Friday, December 20, 2013

Top Ten Holiday Breads

I really enjoy the holidays and I especially love the baking. One of my favorite things to do for the schools, teachers, and friends that  I give small gifts to. I really enjoy doing breads to celebrate the New Year, so generally that's when I hand these out.

If you love baking and love eating homemade breads, you will love these!!!

1. Apple Strudel Bread

2. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

3. Zucchini Bread

4. Chai Spiced Bread

5. Holiday Bread

6. Peanut Butter and Banana Bread

7. Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

8. Lemon Ginger Bread

9. Cranberry Orange Bread

10. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Burning Bridges

Since having kids, I have noticed that I don't let people take advantage of me. By this, I mean that when I get a strange feeling about someone or something, I tuck and run. I never use to be like this, and I really am not sure if this is a good thing. 

That is why I am here. Is it a good thing? 

Before, I was that person that wanted to be friends with everyone and even if they hurt me or took advantage of me I didn't care. I still was me. 

I am still me, but I don't let people take advantage of me. I also don't want to be surrounded by people that give me a negative vibe. I especially don't want my kids around people that do things that I disapprove of in raising them. 

Is it normal for mother's to become that overprotective person that starts being more choosy and can say no more often in order to protect their family? 

I feel like that is where I am in life, and I must admit that I question whether it is a good thing or not. 

I have always had a hard time making friends, but by choice. I'm the type to sit back and observe a person before I speak out and let myself be seen. I'm viewed as being shy (especially before I get to know someone). 

This is mostly because I'm very outspoken and upfront. Not in the sense of being confrontational or someone to start debates. I actually hate conflict. 

Someone may be my friend, but it doesn't mean I love everything about them. That's normal. Every individual has their flaws and no one is perfect, and that is exactly why we should embrace one another and appreciate the differences. That is what makes us diverse and flexible in life and our experiences.

But there are some things that I really don't want to be apart of. Things like lying, cheating, stealing, gossiping, etc. Some things rub me the wrong way and makes me wonder what these types of people do to me behind my back. Therefore, I "burn bridges" as Mr. Man calls it.

Of course this weekend, I came across someone I hadn't seen in months. I was super busy with both kids by myself. I wasn't trying to be rude or not acknowledge the person. I did what I could. I chatted with them; I definitely did not bypass them. But when I got home, I explained to my husband about what happened. I told him I felt bad about not being able to chat longer and be more personable with them, but the kids were going crazy and I needed to get out of there and get home. He understood. 

But he brought something to my attention that I definitely had never took into consideration... burning bridges and how it could affect us later. 

I never really thought about it like that. I don't have enemies, and i don't feel that I make enemies. If I do, then I don't know that they have such strong opinions about me. I always tell someone what I think about them if it ever comes up. Again, I avoid conflict unless it is presented to me. 

Here is the joy of the military world. 

I think that those of us involved in it can agree that it is a small world. We run into each other quiet frequently. Burning bridges can make bad futures. And that is what I am learning now in this stage of our military life. This is where the politics of the military comes into play. As my husband makes rank, I see how he is portrayed in many lights. How people know him and come to know him. How people view him. How people talk to him. A lot of it. As his wife, as a military spouse, I have to also uphold a standard. I can affect the way others view him. 

This is where.... I realize that I should not burn bridges. 

What does this tell me? I need to be fake. I should be fake in consideration of how my personality can reflect on my husband. 

Like I said, I don't make enemies. I don't have enemies. I forgive and forget. 

But I would be lying if I said that when people betray me, I don't walk away and never return. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Teacher Tuesday {12/17/2013}

The Frugal Homeschool Family blog recently put out a 17 page Christmas fun pack for young children. It is absolutely free, downloadable, and printable.

The 17-page pack includes cutting practice, writing prompts, coloring pages, writing practice, and more!

I absolutely LOVE this blog for fun learning for the young kids in my life! She also put out a 20 page coloring page printable! You can check it out here

Monday, December 16, 2013

Menu Plan Monday : {12/16-12/22}

This week of meals is probably the most comforting of meals that I have planned in a while.

1. Lima Beans and Sausage
2. Roasted Chicken (Crockpot)
3. Cabbage with Sausage
4. Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breast wrapped in bacon
5. Beef Stew
6. Coca Cola Chicken (Crockpot)
7. Tuna Noodle Casserole

This week I am also planning for the teacher's holiday gifts and food item stocking stuffers.

More on these later :)

Would you guys be interested in me sharing grocery hauls via video or photos? Let me know!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Questionnaire (Linky)

I decided to join the linky party by Fabulous in First. It's a simple questionnaire about Christmas traditions, and I love reading everyone's traditions so I thought I would share too.

1. Hot Chocolate or Eggnog?
To be honest, I have only had eggnog once. I don't remember much about it. I do remembering liking it, but I don't think I would ever choose it over hot chocolate. 

2. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa definitely wraps the presents. If it is a big or awkward shaped gift, even one that we want assembled before they open it (like a bike), we don't wrap and just tie ribbon or place a bow on it. 

3. Colored lights or white?
I really like both. They each have their own purpose. I prefer the white lights on a tree, but the colors love seeing the colored lights and watch them flashing... so does my husband. Therefore, colored lights win. Outside lights I prefer colored lights. 

4. When do you decorate?
Growing up, our tradition was the day after Thanksgiving. But since being married, we have started traveling every year for Thanksgiving because it is a 4 day weekend. Now, we decorate a week after Thanksgiving. 

5. Real or Fake tree?
We always have a real tree. The girls get their own fake tree to put up and decorate every year. Our wreaths are also always fake. 

6. Favorite Christmas memories or traditions?
Really, waking up to the magical thought and excitement of Christmas always makes a favorite memory. The girls now are here, and it is about them. I love seeing their faces light up and getting excited over what they see on Christmas morning. My favorite tradition is the night before Christmas. We open one gift. In that gift is stuff for the family as a whole. It always includes pajamas. But it also includes a game, a movie, a book, or a festive activity (like a hot cocoa set or s'mores set). 

7. Do you remember your favorite gift as a child?
The answer is no. I remember waking up and opening lots and lots of presents. I was always thankful for them. Then we would head over to my grandparents house and open even more, probably more than Santa even left. I was always happy with what I received. However, the one Christmas that sticks out the most was also my last Christmas in my mother's home. I was in high school, a senior. My Mom gave my sister and myself $1,500 each to go shopping with the day after Christmas. That was my sister and I's tradition that I always looked forward to. 

8. Do you prefer giving or receiving?
The season is about giving. I enjoy seeing people's reactions to the thought of someone else taking the time to buy or make them a gift. 

9. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I love Christmas music in general. I don't really think I have a favorite, but Jingle Bell Rock is one that I place great memories with. 

10. Candy Canes. Yuck or yum?
I really enjoy candy canes. Mostly the traditional ones, but occasionally I will eat another type. I really enjoy baking with them more than snacking on them.

11.  Favorite Christmas Movie?
Mr. Man and I's tradition was to watch A Christmas Story every Christmas Eve. This year A started watching it in October. She found it in the DVD case and hasn't stopped since. That is our family favorite movie. 

12. Do you shop online or at stores?
I mostly shop online for convenience reasons. I will browse some stores, but living overseas really makes it hard to find what I want in the local stores. I shop Amazon, Old Navy, Kohls, Walmart, Target mostly. 

13. Photo Cards, Letters, or Store Bought Cards?
I send out photo cards. I also love receiving photo cards as well. It is fun to see the family and their children - how they have grown over the year and so on. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Winter Nails 2013

Everyone is posting about their favorite winter beauty items, and I may get there one day. But today I thought I would show you my favorite winter nail polishes for this year! I have come across new brands and new colors that I never thought I would go for. Check them out!

I am so in love with this red color. It does kind of scream vampire, but I like to think more of pin up. 

This blue green is so pretty. It's dark, not bright. And not too green! 

Purples. I love purples. I'm into the shiny plums this year! 

This polish by Zoya reminds me of Winter Wonderland. 

How about I include some fun decorated nails. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

25 Days of Christmas: Counting down to Christmas

I really wish I would have wrote about this sooner, but this holiday season really snuck up on me. I did write about this last year, but I had felt that A was too young to do this type of activity so I didn't do it. But I knew this year I wanted to. Throughout the year, I collected stuff for it so I could just throw it together and get on the roll with it. It is such a simple concept and such a great idea for toddlers and preschoolers.

25 Days of Christmas full of fun activities. It is somewhat like an advent calendar but without candies and trinkets. The general idea is to fill a box or bucket with some envelops and fun little activities for the children to do throughout the month of December leading up to Christmas. This year I numbered the envelops and activities because I included basic things that I knew I needed to be prepared for and would want them on a weekend - like decorate the family tree.

First, I bought a red metal bucket. I wanted something fun and festive, but I also wanted it to be able to be used throughout the year.

Then I wrote all the activities that I wanted to do leading up to Christmas. Here is my list:

1. Decorate the family Christmas tree. We went out and bought our Christmas tree. We got it home and decorated it together while a Christmas movie was playing in the background.

2. Make a Christmas Ornament. This year I got some clear bulbs and we added some glue and glitter. We closed them tight and shook them up.

3. Make reindeer footprints. We used fingerpaints for this.

4. Build a snowman.

5. Learn a Christmas song. A and I sang Jingle Bells to E. We were all giggling by the time it was over.

6. Watch a new Christmas movie. I wrapped up a new Christmas movie for this one. The Polar Express.

7. Make a wreath.

8. Donate toys. This year we donated all in good condition toys and books to A's school because they have started a new second language program, which is English.

9. Play Christmas matching game. I printed this template and cut them out. I taped one set to a file folder and laminated the other set. A loves matching right now.

10. Bake cookies for the Airmen cookie drive. This year we baked 14.5 dozen in peanut butter, white chocolate macadamia, oatmeal, chocolate chip, and sugar. 

11.  Deliver baked goods to neighbors. Every year we bake for our 3 neighbors. We all deliver one afternoon. 

12. New Christmas book. This year a wrapped a Christmas book for A to open. It is the story of the gingerbread man. 

13. Drink hot cocoa. 

14. Color a Christmas picture. I just printed some color pages from the computer and let A pick one to color. 

15. Christmas sensory bottles. I have been making both girls some sensory bottles. I decided to wrap each of them one to open. E's is a green glitter shaking one and A's is an I Spy red one.

16. Build your own Christmas scene with stickers. 

17. Learn something new about Christmas.

18. Adopt angels/buy for the less fortunate.

19. Make candy cane reindeer. 

20. Create teacher gifts. (Chocolate Hazelnut Puppy Chow layered with red and green M&Ms in a glass jar with a ribbon tied around.)

21. Make reindeer magic dust for Christmas night.

22. Read a book about the Christmas story.

23. Bake Santa cookies.

24. Bake Jesus' Birthday cake.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teacher Tuesday: Week 3: Print, Color, Cut, and Build Snowman

December is such a fun month. One of my favorie things about the winter is building snowmen. One of my favorite websites to get things for A to do is Put them together and it's a match made in heaven.

It's easy! Just print the page from the website. Let your little one color each piece. Cut it out and piece it together to make a masterpiece!

Want to join in on the fun? Check out how here!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Menu Meal Pan - Dec 9 - Dec 15

This week's meal plan is going to be super boring. Mr. Man is working an exercise, so he is working swings and mids (aka night shift). I planned quick and easy meals, as well as crockpot meals. I definitely didn't want anything where I could get side tracked with the kids and it burn.... story of my life. :)

1. Chicken Noodle Soup
2. Beef Stroganoff
3. Chicken Tacos
4. Blackeyed Peas with Sausage
5. Baked Tilapia
6. Stewed Pork Chops over Rice
7. Tuna Noodle Casserole

My grocery trip was super quick this morning. I only  had to grab a few things to have with the meals, snacks for the girls between meal time, and the everyday milk/cheese/eggs.

My total spent was $58.

Interested in a recipe in the list? Comment below, and I will share it! :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holly Jolly Holiday Tag

Learn a little about me during this holiday season. Here's another tag, and I really enjoy reading and hearing other people's stories about their lives and memories. I also find that these are a great way to get to know a person behind any blog. So if you are reading this and you want to participate, I tag you. Be sure to let me know that you did this tag so I can go read your answers! 

1. Favorite Christmas Movie?
A Christmas Story. It has even become A's favorite movie in the last couple of weeks, and all by her choosing!

2. Are you on the Naughty list or the Nice list?
I would say that I am on the nice list. I'm sure I had my naughty moments, but who hasn't right?

3. Show us an embarrassing Christmas Card photo!
Growing up, we didn't do pictures in the cards. I couldn't tell you the last time my family took a family photo to put on a Christmas card. Mr. Man and I did start doing this for several years when we got married, but once the kids came along it became about them. We do have an old Christmas card where our last name was spent wrong by the company who had them printed. That's the most embarrassing that it gets.

4. Have you ever had a White Christmas?
Yes, I have had a few within the last few years. Last year it snowed the day before Christmas and on Christmas. I felt like it was so magical for A. She loves the snow!

5. Where do you usually spend your holiday?
We always spend the holidays at our own home. Since the first year we were married, we started our own traditions. The second year of our marriage when Mr. Man was on his first deployment, I did drive the several hours home to be with family so I wouldn't have to spend it alone.

6. Play or Sing your favorite Christmas Song!
I'm singing, can you hear me? haha :) You realy don't want to hear me sing... and I don't play a musical instrument. I wish I did, though.

7. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?
Growing up, we did. We went to my Dad's side of the family and we drew names and got gifts. But now that we have our own family, I have started our own tradition. Family Christmas pajamas every year, then I will put in either a game, some hot cocoa mugs, a movie, activity book, a  book about Christmas, or something of that sort. But it wil always be an activity that we can enjoy together. Whether it is watching a movie, playing a game, drinking hot cocoa, making smores, etc.

8. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
To be honest, I don't think so. Let me try... Rudolf, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Vixen, Dancer, Prancer... How many are there?

9. What holiday tradition are you looking forward to most this year?
This year I am looking forward to waking up Christmas morning and seeing the girls get excited to see all the wonderful gifts that we and their families have gathered for them. A is finally old enough to understand, and this will be the first year where she can actually open her own gifts. I think it will be great!

10. Is your Christmas tree real or fake?
Our family one is real. The ones in each of the girls' rooms are fake. Growing up, we always had real trees. I love the smell of them and I still get that magical excitement every morning when I wake up and smell it then see it.

11. Hands down, what's your all-time favorite holiday food and holiday sweet treat?
To be honest, I enjoy just about all of it. I miss having the seafood gumbo every Christmas Eve, but I love just about everything that comes with the holiday feasts.

12. Be Honest: do you like giving gifts or receiving gifts better?
I really enjoy giving. Mr. Man and I stopped getting each other gifts several years ago, but this year I felt like we needed to have a couple of things for us, too. Generally, we buy for everyone except ourselves. We always adopt other children and donate toys to charities. We have also adopted Seniors and pets.

13. Show us your tackiest Christmas attire (ex: Ugly Sweater)
I don't have anything tacky. I'm a pretty plain person.

14. What would be your dream place to visit for the holiday season?
Hands down, Walt Disney World!

15. Does your family have a special holiday recipe you like to help make?
No... A helps me make the baked goods for the Airmen Cookie Drive every year, but that's about it.

16. Are you a pro-present wrapper, or do you fail miserably?
I'm a failure. Definitely. Mr. Man is actually pretty good, but he doesn't have the little patience it takes, lol :)

17. Most memorable Holiday moment?
One of my favorite memories of this time of year was decorating our bunk beds with Christmas lights with my younger brother. It was just a special moment. We were really close for being 5 years apart. Even though I knew that Santa wasn't real, he still believed and I always wanted to make it magical for him.

18. What made you realize the truth about Santa?
I really don't know when I learned the truth about Santa. I don't know when or how. I couldn't even tell you how old I was. I just think it was something that came with age for me.

19. Do you make New Years Resolutions? Do you stick to them?
I have never made a New Years Resolution.

20. What makes the Holidays special for you?
Being with family, watching our girls get excited over all things Christmas, being able to do things with them and for them. Baking, decorating, picking out a Christmas tree, letting them pick out gifts for other kids, watching them help donate their old toys, sharing our memories and making new ones with them. It's all fun and enjoyable. It makes it all special to me because we are all we have since we live so far from home. 

Do you have any special traditions? Favorite memories? Maybe a tacky sweater? I WANT TO SEE AND HEAR ALL ABOUT IT! 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A's 3rd Birthday: Food

I have finally sat down and made a list of party food for the birthday party. I knew that I wanted to some labels made to match the theme (Buzz Lightyear), but I was having a hard time coming up with things that are suitable for a party.

This is what I have so far:
1. Slinky Dog's Lil Smokies - These will be the crockpot bbq smokies!

2. Mrs. Potato Head's Seasoned Taters - Tater Tot Casserole

3. Hamm's Ham Roll Ups - These will either be ham stuffed croissants or ham pinwheels.

4. Pizza Planet's Pizza Rolls - Pizza rolls, nothing fancy.

5. Jessie's Lassos - White Chocolate covered pretzels.

6. Rocket Fuel - Punch.

We will also have fruit with dip, vegetables with dip, and chips and dip.

I'm not having a cake made, but I'm letting A make and decorate cupcakes and marshmallows using Buzz's colors.

I will also have a space for the kids to make their own potato head cupcake.

Even though it is still a few months away, it is sneaking up so fast! I'm starting to get very excited about it!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Infants & Toddlers

I thought I would compile a ist of some of my favorite things to include in stocking stuffers. Since A is 2.5 years old and E is nearly 10 months, it will be focused around that age range. Obviously some may only be suitable for a toddler and others more appropriate for a younger child.

1. Movies
2. Chapstick
3. Fruit
4. PEZ with candies
5. Slipper socks
6. Doll clothes and cloth diapers
7. Crayon Roll up
8. Stickers
9. Temporary tattoos
10. Notebook and pen
11. Markers (window markers, color wonder markers, etc)
12. Knit hat
13. Play phone
14. Play MP3 Player
15. Hot Wheels Cars
16. Toothbrush
17. Train pieces
18. Bubbles
19. Flash Cards
20. Play-Doh
21. Chalk
22. Bubble Bath
23. Shaving Cream (for sensory play)
24. Toddler Silverware
25. Bows
26. Bath toys
27. Stamps
28. Mini bible or prayer book
29. Fruit snacks
30. Sunglasses
31. Board book
32. Teethers
33. Snack puffs
34. Hair brush
35. Mini Etch a Sketch
36. Big Girl Underwear
37. Barrel of Monkeys
38. CD of children or biblical songs
39. Curly straws
40. Fun bandaids
41. Small Rubber animals
42. Barbie
43. Card games (uno, old maid, go fishing, etc)
44. No spill cups
45. Felt puzzle
46. Reusable Snack Bags
47. Travel size games
48. Unpaper dolls
49. Small shoes or slippers
50. Dress up accessories (jewelry, makeup, etc)

I really try to limit their gifts on Christmas. I generally save the stockings for craft things or things that will give them hits to their bigger gifts. For example, the trains I will put in A's stocking because she is getting a wooden train track as well. Last year, I put the Hot Wheel cars in it because she got a road carpet. Of course, this year we are focusing on games and crafts, more educational things. I'll have some posts coming up of where I buy some of my items (since I support WAHM's). If you have any questions, please let me know.

What do you like to put in your children's stockings?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Teacher Tuesday: Week 2: Christmas Books with Activities

Now that we are in December, I thought it would be fun and festive to feature something great to do with the children throughout the month and working up to Christmas. One of my favorite things to do with our girls are crafts. This feature is of 24 Christmas books with a coordinating craft or activity. It was published back in 2008, but the books are great books and the activities are great for all ages. That is what I love about this one. Is that I could host a party of children ranging from 1 to 12 years old, and they would all have something fun to do that suits their level.

You should check it out! You can find it here: 24 Christmas books with activities

A list of the books:
Snowflake Bentley
Winter's Tale
Petunia's Christmas
The Trees of the Dancing Goats
Santa's Toy Shop
The Baker's Dozen
Santa's Snow Cats
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Night Tree
Santa Mouse
I Like Winter
Frosty The Snowman
Lights of Winter
The Gingerbread Man
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree
A Pussycat's Christmas
The Christmas Hat
The Polar Express
The Christmas Humbugs
Carl's Christmas
The Shortest Day
Ollie's Ski Trip
Buying Mittens
The Night Before Christmas

If you would like to be featured for Teacher Tuesday, you can read more information here! I will also continue to update the weeks so they will be easily accessible.