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God Nods

We all have a purpose. We may discover our purpose early or late in our lives. We may find it through a job, a hobby, a life circumstance, tragedy, or through a relationship. Sometimes our true purpose is so great, so impactful, that should God show us His plan, we would become fearful and consumed with doubt fleeing from the very thing we are called upon.

I’ve had more “God nods” in the past two years than I can even count.

Instead He shows us little flickers to guide us on our path. He sends people into our lives when we need them. A song you need to hear pops on the radio at the right time. A chance encounter with a stranger that eerily shares your struggles. Even a reassuring phone call from a friend who speaks truth to you when you need to hear it most. I like to call these “God nods”.

I’ve had more “God nods” in the past two years than I can even count. Looking back it has been perfectly orchestrated by His hand. I feel the need to tell you about one particular encounter that happened a few months after receiving the news of Scarlett’s autism. The news was still raw and I was very much still grieving but doing my best to stay strong in front of others. On this particular day I was filled with nervous excitement. I was meeting at the home of my mentor, Jennifer Allwood, to shoot footage with Sebastian De Geer of GeereD Up Films, LLC,  for her upcoming course. I knew there were going to be other business women there but was I unaware of who would be there.

(Pictured L-R: Michelle, owner of Boodle-Lou, me, Jennifer AllwoodChastity, of Chastity Stemmons Enterprises, and  Anna, owner of Inspired by YOU Jewlry )

Sitting around the table with Jen, Vicki, Jennifer’s assistant, Michelle, owner of Boodle-Lou, Anna, owner of Inspired by YOU Jewlry , and Chastity, of Chastity Stemmons Enterprises was one of the most impactful “God nod” moments I’ve experienced to date. I didn’t know it then but it was a major turning point for me; spiritually, personally, and for my business.

We individually spoke about what was going on in our businesses and small talked while we were each pulled away to film our specific part. As the women went around telling their stories, the cards started to fall in place. Anna was a school principal whose goal was to take her leather earring business full time. Michelle’s job was teaching children with special needs while she ran her furniture and decor business on the side. (You see where I’m going here, right?)

Then there was Chastity. You see, Chastity is one of those women who walks into a room and people stop dead in their tracks. She has a presence about her that is unmistakable. And when she speaks, you can’t help but listen. I was not ready for Chastity. I say that with all the love. I was not ready. I was not ready for the truths that this amazing woman was about to speak over me. I was not ready for her to shake me up and turn me inside out with her words spoken out of love.

She spoke that my purpose was being handed to me but I wasn’t receiving it. Her words of truth were unable to penetrate through my armor of grief. I couldn’t hear that the very thing that I was grieving was in fact my purpose. That my purpose was to be a voice for those who would come behind me on this journey. As she spoke over me the flood gates opened. Have you ever full on ugly cried in front of five women who you not only look up to but also just met in person? Well, that’s what I did.

Some people are brought into our lives to shake us up.

My first reaction was complete denial. I fought hard. I remember calling a friend on the ride home in tears. Thinking “who is this woman and what right does she have to say these things to me? She doesn’t know me! I AM accepting opportunities as they come to me! I AM walking in my purpose!” However, her prophecy lingered with me and ate away at the grief. I couldn’t get her words out of my heart. There was no shaking this. It took me months to let her words truly sink in. To fully accept His gift she spoke to me. As my grief diminished, her words grew louder. His nods became more frequent. I was not ready at all to step into my calling. Looking back, I NEEDED His truth to spill out over me more in that moment than I’ve ever needed it before. He sent Chastity because I NEEDED shaking. I NEEDED to be turned inside out. I NEEDED to be awakened.

I tell you this because I could have missed this moment if I would have let my nervousness of the unknown give me an excuse not to go that day. I could have missed the opportunity to receive His gift had I refused to let it reach my heart.

LADIES! Do it scared. Do it nervous. Do it unsure. Pay attention to the gifts given to you. Then RECEIVE THEM! Pull them close and take them in. It is a gift for you for the taking. Some people are brought into our lives to shake us up. Take time to listen.

 

 

 

All Things Magnolia!

Let’s be completely honest with ourselves. The one and ONLY reason people are flocking to Waco, Texas is because of Chip and Joanna Gaines. We are no exception. We visited the Silo’s Baking Co., the Silos, and even Magnolia Table. (We’ll talk about Magnolia Table in a separate blog post.) We seriously loved every minute of it. Here are my highlights from each along with a few tips on what to expect.

We started our day at Silo’s Baking Co. Yes, it was 10:00 am and we were inline to grab cupcakes, don’t judge. If you go to visit, I suggest you do the same. The line was short and moved quickly. We were immediately greeted by a woman who offered us a menu and pencil so we could have our order ready when it was our turn to step inside. Can we say genius?! No standing there with our entire family blankly staring in overwhelm at the delicious options set out before us. With four kids this is a Godsend I tell ya!

The magic began when we crossed the threshold into the bakery. I’m not talking about the aroma of the cupcakes, which was divine, or the interior design which Joanna is know for, I’m talking about the teenage girl who greeted us at the door. Her name tag read Miracle. I will never forget meeting her, tears still well up in my eyes when I think back on her kindness. Once inside the bakery, Scarlett turned to her and I could immediately tell that she was one of her “people”. She could have simply welcomed us and moved on to the next guest but instead she knelt down onto Scarlett’s level and starting talking to her. While I explained to Miracle that Scarlett had Autism and was mainly non verbal, Scarlett’s attention was drawn to the woven friendship bracelet on her wrist. Without a second thought this sweet Miracle removed her bracelet and placed it on Scarlett’s little wrist gifting it to her. I was overwhelmed by her kind generosity. It took everything I had to keep the tears at bay the rest of the time we were In the bakery. Again, I was thankful for that little menu we were given outside as Josh was able to order for us all. I should mention that the cupcakes were the best cupcakes I’ve eaten in my life. However, the highlight of the bakery was the sweet teenage girl named Miracle.

With happy tears in our eyes and cupcakes in hand, we headed out to the courtyard at the Silos. Those Gaines’s know what they’re doing. The place was packed with guests but there was plenty of room for everyone. The heart of the area was the courtyard. It was beautiful and filled with families playing yard games. The perimeter was lined with the cutest little food trucks you’ve ever seen. There was everything from sweet iced tea sold in mason jars to gourmet grilled cheese.

The garden was stunning and like nothing I could ever replicate, which is probably not saying very much considering, but it was picture perfect nonetheless. I couldn’t help but notice the amount of staff sprinkled throughout the grounds, maintaining the garden, planters, and greeting guests.

I keep saying guests rather than customers because that’s how you feel when you’re there, like a guest. Something struck me while I was watching them work. They were all happy. Each employee whether they were pulling weeds, plucking out dead flowers, holding open a door, or having a conversation with a guest happily went out of their way to make you feel welcome. Not once did I witness an employee annoyed by a guest or a random piece of trash on the ground. Seriously, the Magnolia team is perfection in every.single.stinkin.way.

We can’t forget about Magnolia Market. Of course the store was filled to the brim with beautiful goods that we have come to know and love from Joanna. What I loved the most was the beautiful displays. Y’all, my creative heart was full! Although many items caught my eye, I had two that stood out to me and were my favorites.

The first was little wooden recipe cards. I mean come on, WOODEN recipe cards?! Well, HELLO! The second was her beautiful cake stands. I know what you’re thinking. Wait, aren’t you a cookie girl? There’s just something about a cake stand that makes my heart go pitter patter.

A few things to keep in mind when visiting Magnolia Market. Block off plenty of time to be there. There was a crowd when we were there and it took awhile for us to navigate through the crowd and to see everything. With that said, if you have a little that doesn’t like to hold hands or doesn’t handle crowds well, you may want to have Daddy take them out to the courtyard to play while you look around. Miss Scarlett couldn’t handle the crowd. She’s not a hand holder and if she would have slipped away it would have been scary.

Make sure you leave plenty of time to check out. They have registers in the front of the store and in the back warehouse area. The check out lines can get long and we saw some people abandoning their treasures because they couldn’t wait. That just made me sad. If they have all the registers open then the line goes pretty quick. With all the treasures you find you may go a little overboard, but don’t worry Jo though of that too! After check out you can have your purchased packaged and shipped as you watch. Yep, they’ve thought of everything.

The entire family loved visiting the Silo’s. Let me tell ya, that is no easy feat. I honestly can’t remember when that happened. HA! My only regret was that we didn’t plan to stay there longer.

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Baking Up A Difference

Last Thursday Kerryn, Christina and I had the honor of presenting our donation check to the middle school aged children and faculty at Autism Works. This was our first time at their facility and I promise you it will not be our last.

During our visit we had the privilege of meeting Executive Director Dessarey Klarlund and hear her story. It was both emotional and powerful. She founded Autism Works when she saw a need for her own son who has Autism. I love hearing of peoples “why”. Boy, has she made a difference! I was surprised to hear that Autism Works is the only organization in the Kansas City area that provides support and programs for the Autism Community.

 

#LIVE at Autism Works!

Posted by Sweet & Saucy Life on Thursday, May 10, 2018

To learn more about the services they offer you can find them on Facebook here or visit their website at www.autism-works.org 

All of this would not have been possible without you purchasing the ebook and your generous monetary donations. Thank you again for continuing to show love to me and our family and the causes close to our heart.

Love and sprinkles,
April

*Photo Credit: Christina Marie Z Photography

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide

*Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I will earn a commission on purchases made through these links.

 

  1. Enjoy the Journey necklace
  2. Cutters
  3. Cookie Countess Rolling Pin
  4. Retro Apron
  5. KitchenAid
  6. Scribe
  7.  My ebook
  8.  Mug
  9. Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis

 

Epic Views, Cooking Show sets, and adopted Grandparents at the Pioneer Woman Lodge Tour

VERY FEW things can motivate me to get up early on vacation. You know what will? The chance to tour Ladd and Ree Drummond’s lodge where she films The Pioneer Woman cooking show, that’s what! When my assistant, Kerryn, told me that the lodge would be open for tours the day while we were visiting it seemed like a dream come true. AND IT WAS!

We asked about the tours the night before while we were visiting the Mercantile and were told to return the next morning for a “ticket” for the tour. Well, this was the perfect excuse for me to run back in the Mercantile without kids, and let’s be honest here, or the hubster in tow. I had my eye on a few things and when we made our quick exit with Scarlett the night before I didn’t have time to pick them up. Well I made quick action of my golden opportunity and snagged me a silver bracelet that has “I love butter” stamped into it. Funny thing is my daughter, Madison, saw it and knew I would want it. She’s a smart girl isn’t she?! I also acquired a new addition to my black & white mug collection. You know I can’t resist a black & white mug!

At check out I was able to snag up the lodge tour “ticket”. Well, it’s really not a ticket per se. It’s actually a map to get to the lodge and a little information for when you arrive. I can see why they ask you to come into the Mercantile to pick one up. Y’all, without that map you would have no idea how to get there! It only took us about 20 minutes from the Mercantile to the Lodge but it was off the beaten path on a gravel road a lot of the way.

Once we arrived the first thing we noticed was the view. You could see for miles and miles! It was STUNNING. I can see why they built there and can only imagine how much they love to soak up that view. The lodge is built on the side of a steep hill. My anxiety was through the roof until we got in the lodge. Scarlett was SO curious and not at all afraid of the steep drop off just past the driveway and large deck that extended the length of the house.

Inside the lodge some things were exactly like you see on the show. There were also some surprises. (See the whole tour in the video below.) First off, the three bedroom suites were SO nice! The rooms were large and full of sunlight. Then there were the ensuite bathrooms. They were something you would see in a hotel. The other surprise was her full commercial kitchen at the back of the lodge. It was glorious! Huge commercial refrigerators, industrial dishwasher, huge island. Pretty much all the things that dreams are made of.  

 

The Pioneer Woman – Ree Drummond Lodge tour!

Posted by Sweet & Saucy Life on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

 

While checking out the industrial kitchen, Scarlett made fast friends with two older couples who probably could have been my grandparents. She ran straight up to the women and hugged their legs and shook their husbands hands. It’s so sweet to see her connect with people and we never know who those special people will be. I’m not sure who enjoyed the exchange more, Scarlett, or her newly adopted grandparents. Smiles and laughs were shared by all.

I’m so glad that timing worked out and we had the opportunity to see the lodge. I can’t wait to go back and catch the little details I missed.  

 

Next up in our blog series we will be all about our time in Waco, Texas! See you soon!

My Visit to the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile

Let me start off saying that I’m a diva when it comes to traveling by car. I completely admit this and don’t even hide it anymore. Add the fact that my husband is a truck driver who for years traveled six days a week literally coast to coast and back; yep the irony is not lost here. Anyone else a huge baby in the car? The sound of the wheels to the road and the movement of the car will lull me to sleep in no time flat. It’s a sad reality, or possibly a Godsend. I guess it depends on your perspective. My husband may lean towards the ladder. Well I’m proud to announce, or should I say to my husband’s dismay, I stayed awake for the majority of the way to Pawhuska, Oklahoma. If my husband tells you different, don’t believe him. This is my blog and I write from my perspective. 😉 It helped that I listened to the audiobook version of “Girl, Wash Your Face” by the one and only Ms. Rachel Hollis. Available Here. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know my obsession with Rachel and her glorious, dare I say badassery. (Add that to your April-isms.)


The whole fam bam arrived at our hotel minutes, y’all I mean like 2 minutes, before I had a scheduled coaching call. Yep! I totally took that Zoom call in the van while the kids and the hubster unloaded all the luggage and got things settled in the hotel room. Did I plan on cutting it this close? Nope, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do when your an entrepreneur. Can I get an Amen?! I must add that even though this wasn’t planned I will say the timing worked out great…for me. Well played mom, well played!

After my call we headed to the holy grail of Pawhuska. None other than the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile. Let me tell you, it was HEAVEN. I’m already planning a girls trip to go back. I loved it all. The architecture, the family photos on the walls, the large built-ins, the bright colors in the merchandise. It was heaven. I went live on Facebook while I was there to show you a tour because that’s what friends do right?

 

 

Live from The Pioneer Woman Mercantile

Posted by Sweet & Saucy Life on Monday, March 19, 2018

 


Scarlett’s favorite part was the large staircase. She scaled that thing multiple times top to bottom all while beaming with pride and the biggest smile on her little face.

At the top of the staircase the heavens opened up and I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing. There it was, her bakery, in all it’s glory! Ok, so I have a thing for bakeries. No surprise there. The rest of the upstairs consisted of an eclectic mix of rustic and colorful vintage furniture for gathering, encased by the most beautiful exposed brick exterior walls. Scarlett single handedly tested each and every seat on the second floor and all passed her approval with flying colors.

I bet you’re wondering what we ordered from the bakery? Well, cookies of course! While I was downstairs shooting my live video on Facebook the hubster ordered an assortment of snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, and chocolate M&M cookies. Y’all, they were SO GOOD!

My only regret was we didn’t eat at The Mercantile. I know, I know, but we had reasons. First of all, our oldest has a severe food allergy and to be completely honest, eating out is hard. Being out of town and nowhere near a hospital (that we knew of) is downright scary so we didn’t even attempt to try. The second reason was there was about a 30 minute wait to be seated and you had to wait outside in line. Y’all it was chilly! We were hangry! Not hungry, HANGRY. We had been in the car for hours and Miss Scarlett needed to move. This was not the place for that. So, we left and ate somewhere else. This was the worst decision of the trip. I won’t say where we ate, but there really aren’t many choices in Pawhuska so…

BUT WE DID GET COOKIES and they were GLORIOUS!
Next visit will be a girl’s weekend and we will eat all the things and I’ll tell you all about it!

Next up in our Blog series is our experience at the Pioneer Woman’s Lodge! See you soon!

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Find Your Tribe

As I sit here refining my goals for 2017 I can’t help but look back over last year. 2016 was a big year for me, not only in business, but even more so personally. It was a year of change. As some of you may know, I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety after having Miss Scarlett in 2014. The first year was unbelievably rough and I knew I had to make some changes.

One of those changes was to remove myself from people and situations that brought negativity into my life. In this day and age it isn’t so easy. I had enough negativity swirling around in my head, that I didn’t need anyone adding more mental weight to drag me down. Some of this purging was as easy as hitting “unfriend” or “unfollow” on Facebook. It was amazing how much better I felt by cutting out the social media drama. I also stopped watching the news. Have you ever noticed that there are very few positive stories? The media feeds off drama and this momma was so over it. This also meant distancing myself from certain people, some that were close to me. We all know who these people are in our life. They are the ones that leave you feeling drained or negative yourself. They siphon from your cup rather than fill it.

With the external weight lifted I found a renewed sense of motivation. As the saying goes, “As one door closes another opens”.  And boy did it ever! Early spring I decided to focus my energy into seeing what I could do with this little cookie thing. As things started picking up I quickly realized I needed some guidence and joined an online business coaching group ran by Jennifer Allwood, who just so happens to be a Kansas City girl too. It was like someone just put the paddles on me and shocked me back to life. I was instantly surrounded with 100+ creative women business owners. Women who think the same way as I do, who are trying to juggle the business and family balance just like me, that even though their businesses are thriving, have the same insecurities as I do! The best thing, they are so welcoming. It doesn’t matter if you are starting from square one in business or you’ve had a brick and mortar for 15 years. Everyone helps each other. Everyone WANTS to see the other succeed! There is no drama, no sabotage, no mean girls, and no negativity, just women helping other women along the path to success. The ladies in this group are AMAZING! Jennifer is AMAZING! I have learned SO much in such a small amount in time. The Inner Circle group is seriously the best investment I have made in my business.

Last week was the icing on the cake, or should I say sprinkle on the cookie? Jennifer asked me to make cookies for her and The Chic Site by Rachel Hollis’ Meet Up and Book Signing. My reaction, uh heck YES! (Followed by a few air punches and the worst Carlton you have ever seen.) If that wasn’t awesome enough, I also got to meet Jennifer, Rachel, my Kansas City (and one Illinois) Inner Circle friends face to face for the first time. It was such an amazing feeling to walk into a room of 70 women, many who have never met before, and feel like you are amongst lifelong best friends. When I walked out those doors to head home that night my Tribe was extended even further, my heart fuller, and my dreams bigger!

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Inner Circle Ladies: Niki McDowell , Melissa Rieke, Jennifer Allowed, Nicole Moore, Angie BauerAnna Bannister

 

Moral of my story, choose your Tribe wisely and love them beyond measure. Happiness is contagious! Surround yourself with uplifting and encouraging people. Don’t have a Tribe? You do now! Welcome to my Sweet Squad, friend! If you need a little encouragement don’t hesitate to shoot me a message.

*Interested in joining the Inner Circle Group you can find it here. Tell Jen I sent you.

Photo credit: Melissa Rieke Photography

 

 

 

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3 Ways to Tame the Squirrel Brain

This post does contain affiliate links  for many of the items so that you can easily find them online.

Call me a hotmess. My brain is constantly going a mile a minute. Most creative people have. That’s what makes us creative! Where do you think all of those ideas come from anyway? The challenge is snagging those ideas when they come. Like most moms I rarely have a moment to myself where I can gather my thoughts. My squirrel brain is easily distracted by the laundry, kids, dishes, husband, kids, social media, kids, never ending to do list, did I say kids? I’ve had to get creative to snag those fleeting ideas.  Here are 3 of my favorite tricks that work for me that can be adapted for any busy mom.

 

Use that little bit of time wisely!

For me that time is when I’m in the shower and getting ready. Let’s face it, I can only take a shower when little Miss Scarlett is sleeping so I have to use this time wisely. This little Bluetooth Shower Speaker was a game changer. I use this baby to listen to my business trainings but you could also listen to pod casts, ebooks, music, and even take a phone call.

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Take Notes

I take notes of everything! If it’s not written down I will forget it. I have a horrible memory. So I take notes. LOTS OF NOTES! You know how I said I listen to my business trainings in the shower? Yep, I take notes in the shower too. Yeah, that’s right! I’ve written grocery lists, ideas for blog posts, To Do lists, you name it, it’s been written on my shower wall with bathtub crayons. I also use dry erase markers on my bathroom mirror and on an old window in our kitchen.  Do you find that your mind races when you lay in bed at night and can’t sleep? Keep a notebook on your night stand and jot your notes there instead of reaching for your phone. I find that if I reach for my phone I end up on social media or Pinterest and down the rabbit hole only to emerge an hour later with no memory of what I was going to write down to begin with. Sound familiar?

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Organize your Day!

I’m a list and a goal maker. This helps keeps my crazy ideas moving in the right direction. It’s easy to get off track if you don’t have a clear path to your goals. I love to take those big scary dreams and goals and break those babies down into manageable monthly, weekly, and daily goals. I searched high and low and finally found the perfect planner for goal makers like me. I love that each day has it’s own page and plenty of room that makes my list making heart flutter.

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These are all small things that you can do that can make a big difference in your day to day. What are your go to time and sanity saving tips and tricks?  I’d love to hear what you do to tame your squirrel brain.

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A Time to Reflect

It is so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day life. Add the craziness of the holidays and top it off the prospect and excitement of the new year. It’s enough to make my already spinning head go into overdrive. In all of the excitement of rushing into those new goals or resolutions and focusing on bigger and better things we can lose perspective of what we have accomplished this year. We need to stop and really reflect.

Phew, what a year it was! Our 2016 was a roller coaster filled with both personal and professional triumph and heartbreak. The hard moments are usually the easiest to recall. Pain and disappointment carve deep impressions on our slate. The big exciting moments are close behind and add to the highlight reel of the year. Then there are those everyday moments that if we aren’t careful can get lost in the day to day shuffle. Hold on to them all. Hold them tight and keep them close. There is something to learn from them all. Even in the depths of the pain there is a lesson. It may take time to see it, but it is there.

Today as I’m forcing myself to sit and reflect on 2016 I’m choosing to focus on the triumphs, both big and small. My business coach challenged us to make a list of 10 things we accomplished this year. The first 6 came fairly easy. The last 4 really made me think. What surprised me was that those last few accomplishments were the ones that were the most personal, had a deeper meaning, and were the accomplishments that I am most proud of.  They were also the accomplishments that no one saw. The intangible ones that only hold significance to me.

My coach is one smart cookie I tell ya. She knows what we need to push deep and pull out the best of us even when we don’t see it ourselves. I challenge you to do the same. I bet you accomplished more this year than you thought. I know I did.