Italian Cracker Snack Mix

You’ve found a yummy, savory, super easy appetizer and snack. Try this three ingredient Italian Cracker Snack Mix.

Italian Cracker Snack Mix

Have I got one of the easiest recipes for you. Like so easy that there isn’t even any actual cooking involved. Can I get a Hallelujah?

I love this recipe because there are only three ingredients involved. I love to whip this up for a salty, savory snack. This is great for parties and get togethers. They’re great for guests to munch on while other food is coming. Additionally, I love making this and wrapping it up in cello bags for neighbors, teachers, and other people as a simple gift or in a gift basket with other goodies.

Making Italian Cracker Snack Mix

So as I mentioned, this is just three ingredients: olive oil, an italian season ing / dressing spice packet, and crackers. However, I do love to add a forth ingredient: crushed red pepper flakes. I like mine to have a little bit of spice, but that is totally up to you.

Italian Cracker Snack Mix

I’ve tried it with both regular saltines and mini ones and I have to tell you – the mini saltines win hands down. They are so good!

I’ve seen some versions call for a full cup of olive oil, but honestly I think it makes the crackers too greasy. I recommend starting with a half cup. You’ll gently stir and fold the crackers into the oil-spice mixture. The crackers should be fully coated. You can always add more oil if you feel its too dry. I recommend storing it in an air tight container overnight to let the spices fully meld. I find it is freshest in the air tight container for up to two weeks. By the way, you can also try this recipe with a Ranch seasoning packet.

Cracker mixture

Italian Cracker Snack Mix

Turn ordinary saltines into a yummy, savory, Italian spiced snack mix.
Cook Time5 mins
Resting time12 hrs
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: 3 ingredient appetizer, appetizer, crackers, italian, saltimes, snack mix

Ingredients

  • ½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Box Mini Saltine Crackers (11 oz)
  • 1 Packet Italian Dressing Seasoning (perferably Good Seasons)

Instructions

  • Add olive oil into a medium sized bowl.
  • Add spice packet and stir well into olive oil.
  • Pour entire box of crackers into the bowl and gently fold until all the oil is absorbed and crackers are completely coated.
  • If desired, add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.
Crackers
Crackers

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Don’t forget to see my other easy recipes like Parmesan Arugula Salad and Goat Cheese Fondue.

Decisions, Sacrifice, and Jobs

Did you miss me? I took two weeks away from writing on this blog to catch up on some much needed rest. I’m guessing most of you didn’t even realize I was gone! That’s okay. I needed a break. If you’ve been following along, you know my husband recently left his job of seven years. They closed his field office here in San Antonio and we’ve been job hunting for eight months. Let me tell you, the process has been stressful.

There have been tears, prayers (e.g. begging and bargaining with God) and dashed hopes. There was several highly desirable jobs we wanted, but didn’t get. There were several jobs we were offered but the pay and circumstances were just plain deflating. I had naysayers and critics who thought we were fools for waiting (and for turning down perfectly good jobs). I had friends who were always reaching out and praying over us. I can’t express my gratitude enough for the support. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster!

We Finally Have a Job

We were really hoping to get a job with a local refinery here. We’ve tried every way to make that work, but they just weren’t fully sold on hiring my perfectly-qualified husband for the senior manger role he desired. Alas, we have an offer that gives us a huge pay bump. There is just one catch… it’s in Austin.

First, let me start off by saying that I am completely and deeply grateful for this opportunity. God has opened some huge doors here and he has blessed us exponentially in this situation. However, Austin was never on the map for us and we are shocked by the housing market there. Let’s just say, San Antonio is far more affordable. So much so, we are considering commuting from San Antonio instead of moving.

Moving

We love our house and we are so happy here with what we have. We are still early in our house search, but we’ve yet to find anything that is even remotely comparable for the price.

If we stay, as I anticipate we will, it will come with immense sacrifice. It will mean a ninety minute commute each way for my husband, but he’ll have every other Friday off. It means we can stay close to our family and don’t have to leave the church family we love dearly. It means we don’t have to uproot our children from their home.

My oldest son is so reliant upon routine and structure. It brings him so much security. He loves his room and his house. His memories are here. Our memories are here. We built this beautiful house ourselves. I love it so much, it would probably take something immensely better for me to consider giving it up. So far, I haven’t seen it – at least not without spending unGodly amounts of money.

We’re going to see how this works out. Thankfully, we don’t have to make a decision on moving immediately. We have some time to let this play out. if the commute becomes too big of a burden, we’ll seriously consider moving.

A Big Thank You

From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who has prayed over us in this hard season. There are some (you know who you are) that reached out every couple of weeks and let me cry on your shoulder. Others gave me hope when I was clean out of it! I won’t forget that. I know our actions confused a lot of people – especially when we said “no” to certain jobs, but thank the Lord we were never in a desperate position. We could afford to wait for the right opportunity and God has come through. It may not be exactly how we expected (it rarely is), but we’re certain God had a hand in all of it.

Plans For the Future

With Dan’s long commute, it means longer hours – and that equates to even longer days as a stay-at-home-mom. May I be honest? I’ve been struggling the last twelve months as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve felt lonely, bored, and disinterested. I wasn’t always like that. I was very happy for a long time because I was a part of a mom’s group. It felt like a big family. But I rarely participate in that group anymore. First, some friends have moved on as their children have grown. Secondly, the group has a very different vibe these days. Then a falling out with a “friend” left me feeling uncomfortable about returning and participating. I’ve tried out a few other different groups, but never felt chemistry. I’m very conflicted about where to go from here. I’m not sure where my place is or where God is guiding me. I do know that I need to find a my new mom tribe! I’m just not sure who or what that is.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we enter the new season God has for us.

Scripture Reading: Courage

Courage is faith in action. We are called to step out in faith, regardless of opposition. Please join me for August Scripture Reading: Courage.

scripture reading courage
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash by Guillaume Briard

I need courage. I’m terrified at failing at this blog. Deep down, I wonder if I’m tough enough to handle all the crazy curveballs parenthood throws. Did I ever mention that my marriage to Dan is actually my second marriage? Yup, my first marriage failed after he left me for another woman. I get sick to my stomach if I entertain the possibility of this one ever failing. Here is another big secret – I’m in the market for new mom tribe, but too scared to actually go out and make friends. Right now, my husband is unemployed and I don’t work. God has promised us a job and we are trusting in him to provide. I need courage.

Don’t we all need a little courage? We all have things that we either too scared to set out and do or situations that leave us cowered in a corner. We need courage. Well, we’re blessed because Christ provides it. The bible is full of examples of courage.

Joshua & Caleb

One of my favorite stories about courage in the bible is about Joshua and Caleb, two of the twelve spies sent to scout the promise land. Here we find the people of Israel, they’ve been led out of Egypt and finally they found themselves at the threshold of their new home. The spies came back with a report and proof of plentifulness of the land. “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is the fruit.” There was just one catch. The current inhabitants were formidable and giant. “We were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so were in their sight.”

That was all the people of Israel needed to hear. They immediately became despondent and began to whine and complain. After all they had suffered they were overwhelmed by the thought of having another obstacle in front of them. Even though God had promised to give them the land and victory, the Israelites began to rebel. Only Joshua and Caleb remained faithful – and God was watching.

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors.

God ordered that all the non-believers over the age of twenty to remain in the wilderness. Those over twenty, along with Joshua and Caleb were permitted to enter. The disobedience of the Israelites cost them their promised land.

Choose Courage

I like to think of courage as the physical manifestation of faith. In other words, courage is faith in action. Throughout scripture God encourages us to “fear not” and ” be courageous.” He tells us “do not be discouraged.” Courage is how we obey those commands. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is feeling fear and doing it anyway.

Faith is a choice. We choose to either take God at his word or disbelieve him. God never lies. So when he says he will not leave or forsake us, we can count on that. If he promises a victory, he will ensure a win. When he promises to provide, we won’t go hungry.

Peter and John

After the death of Christ, the apostles continued performing miracles in the name of Jesus. John and Peter are subsequently arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, the very council of holy men responsible for crucifying Christ. First they are interrogated. Then the Sanhedrin forbade them from healing in the name of Jesus Christ. In holy courage, Peter and John stand up against the council and stand in faith refusing to stop. The Sanhedrin, faced with the healed man and a growing crowd of support for Peter and John, agree to release the apostles. As a Christian, you can expect to be told to stay silent or reject the teachings of Christ.

Of all heroes in scripture, I find Paul the most inspiring. Paul faced numerous threats of imprisonment (Acts 20:23, 21:11) and death (Acts 20:3, 23:12-14) and refused to yield. In fact, Paul wrote about half the New Testament imprisoned, surrounded by a sewer. During his imprisonment he even dared to evangelize to his captors (Acts 23:1-10, 24:21-26, 26:32, 28:30-31). Regardless of circumstances, he reminds us we are “more than conquerors.” This kind of steadfast courage is not generated by the flesh, but rather manifested by the Holy Spirit.

Pray everyday for God to bless you with holy courage.

Courage & Conviction

Don’t think that persecution was only in the time of Christ. Christians today are facing immense opposition. The world (society at large) will always try to promote and normalize sin. Christians should not only remain obedient to God’s word, but to continue to speak light into the world. However, this is both unwelcome and unpopular. Christians can expect to ridiculed, humiliated, ostracized, and mocked for our beliefs. In these moments, we will have to find holy courage to remain convicted. Jesus told us that most of the world is fleshly and on a path to destruction. Doing the right thing is a lonely road. Most of the world, won’t agree with you.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

When we endure humiliation or persecution for His sake, we should remember that we have the great reward of heaven. Earthly persecution is temporary.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:10

Scripture Reading: Courage

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Radiate Positivity Plan With Me

The Happy Planner has a new summer release coming to Michaels stores this summer. Let me show you how to use in this Radiate Positivity Plan With Me.

radiate positivity plan with me

Hey friend and welcome back! I love it when the Happy Planner comes out with new accessories. This summer, we’ve had so much Happy hit stores. First we had the Back to School release with both student and teacher planners and accessories. Then we had a whole new summer release of an all new Color Story as well as two main themes Radiate Positivity and Womankind.

Today, I’m doing an all new Plan With Me with a new sticker book, Radiate Positivity. Me and My Big Ideas (MAMBI) surprised us this summer with an all new release of planner accessories exclusively to Michaels stores.

Also, if you haven’t seen it they’ve also come out with these awesome Block Paper Pads (9.99). They are classic sized and ready to tear off and punch for your planner. All the block paper pads come with 100 sheets!

Supplies

You can purchase it at Michaels Stores or on the MAMBI shop. Michaels runs regular sales, but remember you can always get 40% off one regular price item by using the Michaels app.

Here is flip through of the value pack sticker book before we get started.

Radiate Positivity Plan With Me

Why tell when you can show? Here is how I used to two books in my vertical weekly spread of my classic Happy Planner ®.

Subscribe & Pin

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Journal Prompts for Self-Confidence

If you’re struggling from with your self-esteem I’d love for you to try journaling to work out some of those tough feelings. Join me for journal prompts for self-confidence.

journal prompts for self confidence

Some links within may be affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. See my full disclosure for details.

Building Self-Confidence

Self-confidence is all about trusting yourself. Trusting your abilities, your talents, and your capabilities are what makes for a self-confident person.

Maybe you had someone in your life that has torn down your self-confidence. I find this is always done with criticism and judgement. Maybe you had an overly critical parent or boss. Perhaps a disapproving mother-in-law made you question your parenting skills. Maybe an envious friend or sibling made you feel bad for…well…just being you! We all have people in our life, who either intentionally or unintentionally pull on the fragile thread of our self-confidence. Tug hard enough and it can unravel us.

That said, just because someone else says it doesn’t mean there is any truth to it. In fact, I’ve found most criticism comes from a place of jealousy and the other person’s insecurity. A big part of building self-confidence is simply not giving a %&#@ about other people’s opinions. If you were to gather 15 or twenty friends, family and acquaintances you would likely also find the same number of different reputations with each of them. People will form opinions and impressions of you and most of the time, their opinions matter little.

Focus on Your Strengths

A lack of self-confidence or self-esteem happens when the perception of ourself becomes unbalanced. We begin to focus or believe judgement, criticism and negative perceptions about ourself – and we become what we believe.

Now honestly, I am the worst at shaking off criticism. Like, really bad at it! In fact, it’s one reason why I held back from starting this blog for years. Not everyone is going to like what I write and I wasn’t sure I couldn’t handle that.

But a year ago, someone really tore into me. Like told me off in a way that really destroyed my self-confidence. It made me ashamed of my gifts and talents. Quite frankly, it made me hate myself. But we need to learn where that kind of criticism comes from. Most importantly, we can’t allow that to be our focus. Even if there is some truth to what is said, we have to focus on our strengths and keep our head up. That’s why I picked up this blog again after so many years of neglecting it. Someone called me a know-it-all and that’s fine. I’m going to turn that around and use it for good. Focus on your strengths, not where you lack.

Be Kind To Yourself

I remember when I went to psychotherapy early in my twenties. My therapist pointed out a perpetual bad habit of mine – being unkind to myself. In my case, it was lots of negative self-talk. I’m going to be very candid now because I want you to know, that I’m a living, breathing, incredibly flawed person. I don’t have it all together! To show you what I mean, here are a few things I have said to myself:

  • “See? This is why no one likes you.”
  • “You’re just going to fail. You should just give up.”
  • ”If you don’t hope for anything, you can’t be disappointed.”
  • ”No one loves you.”
  • ”You’re a terrible mother.”
  • ”Nothing good happens to you.”
  • “You’re fat and unattractive.”
  • “Nobody cares about your blog or what you have to say.”
  • “People think you’re lazy and sloppy because you’re overweight.”

Terrible, right? I’ve said things to myself I would never say to another person. Many of us do. It becomes a habit we desperately need to break. It starts by affirming yourself every day. Be kind to yourself. It’s okay if you don’t believe it at first. Just start by saying kind things to yourself. Treat yourself as you would a good friend.

Self-confidence

Today, I’ll be sharing journal prompts for self-confidence. I truly hope they help you work out some tough feelings and foster a kinder relationship with yourself.

Journal Prompts for Self-Confidence

  • What’s the last compliment someone paid you?
  • For what do you want to be remembered?
  • List three physical features you love about ourself.
  • How would you describe yourself to someone who has never met you?
  • How do you want to inspire others?
  • List three of life’s passions.
  • What flaw will you work on this year?
  • Write 12 positive affirmations to yourself.
  • List 10 things you love about your life right now.
  • Why do you think your best friend is friends with you?
  • What scares you most about failure?
  • What would happen if you were to fail?
  • Who builds you up the most and what do they say to you?
  • Describe an event where your strength surprised you.
  • What did you do best in school?
  • What were / are you great at in a professional setting?
  • Describe something you do better than most people.
  • How have you shown courage recently?
  • Why do you get down on yourself?
  • What do you need to leave in the past?
  • If someone in your past wrecked your self-confidence, what would you say to them now?
  • How will you stop negative self-talk?
  • What failures keep you from living life to the fullest and how can you move past it?
  • How do you typically respond to setbacks and what can you do better?
  • What would happen if you stopped caring about what people thought?
  • How you unkind to yourself?
  • What beliefs about yourself limit your potential?
  • Write a pep talk to yourself.
  • Name five unwavering life principles.
  • What negative thing do you repeatedly say to yourself and why do you think you say it?
  • About what are you most insecure?
  • Where do you struggle ask for help? Why?
  • What criticism hurts you the most?
  • Make a list of things you’ve accomplished in your life.
  • What is you dream in life? (Be honest. There is no one here.)

Don’t Forget to Subscribe

Thank you for reading Journal Prompts for Self-Confidence. In addition, if you’re interested in more journal prompts, see my other posts Gratitude Journal Prompts and 50 Journal Prompts.

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Printable Back to School Signs

School time is upon us! Memorialize you child’s first day of school with these cute printable back to school signs.

Back to School Signs

Wow! Can you believe we are in August? It’s hard to believe that summer vacation is coming to an end and our little ones are going to heading back to school. I’ll be honest. We didn’t do much this summer. It was just so hot here in Texas. Also, with all the uncertainty we had with our job loss and moving life just kind of got put on hold.

We are homeschooling this year and I can’t wait to start preschool with my little guy. I know most kids are heading back to school in August and what better way to start than to memorialize their first day of school.

Printable Back to School Signs

That’s why I created some printable back to school signs. I’ve made one from tot school (2-3 years), preschool, kindergarten, and from first to eighth grade. I’ve also included a “Back to School” signs that don’t include grade years. These are great if you don’t want to disclose which grade your child is in or if you want your non school age children to participate with their siblings in the photos.

You can get all 12 signs for just $5.

You can purchase it through my Etsy shop or through my shop here on the blog. All you have to do is print them out one your home computer or at a print shop and have your child hold the sign while you snap some photos. The signs are sized for 8.5 x 11.”

Purchase Your Printable Back to School Signs Here

Follow the link to my Etsy Shop

Before You Go

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How To Make a 72 Hour Bug Out Bag

Be prepared for natural disasters and emergencies. Learn how to make a 72 hour bug out bag.

A 72 hour bug out bag

Growing up in Texas, we live with tropical storms, hurricanes and tornadoes every year. In fact, when hurricane Harvey came through, lots of friends mine were nervous about it. Growing up around them, I was quite used to it – plus, I’m well prepared. That got me thinking, maybe I could help others have peace of mind, by showing you how to make a 72 hour bug out bag.

A 72 Hour Bug Out Bag

A bug out bag is a backpack or some other portable bag that you take with you in the event you need to leave your house in an emergency. Conversely, you may be isolated into one safe area of your house. During hurricane Harvey, for instance, many people sought refuge on their second floor when the entire downstairs was flooded. The reality is it might be days before help comes or waters recede. In many cases, windstorms produce flooding which in turn can contaminate local water supplies.

Believe me. I worked as an insurance adjuster for 12 years. Everyday I helped people recover from cataclysmic disasters. Some families go a week or more without electricity. It isn’t just homes that are affected, it’s business too. When I worked hurricane Katrina, even gas stations and grocery stores were destroyed. Credit card machines and everything electronic didn’t work. So whether it be to retreat somewhere in your house or if you have to leave, a bug out bag will help you survive. You should have an emergency bug out bag for every person in your home.

What to Put In Your Bag

Medical Supplies

  • First aid kit
  • Mini Bottles of Alcohol (high proof)
  • Anti-bac
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent

Food & Hydration

  • Collapsible Camp stove
  • Fuel Tablets
  • Dehydrated / non-perishable food for 72 hours (per person)
  • Water
  • Collapsible cup
  • Water purification tablets
  • Fishing line and hook

Shelter

  • Tarp
  • Zip ties
  • Emergency Mylar blankets
  • Paracord
  • Twine or rope
  • Emergency rain poncho
  • Bungee cords

Heat Sources / Other

  • Flashlight
  • Latex gloves
  • Clothes pins
  • Laundry soap (Fels Naptha)
  • Compass
  • Hand/foot warmers
  • Dust mask (N95)
  • Tissue or toilet paper
  • Playing cards (to pass the time)
  • Candles
  • Knife
  • Scissors
  • Signal mirror
  • Flint fire starter
  • Glow sticks
  • Duct tape
  • Work gloves
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Travel size toothpaste
  • Whistle
  • Waterproof matches

Here is a look inside a few things that are in my bag.

72 hour bug out back
72 hour bug out bag

Usage of Supplies

Basic survival consists of shelter from the elements, food, water, and medicine.

Many supplies serve several purposes. Liquor, for example can be a disinfectant for supplies, even for wounds. It can be used as a mouth wash (it kills bacteria), to destroy mold, even as a fire starter. If you blend it with an oil it can even be used as a bug and insect repellent. Of course, it can also be used a pain reliever. You want to aim for the highest proof possible, like vodka. Mini liquor bottles are ideal.

A bandana can be used to wash yourself or your dishes. Cut into ribbons, you can mark your trail. Additionally, you can use it as a makeshift tourniquet, napkin, pot holder, a pouch, sunblock, sling, filter, firearm cleaner, makeshift toilet paper, dust mask, etc. You can really get creative with your supplies in an emergency situation.

Storage

I recommend storing some of your supplies in waterproof and ziplock bags. Not only do they protect your equipment, but the bag itself is a tool. You want to store your bag at room temperature.

Water Storage

When it comes to water and food, it has to be stored properly. For instance, food that you buy at the grocery store is designed for short life shelf storage. Normally with in a few months, even many dry goods will expire. Even drinking water needs to be safely stored for long term storage. Examples:

For your bug out bag (portable) things like the Lifestraw or long term water pouches.

food storage

Food Storage

I recommend buying your emergency food from places like Auguson Farms, My Patriot Supply, Legacy Food Storage, Wise Food Storage. Most of the foods are designed for 20-30 year storage, light in weight and only require water to hydrate and cook.

Even Wal-mart online has emergency food storage. For instance, you can buy this 30 Day Food Storage Supply and divide it among the bug out bags for your family.

I hope you never encounter an emergency situation, but I can assure you that being prepared gives you a lot of peace of mind. If you enjoyed this blog post, please subscribe to my blog for future updates and freebies. Thanks for reading!

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How to Care For Cast Iron

Afraid of using cast iron? Here is a simple way to wash, season and care for your cast iron at home.

How to care for cast iron
Courtesy of Unsplash

I was always intimidated to use cast iron even though it is probably the least sophisticated of all cookware. When I was about twenty, I bought a cast iron skillet and rusted it out after just a few weeks of cooking. I had no idea how to care for it. So I shrieked back from every using it. That is until about eight years later when I discovered that scratch cooking on cast iron is amazing!

Cast Iron is the work horse of all kitchen tools. It never breaks down. It can take a beating and it can cook everything. Iron is an amazing conductor of heat and evenly distributes it around the pan.

Tried and Tested

It is the first of it’s kind when it comes to non-stick cookware. In fact, England has been using cast iron cookware since the late 600’s and it predates that time in Asia, particularly in the Orient.

Cast iron cookery comes in just about every vessel you can think of. Waffle makers, panini presses, Dutch ovens, woks, deep fryers, skillets, and grills. It’s extremely versatile. I love my Dutch oven. You can use it for soups and stews and even go from stovetop to oven (be careful, it’s heavy and hot) and it can double as an oven and slow cooker. I’ve even made bread, cake, and cobblers in my Dutch oven. Going camping? Use your cast iron cookware by putting it strait on the hot coals.

Teflon came into use in the 1940’s and over the next couple of decades cast iron slowly lost it’s appeal because of the convenience of Teflon. There is a lot of question as to how safe Teflon is, but most agree that it is non-toxic under 500 degrees F. That means that Teflon is potentially toxic for certain oils like avocado oil and safflower oil.

How To Care For Cast Iron

How to Wash Cast Iron

Cast iron should never be washed like other dishes. First, lets start with the basics. Iron can actually rust naturally in the air without ever applying water. That’s why it’s necessary to protect it carefully.

Wash your pan using warm water and rough scrubber. Add kosher salt to help with stuck on food.

cast iron
Courtesy of Unsplash

How to Season Cast Iron

You may have heard the term “seasoning” before when it comes to cast iron. No this doesn’t mean spices. Haha. It refers to the process in which you protect your iron from rust and create a non-stick surface.

How To Season Cast Iron

  1. Wash Your Cast Iron

    Use steel wool and warm water (not hot) and wash the oil excess oils away.

  2. Dry your pan

    Wipe your iron dry and put on the stove to remove and remaining water. Once done, let your pan cool down.

  3. Oven

    Place an oven liner or tin foil on the lower rack to catch drips. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

  4. Oil Your Pan

    Apply a thin coat of oil to your pan. Rub excess off with a soft cloth.

  5. Bake Your Cast Iron

    Place your cast iron in the oven upside down so any excess oil drips off the pan. Cure your pan for an hour in the oven. Take care removing from the oven, remember, its heavy and hot! Let cool to room temperature and store.

Pro Tip: If your iron is sticky, it is from excess oil that did not finishing seasoning when it was heated.

Before You Go

Take a look at some of my recipes!

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My 100th Blog Post

Time flies! Let me reminisce, share my thankfulness, dreams for the future, and ways you can continue to support me. Here is what I have to say on my 100th blog post.

my 100th blog post
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

My 100th Blog Post

Wow! I can’t believe this is my 100th blog post. Let me tell you, this is huge! I originally started this blog in 2013, but only committed to it last October. So to be here with 100 quality posts means I’m actually doing this blogging thing! It’s been rough at times. There have been hiccups, website bugs (%$&@#!) , and setbacks but I’m still here and still writing. I’m still loving every minute of this.

I’ve written about some really tough subjects like miscarriage, our son’s clubfoot, job loss, and marital boundaries. You’ve put up with my crazy love for all things Happy Planner. Hopefully…I’ve helped you with cleaning, wellness & self-care, and home organization. Maybe I’ve even given you some mouth-watering recipes to try. The last nine months has been so much fun and it is a privilege not just to write to you, but for you to read it!

A Heartfelt Thank You

First, I want to take a moment and thank everyone who has supported me and my blog. The first thanks goes to my husband, Dan. He encourages me on days where I feel like I’m failing at this and he gives me the time and space to write. Thanks babe. I couldn’t do this without you.

Secondly, a special thank you to you reading this. When I started this blog about nine months ago, I had no idea how to start or how to do this. Every time you like a photo, click on a link, or read a post, I’m sincerely grateful and humbled. Your comments mean a lot to me. In fact, they keep me going. There are so many days when I think I should quit this. Then one of you will say how much you love reading this blog and it re-energizes my passion. YOU make all this possible. Every time you read or share my post, you help me live out my dream of being a writer. Thank you.

Lastly, I want to thank the other women who courageously shared their inspirational stories in guests posts. Koral Dawn from the Unsanity Blog, Jessica Schweikardt from Forever and Evie, Kira McCloskey – you ladies are awesome. Thank you so much for contributing your talents to my blog. If there is something you’d like to share with others, but don’t have a platform, I’d love to hear from you. You don’t have to be a writer, you just have to be sincere. If there is something you want to share with my audience, please contact me about how we can get your story posted here on My Beautiful Mess.

How To Support Me

Let me absolutely clear. You don’t have to spend a single penny to support someone with a blog (although it’s awesome if you do).

One of the best things you can do to show your support is simply share my post on your social media. It doesn’t cost you a dime and yet it creates a ripple effect of help for me. Every time you share a post, whether it be pinned to Pinterest, on Twitter or on Facebook, my post gets shared with a whole new audience. It takes you a second, but it helps me for months.

Finally, please e-mail subscribe to my blog. It costs you nothing. First, it lets me know you are reading this. Second, it helps me deliver unique, more personalized content to you. It automatically enters you in giveaways and you get subscriber-only content. Lastly, it helps me financially support my family, yet doesn’t cost you a penny. Having subscribers gives me greater opportunities as an online influencer.

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All 100 Posts

I did all the hard work and compiled a list of all the posts I’ve done since October 2018. I hope you enjoy reading them.

  1. She Does Him Good: 31 Days of Praying for Your Husband
  2. Christmas at Our House
  3. Hoecakes: A Revolutionary War Recipe
  4. Scripture Reading: Jealousy & Comparison
  5. Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole
  6. Debunking Myths About Homeschooling
  7. Mini Chocolate Fudge Tarts
  8. Rich Fudgy Scratch Brownies
  9. Trusting God in Tough Times
  10. Easy Cheap Date Nights at Home
  11. Mermaid Vibes: Plan With Me
  12. Why We Homeschool
  13. Scripture Reading: Faith
  14. Happy Planner Password Log
  15. How to Use the Wellness Happy Planner
  16. Creamy Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas
  17. The Ultimate Summer Bucket List
  18. Happy Planner , Jobs and Hope
  19. The Ugly Side of Blogging
  20. Super Easy Mother’s Day Greeting Card
  21. 5 Things I Want for Mother’s Day
  22. Biblical Baby Boy Names
  23. Scripture Reading: When Too Be Quiet
  24. Baby Registry Checklist
  25. How to Get Housework Done With an Infant
  26. How to Handle Disappointment With God
  27. The Next Chapter
  28. 8 Ways to Menu Plan With Happy Planner
  29. Broccoli Slaw
  30. How to Make a War Binder
  31. Gratitude Journal Prompts
  32. Goat Cheese Fondue
  33. 10 Things You Don’t Know About Me
  34. Scripture Reading: Depression & Grief
  35. Cajun Bean Soup
  36. 10 Books to Read as a New Mom
  37. The Ultimate Spring Bucket List
  38. 5 Tips to Survive NICU
  39. 21 Bloggers to Help You Slay Motherhood
  40. 7 Things About Bipolar I want People to Know
  41. Banana Vanilla Wafer Pudding
  42. What I’ve Learned in 4 Months of Blogging
  43. Dear Mama Who’s Struggling
  44. Easy Menu Planning
  45. Monterrey Jack Pimento Cheese
  46. Scripture Reading:Anxiety & Fear
  47. How Happy Planner Changed My Life
  48. 25 Questions to Reconnect With Your Spouse
  49. Dear Husband, I Need to Thank You
  50. 30 Day Spring Cleaning Challenge
  51. How to Improve Your Toddler’s Speech Delay
  52. Gestational Diabetes Tracker
  53. Surviving Miscarriage
  54. How to Choose Job Interview Accessories
  55. Covering Our Kids in Prayer
  56. Dog & Cat Valentine’s Toppers
  57. 20 Valentine’s Day Gifts for Him
  58. Romantic Valentine’s Day Playlist
  59. Scripture Reading: Love & Kindness
  60. What No One Tells You About Postpartum Depression
  61. Classic Rock Mornings
  62. Parmesan Arugula Salad
  63. 8 Places to Cash In Clutter
  64. 50 Journal Prompts
  65. Tomato & Cucumber Salad
  66. How To Make A Clubfoot Bar Cover
  67. 10 Books That Will Strengthen Your Marriage
  68. Roasted Root Medley
  69. 50 Things to Throw Away Right Now
  70. Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Pennies
  71. Scripture Reading: Identity in Christ
  72. 100 Goal Ideas for the New Year
  73. Shrimp & Crawfish Étouffée
  74. How to Create a Guest Room They Won’t Want to Leave
  75. Soap Christmas Gift Tags for Teachers & Neighbors
  76. Magic Painting Christmas Cards
  77. DIY Christmas Swag
  78. 10 Sanity Saving Products For Your Reflux Baby
  79. Retro Sequin Ball Ornaments
  80. Hot Chocolate Bar
  81. The Best Crockpot Hot Chocolate
  82. The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List
  83. Perfect Spanish Rice
  84. Setting Healthy Boundaries in Your Marriage
  85. Christmas Planner Printable
  86. How to Stay Sane as a Stay At Home Mom
  87. Zuppa Toscana
  88. Slowcooker Pumpkin Spice Latte
  89. 30 Day Facebook Detox
  90. Living Without Likes: How I Broke Up With Facebook
  91. 30 Day Wellness Challenge
  92. 5 Steps to Decluttering Books
  93. The Best Fall Bucket List
  94. The Ultimate Halloween Party Playlist
  95. White Chocolate Raspberry Muffins
  96. From One Clubfoot Mommy to Another
  97. Resetting Your Day As a Mom
  98. Homemade Christmas Ornaments
  99. 12 Tips for Happy Planner Newbies

Thanks for joining me for my 100th blog post. Thanks for your support.

12 Tips For Happy Planner Newbies

So you bought your first decorative planner! If you are new to the decorative planning world, I’m proving 12 tips for Happy planner newbies.

12 Tips for Happy Planner Newbies

12 Tips for happy planner newbies

Make It Your Own

There are no “rules” when it comes to using your planner. These days there are literally hundreds of Facebook groups and thousands of Instagram feeds with beautifully curated spreads. Ultimately, your planner should reflect you and your personality. It should be functional and actually help you get organized. It’s okay if your handwriting is terrible or if things are crossed out or highlighted. Your planner is yours and no one else’s! Don’t copy or compare yourself. Find your own planner “voice.”

Start Slowly

Confession time: I own every sticker book made by The Happy Planner ®. In fact, I even have duplicates. But then, I’ve been a Happy Planner since 2015. I’ve had a long time to acquire them. When you first get your planner it’s tempting to go a little overboard and buy every sticker book and accessory on the market. But I can tell you, it gets overwhelming for a lot of newbies. Most sticker books have around 1,000 stickers in them. Some people are overwhelmed by spending time flipping around sticker books looking for that one sticker they want. Start slowly. Buy two or three sticker books to start with. You can build your collection slowly (if you choose) over time.

Find Planner Peace

With the October release last year, I was so excited to get the Super Mom planner. After all, I’m a stay-at-home-mom, right? I should rock this thing! Until then, I had always used a vertical planner. This planner was a dashboard layout, meaning it grouped tasks into categories for you like errands, shopping lists, phone calls, etc. Four months into it and I couldn’t make it work. I struggled to decorate it. Then I suddenly realized I needed things by the day, not by the task. I went back to my vertical planner. The one that was tried and true. My point is, don’t be afraid to change what’s not working for you. Don’t hold onto it because you spent money or invested time into it. If something is stopping you from enjoying your planner or staying organized, switch things up. Find what works for you.

Decorating on a Budget

No one says you have to fill up your page with stickers. Some people use washi tape, highlighters, and markers to decorate. Washi tape is a Japanese masking tape. It’s colorful, but it’s also very inexpensive for how much you get on a roll. It comes in all different thickness and some even come with foiled metallic designs or glitter. This makes it a very inexpensive decorating option. When first buying washi tape, I recommend starting with basic colors. The Happy Planner has their own washi tape which coordinates well with a lot of their stickers. But Michaels, Joann, and Hobby Lobby all sell tubes and single rolls of washi tape.

Washi tape
Photo by Mary Lentz

Decorating Ahead

I love to decorate 3-4 weeks ahead. I basically plan for the current month. This is easy to do since my life is very routine oriented. But for some people, they’re a little fearful about planning in advance. Others like to stay within the current week because their decorating corresponds with their current mood. That’s fine. As I said earlier, your planner is yours. However, your planner is also supposed to be functional. One thing that helped me, is using sticky notes as placeholders for future events. If you are worried about plans changing between now and a future event, sticky notes are a great solution. If something changes, you can easily remove or adjust without losing any real estate on your planner.

Scheduling Planner Time

Using a planner is about creating a habit. For people who have never used a planner before, it might be hard to remember to open it up. I recommend scheduling time to plan. For me, I make time on the weekend, typically on a Sunday. I sit down decorate and go over all my goals, appointments and tasks I need to get done. I found I have to prioritize planner time. That sounds silly, doesn’t it, but it’s true. Making time to plan has to be just as important as an appointment or anything else I have to remember. I’ve also found that it helps to keep it open on my workspace. For me as a stay-at-home mom, it’s my kitchen. I keep it open on the counter and refer back to it all day long to make sure I accomplish things.

I Bought A New Planner But I Can’t Use it Yet

So perhaps you purchased a planner, but it doesn’t begin until July or January. Fear not, if this is a classic planner, you can buy a monthly extension pack to start right away. The extension pack is available in the classic vertical and in the hourly formats. The pack comes with six months of undated sheets (date stickers included).

Do I Need More Than One Planner

Technically, no you don’t. The beauty of the Happy Planner is that you can do everything from one planner. Wellness, fitness, budgeting, faith (bible study) can all be done from your planner by using stickers as your guide. However, there are definitely people, myself included that prefer more in-depth planner help.

For example, I own a Wellness planner. I really needed some self-care after giving birth to my son. I use it to schedule me time, things that bring me joy, and even use it as a journal to pen thoughts and work through emotions. If you want a look on how to use it, see my post How to Use the Wellness Happy Planner. Truth be told, I own 5 planners that I use on a regular basis. (One to run this blog, my everyday, my teacher planner, my wellness and my faith planner which I use for bible study.) Other people want a large focus on fitness or budgeting. If that’s the case, there are options for you, but it certainly isn’t necessary.

Wellness planner

Dashboards

I’m a little surprised by this one, but I often hear, “what are dashboards and how do I use them? Dashboards are effectively bookmarks. They are placeholders you can use to easily flip to your monthly or weekly spread. One thing, I also like to use it for is sticky notes! I love to place sticky notes on them as little reminders for things that don’t actually need to go in my planner. I know some people use it as a dry erase board. The choice is yours.

Dry Erase Boards

Which leads us to the next topic. Over the last year, the Happy Planner (MAMBI) has come out with dry erase inserts. Lots of people love the idea. I picked up as many as I could find. However, after they first came out with it, people complained that the dry erase smudged from opening and closing the planner. I highly recommend using wet erase markers like Vis-a-Vis.

New Releases

I always get asked, “when does Happy Planner come out with new product?” The Happy Planner actually has a pretty easy schedule to follow. The new year for Happy Planner actually begins in the fall, normally October. This is when the Happy Planners for the upcoming year start hitting store shelves. In the Spring, often around March or April, there is another release of sticker books, accessories and 18-month planners. These planners begin in July and continue from January to December of the next year. Later in the summer, the Teacher and Student planners and accessories are released. In between the seasonal releases, Happy Planner has started to release few other limited edition releases such as the Be Happy Box.

Planner spread

What Is the Happy Planner Squad

The Happy Planner Squad is a group of Happy Planner enthusiasts (fans like you and me). Using their Instagram accounts, they promote Happy Planner products by illustrating their designs and ways they use Happy Planner in their every day life. These ambassadors are hand selected by the MAMBI (Me and My Big Ideas – makers of the Happy Planner) team. Once a year, they accept submissions and the rules and guidelines will be on the Happy Planner site. All are encouraged to apply, but competition is fierce. Currently, the ambassadorship commitment is one calendar year.

Before You Go

Don’t forget to PIN this post, 12 Planner Tips for Happy Planner Newbies, for later or share it with a fellow newbie. Also, don’t forget to check out my other Happy Planner posts:

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