11.30.2011

Christmas Tree Snacks

I have been desperately trying to find some fun, healthy snacks for my kids this holiday season...and I'll tell you why :) Obviously, I want my kids to be as healthy as possible, but honestly...I just don't have the willpower to resist all these yummy unhealthy treats floating around! So, I'm hoping by dressing up this healthy food the kids will get more excited about vegetables and I will be able to stick to my eating plan.
First up I found some mini peppers at Costco the other day. I love red peppers so I grabbed a bag and munched away. All of the sudden I was looking at my pepper and it hit me...these totally looked like Christmas lights! Wierd that I think of things like that, right?! :)



I used the mini peppers, part of a snap pea, and black beans to make these fun treats. Best part? the first day I brought these peppers home the kids wouldn't even try them. Yesterday after school...they were FIGHTING over who got the lights :) SUCCESS!!

This next idea I found on a great blog called Little Nummies. It was so simple to make and a fun snack to eat while we did our Christmas Tree craft. Again...I am so grateful for creative people that share all their fun ideas!

For our Christmas Tree all we used were snap peas, cheese cut in the shape of a star, and pretzel sticks. afterwards I thought it would have been fun to use craisins and raisins as decorations too! :)


Thanks so much for stopping by today! Please share if you have any fun, healthy holiday snacks you give your kids...I need all the ideas I can get! :) Check back tomorrow for a really fun, messy Christmas Tree craft. Have a great day!!

11.29.2011

Christmas Tree Family Home Evening

We had a really simple, fun family home evening last night that was a good way to get my kids into the spirit of Christmas and especially the spirit of giving this holiday season. Also we are learning all about Christmas Trees this week so it worked out perfectly!

Our lesson was based on the book "Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect." I found a link online where you can view most of the story if you can't make it to the library.

I absolutely love this book. It talks about the evergreen trees in the Royal Forest, and how each hopes to be the most perfect tree so they will be picked by the queen. Small Pine is the most perfect of all, until she gives of herself so animals of the forest will have protection, shelter, and food. Even though she is no longer perfect the queen chooses Small Pine to come to the castle, because "living for the sake of others makes us most beautiful in the eyes of God."

The message this story shares was a great one for our family. This is a season for giving to others that have little, while we truly have so very much. I also love teaching my children that our Heavenly Father cares more about our hearts then what we look like on the outside. My husband made a great point as well: sometimes the best gifts we can give are not things. Sometimes what someone desperately needs is simply a friend to talk to, a way to not feel so alone, or to hear your testimony.

After we finished our lesson we did a fun activity that I saw years ago in a Family Fun magazine. All you need for this are some ornaments made out of paper ( I cut mine with my Silhouette and put double-sided tape on the back)

And some green and red crepe paper. We didn't end up using the red but it would be cute for next time.

Once you have your supplies ready to go you get to decorate your very own Christmas Trees :) We just wrapped the crepe paper around the kids and my husband (he really is such a great sport) and tried to have them hold their arms out a little to make a tree shape. Once the crepe paper was up we all took turns sticking on different ornaments.

I had originally just planned to make my husband be the tree, but the kids thought it was so much fun they all wanted to get in on it too!



Short and simple, just the way FHE needs to be with 4 kids 6 and under :)

Thank you so much for visiting today! I hope you found something you liked or that gave you some great ideas of your own. Please share if you have any favorite holiday family home evenings in your family, and stay tuned for a great service project we will be doing next week, fun Christmas Tree crafts and treats, and the Symbols of Christmas. Have a great day!!

11.27.2011

Santa Pancakes!

Now that we are almost to December I wanted to share a fun, simple breakfast I have made with my kids the last couple of years to kick of our favorite month of the year! It's a fun way to get them excited about Christmas and celebrate December 1st.

I give you....

Santa Pancakes!!




These are about as easy as you can get. You just make up a bunch of pancakes, then slice up some strawberries and get a can of whipped cream. Use the strawberries to make Santa's hat and the whipped cream for the rest of his hat and beard. Top it off with some chocolate chips for the eyes and you have your very own Santa Pancake :)

I love the Christmas season and am excited to share some of the ways we are trying to make it special in our home this year! I have a really fun Christmas countdown using all the symbols of Christmas, some great crafts for the kids, and lots more.

Thanks so much for stopping by and hope you are enjoying this beautiful holiday season so far! :)

11.22.2011

Choose to Become...

I had the most amazing opportunity this weekend to join the women of my family and attend the Time Out For Women conference in Salt Lake City. Words don't quite do the experience justice, everything sounds too cheesy or cliche. But honestly...I came home changed. The speakers touched my soul, the music stirred my heart, and I was (and still am!) filled with more knowledge, desire, gratitude and love.
The theme for this year was Choose to Become. Could not have been more perfect for me. One of the things I love about the gospel of Jesus Christ is the doctrine about free agency and choice and accountability. I feel it is SO empowering...I HAVE THE CHOICE. I can choose every day to become the woman my Heavenly Father expects me to be.
One thought that kept coming to me as well through out the entire weekend was who I was before I came to this world. I believe we were all sent here with missions, divine works we are appointed to accomplish with specific spiritual gifts given to help us along our way. The thought kept coming to me as I pondered who I was choosing to become...perhaps I am choosing to REDISCOVER who I had already promised my Father in Heaven I would be. I am not trying to become someone I have never been, instead remembering who He promised me I could be. It was a pretty powerful recognition for me.
Joining me at the conference were my most amazing Johnson girls!! I am so blessed with my family. I was born into an amazing family and count my blessings every day for them. I am also lucky enough to be apart of the Johnson family. I feel as close to them as my own , and I know I was meant to be a part of them. I just found them through marriage instead of birth :)
Here are some pics of us gals at the hotel our AWESOME father-in-law paid for...what a guy!:)



Bet you wish you could have been a fly on the wall to hear all our conversations that night....actually...probably not ;)


A really fun tradition we have started at our annual Girls Weekends are to do our Favorite Things. We try to keep it at a dollar a person, but you think of one of your favorite things that you could share and give one to everyone. It is so fun to learn more about everyone and also get a bag of favorite things to take home!


How lucky I am to stand in the company of such amazing women!

I wanted to share with you some of the most inspiring words that I heard this weekend, I hope these can help and inspire someone as they did for me.

"One who chooses Christ chooses to be changed."

In regards to our Savior..."We need to remember not only what He has saved us from, but what He has saved us FOR."

"God's delays are NOT denials."

The above were all quotes from the amazing Brad Wilcox. He spoke about our Savior as our Redeemer,and His ability to mold and transform us. It was truly beautiful.

The person I was MOST excited to hear from did not disssapoint!! I LOVE Sheri Dew. I love her boldness, her faith and her ability to make me want to be more simply by listening to her. She had some very powerful things to say as well...

"There is not one cell in my body that is neutral about the gospel of Jesus Christ."

"We need to become seeking women, not silly women."

In regards to what to tell someone when they ask us mothers what it is that we actually do all day....you simply say, "I'm nurturing 4 children along the path to exaltation...how abou you?" :)

I have a journal with pages FULL of these quotes and so many more! The thing that was truly amazing about this weekend was that out of 8 women, we all heard exactly what WE needed to hear. Sheri Dew said "The Holy Ghost is the great translator" and I know that is true. He is able to take the message that is given and translate it into our hearts so we can hear what we need.

The other thing this tells me is that Heavenly Father knows ME. He knew what I needed to hear, if I would only listen. Within minutes of hearing the first speaker a word kept coming to me over and over. Throughout the weekend I kep thinking of this word as I pondered who I was choosing to become. When I came home I was impressed to read my patriarchal blessing. I was surprised to realize that same word is repeated over and over, and it had never really stood out to me before. I knew that Heavenly Father was telling me exactly who I could choose to become, because He knows exactly what I am capable of, and WHO I am capable of becoming.

The same is true for all of us. He knows you. And as we strive to become whoever we choose, He will be with us every step of the way.

Thank you for stopping by today. I know that not everyone that looks at my little blog is of the LDS faith, but I believe these concepts are true for ALL of us. We were all born with a divine nature and limitless possibilities...the challenge in this life is seeking those out and trusting ourselves and our Heavenly Father enough to let it all happen.

11.21.2011

Turkey Family Home Evening


If you have followed this little blog for a while, you may have already seen this family home evening. However, since a lot more people have found us, I thought I would post it again if anyone needs a last minute family home evening for tonight. This is what we are doing at my home tonight :)
I originally found this story on Sugardoodle and made a few changes so the wording was a little more simple for my young children. I typed it up for you here, so you can just copy and paste into a word document and print off. I always love to have a visual, so for this story I printed out and colored turkeys in brown ,red, blue, purple, green, yellow, and white.


Then I just made individual feathers in all the different colors to stick on Tom as he gets each new colored feather...this will make sense after you read the story :) I just used tape to attach the colored feathers to the brown turkey.



The Turkey With the Terrible Temper

Once there was a little BROWN TURKEY who had a TERRIBLE TEMPER. He often flew into rages and ranted around until he was a nuisance in the farm yard. One day he lost his temper about some little thing and got so angry he flew into a rage and went RED as a beet. The other turkeys laughed at him and said: You're RED, RED RED as a BEET: RED from your head to the tip of your feet. Tom Turkey didn't like anyone or anything so he ran away and hid. He sat and sulked for a long time. When he calmed down and came out of his hiding place he was really RED all over. His head was RED and his neck was RED- he was RED from head to his feet.

He hurried to the edge of the farm to visit Dr. Owl how was wise and knew all the answers to everything. "You will have to learn to control that temper of yours!" hooted Dr. Owl. " If you don't remember in time you will end up being a very sorry turkey." The next morning Tom Turkey was brown again except that he had a red feather in his tail. He was very glad to be brown again, but he still thought it was everybody else's fault that he gotten so angry the day before. Tom's mother called him to help with the Monday wash.

But Tom got the BLUES as soon as he started working. He moaned and groaned until his mother said he was acting like a baby. You can guess what happened next- he lost his temper again. This time he went BLUE ALL OVER! As he was running away to hide all the other turkeys yelled: You're BLUE, BLUE from your head to your toe, BLUE all over wherever you go. This time Tom Turkey sat and sulked and blamed his mother for losing his temper.

By morning he was BROWN again but now he had a blue feather next to the red one in his tail. You can guess what happened the rest of the week. On Tuesday Tom didn't want to clean up the yard. He said he hated cleaning up with a PURPLE passion. Just as soon he had said he was in a rage he turned PURPLE all over. The Turkeys shouted: You're PURPLE, PURPLE, that's all we can see, you'd better go hide under your favorite tree. Of course Tom Turkey sat and sulked and blamed everything onto to everyone else. On Wednesday morning he was BROWN again but he had a PURPLE tail feather added to his the RED and BLUE one. He was beginning to feel ashamed that he couldn't control himself when he wanted to. He went out for a walk when he saw a big ear of corn that his turkey friend was eating. Tom was GREEN with envy.

He thought the farmer had no right to give someone else the cob of corn. And before he knew it he had turned GREEN all over, and was in another terrible temper tantrum. The turkeys all turned on him and yelled: You're GREEN, GREEN GREEN as the grass. Why don't you get wise and stop all the sass? And of course again, Tom Turkey went to his hiding place to sulk and feel sorry for himself. On Thursday morning he was BROWN again but now he had a GREEN feather amongst the other brightly colored tail feathers. But something was happening to Tom Turkey. He was really beginning to want to change. He wanted to keep his temper. He didn't feel like being ashamed of himself. He was determined to try hard and do just that. Of course all the turkeys liked to tease Tom and while they were playing a game of Gobble and Waddle someone called Tom a coward. Before Tom started to think he had flown into another tantrum.

This time his face turned YELLOW and his neck was YELLOW and the turkeys were saying he had a YELLOW streak down his back. They yelled: You're YELLOW, turkey. Just like we said, Why don't you go home and hide under the bed? Tom Turkey had turned YELLOW all over because he had forgotten to control his temper. But this time he sat under a tree and thought a long time about everything. He had only himself to blame for his mistakes. He was beginning to realize that he was the only one who could make things better. When he awoke in the morning he was brown again with a new yellow feather in his tail. He didn't say a word to anyone, he just went about his business and said to himself: " I can do it, if I try hard enough !" Mother Turkey asked Tom to keep an eye on the little turkeys when she went to the store on Friday. While she was gone all the baby turkeys ran through the house with muddy feet. When Tom saw what they had done, Tom almost lost his temper.

But this time he just held his breath as long as he could. He turned as pale as a ghost , but he didn't lose his temper. The turkeys yelled: You're WHITE, WHITE but your temper didn't show. Maybe you're changing, we really hope so. All Saturday and Sunday he kept calm and was tickled PINK to think he had gone two days without a terrible temper tantrum. He was still a little BROWN turkey, and a very happy one too. He reported back to Dr. Owl on Monday and Tom Turkey thanked him for his help. Dr. Owl told Tom he had earned the right to wear the brightly colored tail and that he should show it off proudly from now on. So when you go to the farm and see the turkey with his fan shaped tail all unfolded, remember this story about the turkey with the terrible temper.

Isn't that a wonderful message? I absolutely love anything that can help me reinforce to my children that they have a CHOICE! I think young children often feel helpless and out of control, I want my children to learn the things that ARE within their control. They may not always have life go as they want, but they can always try to choose happiness and make the best out of whatever comes their way.
We LOVE to make these fun Turkey Cupcakes, and here are some pics from when we made them last year. They are SUPER easy, you can get the recipe from Family Fun here:


Hope you have a wonderful Family Home Evening with your dear ones. I will be back later with an awesome post about how I spent my weekend...it was amazing!! :)

11.16.2011

Living the dream...

We just got back from a wonderful weekend of visiting family in San Diego. We had a fantastic time and were a little sad to come home. As I was going through these pictures I realized something quite amazing. Usually I look at pictures and realize I only captured the good moments...quietly ignoring all the tantrums, breakdowns and fights that always occur with young kids and trips! However, as I looked at these pictures, I realized they WERE a true representation of our trip. The kids were abnormally well-behaved, we were lucky to be joined by my super fun brother and sister-in-law, and I really feel just like the title of this post says...I am living the dream. Or at least, MY dream.
I only have about a million pictures, so sit back and enjoy!! :)
Our big adventure was taking the kids to SeaWorld. The weather was perfect, no crowds, and lots of fun. What more could you ask for?!

We didn't have room to bring our huge stroller so we just rented one they had there. It was perfect because Avrie loved looking around and the big girls could sit on the footrest when they got tired.

2 of the loves of my life :)

This is my brother Tim. He is awesome. I couldn't believe how much patience he and his wife Sara had for our kids. It made our trip a million times better having them with us.

One of the kids favorite things to do was feed fish to the sea lions. I couldn't believe they would grab those stinky little fish and launch them at the sea lions!



Here are some of the beautiful sights at San Diego SeaWorld!



They had THE cutest Sesame Street Playland and we all LOVED going on all the rides together.


How can you NOT smile when you take a break from pushing the stroller, look down, and this is what you see?!


I love the smiles on my kids faces...priceless!

I think this was Paul's favorite part of the day,he loves a good rollercoaster. I was glad he had Tim and Sara to go with him ;)

A huge bouncy-house for Britton to go crazy in? Yes please! :)

Man, we had a great time!! I am so grateful for this little family of mine. They have made my dreams come true, even though,lets be honest, some moments feel sort of like a nightmare! ;)

I am finding a deep contentment in my life RIGHT where it is. There is so much to work on and improve, but meanwhile I am grateful for all that we have been blessed with. I love this time of year to reflect on all these beautiful feelings of gratitude and thanksgiving, and try to treasure every minute of living my dream :)

11.08.2011

Indian Corn Fun


Today we had SUCH a fun day doing some activities that all had to do with Indian Corn! Other people must have had the same idea because when I went to the store this morning I nabbed the very last Indian Corn :) I wanted to give my kids a visual of what we were going to be learning about, aren't those colors gorgeous?!


After we talked all about how the Indians taught the Pilgrims all about corn and some of its different uses we decided to make our very own Fingerprint Indian Corns. I printed off the template HERE and then just traced and cut several corns. Then I put a little bit of paint on a plate for each child and let them go to town!


I loved the finished product on these, this one was Skylar's and I thought it turned out SO cute!

The kids always love any kind of fingerpainting or mess-making so this craft was definitely a hit! It was also perfect if you have a range of different ages. My 6 year old did hers almost perfectly while even my 2 year old had a fun time...and just look how precious those little hands are! :)

Once we finished with our craft we made a fun treat that I found years ago on Family Fun. I modified it a little to go with ingredients we had on hand and I think it turned out great!

First up you make the traditional recipe for Rice Krispie treats...only you substitute Corn Pops for Rice Krispies (very tasty!!)

Once you have it all mixed together you add drops of red and purple food coloring throughout. Don't mix it too well...you really want the different colors throughout.

Once its cooled a little you take a popsicle stick and mold the treat around the stick in the shape of a corn cob (or something similar ;)

Finally you take a green fruit roll-up and cut some triangle-sized pieces to make up the corn stalk. Your treats will be very sticky so it will be easy to attach those stalks :)

These were a yummy after-school snack that the kids had fun helping me make. I love how excited they get about learning and that as soon as Daddy comes home they are excited to tell him all about Indians, Pilgrims and Corn :)

I hope you are all having an absolutely wonderful Holiday Season so far. We definitely are, and I am trying to just soak up every single minute with my little family. I have been humbled and overwhelmed with so many feelings of gratitude this month, and a desire to not let one mundane, average moment of my life go by without acknowledging the blessings I have been given :)

11.03.2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls


Oh my.

These are (or I should say WERE :) delicious!! I found the recipe on Pinterest HERE when I was searching for something to make using some leftover pumpkin I had in my pantry. They turned out just perfect for me...they were super moist and had that yummy hint of pumpkin flavor, and not being a huge frosting I fell in love with the Caramel Glaze.
Do you have some pumpkin laying around in your pantry too??

Here's what you need to make these beauties...

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Glaze

1/3 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast

2 cups bread flour (you can use regular all purpose flour but bread flour makes them lighter)

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons melted butter




CARAMEL FROSTING

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 dash salt

3/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

First up, you want to warm your milk and butter until it is starting to melt, stirring constantly.

Meanwhile in a mixer add pumpkin, sugar, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Add your milk and butter mixture and mix well. Then add your beaten egg and packet of yeast.


Once you have that all mixed together you are going to start adding your flour. Here's a tip: it says in the recipe to use bread flour. I never have bread flour on hand but by chance did this one time....it made a HUGE difference. These cinnamon rolls were so light and moist...so try out this flour :) Add once cup of flour and mix well, then slowly add the second cup, while you are scraping the sides.

Once you have mixed all the flour in you will have a very soft dough. Put this in a greased bowl and let rise until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Once your dough has risen roll it out on a floured surface into a nice rectangle shape. Once you have done that brush with the melted butter and top with your cinnamon and brown sugar mixture.

After that, simply roll up your dough and slice into 12 sections, placing on a greased pan, cut-side up.

Yeah...I'm really not a baker, so make sure you check out the original posting for these yummies...her instructions are MUCH better!

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Mine baked for 15 minutes exactly and came out perfect.

Isn't it pretty?! :)

Now you may remember I mentioned something about a Caramel Glaze? Oh yes...its a must!

Simply heat your butter until melted, then add brown sugar and milk. Cook this for one minute, stirring constantly, over low heat. Then transfer to a mixing bowl and add vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt and confectioner's sugar. Use an electric mixer to blend well, and feel free to add more sugar or milk to get the right texture. Once you do drizzle a little (or a LOT!) on top of your cooled cinnamon rolls. Then get an ice cold glass of milk and ENJOY!!

Thank you for stopping by Blue Skies Ahead! I feel like its taken me this whole week to recover from Halloween and get caught up on the things in my life that needed some catching up on :) Now before I know it I'll be saying the same thing about Thanksgiving! Please check back later for some fun with the kiddos, a great family tradition to celebrate Gratitude, and lots more!