Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The {Not Just} Homemaking Party

Thanks for stopping by The {Not Just} Homemaking Party! Hope you're finding some relaxation in your week so far!

We Found the 7th Minion in Our Cereal Box! #The7thMinion #ad #cbias

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #The7thMinion #CollectiveBias
One of my favorite childhood memories is the day after grocery shopping when my brother and I would wake up to new cereal and the possibility of a prize! My mom would sometimes let us each pick out a box of cereal and the prize inside was definitely a determining factor. This was back in the day when the toy was buried down in the cereal package and my mom wouldn't let us dig. Sometimes we'd have to wait three or more breakfasts before it surprise-landed into our cereal bowls.

Mom shopped every two weeks for our family of four. Now I shop every five days for our family of 11---and breakfast cereal is now a rare treat, rather than an every morning occurrence. Since it's not in my budget to buy nine boxes of cereal at a time, it's an extra special day if you're one of the two or three that I let choose a box on shopping day. Yesterday I surprised the kids with three boxes of General Mills cereal. We were on the hunt for a specific toy---the 7th Minion---to celebrate the new movie coming out.

The 7th Minion is only available in specially marked boxes at Walmart. Look for XL and Family Size boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms, Reese's Puffs, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and Golden Grahams. 

The 7th Minion is the "Prehistoric" one---here in the middle. We found two cavemen and the Prehistoric one. The kids were pretty excited. They like how the little guys can link arms and stand up together. Are you a fan of the Minions? Their new movie is coming out soon so make sure to start your collection now.

Avalon found the 7th Minion in the box of Lucky Charms---pretty lucky, huh? Cainan pointed out that they found the first caveman in our box of Honey Nut Cheerios and the second one in our box of Trix---which was a "trick" since we got two of the same one. Ha! Head to Walmart and look for your own 7th Minion. You might get lucky too!

Enjoying a Summer with Grandma #GiveHeartburnARest #ad #cbias

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone and should not be taken as medical advice. #GiveHeartburnARest #CollectiveBias

Grandma Brenda is coming to visit tomorrow and the Coller Kids are super excited! We've not seen Jamie's mom for about a year and a half so we're ready to go have some Arkansas summer fun and make some memories. Last time she visited was the middle of winter and Jamie wrecked the van the day after she came so we were stuck inside the whole time. We'll make up for it this time with a few great activities and lots of photos! 

One key to having a great time with family and friends is to make sure I'm feeling well. I've always experienced heartburn during pregnancy, but even now, after not having a baby for over two years, I still feel it flare up often. Feeling bad affects my overall mood and makes me a real grump for my family. Nexium 24HR is a heartburn medication that treats those who suffer from frequent heartburn. Taking one Nexium 24HR a day can give you all-day, all-night protection from frequent heartburn.

I found Nexium 24HR at Walgreens near the pharmacy. There's a special section for heartburn medications, but I found mine on sale on an end cap. See that one with the coupon? That's the one I grabbed. I got lucky---a sale and a coupon! Make sure to shop Walgreens for Nexium 24HR and save $3 off a 42ct. package during the month of June. 

Grandma Brenda has always been a fun grandma for the kids. She loves to be a part of whatever they're doing and enjoys being silly, too. I know we'll have a blast visiting the Pea Ridge battlefield, the splash pad in Bentonville, and enjoying the 4th of July festivities in Bella Vista. I'm sure the kids also have a couple fun things planned that I've not heard about yet.

Then there's the food to be enjoyed...ha! Southern cuisine is delicious but it can definitely make the heartburn kick in. Fried catfish, fried onions, fried hush puppies, fried okra, and gallons of sweet tea are sure to be an issue for someone prone to heartburn, but a course of treatment with Nexium 24HR can help relieve the pain. 

I'm excited for all this summer has in store for our family! How can Nexium 24HR help you have a better summer? Let me know in the comments below!

Friday, June 26, 2015

SCOTUS' Gay Marriage Ruling Just Did Christians a Huge Favor

Social media is buzzing today with the Supreme Court's ruling that gay marriage is now the law of the land. Pro-gays are cheering and anti-gays are angry and Christians are scouring Pinterest for end-of-the-world memes. My thoughts today have little to do with how I feel about homosexual marriage. In fact, even if you are one who is thrilled with today's ruling, there's no reason to take issue with anything this opponent of gay marriage has to say today. If you're as tolerant as most of you say you are then you'll likely be indifferent to my point of view. Just remember: if you don't like what I have to say, you need to suck it up and take your own medicine now...and be tolerant.

Any Bible-believing Christian (I'm talking about the real ones who actually take the Bible literally and accept it in it's entirety and don't take stuff out of context and build a doctrine around it and...) knows that anti-Biblical freedoms mean restrictions for those who live by the Word and we're understandably upset. But let me tell you why I'm not too upset. Besides the fact that we all pretty much knew this was coming, what some believers are missing is that the Supreme Court just did Christians a huge favor. 

SCOTUS turned on the light for us.

God has a way of turning bad stuff into good stuff and that's what's happened today. Every single hypocritical Conservative, pastor, church leader, Libertarian will now be exposed. No longer is gay marriage one of those things we can contemplate over coffee and finally agree to disagree about since there's really no right or wrong answer. People have a way of using law as an excuse. Have you ever heard anyone say, "Oh, I don't know. I mean, I hear what you're saying but I just don't think I should judge that 45 year old man for sleeping with that 10 year old girl." No? That's because, no matter what kind of "love relationship" they might have, the act is illegal. So it doesn't matter what we think about it---we always fall back on the law.

Now---well, hey! God's definition of marriage is no longer the way it goes in America! So good news, old man. America didn't just "redefine" marriage---we annihilated it. Anything is up for grabs now! If a man can marry a man, then a man can marry a dog, or his breakfast. Or a 45 year old man can marry a 10 year old girl---'cause it's all about tolerance.

On comes the light---and trust me, many of us will be using a spotlight. Every false leader, and false follower, for that matter, is about to be exposed.

This is not about love winning. Christian, do you love someone? Then tell them the truth about what God's word says regarding homosexuality. Tell them the truth about Jesus' love that is more than just fuzzy-feeling tolerance. It's a love deep enough that He allows us to sink so low that He's the only One who can pull us up. Be ready to share real love---the kind that is absolutely intolerant of sin. Because this happy new law is ushering in a wave of hurt like this country has never seen before. 

SCOTUS did us a favor today. They forced us out of the hiding place.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies

Good morning! Today the Coller Kids are headed out for our weekly library day! It's beautiful, sunny, and roasting hot! Hope you all are having a great week!

My mom is the most excellent cookie-baker I know. She has a knack for making soft, moist, chewy cookies that don't harden up after they're cooled. I've used several of her recipes but I still can't get it right! She has a delicious recipe for Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies for us today. 

Why I Use Oats In My Cookie Recipes

  Have you noticed I use oats quite often in my cookie recipes? It is all about the calories! 1 Cup of flour= 455 calories while 1 cup of rolled oats= 300 calories. Also, oats are better for us!
  Do you need a cookie recipe for all those zucchinis the neighbors bring you? Here is a good one!

Zucchini Oatmeal Cookies
mix:     1/2 cup oil
            3/4 cup sugar
            1 egg
            1 tsp vanilla extract
            2 cups oats
stir in: 1 1/2 cups flour
            1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
            1/2 tsp soda
            2 cups shredded zucchini

Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350º for 10 minutes.

Thanks for stopping by the Homemaking Party. I'm excited to see what you've got to share!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Establishing Healthy Habits at Home #LISTERINEMom #ad

I received LISTERINE® Brand products and a Walgreens gift card from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® Brand Totally Taken Care Of program. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

This year I've had the privilege to serve as an ambassador for LISTERINE®, bringing you all the news on products to promote oral health and good habits. Earlier in the year, I talked about the LISTERINE® 21-Day Challenge, and followed up last month with some info on LISTERINE® Total Care Mouthwash---the rinse that helps prevent cavities, restores enamel, strengthens teeth, provides total mouth cleansing, and more. As the mother and homemaker in my family, it's my job to make sure everyone is totally taken care of---a big responsibility that I take seriously.

In addition to teaching my kids good hygiene habits and providing them with quality products to do so, there are other aspects to this "totally taken care of" thing. Another way I make sure their needs are met is by stocking the kitchen with healthy and hearty foods to make regular, sit-down meals with. I make it a habit to serve fresh, raw fruit with every breakfast and fresh, raw vegetables with every lunch. Of course, I include fruits and veggies in the meals I cook, as well, but establishing this habit years ago ensures that, even if I serve popcorn for dinner now and then, I know they've had some nutrient-rich food that day, as well. Tonight I made Touch Down Taco Dip for Father's Day. This is a healthy family favorite and can be served with corn chips, celery sticks, or cucumber slices to use for dipping.

Another thing I can do to promote positive habits in my family is to make sure we get some sunshine and exercise. We're not really the type of family to go for a run or a bike ride---too many age differences to make that feasible right now---but we love adventures. One of our favorite places to hang out is the Pea Ridge Battlefield just minutes from our home. There are miles of hiking trails and tons of history to keep our imaginations going strong! We also like to take basketballs, footballs, and scooters to the park at a nearby lake. That way there's something for everyone to enjoy.

In the past, I've wanted to come up with great strategies, routines, and plans to achieve our family's goals. I'm learning that a few goals at a time helps build regular habits and that we really do just need to take things a day at a time and give one another grace as we learn. What are some things you've implemented to keep your family totally taken care of?

Make sure to shop Walgreens for LISTERINE® Total Care Mouthwash and other helpful hygiene products and check out the 21-Day Challenge to help establish good rinsing routines in your family.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

BBQ Elk Steak

 Intense stars lighted the way for a visit of an almost full moon. Wind in our faces, cobblestone streets and horse drawn carriages...

Good morning! Welcome to the Homemaking Party! Today my mom, Christy, is guest posting with a great recipe and some special memories.

Today I made bbq elk steak in my crock pot. The smell reminded me of my mother's kitchen. It is amazing how certain smells can bring back such wonderful memories.

Last week one of my little sisters found mom's favorite perfume on Etsy. She bought each of us 6 siblings a bottle of Avon's Moonwind in the original 1974 "Courting Carriage" glass bottles.                                     Even our brother got one! isn't that sweet?

BBQ Elk Steak
3 pounds elk steak (or beef steak)
18 ounces of your favorite bbq sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Cook on low in crock pot for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. Pull apart with two forks.

I am sure mom would be proud of my bbq elk steak served on a bun. It tastes delicious and smells even better!

Thanks for stopping by the Homemaking Party! Can't wait to see what you've got to share this week!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Caring for Our High Mileage 15-Passenger Van with Pennzoil #FuelTheLove #Ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FuelTheLove #CollectiveBias

When Jamie and I were in the early years of parenthood, we joked that if God kept growing our family, we'd end up with a "church van" someday. Well, that day came sooner than we thought it would and we found ourselves the proud owners of a 15 passenger van after baby #7 came along! We bought a 1999 Ford Econoline that had been used by a local boy scout troop since being purchased new. That was five years ago and it's been more than just good luck that's kept this van running as long as it has. While we don't deny it's been a blessing from God from the beginning, some good vehicle maintenance on our part, including regular oil changes, has gone a long way in keeping it going with as many miles as we've put on it.

Our van has been faithful to transport us all between Seattle and Eastern Oregon numerous times, as well as on our cross-country move out to Arkansas a couple years ago. It's still going strong and dependably making sure we get to ballet, church---even the kids' first formal dance---safely and on time.

One way we keep it running smoothly is by getting regular oil changes using High Mileage oil from Pennzoil. We like Pennzoil because it cleans out yucky sludge that other oils might leave behind and it's designed to allow you to drive an extra 550 miles per year on a cleaner engine. On top of that, Pennzoil also offers a free warranty, covering fifteen engine parts that may fail due to engine wear or which take on abnormal wear from  friction. (For more information, check out the Pennzoil Warranty Site.) 

It's really convenient for us to take our van in to the Walmart Automotive Care Center every few months because the crew there can change our oil while we shop. Jamie took it out last night to have it done after work and by the time he finished his other store errands, they were done.  

The High Mileage formula comes in these brownish/gold bottles and can also be found near the Automotive Center for those in-between service times when your oil is running low. It is great for vehicles over 75,000 miles. This formula specifically helps to reduce leaks and oil use in worn-out or higher mileage engines and is uniquely designed for late model vehicles with over 75,000 miles.

Now through September 9, Pennzoil oil changes at Walmart will be on Rollback. The High Mileage change like we got is $35.88, compared to the regular Walmart price of $39.88, and the Platinum Full Synthetic oil change is $45.88, compared to the regular Walmart price of $49.88. 

I don't think they make them much bigger than 15 passenger but we've still got four spots left. I'm not sure if we'll ever fill them up, but we'll do our best to keep treating the van well and make sure it runs for a long time more---just in case.

Easy Energy Boosts for the Busy Homemaker #V8EnergyBoost #ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #V8EnergyBoost #CollectiveBias

This past school year has been a busy one full of homeschool co-ops, field trips, and play dates. Now that it's summer, I'm changing the focus of that busy lifestyle to home---where it should be, really. I've really been feeling the pull to focus inward more on my own home and family, as there were a lot of things neglected the past few months due to all our running around! The house and garage need a thorough cleaning and decluttering, and I'm even planning to revamp our homeschool routine to make it fit better with the huge range in ages I've got now. All these things require energy, so I've had to restyle some of my own personal habits, as well. Here are some energy-boosting ideas that I know will really help me this summer. I'll start with the new V8 V-Fusion+Energy drink Jamie bought me from Walmart last night.

V8 V-Fusion+Energy drink gives me natural energy since it's made from Green Tea. It's a great alternative to soda or coffee as it brings a boost of feel good energy without the crash later on. It's nice to have a few in the fridge so I can grab one and go. Jamie likes to take these in his lunch, as well, since a day of staring at computer code can really wipe a guy out mentally!

Jamie found V8 V-Fusion+Energy at Walmart in the shelf-stable juice section. He brought home a six-pack of Black Cherry---his favorite flavor. They also make it in the following flavors: Pomegranate Blueberry, Peach Mango, Orange Pineapple, Tomato, Diet Strawberry Lemonade, and Diet Cranberry Raspberry.

In addition to the occasional V8 deliciousness, my big energy go-to is water. It's amazing how much water our bodies actually need daily and how different our basic functions are without it. Without adequate water intake, I feel irritable, exhausted, and depressed. My body aches and I even have trouble with my vision. Our bodies may require up to half our body weight in ounces of water on a daily basis, so lots of water, as well as water-rich fruits, vegetables, and soups will really help increase our energy levels.

I also find that activity levels and sleep go hand in hand to keep me functioning with alertness and vitality. Working from home means a lot of computer hours and, as much as I think I need to do that *one more thing* online, sometimes I just have to shut it and get out of the house. Jamie and I have started going for walks in the evenings and it's amazing how much better I sleep when I've been active with daily housework and daily walks. Better sleep means more pep for the next day---it's a great cycle to get in to.

One more motivation tool that has surprised me lately is the use of essential oils. A couple months ago, my friend made me this gorgeous diffuser locket so I could wear oils throughout the day. There's a piece of leather inside and every couple days I put a few drops of oil on it. I've been using a citrus blend that really takes the edge off when I'm struggling with stress and lack of ambition. After a couple weeks of wearing it, I'm so convinced that I decided to sign up to sell oils myself. There's a lot of info online about blends to enhance your moods and relieve anxiety. I bought a bottle of lavender, too, for the days when I want some calming relaxation---but for energy, it's citrus all the way!

I encourage you to give new V8+Energy a try. It's a nutritious choice for natural energy and, at only 50 calories per eight ounce serving, you can enjoy it often. 

V8 and Walmart are offering the chance to win $2,500 in Walmart gift cards in this awesome sweepstakes. Make sure to enter to win below and let me know which V8 flavor you're excited to try! V8 V-Fusion+Energy #V8EnergyBoost $2,500 Sweepstakes

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dark German Chocolate Cake

I apologize now for what I'm about to do. Some of you have been faithful readers for YEARS...and I hate to betray your good faith in me. BUT! This cake! Oh, this cake.

German Chocolate cake has always been one of my very favorites, but I rarely make it because Jamie is allergic to coconut. Last weekend, he took the boys camping. Well, what do the Coller girls do when the Coller boys go camping? Why, we have a tea party and eat cake!

Contrary to what pretty much all of us think, German Chocolate cake does not come from Germany. In fact, it was originally called German's Chocolate cake after the American Sam German who developed a special kind of dark chocolate for Baker's Chocolate Company. They named the chocolate after him---Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate. That was in 1852. Over 100 years later, a homemaker from Texas submitted a cake recipe, German's Chocolate Cake, to her local newspaper and sales of the chocolate were boosted by almost 75%. The cake became a national tradition and the rest is history!

Ready to try out my take on this American heritage recipe? Don't worry---you'll only need a small piece 'cause it's really rich! That's totally ok, though. Makes it last longer!

Step One: The Cake
3/4 cup butter 
1 1/4 cups dark cocoa powder
3 cups milk 
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 TB vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease three 8 or 9" cake pans. (Yes, I know the cake in my picture only has two layers. I made the third layer for Jamie with just the dark chocolate frosting)
Melt the butter and whisk in cocoa powder until well-combined. Whisk in the milk well, then add the sugars, eggs, and vanilla. When everything is smooth, set aside. *This mixture will seem really runny to you. Don't worry about it...it's going to be great. Trust me.
Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and add to the wet mix, stirring until just combined. Divide into the three pans and bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out barely moistened. Cool before loosening and removing from pans, then cool completely on a wire rack.

Step Two: The German Chocolate filling
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter 
1 TB vanilla
3 cups Sweetened Flaked Coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans 

Toast the pecans in a pan on the stove. Then whisk the sugar, milk, yolks, and butter together over med-high heat, and continue to whisk until the mixture is bubbling. Add the vanilla, pecans, and coconut. Allow the mixture to cool down quite a bit before filling the cake. 

Step Three: The Dark Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup butter 
2/3 cup dark cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla 

Melt butter and mix in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, beating to desired consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. This mixture is very much like ganache---but more frosting-y. Very awesome and very rich.

Thanks for linking up to the Homemaking Party!

Fighting the Homemaker's Lazy Monster with Proverbs 24

In the past, I've shared my struggle with that goody-goody Proverbs 31 woman. It's a love/hate relationship, I think.

In all seriousness, there's a lot of wisdom to be found in emulating her diligence and attitude toward her husband and family, and I really do desire to model my life according to the characteristics of this godly woman. Although I was on a great path there for a while, the past few years' circumstances have made this more difficult and I've become discouraged. My prayer, lately, has been that God would help me get back into a good routine of homekeeping, as well as studying his word.

This morning, my toddler alarm clock went off at 5 am. Usually, that's the beginning of two hours of "please lay down", "please be quiet", and sending several other little ones back to bed. However, this morning I felt immediately awakened and refreshed, so I tucked her in snug with Daddy and got up to get dressed. 

Wait, what?

Yeah, I know. I was shocked too. I'm the girl who prides herself in only doing TWO loads of laundry every day since my little ones and I spend almost every day in our pajamas. I even brushed my hair. Definitely turning over a new leaf.

Anyway--long story short--with breakfast in the oven, I settled down with my Bible to see what God had for me this morning. It was one of those "open it up and see what's inside" moments where I didn't really know what to read---just knew that I needed some encouragement. The kids and I have been studying the early prophets and kings so I meant to read some more about Solomon, but I ended up in Proverbs. (Well, I guess that's Solomon, too, but you know...)

"I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; it's surface was covered with nettles; it's stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man." Proverbs 24: 30-34

This section has a big square drawn round it, though I don't remember when I marked it. It speaks to me on two levels, but let me tell you first what it's not saying. It's not knocking the need for rest. When you look at the Bible as a whole, you find that it's clear we need rest. God even set aside a whole day for it, though few of us actually take the opportunity. What this passage is talking about is slothfulness---laziness. 

For a man, laziness brings financial poverty and his family goes without the necessities that bring health, happiness, prosperity, and peace to his household. 

For a woman, laziness brings about another kind of poverty that is hard to define in a short and sweet sort of way, but it's something my family has experienced---a place we don't want to go back to. It's more than just having a perpetually messy home or serving my kids ketchup as a vegetable. It's the mindset that tells me it's ok to live like that---the soul that makes excuses and refuses to discipline itself to a higher standard.

In addition to physical slothfulness, this section of Scripture is also addressing spiritual slothfulness---something I'm also too familiar with. God has been extra gracious with me lately, as my desire really has been to be closer and to have my priorities right, even though I've not done such a great job at it the past few years. Anyone who has been pursuing God for awhile knows that he's not the one allowing those thorns and nettles to grow---he'd just as soon burn them all off, but it's me that's got to light the match. (Cue the 90s camp songs: "It only takes a spark...to get a fire go-oh-ing")

So how do we battle this? This is where you all come in. I really want to know how you fight off the lazy monster in your life. For me, it's the Proverbs. I guarantee---if you need someone to give you a swift kick, there's something for every situation in the book of Proverbs. Another thing that helps me is finding encouraging friends. To be real, I don't have a lot of time to leave my home and physically spend time with friends. At this time in my life, I just don't. When I do, I try to choose wisely and make sure my family isn't being inconvenienced. The friends I have understand this and we find ways to be friends anyway---mostly by chatting online while I'm waiting on kids to finish their math or while working on an article and looking for a distraction. Several of my friends have "swift kick" blogs that encourage me to a higher standard. One is my friend, Mrs. White, at The Legacy of Home, another is JES at Strangers & Pilgrims On Earth.

I'd love to hear how you find encouragement to be diligent in your homemaking. Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Prepping For Summer Camping with Mabel's Labels #ICCAMPMABEL #IC #AD

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Mabel’s Labels. I received a voucher to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
Summertime means lots of adventures for the Coller kids and this past weekend was the best one yet for our boys. They attended their first Trail Life campout and had a great time. They came home hot, exhausted, and covered in ticks, (yuck!) but it was all worth it for the fun experience of being in the woods with their dad and their friends. Last week, Cainan got this cool pack of personalized waterproof labels from Mabel's Labels---perfect for marking his belongings to make sure everything gets home safely. 

Cainan picked out the sailboat pattern from the Limited Edition Camp Label Pack collection. His label pack included 10 sticky labels, 24 mini name stickers, 8 shoe labels, 50 tag mates, and 2 metal bag tags with chains to attach them to bags or zippers. The bag tags are Cainan's favorite and he also got a little set of postcards to mail home a "hello" from summer camp.

These small labels are great for clothing and personal items. Mabel's Labels had several themes and colors to choose from for boys and girls. I especially like that they're 100% guaranteed, as well as, dishwasher, microwave, and laundry safe.

There were more than enough labels in the pack to personalize all his camping items and even some of his own stuff here at home. That's really important when you're one of nine kids!

Want to try Mabel's Labels for yourself? Just visit the widget below to enter to win discounts or free items. Also, now through June 22, you can sign up for the newsletter and complete one social share to receive a coupon code. Visit MabelsLabels.com to see what discount you received.

Join the Mabelhood community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. You can also visit their website to sign up to receive newsletters, a great resource for all things mom-related.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Old-Fashioned Picnicking In Your Own Front Yard

If you've been reading me very long, you know I'm all about old-fashioned values and vintage-style living with all the modern conveniences. Too many times, I find myself longing for the "good old days", and completely missing the fact that the days I'm living, right here, right now are the good old days---my good old days. I tend to wait to execute a great idea until I have every single detail in place. Ever heard the phrase, Perfectionism Leads to Procrastination? Yeah. That's totally me. I'm really working on turning over a new leaf, though. Like I tell my husband when he wants the newest 10 billion dollar gadget that will make his life complete: start small and work up to it. So, with that in mind, let's get to the topic, shall we?

I love the idea of an Edwardian-style summer picnic. I imagine my children all dressed in filmy white dresses with gigantic hair bows or cute sailor outfits with their hair parted just right. I'd finally have found a sunhat big enough for my head of thick hair and my husband would straighten his bow tie and twirl his mustache with one hand while swatting away the flies with a newspaper in the other. We'd feast on an assortment of pickled and jarred things before strolling near the lake---our children remaining immaculately clean and gloriously happy the entire time. Can this idyllic scene be real? Probably not without a butler, a couple maids, and a nanny thrown in. That doesn't mean I can't have my own modern version, though. It's not important that I capture that exact scene. What's important is that I capture the emotions that scene evokes.

“Station Wagon Picnic,” by Mauro Scali,  from American Weekly Magazine cover - June 24, 1956. 
(See, they ate dinner in the car in the "good old days", too!)

Too often, I find that my plans for making a special time for my family sound great in my head, but the execution of them is rushed and unplanned. Again, start small and work up to it.

Set the Scene
A great front (or back) yard picnic starts with setting the scene. We used to have a lovely wooden picnic table, but it belonged to the owners of a house we once lived in so we had to leave it behind. I suppose I could run out and buy a couple---but I think I'll look around and see what I have already. Last summer, a neighbor gave us an old glass-top table and another neighbor gave us a plastic kids-size table. These will do fine for now. If you don't have an outside table, consider moving your dining room table to the lawn, setting up a board on sawhorses, or opening the trunk of your car to serve as a picnic buffet table. Once I cover the tables with a sheet or tablecloth, they'll look festive enough.

While our large family pretty much requires an actual buffet table, maybe you want to skip the table all together and just use a blanket and a basket. Don't have a pretty red and white checkered blanket with a perfectly-woven picnic basket to use? Never fear! A flat bed sheet works just fine for a picnic blanket and you can line a plastic tote or cardboard box with a pretty pillowcase or two to carry your food out in.

The Essential Stuff
Next you'll want to think about what you'll need to serve the food on. Paper plates and plastic utensils are usually considered picnic essentials but they're more hassle than they're worth, in my opinion. They're flimsy, for one thing, causing younger kids to spill them and older ones to have a hard time balancing them on their laps. In addition to that, the expense of disposable plates could be used on something more fun---like bendy straws! In the "old days" people *gasp* took their kitchen dishes with them on picnics and brought them home to be washed up that evening. (Melmac, anyone?) Consider using the dishes and utensils from your own kitchen at your front yard picnic. It will save you money and will be more comfortable for everyone. I guarantee you the Edwardians would have loved having the option of sippy cups and capped water bottles at their outside meal times.

What's For Dinner?
Finally, you'll need to figure out your menu. I recommend choosing things that you can assemble, little by little, the day before so you don't find yourself throwing it together at the last minute. We love to grill steak, chicken, or burgers and serve bowls of side dishes at our picnic buffet. If you want to go easier, consider a sandwich filling like chicken or egg salad, rather than the same ol' lunchmeat or peanut butter that your kids might eat every day. Here are 10 Delicious Picnic Sides & Salads to give you some inspiration---all of which can be made the day before and stored in the fridge until time for your picnic. Make sure to end with a lovely old-fashioned picnic dessert like a cake or strawberry torte.

Simple Entertainment
In these days of Pinterest-envy, we tend to think our events have to be flashy, extravagant, and expensive. Our family has always appreciated good, old-fashioned, free fun! Here are some ideas for games you can play to get your family laughing and enjoying one another at your old-fashioned front yard picnic:

I'd love to hear about your ideas for old-fashioned summer fun! Let me know in the comments below.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...