Cookie Tutorials!

I always look at smooth glossy cookies and wonder how they do that, so I watched YouTube videos and invited my friend Carrie over to try it out with me. We had so much fun and so did my girls!

These were our first attempts. My expectations were low, because it was my first time to ever try, and I was ready to have fun regardless, but they turned out better than I thought they would!

*The bottom left was my first one and the icing was a bit too thick, so I had to thin it a bit more.

Then I tried some other designs and letters...

I had a little extra icing left over, so I played a little more with it last night...not really following any rules or tips but just being creative. 

I will definitely be doing this more in the future. They felt like little art canvases and I had a blast.

The icing was a bit tricky because it was all about learning how to get it to the right texture. If it's too runny it will run off the cookie and if it's too thick it won't be smooth. I think that getting the icing right and outlining the cookies were probably the trickiest parts, other than that, it was just fun. This is the video that inspired our first cookies:


And these are videos from the lady that I learned how to make the icing and parchment cones from. I watched several of her videos : )

Royal icing:


How To Make Parchment Paper Cones:
This is life changing for me because I HATE messing with bags and cleaning them. I loved learning how to make these and piping from them went really well.


I used this recipe exactly for the cookies. It says 36 cookies, but that is for about 2.5" cookie cutters, so if you're using bigger cookie cutters, double the recipe : )

Cookie Recipe:

I used this recipe for icing and we really liked it:
Royal icing:
  • 2 lbs powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 5 large egg white equivalents (I used meringue powder bc of immune issues and bc I heard it made the icing more stable)
  • Flavoring (I used 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 a capful of almond flavoring)
  • food coloring gel (for the cookies above, I just used pink- one with none, one with some pink, and one with double pink)
  • water (there isn't a specific measurement for this--just add small amounts until you get it to flooding consistency- see videos above for more info) 
**Heads up: this icing crusts over quickly, so if you have a bowl of icing, keep it covered at all times. I used press and seal and put it flush with the icing. You also have to work pretty quickly when decorating cookies. They will also look dry when they aren't, so leave them out and don't touch the icing until the next day (and tell your kiddos so they don't poke fingers in your cookies : )

Here are some pictures of my girls and their creations:

I hope these help you! Have fun creating and send me pictures!


101 Things Your Child Can Do To Entertain Themselves This Summer

Well, I admit that I have completely dropped the ball on our family blog. Life has been a little crazy. I hope to catch up sometime this summer, possibly, but I have been posting little posts to instagram in the meantime under AKEYLOR. : )

As summer begins, I wanted to make something to help out! It's a printable list of things that your children can do either completely by themselves or with minimal support from you. The independence will obviously depend on age, but if there is something that you don't want to be an option for your kids, feel free to black it out or use the cut out option and leave those out of the jar.

For the moms, dads, & any caregiver that hates hearing “I’m bored,” this list is for you! At my house, I don’t let my girls say that, because it is a reflection of a heart issue—usually a heart struggling to be grateful or content. We all struggle with that, but I think it’s always possible to think of something to do (and believe me, I’ve had seasons of having to sit for long whiles). Knowing how to entertain yourself is a big life skill. One of the best ways we can bless them is by showing them that their brains are capable of so much intelligence and creativity. I think another secret, is teaching them to get their eyes off of themselves – asking first how they can serve or bless others. Serving others changes your heart. I know that’s when I feel true joy and I see it in their faces as well. I didn’t list a lot of service projects, because I wanted them to think of things on their own and wanted this list to be comprised of things your kids (most of them) could do on their own or with just a little help.

How to use this list:
(There are a few options)

1 Save the list as a back up when they come & ask you for an idea,

2Cut up the ideas into strips and put them in an idea jar, or

3Print the list & let them keep it out somewhere so they can reference it when they need inspiration (after they’ve finished their chores).


I hope this list is a blessing to you! 
I'll leave you with some fun pictures of ideas from the list to inspire you. : )

Bullseye Sponge Toss
 credit: kiwicrate.com

An Easy No-Bake Recipe 
that kids can make on their own with just a little knowledge of measuring

Let the Kids Make an Indoor or Outdoor Obstacle Course 
credit: learnplayimagine.com

Balloon Ping-pong
credit: keepingitsimplecrafts.com

Nature Art
credit: icreativeideas.com

Let Them Make and Play With a Catapult
This is hours of fun! Have a distance competition, see if you can knock something off of the end of the table, etc...

Look Up a Fun Kid Workout For Them To Do
credit: youtube.com



easy PALEO MEALS on a Ramen Noodle Budget

Hey guys! 
I have had so many people ask me about meal ideas for eating Paleo and about how we do it on our budget. I usually have to reply to people with a dozen jumbled text messages and blurry pictures of recipes, but I finally sat down and put together a FREE DOCUMENT for you about how I eat paleo on a tight budget and how I make it work for our whole family. 
No one wants to cook separate meals for their family. It's just not sustainable long term. 
In this document I wrote out:
-meal ideas
-breakfast ideas
-dessert ideas
-and even some eating out ideas!
I truly hope this helps you all!
Eating this way has helped me feel so much better 
and if it helps you get healthier, I would be thrilled!
If you want to view the whole document, click here.

Here's an example of a few of the pages:

*As always, do your own research before starting a new way of eating. I read several articles and studies about paleo and autoimmune diseases before I began.


Ginormous Blessings!

I am still in shock.
Truly in shock.
We have some awesome car news to share with you guys!!!
I want to explain a little because I don't want you to just see us out in town and leave you wondering.  I don't want you to get the wrong idea.

Have you ever watched a movie in which the main characters have a major falling out because of a miscommunication or a lack of fully explaining what happened? This is one of my top three pet peeves...miscommunication (the other two being when people are really cocky or inconsiderate).

Due to this, I am usually an over-communicator. I am also an on-the-way-to-recovering people pleaser and while I'd like to think that people wouldn't assume the worst of me. I also know that we're all human and can all be judgy sometimes.

With that said, if you thought that with me not working we were pretty tight, budget wise, you'd be very correct. That might be an understatement. HOWEVER, the Lord continues to supply...and I continue to be totally blown away by it (picture me ugly crying).

Let me go back a ways...
When dasun and I got married...well, actually when I started teaching, the first thing we bought was a car for dasun because his was pit-i-ful. I won't repeat what the car salesman mouthed as we drove it up to trade it. Ha!! We bought a used Galant, but it was fancy to us. Then we replaced my car the next year with a used Honda Accord. I had always loved Honda Accords and we were shocked to find a used one, in good condition, that was in our budget. We got those paid off before we had kiddos because we knew I wanted to stay home if possible. So, since 2002, we haven't had a car payment and that has been a big blessing.

Flash forward to 2015...both of our cars are at least 15 years old. We've tried to Dave Ramsey our budget to make a little car fund because we knew "it" was coming, but we still only had a VERY little amount and we couldn't have a car payment, so we waited. 

Now, I know it's rude to give details, so I won't, but when Dasun's car needed to be replaced, the Lord provided Dasun an opportunity to buy a used truck for HALF of what it was worth, so we sold his car and were able to get the truck with no payments. We couldn't believe it! God has surprised us before, but it never ceases to amaze me how specifically He meets our needs. Sometimes it's a long wait for those provisions, like selling our house and finding this one or waiting on healing from pain/ sickness. His timing is always SO MUCH BETTER than mine though and He teaches us so much in the waiting...so much.  Though my stubborn heart still thinks I need to be in control, He's proven that He knows better than I do again and again.

And he just reminded us again...
So, my car is 15 years old and has seen better days. It has taken us everywhere our family needed to go all of that time, which means the mileage is...impressive. Ha!! It has been such a blessing, but lately we have been a little stressed because we used our car fund for Dasun's truck and we knew my car wasn't far behind. I have been known to talk to my car and plead with her to keep on truckin' as long as possible. Ha!! It almost gave out this summer on the day we closed on our house....talk about stress!!!!!! We literally cruised into the parking lot of he title company with smoke pouring out of the hood and me thinking my husband was going to go in the loony bin because of another unexpected expense. We prayed that it would last a while longer and thankfully it has! In the meantime, I've been praying about it and truly just let go of the anxiousness and began trusting that He would take care of it. I think letting go is the hardest part for this planning gal, but letting go signifies trust...faith in the One you claim to believe in. The same God that walked on water, raised the dead, and parted the Red Sea. It's exhausting living like an Israelite, always worrying complaining, and not trusting. I get so frustrated reading about their lack of trust, but I am more like them than I want to admit. So prideful, thinking I know what's best, questioning His ways, being anxious about the future when He's already told us and shown us that He's got this, etc... It's a constant struggle to lay that down and remind myself of who He is and what He's capable of.

Well, flash to this week...
The Lord has blown us away again! He provided a way for us to trade our car for a 2008 GMC. Trade--straight up!!!! Are you kidding me?! I am still in disbelief! Cue the ugly crying again. I don't even have the words to express how overwhelmed and thankful I am, but oh I am! It still hasn't registered that this is real. Kennedy got out of it today and said she felt like royalty and that it felt too fancy for us. : )  That's exactly how I feel and it is. It is too fancy for us. We are SO undeserving. He has already loved us more than we deserve by saving us. That's a miracle in and of itself, but he's a good Father and He wants to provide for His children and I guess the main reason I wrote this, is because I don't want you to see us in our new cars and think we had anything to do with it. I want to shout from my "mountain top" that we had nothing to do with it. They were huge blessings and we are so so grateful! We hope to use them to bless/help others.


KK's 9th bday!!

This little sweetheart turned 9 and is almost finished with 3rd grade! This means she is almost a big 4th grader! To a kindergarten teacher, that almost seems like college age. Ha!!
Oh, my heart!!! 

I love this time with my girls and would honestly freeze it if I could. They are precious! Their little senses of humor, grins, imaginations, hearts for others, personalities,... I am so crazy about them. 

KK & I at her school b-day celebration:

This year Kennedy requested an art party. For those of you that know me, you know that's right up my alley. We had a great idea coming up with ideas.
 paintbrush pretzels
 Fruit color wheel

 Artist's palette cookie cake
 & creative Juices
 We had a great time with friends playing and being creative
 Papa and Ann : )
 Her faces are priceless!

Happy Birthday sweet girl!!!
You are a true gift from the Lord!!!


Mamaw Diamond

My Mamaw Diamond turned 82 this year.
I am thankful that we got to spend this time with her and that she's still so spunky and able to get around. She is the only grandparent (great grandparent to my girls) that I have left. I'm thankful for the way she encouraged my parents to get back in church after they had Vanessa. According to my mom, while she was staying with them, she drove around and checked out area churches for them and told them that if they wanted to do right for Vanessa, they needed to get back in church. That led to my parents not only having some awesome lifelong friendships, but also a deep relationship with the Lord, which then led to us seeing their love for Jesus and wanting to learn about Him. What a blessing! : )


We have been weeding our flowerbeds and our sidewalks. We feel the pain in our arms, backs, and legs the next day. In the work, I feel the Lord teaching me. Even though I did my best to prevent any weeds from coming, they came while I wasn't looking. I pull out these little unassuming sprigs, knowing that if I don't, they will take over and choke life out of the flower bed. It reminds me of the weeds we allow in our own lives...anger, impatience, pride, bitterness, indifference, unforgiveness, and the list goes on. 

Some of the weeds are easy to pull out, if you'll just bend down and try, but others have grown long roots and take a lot more effort. Those too can come out though, sometimes by using our every muscle and sometimes by getting help. 

Make sure you're spending time with the Lord.  I know this can be difficult...mostly because the busyness of life makes it hard for us to sit quietly with Him at all. I don't think this is by chance though. If the enemy can keep us distracted, we don't notice the weeds at all. As you spend time with the Lord this week, ask Him to show you any weeds that may have snuck in during the winter.  The answer won't be one of condemnation. Answers like that aren't from the Lord. His answers, though convicting, are gentle and lead to repentance and growth. They don't make us wallow in our screw ups. Jesus specializes in screw ups. He didn't dine with the Pharisees who had memorized  the law and thought they had it all together, he met with prostitues, criminals, ...sinners just like us. He has a heart for the broken, the messed up, the humble. When He shows you the weeds in your life, lay them at His feet and ask for His help in removing them from your life. 
He is faithful. 


You've Been Framed! - Framing out our mirrors DIY style

Before we begin, let me show you the progress we made before framing the mirrors...

 unpainted cabinets, old fixtures, old backsplash, no cabinet hardware

  1. First, we had our mirrors cut down a bit because we didn't want them to be wall to wall. We took it to our local glass company, and it was only a few dollars per mirror to get that done.
  2. We then added construction adhesive to the back of the mirror, pressed it into place, and then used washers and screws to hold it in place while our glue dried (if you still have your original mirror clips, those will work too). Be careful not to tighten the screws too tightly or the mirror might crack...like ours did in our guest bathroom. : (  Thankfully it cracked near the side, so we just made a wider frame.

 3. Next, we measured our mirrors. I chose to go with longer planks across the top & bottom and shorter planks on the side because I wanted to aoid mitered corners if possible. They are hard to get perfect, which is not a big deal if you are going to be able to caulk it and paint it, but I wanted to stain ours instead (I used Minwax special walnut stain..the same stain I used for our coffee table a while back. It gives a nice older wood look and then sanded the edges a bit).
4. After I stained & sanded the planks we got, 
we used the same adhesive to attach the planks to the mirror.
5. Use painters tape to secure the boards in place while the adhesive dries 
(I forgot to take a picture of this- sorry)



with vinyl flooring, unpainted cabinets, different lighting & faucets,  and mirror unframed
 with backsplash and mirror removed
 Making progress
backsplash removed, patched, repainted walls, painted cabinets, cabinet hardware, & new fixtures

Progress with a slightly trimmed down mirror
(We did that soon after we moved in, but I just took this recently, that's why the picture looks junky because we are getting ready to frame the mirror right after I took this.)

We did our master bath mirror a bit differently.
We built the frame before attaching it to the mirror.
We attached the planks together on the back using a flat silver 
like this:

 Dasun found a scrap piece of wood that would help support our frame from the bottom while it dried (which you can see in the picture below) since it was heavier and it worked so well. We also used a washer and a long screw at the top to secure the top while it dried (see further below).

 (washer and screw to support the frame while drying, but is later removed)