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Saturday, October 31, 2009

October Interesting Links


Photo by Dezz

Well, it’s Saturday morning I am attending our ladies brunch at The Greens at Renton with our church ladies. A yummy brunch, a special inspirational speaker and good friends. I’m excited. As soon as I get home, we’re off to stay at the Sheraton in Toronto. I mentioned that we were having a Thanksgiving Grand Finale tonight and that is where we are going because we are using points and it costs us nothing!
I read so many great posts through October. When you have a minute, have a peek at these!
Encouraging Husbands During Financial Trials @ At the Well has some really great points; most importantly, we as wives need to guard our own hearts regarding contentment. It's too easy to become bogged down with the weight of the world when we think about things that are in "tomorrow" (college costs, retirement, how are we going to pay our heating bill this winter, and so on), while missing out on the blessings of serving the Lord, being a helper to our husbands, and mother to our children in the here and now. We can't control the future, and our anxiety isn't going to make the situation's only going to sap today of its joy and strength. I often battle with contentment issues. How about you?

Prince Charming's Not a Fairy Tale, He's a Myth @ Like A Warm Cup of Coffee had some interesting thoughts as well. I love romance movies and fiction, especially Christian historical fiction and even before my reading time dwindled due to children, I had been cutting back because I found that I was getting unrealistic expectations and ideas.

Repairing and Constructing @ By His Grace had some great reminders about what can be accomplished while waiting!

Mean Girls @ At The Well caught my eye because raising a little girl, I want to instill in her from the very beginning the importance not excluding others.

3 Sleep Strategies for the Rested Mom @ Simple Mom reminded me of the importance of having a tidy, clutter-free bedroom along with a few other neat ideas.

Things I Love @ A High and Nobel Calling inspired me to love my home more.  I love my home and my beautiful calling; wifehood and motherhood, but I know I can love more! Especially on those days. Stephanie has a beautiful site, packed full of encouraging material.

Beginnings @ The Well had one phrase that has been my prayer this month to "set about diligently to be someone worth emulating; that I remember all my daily tasks are to be done as unto the Lord" My little Chloe is looking to me to see biblical womanhood is played out in real life.

What NOT to Regret @ Clover Lane reinforced to me that staying at home is the right decision for our family right now and completely worth any sacrifice that we need to make it happen.

Home Made Car Air Freshener @ Little House in the Suburbs looks really cute and easy to make (an essential for me!). I think I am going to give this a try for some Christmas gifts for neighbors and such. If I do (and they turn out well LOL), I will share a picture for sure!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

TUT: Changing Up for the Seasons


A Google search of 'Tune Up' revealed the following definition:
An Adjustment for Better Functioning
A search of 'Adjustment' revealed the following:
A Small Change, A Minor Correction, A Modification

What is Tune-Up Tuesday? Find out more HERE!



October is coming to a close. It has been filled with sunny days, rainy days, warm days and…brrrr…cold days. Winter is fast approaching. Out the window this morning I noticed one last leaf flittering in the wind and snapped a picture moments before it too left…

IMG_0463 Though I already did the littles’ clothing closets, I had yet to bring out all the winter mittens, boots and such so that is what I was working on this week. Here is my closet; simple as it is.

  • I keep all of our winter things in a rubber-maid tub in the garage. When I unpack it, I repack it with the summer/spring articles from the closet and put it back in the garage. In spring when I dig it out, I’ll put the winter ones back in.
  • Even the spring things that will probably not fit go in even if I am planning to sell them. What to Sell talks a little bit about selling in season.
  • I have 3M hooks on the interior doors of our closet for little ones to hang up their own cats coats. I was going to delete my typing error (cats) but left it in because it made me giggle!
  • We have a white basket where Chloe puts her boots and shoes. A contained area really helps her.
  • We have a wooden shoe rack for DH’s footwear.
  • At the back we also have a smaller tub that contains DH’s shoe shine/care supplies. I put my snow boots and church boots on top of that.
  • The shelf in the top of the closet always holds my diaper bag; packed and RTG as DH would say. That means ‘ready to go’. I purposely leave it cleared because that is where I put the items that we need to take somewhere. (Donation items, errands, returns etc.)
  • There is also my two pairs of special sandals  in boxes up top. These are special because I bought them in a real shoe store. One pair is basic black and the other is beautiful pink and purple. I love both pair!
  • We have two shoe bags in the closet. One contains my shoes and the other contains adult mittens, hats and scarves.
  • We also have a bench by the door that has a spot under it for two baskets. These contain the littles’ mittens and such.
  • Oh, and we have our library book bag on the top hook inside the closet. Though I have to admit, we took a break from the library (not reading)  during summer and gorgeous fall weather. Now that winter is back, we’ll need to resume our visits!

Simple Kids is having a Winterizing series this week if you want to pop over a take a peek.


Do you have a tune-up you are working on or completed? Link up (directly to your post) or share a comment! If you could mention TUT and link back so others can join in too, that would be appreciated!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When You Don’t Celebrate Halloween…


DH and I have given it a lot of thought in the past year. We’ve decided not to celebrate Halloween; not by trick or treating and not by dressing up to attend a church celebration. I am not saying anything about either of these activities except that we have chosen not to participate in either.

Family Thankfulness Month

This past year, with a lot of thought and prayer, we have decided that October is our family’s Thankfulness Month. During October we will be using activities and discussions to learn about how we should be thankful, why we should be thankful, all of things we should be thankful for and how we need to be content with what we have.  Now John is completely oblivious at 1 this year but Chloe is 2 1/2 and really can understand quite a lot. For one of our activities, we purchased and wrapped small presents for Christine and Caleb, children in an orphanage, and talked about how some people do not have mommies and daddies. Since then, most nights she has prayed for them, and has also thanked God for her mommy and daddy.

The Grand Finale: October 31st

Anyway, the grand finale to our Thankfulness Month is October 31, the last day of the month, when we will spend the night away as family. It is not a Halloween substitute for us but, rather, simply the finale to something our family has been working on all month long.  It doesn't matter where we go, except that it has to have a pool. There are actually quite a few very reasonably priced hotels around and we won’t even spend $100. We’re going bring games to play, snacks to eat, we’ll swim and order a pizza. Since another focus in our thankfulness month is reduced spending and being content with what we have, there is a little bit extra to cover this night away. You see how well it all works out?

So What About the Neighbors?

I’m glad you asked! We made rice crispies, dyed a small amount green and the bulk of it orange. Oil your hands (a key point!) and make little orange balls, then squash and add green stems! Let harden. We wrapped them in baggies with ribbons. Then we made a card. On the front we made an ice cream cone and wrote things that “made life sweet” (things we were thankful for). Chloe actually came up with most of them on her own; swinging, dinosaurs, breakfast, mommy & daddy, worms, hayrides, Jesus, friends, ice cream and more! On the back of the card I put the following:

“October is here! With it comes Thanksgiving, and for some, Halloween. While our family chooses not to participate in Halloween, we are thankful for celebrate a beautiful fall and a bountiful harvest. If you are interested in the reasoning behind our decision, we would be most happy to share :) Enjoy these little harvest treats from our family to yours!”


Dress Up Days

Our family plays ‘dress up’ year round. It is a normal sight in our home (or out walking, at the store etc.) for Chloe to be wearing a tutu, a tiara, butterfly wings or anything else so that isn’t something they are ‘missing out’ on either. In fact, she was wearing her tutu today :)


So Thankfulness Month is what works for me. I am undecided about closing the comments on this post or not. I wanted to share what our family is doing, but please do not leave malicious comments. If your family does Halloween, great for you! Ours doesn’t; great for us too (though you know how I feel about over-the top decorations!)

Happy Harvest!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Easy Pie Crust & Fabulous Apple Tartlet

I know I already posted about our Apple Cider Bee but what can I say, I guess we love apples :)

Saturday was overcast and windy but it wasn’t too cold or rainy; perfect for apple picking. We headed out to a local orchard and picked some apples. DH (dear husband) loves honeycrisp apples. The demand is high and the honeycrisp trees do not produce as abundantly as other types of apples so all that was left of them were the apples on the very tops of the trees. I’m thankful for a tall husband.

We also got in a hay ride. Both little ones enjoyed it. Mommy and daddy enjoyed it too! Hayrides are a finer thing for sure!

Sunday we had a fellowship after church and I made some really great apple tartlets to take.

Perfect Pie Crust:

This pie crust is the easiest one I have come across and it is so versatile! By adjusting the amount of sugar, it can be sweeter for dessert purposes or savory for a meat pie. It certainly works for me!

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, cold, diced
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1/3 cold shortening
  • 1/2 cup of ice water

Put flour, sugar, butter and shortening in the food processor and pulse until butter is the size of peas. With the food processor running, pour the cold water down the feed tube one tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a ball. Dump onto floured board and press into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before rolling out.

Apple Filling:

  • Diced Apples (I used Spy apples and they held texture wonderfully when cooked)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Poudre Douce (Epicure baking seasoning. You can buy it here through Carmen Locke. I think it has a mixture of cinnamon and nutmeg so you can simply add a little of those if you don’t want to buy this)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Butter
  • Equal Parts White and Brown Sugar; Sweeten to Taste
  • Flour to thicken

Cook at medium-high heat, covered on stovetop until softened.

Crumble Topping:

  • 3/4 Cups Flour
  • 1/2 Cups White Sugar
  • 1/4 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Oatmeal
  • 1/4 Cup Butter, Cold, Diced

Combine all ingredients in mixer until butter is the size of peas and mixture is crumbly.

Put It Together:

I then rolled dough out and cut into circles with an upside down cup and pressed unto muffin tins and baked for approx 10 minutes. Pour in filling, add crumble and bake for 15-20 minutes more.

This post links to This post links to Mouthwatering Mondays, GratituesdayTasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Works for Me Wednesday and Finer Things Friday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Yes, Sometimes We Are THAT Family…

IMG_1214 P1090812

My fab new umbrella / DH poking our daughters eye out (or at least it looks that way doesn’t it? LOL

  • We are THAT family. You know, the ones who didn’t have plan a normal wedding but got married in the lemon grove in Italy.

  • We are THAT family. You know, the ones who decided they’d rather have a midwife than an OB 26 weeks into their pregnancy. (And though it was a scramble, we found one!)

  • We are THAT family. You know, the ones who didn’t have their babies in a hospital but rather at home. (Praise the Lord for healthy, wonderful babies!)

  • We are THAT family. You know, the ones who always have toys covering their floors, whose dining room table is often a fort and whose sprinkler is for entertainment purposes and not for watering grass.

  • We are THAT family. You know, the ones who serve cupcakes with too many sprinkles for breakfast once a month. (mmm – yummy!)

  • We are THAT family. You know, the ones who cloth diaper their babies. (Which isn’t abnormal online in the blogging circle but is kind of odd to others in our real-life circle)

  • We are THAT family. You know, the ones believe you can make anything at home from scratch. (Which is surprisingly true most of the time LOL)

  • We are THAT family. You know, the ones who let their daughter wear her tutu or her red rubber boots every day. Why not? She looks cute, she likes it and there are only a certain number of years you can wear one daily!

  • We are THAT family. You know, the ones who spent over $200 on rug shampooer rentals this year before finally buying one of their own.

We did not have little ones when we built our house and carpeted with a light colored rug (dining room included). In the past 2 years, our poor rug has seen more than it’s share of:

  • Vaseline
  • Penaten
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking Powder
  • Cough Syrup
  • Chocolate Milk
  • Chocolate Timbit
  • Toothpaste

The day of the carpet cleaner purchase, I hadn’t even finished my attempt to clean up the red cough syrup (from a child proof bottle! How did she get it open?!?) when I discovered her quietly finger painting with the toothpaste.


Safety in the Kitchen – Very important!


Feeding John-John our homemade Melon-scicles; no one else would eat them LOL

Part of being THAT family is admitting embarrassing moments. Chloe was days old when she developed hiccups and gripe water didn’t help. Wanting to help, logically, I growled at her to scare her to make the hiccups go away. Needless to say, she screamed in fright and turned red from howling, yet the hiccups stayed. That was not my best parenting moment. (What was I thinking?!?!)

I’ve been a mommy for 2 1/2 years and so far…it’s been an adventure; one that I am so thankful to be a part of. Being THAT family? It certainly is a finer thing!

My Official Sick Notice & Prevention Reminders


A Google search of 'Tune Up' revealed the following definition:
An Adjustment for Better Functioning
A search of 'Adjustment' revealed the following:
A Small Change, A Minor Correction, A Modification

What is Tune-Up Tuesday? Find out more HERE!


Please accept this post as my official notice that I am sick today and will not be in. On my blog anyway. Calling in sick from mothering isn't an option. LOL. Though most days I am overjoyed to be a mother and to be able to stay at home, on rare occasions (mostly when I am sick), do I think back to those pre-baby days where being sick meant sleeping in, reading a book on the couch in PJ’s, and eating ice cream or popsicles in bed. Did anyone else ever do that?

It’s TUT and I’ve got nothing; actually that isn’t true. I’ve got a cold and I have two little ones with colds. Does that count? So I am going to ‘tune-up’ us. We’re spending the day in our jammies. We’re going to watch a video (Fox & the Hound?), drink some hot chocolate, read some books. Thankfully, comfort food is on the official menu for tonight (shepherd’s pie).

Prevention is Key; but it doesn’t guarantee you won’t get sick!

So the ‘official’ arrival of the cold season once again reminds me of the importance of a few things which can help keep you healthy.

  • Washing your hands often
  • Cough into your arm/elbow
  • Disinfecting taps, handles and knobs frequently
  • Getting enough rest
  • Get out for a walk; fresh air and exercise
  • Adequate water consumption
  • Balanced meals including plenty of fruits and veggies
  • If you or your littles have been sick; replace your toothbrush!

Amy mentioned a few things about H1N1 prevention earlier this week. If you missed it, here is the link.

So that is it. Not sure if I will be in on Friday either but I’ll see you soon.


Do you have a tune-up you are working on or completed? Link up (directly to your post) or share a comment! If you could mention TUT and link back so others can join in too, that would be appreciated!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chloe: My Cupcake Cutie

Last Tuesday my husband and I were off. We spent a leisurely morning playing with the littles, went out for lunch, visited the art gallery and stopped at one of my favorite places in the world; Westdale Cupcakes! We got Chloe’s in her own box, complete with ribbon and special princess topper. Chloe was ecstatic and, as you can see from the photos, clung tightly to the box until we got home. She then shared with Nana; Chloe ate the icing, Nana ate the cupcake. LOL!

They make the most divine cupcakes including my favorites:

Cherry Bomb: A moist dark chocolate cupcake with a cherry cheesecake filling topped with a pink vanilla buttercream

Peppermint Pattie: A moist delicious chocolate cupcake with a peppermint surprise topped with a peppermint buttercream


Monday, October 19, 2009

Super Man and the Beef Goulash

My husband may not be superman but he certainly is a super man and I am so thankful for him; his cooking abilities and his willingness to share them with our family! He certainly is a finer thing!

Last week I was trying to create a menu and wanted input as to what he would like to eat. He was not forthcoming with the help so I put him down in charge of a meal on Thursday (daddy’s culinary creation) but didn’t tell him. Well, he actually reads my blog and with a chuckle, he made dinner Thursday night! Now it may not look all that impressive but I’ll tell you: it was one of the tastiest meals I’ve had all month and I think I enjoyed it more than Thanksgiving (mentioned below!)

Beef Goulash

  • 3lbs chuck roast (cut into cubes)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 3 chopped onions
  • 6 minced garlic cloves
  • 5 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups of stock
  • 2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2  large red peppers chopped
  • 1 1/2 large green pepper chopped
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (more for dollop-ing before eating)
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  1. Preheat to 30 deg. Dry beef thoroughly then salt ad pepper to taste. Heat oil in ovenproof Dutch oven to medium high. Add meat and brown well 2-3 minutes per side. (Do this in two batches as to not overcrowd). Then transfer meat to a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Add 1tbsp oil to pan and onions and a pinch of salt. Reduce to medium heat and cook until softened and browned (6-8 minutes). Add garlic, paprika and flour and cook for an additional 2+/- minutes.
  3. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of stock and stirring until incorporated and thickened. Gradually add remaining stock then stir in the tomato paste, bay leaves and a little salt. Add browned beef (and any juices) and increase heat to bring to a simmer. Cover pot and put in the coven for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from the oven and stir in peppers. Cover and return to oven for another 40+/- minutes.
  5. Add 1/2 cup sour cream and the parsley.
  6. Serve on top of egg noodles, rice or steamed potatoes with an extra dollop of sour cream.

Thanksgiving by Daddy

Last Monday was Thanksgiving and I spent the day cleaning at my mother’s house. My mother has been living with my grandmother ever since my grandfather’s death in June and Gram’s subsequent cancer diagnosis. My mother had the opportunity to get away for a week with my father. Thankfully my sister’s husband was able to take the week off to watch their four older boys, enabling my sister to take her baby and move in with Gram for the week.

I thought I would lend a hand by giving mom’s place a thorough cleaning since she has been stretched so thin the past couple months trying to maintain two homes.

After a night of little sleep (what is going on, John?), I headed to my mothers early in the morning. I spent the entire day washing windows, dusting, vacuuming and was beat by the end of the day. I came home, wondering what I would be coming home to and…

DH had Thanksgiving Dinner almost entirely completed, the house looked very much like I had left it in the morning, the children were happy, fed, clean and the most amazing thin? DH wasn’t even flustered or frazzled from a day of cooking with little ones!

Snippets of that meal are here:Cauliflower Gratin, Stuffing, BBQ Turkey Breast, Bacon & Brussels Sprouts. We also had mashed potatoes, gravy, home made cranberry sauce with a DQ ice cream cake for dessert (compliments of Nana).

This post links to This post links to  Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Gratituesday and Finer Things Friday

Weekly Plans & Menu: Week of October 18th

Last Monday was Thanksgiving here in Canada. My husband created a lavish feast by himself, while watching Chloe (2) and John (1). What an amazing man! More on that here.

Above: Cauliflower Gratin, Stuffing, BBQ Turkey Breast, Bacon & Brussels Sprouts. We also had mashed potatoes, gravy, home made cranberry sauce with a DQ ice cream cake for dessert (compliments of Nana).


Weekly Focus: Catching up around the house after a fun week with DH being home! I also want us to enjoy the remainder of fall before winter sets in for good :)


  • Oatmeal
  • Home Made Hash browns (yum!)
  • Bacon & Eggs
  • Toast with Peanut Butter
  • Fruit
  • Yogurt (Peach or Berry)
  • Cereal (Raisin Bran, Honey Bunches of Oats, Honeycombs)




  • Menu:  BBQ Steak
  • Plans: Errands! After spending some time purging this past week, we have a box of things for the thrift store, I also have to return something to Wal-Mart as well as Zellers. We also need to stop my my sisters and wish her a happy birthday!
  • Blog: Menu Plan Monday



  • Menu: Pasta
  • Plans: Church tonight!
  • Blog: Cupcake Cutie


  • Menu: Shepherd’s Pie 
  • Plans: DH home late tonight. We’re on our own for dinner.
  • Blog:


  • Menu:  Home Made Sausages
  • Plans: Errand to DHL in Oakville, a trip to Gymboree (with my coupon) in Burlington
  • Blog:


We don’t have any plans this weekend. I’m hoping to make a visit to our local orchard for a hayride but we’ll wait and see. I’m not planning for weekends since they are full of spontaneity and BBQ time! We generally shop on Saturday mornings at the farmers market.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oh, No! First Snow (and other firsts)

What do you think of this new photo feature (above) that I’ve been experimenting with this winter week? (I have winter on the brain…duh!) I think it looks sort of neat and at any time you can click on the “view album” to see the photos in full size view.

Thursday was the first day of snow. Actually, it was such a sad little snow that it didn’t even show up on the photos. Anyway, Chloe was beside herself with excitement to get outside. Out came her new boots, winter coat and mitties….oh what fun!

We had walked a couple driveways she looked up at me with her little red nose and exclaimed, “Mommy, I so freezing!” Jaiden piped up too. We finished our walk (2 blocks there, two back) to the mailbox and came in for some yummy hot chocolate. (and no, sadly, there wasn’t anything great in the mail).

Our church sends gifts to an orphanage in the Philippines each year around this time. We purchased gifts for a little boy and a little girl this year. Chloe helped pick them out. We talked about how some children do not have mommies and daddies. We wrapped the first presents of the season. Chloe made cards and helped put the tape on the packages. She told me, “everybody will be so happy, Mommy”. She’s so happy to give :)

The first cold of the season arrived at our place yesterday. Poor John-John is having a rough time. I’ve stocked up on lots of tissues!

IMG_0209  IMG_0222

Friday, October 16, 2009

Heinz Nurture Samples for Canadians


Sign up for the Heinz Baby Club and receive information and special offers throughout the first year of your baby’s life. Information and offers are customized for each stage of your baby’s development, and arrive right to your front door.

Home Mailings
Our Mailings are delivered every couple of months starting when your baby is about four months old. Our Mailings include valuable coupons, detailed information about our wide variety of jarred foods and cereals, feeding suggestions and guides, and tips on what to expect as your little one gets older. Also, you'll receive samples and additional special offers right to your front door.

FREE Eco-Friendly Reusable Shopping Bag
Once you sign up for either the Home Mailing or e-newsletter, you are eligible to receive a free Heinz Nurture woven reusable shopping bag! Just check the box below! Each bag includes a Newborn information pamphlet, a growth chart, and a sample of Heinz Nurture infant formula.

Shared compliments of Amy from  Amy Loves It!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Character is the Key: Review and Giveaway


I have always been an avid reader; that is until I became the mother of little ones. Though I still love to read, my time is limited and therefore I choose my books with greater care and caution. It also takes me longer to read them, with many sweet little interruptions.  I have always had a passion for well written, encouraging and motivating “self-help” books as my husband calls them.  In the past three years, I have read a great number of parenting books and, while I can’t say that it is the best parenting book I have ever read, I can say with sincerity that Character is The Key is a must read for parents.

I was privileged to receive a copy of Character is the Key: How to Unlock the Best in Our Children and Ourselves for review. It was written by Sara Dimerman, a therapist, parent educator, author and above all, a mother of two daughters: 9 years and 17 years old. That is a very important point for me when choosing a parenting book!

Character is the Key is broken down into three main parts:

  1. Part One introduces the reader to the program, helping them to understand the purpose, the desired outcomes and the importance of character; reminding the reader that, intentional or not, they are modeling character already.
  2. Part Two introduces the family meeting, provides some ideas for setting up the readers’ own family core values (printable worksheets available online) and gives plenty of tips to help make this program work.
  3. Part Three is putting it all together; walking through each of the 10 core values, introducing the once a month meeting (printable worksheets available online) and providing an activity to work on as a group to reinforce each trait.

There is a is also a “short & sweet” summary at the end of each chapter as a refresher with the ‘important’ parts for the spouse who dislikes reading.

Of course most of us know that we want our children to be respectful, polite, honest etc. but sometimes it helps to have some ideas of how to put it teaching these traits into practice. The book contained many practical examples of how to model character. It  gives some great ideas for how to interject a discussion of specific values into real life situations as well. The family building activities help to reinforce the traits that the reader’s family is learning together and hopefully helps to strengthen the family bond as well. Now since my little ones are one and two, we didn’t put any of the family activities into practice just yet, but I am sure that we will when able.

There was a very interesting exercise for the reader that involved circling traits from a list that you want your children to display, then circling traits from another list that you hoped they would have as adults. Sara pointed out that some of the traits that you wouldn’t necessarily choose to have in a child can lead to positive traits in an adult and vice versa. Very thought provoking!

Throughout the book, Sara also reminded us that character is practiced and becomes a habit…it isn’t necessarily something that comes naturally to us at first. She also pointed out that character building is a journey and that we must persevere, keeping tomorrow in  mind and not just doing what will make today easier. That is something that I need to remind myself of each day as I teach, discipline and encourage my little ones.

So I am sure you are all anxious to have a copy for yourself so let’s get on with it!

To Enter:

  • Leave a comment telling us what character trait(s) are most important to your family or how you model good character to your children.
  • Follow Beautiful Calling (two entries
  • Blog about this giveaway

Open to Canadian and USA friends. Closes October 22, 2009

"I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Character Is the Key: How to Unlock the Best in Our Children and Ourselves and received a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

TUT: Un-Inspired

A Google search of 'Tune Up' revealed the following definition:
An Adjustment for Better Functioning
A search of 'Adjustment' revealed the following:
A Small Change, A Minor Correction, A Modification

What is Tune-Up Tuesday? Find out more HERE!


I know today is supposed to be TUT but, well, I don’t have a post to post. It is Wednesday night, I’m not at church, John-John has a cold, we’ve had a busy week; DH has been home on vacation- yippee! I’m sitting here trying to think of what I’ve been working on this week and really, nothing springs to mind. What do I want to work on in this coming week? I don’t know. I just want to enjoy DH’s week off with him.

I started going through some recent pictures to see if anything inspired a post and alas, I remain rather uninspired. As I type this, I suddenly am thinking; it’s ok to be uninspired sometimes. Though I think that we need to constantly be striving, higher, better, to be more Christ-like…there are times when it’s OK to just rest; to just just take time to stop and smell the roses (or pick the mums!)

So this week’s tune up for me is simply to enjoy life; DH, my littles, the last of fall…

Do you ever find yourself uninspired? Are you enjoying your fall? Two unrelated questions that I’d love to hear the answers to :)

(A special thank you to Uncle Keith, Aunty Jazz and baby Irelynn who live in Australia and send us a wonderful package full of gifts. As you can see in the picture, Chloe’s Australian sweater fits wonderfully. It is still quite big and she should be able to get another year or two out of it! Thank you! We love you!!)______________________________________________________________________________

Often I get overwhelmed when there are too many steps or things to work on all at once. That is why I use TUT. One simple thing that becomes my focus.

Do you have a tune-up you are working on or completed? Link up (directly to your post) or share a comment! If you could mention TUT and link back so others can join in too, that would be appreciated!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The ULTIMATE Spice Cupboard

Spices are essential in cooking. They make everything so much more flavorful. They are also expensive!

We have the coolest spice cupboard ever and it cost a fraction of what you would think. How did we do it?

  • The Bulk Barn (or equivalent) is your best friend. See those little teeny jars in the upper right corner of the first picture. Those (jars*) were mine from my apartment when we first were married. They cost anywhere from $3 to $7 for a little jar in the grocery store. I can fill a mason jar for a fraction of the cost at the bulk store. Sometimes, depending on the spice, it is pennies for the amount I want to purchase!

  • Invest in mason jars. Depending on the number of spices you stock and the quantities you go through, you can get the 125, 250, 500ml containers or of course, 1 and 1.5L. These are easy to see into and easy to label. They are more customizable, wash better and are much cheaper than dollar store plastics and will last you much longer.

  • Label, Label, Label. Do you ever look at something wondering. “what is this?!?”. We’ve done that a lot, whether it be freezer items or cupboard items. Whatever it is, label it. Paper with tape over it, permanent marker or a professional labeler all do the job. My DH bought me a labeler for Christmas one year. At first I thought he was a little crazy but I have used it for so much. He also got it for an unbelievable price using a sale and coupons.

Spicy Tips:

Proper storage extends the life of your spices!

 Air tight is right!

Cool, Dark Place – heat humidity and light can all contribute to flavor loss. Avoid storing above your stove or in the fridge.

Shelf Life - Ground spices last about a year. Whole spices about 3-5 years. These are just ‘recommended’ time frames. With proper storage (sealed, cool, dry place), I’ve used my spices much longer. They don’t go ‘bad’, they simply loose flavor.

If possible, grind your own spices just prior to use. They’ll be fresher and more flavorful!

Now I would like to take credit for this fabulous cupboard but, alas, it was my incredibly brilliant husband who came up with and implemented it. I do, however, take full credit for the fabulous labels on everything! What a dynamic duo we make!

This post links to This post links to  Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, and Works for Me Wednesday.

Transporter by Mutsy: A Product of Interest


photo by chillgreg

Last week my husband and I drove past an older woman pushing a baby in an old fashion pram. A rare sight!! I love the beauty of old fashioned prams. I love that baby can stretch out comfortably and enjoy long walks. I love that when baby is awake, they see mommy’s face smiling down at them. Alas, a big, bulky pram is certainly not practical in today’s world is it?

image image

Someone recently mentioned the Transporter to me recently and I popped online to check it out.. It can be classic pram for those nostalgic people like me, you can pop your baby car seat on it and yet it looks to convert easily into a portable, lightweight stroller which is essential for me!It also appears to have larger wheels for those not so smooth' surfaces that you may encounter.

It is definitely a stroller of interest for me (and I do love strollers!) Anyway, I have never owned a Mutsy stroller, and have no idea what their price point is but according to them, it is their lightest weight, most affordable stroller.

Disclosure: This is not a paid post nor any type of compensation. I did not receive a stroller to review so my thoughts are simply that; thoughts! Enjoy :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekly Plans & Menu: Week of October 11th

Weekly Focus: Spending time with my DH who has the week off!


  • Oatmeal
  • Home Made Hashbrowns (yum!)
  • Bacon & Eggs
  • Toast with Peanut Butter
  • Yogurt (Peach or Berry)
  • Cereal (Raisin Bran, Honey Bunches of Oats, Honeycombs)


  • Gherkin Pickles
  • Cheese, goldfish crackers, raisins
  • Peaches & Apples



  • Menu:  Potato Wedges & Hotdogs, Thanksgiving Turkey
  • Plans: Tidying mom’s place as a surprise since she is away. Also, it is THANKSGIVING!
  • Blog: Menu Plan Monday


  • Menu: Leftovers, Shepherd’s Pie


  • Menu: Grilled Cheese, Roasty Stew
  • Plans: Church tonight!


  • Menu: Leftovers, DADDY’S Culinary Creation Night (yum!)


  • Menu: Leftovers, DH’s Home Made Sausage


We’re heading out to a friend’s farm for some pig butchering on Saturday. Actually, DH will be out there helping…I’ll be visiting my friend. Chloe and their son enjoy playing together so it will be fun! I’m not planning for weekends since they are full of spontaneity and BBQ time! We generally shop on Saturday mornings at the farmers market.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bucket Head: Silly Photo Contest Entry


5 Minutes for Mom has partnered with Hasbro to bring you the Silly Kids Photo Contest.

I am sure that I could find something sillier that would go better with their theme: silly on purpose. But when I heard about the contest, it made me think of this photo here. I have posted it before because every time I see this photo I laugh out loud. I guess it isn’t just the photo (DH doesn’t think it is that funny) but the fact that I looked out the window one day and saw Chloe wandering around the yard banging into things with this on her head. I watched for a few minutes and then got the camera. She was still at it when I came back to snap the picture. As soon as I began thinking of this photo, it made me start to giggle.

I’m sure you have a silly photo you can submit too. If not, there is still time to take one because the deadline isn’t until October 19th!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Splat Mat Review & Giveaway

The Baby Boutique is a very neat shop in Kitchener, Ontario. Don't live nearby? Don't worry, they have a great online store. Easy to navigate, great layout and filled to the brim with fun baby products.

I had the privilege of reviewing the Baby Jogger Switchback Hybrid but I also purchased a few other items while I was there. How can you not with a store chock full of useful and cute baby items? I bought the Sugar Booger Floor Splat Mat as well as their Sugar Booger Wipes Pouch.

I have started using cloth wipes and was searching for something that would enable me to transport them in my diaper bag without being bulky. I thought that the wipes pouch would be the perfect solution. I used it for about a week and gave up in frustration because the zipper kept splitting. I immediately contacted ORE, the company who makes Sugar Booger products. I explained my problem to them and they promptly sent me a reply stating that they had redesigned this product with the zipper on top. They sent me out one of the new designs which I received a few days later. It works beautifully. A really great alternative to the hard plastic wipes cases! I was impressed by ORE's customer service and their concern with customer satisfaction. They have a ton of fabulous diaper bag organizational tools. Diaper bag organization something we can all use! (or at least those of us with diaper bags LOL)

Splat Mats make cleaning spills easy, and craft time cleanup a snap!

The other product that I purchased was the Splat Mat. I LOVE it! Sometimes I have it in the kitchen underneath the highchair. Though we have tile, this mat wipes off much easier than the floor. Or if it is a serious mess, I scoop it up, and toss it into the washing machine. How great is that? While we usually eat in the kitchen, on occasion we eat in the dining room. We bought and built our home before having children and for some reason thought that light colored carpet in the dining room would be nice. This mat has been a lifesaver in there too. It also comes in handy for indoor picnics, play-doh playing and craft time!

Would you like to own one of these fantastic mats? Or is there something else that The Baby Boutique carries that has caught your eye? We’re having a giveaway! Hurray! Your choice: Splat Mat or Gift Card.
How to enter:
  1. Visit The Baby Boutique and tell me what pattern you’d like your mat in or what you would spend your gift card on.
  2. Subscribe to Beautiful Calling (2 entries)
  3. Blog about this giveaway and link back to here and The Baby Boutique.
  4. Subscribe to The Baby Boutique’s email newsletter (left hand column half way down the main page).
  • Open to all. (Those living outside Canada or the USA will receive the gift card option only).
  • Closes October 23, 2009
  • Visit Heavenly Homemakers for more neat giveaways!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Choosing a Silly Picture: Which One?

 5 Minutes for Mom has partnered with Hasbro to bring you the Silly Kids Photo Contest.

I scrolled through my pictures this year and pulled out a couple. Since you can only enter one….which one would you choose? Leave a comment in this post and it will count for an extra entry into the next giveaway (tomorrow).

Picture #1 (below)


Picture #2 (below) 


Picture #3 (below)


Picture #4 Below


Picture #5 Below


Picture #6 (below)


One minute they were super heros and the next minute they were using their tea-towel capes as veils and they were getting married.

Picture #7 (below)


Speaking of Mary. We read about Mary in morning bible reading. In the afternoon she came out of her room with John’s receiving blanket on her head (it happened to match her dress!) and told me she was Mary. Hmmm…upgraded the donkey to a Tonka huh?

Picture #8 (below)


Sometimes I wonder what on earth they are doing. LOL. They must have jumped in this tub for 10 minutes giggling!

Picture #9 (below)


This is one of my favorite pictures. I’ve shared it before. I can never look at it without laughing. I was washing dishes and looked out the window to see her wearing a bucket on her head. She was walking around banging into things. I watched her for several minutes before grabbing my camera. Should I be concerned about this kind of behavior? LOL

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

TUT: Are You Listening?!? One Simple Step!


A Google search of 'Tune Up' revealed the following definition:
An Adjustment for Better Functioning
A search of 'Adjustment' revealed the following:
A Small Change, A Minor Correction, A Modification

What is Tune-Up Tuesday? Find out more HERE!


Every time I tried to say something, she jumped right in with her own story. No matter what I said, she turned the conversation back to herself. After a short visit with my friend the other day, I came home slightly annoyed at her. Not once did I get the impression that she had listened to anything I said.

Then a light went on. I don’t always listen to others when I am “listening”!

Why Don’t I Listen?

Distractions: Sometimes we are too busy thinking about something else, or there is a lot going on around us. Maybe the littles are acting up or we’re trying to multitask.

Self-Absorption: It is all about Me right? Of course we have a story to share that may (or may not) relate to something they are saying and we’re busy looking for a time to insert that into the conversation, turning the conversation onto ourselves.

Impatience: Either due to impatience or a time constraint, sometimes we try to jump ahead, to figure out where it is all going, to speed things along.

No Interest in the Topic: Either it isn’t a topic that is interesting to us or it could be that the person drags it out and ‘beats a dead horse’ so to speak. (Though if the person speaking is interesting and important to you then you had best try to learn to be interested I think)

Desire to Fix: We want to fix things rather than just listen. We’re busy mentally preparing our answer, rebuttal or our advice before the person has finished speaking.

In King of Our Castle, I reluctantly shared that at times I asked my DH how his day was just so I could talk about my day. That isn’t listening is it?

Simple Mom posted a great article last month entitled, The Art of Listening in Relationships. If you missed it, you will definitely want to read it.

Tune Up Time: Talk Less!

I talk a lot. I know it. If I was less concerned with getting my thoughts heard, I would be less disgruntled when a friend displays poor listening skills. I would also be a better listener because I wouldn’t be so concerned about getting my voice, thoughts and stories out there. That is what I have a blog for right? LOL.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

Psalm 39:1 …I will keep my mouth with a bridle,

I find (in my life anyway) that though I may get the victory over one area, it is often not a single battle and that I will struggle with it again at some point. Many things, for me, are a recurring battle. Speech, whether it be the amount or quality of it, is often a battle for us isn’t it? Proverbs is full of reminders to control our tongue. You know the neat thing about Proverbs? There are 31 chapters. I have often read through Proverbs on months that have 31 days. It isn’t too late to start for October! Proverbs is actually one of my favorite books because it is such a treasure trove; filled with practical insights, guidelines, examples and even some humor.

How are your listening skills?


Often I get overwhelmed when there are too many steps or things to work on all at once. That is why I use TUT. One simple thing that becomes my focus.

Do you have a tune-up you are working on or completed? Link up (directly to your post) or share a comment! If you could mention TUT and link back so others can join in too, that would be appreciated!

Demanding a Change: Inappropriate Halloween Decorations

patch o' pumpkins by Darwin Bell.

Photo by Darwin Bell

Do you think that horror movies and such are appropriate for children? I think most of us would (and should!) give a resounding, “No!”

Friday night I went into our local HomeSense with Chloe (2 1/2). After browsing around, we took our items up towards the cash register. We were still a ways away when I noticed the whole display behind the cashiers along the window and exit door. It was a Halloween display but not your cutesy black cat, friendly ghost type. It was a scary display, inappropriate for my daughter to see! We left our purchases right there and I redirected my daughter back to the entrance where I pushed the automatic door in the wrong direction so we could exit the entrance.

During October there are several streets that I do not drive or walk down because the decorations are just depraved. It isn’t uncommon to see a hearse parked on a lawn with ‘bodies’ strewn about, open and closed coffins with appendages hanging out or even lawns the have been set up to resemble crime scenes or horrific accidents.

We are very careful what we expose our little ones to whether it is television, music, books etc. I was very angry at this store and I’m also angry at these foolish people. They’re adults and they should know better!

If it is inappropriate (and illegal) to take littles to a horror movie, why would people think it appropriate for them to see the same types of things in person during the month of October in stores and on front lawns? What is this world coming to? We can not have prayer in the schools because it may offend someone but who is concerned about whether or not I am offended by the bombardment of disgusting decorations in the name of “fun”. Any sort of public decorations need to be family friendly!!

Now this is not a rant against Halloween but rather against the inappropriateness of the Halloween decor I’m seeing and how it doesn’t work for me! Maybe I will share my personal thoughts on Halloween at some point to this month but for now I want to ask you all to take a stand!

I’m going to be writing two of the stores in my area whom I feel need to reconsider their decorating strategy.  I urge you to do the same if and when you encounter something that is inappropriate. There will be no change until those of us who desire it make our wishes known! Demanding a change Works for Me!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fresh Pressed Apple Cider (I’m a Bee Swatter)


Saturday we went to an apple cider bee hosted by friends at our church. They host it every year at their farm and all the church family is invited! Apple Cider parties are definitely a Finer Thing!

What fun it. Chloe was able to help put the apples into the grinder and was very excited to ‘help’! DH got right in there too! After grinding they go into a big press. The liquid comes out and then the ladies strained it into the containers. With a wiggly John-John in the sling I wasn’t really able to help in that capacity. Instead, I was the official bee swatter. It’s amazing how may bees there were at our bee LOL.

In hind sight it maybe wasn’t so nice of me to kill the very bees who pollinated the trees enabling the apples to grow for the cider we were making. But there was a lady there who was allergic to bees so it was kind of necessary.

Anyway, I am thankful for bees, apples, wonderful fall weather and fabulous friends who open their hearts, homes and cider presses :)

IMG_0116 IMG_0115 IMG_0124IMG_0126

We came home with our bounty, drank some and pasteurized the rest. Today I froze some as well as canned some. I visited this website to see how to do it. I’m going to pull some out at Christmas and New Years. A little mulling spice and some cinnamon; what a special holiday treat!


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