Posted in cleaning, family, family traditions, food, happiness, memories

Holiday Traditions

Traditions are something that you give your family that will last long after you are gone. They are a gift you give your kids and they give their kids.

Traditions make your family unique.  It is what makes your family special and different from the neighbor.  Tradition gives us a feeling of belonging, a part of something exclusive.

woman preparing christmas table
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

As parents, it is our responsibility to pass on our core values and beliefs in a way that they will be as meaningful to them as they are to us.  There is no better way to instill your values into your children than through tradition.  Faith, patriotism, integrity, responsibility, work ethic, and compassion can all be taught through tradition in a way that it becomes a part of them and they will pass it down to their own children.

Traditions give security to children.  Something they look forward to year after year.  Your children will remember the traditions forever.  The gifts at the holidays and birthdays will be quickly forgotten.

Families need to be held together by that bond of memories and traditions.  Now more than ever we need to keep our traditions and give that gift of belonging and history to our children so that they never forget who they are!

It is important to involve your children in your traditions!  Take the time to explain why you are doing those things and where it came from.  Family history gives them pride in who they are and in their family.  It’s that sense of being part of something big and special. The most important thing about tradition is that it is done every year!!

Our traditions have changed slightly over the years.  When my husband and I were married, we combined and morphed our traditions together and add a few of our own.  It makes OUR family unique!

We have a lot of traditions in our family!  I will share a few of them with you.  It’s always inspiring to see what other families do and I am always looking for new ideas.  I would love to hear what you do!

We go to church on Easter morning every year.  We have lamb for dinner and always have communion as a family before dinner. Easter baskets for our kids always had a new swimsuit for the season!

easter

When our kids were young we went downtown to the local fireworks display for the 4th of July every year!  Over time the crowd got really bad and it just didn’t feel safe anymore. So now we have a huge BBQ at our house, play yard games and do our own fireworks in the street in front with our neighbors.  The May Family Annual 4th of July Party is awesome!

The planning, baking, and cooking for Thanksgiving with my girls is one of my favorites.  Before we pray over the Thanksgiving dinner, we each say what we are thankful for.  After dinner, we play games, watch football, and just hang out in comfy clothes until we are hungry again and then we have rolls with turkey and cream cheese and cranberry sauce, and more pie!  Mmmmmm!

dessert

The day after Thanksgiving/Black Friday is one of my favorite days of the year!  Not because of the shopping.  That is fun and all but our favorite part is going to our local annual lighting ceremony, parade and fireworks!  Rain, cold or snow has never stopped us from being there.  It is the most wonderful time of the year! After the fireworks we go home and have Cheeseburger Chowder for dinner. Yummy!

Putting up the Christmas Tree and decorating it has always been super special for all of us.  We all get involved!  We play Christmas music, have a fire in the fireplace, drink hot chocolate and have Clam Chowder for dinner.

Christmas Tree

When our kids were little they always got to open one present on Christmas Eve. My daughter has continued to do that with her daughter but changed it a bit.  She makes a Christmas Eve box for her to open.  She gets new Christmas jammies, slippers, a new movie to watch that evening among other things.  Such a fun thing to do!

On Christmas morning we open presents…like at the crack of dawn!  A lot of times my husband and oldest daughter have to work at 7am-7pm Christmas (they are law enforcement) and we want to have them there for presents so we just all get up really early!  Then we put on a huge brunch for all the extended family.  It is an open house style so that people can come and go as needed. It’s nice to get to see people without anyone feeling like they have to be there at a certain time or stay until the party is over.  It works out great!  Later in the evening, we have a nice family dinner.

We have always had a big New Years Eve party with lots of friends and family and champagne! They are so much fun!

party

Keep your family traditions alive! Give your children the memories and traditions that will continue to live on for generations.

Please enjoy my favorite pie crust recipe!  Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Holiday Recipes / Holiday Recipes

Perfect flaky pie crust everytime!

4 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 cup shortening
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 egg
1/2 cup water


Mix first 3 ingredients, add shortening. Cut in until crumbles. Beat water, vinegar and egg. Combine with flour, stirring until moistened. Do not over mix. Divide into 5 pieces. Chill. Makes about 5 single crust pies.

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Posted in cleaning, family, food

Overwhelmed

I have not been as consistent writing lately as I’d like.  There are a lot of thoughts in my head to write about but life seems to get in the way.  There are so many things that require my time and I start to feel like I don’t know which of the many things should be taking priority.  Do you ever feel like that?  When you truly do want to do the right thing, and none of the “things” are wrong or unimportant, in fact, they are all extremely important and you WANT to do them all,  but you can’t possibly do them all, and you can’t NOT do them all.

to do list

should write to my Dad, or even better send him an hour-long cassette tape of me rambling. He would like that. I know he won’t be here with us long.

I should organize a family event so everyone can see each other.

I should go to a friend’s birthday party.

I should help my mother clean her house and yard and do her laundry and have coffee with her.

I should read some books and take a few online courses to better myself and my passion.

I should sell things we no longer need to clean things out and produce a bit of money

I should spend time preparing crafts and activities for the kids.

We should go to a wedding shower and a wedding that is coming up.

We really should make time to go for dinner with friends.

I should exercise.

I should post quality content on my Facebook group.

I should work on the book I am writing

I should work on the household system I am putting together

I should dehydrate the box of apples sitting downstairs.

I should make salsa with those tomatillos.

I should post quality content on my blog!

I should organize my craft supplies so I know what I have to work with this fall.

I should spend time camping with my family, practicing what I preach!

Those are just some of the things that are flying around my brain, screaming for attention. Not to mention the day-to-day duties and chores that have to be done and mouths to feed.

Those are some of mine.  Yours are different, but we all have our “shoulds”.

For me, all those things taking up constant thought seem to create mental constipation!  It’s hard to decide which “should” I should be working on when I do have a minute. When I finally decide what to work on, I start on it and all the other things come flooding into my brain and yell at me that I should have chosen them instead!  All those thoughts and “shoulds” get all tangled up and I feel like I am not getting anything done very well. My thoughts feel all stuck in my head and nothing flows out.  It makes it hard to accomplish anything at all, much less all that needs to be done!

overwhelmed

Photo Credit: dorsetdivorcee

I can’t be the only one who feels this way at times, right?  Normally I am pretty good at prioritizing and list making.  I am not a “procrastinator” by nature.  Lately, everything feels critical but I feel stuck and frozen.

smileI am grateful for the routines I have in place.  During this time in my life of feeling a little “pulled six ways from Sunday”, it is so valuable to me to have a home where I can feel peace and order.  That has helped me to stay grounded and gives me security.  My routines are such habits that I don’t have to think about them.  I do those on autopilot.  My home has stayed clean and orderly which will help me to think clearly.

overwhelmed

Photo Credit: quotesgram

I can’t say I have figured out how to do all those things I talked about or even in which order.   I did feel compelled to write about it today though.

I am not complaining.  I am grateful to have family and friends, a business and a passion that require my time and attention!  It’s a good challenge to have!

If you are feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone. Life gets pretty crazy sometimes!  The best way to keep yourself on track, keep at least one foot on the ground, is by continuing to do your morning and evening routines.   If your house stays semi-clean and tidy it will go a long way to keeping you calm and help you through those times! It lets you focus on what needs to be taken care of.

Morning Routine:

*Make your bed when your feet hit the floor.

*Clean the bathroom before you leave it. Nothing major, just wipe the counter, sink and mirror and toilet seat.

*Empty the dishwasher and put any dishes in it.

*Take the trash out if necessary

*Get something out for dinner

Before Bedtime Routine:

*Start the dishwasher

*Tidy up the living room, put shoes away etc.

*Check the calendar and weather

* Pick out clothes for the morning

*Wash, moisturize and go to bed on time!

Those routines will keep your house in order when you feel your life isn’t!

peace

 

 

I have been craving these meatballs lately and when chicken breast was on sale at my local grocery store I knew I had to make them!

I love using my Kitchen Aid Mixer and when I get to use attachments it’s even better!  The meat grinder is so much fun and easy to use!

meatballs2

Of course, you can buy chicken already ground at the store, but I enjoy doing it and it is much cheaper.

meatballs7

I use an ice cream scoop to make my meatballs.  Makes it so much easier!

I found this recipe on Day Dream Kitchen.  It is absolutely fantastic! The bright flavor of lemon zest and the interest of the fennel seed (which just MAKES it and you don’t want to leave it out!) and the ooey gooey fresh mozzarella on top is just incredible.   I may have eaten one or two all by themselves!   I served mine over spaghetti noodles and a good marinara and garnished with fresh basil.  To die for!

Here is my version of Chicken Parmesan Meatballs.  Be sure to check out Day Dream Kitchen for this and all the other amazing recipes they have!

 

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs

 

 

Ingredients:

3 pounds ground chicken
1/2 large onion, chopped finely or ground with the meat
4 cloves garlic, minced or whole ground with the meat
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 lemon zest (zest from one lemon)
1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs, whisked
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 (24-ounce) can marinara sauce
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese cut into thin slices
fresh basil

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

If grinding your own chicken, cut the chicken into strips that will fit into your grinder. Roughly chop the onion to fit as well. Put chicken, onion, garlic cloves, fennel seeds, and lemon zest through the grinder.

Using your hands gently mix in the bread crumbs, parmesan, salt and pepper, eggs and olive oil.

If using chicken already ground, mix gently with your hands first 11 ingredients.

Form approximately 2-ounce meatballs, using either your hands or a 2″ scoop. Place on a foil or parchment covered baking sheet that has been sprayed with oil.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

Remove meatballs from oven and cover each with a slice of cheese. Return meatballs to oven just long enough to melt the cheese.

Heat sauce in a small saucepan. Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions.

Serve meatballs on top of noodles and sauce garnished with fresh basil and more parmesan if desired.

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Servings:
6Yield:
Serves:� 6-8

 

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Posted in camping, Coeur d' Alene River, family, food, memories, spiritual

Enjoy the Journey!

The sun was warm on our heads and cool fresh mountain air filled our lungs as the trees rushed by us.   The whine of the engines drowned out all thoughts of bills, schedules, and responsibilities.  This is nature therapy!

quad trail

We had a destination in mind when we set out that morning for a ride on the quads.  The day was perfect for a ride.  It is early in the season.  The river is high.  The runoff has created beautiful waterfalls.  It’s not yet too dusty.  But…..the Forest Service hasn’t been able to clear all the ATV trails and the roads yet.

We headed off in the direction of our destination.  We took time to make stops and take pictures of the beauty that surrounded us.

fun

At one point we came to a fork in the road.  We chose a road that seemed right and followed it.  After a while, we realized we had taken the wrong road.  We got out the map and determined we could still get where we were going on this road.  It was just going to be the scenic route! We decided to press on.  There seemed to be an awful lot of obstacles on this route. Snow, washed out areas and many downed trees across the road. Some we were able to move, others we could drive over or around.  A couple of places it was a bit sketchy getting around and over the trees being so close to the edge of the road and being so high on the mountain.

obstacles2

My middle daughter, Christi, is an amazing rider.  She really is. Granddaughter Brooklyn rides on the back like a champ! Sometimes she gets scared though.  Those obstructions and the way around them was a bit hairy and Brooklyn was NOT a fan.  We went around the first downed tree ahead of our girls and my husband looked back at Christi.  She looked at the tree and the cliff, then she looked at Brooklyn and looked at her Dad.  Brooklyn was already trying to get off the quad.  Christi got off and held her hand.  Chris walked back and drove her quad over the tree on the edge and to a safe place because that is what good Dads and Papas do!

After a few of those, we came to a giant tree across the road.  There was no getting around, over or under.  We were done.  We had to turn and go back.  No big deal, we weren’t on any time schedule.  We were enjoying the ride.  We got back to the place where we had made a wrong turn and chose the other road.   Pretty soon we came upon a truck stopped in the road.  As we began to maneuver around the truck we saw there was a man cutting a big downed tree across the road that we would not have been able to cross.  We waved at this nice man who was making it possible to continue our adventure.  He turned from his chainsaw to wave back and we realized it was an old friend! Now, what are the chances of running into someone you haven’t seen in several years, on the top of a mountain on a random forest service road?!  Slim, I tell ya! We stopped and chatted and helped him load his firewood, our obstacle, into his truck. We thanked him for clearing the road and exchanged hugs and handshakes and went on our way!

We did eventually reach our goal and had a picnic before heading back.  Lauren, my oldest, mentioned how even though we had many challenges along the way, it did make our trek more interesting.  More interesting, in fact, than our picnic. On our return trip, I had time to ponder that.

Our lives are so much like that expedition.  We are going along and think we know our way but sometimes make wrong choices.  We think we can power through and make our choices work anyway.  We reach scary places and God is always right there to help us if we ask.  He will gently tell us we are going the wrong way by one downed tree in our path after another.  Perhaps those snags are there so we can learn how to best get past them so we can teach someone else, or maybe it just makes a really great story! Sometimes, it takes a giant tree in the road to get us to turn around if we are headed in the wrong direction.   We might think “Why am I being prevented from reaching my goals?”, when in fact it is God’s hand directing our path.  He puts people in our lives to help us.  It may be a friend, or family or a stranger.  Sometimes those people don’t even know they are doing God’s work.

God has a plan for each of us.  The bumps in the road make life interesting.  Ask God for help when you are overwhelmed.  Look for His direction.  Be aware of the people in your life.  Enjoy this journey!

life

If you haven’t had Tacos while camping, well, you should!  Everything seems to taste way better in the woods anyway, but this weekend we had tacos in the great outdoors and  it was glorious!  I don’t know why I had never thought of it before.   I know that isn’t one of those things you think of as “camping food”, but really it is pretty easy to do with limited equipment.  Everything can be prepped ahead of time and if you are tent camping just leave out the lettuce.  Tomatoes don’t need to be refrigerated if you leave them whole.

I am not a huge “brand” person most the time, but right here I am going to be that lady.  McCormick Taco Seasoning all the way and either Cholula hot sauce (you know, the one with the little round wooden top) or Taco Bell’s Hot Sauce that, yes, they do sell in stores!!  S&W Organic Black Beans are amazing! Click on those links to order! You won’t regret it!  Those ingredients just make tacos for me!

Click here to get the program I use for all my recipes and menu planning!

Here is my taco meat recipe.  I hope you enjoy it no matter where you are!

Taco Meat

Serves: 6

 

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef
1 medium yellow onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 (15-ounce) can organic S&W Black Beans drained and rinsed
1 package McCormick
1 1/2 cup water
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Directions:

Saute ground beef, onion and garlic together. Drain fat from pan. Add black beans, taco seasoning, and water. Stir, bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning adding salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve in taco shells, flour tortilla, corn tortillas or lettuce wraps with lettuce, tomato, sliced olives, shredded cheese, sour cream and hot sauce.

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Posted in cleaning, family, food, organizing, planning, Tips and Tricks

Twenty reasons to keep your house clean

list

I love lists.  I love making lists, reading lists, marking off things on lists.  I make lists in my head all the time but they need to make it to paper or device quickly or I am sure to forget something.  I guess that is why I like them. They give me a sense of security and peace.

I thought I would give you a list today!  Just a fun list of twenty reasons to keep your house clean.

1,  A clean house is peaceful

2.  You can find things in a clean home.

3.  Your home is a reflection of you.

4.  You can truly relax in a clean house.

5.  You can think more clearly in a clean environment.  (Your brain has to process everything you see whether you realize it or not.  Like a program running in the background on your computer. It still takes up memory.)

6. A clean house is healthier, fewer bacteria and germs.

7.  A clean house attracts fewer insects and pests.

8.  You will always be prepared for company, or close to it.

9.  You don’t trip over things in the dark.

10.  If the house caught fire, you could easily get out or First Responders could easily get to you.

11.  If you get the stomach flu, at least the toilet is clean!

12.  You make better diet and exercise choices in an uncluttered space.

13.  People enjoy coming to your house.

14.  You enjoy friends coming to your home.

15.  You enjoy coming home to your house.

16.  Your kids like bringing their friends over.

17.  You can have “me time” guilt free.

18.  You are more apt to remember things.   Cluttered house=cluttered mind.  (See #5)

19.  You can be proud of your home.

20.  You and your family deserve it!

finn

I can’t resist sharing this little thing right here!  Seriously….how cute is he?!  He is our new little ball of fur and absolute adorable terror.  It is a good thing God made them so cute!  I mean, you can’t resist that adorable little face and his sweet little purr, until 3am and he is sticking his needle-sharp claws in your nose and wants to play!

Finn video.GIF

His name is Finn and we are in love!

I hope you all have an amazing Memorial Day Weekend!  Go out and make memories!

 

 

 Be sure to click here to get the awesome Cook’n program I use for all my recipes and menu planning!

Chicken Parmesan with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil

Serves:
4

 

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 (20-ounce) jar good marinara sauce
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
fresh basil leaves torn
1/2 pound angel hair pasta or penne

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix Italian bread crumbs with panko in a large dish.
Place a baking rack on a baking sheet and spray it with pan spray.
Slather each chicken breast with mayo and dredge in breadcrumbs and panko. Put breasts on the prepared baking rack.
Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or until internal temperature is 155*. Take out and let rest.
Warm the marinara.
Cook pasta according to package instructions and drain.
Top each chicken breast with fresh mozzarella. Turn oven to broil and return chicken to oven and watch carefully until cheese starts to melt.
To serve, place pasta on the plate pour sauce over. Place chicken breast on top and top with fresh basil.

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Chicken Breast Recipes / Chicken Breast Recipes

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in cleaning, family, planning

House cleaning vs. Housekeeping

This happened last weekend!!

IMG_0833

Saturday was my husband’s birthday and what better way to spend it than with friends and family riding in the snow in beautiful North Idaho.  It was a blast! We are beyond blessed that we can do this practically in our backyard.

The sun was bright, the air was clear and chilly but when we stopped for breaks it was comfortable in just a sweatshirt.  There was still plenty of snow to make it fun!  It was thrilling and our need for nature therapy has been met for now!

When we came home our house was clean and welcoming because we did our morning habits.  We changed into comfortable clothes, started a fire in the fireplace and grilled steak for dinner.  Hubby said it was one of the best birthdays he has ever had.  WIN!

Those little habits can make your weekend seem like a vacation! Isn’t that what a weekend is supposed to be?  It is a break from work.  A time to enjoy life, enjoy and spend time with family and friends.  A time for memory making and forming bonds.  I don’t want you to be a slave to your house and your laundry.  I guarantee that you can have a clean and relaxing house to come home to and be able to spend time on the weekends doing the things you love if you begin to establish small habits.

It is easy to make “house cleaning”  a HUGE deal in our minds. A massive undertaking. We have to have six hours, twenty different cleaners, the right frame of mind, no make-up, sweats and rubber gloves and do it all at once.  This drudgery is overwhelming and discouraging even before you start.  I prefer “housekeeping”.  Keeping your house clean rather than ruining every other Saturday scrubbing and having your house look crummy two days after all that effort and will until the next scouring session.

Housekeeping is a string of continuous small habits that are short, easy and almost unconscious.  Housekeeping frees you to have weekends that are vacations rather than days of backbreaking, unappreciated work.  It allows you to come home to your own bed and breakfast and feel peace and rest.

It is my passion to free mom’s and dad’s to spend more time with their kids making memories and husbands and wives to be able to do the fun things and even single people to be able enjoy life!  I want to free all of you from “housecleaning”.  I want everyone to able to enjoy a peaceful clean, organized and welcoming home and enjoying doing the things you love!

So, who is up for a challenge?!  For the next week do these simple habits every day and see what happens! I would love to hear from you!  Are you ready for a self-cleaning house?

  1. Make your bed every day
  2. Clean your bathroom every morning
  3. Empty the dishwasher and put out a clean dish towel and dish cloth
  4. Take out the trash
  5. Start a load of laundry and put away the clothes in the dryer
  6.  Be proud of your home!

Do your habits, make memories and enjoy your weekend!

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