DIY: Homemade Water Wall

Water Wall


I think this is such a great idea! gives you step by step instructions on how to make a homemade water wall out of recycled materials.  I can imagine kids would love to play with this!


Thanks, Money Saving Mom!

Get the 31 Days to Clean ebook for Only $2.50!

31 Days to Clean ebook


Sarah Mae is the author of a popular ebook that I would like to read, 31 Days to Clean!  Sounds good, right?  Sarah is “rebooting” her 31 Days to Clean series on her blog throughout the month of June and you can follow her daily cleaning challenges here.


Also, you can also get a copy of her ebook, 31 Days to Clean, for just $2.50!  It’s subtitle is Having a Martha House the Mary Way.  I just love that and I’m excited to read her book!  When I added it to my cart it automatically gave me the discounted $2.50 price but if it doesn’t come up at 50% off for you, try to use the coupon code REBOOT to get this deal.


If you’ve read this book already what are your thoughts?  Do you have another favorite cleaning book you would recommend?


(The link in this post is my referral link. Read our disclosure policy here.)

Benefits of Emergency Food Storage

Food Storage


One of my goals I have is to prepare long-term food storage for my family.  I currently have about 6 weeks worth of food but I have some friends that have 3 months worth.  Some families even have enough food for a year or more!  There are quite a few benefits to having an emergency food storage plan and I want to share with you a few of my personal reasons with you.


Lower Grocery Bill

Using wise food storage techniques can shave a significant amount of money off your grocery bill.  You can buy in bulk, divide large purchases of meat with friends, can your own food, and buy items at their rock bottom price.


Health Benefits

Personally, when I have items on hand it’s much easier to prepare meals and I’m less tempted to go out for dinner.  When I cook at home I make healthier choices than I would if we ate out.  I can easily implement grains, legumes, and spices that have great health benefits I won’t find in processed foods.


Emergency Benefits
It seems there are natural disasters occurring all the time in the US.  Having a food storage plan in place would allow your family the resources you need in case of an emergency.  I hate to say it but with the way the job market is looking it could be possible that a family would have to live off of their stockpile because of a job loss.  An emergency food plan should include a variety of healthy, nutritious foods that can easily be accessed.  Hopefully your food storage will remain on your shelves {as you regularly rotate products in and out} and you’ll never have to fully rely on it.  I would feel at peace having a security net though just in case!


I know how to stock up on finds from “extreme couponing” trips but I would love any information you have on how to build a food stockpile.  Does your family can food that you grow yourself?  Do you prepare frozen meals?  Have you ever bought in bulk and split it with friends?  I’m excited to build my stockpile and I would love any tips you have to share!

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Bread Recipe


I get asked a lot of questions about being Gluten Free and why I eat that way. Being Gluten Free means you are not eating/drinking anything that contains wheat, malt, barley, rye or oats. You are not cutting carbs, you are just replacing the things like breads and cereals and noodles with things that are made with other grains and starches like potatoes, rice, quinoa ect. Now lets pause because this is my biggest question and pet peeve- it is not meant to be used as the latest weight loss diet! As I just mentioned you are still taking in carbs you are just substituting for different ones. In fact a serving of GF bread actually has more carbs then a serving of regular bread (see more GF bread info here).


Now why eat Gluten Free if it isn’t for weight loss? For some it is literally a fact of life or death. There is a serious disease called Celiac- which attacks the villa in your lower intestines and makes it so your body can not absorb the nutrients you need. You are literally starving yourself and 99% of those who have this disease do not even know it. There are over 300 symptoms which range from mal nutrition, to depression, to anemia, fatigue, and severe stomach pains. But you can also have something call Gluten Intolerance. This is just as bad as Celiac and should never be down played. Gluten Intolerance and Celiac have a lot of the same symptoms and if not taken care of can lead to other issues like Diabetes and thyroid issues among other things. You can find out more by going to this post. If you find this is something you may be dealing with please please please- go talk to your doctor and get tested for Celiac. Celiac is a genetic so if you have it, chances are others in your family have it and don’t know it!


Since going gluten free I have had fun trying to convert some of our favorite recipes into Gluten Free ones. But I have also experimented some. Today I wanted to share with you our new favorite bread. This is an Apple Cinnamon Bread that I tried out a few weeks ago and is a big hit! You can use regular flour but I listed what kind of flour I used.


  • 1 1/2 cups of an all purpose flour (I used Gluten Free Pantry from Glutino)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup applesauce
Preheat oven to 350


In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add in the egg, butter and applesauce and mix well. The dough should be about a pudding consistency.


Pour dough into a greased bread pan (it will be about half full). Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour (knife will come out clean). Move to a cooling rack and let cool completely before serving.


I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does!


About Me: I am a stay at home mother of two and a wife of a Law Enforcement Officer. I started Gluten Free for Jen to share the adventures of my family and some of our favorite recipes since going Gluten Free. My daughter (Jen) and I were diagnosed with Gluten Intolerance in May 2011 (I have a sister with Celiac that was diagnosed Jan 2011). I wanted to be able to share how you can eat healthy, organic and gluten free while being on a budget. I also will share photos, and crafts and just a peek into the crazy life we live!

Are YOU “Mom Enough?” – Mommy Wars Controversy

Mommy Wars


If you’ve watched the news lately or read many blogs you’ll see the latest version of “Mommy Wars.”  The breastfeeding controversy is back and in full swing.  I would link to the article for you all to see it but honestly, I don’t want to give them any added publicity and “link juice” because that is just what they want.  “Mommy Wars” include the Stay-at-Home vs. Working Mom debate, the Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diaper debate, and the list goes on and on.  The most recent article {the one that I won’t link to} is a Time magazine write up and photo of a preschooler breastfeeding.  This was surely published to incite a strong reaction from moms and reignite yet another “war.”


There is NO winner in the game of “Mommy Wars.”  This is a game that magazines, newspapers and websites are playing to up their readership. These articles don’t cover the facts but are written to divide mothers.  Time after time mothers buy into it and I’ve been guilty before but I’m over it.  I don’t care if you breastfed your kid until they can walk, or if you’ve fed them Similac from day one. I don’t care if you you home-school or if your kids go to a Christian, private or public school.  I don’t care if you give baby massages, use a leash for your kid at an amusement park, circumcise your son, make homemade baby food or bathe your baby twice a day or once a week. Do you baby-wear? Does your baby eat everything organic?  Do you use cloth diapers? I don’t care.  I don’t.  I’m not trying to be rude but whatever works for you {and is safe for your kid} is wonderful.  Of course I have my opinions but not everyone has to believe the way that I do.


Articles, such as this TIME article, prey on the already existing feelings of inadequacy and mommy guilt.  These manufactured “wars” are predictable because they stir up strong emotions from women who feel judged, as well as mothers who want to feel superior for their choices.  You know the ones.  The ones who post such proud statuses on Facebook that your mouth drops open while reading them.  Heated discussion and outrage usually follows.  WHY?  Why do women tear each other down?  Women beat each other up while the person or business responsible for starting this battle reaps the benefit {website traffic, talk show debate, etc}.  I hate that women are second guessing their parenting choices because of such games.  Women are insecure and should band together to help one another.  If you don’t have a strong support group now I encourage you to find one.  Join a local church, MOPS group, or mommy play group.


I’ll be honest, I’m constantly evaluating myself and my parenting.  I want to do what’s best for my family and be the best mom I can be.  When I first found out I was pregnant I started reading parenting books and I haven’t stopped since.  I want to be educated and make the best decisions I can.  I don’t want to look down on other’s for their parenting habits.  Of course, I think the way I diaper, set a sleep schedule, and  feed my baby is best for me because if I didn’t think it was I wouldn’t do it.  Who am I to tell you what you should do with your child?  I don’t know your situation and what’s best for you.  I’ll be glad to share my opinion if you ask and in the future I may share some advice on here about what’s worked for me but I never want to belittle others because they do things differently than me.


As for the cover of TIME magazine, the answer to the question “ARE YOU MOM ENOUGH?”  Yes!  Whatever that means, yes.


You are mom enough to avoid belittling others.

You are mom enough to build up others.

You are mom enough to love and care for your kids.

You are mom enough to encourage new moms.

You are mom enough to educate yourself and make wise decisions for your family.



Related TIME magazine posts across the blogosphere: 

Rage Against the Minivan–Where is the mommy-war for the motherless child? {I highly recommend this article!}

5 Minutes For Mom–FACT: Mommy Wars Do Not Exist

Babble–It’s TIME To Stop Fighting The Mommy Wars.

Mocha Momma–I am mom enough.


What are your thoughts?  Please feel free to share them in the comments.  If you’re a blogger, did you write a response to the Time Magazine controversy?  If so please add your links in the comments.


Healthy Movie Theater Popcorn Recipe

Popcorn Recipe


Popcorn {and cheese} is one of our favorite snacks!  A friend of ours encouraged us to try out Alton Brown’s Perfect Popcorn Recipe.  We liked it and have been perfecting the recipe to fit our family.  We think that this Healthy Movie Theater Popcorn Recipe tastes even better than movie theater popcorn and I hope you’ll like it!


We bought a lot of microwaved popcorn before and this is stove top recipe is healthier and much cheaper.  Microwave popcorn is overly salty and is made with an unhealthy coating.  When you make your own popcorn you can choose the oil you want, the amount of salt you use, and  you can even use organic kernels if you want!


Making stove top popcorn was at first intimidating but let me tell you it is so easy!  After a little time you’ll learn to adjust your stove and the time just right so you’ll pop the kernels perfectly.  This is the recipe that we use but I would love to hear any different popcorn recipes or toppings that you have.  We love to eat it with a little block of sharp cheddar.  Is there anything you like to eat with popcorn?


Tip: Store your kernels in the freezer to keep them fresh!

Popcorn Recipe Ingredients



  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil {or coconut, canola, etc}
  • 3 ounces popcorn kernels, approximately 1/2 cup {makes 2 large bowls}
  • 1/4 teaspoon popcorn salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter



Place the popcorn, oil, and salt in a large metal mixing bowl, wok, or stock pot. Cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil and poke around 20 small slits in the top.  These slits need to be small so the kernels won’t pop out.


Place the bowl over medium to high heat and shake constantly.  Shake until the popcorn finishes popping.  It should take around a minute for the kernels to start popping and they’ll finish popping around 3 minutes.


Remove from heat and carefully remove the foil. Melt the butter in the microwave and slowly drizzle over the popcorn. Scrape any salt off the sides of the bowl and stir so the salt and butter get evenly distributed.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

McCormick’s Look Book + Spring Thyme Salmon Recipe

Hurry!  McCormick is having a Pinterest contest that is ending tonight!!!  There are some pretty neat baking prizes up for grabs!  Here’s how you can enter:


pinspiring contest


If you’re like me McCormick is no stranger to your home.  It’s a brand that makes food coloring dye, spices, and pre-measured spice mixtures with recipe cards (such a neat idea!).  McCormick products are a staple in our house.  We have an overflowing spice cabinet with spices for just about every meal imaginable.  Do you need meal inspiration?  If so, check out McCormick’s Look Book that is filled with yummy recipes with gorgeous pictures!


Here’s the recipe that I tried:

Spring Thyme Salmon

Makes 4 servings.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Refrigerate Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

1/3 cup tangerine or orange juice (I used OJ)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon McCormick® Thyme Leaves
1 teaspoon McCormick® Mustard, Ground
1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon McCormick® Black Pepper, Ground
1 pound salmon fillet


1. Mix tangerine juice, oil, thyme, ground mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper in small bowl. Place salmon in large resealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add marinade; turn to coat well.

2. Refrigerate 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove salmon from marinade. Discard any remaining marinade.

3. Broil 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.


McCormick Recipe


You may have noticed that I substituted salmon for chicken but let me tell you, it was yummy!  I’m anxious to try more of the simple recipe ideas from McCormick’s Look Book.  I’ve already saved a few of my favorites so they’ll be easy to access the next time I need a meal idea.  What are you waiting for?  Go check it out McCormick’s Look Book for yourself; I’m sure you’ll find more than a few recipes you’ll want to try.


Oh and if you want to follow us on Pinterest you can follow McCormick on Pinterest here and Embracing Beauty on Pinterest here!


“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for McCormick. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for participating”

Belvita Breakfast Biscuits Review

belVita Logo


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?  If that’s true then why is it so hard to make it a priority?  It’s hard for my family to make time for breakfast because we’re night owls who like to savor each moment of sleep in the morning.  I’m pretty sure that we walk around like zombies for the first hour or more each day or at least it feels that way!

Even on the busiest morning I try to at least grab a banana or a piece of bread and spread Nutella on it.  Eating breakfast helps speed up my metabolism and eating a breakfast high in fiber helps sustain that energy.  I was pleased to have been invited to take part in a promotion from Mom Central and belVita called the Five Days of belVita Breakfast.  belVita Breakfast Biscuits are the hottest thing for today’s busy moms.  If you haven’t heard the buzz on Facebook about them yet let me give you the details!  They come in small individually wrapped packs with 4 biscuits in each package.  There are 5 packs in a box and each one regularly retail for $3.69.


These biscuits are pretty much cookies, healthy cookies.  They are ridiculously yummy!  They are crunchy, slightly sweet and go wonderfully with your morning coffee.  Not only do they taste amazing but they are a good source of fiber and vitamins.  They have a sustained energy release which comes from a combination of ingredients and the baking process which helps preserve the grain’s integrity.  These keep me fuller longer and gives my body continual energy instead of a giant spike that a sugary breakfast would.

My family absolutely loved these bars.  I wanted to take pictures of them for my review but all three boxes disappeared before I had the chance!  My husband eats them without me having to remind him and if you know how my husband hates breakfast you’ll know that that is HUGE!  I love how belVita Breakfast Biscuits are so versatile.  You can eat them with yogurt and fruit, with peanut butter and Nutella spread on top, or you could spread yummy strawberry cream cheese on top.  Yum!  My favorite way to eat them is straight out of the package.

I can’t help but think how great these must be for pregnant ladies.  I remember constantly snacking on crackers to avoid nausea and I hated they were so bland and boring.  These biscuits make great snacks for anyone.  They are the perfect size to toss in a purse or backpack for snacking on the go.

Check out belVita on Facebook.   Be sure and try all available flavors including: Blueberry, Golden Oat, and Apple Cinnamon.  I love them all but Blueberry is my favorite.  They are so sweet that you can find belVita Breakfast Biscuits in the cookie aisle.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of belVita Breakfast Biscuits and received belVita Breakfast product samples to facilitate my review, and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

RSV Awareness from MedImmune & Tips to Keep Baby Healthy

Before I was pregnant I had never heard of the many dangerous things that can plaque babies.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to learn about RSV the hard way but a friend recently took her little one to the hospital with it.  Now that I’ve researched it more I want to share this information with you so you can pass it along to your friends and family.


Ashley and Baby

This is me and my little sweet pea at one day old.


For most infants, respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus (RSV) causes an illness like a common cold. But some babies may be at high risk for severe RSV disease. This can lead to serious complications, hospital visits, breathing treatments and more.  I don’t want to imagine how terrifying that must be!


Here are some quick tips to preventing RSV from infecting your baby. Remember if you have a high-risk baby (or even a healthy baby) it is ok to remind every visitor to wash their hands.  This is the health of your child, it’s worth the inconvenience and time it takes to ask!  After you finish reading this blog post share it with your friends and family and allow them to read about the dangers of RSV without you having to communicate it to them.


A few tips to remember when a loved one has a new baby:

  • Call before you visit. New parents need time to set up a routine and bond. By giving them time to do so before you visit, you are respecting the new family.
  • Bring them a meal.  This will be ever so helpful to them but remember to steer away from overly spicy foods.
  • Postpone a visit if you feel that you may be getting sick, have recently been ill or exposed to illness.
  • Remember that parents know best. If you feel they are being overprotective or overly cautious, just consider that only they know what’s best for the health of their new son or daughter.
  • Offer to do something to ease their responsibilities as they spend time as a family, such as laundry, cooking or dishes. Sleep-deprived moms and dads will appreciate your help!


If you do schedule a visit with a new baby:

  • Wash your hands frequently—upon entering the home and especially prior to holding the baby. Parents, and the new baby, will appreciate it.
  • Leave toddlers at home, especially during the winter months. Young children, especially if they attend day care or preschool, often carry germs and viruses, like RSV, that are easily spread.



A few facts about RSV that all parents, caregivers and loved ones should know:

Person washing hands

  • Almost every baby will contract RSV by age 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve heard of the virus.
  • Serious RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.  For more information or to verify when the RSV season is in your area you should check out and click on the right hand tab called “Understanding RSV season.” 
  • There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take preventive steps to help protect their child (ex. wash hands, toys, bedding frequently; avoid crowds and cigarette smoke).
  • Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing serious RSV infection, so it’s important to speak with a pediatrician to determine if a baby may be at high risk for RSV, and discuss preventive measures.
  • Symptoms of serious RSV infection include: persistent coughing or wheezing; rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. Parents should contact a medical professional immediately upon signs of these symptoms.


MedImmune provided me with a letter that you can read, copy, and even print if you want.  You can use it as a way to kindly convey the extreme caution you want taken around your little one.  This open letter from Mom is a gentle and simple way to get the message across without having to bare the wildly fluctuating emotions of a new mom as you try to explain why  you want what’s best for your child.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.


See those little buttons below here?  Use those to share this post with your friends and family.  Especially if you have a new baby, a baby on the way or if you know someone who is expecting or has a new baby please share this with them.  RSV is a dangerous, dangerous virus and it could be a matter of life or death if not caught soon enough.


Postpartum Depression

I was recently talking with a friend and she shared her postpartum story with me.  Here’s a quick summary.


Eight months after her daughter was born she started breastfeeding less as her daughter was eating more solids and she found herself in a slump.  She couldn’t shake it no matter what she did.  She said that she felt embarrassed, alone, and had all the signs of postpartum.  Another friend encouraged her to set up an appointment with her doctor.  Her doctor confirmed what she didn’t think was possible.  He said that she was experiencing postpartum depression – 8 months after giving birth.


Her doctor told her that it could even happen up to 18 months after giving birth. I’ve done a little more internet research and am finding a lot of articles that say postpartum depression can manifest itself up to two years after having your baby.
I had no idea! I thought that if I had made it through the first couple months I would be fine.  Have any of you experienced postpartum depression?  Was it delayed?

I wish there was more information out there for mothers but I really couldn’t find a lot.   Here are two helpful articles that I did find:


The last article listed said,

“Among participants, 11.5% reported prenatal onset, 22.0% late postpartum onset, and 66.5% early postpartum symptom onset. Those reporting pregnancy onset were more likely to be unmarried, and those with a late postpartum onset were less likely to report a past history of postpartum depression.”


That’s almost 25% of cases being late or delayed onset!  That’s a large percentage and I feel ashamed to say that I honestly had no idea delayed postpartum depression existed.

Postpartum depression is common and I want to encourage you that if you are experiencing symptoms to not be embarrassed about it.  Call your doctor to discuss your treatment options, no matter how much time has passed.  You now have a beautiful baby to enjoy, you don’t want to miss a moment!