Cook With Campbell’s

Posted by Jennifer under Recipe Box, Reviews/Giveaways (No Comments)

 #CookwithCampbells

I had the chance to test out some recipes using the Cook with Campbell’s website last month. Make a recipe, eat the recipe and provide feedback. The campaign didn’t require a blog post however, I thought I’d share some of what I made just for fun.

To start with, I had never used the cook with Campbell’s website before so all the recipes, and cooking with soup, were completely new territory to me.

Cook with Campbells

All the recipes were actually pretty quick, which is pretty great for busy nights. Most of the recipes have pretty simple, staple ingredients. The only issue that I really had was that we did not like the mushroom soup in any of the recipes. I would swap that out for either cream of chicken or cream of celery and most of these meals we would make again on those nights when we’re in a hurry!

Have you ever cooked with Campbell’s?

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A Bed for a Boy {Crib to Toddler Bed Transition}

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (No Comments)

Toddler Bed

Our big boy is 3 1/2 years old, about 45 pounds and 104+cm tall. Since he is now pulling himself to stand, he could not safely stay in his crib.

Half way through dismantling his crib he started to get quite concerned. I asked daddy to take over so that I could hold Isaac and reassure him.

I showed him his toddler bed and told him it was his new bed. I asked him where his bed was and he looked from one bed to the other and then pointed to his crib. Made me laugh.

  • Patience
  • Love
  • Understanding

Isaac needs all of those to help him adjust. A little trick up my sleeve? Making sure that he’s tired each night and really ready to go to bed – so he’s getting to stay up a little later these days.

He seemed to like the bed well enough enough during the day but that night when I put him in it to sleep, he cried and cried and cried and then he would come to find me. We went to bed and he would come out and come to my side of the bed. Finally I just packed up my pillow and laid down on the floor beside his little bed. It took a little bit for his breathing to calm down but he reached his hand down and put it on my shoulder and fell asleep.

The next day at nap time, same thing. But I sat down in the rocking chair in his room with a book and read to myself and he was asleep in 5 minutes.

I guess he just needed some reassurance. His little crib provided lots of security and this little bed doesn’t give that…yet. We’ve been keeping him up a little later than usual to make sure he’s definitely ready to go to bed when we put him down.

But each day is a little easier; he’s getting the hang of it and when he needs it, mama will be there for the security that he needs.

I know that the time is truly short. It seems like just the other day that my mom made the little red fire truck quilt for John’s little bed. John used it on his bed, long after he moved out of his toddler bed. In fact, he used it right up until we set up Isaac’s toddler bed on January 1st. Then, as I was hoping he would, he raced to his room and got it and gave it to Isaac. Then he turned to me and told me he was too big for it now anyway and that he feet always stuck out when he tried to use it.

Firetruck Toddler Bed

Boys, fire trucks, toddler beds, cute quilts – these are the years!

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

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Christmas Eve 2014{Christmas Eve Prep}

Somehow I seem to miss posting on Christmas or through the holidays and find myself playing a little catch up. I suppose I could write and schedule a post in advance but I like to write and share in the same day.

Some pre-Christmas highlights:

Our Jesse Tree.  This year we switched up our book; the book we used the first year I didn’t like, the second book {The Advent Jesse Tree} was pretty good and we used it for several years and this year we did Unwrapping The Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas and I had mixed feelings. I loved the illustrations and I did like many of the ideas presented in the devotional. One idea that struck home for me was her statement of how messy and imperfect Christ’s family tree was. It struck home for me because we have never had a year where all the Jesse Tree ornaments made it onto the tree because we’ve never had a December where we have done the devotions every day. I like to do our Jesse tree devotions in the evening so that we can do them with daddy as a family; but we miss several nights. Previous years I was bothered by that. This year I just embraced it and moved on. His family tree was messy and imperfect and so is our Jesse tree. Christmas came anyway. The purpose of our Jesse tree is to trace our finger through the old testament with anticipation, knowing that He is coming – that He came. Him, focusing on Him. So maybe the tree didn’t turn out perfect, it never does, but as a family we focused more on Him than everything else this Christmas and that’s what it’s about.

We went to Bell Homestead with friends for a homeschooling outing; exploring Christmas in the 1800’s. We learned how to play Dreidel, baked some great shortbread cookies, did some crafts and had a wonderful tour.

We baked a number of goodies in preparation for our Christmas Eve celebration, our Christmas Day dinner with family and our New Years Eve party. We also made a number of paper Christmas ornaments using the Usborne Book of Christmas Decorations that we got on sale. Definitely fun!

And of course we went to The Nutcracker and painted wooden ornaments.

Christmas Eve

We had friends over for a simple meal – chicken sandwiches – with lots of extras like salads, veggies, shrimp and more. And of course all the baked goodies we made. We played Ticket to Ride and introduced some first-timers to the game too. We did singing, and I played {badly} along with some of the carols. Only 3 months of lessons so it went pretty good considering. The only thing was I can’t sing and focus on what I’m supposed to be playing so I quit to enjoy singing along. Speaking of which, one of the highlights was the typo in the song books: 2 tunic doves rather than turtle doves. Try singing that without laughing. Try singing that without laughing while sharing a songbook with my friend Sarah! Impossible!!

Christmas Day 2014 {Christmas Morning}

Christmas Day

No presents until after 6am; Chloe and John arrived in our room at 6:03am. Chloe was watch-watching since 4am+. We woke up Isaac who was dopey but excited. He was crawling all over the place, unsure of what was happening but knowing something great was going to take place. We had a leisurely gift-unwrapping and then a quick breakfast and out the door to church. Christmas Dinner was shared with my sister’s family. We had turkey of course, with carrot cake this year for Jesus’ birthday cake. We don’t get together often so that was enjoyable for the kids; they love their cousins. But being up so early, we were all happy to crash into our beds that evening.

Christmas Days 2014{Christmas Day}

New Year’s Eve

We had a great time on New Years Eve too. We kept it simple, too, with homemade pizza. I made the kids pizza in the oven and DH did the adults on the barbeque. He has a big green egg; it gets crazy hot and takes about 4 minutes to cook a pizza. We ate and played more Ticket to Ride, this time trying out teams in Asia which was really quite fun.

This year for our count-up we had party poppers from the dollar store. They are spring-loaded little capsules that shoot out a handful of confetti. I tried one before hand to make sure it wouldn’t make an overwhelming mess.  It seemed like an acceptable level of mess so we used them. DH thought it was a little anti-climactic and that they were too small but the kids seemed to enjoy them. This year was our latest night ever, wrapping up at almost 10pm!

New Years Eve Decor New Year’s Eve 2014

New Years Day

We kept it simple (again! delicious and simple!) and quiet; a day at home with a delicious dinner planned. Prime rib, loaded baked potatoes, broiled asparagus and chocolate dipped pineapple for dessert made for some delicious dinner. Yum!

A friend had given me a lovely platter the night before – one that matched my mother’s china set – so I immediately put it to use. Beautiful and useful; the perfect combination!

New Years Day2015New Years Day 2015

My husband had some time off over the holidays so we were able to spend a lot of family time together.

So there you have it. Goodbye 2014 and welcome 2015! Did you do anything to celebrate?

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12.14 Ramblings

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (1 Comment)

Isaac Passport

While we were getting Christmas pictures taken the other day, I had Isaac’s new passport photo taken. This is the second time I brought him in for one. The first time they didn’t want to take his picture because he won’t close his mouth and I can’t make him not smile; both are passport photo requirements. If you know our family, or have been a reader around this space for a while, you will know my son has special needs. Well, I took him down to the Passport Office in Hamilton and asked them what I should do for his photo. They let me know that they are more lenient with special needs people’s photos. So I’m sending in his application this week, I’ll update and let you know if it is accepted!

John's Sandwich

John has had a busy month too. He passed his Red Cross Swim Kids level one and is moving up to level two in January. He also decided that his neighborhood friend, who doesn’t know Jesus, needs a bible and plans to present it at Christmas. He wrapped it and it’s already to go!

The other day John asked me if he could have a snack. I said yes and next thing you know, John has made himself a ham sandwich. He dug out the bread and mustard, sliced his own cheese using a cheese plane and even put on lettuce! I was pleased at his independence but at the same time, there is a tiny little pang as I realize that my little boy is steadily on his way to becoming not a little boy.

And then he shows up to breakfast wearing a skipping rope to lasso the cattle and I realize that there is still lots of little boy left in him!

Speaking on silly little boys…he climbed into my bed the other morning when the sun wasn’t quite up. His hair was all tousled but his eyes sparkled. “Mom, I can whistle!” he tells me. “But you have to be very, very quiet.” He then proceeds to squint up his eyes and do something funny with his face. I can’t help but laugh. Then it dawns on me. “John?” I ask, “Are you trying to whistle through your nose?”. “Yes, and it’s not working. You aren’t being quiet enough!”. {maybe it loses in the retelling but it had me chuckling to myself all morning}.

Painting Christmas Ornaments

Chloe will be in Swim Kids Four in January. She didn’t quite finish the Swim Kids Five requirements so she was a little disappointed. On a happy-ish note, Chloe’s new glasses are on order. A visit to the optometrist two weeks ago revealed that Chloe’s current reading glasses were an incorrect prescription and that she needs glasses all the time, with a specialized bi-focal lens for reading. She wasn’t overly thrilled but I am. She struggles with reading and I’m hoping this will help!

The children have been busy this month helping me do some baking, painting ornaments for gifts and we’ve actually had a couple field trips this month too. It’s been busy, but a good busy.

This week we have friends coming over Christmas Eve and family coming over Christmas Day; more busy…but good busy. I’m so thankful for all the great people in our lives!

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Attending The Nutcracker Ballet with Children

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (3 Comments)

Christmas Nutcracker 

Someone once said, “the days are long but the years are short”. I’m not sure if the original intent was in relation to motherhood however that was the context in which is was quoted to me. There have been season where I felt that it was applicable and accurate though lately, I feel that both the days and the years are short; the days seem to fly by.

Last week we had our Christmas pictures taken; Superstore is quite economical and does a good job. I’m not fussy; a photo where all three are looking in any direction somewhat happy and I’m happy.

Friday Chloe (7), John (6) and myself went to see The Nutcracker Ballet at the Burlington Performing Arts Center. The CBYE and the National Ballet of Cuba put on the performance each year, some years here in the Hamilton/Burlington area and other years in Havana. They kindly offer homeschoolers a significant discount and allow us to attend the school performance matinee.

We also went to see the performance in 2010 (Chloe was 3) and in 2011 (Chloe was 3, John was 4). Isaac is 3.5 this year but I didn’t think he was quite ready for it this year. I believe I will take him next year though.

ON TAKING SMALL CHILDREN

Do arrive early. It allows you time to pick up your tickets from the box office, snap some photos, buy a souvenir and make a trip to the restroom. It also allows you plenty of time to get settled in your seats.

Do ask for a theatre booster seat for smaller children. Chloe and John (7, 6) were fine this year however previous years we made use of them. The performance will capture their attention much more if they have a good view.

Do prepare them by reading or telling them a little about the story. We have an Usborne book, not this one but similar, that we have read a number of times. Remember, this is a ballet and there is amazing music but no speaking. Knowing the story will help them follow along and they will be excited as the recognize each part of the story being acted out.

The show is about 2 hours but there is an intermission {about 15 minutes} in between Act I and Act II. It’s the perfect time to stretch little legs, ask how they are enjoying it and take an additional trip to the rest room.

Attending the ballet on a school matinee day, it’s pretty family friendly. There were many others with young children there so if your little one is a little wiggly, it’s OK.

My two oldest children did well at the performance from age 3+ however my youngest is 3 but not quite ready. I would say it depends on on your child.

Wondering what to wear? We’ve only ever attended the matinee performances that involve the seniors discounted performance/school matinees so I can only speak for that but it ranges from casual to business dressy. We chose to dress up a bit, making it a special occasion. Chloe and I wore dresses and John wore a nice red argyle sweater. We made the whole day special by enjoying lunch out as well.  What a fun day it was!

THE STORY

ACT I

The Party – The ballet opens with the guests arriving and there is a Christmas party at the Stahlbaum household. The children play and dance, welcomed by Clara {one of the main characters} and Fritz, her brother. {I love watching the adults dancing, I wish we had Christmas parties with beautiful dancing like this and long swishy dresses!} Drosselmeyer, the godfather and a toymaker with a flair for the dramatic, gives gifts, with Clara receiving a beautiful wooden nutcracker. Fritz, jealous, breaks it but Drosselmeyer fixes it for Clara with a little magic. The party winds down and the family retires for the night. Clara creeps back down to the tree in her nightclothes to check on her Nutcracker and falls asleep by the tree holding him.

The Fight – The clock strikes midnight and Clara wakes up and is frightened, surrounded by mice. {The little ballet mice are so adorable!!}. Then as the Christmas tree grows taller, the mice are joined by rats and the fierce Rat King. Thankfully, the Nutcracker prince and his brave toy soldiers engage the rats in a battle and the rats/mice are defeated.

The Nutcracker and Drosselmeyer take Clara on a magical journey, beginning in the magical Land of Snow. The snow queen and beautiful snowflake fairies put on a magical dance. 

ACT II

Land of Sweets – The Land of Sweets is a magical place and they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy who has a special show put on in Clara’s honor. The dances include Spanish, Arabian (Chloe enjoyed this “snake” dance), Russian (mommy’s favorite) and Chinese dances as well as the Waltz of the Flowers. Of course the grand finale involves a stunning dance performance by the Sugar Plum Fairy herself and her prince.

Waking Up – The show ends as Clara finds herself back in the chair by the tree holding her little wooden Nutcracker, the dream ending.

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Oh, Deer! {a cookie recipe}

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Reindeer cookies

These Peanut Butter Reindeer Cookies were super easy to make and absolutely adorable. The recipe came from BakerGirl.

I had been planning to make them with my children but realized that the nose, eyes and antlers needed to be put on directly after they are removed from the oven otherwise the cookies set too much for them to stay on. Alas, due to the hot pans, the children didn’t get to decorate them but they enjoyed eating them very much!!

Continuing on with our deer theme, I went up to my parents with my bow. My first year bow hunting for a deer…I was really hoping to get one. However, it was not to be. My sister was also visiting that week and between my children and hers, the yard and property was just too busy for the deer to come around. That, and I had a fever and was ill the entire week.

I did have a couple evening deer sightings though, just not during legal hunting time. I thought perhaps I would get back up before the season ended but that didn’t work out as planned either.

Oh well. No deer but the reindeer cookies were pretty tasty anyway.

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Little Passports and a Brigadeiro Recipe

Japan Little Passports

We signed up for Little Passports this past summer. I’d read good things about it. My children love to get mail and I was tired of Chirp magazine.

Our first box contained a welcome letter from Sam and Sofia, the friends who go on international adventures and send us souvenirs, post cards and more each month. We also received the cutest suitcase to keep all our mail in each month. Let me tell you, there was excitement in the house!

The children love getting our monthly mail and I love the simplicity and educational value of the package, not to mention the fact that it’s just on subscription!

Our first package was from Japan. The children loved the origami activity. Both needed a little help to complete it but boy, John was sure pleased with his boats!!
A recent package was from Brazil. The children were very excited over the beautiful piece of amethyst from the Brazilian mine. We also made the recipe included in our Brazil Activities card: Beigadeiros, a chocolaty Brazilian treat! {and I share below!}.

One of the things I love most about this box is that we aren’t learning all there is to know about the countries nor does it require a huge amount of time or energy on my part. I’m a busy mama. We homeschool. We have activities. My special needs child has appointments constantly. The last thing I need is something labour-intensive that will sit undone, leaving me feel guilty each time I see it. This doesn’t! It suits our family perfectly (my children are 3, 6, 7 for reference).

The monthly Little Passports package is simple:

  • A letter and post card that have some fun information about where Sam and Sofia visited
  • A boarding pass (I think it has a code for related online games but we’ve never used that part of it)
  • A flag sticker {*stamp*} for the passport you receive in the welcome package
  • A pushpin sticker to mark on your map where you’ve “been” each month with Sam and Sofia {full fold out world map is part of the welcome kit}.
  • A souvenir {so far we’ve received a sushi eraser and a package of origami paper/instructions from Japan, a camera where you press the button to see the photos of France and the kids favorite so far – the amethyst rock.}
  • Stickers for your suitcase. We haven’t put them on our suitcase though because I just don’t want to mess it all up! lol. We do a sticker collage instead.
  • You also get an activity sheet which, in addition to the activities, seems to have a recipe in it frequently; not sure if it will every month but our latest two months have.

It’s a great introduction to world geography and different cultures. You can expand it more with the online activities, add in some books from the library or whatnot…or you can simply just enjoy an hour a month reading the post card, marking your map, doing the few activities and trying the recipe.

With Christmas coming up, it would make a really fun gift for the child in your life…or multiple children. Chloe and John share the subscription. The activity sheet usually has more than one thing to do and the origami package had 6 or 8 different things to make in it so it was easy to share. {even mama made one!}

Missionary Moments:

We have a Missionary Map downstairs and when missionaries come through, we put their prayer cards up on the wall. I was excited to have Brazil this month because a friend I grew up with is a missionary in Brazil! We didn’t have a missionary that we knew of in Japan or in France so we just used it as an opportunity to pray for the unknown missionaries there and that God would send more to those countries. {I don’t know if this is telling tales out of school but John prays constantly that God would let him be a missionary to somewhere when he grows up}.

Brazil Little Passports

Brigadeiro Recipe

Recipe {tweaked a teensy bit} from our Little Passports monthly package

Melt 3 tbsp butter over medium heat then add one can of condensed milk. Dissolve 3 tbsp of cocoa in 1/2 a cup of water and add to the pan. Stir for 15-20 minutes until it thickens {mixture should stay separated for a moment when you drag a spoon through it}. Spread on a plate and cool in the fridge for 20 minutes. Once chilled, drop small amounts in to toasted coconut and roll around until coated. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes and ta da! They’re ready to eat!

So what are you thinking? Have you tried Little Passports before? How about Brigadeiros?

  • This post contains Little Passports affiliate link which I just signed up for. it means my family earns a little bit from your purchase so thank you! I am thrilled with our experience and am happy to answer any questions you have about our experience. I was in no way compensated for this post. Our subscription was bought and paid for with our own hard-earned dollars and worth it in my opinion!
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Remembrance Day

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (No Comments)

Remembrance Day

Photo Source

On Sunday our church had a beautiful Remembrance Day-in-advance service and today we visited the Toronto Zoo to celebrate Remembrance Day with their special memorial. It was a very nice service.

I typically shed tears on Remembrance Day as I think about the soldiers and their bravery, the families left behind, the ugliness, dirtiness and suffering of war and the incredible freedom that we now have because of it.

My heart is full of thankfulness and gratitude as we remember the sacrifices made for that which is good, beautiful, free…

Lest we forget!

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Robyn & Wren {sale!}

Posted by Jennifer under Reviews/Giveaways (2 Comments)

Robyn & Wren offered a giveaway on their Facebook page last week. A friend commented on their post so of course it showed up in my newsfeed. I hopped on over to have a look and was delighted with what I found.

My little girl is a tall 7 year old and growing every day. It’s getting more challenging to find clothing that we can agree on; clothing that we both like, that is fun and most importantly…modest!

Robyn & Wren have just that. Fun clothing, bright colors, modest…and they have a sale on right now too; the prices are incredible. I ordered several dresses.

Look at this super sweet Strawberry Lemonade Alice knot dress. Only $21.00 Wish I would have ordered it. I love the colors.

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How’s this for fun? My Sunshine Annie dress is on sale for $22.00.

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And this Good and Perfect Set is probably my favorite with the verse sewn on: James 1:17, a verse that became special to my heart after our first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. $27.00 for a top and skirt is pretty great but you can purchase the skirt only for $17.00.

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A Friend Loves Dress is awfully sweet; I love the length and simplicity of the style and the bright colors and the bow make it fun.

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So we haven’t received our order yet; I may or may not do an actual in real life review of our dresses but I just had to give a big shout out to my readers to share the SALE!

 

*No compensation was received for this post. It isn’t intended to endorse or review the products, but simply a sale announcement I am excited to share.*

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Easy Pickled Beets Recipe

Posted by Jennifer under Recipe Box (No Comments)

Pickled Beets 2

At $1.88 for 6+ quarts of beets, it’s hard to beat beats for price I think. I just love pickled beets and so does my middle man, John. Isaac might too, but he’s never had them because he’s messy and beets stain. DH can take or leave them and Chloe would definitely leave them! What can I say?

Anyway, rooting through my red recipe box I could not find my beet recipe anywhere. Thankfully I posted it here on my blog so I could look it up and print it out. So without further adieu: Easy Pickled Beets.

Toddler in the Kitchen

Easy Pickled Beets (6 Quart Batch)

  • 6 quarts of beets
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 7  cups vinegar
  • 3 cups of water
  1. Wash your beets and then you can either #1 cook them and then peel them. This works well if your beets are small or #2 you can peel them, cut them and then cook them. Since my bushel didn’t contain consistently sized beets, I did both ways. I cooked the small ones first then peeled them and the larger ones I peeled then cut and cooked. It was slightly easier to peel the cooked beets but honestly? I don’t think it was really made too much difference one way or the other.*
  2. Combine all the ingredients (except the beets) in a pot and bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Pack beets into hot jars with 1/4” headspace (room at the top). Ladle hot liquid (without cinnamon sticks) into the jars, keeping your headspace.
  4. Remove air bubbles (just run a knife around the edge of the interior of the jar), screw 2pc lids on.
  5. Process 30 minutes in boiling water canner. {A stock pot with boiling water…add your jars…make sure that the water covers the top. When the temperature increases again, turn your heat down slightly so the water with the jars isn’t at a rolling boil}.

Pickled Beets

*today I peeled raw and I think maybe your hands end up pinker? Kind of a happy color though and a testament to my productive day?

*I added a few little notes in italics this time I posted since last time there were some comments about being unsure of the ‘terms’. Hope that helps.

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