Monday, September 29, 2014

Brave and Beautiful

I am Brave and Beautiful.
I am Brave and Beautiful - a beauty movement that is sweeping the globe. Colbie Caillat started it with her recent song and video called TRY. My blogging friend Megan of Brassy Apple wanted to push this movement along and invited women from all over to share what they looked like without make up and I joined in!! Colbie's song says, "Take your make up off. Let your hair down... Look into the mirror at yourself, Do you like you? Cause I like you... "
Megan and her friend Cobi of Peacefrom6pieces have been the team behind this whole project. Their worldwide vision included creating their own video inspired by the song TRY. The talent of Robbins Creative made it possible for them to pull it off. You have to click play and see the beauty and bravery displayed and you might even recognize a few faces in there.
Me along with 101+ other blogging women from different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, ages, shapes and sizes have decided to be Brave and Beautiful! You can join in this movement too by sharing what you look like without makeup on. You don't need a blog either! Just tag your photo with #IamBraveAndBeautiful on Instgram and search the hashtag to see who else has joined in. ALSO, if you tag it with a second hashtag - #ColbieTRY we just might be able to get Colbie Caillat's attention since she was the inspiration behind it all!

Are you brave and beautiful? I am, here I go!

I did a unique thing the last couple weeks in preparing for this amazing project.  I told myself those words every morning.  I said it five times in a row.  It's simple enough right?  Something you wouldn't think would have that big of an impact on your day?  I'm here to tell you, those words have changed me.  I have realized just how low my self confidence over the last few months has gotten.  Crisis has a way of doing that to you, right?  Survival mode in life makes you put yourself on hold and "getting ready" is last on the list of many things to do.  There were still days where I didn't get ready, trust me I'm not perfect by any means, but those days seemed way more productive than they use to.  It may have only been a slight shift in mind set but it made a huge difference in my life.  Together with the other women that contribute this blog we were able to get some amazing pictures taken.  Each of has had a natural shot taken with a clean face, no make up, no photo shopping.  We then had our make up done by amazing makeup artists and had pictures taken again.  Doing it as a group was a great way for us to get to know each other a bit better.  The outcome was so amazing it truly blew me out of the water.

I came home with messages from each amazing woman you see here.  Each one thanked me for the night and thanked me for being willing to bare my natural beauty and be an example for them.  One message in particular caught my attention and I new I had to share it.

"So I had some interesting realizations tonight... I thought I would share. I was really bothered that I didn't like my picture and so I was pondering why not. Normally, my pictures don't really bother me that much... I'm used to photos. So when I got home, all my kids told me how awful I looked in the makeup (nice I know) lol.  But I started to feel a lot of anxiety and like I was crawling out of my skin. I realized it was the makeup. I didn't like the picture because I felt so covered and ... trapped with all of it on my face. When it was being applied I had moments where I wanted to push her away because I felt claustrophobic. I love Jan's photography skills... but I didn't like the picture because I didn't feel like it represented me. I actually liked the one with messy hair and no makeup better... is that strange? What do you think? Am I crazy? Do most girls feel beautiful in makeup and I'm looney?"

How would you answer that?  I did with my heart.  No she isn't looney.  She's so confident in herself that she isn't worried about what having no makeup will do.  She knows who she is and she's proud of what flaws she may have.  It was a moment I was hoping would happen.

Yes, we each feel beautiful, sassy, unique when our makeup is done.  We each may feel more confident with makeup on than without it.  Why is that?  Shouldn't we be comfortable in our own skin and not with added stuff to make us "perfect".

Each of these ladies has shared with you what they would describe beautiful as.  Please not, "completely done up" isn't on any of them.  Being yourself, being who you are, and loving that version is true beauty.

Photography: Winsor Photography
Make up: Heather @HMmakeovers
Photo Colaboration: Terra Cooper Photography

Photography: Shoootz Photography
Make up: Elvia Butz
Photo Colaboration: Terra Cooper Photography

share your natrual beauty -
Don't stop here. Get clicking around - its a blog hop! Below are more brave and beautiful women bearing more than their natural beauty. They each have a little bit of their heart to share with you. Some get very personal. Some share stories. For some this was very hard to do yet they gathered their courage and did it anyway. We hope as you click around (and YES pin these different posts!) you will feel the importance of it, the empowering effect it has and that it encourages you in some way.

>>>>>>>Important info! Blog Hops often have glitches the first day. If the link has an ERROR, simply click on the HOME button for each site, or google the blog name next to the link, and you should see their brave and beautiful post there. Links will be updated as soon as possible.<<<<<<<<<<<<
women sharing their natural beauty - no makeup
women with our makeup on and what makes them beautiful
women from around the world share their face with no makeup on -
Mommy bloggers share their face without makeup and what makes then beautiful
Natural beauty untouched photos
raw natural beauty - join the movement
beauty and bravery - women wearing no makeup -
#colbietry #iambraveandbeautiful
Ready in join in?Snap, hashtag and share! Tag @BrassyApple and @Peacefrom6Pieces if you can too!
Also follow our Bravery and Beauty PINTEREST board for more inspiration!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Meet the Mormons

There have been few times in my life where I leave a movie thinking, "Holy cow I feel like I"m floating, that was so good."  After attending an exclusive premier of "Meet the Mormons" last night in Salt Lake I felt just that.  I was filled with pride, hope, joy, passion, and love.  One movie made little old me feel all of those things.  Just imagine what it will to do all of you amazing people when you go see it.  

OK DISCLAIMER:  They asked us to take a picture in front of the screen.  Jumping came to mind.  I'm not a jumping type person so the results are the following picture.  I promise you I did get off the ground.  HEY I won a prize for this amazing picture so don't you worry it was worth posting on Instagram!

The movie follows 6 amazing individuals who have stories that are so diverse, unique, and amazing. Each of the Mormons in the movie share not only their real life experience but ways that they have been lifted, lightened, and edified through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I cried as I watch the old movies of "The Candy Bomber" wiggle his wings at the children waiting in Berlin as they waited for his plane to fly over.

I will be rooting for the Navy every time they play football simply because of the amazing man that is their coach.  He has been an example of good to every single member of the team he coaches and the staff he is in charge of.  He taught me there is power in example.  

Half way around the world he is being an example to others and proving that faith and culture can be united.  You can choose to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and still be an active member in a society and culture that may not believe in Christ.

Age does not matter it is the willingness to serve the Lord that matters.  Truer words have never been said.  Diversity will unite us instead of dragging us apart.  We will be able to find strength in others because of their difference.  "The Bishop" in Meet the Mormons is proving that to be true through his daily living.

Wow.  Just wow is all I can say about the amazing talent and passion behind this young mother.  She proves that you can follow your passion, be a member of the LDS faith, and be a mother as well.  She is doing great things for Costa Rica.

Dawn won over my heart.  Truly she did.  Her conversion, her faith, her personality, her ability to find the light and truth was so awe inspiring.  I honestly ugly cried during part of her clip and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

This movie is opening to the public on October 10.  Everyone needs to see it.  If you have ever had questions about Mormons, what we believe, how we live, what we do when faced with trials you need to go see this movie.  Even if you haven't ever wondered I would still go see it because of the inspiration that each of the individuals in the film are.  My life has been blessed for being able to attend this movie and I am so glad to share it with each of you. I am Mormon.  I live it!  I love it!

***I have given tickets for the premier in exchange for this post.  However the feedback and passion is completely my own.  I was not paid to give it rave reviews.  It's just that good people***

Friday, September 26, 2014

The "Sandwich Generation"'s HARD!!

The "Sandwich Generation" (noun): parents parenting their parent(s) while parenting their children who are parents (personal definition). According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary: a generation of people who are caring for their aging parents while supporting their own children. (Who knew there was actually a dictionary definition for this?) SHEESH! That's a mouthful, isn't it? Try living it!!!

Research shows that in 2012, 47% of "middle-aged" adults (those 40-59) were simultaneously raising a minor child, or supporting a grown child, while caring for a parent 65 and over (PEW Research). Personally, I would say the statistics are much higher two years later. Growing up, even through my child-rearing years, I would NEVER have anticipated my role as the "meat/filling" for this family sandwich.

Don't get me wrong...there are great blessings of having my children and grandchildren learn to love, learn, and care for their 83-year old grandma! However, the stress of being pulled in a million different directions is incredibly overwhelming most of the time.

Here's how this new status, or calling, crept up on me: my dad passed away unexpectedly shortly after a single bypass surgery 33 years ago at the age of 57, leaving my mom a widow six days before her 50th birthday. Within the next year and a half, my younger (and only) sister and I got married leaving my newly widowed mother an empty-nester as well. It was HARD! We both lived close so we could help her as needed and to be together as a family as we began having our own children. Both our husbands were incredibly willing to help her whenever it was needed; our children loved spending time with her making memories to last a lifetime. She supported us through good times and bad...and believe me, there were some BAD times!

As with any family, there are trials that pile on top of each other and just throw your world into a spin that changes everything. Within a period of a few years, our close, extended family (three generations) went from close and happy to completely estranged. It was HARD! We missed our close family relationships and, most of all, our relationship with my mom and my kids' grandma.

Three years ago, my mom realized she couldn't live the way she was and, because of the impact my sister's choices had on her, cut off all ties with her. My mom needed help and, finally, she turned to me and my husband to help repair the damage.

During the "dark years," I had come to terms that I would never have a relationship again with my mom in this life. I was grateful for my belief and understanding of eternal life and the knowledge that there would be time to mend our relationship for the eternities. I was grateful for the chance to help her and to have her with us to experience life with my ever-growing family. explain our (my husband's and my) role as the "Sandwich Generation." Over the past three years, my mom's health has declined with ailments not limited to congestive heart failure, diabetes, macular degeneration, mini-strokes, and dementia. We've watched an incredibly strong, happy woman who would do anything for anyone shrivel into a sad, miserable little old lady. There is little in this life that can/will make her happy. She's unable to care for herself physically or mentally so two years ago, we were forced to move her from her beloved home to a wonderful assisted living facility. I've been told that the "caregiver" is the target for all anger, frustration over her physical and mental decline, sadness at what her life has become. I never would have imagined being in a position of trying to do everything I could to make sure she's safe, cared for, and loved and yet it is NEVER enough! No matter what I do, it's not right or enough! I've been counseled millions of times to not take it personally...but that's hard when it's your mom throwing it all at you! It's HARD!!

Now, add to all of that the role of parenting adult children. I always thought having my children raised would make life easy! WRONG!! When they marry, your joy and heartache doubles. When they have children, your joy, worries, and concerns multiple exponentially! They are the joy and light of our lives...the true blessings of having (and surviving) children!

But...along with the joy and happiness, we have the worries...are they making it financially, are they making the right choices in life that will bring the greatest happiness, who will fix their car if it breaks down, are they being taken care of, etc., etc., etc. It's so hard to try to have a filter when offering "advice" to them; trying to remember what it was like when we were their age and didn't want to listen to our parents who thought they were so wise (we now know they comes with age and experience).

And then...add the responsibilities of being a wife, a full-time teacher (or any other form of employment), a faithful member of any religion that encourages service and the responsibilities that come with a calling (I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), a woman who feels like her body is falling apart but also feels like she definitely isn't old enough for all those changes, and so on... IT'S OVERWHELMING!!! does one get through this age of being pulled in a million different directions by four generations??
Here are my thoughts...definitely not based on "research"...just experience:

First, realize you are only one person and you can only do what you can at any given point. This is something we should learn VERY early in life and cut ourselves a break when we're overwhelmed by it all! I LOVE Kamri's post about "The Competition." You don't have to please anyone but yourself and your Heavenly Father!

Second, get used to the idea that life "is what it is" and accept/embrace it. Even though there are MANY times when I just want to crawl in a hole, I know I can't. I just figure out what needs to be done first and move on down the list.

Third, surround yourself with resources to help get you through. I have been so blessed an AMAZING husband who is willing to step in and help me with my mom as if she were his own. (Honestly, I believe that if she had to choose between us, she would definitely pick him!) He's willing to drop everything to do whatever is needed, even if it's just to listen. I also have had MANY people placed in my life at just the right moment to help with whatever it is I'm facing...from a daughter who took a class from a prosecuting attorney two years before charges against my sister were filed, to working with another teacher who went through the process of applying for Medicaid for placement in an assisted living facility just a couple of months before I had to, to having a personal friend who also is/was Mom's primary care physician, to receiving the inspiration to call an incredible woman to serve in a church calling beside me who just happened to be a director over a home health company when I needed to sign Mom up for hospice. Add to that all the other amazing people who have been placed in my life to simply give love and support whenever I needed a shoulder to cry on, a hug, or a listening ear. YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO IT ALONE!!! IT'S OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP! (That's been a really hard concept for me to grasp since I'm so stubborn, independent, and have such a hard time asking/accepting help!) However, the blessings I have received from reaching out have been life-changing!

Fourth, learn to say "NO" when it's just too much. Sometimes, I have to say NO to helping a neighbor. Sometimes, I have to say NO to going to visit Mom when I am so tired and overwhelmed I can't see straight. Sometimes, I just have to say NO with no reason at all.

And finally, take care of yourself! (This probably should be at the top of the list...) Get lost in a book, go shopping, go on a date with your sweetheart, take a nap, whatever lets you decompress and recharge! My hubby and I had planned a five-day mini-vacation all summer. The weekend before we were to leave, Mom had a lot of health problems that resulted in us asking for hospice. I didn't see how we could possibly leave her at that time...what if something happened and I wasn't there to take care of it or her? The guilt was OVERWHELMING!! After a lot of convincing by the hospice workers, the assisted living facility staff, and my own WONDERFUL children and their spouses promising to take care of her and everything associated with her, we went ahead with our plans. It was hard to be four to five hours away; but at the same time, we were ONLY four to five hours away. It ended up being a wonderful time for relaxing and getting the energy, physically and emotionally, to move forward. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF!!!

If there's one thing I've learned from all this, it's that you can NEVER predict what will be asked of you in this life. I've learned to do my best at being a daughter, a wife, a mother, and a grandmother and that's all I can do and all that anyone can ask of me. Even if you are not the "meat/filling" of the family sandwich, chances are you know or are related to someone who is. Be loving and supportive and realize she (or he) is doing all that's possible to be everything to everyone. It's becoming more common in families and it's HARD! But whoever said it would be easy?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Trick-or-Treat and Baby feet

As we are getting in to autumn and prepping for the holidays I noticed that my CUTE Halloween decor was lacking.  I had plenty of scary and ugly but with 2 little boys running around I needed something more cute.  This is my Pinterest inspired "Trick-Or-Treat Smell My Feet"!

Cute right?!  Let's start crafting!  Here is everything that you'll need:

~White Plate 

~Acrylic Paint

~Sharpie Permanent Markers

~Cute Little Baby/Toddler Feet

To start off, make sure your plate is clean and dust free.  Then start writing the words.  I am not a perfect crafter and mess up quite often along the way.  Luckily I discovered that if you use nail polish remover and a cotton ball you can erase the letters and start over again.
 As you can see, I wrote 'treat' where I should have written 'trick'.  That's ok, it can be fixed!
After the words are written on the plate correctly, it's time to start painting some adorable little feet.  Luckily I was able to borrow my nephew's feet for the evening.
After painting his feet I realized that I used way too much paint.  Try to just paint the tips of the toes and lightly brush the rest of the foot.  From there you place the tiny foot on the plate.
**Tip: it is easier to bring the foot to the plate and press down firmly, their little toes will wiggle so this might be a 2 person job**

Place in the oven at 150 degrees for 30 min.  Then place on cooling racks until they are no longer hot.
There you go!  Cute (and cheap) Halloween decor that will bring lasting memories for years to come. They also make a great present for grandparents.  Good luck and have fun!

***This craft is meant to be a decoration only and not for eating off of.  The paint may wash of if washed/scrubbed.***

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tasty and Easy, But Like You Slaved All Day!

We all love those great dishes for dinner that seem like we've done something impressive! These enchilada's are perfectly impressive! You can make the pans in advance and cook them up later, or cook right after assembly. Better yet, if you want to assemble them in a foil pan and cover well, they even freeze great!

Chicken Enchiladas

1 large can (24-28oz) of  La Victoria mild green enchilada sauce

4 1/2 cups shredded cheese
4 cups shredded chicken (approximately 4-5 chicken breasts)
12 flour tortilla 9" size

Cook and shred chicken. Pour half of the sauce in a 9x13 pan. Assemble enchiladas with 1/3 cup chicken and 1/3 cup cheese in each tortilla. place in pan. Pour remaining sauce on top of enchilada. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Bake on 350 until heated all the way through. About 25 minutes. Serve with rice, re-fried beans, and salad. 

1.First you want to boil your chicken breasts, and shred! A great kitchen secret for those of us that have a Kitchen Aid, after boiling toss the chicken into you mixer. Use the flat paddle attachment, and mix for about a minute! Boom! beautifully shredded chicken every time.
Boiled Chicken 
Shredded chicken on speed 2

2.Next secret for this recipe is in the sauce. We have tried a lot of sauces, even have made our own. However, we have come to the conclusion that this one is best. We buy the La victoria mild green sauce. This is one of the few recipes that I pay attention to the brand and not just buy what's the best price. Pour about half of the sauce in the bottom of your 9x13 pan.

3.Now you are ready to start assembling the enchiladas. The best mix is equal parts of meat and chicken. One third cup of each fits perfect into these shells.

4.Once you learn how, rolling them is simple. I tuck each of the ends in. Next, fold over just shy of being in half. Tuck top of tortilla under in the inside and then roll tightly. Place them seam side down in your 9x13 pan. This lets everything stay inside your enchilada, instead of melting out. 

5. Pour remaining sauce over top of enchiladas, and sprinkle with remaining cheese! That's it! Bake until hot all the way through. 

Serve it up and enjoy! 
homemade re-fried beans, Brazilian seasoned rice, salad, and chicken enchilada