Daily Inspiration ~ 7.4.2015 (Happy Birthday, America!)

Today, July 4, 2015, we celebrate the United States of America’s Independence Day. 239 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed, granting independence from Great Britain.

Today is a day of celebration, of thanks, of patriotic feelings.

But today I’m not feeling as patriotic or as celebratory as previous years. Yes, we have some freedoms, but we are far from free. We, as a nation, have fallen from grace. We are divided. We are mentally segregated. We are doing the WRONG things.

We, as Americans, are given this freedom. We, as Americans, are wasting our freedom on pointing fingers and living in the past…a past that none of us alive today was a part of.

We, as Americans, need to use our freedom to do what is RIGHT. Help thy neighbors. Love thy neighbors. Celebrate with thy neighbors.

I am urging each and EVERY American out there to use your freedom for things that are RIGHT, JUST, and BETTER for all Americans. Stand up for American rights, not specific rights. Stand up for better education, a better economy, better care for veterans, homeless, orphans, animals.

We need to use our freedom for good and meaningful reasons, not for greed and pride. My name is Lauren, and I hope to one day be proud to be an American again. With that being said, Happy Birthday, America! Here’s to hoping we can celebrate many more with you!

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Daily Inspiration ~ 7.3.2015

From 2008 until 2013 we lived on military bases, subdivisions, and in a few loud cities. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED living in he hustle and bustle. Constant noise, constant distractions, tons of things to do.

But for the past 18 months we have been living out in a rural town area (we are about 10 minutes past the actual town)…and I LOVE it more than anything. I love the quiet. I love how I can look up at the sky and see millions of stars without light pollution. I love the sound of toads and crickets at night. I love the howls of coyotes and the hoots of owls. I love the country roads and fields of livestock and fresh produce.

You know why I love all of this? Because I can think clearly. I can come up with more ideas, more thoughts, more innovations. It’s like, since we’ve moved out to the country I have had millions of thoughts and ideas running through my mind.

As Ram Dass states, “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”

If you ever feel overwhelmed, sad, angry, confused, or just anxious, take a walk through nature, turn off your electronics, and just listen to the silence. It is seriously amazing what your mind can do when it has no distractions.

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5 Patriotic Drinks to Celebrate America’s Birthday!!

We’ve had some bad storms pass through our area today, so I’m posting this a bit late. Most Americans know that celebrating Independence Day involves good food, and even better drinks.

Sure, you can pop open a can of beer or twist of that cap on your bottle…or you can whip up some of these fun, easy, patriotic drinks and raise your glasses in salute to the 239th Birthday of the U.S.A.

Frozen Boozy Bomb Pop Drink @ Simply Fresh Cooking

This looks absolutely PERFECT for a hot day of celebration! With three different flavors of vodka, sugar, lime, and a few other ingredients, this patriotic drink can be made ahead of time or whipped up when you’re ready.

Red, White, & Blue Sangria @ Imagine Design Blog

Sangria is one of the yummiest, and EASIEST drinks to make. I’ve had sangria made in so many ways, I’m sure this one will be a hit. Strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple give you your patriotic colors, while the whine and liquor make your blood flow and your mouths sing in praise (hahaha).

Blue Vodka Lemonade @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

This bad mamma-jamma is prepped and ready to be served in just 5 minutes. All it takes is lemonade, blue vodka, blue food coloring (optional), and a blender. You can even add a little American Flag or some strawberries to the top to make it even more patriotic.

Patriotic Shooters @ Celebrations

Ok, so this isn’t exactly a “drink,” but sometimes, you gotta bring out the shots! These shooters add a POP! with pop rocks, and creaminess with the addition of half and half (so make sure you serve immediately and don’t leave it outside too long).

Red Hot Cinnamon Whiskey Cocktail @ Better Recipes

So I’m not a big drinker. But I LOVE me some Fireball Whiskey (seriously, if you haven’t tried it, DO IT!). Add a little spice to your celebration by whipping up these easy cocktails.

**And as always, drink responsibly.**

Oh, and if you feel like allowing your kiddos to partake in festive drinks, check out this non-alcoholic patriotic drink! All it takes is red punch, blue gatorade, and some sprite!

Classic Patriotic Punch

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There you go. Instead of boring, “same old, same old” beer, make sure to try out some of the patriotic, fun, and delicious drinks. And don’t forget the classic punch above for the kids.

Also if you haven’t already checked them out, look at the following posts for PATRIOTIC desserts, recipes, and crafts.

Daily Inspiration ~ 7.2.2015

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Confucius is very smart. This is actually something I’ve been discussing with my 8 year old daughter. She is VERY intelligent, but she struggles just a little with math. She gets so frustrated that she’s usually one of the last kids to finish assignments, so she started rushing through her work and making big mistakes.

So we literally had a conversation about doing things slow and right the FIRST time just the other day. I told her as long as she understood what she was doing, and completed the problems, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow she can do them.

Most of us are living our lives in the fast lane. I don’t want my children growing up thinking they have to do things fast because the world wants it done that way.

We can apply these words to life. Yes, we may want a good job NOW, a nice car NOW, a family NOW. But sometimes life throws obstacles in the way that slows down your progress toward your destination.

It’s important to remember that as long as you are still moving forward, it doesn’t matter the pace you are taking. Some things happen in the blink of an eye, while others happen at a snail’s pace. So do things right the first time, whether it takes you an hour, month, year, or decade.

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10 Awesomely Easy 4th of July Crafts for Kids & Adults!!

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So today I thought I would change things up a bit. Part of celebrating Independence Day is learning about the history of it. What better way to teach our children about history, than with crafts? As most parents know, kids learn better (and are more willing to learn) when their mind AND hands are busy. If you’re looking for dessert and dinner, check out my 10 Easy, Quick, Simply Sweet Recipes for the 4th of July! and 10 Delicious 4th of July Recipes Sure to Please EVERYONE!

Below you will find 6 crafts for children and 4 crafts for adults. The adult crafts are more for decoration, but they are simple to do and most of the items you already have at home! I will start with the kid’s crafts and round up this post with the adult ideas. Hope you enjoy!

Confetti Launchers @ Piikea Street

I’m not sure how other states/cities are, but in South Carolina, you can’t even use sparklers in some areas in celebration, let alone fireworks. Fortunately for my family, we live in the country and can shoot off the biggest fireworks available. But for those of you who can’t have fireworks, or for just a fun craft, these confetti launchers are PERFECT for children. All you need are 12″ balloons, toilet paper rolls, decorative paper, tape, and construction paper.

Straw Fireworks @ Crafty Morning

These are SO simple to make, and they turn out SO neat looking! All it takes is paint, bendable straws (think dollar store!), and white paper. You can even use toilet paper rolls if you feel like it (just cut a line every 1/2-1 inch or so on one end of the roll about 1/3 of the way down the tube, then bend outward like the straw).

4th of July Noisemaker @ Mess for Less

This is such a cool idea! All it takes is two paper plates, scissors, paint, a stapler, tape, and dry beans. Such a fun activity for children. You can do this at your celebration to keep the kids entertained, or take a few with you to a celebration and share the fun!

Popsicle Stick Flag Magnets @ Making of a Mom

If you’re like the average parent, your fridge is covered in beautiful artwork. So why not add a magnet to the display also made by your little artists? All this takes is popsicle sticks, paint, and magnetic strips. PERFECT and just in time for the 4th!

Wet Chalk Fireworks @ Crafty Morning

I just noticed this is the second post from Crafty Morning. She definitely has some great ideas for children’s crafts, including this AWESOME wet chalk fireworks craft. I had no idea chalk would look like this when it’s wet! Just chalk, water, and a black piece of paper is all that’s needed for these masterpieces!

Patriotic Cup Craft @ Danielle’s Place

Just to give you a heads up, the link for this craft leads to a page with a few crafts. This particular one is about half way down the page. Blue cups, red and white ribbon, scissors, tape, string, and silver stars complete this awesome, cheap, and easy craft any kid (or adult) can make!

And now for some fun ADULT crafts!

Red, White, and Blue Pom Garlands @ Yay for Handmade!

I have ALWAYS wanted to try these out. And the directions provided make it look extremely easy. All you need is red, white, and blue tissue paper, twine/ribbon, scissors, and a stapler. Such a quick, simple decoration just in time for America’s birthday!

Patriotic Bug-Away Candleholders @ PopSugar

Now this craft takes a little more time, and it requires a few more materials. But not only is is patriotic and decorative, but it serves a purpose. By adding the lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus, or citronella essential oils, this candleholder turns into a bug repellent! Beauty and purpose? You can’t beat that!

Patriotic Tin Cans @ Stockpiling Moms

These are a great centerpiece for utensils, flowers, or anything you can think of. Just grab a few tin cans (think veggies) and make sure they are thoroughly cleaned. Add some paint, ribbon, and patriotic decorations and you have a cheap, festive item to add to your celebrations.

Duct Tape 4th of July Banner @ Chic California

Sometimes I wonder if I have a crafty bone in my body. This is such a simple craft, even a caveman could do it! Just use duct tape, baker’s twine, and scissors to create this fun, festive addition to any 4th of July celebration.

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TA-DA. And there you go. 6 fun crafts for kids and 4 fun crafts for adults. I do realize that some of these pictures are huge, but I wanted to make sure everything linked back to the original posters, so I’m leaving them this way. I hope you enjoy trying out some of these. I plan on trying out a few of these today, so I’ll make sure to post a link to a new post once we complete them!

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Daily Inspiration ~ 7.1.2015

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Well, it’s the first of July. Half of the year is already gone! What have you done so far this year? We’ve moved to a rental we finally love and will probably buy. My husband started his BBM. My daughter finished second grade. My daddy bought me my first bread machine. And I’ve turned into suzy homemaker lol

I hate, and I mean HATE, the saying YOLO (you only live once). I don’t know if that is some stupid saying created by our youth today, or some fad that will eventually disappear (one can hope), but it is one of the single most misleading statements I’ve ever heard.

We don’t just live once, we die once. We live every single day. Make the most of it.

I’m pretty sure this has been said once or twice in the same fashion, but I wrote this quote. Every single day when you wake up and take your first look around, your first conscious breath, your first stretch or yawn…you are living another day.

We, as humans, take so much for granted. We are so wrapped up in technology, social media, biased news, world problems, racism, difference of opinions…that we never stop to think…WE ARE ALIVE.

Do you know how precious life is? Do you know what separates humans from other species?

Time. From the moment we are born to the moment we take our last breath, our lives are governed by time. You can’t turn it back and you can’t prevent it from moving forward. Time is what defines humanity. And we are wasting it.

So live each day to the fullest. I’m not going to say live it like it’s your last day on Earth, because none of us know when that is. We should live every single day to the fullest. With compassion. With forgiveness. With love.

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10 Delicious 4th of July Recipes Sure to Please EVERYONE!

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(*Warning~ I use a few “cuss” words in this post. I can’t help it.)

Fun Facts about Independence Day:

  1. The Declaration of Independence began as a letter to King George to explain why the Continental Congress voted to declare independence from Great Britain.
  2. The Declaration of Independence has five parts. They are: the Preamble, the Statement of Human Rights, Charges Against Human Rights, Charges Against the King and Parliament, and the Statement of Separation and Signatures.
  3. July 4 was officially declared a holiday in 1870, nearly one hundred years after the Declaration of Independence was written.
  4. Currently, the oldest Independence Day celebration in the U.S. is held in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Yesterday, I provided y’all with a great selection of 10 Easy, Quick, Simply Sweet Recipes for the 4th of July! What can I say? Sometimes I like to eat my dessert before my dinner. Most Americans do one thing in celebration of our Independence Day. Throw a kick-ass BBQ and invite EVERYONE.

These 10 Delicious 4th of July Recipes are Sure to Please EVERYONE!!! Some require marinating overnight, some require in-depth prep work, but they ALL will be more than worth the effort to feed your family and friends, and to be praised for being the “Best Damn Cook” in the world!!!

4th of July Firecracker Dogs @ Handmade in the Heartland

Y’all, these are easy and amazingly patriotic. I LOVE the addition of the colby cheese stars on the top. Perfect for children, or as an appetizer for hungry adults waiting on the grill to heat up!

Marinated Greek Chicken Skewers @ A Hint of Honey

How about a little protein and veggies for your 4th of July BBQ? These chicken skewers are quick to marinate, and are cooked up within 20 minutes on the grill. Less time cooking = happy eaters!

Firecracker Ribs @ A Cork, Fork, & Passport

A little bit of sweet, a little bit of spice, a lotta bit of OMGosh. My family loves ribs. My dad has an old family rub recipe that I am proud to know and use weekly on ribs and other things. But THESE babies look delicious! And it’s a staple in American 4th of July celebrations!

Grilled Shrimp @ The Little Kitchen

Are you feeling a little, shellfish? (haha, you see what I did there…even though shrimp are not shellfish…oh well, I tried!) Some people want to cook something different for a cookout. Look no farther. These simple and quick grilled shrimp are sure to be a hit!

Aloha BBQ Sliders @ Tidy Mom

These bad boys look amazing. Of course I would take the pineapple off of my burger, but if that is your forte, more to ya! And with smaller patties and Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, talk about MMMMM, good!

Ham & Cheese Sliders @ The Girl Who Ate Everything

I’ve seen this around the blogging world quite a lot, and I’ve made them a few times. The only thing I can say is, UMgaaaaaa!!! These babies are delicious and PERFECT for a pre-BBQ snack or to hold over those slightly inebriated friends of yours!

Heidi’s Famous Baked Beans @ The Girl Who Ate Everything

This recipe looks pretty easy and straight forward. As a girl who tends to buy a can of baked beans, put it in a pan, and add a little bacon and brown sugar, this recipe looks like something I might enjoy even more. And what’s a cookout without some good baked beans?

Fully Loaded Baked Potato Salad @ This is My Key West

I’m not big on potato salad, but this is like a twice baked potato, but BETTER. You can serve this hot or cold (I prefer hot, personally), and this is sure to be a favorite at your celebration!

Mac ‘N Cheese Cupcakes @ Nessa Makes

This is just pure genius! Everyone I know LOVES mac ‘n cheese. And what better way to eat it at a cookout…then with your HANDS?! Perfect for kids, as an appetizer, or as a side dish!

Patriotic Deviled Eggs @ Plain Chicken

Deviled eggs are one of my biggest food weaknesses. I could seriously eat the entire plate of them. THESE deviled eggs are beyond adorable and wonderfully patriotic. All it requires is water, boiled eggs (de-shelled), and food coloring. It does take a couple of hours to dye the eggs, so plan accordingly!

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And there you go! 10 Delicious 4th of July Recipes Sure to Please EVERYONE! We are planning a big cookout at my uncle’s pool this weekend, so I’ll be sure to pass on a few of these to my family so we can try some new recipes!

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