Monday, October 31, 2011

31 Days of Savoring: Monday Muddle

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HI! 

How was everyone's weekend?  I can't believe how quickly October flew by.  We just got out pumpkins carved a few days ago and I've been running around today laying out costumes.  Thanksgiving will be here before we know it.  

Our weekend was fun. The local library hosted a "Day of Literacy" with several agencies in town.  The kids got to play games and make crafts all centered around literacy and their favorite characters.  Plus we got to come home with books.  I love it.  A local gym sponsored the "Book Walk."  When the music stopped, an activity (sit-ups, push-ups, squats, etc) was pulled from the hat.  Everyone did that activity and if your child was on the circle, they got to pick out a new book. My kids are all about new books so this was a highlight for them as well.  

Yesterday was my birthday.  So we went out to dinner with my mom and grandma and picked up a Marie Callendar's pie.  Double Cream Blueberry... Yummy!  It's pie month at Marie Callendar's (ends tonight) and it was almost too hard to choose.  We might have to go back after Trick or Treating tonight.

October was full of it's own ups and downs.  Had I known where this month would take me, I wouldn't have taken on the 31 Days challenge.  My uncle ended up in the hospital on the 5th and hasn't come out yet.  We've been hosting my mom and grandma while they've been taking care of him.  And our house has seen a huge influx of kids as we've been blessed to help several families in our community.  All in all, I'm a little tired.  But with everything's that's happened (and this challenge), I've been forced, and blessed, to SAVOR the days.

Our menu this week:
Breakfasts:
Yogurt and fruit
Granola and milk
Pumpkin Bread
Apple Crepes

Lunches:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Green Salads
Leftovers
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Dinners:
Monday: Pizza and salad
Tuesday: Potato bar and salad
Wednesday: Chicken noodle soup and homemade bread
Thursday: Potluck: Feta dip, baguette, and pumpkin bread
Friday: Turkey, mashed potatoes, salad
Saturday: Spinach Calazone
Sunday: Leftovers

Projects I'm working on this week:
Scrap 4 pages
Pumpkin cookie dough
Clean out deep freeze
Finish 1 book

Post coming up this week:
Please forgive me if I don't post every day this week.
This Writer's Brain needs a break.
I do a have a few things planned, but you'll just have to wait and see what they are.

What are you working on this week?

31 Days of Savoring

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Sorry guys!

Yesterday was my birthday so I spent the day SAVORING!

Hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Winner, Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Shutterfly Photo Card giveaway!  I ran the numbers through Random.org and drew three winners!

Congratulations to ...

#1-Sarann
#3--Amber
#8--Leah Wall

I'll be sending emails to the winners soon.

And Congratulations again!

31 Days of Savoring: Fall Recipes Link-Up

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If you haven't noticed lately, I've been a huge baking mood.  This month has been filled with pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin.  And it just occured to me the other day that this is apple season as well.  And I bet I'm not the only one who's been baking.  I'm sure you all have plenty of yummy recipes to share as well. So today, we're linking up our yummiest fall treats.  From breakfast to savory stews to desserts, let's share all those seasonal flavors we've beens savoring in our kitchen.  Here's a few favorites from the Creative2xmom kitchen:


Now it's your turn.  I'm so excited to see what you're cooking up this fall.  I love exchanging recipes and what better time than the fall.  So let's get swapping.

Post your favorite fall recipes and leave a link back to Creative2xmom.  I'll be checking in throughout the week so see what we can share.  Happy Fall!

*Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading



31 Days of Savoring: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

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There's nothing like a warm meal on these crisp fall mornings.  In the rush to get to school, I've never been one for cold cereal.  Boring, boring!  I want pancakes and waffles, oatmeal and granola, or better yet, a homemade donut.  Something that tastes of a warm kitchen and autumn flavor.  So when I came across this Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal recipe, I quickly bookmarked it and promised to try it soon.  With a couple of changes and omissions, we ended up with an easy breakfast.


Now I know what you're thinking... "Oatmeal?  Really?"  But this oatmeal is wonderful.  It's hearty and warm.  And tastes like Thanksgiving desert!  Best of all, we all gobbled it up!  



Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
(adapted from Good Life Eats)

1 1/2 c. oatmeal
2 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp butter, softened
3/4 c. pureed pumpkin
3/4 c. milk

Topping:
1/4 c. almonds, chopped
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray 9" x 13" pan with nonstick spray.  

Combine oatmeal, brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice.  Set aside.  Combine vanilla, butter, pumpkin, and milk.  Slowly add dry mixture until combined.  Pour into prepared pan.  

Bake for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile combine topping ingredients.  After 10 min, pull oatmeal from oven and add topping.  Return to oven and continue to bake for an additional 7 minutes.  Allow to cool for several minutes.  Serve with a splash of milk... or a nice big dollop of whipped cream!

*Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

31 Days of Savoring: Jumping in the Leaves

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Who doesn't remember jumping in the leaves as a kids?  Begging your parents to rake up a huge pile and  running full speed, tossing colors into the air.  The wind rushing by you and the carefree joy of childhood.  

So in my quest to Be a Yes Mom, I wandered out into the backyard yesterday and started casually raking the leaves.  Not many, but a nice pile.  The kids were playing in the yard and jumping on the trampoline.  Until I asked, "Anyone want to jump in the leaves?"  You should have seen their faces.  This is what happened next:



So whatever is on your To-Do List today, how can you make memories with your children?

Embrace the season.

Go Jump In The Leaves!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

31 Days of Savoring: Your Marriage

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I love my husband.  This past summer we celebrated our 10th anniversary and I'm continually amazed by how quickly the time has flown.  And how much patience he's shown in that time.  My prayer truly is that I would love him as much as he loves me and find new ways to Savor our marriage every day.  That's why we took the 52 First Dates challenge last year.


In the spirit of Savoring Your Marriage, here's a few simple ideas you can do today:

*Pray for your husband.  The Lord can help him in ways you never could.
(I'm hoping to put together a post on this in the future).

*Call him in the middle of the day just because.

*Leave him a note in the car to find on the way to work.

*Greet him with a kiss when he comes home.

*Hold hands.

*Dress for him.  Even if that just means throwing on some jeans instead of those baggy sweatpants.

*Prioritize your time with him.  Don't leave him with the scraps at the end of the day.

*Be a good listener.

*Praise him in public.

*Think of him when planning your schedule, menus, etc.

*Appreciate and verbally thank him for all he does for your family.

*Be his biggest cheerleader.  Even when you don't agree, cheer on his dreams.

How are you Savoring Your Marriage today?

The Christmas Note {Review}


Gretchen lives with the pain only a military wife can understand to.  Raising two children, looking for a new job, and relocating, she finds herself in the loneliest place she's ever known.  But when a mysterious stranger knocks on her door with a heartbreaking message for Melissa, her neighbor, she finds embarks on an unexpected journey of friendship.

Melissa, the stand-offish neighbor, carries her own painful past.  When Gretchen delivers the bad news, Melissa is determined to not let it rock the life she's struggling through.  If only that pesky neighbor would leave her alone.

Eventually Gretchen and Melissa find a friend in each other and a community of support to see them through the twists and turns of the upcoming months.  VanLiere takes her readers on a path of seeing joy as a choice, life as an adventure, and a God who's big enough to hold us even when we don't know it.  What would seem to be coincidence enfolds into God's loving embrace for both of these women.

Donna VanLiere thoughtfully draws out her character's emotions and motives, making their full and relatable.  The plot has moments of predictability, and moments of stunning revelation.  If you're looking for a quick read for the holiday season, you've found it!

*Disclaimer: BookSneeze provided this book free of charge for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, October 24, 2011

31 Days of Savoring: Time with our Kids

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In today's fast paced society, we can never take enough time to savor our relationships.  And as parents, we know this to be even more true with our children.  We're warned over and over again that the years pass quickly.  But with dishes to be done, homework to be checked, and rules to be enforced, the savoring sometimes gets pushed to the side.  So let's take today to savor time with our kids.  Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

*Reading--Our family loves reading.  Between Barnes and Noble, book sales, and our weekly trips to the library, there's no telling how many books have come in and out of this house.  Our family place to read is on our couch, right in the heart of our home.  Reading opens doors of conversation.  It's a time to be still and open our hearts.  Besides library books, we're often in the middle of a classic chapter book and reading the Bible as well.  It's a rich time of learning and meditating on God's word.

*Art Projects--Coloring, markers, stamps, paint... my kids love it all.  But what's even more important to them is having Mommy or Daddy sit down and enjoy with them.  My kids' eyes light up when I make creative Play-doh creature with them.  Or when Daddy gets into the finger paints.  Art is soothing and opens up many doors of conversation.  And through some crayons and glitter, we begin to discover how our kids see the world.

*Baking--Kids love being in the kitchen.  Let's be honest: don't we all?  There's something about the kitchen that invites conversation.  It's a place of warm, comfort, good memories, and great food.  And with kids... big messes.  Measuring, reading a recipe, sharing this moment are all elements that collide while being in the kitchen together.

*Working together--I often receive resistance when I tell my kids that we're going to do a household project together.  However, it doesn't take long before they're right in there, laughing even, as we work together.  Working outside in the yard has been especially fruitful in building special memories together.  Weeding, planting, pruning, and yard work have all been opportunities to learn and grow together.

*Board games--We love board games as a family.  There are few things better than playing a few rounds of Candyland or fighting it out for the highest score in Yhatzee.  Board games build on strategy, math skills, and being both a gracious winner and loser.  It's also a great way to bond as a family, especially through the ups and downs of games like Monopoly.

*Focusing on their interests--This is something I'm not so great at.  Sitting down to do Legos is hard when in the back of my mind, I'm picturing the laundry to be folded.  But focusing on my child's interest builds in their worth.  Mommy's priorities may be different than theirs, but there is value in play.  How often have I expressed to my children that their interests have value as well?

How will you take time to Savor being with your kids today?

31 Days of Savoring: Monday Muddle

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It's Monday!  And from where I sit, the weekend went by much too fast.  I'm still wrapping my mind around all that we did this weekend and fighting off a head cold.  Friday night we had two of the kids' friends over.  I had to work at a school fundraiser, so my husband was home with them earlier in the evening.  Then when I got back, we made popcorn and had family movie night.  The two older boys slept in the living room, staying up late and telling secrets.  It always amazes me who they can easily outlast my husband and I.

We headed out to the pumpkin patch on Saturday with my mom and grandma.  Bounce house, face painting, petting zoo, and treats where on order.  My kids are so funny.  They were dying to get into the petting zoo, but once we got there, they froze.  I mean, walked through the gate and literally didn't move.  Hilarious!  We had to coax them to even go near a sleeping pig.  After that we picked up a pumpkin to make pie (since we already have 4 carving pumpkins) and had some In 'N' Out.  

Noah attended a birthday party and sleep over that night.  I couldn't relax the whole time he was gone.  Although we completely trust the family he was with, I kept thinking about what could go wrong and hoping I wouldn't get a call in the middle of the night to come pick him up.  Isn't that just hope a mother's mind works?  Always need a break, but when you get one, you can't stop worrying about your kids.

Anyways... here's our menu for the week:
Dinners:
Monday: Crockpot Stroganoff
Tuesday: DATE NIGHT!
Wednesday: Veggie Sammies
Thursday: Tacos
Friday: Pasta e Fagoili
Saturday: ???
Sunday: Dinner out!

Projects I'm working on this week:
Canning apples
Finishing June photos
Pumpkin cookie dough for the freezer

Posts coming up this week:
Savoring time with the kids
Savoring your marriage
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

and more...

Also this week... a LINK-UP!

Come back Saturday to link up your favorite fall recipe! What do you SAVOR this time of year???

Friday, October 21, 2011

31 Days of Savoring: Pumpkin Scones

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Savoring Pumpkin Scones


I love this fall season for baking.  It's like the whole world breathes a sigh of relief after a hot sweltering summer.  The crockpot starts up again and stews are brewing.  And pumpkin... all the world is orange and bright.    The warm smell of vanilla and cinnamon fills my house.  In the spirit of fall, we tried these pumpkin scones this week.  Too moist to be scones... too dense to be muffins... I'm not sure what to call them.  But yummy... absolutely!

Pumpkin Scones

1 1/2 Tbsp butter
3/4 c sugar
1 egg
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 c. flour
non-stick spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar.


Add egg, pumpkin, vanilla, and spice.


Add flour and mix.


Spray muffin tin and add batter.


Bake for 18-20 minutes and serve warm with honey butter.

*Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading and these Parties.
Oh, and make sure you've baked an extra batch for everyone else.  :-)

I Love You, Head to Toe {Review}



Since I found Dayspring earlier this year, I've been delighted with their products.  Personal and God focused, this company is built on products that I have loved and enjoyed again and again.  So when I had the opportunity to review their recordable storybooks, I quickly jumped at the chance.

I Love You, Head to Toe is a touching story of how deeply we love.  With bright, vivid pictures and rhyming verse, this book is perfect for the child in your life all the way from birth on up.  The recording mechanism was easy to use.  Just a few minutes and I had the message recorded.  Plus the feedback was clear, my biggest worry in receiving this book.

Just in time for the holidays, I Love You, Head to Toe would make a perfect gift.  From a grandparent far away... from an auntie wishing to visit... from a daddy who has to work nights...  reading a book can bring you together, even when you're not together.

Check out these other titles from Dayspring as well: God's Christmas Promise, All Day Long with Jesus, and Bedtime Prayers and Promise.   

Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Days of Savoring: Love from Far Away

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In this season of savoring before the holidays, I wanted to share with you one tool that has made life simpler.  Shutterfly, known for their great prints and photo books, also offers a wide range of Christmas cards.  I've used their service for the past two years and have received beautiful cards to send to family and friends.  The photos came out very clear and the paper quality was phemominal.  With all the choices out there, Shutterfly really stands alone.  I can honestly say I have been "over the top" happy with thus product.

These are just a few of the styles I'm looking at for this year:



With over 900 styles to choose from, I'm having a hard time narrowing it down.  I just love sending pictures to family far away and Christmas cards are a special way to share the love.  Shutterfly also has a wide variety of greeting cards, photo greeting cards, and photo books for Christmas gifts or year round.

Too busy to send Christmas cards?  Why not send them at New Years?  Or share the love at Valentine's day?  There are so many reasons to send Love from Far Away.

And guess what?  I'm giving away sets of 25 Christmas cards to THREE lucky winners!  Yes, THREE OF YOU will get to send Christmas cards this year for FREE!  Wanna know how to win?

All you have to do is go over to Shutterfly's Christmas card selection and tell me what style you'd love to send out this year.  It's that simple!

Want additional entries?
*Follow Creative2xmom through Google Friends
*Follow Creative2xmom on Facebook
*Tweet, blog or share this post on facebook and leave me the link (may do each one time)

Leave me a separate comment for each form of entry.  Entries will close next Thurs at midnight (10/27) and I'll announce the winner next Friday (10/28).

And good luck to everyone who enters!

*“Do you blog? Want a chance at 25 free cards this holiday season? Register here: http://goo.gl/DDw7Q
**Disclaimer: Shutterfly is supplying me with free holiday cards for writing this post.  All opinions are mine.
*Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading and these Parties.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

31 Days of Savoring: Building Strong Family Relationships (Part Two)

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Savoring Family Relationships

When I look at my children, I marvel at what a precious gift I've been given.  Inside these tiny little bodies are two wonderful humans growing and learning.  And out of all the mothers in the world God gave them to me.  What an amazing gift!

And when I think of all the gifts that I want to give them, a tight close knit family is high on the list.

 Cousins at the Family Reunion

*Prayer--Everything starts in relation to God.  And Strong Family Relationships are no exception.  Prayers for understanding, close relationships, and soft hearts are all foundational for these relationships.  

*Phone--Cell phone and long distance plans are becoming more and more affordable.  A few years ago, we ditched the long distance for 99 cent phone cards.  And if you have the equipment, skype is a great option as well.  Grandma loves hearing about the kids day, their new friends, or just the bug they saw on the porch.  We call... A LOT!

*Letters--Or email.  Or postcards.  Or mailing the kid's artwork.  Never underestimate the power of the written word.  There's something deeply personal about writing a letter and sharing your life.

*Facebook--One of my cousins joked yesterday that it should be named after our family since there are so many of us on there.  With pictures, videos, and pieces of our day, several cousins and I use it as a way to keep in touch despite the distance.

*Pictures--Lots and lots of pictures!  We take lots of pictures.  Between facebook, blogging, and walgreens, the grandparents get to see many small and great moments.  Even the little sleeping angels.

*Videos--I love videos.  The day Noah learned to ride a bike, I found a video sharing sight.  I had to share it with my mom.  First steps, first words... share them on Youtube, your blog or through email.  

*Remembering special days--There's nothing like getting a card on your birthday.  Or anniversary.  Or just because it's Monday.  So think of how your grandma will feel when you remember her on grandparents' day.  Or what it will teach your kids when they call their cousin on her birthday.

*Shared journal--A shared journal is a mailed back and forth between 2-4 people, sharing thoughts, artwork, and memories.  You can build one with a cousin, a parent, or an in-law.  Fill it with deep thoughts and be brave.  Maybe even start one with your child.  

*Sharing pieces of yourself--What do you find enjoyable that your family might not know about?  A regional magazine, home canned applesauce, your favorite gourmet item from the grocery store... What part of you and your family can you share with those far away?

*Visits--And there's no replacement for being together.  Being face to face with family is invaluable.  And although traveling 3-6 hours isn't easy, we try to be with family at least every couple of months.  The lessons that are passed from generation to generation priceless and there's nothing like seeing my kids run into their grandparent's arms.

How are you creating strong family relationships?

*Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading and these Parties.

31 Days of Savoring: The Season

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Symbol of Harvest
(haiku for Writer's Workshop)


Dirt smeared ball of orange
Waiting for someone to pick
Symbol of harvest!

*Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading and these Parties.

Monday, October 17, 2011

31 Days of Savoring: Family Time

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Savoring Family Time


This past weekend, my sister-in-law got married!  It was an out of town wedding so we packed up the kids and headed out.  My husband officiated the wedding and the kids were the flower girl and ringbearer.  So besides being a good chance to get out of town, it ended up being a "working vacation" for mom.  Here are some of my favorite highlights from the weekend:

My Munchkins All Dressed Up

Ready to Go!

One Big Crazy Family


We're Out Of Here!

31 Days of Savoring: Monday Muddle

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Oh!  You know it's been a bad week when it's 9:30 pm and you're just getting your post written for the day.  That's what I get for defending Mondays last week.  Please forgive me if I'm not really "Savoring" today.  Half way through October and I'm ready to bury my head in the sand.  Anyone with me?

Last couple of weeks have been crazy.  Noah turned six.  We traveled to my sister-in-law's wedding that 3 out of 4 of us were in.  And on top of that, my uncle's been in the hospital for almost two weeks so my mom and grandma are staying with us right now.  Talk about being busy.  Most days I sit down around 9 pm and wonder where the day went.  Frankly, I'm the one who most needs to learn to "savor" these days.

Hope you don't mind if I keep this one short.  Just wanted to let you know I'm still here and will TRY to post earlier tomorrow. :-)

Our menu this week:
Dinners:
Monday: Beef Soft Tacos (meat in the crockpot)
Tuesday: Tortellini and pesto
Wednesday: Taco salad
Thursday:  ??? mmm...
Friday: Spaghetti fundraiser
Saturday: pumpkin shaped pizza (traditional pizza carving dinner)
Sunday: potluck

Projects I'm working on this week:
Scrapping June photos
Some baking
Taking kids to the pumpkin patch

Posts coming up this week:
(Hum... did I really commit to posting every day?)

Review of the wedding
Building family relationships
Writer's Workshop
More comfort food...

and a few surprise posts! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

31 Days of Savoring: Pumpkin Pancakes

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Another pumpkin recipe!  I know.  I just couldn't help myself.  These are SO wonderful.  My kids ask for them every morning.  Truth is... I love them myself.  These have become a favorite fall treat.

Here's what you'll need:
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. pumpkin
1 egg, beaten
2 Tbsp oil

1. Preheat griddle.  In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients; mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients; mix well.  Combine wet and dry ingredients (batter will be very thick).

2. Pour 1/4 c. batter on hot griddle.  Cook until surface bubbles.

3. Turn and continue cooking 2-3 min.

4. Try to stop yourself from eating the whole batch!

*Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading and these Parties.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

31 Days of Savoring: Glitter Pumpkins

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These little cuties are all over the place.  Such a glam way to bring the season indoors.  I only have one on my mantel so far, but I'm anxious to add several others in various sizes.  Plus they're so easy to make. I accomplished mine in only a half hour, plus I had the "help" of a 6 and 3 year old.  Hope you like it!


Here's what you need:
Carvable pumpkin (Dollar Tree)
Mod Podge
Glitter (Dollar Tree)
Hairspray 
Newspaper

So ridiculously simple.  Slather your pumpkin with an even layer of Mod Podge and start sprinkling the glitter.  I didn't glitter the bottom, but to each his own.  You can always go back and add more Mod Podge and glitter.  However, I like a little orange showing through.  Seal it with a layer of hairspray.


How easy is that?  And my favorite part is having it sit near a lite candle.  Just a fun, frugal way to celebrate the season.
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