Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Reflecting on November

Time goes by so quickly, it seems!  When I as a little girl, time seemed to crawl along so slowly and I couldn't wait to grow up.  Now that I am all grown up, with a family of my own, time flies by way too fast!  I can't believe it is almost December already!

When reflecting on what a busy month was for our family, I happened to stumble upon the following.

Pinned Image
I am truly blessed to have a fabulous husband and wonderful children, such great family, spiritual family, and friends!  We continue to have many blessing upon us such as health and happiness. 

I will share some of November's happenings with you through a collection of photos.

 Pumpkin Farm

It's really hard to get a good picture with 3 kids!

Duck Races!

They were thrilled!

Not too sticky :-)

Brookfield Zoo

I love is one-eyed smile!
Decorated a Christmas Tree with our Youth Group
My Sister's Wedding

Me and my handsome hubby at the rehearsal

Me        My Sister      My Mom
We had such a fabulous time! My sister was gorgeous and the wedding was perfect! 

Thanksgiving Week/end
Japanese Steakhouse with their "new" Uncle

Everyone do the one-eyed smile!


Helping in the kitchen

My Mom brought this, she got it at a craft show.  It's so cute!

My big guy wrote that we is thankful for "family and food and clothes" 

Black Friday

My Mom and me
I do have to write about the above picture.  I was debating about adding because it is not a great shot.  But it was so fun.  This was taken at about 4AM; we were in line at an outdoor mall when a pizza guy came by selling his pizzas.  It will definitely be memorable!  Plus, I won a $250 gift card to the mall.  I was thrilled...I never win anything!

Now on to December, which will also be a very busy month with all of the kid's activities, Christmas parties, crafting, shopping, making cookies, etc.  Much of this I will be sharing here on my blog.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Advent Calendar

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it is time to prepare for Christmas.  I have to tell you that I LOVE the Christmas season!  Everything about it makes me happy.  I love the Christmas songs, the decorations, the food, the shopping and hustle and bustle, the Christmas spirit around us, gift giving, and especially the real meaning...the Birth of Christ!

I would like to share with you, the Advent Calendar I made.  It is a fun project!

Can you tell what it's made out of?

Yes!  A mini muffin pan!

We had a scrapbooking weekend at my Mom's house a while back.  Everybody made one of these.  It was neat to see how they all turned out!  Even though the base craft and idea are the same, everybody's looked very unique.  One was all in blue and white, one in pinks, another was not color coordinated at all.  They all were beautiful! 

Having an advent calendar has become a tradition in our home.  Instead of candy, Santa's helper leaves little fun notes, coins, or fun things for the kids to do.  They love it!  Two years ago, one of the days had a note that told them they would sleep under the Christmas tree that night.  Simple, but they haven't forgotten and they thought it was great!  Last year they went on a scavenger hunt around the house to find a little gift.

If you would like to make one of these adorable Advent Calendars, all you need is a 24 cup mini muffin pan, a sheet of magnet, paper and embellishments.
I cut magnet first, then glued on the paper and embellishments. Each square is 2 1/4 inches.

You can get as creative as you'd like.  That is the fun part!

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's almost Thanksgiving

I have adopted hosting Thanksgiving.  It's my holiday and I love it.  I am thankful everyday, but it is nice to have a day to gather with friends and family all dedicated to being thankful.

I have been looking for some cute ideas for the kids.  Check out these awesome ideas from very creative people!  I love that they are printables and are free!  Head on over to check out these fabulous blogs.

activities for kids Thanksgiving Paper Doll Printable {free printables}
Is this not to-die-for?!?!  On Tip Junkie

Mini Mayflower Place Cards

From Kiki Creates, love her!

Have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Raw Milk, Again!

Today my little Dude and I went to the farm to pick up milk. He calls it "moo-moo milk".  It got me thinking about the Freedom Riders event a few weeks ago...

If you have read much of this blog, you understand my passion for healthy food.  As a family, we drink Organic Raw Milk, and are huge supporters of it.  It is illegal in many states.  Here in Illinois, it is legal to sell raw milk but illegal to advertise it.  Therefore it is sold at small dairy farms around the state, NOT in stores.

My husband (and I) owns a vitamin and sports supplements store, and our schedule is very hectic and crazy because of the long retail hours.  We actually contemplated closing the store for a couple of days to join the Raw Milk Freedom Riders, a few weeks ago.  The group crossed state lines, from Pennsylvania to Maryland, transporting raw milk, which is illegal!  Ridiculous, I know!  Raw milk is regulated by the FDA, to supposedly keep people healthy and safe.  Check out the link below.

Just today, Natural News released an article stating that the CDC admits that there haven't been any deaths caused by consuming raw milk in 11 years!  Check out the full story here.

So, why is it illegal for many US citizens to choose to drink raw milk?  Why does the FDA deem raw milk unsafe, yet something as bad as aspartame safe? 
Good good answers!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hot Cocoa and Wedding Favors

Well Hello Again!

It has been a little bit since my last post!  Longer than I intended, that is for sure.  We have been very busy preparing for and attending my sister's wedding. 

As promised, here are the wedding favors that I made for her. 

Aren't they so adorable!?!  My sister got the idea from this post on Inspired Bride.

They were pretty time consuming, but overall were a huge hit, making the effort totally worth it.  Personally, I think that someone could give these for small Christmas gifts.  For neighbors, teachers, coaches, etc.  Or even a favor for a Christmas Dinner Party.

Needless to say, making these favors drove my hubby and me to drink!  Hot Cocoa, that is!  If you're in the mood for a nice cup of cocoa, you have to try this recipe that I used to fill the tubes.  It really couldn't be any easier!

Hot Cocoa

1 cup milk, warmed
1 1/2 Tbls Cocoa Powder (I used Ghirardelli)
1 1/2 Tbls Sugar
Splash of Vanilla Extract (optional)

Mix cocoa powder and sugar.  Stir into hot milk.  Add vanilla, if desired.  Stir.  Enjoy.

See?  Easy, right?  Sometimes the simpler, the better!

Have a fabulous week!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

PB & J

If someone, ten years ago, would have told me that in ten years I would be married with 3 kids.  I would have been happy.  If some would have told me I would be married with 3 kids and be making them organic PB&J sandwiches from scratch, I would have thought they were nuts!  Things can really change a lot in ten years! 

Yesterday morning I made strawberry-raspberry jam, and while it was cooking, I made peanut butter.  Then in the afternoon, I made bread.  Voila!  PB&J sandwiches and happy kids! 
OOOEY GOOEY and Yummy!
 Strawberry-Raspberry Vanilla Jam

3 1/2-4 lbs. Strawberries*, roughly chopped
6oz. Raspberries*, pureed
3 cups Sugar*
1/2 medium Lemon*, juiced
2 Tbls Butter*

Add all ingredients, except butter, in large saucepan and give it a stir.  Let it marinate until juices from fruits are extracted, about 20-30 minutes.  At this point I used my immersion blender to mix and puree the fruit.
Turn heat on, add butter and bring to a boil.  Stirring occasionally is necessary as the mixture starts to break down, reduce and thicken. 
As soon as it starts to thicken, you can check for jellying point.  You may use your candy thermometer to get it up to 220 degrees, but I don't prefer this method.  I use the following instructions from Hungry Foodies Pharmacy's recipe for Plum Jam sans Pectin:
"Put a few small ceramic dishes into the freezer.
Take out one of the ceramic dishes from the freezer.  Ladle a small teaspoonful of the jam onto the cold dish and put it back into the freezer for one minute.  Remove the dish from the freezer and draw your finger through the jam.  If the jam does not close up the channel, then it’s ready.
If processing, pour hot preserves mixture into a hot, sterile 1/2-pint glass canning jar, filling jar to within 1/4-inch from top; wipe rim and seal jar with lid. Put jar in water-bath canner or on rack set in a deep kettle and cover with hot water by 1 to 2 inches. Boil and process in a boiling water bath, covered, 10 minutes. Transfer jar to a rack using tongs and let cool completely. Store in a cool, dark place, up to one year.
If you are not interested in canning, ladle jam into clean jars and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months."

 This recipe made 2 1/2 pints of jam.


juicy after 20 minutes
So pretty and satisfying!

Peanut Butter {Recipe}

Blurry, but creamy

Add peanuts to food processor.  Blend until smooth. Put into a jar or container and store in the refrigerator.
Note: if you are using unsalted peanuts, add a pinch or two of sea salt when blending.

Now all of the sudden PB&J is looking better, right?  Not just a "junk food" for kids, it's actually naturally healthy!

My kids are out of school for in-service and conferences for the rest of the week...5 day weekend!  Woohoo!
Enjoy your day,