Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday Faves

Wrapping up the week with a few favorites.

1. Favorite Learning Resource
I found this list through my friend Nancy, who happens to be a really fun homeschool Mom. I thought it was just great and it's something that we'll definitely be referring back to over the summer.

2. Favorite Blog Post: Rage Against the Minivan: I've got your lifestyle blog post right here
"A lifestyle blog of only perfect moments is not a lifestyle I'm familiar with."
3. Favorite Recipe: Well, maybe it's not really a recipe. It's just a genius idea. I mean come on, why haven't I thought of this?? Read the entire post here.
4. Favorite Home Inspiration: Over on the Lettered Cottage, they've been sharing all the nitty gritty details about painting their kitchen cabinets white. This is definitely on our to-do list and their posts have made the whole process seem so much more doable and less overwhelming to me. See their before and after photos here.
5. Favorite DIY: Natural Make-it-yourself Oven Cleaner. You know when your oven is so bad, that you're tempted to just get a new one? Yep, that's me. I guess I'll have to give this recipe a try. 

6. Favorite photo from our week:
Happy weekend, friends. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Blog Forward Challenge #2 By Zone Perfect with a GIVEAWAY!

This year, I'm happy to welcome Zone Perfect to the blog. Every few months or so, I've been writing on some of the prompts that they have provided and today, I'm also doing a fun giveaway, provided by Zone Perfect. As always, these opinions are all mine.
To enter the giveaway, scroll to the bottom of this post. 
For me, there are reminders everywhere that this year is nearly half way over. Just a small, I mean HUGE reminder happened yesterday, when I picked Judah up from his last day of preschool. Last day of preschool, EVER. Not just for this year, but as in, ever. As we went through his folder during lunch, I cried. I'm so thankful for what an amazing year it has been so far. Each day I've prayed for safety, for him to be a blessing in his class and for his teacher to have a great day as well. So many prayers have been answered and as we swing into summer, I feel like this year is off to a great start. 

When I wrote my first Zone Perfect post back in February, I shared a few of my goals for the year: 

#1 To go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.
#2 To feed myself and my family healthier foods. 
#3 To do what I'm already doing well, to be okay with saying "No" and make my YES valuable.

So, let's talk a bit about how these goals have been coming along. I've definitely made huge strides when it comes to going to bed earlier. Waking up early is still a struggle for me, but I've come a long way from the day when the kids almost consistently were my alarm clock. As Eliza is older now and consistently sleeps through the night, like the big kids, I have no excuse. Without fail, our days go more smoothly if this Mama is up early with the birds. I've realized that if I want successful days, there's no way around this....I need to get up early. 

Goal #2 "feed myself and my family healthier foods".  This always could use improvement. I realized recently that while my kids don't eat hardly any "junk", they don't eat the wide variety of foods that I'd be the most proud to be serving them either. I've realized that I get stuck in the rut of feeding them the same healthy foods all the time and therefore, they don't have the opportunity to try new things and become accustomed to the foods that I'd like them to be used to. In this area, I definitely need to switch things up a bit. I'm kind of like an old dog that needs some new tricks, know what I mean?

For goal #3 "To do what I'm already doing well, to be okay with saying "No" and make my YES valuable", I'd say that I'm happy with this area of life right now. The things that I'm involved in  (MOPS, Womens Ministry etc.) I really love. I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be right now and I feel freedom to not do every other thing, just because that's what someone else is doing. I've learned that what works for one gal, doesn't always work for another. Everyone has a different thing that they're called to be doing, as does every family with the amount of activities that they choose to do or choose not to do. We're all created differently and it's okay to say "No", to make our "Yes" more valuable. 
Zone Perfect has created some fun printables that can help make healthy choices easier. To print these off, just save the image to your computer and then print them in any size you choose. In addition to these printables, Zone Perfect offers $10 in savings, when you join  the VIP program. To sign up, click here

To keep you charged and moving forward, Zone Perfect is offering one lucky winner one of these portable chargers. I've been using mine and I absolutely love it. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Pie

For Memorial Day, we didn't make any huge plans, which turned out to be in our favor. We weren't sure if we'd feel like staying home or maybe going for a family hike or something so, intentionally we'd left the day open. We had talked about going to the Memorial Day service here in town, but when it started to rain, we decided it was best for us to skip it.

So, after setting up with a friend for Bible Study, I started feeling restless and knew that staying home all day on a holiday wouldn't be a good idea. Here's where reason #5012 why I love my family comes in.

Me, texting my sister: "Hey! What are you doing later? Early dinner at your house? Haha! We'll bring lots of food?"
Sister responds: "Oh, I'd love that!!! Let's do it!"

See how that works? I sent her a text, basically inviting my whole family over to her house for dinner, she didn't only respond politely, but she took the bait and went with it...with exclamations marks, people! And just like that, plans were made. We were going to Sister's house for dinner and we were bringing with us food and lots of it.

Jeremiah made the best broccoli salad, that I swear I could eat everyday for the next month, we picked up some hotdogs and Paisley and I made this pie with Rhubarb and Strawberries from the garden. There's just something about going out into your yard, picking fresh berries and then turning them into a pie. From the moment we saw our Strawberry plants flower, I've told Paisley that when one day soon, we'd have enough berries to make a pie. Memorial Day was pie day and oh man, it was good.
For our pie, we used garden strawberries, rhubarb and since we didn't have quite enough to fill the pie, we also added in an apple. The apple was a great filler, but if you have enough strawberries and rhubarb, you could always leave out the apple.
With summer just beginning, it's the perfect time of year to start making pies for picnics or even family dinners. This pie crust is my new favorite so, I'm happy to be sharing it with you all today.

Before you do anything, you'll want to first make the pie crust and get it in the fridge to chill. Step by step instructions are at the bottom of this post.
After the crust is chilling, wash and prepare the strawberries, rhubarb and apple.
Next, add in the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch and salt.

Gently stir everything together and taste a bite or two, if you feel like it.

After the crust has chilled for at least an hour, you can go ahead and fill the pie.

Cover it with more crust, by adding strips to create a lattice, or use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes, like stars for the 4th of July and so on.....
Bake the pie until it's golden brown and then throughly let it cool before serving it.

Strawberry Rhubarb Apple Pie
Modified from Epicurious

For crust
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
10 tablespoons (about) ice water

For filling
2 cups sliced rhubarb
2 cups strawberries, hulled, halved
2 cups chopped apple
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Make crust:
Combine flour, sugar and salt in processor. Using on/off turns, cut in shortening and butter until coarse meal forms. Blend in enough ice water 2 tablespoons at a time to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; cut in half. Flatten each half into disk. Wrap separately in plastic; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour, or up to 1 day.

Make filling:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Stir together gently.

Roll out 1 dough disk on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter pie dish. Trim excess dough, leaving 3/4-inch overhang.

Roll out second dough disk on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Cut into fourteen 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spoon filling into crust. Arrange 7 dough strips atop filling, spacing evenly. Form lattice by placing remaining dough strips in opposite direction atop filling. Trim ends of dough strips even with overhang of bottom crust. Fold strip ends and overhang under, pressing to seal. Crimp edges decoratively.

Brush glaze over crust. Transfer pie to baking sheet. Bake for 55 minutes in preheated oven, or until crust is lightly brown and pie is bubble. Transfer pie to rack and cool completely.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Thankful for Freedom

Two years ago, I went for a walk with my one year old through the cemetery, just after they'd put the flags out for Memorial Day. She ran barefoot darting in and out of rows lined with flags. I cried as I watched how free she was and how that isn't to be taken for granted. During that walk, I knew that I wanted our family to come back every Memorial Day. You can read that first post here, if you want.

That walk became a tradition for our family and tonight we walked through again, with kids riding bikes, talking about the flags, about the men and women who served and how much we have to be thankful for. Each year we do this and each year, it looks a little bit different.

I've found that walking through here with the kids is a really easy way to tangibly show them that men and women have gone before us and paved the way. I want them to understand that we shouldn't take our freedom for granted. They are little so they only kinda-sorta get it, as is expected, but this is opening up the doors for their little minds to think and for them to ask questions.

A few photos from our walk tonight.....Happy Memorial Day!

Thank you to all who have served. I wish I could just squeeze all of you!

Huggies Slip-On Diapers with Coupon Offer

“I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Huggies. I received product samples to facilitate my review and to thank me for my participation.”
Over the last few weeks, this girl has gone from a laid back easy goin' baby, to a toddler who's fully into everything. Basically, a one year old is not a force to be reckoned with. This girl's on the verge of walking and she's holding nothing back. She has places to go, things to do and I'm just following behind, cleaning up the trail that gets left behind. She's become the cutest little tornado and the way she's taking on the world is really fun to watch.

Recently I had the opportunity to try out Huggies Slip-On diapers and I'm happy to welcome them to the blog as a sponsor. These diapers are ideal for busy on the go babies, who have little interest in holding still. I've found them to be extremely helpful since they just slip on and stay on really well, no matter how quickly she's trying to tackle the world. When I'm changing her diaper, I love that she isn't busy undoing one side, while I'm fastening the other. Diaper changing is definitely easier with these. 

• HUGGIES® Little Movers Slip-On® Diaper make it easy to change standing babies of all
kinds – they slide on easy for a great fit and slide off easy too.
• HUGGIES® Little Movers Slip-On® Diaper feature the proven leakage protection of the
HUGGIES® Leak Lock® System.
• Stretchy sides for an outstanding fit
• Tabs for easy removal and disposal
• Quick-absorbing layers and a long-lasting core locks in wetness and keeps your baby

Huggies is offering readers a $1 on any one package of Huggies Slip-On Diapers or if you share a link
to it with three friends, you can save $1.50 on any Huggies Slip-On diapers. To get your coupon, click here

I'd like to say a big thank you to Huggies for partnering with us. As always, these opinions are all mine.

Friday, May 23, 2014

This Moment//Planting Popcorn Seeds

He asked me to make him a green hat, because he is Peter Pan. I quickly stapled one together and Paisley helped him color it. Next, he gathered the left over un-popped Popcorn kernels (you know the ones that sit at the bottom of the bag, because the microwave stopped just a few seconds too soon). He took them outside, carefully made little holes, planted each one and then watered them. He told his sister that soon their popcorn trees will grow and when they play outside, they'll be able to eat popcorn together as they run by.

A Friday ritual, inspired by Soule Mama. Photos - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

So, here's my question:
Do you think I should plant something that will actually grow where he planted his "popcorn seeds"? I'm considering it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

When Life Feels like a Full Thanksgiving Plate

We've had a week full of wrapping things up and all of this wrapping up feels like it could possibly just wrap me up.  While everyone is else joyfully saying their good byes, I'm rolling in a bit late, with the not-so-great brownies that I made....back at home. I forgot them.  I've resorted to yoga pants and the red Christmas pajama shirt that I wore two years ago. We've been doing these things for 9 months now and just like a pregnancy, when 9 months is up, it's UP. I'm feeling the expiration date coming soon. The other Moms are still on time with their cookies and cute outfits and I'm just happy to be there. You know what I mean?

When I tell my kids that it's time to go, they just look at me with blank looks on their faces, like I'm speaking some foreign African dialect. I tell them that I'm actually serious and that we need to go. Instead of moving, they sink onto the floor, or trail off to find some shoes that they haven't wanted to wear for the last month, but suddenly those shoes seem like a great idea.  My cheerful sing-songy "it's time to go kids!", turns into an "It's time to go NOW and I actually need you to MOVE people, remember how we do that? We MOVE!"

What I'm wondering is why I didn't make my thank you gifts back in September when I had more than an ounce of creativity. I'm thankful NOW, very, very thankful, but with my hat on, yoga pants and kids that have forgotten how to get into the car (like we don't do it the same each time), I'm just kind of done. The plan for next year is to make the creative gifts in September. Make the gifts early, feel thankful later, it just makes sense, doesn't it?

I told my husband the other night that I feel like my life is like a full plate on Thanksgiving day. You know the cheap kind, that's sagging at the edges and if you don't carry it with two hands, it will surely cave in. It's full of lots of good things, all of them I love, or else I wouldn't have put them on my plate. But, if I even think about putting another serving of anything on this plate, everything will surely start slip-sliding around and eventually drop off and onto the floor. So, I must sit down with my comfy pants on, laugh with friends and family, breath, eat my turkey, mashed potatoes, roll, stuffing, green bean casserole and finish it all clean before I even think about possibly adding anything else. When this plate is cleared, then I'll know if I have room for dessert, or if I'd like to wait awhile and just enjoy what I've finished.

While many Moms are going crazy registering their kids for this that and the other thing, I'm so looking forward to that day where we have less on our plates. Where we can spontaneously go to the beach if we feel like it (a.k.a- eat another roll), or we can just break out the sprinkler in the backyard and I can work on my tan while the kids go crazy in the water (a.k.a- have a bit more spinach salad, because it's healthy- as is playing in the sunshine and water).

Piling less on our plate isn't lazy, it's healthy sometimes and while I forget brownies at home, pull in late for preschool drop-off and then purge my house of extra junk, because it makes me feel like my life isn't too full, I power through knowing that June will come and that yes, this Thanksgiving dinner that I'm eating does make me feel a bit uncomfortable, but it's also full of some of our favorite things.

So friends, with yoga pants, hats,  forgotten end of year cookies, thank yous, papers, and tired kids, we power through and we finish this thing strong. We breath and we do it, because we can. If you're like me and you feel like life is an over-filled cheap paper plate, filled with favorite things, all ready to spill, just remember that June will be here soon and it's okay to look forward to less. Breath in, breath out and finish your dinner.

A few bits of what we've been up to lately:

Wild roses are in full bloom. The best smell ever, in my opinion. 
Our Awana Cubbies graduate. 
 Preschool graduates. 
 Picking the first of the ripe strawberries. 


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