Friday, November 30, 2012

Makin' Lemonade

This week has been one of those sink or swim, go big or go home, make the most of it or get-real-down kinds of weeks. I'd like to say that although it hasn't been perfect, the kids and I've been makin' lots of lemonade. Everyday this week, I've parented solo, all the way straight through bedtime. I'm married to one of the greatest guys in the world and sometimes, he has to work like....a lot. It's just the name of the game for us and although it could be better, I also know that it could also be a lot worse. 
And so, because it's almost being December (woo! hoo!), we've been decorating Gingerbread houses. 
This kit is from my secret sister. What an awesome gift, isn't it? The kids and I had the best time with this!
Their houses even stayed together for longer than 5 minutes but, then they got a little too excited, started spreading the icing on a little too rough and the houses went smash. No biggie, though. This was so much fun. At this point, we're the kind of family that decorates our houses and then eats them. In my book, decorated houses that look pretty and are un-eaten are highly overrated. 
Lazy mornings with Ovaltine, Curious George and my new Christmas pillows have been part of the routine this week.

This morning called for a special breakfast....just because. Have you ever tried mashing a banana or two into your regular pancake batter? Honestly, it makes the pancakes SO good and I love that it helps make them a touch healthier. Top them with butter and a few Christmas sprinkles and your kids will definitely feel like it's a special breakfast. 
Letters to Santa have been written and I'm sure they'll be written again and again. This year, Judah did that J all by himself and then I helped him write the rest of his name. He drew what he wants to get for Christmas: a  lunch box and a remote control firetruck. 
Part of making the most of our week has been trying to be flexible. One night, I was flat-out-can-hardly-function tired and so we drove around, listening to Christmas music and we looked at Christmas lights. Afterwards, we picked up a pizza and then came home and ate dinner together. I feel like sometimes it's best to simply make the most of the moment and create memories, in times that could otherwise be challenging. 
As I think forward to a few months from now, I realize that when we have one of these longer weeks, it's going to be a bit different with a new little one. With a small baby, the way we make our lemonade is going to change. Most likely, we won't run around quite so much. In the mean time, this is the way we've made the most of our week and celebrated the beginning of the Christmas Season.

I hope you've had a wonderful week, sweet friends. Have a lovely weekend.

Angela



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Burlap Advent Calendar with our 2012 Advent Activity List

The Christmas Season is for celebrating, making memories, giving, strengthening family relationships and embracing the real meaning of Christmas. Hopefully this List of Advent Activities will help us dig a little bit further into those areas. 

When I created this calendar, I knew that I wanted it to be a few different things: Inexpensive, Simple and I wanted the activities on the calendar to be flexible. The last thing that I wanted is for this to be another thing on my "to-do list" or something that I could stress over. 

I started by sewing 25 little pockets of burlap. Burlap can be bought by the yard for something like $2.99/yard at your local fabric store. It's super versatile and cheap.
Next, with white acrylic paint, I stenciled days 1-25 onto the burlap pockets. Our Advent List will begin on December 1st and the last pocket will be opened on Christmas morning. After the paint dried, I hot glued sparkly white loops of ribbon onto the backs of the pockets. 
This advent calendar could be hung on a wall, pinned onto a decorated cork board or the pockets could even hang on your Christmas tree. For us, our pockets are hanging on this little tree that I found at a garage sale last summer. 

Inside of each pocket is a small piece of paper with an activity on it. Here's the thing that's making this work for us: The papers can be switched around. The last thing I wanted was for this to be a rigid list of things we must do each day so, when I filled the pockets, I did my best at guessing what we'd be doing each day but here's the kicker......I'm the Mom and I have the master list of the activities. If one day I feel like the kids should watch a special Christmas movie, I'll put that piece of paper in the pocket for that day. If another day, I feel like a Christmas Craft sounds fun, that'll be the paper for that day. It's all about being flexible, making memories, and having fun. 

Here's the list of our activities:
So, what about you? What are some of the things that your family enjoys doing during the month of December? What are you looking forward to the most?
Angela

Linking up here. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Monday and 22 Weeks Pregnant

This morning was the frostiest one that we've had this year. When I woke up, it reminded me of when I was younger, and I'd talk myself into thinking that the frost was snow. When it's cold enough and the frost heavily coats the outside world, it really does look like a light dusting of snow and that makes my heart beat just a little faster. I swear, I really do belong in a state like Alaska or something. 
Before preschool Judah wanted me to take a picture of him with his little Christmas tree that we have in his bedroom and his new vest. The vest is from his wonderful cousins....who really aren't cousins but, I'm too tired to figure out exactly what they are so, we'll just call them cousins. I know, it sounds so up-river but, I promise it really isn't. He loves this vest- like a ton and as soon as he saw his preschool teacher he said "Hi! You've never seen me in this vest before!!"

With my cell phone, I quickly snapped about 10 photos of him, the vest and his tiny tree but, as I went through them tonight, I realized zero of them turned out. This is the best of the bunch. Seriously. Blah. He's still cute....don't you think?
Our Morning was filled with a visit from a sweet friend who even brought me my FIRST Egg Nog Latte of the season! It was so good to catch up with her and I hope we can do it again soon. After preschool, my sister and her boys came over for lunch and a short visit. 

After they went home for naps, Judah took his nap while Paisley spent her naptime singing away in her crib. Nope, she never fell asleep but, at least she was happy and at least she's still in a crib. Once in awhile, she decides to skip her nap and on those days, I'm particularly thankful that she's happy, confined and that she still gets a quiet time. Does that sound bad? I hope not. 

While they napped, I made these Peppermint Bark Scones to bring to MOPS. I hope the ladies love them. 
For Week 22, I honestly feel like I've got pretty much nothing to share....not even a half decent photo. Right now I'm promising myself that I'll do better with the picture next week because this just isn't cutting it. Actually, it's down right embarrassing. Sweatpants, old sweatshirt, fuzzy hair. This is me after I've tucked my kids in. Please tell me you can relate. 
As I've been thinking about Week 22, I remembered a post that I wrote when I was 21 Weeks Pregnant with Paisley. This post is a short list of things that I love about the second trimester and it pretty much describes how I'm feeling right now. 

How I'm Feeling: Good! I still feel sick most mornings but, it usually passes pretty quickly after I've eaten something. I've noticed that when I eat more sugar/higher-glycemic foods, I tend to feel more sick. Obviously, with Thanksgiving, I've been eating more junk so, lately my sickness has been a little worse. 

What I'm Eating/Craving: Anything spicy sounds amazing. Thank God I don't get heartburn. 

How I'm Sleeping: Really well. Some nights I haven't even been waking up to pee. 

What I'm Wearing: Lately I've been obsessed with leggings and dresses. Nothing is more comfy so, that's what I wear a lot. I still have a few regular pairs of pants that fit but, it's almost time to give in and break out the maternity pants.

Emotions/Thoughts:Right now, I'm feeling really excited to know what this baby's name will be. We aren't even close to deciding because finding names that we both like seems really hard. I know there isn't any rush but, it will be fun when all of these sweet little kicks have a name behind them. 

This week, I had a chance to try a new product, made especially for pregnant women or women who are planning on conceiving. Premama is a flavor-less prenatal vitamin drink complete with key nutrients including DHA, Folic Acid, and Iron. Packed with Ginger, Vitamin B6 and Magnesium to help moms with nausea and digestive relief.
If you're pregnant or you're planning on becoming pregnant and you're looking for an awesome alternative to the prenatal horse pills, Premama is definitely something that you should try. 

To learn more about Premama, visit their website or their facebook page. 

Angela

In exchange for the review of Premama, I received a 30 Day Supply. As always, these opinions are entirely mine. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree!

Long before we were even parents, going to this tree farm became a tradition. I think we even went here together when we were dating and every year since then, it's been even more fun. Christmas is so special and when you add kids to the magic of the season, the special moments get multiplied.

Today we visited with the donkeys, sat on the miniature train, drank hot cocoa and of course, hiked around in search of the perfect tree. 
The kids were so excited to be there and we sure had a beautiful day for it!
We found our tree quickly but, we weren't ready to go home yet so, we let the kids play around for awhile. It was too perfect of a day to be in a hurry. 
After Jeremiah sawed the tree down, Judah and Paisley helped him carry it to the car. They loved every second of it and watching them melted me just a little. What's really weird is when we go get our tree next year, we'll be a family of 5.
One of our traditions is to get each child a special ornament each year and write their name and the year on it. This tradition makes me so happy because I know that someday each of these special ornaments will go with them when they move into their own homes. 

To be honest, writing that last sentence made my legs feel slightly numb. It's hard to think that our tiny ones will someday go with their own families to get their own trees. I guess it's just one more reason why it's important to eat up every single moment with them while they're still young. 

And so, each year they get a new ornament and today Judah felt like a very big boy, standing on the ladder and hanging his. 
Tonight our house smells like Christmas Tree and the lights from the tree are the only ones needed.

I'm so glad the Christmas season is here. How did you spend your Saturday? I hope it was wonderful!
And just because I can now officially say it.....Merry Christmas!
Angela

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful Thinking

The day started with a little boy gently shaking my bed, quietly letting his Momma know that he's awake, that he stayed in bed past his 7am wake up time and that indeed, it was time for me to start my day as well. Normally I'm up before them, with a cup of coffee under my belt (not literally). It helps me feel like I'm one step ahead of the day and without fail, it helps life go more smoothly.

Last night however, I stayed up far too late, sewing an Advent Calendar....that is still waiting to be finished. As the beginning of our day started much too quickly for my taste, I found myself complaining more than I should. I'm not sure what turned things around but, as the day progressed my foggy brain and negative attitude drifted away.
Cinnamon pine cones and candles...little tastes of Christmas that are beginning to fill our home.

As I've prepared for our contribution to the two Thanksgiving celebrations that we'll be joining tomorrow, the awareness of how incredibly blessed we are has been welling up inside of me. No, life isn't always perfect and yes, there are many things in this broken world that make our hearts ache. There are things we don't understand, things we wish were different and things that we want to change. But, blessings? Oh yes....we have so many to count.

As I baked my pie this afternoon and stirred the fudge, I tried to mentally compile a list of the things I'm most grateful for. At the top of my list, I'm thankful for God's grace. So many times I could have gone the wrong direction and my life would be so different. Repeatedly, He has pulled me back on track and saved me! How grateful I am for that! I'm thankful that I'm able to blog openly about my faith. I'm thankful for our wonderful church, that we prayed for, for a long time.
A little piece of Christmas that we brought home with us from Leavenworth.

I'm thankful for my husband, for his job and for how hard he works for our family. I'm thankful that I'm able to stay home with our kids and spend these sweet days with them, while they're young.

I'm so thankful for my Judah and my Paisley. Without fail, every single day they make me laugh and smile. I love them so much it makes me heart hurt!

I'm thankful for my sister, my Mom, my Dad and everyone else in our family. I'm thankful for my nephews and for the amazing friendships that they have with my kids.

My list could go on and on and for that, I am grateful. So, what I want to know is....What are YOU thankful for? Please, share!
Happy Thanksgiving, sweet readers. Enjoy your day tomorrow. Slow down, be thankful and share it.
Angela

Monday, November 19, 2012

Winter Vacation to Leavenworth

Snow.
3 nights.
Beautiful.
Coffee drank.
Meals shared.
Games played.
Movies watched.
8 adults and 5 children.
German Sausages eaten.
1 awesome vacation house.
2 beautiful towns: Leavenworth and Wenatchee.
3 little boys who got to share a bedroom...loved it...and slept.




 {The mustard variety at the Munchen Haus-an amazing German restaurant in Leavenworth. A dream come true for this pregnant mustard lover.}
 {A few photos from inside of the Kris Kringl store.....where it's Christmas all year long.}







Thank you, Leavenworth for being so magical.
Thank you, mountain passes for being covered with snow, yet clear enough to drive over.
Thank you, Munchen Haus for having the best variety of mustard that any gal could ask for.
Thank you, Starbucks for having your BOGO Holiday drink special while we happened to be on vacation.
Thank you, sweet kids of mine for having the cutest rosey cheeks when you play in the snow.
Thank you, "family" for being so fun to vacation with.
Let's do it again next year, okay?
Angela

Saturday, November 17, 2012

White Chocolate Orange Burst Cookies

For the last day or so, it's been all about getting ready for vacation around here. While rocking out to Kari Jobe, Ella Fitzgerald and various Christmas music, I've been cleaning like crazy, baking and packing. Is it just me or does it feel so nice to leave with a clean house? 

While I'm busy, trying to do the things that grown-ups need to do, the kids are super excited and bouncing off the walls. They're looking forward to the possibility of snow, the long days spent with their cousins and the hot cocoa that we my husband promised we'd buy them on our way down. I think he forgot about potty stops when he made that promise......

Today I baked a new cookie recipe for us to bring and I'm excited to share it with you all. I kind of fell in love with these this afternoon and I hope you will, too. These cookies are moist, filled with the perfect taste of white chocolate, followed by a hint of orange. I'm glad I texted my sister and told her I was making them, or else I might have eaten far too many.  
White Chocolate Orange Burst Cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter (softened)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light. Beat in egg, vanilla and fresh squeezed orange juice. 
Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Stir in orange zest and chips.
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for approx. 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown around edges. Cool completely on wire rack. 
Recipe is adapted from Guittard.
Angela

Friday, November 16, 2012

Delicious and Healthy Breakfast Cookies

Hey guys! I'm popping in really quick to tell you to come on over to "Or So She Says....." and visit me there. My kids and I have been obsessed with healthy breakfast cookies lately and today I'm sharing one of our favorite recipes. Go check it out here!
Have a lovely Friday, friends!
Angela

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Life Supplemented...WannaBeWell App

Since the first day that I found out I was pregnant, having a healthy pregnancy has been a huge priority of mine. I'll be honest and say it isn't always easy though! Sometimes I just want to eat junk because frankly, healthy food doesn't always sound good. Other times, I go to bed without remembering to take my vitamins. For the most part, I'm happy with how I'm doing but, I can definitely use anything that will encourage me to eat better, take my vitamins daily and be healthier for myself and for my little ones.

Recently I learned about a free new phone app that's perfect for the busy Mom who's trying to make her health a priority. With the WannaBeWell app, you can:

•Create your own personalized Wellness Coach by choosing from a roster of customizable characters who will deliver daily motivational and educational messages to keep you moving towards a healthier lifestyle.

•Receive ‘Healthy Mission’ tasks given by the Wellness Coach and collect trophies for accomplishing the tasks. 

•Explore the Supplement Resource Center, which offers users information about vitamins and other dietary supplements in a simple and easy to understand format. It houses thousands of articles and insights that help users make an informed dietary decision. 

•Set up reminders to take — or restock — your supplements.






















The WannaBeWell mobile application from Life…supplemented is a comprehensive wellness resource that aims to educate, activate and motivate those looking to live a healthier life. The approach focuses on three pillars: healthy diet, vitamins and other supplements, and regular exercise.

The Life....supplemented website is also a great resource for anyone who wants to optimize their personal health. 
The app is totally free, and a great tool for helping you make your health a priority. Go check it out!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Life…supplemented. As a thank you for participating, I received a $25 promotional item, and a $25 donation was made on my behalf to Vitamin Angels.”
Angela

Apple Pie Pockets

When I was a little girl, less than 3 years old, my parents lived in a one room cabin that my Dad built. In that little cabin, they had a little stove and on that little wood-burning stove, my Mom often cooked Apple Pies for my Dad. I helped her make those Apple Pies in our big cast iron dutch oven and to this day, Apple Pie reminds me of that sweet memory.

I've never made an Apple Pie in a dutch oven but, I would like to try that sometime. I do, however, love making traditional pies and of course, Pie Pockets. These individual pieces of goodness are filled with a traditional apple cinnamon filling and the crust is homemade, flaky and soft.

Making Pie Pockets is easy and the filling options are endless so, use your imagination and have fun.

Apple Pie Pocket Filling:
3 apple, peeled and diced finely
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. melted butter

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and then set aside.
Crust:
2 cups white flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
3 tbsp. ice cold water

In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and butter with a pastry cutter. Mix with the pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add in ice cold water and gently stir, until a dough forms. Flip the dough onto a floured surface and roll out.
Use a cookie cutter or a glass to cut the dough into circles. Lay the circles for the bottom of the pie pockets on a cookie sheet and scoop the pie filling onto the dough. Put the other circles of dough on top of the filling and seal down the edges of the Pie Pockets with a fork.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for approx. 25 minutes or until the Pie Pockets are starting to lightly brown. This recipe will make about 8 pie pockets, depending on how thin you roll out your dough.
And those are Pie Pockets....pretty easy, right?

Have a beautiful day, friends!
Angela
Linking up here. 

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