Author Archives: veronica

The 12 Posts of Christmas #6: Handmade Christmas Ornaments

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Yes, I’m late…story of my life.  I’ve been so busy with trying to get Christmas stuff done and trying not to let the house be mistaken for a landfill.  I SO thought I was ahead of the game seeing as I did this craft LAST FRIDAY!!!  And here I sit again, after 9PM on Friday, writing this.  Please do not ask me where last week went, because I can honestly say I do not know.  Just trying to keep up with dishes, laundry and my 3 year-old…there isn’t much time for more.  Throw in trying to get ready for Christmas, and I’m behind just thinking out it.

I know, I know…my very first post was on organization.  Reality is, I’m a much better planner than doer (if you know me, or have read my blog…you already know that).

BUT! Here we go.  For the past two Christmases, I’ve given handmade ornaments with Ayden’s pictures on them.  The first ones were these:IMG_6038And I only made 4 of them.  One for each of his Grandparents.  Four pictures on each side (look at his little face, he was only one year old then…wipe away tear), red scrapbook paper on the top and bottom, and a string.

Last year was this:

Individual ornaments for family and friends using wood, paint, modpodge, photos, and ribbon.

Individual ornaments for family and friends using wood, paint, modpodge, photos, and ribbon.

A little more of them, and I added paint.  But only one picture each.

And this year…(it’s going to spoil the surprise for whoever of my family reads my blog…but it’s ok).

Drumroll…….

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And…like FromJtoZ, I too am in a little bit of a time crunch (still have a project to do before bed…and it’s not even my project, sigh).  So, thankfully last week I took pictures of each step.

What I didn’t take a picture of, was the package of these little wooden sticks before I opened it and painted them.  But I think you can tell what they are.  They are found with the Popsicle sticks at Hobby Lobby.  They were $2.49 for a package of 75.  (I believe I used my 40% off coupon on these that day, cuz everything else I got that day was already on sale).  I used 64 sticks to make 16 ornaments.  So $1.47 for 64 sticks, 16 photos at $0.09/print on Snapfish = $1.44.  Two sheets of 8×10 scrapbook paper from a paper pad = $.022.  Plus adhesive, hot glue, and marker that I already had.  Bringing this project total to roughly $3.13 (20 cents each).

It took some time, and some patience.  And they’re not as fancy as those you can buy and put the picture in.  But for a thrifty mom with time and (some) patience…this works for me!

Step one (not pictured), chose paint and paint 2+ coats per side (I only did 2, cuz I wanted them to show some of the wood grain and look handmade).

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Steps 2, 3, 4, and 5.  I lined up my sticks how I wanted them to turn out and traced them so I had a guide.  And I am sure glad I did since they seem to move around while gluing.  Lay side pieces down, glue bottom piece at corners.  Glue string at the top and then glue top piece at the corners.

_MG_7938Moving on…

_MG_7942I measured how big to make my picture (ended up cutting them 2.5″ square) and then cut the back cover 1/8″ larger.  Glued the back of the picture to the back of the patterned paper so when it was adhered to the back of the frame, it looks like this…

_MG_7945Truth is, I should have cut them a little bigger so I had more area to glue to the wooden sticks.  I had to take this mounting tape that is 1/2″ wide, and cut it into 3 strips so that the adhesive didn’t show on the front.

Turn it over, write on it with a sharpie, and tada!!!!

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_MG_7937 _MG_7935PS, this is what was happening while I was assembling these ornaments.  Ayden playing with the swiffer while watching Christmas George.  And then me being told to hold the swiffer while he put a sock on it.

 

So there you have it; simple, inexpensive ornaments!

And if you’ve been following me on Instagram, you saw that I made my cookie doughs the other night and today, while Ayden napped, I rolled and cut them and they are in the freezer.  Which reminds me that I need to take them off the cookie sheets and put them in Ziploc bags so they are sealed up.

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Gingerbread cookie recipe can be found here.  And sugar cookie recipe can be found here.  Yes, that is a lot of flour on my gingerbread men.  It is a sticky dough and I hate cutting out dough.  Hopefully they will still be good 🙂

Ok…it’s the final countdown.  SIX posts left and only 6 days to go!  Make sure to keep up with FromJtoZ to see what she’s got up her sleeve next!

 

The 12 Posts of Christmas #4

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Welcome back to the Christmas collaboration From J to Z and I find ourselves in.  Here’s the 4th Post of Christmas

 

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Here we are, 13 days away from Christmas Day!!!  So that means I only have 12 days until I need to have everything done (since we celebrate with the big family on the Eve).  And finally today…TODAY, I started my Christmas crafts.  One of those crafts was this terracotta pot candy jar that has been stalking me on Pinterest.  Maybe it’s the other way around…moving on!

Well, I finally decided to get the stuff and actually make it.  That’s a huge step for me because even the most simple projects become “too much work” for me if I think about really making it.

I was going to just make one, and if it was easy enough, make them for the rest of the family.  It is easy, but I don’t know if I have time.  The nice thing is, if I decide to do that…I can do it fairly late as I did this little cutie just this morning.

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Here’s what you are going to need.  A terracotta pot with saucer (I got this one at Home Depot, Hobby Lobby didn’t have the right size), a glass bowl, paint color of your choice, ribbon of your choice, a wooden round drawer pull, a paint brush, and glue!  (optional, buttons)

I used this opportunity to get myself a new (bigger and better) glue gun!  Thank you to the 40% coupon at the LOB!  But if I do this project again, I might get myself a very strong non-hot glue (one post says to use E-6000 (I was going to link it, but I didn’t pin it and can’t find it)).  And I’ll tell you why.  After I painted the pot, I glued the drawer pull to the saucer, and after it dried, I picked it up to see if it was going to hold, and it didn’t stick!  I stuck that with Gorilla super glue that I had laying around.  And THEN, when I tried to glue the bowl to the pot, it took me 3 times to get it to stick.  The hot glue cooled too fast before I could get the bowl placed right.  The third time seems to be the charm.  I also hot glued the ribbon so that’s also squeezed glue between the pot and the bowl.

This is a pretty self explanatory craft.  Paint…glue…tie…fill…VOILA!

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In other news…Ayden and I put up his very first Christmas tree in his new big boy room.  Yes, my son is 3 (just barely) and I am just transitioning his room.  In my defense!!!  He has never tried to climb out of his crib and…well…I’ve been avoiding it.  Both for financial reasons and procrastination reasons.  BUT, it’s done now (sorta kinda).  So, all in this afternoon, I replaced the front panel of his bed for a bed rail, took out the glider and put down a reading/blanket/stuffed animal fun corner, and put up his little tree (that I got on clearance at Hobby Lobby last year).  And I think waiting longer helped his transition to freedom.  I’m pretty sure he never got out of bed (and I left his tree on when I left).

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Now, in case you missed it, head back to From J to Z and check out what she made for $4!!!  IMG_0413.JPG

#2 of The 12 Post of Christmas

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Well hello there!

 

I hope you all enjoyed the first installment of The Veronica Blog and FromJtoZ Christmas colab.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, here ya go!

It has been a little while since my last post.  I had been so busy with Thanksgiving preparations.  And then my little baby boy turned THREE on Black Friday so we had his birthday party on Saturday.  So I was busy with that.  I’m not really sure what’s happened to the last week and a half, but it just hit me that there are only 2 1/2 weeks until The Big Day!  And I haven’t even begun planning!  If you’ve read any of my previous Christmas posts (or this one, or even this one), you’ll know that I get myself quite busy around Christmas.

I start planning in the Summer, even though it usually all changes by the time to start getting busy.

I’ve decided to take a step back from 95% homemade gifts for every one.  I did that 2 years ago and it was nice, but I waited way too late to start making them (didn’t account for time to make, time to mess up, time for it not to work out like I had planned, time to do something different, and time for life).  Ayden was just one then and I wasn’t working at all out side the home.  Last year, I made a little less, but still made the majority of the gifts.  Ayden was 2 years old then…a little easier to work with, and I had just started back at Publix part-time and wasn’t working very many hours.  This year, I’ve decided to keep the hand making to a minimum.  It’s kind of sad, but I’m still doing personalized gifts (just using Snapfish more).  Oh thank goodness for Snapfish!!!!!  If you haven’t checked them out, do yourself a favor and go NOW!  They have amazing coupon codes during the season and they try their hardest to get your stuff by Christmas Eve (if you follow their dates).  They have always been good to me.  Anyhoo, I started to panic yesterday when I realized that I don’t even have my lists made!

Are any of you surprised?  If you’re new to my blog, I function on lists.  My brain is too scattered to try and accomplish everything (anything, really) without a list.  So, I woke up today ready to organize my thoughts so I could calm my nerves.  After getting hubby off to work, feeding the dogs, and the boy child, I got my coffee ready, turned on all my Christmas decorations and went to work.

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First thing’s first…my work space needed a little tidying.  After doing that, I got a little distracted by my Christmas tree!

After I reigned my attention back to the task at hand, I sat down with my calendar (Blue Sky Monthly/Weekly, I’m kind of picky about my calendars, and I’ve been using this design for years), and my trusty notebook paper.  I made a master cleaning list. Thumbnail PreHolidayCleaningListWord

This really should have been posted before Thanksgiving.  When I created it, I had it in mind to do before Thanksgiving (if you were hosting).  BUT I wasn’t hosting, so I didn’t do the cleaning for it.  I AM hosting Christmas Eve celebrations so I do need to get the cleaning done.  However, being realistic, I won’t get all of this done.  But at least I have something on paper for next year (and yes, you’ll probably see me here next year, not having done the list).  I do feel it is helpful though, because there could be something on the list, that should get done but might not have gotten thought about.  I know the image is only the first page (it ended up being 4 pages long).  I did it in a fun font, to hopefully be more fun to accomplish.  Feel free to download the document (link), print it, edit it, highlight the most important ones and do those.  I do recommend determining which ones you can do ASAP (tops of things, cupboards, cabinets, fans, frames, etc.) and get those done soon.  After that, determine what can’t be done until the last second and save only those few (shouldn’t be a long list) for last.  Try to fit in the others in the meantime.

I know, BORING!  Who wants to clean.  But for me, it’s important to not be very embarrassed of the food crusted cracks between my stove and countertop.  I don’t need an immaculate house, but I don’t like extended family members thinking I’m a dirty person.  If it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done.  I’m ok with that, but I like to try.  It is last on the list after ensuring gifts are taken care of, hubby/baby/dogs are fed and happy and the food prep…of course the food.  But still something to help, in case it’s important to you too.

 

After this, I started my To Do lists:  One for the things I need to get done and another one for gift specifics I’m doing.  I don’t think you people understand the scatter-brainedness of my situation.  But I know I’m not alone, so hopefully this not-so-fun post finds those few that need direction.  (is it sad, that I was excited about this post?)  (I’ll keep it quick)  After I made my lists, I got my calendar (monthly view – after schedules and appointments entered), I started planning when I am going to do what).  If I have it down early, and I happen to not get to it, I still have plenty of time to do it another day.  This planning = LESS STRESS for me!  And less stress around the holidays is always better!

Any bakers out there?  Do you make cut out cookies?  Do you feel overwhelmed when you make them?  No? Just me?  Ok well, just in case there is someone who is like me, try this.

I am going to make my doughs (making three: sugar, gingerbread, and a mint cookie) on Friday the 12th.  I will mix them, wrap them in parchment and put them in the fridge.  On Saturday the 13th (during Ayden’s nap), I will roll and cut the cookies.  I will place them on a cookie sheet between layers of parchment, wrap and freeze them.  On Sunday the 14th, I will transfer the now frozen/cut cookies to zip top bags and there they will stay until I bake them on the 23rd.  Sounds like extra work with the freezing part.  But I’d rather do that, than have to do it all in one day on the 23rd.  And if I bake them too early, they won’t be fresh (and probably won’t exist) by Christmas Eve.

To make this easier, just follow me on Instagram @theveronicablog and on Facebook.

I am a recovering procrastinator…if I leave it up to my brain alone…it won’t get done.

 

What helps get you through the holidays?

 

Make sure to stay tuned to FromJtoZ to see what’s next on our #12PostsofChristmas.  Here’s a link to “like” her Facebook page as well!

 

And just for fun…I took Ayden’s 3 year pictures last week…so you’re welcome!

 

Pumpkin Protein Oat Bars

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If you know me, or have been following me for…well, any amount of time.  You know that I struggle with staying on a healthy/active lifestyle.  Eating healthy and exercising regularly just doesn’t come naturally for me.  It is a real fight in my head between good and evil.  And for the last few months, evil has one every time.  Even the days that I randomly got out for a jog, I couldn’t stick with the eating well part.

I’ve never been a “meal prep” kind of eater for two reasons.  A) I never know when I want to eat until right before I eat it.  And 2) I don’t feel like eating the same thing all of the time.  (yes…I know I did A and 2…it’s supposed to be funny.  No?  Ok, moving on).

Another reason I haven’t meal prepped is because I’m mostly a stay at home mom.  Why would I prep everything when I am here to prep it before I eat it.  Well, that’s not working for me…OBVIOUSLY!

So Friday evening, I sauteed green pepper and onion for our stromboli.  I purposefully didn’t use all the veggies in the stromboli so that I could make some egg muffins.  Not exactly the same as I made here.  You can kind of make them with whatever ingredients you want.  I did sauteed green pepper and onion, turkey bacon, cheddar cheese and eggs with Morton’s seasoning, ground red pepper, and garlic powder to taste).  (Store in the fridge, heat in microwave about 30 seconds and I add Cholula to the top of mine and YUMMMMM)!

Saturday, I decided to make these Pumpkin Protein Oat Bars that I’ve been wanting to make, like, FOREVER so that I would have a healthy snack/post-workout food.

I apologize for the not perfect pictures.  I was making these in a hurry while trying to figure out what my son was going to eat for dinner.  That’s how I roll, unplanned and rushing!  🙂  I didn’t have a chance to get the good camera out to take any professional type pics.

But my son is very much into helping me cook so he did an excellent job at helping me stir all these ingredients together.

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These are super easy, just mix all of the ingredients (except for the oats) together in a medium bowl.

Preheat oven to 375º

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 eggs

1/4 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup vanilla protein powder (we use this one)

(I did add a small pinch of salt)

Then add 1 1/2 cup of oats and mix together well.

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper and then spray paper with cooking spray.  Pour batter into prepared dish and smooth with a spatula.  Bake 35-38 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in dish for 10 minutes.  Remove from dish and cool on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes.  Once completely cool, cut into whatever size pieces you would like and place in a airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.  Or wrap individually and place in a zip top bag for the freezer for up to a month.

There are other ingredient variations in the link for where I got the recipe from.

 

I will be making these again and probably have them around all of the time.

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I put the recipe into My Fitness Pal and these are the nutritional facts I got from making 8 bars.  164 calories, 2g fat, 25g carbs, 3g fiber, 13g sugar, 11g protein.

For a healthy recipe using no flour, these are probably the best I’ve had!  Make them and let me know what you think.

How I organized my Pinterest

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Anyone else have way too many pins?

I know I cannot be the only person out there that has way more pins than I will ever utilize.

Pretty much anyone with a Pinterest account (most likely) has this “problem”.

 

Just like Pinterest, itself, I have evolved, in how I organize it.

I didn’t start using Pinterest right away when it first came out.  I didn’t know what it was.  I thought it was weird.  And then I got curious.  I caved.  I now…like many…have a Pinterest Problem.

Seeing as how I didn’t really know what I was doing when I first started, I just “liked” things that pinspired me.  Before I knew it, I had over 1000 “likes”.  Thus, making it nearly impossible to find anything later when I needed it.  So after a while longer,  many many many more “likes” later, and figuring out how pins actually worked, I started creating boards.  I went through my “likes” and actually pinned them to my boards.  I felt so accomplished.

But even this didn’t seem to be enough to keep me from scrolling…scrolling…scrolling through my board looking for a particular recipe.

For instance, I had a general “food” board.  I tried finding new breakfast recipes and they were getting lost in the “food” board so I created a “breakfasty food” board.  CLEVER!!!  Problem…I kept forgetting to use it and kept sticking stuff in the old “food” board.

While playing the scroll game to find a recipe for something I was making with a friend.  I said, “Pinterest needs to make sub-boards.”  A sub-folder idea.

Well, since the makers of Pinterest don’t consult me personally, I took matters into my own hands.  Well, just for my own account.

I thought I had a lot of boards before I did this last “project” but now I’ve created more.  And let me tell you…I LOVE IT!!!!!

 

Here’s the boring part…

My old list:

  • Arm/Back
  • Ayden’s 3rd birthday
  • Big Boy Room
  • Blogalicious
  • Breakfasty Food
  • Christmas
  • Cleaner eats
  • Core
  • Craft
  • DIY
  • Easter
  • Family Tree
  • Food
  • Food technique
  • Fun
  • Garage organization
  • Gardening
  • Gifts
  • Girly stuff
  • Good to know
  • Health
  • Home
  • Humor
  • I want (my very first board…still had no clue what I was doing)
  • June Workouts (during my 8 week challenge, set aside specific workouts to do during June)
  • Kids
  • Kid Food
  • Kid crafts/learning
  • Legs
  • Made2Order Memories (my home business)
  • Mom of the year
  • One day projects
  • Organizing
  • Party
  • Scrap (scrapbooking)
  • Style I wish I had
  • Tachnology
  • Tips & Tricks
  • The Veronica Blog
  • Washi

For a total of 40 boards.

My new list consists of 74 boards.

So, this is how it looks when I want to pin something.  Can you see how more organized it is???  I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!  All my food (with exception of “kid food”) are all together, but still separate.  Since they are all in one spot, I don’t forget about the subcategories.  I basically kept everything the same.

I still have most of my miscellaneous boards.  But I took three of my biggest boards (food, health, and home) and created the sub-folder idea.

What I did was I went through each and every pin in the boards I knew I needed to work on.

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To move a pin to another board, press and hold until the three circles appear, slide finger to the pencil clipart (the edit button).

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Choose the board by tapping on the second line and choosing the existing board you want.

 

Now, to easily create a new board from the pin itself, press and hold until the three circles appear, slide finger to pencil clipart.  Tap on   and then tap on the “+” symbol in the top right corner.  From here you can create the new board.  When you’re finished, it will create the new board and place that pin in that board all at once.

IMG_9396.PNGAlso, I also pinned the same pin to different boards.  That way if I am browsing, I am not missing anything.  For example, this chicken spaghetti recipe, I placed in: FOOD-chicken, FOOD-casseroles, and FOOD-pasta.

So, if you feel overwhelmed with some of your boards, maybe something like this will work for you.  Let me know how you’ve organized your Pinterest.  Or if you do this, let me know how you like it!

Have a fabulous Monday, everybody!

When all else fails…COOKIES!!!

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Oh my!  Could it be true?  Could my last post really be a month and a half ago???  I know I’m not the every-day-blogger, but that just seems like a long time.

A lot has happened in that month and a half, so I’m not surprised that the blog got left out.  I will spare you the details, and just pick up like where I left off.

I was “challenged” by a friend of mine to do a #write31days challenge.  Where I would publish a blog post every day for 31 days.  I accepted the challenge…over a week ago.  Who am I kidding?  There’s no way I would be able to post every day.  Even if I wrote a whole bunch in advance and just posted one per day.  There’s way too much housework, almost-three-year-old entertaining/teaching, and part-time job work for me to be able to keep up with that write-31-days thing.  Maybe one day.

Knowing that I needed and WANTED to post something, I just couldn’t decide what.  I do have a little notebook that I keep for my blog ideas.  I am sad that I missed some good posts (I’ll still do them, the timing just won’t be as good) because my MacBook was in California, getting more storage space!

Still trying to decide what to post about, it came to me…COOKIES!  Everyone likes cookies.  I had found a recipe for these apple oatmeal spice cookies at work (Publix) and thought they looked good.  Plus they looked like a healthier version of a regular oatmeal cookie.

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Especially my brother-in-law.

A few months ago, we invited my sister and her family over for dinner.  My BIL has been having some weird digestion (we think) issues and has been cutting out certain foods in the hope to find out what’s wrong.  Also, he’s been trying to not eat as many sweets.  So I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try these cookies.  Little did I know, that he would become obsessed with them!

And by obsessed, I mean he-won’t-let-anyone-else-eat-them obsessed.  Like he-makes-someone-make-another-batch-before-he-finishes-the-current-batch kind of obsessed.  So, I guess they were a hit!  Another bonus, my nieces like them too!  SCORE!

Ok, so here’s the scoop:

(see what I did there…scoop? like scoop the cookie dough onto the cookie sheet! no? just me? ok… :/   )

Makes: about 3 dozen

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I did halves with AP and whole wheat flour)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)

2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) light butter, softened

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (or apple butter)

1 egg

2 tablespoons skim milk (or whatever milk you prefer)

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups uncooked oats (quick or old fashioned)

3/4 cup diced dried mixed fruit or raisins (I used mini chocolate chips… 🙂   )

 

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray (I use parchment paper…always parchment).

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2. In large bowl, beat sugars and light butter with electric mixer until well blended.

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3. Add applesauce, egg, milk and vanilla; beat well.

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4. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg; mix well.

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5. Stir in oats and dried fruit (or mini morsels); mix well. (Dough will be moist).

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6. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets, press lightly to flatten.

7. Bake 12-14 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.

8. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack.  Cool completely.  Store tightly covered. (and hidden in a cupboard like my brother-in-law 😉   )

 

Ta-daaaaaaa.

Have you had any recipes that you’ve made that someone has gone gaga over?

 

 

Throwback Thursday 08/21/2014

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Today’s #tbt is Ayden’s very first RAYS game.  Well first, if you don’t count the Spring Training game we attended when I was pregnant (before I found out I was pregnant) and the regular season game after I found out.

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Three generations of Sturtevants.

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Father and son.

It was an afternoon game (the only kind that made sense to go to with a 9month old baby.

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We were able to take Grandpa with us (Berk’s dad, his mom had to work).

It was a very interesting trip for me as I had to pump in the back seat so that I didn’t have to take Ayden anywhere to nurse him during the game.

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I was a little embarrassed to have to pump right behind my FIL as he was driving, but I was glad for the noise of traveling on the highway that he didn’t even hear the pump…pump…pump.  Pumping mothers know what noise I’m talking about.  Well, I thought I was safe until shortly into my session, I noticed he was getting off the Interstate.  Why?  Why are we stopping???  He had to go to the bathroom.  Somehow I still managed to keep discrete and he didn’t even know.  (Not like he would have cared, I was just self-conscious).

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Ayden had a great time.  However, he was getting more mobile at this point (about a month or so before he started walking) and he didn’t want to just sit with us.

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We don’t usually purchase photos taken at theme parks, games, and such, but it was too good of a picture to pass up.  Considering the pic we tried to take, didn’t come out so well.

IMG_9782LOL  I just noticed the guy looking like he’s picking his nose.  GREAT!

IMG_3805I think he had a good time.

Where were you 10 years ago, today?

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TEN years!  It’s been 10 years???  I cannot believe that 10 years have gone by since Hurricane Charley opened my eyes to something I never took seriously.

I will try to keep this from being the most horrible run-on story.

A “simple” account of my day, TEN years ago…today!

August 13, 2004.  Was it a coincidence that it was a Friday the 13th?  I don’t so much believe in that whole Friday the 13th thing, but do find it a bit funny that a day that shook the town happened to fall on one of those “days”.

~~~ Where was I?  Combination of work (Publix #0266, Punta Gorda, FL) and home (Tobago St, Punta Gorda, FL (Deep Creek))

~~~ What was I doing? First, working (and panicking that I wouldn’t be able to get home because I had to cross bridges to get home) then at home watching,  waiting, panicking, crying, disbelieving.

On that morning, I had to open the office at work (scheduled in at 6AM).  I was so worried that they were going to decide to close the surrounding Publix’s too late and I wouldn’t be able to get home.  See, either route home required me to cross a bridge.  And I had learned that when winds reached 39 mph (sustained, I believe) that they closed bridges.  And since we were expecting Tropical Storm winds, that was very likely to happen.  At the time, Charley’s projected path had the Tampa Bay area as it’s target.

We opened the store before posted normal business hours for anyone who needed emergency items.  I remember vividly waiting for the phone call from the “Big Wig” to tell my Store Manager to close it up and go home.  7AM came…no phone call.  I answered all phone calls coming into the store so I would know if it was him or not, but not for  sure if it was to close the store or to stay open cuz the conditions weren’t going to be bad enough to close.  And with a chain as big as Publix, it takes a MAJOR even to close the store early.  8AM…no phone call.  I kept telling my managers that I couldn’t get home if they closed the bridges.  And neither could my Store and Assistant Store Managers.  I don’t really know what I thought I was accomplishing by obsessing over the bridges.  9AM…no phone call.  Then it happened, around 10:30AM, the phone rang.  He asked for the Store Manager.  The announcement was made!  Close it up and go home.  So my supervisor and I gathered all the money from the registers, headed to the cash office and closed up shop.  We followed the safety procedures for preparing for bad weather like what we expected (Tropical Storm) and I was finally heading home around 11:45AM.  I made it home around noon, where my parents, grandparents, and a friend of the family were already there checking weather reports.  We also had two cats of friends’ of ours who were out of town.  Berkley ended showing up shortly after me.  He was at his store in Port Charlotte and came as soon as they finished their closing procedures.  His parents were still in Connecticut on vacation.  (Berkley and I had only gotten back to town from CT three days before the storm hit).

And there, we waited.  My dad on the phone to his brother in Tampa.  Asking him if he was prepared for what was about to happen.  My mother and grandmother in the kitchen, making a lasagna so we had a hot meal to eat when the power went out.  Because that’s what we were expecting, loss of power (only) and rain too.  Me, in my bedroom, folding towels and laundry so that everything was clean and put away so it would be easy for when we were fumbling around in the dark needing…well…towels and underwear.  HAHA

(Needless to say, that lasagna stayed in the oven until I think Monday, because no one thought about it)

I looked outside as it was getting darker and darker, the trees starting to show signs of significant wind increases.  I had always heard about the eye of a hurricane and how in the center of the eye, the wind stops, you can see blue sky, and it is calm and serene…until the other edge of the eye.  I thought to myself “wouldn’t it be cool to see the eye of the storm?”  WHOOPS!!!  An idea I now regret ever thinking.

It wasn’t long after that thought, that we got the word that Charley was taking a turn….for Charlotte Harbor.  We weren’t right on the harbor, but we weren’t far either.  Real quick, things got serious.  Winds picked up, windows rattled, sliding glass doors started to wobble.  A large portion of the main section of the house was sliding glass doors.  I also had a set in my bedroom and my parents’ had a set in their bedroom as well.

My dad had everyone go in to the laundry room.  Thank goodness we had a large laundry room.  In there we had 7 adults and 2 cats (in a cat carrier).  The volume of the winds were so loud.  It almost like standing on the jetway while planes’ engines are running.  I remember feeling the pressure in my ears as we just sat and waited.  We could hear one of the screen doors slamming, slamming, slamming on the lanai.  The interior door to the garage was rattling.  Until now, I had forgotten just how loud it was.

INTERIOR DOOR!!!!

After a little while, the noises seemed to slow down and it got a little lighter in the room.  We didn’t really know where the storm was as we had lost power by this point and had no weather radio or anything (if it would have even worked, I don’t know).  All of a sudden, my dad gets up and tells Berkley to come with him.  They were going to go assess the situation and see if it was over.  It wasn’t over, it was only half way done.  We were on the edge of the eye of the storm.  Not directly enough to see the clear skies before the other side.  But enough to realize what was happening and we were then herded (yes, like cattle, lol) to the other side of the house to my parents’ bedroom.  As we walked by the wall of sliding glass doors, I could see them almost rippling.  (I’m pretty sure the only thing that saved them is the winds were blowing parallel to them instead of perpendicular).  Up until now, we still had some cell service and I was keeping in touch with my sister who was in Port Charlotte.

Backyard Video

Backyard video 2

Hurricane is over right? Yeah, guess not. video

Backyard video 3

(the videos should open in a new window.  you might need to activate QuickTime Player)

There we all sat, in my parents’ bedroom as the winds picked up again, the sky darkened, and the slamming of the screen door started again.  Only this time, everything was going the other direction.  Still texting back and forth with my sister for a little bit.  The last message I got was “our roof just blew off.”  No more messages either way.  I really started to freak out now.  And here, we waited out the storm.  As things started to slow again, my father stood at the threshold of the door, looking into the kitchen, living room, dining room, etc. and just watched the water coming in…shaking his head in disbelief.  When he felt it was safe for everyone to leave the master bedroom, I walked into the kitchen.  I walked through about 1-1/5″ of water.  No windows broke, no doors busted loose.  Where was it coming from?

It was just coming through the roof.  We lost all shingles, tar, fascia, gutters, etc.  The water was just coming through.  It was in the fixtures and everything.  I headed to my bedroom and feared the worst as the first side of the winds were directly hitting my sliding glass door.  There was no damage.  Funny enough, before the storm hit, I moved my new computer from by the slider into my closet.  After, when I opened the closet door, there was a small leak…dripping directly onto the computer tower.

Quickly, I moved anything I needed to and headed to check on Berkley’s parents house, just outside the historic district of Punta Gorda (aka…CHARLOTTE HARBOR).  They have an old two-story house (50ish years, at this point maybe?).  I was expecting the worst.  As we drove out of Deep Creek, I felt like I was in one of those TV commercials where you see everyone staring at the camera just after a disaster.  Neighbors were outside, looking at the damage.  The subdivision was flat.  Trees down, electrical wires down, everything…down.  It took us a few tries to get out of Deep Creek and into Punta Gorda.  We ran into down power poles, trees blocking roads, and a closed bridge.

As we approached Berk’s neighborhood, there was a house with the upper level ripped off.  The way it was positioned it looked like it was his house.  Thankfully it was not (yet very unfortunate for that family).  They had a few large trees in their yard that were broken and all over the driveway and yard.  We couldn’t even pull into the driveway.  We headed inside to see if there was any damage.  Amazingly enough, there seemed to be just very minor things.  You could see cracks tho where the house must have shifted.  I bed that thing was rocking something fierce.  Upstairs, in his bedroom, his rolling computer chair was in the center of the room (normally was at one side of his room).  So strange.

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We headed back to my house.  Every one was going to my brother’s house in North Port for the night.  He had power (hot water and AC).  That would be my home for the next 3.5 months.

I have never forgotten any details of that day.  Everyone is quick to tell their Charley story whenever it comes up.  However, I had forgotten the emotions.

Still can’t believe it’s been 10 years.

Wow.

I know that we were very fortunate but it still shook up my world a little bit.

Where were YOU, ten years ago, today?

Danish Kringlers

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As a kid, I have a very very fond memory of kringlers.  And as I learned more about them, my love for them grew.

Brief background (I’ll try to keep it brief)…I was born in Michigan.  We moved to Florida when I was about 4 1/2.  Unfortunately, we didn’t make it back to Michigan all that often.  Only for major events (weddings, family reunions, 100th birthdays, etc).  There was one special trip that we made at Christmas and I remember vividly the kringler tin.  To my recollection, the kringlers were always kept in a round cookie tin.  Most likely a tin that came with store bought cookies (like those little shortbread cookies) in it.  All packages like that were reused: butter dishes, cool whip containers, and so on.

Now, I’m not sure if kringlers are only made at Christmas or if I only got them at Christmas.

But to me, kringlers are synonymous with three things:

  • – my Great-grandmother (my father’s mother’s mother)
  • – Christmas
  • – something that ties me to my Danish-ness

 

Now, anytime I was every around kringlers, they were always already made.  I never was present for the making of them.  And over the years I often asked how to make them (grandmother, great-aunt, other aunts and such) and they would give me an expression and explanation that they were time consuming and a lot of work.  That they were “tricky” because you don’t just follow a recipe.  They are kind of like that thing that no one wants or knows how to make but everyone loves to eat.  To my knowledge, there are only about 4 or 5 people in our huge family that know how to make them.  And I’m pretty sure only 2 of us make them regularly (well, I’ve just begun, but I will be making them regularly).  I did see on Facebook that another one of the great-grandkids learned how to make them this year so I don’t know if she’s going to make them regularly or not.

And by “huge” family, I mean like Great-grandma had like 8 kids, two of those kids had 7 each, plus the others had kids too, and they’ve had kids, and we’ve had kids…yeah…huge.  I love it.

That didn’t stop me from wanting to know how.

I am an American girl but I still long for being able to have ties to the cultures of my ancestors.  I have always been this way.

Another brief history, my Grandma (Dorothy, my dad’s mom) and my Great-aunt (Lilly) are sisters.  That’s a given, right?  But just to clear things up, I don’t really think of my Great-aunt, Lilly as my Great-aunt.  She is another Grandma to me.  So I’m tired of speaking in technicals, and I’m just going to call her like I know her.

It’s kind of a long story, but Lilly is my sister’s Grandma.  Yup, you read that right.  Anyhoo, when I was a kid, Grandma (Wymer, as we call her) and Grandpa Wymer would spend their summers with us when they came from Michigan to visit.  I have fond memories of playing Uno on the couch for long periods of time with Grandpa and smelling delicious bread that Grandma would make.  What I wouldn’t give for just one more day of those memories in real life.

Ok, I’m back from memory lane and I had to get a tissue.

Alright, let’s get to the point here.  As a young adult, I had a few years of Grandma and Grandpa Wymer LIVING here that I could have had many opportunities to learn how to make kringlers.  Did I?  NO!  I would say, I’m kicking myself for it now.  But I’m kind of glad for the way it worked out.

After we lost Grandpa Wymer in 2005 (?), Grandma moved back to Michigan.  OH NO!  How will I learn to make these stinkin’ cookies????   Oh yeah, that’s right.  Grandma came to visit for a few months with one of her daughters (and her husband), (Toni’s aunt and uncle).  And wouldn’t you know a few years of this would go by before I could actually get my act together to really plan a kringler lesson.

Nevertheless, I did it.  One day in early 2013,  I was visiting with my Grandma Davis (my mom’s mom, who lives here), Grandma Wymer was there visiting too.  I told her she wasn’t allowed to go back to Michigan without teaching me how to make kringlers.  So it was set, I called my sister to get her schedule and we made a date!

To start off the day, Grandma handed me this…20140809-123956.jpgAny of my recipes that go in my recipe binder get typed up so they are all the same.  Not this one.  I was so excited to get this from her, she probably thought I was a big looney.  It’s most likely no big thing for her.  But to have her handwriting on my favorite recipe is something I will never type up for any recipe book.

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I was way more excited about it than my sister, and way more into it too.  But I was glad she was there to spend the time and see how they are done.

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When we started, Grandma gave me an overview on what we were going to do.  Then she basically just dictated from there.  If I did anything wrong, she was quick to tell me.  She is a feisty old lady.  Quiet, but feisty nonetheless.  It is definitely one of the highlights of my life.  Tradition being passed down to a younger generation.  I don’t know how many times she’ll be able to make the trip from Michigan to Florida (it’s a long trip).  And I hate to say it, but I don’t know when the next time we will make it to Michigan will be.

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Left to right: Toni (my sister, Grandma Wymer (Toni’s Grandma, my Great-Aunt Lilly), Aunt Sue (Toni’s Aunt, Grandma’s oldest child), Me and Ayden. And that’s how the kringlers cool. No cooling rack, just sheets of wax paper on the counter.

It is a day I will never ever forget.

The true test came when it was time to make them by myself.  Keep in mind, it was only my 2nd time making them, ever.  I learned from Grandma in February and then didn’t make them again until Christmas Eve, 9 months later!  Needless to say, they went off without a hitch!  It was almost like I had made them a thousand times before.  (And yes, I did buy a round tin from Hobby Lobby…see top picture)

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From Christmas: Anyone who knows anything about our kringlers, it is very rare to get one whole. Usually you are just eating the pieces as they are fragile and break just being stacked. This was the last kringler in the tin and it was whole. Very rare!!!

There was also something else so magical about making them.  Not only were we going to have kringlers, but when I made them, my parents were here with me. As they are every Christmas.  We were ahead of schedule (for once) and not rushing around so they got to just sit and visit with me.  It felt so right to be in the kitchen, baking, and visiting with family.  I often say I was born in the wrong era.  I would love to have been in the time where all you had to do was bake.

Another first, my dad (who’s family this is from) got to have a kringler fresh from the oven, still warm.  He told me that in all of his years growing up around kringlers, he had never had one still warm from the oven.  And that warmed my heart.  I felt such a connection to my Grandmothers’ and my Great-grandmother that day yet we were hundreds of miles apart.

I must say, now that I know how to make them.  I understand why I was given the reaction from my aunts and grandmothers.  It isn’t just a recipe that you can say, here are the ingredients and measurements.  Mix, cut, shape, bake.  And it’s funny that in baking, exact measurements are necessary for the science part of it.  But with these, it really is a little more about the texture of the dough.  Add a little more wet if it’s too dry, and add a little more dry if it’s too wet.

Anyway, I’ll try to see if I can do a play by play when I make them this Christmas.

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Now I thought I had a picture of my Great-grandma. But the picture I am remembering must have been my mom’s However, I did find this picture from (as you can tell) a very long time ago. But that is her, in the front in all of her cuteness. I am so very glad I got to know her and even into my teenage years.

Do you have any family recipes that make you feel nostalgic?

Who do you think you are???

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Well, who do I think I am? I’m so excited that the 2nd season of Who Do You Think You Are? is on TLC.

If you haven’t heard about it, each episode is about a celebrity finding out their genealogy. I am fascinated by family history and would love to be able to trace mine past my grandparents.

One of my great-uncles on my mother’s mother’s side has kept track of her family and has published a book for the family called The Branches and Twigs. I also know that an aunt on my father’s side has kept track of some family tree information on his side.

My mother's parents

My mother’s parents (I know there is German and Dutch there)

 

Father's parents (it was their 61st wedding anniversary on that day).  German and Danish

Father’s parents (it was their 61st wedding anniversary on that day). German and Danish

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My parents

(Why the almost 7-year-old wedding pictures?  Well, they were the nicest and most recent of all my family with me).

What I want to do is to be able to travel to the locations of my ancestors’ records. That’s what they do on the show.  They start on ancestry.com and search the family member they want to research.  Once they get some information (like a census or something) then they usually will go to the location of the census or whatever document/information they found.  It’s kind of hard to explain, but it is a really good show and I would definitely suggest checking it out.

Over the past five years or so, I’ve signed up for a three free trials for ancestry.com.   I’m not trying to use them, I just can’t justify adding the monthly fee to our expenses since I can’t seem to get too terribly far (maybe I could, if I had more than a month, haha).  But in my last endeavor, I could get as far back as my father’s father’s parents.  They both have “leaf hints” but I can’t get any more information since I am not in a membership.  {sad face}

Sometimes I sit and daydream about what it would be like to go back in time.  To go back and see what it was like way back when.  When there were no computers, no phones, no TVs.  When life was in black and white.

Who are my ancestors?

What did they do?

What did their neighborhoods look like?

What hobbies did they like to do?

What personalities did they have?

What goals and wishes did they have?

What struggles did they face?

What did they overcome?

What were their names?

What were their favorite foods?

What color were their eyes?

Hair?

What did they look like?

What languages did they speak?

Did they have any pets?

What were their names?

What were their cultures like?

I know most of these questions will never be answered, but this breaks the surface of what I would like to find out.

What I do know…

I have some German, some Danish, and some Dutch blood running through these veins.  But, I want to know more!

Another reason this is all so interesting to me is I am fascinated by nationalities and the cultures/traditions that go along with them.  Ask any of my ethnic friends and they will tell you.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Greek, Italian, Hispanic…I get sucked in.

This is why it was exciting for me to learn how to make the Danish Kringlers like my Great-grandmother (Dad’s side) used to make.  Brief explanation here.  I thought I had made a blog post about the day I learned how to make them, guess not.  But I will be soon!

Four generation with my son, my mother, and her parents.  I knew this was important to do at the time, but it didn't hit me just how important, until I lost my grandfather only about a year and a half after this picture was taken.

Four generation with my son, my mother, and her parents. I knew this was important to do at the time, but it didn’t hit me just how important, until I lost my grandfather only about a year and a half after this picture was taken.

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Thinking about all of this, I am going to need to start getting things together for Ayden.  In case one day he wants to know anything.  It might take me that long to get it all together, but I’m sure I’ll be glad I did.

How about you, do you know much about your family tree?  Who…do you think YOU are?

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