 8x10 print of any baby-themed drawing! Open to the U.S. & Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Seller: Danielle from Anchored Archer

It's been a while since I've done a feature! This week's featured seller is Danielle from Anchored Archer.

My passion for jewelry began when I was a child roaming through antique stores with my mom every weekend. Being no more than three feet tall at the time, the only thing at eye level was the dazzling displays of fine jewelry.

I've always been in motion and in search of a creative outlet. I've experimented with and taken classes in every genre of craft and arts possible, including painting, drawing, sewing, crocheting, and photography. While I enjoyed all of these crafts, I never really felt satisfied and I still needed a way to keep my hands busy when I got home from my day job as a mechanical engineer. This mindset is what eventually brought me to jewelry design.

A strong believer in DIY with a deep curiosity for discovering how things are made, I dove head first into jewelry making desiring to make my own versions of gorgeous items I coveted in magazines. What began as a small hobby has become a serious labor of love. My analytical and detail oriented background has given me the ability to teach myself techniques as I've needed them and to find new and inventive ways to apply my inspiration.

My work is inspired by many vintage themes, from intricate Victorian fashion to the natural swirling forms of art nouveau architecture. My ideas take these grand, romantic themes and traditional techniques and make them relevant to today's modern fashion.

For a full portfolio of Danielle's work, visit her Etsy shop or You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter (@anchoredarcher). New customers can use the coupon code BLOGFREESHIP for free shipping on orders over $30.

Monday, October 20, 2014

California Adventure Part 2

Friday afternoon we went to a family fun center with the Lyles kids and their neighbors. Caden had a blast! He wouldn't stop talking about it the first week we were home. He went on every ride multiple times and wasn't even afraid of the one I thought he would be, the one that went straight up and down. The only one he couldn't go on was the kiddie go carts. He was even too short to be a passenger on the regular ones.

The nice workers let us mini golf for free. Gabe had a good time putting the ball in the hole.

I tried the rock climbing wall with Sariah. I was terrible at it! The last time I went indoor rock climbing was on my first date when I was 16.

While there, I got a text that my flight the next day was cancelled (due to the Chicago airport fire). After much time and effort, my dad got me a new itinerary for Sunday. Saturday started out with chores, just as when I was living with my parents, while Grandpa took the boys to the playground.

Having fun with musical instruments (or "extraments" as Caden called them)!

I went back to my brother's house to watch my niece's quinceanera video, and then all the girls went to the General Women's Broadcast at the church. Grandpa watched the boys again, taking them to another park, the lake, the car wash (Caden's request), Costco, and then my brother's house to play.

While watching the broadcast I started feeling extremely dizzy and nauseated, so I walked out. I didn't throw up, but I stayed in the mother's room, where I could be near a trash and sink and still hear the broadcast. My mom found me and stayed with me. After the broadcast there was a light meal. I thought eating might help since I hadn't eaten in a while, but it didn't. We went to pick up the boys, and I asked my brother and dad to give me a blessing. The rest of the night was terrible. Puking didn't help. I decided to go to sleep, and my parents took Gabe for the whole night. Needless to say, they didn't get much sleep! I didn't want to travel in this condition, so my dad rebooked my flights again for Monday. The next morning I didn't feel nauseated but I still had a headache. I stayed home from church and slept, and my family took the boys.

Monday morning came and I was fit enough to travel, though not looking forward to it. It took us over 2 hours to get to LAX, and I barely made my flight in time. At least I didn't have to entertain the boys again! However, since they slept in the car, they didn't sleep much on the plane. Gabriel was especially hard to please. Thankfully, the lady next to us asked to move across the aisle, giving us more room. She was wearing a giant fur coat, and when Gabe saw her he signed dog and started barking.

Buckling in Elmo

Everyone was nice, and we survived the first long flight. I even took Gabe potty 3 times on the plane! Now that's hardcore EC! We had a layover and ate at a little Mexican restaurant. Then our second flight was delayed an hour. I had Caden watch Curious George on my iPhone while I (unsuccessfully) tried to get Gabe to sleep. He stayed fussy, making me fear everyone on the tiny plane would hate us by the end, but once we were in the air he went out. The ladies in front of me were especially sympathetic. I thanked them after the flight and gave them passalong cards (awkwardly; I wish I had prefaced it with something like, "Since you ladies are so family friendly I thought you would be interested in this.").

We were all so happy to see Justin again! Gabe slept on the way home too, so I was afraid he wouldn't want to go to bed, especially when I finally let him down for the first time nearly all day and he saw his toys. While in CA, I had to sing him to sleep every night, which I never do at home. But that first night he didn't cry and went to sleep.

I am so grateful to my parents for giving us this vacation. We had a wonderful time!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

3 Safe Things to Say to a Pregnant Woman

photo by Wong Mei Teng

There are numerous articles on what not to say to a pregnant woman. The list of potentially offensive statements is very long and leaves very little you can say. Even "congratulations" can be an unwelcome compliment to a woman with an unwelcome pregnancy. So I have compiled three things that I'm pretty sure are safe to say to any pregnant woman. 

1. "You look beautiful / radiant!"
Almost all women feel self-conscious during pregnancy as their bodies change and grow. What woman would not appreciate a genuine reminder that she looks truly beautiful right now, swollen feet and all?

2. "I hope the rest of your pregnancy goes well / how you want it to."
Most women hope their pregnancies will progress smoothly and safely. Sincerely wishing the same thought will give them positive reassurance and hope.

3. Nothing
If you are ever in doubt of what to say, then say nothing at all. Feel that could be rude too? Then just offer a smile as you would to anyone.

Do you agree with these suggestions? What else do you think would be safe to say?

Friday, October 17, 2014

California Adventure Part 1

Last month, the kids and I went to California to visit my family, and it turned out to be quite the adventure. We left on a Thursday. I was really nervous to fly by myself with the boys. Although I had done it before, Gabe was 5 months younger and the trip was shorter. This time we had 2 flights, the second being 5 hours long. The first flight was delayed for so long I had to rebook the second and entertain the boys in a tiny airport for nearly 2 hours. I got a few compliments on how well we handled it. I'm glad they couldn't tell how frazzled and alone I felt!

Gabe slept for an hour on the short flight, and we didn't have much layover time, so the first half was easy. The second flight ended up being good too since it was so late. Well, except when Gabe unexpectedly puked up banana at the beginning and no attendants were available to help so I had to use napkins and baby wipes to clean it up. After that, I entertained Gabe with a quiet book for a while before he fell asleep for almost the rest of the flight. No one was next to us, so Caden was able to lie down to sleep too. Once we exited the airport and found Grandma, Caden sprinted to her joyously!

Such a willing helper!

Friday I got a haircut. I've been wanting to get something new and modern for a long time. I googled salons in the area and went with the first one since it had great reviews and it was very close by. My stylist was amazing! My great luck continued while shopping, and I found a maxi dress that wasn't too long, two pairs of shoes, and two shirts.

That afternoon we went to Genesis and Sammy's elementary school for a free ice cream social.

Saturday morning I passed off the kids to Grandma and went back to bed for 2 hours. The trip finally caught up with me, so I relaxed the whole day.

I showed my little sister how to do her makeup, and then we ate dinner at the church (it was their stake conference).

Every chance they could get, Sammy and Genesis came over to help get the kids ready for bed. I wanted to take them home with me!

Sunday we attended stake conference, and my sister-in-law took Gabe. She also made us delicious pozole for dinner.

Caden loves playing at his cousins' house!

Monday I hung out with my best friends. We had brunch at a cafe and went shopping at an outlet mall. My friend Francine has a little girl the same age as Gabe and they played together while we were out. After she and her baby left, the rest of us caught up for a while. I ended the day watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier with my niece Sariah while the boys played.

Gabe started using spoons at Grandma's.

Tuesday I went running, and boy, did I underestimate that hill! I didn't go down the steep side either. We took the boys to reading time at the library, where Caden made an autumn craft.

Caden loved playing with all my old toys!

We stopped by the animal shelter and fell in love with this particularly beautiful, sweet dog. I don't even like dogs and I wanted to take him home! Gabe loved the animals. (He chased Grandma's cat every day too.) After a delicious pizza dinner, we went to Isaac's court of honor.

Wednesday, Grandma took the boys to the park, where Caden rode my little tricycle. I think next summer he will be ready for a real bike.

For dinner, my mother showed me how to make arroz con pollo. I want to have a Three Kings Day party this year, and that recipe seemed easy to make in bulk. It was easy but a lot of work! I ended the day watching Mortal Instruments with my friend Kaitlyn. I hadn't heard of it until my day out with the girls. I felt it was a ripoff of Twilight, Harry Potter, and tidbits of other books.

Thursday we went to the beach. I grew up in San Diego county, where the nearest beach was 15 minutes away. Now my family lives inland, so it was over an hour away. We discovered a new beach in Dana Point; not just new to us, but recently built. It was the most beautiful beach I've ever seen in California! The water was a gorgeous teal, the sand was clean, the shore was below multimillion-dollar houses, and the beach was not crowded.

The boys started off in the sand. Gabe was not a fan, and even Caden was timid at first. Grandma showed him how to make a sand castle.

He tried getting up without touching the sand!

I took Caden to the waterline. It kept receding, so we got closer and closer until it finally reached Caden. And then knocked him over! He recovered quickly and stayed in the water with Grandma and Grandpa holding his hands, and then he sat down in it!

Caden did not want to get out of the water! Gabe had enough, however, so we called it a day. We spent a total of 2 hours there, enjoying the sun and water and running on the sand. My shoulders got sunburned for the second time in my life. The boys slept on the way back and ended the day playing restaurant with me and Grandma.
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