Easy Thanksgiving Decor on a Budget

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for inexpensive ways to decorate your house, especially when the holidays roll around. Every year since I’ve have been married, I have wanted to decorate for every holiday, but mainly Fall/Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m ashamed to say I’ve utterly failed in that department. Until last year, that is.

This year is my first “stay at home mommy” holiday season and I’m so excited! If only you could see inside my head – it’s filled with ideas for pretty much every area in my life (or room in the house that is) and I know I will never have the time or money to make my imagination a reality. A girl can dream, right?

PumpkinPineConeNavagation

Continue reading “Easy Thanksgiving Decor on a Budget”

Family Ties: Part 2

A few months ago, I wrote about how my husband, daughter, and I had moved into live with my in-laws. We did this for multiple reasons, of which you can read about here. Now, almost six months since I first wrote, and a grand total of eight months since moving in, I’ve decided an update is in order.

Other than the “normal” challenges of having a very active toddler getting into everything as she grows and moves through her learning stages, things haven’t really changed around here. Life is going along smoothly and for that I am grateful. Do I miss having a place of my own? Yes, most definitely. Sometimes when it’s just our little family at home in the evenings, I think about how I really want that all the time. Just the power to choose who is in the house, or whether or not the tv is on etc would be nice. Not that either of those things bring up problems for us, but sometimes I just like the quiet; it’s nice to have a calm and relaxing evening after a crazy day of chasing a toddler around (go figure). Even if it is not completely quiet and the room is filled with giggles as daddy instigates a tickle fight, it’s still more peaceful to me than a sports game being viewed on the TV. Continue reading “Family Ties: Part 2”

Community is Good for the Soul

Friday night was one of those nights I sat there in awe wondering, “how can I be so blessed?” Like many people my age, I don’t have family closer than 3.5 hours away and am not married. That means that my life could be pretty lonely. It means that I could feel like I have no one to call in an emergency. But as I sat in my home Friday night and looked around, I was overwhelmed with the very fact that my friends are my family here in Chicagoland. That at any point if crisis or need I could call on a number of them and I know they would be there.

Small Group From Church
My church Small Group’s Halloween party

In today’s society we want everything instant and we often shy away from deep. Deep means you risk the chance of getting hurt. Deep means that people won’t always see that perfect selfie, but rather people may see the tear-stained face that comes after a pretty tough couple of weeks. Deep means that your answer to the question “How are you?” isn’t always, “I’m good.” Rather at times, you can look at someone and honestly say, “you know, it kind of sucks at this moment.” Continue reading “Community is Good for the Soul”

Being You

Friday was the day of great revelries with costumes, candies, and corpses. The one day of the year when you are allowed to be what you are not. Or is it?

husband eating #baconcorndog #glutenfree #cheater #ilovefood #irony
Husband eating #baconcorndog #glutenfree #cheater #ilovefood #irony

In today’s society of electronic media and online social networking, we can be whomever we want to be at any time. Everyone has the tools to be a celebrity – perfect selfies, enlightening foodie shots, posting statuses perfectly crafted to make every moment as dramatic as possible. That is what people see. That is what we want people to see. But it isn’t everything. Continue reading “Being You”

Halloween Party Mix

Not only is it Friday, it also just so happens to be one of my favorite holidays. IT’S HALLOWEEN!

“…This is Halloween, Halloween, Halloween…” (The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993)

Halloween, for me, has so many fond memories. We would have family parties where would be contests of which family had the best costumes. The creativity really flowed. We would try to come up with the biggest and best costumes because that was totally awesome. I mean, if you didn’t have a great costume then you weren’t really celebrating Halloween properly. Continue reading “Halloween Party Mix”

A Salute to Ebola Care Nurses

I’m presently watching the 60 Minutes special on Ebola, listening to nurses who took care of Thomas Duncan and hearing about their experiences caring for the first patient diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the United States. It’s hitting really close to home.

nursing, family, Ebola, patient care

As a nurse, I have had many friends ask me, “would you take care of the patient if they were in your hospital?” Currently I don’t work in a hospital and am an oncology nurse (always have been), which means that even in the hospital I would have never be faced with this decision. I will (in a hospital environment) work on a floor with immunocompromised patients. Here is the thing, though: I would without hesitation take care of that patient. I am a nurse; caring for patients – for people – is what I do. Continue reading “A Salute to Ebola Care Nurses”

DIY Bird Feeder: So easy, a Toddler can do it!

It’s that time of year again; time to break out the pumpkin spices and pie pans and decorate your porch with pumpkins. I love fall. I really do. If it was up to me, I would have only fall and summer as seasons. Along with fall, comes many fun crafts that you can do with your kids. My daughter is a couple of months away from turning 2 so I have to get creative when I think about what her skill level is right now. Today, we made some fun little bird feeders!

These are very simple to make and seriously only took us about 10 minutes (TOPS!) to complete. You will need:

  • bird seed (I chose the “wild bird food” since it would be outside and the off brand only cost $5 for a huge bag)
  • peanut butter
  • pine cones
  • yarn or twine

First thing you want to do is cut a length or your yarn or twine and attach it to the pine cone. I intertwined it and tied a knot using the middle of my twine and left the two ends open for when we hang it in a tree. Then spread peanut butter onto the pine cone.

pbpineconeAfter we were done and my daughter had difficulty spreading the peanut butter, my mother-in-law had a great idea: warm up the peanut butter and then have your child dip the cone into it! Or roll it in a pan! Genius! So that’s definitely on my “next time” list for this craft.

lylahelppinecone

Your next step is to cover the pine cone in bird seed. We started with my daughter holding the string and dipping it into the bowl, but she had more fun using the spoon. Whichever method you use, you want bird seed in all the nooks and crannies. And there you have it! Super easy, inexpensive, and fun, bird feeders! And they are so simple, even a toddler can do it! What is you/your child’s favorite fall craft? Tomorrow we are off to the apple orchard to pick some apples! Another amazing thing to do in the fall! Thanks for reading 🙂

pinceconefeeders

A Peek into the Life of Vegans

I am always trying to find a new recipe that not only tastes great but is also super healthy for my family. I look for recipes that contain little to no processed ingredients and lots of veggies. Recently, my husband came home from work talking about how he had a salad for lunch and how he even made it “vegan”. In response, I was a little confused as I didn’t realize we were TRYING  to go vegan; sure we try to not eat a ton of meat but attempting to cut out all animal products had never come up in our house. Well, as of this past Saturday, we decided try it out. For those of you who don’t know, according to vegan.org

 “a vegan (pronounced VEE-gun) is someone who, for various reasons, chooses to avoid using or consuming animal products. While vegetarians choose not to use flesh foods, vegans also avoid dairy and eggs, as well as fur, leather, wool, down, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on animals.”

Along with the health benefits, veganism also has to do with animal rights; vegans are against animal cruelty and so they do not want to consume anything that might have harmed an animal in the process. Am I for animal cruelty? No, however I have no problem eating a hamburger or a slice of cheese. Our main goal here is health. We had been trying to make it to the gym frequently but were finding it difficult due to the usual business of life, hence the oh-so-original idea of “if you can’t work it off, don’t put it in” idea was formed. Yes, we will try and continue to be active (we have an almost two-year-old who definitely helps with that HA!), but if we eat better, then our bodies will function better and do what they are supposed to do.

So, I have been scouring the internet and my recipe books to find either vegan recipes or regular recipes that I can leave out the animal products to make it vegan. Can I just say that this is extrememly hard for me because I LOVE cheese….and I LOVE to bake and you use a lot of animal products in baking. Sigh…the things I do for love. While we are only on day three, both my husband and I have been relatively satisfied with the meals I have prepared. 20140803_135839[1]On Sunday we had lentil wraps from The Garden Grazer (The picture of the filling). My hubby- who comes from a picky eating background – actually thought they were alright. They are a hearty wrap full of wonderful goodness…definitely try them out.

Sunday dinner was a black bean/corn taco salad bowl. I just made this recipe up as I went: threw in black beans, corn, diced tomatoes, chopped green peppers, just a tad of diced onions. I then sauteed it all for a few minutes along with a pinch of homemade taco seasoning. To serve, I made a bed of chopped lettuce (you could really use any mix of greens here: lettuce, kale, spinach, etc.) then scooped on the black bean mixture. 20140803_191455[1]Topped it all off with some diced fresh tomatoes, salsa, and some chopped hot peppers (for the hubby). Used corn tortilla chips to scoop the mixture or crushed them and ate it all like a typical taco salad. We were very happy with the results.

On Monday I served up a favorite but with white beans subbed for chicken: One Pot Pasta!

20140804_184231[1]You can find this recipe on multiple sites but the specific one I used was from Apron Strings. I steamed up some green beans and made some Honeyed Carrots (this is not the exact recipe I used since I sauteed them on the stove, didn’t use butter, and seasoned with dried thyme, but it’s close enough. I can’t even remember where I got my recipe from- its been too long!) to go along with the pasta. I had some left over Overnight Bread that I  made a few days ago that went well too. Altogether a great vegan meal.

Tuesday was a great day; started off with berry oatmeal! 20140805_094418[1]I made the oatmeal on the stove with half almond milk and half water for the liquids. During the last minute of cook time, I added blueberries and chopped strawberries.  For some sweetener, I stirred in some “brown sugar” sauce (put approx 1 cup brown sugar in pot and add water until sugar is covered. Boil for about 5 minutes, let sit for a minute). I also sprinkled some shredded coconut on top. My young daughter and I loved it! Lunch was leftovers with some sauteed mushrooms atop my pasta. And dinner consisted of a huge salad – with more homemade bread (best wheat bread recipe I have ever made) from Pennies & Pancakes.

So far, we have enjoyed our food and not really missed our usual diet. I have to say though, it is hard to pass up the cheese or yogurt that is still in our fridge – I LOVE yogurt and granola! And I’m not interested in finding vegan substitutes (I mean, WHAT is in them if it’s not dairy etc? I don’t think I want to know). I will post an update next week with any more cool recipes we try so definitely check back next week! Will we continue this long term? My husband is committed but I’m more of the vegetarian mindset, or even Nutritarian Lifestyle suggested by Dr. Fuhrman so who even knows.

Have you ever tried drastically changing your diet? How did it go? Did you stick with it? We would love to hear about your experiences!

Disclaimer: I am in no way discounting animals or those who fight to protect them, I am merely stating my opinion that I think it’s ok to use animal products. I don’t believe in animal cruelty and would love to see changes in the world regarding how animals are treated in the consumption industry. 

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