Saturday, December 22, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness (RAK)...Christmas 2012.

Yes, RAK are not new.  I love that some people do them for their birthday, or just because.  I wish we had a happier reason for our family joining, but we are joining the Random Acts of Kindness movement this Christmas to honor the victims and the staff at Sandy Hook Elementary.

The recent tragedy touches to many: teachers, parents, grandparents, etc.  There are things being done in the immediate NYC & Newtown, CT area, but Random Acts of Kindness can be done anywhere, anytime by anyone!  What a way to honor a life, but to do things to help others.

I wish I had a millionaire's budget to do these gifts, but at the same time, it can be about the smiles, the love, the time spent to care.  Being on a shoestring budget this year, the boys and I are going to find ways to participate in a low cost way!

I have to say, as an educator, before we could even get started, I was the recipient of four Random Acts of Kindness by others.  What a wonderful way to be blessed, and we are going to pay it forward!

Ann Curry stated she was going to 20 random acts in honor of the children killed.  She challenged others to join in with blessing others.  Soon it became #26Acts for the school, 27 for the entire set of victims, or 28.  Who cares how many?  The point is to spread kindness to others.  Our family is going to try and do 29 (added one for our friend La-Reik who passed away in a home fire the same week) and hope to lose count and go way over 29!

Also, although pics are cute, and I am sure to include a few....part of the fun is the anonymity and doing it for the glory of God, not for photo opps, so I will not have one for each number!

#1 - (although I didn't even think of this one as a R.A.K., a parent pointed out that it was a true gift of my time)  Opened School Library for 90 minutes both Fridays of Christmas Break for children to gather, read, use the computer lab, and make snowflakes.

#2 - making snowflakes to send to Newtown/Sandy Hook PTA to decorate the new building.   I figure they will get more than they can ever use, but what a wonderful way to involve children in sending their love to other kids!

#3 - making/delivering cookies to a wonderful K teacher from my school.  She lives a few streets over and attended Sandy Hook as a child.  We blessed her and her children with a plate of snicker doodle cookies.  Her mother greeted us and let us know that our teacher friend was under the weather.  On the way home, Thomas said, "see that was the perfect person to bless because she is not feeling well!"

#4 TBD - we will update as we go!

Other ideas we have floating around in our heads...
change taped to vending machine in hospital
doughnuts for the police
water for construction workers
cookie/hot chocolate for UPS men/women working around Christmas
paying for someone behind us in drive/thru
homemade cards to assisted living center

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Pinterest Pin that went to the birds!

This pin went to the birds, literally!

The best of plans....well this one did not turn out so hot, but I might have to give it a second try.  When I saw these birdseed ornaments I knew they would be a hit to make with the kids and a perfect gift for my mom.  She has many feeders and loves taking care of the birds all year round.

The orginial pin I made on Pinterest was from Kelly@ EclecticallyVintage. Click here to read the post and try the Birdseed Ornaments.

Isn't this cute?

Link to Kelly's Post

The ingredients are simple: flour, water, corn syrup, and bird seed.  The boys had fun measuring and mixing with their hands.  It was even fairly simple to create a block on the wax paper and to use our large cookie cutters.   That is where we started to run into trouble. 

Living in the Denver mile high air, I had hoped they would not need 8 hours and in fact they did seem to dry out fast.  We flipped them over to keep drying them out.  Now maybe I tried to rush it or maybe the cutters were too big...when we took them out and when we tried to wrap the twine, the ornaments began breaking apart.

So....too dry? not dry enough when we tried to take them out of the cutters?  too big? Our small snowman that we were just going to hang in our yard, seemed to turn out best.  It was not a total waste in that we wrapped up the snowman for my mom, and made two large balls of the mixture that we then wrapped in twine.  We also have the leftovers for the birds!

I guess you can't win them all!  This project did not turn out quite right, but was fun, and the ingredients are not expensive.  I will keep you posted if we give it a second chance!

Merry Christmas to the birds,

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The Smell of Christmas

Smell is a strong connector to memories.  I don't know what it is about this stove top potpourri, but everyone I know says, "It makes my house smell like Christmas!"  I orginially pinned this recipe from "Make it Do."  As I looked through my pins for something to make for my staff, I thought I would give it a try. 

One thing it has going for it is the simplicity.  My four year old and other sons enjoyed measuring and adding the ingredients to the bags.  Buying in bulk and watching for sales around this time of year also made it fairly economical.  The most expensive item was whole cloves.  I do not recommend waiting until the last minute and getting them from the grocery store - it was highway robbery!  Luckily, as I restocked to make more I discovered Wal-Mart was the best price for the whole cloves.  The Wal-Mart Christmas section also had bags of the cinnamon sticks in bulk.

I loved the orginial blog post because she had a link to a second post that contained packaging ideas and a printable with directions.  I found the exact gift baggies on sale at Micheals, with the wrapping supplies.  Now since I was making over 40 for my staff, I did not use fancy cloth ribbon, but we used traditional Christmas ribbon.

The boys loved the scent on our own stove and the pretty package, so they ended up requesting them for their teachers too.
picture by Calli @ Make it Do!
Overall, I would say the orginial blog post made it easy to replicate and it was a total success!  Click on over to Make it Do "Smells of the Season" to read how to make these wonderful teacher, neighbor, or just because gifts!

May your home smell cozy this holiday season,

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Name via Wire Ornament

Well now that I am totally obsessed with Pinterest, I thought I would start sharing the items I have made or tried to help give feedback to other crafters and pictures of variations. 
One of my favorite Boards is "Christmas"!  I love everything about Christmas.  My board this year mostly has pins from inexpensive gifts and homemade gifts.  Our family situation is that we are trying to save and pay down debt, therefore the pins about homemade items came in handy!  In fact I would say spending time with the boys crafting items ended up helping build my Christmas spirit.
Here is one of the ornament projects I had pinned.  Here is the link to the orginal project from Crafts Unleashed.  The orginial has yarn or string wrapped around the wire.  I went to Micheals to buy wire to create the name ornaments and I found Christmas wire that was green/silver and red/silver.  I skipped the yarn!
The biggest challenge was trying to not make the names too big.  I have not given them to my boys yet, but I know they will be excited.  They saw me make one for a friend and both asked, "Will you make me one?"  I had to lie and say I did not have enough wire, since I had already made their ornaments.
I added the bells as embellishment and a ribbon to hang the ornament on the tree.  Yes I know that an "n" in cursive has two humps but to me, I never make them with two as it reminds me of an "m."  I did not have wire cutters, but I found holding the name in my pliers and wiggling the wire back and forth, it quickly broke off.
Not bad if you ask me, and I would say "easy" replication of the orginial pin/post!
Merry Christmas,


Up to their old tricks....not my family

They would never yell, "boobies" to try and distract the other player while playing wii golf....and when their mother tell them to stop because it was inappropriate they would never then start yelling "old balls" and end of on floor in fits of laughter....

IF I commented to my husband "might as well move to Alaska," to which he might have responded too cold, so I quipped "move to Hawaii then," he would never say back with a straight face, " no, I want to live in the US" ... to which my son would never respond "geez dad, learn your facts"

None of my sons would ever rip a fart in a Chinese restaurant so loud that people would turn to look. Nor would the rest of the family start laughing so loud and uncontrollably that I would be mortified to the point of tears!

My mother who often rolls her eyes at the potty talk of my sons would never join in at the Thanksgiving dinner table and mention such things as "brown trout" !!!

My boys would never spend at least a week shouting the word "puberty" then bust into fits of laughter repeatedly!

So glad I have a wonderful family!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sweet Potato Casserole (no marshies)

My mother is here for Thanksgiving and as we talk and drag out recipes I realize how many of my copies are dog eared and stained.   Time to add some to my blog!  I know, I know my grandchildren might treasure them written in my own handwriting...but I doubt it, if you have ever read my handwriting you would know why!

This morning I made "Peggy Hubbard's Sweet Potato Casserole," and for the hundredth time asked, "Who is Peggy Hubbard?"  Apparently Peggy was the museum curator at the F.D. Roosevelt Presidential Library where my mother worked as an archivist when I was growing up.

This is one of those recipes that without it, it would not be "Thanksgiving" for me, so "Thank You" Peggy Hubbard!

3lbs sweet potatoes, boiled until fork tender (leave jackets on)
2 eggs
1/4 c milk
1/4 c white sugar
1/4 c melted butter

1 c coconut
1/3 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/3 c. melted butter
1 c chopped pecans

Remove jackets from boiled sweet potatoes
In different bowl beat the two eggs, add milk, white sugar, and 1/4 cup melted butter together
put sweet potatoes through Foley food mill (I use the hand crank Foley food mill)
Mix sweet potatoes with the egg mixture, spoon into casserole dish

Mix  coconut, flour, brown sugar and 1/3 cup melted butter, and 1 cup chopped pecans.  When mixed together sprinkle over casserole.

Bake 375 for 25-30 minutes

Notes: My mom would substitute margarine for butter.  I have not tried substituting coconut oil yet for the butter, but I might next year.  The recipe note that I have says that you can use well drained canned yams, but I never have.  Sometimes my mother would slide it in the oven while she made gravy, etc.

Yes, it does NOT have marshmallows, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised! I don't even really like nuts but I love this casserole!  It is also great warmed back up for leftovers if you have any!

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