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!

697d32d46a805824b5f9dfc94819ab80 Source

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.

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.

The+Fall+Harvest

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.

 

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/

Little Pieces of Fall

I know, I go on and on and on about how I heart Fall. I even have a hashtag for it on Instagram. #iheartfall. For real. I’m literally sitting here eating apple crisp while apple coffee cake bakes in the oven. At 10pm. #issues. I know I am not alone so I’ve compiled some of my favorite Fall things to share here with you. Your welcome and happy Fall ya’ll.

Fall collage 1

Felt leaves at 5 Orange Potatoes

Chai Pumpkin Spice Thumbprints at Pass the Sushi

Sweater Pumpkin at Confessions of a Plate Addict

Heart Shaped Leaves at The Berry

Fall Collage 2Cider Spiced Donut Holes at Honeybear Lane

Free Fall printable at I Should Be Mopping the Floor

Spicy Pumpkin Soup at A Spicy Perspective

Chevron Wreath at Crafty Texas Girls

Last year I shared all of these yummy pumpkin recipes and these free printables. Is Fall your favorite season or are you all about the hot summer days?

 

 

 

 

Little Pieces of July

Something funny about me? I was born in July. However, I do not love summer. I love Fall. So why was I born in the summer? Why did I get married in the summer? Interesting uh? Well I can tell you this, since becoming a mama — I enjoy summer more. I feel like I am transported back to being a kid and feeling the freedoms of summer. When I was a kid, I was a lot more heat tolerant. Now a perfect summer day for me is 85 degrees. Yeah, that hot spell we had over the 4th of July? I was pretty much in a permanent bad mood all week. I tried to fake happy but I was melting on the inside and out. Yearning for a breeze, some fresh air that wasn’t coming out of an air conditioning vent and barely keeping the house tolerable. I won’t go on and on about how Fall is my favorite season. You can read all about that here and here. Before I get all lost in a season that hasn’t even arrived yet, let’s visit July. July was full of fun for our family. Day trips, birthdays, ice cream, July 4th, visits with family — it was an action packed month full of fun memories.

July 1 Collage

 

Some of my favorite parts of July 2013: Day trip to Silver Lake, Planning July 4th with my dear friend Stacie, celebrating my friend Kelly’s birthday {FYI: when the band doesn’t show, use a juke box to have a dance party and singalong}, kayaking with my family, Boeger Winery Sunset Sipping {Hangtown Cooler please!}, doing a little bedroom makeover for my littlest}, kids being creative with Legos, a day trip with my boys which included a hike, some lake time{and crawdad catching} and ice cream at Camp Richardson, back to school shopping, birthday creating and last but not least, celebrating Mason’s birthday on July 26th and wrapping the month up with my birthday which entailed a day trip to Sand Harbor.

I’d say by the looks of things, July was pretty awesome for us! Hope ya’all are enjoying the dog days of summer.

Summer Cocktails

It’s summertime and that means — yep, cocktails!! Not that you can’t have cocktails in the other seasons but there is something so refreshing about cocktails in the summertime. I love seeing how a slew of ingredients bring about something so yummy and delicious. I keep putting this post off assuming that I will pull it together and make/share a couple of my favorites and add pictures as well but … but … but .. you get the point. It’s not happening! The last time I had my two favorite concoctions was while camping and I just didn’t think to get photos. I will share the recipes with you though. You can just imagine how pretty they are in a glass with a cute lil straw.

Root-beer Float

My version doesn’t really entail any ice-cream but it tastes like a root-beer float. Anyone that has tried them is instantly hooked. First off, I am in love with these skinny glasses from Cost Plus. I have actually bought them for my girlfriends as they are a hot ticket around here. Add a straw and they are perfect for a pretty cocktail.

I add one shot of Whipped Vodka to a full glass of ice and then top with root beer. Voila. A simple and super tasty cocktail. Some people like to add whipped cream to the top. I think they are plenty sweet without.

Orange Julius with Whipped Vodka

These seem to be made a million different ways but this is how we make them. Now these are a main attraction while camping so they are served in non other then a Red Solo cup. I know, classy!

In a shaker combine: ice, 2 oz Whipped Cream Vodka, 1 oz Triple Sec, fill with OJ and then a squirt of canned whipping cream. Shake well and serve. This will serve two.

Both of these go down a little too easily so beware how quickly you feel the results if you know what I am saying.

I made this yummy sangria for the 4th of July. Again, I did not get a photo before it was all gone. What I loved the most is that it called for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which is the type of wine I always drink. It sold me on the recipe.

Summer Sangria at The Sassy Writer

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Of course have a Pinterest Board which is dedicated to Entertaining and that is where I save these little gems for later. Check out some of the yummy things I hope to make soon. All recipes can be accessed by clicking on the drink title and source above the photos.

Mexican Sangria at Design Sponge

Mexican Sangria

Sour Cherry Gin Slings at Food & Wine

Sour Cherry Gin Slings

Cherry Moon at Grey Goose

recipe-cherrynoir-cherry-moon-feature

Frozen Cherry Margarita at Girlfriend Getaways

Girls-Night-In-Drinks-Frozen-Cherry-Margarita

Gin & Tonic {one of my faves} at Drizzle and Dip

gin and tonic

Cayman Lemonade at Islands

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The Frenchy Cocktail at Intoxicology

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Marshmallow Cake-tini Cocktail at Tablespoon

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These look like tantalizing cocktails. I’d love to hear if you have tried any of these and what you think. Oh my last round up does not come with a photo {although I had two last weekend and I can tell you that they were delicious} is a drink called the Va Va Voom and it was at a local spot called Sauced. It had vodka, muddled mint and lime, simple syrup and hard cider and was served on the rocks. It tasted like a carbonated lemonade. It was so yummy {and it may have caused excessive dancing, just sayin’}.

Come on over and check out my million and one other pins at Pinterest :) Just kidding, I only have 7, 257  pins.

Cheers to Summer my friends {even though I long for Fall}.

Camping and a Chili Recipe

This past weekend we went camping on the coast. There were a total of 11 trailers loaded with friends and family. There was way too much food, lots of cocktails, a lack of sleep, happy and dirty kiddos, beautiful sunsets, campfires, crabbing and of course sledding down sand-dunes.

beach collage

I have a few things to say about camping. I feel kinda misunderstood so let me explain. My husband and I started dating over 14 years ago. We never discussed camping. There were no pros or cons, never did we camp alone or with friends. We just never discussed it. Then one day about 5.5 year ago my hubby tells me he wants to go in with another firefighter family on buying a trailer. He wasn’t kidding, within days we were co-owners of a used camping trailer. All of a sudden I was supposed to have this die hard love of camping and all that it entailed. Well guess what? I didn’t! And 5.5 years later I still don’t. Yes, we have the luxury of having a trailer but let me tell you, it is not just like home. The bathroom barely fits a small child let alone an average sized adult. You have to be hyper aware of how much water you are using because the fresh water tank empties just as quickly as the grey water tank fills up {the fact that I even know what grey water is is actually pretty amazing!} So things like doing dishes, an occasional shower and going potty are all things that have to be calculated. Of course we are surrounded by walls and we have an actual bed to sleep in. Plus having access to power and heat are wonderful – especially when you camp at the beach in February. Now on to the sleeping or lack of. Anytime someone tosses or turns OR gets up for the middle of the night bathroom run {um hello hubby who drinks more cocktails then normal while camping} the whole trailer rocks and rolls. Then I wake up. I have mastered the art of earplugs to kill the sounds of late night campfire games and laughter {which I enjoy until I just can’t hang anymore}. The trailer moving wakes me every time. So I pretty much come home feeling like I was just up with a newborn for days on end. Three nights = sheer exhaustion. Plus it’s pricey. By the time you buy ‘camping  food’ {which is always more then regular food}, pay for the site, gas to travel and any other odds and ends. It ends up costing a pretty penny.

So before I sound like the most unappreciative person ever, let me tell you the things I do enjoy about camping: visiting with family and friends that I don’t get to see often, the laughing – so many stories and awesome humor, my children being filthy and happy plus the nonstop of being outside breathing the fresh air and just loving nature, watching my 10 year old cast nets into the ocean in hopes of catching crabs, my 7 year old sliding down the dunes over and over on a snow disc shrieking with laughter, walking on the beach or in the mountains depending on where we are, eating and drinking foods I don’t normally buy, playing games and just being with my family.

Are you a camper? Personally I’d rather have a house at the ocean and one in the mountains and make regular trips to both — I really like the amenities of home. The packing up to go camping as well as the massive clean up upon coming home is just a lot. Too much for this girl! But until I become a millionaire, it’s a trailer life for us! :)

Speaking of, I had better get back to sweeping up sand and laundry!! But before I do, let me leave you with a chilly day chili recipe that I made for our camping crew. Bon appetite!!

3 bean chili 1

3 Bean Chili with Bloody Mary Mix

Recipe adapted from Just a Pinch Recipes

Ingredients

FROM THE PANTRY
1 (15) oz can cannellini beans (drained)
1 (15) oz can dark kidney beans (do not drain)
1 (15) oz can pink beans (drained)
1 (14) oz can dice tomatoes (no salt added)
1 c marinara sauce
1/2 c spicy bloody mary mix
FRESH FROM THE GARDEN PANTRY
1/2 md red bell pepper (diced)
1/2 md yellow bell pepper (diced)
1/2 md orange bell pepper (diced
1/2 lg white onion (diced)
5 clove garlic (diced)
3 sm green chili peppers (sliced thin)
1/2 c fresh parsley (chopped)
SPICES FROM THE PANTRY
1/4 c chili seasoning
2 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp southwest seasoning mix (see note)
2 Tbsp corn masa flour (for thickening)
salt & pepper to taste

Directions

1 South-west seasoning note:

You can make your own south-west with any spices you may have in your pantry.
Example of some blends: (dried) Mexico chilies, Ancho chilies, paprika, coriander, garlic, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, black pepper and oregano. Put in a spice grinder and blend. Note: I just added all of the above but didn’t grind them together.

2 In a large pan or Dutch oven over medium – high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown ground turkey, then add onions, garlic and blend well. Then add diced tomatoes, marinara sauce and bloody mary mix, bring to a simmer (about 2 – 3 minutes).
3 Now add Cannellini , kidney and pink beans. Stir to combine, then add all your spices including the masa flour (used for thickening). Salt and pepper to taste, then add bell peppers and chili peppers. Stir and simmer for about 5 – 8 minutes . Then add chopped parsley cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
4 To serve, spoon chili into bowls and top with sharp cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream and garnish with fresh parsley. You can also serve with corn bread or your favorite tortilla chips.

Valentine’s Day Goodies

I have a serious sweet tooth and I am afraid my pants have proven that since Christmas. Yikes. So instead of eating my way through Valentine’s, I’m going to pass along my finds for YOU to make and eat. I know, so very sweet of me eh? ;) You’re welcome!

This deliciousness over at Glorious Treats has some sweet and salty which is a very dangerous combo!

Valentines-Snack-Mix

How about some corny Valentine’s sweetness? Shaken Together Life used a Mason jar to put together this treat.

corny little Valentine

 

I always love the M&M, pretzel and Kiss recipe but this one is different. What’s Cooking Love used Raspberry Kisses. Yum!

Chocolate Raspberry Pretzel Bites4

Iowa Girl Eats made these Brownie Mix Truffles. OMG!!!

BrownieMixTruffles_01_mini

 

Of course you need some pink milk to wash it all down. Lil Luna has a fun Valentine’s party going on including printables to pull it all together.

pink milk

 

Wishing you a Valentine’s Day full of sweet treats and zero calories.

 

Super Bowl Yummies

Super Bowl Sunday is right around the corner and for us Northern California folks, it’s a big one! I don’t watch much sports but I am a wee bit excited that the Niners made it. I love the energy that comes about when local teams make it to the play offs, etc. It’s a happy contagious kinda energy. Plus I enjoy the parties that bring people together and provide endless amounts of food and drink ;) I’m pretty simple like that!

That being said there will be a lot of Super Bowl parties. Whether you are hosting or heading to a party, here are a few appetizers that look too good to pass up.

Appetizer collage

1} Baked Fontina by Smells Like Home

2} Meatball Stuffed Biscuits by Recipe by Photo

3} Mini Mexican Pizzas by Dashing Dish

4} Baked Chicken Taquitos at Chef in Training

Of course I must share some sweet treats as well.

Desert collage

1} Loaded Cookie bars by Pip and Ebby

2} Peanut Butter Graham Cracker Balls at Baby Gizmo

3} Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites by Two Tiny Kitchens

4} Cookie Dough Millionaire Bars at Bake or Break

 

All of the above recipes came from my Foodie Love Board over at Pinterest {yes, I do pretty much rule my world through Pinterest these days. Don’t we all? ;)} I do however have a few favorite recipe sites that I visit quite often and I wanted to share those sites for you as reference. You know, just in case you ever feel like looking at amazing recipes and drooling all over your keyboard. Or meal planning, they are also good for that! I adore Picky Palate, Smitten Kitchen, Food Network, All Recipes and of course a constant source of inspiration for just about everything is Better Homes and Gardens.

Whatcha doing for Superbowl? Do you have any special treats that you make for this big sporting event?