Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Best of Pinterest: My Favorite Pins

I love Pinterest.  I'll occasionally have a fail, but for the most part, Pinterest has given me so many amazing ideas for recipes, decorating, living the faith, crafts, DIY projects, and more.

I could probably give you a hundred or so of my favorite pins!  But I narrowed it down to one fave pin for 5 different categories: Recipes, Holiday, Kids, Faith, and DIY Projects.

Ok, ok, so I tried to narrow it down.  I added in a few sub-categories and had a few ties too!  Pinterest is just so awesome - it's hard to choose just one!

Favorite Appetizer Recipe

Dill Cucumber Dip
I found this while specifically looking up a cool and refreshing dip for the summer.  It is fabulous.

{Pin It}       {View It}

Bonus:  It's 'fancy' enough for a wedding or a baby shower, and it's 'hearty' enough for an outdoor barbecue or a game watch with friends.  It is perfect for any get-together!

Favorite Soup Recipe

Sausage and White Bean Chili
This chili is unique and has the perfect amount of spiciness.  It tastes amazing.  End of story.

Bonus:  It only uses 1/2 lb. of sausage, so it's a fairly cheap meal to make.  Plus, it freezes very well so I always double the recipe so then we will have one for a later date.

Favorite Dinner Recipe

Beef and Bean Enchilada Casserole
We love Mexican food so this is one of many Mexican recipe pins I've tried.  This is by far our family favorite.

{Pin It}       {View It}

Bonus:  It only uses 1/2 lb. of hamburger (so it's a cheaper meal), but it is still hearty.  Also, it can easily be converted to a meatless meal, which is perfect for Fridays for our family.

Favorite Kid's Meal (Tie)

Pancake Muffins
I could never get a hang of flipping pancakes.  I always, always burned them.  Plus, I was stuck next to the griddle making pancakes while everyone else was eating dinner.  These pancake muffins took care of both of these problems in one easy swoop.

Bonus:  They can be frozen, so they are perfect to make ahead for busy days.

English Muffin Pizzas
So easy.  So versatile.  Everyone in the family loves them.

Bonus:  They're fun for the whole family to make together.  And they're freezable.  I'm all about make ahead meals for the busy days.

Favorite Dessert Recipe

Christmas Cranberry Cake
I tried this recipe on a whim.  It is hands down the best dessert I've ever made.

Bonus:  It only takes 6 ingredients.  Yes, you read that right - only 6 ingredients!

Favorite DIY Project

Hand Painted Dresser
I wanted to paint a tree on our kid's dresser as soon as I saw it on Pinterest.  It is so beautiful and so unique!

Bonus:  It was well worth the time, and it's something the kids (and I) will cherish forever.

Favorite DIY Home Decor 
and Organization Project

Wet Bar turned Craft Space
Several pins came together to give me this idea.  Framed display area for the kids' crafts.  Mason jars for storage.  Spice rack turned into storage for craft supplies.  And so much more!

Bonus:  It's beautiful and organized and my favorite space in our house.

Favorite Holiday Pin (Tie)

Hobbit Halloween Costumes
As soon as I saw this pin, I knew this was the perfect Halloween costume for our curly haired kiddos.

Bonus:  It's a no sew project!  And the cloaks are one size fits all (for kids) so they can play dress up with it for years.

Shamrock Hair Bow
How cute is this for a little girl?!  Dainty, cute, and oh-so-easy to make.

Bonus:  It is incredibly easy to make.  Plus, we're Notre Dame fans so our daughter wears it all year.  Go Irish!

Favorite Faith Activity for Kids (Tie)

Prayer Sticks
My sister Katie came across this awesome little faith activity for the family.  It's a great way to get kids involved in prayer!

Bonus:  It strengthens your family prayer life.  Need I say more?!

Felt Nativity Scene
I came across a Felt Nativity Scene when I was looking up ideas for a Felt Christmas Tree, and I fell in love.  I had to make it for my kids!  So one Christmas, Katie and I had a Pinterest Day and made it together for our little ones.

Bonus:  It's a fun, hands on way for the kids to learn about the Nativity Story.  And something they can play with for years to come.

Favorite Indoor Activity for Kids

Coloring a Box
Katie found this one as well and shared it with me - it is pure genius for giving kids a creative outlet when you're stuck inside in the winter!

Bonus:  The box keeps little ones contained.  It entertains the big kids for hours.  And you can do this activity outside with sidewalk chalk too!

Favorite Outdoor Activity for Kids 

DIY Sidewalk Chalk Paint
This is so easy to make, and there are tons of sidewalk chalk games and activities that equal hours of fun for the kids!

Bonus:  It's edible and washable because well, kids put everything in their mouths and they tend to make messes!

These are just a few of the awesome pins I've found over the years! 
So how about you?  What are your all-time favorite Pinterest successes? 

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Five Faves: Lenten Edition

Lent began on this week on Ash Wednesday.  The Lenten season is one of my favorite times in the Church year because it is full of quiet reflection, repentance, and growth.

So to kick off Lent, here are few quick and random things I've been thinking about concerning Lent this year:

1.  What Lent Is Really About
I loved Kathryn Whitaker's post Giving Up on Lent:

"You don’t have to be some super, über-Catholic to get box seats for Lent. You just have to open and willing to be transformed."  

Lent is for everyone - it's about being the best disciple you can be!  May what we sacrifice and what we do this Lent lead us closer to Christ!

2.  Lent for Kids
I'm looking forward to teaching the kids more about Lent this year.  Lacy from Catholic Icing has a great round up of Lenten Activities for Kids.

Last year, we made her Stations of the Cross "Easter" Eggs.  This is a great hands on activity for teaching children Jesus's story leading up to His Crucifixion.

This year, we will for sure be using the Lent Countdown Calendar and make her pretzel crown of thorns.  There are so many more great ideas too!  I know the kids will love these crafts and activities - and they'll learn a lot about the Faith too!

3.  Lenten Decor
This simple wreath and this Crown of Thorns centerpiece are perfect!  Could it get any easier than a grapevine wreath with toothpicks?

4.   Meatless Meals
The first thing I saw on Ash Wednesday was a Burger King ad for a Fish Sandwich.  Ha!  It's time for meatless Fridays!

So I have my go-to list of 35 or so meatless recipes ready to go.  but I'm surfing Pinterest for some more because I just love making new recipes!  What are your favorite meatless recipes?

5.  Ash Wednesday
Lastly, a few fun pictures from our Ash Wednesday:

"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

I took all 3 kids to Mass by myself for the first time (since my husband had a meeting).  I was scared out of my mind, but they ended up being pretty darn good.  Whew!  I thought I was going to be starting off Lent with a major penance, but it ended up a major blessing!

So are you participating in Lent this year?  Or as Kathryn asked in her post, "How are you going to be TRANSFORMED this Lent?"

I pray that me and my family can grow in holiness and in a deeper relationship with Christ this Lent, and I pray the same for you too!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How to Pray a Family Rosary: 7 Tips for Real Life Families

Praying the Rosary together as a family is a beautiful thing - but it's very intimidating too!  It's a big (and long!) prayer!

Will my kids pay attention for that long?  Will we get through the first mystery before my toddler starts screaming?  Will my teenager even want to say it with us?  How will we ever find the time?

The simple answer is accept God's grace, have fun, and let go.

Here are 7 tips that have helped our busy family of five to start praying the Rosary together.  (And in all reality, these ideas will work for praying any and all prayers together as a family - not just the Rosary!)

Start small.
You first need to ask yourself: what is your ultimate goal?  Do you want to say the Rosary together as a family once a week?  Or everyday?

Once you have your answer, set smaller goals to get to to your final goal.  Maybe you should start by saying one decade a day or the whole Rosary together once a week.  Starting small will help you from feeling overwhelmed or defeated if you're having trouble reaching your final goal right away.

Know your family's limitations - and adjust.
If you have small children with short attention spans, then consider saying 1 decade at a time. 
Also, it's ok to break up the Rosary throughout the day.  Say one decade before breakfast, one before lunch, and so on.  Or make sure that your family Rosary stays under 15 minutes.

If you have older children who are in a lot of activities, maybe saying it in the car together works best for you.

Every family will have obstacles.  Work around them - don't let them become stumbling blocks to your prayer life as a family!

Don't force it.
Praying together as a family is a gift.  Don't speak about it as if it's draining, a requirement, or (even worse) a punishment.

Growing up, my parents always said, "We get to pray the Rosary, go to Mass, go to Adoration, etc."  It was never "we have to..."  Lead by your positive and joyous example!

Below I have posted a few affiliate links, which means that I may make a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking one of those links.  I have only shared products that we use and love.  Please see the disclosure page for more info!

Make it fun.
This is easy for little ones!  Let them play with the Little People Nativity Scene during the Joyful Mysteries.  Give your baby a big toy rosary to chew on.  My kids love holding a plastic statue of Mary while we pray.  My 4 year old daughter loves using Rosary Roses to count out each Hail Mary.

The next three tips will also help to make praying together as a family fun for parents and kids of all ages:

Appeal to the senses. 
Make it visual.  Use a book or watch a video of the Rosary that has beautiful pictures.

Pray before your home altar.  Or place a statue of Jesus or a Crucifix on your coffee table and pray around it.

Think about your environment.  Dim the lights.  Pray by the light of a real or battery operated candle, twinkle lights, your Christmas tree, your fireplace, or a bonfire outside.

Use the resources available.
There are so many wonderful resources out there!

We love the book Mary Holds My Hand for reflections on the Rosary for kids.

For beautiful meditations on the mysteries for older kids and adults, I love Praying the Rosary with St. Josemaría Escrivá.

For reflections on the mysteries of the Rosary (for moms and by moms), my favorite book is Rosaries Aren't {Just} For Teething.

My favorite (free!) app is Relevant Radio.  They have several versions of the Rosary - long and short, with or without background music.  (The shortest one is 17 minutes long and the longest is 28 minutes.  They are located under "Audio Prayers".)

And my favorite Rosary CD is The Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations, and Music by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.  The music is absolutely beautiful!  (This is perfect for praying the Rosary in the car!)

I haven't found a great video yet.  We had an awesome one growing up, but now I can't find it anywhere.  Please share if you have a favorite (DVD or YouTube).  I'm still on the hunt!

Our daughter loves praying with her Rosary Roses!

Make it your own.
Get your children personally involved.  Have everyone choose their own prayer intention for that particular Rosary or decade.

Let everyone pick out their own rosary.  My daughter wants something beautiful (like Rosary Roses!) or her favorite color - pink.  My youngest wants the big chunky toy rosary because he just wants something to chew on!  They get more excited about saying it if they love their rosary.

Once your kids know their prayers, they can lead a decade.  We still need to help them count out the 10 Hail Marys, but our kids (ages 3 and 4) love to lead a decade.  They get so excited when it's their turn! 

Don't sweat it.
Our kids don't always listen or participate.  But as long as they're being respectful (like not swinging their rosary at their sibling's face) then we let it go.

But the best advice is to "give yourself grace" and to remember that God does too.

I'm a cradle Catholic, and I've never been a part of a family Rosary that has looked like a picture out of a magazine.  And that is perfectly fine.

The most important thing to God isn't that you're all kneeling or saying every line of every prayer in perfect reverence.  You're praying together as a family, and that's what is beautiful to God!

How do you pray together as a family?  What tips do you have for keeping your family united in prayer?

Happy Ash Wednesday, and may you have a blessed and fruitful Lent!


What is the Rosary?  Here is how to pray this beautiful devotion!

You may also like:

Our Catholic Quiet Bag for Kids to Help Them
Stay Quiet at Mass and Adoration

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