Tag Archive | holidays

Holidays upon us…week 3

Good Monday Morning ya’ll. I hope this week is so much better than last week. Maybe I can play catch up on my To-Do list. So let’s jump right into it.

Halloween: You should be pretty well prepared for this Holiday. I picked up the last 2 items I needed this past weekend. But I know some of you have kids in school and sometimes they do a Halloween party. Start thinking about what you want to donate for that. Even though we homeschool, I make a big deal out the holiday and make it feel like a fun day. We have special treats and theme lunches or breakfast. Ghost pancakes anyone?

Growing a Large Family

Throwback pictures

Those of you in neighborhoods that participate in Trick or Treating, buy your candy now. And make sure it’s candy you like! This way if it’s one of those years where not many kids came by, you aren’t stuck with a bunch of candy you can’t stand. I personally like to buy plain chocolate bars, M&M’s, Reese Pieces and peanut butter cups. Why? Because they can be frozen and made into yummy desserts throughout the whole year. I also buy lollipops or goldfish crackers for the little ones who can’t eat candy.

Thanksgiving: Make your invite list. And start putting the word out that those people are more than welcome to come over on Thanksgiving. But give them a deadline on when they need to give you a definite answer. Start thinking of your menu and what items you want to be in charge of. I am also making up my cornbread and freezing it this week for my cornbread stuffing. I am changing it up a little bit this year. I will post the recipe later in the week.

Throwback pictures

Throwback pictures

Black Friday: I added this category this week because I know a lot of people are into that day after Thanksgiving shopping. I did it once, with a 4 month old, while being exhausted and sick. Thank god my hubby and brother went with me. But since then I haven’t seen anything that has made me jump up and rush out at 3am! But I do still check the ads, which is what you should be doing too. Starting now, keep checking for Black Friday ads online here. You know everything gets leaked on the internet and these are no exception. As of this morning, there aren’t any out but you can sign up for ad alerts when they do start hitting the net. And believe me they will start coming out very soon! So why not get a heads up!?

Throwback pictures

Throwback pictures

Christmas: Maybe you aren’t the hit all the stores and get everything done the day after Thanksgiving type of person. Me neither! But I do like to shop and I like to shop in my jammies! Shopping online has become my favorite past time. And if I have to buy something why not get a little money back or points towards a gift card for myself. My 2 favorite websites for shopping is My Points and Ebates. My Points also has a store where you can buy gift cards and earn bonus points. Get an account set up and familiarize with the website and how things work. Also look for their daily deals where you can get double or triple the points. Might even see a deal you can’t pass up.

Also if you are one of those people that buy little things throughout the year (like me!) then now is the time to go through all that stuff and make a list. I always have list broken down of who I need to shop for and what I have bought them already. This year I will add an amount category.

I hope you are enjoying this series as much as I am enjoying writing it. See you next Monday for week 4.

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Holidays upon us…week 2

I know I am late this week, it’s just been the week from hell. Sickness, Doctor appointments and more sickness has taken over. But I finally have a chance to get week 2 posted.

Halloween: Finalize your plans and costumes! If you wait too much longer, you’re going to be running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to find your or your child’s costume.

Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving seems to be the one holiday I use the most spices. So now would be a good time to go through your spice cabinet and make a list of any that need to be replaced. This will make it easy when you see a really good sale or coupon. Another thing, I forgot to mention, sign up for Fresh Market’s emails. Last year they sent out an email to pre-order your turkey and also sent a coupon for $5 off.

Start collecting your recipes and putting them some place where you will know where they are at. This will save you time when you are making a grocery list and begin cooking on Thanksgiving.

Christmas: Just keep looking for different ideas. This year looks like it will be really tight budget wise for us, so I have already started letting people know that I am shopping for kids 18 and under only; with the exceptions of my Mom and my Mother in Law. And while we are on the subject of budgets: make one and stick to it for Christmas. This is the hardest thing for me! But I am going to try my best this year.

This is all I can think of right now. I am literally running on caffeine. I promise next week will be much better and on time.

Holidays upon us…Week 1

Well it’s the first full week of October. And that means the holiday frenzy begins. But first, can I just say Man, this year flew by! So I thought I would blog about what I am doing to prepare for the holidays. Every Monday, there will be a post about what I have done to get ahead of the craziness. In October, we have homecoming, Alissa’s 18th Birthday and Halloween. But I am also thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and Christmas because with a family this size and a schedule as busy as ours is, I don’t have time to be running out the door the day before to prepare.

First thing, get your kids talking about Halloween. Especially if they want the most popular costume on the shelves, you have got to find it now. Believe me, I ran into this problem last year with my son’s costume.

Last years Olaf costume

Last years Olaf costume

Everybody wanted to be a character from Frozen. And trying to find the costume in his size at a reasonable price was a nightmare. As you can see, I got it but it was a close one and cost more than I like to admit! So get them talking now. I have a feeling if you try to go out even the week of Halloween you will have a hard time. At our Walmart, the school supplies were gone and it was the day of school starting. Everyone is trying to get ahead so you need to be even more ahead of them. And if your going to be making your child’s costume get started NOW!

Luckily for me, my kids have been talking about it for the last 2 weeks. I actually had to put a rule that no one could talk about Halloween until October 1st it was becoming an all day, every day conversation.

Now is also a good time for figure out your plans. Usually we go to my mom’s house in the next city over because my little country city doesn’t do much as far as house to house. But this year, we will have 1 kid doing their own thing, 1 kid going to a party and 2 with us trick or treating. So we have to stay close by to be able to pick up one or both kids. We will be going to the trunk or treats around Plant City.

Next, Thanksgiving! If you plan on ordering a farm fresh turkey, now is the time to do it and put your deposit down. Some areas it may even be too late. If that’s the case start looking for a backup plan. I can say with total confidence that if you can’t do farm fresh and you have a Fresh Market near you, get it from there. That is where last years turkey came from and it was the best one we ever had. I know in my area most of the farm fresh have all been reserved. So I will probably get a Fresh Market turkey.

Growing a large family

 

Now, Christmas!  Definitely start looking at sales ads, emails or just cyber window shopping. Start getting an idea of the new holiday items coming out so you can be making a list of things to possibly buy. I haven’t actually bought any presents yet because I have 2 birthdays to get through first. But I usually start shopping the end of the month. But I have been keeping my eye out on the new video games coming out, toys and latest electronics.

This month is actually a pretty easy month. Mostly just mental stuff. So what I also like to do is declutter and start organizing. I have actually been doing this for a few weeks already, but I still have a tons more to go. I just have this need to purge before the holidays hit and the all the gift giving happens. What I am doing is selling what I think someone else would appreciate and donating the rest.

And of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t at least mention homesteading preparations. I use the deep litter method during the winter. And even though I still have about 3 months before a significant cold front moves through, I like to be prepared and not caught off guard. Now is the time to do a deep cleaning of your coop and fix anything that needs to be fix. I have a fence that has been calling my name for a couple of months now. I also took everything out of the coop, scrubbed it good and put bed shavings in. This is the start of deep litter method. Every day I fluff and turn the bed shavings and add more in once a week.  I keep adding more bed shavings for a good month or two, depending on the weather, before I start adding the straw layer which will hold the heat. I will also be ordering my ingredients to make my own chicken scratch.

Look for week 2 next Monday. Happy Holidays Ya’ll!

 

Hello 2015!!

New year 2015

 

I know I am a little late, but honestly I don’t start my new year resolutions until after my birthday on the 5th. Why deprive myself of cake and celebration!?! I made it another year and, dang it, I earned that slice of cake!

So my new year starts when winter break is over and normal life resumes. Well as close to normal as this bunch can get.

I have thought about my new year’s resolution for sometime now. Months actually! I feel like 2014 was my year to find myself. I found out that I have a passion for homesteading that I never knew was there. And not only homesteading, but natural living, without all the chemicals and medications. I like being able to keep my family healthy without the use of antibiotics or over the counter drugs. I like cooking from scratch and knowing what is going into my food and that the items are of the best quality that I can find.

But there were many areas that I floundered at. I don’t want to say fail because that is so negative. I feel like I never failed. I may not have put my best effort in to them, but I never failed, so floundered is the perfect description.

So here they are my resolutions:

  1. Learn more and love life~ Enjoy it, every minute! I noticed my anxiety has flared up a little bit and I want to get a handle on it better so I can accomplish this task. Just get healthier in general. I see too many family members fighting different diseases and I don’t want that. I wanna be around for a long, long time.
  2. Expand our homesteading. I would love to get where we can raise our own meat and add some more egg layers to our little flock. Ducks are coming only because they are so cute!
  3. Separate myself from the negativity. Too many times I let other people’s life choices stress me out and worry me. Yes, they are my family and I love them, but they are not my immediate (in my household) family and those are the ones that need my guidance and attention. So I am going to learn to Let it go! (cue Frozen song here)
  4. Blog more and interact with more bloggers. Expand this and possibly make a business that will thrive and I can be extremely proud of.
  5. Spend more time with my kids. This year my oldest is turning 18!!! How did that happen I have no idea?!? But I feel like I blinked and her childhood was gone. So I am using that as an eye opener and cherishing every moment I have left with them all.

To help me with these, I will probably set little mini goals each month. I seem to do well with a to do list type thing. Sometimes I get so busy with just the everyday stuff that I look up and a whole month has gone by. I would like to try to slow down a bit and that is my overall theme of the year.

Slow down and enjoy being me!

My Favorite Childhood Holiday Cookie: Pecan Balls

DSC_0476

 

Growing up my mom wasn’t around a lot, so my memories of traditions are very few. But one thing I do remember is these amazing little bite size cookies. I couldn’t get enough of them. Well one year my mom decided that I was too old and stopped making all the cookies and holiday feast. It all fell on me. I searched every cookbook looking for a pecan ball recipe. What I didn’t know until I got this beautiful thing called internet is that they are actually called Mexican Wedding Cakes.

Then it took quite a few years to perfect the recipe to how I remember them tasting. Now it has become a tradition with my kids and they know it is not Christmas without this cookie! I even got my picky lil man to try them this year and it was instant love.

I really hope you enjoy this cookie as much as my family does.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 8 tbs confectioner sugar, plus more for rolling in
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except pecans with a mixer until well blended. Add pecans and mix.

DSC_0471

I used my smaller cookie scooper on these because I like them to be 1-2 bite size. Scoop and roll dough into round small balls. Place on lightly greased baking sheet.

Pecan Balls

As you can see I put a lot on one sheet because these cookies don’t spread, they hold their form. I managed to get on batch on one sheet. They do puff up a little so you may have a few that are touching but nothing you can easily pull apart.

Bake for 11-12 minutes.

Pecan Balls

As you can see they look almost the same after baked. So you have to do a touch test. You want them a little firm and a very light coloring.

Cool completely then roll in additional confectioner’s sugar. Now if you are like me who absolutely does not wait until they are cool completely; then you will have to roll them again in a day or so. If they last that long!

Pecan Balls

Enjoy!

 

December Preschool

DSC_0436

The holidays are here along with the hustle and bustle. This time of year always throws off our homeschooling schedule. I just have way too much cooking and shopping to do. Along with all the fun holiday activities! There is visiting Santa, Christmas crafts and baking, visiting fun holiday places and watching all those movies. So why not make that a part of homeschooling. I know I learn something new every year, so I am sure your kids will too. Plus your kids are only young once and you want to enjoy these little memories before their too big and too cool to hang with you. Believe me! I know!

Activities planned for the month:

  • Elf on the shelf
  • Putting up our tree
  • Visiting Santa
  • Mailing a letter to Santa
  • Baking Cookies
  • Pinecone Painting
  • G is for Gingerbread~ Gingerbread paint, making gingerbread men or house
  • Learn about reindeers
  • Poinsettias
  • National Cocoa Day~ measuring and mixing (that’s math people!)
  • Grinch day~ Learn about kindness. Pin the heart on the Grinch and grinch juice as a snack. Plus watching old and new version of the movie.
  • Candy Canes~ Cane Hunt, Playdough, Paint and erupting Candy canes
  • Polar Express PJ Party
  • 1st day of Winter
  • Snowball Fight and Homemade Snow Fun
  • Advent Calendar
  • Walt Disney’s B-day December 5
  • New Year’s Eve

 

Field Trips planned:

  • Disney World~ At Hollywood Studios, they have an amazing light display called the Osbourne Family Lights. It is the best display I have ever seen. And, of course, the lighting of the castle at Magic Kingdom. This year Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf are lighting the tree. Very exciting!
  • Park
  • Florida Aquarium
  • Lowry Park Zoo
  • Lowes for the monthly building activity
  • Looking at Christmas lights

Because it’s a busy month, I haven’t planned out everyday. I just made a list and when I need an idea I search through and grab the ones that appeal to me that day.

For more ideas visit my pinterest boards. Christmas Activities for school and December preschool lessons

I also have a Christmas board that has a lot of Elf on the Shelf ideas and Advent Calendar activities.

 

 

Turkey Casserole

Turkey Casserole

So the holiday is over and your all turkey sandwiched out. But you still have turkey leftover. Well this recipe is the perfect use for it. It has all the flavors of Thanksgiving in one dish. (Well maybe not the pumpkin pie, because that’s taking it too far! Just put that one on the side.) And it is so adaptable to what you have in the house so don’t worry about running out and buying ingredients.

I found this recipe many years ago on Food.com, but you know how I like to change things up. So here is our version of it.

Turkey Casserole

2 tsp Grapeseed oil or coconut oil

1/3 cup minced onions

2 Tbs white wine

1/4 cup flour

1 2/3 cups heavy cream, 1/2 and 1/2 or milk

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 tsp thyme dried or fresh (chopped)

1/2 tsp sage dried or fresh (chopped)

1/4 cup cream cheese

10 oz bag of egg noodles

1/3 cup shredded mozzarella

3 cups chopped turkey or chicken

1/3 cup seasoned breadcrumbs (or use leftover stuffing or a mix of both)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1) Start cooking your noodles as package says. Keep an eye on them and drain when their done.

2) In a sauce pan, cook saute onions in oil over medium high heat for 1 minute. Add wine and let it cook out for 1 minute.

3) Add flour (use a little at a time; if you don’t need the full 1/4 cup don’t worry about it.) and stir for 2 minutes.

4) Slowly add milk, broth, thyme, sage, a sprinkling salt and pepper and cream cheese; stir and cook until creamy and combined.

5) In a large bowl, combine turkey, noodles, mozzarella and sauce.

6) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

7) Spoon into greased casserole dish.

8) Time for the topping. This is totally up to you. Do you have a lot of left over stuffing? Then use that. Do you have a little bit but not enough? Combine with seasoned breadcrumbs. No stuffing at all? Use the seasoned breadcrumbs only, but I like to add a little dried marjoram, sage and thyme to add more of the stuffing taste to it.

9) Add topping, and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

10) Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Now this is exactly how I serve it because sometimes I think I am living with a house full of toddlers. No one wants their veggies. Including my hubby! (SSHHH but he is the worse.)

So if it was just me and my girls. I would at the beginning saute some chopped mushrooms with the onions and switch my oil to butter. Also cut my turkey back to maybe 2-2 1/2 cups, since we added mushrooms.

And I would also add peas in before you mix everything up. Or you could even use green beans. Maybe leftovers depending on how they were made. We had green bean casserole so that won’t work this year. But if you got regular cooked green beans; drain and add them in.

Honestly, the plain ol’ version my family likes is okay by me too. It has a home cooked feel. Something about the flavors just scream warm and fuzzy. Try it! You will understand what I am talking about.