Saturday, August 31, 2013

Things I'm digging right now. ..

First things . . . I originally started this blog post yesterday morning while sitting in the early morning quiet of my home.   The kids were still sleeping soundly.  My workout was done.   It was wonderful.  I typed a paragraph and BAM. . . the peace, the quiet, the solitude. . . gone.  Ahh, the life of a mom!

Tonight, I am sitting here at a table in the basement where my oldest is attempting to fall asleep in the next room.  Every creak from people walking above us is an excuse.  He's tired, I'm tired.  I am hoping (and praying!) it won't be long!  We are on our annual get-a-way weekend with family.  There is fun to be had!   It's the perfect time to blog. . . waiting for your kid to fall asleep so you can go and join the rest of the adults for some kid-free fun!

So, here are my Friday Favorites for you. . . a bit late.  But, before I begin, I am proud to say, that I uncovered my house from the funk that was brought on by having a kid in school (that's what I accomplished this week!).

1.  Meet the newest member to my kitchen family:
Seriously, I have been in love since I found it last year when I was spending my free money from Sur la Table.  I had used my coupon then to purchase another Joseph Joseph product and toyed with buying this instead.  I have had it in my wishlist and I haven't gotten it yet, so I bought it.  It rocks!  It twists flat so that storing is awesome, but it is very sturdy.  Mine is colorful. . . because I am a huge fan of  color!  If you've never used a Joseph Joseph product, I highly recommend trying it out. . . so worth it (and reasonable, too!).

2.  My Paper Pumpkin welcome kit finally arrived!  It was like Christmas!  I can't wait to share all about it next week. . . seriously I was able to be whisked away to happy land, without leaving my house or making a huge mess.  It was a win win!  And, I got to be creative!  I can't wait to share with you what came in the box and my cool projects!  

3.  Lemonade.
I am so in love with lemonade.  It have been my celebratory drink each night after the kids go to bed.  I love to stick fresh strawberries or raspberries in it, for even a better treat!  My favorite is Simply Lemonade.  I've tried other brands and even have tried some fancy labels like this and was not impressed. . . something about combining grape juice and apple juice doesn't do it for me.  

Oh and a little tid bit, if you are serving lemonade at a party (even the Country Time kind!).  Pour some vanilla in it for a delicious twist!  It has wowed many a guests since a friend and I tried it out!   I promise. . . it's awesome!

And that's it for now. . . my favorite instagram I will share Monday. . . because I want to go enjoy some adult conversations while the kiddos are sound asleep.  

Have a happy Labor Day!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to School: A Wrap Up

The first day of school was huge milestone for our family.  Our first started school for the first time. ever.  (I probably mentioned that a few times in the previous posts!).  We chose to homeschool for preschool and that was fun!  I was able to use my background in education and he was able to get a pretty good early education for. . . pretty much nothing!  It was a win-win in our house.  This year, he went off to school. . . 5 days a week. . . almost all day.  It's pretty awesome!
 Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but it's so nice to have him learning and growing. . . away from me.  He is developing his independence as an almost 5 year old and loving it!  (THIS KID LOVES SCHOOL!!).   I am loving the time I get to spend with my blonde little one.  We are spending lots of time eating cinnamon crunch bagels and playing with trains.  We have even started a bit of Mommy School, which is starting out with a literacy Bear Themed unit and some crafts/activities that bring about creativity but also work with fine motor skills.  We will be transitioning to Letter of the Week in a few months. . . but first we have to potty train.  :)  I absolutely LOVE this time (I may rethink this in a few weeks when potty training)!  

Don't worry, I get super antsy around 1 because I just cannot wait to pick up Ethan from school!  I love it.  I love his excitement towards everything about school.  It's great!
 For school, we spent a lot of time praying about how and where to educate our children.  The more we prayed about it the more we felt that our local elementary school was the answer.  I knew I didn't want to home school beyond the preschool years unless it was absolutely necessary.  We didn't really have the finances to spend on private school (food or education?).  But, we are blessed to have an amazing school just a short walk from our house (Awesome!).  I can't begin to tell you how within the first week, I just felt a wave of joy/giddiness because I knew this was where God wanted us.  Before Ethan started school, my window of "ministry" should we say, was pretty much limited to church. . . that was my social life was.  Now, I am meeting new moms and many of them may not know God.  What an awesome opportunity!  Ethan's teacher is a Christian, which is a huge plus.  But, we also really love the opportunity for Ethan to be able to let his little light shine.
I am also looking forward to being able to bless and encourage our children's teachers this year.  I LOVED that when I taught in the private school system.  I am looking forward to the many possibilities that this year has to offer!  

Here's the links to the rest of the series:

What were some of the highlights of your first week?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back to School: Getting up & Going to bed

I cannot begin to describe the exhaustion that the first week of school brought upon me.  I think it had a lot to do with adjusting my schedule to get up and run before the kids get up (yes. . . I'm crazy!).  But, despite being exhausted, I am really enjoying our schedule.   It's weird having Ethan gone most of the day, every day.  But, it is so neat to watch him enjoy school and want to go (although, by the end of the week, I was hearing, "I have to go again?").

In order to help us transition to having to actually leave in the mornings and get out the door in more than T-shirt and jeans, scraggly hair, and unbrushed teeth and even then, be running late, I created some checklists for Ethan and had them laminated at one of the Office supply stores in town (they run a lot cheaper for both color copies and laminating then Kinkos).
I even made one to help at bedtime (which often reminds me of this).  These have worked wonders for getting us out the door and into bed.  He already had a pack of the Crayola dry-erase markers and he uses those (they are awesome, btw!)  We keep them on the refigerator ready for him to grab in the morning or before bed.  I really love how bright and colorful they are, and the lamination is the thick kind. . . speaking of laminating. . . I think I want a laminator.  I might have a problem.  You won't judge. . . I know that.  Some of you might even join me in that desire.
I love the pictures!  It was fun finding the perfect one for each check item.

What strategies to you use (or did you use) to get your kids up and 
ready in order to be on time for school?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back 2 School: Snacks

So first of all. . . I am pooped.  Seriously, this first week of school.ever has me exhausted.  It's not like it's crazy or anything, but this new routine is taking some time to get used to.  Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday!  Anyone out there doing a happy dance (come on, don't be shy!)?  It might be the fact, that in order to get my kids up and out the door to walk to school, I also need to be up and ready.  That being said, I decided that I am much more awake if I get a run in before the kids get up.  So, the alarm goes off before 6 and I go and see the sunrise.  By the time I pick Ethan up at 1:30, I am exhausted, he's exhausted and in dire need of a snack.  I don't know how it is in your house, but usually chocolate milk accompanied by a snack saves us from any potential meltdown that may be brewing.  
 Granola bars are a staple in our house.  My husband takes them every day in his lunch.  Everyone snacks on them.  After awhile, I observed how many granola bars we were going through.  That, and Weston has a milk and soy allergy, and apparently they put soy in EVERYTHING!  That makes it sooooo difficult to buy prepackaged foods (who knew that soy products would work as a preservative?)  So, I started making these, because they were just so awesome!  My husband likes them better than Quaker, and in my house, no one gets sick eating them.
 Another thing I like about them, is that they take about 5 minutes to make, and the majority of that time is spent doing other things. . . so I can whip up a batch while I am fixing dinner if I need to.  I do like to make them earlier in the day, so that they can set/firm up before cutting them into bars.  Look how pretty they look?  Yeah, I don't do that everyday.  My husband would be too embarrassed.  I stick them in the snack sized ziplock bags and then thrown them into our granola bar canister that sits on our counter.
So, I leave you with the recipe (which you can find all over Pinterest with the same base. . . it's pretty awesome!

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
via Pinterest

1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup rice krispy cereal
mini chocolate chips

In a small sauce pan, melt butter, honey, and sugar together.  Let it come to a boil for 2 minutes.  Take off heat and add vanilla.  I never measure, but it's about 1 tsp.

In a large bowl, combine oatmeal and cereal together.  Pour sugar mix over the top and stir to combine.  Pour into a greased 9x9inch pan and press firmly down.  Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the top and press down firmly.  Let sit for several hours before cutting them into bars.  Store in zip lock bags.

Enjoy!  I hope you are surviving your week!  How do you survive the first week of school?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Back to School, part 2

We have made it through the second day of school! I am exhausted. I am having fun having a kid in school.  He has a great teacher and is at a great school!  Today, I realized that I had become one like my former student's moms.  I dropped my son off on the playground and then stood outside in the parking lot and talked with other moms.  As a former teacher, I must confess. . . I really LOVE being on the parents side of things.  I love making the lunches (Bento boxes are awesome and might even require a post!).  

But, seriously as a former teacher, I understand how much work is is getting ready for the first day. Intertwined with the excitement of the first day, a teacher is exhausted from late nights, long hours just prepping for the year!  In my son's teacher's position, she is having to start a program, basically from scratch.  This is the first year, that TK programs have been implemented in most of the schools and they still don't have their curriculum (don't get me started on that!).  When, I taught at a public school, the parents were "okay." I am not going to lie. . . teaching was a job and I was lucky to get a parent teacher conference, so at Christmas and end of the year, I was surprised when I received a clothespin ornament.  Teaching at a private school was a completely different story.  Parents were involved, they became family. . . a family that I still love and am thankful for Facebook that I can still keep in touch with both the students and families!  These parents were the kind that would drop anything to make sure my classroom needs were met.  They supplied above and beyond what was needed. . . and even better, sometimes brought me Starbucks (thanks for that, parents! It rocked my world!).  
 So, this year, I decided that my child's teacher will feel loved on and encouraged (even on the days where my son doesn't behave (which I hope that is a rarity!).  Lately Pinterest is flooding with ideas for first day of school gifts for teachers.  Now, I've been out of the teaching world for 5 years now (has it really been that long!?!?!), but I don't remember this happening. ever.  It's such a wonderful idea!  It doesn't even take a lot of money to provide a teeny tiny bit of encouragement and love on the person who is teaching/loving/and taking care of your child 5 to 6 hours a day.
 I went to Target and bought this glass container (4 dollars! Cheaper than a Starbucks card!) and baked some cookies.  Okay. . . I pulled some dough out of the freezer and baked them.  I wasn't sure if it was going to happen since our oven was playing tricks on us, but my husband fixed it and we can bake again!  I made the tag using my Creative Memories software, and if you want a copy, I will send you the link (for free! . . because I want you to be able to bless your child's teacher!).
I made these cookies to put in it.  They are so yummy!

What cookies would you put in the jar?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back 2 School time

Well, we did it!  We made it through our first day of school. ever.  There were no tears, no melt downs. . . just a giddy excitement that made for a very fun, uneventful morning!  
I didn't cry.  I didn't think I would.  I have been waiting for this moment for awhile.  It's time for this boy to fly. . . and fly he will.  He didn't cry. . . I may have been secretly dissapointed that he would miss me (shhh. . . don't tell anyone).  We have spent the last 5 years preparing for the moment for our oldest to go to school.  This wasn't something I wasn't in a hurry for (trust me the years have gone by so quickly!), but I knew it had to come.  Our job as parents is to teach our children to become confident, independent little people, right?
We may have even celebrated ourselves this morning and gone out to breakfast with friends.  Yep, we survived and I am so excited to see what God has in store for this year and beyond.  It is so exciting to see how God is molding our children with their curious personalities and loving hearts!  It is my prayer that Ethan's joy is contagious and he makes friends and shares God's love with other kids at his school.
Awww. . I just love this kid!  So in honor of the first week of school, I will be blogging all week with some fun back to school things that are happening in our house.  So, the first thing is my first digital 1st day of school sign.  I made one for transitional kindergarten, but if you want a copy (free), I will change the date and grade for you.  Just message me your email and info.

I hope that wherever you are in the whole first week of school realm (i.e. started already, just starting, or still enjoying summer) that you are having a blessed week!

What's your favorite part of going back to school?

Monday, August 12, 2013

homemade ice cream {Dairy free}

I'm not going to lie. Having a milk allergy stinks! Milk is in EVERYTHING!  I am not kidding!  And during the summer, when everybody is enjoying ice cream (which is one of my favorite things), it is not fun to sit back and watch dreaming of something yummy.  I will confess, being allergic to milk is not bad when I am eating from my pantry and making my own food.  And, it's awesome that you can buy a pint of SoDelicisous coconut milk ice cream in a variety of flavors. . . especially since Target starting selling it.  But, it's just so stinking expensive!  And, if you follow my on facebook or instagram, you will remember that I attempted to make whipped cream out coconut milk and coconut cream and that was an epic failure.  So, I had a can of coconut milk open and a can of coconut cream out, so what better thing to so. . . make ice cream!
I looked at a couple of recipes (via Pinterest!), but they all seemed to just use canned coconut milk.  I know that ice cream requires a certain amount of milk fat in order to  make the perfect consistency of ice cream, so I modified my recipe a bit.  I used 1 can of coconut milk and 1 can of coconut cream and the result was amazing!  Plus, it costs roughly 4 dollars to make, and makes 2 1/2 times more than that pint you can buy at the store!  I am super loving it!
Coconut Milk Vanilla Ice Cream

1 can Coconut milk (not the light kind)
1 can Coconut Cream
1 1/2 to 2 cups of sugar

In a small saucepan, heat cream and milk.  Whisk in sugar and heat until sugar is dissolved.  Stir occasionally.  When sugar is dissolved, add in vanilla.  I didn't measure this out and probably poured in between 2 and 3 tsp.  Mine, didn't have as much of a coconut flavor, and had more of a vanilla tone, which really helped when adding other ingredients.  

Pour into a bowl and cover (my Pampered Chef Batter Bowl worked awesome!) and refrigerate 
overnight.  I used my electric ice cream mixer and keep the base in the freezer for times like this.  If you are new to this idea, you need to have the base part in the freezer for at least 3 days for optimal freezing time.  

After your mixture has been refrigerating overnight, go ahead and take your ice cream base out of the freezer, hook it all up and pour your mixture in.  I use these to keep my ice cream in the freezer.  They work perfect.  Often times, the cheap ziplock or glad brands get cold and become brittle and crack, these don't.  

Enjoy ice cream making!  

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

I think I am slightly incredibly obsessed with chocolate chip cookies.  I can't get enough of them.  My favorite time to eat them is when they are fresh out of the oven. . . oh, the soft and gooey deliciousness (seriously drooling now as I type this).  It may explain why I tend to freeze most of the cookie dough that I make so that we can have fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies at any time.  It may actually keep me from eating them all day, too.   It's a win-win.  
 I've never stayed at a Doubletree Hotel before.  They make cookies?  Hmmm. . . may need to consider it sometime.  They have a copycat recipe?  Are they really that good?  I think I am up for the challenge to try them out.  Yep!  Amazing!  I think you should try them.  Really. . . I do.  Add them to your collection of chocolate chip cookie recipes.  I did (and believe me, I have quite the collection of chocolate chip cookie recipes!).

This recipe was not like most of the other chocolate chip cookie recipes.  Nope.  This one was a bit different.  I had everything to make it.  All the ingredients were things I keep stocked in my kitchen.  I really had no excuse, which didn't really matter.  I was curious.  Lemon Juice?  Cinnamon?  These were so yummy. . . (I mentioned that, right?).

Before I go on. . . these cookies need to have some fridge time before baking.  I highly recommend doing the dough the night before you want to bake them or first thing in the morning.  However, it is REALLY hard to stay out of the dough.  Trust me!
Double Tree Chocolate Chip Cookies (Copycat)
Source: The little kitchen

1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup unsalted butter, softenend
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 cups chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts (I didn't add these)


Pulse oatmeal in a food processor until semi fine.  I used my manual processor for this and it was perfect!  Set the oatmeal aside til later.

Add butter, both sugars, vanilla, and lemon juice to a large mixing bowl.  Cream together with an electric mixer.  Add eggs one at a time, until smooth.  Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl at least once.

Slowly add dry ingredients and and mix until combined.  These cookies shouldn't be overmixed.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop cookie dough on properly lined baking sheet (I recommend a silpat).  Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 ours and then bake them. 

350 degrees for 14ish minutes.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

In progress

I am slowly making progress on things.  There are a lot of different projects going on that I should probably make a list.  In the meantime, I will show you what I've been up to.
I've been working on this for awhile.  It is my "waiting" project.  I took this last week with me to our church's Xtreme Family Adventure and worked on it while I listened to the awesome speaker.  I am super excited about our small group starting up this coming weekend with more on Visionary Parenting.
I whipped up a batch of these muffins last night.  Oh, so yummy!  And the Peanut Butter. . . oh, I could just eat it by the spoonfulls!  No joke!
It's our first Back to School Season, although don't let the pile of school supplies fool you.  There's more. . . I'm a bit obsessed.  The teacher in me get's all hoardish this time of the year.  Thank goodness we use everything, though!  I am waiting to get more when things get marked down.  It's when I stock up on construction paper and other things.  

My hubby let me sign up for Paper Pumpkin!  I am so excited for inspiration to be delivered to my door each month!  The whole no mess aspect. . . totally awesome.  However, I ALWAYS make a mess, so I am a bit skeptical.  But, seriously stoked here!
My mom dropped off some goodies and I found this.  Apparently, it had my name on it.  I'm good with that.  I really wish I had a girl, though. . . I don't think my boys would really appreciate doll clothes for Christmas (ha ha).  I remember my mom staying up late one year to sew my sister, cousin, and I all these awesome clothes.  Now I have the patterns. . . does anyone even buy their kids cabbage patch kids anymore?  I still have mine. . . maybe she need new clothes?

And finally an instagram. . . our little lamb (his lovey) was delivered to us after being on vacation on vacation with the grandparents last week (oops!).  This was taken right before he fell asleep at naptime today. . . seriously LOVE this kid!

Friday, August 02, 2013

So you want to start a blog . . . {part 2}

2 weeks ago, I wrote this post about how to start a blog.  Then, I left those of you eager and excited to go on vacation (sorry, about that!).  But, now I am back and ready to help out.

By now, you have probably done some great research on the different blog hosts out there.  I hope you picked on.  I use blogger, so I will be using that as a reference, because that's where most of my knowledge lies.  If you've picked your host out, I hope that you've been playing around with it and getting used to your hosts options.

1.  Set up an account.  At this point, you will have to hand over your email address, make a username, password, and create your domain (that's your web address. . . where people find you). Also, make sure you enable your mobile device. . . it will turn your blog site into mobile device friendly site.  Super nice, for those readers who sometimes read on their phone.

2.  Play.  I highly recommend playing with it and getting used to your hosts program.  There are a lot of options out there.  I learn best from playing with things, and I confess, I rarely read the directions when using a program.  Playing with the functions of your blog is the best way to find out and be comfortable with your host.

3.  Create a design.  At this point, you probably aren't going to get all creative and create one on your own (I will get to that another time).  I recommend these free sites:

Cutest Blog on the Block gives you a great selection of free templates, backgrounds, banners, etc.  to decorate your blog.  It also has really good tutorials to tell you how to use them within blogger and WordPress.

Lee-Lou Blogs has some really good free resources for your blog including templates.  She also has some easy to understand tutorials.  There aren't as many templates for free compared to Cutest Blog on the Block, but it's a really good source.

Shabby Blogs has a good selection of free templates and backgrounds.  I haven't used this one primarily as it's not really my style, but it seems to be pretty popular.

And, depending on your host, you probably have a number of templates that they provide for you.  It is completely up to you.

4.  Arrange the Layout of your blog.  Are you going to have 2 or 3 columns?  One column is always your blog content, the other is all the other random stuff you put on your side bar.  If you are using blogger, that would be under Layout, when you on your dashboard.  You can download some gadgets.  Really, the key is to explore and play and figure things out so that you are comfortable with it.  Whatever you pick now does not mean you are stuck.  You can always go give your blog a face lift at anytime.  I do!

I am going to leave this blog post for now at this point in blog creating.  It can be a bit overwhelming to some, and to others you are going to have so much fun playing that you will realize you should have been in bed hours ago.  Trust me. . . it happens.  Let me know if you have any questions. . . there is NEVER a stupid question.


Thursday, August 01, 2013

Pinterest Fever. . . and where to find me. :)

Confession:  I love Pinterest.  For awhile, it kept me busy on the elliptical, but I've moved on to Once Upon a Time on Netflix. . . it makes a workout go so quickly!  But, my love of all things Pinterest continues.  It is a source of inspiration, ideas, recipes, crafts, workouts, you name it. . . it's probably there.

But, you probably all ready knew that.  In fact, you probably share the same love.  In fact, maybe even Pinterest brought you here. . . if that's the case, welcome!  I am so glad you are here!

Another Confession:  I love it when people pin my stuff.  Seriously.  It is a huge compliment to me.
This pin has been pinned and repinned a number of times in the past week, and seriously. . . shocking!  But, I got so excited that I had to share!  People out there that I have never, ever, met are reading my blog.  Sorry, I may be doing a happy dance here!
Oh, and this recipe was good!  I remember making these. . . in my tiny apartment kitchen not long after Ethan was born.  I blogged them. . . and forgot about them.  Yep, that's how I roll.

I've been kind of busy. . . you know having another kid, keeping them alive, making sure food is on the table. . . among other things.

So, a big thank you to the people that are visiting, pinning, and hopefully reading.  I do hope you come back for another visit.

You can find this recipe here, in it's original post.

You can also find me (and follow me, if you want) on Pinterest here.

I can also be found over at Facebook on the page, Out of the Right Brain.   Come and like my Facebook page.

I am also on Instagram (Jolieklassen) or search the hashtag #outoftherightbrainblog

You can also leave comments. . . I LOVE it when people leave comments!  (hint hint).

So, I think I am going to use this happy dance energy and go work on some projects . . . you know, so I have something to blog about. :)

Have a wonderful day!


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