DIY Glass Photo Pendant Beaded Necklaces

DIY Glass Photo Pendant Beaded Necklaces |

You guys…

I’ve been working on a tutorial, but it isn’t done, and I just couldn’t wait any longer to share a photo of one of these necklaces!

Consider this a sneak peek because I just can’t help myself.

In July, our family celebrated the birthdays of my mom and my husband’s grandma. This year we found ourselves at a bit of a loss of what to give. Neither of them really need anything, nor do they really desire more ‘stuff’.

While they appreciate ALL gifts, personal gifts (especially those involving grandchildren or great-grandchildren) often elicit the most joyful response. You know, the face-lights-up-with-delight kind of response.

Over the past few months, I’ve been slowly collecting supplies to make photo pendant necklaces. I wasn’t sure when I’d make them or who to give them to, but it was something I really wanted to try. Taking my time to buy supplies, I was able to buy everything on sale or with a coupon. As it turned out, I finally had all the supplies in hand, just days before our birthday celebrations.

Perfect timing to make some personalized gifts.

The process was easy and gave a stunning result – even for a beginner like me.

However, I was disappointed to see that when I strung two or three pendants on once chain, they overlapped. It looked good, but it was not what I had in mind.

DIY Photo Pendant Beaded Necklaces |

Digging through supplies for a solution, I was delighted to find a forgotten bag of mixed glass beads from my last trip to Art Scraps Reuse Store (St. Paul, MN). After some searching, I found this ball chain necklace at Hobby Lobby (50% off on sale for just $1 – can’t beat that). It was just thin enough to string a few mis-matched beads between the pendants.

DIY Photo Pendant Beaded Necklaces |

I love how the beads give enough space for the pendants to lay flat. And, because my beads are all different, they make each necklace unique…but you’ll have to read the tutorial later this week to see the rest of them :).

The first two gifts turned out so well, I made another for myself and have been on a bit of a photo pendant gift-making binge…it is going to be so fun to give them away!

Happy Monday everyone!

DIY Glass Photo Pendant Beaded Necklaces |

This post was shared on The Shabby Nest Frugal Friday link party.

frugal friday



One Simple Rule For Whining

One Simple Rule For Whining |

Although whining still occurs at our house when children are tired, hungry or bored, one simple rule has been the most effective in turning things around.

Whining does not get us what we want.

Whining for food? Not getting any. At least not yet.

Whining to go outside? Staying inside, for now.

Bored and whining? I don’t think I can help you right now.

Whatever they are whining for, they will hear the same response from me – whining does not get us what we want. They can continue to whine, but it will not produce the desired result. And they may end up having to continue whining in their room.

The message is clear – they’ll have to find another way.

But what does a child do with this? Most likely they will get frustrated because they don’t know another way. So along with the rule comes a lot of grace and a willingness to teach some problem solving skills.

They need to learn to solve their problems without whining. If it was natural to do so, they’d already be doing it.

First acknowledge how they are feeling. Obviously if they are whining, they have a problem of some kind. Sometimes they don’t even know what the problem is. Help them name it. Many times, naming it is enough to make them recognize what they need so they can ask for it.

Next, try asking questions to help them figure out a solution. Does the way they are talking sound kind? Is there another way they could be talking? Is there something they need or want? Do they need help with something? Have they tried asking for it?

I often find myself saying to our kids, “Lets start with asking for it”.  And parents, I think we need to be generous here – when you can say yes, SAY YES.

While it isn’t fool-proof, most whining can be rephrased as a polite question.

Turn that whine into a polite question explaining what you need or want to do? I’d like to help you. Lets talk about it.

Suddenly whining for food becomes – I’m hungry. Can I have a snack?

Whining to go outside becomes – I really want to go outside. Can we?

Bored and whining becomes – I can’t find anything to do. Can you play with me?

Before going any further, I think we need to step back as parents and determine if we contributed to their whining. Yes, you read that right. Parenting is a big job. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I’m so busy or distracted that I neglect to make our children feel heard. No wonder they turn to whining! At least it provokes a response, albeit a negative one. Have they already asked you for want they want? Were you really listening to them or have you been distracted with something else? Did you ask them to wait longer than is appropriate for their age? Is there a physical need – sleep, food, water – that needs to be met? If we’ve contributed to the problem, we may need to remedy our response before we ask them to remedy theirs.

Although sometimes it would be easier to give in to the whine…remember, consistency is king. Every time we give into a whiny request, we demonstrate that whining does get them what they want. At least, it does sometimes.

Which means it’s still worth trying.

So…Do. Not. Give. In.

Start showing them that whining does not get them the result they want –  and then help them find another way.

I am THAT Allergy Mama – Ice Cream Truck Ignorance Is Bliss


As our son was standing at the window yesterday I heard him exclaim, “Mom! There’s a short moving van driving in circles. And it plays MUSIC!

Over and over, it drove by our house, announced by its cheery songs.

It triggered memories of childhood joy upon picking a treat from a similar mobile merry-maker. What child isn’t excited to hear the ice cream truck? Longing to share such summer joy with our children, I briefly considered running barefoot to flag him down.

I placed my hand on the door knob only to be stopped by a mind filled by an urgent stream of questions.

Food allergies sometimes throw a monkey-wrench in spontaneity.

How many of those treats contain nuts? How many are cross-contaminated? How many have original manufacturer labeling? Does the driver know these answers?  If not, is it OK for me to make a phone call to a manufacturer while he waits for me to buy a popsicle for $1?

What if I blow our son’s mind by telling him the ‘van’ is an ice cream truck and then have to him he can’t eat anything on it?


I just couldn’t take the chance of squashing his joy. Going home and giving him the band aid of a ‘safe’ popsicle from our freezer just wouldn’t have been good enough.

Suddenly it was a relief that he doesn’t know what that so-called ‘musical moving van’ is really up to.

Today I didn’t have to explain to him why we could not buy those treats. It was a blessing that he did not see excited children lining up enjoy ice-cold goodness.

This ice cream truck innocence will not last forever. The odds of the truck rolling through our neighborhood again without delighted children spilling-the-beans seems slim. I’m sure next time we won’t be so lucky and our son will discover its true purpose.

I know his eyes will widen with wonder and eager delight – it is very important to me that I not have to tell him we can’t eat anything on it because we already avoid so much.

SO, I decided to be prepared before the its inevitable return. Planning ahead is an allergy mama’s most powerful and necessary tool – joyful childhood memories depend on it. As our children marveled at the music, I scribbled down the name of the company and its phone number (helpfully displayed on the side of the truck). I found the business online will call them in the morning to pepper someone other than the ice cream truck driver with allergy-related questions.

Assuming something is safe (nut-free), I cannot wait to introduce our children to the ice cream truck. And yes, I’m prepared to deal with crying when the truck goes by and we decide not to participate for reasons other than food allergies (already had a treat, no cash, haven’t eaten dinner yet).

Today, our children’s ice cream truck ignorance was bliss for me.

Next time, equipped with allergen info, the revelation of the ice cream truck’s true identity will be bliss for our children.

A Couples Wedding Shower

A Couples Wedding Shower |

It was our pleasure to host a couples wedding shower in honor of our nephew Brandon and his bride-to-be, Lauren.

Our nephew grew up and graduated high school in MN but has since moved out-of-state. Lauren had never come to MN with Brandon to see where he spent his childhood, nor had she met some of his family and friends who live here. They were able to fit in just one short visit before the wedding – it was the perfect, and only chance to throw a wedding shower.

Since the couple came in late Friday and left on Sunday, Saturday was the only day available to throw a shower. We chose brunch so they could make the most of their only full day in town. Having the shower in the morning left the rest of the day open for the couple to explore his old stomping grounds.

This post includes the special touches to ‘shower’ the couple. I’ll follow-up in another post with the food we served for brunch.

For more shower ideas, check out another couples wedding shower we threw last year- A Laid-back Open House Couples Shower.


DIY Network Shower Invitation Template |

The shower invitation was modified from this free invitation template from the DIY network. All text can be modified so it could easily be used for any type of event! Who would have expected to find free invitation templates on the DIY Network site? There are a few other options available – in fact, I almost picked this free Nautical template instead.

Date Night Idea Card

Date Night Idea Card |

A stamped note card was included in each invitation for guests to write date night ideas for the bride and groom. Guests came up with all kinds of creative ideas.

His & Hers – 10 Favorite Moments Together

His and Her Favorite 10 Moments

Before Brandon and Lauren arrived, we asked each of them to email 10 of their favorite moments together. Originally, I planned to display two short lists using a chalkboard or poster. BUT, they sent beautifully written paragraphs that told their story with genuine affection and honesty. Condensing their moments into a short list would have taken away the emotion and love their words conveyed. Instead of changing them, each paragraph was printed and posted on the wall for guests to read as they mingled.

DIY “We Do” Wedding Shower Photo Banner

DIY WE DO Wedding Shower Photo Banner

Every bride-and-groom-to-be needs a banner in their honor – that is just the way it is! We asked the couple to send us some of their favorite photos. Text and photos were printed on cardstock in black and white. The text flags were cut and lined with patterned tape. The same tape was used to decorate clothes pins. It was quick and easy – just peel and stick! I actually used the other side of the patterned paper decorated clothes pins used to hang the You Are My Sunshine photo banner. The flags and photos were strung using twine across our kitchen.

Coffee Station Photo Banner

Coffee Station Photo Banner |

I found this free printable about love and coffee (I lightened the exposure so it could be printed without draining our ink cartridges) to hang by the coffee station. Like the “We Do” banner, it was strung with twine alongside two more black and white photos using clothes pins.

Gift Table

Wedding Shower Cards Garland and Gift Table

Two banners were made for gifts – one hung on the gift table, and one hung above it for cards. Guests used a clothes pins to clip their cards to the twine and left their gifts and date night cards on the table.

I Have Found The One…Sign

I Have Found The One Whom My Soul Loves |

I love this verse from Song of Solomon, especially for a wedding shower. This photo (changed to black and white using Pic Monkey) was printed on cardstock and applied to an 8×10 canvas using Modge Podge. The sign was placed on the gift table in the entryway for the shower and will be hung in our bedroom.

Open WIDE Your Mouth – Experiencing ALL God Has For Us

Psalm 8110

Picture a child, head thrown back, mouth open as wide as it can go, with a smile curling up the corners. Then picture this wide open mouth as it is filled with water. So much water, that it cannot contain it. So it overflows, spills out and runs down a giggling chin.

I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it. ~Psalm 81: 10 (NIV)

This verse always brings a smile to my face. A sweet picture of a gift given by the God who has proven Himself faithful, powerful and generous.

Do you ever long to fill your children like this? With food, experiences, or simply your love?

I do.

But I also long for them to be filled with even more important things. Eternal things.

It gives me great joy to consider how in the same way, my Father in heaven longs to fill me. To fill you. To fill our children.

His children.

And what does He want to fill us with?

For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. ~Psalm 107:9  (NIV)

Good things.

His word.

His spirit and it’s fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

These are the things I long for more of – things worthy of our longing. Such blessings our Father longs to bestow upon us and promises to us – if only we would come humbly before Him, obey and receive.

It is my expectant prayer that as I pursue God in His word and in prayer, that He will fill me with His good things and work through me for His glory. I also pray our children will see the Holy Spirit’s fruit overflowing from ME, and long for the same in their own hearts.

To willingly and expectantly open their mouths.

I cannot make them open their mouths, just as God does not make me open mine.

But I pray they will.

Today my mouth is open and ready to receive ALL that God has for me.


Is yours?

Experiencing ALL God Has For Us |

A Couple’s Wedding Shower: A Make-Ahead, Crowd-Pleasing Brunch

Once upon a time, we hosted couples wedding shower brunch. And sometime this spring, over a year later, I  started writing about that brunch…now, in true procrastinator style, I’m posting it.

Better late than never?

(PS. This was written in April – No, I’m not pregnant again)

I’m going to blame it on pregnancy cravings, but I woke up this morning with brunch on the brain. Brunchy thoughts made me realize I never shared what we ate at the wedding shower…now almost a year ago.

One of they keys to hosting a stress-free brunch is to make as much of the food as possible, the day before. With a morning event, make-ahead recipes earn their value in precious sleep for the host.

Do the hard work ahead of time so you can be well rested and at your best on the big day.

Here are some simple, low maintenance ideas if you are hosting a brunch, of any kind. Make the food ahead of time and allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the day and your company.

Couple's Wedding Shower Brunch |

Is it just me, or does every brunch need a balanced combination of sweet, savory and fresh items?

Now I’m hungry…

Something Sweet:

French Toast Bake:

A Couple's Wedding Shower: A Make-Ahead, Crowd-Pleasing Brunch - French Toast Bake | thisgratefulmama.comThis french toast bake may be my favorite comfort food, ever. Growing up, it was served on most holidays. It needs to be assembled the day before, which ensures you’ll be free to do other preparations while your home fills with the mouth-watering aroma of french toast. Golden brown, and topped with fresh strawberries – beautiful, and delicious!


  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 13″ Loaf Stale French Bread, cut into 1″ slices
  • 1/4-1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
  • 4 Tbs Sugar
  • 1 & 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 & 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup (or more) blueberries
  • Topping:
    • 3/4 cup flour
    • 9 Tbs brown sugar
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 5/8 cups margarine or butter, melted
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray or butter. Spread butter on each side of the sliced bread. Arrange slices in the dish (there should be enough slices that you have to squish them into the pan).
  • In a separate bowl, whisk to combine eggs, sugar, vanilla and milk. Pour mixture over the buttered bread.
  • Spread blueberries over the top (1 cup or more – as many as you like).
  • In a separate bowl, prepare topping by combining flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and 5/8 cups melted margarine or butter. Spread topping on top of blueberries and bread in the pan.
  • Cover pan and refrigerate overnight.
  • In the morning, preheat oven to 375F while allowing the pan to warm on counter.
  • Bake a 375F, uncovered, for 50 minutes.
  • Allow to set for a minimum of 10 minutes before serving.
  • Top with sliced strawberries to serve.

Apple Cider Donut Holes

A Couple's Wedding Shower: A Make-Ahead, Crowd-Pleasing Brunch - Apple Cider Mini Donuts |

Thank you,, for this recipe for Baked Apple Cider Donut Holes, made in a mini-muffin tin. Bite size, tasty, and a big hit!

To make ahead, bake the day before but wait to roll in sugar and cinnamon mixture until the day of the event.

Something Savory:

Cheesy Hashbrowns:

A Couple's Wedding Shower: A Make-Ahead, Crowd-Pleasing Brunch - Cheesy Hashbrowns |

This Easy Hashbrown Casserole recipe from MyBlessedLife blog may be the only one out there in internet-land that does NOT use a canned cream of something soup.

Delicious. You know you want these.


Mini-Frittatas with ham:

A Couple's Wedding Shower: A Make-Ahead, Crowd-Pleasing Brunch - Mini Frittata |

You can’t go wrong with a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. Her Mini Fritattas are made using sliced ham and are uniquely flavorful with the addition of parmesan cheese and parsley. One recipe makes 40 individual fritattas, and they cook in a mini-muffin tin for just 10 minutes, you can prepare these in a flash.

Either make them the day before and reheat in the oven just before serving, or prepare the egg mixture the day before and cook them the day of the event.

Fill those muffin tins without a mess: Mix ingredients in one of these Rubbermaid Mixing Bottles. Seal and shake to evenly distribute ingredients. Open the lid and pour into each well in one row of the muffin tin. Shake and pour into the next row, and so on, until the pans are full. Easy-peasy.

Something Fresh:

Fruit Salad:

A Couple's Wedding Shower: A Make-Ahead, Crowd-Pleasing Brunch - Fruit Salad | thisgratefulmama.comPick your favorite seasonal fruits. This simple, beautiful, and healthy side is sure to please even the pickiest eater.





Veggies and Dip:

A Couple's Wedding Shower: A Make-Ahead, Crowd-Pleasing Brunch - Veggies and Dip |

Chop an assortment of vegetables and serve with dip, or consider serving a green salad instead. A Strawberry spinach salad (sub pumpkin seeds for almonds for a nut-free salad), or Greek salad works great for brunch. Just toss with dressing just before serving.



Now, is anyone else hungry for brunch?

The Pledge, The Whole Pledge, And Nothing But The Pledge


The Fourth of July is a time to reflect on our country.

I am grateful to be a citizen of this great nation.

Regardless of our differences.

Regardless of our struggles.

We are privileged to live here.

Today we celebrate our independence with barbeques, family and friends, and spectacular fireworks.

We are FREE to do so.

We are immeasurably blessed.

This morning our son got excited about his flag T-shirt and started to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

It made me proud to hear him recite the words.

That pledge has been in my brain, memorized since I was just his age.

And, when I say the Pledge, I mean the FULL one with no words removed.

I thought it fitting to simply end this post these simple, yet fitting words.

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”