About Ashley

Ashley is very happily married and the mother to a beautiful little girl and handsome little boy. She is the main voice behind Embracing Homemaking.

A Guide to Giving Sympathy Meals

A sympathy meal is one in which you provide to a family who’s suffered a loss, poor health conditions, or similar situation that may leave them feeling down and out. Whatever the reason for your search to give a sympathy meal to someone, this guide will provide you learn how to give a sympathy meal in a way that ensures it’s received with a big smile.

Sympathy Meals

Make a Main Meal

If you’re not up for making a huge meal to provide to a neighbor in need, then you should at least be sure to make the main meal forgiving. Something like a dish of lasagna or a casserole meal that’s more of a nourishing meal will be best.

Avoid Allergens

Make sure you take into consideration food items that others tend to be allergic to. A main meal that includes peanuts or gluten, for example, may not be well-suited for a sympathy meal. Be sure to include a main course meal that avoids common food allergens.

Avoid Strong Foods

Foods such as fish or olives, for example, are items that many will have a strong opinion about. Perhaps they don’t like the smell, taste, or texture. Make sure your main course meal being provided doesn’t have any ingredients that could be considered a strong food that is often disliked by people.

Prepped for Pop and Cook

Make sure that the main meal you are giving as a sympathy meal is made well enough so that the recipient can keep it frozen and then pop it in the oven and cook when ready. Place a little note on the main meal that provides instructions for oven temperature and length of time to cook.

Notify the Family

You’ll know best if it’s okay to disturb the family you’re providing the sympathy meal to or if it’s best to reach out to an extended family member. Make sure that you notify the family of when the meal will be delivered so that they are not being disturbed from anything important going on.

There are people in need all around us in our community. They may not speak up and they may be too prideful to ask for help. This guide to giving sympathy meals is meant to inspire you to give to others in need without making them feel less than worthy. These sympathy meals should be a gentle act of kindness as a means to establish the neighbor helping neighbor mentality in this world again.

5 Charities Kids Can Help With

If you’re a parent who wants to teach your kids the concept of giving and how vitally important this is as a part of society, then you should continue reading this article. There are many ways kids can learn to give back to others in their community. Today, I am sharing 5 charities that your kids can help with; some ideas are perfect for the whole family to be a part of.

5 Charities Your Kids Can Help With

St. Jude

Kids can raise money by hosting a bake sale or having their own lemonade stand. A community yard sale is another great way kids can help to raise funds for this charity. Monies raised can be donated to this charity that’s mission is to find the cure for childhood cancer.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand

Speaking of a lemonade stand, this charity helps kids set up their own stand and in turn, all proceeds are donated to help find a cure for childhood cancer. Register for a lemonade stand and they can receive an event kit which helps to ensure they are able to host a successful charitable lemonade stand.

Habitat for Humanity

This charity encourages kids to be involved in creating art for homeowners that’s then incorporated into the homes they build for families. In addition, kids can collect non-perishable foods for those being helped by this charity.

Kaboom

This is a charity that builds playgrounds and similar structures all over to ensure that playtime is brought back into the lives of kids. Your kids can help this charity by researching any local areas that Kaboom may be able to help near you and in turn, your kids can assist in the building of the playgrounds.

Homeless Shelters

Lastly, there are many homeless shelters around the world these days. These shelters provide food and drink to those who have no home.  You and your kids can take time out of your day once a month to volunteer at these shelters to give back to your local community.

Learning to give back at a young age will instill the habit and tradition of helping with charities and always giving back to others in need. While some charities won’t involve kids at a higher level, even the smallest contribution your kids can make to a charitable organization is well worth it. This life skill is a necessary part of ensuring we’re raising well-rounded kids who grow up to be a positive member of society.

5 Steps to Remove Clutter From Your Life

All of us end up with a clutter filled home and mind throughout our life. With the busy times of keeping up with a career, raising kids and keeping a marriage afloat, there’s no wonder that many of us end up feeling overwhelmed and cluttered. When you realize that clutter has taken over your life and home, there are a few things you can do to help remove this clutter from your life, today I am sharing a few tips to help you become clutter free and in turn feel less stressed.

5 Steps to Remove Clutter from your Life

Tackle Junk Drawers

Most people have a junk drawer in the home that’s full of odds and ends. The first tip to removing clutter from your life is to tackle the junk drawers. Organize each item into a category, then donate or recycle any items that won’t serve a purpose in your life.

Take a Relaxing Bath

If you find that your mind is cluttered, taking a relaxing bath once a week can help to alleviate this clutter in the mind. With our busy lives, we tend to hold so much in our thoughts and in turn can feel overwhelmed and tense. A relaxing weekly bath will remove clutter from your mind easily.

Revamp Daily Routine

As time goes on you will find that your routine becomes cluttered and you simply kept living life every day adding more things to your routine. In time, you have to pause to reflect upon what your daily routine involves. Cut some items from that routine and revamp it so that you feel more relaxed.

Clear off Flat Surfaces

If your home is like mine, the kids and others tend to drop items on that open countertop in the kitchen or the dining room table. Flat surfaces are famous for gaining clutter and it’s time to take back that surface! Make it a rule to never place any items on flat surfaces in the home, put them in their place. (You may also like our Tips for Organizing Kitchen Cabinets)

Designate a Space for Everything

Lastly, in order to maintain your clutter-free lifestyle, you will have to make sure that you have a designated space for everything. Have a family meeting to discuss these changes so that everyone is held accountable for removing the clutter from your life.

There you have it, 5 steps to remove clutter from your life. These tips are meant to inspire you to make a change and work towards living a reduced stress lifestyle. Once you implement these tips, you should feel like a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders and in time feel great about living a clutter-free lifestyle.


Cotton Candy Slime Recipe

This Cotton Candy Slime Recipe is an easy peasy slime that uses liquid starch and not a bit of borax. These lovely pastel colors will have you dreaming of cotton candy, unicorns, fairies, and all things princess.  Find out how to make cotton candy slime by scrolling down.  This post contains affiliate links.

Cotton Candy Slime DIY

To make this cotton candy slime you’ll need:

  • White school glue – I buy glue by the gallon on Amazon.  Tiny bottles make small batches and slime is so addicting.  Go ahead and get the gallon size.  Trust me, you’ll thank me later.  You can find gallons of glue in stores but with the popularity slime has seen recently it’s getting harder and harder to find.
  • Liquid starch – This is another thing that has been increasingly hard to find so I order it with the glue online.
  • Paint – I uses Deco Art Americana Acrylic Paint in Lavender and Flamingo.
  • – 2 separate bowls (or red solo cups but I prefer bowls)
  • – 2 spoons (or wooden craft sticks but I prefer regular kitchen spoons)

COTTON CANDY SLIME EASY RECIPE WITH LIQUID STARCH

Cotton Candy Slime

A FEW QUICK SLIME REMINDERS BEFORE WE GET STARTED MAKING SLIME: Slime is a science project.  It can be absolutely fun to do with kids and teach them about the bonding process that’s happening.  …but because it’s a science it is a little messy and requires patience.  Take your time, experiment with different amounts and you’ll have wonderful cotton candy slime.  Also, don’t let the name fool you, this slime is NOT edible.  Do not eat it.  Please make sure children are supervised and don’t allow children to play with it that may put it in their mouths.

You’ll want to mix each color in it’s separate bowl.

Pour approx 2 cups of white glue into each bowl.  You don’t have to measure it, just guesstimate.  Use as much glue as you want to have slime.

Purple Slime

Add your paint.  Mix.

Making Purple Slime

I know you don’t need a visual of mixing the paint but I just love how pretty this step is!  Once mixed if the color isn’t what you desire, add more.

Slime Process

Once you have your colors just like you want them to be you can move onto the starch.  Please note that spray starch is not the same thing as the liquid version.  Use liquid starch.  Pour in approximately 2-3 Tablespoons and stir.

Personal Tip: I find that big jug of starch hard to control so to avoid pouring too much I pour a small amount into a small bowl and spoon out tablespoons full as needed.  It makes life easier for this clumsy person so I’m sharing in case any of you can relate. 🙂

Stir your mixture for a few minutes to get it all mixed up then take it out and begin kneading it with your hands.

Pink Slime

If it’s still incredibly sticky and is sticking to your fingers add a little more starch.  This is another reason I like to pour the starch into a bowl!  The bowl makes it easy to dip my slime into, knead a little, dip, knead, dip, knead, etc.  Once you get the consistency you like you are golden!

Purple Slime Play

Slime is such a great sensory activity for kids!

Mixing Slime Colors

Mixing Slime Tip: Don’t mix all of your pink and purple up at once.  Mix the slime in smaller batches to enjoy the activity longer.  I’ve found that it’s fun for kids to get to experience the colors mixing and melding over and over…or maybe you just want to have a set of colors to mix for yourself along with your kids!

Mixing Pink and Purple Slime

Look how fun!

Cotton Candy Slime Recipe

I hope you and yours enjoy making slime together as much as my family does.

Cotton Candy Slime

Cotton Candy DIY

Pink and Purple Slime DIY

Do you love this homemade slime recipe and want to see more?

Ocean Waves Slime

Try this Ocean Slime Recipe!

 


5 Best Apps for Homeowners

With more and more of society owning a smartphone and the average person checking their smartphone an approximate 40 times per day, it’s no wonder there are more and more apps available for all walks of life. Whether you’re a homeowner looking to remodel or looking for the best possible apps that help you call the landlord less for basic maintenance, these apps I’m sharing today are the 5 best apps for homeowners.

5 Best Apps for Homeowners

Houzz

This inspirational app is sure to inspire you with your next home remodeling and décor project. Showcasing blog posts, tutorials and design ideas in one simple app. This app showcases items that are found on the Houzz website and will inspire even the least creative homeowner.

BrightNest

This app is the perfect way for homeowners to learn how to make their home a bit brighter without going broke. Money saving tips and eco-friendly ideas combined with healthy eating tips makes this app the perfect one for homeowners looking to stay on budget and live a healthier lifestyle.

AroundMe

This app is the perfect one for homeowners who are looking for a place to eat out, hotel to stay at or pretty much anything that’s around them. If you’ve moved to a location that you’re not familiar with then this pap is a must have for your new home ownership status.

Wunderlist

This is the perfect to-do list app for homeowners to ensure that they’re getting tasks done in a timely fashion. Organize ideas and plans in this easy to use app that can be used for all members of the household that are involved in the design and other homeowner tasks that need to be completed.

Mint

This is the must-have app for homeowners if you want to know where your money is going every month. This app will help to give you a visual of where the money goes and how you spend money to learn how to reduce expenses and increase savings without stressing out.

There you have it 5 best apps for homeowners that will help you with design, budgeting, remodeling and other necessary tasks that arrive when you’re a homeowner. Whether you’re a new homeowner or a long-term homeowner, each of these apps will surely help you handle home ownership with ease.

How to Encourage Good Hygiene Habits in Children

Encouraging good hygiene habits in children can prove to be somewhat difficult. As you may have experienced, some children are wonderful about brushing their teeth, flossing, and using a mouth rinse while other children can give you a hard time about this whole process. If you are one of the many parents with a child who simply cannot stand brushing their teeth, then these tips should help create fewer headaches and better hygiene habits for your child.

How to Encourage Good Hygiene Habits in Children

Start with Basics

Good hygiene habits for children cover more than just brushing their teeth. Items like hand washing, taking showers or baths on a regular basis and being good about flossing are among some of the good hygiene habits a parent must teach a child to do on a regular basis. If your child is struggling with this area in life, start with the basics. Consider hand washing and brushing teeth as your top two basics to start with. Have your child sing happy birthday as they wash their hands. Get a sand timer for teeth brushing time, have our child place it upside down and brush until the sand runs out.

Be the Example

I am sure some parents may be tired of hearing that one option to get any child to do anything is to lead by example. As much as you hear it over and over again during the journey in parenthood, it’s so true. Your children will learn best and have good hygiene habits if you’re setting the example. Take the lead in teeth brushing and hand washing by doing these important hygiene habits with your kids. This helps them see the length of time and how often one should truly be completely proper hygiene tasks.

Explain the Importance

Children usually want to understand the why behind various tasks and habits they must develop in life. While you may be sick of answering the why question all of the time, it’s actually pretty important to explain things to your child. If your child hesitates to practice good hygiene then it’s time to have a sit down to chat about why they must take good care of their body and health. Discuss how sickness and itchy skin or yellow teeth would ultimately lead to extra doctor visits instead of play time, etc. You’ll know the right way to explain the importance of good hygiene to your children in a way that encourages them to be better about taking good care of themselves.

There you have it a few ways you can encourage good hygiene habits in children. Each of these three tips when combined should help make the teeth brushing, shower time, and hand washing time be stress-free and more fun as time goes on.

How to Stay Strong with Resolutions for New Year

If you made a New Year’s resolution this season, then chances are you may be among the many people who swear to make a change but often end up giving up at some point in the first quarter of the year. New Year’s resolutions come with the right mindset, a person wants to be better, do better and such but they lack the necessary thought process to ensure their resolution sticks. Today, I am sharing some tips on how to stay strong with your resolution this year.

How to Stay Strong with Resolutions for New Year

Small Changes

The first steps to ensure you stay strong with your resolutions this New Year is to commit to small changes. Perhaps your full resolution is larger than life and in turn, you’ve set yourself up for failure. Take that resolution and break it down into smaller changes and you’ll remain strong.

Reward Yourself

As you achieve each small change during the process of staying strong with your resolutions for the New Year, reward yourself. Having some sort of reward system in place for every successful step will ensure your mind stays on the ultimate goal; your full resolution.

Write Resolution

Have a pad of small note paper near your desk or in the kitchen, keep it in a place where you can access it on a regular basis. Write your resolution every day so that your mind is focused on that end goal of whatever you’ve set your mind to for the New Year.

Know the Why

Anyone who remains strong with their resolution in the New Year has a strong why behind their resolution. Think about why you want to achieve this resolution.   Once you have your big why write it down and keep that reason awake in your mind so that you remain strong and committed to this change.

Accountability Partner

Consider gathering a group of people who want to stay strong with resolutions for the New Year too. This group will help you to hold yourself accountable as you travel along the path that is a positive change in your life.

There you have it, a few tips on how you can stay strong with resolutions for the New Year. Each of these tips will surely help you be successful with whatever you’ve set your mind to achieve this year.

Tips to Declutter your Mind

This post contains affiliate links.

Tips to Declutter your Mind

Do you feel like your mind is on full? Has life simply become very overwhelming and you have difficulties focusing on daily tasks? This happens to the best of us. With the busy lifestyle so many live these days it’s no wonder we neglect to take care of our own minds. While tidying up your home may feel great and be necessary, there’s another area in life that we must declutter in order to keep our life stress free. Today, I am sharing tips to declutter your mind because once you’ve decluttered the home; it’s time to clear out those thoughts that hold you back from living to your full potential.

Post-it Sticky Notes

Use Sticky Notes

When you’re raising a family often times there is a lot more stress on your shoulders as you try to remember everything for everyone. You aren’t a robot and you don’t have to keep all data in your mind. Use sticky notes to jot down daily to-do lists or events that are coming up until you can transfer them to a calendar. This will help declutter your mind and make room for other thoughts that help you regain inner peace.

Journal

Let go of Worries

Use a journal to write down your worries or things that kept your mind full during the day. Having a journal that you write thoughts into each night will help declutter your mind as you pull them from the brain and place them on that paper. You can use an actual journal (the beautiful one above is only $20 on Amazon) or a pad of paper by your nightstand and get into the practice of writing down worries every night before bed.  The Zebra Sarasa gel pens come in an array of beautiful colors and they make writing so much more fun for me.  If writing your thoughts is difficult to begin with try writing with a fun pen and keep writing and doodling till it comes more naturally.

Multitasking

Focus on One thing at a Time

This is the perfect step to decluttering your mind because you let go of the bigger picture and only focus on one thing at a time. If you have a large to-do list every day, make sure you focus on one task at a time and move onto the next task once the first one is complete. This will easily allow you to let go of multi-tasking to the point that you’re stressing yourself out.  As it turns out, studies now say that multitasking isn’t really good for you anyway.  #Mono-tasking

Declutter Your Mind

Pay Attention to Important Stuff

Only allow thoughts that matter to take up space in your mind. We can get into information overload easily with social media and family but in order to fully declutter your mind, you’ll have to learn to only pay attention to the important stuff. Each day we hear so many things that aren’t important and they consume a large part of our mind, let that nonsense go and only hold important thoughts in your mind.

There you have it, tips to declutter your mind so that you can have less stress, less worry and in turn live a more peaceful life. These tips should help inspire anyone to get a head start to decluttering their mind for happier living.

Instant Pot Applesauce Recipe

Instant Pot Applesauce

I love applesauce and my family eats so much of it!  I used to make small batches of it when I only had one little one but after my son came along I gave in and began buying it.  Now that my family is eating more and more applesauce (the kids eat it daily with their probiotic mixed in) I wanted to find a way to make it in bulk at home.  My friend Jennifer shared her Instant Pot Applesauce Recipe with me and I’m excited to share it with you.

Ingredients:

  • -8 apples, chopped (she used a full 3 lb bag)
  • -1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • -1 teaspoon salt
  • -1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • -Juice of one lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • -1/2 cup water

Directions:

  • -Place chopped apples in the Instant Pot and toss to coat with all ingredients except water.
  • -Secure Instant Pot lid and place on manual pressure for 10 minutes, or up to 20 if you want to really caramelize your applesauce.
  • -Mash up the cooked apples with a potato masher or blend it up in a blender to achieve your desired consistency.
  • -Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

I’m just learning to use my Instant Pot (well, mine is a different brand but same concept) for things other than the few pasta dishes I know.  What are some of your favorite Instant Pot recipes?

Things to do With Leftover Christmas Cards

Now that the holiday season is over, you may find that you have an abundance of Christmas cards laying around the home. Throwing these Christmas cards away may seem like a horrible idea because you want to recycle and reuse them to cherish the memories of this past Christmas season. Today, I am sharing a few things you can do with leftover Christmas cards so you can hang onto those memories forever.  This post contains affiliate links.

Things to do With Leftover Christmas Cards

2 inch blocks

Christmas Card Wooden Blocks

Gather up some 2” wooden blocks and spray paint them in various colors. While the wooden blocks are drying, cut out the letters from Christmas cards that have words like “joy”, “merry” and similar words. Use a tool to cut the square blocks of plain color cardstock and use adhesive to apply the letters one at a time to the cardstock.  Spray adhesive or Mod Podge would work. Then apply the cardstock (or you could skip the cardstock step) with letters and other décor pieces from the Christmas cards onto each wooden block on all sides to have a decorative design that showcases your cards.  A layer of Mod Podge would be good to coat the entire block again…the glitter Mod Podge could look really nice!

Christmas Card Picture

Pick up some frames from a thrift store or find some that are being unused within your home. Cut the best Christmas cards out in a way that will allow them to fit into the frame. Find a background that you like from on hand craft supplies, like cardstock or colored paper. Match it up so that you can apply the cutout from the Christmas card to this colored background. Then place this into the frame with a ribbon on the top to hang from the wall.

Christmas Card Postcards

Take some of the Christmas cards that are empty on the inside of that front cover and cut them down into a postcard size. Keep these on hand to send out throughout the year to make someone’s day special. Receiving snail mail is a great way to brighten someone’s day and this is a fabulous way to reuse your Christmas cards and spread that joy to others throughout the year.  We learned this trick from an old Mister Roger’s episode.  🙂

Christmas Card Placemats

This will be a fun project to do with your kids. Create placemats for your dining room table with the old Christmas cards. This is a great way to create décor for holiday gatherings, birthday parties and other social events you host within your home. The kids will enjoy cutting out old Christmas cards with you and placing them together in a way that creates a new decorative placemat for your family to enjoy.  A laminator would come in handy for this or maybe a healthy dose of Mod Podge.

Christmas Card Bookmarks

My kids love books so bookmarks are always on short supply.  That’s why homemade bookmarks are a favorite craft around our home.  You could cut along a lovely pattern and even hole punch it and add some matching string through the top.  Not only would these be great to keep for yourself but they would make great gifts for others too.

Christmas Card Family/Friend Reminders

This is a great way to remember to write, call, email, and/or pray for your family and friends through the year.  You could hole punch them and put them on a ring to cycle through throughout the year.  This is what our family does and I absolutely love this tradition.

There you have it a few things to do with leftover Christmas cards so that you can use them throughout the year. You can also use these ideas to spread joy to loved ones and friends throughout the year. It’s a great way to spread kindness by sharing the joy you felt when that Christmas card first arrived in your home.