11.28.2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas....

Around the blogosphere, that is. Here is a quick little round up of some Christmas goodness from excellent blogs. :)








And if you have a blog, comment with links to your Christmas-y posts! Christmas is my favorite time of year and I can't get enough of it!

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11.26.2012

Thanksgiving In Review

Thanksgiving this year was just lovely. :) Justin and I drove down to Newport to visit my parents for the latter half of the week. On the day of Thanksgiving, my grandparents also came as well as some family friends and we just had lots of food and lots of fun. There was some exciting Trivial Pursuit action (which the girls dominated), adorable little girl phrases (from the 3-year-old of the family friends), more pie than should be allowed in one place, and a bacon covered turkey, of course. See all of this fun for yourself!





















From my family to yours, Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving!



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11.25.2012

Sponsor Swap for December!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! My little photo review should be up tomorrow morning. :) But right now, I want to put out a quick sponsor swap call for the month of December! I have been pretty bad about jumping on this in the past few months, but I really want to promote as many people as possible this month! So, if you are at all interested, please check out my Sponsor page for more information! 

Swaps are free, so there is no reason not to do it! :)




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11.22.2012

Happy Thanksgiving!


Hope you are able to spend time with family, friends, and everything/everyone else that you are blessed to have in your life!

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11.20.2012

5 Movies That Instill Thankfulness

I was so hoping to do some more Thanksgiving themed posts. In fact, I had a DIY planned for last week, but I never made it to the store to get what I needed. And then this weekend, my husband's parents showed up for a short-notice visit. It was so great to see them and family definitely comes before blog. But I did miss out on a few timely posts. Oh well. Moving on. :)


Anyway, Justin and I love watching movies. Our entertainment budget is not huge, so we spend a lot of time on Netflix and watching DVDs we already own. When thinking about what to post for Thanksgiving, I thought about movies I love that remind us to be grateful for what we have. So here is a short list of movies that you may not think about watching this time of year but are great for encouraging the simple act of thankfulness.


What it makes me thankful for: The fact that even though I'm not a millionaire, I'm honestly not missing out on life. This movie reminds me that the simple joys of family life can be greater than all of the successes in the world. Due to both my own and my husband's career choices, we will probably never have disposable money, but we have what we need: love. 


What it makes me thankful for: The fact that, really, my life is pretty good. The conclusion that I come to is similar to that of The Family Man, in that I am so blessed to have what I need. I have a roof over my head to keep me dry from the nasty rain in Oregon, I have enough food, I have a job, and I have an awesomely supportive husband and family. 


What it makes me thankful for: This one may be a little obvious, but this movie always makes me thankful for the freedom we have in this country. Our freedom came (and still comes) at a high cost and I can't even imagine living in a country where I couldn't express my opinions and worship my God. 


What it makes me thankful for: My personal freedom. If you don't know the premise of this movie, then this may not make sense (so go watch it!). But after viewing this movie, I am always grateful for the fact that when I screw up, the whole world (or usually even very many people) don't see it. I also have the freedom to choose who my friends are, where I work, where I travel, who I marry, and so many other decisions that we simply take for granted. Yes, the movie is a bit far-fetched, but it can easily remind you of the blessings of simply getting to make your own decisions.  


What it makes me thankful for: Music. Plain and simple. And the power that music can have in our lives. When I am challenged to think a bit "outside the box" in regards to things I am thankful for, music is always the first thing that comes to mind. If I could have any specific talent other than what I already have, it would be to sing because I love music so much. Since my talents lie elsewhere, I am currently just an avid listener and fan. But nothing gets my emotions going like a good song. 


Do you have any movies that make you grateful for something? If so, I would love to hear! The great thing about these movies is that thankfulness is not limited to this time of year. So whenever you need a little reminder of where your priorities should lie, I recommend popping one of these in the DVD player. :)

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11.14.2012

Sick Day Remedy

Is it just me, or is remedy one of the coolest words? I have no idea why. Maybe it's because Jason Mraz wrote a song with the word. Even though I'm not his biggest fans, he just kind of makes things cool. Anyway, this post isn't really about a remedy. I just wanted to use that word. :) 

Last Friday was my first real day of work as a substitute preschool teacher! But that night, my throat started to feel a little dry. Then Saturday it hurt, but I didn't think much of it, blaming it on all of the talking I had done the day before. But Sunday afternoon, it hit me and I was pretty much out of commission for the next few days. I felt good enough yesterday to do some grocery shopping, but I got really dehydrated and was about ready to pass out when I got home. Luckily, today it is just a small cough. But due to all of that, I haven't had a chance to blog in a few days. Instead, I've been doing a lot of this:


And A LOT of sleeping. I have slept so much in the last few days. And I won't lie, I have really enjoyed the excuse to do so. Being sick sucks, but at least I have been able to take care of myself! Good stuff coming up, by the way, so stay tuned!


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11.09.2012

Budget vs. Splurge: Fall Coats

This was supposed to go up yesterday, but on Wednesday, I actually worked! For real money! I have been unemployed basically since we moved back to Oregon, but I recently finally found a job working as a substitute teacher at a preschool/child development center! Due to the nature of this job, there might be days where I have to work unexpectedly and won't have time to get a post ready for the next day. I am hoping that I will still be able to keep up with my schedule, but if there are weeks that are a bit more sporadic, I apologize in advance. :)

Anyway, onto today's post. It's pretty self-explanatory, so I won't say much. Only that, to me, "budget" coats are under $100, and preferably closer to the $50 mark. Splurge coats (which I will never buy out of principle) are hundreds of dollars. There are great coats in between these prices too, but that isn't what this post is about. 

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 


1 / 2 / 3 / 4


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11.06.2012

Recipe: Earl Grey Tea Muffins

Sorry this post is going up so late. When I started making these yesterday, I forgot about Daylight Savings and how, at 5:30, it would be pitch black outside. So I didn't have enough natural light to get a good photo of the finished product. :)

I discovered this recipe on Pinterest quite awhile ago and have made them once. I decided it was time to try it again since I am always in the need for a healthier snack. I played around with the recipe just a little and this is what I came up with! They may not be the prettiest food in the world, but they sure taste delicious!



Earl Grey Tea Muffins
Makes 12 Muffins
Adapted from Just Bento

Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp granulated sugar or sugar substitute (or 2 Tbsp of each, like I did!)
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp vegetable oil or light olive oil
1 1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1 1/3 cup regular milk plus 1 Tbsp of white vinegar)
1 tea bag Earl Grey Tea 


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin. 

2. Combine first three ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and sift together using a whisk or sifter. (I was planning on using Truvia for all 4 Tbsp of the sugar, but when I realized how much that was, I decided to stop at 2 Tbsp and use regular sugar for the rest. So it cut out some calories, but it does leave a "fake sugar" aftertaste.)

3. Next, mix together the wet ingredients (the next four) until well blended.

4. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones using a spatula or wooden spoon. Don't overmix! It will look a little chunky when finished.


5. Open tea bag and add tea leaves to entire mixture. 


6. Spoon into the muffin tin evenly. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. 



The original recipe says that the tops will be browned and will puff up, but since I substituted some of the white flour for whole wheat, these don't go a whole lot above the tin. They will be done when a toothpick comes out clean. These feel and taste a little spongy, but they are still really good! Especially with a nice cup of tea. :)


Enjoy! Let me know if you try these and if you changed the recipe at all or tried the original recipe

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11.05.2012

Election Musings

I've decided that it is a really good thing that the election falls in the same month as Thanksgiving. Because we are sure going to need a reality slap after Tuesday!

Now, I'm not anti-politics at all. While I'm not as interested or as passionate as others, I do my research and vote accordingly. I have my own opinions and, for the most part, can back them up with facts. And I'm all for an educated and civil discussion between people who disagree. 

What I'm NOT for, however, is people on any side brutally tearing down the other. I don't thing any party is innocent in this case. Having social media friends/followers on both extreme sides of the spectrum, I've seen my fair share of mudslinging this election season, and it hasn't just been on television. 

While it does matter who we elect, it doesn't matter that much. Our government was created with checks and balances to prevent one person from holding ultimate power. So even if we elect a person who secretly longs to be a dictator, it probably won't happen. Our country most likely isn't going to be destroyed in 4 years, so don't destroy relationships because of it. 

America has a tendency to lose perspective during an election season. Many people decide that the government should revolve around them and their needs alone and they start getting greedy. They take our country for granted. 

Obviously, America is not without mistakes and corruption. We are still human, after all. But when I look at the "systems" in other countries, I start to realize how good we have it. When I was in high school, I had to do a project for World History in which I researched the recent history of Thailand. I only had to look into the previous 7 years, and the amount of governmental coups that took place astounded me. If nothing else, that project made me grateful for the stability of our government. While we may worry about a certain law getting passed or overturned, most people don't worry about our government being overthrown. 

We should also just be grateful for the chance to vote. While most people will complain no matter who gets elected as President, we at least have the opportunity to make our voice heard. Not many other nations can say the same. Once again, our selfishness rises as we demand that our opinions be the only ones heard. Even though it is our right as Americans to vote, it is much more than that. It is a privilege. If our government did get overthrown, we probably wouldn't have that right anymore and our complaints would be of a very different nature.

Ultimately, what I'm trying to say is that no matter what the outcome of the election, whether in "your favor" or not, just take it in stride. Our country has survived a few hundred years with many different men at the helm and we are still a stable society. Yes, fight for what you believe is right, but don't tear others down in the process. Be understanding, but stand your ground. And simply be thankful for the opportunities we have as Americans. Because really, we have it pretty good. 

And to lighten the mood a little bit, how about some cupcakes? Because everyone loves cupcakes. :)

Source: Martha Stewart

Election Day Cupcakes
Taken from Martha Stewart

Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, preferably European-style, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • Vanilla Frosting
  • 1 (24-ounce) package fondant
  • Red or blue paste food coloring
  • Silver edible glitter
  • Red, white, and blue nonpareils

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, add milk and vanilla extract; stir to combine and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low, add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk mixture; beat until just combined. Add cocoa powder and beat until just combined.
  4. Fill each muffin cup two-thirds full with batter. Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool in pans for two minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a large 5/8-inch round tip (such as Ateco No. 808). Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, press your thumb into the center of the fondant to make a well. Place a small amount of food coloring (red for Republican, blue for Democrat) in the well and knead fondant until color is well blended. Continue to add more food coloring to fondant until desired color is achieved. Roll out into a 1/16-inch-thick sheet.
  7. To make Republican elephants, cut out 12 elephant shapes using 2-inch elephant cutters. Sprinkle with edible glitter. To make Democrat donkeys, cut out 12 bear shapes using a 2-inch bear cutter. Using a 2-inch daisy cutter, cut out enough daisy shapes so that you have 36 petals; sprinkle bear shaped and daisy petal fondant with edible glitter. Top each cupcake with a fondant elephant or bear, using two daisy petals to make donkey ears on each bear and one petal to make the tail. Sprinkle cupcakes with nonpareils and serve.
What are some ways that you keep the election and political talk civil and productive? I'm really liking the cupcake idea. Haha. Just keep adding more food the more heated the discussion. :)

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11.03.2012

Halloween In Review

I was actually originally planning on posting my Blog Planner on the day of my blogiversary (October 30), but those few days were just pure craziness for me and I never got around to it! My husband put on his first big event at our church, a family-oriented Harvest Party, so our lives were pretty busy with prep and participating in the actual event. We had a great turn out and still have a ridiculous amount of candy leftover (on which I have been needlessly snacking). We weren't able to get photos of ourselves during the actual event, but while we were cleaning up, I made sure that we got a few of us in our costumes. 




Want to know something pathetic? I was in charge of the ring toss game that night, so I spent almost two hours picking up the rings and handing them to the next person in line. Due to all of the crouching action that night, I was barely able to walk the next few days! Needless to say, I am not in shape. 

I hope your Halloweens were filled with fun, friends, food and other appropriate f-words. :)


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