Thursday, October 9, 2014

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Here are links to my October posts with LOTS of fun ideas for celebrating the month of October with your children, friends and family. There are fun kid crafts and tasty Halloween treats, warm and hearty autumn recipes, Columbus days activities, and even suggestions for throwing a Harvest Dinner or celebrating Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos)! Take a look at the traditions that make my family's October so special and fun!
  






















Monday, September 29, 2014

Healthy Banana Oat Muffins

Hey! Here is the recipe I promised on my instagram feed. If you aren't following me you can do so @allseasonssweet!  

These muffins are SO delicious and SO kid-friendly and you won't even believe that they have NO sugar, oil, or flour!! Whip these up and pair with a glass of ice-cold milk for a delicious and healthy breakfast or after school snack! 




Banana Oat Muffins

Ingredients:

2.5 cups Quick Oats (You can substitute rolled oats for these but the muffins come out just a little dense.) 

1 cup plain low fat greek yogurt


1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce


1/2 cup honey


2 tsp baking powder


1 tsp baking soda


2 TBSP ground flax seed (I use golden flaxseed meal in these)


1 tsp vanilla


2 large ripe bananas mashed

Optional add-ins: Dark chocolate chips, chopped nuts, raisins, etc. to taste

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray tin with non-stick cooking spray or line 12 muffin tins with cupcake liners.
2. Place the oats in the food processor/blender and pulse for about 10 seconds, just until they become like a ground meal.
3. Mix processed oats with all remaining ingredients in a bowl until well mixed. 
4. Divide batter among cupcake liners, and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. 
Note: The tops of these muffins don't really brown, so be sure you don't over bake them. Just bake until the toothpick comes out clean. 



ENJOY!!

xoxo

Annie

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A is for Apple




Here is just a peek at some of the apple fun we've been having this September. My son is just 2 1/2 so I decided to forgo enrolling him in preschool this year and just do our own version of it at home. Everyday we do a few pages of a preschool workbook I got him and practice writing and sounding out letters. He can write about 6 letters now!  Then we have reading time and arts and crafts time. Because it is September, our theme this month has been APPLES! Take a look!



Apple Stamps

Cut an apple in half and use it to stamp red paint onto a large white sheet. See what kind of patterns you can make. 





Apple Peanut Butter Sandwich

Just spread PB between two slices of apple! Yum!



What begins with A?

We have been focusing mainly on the letter A this month and learning what sound it makes and what words start with it. He painted a big APPLE for the letter A.  






Apple Pie Scented Play-dough

Beckam had a lot of fun with this yummy smelling play-dough. We used Fall cookie cutters to cut out shapes and also made play-dough apples. To make this, see the recipe HERE!  





Fine-Motor Apple Lacing Craft

Cut two apples out of red paper and punch holes around the edge.  Have your toddler use yarn or a shoelace to thread through the holes and "sew" the two paper apples together. When you're done you can stuff your apple with tissue to make it "plump" out and add some green leaves if you want. 



Caramel Apples 

For a Family Home Evening activity we made caramel apples one night. :)




Apple Counting Book

I got some great ideas from this amazing preschool packet from Oopsey Daisey. There are literally over 100 apple-themed activity/craft/song/math/spelling/reading, etc. ideas in this packet. And it is FREE!!! Head over to her website to download the link! 



This is one of the activities I printed from her packet: 





Apple Tree Craft

We talked about how tiny seeds grow into a big apple tree and then used a sponge to paint our own tree and glue paper apples onto it. 




Apple Observation

I bought different types of apples and we took some time observing them. I let Beckam smell them, feel them in his hands, look them over, etc. We talked about their color, shape, texture and how they each have a stem. We cut them in half and looked at the star shape the seeds make in the center. Then we tasted each apple to see which one we liked best. The Sweet Tango was surprisingly sour and our favorite was the juicy Jazz apple. 

 



He took the apple tasting part very seriously :)




Apple Picking

There's not a place close by here in Phoenix where we can pick apples, so I cut up paper apples and hid them around our house and then we went apple "picking." Beckam LOVED this activity! He kept asking me to hide the apples over and over. 






And then just for fun, we got a warm cinnamon pretzel at our outdoor mall and shared it with Arthur :) 



Happy September! I can't believe its almost over! 



xoxo
Annie

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Turning Over A New "Leaf" 2014

For those of you who have read my September posts in the past, you will know that for my family September is a time of "turning over a new leaf."  Get it? Leaf? Like as in Autumn leaves? Wink. Wink. :) With the start of a new school and fiscal year and with the end of the busy summer months that beckon a return to structure and organization, September is just the perfect time for a fresh beginning. A time to re-focus, re-energize, and re-organize.  So think of some ways this month that you can turn over a new leaf in your life. To get you thinking, check out my previous post Turning Over a New Leaf for some suggestions. 

This year, for me it has been all about simplification. With two kids in tow now,  I am learning that as a mother - simplifying is the way to go! I'm all about seeing what other mothers do to make things work, so I thought I'd share some of the things that personally make my life easier:


An Effective Cleaning Plan

 Cleaning. Where do I begin. Let's just say that I tend to have some pretty OCD tendencies when it comes to cleaning. My husband can attest to the fact that there is nothing that can put me in a bad mood faster than clutter or mess. I'm one of those people that feels like her house is messy as soon as the vacuum lines disappear from the carpet. Borderline crazy person, right? But all you moms out there know that having a clean house when you have little kids is MUCH easier said than done. I mean, no matter how many times I Windex the glass backdoor, there will always be smudgy little peanut butter hand prints on it. I can pick up toys all the live long day and somehow never keep up with the rate at which my son can destroy a room. So, for me, being able to keep my house cleaned is a challenge... and a compromise.   A compromise because I've come to realize that my house can't be as perfectly cleaned as I want it to be all. the. time. But it CAN be clean. I want you to remember that. It IS possible. It CAN happen.  

For those of you who struggle seeing the point of a clean home, who are not naturally inclined to have a clean house, or who simply need a little motivation, I thought of explaining the value that I believe exists in having a clean and orderly home. But... this wonderful blogger ALREADY explained it perfectly. The reasons she lists for keeping a clean home are EXACTLY the reasons I believe in having a tidy environment.  To see her explanation click HERE



The only thing I would add to her list is: A clean house invites the spirit of our Heavenly Father into our home. When my house is clean, it is more conducive to having a spirit of peace and reverence. Clutter and mess are chaos and chaos is the antithesis of the Holy Spirit. Call me crazy but I REALLY believe that this is true. That is NOT to say that our houses should always be perfectly cleaned and organized- that is an IMPOSSIBLE standard to live by- but for me, it does give me a greater incentive to AIM to keep my house clean.  Our floors will be sticky from time to time, couch pillows will litter the floor, toys will be strewn around, dirty dishes will fill the sink, laundry will be piled to the moon... BUT my GOAL can be to always return my home, and our lives, back to order as often as possible. 


So...these are two methods that I use to keep my house tidy and clean. The first method is what I did all last year. It made cleaning a little more fun interesting. The second method though, I just started this September and am LOVING it! For some reason it just seems to work with my crazy, busy schedule! I hope for all you mamas out there that are also struggling with being able to keep your own houses clean that one of these methods might help!  


1.  Popsicle Stick Cleaning Game

About a year ago I came up with this way to clean my house, and like I said, it made things just a little more interesting.  First, I wrote each room or section of my house down on a popsicle stick (i.e. kitchen, master bedroom, laundry room, etc.) Then I stuck all the sticks in a little jar. When it was time to clean my house, whether I had 15 minutes or a few hours, I would draw one stick out and see which room it said. That was the room I had to clean. Once it was done, if I had more time, I would draw another stick. If I had to divert my attention elsewhere for a while, I would just pick back up where I left off once I got the chance. My goal was to make it through all the sticks by the end of the day so that we could go to bed on a clean house. Oh how I love going to bed on a clean house.  :)

I also liked this method because instead of looking at the whole house as one big impossible cleaning mountain, it broke it up into manageable bits and pieces. It was just one room at a time. And because I randomly drew out which room to clean, the order always changed which made things a little bit more...exciting?



2.  Daily Cleaning List

This is the second method. I love it. Instead of going room by room, I go by category. I made a master list of all the things I like to to do to clean (or at least spot-clean) EVERY day. I put them in a slightly random, slightly logical order.  You can see what I mean below: 



When I have time to clean, I just start going down the list. I keep it in a page protector on my fridge so I can write on it with a wet-erase marker and then wipe it clean when I'm done. I love this method because it's even easier to break things up. Instead of trying to clean my whole house at once, whenever I have a free minute, I just try to get two or three things on the list done. Again, the goal is to finish all of them by the end of the day.  By doing this EVERY day though, my house has been staying cleaner than ever so it's only taking me about 30-45 minutes to go through the whole list!!



Bonus: if my husband wants to help, it's so easy to point him towards the fridge and just say pick a couple things you want to do! He'll select a few off the list and then check them off so I know they're done. Once my kids are old enough to start helping too, it will be so easy to have them each pick one or two things to do, and as a family we can all get the house cleaned in no-time!


Note: As far as deep cleaning goes, I deep clean one room a week. This takes care of all the nitty gritty things like dusting light fixtures and shutters, de-junking, washing bedding, mopping, etc. But its been very quick and painless to deep clean, since I've been doing this new cleaning method, because the majority of my house stays pretty darn clean. 



Easy-Peasy Laundry Tip

Okay, so even though I am a kind of freak when it comes to cleaning, I somehow cannot handle laundry. It is my arch nemesis. My kryptonite. My achilles heal of cleaning. I think it has something to do with my ridiculous need to cross things off a list and laundry is one of those things that you can never cross off a list- it ALWAYS needs to be done!!

  

I can handle the putting it in the washer part. I can even come to grips with the putting it in the dryer part. But somewhere between the folding it and getting it put away part I totally come un-done. One of my biggest problems though was how overcomplicated I was making the "putting it away part." That's because in my totally OCD fashion, I have always HUNG all my clothes and in a COLOR-CODED fashion. I mean, YIKES!  Even my family's clothes I would hang up according to color in their closets. Partly because I think hung clothes stay nicer (Don't even get me started on my pet-peeve about wrinkly clothes) and partly because I just love the way that color-coded clothes all hung up in a pretty little row look. It just sings to every OCD cell in my body.   

This was until one day when my mom was visiting me. My mom raised 8 kids WHILE having a very organized and clean household so she's kinda like an expert on the matter. Anyway, she was helping me do my laundry one day and when she got to the, you know, the "putting it away part" she took one look at my color-coded 'pride and joy' and gave me a look like: 
"Girlfriend, you serious?! Ain't nobody got time for that!" 

So, she totally made over my closets with handy little bins. She even let me use my label maker to label the bins ;) but now once my clothes are folded all I have to do is throw them into their bin! It is SO easy!!   



Some of you may already have figured this out, but for those of you who are seriously struggling with the hanging up clothes thing- don't. Just don't. Toss those babies in bins and get on with it! I now ONLY hang up things that have a tendency to get really wrinkly if folded. 





Toy Organization

So, speaking of bins. The other thing seriously helped my life out was to organize all my son's toys into "bins," "boxes," whatever you want to call them.
This is a beautiful thing for 4 reasons:
1) He can't just dump out all the toys he wants, whenever he wants. There are a few big toys in a basket on his floor that he can get to whenever he wants, but otherwise, I am in control of the mess because he has to ask me to get a box of toys down.  So, in short, our house stays cleaner. 

 2) The rule is, he can only get a new box of toys down when the one he was playing with is cleaned up and put away. This means he is not only a skilled champ at picking up after himself now, but there are serious limits to the amount of mess he can make since he can only play with one box at a time.  

3) He plays better. Simple as that. Instead of wading through toys that are strewn all over his floor, trying to decide what to play with but being overstimulated by the selection and mess, the toys actually hold their appeal more and stay exciting to him because he doesn't have access to them all the time.  

4) Toys stay nicer and don't get lost. Our puzzles and toys have all their pieces, they stay looking newer and nicer, and all the pieces are together in one place when he wants to play with them. There is no dumping out all of his toys trying to find that one missing lego because all of his legos are together in one place! 




And now, for the most important thing of all...the ONE thing that makes my life so much easier, that helps me be a better mom, wife and human being, that helps me be happier, and gives me strength to make it through each and every day is...

 DAILY Scripture Study

This seems obvious. And as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we know it's supposed to be a part of our everyday life. However, when I took a religion class at BYU our professor told us that after the Church conducted a world-wide survey they found that less than 3% of people engage in meaningful daily scripture study. THREE PERCENT!!

Before I became a mom, scripture study came pretty easily. It just wasn't that hard as a young single or newly married individual to carve at least 30 minutes out of my day to spend in the scriptures. Then I became a sleep-deprived new mother and having 30 consecutive, un-interrupted minutes was harder than I ever could have imagined. Nap-time always raised the panic question of: "Quick! What do I do?! Shower? Pay bills? Exercise? Sleep?!" It seemed all too easy to push scriptures to the bottom of the list. I mean, I NEEDED to shower right? So scripture study became a "frazzled, distracted, squeeze it in whenever I got the chance, hurry up before the baby cries, balance the bible in one hand and a nursing baby in the other" kind of thing.

BUT... one thing I managed to never lose sight of is that scripture study is NOT an option. It's not a choice. Not if you want to stay close to God and have His strength and help and guidance in your daily life.  Scripture study is what I call a "non-negotiable" - meaning, no matter how crazy busy or hectic your life is, you MUST do it. Just like eating, breathing, drinking water, it's not something you can negotiate out of your schedule or put off for another day.  


A year ago I came up with a plan for my scripture study that has made it SO much easier. I thought I'd just share it with you in case any of you mamas, or anyone for that matter, are looking for a way to try to make daily scripture study more do-able.

TIP 1:   The first suggestion I have is... do your scripture study in the SAME PLACE at the SAME TIME everyday. It is so much easier to develop a habit if you know exactly when and where you will do it every day.  After looking long and hard at my life, I realized that for me, scripture study was easiest if I did it every night before I go to bed, sitting in my bed. This means I don't have the distraction of kids who by this time are tucked away sleeping AND no matter what my day looks like (whether we're out late with friends, on vacation, etc.) I can always count on the fact that when I go to bed- I will sit there between the sheets and study the Word of God for at least 30 minutes. 


TIP 2:  Know what you're going to study. It can be hard to motivate yourself if you don't have a set plan of what exactly you're going to do, when you do it.  If you are just newly getting into to the groove of daily study, don't feel bad!! Start small. Decide to read one chapter a night. Or even just 3 verses. Anything to get you reading.  For those of you who are undertaking a more serious study of the scriptures, again, know exactly what you are going to study.

For me, I always felt torn between all of the things I wanted to study (i.e. General Conference Talks, Bible, Book of Mormon, Teachings of the Living Prophets, etc.) so I decided to assign different things to different days of the week. This means that I am sure to get to all of the things I want to cover and it keeps things more interesting because I'm not always studying the same thing every day of the week.

This is my set plan I follow. I LOVE it! I seriously can't recommend something like this enough!




* My study of the Old Testament follows the weekly lesson for Gospel Doctrine which is Mormon lingo for what we study each week in Sunday School at church. I am using Kerry Muhlstein's commentary book with my study. I love it!


*Thursday- Friday I study the chapter of Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith that we are going to be covering that week in Relief Society. 


 By doing this, it helps me to be so much more engaged in my Sabbath meetings since I've already read and studied what we are going to be discussing. 


Last but not least, I would just leave you with something my dad used to always say. It helps me on those busy or tired evenings when I might not feel like doing my studies. He said:

"Whenever you don't feel like reading your scriptures, 
read them until you do." :) 

As  I have made scripture study a part of my daily routine I have truly felt a power and strength enter my life. Things seem more manageable, I am able to get more done, I feel happier, I can handle situations better,  and most importantly I feel the guidance and love of my Heavenly Father. I know that He lives, and I know that dedicating ourselves to a serious study of His Word will bring us closer to Him and will open the door for innumerable blessings to enter our lives. 


xoxo
Annie






























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