12 Stress-Free Tips for True Connection with Friends

February 14, 2016

You have 43 things on your to-do list; you don't need more to-do. Yet, connecting to friends and family is important to you.
Trust me, you have the time. You have the inspiration. You just need a few more tools. Here are 12 tips to keep your connection alive between face to face visits.
1. Calendar Your Thoughts. When a friend has a big test on Tuesday, or a medical procedure in two months; I add it to my calendar. This way I can think of them, pray for them, and check in with them on the actual day.
2. Pray through your Contact List. When I have a spare minute at the doctor's office, instead of mindless scrolling through social media; I try to scroll through my phone's contact list and pray for a friend or two that crosses my mind; I may even send them an encouraging text... or realize that I had never gotten back to them on something... whoops!
3. Use Facebook. I often go on Facebook desiring to connect with my busy-friends, but as soon I log-on, I get distracted. Next time you go on Facebook; try to set a connection goal, like writing three meaningful notes on friend's photos or walls. It's okay to write "cute!" on photos, but it would be much more impactful to speak life and empowering truth to that person.
4. Use Apps. Did you know you can order printed photos right from your phone for about 9 cents each? Other apps like Red Stamp like you create and mail a photo card for under $3. On the way home from a road trip visiting relatives; take a few minutes to pick a cute photo and mail the host a custom thank you note.
5. Keep a Virtual Address List. I love having every mailing address I need in my back pocket. You can add address directly to your contact list where you add phone numbers; or you can use a free program like evernote or google drive.
6. Keep Stamps in Your Wallet. Keep stamps at work. Keep stamps at home. This completely changed the frequency at which I connect. When the inspiration strikes, Instead of thinking "I should really write that person" and adding something else to my to-do list; I write, send AND MAIL a note wherever I am. Keep a pack of stamps near, and you will be shocked at how much more you reach out.
7. Once a Month Writing. When the mood strikes; I like to look ahead and write a few weeks worth of birthday cards in one sitting when I have a leisurely evening. Instead of hustling multiple times a month; you get to turn it into an occasional enjoyable event. Then I send them as the weeks come along.
8. Keep cards and gifts on hand. Gift cards and nice chocolate bars are always a win. It makes birthdays, celebration dinners and social events you dash to after work so much easier. BUT ALSO...
9. Be okay with short and simple. Sometimes we think we have to make it a big ordeal to send someone a letter. If the length overwhelms you; try writing a postcard. If you don't have any stationary on hand; write on a lined sheet of paper and stick it in a plain envelope. There's something sweet about lined paper anyway.
10. 3x5 cards. You just need a pack of these things. Plain, colored, lined, x-large, you pick! I use them for to-do lists, art projects and you can buy an entire pack of 100 for under a dollar. I love meditating on scripture by re-writing it. When I use 3x5 cards for this, I am able to inspire someone else by sending it in the mail. Sometimes I even watercolor the background.
11. Use Props. If you don't like writing, send printed photos with a sharpie note on the back that says "thinking of you!". Text someone a funny photo. Send some scratch and sniff stickers. But also, think outside yourself and muster together a few words to brighten someone's day. Which reminds me...
12. Remember it's about THEM. Leave perfectionism behind, and the accidently-self-centered hurdles that keep us from connecting with someone. Some months I write birthday notes, and some I'm too busy; but it doesn't keep me from writing a few more the following month. Coffee spilled on the note? Write an arrow with "sending you a sip of my morning coffee". It adds character. Forgot to send that graduation card and now it's a week late? Send it anyway. Messy connection, as friendships were mean't to be, is far better than no connection at all.
What tips do you use to connect with others between the face-to-face moments?

(Free Printable!) Overflow with Love on Valentine's Day

February 13, 2016

It's one of my favorite days of the year because it means we get to celebrate FRIENDSHIP! 

This morning I was inspired to create a FREE printable for you so that you can spread love to those in your life who mean the most to you. It's scientifically proven that expressing our gratitude makes us happier and more content!

These are friendship themed postcards that you can print right from your home printer using just black ink :) Postcards only take a few minutes to write up, but they make a lasting impact. I know when I receive snail mail, it can literally turn my whole day around. Here are the links!

Friendship Postcard Printable (Front)
Friendship Postcard Printable (Back)

Happy Valentines Day!
Love, Anna 

Merry Christmas Friends!!

December 25, 2015

Wishing you the best and brightest that 2016 has to offer!

Lesson #611 How to Register for Your Baby Shower

November 15, 2014

This is my advice for your baby registry. I registered at Target.

HOWEVER, no matter HOW PERFECT you make it, no matter how much research, no matter if you receive ten billion things for your baby shower… YOU WILL, rush to target a million times in the first month, and you will spend an inordinate, unreal, unbelievable amount of money on a 7 lb. human being.

A Watch. You've never checked the time so much in your life. Didn't I just feed that baby? Oh, it was 3 hours ago. How long has the baby been sleeping? How many hours of sleep did I NOT get? I suggest the Timex Weekender. It's trendy, but functional and waterproof, for the breast milk, and multiple baby fluids that WILL get on it. It has comfy interchangeable straps, AND they sent me a new one when mine stopped working after one year of hard use.
Breastfeeding Supplies. Nursing pads. nipple cream. comfy nursing tank tops. nursing bras for day and sleep.
A Cute Leather/Waterproof Tote or Purse. For your smaller version of a diaper bag, prepped with diapers a quick outfit change etc.

Nursery. Storage/organizing bins. fluffy nursery carpet.
Health. Crane Cool mist humidifier. Nasal spray. Nose Frida Nose suction. Thermometer. Baby sunscreen. Aveno baby lotion. Aveno body wash. Gas drops. Fever reducer. Teething tablets.
Diapering. Diapers. Wipes. Diaper cream. Changing pad cover. Munchkin Changing pad liners. A diaper bag or backpack. Diaper Genie Diaper Bin.
Sleeping. Crib. Crib sheets. Mattress protector. Arms Reach co-sleeper or Fisher Price Rock and Play. Aden and Anais Swaddle blankets. Halo sleep sack. Miracle Swaddle. Swaddle Up. ZipadeeZip. Receiving blankets. Video Monitor.
Travel. Car sun shade. Britax B-Safe Car Seat. Britax B-Agile Stroller. Boba Wrap carrier. Beco Gemini Buckle Carrier.
Bathing. Hoodled bath towels  (because they are SO CUTE and I can't wait for my toddler to run around the house in one), summer infant bath seat that is easy to store away)
Eating. Madela Manual breast pump. Madela Electric breast pump. Milk storage bags. Burp cloths. Dr. Brown's baby bottles. Bottle brush. Boon Bottle drying rack. High chair. Sippie cups. Full bibs. Plastic plates, bowls, utensils. MAM Pacifiers. Soothie pacifiers. pacifier clips. Pacifiers. Silicone baby feeder. Baby Feeder Tray.

Lesson #334 Bring on the Granola

September 10, 2012

I made my first batch of homemade granola tonight.

I think I could get into this sort of thing.

Greek Yogurt. Honey. Blueberries. Granola. I think I'm becoming a crunchy woman.

2 cups oats
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup pepitas
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbs melted coconut oil
1/2 real maple syrup. yum.
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dried cranberries

Combine it all except the cranberries. Bake at 300 for 30 min on parchment, stirring every 10 minutes. Cook until golden brown. Cool and add cranberries. Adapted from HERE 

My house smells like fall and I say BRING IT ON CROUTON! Bring. It. On.

Lesson #289 How to Make a Date-In-A-Box

July 5, 2012

My friend Cassidy, made David and I the BEST. THING. EVER.

Yes, a Date-In-A-Box.

We used it on a Friday night when we would have otherwise just stayed home and been productive on homework and all sorts of other stuff that doesn't bond us. We had such a super time! AND, it was just what we needed. How neat is it that she gave us the gift of quality time together?

So, naturally I wanted to make a ton of these to give to all my married friends! 

AND, the feedback has been OVERWHELMING to say the LEAST. People want to continue to spread the LOVE so here are the resources if you would like to duplicate :)

I mean, how awesome is it that you can give someone the gift of a date that they don't have to put an OUNCE of planning into! This is especially great for couples that have a hard time coming up with date night ideas.

The theme of this box is: Reminiscent Scavenger Hunt

I provided all the resources for the boxes I created below, but I TOTALLY think you should personalize it for the couple you are making the date for :)

You will need:
  • 4 pieces of colorful paper or cardstock
  • 7 envelopes
  • 2 pens
  • 2 chocolates
  • Small box and packing tissue
  • Packing tape
  • Optional: Gift card/cash, gum, playing cards, squirt guns...
Links to Print

Page 1: Cover Image
Page 2: Clue Slips
Page 3: 5 Things/Favorite Things
Page 4 (font side): Battleship Game
Page 4 (back side): Games and Instructions

Assembly Instructions
1. Print off all four pages (customize where needed)
2. Cut and tape cover image on box
3. Cut clues and put them in labeled envelopes
4. Fill box with contents and top with tissue paper
5. Seal and send box!

P.S. This is just to help you get started, but you should TOTALLY make up your own! It's best to personalize it to what the couples' preference is! Do they like outdoor adventure? A night out on the town?

P.P.S. Don't limit this to married couples! What about for those dating? What about for a relaxing night for a single friend or for two best friends? What about a family version?

Lesson #174 You Never Have to Let Fruit Go to Waste {Homemade Fruit Leather Baby!}

February 9, 2012

There are some things you learn in life that are just priceless... like the fact that you never have to let fruit go to waste. ALSO priceless is the taste of fruit leather... should this be legal? AND you don't even need a  fancy pansy food dehydrator. 

Right before anything goes bad I peel/slice it up, put it in a zip lock bag and freeze it! Then it just sits waiting for a beautiful smoothie to be made... or this awesome fruit leather...

How to Make Homemade Fruit Leather (base recipe)
  • 3-4 cups of fresh or frozen fruit 
  • sugar or honey (optional)
  • lemon (optional to minimize browning)

    Fruit Leather Sample Recipes (also known as 'what Anna had in the freezer')

    Apple-Pinapple-Lemon Fruit Leather
    2 cups frozen apples (peeled)
    2 cups frozen pinapple
    4 tablespoons of honey
    juice from half a lemon

    Raspberry-Peach Fruit Leather
    2 cups frozen raspberries
    2 cups frozen peaches
    1/4 cup sugar

    1. Combine all ingredients from recipe
    2. If your ingredients are frozen, heat in a pan until well combined
    3. Add thick liquid to food process. Blend until smooth
    4. Line a pan with parchment or plastic wrap. Pour liquid on pan and spread evenly. 
    5. Bake in oven at 140-170 degrees for 6-8 hours
    6. Let cool. Keep it in an airtight container, and enjoy within the week. 

    Lesson# 144 The Best Gifts are Homemade {Natural Chapstick}

    December 20, 2011

    After searching FAR AND WIDE for an awesome Christmas gift for my girlfriends this year... I finally landed on the best gift project I'm made thus far.

    I mean, this is way better than painted frames, decorated mugs and puff painted totes. Introducing the gift that's inexpensive, fun to make, and is actually useful in real life! WOAH! What a concept, right?

    Homemade Natural Chapstick
    (because who needs another crocheted tissue box cover?)

    1.5 oz beeswax (1 and a half tablets)
    6 vitamin E capsules
    2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (2=more rigid, 3=softer)
    2-3 teaspoons of coconut oil
    2-3 teaspoons of cocoa butter
    25-30 empty chap stick tubes OR 15 lip balm containers

    1. Boil water a few inches deep in a pot
    2. Combine ingredients in a measuring cup. If your vitamin E is in pill form, create a small hole and squeeze gel out of capsules.
    3. Place measuring cup in few inches of mildly boiling water (creating a double boiler effect to avoid burning and encourage even melting). Please handle with caution as hot oil and water mixing can be very dangerous.
    4. Stir while ingredients melt together into a combined liquid
    5. Once liquid is melted, poor into a spoon and let harden about 1 minute
    6. Test the consistency of your mixture. Add more solids or liquids as needed. (example: more beeswax firms it up, and olive oil will make it less firm)
    7. Place spoon back in melted mixture to remove test.
    8. Once happy with consistency, carefully pour into tubes or containers. Measuring cup handle may be hot.  I have heard that plastic droppers work well, but we had no problem carefully pouring it right out of the measuring cup.

    Where I found my ingredients:

    Organic olive oil (local health food store)
    Organic coconut oil (local health food store)
    Vitamin E tablets (local health food store)
    Raw cocoa butter (ebay)
    Empty chap stick tubes (ebay and a few pill boxes)
    Raw beeswax (ebay)
    clear printer labels (walmart)

    Aren't they adorable?

    Be Brave and EXPERIMENT!
    Okay, so obviously this isn't a perfect science! What is nice, is you are able to test out your melted ingredient mix VERY easily along the way. I really enjoyed being able to adjust it until I was happy with it. The amount of ingedients may vary on your preference, but also the quality and density of your products. Use this recipe as a base, but don't be afraid to be creative.

    Be Kind to your Recipients
    Be sure to buy product that are basically edible, or food-grade quality since people will be putting this on their lips :) You can add flavors, colors and all sorts of exciting things... but beware that it may change how long your chap stick may last.

    The Natural Smell
    My end product had a nice and very light honey/coconut smell to it, and I REALLY like the texture. I was impressed with the product more than I thought I would. The vitamin E really helps to smooth everything out, so don't skip!

    Dress 'em Up!
    I think it is SO worth it to spend a little more to add the finishing touch of personalized labels. I purchased the tiny clear avery printer labels and listed the ingredients so those with allergies could be aware :)

    Cost per Tube
    The total cost I think was around $1 per tube, but I have seriously 75 percent of all my ingredients left! Most things come in 10-16 ounces worth, so go half-sies with a friend. If I used up all my products, I think it would be around .25 a tube!

    I would LOVE to hear how your chapstick-making adventures go or if you make any awesome new recipes or discoveries, so keep me in the loop! 

    I have to show off my chap-stick helper who snuck into a photo :) 
    (don't mind my messy closet in the background) My  family was visiting this week, and of course my dad jumped right in on my newest project and did all the pouring! He has always been so supportive of my little hobbies through the years. I love you dad! 

    Close at Heart Cross Stitch

    August 23, 2011

    One of my best friends Lynette is leaving me. 

    She is moving to New York City to become a famous baker. Really! 

    I know she will do well. I put one of my used atlases to good use to embroider her a little picture to hang on her wall. I'm happy with how it turned out. I hope Lynette will always remember how important she is and how loved she is over here on the west coast.

    I cried as we prayed over her, and I cried in my hubby's arms that night after the party. The only thing that's keeping me sane is the fact that I know she is in God's care, and following his amazing plan for her life. She is the most self-less person I have ever met. I love you Lynette. 

    (to make this gift I made a photocopy of an old atlas page, and stitched on it a bit to show her that our distance is truly not substantial)

    Free Happiness (and art print)

    August 13, 2011

    Added a new tab to my blog today :)

    I have 50+ drawings of little bee prints that I created this summer, I wanted to share one with you. This one's hanging right above my desk.

    Click the 'Free Happiness' tab above for the info.

    ps. I'm working on a digital print to share with you next. It should be up next week. I think you'll really like it. 

    Lesson #30 Make Your Soap Mess Free! Felt It!

    July 22, 2011

    Marriage is all about compromise. 

    David's family keeps the butter on the counter.
    My family keeps the butter in the fridge.
    Compromise: we keep the butter on the counter, covered, and for short amounts of time

    I like liquid soap for the shower.
    David likes bar soap for the shower. 
    (I think it gets gross when it makes a pile of goo on the shower edge)
    Compromise: I made felted soap

    Here's what you'll need: 
    *wool batting
    *hot water

    You can look up a ton of youtube videos on how to do this if you please. They are each 10 minutes long and have 98 steps. OR you can can follow my very technical instructions. 

    1. Wrap thin, stretched out layers of wool around the bar, alternating directions, until the soap is no longer visible
    2. Sprinkle with warm/hot water (not boiling) and pat bar until completely wet
    3. Rub bar for about 5 minutes until the surface is firm. Let Dry.  

    We had lots of fun just hanging out and rubbing soap together. I think this felted soap tutorial is such a fun and easy craft, everyone should try it!

    I'm going to miss you so much Lynette. I love you!

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