Thursday, December 29, 2011

These are the Days...

Thursday again! I am feeling a bit out of sorts for various reasons. Remembering to be thankful always helps my funk!!

#1. My new camera! I am a picture taking fool and I LOVE it!! Doyle is my favorite subject, he never objects and doesn't tire of me!

#2 Popcorn and M&M's with my  kiddos. We watched Mr. Popper's Penguin's and it was adorable! The penguins made us laugh and there was a sweet message about family. Highly recommend!

#3. This crazy kid. He sure keeps things interesting around here. Do you think he knows that SNOW means it's cold outside?

#4. This silly little one. She is so stinking cute I can hardly stand it! Now if only we could get her to not sing at the top of her lungs to only music she can hear!! I will miss that someday, right?

#5. The calm after the storm. I am happiest at home, not a home body necessarily, I just like the quiet comfort of being at home with my family. I love my extended family and all of our great friends but am so thankful for the relaxing, quiet days after all my holiday social-ness. I think I always feel a little anti-social after the holidays are through. These blissful mornings hit the spot!

perfect coziness, just us.

#6. (just because I need the added pick me up!) Murray said good bye today. He wrapped little gifts for the kids and left a sweet note. He has been so much fun. While some days he "forgot" to move.  He made the kids smile and was a gentle reminder to my kids that even though they are getting  older, you are never too old  to believe, never to old to have fun and never to old to be silly.

#7. The Christmas ornament tradition. Every year we add to the collection. I treasure them all!

the ones made by little hands are extra special to me.

#8. I know... I can't stop!! Christmas all put away! I LOVE it when it is all down and my house looks so clean, fresh and tidy. AHH... It is the perfect time to do a mini make-over too. Nothing major just moving stuff around and welcoming some "new" accessories to my house.

So I'm awfully thankful this week. I'm also starting to think about all the wonderful things the new year will bring. 

What are you wanting in the new year? Who do you want to become? Is there something you are doing that isn't working for you? Get started!!!

Why wait till January!? Create your life today!  ~S

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Upside Down Pizza

I got this recipe from a friend years ago. It is a family favorite and is also perfect to take to a new mom or a family that just needs a little helping hand. It is not low fat by any means but I do sub lite and reduced fat and it still tastes delicious.

Upside down Pizza
2 lb. ground beef
¼ c. onion chopped
1 envelope spaghetti sauce mix
1 16oz. can tomato sauce
1 ½ c. shredded mozzarella
½ c. sour cream
1 pkg. refrigerated crescent rolls
2 TBSP butter
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
Toppings: pepperoni, olives, Canadian bacon etc.

Brown onion and hamburger, add tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce mix. Spread in 9x13 pan. Layer toppings of your choice and mozzarella cheese, spread sour cream on top of cheese. Cover all with rolled out crescent rolls. Melt butter and spread over rolls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake 350 for 20-30 min.
* I do 1 lb. ground beef, half a Spaghetti sauce packet and half a can of tomato sauce, for our family of 4 it is perfect!

**Tip** I put any leftover tomato sauce into a freezer bag and pop it in my freezer. It is great to throw into soups, taco meat, to make pizza sauce, etc.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Highlights!

I feel a little like my post from yesterday sounded like a bit of a pity party. I try to be as honest on here as possible with out being a downer. I think that is so unattractive, I have so much to be thankful for and want to focus on those things. So today I will share some of my Christmas highlights. This season is one of my favorite times, time to reflect on the moments that made me smile.

Friday was spent with many dear friends and I took ZERO pictures! Bummer! Girls brunch, cousins and friends stopping by with gifts, then off to some friends for some delicious snacks and Christmas cheer.

Christmas Eve started with a special breakfast gift from Murray. These cute little donuts were so fun! I think Murray got the idea from Pinterest, or the North Pole, not sure which! ;)

(Powdered donettes, candy corn noses and chocolate chip eyes)

After breakfast we snuggled up by the fire to watch Gold Rush Alaska, we love that show. DVR is one of my favorite inventions. It was a super cozy start to our day full of preparations for Christmas Eve.

Conner and Doyle all snuggled up!

Christmas Eve was topped off by a surprise visit from Santa! It put such joy on every ones faces, young and old!

Scott and our surprise guest

After the party was over and house back to normal for round two, we let the kids open a present. Electric blankets for them both. I loved the cozy, quiet, by the light of the tree; just the 4 of us (and Doyle the Dog). The kids went to bed all warm and toasty to await Santa.

ready to tear in to those presents

He came!!! My almost 11 year old little cutie woke us with the delight every child should have on Christmas morning. Santa was so good to us!! We must have been very good this year!

Doyle was pretty good too. Luckily Santa left all his gifts before he ate all the beef stick off the kitchen counter.

Best husband in the world got me a camera. I have been using my phone for all my pictures. I am giddy with excitement!! Can't wait to start snapping photos!

BACON!!!! We split a pig with our neighbor last year. The bacon was divine, it was also long gone. Nothing you can buy compares to the flavor or texture of this bacon. Our sweet neighbor gave us her last package. That is love. We devoured it along with hot, yummy cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.

The afternoon on Christmas day we were surrounded by ones we love. Blessed.

I usually take my decorations down the day after Christmas. I enjoy them all month long and for me when it's over, it's over. This year though my heart is asking me to leave them up a few days. Soak it all in and sit back and enjoy them. Tomorrow, I have decided they will all say goodbye till another year has past and I will be delighted to see them all again. But for now, I will relax and bask in the beauty of the lights and all the treasures I only get to see once a year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Going, Going, GONE

This year I have the after Christmas blues. As I look around at the Christmas carnage I keeping thinking, next year will be different. Not that this year was bad, but it was different. Change takes time to get use to. It also takes time to make changes fit into your life. My life seems to be a series of adjustments lately. Christmas was especially hard. We always had a system, a rhythm. It was the same every year when I was a kid, changed when I got married, and then again when we had children. Maybe the reason these changes didn't affect me as much is because they were welcome changes. Welcoming my husband in to our lives, welcoming a baby into the Christmas celebration makes it that much more wonderful. We had some small tweaks along the way, no big deal. This year how ever, we are welcoming a divorce, and a breakup in to our Christmas celebration. Not as fun and exciting as weddings or births.

My husband hates the saying "it is what it is" but it keeps going around in my head lately. I think it's my way of convincing myself that this IS my new life. I can't change it, can't push rewind or fast forward. I need to accept the here and now. I know it will all work out, we will find our new normal. That doesn't change the fact that change can be hard. My Grandpa use to say that change is one of the only things you can count on.

Don't get me wrong, We had a lovely Christmas. Full of loved ones, good food and drink, we were blessed with so many presents, even had a surprise visit from Santa. It's just that our new normal doesn't seem normal. It doesn't feel like a rhythm at all, but I know it will, someday. Maybe next year will be different, just as this year was. Maybe it will be different year after year. Maybe we will find a new rhythm to our lives that we we feel is even better than our old one.

My children had a wonderful Christmas full of love, laughter, abundance and magic.That is what truly matters. Although I could tell they felt it too, they are easily distracted by toys from Santa, and chocolate.

So as I sit in the mess of Christmas yesterday I ponder... What I will do different next year? What will make us all feel more comfortable? What will make it feel more like Christmas? So it goes, you live and you learn, things in our lives change and we grow. We step back and look at our lives and see what we need to do to feel content. And then. We change. We change our plan. We make new traditions. We change the way we look at things. Then we grow. We accept it. We embrace this life, exactly as it is.

Change is one thing you can always count on. I can also count on HOPE. I have such hope for my wonderful little family. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for a brighter next year. Hope that I dealt the hand I got this past year with enough strength and dignity to make a difference. Hope that because we never lost sight of the big picture and what is important, we catch a few breaks in the up coming year. I also hope we remember the blessing we do have. We have each other and while we may not be perfect, I know we have many good years to come because we are perfect for each other. So, it wasn't perfect. We still loved, we laughed and we all had enough. Enough food, enough gifts, enough love. That is what matters.

As I head off to clean up the abundance of this years Christmas, I will make notes of what I will do different, but I will also make notes on what I wouldn't change for the world.

I know I can always count on the sun setting and creating a whole new tomorrow. A tomorrow filled with HOPE.

Wishing you all love and hope for a beautiful day ahead~S

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

May your Christmas be filled with love and laughter...

May your gifts be in abundance...

May you marvel at the beauty of the season...

May you find joy in your work...

May you take time to play...

May you always believe...

May you find the true meaning of Christmas...

Wishing you a Christmas filled with all things wonderful! ~S

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Glass-half-full kind of day!

It was one of those nights at our house! While hauling in our Costco purchases, the syrup fell off the washing machine in the laundry room. Yes that is 2 full gallons of syrup.
this picture is after much of the sticky goo was cleaned up.

It was one of the biggest messes I've ever seen..... and then we all fought. Yep, we laughed and cleaned it up like a perfect little family and then.... bam! We are yelling at boy, boy is yelling at us, girl is yelling at boy, and on it goes.

But I've realized the fact that we all lost our cool while cleaning up spilled syrup isn't whats matters. What is matters is what we did after. We talked. We hugged, my sweet hubby read a Christmas book to us by the tree, we finished our night on a good note. We all went to bed knowing we love each other and we belong together, no matter how crazy our life is sometimes.We ended with a better understanding of how to handle life's sticky situations (couldn't resist!) in the future.

We will handle situations wrong again, all of us, but what's important is that we come back to the big picture. That we look at our life's glass-as-half-full instead of half-empty. No, our life isn't perfect but it's still a good life.

When life seems to be a bit more half-empty than half-full, try to turn it around and focus on the good. It isn't always easy but there is always a silver lining. If nothing more than "at least it didn't spill on the carpet." That is a start. If you can find one thing to see in a better light, it gets easier. I'm trying to make it a habit. Do I always? No. When I had syrup all of my floor and everyone yelling was I seeing my world through rose colored glasses, absolutely not. But I'm working on it. I know my life is so much richer when I do. I could still be beating myself up today over my mistakes from last nights, I've done that many times!!! That is wasted energy. You live, you learn, you mess up, you decide you are going to see things in a different way, you put a smile on your face and a hug in your heart and you plug along.

I have a busy day getting ready for Christmas festivities!!! Every situation I encounter may not go as I planned but I know I'm going to make it glass-half-full kind of day!

Hope you do too. Arby's and I recommend it!! ~S

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Snowy Date Bars

This is a super old recipe of my Grandmother's. They are so quick and easy. If you don't like dates I bet you will still like these. They are sweet, a little spicy and bars are the easiest! They are one of my Dad's and my son's favorite Christmas cookie!

Snowy Date Bars~
2 eggs
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. soft butter
1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1c. chopped nuts (I use walnuts or pecans)
1 1/2 c. chopped dates
powdered sugar for rolling

Beat eggs until foamy.
Add brown sugar, vanilla and butter.
Beat until creamy.
Mix flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon to the egg mixture and beat until smooth.
Add nuts and dates mixing well.
Grease and flour a 9x9 pan.
Pour batter in to pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cake tested comes out clean.
Allow to cool slightly, cut in to bars and roll in powdered sugar.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The count down begins

Are you ready!! Doesn't our little advent tree look festive!? That's because it's almost full! This is all that's left to put on...
Honestly my favorite part of Christmas is the entire month of December. Decorating, planning, shopping and baking. I love the coziness of the house and the camaraderie that surrounds. People seem kinder, gentler and seem in better spirits. (Except those that just complain all season, I don't pay them any mind!) I love the weeks that lead up to the BIG day. I try to make sure I'm ready so all I have left to do is sit back and enjoy.

Murray the Elf ( Murray Christmas, get it!!?) has been busy at our house. I completely ran out of syrup, thank goodness Murray picked some up on his way back from the big guys place. Love Mrs. Butter-Worth's Christmas outfit!
Today he left a pop tart press...

 We rushed out  after school yesterday to finish teacher gifts. Today is the last day before break. YAHOO!!
Cute glass jars, simple homemade tags, twine and Muddy Buddies. Muddy Buddies are super easy, on the back of the Chex box. If I wasn't feeling so pitiful I would have remembered to add holiday m&m's to the mix. Looks more festive, oh well, it's not perfect, but close enough right!?

My Family Friday report consists of lots of Lego's (I'm the chief piece finder in our house!), Chex Mix and Muddy Buddies. A trip to the toy store, the kiddo's spend half of their allowance on Toy for Tots. What ever they earn we match, and it gets donated. They bought Thanksgiving dinner in November. Keeps them humble. Madeline got a barbie and Conner got Lego's. It makes me smile to think of a child who would otherwise go with out, opening a gift my child carefully picked out for them. Scott and I threw some treasures in the bin as well, a football, some card games and a airplane. Warms my heart.  

So my garage door repair man is here. I am feeling a little better, and will plow through my day. I'm dressed, and polished, that always makes me feel better. Filling up on So Be life water, and Emergen-C.

Off to enjoy lunch with my hubby and a great big house tidy. Enjoy the Friday!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

More to be Thankful for.

Tonight I did this to my garage door....
It actually looks way better now that it is down. my door was open, I got in to pick Maddie up at her friends house and pushed my opener in the car only to end up closing it!!! Started backing out and WHAM! Couldn't open it or close it or get my car out. Not to mention I am sicker than a dog! Poor me!

I know I said this post was about more to be thankful for, and it is. Maddie's friends dad closed my door and somehow maneuvered my car into the bay next to mine. Thankful for good friends.

My husband who has been hearing all this drama via text message was sweeter than sweet. I know many men that would have gotten, upset, mad or made their wives feel stupid. He did none of those. Thankful for his love, patience,understanding and kindness. I am blessed to call him mine.

My kiddos made their own dinner, microwaved corn dogs baby!!

No, not my finest moment or at all how this evening was to play out, but I will rest, medicate and feel better tomorrow. Someone will come fix that darn door, and we can afford to pay for it. I will still have the things most dear to me. My family and my friends, that are there for me for better or worse. My only regret is the 25 cents I have to put in the swear jar.

So, yes,  I am thankful. Because even when things are bad.. we still have so much good.

Thankful Thursday!!!

How did it get to Thursday already! This week has flown by! I have so much to be thankful for this week I had a hard time narrowing it down to 5! Here goes.....

#1. First off is this little boy..

He started a new school on Wednesday. He had his observation day on Monday and loved it! Tuesday he went to his old school, turned in his assignments (no way we weren't going to get credit for those 60 vocab words we have been working on!) and then took it upon himself to tell them all he would not be back.. his transfer starts tomorrow! The plan was for him to finish out the week and start after break! After I panicked a little I called his new school and he started his official first day on Wednesday! I am soooo happy for him. He has moved from a huge middle school to a small private school and I know the atmosphere and size will be such a huge benefit to him! Here's to my sweet Bubba's time to shine!!!

#2. I had these 4 making cookies in my kitchen on Sunday. I loved it, mess and all!!
Scott, Conner, My Dad and Maddie. Chocolate chip for Scott and Mads. Snowy date bars for Boppo (aka; my Dad) and Conner. Fun memories!

#3. Lego's!!!!
The big Lego bin had been put away for a while. Conner thought he was done with them. I knew better... he's still a kid even if he doesn't think so sometimes! Last week I took the liberty of bringing them back out. To my family room.... It's nuts, they would have drove me crazy out there before, I'd have seen a mess I need to solve, but now I love them right in the middle of our lives. Funny how our perspective can change everything .

I love to hear the kids chat while they play, love that they are so entertained by something that doesn't plug in, make noise or light up. Good old fashioned fun!

#4. My family room. Lego's included, it is so cozy this time of year! I love using the fire place and snuggling up safe and warm.
With our Christmas books sitting close by, we have 46 of them! From chunky board books when the kids were babies to beautiful hardback books I still love them all!
We have 8 trees this year... some are tiny but I think they add to the warmth and festiveness!

This room is where we spend a bunch of our time, it is cozy and full of the sounds of our life!!

#5. The conservatory in Manito Park. They transform it at Christmas time!

Holy cow! This place is gorgeous!! Billions of lights and flowers!

Cool Christmassy (that word is in the Shelbinary, honest) colored plant.

Loving the speckled poinsettia!

Winter Rose Red Poinsettias.

It feels magical in there!

It is an amazing, lighted winter wonderland!!

So, that's all folks. I am so looking forward to the kids being out of school for Christmas break! We have some fun stuff planned and some just chillaxin will be welcomed with open arms!

Enjoy all the beauty, love and warm fuzzy feelings this time of year oozes with! ~S

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Tree French Toast

  I love cute food! Even though my kiddo's are 10 and 12. I still make fun food every once and a while. I can't remember a St. Patricks day I didn't make green eggs and ham for breakfast. My son has put a stop to sandwiches cut like hearts or shamrocks in his lunch, but at home he still thinks it's fun. He'd never admit that by the way.
 Christmas Tree French Toast is an idea I got YEARS ago from a Taste of Home magazine. It is so easy and cuter than cute!

Christmas Tree French Toast

  • bread
  • eggs and milk whisked together. I add fresh ground nutmeg, cinnamon, touch of sugar and vanilla. There are no measurements for my french toast, I just eyeball it.
  • to egg mixture add green food coloring to desired color, 6-7 drops.
  • Fry french toast as usual.
  • Slice diagonally so you have 2 triangles.
  • Stack and add a sausage link trunk. I have also used little smokies for trunks.
  • Sprinkle with powdered sugar "snow"
  • I used red hots as ornaments but to make it just a winter tree you can omit these.
Fun, festive, easy and delicious! Enjoy!

Almost forget to check in on Family time!! We played games, Candy Land is still one of Maddie's favorites because some how she always wins, that and Sorry!, the boys played Stratego quite a few times. We also made an effort to read some of our Christmas books (I love my Christmas book collection!) We watched our family shows, as well as Polar Express. Nothing spectacular, just together time. Going to try and throw something new, fun and different into the mix next week!!!

Have a wonderful weekend! ~S

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I love Thankful Thursday! All week I have been finding myself focusing more on my blessing.

Here goes!!

#1. I had a Starbucks date after school with this little cutie. She is growing into such an amazing little person. She makes me smile!

#2. As I was picking up my Snap fish order at Walmart, I saw these socks. I love them. They make me happy and I am going to buy some more cute socks to wear under my boots! Aren't they the cutest? Maddie says I look like Santa's helper! (You can see my "no room for the blues" polish peeking through on my toes!!)

#3. I love this time of year. I would love to get some snow, however the frost in the mornings is gorgeous! The deck of our master looked like this when I got up. Isn't it an amazing sight? It reminds me of Fantasia, where the little fairies fly around making the seasons change!

#4. At the Grocery store I saw this! Oh my gosh! I love it and am so impressed! It is made entirely out of Pepsi product half racks! I think he is adorable.

#5. My hubby brought me a cup of coffee in bed on Sunday, accompanied by a yummy candy cane cookie. Yeah, I'm pretty blessed. He's a keeper!!

So there you have it... They are big things and little things and some in between. I think that's how it should be. When we notice, appreciate and give thanks for the little pleasures along with the big ones, our lives become richer.
Take a look at the world around you. What makes you smile? What makes your heart swell? What do you see, hear, touch or taste that makes you feel happy? Acknowledge them. You will feel lighter because you do!