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Friday, September 28, 2018

Kindness Scavenger Hunt Family Activity

Friday nights are our favorite. This week we went on a scavenger hunt. In case you haven't heard, scavenger hunts are the latest trend in Family Night activities. Scavenger hunts are awesome team building and they make you think outside the box, in addition to being a great way to get out and have fun while creating happy memories that will last a lifetime. Our Family outing this week was not just any old scavenger hunt... we added a twist to the challenge from yesterday's post. We hosted a kindness hunt.

We invited a few families from our neighborhood to join in, which made it so much more fun!

We started out at our house where each team was instructed to return back in 90 minutes the team who had completed the most random acts of kindness was the winner. With our lists in hand, we loaded into our cars and we were off.

Living in a bigger city gave us a lot of options to start. We decided that we would go to Walmart since it is always busy and we knew it would be a great way to have access to a lot of people.

It was a brilliant idea!! We went through our list kind of fast, and since we are pretty competitive, we doubled up on checking some things off and then added our own kindness ideas. I think it was especially successful because we all had to think outside the box to come up with creative ways to make other people feel happy.

After we all returned back to our house, we had ice cream and talked about what we had done. I would highly recommend this activity. It was a blast and we were able to help a lot of people without spending a lot of money.

I'd love to hear from you! If you try this activity, tell me how it goes!

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and/or make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you, You can find my full disclosure statement HERE**

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Six Random Acts of Kindness That Are Totally Free

In a world where there is so much sorrow, there is a definite need for sunshine. Our little family accepted a challenge to share kindness everywhere we went. It became almost like a game. It all started about a month ago when we went to Walmart. My daughter noticed that almost everyone looked stressed, tired, and... kinda grumpy. She Said, "We should see how many people will smile back if we smile at them first!" Then my son added that there needed to be a winner, everyone agreed. The first person to get 20 people to smile at them would get to choose dessert.

We continued shopping and my kids smiled, made eye contact with people, gave genuine, heartfelt compliments, and waved at babies and kids. We got over a hundred people to smile back at us that day and, BONUS (!) we went to Wendy's for Frosties afterward. It was a super fun experiment that 1) made my shopping experience a lot more enjoyable and 2) made my children think of other people and how their actions affected their feelings. In the end, everyone was a winner.

Every time I think of that experience at Walmart, I think of this quote:

And I absolutely think it is true. The world would be a lot more lovely place if we would all lose ourselves in the caring of those around us. So today I am extending my daughters challenge to you. I challenge you to see how many people you can make smile. Your acts of service may be the thing that brightens someone's outlook on life and could even be a chain reaction of goodness. One smile, one kind word is all it takes.

In case your not sure where to start, I have a list of six simple random acts of kindness that are effective and won't cost you a single cent. 

1.  Smile. Simply smiling at someone can brighten your mood as well as theirs. Eye contact is pretty important, too. Smiles are always free and very effective.

2. Allow someone to go ahead of you at checkout We all know how it feels to be stuck behind a long line of people when you are trying to get out of the grocery store. It's a lovely feeling when someone offers you their spot. It is a small and simple gesture that goes a long way and is often very appreciated. 

3. Give a stranger a compliment This is actually one of my most favorite things to do. If I see someone wearing a cute outfit or if I think their hair is especially pretty I will make an effort to tell them so. Everyone likes unsolicited compliments. I love seeing faces light up when they receive a true, heartfelt compliment. Give it a try. 

4. Read to a child/sibling/or at a care center Reading is a great way to serve others. It will only cost you your time. Helping foster a love of learning is a wonderfully rewarding way to show love and kindness. You could even contact your local library and see if they will allow you to volunteer your time reading.

5. Volunteer at a soup kitchen There is always a need for volunteers. It's a great way to meet and connect with new people and hear about their lives. 

6. Return a cart for someone in a store parking lot I remember being a new mom with my tiny baby. It was cold outside and he was crying. I was trying to hurry to load the groceries in the car while consoling him when a kind woman came up to me and helped me not only put the groceries in my car but then took the cart back inside for me. To her, it was probably no big deal, but on that day it meant the world to me. 

There are so many opportunities for service and kindness all around you. I would love to hear yours! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Simple Chicken Noodle Soup

Cooler weather means more time indoors. For us, it also means allergies and feeling icky.  Luckily, I have a wonderful (and simple) chicken noodle recipe that is absolutely perfect for when we're feeling a little under the weather. You can toss everything EXCEPT the noodles in the crockpot or make it on the stove. Either way, it's just what the doctor ordered.

You will need:
2-3 chicken breasts
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt (more or less to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 package egg noodles, cooked.

Toss everything **EXCEPT noodles** into the crockpot.  Cook on low 6-8 hours. Just before serving, cook noodles per package instructions and then add to soup. Remove chicken breasts, shred, and return to soup. Salt and pepper to taste.

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and/or make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you, You can find my full disclosure statement HERE**

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Peach Beehive Dessert

Since moving to Georgia, We have probably eaten our weight in peaches. Peaches are serious business here. There are these cute little fruit stands that will pop up sporadically all over the place. The peaches we have purchased from these stands have been the sweetest, drip-down-your-chin juiciest, most delicious fruit you can imagine. Not to mention the peaches here are so big, they're pretty much a meal!

Although I could eat peaches fresh from the tree all day, I also really love using them in recipes! One of our most favorite new recipes is the Peach Beehive Dessert Bundles recipe I'm sharing with you today. It's a tasty a nod to both places we have lived. Utah, the Beehive State, and Georgia the Peach State. Peach Beehives are a perfect balance of tart, salty, and sweet. They are absolutely beautiful and taste like they are from a fancy Gourmet restaurant. My favorite part is that they are almost effortless to make.

 Today, for the sake of simplicity, we are going to be using refrigerated dough. However, It would be even better with a homemade crust, if you have extra time and are feeling fancy.

You will need:
One box (two pie crusts) store-bought refrigerated pie crust dough
3-5 peaches
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
dash cloves
dash ginger

Preheat oven to 400. Unroll dough and cut into one inch wide strips. Rinse peaches, leaving them wet. With the skins still on and starting at the bottom, wrap strips of pie crust all the way around the peaches, covering completely. Mix sugar and spices together, roll peach beehive bundles around in the mixture coating evenly. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until pie crust is golden and fully cooked.

About ten minutes before your peaches are done, you will want to start on the vanilla sauce. It's the best part, in my opinion. 

You'll need:
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in powdered sugar and cream, stirring until smooth. Add vanilla. When peaches are fresh from the oven and still very hot, spoon vanilla sauce over the top of each peach. Serve with a small scoop of Vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with cinnamon.

These smell amazing when they are in the oven and the flavor is out of this world! Impress your friends and family with this faux gourmet dessert tonight! 
Happy Baking!

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and/or make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you, You can find my full disclosure statement HERE**

Monday, September 24, 2018

Reading Time Monday: Best Books for Teen Guys

We are on Fall Break from school this week and we have a ton of fun things going on. One thing I am most excited about is this darling little bookstore I found nearby.  It reminds me of the bookstore Meg Ryan's character runs in the movie, You've Got Mail. I can hardly wait to take my kids! I love that they love bookstores as much as I do!

But, before we go anywhere, my oldest son has been chomping at the bit for his turn to share his latest and greatest book finds. This boy of mine started reading when he was four and is rarely seen without a book in his hand unless he is on the baseball diamond. He is a bookworm to the core and he has been working hard on this post about the books he is hooked on right now. Here are his five book suggestions for teen guys. Take it away, buddy!

Alright! Here are my most recent book addictions...

1.) Divergent Series

The Divergent series was incredible, because they are Dystopian, meaning a futuristic time period that is unlikely to actually take place. The books were a combination of action and mystery. I personally liked the books for those reasons.

2.) Maze Runner series

The maze runner books were good for a number of reasons. at first, the boy's memory is wiped so he has no memory of the outside world, and then he realizes that he is trapped inside a massive maze that a group of other boys explore to find a way out. I liked the books because it made you think. things that happen in the beginning suddenly tie in at the end.

3.) Hunger Games Series

Hunger Games series was also a Dystopian novel. It is in a place where the government sends 26 teenagers into an arena to kill each other every year for the entertainment of the president, and the rest of the country. But one year two of the teens live instead of just the one teen. so it also makes you think plus all the action with all the tricks of the arena.

4.) Magnus Chase Series

These books are based off of Norse mythology. They were good because they were funny and also full of action. the main character finds out he is the son of a Norse god by the name of Frey, the god of life, healing, and fertility. So with the fame of being Freys' son, he embarks on a dangerous and quite hilarious journey to stop his crazy uncle Loki and his insane plan to start Ragnarok and end the world

5.) Kane Chronicles

These books take place in Egyptian Mythology. The two main characters are twins. one day they are in a museum with their dad when the shrine he is studying explodes. That's when they find out they are descendants of Horus and Isis (Egyptian gods) and it unlocks a cool, funny, and dangerous magical journey to stop Apophis, the giant snake whose name means chaos, who wants to also destroy the world.

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and/or make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you, You can find my full disclosure statement HERE**

Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday Family Night: Despicable Me

Boys and Gorls! This is very, very big!

Tonight's family movie feature is (drumroll, please)

When Despicable Me came out we went and saw it in the drive-in theater. Since then, the Despicable Me Movies have become our favorite. It's been a while since we watched the first one, though, so it felt like an excellent choice.

We started out by making stromboli pizza because Margo, Edith, and Agnes beg Gru for stuffed crust pizza in the movie and homemade stromboli pizza is the bomb! (Check below the post for the recipe.)

After dinner, we played Freeze Tag (because Gru uses a Freeze ray a lot in Despicable Me), and keep the Minion in the air, like when Dr. Nefario gives the minion the weightless drink, except we used yellow balloons with minion faces drawn on.

There is one scene where one minion "snaps" the other minion and he glows like a glowstick. So we thought it would be fun to have glowsticks to play with, too.

Earlier in the day, I made this fun Minion Munch snack mix to surprise the kids. It was a hit! They loved it! (I'll give you the recipe below. )

To finish off our family movie night, we read Goodnight Moon, our favorite going to bed book. Family movie nights are so much fun!

Looking for more? You could also:
Watch any of the other Despicable Me Movies
Watch Minions
Write your own book like Gru did for Edith, Agnes, and Margo.
Make pancakes
Pretend to be on stage dancing to Swan Lake
Make Styrofoam moons
eat unicorn fluff (cotton candy)

To Make Stromboli:
Two loaves Frozen bread dough
Mozzarella Cheese
(or other pizza toppings you like)

Preheat oven to 425. Roll out bread dough until about 10"x10". Layer pepperoni and top with cheese. Roll dough up around toppings and hold closed with toothpicks. bake 16-20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Serve with marinara sauce. 

To Make Minion Munch:
 1 cup Cookie Crisp Cereal 
3 cups Rice Chex
2 cups popped popcorn
3/4 cups M&Ms minis
1 package Wilton Candy Melts (Yellow)
1/2 package Wilton Candy Melts (Blue)
A few eyeball sprinkles
1 cup pretzels

Melt the yellow candy coating and pour over Chex cereal and popcorn. Spread over parchment paper, sprinkle M&Ms and eyeball sprinkles then allow to cool. Melt blue Candy Melts and did pretzels. Allow to cool completely. Add Cookie Crisp cereal and store in airtight container or Ziploc baggies. 

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and/or make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you, You can find my full disclosure statement HERE**

Thursday, September 20, 2018

3 Simple Ways To Feel Happier Instantly.

While some aspects of depression are out of our control, there are some things that we can do to help ourselves start to feel a little bit better right away. Sometimes, a little boost is all we need to get things moving in a happier direction. Here are three simple things you can do right now to start feeling happy again.

1.  Turn on some tunes! I dare you not to smile when you hear your favorite song. Try thinking of songs that make you want to get up and dance. Turn up the music and dance your heart out! (Everybody Dance NowCan't Stop The Feeling, Shake It Off, and Happy are a few of my favorites)

2. Write it out. When I am down, I like to start listing things that I am grateful for. I like to keep a journal by my bed where I write it all down. On especially hard days it helps to read what I have already written and remember that I have so much to be thankful for. Try to write at least three things or more. The more you write, the better you will feel.

3.  Help someone in need. I have found that the best way to find happiness is by helping someone who needs me. Whether it is preparing a meal to take to a friend who has just had a baby or offering to return a cart for a stranger at the grocery store. It doesn't necessarily have to be something big or even for someone I know. It just feels good to do something for someone else, especially if it is unexpected. Try looking for opportunities to serve all around you. You might be surprised at how often the people around you can use a helping hand.

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and/or make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you, You can find my full disclosure statement HERE**

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Fresh Garden Veggie Pizza

If your garden is anything like mine, you are swimming in a sea of fresh veggies. I am in Heaven! My biggest struggle is trying to use my homegrown produce before it rots. This recipe is perfect for just that. It's quick and easy, too, which makes it even better! The perfect combination of creamy ranch and crisp, cool veggies, you are going to love how refreshing this dinner recipe tastes!

You will need
2 loaves or 24 Rhodes frozen rolls bread dough (or you can make your own bread dough)
1 8oz block cream cheese (or 8 oz. plain Greek yogurt)
1 packet ranch dressing mix
colby jack cheese, shredded
Cherry tomatoes
Cucumbers (I used mini cucumbers)
**you can use whatever garden veggies you like eating raw, this is just the way I like it. Don't be shy! Get creative! We have tried adding green and purple onions, green peppers, peas, and shredded carrots. It's up to you!

First, you will want to defrost your rolls. This takes about an hour on the counter top (or prep your dough, if you are using a homemade recipe). Then, Roll out the dough, poke with a fork all over,  and bake on a pizza stone at 425 for about 13 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Once cool, mix together cream cheese and ranch dressing. This will serve as your pizza sauce. Layer on ranch mixture and top with garden veggies and cheese. Finally, serve cold.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Reading time Monday: Awesome Books for Preteen Boys

I am so excited to start a new series of posts. It's especially exciting because my kids are helping me out, and I LOVE that! Today's post comes to you from my tween son who used to really dig his heels in about reading. He loved listening to books but had a difficult time wanting to sit down and read on his own. I asked him what books changed his mind about reading and he smiled. This is his list of game-changing books.
1. Wonder

Wonder is a book that we first listened to on Audible and he has reread on his own four more times.  It is a wonderful book about a special boy, named Auggie, who is different and teased for it. The story is all about the power of kindness and acceptance. It's a book that EVERYONE should read, and is even a major motion picture. (You can find the movie HERE)

2. Secret Series

This series of books is written by Pseudonymous Bosch and is packed with Jaw-dropping mystery. The story is about three middle school kids, Cass, Max Ernest, Yo-Yoji, and their adventures in "Terces Society" (That is secret spelled backward) whose goal is to keep information away from the Midnight Sun Society. These books were so good, my son read all five of them in just three months.

3. Series of Unfortunate Events

Lemony Snicket pens some seriously sad stories that keep you coming back time and time again. With so many twists and turns, you simply cannot put these books down. There are 13 books in all, which is kind of a double edge sword. It's awesome because once you start reading you won't want to stop until you finish the series but it's bad because you will want to read the entire series and do nothing else.

4. The BFG

The BFG is serious silliness. It's a bit of a tricky read since there are so many nonsense words. However, it is a fun book that tells the story of a little girl who is taken by a big friendly giant who takes her back to his home where she learns about the even bigger and scarier giants who terrorize the world. The plot thickens as they devise a plan to get rid of the scary giants. This is a nail-biter that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.   It is also a major motion picture! So you can watch the BFG movie once you are finished reading the book.

5. The Bad Books

His final book suggestion is the Bad Books Series (He really likes Pseudonymous Bosch). He gravitated to these books because of the author but stayed for the humor and magic. He tells me you just need to trust him that these books are amazing. He doesn't want to give anything away.

He would love to hear your favorite book suggestions! Happy Reading!