Thursday, May 29, 2014

Summer Traditions

This poor little blog of mine needs some TLC. Sorry for the long gaps between posts. I am hoping to get back into the swing of things. 
Today I wanted to share some of our favorite summer traditions. I often get many questions regarding all of our summertime fun. It may look like we do a lot and have a lot going on, but we really don't. I like to keep things fairly simple. My biggest tip of any mom is to just plan. Activities with your kids do not need to last hours. Some days 15 minutes is plenty. You have to plan and be organized to have a fun and easy summer. Here are some things that we do to help us with our summer planning.

We make a poster of things we want to do during the summer and hang it up where we will see it everyday. My kids love to check things off and it's nice to look back at the end of summer and see everything that we were able to do together. 
I like to have a summer schedule because while we want to be having a lot of fun, laundry still has to get done. Typically, I plan our activities around my cleaning and laundry schedule (which I typically do on Monday's). Then we are free to leave the house without me having that hanging over my head. Here is what works for our family schedule:

Make Something Monday
Take a Trip Tuesday
Wet and Wild Wednesday
Thinking Thursday
Fabulous Fun Friday
We try to plan our week and activities around this and it seems to work well for us.
I make a Welcome Summer banner for my kids to run through on the last day of school. We love this tradition and it takes minimal effort on my part!
Some years, the kids get surprised with some summertime treats. This year we aren't doing this because the Easter Bunny brought them tons of candy and some outside toys a month ago. Typically I get some new sidewalk chalk, bubbles, water guns, etc. Things that we will be using outside a lot. 
You may have seen this idea floating around the web the last couple of years. I cannot remember where I got this idea, but I love it. I have these 3 jars full of different things for the kids to do during the summer. What I put inside the jars changes every year as things with our family change. This year we are having a baby the beginning of August, so I had to adjust our day trips and activities for a very pregnant body. I use ideas I get off the web, ideas from my files, or things I come up with out of my own little head. I have the kids draw our activities for the upcoming week on Sunday evenings. Then they know what to look forward to and I know if I need to get supplies for a certain craft or how to plan for whatever little adventure we will be embarking on. This is probably our favorite summer tradition. 
 I got this idea from Studio 5 last summer and we had a blast doing it! I am lucky to have good readers, but we had so much fun hanging up this bookshelf and filling it with all the books my kids read last summer. It's a great motivation tool for summer reading programs. We also always pick a book or two or three to read together during the summer. Last year I read The Wizard of Oz to my kids and this year we are going to read The Little House on the Prairie Series. We have devotional every morning with scripture study and prayer, and so it is easy to throw in a chapter or two from an additional book during our devotional time. 
Those are some of the things that we do to keep our summers interesting and organized! I feel like summer is a special time to just play with my kids and I want them to grow up with fond memories of our summers together. Hopefully this gets your brain spinning from some new summer traditions in your house.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


I came across this scripture earlier this week and it has been on my mind a lot. We are asked to do so little and yet offered so much. How grateful I am for a kind and loving Heavenly Father who wants nothing more than our happiness and for us to return to Him. As a mother, I have a small idea of what that feels like. I hope that throughout my life, I am able to be a better daughter to Him and to constantly keep in mind what is truly important. Keeping my heart and mind focused on my Heavenly Father and Savior is what will bring me true and complete happiness.

Therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.
Doctrine and Covenants 6:20

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Olive Garden Salad

I don't consider myself a food snob. Usually if it's good, I will eat it without much complaint or comparing. However, with this salad, I am a total food snob! Recently, my husband and I went to The Olive Garden and ordered their salad which has always been my favorite thing there. After taking a couple of bites we both looked at each other and agreed that my version of their salad is much better!! Their salad is not as fresh as it used to be-lets be honest, it's from a bag. Kinda disappointing. 
I got this recipe years ago from a cooking class that I attended and it has been on of my very favorites ever since. So if you are ever craving Olive Garden salad, make this instead!
Olive Garden Copycat Salad
1 head iceburg lettuce
1 head romaine lettuce
1/2 purple onion, thinly sliced
1 can chopped olives, drained
Grated parmesan cheese, 1 cup or a handful or two

1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 small red onion, or to taste
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

For the dressing, combine ingredients in a blender and mix on high until smooth. Cover and chill at least an hour before serving.
For the salad, cut lettuce into desired bite size pieces. Combine all salad ingredients in  large bowl and serve with the dressing on the side.

Serves 6-8

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Easter Countdown

I love holiday countdowns and have been doing them for years with my kids. We usually do the 2 weeks before the holiday and each day we do a different craft or make a fun treat or do some kind of activity for whatever holiday is upon us. With Easter quickly approaching, I have been preparing our countdown for this year. This first picture with the eggs on the door is our "Fun" countdown. These activities have nothing to do with anything religious. Lots of Easter egg and Easter Bunny fun. I'll share those ideas another time. 
 Now that my kids are getting older, I was feeling like we needed to not just focus on the fun this year, but really spend time focusing on the Savior and the real meaning behind Easter. I came up with this idea less than a week ago and thankfully was able to pull it together quickly. I still have things I will improve on throughout the year to really get it how I want it in the future, but for now, this will have to do.
 I made this countdown with supplies I had on hand (mostly). I had to go get some paper and the picture of Christ, but everything else I had. I used a 16x20 frame and put the paper and picture of Christ behind the glass. Then I reassembled the frame and glued magnets onto the glass and the eggs (that way the eggs can come off to open.) I used sticker numbers on the eggs. Easy peasy! It took me like 30 minutes to make. 
Inside of each egg will be a different story or event from the life of Christ, leading up to His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. This is what I need to work on compiling in a more presentable fashion before I can share it with all of you, but if you want to steal my idea, there are a million resources to use. 
Each day we will learn about a different event or story from the Saviors life, sing a song to go along with that topic, include pictures from each event, and watch one of the Bible Videos from (Those are amazing learning and teaching tools. If you haven't checked those out, I would strongly encourage you to do so.)
For example: Day 13 is Jesus As a Child
                                             Read: Story from The Friend (the article shares a few stories of when Jesus was a child)
Song: Jesus Once Was a Little Child
Bible Video: Christ is presented at the Temple
                      Young Jesus teaches at the temple

Some stories that we will be reading I just summarized myself so the kids would understand them a little bit better. But I also found many from The Friend magazine. I just searched "Stories of Jesus" and found several that I was able to print out. I printed and gathered everything for each day (stories, pictures, songs and what videos to watch on what days ) and made an Easter binder. That way it's all in one place and organized. 

To give you an idea of what I did, here is what is inside each egg-
Day 14: Jesus Christ is born
Day 13: Jesus as a child
Day 12: Jesus Chooses His Disciples
Day 11: Jesus is baptized
 Day 10: Jesus Works Miracles
Day 9: Jesus heals the sick
Day 8: Palm Sunday-Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem
Day 7: Cleansing the Temple
Day 6: Parables and Teachings-Sermon on the Mount
Day 5: Rest in Bethany
Day 4: The Last Supper, Prayer in Gethsemane, Betrayal and Trial
Day 3: Crucifixion and Burial
Day 2: Jewish Sabbath
Day 1: Easter Sunday and Resurrection of Christ

 I am so excited to start next week! If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I tried typing this with a two year old crawling all over me, so I'm sure something doesn't make sense. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Consequences and Privileges

My husband and I feel like we are turning into the king and queen of empty threats when it comes to disciplining our kids. We are really good at threatening them with punishments, but aren't very good at following through with those threats. This was beginning to drive me crazy and I knew something had to change. We have tried different ways to enforce rewards or punishments in the past, but nothing really seemed to do the trick. Mainly because we weren't very good at following through with things and the kids would forget to "cash in" their prizes and then our system slowly faded away. 
I came up with this idea recently and have put it into practice this week. So far, it has been awesome for all of us! I wanted to make my board all cute and fancy, but mainly I just wanted it done without costing a ton-hence the lack of cuteness. 
 I made three jars. One is full of consequences for when the kids misbehave, one is full of extra chores, and the last is full of privileges. Each jar is full of different colors of paper. Yellow is the least severe, blue is a little worse and orange is the dreaded color. I did this for both consequences and privileges. With privileges, yellow is good, blue is really good and orange is amazing!! My thinking with this is when the kids have been bad or broken or rule, instead of threatening them with a punishment or just using time out, I can just say, "Go pull a blue consequence" and it's a done deal. Same with privileges. When we see good behavior or good choices being made, we can reward those immediately with the kids pulling a privilege from the jar. 
My kids are loving this system and we have seen such a difference with my 5 year old especially. She is so anxious to pull the privileges, that our mornings before school have been heavenly this week! Normally I have to remind her about a billion times of what she should be doing. I haven't had to ask her to do her chores once this week! 
 Here are some examples of what are in these jars. ( I picked things that were applicable to my kids. If you want to try this, think of things that your kids would love to have or hate to have taken away).

A yellow privilege might be: read for an extra 15 minutes at bedtime or play outside an extra 30 minutes or play an extra video game, etc
Blue could be: go on a bike ride with daddy, go get a treat from Costco, watch a fun show before bedtime, etc.
Orange: go to see a movie, go to Nickel Mania, etc.-things the kids love to go do, but is a major treat and things we don't do very often

Same idea with the consequences-
Yellow examples: Lose tv for the rest of the day, no video games that day, no reading at bedtime
Blue examples: pick an extra chore, time out for ______ minutes, no tv for 2 days, no playing outside that day, etc.
Orange examples: Pick an extra chore, and then I have lots of "mommy gets to choose", etc. 

The chores are things that my kids normally don't have to do around the house. They can either pick chores as consequences or pick them to earn some extra money. Blue ones might include washing all the light switches, or cleaning out a cupboard. The orange are  little more intense and yucky, like clean the garage or wash out the garbage can. My kids are praying they never pick the garbage can chore!
This may make me sound like a crazy, mean mom but I am trying to help reinforce good and bad behavior with my munchkins. Like I said, so far this is working great and I am no longer the queen of empty threats. It's been a good change for all of us!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Peanut Butter Cup Fudge

Once a month the girls in my family get together for Dessert Night. I love catching up with everyone and having that time with family. Eating treats all evening long isn't too bad either. 
I made these yummy treats the other night and we all loved them. So easy and so good!

Peanut Butter Cup Fudge

22 regular size peanut butter cups
3 cups milk chocolate chips
1 (14 oz) can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Line an 8x8 inch pan with foil and spray foil with cooking spray. Unwrap and place 16 of the peanut butter cups in the pan. In a saucepan, combing chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk.Cook over medium heat and stir until melted and combined well. Pour over peanut butter cups and spread around to even it out. Cut up the remaining peanut butter cups and press into the melted chocolate mixture. Let sit at room temperature until the fudge cools a little bit and then transfer to the fridge to harden and cool completely. 

Makes about 24 pieces-depending on how big or small you cut the pieces. 

Source: Six Sisters Stuff

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mommy Guilt

This little blog of mine has given me some grief the past couple of months. After my last baby was born, I had a hard time getting back into blogging. I just didn't have the same excitement for it like I used to. Then last October, I felt really strongly that I needed to start doing it again and use this blog not only for recipes, but for sharing other things that I love-the gospel, family traditions, motherhood, etc. I was all ready to make this blog a big deal and then after a few weeks I kind of lost the momentum. I didn't think anyone even looked at this blog, so why was I going to spend my time posting things if no one even saw them?

Recently, I have been getting that feeling to start blogging again. I keep putting that feeling off. There have been so many articles circulating Facebook lately about moms and the different kind of moms out there.  I have had a hard time as I have read all of these articles because I don't understand why we have to treat ourselves so harshly as mothers. We are not all the same. We are not supposed to be the same. Why are we complaining about the holiday moms, or party moms, or whatever moms, just because we are not that mom? We need to support each other as moms, not rip each other apart.  

I am an Over-the-Top mom. And I love that that is who I am. I like big birthday parties (while the kids are little), I like to make my food green for St. Patrick's Day. I love that my kids like to have earth pancakes on Earth Day and that we eat red, white and blue pasta on Flag Day. Not all moms are like me though, and that is ok! But that also doesn't mean I am doing anything wrong because my way of celebrating or decorating or playing with my kids is different than yours. I don't blog or post things that I do on social media to be "in your face" with our activities or traditions. I post things for my kids and I post things for others who might find them beneficial. I love jumping online and finding someones cute idea that I can incorporate into our family fun without having to come up with it myself. That's one reason I love social media. 

I guess my point with all of this is, I didn't want to blog anymore because I am tired of feeling like I should feel guilty for being the mom that I am. But, I have tossed that nonsense out the window and I am going to start up this old blog again. For myself, and for others who find my recipes and ideas enjoyable and helpful.  

Celebrate the mother that you are. Celebrate the mothers around you. Don't feel guilty because your talents and skills are different from others. That's the way it is meant to be. Stop competing with everyone else and focus on your own family and their needs. And don't apologize or feel guilty for who you are as a woman and mother. You are exactly who you were meant to be!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Every new year I usually write a long list of things I want to accomplish that year or things I want to improve on. The list usually gets tucked away in my journal and forgotten about after January. This year I wanted to try something different. Lately I have been focusing a lot on my issue of comparison. I have a real problem with comparing myself to other people. I think as women, we tend to do that naturally, but with the help of social media, my problem has gotten worse instead of better. I often feel like I am not pretty enough, my body isn't skinny enough, I'm not spiritual enough, my blogs aren't good enough, we will never have enough money, I'm not talented enough, my house isn't decorated cute enough, blah, blah, blah, so on and so forth. 

As I have thought about this demon in my life, I decided what I really wanted to work on in 2014 was learning to be content. Yes, my life might not be as good as someone else's, but it is my life and the only way for me to be truly happy with it, is to learn to love it just the way it is. I heard a quote about comparisons yesterday and I loved it! Someone said, "Does it inspire you or expire you?" What a perfect way to stay in check when comparing myself to others. I don't think comparing myself has ever left me feeling better. Therefore, when I start to do it, I am hoping to remind myself, "Will this inspire me or expire me?"

As a wife and mother of young kids, I never want to look back on these precious years and feel like I wasted so much of my time and energy not feeling good enough. I have a husband and kids who love me just the way that I am. We may not have a fancy house, or even a house of our own yet, and we may not be able to afford vacations or even afford to go out to dinner very often, but we spend so much time making wonderful memories and starting fun traditions. Those are the things that I want to look back on and remember the most. 

I have two quotes that are helping me with my resolution to be content. They are hanging in my kitchen where I can see them often and they have been good reminders to me so far this year. 

"The secret of being happy is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of everyday."

"Happiness is the result of favorable circumstances. Joy is the outpouring of a contented heart."

This year will bring some big changes for my little family, and my goal is that through it all, I remain content and focus on the blessings that I have and the person the Lord is trying to teach my to become. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mickey Mouse Birthday Party

My baby turned 2 last weekend and we celebrated Mickey Mouse style! Everything turned out really cute and we had a lot of fun with the Mickey Mouse theme. If you would like ideas or instructions on any of my party ideas, leave a comment and I will be happy to help you.