Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sugar Cookies

Thursday night after our family watched another Hallmark Christmas movie...I decided to bake some sugar cookies for a "midnight" snack! Not the wisest of choices when you start them at 8pm...they really did turn into a "midnight" snack. ;) But, they are ever so worth it. Simple, quick, and they turn out almost perfect every time. 



Here is the recipe:

SUGAR COOKIES

3/4 cup Butter, at room temperature
1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 cups Flour 
1 tsp Baking Powder 
1/2 tsp Salt 

*Whip butter until creamy. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla; mix well. 
*Add flour, baking powder, and salt. 
*Form into a ball.

*Wrap in lightly floured plastic wrap.
*Chill at least 1hr (this is the secret to perfect sugar cookies).
*Roll dough on floured surface, cut, and bake at 400° for 7-8 min.

Makes about 2 dozen...depending on how thick you make your cookies. 


I double my recipe! (And since no one ever has a big recipe and I have to do the calculations myself while baking, I'm adding the double recipe for big families) :)

Sugar Cookies-Doubled

1 1/2 cups Butter, at room temperature
2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
5 cups Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt

*Whip butter until creamy. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla; mix well. 
*Add flour, baking powder, and salt. 
*Form into a ball.
*Wrap in lightly floured plastic wrap.
*Chill at least 1hr (this is the secret to perfect sugar cookies).
*Roll dough on floured surface, cut, and bake at 400° for 7-8 min.

Makes about 4 dozen...depending on how thick you make your cookies. 

Buttercream Frosting  

12 oz Butter, at room temperature
1 lb Powedered Sugar, sifted
1 - 1 1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

*Cream butter with the paddle attachment in your mixer. 
*Add the sifted powdered sugar ... once the mixture has come together, stop and scrape the bowl and paddle attachment. 
*Turn your mixer up to medium speed and paddle for about 5 min to make the mixture light and fluffy. 
*Turn mixer to low and vanilla and if you want to add any other flavorings; once incorporated return mixer to med speed and continue to paddle for 2 more minutes.

~I use little plastic containers to divide up the frosting and add the food coloring. If you're like me and want a lot of colors to choose from, be wise in your coloring choices. By that I mean...you don't want to have to make a ton of frosting just to have color options. So for me, I frosted all the Christmas trees first with the green, and a few mittens. Used up as much green as I was going to, then added a few yellow and red drops, to get brown for the tree trunks & gingerbread men. Make sense? Any other time I would have just made brown to begin with, but then you're left with a lot of wasted frosting...that adds to the expense, and the waste...not good. So make a plan! :)


Here are a few pics:




Don't mind the white ones...those were the "midnight snack" ones. ;)

Hope you enjoy these as much as our family does~ 
Heather 


 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The TomKat Studio Party Shop

This morning as I was doing an online search for gumballs in tubes...for Christmas...I stumbled upon The TomKat Studio Party Shop. I think I'm in love...with the party favors that is! This is the cutest shop everI made my order and cannot wait for it to arrive. 

These are the items I ordered:

Christmas Adhesive Tags:


Shimmer Gumballs in Tubes: {Yes, shimmer!!} {For the Girls}


Gumballs in Tubes: {For the Boys}


Striped Party Straws: {For Peppermint Hot Chocolate}


And check out this Mermaid Birthday Party:
{Absolutely Adorable...I want one...but I'm 31yrs old..and my hubby would make fun of me!}


Her Blog here. Check it out and tell me you don't love it as much as I do! ;) Don't forget to follow her on Pinterest: The TomKat Studio

My thought was to give the gumballs to all the kiddos on Christmas Eve, but I might just keep them for New Year's Eve...since my brother and his family {making 11 kids in our home for the holiday} will be here from Christmas Eve through New Year's...it might be a bit more holiday cheer stretched over the season, instead of just one day...Oh, I Can't WAIT!

Blessings~Heather


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful November Day 29

Day 29- I am thankful I chose to take a leap of faith in June, and Change the Game for my family. It was the absolute worst year financially for our family. Normally Bob is slow during winter months with work, and it always picks up in March/April. Well this year...it was June, and there was still not much work...that's 6 months of no work. Can you say we were all but freaking out. You can't run a family with 13 hrs a week of work. You start drowning...and it just continues to set you farther and farther into debt. I hate debt...period. What were we to do? 

I looked into going to Nail Tech school. I figured I could sacrifice 3-6 months of my life with my kids to go to school and it would be something that I could do out of my home, while still being with my kids most of the day. {Plus, I really love having my nails done, and I have always wanted to know how to do "what they do!"} I had my school all picked out. Their website had all the costs listed. Bob had ok'd my crazy idea. My mom offered to watch the kids while I went to school. I had prayed long and hard about this decision. I specifically prayed that if it was not the Lord will that He would slam the door on this idea. {I need a slam, not a light closure to really know it's HIM} Well...I sent an email requesting information on enrollment...and a few days later a sweet girl called me back. To my utter shock...there was no Nail Tech classes being offered! What?!?! Their website had everything on there, including the times classes were offered! She said they put all of that up for when the GET a teacher. Really?! I was sad and disappointed that God had slammed the door. He answered my prayer, but not in the way that I had wanted. What now?! 

Waiting another month, trying to figure out a way to work, yet stay home with my kids, homeschool, and be mom.  Bob and I prayed continually about what to do. Work was still a joke. Debt was still piling up. I was still without a hope for a job. One day I asked a gal I know what it was she was doing {I knew she worked from home, homeschooled, and had a big family. And let me tell you, that took so much courage (or desperation) on my end} That day changed our life forever. I leaped in faith. Blind faith. I worked hard, and worked around my kids nap time, and in the evenings, from home, with no day care expenses. I very quickly matched Bob's income. And Bob and I are now focused on changing the game for our family. Since then I have helped many moms reach their goals, and continuing to help more. All while helping pay off debt from those terrible 6 months, and medical bills we acquired over the last 3 months. Every good gift comes from above and we pause daily to thank God for bringing my friend Janice into our life to not only give us hope...but to completely change the game for our family.

That is something to be forever thankful for...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful November Day 26

Day 26- I am thankful that Starbucks finally offers a punch card! The day before while Bob and I were waiting in the drive thru line for our Peppermint White Chocolate Frappuccinos, I said, "I really wish Starbucks would offer a punch card like the other coffee shops!" and Voila...the next day he brought in this beauty! 

Oh lookie lookie...my nails look cute! lol

  
Buy 5 holiday get 1 free...don't mind if I do! ;)




 We just can't seem to figure out...why now...and not forever ago!  hehe

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thankful November Day 25

Day 25- Today I am thankful that my husband, after 13 yrs of marriage or 13 Christmases, finally put Christmas lights on our house! Ahh...pure bliss! Such a beautiful sight. I don't think he even understands how much this means to me. Every year I have begged and begged for him to put lights on the house, then it turned into the kids begging along with me {pathetic, I know}...always to be disappointed. One year I had my dad come over and put them up with me...and that was the one and only year we have ever had them..because it was cold and yucky, and too much work! lol. A lot of the reason for his veto to the lights was probably was due to the fact that lights are not a big deal to my hubby. It's more of a chore than a treat. And thankfully when he was done, he thought it was very much worth the effort! 

{Which translates to: "We'll be getting them next year too!" insert happy dance!}





 Icicle lights are my fave! Warm white icicles...are just beautiful...classic...and will warm your heart. I know, they're just Christmas lights, but don't they evoke inside of you something so pure, so innocent, so joyful?! Ahh, well they do in me. They just give a pretty glow to an ordinary structure. They turn a play house into a fairytale cottage. The kids were so thrilled to have colored icicles in their play house. They go out as soon as it's dark, with their blankets and mittens and read books out there, or draw up their Christmas lists while snuggling in blankets dreaming about Christmas morning. 





I would so go sleep out in that play house...if it weren't so cold! ;) 

Blessings~Heather 


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thankful November Day 24





I am thankful for my neighbors. I do not love living in a subdivision. Yes, there are a few perks, but that's it...a few. Our neighbors would be the one major perk! God placed us in the perfect spot for living in one. There are really only a couple houses with kids near us, a few singles, but mainly newlyweds.

One of the singles has become a very dear friend....we actually would consider her family, if someone asked ;) She is a dream of a neighbor! Always looking out for us, us looking out for her. Her parents come to visit, and the kids flock to them like grandparents...it's very sweet.

Then we have a family with 2 young girls. They have become friends over these last few years, and are always a blast to have a game night with, chat in the front yard for hours, share my love of cloth diapering, talk sports with Bob, and are just good friends!

Our next door neighbors...are our perfect neighbors! They really are the best. They love our kids. They are young newlyweds, and they are just the sweetest couple. They are kind enough, and young enough, to find it more amusing then frustrating to receive an egg or a lime over the fence on occassion. They keep our baseballs and bouncy balls and play a game with them before they give them back (all while the kids laugh and hang over their fence). They truly are the best neighbors...ever. She will trade the kids flowers and tomatoes for a smile, and even give the kids one of their puppies....they love her (and him)...especially Gabe, Shelby, and Addie. Always a kind smile for the kids and makes them feel important.

Another family across from us has 4 kiddos. They run and play with ours, creating hours of imaginative play in the backyard, and we really enjoy their company as a whole family...they're great.

The single guy across the way is always there to trade plant starts, and funny stories.

There is a single (frat house, type house) guy, with a bunch of roommates. They are fairly quiet, and nice. When you wave, they wave. When you have baseball fundraising cards, they buy them up, no questions asked, and say, "Good luck! We miss playing ball!"

Then there is the neighbors with the young son. They are great to chat with and the kids will ride bikes in the front all afternoon with him...they always have fun with him.

Another neighbor offered Ty his first job this summer, mowing their backyard and picking up dog droppings. Ty was beyond excited to feel like a real man ;) Work is what makes him tick. Saving those dollars has been his mission. And thanks to the neighbors (whether they know or not), they have been a part of teaching our son, responsibility, finances, and a servant type heart. That is a great and wonderful thing.

So we are truly thankful for the dear neighbors that surround our home, and make living in close quarters very livable! :)


Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful November Day 23

I have gotten behind again...and I'm not going to try and catch up, or I'll just laps another time. ;) So I beginning from today...

Day 23- Today I am thankful for the Charlie Brown Christmas App for our Kindle Fire! What an adorable app! It's on sale here at Amazon.com for $2.99! That's a great deal, in my opinion! It's an interactive book. It will read to them, they can decorate Christmas trees, throw snowballs, and it uses all the characters voices while it's narrated (you have the option to turn the narration off, you find hidden ornaments throughout the book to add to your tree...just very cute!


 Hope you are all recovering from your turkey comas...I  very much enjoyed our spread yesterday. Our included: Turkey, cranberries, garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing & dressing, creamed corn, green bean casserole, rolls, green apple jello stuff, jello jigglers, Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Ciders, and last but not least...pies: Pumpkin, chocolate cream, & strawberry rhubarb! It was delicious and surprisingly...not overwhelming. :) How was your's!?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thankful November Day 13

Day 13- I am thankful for my Keens. Sounds dumb, right? Well, my feet, and my mind hate shoes! Sounds a bit dramatic, right? Let me be the first to tell you...I'm not exaggerating! Socks need to be thrown in that category as well. Sandals, and flip flops are my cup of tea. Spring, Summer, Autumn, & Winter, Sleet, Snow, Hail...I'm beginning to sound like the mailman...SANDALS. Do my feet freeze? Possibly. Do my heels crack and are hideous? Yes. Do I care? Not so much. ;)  Will I wear the same wonderful sandals everyday year round? Of course. Welcome to my thinking. Comfort, freedom, and flexibility...that is what a sandal brings! {Maybe I should have made this post about sandals...hmm}

Anyhoo, that was all until about a month ago...and then I found my soul mate in shoes! These Keenes are comfortable, warm, heel healing, wonders! I call them, "Tomeos" as in Toms/Romeos. Ha, how do you like that? Pretty clever, hey?! ;) They have a similar look to Toms (I hate toms...no offense to Tom lovers...I just think they look cheap...and I'm sure my sandals look cheap...I'm just giving an opinion...not judging...so do hate) and yet the comfort of a Romeo (which I too think are a homely looking shoe...but I now understand why a man, and sometimes women, wear these homely shoes...they are sooo comfortable). It's the perfect mate..."Tom" the cool guy..."Romeo" the romantic="Keen" the smart guy, with a bit of cool, wrapped in romance...see the perfect mate! Well, at least for me! 

Get ready for it...get ready for it...ta da! 

Here are the best shoes EVER!

They even have a fun, flirty interior!

And the best part...they will last FOREVER! Because they are that good! ;)
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankful November Part II

Day 7- I am thankful for the beautiful country side! Living in the desert has helped me to really, truly, appreciate the beauty of God's creation. When we go back to visit family on the west side of the state, the color of the trees and shrubs just ignites a color showcase in your eyes! It is so lush, so green, so beautiful! The fall is my most favorite time to witness this color showcase...red, orange, green, yellow. It's magnificent. The drive to the west side is also beautiful when the too extremes collide. You have color sprinkled around the desert landscape. Trees start to slowly fill in the barren land. The farther you go, the lusher it becomes...





Day 8- I am thankful for Lincoln's first baseball game. He enjoyed himself so much this summer! I think it was from all the games he attended of his brothers. He really seemed to like it! It was one of the first nights that it wasn't 90° at 9pm at night. It was a very pleasant evening. The kids enjoyed themselves...they ran the field during the 7th inning stretch and were rewarded with free pizza coupons from Pizza Hut...that was the highlight of their evening. :) So here we are at Mr. Linc's first Dust Devils game. 



 Day 9- I am thankful for the Dust Devils! We were able to spend the afternoon watching one of their practices earlier this year. A few of the players were having batting practice when Gabriel asked if we could come in a watch. They said, "Sure, don't see why not!" They were kind and talkative to the kids. The coaches were very nice...there were even coaches from the Colorado Rockies there looking at the players to see which they should pull up to the majors! (THe Dust Devils are a Rockies farm team). They spoke with Ty and Gabe and wanted to make sure they were having a good time watching, and that they were learning from what they saw. It was really quite nice of them. They even gave them a practice ball to take home...the simple things...that's what life is about. 



The boys checking out the practice.


Day 10- As much as I get tired of baseball...I am thankful for our boys opportunities living here. They are a part of a great organization that really has a great thing going. I didn't realize how much so, until I spoke with my friend Diane today and we were discussing the pros and cons of living away from everyone. Well, this is a definite pro on my list. Sports scholarships will most likely be the way our boys get to college. I'm not against an academic scholarship, I just am a realist...our boys are talented. They have a natural ability to learn the game without having to spend every single day doing it through out the year. I remember during the summer, once AllStars was ending, I mentioned to a mom on the team that I couldn't wait to box up ALL the baseball gear and not see it again until next season! Her jaw dropped and she said, "Seriously? Even their gloves?! They won't be playing fall ball, or doing any clinics?" I then lied...I know it's not good...and said, "Oh, well not the gloves!" Seriously...ALL the baseball gear goes away and the boys have time to just detox from the long season. I have always said, "If it's God's will for them to get scholarships, and to be great at something...He'll give them the natural talent." No need to be spending a ton of money and time on clinics and needless things when your kids are 9yrs old. I can see to do those types of things once high school is closing in, but not at this again. It burns a kid out, then they never want to play again, and they have lost all their love for the game. 


Ty and his friend Jayden

Ty's AllStars team took 2nd place in their tourney

Day 11- I am so very thankful for my Secret Sister! I love the fact that I have someone praying for me! We all need prayer, and I for sure always need prayer! It's so fun to receive a card in the mail with a little note from my Secret Sister, saying they are praying for me. My dear Secret Sister also sends out sweet treats, like my caramel apple that was delivered to my door. As well as a Red Robin & Roasters gift cards. Such a sweet thought and treat to get!


The best caramel apple I have ever had! So delish!
Day 12- I am thankful for coffee! I hated coffee, until my friends here drank it so much, that I felt left out not drinking it! lol Definitely an acquired taste. But I do love it now. Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha...blended...hot...whatever way...year round...I LOVE IT! My friend Janice says, "It's a Christmas drink!" Not for Heather...I'll take it all day, any day! A little bit of joy in a cup! ;) Although a blame them for my waist line that has been destroyed! lol {Because I had nothing to do with "picking it up and drinking the liquid deliciousness, with whipped cream and as big as I can buy} ;) hehe

Peppermint White Choc Frapp & Mexican Doughnuts!



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thankful November

I have been severely absent from blogging these last months...life has been busy, and I just really haven't wanted to. As much as I love blogging, I just couldn't find the motivation to actually do it...so I have decided to finish the month with daily Thankfulness posts. Nothing makes you focus on the good things like being Thankful! Last year after my month of thankfulness posts, I almost started a new blog specifically for thankfulness. I am easily distracted by the negative life experiences and loose focus on the positive...and yet I have sooo much to be thankful for! 

So here we go...12 Days of Thankfulness over the next two days! 

Day 1- I am thankful for my homeschool group! I love these ladies and their love of homeschooling, learning, and their roles as mommy to so many sweet ones. Such a blessing to plan out our year, and spend it together every other week! Field trips, crafts, and fun! If you don't have a homeschool group, start your own like we did. You won't regret it...you'll find other moms who share your struggles, your accomplishments, and your dreams! Such a sweet blessing! 

 
Our homeschool group at Sacagawea Park for Heritage Days
Lewis and Clark at Heritage Days
Day 2- I am thankful ALL of our puppies that Sophie and Mr. Higgins had, found wonderful homes! 

Miss Addie and the pups: Jasper, Big Daddy, and Jacque Cousteau.

Jacque Cousteau...wasn't he adorable?!


 Day 3- I am thankful for double yokes and a little man who loves them! 


One less egg to crack...and it always makes you smile and say, "Haha, how cool! It's a double yoker!"

Mr. Lincoln loves eggs! 


Day 4- I am thankful for auto save on blogger! I accidentally left my page while I was blogging this, and came back to find all that I had written and uploaded still there! I think I would have cried if it had disappeared. lol No, seriously, I would have. 



Day 5- So thankful for iTunes and the Christmas music that flows from it. Once November hits...Christmas music at least once a day is belting out of our speakers. Bing Crosby, Amy Grant, Michael BublĂ©, Michael W. Smith, Nat King Cole...Christmas is not Christmas without them. Something wonderful comes from these talented artist singing the songs of old, about our Savior, His birth, the angels, and that heavenly night! Music is powerful! It can evoke something inside you, that you didn't even know was there. Stir emotions in you that bring back memories of specific moments in time, special days with special people, and when done well...can make you feel what heaven might sound like with all the angels worshiping our Lord. So powerful. So comforting. So moving. Oh, I can't wait to hear what it really sounds like above! Can you imagine the power of an angelic song?! If these songs stir so much from the heart and aren't even heavenly beings...can you imagine! Ahh...so exciting to think about! 


Don't mind the stripes in the screen...our computer is dying daily...


 Day 6- I am thankful for Pinterest! Such a material thing to be thankful for...you'll find that to be a reoccurring theme here ;) I LOVE Pinterest. Do you know how many magazines I have been able to discard because of this website? Let's just say...more than you think. I have always saved them with those just perfect ideas. You know the ones that you will for sure, someday do? Well, I'm a bit of a dreamers (that's the understatement of the year). So, my life, my house, has become so much freer being able to carry all those thoughts, ideas, dreams, virtually. What a genius idea! So I guess I could say I am thankful for the person in which created Pinterest! Thank you! :) 

A little snap shot of all of Pinterest's wonderness! 
My Way of Shopping Without The Budget Being Blown!
My Dream Garden Ideas!


 6 more coming tomorrow!

Blessings~Heather

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A New School Year

Yesterday was the first official day of our homeschool year! It was a fairly good first day. There are always some kinks to work out, but overall I couldn't have asked for a better start. 

Our whole crew 2012/2013 school year!

                            

Our 4 homeschooling babes on the left...Addison 4yrs, Gabriel 7yrs, Ty 9yrs, Alexis 12yrs. 

                        
Silly faces of the morning...except Lincoln...he was sad. :( 
Everyone received new notebooks, pencils, stickers, and clip boards for their goal charts!
    I awoke on Monday at 6:45am and realized I hadn't even bought pencils! Yikes...how do you do school work without pencils?? Good question...you don't! So Miss Shelby and I headed to Walmart at 7:30am and had to do a bit of a scavenger hunt through all the left over bins. Since most normal people do their "school supply" shopping like a month or two ago. :/ Oh well, I scored some great priced supplies. It allowed me to get each kiddo their own supplies, without breaking the bank! They had fun martian, back to school, and animal stickers that were $1.88 for $0.50. And everything else was about $0.50 as well. Each child has their own graphic design pencils (that way there is no arguing over who has whose pencil). Everyone has a fun notebook, a mini clipboard to track their "Goals" for each day, and pad of stickers. And everyone was pleased with Miss Shelby and my choices. :)

  I did make a HUGE change in my curriculum this year! We went with the School of Tomorrow, ACE Paces. Each child has 4-6 subjects per pace. And there are 12 paces for each school level. They are self lead once your child can read, until then you need to be by their side teaching, but for the two older kids, they can for the most part set their daily goals for how many pages they are going to complete, and then just have me check their work when the page prompts them to. Can you say...RELIEF?!?! Ahh, I can!! A Beka was so good, but so detailed that I would have been swallowed up whole and spit out, by the end of the year. 6 hours of school is not my ideal homeschooling experience! It was so traditional that it was almost impossible to complete in the home setting with more than 2 children. This ACE Paces program I am praying is my answer to prayer for the last year. Only time will tell how much we do, or don't like it, but for now the kids are excited, and I am too! I want our children to grow up and desire to homeschool their children as well, and keeping it fun and exciting is one way to help that. If you are dreading getting up and schooling your children, and your children are dreading school work on a daily basis, then I suggest #1. Pray about it. #2. Think about changing your curriculum. You will obviously have good and bad days, but it shouldn't be more bad then good. If you find it is that way, somethings got to change. You will get burned out, your kids will be burned out, and you are failing at the whole point of homeschooling. I was. The entire last year was just "put on a happy face and get it done", and that does nothing but make you crazy, and your kids are more perceptive than you think...they notice. So change it up. Just because you started with one curriculum, doesn't mean you are stuck doing that forever. A change can benefit all involved, occasionally.

So cheers to a wonderful and inspiring homeschool year!

Blessings~Heather