Monday, October 21, 2013

I am loved and so are you

Hey guys. I sort of fell off the grid there for a bit so I thought I'd stop in with a little update.

I think I'm getting close to being ready to start this blog back up again. My dad's death has been a big blow for me and my family to say the least and I've taken the last 2 months or so to do some really serious soul searching and re-evaluating my life and my priorities. I'm so happy to say that I am in a very good place. I know that I will see my dad again someday and it gives me so much comfort knowing how busy he is up there doing missionary work. I've also tried to improve my life in every role I play; mom, wife, homemaker, friend, and church calling. I was an incomplete person when I was working on the blog before, so it always felt like work and other areas of my life were being pushed to the back burner. Now, I'm very happy with how I (and, of course, my Heavenly Father) have shaped my life and I can enjoy sharing with you guys. I'm so grateful for all that my Father in Heaven has blessed me with. I have an amazing family. I have wonderful, supportive friends and a church community that always looks out for me. I have this incredible gospel that gives me so much comfort about the past, joy in the present, and hope for the future. I am so completely loved. I pray that all of you know that you are, too.

Monday, September 2, 2013


Last week, very suddenly, my dad passed away. I was able to fly out to be with my mom and siblings and so many friends and family the past few days so we could support and love each other. The funeral was a couple days ago and absolutely beautiful. I've never seen a room so full. My dad was truly loved. I'm in town with my family only another day or two, but I'm planning on taking this week to remember him and process. I apologize for not posting any new content this week and I thank you for understanding.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Family, Home, and Me with Amelia

Sweet Amelia is next up for our FHandM series. Her blog, Bold Meets Basic, is definitely one of my go-to blogs for outfit inspiration. She has the most creative combos of, you guessed it, basic and bold pieces. And I love her view on fashion. "Our appearance empowers us. It is an expression and a form of art." Um, amen! 

all photos c/o Amelia

Family is the one subject I could go on for days and days about, but I don't want to bore all of you! Lets just start off with the fact that family is the most important factor in my life. I come from a huge Italian family who loves to talk loud, eat, and get together as much as possible!  I have twenty-four first cousins, and we're still growing! In my immediate family, I am the oldest of three kids. My parents have been together for twenty-six years, and still completely in love. I look up to both of them everyday, and I'm still so impressed with how they go about their lives. I couldn't have asked for a better set of parents. They're the best! My younger sister, Ali is my absolute best friend. I couldn't be more blessed to have a sister who is so completely understanding, trustworthy, kind, and simply beautiful! My younger brother, Vince, is just one of those kids that every parent would dream to have. Athletic, outgoing, funny, smart, and lovable are just a few words that come to mind when describing him. Like any younger brother, we struggle with getting along some days, but in reality, I don't know what I would do without that kid! When I was asked to do a portion on family, I couldn't think of just one memory or recipe to describe my family, because in reality, everyday that I spend with each and every member of my family is worth writing about!

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of my home would be organization! I strongly believe that organization is key to EVERYTHING! I am one of those crazy people that gets rid of a piece (or two) out of my wardrobe before adding a new one in. I hate keeping clothes that I never wear, I just never saw a point in it! My advice to all of you is to just keep your house and closet organized and your life will be SO much easier!

This one was a hard topic for me to extend on, but if I were to have to choose a topic to discuss about me it would have to be my love for fashion. At a young age I discovered I had a strong opinion on not only what looks good on me, but others as well. As the years have gone by, my love for fashion has remained. Just this past year I started my own personal fashion blog, Bold Meets Basic. It has become something that I am really proud of, and I have truly enjoyed every aspect of it! For those of you out there who have thought about writing your own blog, whether it is for fashion, food, or even just life, I strongly suggest you pursue it! It gives you a sense of accomplishment everyday, and for that I couldn't be more proud!

Thank you so much, Amelia! Be sure to check out Bold Meets Basic for some of THE best outfit inspiration ever! 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Update: Homemade Body Wash

Since my post about Homemade Body Wash in February, I've continued to make and use it. I've developed some tips and tricks after making it a few more times that I thought I'd share with you. Heaven knows the first time I made it turned out to be kind of a disaster so hopefully some of these tips might answer some questions you might have or make the process a little easier.

1. Grate the soap using a food processor
Put the round multi-blade attachment so the smallest holes are facing up and push the soap down into it. Grating the soap as fine as you can makes the melting process much faster. Trying to break it up in the food processor with the normal blades around the bottom of the container doesn't work. The soap will just get stuck to the blades and won't break up. Trust me. Using the food processor dirties a few more dishes, but it's so much faster and it won't give your hand a cramp.

2. Use 3 cups of water per bar of soap
The original recipe I followed called for 2 and I accidentally added 3 the first time I made it which worked out great. I thought I'd give 2 cups a try this time to see how it turned out. Once it cooled, it was too solid. I could have poured it into molds while it was still hot and would have ended up back with bar soap again! It's supposed to thicken up. Really, it is. But there was no way that would break up in my blender (see #5). Maybe it's the type of soap I'm using. (My wonderful mommy bought me Caswell Massey Almond Cold Cream Bath Soaps. Yuuuummy!! I'm super spoiled.) If you're unsure of how much water to add, try making it with 2 cups and see how it turns out. If it's too thick once it cools, simply add another cup of water and put it back on the heat. It will melt in a matter of minutes at this point because it's already watered down.

3. Stir as you're waiting for the soap to melt in the water
In the past, I've always tossed in the grated soap and walked away. I'd come back every few minutes and very little progress would be made as far as melting is concerned. I'd stir it and walk away again. I'd do this for upwards of an hour and a half! Ain't nobody got time for that!! I tried stirring it today and, what do you know, it went so much faster. A matter of 15-20 minutes or so!

Bring the water to boil and then turn down the heat so no bubbles are surfacing
 before you put in the soap. The soap will burn to the bottom of the pan if you melt it at 
too hot a temperature. 

4. Wait for the soap to cool completely before putting it into your container
The soap will solidify a lot which leads me to my next tip...

5. Blend it
In a blender. Or if you happen to be one of the lucky ones, use your immersion blender. The blender will break it up so it's no longer solid and make it so nice and creamy and rich. And it will stay that way when you put it in your body wash container.

I hope this helps. Making body wash used to be stressful for me because I never knew how it was going to turn out. But now I know that by using these tricks, the process will be easier, faster and the end result will be so worth it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Family, Home, and Me with Kassidy

Next up in the FHandM series is one of my dearest friends, Kassidy. She's having a baby shower tonight for her third kid/first daughter and I'm so excited that I get to be in town for it! Even though she's my little (much taller) sister, she has always been an incredible example to me. If you had told me when I was a pre-teen that I would one day view her as one of my best friends, I wouldn't have believed you in a million years. There was a long time where we definitely did not get along (understatement of the century), but it's amazing what a similar situation and the Gospel can do to bring people together. I love her with all my heart and am so proud to be her sister. 

Living peacefully in a family isn’t always easy, but in God’s restored Church, marriage and families are the most important social unit now and in eternity.” 

I feel so very blessed to have the husband, and children that I have. I never thought a love so deep was so possible. Every day I thank my Heavenly Father for my blessings, and everyday I feel like he gives me more. 

When I walk by my three-year-old’s room and hear “Dear Heavenly Father, please bless that my toe will stop hurting. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen”, a joy fills my heart greater than I could have ever imagined. He will then rush to me exclaiming with glee “MOM! I prayed and because of my faith it worked!” This is pure joy.

When I watch my second try for minutes, hours, sometimes days to do something he’s seen his older brother do, and he finally “gets” it, the look on his face is pure joy.

When I watch my boys wait by the front door for their dad, that is pure joy. When I ask my kids what they want to do, and they ask to read the book of Mormon, that is pure joy. When my husband waits until I catch his eye just to blow me a kiss, that is pure joy. 

It’s during these times that it is easy for feel peace and the spirit with your family. It’s during the trying to cook dinner, the house is a mess, and the baby is crying times that it’s more difficult. So how do we live peacefully in a family all the time? We’ve been taught that we need to spend our time on the things that are most important to Heavenly Father and eternal salvation. If it is the most important social unit now and in eternity, then we should be spending our time WITH our families. While quality time is important, so it quantity. As mothers, it can be hard to appreciate the time we have with our children. For those of us that are able to stay home with them, we are with them all the time. For some, it’s hard to get over the monotony of the day-to-day happenings. For some it’s coping with the phase changes from the happy sweet stage to the tantrum-throwing fit, fight over everything stage. And for some, it’s trying to find peace in the crazy-never-having-a-moment-to-stop, endless responsibilities of life with kids. We must focus our attention on the precious spirits we get to spend time with. We must try, even when we’re tired, to teach our kids the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the importance and reverence of everything He did for us. We must show through example, how to keep our cool, and that happiness is a choice, not something someone or something has to give to us. We must show patience, even when everyone is crying, sweat is dripping off your face, the shopping cart has a broken wheel and your car door won’t open. We must focus ourselves on living as close to Christ as possible, including our kids in our spiritual moments, and inviting them to share their testimonies with us. We must show them unconditional love if we want them to stay close to us and to our Heavenly Father.

A critical part in feeling peace in our families is the way we treat our spouses. More and more research is showing that the most important thing you can give your kids is your love to your spouse. Spend time with them, make their favorite treat, stop what you’re doing to give them a hug and kiss when they get home from work. Show your children that your spouse is your #1. After all, they are the one you get to spend eternity with. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to go on a date every night and ignore your kids, but when you have kids, they are the activity you do with your spouse. Share stories, read books, laugh, play cars (or whatever your kids are interested in), go for a walk or bike ride, build a fort, clean the house, make a treat together, the possibilities are endless. In the last general conference, we were taught that dinnertime should be the main focus or center of our days. We must not turn the TV on every night until bedtime, too exhausted to move. We must find the energy needed to show our kids that we have fun together, all together.  Make sure to talk to your spouse.  Talk about their day, anything going on in their life, and ask them questions. It’s easy to become critical and find problems with our spouses. After all, no one is perfect. There are several couples I have observed over the years, and while I don’t see what happens behind closed doors, you can just tell they are each other’s soul mates, and they cherish every second they have with each other. One thing they all have in common is they are always thinking about each other. They are always finding small things they can do for the other one, without expecting anything in return. Most of the time, they do get something in return, but no one will find happiness and peace while thinking of themselves. Show your kids this. Be a good example of unconditional love to your spouse. Show them how much joy there is to experience through the eternal bonds of being sealed in the temple. Be the spouse you want your spouse to be, and it will happen, I promise.

So the way to have unconditional peace in your family? Have unconditional peace in your heart and it will pass on to the rest of your family. It may not happen overnight, but show them the love, and they too will show you the love, therefore bringing joy and peace to your family, home, and eternity.

A mere desire to become self-reliant is not enough. We must make a conscious, active effort to provide for our own needs and those of our families. Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop, reminds us that when we have done all we can to be self-reliant, “we can turn to the Lord in confidence to ask for what we might yet lack.” Being self-reliant allows us to bless others. Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles says, “Only when we are self-reliant can we truly emulate the Savior in serving and blessing others.” 

One goal my family has is to become self-reliant. We’ve started by raising chickens, rabbits, gardening (very, VERY beginner mind you), gathering food storage and preparedness materials, learning to make our own food, and learning household and car maintenance tasks. We still have a long way to go, and to be honest it’s completely intimidating. It is hard work to go outside when it’s 90 degrees outside, pretty pregnant and clean chicken poop while carrying at least one kid on my back, but you know what? It’s completely worth it. I love this quote about being “active”. I’m finding what it really means to be able to “rest” on the Sabbath, and my relationship with the Savior is able to grow as I catch a glimpse into what it was like to make the world knowing there was a rest day at the end.  I wonder though- do you think they just napped the whole day, or do you think they were a little excited, relieved, documented what they learned, what they might do differently next time, and think about what is next?

My piece of advice on this one…Do something to become more self-reliant. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but do something. Whether it’s storing a couple gallons of water, learning a new skill such as sewing or car repairs, or growing some herbs, anything is a good start. After all the warnings and counsel we’ve been given, we NEED to start somewhere. We need to turn to the Lord in earnest prayer to figure out “where we lack”, and know where to start. I’m probably the last person to be giving anyone advice on this. It’s just something I personally have felt is important to focus on with raising a young family.

As in all things, the Savior set the perfect example in the love He showed for His earthly mother. In the final, most pivotal moment of His mortal life—after the anguish of Gethsemane, the mock trial, the crown of thorns, the heavy cross to which He was brutally nailed—Jesus looked down from the cross and saw His mother, Mary, who had come to be with her Son. His final act of love before He died was to ensure that His mother would be cared for, saying to His disciple, “Behold thy mother!” And from that point on the disciple took her unto his home. As the scriptures say, then Jesus knew that “all things were now accomplished,” and He bowed His head and died” 
– Bradley D. Foster 
Second Quorum of the Seventy

The whole point of this life is to become like Christ with His love for others. I love the way Brother Foster described the Savior’s love for his mother. The last thing he did was make sure his mother would be cared for. I hope I show my children the love Mary must have shown the Savior for him to think of her while in so much pain. No one would question if his last thought was “wow, this really sucks”, or “It’s almost over, I can do this”. His last thought was for his mom.
I don’t think there should ever be “me time”. It may sound harsh, but it’s a skill we need to develop if we are ever able to become like the Savior. Did the Savior ever say “I need ten minutes to myself”, or did he ever need to veg on a treat while catching up on his favorite “show” to be able to continue on with his day. He faced much harder things than I, and he continued to show love and concern for others above himself, yet I find myself daily in the food closet needing 30 seconds of chocolate chip medicine so I don’t lose it.

My piece of advice for this “me” section would be to lose the “me”. Think of others. The more we think of others, the more we are like the Savior. The more we’re like the Savior, the closer we are to living with him again and the better “me” we are as an example for our influential kiddos. When we are lying on our deathbed, it won’t matter how we looked while out with our kids. It won’t matter how many miles we ran, and it won’t matter how cute our house was. What will matter is the “me” we were for our children to look up to, come to, and become like.

Thanks so much, Kass. What an incredible, motivating message. I'm so lucky to have a sister like her to be an example for me. 

If you are interested in contributing to my FHandM series, please email me at
gracefullykensie [at] gmail [dot] com.