Want Free Jewelry? UPDATED

You know you do!  My business page, The Missing Pieces, is hosting a giveaway!
The Missing Pieces is handmade beaded jewelry for all occasions... necklaces, bracelets, anklets, earrings, children's jewelry and custom orders... go check it out!

I'm giving away one free necklace OR bracelet of your choice.  There are many ways to enter... here is how:

MANDATORY entry:  Go "like" The Missing Pieces on Facebook then come back here and leave a comment telling me that you have done this and which piece you would want if you won. If you're already a fan on facebook then just leave a comment saying which piece you would love to win.

EXTRA entries:

1. Blog about this giveaway on your own blog and come back here and leave a link in the comments.
2. Become a follower of my blog (or subscribe through email) and leave a comment saying you have done this.
3. Follow me on Twitter and a leave a comment here letting me know you did.
4. Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment here with a link letting me know you did.
5. Join my mailing list for discount codes and notification of sales! Send an email to: themissingpiecesbynicole@gmail.com with "register" in the subject line... then leave a comment here that you have done that.

That's it!  A winner will be chosen by random.org on July 9th and the winner will be announced here and contacted by email, so make sure to leave your email in the comments.


The Weekend Gourmet

One of my very favorite hobbies (other than jewelry making and scrapbooking) is cooking.   I LOVE to cook, and lately I've been cooking a lot of things from scratch.  Starting "from the ground up" with ingredients is one way that I can be doubly sure that my family is not only eating healthy food, but also getting the freshest and healthiest versions of that food.  No preservatives, no chemicals, no ingredients with names I can't pronounce. Just wholesome goodness.  I also buy as much organic produce and milk as we can and free range chicken and lean beef.

I am very proud to say that it has been MONTHS since we have bought a loaf of bread.  I make all of our bread and most of our rolls... and might I say, they are delicious.  Making your own bread is SIMPLE if you have a bread machine.  I just throw the ingredients in, hit the "dough" button and wait for that little beep (about an hour and a half) then I take out the dough, put it in the bread pan, cover it with a clean dish towel and walk away (it needs to rise for another 30-40 minutes) before popping it in the oven for about a half hour... viola! Fresh homemade bread! (IMO the bread is 1000% better when baked in the oven instead of letting the breadmaker bake it... and I HIGHLY recommend you also invest in a bread slicer and splurge on an excellent bread knife.)

Since I am a full-time working mom, most of my available cooking time is on the weekends.  I like to do a lot of prep work for meals for the upcoming week, and cook a few good meals as well.  This morning I prepped the steak that I will be cooking tonight and made a loaf of bread.  As I sit here typing this I can smell the made-from-scratch corn muffins cooking (recipe from Heavenly Homemakers) that I threw together this afternoon.  Dinner tonight will be Steak Bites, fresh steamed green beans, and buttered corn muffins... and there will be plenty of extra to have leftovers one night this week as well.

Another way to be sure that your family is getting nothing but the best produce (and to stay frugal) is to grow it yourself!  Right now we are growing tomatoes (we have three plants... one already has 15 baby tomatoes on it!) and basil in our garden and I can't wait to make my own tomato sauce.  The tomatoes have required only a little bit of work (replanting the sprouts from their original containers, watering every other day has worked the best for us) and the basil has been pretty effortless... I just water it when I remember and the rain does the rest.  So far it has come up lush and bountiful.  

A huge perk of my cooking hobby?  My daughter LOVES to cook!  I always have a little helper in the kitchen with me.  She has become a pro at stirring, pouring and dividing and will often ask if we can bake something together. I love sharing this with her and it makes for some great mother/daughter time.  In fact, I think I'll go get her right now so that we can start snapping the ends off of these beans for dinner tonight...

Bon Appetite!


Family Man

As I sit here catching up on some late night television and watching my husband and daughter sleep next to me, I keep finding myself falling in love with my husband over and over again... and reflecting on how incredibly blessed I am to have him. 

Mike is mostly amazing.  I say mostly, because he is human and to err is human, but he is just SO darn good to us and always striving to be even better.  Throughout our relationship I have seen him change and grow up so much... from a young adult figuring out what he wants in life to the man that he is today... a man that knows what it means to be a husband and father... a man who works his butt off to be amazing at both. 

Today really stands out as an "amazing man" kind of day.  I got a flat tire on my way back to work from my lunch break.  Mike came by to look at it on his way home from work.  Even though he had just worked a full day and I'm sure would love nothing more than to head straight home, shower, and relax, he came to help me with absolutely no trace of negativity or annoyance.  I expected him to put on my spare (donut) and continue on his way... and I would drive home on the donut and we would deal with it tomorrow.  Well he did come by and put on the spare, but the next thing I know he's walking into my work and handing me the keys to his car.  He left me his car and took mine... he got four new tires put on, had an alignment done, and made sure I had what I needed to be safe and comfortable in my vehicle.  Then he WALKED home to wait for my car to be done. Before he left the garage he noticed that there were some tattoos on the counter with Mater and Lightening McQueen on them. (Abby is LOVING the movie Cars right now... of which Mater and McQueen are her favorite characters)  He was given a few to take home and accidentally left them on the counter.  Instead of waiting for all of us to go together to get my car, he made a point to get back to the garage first (and wait extra time) so that he could surprise Abby with the tattoos.

He's the kind of man that will go out of his way to make us smile... he'll do more than the minimum for his ladies... and though these may seem like "little things" to some, it's often the "little things" that matter the most.

Buying a new flavor of juice that he thinks I'll like, bringing home a small toy from Abby's favorite movie, switching the clothes from the washer to the dryer so that I can go to bed early, surprising me by leaving work to come to my doctors appointment with me... these are all little things that he's done recently that are so appreciated and show me how important our marriage and family are to him.

I love and adore you, Michael Hofmann, and I thank God for you every night.


Weekend Craftiness

I've been dealing with some health problems, so we haven't made it to Sunday services at church in... well... way too long.  To help fill that void for my daughter (who loves "chuch") I've been reading to Abby from her bible and supplementing with videos, coloring pages, etc.   This weekend we read the story of Jesus and the fishes and loaves. To keep her engaged in the story we got a little crafty! We cut out some coloring pages from her bible coloring book, taped them on some construction paper, then hung the whole thing up on the wall with contact paper.  The great thing about contact paper is that it's just like a dry erase board!  Abby colored her pictures and then we just wiped them clean and they were ready to go again.

Later we cooled off with some refreshing homemade popsicles.  Earlier in the week we had thrown some blueberries into the molds and filled them up with orange juice.  They turned out great!

Have a great week, everyone!


The 3 F's

Friendship, feet and fish... what do all of these things have in common? They are involved in sweet and humerous stories about my daughter that I want to share!

Friendship:  Abby has come up with a new tactic to try and play on my emotions to get out of trouble.  Last week sometime we were playing and she said to me "You're my best friend!" which was sooo sweet, until she started calling EVERYONE her best friend. Haha. We were in line at Walmart and she said "Mom, that boy is my best friend" talking about the boy in the cart in front of us.  Then she told me the dog was her best friend later that day. 
However, she must have realized that I swooned when she said it to me the first time because last night when she was being threatened with the dreaded Time Out for misbehaving she jumped on my lap, grabbed my cheeks and pulled my face close to hers, and forcefully said to me "You can't be mad! You're my best friend and we have fun! I love you! You're my best friend!" Inside... I melted and wanted to cuddle and forget her bad behavior.  In reality? I said "I love you too, but you HAVE to listen when mommy tells you to do something, now go to your room!" Tears and angry stomping away ensued... but she got over it. :)

Feet:  Abby was sitting on my lap the other night while we were all lounging on the couch watching a movie when I had an itch on the top of my foot.  I asked my adoring husband to scratch it it for me since I couldn't reach and he said "eww... no. I don't want to touch your feet." Well apparently my little baby girl took HUGE offense to this.  She put on her angriest face, looked at her daddy, shook her finger at him and said "I love mommy's feet and mommy loves my feet!" Then she insisted on reaching over and rubbing my feet lovingly to prove this.  It was precious and hilarious. She was seriously steamed that her dad insulted my feet! (and I got a nice foot rub out of the deal. Ha!)

Fish:  My little munchkin is proving to be more like me with every day that passes.  Some background... I have always had a heart for weak and unfortunate animals.  When I was a kid my mom took me to the pet store to pick out a new pet and when I saw that they were about to feed a gerbil to the snakes, I was horrified! The gerbil had a broken foot and a broken tail and though they usually feed mice to the snakes, this guys day had come. Or so they thought! I adopted that little guy (named him Big Foot in honor of his broken appendage) and nursed him back to health. He lived a long life (for a gerbil) and at 27 years old, I still remember him fondly.
So... Abby and I were at PetSmart picking up a new bed for Roxie when Abby (as she always does) ran over to the fish and wanted to look at them.  She asked if we could take one home.  I said sure and took her over to the wall where they keep the Betta fish.  There are all kinds of GORGEOUS Betta's with bright red, blue and teal coloring and looong flowing fins.  What did my daughter pick?  The smallest, greyest, un-fancy Betta that she could find.  The thing looks like a guppy. I, of course, applauded her choice and home we went.  She ADORES this fish! She runs out and says good morning to it every morning and feeds it every night.  When someone comes to visit she grabs their hand and takes them over to meet her new fishy. It's precious and it melts my heart that she just might have inherited some of my finer qualities along with my *ahem* stubborness and clumsiness.

So that's that! I hope that everyone has a great weekend. :)