Nov 26, 2015

Top 10 Christmas Books for Kids

The Gift Giver

How do you contain the excitement for Christmas?  Sometimes it can be overwhelming for adults let alone kids.  Kids get so excited and they can hardly wait for Christmas to come.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming on parents.  I like to spend time with my sweet daughters any chance I can get.  At times this can be very hard, but I think it is important and I ALWAYS schedule time to spend with them.  If I don't then it simply would not happen.  

We have many activities that we love to do together, but one of our favorite things to do is read together.  Even Isla who is 3 months old loves to sit on my lap and look at the pictures.  Around Christmas we get to unpack some of our favorite books.  We have so many, but we narrowed our list down to 10 of our favorite books and we wanted to share them with you! 

The Gift Giver

Top 10 Christmas Books for Kids

I first got the novel of this book.  It is a fantastic book for adults.  I try and read it every Christmas season.  Now with this one I can share it with my girls.  It is one of those books that reminds you very quickly of your blessings and that we all need to have the attitude of gratitude during the holiday season.  

Top 10 Christmas Books for Kids

We have this one in a board book and I love it in that form because it is perfect for little ones and is all about the real meaning of Christmas.  It comes in hardcover and paperback as well though. 

Top 10 Christmas Books for Kids

If you have been a follower of my blog for awhile you will know that I absolutely love BabyLit books.  I have every single one of them.  I love how this classic story is told to a baby.  It is also a learning tool in the fact that it points out the colors in the illustrations.  

Top 10 Christmas Books for Kids

I love how the real story of Christmas is told in such a simplified way to grab the attention of babies.  This board book is one that we love very much year after year.  

Top 10 Christmas Books for Kids

If you live in Utah this is such a fun book to read.  Hannelore loves to read it every year.  She loves looking at the pictures and noticing places she has been before.  

Top 10 Christmas Books for Kids

I love the song Mary, Did you know?  It is a powerful song with powerful words.  So naturally I love this book because I love how things are brought to life in illustrated books.  

Top 10 Christmas Books for Kids

This book!  I love it.  It is one that my mom got when it first came out.  I remember reading it as a family when I was in high school.  I love it.  It makes me remember all the blessings I have in my life. 

Top 10 Christmas Books for Kids

This book has such amazing illustrations.  Once again it reminds us all to treat others kindly and be a giving person during the Christmas season and all year long. 

Top 10 Christmas Books for Kids

This is a classic book.  I love how you can feel the magic of Christmas when you read it.  You can follow up the reading of the book with the movie.  The movie is so cute as well.  

Top 10 Christmas Books for Kids

10.  The Gift Giver:  This book is new for us this year.  I absolutely love this book.  It has beautiful pictures.  It tells the real reason for Christmas and has great symbolism in it.  Hannelore loves it.  I did have to condense the reading because there are a lot of words on each page and she gets restless, but as she gets older I can condense it less and less.  I love books like this because I get to read the all the words and enjoy the phenomenal pictures to help bring the story to life.  Then Hannelore can enjoy Christmas while reading about the real reason for the season.  AND she can grow into this book as well.  This book will be something to look forward to reading for many years to come.   

This year will be so fun for us as we cuddle together and read each of these stories.  I hope each of them impacts our lives and helps us remember the true meaning of Christmas.

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Nov 13, 2015

Here's a quick way to find out what produce is in season and recipes to go with them

I plan a meal and it sounds so perfect.  However, when I go to buy the food for the recipe I realize that the food is not in season.  So I try and decide: do I want to buy mediocre/terrible produce and possibly not even find the item I am looking for OR do I change my whole meal plan?  Neither option sounds that great to me.

This is almost constantly my dilemma.  I am not a huge foodie.  I can cook, but I am not a genius in the kitchen.  So I needed a resource to help me know what is in season.  Well there are many things on Pinterest to help me find out what produce is in season, but then I am presented with another problem....I have to go searching for recipes that use those produce items that are in season.

I do not have a ton of time and although I love cooking home cooked meals I do NOT love searching for hours and hours for recipes that will work for my family.  Again, it isn't my strongest passion.  So do you want to know my solution, because I am giddy to tell you about it!  Drum roll!!!!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using some of the links. However, all opinions are 100% my own.  I also received a free e-book in exchange for this post. 

In walks this beauty into my life.  It is an e-cookbook!  It is genius and I love everything about it.  Let me gush over it a bit and then you can go get one for yourself.

Here are the reasons I LOVE this book:

  1. It has 75 information/recipe packed pages!
  2. There is a picture with each recipe.  (Isn't it so much better to look at what you are going to eat before you actually make it.  That way you know what to expect).
  3. The organization of this book speaks to me.  There are all the money saving tips at the front.  Then the pages are categorized by season.  The "Season" pages start with a list of what is in season that time of year.  Then immediately following that list are 14 recipes to use the produce in season.  It is beautifully organized.  (Oh and there are more saving tips sprinkled in the "Season" pages.  
  4. The pictures in the book are vibrant and wonderful to look at.  No one wants to cook something that is just "blah" looking.  
My favorite money saving tip I learned from the book (well one of my favorites):  Your goal is to buy apples for $.99 a pound or less.  Now I know what to look for.  

The best news is that it is on sale right now!  It is $9.99 until November 21st!  Then it goes up to $14.99 (which is still a fantastic deal for what you are getting, but it is always better to save $5.00, right?)  

Here's how you get your own copy:
  1. Click HERE!
  2. Then enter f2d to get the $5.00 off.  
  3. It's that easy!  I hope you enjoy it as much I have. 

I plan a meal and it sounds so perfect.  AND I go to the store, find beautiful and marvelous tasting produce, and it doesn't take me long to look for the recipes I am using.  This is a beautiful ending to the story.  

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Nov 10, 2015

Gratitude Banner

burlap, gratitude

Thanksgiving?!  The forgotten holiday.  Isn't that what it seems like?  We get so excited for Fall and all the fun holidays that start in Fall and then carry us through the winter.  Halloween is what starts us off and then it seems that when Halloween is over we jump right to Christmas.  This is so sad because Thanksgiving is a great holiday to reflect on all the good in our lives.  It is a holiday to focus on things we are grateful or thankful for.  

Since it is so easy to forget I had to come up with something that I would see every single day.  Something that was bigger than a small decoration that can be overlooked.  I wanted my home to show that we love Thanksgiving and that we did not forget this great holiday.  

That is when I came up with the idea of a Thanksgiving banner.  I wanted it to be simple and fit in great with my Fall decor.  I didn't know what word I wanted to put on it and then it came to me.  Gratitude.  So I got right to work so I could enjoy this great banner for the whole month of November.

See the full tutorial on The Mama's Girls blog!  I am guest posting on their blog.  I loved being a guest over there since they have such an awesome blog.  While you are over there stay awhile and check out their fantastic posts.  

gratitude, November

So instead of Thanksgiving being the forgotten holiday, I hope it is one of our favorite holidays this season.  This banner will help me remember to have gratitude in my heart throughout November.

P.S. I know I have been a little MIA lately.  My life has been turned upside down lately.  I will write about it soon.  I have so much to post about and I want to be more present with this blog, but I have to take care of some things in my life first.  Be patient.  Please keep coming back!

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Nov 2, 2015

Positive thoughts

This post is written by health/fitness contributor, Melissa.  She also blogs at On The Go Healthy Moms.

With anything in life, to be who we want to be, we have to believe that we can be that person and in order to be that person, it starts with our thoughts and what we think of our self and what we think of others.  If we go around having a bad day, it usually stems from what attitude we had about the specific situation that happened to us.  Our health and spiritual well-being is so important. What we want and what we do will turn out to be who we ARE, and who we have become.

As mothers we have lots of responsibilities.  We can wake up with a great start to the day, OR we can wake up thinking negatively and complaining about all we have to do!

I have two tips for you!

The first is to wake up with determination.  The second is to go to bed with satisfaction!  Believe in yourself that you can be happy, you can accomplish great things.  You can get past obstacles in your way, and you can rise above.

But it all comes from the thoughts and belief in yourself that you can turn a negative thought into a positive one.  Only you can choose that.  Make each day count, make your days full of love and respect for YOU and for others around you.

Oct 21, 2015

Easy Frozen Themed Pumpkins

Sven, Kristoff, Olaf, Anna, Elsa

"Mommy.  Can we make Frozen pumpkins?"  My daughter asked me.  I took a deep breath and thought, "Really?  Those are some intricate demands."  I was thinking about all the details in the faces of each of the characters she wanted to make the pumpkins look like.  I started instantly having a panic attack.  If it was just me that is one thing, but I knew she couldn't do all the details and I knew her attention wouldn't last long enough to watch me do it.  

So I had a problem and yet I wanted to help her achieve her dream.  I wanted to do something with her and make the pumpkins look like she wanted.  Frozen is a HUGE part of our life.  I keep thinking that one day she will grow out of it or move on to something else.  For awhile she does move on, but she ALWAYS comes back to Frozen.  

So back to the problem at hand.  What was I going to do to help my sweet daughter achieve "Frozen" pumpkins?  Then it hit me.  AHA!  I knew what I was going to do!  

Our "Frozen" pumpkins
Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, Sven

I will go over them one by one, but I can promise you they are fast they are easy.  So fast and so easy that my three year old daughter was entertained the whole time.  These might not be exactly what you want to do, but hopefully you can get inspiration from them.  First off I used the little pumpkins because they are far more manageable for a three year old than a bigger pumpkin.  

Easy Frozen Themed Pumpkins
Hannelore painted the pumpkin a light blue and she also sprinkled the blue glitter on it.  It was so simple and so easy and she knew EXACTLY who this pumpkin represented.  This was the first pumpkin that we made.  

Easy Frozen Themed Pumpkins
Hannelore painted this pumpkin brown.  We were in the process of looking for branches for his antlers when I remembered she had the antlers in a Frozen Play-Doh pack she got at her birthday party.  So we used a screwdriver to make a hole for the antlers to stick into.  I think he's kind of cute don't you?! (wink)  This was the second pumpkin that we made and I think by this time she knew that we were making pumpkins that were LIKE the characters and not actually the character faces.  

Easy Frozen Themed Pumpkins
Hannelore painted the pumpkin white.  However, I taped off the nose part so that it would stay orange.  Then I printed the Olaf printable, but changed the printer setting to print it to 3x5 (that way it was small).  Then I used it as a template so I could paint on his face.  I think Hannelore thought it was awesome that I painted on his face.  

Easy Frozen Themed Pumpkins
This was the hardest one and I had to help Hannelore the most with this one.  All you need to do is pick two colors that are close to the blue and the reddish purple in Anna's dress.  Then follow the natural lines of the pumpkins.  You can tape off the lines, but we didn't do that since we are doing it together and she did not care.  Then we sprinkled it with purple glitter.  

Easy Frozen Themed Pumpkins
This one was the most abstract of them all to begin with.  Hannelore was adamant about him being black and brown mixed together.  So that is what Hannelore did.  Then when she went to bed I was uncertain with how plain he was.  I felt like he needed a bit more.  So I decided to scratch off the outline of his face so the orange from the pumpkin was showing through (to do this I utilized his template from the same website I did Olaf's face with).  I was a bit scared she would be mad that I did that, but she loves the way he turned out.  I had to remind myself that these pumpkins were for her so I needed to not over-complicate them and be happy with the little imperfections.    

Now that I look back to my panic attack I laugh, because I am so glad I did this with my daughter.  She is so very pleased with these pumpkins.  She is telling everyone about them that we talk to.  She is beaming about how they turned out and the smile on her face makes me happy.  

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Oct 19, 2015

What's on my menu?-Week 3

When I planned out the meals for the month I looked at this week in particular and thought, "How in the world am I going to have time to fix dinner?"  This week is one of those weeks that is over booked.  This week looked stressful before I even got to it.  Then to top it off my little family has been sick the last 5 days.  So my house is a disaster.  Needless to say I am glad I planned for a week that was a bit hectic.

It is so hectic that I thought it was a good idea to plan everything that I would eat, even down to the snacks.  You see when I get overwhelmed or stressed I tend to not eat.  I am not a stress eater.  I am a stress "starver".  (If that is a word)

So I thought I could make my stressful week benefit my readers!  How do you ask?  Well I am going to share my meal plan this week.  Now don't judge.  There will be some eating out and all of the meals are SUPER easy.  Also, there are going to be repeats.  I did this on purpose for two reasons.  Number 1: I like to utilize my leftovers (if they are good as leftovers).  Number 2: I did not want to spend a lot this month on groceries because we are trying to be frugal for Christmas coming up and this way it kept the grocery list done by utilizing the same foods just on different days.

So here you go!  Enjoy!  Hopefully this will take care of the question, "What's for dinner?"


Breakfast: Waffles with peanut butter on them and bananas
Snack: Smoothie
Lunch: Pasta with Parmesan cheese on it and veggies on the side
Snack: Veggies and dip
Dinner: Wendy's chili and baked potato

Breakfast: Scrabbled egg, toast, and fruit
Snack: Crackers and peanut butter
Lunch: McDonald's salad and fruit parfait
Snack:Trail Mix
Dinner: Mother Load Soup and a side of fruit

Breakfast: Yogurt, oatmeal, and juice
Snack: String cheese and fruit
Lunch: A kid's meal from Dickey's
Dinner: Salad with shredded rotisserie chicken on top and crackers on the side

Breakfast: Sausage patty sandwich and fruit
Snack: Veggies and dip
Lunch: Wrap and veggies
Snack: Crackers and peanut butter
Dinner: Pasta with Parmesan cheese on it and veggies on the side

Breakfast: Cereal and fruit
Snack: Trail mix
Lunch: Wendy's chili and baked potato
Snack: String cheese and fruit
Dinner: McDonald's salad and fruit parfait

Breakfast: Waffles with peanut butter on them and bananas
Snack: Smoothie
Lunch: Mother Load Soup (left over from Tuesday's dinner) and a side of fruit
Snack: Veggies and dip
Dinner: Going on a date with my husband (probably to Zupas)

Breakfast: Cereal and fruit
Snack: Trail mix
Lunch: Salad with shredded rotisserie chicken on top and crackers on the side
Snack: String cheese and fruit
Dinner: Wrap and veggies

I feel so much more prepared for the the week by planning out everything that I will eat.  So if you feel overwhelmed by the week or even if it is a day then plan it out.  I am much less overwhelmed because I did so.  Have a great week!  

Check out my other weekly meal plans I have put together: 

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Oct 15, 2015

Stay Sane Cleaning Series Step 12: Clean the floors

vacuum, mop, sweep

As I was walking in my family room earlier this week I was looking around at the floor and was DISGUSTED with what I saw!  There was little bits of crumbs from crackers, there was tiny stickers, there was burlap "fuzz" from a project I was working on, and so much more.  Yuck I thought to myself.  When was the last time I vacuumed? 

Well I am ashamed to admit it has been far too long.  Here I am writing this cleaning series and I have not vacuumed in awhile!  I couldn't believe the mess that I was looking at.  I was embarrassed and there was no one there.  It was only me. 

However, take the embarrassment away and I just felt gross.  I did not feel clean.  When I walked on my carpet and rugs I didn't feel at peace or even comfortable in my own space.  It is a sad feeling and I had to do something about it right then.  

I did cut myself some slack because I am still trying to figure out how to be a mom of two.  Life is crazy right now.  I am not sleeping.  I have mommy guilt so bad lately.  I am trying to figure out how to get in all my hours at work.  I just got a new assignment at church that is talking much more of my time than before.  

So the moral of this story is to not skip your vacuuming sessions (or floor cleaning session) each week.  This for me is a HUGE step.  Here is the reason why.  90% of my house is hard wood or tile.  So with that comes sweeping AND moping.  Then to top that off I have a lot of rugs that needed to be vacuumed as well.  So this step takes me usually 45 minutes.  YUCK!  I know!  

However, when my feet are happy I notice my whole body feels cleaner and happier.  This is something that NEEDS to be done.  So even if it takes a long time it has to be done.  So I turn on music and dance the whole time.  That way the time goes faster.  

Once again do not forget what I said, "When my feet are happy I notice my whole body feels cleaner and happier."  I do not believe that I am the only one that feels that way.  The house not only FEELS cleaner when I clean the floors it actually IS cleaner.  

Check out the other steps in this series:

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Oct 8, 2015

31 Kid Friendly Things to do in October

Egg carton bats, Mummy Candy Bars, decorate a door like a mummy

How in the world do I go from the warm weather to the cooler weather while keeping my daughter entertained?  I think this is a question that many parents struggle with.  What do you do to control the excitement of Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and then Christmas?  

Halloween is the start of all the holidays and many kids start getting really restless and want to be entertained.  They always want to be doing something.  My sweet Hannelore is right there with all the other kids.  

Oct 5, 2015

Is there something you are forgetting to do while exercising?

I have the green light to start exercising from my doctor.  Only problem...I can't find the motivation to do it!  HUGE PROBLEM.  I know how important it is and I know I will feel better after I do it.  However, those reasons are not good enough.  

I need something that will help me get through it.  I need something to look forward to WHILE I am exercising.  I need that one thing that will push me to do it.  Melissa has a great solution to my problem.  I hope it can help many of you.  

Oct 4, 2015

Family Home Evening: October 2015

God, the Eternal Father, Jesus Christ, Holy Ghost
Disclaimer: This post is about my faith.  If that makes you uncomfortable then please stop reading.  It is not my intention to make my readers feel awkward in any way.  I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I am very proud of that part of me and I love the church with all my heart.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints the family is key.  Every Monday night is devoted toward "Family Home Evening".  It is a time to spend with the family so individuals can grow together as a family as well as closer to our Savior.  I try and do something spiritual every week, although, some weeks it will be spent with the family in a more casual setting.

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