Baby Registry Checklist

It’s hard to know just what what to buy before baby gets here. So I’ve made it easy with a FREE downloadable Baby Registry Checklist.

Baby Registry Checklist

This post contains 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. Your support helps offset the costs incurred with this blog. See my full disclosure policy for more details.

Hey there girlfriend! Congratulations on getting prego! Having a baby can be very exciting, but it’s also overwhelming. It’s hard to know exactly when and how to get started.

Well, I have done a lot of the hard work for you. As a mama of two, I’m sharing easy baby registry checklist to help get you started. There are lots of things I could add to this list, but I kept it to the main essentials that you need.

When To Start Planning

Having a baby is expensive and it takes lots of preparation. My best advice is not to wait until the end. As a mommy of two preterm babies, you just never know when your baby will get here. My advice is to do a little every week. As you may already know, you feel so terrible in your first trimester so you may not feel well enough to start prepping for baby. In your last trimester, you will be very uncomfortable with every passing week. You probably won’t feel like setting up a nursery in the last month or two. Therefore, my advice is to do most of the work in your second trimester when you feel relatively good.

Tips

  • Ask close family to go in together on big gifts or compile gift cards
  • Consider buying unisex colored items for future children
  • Don’t add too many clothes to your registry. You won’t have to twist anyone’s arm to buy you lots of cute clothes, even if it’s not on the registry.
  • You may omit breastfeeding items if you are exclusively formula feeding. However, you may want to consider keeping bottle feeding items on your registry even if you’re breastfeeding. Pumping allows daddy and other family members to relieve you from nursing.
  • Don’t be afraid to register at as many stores as you want. Most stores offer a completion discount shortly after your shower date passes.
  • Your registry should include everything you need for the first year.
baby registry checklist

Where to Shop

Babies R Us, used to be the go-to place for baby registries. But with that gone, you may need to spread your registry over several stores. My favorites include:

Baby Registry Checklist

Feeding

  • Kid’s Utensils
  • Sippy Cups
  • Bottles
  • Sterilizer
  • Bottle Warmer
  • Breast Pump
  • Milk Storage Bags
  • Pacifiers
  • Nursing Pillow
  • Nursing pads
  • Plates
  • High Chair
  • Travel Highchair
  • Burp Cloths
  • Bibs
  • Bottle Drying Rack

Sleeping

  • White Noise Maker
  • Swaddles
  • Receiving Blankets
  • Stroller / Baby Blankets
  • Pack & Play / Play pen or Travel Crib
  • Baby monitor
  • Crib Mobile

Bedding

  • Bassinet
  • Fitted Crib Sheets (3)
  • Crib
  • Crib Mattress
  • Water proof Mattress cover

Other Nursery Items

  • Diaper pail
  • Diaper pail bags
  • Nightlight
  • Changing Table
  • Basket for Nursery Items
  • Changing pad
  • Nursery Rocking Chair or Glider
  • Changing pad covers (2-3)

Out of the House

  • Stroller
  • Car seat
  • Car mirror
  • Diaper bag
  • Car seat cover
  • Baby carrier

Bath, Health & Hygiene

  • Bath tub (with Newborn Insert)
  • Washcloths
  • Hooded Bath Towels
  • Bath Toys
  • Baby Toiletries
  • Faucet / Spout Cover
  • Bath Mat
  • Grooming Kit (nail clipper, file, brush, etc)
  • Medicine Dropper
  • Thermometer
  • Humidifer
  • Baby Vapo Rub
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Desitin or other Zinc Oxide Diaper Rash Cream
  • Infants Tylenol

Other

  • Teethers
  • Plush toys
  • Activity Gym
  • Swing
  • Jumper
  • Walker
  • Books
  • Rattles
  • Bouncer

Clothes (in every size)

  • Bodysuits (Onesis) (10-15)
  • Socks (7-10)
  • Newborn hats (2-3)
  • Sleep & Play (10)
  • Sweaters / Jackets (2-3)
  • Dressy Outfits (1-2)
  • Soft pants (10-15)

I hope you have a wonderful and safe pregnancy! In the comments below, I’d love to hear if you’re expecting a boy or a girl and what you are most excited about. Congratulations!

How To Get Housework Done With an Infant

If you’re a mama staring at the tornado that is your house and wondering how to get housework done with an infant, this post is for you.

how to get things done with an infant

When I first became a mom, I wondered, “how in the world do you get things done with an infant?” Girl, let me tell you – I’ve been there!

Friend, let me tell you… I was totally that struggling mom. I struggled to get even the smallest things done. The first six months was a blur. My dishes were piled up. Counters were dirty. Floors were filthy. Errands were neglected. Laundry was spilling over every hamper. I can tell you, you’ll find what works for you – every mother does. But if you’re a new mom and need some solid advice, I’m here to share what helped me.

These days, I have two kids and I’m proud to say I’m amazingly productive for having an infant and toddler who are constantly vomiting chaos wherever they go.


How to Get Housework Done With an Infant

Include Your Baby

One of the main reasons babies fuss while you’re trying to get things done is because they want your attention. You are your baby’s whole world. The sun rises and sets with you. He or she loves you more than anyone in the whole world, and therefore, they want your love and attention. Let’s be real – when we have a to-do list longer than the Great Wall of China, we don’t care about that! We just want a few minutes to get some things done! Ass you already know, babies don’t want to be ignored. They are living, loving creatures that want engagement and attention. So bring your baby with you. 

Your baby also loves to explore! As long as your baby is safe, give them nearby household objects to explore. Sometimes these are better than actual toys! When I do the dishes, I give my little one measuring cups, measuring spoons, a clean sponge, or a pot to bang on. Talk or sing to your little one. These are great teaching moments. Engage your little one by explaining what you are doing. 

If you are folding clothes, give them a colorful towel or one of their own clothes. Let them explore it. Play peek a boo when you grab a new piece of clothing. Tell him or her what color it is. Is it rough or soft? Cleaning a bathroom? Give them some bath squeeze toys or some toilet paper to tear up – just make sure they don’t eat it! The point is, that babies love inclusion and they have lots of fun when you engage them.

Be Realistic

So, I’m gonna share a deep secret. When I first had my son, my mom witnessed firsthand my total and complete frustration. She pulled me aside and gave me the best advice. Gone were the days when I could wash dishes in 20 mins and clean a bathroom in a half hour. Those days will return one day, but for now, things had changed.

My mom said, “you’re still trying to clean as if you don’t have kids. Things have changed. Once you let go of that expectation, you’ll be happier.” I don’t know why it finally clicked, but a light bulb went off. In all my stubbornness, I had refused to let go of pre-child expectations. I was clinging to old standards. My inflexibility was making me miserable. I had to learn to adjust and embrace my new life. This may not be an actual tip, but I can tell you – you’ll save yourself a lot of anger and disappointment if you learn to adjust to your new normal. Dishes take me nearly an hour and bathroom takes about 2. That’s my new normal.

baby playing

This post contains 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.

Use a Carrier

Sometimes, our sweet little ones just want to be in our arms and they don’t take no for an answer. When that happens, a baby carrier becomes your best friend! Most carriers adjust for baby wearing on your back or in front of you. Depending on the activity, one or the other may be better. Remember never to bend at the waist with your carrier. Babies can fall out even when they seem snug in a carrier.

Invest in a good carrier. I was frugal and bought an inexpensive carrier. When you have a newborn, all carriers seem comfortable. But as your baby gains weight, the quality of your carrier becomes really obvious. Learn from my mistake – buy a good quality carrier that is ergonomic and evenly distributes weight. Your back will thank you. I recommend the following:

Move Them Frequently

Babies get bored quickly. Naw, I never knew that! Haha. If you’re a mom, you’ve figured this out already. Babies and toddlers have a super short attention span. Working against it by insisting that your baby sit with the same basket of toys for an hour will be frustrating to you and baby. Instead, take a cue and change their scenery. If you’re working up high, put them in a high chair with some toys. Putting them at eye level helps to extend the time you can work with. Folding clothes? Sit on the floor with them. Fold one load in the washroom and do the second load in your bedroom. Sometimes babies just want a change of scenery.

Touch Them Often

Babies desire to be in your arms all the time. If it were up to them, you’d never put them down. Get what you can done. When they start to fuss, pick them up and reassure them, continue with your tasks one handed if you can, then after a few minutes, try putting them down again, this time in another place. Often, they just want reassurance. I’ve found you normally get more time by doing that. We forget about things like that when we are scrambling to get chores done.

I’ve also found if you frequently touch babies like stroking their face, brushing their hair, grabbing their hands and singing while you work – it helps them feel assured. I’ve found sitting babies in between your legs works wonders. They feel like they are on your lap and they can touch you when they want to. Babies just long to be physically close to you. Sometimes you just need to be creative about it while you’re working.

how to get things done with an infant

Break Up Tasks

One of the most helpful things I learned to do was to break up tasks. First, I use a planner. My Happy Planner really saved me when I first became a mom. Keeping a cleaning schedule really helped me. You can read about my planner journey in the post How Happy Planner Changed My Life. But I learned to prioritize my day with 3 things that needed to get done. Then, I would break it up into smaller tasks and work them around taking care of my baby.

For example, I’d start a load of laundry then feed and play with my baby. I’d make my bed. Then take my baby to change the laundry (yes, you do a lot of things with one hand). Then I’d fill up the sink with hot soap water so dishes could sit while I read a book to my little one. Work smart and work small! Learn to take advantage of small clumps of minutes. Over the day, things will get done.

Some people will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps. I always had a hard time with that because it was the only time I could get things done. It’s perfectly okay if you use nap time that way.

Hang in there, mama. This season won’t last forever. I hope I’ve provided some insight with how to get housework done with an infant. In the comments, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to hear what you are struggling with as a new mama. Trust me when I say, as your child grows things will get easier.

How to get housework done with an infant.

How To Handle Disappointment with God

how to handle disappointment with God

Disappointment in life can actually make you question God’s goodness. I have some words of encouragement and advice on how to handle disappointment with God.

Navigating Crisis

As I write this, I am in the midst of disappointment. Not only are we currently losing, but we didn’t get the job we desperately wanted. We wanted it so bad we could taste it and it seemed like the perfect fit. We prayed so much about it too. So at times of deep disappointment it’s natural for us to ask, “God, what are you doing?”

Our Response to Disappointment

Disappointment is always easy to explain away when it isn’t you. We’re quick to tell a friend that everything will work out. We use phrases like “it’s in God’s time” or “it just wasn’t in God’s plan.” It all sounds good when it isn’t us. But how do we handle disappointment with God when we don’t get our way?

Typically, with a knee jerk reaction. We may think God didn’t hear our prayers. Similarly, we may feel that our prayers don’t matter to God. We want to know why God didn’t give us what we asked for. The truth is sometimes we may never know, but more often than not, I’ve looked back at my life and have been grateful for many prayers that God didn’t answer my way. One thing I do know is that God always answers prayers. It just might not be the response we’re looking for. First, let’s take a look at God’s responses when the answer isn’t yes.

God’s Responses

No

  • Your request is sinful or may lead you into sin
  • It may not be good for you – regardless of it’s appearance

Wait

  • It may not be the right time
  • God is still moving the “chess pieces” and not yet finished with your story
  • He needs you to learn, grow, or do something first

I have something better

  • There is something better He wants to give you

I often equivocate God’s timing to a chess game. There are many moving pieces. There are obstacles. Each strategic move brings you closer to your goal. Sometimes it takes several moves to get into an advantageous position. When you don’t see your prayer being answered, you may wonder if God is moving at all. Throughout my life, I’ve learned that while I was waiting, God was busy moving all the pieces of my life for the best possible outcome to my prayer. When I didn’t see God moving – He was actually moving the most…behind the scenes.

How to Handle Disappointment with God

Stay Humble

Disappointment comes from an expectation not being met. Read that again. An expectation. Could it be we feel entitled?

The Story of Job

Let’s take a look at the book of Job. The devil requests to tempt Job and God sets the parameters. The first tragedies don’t cause Job to curse the Lord. Therefore, Satan tells God it’s only because he was not allowed to hurt Job directly. So again, God redraws the parameters saying Satan can hurt him, but can’t take his life. Consequently, he is tortured by sores and boils. Job wants answers. Chapter after chapter Job complains, grumbles, and accuses – demanding answers from the Lord. By chapter 38, God has had enough. THEN THE LORD SPOKE TO JOB OUT OF A STORM.”

God is angry and He has a question or two for Job.

“Where were you when I laid the Earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!” (Job 38: 4-5) God is making a point. You know nothing. I know everything. God continues for two chapters announcing His glory, then waits for Job’s reply. Job is speechless. “I am unworthy. How can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” (Job 40: 4)

Job has no answers. He’s been humbled and the best thing He can do in a moment like that is to put his hand over his mouth and shut up!

I’m not insisting we don’t grieve. Grieving is important to process loss. However, take a lesson instead from the Psalms. It’s okay to tell God your confused, disappointed, even angry. But those lamentations should immediately be followed by praise and vows of trust. Keep faith that God knows everything – including what is best for you and He hasn’t forgotten about your needs.

Stay Grateful

One of the best ways to ward off disappointment is to be grateful for what you already have. If you are complaining, you aren’t giving thanks. God has already given you many things and He has helped you thus far. As disappointed as you might be, try to focus on the blessings in your life.

Philippians 4:6

I know what I’m saying in this post isn’t vogue. Lots of modern churches would have you believe that God is chummy with you and they focus on messages of prosperity. But let’s take a lesson from Job. God is not a peer. He is holy (set apart) and we should practice reverence. Additionally, while occasional messages of prosperity are uplifting, it shouldn’t be our Christian focus. God is not a genie in a lamp here to grant us wishes. I just think sometimes we forget, He does not exist to do our bidding; we exist to do His. Be encouraged that God wants what is good for us (even if it isn’t what we think it is) and He will bless us. If you need proof of that, count your blessings.

Encourage Yourself in God’s Goodness

When we feel disappointed by God, you may question God’s goodness. In those dark moments, remind yourself of God’s character. This is how to handle disappointment with God.

Just

God is often described as just in scripture. I find amazing peace in knowing God is just! Not only is He just, but scripture says He “loves justice.” Justice is all about making what is wrong, right. No one can mistreat you, no one can take something away from you without God later making it right. He promises to payback what was wrong. Knowing this should curb feelings of disappointment or unfairness.

Merciful

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love,” (Micah 7:18) To be merciful is to extend grace when none is deserved. It means He pardons us, is slow to anger, and does not stay angry. Knowing that God is merciful tells us there are no grudges held against us. God is not spiteful. Take comfort that God is not “punishing you” by not answering your prayer the way you desire.

Holy / Righteous

To be holy literally translates to “separate.” God is separate from us in the sense that there is no evil in his character. Simply put, God is good…all the time. He is separated from sin and the sinful world. He does not participate in sin. Therefore, knowing that He has no evil in him tells us His intentions are good for us and we can trust him.

Compassionate

Have you ever wondered why Jesus came into this world as a baby? Why not come at the age of 30, just in time to start his ministry? Ask yourself, why put up with sickness, temptation, betrayals, and bad days? Why weep over the death of Lazarus when he knew he’d raise him from death only minutes later? So you would know He is compassionate. He understands your pain. God knows what troubles you. He’s been there. He sympathizes with your problems. Knowing that He is compassionate and that he has gone out of his way to show you, should bring you comfort.

Rich In Love

God’s character is loving. It’s a love we can’t even comprehend. But let’s start with the fact that He couldn’t be separated from us and therefore sent His son down to pay the price for our sin. (seeJohn 3:16)

Take a moment and read my earlier post Identity in Christ. Stop and see yourself through the eyes of God. Read what He has to say about you and how much He loves you. Once you remind yourself about how good God is and how much He loves you, it’s hard to feel disappointed for long.

Find the Fruit in Your Wilderness

For Christians there is purpose to our suffering. Everything, including our trials should bring us closer to God. How often do we become complacent when things are smooth and easy? Hardship reminds us we can’t stray too far from God because we need him.

Furthermore, everything is orchestrated to further God’s kingdom and proclaim His glory. If you remain steadfast and hope in the Lord during your troubles, you also become a witness for the Kingdom – a living example of the divine grace that passes all understanding. That strength in the time of adversity invites non-believers to desire the strength only God can provide and thereby the church.

Spread the gospel. When necessary, use words.

We are ambassadors of Christ. Remember…God is in the business of divine self-promotion.

Grateful For “Unanswered” Prayers

When I look back over the course of my life, I’m grateful for prayers to which God said no. Ultimately, what he gave me was far better. In fact, some things were so good, I never could have even imagined asking for it. Time and time again he has proven to me to just trust him and let him work out my problems for me. God’s ultimate solutions don’t disappoint.

If you feel this message has helped you, save it for later by bookmarking or pinning it. Share it with a friend who needs it. I pray the Holy Spirit speaks to you and comforts you.


If you are struggling with how to handle disappointment with God, leave a prayer request in the comments below. I’d love to pray for you.

The Next Chapter

Onto the Next Chapter

I’m back! I took a few days off from blogging to accompany my husband to Houston. He had another job interview there. We are praying we get it! It’s funny. Six months ago, I would have never entertained the idea of moving, but with so few job options here in San Antonio for an oil & gas based engineer, you have to go with the jobs are.

It’s strange. Our job was so secure. It’s a big lesson in how nothing is truly secure and the rug can be pulled out from under you at any minute. If anything this whole lesson has made me thankful. It’s hard to believe we will be losing a job, but in 14 weeks we become officially jobless. It’s scary. Especially when you have two babies and a sizable mortgage.

the next chapterLast month, we interviewed for another position. It was an amazing opportunity and it seemed like everything was falling into place. The interview seemed to go well. I mean, we were so confident, we didn’t even consider not getting the job. That’s how assured we felt. Well…we didn’t get the job and we’ve been trying to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps. It’s not as easy as I thought.

Ultimately, I gave it to God. I don’t know why it didn’t work out. I don’t understand what He’s doing with our future. But I do know that He is a good God and He has better plans for us than we could ever imagine. So, I’m giving God the ashes – the broken pieces, the remains. I believe that He will restore us and bring us out of this pit.

Time Away

Since my husband was interviewing for another job in Houston, we decided to turn it into a short family vacation. It was just a few days, but I think we needed some together time. It helps to step away from the worry and stress, even if it’s just for a weekend.

But this weekend marks a very special anniversary. You see, seven years ago, my husband and I started our whirlwind romance. I went down to seem him in Houston and we had a lovely date that basically lasted all weekend. We went to Moody Gardens, Kemah Boardwalk, and The Houston Museum of Natural History. Before we had kids, we would go back and relive our first date. As kids came, that became much harder. It was definitely different with kids in tow! For example, you can only really do one thing a day.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural History is one of our favorite museums. It has an IMAX theater, planetarium and collection of mollusks. Some of it’s permanent exhibits are amazing. There is a huge Hall of Paleontology featuring the evolution of early man and of course…dinosaurs! This is a must-see stop for any child. HMNS has a working Foucault pendulum that is over 60 feet long.

On the first floor, there is also a stunning collection of over 750 gems and minerals.  Let me tell you a secret – when Dan and I were there on our first date, we suddenly found ourselves alone in the Gem vault. There was only us and Cole Porter singing Night and Day. It would eventually become “our song.” The lyrics are even inscribed on my engagement ring. But that moment was our first dance and it was the first moment when I knew I’d found my husband. Magic doesn’t even come close to describing the moment.

dinosaur houston museum of natural science

The Hall of Ancient Egypt is amazing and of course, it’s complete with mummies, cartouches, and sarcophaguses (or is it sarcophagi?) On the lower level is a Chemistry Hall dedicated to the periodic table of elements and related subjects. There is also an Energy Hall. Houston is the perfect place to showcase how oil is sourced and how it is refined into many other products. In fact, there is one section dedicated solely to the Eagle Ford Shale asset which is where my husband currently works as an engineering manager.

Moody Gardens

Moody Gardens is a little gem in Galveston. Galveston is a coastal city about 45 minutes south of Houston. Moody Gardens is an educational tourist destination. It has a golf course, hotel and there is Schlitterbahn water park located on the premises. There is also nature conservatories including an aquarium and rainforest pyramid. They also have a 4D theater. The discovery pyramid has an amusement ride. There are also zip lines for the adventurer.

 

moody gardens

 

dan    Mary

Jack was so excited to see the penguins at the aquarium. He kept calling them Peso. Thanks Octonauts!

 

 Around the Bay

In between we spent the remainder of our time around the bay area (Kemah, Clear Lake, Friendswood, and League City). I swear, we ate too much rich food. We ate so much that I was ready for a salad when we got home. I just wanted veggies! Cheesecake Factory, Yardhouse. So much has changed around Baybrook Mall. This was Dan’s old neighborhood. It’s changed so much in seven years.

Alas, we made it home in time for Easter Sunday, but we were so exhausted. Traveling with two kids under the age of three isn’t for wimps!

 

yardhouse

 

dan and tristan

Onto the next chapter…

8 Ways To Menu Plan With Happy Planner

Girl, Happy Planner makes menu planning fun. At the very least, you won’t mind doing it! Today I’m going to show you 8 Ways to Menu Plan with Happy Planner. You can thank me later.

8 ways to menu plan with happy planner

This post contains 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. Your support helps me offset the costs incurred with this blog. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Hey there and welcome! Today we’re going to talk about menu planning. No wait, don’t go! I have good news. Happy Planner makes it fun. If you don’t know about Happy Planner, make sure you read my post How Happy Planner Changed My Life.

Now we aren’t going to get into how to create menu plans, as in how to choose which meals to rotate. I actually discuss that in another post. If you haven’t read my post, Easy Menu Planning, go read it. Go on, we’ll wait for you.

Today we’re just going to chat about how to record your menu plans. So I’m going to show you 8 ways to menu plan with your Happy Planner.

Ways to Menu Plan With Happy Planner

Menu Planner Half Sheets

Okay, you may even wonder why I bring this up. Chances are if you’ve been using Happy Planner ®, you’ve been using these forever. Well, I’m sharing it because there are still a bunch of newbs out there! Every day, Happy Planner converts more people into the obsessive, creative planning world. That’s right, come to the dark side…we have stickers! God knows I have converted more than 30 friends and acquaintances.

In all seriousness though, I’m writing this first idea for the planner newbie who isn’t sure about the basics. Happy Planner actually makes half sheets that are specifically for meal planning. On one side are the days of the week. The reverse side has a grocery list. Super. Easy.

Whether you are doing a online grocery order or heading out to a bricks and mortar store, this will save you time. A piece of advice: splurge on the Food Value Sticker Book. It will make menu planning extra fun!

ways to menu plan with happy planner

The Weekly Spread

This is probably one of the more popular ways. This is how I used to record my meal plans until I was more selective about my weekly planner space. It doesn’t matter what layout you have, there are stickers for every need and every space. Can I get a Hallelujah?!

Also, don’t rule out the power of the dash board. I love using it to write sticky notes to myself. Additionally, the Happy Planner came out with a meal planning coordinating pack and clear stamps.

Menu Plan Weekly Spread

Household Extension Pack

Back in the old days, one of the first extension packs was the Household Extension packs. I loved it and helped me keep my chores done so I could sip wine and have a bubble bath instead of folding clothes at the end of the day. #WINNING

Then, like always Happy Planner outdesigned themselves and came out with an updated version of the Household Extension Pack.

It includes:

  • Chores
  • Menu Planning
  • Budget
  • Projects

On the front you have all seven days of the week with a side-by-side grocery list. On the back, the grocery list continues as well as a planning section for snacks and quick bites. It also includes an area for meal prep or for a recipe. I love this section for writing down recipes so I don’t have to search for it on Pinterest when I’m trying to make it on a school night.

Menu Planning extension pack

Monthly Spread

Wait…the monthly spread? Hear me out, girl. I know planning a month at a time scares the bejeezus out of you. Let me tell you, you can actually save money by doing so. You can include staples over the month so things like Costco and Sam’s Club make sense. You can plan to actually use leftovers. I know what you’re thinking. What if my plans change?

Monthly spread menu planning

If you’re really freaked out by planning so far in advance, don’t. You can fill it in a week at a time. Also, don’t forget about those super cute Happy Planner post-its. Like the ones you’ve been stashing away in your craft cart? Come on, girl. Use them! Post its are great for things that you don’t want to memorialize (e.g. like concrete) in your planner. If plans change you can easily move it to another day. Also, if plans fall through completely, simply throw it away and you haven’t lost any prime real estate on your planner. I always use post its for plans that are tentative. You’re welcome.

Daily Half Sheets

My next suggestion is to use any weekly half sheet. What?? Like the ones that just have the days of the week on them? Yup, those! They can capture any schedule you choose, including your dining schedule! Again, it’s up to you if you plan on capturing all three meals or just dinner plans.

Below, is a picture of one of my actual menu schedules. As you can see, it’s very easy to use. Just don’t judge me for having Tuna on Rye twice. I love it.

Menu Planning with Daily Schedule

Sidebar

One of the simplest, yet best features in a Happy Planner is the sidebar. The sidebar can be used for so many things, but personally, I love using it for lists. Enter…menu planning. That’s right, girl. Just go ahead and park that sweet little menu plan in that parking spot. It makes it easy to refer to it all week! In fact, some value sticker books have heading stickers and list style sidebar stickers. However, the Household value sticker book contains weekly menu plan stickers that fit perfectly in the sidebar.

Menu plan sidebar

Fitness or Wellness Planner

Both the fitness and wellness planner can also be used to track menus. In fact, if you’re dieting, it really does help to write down what you eat because it makes you conscious of what you put in your mouth. Take it from someone who once lost 183 pounds.

There are two fitness planners: the classic fitness and Healthy Hero. Both allow for tracking meals. One thing I started doing this year, was merging my fitness into my wellness planner. If you aren’t familiar with the wellness planner, it’s a planner that focuses more on your body, mind, and soul as opposed to just your body or fitness. But you can certainly adapt it to include your menu or dieting plan.

Ways to Menu Plan with Happy Planner
Menu Planning with the Wellness Planner

Dry Erase Boards

Okay, now for the pièce de résistance…dry erase boards. Dry erase boards made their appearance with the late year / New year release. The dry erase boards were part of the Super Mom, Socialite, Faith Warrior, and Healthy Hero product lines.

I would make one small caution. The dry erase can sometimes smudge off if you are opening and closing your planner a lot. I don’t have that problem because I keep it open all the time on my desk or counter. However, if this becomes a problem for you, simply use wet erase and the problem is solved. I’ve put some of my favorite dry erase and wet erase supplies below.

ways to menu plan with happy planner

There you go, 8 ways to menu plan with Happy Planner! I hope I’ve made this humdrum chore a little easier!

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Broccoli Slaw

This yummy blend of shredded broccoli, carrots and red cabbage is a new take on an old favorite. Learn how to make zesty, crunchy, Broccoli Slaw.

Broccoli Slaw

This post, Broccoli Slaw, may contain affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, a may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. I only link to things I love.

Yummy coleslaw! Who doesn’t love it? Well… me! Yup, you read that right. I was never a huge fan of it. As I’ve grown older, I certainly like it more than I used to.

But it’s a staple in the summer. You’ll find it at every BBQ and summer picnic or potluck. I don’t know if it’s regional, but here in the South, you’ll also find it often paired with fried catfish and other seafood.

Broccoli Slaw Ingredients

The Slaw

I’m a cheater! It’s true. I cheat a little with this recipe. My local store already has the basic broccoli slaw starter. It comes in a 14 oz bag and all you have to do is mix in your dressing. If you aren’t as lucky as me you’ll have to shred the raw broccoli, carrots and red cabbage.

That being said, I make my own dressing and it’s super easy. Honestly, I can’t believe they actually sell bottled coleslaw dressing. Because this whole salad takes less than five minutes to whip up if you already have the vegetables shredded.

The Dressing

Traditionally, coleslaw dressing is made up of white vinegar, lemon juice and granulated sugar mixed with mayonnaise . I hate vinegar, with balsamic as the exception. So I did a slightly different take. After all, I’m Hispanic, so I tend to cook with lime juice. That’s what makes this recipe different. I mix fresh cilantro with lime juice. I cut the sugar down by half the amount so it is more zesty than sweet. Then I add mayo and stir to a perfect creaminess!

Broccoli Slaw

Try this new take on an old favorite. This new recipe substitutes cabbage for broccoli and adds zesty lime juice and fresh cilantro.
Course: Salad
Keyword: broccoli, cabbage, coleslaw, lime juice, mayonnaise, picnic, potluck, salad, summer
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup Lime Juice
  • ½ Cup Fresh Cilantro Shredded
  • 12-14 oz Broccoli Slaw Prepackaged
  • 1 Cup Mayo
  • 1 Tbsp White Sugar
  • Pepper To taste

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl add the broccoli slaw. 
  • Mix sugar in lime juice, then pour over broccoli slaw and toss well
  • Mix in shredded cilantro and toss well
  • Add mayonnaise and fold in until fully combined.
  • Add light pepper if desired.
Broccoli Slaw

I hope you’ve enjoyed the recipe, Broccoli Slaw. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!

How To Make A War Binder

Maybe you’ve watched the hit Christian movie “War Room” based on the book “Fervent.” Today, I’m going to show you how to make a war binder – a mini war room from which to pray.

how to make a war binder
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What is a War Binder

Hey friend. If you are here, you may be wondering, “what is a war binder and how do I make one?” Well, I’m here to tell you all about it. A war binder is a book, notebook, binder, or journal that you keep to use in prayer. It may contain your bible study, devotionals, prayer lists, inspirational quotes, bible memory verses, drawings and other artistic compositions, and any other thing you might want to add to it. The beauty of it is that it is very personal and yours to completely build.

The term “war binder” was inspired by the best-selling Christian book, Fervent. The movie War Room was later inspired by it. The book is about spiritual warfare. It suggests that when we enter into pray, we should think about it with a warrior mindset and be aware that we are fighting a very real enemy. In the movie War Room, the story follows a woman who literally fashions a room in her house to resemble a military war room. Instead of monitors, her walls contains photos and petitions of the people she prays for her. Instead of a cabinet of advisors, she has her bible and prayer books.

For those of us who can’t dedicate an entire room to our house as a war room, a “war binder” becomes our best option.

Supplies

  • Travelers Notebooks
  • A Traveler Notebook Cover
  • Art Supplies (stickers, markers, highlighters, etc)
  • Washi Tape
  • Pens

A travelers notebook is a long notebook. It is typically a thin book and contains blank, lined, graph, or dot grid pages. A travelers notebook cover is just a cover designed to hold anywhere from one to six notebooks. Inside the cover are bands that hold the books in place like a spine. Travelers notebook covers can be found at Michaels craft store. However, I wanted something more personal. So I had someone make one for me on Etsy. It has a sewn cover and I chose an anchor theme because of all the sea and water references in scripture, but you choose whatever resonates with you. I’ve provided a few links below, but you can find them at other places both online and at craft stores.

Alternatively, you can use a Faith edition Happy Planner. The Happy Planner is a type of planner that is totally customizable. Its made for decorating and they have a Faith inspired edition that lends itself very well for a war binder. You can find faith Happy Planners at Hobby Lobby and on The Happy Planner site.

War Binder
Elastic bands hold the books in place
how to make a war binder

War Binder Subjects

Honestly, this is totally up to you. This is how you personalize it and make it your own. Your war binder should reflect your personal relationship with Christ. But to give you idea of what sections you can create, I’m going to show you what I do. Hopefully it will spark your creativity. I have six books:

  • Scripture (memory verses, important scriptures, devotionals)
  • Prayer & Gratitude (prayer lists, answered prayers, blessings)
  • Book Notes
  • Bible Study
  • Sermon Notes
  • Miscellaneous (anything that doesn’t fit in the above categories)
How to Make a War Binder

The inside pages are where the magic happens. The photo below is a page from my Book Notes notebook. I’m always reading and it’s here that I write down the main takeaways. You decorate it as little or as much as you want. Don’t worry if you aren’t artistic, there are lots of ways to fake that (more on that in a minute). I got these notebooks from May Designs.

Book Notes

Book Notes
Use stickers and washi tape to decorate pages

Sermon Notes

As you can see below, I’ve written down my sermon notes. These are really helpful as I try to implement what I learned on Sunday, throughout the week. Personally, I like to scribble notes in church and then come home and organize my thoughts in the war binder. Remember, no one is going to see your war binder unless you want them to. Make sure to make it your own instead of copying others. Making a war binder is all about inspiration.

Sermon Notes

Scripture

My scripture notebook is where I keep memory verses I want to remember. I turn to these during rough times or during my prayer for praise. Personally, I prefer to decorate the pages with something the scripture inspires within me. I did this page with colored pencils, but you can use any art supplies you want to decorate your pages, if that’s the way you want your war binder to look. Remember this is YOUR war binder. It doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.

If you aren’t artistic there are other options. You can decorate with stickers and washi tape. Illustrated faith has lots of accessories like stickers and die cuts for those who don’t want to draw or need inspiration to get started. Washi tape is a Japanese masking tape. It is very colorful and comes in a variety of patters, colors and widths. It can immediately brighten up a page. Use it for creating borders and columns. You can cut it into shapes, ribbons and flags. Get creative!

Scripture

Prayer & Gratitude

In my prayer book, I have my gratitude on the opposite prayer page. Some people dedicate a separate book for gratitude. It’s up to you. Personally, I love writing down my blessings and answered prayers in my war binder and thanking God for them before I ask for more. Again, do what feels comfortable to you. I love writing down answered prayers. When I feel like God isn’t moving in my life, I open this up and look at all He has given me and how he has answered me so many times before. If you aren’t sure where to begin, read my Gratitude Journal Prompts.

Prayer & gratitude
Prayer & gratitude

Miscellaneous

Finally, I keep a miscellaneous notebook for anything that doesn’t quite fit in some of my other notebooks. These might include prayer cards that someone gives me, devotionals, book lists and other types of things.

War Binder Support

Lastly, if you need additional inspiration, Facebook is a great place to look. The main war binder group has over 35,000 members. There is also a sister prayer group and pen pal group.

In closing, I hope I’ve help you get started with your war binder. I’d love to hear what you put in yours in the comments below.

Gratitude Journal Prompts

Get your mind off your problems and on the good things happening in your life with these gratitude journal prompts.

Gratitude Journal Prompts

This post contains 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. Your support helps me offset the costs incurred with this blog.

Why Gratitude

Gratitude can totally change your perspective on life. Being mindful about the good things in your life help you focus on happier things instead of problems. The truth is everyone has problems and we face one problem after another. If you’re waiting for your problems to go away before you can be happy, you’ll be waiting your whole life.

Choose to be happy where you are, right now. There is always something for which to be grateful. Keeping a gratitude journal has show in studies to directly impact our happiness.

If you’re interested in additional journaling ideas, see my post 50 Journal Prompts. Here are just some of the benefits to keeping a gratitude journal.

  • Brings a feeling of calm
  • Helps relieve stress
  • Takes the focus off your negative problems
  • Helps you find what matters most to you
  • Learn more about yourself
  • Aids with depression
  • Makes you more mindful
  • Notice that small good things really are happening in your life

Today, I’m providing a list of gratitude journal prompts to help get you started.

Gratitude Journal Prompts
Courtesy of Unsplash

Gratitude Journal Prompts

  1. What are you grateful for financially?
  2. List things that have helped you get through hard times.
  3. What are you glad your parents taught you?
  4. Name 3 things you’re glad you learned in school.
  5. Describe a time you thought something wouldn’t work out, but did.
  6. List 3 things you love most about each of your children.
  7. Name a physical feature you love about yourself.
  8. What do you love most about your job? (If you’re at home, what do you love most about it?)
  9. If you could go back and thank someone from your past, who would it be and why?
  10. What do you love most about your spouse?
  11. Name something hard that ended up being good for you.
  12. For what talents are you most grateful?
  13. What has been your best experience this year?
  14. Describe a time you were grateful to be forgiven.
  15. List 5 things you love most about your personality.
  16. What do you think friends love most about you?
  17. Name 10 people you are grateful for.
  18. What was the best part of your day today?
  19. Write the last compliment you remember receiving.
  20. List things that make you feel comforted.
  21. Why are you grateful for your freedom?
  22. Which of the 5 senses are you most grateful to have?
  23. Describe a memory from your childhood that makes you happy.
  24. List ten things you take for granted.
  25. Why are you grateful for your family?

I hope these prompts help you realize you have reasons to be happy and content. In the comments below, I’d love to hear some of the things you are grateful for.

Goat Cheese Fondue

Goat Cheese Fondue is full of Mediterranean flavors like warm, bubbling goat cheese, fresh Rosemary, tomatoes, olive oil and Kalamata olives.

Goat Cheese Fondue

This post, Goat Cheese Fondue, contains 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.

I love fondue! I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a big bubbling pot of melted cheese? My husband and I make fondue at home quite a bit. Honestly, it’s a great date night at home if you can’t go out. We’ve got little ones and so it’s really rare if we get a date night out. We’re taking anniversaries only. So when the kids are in bed, we’ll often create a special evening together and that is where the magic of fondue happens!

This is a great appetizer, even for a weeknight meal or an intimate dinner party. I’m surprised at how much this upscale, yet easy appetizer wows dinner guests. As soon as you pair these ingredients together, people automatically feel like it’s a fancy dish.

Making Goat Cheese Fondue

I love traditional fondue (Swiss & fontina cheese and white wine), but recently, I decided to do a different take on the Swiss classic. This recipe combines a several Mediterranean flavors. Goat cheese, also called Chèvre is combined with Kalamata olives, fresh rosemary, tomatoes and extra-virgin olive oil. The flavor is like fireworks on your tongue. Seriously, it’s delicious. And best of all, you don’t need a fondue pot!

I love serving this dish with grilled baguette! To make it, just purchase a baguette from your local grocery store. After cutting into slices, brush extra-virgin olive oil on both sides of the bread. I use a cast iron grill pan, but any grill pan will work just fine. On medium heat, toast each side for 5 minutes or until grill lines appear.

Goat Cheese Fondue

I highly recommend serving this dish while still piping hot. Once, out of oven the cheese will start to solidify again as it cools down. After experimenting with the recipe, I don’t recommend adding wine or anything else to the cheese. I found the consistency isn’t good otherwise. So keep it simple and just melt the cheese as-is.

Goat Cheese Fondue

This delicious new take on fondue fuses Mediterranean flavors like Goat Cheese, Kalamata Olives, Fresh Rosemary, Olive Oil and Sweet Tomatoes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Appetizer
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3-4 Small Sweet Tomatoes
  • 4 Oz Goat Cheese
  • 1 Tsp Fresh Rosemary
  • 6-8 Kalamata Olives Pitted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • In a small dish, place goat cheese and place in the over for 5-10 mins until softened. 
  • While in the oven, pit olives (if not pre-pitted) and separate rosemary from stem.
  • Once goat cheese is semi soft take out of oven and spread the cheese to fully cover the bottom of the dish. 
  • Sprinkle fresh rosemary. Add 3-4 tomatoes and add olives
  • Turn broiler on low and place cheese in oven
  • Melt under broiler for approximately 5 mins. Pay close attention to the cheese as things can burn quickly under the broiler. 
  • Once melted, remove from oven. Drizzle olive oil on the top. Best served with warm bread.
Goat Cheese Fondue

I hope you love this appetizer as much as I do. I think it will become one of your favorites! If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think of it below in the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more easy recipes!

10 Things You Dont Know About Me

I’ve shared some deeply personal things on My Beautiful Mess. I’ve opened up about my bipolar illness, postpartum depression, even our journey with my son’s clubfoot. However, I thought it would be great for my readers to learn more about me. People that know me well, probably know these facts already. But for those who don’t, I’m going to share 10 things you don’t know about me.

1. I Was On TV

About a decade ago, I was working part time as an actress and model. I did some local theater and some low budget movies from local filmmakers. However, for a few years I worked as a specialty extra for NBC’s Friday Night Lights. If you squint really hard, you might see an out of focus side line reporter at one of the overnight football games – that was me. I was also an extra in NBA player Tony Parker’s music video Balance Toi. I did some commercials and some local modeling. It sounds glamorous, but it isn’t. It’s lots of standing around and repetition. It was fun though. I met some great people and made some extra cash.

Mary Lentz

2. I Was Married Before

This is harder to write about than I thought. I was married briefly in my early 20’s. I had met him in England and lived abroad for a number of years. We married on my 20th birthday (forever changing how I feel about my birthday). Looking back, I feel fairly certain he never really loved me. The relationship felt very one-sided. Ultimately, the marriage ended when he had an affair with another married woman. It was incredibly painful and it took me nearly a decade to recover from the rejection and hurt. Today, I’m married to a man so good, it feels like a fairytale. At the time, I felt like my life had ended. If only I knew the amazing man that was waiting for me ten years later.

3. I’m an Accomplished Artist

When I was living in Europe, I was a artist-in-residence. I worked as a full-time artist, curated works within the gallery and experimented in many different mediums. I had previously shown my work at galleries. In fact, at the age of 13, a figurative cubist piece I did was prominently displayed in an Indiana library. My favorite genres are cubism (both figurative and abstract), expressionism, and colorist work. I prefer working in oils or mixed media. But I’ve worked in just about every medium except for marble. These days, I sell things here on the blog and on my Etsy shop. It’s a great way to get out my artistic yearning. Your purchases help support the costs incurred with running this blog, so thank you!

4. I’ve Written For Years

Gee, where do I start? The first time I was published I was about 12 or 13. My poetry was published in a national chapbook of poetry. Over my teenage years, I wrote for lots of small media outlets and small press publications. In my twenties, I continued to write as a freelance writer and I was also the editor-in-chief of my own magazine, SWAG (Southwest Actors Guild). I started this blog when I first got married, but never really took it seriously. I can’t tell you how much I regret that decision. When I think of where I could be today if I had just kept going, I could slap myself. Take a lesson from my life – don’t wait for tomorrow.

5. I’m a Perfectionist

Hi, I’m Mary and I’m a perfectionist! It’s true. I have a deeply rooted problem with perfectionism. Perfectionism is a sign that you are out of control on this inside, so therefore you have the need to control external circumstances. However, perfectionism and control are just an illusion. The truth is, no one is ever in control. I have a bad habit of getting my self worth from accomplishments. As a second child, I always felt overshadowed by my older brother. In fact, as a child, I only remember receiving positive attention when I had accomplished something good. I became addicted to praise. I needed it in order to feel loved. The bad part is that we can start applying perfectionism to other people. I’m working on my perfectionism. I’ve not arrived, but I’m a work in progress.

6. I Love Horror

It’s true. Now, this isn’t to be confused with a love of the occult. I’m opposed to that. However, I do love a good horror movie for fun, in particular ghosts and supernatural stuff. But I also love some good zombie flicks. I know, I’m weird. But I get weirder. I also love true crime. I love to watch Investigation Discovery channel. You can keep your CSI shows! I love watching true crime shows. Everyone knows about my love for Joe Kenda! My husband affectionately calls it “Murder Porn” because most of the shows are about murder and it’s so addictive to watch. I know, it’s terrible. Don’t care.

7. I’m Obsessed With Happy Planner

I don’t care how ridiculous it sounds, but I have an obsession with Happy Planner ®. If you haven’t heard about how much I love it, you need to read the post, How Happy Planner Changed My Life. You might say I’m addicted. I’m embarrassed to say this isn’t even my whole stash. I use one to run this blog, one for fitness / wellness. I have one I use as my regular daily planner and teacher planner for my homeschooling. I don’t always have time for artwork, so being able to decorate my planners, really helps get out my desire to be artistic.

Happy Planner

8. I Once Lost 183 Pounds

Early in my 20’s I was over 300 pounds. After my first husband left me, I was determined to get the weight off. I did Weight Watchers and it took me 18 months to get from 325 to 140 lbs. I kept it off for eight years without gaining. But I started to regain weight after 2014. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve regained a lot of the weight back. In fact, I feel a lot of judgement from people because of it. I’m utterly disappointed in myself and for the last few years I have felt completely defeated by it. But since I did it once, I remind myself I can do it again.

9. I Was Born With My Hip Dislocated

As strange as that sounds, it it’s true. When I was born my hip was out of the socket. So for the first year of my life I wore a harness. My parents jokingly called it my “parachute” because that is what it looked like. It was a fabric brace that held up my leg into the socket and was leveraged by shoulder straps, hence the parachute look. It didn’t stop me from walking or crawling. I was walking by the age of one. But the really odd thing is that it is hereditary. My dad was also born with his hip dislocated! True story.

10. I Was An Insurance Professional

I worked for 15 years in the insurance industry. I held a variety of jobs within the same insurance company. However, I worked the longest as a property adjuster. Obviously, people close to me know this. But I handled large property claims like fire and water damage. It was a very demanding job. It had long hours, coupled almost impossible deadlines. Additionally, the job was naturally combative and argumentative. Hurting people lash out and hate insurance companies. The job was so stressful at one point, I had a full-on nervous breakdown. They called me the human dumpster because I would fix the awful claims that had gone sideways. I was planning to quit after giving birth. But a manager insisted I work a fire while I was pregnant, so I ended up quitting before I expected. Let me tell you, I don’t miss that job one bit.

Your Story

Someone once told me, “your life sounds so exciting, it makes mine feel boring.” I was never sure how to answer something like that. First, it’s a compliment wrapped in an insult. I don’t see my life as exciting. I’ve just decided to try passions of mine and see if it leads to something.

Let’s be clear. No one’s life is boring. Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes you are up and other days you are down and out. The truth is my life has been filled with depression, suicide attempts and hardship. Everyone’s life is a unique story and one that deserves to be told.

Never compare your life to someone else’s. We’re all on our own path, trying to do our best and figure out life. Jealousy is hatred and love at the same time. Don’t worry about people who aren’t happy with you. They likely aren’t happy with themselves either. Go out and be the person you were made to be!

In the comments below, I’d love to hear an interesting fact about your life.