Posted on December 28th, 2016

​​Thank you all for coming to our favorite meeting of the year!

Its a time to get together and share our favorite things - maybe you'll find a new favorite thing among this list.

All links point the the item you shared with us!  If any edits are needed to what you shared (e.g. I included wrong link/description)- please let me know!

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Christmas! See you in 2017!

Jesus Storybook bible
Fun pictures and description for kids. Ties each story back to Jesus. 
​Find it on

Instagram boutique. Shirts, pants, dresses. They will do sales on grab bags at the end of season. Super cute stuff!

Grace and Lace
As seen on Shark Tank (cool!). Lace extender cami to wear under shirts to wear with leggings. (genius!). Also sell scarves, boot cuffs, leg warmers and more!

Jamie Ivy (Happy Hour) podcast.
Jame is the wife of pastor of Austin Stone. Christian podcast. Inteviews of women, public speakers, authors, entrepenours. Initaitve to stop sex trafficing.​
$8month. 60 page books shipped to you every month - your pics from instagram! Dates printed on spine!

Shawn King
Social justice writer for the Daily News. Initiative to bring justice for all. Daily emails for things we can do to poistiivly impact the cause.( ex: tweet the mayor of NY to bring justce for a police brutatliy issue, reading articles)

Borrow eBooks, audiobooks, and more from your local public library - anywhere, anytime. All you need is a library card!​

If It Fits Your Macros
Calculate calories, carbs, protein.
(recommendation for a treat: Halo ice cream: low cal, low fat, low carb, high protein)​

Name Bubbles
Allergy alert labels, labels for kids belongings (coats, bottles). Dishwasher/microwave/washer safe.

8x8 photobooks. Many layout options. Easy (simple!) to make!​

You submit picture and they make a postcard and mail it for you! They also do photo mosaics and other photo printing services.​ 

Acure Yummy Baby 4-in-1 wash
Natural, good for kids with dry skin. 
Find it at Target

Nineveh Ministries
Empowers juvenile offenders to find purpose, personal growth, and achievement through the life changing reality of Jesus Christ. Their vision is to implement an effective juvenile offender ministry model throughout every county in Texas.
*Etsy site sells ornaments (repurposes old pallets) that the juvenile offenders make to help them reform. (I cannot find the Etsy site! I apologize!)

HEB Curbside
Order groceries online!! $5 fee for service. (Going into the store is SO 2016!)​
(side note: I heard some scuttlebutt about there being a $99/yr option to have groceries delivered to your house. I haven't found anything to confirm! But it'd be pretty cool!) - Not Your Grandma's Coupon Site (That made me giggle)
She provides readers daily coupons, online deals, freebies, and more!​​

MOMs club
​Support group designed just for the at-home mother!  Cedar park has a group. Playdates, moms night outs, etc)​

Rebates from your receipt! Scan your receipt, get rebates. (Rebates I've gotten from this app have provided many hours of caffeine enjoyment...FREE Starbucks for stuff I'm gonna buy anyway? Sweet!)​

Pinterest recipe: 3 ingredient orange chicken.
Quick recipe! (orange marmelade, soy sauce, bbq sauce)
Many variations of this recipe on Pinterest! 

The Wonder Weeks app
Keeps you informed about the (mental) leaps and bounds of your baby — any time of day or night. 
It describes in in-depth and easy-to-understand terms the incredible developmental changes that all babies go through, the app is the perfect companion element to track your baby’s mental development (during the first 20 months).​

Cuddle + Kind
Ethically produced, hand-knit dolls that help feed children​. 1 doll=10 meals​

Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken
Easy crockpot meal with things you're likely to already have!

Kickstarter helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality.​​


Pretend Soup
A cookbook for preschoolers
(also Pretend Salad and more)
Find it on Amazon

Bare Minerals Lip Gloss
Lips look fuller and more voluptuous. Naturally-derived Shea, Avocado and Murumuru butters help to deeply hydrate and smooth lips while an infusion of minerals revitalizes lips for a healthy-looking pout. All the while, an encapsulated vitamin A, C and E complex helps to deliver antioxidant defense, so you're ready for anything-and everything. (I WANT EVERY COLOR!),en_US,pd.html​

Bed Head Afterparty
(aint no party like a stay-at-home-mom party!)
For silky, smooth, shiny, healthy looking hair. Control the funky fly-aways and silk-ify your hair.​​

Sugar Lip Balm - Sephora
With SPF 15
moisturizes, protects, and smooths the lips​. 
In an independent consumer testing panel on 22 subjects, after 4 weeks of twice-daily application of Sugar Passion Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15:
- Keep lips moisturized for up to 6 hours after initial application
- 97% said it produced softer, soothed lips 
- 94% said it improved the appearance of dry, chapped lips and noticed more hydrated, healthier-looking lips 
- 90% said it retexturized the lips 
- 87% said it prevents dryness​​

Wreck This Journal
An illustrated book that features a subversive collection of prompts, asking readers to muster up their best mistake- and mess-making abilities to fill the pages of the book (and destroy them). Acclaimed illustrator Keri Smith encourages journalers to engage in "destructive" acts-poking holes through pages, adding photos and defacing them, painting with coffee, and more-in order to experience the true creative process. Readers discover a new way of art and journal making-and new ways to escape the fear of the blank page and fully engage in the creative process.​​

Noonday Collection
Noonday partners with talented artisan entrepreneurs to make a difference in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. By developing artisan businesses through fair trade, we empower them to grow sustainably and to create dignified jobs for people who need them. Together we’re building a flourishing world where children are cherished, women are empowered, people have jobs and we are connected.​

Posted on January 12th, 2016

Wow! 2015 flew by and we are in 2016. Welcome back to MOPS!

We enjoyed a delicious brunch and I hope you all had some time to chat and connect with the ladies at your table. 
I pray that lasting friendships are formed at your tables this semster and that you are able to feel connected, supported and refreshed when you leave the MOPS meetings!

I want to thank Karen Melles for coming to speak with us about marriage.  She has a lovely, God-centered marriage and I know that I can’t be the only one who left the meeting feeling absolutely inspired!

Here are the notes I took during her talk.  If you missed the meeting, I encourage you to read on. This is some great information!! (Links at the end to a couple of specific things that were mentioned) 
And for you that were there, if there was anything else she said that I missed (or you'd like to elaborate on) please comment on this blog post and share with us. :) 

A Dummies Guide to a Happy Marriage. 

You can have a happy marriage, even if you grew up with a negative marriage role model.

1) God FIRST!
How do you put God first in your marriage? 
Imagine God at the top of a mountain. Climb the mountain to get closer to Him together. 
Close to God —> closer together. 
Do not give up. 
- Pray TOGETHER! There is an intimacy that forms when a couple prays together. It doesnt have to be a marathon prayer session - start with a sentence!  Your prayer lives will grow with your relationship
- Serve together. Work for God together. 

2) Have FUN!
Remember what it was like before kids? Make time to enjoy each other again. 
*Your relationship with your husband is WAY more important than the relationship with your husband*
Your children need that strong marriage relationship role model. 

3) No competition
Do not compete. Do not be threatened by his strengths. We are there to complement eachother. 
Use your spiritual gifts to build your husband up!

4) Make your home a refuge
Make your hsuband feel welcome in his home. Make him WANT to come home.  Do not be too busy to make your house a home.  Your marriage is so important.  Have your kids get excited about him coming home. He will feel so special, appreicated, and loved when all his loved ones greet him!
Initiate evening devotionals as a family. 
Handling arguments/diagreements: apologize that the two of you disagreed. Don’t lie and say you are wrong if you don't believe you are. Say you are sorry that the argument is happening. 
You can build him up, or tear him down. What you do will have an impact on your marriage. Do not go bed angry, swallow your pride. 

5) Emotional needs.
Respect everyone.  Build up your husband, make him feel good about himself. Complement him. Your husband needs unconditional respdct, just like you want unconditional love.  He needs respect - if you dont respect him, someone else might!
Encourage him to be the spiritual leader. 
*Find out what your love language is, and share what your love language is with your husband. 

6) Physical needs.
Men (generally) need more sex than women do.
You do not want him going away to work if he needs that physical need met.
Suprise him! Initiate it ;)

7) Attraction to others
It will happen. There will be chemistry that will happen. Don't think just because you are happy in your marriage that it wont happen, it will. But, don't ruin your life or your kids' life. Dont act on that attraction. 

8) Start and finish with God. 
Amazing marriages come from God. Keep him in the center of your marriage. Pray and read Gods word together as a couple. 


Marks and Spencer (matching bra and underware, ladies!)

Love Languages

by Amy Bush on December 16th, 2015

​Thank you all for coming to our favorite meeting of the year! Its a time to get together and share our favorite things - maybe you'll find a new favorite thing among this list.

All links point the the item you shared with us!  If any edits are needed to what you shared (e.g. I included wrong link/description)- please let me know!

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Christmas! See you in 2016!

Jesus Storybook Bible
Fun pictures and description for kids.  Ties each story back to Jesus.
Find it on

Usborne books - Shine a Light Series
Use a flashlight/phone light for hidden picture in the pages. (6 different books/themes!)

Carrie Elle meal planner
Includes weekly list for meals and perforated grocery list.

Seamless bible study by Angie Smith
Understanding the bible as one complete story.
Find it at

Telehealth provider. 24/7/365 access to U.S. board-certified doctors. Phone/Skype to diagnose and obtain prescription if needed. Cost varies, depending on health care plan.

The Game of Things board game 
Hilarious game of fun topics and hearing others’ responses!
Find it on

The 12 Lays of Christmas
no description needed ;) See link for details, ladies! Have fun!
Love Actually blog post

Peanut Butter and Cupcake by Terry Border
Fun kids book with puns, plays on words and jokes! Good book about friendships
Find it on

NanKing Chinese Restaurant
Yelp review
(online ordering!!!) 

Weighted blankets 
Beneficial for autistic kids, anyone with stress/anxiety/restess legs.
(here is an example of a weighted blanket merchant)

Clothespin bucket for chore assignment 
Unclip the pin when the chore has been completed and place in bucket. Each kid gets their own bucket - great way to encourage independence in chores!
Pinterest link to similar ideas

Lapsit program at Cedar Park Library
For moms and babies 0-12months. Miss Jane uses singing/signs/puppets/manipulatives to entertain babies!

Preventative lice spray
Easy DIY! Glass spray bottle: 3/4 part distilled water, 1/4 part rubbing alcohol/clear liquor, lemon essential oil, tea tree essential oil, peppermint essential oil.
Spray on hair every morning as part of grooming routine and voila - prevent kiddos from lice! 
Pinterest link to similar ideas

Blessing jars
Write your blessings on strips of paper and at the end of week/month/year, you can read all the blessings you’ve received
Helps to remember how blessed we are. It's great that it gets the kids involved, too!
Pinterest link to similar ideas

Homemade deodorant
Equal part coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda, eseential oils for scent.  Inexpensive, nontoxic, and it works!
Pinterest link to similar ideas

At-home lice treatment
Canola/olive oil to saturate head and comb through with fine comb. Wash hair with dawn to kill the lice. 

Milk nursing wear
Cute nursing tops. Easy access for nursing babies.

Mineral Fusion powder with zinc oxide
one step sunscreen/powder!
***not sure if this is the EXACT one that was shown at our meeting: let me know if I need to update this link!***

Home Organization
Use clear shoe organizer for back of pantry door/closet door for cups, straws, gift supplies/greeting cards. Genius!
Pinterest link for similar ideas

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Allan and Janet Ahlberg
The Chrismas edition of the Jolly Postman series. 
Lots of interactive pieces, pop-ups, puzzles.
Find it on

Alexa on Amazon Echo (Bluetooth speaker)
Ask Alexa questions (whats the weather?), have her turn on music, and even add items to your grocery list - all by voice commands. 
Find it on

Stickers for kids' stuff: sippy cups, shoes, jackets. “If found” labels.
​Washing machine/dishwasher safe.

Buckle Toy
Different fasteners to keep kids busy: Zippers, straps, buttons
Buckle toy website
Find on on

Meer Designs Clutch
black/brown reversible (and super cute!)

E.L.F Eyelid Primer
only $2!

Cornstarch for dry shampoo
Sprinkle on hair with a salt shaker, or just apply with fingers. Let it sit for a few minutes and brush/shake out! Works great when applied before betime - will wake up with a refreshed ‘do!

MaryKay TimeWise Firming Eye Cream
Get rid of the classic mom look: tired eyes!

Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow
A book about the pressures and anxiety we create in our lives. Helps us discover the blessings in our lives and to be content. 
Find it at

Health and welness products. Protein powder, skin care, cosmetics, shampoos/conditioners and supplements ​

Happy Hour Podcast by Jamie Ivey
Podcast about girl talk​
On iTunes

Shoe organizer for kids clothes
Put an outfit into each cubby (one for every day of the week!) so kids can have the independence of picking out clothes, with the conviencence of pre-matching by mom! 

Historical heroes shirts for kids by Wee Rascals
“Real Heroes are the Best Heroes”!
Historical, real life heros (Amelia Earheart, lincoln, Einstein…) on shirts for kids.

Contingo water bottle
won’t leak!

Fair trade shopping (Ethical apparel)
Beautiful clothes!
Elegantees has joined the fight againt sex trafficking by helping provide a new life for those brought out of it.
Sudara PJ pants: made by women in India who are free from sex trafficking
Evan Brooke ethical clothing

L’bri skin care 
Aloe based skin scare product

Honest Company 
eco-friendly baby products
Get free samples on their website

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown
A great way to talk to kids about serious life topics is through play and books. This book explains in simple language the feeling people may have about death of a loved one.
Find it on

The Care and Keeping of You by Valorie Schaefer
Answers questions preteen girls have about their bodies. It offers guidance on basic hygiene and health without addressing issues of sexuality.
Find it on

Journaling idea to connect with daughter
Every day, mom and daughter write down what was good and bad during the day. Creates an opportunity for good communication beftween mom and daughter.

Kyocera grating dish
Easy grating (and clean up!) of ginger/parmesean/garlic. 
Find it on

Adams Reserve House All-Purpose Rub
Great all-purpose rub for meats and veggies. Available locally at HEB

Serial podcast

The Wonderful Truth About Santa by B.K. Gendron
A book that talks about the origin of the tradition of Santa when they ask if Santa is real. It teaches that St. Nick was a real person who gave without wanting recongnition and encourages giving out of love. 
Find it on

Erin Condren planner
Personal organizers, completely customizeable! You can get different inserts including meal planners, grocery list, budgeting tool, birthday reminder page, stickers, etc.

Exchange love notes with spouse
Write on the class of a picture frame (personalize with pretty scrapbook paper with stickers) with marker for you and husband to write messages back and forth to eachother to stay connected in a busy world.

Rise protein bars
5 or less ingredients! Delicious and good for on-the-go! (Great for those busy *and hungry* nursing mothers)
Can find them locally at Sprouts.

Posted on October 26th, 2015

On our October 5th meeting, Kandy Glass with FaceKandy gave us a great Makeup Demo with great tips on applying makeup.

We learned about how to chose the right foundation shade, how to pick the correct tools to use, and some great skin care tips.

She provides makeup services for weddings, special events, photo shoots
Head on over to Kandy's website and FB page for more info!



Posted on October 26th, 2015

This blog post is long overdue!  I apologize for the delay

On September 28th, our MOPS meeting included a visit from Pat Schaerdel with Sole Hope.
Sole Hope provides shoes to children in Uganda to protect them from jiggers AND helps African men and women learn a trade - making shoes!

During the meeting, we watched an amazing video about the mission of Sole Hope and used templates to cut out denim pieces for the shoes. 
You guys, I just LOVE when we get to have a cutting party for Sole Hope during the meetings. Its an amazing cause and I know I'm not the only one who was excited to be part of it!

If you want to know more about Sole Hope (even host a cutting party at your home!), visit their website!


Posted on September 21st, 2015

Our first meeting of the year was a success! Thank you to all who attended, and we missed those of you who couldn't make it. 

Thanks to Arlene for introducing us all to our theme of the year, A Fierce Flourishing!
The first meeting was about getting to know our table members and have some fun. After fellowship and brunch, we played games at our tables and had a blast! We are so excited for a year of growth, flourishing, and new friends!

See you at our next meeting!

Posted on December 14th, 2014

​Ok ladies, I tried to recap ALL the favorite things and organize them by categories.  Hopefully all the names and links are correct.  Please forgive me if I missed anything or confused any item, just respond to the blog and I can be sure to add/change it.  I have already started trying some of these items and cannot wait to find more! Have fun trying new things! :)
​​Favorite Website or Blog: (or follow on Facebook) (or follow on Facebook to get discounts) (includes all characters to color) (discount site similiar to

​Favorite Apps:
Instagram @woahwaitwalmart
Instagram @targetdoesitagain
Instagram @marriage365

Facebook Ann Voskamp (posts quotes specifically for moms)
Waterlogue $1.99 (turns pictures into watercolors)
Santa'a Bag free version or upgraded for more info (keeps track of gifts and budgets)

Favorite Items:
Moving Comfort sports bra (Amazon or Running store) 
Suave organic detangler conditioner (Target)
Skin So Soft (best mosquito spray) 
Nexcare band-aids (Very sticky like tattoos, not scratchy)
Lap Straps ($20 made by Kim)
Essential Oils (Young Living, Christmas Spirit)
Momagenda  (day planner)  
Kids clock (Onaroo-Amazon)
Oil diffuser with Doterra Breathe (for congestion)
Sleep and Shine hair product (Target)-I didn't get the brand so please let me know 
Stand Up Tree Skirt (Amazon $25)
Soft glove for cutting (HEB, Sur la Table)
Magnetized scissors for all food prep (Kitchenaid at Costco or Amazon)
Vintage bonnet ( store-sewdesign4u, for baby girls, bonnets change into handkerchiefs for wedding)
Pinata Tradition (Naomi Marcus will make these to sell)
FX Curls Up and Curl Booster (Walmart) keeps hair soft
Advocare Spark Energy drink
Manuka Raw Honey (Whole Foods from New Zealand) great for allergies, sinuses, coughs
Mitten Suspenders (Suspended Animation)  
Cuff Earrings (  
iSlice (Amazon or Container Store) opens boxes easily, magnetic
Faded Glory scarves (Walmart 2 for $5)
Snap Circuits Jr. (Amazon $20) great for 6 years+
iGrill Mini (Amazon $40) wireless thermometer for the grill or smoker, send temp. to iphone

Favorite Books or TV shows:
The Daytripper (Tv show on PBS)
Who's Coming to Our House by Joseph Slate
The Jesus Storybook Bible (favorite bible for 5 years, not too childish)
The Complete Herb Book (how to grow and cook herbs)
Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems
The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novack
All Lori Wick or Francine Rivers books
Sophie's Heart by Lori Wick

Favorite Services, Activities or Shops:
Kendra Scott (50% off during your birthday month)
Amanda North Photography
Charlotte Backus (hairstylist by Cedar Park library)
Mosquito Joe 512-961-4884 Referred by Maureen Blake
Embellish Nail Salon (2 locations) 

Favorite Advice:
Put kids crib mattress on the floor so they cannot climb out
Best way to cook a large turkey faster-spatchcock

Favorite Recipes:
Pasta e Fagioli
1 lb ground beef
3/4 cup onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, slivered
1 cup celery, diced
24 oz canned diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans
1 can white kidney beans
44 oz beef stock
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/4 tsp pepper
2 1/2 tsp parsley
24 oz spaghetti sauce
ditali pasta

​Saute beef in large pot until beef starts to brown.  Add onions, carrots, celery, and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse beans and add to pot.  Add beef stock, oregano, parsley, pepper, and spaghetti sauce.  Simmer approximately 30 minutes until celery and carrots are tender.  Cook noodles in separate pot and serve with soup.

5 Minute Coconut Fudge (from "My Sweet Vegan" by Hannah Kaminsky
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup dutch cocoa powder
2 Tblsp margarine
1/2 cup regular coconut milk
(Kristen uses a full fat can of coconut milk from Whole Foods, scoop out thick coconut part)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
lightly greased 8x8 baking pan

In a large bowl, combine the chocolate chips, sugar, and cocoa.  Separately place the margarine and coconut milk in a small saucepan and stir together over medium heat.  Cook the mixture until the margarine has melted, and bubbles begin to break into the surface.  Remove it from the stove and pour over the chocolate mixture.  Let sit for a couple of minutes, and then stir vigorously to melt the chocolate and incorporate the dry ingredients.  Continue stirring until mixture is smooth.  Mix in vanilla and pour into prepared pan.  Smooth out the top and sprinkle the coconut evenly over the surface.  Press the coconut into the fudge with the palm of hand.  Let cool before cutting into squares.
​Makes 32 small squares
Note from Kristen: If the chocolate does not melt all the way, put the mixing bowl (glass or metal) on top of the pot that heated up the coconut milk like a double boiler.  That should be enough heat to melt it fully.

Posted on September 18th, 2014

Thank you so much for attending our first meeting of the year.  Ashley and Casey did a fabulous job introducing our theme this year 'Be You Bravely.'  Mary Kelly shared with us her testimony about her journey to being brave. We hope everyone will choose something to strive to be brave with this year.  Hopefully you were able to get to know the people at your tables a little and start the journey to finding other mom friends that can help you out this year.  We look forward to seeing you at the next meeting, September 29, 2014.

Posted on January 13th, 2014

What a great talk we had today!  Big thanks goes out to our special speaker, Laura Maniccia, for reminding us about the importance of connection, balance, nutrition and fitness.  Here's a recap of her talks along with the names of the apps, and books that she recommended to us.  I have also included her contact information if you are interested in more info on stroller strides or fit after baby classes.  As a side note, you should be able to click on any website address or book and be taken directly there on a new tab in your browser.

1. Name the top three most important things in your life.

2.  The one prerequisite to making these things a success is to love yourself first.
a. This means Love yourself
b. Accept yourself for who you are, faults included
c. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes.  Extend yourself grace.

3. What does loving yourself mean?
a. For Laura it means developing a stong sense of self through food and fitness.

Apps to help with nutrition and fitness:
1. My Fitness Pal
2. Livestrong
3. My Diet Tracker
4. Calorie Counter

4. Foodie Talk
a. Abs are made in the kitchen
b. Food is fuel. You get what you put into it.
c. You are what you eat, don't be fast, easy, cheap or fake.
d. Food is the most over-used anxiety drug, and fitness is the most under-used         anti-depressant.

5. What changes have been in our food cycle?
a. Early 1990's big changes began to happen with the production of specialized hormones to help stimulate milk production in cows.
b. It was never proved safe or unsafe.  So the US allowed it.  $$ production.
c. The results in the cows were:
1. Mastitis
2. Ovarian Cysts
3. Lameness
4. Skin disorders
d. Since the implementation of these protiens it has opened the doors for other chemicals and hormones to be added to food products resulting in an increase in food allergies among children and adults.

6. Read! Educate! Change!
1. Robyn O'Brien
2. Dr. Alan Greene
3. TedX Talks on Youtube
4. Various Food Bloggers (great recipe tips and ideas)

7. Fitness
a. fitness - \'fit-nәs\ - The quality or state of being fit
b. This means YOU get to define what fitness is to you!
1.What are your goals?
2. What are your limits?
3. What are your rules?

8. Resolutions vs. REAL Change
a. Resolutions say:
1. I'll lose "SOME" weight
2. I'll go to the gym "MORE".
3. I'll eat "HEALTHIER".
b. Real Change is says:
1. I'll lose 10 lbs by April 10th.  (Concrete number goal and date)
2. I'll go to the gym 4 times a week and spend 45 min working out.
3.  I am eliminating all processed foods.

9. 12 New Monthly Healthy Habits:
a. January - Eat veggies with your snacks or meals at least three times per day.
b. February - Cut your processed sugars in 1/2 (or altogether).
c. March - Drink your water, 64oz EVERY single day!
d. April - Get your sweat on most days of the week!  20 min counts!
e. May - Stop eating foods with hydrogenated oils, trans-fats, and high fructose corn syrup.
f. June - Get at least 8 hours of sleep a day.
g. July - Go meatless at least one day a week.
h. August - Meditate (or sit in silence) 10 min every day.
i. September - Kick it up a notch, increase the duration or intensity of your workouts.
j. October - Eat your good fats, get your Omega 3's with foods like Salmon and walnuts.
k. November - Be grateful.  Gratitude is good for your health. Practice it daily.
l. December - Meditate (or sit in silence) 10 min a day.

10. Get down to business with fitness.
a. The essential components of a Mom.
1. Core
2. Arms
3. Legs
4. Back

11. A few of Laura's favorite things to build those muscles.
a. Plank
1. Plank challenge
2. Rock on your toes.
b. Full Sit-ups
1. Add a pulse in the middle
c. Push-Ups
1. Hold at the bottom
d. Squats
1. Add weights by your sides or at your shoulders
2. Add a jump!

12. When your Pregnant:
a. Add 300 calories prior to your work-out
1. Smoothie (Spinach + Raspberries + Pineapple + Milk or Almond Milk + Ice)
2. Peanut butter on toast + a banana
3. Boiled egg with toast + 1/2 an apple
b. Ask your doctor about your exercise plan
c. ACOG guidelines includes that you should "work-out all if not most days of the week" to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
d. A body in motion stays in motion.
e. Dr. Alan Clapp's book: Exercising Through Your Pregnancy

13. Resources and where to start:
a. Fit 4 Mom Facebook page:
b. Local Pages -
1. Fit 4 Mom Austin - Stroller Strides:
2. Fit 4 Moms Austin - Body Back:
c. Pintrest
1. Search Abs
d. Local groups/friends

14. Running
a. Running can be a bit challenging at first, but once you find your rhythm, it can be fun and even relaxing.  It is also a MAJOR Calorie burner approximately 100 calories for every mile.  So throw the little ones in the stroller, or go solo and hit the pavement ladies!

Running Chart:

Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun

Wk 1: 15 min. off 15 min. off 15 min 20 min. off
Wk 2: 15 min. off 15 min. off 15 min 20 min off
Wk 3: 20 min. off 20 min. off 20 min 30 min. off
Wk 4: 20 min. off 20 min

15.  Fit 4 Mom Austin:
a. Stroller Strides:
1. Northwest Austin:  (Steiner Ranch, Springwoods Park)
2. Cedar Park:  (Lakeline Mall, Anderson Mill West Park)
3. Round Rock:  (Cat Hollow Park)
4. Pflugerville:  (Pluger Park)
5. Georgetown:  (Berry Springs Park)
b. Body Back:
1. Steiner Ranch
a) M/W at 7:30pm starting 1/20
b) T/TH at 9:30am starting 1/21
2. Round Rock / Leander
a) M/W at 6:15pm at Southwest Williamson County Regional Park, starts 1/27

Contact Information:

Laura Maniccia
Phone: (512) 914-2237

Posted on December 11th, 2013

Here's the slide show from our November 18th meal planning and money saving meeting.  Each slide is 25 sec long, so pause or skip to the next slide when watching!  Hope this helps!  Sorry it took so long for me to get it up!

Posted on December 11th, 2013

Ok, ladies, I'm going to try and do my best to recap ALL the favorite things in a some what orderly/organized fashion.  I'll be putting each thing into categories, Website/blog, App, Item, books, Service, and recipes.  I'll do my best to try and add a link to each item, where to find it etc.  Forgive me if I missed anything or confused any item, please just respond to the blog and I can be sure to add/change it.  We had some really amazing things shared this year, I'm excited to try some of these things!  :)  So here goes nothing!

Favorite Website/Blog:

Jen Hatmaker's Blog:

Free fun in Austin:


Home made cleaning recipes:  (Laundry sauce was the item mentioned from this site)

Healthy Recipes/healthy living ideas:

Free Crochet tutorials and patterns:

House of Rose Blog:

What Kelly Said:


You Version Bible App and You Version Kid's Bible App


Focus on the Family

Plugged in (also at

Grocery IQ

Flip Book

Granny's Bible Dojo


Lose it

Cartwheel (Target's coupon app)


Aroma Beads Candles - Walmart $5

Herb Scissors -

This Old Grout Grout Cleaner and Grout Sealer -

Holy Smokers Pineapple Habanero Barbeque Sauce:

Victoria Secret Makeup Remover - Victoria's Secret and:

Fronterra Texas Skillet Taco Sauce - HEB

Grapefruit Seed Extract (used as an all natural disinfectant) -

Advocare Spark Energy Drink -

Nose Frida -

Doctor Mom Otoscope -

Cut Arts Silhouettes by Karl Johnson $25 per silhouette -

Cookie Butter - Trader Joe's

Julio's Mild Salsa and Chips - HEB

Chef Boyardee's Pizza Maker Kit (Be sure to get the Cheese one NOT the Pepperoni one) -  HEB or Randall's

Baby Bjorn -

Dutch Oven - HEB $30 or

Aveda Smooth Infusion Hair Serum -

Kevin Murphy Young Again Hair Serum -

Barefoot Chardonnay - Local Grocery Stores

Marshmallow Kiss Bath and Body Works Body Spray -

Treats Lip Balm -

Clover Pom-pom Maker -

Nursing Scarf by Infinity Mom -

Dry Shampoo (Several different Manufacturers) - Local Grocers or Walmart or

Neutrogena Anti Wrinkle Cream -

Popcorn Topping (White Cheddar, but comes in assorted flavors) - HEB or other local grocers

L'Oreal Color Riche Balm - Local Grocers or

Hobby Lobby Scarves $6.99 - Hobby Lobby

Wet Brush -

Bed Head Deep Waver -

Rubbermaid High-Heat Spoonula -

It's a 10 Hair Conditioner -

Target Debit Card (saves 5% on all purchases and free shipping for on-line orders, not a credit card) -


1 Year Devotional for Preschoolers -

ABC Memory Cards -

My ABC Bible Verses -

Jesus Storybook Bible -

The Week Magazine -

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young -

Mortimer's Christmas Manger -

Live Happy Magazine (and website, website is free, there is a subscription fee for the magazine) -

The One Year Chronological Bible (Wasn't shared, but this is definitely a fav of mine!) -


Amazon Prime - $70 annual subscription fee, includes Instant videos and free 2-day shipping

Shutterfly (Photo printing site) -

Snapfish (Photo printing site) -

Blurb (Photo printing site) -

Netflix (Veggie Tales Christmas Movie) -

Austin Trail of Lights at Zilker Park -

Alter'd State Store - The Domaine

Bible Study Fellowship (meets in various locations) -

New Horizons Student/Children International Orphan Hosting Ministry -

Austin Stone Church Christmas Bazaar

NPR Radio's Radio Lab Show -


Chocolate Nutella pie:

1 13 oz Nutella
1 9 in pie crust
1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese (softened)
8 oz whipped cream (original says frozen topping (Cool Whip) but all reviews preferred real whipped cream)

Spread 1/4 cup Nutella on graham cracker crust (or skip this and use a chocolate crust) (Peanut butter or a fruit jam might be good substitutes) 
Beat room temp. cream cheese till smooth then whip in Nutella.  Important that cheese is smooth or it is hard to mix completely.
FOLD IN whipped cream gently.  Refrigerate 4 hours to overnight.  
Optional: top with raspberries, strawberries or blueberries

Garlic Cheese Ball (Morgan Saunders) -

I just did an 8oz of cream cheese and then covered the outside in pecans.

Posted on November 14th, 2013

Well we're two weeks out from Thanksgiving, it's hard to believe that it's that close!  I don't know about you, but I really like November and the time leading up to Thanksgiving, because it makes me pause and really consider the things in my life that I'm thankful for.  I mean, I am crazy blessed by God!  It's not the material things that He's blessed me with, altho I do have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, a vehicle to drive, and food on the table, it's the relationships, the immeasurable things that He's blessed me with.  I think of the gifts he has given to me, the incredible husband I am married to, my amazing children, the fact that I know and call HIM my redeemer and Father.  Sometimes it's easier to be thankful for things in our lives that we have, especially when everything is going well.  It's much harder to be thankful for the things we "don't" have, as well as be thankful when things are tough.  While I have definitely made my share of poor decisions and actions, I'm thankful for those, because through those consequences, they grew my character, and made me more aware of God's hand in my life, as well as allowed me to speak to those who have gone through similar situations.   So to enter our fabulous MOPS Mom's Boutique give-away this month, I'd like you to comment on this blog with some of the things you are thankful for.  I will be drawing multiple winners at our next meeting, November 18th, and we have some really amazing things we are giving away this time!

Our incredible MOPS Mom's Boutique is sponsored by the following moms/businesses:
Melakee Nicholson - Owner
Jessica Kreager - Owner
Katherine Martin - Owner
Kimberly Gutierrez - Owner of Loops and Things

Stephanie Hargrove - Owner
Tiffany Mendrala - Owner/Photographer
Carrie Betzen - Owner

Austin Area Computers
(512) 524-9089

Posted on October 23rd, 2013

As my children have gotten older and the realization that they won't be at home forever, yes, shocking as that may sound, I've realized how easy it is to define ourselves by the roles we play in our daily lives.  It's easy to fall into the "mom" role or the "wife of..." role, and sometimes it's hard to remember who we really are outside of the roles we lead in our day to day activities and responsibilities.  I sometimes struggle with who I really am outside of those expected roles in my own life, trying to remember my strengths and talents outside of mom or wife.  Recently, I have realized that I need to make sure that my identity is not wrapped up in my role as a wife or a mom, but as a woman and a child of God.  With that being said, it is important that I develop that identity with activities and friendships that develop and encourage that identity in Christ. 

This month's Blog giveaway is generously donated to us by the brand new Austin Aquarium!  They have donated a family-annual pass to the new facility located at Research blvd and Anderson Mill Rd.  The Annual pass includes:

o Unlimited Visits: All Annual Passes are good for one year of unlimited visits to the Austin Aquarium and become active the day we open to the general public. Before public opening, members will receive EXCLUSIVE entry for ten days before the general public opening!

o Discounts: 25% Discount on Birthday Parties & Summer Camps, 10% discount on all gift shop purchases (does not include fish/shark/bird food), as well as discounts on Group Events, Behind the Scenes tours, Octopus Encounters, and Sleepovers.

o Early Entrance: 9:30am member-only early entrance on weekends and holidays.

o VIP Events: Members receive exclusive entry to new exhibit screenings and VIP private member-only events.

o Guest Admission Discounts: Adult Guests of Members receive $2 off general admission, and children receive $1 off general admission (limit of 5 guests, member must be present. Not valid with any other offers.).

Austin Aquarium requests that one form of valid I.D. be shown by a pass member each visit.

Now the important part:  TO ENTER this giveaway, please comment on this blog what you do to try and maintain or develop your identity outside of mom/wife.  I will draw a winning name on Monday, September 28th's MOPS meeting.  GOOD LUCK everyone!

Posted on September 1st, 2013

As I reflect on the message today at church, it was startlingly applicable to this year's theme, A Beautiful Mess.  I'm not sure about you, but I know that if you were to come over to my house, you'd see, not a beautiful mess, but a disaster zone, also known as three kids following behind me, undoing everything I clean.  Of course this is not the central theme to our year, messy houses, but rather realizing that our lives, despite the messiness of our homes or our stories, is really something to embrace and be open and authentic about.

This is an opportunity to really allow ourselves to be honest with the messes in our lives and embrace them as part of who we are.  Clearly, I realize that a messy house doesn't necessarily equal a messy life, but rather it's the moments in the day where we feel less than adequate, or the story of our lives that we may be ashamed of or feel guilty about, that shape who we are.  The question is, will we allow others to see our "mess" and walk along side us, to get messy with us.  And in turn, will we be willing to get down in the trenches and walk along side others, getting messy with them? 

My hope as we start a new year at MOPS, is that we will allow ourselves to really be open, honest, and vulnerable with each other; that this year will be one where we can really be authentic with one another, encouraging one another, and embracing the challenges and struggles we face as mothers, wives, and women.  We have such an incredible opportunity to share our lives, to make friendships that last a lifetime, and to lift one another up.  I am so excited to see the incredible relationships and discussions that will be taking place this coming year!  Looking forward to seeing you all on Monday, September 9th, at 10am in the Shack!

Posted on February 15th, 2013

Ok, I'm going to try and recap Monday's meeting in two parts, first the suggested "Date Night" ideas and then Patty Evans' talk on Marriage.  Deep breath... I apologize if I miss any Date Night ideas, please just respond to this post with your ideas!  Thanks!

Date Night Ideas:

Kyaking and eating at the 24 Hour Diner
Indoor Skydiving
The Goodnight on Burnet Rd. -Shuffle board and games
Segway Tour of Down Town Austin
Take a board game to Chili's
Free Family Nights at the YMCA
Back Roads Afternoon Drives
Indoor Go-Cart racing
Food Trailer Tour
Brewery Tour
Alamo Drafthouse sing-alongs
Reunion Grille
Capital Comedy Club - Tuesdays are 1/2 price (can get a little risque)
Check for date ideas/deals
Central Market cooking classes
Zilker Park Hillside Theater (summer)
Salsa lessons
Go to the Theater
Have an afternoon date instead of night time
Game night in
Romantic Dinner at home once the kids are in bed
Good Places to Eat: Uchiko, Uchis, Barley and Swine, South Congress Cafe

Marriage Recap

I'm going to try and recap Patty's talk as best as I can from my notes along with all the great books she suggested as resources to helping build a better marriage.  This is a bit of a "risque" talk so make sure little eyes are not around when reading this!  LOL!

The best thing for building intimacy and a better marriage is a REGULAR SEX LIFE.  Which means ladies, at least twice a week.  If you are only making love to your spouse once a month, or twice a month, make it a goal to double that at first and then increase it as time continues.

Sex builds intimacy with your spouse.  It breaks down barriers and opens lines of communication.  Let's face it tho, for us as women, it generally takes us a lot longer to get "in the mood" than it does for a man.  This will require a little effort on your part.  Here are Patty's Top Ten Marriage Boosters:

1. Have a Regular Sex Life - Sex changes after you have kids.  It's hard to get in the mood when you have a baby or young children constantly touching and crawling and climbing all over you.  Make an effort to have sex with your spouse at least twice a week.

2. GET THE BABY OUT of the BED!!!  - Yes this can be difficult, but it is a necessity.  This shows your husband that your bed is your sacred space for the two of you.  Obviously there will be times when a child may wander in after a bad dream, but as a rule of thumb, keep the bed to the two of you.

3. Prioritize date nights - Try to have a date with your spouse at least once or twice a month.  This may mean you have to plan and prepare for this.  The dates don't have to be expensive, but it tells your spouse that they are your priority, and that this time together is necessary.

4. Schedule things/Prepare your mind - Sex can be difficult to engage in when you are so busy with life.  Between work, house upkeep, children, meals, sex can wind up being the last thing on your mind.  This may require you to actually schedule sex with your spouse.  Granted, he doesn't have to know that you are scheduling it, but it helps prepare you mentally for the act of making love.  It can take women quite a bit longer to prepare mentally for this.   Maybe it requires pouring yourself a glass of wine, taking a bubble bath, having him give you a massage.  Patty shared that scents are a big thing for her.  She lights candles to set the mood and scent the air.

5. Work on the QUALITY of sex, not just the quantity - There are several resources out there to help you learn about creating a passionate and exciting love life with your spouse.  I'll be listing those below.

6. Take the time to choose to remember the good things - Making love to your spouse releases certain hormones.  These hormones are generally released upon orgasm.   Hence the above resources on achieving that, but these hormones are bonding, positive hormones.   Dopamine increases positive feelings towards your husband. These hormones help you to remember the good qualities of your spouse.  Oxytocin increases the need for one another, dependence for the other (no, not in a creepy co-dependent way), the bonding between one another. Norepinephrine increases memory, so we should take the time to remember positive experiences.   Take the time to just be close to one another after the act of making love to enjoy the hormone rush with your spouse.

7. Take the initiative -  Yes ladies, your husbands will thank you for it!  They LOVE it when you take the initiative for love making.  That could be as simple as locking the door, wrapping yourself in saran-wrap, or wearing some sexy lingerie.  They'll be ready and raring to go in no time!  

8. Take Vacations just the Two of you - Try and get away at least once a year just the two of you alone, NO kids.  That could be as easy as an overnight at a B&B, or hotel, or camping under the stars.  The time away will help you reconnect with one another.

9 KEEP WORKING on it - Marriage requires work and effort.  Even when things are difficult it is worth it in the end to keep on working on it.  If not for yourself, do it for the sake of your children.  Therapy is much cheaper than a divorce!  Children need the stability of two parents who are committed to each other, hold hands and kiss in front of your children.  It can reassure them that their parents love each other, even if they say "ewwww".

10. READ your BIBLE - This is probably the BEST way to make a marriage work.  Think of your marriage as a triangle, you and your spouse are at the bottom two points and Christ is at the top point of the triangle.  As you read your Bible and grow closer to Christ, you move up the triangle.  As you are moving up the triangle towards Christ, you'll notice that you are moving closer to your spouse at the same time.  

Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse

Authors: Ed and Lisa Young
Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage

Author: Dr. Kevin Leman
Pillow Talk: The Intimate Marriage from A to Z

Author: Karen Scalf Linamen
Love Talk Starters:  Speak Each Other's Language Like You Never Have Before

Authors: Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott
Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex

Authors: Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus
Night Light: A Devotional for Couples

Authors: Dr. James and Shirley Dobson
The Married Guy's Guide to Great Sex: Building a Passionate, Intimate, and Fun Love Life

Authors: Clifford and Joyce Penner
The Husband Project: 21 Days of Loving Your Man - On Purpose and with a Plan

Author: Kathi Lipp
For Women only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men

Author: Shaunti Feldhan


Focus Daily (by Focus on the Family)

Family Talk

My FLR  (Family Life Radio)

Posted on December 3rd, 2012

I have to admit, My Favorite Things meeting is probably one of my absolute favorite meetings, because all of you wonderful women, have such amazing things to share!  I can't wait to try out all of these recipes and websites etc!  I'm going to do my best and try and organize these favorite things by categories, apps, websites, products/books/movies, ideas, and recipes.  If for any reason I missed something or you have something to add, please let me know and I can easily add it to this blog.  I tried to find each product, movie, website and such and add a link to where you can find it.  If for any reason I got the wrong item, please let me know asap so I can change it to the correct thing.  Thanks!!  With that being said, here goes... deep breath...


Read and Share Bible App
Total Baby App
Spotify (app and website)
Jesus Calling App
Cozi App

*Some apps are not free.

WEBSITES  - Monthly subscription for free product samples. -$10 a month  - Message boards for good deals on products -  Online Coupons  - Tasty low-fat meals  - Mothering daughters blog  - Funny blog on parenting - Austin Metro Moms, Mom's group and information  - Parenting with crappy pictures funny blog  - Herbs and Freezer Recipes  - Photo scrapbooking, Photo calendars etc.  - Personalized Labels  - Organizers/planners personalized  - Website with several free or nearly free, family-friendly activities in the Austin area.  -  Local blogger! Great resource for recipes, kid craft ideas, home projects, etc.



The Very First Noel -

Read and Share Bible Christmas Movie -

Veggie Tales Movies -

Sound of Music -

Complete Series of Full House -

The Star of Bethlehem -


Read and Share Bible -

Jesus Storybook Bible  -

Words to Remember Journal  -

Advent Storybook  -

1000 Gifts  -

Chronological Bible -


Babyganics - Baby care products (Can be found at Walgreens and some HEB's or online) -

Baby Be Blessed Doll -  Can only be found on-line, personalized dolls with scriptures added -

Trans Siberian Orchestra Music -  Can be found at local music stores, Target, Walmart or on-line - 

Beginner Dinner Games  - Games to make table time more fun -

Apple Peeler/Corer - (This is the best priced one on Amazon, can also be found seasonally at Target or through Pampered Chef)  -

Anthropologie Monogram Ornament -

Little People Fabric Advent Calendar -

Money Sorter - Spend, Save, Give -  (This one is in pink, but it will take you to a site that you can purchase these banks)  And the little bank/store/church piggy bank -

Laughing Your Way to a Better Marriage - By Mark Gungor - Video Series creating stronger, healthier marriages in a VERY funny way -  or you can go directly to the website at:   or a lot of the dvd's can be found posted on youtube:

Debbie Moore Cake Maker - Delicious Specialty Cakes:
(512) 918-0598


Reindeer Food - Little baggies with oats and sprinkles (sprinkle out on the lawn to attract Santa's reindeer)  -

Stuffed Restaurant/Convenience Store - Cajun Food and Store -

Christmas Lights in the Area - Spicewoods Neighborhood (Off of Anderson Mill)  Some websites with Christmas light information for the Austin Area:

Table Presents - Everyone gets a small wrapped present.  All the wrapped presents are placed in the center of the table as a centerpiece.  Each present has a long string attached to it and strung to the person's place at the table.  After the meal the count of three is given and everyone pulls their string to see which present is theirs. 

The Advent Conspiracy - Give More Spend Less this Holiday Season.  Give up one gift to your choice of Charity for Jesus for Christmas:

World Vision

Paper Fan Wheel Board/Backdrop/Decoration -


Christmas Crackle:


1 Cup Butter
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Sleeve of Saltine Crackers (maybe a few extra for topping)
1 Bag Chocolate Chips

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  
  • Line a sheet cake pan or jelly roll pan with foil that has been well oiled.  You need a pan with sides so a cookie sheet won't work well.
  • Lay out the crackers in a single layer in the bottom of the pan.
  • Put butter and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir constantly until well blended and sugar is dissolved.  Once it is blended, let it boil for 5 min while stirring.  Make sure you have the crackers done before this step is done.  When it is ready the toffee will pull away from the edges of the pan easily.
  • Pour the toffee over the top of the crackers and spread it out.  Straighten any wayward crackers with a fork.
  • Immediately place in oven for 5-6 min.
  • Remove from oven, and let cool for about 5 min.
  • After it is cooled, sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips.  Slowly they will start to melt. (If they don't melt pop it back in the oven for about a minute)
  • When the chocolate chips are soft, spread the chocolate around with a spatula until it's smooth across the top.  Sprinkle some crushed crackers around the top.
  • Let pans set for 4-5 hours.  (If you don't have that much time, place pans in freezer for 30-40 min).
  • When the chocolate is hard set, turn pan over and let the candy fall out.  Now break it into pieces and enjoy!

Skinny Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting:


For the Meatloaf Cupcakes

1.3 lbs 93% Lean Ground Turkey
1 Cup Grated Zucchini, all moisture squeezed dry with paper towel
2 Tbs Onion, minced
1/2 Cup Seasoned Breadcrumbs
1/4 Cup Ketchup
1 egg
1 tsp Kosher Salt

For the Skinny Mashed Potato "Frosting":

1 lb (about 2 med) Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Large Garlic Cloves, peeled and halved
2 Tbs Fat Free Sour Cream
2 Tbs Fat Free Chicken Broth
1 Tbs Skim Milk
1/2 Tbs Light Butter
Kosher Salt to taste
Dash fresh ground pepper
2 Tbs Fresh Thyme

  • Put the potatoes and garlic in a large pot with salt and enough water to cover; bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat; simmer for 20 min or until potatoes are tender.
  • Drain and return potatoes and garlic to the pan.  Add sour cream and the remaining ingredients.  
  • Using a masher or blender, mash until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  
  • Line a muffin tin with foil liners.
  • In a large bowl, mix the turkey, zucchini, onion, breadcrumbs, ketchup, egg, and salt.
  • Place meatloaf mixture into muffin tins filling them to the top, making sure they are flat at the top.
  • Bake uncovered for 18-20 min or until cooked through.
  • Remove from tins and place onto baking dish.  Pipe the "frosting" onto the meatloaf cupcakes and serve.
Makes 12.

Burbon Pecan Bread Pudding with Homemade Butterscotch Sauce:

Butterscotch sauce:

1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)


1 pound day-old rustic white bread, (one loaf of french bread) cut into 1/2" cubes (12 cups)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
4 cups heavy cream
Pinch of kosher salt
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups pecan pieces
For butterscotch sauce:

  • Bring brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking to dissolve sugar.
  • Boil until mixture is syrupy and measures 1 1/3 cups, about 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat; add cream and bourbon, if desired, and stir until smooth. Let cool.
  • DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool completely, cover, and chill. Rewarm before serving.
For pudding:

  • Toss bread, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in another large bowl until pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add cream, and salt; beat to blend.
  • Place bourbon and vanilla in a small bowl; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve bean for another use).
  • Whisk to distribute seeds, then add to egg mixture, whisking to blend well.
  • Pour egg mixture over bread mixture in bowl.
  • Add pecans and toss to coat well.
  • Transfer mixture to a 13x9x2" glass or ceramic baking dish, spreading out in an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Remove plastic wrap and bake until top is browned in spots and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours. '
  • Serve bread pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and topped with the butterscotch sauce.

Jill's Green Salad Dressing:


1/3 Cup Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Large Sweet Onion cut into wedges
1 tsp Ground Mustard
1 Cup Canola Oil
1 tsp Poppy Seeds

  • In a blender, combine: cider vinegar, sugar, sweet onion, and ground mustard.
  • Slowly add 1 cup canola oil to blender.
  • Stir in by hand 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

This dressing is especially good on a green salad with apples/pears and blue/gorgonzola cheese. I also usually add avocado, dried cranberries and candied walnuts. Yum.

Posted on November 28th, 2012

What a great MOPS meeting this week!  I don't know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about all of Rachel Williamson's family traditions for the holidays.  It gave me some great ideas for our family to incorporate in our Christmas season. 

As I reflect on my own family's traditions growing up, I am so thankful for the wonderful memories associated with those traditions.  It's funny to think that at the time, I may have thought the traditions were a little corny or just plain stupid (especially as a teenager, who clearly thought she knew everything!), yet now as I look back some of my greatest and fondest memories are tied to those traditions.  I'm so thankful my parents really emphasized the true meaning of the season.  Sure we had all the food and gifts and Santa stuff, but ultimately, I can remember my dad reading us the Christmas story every year, and going to Christmas Eve service at 11pm and getting out on Christmas Day.  These are the things that I cherish, the times with my parents and brother around the dinner table sharing a specially prepared Christmas feast, opening our home to others (usually our displaced friends who had no where else to go for the holidays), and our extended family to share in the feast and festivities.  I remember one of my favorite traditions growing up was going to my great Aunt and Uncle's house on Christmas Day.  The WHOLE extended family, every cousin, aunt, uncle, and grandparent would be there.  We would share in a HUGE feast, games, and present exchange.  It was so much fun!  I miss those memories and traditions now that I'm older.  My prayer is that my husband and I can create some of those memories and traditions for our own children.  That they can look back as they get and think of our Christmases with joy and happiness, and most of all that they can experience the TRUE meaning of Christmas.  Christ sent to earth in the flesh to die for our sins!  Without Christmas there would be no Easter!  One of my favorite verses is found in Isaiah, a prophesy foretelling of a savior come to save the world!

Isaiah 9:6-7:

For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
    will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
    for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
    will make this happen!

With all that being said, on to our Christmas Blog giveaway!  This Month's giveaway is a tie-in to Rachel's talk on Monday!  We have a pack of four Christmas books for one lucky winner!  These books are: 

To enter this giveaway, simply comment on this blog post with one of your favorite Christmas memories or traditions.  I will announce the winner at the next MOPS meeting on Monday, December 3rd, so there's not much time to enter!   Good luck, and Merry Christmas!

Posted on October 11th, 2012

Here it is ladies!!!  Our first Blog give away for the year!  This month's giveaway has been GENEROUSLY donated by Geoff Hammond of Hammondovi Photography.  This is a HUGE package, almost a $200 value!!!  Just in time for holiday pictures!  If you would like to see some of Geoff's work, please click the links below to be directed to his business website and istock site.  Plus on top of this awesome donation, Geoff has generously offered photography package specials ONLY available to those of you in our MOPS group!  Now how awesome is that???  Ok are you ready?  Here it is:

Session I - $195 [Value]
Up to 60 minute session
1-2 looks (wardrobe changes)
1 Location [local]
Online Gallery for Sharing and Ordering Prints
Full Size Digital Download and Basic Retouching on 3 Final Photos
Three 8”x10” prints (or equivalent**)

To enter, please comment on this blog with your favorite Fall traditions or Foods!  Winner will be announced at our next MOPS meeting on the 15th, so hurry up and get your entry in!  :)

Posted on September 20th, 2012

In response to my previous blog, I thought this was too funny not to share, especially since we can relate to how many truths there are in this short little video!  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Posted on September 20th, 2012

So I was thinking a lot about what Karen Melles said our last meeting.  It struck me that I myself need to be more transparent with my children about my own weaknesses and make more of concerted effort to try and disciple them in their faith in the Lord.  You see, I think often times that, I'll talk about God or try and weave in some "spiritual truths" into this conversation, or point out something awesome in creation, but I don't really take the necessary steps to fully disciple my children.  I fall short in this area, hoping that the church will pick up the slack so to speak, for me.  It dawned on me that this is NOT the church's responsibility, it is mine.  They only see the kids for a couple of hours a week, where as I see my children EVERY day for many hours.  I am the one who needs to, and should be influencing them the most.  

I also wanted to address this year's theme.  In an effort to be more transparent with everyone, it means I have to reveal some of my short comings and weaknesses, and well, let's be honest, my failures as a mother and a wife, and even a friend.  With that being said, I'd like to share a little bit about my latest mommy fail, I think it's about #8,953 on the mistake chart... I don't know, I've lost track of all my mistakes at this point.  I'm hoping that in my weaknesses, He is made strong, and you are encouraged that you're not the only one who makes mistakes or may fall short on the momma scale.

So in our women's bible study at church, we've been studying Proverbs.  Awesome book in the bible by the way.  If you're ever in need of some wisdom, that is a fantastic place to start.  Yesterday we were talking about things that had stood out to us when reading the first several chapters of the book.  I had shared that guarding your tongue is a big one for me.  I know sometimes I can speak with out thinking of the consequences my words may have on my children and husband.  Why is it that I can stop and consider the words of my mouth with others, but have such a difficult time with the ones that I love most in this world?  I'm still struggling with that whole thing.  It should be easy to do that, but in reality, it's much more difficult.  Maybe it's because I care more about what others think of me than those who are closest to me, because I know that they are "obligated" to love me no matter what!  Now, this, as you may have already concluded, is not the healthiest nor the best way of thinking.  Something I definitely have to work on.

Apparently in my effort to control my tongue, I kinda forgot that necessary nugget of wisdom when dealing with my son last night. You see, my sweet little 7 year old has a small problem of not thinking about the consequences of his actions prior to doing them.  This has not been a one or two time thing in our house.  I know that, that part of their brain is not fully developed until they are 25 years old, and we, as their parents, are to be their "conscience" so to speak until then.  However, I often forget that.

My epic mommy failure began last night at about 8:30pm.  We, the kids (all three of them), and I were pulling into the driveway and unloading the car after two sports practices.  Knowing that the kids had school in the morning (8:30 is usually bed time around our house on weeknights), I was in a hurry to get them ready and into bed.  I had to make two trips to the car to carry everything in, so in my first trip, it was all the water bottles, sports equipment, letters from the coaches, and diaper bags.  I'd left the front door open so that I could easily return to the car (which was about 4 feet from the front door) and get the infant car seat with my daughter in it.  

In the meantime, my little 7 year old, knowing that the front door was still open, decided, now would be a good time to let the dogs into the house... both of them...  For those of you who know us, we have two dogs, a big dog, Spark, and a little dog, Daisy.  Spark is our runner.  He LOVES to run and run and run, and he is so stinking fast it's not even funny.  Daisy is almost afraid to go out the front door.  She has a brain the size of a peanut, but at least she knows who feeds her.  If Spark gets out (which has happened NUMEROUS times since adopting him) he RUNS!!!  Keep in mind this is a dog with really bad hips, but it sure doesn't seem to slow him down any!  Last time someone found him almost 7 miles from our house!  That is a crazy distance for any dog to run!

So being that the front door was open as I was lifting my daughter and her carseat of out the car, Spark tears out of the house and down the street.  Now it was reloading three kids back into the car and tearing after him in a mad panic.  You see, my husband is currently overseas on a missions trip with the church, so it added a bit of a complication to my plans of getting the dog back.  I could feel the anger and frustration welling up inside of me at my son's poor thinking.  Cue mommy mistake #8,593...

I let my son have it.  The words just spewed from my lips with no control.  It was like watching a horror movie that I was starring as Freddy Kreuger in.  I couldn't stop.  "why would you do such a thing?!?!  Where is your brain?  This is not the first time, didn't you learn the last time Spark got out?"  My words were harsh and angry.  I could hear the anguish and hurt in his small voice as he pleaded with me, "I'm sorry mommy, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to."

Wow, that really snapped me back to reality on how cruel I had been to him with my words.  My heart broke as I heard him apologize over and over.  I know he hadn't meant to let Spark out, I was just frustrated because I had three kids to try and get to bed and I couldn't actually chase after Spark for very long, and because this wasn't the first time it had happened.  When we got home, after the kids got ready for bed, I apologized to him for being so harsh with my words.  When we prayed before bed, I prayed aloud that God would change my heart, and help me change my attitude.  I think it was good for him to see that his mommy fails, but can recognize this, and ask for help from God.

I still didn't sleep well last night, plagued by my words to my son.  When morning came and it was time to get ready for school, I went in and apologized again, asking for forgiveness from him.  In his sweet little voice he said "of course I forgive you mommy."   We hugged and off they went on their day.  This latest mommy fail has really gotten me to ponder on the effects my words have on my children; the importance of guarding my tongue and really stopping to think about what I say to those closest to me.  Proverbs 12:18 says: The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. 

Ouch, I had just pierced my little boy's heart with my mean words!  I remembered reading in Proverbs 31 (Many of you know that as the Proverbs 31 woman) verse 26: "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue."  This is what I long for in my own life.  I desire to speak with wisdom and faithful instruction, not harsh words that can crush a spirit.  We are weak, and fall short on a daily basis, which is why it reminds me how important and necessary God's grace and forgiveness is.  I know that my son will be alright and will survive this major mommy fail, but I think sometimes, our failures, at least for me, are to remind us of our need for God and His strength and wisdom in our own lives.  It reminds us of areas in our hearts and minds that we need to work on and change in order to become more like Christ.

So I've decided I need to spend a bit more time taking what I've read in God's word to heart and applying it in my life, especially this whole guarding the tongue thing with my family.  I hope that this encourages you as a mother and wife, to use our mistakes as teachable moments in our children's lives.  To be purposeful in our discipling through our own shortcomings.  God can use our weaknesses and failures to bring glory to Him!  Isn't that encouraging!  GOD COURSE CORRECTS!  I cling to this as I navigate my way through this thing called motherhood, realizing I just can't do this alone.  I NEED God and I NEED friends to walk along side me and hold me accountable and encourage me when I fall.  This is why being involved in a mom's group is so key in my life.  I hope this encourages you to become more transparent in your small groups here, in your conversations, that they can be real and authentic.  This is such an incredible opportunity we have to just be honest about our needs and our shortcomings.  We can encourage one another and love one another through these years, and in that develop some incredible life-long friendships!

Proverbs 17:17 - "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity."

Posted on August 15th, 2012

Hello all you MOPS mommies out there!  We are very excited to welcome you all to a new year at MOPS at The Church at Canyon Creek.  

This year's theme is Plunge, taken from the Verse: 1 Peter 4:8-11 (The Message):  Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!

The emphasis is relationships and hope. MOPS communicates a message of hope and creates an atmosphere of supportive relationships that moms need to survive a world of constant change. Taking the plunge in relationships is being authentic and going deeper. In a MOPS group, relationships offer hope to moms, especially as moms go deeper and take risks to create authentic community. All facets of relationships can be strengthened through taking risks, going deeper and showing authentic love – neighborhood, friendships, marriages, extended families, the world around us and ultimately relationship with God. Throughout the year, groups can focus content on these different types of relationships and equip moms to be relationally healthy and thriving

It is our desire that you will feel welcomed and loved as you journey through this life known as mommyhood.  Being a mother is tough, and we hope you will know and experience a supportive, encouraging, and friendly environment when you attend this group. May you find friendships that blossom in the midst of commonality, by sharing lives and stories, and knowing that our Heavenly Father, is always there, loving and walking with us, even when we feel he is far away.  We hope to encourage you spiritually as well, through speakers, testimonies, books, and small group discussions.  

Please join us on August 24th for a pre-MOPS play date to get to know other moms in our MOPS group.  The steering team has arranged for bounce houses, so be sure to bring a picnic lunch or snack, as we meet at 10am on the TCACC lawn.  Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions, and bring a friend or two!  MOPS is the ideal place to meet new moms!  Even if you don't have kids who are preschool-aged, maybe you are expecting or have a newborn or infant, this is the group for you!  Our moms have children from newborn through elementary (kindergarten).  Come, and let us encourage you this next year!

Posted on March 30th, 2012

A very big thank you to Stephanie Moran, creator and designer of Silverado Jewerly for donating one bible verse necklace to one of our lucky moms. The winner of this blog giveaway will work with Stephanie to create a customized necklace sharing her favorite bible verse. We will announce the winner at our April 23rd meeting.  See below for details and how to participate.
Details & how to participate:
  • Must be a current 2011/12 MOPS Mom or Mentor Mom to enter.
  • Must leave a comment below stating your favorite bible verse or bible story.
  • We will draw one name out of all the entries for the comments below at our April 23rd meeting
Let's show support to Stephanie by visiting and liking her Facebook page here.

Stephanie does an array of creative designs perfect for gift giving for yourself or someone else; Mothers Day is right around the corner! Be sure to check her out on  Etsy and her website-     

Looking forward to seeing the responses. Good luck!

UPDATE- Congratulations to Pat Luong for winning this month's giveaway!

Posted on March 19th, 2012

Please join us for a morning of fun!

by Heather on March 19th, 2012

We got to learn a few preschool activities from some of own Canyon Creek Preschool teachers and moms.
Thanks ladies!

by Heather on February 13th, 2012

What a great meeting today with our men's panel. I thought the husbands did a great job! Thanks to Matt, Jason, Dusty and Steven. I know it took some courage to get up in front a room full of women and answer some tough questions. I think they did a great job giving us a man's perspective to love, marriage and children. Thanks again!

Giveaway Details:
As moms, we always show love to everyone around us but rarely show a little love to ourselves. Thanks to Kerr Construction for blessing one mom in our MOPS Group with a Swedish massage and pedicure at the Spa at the Lake in Lakeway.

To participate in the giveaway, you must be a current 2012 Spring MOPS mom in the Canyon Creek MOPS Group. To have your name entered in the drawing, you must tell us in the comment section below about your most memorable Valentine's Day to date. So give us something sweet to read! We will draw the winner at our next MOPS meeting February 27th.

See you then!

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