Unplanned Utopia

We are having so many adventures this summer & really having a blast with each other. Secretly, I was so apprehensive of this summer because I decided not to master plan it this time. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I am a p.l.a.n.n.e.r. In the past I have either had summer classes, part time or full time jobs, and 4 kids to keep busy. I HAD to plan it all out well. Every detail. Every meal & every activity. Since we recently unleashed our business to other avenues, I get to spend this summer focused on my family. It really is a wonderful thing but a mental adjustment for me nonetheless. This summer, I didn’t know what to expect, it was going to be a new season for all of us. I really didn’t know how to plan it this time. I decided we would just roll with whatever we decided to do. IT.HAS.BEEN.A BLAST!

Since half the kids got out almost 2 weeks before the others, we started off the summer with a countdown of activities, canvas painting, terrarium building, summer movies, played in the rain, just little things so we could save the real fun for when we were all together. Also everyone was still accustomed to getting up early and going to bed at a semi decent hour. This has since drastically changed and we are staying up late/sleeping in all morning- hey, its summer, right?!

 

 

Randy & I celebrated our 11 year anniversary June 21st. Oh, how I adore this man! He is still my best friend and love living life with him every day. Usually I  plan some sort of trip for our anniversary but he had work travel the next day so we needed to do something local. Hmmmm, it had to be fantastic….with the help of my sister, We got to take a private flight over the city of Dallas! And a 3 course dinner after. It was such an adventure!!

We have also had 4th of July family visits, summer camps, golf outings/tournaments, summer trips. unexpected kittens, hero moments, kayaking, camping, and more. Sometimes the unplanned life really is a sort of utopia.

Bountiful Baskets- Eating Well for Less

So many things going on in my life right now but one great blessing that I want to share about is Bountiful Baskets!! I probably shouldn’t have waited to blog about this one- I haven’t been keeping it a secret on purpose I just haven’t taken the time to blog in awhile.  Because I am short on time and word is REALLY getting out I thought this may help get the info out to everyone interested (plus I want to brag about how GREAT IT REALLY IS!!!) It’a just $15  for a Conventional Basket and $25 for a 100% certified Organic Basket. There’s no commitment, no contract and no long term investment. 

The pictures below are some of my own pick-ups from bountiful baskets. The quality is amazing &  it has saved our family of 6 a great deal of $$ in the grocery budget. 

21 plums, 21 peaches, 9 mangos, 3 organic cantelope, 5 6oz. containers blueberries, 5 pints heirloom snacking tomatoes, 15 bananas, 3 heads romaine lettuce, 3 bunches celery, 9 yellow onions, 21 sweet potatoes, 3 1lb bags( approx) green beans, 3 dozen fresh corn tortillas, 3 dozen flour tortillas= $56.50
!!
3 pints strawberries, 3 heads romaine lettuce, 3 pineapples, 6 honeydews, 6 yellow squash, 9 cucumbers, 6 kiwi, 36 roma tomatoes, 12 bell peppers, 36 bananas, 3 bunches green onions= $45.00



Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op distributes produce baskets, organic produce baskets, artisan bread and sandwich bread every other week. Its a group of people who work together for mutual benefit. This is a grassroots, all volunteer, no contracts, no catch co-operative. Since there are no employees at Bountiful Baskets, we as a group pay rock bottom prices on your food. This also means the co-op would not happen without volunteers. All it takes is a little time, energy and a smile. Volunteer opportunities include helping prepare the baskets, breaking down boxes, assisting with the distribution, and packing up. To help out, simply arrive an hour early dressed and ready to work with water to drink. To quote a press release that a local City put out to encourage residents to consider participating, “Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op is a participatory experience. Participants all save a substantial amount of money on healthy food. In exchange there are no employees to guide participants through the experience.”

Wanna check it out? Here’s how: 
ORDERING:
Bountiful Baskets is a non-profit food co-op for any individual or families that want to have more fresh produce for less money. In order to participate, you must set up a free account on the website.  www.bountifulbaskets.org
   
Contributions are accepted beginning Mondays (week A) at  noon until Tuesday night. Making a contribution is sometimes referred to as ‘ordering,’ but this is not accurate. We call it ‘contributing’ or ‘participating,’ because Bountiful Baskets is not a business that you buy from, but rather a co-op where we all pool our money to buy things together.
   
To make your contribution, follow these steps:  
  • Go to the website during the contribution time period. Some sites fill up quickly, so you may want to get on early for your first time.  Each site has an allotted number of baskets that it can accommodate. The contribution time ends on Tuesday night.  
  • Click “Get my produce basket” on the right hand side under where is says Current Offerings. There’s a picture of a vegetable basket where you click. If there is no “Get my produce basket” link, it means the website is not ready for contributions. If it is during the contribution window, it’s possible the website is having technical problems. Close your browser and try back in a few minutes.  
  • Click on the North Texas basket.  
  • Enter your email and account password, then click “Submit”.  
  • Choose your county from the drop-down menu. Ellis county is now an option! YAY!  (To make a selection in a drop-down menu, click on the little down arrow on the right-hand side of the little box. It will bring up all available options, and you can click on your desired selection.)  
  • Choose your Waxahachie pick-up site from the next menu. If it is not showing in the list, it means it is full for the week.  
  • Select the number of baskets you would like in the next drop-down menu. (up to 3 per participant)  
  • On the “First Time Basket” menu, choose Yes if it is your first time participating. This $3.00 fee is only charged your first time. The money goes into a pool that is used to buy baskets for the volunteers to sort the produce into. You don’t bring those baskets home with you, they are left at the site to be used every week. So you will need to bring a container for carrying your produce home.  We have some boxes available that the produce was delivered in, but not enough for everyone to use.  
  • After that, there are several choices that you can select in addition to your produce basket if you desire.  You can also upgrade to 100% certified organic produce for an additional $10.00. In most areas, there are also add-ons such as bread, specialty packs, or cases of canning vegetables. If you would like one of those items, enter the number you would like in the box to the right of the description.  
  • Before you click submit, read the message at the bottom of the page, and review your selections to be sure they are correct. Then click submit.  
  • This brings up your “Cart” and gives you one more chance to review your selections before you finalize the transaction. Be sure you have selected the site you want and all the add-ons, as these things CAN NOT be changed once the transaction is finished. If you are sure everything is correct, click on “Check-out”.  
  • This brings up the checkout page, where you will enter your name and payment information. Be sure to use the address that is associated with the credit or debit card you are using, or the transaction will fail. You must READ all of the bullet points and click the boxes next to them to indicate that you agree to the co-op policies.  
  • Once you click submit, wait for the transaction to complete before clicking anything else. It may take a few minutes if the website is extremely busy. A confirmation page should appear when the transaction is complete, and an email will be sent to your account.  
  • Print the email and bring it with you to the pick-up.  If you do not have access to a printer, you can write down the number or pull it up on your phone for verification purposes.  Money never changes hands at the site.  All contributions have been made beforehand.  
  • If the website gives you an error before you receive confirmation, log back into your account in a few minutes and check the “Contribution History” link on the right hand side before you submit another transaction. If the transaction shows in the history, then your contribution went through. If it is not there, you must re-submit your contribution, but you may have to wait a few minutes for the website to re-set before it will accept your transaction.
When you check out, you agree to be on time to pick-up your produce. Our pick-up time will be  3:45pm (for now, our route times are subject to change as additional sites are added)  on Saturday and every OTHER Saturday after that.  It is helpful to double-check the time on the website under “Locations” each Friday night to be sure there hasn’t been a last-minute change.
You have a 20-minute window to pick up your produce. If you are late, or do not show up, your produce will be donated and will be unavailable to you.
   
You also agree to volunteer on occasion. This is a volunteer organization. We all chip in, no one gets paid, so all of our money goes to buying great food at great prices! If you are able bodied, we ask that you volunteer at least once every 6 to 8 times you participate.  If you can not, then don’t worry about it.

 

If you are unable to come get your basket you may send someone else with your Contribution Confirmation (a.k.a. receipt) to get it for you. 
  
PICK UP DETAILS:
There will be two lines on pick up day: one for the regular baskets, one for the organic baskets and add ons.  You will need to sign off for your basket and wait for a volunteer to pull a pair of baskets over for you to transfer to an available box or basket/ grocery bags that you brought from home.  When you finish, please return the white baskets to a volunteer.  If you have an organic basket or add-ons, you then line up in the second queue. In this line, you will need to inspect your produce before you sign for it.  When you sign for it, you accept the entire case. 
  
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Just comment below!!

Pajama Glam 7th Birthday Party- The Details.

First off, I have to say I typically swoon over details. I tend to believe it truly IS the little things that matter. All those things that don’t cost a lot but added up can make a huge impact. Those little things that make the everyday seem magical, i.e. the kiss before leaving the house, a thank you note in the mailbox, jazz music playing while you clean, and flowers in the kitchen just because “its Tuesday”. That being said when planning Kaitlyn’s 7th birthday Pajama Glam party we were paying attention to every detail!   Kaitlyn had seen her older sister have sleepover after sleepover this past fall and desperately wanted a sleepover of her own. I was afraid the girls may still be a bit to young for an “all-nighter” away from home so we decided to host a mock slumber party instead. We planned all the things you would normally do at a girls slumber party just minus the slumber part. The girls arrived early wearing their pajamas,  a wonderful friend of mine (who was a former Libby Lou party artist) did fancy hair for each of the girls, manicures & pedicures all around. We served a fancy spread of breakfast for dinner. Then we had cake and presents, played princess games, and snuggled down with our sleeping bags and bowls of popcorn for a movie before the party girls parents arrived  for late night pick up.  

It all started with this thrift store chandelier.
 I had originally purchased it to install in the girls closet. Instead, it soon became the inspiration for our party.  
Voila! Some beautiful black and white fabric from Hobby Lobby provided our backdrop.  Upon inspiration from a blog post my sweet friend Heather did at AtoZebra Celebrations, I created the awesome table skirt or “table tutu” as I’ve been calling it. It was super easy and well worth it for the setting!    

Our cake was an 8″ white cream cake with coconut icing. We topped it with a “K” monogram ( I LOVE monograms!!) and a few jewels. We then added a ribbon to match. And presented it on a gorgeous black cake stand I found at the last minute. (I love cake stands too!)

THE Snowballs. These silly things were at the request of the birthday girl. She had Oooh-ed over them in the store for weeks.  I offered to make some fancy cupcakes but my offer was no match for the pink “snowball”. It was her party after all so I topped them with a cupcake topper anyway and served on  matching platter they looked great and the girls Oohed over them the same way Kaitlyn had!  


Did I mention I love monograms?!

The dinner table was set with bright pink flowers, a satin table runner,  black and white plates, pink napkins with big diamond rings as napkin holders.  For dinner the girls were served mini breakfast quiches, silver dollar pancakes,  blueberry muffins, and strawberry lemonade.

All that was left to do was was wait for the guests  to arrive. Kaitlyn greeted each guest at the door, so excited for her first “sleepover”. The sound of giggles when each girl arrives and presents were opened was unmistakable,and the unforgettable laughter of all the girls was SO FUN! It is bittersweet watching each one of our children grow up more and more but I am enjoying celebrating every moment and milestone in their lives. I am so grateful to have them in my life- Happy Birthday Sweet Kaitlyn!   

Homemade Crayons : Making Christmas Beautiful

I love making fun things with the kids at Christmas… cut out Christmas cookies the kitchen covered in flour and the house smelling of sweetness….glittered adorned cards sent out to those we love….and lots and lots of popsicle sticks, foam stickers, pipe-cleaners and painted hand-prints crafted into ornaments, reindeer, and any other celebratory symbol of the holidays. This year as we were cleaning out the craft closet (yes we have an entire closet full of craft supplies…that’s another post) and noticing our abundance of crayons we decided to reinvent the Christmas craft.

We decided to take some old and broken things and make them new again.  Crayons. I cannot tell you how many crayons this family with 4 children and 2 former preschool teacher parents have accumulated!

We sorted out all our broken crayons from the ones that still had good life left and then sorted again by color and broke any larger pieces into smaller ones.
They weren’t always the same shade but as long as they were in he same color family it was fine.
 We preheated the oven to 350, then we got a silicone baking tray, ours were in the shape of snowflakes, and  places all the broken pieces in a section. After the oven was preheated we placed the silicone baking tray onto a metal sheet and popped them in the oven. Turn the oven down to 250 for about 10 minutes or until the crayons started to look a little soupy. Then we took them out. I stirred each section with a plastic knife to even out the color in each section. After they cooled a bit I stuck them in the freezer for another 30 minutes to harden.

After that we peeled them out of our snowflake mold and Ta-Da!! Snowflake Christmas crayons Super easy and so cute. Package these up with a cute bow and new coloring book and these would make cute stocking stuffer! What’s some of your favorite Christmas/Holiday crafts to do with your kids?