DIY Cotton Candy Ice Cream

DIY, Motherhood

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This week we have been on a cotton candy kick! Alyssa and Addalise got a Nostalgia Cotton Candy maker for their birthday last year and we finally decided to pull it out and give it a whirl. Of course we are all addicted now! We have an ice cream maker also and use it ALL the time. Before this, we only attempted vanilla and chocolate homemade ice cream. Both were delicious, of course! For this recipe, you do not need an ice cream maker. Cotton Candy ice cream is so fun and full of summer vibes! I actually tried it before adding sugar and was surprised that it actually tasted good (not big on sugar free personally, but if you need sugar free recipes this one is good with or without).

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 14 ounce can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Cotton Candy Flavoring
  • Sugar
  • Food Coloring
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Mixer
  • Dish to freeze ice cream in

Step One: First you will pour your two cups of heavy cream into a large bowl. You will mix until the heavy cream becomes thick. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down and have no liquid come out.

Step Two: Once you are done mixing your heavy cream, add one can of sweetened condensed milk. You will fold the sweetened condensed milk into the havy cream to mix the two together.

Step Three: Add two tablespoons of sugar

Step Four: Add half a teaspoon of cotton candy flavoring and mix everything together.

Step Five: Separate the mixture into two separate bowls (same amount in each bowl)

Step Six: Add blue food coloring to one bowl and red food coloring to the other. I needed about 5-6 drops of blue, and about 2 drops of red.

Step Seven: Alternate scooping blue and pink into the dish you will use to freeze the ice cream. It should look something like this at this point.

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Step Eight: Cover dish and put in freezer for 4-6 hours. I used a Pyrex dish with a lid, but you can cover with saran wrap also.

Once your ice cream is frozen, Scoop out and enjoy! We used fancy ice cream bowls that my Mamaw gave us, which made it extra special since it’s tough to see loved ones right now ❤

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Let me know if you found this helpful. Feel free to follow along for more DIY, parenting hacks, homeschooling, etc.

Follow me on IG: @ashleeleighann

-The Zombie Mom 

 

 

How to Make a DIY Car Wash this Summer for Super Cheap

DIY, Motherhood

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I posted a silly TikTok with our DIY carwash and several friends wanted to know how to make their own! I originally did this a couple of years ago when I was first getting into photography and absolutely loved the way the photos turned out. It’s a super fun mini session to offer during the summer months, and fun for all the kiddos. It’s not super expensive, and right now when it’s hard to find a pool filter…it’s a great way to be able to enjoy going outside.

Supply List:

  • (9) 1″ elbows
  • (7) 1″ tees
  • (2) 1″ crosses
  • PVC Hose Adapter
  • (20) 1×30″ pipe
  • (3) 1×37″ pipe

Making the Frame:

  • Lay two of the 30″ pipes on each side (parallel to each other, using 4 pieces of 30in pipe so far). You will then connect the pieces with tees in the middle.
  • You will put elbows on the ends of three pipes, and a tee on one end. The tee is what you will connect your PVC Hose Adapter to later.
  • Once connected, add 6 of the 30in pipes vertically (three on each side). In the front and back of your car wash frame, put a tee on each of the vertical 30in PVC pipes.
  • You can go ahead and add the cross sections in the middle vertical pieces if that makes it easier.
  • In the front and back of the carwash fram, add 4 pieces of 30in pipe vertically and use a tee and a 37″ pipe horizontally to connect them at the top. This will complete almost everything but the middle section of your frame. For your cross fittings, you will put them in the middle section of the car wash on both sides (if you haven’t already, I waited until this step).
  • Once you have the cross fitting on each side, add two 30in pipes on each side of the car wash to connect the sides laterally (four pieces in total).
  • Add 30in pipes on both sides vertically (middle section only, so 2 peices), and use an elbow on each pipe to connect the 37in pipe at the top. This will complete the middle section of the frame.IMG_8436

How to get the water to flow:

You are going to drill holes about 1in apart (this does not have to be exact). We used a 1/16 drill bit to make the holes. Attach a standard water hose to the front of the car wash by using a PVC hose adapter connected to a tee.

Completing your Car Wash:

Gather up pool noodles, sponges, plastic streamers, etc. I grabbed little spray bottles from Target that were about a dollar. I got them from the Beauty section one year in bright colors. I got sponges from the dollar store and hung them from the car wash. Pool Noodles can be combine with streamers so that you don’t have to purchase as many noodles. Another suggestion for truly making this a DIY project is cutting floats that have holes in them to make plastic strips. You can also use plastic table cloths to make your streamers. Just cut them into pieces. We also used a leaf blower as a “dryer” for our car wash at one point, ha. 

Have Fun:

Grab your scooter, coop car, box car, or just run through the car wash like a sprinkler! Wash your cars with sponges. Bring on your best pretend play! This will occupy your kids for hours! Splash in puddles, grab rain boots. The possibilities are endless with this DIY summer hack!

Optional Ideas:

Make a sign in front of your car wash and teach your kids about running a business. Talk to them about what is going on in the world right now and how being resourceful is necessary.  I like to use everything as a fun learning opportunity!

Let me know if you found this helpful. Feel free to follow along for more DIY hacks, budgeting tips, parenting reads, and more. I post daily on IG also. @ashleeleighann

-The Zombie Mom

 

 

Sunset Summer Minis

DIY, Photography

Here’s a chance to get updated family photos, photos of the kids, your dog, whatever ha. Everything looks magical at sunset. I love capturing clients during golden hour, but rarely have the availability to offer this as a mini session. Use the booking link to claim your spot! These will be located in a field in Nesbit. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions after visiting the booking link! Can’t wait to go on a fun adventure ❤

Book your Golden Hour Summer Mini Here!

Mermaid and Fisherman Minis

Photography

Obviously this summer, I kinda have a thing for water. I have been working hard to come up with some fun sessions for the kiddos. I want to capture the imagination of childhood because we know that it won’t stay this way for long.

Book Your Mermaid and Fisherman Session Here!

These will be 20 minute sessions, props provided, and you will receive at leave 15 edited images. Use the booking link to claim your spot! These won’t last long. I will send out more detailed information including exact location along with a reminder through the booking website <3.

How Setting a Reading Goal for Yourself can Improve your Mental Health

books, Mental Health, Motherhood

No matter how busy you are, you can and should make time to experience the positive health benefits associated with reading.

This year I set a reading goal for myself. I wanted to read 50 books by the end of the year. Obviously life happened at the end of last year. Negative thoughts occupied my mind for far too long. For months I have worked on growing as a person, avoiding negative thoughts, and keeping a positive mindset no matter what. It’s something that I have to work at every day, but it’s getting easier. Now when I set a goal for myself, I try to spend time actually reaching that goal and avoiding all excuses. There’s no reason why I can’t accomplish something that I’m passionate about. Negative thoughts will consume your mind if you let them, and it’s estimated that about eighty percent of the tens of thousands of thoughts that go through our mind every day are negative. Crazy right? Let me share with you how reading positively impacted my mental health and helped me escape.

Learning to love myself didn’t happen overnight. First, I had to realize that I’m an empath. I am happiest when the people around me are thriving. I feed off of other people’s emotions, and that’s only okay when I set healthy boundaries. I’m still learning to say no, but I have found ways to make the most of my time and not allow room for unhealthy thought processes. As a teenager, I remember letting go of any anxiety as soon as I walked in a book store. I could spend hours enjoying the magic of picking up a book and reading the plot summary in an effort to make the best selection for my next read. I was one of those nerdy kids that looked forward to purchasing books during the summer for required reading.

When I feel a destructive or negative thought coming on, I take a deep breath, count backwards by 5 (utilizing the 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins LIFE CHANGING), and replace that thought with something productive. I love to read and learn new things. I also love to create and escape through travel and books.

I’m sure you can come up with a million and one excuses for why you don’t have time to read. But I’m a toddler mom and I can play this game all day. Leggo.

I don’t have time.

Yes, you do. We make time for the aspects of life that we find valuable. Find value in yourself. Invest in who you are as a person. Tell yourself that you are worth it every day until you finally believe it. I have four children, work full time on night shift as a laboratory scientist, homeschool my kids by choice, have a photography business on the side, and about 20 different things from day to day. We throw the words “don’t have time” around way too freely. We shut down suggestions before we even hear someone out.

I remember graduating college with my five month old a few feet away from me as I walked across the stage. Any time that I would talk to someone who either didn’t attend or didn’t graduate college, their reasoning was that they couldn’t study or couldn’t focus. I’m ADHD. I couldn’t take medication for the majority of my college career due to pregnancy. But I did read. The more I read, the less I struggled with it. Picking up the book is the hardest part. Sometimes we are so reluctant to welcome change. We are so scared to fail that we limit ourselves before we even try. That gets us no where.

I have kids and they deserve my full attention.

You’re absolutely right. They do. I’ve been there. For years I took my kids to the zoo on no sleep after working the night before. We constantly went on trips and honestly I was happy…for awhile. But somewhere along the way I forgot to fill up my own cup. I forgot how to reset. I had four babies that absolutely gave me joy, but when you forget who you are as a person, you lose the ability to truly be present. You lose the ability to give back to them.

After so many years of going through the motions and just trying to stay awake, I stopped seeing a beach sunset as magical. I stopped looking back as we left a pretty field during golden hour. I couldn’t picture it anymore. I was there, but in my mind I was constantly searching. Your kids know when you aren’t really there. They don’t want a warm body. They want Y O U.

Fitness isn’t just about tightening your core or a good cardio routine. We have to put our brain to work also. Stop acting as if your brain doesn’t control everything else because it most certainly does.

Reading increases your critical thinking skills, vocabulary, and writing skills. Links to decreases in blood pressure and even longer life expectancy have been made in correlation to reading. Reading for pleasure helps us relate to others, be compassionate and empathetic, and reduces stress levels. It’s good for your mind. Daily reading keeps your brain engaged and aids in preventing memory loss.

Good Reads helps me track my reading goal. When I can see progress, I am more likely to stick with something. I can mark books that I’d like to read, books I’ve purchased, books I’m currently reading, and books that I have previously read. It’s also fun to see that other people are reading and discuss the characters of a book that felt so real to me. I’ve related to so many characters in books and I carry them with me. Being an empath can mean feeling things way too deeply. On the other hand, I wouldn’t give up being able to ride the Magic School Bus, or walk into a tree house and end up in ancient times. I wouldn’t give up feeling the sand between my toes at a beach I’ve never physically visited. I wouldn’t even give up having my heart break for a fictional character.

I utilize Book of the Month club because it helps me with book selection when I’m feeling overwhelmed with options, the book is shipped to me, and I can read reviews from an app on my phone. I can discuss the book with other members as I’m reading or by leaving a review when it’s finished. If I don’t like the book choices that month, I can skip. In my experience, the few times this has happened I used my credit to pick two books the next month. I am able to support up and coming authors and have access to books before they are released to the public. Who doesn’t love having something exclusive?

Get a discount on your first BOTM here!

Thrift Books, The Book Bundler, and a local thrift store are all good outlets to keep you looking forward to your next read. I typically pick out my next book as I’m reading my current selection so that I have something to look forward to. Sometimes I give myself a day or two to process the book that I just read and then I start a new book. Don’t give yourself too much time to get out of the routine.

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Magic Tree House books are THE BEST

Here’s the thing. This year I have lost more than I can count. I lost my sense of security, I had my car stolen, my marriage was barely hanging on by a thread, and I saw the true colors of the people I thought were “my people”. Plot T W I S T…those colors weren’t so bright and wonderful. I lost financial freedom, my daily routine, and my ability to stop the racing thoughts and go to sleep. But you know what I didn’t lose? Knowledge. And it really is power. I’ll admit that my thoughts weren’t always positive, but one day I was able to say enough is enough. On that same day, I already had the tools to begin taking my life back.

In the words of Dr. Seuss, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go”.

I didn’t engage with people because I felt like I could no longer bring value to the conversation. As moms, we do this all the time. Look, I get it. I’m a mama to four little girls. The youngest hasn’t even turned two. They are the best thing about my life. But was I the best part of theirs? I see the smiles returning to their faces when they are around me now. I see the relief, and as much as that breaks my mama heart…I’m so glad that I finally see it. Reading helped give me something to contribute again. We feel as though our lives are boring or others won’t relate. Sometimes it’s easier to relate to a character in a book and mention his or her story in conversation. In my experience, your friend is probably feeling the same way. She is just too afraid to say it out loud.

Let me know if you found this helpful! I’d love for you to follow along. Drop a comment with your favorite book <3.

-The Zombie Mom

 

Dear Alyssa…Do you Really Have to Grow Up?

Motherhood

Dear Alyssa,

You like to remind me every day that it’s getting closer and closer to your 9th birthday. Birthdays are a time to celebrate, and you know that I find any excuse to throw a big party and have all our friends together. But then I reflect on the last year of your life, and it’s always bittersweet. Something about the fact that you are almost T E N is really not okay with me. I know this year hasn’t been the best, but to be honest you probably think that it has. I hope you never lose that light you have to offer the world. You really are something special.

You’re a dreamer. You get that from me. I hope that you never waste time viewing that as a flaw or trying to fit in.

Thank you for telling me it was okay so many times when it really wasn’t. Thank you for seeing the positive in every situation and finding the beauty in this ugly world. I am so proud of you for fighting through your fears. You handled all the struggles of this year with grace, sometimes much better than I could as an adult. Thank you for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I hope that you look back at this time and know that everything I did was to protect you.

You’re such a cool kid. I’m not even saying that because you’re my kid. The fact that you still want me to pick you up, spin you around, and “squish” you at almost nine years old makes my mama heart so happy. Your Pokémon pajamas, desire to learn everything possible about sharks, and your independence make me so proud to be your mom.

You know that dance parties require 90s music, that the only way to cure a broken heart is by eating a Snickers ice cream bar, and sprinkling glitter everywhere is just a part of life.

I know it won’t be like this forever. This past year you have learned to play violin, found a love for reading, and gave the best dang soldier performance during the Nutcracker that I’ve ever witnessed. You are so intentional with everything that you do, and sometimes I really do love you so much that it hurts.

You find the best in people, even when they really don’t deserve it. It used to worry me, but after this past year I’ve realized that the world needs more people like you.

Sometimes people need just a little bit of your magic. I know that your smile, despite the worst of odds, made me commit to becoming the best version of myself. It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it’s not okay in any sense of the word, but you made me so proud to be your mom by showing everyone what you are made of. Never stop standing up for what is right. You are your only limit, baby girl. I truly believe you can do anything you set your mind to because I’ve watched you do it. I watched you pick up your violin and play when all you wanted to do was hide under your blanket.

I want you to know that I support you. I love hearing all your dreams and no matter how exhausted I am, your energy gives me life. You love to create, and I am so blessed to call you mine.

So many people have told me that kids are resilient, like you can just move on and forget about the trauma you’ve been through. They’re right in a way. You have shown so much strength. But you also have the biggest heart, and you understand things that an eight year old should have no clue about. Sometimes you’re the only adult conversation I have all day. You’re an empath, like me. I want you to know that it’s not easy for me to leave home at night when I know you need me there to feel safe. But I get to spend my days watching you grow.

There have been so many positives this year. You had your first dance recital, you played basketball and had nerf wars. You went to Mexico and swam out in the middle of the ocean and slid down a slide into the water. You jumped off cliffs into the lake. You drove your scooter to your friend’s house all by yourself. You learned your multiplication facts and read your first chapter books.

I won’t ever be ready to see another year go, but I am always up for a new adventure.

Love you allllllll the way to the moon and back,

-The Zombie Mom

How a Room Makeover can Change Everything with DIY Tips

DIY, Mental Health, Motherhood

Back in December, my daughter went through a very public trauma. Our lives were completely turned upside down, and while I can’t go into the specifics of that right now, I can say that her doctor recommended a room makeover for her bedroom. I have four girls. The older three chose to share a room, and before this happened they basically just slept up there and played in the playroom downstairs. I loved having a simple, clutter free space for them to sleep at night. This made cleaning soooo much easier as toys everywhere drives me nuts, BUT it’s super hard to avoid with four kids.

First of all, this kind of wrecked us all emotionally and it was right at Christmas. We had definitely seen better days financially, but you do what you have to do for your kids, right? Alyssa is usually extremely happy, talkative, and has no trouble sleeping because she’s like the energizer bunny all day every day.

Picking the Theme: I wanted something bright with happy colors. My daughter is super obsessed with space, and the younger two really like unicorns, and everything Jojo. It took some time, but between Target, Amazon, the Dollar Store, and Lowe’s we were able to combine this theme and didn’t spend very much money! So here goes!

Glow in the Dark Stars and Twinkle Lights: I ordered these on Amazon and they were very inexpensive. The twinkle lights came in a pack of 6, and we hung them behind her pastel rainbow colored curtains that I’ll get to later. I also picked up a few extra strands of twinkle lights at the dollar store. I pinned these to the higher parts of the ceiling to keep my younger littles from pulling them down.

For the glow in the dark stars, I used spray adhesive to make sure that they stayed on the wall. They came in multiple colors, which really helped with combining the themes of space and unicorn/whimsical. The stars do come with a sticky back, but it took some time to put hundreds of stars on the wall so I only wanted to do this once.

Paint: I love getting Valspar paint samples from Lowe’s. There are always multiple colors to choose from. I used a bright blue, pink, and purple. The samples are less than $5 a piece, and one sample of each color was enough to complete my project. I painted one wall a dual toned blue and pink, and another wall blue, pink, and purple .

For the dual toned wall, I just used painters’ tape to make a line, and since there was nothing (like a bed) going against that wall, I used the glow in the dark stars to make the separation blend a little better.

For the galaxy wall, I painted a spot blue on the wall, and started blending other colors with a grocery sack. I watered the paint down just a little bit since it is pretty think.

Curtains: I got the curtains on Amazon. They are blackout curtains and this was important since I wanted my daughter to feel secure in her room again. These were such a great choice for the focal point of her room and I loved these colors even more in person.

Bedding: Since I have three girls, originally I wanted to get three different color bed spreads, but it was messing with my OCD too much. I ended up purchasing two pink bed spreads and a white bedspread with pops of purple, pink, and blue for my oldest daughter. Her bed is in the middle so it turned out super cute.

Hanging Stars: A couple years ago, I got these huge gold stars from Dollar Tree. They are actually Christmas ornaments, but they look super cute and sparkly (perfect for a little girl’s room(. I picked up a few more white stars at Target (these were also ornaments). I used ribbon that I already had at home and hung them from the ceiling.

I wanted to get the girls a doll house for Christmas and I spent hours looking for the perfect one. I love DIY projects so I thought about fixing up and older dollhouse, but I became obsessed with this one. I watched for sales and got it for about half price closer to Christmas. If they were going to have toys in their room, I wanted them to be cute.

Playhouse/Reading Loft: We had extra wood laying around the garage, so my husband put it together to make a fun reading space for the kiddos. There is a little bookshelf, and the kids grab sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, stuffed animals and whatever else they can find to hang out in there. Alyssa chose some books about space since that’s where she found comfort at the time.

I changed everything about their room, from where their beds were placed, colors, bedding…everything. My aunt and cousin helped out so much and I will forever be grateful. This was at a time when my oldest wasn’t able to sleep at night. I am so glad that she has regained a sense of normalcy through all the chaos.

If you don’t like your story, change it. Don’t just go through it, grow through it. And remember that it takes a village. We are all in this together.

Thanks for following along on our journey!

I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out!

-The Zombie Mom

 

 

The Real Reason Why Your Mom Friend is NEVER on Time or just doesn’t Show Up at All

Motherhood

I made this little clip to show what life if like trying to leave the house being a mom of four.

I’m really not trying to be a bad friend, sister, daughter, whatever…but I’m just exhausted. By the time I actually even make it to the car I forget where I’m going and it takes half a day to even make it there. Maybe it’s my ADHD, but I swear it’s the kids. I love these little monsters, but goodness, gracious…we’re just going to stay home…

We can’t find shoes, the TV remote, the dog escapes, the toddler hid the baby in the pantry…I mean I’m drained just chasing them around. And if we actually do make it there…This better be the best dang chicken you’ve ever had in your life!

Do you ever actually make it somewhere and then your kids just complain the whole time? I make some big plans at 2am while I’m at work thinking that I’m so blessed to get to spend all day with my babies. They are the sweetest little blessings, but if we make it to the playground and they don’t swing their little legs off, I might lose my mind (even more so than I already have).

I usually have advice for most mom situations considering I have four kids, but all I can tell you is that you have to pick your battles. If you make it out of the house with your four year old in 12 month pants and mismatched shoes, that’s still a win. If your baby is covered in cheese puffs, I can guarantee it won’t be the first or the last time. And if you’re one of those moms that has it all together and your children walk out of the house with Prada bags, and your baby’s diaper is made of the finest silver you can find…I salute you. But I still got my chicken either way so there’s that.

 

 

Less Stuff, More Vacations

Uncategorized

IMG_4380I’m going to be real for a second. The only thing that gets me through the work week is planning my next vacation. Yeah, I enjoy helping people and all that good stuff, but at the end of the day, I just want to be exploring new adventures with my three little girls. I feel important at work, I think it’s pretty cool that I get to call myself a “scientist” and I worked hard to get there. Even still, nothing will ever be as important as being “mommy”.

For the longest time, being busy defined me. I was a full time student, full time photographer, and made it through school with two babies. I often think about what I missed out on, but I know that many of the memories that we have now wouldn’t mean near as much without that struggle. I often thought of the time when I would be able to “buy them anything they asked for in the store”. Man, that was a silly thought. I’m thankful for it because it kept me motivated, but flash forward to now, my kids won’t care that I couldn’t buy them an impractical gift when they were two years old. They will care that I existed in their lives.

I hope that when my children look back at their childhood, they don’t remember me handing them a toy in an effort to distract them. I hope they don’t associate me with presents or “stuff”. I hope they look past all the clutter and remember the time we spent together because that’s really all that matters.

Blind Bags. I never thought that I would work all week to spend $3 on a toy I know my daughter will never look at again once she opens it. But, life is kinda like that, huh? You live for surprises, adventures, and what’s behind the next door. Maybe the reason kids enjoy watching other kids open these silly little bags is because they enjoy seeing the excitement of someone else. I’ll gladly work to spend $3 for that.

At some point that $3 toy becomes a $30 toy, and by the time it becomes a $300 toy, our excitement seems to fade. I never want to see that look in my child’s eye, when life isn’t near as exciting as it once was.

Thats why instead of more stuff, I want more vacations. I want more time together. There will never be enough time together. I’ll never wake up and feel like we spent too much time together. I’ll never stop wishing that I could keep them the age they are now, and watch them grow up at the same time. It doesn’t even make any sense how much I love them, but little in life does.

My oldest is 6, and we talk about her day, her friends, her teachers, and she often reminds me (in great detail) of every trip we have ever been on. She brings up the little things, like going to pick apples or a trip to the zoo. She rarely reminds me of the time in the store when I let her get a toy. Because that isn’t what’s important. Last Christmas she received a princess carriage, a swing set, and tons of other toys. She doesn’t remind me of all the little gifts she got. Neither one of us remember at this point, but she asks when we will ride in a princess carriage and look at Christmas lights again. She’s asked when we will pick out a tree and if she can help me decorate it. But the “stuff”, it doesn’t matter. It’s just clutter in her mind of memories.

Give your kids something that matters. Love them. Spend time with them. Don’t hand them “stuff” and expect them to find their true potential on their own. They are only little once. Soak up those baby snuggles, and big kid hugs. Listen when they tell you about their day. They will remember the time you spent together far longer than a distraction. Less Stuff, More Vacations.