Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Review and Blogging Goals for 2012

2011, it's been a good and busy year for us! Actually, the last 4 years have been full of events and changes. Let me show you what I mean.....

2008- Got Married
2009-Had a baby
2010-Had another baby
2011-Bought our first house.

Whew!!! Lots of major life changes have been going on. I started blogging back in 2009 but, over the course of this year, my blog has grown from being very small, to a bit bigger (yet still, pretty the grand scheme of the blog world). I've thoroughly enjoyed documenting our daily adventures here and *meeting* some other moms along the way. One of my highlights has been finding a local MOPS group for a lady in a different part of the country. She went to her first meeting and said it was great. If I can encourage just one mom to get connected with other moms, I feel like I'm making a small change in this world and that makes me happy.

Here's a list of the most popular posts that I wrote in 2011:

As I anticipate the year ahead, I don't have any major resolutions that I'm going to try and keep. Instead, I hope to continue to become a better mommy, a better wife and grow my relationship with God. I want to make taking care of myself more of a priority. Somehow over the last few years, taking care of ME has slipped to the side. I truly believe that I can be a wife and stay at home mommy and not loose myself along the way. Now it's time for me to live out that belief and start taking better care of myself. 

I've also been contemplating blogging and wondering if I have any "blogging goals" for the new year. I've decided that I don't have any goals or resolutions for blogging but, I might be changing the direction of my blog a bit. Our family life is very dear and personal to me so, I might be sharing less about our daily life and more recipe and craft adventures that I take on. Our memories are precious and something that I love to document but, like I said, they are precious and they are mine. Lately, I've become slightly uncomfortable with lots of people reading about our daily life. The days with my children are so sweet that I don't want to ever sell them short by sharing them with whoever chooses to read this. 

I'll still be sharing pictures and I'm sure I'll still be writing about daily life because I almost can't help it. I've got the blogging bug, and I don't think it'll be going away anytime soon. Most likely, I'll be sharing more recipes and craft ideas and less about our personal life. I also want to get to know my camera better so, I might be doing that "Project 365". 

As far as our personal life goes, we have no plans to buy a house or have any babies during 2012. Of course, God is bigger than all of our plans and His ways are unknown but, I'm hoping that this next year will be a very special time of enjoying our family of 4, continuing to make our new house our home, and enjoying everyday with our kids. 

Happy New Year!

A rainbow for new beginnings...taken back in 2008, way before I had a good camera. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rainbow ('ish) Pancakes

At our house, Friday night is usually breakfast for dinner. It's easy, everyone likes it and the possibilities are endless. Tonight I decided to not get too adventurous and thought I'd stick with good 'ole pancakes, eggs and fruit on the side. We ended up being out of pancake mix so, I found a recipe online that we actually really liked and for being homemade, it was also super easy. If you're interested in making your pancakes homemade, you can find the recipe HERE. Otherwise, just go ahead and keep on using your mix from the box, no one will judge...a pancake is a pancake, right? 

Anyway, to mix it up a bit, I went with a rainbow theme for our pancakes tonight. I ended up being out of red food coloring so, I didn't create a perfect rainbow but, coloring the pancake batter was fun and the kids liked the colors also. 
Just divide the pancake mix into bowls, color your little heart out (there isn't a right or wrong way to do this) and then cook them up like normal. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pumpkin Apple Bread

We hosted Christmas this year and although we had an awesome time, the thing that wasn't so awesome is all the tasty and un-healthy sweets that were leftover, after everyone was gone. I'm guessing anyone that reads this can relate to the plethora of delicious things, that stare at you, just begging to be eaten, during this time of year. 

Sure, the first few days after Christmas were great. A cinnamon roll here, a left over brownie there, oh and those delicious cookies and candied popcorn brought over by my Uncle's friend. Ok, I'll have just one more...... But then, they start to make you feel sick and a little later, even looking at the junk is starting to annoy you. 

So, yesterday afternoon, I did what had to be done, I threw it all away. Yes, I felt very wasteful but, I figured that having to buy new pants would be more wasteful than throwing a bunch of (delicious) sweets into the trash. 

Today the kids and I have had a wonderful morning at home. We baked this healthy Pumpkin Apple Bread 
(recipe to follow) and then Judah requested a smoothie for lunch. Even though both of my children are a very healthy size, I still feel guilty if I'm not feeding them well enough. After all, what they eat is what fuels them. I want them to have good fuel, know what I mean??

Step One: If you have a baking helper, make him a very tall baker's hat. It just makes things more fun. 

Pumpkin Apple Muffins
     Dry Ingredients:
2 Cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup raisins
1 chopped apple
    Wet Ingredients:
1 cup honey
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 cup pureed pumpkin
2 eggs

Pre-heat oven to 350. Stir dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Stir wet ingredients together in a separate bowl and then stir into the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for approx. 55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The After-Christmas Letdown

Last night, I sat down to update the header of my blog and ended up messing the whole thing up. Apparently the amount of photos that I'm aloud to upload has been exceeded and now blogger won't let me upload a picture for my header. It was 1am and I decided that being rested is more important than having a pretty blog so, I'll be figuring that out, when time allows. In the mean time, at least I still have a boring title on my good ole' blog. 

Today I'm somewhere in between content and in need of direction. The Christmas season was wonderful but, when it's over I feel like....ok, what now? All the baking has been done, the presents have been wrapped and given, the traditions have been celebrated. There are things that we wanted to do and ran out of time for...those can wait until next year. So, what now? Clean up, organize and put away is a given but, that's not very exciting. It's cloudy and dreary outside and it's weird to not be preparing for anything at this moment. 

I stepped outside yesterday to get the mail and noticed that the bulbs I planted have come up. I had just been thinking about how I wish it was spring time so, it was interesting to see that my bulbs and I are on the same page. Unfortunately, I think the problem is that I didn't plant them deep enough. Instead of being excited to see them grow, I'm going to get some good soil, cover them up and make them wait a little longer until they are good and ready to come out. 

I think it's time for me to step back, slow down and focus on what 2012 should be like. What about you, do you feel a little let down after Christmas is over? How do you deal with this?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Time is Here (and gone!)

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas with a quiet family morning at home. We had cinnamon rolls, opened presents, assembled presents and played. Later in the afternoon all of my family came over and we celebrated again. Our tradition is to go around and open our gifts, one at a time. The bigger our family gets, the longer this takes but, I wouldn't change it! We had a delicious ham dinner with Sally's scalloped potatoes, other sides and way too many desserts.  

Our kids slept in on Christmas morning, I'm guessing this is the last year that will happen! I took this picture before all the chaos started. The piece of bed you see is just part of Judah's new bed. We didn't want to have all of it sitting in the living room so, we just brought one piece in to show him. 

 Paisley giving her new baby a kiss. 


 Even though I love decorating for Christmas, I was ready to get the tree out of our house this morning. Jeremiah and Judah took it out of the house for me and then had fun throwing it off of our deck together.
 Christmas, we love to see you come and what can I say...we love to see you go! It's been fun!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas the Night Before Christmas!

Today we had our Christmas with my husband's family. The kids had a great time playing together and opening up presents.

We went to church this evening for our candle light service and when we came home, we all got to open one present. It's a tradition to get new jammies on Christmas Eve. Rosie the dog doesn't wear new jammies so, she got a new pink doggy bed.

 You can tell it's been a long, fun and busy day by Paisley's crazy hair. 
 I love my babies in their new footie pajamas. Judah hasn't had footie jammies in so long so, it brings back memories, seeing him wear these. 
Cookies have been baked and set out for Santa. 

 We've had a wonderful Christmas Eve and I hope you have too. Tomorrow we will celebrate with a little bit of Santa excitement but, I also want to remember the REAL reason we are celebrating! 

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

Oh Holy Night-Bokeh Stlye

There is no way that I'm even close to being an amazing photographer but, that doesn't stop me from having fun with photography and I'm not afraid of posting my amateur photos here.  Somehow tonight I stumbled across some information on "Bokeh"  and next thing you know, I'm crouching around our tree in all sorts of funny positions, zooming in and out on ornaments. 

First I'll give you the definition of "Bokeh" curtosusy of wikipedia. "In photography, bokeh is the blur,or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image, or "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light." Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting—"good" and "bad" bokeh, respectively. Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions. Bokeh is often most visible around small background highlights, such as specular reflections and light sources, which is why it is often associated with such areas.[3] However, bokeh is not limited to highlights; blur occurs in all out-of-focus regions of the image."

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth
.A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hears the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Today We....and Stampin' Up WINNER!

*We went to ~two~ different Birthday parties. One of which, Judah and I attended by ourselves. I told him we were on a "hot date" and he said "no mommy, we are on a cold date". Oh, I love that boy!
*Neither one of my children took naps.....sigh. That hardly ever happens.
*I made fudge.
*I made cinnamon rolls.
*We all were very excited that Christmas is almost here.
*I felt like my list is still quite long but,also felt peaceful knowing that everything God wants me to do, will get done.

Now, onto something that I'm super excited about...drawing the winner of the Stampin' Up Cookie Stamp!
Sally K., you are the winner! I even have the picture to show that I didn't cheat. I'll give your contact information to Stampin' Up and they'll send it right out to you!!!

Almond Joy No-Bake Cookies

Just a few minutes ago, I wrote a post about my Dad and his funny wish for No-Bake Cookies for Christmas. I shared the Rocky Road No-Bake Cookie recipe that I created, specifically for him, inspired by his favorite ice cream to have when I was growing up. 

Well, making just one No-Bake Cookie recipe for him didn't seem good enough so, today I came up with a second recipe, inspired by one of his favorite candies. Just in case you happen to like chocolate, almonds and is the Almond Joy No-Bake cookie. 

Almond Joy No-Bake Cookies
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups quick-cooking oats
2/3 cup crushed almonds
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut (plus extra for sprinkling on top)

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in oats, crushed almonds and coconut. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper and lightly press a small amount of coconut onto the tops of each cookie.  Let cool until hardened.

Rocky Road No-Bake Cookies

About a week ago, I made a quick phone call to my Dad to get Christmas ideas from him. He didn't pick up so, I just left him a message, asking for him to think of a few things that he'd like for Christmas. When he called me back, he listed off a few things, one of which was my No-Bake Cookies....a little strange, right? Well, he's my Dad and he's practical and sentimental at the same time. I started making No-Bake cookies when I was about 10 years old so, that must be the reason that he wants them for Christmas.

I started off making these the original way that I've always made them and then half way through cooking them, I remembered that growing up, his favorite ice cream was always Rocky Road. Therefor, I switched things up a bit and now we have the Rocky Road No-Bake Cookie.

Rocky Road No-Bake Cookies
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup crushed walnuts
1 cup mini marshmallows

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in oats, walnuts and marshmallows. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper. Let cool until hardened.


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