Thursday, November 27, 2014

Family Cookbook: Bart's Simple Marinara Sauce (No Refined Sugar...Hooray!)

Delicious with or without meat, and our kids 
love this way better than store-bought sauce from a bottle!

We kept running out of the store-bought sauce on the nights we were all craving spaghetti so Bart did a little research and found this super simple homemade marinara sauce we could whip up quickly, with ingredients we have on hand all the time, and that everyone would love. He not only found a sauce and tweaked it so it tastes amazing, but the children squeal with delight when they know we're going to have "Dad's Homemade Sauce" and that makes us as parents love it even more!  Best part about it other than that we all love the way it tastes, is that is doesn't contain any refined sugar!  That's always a big deal around here - to find a cheaper, simpler, better tasting product or recipe without refined sugars or refined grains.  So...hooray!!!

3 - 15 oz. cans crushed or diced tomatoes, undrained or partially drained, depending on how thick you like your sauce (we don't drain them, but simmer longer - see instructions below)
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Pinch of ground black pepper, to taste - optional, but we add this
Pinch of red pepper flakes (if you like a little more heat - we don't add this, but it would be good if you want a bit more of a kick) - optional

Pour tomatoes into a large saucepan.  Using an immersion blender or a hand potato masher (or you could do this in a regular blender or a food processor) blend tomatoes until as finely diced or pureed as preferred (we prefer this fairly pureed).  Add all other ingredients to the tomato puree.  Heat over medium heat until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes to let flavors meld or up to 1 hour for a thicker sauce.  Add cooked ground beef or cooked and shredded chicken if desired.  Use for whatever you like marinara sauce for.  We typically serve this over whole wheat spaghetti noodles or cooked spaghetti squash.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A More Positive Perspective on Life...Works!

This worked so well for my outlook on life in October that I knew I had to continue doing it!

I smile every time I see this hanging in the hallway by my bedroom.
Focusing on the highlights of the month somehow kept gratitude at the forefront
of my daily living and provided the extra motivation I needed to make the planned
memory making moments really count.  Thanks Bart for the great suggestion!

What a November it has been thus far!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Family Scrapbook: General Women's Meeting Girls Night

This was...
sooo much fun!  

 We usually get together for the General Women's Meeting each year as a family (our Mom and all the girls/sisters), but this year, my sister Amy decided to turn it into something extra fun and special, especially now that all girls 8 years and older are invited.  She decided to have us all over for a sleepover.  It was such a blast!  It doesn't hurt either that Amy has a serious talent for planning parties & celebrations.  Everything you're invited to by her, you have to consider yourself super blessed, because she knows how to have a good time and make it special for everyone involved!

After the Meeting, a delicious dinner of Thai food (oh was sooo good!), and playing a game, we decided to give mud masks a try at Amy's suggestion.  Putting the masks on each other, especially my girls who had never tried anything like it, made everyone laugh and smile and as the mask dried and tightened it was hilarious to see everyone's reactions.  It was more of a giggle fest than a beauty fest.  I wish the pictures could have adequately captured the humor and excitement in the room!  This was a seriously fun moment to remember!   After our "spa" time, we ended this wonderful night with, of course, a chick flick! 

Next morning I received the cutest good morning text from Bart with this sweet picture.
Him and the twins had a fun night as well and texted to wish us a good morning.
It was such a good way to wake up!

Ella and I texted back our own good morning!  After getting up, and while the rest of the house was still asleep, I painted Ella's fingernails, which she was dying to have done the night before.  We had our own little morning makeover and spa moment!

Next morning everyone was a bit groggy from the last night before, except for Ella who was perked up with her sparkly smile and gorgeous fingernails!  I had a hard time getting anyone to let me take their picture.  Liv and Grace had a hard time even keeping their eyes open.  Oooooh...these are 3 of the MOST beautiful faces in the whole world to me...tired or not!

Amy was the hardest to get a picture of!  I had to take pictures fast and most of them unexpectedly.  She wasn't too thrilled about being photographed with "bedhead" I don't think.  I have to say though, it's seriously not fair that she is so amazingly gorgeous even first thing in the morning!

 Matt (my brother-in-law) came home after his own night out with his 3 boys...3 of the cutest nephews you'll ever see!  Matt is one of the nicest guys ever!  He was a sweetheart and made us the yummiest breakfast.  We had Buttermilk Waffles with our absolute favorite Coconut Syrup, grapes, scrambled eggs, and orange juice.  It was a morning of deliciousness.  Click on the links above to check out even more tried and truly good recipes.  They are all from Amy and her sister-in-laws' super yum website

Thank you Amy for such a wonderful time!  Can't wait to do something like it again in 6 months!  And were in our thoughts and hearts.  We missed you!  You were here in spirit that's for sure!  We'll have to find a creative way to get you here next time!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Special Occasions: Pumpkin Cake Mix Cookies

Olivia wanted to make these seasonal cookies to take to her Halloween party tonight and we realized this super simple recipe wasn't posted for her to use.  So Liv...this post is for you babe!  Have fun tonight!  And as we always tell our children when they leave the house...
"We love you!  Make good choices!"

1 spice or yellow cake mix 
1 small can (15 oz.) pumpkin (with pumpkin pie spices in it or not *see note below)
Optional Mix-Ins:  chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, raisins, or chopped pecans or frost with a cream cheese frosting instead

*Recipe Note:  For a pumpkin flavored cookie you need to have some spice flavoring in it.  Do not use yellow cake mix with plain pumpkin or it will not taste like a pumpkin cookie.  Use a combination of spice cake with plain pumpkin or yellow cake with pie spiced canned pumpkin. 

Combine cake mix and canned pumpkin with mixer.  Stir in mix-ins as desired.  Drop tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.  Cookies do not spread out during baking – flatten prior to baking as desired.  Bake at 350° F for 12-15 minutes (adjust baking time accordingly for larger cookies).  Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.  Makes about 24 small cookies.

Recipe Source:   Unknown

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Last Minute Halloween Wishes (free printable)

I just whipped this up really quick to give out to my visiting teaching sisters.  It might not be a graphical work of art, but it's simple, inexpensive, and effective at showing others you're thinking of them.  It's great for visiting or home teaching, neighbors or friends.  I put it with a pretty, simple journal (because it went with my monthly inspirational message I had prepared) instead of goodies (Heaven knows we get enough of those this time of year and I don't need any more temptations!!!)  It is also a quick and easy alternative to "Booing" people that goes around some neighborhoods or wards.  It's a great alternative with no demands required of the receiver - an aspect of the whole "booing" thing that sometimes drives people a little crazy.  All in all I love the poem - and it's a meaningful way to tell someone you care this season!  To get a free printable of this poem (without the "visiting teachers" part) click here or here.

Clip Art courtesy of Chris Gunn found on this site.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Feel Like I Have a Reboot Romance! (Free Printable)

Through all our weekly struggles one of the things we do most consistently as a family and my rebooting secret (though it's no secret really), which has brought me (and I know Bart as well) the greatest sense of fulfillment, serenity, joy, and oh looooove!!!(...okay I'm down right giddy!!! about it) is Family Council.  Next to family prayer, family scripture study, and Family Home Evening Family Council is the most inspired family activity for greater joy and harmony in my mind!!!  In all honesty, I've grown completely dependent on it over the last couple of years, and feel like I need a "V8 Moment" so to speak (you know the old commercials:)) when we miss it.  I'm not promoting the juice - but I am a huge proponent of Family Council!  I just don't feel like my head is on straight for the following week nor do things function nearly as well without Family Council.  I've got to have a full-system reboot at least once weekly!!!  No lie.  It's that critical for my emotional well being!  Maybe when my children are older it won't seem so life and death in terms of my emotionality and home management, but for now with raising 5 children and keeping my head about me with the demands of life - it's essential!

Bart uses this analogy about computers that I feel like compares exactly to how I feel about the magic of Family Council.  He has explained to our children about why it is important to shut down a computer every so often.  He likes to compare a hard drive to a spine and has explained to the kids that after a while the spine gets out of alignment and needs to have an adjustment/ reboot to get things all back in their proper place.  This is exactly what Family Council does!  I am completely converted!  If done with some thought and preparation, Family Council is the best reboot/ spinal alignment that gets everything and everyone back on track and functioning a whole lot better.

What makes a good Family Council is a fairly personal thing and not an answer any one person has the exact right solution for, but for us and probably for most folks there are some basic standard areas for families that need realigning/ rebooting by the end of the week.  Sometimes we're in such a hurry that we can do almost nothing more than collaborate our calendars for the week/ month, and that is okay and necessary on occasion.  But, when we have/ take the time to do a little more during Family Council something magical happens.  We all feel more loved, more unified, more accountable, and more clear about the things that pertain to our family.  As we have started addressing and communicating about even more of the important issues - we have come to understand that for a long time we truly were living way below our privileges.  Family Council is a complete gift and privilege I've come to discover, from a very loving Heavenly Father, designed to do more than just calendar as a family.  I don't know what is on most family's agenda, but here's the agenda we created and use every Saturday or Sunday morning when we hold ours.  We love it!  One of my favorite parts has become the compliment part.  We start with one person and everyone goes around in a circle and says something good that they saw that person do that week.  If we're in a hurry, the compliment may come down to a single word that described that person that week.  Did that make any sense?  Oh well...I'm not a get the point!  It's awesome!!! Can you tell I love Family Council! ???

For a blank copy of our agenda click here and...
for a more customizable blank copy of this form click here.
Happy Counciling!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

" small and simple things are great things brought to pass."

"Always make your bed first...
the state of your bed is the state of your head!"

Two of the best pieces of advice anyone ever gave me in regards to physical clean-up and emotionally-righting oneself!  If organizing one's bedroom or emotionally-righting oneself (outside of the spiritual essentials of prayer and scripture study, of course) truly has a beginning...well...this is it!  It works!  They were originally two separate pieces of advice:  "Always make your bed first!" as advised by my mother (all growing up when trying to tackle cleaning my bedroom when it reached the state of atrociousness) and "The state of your bed is the state of your head!" as advised by my dear friend Rebecca M. (while trying to right my emotional state of mind).  But alas!  They have morphed into one beautiful life mantra!  Alma 37:6 is true!  I love it when simple advice rings with such truth that you are in an instant, for ever and for always changed for the better!  Thanks Mom and Rebecca for lovingly and patiently teaching me these simple principles.  You've made my life a little lighter, a little brighter, and a whole lot righter through your wisdom and example!  It changed my life as an overwhelmed kid and teenager, and then throughout my years as a mother, wife, home-maker, and organizer.  But...most importantly... it continues to change and renew ME every day!  I know...I felt the magic again as I made my bed TODAY!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...