Tuesday, February 22, 2011


As a mom, I often find myself getting overwhelmed by the constant and immediate needs of my family and household and somehow misssing the big picture as I stumble through piles of dishes, loads (ok, mountains) of laundry, and diaper changings. So I cannot say enough about the wonderful tool I am presenting you with today.

My husband and I find it of utmost importance to have a goal for our family and a plan in place to acheive those goals. Because let's face it... I am called to be the manager of my home, and to me that means assisting in discipling my children, keeping my home and caring for my husband. But all the work I do planning meals, cleaning my home, and homeschooling my children will not matter a bit if there is no PURPOSE behind it. I know that I must be intentional in my roles- which is why my husband and I created a Family Mission Statement.

I keep a (huge) 3-ring binder called the "Cunningham Family Handbook". I use this book for every aspect of running our home- it includes sections devoted to calendars and routines, budget, meal planning, coupons, homeschool planning, and many others. But the very FIRST, and most important page in our handbook? Our mission statement! Creating one was super fun for Hubby and I and has given us a clear picture of where we are headed as a family.

Following is a list of questions to help you create your own family mission statement. I got these from an awesome website, http://www.simplemom.net/. Let's get started:

The process:
Answer a series of questions, perhaps use some web tools, talk over your answers, pray, and write down your short-but-comprehensive mission statement. For fun, you can inscribe this statement somewhere permanent and display it in your home.

The goal:
A timeless, easy-to-read, holistic family mission statement that applies to everyone in the family. This will help you make decisions, feel confident about saying “no,” and be a bit better at focusing on the important instead of the urgent.

Plan an evening this week to sit down as a couple, and answer a few questions. These questions are not comprehensive — feel free to elaborate on your own, to skip some that don’t seem to apply, and to focus on what’s important for your family. Mostly, these are meant to serve as a springboard to get your thoughts flowing.

1. What are a few strengths of each member of our family?
2. Collectively, we are at our best when we are…
3. Collectively, we are at our worst when we are…
4. If we had a completely free day together as a family, how would we spend it?
5. What are practical ways we can serve each other?
6. What are practical ways we can serve others outside our family?
7. Name three things you think you could do better as a family.
8. What would people say today about our family as a whole?
9. What would we like people to say about our family as a whole in 30 years?
10. If our home could be filled with one emotion, what would it be?
11. Name three adjectives we would like people to use to describe our home environment.
12. If we could name one principle from which we want our family to operate, what would it be?
13. What are the top four priorities we want our family to value?
14. What is the main purpose of our home?
15. What is the secondary purpose of our home?
16. What is the individual purpose in life of each member of our family?
17. What is one way we are unique as a family?
18. Describe the status of our family in 10 years…
relationally with each other:
communally in our environment:
19. Where are you as a family in 10 years? What does your home look like?
20. What is the purpose of life?

So I hope you can use this fun but meaningful activity to bring direction, purpose, and unity to your family and home! If you use this, please let me know how it turns out!

Thanks for reading,


Bon't Buy- Make Your Own: FRUIT LEATHER

Well, I told you it was coming and here it is: my first in a series of posts to give you simple steps for the make-you-own versions of commonly purchased items. So today I'm starting with something simple and yummy- Fruit Leather! My kids love it, even as much as store-bought Fruit Roll-Ups, which are NOT HEALTHY (anyone that didn't know that?) But their home-made counterparts can be made without sugar and without much work on your part!

Things You'll Need:
4 cups unsweetened applesauce
4 cups fresh or frozen fruit of your choice - All kinds of berries work well, or just plain apple is yummy too!
Spices to taste ( I used 1 t. cinnamon & ground cloves)
1 T. Lemon juice
Optional: honey, sugar, or sweetener to taste (I used 1 packet Stevia)

Note: I used a mixture of fresh and frozen blueberries, which a are naturally sweet, so it is not necessary to add sugar. Taste your mixture and add sweetener as needed.

What to do:
Pour all ingredients into a large saucepan or pot. Allow to simmer on medium high eat until fruit begins to get soft and break apart. Using a blender or a food processor, puree the mixture until smooth. Preheat oven to 140 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet or flat tray with plastic wrap.
Spread the fruit mixture on the plastic wrap (you will want your mixture to be about 1/4 inch thick). Put the tray in the preheated oven. Dry in the oven until you can touch the center of the fruit leather and it does not leave an indentation. It will take approximately 8 to 12 hours for fruit leather to dry in the oven. Remove the fruit leather from the plastic and roll it or cut it into pieces for storage. If you are rolling it use a fresh sheet of plastic wrap to keep the fruit leather from sticking to itself. Store in an air-tight container.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chalk Board Paint

Chalk board paint is all the rage right now for many household and kid-inspired projects. It can be used for everything from signs to playroom decor to labeling household goods. With its crafty good looks and functionality, chalkboard paint is not only easy to use, but now it's also.... cheap! I don't know about you, but Hubby and I are constantly looking for ways to cut back, simplify, and re-use what we already have instead of buying new. So, this post will be the first of many in which I will offer Make-Your-Own solutions for items we would almost always purchase at the store (some upcoming will be: household cleaners, Lunchables, and fruit leather- among others). So here we go in our fist of many lessons on saving money with home-made (or my new favorite term- "Mommy-made";).

How to Make Your Own Chalkboard Paint
What you need:
1 cup paint (any kind will do- latex or acrylic work well)- The best part is that you can use ANY color
2 Tbsp. Non-sanded grout (I bought a tub for about $4 at Menard’s)
Paint brush, sponge, or roller

What to Do:
Simply mix your paint and grout and apply to your desired surface. This will probably take two coats. I started painting with a sponge brush but found that the best tool for the job was a mini roller.

For the project pictured, I used a cabinet door that came off of a laminate cabinet in my daughters' bedroom. I wanted a way to display my weekly menu in the kitchen and knew repurposing this old door with chalkboard paint would be the perfect solution.

Here's what I did: I sanded the entire door, gave it one coat of spray primer, let tat dry and came back with two coats of spraypaint in my desired color. I prefer Rustoleum brand because it covers very well and dries quickly. Then I taped the edges around my desired chalkboard surface and painted with my chalkboard paint. Finally, I repalced the cabinet door's wooden knob with one more to my taste that can be used to hang keys, etc. So there you go- so simple!

The best part about making your own vs. using store-bought chalkboard paint is that you mix it yourself so you can make it any color to match any color palate or decor! Paint an entire wall in your childrens' palyroom or bedroom and the fun (and cute factor) will be off the charts!

Please contact me with any questions or, if you try this project let me know how it turns out!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Square One (And a Recipe)

Well, hello out there. Welcome to Day One of my blog! Just thought I'd take a little time each day to
share projects, crafts, recipes, and maybe occasionally step on to a soap box (or two). But today I would like to start simple and share a recipe using my new favorite secret ingredient- Lemon Zest! I have been a little obsessive about adding it to recipes lately, from chicken to apple pie...which leads me to the subject of my very first blog post ever. Here is the recipe for the BEST ever (really, I promise) Banana Nut Mini Muffins. These are simple to make, healthier than others, and SUPER YUMMY. My kids would have eaten the entire batch.... if Hubby didn't get to them first! The lemon zest paired with some of the other flavors just makes the taste so fresh and rich. But don't take my word for it... grab those old brown bananas off the counter and make a batch of your own!

Banana Nut Mini Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (sub whole wheat if you're feeling extra healthy)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
1 cup mashed bananas
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon almond (or vanilla) extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Optinal Topping- cinnamon sugar mixture (2 T. sugar plus 1/2 t. cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
In large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
In a medium bowl, beat egg whites slightly. Stir in bananas, sugar, oil, spices, extract, and lemon peel. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in nuts. Fill muffin pan cups 2/3 full. I like to sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture before baking.
Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned. Remove muffins from pan. Hide immediately if you plan on eating one!

Thank you for visiting my blog! I would truly appreciate any feedback!