Happy Homesteading

Favorite Holiday Recipes

My friend and I have an annual holiday cookie/candy making get together. Sometimes we make the same recipes and often times we try some new things. My friend has a 5 year old and we’ve been doing it for 4 years so we’ve always done kid friendly recipes like chocolate covered pretzels and peanut clusters. 


Here’s what we made this year:

Chocolate covered pretzels – melt almond bark according to instructions on package. Dip pretzels and lay them out on wax paper. Sprinkle with Christmas sprinkles. 

Peanut clusters – melt chocolate flavored almond bark according to instructions on the package. Pour dry roasted peanuts into the almond bark. Use cookie dropper to drop onto wax paper. 

Sugar cookies – these are probably the best I’ve made. I was in a pinch for time and was looking for a recipe that didn’t require the dough to chill. 

Sugar cookie icing – I usually just make my own with a stick of butter, about 2 cups of powdered sugar, a 1/2 tsp of vanilla, and a splash of milk until the texture is right. Usually no more than a couple tablespoons of milk. 

Chocolate chip cookies – we use the standard toll house recipe at our house. 

Peanut butter fudge -this is a deliciously silky fudge and super easy. I’ve made it so many times and never had a failed batch. 

Here’s what is on my list in the near future:

I’m looking forward to having 4 extra hands next December…. although wrangling two year old twins in the kitchen might be more fun than I can take on. Dad has a whole year to build my kitchen helper stands

Happy Homesteading

Chocolate chip peanut butter cookies 

Well, happy New Year! It has only taken me 8 days to publish my first blog of 2018. And while many of you may have resolutions to eat healthier… I’m still stuck on the delicious cookies I made 2 weeks ago. So for those of you who are avoiding cookies, check out the recipe below for protein balls and save this blog post to your Pinterest recipe board and come back to the cookie recipe in a few months! Haha!

For those of you that aren’t in the Kansas City area, HyVee is a grocery store chain. We had some HyVee brand mini-chocolate chips. They were originally intended for no-bake oatmeal protein balls – but the cookies won. We had a Christmas party to go to and I was assigned to bring a sweet treat. I ended up following the recipe on the bag of mini-chips and OMG they were so delicious. And they just happen to be the most beautiful and uniform cookies I’ve ever made! They were worthy of a share.


Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1 c.  unsalted butter, softened

¾ c. granulated sugar

¾ c. packed light brown sugar

½ c. creamy peanut butter

2  large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 ¼ c. flour

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 (12 oz) pkg mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 c. honey roasted peanuts
Directions

Step1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step2

Cream butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar with a electric mixer.

Step3

Add peanut butter and mix well.

Step4

Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Step5

Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Gradually stir into sugar mixture.

Step6

Stir in chocolate chips and peanuts.

Step7

Drop by tablespoons onto greased baking sheet.

Step8

Bake for 11 to 12 minutes.

Step9

Let cookies stand on baking sheet 2 to 3 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.
Since I rarely follow a recipe, I thought I’d list the changes I made. I didn’t use the honey roasted peanuts, I didn’t grease our cookie sheets and I added a bit more flour than the recipe called for… I probably used 2 1/2 cups of flour.

Fearless Faith, Mission Motherhood, Uncategorized

JOY

WOW.  Putting aside time to write has felt near impossible these past few months.  Between the baby being a baby and the two-year-old being a two-year-old and the seven-year-old actually being very helpful and the dogs and the kitten and my husband also having interests, along with a job to support our not-so-tiny family…when is there time for me to sit at the computer and get my thoughts out?  If I don’t have time to clean the bathrooms, do the dishes, get caught up on laundry, vacuum, or any of the other “housewifey” things that I feel like should be simple tasks to complete– how can I justify spending 45 minutes in front of the computer?  I’d be the first to tell another busy mom (or dad, for that matter) that self-care is not selfish…but when taking my own advice, I obviously struggle.

IT’S A NEW YEAR, FRIENDS!!  Can you believe it!?  2018? 

Like most of everyone, I’d assume, I did some careful reflection over my 2017.  I had a friend suggest to write things that I wanted to thank God for…and, in the midst of a heavy year, I found so many things that were more than worthy of praise.  –In this activity, I had to quickly realize that acknowledging that I’m grateful for events while mourning the death of a loved one does not negate the pain I still feel.  To me, after a few deep breaths, it felt like an unnatural but necessary part of grieving that I likely wouldn’t have taken the time to do had this friend not literally handed me pencil and paper as she posed this question.  Following the question about thanksgiving, she asked: “What in your life needs to die for new growth to emerge?”  …These two questions churned hard in my heart.  For what do I need to give thanks and what do I need to bury to start fresh?  Christians likely think of Jesus’s suffering on the cross, being buried, and raised again to life so that we, too, can have everlasting life.  Atheists, agnostics, and individuals of other religions or beliefs might have an easier time thinking of a tree.  (This was the analogy that I immediately thought of, honestly.)  I’m not even sure if this analogy is true or backed by science, but I heard one time years ago that a tree lets go of its leaves not because they’re unneeded during the fall and winter months, but because their branches would be too heavy to support the weight of the leaves in addition to the ice or snow that often falls during the colder months.  In order for the tree to bear the weight of the snow, it must let go of the leaves grown in the previous season.  It’s because of this defense that the tree keeps its branches and is allowed to produce new leaves and new life each year.

“What in your life needs to die for new growth to emerge?”  

For me, the answer wasn’t one that I wanted to hear…but it was an immediate lump in my throat and I knew that I had to put pen to paper: ego, pride, self-reliance, and comparison.  Between Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and self-help sections and DIY projects, it is so easy to find myself buried in a pile of “oh-my-God-how-am-I-ever-supposed-to-get-all-of-this-done-in-15-minutes-and-the-veggies-are-burning-and-why-is-there-snot-all-over-your-face-son?”  And, instead of asking for help, I’ll look on Pinterest to find ways to make my one person become so efficient that I’m able to complete the tasks of several while still caring for my children and modeling for them the values that I want so badly so soften their hearts in a world that suggests toughening up.  Why do I look on Pinterest?  Why do I ask for recommendations on Facebook about organization and quick meals?  Why do I think I should do it all and why do I think I have to EARN a break by completing everything?  In teaching, I know that students perform better if they’re given frequent breaks.  Why would I think it would be any different as an adult?  I also tell my children regularly, “Do not yell at me.  Do not whine.  If you need help, all you need to do is use your words and ask.  I’d be happy to help.”  I was on the phone with my mom a little over a week ago, and she said, “Dani, why don’t you ask me to help you?  I’d be glad to come watch the kids for a while.  You just need to tell me when you need me.”  My mother in law, aunts, grandma, friends, neighbors, etc. have all said the same thing.  Why is it so hard to ask for help?  Ego.  Pride.  Self-reliance.  “I got it.”  “I can do it.”  Or the worst of all: COMPARISON.  “But I saw on Facebook– SHE has kids…THEY goes on vacations…HER house is clean…HER meals are perfect…THEIR bodies are flawless…SHE is a better mom/wife/Christian/daughter/friend/person than me…THEY ARE BETTER.”  I know I’m not the only one who does this.  Right?  Right.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

For the past several years, I’ve chosen a word to focus on through the upcoming year.   Each year I’ve experienced transformation.  The first year, my word was “INTENTION.”  Year two: “IDENTITY.”  Last year: “PEACE.”  This year: “JOY.”

In the previous years, I’ve mediated and prayed about my word because I wanted to pick the perfect word for the most drastic spiritual transformation.  This year, I didn’t do anything to receive my word.  –I have not been able to get away from my word for MONTHS.  It literally keeps showing up everywhere.  I know, you’re probably thinking, “Well, Christmas was just here…and ‘JOY to the World’ and JOY-this and JOY-that…”  But it’s been more than just the typical Christmastime sightings.  And it started prior to Christmastime festivities.  So my focal word for 2018 is JOY.  As a noun, it’s great…of course: “a feeling of happiness”–but as a verb…that’s truly where I’m going to place my focus: “rejoice.”  Can you imagine how much less stressed and resentful I would feel if I would stop comparing my dirty dishes to yours or hers or his or theirs…and instead took a minute to rejoice?  It sounds hokey.  But I’m going to try it, because it can’t hurt.  I’m going to rejoice in the dishes that show my family has eaten today…Rejoice in the laundry that shows my family has plenty of weather appropriate clothing…Rejoice in the aching shoulders and arms that show my children feel comforted in my care….Rejoice in the many friends and family who offer to help and say YES because self-care is not selfish.  Rejoice in the knowledge that I’m not so important that another person can’t watch my kids or load the dishwasher or fold the laundry…Rejoice in the recognition of some control issues and the ability to ask for help instead of drowning because I refuse to let go of the idea that I can complete everything on my own.  Rejoice in letting the dead leaves fall to the ground (ego, pride, self-reliance, comparison) in order for fresh leaves and new life to emerge (JOY).

 

 

 

joyDo you have a word for 2018?  If you haven’t yet chosen one, I encourage you to choose a word that resonates with your soul.  Choose a word that encourages growth and demands action, but is gentle enough to tuck away at night and allow you to sleep
peacefully.  If you have already chosen a word, I’d love for you to comment with your word.  No explanations.  Just the word.  I believe in support…I believe in the power of prayer…and I believe that the simplicity of a single word can be extraordinarily impactful.

Until I get the chance to write again, from my heart to yours, Happy New Year!

xox,
Dani

Mission Motherhood

I can wear a baby, but my shoes have to come off?

Navigating airport security is a bit of a cluster with little ones. Since Christmas will soon be here and many of you may be traveling I thought I’d share my perspective on flying with babies. My family recently took a week long trip to Orlando, Florida with our 11 month old twins. This was our first experience flying with them and I have learned a lot about how to make the process easier.

Things to keep in your carry on bags:

  • Change of clothes for mom and dad – if a baby has a blow out while they’re in your lap, you’ll need a change of clothes too. 
  • 2 extra outfits per baby
  • Extra pacifiers 
  • Snacks – we used the 3 compartment formula holders for a variety of snacks (gold fish, corn Chex and Cheerios) 
  • Empty baby bottles and extra bottles of water (Make sure you take them out of your bag and put them in a separate bin when going through security. Tell them you have water for babies and they will allow you to take it through after testing the outside of the bottle.)
  • Sippy cups if your babes are drinking water – it’s easy to get dehydrated while traveling. 
  • Books and small toys – preferably something they haven’t read or played with in a while. 
  • Changing pad for airport bathroom diaper changes. 
  • Gas drops. Our girl has a tendency to get gassy and squeals about it. So for the sake of the other passengers keep some on hand if your babes are prone to belly bubbles. 
  • Tylenol in case of unexpected teething pain. 

Tips and tricks for navigating the airport:

  • Have your travel partner or a family member drop you off curb side rather than parking in long term parking. My husband dropped us curbside and then took our car to long term parking and rode the shuttle to the terminal. It was easier for him to ride alone than it would be for us all to lug babies and luggage onto a shuttle bus. 
  • Take a stroller that will hold your infant carrier car seats (if you’re going to have to travel with car seats). We took the Baby Trend Snap n Go for easy airport transport and rented a double jogger stroller at our destination. 
  • Take wearable baby carriers. We used the Ergobaby carriers. As you near security strap those babies to your chest. Security will want the car seats and stroller to go through the x-ray machine so it’s easier to already have the babies out of the stroller when you get to that point. 
  • Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off because getting shoes on and off while baby wearing can be annoying. 
  • Put the babies back in their car seats/stroller while navigating to your gate. 
  • When you get to your gate, make bottles up and have them ready for takeoff because it’s is obnoxiously cramped on the plane to try to hold onto a baby and fix a bottle. We wanted our babies to have bottles for take of to aide with releasing pressure and easing ear popping. 
  • As soon as your flight starts boarding, get the babies back in their wearable carriers. Put your stroller and car seats into their “GATE CHECK” bags
  • Board as early as they let you. (We flew Southwest which we loved, but we didn’t check in ahead of time because we assumed we could board first with family boarding. With Southwest families board after zone A boards. If we checked in ahead of time we may have had the opportunity to load in group A.)
  • Sit accross from the aisle from one another or in front of/behind each other (depending on the size of airplane). We were on a 757 and they have 3 seas together on either side of the aisle. There are only 4 oxygen masks for the 3 chair groupings so they won’t let you have 2 lap children in the same row.
  • Keep your diaper bag with toys, snacks and bottles between your feet. 

Happy traveling, Mommas! Stay calm and go with the flow. Things can go awry even when you’re prepared. Although it still helps to be mentally prepared! 

Happy Homesteading

Winter classic: Ham ‘n Beans with Cornbread

I decided to pull the leftover Thanksgiving ham out of the freezer yesterday so I could make a winter classic at our house (yes we had ham for thanksgiving because very few in our family like turkey). I had the last little bit of a spiral cut ham that was perfect for a crockpot of ham n beans. 

And you can’t have ham n beans without the cornbread. I accidentally stumbled upon my favorite way to fix cornbread. I went to get the milk out of the fridge to mix up my Jiffy box of cornbread and the milk was expired so I found an alternative – sour cream. Let me tell you, sour cream does amazing things to corn bread. I’ve made some alterations since and here is what I’ve settled with. If you like a light fluffy, moist cornbread give this a try. If you like a denser cornbread this probably won’t be your favorite. 


Here’s the recipe

Sour cream cornbread

1 box of Jiffy cornbread mix

2 eggs

1/3 cup sour cream

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (you can substitute milk too)

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix all ingredients. Grease an 8x8in Pyrex or small casserole dish. Pour batter into greased Pyrex. Bake for 15-18 min. 

When it comes to ham n beans, I like thick hearty ham n beans. Watered down ham n beans will completely saturate my cornbread and I just can’t have that. My go to recipe is a no frills, easy crock pot recipe that I found in Pinterest. 

Check it out here!

If I have onion on hand, I dice up half of an onion and add it instead of onion powder. I also add some garlic powder. 

Mission Motherhood

Are they twins? 


Moms of multiples everywhere can totally relate.  Generally about everywhere we go we get some sort of comment or question  from about 5-10 different people. Here are some that I’ve heard recently and my silent sarcastic quips I’d like to throw at poeple:

  • Are they twins? Well, I bought a double stroller and thought I’d bring the baby I found in the parking lot because shopping with 2 infants seems like a lot more fun. 
  • Do they run in your family? No, do you generally ask new moms about their genetic history?
  • You have your hands full. Not as full as my heart. 
  • Better you than me. If you have the heart to say this, you don’t have the heart for twins. So it probably is better. 
  • Do you breast feed two at a time? I don’t ask you what you do with your boobs, don’t ask me what I do with mine.
  • How did you find out you were having twins? Modern medicine. 
  • What was your response? What would your response be?
  • Did you want twins? Uhh, I wanted children so I guess the answer is yes. 
  • How far along were you before you delivered? 35 weeks (ok – no sarcasm here)
  • Did you have them naturally? When you say naturally do you mean – did they come from my vagina vs surgical methods? Did I use drugs or essential oils? 
  • Are they both yours? Actually, this one is mine and that one is my husbands. It’s been rough on our marriage to raise his lovechild, but we’re trying to make it work. 
  • How close in age are they? Approximately 8 min. 
  • I don’t know how you do it. Some of us are capable of putting on big girl panties and getting shit done. 
  • You have two babies there. Uhhh, thank you?!
  • Oh, two boys? Yeah, I make one wear pink so I can tell them apart. 
  • General comments about their differences (this one has dark hair and that one has light hair, this one is bigger than that one). Thank you for describing the physical appearance of my children to me. 
  • I’ve always wanted twins. I would be an awesome twin mom! Yeah… maybe. 
  • Do they have different personalities? Do your children have different personalities? You don’t have children? Do you and your siblings have different personalities?
  • Do they nap at the same time? Only if God wills me to take care of the rest of our household. 
  • A boy and a girl… so one and done huh? As if this is the perfectly magical combination of children that everyone strives for so why would I ever dream of having another?

My most favorite from a recent trip to a local second hand store involved a few gray haired ladies wearing loud floral prints:
“Are they twins? Let me get a look. Oh they must be identical.”

Me: Actually they are boy and girl twins so there’s no way they’re identical.

“Oh, but they look just the same. They both have blue eyes.”

I have no hate for those who are fascinated by the idea of carrying, birthing, and caring for two babies… but golly, it amazes me how much people lose all social filters when they spot twins. I will always put on my happy face and respond kindly, but that doesn’t mean I won’t come up with more ridiculous and sarcastic responses that will never come out of my mouth (of which I get to share with you).

What weird questions have people asked you mommas?

Mom Must-Haves

Twin Essentials for the 1st year

When I found out we were having twins I was so overwhelmed with the amount of things that we would need.  If you are a soon to be twin mom and you’re looking for ideas for your registry, you’ve come to the right place. Here is my list of essential items:

  • 2 Cribs – we bought ours second hand and spent $300 which was a huge savings
  • 4 waterproof mattress covers
  • 6 sets of sheets – My grandma and aunt made cute sheets for me because I couldn’t find any gender neutral sheets that I liked in store.  Here is a “how to“.
  • 2 car seats (obviously) – We loved our Britax B-Safe 35 infant carriers which we are still using at 1 year old.
  • 2 days worth of bottles (approximately 16) – We loved the Avent classics, but don’t buy new nipples until you know your babes are ready for the next step. We bought size 3 nipples and we will be done with bottles before they ever use the size 3 nipples.
  • Bottle drying rack
  • Spectra S2 breast pump – this is hands down the best investment I made for our babies
  • Handsfree pumping bra
  • Bulb syringe – I tried the Nose Freida too, but I found the bulb syringes to work best for me
  • The First Years Lanolin Free Nipple Butter – This was in a gift basket I received and it was by far my favorite nipple cream. It was silky smooth making it easier to spread than thicker lanolin creams I had tried.
  • Insulated lunch bag for packing bottles
  • Back pack – a diaper bag just wasn’t cutting it after 3 months.
  • Portable changing pad for the back pack
  • Changing table – I didn’t think I’d need one but after the first week of changing endless diapers my back needed the relief of a changing table. We bought a used one off of Facebook Marketplace for $25.
  • 2 high chair/booster combos
  • 2 Summer Infant travel high chairs
  • 2 Chicco Lullago travel bassinets – we absolutely loved these and used them until our twins were 6 months old
  • 2 waterproof bassinet mattress covers
  • 4 bassinet sheets
  • 4 Swaddle Me swaddlers – worked great for the early months
  • 4 Halo Sleep sacks – loved using these after the babes started rolling
  • 6 plush bath towels – we were gifted the small hooded baby towels which worked great but knowing how quickly they outgrow them it may be easier to start with standard towels that are exceptionally soft
  • Diaper Genie and refills
  • 12 Terry cloth bibs and burp rags – these were great to use when they were itty bitty for bottle feeds.  They often dribbled from their mouth or spit up so it was nice to have an absorbent bib. Family members made mine but here is a “how to“.
  • 2 silicone bibs
  • 2 extra laundry baskets with wheels (because you don’t want to lift anything late in your pregnancy or soon after birth)
  • Postpartum belly support band
  • 10-12 outfits per child and 8-10 sets of pajamas in each size
  • Aquaphor
  • Triple Paste
  • Gas Drops
  • Calming Lavender Baby Lotion
  • Baby bath tub
  • Summer Infant Dual Video Monitor
  • Summer Infant Portable Playard– we love spending time outdoors so this was awesome to have. I could work in my flower beds and let the babes hang out and play. It was also great for our camping trips.
  • 1 push behind walker
  • 1 activity table
  • 1 exersaucer (we bought ours used for $35)
  • 2 play mats
  • 2 auto Rock n Play
  • 2 Pack n Play (we bought ours used for <$20 each)
  • 2 Boppy pillows
  • Double Baby Trend Snap N Go stroller
  • Double Baby Jogger City Mini GT
  • Double umbrella stroller (bought used for <$15)
  • Canvas storage baskets – we have 8 and use every one of them
  • Leather rocker recliners – we decided to forgo your typical rocker glider for the nursery because they share a nursery which means we didn’t rock the upset baby in the nursery while the other was sleeping in there. We just bought rocker recliners for our living room instead. Leather is essential for cleaning up spit up and spilled milk.
  • Amazon Subscribe and Save diaper and formula subscriptions
  • Photographer package – I would’ve saved so much money and avoided annoyances if I would’ve just signed a contract with a photographer who did newborn, 3 month, 6 month, 9 month and 12 month photos.
  • DSLR Digital Camera

 

Things we got that we didn’t need

  • Wipe warmer
  • Bumbos – we used them for such a short period I’m not sure they are worth it