Monday, December 24, 2012

Monday Plannin’ Mondays

Last week in review…

MondayButternut Squash Soup & SaladIMG_5950Looks yummy, right? It was, but here was the reality of our table...IMG_5953Opened mail, toys, old water bottles, flipped up pretty table runner (so as not to be ruined by little’s plate)…=)

TuesdayCrockpot Honey Apple Pork Loin, Asparagus, & SaladIMG_5969The asparagus was AMAZING – even my 4 yr old ate 4 spears!Check out the epic fail of the porkloin. Just overcooked it…IMG_5968It still tasted alright, just a bit dry. I’ll probably try the recipe again.

Wednesday – Family Advent Calendar Dinner Night Out –

Red Robin! So much fun.

Thursday – Chicken &Lemon Risotto with Peas and LeeksIMG_5983The lemon risotto was delicious, and a lower calorie option for risotto. Normally they all have lots of cheese, not this one.

Friday – Crockpot Pulled Pork & Baked Potatoes (Didn’t get a picture, but click here for the delicious recipe. Yum!)

Saturday – Dinner out with family after Christmas Eve Service

SundayTo Die For Crockpot Roast, Mashed Potatoes & SaladIMG_6040Seriously easiest recipe ever, and yummy (click link above)! Adjust the amount you use from each packet for your saltiness desire!

This week…

Monday – Cranberry Chicken, Salad & Croissants

Tuesday – Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas Breakfast &         Sweet Potato Casserole (My contribution to Christmas dinner)

Wednesday – Wednesday – NOT cook! I’ll be traveling. =)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Simple Things Sunday–Making Christmas Happen

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This week I’m celebrating and appreciating all the behind the scenes people that make Christmas happen. Like this sweet actor from a Christmas Eve service who took a moment to make my daughter’s attendance just a bit sweeter.

Think about it…there are lots of them. Think about some of the things that help YOU really feel like it’s Christmas.

Perhaps it’s certain foods, maybe a special Christmas eve dish or a Christmas morning breakfast (who makes them for you?).

Or perhaps it’s certain traditions you look forward to…maybe a gingerbread house party (who throws it?), or a special mini-van ride to drive around and look at lights (who does that, or who gave you the idea?), or a special Christmas Eve service (who arranges the performances?).

This last one is the one that caught my attention this weekend. We attend a church who is holding a total of SIX Christmas Eve services this year?! That’s FANTASTIC! But…it’s the same musicians, actors, pastors, etc. that are there for every single one. While it’s a great experience for them, it’s also exhausting. And many of the people helping are simply volunteers. They like to celebrate holidays, too, and yet…they sacrifice a bit to provide an amazing service for the rest of us.

So..take a moment to thank the people in your life who truly help make Christmas, Christmas. =)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Fave - Goldilocks & the Three Dinosaurs

Goldilocks and the 3 Dinosaurs

Cooper just recently received this book as a gift for his birthday, and it proved true that we are certainly Mo Willems fans! We love the Elephant & Piggie books (in fact own probably too many of them), but hadn’t come across this particular Mo Willems book yet.

It’s a hilarious take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Even prompted me to read it in a funny little accent AND character voices! There are glimpses of Mo Willems famed pigeon throughout the book and the dinosaur house has some fun dinosaur-specific items scattered here and there.

Lastly, I came across these fun related activities put out by HarperCollins Publishers. The first is probably my favorite. Alas, if only I could draw! =)Dinosaur ActivitiesPretend-a-Saurus

My Prehistoric Family

Better with a Twist

Seeing that my SON is just 4 years old, his “endings with a twist” would probably all end with either a light saber fight or some potty joke, but hey, it still promotes imagination, right? Have fun reading with your kiddos!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday–Reindeer Noses To Go

Reindeer Noses To Go Picture

I saw this idea, and sometimes when I get an idea stuck in my head, it’s like OCD and I just HAVE to do it, mono or not. Winking smile

After I saw this adorable idea, I knew Cooper and I needed to make them for his classmates. Bite-sized, perfect little adorable cookies! I’ll be honest, it wasn’t has simple and easy as the original blog states. BUT…it made an amazing, traditional, baking holiday memory for my son and I, and he was SO proud to share with his friends. And, it really only took an afternoon, and a bit of the evening. Not too shabby for 27 Reindeer Noses To-Go kits! Refrain from doing the math – it’s 243 1” cookies total. Moving right along..

Her sugar cookie recipe, was absolutely perfect! AND…I should save this for a trick of the trade (I may repeat it next Tuesday, don’t judge!), but why have I never used wax paper to roll out cookie dough before? I laid out a sheet of wax paper, put my glob of cookie dough, then laid down another sheet and rolled away. No sticky mess! Then, I used a 1” cookie cutter (yes, they are teeny tiny people!) to cut out all the little noses. I used rolling pin spacers (1/4” – to make the dough a uniform thickness) and mine cooked for 11 minutes and were perfect.

Baking…DONE! That was the easy part. Oh, and kind of a silly tip, but when I took them off the cookie sheet, I counted out 8, then put aside a 9th on a separate sheet so I could keep count of how many “kits” I had already baked.

Now, onto frosting.

The recipe on this website seemed a bit off regarding water, but she did say to play around with it. I added quite a bit more than what was recommended. But again, play with it and see what works for you. And, be prepared to either take your time, or get a hand cramp, or both.

You know how you read all these blogs or facebook posts about perfect, holiday traditions and wonder why yours NEVER seem quite so perfect? Well, there was definitely a moment during frosting where that thought crossed MY mind. I took a deep breath, took some tylenol, played with my kiddos, THEN put on some Christmas music and got back to work. After relaxing and getting perspective, we DID have that awesome, traditional moment. =) See? I didn’t picture the play-doh mess that happened off in the corner while I was frosting said cookies. Thankfully, on the tile, and…worth it ‘cuz the kids had a blast playing!Baking cookies

The frosting hardens, which will be GREAT for packing them up for delivery, but you do have to work quickly if you’re crazy and are doing 200+ 1” cookies!. Another tip, use a LOT of food coloring. Mine are pretty light colored brown, I would’ve preferred darker, but I still ADORE how they turned out. And, Rudolph’s nose is sort of…shhh…pink! Gasp! Thankfully you can’t tell in these pics…But do you recall

Final bit of information if you choose to make your own! I think the mason jars I used are half pint. I just put a paper lid in, I kept the metal inserts. I stacked the 8 brown ones like so, then placed the red one in front you so you can see it!Rudolph

My husband thought this was overkill, but I LOVE how it looks! So aesthetically pleasing! =)

AND…if you choose to make your own, here’s your free printable! Perfectly sized to fit the insert for the Kerr mason jars. Enjoy!Reindeer Noses To Go Labels

If you’re having a hard time getting the printable, just shoot me an email. I’d be happy to email you the original. =)

And, as if you haven’t gotten enough pictures, here’s my son after placing them in all of his classmates cubbies at school. He was SO excited!!Cooper with reindeer noses to go at school

Oh, and proof that I made a vat of them! And used two printouts of the free printable! Reindeer Noses Packed Up

Linked up today with…

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

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Check out details on my clothes here.IMG_5927

Blazer – Lauren Conrad (used Kohl’s cash to buy)

Necklace & Earrings – Premiere Jewelry

Shirt – Old Navy ($6, woot!)

Pants – Michael Kors (Macy’s)

Boots – Marshall’s (old)

I put this on and went, “Meh”, but didn’t have time or energy to change anything.IMG_5966

Details here.

Just for fun…a random fact about me. I’m terrified of clowns.

pleated poppy

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trick of the Trade–Storing Trinkets

 

trick of the trade #28:

storing trinkets

Storing Trinkets

This post relates to my party favor post here. I have these lovely storage bins I got on the cheaps at Costco, similar to the Expedit shelving units at Ikea! I promptly decided what would go into each bin and labeled them, with tiny pictures at the bottom so my kids remember what goes where. One of them I decided to label “Trinkets”. And since then, these little “treasures” have been far less annoying.

You know those little “treasures” I’m talking about. Your kids may have picked one up at the dentist’s office, or received them as party favors, Christmas or Halloween parties at school, probably some of your stocking stuffers (at least mine are for sure!). Here they are…What a load of...

Those toys that have no…well, place, or label they belong to. Before my little “trinket” box, I would begin to pick up around the house, I would grab these mindlessly and stand there thinking, “Where in the world?” Now…I know exactly where they go. It makes clean up waaay easier! And, these “treasures” are no longer the bane of my existence. So, bring it on party favors! =) Ready for a quick game of I Spy? Can you find these 5 items:

Slinky, Jacob’s Ladder, a broken purple Easter egg, Angels sundae hat, and a Sophie the giraffe teething toy (that’s no longer needed for teething, i.e. is now a trinket)IMG_5963

So, what are you waiting for? Go collect those “treasures” and create your own trinket bin! It’ll make you smile. And…if you can’t find an item in the trinket bin, just find your daughter’s latest hoarding run. Check her out…hilariousness!IMG_5639

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Meal Plannin’ Monday

 

last week in review…

Monday – Leftovers

Tuesday – Papa Murphy’s

WednesdayPumpkin & Black Bean Chili and Cornbread

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ThursdayPesto Chicken Sandwiches

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FridayChicken Kabobs

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Saturday – Snowman Pancakes

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Even hubby got in on the fun!IMG_5924

Spaghetti & Meatballs

SundayFrench Dip & Sweet Potato Fries

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this week’s meal plan…

Monday – Butternut Squash Soup (it’s finally gonna happen people!)

Tuesday – Crockpot Honey Apple Pork Loin

Wednesday – Eat out (Advent calendar states “Family dinner date”)

Thursday – Lemon Risotto with Peas and Leeks

Friday – Potluck – Pulled Pork Baked Potatoes

Saturday – Out after Christmas Eve Service

Sunday – To Die For Pot Roast

Monday – Cranberry Chicken

CHRISTMAS DAY – Cinnamon Rolls

see ya on the flip side next week!

Chicken Kabobs

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Chicken Kabobs

8 oz. can pineapple chunks

¼ cup bottled chili sauce

1 T brown sugar

1 T lime juice

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. ground allspice

1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks

1 large red or green sweet pepper, cut into 1” pieces

Directions:

Drain pineapple, reserving 2 T juice; set chunks aside. For sauce, mix juice, chili sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and spices.

Thread chicken pieces with pepper and pineapple chunks onto skewers.

Brush skewers with sauce and broil for 7-10 minutes. Turn, brush with sauce and broil 7-10 minutes longer.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Here’s the recipe I use for our holiday Snickerdoodles! Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup butter or margarine

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

3-3 ¾ cups flour

2 tsp. cream of tartar

¾ tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

Directions:
Heat oven to 400◦ Mix butter, sugar and eggs. Blend in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Mix cinnamon and sugar, roll balls in before baking. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, immediately remove from baking sheet.

Friday Faves - Christmas Cards & More!


#1. christmas card books
Picture1
Free printable here. I love this way of storing Christmas cards!
#2. snickerdoodles
Snickerdoodles
…and fudge, technically, but I haven’t made the fudge yet. Each year, my grandma, who lived in Oklahoma, would make and mail snickerdoodles and fudge each year for Christmas. Two years ago, I “took over” this tradition and mailed them to my dad and brother. It doesn’t feel like Christmas yet until I’ve had these two sweets. Click here for the recipe I use.
**Quick aside…my dad just flew back this week for my grandma’s funeral. Family dynamics can often be…tricky, and odd. But, all that aside, each member of your family makes an imprint on your life whether you want to admit it or not. Think about the imprint you’re leaving. Thanks Grandma Roach for this sweet tradition.
#3. neutrogena makeup remover towelettes
Makeup Remover
I HATE getting ready for bed. I’ll postpone it, just because I don’t want to go through the routine of “getting ready for bed” i.e. brushing/flossing, retainers, removing contacts, removing make-up, taking daily medicine, lotion…anyone else exhausted yet? Anyhow, I am far from consistent when it comes to taking off my make-up (okay, you can close your mouth from gasping now). BUT, since I’ve bought these bad boys, I’ve been much more consistent! I also use their eye makeup remover, works great!
#4. grace
grace
This last one may seem silly, and it without a doubt falls into the last but CERTAINLY not least category. Being sick with mono, and having a 4 year old and a 21 month old, my patience is often thin. I will admit to having made the Marge Simpson frustrated noise with my children in the middle of chaos. And I will admit to flat out snapping out in irritation. If you’re a parent and this has never happened…well, you’re probably lying.
BUT, the grace of God allows me to seek forgiveness and start anew without harboring all these wretched feelings of guilt. Am I stricken with guilt? Yeah, but there’s no reason to harbor that guilt once I’ve asked forgiveness and have moved on with the intent to improve.
Thank you God for this. You, more than anyone, know I need it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday–Nativity Ring & Run

The idea for a Nativity Ring & Run is essentially this:

Step #1: Purchase a 12-piece nativity set (WHATEVER you like! – or, for a cheaper way to go, follow this link for a printable version of a nativity). Here’s the Melissa & Doug one I bought last year at 50% off to use for this year:

Step #2: Print out a description of each piece to the set. You can either follow my link (for older kids), or the link above for some adorable, brief once sentence description. (or print out both if the house has young and old alike!)

Step #3: Wrap each piece, somehow matching it with each print out for delivery.

Step #4: 12 days before Christmas, deliver your first piece of the nativity to an unsuspecting friend by placing said gift on their doorstep, ringing their doorbell, and running before they can see you!

Step #5: Continue each night leading up to Christmas Eve where you’ll deliver Baby Jesus and reveal your identity to your friend!

I posted this idea when I first did it 2 years ago here, with the printables I altered available here. It was perfect for that year when we shared our nativity with our 8year old and 12 year old neighbors. They were a bit older and LOVED the more detailed descriptions of each nativity piece.

BUT…I have a 4 year old, and while he has a pretty long attention span, my stories were a bit too long. So, we opted for this version this year and we’re super excited!12 Days cards 3

I hesitated posting it on my blog, ‘cuz it would be fun to keep our identity a secret, but…if they find out, they find out. Here were my kiddos getting ready to deliver tonight. He was SUPER excited and sneaky!IMG_5912

I have to admit. When we were getting ready to head out, my little boy was not so excited. He wanted to just stay home and play. My frustration was not well contained. “You need to learn to be nice!” I’m sure I shouted. Eek! It’s so hard for little ones to learn to think of someone OTHER than themselves. BUT…I’ll tell ya. As soon as he got caught up in the excitement, he was adorable and was excited for the recipients to get caught up in the excitement as well.

THAT is precisely the reason I chose this as my Thoughtful Thursday post. How WILL he learn to be thoughtful if I don’t model it and help him find ways for his little 4 year old self to act on it? If we are willing to admit it ourselves, sometimes even we don’t want to be thoughtful.

Come on! Admit it. You know, like those moments when you REALLY don’t want to return the shopping cart? You’d rather leave it out stranded for the poor grocery workers to come wrangle? (One of my huge pet peeves by the way, if I can do it with 2 kiddos, people can certainly do it with none!)

Or driving around in Christmas shopping chaos? You’ve already waited for like 5 people to drive by and you’re ready to cut off the next person? (This one I’m always tempted to give into)

Or you stroll up to the communal coffee pot at work and there’s JUST enough for your cup left? You know you should brew a fresh pot instead of put the pot back empty, but why should you have to do it just because of bad timing?

It’s the equivalent of my 4 year old wanting to stay home and play. Putting ourselves before others. It’s not always easy. But…if you can think of the big picture, it’s not really gonna put you out much, and others notice. And, it makes you feel good inside.

So…be thoughtful friends!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday–Moms CAN dress up

Dec 12

thursday

Not my best look but…shirt (H&M), jeans (Macy’s – Michael Kors), scarf (Old Navy), boots (Totsy – a year ago)

saturday and sunday

I’m INLOVE with this look! And it was SUPER affordable. I didn’t wear the outfit all day both days obviously…just had two Christmas parties back to back.

dress & shoes (Kohl’s – Lauren Conrad), earrings & bracelet (Kohl’s – Simply Vera Vera wang)

I’ve got to show you the ENTIRE picture from the Sunday one above. I wanted to show you this one to prove that moms CAN in fact, dress up. It may mean that there kids eat mac & cheese that night and make a wreck of the house, but it can be done!! =)IMG_5830 ps

Here’s one more fun picture I took with my phone at the party…

LAST tidbit from this look I promise…the hair. Notice, it’s different both nights, right? I figured I’d use this as an opportunity to try out some pins from Pinterest. Does ANYONE else get similar results from the gorgeous pictures on that site? Uhh…NOT me! Here’s the comparison…(click the picture to take you to the pin)hair

Okay, so I had my husband take the picture at the END of a long night, and I liked how it looked, especially from the front, but COME ON! Unless I get my hair professionally done, it’s not gonna look like that gorgeous picture next to mine. Here’s another snap from my hair that night from a different angle:hair2And hair night #2.hair 3I pinned it, tried it. I simply could NOT get my hair to do that! But, I do like how my hair turned out. I just got halfway. =) Here’s another angle:IMG_5836

monday

shirt, sweater, jeans, necklace (Old Navy), shoes (gift from mom!)

tuesday

sweater (Old Navy)

I leave you with a super fun mother/son moment! I bought my son’s cute fox sweater at Target recently. I saw it, loved it, but wasn’t sure what he thought. I held it up for him and said, “Do you like this?” His face lit up and he said, “Yes!! Can I please have it?” Sold! A few days later, I found a women’s fox sweater at Old Navy. I surprised him and had it on when he got home, thinking he’d be thrilled! I said, let’s take a picture together with our matching sweaters! After some moments of tears…we got this picture…IMG_5852 I’m afraid he got his father’s love of taking pictures. He does oblige most often, but did not want to on this particular day. See his red eyes? He did love my sweater, just didn’t want to snap a pic. Allie loved it too.

Foxy family!

pleated poppy