Monday, February 28, 2011

Multitude Monday

It's been one week since I started my Gratitude Journal.
Honestly, I'm not feeling any more thankful than before.
I'm still having cranky days,
it has been nice to notice the moments that take my breath away.
So... I'm going to keep on keeping on!

24. new Spring wreaths adorning my door (just in time for another dumping of snow)

25. love pats from his little chubby hand
26. her one month old adorableness

27. ecstatic fits of glee as a football is tossed over his head

28. two precious ones sleeping and the same time

29. buy one get one on caffinated drinks
30. a happy child during church nursery
31. tylenol

32. a serious game of cars played around her
33. early sun while being wrapped in a blanket close to my love

34. healthy babies
35. her body wrapped close to my chest while I rock the other to sleep

36. just the sound of wheels on the highway as I escape for two hours alone

37. heading up on the bridge with just the sky in view

38. how much he loves her

Friday, February 25, 2011

Valentine's Photo Shoot Tutorial

I am pleased to admit that yes, I DID take the photos of my kids on Valentine's Day!
Many of you asked if they were professional.

The good news?
You can take photos like them, too!

And you don't need a professional studio.
Or even a professional camera!
I do have a this camera
but similar results could be achieved with a simple point and shoot.

To achieve my backdrop,
I went shopping at the Family Dollar for Valentine appropriate decorations.
 I wanted one thing for the background 
and a few things Little Bug could interact with for the pictures.
I came home with:
~ a calendar to make the heart garland
~ candy hearts
~ and a balloon.
I spent $4 on decorations.
(and then used the candy hearts for a Valentine game with my hubby and the balloon provided hours of entertainment for Little Bug.  $4 well spent.)

I then took a white quilt (you could use a sheet) and draped it over my couch next to a white wall.
And hung up my heart garland (low and close to the couch since I have short kiddos!)
Use the room in your house that has the best lighting and turn off that flash!
Natural light is best.

Then, dressed my models in color appropriate cloth diapers.
And shot my pictures!

I gave Little Bug candy hearts and the balloon to make for interesting shots.
And did each of their photo shoots while the other one was sleeping.

Next week, I'll share how I edited the photos to give a professional look and feel
Easy peasy to do that.
I promise!

I'm going to be doing a fun St. Patrick's Day photo shoot, too.
Will you take what you learn here and join me?
So go hit up the dollar store for some fun decorations!
Or make your own!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Peace Lily - God's Peace

It was a few weeks after that horrible day.

My parent's came to visit.
And my dad bought me a Peace Lily.

You know... the beautiful flowering plant that has a calli-lily type bloom?

It was to bring us peace in the midst of the storm.
To remind us of peace.
God's peace.
The peace that He gives when our minds are steadfast on Him.

The problem with this plant was

I never saw those beautiful white flowers emerge from beneath.

My dad would call and ask about it frequently.

"  Is it blooming yet?"
"  No, dad... nothing."

Then the unthinkable happened again.
We found out we were pregnant.
We were scared.
We were excited.
We did not have peace.

All I could think about was

I begged God to make this one stick.
I wasn't sure I could go through that again.

The day after the plus on the stick,


after months and months of nothing.
It bloomed. 

A bright, white peeking from beneath.
God had given peace.
And as a symbol... the lily. 

The lily stayed perfect my entire pregnancy.
And has continued to bloom ever since.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

6 more days!

Only 6 more days until BLB reopens!

Are you ready for a 25% off discount?!

{Stay tuned to the FB page and blog to find out details NEXT WEEK!}

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Party Tip Tuesday with A Darling Day! {Getting Your "Party Space" Party Ready}

Hello again and Happy Tuesday! 

Today’s ‘Party Tip’ is an easy one, but it is very important.
If you plan to host the party at your home, you need to determine the ‘party space’, the area where the majority of your party will take place.
Is it your backyard?
Your kitchen and dining room?
Your living room?

If you are hosting the party at your home, you may need to clear out the ‘party space’.
Consider moving picture frames, knick knacks and furniture into another area of your home.
Creating an open, clear space will make it easier for guests to navigate your party (and simpler if you need to bring in additional seating). Plus, when you start with a blank palette (void of your usual decor and knick knacks), it will be easier to decorate the space and make your theme the central focus.

Once your ‘party space’ is cleared of furniture and whatnots, do a thorough cleaning. Yes, cleaning (and remember to clean the bathroom your guests will be using).

It may be tempting to skip these steps, but they are important. Once your space is cleared and clean, you are ready to set up for the party!

Today, I also wanted to share with you some information on how to set a table. It is a simple thing, but not something that many of us are ever taught. Until recently, the extent of my knowledge of the place setting came from what I learned in Pretty Woman :) .  Although I don’t put a lot of stock in the “proper” way to do things, I do think it is important to know which side of the plate to put the water glass. So, here is a diagram of a formal place setting:
a. salad plate
b. bread plate (and bread knife)
c. salad fork
d. dinner fork
e. napkin (can also be placed to the left of the forks)
f. dinner plate
g. dessert spoon
h. dessert fork
i. water glass
j. red wine glass
k. white wine glass
l. dinner knife (knife blade facing the plate)
m. salad knife (knife blade facing the plate)
n. teaspoon
o. soup spoon

Dinner plates should be placed about 2 inches from the table’s edge, centered in front of each chair.
Neatly line up silverware from the bottoms and space them about a half inch apart.
If you have a soup course, the soup bowl should be placed on top of the dinner plate.
If you are using name cards, place them above the dessert utensils to the left of the drinking glasses.

I hope you will find this little cheat sheet helpful next time you begin setting your table!

Please check out my blog at or follow me on facebook at!

See you back here next week, with tips on how to decorate for your party!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ann Voskamp's Multitude Mondays

Watch this.

Then join me as I jump on the bandwagon and



Here is my attempt at reaching 1000 moments.
1000 gifts.
1000 ways He loves.

1. warm, clammy arms from her sleeping newborn body

2. fresh out of womb smells on her head

3. feather-soft baby skin beneath my lips

4. music that ignites my heart

5. tears over the phone has weakness is revealed by a friend and Strength is called upon.

6. his sweet vocals exclaiming "dooooog!"

7. bright blue eyes flashing behind slow eyelash-covered blinks

8. the way he holds his sippy cup

9. and how he claps for a job well done

10. just woken up cuddles on the couch

11. a chubby finger pointed to the closed door when he hears her awake

12. dance party in the kitchen

13. the way he dances: right foot stomping, hands clapping, big smile on his face, & "dee, dee, dee" exuding his lips

14. warmer weather after a cold winter

15. attics to escape to in order to hear God

16. the rainbow-like way our diapers fell out of the dryer.

17. little boy hands sweeping hair over my eyes playfully

18. cuddling on the couch in between fits of giggles

19. swaddled newborn's heaviness leaning on my chest

20. the sweet sigh from a full little tummy

21. release of gas, relaxing in peace

22. Dove chocolates... by myself 

23. cold ice water running down my throat.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Guest Post: Catherine from Radical Crafts

 I'm so excited to introduce you to our Guest Poster for today.  Catherine from Radical Crafts is an amazing lady who is also using her talents and creativity to help other people.  You all know that Better Life Bags seeks to make lives better one "purse" at a time, so anytime I find another like-minded business woman, I love to promote them!


Hi, my name is Catherine and I am so excited to be posting on Better Life Bags.
I think a lot of us started following Rebecca’s blog as a result of her awesome
Prayer Calendar and ever since then I’ve been amazingly blessed by her humility
and heart for the Lord. I have never met Rebecca in person but she has quickly
become a sweet friend in the blogosphere. I’m so grateful that she’s giving me a
chance to tell her amazing readers about my venture, Radical Crafts.

Radical Crafts is a forum where hopefully many people can come together to
raise money to assist those who are actively ministering in various parts of the
world for the sake of Christ to the glory of God.

Practically speaking, 
it's a craft shop selling handmade items with 100% of the
profits going to ministries and organizations.

For the months of Feb. - April the profits will go to E3 Kids - a US-based
ministry that raises money to support a Christian school in Mombasa, Kenya. We
are trying to raise money for boarding students (many of whom are orphans) to
have a dormitory where they will no longer have to share tiny mattresses and will
have adequate bathrooms.

Which brings me here…to YOU. For the trial period of the shop the profits
benefited my brother and sister-in-law’s Ethiopian adoption and we raised $450.
Not bad for just a couple of us crafting. BUT I am confident that so much more
can be done in the future with some help.

What I need are some crafty people like YOU to donate crafts to the shop. You
can check out the guidelines on the blog. It doesn’t have to be fancy and it can
be one thing or many…whatever you want to do. And I’ll do a special blog post
featuring each donor’s blog and/or shop.

Not so crafty? That’s okay! I would love to have your help in spreading the
word about the blog and shop.

I truly feel that God can use all of us to do amazing things. I would be honored if
you would come alongside me in prayer for this project.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at radicalcrafts(at)gmail(dot)
com. And if you're interested in donating anything, please let me

Isn't she awesome?

Please, go check out her blog and her shop.
{She has some amazing things for sale!}
Consider donating some of your talents and crafts to help her cause.
And spread the word about her Facebook page to all your friends!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Graham Cracker Ice Cream Cookie

You'll thank me later.
{After you eat them, of course}

These are  
 ice cream cookies.

For very cheap
and very low on calories/fat!

Just take two graham crackers and spread Cool Whip in between.

Pop them in the freezer overnight.
The next day, you can enjoy a tasty ice cream sandwich...


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

God's Funny Answers to Prayer

Funny answers to prayer?
Sometimes they are NOT so funny.
Especially if His answer was no,
or wait,
or something very very different.

It was the summer after we got married.
We were sitting in church and I noticed a couple a few rows ahead of us obviously mourning.
The husband was comforting his wife.
She was crying.
They were going through something ROUGH.
Yet, they were going through it TOGETHER.

Neil and I had yet to experience anything HARD in our marriage.

I'm not sure why I did it or what I was thinking, but I prayed:

please do whatever you have to in order to solidify our marriage early.
To bring us close together through an experience.
Take us through something that requires us to rely on you TOGETHER."

A few weeks later I found out I was pregnant.
We were ecstatic!
The news spread FAST as we couldn't keep it in.

God has answered my prayer!
Raising a baby was going to be hard - especially as newlyweds with limited income.
But God surely gave this to us to bring us closer together.

Two days later I started bleeding.

The pregnancy was over before it ever began.

Neil and I sat on the couch.
Worship music playing LOUD and I WILLED the bleeding to stop.
Tears were spilling from both of our eyes.
We held onto each other tight.
Chests heaving and convulsing behind the water.
We prayed.
We begged.
We loved.
We grew closer together than ever.

The pregnancy WAS God's answer to my prayer.
but it was NOT the answer I wanted or expected.

He does this sometimes {answer prayers differently than I prayed or asked} and I just have to trust that He knows better than I do.

He KNEW that a miscarriage would draw Neil and I closer together than a baby would.
He KNEW that we needed to go through this first.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Party Tip Tuesday with A Darling Day! {Invitations}

In a time where we create events on facebook and send e-vites, it is easy to overlook the importance of the invitation. Although these digital alternatives are easy (and free!), by definition they are impersonal. They aren’t special.

The purpose of an invitation is to set the stage for the party. It is your guest’s first impression of the event they will be attending. You don’t want your invitation to blend in with all your guest’s other facebook invitations. Right?

Since you have already decided on the theme of your party (view last week’s post here), creating your invitation should be easy (remember, a theme makes it easier to make decisions about the rest of the party). 

There are two ways to get the perfect invitations for your party: order them from a designer or make them yourself. If you feel more comfortable ordering invitations from a professional, you can find some great options on Etsy or Supermarket or Wedzu. And you can always order some custom invitations from A Darling Day!

For those of you wanting to make the invitations yourself, try to think outside the box. An invitation doesn’t have to be a piece of paper… 

~ For a nautical themed party, send the invitation in a corked bottle. 
~ For a masquerade/carnival themed party, send the invitation tied to a feathered mask. 
~ For a baby shower, send the invitation in a baby bottle. 
~ For a Vegas themed party, glue the party info to the back of a playing card. 
~ For a travel themed party, purchase some vintage postcards from an antique store and write info about the event on the back. 
~ For a rustic themed party, paint a thin piece of wood with blackboard paint and write the invite out in chalk. 

Think about all aspects of your theme, and a creative idea for an invitation will surely come to you.

There are also ways to dress up a 2-dimensional invitation

~ Buy a paper punch from a craft supply store in a shape fitting to your theme… a flower for a spring or garden party, a cupcake for a dessert reception, a rattle for a baby shower. Paper punches are great because you can punch the invitation directly or punch out the design in contrasting paper and glue to the invitation.

~ You can also cut shapes out of fabric or felt and glue or sew them onto the invitation (I am sure Rebecca would vote for sewing!).
~ Or purchase an appliqué to glue or sew.
~ Or some cute ribbon!

Remember, whenever you are affixing fabric details to paper, use a spray adhesive (in a well-ventilated area).

Try using a hole punch to make small holes around the border of your invitation. Lace twine or raffia through the holes and tie into a pretty bow.

I hope this has helped give you some ideas for creative invitations! Whether you make them yourself or order them from a professional, don’t skimp the invitation. Sending out invitations will help set the tone of your party and make your guests feel special!

I’ll see you back here next week for another party tip. In the meantime, follow me at my blog or on facebook for more darling ideas!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Easy, Cheap Valentine's Bunting

This project took me about 20 minutes MAX.
And only cost $1!

I needed a Valentine's bunting that was quick and easy for a photo shoot background.
I didn't have any construction paper, so I ventured out to Family Dollar.

They didn't have any either.

BUT, I did find a wall calendar for only $1 that had the colors I was looking for!

So, I cut out a bunch of hearts in varying sizes.

Took them over the my sewing machine and sewed them together - one right after another!


I'm not a huge fan of decorating my house for holidays 
{other than Christmas},
but I will put some effort into the holiday photo shoots I do for my kids.

{Photo shoot reveal will come on Monday!}

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine's with Yankee Candle

This craft could actually be used with ANY holiday
or ANY event.

It was inspired by my mother.

She created these for my brother and his fiance's engagement party.
{Which took place in January}

The card read like this:

And inside was this Yankee Candle.

My creative mother matched the title of the Yankee Candle 
{"Winter Wonderland"}  
with an appropriate verse from the Bible for the occasion 
{Psalm 118:23 "This is the Lord's doing.  And it is WONDERFUL in our eyes"}.
Great job mom!
These were SO cute!

Materials my mom used:
~ Small box from Walmart
~ Snowflake charm from Walmart {bought after Christmas sales}
~ "Joy" card was actually a cut up Christmas card.

But you could just as easily come up with something easier and quicker.
{Like a small cellophane bag with a tag inside about the verse}

Here's a Valentine's idea I found while perusing the Yankee Candle site.
Use this candle.
 And this verse:
Song of Solomon 8:7
Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.

Don't want to use a verse?
Come up with a cute saying to go along with a votive instead!

Like this candle.

And this saying:
"My whole life is as romantic as a walk on the beach with you."

{That seems like a pretty lame saying... I'm sure you can more creative than me!}

Yankee Candles are the Cadillac of candles {in my opinion}, and these votives are just the right price for a simple, but thoughtful gift!

Want some more V-day ideas?
Check here
and here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Prayer... Factors that Assure Answers

Last time, from humans.
This time straight from the source.

Just thought as I explore the concept of prayer that you might want to join along with me.

I focused this week on Factors that Assure Answers.

... because we all want to be sure that our prayers are answered, right?
or at least HEARD.

I found quite a few verses on this topic, but am sure there are WAY MORE just waiting to be discovered by my little mind.

Seems like most of these are conditional promises.
... you know... the kind that requires something OF you before the promise is given.

{Here they are... So you can indulge, too}

John 15:7
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.
How can we remain in God?
How can His words remain in us?
And is it REALLY that simple?  that "genie in a bottle" like?

Psalm 66:18
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
How can I be sure that sin is not cherished in my heart?
I WANT God to listen to me.
Sin really does block my communication with Him.

1 John 3:22
and we receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.
How can I know what his commands are and what pleases Him?
Must be by reading His Words in the Bible.
Isn't that the only way we can know what he commands us?

James 4:3
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Wrong motives...
spend what I get on my pleasures.
THIS is a hard one.
Isn't that WHY I pray?
so that I can get what I WANT?
Prayer must be bigger than my own desires and wishes.
Prayer must be selfless ?

{I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic, too.}
What is the biggest answer to prayer that you have received lately?
What are you still waiting on God to answer?
What are you disappointed with God for not answering yet or in the way you expected? 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Party Tip Tuesday with A Darling Day! {Party Themes}

Hello new friends! My name is Jessica and I design parties and invitations over at A Darling Day. I am very excited to begin a new series of posts here at Better Life Bags. Every Tuesday I will be here with easy, affordable tips for making your next party extra special.

The first step to planning a successful party is deciding on the type of party and theme for the party. Is it a dinner party for close friends? A holiday party for a large crowd? A birthday party for your crazy best friend?

Once you decide what type of party you are hosting, choose a theme. A theme will make it easier to make decisions about the rest of the party. For example, if you have a picnic-themed party, you can set the table with checkered tablecloths, picnic baskets and wildflowers. You can serve fried chicken and baked beans. If you choose a travel-themed party, you can send postcard invitations, decorate with globes and maps and give luggage tags to guests as a favor. Choosing a theme makes throwing a cohesive party easy!

In some cases, the type of party dictates the theme. If you are throwing a Christmas party, the theme is probably the holiday itself. However, creating a theme that is unexpected will surprise and excite your guests. An invitation for a baby shower doesn’t have to be pink and blue. You don’t have to decorate with diapers and pacifiers and balloons. Choose an unexpected theme to create a party guests will remember. Why not throw a circus themed baby shower? Use bold colors, give out raffle tickets, serve popcorn and cotton candy and dress like a bearded lady.

If you want a more understated theme, pick a color and/or a single item to be the star. This is a great option for a more formal party. You might choose ‘yellow’ and ‘buttons’ for a bridal shower.

Choose linens and paper products in several different shades of yellow, decorate with yellow daisies and serve lemon cookies and lemonade. Sew a button onto the invitations and place cards, fill the bottom of vases with buttons and tie a button around each glass stem to help guests keep track of their drink.

See how easy it is to create ideas around a single item? Use a monochromatic color palatte for all your party details and you will have an elevated, cohesive party.
Make sure to check back next Tuesday for another party tip! In the meantime, be sure to check out my blog at A Darling Day!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Some Thoughts on Prayer

Started going through a study on Victorious Prayer.

Found some quotes from mere humans - that while were sinful people, sure did have some great thoughts on prayer.

"The great people of the earth today are the people who pray.  I don't mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time and pray.
They have not time.
It must be taken from something else.  
This something else is important - very important and pressing, but still less important and less pressing than prayer."
- S.D. Gordon

"Prayer will never be easy.  It is harder for me to pray now than ten years ago.  I thought I would reach the place where I couldn't keep from praying.  Instead, I can hardly keep from not praying.  Why should it be easy?
It is warfare."
- Lorne Sanny

"The greatest thing each one of us can do is to pray.  If we can go personally to some distant land, still we have gone to only one place.
Prayer puts us into direct dynamic touch with a world.  A man may go aside today, and shut the door, and really spend a half-hour of his life in India for God as though he were there in person.  Surely you and I must get more half-hours for this secret service."
- S. D. Gordon

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lady Bug was LATE!!!

In keeping in fashion with her parent's worst characteristic...
Lady Bug was LATE.
Guess it shouldn't surprise me.
We are pretty much late to everything, too.
Which works really well in the cultural setting that we work in.

Each day that passed after Lady Bug's "due date" seemed like a year.

But Little Bug and I made the best of it.

He got caught up on some reading about how to be a Big Brother.

And I started and finished recovering her carseat all in one day.

I was nervous I wasn't going to finish it before I went into labor.
Since having a car seat is pretty much a requirement for taking your baby home.
But, I finished in time.
And Lady Bug loves it!
All snug as a bug in a rug.

{I bought the PDF tutorial on how to recover her carseat here}
Many of you remember I redid Little Bug's seat here.

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