Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Day (and Post) of 2010

Not sure how it is already the last day of 2010!?! Time goes by so fast these days.
I'm definitely enjoying my Christmas break with my little ones. Yesterday (and today) was/is a weird weather day and we are experiencing unseasonably warm weather. Yesterday, I took the kids to the park. That's right, the PARK, in DECEMBER, in the WINTER! And to top it off, I didn't even need a coat! It was a "tad" windy (understatement) but a very nice break from playing inside.

Enjoy ringing in the new year and reflecting on 2010!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

First Christmases are the BEST!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas season. I have learned over the past four years that holidays with kids are CRAZY!!! Super exciting but CRAZY!!! Kids make the holidays so much better. The "firsts" for my kids are just extra special to me. Here are both of my babies on their first Christmas...

This was Jeremiah, December 2006, for his first Christmas. He was nine days old so you can imagine how excited he was! :-) He slept almost the entire time...

This is my Ava girl, December 2010, for her first Christmas. She turned 7 months old on Christmas day and while she didn't sleep the whole time, I think she wished she was. :-)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm dreaming of a GREEN Christmas...

This year, I got the bright idea to "wrap" all of our presents in empty product boxes that we would normally discard. These boxes are pretty enough as is so I reduced the amount of wrapping paper I used this year and before these boxes get sent to the recycling center they will serve one more purpose. Don't worry, family, you will not be getting cereal, crackers, or ziplocs for Christmas. There is something much better inside!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let's shop, Dad!

Another one of my favorite Christmas traditions is the "Daddy Daughter Shopping Trip". This tradition started several years ago when my dad needed help shopping for my mom and grandma. Ever since then we just make it a date! This year we had a few extra helpers since all the grandkids went with us too. As much as my dad grumbles about the crowds or about the shopping lines, I think he secretly loves shopping with his girls. ;-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Annual Bake Day

My sister-in-law, Amber, and I get together for a Christmas bake day every year in December. This has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Yesterday, as we were making our goodies, we were trying to remember when we started this tradition as well as how the tradition has "evolved" over time. We've decided that the tradition started in 2002...we think...based on a holiday recipe magazine that Amber purchased for our first Annual Bake Day, which we cook out of each year.
Keep in mind that our Annual Bake Day started when there was only one kid between the two of us and now there are four. So you can imagine that the noise level and stealing of munches is at an all time high! Some other things that have "evolved" includes the pre-baking grocery shopping. Yep, we used to even grocery shop together for bake day prior to making all of our goodies. (Again, you can imagine why that has changed since we had kids.). :-). Our first couple of years we both had HUGE ambitions of what we would bake in one day. Now, we tell each other, "Only 4! The limit is FOUR!". We are talkers so we do just as much talking as baking so really four is all we can fit in. :-)
This year's goodies include:
Surprise Sugar Cookies with Snickers
Spiced Nuts
Pecan Puffs
German Chocolate Bars
Ritz Crackers with Peanut Butter dipped in Chocolate
Peanut Putter Cookies with a Resses Buttercup
White Choc Cranberry Biscotti
Ginger Snaps

Thanks, Amber, for the FUN tradition! Can't wait until next year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Moving beyond curly ribbon

My Christmas post yesterday was about my lack of creativity when it comes to wrapping presents. Today, I want to show you the bows I have made for some of the packages under my tree. These fun bows are made from magazines! I learned how to make them at the last MOPS meeting I attended and fell in love with the idea. With just a few little folds, a stapler, and double sided tape you can make these bows too! My favorite thing about these bows is that they are GREEN! Recycling and reusing my old magazines is also a cheap way to decorate my Christmas packages.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's my signature...

We are right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Christmas. I am frantically wrapping all of the presents trying to get them all finished and taking inventory along the way making sure I haven't forgotten anyone. Tonight, the hubs and I are spending a quiet night at home, wrapping presents and watching movies.

If you have ever received a package from me then you know it always comes with curly ribbon. I really like how fun curly ribbon looks but to be honest I use it because it's easy, quick, and cheap. :-). It has sort of become a joke in my family about my use of curly ribbon. My sister and sister-in-law both use super fancy ribbon and just make presents look so picture perfect that you really just don't want to open it. Which brings me to the real reason I use curly ribbon...I'm just not that crafty or creative to use the fancy stuff. However, I LOVE receiving the fancy packages! :-)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Four Years Ago...

Exactly four years ago tonight, this was the size of my belly thanks to my baby boy, Jeremiah. Tomorrow we will be celebrating his Birthday. While this really has nothing to do with Christmas amongst all of these "Christmas" blogposts but this is what OUR December is like and I wouldn't have it any other way.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

More Holiday Baking!

It has been CRAZY around here all month but especially this last week. Our church was holding their annual Christmas Dinner yesterday and I needed to bring something to the dinner. I usually like to try new recipes or make something special but quite frankly, I just ran out of time. So I went to the pantry, grabbed a cake mix and tub of icing and decided to make cupcakes. But these are no ordinary cupcakes... I went looking for something to jazz these puppies up! What did I find,you ask? About 2/3 of a bag of som leftover cranberries that I used in another recipe. I cut the cranberries in half and threw them in the batter. I had to jazz them up some how; not only in flavor but in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Old Ornaments...

I was digging through some stuff in storage and I came across a box of my old Christmas ornaments that I used to hang in my tree when I was little. Some of them are pretty special and some of them explain a little about who I was as a kid. For instance, I used to LOVE the Chicago Bulls. LOVED them! And for those of you who know me now know that I am not a sports fan - don't watch them at all. So the fact that I LOVED the bulls makes me kinda laugh. The other ornament that sort of defines me as a kid is the string instrument ornament. I played the viola for 8 years. At one point my little tree that I put up in my room was filled with string instrument ornaments. You will also see homemade ornaments some by me and some from others. My Grandma B. used to make these big stuffed bows and then decorate them in some way. They were ornaments and she would put them on top of our packages.
It was fun running into these ornaments. Although they don't make it on my tree anymore, they still hold a special place in my heart. :-)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Get the Gold Guy, John!"

As you know, we just celebrated our 10 year anniversary. Ten years ago, on our honeymoon, this is one of the beautiful places we visited. As cheesy as it sounds, there is nothing more spectacular than New York City at Christmas time. One of our favorite memories from our trip was the day we visited Rockefeller Plaza. You can just imagine the people around this very popular tourist attraction. Many couples/groups were getting their pictures taken in front of the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree. Matthew and I LOVE to people watch - especially when we are visiting other places. The FUNNIEST lady was desperate to get her picture taken in front of this tree. She caught our attention with her heavy New York accent dictating to her husband just how to get the best photo. She apparently REALLY loved the gold statue as well. Over and over she would repeat, "John, John, get the gold guy, John. John, get the gold guy!" If only I could some how stream the sound of her voice begging for a picture with the gold guy... It. was. HILARIOUS. And now, this phrase from this complete stranger on a random day in NYC, makes it into our weekly conversations one way or another.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ten wonderful years.

In all the hustle and bustle of the holidays we always stop to take some time for us. It is always so crazy this time of year that I wonder HOW IN THE WORLD did we prepare for a wedding AND take a 10 day honeymoon in the middle of it all!?! I can't believe it's been 10 years. I guess time really does fly when you're having fun!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Anniversary Eve

It's almost our anniversary and I thought I would share with you the story of one of my favorite ornaments. This is one of the oldest ornaments "we" as a couple own. On November 6, 1999 Matthew asked me to marry him. I was really sick that day Matthew had a big day planned for us. It was a Saturday, I laid in bed most of the day, Matt came to my house and watched TV with me, we were supposed to go to Silver Dollar City that night to see the Christmas lights. I told him that I didn't think I could go because I was SICK. Little did I know he had a whole evening planned and I was about to ruin it. Even my mom was like, "I think you'll be okay to go, just get some rest so you can go tonight." I thought that was a little strange that she was pushing so hard for me to go to Silver Dollar City if I wasn't feeling good. Now I realize that everybody knew the plan but me. So, we went. We walked around looking at all the lights, listening to all of the music. Silver Dollar City has the cutest little chapel and at Christmas time you can go in and sing Christmas carols. We went in but there was no one inside, just us. We sat on the front bench looking at the lights out of the big windows in the front of the chapel. Matt was a little fidgety, kept looking behind us then leaned over and said, "I have a question..." I looked at him in a matter-of-fact way to hear what the question was and he got down on one knee.

We finished our visit to Silver Dollar City that night with me sporting a new piece of jewlery and we stopped to buy a little something to remember the night. I love this ornament. I love that it is the place that Matthew proposed and at the time we purchased it, it made me feel so happy to see "The Murray's"...that was going to be us! I was getting married!
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Painted Just For Me

I love little village sets that people put out around Christmas, especially the elaborate ones with all of the accessories. When I got married, my sister-in-law painted me a beautiful set of Christmas houses. Here are just a few of those houses. If you notice in the picture, she even painted one that resembles my dad & grandpa's old service station. While I don't have a big, elaborate village with all of the accessories or even a cool place to put my village, they are still special to me and still displayed in my home at Christmas. One day I'll have a place for them...maybe when there aren't so many little fingers around to break them. :-)
Thanks, Amber, for painting these for me!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Our Sunday School lesson today was about God's promises and the Christmas Story. God promised a Savior would be born of a virgin. And He kept that promise... Today we talked a lot about Mary and as a mother myself, I can't imagine what Mary thought after she was visited by the angel that told her she was pregnant.
I'm a virgin, HOW am I pregnant!?!
Will Joseph understand?
Am I adequate for this job?
I'm scared.
Society will reject me.
Will Joseph be rejected too?
Am I really pregnant (you don't really "feel" pregnant for a few months)?

I also think about Mary when I start feeling sorry for myself. Mary's story puts it all into perspective. If I start feeling wronged or life just isn't going right for me, I think of Mary and her story. Mary was faithful, humble, a woman of God. She was engaged to be married, which was a big deal at the time and required a divorce! She was a virgin but pregnant with God's Son. Do you think Mary grumbled about life not being fair? I don't think so. Don't you think there were skeptics? Absolutely! Joseph could have made a fool out of her; could have had her stoned. But he didn't He loved her, He loved God and was a faithful and righteous man. God took care of Mary and Joseph. The night Jesus was born, there weren't even any beds available for Mary. She labored in a barn! With animals around! Talk about "unfair"! Mary did everything right and STILL had faith that God was with her. She was doing what God asked her to do and serving Him with such faithfulness.

So do I have the right to think my life is "unfair". Nope.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hand-painted Tradition

Every year we have taken Jeremiah to Firehouse Pottery to paint a Christmas ornament to hang on the tree. Last year, my sister-in-law took him to paint one for us. This year, Jey and Ava will both get to add to the tree - cant wait to see what they create. Here is what we have collected so far!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Every tree has a story...

Matt and I aren't ones to put a tree up in everyroom or do a TON of Christmas decorating...until this year. :-) We have our main tree in our living room, one in Jeremiah's room now that he is old enough to want one, so of course we had to put one in Ava's room, and now the basement. Check out our pretty trees!

Matt has been working so hard to finish the basement and while there is still some things to be done, it's definitely liveable. We have really been enjoying some family time in the new space that we HAD to put a tree up to enjoy! This tree was purchased probably 3 or 4 years ago on a Black Friday Special and has been sitting in storage since. This tree makes me realize that I LOVE prelit trees. We decorated this tree with glitter pipe cleaners. We just made curly Qs and stuck them at the end of the branches. You will also find our hand-painted ornaments on this tree!

This is Miss Ava's tree. Last year my "burley, manly-man" dad picked up a pretty, sparkly, pink tree for my neice, Miss Zeda. So grandma and grandpa thought it was appropriate that Miss Ava have a matching "girly" tree. I stuck a big silver bow on top with some pink baby blown glass ornaments that I purchased 90% off after last Christmas. As she gets older, her tree will quickly fill with ornaments that suite her just fine!

This is Jeremiah's tree. This small little tree acutally used to be the tree that I had in my room when I was a kid. I still have it and was so excited to put it in Jey's room. Last year was the first year we put a tree in his room and this year he definitely remembered! After Christmas last year I found some "Cars" ornaments and decorative lights to stick on his tree so he was super excited about those. You can also see several ornaments that he has made, which make this tree extra special. The other thing I love about this tree is that he decorated it...and you can tell. :-)

Lastly, is the tree that can be found in our living room. This is our main tree and until last year was the ONLY tree we put up in our home. A special thing about this tree is that it was one of the many Christmas trees used in our wedding. We bought this tree at an after-Christmas-sale the year before we got married because we knew we were going to have a Christmas wedding. I was really sick that year but my dad took me to get this tree because he knew I wanted to buy a "cheap" tree so bad for my wedding. The look of this tree has changed a little - it used to be blue and silver (which were the colors of my wedding). I love this tree and I love the reason that I even own this tree in the first place.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Let the Baking Begin...

One of the reasons I love December is that I have an excuse to try all of these recipes that I wouldn't normally try. I've started a collection of recipes that I want to make this holiday season, some being given as gifts and some for my family to enjoy. Rest assured there will be blogging to come regarding these goodies!

Yesterday my son, my niece, and I baked a batch of cake mix cookies. As you can see they decided to decorate them with m&ms, or eat the m&ms as I decorated the cookies quickly before they ate all of them.
After we were done, I was able to fill my new Christmas cookie jar with its first batch if cookies!

Cake Mix Cookies
1 box of cake mix, your choice
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil

Mix ingredients together. Drop a spoonful of dough for each cookie. Bake at 350 for 10-12 min. Decorate with icing, m&ms, sprinkles, ect. Be creative!

*The cookies pictured above were made with a Devil's Food cake mix and decorated with m&ms.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Countdown Begins...

It's December 1st! Time to start the advent calendar! When I was a kid I LOVED advent calendars and/or other Christmas countdown activities; like the Santa picture where you added a cotton ball every day until Christmas and by the 25th the Santa had a big, full cotton ball beard.
When I became an adult and got a house of my own with my own Christmas decorations of course I had to have an advent calendar. It took me awhile to find the right one and I absolutely love it. This year, now that Jey is old enough, we will be starting a new advent tradition. Notice that each number of this advent calendar is printed on a little door? I have filled each door with little prizes or activities to do throughout the Christmas season. This should be fun!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Coming Soon...

Tomorrow is the first day of December! Therefore, we will start the advent calendar and the official countdown to Christmas! I am going to TRY to blog every day in December until Christmas (my intentions are always so good). I will be sharing some of my favorite things about this exciting, yet busy month as well as some of my favorite memories. Do I think anyone will actually read them or really care? Not necessarily, it's just a way to journal my thoughts and memories (mainly for my kids one day). :-) Hope you enjoy your Holiday season!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am thankful for... Sweet Potatoes.

I LOVE sweet potatoes! When I was a kid my grandma made baked sweet potatoes with big marshmallows on top and I LOVED them. When I got married my husband's grandma introduced me to a sweet potato casserole type dish which consists of mashed sweet potatoes topped with coconut, crushed cornflakes, and pecans and I LOVE it. Over the past few years I have discovered that I LOVE sweet potatoes roasted, microwaved, baked, mashed, stewed, French fried, in a pie, salt and peppery, sweet and cinnamon-y, you name it and I LOVE it! Now that I am adult and bring a dish to holiday family dinners, I bring it upon myself to bring the sweet potatoes. This year... Sweet Potato Fancy! Or maybe not-so-fancy depending on who you ask. Many sweet potato recipes call for a lot of butter and a lot of sugar. So, I omitted and cut down several ingredients in my version of this "fancy" dish. However, adding lots of spices (or herbs - whichever best suits the dish) can really enhance the flavor without enhancing the calories. We all know that we certainly don't need any help meeting our calorie requirements over the holidays!
If you have never tried a sweet potato, let this be the year! A sweet potato is stuffed full of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber (just to name a few nutrients) and is low in calories and fat. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that keeps your immune system strong, along with healthy eyes and healthy skin.
Did you know sweet potatoes come in white, yellow, red, orange, and even purple! Keep in mind that the various colors provide various phytochemicals and nutrients but rest assured they will all benefit your health.
This Thanksgiving, think about the little things in life that you are thankful for and take nothing for granted...even if it is a sweet potato. :-)

Friday, November 19, 2010

He will always be my baby...

Jeremiah's 4th birthday is quickly approaching and I CAN'T wait! I love my kid's birthdays.
The other day I checked on Jey as he took his "rest" (we don't call it a nap anymore - those are apparently for babies) and was reminded of just how fast these past four years have flown by. When Jey was a baby and we were going through the whole "hope he sleeps all night" phase, we learned that if his arms were bent upwards in a 90 degree angle with his head slightly turned then he was out for the night. Here is my four year old baby in the same position that I became so very fond of.
Ni-night, Jey-Bug, Momma loves you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I appreciate the 1 hour but could use 10.

I love gaining that extra hour every fall. I would love to gain 10 extra hours in a day but once I had those I would fill them so fast and then quickly be requesting 10 more.
Do you ever get jealous of those people who seem to have everything in order, with a spotless house, and really fun hobbies? Well I do! There are so many things I want to do and so many things I have to do. I used to think of myself as a pretty efficient person but over the past couple of years I feel as though that attribute is declining. So for those of you who are super efficient or see where I might be going wrong, feel free to chime in! Below is a list of things I HAVE to do and another list of things I WANT to do. How can I make it all fit?
Things I HAVE to do (I do want to start by saying I love most things on this list. I am certainly not complaining about any of them. It's just a fact that these are things I HAVE to do.):
1. Work. I teach full time even though I'm not on campus every day, all day I still do a lot of prep, a lot of grading and a lot of email answering.
2. Tidy my house. There is a huge difference between a tidy house and a clean house. If I can just keep it picked up, we're doing good.
3. "Life". This includes paying bills, laundry, making dinner, getting kids to where they need to go, ect. You know all that adult stuff you didn't know about as a kid.
4. Be a mom. While I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this job, it's a lot of work!
5. Be a wife. Again, LOVE this role but at some point life will die down and kids will move out and then you are left alone with your spouse again. Therefore, constantly "working" to keep your marriage stay strong takes time. Time well spent.

Things I WANT to do (in no particular order):
1. Play with my kids.
2. Go on vacation with my family.
3. Watch movies with my husband.
4. Try new recipes and cook (I mean, really, creatively cook) most days.
5. Decorate my basement.
6. Organize my cabinets.
7. Make a digital scrapbook.
8. Learn to make hair bows.
9. Read a book (my reading list is getting longer and longer but I can't tell you the last time I read a BOOK.)
10. Lift weights.
11. Practice my new canning skills.
12. More in-depth DAILY Bible study.
13. Volunteer at the Pregnancy Care Center.
14. Participate in a summer Diabetes Camp.

The list could go on and on but I'll stop there for now. :-)

Friday, November 5, 2010

A walking taco...

Last weekend we went to Silver Dollar City and they had an interesting new food item available - a walking taco. We did not purchase one but it wasn't hard to figure out what a walking taco consisted of. It was a small bag of nacho cheese Doritos that they tore open and then piled it with all of the taco salad fixins'. I thought this was a fun concept so I made them for dinner. I, of course, modified it a little.... We have Fritos left over from a Halloween get together so that is the chip we used, although you could use any corn-type chip. Our fixins included ground turkey mixed with chili powder and some salsa (rather than a packet of taco seasoning), cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, salsa, sour cream, and oh...don't forget the beans! The more beans = the more fiber = the better! You know how much I love fiber :-)! Once your walking taco has everything you love - dig in!

Not that this dish really contains anything different than I would normally serve my family; there is just something about putting a twist on the presentation that makes it so fun!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Birthday!

I realize this post is about a week late but I do want to say what a blessing it is/was to celebrate two special people on October 25th - Matthew turned 30-something and our Ava girl turned 5 months old. It's so fun to watch Matt be a dad. When you start dating someone and then marry them you really (I mean REALLY) don't think about the kind of parent they will be ... At least I didn't. To see how Matt adores our babies and how they absolutely love him in return is just the coolest thing. How lucky am I!?!

Happy Birthday my Love and my sweet Baby girl!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

One of the things I remember and loved most about my childhood was the traditions that my family had for EVERY holiday. My mom had decorations for every holiday and once my sister and I were old enough to help with the decorating we did! My favorite holiday to decorate for was Halloween. I LOVED my mom's Halloween decorations. Within the past few years my mom has "weeded out" her holiday decorations because let's face it, they are OLD and perhaps not the trendiest of decorations. These decorations that I'm talking about are those little painted ceramics from various craft shows that were held in Southwest Missouri during the ' know what I'm talking about. :-)
Anyway, this haunted house along with these lovely ghosts and witches didn't make the cut in the last holiday decoration clean-out. So like a good mom, she gave my sister and I the option of taking what we wanted. Now, while I don't go all out with my Halloween decorating I just had to have these things because I loved them so much as a kid. My sister and I would fight over who's turn it was to set-up the Halloween characters around the Haunted House and of course when it was Becca's turn I would rearrange it when she wasn't looking. Sorry, sister. :-)
Now, I have these Halloween things out on my fire place hearth for my kiddos to play with. But I can't lie, when they're done, I still arrange them the way I want. :-)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Consider Consignment

As I've mentioned before, I am certainly no expert when it comes to "being green". However, I have been trying to add little things to my world that are environmentally friendly. I recycle, I am trying to reduce, and this post is about REUSING. I've never really thought about shopping for used items as being "green" until recently when someone pointed it out to me. There are a lot of benefits to shopping consignment - it's cheaper, there is a HUGE selection, and you may find something or a brand that isn't normally offered in the area.
This "green" activity helps reuse items so they won't end up in the landfill and reduces the amount of products you are buying at the store which in turn reduces the amount of resources used for manufacturing.
The other cool thing about consignment is that those items have to come from somewhere so you can "sell" or "donate" your gently used items for cash or store credit. Recently, I sold some maternity clothes to Children's Orchard for some cash and Other Mothers for store credit. I've bought Ava some sleepers, a new bouncer, and Jey some play clothes, puzzles and games AND I STILL have $60 of store credit at Other Mothers!
Matthew and I have not been left out either. While I have not ventured out too far to the consignment stores for big kids I have found The Plaid Door on east Sunsine to be exceptionally fun! I found several things to add to this momma's closet and a few new shirts for Matt.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another cup of coffee, another punch.

The Dancing Mule is my FAVORITE cup of coffee in town! Love, love, love it! Definitely check it out if you've never been. And get your Disloyalty Card punched while you're at it!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's a holiday! What did you get me?

Did you know today is National Coffee Day!?! I didn't even know there was such a thing until my good friends at told me! How are you going to celebrate? May I make a suggestion? I recommend visiting Coffee Ethic on the square; so quite and relaxing. The talented baristas made this cappuccino for me a couple of weeks ago, and of course punched my Disloyalty Card. :-). Happy Holiday!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another punch to prove how disloyal I am.

If you don't have a disloyalty card yet from 417coffee then you really should find one...quick! On this card you will find 8 participating area coffee shops who claim they have the best coffee. In fact they are SO confident that they are encouraging you to go to their competitors just to prove that they are that good and you will come back for more; thus, proving where your loyalties really are. How it works - obtain a disloyalty card at any of the participating coffee shops, grab a cup of coffee at each of the 8 places and have them punch your card, once your card is full, take it back to your favorite of the participating shops for a free cup of coffee and an entry into a drawing for cool coffee prizes. For more info go to I only need two more punches. I DEFINITELY have a favorite but don't want to persuade anyone nor make a judgement before visiting all locations. :-) I'll reveal my fav later! Let me know your favorite place to get a cup of joe!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Just a couple of my favorite things....

That's right, Jeremiah and Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt are just a couple things on my long list of things I love. If you have not been to Orange Leaf you are missing out! It's located on Republic and Fremont in Springfield or on The Landing in Branson. This froyo is unlike any other frozen treat - it actually taste like yogurt! They have a variety of flavors that they switch out often and a variety of very unique toppings - including Cap'n Crunch cereal! How cool is that!?! Another very cool feature is the fact that you pay by the ounce. So if you don't want to spend a lot - control your portions! You are paying just for what you want to eat, unlike other ice cream shops that charge a big price for a big portion that you may not be able to (or should not) finish. :-)

Jeremiah's favorite combination has been banana and peanut butter froyo with of course mismatched toppings such as cherries, sprinkles and gummy worms.

Matt usually gets the white chocolate paired with cookies and cream or cake batter froyo with an array of crushed cookies as a topping.

As for me, well, I get something different every time but I would have to say the coconut and pomegranate froyo with moci balls (Japanese rice) or the coffee froyo with raisinettes have been my fav!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hello, E.V.O!

One of the best salad dressings is created by mixing Blood Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Tangerine Balsamic Vinegar. These ingredients were purchased from Old Town Oil in Chicago but rumor has it there is a similar oil shop on The Landing in Branson so check it out!

You might have heard of a few nutritional benefits of EVO, such as it's a "healthy" fat and it's heart healthy properties. While all of that is true, it's still FAT and fat has a lot of calories. Extra calories means extra body weight which makes it harder for the heart to pump. EVO contains the type of fat that can actually help protect the heart but that certainly does not mean the more the better. So enjoy and eat in moderation!

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Labor Day Weekend to Remember

Last summer, Matt and I took Jey to St. Louis for vacation. One of our stops was the St.Louis City Museum and ever since then we have been dying to take our nephews knowing they would love it as much as we did. So this weekend we loaded two cars full of family, friends, kids, all the stuff that kids require and headed that way. It was everything we thought it would be - SUPER FUN! Our fun started with the St. Louis zoo (which is very cool for a free zoo!), continued with some hotel swimming, a trip to Trader Joes, some more swimming, the coolest museum ever, diner on The Hill, and Ted Drewes.

You can't go to ST. Louis and NOT get Ted Drewes Frozen Custard! So glad we were the ones that got to introduce the Murray's to Ted Drewes. Pictured above are the boys patiently waiting for their custard.

Thanks for the great weekend!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I knew this would happen...

With the craziness of school starting the blogging is few and far between. :-(. Hopefully it will get better once I'm all nestled in the semester. Until then...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Check out these melons!

This year our garden has not done well and it might be the fact that we've had bigger and better things going on this having a baby. However, the plants that have survived and being fruitful is our Sweet Melon plant. We had one lone melon (until recently) and it is a biggin'! We finally cut it open tonight for dinner. It was sweet but a little bitter out towards the edge so even though we let it sit on the vine a couple of weeks after we thought it needed to be picked, it still could have used more time. This is the first time we have grown sweet melons, although we have grown cantaloupe and watermelon with somewhat success. :-)
Here are some things you may or may not know about melons...
*They grow in a wide variety of geographical areas making them easy to grow and have a long growing season.
*There are two categories of melons - watermelons and muskmelon (which includes all melons that aren't watermelons.)
*Because of their thin cell walls, melons don't preserve well.
*The secret to picking a good watermelon is not necessarily by thumping it but by choosing the melon that has a "white belly" on one side. This indicates that the melon was allowed to ripen on the vine and should be sweet.
*When growing melons, be sure to rotate them so that only one side isn't on the ground the entire time. This will cause the melon to rot or the bugs to eat it before you get to it.
*To increase the produce coming from your plant, cut off some of those little yellow flowers that emerge from the plant. All of the nutrients will go to those flowers rather than growing fruit. And while those yellow flowers are lovely - that's not the point of planting a melon plant!
*Nutritionally melons are a good source of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A. In fact, a serving of fresh watermelon is the best source of lycopene! Lycopene is an antioxidant that is responsible for the red pigment you find in foods such as watermelon and tomatoes. It helps keep your eyes healthy but don't eat too much - it might make your skin turn orange! (No worries, just lay off the orange and red veggies/fruits for a couple of days.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One of the prettiest spots in Springfield.

We like free entertainment, right!?! If you haven't been to the Jordan Valley Fountain yet put it on your to-do-list! It is a must see! It's open for the public to come wade in the "creek" or run through the fountain; it has a walking trail and a beautiful place for a picnic. Every time we have visited it hasn't been crowded but other people tell me that isn't always the case. :-)
Oh, and did I mention it is FREE!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not a free weekend, but certainly a fun one!

This summer has been loaded with fun and we have definitely tried to keep it cheap...until this weekend. The Ozark Empire Fair with Tractor Pulls and Silver Dollar City does not equal cheap. The fair is, well you know, not cheap and gets even more expensive with kids. But, it was fun. :-). And besides, the chocolate milk Jey is drinking in the picture was free! Thank you, Hilland Dairy!

For the second weekend in a row we took advantage of Silver Dollar City's Moonlight Madness. SDC is so much more fun with kids; last week we went with our nephews and this week with our niece and cousins. We do get SDC passes for Christmas, which we LOVE, so this does make for cheap entertainment. Although not free because who can go to SDC without an Arctic Lemonade and a trip to the candy store?

Monday, August 9, 2010

One of my favorite summer treats.

Last year my garden would NOT stop growing cucumbers so after my nephew and I made pickles a couple of times we still had to get creative with the leftovers. My sister likes cucumber in water so I thought I would give it a try. It's SO REFRESHING! This year, I didn't plant any cucumbers but my best friend's garden grew enough for the both of us! Thank you, Amber, for the pickles AND big bag of cucumbers so I can enjoy this summer treat!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Blogging when I should be working...

I bought the app for my phone that will allow me to upload pictures to my blog. Let's see how this goes....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Test 1, 2, Test 1, 2, 3

I don't spend a lot of time on my computer anymore now that I have two kiddos but still have really good intentions to blog. So, I found an app that will allow me to blog from my phone. However, it doesn't get good reviews so let's see how this works....

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why Go to the Farmer's Market When the Farmer's Market Coms to You?

Who needs to go to the Farmer's Market when you have a friend who loves to share the fruits (or veggies) of her labor! You too, can find some of Amy Shelburn's produce at Homegrown Foods on the corner of Cherry and Pickwick. It is sort of like a flea market for area farmer's to bring their produce and they sell it for them. Amy was nice enough to bring me two huge bags of veggies pictured above - and this isn't even all of it - there is more in my fridge and my tummy! :-)
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Blueberry Beauty

I know I've already blogged about Pappy's Blueberry Patch but these pictures are just too cute not to share. If you have not been to Pappy's then definitely put it on your to-do-list. We have been 3 times this year and have frozen MANY bags of berries...but have eaten a lot of berries too. I just can't pass up blueberries - SO YUMMY! My niece, Zeda, apparently loves blueberries too! Her and Jey kept eating the berries FROM THE BUCKET by the handfuls. Needless to say, it took us quite a while to fill our buckets.

These Blueberries are DE-LISH!

Would you like a blueberry, Aunt Sarah?

Mom won't mind if I eat a few more.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Yet Another (almost) Free Weekend

Now this challenge is just getting fun. In attempt to save some money this summer we have been looking for fun, free entertainment around Springfield. This little project has been fun and the activities that we have found are way more fun than anything else we could be doing that would cost a lot of money! Plus, hangin' with my family has been, well, FUN! Here is what we did this weekend...

Friday: Took Jey to the library where we spent 2 HOURS (!) playing on the computer, playing with the toys and reading books. He also got his "Flip Card" for participating in the summer reading program. If you haven't gotten this card yet for the kiddos there is still time! Your kids will get a ton of free stuff with this card!
On Friday Night we attended the VBS Family Night at our church where we had a potluck dinner and a children's program - very entertaining!!!

Saturday: Matt took Jey to the zoo for a "Feast with the Beast" pancake breakfast. This was not free but entrance into the zoo was with our "FOZ" card. Last year for Christmas and Birthday presents we asked for memberships/season passes for various things around town such as the zoo. These make the best gifts because we DO use them a lot and it provides a lot of free entertainment throughout the year!
Saturday Night we decided to work through some of the things on the Flip Card we got from the Library. We were able to get a free kid's meal at Chic-Fil-A for Jey and I had a coupon for a free Chic-Fil-A Sandwich so all we had to do is buy Matt's dinner! :-) After dinner we headed to Silver Springs Pool. Jey's admission was free using his Flip Card, Matt and I donated a canned good for free admission. We had never been to this pool and it was really neat! The pool was slopped and shallow; there were a few water fountains planted in the pool that kids could run through; and it had a huge water play structure that kids could play on, squirt water everywhere and dump buckets of water on any one's head that was standing nearby. Jeremiah LOVED it!

Sunday: After church and lunch and a nap, we headed to my parent's for a swim. I also received a free pedicure and massage - you too could get this free if you have a mom like mine! Thanks mom!

What will be in store for next weekend? Let me know some of your ideas for free entertainment!
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A free weekend...almost.

One of the things that I love about living in Springfield is that there are a lot of neat things that happen in the city and a lot of free things to do! Because I took the summer off to be with the kiddos we are having to find CHEAP entertainment and it has been a TON of fun. I will keep posting on our cheap/free weekends so that perhaps you too can take advantage of some of these things.

Friday night we took advantage of the free family movies at Founder's Park in downtown Springfield. Every Friday and Saturday night in July and August a family friendly movie plays at dusk. Just take your snacks and a blanket/lawn chair to enjoy the movie. To make this movie free you need to stop by Doling Family Center or Chesterfield Family Center to pick up the free tickets. Otherwise it's $5 at the gate. You can get a complete list of movies by calling the park board or they are listed in the Springfield News-Leader. Our movie was "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs". We grabbed some Andy's Frozen Custard and headed to the movies (that is why our weekend wasn't totally free - we bought custard!).

Our Saturday started off as it always does with Matthew's Famous Blueberry Pancakes. My dad invited us to Ozark Coca-cola's 90th anniversary celebration where we had the opportunity to tour the bottling plant. It was pretty cool seeing fresh Dr. Pepper being packaged. They even gave us a Dr. Pepper right off the bottling line - it doesn't even have a label yet! Jeremiah of course loved the opportunity to take a sip of soda! On the tour they gave each of us some Coke/Dr. Pepper souvenirs and served us a picnic lunch complete with burgers and ice cream sandwiches. Oh, and did I mention it was free? :-)

Saturday night we enjoyed a Round-Up Campfire at church with games for the kids and a cookout - it was of course, free! Pictures will be posted soon!
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