Summer Spectacular Bucket List

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2016 Summer Bucket List:

  1. Trip to Napa
  2. See the Dixie Chicks in concert with my sisterIMG_7763
  3. Hike at least 3 new places in Oregon
  4. Plan epic road trip
  5. Build Poteger Garden in front yard
  6. Build a fire pit in back yard
  7. Spend time relaxing on the deck
  8. Horseback riding with Paige
  9. Go paddle boarding
  10. Spend some time on the Oregon Coast

My kiddos just finished school this past week.  I’ve had summer on my brain and my soul just screaming for the fun and freedom of summer.  I have been thinking a lot lately about wanting to be more present and to seize the day.  I am feeling time slip away as my kiddos are in middle school and high school.  I honestly think there are days where I can literally feel the sand of the hour glass slipping through my hands.  I happened to sit in on a live chat with a fabulous women’s leadership group I belong to and it was all about how to have an awesome summer.  One of the things I had already started was a bucket list for summer.  While there are several things that are just what I want to do, there are several that are more family oriented or at least the whole crew can enjoy.  I mean who doesn’t love eating fresh produce from the garden and hanging by the campfire roasting marshmallows right?IMG_7497 2

On the list on how to have an awesome summer was to hold a family meeting and ask each person one thing they want to do this summer.  Wow what a cool idea!

Also on the list, pick a theme for the summer.  Now I’m all about themes.  I picked a theme for the year so this one was right up my alley. I got pretty darn excited about that one and figured it might also be a good way to keep me focused and in the moment of enjoying every second of the glorious summer months and help to zero in on some of the cool stuff we wanted to do as a family.  Our theme is…Family Fun First!  On the bucket list are things that relate to each person in our family and one thing they really want to do.  It’s a good start to creating an epic family summer full of fun.IMG_7392

I am excited to share more with you as we work our way down the bucket list.  Napa is first up and it was a trip that did not disappoint.

Minion Birthday Bash

Minion Birthday

It’s February and that means it’s the month of Miss Sparkly Paige.  Our tradition as we roll past the holidays and into the new year is to begin the planning of our next epic birthday party theme to celebrate our fabulous Paige.  Over the past several years she has become a Pinterest queen just like her Mama.  She dives into the Pinterest world looking for her next big creative inspiration.  This year she decided to go with her favorite movie and animated characters- Minions.  And I have to say I was excited to build this party out. I mean who doesn’t love these adorable, funny, happy little characters?  Their upbeat, super fun attitude was perfect to celebrate Miss Paige’s 12th Birthday.

Invites set the tone for all the glorious fun to be had.  We had fun perusing through all the great invite ideas and options.  We settled on one we could easily adjust and make for our selves thanks to Dawn Nicole at DIY Design Den.  She has these adorable printables that were super easy for me to go into Photoshop Elements and add our details. The invites were perfect! We also used the water bottle printables for our mason jars to hold our umbrella straws and utensils.

We always look for one crafty project and of course a super cute and yummy cupcake.  The inspiration on this theme was wildly plentiful!  We found a ton of fun ideas for the cupcakes, but zeroed in on using Twinkies to create Minion toppers and an extra treat too.  You can never have too much sugar can you?  We made my favorite Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake recipe from The Cupcake Project with the vanilla bean buttercream frosting. The cupcakes are moist and the vanilla flavor is out of this world.  They melt in our mouth.  I have to say honestly, these make the absolute yummiest vanilla cupcakes ever!

I have tried a million vanilla cupcake recipes and this is hands down the very best out there.  The cupcake project also has a chocolate cupcake that is to die for! We found awesome inspiration for our design from Inspired Dreamer. Paige and I came up with the idea to dip the Twinkies in yellow melting chocolates we picked up from JoAnne Fabrics to give our little guys a more authentic, yellow look. And everything tastes better dipped in chocolate right?  It was a bit tricky to get them dipped and smooth.  I think our final product came out super cute and the girls LOVED them!  So much so they took selfies with them-guess that is the official sign of success in this day and age.  LOL!

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Our crafty project was to make felt goodie bags that looked like minions.  We got the idea from an Etsy site.  If you don’t sew it’s a great option, but this is one of our favorite things to do together so Paige and I set off to create our own.  They were fairly simple to make and I think they came out great.  Again the girls were over the moon excited about the bags and kept asking if they got to take one home.  That sure makes a Mama’s heart happy!

To make the bags you will need:

  • Two colors of purple felt (or fleece)
  • Yellow felt
  • White, black and grey felt for eyes and mouth
  • Yellow, white and purple thread
  • Googlie eyes
  • Craft glue (I use Tacky Glue)

*The amount of felt will depend on how many bags you are making.  We did 5 of each with 1 yd of felt and had a ton left over.  We bought 2 sheets of square felt for the black, grey and white and also had plenty to make our bags.

Instructions for the bags:

  • Cut the bags in a square shape about 7” wide by 8” high.
  • Cut the straps 1 ½” wide by 16” long from black felt.
  • I used a couple of my circle punches to make circle stencils to cut the white and grey for the eyes.
  • We cut ½” wide by 10” long black strips for the goggles
  • For the mouths we played with different shapes and sizes. The purple minions we just did white teeth and the yellow ones’ black mouths with white teeth.
  • Fold the top of the bag over 1” and sew a ¼” seam to create a finished edge at top of the bag.
  • Place the black google strip in and pin in place.
  • Add one or two of the eyes with white circle on top pf grey felt circle and hand stitch into place.
  • Place mouth and teeth pieces and hand sew into place.
  • Place purple hair pieces for purple ones and hand sew in place.
  • Attach strap to rough edge of the bag without the face pieces and sew on top of finish seam so you can’t see the extra stitching.
  • Place front and back pieces of the bag finished sides together and stitch a ¼” or a bit wider seam.
  • Turn bag right side out and glue the googlie eyes onto the eye felt piece.

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Emilie at Baby Loving Mama gave us the inspiration for fun goodies for our treat bag.  Her printables were so stinking adorable and super easy to make.  She gave us lots of ideas for treats inside and were were able to find them at a local candy store.  If I had been more on my game I would have ordered online since we also found some great treats at Oriental Trading Company.

A few more resources for your research:

  1. Shrunken Moons idea
  2. Minion Hats
  3. More Printables
  4. Bannana Printable outfit
  5. Party Printable Pack

 

CINNAMON BAKED FRENCH TOAST

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I LOVE breakfast, but I am one of those people who need to be awake for a bit before I like to eat.  I am always on the hunt for amazing (sweet) yummy things to eat for my favorite meal.  When I stumbled across this fabulous recipe from Kim’s post on her blog Lovin’ From the Oven I was super excited.   It checked off all the boxes.  Easy-check, sweet yumminess-check, kids love it-check, and even better,  enough for some left overs-check!  I absolutely love that you can basically prepare it the night before and then pop it in the oven while you are waking up and waiting for your coffee to brew.

This baked French Toast made the whole house smell spectacular.  It is cinnamon yumminess at it’s most awesome.  Warm, soft goodness with a crunchy cinnamon top that soaks up the warm syrup. We could hardly wait for it to finish baking.  And then when we pulled it out of the oven it looked just as amazing as it smelled.  The ultimate test- as we pulled it out of the oven our teen and pre-teen got out of bed and came running down the stairs to see what was in cooking.  The review from the kiddos?  Epic breakfast!  And that is from our picky eaters.  Tried it out a second time the very next weekend when my daughter had a sleepover with a friend, again when we hosted five exchange students at our home and it has now become our go to breakfast on the weekends.  I guess you can say we are hooked on this yumminess!

So I have a little secret to share with you, I have a grand dream to someday own a Bed & Breakfast.  I love, love, love B & B’s!  The quaintness, meeting fun and interesting people from all over the world, hearing their stories and especially sitting around the table breaking bread together while enjoying the inn owners love of cooking for others.  My husband and I seek out B & B’s whenever we travel and can accommodate it.  They combine many of my favorite things, decorating, entertaining, talking, inspiring a love of travel and of course cooking.  I have been gathering breakfast recipes and cookbooks for years to build a library of great breakfasts to amaze and wow our someday guests. This one has joined the list.

Needless to say this breakfast recipe was a mic drop for this working Mommy.

CINNAMON BAKED FRENCH TOAST

Ingredients

  • 1 LOAF STALE BREAD (I USED CHALLAH, BUT HAVE ALSO USED BRIOCHE)
  • 8 WHOLE EGGS
  • 2 CUPS MILK
  • 1/2 CUP HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM
  • 3/4 CUPS SUGAR
  • 2 TABLESPOONS VANILLA
  • 1/2 CUP AP FLOUR
  • 1/2 CUP FIRMLY PACKED BROWN SUGAR
  • 1 TEASPOON CINNAMON
  • 1/4 TEASPOON SALT
  • 1 STICK COLD BUTTER, CUBED

Instructions

  1. GREASE A 9 X 13 INCH PAN. PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 350 DEGREES.
  2. TEAR THE BREAD INTO CHUNKS AND PLACE THEM IN THE GREASED PAN.
  3. MIX TOGETHER EGGS, MILK, CREAM, SUGAR, AND VANILLA.
  4. POUR THE MIXTURE EVENLY OVER THE BREAD. COVER AND REFRIGERATE OVERNIGHT.
  5. IN ANOTHER BOWL, MIX TOGETHER THE FLOUR, BROWN SUGAR, CINNAMON, AND SALT. ADD THE BUTTER AND MIX UNTIL THE BATTER COMES SOMEWHAT TOGETHER, LIKE LITTLE PEBBLES. (I USED A FOOD PROCESSOR TO MAKE THIS EASIER AND FASTER) STORE IN A PLASTIC BAG IN THE FRIDGE.
  6. TAKE YOUR PAN WITH THE SOAKING BREAD INSIDE AND SPRINKLE CRUMB MIXTURE ON TOP.
  7. IF YOU LIKE SOGGIER FRENCH TOAST, BAKE FOR 45 MINUTES. FOR A FIRMER FRENCH TOAST, BAKE FOR AN HOUR.
  8. SERVE WARM WITH MAPLE SYRUP AND BUTTER, IF DESIRED.
http://joyfultrek.com/cinnamon-baked-french-toast/

 

Word of the Year- CONNECTION

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”   -Voltaire
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Word of the year- CONNECTION

I have been giving a great deal of thought in recent weeks about what my word/theme for 2016 would be. Admittedly, 2015 was a hard year. There were some great highs that I am so incredibly grateful for – especially a bucket list trip to New Zealand which was nothing short of epic. But the year has been dominated by numerous bumps in the road which has left me feeling weary, depressed and quite honestly with a bucket that is empty. I almost feel guilty to be in this place. I know I am so blessed to have a healthy family, a husband whom I adore, a good paying job which ties deeply to my passions, a roof over my head and food on the table. The question that has been nagging at me has been how do I pull myself out of this funk so I can return to a place of joy and peace?

18b1ce_9aed668dce4c4d4faf977a9afe1c6824A friend of mine decided she was going to join a 21 days of gratitude challenge. I thought what an awesome way to end the year and refocus myself on all the good things in the world and my life. I had been kicking around the idea of connection as my word- what a perfect way to start connecting, so I jumped in with both feet. I have been reading the lovely articles from kindspring.org working to incorporate the ideas to focus on gratitude. I also decided to join an amazing group of inspiring women called Women on Fire. The universe was most definitely working its magic! I had just finished watching a live chat with tools for how to create your word for the year and manifest the energy into your life. I opened my daily gratitude challenge to find this beautiful article “A grateful Heart” by John Kralik, syndicated from 365thankyounotes.com. As I read his words I cried. This article shares John’s journey to write 365 thank you notes. Can I just say I was blown away by the power and simplicity of this beautiful concept? The power that the simple act of thanks can have a far reaching ripple effect in your life and the lives of those around you. Needless to say I am in! And my word for the year is sealed with a big ‘ol kiss. The universe is telling me to connect more deeply! To connect with those around me, connect to my passions, connect to my dreams and most importantly to connect with and to open up my own heart. I can’t think of a better way to begin my journey on my joyful trek than to fill the year with gratitude.