Wonderful Online Christmas Gifts // Support Small Businesses

Too early to shop for Christmas? Shop online with some of my favorite stores and support small businesses. Check out the sites below to find some wonderful holiday gems for all of your loved ones.  Christmas and shopping can be a stressful time, but does it need to be?  The list below will help your holiday shopping experience much more enjoyable, and knowing you are supporting bigger causes while you are at it is even better!

Ellie and James- This little gem is perfect for sisters, Mothers, and friends. These pendant necklaces are wonderful to dress up an outfit or to wear in support of something you are passionate about.  The owner of the store does custom designs as well for those wanting something a little different.

Trendy Mommy Designs- If you or a loved one is having a baby or has a new baby, this place is for you!  Silicone teething necklaces that Moms wear and babies love!  These necklaces are stylish and are guaranteed to have your baby loving life again through all their teething stages.

She Is Clothing- These tanks and shirts are so awesome for anyone!  Taken from the Prov. 31:25 verse that "She is strong..." Check them out!

For those Nerdy people like myself- This store just has your run- of- the- mill hobbit slippers and pretend starbucks sippy cups.  Pretty random fun gag gifts and such...If you are in to that kind of a thing.

Home Decor Wall Prints (Absolutely beautiful)-This store helps to inspire and decorate your home, apartment or room with scriptures.

SHE READS TRUTH-This site is always having a wonderful biblical study going on with awesome study packs.  This would be a wonderful gift for a friend of family member for encouragement.

Lara Casey PowerSheets: Such a great gift!  The powersheets help you get organized, set goals and get inspired for the upcoming 2015 year.  These powersheets are super awesome and have incredible color and vibrancy to them.  Goal set for the next six months with these and see your goals get met!

A Missionary Couple (The Stivers ) Why not give back this holiday season.  I have friends who are serving and living in Tanzania Africa helping orphans. Supporting them and giving is such a awesome thing to do. Check out their site and the things they are doing for others.


A Little Longer // Resources for Reflection

Hello to those who follow yearnlovegrow and to those who are stopping by for a visit.  Welcome and I am glad you came here and hope you will stay a little while.  My name is Ashley and I love to blog about my life, faith, family and a host of other topics that interest me.  Sundays are for reflection, family, rest, church and regrouping.  Whether you go to church, watch church online, want to go or haven't been ever-this is for you.

I had the opportunity today to have some alone time.  Now I don't mean the semi-alone time that Moms occasionally get when the littles are napping.  I mean my daughter went to go hang out with some other family and I have been able to escape a little and recenter. I am so thankful for little moments like this because again I can really reflect and regroup.

When is the last time you had that moment?  When did you last get alone and reflect?

I think that is one of the hardest things to do-and often the scariest.  It isn't that we do not have time, it is that we do not make the time for those things that can be fearful and unknown.  I am of the belief though that when we get alone, talk to God and get real, He wants us to speak our heart, He wants to listen and stay a little longer.

Please listen to this video in its entirety and read the lyrics.

Right?  Soooooo good.  I'll wait you go ahead and grab a box of Kleenex.  Seriously amazing.

Okay, so what is all this about you may be asking.  Well this video was found on this really amazing woman's blog: Jess Connolly.  She started a group with some other women called: The Influence Network.  This group is so inspirational and has so many great resources for women who want to make a difference.  Who want to live beyond and impact others.  They help cultivate passions and energy and their awesome!

This group is amazing and really helps me stir those passions inside while finding balance in my own life.  I mean isn't that awesome and great news!?

When you are able to get alone next try the resources listed above for some direction.  Specifically though I recommend:

 The Influence Network Podcasts.  There are classes on motherhood, balance, pursuing your dreams, blogging basics, giving, bible journaling etc.

Jess Connolly's Blog: She talks about so many things are her blog, but mostly about being real and finding inspiration in the thick of it all.

For struggling Mama's I recommend Kristen's Blog for some encouragement and laughter

Another super cool real lady: Jenna from "A Mama Collective" Blog

These are just a few places that I visit for inspiration when I feel the facebook pull wanting to take over.  I want to get away from the glazed over blur of browsing and get some real truth and vision from people just like you who want to make a difference.


Cooking Through F A L L *Butternut Squash and Tomato Posole*

I thought it would be super fun to actually pick out some semi-challenging, tasty, fall inspired dishes this season. I really love cooking, but I tend stick to the things I know how to make and try my best not to venture into unchartered territory. (Don't want to scare off the husband)  He likes a dozen or so recipes and I try to rotate around those.

I just have loved seeing everyone's house decorated with pumpkins and all kinds of pumpkin everything.  I had recently seen on pinterest all the Fall produce that becomes available and decided that I wanted to kick it up a bit and try something new.  I decided on a dish that focused around butternut squash-and you know what? It turned out great!

You will have to forgive me though-my camera has recently fallen ill so the pictures below are not mine.

                                    Here is the recipe: Butternut Squash and Tomato Posole

Butternut Squash & Tomato Posole


  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably no-salt added
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cups chopped red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 3 cups diced (1/2-inch) peeled butternut squash (see Tip)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can white hominy, rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1 ripe but firm avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Super easy and fast-just a little simmering until the squash is soft, top with cilantro and avocado (always extra avocado :) and consume!  Seriously so delicious and different and warm and mmmmm so good.  Those of my peeps from California-just crank your air conditioning down in your house and pretend that its super cold outside to be enjoying soup.  We don't need to be reminded that its almost November and it was 90 degrees today.  Shhhhh. You and that soup don't need to be thinking about that!
I challenge you to pick some dish out of your comfort zone, something fall related and make it!  My next culinary feat from "Cooking Through F A L L" will be a Boozy Pumpkin Pie post by: Daisy from "Simplicity Relished"


Monday (Tuesday) Mama Montage Vol. 8

Now I realize that not everyone even has this choice to make-whether to stay home with your kid or not.  Some Mom's have to go back to work and that is just how it is.  Fortunately I was able to make that decision and that is a feeling of full gratitude.  For those of you who have followed my blog, I have talked about my birth story and the rough stages I went through transitioning into Motherhood.  

For me, the decision to stay home was not really not my decision. You see, prior to getting pregnant I did not have a career.  I would say that I was still transitioning into a career.  Staying home WAS the only option, because I was not bringing enough money home to go back.

Most women get the first six weeks off and then go back to work.  For me, the first six weeks were the hardest.  I wanted to go back to work everyday for those first six weeks or so.  I was miserable, tired, confused, hormonally challenged, and selfish.  My transition was rough, and I would say the first six weeks were the weeks that I wished I had a career to go back to.  Staying at home felt terrible to me and I couldn't understand why I ever wanted this. (too real?)

So, although I didn't have that career, I can tell you that I am glad.  I am glad because I was able to push through those first few weeks to really see how much I enjoyed it.  Now, this took time, trust me.  I am so not the girl to just enjoy staring at my daughter, washing dishes and clothes and that is that.  NO!  I needed a schedule, something that would allow productivity and time with my daughter.

I think staying at home is full of little transitions.  Transitions that Mom's go through because they are right there with their kid, trying to be intentional. My daughter is one and LIVES for the park!  That is her zone.  She is a new walker, explorer, dare devil extraordinaire and it is my job as her mom, care-taker, nanny to engage her and help her discover.  Going to the park, is part of my job, following her around and helping her discover is part of my job. Making sure she doesn't get to far out of my sight, is my job.  This job-oh ever so changing-is tough; but I love it.

This job, like many other jobs, is demanding. But this job is different in that it is a care taking job.  It is demanding on your emotions, your physical body and your own selfish pride.  This job is different because it is your own flesh and blood. You are around them 24/7.  What other job on earth has those hours? None!  

So why do it?  I have a system now.  In my short 13 months at being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) I have a pretty good system down that seems to work for my daughter and me.  

Here are some things that do that help me stay balanced as SAHM:

1. Play dates:  They are not just for your kids, they are for you.  Being able to see my daughter interact with other kids her age is so important and great.  I love that we have play dates and that she is able to learn from other kids.  I am able to spend time with other Moms and have adult conversations

2. Schedule your weekly Naps;  I made it a point to schedule out things that I needed/wanted to do during her naps that would be uninterrupted activities.  The need to feel productive is pretty innate for most of us and that is a good thing!  Although raising our kids is very valuable and productive so are other activities.

3. Side Money:  I really needed to feel like I was contributing to the family financially.  That is just me though. I realize what I am doing. people get paid for-and alot, but I needed something that I could be creative at and make some side cash.

4. Utilize family: Yes I stay at home, but no I do not just spend all my time with my daughter.  She needs other people interaction, just like I do.  Me being a good Mom is taking breaks from her.  We both need that and I make sure to schedule in time with awesome family to spend time with her.

5. No Helicopter:  Now that my daughter is a little older I allow her to go and explore.  I didn't always allow this and I am so glad I relaxed. I was way to stressed for my own good and I felt like I had to be where my daughter was at all times.  Allowing her to trip and fall a few times wasn't going to make me a bad mom, in fact it has made me better.  I think allowing our kids to explore, trip, get scratches is a good thing.  Knowing that I am there when she gets hurt is the most important, not that I save her from that happening.

Motherhood, is a beautiful and messy world.  Staying at home, or a working away from home--you are my hero.


Monday Mama Montage Vol. 7

         Hello and Happy Monday!  If this is your first time visiting, welcome.  Every Monday, well almost, I do a piece on motherhood and the happenings surrounding it.  This last weekend my little family met some other family members at our local pumpkin patch! This pumpkin patch has it all, and there were so many fun things to do!  Now that we have a walker on our hands, our trip to the patch was more like follower the leader.  That leader being Riley.  This new found talent of hers has us all over--but I love it! Who doesn't like a little extra exercise?  Plus if she is discovering and is happy than I am. Heck she makes most of my friends  these days with how friendly she is!  And now that she can just walk herself over to whoever she wants, you better believe I have had my fair share of converstions with complete strangers. I love it though.  Feast your eyes on these gems I snapped this last weekend...

My little love just roaming around the pumpkin patch all by herself.  This is still so strange to me.

My spunky zany child--probably the last time we will get her in this stroller!

Such a priceless face here!  Loved walking by herself.

I think this hand holding thing was pretty short lived...

Seriously though amazing.  My little babe is walking. My 13 month/1 year and I month old is walking. All by herself, and she loves it! I am thrilled to be able to watch her through this stage-learning and discovering. Gaining more stability and walking all over the house.  She has more independence.  More time away from Mom and Dad.  Sure each season brings its new challenges, but I am really loving this one. My little babe is growing and learning and has entered the toddle phase officially.  Praise the Lord.

What stages in motherhood have you loved?
Even if you are not a Mom, how have you learned from having independence? 


How to Have Better Relationships

        There are so many stages in life that I would have preferred a "How to" manual for.  A book that literally has every scenario possible that could happen in a relationship or situation  that would tell you  exactly how to respond.  BUT…that is not life, that book does not exist and often times we are left to our own devices to muddle through life's difficulties.  Alright. PAUSE. Yes it is true about that manual not existing with all those scenarios, but NO we are not left to our own devices.  That would be a sad, sad depressing world.  I don’t and will not live in a world like that.  There is good news though.  Good news for those who may be in a relational bind, those who do not ‘feel’ that connection anymore with a friend, or a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, those struggling in the battle of their minds.   Rest assured there is hope people, there is hope. There are tools that have helped me better my relationships where I have been able to see  growth, reconciliation, and true happiness occur.  

      For me, that tool has been the word-the bible-the good book.  No it does not give all the answers to all the world’s problems or relational issues, but it has helped millions of people and I definitely will attest to its powers and the God who it is about.  

      The bible is filled with many wonderful stories, historical facts and romance.  The bible is filled with ONE big story-the story of a man who loved.  A love so strong that he not only came to this earth as a baby, having all emotions and issues that humans have, but also divine Godly power, living a sinless life and then dying for the sins of the world.  If I am to live and breathe, survive and thrive in this world, I need someone to look to.  Someone who did life and thrived.  Someone who loved perfectly.  Because after all, isn't that what this life is really all about?  Love. This guy sounds pretty awesome to me.

Love is the essence of life.
  Either the presence of it or the absence. 
It always will boil down to love.

       I read and try to live by the bible-the word- because it is a tool. In fact, it is the best tool.  Building and growing in relationships is not an easy task, the book of Psalms clearly points out “He (God) heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” There are countless verses that infer that relationships are hard and people hurt people.

       Now. Let me pause for a second time.  I am not here to shove my beliefs or opinions as if they are absolute truth and all other ways are incorrect or that you are not entitled to your own.  I hope that is not how I am coming across.  I am merely sharing what I think is good news, and what has helped me in my relationships over the past 26 years.

      Times in my life where I have been going through an emotional storm, having relationship issues or just battling low self esteem/worth I have turned to the bible for hope.  God is alive and well and lives and breathes life into us through His word.  I have found peace in verses during times when life was completely chaotic.
      Often times, it is in the moments of weakness, when we are at the end of the rope that we turn to God.  We as humans tend to turn to something bigger than ourselves when something bigger and out of our control is happening.  These are moments when true character arises.  These are the character building moments.  The moments that friendships are tested, when who we are really shines through.  What are you anchored to?  What holds you firm and strong through the trials that come?  We never know when those moments will come, but I believe it is our job to stay prepared.  Much as an athlete always sticks to their training and diet regiment on and off season.  We must also train and prepare in the word-

"For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." 1 Tim 4:8

    This is who I want to be.  This is what I try to strive for.  Being Godly and trying to love others better.  Jesus was the perfect man who walked this earth, so logically to me, it makes sense to follow and study how he lived, acted and spoke. That is my tool to having better relationships. 

 Follow Jesus.


I Tend to NOT Finish Things // Help for the Modern Day Procrastinator

        Yes. Why Hello there--Friends, family, loved ones! I am just going to cut to the chase with this one because my heart is heavy and I am in need of getting my thoughts out!

       I am a slacker, a flake, a half-asser, a modern day procrastinator.   I am in recovery, but this is who I currently am.  I do not finish what I start...I quit, give up, sometimes don't even start things.

Anyone else struggle with this?

       I am just trying to be real, trying to understand what others are doing to stay motivated, to finish projects and goals and to really try to stick to mine.  I have come to some conclusions and have even begun to see some changes and things that really work for me.  So please join me on my jaunt to find how we can find motivation, stay motivated, fight procrastination and achieve our goals.

     Let's not delve too deep into the past and analyze the crap out of my deep rooted issues just yet--although that is always a good place to start.  I want to get to some practical ways of fighting the procrastinators ways, and things that I am currently doing.

Number 1:  Make an achievable list for just ONE day.
* Now I realize this first step may already take you deeper than you may have wanted to go, but get serious with yourself.  What can you really achieve in one day, and actually complete.  You have to semi-know yourself for this one.  This may take a few days of practice, and that is okay!  Trust me, I feel like I should have this down being a twenty-something and doing the whole college/R.A life thing but ya know things change and you have to adapt and sometimes relearn.

Number 2: Grace Baby.
* If number 1 is already a challenge and you are not fulfilling what is on your list--seek out some outside help,  Recruit others or shorten your list until you can get it done.

Number 3: Priorities
* Yes this order seems a bit weird, however I feel that making the lists and having trial and error allows you to see where your time is being spent and what things on your list you are likely to do first and what you put off last.  I.E: Calling a girlfriend up first, calling an insurance company last.

Number 4:  Drawing out goals by 3 month periods.
* This is the step I am currently on.  I have cardboard pieces stuck to my sliding glass door with goals written out causing those goals to stare me in the face!  I have a variety of not so fun goals, ie: "exercising" and fun goals like "blogger button swaps."  Keep it simple, fun and stay motivated--the sky is the limit. But having goals for a few months is really exciting I am learning!

      Again because I am in the stage of "monthly goal" making I have been really good about looking at them everyday and I have begun to cross them off!  Wow is that a good feeling!  It actually may be a sickness....Haha, But seriously, who out there does little check marks and strike-throughs?  That is pretty intense!  Oh I crack myself up--I think the person next to me at Starbucks is looking--oh well!

Okay...On to the last step!

Number 5: Go and do You:
* Translation: Go have yourself a freaking sabbath!  Take care of yourself, get balance, have someone watch your kid and go do something fun, relaxing, nice, hilarious---go to a bookstore and stare at people reading their books.  I don't know what does it for you, but go do it.  Life is funny like that though isn't it?  We try so hard with our lists and to-do's, we don't achieve them, or we do and we feel dissatisfied.  And all we really needed to do was slow down and listen to the soft sweet voice of Jesus.  Remember that guy? He was kind of the one who created this entire world and animals and us and then was like, "ya I'm going to rest this day." Dang he is smart!  We should probably follow Him.

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work." (Gen 2:2)

"And early in the morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there." ( Mark 1:35)

Okay so that is my mini brain baby for tonight. Now go listen to this amazing lady, and love it please.

For all you bilinguals out there we have Spanish subtitles

Oh and this one too...Pandora was gettin' it tonight!  Thank you!

How are your To-Do's going?
How do you find rest and relaxation?
Do you take a Sabbath?