Wednesday, August 31, 2011

new URL address

Howdy folks! Same blog, same me, just a new URL. You should be re-directed automatically in the next few hours, but in case you're not, or if you'd like to update your blog roll and google readers, the new address is: 


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Our Labor Day Tradition.

 Every Labor Day....
my mother drug all 5 of us sisters to the mall, to have our annual picture taken at JC Penny.
She didn't miss a year. She had a vision.  

Behold... The Tradition.

Sorry sis, if this picture bothers you! But you are incredibly cute! hehe

And now, every Labor Day....
I live to carry on the tradition. And to torture my children.

Someday they too, will think it was the coolest tradition. Thanks mom, for pioneering this special family tradition.

What I love about this tradition:
It's a fun way to see how we grew, looking down the row until we graduated high school.
It's also fun to compare what each sister looked like at the same age, by looking down the column.
I liked doing it on Labor Day, or thereabouts, even though it doesn't really have much to do with Labor Day, but because its the end of summer, we were all nice and tan, not a pasty winter white.
Having a set time of year helps you not forget about your tradition.
There's usually no school that day, so it was an easy time to do it.
These make an excellent Christmas present for all the grandparents.
You don't have to order school pictures!

What I've changed:
To change it up a little, I decided to keep it simple and uniform by having all our kids pictures on a white background.
I've tried taking a few myself, but mostly we use our JCP coupons.
Either way, I insist on a white background, and a vertical picture.
I display these pictures in our playroom. So, I painted my cheap $3 Wal-Mart frames orange, and voila. Someday when I'm tired of the orange, I'll probably paint them a different color. We've got years of pictures to look forward to.

P.S.- Oliver, our good friend in Hungary, once said that it would be the best joke to play on my mom if we mixed up and rehung every single picture on the wall. I am still laughing at the possibility.

Monday, August 29, 2011

from food allergies to health food... my thoughts

A few months ago, this is what happened to our son, who is allergic to dairy. This is after feeding him 3 Cheetos. 
Scary, right? 

When we first discovered his allergy, at 9 months old, I thought, "Oh great, we're gonna have to be one of those families who has to make sure our food is always safe and allergen free, and shop at the health food store, and put a lot more work into cooking at home." I was not excited at first, but my only choice was to embrace the situation. So I researched online, talked with people who had similar issues, and started cooking things that were safe to eat. Trips to the health food store resulted in purchases like soy milk, almond milk, tofu cheese, soy yogurt, sometimes even soy ice cream (even though that stuff is crazy expensive). We refrained from purchasing things like ah-hem, cheetos, cheese crackers, cheesy chips, etc. I fed him a lot of peanut butter, bread, fruit, veggies, and meat. In a lot of ways, we all started eating healthier, and I learned that I didn't mind having to work around his allergy. I started making homemade baby food. I started making almost everything we ate from scratch. And I was surprised at how many options there were in the stores, and how many things I could actually make at home. No longer was I using cream-of-this-and-that in casseroles. I haven't bought a jar of cheese whiz or pasta sauce or anything of the sort in a very long time. I now know how to make my own white sauces, cheese sauces, marinara sauces and gravies, and I personally think its just as easy, and tastier too.The blessings that have come from his allergy have far outweighed the sacrifices that have gone into it.

The doctor said there was a good chance he would grow out of his allergy to dairy. He said to experiment every 6 weeks. We started with cooked dairy. I was elated when we discovered he could in fact eat dairy if it had been cooked (my husband explained to me that when the proteins have been denatured, it has a different effect). All of a sudden, he could eat waffles, scrambled eggs, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, quesadillas, grilled cheese, ya know, the regular kid stuff.

Fast forward a few weeks later, we experimented with real yogurt. Lo and behold, he did not react and break out in hives! We tried this a few times, then started adding other dairy items. We've been careful, because I think it still affects his stomach, which is evident in his diapers, but now he is able to eat ice cream, have regular milk in his cereal, and eat cold cheese. We're confident that he is growing out of his dairy allergy!

One of the main benefits of all this, is that it really opened my eyes and raised my awareness about the things that we actually put into our bodies. Like I mentioned, I cook from scratch pretty much all the time. We shop local when we can. We started our own garden. I want to purchase organic and natural food as much as possible. We've looked in to crop co-ops and purchasing meat from local farmers. I watched the movie Food, Inc. on Netlfix, and read this book. (and while I don't agree with every single thing they preach, at least I was educated on certain things).

 (We wanted real tomatoes, not just the idea of a tomato).

I've learned a lot, but still feel like there's a long way to go.
Someday we hope to be able to eat exclusively natural, local, hormone, and cage free meat, but until we can afford it, we save our money and buy what we can, even if its just a little at a time. 
I'd like to improve our food storage, adding healthy shelf items, and learning how to can the made-from-scratch sauces I talked about. 
My kids are the pickiest eaters I have ever met, and I need to work with them a lot

But I'm thankful that now I'm aware of things I want to do to improve our diet and health.
I do not think the food industry is evil. I think its a business, and its up to us to make smart choices.
I'm not talking about putting my family on a crazy diet that includes no junk-food. (I'm not willing to part with my sour cream and onion Pringles or dark chocolate Dove squares). But I do want to teach my children about making healthy food choices, and providing those opportunities to them.

How about you? Do you have special dietary needs in your home? 
What do you do to ensure safety and health?
How to you incorporate health food into your family's diet on a budget?
How do you get your picky kids to eat healthy?

Linked up here 
and here
and here
and here

Friday, August 26, 2011

Once Upon a Weekend {Link Party #7} and Features

The Top 3 Hits from last week were...

Top Viewed Link:

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

7 random things about me.

I have never really heard of a blogging award, but I just got one, so I'll take it! Thank you Kim, from Maiden D'Shade, and Marie, from My Lil Pink Pocket, for nominating me and reading my blog!

After accepting the Versatile Blogger Award, the blogger must:
1. Thank the person who gave the award and link back to them in your post. 
2. Share 7 things about yourself. 
3. Pass this award along to 10 recently discovered blogs. 

So, in case you wanted to know 7 random things about me, here they are :)
1. I drove a big tractor and mowed in the rough and raked sandtraps at a golf course for a summer during college. I had to be to work at 5:30 am every day!

2. Me and my sister have an obsession with becoming Amish someday.

3. I used to have hair down to my bum. I was too afraid to cut it. This was when I was 12, the age I was when I met Troy, (who is now my husband). His first impression of me? "How does that girl use the bathroom?" Awesome.

4. I wrecked bad when I was in high school... I was racing a friend down a narrow canyon road, and rolled my dad's Land Cruiser. Miraculously, no one was hurt. I was in big trouble for a very long time. No I was not drunk. Just stupid. (thanks for still being my friend, Tera)! ♥

5. I do my kegel exercises when I'm driving in the car, on the street that leads into my neighborhood. I'm all about multi-tasking, and that's just when I told myself I would remember to do that. TMI? Probably. Kind of embarrassing to say that on the internet, but its a good tip!

6. This isn't really about me, but my husband. He played in a band in high school, called Amnesia. They moved to Hollywood after high school, but he didn't end up going. The bass player, Joey, now plays for Selena Gomez. A few years ago, we saw him on American Idol playing for David Cook. 

7. We have lived over a year without TV in our house, and there are some nights when I really miss it! We do have Netflix, and our kids watch DVDs, so we're not totally cut off. (We are being very careful with our finances right now... can't argue with that). So that is why blogging has become my main source of entertainment! Thankfully!

And here are 10 awesome blogs that I have found recently. Pay them a visit if you have time, they are great! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back To School Celebration 2011

(more about the wreath here)

A few years ago, while reading NieNie, I was so inspired by the annual Back to School Feast she holds for her family. I immediately knew I wanted to adopt this tradition for my family. I got to work, scheming about how our first Celebration would be. I've literally been dreaming about this moment for years. Last night, we prepared our oldest daughter to begin kindergarten with our first annual "Back to School Celebration." I am so pleased with how our evening turned out. Stephanie Nielson is a beautiful, inspiring person.

The Celebration doesn't have to be anything over-the-top. I made a few decorations, and added a few traditions of my own, in order to complete the evening. Here's our list of events:

Back to School Celebration
Royal Feast
Unveiling of the Family Theme
Father's Blessings
Roll Out the Red Carpet: Fashion Show
Special Story Time
Magic School Bus Surprise

In more detail....

We started by welcoming everyone to the dinner table. We recognized our oldest daughter, by placing a crown on her head. The crown is just a burger king crown that I spray painted pink, and let her decorate. She had a great time!

We then had a Royal Feast of Homemade Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs with French Bread. A new tradition was started was going around the table asking each person what their High and Low for the day was. We figured if we start the tradition early, then by the time they're teenagers, we hope they'll be used to it and not afraid to tell us about their day!

I had a fun time making the centerpiece, nametags, and placemats for our feast.

For dessert, we feasted upon these apple rice krispie treats.

Then it was time for the unveiling of our Family Theme for the year, Kindness Begins With Me. We choose a theme each year, based upon what we think our family needs to focus on, or would benefit from. We display the theme and talk about it.

{Still working on a picture for this one}

Next we had a special moment where special blessings of encouragement and love are given to each child from their daddy.

Time to roll out the red carpet and model a few new school outfits, compliments of the grandparents! The "red carpet" is 2 yards of red felt that I bought at Walmart for about $5.

Last, we had a special story time, reading the books, "Kindergarten, Here I Come," and "The Kissing Hand."

That wrapped up the evening... it was off to bed.

Next year, I'd like to adopt this tradition from Mique at 30 Handmade Days. I plan to have the Magic School Bus come visit overnight, leaving a special treat for the kids in the morning. I didn't do it this year, for lack of time and planning. 
Then of course, there's a special breakfast, pictures of your new student, and a gift for the teacher!

We picked a hydrangea from our yard to give to her teacher.

 Class of 2024. I can't believe the sound of that! (I was the class of 2000)! I am so happy and excited for my sweet little girl to start a new journey in her life. I was surprised that neither of us were sad or cried. Last year, when all her friends started school, I was all choked up from just the thought of her going to school the next year. Since we chose not to put her in pre-school, (mainly to save money, but also because I LOVE having her home with me), today she was ready. Ready for a new challenge, a new chapter. She (and I) embraced it. It was a special day... (especially for my 3 year old who loved having one on one time with me). I think we'll get used to this new routine real fast!

Our Back to School Celebration is a work in progress, but for our first one, we had a marvelous time!

What else? Is there anything I'm missing? What are some of your favorite traditions or favorite back to school breakfasts? 

linked here 
Entered in this contest! 

Paper Flower Centerpiece

So, I made this for our Back to School Celebration centerpiece. My budget was ZERO dollars, so here's what I came up with using stuff around the house. I put our magnet alphabet letters in a vase. Then I made these paper flowers and thought it would be fun to glue them to a pencil. (I kept wishing I had a Cricut or a Silouhette while I was cutting those flowers by hand! haha, in my dreams). I cut through several layers at a time, and it wasn't so bad. I used my crinkle roller to give a little texture, and my crop-o-dile to attach the brads. Glad I hung on to those from my scrap-booking days, which sadly are long gone.

What do you think? 

linked here
Entered in this contest:

Back to School Wreath

For our Back to School Celebration, I made this wreath. The most exciting part is that it's an interchangeable wreath, so I will be reusing it for several holidays and seasons! My next door neighbor, who I adore, gave me the metal center thing. She got it at Hallmark, where she used to work. It was used to display cards (I think). I've been wracking my brain trying to come up with a use for it, and here it is! I can slide the piece of paper in and out, and the flowers are attached to the wreath with velcro.

Linked here!
Entered in this contest:

Rice Krispie Treats shaped as an Apple

For our Back to School Celebration, I made these simple rice krispie treat apples. I'll tell you how. It's pretty hard. Just kidding.

You'll need...
rice krispies
red food coloring
tootsie rolls
fruit roll ups
gummy worms

I make my rice krispie treats different than everyone else- I add more butter and less cereal. So, just tweak the recipe on the bag of marshmallows. When the butter and marshmallows are melted, throw a few drops of red food coloring to it. When it's all stirred, start shaping into fist-size balls. Poke a hole in the middle with your finger, then place an umwrapped tootsie roll into it. For the leaf- I used a leaf shape pie crust cutter and cut a leaf out of the greenest fruit roll up I could find. Then, I stuck a gummy worm into the treat.

So easy, right? 

Linked here!
Entered in this contest!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Guest Post: Love My Element

Hey guys! This is Rach H. I have a really cute and creative friend, who just started a new craft blog, and I am having her guest post today. For years, I have followed her family blog, and she always has the most creative stuff going on. I'm so happy she finally started her new creative blog. One of my favorite things about her is that she is raising chickens in her backyard. I want to do that! Be sure to go check out her blog! She's already had some great features around blogland! Take it away Chelsea.....

Hey it is me Chelsea from Love My Element!

I am super excited to be guest posting here on Family Ever After. Rachel and I actually became friends though our husbands. Usually it is the other way around, but I was very lucky to have met the talented Rachel many years ago and we have remained friends through family blogs, Christmas cards and now we both have ventured into the Craft/DIY blog world.
Today I wanted to share with you a frame that I gave a second chance at life as a bulletin board.

I think the frame used to be a mirror. I got it for free from my step mom who was cleaning out her home. Who could pass that up, for sure not me!
First grab some materials:
Then a couple coats of white spray paint. 
Can I quickly confess my love for spray paint! Such a quick cheap fix to anything. Here and here are a couple more things I have spray painted recently.
While it was drying I worked on the insert. 
It already had a piece of cardboard inside the frame so I covered that in coark board. This came in a roll from Hobby Lobby for around $7. (Don't forget to take your 40% off coupon!) You can see the arrow is where I had to piece it together a bit. You will not see this later when I cover it.
I then pulled out my can of spray adhesive and some left over burlap. (I was surprised how inexpensive burlap is! I may have to use this more often.) I attached the burlap to the card/coark board and even used the spray adhesive to wrap it around the back.
I then sandwiched it all together. (If you look close you will notice I screwed in the back upside down. But of course I did not notice until I went to try and hang it!)
Now before I show you the finished product let me show you the cute pins I made to hand the pictures. Any cute bullitun board needs fancy pins too right?
This pack of 6 bottle caps came with round double sided foam circles. I stuck those on the back and then hot glued thumb tacks on. Quick, easy and so fun!
So this is what we ended up with:
I think it goes great with my current office remodel. Go here and here if you want to see more of what is going on the new office/craft/sewing room.
Thanks again Rachel for having me and letting me show one of my recent projects.

Thanks Chelsea! You are so talented!
I'm sure Chelsea would love some comments and new followers, trust me, you'll want to follow this one! Be sure to say hi from Family Ever After if you get a second! :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

breakfast burritos from scratch

Hey there! Today I am going to tell you how I make my yummy breakfast burritos. They are my favorite! If I ever eat breakfast at McDonalds, I always order a breakfast burrito. One night, while dreaming, I came up with this super easy and delicious recipe from scratch. We eat them for dinner a lot. Enjoy! 

Breakfast Burritos

1 lb. ground sausage
1 onion
1 pepper (any color)
olive oil
6 scrambled eggs
2 TB flour
2 TB butter
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese
10 tortillas
hot sauce, optional

To Make:
1. Chop onions, sautee in olive oil. Chop peppers, add to onions, sautee. Set aside in bowl.
2. Brown sausage. Drain. Add to bowl.
3. Make scrambled eggs (use about 6 eggs + milk + s&p). Add to bowl.
4. Make cheese sauce: In saucepan, melt 2 TB butter. Add 2 TB flour. Whisk together. Let bubble for 1 minute (this is a roux). Now, slowly add milk, stirring with a whisk at every half cup, until its mixed into the roux. Add salt and pepper. Allow this to simmer and bubble for 2 minutes. It should be nice and saucey and thick. Remove from heat and add cheese, heat through.
5. Prepare tortillas. I am obsessed with Costco's unbaked tortillas.
6. Assemble. On a tortilla, layer your veggie-sausage-egg mixture. Top with cheese sauce. Roll up and enjoy!

ps- I try to multi-task the above steps. If you have a big enough stove, and enough helpers, these can be whipped out in ten minutes!

Here's a few pictures of the process-

Veggie and Sausage Mixture. Then you would add the scrambled eggs and set aside in a bowl. 
(I'm assuming you all know about cross-contamination, and will avoid doing it)!
This is a roux. (I made it in the same pan that I used to sautee the veggies). I've melted butter and added flour. From here, you add the milk and s&p, whisk well, let simmer, remove from heat, and add cheese.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Once Upon a Weekend {Link Party} #6

I ♥ the 90s Photo Backdrop by 29 Inch Heels
Check out this fun idea and great tutorial from my friend Dinah!

Quiet Flip Book by Artsy Fartsy Mama
I sometimes look at link parties with my kids sitting on my lap. They kept seeing this link and wanting me to click on it, because they saw Ariel. haha. This is a cute idea to make!

Cute Change Purse by The Little Giggler
I just love this little purse and the colors!

White Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Cookies by Lil Luna
I made these last weekend for a work BBQ (and threw in a few choc chips as well... I couldn't help it). Thanks Kristyn for linking up such a yummy recipe!

White Pintuck Duvet Cover by December Skye
I could have picked a picture of the finished product of this duvet cover, but I just love the picture of Skye working on this. I am so in love with this idea, and actually think I might make one, its pinned on my list of things to sew! She posted a great tutorial. 

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