Friday, November 28, 2014

2014 Unique Gift Guide

Every year I always search for awesome and unique gifts to give to family and friends. I love the process of picking just the right one. Below I have included two of my favorite for each category:  woman, men, and children. I hope they give you some ideas too!


I wont lie, my theme for the ladies this year is "bling". I am going through a phase right now. If it sparkles, I want it. This notion is pretty clear with my top picks! I am especially fond of the Jewel Scent candles. Basically, its two great gifts in one. First a lovely scented candle, after a piece of jewelry ranging anywhere from $10 to $7000 in value!
Diamond Toothpicks $19.95

Jewel Scent Candles- Candles with jewelry inside! 24.99


Whether the men in your life are geeky or classic, one of my picks will surely fit the bill! Truly, my husband fits somewhere between the two and would love either of these gifts!
Loot Crate- prices range- $13.37

Key Shaped Pocket Knife- $27.90

I am happy to include the NIV adventure Bible this year! I just think it is a super neat gift for children that keeps on giving. These Bibles make the Bible fascinating for young readers with tid bits of fun info, memory verses, and food for thought. I was blessed to be able to provide a few of these great Bibles to kiddos in my church due to the kindness of Family Christian. I highly recommend them! 
NIV Adventure Bible $29.99

Aquatic BioBubble- Prices range-149.99

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Encouraging Contentment Over the Holidays

The Christmas season is a beautiful time. It is a time of giving, imagination, and excitement. However, the holidays can also bring out some of the worst in our children as well as ourselves. If we are not careful it can be a time of “Give me!” and “Get that!,” rather than the very special time its meant to be. In fact, I always think of the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” at this time of year. I think of the little girl who insists on having everything- whenever or however she wants it. The lesson in the movie is clear, that attitude can only hurt you. It especially important to encourage contentment to our kids during the Christmas season.

It can be a difficult but an important lesson for a child to learn that you can’t always get everything you want. As adults we know this all too well, what a gift we can give our children by helping them to learn contentment at a young age! Allowing your kids time to understand this and learn how to find joy and pleasure in other things will give them an edge in life. Wouldn’t it be great if we raised a generation who finds happiness in serving others? What if every child saw Christmas as a time to give rather than receive? How much sweeter would the season be?

As parents it is easy to get caught up in the event. Shopping, wrapping, Santa Claus;  it all adds to craziness. However the best way to teach our children contentment it to live by example. Practically speaking it means behaving and speaking like “gifts” are the not the most important thing about the holiday season. Creating and sticking to a holiday budget is a fabulous way to set boundaries to the spending and make the season more about the event. If your children realize in advance that there are limits set, they will be less likely to disappointed in a smaller Christmas.  In fact, they may  appreciate it more!

Encouraging your children to go along with this foreign thought about the holiday season is not as hard as it may seem. There are so many  great ways to make the season about others. I’ve collected a few things that are easy and  friendly to nearly all aged children. 

  • Random Acts of Kindness. You can join a group on Facebook or do it on your own. The whole point is to nice things for others everyday in December.
  • The Angel Tree- Next time you are at the mall pick up an angel for your entire family to adopt. Make it an event and go out and shop for the child. Making another  local child’s Christmas will be an unforgettable experience for the kiddos.
  • Operation Christmas Child- Doing something similar to The Angel Tree, Operation Christmas Child goes to giving Christmas to kids around the world who may have never had on before! This option is more affordable because you only have to fill up a shoe box. Many local churches are drop off points for these gifts.
  • Retirement and Nursing Homes- Bringing a little joy to people who may  otherwise be alone during the holiday season can open up your children’s eyes to how wonderful it is to spend the season with family. Whether you go to sing, bring cookies, or just chat awhile, it will be a heartwarming event for everyone.
  • Food Pantries- Not every family will have a big Christmas this year. In fact, many don't even have enough food. Donating to a local food pantry could ensure a much merrier holiday for a family in need.
  • Letting Go- Letting go of the old is a refreshing way to teach contentment and  clear the clutter from your home. Before Christmas, give each child a box and ask them to fill it with clothing they no longer wear and toys they no longer use. This activity will allow your children time to realize how blessed they really are. Once they all have full boxes, donate the items appropriately.
  • Work to Shop- Don’t just buy your child’s gifts for others this year. Make them work for it! Allow them to do chores and earn the required money to purchase the gifts they wish to buy. Not only does this teach responsibility, it also teaching budgeting!

Last but not least, make the season about more than gifts. Make a point to spend time with the family. Start new traditions and make the season count! Christmas comes only once a year, but the lesson of contentment follows a child through life!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Need to Breath

True inspiration rarely comes in a way that you expect it should. In fact, I sat at my laptop almost daily with a lack of ideas and writing desire. The fact is, my love for writing is hindered by lack of true inspiration. I often wonder want kind of life one must live in order to find that kind of inspiration on a daily basis. I cant imagine an artist or writer who has had that experience and didn't border on insanity. Perhaps it takes insanity to find it, not the other way around. None the less, today I write now due to true inspiration but out of need; a need to write, to breath. Its like I've been going without air these past few weeks.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I am doing well with my personal journey of weight loss. I am down over fifty pounds at this point. That is a drastic change considering I started at the beginning of the school year. However I have found that my strict requirements for food have made eating a chore. I truly get no pleasure from it any longer. I find this incredibly heartbreaking. My Italian, creative, adventurous nature misses the excitement and the exploration that food allowed. Although food and cooking are no longer the enjoyable event they once were, I crave that. I don't really crave food. Its not the food I miss, but the variety.

Beyond food I have attempted to find other ways to fill that ever growing void I am discovering. I wish blogging had been my first response but as I said, inspiration lacks. I have taken back to reading again. If I do not force myself to open my laptop, I can complete nearly an entire book before bed. I have also allowed myself to start the holidays early. I enjoy Christmas more than any other time of the year. I figure that it should bring back some of that passion I lack. Lastly, I am getting worlds more done around the house. This is not my idea of a good time, but my family surely appreciates it.

Ive done tons of laundry!

I laugh at myself for writing such a random and unusual post. I do promise that in the very near future I will have a few Christmas related posts. I really want to work on my gift guide before black Friday rolls around I also hope to get in a post about thankfulness, since Thanksgiving is only a week away.

I would love to hear your tips and thoughts on inspiration. It would be soothing to know that I am not alone or get advice from those who have perfected the art!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

I Don't Like Green Beans Anymore


As I continue on my weight-loss journey, I realize why it is so important for people who lose weight to make a lifestyle change. I also realize how hard this is for me. Although I am doing well and don't "cheat," my mind is still making this  phase. Somewhere deep down, my brain is saying "a little longer and you can eat all the bread you want!" Which is far from the truth. I will spend the rest of my life from here on out being careful.

I don't think I was fully prepared when I took all this on. I also didn't know how boring food can become with so many restrictions. I have come to a point now that I don't want to even look at cauliflower and I don't like green beans much anymore. Its not that either are bad, I just have had SO much that I don't find them appealing.

However, out of this food darkness comes a silver lining. I am happy to report that I am down over 40lbs and I have gone down about three pants sizes. I feel like that is all worth celebrating. I know all this will be worth it in the end. I will be glad to put my daily life of pain aside for a more active one. Although I do not really mind my size, I have been made aware how important it is for my severe arthritis that  lose it weight quickly.

I would love to start sharing and collecting a few healthy recipes. Please feel free to share or link up below to some of your favorites! Help me get out of my boredom rut!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thinking of Christmas

I wont lie, I've kind of been consumed with thinking about Christmas over the past week or so. I have plans to post a gift giving guide this month. I am also hoping to share my guide to making it an awesome Christmas with kids. I also want to write a post on teaching contentment over the holidays! I have already started to listen to Christmas music. Its pretty crazy.

I was recently given Guy Penrod's Christmas CD for review and I love it. As I listened to it, it brings back tons of great memories of my childhood. I have always loved the holiday season. I love the sights. I love the sounds. Its a whole experience for me. I really feel like this CD gives me these feelings again. It has a great variety of classic Christmas songs. The range of musical styles make for an enjoyable listening experience. I definitely recommend this one! I would love for you to have a chance to listen to it too. Here's your chance! If you just cant wait, you can check it out on

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Have I ever mentioned that  am a big fan of weather? Really, its true! I love the study of it, watching it, and researching it. I have often times thought about the exciting career of storm chasers. In my book, the more severe or crazy, the more exciting.

I am especially fond of tornadoes and snow. I am perhaps one of the only adults in the world that truly love snow. I think weather is such a fascinating topic.

I consider myself a true nerd. This fascination being proof. If you too like weather you can check out my Great Weather Pinterest board!

Do you consider yourself to be a nerd? Why or why not?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Weird Things I Do When I am Alone

I have come to believe that we all do weird things when we are alone. Most people are not crazy enough to talk about it. Of course then you have people like me. With inspiration and down but my desire to write up, I began searching for some challenges to help me. This was the first topic on the first list I found. It intrigued me and now here we are.

So, first I will say that I am not a fan of "airing my dirty laundry" in front of everyone, so I don't plan on doing that now. However, I am kinda weird in general and I have a large number of odd things I do when I am alone. Read my list below and see if you and I have any alike OR if you are brave share one of your own!

  • I write lists about random things.
    A list like thing I made for my blog
  • I draw fashion designs.
  • I look at all my flaws in the mirror. I inspect them and sometimes attempt to fix them (Pluck hairs, etc)
  • Read articles online. My husband like to joke that every conversation I start begins with "I read this article..."
  • Clean my ears. I am guilty of doing this several times a day. Don't ask me why, they are itchy I guess.
  • Take silly quizzes online
  • Research bra sizing
  • Mess with my very dry feet in the attempt to help them. 

  • Take really long, very hot showers just because I am cold, the I don't want to get out and feel the old air again.
  • Work out and listen to girl empowering songs.

Friday, October 24, 2014

VeggieTales Fun

I love the fall! There are so many wonderful family activities in the fall. I make a point to do something special with my boys every weekend during this time. If you are looking for something awesome to do with your kiddos, do I have an idea for you! Plus, you could win something cool out of it too!
Family Christian stores is hosting what promises to be a veg-tastic event! At any point on October 31st, stop by your local Family Christian store dressed as a veggie! It doesn't have to be one from VeggieTales, but it could be! The best part about the whole thing is, you kids get to have a blast dressing up. Children will also receive a little gift when you stop by.

In order to enter all you have to do is take a photo of your child in veggie form and upload it your social media of choice.  Then, tag @Familychristian and use the hashtag #FCVeggies! Simple as that!

The grand prize winner will receive a $250 gift card for Family Christian. However that is not the only winners! Five runner ups will each receive a $50 appreciation certificate.  

 So what are you waiting for? Get creative and start thinking VEGGIE! If you are looking for some ideas or inspiration you can check out the "Dress like a Veggie" Pinterest Board.

I'd also love to see your kiddos pictures so feel free to tag me as well @dolcedellavita

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


I wont lie, I am so discouraged by my current medical state. I am getting no answers from doctors. I have no answers for myself. I know something is wrong but no one seems to know how to fix it. I am on the verge of a breakdown. I can feel it coming.

I have been on a strict diet for over six weeks now. I have not cheated. I have been faithful. I have worked out and done everything that is right. However, with no help seen in my future, I lack the encouragement I need to continue.

I say all this to say, what do you do when you feel like giving up? How do you deal with things when nothing goes right? Sometimes we just wont get answers for the questions we ask, but it doesn't make it any easier. How do you cope with the not knowing or not having an explanation for things that should be there?

I have always been blessed with child-like faith. For this reason I have always been able to turn to God in difficult times. Recently I have even struggled to give it over to him. I do not know what season of life I am in, but I struggle.

Honestly, everyone struggles. Some of us struggle in different areas or at different times. It would be a great blessing to me to hear from a few people from all parts of the journey. Are you struggling with me? Have you been through and have advice for a weary traveler?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Becoming Myself: Embracing God's Dream of You

I often find that when I am in the midst of a time of self examination, I write more. Perhaps this is because that has always been my way of dealing with things. I have always enjoyed the art of journaling. Anne Frank's Dairy always fascinated and scared me for that reason. I always imagined someone finding my words. I was in fear of what finding out what the real me looked like would mean. At a very young age I began to write poetry, which was an acceptable way to get my words to readers. I went from poetry to some prose and eventually onto the wonderful world of blogging.

Apparently writing has helped me discover, cope, and celebrate my entire life. I am blessed that along with my love for it, I also got a measure of talent as well. However, I don't think its a requirement for one to have superb writing skills in order to express their feelings through journaling. I really feel like writing is a lot like music; if you love to do it, who cares what others think.

I have recently been reading the book Becoming Myself: Embracing God's Dream of You which I received from Family Christian Stores. In this book the author Stasi Elderdge does a lot of what I consider to be "journaling". She relives some of her memories in a very real way. She also shares the stories of others. She shares all this for the purpose of helping the reader to start embracing who they truly are- what God sees them as. No matter where you are in your life journey, you have been through a time of self doubt. We all have. This book is really helping me see those times in a new light.

So far I can say that I recommend the book. You can buy it in stores or online at  Its hitting close to home in many ways for me. I also always recommend taking the time to write. I really think journaling is for everyone. To prove it, I have a very special giveaway.

Please feel free to enter it and join me in the writing journey!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Miscarriage and Infant Loss Awareness Day

October 15th is Miscarriage and infant loss awareness day. This topic is so close to home for me because it is not just statistics to me, its who I am. I am the one in four who has lost a child.

In this day an time it seems that this issue is taken so lightly. People brush off this loss as little and expect woman and families to go on like normal after it. However, having gone through this, that little life will always be a part of you.

Its about time we stop ignoring the hurting woman everywhere. We need to bind together and build a strong connection of support so every mother who has lost a child can have sanctuary. It doesn't matter whether you were 10 weeks along or your baby made it to birth or beyond, the loss of a child is a very real pain.

Join with me in supporting those who have gone through this. My miscarriage happened before finding out my child's gender. My family had already lovingly nicknamed them "Squash". "Squash" will always be a part of my heart, even if no one ever got to meet their beautiful face.

If you have been through this, I know the pain you feel. Let's break the silence!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Is it Christmas Yet?

I love Christmas! I realize that it is only October, but I am aching for the arrival of December. I love the sounds, smells, and sights of the season. I love the reason why we celebrate. I love decorating, shopping, and baking. I've been spending some time recently preparing for the holiday season. Which is mostly playing on Pinterest and creating board of  companies I would love to work with for gift guides, ideas for gift making, and Christmas cookies.

All this makes me wonder, are there other people as passionate about the holiday as I am? If so, could we be buddies?!

What is your favorite holiday? How and when do you start preparing for it?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I am a Dreamer

Did you know I that I am a dreamer? I am sure that all my regular readers gave a resounding, "duh" to answer that question. Are you a dreamer? What is it that makes you consider yourself a dreamer?

As I face a future with a lot of limitations, I consider the things I would still love to do in life. Although some of the are not really possible anymore, some may need to be pursued earlier than I expected to, or in a different way.

I have thrown around many career options in my lifetime. None have really stuck with me, with the exception of education. I have been working with children nearly my entire life. I love it deeply, but I have always dreamed of exploring other options. Among my list of choices I included artist, author, storm chaser, scientist, and stay at home mom. More practical and relevant ideas have also crossed my mind. At one point I considered being a special education teacher, an occupational therapist, or even an elementary teacher. My wildest notions have included theologian, professor, and Christian marriage and sex therapist. My calling has always been to go into the mission field. As you can tell, I am all over the career spectrum. For this very reason I have not gone back to school to get a masters or doctorate!

As for hobbies, I am even more eclectic. I already write, read, and listen to music on a regular basis.Which are all pretty "normal" hobbies. I even dabble in the arts at times. Yet my dream hobbies are nowhere near as mediocre . I would love to do beauty pageants, opera singing, professional party planning, an "ask Manda" column,Harley riding, and even  fashion design and dancing. World travel is also on the very top of that list. At one time that was one of my regular hobbies. However, it has been years since I have been abroad. Now, all these hobbies are worth while plans. Still, I am clearly aware that I am no longer that right age (or shape) for beauty pageants. I also know that opera singing takes a lifetime of practice I do not have. Dancing is not that practical now with my own physical disabilities. The same will soon be true of world traveling since "the world" is sadly not handicap accessible. The other options above are a toss up. If you could choose any hobby, what would you consider?

A dreamer does not let their limitations stop them. They use those limitations as starting points for
finding new opportunities. So, are you a dreamer or do you let life stop you? Do you push past your weakness to build new strengths? If so, explore with me. Let's find some new passions together!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Preschool Bentos

I warned you that you would get whatever popped into my brain!

As most if you know, I am starting to really love the idea of bento lunches. However, I have only one child in school and he is preschool age. So, I started packing simple, preschool friendly bentos on his school days. He goes twice a week and I am having blast created lunches that will make his buddies jealous. Here is what I have come up with so far:

Bat Bento

Car Bento, notice the read and green "light" cereal

Pumpkin Bento

Superhero bento

Yellow Bento, for yellow day at school

pirate bento, with treasure juice box
Ben (my son) has seemed to enjoy his lunches so far this year. I look forward to creating more as the year goes by. I always use whatever I already have in the house. Other great bento supplies include:
  • tooth picks
  • paper
  • cookie cutters
  • food pens
  • sprinkles
  • muffin papers
  • fun shaped foods
I hope this inspires a little bit of creativity for you. It really doesn't take much money or even much time to create these fun little lunches. These meals take me between 10 and 20 minutes to design, create, and pack.

Have bento fun!