Pirates and Pals Voyage {Disney World}

IMG_2491IMG_2962IMG_2966We wanted to try something new on our last trip to Disney World. David just loves all things pirate, so we thought the Pirates and Pals Voyage would be a great thing to try. We were not disappointed.

It started out with an optional scavenger hunt with a prize out of the treasure chest for those who completed it. Then we moved into a room where we got to meet and get pictures with Captain Hook and Smee.

The room was loaded with desserts. We were able to eat them there and take them on the boat as well. Everything was yummy and was certainly like party food.

Later, we were separated into two groups and then we boarded the boats. Our guides were pirates as well. We sang songs and played trivia. We were then able to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the lake. We also were able to catch part of the Electric Parade on the water. When we returned to the hotel, a very special guest was waiting for us. Peter Pan was there to see how we liked our trip and to take pictures. David had the best time. The rest of us did too. I would highly recommend this excursion to anyone but especially those with little ones who love pirates.

Cheese Dip {Recipe}

Punctuality is a trait that many people lack, especially in my family. I have major issues with time. It drives me to near insanity to be late and almost equally crazy when people are more than just fashionably late. One thing that exacerbates the situation is hunger. For Thanksgiving this year, I decided to try to alleviate at least part of the irritation by making a cheese dip for those who were on time and were hanging around for everyone else show up. Everyone in my family loves cheese and almost everyone likes a dip of some kind. This was easy to throw together. My family has already requested it again.

Cheese Dip (Keto, Low Carb)

1 block of cream cheese (I used the jalapeno kind)

1 small can of diced jalapenos (juice and all)

2 small blocks of hot pepper cheese (shredded)

1 small block of cheddar cheese (shredded)

Mix all the ingredients together. Put into a baking dish and sprinkle about 1 cup of shredded cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and hot in the center (it took about 20-25 minutes).

I served this with Stacy’s Jalapeno Pita Chips. It can be eaten with veggies and any meat as well to keep it low carb or keto.

Enjoy!

 

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope that this Thanksgiving leaves you thinking of all the things for which there are to be thankful. I am so grateful for my family and friends and for all the blessings which God has so generously given.

As we enter into the Christmas season tomorrow, I pray that we can continue to be grateful for the blessings in our lives and look for ways to be a blessing to others.

bless

Countdown to Disney World

Not that we really need a reason to psych ourselves up for a trip to the happiest place on Earth, but I love a fun countdown to create an even greater sense of anticipation. I started 30 days from our vacation date. Each day one of the children opened an envelope with the number of days left written on the front. There was a gift or activity written inside. The treats were all something that could be used on the trip. They included: Disney socks, pajamas, Disney trading pins, Disney movies to watch in the car, personalized coin holder full of quarters and pennies for the pressed penny machines, and a Disney themed gift. There were also Disney themed breakfast, dinner, and cupcakes on the countdown.

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This is just a fun little way of celebrating a vacation before actually going on it.

Mrs. Kennedy and Me {Book Review}

Recently, I have a new fascination with Jackie Kennedy Onassis. I knew very little about the Kennedy administration and that time period in general. Someone I know said that they would love to sit down and have a conversation with Jackie Kennedy. As I thought about what she lived through, my fascination grew.

I bought a book written by her Secret Service agent, Clint Hill. The book is entitled Mrs. Kennedy and Me. I began reading the book not knowing much about the Kennedy family in general and finished the book even more intrigued by their lives. She was the epitome of class and strength in the face of so much. Clint Hill obviously saw Mrs. Kennedy in the best and worst situations, and he was also constantly impressed with the way she handled things.

There were so many stories in the book that I absolutely loved.  One of my favorites was the story of how she so charmed the French writer, Andre Malraux, that he would offer to bring the Mona Lisa to the United States. This exhibition would be the first time that the painting left France.  She was so excited for people who were not in the position to travel all the way to France to have the opportunity to view this incredible work of art.  The History Channel tells the historical story of the Mona Lisa’s trip to the United States.

There are so many great stories in the book. If anyone has even the slightest interest in Jackie Kennedy this is a great book to find out more about the former First Lady. Not only am I completely intrigued by Jackie Kennedy now, I am also fascinated with Clint Hill and the other Secret Service agents of the time. Since finishing Mrs. Kennedy and Me, I have finished a book about all the Kennedy wives and am currently reading one about the agents who were present that fateful day in November when the whole world was turned upside down.

Goodreads says:

The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir by Clint Hill that Kirkus Reviews called “clear and honest prose free from salaciousness and gossip,” Jackie Kennedy’s personal Secret Service agent details his very close relationship with the First Lady during the four years leading up to and following President John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination.

In those four years, Hill was by Mrs. Kennedy’s side for some of the happiest moments as well as the darkest. He was there for the birth of John, Jr. on November 25, 1960, as well as for the birth and sudden death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy on August 8, 1963. Three and a half months later, the unthinkable happened.

Forty-seven years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the one vivid image that never leaves Clint Hill’s mind is that of President Kennedy’s head lying on Mrs. Kennedy’s lap in the back seat of the limousine, his eyes fixed, blood splattered all over the back of the car, Mrs. Kennedy, and Hill as well. Sprawled on the trunk of the car as it sped away from Dealey Plaza, Hill clung to the sides of the car, his feet wedged in so his body was as high as possible.

Clint Hill jumped on the car too late to save the president, but all he knew after that first shot was that if more shots were coming, the bullets had to hit him instead of the First Lady.

Mrs. Kennedy’s strength, class, and dignity over those tragic four days in November 1963 held the country together.

This is the story, told for the first time, of the man who perhaps held her together.

I highly recommend Mrs. Kennedy and Me.

My Dad: The Biggest Feminist I Know

My father was raised for a large part of his life by his mother and aunt because his father passed away when he was a child. He then went on to marry and have my sister and me. My sister and I have EIGHT girls (and my little boy) between us. I’ve often thought that these are the reasons that he is such a big feminist. My father never tolerates sexist comments from anyone. He never puts limitations on any of us due to our gender. He has high expectations for us. He believes in our strengths and abilities. He also sees the beauty of our femininity. He expects that we are treated with respect and equality.

He becomes furious when he reads or hears about attacks on women. His heart breaks for women in other countries who are treated as second-class citizens and denied education and basic human rights due only to the fact they are women.  He often shares inspiring stories of women who have overcome tragedy, hardship, or sexism.  I have always appreciated the fact that he sees and treats women with such respect.

When my college-age daughter begins to talk about feminism as her peers see it, I hear her speak of a version of feminism that I do not recognize. The feminism she describes tends to look at men as the enemy.  It seems to suggest that the worst of men is what is typical. It also seems to strip women of their feminine qualities, as if they are the reason men cannot treat us equally.  This version of feminism is a twisted form that vaguely resembles true feminism.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines feminism as: “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”

What my father shows us through his words and actions is true feminism. I hope that my husband and son will follow his lead as some of the biggest feminists I know.

 

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photo credit: Joseph M. Arseneau

 

 

 

Meal Train

Here down South we love to bring food to anyone we think may need a meal. Being ill, having surgery, having a loved one pass away, and definitely childbirth all warrant being brought someone’s signature dish for each occasion. One thing that makes this complicated is knowing what they like and dislike, and if someone else is bringing a meal as well. Meal Train is an amazing FREE website that allows people to see who’s bringing what and when. Personal preferences are also included. For a small fee, childcare, shopping, and cleaning coordination can also be added. It makes it all a little easier for everyone. If you know someone who needs meals and you want to coordinate it, this is the way to go. It takes minutes and you can easily share the link to the particular meal train through Facebook, twitter, and email.

Five Daughters Bakery {Nashville}

Recently, we had a Nashville-themed birthday party for my eldest, and since she’s not much of a cake fan, we always look for a different dessert for her birthday. Five Daughter’s Bakery is in Nashville (and a couple of other locations as well) and has rave reviews. I asked people if it was really worth the hype and the price (at around $4.50 a doughnut). EVERY PERSON I asked said it was totally worth both! My sister is one of the most generous and helpful people who you could ever meet. She lives in Nashville and was so sweet to offer to run all over God’s creation collecting things we needed for this party. She went on Saturday morning before the party and got three dozen doughnuts. We got a variety. Since they are huge, we split most into three and everyone got to have a sampling of Five Daughters.  My favorite was the simple cinnamon sugar doughnut. I also really like the vanilla filled doughnut. Now, I can confidently say that they are indeed worth the hype and the price. If you’re ever in Nashville, stop by Five Daughters Bakery and get a doughnut or two. You’ll thank me later!

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Kandinsky {school stuff}

Although I grew up without an art museum anywhere close to where I lived, I have loved art for as long as I can remember. I know that many people who are artistically talented come to love art as they learn more about technique and artistic development. I am seriously lacking in the artistically talented department, but I still love to learn about all things related to art. My children also love learning about great artists. One of my goals for my children is that they will be able to see a piece of art and recognize the artist by the style and details.

In our homeschool, we are learning about Wassily Kandinsky. My favorite fact about him is that he had synesthesia. He could literally hear colors and see music. Kandinsky is considered to be one of the earliest abstract artists.

I thoroughly enjoy teaching about the great artists throughout history. I may not be the most knowledgeable or educated art teacher, but I am passionate.

Here are a few of the things we’ve done in the artist style.

IMG_1523IMG_1524IMG_1525IMG_1536The circles are just plastic cups that the children colored on with Sharpies. We then melted them in the oven. It actually took much longer than I expected and some force to get them to melt.

The other circle picture was done with catalogs. She cut out circles and layered them in top of each other to get that abstract look.

They also drew and painted pictures while listening to music several times.

We are moving on to a different artist next week. I have so enjoyed studying (once again) Kandinsky and his work.

Noodle-less Lasagna {Low Carb}

My girls love all things pasta. Since my husband and I don’t eat pasta, I usually just leave it out of our dishes and serve it on the side.  It’s a little more difficult to do with lasagna, but I still do.

Here’s how I do it:

2 lbs. sausage (any kind you like), cooked and drained

1 large container (usually 16 oz.) ricotta cheese

2 cups mozzarella

2 cups parmesan cheese

1 package of  provolone cheese slices

2 jars of Rao’s spaghetti sauce (many other sauces have LOTS of sugar. You must read the labels)

Mix the meat with the spaghetti sauce. In a lasagna pan, layer a meat layer then a ricotta/parmesan layer, then slices of provolone. Continue layering. On the last layer, put the mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly.

(The provolone is a little thicker and doesn’t melt away like the shredded cheeses.)

Enjoy.

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