Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine Goodies for the Hubby!

I don't know about you, but my hubby loves sweets and goodies.

We have been trying to cut our costs recently on things but with Valentine's Day here, I wanted to do something I knew he would love for super cheap.  I came up with an idea for homemade chocolates and goodies.  I involved some of the ladies from my church in order to add some variety and fun to the mix.  I don't have all the recipes, but I wanted to share the idea!

Popcorn Mix

2 cups Rice Chex Cereal
2 cups pretzels
1 bag popped WHITE popcorn
1 bag of white candy melts
Valentine Sprinkles
Valentine M&M's

Combine pretzels, cerel and popcorn in large bowl.  Don't dump the bag of popcorn in all at once or you will have unpopped kernels in your mix.  Melt your candy melts and pour over the combination.  Stir until well coated and immediately spread out onto a foil lined baking sheet.  Right away sprinkle with M&M's and sprinkles.  Allow to set then break up as desired and place in goody bags or seal in a gallon size Ziploc bag or airtight container.

Chocolate Hearts

Chocolate chips
White Chocolate chips

Melt chocolate chips.  Place in chocolate molds.  Allow to harden.  Remove from mold.
Melt white chocolate chips.  When melted, place spoon in chocolate and raise over chocolate pieces to add some lines.  Allow to harden.

Oreo Cheesecake Truffles

1 package of oreos
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups Semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Place oreos in a large ziplock bag.  Get a rolling pin and roll over bag to crush oreos.  Transfer oreos to a bowl and mix with cream cheese.  When well blended, use a cookie scoop to scoop filling onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Put in fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Melt chocolate and shortening.  Place one oreo ball at a time into melted chocolate.  Coat and place on baking sheet lined with wax paper.  Add any sprinkles or garnish when the chocolate is still wet.  When complete, return baking sheet to refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. (can be stored in and air tight container in fridge for up to 2 weeks).

Chocolate covered oreos

2 cups Chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Melt chocolate and shortening.  Put half of oreo in chocolate mix and place on baking sheet lined with wax paper.  When done, put in refrigerator to set.

My friend made the other truffle so I cannot tell you the amount of ingredients they had, but I can tell you it had Cream and chocolate in it to make a rich, thick chocolate that we made into balls and covered in nuts, cocoa powder and sprinkles.

Put them all together in a cute box or on a plate and you get a beautiful gift full of goodies for someone you love... or for yourself!


History of Valentine's Day

Is the history of Valentines Day expressed in the current celebration of yummy chocolates, lovely cards, and sparkling engagement rings? What is the story behind such a highly-retailed celebration?

Some say the day is named after a bishop named Valentine, who was stationed in the Roman Empire. Claudius II was the Emperor at that time. He thought that unmarried men made better soldiers, so he decided to make it a law that young men could not marry. Around 270 A.D., Valentine took pity on the ostracized soldiers who were not permitted to marry or see their sweethearts.

He became an advocate of these young lovers and began to perform secret marriages. He was soon found out and jailed. Emperor Claudius II attempted to convert Valentine to begin worshiping the Roman gods, but Valentine refused. Instead, he tried to convert Claudius to Christianity and Valentine sentenced to be executed on February 24, 270.

Another version of the history of Valentines Day tells that Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. Just before his death, he sent her a note and signed it “from your Valentine.” An aura of romance surrounded his demise and those who knew about it spread the tale. Bishop Valentine became Saint Valentine with his fame extending to England and France.

After his death, Valentine then became what is known as a “Patron Saint.” Some considered him the spiritual overseer of an annual festival in which young Romans would distribute cards of affection to those they wished to formally see. This festival was held each February 14. There are Valentine cards in museums worldwide that date back to 1415.

February has been the month to celebrate love ever since the Middle Ages.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Valentine Gift from the kids to Grandma and Grandpa

Did you know that most grandparents are big softies that totally appreciate the simple things???  Well if you did not know that before, you know now.  For this simple yet true fact, we try to have my boys do fun things for their grandparents a few times each year.

For a "New Years Gift" we made one of the grandparents a calendar through Costco with pictures we had taken throughout all of 2014, including ones from Christmas (this is why it was a New Years gift).  When it finally arrived, it brought tears and was very much appreciated.

Let me share what we did a couple of years ago that still adorns the grandparents walls.

We were all dressed up for church one Sunday and I thought it would be nice to get some photos of our boys for their grandparents.

Instead of just normal pictures, we decided to make it fun for Valentine's Day.

First thing I did was put a black sheet up on our entertainment center to use as a back drop.

Second, I printed out 3 signs: "We", A heart with "Love" written inside of it, and "You!"...

Third, I had Cammon hold "We" while I took his picture.., Aiden held "You!" while I took his picture... and I had both of them hold the heart with"Love" written in it while I took their picture.

We took nice shots and silly ones too, those are always a must in my family.  I then went on Photoshop and had some fun making a faux scrapbook pic to print out and send to the grandparents.

Here are the final results...

This was super easy and so much fun!

So whether you have your kids draw a picture, make a video, take some silly portraits, or make a calendar, remember that Grandparents love their Grandkids and want to know that their Grandkids love them in return.  Share the love.

Like my mother-in-law says... "Make a great day" everyone!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

De-Clutter 411

Are you tired of a messy house?  Do you spend too much time cleaning instead of having fun with friends and family?  If so, look no further, your problems have been solved!  For the low, never been heard of price of...

No this is not a commercial for some amazing product that will keep your house clean, neat and tidy but it is something to look at and keep in mind.  Below I have some information that may help you become more organized, and in becoming more organized your home becomes less cluttered, and in having your home less cluttered, your home becomes more clean, and in having your home more clean, you suddenly have more time!  Sounds great doesn't it?  So keep on reading for some insightful information I am learning about.

I am currently working on organizing my home room by room.  It will be a tedious job but I know it will help me stay organized and be more efficient in my day to day routines.  I find this very important being a mother of two and pretty much the one who takes care of the home at the moment with my husband being at work 60+ hours a week.

I have been reading a book titled "The Ultimate Career - The Art of Homemaking for Today" written by Daryl Hoole and Daughters.

I am rather organized already, but they have some great ideas I thought I should share with you in order to help you start your organization quest as well as myself.  The following are 10 keys they mention in the book:

1.  Do not keep EVERYTHING that comes into your house or buy everything you see even if it is a "great deal." (we have a hard time with this one, sometimes we get sucked into the "sale" signs).

2.  De-junk by making 3 piles: Discard, Give Away, Put Away

3.  Ask a friend to help you if you have a hard time getting rid of things (having someone who is unbiased to your things is great to have around because they might be able to talk some sense into you when you really don't need something but want to keep it.  I love having someone tell me their honest opinion about things, so this technique works well for me).

4.  When you have too much, get rid of it and use the following guidelines:
         -If you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it
         -Set aside an ongoing "get rid of it" bag or box
      -Teach children to de-junk by offering incentives or rewards (I tell my kids that just like the people we give food to on the street who are hungry, we need to help clothe the little kids that don't have nice clothes and give them toys because they don't have toys.  They understand it rather well and love to know that another little boy or girl will enjoy their toys and clothes.  Sometimes they come up to me on their own and tell me they do not want one of their toys anymore and want to give it to someone who does not have any toys.  It warms my heart when they do this on their own).

5.  Don't make excuses for clutter - clutter could mean you are highly interesting, talented and creative, but don't let it become an excuse.  Having things in order can result in more time for your creative pursuits (I can tell you from personal experience that the more organized I am, the cleaner my house is and the less I have to pick up at night after the kids go to bed.  So instead of picking up the house for an hour or two before I go to bed, I spend 10 minutes straightening up and then an hour and fifty minutes of quiet time were I can read, watch a show, be creative with one of my many hobbies, or spend time with my hubby.  I love it!).

6.  Keep area's free of clutter to prevent more clutter from gathering because clutter attracts more clutter. (Clutter gathers where clutter is.  Have you ever noticed that when the dishwasher is empty and ready to have people load up their dishes that all the dishes end up in the sink instead of the dishwasher just because one person left their dish in the sink?  It starts with one dish then suddenly the sink is full and the dishwasher is empty.  Clutter gathers where clutter is.  On a side note, in order to prevent this from happening in my house, which it still does on occasion, I have a "clean/dirty" magnet on my dishwasher that we use to indicate clean or dirty, so that way,there is no excuse for dirty dishes in the sink unless the dishwasher is full and washing.  It works about 85% of the time).

7.  Maintaining an orderly house is more of a matter of having good habits and less of having enough time.  It takes 3 weeks to form a good habit; 21 days to a better you.

8.  A clean house requires constant vigilance.  (I know you are tired at the end of the day but if you get in the habit of picking things up as you go like it says in the #9 and cleaning up the remaining clutter at the end of the day, you will wake up to a clean house each morning and help maintain it's cleanliness throughout the day.  Wouldn't that be amazing).

9.  Don't put it down, put it away.  Get in the habit of picking up and putting away items as you walk through your house and yard.

10.  Have a place for EVERYTHING.  Use labels, organizers, boxes, baskets, and bins.

These are just the beginning steps to an organized home that are mentioned in this book.

I hope this is a helpful step (or 10 helpful steps) in the right direction to help you, like it is helping me, to have an orderly home.

I wish you joy in your organizational journey and ask for your best wishes on mine as well.

This is a picture I found on google... it is not my garage but I hope all MY organizing will pay off this much!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

January 23, 2015 - National Pie Day!

It's National Pie Day!!!

I LOVE PIE!  Whether baking it or eating it, pie is delicious!

And on this special day of days, I will be making my "Famous Apple Pie."

Let me tell you a little about my "Famous Apple Pie"... not only does it taste AMAZING but it is a family recipe.  It has been passed down from one generation to the next but the best part about it is that the recipe has never been written down.  Our family passes it down through teaching.

When I was newly married, I was fortunate enough to have my Grandma Chidester move up to Oregon close to where we lived at the time.  Though I loved her before, it was not until we lived closer to each other that we were able to form a great relationship.

During one of the holidays, we gathered at her house for a family dinner.  My husband and I decided we would go early to help my Grandmother cook and I am so grateful we did.  It is then that she and I put on our aprons, washed our hands and began making my first apple pie.

She was so gracious and patient with me as I fumbled while hand peeling the apples and asking questions.  We worked side by side in the kitchen that day and it was a special moment I will always remember and cherish.

Now, years later, I sit down every once in a while and make our families "Famous Apple Pie" with a fond memory of how I learned to make it while sharing the knowledge with my two boys.

Each apple pie I make, I cut a little heart out at the top of the crust to symbolize the love and care not only put into making that pie, but also for that which was shown to me by my Grandma Chidester.

Thanks Grandma!  I wish we lived closer so we could bake our apple pie together.  Here's to you.

Happy National Pie Day Everyone!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Give someone a hug...

Happy National Hugging Day!!!

January 21st is National Hugging Day.

I know that I am a few minutes late in posting this but I thought... why not?

For those of you who do not know me, you should know that I am a hugger.  So much so that my first email handle made for me in middle school by my sister Andrea was "hug2much" and it has stuck with me all these years.  For those of you who do know me, you have probably been a recipient of MANY of my hugs and if you haven't... you should be. =)

So in honor of what I call "Amber Day," hug a friend or a family member like you have never hugged them before!

Eternal Impressions Photography - By Amber M. Woolsey

Monday, January 19, 2015

Words of encouragement...

I was taught by my parents that everything, both good and bad, happens for a reason.  No matter how good of a person you may be, trials come.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  They come in order to help build us and make us stronger.

I know that life does not seem fair at times, but I also know that when I am going through something difficult, it is only for my benefit.

If you are having a hard time, here are some things you should do:

Pray - God is a loving Father who wants us to experience sorrow in order to appreciate joy.  Pray for strength and peace.  "If ye ask, ye shall receive."

Be Positive - Complaining and being negative will not change your situation.  Look for the good things then things will be easier to handle.

Count Your Blessings - When you are able to think of all the wonderful things in your life, the bad ones do not seem to matter as much.

Have a Support Group - Find someone you can talk to.  It can be your spouse, partner, roommate, parent, friend, clergy, therapist, even a total stranger, just find someone you can talk to that is willing to listen.  Sometimes when you talk it out, not only can it help to release your frustrations but it often helps you come up with a solution.

There are many other things that can help you through difficult times.  The thing that helps me the most is having faith that God knows what is best for me.  I know that when I am doing my best and trying hard, trials come, but only because God knows I can handle them.

Pray, be positive, count your blessings, find support and have faith.  When you do these things, your burdens will seem light.

Check out this amazing song!

"Stand in the Rain"