Thursday, September 29, 2011

The ABC’s of Me

I’ve been reading a lot of ABC posts recently and they are so cute! I love learning more about some of my favorite bloggers! I may be the last one on the ABC train, but since I’m still fairly new to the bloggy blog world and I have a lot of new followers, {welcome!}, I thought an ABC post would be a fun way to share some tidbits about me too!

I chose this picture to start off my post because I think it captures my personality. I’m friendly {see big smile that is always on my face}, I love hanging out and doing fun things with friends {note blurry people in background} but sometimes I feel kinda shy and awkward. {Note gangly body and awkward pose.}


Although, perhaps the awkward pose can be attributed to the bowling ball. After all, my bowling score usually equals my age, at best, and this is how I bowl:


This picture also means I’m not afraid to embarrass myself in public. And sometimes in public, this  fun includes my kids. {And friends! Can you ‘spy’ us in this picture?}:


But most of the time we’re just your typical, run of the mill, family:


Most of the time. :)

So, without further ado – here are the ABC’s of Me!

A. Age: 34

B. Bed size: Twin. {I know. My space saving plan turned into the “what was I thinking? plan” Changing this answer as soon as I can.}

C. Chore you dislike: DISHES. Even with a dishwasher.

D. Dogs: One little Terrier/Morkie mix named Lucy!

E. Essential start to your day: Coffee. {Love my Keurig!}

F. Favorite colors: Red & Pink

G. Gold or silver: Silver

H. Height: 5’7’’

I. Instruments you play(ed): Piano

J. Job title: Single mama, English Teacher, Piano Teacher, Writer, Blogger

K. Kids: 2 boys

L. Live: Orange County

M. Mom’s name: Nancy

N. Nicknames: Re, Re-Re, Reannah Banana

O. Overnight hospital stays other than delivering a baby: None, thank goodness! {Knocks on wood}

P. Pet peeves: Poor grammar. Bad manners. People who litter. Wearing wet socks.

Q. Quote from a movie: ELF: “You sit on a throne of lies! You stink. You smell like beef and cheese, you don’t smell like Santa!”
“Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?”
“I'm singing/I'm in a store/and I'm siiiiiingiiiiing!/I'm in a store/and I'm siiiiiingiiiiing!” {I can’t wait until Christmas!}

R. Righty or lefty: Righty

S. Siblings: 2 sisters – one older, one younger.

T. Time you wake up: 6:30am on weekdays and whenever the kids wake me up on weekends.

U. Unusual thing about you: If you ever see my Starbucks cup, it probably does NOT have my real name on it. Since no coffee shop ever spells my real name right, I started making up easy names for them to spell. I used to feel guilty - like the barista would KNOW I was lying!! {Yeah, right.} When they didn't notice, it became a game. Depending on my mood, sometimes I'm a Julie or Elizabeth and sometimes I have some fun and am a Paris, Sapphire or Rain. ;o)

V. Vegetables you don’t like: Mushrooms.

W. What makes you run late: Procrastinating & thinking something will “only take 2 minutes” when it really takes 10.

X. X-rays you’ve had: Hand.

Y. Yummy food you make: I’d like to think I have a few good recipes. This list comes from my 2 best customers - my boys: My Malawi Chicken, Crock Pot Meatballs, French Dip Steak Sandwich, Chocolate/Oreo layered cake & Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.

Z. Zoo animal you like: Giraffes and Elephants. {We were lucky enough to see a baby elephant getting a bath at Disney’s Wild Animal Park!! It was awesome!}


{Singing} Now you know my ABC’s, next time won’t you sing with me! :o)

What are the ABC’s of YOU? Have you ever written an ABC post? If you do – let me know in the comments below – I’d love to read it!

Sharing this post and meeting new people at Home Savvy A to Z


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Let Your Light Shine {Free Printables}

Hi Everyone!! I wanted to extend a special welcome and THANK YOU to all my new followers on my blog and Facebook page! Six months ago when I decided to start a blog, I had no idea just HOW COOL it would be to connect with so many creative mamas!!
I’ve read your stories, been inspired by your featured creativity, celebrated your triumphs and prayed through your trials, and I know you have done the same for me. Here’s to being REAL. And in honor of YOU and your kindness, I wanted to offer TWO free printable signs, ready for printing and framing! I hope every time you see this you remember to “Let your light SHINE!”

{To print – click on the image to enlarge it; then right click to save and print to size.}

{Like this sign? I just posted a few different ones in my Etsy shop!} This sign is available for purchase too – but you get it free since we’re friends. ;o)

And finally, if you remember my sister’s nursery makeover, I made a few signs for her room as well. One was a baby name/birthdate sign and one of them I saw on Pinterest and Etsy and recreated it like this:


Isn’t it cute? I wish I had a baby room for this sign! It gets lots of laughs so I wanted to share it with you, but since it’s not my original idea, I felt funny selling it or attaching it to print. BUT – I did make ONE MORE sign that is ALL YOURS! I think this would look cute in a kid’s room, a play room or even a classroom! I hope you like it! Thanks again for following my blog and liking my Facebook page! I look forward to connecting with you! {HUGS!} :)

{To print – click on the image to enlarge it; then right click to save and print to size.}

Linking up here:
30 days; Homemaker In Heels; Be Different, Act Normal; The Gunny Sack; Home Savvy A to Z; Tip Junkie; Sew Woodsy;

Enjoy & God Bless,

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Nursery Room Reveal!

Woo to the hoo! The nursery for my nephew is complete! I’m so excited to share with all of you my sister’s nursery for her soon-to-be little man! This was a decorating labor of love and a journey I hope their new family enjoys for years to come.


The challenge {mission impossible theme plays in my head} was to create a nursery that had to double as a guest room, have some whimsy - but not be too baby-ish, have space to enjoy the love of music and reading, find creative uses for storage but be warm and inviting for both baby and guests!

SO, after COUNTLESS emails and MANY Skype sessions – we’re done!! Why only emails and Skype, you ask? Oh – well, I should probably mention that my sister lives about 3000 miles away! And since hopping on a plane for a few months to help her shop and design wasn’t really an option, WE DID IT ALL ONLINE! Let me tell you, it was quite the experience – but worth every second! So, without further ado, here are the before and after photos of my nephew’s new nursery!

where crib & changing table will go
{Like the keyboard set up? My brother-in-law is a professional musician. I guess he’ll have to find another space to compose!} ;o)

{Can you believe this is the SAME wall?}

{BEFORE} Unfinished dresser…
will become baby dresser

{AFTER} Orange dresser! Kudos to my sis for trusting me & taking that leap of faith with orange paint!
{PS – my sister added the leaves. I’m a simple, clean line kinda girl, and wasn’t sure about the leaves at first. What do you think?} :)

Above the dresser – I saw that printable on Pinterest and recreated it myself! I actually made 4 different printables for the room! I'll be posting a couple of them on my {brand spankin'} new Facebook page soon! So, be sure to "Like" Shaped by Grace on Facebook to get yours FREE! {Thank you friend!}


Standing at entrance way


This ottoman below doubles as storage {and I just can’t seem to get enough of that owl pillow!}:

These handmade wall pockets can hold anything from little infant toys to books!

This whimsical trash can will soon be in the room to balance the orange dresser. {Ever try to mail a trash can? You should. It’s fun.} 

A soft & shaggy rug with space for baby to play!

Vinyl tree wall decal:

We both fell in love with the alphabet wall hanging in this pic! And I {hope} she is falling in love with her new nursery! xo302942_10150379123521414_506926413_9958190_394774249_n

Remember how I said we lived 3000 miles away? Well, I have never actually seen this room in person before or after! {Maybe one day!} So, decorating it proved even more of a challenge. I want to thank my sister for executing the design, her patience in sending lots of pictures, giving me a webcam walk-through and allowing me to text her a bazillion questions, fabric swatches & paint colors!  Since she was making 100% of the décor purchases online, much of the inspiration came from searching ideas we had online, project nursery, and Pinterest. From all these searches, I created a design board for her on Pinterest; you can see the inspiration board I created for this nursery here.

And here is where we found all the items for the décor:
  • Wall paint: Pistacchio (a soft green)
  • Dresser paint: Disney's Donald Duck Orange
  • Dresser: Ikea
  • Crib/Furniture: my sister already had these
  • Owl pillow:, $20
  • Little Tree Bedding set: Walmart, $175
  • Printables inspired by and recreated by me. {Keep checking my blog & Facebook page! I made a couple of my own printables for the room & will be posting it for you for FREE next week!} ;o)
  • Rug: $40 Wal-Mart
  • Book slings: Homemade – about $4-5 each.
  • Trash can: Target, $2.50. Iron on decal, $2.99
  • Love: FREE!

Of course, I can’t let you leave this post without sharing a picture of the happy couple and my super cute sister & mom-to-be!


I miss you sis! I sure hope the little guy likes his new nursery, because this is what I think of him already -- even though we’ve never met:

Much love,
Sharing this nursery at:
Homemaker In Heels; Be Different, Act Normal; At the Picket Fence; Design Dazzle
Tatertos and Jello; Under the Table and Dreaming;Tip Junkie; Home Stories A to Z; {All Things Bright and Beautiful} Roomspiration Blog Hop Party; Sugar Bee Crafts;

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Date Day with my Boys

Do you get a lot of QUALITY time with your kids? I know I don’t. Don’t get me wrong – I wish I could spend an ENDLESS quantity of time with my kiddos, but teaching full time limits my time with them and then especially being a single parent – one-on-one time with my kiddos is few and far between. I don’t want my only time with them spent making dinner, driving them to lessons, practice & doing homework, etc. So, instead of feeling guilty all the time, and since those precious one-on-one moments weren’t presenting themselves naturally, I CREATED THEM! And {I hope} have found a way to create some special quality time for me and my boys.
We call it Date Day. {Although my 7 yr. old reminds me that it’s not THAT kind of a date.} Even though we practice manners, being a gentleman, opening doors and that sort of thing, it's really just a young boy man, taking his mom out for some special individual time. Once a week! {I started doing this at the end of last school year with them and they LOVED it! Back then, it was easier because they were at the same after school care. This year, they are at two different places.} Soooo:

The Problem: Find a way to create some alone time with each boy once a week this year.

The solution: Realizing they each had consecutive 1 1/2 hour football practices on the same day each week, so instead of sitting on the field for 3 hrs. they each get a turn going on a date while the other brother practiced.

And thus, DATE DAY was reborn!


Big S chose to go out and get Root Beer Floats! {Good choice big guy!}
We sat and chatted about school and thing we wanted to do and looking forward to winter. And then we notice this:


That, folks, is a real live working juke box! Well, we now have a favorite date place! We walked right over and checked out the song list! The selection was a bunch of 50’s and 60’s oldies but goodies {wouldn’t have expected anything else!} and we took our choice seriously. {AND it was FREE!}


What did we play, you ask? The Monkees, “I’m a Believer!” and we rocked the joint all night long. {Well, for about a half hour of the night at least, before we had to pick up brother.}
Of course, Little Man got his date tonight too. Not to be outdone by his brother, we sat and conversed over the specially requested choice of anything with a cherry on top of it please:

And I loved this date stop too because they let you know that apples are now a choice with their meals with this cute display:


Not bad for a fast food joint. And let me tell you – you learn a lot about a guy over a pint {of ice cream and root beer.} For example, middle school has WAY better lunches than elementary school and next week, you’ll be able to check out footballs and basketballs with your school ID, which is cool, because you and your friend Chris invented a game you wanted to try. And in 2nd grade, you are happy to have moved off “The Sun” in class and on to “Out of this Universe” for the second day in a row! And you also wanted it to be known that Hunter {not the short Hunter, but the TALL one, by the way} and him made up a team and decided to call it Angry Birds. It is yet to be determined just what the intensions of this team are though…

Like I said, never a dull moment with kids. Much more was learned in our talks today, but I took a vow of mom secrecy on those matters. ;o)

So, these dates just make me want to spend MORE and MORE quantities of times with my kiddos, but I guess I will have to let go of some of that mom guilt and enjoy the QUALITY of time I do get. xo

So how do you create one-on-one time with your kids? What types of activities do you enjoy with your quality time together? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two Ingredient Pumpkin Muffin Recipe - HELLO!

I KNEW I loved Pinterest for a reason!! Can you believe these pumpkin muffins were made with just 2 ingredients? I almost didn’t believe it myself!! If you follow my blog, you know I’m not one to post intricate recipes, so when I do post a recipe, you know it’s going to be something good! I LOVE to bake – but I am all about easy!! And these muffins were EASY and GOOD FABULOUS!!
How did I discover these amazing muffins?? {Because, yes, this discovery is so amazing, I felt like Columbus, Vespucci & Magellan all rolled into one!} ;o) These yummy muffins have just started showing up on Pinterest and I saw them via The Big Red Kitchen. The recipe was so easy, and I was so excited at this *treasure* I found, I couldn’t help but share it with all my friends!


Hello yumminess! And they are perfect for fall! So, what two ingredients do you need? Just these! {I swear} I was a doubter, so I HAD to make these myself just to be SURE they worked! ;o)

1 BOX yellow cake mix
1 16 oz. can of pumpkin purée (Some recipes say use a purée and NOT pie mix. Well, I used the pie mix and it turned out just fine? Maybe it was a little stickier. I guess I'll just have to make it with pumpkin purée too to find out!) :o) UPDATE: The pumpkin purée IS better. I made it both ways and it's delicious, but the purée is more of a normal/cakey texture! Hope that helps!

 1. Mix the pumpkin and the cake mix with a mixer until smooth and blended.


2. When you’re done blending {ignore the wooden spoon in the bowl, thanks.) you should have a cake/dough consistency in your bowl, mixing in nice little peaks.


3. Put in muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.


4. Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting or eating! These muffins don’t need ANY frosting to be delicious BUT you could sprinkle some powdered sugar on them or make cream cheese frosting. {The cream cheese frosting was a big hit with my boys.}


And if you have any extra batter, you should really make a few extra muffins with chocolate chips in them! Just sayin.’

These muffins were SO good! I know they will be a huge holiday hit this year! Another bonus? They are egg free! Perfect for those with allergies! {Always be sure to check your pumpkin mix though!} I am still a little dumbfounded that these muffins work with only two ingredients!!  
UH – mazing! Are you a doubter like me? WELL, then you MUST make them yourself! Just to be sure. :) And ENJOY your new favorite treat!!

So I Married A Craft Blogger


Friday, September 9, 2011

September 11th Remembered

September 11, 2001 changed everything for our country. It changed everyone. It changed ME. 10 years ago I was watching September 11th unfold on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. I was a Navy wife. I lived on base and I also worked on base at a drop in daycare center for military families. That morning, I was getting ready for work and playing with my 10 month old son when I got a call. Turn on the TV. I did, and like the rest of America, watched as planes fell from the sky, the two towers fell to the ground and our world changed forever. I knew in that moment, life would be different. Not just for America, not just for New York, but for ME personally. It sounds selfish, but seeing something happening across the country and knowing it was directly affecting you, is a weird feeling. My husband at the time was less than a year from getting out of the Navy & that day I was told that may not happen that soon. I started getting phone calls. Did I feel safer ON the base or OFF? Was our base a target? I really didn’t know. 

I called work. They were preparing to close the daycare. The base was locking down – could I come in and let those who lived off base go home? Sure. My mind wandered to the babies and toddlers we often watched at the daycare. Most of the children in this drop in day care were there because one of their parents were gone on WESTPAC or “on float”, the typical 6 month overseas tour. Many parents were on the same tour and ready to return that month. When 9/11 hit, we were informed they were not returning in a month. They were extending their tour – indefinitely.

We closed down the daycare that day and returned home to watch the world unfold. The base increased its security to what was called at the time “DEFCON 3:” only necessary personnel and those who lived on base should be on the base. Getting off base was only an option if I didn’t want to get back on – the line apparently a two hour wait at times as each person and each ID was thoroughly checked. So I watched the news. And waited. I listened to see if what the media said matched the rumors we were hearing on base. I watched as they listed those first casualties of war so poignantly. My Navy husband and I would run the list of countless names of people we knew who were in the military overseas and hoping not to recognize a face or a name on that list. I didn’t expect that it would be me who would recognize a name – and not him…

It was one of the parents, a dad, at the daycare where I worked. I remember him because he was one of the few dad’s that wouldn’t just pick up his daughter, Amber, and run, but would stay a bit and play with her and the other young children before they would leave. After 9/11 he was sent to Afghanistan. He was on a helicopter that never made it home.

I saw his face on the television, hoping I was wrong, and thought of his sweet little girl. But the news was confirmed when I went into work the next day. Amber and her family, of course, were devastated. They withdrew Amber from the daycare almost immediately and I never saw her since, but I think of and pray for her often, hoping she’s okay.

In the days and months that passed, I cried with other wives as their husbands, having just returned from being gone months at a time, were preparing to be sent out again. I prayed alongside friends with certainty that God would give us peace in this situation and uncertainty with what kind of peace that meant. On my end, I guess I was lucky. My {now ex} husband ended up not going over to Afghanistan. He was given a choice: go to Afghanistan for 6 months and get out of the military when {or if – in our minds} he returned, or stay and extend his time in the military for 3 years. He chose to extend. That decision probably saved his life, but ended our marriage. He was transferred to another base nearby and he was miserable. For three years he took his misery out on me and our boys, both physically and mentally. I used to wonder ‘what if’, but not anymore. But I do think about Amber and all the other Ambers out there and how 9/11 changed their lives forever. I know that the small side effects of 9/11 in my life remotely compare to the heartache and loss of those in Afghanistan, the Pentagon, Flight 93, or New York.

I read that people on the streets in New York, when the twin towers collapsed, described the dust cloud as “darker than they knew dark could be… the kind of dark you can feel.” I think that can be a metaphor to how we feel when horrible things like this happen. Those feelings, that darkness, can easily consume us, destroy us -suffocate us. So where is God in all this? It’s easy to think in these times that He’s left us, but God often uses tragedy and tough times to reveal himself to us - if you look for Him. God says you only need to look at the church {that’s us!} to see His love. You only need to look at those who love Him to see His peace. You only need to look at those who DID survive these tragedies to see His compassion. You only need to look at how life has gone on to see His grace.

And so, 10 years later, I still pray: for our world, for all those affected by September 11th even now, for our children and for our future. Because I am raising two children who only remember 9/11 from what we tell them. And so, I will never forget.

{From Google images}

Where were you on September 11, 2001? How did it change you? Will you be remembering September 11th in any special way this weekend? 

I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:20-23 (NIV)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The 1st Day of School!

It’s here! The first day of school! I have loved reading about everyone else’s first days of school! I feel like my boys are the last to start! Here are a few pics of our day. Since it was MY first day of school too {I teach 8th grade English} I dropped both boys off at the YMCA at their schools. Now that I am dropping off at TWO different schools this year, I did not get to walk Little Man to his line. But, what made the mom guilt {a little} easier is that THEY LOVE the Y and Little Man actually REQUESTED to go to the Y and play with his friends before school started! So, it all worked out for the best. AND, there was no line at the sign to take pictures!


Love these boys!  Some things we learned today...

In Second Grade. . .
- you have three recesses!
- you have THREE frogs in your classroom {2 stuffed animal frogs and one REAL}
- and your teacher still reads stories to you. {phew – we were worried about that.} ;o)

In Sixth Grade . . .
-You get your own locker {and only have to go to the office twice and ask the custodian once to get it to work!}
-You have SIX different teachers.
- and you get to sit with your friends for lunch {not your class}

{And if the boys look a little tired it’s because I forgot to take this picture in the morning, so I took them after school when we got home!} Oh well! =)
{Also - like those signs? I got them here!}

Of course, I couldn’t send the boys to school with out a treat for their teacher!


{Inspired by TheGirlsatEighteen25 – I should seriously do PR for them!} :o)

Apparently they were a hit – especially in Middle School! Big S said he got hugs from three of his teachers! He said that was the favorite part of his day. :)

AND, I couldn’t send my boys off without a little treat of their own in their lunch boxes! 


{I got this printable from bethproudfoot}
Lol -- I guess we had a cookie theme this year! =)
And the best part of this day? Both boys had a GREAT first day and LOVE their teachers!! Little Man’s teacher was described by a few other moms as the type of teacher that really loves the kids and gets so attached to the kids that she cries on the last day of school! Aw . . .xoxo We’re so excited for what this year will bring! I hope your kids have had a great start back to school as well!
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