Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Encouragement, Perspective, and a little Giveaway

{The giveaway is done but the post is a good reminder to keep.}
Where do you go for encouragement?  My friends are where I turn.  And my mom.  And my husband.  I am blessed to be surrounded by a crowd of people who are gifted in this.  
If they are not, frankly, I would rather not surround myself with negative people...  
Life is too short and living life to it's fullest potential is too important. 
Encouragement is a powerful thing.  
I am so privileged to be a part of a MOPS group at my church.   During the school year, every Tuesday is filled with encouraging talks on applicable subjects along with practical Bible study by an amazing teacher.  It is a time for us to get together and encourage each other to be better moms, wives, and women of God.  I wouldn't be the same without the influence of these beautiful women! 
{Shameless plug, we start back August 30th, if you are local.  If not, please find a MOPS group in your area!  You will not regret it!  I have found some of my closest friends in that group.}
I had the opportunity to be a part of a review giveaway program through Dayspring and the incourage product line. They really do have some beautiful stuff.  
This is the fun whimsical item that I picked out.
Photo courtesy of Dayspring and incourage.
 It arrived packed extremely well.  A massive box, lots of balloon type packaging.  You can tell they are used to shipping fragile items at Dayspring.  
This guy isn't delicate, thank goodness, he is all medal.  It came with 3 magnets, as pictured.  The idea being you could put pictures or invites or whatever memos you might need to remember.
When I opened it up, there is a very large over-sized loop on the back to hang it from the wall.  
When I first saw it, I briefly thought it was an easel.  Obviously, it isn't but it left me wishing it would have had that option rather than just hanging on a wall.
Other than not meeting my unrealistic expectation-on-a-whim, it is a delightful product that will make a lovely addition to our master bathroom. 
I am secretly hoping for some love notes of encouragement. ;)

However, here is what happened to mine:
Can you see that?  That is a pen left on the counter, grabbed by a little boy, who found he needed to trace the circle magnets and leave me some doodles, as well.
Admittedly, I was saddened when I saw the pen marks all over the once-pristine shiny board.
But then I had to quickly step back and re-read the bottom line message of this product.
Count Your Blessings.
Count is as a gift that I have a mobile active 3 year old that thinks every doodle is precious and life is his canvas.  
Will I try to clean it off.  I might.  But perhaps I might leave it as a reminder that life moves pretty fast, I am so blessed and doodles don't last....
So I want to encourage you to look at those little messes as blessings or gifts every now and then.  Before you scold, remember that it won't last and tomorrow they will be gone.   Faster than we can even imagine.
And I bet I will miss those little surprises of art he leaves behind.
Now for the Giveaway!

For one lucky reader,  you will win a $20 credit to purchase whatever you like in the incourage product line!
To enter, all you need to do is #1. follow me and #2 leave a comment below telling me that you have done this.
And if you want to tell me what encourages you, that would just be a nice little bonus for me!
Super easy!
Contest ends July 5th @ 9 pm.
Good luck!
To adhere to the FTC requirements, I wan to tell you that DaySpring gave me the free product to review and all opinions stated are my own.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dearie Summer Camp - David & Goliath

Hello, friends!
Do your kids know the Bible stories?  Do you?
When is a good time to start teaching them? 
{Now.  Whatever their age.  Now.}
Deuteronomy 11:19 "Teach them to your children.  Talk about the when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up."
Is that the church's job to teach them?  
Nope.  Can they help, absolutely.  Is church important to little ones?  Without a doubt.  
But is it all up to them?  Nope, again.
If our kids don't consistently learn it at home 
{whatever the virtue, character trait, life lesson, or story you want them to know}, 
don't count on it sticking in 1-2 hours once a week, once or twice a year told by someone else.
It comes from consistently reading the stories and talking about them and, just maybe, doing it a little creatively, too.  
 So, without further ado, here is my attempt at "Dearie Summer Camp". 
{Go ahead and laugh at that title.  I am cheesy and I own that.}
I wanted to be intentional this summer.  I wanted Jesse to really absorb some of the great life lessons from Bible stories and the rich characters in them.
So our first subject was David & Goliath.  The main part of the story is found in 1 Samuel 17:12-51.  ^The link will take you there if you would like to read the full version.
I did a little research for resources so I wanted to share that with you in case you wanted to create your own little summer lessons.
King's Kids Stuff is a great web page that has lots of links for ideas and projects having to do with David & Goliath.  I only used a few things but depending on your child's age, this was a great resource.
DLTK's Growing Together has a lot to offer and I have a feeling I will be back to this site as I approach the coming Bible characters
I tried to keep track of where I got ideas, but I missed a few, I fear.  ;)
I combined a little from these sources and put them on the same paper.  Easy to print and keep.  I haven't figured out yet how to paste a picture of a PDF on here so I uploaded it to google docs.  Click HERE to view and download.  
Now that is a funny face.  ;)

He enjoyed putting the glue {Elmer's Glue All} on it himself and the "smooth stones" have stayed on well.  Glue dots would work, too.

The document on google docs is what Jesse is working on in the pictures above.  I created the one side that says "You can do anything with God by your side" and shrunk down the little coloring page for the other side.  
I plan to keep these projects in a book we can revisit so I wanted them to be smaller.

I also saw {somewhere} to punch holes in a brown bag, let them weave ribbon through and it makes a little "satchel" for them to put their own "5 smooth stones".   I let him color on it first and then folded it down a couple of times, then used my hole punch.
He needed a little help but enjoyed "taking turns" and was quite proud of his bag after it was done.
We have stones covering most of our ground so he was on a search for the tiniest of the rocks.

He found his own "Five Smooth Stones"!
If you don't know, there is a song about David called "Only a Boy Named David".  I went on grooveshark.com and made a playlist of the various versions they had.  

Jesse enjoys music {and I bet your kids do, too} so this was a great way to also reiterate the story.  The old school Sunday School Songs can be wonderful tools.

We borrowed 3 books from our church library that each had their own take on the story.  I read these every day, sometimes numerous times a day when asked, sometimes together, sometimes alone.  Jesse loves to be read to and so does Abigale.  This is the most obvious way to share the story & Truth to your kids.  I haven't tried to find Bible storybooks at our local library but I am assuming they have at least a small selection, if your church doesn't have a library.
Since they all have the same title, I am going to call them yellow, pastel, and brights.
Yellow:David and Goliath (from 'Now You Can Read--Bible Stories') Easy to read. Semi-realistic illustrations. Adds Samuel coming to Jesse's house to anoint Samuel and the {true} part of David cutting off Goliath's head [though, thankfully, no illustration of that}.  That might be a little much for your little.
Pastel: David & Goliath Has the story of Samuel coming along with story of David protecting the sheep and killing a lion.
Brights: David & Goliath Artistic computerized illustrating. Basic story but I liked that it brought a lesson to the reader instead of just telling a factual story.  My favorite entry of all three was from this book: "When you think you are too young and too small to help someone else, remember how God helped David defeat the giant. Nothing is ever impossible for God, if only you will let Him help you!"
The only little fact of the story that all 3 of these books missed was that Goliath was disrespecting God during that 40 days and taunting the soldiers to challenge him.  Not sure why they all left that out. But they were all nice little reads for Jesse {& me}.
At the end of our lesson, I wanted to video tape Jesse telling me the story.  He told his Nana & Grandma without prompts but got shy for the camera so I had to ask him questions.  I know I will cherish this little video, his sweet little voice, and silly little grins.

This list of things we did is not exhaustive at all.  I meant to look up a video on youtube, church library, or real library and didn't make it.  I will probably incorporate that idea with next week's lesson.  
Originally, I planned to do this 1 per week but 2 weeks seemed to work better for his age.  I wanted him to really grasp it and let it soak in..  I think review of "what we've learned" will be good to go back and do every few weeks, too.
I hope you will take time to teach your kids the stories important to you this summer!
Please tell me about it and share with others, if you do!
Thanks for sticking with me on this long post!
Linking to:


Today's Creative Blog

Friday, June 17, 2011

Foodie Friday - Easy Mexican Rice Soup

I make this a lot.  It's easy and takes little cooking so it is great when you are hungry but short on time.  It is also pretty good for you and inexpensive to make. Another bonus in my book!

You will need:
  • 1 half finely diced onion & 1-2 cloves of garlic sauté them in the pan until lightly brown
  • Add in the rest of these ingredients.  Bring it a slight boil [to get the rice going] and bring down to a simmer.  5 minutes and you should be done and ready to serve.
  • A container of chicken stock [better], broth [good], or homemade stock [best].  Today I am using broth because that was what was on BOGO.  :)
  • 1 can of Rotel tomatoes.  Today I used the cilantro & lime version.  Mild might be good if kids are expected to partake.
  • 2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed well.  I am always bulking up recipes with double beans.  Fills you up and great for your heart.  Don't sing the song.  ;)
  • Corn.  Nice add in to balance the heat from the Rotel.  It is probably the most naughty thing in all of this and I think you can spare it.  But if you can't, you won't hurt my feelings.  I personally cut it fresh off of a cob because I had one not eaten from dinner the other night.  I could have used frozen or even canned if rinsed well.  All of that is up to you.
  • 1 cup of instant brown rice.  White or another variety would work, too, but I always have brown around here.
  • Optional add ins: shredded or finely diced carrots or mushrooms cooked into the soup with everything else, diced/torn tortillas into the soup to cook & break down, diced chicken already cooked [use up leftovers], canned chicken - RINSED well, etc.  I am against bell peppers, but I could see their virtue in a dish like this, too.  Just not in my dish.
  • Garnishes: Sour cream on top when serving, cheese on top, or tortilla chips as a last minute garnish, too.  
  • Frankly, the only thing that makes this "Mexican" are the Rotel tomatoes but Tomato Rice Soup didn't sound nearly as inviting.  

Hope you try it and let me know if you do!  
Thanks for flying by...why don't you "Follow Me" and stay awhile?  Pretty Please?  With cheese on top!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Have Breakfast with Lightning McQueen? Yes, please.

Genius in Marketing.
Grandmas can't resist it!  ;)
And with McQueen's face plastered on it, they were gobbled up fast!
Similar to Frosted Cheerios.  Tasty enough. He ate it dry, as he usually does.  So I don't know if it was messy when soaked in milk.

You know our house is looking forward to the release of Cars 2 on June 24th! 
Jesse and Cars2 display at Epcot from the Flower Festival
We might even splurge on the 3-D or IMAX.  We'll see how much "paper, stamps & ink" I sell between now and then.  ;)
And I know we could say it is all for Jesse, but the truth is John & I are looking forward to it as much {or more} than he is!  Shhh...our little secret!
What movie are you looking forward to this summer?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Jesse's 3rd Birthday and our first character lunch

We love Disney but opted to wait until Jesse was old enough to really care and be excited.  Even in this video, I think he was still trying to absorb it all.  It was definitely sensory overload once the characters and singers came out.
Menu according to wdw info:Selection of Salads: Orange & watercress salad, Caesar salad, Tomato & Buffalo Mozzarella salad with Basil oil, Mixed seasonal greens, and tuna salad. Selection of Appetizers: Carved ham, turkey and salami, assorted cheeses, and fresh seasonal fruit. Entree Selections: Seafood pasta alfredo, Baked chicken thighs with Pinot Noir and blackberry, Chicken Satay and peanut sauce, and Grilled polenta with sun dried tomatoes. Selection of accompaniments: Garlic mashed potatoes, Bean cassoulet, Sauteed green beans, Creamed corn spoon bread, and Rice & whole grain medley. Handcrafted desserts and pasties from the bakery: apple cobbler, berry cobbler, Snicker cheesecake, Carrot cake, Mascarpone, and Chocolate Mousse cake.
We made our reservations at 11:00 am, right when it opened for lunch.  That gave us a bit of time to get acclimated and eat a bit.  When the characters and singers start, you pretty much lose the littles.
The food was great quality and more gourmet than I expected for a buffet.  They kept everything filled quickly and we definitely didn't leave wanting for anything.  They even gave us a drink to go.  ;)
FYI: They charge for 3 & up.  And we never spend this much for a meal but it was special and well worth it for his 3rd Birthday!  I wouldn't go too often, though, the sparkle would lose it's shine.
November 8, 2007 3 years old.
Handy Manny & Leo from Little Einsteins with Jesse & Abigale

Jesse & June, from Little Einsteins

June & Abigale.  She wasn't scared but curious.

 Me, Special Agent Oso, and Jesse.  It was Oso's first week as a character at this breakfast!
 Dance Time!
 Video collage from the Dance Time!
 Birthday Cupcake that also came with a birthday card that all the characters signed. :)
 Pure Fun!
 Daddy, Jesse, Mommy, & Abigale after our lovely character lunch.
We were in Hollywood Studios after all so we went and said Hello to Mickey again.  He is an unmentioned character greeting in The Art of Disney.  Quickest way to meet him within all 4 parks!

 Our Family November 8, 2010
He must have grown a ton since then because he looks very small here to me.  He got to be the Honorary Train Conductor and got to shout into the microphone "ALL Aboard".  Huge highlight.  The video is basically dark so I didn't post it. :(
Thanks for reading, looking, & watching.  Have you went and what did you think?
And when are Jake and the Neverland Pirates coming for character greetings or this lunch!?

{And I realize this post is a little late but I just discovered an application on my computer where I can merge videos.  I can also edit them, as in flip them right side up when I film them the wrong way in error.  IMovie.  Today I am loving my MAC. :) }

Friday, June 10, 2011

Foodie Friday - Nothing in the world like homegrown tomatoes

My awesome friend went picking tomatoes and shared her bounty with me.  What a gift!
She knows I could eat tomatoes for breakfast, lunch, & dinner and knew they wouldn't go to waste.
{Warning: there are about to be a lot of RED pictures!}
Did you ever hear this obscure John Denver song?  I once bought a "cut out" album in the dollar bin when I worked at Camelot.  I figured how bad could it be, it was still John Denver.  I was right and this little nugget has always stuck with me after all these years.
It was, of course, stuck in my head as I looked at the harvest of tomatoes before me!

So here are a few of the dishes I created using these fresh from the farm {literally} beauties.
  • Devouring them quartered with cottage cheese for breakfast or lunch with lots of Salt & Pepper.
  • Enjoying a juicy, sliced tomato with an over-easy egg and toast.  Bacon makes everything better, too.
  • Obviously, GREAT salads! 
  • This is a marinated salad my family has always done as far back as I can remember.  Some of it varies depending on what we have on hand.  But generally it is a sweet onion, preferably Vidalia, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, S & P, and italian dressing.  As a nod to a caprese style salad, I often add fresh basil, when I have it, and fresh mozzarella.  This particular time, I added in a few grinds from my herb blend, too.  

Eat as is or serve over romaine for a loaded marinated salad topping.
This particular day, I had boiled eggs in the fridge so I diced those up into the salad for my hubby.

  •  I often roast my grape or cherry tomatoes with some garlic & onion when I let them get wrinkly and go a bit too far for eating fresh.  Then I blend them with some fresh basil and warm slightly over just-cooked pasta.  So yummy!
  • With the big ones, I decided to quarter up some of the tomatoes to make a quick fresh pasta sauce.  I caramelized some onions and then garlic before adding the tomatoes.
Isn't that beautiful.  You can see the chunky salt on the top if you click on the picture.  Makes me hungry again.

After I left them cook down for quite a while, skins and all, I mashed them in the pan with a potato masher.  Chunky and lumpy and lovely.
  • This is that sauce mixed with penne and ready to serve with some fresh grated parm.

Thanks for stopping by!  "Follow me" and stay awhile! 
Pretty please?  With a tomato on top!
Thank you Jennifer for the gift of these wonderful tomatoes!

What do you like to do with tomatoes?