Friday Faves

A few lovely links to peruse this weekend…

I always find it interesting to read what’s new in home decor. this article of design trends for 2015 did not disappoint.


This recipe has been pulled up on my phone for a week now. The weekend seems a good time to make them, don’t you think?


How to Speak so that People will Listen // I was slightly disappointed to find out that I already knew all these things – mostly from reading Ephesians 4. The Bible wins.


I love finding lists of questions to use for date night. Here’s a list I just found that we’re going to use for date nights.

And finally, here are a few pictures that give a little peek into my week. Several of you mentioned you would like to see more family updates – and while that could have very well been only my family who said that, I decided to share a few pics anyway.

my week

ready for church with my cuties // her pose!! // a friend of ours moved this week and asked if she could give us her leftover food. she joked with me afterwards saying that I was so ecstatic about everything, she could have given me a paper clip and I would have been happy. I mean, what can I say? #food


visiting some sweet friends // adopted Grandpa reading to my littles // freshly washed baby {with our heart garland in the background!}


squished cheeks at the library // tearin’ away at the puzzles {literally} // my 3 boys

So there’s a snapshot into our week! You can find more pictures on my instagram page {@ BrownSugarToast}.

MONDAY! I’m sharing the results of the Reader Survey. Pie-charts and Graphs and Analyzing – oh my!
wait…did someone say pie?

Happy weekending to you!

paper heart garland

How about a little paper heart garland action for ya?

DIY paper heart garland

ONE: create a heart template out of a piece of cardboard or stiff paper.

TWO: using the template you just made, trace a heart onto a book page.

a while ago, I got this book from a library sale for 25 cents. I know some of you might be scandalized by the fact that I cut up a book. Horrors! And if you are, I deeply apologize. However, my thought on the matter is this: there are a lot of books in the world. Some of them shouldn’t have ever be written in the first place. If I can re-purpose it to a good use, so be it. There. That’s my philosophy on book crafting.

THREE: cut out the heart.

FOUR: repeat the above steps a bajillion times. I did most of mine while talking with friends. And explaining why I was cutting a bajillion hearts.

FIVE: sew the hearts together.

I’m a terrible seamstress. Originally I was going to leave a few inches of space between the hearts, but when I tried that, my thread was all bunchy between the hearts. So I scrapped that idea and decided to have the hearts right next to each other instead. I set my tension low and stitch length long so my paper wouldn’t rip from having so many holes in it. It was really fun once I got the hang of it. I just kept feeding the paper hearts to my machine. All this while listening to an intense Sherlock Holmes story – via my earbuds, of course, so my kids wouldn’t be disturbed from their rest time.

SIX: hang the garland.

I used washi tape to hang mine. I’ve had this stuff for a while and rarely use it for anything, so it was time to bring it out of hiding.

DIY paper heart garland


paper heart garland9

and here’s the finished product!

DIY paper heart garland

One of the fun little perks about this garland is it leaves such a pretty shadow on the wall. See that?

DIY paper heart garland

Incidentally, this heart garland is up during the Valentine season. But I’m planning to leave it up until I get tired of it. Which could just as easily be next month or 2 years from now. And that’s the fun in decorating your own home. You can change it up whenever you get the desire! And when you do projects like these that cost practically $0? Total win.

What have you been making lately?
I was at Lowe’s Saturday {evidence here} to pick up some supplies. I’ll have to share a peek of that project soon!

p.s. I’m going to close out the survey this week and *hopefully* share the results & my goals on Monday. If you forgot to give your feedback, today is your last chance! check it out here.


Friday Faves

friday faves gray


Friday’s are by far my favorite day of the week because it usually means I get extra time with my guy. I know some people say you shouldn’t have favorite days of the week and should love every day equally, but…I just can’t help it. There are some weekends when we have extra stuff going on and I know I won’t see him a whole lot. And on those Fridays, I just try to plan fun stuff for the kids and I  – in order to take our minds off the depressing fact that Daddy is away. ha!

Anyway, I’ve been forcing myself not to read all the survey answers until they stop trickling in. If I haven’t heard from you yet, would you pretty please click here to take my 8 question survey? I would love to hear from YOU!

This past week, something life changing happened.

I learned how to make brown rice that actually has good texture.

For a while now, I’ve been grumbling to Jonathan about my lousy results in cooking brown rice. I figured it was me or my pot because I kept following the package directions exactly as they were written with the same gross turnout. We still ate it, but it was either mushy or burnt. Not worthy of company.

However, on Tuesday, I used this recipe for brown rice and BEHOLD. The results were wonderful! I will never cook brown rice according to package directions again.


This ‘big girl’ room reveal is bright & lovely. There are several pieces I want for my room.
I don’t know what that says about my style, but I’m okay with it.


Do you ever listen to things while you work? I totally do. It makes folding laundry bearable (and here are 5 other ways to make it fun) and almost makes me forget I’m working out. Except for the whole jumping and sweating thing. I’ve been listening through Jen Wilkin’s study on James and have learned a lot. She’s the author of Women of the Word (that I reviewed here), so the teaching is solid.


Why I Don’t Want More Kids // a thought-provoking read from a blogging friend


Apple Peanut Butter Delights // from the Pioneer Woman. I’ve never made any of her recipes I didn’t like. This looks like something my kids would love.


And that’s a wrap! Don’t forget to take the survey & check out this amazing DIY course/e-book bundle if you haven’t already!

Here are a few of the ones available – you can see all the 76 courses/e-books here.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Sometimes It Pays to Wait

the e-book bundle listed below is currently unavailable.
keep your eyes peeled for more bundle deals in the future!

First of all, I absolutely must give a big shout out to all of you who have taken the time to answer the Reader Survey and give me your feedback! If you haven’t answered the 8 questions yet, could you pretty please give me your thoughts? You’ll find the survey at the bottom of this post. Also, the answers are completely anonymous, so whether you tell me you love me or hate me, I’ll have no clue who said it unless you personally type your name out in the comments section. I’ll give the survey a week or two {depending on when results stop trickling in} and then share some of the results + my thoughts with you.

Second, I had to share something that I just bought. Every so often, a great big e-book sale comes out – usually focused on a certain theme or something. A couple years ago, I bought one on Homemaking and loved it.

However, when my friend, Christina told me there was a new bundle focused on Do-It-Yourself projects, I told her I probably wouldn’t get it.

Until. I looked through the list of e-books and courses included.

For several years I’ve been toying around with the idea of taking the photography classes by ShootFlyShoot. Their photography 101 course is $67 and I was thisclose to buying it 2 years ago, but decided to just try to learn it by myself.

Shoot Fly Shoot

Fast forward 2 years…not much has changed with my photography skills.

And SO…when I noticed that this DIY bundle had Photography 101 in it and the whole bundle is $34.95?! I thought I was reading it wrong. Like maybe it was advertising a knock off brand of ShootFlyShoot’s classes. You know, like the Great Value brand of salsa or the Up&Up brand of cotton swabs? No really, I’m not a brand snob. But you know what I mean, right?

When I clicked on the link, though, I realized it was totally legit. And so I now have the ultimate DIY bundle in my very own possession. Including my entry into Photography 101! I am super excited to dig into the video classes.

If you’re remotely interested in trying out the photography 101 course, I definitely encourage you to buy it through this DIY Bundle!

There are 76 e-books & courses included in this bundle – so I’m not going to share all of them in this post. {you can see the whole list here}
I’ll just highlight a few that I’m especially excited about:

a children’s journal that looks so fun! You can click here to take a peek inside {that link takes you to amazon, though, not the bundle page}

a tassel book from the Nester {that I wanted to buy last year, didn’t, and now I’m glad I waited}:


another resource on photography from an excellent lifestyle photographer:

a Pinterest book I just read about last week and put on my mental ‘to read’ list:

and I’m pretty stoked about this furniture painting book because I’m usually game to paint anything:

There are 70 other e-books/resources that I got when I bought this bundle. I’ll be honest – some of them don’t interest me at all. But then there are others that I cannot wait to read and study. I figure – even if I only take the photography course and don’t even look at the other 75 resources? I’ve still saved $32 off a course I almost bought at full price 2 years ago. #win

Sometimes it pays to wait, doesn’t it?

Check out the bundle here!
so you know, this deal is only good until January 26. if you buy, you have 30 days to return it if you decide it’s not the right fit for you.



 Some links above may be affiliate links meaning, at no extra cost to you, I may get a commission if you make a purchase. Feel free to check out the bundle fine print or some frequently asked questions! Thanks for your support in this way! 

Pretty Please with an Organic Cherry on Top

You know what I want?
I want your feedback.

reader survey 2015

Yes – you, lovely person…the one reading this sentence.

I poured blood, sweat, and tears into creating a survey. Just 8 tiny little questions – most of them multiple choice to make it easier & quicker for you.

I greatly value your feedback – also, today just happens to be my 7 month birthday, so ya know – I’ll count this as your birthday present to me.

Pretty please with an organic cherry on top?

Muchos gracias. Blessings on your head. Grazi. And all the rest.

Friday Faves

friday faves

Some interesting links for you to peruse this weekend…

Last week, I mentioned that Jonathan & I have been reading New Morning Mercies together. It’s a 365 day devotional book written by Paul Tripp. If you’re interested in checking it out, you can view all the January devotionals in a PDF here. Or you can get your own copy.

new morning mercies

I love it when people share their fave products, so of course I enjoyed reading through Emily’s 10 Best Buys of 2014. Here’s my list if you haven’t seen it yet!


A good article written by an incredibly handsome man: The Gospel Is Not Training Wheels.


So inspired by this lovely bathroom renovation. My fave part is all the lovely wood going on in this shot:


I signed up for this free course about discovering your inner creative genius. Definitely check it out and share it with your friends to earn rewards {like a free year of Better Homes & Gardens mags!}.


Also, some of you asked me to share my goal breakdown for 2015. In case you missed that, here is part 1 and part 2.

Have a lovely weekend, friends!

Don’t forget to keep up with me on facebook and subscribe here for emails!

Some links above may be affiliate links meaning, at no extra cost to you,
I may get a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support in this way!

10 Questions for Moms :: my personal goals {part 2}

10 Questions for Moms :: my personal goals {part 1}

If you haven’t read my personal goals for questions 1-5 {and provided me with your electronic signature}, you can do that here. Or if you haven’t checked out the 10 Questions for Moms, click here.

Otherwise, let’s get this show on the road. Here are my personal goals for questions 6-10:

Am I intentionally discipling my children to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength?

Clearly, the whole “discipling children” thing doesn’t really happen during 30 minute segments. It’s definitely a ‘life thing.’ However, one thing I’ve added to our schedule in an attempt to be more intentional in teaching them is a morning Bible & prayer time. We usually have a family devotional time in the evenings before bedtime. But in the mornings, we read a Psalm, talk about a verse or 2 {just whatever sticks out to me}, and then we each pray. I just told Jonathan that this has easily become my most favorite part of the day. To hear them pray and just talk to God? Priceless. I shared one of the things Anna Grace prayed here.

Do I use my time with friends primarily to encourage them in their walk with God or to serve myself?

So I guess I could ask my friends. Like I asked my husband this question.
But that could get ugly. Let’s not talk about how.

I read this article on friendships yesterday. And that’s my goal – to pursue Christ along with my friends.
If they don’t know Him? Then I want to show them Christ.
If they do? Then I want to have a relationship where we’re both turning each other’s eyes back to Him.

Am I regularly sharing the Gospel with others? How can I do this more effectively?

I shared a story with you before about regularly being a light just while doing whatever you’re doing. And that’s something God has taught me – to be looking and praying for opportunities to share Jesus with others. That way, when someone comes to my door, my response can be, “Oh look! God brought someone right to my door because He knew I wasn’t going to get out of the house today!” instead of, “EVERYONE BE QUIET UNTIL THEY LEAVE.”

Also, there’s a mom’s group in my area that I’ve been able to get involved with – things like playdates and such. It has been great for my kids and for me, so I plan to get involved there at least once a month.

Do my children know that I love to be with them? What can I do to build my love relationship with them and so teach them about God’s forever love?

My kids have very different personalities. So what speaks love to one doesn’t necessarily speak love to another. But there was one simple thing that came to mind for each of my kids.
Right now, Anna Grace loves playing games and being read to. So each day before rest time, I’ve been reading a chapter or two of a longer book. She’s eating it up!
Nate loves to snuggle – especially after his nap. This coincides with my time to get dinner ready. No bueno. But I’ve been working to get some dinner prep done early so that I can hold him for a while. He’s a big fan – and let’s be honest – I love it.
Miles loves to be held and read to. My parents got him a train book for Christmas that he loves reading! We usually read that on repeat.

Am I effectively stewarding my night hours so that my home, body, and mind are prepared to rest?

No. I was clearly NOT doing this well. Which is why I asked myself this question. Here are my personal goals:

  • kitchen counters/sink cleared
  • toys & other random objects off floors
  • oatmeal in bowls for breakfast
  • sleeping by 11

Lemme tell ya, it makes getting up earlier the next day so much easier when I can wake up to a clean{ish} house.

So, that’s it. My 10 personal answers to the 10 questions. Has this been a bore to read? Because I’ve been kinda bored to write it out. Maybe because I’ve been thinking through it so much? Or maybe because it is legitimately boring.

However, I remind myself that you did actually ask for it. Or at least some of you did. And so, I hope it’s been a bit helpful – or at least amusing – to you! ;)

Keep up with me on facebook and subscribe here for emails!

10 Questions for Moms :: my personal goals {part 1}

First of all, I am very thankful that the 10 Questions for Moms post has been helpful to you. My favorite thing is when you say you’re taking these questions to God in prayer. You know what? That thrills my heart. If you read posts here and are drawn to the Lord in prayer, I call that success.

Several of you mentioned – either by email, facebook, or via comments – that you would like to see my personal goal breakdown for the 10 Questions I shared earlier.

10 questions for moms in the new year. God centered, thought provoking questions!

While I definitely want to be helpful to you as you consider these questions for yourself, I’ve actually struggled with the thought of sharing my personal goal breakdown with you. And, as insecure as I can be, it actually has nothing to do with the thought that someone may think my goals are ridiculous.

It has everything to do with the fact that I don’t want you to copy my goal breakdown.

Can I say that again? I really don’t want you to copy my goal breakdown. If you can read this and get ideas for your own goals, go for it. But please understand – by sharing my goals, I am not at all implying that your goals need to look like mine in order for you to be a success. Actually, your goals shouldn’t look like mine. Because God has made us all different.

So. With that said, if you easily compare yourself to others, can you do something for me? Please don’t read the rest of this post. Just take this list of 10 questions to God and see what answers He wants you to give.

However, if you promise that you will not copy the following answers for yourself, then you can provide your electronic signature here (___________________) and read on.

I’m kidding about the signature. I know – #lame. I’m pretending you’re laughing.

Since there are 10 questions, I’m going to divide this up into 2 posts, so as not to write an epistle and overwhelm you with information. Here are my personal answers for the first 5 questions:

Can I structure my mornings to be better prepared in body, mind, and spirit for my children?

YES. Big FAT yes. Over the last few months, my kids and I have been sick a lot. Because of that, I’ve found myself sleeping as late as possible. Thus, I haven’t been faithful in exercising and I haven’t been able to have a quiet time with God in the mornings.
My personal goal? Wake up at 6:30 on weekdays, read this devotional with my husband, exercise, shower, and spend time talking/listening to God. As long as I don’t press snooze, this schedule has been working out really well. It’s also helpful if my kids don’t throw up in the night. But ya know, that’s already happened twice in 2015 and it’s only January 12, so…
I’m finding that the important thing with this goal is jumping back in the saddle when I get thrown off my horse. Comprendo? I’m so good at illustrations.

Can I improve my level of physical activity so that my body is stronger to meet the physical demands God has given me?

Oh yeah. As I mentioned above, exercising really went out the window when I stopped doing it before my kids woke up. When I only had 1 and 2 kids, I would often take them running in my jogging stroller. Now that there are 3, I’ve found I’m most consistent with exercise when I do it before they wake up. My goal for January is to use this dvd 5 days/week. (I’ve had this workout for 5 years, so I’m super familiar with the routines. Therefore, I always put it on mute – for many reasons.) I’ll evaluate at the end of the month to see if I want to change things up.

How can I adjust our meals so I’m fueling my family with the best possible nutrition for our bodies and minds?

We are still using this method of meal planning and I love it. But I switched out some of our meals for healthier alternatives. One of my goals was to use a lot of fresh vegetables. A second goal is to help my kids love salads. I figure they can’t love salads unless they start eating them while they’re young. So I’m incorporating fresh salads into our meals several times a week. In addition, we’ve been adding more meatless meals. I have a green light from my husband on this, so I’m running with it. We’re loving our meals so far!

Is the way I treat my husband an accurate portrayal of Christ’s goal for me as a respectful, loving, and submissive wife?


Har Har Har.
Okay, well, if you’re struggling to determine your answer to this question, take my advice – ask your husband. Yikes. Maybe provide some good food and make sure any children are asleep so that you can listen in private without other ears hearing his answer. The food is to let him know you’re not going to bite his head off when he offers feedback. If you feel the need to bite his head off, grab a baguette and start chomping away instead.

My personal answer? I want to improve on the loving aspect. Specifically, loving by listening. As my husband works on his PhD work, there are many things he’s studying and wants to talk about. Let me be clear: I love listening to and talking with my husband. But.
Nevermind – no buts. In addition, as I listen to him talk about his PhD studies, I have to focus in a very different way than when I listen to my children tell me stories. Like, it actually stretches my brain. And sometimes I think it’s going to snap. But I realized that my listening to him is very important because he told me so. And I really love knowing what he’s studying. It just takes work – as does anything in life worth pursuing.

If you’re working to build your marriage, you may find this 31 Days of Building Your Marriage series helpful!

Am I developing a habit that is causing me to be unproductive with my time and resources?

Yeah. That whole facebook thing? Yikes. I’m going to go back to this goal for the rest of January to try to reign in my time:

How to find liberty through limiting yourself. It really is possible!

That’s it for the first 5 questions! I’ll share my answers for the last 5 on Wednesday.

Have you taken time to answer these questions for yourself? If so, what are your goals? I’d love to read them!
If you have a blog and post about them, feel free to share your link in the comments!