Sunday, November 30, 2014

Elf on the Shelf Ideas Link Up Week 2



December 1st is the day that our elf Cindy makes her big day debut. When does your elf make its debut? So today is going to be a very exciting day in our home. The kids are going  to be over the moon, they have been asking about Cindy for quite sometime. When they wake up I am excited to see how if one kid wakes the other up. Not only does Cindy do something fun on the 1st but she also puts our star on the tree. 

This past August we took the kids to see a Hot Air Balloon Festival in Boise. The kids loved it  so I knew I wanted to try to incorporate the idea of hot air balloons. With this being said this was exactly how I wanted wanted to start our Elf on the Shelf this year.  

To create the basket I used a plastic container from a package of seaweed snack then punctured 5 holes in the on two sides of the container then 2 wholes on the bottom for Cindy's legs to slide though.. At the store I picked up 12 balloons from the store and had them filled with helium. When I got home I strung the ribbons through the side of the plastic container. Once I got them all to the right height I tied them with a bow. 



Once that was all taken care of I then wrapped the top of my of my table with wrapping paper and put streamers up. With the streamers I made a tree shape by taping them from my light to the table. Next I filled up balloons to put inside of the streamers. 


 Added some fun kids crafts from the Dollar Tree.





I Used these cute snowman stickers for my windows and added fake snow around the room. 


Not sure about all of you but I really enjoy doing Elf on the Shelf. Some might find it to be a pain but I love the excitement it adds to our morning. If you do Elf on the Shelf what do you love about it? How excited to your kid or kiddos get about it?

Make sure to check out the Elf on the Shelf Ideas Week 1.



Monday, November 24, 2014

Elf on the Shelf #elfontheshelf


So let me start by saying YES, I am one of those moms hat goes all out with our Elf on the Shelf. Most people love the Elf or hate it. This time of year is when all your social media feeds start to fill-up with Elf sightings which could be super annoying for somebody who hates the Elf. I am sure people wonder whats the point of the ELf? Most people will say they do it to keep their kids better behaved and yes that is a nice option to have but really it doesn't keep my kids in line plus I really am not going to hold them accountable for it. So why do I do Elf on the Shelf? The answer is I do it because my kids love it. The excitement they have every morning to find Cindy (thats our elf's name) and to see what she has gotten into or brought them is pure bliss. Who doesn't like to see their kids so happy and over the moon about something when they wake up. I wouldn't mind if my morning would start like that. I love it and I will continue doing Elf on the Shelf until they could care less.  It does take time to do it but I really feel like its all worth it. I love the holidays, so doing The Elf on the Shelf tradition adds a little excitement to every day during this time of year. My kids enjoy it so much and it has really in grained in the brains that they look forward to it, not to mention they ask if they can invite Cindy to their birthday parties during the year.  Which I think is a crack up but it makes me happy that they love it. 

Every year before Thanksgiving I set aside some money to use towards our Elf funds. With this I go to Target to pick up stuff for Cindy to bring: pjs, games, legos, coloring books, play-dough, snacks, little toy, puzzles etc most of which are in the stocking stuffers areas. I even keep our Elf stuff in its own bin. I don't set up a calendar to go by because our days change around and I don't want to feel like I am stuck having to do one idea. There are some nights I lay down in bed only to jump up saying oh shoot I forgot about Cindy, but every time I manage to come up with something good. I normally try to take a mental note of what my kids were playing a lot with that day and then try to incorporate that in. I feel like when I do that they are the most excited. Do you do Elf on the Shelf in your home? What does your Elf do?


The first year we started doing Elf on the Shelf we needed a new star. So Cindy brought us our star and now she puts it on the tree every year. Although this was not how our Elf was introduced it has become a fun tradition for us. 

How did you introduce your Elf on the Shelf? Our Elf came with a knock at the door, the kids ran to the door to find a package. They opened the package to find a book, a movie and our Elf. We read the book and watched the movie, We then talked with the kiddios about the Elf and decided on a name. We then placed our elf Cindy on our mantle in her box so that she could get to work. 


Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and friends captured Cindy while she was bringing the kids a letter. Does your Elf bring a letter?  When normally have a letter from Cindy. It will say positive things that the kids are doing and then reminded them to listen and treat everyone nice. 


My kids love to color so it was only fitting to have Cindy bring them pictures. Each picture represents something that my kids were super into. 


Cindy helping save the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the evil bugs using a Cheerios rope. Use ribbon to make cheerio rope. Strung the  ribbon through the cheerios.


Cindy decorated our tree with candy canes. 


Weston turned 3! Cindy always brings him a gift with cupcakes. 

 

Cindy brought the kids new pjs. Using a little magic she slipped the new pjs on them when they were sleeping. 




Mr. Potato Head, Woody and cindy having a friendly game of war.  Used a cake stand for the table and Duplos for the chairs, mini m&m for snacks and cups from Target.

 Cindy left the kids a note in the kitchen to play hide'n'seek. The kids searched the house to find her.  


Christmas plates and snacks.  Plates and snacks from Target. 


With a little help from the Duplos Cindy got our train all setup. 



 


My kids Play-Doh is always running low about now. So Cindy brings them Play-Doh. I put out Christmas cookie cutters for the kids to use with the pay-doh.


Cindy getting artsy. 


About now your probably wondering if there are days that Cindy just switches places and takes a night off, and yes there are. 


Bring out the puzzles to stimulate those brains.  Puzzles are from Target in the dollar bins.


Everyones a little sick Cindy declared a movie day.  I made a bed and table out of Duplos, the movie snack kit is from Target its in the Christmas section(I just got one for this year).


Fishing in the tree. Fishing game from Target in the dollar bins. 


Cindy added cannons to the tree to shoot out the snowballs that Aunt Page sent. 



Mini donuts with the dinos. This is by far by kids favorite! All Cindy needed were some Cheerios, frosting and sprinkles. I cut one straw to make 3 smaller ones, the cups our lids to bottles and woke up before the kids to add milk into the cups.


A new toy for all.  The snowman was a gift from Aunt Page its super cute it plays music and spins around, I ran down to press the hand while the kids ran down the stairs. Legos were like $6 dollars and Doc stuff $1 at Target.


Cindy pulled out Christmas books to read and treats to eat on Christmas Eve.  The mini cookies came in a $1 container, white powder donuts, used their legos Cindy brought, the Christmas train lego was in the stocking stuffer bins at Target, chair was made out of Duplos and the Reindeer food was a gift from a friend. 

Hope you enjoy some of my Elf on the Shelf ideas, make sure to keep checking back for my weekly updates with Elf on the Shelf ideas and to see what out Cindy is up to. 



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sea Salt Caramel Topping


 Oh caramel, I just have a love for it. The taste and the texture never leaves me disappointed. I have also become a big fan of salted caramel. I love that mix of sweet and salty.

Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons salted butter, cut butter 6 pieces a tablespoon each
1/2-cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon of sea salt

Directions:
1. Use a medium saucepan to heat granulated sugar on medium heat. You will have to stir the sugar the whole time with a rubber spatula. 
2. The sugar will start clumping together, so make sure you keep stirring. Soon the sugar will start to change colors to an amber color. You will need to act fast so you don’t burn it. 
3. Once you have that amber color put your 6 tablespoons of butter in, make sure you are careful because the caramel will boil quickly once the butter is added. You will stir the butter in for about 2 minutes, until the butter is completely melted. 
4. Now add the heavy cream.  Make sure to do this super slow and again be careful because the caramel is going to boil quickly. 
5. Let the mixture boil for 1 minute, the mixture will rise in the pan a little. 
6. Removing your pan from the heat to add your sea salt. 
7. Let the caramel cool before using.

Caramel should stay good up to two weeks if covered tightly in the refrigerator.  I like to store mine in a mason jar.  



I love to drizzle the caramel on vanilla ice cream. I simply place the jar in the microwave for about 30 seconds to warm it up.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Operation Christmas Child


Last week I was at a Mom 2 Mom meeting when one of the moms brought up Operation Christmas child. The purpose of Operation Christmas Child is to use gift-filled shoeboxes to share God’s love in a tangible way with needy children around the world. Since 1993, Samaritan’s Purse has collected and delivered more than 113 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in over 150 countries through Operation Christmas Child. Shoebox gifts are collected in the United States, Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. More than 500,000 volunteers worldwide, with more than 100,000 of those in the United States, are involved in collecting, shipping, and distributing shoebox gifts.

When I heard about this I knew this was the prefect thing to do with my kids. I am always trying to remind them that we are very blessed, to be kind, and to help others out. I had specifically been talking to them a couple nights before about how there are children in this world that have nothing. I told them that we should go through their toys and find an organization that we could donate them too. They were a surprised when I told them there are families that can't afford food. The look on their little faces were so shocked and heartbroken. Once they heard that they started to really think about what they could give, they wanted to go through the toys right then. Plus is was almost bedtime so why not give all your toys away if you can stay up. Anyhow so when I heard about Operation Christmas Child, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to have my kids do this.  That night at dinner I explained it all to the kids, really trying to get them a good understanding of it. Hunter, being the oldest, really grasped it which was awesome. 


The next day I told Hunter we would be going to the store to get the items for our boxes. At first we thought we would just do 2 boxes but then changed to 3. We did 2 boys ages 5-9 and 1 girl ages 2-4. Hunter and I picked out the items to go in the box. I was going to take Weston back to pick some stuff but after being in the store for a good amount of time I didn't want to go back. Things we picked out were Legos, Cars, How to Train Your Dragon figurine, clothes, dinos, snakes, candy, tooth brush, tooth paste, coloring book, crayons, doll, My Little Pony, hair ties, necklaces and some other items. While we were at the store a lady saw us looking at shirts. She told Hunter she liked the shirt we were looking at and he replied we are here today at the store to buy other boys and girls things for Christmas because they can't afford it and we want to help, we are not buy anything for us. The lady looked at him and said thats so kind of you, we need to help each other out. It was really cute.  He was so proud of what we were doing it makes me want to cry thinking about it. That is one thing I really want to instill in my kids - thinking of others and always helping people where you can. I feel like its so important to do. Its important #makingsmiles in the smallest ways.  After the store we came home and packed our boxes up. Weston had a hard time because he really liked everything in the boxes but after talking with him a little more about it he did a great job and got more excited about it. I heard him this morning talking with Hunter about what toys they could give other children. This was such a happy moment for me, I love that they really are getting it.   


Here is a short video of my kids working on their boxes. 




Here is the process:

Individuals, families, churches, and groups fill empty shoeboxes with gifts of toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and notes of encouragement. During National Collection Week, Nov. 17-24, Samaritan’s Purse will collect the gift-filled shoeboxes at more than 4,000 drop-off sites in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Operation Christmas Child also offers the opportunity year-round to pack personalized shoebox gifts online. Go to samaritanspurse.org and click on Operation Christmas Child to select toys and gift items, write a note of encouragement, and “pack” them in a shoebox. Shoebox gifts are prepared for overseas shipment at nine major processing centers across the United States—Atlanta; Baltimore; Boone, N.C.; Charlotte; Dallas; Denver; Honolulu; Minneapolis; and Southern California. Samaritan’s Purse will deliver the gifts to children in more than 100 countries on six continents. Donors can find out the country where their gifts are delivered by creating shipping labels and using the donation form found at samaritanspurse.org Click on “Pack a Shoebox” / “Follow-Your-Box Label.”



There is still time fill a shoebox! 

What are some ways you give during the year? Do you do anything special around the holidays? Have  you started to teach you kid or kids about giving? 
Monday, November 10, 2014

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork


Don't you just love a good pulled pork recipe? I know I do. One thing I love about pulled pork is you can you use it for more than just sandwiches.  My personal favorite is pulled pork tacos. Cook your pulled pork, fry up corn tortillas in some oil, then top your pulled pork tacos with your favorite taco toppings. I love to top my pulled pork tacos with coleslaw,  fresh tomato and fire roasted HOT salsa. It is so yummy, the perfect combination of the sweet and spicy. It seriously leaves my mouth watering and no joke I eat about 5 of these tacos in one sitting. This recipe is so yummy but you must try it with tacos. If you have people coming for dinner and you want a dinner that is going to be amazing try it.  You won't be disappointed. 

Pulled Pork

Cook Time: 8-10 hours Prep Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients:


6 lb Pork Butt or Shoulder
1 3/4 cups Brown Sugar
2 cups Barbecue Sauce
 (I use a whole bottle)
2 cups Coca Cola
1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Black Pepper

1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 tsp.
Old Bay seasoning
1 Tbs. Garlic Powder


1/2 Ground Cloves
3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. Liquid Smoke

1 Tbs. Y
ellow Mustard

1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar 

Directions:



Spray your slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray, this will make cleanup easier.  If your pork  has a layer of fat on the top, cut most of that off. You want the seasonings and sauce to get to the meat. Then place the pork loin in your slow cooker.  Pour Coca Cola over the pork.


In a separate small bowl combined all your seasonings; salt, black pepper, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, and Old Bay seasoning and stir together.  Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the top of the pork.

Now pack 1 1/4 cup of brown sugar over the top of the pork and press it into the meat, creating a blanket of brown sugar. Pour the barbecue sauce over the brown sugar.

Combined  2 Tbs. of Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and liquid smoke in a separate bowl and pour over the top of the pork on the barbecue sauce.   Place lid on slow cooker, set on low and cook all night long (8-10 hrs. or 6 hrs on high)
  
Gently lift the meat out of the slow cooker and onto a cutting board or platter to shred. It will literally just fall apart at this point.   

Keep the juices in the slow cooker adding the other ½ cup brown sugar, 1 Tbs. yellow mustard, 1 Tbs. and Worcestershire sauce and stir. Then add the meat back to the slow cooker and mix lightly.  Set the slow cooker to low for about an hour and then you are ready to serve.

Have you made pulled pork before? If so what you you like to pair it with? Please come back and share your thoughts if you try the recipe.
Saturday, November 08, 2014

How do you like your coffee?



Some days we just need a little pep in our step.  Start your day off with a coffee on me. I uploaded my Starbucks gift card with love to help bring a smile to others faces this am. Bring your phone in and have them scan the bar code. Please leave a comment on my Facebook or blog and tell me how you like your coffee. How can you bring a smile to somebody's face today?


I'll update on Facebook when the funds go down to $20,  $10, $5 and the nothing. So make sure to watch Facebook. 
Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Kids Calling Home Sick From School

We have been dealing with one sick kid after another for almost 3 weeks now. Its been a rough time. We did get a break this weekend which was nice,  however, come Monday another kid was sick. Then, I get a call from my son's school saying he had a tummy ache, right after I arrived home from the doctors with my daughter.  Anyhow, I was a little hesitant being that he was the first one sick and has been better for a little while. The Nurse said that he thought my son was fine but my son said he felt like he was going to throw up. So I said I would come and get him. Upon arriving to the school he was big smiles. I sat with him and the nurse to talk to him about how he was feeling. After chatting with him he had come clean that he felt fine and lied. Then I had him go back to the class to tell the teacher he wasn't being honest with her and that he was sorry and really just wanted to go home. He was super shy about telling her - it was cute. By telling her I felt like he was having to own up to his lie even though we have all said a lie to get out of school. I wasn't mad more just had a hard time keeping a straight face. Have you had to deal with something like this? What was your approach?

Here is a video of us having fun talking about his day calling home sick from school.




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