Saturday, November 29, 2014

Advent 2014: Week 1

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday with family! We are still enjoying leftovers, great shopping deals, and all this time we get to spend together. Now if only Notre Dame could pull it together...;-)

Our 'goal' for December is to really focus on the meaning of Christmas. Here is my Advent plan for this year: I have an Advent journal for myself to use from Blessed is She, and I'll do those readings in the morning. Then, I'll try to do 1 craft, 1 family activity, and 1 book/movie during the week with the kids. I've tried to do something every day, but it's too hard to schedule out...life happens, and I prefer going with the flow! ;-)  I'm sharing multiple ideas of what you could do in each category...I'm picking one and going from there! :)





Daily Verses for Reflection:

S:  Luke 1:26-28, 31
M:  Matthew 1:18
T:  Luke 1:46-55
W:  Matthew 1:20
R:  Matthew 1:21
F:  Matthew 1:22-23
S:  Luke 2:4


Family Activities:

Make a Christmas countdown chain with prayer intentions/daily verses.
Celebrate St. Nicholas Day on the 6th.
Make a 'good deeds manger' - place straw/yarn in manger for every good deed you do.



Craft Ideas: 


Make Advent wreath for kids to use.

http://www.sweetlittleonesblog.com/2015/11/family-advent-wreath-craft-for-kids.html

Or this one!


Mkaing Cinnamon Applesauce ornaments - easy and make everything smell delicious!

Make a cinnamon applesauce ornament (and prepare for the house to smell amazing!)


Below I have posted some affiliate links, which means that I may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase after clicking on those links. Please see the disclosure page for more info!


Kid Books/Movies: 
These are ones I'm borrowing from our library - if you have any favorites, let me know!







St. Nicholas movie  (We own this movie and love it!)



Like I said, these are just some ideas...pick and choose what works! We're fairly busy this week, so I'm not going too crazy. ;) Please share any fun traditions you have for Advent!

Happy first Sunday of Advent!

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You may also like:

Printable Advent Wreath Banner


http://www.sweetlittleonesblog.com/2014/12/diy-felt-nativity-scene.html
DIY Felt Nativity Scene for Kids


http://www.sweetlittleonesblog.com/2015/11/family-advent-wreath-craft-for-kids.html
Family Advent Wreath Craft



Today, I'm linking up with Cait, Katie, Annie, and Lisa for their Holiday Link Up,
and with these awesome parties :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Handprint and Leaf Turkey Craft for Kids

Handprint and Leaf Turkey Craft for Kids - www.sweetlittleonesblog.com

I especially love handprint crafts because...I'm sentimental. ;)  I want to remember how little my kids were years down the road!

So when I saw this cute little leaf turkey on Pinterest recently, we decided to make our own handprint version of it for Thanksgiving this week:

Materials needed:

White, brown, orange, red, and yellow paper (we didn't have brown paper, so we used a cereal box!)
Scissors
Glue
Leaves (fresh or pressed)
Black marker
Pencil

It's pretty easy from there!  Just glue down the leaves to a white piece of paper.  Then, trace and cut out your kid's handprint from the brown paper for the turkey's body.  Glue that on top of the leaves, and then glue on a beak and "gobbler" (according to the kiddos ;).  Then, use a black marker to make eyes for your turkey.  Easy.  And so cute!

Handprint and Leaf Turkey Craft for Kids - www.sweetlittleonesblog.com


We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving eating, watching football, and especially enjoying your time with family and friends!  Happy Thanksgiving!


Handprint and Leaf Turkey Craft for Kids - www.sweetlittleonesblog.com

               

I'm linking up with these awesome parties!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Last Minute Thanksgiving Day Ideas

For Thanksgiving, we head down to my parents' house and hang out with all of my siblings and their spouses/kids. We are a relaxed bunch - we eat the usual Thanksgiving food courtesy of my amazing mom and play games all afternoon. If you need any last minute Thanksgiving day ideas, here are my favorites from years' past!

Last year, I was a cranky first trimester pregnant lady...and I didn't get any pictures on Thanksgiving. I did make Abby a fun turkey snack, similar to the picture below, but think less perfect ;)

kixturkey
Source


Two years ago, I made Abby a cute little outfit and Josie a matching hair bow. If you have a glue gun and can cut ribbon, this is super easy to make.

It's crazy how little they look! Our girls are so grown up now!


If you need some last minute party game ideas - play Minute to Win It! They don't require a lot of planning and most of the supplies you can find around the house. I highly recommend Elephant March and Bite Me...they are hilarious to watch! :)

Find all the games here and here


John and I are in charge of bringing a snack and drink. This Pumpkin Pie Dip is delicious - and I'm not a huge pumpkin flavored type of person. We eat it with apple slices and cinnamon graham crackers.
Source


As for the drink, we make the same one every year. John got this recipe from his brother, and they call it Spiced Wine. There is no wine involved, so I'm not sure where that name comes from! You can leave out the alcohol if you want. It really tastes great either way! Here's the recipe:

Spiced Wine

2 jugs of cranberry juice (64 oz each)
2.5 cups apple juice
6 Tbsp sugar
2 whole cinnamon sticks (about 3 inches long)
1 tsp all spice
2 cups brandy (optional)


Place in a large stock pot and heat until warm. Or, you can place in a slow cooker and keep on low for several hours (this is the method we use).


Hope you all have a great weekend - stay warm! :)


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Sharing my Thoughts for Thursday with Natalie and Annie,
5 on Friday/Friday Faves along with DarciNatashaChristinaApril
KarliAmy, AndreaErika, and Narci

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Advent Preparations

Is it just me or is November flying by? I can't believe Thanksgiving is next week already, meaning Advent is not far behind. Last year, I tried to do SO much for Advent...basically trying to fulfill every Pinterest idea I'd ever seen. And guess what - I ended up falling behind, not focusing at all on the reason of Christmas, and felt overwhelmed. I promised myself I would not be doing that again!

So this year, I'm using an Advent devotional book and making an easy 'calendar'. Easy for me means a paper chain with prayer intentions for us to pray together as a family. :) I will try to post an Advent devotion every Sunday, so please join us for that! It will not be anything crazy - just a place to gather my thoughts and ideas for the upcoming week. I'm hoping by promising this it will force me to actually do it ... nothing like accountability to light a fire under yourself! ;)





The Advent book I have is from Blessed is She, a new site for devotions based off of the daily readings. I love having the readings and reflections sent straight to my inbox every day! I am really looking forward to using their Advent book this year. It is full of readings, room to journal, saints to inspire you, and questions to get your mind thinking. Have you used an Advent journal before - any other ones to recommend?

Another thing I want to do is focus more on giving and spreading joy to others. This past summer, we did a bunch of random acts of kindness, and that's what we'll be doing again this holiday season. We made a list of ideas here - any more ideas to share?

Here's to a blessed Advent season!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Freezer Meal Favorites

One Friday night each month, our group of girlfriends get together for 'Book Club'.  We don't always read books - we've done recipe swaps, craft days, movie nights...basically just time for us to be kid free and hang out. :) This past month, we did a Freezer Meal Swap. I'm really excited to try out their recipes and get back into making freezer meals. I think it'll come in handy with the busy holiday season ahead. Here are my favorite (tried and true) freezer meal recipes:

List of Favorite Freezer Meal Recipes - www.sweetlittleonesblog.com
I need to stock up on my meals...I'm currently running low!


Breakfast:
Cooked eggs freeze really great! I use Jess' recipe for quiche cups and they are so yummy!

My husband loves breakfast wraps. Ours consist of: scrambled eggs, ground sausage, hash browns, onion/pepper blend...place that goodness in a tortilla and individually wrap. A very simple grab and go breakfast! :)



Lunch:
I cook a lot of shredded chicken and ground beef and freeze them in 1 pound increments. Then if we want tacos or BBQ chicken for sandwiches/quesadillas, it's all ready to go!

List of Favorite Freezer Meal Recipes - www.sweetlittleonesblog.com


My husband eats lunch at work, so I whenever I make a casserole, I freeze individual size portions for him to grab. Those are in the blue Gladware containers in the picture above!


Snacks:
We freeze popcorn, pretzels, and Goldfish crackers. Sounds weird, but they don't really freeze. They more just taste chilled, which surprisingly is so good! :)


Dinner:
I love soups and chilis.  My favorite chili is the Taco Chili I shared last month. I also love making Natalie's Chicken and Dumplings. For that recipe, I put all the ingredients in a bag, and then when I want to make it, I throw the bag in the slow cooker. SO EASY...and super delicious :)

I really like this recipe for Chicken Fajitas. I prepare the filling (so don't place in tortilla yet) in an aluminum dish and wrap with foil. When you want to make it, defrost it the night before and it will be ready to cook for dinner.

List of Favorite Freezer Meal Recipes - www.sweetlittleonesblog.com
Source - doesn't that look delicious?!

We are big pasta fans, so I make Spasagna a lot. We'll eat it for dinner, and then I'll freeze all the leftovers. I love this recipe, and basically every other one from Brandy's site!


Dessert:
We don't eat a lot of sugary foods (or least try not to!), so if I make a cake or cup cakes, I usually end up freezing the leftovers. Just wrap them individually so you can grab a treat whenever you like! ;)



Do you make freezer meals? What are your favorite meals to make? Check out our Pinterest board for more recipes and ideas!



List of Favorite Freezer Meal Recipes - www.sweetlittleonesblog.com

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5 on Friday/Friday Faves along with DarciNatashaChristinaApril,  
JennieLauren ElizabethKarliAmyAndreaErika, and Narci

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Avocado Blueberry Muffins


My son is allergic to eggs, so I'm always looking for baking recipes that are egg-less.  When I saw these Vegan Blueberry Muffins from Averie Cooks, I just had to try them.  They looked too perfect!



Avocado Blueberry Muffins
(Modified from Averie Cooks' Vegan Blueberry Muffins)

Ingredients: 

1               Avocado (very ripe to over-ripe)
3/4 cup     Sugar
1/3 cup     Canola oil
1/3 cup     Sour cream
1/4 cup     Light brown sugar, packed
2 tsp.        Vanilla
3/4 tsp.     Nutmeg
3/4 tsp.     Cinnamon
Pinch        Salt (optional)
1 cup        Whole wheat pastry flour (or white all purpose flour)
1 Tbsp.     Baking powder
1-3/4 cup  Frozen blueberries
2 Tbsp.     Flour (to toss with berries)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 F.

2.  Remove the seed and skin from the avocado and discard.  Mash the flesh in a mixing bowl until mostly smooth.

3.  Next, add the sugar, oil, sour cream, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt (if desired).  Mix with a whisk until combined.

4.  Add flour and baking powder.  Stir with a spatula until just combined.  (My batter was fairly thick and very green at this point.)

5.  In a separate bowl, toss the frozen blueberries with the 2 Tbsp. of flour.  (Coating the blueberries in flour helps them to not sink to the bottom of the muffin.)

6.  Fold the blueberries and flour into the batter.

7.  Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 to 3/4 full.  This recipe should make 12-14 muffins.

8.  Bake at 400 F for 10 minutes.  Then, reduce heat to 350 F and bake for 13-17 minutes longer or until done.  Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

9.  Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then place on cooling racks.  Serve warm or cold.

10.  Store in an airtight container for 5 days (if you have any leftovers ;).  They can also be frozen for 3-4 months. 

Notes:  I use 100% whole wheat pastry flour as a substitution for white flour in all my recipes (because of my dietary restrictions).  Regular whole wheat flour is usually too dense as a 1:1 substitution.  But in my experience, 100% whole wheat pastry flour works perfectly 1:1.


It so nice to have a breakfast we can all eat.  And let me tell you, these avocado blueberry muffins went really fast.  Next time, I'll be making a double batch!


So do you have allergies to work around in your family?  What are your go-to recipes...or substitutions?  So far, I've only used 1/3 cup applesauce to replace 1 egg in baking recipes.  I'm curious what else works, so I'd love to hear yours!



I'm linking up here today!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Adoption, God, and Baby Moses



We're celebrating family today with the hands up smiley face for World Adoption Day!

We took our picture with someone very special to our family - Baby Moses.  The story of his adoption is one we have clung to as a family as we've gone through our adoption journeys.  It's brought peace and strength to us, and it has shown us the joy, pain, and unselfish love that surrounds adoption.  His story means so much to us and is definitely our favorite of the Old Testament!

But celebrating World Adoption Day doesn't just stop there for our family.  Today also reminds us that we are all adopted.  Adopted sons and daughters of God.  Adopted by our Father who loves us so much: 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.  In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.  ~Ephesians 1:3-6

What a comforting thought to know how much God loves each and every one of us!

We feel so blessed to have adoption impact so many aspects of our lives and loved getting to celebrate it today!  So how has adoption touched your family?

Have a great start to the new week!


               



November is National Adoption Month!
Check out the hashtag #WorldAdoptionDay for more beautiful adoption pictures!


Linking up with 
Thoughts for Thursday with Natalie and Annie,
Friday Faves along with Andrea,  
Week's End with Elizabeth
and Jenna and Jenna for Coffee Date
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