Quick and Easy Patriotic Fruit & Pretzels

I had to throw together a quick dessert for a party recently.  I wanted it to be on the healthy side since I knew there would be lots of other sweets at the party.  So I went to where I usually get most of my ideas, Pinterest! I am a bit of a Pinterest addict and I am always so happy when I actually make something from the hundreds of ideas I’ve pinned.  My dessert is a variation of this one I found on Pinterest.  If I made it again, I would try to use strawberries or watermelon for a brighter red color, but the cherries were what looked best at the market so we went with that!

This is a super easy dish to make and it was wildly popular at the party!  You can’t beat fresh, Michigan cherries!  I just washed the fruit, arranged it on a tray with yogurt covered pretzels and it was ready to go!

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So if you find yourself scrambling for an idea for a 4th of July party, give this a try!  Simple, easy, healthy and delicious!  A perfect combination!

Happy 4th of July!   I hope you enjoy some good food, family, fireworks and fun!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Easter Bunny & Banner Craft

Hi There Friends!

Jules inspired me to get out my craft supplies and do the Easter project I’ve been eyeing on Pinterest! This is my own variation of the one I saw and I love the simplicity of it.  So if you feel inspired to do a simple Easter craft, this would be a good one to try!  You can get creative with the colors and even the words or shape of the bunny.


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Supplies:

1 canvas any size (I used 9 1/2 ” x 10 ”  I cut the cost by using a 40% coupon from Joanns)

Acrylic paint (your color preference-I used a light blue), white acrylic paint

Assorted paint brushes (stiffer brushed work best for getting close to the edges)

Stencil of a bunny shape your choice-(I did a Google search for image of rabbit and found this one.)

Ribbon-any color

Scrapbook paper

Glue Dots

Gel Pens or Sharpie Marker-your color choice

small needle or pin

Directions:

1. Choose your bunny pattern, print and cut out using an X-Acto knife (Be careful not to cut on a soft surface).

2.Using 5-6 glue dots, glue the bunny on the canvas (the dots will peel right off when you are done).

3.Paint around the bunny stencil with the acrylic paint color of your choice.  Hold the paper down with your finger as you paint near the edges of the bunny so the paint doesn’t seep under the paper.  I did two coats of paint in blue.  When the paint dries, lift the bunny stencil off and peel off any remaining glue dots from the canvas.

4. Use the white paint to touch up any edges where the paint may have smudged on your white bunny. I painted my bunny white, but you could easily leave it and just use the white of the canvas.

5.Using scrapbook paper (I found small scraps of paper to use for this.), cut the triangle banners.  I cut the paper two inches long for this size canvas.

6.Use a gel pen or Sharpie to write the words on your banner.  You could laminate the paper or use contact paper to cover the triangles so they will hold up better.  I did not have this available for my project so I just used the paper.

7.Cut the ribbon to fit your canvas.  Leave some slack in the ribbon so it can drape down and have room to tape the ends in the back.

8.Use the needle or pin to poke a small hole at the top of the triangle and feed the ribbon through using the pin. I alternated threading the ribbon over the top and up through the back. (Honestly-this was the most challenging part of the whole project-feeding the ribbon through the tiny holes).

9. Tape the ends of the ribbon on back and use the glue dots to secure the triangles so they do not flip around.

The whole project took me about an hour from start to finish.  I used a Command Hook to hang it in our hallway and it makes me happy every time I see it!  I feel a sense of accomplishment at actually doing a craft and  I love the words on the print. It reminds me to take time to reflect, give thanks and REJOICE! during this blessed Easter season.

Thanks Jules for inspiring me to get crafty!

~Blessings,

Jen

Take Time to Get Lost in Your Thoughts!

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Sometimes I am amazed at how much technology we have available to us.  The possibilities are endless with social media, on-line news, shopping, games, e-books, Pinterest,  and blogs. We have many ways to communicate via the internet through modes such as e-mail, FaceTime or instant messaging.  Not to mention texting, tweeting and Instagram.  This list hits only the tip of the iceberg and I’m sure  more is coming our way.  If we let it, technology could literally consume our lives.

I do love many aspects of technology.  I have been able to re-connect with old friends and can share in the lives of family members that live across the country.  I love seeing the pictures of my friends and family and their children.  I also love being able to FaceTime with my niece and nephews who live far away.

At the risk of sounding like a “fuddy dud”, lately, I have found myself wondering when is it all too much?  I think that it is a personal decision for each individual, but I have been considering my own use of technology and wondering if I need to make a change.

I think some of my technology use has just become a habit. For instance, when I have a couple minutes to wait in a doctor’s office and I pull out my phone and mindlessly flip through social media or if I’m waiting for my daughter and I pull out my phone to check e-mail.  I am an avid reader, but have found technology slowly creeping in on my reading time.  I only have so many minutes before bed that I can actually stay awake and I find reading is being edged out.

Now if surfing social media and other sites is relaxing for you, I say go for it, but lately I have been finding myself feeling scattered and edgy.  Jules talked about being on “overload” in her last post and I’m wondering if technology overuse is contributing to my own feelings of being overwhelmed.  I don’t get the same feeling of peace from surfing the web as I do from reading a good book, crafting or spending time with my girls playing a game or just hanging out together.

The other thing that I find technology is robbing me of, is time to think.  Those moments I used to spend waiting in the car or in a doctor’s office used to allow me time to think and reflect.  In order to feel a sense of peace and calm, I need downtime to just think and reflect, anticipate and dream.  It is in those quiet moments that I may even hear the still small voice of God.

1 Kings 19:11-13 (KJV)

“11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?”

So lately, when I find myself with a few minutes of downtime, instead of reaching for my phone, I have been trying to spend that time just sitting quietly with my thoughts, looking around me, maybe even doing a little “people watching” (which is sometimes way more interesting than anything you would see on the internet!). After a few weeks of doing this, I have felt more in balance and have experienced a greater sense of peace in my daily life.  I want to be a good example to my girls, maybe if they see me stepping away from technology more often and taking some time to “think”, they will be inspired to do the same. We will be taking a family vacation this summer that will involve very little wifi/internet access.  I’m excited for this “forced” break from technology and have great hopes that we will all draw closer in our personal relationships and expand our thoughts and activities in tech -free ways. (I know, I know-I may be wishing for that technology after lots of tech free days together!)  I have high hopes!

What do you think?  Have we lost the art of being alone with our thoughts, taking time to just be still?

Okay, I’m signing off to go do some thinking!

~Blessings,
Jen

 

Summer Vacation Sanity Saver!

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Tomorrow is officially the first day of Summer, but many of you with school-age children have already started your summers with school ending for most students this week (Finally here in Michigan!  We all had a lot of snow days to make up!)  I am a teacher so I am very blessed to be able to enjoy lots of time with my kids during the summer.  Those endless days can seem pretty dreamy at the beginning of summer vacation, but I find that all too soon those free days result in restless kids hanging around saying they are bored, or the temptation of too much TV or electronics creep in.

I’ve seen a lot of ideas floating around on Pinterest that are great ways to schedule your child’s summer, but I wanted something a little simpler.  What if we just couldn’t make every Tuesday “Take a Day Trip” Day?  I just didn’t want to commit to that much of a schedule all summer long.

The first day of vacation I tried to just “go with the flow” and see how things went and it was okay for a little while, then Little One became grumpy when I asked her to do some chores and practice the piano.  She had not planned on that in her day!  It continued with endless requests to do things that were not really feasible at the time.  We both just seemed a little out of sorts.

So today I tried something different.  I knew we had things we had to get done, but I also wanted some time for fun.  So in about two minutes I wrote out a tentative list of how her day would go.  It included some chores and some school work (I know, I know-school work?  the teacher in me just can’t help myself!) as well as plenty of outdoor time and a bike ride with Mom.  Oldest has a full week of marching band practice and seems to keep pretty busy on her own, so only Little one got an agenda list. I presented it to Little One after breakfast and she read it over and got to work on the first item, no complaining or grumbling to be heard!  I think she really liked knowing what to expect from her day and the fun things to look forward to made the chores and schoolwork bearable.  We have already had to adjust the list a little because we had lots of outside time planned and it turned out to be a rainy day, but she was okay with some substitutions.  Instead of a bike ride, we may do a board game or art project.

I know this type of thing might not work for all families, but as a teacher, I find that most young kids do better with at least some structure.  Little One really liked checking things off of her list and I think she felt a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

How about you?  How do you fill the extra time at home during summer vacation?  We would love to hear your ideas.

~Blessings,

Jen

 

10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blahs!

The cold, ice and snow seem to have a strong grip on us this year here in Michigan and in many other parts of the country!  So if the weather is getting you down, I thought I would offer a helpful list of ways to distract yourself from the frigid temperatures and stir craziness of this winter.  So grab a hot cuppa something, browse this list and hopefully you will find something that inspires you and jolts you out of the Winter Blahs!

1. Haul out those old summer vacation photos, whether they be on your computer or in a photo book, and snuggle up on the sofa for a trip down memory lane!  Just looking at those photos of warm weather fun will bring a smile to your face and is a guaranteed feel good activity! Here is photo from my album of Little one enjoying the summer    4-H Fair!

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2. Get your “reggae” on!  Tune in to some tropical music on Pandora or another on-line music station, close your eyes and dream of the summer days that will eventually come around again, or get up and DANCE to it! Here is one of my personal favorites!

3.Hop on Pinterest and do a search for Spring or Summer Fashion!  It is like window shopping, without having to leave your house or spend any money!  Here are a couple of my favorites:

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4. Bring out the board games!  A good old fashioned game of Uno, Candy Land or Dominoes will distract you from the howling winds!

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5. If the temperature permits, bundle yourself up and go for a walk.  The still, soft quietness of a winter day can give us a feeling of calm and peace. (Picture by Jules)

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6. Follow that walk with a steaming hot cup of chocolate!  Go ahead and indulge, dark chocolate has been proven to offer some health benefits!  Here is a recipe for “Healthy Hot Chocolate”

7. Try to enjoy the TIME  these winter days give us.  Time with our families, to read a book, make a home cooked meal, watch a movie, do a craft, complete a project, or to just “be”.

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8.If you’ve looked at all of the summer vacation photos, move on to home movies!  The kids will love watching themselves when they were “little”.  Maybe you could even record some new movies!

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9. Doing something for someone else in need will ALWAYS make you feel better!

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10. Finally, make a list of five things you are thankful for!  The cold, winter days won’t be able to keep you down if your mind is on the blessings in your life!

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Hope you found something on the list to brighten your day!

~Blessings,

Jen