8 steps for starting your blog in 2021

Since starting my blog and social media platforms I’ve gotten a few questions about how to begin. The main thing for me was to just GO FOR IT, get over whatever is holding you back. For me, it was other people’s opinion of me. HOW SILLY IS THAT! I was letting strangers and imaginary scenarios get in the way of pursuing a passion of mine. In this blog post i’m going to breakdown a few steps that helped me get my blog going.


There is no special requirement to start your presence online. You don’t need some sort of fancy degree or any experience. I was previously a Published Make-up artist turned stay-at-home mom. I had no idea how to even start a blog but the thing was, I was totally over thinking it. And once I realized how to do it, my next hurdle was getting over the fear.

STEP 2. Establish your audience.

Think about who you are serving and what are you offering them? A key point to turning your blog into a successful blog is to offer a solution. Who do you want your blog to be for? The novice cook who is looking for guidance in the kitchen? The new mom who has no idea where to even begin? The new teacher who needs help with organizing their classroom? Whatever that topic may be, how can you share it to help solve a problem or to be an encouragement?

STEP 3. Establish your BRAND.

What is a brand? Basically, a brand represents who you/your blog are. It helps readers and visitors identify and recognize your images and blog posts because you remained consistent with colors, fonts, and formats. It can go as deep as to how you capture photos, how you film your videos, and key phrases you use. But for the beginner, starting with establishing your fonts and brand colors is a good starting point

STEP 4. Create your website!

Ok so, you’ve built yourself up. You’re feeling confident and ready! You’ve decided who your audience will be and what you will be sharing. You’ve chosen your brand colors and fonts. Now, its time to officially start your blog! If you have the ability to invest, you can start off self hosting on sites like Blue-Host. For me, I was pretty broke so I went with a free page on WordPress. You can eventually transfer your word press website to a self hosted site, which will help you with getting paid content in the future. I chose to upgrade to a premium WordPress plan after a few months because I decided that I could really make this work. And so far, its been working! WordPress has TONS of free layouts that you can use, you can even change the fonts and colors to go with your brand. If you decided to go premium like I did, make sure the layout you’re using is compatible with Word Ads ( Which is the plug-in on your site that puts out ads and you get paid for allowing those ads to be on your page). Mine wasn’t, and even tho it was only a few dollars i missed out on, those months just to happened to be my high traffic months. But that’s ok, we learn as we go!

STEP 5. Create a business Pinterest.

Pinterest is a huge SEO powertool that will help send traffic to your blog. Using your brand tools you can create pinterest pins on Canva ( for free) to pin to your pinterest with the links to your blog. You can pin as many times as you want and to as many boards as you want. But, it is important (or at least i think it is imporant) to have a clean and organized pinterest page. You dont have to pin just your own pins ; pin and create boards of other things that you genuinely like to your pinterest page. More traffic to your page equals more exposure of your own pins which will lead them to your website.

STEP 6. Start Writing!

Start writing your blog posts! I made a list of just a handful of blog topics in my niche that I wanted to write. I only started with a few so I wouldn’t’ get overwhelmed. I found that posting consistently once a week really helped drive traffic to my blog. You can choose whatever day or time works best for you, and stick to those days so readers can expect when to see a new post from you.


I created a Facebook page, an Instagram, a YouTube channel, And a Pinterest so I had several different platforms to help share and promote my new blog posts. I also share my links to my personal Facebook page and that really helps! I used to be scared to share, and for the first few months I didn’t. But once I stepped out of that bubble and started promoting my posts, my views tripled! So don’t be afraid to spread the word!

STEP 8. Take it serious.

I knew that if i wanted this to work and be taken seriously then i’d have to take it serious myself. So, I created dedicated times to work on my blog whether it be writing, planning, editing, shooting,etc. Even tho I’m not rolling in money from my blog, i still take it serious and work hard on it. I feel that has really made a huge positive impact on my blog’s growth!

And that’s it! I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and found it helpful. Remember to be yourself and most importantly have fun!

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I’ve connected with some amazing Bloggers to share some blogs featuring some influencer/blogging tips for 2021! Tips to grow, engagement & more! Head to each of their blogs to check out what they are sharing.

Heather | 3 Things You Need to Know if You Have Ever Thought About Creating a Blog

Amy | Influencing for Dummies (like me)

Cheyenne | Tips to be a successful Instagram Influencer in 2021

Lori | 7 Tips To Grow As An Influencer on A Budget

Krystalyn | How To Balance Time As An Influencer

How to make Picadillo : The Easy Way

Ok ok, listen, I have to be honest with you. This is a super easy take on a traditional picadillo recipe. However, it’s not 100% authentic. I’m all about working smarter not harder, especially as a busy mom and on days I’m on the go. So while I won’t be roasting chiles and making my own concoction of spices in a molcajete in this recipe, I can promise you this is a dish you’ll enjoy!

I LOVE winter season, I live in SE Texas tho so eating warm cozy comfort food isn’t always fun. Especially in 100 °F weather. I LIVE for the whole two weeks of winter we get here, and one of my favorite dishes I love making to warm us up, is picadillo.

Picadillo a is a dish consisting of ground meat, chopped veggies, smothered in a tasty tomato sauce that is typically served over Mexican rice. I love making this because not only is it easy, its also inexpensive, and you can bulk it up with tons of veggies to feed plenty of people. Today, I’m going to be showing you how to make it the easy way!

What you’ll need:

• 1 lb ground beef

• 1 small onion

• 1 tsp minced garlic

• 1 large carrot

• 1 bell pepper (or any green vegetable you want, peas, green beans, etc)

• 2 small potatoes

• a handful of cilantro

• 2 tblsp of knorr chicken bouillon

• 12 oz can of V8 vegetable juice OR can of tomato sauce ( Using V8 juice is a great way to sneak in veggies if you have picky eaters!

•Salt and pepper to taste

optional: Chiles in adobo sauce

pic: Canva


  1. Prep all of your veggies. Wash, dry, peel, and chop! Set them to the side.
  2. In some oil saute the onion and garlic until fragrant and translucent, add in your ground meat and season to taste.
  3. Once meat is nearly done, add in your veggies and continue to cook for a few minutes.
  4. Pour in your tomato sauce ( or V8 juice ) , 1/4 cup of water , your knorr, and bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cover.
  5. Once vegetables are fork tender and and all of the flavors have cooked well together you can serve over mexican rice, make picadillo filled quesadillas, or even burritos!
  6. Garnish with Queso Fresco and cilantro and ENJOY!

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I’ve connected with some amazing Bloggers to share some blogs featuring heartwarming food recipes! Soups, broths, casseroles & more! Head to each of their blogs to check out what they are sharing.

Cheyenne | 30 minute instant pot copy cat Olive Garden chicken gnocchi soup

Amy | Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

Mai | Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Michelle | Mexican Lentil Soup Sonoran Style

Krystalyn | Filipino Beef Stew — Sinigang na Baka

Laila | Green Bean Casserole

Heather | Quick and Easy Chicken Fajita Soup Instant Pot Recipe – Perfect for the Busy Mom

Super easy Toddler Activity box & storage idea

It’s 2021, we’re living our best lives and leaving the clutter behind! Today I’m sharing a super simple and easy way to organize and store your kids playdoh and craft accessories! You can also use this to create your very own Toddler activity boxes!

We love activity and sensory boxes in our home! They’re a great way to keep the kiddos busy while you take some time for yourself, prep dinner, or do a quick pick up of your house. Whatever you use these for, it’s an easy way to help your kids be entertained, especially if they need a break from technology or on bad weather days when you can’t get outside!


You’re going to need some sort of storage box, I love these from Michael’s AND they’re on sale right now!

We got the pink one!


Fill it up with your items! We filled ours with playdoh, paints, and all of our craft accessories!

I’m sure If you have toddlers then you may have most of these items already, but if you don’t, here are some ideas with what you can fill your box with!

Washable paints
Popsicle sticks
Kinetic sand
Puzzles are great to add to your activity boxes
Or you can purchase a pre made box! This one is a sensory box and it is also offered in different colors!

And there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed this idea, and if you create one of your own feel free to tag me on Instagram so I can see your wonderful creations!

Disclaimer: post may contain affiliate links, which mean I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you when you purchase these items through those links. If you do, I want to sincerely thank you for helping support my family.

Reflecting on 2020 | The good, the bad, and everything in between.

Reflecting on 2020

2020 has not gone anywhere like how I expected it to, I’m sure it hasn’t gone how ANY of us expected it to. As I reflect on the end of the year I am reminded of how good God is and even through the struggles He always remains faithful. I pray that this blog brings encouragement to those who maybe have been struggling or who are feeling the call to step back into the faith. Grab a snack and get cozy, this may be a long one.

At the end of 2019 I re-gave my life to Christ. Truly I felt like it was the first time I had actually come to know Him, and I can honestly say that 2020 was the ULTIMATE test of faith.

When we give our life to Christ, we more-or-less understand that we are surrendering our fleshly and earthly ways to obey and follow God’s guidance. It is simple yet complicated, especially for someone like me who likes to be “safe” and take control of my life myself. But when we take that leap of faith, and allow ourselves to be guided by God’s way, we get to see and experience the blessings that God has in store for us. Blessings bigger than what we, as man, could ever create for ourselves. Blessings that we may even be getting in the way of when we chose to intentionally limit our faith and do things our own way. Now this doesn’t mean that we are exempt from struggles, challenges, or even facing our breaking point, But it means no matter what obstacles we face, we will always have God’s guidance to help us navigate through it.

December 2019 was my breaking point, I found myself on my knees crying out to God. We were struggling to pay rent on time and to put food on the table. I am thankful for the help we received that month and we were anxious to be better come January 2020. How we got to that point? Honestly I don’t know. We were pretty financially responsible, I started a full time job at the beginning of the year,and It was supposed to be the year we grew our financial goals. The year 2020 has showed that even though we pray for miracles and break-through, they don’t always present themselves in the way that we expect them to.

January 2020 finally came and it felt like a breath of fresh air, a new start, new goals, a new outlook on life. I prayed that God continue to lead us out of the hole that we had created for ourselves and show us the way. Never in a million years did I did we would experience basically a world-wide shut down and a pandemic.

March 2020 I was temporarily laid off, that was the beginning of what I remember to be the shut downs in the US. Initially I was apprehensive, especially given our recent financial situation. But the more I prayed and the more I got into the Word the more I felt peace. I was reminded that life is not in my hands but in His, and that I needed to trust the process. I had also been struggling with immense guilt for months leading up until this point. I so deeply wanted to come back to the home, I didn’t want to care anymore what society thought of me if I was a stay at home mom or a working mom. I felt guilty that Olivia was going through milestones and I wasn’t the one seeing them first. I felt guilty, is she going to only remember me waking her up in the mornings just to get her ready and drop her off at daycare for the rest of the day. I truly felt like God knew what he was doing, because although i was struggling with that conviction, I absolutely loved my job and I would not have left if it wasn’t for the pandemic.

We started tot school this year. It’s been a lot of fun!

March was also the time my spouse unexpectedly started a new job, he had not been searching but the opportunity presented itself. After much prayer Johnny embarked on a new adventure. The job was temporary, seeing as the company was uncertain of their future due to the immense shut downs. We really stepped out on a leap of faith for this one, because the job my husband was at previously was a permanent position, of which he had been working at for about 3 years, and was guaranteed job security. Yes, he left his permanent job for a temporary one. Old earthly us would have never stepped out on the leap of faith. We would’ve stayed in our safe, comfortable path, continuing to do what we knew… But when I tell you God is not fallible, I mean it. The DAY he started his new job, His previous one shut down. A huge multi million dollar company, laid off hundreds HUNDREDS of employees keeping only a handful.

In May 2020 I finally bit the bullet and publicly announced that I had started a blog. This was a huge thing for me as I am super socially awkward in real life and was extremely nervous at how people who knew me would react. I was met with so much love and support. This was something I had felt called to do for so long, but because of my own insecurities I did not pursue. Surely God doesn’t want ME to do this. I didn’t think I was the one He wanted to be an encouragement to others, I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer. But that my friends, was the enemy feeding me lies. I also had very little faith that anything would come from it (at first), and that i had to be tied to a “regular” job or career to help provide for my family. And while I’ve stared off only making pennies, the potential for growth was shown to me, and i am so grateful that life forced me to slow down so that i could have this opportunity.

July 2020 it was time for my husbands 90 day review. We had faith that he would be offered a permanent position, and he was. But we didn’t expect was that they’d offer him the permanent position with a lower salary..after much praying my husband presented a counter offer, and they met in the middle. Ideally, it did not go how we had planned, but again. God is faithful, and we have been so blessed nonetheless.

August 2020 we made it to the end of our apartment lease. By the grace of God we had built up our savings and even paid off the majority of our debt. Truly the only thing that I can say about that is, It was all God. A true testimony of Matthew 6:30-34. We had been working diligently and had been disciplined about keeping the faith, obediently following what we had felt God ask of us, we started tithing and being selfless financially to those in need; and He was staying true to His promises.

October – November was honestly a blur. I did struggle a bit with my faith as well as my mental health. I became overwhelmed with elections, politics, censorship, and things of this Earth. I had to really take a step and re-evaluate what I was prioritizing. The things I was consuming were causing havoc in my life. When i’m in the Word and living each day to mindfully honor God i’m more meek, humbled, grateful, and still. When I consume too much what goes on on this earth i’m more rigid, snappy, I misspeak, i’m disconnected, and i’m anxious. I asked God for discipline and that he allow me be delivered from my convictions because I was really struggling. I felt so weighed down by things of this world. I also knew that this was the month that we’d have to start looking for homes in order to meet our 60 day deadline for our apartment lease. I was feeling anxious, and truthfully a little PTSD from the season we experienced starting this time last year.

a peak at our property.

November – December we started our search and found a home that we loved. We placed an offer and it was accepted. A home, our very first home that we own. I envisioned something unlike I would have ever imagined. This year I felt the pull to live a more simpler life. I think after loosing our home in 2017 to a natural disaster, to pretty much being completely broke last year, I really learned that the important things in life are not tangible. Its not what kind of house you live in, the car you drive, or items that you do or do not own. But its how you live. I strive to honor and live for God, to serve my family, be a good mother and a homemaker. 10 years ago if you would’ve told me i’d be saying this I would have straight up laughed at you. Seriously. After some searching we found our place. Land with a humble home, and I could not be more overcome with joy and gratefulness.

my little family.

2020 taught me to release control, and to fearlessly honor and listen for God’s guidance. 2020 taught me that blessings and miracles tend to come in what we see as struggles, uncertainty and as God telling us no. But I like to believe it’s Him moving and making way so that way we follow the course that He has for us.

I’ve connected with some amazing Bloggers to share some blogs featuring New Years Resolutions, Goals, Inspiration, Motivation and more! Head to each of their blogs to check out what they are sharing.


Cheyenne | Overcoming Obstacles

Amy | Here’s to Thirty-Six

Heather | 5 Beginner Blogging Goals That I Am Setting for Myself in 2021

Kimmy | Making Resolutions In 2021

Lori | My Word for 2021: Consistency (With Free Planner Printable)

Annie | Things to Do in 2021

Arroz Con Leche Recipe

Hello, my sweet friends! I am so excited for today’s blog post, I’m going to be sharing my all time favorite holiday dessert: Arroz con Leche.

Growing up Arroz con leche was the thing I looked forward to the most during the holidays. It’s a delicious rice pudding that can be eaten warm or cold, my mom used to freeze the left overs into Arroz con leche paletas (ice pops). Which were AMAZING!

I called my mom one evening and asked if she could share her recipe with me. In typical Latina fashion, there was none. Hahahaha, we always joke that we cook from the heart and measure with love, not measuring spoons.

However, after some experimenting in the kitchen I was able to put together a recipe to share with you all, I think you’re going to love it!

What you’ll need:

1. 1 Cup of rice (I just use whatever white rice we have on hand)

2. 2.5 cups of water

3. 3-4 cinnamon sticks (you can use less if you’re not a fan of cinnamon)

4. 1 14oz can of Sweetened condensed milk

5. 1 12oz can of Evaporated milk

6. 1 cup of milk of your choice (I prefer cows milk for this recipe)

7. Powdered cinnamon

8. A splash of vanilla


• Add rice, water, and cinnamon sticks to a large pot and bring to a boil. Once it’s come to a rolling boil, bring down to a simmer and allow the rice to get just about almost fully cooked. (About 15-18 minutes, Stir consistently)

• Once rice is just about fully cooked carefully remove the cinnamon sticks and add all three of your milks. Slowly pouring one at a time while continuously stirring.

• Once milks and rice have been incorporated well, add a splash of vanilla. (Remember, keep stirring)

• Bring your pot back to a boil for just a few minutes and then reduce back to a low heat.

• Cook for about 25 minutes, don’t forget to keep stirring. The milks can burn easily.

• And that’s it! Pour into a bowl or a cup and sprinkle some cinnamon on top.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! If you make it, make sure to share and tag me on instagram. I’d love to see what you all come up with and how you all love it. Enjoy!

Feel free to save this photo, pin, screenshot, or print!

I’ve connected with some amazing Bloggers to share some blogs featuring Christmas desserts! Tis the season for all the donuts, cake, cookies and more! Head to each of their blogs to check out what they are sharing.


Cheyenne: Deck the halls with this easy Christmas dessert!

Heather: A Hot Cocoa Holiday Dessert Charcuterie Board Perfect for a Cozy Night In

Kimmy : Christmas Sugar Cookie Dip

Eryka – Sugar Cookies You’ll actually eat!

Top 10 Stocking stuffers for the essential oil lover in your life!

Know someone who is IN LOVE with essential oils? Struggling to find useful yet also beautiful ideas to fill their stocking? Well, you’ve come to the right place!

Disclaimer: links provided may be affiliate links. Which mean, I may earn a commission when you shop through these links, at no extra cost to you. If you do purchase through the links provided in this post, I sincerely thank you for supporting this blog and my family. Happy shopping!

pic: Stickandthread on Etsy
  1. Macrame Rainbow Diffuser. Macrames are all the rage right now, your EO loving person is sure to love these. Drop some of your favorite essential oils and hang them in your car. Perfect non-toxic car scent freshener.
pic: Young Living Essential Oil

2. Essential Oil Roll-Ons. Roll-On oils are always a good idea. Compact, portable, and easy to apply. They’re great especially for those unexpected times when you might need an oil.

pic: Honeyhivefive on Etsy

3. A fun Oil Reppin’ Key Chain. Ok, but how cute are these?! You absolutely cannot go wrong with this super cute key-chain, and so many options to chose from!

pic: Young Living Essential Oils

4. Bath Bombs. Bath bombs infused with aromatherapy? Yes,PLEASE! AND it comes in a pack of three, need I say more?

pic: Mackandmae on Etsy

5. A Super cute Oil bag. Ok,I want to grab like 6 of these for myself! BRB going to show this list to my husband.

pic: Young Living

6. Lipbalm. No good stocking is complete without a good Lip balm! It may seem so simple, but a good lip balm is definitely an essential!

Pic: Elevatedwooddesign on Etsy

7. Essential Oil Organizer. These beautiful geocube essential oil organizers are perfect for housing all of your essential oil lovers bottles!

pic: Young Living

8. Hand Sanitizer. Another stocking stuffer staple! Whew that was a tongue twister. Seriously, ditch those toxic hand sanitizers and swap it out for this awesome non-tox heavenly smelling hand sanitizer. Rona, who? We don’t know her.

pic: EkumboMinistries on Etsy

9. Tassle Diffusers. Not only are these wood and wool tassle diffusers absolutely stunning, when you purchase these you are also supporting a GREAT cause.

pic: Lemonsweetjewelry on Etsy

10. Diffuser Bracelet. There is just something so relaxing about wearing your favorite oils. This diffuser bracelet is sure to blow your essential oil loving person away. Not to mention its absolutely stunning!

And there you have it 10 Stocking Stuffer Ideas for the essential oil lover in your life.

Wanting to purchase or join Young Living? Click HERE to join Sign up as a member and receive 24% off your purchases. Have more questions about Young Living? Email mommagblogs@gmail.com with Oily Questions in the subject line.

I’ve connected with some amazing Bloggers to share some blogs featuring Stocking Stuffer ideas. DIY, store bought and more! Head to each of their blogs to check out what they are sharing.


Kimmy Manzo : Stocking stuffers for kids

Cheyenne Traficante: Dollar stocking stuffer ideas + DIY name tags


Remember my last post? How to have a budget friendly Christmas. Well, Many of you had questions and asked for product recommendations. So, I’ve complied a list of gifts I think any woman in your life might like. They’re cute, trendy, and useful without any cheesy-ness. I hope you enjoy, and keep a look out for a Gift Guide For Men to come.

Disclaimer – Links may be affiliate links, which mean I may earn a small commission when you shop through these links, at no extra cost to you. Prices are subject to change, all items were $35 or less at the time this blog post was made.

Looking for a budget friendly gift guide for the women in your life? Look no further friend, I’ve got you covered! In no particular order, lets get into the gifts!

  1. COZY SLIPPERS. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like slippers. Diamonds who? Cozy slippers are where it’s at!!

2. A CUTE MUG. Listen, there really is no such thing as too many cute mugs. Especially Target mugs!

3. Bobbi brown travel LIP GLOSS. I’ll be honest,I used to not understand the purpose of travel-sized cosmetics for people who weren’t always travelling…and I worked in the beauty industry for over 5 years. But as a busy woman and mom who is always on the go, Travel sized cosmetics are literally GENIUS! They’re compact and easy to throw in the diaper-bag or purse for a quick refresh. These are definitely a must have!

4. Kate Spade Glitter Studs. I have no other explanation other than KATE SPADE and GLITTER STUDS!!! I MEAN, just beautiful.

5. KNOTTED HEADBANDS. Knotted headbands made their appearance and they’re here to stay, honey. Seriously, how cute are these!

6. Heart Stud Earrings. Glitter studs aren’t your girls style? Don’t worry, these super chic heart stud earrings she will for sure love!

7. YETI MUG. Hear me out, I know it’s not shiny or fancy. But this mug, is literally a life safer. Especially if you’re shopping for a mom, HOT coffee or tea?! She’ll love this gift forever.

8. Drink More Water Bottle. Another great must have, especially for the gal on the go or busy moms!

9. Last but not least, a COZY BLANKET. Have you ever met a woman who’s not cold? Neither have I! This super cute and cozy ultra plush throw blanket is what dreams are made of.


3 Easy tips for staying on a budget while Christmas shopping.

Is your love language gift giving? Mine is, too. But my wallet, not so much. I’m going to share with you some things we’ve learned and tips we’ve used to stay on budget with christmas shopping.

As the years have gone by my husband and I have prioritized our spending on essential things like personal care, health, investing and savings. I used to very much be into over-the-top spending and showering everyone with gift-giving, the downside was I almost always ended up broke afterwards. It got to the point where I no longer looked forward to Christmas shopping and it became more of a stress than it was enjoyable. Like most things, I put endless amount of stress on myself wanting to buy everyone, yes literally everyone, a gift for Christmas. No one asked me to, I just really like Christmas gift shopping. And to be honest, I struggled a lot with a shopping problem I took years to even acknowledge was a problem ; but that is a story for another day…

Here are some tips that helped us stay on budget:

    I know, it sounds kind of awful. But your Sister’s cousins great aunt Sheryl, twice removed, that you’ve only spoken to twice doesn’t need that fancy Pandora bracelet. And remember, Christmas is way more than what we give or receive during this day… So, We made a list and kept it short, consisting of the people in our lives we hold close. My parents, His grandparents, one gift exchange for each of our families, and our daughter. We went from shopping for like 20 people, down to 7.
    When I tell you about how much we spend per person you may be shocked. You ready for it? We try to keep our spending at about $35 per person, with the exception of our daughter. Bringing us to about a total of $250. YEP! Y’all, I was EASILY spending close to $1000 years past just on Christmas shopping. INSANE. And that brings me back to tip #1, keep your gifting circle to the people you hold close. Now our budget definitely changes through the years, sometimes our budget is more and sometimes it’s less. Especially given this year’s situation, don’t feel pressured to give fancy gifts. This doesn’t mean you cant get little gifts of appreciation for your co-workers, your team, nieces and nephews, or other family members. I love making little hot-chocolate gift bags with a special thank-you note or a giftcard; and they’re super affordable. In a cute plastic gift bag add your hot coco pouch, a candy cane, and some marshmallows. VOILA! You can even turn them into little reindeer. super cute!
    Christmas shopping can get hard, and its easy to buy a bunch of random things and overspend when you don’t have a plan. A sister of mine shared this with me and I’ve applied it to our Christmas shopping ever since. You can have whoever you’re shopping for make a list of a NEED, a WANT, and a READ. If your budget allows you can get one from each category, or one from the entire list. This way, not only do you save money, but your gifts tend to be more meaningful and useful.
    Now this one may be difficult this season with Covid, but if permitable, you can eighty-six the gift-giving and volunteer as a family at a food pantry or a soup kitchen. Years past our family made little sack dinners and drove around town feeding the homeless. This is a great way to get the family together and enjoy gifting to those in need.

And there you have it, 3 awesome ways to cut down on spending this Christmas season + 1 bonus tip. I hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas, do you have a hack to save money on Christmas shopping? Share them in the comment box!

Why we’ve cut down on screen time in our home.

Screen Detox:

Yes, you heard that right. Good-bye screens!

Ok, not completely but we have definitely gone down to a VERY limited use of screens in our home and may eventually even cut them out completely. And the best part? No one’s gone crazy!

Technology use has become second nature in our society today. We have smart TVs that give us access to an array of shows and movies. We have smart phones which for us, are our main use for information. It’s where we keep up with the weather, world news, and local news. A large part of my job in social media can be done on my phone as well.

I feel like many of us have become so desensitized to the amount of time we actually use our devices, and once I analyzed the chaos that it was causing in my home, it was a no brainer to begin the process of eliminating screens.

The chaos:

From the moment I opened my eyes, I was reaching for my phone without even giving it a second thought. I’d then make my way into the living room to have my quiet time before my toddler woke up, as soon as that was finished I noticed I’d reach right back to my phone again. Whether it was checking emails, reading blog posts, writing blog posts of my own or responding to comments, I noticed I was getting sucked back into my phone!

Then, my daughter would wake up. The first thing I’d do was turn on the TV to “distract” her so I could cook breakfast. Once breakfast was made we’d eat together, and she’d continue to watch her show while I’d mindlessly scroll on my phone.

Before I knew it, it was lunch time. No chores had been done, no one was really put together, and we’d done nothing productive all morning! I’d feel tired and groggy, and even grouchy. My toddler was throwing tantrums, acting out, being super clingy, and even a bit grouchy herself.

I was feeling overwhelmed, touched out, and anxious. Once I realized the cause of our issues was a lack of movement, lack of sensory stimulation, a lack of daily rhythm, and the over use of screens in our home I set out to take back control of the household.

How it all started:

You may be wondering….Uhm, how in the world did you end up like that? Well, I’ll tell you my sweet friends. For me, it started when I began taking my social media work seriously. My platforms quickly started growing and I started to feel immense pressure to “keep up”. Anytime I found a pocket of time, I was reaching for my phone to work. Not only that, our phones are a HUGE distraction and even temptation. My intentions were to work, but I’d often find myself mindlessly scrolling through my feed.

Then we move on to my toddlers love for her shows. It really took off when we started supporting a relative with virtual learning. Homeschool for us came to a pause, and one of the main ways I could get my toddler to give the kids doing virtual learning their space to complete their work was turning on the TV. That went on for about 6 weeks, and we unintentionally created a habit that we brought back home with us.

My conviction:

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

The more I walk on my journey with my faith, the more I’m aware of if what I’m doing is honoring or pleasing to God. And I can tell you, the lack of true family presence and order in my home was not pleasing to Him. For the record, we had mostly a happy home even with the screen issue. However our mental health was really being effected by technology and screens and I was not having it anymore!

I started asking myself questions. Was I truly training my child up in the way she should go? Was what I was doing encouraging my child to seek the Lord? Was I actively teaching her about Christ and how to be more Christ like? Were we conforming to the ways of world, doing and saying things like “well, there’s no escaping technology so might as well go with it”. Was I sticking to my values I set out to have on my platforms which were to share the Word, and to be an encouragement to other women and moms?

How we did it & what I’ve learned:

Now, I plan on writing an entire blog post with all of the intricate details on how we’re going about this process ; and also sharing some fun activities you can do together while using items you may already have at home. I can tell you, that it’s OK for your child to be bored. If you’re cooking, cleaning, or doing some sort of chore what’s worked best for us is either A) have them get involved or B) set them up with an activity.

During this process I’ve found taking a “redirecting” approach rather than an “authoritarian”approach was a lot more effective. I feel like we get much less pushback that way, and it doesn’t seem like anyone is “missing out” on the use of screens”

Another thing to consider is that you’ll have to work on your flexibility. Messes will be made, chores may not get done the way you’d like, and you may find yourself on the floor playing with play dough, paints, or toys. It can sound stressful, but perspective is key my friends. My priority lies in raising my child, not in how much laundry I can do that day. And to be quite honest, our home is much more in order this way. Surprising, I know!

Really pressing in on being involved with those little things and those sweet moments has truly been therapeutic. There’s just something about unplugging and really being present. At first, I thought I’d be drowning with stress and chores not being done. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the overall peace and calming that has come with this process.

The conclusion:

We still use screens and technology. They can definitely be a great resource when used correctly or when not over used. We usually use them when we’re doing car rider pickup for a relative of ours, and when I need to shower. Other than that, we pretty much are not on our devices.

The process of eliminating screens has created so much peace in our home. Our mornings feel slow and meaningful. We’ve developed an appreciation and gratitude for even the smallest of things. Our family unit feels close-nit, and our relationship with Christ is growing. My toddlers behavior has improved IMMENSELY! Her imagination exploded and her creativity is blooming! We began homeschooling again and she is just thriving and so excited to read stories, color, and do crafts. Overall we’ve felt the call to lead a more simple and humble life, getting back to the basics, and this has been a huge step in that direction.

I hope you’ve found some encouragement within this post today! If you’re deciding to start the process of eliminating screens in your home, share in the comments what it is that’s inspired you! Until next time. ✨

Blessings after loss, a Testimony of God’s Love.

It’s hard to believe 3 years ago we were going through all of this. 3 years ago we evacuated from a hurricane, having a 4 month old who was transitioning from pump to breast we knew we didn’t want to be in a situation where the power went out and our milk stash was compromised. So we headed out, few outfits for the weekend and some necessities, never did we imagine that we’d have nothing to come back to.

In that moment you feel like your entire world is crashing down. But in the midst of so much destruction I still felt like I had so much to be grateful for. I truly felt like these pictures were little messages from God, and I felt so much peace. He is so good my friends, and I’m so grateful for his guidance and all that we have today. ❤️🙏🏼 Matthew 6:26-33

From Facebook Memories: “A few days ago I met with a Fema inspector – it was the first time since we evacuated that I’ve been to the house – I was nervous, scared, emotional. The neighborhood looked like a ghost town, piles of debris everywhere, and it smelled so so so bad. We lost everything, and I was prepared to see the worst.
I walked up to the front door and saw a little Polaroid faced down outside and I flipped it over with my shoe. It was a picture i took of Johnny and Olivia when we got back from the hospital. It survived. I walked in and there were a few more scattered all around the house, they all survived! All of them being of Johnny, Olivia, and I.
It might not mean much to anyone but, we lost everything and these tiny little pictures survived. They were on the fridge that had knocked over because of the current from the flood, I thought they would’ve been ruined. Unfortunately i left them behind (because of the possible contamination from sewage) but something about seeing them almost in perfect condition made me feel a sense of peace. Those pictures are like our little family, strong and resilient, I KNOW we will continue to rise above and overcome. ❤️”

Every year since then, this memory pops up on Facebook, and every year I share it. No to get pity or sympathy, but as a testimony that God is always working and moving in our lives even if we don’t feel or see it. The years following this day we’re not easy. However, God has tremendously blessed us in so many ways following this event. And I truly credit our dedication to our faith and dedication to look towards Him for those blessings.

I felt like this memory couldn’t have come at a better time. I know that the uncertainty of this pandemic has affected many lives, financially and health wise. Many have lost their jobs, have been evicted, or don’t know how they’ll make their next bill payment. I hope this post inspires you to keep the faith, to trust in His ability, to be reminded that God will never leave your or forsake you.

Matthew 6:26-33 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” 💖