Are You Smiling Yet? If not- You will be!

No one's looking, it's safe. Go ahead- Smile & have yourself a little giggle as you read about my life and the thoughts that come spilling out of my head. (Watch out for flooding though- my head's not as near as empty as my husband claims it to be!) If my ramblings don't make your day a little brighter nothing will! I promise I won't be offended if you laugh at my expense- I consider it an honor to spread happiness. Besides- if I can laugh at myself you certainly can too!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Count Down To Christmas Begins!

Our 2010 Advent Calendar:


I had another boring simpler advent calendar started, but then yesterday Amy from Living Locurto posted a wonderful free download for this great Christmas Advent Calendar. So I scrapped my plans and pulled together things I had on hand to make this awesome one instead. Mine isn’t nearly as pretty as hers, but it’s a heck of a lot better than what I was going to make!

No pictures of progress because it was literally a last minute creation. (Which means I was finishing it when the kiddos got home from school.) I took foam board from the Dollar Tree and covered it in wrapping paper. Then I typed my activities on all the days, printed them on cardstock, cut & glued them on. Once I started that I realized I made my base board too small- but I shrugged off my perfectionist itch and carried on. I used Christmas stickers I had to hold the little folded activity cards closed. And then after I cut all the numbers out (while vowing to invest in a 2” circle punch soon) I used these “pop-out dots” things (like these) I had to put them on the front. I of course had to use the Star Wars Banner option at the top- I knew that would make me the really awesome mom.  ;o)

Since I only have one calendar & 3 boys, I had to write alternating names on the days so there would be no fighting on who’s turn it is to open each day. And I have a basket (which I forgot to take a picture of & am too tired to right now.) of small wrapped gifts for them to each open one daily. Some days it might be one small piece of candy (being the frugal mom that I am it’s confiscated leftover Halloween candy) or it could be something related to that day’s activity. They gifts are numbered & wrapped differently for each child, so there’s no doubt who gets what.  :o)

Here’s our Christmas Advent Calendar Activity List for this year:

  1. Make a CD of favorite Christmas songs!
  2. Make paper snowflakes and hang them from the ceiling!
  3. Family board game night!
  4. Put your shoes outside your bedroom door for St. Nicholas day!
  5. Color Holiday pictures & mail them to grandparents!
  6. Write  & mail a letter to Santa Claus!
  7. No chore day!
  8. Build a snowman!
  9. Do a good deed today & share it at dinner!
  10. Do a puzzle together!
  11. Read a holiday book together!
  12. Decorate the Christmas tree!
  13. Make & send a Christmas card to a friend or family member!
  14. Have fun doing winter word searches & mazes!
  15. Add this year’s handprint to the Christmas tree skirt!
  16. Go Christmas shopping for your family!
  17. Make a list of 10 things you are thankful for and hang it up!
  18. Watch a Christmas movie & eat popcorn!
  19. Make Christmas sugar cookies!
  20. Make an ornament  for the Christmas tree!
  21. Donate clothes & toys to needy families!
  22. Make gingerbread houses!
  23. Drive around looking at Christmas lights & displays!
  24. Watch Polar Express & drink hot cocoa!

I’ll try to take a picture each day & link it from this list to share & show how they all turned out. But that will be another day- for now I’m going to go bond with the hubby. Night all!

Giving Someone a Little Happiness from a Sad Event

Due to a recent death in the family, my husband’s SIL, I became the recipient of a beautiful plant (some kind of Lily I think). After shuffling it around the house for a few days I realized that we had no room for it- it was too big & our house is too small. That fact & my worry that I would kill it (I don’t have a good track record with real plants inside- I even managed to kill a fern once!) made me realize I had to give it away. I didn’t want to be callous by giving it away and wasn’t looking forward to explaining to the lucky friend how I came by it. 100_0574

I pondered my dilemma for a while and then thought of a way I would be comfortable with passing it on- by giving it to someone at a nursing home! I loved the idea of taking something that was a sad reminder and turning it into a joyful thing. I delivered it to our local nursing home & asked the nurse at the front desk to give it to someone that needs it, someone that doesn’t get much visitors or anything. She was very happy to do so. I left with a happy conscious & joyful heart knowing that I made someone’s day while at the same time kind of honoring a good person’s memory.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Holiday Traditions- Advent Calendars

I can’t believe tomorrow it’ll be December! Yay!!!! I’m so happy. The Holidays have certainly snuck up fast, but that’s ok because I’m sooo ready now. I’m getting excited for Christmas- it’s my favorite time of the year! I like to stretch it out the whole month of December and try to make it very special for my kiddos. I have a few things I do every year and I thought I’d share them to inspire other moms, aunts & friends to make this Holiday Season extra special for a child in their lives. One of the traditions I started a few years ago is to make advent calendars for them. My very first one was simply 2 egg carton halves cut & glued side by side on cardboard, then I filled each well with a treat or activity & hot glued alternating red & green tissue paper over the holes. I added number stickers & a little yarn for hanging and voila! I had 3 advent calendars. They wasn’t very pretty, but they were homemade & the kids loved being able to have a special surprise to open each day.

Per my usual “do-things-at-the-very-last-minute”- no matter how much I plan ahead of time- I am once again making my boys their advent calendars on November 30th. (One of these years I will have them finished before Thanksgiving- probably when I have grandkids!) Since I don’t have pictures to share of mine yet- I thought I’d share some other simple ones that are easy enough you could join me in making a last-minute advent calendar.


My Little Mochi has a great idea to make a simple Advent Calendar with Dentyne gum! gum advent Pocket Advent Calendar- merrily created by mylittlemochi


Here’s wonderfully easy & awesome Paper Plate Advent Calendar from Filth Wizardrypaper plate advent Paper Plate Advent Calendar joyously made by FilthWizardry


Another great idea is to make an Advent Bag Calendar by simply numbering paper bags & hanging them up in a line like Christina from Moment to Moment did:hanging bags advent Paper Bag Advent Calendar cheerfully created by MomentToMoment


Yet another take on a quickly made advent calendar is using envelopes. You could follow d.Sharp Journal’s lead and make a plain White Envelope Advent Calendar with some festive numbers (which are graciously available for free download).hanging envelope adventEnvelope Advent Calendar joyfully shared by dSharp


Or make your own Festive Envelope Advent Calendar using old Christmas cards. HomeSpun Threads even shares the envelope template she used.envelope adventHomemade Envelope Advent Calendar happily made by MyHomeSpunThreads


I hope I’ve given you some inspiration to make a simple & fun surprise for someone in your life- it doesn’t even have to be a child! I know many adults would love their very own advent calendar as well.

Well- I’m off to finish my super-simple advent calendar which will not even be as creative as any of the ones I’ve featured. But that’s ok because I’m learning that not everything I do has to be top notch- especially when I take into consideration that I have to make 3 calendars and not much time to do it.  :o)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bright Flowers on a Gloomy Day

I’ve had the urge to do extra special RAOK’s lately, but haven’t had the time. I seen these bright & beautiful flowers at Kroger's today and just seeing them made me smile. I decided that I wasn’t making anymore excuses for not doing RAOK’s as often as I wish, so I bought them and celebrated GFTAS day early this month. :o)

This cheery bunch went to a lady coming out of Walgreens. She seemed a little distracted & impatient when I stopped her at first, but being given flowers “just because” definitely changed her demeanor. Her face light up in surprise & pleasure. It made me feel so good seeing how easy it was to make her everyday errands turn from mundane to happy. (I forgot to get a picture of the cards I put in there.)


And since I missed GFTAS day last month- I decided I that I wanted make up for it, so I bought this pretty bouquet as well. I walked over to Speedway Gas Station and gave them to another lady getting gas. She smiled so big when I gave them to her and simply told her to “Have a Nice Day!”

100_0577100_0578 100_0579

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I’m still here :o)

No- I haven’t fallen of the face of the earth. Yes- Life has gotten hectic and I let myself become so immersed in the craziness that I haven’t blogged in two weeks. I’m working on that whole “balance” thing in my life and obviously it still needs some adjustment! With the school season in full swing all the activities that come with it are going now too and my obligations have gone up, while my free time has gone down. I simply forgot how much more work being “The Mom” was at this time of year. I’m spending a lot of time doing kid related things- volunteering between 3 schools, multiple after-school activities, kid’s bowling leagues, helping lead Cub Scouts, making Halloween costumes and operating “Mom’s Taxi Service.”  To add to the crazy mix we put our house up for sale two weeks ago and are hoping to move sometime soon, so I have the pressure of trying to super-deep-clean my home and get things packed up.

So there’s my reasons for neglecting my blog and readers. Sorry I abandoned you all for a bit- life grabbed me unawares & took off running and I’ve just been stumbling to keep up. Hopefully I can find a more steady pace here soon and can start blogging regularly again. :o)   I do have a few kindness things I wanted to share from during my absence- I’ll do my best to get them up this week and get caught up on all the comments left.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Another Successful GFTAS Day

Today is the 27th of the month which means it’s Give Flowers to a Stranger Day! I’ve been looking forward to this day ever since I discovered & celebrated GFTAS Day last month. Once again I headed to my local Krogers hoping to score a marked-down pretty bunch of flowers. There were many available this time that were nice, but my eyes kept returning to another pink bunch of flowers. They weren’t that much more so I got them instead. I figured if I liked them so much, than so would the lucky recipient.  100_0438

I printed a small card tag I downloaded for free here from Whisker Graphics. I wrote a little message on the inside and taped it onto the bouquet wrapping. I also picked out one of the Kindness Cards from Kind Over Matter that I downloaded & printed to use for card drops. I tucked it in between the flowers- it said “People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”100_0441

I had been thinking all morning on who I wanted to give the flowers to today. I thought a nice elderly lady would be great and I knew I wanted to find someone somewhere other than a store parking lot. I decided I’d drive to another neighborhood and simply pull over and give them to the first person I seen. Being it was a fairly nice day & middle of the afternoon I thought it would be a cinch to find someone outside. (Easier said than done I soon found out.) The first two people I seen were guys and when it comes to flowers I figured a woman would appreciate them a whole lot more. So up & down the streets, around the blocks I kept driving slowly looking for a mom outside with her kids, a woman taking groceries inside or an elderly lady sitting on a porch swing. But I had no such luck- I only seen 3 people total and all were men. With my time, and gas, running out I changed tactics and headed downtown where I knew there had to be people. I spotted a young woman coming out of the post office and quickly parked, grabbed the flowers & hopped out. I thought I was going to miss my opportunity because she was getting in her car by then, but I got her attention and handed her the flowers simply telling them they was for her. She thanked me with a slightly stunned smile and I quickly walked back to my still-running van with my own happy grin.

I’ve been happy & smiling ever since. GFTAS just makes me feel so good- I’m so glad I get to celebrate it monthly instead of just once a year! If you’re new and want to know more about this Kindness Holiday- click here to read more about a wonderful lady and the kind act that started it all.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hoping to Win My Dream Machine

A momentary interruption from my normally scheduled posts:

Crafty Crow is having a giveaway for a Silhouette craft machine. I’ve been drooling over one of these babies for many months now. There’s soooo many awesome things I could with this craft cutter- it’s like the MacGyver tool of the craft world. You can enter for your own chance to win one by going HERE and leaving a comment before Sept. 30th on what would be your first project with it.

Click HERE for another chance to win one at Living Locurto.

4 entries between 2 giveaways so far- I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Reasons I’ve Smiled- Sept. 24th


  • My Favorite show ever came back on Monday with the season premiereprince_house_poster-v2
  • Because I discovered Chunky Monkey Pancakes
  • Hearing my Lil’ Man talk with the cute lisp from his missing front tooth 
  • I seen this:  100_0299
  • My friend M stopped by for an unexpected visit 
  • I wore my Fraggle Rock T-shirt
  • We took Bell to play at the school’s playground
  • Seen a guy being affectionate to his lady by rubbing her back and caressing her shoulders as they walked into Wal-Mart
  • Dropped off this surprise package for a friend
  • Eldest brought me a butterfly shaped clover 100_0413
  • Watched a flutterby while outside enjoying a beautiful day
  • Noticed a guy more interested in checking me out than driving
  • I wore my rockin’ “Pimpette” hat 100_0388-1

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday

I’m creating a new feature called "Thoughtful Thursdays" where I can post quotes and pictures I find by other wonderful individuals that are uplifting and encourage people to think about the good things in their lives. My goal is to brighten your day and make you realize that the world can be a more cheerful place if you choose to make it.

My first ever featured picture is from a talented embroideress (my own made up word) xperimentl. I found this one day when I was browsing on flickr and instantly loved it. It’s a darling piece embroidered from an illustration in a vintage coloring book with an added happy quote.

think, act, be happy xperimentl flickr

Think Happy, Act Happy, Be Happy- happily shared by xperimentl

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tasty Tuesday- Chunky Monkey Pancakes

Since I love to cook & bake and trying new recipes is one of my favorite things- I thought every Tuesday I’d start sharing a new recipe I’ve recently tried. I’ll give you my reviews & any revisions I made and maybe you’ll find a new family favorite to add to your menu rotation.

Today’s recipe comes from Our Best Bites- one of my “go-to” recipe sites. The two gals that run it are great at coming up with awesome recipes that are usually easy to make and their posts are not only witty, but have great pictures too! Anytime I’m looking for something new to tempt my kids taste buds- Our Best Bites is one of my first stops.

In keeping with my pledge to make breakfast at least 3 days before school (and therefore saving my cereal stockpile from being devoured within a week)- I decided to treat my Littles to these: 


Chunky Monkey Pancakes,

by Our Best Bites

These Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes are good by themselves, but what puts them over-the-top and turns them into incredible is the Peanut Butter Maple Syrup. The kids were raving how good they were, but I figured they were just happy they got to have chocolate in some way before noon. Then I took a bite. OMGoodness- I literally was amazed and couldn’t stop myself from shoveling a few more bites in. These are one of the best flavored pancakes I’ve ever had. You MUST try these- but be forewarned that they are irresistible. If you find yourself taking some of cooled extra ones you made for the freezer and dipping them in the leftover PB syrup at lunch & snack time and I-just-wandered-into-the-kitchen time- don’t say I didn’t warn you. (Not that I did that!)

As far as the making of them- I took it easy on myself since I knew in the morning I would only be half awake & way too tempted to skip making the pancakes in favor of just cracking eggs in a pan. I prepared as much of the recipe as I could the night before: I mixed the dry ingredients in my mixing bowl and tossed the chocolate chips with the flour in a small container (a great tip I learned from the recipe- it stops them from sinking to the bottom of the batter). Then I mixed the wet ingredients in a small bowl and mashed the bananas in a separate bowl and put them both in the fridge. When morning came all I had to do was dump & mix, no measuring, it made making breakfast a breeze! The batter was thinner than I usually like, but the pancakes cooked up nice & fluffier than I.expected. I really loved the texture of them too. This recipe is a keeper for our family and will definitely be made again.

Pick-Me-Up Gift for a Friend

My friend MB is an awesome upbeat & happy person and one of the nicest people I’ve been blessed to know. She is an assistant teacher that works in our public elementary school with the kids that need a little more special attention than others. The powers that be at the school have changed things around this year- so MB is in a new classroom, has other different EA’s (educational assistants) that she has to learn to cope with and quite a few new difficult children to deal with. And on top of all that they’ve changed rules & procedures a few times already! Suffice it to say she’s been very stressed these first two weeks of school.

So when I read on her Facebook status that they’ve changed her schedule yet again & she’s struggling dealing with some hard people at work- I knew she needed a pick-me-up. Luckily with some things I had on hand & a quick stop at the dollar store I was able to put together a surprise gift to lift her spirits. I took a Milka Bar of Chocolate, a can of her favorite pop & an encouraging teacher book and wrapped up them all in tissue paper & tied with curling ribbon. I added some happy messages to the packages by attaching some Kindness Cards I downloaded for free from Kind Over Matter.

Missy's Surprise

A quick trip across town and my anonymous surprise gift was delivered- with assurance from the wonderful school’s secretary that the giver will remain a mystery. I can’t wait to see how much of a happier FB status MB will have tonight! :o)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Reasons I’ve Smiled- Sept 17th

  • Having the tooth fairy visit our house again because of this little monkey DSCN2795-1
  • Watched the original Wizard of Oz with the family- the Scarecrow is my favorite!
  • This video I seen on Kind Over Matter in their Friday Lovelies post:

    Rachel's Birthday Video from Kristian Anderson on Vimeo.

  • Reading about this sweet mission and this pretty sunflower mission on SAL’s Kindness Blog
  • Doodling with my new colorful pens 100_0263
  • Reaching a nice, helpful & english-speaking customer service person on the phone
  • Rode in the new Ford Flex (way awesome) and Eldest’s band got $20 for it
  • Spiky-haired little boys 100_0251-1

Monday, September 13, 2010

Loosen up, Have Fun & Improvise!

I wish I lived in New York for this reason: Improv Everywhere. They are a group of people that stage “missions” that make people stop whatever their doing to watch them in amazement. They do it simply for fun and to make people smile & laugh at what the “agents” are doing. I found this wonderful group via this post by Color Me Katie.

Here’s a video from one of their most recent missions- Black Tie Beach

I don’t know which part is my favorite- the guy with the swim floaties on his arms, seeing all the ladies in their beautiful evening gowns running into the water, the guy in a tuxedo & scuba gear or the guy at the end of the video so simply happy because of this improv!  The baffled look on witnesses faces & the genuine smiles is just so great to see. I hope some day I can participate in something totally awesome like this!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sitting Here Remembering…….

I still remember turning on the TV for some random reason that day, though I rarely watch TV during the daytime. I remember wondering why the news was on so early in the day and standing there in confusion trying to figure out what was going on. I remember being in shock once I realized what was happening. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, what I was hearing. How could this be happening?!?!?  It was so unimaginable to think, but all to real to watch.

There are a lot of songs about 9/11 but “Where Were You” by Alan Jackson is the one that really makes me stop and think about that day. Even to this day, every time I hear it my eyes still fill up with tears and I feel an overwhelming sadness within me as I remember.

That day and those following were dark days for our country. So many were taken from us, so many families were torn apart, so many brave souls lost. But out of the tragedy and darkness came a uniting in our nation and an outpouring of support that still amazes me. A reinforced pride was forged that made our country stronger. I don’t want all that goodness that was born from the pain to be lost. I haven’t forgotten and I will do my best to make sure those around me haven’t either.

I send out a prayer to all that was affected by the 9/11 tragedy 9 years ago. And I pray that everyone remembers and pays honor to the individuals that sacrificed so much that day.

America- Stay Strong, Stay United, Don’t Ever Forget, but Carry On With Your Head Held High.

To everyone that reads this- please take a moment and go HERE to read a really touching post Thrifty Decor Chick wrote about 9/11. She has pictures from the Ground Zero Museum that everyone (like me) who hasn’t been there needs to see. This one really touched my heart: 146[3]

Friday, September 10, 2010

Reasons I’ve Smiled- Sept 10th 2010

  • This ice cream topping:100_0076
  • Having a blast at Michigan’s Adventure and remembering what it was like to be a kid when nothing stopped you from having fun- not even cool weather!Michigan's Adventure 2010-26
  • Finding a small RAOK someone else did- they left a stack of quarters on the vacuum/air pump at a gas station
  • A holiday weekend full of Campfires, S’mores & Family September
  • An adorable black & white kitty I spotted when driving- he was so happy just rolling around in someone’s driveway
  • Walking the Littles to the their first day of school this year100_0203-1

Friday, September 3, 2010

New Weekly Post: Reasons I’ve Smiled

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately and thinking more & more about my life goal. To reach it and to be completely happy, one of the things I need to do more of is add up all the wonderful stuff in my life. I think about all the things I have to be thankful for a lot, but it’s so easy to forget & let some of the tiny things go uncounted. I believe writing them down will make me fully realize how many reasons I really do have to be happy every day. 

So- I’m going to start a new weekly post. Every Friday I’m going to make a list of things that have made me smile that week. It could be anything- from a simple piece of chocolate I enjoyed to a phone call from a friend to a song I heard. Basically any random thing that I think of that brought me joy during my day to day activities. I’m not going to set a number of items for my list since some weeks I’m sure I’ll have more reasons to smile than others. I am going to try to write things down daily, but life (or my own forgetfulness) might get in the way of that.  ;o)

Reasons I’ve Smiled This Week:

  • Walking out of Wallyworld with children in tow- Eldest says out of the blue “It smells like ladybugs out here.”
  • I was inspired by a fellow Kindness Blogger to do this RAOK to a complete stranger
  • A baby Robin in our yard DSCN2895
  • A dear friend told me of a dream she had in which I started a movement based on my Pollyanna Principle
  • An awesome dad at the free matinee movie with his kids stood up and boogied in front of his seat to a 50’s song playing during the credits
  • Having my extended family together at our first Family Reunion and getting to see my aunts & cousins that I haven’t seen in many years.
  • Getting family pictures of everyone at the reunion- including my own small one!


  • A phone from my good friend M telling me that she missed me and she called just because she forgot to send me a Facebook message before she got off the computer & decided to call instead.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Kindness Mission

As part of achieving my life goal, lately I have done a lot of self-reflection. I’ve been trying to discover exactly what I want to do with my life, how I can make myself a better person and what changes I need to make within to accomplish my goals. While I know the journey to answer these questions will be a long one, possibly never-ending, I have discovered one thing: I have a strong desire to improve myself and the world & people around me. I want to do more, but don’t because of lack of money & time & organization.

Those are excuses that have stopped me from acting on nice ideas. I’ve decided that I need to stop giving power to the reasons why I can’t do things and simply start DOING what I CAN. Money is not an issue- kindness doesn’t have to cost a thing. Lack of time isn’t a valid excuse- I can spare a few minutes out of my day to spread joy. Organization might be my biggest obstacle, but it’s not something I can’t overcome.

I am taking a step forward to becoming the person I know I can be. I am on a personal Kindness Mission. I am vowing right now to simply DO more. I’m not committing to doing something extraordinary every day, but to simple becoming more aware of ways I can spread the nice revolution in my dad-to-day activities. More often than not what I do won’t be blog worthy, but hopefully they will be smile worthy.

So who will join me? Who will pledge to start living a life of kindness? Don’t let excuses stop you like they did me for so long. Sooo many wonderful people out in this vast world are showing that you can make a difference with the smallest acts of kindness. You don’t need to wait for some huge opportunity to do something nice- sometimes the littlest things count and make the biggest difference. I discovered myself how doing one small thing for someone made their day better and filled me with happiness. Now I can’t wait to see how else I can further my Kindness Mission and what everyone else does.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Flowers for a Stranger

I’m subscribed to a few different Kindness blogs and really enjoy the ideas and uplifting experiences I read about through them. I was inspired by a fellow Kindness Blogger to do my first real RAOK (Random Act of Kindness) to a total stranger today. Betsy, from The Kindness of Strangers, has declared the 27th of each month “Give Flowers to a Stranger Day.” She enjoyed it so much when she did it originally on April 27th that she’s done it every month since. So when I seen her reminder post last night in my Google Reader I just knew that I wanted to be a part of it too. :o)

This morning I decided that it would be good to include the kiddos in my RAOK. So my normal Friday solitaire trip running errands turned into a family excursion that hopefully opened my children’s eyes to the magic of kindness. First stop was Kroger's where I was hoping to find a beautiful bouquet of flowers on mark down, because while I love being nice- I am on a budget after all. Unfortunately the only bunches they had were too costly for my wallet. Not to be deterred- I picked up 2 pretty white flowers that were inexpensive. (It’s the thought that counts- not the price, right?)


Back in the van we attached a simple note card that I printed for free here from Frog Prince Paperie. I wrote a message on the back explaining that it was a RAOK and encouraged the recipient to carry on the kindness.


On to Wal-Mart we went, where we was faced with the challenge of finding the stranger to give our flowers too. I didn’t want to bother anyone that was sitting in their cars- I was afraid it would creep them out if a stranger came tapping at their window. I tried to engage the boys in helping me find someone. We decided that it would be best to give the flowers to someone that was leaving Wal-Mart and that a woman would appreciate them more so than a man. With that in mind we moved by the doors and waited outside.

When a mother with her young son in the cart exited I decided she would do just fine. I do have to admit it took a bit of courage to get her attention and give them to her- I had no idea what type of reaction I would get. But I just decided what they heck & to go for it and got her attention. Then I simply told her these were for her and handed them to her. She didn’t ask why or anything and simply said thank you. I didn’t quite know what to do then, so my boys and I continued inside to the store like it was a normal thing to give strangers flowers. I had hoped for a little more of a reaction from my first total RAOK, but when I glanced back as I was walking in and seen the big smile on the little boy’s face as he watched me leave I felt happy. And I realized that it wasn’t about me, wasn’t about personal gratification- it was about giving freely and completely without expectations. And hoping others get even a small fraction of joy I feel from it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Perfect Pancake


To me they are the perfect breakfast food. I can remember being a kid and my Dad making pancakes every Sunday and they were the BEST! Golden brown, light & fluffy, with that nice crunchy edge along the outside. You put the butter on when it's hot so it melts and then the syrup will just soak in, filling the whole pancake with maple taste. Yum!
Nothing can beat the perfect pancake, but it can be hard to achieve. And that's what I've been trying to do- I am on the hunt for the Perfect Pancake recipe. Before, I always relied on mixes from the store. But that has changed, partially due to a shrinking budget & part due to my desire to eat healthier by not using so much processed foods & mixes. Also, at the beginning of last school year, in an effort to reduce the amount of cold cereal my boys consumed, I declared I would cook breakfast on Mon, Wed & Fri. (Which basically meant at the beginning of the last school year I "cooked" frozen store-bought pancakes, waffles & toaster strudels because I was not used to fully functioning that early!) I am proud to say that now I really do cook breakfast at least 3 times a week, and most of the time from scratch too!
Anyways.......I really want to give my boys the golden-crusted memories of mom's pancakes. But I'm having a hard time finding is just the right pancake recipe to do it with. I'm looking for ease & simplicity to make, but tasty to eat as well. I would love to find a recipe that uses oil instead of melted butter and maybe even dry milk powder too. So far, every one I try is good, but none have totally "Wow-ed" me yet. So, for now I'll share with you the recipe I tried this morning and is my current stand-by and maybe you can share your recipe with me!

From (Formerly Recipezaar)- Pancakes
(My current stand-by recipe)
1 egg
3/4 c milk
2 T margarine, melted
1 c flour
1 T sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Beat egg until fluffy. Add milk and margarine. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Heat a heavy griddle or fry pan which is greased with a little butter on a paper towel. The pan is hot enough when a drop of water breaks into several smaller balls which 'dance' around the pan. Pour a small amount of batter (approx 1/4 cup) into pan and tip to spread out or spread with spoon. When bubbles appear on surface and begin to break, turn over and cook the other side.

I thought I'd also share real quick some things I've learned from my dad, experience & reading.

Tips for making the Perfect Pancake:

  • If your recipe calls for melted butter instead of oil- bring your milk and eggs to room temperature to avoid the butter from setting up. (Ask me why I know this)
  • Sift all dry ingredients together and mix all wet ingredients in a separate bowl before adding to the dry ingredients.
  • Do NOT over mix. Lumps are ok in pancake batter.
  • Let the batter sit for about 10 minutes before cooking
  • If you have a cast iron pan- use it, they make the best pancakes.
  • Preheat your pan & make sure it is the right temperature by flicking a few drops of water on the pan. If they dance around the griddle then it's just right. And note that as you cook your pancakes, the griddle will get hotter and you will have to adjust the temperature.
  • Use oil or butter in the pan instead of cooking spray if you like the crispy ring on the edge.
  • Using a ladle to pour the batter on the pan makes less mess
  • A pancake is ready to be flipped when bubbles appear (and pop) all over the top and the edges seem set. You can lift the edge slightly to check the bottom before flipping if needed, but try not to disturb the pancakes too much. Constant checking & fiddling with them will make a tougher pancake.
  • The last tip- the cook gets the last pancake because that one is always the best of the batch- any "kinks" in cooking have been worked out by then and your final one is truly the Perfect Pancake!
  • Oh- and if you have too much pancake batter you can either make extra pancakes to freeze for a quick breakfast later. (Flash freeze them on a cookie sheet with wax paper between & then seal them in freezer bags. Warm them up in the microwave.) Or what I like to do is I use a funnel and pour the extra batter into an empty clean syrup bottle. Then I store it in the fridge for quick & easy pancakes later. (I usually use it up within a week.) This is also a great no-mess way to squeeze the batter onto the griddle!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pollyanna Principle

My life goal is simple: Be Happy. Generally happy with my life at all times. I don't mean putting on a fake smile for others either. I understand that everyone has times of sorrow and I won’t deny myself the chance to acknowledge such feelings. Emotions like anger, disappointment, sadness and frustration are a necessity in life, for they make us stronger and give us a better appreciation for the good things in our lives. But I will not allow myself to wallow in negativity either. For every sad moment I experience, I want to create a hundred more happy ones. I want to build a well of gladness and peace inside me so that I may draw from it during times of discontent.

When I am faced with a difficult situation I want to be able to find some good, happy thing to take from it. I want to be a person who can find a reason to smile & laugh at any time, no matter what's going on inside my head. I want to be a person who doesn't complain and whine about the misfortunes in my life, but instead comments on what a beautiful rainy day it is. I want to love my life at any given moment, to cherish not only the good things, but the bad as well. For it all makes me the woman I am today and will be tomorrow.

When you think about it- it's not such an easy goal to accomplish as it would seem. Life has lots of ups & downs, twists & turns and black tunnels it takes you through. Sure- it's easy to be happy when you're at the top and life's all sunshine & rainbows, but what about when you find out you're standing on a trap door & you unexpectedly plummet to the bottom? What about when you look up and the rays of the sun can't reach you because of the suffocating shadows surrounding you? What about when you realize that you've fallen so far down you can't see a way out and all you want to do is cry? What then?

It would be easy to shut your eyes and succumb to the dark pit of despair and not fight to live anymore. It would be easy to let your weeping heart close itself off, giving up on your dream. It would be easy to forget how to laugh in such bleak times. It would be easy to let your wounded soul lash out in frightened fury and vow never again to trust.

It is much harder to believe in the light when you're shrouded in blackness. It is much harder to open yourself up and have faith that you will escape the dark clutches that hold you so tight. It is much harder to remember to keep love in your heart when you are being smothered by shadows. It is much harder to have hope when there is none to be seen. But these are all key components to finding true contentment and happiness within yourself.

So the question is- will you take the easy route and let life beat you down, complain about your misfortunes and only see the bad things? Or will you take the hard route and keep a smile & laughter handy, share the things your thankful for and find the silver lining in the dark clouds?

I know what my choice is- I’m choosing to be a better, stronger person by not letting things keep me down and I’ll make the best of any situation I’m faced with. I’m going to live my life with what I call the Pollyanna Principle- an optimistic, positive & grateful outlook on life. With such a sunshiny perspective I know I’ll accomplish my life goal of being happy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Blog Intentions

I have spent quite a bit of time pondering what I want my blog to become. I'm not looking to be a big-time traffic-stopping blogger. My intent is to simply have a place to share the things that I enjoy & make me happy. I’ve figured out that these are the reasons I want to blog:

  1. I want some place to share my crafty endeavours, recipes, my cake-decorating experiences and any other thing I attempt to create. 
  2. I want to make people happy & maybe even inspire them.
  3. I think having a blog will nudge me to actually start making all the things on my growing “To Craft”  & “To Bake” lists.
  4. I hope my blog will hold me accountable to finish all the things I start.
  5. I would love to make some new friends- even if they are just virtual ones!

So my blogging direction will lean mostly towards crafts and food, with a few pictures, a few “life moments & revelations” & other random nice things sprinkled in between. It’ll be like my own personal progress report of the crafty things I’ve attempted & accomplished in my life.

If once a week someone actually stops by my blog & gleans something useful to them- that’ll be enough to make me happy. And if on any given day I give someone a reason to smile- that will be a big success in my eyes.  Any comments left will be like sprinkles on a cupcake- extra goodness on an already sweet thing!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- Gappy Grin

August 5th 2010
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Flitter, Flutter- I'm back again!

Wow- I am truly like the butterflies I love so much. I flutter about landing on this & that, then take off again without looking back. Like this blog- I started it over 2 years ago, made a handful of posts & then got obsessed with something else and forgot all about it. Until now- when I'm interested in sharing  little pieces of myself with the world. So I’ve decided to totally overhaul my forgotten blog and hopefully restart it in a better direction so it flourishes. I know now that blogging is not as simple as it seems and it takes quite a bit of time and dedication, but it can be very rewarding as well. I think by committing to being a successful blogger it will also help me accomplish some of my personal goals! Only time will tell! Wish me luck!

Smile, Laugh & Love- Again

This is a resurrection of my very first ever blog post- from when I knew I wanted to have a blog, but had no idea what to do with it. (Now that I think about it- not too much has changed since then!) I’m giving this blog a much needed overhaul, but wanted to preserve my first post so I can come back and remind myself of why I started this blog in the first place- because I believe everyone should experience the kind of simple happiness I feel every day.

Well, I guess I'm officially a member of the elite bloggers group. LOL I have no idea how this all works, so I'm sure there'll be a lot of laughs along the way. But that's what makes life fun! I can only imagine the mish-mash of things I will post. Tidbits from my life, rants about kids, quips relating to my hubby & a variety of stuff I find when I explore the net. Funny jokes, inspiring quotes, breathtaking pictures & fun tips. Yeah- this is going to be interesting. Hopefully I don't scare (or bore) you all away!

BTW- Do you like my title & url? I tried to come up with something that reflects how I view life. I try to live by the philosophy that life's too short too waste on negative things. A smile always makes things better, a laugh will brighten any mood and love is what turns a rainy day into a bright & sunny one. I sound like a Hallmark card, don't I? Well that's ok with me.