Friday, February 2, 2018

Healthy Power Balls

Happy Friday! These Powerballs are such a yummy, healthy treat, I just had to share them with you! They will make the perfect weekend snack, or the perfect treat to start a new week! The recipe is from Clean Eats and Treats. They are easy to make, and Shannon also has a peanut free version on her site for those with allergies. They are so good and my kids love them too! I eat them in the afternoon when if I'm feeling tired and need some energy, or I eat them as a post workout snack. My kids love eating them after school or in the car going to and from sports activities! They are so delicious, I know you'll love them! You can find the recipe HERE.

The Keeper of the Crayons

Stock Up Sale at Smith's Marketplace

Smith's Grocery Store is having an awesome stock up sale going on right now! I was able to get all of the sale items for $20 and saved just over $20! I always try to stock up on cereal when it goes on sale. If you buy six boxes it comes out to be $1.49 a box! That's a great price on cereal. And if you're trying to eat healthy, the Minute Rice Ready To Serve Bowls are on sale too! They are so yummy! Smith's also has everything you need for your Super Bowl party. Cream Cheese, Soda Pop 2 Liters and Lil Smokies are all on sale too! I love shopping at Smith's and I love their stock up sales! You can find the Smith's Ad HERE. Happy Shopping!
The Keeper of the Crayons 

Friday, January 26, 2018

6 Things I've Learned After a Year of Grieving The Loss of My Baby

I can't believe a year has gone by since our baby girl Lucy passed away and I almost lost my life. Some days it feels like this year was the longest year, and other days I feel like only a month has gone by. This past year has been the hardest year of my life, yet it's also the year that I've felt the closest to our Savior. Grief teaches you so many things and you learn things when you experience a trial that you wouldn't normally have learned. I learned a lot of things and want to share six of them with you. I know everyone is different, these are just some of the things I've learned going through my loss and grief, and I hope maybe it helps someone else.
Losing a child is the greatest loss you will ever experience. I think this was always a given when I would hear people say this, but you can't even comprehend the extreme amount of pain that comes with losing a baby. Laying your child in a casket and kissing them for the last time here on earth is a pain that can't be described with words. Unless you have gone through that, there's no way for you to understand what it is like. I was always taught that you expect to bury your grandparents, your parents and possibly your spouse, but never my baby. That's the unimaginable. Parents aren't suppose to go through that and lose their baby, but unfortunately some of us do. It's a pain that never goes away and it changes who you are. You never fully recover since every milestone and first that I don't get to have with my baby is like another loss added on top of the grief that started when she passed away. It leaves a hole in your heart that can never be filled. This is unlike any other loss and is in a class of it's own. Period. The pain that you feel after losing a baby is just an extreme amount of  love that just doesn't have anywhere to go.  
Losing a child changes who you are and the way you look at everything. I remember the exact day and time that I realized this one. I was looking through some old photos a few months after our baby girl passed away. I remember looking at myself in those photos and it suddenly hit me that that girl was gone. I had changed and I immediately began crying. I missed that girl, I missed the carefree, happy woman I used to be in those photos. I missed who I was before I began carrying grief and PTSD around with me. I missed those moments and the person I was. I struggled with the old me being gone, and sometimes I still do, but I also remember the day that I realized it's okay that I'm not the old me. I had read a quote that said, "God knows who He needs you to be." I know this change is molding me into the person that I'm suppose to become. The one that I need to be to get to raise my daughter after this life. The one that I need to be to help lift others that go through this same pain as me. The one that makes me a great mom to my other kids. The one that makes me an amazing wife. The one that our Savior knows that I'm destined to be. It's not always easy, and I still miss the old me sometimes. But the new me is stronger, bravery and closer to where I need to be. Trials this heartbreaking can change you for the better, or for worse. For me, I wanted to make sure my loss didn't make me bitter. I want it to bring me closer to God and to help me see life the way He wants me to. I want my tears to show my kids that I have a strong testimony.  I cherish every little thing that a lot of people take for granted. I look for miracles because I have seen so many. I listen to the Holy Ghost and never postpone a prompting. I try my hardest to honor my baby to show my love for her.  
You will have to let some relationships go. This is one that I heard about a lot before I became a "loss mom." So I felt prepared for it. Luckily for me and my husband, we've only had to let go of one relationship in our life. But I know of so many loss moms that have had to go through letting go of several family and friends. For some reason, there are just some people out there that can't handle when someone has a baby pass away. It may be that this person isn't comfortable now that you have a loss. Maybe they don't know what to say or when to say it so they don't say anything and ignore you and the whole situation. Maybe they don't understand how important your stillborn baby's birthday is to you. Maybe they feel guilty that they have a baby close in age to your angel. Maybe they aren't a good person and aren't capable of being compassionate. Maybe they don't want to go out of their way to be supportive because they are just mean. Maybe it's all of these reasons. Whatever their excuse or reason for not being there for you, I can tell you it has nothing to do with you or your baby! It's something wrong with that person. Nothing you do can change their behavior, personality or compassion level. So you just have to let that relationship go. You've already gone through so much when you lose a baby, that worrying about someone else being comfortable with it is not your job. Your job is to honor the life of your child and to feel their spirit close to you. You can't do that with certain people in your life so you just have to let them go. And only you can decide what that means and looks like. You will see the true colors of people, and you will realize who truly loves and cares about you. There's a special peace that comes with surrounding yourself with people who love and support you and that remember your baby.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will not leave you. This is the greatest thing I've learned since my angel baby girl passed away. I have so many sacred experiences with this. They are so special to me and I've felt heaven so close. When the pain and grief and sadness is just too much to handle, because it will be, our Savior will step in and carry it for you. Heavenly Father will answer your prayers when you feel like you are all alone in this. When you feel like you are drowning in your own tears and that you can't breathe, our Savior will comfort you and let you know He is there. This is what I am most grateful for. I couldn't survive the loss of our baby without that love and comfort. I promise you're not alone and that He will never leave you.   
You will be surrounded with love, support and earthly angels beyond measure. This is probably the one closest to my heart. My family and I have been so overwhelmed with love, support and kindness this past year. Starting from the day our baby girl passed away, during my recovery, and up until today which is two days after her one year birthday, we have had at least one person a week do something kind for us. It's been support in the form of a text message checking on us or letting us know they are thinking of our baby, meals, flowers, donations, help with her funeral, sentimental gifts, hugs, cards, money, treats, letters, books, prayers and most recently birthday wishes for our baby girl. I was so grateful for the love we felt a year ago, and I was reminded of that same love and support this week as it poured in around our baby girl's one year birthday. I couldn't believe how many people remembered that day and took the time to show us. The same way we couldn't believe the amount of people that came to lift us the week she passed away and daily since then. My husband and I call them our earthly angels. Our nurses, doctors, family, friends, neighbors and some complete strangers have come as answers to prayers during this difficult time. Heavenly Father knew we would need them. And it has made me want to be that person for someone else. I think God uses our trials to help others. It has made me more compassionate and supportive to others. I want to give back to show my gratitude for all the love we've received. You will realize that the world is so full of good, loving, Christ-like people. 
Your baby's life has a purpose. This is something that has given me so much comfort and I'm grateful that I realized it shortly after our baby girl passed away. On the first day that I was in the ICU, the same day our baby girl was delivered, I told my husband that we needed to give back in Lucy's honor. That I wanted to give back to thank those who had donated the blood I received. I wanted Lucy's life to help us help save others. I wanted to show my gratitude for being alive still and making it through. I've said the only way to keep grief from overcoming my heart is to replace it with gratitude. So we started helping host blood drives. Two months after our baby girl passed away, my husband and some of our family donated blood for the first time. A few months later I was having a really hard day missing Lucy, when we got a letter in the mail. It was from the Red Cross telling us that my husband's blood donation helped save the lives of several premature babies in a different state. This was a huge blessing to me and showed me that my daughter's life has a big purpose here on earth and it's work that she is doing from the other side. Helping with blood drives and donating blood has made us so grateful to give back. We donate swaddle blankets to hospitals for stillborn babies and have an angel tree to give back for the support we received from our community and those that donated the keepsakes we received. These things have given us comfort and have helped us to include our other kids in honoring their baby sister.  They get so excited to help with these things! I've also been told that our story has helped others that are going through trials. It brings me so much joy knowing that we are giving back and honoring our sweet angel baby. And I know it will do the same for you. You will know how and when to honor your angel and it will bless you with the peace you need. You will feel the love of your baby so close to your heart.
If you have lost a baby, my heart goes out to you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. 
The Keeper of the Crayons

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Homemade Microwave Popcorn Recipe

My family loves eating popcorn when we watch a movie together. We have several different recipes and ways we make it, but this microwave one has become our new favorite recipe! You make the popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave! My kids thought it was amazing! And I loved how simple it was to make. All you need is a paper sandwich bag, 1/3 cup white popcorn kernels and scotch tape. Told you it was simple!

Pour 1/3 cup popcorn kernels in the paper bag. Fold the top over about 1/4 inch, and secure with one small piece of tape. Lay the bag on it's side with the tape facing up. Put it in the microwave and stop once the popping slows down. I used the popcorn button on my microwave.

Open the bag up, be careful it will be hot, and pour the popcorn into a large bowl. We melted butter and added salt on top of ours. I also used this method to make some caramel popcorn. You can also leave it plain and eat it. It's just as healthy as using an air popper, and it's a lot cheaper then buying the microwave bags from the store. Plus my kids thought it was so fun and loved helping with it!
The Keeper of the Crayons

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dollar Store Finds for Christmas

Christmas is coming soon so, I'm sharing some of my favorite items that I buy from the dollar store every year. I love enjoying the holidays and try to have my Christmas gifts bought and wrapped before Thanksgiving. I'm a total bargain shopper and love finding cheap items that make the holidays easier. Here's my list of  items I buy from the dollar store.

*Wrapping Supplies: Tape, Ribbons, Boxes and Gift Bags are so affordable at the dollar store. The plain white gift boxes are two boxes for a dollar! And gift bags are usually the same price too! I love using the cute Christmas gift bags for cousin gifts from my kids. They have some really cute prints! I also found the prettiest gold ribbon there. It was a huge roll for a dollar and added that special finishing touch to my gifts.

*Batteries: I buy my batteries at Costco, but every so often I buy a Christmas gift that needs just one battery or one battery that's not very common. I'll buy a single package battery for $1 at the dollar store and wrap it with the toy that it goes to. It's cheap and makes the gift less stressful when the battery is included.

*Lights: I love that the dollar store has Christmas lights for a buck! My kids decorate mini trees in their rooms, so when they need the lights replaced, I buy them at the dollar store for cheap. I also found some cute, tiny battery operated lights one year for $2 dollars. They are one of my favorite Christmas decorations.

*Holiday Food Items: The Dollar Store is a great place for those last minute items that you might need for your holiday meals. This year one of the things I'm in charge of is the Green Bean Casserole. Their canned goods were on sale and I bought every thing I needed for the casserole for under $5. I also found some inexpensive toppings for a hot chocolate bar. You can also find some really cute Christmas food containers and platters for a dollar.  

*Stocking Stuffers: The Dollar Store has great deals on stocking stuffers like candy, small toys, gloves and hats. I love grabbing a few of these to donate during the holidays to those in need, as well as to have some on hand if I need an extra neighbor gift. I always buy our neighbor gift items from there and print a cute tag to go with them.

Happy Holidays!
The Keeper of the Crayons

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Simple Halloween Treats

One of our favorite family traditions to do every October is to go "Spooking". We leave a treat for friends and family, knock on their door and run as fast as we can back to our car. It's so much fun and my kids laugh so hard the entire time. We love making the treats together and I love simple, but cute ones! These treats are not only adorable, they are so, so easy to make. I used things I already had on hand, like the almond bark, almonds, sprinkles and icing. Instead of making Rice Krispy treats, I decided to save time and use the pre packaged Rice Krispy Treats we had from Costco. My kids actually like the taste of them better, and it saved me so much time not making the Rice Krispy Treats from scratch. For the printable that I use every year, you can find it HERE and for my other spooking treat ideas, you can find them HERE. My kids loved helping make these treats. They all turned out so cute. The Frankenstein ones were my favorite!

Witch Fingers:
Rod Pretzel Sticks
White Chocolate Almond Bark
Sliced Almonds
Green Food Coloring
Melt the almond bark and add the green food coloring. Stir and dip each pretzel stick in. Place an almond on the top of each stick for the nail. Once set up a little bit, take a fork and score the marks for the finger knuckles. Let cool until chocolate is set.

Silly Monsters:
Pre Packaged Rice Krispy Treats
White chocolate Almond Bark
Blue food coloring
White Icing
Black Icing
Melt the almond bark. Add blue food coloring. Dip the Rice Krispy in the chocolate for the head. Let set for 2 minutes, then dip into a bowl of sprinkles. Using writing icing, make eyes out of the white and black and add a smile. Let it cool.

Pre packaged Rice Krispy Treats
Almond Bark
Black and White Icing
Melt the Almond Bark. Dip each Rice Krispy in the chocolate. Add eyes and a mouth with the icing.

Pre Packaged Rice Krispy Treats
Almond Bark
White and Black Icing
Brown Sprinkles
Green Food Coloring
Melt the Almond Bark and add the green food coloring. Dip the Rice Krispy in half way. Let it set up for a 1-2 minutes. Dip the top in a bowl of brown sprinkles. Add a sprinkle on each side for the bolts. Make eyes with the icing and draw a mouth. Add some sprinkles on the mouth for stitches. Let it cool and set up completely.

Happy Halloween!

The Keeper of the Crayons

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Thanksgiving Centerpiece and Candle Holder

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. I love decorating for the holidays and wanted to create a beautiful, inexpensive, fall centerpiece for my dining room table. I found this cute tray and leaves on sale before fall started, so I was excited to make something using them. We have a stack of firewood for our fireplace, so I stole a couple of pieces of wood from there to make a candle to go with my d├ęcor finds. I added some pumpkins, and I love how it turned out! The candle is so easy to make that I wanted to share it with you.

 Start with a piece of wood. I'm not even sure what kind this is, like I said above, I just found a cute looking one from our firewood pile in the size that I wanted. I cut about an inch off each end of the log that I found, just so it would be level.
 Using a 1 1/2 drill bit, I drilled the top deep enough to fit a tea candle flush inside. And that's it! So simple right? It only took about 5 minutes to make this candle holder.
 I think it would be cute to make several different sizes to put by a fireplace mantle for Christmas too.

To check out some of my Halloween Crafts, including my Halloween Name Skeletons, you can visit that post HERE,
and for another pumpkin idea, you can find that HERE.
The Keeper of the Crayons

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pumpkin Playdough

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays! Every year I put together a couple crafts for my kids to do in celebration of Halloween. This year, I decided to go with something they could play with all month long and not just use for decorations. They had so much fun making these pumpkin playdough cups! They are so simple to make and I'm sharing my favorite go-to, homemade playdough recipe!

For the cups:
We used small plastic punch cups to put our playdough in. My kids used a black Sharpie marker to draw their jack-o-lantern faces on.
For the playdough:
Boil 2 cups water, 4 TBSP oil, and 2 tsp. Cream of Tartar in a pot on the stovetop. Stir in 2 cups flour and then add 1 cup of salt. Knead in desired food coloring.
(To add a festive pumpkin smell, add one to two drops of pumpkin essential oil).  
This is the softest playdough and smells a lot better than the store bought stuff. I love how it turns out every time that I make it!

This is the finished product. My kids loved making these! They had fun changing the playdough from one cup to another so they could switch up the faces. The whole craft cost me less than $5. I hope your kids enjoy this as much as mine did!

The Keeper of the Crayons