Friday, July 24, 2015

Rian’s 5th Birthday

Rian's 5th birthday

This girl stole my heart from the very first moment I saw her. She is truly one of the sweetest, most caring girls. Sometimes her heart feels so much that it can be overwhelming for her. But still she carries on; strong, brave, and ever so thoughtful. She doesn’t need much, but gives in excess. Justin and I never go a day without her telling us “I love You” at least 10 times, and we hope it will always be like that. She shines so brightly, just like the little light God intended for her to be. We’re so blessed to have each day with her.

Happy 5th birthday beautiful girl. We pray that there will be many, many more.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Finding confidence with 3 kids–low maintenance beauty routine that I follow

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If I’m to be completely honest, the transition from 2 to 3 kids has been difficult. Going from having two kids who were 4 and 5, to throwing a baby into the mix was a big adjustment for me. Lennox just turned one and there are still plenty of days I feel overwhelmed by lack of sleep (because he still wakes up most nights at least 4-5 times), lack of personal space (it’s rare when he isn’t clinging to me every moment of the day), and the lack of time I get to spend with my husband when it’s just the two of us (we’ve had maybe 2 “dates” in the past year and they only count if your idea of a date is going to Costco to grocery shop and picking out a car seat at Babies R Us). 

For a while my husband would come home to see a wife who’s only hairstyle was the messy bun. He saw a wife who wore clothes that were spit up on, had bags under her eyes, and begged to take a nap as soon as he stepped through the door. Never once did he complain or make me feel like the the complete mess I was. He was always quick to reassure me that I looked beautiful, that I was taking care of our kids and he knew I was tired and it was ok with him. He was completely supportive and encouraging, but I had still lost so much confidence with my appearance.

*Evidence of the messy bun, makeup-less face, and overall exhaustion showing on my face above.

I knew a lot of my confidence was wrapped up in my looks and not my accomplishments. It didn’t matter that I knew I could survive a year without getting more than a couple hours of sleep, or keep 3 kids fed and alive all day every day, and still manage to work, keep the house relatively clean, and do all the other things moms across the world do on a daily basis. Looking like I was exhausted and worn out all the time had me feeling that way too. For my sake alone, I needed to find ways to get back some of my confidence, and feel more put together. I put together a list in my head of daily things I could do that would make me feel good about how I looked, and make me feel like my husband shouldn’t run for the door every night he came home from work.

My top three things were:
1. Having my hair done and face washed.
2. Putting on a little makeup, and always mascara.
3. Wearing clothes that were from my closet and not the stash of workout/painting clothes I had previously been wearing.

They weren’t big things, but I honestly have always felt better about myself when these three things were done. I take night showers so that when I get up in the morning I can spend the time quickly washing my face and doing my hair. I make sure to wash using a moisturizing cleanser so that I don’t have to spend time worrying about dry skin and applying lotion when I know I’ll forget. I reduced the amount of makeup I wore but kept the important tools like a light coverup, volumizing mascara, and a good eyeliner for weekends when Justin is home and I have more time to get ready. I decided that no matter what I was going to break out from wearing workout clothes or clothes with paint stains on them and actually pick clothes from my closet to put on and wear every morning.


Since time is a factor in getting ready each morning, having clean, clear, and moisturized skin is important to me. Keeping my skin clean and moisturized means I don’t have to worry about dry patches on my face, or ashy knees and elbows. I  rarely apply lotion and instead try to use cleansers and moisturizers that aren’t harsh on my skin. Olay® Ultra Moisture Beauty Bars are made with shea butter (one of my favorite skin care products) and easily keep skin feeling clean, and soft.

The Olay® Ultra Moisture Beauty Bars are gentle enough to use on your face too.

I started cleaning my face each night, which is huge because I used to leave my makeup on most nights feeling too tired or just too lazy to take it off. Having clean skin helps keep my skin clear and reduces the time I spend getting ready each morning, so night time face cleaning has become the ritual. Even wearing minimal makeup (mascara only in the pic below), I don’t mind taking a quick snapshot with my kiddos. Having clearer skin makes me feel more confident for sure.

I also became a fan of CoverGirl® LashBlast Volume Mascara, and CoverGirl® Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner Pencil. Those have recently become two of my favorite products and are now on my must have list when it comes to makeup. The self-sharpening eyeliner goes on so smooth and easy, and it takes me way less time to apply than it did when I wore other eyeliners. And I don’t know what it is about mascara, but having longer, thicker lashes has always been a self esteem booster. I don’t leave home or go throughout the day without applying the LashBlast Volume mascara. Its hypoallergenic formula is a plus for my sensitive eyes. I chose the water resistant mascara which seems to stay on throughout the day but still easily comes off when I clean my face each night.

None of the things I did were huge steps that altered my appearance but together they helped give me a boost in confidence that I desperately needed. Looking good helps me feel good about myself. I didn’t need to adhere to anyone else’s beauty standards, but I did need to find a good balance for myself in order to feel like I hadn’t lost myself completely. Lucky for you and me, beauty products that can help you look good and feel good don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. And purchasing them doesn’t have to take extra time out of your schedule in order to shop at a specialized beauty store. You can find great P&G brands like Olay and CoverGirl at your local Walmart like I did, and save money with their everyday low prices.

P&G wants to help you find confidence and ease in your own beauty routine so they’re offering a $25 Walmart gift card to one of my lucky readers. You can easily enter below using the giveaway widget. You can also check out my Instagram and Facebook page for additional ways to enter.

UPDATE: GIVEAWAY CLOSED, Winner was selected and notified. Congrats Alex Sapp!

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*Disclosure: This is a collaboration between Always in Wonder and P&G. You can read more about my advertising and disclosure policies here. Compensation for this post was provided for my honest opinion on products I selected to try. The Walmart gift cards and any product information has been provided by P&G.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Celebrating first birthdays with mini photo shoots

first birthday photo session
I have always loved documenting each of the kids growing up with tons of photos, but usually nothing more extensive than a quick snap shot. A couple years ago, I decided that I was going to put some effort into taking family photos of us and the kids and actually do more than store them on my computer or cell phone. I wanted to take what I thought were “awesome photos” and hang them in our home instead of never printing them out. But I definitely didn’t have the funds for a professional photographer, and our family is way more into casual, spur of the moment outings than formal appointments. So with just a few tips and ideas I’ve managed to do 3 family photo sessions, and now Lennox’s first birthday photos.
*Read over my Family Photo Tips post and More Quick Tips for Family Photos for some motivation to start taking more family pics this year.
For Lennox’s first photos I put together a quick game plan of what I wanted for the photos and we made it happen Sunday afternoon.
1. We decided what he would wear, something simple that he already had because we didn’t have the funds to buy a new outfit.
2. We chose a location downtown with a cool background to make the photos more interesting.
3. We decided on a few simple photo props to make the pictures a little more professional looking and fun.
4. We made sure all the kids were fed and happy before heading out.
first birthday photos for Lennoxfirst birthday photos

I used an antique chair, that my used to be my dad’s when he was little, and painted it white with Americana Decor Chalky Finish paint so Lennox could sit or hold onto it while standing. I made a large rustic wooden number 1 sign as a photo prop to show off his age, and we picked up latex balloons from a local party store before driving downtown to take photos.

Justin and the kids both helped to keep him smiling and entertained while I snapped as many photos as I could.

Lennox's first birthday pics
1st birthday photos
I even managed to get Levi and Rian in a few photos with him and take a quick Father’s Day photo of Justin and the kids at the same time. The mini photo shoot of Lennox took less than 30 minutes and I totally believe that’s the main reason I am able to keep taking family photos. Short, easy sessions where no one grumbles about how long it’s taking is the key!

first birthday photo ideas with siblings
father's day 2015 pic

No more excuses ok? Get out there and use your camera to capture special moments and don’t be afraid to try it on your own.

If you’re interested in purchasing a large number sign for your own photo shoots email to create a custom order. Or check out our etsy shop The Rugged Heart for more awesome signs.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Easy to sew leather sleeves for your gadgets and studded leather trays for trinkets (plus a giveaway)

This is a collaboration between Always in Wonder and the Leather Hide Store. You can read more about my advertising and disclosure policies here.

DIY leather sleeves for iphone, glasses, and kindle

First let me start off with saying that I am the worst at sewing. Little children who haven’t taken a class could probably out do me on their first try. But even knowing how bad I am, I still wanted to try my hand at making some leather sleeves for a few of our gadgets, like my kindle and my husband’s iPhone, and even one for his glasses. It was the first time I took out my sewing machine in quite a while, so of course I had to practice before actually sewing anything. Once I started getting the hang of working with the leather and using the machine to sew the pieces together I felt comfortable enough to try making a few simple sleeves that I could easily slide my kindle into, or my husband’s iPhone. They’re totally not perfect because as I mentioned in the beginning, my sewing skills are not all there, but I love the look and feel of the leather, and how easy it was to stitch them together.

The upholstery hides I used came from remnant pieces from the Leather Hide Store. The Leather Hide Store has one of the largest online selections of upholstery leather that can be used for furniture, handbags, smaller projects and crafts, and many other uses. You can browse their many different leathers and even receive free samples so that you know the exact color, texture, and feel of the leather you will receive.

diy leather sleeve for kindle

I used paper templates cut to the measurements I wanted my leather to be, and traced around them with white chalk before cutting them out.
chalk outline for tracing pattern on leather

The chalk is easily removed just by handling the leather, and doesn’t seem to linger afterward or cause any stains. Once you have your two pieces cut out, make sure to keep the smooth leather facing each other. I used small clothes pins to keep the leather pieces clamped together while sewing them, instead of actually pinning the leather together. Once all three of my sides were sewn together I turned the sleeves right side out and made sure the tops were evenly cut straight across. Or as much as I could get them.

diy leather sleeve in chocolate leather
leather sleeve for kindle

I love that my kindle (which doesn’t’ have a case, scandalous I know) will now be protected in the nice soft leather sleeve when in a drawer, or in my purse/diaper bag, or when sitting on top of the table. My husband’s iPhone is also without a case, so the sleeve I made him is perfect for easily getting to his phone, but at night he can slide it inside and not worry about the screen getting scratched or hitting it against his nightstand.

After making and sewing the sleeves I also decided to make a few of those cute leather trays with the folded corners that people have been pinning and making like crazy. And with how easy they are, no wonder they’ve been filling up my search for easy leather crafts.
diy studded leather tray
small leather trays for jewelry and coins

At home my husband comes home, throws his keys on the table or dresser, takes his work badge off and leaves it on the counter, leaves miscellaneous coins lying around after emptying his pockets, and just generally frustrates me when I have to round up all these small items at the end of the day. In our bedroom I have several smaller pieces of jewelry and no jewelry box to put them in so they usually slide around in a drawer and get tangled up with each other. I thought these leather trays were perfect for small things such as jewelry, coins, and other trinkets, and help us keep them all in one place.  I ended up making two sets of three small leather trays, one to keep for our home, and one to giveaway to one of you!

trio of small leather trays for trinkets

Enter below using the giveaway widget if you’d like to win your own set of studded leather trays!

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This is a collaboration between Always in Wonder and the Leather Hide Store. You can read more about my advertising and disclosure policies here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Get rid of your outdoor mold, mildew, and algae this Spring using 30 Seconds Cleaner

This is a collaboration between Always in Wonder and 30 Seconds Cleaners. You can read more about my advertising and disclosure policies here.

Concrete before and after using 30 Seconds Cleaner

Do you see the above pic? The concrete on the left is what I’ve battled with ever since we moved into our home 6.5 years ago. Every time it rains water collects there on our patio and just stays there feeding the mold and algae. The sun rarely shines there either. It’s usually always shady in that one spot, which means the concrete never really has a chance to dry out during the winter or rainy spring, and it’s always a complete pain to try and clean and get rid of. We moved into our home in the Fall, and within the first week I was on my hands and knees for hours scraping and scrubbing the stuff away. Six months later it was back. My knees said “no way! Never again are we doing that,” so then I was left with either trying to spray cleaners on and hose them off (hoping they worked) or leaving it ugly and green. 

After 6.5 years of dealing with that mess I am totally happy to say that I found a solution to my problem.

 30 Seconds Cleaner and Sprayer

30 Seconds Cleaner got rid of the algae and mold from the concrete and the stucco on the side of our house and there was no scraping, scrubbing or kneeling involved. It was amazing how little I had to do in order for it to be gone.

30 Seconds Cleaner Concentrate

30 Seconds Cleaner will remove stains from algae, mold and mildew from concrete, wood, stucco, brick, plastic and a lot more surfaces. You simply spray it on and then hose it off after the recommended period of time for that surface. It’s safe to use around plants, lawns, and pets when used as directed, and it is biodegradable when rinsed into soil. 30 Seconds Cleaner is a product made in the USA, and the company has been established since 1977. They have over 35 years of experience creating a product that works extremely well.

uses for 30 Seconds Cleaner

Before using 30 Seconds Cleaner I can honestly say I was skeptical it was going to work like they said. I thought for sure I would have to do multiple applications, get out a deck scrubber, and be outside for an hour or two working on our patio no matter what the directions said. But instead I spent a few minutes reading the instructions and filling up the sprayer that came with the 30 Seconds Cleaner, before heading outside.

concrete before using 30 Seconds Cleaner

Once outside I sprayed the concrete and stucco generously to get the whole area saturated with the cleaner.

spraying on 30 Seconds Cleaner

I could actually see the cleaner working just minutes after spraying it on.

30 Seconds Cleaner working to kill mold and algae on concrete

I waited the recommended time for the cleaner to work on the concrete and stucco before going back outside to hose the patio off. I didn’t use a special pressure washer or hose attachment to rinse the 30 Seconds Cleaner off, just a regular hose and nozzle.

rinsing off the 30 Seconds Cleaner

After rinsing off the patio I went inside and waited for the concrete and stucco to dry. When I came back out a couple of hours later I was totally surprised at the algae and mold being gone without having to actually do any intensive labor to remove it. Even though the patio and stucco were still a little damp I could tell that the 30 Seconds Cleaner did an amazing job at getting rid of all the green moldy algae.

concrete after using 30 Seconds Cleaner to remove mold and algae

concrete after using 30 seconds cleaner

I’m lucky I got the chance to try out the original 30 Seconds Cleaner and would recommend it to anyone who has problem areas like I had. You can purchase the 30 Seconds Cleaners online or you can find them in a store near you with their easy USA store locator.
You can find 30 Seconds Cleaners on TWITTER & FACEBOOK and see more uses for their product in the video below.

Disclosure: This is a collaboration between Always in Wonder and 30 Seconds Cleaners. You can read more about my advertising and disclosure policies here.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Paleo Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

Vegan Paleo Chocolate Chip Muffins

Remember those Paleo Coconut Pancakes I posted before this? Well I wanted to see if I could turn them into vegan pancakes as well, but replacing the eggs with flax seeds or chia seeds did not work. I could tell just by the first pancake they weren’t working out, so instead of wasting the batter I decided to turn it into muffins as well. Not only are muffins easy to bake up, they’re also completely convenient for morning breakfast for the kids and I. The kids think of muffins as a treat, so no matter if they’re full of healthy ingredients, they always think they’re getting away with something when eating one.

Paleo Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins


5 rounded tablespoons ground flax seed mixed with 1/4 cup warm water
1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
1/2 cup almond butter
2/3 cup coconut flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2- cup of Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (you can add more if desired)

Mix together your flax mixture, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, oil and almond butter.
In a separate bowl mix together you flour, baking soda, and sea salt. 
Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients and mix until combined.
Mix your Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips into your muffin batter.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick in the center of one and it comes out fairly clean.
Allow to cool or serve warm.

Paleo Coconut Pancakes

Paleo coconut pancakes

I’ve been working on getting my kids away from begging for their dreaded sugary cereals they want to eat in the mornings. They’re seriously convenient for me, especially with having an 8 month old, but they’re full of ingredients I’d prefer them not to eat. So this past week I concentrated on making them fruit and veggie smoothies, eggs, these paleo vegan Apple Sweet Potato muffins, and pancakes. I have a paleo pumpkin pancake recipe that I’ve made them many times before, but with no roasted pumpkin on hand, and a limited time to throw breakfast together I decided to experiment and throw these together. They came out delicious, very light and fluffy, and totally kid approved.


4 eggs
1 cup unsweetened almond milk or 1 cup full fat coconut milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1/2 rounded cup of coconut flour
2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
coconut oil or avocado oil for cooking the pancakes


Whisk your eggs until they are light and airy. Then mix in your milk, and vanilla, maple syrup.
In a separate bowl mix together your flour, flax, baking soda, and sea salt.
Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients and mix until they’re combined.
Oil a hot pan or griddle before spooning out the pancake mixture, about 1/4 of a cup for each pancake. The pancakes will spread out a bit but not too much.
Cook each pancake for about 2-3 minutes on each side before flipping.
Serve hot with maple syrup.