A Snowy Night

Ever since our snow day, Bitsy has been begging to have another one.  I knew I didn't have it in me to pull off another full day, but when I saw Michelle's White Snow Bright Snow post, I was inspired, so I thought I'd give it another try.  This time we just went for a snowy evening.

As I started making dinner I asked the little ones to get in their warmest winteriest jammies.  I know I'm biased, but aren't they cute? 

While they were busy changing, I was busy putting together our snowman pizza.  We are not olive people so I had to get a little creative.  So we had a tomato scarf and eyes, a carrot nose, and some mushroom buttons.
He didn't melt as much as Michelle's did, (that was one of my favorite parts) but he did oblige me a little.  I'll post my crust recipe at the bottom.
We made a second pizza with mushrooms and pineapple, but I didn't use all of the pineapple, so I threw the juice and leftover pineapple into the freezer for a few minutes, along with a can of coconut milk.  While we waited for our pizza to cool I took the fruit and liquids out of the freezer and put them into the blender, to make our tropical snow drink.  There were no measurements, or exact amounts, but it sure tasted good.
To wrap our night up we had gotten lots of white packing paper in some boxes this week, so made it into balls, filled up a trash bag with the brown packing paper to make a fort, and had a snowball fight.
Lettie decided pretty quickly to get out of the way, and hide behind mommy's fort.  It wasn't terribly organized, or long lasting, but we did have a lot of fun.
The weather is getting a lot warmer now, so I don't think we'll be able to have any more snow time, but it's been a lot of fun while it lasted.  Now if only I could convince someone to make those Hot Cocoa Cookies Michelle showed, and send them to me...  I guess I better go get some marshmallows.  :)

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
2 cups warm water
4-5 cups whole wheat flour (you can use soft of hard wheat, but I prefer hard wheat for this)
2 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar (whatever kind you use)
1 Tbsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in a mixer with a dough hook.  Start with 4 cups of flour, and if the dough isn't leaving the sides of the bowl, add more until it does.  You can also add garlic, or dried herbs to the dough, we like a teaspoon or two of garlic powder, and some dried basil and oregano.

Knead for about five minutes until the dough is smooth and stretchy.  

Roll out on your pan, and add desired toppings.  Bake at 425 until the cheese is brown and bubbly, about 20-30 minutes.

I made the snowman pizza above, and an 11 1/2" x 16 1/2" pizza with one batch of dough.  It will make two 16" round pizzas.


A Muffin Tin Teaching Moment

Our muffin tin consisted of grapes, raw broccoli, pears, cucumbers, peas, and celery with peanut butter.

Last weeks muffin tin served two purposes, the first was to provide healthy snacks to go along with our lessons about our bodies, but the second purpose was a fun way to share a character lesson.  I asked the little ones what they noticed about the food, and of course they answered that it was all green, but different.  So we talked about how we are all children of God with bodies He has given us, and yet we're each different.  We had a pretty long snack time discussion about how boring it would be if we were all exactly alike, just like it would be boring if all of the food on our tray was cucumbers, or pears, and how important it is to love one another despite our differences.

I feel more muffin tin lessons in character coming on!

Linking to: Muffin Tin Mom


Week in Review: Everybody's Got a Body

It's been a while since I did a week in review, and I feel so far behind that I think I'll just do a month in review later in the week, but to start catching up, here's what we did last week.

Chapters 9 and 10 of the Nursery Manual are about the body, so I decided to combine those this week, and spend our time learning about the amazing bodies our Heavenly Father has given us.  

Chapter Nine has a cute activity verse that we did a few times.  The children's favorite lines were, "He gave me ears so I might hear, and eyes that I might see.  He gave me hands so I can clap, two feet that turn around.  And when I want, I touch my toes way down upon the ground."  You can get the whole verse at the Chapter Nine link above.

"He gave me ears so I might hear."
My favorite project of the week was making these bone gloves from Pink and Green Mama.  These are so easy to make!  You just add flour to surgical gloves, and in one add popsicle sticks to the fingers for bones.  The little ones loved squishing the fingers to see which hand had bones and which one didn't.  They also enjoyed making the one that didn't have "bones" flop around.  They also make excellent arm extensions for when you need to tickle someone who is just out of reach.  There was a lot of tickling this week. 

When we driving to the store later in the week Manly all of a sudden said, "I have bones in my neck.  If I didn't, my head would be floppy like the glove."  I love when they make these discoveries on their own!
Do you children dislike having you help them brush their teeth as much as mine do?  Every day I hear, "No mommy, I can do it on my own" and every day I see the front teeth get clean, while the back teeth are ignored.  Since Chapter 10 talks about ways to take care of our bodies, I thought this would be a great time to talk about brushing our teeth, so I asked the little ones to brush for an extra long time.
Then I gave them each a little pink disclosing tablet and asked them to chew on it.  The results were comical!  There was pink everywhere!  They brushed surprisingly well, and the only place that there was pink film on their teeth was in the back.  They really enjoyed seeing where they had missed, and have been a lot more willing to let me help get those back teeth since then.
Of course we brushed again, and got all of the pink plaque off, but their tongues, well, they stayed pink for a few more hours.  I couldn't find disclosing tablets at our local stores, so I called our dentist's office.  Apparently they don't use them much any more so they didn't have any, but they ordered some, and then mailed them to me for free.
Our final project for the week was the little ones favorite!  While Lettie finished her breakfast (read, was secured in a high chair and couldn't rip up the paper) I had Manly and Bitsy lay down on a roll of paper, and traced them with a black marker.  I had intended for them to lay on their backs, but they both just "struck a pose" when they laid down, so we went with it. 
Once they were traced, I put their "bodies" up on the sliding glass door so they could color themselves in.  This has kept them busy off and on for a while now, and I've loved seeing their creativity shine through.  Obviously you can have them color wherever, but I know from experience that crayon comes off of glass easier than other surfaces, particularly walls.  It also happens that the sliding glass doors are in the kitchen, and this is a great project while mom is cooking, but where I am still able to supervise.
We've also read through our Usborne "Your Body" book, and watched The Magic School Bus "Human Body" DVD.  We are all a little more grateful for the gift of a body our Father in Heaven has given us, and definitely more in awe of how amazing it is


Still Changing

In addition to my beautiful new blog design Tamara was also kind enough to create a button for me.  Isn't it cute?

Feel free to take it and share it.
It is taking me some time, but I'm working on the tabs at the top actually linking to things, and I'm happy to say that the "Recipe" tab now actually has recipes!  It's slow, but at least we're still going.  :)  I just love organizing! 


Serving Two Masters

Since Jocelyn, our Book of Mormon Forum hostess is spending February focusing on service, I thought I would look "Service" up in the index of the Book of Mormon.  

The first scripture referenced is 2 Nephi 1:7, and in it we are told that if we will "serve the Lord according to his commandments which he hath given" that the land "shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so it shall be because of iniquity." (Emphasis added.)

I have to admit, this took my breath away.  First, I was reminded plainly that as we keep the commandments we are serving the Lord, which is amazing.  Keeping the commandments seems to simple, I love simple!  Of course simple and easy are to different things, but I digress.  

The other thing that struck me was that when the Lord spoke this, He was talking specifically about the promised land He had sent Lehi and his family to, and yet, it applies to each of us.  Don't we all want to live in liberty?  And the Lord tells us we can, simply by serving Him through commandment keeping.  We have another choice to, which is to disregard our obligation to serve Him, and disobey the commandments, which of course leads to our captivity.  

This reminder of keeping the commandments to give service to the Lord made me think again about Mosiah 2:17, which says, that when we "are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."  The service to God is really what we should be focusing on.  As I show my love for Him I develop a greater love for others, and I want to keep His commandment to "love thy neighbor as thyself", and yet truly my desire to be of service to the Father is the foundation of all other service.

What about our obligation to teach our children about service?  Mosiah 4:14-15 says, "Ye shall not suffer your children that they serve the devil...  But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another."  It's my responsibility to teach them to love and serve one another, as they walk in the ways of truth and soberness.  I need to teach them that we serve others by obeying the Father's commandment to love our neighbor, again, giving service first to Him through our acts toward others.

But what about that first part, not allowing them to serve the devil?

I found the answer in Mosiah 5:13,."For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thought and intents of his heart?"  

My children can't serve any master they don't know, and neither can I.  If we're filling our lives with service to the Father, through keeping His commandments, we won't have time to serve the devil.  

When it comes to service there are really only two choices, we can serve God, or we can serve Satan, and every day we get to decide who we will serve.  It's an important choice, because who we come to know who we serve, and we become like them.  I'm profoundly grateful that I had a chance to see that so clearly this week.

"As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."


Valentine's Recap

This sign hangs over the window at my kitchen sink, and while I look at it every day, I don't always see it.  Know what I mean?  My husband got this sign for me for our third Christmas, while he was deployed for the second time, and I can still remember how much it touched me during that difficult time to have this reminder for the walls of our home.  There have been a lot of things happening lately that have made me want to really SEE this sign every day, and to rejoice in its message.  (I know it's not a great picture, but it had my twisted crepe paper decorations, so I had to include it, and in case you have a hard time reading it, it says, "Families are Forever".)  :)

Valentine's Day in our home is normally a non-event, but since we were without our daddy, I thought maybe a change was in order, and this little sign was the catalyst for our celebrations.  Our day was all about being a family, and special surprises for the little ones so they knew that there family near and far loved them.  It was an amazing blessing!  

So, if you're looking to get a big head start for Valentine's Day 2013, or you're our daddy and want to see what we did, here you go. 

The night before after the little ones went to bed, I grabbed my supplies, and started painting the house red.  Not literally, but you know what I mean.  First I put up crepe paper all over the kitchen, then I added these cute little heart clings from Grandma to the sliding glass door in the dining room.  It had just started to rain when I took the picture, and I love seeing the drops splash on the window.  The little ones were THRILLED when they saw the heart the next morning, and they've been moving it around ever since.
Then I started working on the table.  Of course Valentine's Day wouldn't be complete without some paper heart doilies, and to that I added some heart garland, and a surprise new book "Tomie's Book of Love" by Tomie DePaolo.  It is filled with nursery rhymes about love, and the little one had me read it over and over again.  Their favorite is "Tickle, tickle on your knee.  If you laugh you don't love me."  There has been endless knee tickling, and suppression of giggles for the last several days.  There were also some Trader Joe's heart stickers from our last visit there.
At each meal there was a card from one of their grandparents (I had been hiding them away as they came in the mail), and a little gift.  For breakfast they each got this print from Come Together Kids that I just adored.  It says "You made my heart happy when..." with lines to finish off the sentence.  Every night before bedtime I'm writing something new with a dry erase marker, and Bitsy and Manly are loving it!  I had originally thought about making them a book of compliments, with a different great thing about them on each page, but I really loved the idea of daily focusing on something wonderful that each child does, and telling them about it.  Sometimes I notice, and forget to tell them.

I also added a felt heart over the spot for their plates on their place mats, and put out our heart napkins that I got years ago at Target.
For breakfast we had these yummy heart shaped pancakes with some powdered sugar, and blood oranges.  I substituted pureed strawberries for the bananas in the recipe, which made for a pretty pink batter, but unfortunately still made for regular brown pancakes.  They were so good though, and because they were so sweet we decided to completely skip the maple syrup.  Just looking at the picture and thinking about them makes me want to eat more. 
After breakfast one of our neighbors came over, and we all went outside to "play", but while the little ones were playing the moms were hiding these ice hearts all around the yard.  I made some of these in my big heart muffin tin, and some in little heart ice cube trays.  
I have been wanting to have a Valentine's Hunt since I read this post this summer, and it was just as fun without snow.  In fact I think it was a little more fun, because it made it feel a little more like winter, and then we got to do a load of other fun activities.  Bitsy had so much fun running around the yard finding the hearts, and tossing them in her bag.
After all of the hearts were discovered, we added some salt, and stacked them as high as we could!  Thanks Michelle!
And of course, we wouldn't want to waste all of that melted red water, so then we broke out the paint brushes and made beautiful sidewalk art.
After all of our hunting, melting, and painting, we were pretty cold, and hungry, so everyone was thrilled to come in for lunch and find these cute hand warmers that Grandma had made.  She had the same inspiration I did here, but actually stuck to the original plan and made them into hearts.  I have lost count of how many times they have been warmed up now, but I've also been informed that they make excellent cheek warmers, in case you need some.  :)  
For dinner I had great plans of making fondue, and having a candle lit dinner, because Bitsy loves candle lit dinners, but when she and Manly started begging to "eat at a restaurant" I decided we may as well cap our day off with that.  So they decided we should go to Sonic, which was fine with me, because we don't have to all pile out of the car to get the food.

After dinner we had rotating treats.  One person got to take a very fun water balloon bath.
While the others had a little bag of heart shaped cookies and gummies.
And let me tell you, I HATE gummies, but these things were amazing!  I had to show some serious self control so that my children could have them, and they didn't have any crazy ingredients that I couldn't pronounce.  Thank you Trader Joe's, my tummy was in lovey!
Everyone loved the water balloon bath, but Lettie's face was just priceless.  She had this adorable look of awe and joy the whole time she was in the tub, and she giggled so hard every time a balloon would slip through her fingers.  It made the whole experience worth it!
And my little Bitsy sat tracing her finger over the outline of the cookies, and the little lines of icing.  She is usually so full of life, that it was a tender moment to watch her take time to savor the moment.  She looked up and smiled at me and said, "This has been such a wonderful day" and I knew I had succeeded at making Valentine's Day a day of family love. 
 I'm so glad we get to be together forever!


Face Lift

So you may have noticed, there have been some changes around here.  Aren't they great?  I want to give a HUGE thank you to my wonderful friend Tamara for all of her hard work.  I LOVE the new look, and I hope you do to too.



Where Did It Come From?

Homemade yogurt, granola, and fruit sauce.
Over the last few years as I have learned more about food storage, and how to use it our diet has changed fairly significantly.  Gone are the boxed foods, and the premade treats.  At first it wasn't for any health reasons, but solely because I realized how much less it would cost me to make them at home. 

Then as I started gaining an interest in gardening I started learning more about where a lot of the food I was buying was actually coming from, and there were more changes to what we eat.  I was also becoming more aware of how cutting out the processed foods made us all so much healthier.  So, all of this is leading up to two things.

First, in all of my reading and research, until last night I had never watched Food Inc.  It's kind of surprising that I hadn't come to think of it.  Because of all that I have read, I wasn't really surprised by any of it, other than the issue with seeds all being modified.  If you haven't ever watched it, I highly recommend it!  You can stream it on Netflix.

As I was watching the movie I had my second thought, and this is where we get to the food storage part of the food storage post.  :)  

So if you're just beginning to store food, or you don't have as much as you would like, there are probably one of two things holding you back, knowing how to use it, and cost.  I will continue to post recipes to help with the first issue, but I really want to address the financial issue.  
As I watched Food Inc. last night there was a family that decided to go through a drive through, rather than go to the grocery store, because by buying from the dollar menu they could get more food than if they bought fresh produce at the store.  It broke my heart, and honestly made me a little sick to my stomach.   

I found myself thinking how profoundly grateful I was for my food storage.  Say what?

The initial costs for getting your food storage can be high, if you're not slowly acquiring the food, but once you've reached your goal, the maintenance costs are pretty minimal.  You don't run out of everything all at once, so you don't have to replace it all at once.  That means you have some extra money left in the grocery budget.

Do you see where I'm going?  

It's true that buying fresh produce is more expensive than buying prepackaged foods, and if you enter the world of organics, look out.  The sticker shock can be staggering.  But since you've got that extra money, you can buy the better quality meat, or the organic eggs, or the vegetables from the local farmer, whatever is important to you.  You're not bound to eat off the dollar menu, because you can't afford anything else, and that is a freedom that I LOVE!

So see, you're food storage is saving you money, and helping you feed your family better!  Now, if you don't know what to do with all that extra food you can buy, go check out the recipes at 100 Days of Real Food.  I came across this site earlier this week, and I want to make one of everything!  Seriously.

And just so you know that I'm a real person, who eats out sometimes, and even eats junk food every now and again, I share with you this:
While we do eat out, this specific picture is actually more of a ringing endorsement for not eating out.  The reason I originally took the picture was because I wanted photographic evidence to remind me that I found this under Bitsy's seat in the back of our van a few days ago, and we hadn't been to Sonic in at least three weeks.  It was all rock solid, but there wasn't a bit of mold, and it hadn't even started to smell.  Yeah, gross!  

So, maybe think twice before you get a corn dog, but otherwise, enjoy the freedom that comes from your food storage.  :) 


Last Minute Valentines

A few month's ago I saw these beautiful hearts, on my friend Jocelyn's blog, and I've been biding my time until Valentine's Day so I could make some with my little ones.  And in case you are in need of a last minute craft/decoration for the big day tomorrow, I thought I would share.  (Jocelyn's tutorial is great, I just haven't blogged lately, and needed something simple to ease me back into it.)  :)
First, you want to round up all of those broken peeled crayons your children have scattered around the house.  Then break out a crayon or pencil sharpener, and start taking peelings off of your crayons, and onto your wax paper.  

This may be a moment where you realize you are woefully unprepared to sharpen crayons.  Luckily I found our Princess and Thomas sharpeners from Hong Kong.  (No, seriously, they really came for my children from a friend in Hong Kong at Christmas.)  Thanks Tessy, we would have been totally craft-less without you!!!
It's best to make sure there is plenty of supervision as the crayon shaving takes place.  Luckily I have Lettie to help.  (She totally cracks me up, she saw Bitsy and Manly working on a project so she climbed into her high chair to watch.)
Your hands may be a little messy when you're all done, but at least you'll be happy.
After you've gotten a good pile of shavings spread them out some, and put another piece of wax paper on top.  You'll want to iron the two pieces together using low heat, and making sure to protect your surface with a towel, or something that you don't mind getting some wax on it.  (I decided it would be safest not to take pictures of myself ironing, and since my oldest is only five, I decided it would be safest just to not let little people iron.)  

Then cut out your hearts, let a little person raid your ribbon stash, and hang them up somewhere to make your house more festive.  Happy Valentine's Day!


Onions, Onions, Everywhere!!!

Back in October my father in-law gave me this.  He knows the way to my heart...seriously! 
Yup, that's 25 POUNDS of onions!  What do you do with 25 pounds of onions?  Well, if you're me, you intend to dehydrate them, and then let them sit in your cool dark garage for a few months until the sprouts start coming out of the bag, and then you decide you better get serious about it.  So, if you too would like to preserve a large quantity of onions, here's you food storage post of the week.  I dehydrated most of the onions, but I also froze quite a few of them. 
First and foremost, I would NOT recommend this project if you don't have a food processor.  I love mine, but on this day, I was also profoundly grateful for it!  I filled it at least 25 times, and I know I wouldn't have been able to chop all of this by hand in one day.
So my first step was to chop all of the onions up.  I went for a medium dice.  I know some people slice them and dehydrate them in rings, but I really prefer having them pre-chopped, despite the additional smell.  Don't worry though, somewhere around your fifth bowl full in your processor your eyes stop running and your nose starts watering...of course, everything smells like onions for several hours after, but at least you're not crying anymore.  

At this stage you may also want to call your sister in-law and tell her how cool you are, and find out that she's cooler because she's going to be giving you a new niece or nephew in nine months.  Oh wait, that will probably only happen to me, when I dehydrate onions!!  (Congratulations again my cute little sister!!!!!!)
Once they are a fairly uniform size, place the onions on your dehydrator trays in an even and thin layer.  I maxed out my dehydrator twice!  It took me two days and twelve trays to get them all dry.  When you have all of your trays filled, turn the dehydrator on at 145 degrees.  Mine took about 6 hours to dry, but depending on your humidity yours may take more or less time.  I HIGHLY recommend that you do dehydrate them in a garage, or otherwise well ventilated area that you don't live in.  Even with dehydrating in my garage, the house was still smelling a little odoriferous, and a week later my garage still smells like onion.
For the onions in the freezer I measured out 1 cup portions, and put them in these little snack sized bags to freeze.  Once they were frozen solid I put about 10 of the smaller bags into a gallon sized bag to keep the smell down.  I had a total of 21 cups to freeze.
When it was all said and done I had a #10 can full of dry onions, and I was able to refill my little container that I keep in the kitchen.  

If you decide that the onion smell just isn't the scent you went blessing your home, I highly recommend making up a batch of this yummy potpourri.  (Thanks Michelle!)  It completely eliminated the onion smell, and was really pretty to look at. 


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