Monday, July 30, 2012

Watermelon Toes

Every since we made Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse Toes, we've been having a lot of fun creating new art in our home.  Right now, we're loving these Watermelon Toes for summer.  

What do you think?

Bouncing Gymnasts (Scrapbook Pages)

Just wanted to share one of my favorite recent layouts with you.
My kids have been taking tumbling/gymnastics at the YMCA since they were 1 1/2 yrs.
It's been fun to see their skills grow and how much it's affected their abilities in other areas.

Plus it always makes for a great photographic opportunity.

I know this last one is sideways, but I wanted to show you the Stickles.
This layout still needed something and the Stickles dots were perfect.

Just like my kids...
Always on the move!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bookmarks for July 2012

*Bookmarks is an online book club hosted at Creative2xmom. Here we discuss the books we've read in the past month as well as the suggested reading. Our suggested reading for July was Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

These are the books I read this month:

Loving our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk--This is a local author and I've been waiting to get my hands on this one for awhile.  As my kids grow and hit the next phase of childhood, I realize that what I've been doing just isn't working.  So when our Sunday School director handed me this book, I immediately dove into it.  Silk outlines a very different way of parenting, one that values respect for the child as much as respect for the adult.  We know that we have 18 years to get our kids ready, but how exactly do we get there?  The author gives us great insight for raising resilient kids that take responsibility for their actions and their relationships.  This is a solution that empowers kids to solve their own problems within the safety of their parents home.  While I still find myself learning every day, the changes that we have emplimented have done wonders in our home.  This book is shooting right to the top of my favorite parenting books with Shepherding a Child's Heart.

The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay--I hadn't heard anything about this book before picking it up.  Halter and Smay coach their audience in how to reach out to a postmodern culture.  Why has Christianity become irrelevant to our greater culture?  How are churches reaching out or withdrawing?  How can we change that?  This is the meat of The Tangible Kingdom.  Coming from the church background that I do, much of the theory of this book was already established in my own life.  While there was some useful examples at the end of the book, the beginning of the book holds a very cynical tone toward the church.  And while I don't believe the church is very effective right now, attacking it with a cynical tone is not at all appropriate.  Halter talks about creating an attractional church, which I'm all about, but have to wonder if there isn't a time for using words as well.  If you're just starting your journey in reaching out to a postmodern culture, this is a good place to start.  If you're looking for something deeper, this one falls to the bottom of the pile.

Our suggested reading for this month was Crazy Love by Francis Chan--This is a book that's been out there for awhile, but again haven't been able to get my hands on one.  And I have to admit that I'm really torn on this one.  The book starts talking about how God is ultimately and completely in love with us.  It is an "Overwhelming" love.  However, the book quickly takes a turn toward our outworking of that love.  If God loves us with an "overwhelming, relentless" love, how are we living out that love?  As I said, I'm torn about Chan's message.  Many of us that have been in the church for awhile know that our actions are an outworking of God's love for us.  Or should ben an outworking of that love.  However, we often slip into a works mentality.  In our postmodern culture, I think it's more important that we focus on the love of the Lord at this point.  Maybe it's just where I'm at personally, but it seems like works is too easy and we loose sight of love.  There were two points that I loved about this book.  1) There's tons of bonus material on Youtube that coincides with the chapters.  2) The author comes from a place of truly loving the church.  The tone of this book was decided different from The Tangible Kingdom.

So what are your bookmarks this month?

Tell us in the comments about the books you're chewing on. Or link up a review from your own blog. Let's share the books we're finding, good and bad. And give us your thoughts on Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

And come back Friday August 31st as we discuss Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule and other books you're reading.  Where you able to get the ebook for free a few months ago?

*Linked to these Parties

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Do-It-Yourself: Key Lime Ice Cream

At the beginning of the year, I set 12 DIY Project goals for 2012.  July's challenge was to try out this yummy looking Key Lime Ice Cream recipe that I've had bookmarked for over a year.  To say that it was fantastic would be an understatement.  Notice the lack of photo this month?  That's because my son and I ate it too fast.  I kept meaning to go back and take a photo, but we couldn't keep our spoons out of it.  

I made a few changes based on our own tastes.  I like mine a little more sour so that was the first change, but all in all, it was one of my favorite recipes I've tried in a long time.  After all, summer is the season for homemade ice cream.  Plus the original recipe includes a link for making ice cream without a machine.  Couldn't be simpler.  Here's the yumminess we came up with:

Key Lime Ice Cream

1 1/2 c. whole milk
1 c. bottled Key Lime juice (I may have even used 1 1/2 c.)
1 c. heavy cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Optional: Coursely crushed graham crackers, key lime wedges

Combine milk, Key Lime juice, cream and condensed milk.  

Freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Crush 1/3 c. of graham crackers and mix into ice cream near the end of freezing.  Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze for 1 hr or until set.  Serve with crushed graham cracker topping and key lime wedges.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Play it Again, Mama: Cake Batter Ice Cream

Nothing says summer to me like homemade ice cream.  There's a rich, sugary-sweet flavor that just can't' be topped.  It brings back the days of sitting on my grandparent's porch stealing chunks of ice while someone worked the crank on the old ice cream maker.  Bowls of rich vanilla cream drizzled in blackberry jelly... afternoons in the sprinkler...and falling asleep in the sun.

Yes, it really is "comfort in a bowl."

So when I came across this Cake Batter Ice Cream on Amy's Notebook,, I knew it was one I'd have to try.

2 c. heavy cream, divided
1/2 c. yellow cake mix
1/2 c. sugar
Pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. whole milk

In a medium saucepan, combine 1c. of heavy cream with yellow cake mix, sugar, and salt.  Heat over med heat until warm.  Meanwhile, place the egg yolks in a med. bowl and whisk until smooth (very important).  Combine the remaining cream, vanilla, and whole milk in a lrg mixing bowl (original recipe call for a sieve to catch clumps of batter; skipped this step).
Temper the egg yolks by slowly pouring a small amount of cream in at a time.  Pour the cream mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously until completely combined.  Return to the saucepan over med heat.  Continue heating, stirring, and scraping the bottom of the pan, until thickened slightly (original recipe calls for temp to be 170-175 degrees; you'll know when it's ready).
Immediately pour the custard mixture into the bowl with the remaining cream and milk and mix to blend.  Cover and chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.  Once chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker.  Wrap with thick towels and allow flavors to mix.  Can do this for up to a hour.  Store in an airtight container in the freezer.
This recipe really is wonderful and one that I look forward to enjoying for years to come.  There really is nothing like homemade ice cream and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

What's your favorite summer treat?

For more experiments, check out Amy's Notebook Experiments under the header.
*Linked to Writer's Workshop

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pizza Pitas

So since it's so hot outside, I've been trying to come up with ideas for cooler meals.  My husband thinks I'm a little crazy.  His tastes and preferences don't sway with the weather, but mine certainly do.  And apparently so does Noah's 'cause he hasn't wanted anything warm lately either.  

Anyways, I was wandering around the grocery store the other day when I spotted pitas and wondered what in the world I could stuff in one.  I think this might become a new challenge around here, but for now, we came up with Pizza Pitas.  You can stuff them with all kinds of things, but they're really versatile, easy, and perfect for a summer dinner.  So let's get started!

Pizza Pitas

Pizza sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Mini pepperoni
Artichoke hearts
Roasted red peppers
Any other pizza topping

Start by lining the inside of your pita with the sauce.  I like to be really generous with the pizza sauce or it can be too dry.

Next add your toppings.  I loved pairing the pepperoni and roasted red peppers.  The kids added olives and the artichoke hearts were fantastic as well.  But you can add whatever you'd like.

Finally stuff in some shredded mozzarella cheese.  Make sure you use a good amount.  You can never have too much cheese.

Heat your oven just enough to warm everything and melt the cheese.  I know this is a summer meal, but we tried them both heated and not heated.  And heated is 100% better.  Trust me.  You won't regret it.

And there you have it... Pizza Pitas!  They're a yummy easy treat for dinner or a quick lunch.  Pair them with a green salad or pea salad and enjoy!

What's on your summer menu?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Disneyland's Frontierland & Critter Country: Ride by Ride

When I first started thinking about this section of the park, I didn't think I'd have much to say.  But the more I looked at the maps, I realized there's more than meets the eyes.  To be honest, I haven't explored this part of Disneyland very well.  I tend to go for the two larger rides and skip the rest of it.  However, like the rest of Disneyland, there's a wealth of adventure to be had.

Frontierland and Critter Country

Big Thunder Mtn. Railroad--With a min. height requirement of 40", this is one of the more popular rides in this area.  The line moves quickly, but I'd advise getting a fast pass during the busier season.  If you do wait in line, go to the left as the line splits.  This tends to be the faster side.

Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer's Island--I think this is only accessible by the canoes.  Anyone know?  Filled with caves, treehouses, and trails, this is a fun area to explore for the whole family and a great place for the kids to run off some energy.

Mark Twain Riverboat/ Sailing Ship Columbia--Ships only run 1 at a time and Circle the Rivers of America.  This is a great opportunity to sit and rest and still feel like you're taking in Disneyland.  Ask as soon as you board the Mark Twain and you may be allowed into the wheel house to steer the ship.  First come, first served.

Davie Crockett's Explorer Canoes--Operates seasonally and only during certain parts of the day.  Ask at City Hall upon entering the park.  Great workout!

Frontierland Shootin' Exposition--A shooting gallery in Disneyland.  My kids (5 & 3 at the time) had enough of the lines and spent about a half hour here.

Splash Mtn.--Min height requirement of 4,0", this is one of the busier rides, especially in the summer.  Fast passes are available.  This ride is a great way to cool off.  However, hang on to little ones in the drop.  My daughter met the height requirement, but was so light.  We hung onto her tight.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh--Great ride for little ones.  The line isn't long and moves rather quickly.  Sneak in this one while the bigger kids ride Splash Mtn.

Extras to Keep in Mind

Fantasmic!--Show up at the end of the first show and you'll have your pick of seats.  You can also watch the fireworks from this area.  The view isn't as good as the castle, but the crowds are thinner and you'll be ready for Fantasmic!  Great show with live characters, lighting, water spray, and projection!  Some action is intense for young viewers.

Billy Hill and the Hillbillies (& More)--Check the show times schedule outside the Golden Horseshoe Saloon. Shows are very popular so arrive early for a good seat.

Rancho Zoloco--This is a great Mexican restaurant near Big Thunder Mtn. Railroad.  Portions are large enough to be split.

I've also heard good things about the Hungry Bear Restaurant by Splash Mtn.  But I waited too late in the day on our last trip.  It was closed.  If anyone tries it, let me know how the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich is.

Leave any questions or comments below and I'll answer them when I can.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

2012 Goals: June Check-In

How are your 2012 Goals going?  I saw some progress.  We're eating healthier, I got a few DIY projects done, and I'm becoming more disciplined with my time.  Baby steps, right?

Areas I need to remember to focus on more heavily?  Consistent devotional time, consistent workouts, and just all around having more fun with my kids.  We do things together, but it's not always "fun."  I've gotta enjoy these moments more or they just become harder and harder to find.  So that's where I'm at.  How did you do in the month of May?  Do you feel like you're making progress?

These were my 2012 Goals and how I did in May:

*Keep a consistent devotional time, memorizing verses through my discipleship group.--I'm still struggling with this. But the consistency of my discipleship group is helping.

*Memorize 12 verses with the kids.--We've done two so far in the past six months.  Had one laid out for June, but didn't start it till earlier this week.  Focusing on this one in July.

*Read 24 books.--I read 4 in Jan, 3 in Feb, 5 in March, 2 in April, 2 in May, and 3 in June.

*Tackle 12 DIY projects.--Started my patio lights

My Marriage:
*Plan a bi-weekly time of being together.--Had one date this month.  Thanks Mom!

*Read 2-3 books together.--not yet

*Plan a yearly getaway.--Planning for this summer

My Kids:
*Plan a once a month date with each of the kids.--Did this with both kids!

*Homeschool/supplement preschool for Lydia and 1st/2nd grade for Noah.--Still working with Noah and started pre-reading with Lydia, although with other items

*Read through the Magic Treehouse series with them.--Book #3 has been out of the library before weeks, but we've listened to about 35 in audio books.

*Go on a field trip once a month.--

Health and Wellness:

*Convert 4-5 items on our grocery list to organic, as budget allows--We've converted our salad mix/ spinach in June.  So we're up to 3 items.

*Develop a gym routine of 4-5 days a week.--Going three a week so far. Love my Turbokick class and just added Yoga once a week. Continuing to add the Shrinking Jeans challenge this month.

*Eat more seafood.--Bi-monthly so far

*Learn to make an incredible loaf of sourdough.--Did a DIY tutorial in May and have a pancake recipe coming soon.

*Plan posts one month in advance and write posts one week in advance.--Planning is good, but writing is hard right now. Usually about 4-5 days ahead.

*Spend 2 hrs a week writing on something other than the blog.--Am I ever going to get this done?

*Budget my blogging time more appropriately. Do less work when the kids are around.--Doing much better, but could continue to improve.

Because I'm stalled out on a couple of my goals, I'm selecting two of the weakest to put special focus on in July.  My focus goals this month are time with God and Scripture memorizing with the kids.  Does anyone have tips or tricks for developing new habits?

Link up below and just let us know how you're doing. Let's work toward real change in 2012!

*Linked to these Parties

Monday, July 2, 2012

2012 Spring/Summer Meal Plan

As the summer gets busier, I'm finding myself fighting for time.  Fighting for time with the kids.  Fighting for time in the grocery store.  Fighting for some sanity.  Between VBS, swimming, and T-ball, along with dinners, kids, diapers, church, and some creative time for Mommy, time is a commodity in our home.  So in an attempt to maximize my time, I'm going to post an overview of our summer meal plan instead of posting every Monday.

While our meal plan will likely vary from week to week (I do love being creative in the kitchen), this is a basic overview of some staple meals in our home.  Plus, this will be a great resource for me when I'm stumped for summer ideas.

And I promise to post new meals as they come in an out of our meal plans in the coming months.  In fact, we made a phenomenal, simple, summer meal last week that I can't wait to share with you.  Can't wait to try some of these new recipes and enjoy some of our old favorites.

Mondays: Crockpot Night

Korean Beef Tacos
Honey Sesame chicken

Tuesdays: Main Dish Salads

Taco Salad
Risotto and Veggie Salad
Steak Salad
Tortellini Salad

Wednesdays: Mexican

Chipotle Taco Bar
Fish or Shrimp Tacos (2x/month)
Chicken Fajitas

Thursdays: Sandwiches

Grilled Eggplant Sandwiches
Various Wraps
Grilled Veggie Sandwiches
Caprese Sandwiches

Fridays: Pizza

Homemade Veggie Pizza (2x/month)
Individual Pizzas on the Grill

Saturday: Mommy's Choice or BBQ

Kebabs (Jerk Shrimp/Hawaiian Chicken)
Something special (chicken probably)

Suday: Quick and Easy or BBQ

Smoothies and sammies
Baked Potato Bar

What are some our your favorite summer recipes?
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