26 November 2014

Giving Thanks

HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone (tomorrow)!!! ;-) I hope you have a wonderful Holiday weekend with lots of family, friends, food, and most importantly, thankful hearts. We are keeping it small and mellow this year, it will be just my little family and I celebrating Thanksgiving. BUT, we are taking a mini-vacation this coming weekend to my Mom's beach house. Oh yah!!! I haven't mentioned it yet. 

So my Mom bought a place on the Washington Coast a few months back. This is our first time going and I'm stoked! It's only 2.5 hours from us, so I foresee a lot of time spend out at the beach in the future. It will be cold this time of year, but doesn't matter. It's the beach. :-)

So yah, you saw this coming. A very brief, but significant Thankful list. 

I'm Thankful for...
  • My Husband. He puts up with a lot from me, and I love him very much for that.
  • My boys, Bennett & Easton. They challenge me at every turn, but they also teach me so much.
  • My Mom & Sister. I feel very blessed to have them near by. My kids get to see their Yia-Yia and their Aunt quite often, which makes my heart so happy!
  • Awesome in-laws. There are a lot of people who don't really like their in-law's. But, I'm one of the ones that can say I honestly love mine! They are so giving, and loving. I'm honored to be a part of my Husband's family.
  • My best friend, Kiara. She's my rock, I don't know what I would do without her.
  • A fantastic community. We are honestly so lucky to live in such a wonderful area. In fact, our town was voted the #1 place to raise a family in Washington State.
  • My photography business. I'm so grateful to be able to have a job I love AND be able to stay at home with my kids. 
  • Social media. Sounds a little bit superficial, but it's true. Social media has brought true and lasting friendships into my life. It's also offered me an outlet, and of course, opportunities to help contribute to my family financially. 
What is on your Thankful List this year? And what are your Thanksgiving plans??

23 November 2014

Golden Scone Recipe

I've said this in the past, but I think we all have those foods that can instantly bring us back to a specific place or time in our lives. Scones are one of those foods for me. They remind me of two things. One, of my Mom's house. We didn't make scones a ton growing up, but when we did, it was such a treat!! And two, the fair!! It's basically impossible to go to the fair without getting one of those warm delicious, jam-filled scones before you leave. SO good.

I also feel like there are certain foods that I like to make at specific times of the year. And I think scones will sort of become my Fall-ish, Thanksgiving-ish go to comfort food.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! spread
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  1. First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Then spray baking sheets with no-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, first combine your dry ingredients: Flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Cut in the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! spread with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture is the size of a very course crumbs.
  4. In a separate small bowl, mix the egg and milk together.
  5. Stir into the flour mixture until moistened. 
  6. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Next, roll dough out into a circular shape, about 1/2 thick. Use a pizza cutter to slice into 8 wedges, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for ~15 minutes, or until golden brown.

This is the first time I've made scones with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! At first, I wasn't sure how they would turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised!

The new I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! recipe is made from real, simple ingredients, with 0% artificial ingredients. It contains plant-based oils, purified water, and a pinch of salt. It's also the first spread from Unilever in the U.S. to be made from non-GMO sourced ingredients!

It's a lot more versatile than I once thought. I was scouring the website, and found out quite a bit of cool information:

  • The new I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!® spread has 40% fewer calories and 70% less saturated fat than butter. 
  • As with all of our spreads, sticks and sprays, the new I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!® contains 0g trans fat per serving, no cholesterol and no partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. 
  • The Dietary Guidelines for Americans favor healthy eating patterns that meet nutrient needs and stay within calorie limits, with a focus on nutrient-dense foods from the five major food groups along with vegetable oils and oils contained in seafood, nuts and seeds, which contribute essential nutrients, and recommend using oils to replace solid fats where possible. Plant-based oils are one of the primary ingredients in our spreads. 
  • In the past, nutrition advice has overly-emphasized reducing total fat in the diet as a way to lower saturated fat intake and improve cardiovascular health. This advice has led many people to replace saturated fat with foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, which does not positively impact cardiovascular health. Research has consistently shown that limiting saturated fat and replacing it with unsaturated, good fats from vegetable oils and foods that are mainly oils like spreads, nuts and avocados may help reduce cardiovascular disease risk. To achieve this benefit, total daily calories should not increase.
Pretty neat, right?

Do you have a scone recipe you love? What are your favorite foods to make & eat this time of year??

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

19 November 2014

Tips For Traveling With Small Children

My kids and I go a ton of places together. Usually we take a lot of local trips, and just drive to our destination. Well, except for the 14 hour drive we make to Idaho every year, that's not exactly local. lol. But the recent trip we took to California was the first time that my entire family went on an airplane somewhere together. And although the flight is somewhat short from Seattle to L.A., I'll admit that I was pretty nervous for the plane ride. You just never know what you're going to get with small kids. How will they handle the airport, going through security? Will they freak out on the airplane? What will do we do entertain them? What if the pressure bothers their ears? What if my oldest won't use the tiny bathroom on the plane? So many variables. Traveling can be stressful for an adult, so I was trying to prepare myself for what it would be like with my 4 & 2 year olds.

Along the way, I was jotting down some things I learned that I thought I would pass on to you.  :-)

ONE | Prepare and excite them beforehand
I found that talking a lot about our upcoming trip and preparing the kids to go on the airplane, was really fun for them. I printed out a calendar and drew an airplane on the day we were going to leave, then we crossed the days off as they passed. It built up quite a bit excitement and anticipation, so when it came time to actually go, they were just so excited and happy, they didn't even think to misbehave.

TWO | Get ID Bracelets for them
This is HUGE. At least it was for me. Kids have tendencies to wander and explore. And in crowded places like airports, parking lots, or theme parks, I feel like the fear of them getting lost brings on a lot of anxiety, which in turn makes traveling with them super stressful. I got a couple of ID bracelets for my kids from Road ID, and I was super happy with them. Obviously, they wouldn't prevent my kids from wandering off, but it gave me a little peace of mind that if they did get lost, all of my info would be on the bracelet.

THREE | Pack tons of snacks
This is a given, I think. But I would suggest packing things that they only get on special occasions. Pack things that are easy for them to eat and that won't be super messy. Also, this goes with #1, but take them shopping with you for their "travel snacks." Involving them in the process will help them to get prepared for the trip.

FOUR | Let them carry their own backpack
I had a backpack for each of my kids, and we loaded it up with their special travel snacks and a few other things (toys, diapers... etc). The fact that they got to carry their own bag and be in charge of it, helped them to feel a little more in control. And I strongly feel that this is one of the reasons they did so well traveling on our trip.

FIVE | Load up on kids apps and shows
iPads, iPhones, Laptops... they will be your best friend while traveling! Search for some new, fun apps for them to try out while you're at the airport or on the plane. Load some movies or shows up for them and you'll be golden!

SIX | Make a big deal of the small things
Whether it's a cab ride, shuttle ride, train ride, or just staring out the window at the airport watching the planes take off.... make it a fun and exciting learning experience. Talk to them about the various jobs people have to help facilitate your travel. TSA agents, Gate employees, the Pilot... etc. Keep them interested and get excited with them! Our kids thought that the shuttle ride over to the airport was the coolest thing ever, because we really talked it up!

SEVEN | Lower your Expectations
This is SO important. Traveling can be really overwhelming for some kids. There are lot of crowds, lines, and things to keep track of. If you expect your kids to be perfectly well behaved, you will find yourself stressed out and overwhelmed. Prepare yourself mentally, and have realistic expectations of our kids. The entire experience will be so much more delightful.

SEVEN | Give them some space
This one is really hard to do with little kids, but it's imperative. Obviously, keep them close and always keep an eye on them, but try not to crowd your kids. It will annoy them and stress them out, and they'll likely have more meltdowns. Give them a little room to breath. And by all means, let them be little. Let them giggle, play and run if they need to. I mean, it goes without saying that you need to be mindful of other travelers, but if your kids are happy, most likely, they'll be happy.

This advise isn't necessarily going to guarantee you stress-free travels, but I hope they help a little bit!!

What would you add to this list??

18 November 2014

Safe Haven.

As parents, we worry all the time, about everything when it comes to out children, don't we?? Bennett struggles a little with with anxiety, which is a hard thing to deal with, for us and for him. You can see when the anxiety is building, and sometimes he'll calm himself down and go off by himself for a minute. But other times it builds and builds and he will just explode. Mostly, I'm just always concerned with his ability to deal with his anxiety. We're working on finding answers for him, for what works and what doesn't. And Easton, he doesn't struggle nearly as much with anxiety, but he does get nervous sometimes when he's out of his comfort zone, as do most kids I think.

The reason why I bring this up, is because I've been noticing something in the past several months that makes me very happy. And that is that the dynamic between Bennett and Easton is developing into to much more than just a sibling relationship. It's becoming a true brotherhood. A safe haven.

I think we all have those people that we can be our complete selves with. We know that when we're feeling anxious or uncomfortable, those people will keep us grounded and balanced. We know we're safe with them. I think that's soooo important that we have people in our lives like that. Those people are good for us, and help us get through the tough times.

And I know that's what Bennett & Easton are for each other right now. It's such a blessing to witness their relationship and watch the trust grow between the two of them. They are each other's refuge when things get overwhelming and there is no judgement between them. I love the reliance that they have on each other, and that they understand each other so completely.

I could gush all day about these two. But really, I'm just so glad they have one another. To have a safe haven within each other.

Who in your life is your safe haven??