How to Turn Any Tote into a Diaper Bag

Floral planner, TJ Maxx | Notebook, Staples

Organic snack pouches for kiddos from Aldi | Granola bars for Mama | Muslin Swaddle blankets for nursing

iPhone camera tripod and remote | Noonday Wallet (similar) | Maybelline lipstick in Rum Riche (love this color!)

Several years ago I shared a post about my leather tote, along with a tip on how I converted it to an organized diaper bag. I wanted to carry a bag that was classy and timeless and wouldn't scream Mom-bag! everywhere I went. The tote and the organizer where both new to me, and I was so excited about them.

I thought I'd write a review again, because both products have stood the test of time, and are still used daily,  as I hoped they would be.

The tote was an investment piece, there is no denying that, but the story behind it, a story of Ethiopian women handcrafting beautiful leather goods, while overcoming poverty and working to provide for their families, along with the high quality and attention to detail, make this tote completely worth every penny it cost. With time it has softened and darkened becoming even more beautiful.

When my husband gifted it to me, I kissed him with delight and told him I would never purchase another bag again.

While I didn't stay completely true to my word, I thrifted a small vintage Coach bag to use when I don't have the kids with me, my leather Mamuye tote from FashionABLE has been used nearly daily in the three years that I've owned it. I highly recommend it to anyone who asks me about it... included the stranger who was absentmindedly stroking it, while commenting on its rare beauty. (She apologized for petting it when she realized that she was doing but I was already nearly doubled over in silent laughter, and told her it's not uncommon to find me petting regularly too.)

To keep the tote organized I purchased this bag insert on Amazon. It cost around $10. It's got two zippered pockets, one large main area, and several small pockets on the sides to house things you need easy access to, like your phone and Chapstick. Overall I like the design, my only wish is that it would be deeper and a bit more structured. I've been eyeing this one and this one on Amazon, but haven't purchased either yet, as I'm not really sure it's worth trying another one just because of those two things.

If I am leaving my kids with a sitter for the day, I can pull the insert out, and everything they need will be right there. That function has come in really handy.

I do use that small vintage bag I picked up on occasion but once I'm past the baby stage, and no longer need to carry diapers and wipes and other current necessities, I would love to invest in one more small bag from FashionABLE. I've been dreaming about this one or this one. However, they are constantly releasing new designs and they keep getting better and better... So I'm going to hold off on that purchase for while.

My love for this tote only grows stronger with time. Three years in, and I would still tell anyone considering it, make the purchase!

Disclosure: I will receive a small commission and/or reward credit on any purchases made through these links. Thank you for supporting my blog and helping to fund my next bag from FashionABLE. :)

Referral link for FashionABLE: www.livefashionable.com/?aic=39KM9SX


The Wisdom of Removing Teeth

The other week I did the most adult-like thing I can think of; I called the dentist to schedule an appointment to figure out what needs to happen with my wisdom teeth.

They've been working their way up through the gums for years, going in spurts. It's been in the back of my mind for so long, but the thought of how much it could possibly cost to extract them kept me from doing anything.

I'm twenty-five years old and I'm teething, grumpy and fussy, with my ten month old. Grace upon grace, baby girl. I know what you're going through!

Herm kept telling me I have to do something about them. You've got too nice of teeth, he said, to have them crowded out because you didn't take care of this problem.

So, I did what I do when I need to do something I really don't want to actually do: I made myself accountable to everyone who reads this blog. :) Yup, it's 24 on my list of 25 things.

I can't remember the last time I was at the dentist office, but I know it was between 7-9 years ago!

I used to go regularly, back when my parents covered the cost (thanks mom and dad!), but every time I would go in they would tell me I did an awesome job caring for my teeth, then ask for payment... they accepted cash, checks, solid nuggets of gold or brand new vehicles, for that bit of encouraging news.

I moved out of country for a while, then came home, got married, and never went back. Dentists are darn expensive, and I was certainly broke.

Walking into that dentist office the other week was a bit nerve racking, if I'm truly honest. I won't have cavities, I told myself. I won't need every tooth in my mouth yanked, I won't, just the wisdom teeth!

They took a few x-rays to check if my wisdom teeth could be removed in-office, cleaned my teeth, told me I had nice coloring and beautiful enamel (thank you My Magic Mud! More on that in a moment), and that whatever I was doing, to just keep doing it.

We've got plans of removing only two of the wisdom teeth. And yes, it can be done in-office and will cost much, much less than I had imagined. Whew, I can cross that off the list!

When asked if I would like to schedule another cleaning six months from now, I laughed and said, No, let's go for another nine years, I don't like paying someone regularly to tell me to keep doing what I've been doing. (Okay, so  I didn't say that. But I really don't like paying for someone to tell me I know how to brush. I'm pushing the next cleaning out at least another year.)


Okay, now that we've got wisdom teeth out of the way, let's get talk about My Magic Mud.

I love a nice, bright smile. It's one of the first things I notice on someone else, and something I try hard to maintain myself.

But, after using Crest Whitening strips for a while, I noticed my teeth were becoming really sensitive. Researching it a bit, I realized the strips really aren't good for your teeth at all. The strips weaken enamel, which causes sensitivity. If used too often it can even cause severe damage.

 I stopped using them, and instead tried brushing with baking soda every now and then, and consuming less coffee or red wine. (But what fun is that?!) Those methods worked, sort of.

Recently though, I heard about My Magic Mud. They have both tooth paste and tooth powder made from completely natural ingredients, like activated charcoal, coconut oil, and bentonite clay. The products promise to both whiten and strengthen your teeth.

I contacted the company and they generously sent me a set to try out. Thank you!

It's been just a few weeks since I started using it, and I already notice a difference in how clean my teeth feel and how bright they are looking. My dentist commented on that beautiful enamel and good coloring, and I'm guessing this might be playing into that.

The tooth paste doesn't have glycerin in it, so it's not thick and foamy like most pastes. If you're able to get use to that, I think you might really like it. Your teeth will look crazy while brushing, because everything turns black. But no worries, it'll all be white again, once you rinse.

The powder is a bit stronger than the paste, and extremely messy. Be careful when you use it! It works well though, and so far I've been really happy with the results. It doesn't work as fast a Crest Whitening Strips did, but it's a more natural approach that doesn't hurt my teeth or make them sensitive.

Overall, I've been really happy with this product and will be buying more when my stash runs out!

You can buy My Magic Mud Paste and My Magic Mud Powder on Amazon or directly from the company.

Also, in my research about oral health and remineralizing and whitening teeth naturally, I came across this article. I found it really interesting, and though perhaps you would too.

All of this because I thought to add removing my wisdom teeth to that birthday bucket list. You're welcome. :)

Disclosure: My Magic Mud sent me products to try out and review but the opinions I shared are completely my own. If you purchase the products through this blog post, I will make a small commission on them, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for helping support my blog! <3


You Know You're a Frazzled Mom If... || Part 2

Photos by LYNDSI Photography

• You spend your Saturday morning driving all over town, visiting every auto body shop, in search of the parts your husband requested you pick up. Nothing makes you feel more stupid then asking a mechanic questions about the workings of a vehicle you really know nothing about. Your kids are both crying in the backseat, and even though you know nothing about the vehicle needing repairs, you can't figure out why three different mechanics at three different locations aren't taking your situation seriously... that is, until you get home and realize you're sporting mismatched earrings with crazy hat hair and there's a trail of baby snot slithering down your left shoulder. Obviously if you can't take yourself serious, no one else will either.

• Two weeks later you get home from church, and after putting the kids to bed you start putting yourself to bed too. Reaching up to remove your earrings you realize you're only wearing one... the other is still patiently waiting to be worn. It's been that way for the past four hours. It's a scary thing, really, when you're responsible for keeping two young children safe from harm, but have proven time and again that you're not even responsible enough for earrings.

• You typically scold your toddler son when he teases his sister, yelling at her loudly, causing her to cry. But in a desperate attempt to keep them both awake on the 20 minute drive home from Grandma's house, you suggest he could start screaming in her face.

• You enforce a No Sweets Before Breakfast policy but don't tell your early rising children you crawled out of bed at 5:30 am so you could dunk a bar of chocolate into your hot coffee and savor it slow, not having to share even a bit. 

• When the kids are awake it takes so long to drink a mug of coffee that if you make it hot it'll eventually turn iced, and if you make it iced it will surely warm up.

• The cashiers at your local grocery store all know about how your toddler son escaped through the automatic doors as you were distractedly paying your bill last week, and was running around all the cars in the parking lot. They heard your shrieking panic as you busted your way through the doors that weren't automatically opening for you, and now, this week, while they're joking about the incident with you, you can feel 16 extra eyes watching that toddlers every move. His mom forgets her earrings... she might forget him too.

• Someone finds out your a stay-at-home mom and asks what you do all day... I can't even remember to put in both earrings, yet you expect me to recall what I do all day?.

When both children are finally sleeping, you feel tempted to sit down and crack open a new book. Time, however, has shown you that the silence of a book spine cracking open can be heard yards away and is loud enough to wake even the heaviest of sleepers. Don't risk it.

Out of the kindness of her heart, a cashier at the same grocery store, mentions it's time for another kid. Mine were thirteen months apart, she says, while wearing both earrings and looking very responsible.

It takes more thought and preparation to plan how you're going to spend a kid-free evening out than it did to plan your own wedding.

• You get up early and go to bed late, fully knowing it's a game of Russian Roulette you're playing. Spin the cylinder and pull the trigger; one, if not two, children are bound to wake up. But it's the quiet, precious stillness of those hours that gives you an adrenaline rush worth the risk. Mom's get no sleep. This is why.

Hi friends, I'm Sarah, and I love being a Frazzled Mom.

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Don't Let Kind Words Go Unsaid

I don't do it often enough, verbalizing why I admire someone, letting them know how they encourage or inspire or brighten my life.

I think about it. I know what I like about each of my closest friends, I even tell others what I see and like in those people. So why then, do I not tell them, to their face?

After my friend Ev, cousin Cheryl, and acquaintance Sara, passed away, will within a year and a half time span, I realized that too often in life we save those kind, uplifting words for funerals. Not intentionally, we just don't think about how fragile life is, we think we have time to say those things... we save it for a birthday card we will write 11 months from now, or for a wedding toast.

It can feel awkward to say I love you for no reason in particular, maybe especially so if you were raised in a stoic German culture, like I, that doesn't openly show emotion. Letting someone know you really like character qualities you see in them isn't something that simply comes up on every day conversation.

But why not?

I'm tired of funerals, honestly.

I want to start those sharing sweet sentiments with the person I am talking about, not just for the rest of the world to hear after that person is already gone.

Enter, the handwritten note.

It's one the list: 10. Write a Handwritten Note to Someone I Greatly Admire.

I did this the last time I had a birthday bucket list as well, and knew it was something I should be doing more often in life. This time around I decided to write notes to several friends, not just one. I chose women who push me outside of my comfort zone, women who inspire me to love my family more, to read more, to think outside the box. Their influence on my life is strong, They are all very different from one another, and in completely different stages of life than what I'm currently in. That's what I like so much about having them as friends.

This year I'm going to be writing more note cards because life is too short to let kind words go unsaid.


What Chocolate Cake Taught Me About My Addiction to Instagram

Babe, I need a slice of chocolate cake! Herm and I were curled up together on the couch, and I was sharing what was most heavy on my heart... A moist, rich, decadent slice. Just one. It's all I've been thinking about for the last two weeks.

Herm looked at me, astonished, as if I had suddenly sprouted a second head. 

You are craving chocolate cake? He shook his head, a little dumbfound.  I've been with you for 4.5 years of marriage and two pregnancies, and I have never before heard you mention a craving for something, especially chocolate cake. Wait, are you telling me you're pregnant?!

It's the curse of being woman. We come down with the flu, or mention something slightly out of the ordinary, and suddenly everyone starts guessing the gender and suggesting names. 

I'm not pregnant, I just want cake!

Stating that out loud made the longing even more intense. I searched Pinterest for the quick fix, cake in a mug. Three minutes in the microwave and voila

Only, it wasn't voila! In an attempt to make the cake sort of healthy, I used things like almond flour and maple syrup and black cocoa powder. Of course, like always, I just poured the ingredients together, not measuring. The timer beeped. Excitedly I topped that mug with a bit of homemade whipped cream, dove my spoon into the gooey depths, and tasted. It was not moist, rich, or decadent, but rather, bland, dry, and very disgusting microwaved gloop. 

Somehow though, as I scraped all the contents from the mug into the garbage bucket, my longing for chocolate cake was semi-satisfied. Life moved on.

You're probably wondering by now where this story is going. How did chocolate cake that I didn't actually get to eat teach me anything about Instagram addictions?

It made to pause and ponder.

Do you remember the list? Yeah, that one, where I posted 25 things I aim to accomplish before I turn 26. It's here on the blog for the whole world to keep me accountable. 

The very first thing is: 1. Take a Sabbath from social media one day per week for the next three months.

In general I'm a goal-oriented, easily disciplined person. I set my mind to it and it's as good as done. I understand that eating chocolate cake or other sugary foodies isn't going to help with fitness goals, so it's only a treat, and a very rare one at that.  I don't watch shows or subscribe to Netflix because any free time I have I would prefer to spend doing things more meaningful to me. I get that the daily, early morning practices of making the bed, of eating a healthy breakfast, of spending time in the Word, and of working out, can set the tone of my entire day. And so I do all of those things almost every day.

I already had a few personal rules in place around social media / phone usage, and I guess I thought they were enough: When with friends, out to dinner with my family, or in other social settings, mindless scrolling was an absolute negative. It drives me crazy when other people do this, as if to say, hanging out with you is boring, I'd rather be with my Insta-friends. I saved the mindless scrolling for when I was home with my family. The people most important to me in the whole wide world! I was, in a way, saying, I'm choosing be with my Insta-friends, I find you rather boring.

If I am a disciplined person, why then has it taken me this long to realize that limited my social media consumption, just like I limit chocolate cake, might be a really, really good thing?

Truthfully, I already knew that. But sometimes, when I don't speak my goals out loud, I don't hold myself to them.

Taking one day every week to unplug from social media has been the most refreshing thing I've done in a while. It's showed me that I really don't miss it too much when I'm not there, face lit by the glow of a screen, but I certainly miss a whole lot when I'm constantly there, lost in the phones addicting glow.  It showed me that the more time I force myself to I say no to my phone and yes to more family, the more I actually want to say no to that silly phone. 

I completed that three month goal, but I don't plan to stop that habit of unplugging one day each week. In fact, I'm planning to build upon that. No longer do I charge my phone in my bedroom at night. It's out on the counter, out of sight, out of mind. I've been setting it aside in the morning too, until after 9 am. It gives me three uninterrupted hours to have coffee, read my Bible, make a healthy breakfast for the kids and I, do a workout, plan my day, and start the wash, or ever else I may be focusing on. 

Evenings aren't getting a free pass either; I'm going to be more careful of my time, more intentional to just sit in the quiet, letting myself be bored. I don't need to scroll through Instagram to pass time.

All of this from a craving for chocolate cake?! I would say this lesson I've learned has completely been worth the calories from the most moist, rich, decadent slice of cake one could find. 

Tell me friends, where could I get a slice that would pass the bill? I want a slice that will stick to my thighs, one that will take a week of Ab workouts to burn off! Microwave-able, healthy ingredient, mug options are not options.

Now to get lost in the glow that is social media, to find a recipe on Pinterest.... surely I jest.


Because It's Cheaper than Counseling

A few blog posts ago I mentioned that neither Herm nor I could remember the last time we had went on a date, just the two of us. It's something we want to improve on this year; we've set money aside in our monthly budget, so really, we have no excuses. I've got a little black dress that he loves to see me in, and the only time I ever wear it is on date night... (So if you're reading this babe, and it's been a little while since you last saw me wearing that thing, maybe make a reservation somewhere.)

There are a few ladies I follow on Instagram (this one in particular) who make dating their spouse high priority. I think its the sweetest, most sexy thing ever. I love when couples seem to grow closer and more in love as time moves on. It takes intention for that to happen, because if you aren't setting time aside to get to know your spouse better in this season of life, life really does have a way of filling up with good things that will call for your every waking minute.

Sometimes you have to say no to the good, so you are able to say yes to the best.

We spend a lot of time together, Herm and I, but we're going to try to be more intentional about time together. Alone.

One thing we've done several times though in the past year, because it's cheaper than counseling, but also because we truly to love these couples and enjoy spending time with them, is to ask friends -- ones older and wiser than us -- out to dinner.

We pick their brains about family and marriage and business and community -- because we see fruit in their lives, evidence of what intentionality and cultivating character qualities can do, and we want to learn and grow from their life experiences too -- then we pay their bill.

Like I said, it's cheaper than counseling.

We've got a serial killer-like list of specific couples we're planning to target: The ones who seem to do life well. The ones who have marriages that created the hashtag, #MarriageGoals. The ones who have good relationships with their kids. The ones who have businesses. The ones who love to travel. The ones involved in serving their church and their communities.

Really, the list is endless. We choose people based off of things we know they are skilled at or have done well at, that are areas we want to grow in.

Who knows, your name might even be on there.

Our lives are richer and more meaningful because of it, and even though we're planning to go on dates with just the two of us more often this year, our double-dating is something we don't want to give up.

If you don't have a list like this, of people you're planning to target, start thinking about it. I don't think you'll regret it, we certainly don't!


When Love is Boring

We're celebrating five years today, five years since that cold, wintry evening when Herm asked if I'd like to go out for coffee with him after work. It was there, in that quiet corner of Dunkin' Donuts, our hands holding lattes --his a raspberry mocha, mine caramel-- though we both secretly wished to instead be hand-holding each other, that he wondered if I would want to go out for coffee again with him, perhaps even regularly.

He was asking, nervously, if I would be his girlfriend, and before he even finished the question I was already nodding my head yes, and to myself thinking, Heck yes!  Relieved it didn't take him much longer to work up the nerve... because I was about ready to reverse cultural roles and call his dad to ask if I could date his son. (I'm kidding! Sort of.)
Today I went through the Dunkin' Donuts drive thru and ordered a raspberry mocha latte to deliver to Herm at work. I'm not really a sentimental person, but five years! It doesn't feel like it's been that long, yet in the same breath, I say it feels as though we've always been together.

Time growing older with him, studying his habits and preferences, told me he wouldn't like that latte as much now as he used to --we didn't really know what good coffee was back then-- and I was right, it's so sweet, he said. 

My phone vibrated this afternoon as I was preparing supper. I glanced down.  Hey, I know it's late in the day but if you want to go out tonight you may. I'll watch the kids.

Heck yes!

Now I'm back at Dunkin' Donuts again, for the second time today. I hadn't visited this place in months, possibly pushing years. I'm here mainly because the coffee shop I'd rather be at, the one with good coffee, is closed. But also, if I'm truly honest, because Dunkin', on that cold, February night exactly five years ago today, is a bit nostalgic to me. Perhaps I am the sentimental type.  

I used to think people who were married for five or more years were basically married for a lifetime; they held a wealth of knowledge and knew each other inside and out. At times it seemed their love lives must be boring. Us though, we would never let it get to a place of boredom. Never.

I laugh now, because I still feel like a new bride, though a bit more settled in my role as wife, more comfortable with who I am. And quite certainly, a touch more boring. Time has a way of drawing us closer, we understand each other better, we communicate deeper and more easily. We've felt overwhelming sorrow and experienced overflowing joy. And we're okay with the quiet, non-glamorous, as long as we're together.

I love this kind of love. 

The simple, every day choosing to love, love. 

It's what prompts him to make a second mug of coffee --the good, freshly ground beans, perfect temperature water, Aero-pressed sort-- just before he heads off to work, to leave it on the counter, for me.

Because of love I buy the expensive, might-as-well-be-wiping-with-cash-it-costs-so-much toilet paper. Every time, cringing, as I read how many cents it cost per hundred squares, but I buy it anyway. (And when I accidentally buy the cheap stuff, like now, it never runs out... much to his chagrin. Thanks for still loving me.)

It's the love that learned how to assemble a bologna sandwich in the same order --bread, mayo, peppers, pickles, lettuce, cheese, bologna, mayo, bread-- day in and day out, for the past 4.5 years of lunch-box lunches.

The love that tells you, as you're walking out the door for a kid-free evening, that you're not to return until at least 7:30. No, make it 8.

I see now, five years in, that in the daily acts of service, of giving and knowing of receiving and being known, in the boring, is where love flourishes.

It's in the small moments.

Five years in, and I'm excited about this boring love. Because now, five years in, I realize it's anything but boring, and we're still certainly brand new at this growing old together!

The real romantics know that stretchmarks are beauty marks, and that different shaped women fit into the different shapes of men souls, and that real romance is really sacrifice.  -Ann Voskamp