November 24, 2014

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

The holidays are officially here! I love that Thanksgiving is the holiday that really kicks off the season. I'll tell you a few things I love about Thanksgiving: The food (obvious). Gathering with family around the dinner table for hours. No presents. Don't get me wrong--I love giving presents, and getting them isn't shabby either. But I love that the most preparation for this holiday is spent cooking, preparing your home and table, and that there are less distractions and stressors leading up to the special day. 

Pondering on and expressing what we're thankful for is just so good for the soul. I haven't always felt this way about Thanksgiving--as a kid I might have thought it was kind of boring. But now I think it's pretty great. There's a scripture I like from here that says this: "And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious . . ." and I really believe it. Gratitude turns what we have into enough. It doesn't necessarily change what we have here and now, but it sure changes us. I have definitely felt that this year. 

One of the blessings I am most grateful for this year and always is my wonderful family. We welcomed a sweet baby girl into our family just days ago. With each new addition I'm amazed at how my capacity to love all my existing family members grows. Family is truly a life-changing blessing. I made this little printable a while back, and I wanted to share it with you. It would make a great gift for the holidays. This is what I believe about families. If you want to read it, but have a hard time seeing the print on the screen, check it out here.

Click here to download and print a 5x7 copy.

November 19, 2014

Tips for Cooking With Kids (With Photos by Leslie Leavitt Photography)

I've said it many times before: My boys love to eat. We've been lucky that they're adventurous eaters--they like healthy food, and they like to try a variety of foods. And of course, like all kids, they love them a good treat. I think most of this was just something they were born with, but it probably hasn't hurt that we've involved them a lot in the kitchen, too. 

It's not always the easiest way or the cleanest way to get food served, but I think it's been documented somewhere pretty legitimate that when kids help prepare the food, they're more enthusiastic about eating it. Plus, it's a great activity we can all do together.

My sister, Leslie Leavitt Photography has contributed these adorable photos of her and my nephew, and it makes me miss them tons! Hope you enjoy them, and a few of my tips for cooking with kids.

1. This is definitely first and foremost (and the reminder I need most): Relinquish control and accept that a BIG mess is the price for this experience. And that's okay. Deep breaths in and out.

2. Give your kids a sense of ownership. Let them feel special with their own special cooking utensils, or their very own apron. Even if my kids don't actually have a lot of hands-on time, they feel pretty important if they've put on their apron, stood up on their stools, and touched a couple things.

3. Go through each step in your head before you do it, and if it's something the kids can do, let them. This includes the most basic of things like grabbing ingredients from the pantry, returning something to the fridge, etc. While they're doing those tasks, hurry through another task that might be too difficult for them. Doing this saves some drama, and standing around time.

4. Let them crack eggs. Get a separate bowl, pull out all the shells that make their way in, and be prepared for an immediate hand-washing, but if you let them crack the eggs, they will pretty much be satisfied. It's a fact. 

5. Lastly, give them credit and praise them for a job well done. My boys love it when mom and dad tell them how tasty "their" pizza/cookies/dinner turned out.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Enjoy some fun in the kitchen this holiday season with your loved ones!!

November 17, 2014

November Library Picks

A HUGE thanks to everyone who entered the "Kids In the Kitchen Giveaway" last week! The night it ended we welcomed a new baby girl into our family, and life has been a whirlwind ever since! I'll probably be taking a little step back this week as I try to catch up on sleep, and make the transition into life with three little ones, but I have a few really fun things for next week! Thanks for being patient, and stay tuned!

In the mean time, this month's book reviews go along with last week's giveaway theme. Even though it's still only November, you might want to start checking your local library's Christmas book collection before they start to get all picked over. We chose a few kids Christmas cook books on our last trip to the library, and I can't wait to get into them.

A Christmas Cook Book: Simple Recipes for Kids by Sarah L. Schuette and
Christmas Sweets and Treats by Ruth Owen
were the two that we chose from our shelves. I liked these two because they had great photos for the kids to look at, and their recipes were truly ones the kids could help with. If your child reads already, these are recipes they can actually read and follow.

Lastly, don't forget to look for Yum Food and Fun for Kids Magazine at your local library. This magazine includes lots of fun and easy recipes in every issue. Checking out magazines has been my favorite lately. 

November 10, 2014

Kids In The Kitchen Giveaway!!

We're starting the week out right around here! I had a fabulous weekend with my sweet little family, I'm days away from delivering my brand new baby girl, the holidays are right around the corner, AND I recently received my holiday issue of Yum Food & Fun for Kids. Life is good. My son and I are pictured in the magazine (yikes!) along with a feature I submitted--A Week of Meals, just in time for the busy holiday season. It was kind of pretty exciting for me, and so as always, I wanted to share my excitement with you! And what better way to share than with a fun giveaway! Read on for the details, and you'll find the entry form all the way at the bottom of the post.

What You'll Receive:

Along with a copy of this fab magazine, you'll get an awesome assortment of holiday baking supplies from my favorite online shop ever--Bake It Pretty. We're talking a full supply of holiday cupcake liners, 3 cute holiday cookie cutters, and some seriously adorable treat sacks to wrap up all the goodies you bake with your kiddos this season. In addition to the magazine and baking supplies, you'll also receive a child's sized apron (best fits kids ages 2-4) made by yours truly! This will make a great gift for a special little one on your list this season, no doubt. 

If you haven't checked out Yum Food & Fun For Kids before, this magazine is full of great recipe and party ideas that are all kid approved, and that they can actually help with. The ideas are festive and aim to simplify things for parents. We are all so busy, and no time more than around the holidays, right? You'll love it.

The holiday season really is about spending time together, traditions, and making memories. I feel so grateful for the chance to share what I enjoy doing with my family with all of you on my blog, and I thought this would be one simple way to show you my appreciation for following along. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I wish I could send each of you a gift of holiday goodies, but be sure to enter below for your chance to win the loot!

November 6, 2014

Advent Calendar Activities (aka a Christmas Bucket List)

Hi Everyone! If you missed my post about how to put together this sweet Standing Frame Advent Calendar, go to my previous post and get all the details. Today, I wanted to share a few of my ideas of "bucket list items" or things to do as your kids flip over a card each day on their calendar.


I designed my calendar pages with the idea in mind that I wanted my kids to pull out a little card, tag, or cutout where the "Christmas Activity of the Day" would be written. That way we can change that from year to year. Also, I think it makes the calendar more interactive and fun for the kids. Look at this cute little Santa cutout that came as part of the My Mind's Eye, Sleigh Bells Ring line. Isn't he cute?? When there are "22 days left until Christmas" my kids will flip to this page, pull out the Santa from the little pocket, and read the activity for the day: Write letters to Santa.

On other days, your activities could include things like the following:

-Bake sugar cookies and deliver to a neighbor
-Drive around looking at Christmas lights
-Invent a new flavor of hot chocolate
-Wrap presents
-Watch the Polar Express (this would be really cute written on a ticket that day)
-Leave a small Christmas present for the mail man or garbage man
-Cut paper snowflakes
-Build a snowman
-Donate old toys
-Decorate the Christmas tree
-Make a new ornament
-Sing Christmas carols to a widow or lonely friend
-Read a Christmas book together
-Watch a favorite Christmas special on TV
-Read the Christmas story from the scriptures

I'm sure you can think of many other festive and meaningful ways to celebrate the season. How do you count down the days till Christmas?? I'd love to hear your ideas!

November 5, 2014

Standing Frame Advent Calendar

I know November has barely just arrived, but you're probably already starting to brainstorm Christmas ideas, right?? If one of the items on your to-do list is a new, fun, easy advent calendar, then today's project is especially for you! If you want to incorporate an awesome new diy advent calendar this year, now is the time to start getting it ready. Isn't this one using the IKEA Tolsby Frame so much fun? Before you give me too much credit, I saw the idea on Pinterest and fell in love. The original is from here, and it is just lovely! I thought I'd share my take using all the fun papers and accessories from the My Mind's Eye Christmas line, Sleigh Bells Ring. This stuff is so adorable. I loved having all the coordinating tags, stickers, tape, and more to embellish each of my advent "pages."

To make this calendar, you'll need 24 cards that fit within this (did I mention, 99 cent!) frame. You'll hole punch them at the top, and attach them all with a metal ring at the top of the frame. These "binder rings" can be found at office supply stores. How you decorate and embellish your 24 cards is up to you! You could do full on scrap pages, or keep things really simple just using different papers in Christmas colors.

The concept behind my calendar is to have some activity or "Christmas Bucket List" item to complete each day of the month leading up to the big day. I'll share some of my ideas with you later this week. To make the calendar reusable, and changeable from year to year, I'm writing up most of the activities on little cards or tags that can be pulled out of pockets, envelopes, and frames glued on to each of the cards. I think this makes it more fun for the kids, too.

Have I mentioned how AMAZING this Christmas line is from My Mind's Eye?? I can't wait to decorate more with it. They have an adorable set of 8x10 prints that coordinate with my calendar, so I put one of them on a clipboard to display along with it. And isn't my gold-sprayed clip on the clipboard looking cute? Thanks for noticing. 

Check back here later this week for some of the activity ideas to complete this simple and fun calendar!

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