featured, Food, Parenting

Spaghetti Ice Cream

Spaghetti Ice Cream

Months ago, a picture scrolled across my newsfeed of what appeared to be spaghetti….upon examining the post closer, I was surprised to learn that it was actually ice cream! I thought it was such a cute idea, and I made a mental note that I wanted to try it sometime. Fast forward to this past weekend, when another image of alluring spaghetti ice cream scrolls across my phone screen. I decided to do some research about this dish, and try to make my own!

Cool things I learned: This ice cream dish is actually German! I wouldn’t have guessed that, but it worked out well for me since I decided to try it out on a friend who spent several years in Germany! If it isn’t obvious, this is a GREAT dessert option for kids! They are pretty stoked about ice cream that looks like spaghetti! Let’s get down to the details about how to pull this off in your own home so that you too can impress German friends and children alike!

Items You’ll Need:

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This crazy looking tool is a “potato ricer.” I got this bad boy from my Grandmother many years ago. I pushed it to the back of a drawer with no intentions of ever using it. I could not foresee a recipe that I would ever make that would require such a tool. I’m thankful for once, for my inability to part with things. I will say that it is preferred for this recipe, to have a ricer that has holes only on the bottom, but I was able to place a layer of packing tape around the sides to prevent leakage. It worked well, and got the job done. If you don’t have an ancient potato ricer that your Grandmother left to you, these guys are also available on Amazon. There are a lot of options out there, but HERE is a fairly cheap one.

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The “meatballs” in this recipe are optional. There are also a variety of options that you can use to make them. I baked a batch of brownies the night before. Once they were cooled completely, I shaped them into small balls with my hands. I’ve also seen people use Ferrero Rocher candies, and even small scoops of chocolate ice cream.

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You’ll also need some frozen whipped topping. Use a small to medium sized scoop in the middle of your plate FIRST. This creates height & some extra flavor. I have been advised that an unsweetened cream version is the most authentic.

A bar of white chocolate can be grated using a standard cheese grater to give the appearance of “Parmesan cheese.”

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This was our finished product. It doesn’t take much, but adds a great visual detail to the dish.

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You’ll also want to have a strawberry sauce to use as the “marinara” for the spaghetti. I made a homemade sauce that was super easy and really good. I’ll include the recipe below. If you don’t want to make your own, you can purchase a pre-made version, or even warm up strawberry jam if you’re in a pinch!

Strawberry Sauce

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries (De-stemmed and chopped)
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • Fresh lemon juice (juice from 1/2 a lemon)

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Allow it to come to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for ~20-30 minutes. Let it cool in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

*I also used my immersion blender briefly to make it less chunky.*

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Finally, you’ll need some delicious vanilla ice cream or gelato. The most important things here are to get an ice cream free from chunky additives. Chocolate chips aren’t going to squeeze through that ricer. Additives also take away from the visual that we are going for here. The other important thing is to allow your ice cream to sit at room temperature to soften a bit. If it is fully frozen, it does not squeeze through the ricer well. The soft ice cream actually holds it’s shape better

 

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Now that we have everything we need, let’s discuss putting it together!

Directions

  • The number one tip I have is to freeze the plate that you will be making your spaghetti on. I placed my plate in a few hours before so it would be nice and cold.
  • After your plate is cold, scoop a small to medium size scoop of frozen whipped topping onto the frozen plate.
  • Next (using a separate plate) place the ricer on this plate so you can scoop the softened ice cream into it. You will certainly get some leaking and melting (hence the extra plate to catch the mess.) You’ll want to put a pretty large amount of ice cream in there.
  • Now that the ricer is full, pick it up and squeeze it out over top of your frozen whipped topping on the frozen plate.
  • Use a knife or spoon to scrape the bottom of the ricer and release the end of the “noodles.”
  • Next, cover the “noodles” in your strawberry sauce
  • If you are using “meatballs,” place them now
  • Finally, sprinkle the white chocolate “Parmesan cheese” over the top to complete your dish!
  • Get some pics and enjoy immediately!

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I still plan to visit the restaurant that was featured in the original post!

You can check out their menu HERE.

I hope you and your kiddos enjoy this as much as we did!

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Activities, featured, Parenting

Leaf Rubbings

LeafRubbings

It’s officially September! What does that mean??? It means that I can now shamelessly put up all my fall and Halloween decor without feeling guilty or embarrassing my neighbors! It means that I am now in full fledged “fall mode” despite the fact that it is still sweltering outside! Check out this little sneak peak of our fall mantle this year…

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I think it’s interesting that as a child, fall was my least favorite season. I’m certain this had something to do with school starting, and summer being over. As an adult, I simply adore the chilly air, the beautiful colors, fun recipes, and tons of holiday activities. As an adult, fall is now my absolute favorite time of year. I LOVE any excuse to decorate, and fall marks the beginning of “decorating season.” A mantle is a blank slate just waiting to be transformed. I used to be a purist when it came to fall decor. I never decorated with anything “Halloween themed.”I stuck with pumpkins, corn stalks, and hay bales.  I’ve always been under the opinion that Halloween decor was fake looking and somewhat “trashy.”  In the past few years, I’ve grown to appreciate the addition of a few Halloween pieces to my own decor. I think i prefer simple and more classic looking Halloween decor for my own home, but I’m open to anything that’s done up right! Here I utilized dried birch branches offset at different heights on the left. I also purchased some cut out bats a few years ago from Big Lots. I always stick them to the walls and decor on the mantle to add some depth. They are also waterproof and I use them outside on my porch as well. I have a few old windows and pictures that I rotate on the mantle throughout the year. I generally pick the oldest & spookiest looking window for this time of year. The rest of the decor was picked up during yard sales, and post holiday sales. I always keep an eye out for things even out of season to score a great price!

After decorating, I let Neyland chose our project this week. She chose to do leaf rubbings! This is one of our favorite fall activities, although we actually do it several times throughout the year. It’s also a nice way to get some “fall artwork” up in your home!

We started out by venturing out in our yard to collect some cool looking leaves. You’ll want to take the time to pick ones that have super cool patterns and shapes. Here are the ones that we chose.

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If you can’t tell from the picture, she was pretty excited about this!

After you get your leaves, you’ll need a few sheets of white paper, some crayons, and a smooth surface. Let your little one pick a few leaves and place them on a sheet of paper. Next, place another sheet on top of the leaves and use a crayon to “rub” the pattern of the leaf onto the paper.

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You may want to help your kiddos hold the paper nice and still. Mine has a tendency to move the top paper around and lose her place on her leaf.

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Check out our finished products!

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We also took the time to identify and label what types of leaves we had collected and colored. She enjoyed learning that maple syrup actually comes from maple trees! Now we have some nice fall themed artwork to hang up in our home! Yay fall!!!

Activities, featured, Parenting

What Makes Leaves Green?

What Makes

Our Science Experiment Tuesday was postponed this week due to some pressing engagements. We were both pretty bummed about missing our weekly activity, so we held our first ever Science Experiment *Thursday* at my Grandmother’s house! This wasn’t an experiment that I planned on, so I didn’t bring any supplies…Thankfully Grandmas are ALWAYS prepared for any emergency, including scientific experimentation! (Seriously though- My Grandma could probably set a broken bone, mend some pants, lend you a toothbrush, and provide you a coupon to any restaurant, simply with the supplies in her purse!)

We’ve been focusing on plants a lot lately since summer is drawing to a close, and we’ll soon see the leaves beginning to change. I decided to focus this experiment on what exactly makes plants green. As adults, we know that this is chlorophyll. But how can we extract the chlorophyll from the leaf so that curious eyes can see it?

I remember doing this activity as a kid. If I’m not mistaken, I learned about it on a children’s science program on tv. It must have been pretty cool to stick with me all these years! It is fairly easy, and uses supplies that you probably already have at home! If you can’t already tell, it’s great for a quick unplanned activity.

Supplies(1)

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Step 1

Take your little one outside and collect your leaves. (Please don’t skip this step!) It is great to let them look at all the different shapes and textures of leaves in their very own yard! As you can see, Neyland chose a variety of shapes and sizes. We even found a “lamb’s ear” leaf (See title photo) that was fuzzy and super soft!

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Step 2

Use the scissors and cut a long thin strip of your napkin/toilet paper. It needs to be taller than the glass that you are using, and about twice the width of the pencil. The most important thing is that you are using a WHITE piece of toilet paper or napkin. We need it to be nice and white for the green chlorophyll to stand out.

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Step 3

Snip up the leaves into tiny pieces and place them into the clear glass. If your little one is old enough to use scissors, this is also a GREAT fine motor skill for them! We basically need to get to the inside of the leaf where the chlorophyll is contained. The more of the “inside of the leaf” you expose, the easier this will be. I chose to grind up the leaf bits with the flat handle of a screwdriver after Neyland cut them up, just to make sure we wouldn’t have any trouble.

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Step 4

Add enough finger nail polish remover to barely cover the leaves. We want enough to mix the leaves up into a little “leaf soup.”

*Remember that nail polish remover is highly flammable – do this in a safe location*

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Step 5

Lay out your strip of napkin/TP. Place your pencil at the top of the strip. Use a tiny piece of tape to secure the strip to the middle of the pencil, and roll up the strip around the pencil a few times. The pencil will sit across the top of the glass allowing the paper to dangle down into the “leaf soup.” Use the pencil to shorten or lengthen the paper to the appropriate length for your glass. It should look like…..

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Step 6

The paper should be touching the “leaf soup.” The nail polish remover will draw the chlorophyll out of the smashed leaves and it will “wick” up the white paper. While you can see some movement & color change right away, it is far more dramatic if you let it sit for a few hours.

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The finished product is pictured above.

We discussed how the chlorophyll uses the sun to make energy for the plant. This is why a plant’s leaves are wide and stretched out toward the sun. We also discussed that the leaves will soon be changing and eventually fall off of the trees because the days will be shorter & there won’t be much sun for energy.

I can’t wait to take this line of learning full circle as we continue to watch what happens to the trees and plants this fall and winter!

Activities, featured, Parenting

Ice Age Rescue

Most parents would agree that having a routine is really vital for kids. Yes kids are resilient, but they truly thrive when they have a routine. They know what to expect and what is expected of them. I try my best to keep a fairly basic routine with my little one on both a daily and weekly basis. As I mentioned last week, the two of us spend Tuesdays together. I do a lot of housework, but I always make sure we squeeze in some fun activities, and cook dinner together. One of the fun activities that I have had as part of our routine for well over a year now, is SCIENCE EXPERIMENT TUESDAY! I’m a science nerd at heart, and certainly want Neyland to enjoy it too! Science Experiment Tuesday allows both of us to do a fun activity that also has educational value. I have a blast researching and preparing, we both love actually doing the experiment, and then I try to tie it in to some other learning opportunities throughout the week to reinforce the idea.

Finding fun experiments to do with your kiddos isn’t a difficult task. A quick internet search, or even just thinking about some of the activities that stood out from your childhood can yield great results.

This particular experiment is super simple, but a LOT of fun. It’s great for toddlers and preschoolers, and even elementary school kids. There are a lot of learning opportunities for different age groups.

Ice Age Rescue

Supplies

  • Water safe/freezer safe container (Decent size)
  • A bunch of cheap/plastic/water safe toys (you likely have plenty laying around the house)
  • Water
  • Blue Food coloring
  • Plastic utensils
  • Squirt bottle
  • Salt
  • Sponges

The basic idea for this project is to fill the water safe/freezer safe container (I found a random plastic storage box at Goodwill) with water (about 3/4 full.) Add a few drops of blue food coloring and mix. Don’t skip that step, it really does add to the effect. Place a variety of different plastic toys in the colored water. It helps them spread out evenly if some sink and some float. This is a great time to let your little one see the water and touch it. Explain to them the differences between liquids and solids. Let them see you/help you place the container into the freezer. Check on it every hour or so. It’s important to let them feel how cold it’s getting and feel the ice start to form. Eventually (depending on the size of your container,) you will have a solid chunk of ice FULL of plastic critters that need your little one’s help to break free!

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At this point we moved our project to the bath tub to contain the imminent watery mess. I freed the giant cube from the plastic container and offered Neyland several options/tools to try and free the animals. I offered plastic eating utensils for her to chip away at the ice, sponges, salt, and a squirt bottle of warm water. We tried each item individually so that we could observe what effect it had on the ice.

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After trying each tool, I let her decide which item she thought was most effective. She quickly decided that the warm water squirt bottle was the best option! As the ice melted, it was really beautiful. The warm water carved out all kind of cool little passages through the ice, and made breaking the critters free even more fun.

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*As a side note- Not long after I first did this, a friend of mine tried it with her son. She added another educational aspect by waiting until winter and allowing the block to freeze outside over several days! Her son really enjoyed checking on it each day, and it was great to connect the actual weather outside with the experiment!*

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This is seriously simple and seriously fun. It’s a great sensory activity for toddlers and learning activities for preschoolers. You can teach each child as much or as little as they are capable of absorbing for their age. I guarantee they will be asking to do it again!

Activities, featured, Food, Trips

It’s Up to you New York, New York…

Ok…ok….My family is NOT from New York City. Not at all. Not even a little bit. But that doesn’t stop me from blasting that song every time we drive north! Everyone always assumes that when you say “I’m from New York,” you clearly mean the city. Nothing could be further from the quiet country truth my family grew up in.

My family is rooted so far north that we’re practically on the US/Canadian border. I absolutely love it. It’s quiet, sparsely populated, and everything just seems simpler up there. Despite all of this, there are still some GREAT places to visit and eat! I will highlight a few of my favorites in case you ever get the opportunity to visit.

My family lives on Black Lake, but as I mentioned before, we’re almost on the Canadian border. The St.Lawrence river is just a few miles away. There is always a huge amount of boat traffic, and the river is a pretty popular tourist area. Places like Alexandria Bay get TONS of visitors each summer. While Alex Bay is nice, and going to visit Boldt Castle is pretty much a requirement, it is not my “go to” spot on the river.

*Read about the Castle & the tragic love story that left it unfinished

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Boldt Castle
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A pic of Neyland and I headed out on the tour boat to see Boldt Castle.

A bit closer to Lake Ontario you’ll find a hidden gem, and my favorite spot on the River.

Clayton, NY is the beautiful, well-kept, quiet, artistic town that Alex Bay certainly is not. It is full of amazing restaurants, super cool shops, and breathtaking views.

Without question- My Number 1 FAVORITE spot is Bella’s on the River.

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This place is a restaurant and bakery. They locally source all their produce off of the nearby Islands. I have been there numerous times, and have never been disappointed. In fact, my mother just returned from a trip up north bearing gifts that I specifically requested….

A Box of giant chocolate dipped coconut macaroons. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.

Here are a few pics from meals we’ve enjoyed at Bella’s!

Check out their Website Here

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The view from their dining area on the porch ❤
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My Mom enjoying brunch last time we were there.

After an amazing meal at Bella’s, we typically stroll down the main street in town and poke around in all the neat little shops. We always find the most amazing treasures! One stop along the way that we simply must make, is to one of our favorite wineries in the area. Coyote Moon Winery is right in the heart of Clayton. They carry a wide selection of wines and various products made with wine. As with Bella’s, the riverside views simply can’t get much better. They also have a room dedicated to live music and entertainment. It is certainly #2 on my “must visit list” in Clayton.

You can check them out here: Coyote Moon

I feel comfortable saying that my Mom would highly recommend “Twisted Sister.”

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Yay for “artsy” photos that turn out well!
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My Mom in her “natural habitat.”

From Coyote Moon, we continue to check out shops along the main road until the road finally ends here….

The Clayton docking area has a lovely park with beautifully colored Adirondack chairs allowing you to relax and watch the water. The cool breeze that blows in off that river is like NOTHING you’ll find in the south. It’s a little slice of heaven.

Welcome to the Yankee heart of this Southern girl. ❤

Activities, DIY, Parenting

Un “Four” gettable Birthday

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Food table layout. I scored the popcorn bags from the dollar tree, found the cardboard cotton candy holders at party city, I cut out her name on a black foam board from Dollar tree and inserted Christmas lights at measured intervals to make the sign.

 

How do I have a FOUR YEAR OLD?!?!

Seriously….how did this happen? Needless to say, like other year, I’m left wondering where time has gone and HOW my little baby got so big so fast. I always enjoy making a fun project out of her birthday parties. I start planning them months in advance….literally. This step is vital if you intend on not losing your mind, and getting supplies on a budget.

So how do you throw your kid an amazing un “four” gettable party?

Step 1: Pick a theme.

I always look at things that she is interested in. I try to stay away from “store bought” themed supplies and get CREATIVE. It’s more exciting for everyone. This year there was no question. She has been completely OBSESSED with “The Greatest Showman.” If you haven’t seen this movie, seriously make a point to do so. It is one of the best movies I have seen in years. Not trying to drop and spoilers, but it is a musical about the beginnings of the circus. So bright colors, amazing music, cool characters…..easy to see why my child is obsessed.

Step 2: Do some research & plan

Scout around online and on Pinterest for some basic ideas. I found some great decor and game ideas that I was able to modify and expand upon to meet my needs. Decide what is most important, and focus on those details. I made lists of what food I planned to serve, what games/activities I intended to have, what big decor items I really wanted, and what kind of party favors I wanted to have. I further broke each list down into items that I already had and that could be used vs. what I needed to purchase. Having a list of items to be “on the lookout for” a few months in advance can be a BIG money saver. I kept a list in my purse and was able to score a huge stuffed lion at a thrift store, a huge stuffed giraffe from a family friend, and a whole roll of tickets to give out for games from a random box at a yard sale. Make a basic outline of how you want the party to go. Be fluid with it and don’t set expectations too high. When will everyone play games? When will kids eat? When is the swimming? etc

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Photo Booth Area for Guests. I used $0.97 plastic table cloths for all the black backdrops and red/white “circus tent” decor. The stuffed lion was a thrift store purchase. The giraffe was borrowed from a friend. The Weight bar prop was a re-purposed wrapping paper roll painted black with 2 black balloons on the end.

3. Work & store

I spread the prep work out over a long period of time when I plan parties. Signs and other custom decor pieces that need painting can easily be worked on here and there when time allows. They really add a lot of visual impact to a party. spreading things out also allows you to spread out the cost of supplies over a few months. Keep a mental list of the things that need to be done the final week, the day before, and day of the party.

As long as the decor isn’t going to cause a problem, I start putting it up about a week ahead of the party. Adjustments can be made if more supplies are needed. For Neyland’s circus party it was really helpful to start putting things up early. I had been watching the weather, and there was a good possibility of storms the day of the party, which was going to make things difficult for many of the games/ signs/ decor that I had planned. I was able to plan out where things would need to go inside to accommodate unpleasant weather. Some furniture had to be moved, and a few creative adjustments helped shuffle things into a storm ready layout.

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Found a fun circus party sign available for purchase online, instead I used foam board from the dollar tree and a random old fencing plank to recreate it for my needs.

4. Delegate

When it gets down to the final few days of the party, it is important to delegate tasks that you simply can’t get done. Being a single Mom certainly complicates things in this department. Tasks like mowing and weed eating the lawn can be downright impossible for a single Mama with so much bad weather and party work going on. Thankfully my parents were kind enough to pitch in and help get yard work completed while i dealt with last minute party planning. Ask a family member to go get the ice to keep drinks cool. Ask a photo happy friend to grab some shots of the party while it’s going on, because you’ll likely be too busy to remember to do so. I am fortunate enough to have a co-worker who was kind enough to do so.

5. Party and Enjoy!

The cake is done, food laid out, kids starting to arrive. Keep to your general outline/timeline of the party you prepared. Be prepared to change and adapt that list as needed. For example: I planned to have the kids Eat first, and play games while their tummies settled, Swim for an hour or so, and then do cake, presents, and collect prizes. Due to the weather, that outline was forced to be shuffled around. When everyone arrived, the clouds parted and radar indicated that we would be storm free for an hour or two. To make sure everyone got pool time, swimming had to come first. A small price to pay for some really happy kiddos that had a great time. Be prepared to handle any food that needs to be cooked or heated, be sure to announce when food is being served, games are being played, and presents are being opened. Make sure to take time to enjoy and appreciate all the hard work you put into the party. It’s ok for Mamas to have fun too!

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The Prize Wall. Rather than making party favor bags, I thought I would let the kids pick their own favors using the tickets they won playing games. Dollar tree prizes put in ziplocks and labeled made the kids so much more excited!
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Make sure you utilize what you have. I used a random chair from Neyland’s craft table to create height and depth on the food table. It doesn’t matter what you use, just make it look like it belongs there!
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My one decor item that did get rained out was a popcorn balloon arch I had planned. I saved some big boxes from work and wrapped them in red/white paper to make them look like big popcorn boxes. I intended to us a long piece of flexible trim to make the arch and attach the balloons, but having it indoors meant there would be no arch, so i just placed the balloons inside the boxes.
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Neyland’s cake. I made it. This is the one area I might recommend hiring out. This cake took me quite some time to put together and the fondant was a pretty big headache to work with. Unless you have experience, maybe leave this to a professional.
Informational, Uncategorized

Just jump in!

B.loved Images_Christmas 2016_0041Write a blog they said…

It will be fun they said….

Well, here’s to hoping that “they” were right.

As a recently single, working Mom, time is not something that I have an excess of. How will I find time to keep up with one more thing? I’m really not sure. As I’ve discovered often with motherhood, many things that I once thought were impossible, somehow seem to get done. Instead of overthinking, sometimes it’s best to just take the plunge. If you wait until you’re ready, you never will be.

With all of that in mind, I find myself here. I’d like to share my thoughts and experiences with the hopes of encouraging other Moms walking the road of motherhood. I especially hope to connect with and encourage other single mamas out there. God has called us to lift one another up and provide encouragement. I’m ever so thankful for those who encourage me.

A few things about me and what you can expect:

If it isn’t pretty obvious by now, I am a single mom to one amazing little girl. As any mother will know, my baby provided me with instant purpose the day she was born, and lit a passion within me for motherhood that I honestly wasn’t sure that I had before that moment. She is a constant source of adventure, comedy, and (yes if we’re being honest) frustration. Many of my posts will likely center around our activities and adventures. We plan fun and educational activities regularly, and want to share those with others!

I’m also a Christian. I make mistakes and fall short every day, but I am so thankful for God’s mercy for me. I’ve dealt with a difficult season, and am learning every day to walk by faith and trust God more and more. The valley areas certainly test what we’re made of, and what we really believe at our core. I’ve learned through this time that many things I thought I understood were so shallow. God takes me deeper and deeper every day as my faith and willingness to surrender are tested. I’m not sure where the end of this current valley is, but I’m trying to walk each day with purpose and a willingness to be teachable and present for my creator.

I LOVE FOOD. I love to eat food, cook food, and grow food. Thankfully my current life journey has allowed me some time to engage in this passion, and share it with some very special people.

I enjoy decorating and craft projects. I suppose I come by this honestly as my mother, brother, and father are all florists. I can and do arrange flowers, but it isn’t my profession. I’m also about doing my projects on a dime and getting bargains. Yard sale? I’m there. Thrift store? Sign me up. Re-purposing random old objects? I love it.

Finally I am an avid lover of all things animal and outdoor. I’m a Licensed Vet Tech by profession and have always carried an unshakable passion for animals. Their love is so incredibly pure when humans can be so much the opposite. My job is not for the faint of heart, but it is incredibly rewarding to regularly save lives. My personal fur babies include: 2 geriatric huskies (1 of which is diabetic and epileptic), 3 crazy cats, an aquarium full of fish, hermit crabs, and occasional random orphaned critters. Along with animals, comes my love of nature and the outdoors. I truly feel so peaceful and at home all alone in the woods. My love for nature has taken me on some pretty thrilling adventures, including bigfoot research! I’ll be sure to share all of it with you.

This is a place for all things Mom. A place to help navigate the difficulties of life with fun and adventure. A place to learn to live life again with purpose, one adventure at a time.