Happy {Belated} 4th of July!

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4th of July is one of the best holidays ever, isn’t it?!!  I mean what’s better than enjoying time with the family, barbecuing, going to parades and fireworks and soaking up the sun?  Did you know that over 150 million hotdogs were eaten Friday and 700 million pounds of chicken were purchased last week leading up to the 4th?!  WOW!!!

Growing up, the 4th of July was a huge deal in our house!  Each year we dressed up in our patriotic colors and spent the day parade hopping, having a picnic lunch, going swimming in the afternoon and spending the evening in the park walking through the carnival, eating our standard fried chicken, pasta salad, chips dinner and waiting for the fireworks to start!  Same thing every year!  Luckily for me, my husband didn’t have much in the way of 4th of July traditions with his family, so he acclimated right in (minus the parade part because for some crazy reason he HATES them!!).  Now that we have M, it’s been so much fun to spend the day with her, showing her our traditions and yearly activities and getting to experience them in a whole new way, through her!

Here are some highlights of our day:

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Waiting for the parade to start and of course we sat facing the sun so she was squinting and looking mad in all of her pics! 🙂

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Parade!

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Swinging at the park!

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Time for fireworks!!!

 

How blessed are we to live in this great country!?!  Happy Birthday, America…

Berry/Cherry Picking & Strawberry Jam

So last Monday M and I went to the strawberry patch to pick strawberries with our neighbors!  I haven’t been strawberry picking since I was a little girl and it was M’s first time so it was a lot of fun!  Because of the weather here this year the strawberries were a little smaller than normal and kinda hit or miss on super yummy flavor, but let me tell you, fresh picked strawberries are SO MUCH BETTER than store bought!!!!  It was a little difficult for M to find them hidden under the leaves and weeds, but after a little while she got the hang of it and contributed her very own harvest to our basket (I should mention that several weren’t quite ripe or were too small to have picked… oh well, she tried, right?!)

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After we picked our fair share of strawberries, we discovered that the cherry trees were at the perfect time for picking as well… When in Rome…

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These particular cherries were really tart and perfect for baking with.  Now I’m not a huge fan of cherry pie, well actually any pie for that matter, but I do like cobblers and crisps.  My neighbor used the cherries that she picked in an awesome fresh cherry cobbler recipe so my plan is to do the same!  I’m going to make it for our 4th of July BBQ next week so I decided to freeze my cherries so they wouldn’t go bad.  (Are you wondering how to freeze fresh cherries???  It’s super duper easy!  All you do is pit them and then put them in a freezer bag and pop ’em in the freezer!  Now you can have fresh cherries all year round!)  Stay tuned for my cherry cobbler recipe next week!!

So, back to the strawberries… here’s what we ended up with:

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What does one do with all those strawberries???  Why you make homemade strawberry jam of course!  Are you ready for the recipe?

What you’ll need:

  • Twice as much strawberries as sugar (I used 2 cups of mashed strawberries)
  • Half as much sugar as strawberries (Therefore I used 1 cup of sugar)
  • The juice from 1 lemon

What to do:

  • Cut the stems/leaves off the berries and heat them in a large saucepan over medium high heat
  • When the start to get mushy, smash them with a fork to break them down/mash them

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  • Do this with as many strawberries as it takes to get 2 cups of mashed berries
  • Add juice lemon juice and bring to a boil

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  • After strawberries come to a boil, reduce heat to low and stir in 1 cup of sugar

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  • Simmer for at least 45 minutes or until mixture starts to thicken.  You can test the consistency by putting a little bit on a cold plate (right out of the freezer) and checking to see if it sets up like jam.
  • Allow to cool before pouring into a jar.  Store in the refrigerator or process in a water bath to store in the pantry.  Enjoy!

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It’s Been Awhile…Here’s What We’ve Been Up To!

Hi friends!!  So, it’s been a little while since I’ve posted on here!  We’ve been BUSY!!  Here’s a little update on what we’ve been up to!

Baby Shower – my sister is having a baby!  She’s due next month so a couple weekends ago my mom, cousin and I threw a baby shower for her.  The theme was pink and gray chevron, a little shabby chic girly.  It turned out super duper cute!!  We had a great time with all the girls: family and friends, and my sister got tons of awesome gear!

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VBS – last week at church we had VBS, or Vacation Bible School.  I volunteered in the nursery because M won’t go in there during church and I thought it might help her to get familiar with the room and kids her age.  Most nights we had around 7 or 8 little toddlers in there.  M had a blast!  She was so comfortable to run around and play the whole time (as long as I stayed in the room of course!).  It was great!

Swimming Lessons – So this week M started swimming lessons.  This technically isn’t her first experience with them.  Last spring, we enrolled her in a baby swim class through the local YMCA but she was pretty little and more or less we just held her while she splashed around.  This time is different.  The lessons are through the city swimming pool and she is actually able to attempt some of the tasks (ie. blow bubbles, use arms to make swimming motion, throw and retrieve diving sticks, etc.).  However, so far she hasn’t been a big fan.  😦  She loves to go swimming normally so I’m not really sure why she isn’t impressed with her swimming lessons.. maybe because they’re in the morning before it warms up and the water is freezing or maybe it’s because there are all kinds of kids all crowded around in the same area.  Whatever the reason, I’m hoping that over the next 2 weeks she warms up to the idea of them.  In the mean time, here are a couple of pictures that perfectly capture her feelings towards her swimming lessons!

 

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Parade – Last Saturday we went to a local town’s summer festival.  M attended a couple parades last year, but this year she understood what was going on a little more (aka the whole candy thing…).  Although it took her a little bit to come out of her shell, by the end she was having a great time waving to the parade participants and retrieving her candy!  Afterwards we went to the carnival where she played a couple games and won herself a beach ball!

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Father’s Day – Lastly, this past Sunday we had a great day honoring the special dads in our lives!!  We started the day going out for Brunch just the three of us to celebrate my hubby.  Now there’s a dad who’s so in love with his little girl and is literally wrapped around her teeny tiny pinky.  What a lucky little girl!  After stopping by to visit my husband’s dad, we spent the rest of the day with my family, enjoying the weather, playing games and having a barbecue.  The boys even did a little off roading on the mini bike and my husband rode one for the very first time!!  I know that everyone thinks this, but I really do have the best dad ever.  Okay so he’s at least the best dad ever for me! 🙂  We are so blessed to have him in our lives and I thank God every day that I get to be he and my mom’s daughter.  And side note… he really is the BEST papa ever!

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Well, there you have it!  My little update on our lives and what we’ve been up to!  In between getting ready for the shower, a killer ear infection that I had last week and VBS/swim lessons, I haven’t been able to make the time to write on here!  Hopefully I’ll be able to do better going forward…we’ve got some pregnancy related issues to discuss! 😉

Have a great rest of your week!

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My Summer “On-the-Go” Kit aka “Ouch Pouch”

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School’s officially out and the days are getting longer and warmer, which means more trips to the park, pool, beach and more.  With a toddler around, more time spent playing outside also means more “boom booms” as M calls them!  I decided that with all of our outdoor adventures, it would be a good idea to put together a little on-the-go first aid kit of sorts.  I came across a super cute idea to make an “ouch pouch”, containing everything one needs in case of a “boom boom” and modified the idea a bit to include the things I deemed necessary for a summer on-the-go kit suitable to grab and throw in any bag on the way out the door to our summer activities, regardless of what they are.

Here’s what’s in my “ouch pouch”:

  • chapstick
  • antibacterial hand wipes
  • hand lotion
  • hand sanitizer
  • homemade, natural bug spray (find the recipe here)
  • bandaids (in a variety of sizes)
  • sunscreen
  • Neosporin
  • antiseptic wipes
  • gauze pads
  • Kleenex
  • Earth Mama, Angel Baby Bottom Balm (for rashes, eczema spots, burns, scrapes, bug bites, basically anything and everything!)
  • and last but certainly not least… a sucker (cause they make everything feel better, right?!)

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What else could you include??  Pain reliever, allergy medicine, Epi pen (for kiddos with severe allergies), inhaler, snacks/granola bars, basically anything you think you might need!!  Having it all put together in a portable little pouch makes it super easy for you to grab and go!

Happy Summer! 🙂

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Bzzz into Summer!

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Summer is just around the corner and I only have 3 days left with the two little boys that I watch.  Today we made a fun, “summery” craft that will bee (hehe) perfect to decorate the fridge with to welcome in summer break!

Here’s what you’ll need:

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Paper, yellow craft paint, a marker, googly eyes & a paintbrush

Here’s what to do:

  • Paint the bottom of your child’s foot yellow and press the footprint onto a piece of paper – I cut the paper into 5×7″ pieces.
  • Turn the paper so that the toes are pointing down and draw on the antennae and wings – your child can help with this depending on their age!!

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  • Apply 2 googly eyes to each bumblebee and then draw on stripes.  With a black crayon or marker, have your child color in the stripes on the bee.

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  • Lastly, draw on the facial features – eyebrows and mouth – to complete your little bumblebee!!  I love how they turned out – SO CUTE!!  And, they were really easy to make and the kids loved it, too!! 🙂

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Happy crafting and WELCOME SUMMER BREAK…3 days and counting! 😉

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