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Lifestyle

‘Tis the Season to be Jolly!

Tis the season to be jolly! Jolly!? More like:

  • Divided

  • Depressed

  • Isolated

  • Anxious

  • Misunderstood

  • Hurt

  • Harmed

    … wounds of 2020 sting.


Stringing lights we can’t afford to plug into sockets. Burning holes in our already holey pockets. Double shifts to pay for gifts.

Jubilee feasts with turkey and kin misunderstood. Igniting the flame with each piece of firewood. Knitting mittens, reading Dickens.

“Holly Jolly Christmas” Santa sings, simultaneously pushing the poking pillow down his slacks, fake beard sagging.

Jolly? Affliction and anguish 2020 imparted. No jolliness for the fainthearted. Still heartsick for the departed.

How is Santa jolly?

Sing praise this season and sorrows cease?

What thaws the raw heart and flawed head?

Is it Nick? His nose cherry red?

Is it me? My soul filled with dread?

Is it anyone here?

Is it anyone dead?

There is only one.

He is not dead.

He is right here.

No burden alone you must pull.

Not giving you coal from the north pole.

One alone to lull the broken soul.

This season sorrows cease and angels sing,

Legions shout hosanna!

Faith, hope and charity is where it started. Joyful, our departed lighthearted. Open your eyes, heaven’s veil parted. Bliss!

“I am with you!” fierce whisper tingles and prickle, tickles ego and conscience fickle. Tenderness zings.

Blazing flames dissolve the bitterness, loathing, boasting choking, guns smoking, opposing gloating. Reading Matthew, learning value.

Giving love and laughter, time and tolerance, energy and light and wisdom, all gifts that mend deep holes. Freely give, live and forgive.


Time is up for all of us to wallow in the wounds of 2020.

Let us…

  • Improve

  • Heal

  • Embrace

  • Believe

  • Bond

  • Heal

  • Unite

  • And be jolly!

 

I know that our Savior lives and loves us. He knows us personally and wants nothing more than for us to be happy. This year has been one for the books. So much hatred and discourse, but in the mists of it all, I have felt more peace and assurance that this is all for a reason. I hope instead of us turning to fear, we can turn to faith.

Let Him take our burdens upon Him. He has already paid the price! We can feel immense joy as we trust in Him and do our best to love and serve others as ourselves. I owe all that I am, everything I have, everything I will be, to Him, our beloved Savior, Redeemer, and King of kings, even Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

 

 

Abi

Choosing Happiness (Part 1)

 

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Did you know that there are 6 different key emotions we can trace all emotions back to? They are:

  • sadness

  • happiness

  • fear

  • anger

  • surprise

  • disgust

 

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We are meant to feel all of them! This is what being human is all about. We shouldn’t feel happy all of the time so please feel validated in all the feelings you experience. With that being said, feeling happy (or in the happy section of the graph above) is a goal of mine. I feel like we meet people who tend to live in certain slices of this graph. They are the most comfortable with their key emotion and have made a habit out of feeling those emotions first when circumstances come. Just as everyone experiences all emotions, let’s think of Wnnie the Pooh characters to showcase my point a little more:

  • Eeyore -> Sad

  • Pooh -> Happy

  • Piglet -> Fear

  • Roo -> Surprise

  • Rabbit -> Disgust

Happiness hasn’t always been my key emotion, and it hasn’t been the easiest choice throughout my life as it is in my current situation. I had to reprogram myself to choose happiness as my default emotion. I know that if you want happiness to be your key emotion, you can! Because guess what…IT’S YOUR CHOICE!

Thanksgiving seemed like a fitting day to share one suggestion on how to choose happiness fast. I bet you know exactly what I’m gonna say too. Yep – gratitude. Gratitude is the fastest way to make you happier. This doesn’t mean just listing things off the top of your head at the table because everyone is doing it. It is the honest feeling in your heart of things that you are sincerely grateful for that brings true happiness. If you’re struggling even saying family as something you’re grateful for right now, then say the things you truly are grateful for.

Dear Abi, I honestly can’t even think of one thing I’m grateful for because my life is shit. I’d rather trade places with anyone else. Literally anyone!

Okay, well let me give you a few hints and follow that up with a little story.

Hints:

  • Do you have the use of all or some of the limbs on your body?

  • Can you breathe? See? Hear? Feel/Touch? Taste? Smell?

  • Can you walk or get around without assistance?

  • Can you walk or get around with assistance?  Who or what is assisting you?

  • Have you eaten anything in the last 24 hours?

  • Do you have the use of running water? Electricity? Heat? Shelter?

  • Do you have the ability to read? Write? Speak? Express opinions freely?

  • Do you have an imagination? A conscience? An opinion? Desires? Hopes? Dreams?

  • Do you have someone (pets included) in this world or not in this world who loves and cares about you?

  • Do you own a car? Clothes? A bed? Books? Shoes? A coat?

I think you get the idea here. Start thinking of all the things you take for granted and start feeling grateful for those things. Trust me, as you do your heart will swell and you will start to feel that tingling feeling. If you do not have any of these things, message me directly and I will get you at least two of these things.

You must know that your happiness is dependent on no one but yourself. No one can make you happy. If they can, it is only fleeting and not true joy. The only person who has shown me true, pure happiness is God, and even then it was still something I had to discover and choose for myself. I had to choose to feel gratitude for my blessings and gifts. I had to choose to open my heart and feel the light in my soul. I had to choose to forgive myself and let go of the darkness inside of me. Happiness is waiting for you. You are the only one who can unlock that feeling inside.


When I was 18, I moved to Zambia, Africa for a couple months to teach children in remote villages simple things like addition and basic skills. My friend and I lived with a family who had adopted 13 children between the ages of one and 13. We all lived in one house. We ate the same thing every single day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and everything we ate, we grew on the farm we lived on. We got to take one bath per week in cold water. Luckily, we had running water.

We walked between five to 10 miles a day to get to and from these schools. The children who attended got one meal a day at school, it was a sloppy mixture of cornstarch, water, and salt called Nshima. On top of this, during that time there was a rumor in the surrounding areas of our farm that if you had sex with a virgin you would be cured of AIDS. There are 1.4 million orphans in Zambia today. Children born to children. The only way they ate was going to school and getting that one meal. Their houses? I don’t know and I don’t want to know how they survived between classes each day.

On Fridays, we would go to the hospital and help the babies in the NICU unit. There were only 2 incubators so the nurses would have to rotate the babies every hour. If the baby didn’t make it while away from the incubator, they would place the body in a sack by the door. Every shift someone would take the sack of dead babies away.

I was 18 years old. I saw the lowest of lows. I saw the circumstances of the hopeless and helpless. I looked into their eyes and guess what I saw? I saw love, I saw gratitude! These children were full of life and passion. Yes, they were starving, but they were grateful for their one school meal. They had one outfit each, ragged and torn, but they were grateful they had clothes. They were parentless, but they knew they had each other.

I still don’t understand how these children would come ready day after day laughing, learning, running, and playing when they had every single reason in the world to be miserable. They chose to be happy.

That life lesson has carried me through many trials in my life. It can always, always be worse. Others have it way harder than me and, at times, that was the only thing I could be grateful for sadly.

Flying home from that trip I stopped in London for a few days. I toured the fanciest castles with the queens jewels sitting in glass boxes. I paid $50 for a dish of fish and chips at a pub. $50 freaking dollars for one meal. I couldn’t enjoy my time there. I couldn’t bring myself to understand how completely unfair and disgusting this world is. The contrast of worlds had collided and it was baffling to my innocent brain. I didn’t understand why a world like this existed.

As I look back and ponder now, I don’t remember smiling faces across the streets of London. I don’t remember kind eyes looking back and hoping to connect with me like I did in Africa. I still haven’t seen the same eyes I saw during my time there. Maybe they don’t know what they are missing? Maybe they don’t know what it really means to have love? Maybe they just have the happy gene? NO! I still saw their tears, I saw the pain on their bruised, shoeless feet. I know they experienced all the emotions and yet, they still chose happiness more than not!

 

Some more questions for you to ponder that came to my mind:

  • Why are some of the richest countries in the world so negative, hard, sad, fast and angry?

  • Why are some of the poorest countries in the world so humble, kind, giving and happy?

  • Why did they choose joy? And if they can, can I?

  • Do I deserve happiness?

  • Is happiness really a choice?

  • Am I capable of being happy? Why? Why not?

  • When will I be ready to feel happiness again?

  • What is it going to take for me to have happiness be my default emotion?

  • What is holding me back?

  • Am I willing to let go of the things that are holding me back? Why? Why not?

  • Is happiness determined based on circumstance?

  • Can I be grateful?

More on choosing happiness coming soon, but until then ponder these questions. Find happiness for yourself. And simply:

Look for the good.

Be grateful for what you do have, including iyour challenges.

Don’t be picky. Find reasons to be grateful in your surroundings.

 

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Family

No TV

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When I was in middle school, my parents told my older sister, Kelli, and I that if we didn’t watch TV for a whole year they would give us $500 each! Little did I know that my older sister (captain of the dance team, captain of the soccer team, part-time hostess, Key Club president, Prom Queen) didn’t have much time to watch TV. Me on the other hand, I had all the time in the world.

It was a year I’ll never forget. I like to think that is when I learned to become really creative. Since I couldn’t watch TV (the equivalent to smart phones today), I had to learn how not to be bored. I tried so many things. I learned new skills. I made crafts. I made jewelry. I read. I baked.I cooked. I cleaned. I would just lay in my bed and listen to music (this is literally where my love of music comes from). My schoolwork became a little more fun because I wasn’t rushed to finish before “Boy Meets World” started. It gave me so much freedom! It helped me learn more about myself and what I wanted to do. After the year was over, I remember I didn’t enjoy TV much because I became more interested in friends, sports, piano, dance, and extracurricular activities. The draw was gone and the habit was broken. It wasn’t until I had Aspen that I really got back into watching a lot of TV and movies.

When I had her, I quit working cold turkey and I went from 100 MPH to zero. She was the best baby ever. I just sat watching her wondering if I was supposed to be doing something or not. My older sister, Kelli (the one with 9 kids) dropped off three huge boxes of DVDs and told me to just enjoy this time.

I spent hours watching TV with little Aspen. It was heaven. There has never been another time in my life that I was so chill and just fine doing nothing. Time and season, right? Needless to say, I got right back into my habit again of relying on TV and movies to fill the blank space in my life. Ammon and I loved going out to movies instead of actually connecting on dates. We were both exhausted from being new parents, and Ammon was working and going to school full-time.

As you know, kids grow up and the only sense of relief it seems are screens! When Taggart came along 15 months after Aspen was born, my world turned upside down. Each morning, I would give Aspen our iPad so we could sleep an extra hour or two because she knew what to do with it! It was our free babysitter. Taggart was a good baby too, but having two kids under 15 months is a lot!

I learned quickly that having screens was a dangerous, lovely, amazing, and terrifying tool. I also noticed that after they watched, they became little demons. Was it worth the free time to have to deal with little demons the rest of the day?


As you may or may not know, this last September we decided to do a no screen month for all of us (Including Ammon and me)! It was the best month ever! I can’t explain the actual benefits other than magical.The first couple days were rough, but after adjusting, it was simply magical.

Here are a few things I wrote down in my notes as I noticed things throughout the month:

  • Our kids stopped fighting almost all together.

  • I haven’t felt as connected to my family as I have during that month and I think it’s because the TV and screens are off.

  • My kids are happier.

  • Taggart is the sweetest person. Today he sang and read to Helen, and they spent hours playing nicely in their room. What a miracle.

  • Taggart isn’t as loud as he has been.

  • Helen’s imagination has exploded. She has started talking for her toys and creates these magical worlds with her little Hatchimals. I keep thinking if she were in front of a TV watching Frozen for the millionth time what I’d be robbing her of.

  • My kids haven’t needed me as often surprisingly. I haven’t needed to help them out of their boredom because they already have fun things they want to do like scootering, coloring, etc.

  • I have been able to get so much more done. Instead of watching a show to calm down or veg out, I am writing and creating more.

  • I have been able to read two books! What! The last time I read was literally when Aspen was born.

As they have gotten older and I have learned more and more. I realize that they can handle screens but there has to be rules. We have slowly introduced the TV back into our home and honestly I want to go back already. We watch a family movie on Fridays or Sundays, but we can go without.

I know it sounds drastic, but giving up the TV and screens has given all of us our personality and ambitions a huge boost. I love not having it. I have loved who my kids are without it and I love connecting with Ammon and talking in bed instead of mindlessly watching our screens.

If you try a no screen month, I want to hear your experience! And for those of you who don’t have screens in your home, I am seriously so jealous that I didn’t learn this sooner!

Love you guys!

 

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Beef

Grasshopper or Ant?

Do you remember the story about the ants and the grasshopper? You know, the one where the ants spent the entire year prepping for winter and the grasshopper made fun of them and played instead. Then winter hit and the grasshopper died and the ants were sipping their hot cocoa and laughing around a warm fire with full bellies and excess of everything?

Well…I feel like I’ve been a grasshopper for far too long now and I need to ramp up my ant game. Covid hit and then an earthquake happened in Utah, and my anxiety level peaked. It was super apparent that our family were legitimately grasshoppers. We were not prepared for a worst-case scenario situation. I felt an urgency to make food storage and preparedness a bigger priority not only to temper my anxious nerves, but to feel a little more secure if and when we ever find ourselves facing a disaster or unexpected event.

So in normal Abi fashion, I decided to do a little experiment to see how long we could go without buying food by using the food storage we currently had. I knew we had food storage, but I hadn’t looked at it in who knew how long. Plus, we stored it in our garage throughout the years and I recently learned that most of it needs to be stored in cold storage to ensure the food last longer.

I felt like this experiment would force us to do a few things:

  1. Sort our storage and get an inventory of what we had.

  2. Figure out what food we were lacking and fill in where we needed.

  3. Don’t waste any food we currently had by consuming it before it was rotten.

  4. Make a big life change and start a routine of using and rotating our food storage.

I’m going to dive into what we found out over the month. Long story short, it wasn’t pretty, I don’t have all the answers, and I still have five huge cans of refried beans that will literally be the last thing we scoop directly out of the can with our spoons when we are desolate and living in the apocalypse.


1. Sort our storage and get an inventory of what we had.

This was literally disgusting, eye-opening and pathetic. It’s like weighing yourself in on day 0 of the diet. It kind of shows you where you are now as compared to the grand plans you have. Knowing what you actually have is step one in any circumstance.

We had so many random things. Every time I went to the store I’d grab a can of this and a carton of that. Some candy, some sauces, some herbs. We laid out all of our stuff and I think it could be a pretty cool game to try and concoct something out of thyme, canned peaches, pasta sauce, artichoke hearts and Tang. I’m telling you, we had no flour, no rice, zero oil or fat…and those are just a few of the things you should have on hand. And we definitely didn’t.

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2. Figure out what food we were lacking and fill in where we needed.

Obviously, we had a lot lacking. I knew if push came to shove we could live off Tang for at least two days, right? In all seriousness, I was totally overwhelmed and the more people I talked with, the more opinions I got. “Water first”, “Fire first”, “Cooking supplies!”, “Oil will be like gold!” We kind of dove deep into the food prepper life and I’m contemplating writing a course on it, but for gangsters like us.

The bottom line, you need water, carbs, fat/oil, protein and a way to cook it or prepare it. PICK FOOD YOU LIKE TO EAT! I am never eating those refried beans. Sorry. I can and probably will write a whole course on what you pick, why,where you find the best deals, and how to store it all. But that will be for a different time.

The best strategy we have heard in picking meals and figuring out how much to buy is based on a simple equation:

Step One: How many people are you feeding? (Then add one more person, just to be safe. You never know.)

Step Two: Pick between 3 and 10 dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you want to eat like the ants with their hot cocoa, pick more. The less intricate, the less variety you’ll store. No judgement, you do you. Also, try not to pick things that require a lot of fresh stuff since it may not be available depending on the circumstances.

Step Three: Write out all of the recipes and how much you will need for a single meal to feed the amount of people you have to feed. For example, if one of my breakfasts is oatmeal for my family, I will need:

2 cups of oatmeal
½ cup of sugar
1 scoop powdered milk
1 T cinnamon (8 grams)
4 cups water

Step Four: Now that I know how much it is going to take to feed my family and we will have this meal once per week for a year I need to multiply those ingredients by 52.
2 x 52 = 104 cups oatmeal (One canister of oatmeal has 15 cups so 104/15 = 7 oat canisters)
½ x 52 = 26 cups of sugar (One 10 lb. bag of sugar has 22.5 cups so you need 1-2 10lbs bag)
1 x 52 = 52 scoops of dry milk (1 gallon canister)
1 T x 52 = is about 1 lb of cinnamon
4 x 52 = 208 cups of water (13 gallons of water)

Okay, wow. We can do math! Now, do that for all the recipes you’ve written down and you’ve got it in the bag!

3. Don’t waste any food we currently had by consuming it before it was rotten.

I was hell-bent on trying to consume anything on the verge of going bad as we went through our storage. Again, it was kind of tricky because I had to buy a lot of things to fill in the holes. There was no way I could just eat it and wing it for a whole month. Ammon and I went to a Costco and a few case lot sales, and stocked up with things we knew we needed plus extra to get our journey off to a good start.

I do not recommend doing this experiment in August when literally all the fresh, delicious fruit and vegetables are in peak season. It was painful! For the first two weeks, we used all our fresh stuff first and after that, we had to improvise. We didn’t eat out and we had to be creative.

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4. Make a big life change, and start a routine of using and rotating our food storage.

I randomly got an email from one of you fine people (Read: Amber at Thrive Life). This was during week three of our eating from home-only experiment. She invited me to come and check out Thrive Life and see what it was all about. I had never heard of this company and I never knew how crazy you can get when freeze drying stuff. There is a laboratory where the food scientists experiment on freeze drying everything (I want this job!).

I was blown away. It is all clean food, picked at the peak of ripeness and frozen within HOURS of being picked from the tree. Then it is shipped frozen directly to Thrive Life where it goes directly from the freezer to the freeze dryer. It was magical. When I tasted the grapes, I knew my life had changed. They freeze dry EVERYTHING! Even meat! This may sound like a huge plug, and it really is because Thrive Life is a way of life.

We needed a real system where we would shop from our in-home stock, then buy food on sale or in bulk to replace our in-home stock. I know, it seems excessive and weird, but honestly there isn’t a better way to do it. TRUST ME! If we can prepare good food for bad times now, why not! Food storage doesn’t have to be five gallon buckets of refried beans and tuna fish. Thrive Life has a system already set up where you spend $50 per month or more and it forces you to build up stock. Then you can eat it and replace it, or just store it knowing that you’ll be like the ants when disaster hits.

All in all, I think Thrive Life saved me on this part of the process. I think shopping sales, case lots, and bulk is smart. Organizing it all on paper first will save you thousands of dollars, tons of time, and give you peace of mind. You will know exactly what you need to do and how much you have to last, as long as you have prepped.


So, here is the bottom line. Do you have to prepare for a year? No way! Prep for a month or a week! Whatever you can!  But trust me, getting a little extra food, putting away the $5 chips and buying the $5 bag of rice or refried beans (jk, don’t get those if you don’t like them) and budgeting for a little stockpile will pay off. I promise.

I’m hoping to get a course put together soon with my in-depth details on all of this. But also, this isn’t meant to scare you! Don’t be scared, be prepared. It can be intimidating and frustrating especially when it feels like our budgets can’t fit anything else in. I promise you though, if you’re thoughtful and move a few things around to compensate, it will work out. You will find the extra cash to do this. I know we did when we were first starting out too. Maybe get creative and ask a rich relative if you can plan their whole storage and they can pay for yours. I don’t know, but get creative and it will work out.

Love you so much and can’t wait to hear your stories! Tell me some of your favorite meals you have prepared for or what advice you can give to us if you’re a pro already!

 

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Abi

Childhood Mission Experience

 

 

A few people asked me about our service mission to the Philippines after I posted about it during Human and Child Trafficking awareness month. I figured I’d tell our little story and share this really special and life changing experience with you. I’d love to answer any additional questions if you have any! I also must warn you that I share my testimony of Jesus ChriTst. I know that you may not have the same beliefs as me and I am in no way trying to convince you otherwise. I’m simply sharing my experiences with you and what I feel in my heart. If you disagree, that is 100% okay. I love you and I appreciate you being in my life regardless.

It is not traditional for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to serve missions as a family. There are plenty of young men and women in their early twenties who go throughout the world teaching others about the Atonement of Jesus Christ as proselyting missionaries, but rarely does a whole family just pick up and go on a service mission. There are families who do serve as mission presidents who oversee missions throughout the world, but that is different than just taking your family. In order to go, we had to jump through a lot of hoops to finally get it approved.  We had to have final approval of 7 out of the 12 Apostles. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in a modern day Prophet (President Russell M. Nelson) who receives revelation directly from God to lead the worldwide church. He calls 12 Apostles to help him fulfill their work here, just as Jesus did in his time 2000 years ago. These are the highest callings in the church so it wasn’t just an easy phone call or request. It took months of back and forth. The only two things that my parents requested was to have us serve in a third world country and to do it for just one year. Another point to know about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that the Prophet and Apostles call each missionary individually. They assign every single missionary to where they need to go. It’s not just generated by a computer or by chance where people are to serve.

When we got the call to serve in the Philippines, I had never even heard of it! I was eight when we got the calling. My dad had just sold OGIO, a bag company and had the money to do this with our family. The church usually doesn’t pay for families or members to serve. It was very random and weird, and literally no one had done it before. As I look back at why my parents thought this was the best way to spend their time and money, I am baffled that they chose to serve the Lord and the people of the Philippines. I hope that one day I can teach my children that very humble and charitable lesson in some way. My older brother, Spencer, was a little crazy 14-year old. He had gotten in trouble doing stupid things and given community service hours. I think that also helped my parents decide we needed to go.

When we arrived, my dad was put in charge of the Public Affairs as my mom took the children all of Manila serving in different capacities. We had no prior knowledge or guide book so we just set out each day and asked around to see where people needed us. We went to a few different orphanages, a school for homeless children called START, old folks homes, leprosy colonies, and were always serving at the church and local members there. It was eye-opening, heart-wrenching, soul-building, humbling, love-building and an all around life changing experience for all of us, even as children. It wasn’t just a two-week service trip, we became a part of the community. We didn’t go to an American School, we didn’t go to an English-speaking church. We were homeschooled and tutored for a couple hours per day and we went to church with our Philippine neighbors.

It took at least a month for me to get used to all the new food, the culture, the attitudes, the heat, the smells…everything. Everything was different. As a little girl it was literally a whole new world that I had stepped into. I vividly remember tasting a mango for the first time. It was delicious. The open markets packed with thousands and thousands of people, pig heads lined up along the tables, dried fish, chicken feet, guts hanging from the ceiling. The people! The people were so kind. So giving even though they had nothing.

As we learned quickly, there were many in need, especially the children. We didn’t just snap into loving serving. It took time to adjust. It was hot, annoying, and no time was our own. We were used to living a normal life in America centered around our own needs instead of the needs of others. It didn’t take too long though. We recognized how blessed we were and learned that serving truly is the fastest and best way to feel true peace, love, and joy. As I wrote on my Instagram post earlier, the mothers would hurt their children to get more money when begging. One of the babies had been stuffed into a large pineapple can and thrown into a dumpster. He had been found a few days later and dropped off at the orphanage. When he came in we were speechless. It’s hard to understand why a mother would do this to her baby. When basic needs are not met, we turn into animals. Food, water, shelter; these needs are not common among many people throughout the world even today. How can we love when we are concerned about survival? It’s not easy.

Not only did we see destruction and pain, we saw miracle after miracle as the year passed along. I remember Christmas in the Philippines. It was the one day we had as just our family. We had a quiet night planned, a nativity, some Christmas songs, nothing too big, but it was so special and calm. Shortly before we were going to eat and then go to bed, we heard a knock on the door and answered it. There were at least 50 people at the door caroling! We invited them in, opened all the windows and sang Christmas carols together as one of our neighbors strummed his guitar. My mom hustled to the kitchen, she knew that none of them had eaten. There was no way our meal set for six would feed 50+ people. She made a huge batch of tang juice, said a prayer in her heart that everyone would be fed this Christmas night, and invited everyone to grab some food. More and more people started coming in from the streets as they heard us singing hymns from the open windows. We spent hours into the night singing, eating, laughing, and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. As everyone started leaving my mom walked into the kitchen to see the kitchen table full of food still. Over 100 people had eaten! As tears streamed down her face, she packed a full plate of leftovers for every family to take home.  It was truly a miracle.

I could tell hundreds of stories of our time there, all the lessons we learned, the things we did and saw. As I reminisce and think of that time in my life I can’t help but feel so much love. This world is crazy. This world is terrible. There is so much poverty, hate, negativity, and pain that it is hard to see what it is all for. Why is this happening? What is the point of it all!? My answer is simple. It is because this life is a time for us to learn to refine who we are even in the face of adversity. Life is not meant to be fair or easy. It’s not meant to be perfect. We are meant to pass through sorrow so that we may feel joy, to pass through struggle to find success, to feel sadness so we can feel happiness. I believe that with my heart even though it may not make sense. I know that there is something more than just living and dying. I know that there is a plan for us that transcends this earthly existence. I feel it.

I wouldn’t write this to a bunch of strangers if I didn’t believe it or know it from experiences in my life that lead me to where I am now or the person I have become. I am nothing without the faith I have in my Savior Jesus Christ and my relationship with my Heavenly Parents. To know me fully and understand why I do what I’m doing, you have to know that it is in the name of God and His light. I hope you can find peace through your source of light and truth. These times are difficult y’all. I don’t know how I would maneuver such choppy waters without His guiding light. Love to all of you no matter your belief, circumstance, situation, or creed!

Family

Giving Back Never Felt So Good!

You won’t want to miss out on this once in a lifetime FLASH SALE from Tortilla Familia!

Did you know that Tortilla Familia will be donating 10% of their proceeds during this limited Flash Sale to O.U.R Rescue to help rescue children from Sex Trafficking? I’m telling you authentic tortillas at your doorstep and giving back never felt so rewarding.

To redeem this limited offer, follow these simple steps below.

  1. Visit Tortilla Familia HERE!

  2. Use the code ‘ABIAYRES’ AT CHECKOUT and save 10%, and also get 3 dozen free tortillas automatically.

    OR

    Use the code ‘ABIAYRES’ when you’re setting up a subscription and save a total of 20% on your first subscription order…and get 3 dozen free tortillas.

  3. Don’t forget that Tortilla Familia is also giving away 25 prizes worth $25 each. You must have an active subscription to be entered into this giveaway!  Tortilla Familia will pick the winners at the end of July from our active tortilla subscribers.

    Learn more about O.U.R Rescue mission here.

Food

Tortilla Familia – June Recipes

Tortillas are life. Tortilla Familia literally has a subscription that delivers fresh homemade tortillas to your door each month. Not only are they the best tasting, they are legit from Mexico! I’ve been getting endless questions about who Tortilla Familia is and why are they so amazing. Here is all the information you need to know about these authentic amazing tortillas

About Lamar and Chelsea Innes:

We live in Southern Arizona; we went the traditional way of getting a degree and finding a job. That job sent us to Douglas Arizona a tiny town on the border. We wouldn’t have started this business if we never moved there. The tortilla factory is in Agua Prieta, Sonora Mexico right on the other side of the border.

The factory delivers the tortillas to us at our home twice a week and the tortillas are made the day before and morning of delivery, so we can have the freshest tortillas to send out. We have shipped over 11,000 authentic packaged tortillas to every state in the United States. The best part about Tortilla Familia is that we are the only tortilla company to import tortillas from Mexico and ship them throughout the United States.

Discount:

Tortilla Familia created a discount code “ABIAYRES” that will save you 10% on any item on your purchase from the website. This discount code can also be coupled with a subscription at 10% off. So, you will save 20% on your first order when you setup your subscription. After that the subscription will be 10% off for the life of the subscription.

Instructions to keeping them fresh and delicious:

1.     Try a tortilla right from the bag. Once you get your tortillas you want to separate all the tortillas one at a time and put them into a gallon size freezer bag.

2.     You then can freeze ones you won’t eat in the next month and put the other ones in the fridge. When you are ready to pull tortillas out of the freezer, you can defrost them in the fridge or on the counter.

3.     When you’re ready to warm up the tortillas for a mean you can warm them up on a skillet/pan or even in the microwave if you’re in a hurry.

 

Jane’s Enchiladas Recipe:

6 Chicken breast halves

1 T. Garlic Minced

2 t Cumin

2 t Chili Powder

1 Can cream of chicken soup

¼ c. Sour cream

1 Can chopped green chilis

1 t Chili powder

1 t. Salt

½ t. Pepper

2 c. Cheddar cheese (grated)

10 – 12 Flour or Corn Tortillas

1 can Refried beans (16 oz.)

1 Can red or green enchilada sauce (24 oz.)

3 c. Monterey Jack cheese



Tortilla Familia

 

Instructions:

Season chicken with garlic, cumin, and chili powder. Let marinated for 30 minutes. Sauté and shred finely.

In a large bowl, mix shredded chicken with cream of chicken soup, sour cream, green chilis, chili powder, salt, pepper and cheese.

Lay out tortillas and spread 1 ½ T. refried beans and 1/3 cup chicken mixture.

Roll up and top with green enchilada sauce and Monterey jack cheese.

Bake at 350 for 45 – 60 minutes. Serve with shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, rice, and beans.

Family

Thursday Throwdown (Ammon Here)

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Hello ladies and at most six gentlemen (including myself). That’s right, this is Ammon at the helm this week. And I must say that you all are the coolest cats and kittens (Oh come on, how can I not say that?). Seriously though, it’s you that makes social media such a fun environment. Your inclusion in our crazy life enhances all of the little things and we are so happy that you have come for the ride.

Last week we had my little brother, Nick on our live car date. He is an aspiring musician, and was so excited to share with us his joy of music and creativity. Nick has a talent in being true to himself and pursuing what he likes. Honestly, he is kind of an odd duck, but he doesn’t alter himself to please others’ perception of normality. The number one thing I take away from Nick, it’s that he is unequivocally himself.


 

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We traveled to Boise to see our good friends Jasmine and Aaron, and their little family. We both have five year old boys. One is obsessed with Avengers and the other is obsessed with Pokemon. When they got together, they couldn’t agree to play with Avengers or Pokemon. They naturally found the middleground and played Jurassic park all weekend. When we left, Taggart said that Lawson was his new best friend.

How funny are we as people? When we think we have nothing in common we tend to not be friends. Once we find middle ground, that is when everything changes. The commonalities are only the beginning though, once your relationship is established, your commonalities and relationships can grow in unique ways.

What did you do over Memorial Day!? Are you slowly coming out of quarantine or is your state still in lockdown? Summer seems like it will be a little different this year so tell us what you’re doing to spice it up!

As I wrap things up here, I think I want to summarize my thoughts with two things, “Don’t be afraid to be yourself,” and “When making new friends, find common ground.” When getting to know someone, you may find out that they too like the same weird thing that you might shy away from showing. Perhaps you have a new best friend right around the corner.

Oh and last thing! We are launching the Homesteading like a Gangster course in their own sections on Monday, June 1! You can buy whatever sections interest you most rather than buying the whole course. Also, if you are subscribed to Abi’s email list, you will get an extra discount on Monday so sign up and stay tuned!

Thank you for reading my incoherent rambling. I’ll see you at the next car date.

Ammon

Abi

The Ayres (Airs)

Family is and always will be number one. At the end of the day, the one thing that really matters is making sure my husband and kids know deep within their souls that I truly love them. I never could have imagined the life I’m living right now, it is so much better than what I thought I wanted. The craziness, the yelling, the fights, the love, the friendships… all of it! It’s my greatest blessing to have this beautiful family I can call mine.

Cookbook

Cookbook for Jane

You should know right from the start that I made this cookbook more for me than I did for my mom, Jane. I think we were both sick of the annual Thanksgiving phone call when I asked for the recipe for Niva’s Yams. And I don’t know how many times I have called her early Saturday morning for the sinfully delicious Buttermilk Syrup recipe.

Most of these dishes didn’t start out as her original recipes. But she has made them so many times, switched up the ingredients throughout the years, and morphed them into her own masterpieces. (You know it’s really “her recipe” when the recipe card is covered in notes and comments!)

This book is a legacy to our family and includes starters, salads, soups, main dishes and a chapter for desserts and a chapter for cookies. It is the basic family style cookbook with the easiest, most delicious meals.

My mother loves to serve and feels fulfilled by making people feel good. One way she has done that for literally thousands of people is through her cooking.

Her love of cooking and serving others has rubbed off a bit on me. Ever since I was a little toddler, she enlisted me in helping her make chocolate chip cookies and helping host family dinner parties. A love of cooking also runs deep in my genes thanks to my Grandma Helen and Nana, who also have many recipes in this book.

I have scrambled and searched to find all of my mom’s favorites. I have taken recipes from friends, family, books, websites, and dishes she has recreated from restaurants around the world. Thank you to the people who probably have no idea that their recipes have been enjoyed in the Taggart home for years.

This book, along with her life, is filled with friends, family, and meals that have brought so much joy and unforgettable memories.  From traditional holiday feasts to everyday go-tos, I chose the best of the best from her collection. I hope you enjoy these delectable dishes as much as our family has!

Cheers!
Abi

Abi

Hello, I’m Abi Ayres aka #Carol4President

My name is Abi and I got a bad haircut in July 2019 that went viral. Since then, it’s been a total rollercoaster ride figuring out how to connect on social media with thousands of people, raise 3 crazy kids, stay real/relatable and live a fulfilling life. Social Media land can be very draining, toxic, frustrating, envious, and all the negative things wrapped up in filters and likes. It can also be a place of connection, love, service, giving, and value. I want to bring the positives into your life. I want to highlight the good and show people that if used right, social media can be a tool to a brighter, happier life.

Some would say I’m a comedian, others might say I’m a hot mess mom who makes them feel better about themselves, some say I’m a jack of all trades, but really, this is just the real lifestyle blog you never knew you needed. Normalizing real life on social, laughing as much as I can, and choosing to look for the good!

So glad you’re here!

Abi