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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and Welcome to the Homemaking Party! It's been a year full of family, food, and fun! Here are some of our highlights. Make sure to link up at the end. I want to see what you've been up to, too!

We started off the year with a Kindness Party hosted by Avalon. This was our first introduction to Frozen, having never seen the movie. Ahhhh...those were the days!

Later in the spring, I hosted my first Spring Spoolie Swap! Lots of creativity there---maybe we should do it again!

This summer, I hosted a Mad Hatter Tea with a beautiful cake decorated by my husband. I want to do that again too!

In August, I introduced my literature blog, Belle's Library.

Then, in the fall, we made a trip to the one-room schoolhouse.

Now winter is on us and the new year has come and we're looking forward to lots of fun and blessings in 2015! What might your new year have in store?


Monday, December 29, 2014

Moms Need Lunch Too! #LoveLunchIn #Ad #cbias

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LoveLunchIn #CollectiveBias
I know I've got a lot of readers who are stay at home moms. Do you all find yourself, like me, absolutely starving come lunch time? In my case, it's usually because I've skipped my breakfast in favor of diapers, dishes, and sometimes, drama. By the time I have a minute to eat something, it's almost lunch---so I wait. Then I end up throwing together pb&j and finding a quiet place to wolf it down---while the kids are occupied with theirs and not asking me questions. 

As a homeschooling mom, there's not much down time around here during our school days. With our large family, nothing goes quickly, and I've got to take whatever open opportunities are available to get our goals done each day. I try to fill the few minutes between bottles, diapers, potty breaks, and never-ending questions with reading, discussion, lessons, and creativity. This doesn't leave me a whole lot of time for creativity in the kitchen---not at lunch time, anyway.

Recently it occurred to me that I've served my time with pb&j. If I have to resort to hiding in the closet to get a few bites of lunch, I'm going to make sure they're delicious and hearty bites! I need more than a sometimes-sandwich to get me through the afternoon.

Yesterday I sent Jamie and Cainan to Walmart for me after church and they found several varieties of Campbell's Slow Kettle Soup. I'd never seen this before and was really excited to try the two flavors Cainan chose for me: Tomato & Sweet Basil Bisque and Baked Potato Soup with Applewood Smoked Bacon.

I love that it just takes minutes to warm this up on the stove. There's no need to add any milk or water---just let it simmer in a pan until it's warmed through and then pour into a bowl (or even right back into the container) and enjoy. There are also microwave directions on the container if you'd prefer to warm it that way. It felt so good to have something warm and yummy to enjoy for lunch. Sometimes when things get chaotic---even good chaotic---I wish my mom was here to make me something homemade and pamper me a bit. With the Slow Kettle soups, I can give myself a bit of extra love---and, in the long run, that's good for everyone!

It's true that they'll always find me, no matter where I try to hide, but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. It's amazing how much better I can enjoy the rest of our day when I've had something nourishing to eat.

Are you a busy mom at home, as well? I'd love to hear how you fit filling meals into your day!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kids Gift Ideas on Sale at Family Christian & a Giveaway #FCBlogger

This is a sponsored post for Family Christian. All opinions are honest and are my own.
I've been shopping Family Christian a lot this year, stocking up on fun Christmas gifts for Jamie and the kids. I'm really excited to give them quality gifts that will encourage all of us to live more Biblically-minded. Read on to find out about a great sale, a giveaway, and two of my favorite gifts for kids!

Now through December 24th, Beauty and the Beet is on sale at Family Christian for only $9.99! This, the newest Veggie Tales winter show, is a fun play on a favorite classic and a great story about unconditional love. 

About the movie: In Beauty and the Beet, Mirabelle and her traveling family band, the Veggie Tones, are determined to make their next gig at Vegetable Square Garden. On their journey, a fierce winter snowstorm hits, and the family gets stuck at a run-down resort! Mr. Beet, the grumpy manager makes them sing - and clean - for their supper. Why is Mr Beet such a beast? And can Mirabelle’s kindness change him? Find out in this hilarious and heartwarming VeggieTales story of unconditional love.

I was a teenager when Veggie Tales first came out and I've loved them ever since. From the silly songs to the Bible stories done right, (read: no religious overkill) it's hard not to giggle whenever they're on. I'm super excited to share this newest DVD with my kids this Christmas. 

The second gift I'm excited about gifting is this book from the son of the original Berenstain Bears creators. Mike Berenstain brings us the first Christian-themed Berenstain Bears book that I've ever seen, God Loves You! Now, I'll just be honest with you all. I don't usually let my kids spend a whole lot of time watching the Berenstains. The old books and cartoons sometimes featured themes we're not into---like Halloween or cruddy attitudes---and there always seemed to be this undercurrent of feminism going on that bugged me.

I'm really over-the-top excited to see a Christian-themed one come out from this brand. The back of the book says, Living Lights Berenstain Bear books help children learn how God wants them to live every day. I'm all for that! The whole salvation message is clearly given in a way that makes it easy for young kids to relate to and understand. I can't wait to get the rest in the series---this is definitely something I want to support!

I'm giving away a $25 gift certificate to Family Christian. You can use this either online or in store. Check out the Rafflecopter widget below and be sure to share the giveaway with your friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pink Saturday: Finding Peace In the Busy Times {and PINK Christmas!}

Happy Pink Saturday!

It's been months since I've participated in Beverly's Pink Saturday and I'm missing all my Pink Ladies! As I announced earlier this year, my Mom, Christy, has come on board as a Creative Contributor here at Hope In Every Season, and today she makes her debut as official co-authoress! She's offering us some words of wisdom about finding peace. Thanks, Mom!


Peacefully Pushing Sixty
Are you peaceful? You have heard people say, other people can not make you happy. Only you can make yourself happy. The older I get the more I realize how true this is.

You can have a perfect husband, perfect kids, perfect home, perfect income, etc. and still spend your time wishing instead of enjoying.

Let's compare it to making a grocery list two weeks before payday. Every time you think of something you want in your kitchen, you write it on the list. By the time payday arrives, your list is so long that it would cost way more than your budget allows, not to mention you would not have the room to stock everything. On top of that, it would all spoil before you could use it. This worthless list leaves you wanting and anxious. If you wait until a couple of days before shopping time and make a list of what you need or would like, within reason, you can give yourself the freedom to be satisfied. Don't spend all month wishing and wanting. Enjoy and use the things you have. 

Another saying that is popular with some is, slow down and smell the roses. Try it! It is ok to stop and read a book, work a jigsaw puzzle, or listen to the wind blow. Rest your soul and shorten your want list for a happier, more peaceful life!



I've been slowly decorating our house for Christmas. I'm finding that my collection of PINK Christmas ornaments is quite larger than I'd originally thought! Pink and silver may be taking the place of red and green as traditional Christmas colors very soon! Fine with me, though. Who can get enough pink?

Does anyone know anything about these bristly sparkly things? I found a whole box of them, along with some clear plastic stars and things, at a yard sale a couple years ago. The box looks 50s-ish. 


 These are the two pink Christmas trees I made this year.




Make sure you stop by Beverly's Pink Saturday to see what everyone's up to this week! Also, make sure to link up with the Homemaking Party and enter to win a $25 gift certificate to Family Christian Bookstore!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Oriental Pork Loin Roast for an Elegant Asian-Inspired Holiday Dinner #TaiPeiGoodFortune #ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TaiPeiGoodFortune #CollectiveBias
Our family loves to try out foods from other cultures so I'm always looking for ways to make our meals more authentic. One of our favorites is this Asian-inspired Oriental Pork Loin Roast with seasoned rice. Tonight I served Tai Pei Egg Rolls and Spring Rolls with it and they were totally a hit!

New foods can be hit and miss with our family, but since there's so many of us, there's always someone to finish up what the others won't eat. Tonight everyone loved the egg and spring rolls and our four year old, Liam, even declared we should add these to the Thanksgiving menu. Not sure where that came from, but hey--why not?

I think of these Tai Pei rolls like a little black dress. They can be dressed up or down---depending on the event. Combining authentic Asian-style flavors and a fun takeout-style experience, they're easy to prepare and serve as a side dish to a fancy meal or as a munchie dinner while you're watching a favorite movie. 

Avalon and I found these at Walmart in the freezer aisle marked "Convenience Foods". They come in several varieties, including Pork, Chicken, Shrimp, and Vegetable. We bought the Mini Vegetable Spring Rolls and the full size Vegetable Egg Rolls.

I was impressed with the large size and quantity of pieces in each box. One box of each was more than enough for our family of 11. Some of the little kids split theirs in half to share so there was plenty to go around. We all loved the taste of the crispy wrappers, especially on the egg rolls. The vegetables were flavorful and each roll was packed full of filling. No skimping with these!

Each box included several packets of this sweet and sour dipping sauce. I set the sauce packets on top of my stove in a pot of water to thaw while the rolls were cooking. When the rolls came out, I let them cool on the counter a bit while I opened the packets and warmed up the sauce in a sauce pan.

I served the egg and spring rolls with my favorite Oriental Pork Loin Roast and some seasoned rice. This is a simple but elegant idea for a holiday dinner party. The sauce can be spooned over the top of the rolls on the plate for a more formal presentation.

I've been making this Oriental Pork Loin Roast for several years and it's always been a family favorite. I hope you'll enjoy my recipe. Let me know if you try it out and how you like it paired with the egg and spring rolls.

Oriental Pork Loin Roast

2 lb. tender pork loin or shoulder roast
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. honey
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt

Mix soy sauce, honey, garlic, and salt together and marinate pork 24 hours, turning every 6-8 hours. Remove pork from marinade and bake at 400º for 30 minutes.  Turn heat down to 300º and bake until internal temperature reaches 170º. Let pork sit on top of stove or counter about 15 min.  This will help the juices to settle so the meat stays more moist.

Visit Tai Pei online:
Tai Pei Website
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hope Crossing by Cindy Woodsmall Book Review and a $25 Giveaway to Family Christian! #FCBlogger

This is a sponsored post for Family Christian. All opinions are honest and are my own.
Welcome to the Homemaking Party! I'm excited to share with you one of my favorite authors, as well as a giveaway for a $25 Gift Certificate to Family Christian!

I remember how I felt the first time I finished a Cindy Woodsmall book. It was relief mixed with delight. It can be so hard to find a Christian fiction book that presents a real story with real emotions and characters who act like I really would, were I in their shoes. Woodsmall is that kind of writer and I've enjoyed everything I've read from her.

Hope Crossing is a compilation of her three full-length Ada's House novels. Here is some info on each story from Family Christian:

The Hope of Refuge
Two very different women are pulled by their strongest desires. Deborah Mast joined the Amish church and longs to marry her fiancé, but he is changing. Cara Moore is forced to look into a life that was meant to be hers. Will Ada’s House help them realize their hearts’ desires or will it force them to accept what life has done to each of them? 

The Bridge of Peace
Living out her passion for teaching, Lena Kauffman’s work is suddenly interrupted by a series of pranks and accidents targeted toward her and her students. When tragedy strikes her dear friend Grey Graber’s family on school property, the school board begins to blame her for the trouble. As grief and confusion take their toll on Grey and Lena’s friendship, they are both forced to face a new reality that may offer the peace and love they each long for.

The Harvest of Grace
Fleeing a terrible mistake, Sylvia Fisher dedicates herself to saving the failing Blank farm. When prodigal son Aaron returns, he is surprised by this unusual farmhand who opposes all his plans. Will Aaron and Sylvia’s unflinching efforts toward opposite futures mask the bigger picture—a path to forgiveness, grace, and the promise of love?

This three-in-one collection includes the entirety of the best-selling Ada’s House trilogy, now at a new low price!


Family Christian graciously offered me this book to review and is now offering YOU a gift too! Enter to win a $25 gift card on the Rafflecopter widget below and make sure to visit Family Christian on Facebook to keep up with all they've got going on!



Thanks for stopping by the Homemaking Party! Linking with:

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cranberry Pecan OREO Cookie Balls #OREOCookieBalls #ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias #OREOCookieBalls
 Have you ever made OREO Cookie Balls? Oh. My. Goodness!! Today was my first time and let me tell you---totally delicious! The fun thing about making these special treats is that you can use one basic recipe and mix in whatever you'd like to make them unique to you. I added cranberries and pecans to mine for an elegant New Year's Eve dessert.

Just like we ladies like to dress up for hostessing, these cookie balls have been dressed up for the last party of the year. Displayed on a delicate glass plate, they can be the star of the show!

I started my recipe with a package of original chocolate OREOs from Walmart. Check out all those flavor varieties! You can be as creative as you'd like. My recipe mix-ins would be delicious with the Golden OREOS, as well.

Next I chopped up my OREOS until they became little crumbs. My kitchen was smelling like dark chocolate goodness about this point.

Then I mixed in a block of cream cheese, some chopped pecans, and a big handful of dried cranberries. I formed the mixture into balls and let it freeze a bit.

The final step was to dip each ball in melted chocolate and sprinkle with a bit of chopped nuts. After they refrigerated about an hour, everyone tried one and declared them divine! The kids insist we add this recipe to our traditional holiday baking list.

OREO Cookie Balls are a fun and flavorful New Year's Eve party host gift. They're easy to make and look pretty wrapped up in a colorful box with shiny foil. 

 In our family, New Year's Eve is usually our last night with our Christmas tree. Why not make up a special batch to munch on while you're taking down ornaments? They'll definitely help with the transition between saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming in the new!

What will you add to make the OREO Cookie Ball recipe uniquely yours? Search the hashtag #OREOCookieBalls for lots of creative mix-in ideas!


Official Oreo Cookie Ball Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg (8 oz.) brick cream cheese, softened
  • 36 OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 3 cups)
  • 4 pkg. (4 oz. each) semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

Optional ingredients: 

  • 1 c. chopped pecans
  • 3/4 c. dried cranberries
  • chopped nuts for sprinkling on top

Make it!

  • MIX cream cheese and cookie crumbs until blended.
  • SHAPE into 48 (1-inch) balls. Freeze 10 min. Dip balls in melted chocolate; place in single layer in shallow waxed paper-lined pan.
  • CUSTOMIZE it with your own ingredient additions or decorative skills.
  • REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm.
  • Share and enjoy!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Kids' Bibles on Sale at Family Christian thru 12/24 #FCBlogger

This is a sponsored post for Family Christian. All opinions are honest and are my own.
How are you doing on your Christmas shopping? I think I'm about 2/3 of the way done! I'm really trying to pick up thoughtful gifts for my family this year. I want to really bless them with things that are special. A children's Bible is a great idea for a young child and is something they'll always treasure. 

Each of our five oldest children has started out with a kids' version of the Bible, and then moved on to a "grown up" Bible once they were old enough to understand it. 

They really treasure their Bibles and like to make notes in them and show me the exciting stuff God reveals to them as they're reading.

This year is five-year-old Avalon's turn for a kids' Bible and I'm planning on ordering her this Little Girls Bible Storybook from Family Christian.  Now through Christmas Eve, select kids' Bibles and devotionals are 50% off. Be sure to check online or in store for the perfect one for the kid on your list. 

Are you planning on gifting a Bible or devotional for a loved one this year? Tell me all about it!

Fighting Off Adult Acne #Sponsored #ClearasilMom #MC

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Clearasil. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
Note: I fully expect this picture to end up on Awkward Family Photos very soon. It will probably be my brother who does it. I'd just like everyone to appreciate my B.U.M. Equipment t-shirt here.

When I was a teenager, my biggest struggle was with acne. I didn't consider myself particularly chubby, and I liked my hair (hey, it was the early 90s) and clothes on most days, but the acne was something I just could not get rid of, no matter how hard I tried. I couldn't wait for the magical age of 19---that's the age my mom said it would all go away and I'd have beautiful smooth skin like hers.

Well, 19 has long come and gone, and I'm still struggling with acne. Now I understand that, for me, the severity of my skin issues is related to how much junk food I eat and how little water I drink. Since I've had a hard time giving up my teenage junky eating habits, adult acne pops up (sorry...) often and is still as frustrating as ever.

As my daughter entered her preteen years, I was worried she'd struggle the same as I did. Not only is acne a huge drain on the self-confidence, it's also very painful, at times, and always annoying. Because she eats way better than I do, she's not had to deal with severe acne like I did. I know this isn't the only factor for everyone, but for us, our diets make a huge difference.

I was recently sent some Clearasil to try out on my face. I received both the Hydra- Blast Oil-Free Face Wash and the Ultra Rapid Action Daily Gel Wash. I remember using this now and then in high school, but it had been about 20 years since I'd last used a face wash formulated for acne. I've always loved that cool, tingly feeling of washing my face with it. It's very soothing to painful acne breakouts.

Both washes are dermatologist tested. The Hydra-Blast Oil-Free Face Wash can reduce breakouts by up to 85% in just a month. This face wash is designed to provide the skin with needed moisture, while aiding in giving you clearer skin every day. For many, it's gentle enough to use daily without drying or tightening.

The Ultra Rapid Action Daily Gel Wash gives many users clearer skin in as few as 12 hours. This maximum strength formula opens blocked pores to give you healthy looking skin. It is for acne prone skin that is experiencing a breakout. Unless your acne is really bad, you probably want to save this for the really rough days and not use it daily so it doesn't dry out your skin too drastically.

Both formulas are great for those who are prone to oily skin and perhaps even those whose skin type is average. For me, my skin tends to be on the dryer side, so both the face washes were too strong for me to use on a daily basis without feeling tight and dry. However, it definitely did help with both breakouts and redness---and really, redness is my biggest struggle.

Let me know what tips you have for keeping skin issues at bay and visit Clearasil on Facebook and Twitter for more info on their products.
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