Kindness Matters

Yes, once again it’s been awhile. I’ve given up on being consistent and will post as I find little windows of time. I’m working full time for the next 6 weeks so that means I won’t be on the old blog much but I had some stuff that was on my mind as of late and thought I’d throw it out there. I truly love writing and finding fabulous things to share with my readers but time really does get away from me.

This is a little hodge podge but all really comes back to one thing, how we treat one another. Today I heard a morning radio show promoting an anti bullying campaign. I was in my car, on my way to work and I was completely sucked in. The conversations between the DJ’s and listeners calling in were eye opening. There are various opinions about who teaches children about being kind. It ultimately starts at home but one of the opinions is that schools should be more accountable and on top of students that bully. OK, so this is a tough one and it actually was a conversation that I had both on Facebook and also with the principal at my kids school a couple of weeks back after a few kids called my son ‘gay’. I expressed my irritation at this name on Facebook. Of course it sparked a huge conversation both on and off of Facebook (why I love Facebook, it can be a great place to ‘put it out there’). Several people suggested that I discuss it with the principal to which she (being my Facebook friend) spoke up and said that she makes it a point to discuss at monthly assemblies that bullying is not OK and will not be tolerated. I was able to catch up with her at school a couple of weeks later and we had a deeper discussion about it. In her eyes (and mine as well), being kind is not hard and something as simple as a compliment could make a persons day.

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Here is my take, it starts at home. Unfortunately some children are not taught the basics of  kindness and compassion. In which case the place where they spend most of their time could step it up a little. One suggestion was classes on anti bullying. We spend so much time teaching our kids science, math and history but so much of what they learn are lost along the way. I for one don’t recall the answers to many of the things that are on my kids tests and homework but do I know how to treat people? Yes. If I could send my children into the world with any skill what would it be? Not the ability to master chemistry but the ability to be kind and compassionate. The ability to connect with others. To be a friend. To make others feel special. To make others feel loved. To build relationships.

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So many thought provoking quotes come to mind,

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but there echoes are truly endless” – Mother Teresa
“Your wealth or status doesn’t make you. Your kindness and character do” – Venkat Desireddy
“My religion is very simple. Kindness is my religion” – Dalai Lama
“Compassion is a verb” – Thich Nhat Hanh
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” – The Help
” If you can’t be kind, be quiet” – Unknown

On last nights Academy Awards, Frozen won for Best Original Song. Cause yeah, “Let it Go” has become the anthem for people everywhere, mostly woman it seems! In case you live in a  bubble (in my house it’s sung loudly over and over and over by my boys and myself), here is the official video for Let it Go. The writers, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, gave a great acceptance speech but my favorite was the part dedicated to their daughters, “Never let fear or shame keep you from celebrating the unique people that you are.” What a powerful thing to say to your children. Let them be who they are. Let them own their uniqueness. So much of our society is busy keeping of with the Joneses (not the Kardashians). Trying to fit molds. Competing with one another. For what? Be you. Own who you are. All of you. The good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t try and be someone else.

We live in a day and age (I sound so old — I’m pushing 40 you know!) but seriously. Things have changed in a major way. Our kids don’t just use names to hurt one another but they also have other tools at our disposable. Things like technology and social media. So that means we have a bigger audience. Which is terrifying. My child was called gay and let it roll right off of him. Thankfully he has a strong sense of who he is and knows that so many people say things just to get under each others skin. THANK GOODNESS my child deals with things like he does. I hope he always does. So many kids don’t. They take it to heart, they hurt, they don’t know how  to cope. Sadly you hear of kids changing schools because of bullying, teenagers committing suicide. All for what? A lack of kindness and empathy? Something has to change.

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Spread kindness and love. It is contagious. I promise. Oh, and have a lovely day!

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Valentine’s Day Fun

Valentine’s Day is just a week away and my house is all a glow in red {but not pink … I don’t know why but I am not into pinks for decor so I stick to red}. Still, my decor is pretty cute if I can toot my own horn. Toot toot. I thought I’d share a photo of my mantel and one of a cute buffet table in my entry as well.

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My 3 Reed Dotters hosted the cutest cookie party. What a fun idea to celebrate a sweet holiday like Valentine’s.

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Tatortots and Jello always wows in her holiday and everyday decor. I love how she made these pretty paper rosettes and I am a sucker for anything xo.

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She’s Crafty used so many of my faves – chevron, black, white and red, owls, letters. I could go on and on {and on}.

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The Happy Scraps created this fun display using the word L-O-V-E and added a little bunting to make it even cuter {if that is even possible!}

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I make yarn wrapped wreaths but I have yet to try yarn wrapping letters. How cute are these over at My Sister’s Suitcase?

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Crafty Texas Girls did a cute dresser display. I love the ‘love’ banner, don’t you?

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Sources for my decor:

  • Pom pom flowers and chalkboard – made by me
  • Hobnail vase & numbered plates – Rodworks
  • Pom Pom garland – Target dollar bins at Christmas time
  • Old window frame – found by my dad, painted by me
  • Vase filled with glittery red hearts, hearts are from – Joann’s
  • #4 – Steinmart
  • Be Kind printable {this is one of my favorite quotes in the whole world} – Three Little Monkeys Studio

Wishing you all sweet things everyday. Hugs and kisses to each and everyone of you sweet blog followers out there.

 

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

A couple of things, #1 – I love baking. I only want to sample said baked item and pass it on. Still, my butt and thighs hold on to that tiny taste. Sigh. #2 – My best intentions of keeping up on the blog {and keeping the content fun, fresh and current} fall to the wayside. Life just happens and days go by. Sigh again. I wish it would slow down just a tiny bit. Anyway, enough fluff. I wanted to share this delish little recipe that I found on Pinterest but it truly belongs to Averie Cooks. Her recipes have caught my eye a few times now. Mmmm goodness! Peanut butter was the desired ingredient and this recipe just looked simple and well, satisfying. It was. My taste testers all agreed. Two thumbs up!

Soft and Chewy Peanut Butter Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter
  • 1/3 c creamy peanut butter
  • 1 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c old fashioned whole oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 c white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c peanut butter chips (I used more white chocolate chips as it’s what I had but you can sub whatever chips you’d like)

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and peanut butter together.  This took me about 45 seconds on high.
  • Add the brown & white sugar to the melted butter & peanut butter mixture and stir.  Let sit til slightly cooled and then add the egg plus egg yolk. You don’t want to ‘cook’ your eggs in the hot mixture hence letting it cool. Add the vanilla and stir.
  • Then add the flour, oats, baking soda and stir.  This recipe stirs quite nicely. I tend to use my mixer for everything but these mixed great by hand.
  • Finally, add your chips.
  • Scoop dough using a cookie scoop and put on parchment paper lined baking sheets about 2 minutes a part. Bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes. I always seem to bake cookies at the longer time and they come out perfect.
  • Let cool slightly and then serve warm with a cold glass of milk. Yum!

 

Freshening Up — Office Nook Redo

Happy New Year! Welcome to the month of purging and organizing. I mean, you almost can’t avoid it as all of the stores have the  containers to make this easy for you on sale. In your face. So it just feels like you are ‘supposed’ to do it. Plus after months of shopping, cooking, decorating etc it just feels like the thing to do. That and working out but seriously. lets stay on task. I’m much better at organizing and purging my home them I am my diet and workout routines.

We have a little built in space that is honestly not used a whole lot. I tend to do all of my blogging and crafting in the kitchen cause I like to be where the action is. The office nook is at the top of our stairs and I feel a bit confined but it was built into our builder grade home so I like to utilize it the best I can. It currently houses kids craft stuff and all of our files are there as well. I added a few pretty yet functional boxes to dress up the space and hold craft supplies in a much prettier way. I also have a giant chalkboard for little bits of inspiration. Instead of standard pencil holders I bought some fun glass containers. By clicking on the photos below, you can see a larger version. For some reason I can’t get them to view bigger directly in this post without making them look like a stretched out pair of socks. Sad but true.

beforeandafterSources:

Chalkboard Boxes // Kirklands
Black Floral and Blue Fabric & Canvas Boxes // HomeGoods
Hobnail Jars {holding pencils} // Joann’s
Chalkboard Jars {large} // HomeGoods
Chalkboard Jars {small} // Kirklands
Chalkboard // My own creation
Metal Basket // HomeGoods
Chair // My own, covered in Fabric from Joann’s
Inspire Letters // Joann’s and Hobby Lobby, painted by me.
Curtain // Created by me using part of an old Ikea curtain
Printable // Someone is Happy  … at Somewhat Simple
Bulletin Board Frame // Marshalls
Instagram Prints // Social Prints Studio

Here are a few detailed photos of the finished project:

nookI hope you enjoy the space and are inspired to create your own bit of pretty within your own home.

New Year — New Goals

I prefer to call them goals and not resolutions. Resolutions seems so predictable and are often {OK, almost always} broken. I’m also trying to come up with my word of the year. I was torn between two but starting this post gave me the clarity that I needed to settle on one. The two I love  are ‘breathe’ and ‘focus’. I love them both but I have chosen breathe as my 2014 word. I might have to repeat it to myself a million times but hopefully I can get it to stick.  Both apply to my main goal of being more present and less stressed. If I can remind myself to just breathe in stressful situations then the focus comes. Or so I have been reminded by some of my super smart Facebook friends ;)

I’m playing over at Pinterest {and this is where focus or the lack of comes into play} and I found this great list of goals. I think it’s a great way to assess goals and by writing typing them out, I can maybe be a bit more accountable. I love this quote that I found on Pinterest. Little things are much more achievable and can still make us feel like we succeeded.

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I also found this list over at Run Lucas Run. I think we will wrap up our Winter Break tomorrow as a family by having a yummy dinner and then we can each fill out these lists. There are actually two lists to download, one is for grownups and the other for kids. The kids version is so much more simple. Lucky kids.

2014I’m getting a jump start on mine to share with you.

A BAD HABIT I’M GOING TO BREAK: Getting so worked up about things that really aren’t worth it.
A NEW SKILL I’D LIKE TO LEARN: Canning 
A PERSON I HOPE TO BE MORE LIKE: This is a loaded question, there are so many people that inspire me.
A GOOD DEED I’M GOING TO DO: Dedicate more time to Hands 4 Hope
A PLACE I’D LIKE TO VISIT: The Oregon/Washington Coast.
A BOOK I’D LIKE TO READ: Fly Away by Kristen Hannah
A LETTER I’M GOING TO WRITE: Be more consistent in the letters I write to my boys.
A NEW FOOD I’D LIKE TO TRY: Eggplant — it kinda freaks me out.
I’M GOING TO BE BETTER AT: Using my time wisely/Gardening more/Being patient/Exercising and eating better  for my mental and physical health {not aiming for perfection but being better}/spending less and saving more/blog more

There you have it. My 2014 goals. Do you set goals or resolutions? I’d love to hear them and how you stick to them as well.

Cheers to a New Year. I hope 2014 is a good one for you!

 

 

Thanksgiving 2013 Menu

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Happy Fall Y’all! A fellow blogger and friend of mine shared her Thanksgiving menu and I thought, “what a great idea”. So I am being a bit of a copy cat. Hopefully flattery will get me everywhere ;) Charene’s blog is Copper Lantern Cooking. I actually found her a few years back when she had a local cupcake business and was generous enough to donate to a fundraiser at my kids school. We have since become Facebook friends and recipe sharers. I love social media for just these type of friendships. I get to meet people that I otherwise would not and share fun things like well, food!

So let me preface by saying that I have a pretty straight forward, stick to the classics type of family. However, I like to mix it up so I’ve added a few things with flair.

Appetizers

  • Salami, cheese and crackers – we grew up with this on hand at every family function. My dad is adding deer salami which I do not like so I asked for regular ol’ salami for me.
  • Black olives – you know, for wearing on your fingers.
  • Deviled eggs — another dad specialty

Main Course

Desert

My dad is in charge of deserts. I am the queen of baking in my house but for Thanksgiving, I appreciate the pies that show up in my kitchen. We get various versions of apple pie from Apple Hill, a banana cream pie from Buttercream Bakery and the pumpkin pies are from Costco. Trust me, I make it up with the loads of cookies that I crank out throughout the rest of the holiday season. Oh, I’ll take a little credit cause I do make homemade whipped cream for the pies. Homemade. No canned or Cool Whip {yes, I know some people love it but I have to make the real stuff, I’ve even added a little bourbon for a kick.}

Do you host or travel for Thanksgiving? Do you have a standard menu or do you serve things unique? I’d love to hear about your families favorite recipes.

However you spend Thanksgiving, I wish you a happy one. Count your blessings everyday.

Fall Entertaining

Sometimes I just want to jump into a magazine that features the perfect tablescape. Tonight I was inspired by this amazing photo on Joss & Main.

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I love this table over at Bird’s Party. The sprinkles of gold confetti are a fun addition to an already whimsical table.

thanksgiving-fall-tablescape-ideasClassy in the City shared this simple yet inviting table for 4.

Fall2 I love this photo on LampsPlus page. I think the whole property just works for that rustic feel that I adore.

Fall3I love how Sew Fine a Seam incorporated some blue into her table. I love adding blue into my holiday color scheme. Light blue, robins egg blue, soft aqua. It’s a soothing color and adds a fun pop to any decor.

fall-tablescape-3-620x1014The Happier Homemaker kept it simple with whites and a burst of green. I love the addition of the initial as a table marker {I have a slight obsession with initials}.

autumn-tablescapeSo there you have it, a few of my favorite fall tablescapes although I have a confession, I grew up spending holidays with my dad, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. so we all ended up eating wherever we found a seat and this involved paper plates and plastic utensils but guess what? It was the best and even though we didn’t have fancy place settings, there wasn’t a lack of blessings and things to be thankful for. Still, I do love pretty table.

 

French Breakfast Puffs

These might be one of my most favorite recipes of all time. I don’t think you can go wrong with something coated in dripping butter and then rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Tell me if I am wrong! I saw The Pioneer Woman whipping these up on her TV show a few weeks back and immediately made them for our breakfast for dinner that same night. They were irresistible and gone in a flash. I’m pretty sure I drooled as I waited for the rest of our dinner to finish cooking.  I made these ham breakfast cups to go with the muffins. It was one of the best breakfast for dinners I have ever had.

French Breakfast Puffs

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French Breakfast Puffs

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Flour
  • 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2/3 cups Shortening (Crisco)
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1-1/2 cup Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 sticks Butter

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups.

In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a different bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and shortening. Then add eggs and mix again. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.

Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden.

In a bowl, melt 2 sticks butter. In a separate bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Dip baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

These are amazing fresh from the oven and just as great the next day {I’ve tried both — don’t judge! ;)}

Cinnamon & Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Cookies

Heeeeelllllo Fall! So it’s that season {yeah yeah yeah .. I’m so redundant in expressing my love of Fall, sorry if it gets annoying but I just can not help myself} for baking. Today I had three goals, #1 – Bake with pumpkin, #2 – make some goodies for our schools Fall Festival Cake Walk tomorrow and #3 – Appease my neighbor who has been relentless in reminding me that I have not made anything pumpkin for him yet. So I went to my recipe book Pinterest and found these goodies which were over at Keep it Sweet Deserts. I whipped them up and of course had my delivery boy run them to the neighbors house which resulted in a text telling me that it was a keeper. Oh whew! ;) Then I bagged them up for the cake fight. Oh yes, prior to these two things my taste tester and I sampled the goods and yes, this recipe is a keeper.

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Cinnamon & Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie Cookies

Yield: Makes 5 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie seasoning
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips

Cooking Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and pumpkin pie seasoning; set aside
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy
  4. Beat in eggs and vanilla; beat in pumpkin until well-combined
  5. Stir in dry ingredients just until combined
  6. Stir in chocolate and cinnamon chips
  7. Use a cookie dough scoop or tablespoon to place cookie dough mounds (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 1 inch apart
  8. Bake 9-11 minutes or until cookies are puffed up and no longer wet
  9. Allow cookies to cool on cooling rack before serving

What We Teach Our Children.

I am on the verge of teenage-hood in  my house.  My oldest is 10 going on 13. The little one is 8. They keep me on my toes. The 10 year old is working on his delivery. By this I mean he thinks everything is funny but I don’t always agree. So we are constantly discussing what is and isn’t appropriate. It exhausts me. He loves to chime in on adult conversations and he also has super good ears. So he hears everything. This. Is. Challenging. I have to give him the freedom to express himself and hold conversations with grown ups but I also need to teach him what conversations are appropriate for him to be a part of. So these are really small life lessons I am working on everyday. He is a good kid but they are all learning, right? Everything is a life lesson in my opinion.

I know that academics are important but for me, I’d really rather my child grow up being kind because that will get you far in life! Building relationships, engaging and caring about others. These are imperative life skills. Yes, good academics will help you as well but it’s all of the other things in life that will help you along even more. Be kind. Be compassionate. Be humble. Be aware. Be mindful. Be playful. Most of all, be an example of who your child should and could be. Be hopeful that you help shape them into compassionate do-gooders that will inspire others. Help shape them so that they will put good energy into a sometimes messy world.

Kids

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I’ll leave you with this poem was on the web today. For the article that goes with it, click here.

We read it in the papers and hear on the air; 
Of killing and stealing and crime everywhere. 
We sigh and we say as we notice the trend, 
this young generation…where will it end?

But can we be sure that it’s their fault alone?
These kids who do things that we don’t condone;
Who was it shaping their first twenty years?
And who made the world they enjoy with their peers? 

Are we less guilty, who place in their way.
Too many things that lead them astray?
Too many credit cards, too much idle time;
Too many movies of passion and crime. 

Too many books not fit to be read,
Too many damaging things they hear said.
Too many children encouraged to roam,
Too many parents who won’t stay at home. 

Kids don’t make the movies, they don’t write the books.
They don’t make the video games with gangsters and crooks.
They don’t make the liquor, they don’t run the bars,
They don’t change the laws, they don’t make the cars. 

They don’t make the drugs, that muddle the brain;
That’s all done by older folks…eager for gain.
Those self-absorbed teens, oh how we condemn,
The flaws of our nation and blame it on them. 

But rather than fixing blame, let’s fix the cause,
Let’s look in the mirror and conclude as we pause;
That in so many cases — it’s sad but it’s true –
The title “Delinquent” fits older folks too. 

There is a great article that goes along with this. Please visit Tim Elmore’s site at http://growingleaders.com/blog/kids-products-world-created/