Who is The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer? Part Three

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Hello, I am Rebecca Jackson, self-proclaimed as, The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer. If you read “Who is The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer? Part One” or “Who is The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer? Part Two” then you already know that I gave myself this title when I decided to relaunch this blog after a brief hiatus from blogging shortly after I first began this experiment as a virtual diary of sorts and to attempt to increase the frequency of my writing as a hobby overall. I am in the middle of my 35th year on this planet (as of the writing of this post) and I am the mother of four very busy young ladies, ranging from 16 down to 3. This is “Post Three” of a three-part blog series that I will be posting across the next few weeks, to introduce myself and my Dazzling Domestic Dreamer lifestyle and mentality. In “Part One” I explained how my journey started and where the Domestic came from in “The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer” and in “Part Two” I explained how my journey continued and where the Dazzling came from in “The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer” title. Today we will tackle the Dreamer part of me and my title. We are starting right where we left off in “Part Two” and also where I am currently at, in the middle of my story, or God’s story as I must properly credit. So let’s jump in where we left off, at the end of Part Two of “Who is The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer?”

First, let’s start with the definition of the word dreamer. Like the others, I pulled this definition from Google and Webster’s Dictionary definitions and compiled the two together to cover the basics of what I think of when my mind goes to the word Dreamer…

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I explained in “Part One” how I jumped into “adulting” head first almost immediately after I graduated from high school, and bypassed my personal dreams to begin a domestic life with the man that is now my husband. I became a stay at home mom after working fulltime for eight years before my third daughter was born. In “Part Two” I explained that I love details, and sparkle, and glamour, and style and well thought out “extras”. I also discussed how there were some seasons that I struggled more than others to stay in tune with my Dazzling side, but I also briefly shared some of the methods I used to find my “Dazzle” and get it back in full force, where I feel like I am currently at. Truth be told, the dreamer in me is a little co-dependent on the dazzling part of me. If I am lacking in the luster department, the dreamer in me begins to drown in the stresses of day to day life. But God always seems to breathe life into me again just before my dreamer gets snuffed out every time. God has a plan for me, and if I need a little shock treatment to my soul every now and then to reignite the dreams He planted in my heart, then there is no better surgeon I’d like to administer it then Him.

For He Knows the Plans He Has for You Daughter…

Since I first learned to read and write, I have always loved books. I would read for hours and get lost in fantasy lands and become part of the communities in my head of the characters in the stories I read. I literally used to get punished for reading because I would sneak my books in my lap at the dinner table, skirt my chores or procrastinate on them so I could “finish this chapter” and then sneak into another when I thought my mother wouldn’t notice. I also, many nights, was the stereotypical kid under their sheets with a flashlight and a book instead of sleeping. I loved to read and still do, though I don’t find it as easy to find the time these days, I still make a point of taking in a few new reads a year nonetheless. I have also had a very active imagination, writing poems, song lyrics, short stories, picture books and even one attempt at a screenplay in high school before I got distracted by boys. I am and always have been a big fan of words and ideas. What many would call, a dreamer…

I believe God plants a series of dream seeds inside our heart when He knits each one of us together, and I believe that He hopes and prays for us that we nourish those dream seeds well to ensure we live our full potential for God’s will in our lives. Just as those people with children hope and pray to be able to aid in doing so for their children’s hopes and dreams aligned with their parental will, our Father God hopes and prays for our dreams aligned with His will. My first memorized and favorite bible verse has always played a hand in that belief.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV)

I believe He puts a little bit of dreamer in all of us, even the most type A, organized, structured people, have a little dreamer deep down inside of their soul. If you are willing to take a step, (or in some cases, a big old leap) in the direction of those dreams you just may be so incredibly surprised and blessed by the result of that faith step. In my case, I believe my seeds are many, God planted a whole vegetable garden of dreams in my heart and writing has always been one of the biggest of those dreams.

The Who Behind Every Story

I love to read the acknowledgments and author bios in books because I have always been equally as interested in the people creating the talented work I have enjoyed through the years. Thier personal journey, their experience and the people in their lives who have impacted and supported their dreams to become published authors. I want to read it all. It motivates me, it encourages me, and it reminds me that they are the fruits of their willingness to take a step in faith in the direction of their dreams. There are different real-life people and a story of triumph(s) behind every book cover in the bookstores, virtual and brick and mortar. Those stories are a result of countless more stories that don’t fill the pages and I can’t help but dream about that too. (Lol I told you I was a dreamer!)

More than wanting to know all of those many stories that have had to occur to put so many of my favorite books and many more into print, I want to get to the place in my own dreams where I am writing a bio for a book jacket and worrying about an author photo. I want to have the chance to write my acknowledgment pages and have them bound at the beginning of my very own published novel(s).  I dream of it and have since I was just a little girl and that was the motivation behind choosing blogging to begin my publishing journey. This is where the Dreamer in my title came from. I have always been a dreamer and I plan to never stop dreaming so I firmly believe God planted this as the third word in my title intentionally. As I explained in Part One of this series when I named my blog after my fourth daughter joined our family, and I was ready to begin tackling this leg of my journey, God planted three words in my head and they immediately felt right, Dazzling, Domestic, and my favorite being the Dreamer.

Dreamer Fueled, God Approved

Not only have I always been a dreamer, but I have always been drawn to dreamcatchers. From a young age I found them, beautiful and pulled in by the intracicies and details each one includes. Even before I had any understanding of their actual background, I seemed to always spot them and I was still a young girl when I first was given one as a gift that wound up hung by my bedpost.

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(Quick sidebar, the origin of the dreamcatcher is that at a certain time in Anishnabe history the people were suffering from frequent bad dreams that stumped the elders and “Medicine People” so the elders began making and distributing “dreamcatchers” as they came to be called, to entangle the bad dreams, or dreams and thoughts with malicious or unhelpful intent, keeping them from entering your head  and only allowing good dreams to pass.  Not entirely meant to prevent nightmares, because through some nightmares, lessons or revelations can come, but eliminating the pointless negativity from getting in your head while you sleep. They are intended to be hung by the bedpost so that only the good dreams pass through the hole in the center and travel down the feathers into your dreams.)

After learning the background and origin of dreamcatchers I found it an interesting analogy to God our father. While we sleep, (and are awake) God is protecting us, in our slumber He protects our dreams and only allows through productive dreams that will further his mission for our life and bring glory to Him. In doing so He is protecting us from Satan’s attacks, by way of fear-inducing, non-productive, negative and malicious thoughts and dreams. Though like in the origin of the dreamcatcher, nightmares can be neccessary in our dream state (or real life) to teach us things or help us come to revelations, but He is in our corner, at our bedpost, waging war with Satan on our behalf every single moment. Our tears are not wasted in those nightmares, instead, He counts them and stores them up. I still have a dreamcatcher at my bedpost and it was this symbolic correlation that helped to steer me in the direction of the dreamcatcher for my branding and logo.

More Than Just A Dream

When God begins a new work in you He is faithful to complete it, and I believe this wholeheartedly. Despite the struggles and trials, He will complete His work in you if you are faithful to nourish those dream seeds He planted inside of you and in the process, He will reveal and help grow new dream seeds you may not even be in tune too until after some of those very same trials take place. I know this to be true from personal experience. I have always been in tune with my passion for reading and writing and words in general. What I didn’t learn about myself until after some living and real-life trials, was that I also had a passion for parties, memory making, and all-around event planning. I enjoy getting people together to celebrate our milestones and accomplishments. I love to make memories and I really love to use my dazzling side to create memorable and personal events filled with dazzle and detail. Visit My Dazzling Events to see how God has and continues to encourage me to use this passion in my Dazzling Business journey too.

“Because time is limited and our days are numbered we must take the time to celebrate ourselves and each other and dazzle those days away together!”

~Rebecca Jackson

The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer

My husband and I have spent a decade of our professional lives going from one opportunity to the next looking for careers in the traditional sense, trying to find a company and leadership we could not just be employed by but also help to grow and evolve within, turning those employment opportunities into careers. Time and again we would dive into new opportunities head first, excited for the direction we felt we were led by God to take, ready to find a new career home, only to have those opportunities deflate and inevitably wreaking havoc on our finances, our relationship at times and also our emotions. Each time making us question if we were hearing His will in our lives correctly and each time bringing a new set of obstacles.  Faithfully we pushed on, prayerfully seeking, and waiting for His answers in His timing. A few years ago we closed up one of our most challenging seasons to date and at that time we found ourselves becoming increasingly curious about entreprenuership. We have both always dreamed of being self-employed, business owners who have built a legacy for our family and employment opportunities to create a nurturing career home for others. Through the years we have tossed around a few different routes we could take if we ever found ourselves in the financial place to do so. We were good at dreaming about being entreprenuers, but we weren’t really ever at peace with what that would look like in our own life or how we would even begin to fund those dreams. Enter doubt and inappropriate timing. This time though, things seemed different.

It was at this juncture, at the end of our most challenging, pain filled, wilderness of a season when we didn’t know how much further we could walk, that for the first time, we felt God steering us more and more in the direction of becoming business owners and we were suddenly in what could only be considered at Godly peace with the idea, and the paths that needed to be taken, suddenly seemed to glow in front of us. In a flash, we had plans, more than one, and like math problems solving in front of our eyes, connections were being made in our past as to how and why some of our failed employment experiences were neccessary to get us to this revelation and our specific business plans. In a clear series of God-instances, we had gained experiences, contacts, friendships and continued relationships in many ways that can, have and will continue to help our business plans grow. With renewed excitement and a better understanding of God’s will for our family, we began taking steps to make our dreams more than just dreams. We are turning our dreams into our legacy.

Your Dreams Can Define Your Legacy So Don’t Treat Them Carelessly

For us, small business is likely to play a large role in our legacy as people in this world. Our world is only as amazing as what we bring to it in God’s honor and will. He designed each and every one of us to do big things in His name if we are brave enough and trusting enough in His love to act. We can dream until we are blue in the face but we won’t do big things in His name until we take a step, and then keep taking steps. We can stay in our comfort zones forever but I believe if we do, we will only create subpar versions of our legacy. God does BIG things when we step outside of our comfort zone. Like my favorite bible verse confirms, God does have plans for you and those plans are not to torture you and punish you spitefully for your missteps, but rather to benefit you, for your good and well being, He has plans filled with hope and a future, be it here on earth or eternally in Heaven. We are only as good as what we bring to the world, what we say, write, or imply means nothing if we aren’t acting in positive forward motions and actually achieving things in His glory. We are what we DO, not who we SAY we are. Actions speak louder than words and this is one of those reasons. God makes things happen when we step out in faith, He wants us to step out in faith so we can fulfill the legacy He has written for us. Stop letting the unproductive thoughts and malicious intent of Satan rue over your dreams.

God’s plans are good for you brothers and sisters in Christ, you just have to take that first step of faith in His will and direction for your life. I encourage you to tap into the dreamer in you and dig into your heart for those unfulfilled dreams buried in there just collecting dust. This is a great place to start figuring out what direction to begin heading in. The next thing I am going to encourage you to do is to pray and then pick up your bible, even if you haven’t prayed in years and have to dust off that bible too, don’t be ashamed just begin again. He wants you talking to Him and in His word, it’s His most efficient ways of communicating His will and direction back to you. He has laid out the groundwork, a manual of sorts, we just have to remember not to be too proud to prayerfully consult the manual regularly. Like in this verse from Jeremiah that I referenced before, not only does God promise you all the things in verse 11 but if you read on to verses 12-14 you get instructions on how to aide in those plans playing out according to His will.

12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Jeremiah 29:12-14 New International Version (NIV)

God’s Promises Are Worth The Work

Wow! That’s incredible, not only does He tell us to come to Him and pray to Him, He ensures us He will listen. If We seek Him we WILL find Him when we seek from within our whole hearts, AND as if that’s not enough comfort, He goes on to encourage us that He will bring us back from captivity, picking up all the broken pieces, from all the places we strayed, and He will bring us back to Him. We just need to seek Him and be ready to let Him work. Work in our lives. Work in our hearts. Work in our legacies, and of course, work in our dreams. He doesn’t ever promise it will be easy, He almost guarantees it will not be easy and that is still okay because He has our back and He knows His plans for us, all we have to do is wisely seek His counsel and get ready to start taking steps outside of our comfort zone on the regular.  I for one believe it’s worth it, anything worth having is worth working hard for and God’s promises are no exception!

Now Go Chase Your Dreams, God’s Been Working Hard To Catch Them For You…

…After All, He Is The One Who Planted Them In The First Place

Thanks for reading along this mini-series and learning more about me, my past, who it’s made me and who I keep striving to be as a part of my lifestyle, goals, mission and personal convictions. I hope you enjoyed getting to know where my Dazzling, my Domestic, and where my Dreamer all come from and how together they create the trinity of me (not to be confused with the actual trinity, as in the Father, Son & Holy Spirit). I have enjoyed documenting this portion of my journey for you and to have it become a part of my written legacy that I will leave behind someday. I encourage you to find your dreams, your passions, and your hearts desires now and begin acting on them while you still have breath in your lungs to do so. Don’t waste your days keeping up with the Jones trapped only within the mundane hampster wheel of everyday life. Use your life to it’s fullest, look outside yourself for needs that your passions can fill, directions that your dreams can take you to help, and if every day can’t be exciting because mundane is a must sometimes, then look for ways to bring adventure into the mundane, look for ways to dazzle where you are, and appreciate the mundane tasks for the blessings and comforts they represent. What we give to this world, the people around us and the legacy we create are the only things we will leave behind for our families and communities. Let’s try hard to not let our legacies be wasted in our comfort zones because our families and our communities deserve the best of what God can do through us, and He does His best work when we step out of His way and out of our comfort zones!

Have A Dazzling Week!

~Rebecca

 

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Who is The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer? Part Two

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Hello, I am Rebecca Jackson, self-proclaimed as, The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer. If you read “Who is The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer? Part One” then you already know that I gave myself this title when I decided to relaunch this blog after a brief hiatus from blogging shortly after I first began this experiment as a virtual diary of sorts and to attempt to increase the frequency of my writing as a hobby overall. I am in the middle of my 35th year on this planet (as of the writing of this post) and I am the mother of four very busy young ladies, ranging from 16 down to 3. This is “Post Two” of a three-part blog series that I will be posting across the next few weeks, to introduce myself and my Dazzling Domestic Dreamer lifestyle and mentality. In “Part One” I explained how my journey started and where the Domestic came from in “The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer” and today we will tackle the Dazzling part of me and my title. We will start at the beginning of my title but smack dab in the middle of my story, or God’s story as I will properly credit. So let’s jump in where we left off, at the end of Part One of “Who is The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer?”

First, let’s start with the definition of dazzling. I pulled this definition, like the domestic definition, from Google and Webster’s Dictionary definitions and compiled the two together to cover the basics of what I think of when my mind goes to the word Dazzling…

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I explained in “Part One” how I jumped into “adulting” head first almost immediately after I graduated from high school, and bypassed my personal dreams to begin a domestic life with the man that is now my husband. I became a stay at home mom after working fulltime for eight years just before my third daughter was born. My favorite part about having a full-time job out of the house was having the excuse to get dressed up for work, doing my hair and makeup on the regular and leaving the house to accomplish a series of tasks that my children didn’t undo immediately after I completed them. I loved being a stay at home mom, but I missed that.

Maybe she’s born with it…

From a very early age, I was always a little bit extra. The details don’t get overlooked by me and my outfits were always coordinated down to the accessories. Everything I did before being outnumbered by little girls was thought through down to the nitty-gritty details, from picking an outfit, to planning a dinner and every other reason to celebrate in between. I also love color, glitter, sparkles and all around anything that dazzles. To me, losing my dazzle was like losing the spark in my spirit and my reason to shine proudly. The old me felt incapable of keeping up with the details and the day to day as I settled into the stay at home mom life, living in my little house full of my creative, energetic princesses, all things Disney and girl stuff upon girl stuff. I was surrounded by the dazzle I had instilled in my daughters, but being suffocated out of my own dazzle by theirs at the very same time.

Dazzling to Frazzled…

As I struggled with the reality that my dazzle had turned into frazzled I became desperate to figure out what was wrong with me and how to fix it. I started with the medical side of things first. I followed up with my lady doctor and began talking through some of my aforementioned PPD & PPA concerns for the first time and we discussed ways to prioritize myself back into my schedule. I also followed up with my primary care and discussed some medication options to begin regulating my anxiety and then I had blood work done to ensure everything else was doing fine. I will say, I was a little disappointed when my bloodwork came back all clear, I was kind of hoping any problem would be an answer that they could give me medicine to regulate. Back to the drawing board. I attempted to begin implementing some of the self -care routine ideas that I had discussed with my lady doctor and started working on finding my mental zen.

Step two for me finding my dazzle was to proactively work towards finding my mental zen and a balance for those overwhelming and often times anxiety-ridden negative thoughts. I took a big leap outside my introverted tendencies and began tapping into my church community and getting connected in some of the women’s and children’s ministries. I joined a woman’s book study group hosted weekly at our church and I began making a point of putting personal bible study and devotion reading into my day whenever I could sneak it in. To fill the void between reading times, which sometimes still wound up being days apart (I was getting better at it, but sometimes still found prioritizing my time difficult), I lined the walls and door frames of my home with scripture and positive messages. From framed verses and home decor items to wall decals, self-printed computer designed verses, and even scratch note papers and post-it notes, in the kitchen, living room, bedrooms, office space, not even my van was excluded. I filled my world with as much truth for my mind and heart to linger on as I could. We began playing praise & worship music while we cleaned, did chores and just enjoyed each other’s company as well.

Tapping Into Your Joy Spring…

After beginning some great practices to help me find and prioritize my mental zen, I began to find it easier for me to live in the moment again, focusing less on the things I couldn’t change about our circumstances and more on the reasons I had to be blessed. The many reasons to be blessed that I had accidentally stored in the closet of my mind behind all of the trials and tribulations we had been enduring for what seemed to be too many seasons in a row. Step three to finding my dazzle was to remember to tap into my Joy Spring more regularly. Part of this was also finding joy in choosing my wellbeing daily and I began to look for new healthier practices to implement in our lives and through healthier, more natural dietary options and an increase in physical activity  I began to shed some extra pounds that had stuck around after my third baby. Since she was a toddler by then, I felt it was time to finally get my figure and personal satisfaction back on point so that I could begin to improve on my self-confidence too, which became step four. With an increase in energy, thanks to a healthier lifestyle encouraging some reduced pounds, and an improved mental zen, I was starting to feel my dazzle coming back. My Joy spring was flowing again and I was able to tackle parenting like an adventure I could partake in instead of a battle I was desperate to survive.

I struggle with being in the moment as a result of my habit of focusing on the details, and always trying to anticipate the next thing. Being in control of my mental zen and physical fitness always helps me balance that, I do strongly believe having a handle on the details is a necessary part of managing a home and a family but you can’t get so caught up in those details that you forget to take care of yourself or forget to be in the moment with your loved ones. When I find myself getting too overwhelmed by the necessary details of life I try to tap into my joy spring by meditating in my blessings and putting my headspace back on track. This is a practice I am still trying to perfect, but I notice a positive impact in my days and weeks when I make time to get my blessings in the forefront of my thinking.

Just when we think we have out trials under control, 

Life is good at throwing curveballs, and my life is no exception. As I discussed in “Part One”, right as I was getting a handle on my frazzled dazzle, we took one last chance at another baby. After losing both of my husband’s last living grandparents, 5 days apart, a few years earlier, we lost the patriarch of my mother’s family, my last living grandfather. We began discussing family legacies and we felt God prompting us in this topic in many areas of our life, with little God Winks and God-instances.

God-instances

“I strongly believe there are no coincidences, only God-instances. God has a plan, a redemptive power, and a love for you ensuring His will for your life is NOT to harm. Good things don’t just happen because, bad things don’t just happen for no reason (as hard as this fact is to grasp), and coincidences don’t really exist. If it happened, in a brief  or highly unlikely matter, or if it seems like you can’t get away from something, you can bet God’s hand is in it my friends!”

~Rebecca Jackson

The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer

I, despite my hormonal and emotional rollercoaster through three pregnancies, had not let go of my hearts yearning for one last baby. My husband, the realist of our relationship, had his heart and home full of little ladies already and was perfectly content in our family. Through our season of legacy talks, we came to the decision that one more “try” would give God the chance to move his hand in our family’s legacy if He had more to do.  Enter baby girl #4, my dazzle started to deteriorate again under the pressure of increasing responsibilities and continued hormonal and emotional rollercoasters. We didn’t delay at trying to rectify the issues that were creeping up and trying to rear their ugly little heads. I leaned into my faith and began putting in practice many of my devotional, mental zen, physical fitness, well-being and self-confidence building practices.

Be Dazzling Deep Down and Shine…

Re-inventing my blogging attempt entered at this season of my life and I was hearing God in my heart telling me that I would benefit in more ways than I could begin to imagine if I trusted Him, stopped trying to do anything else and finally started to focus on my writing with real focus and intensity, the way I had focused my energy in to my family and domestic duties for over a decade now. Not to imply that I could just snap my fingers and be done with those responsibilities (I can’t afford a staff or anything), but He was telling me that I was allowed to put my own personal growth on one of the front burners of my life, because not only would I, but my family, would benefit from it. I wore most of the hats in our house up to this point because when I entered stay at home mom living, I felt compelled to manage all the things, like ALL THE THINGS. If it needed to be done in our house, I felt obligated to be the one to do it because I was the non-working adult in the house and if I wasn’t bringing in a paycheck then I would earn my worth otherways. Boy, was that misguided thinking huh? A trap I had let Satan trick me into. God had my back though and He was reminding me again, continually,  that I was allowed to just sit at His feet and not focus on all the tasks, all the time. I could not just ask, but expect some of the other capable people, my husband, and my older children, to help with some of the tasks that I had always just handled despite them being capable. I needed to share the load to leave time for me to shine.

In this lesson, He was teaching me that I tap into my absolute best mental health when I nurture my writing. For some it is being in the outdoors, like my husband, for some, it is dancing or running or making music. For me, it is writing, but that is something that is hard for a busy person who is overstressed to squeeze in, hence the vicious cycle that quickly develops when I let this hobby slip by the wayside. God was urging me to write, He was instilling a diligence to re-inventing my blog and with it all, He wanted to remind me to not just find my Dazzle again, but to own it as a piece of who I was. To not just be Dazzling again but to Shine in it and trust Him with the details. With my dazzling spark reigniting thanks to my Savior’s redemptive love, I knew that the dazzling me needed to shine through my blog.

Like I explained in “Part One”, moments after setting off on this task of branding brainstorming, to re-invent my blog, He planted the perfect 3 words in my head and the new name IMMEDIATELY felt right. Knowing that my “Domestic” life and housewife tendencies will always play a big role in who I am and who I have become through the experiences I have, the challenges I have faced and the creativity I enjoy and am always being asked to share as a woman, I decided to use my blog to celebrate me and my particular brand of mothering, wife-ing, and altogether personal dazzling from a modern day domestic woman’s POV. With a dose of “Dazzling” I set off on my mission, to share those experiences, challenges, and ideas with other women, other boss lady business owners, other moms, other modern-day domestic women and other creative young women with a dream and no direction like I once was. Thus,

The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer

was born…

I thrived in my renewed blogging adventure until tragedy struck, (read about that HERE )

…and just as we were ready to shake past that heartbreaking season we found ourselves in, tragedy struck again a month later. (read about that HERE ) We powered through and work through our grief challenges still daily as we have navigated a series of other deaths close to us since and I pushed forward to stay on my mission to grow my Dazzle, through the last year and a half I have remained focused on living and sharing my Dazzling Domestic Dreamer Mission.

Now that I found the dazzling side of me again and I am proactively keeping it in the forefront of what defines me, I am on a mission to share my journey with other women so they can find their dazzling selves. I strongly believe the key to keeping your dazzle is to keep growing yourself. Sitting in settled and stagnant is the beginning of losing your shine. We as women are only as good as we thrive to be and if we settle for stagnant we are not growing and learning. Spend more time meditating over your blessings, improving you, and chasing your dreams because God made you for a purpose and if you are just existing you aren’t going to achieve His purpose for you. God makes the biggest things happen for you when you trust in Him enough to step outside of your comfort zone. Those Mommas among us, you need to remember you will only be a Momma in the trenches of mothering young dependent children for so long, and they will thrive better in this journey with a mom who is thriving and shining instead of surviving. That’s what this blogging and writing journey is for me, a giant leap outside of my comfort zones. The groundwork for my purpose beyond mothering.

Never Stop Believing and Dreaming

With my blogging adventure well under way now a few years later, past some start-up hiccups, it has become fun for me to see how BIG God can work when you trust in His plans and set out to Shine outside of your comfort zone for Him.  I still have daily doubts and fears, but when I faithfully step out in obedience, for Him, it is exciting to see the rewards begin to roll in. Though I am not earning any financial rewards for my blogging work (yet), I don’t feel bad about it because He is showing me my worth in other ways and the climb to any kind of success is always gradual. He is faithful to give me little reminders and rewards along my journey to serve as silent confirmations that I am on track. As I build my brand and begin to explore my social media reach for the purposes of shining as brightly as God has planned, it is so fun to see feedback and interactions with my posts and my writing. New followers from places I could only hope to travel, including other entrepreneurs, other women, other boss lady business owners (including one of my FAVORITE Real Housewive’s Of Dallas!!!), other moms, other modern-day domestic women and other creative young women with a dream and maybe a little more direction that I once had. People stepping out in faith on their own Dazzling Journey, and the fact that they show interest and appreciation in my work and my journey is so humbling and acts as constant reminders to me that God has a plan for this journey and my family.

Thanks for reading, and remember to embrace the Dazzling YOU, it can help you discover you and keep your self-worth in focus, but don’t live it so loyally that you become a self-absorbed drain on your family, rather just enough to have the confidence  to Shine in your life to benefit yourself and those you love. I hope you stop back to read the final part of this blog series. “Part Three”  will finish this story and explain the Dreamer in me and my The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer title. For now, go forth and be Dazzling! Shine for your Savior!

~Rebecca

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Who is The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer? Part One

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Hello, I am Rebecca Jackson, self-proclaimed as, The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer. I gave myself this title when I decided to make another go at this blog and furthermore, my writing overall. I am in the middle of my 35th year on this planet (as of the writing of this post) and I am the mother of four very busy young ladies, ranging from 16 down to 3. This is “post one” of a three-part blog series that I will be posting across the next few weeks, to introduce myself and my Dazzling Domestic Dreamer lifestyle and mentality. Today we will start in the middle of the blog title but at the beginning of my story, or God’s story as I should properly credit. So let’s jump in where it all began for me and The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer!

First, let’s start with the definition. I pulled this definition for my image from Google and Webster’s Dictionary definitions and compiled the two together to cover the basics of what I think of when my mind goes to the word Domestic…

 

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I jumped into “adulting” head first almost immediately after I graduated from high school, and bypassed my personal dreams to begin a domestic life with the man that is now my husband, my most perfect little surprise gift from God after a brief hiccup in the path I had planned for myself, but I am getting ahead of myself.

Let’s start at my high school graduation,

I had survived high school in my little suburban city here in Northeast Ohio and had begun to figure out who I was as a person but deciding what to do and where to go with those personal discoveries all seemed like too much. Instead of soaring big and heading off to college like I had always imagined, suddenly I was on the edge of that branch, needing to take the leap of faith to jump so I could soar with my little birdie wings, but I decided to hunker down in the “nest” of a community that I had come to know and love instead. I made some “grown-up” choices for myself from the comfort of living at home with my still married parents while my peers headed off to college and I started dipping my toe in the “adult pond” that is life as a grown-up.

My first series of decisions led to some unplanned trials and a very sudden relationship. We got a little apartment and settled into a pretty basic domestic life together and surprisingly to myself, I liked it and I was good at it. Making dinner, decorating, cleaning and maintaining our 2 bedroom townhouse became my new purpose and I had plenty of time to read. Soon after we moved in together we found out we were expecting my first daughter, unplanned but very welcome. We were excited, together, before flashes of potentially violent aggression became present in him and sent me packing, back to my parents home, humbled and feeling like I had failed as an adult before I had barely begun. I got a full-time job and soon after, wound up unexpectedly meeting my (now) husband through that very same full-time sales job. Isn’t it funny how God makes sure to put you back on track when you stray and He finds the most perfect redemption for our missteps? Anyways. I dipped my toe very hesitantly in the dating pond with this guy from work that caught my eye almost immediately after I was hired, and we dated exclusively through the remainder of my pregnancy.

Honestly, I fell in love with him in the first 3 dates but I kept myself guarded and not really confident that what I was feeling was love. Unsure if the ready-made family would scare him off when the baby came and it all got real I kept in under the radar, or so I tried. Just a few short months after feeling like my personal life was finally beginning to make a little more sense, my family life was suddenly crumbling. A few months after we started dating, my parents very suddenly announced a plan to divorce after 27 years of marriage, just months before I was expecting my daughter, already in a tumultuous situation with my ex and learning that my older brother was moving out of state, I was grasping in every direction for consistency and my guy filled that need seamlessly during this trying season. I was so thankful to God for sending this incredible guy and the few pieces of my life that did seem to make sense, I was more confident in my love but still hesitant.

Much to my surprise, he didn’t bolt when the baby arrived that May, instead he hunkered down and fell fast in love with my daughter and I and we became a family, not without our fair share of challenges though.  In those beginning years after my daughter was born, we found ourselves navigating life as a new ready-made family and the complications that can naturally arise when there is an ex in the picture in any capacity, we fought to make it last. We married just over 5 years into our relationship and I dazzled my way into a beautiful domestic life as a wife and mother of two. We purchased what we had planned to be our starter home all by my 25th birthday (a home we still live in over 10 years later) and shortly after doing so I had tapped back into a personal passion for writing, and in just 3 months typed out my first draft of my first fiction novel, to the tune of almost 300 pages. Just another 3 months later we learned that we were going to be adding our third daughter to our family, all of this before I was 30. Life was back on track and I was feeling unstoppable…

Life was great, then slam on the breaks!

(cue the screeching tires and breaking glass sound effects)

…before I knew what was happening, I had completely spiraled out of unstoppable and into frazzled, I had lost my dazzle. Life’s demands, ever-changing hormones through 3 pregnancies, 3 postpartum seasons (complete with some undiagnosed PPD & PPA), nursing challenges totaling a combined 32 months, some unexpected job changes for my husband and the beginning of my season as a stay at home mom, (which truth be told I thought would be ah-may-zing turned out to be the most challenging season of my life yet, but oh so rewarding…..I digress back to the story). I was feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and completely lost in my own body. I didn’t know who I was anymore, what I wanted, what I even enjoyed at all. I had been a mom, not stop, putting those little kiddo’s and my husband first for 8 straight years and I felt like I needed to be introduced to myself again. Who is this hot mess of an excuse for a put together housewife that I had become? Oh, and where were her friends?

I began slowly recognizing that I needed to prioritize myself, and my hobbies again. I decided to start a blog for myself, to have a virtual diary of sorts. I started to connect at church with women’s and children’s ministry opportunities in a social way and not just a service way. I let myself care about my own appearance again, dressing to make myself happy and taking time to care about my own health and well being. Life as a mother of 3 got busy again and one by one these revelations I had come to all started to fall by the wayside again, starting with my blog. As my oldest neared high school the reality that I was running out of time with her set in and I began to schedule myself crazy again trying to get all the extra’s in and encourage her personal growth in all the right ways, or so I had hoped to. I had inadvertently begun to frazzle out again a little bit.

Right as I was nearing the assumed end of my season as a stay at home mom, with my third daughter approaching kindergarten age, we fell into “baby-fever” and decided on one last attempt at giving God a chance to give us a boy, one attempt was all it took for me to be expecting again, and nine months later we welcomed our 4th daughter. Yes, we tried again and didn’t get the boy, we were not trying FOR A BOY, we were trying one more time FOR A BABY, and if God gave us a boy baby that time then we would have been tickled “Blue” but instead, I turned my daughter triangle into a daughter square and we filled the last crevices of our “starter home” with even more little girl necessities. She is the absolute light of my life and is so much my mini-me and my biggest fan all rolled into one. My older daughters welcomed her home with complete adoration and haven’t stopped talking about how she is the cutest yet, and how they must start a 4 sisters music group when she is old enough! We really weren’t complete as a family without her…………but her addition did inevitably wind me back in a tailspin towards Hot Mess Mom and that PPD & PPA began rearing it’s ugly head again…

When We Feel Weak He Will Carry US…

I immediately recognized the tailspin and my husband and I discussed the need for me to get ahead of the situation by prioritizing me better through this new baby season and proactively taking steps to ensure I do that……

Re-enter my blogging adventure…

…. I logged back in for the first time in over a year knowing that finding my way back to writing had been a key step at the beginning of prioritizing me after my season of frazzle had first begun years earlier and so it would be a key piece of reigniting that previously tapped spark that had started to bring my dazzle back. I began to think big and dream about my potential as I hadn’t ever let myself do before and I began to redesign the blog, the image, and my brand, for a new launch and future fiction writing projects. My previous blog title paid tribute to my 3 sweet daughters, and since I now had 4 daughters, a new name was necessary. I began to brainstorm, this meant really thinking about me and what I was realistically intending on using this blog to share about and what I hoped for this brand to translate to my readers.

Like only God could, moments after setting off on this task of branding brainstorming, He planted the perfect 3 words in my head and the new name IMMEDIATELY felt right. Knowing that my “Domestic” life and housewife tendencies will always play a big role in who I am and who I have become through the experiences I have, the challenges I have faced and the creativity I enjoy and am always being asked to share as a woman, I decided to use my blog to celebrate me and my particular brand of mothering, wife-ing, and altogether personal dazzling from a modern day domestic woman’s POV. My mission, to share those experiences, challenges, and ideas with other women, other boss lady business owners, other moms, other modern-day domestic women and other creative young women with a dream and no direction, like I once was. Thus,

The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer

was born…

I thrived in my renewed blogging adventure until tragedy struck, (read about that HERE )

…and just as we were ready to shake past that heartbreaking season we found ourselves in, tragedy struck again a month later. (read about that HERE ) We powered through and work through our grief challenges still daily as we have navigated a series of other deaths close to us since and I pushed forward to stay on my mission to regain my Dazzle, through the last year and a half I have remained focused on living and sharing my Dazzling Domestic Dreamer Mission.

Check back to see how I found the Dazzling, how fitting it is for me, and how I keep proactively working to keep the Dazzling in my journey!

Thanks for reading, and remember to embrace the Domestic side of your life, it can help you discover you and keep your priorities in focus, but don’t live it so literally you become an unappreciated servant to those in your life.

~Rebecca

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Christmas Cookie Exchange Tips

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I am gearing up to start my 1st of 2 full days of baking over this next week to satisfy almost 20 dozen cookies for two different cookie exchange parties, one that I have attended for the last 8 years and the other a new tradition to my family that I started last year. As I get myself ready to begin the first batch tomorrow afternoon I decided to share a few of my tips & best practices for cookie exchanges! Hopefully, it helps any newcomers to a cookie exchange or any of you on the fence about starting this fun tradition!

The goal behind a Christmas Cookie Exchange is for each of guest to bake one kind of cookie each and then everyone comes together to celebrate the season and still manage to leave the party & go home with a variety of cookies without the extra effort! Plus it makes a fun and yummy excuse to get together during the holidays and helps you have a variety to fill those last minute cookies trays to take to all your Christmas festivities! The exchange cookie for the other one I attend is my family’s spritz recipe passed down from my great grandma, an absolute Christmas staple in our home and a recipe I will not share but most families have a version of it and if all else fails scope out Pinterest or Google for a suitable alternative! I will bake my Pecan Fingers, staple #2 for this exchange next week! You will find that recipe at the end of this post for your enjoyment. I enjoy these with my morning coffee in the days after the holidays to stretch the season out a little longer.

Here are my top 5 tips for pulling off a successful baking session SPECIFICALLY for a Cookie Exchange

1- Decide on a cookie you are comfortable with and feel capable of achieving without adding too much stress & chaos, the point is to join a cookie exchange to save you stress without sacrificing variety with your cookie baking during an already busy time of year! I like to choose a cookie with a pretty good # yield per batch to eliminate a bunch of ingredient multiplying or tons of batches needing to be separately prepped & baked. Less room for error and an easier process for you!

2- Plan to have a window of time within 2-5 days of the party to do your baking to ensure you are swapping the freshest cookies possible because freshest is bestest! 😍🍪😍🍪😍 depending on the cookie you choose, you may be able (or need to) prep a dough and let it rest, this may help break up the task (if need be) and allow you to have some work done ahead of the actual baking day!

3- Be sure to mark your calendar to attend because the main reason I began hosting one annually was to have a fun & functional holiday excuse to get together for fun & laughs with my girlfriends & family! Attending is far more than half the fun I PROMISE! Games, food and a white elephant gift exchange that guarantees laughs!

4- Once you pick a cookie and decide on a safe and airtight way to separate your cookie by the dozen for exchange (ziplock bags, plastic container, tin, or gift box etc.) Then you are ready to bake & bag! Preheat the oven, Gather ingredients, Wash hands, Don the apron to save your outfit, Turn the Christmas music on & bake away! Again try to pick a low mess & low fuss cookie to prep, bake & decorate!

5- Once cooled prep for bagging & set aside in a safe place away from all kids & husbands until it’s party time! 🎊🎈🎊 When party time arrives kiss the fam goodbye, don’t feel guilty & come have so much fun you never want to miss a year!

 

Pecan Fingers

*Preheat oven to 350*

  • 1/2 # Margarine (softened)
  • 6 Tablespoon Confectioners Sugar
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Cups Finely Chopped Pecans

Cream together the softened margarine & sugar. Begin to add the flour gradually, once all flour is incorporated add the chopped nuts be sure to mix well. Once all ingredients are blended shape the dough into finger sized and shaped cookies and place on an un-greased cookie sheet and bake for 20 mins. Once the cookies are cooled entirely place them a few at a time in a shallow bowl of powdered sugar and coat each finger. Enjoy with coffee, tea or milk & store any remaining Pecan Fingers in an airtight container.

Pecan Fingers Printable Recipe Card

 

As a BONUS little added tradition, because I am all about traditions new and old  (especially this time of year!) last year just before Christmas and my 1st annual cookie exchange, I told my husband that I wanted to start a Christmas Cookie Jar collection so that I can have a variety to decorate my kitchen for the holidays and double purpose to store all my delicious Christmas cookies from this cookie exchange and other holiday traditions! Someday when my girls have homes I can pass one down to each for them to decorate the kitchen counter too!

Last year one of my gifts was a fun Santa Lumberjack Cookie Jar, this is one of my hopes for this year. But more than a new cookie jar this year, I want YOU to join in on this fun Cookie Exchange Tradition in your own bubble! Be sure to follow my blog page so you don’t miss any future recipe’s, tips, tricks or best practices to dazzling your way through the holiday season this year and for seasons to come!

 

HAPPY BAKING my DAZZLING friends! As always, thanks for reading and I hope it inspires you to start or join a Christmas Cookie Exchange so that you can be a part of a beautiful & fun tradition like this!

~Rebecca

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Our Christmas Kindness Elves

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December 1st, 2017

It is December 1st and at our house, this is a big day! It’s actually a big day for more than one reason but today’s blog topic is only about the MERRY one of those reasons. December 1st is the day my husband and I decided to make a go at a “committed relationship” after just one week of knowing each other and thus began our holiday season love story but that isn’t what this blog is about. Maybe I will write my own Hallmark Holiday Movie about our love story (that would be the MARRY reason lol) but today, I am here to introduce you to the MERRY reason, Joy & Caleb, our Christmas Kindness Elves! They arrive with a little mini Christmas Kindness Brunch on December 1st and this is our 2nd year with them visiting for the month of December.

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Here’s a bit of the backstory…

The Kindness Elves just began visiting our family last Christmas, after I had spent about 4 years debating the idea of beginning some sort of Elf on a Shelf alternative. {*DISCLAIMER* I say alternative because I am not a big fan of the Elf on a Shelf, I was never a big fan of Elf on a Shelf in fact. WHY?!? Keep on reading…} First, the well-known Elf on a Shelf fad didn’t begin to the over the Christmas season until after my first daughter was halfway through her Santa years so it would never have been something I could have pulled off introducing to her without having red flags go up in her mind about Santa altogether. Being a bright kid and being raised by a few skeptics, we had barely managed to keep her on board with the Santa thing, to begin with when she first began to question it. By the way, if your child hasn’t begun to question Santa, just wait for it, it will come (and if you are anything like me it will hurt when you hear it for the first time). For us, it came almost immediately after our oldest began kindergarten and her peers began to become “unbelievers” so………………. I wasn’t trying to throw any other red flags her way when it came to the big guy.

Aside from that fact though, I don’t really love the idea of having an “elf” trick my kids into behaving through the holidays by telling them that this elf goes back to Santa, I mean that’s the whole reason we play the Santa card, I don’t want to double bride them to behave by giving myself another “job” to do during the holidays because let’s face it, I do all the rest of the holiday prep most of the time anyway! Then add to it that half of the appeal (if not, in fact, the ENTIRE appeal to the kids) is that the Elf on a Shelf gets into mischief and makes messes while we sleep! REALLY, my kids do enough of that during the day, now I have to let an elf make messes at night too? I just counted my blessings and laughed at the Facebook feeds of all the funny, creative and sometimes somewhat inappropriate Elf on a Shelf posed pictures that filled my newsfeed while silently enjoying the fact that I had escaped it…

I thought I had escaped the elf thing all together until daughters #2 & #3 were both in school & preschool and then teachers started using them in the classrooms and soon my girls began to question why all their friends had an elf visit and we didn’t……..

…….this went on for a few years until in a moment of weakness I blurted out,

“We don’t have an elf because I told Santa not to send us an elf that is only going to make more messes and get into more mischief than you girls do already! My hands are full with four of you little mess makers, I don’t need anymore!”

….to which I received big shocked, doe eyes on both their faces and then I felt bad. Really bad. It was that moment I knew we needed to have some “Kindness Elves” in our life, to encourage US ALL to remember to be kind through the stressful holiday season.

Introducing the Kindness Elves

Though I would love to take credit for the idea, because I absolutely am infatuated with the idea, I can’t. I stumbled into this idea about 4 years ago and fell in love with the concept.  You can check out where my rendition of it originated from here, at The Kindness Elves Home Website. Now even though I had known about this idea and this website for a while I was only a fan of the idea in theory. For the first few years, I was familiar with the concept I had no intention of introducing my family to it as another tradition, my girls were about 11, 6 & 3 at the time and it just didn’t seem necessary.  However, things with kids have a way of changing and as I explained previously, my girls #2 & #3 became infatuated with the Elf on a Shelf and brought it up regularly for more than one Christmas season and then we added our little girl #4.

So last year in my moment of weakness when I had the revelation that we did all need a kindness reminder infused into our holiday I was in the hurry-up mode. Though the original idea has a ready-made set you can purchase, I opted to find “elves” without ordering the original ones so I could still manage to execute it last year because I was deciding to jump on this idea last year just a few days before December 1st and I just plain and simple didn’t have time. Target to the rescue! They had some very cute fabric doll ornaments last year in their early Christmas inventory and when I saw them, I knew they would be perfect, and thus the idea was set in motion. I took them home and straightened out some paperclips to feed into their plush bodies to allow me some flexibility in the limbs & making them bendable and then I set off on creating our new Holiday tradition…

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Here’s a Peak at How Last Year’s Visits Went…

Last year when they arrived they left a trail of red confetti and a super SWEET Christmas inspired brunch. They continued to appear with confetti the first week UNTIL the elves “got the hint” that it annoyed mom and then they started “to clean up after themselves” and the confetti stopped but the fun surprises and kind ideas they encouraged my kids to do didn’t stop. That kept on coming every morning until Christmas, and my girls loved it! They woke up and ran to find where our elves had moved to every morning and were eager to tackle the ideas and challenges the elves gave us every day amidst our existing chores, tasks, and obligations. Joy & Caleb provided some great ideas about how to infuse our Christmas season with some Christmas Kindness with ideas like baking cookies for a friend, writing kind words for a sibling or peer, giving small gifts, hugs or compliments to people, and evaluating their own blessings by looking for ways to give back some of their blessings to those in need.

What I love the most about this idea is that it encourages positive behavior by getting the kids excited about their own positive behavior so I feel less like I am bribing them to behave for gifts until Christmas AND it is shifting the focus back to the real meaning of the season. I will be highlighting some of my favorite tips and tricks to executing the Christmas Kindness Elves as our season continues but here is a glimpse at our favorites from last season!

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If this is an idea you are interested in there is still time to execute this year, pick any small childlike dolls or elf dolls and introduce them into your holiday whenever it makes sense to your family! Maybe they appear after school on Dec. 1st, maybe the arrive when Christmas Break begins, maybe they only count down the last “12 days of Christmas” or maybe you just plan and plot this season for some ideas and ways to implement it next year! If you decide to give it a try in your family I would love to see pictures of your elves or hear stories about your success in introducing them to your family!

 

P.S. No judgment on ANY Mommas out there who have chosen the Elf on a Shelf tradition, you are great moms going above and beyond for your kids Christmas memories and that makes you a ROCKSTAR!

P.S.S. No judgment on ANY Mommas who have chosen to not incorporate ANY Elf’s, Elves or other magical miniatures into their holiday season, to each their own and I salute your willingness to just tackle the Christmas shopping and wrapping!

As always, thanks for reading, have a Dazzling Holiday Season and a magical memory making Christmastime with your family!

~Rebecca

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Fourth of July Family Camping Trip

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Fourth of July Family Camping Trip!!!

This week’s To-Do List Tasks topic is…

…Camping Meal Planning!

That’s what I am doing this week as the top item on my To Do List because Saturday we head out on a family camping trip with my brother and his family! I will be preparing our family’s “Camping Meal Plan” for our Fourth of July Camping Trip today so I can begin my prep work for the food on Friday. Camping is about having fun, making memories and being one with nature for a bit, therefore planning ahead and being prepared can save you valuable time and stress while preparing your meals. This is a trip I definitely want to save myself some time during and allow myself more room for memories!!!

Here is some of my camping background:

As a kid camping was the only summer vacation I knew until middle school. We would visit different campgrounds around various parts of Ohio as a family unit of 4, myself, my brother and my mom & dad. By the time I was eleven my parents had purchased a piece of land in southern Ohio for my dad and brother to use for hunting property and within that first year, we had built a cabin on our land for us to use, allowing an alternative to tent camping. We had no running water, no gas heat and very minimal electricity available in our cabin but it got us off the ground inside of tents and into a large one-room barn with a loft making week-long stays more comfortable, less wet when rain interfered and easier to achieve a few times a summer. We had a grill on a small deck platform on the front and my parents did most of our cooking on that or with the use of our fire pit.

When I met my husband and learned that his family had also instilled a love and appreciation of the outdoors in him, I knew camping would become a common practice in my life again. We were only together for a year or so before we purchased our very first tent as a couple and began building our Camping Kit! Many of those first purchases are still in our Camping Kit, one thing that is no longer included, however, is a traditional camp stove…….

…..WHY? This may seem silly, a camp stove helps you eat right? Well in my experience one of these……..

…………… can help you eat when camping MUCH FASTER!

In our original Camping Kit as a couple we had purchased one of these ever so popular portable camp stoves and after our second camping trip the “convenient carrying case” was already broken and no more than a few uses later the handle to open the lid melted right off. I felt like I had wasted my money and the few times I had used it to cook it felt like I was preparing our meal with a stove version of an Easy Bake Oven. The food took forever to cook, it overcooked one side to a char but somehow the food was still cold, or worse I would fully prepare my hubby’s food and watch him eat it all before mine was even half done cooking! Frustrating to say the least, that was about 14 years ago and that was also the last time I prepared meals for a camping trip with the sole use of a portable camp stove. Now my meal planning takes a totally different approach. The bonfire is my primary source of food heating now and I plan to share some of my favorite Bon Fire Cooking Tips here, but first a look inside my Camp Kitchen!

Camp Kitchen

I plan to cover this in more detail in a future post about how I set my Camp Kitchen Up! Keep an eye out for it!

 

Here’s the deal with this specific 

Fourth of July Family Camping Trip!!!

My brother has two sons who live in Florida with their mother, while he resides here with his fiance & their combined 5 other children. It’s been years since my little family has seen them and they happen to be in town for a few weeks this summer! When their visit to Ohio with my brother was set on the calendar and it was scheduled to span over the Fourth of July, the idea of a family camping trip seemed natural.  My girls couldn’t be more excited to have some time to spend with their cousins and I am excited to have the opportunity to spark some memory making fun!

We will be heading out Saturday morning to a campground a few hours from home, a place that has been the site of memory making for our family for years! That cabin my parents bought when I was a child has since sadly been sold, but it is right around the corner from the particular campgrounds we will be staying at. As kids, my brother and I grew up visiting those campgrounds to access the beach and shower houses with my parents during our long stays at the cabin. After the cabin sold and about 4-5 years ago, my brother, my husband and I stayed a fourth of July weekend there with the combined 5 kiddos that we had amongst us. The oldest of my brother’s sons had a broken arm at the time, wrapped in a cast and unable to be doused with water at the beach and limiting his adventurous abilities.

We went knowing there was a beach, but when we were kids there was a cement platform in the lake for jumping off of and 2 aluminum playground slides in the water as well. When we arrived for that last trip as adults, we came to find a full floating inflatable playground in addition to our childhood options. We felt terrible and so we planned then to make sure to take another camping trip at a later date when the cast would be gone. Unfortunately, we didn’t anticipate it taking so many years to pull off that camping trip, BONUS now we get my sister-in-law to be and her brood of kiddos too! Together we will be camping…….

the 4 adults and………….

children in the gender/age line-up as follows:

B16, G15, B15, B13, B12, B10, G9, G7, G5, G2

We will be missing one of my nephews but sadly he is unavailable due to a conflicting schedule. He will be missed for sure but with the combined 10 kiddos that will span 16 – 2 years old it is sure to be a great opportunity to create memories!

Here’s the line up of meals I have planned to feed my share of this bunch and then some:

Our 4th of July Camping Menu

Saturday, July 1st
Lunch:
Deli Meat Sandwiches
(sub rolls filled with a variety of deli meats & cheeses with a selection of condiments for sandwich dressing)
*Served with cut fruit & potato chips.
Dinner:
Foil Pack Dinner
(Pre-cut chicken & beef cubes drizzled with oil & seasonings. Add veggies of choice of cherry tomatoes, potato chunks, mushrooms, onion & sweet peppers. Fun for each person to personally build to taste!)
*Served with condiments for dipping & rolls warmed over the fire with butter.
Sweet Treat:
Birthday Cupcakes!!!
(Cupcakes for Uncle Len’s Birthday!)
*Served with Sherbet!
Sunday, July 2nd
Breakfast:
Pancake & Bacon Sticks
(Precooked bacon warmed & covered with pancake batter allowing them to be dipped and eaten with fingers! Less waste!)
*Served with juice &/or milk boxes of choice & a piece of fruit
(apple, banana, a bunch of grapes)
Lunch:
Deli Meat Sandwiches
(sub rolls filled with a variety of deli meats & cheeses with a selection of condiments)
*Served with veggies, dip & potato chips.
Dinner:
Choice of Walking Taco’s or Frito Chili Pie’s
(Pre-cooked taco/chili meat to build your own)
*Served with mini bags of Dorito’s & Frito’s and a selection of taco toppings.
Sweet Treat:
Smore’s & Roasted Marshmallows!
Monday, July 3rd  
Breakfast:
Sausage Egg & Cheese Breakfast Burrito’s
(Precooked scrambled eggs & sausage stuffed with cheese & wrapped in foil to make burrito’s!)
*Served with juice &/or milk boxes of choice & a piece of fruit
(apple, banana, a bunch of grapes)
Lunch:
Hot Dogs & Cheeseburgers
(Topped with cheeses & a selection of condiments)
*Served with watermelon & potato chips.
Dinner:
Overstuffed Fire-Side Baked Potatoes
(Fire roasted baked potatoes to be topped)
*Served with bacon crumbles, chili, cheeses, sour cream, scallions & other toppings.
Sweet Treat:
Dessert Hobo Pies
(Bread filled with pie filling, chocolate & Nutella)
Tuesday, July 4th   
Breakfast:
Hashbrown Breakfast Muffins & Cereal
(Precooked scrambled & cheese filled hashbrown muffins with cereal side)
*Served with juice &/or milk boxes of choice & a piece of fruit
(apple, banana, a bunch of grapes)
Lunch:
Cheddar Bratwurst
(Fire roasted with a selection of condiments)
*Served with watermelon & pasta salad.
Dinner:
Barbeque Ribs @ Home
(Fire roasted baked potatoes to be topped)
*Served with baked beans, corn on the cob & leftover camping sides.
Sweet Treat:
Strawberry Shortcake @ Fireworks!
(Shortbread circles topped with strawberries & whipped cream)

Before I get to the actual Prep Ahead Process, Here’s a few BONUS tips!

*When planning my menu for a camping trip I try to choose meals that will repeat ingredients but in a slightly new way and I try to set meals in a certain order across our trip based on the reuse of ingredients as well as the ease of cooler storage.

*Investing in a large and tight sealing cooler will make the entire trip easier! If you are using a collection of smaller or middle range coolers I encourage also packing your coolers based on mealtime as well (ie. all your breakfast & lunch foods in one and dinner needs in another). I do always encourage keeping your beverages in a separate cooler no matter how many coolers you need to use to store your food. Drinks are the main reason people open coolers, if you keep them in one easy to identify cooler then your food and perishables won’t suffer the consequences of the cooler being opened every time someone is thirsty!

*I STRONGLY RECOMMEND you purchase a quality set of Plastic Food Storage Containers, it will pay off when your solid ice turns to arctic water. Having a watertight seal will benefit you greatly by allowing you to still use most of that arctic water without it seeping into your food storage containers, allowing you not to drain that water & waste extra money on a ton of new solid ice. My personal favorite are THESE by Rubbermaid.

2.5 Gal Easy Find Lids Container                                                                                                     EFL_44pc_Front5

Value Pack: 9 cup / 14 cup Easy Find Lids                                                                                            5.5 Cup Easy Find Lids Container Rectangle

Available in a wide variety of sizes you can purchase a variety that works best for you and your families go to dishes. Last, HERE’S a great resource for other camping hacks!

Now Let’s Get to the Prep Ahead Process!

*For this process I prep ahead not in order of when the actual meals will be served but rather in order of meal time (i.e. all breakfast prep before moving on to any of my lunch prep, dinner prep, etc.). This keeps things more sanitary first and foremost but it also allows me to keep my small kitchen less cluttered and more efficient, keeping only a small collection of my shopping list ingredients at hand on my counters. It also allows me to gauge the quantity of one ingredient that I use in one dish, in relation to the other meals that will also need the same ingredients.

I put together a PDF of my Grocery List for this menu (keep in mind the items on the list that specify quantity will feed a small army, so for the average family of 4-6 I would stick with half the quantities, but adjust as you see fit to the appetites you are feeding!). In addition, I typed up a PDF version of My Prep Ahead Process to walk you through my Prep Day. I plan to complete the bulk of my shopping Friday morning, with the exception of my produce because we have a local farmer’s market on Saturday mornings and I will get better produce for my money going there Saturday morning before we head out! The rest of the meals will each have some level of prep in order to obtain maximum ease at the time of execution & preparation over the campfire. I did my best to walk you through my process for prep and my fireside instructions, but of course, make whatever necessary changes you see fit to best suit your family!

Prep Ahead Process & Fireside Prep Steps

Pancake Bacon Dippers

Here I am finishing up the last of our pancake & bacon dippers at last years family 4th of July Camping trip in the mountains of Pennsylvania!

With the food made simple, there’s more time for memories!

I put the extra effort into prepping the day or so before the trip to allow us to eat well while not spending the entire time at the campsite preparing, cleaning up from, and waiting on meals. This leaves time for fun activities and excursions around the campgrounds! Here are a few of the campsite activities I have planned to keep the kids entertained while they are bound to the campsite, though I do anticipate more time at the beach and looking for adventure in those in-between moments and moments of downtime I like to have a trick or two up my sleeve to ward off meltdowns.

The First Activity is: Painted Rocks, I don’t know if your neighborhood or home has caught up with the rock painting phenomenon or not, but we have a whole Facebook Group devoted to it in our county. I will be taking a collection of acrylic paints & paintbrushes for the kids to paint rocks they are bound to collect around the campsite.

Painted rock / rock painting / rock art / painted stones / adventure / up / balloons     99 DIY Ideas Of Painted Rocks With Inspirational Picture And Words (56)

Next is this cute UP Adventure Booklet that I found over at http://www.family.disney.com, where I found a few other great UP inspired activities that seem cute as well. For this campout, we will just use the booklet though.

In addition, I searched Independence DayCamping Hiking while I was looking around http://www.family.disney.com and found these great coloring pages featuring Mickey & Minnie & their pals too.

I borrowed this idea for Outdoor Adventure Hunts from this brilliant mom, I printed mine on paper and taped/stapled them to lunch bag sized paper bags with handles so the kids can easily carry their hunt finds!!! Here is another previous solution I have used for this idea!

Scavenger Hunt Bags

This is a picture of some I made for a Labor Day Camping Trip we took our girls on the summer after #4 was born! I personalized the bags and also the Scavenger Hunt to the areas I knew we would be visiting and the activities I knew we would be doing!

 

To go with them on their “Adventure Hunt” we will assemble some Toilet Paper Roll Binoculars, like these from “Make Life Lovely”.

Well, there you go! After a marathon of a To-Do List Tuesday, our meals are planned, activities are prepped and the steps and processes, tricks & tips that come so naturally to me have now been turned into a detailed document to be duplicated by anyone interested to try them. I hope I have inspired you in some way, to try something new for your next family camping trip and I also hope that something I shared will help you take less time working and more time making memories while you camp! Don’t forget that a little planned time to prepare ahead can make all the difference in the memories you make! Now go forth and Dazzle in the woods or wherever you plan to travel with your crew this summer, just remember the point of trips and vacations with the ones you love is to make memories!!!

As always, thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

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Romantic 10 Year Anniversary Road Trip

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This week’s To Do List Task is to…

…pack my bags for a romantic 10 year wedding anniversary road trip with my main squeeze!

 

We married 10 years ago on June 15th, 2007 and we covered the bulk of our wedding expense ourselves. Because of this, we had plans to take a second Honeymoon when we reached the ten-year mark because after paying for the wedding we wanted with family & friends we couldn’t take the honeymoon we had originally hoped. Our plans originally included a vow renewal ceremony and a Caribbean vacation but our plans have very little to do with our real lives!

After the rough start to our year, and the realization that in the 10 years we have been married, we have only managed a handful of nights away together, but not more than one night at a time and really only a handful of times, my husband and I knew we had to still manage some sort of getaway to celebrate. Ten years is a big deal especially in today’s culture and generation of all time high divorce rate. And even if it wasn’t a big deal to the rest of the world, it’s a big deal for us. We have had our fair share of ups and downs in our 15 1/2 years together, the large majority of those in the 10 years since we have been married. Our lows at times coming so swiftly behind the last that we could barely keep our heads above it all, in those times it has been he that I have needed more than any other person in my life. I regularly tell him, in this crazy ride we call life, He is the only decision I’ve made that I am certain of day in and day out. He is my best friend, my partner in crime, the most amazing baby daddy, loving father to our 4 beautiful daughters and provider above all other than God for our family. Cliche it is but I love him so much more today than I did the day we got married.

A Getaway is needed…

          We need a break…

                    A chance to Refresh…

                            Time to Relax & be playful grown-ups again!

So off we are headed to satisfy this list! We head out in a little over a day thanks to my awesome mother who will be staying with our girls while we are gone, allowing their routine to stay as normal as possible because our absence is bound to be noticed! Our kiddos are already expressing their woes that we are leaving….

…This brings me to my 1st of 5 tips to a successful romantic road trip!

Tip #1 – ACTUALLY TAKE A ROMANTIC GETAWAY!

You are only going to continue being happily married and have a successful cohesive parent unit for your kiddo’s if you take time to just be the two of you again. This needs to be done regularly at a far more scaled down level by way of sneaking out for a date night or even setting up a date night in after the kids are in bed. However you do manage to do it, do it often, but occasionally you have to go big and give yourselves the chance to really get back in those places in your mind, memory, and heart that will remind and rekindle the feelings you had when everything about your relationship was easy. We all have things that fight for our attention on a daily basis but we must remember to make our spouse a priority amidst all the chaos. Despite the crying children who just don’t want you to go, you must set a plan in action. Find a trusted, responsible caregiver to help you out, friends, family, whoever is in “your village” that you trust with your kids while you two sneak away and then you must actually sneak away, have fun and rekindle…

Tip #2 – TAKE A LITTLE TIME BEFORE YOU LEAVE TO GET YOUR CHILDREN’S CARE & ENTERTAINMENT HANDLED…

This may sound like just another series of things to put on your to-do list but I assure you it WILL pay off while you are gone. (A) If it is possible to get someone to watch your kids in your normal residence that will greatly help keep your kids from wanting to call a hundred times a day to tell you how much they miss you. Being in their personal comfort zone with a caregiver they trust is the first key, in my opinion, to keeping the kids in a calm headspace while you and your Honey get away.

(B)You may want to consider either preparing ahead meals for your caregiver to just do basic prep, heating & serving for your kids while you are away but I urge you to at least do a good grocery shop before you leave to be sure to leave food and drinks that your kids will not fight  about with the substitute caregiver. If you chose a few recipes you know the kids will enjoy you could drastically improve the stress at mealtime for them by at least having the ingredients and snacks of choice on hand while you are gone.

(C)Also, I recommend you do find a way to take the time to prepare some fun new ideas or activities for the caregiver to do with your kids. No one knows your kids better than you, so taking a little time to prepare ahead for some of their entertainment can be the key to the boredom buster and in my experience when kids get bored and restless they tend to push their luck more. Whether you pick up an inexpensive new toy to help them be excited and distracted by or a new movie they have been wanting to see, some steps of preparation in advance will be greatly appreciated by your caregiver and your spouse alike! It could be a simple as a new book or coloring book, just something fresh & new to them will be a helpful distraction.

(D)It almost goes without saying but, be sure to be ahead of the dirty laundry also because there needs to be a good selection of clean clothes for your kids while you are gone too, and you want the best selections from your closet available for you to pack from also of course! With no kids to get ready while away, you can take little extra time to make yourself look & feel fancy again. A good night dressed up and out with my man can do wonders for my self-esteem!

Tip #3 – GIVE YOUR VEHICLE A GOOD DETAIL THE DAY BEFORE YOU LEAVE…

This tip may seem like a waste of time because you are heading off on a road trip and you are bound to get the new detail job messed up right? Well yeah, you may, but do it anyways! (A)Realistically detailing your vehicle is allowing your contained date space for the road trip to be clean, comfortable and clear of all kid paraphernalia. This is the first step to making sure that you have a good atmosphere for your romantic road trip in your driving date space and let’s be honest you are not messier than your kids, it will likely stay that way the majority of your travels, excluding any crappy weather situations.

(B)While detailing and de-kid-cluttering your vehicle make sure any safety seats for your kids are removed and properly installed in your caregiver’s vehicle so you know they are installed correctly & safely giving you peace of mind over their travels while you are off on your romantic escape.

(C)Also take the kids music, movies, etcetera out of the player and make room for you and your boo’s favorite music! No Wiggles, or Disney soundtracks, or Kids Bop cd’s need to be on hand for your romantic getaway. Instead, pre-load your wedding songs and any other music sentimental for you two into your vehicle by way of CDs or blue tooth connection with your phone. We actually have a CD from the DJ at our wedding with all of the key songs and an assortment of others music played during our reception and you can bet that will be going with us so we can musically stroll down memory lane!

Tip #4 – MAKE A LIST & BE DISCREET WITH YOUR PACKING UNTIL THE FINAL GOODBYE

I give this tip because my kids do not like when I or my husband, and especially both of us, are going to be gone. (A)If they watch me wander around packing at the last minute it just creates more unnecessary build up for the moment of the final goodbye. If I pack in stages across the week before leaving I can get the bulk of the work of packing finished completely under their radar before we even load up the vehicle.

(B.)I absolutely always have to write a list, and I start this list usually about 2 weeks out from the departure date. This lets me tweak my list some on paper based on any changes in the weather or itinerary that may come up and still allows me to have a clear picture of what needs to be packed to work off of when I start pulling things aside. Taking time to actually go through a detailed list of items from, Toiletries to make-up, and clothing selections with shoes and accessories can prevent you from taking too much. Instead of packing a bunch of “in case” and “maybe” items you can focus clearly on the trip at hand, the itinerary & whether you will be anticipating and your actual preferences for outfits.

(C)Remember, the idea of a romantic getaway is to rekindle and reenergize the bond between you two. This means it’s not only ok to put a little extra effort into you “look” while vacationing together, it’s totally encouraged! Don’t try too hard, and be natural for you, but don’t be afraid to try to impress him again like you would have while you were still dating and getting to know each other. Just because you now have spent all these extra years of wedded bliss together doesn’t mean you have to give up trying on behalf of the other! Put the spark back into your confidence and your relationship by allowing yourself the ability to get dolled up for you while you can with no little hands grabbing or little bottoms trying to sit in your lap, and prepare for it.

Tip #5 – ONCE YOU HEAD OUT ON THE ROAD, TRY YOUR VERY BEST TO KEEP ELECTRONIC DISTRACTIONS AND DIFFICULT TOPICS AT BAY!

This tip should go without saying in my opinion but in this super über technological age we are living in, keeping electronic distractions at a minimum can seem almost impossible. (A)If you are partaking in the distractions together, simultaneously and focusing on the same exact distraction then I consider it occasionally ok, but the point of this trip is to get a mini-retreat for just you two, so shutting down excess distractions is first and foremost a step you should take. no mindlessly scrolling in the passenger seat of across the table from each other during your meals. No being pulled away for one work trip, or a friend who really needs you, over and over again. With the exception of checking in on your kids via phone, facetime, skype, etc. I don’t really encourage outside phone calls. Be serious and intentional about spending this time together creating memories and talking about your future together. The only time you should be reaching for your cell phone is when you are getting ready to snap a picture of a moment you want to capture, then if you feel led, QUICKLY share it with the world and move on to the next part of your adventure!

(B)This brings me to the last part of this tip, don’t discuss difficult topics if it can at all be avoided. There is a time and place for these to be discussed but likely on a romantic getaway is not the best time to get into the nitty-gritty of life, focus your discussion in a positive, uplifting place as a couple as much as humanly possible. Now if there is a rift, to begin with, and this getaway is an attempt to correct & repair that rift, then I understand the need to take advantage of the quiet uninterrupted time with no kids to discuss, but remember to talk. Calming, not defensively, not overly offensively, not heated, not loudly and not too much. Be respectful of each other and look for activities and outings that can draw on the nostalgic beginnings to tap into that good old-fashioned puppy love again.

(C)Be mindful not to forget the ROMANTIC part. Now I am a bit of a verbal prude in the romance department so for this part of the tip I encourage you to tap into what works for you two and allow yourself to be vulnerable & excited about spending this time together. Naturally, those sparks will ignite again in ways you may likely have forgotten if you are intentional with each other and in tune with the butterflies of renewed quality time.

Sneak in some new adventures and outside of your typical “box” of ideas!

I am super excited about our chance to sneak away and I look forward to getting to experience some fun first’s together again, explore new areas and enjoy a place of nostalgia for us with no kids in tow this time. I love my girls and I really would do just about anything for them, but I only got them by loving my man well and being open to God’s newest adventure’s for my life, because He knows well that my plans for myself didn’t include any of what I now have. In an effort to continue letting His Will be mine, I know that require’s some nurturing of my marital relationship in a very intentional way. My kids will only be under my roof for a season and though I want to soak in every last second of them being young, I also long to nourish my connection with the man I’ve chosen to spend my life with because when my girls are all grown and off on their own life adventure’s I still want this man to like and love me, and I still want to like and love him back! But maybe even more important to me is taking the time I have with him to create lasting loving memories of just us as well as our family because truth be told, I don’t know how many years God plans for our life here on earth to continue together and I want to be certain there is an overflowing well of memories should God’s Will include one of us needing to draw on them alone one day.

So now I must head back to my list of things to do for our trip and I will leave you with this last thought, before there was a little family tree, there was just the two of you, take the time to nurture just that part of your family tree intentionally, your children need that of you, to allow generations of love to continue to grow from the roots you two have planted together! Now go forth and Dazzle your way through this beautiful summer week and start thinking about the little and potentially BIG ways you can begin to pour back into your marriage roots, maybe you start with a little night out or maybe it’s a Romantic Road Trip! The important thing is that you take a step!

As always, Thanks for reading!

~Rebecca

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The Dazzling Domestic Dreamer
Copyright © 2013-2018