Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Now it feels like summer...

by Holly

Been taking a break lately from sewing, crafting, basically anything productive (Sorry Geoff, I promise I'll get to the laundry someday.  We really only need our swimsuits anyway, right?)

I'm experiencing summer... to the fullest.

I'm trying to take more risks with my boys (sometimes having 3 boys and just me on our outings is a bit intimidating).

Risk #1... take them to the beach by myself.

I can check it off my list (insert hollas here).  I am not necessarily a fan of the beach anyway.  I grew up around lakes and rivers; CALM lakes and rivers.  Two out of three of my boys are not the best swimmers either, but can be quite daring.

A couple of summers ago I took them to the beach with a friend of mine.  Big man was in the water, middle man was just jumping in the waves, and little man was sitting happily at the waters edge, eating sand.  All of a sudden, a large wave came and washed up on shore.  All I could do was grab little man as the wave overtook him and hope that middle man and big man were o.k.  I honestly felt like I could only grab one of them.  Luckily, and many thanks to THE Big Man for watching over us, middle man had seen the wave coming and was able to run away in time and big man was able to swim through it.
Needless to say, that freaked me out and made me a controlling beach mom who won't let her kids near the water (at least when it's just me with them).  Crazy, I know.

Well, they are older now and I think I have calmed down a bit.  I hope I have calmed down a bit.

I took the plunge, so to speak...
If only I could bottle their giggles.
If only every day could be this peaceful.
(If only he wasn't so shy, we could pay for his college tuition with modeling gigs.  I know, I know, every mom thinks that.  But he's gorgeous, just like his dad.)

We had a great morning!  And I look forward to more beach days just like this one!  Here's to being daring...

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Staple Strawberry Freeze

by Holly

Hey everyone!  I promised that today I would post my favorite summer dessert recipe.  Now I am not a huge strawberry fan, but this dessert has the perfect amount of fruitiness combined with the easiest cookie crust you can imagine.  It is a staple in my house during the summer.  I usually make it for get togethers, and then proceed to eat all the leftovers (much to my families dismay).
I was introduced to this recipe after I had my second child.  I have pretty bad postpartum issues, and food is definitely the way I cope.  After my first son was born it was lemon cooler cake from Costco.  Second time around, strawberry freeze that was brought to us by a family in our church.  Third time around I had drugs, so I was good that time.  (Don't tell Tom Cruise)
I love this recipe (have you gotten that yet?).  Here is the finished product...
Here's what you need:
chips ahoy cookies
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar (I actually substitute with 2 1/2 teaspoons Splenda)
12 oz. frozen berry juice concentrate
1 cup crushed strawberries
8 oz. cool whip

Start by placing the cookies in a springform pan to make the crust...
How easy is that?  And, you have some cookies left over to snack on while you make the topping.
For the topping, beat the cream cheese (fat free cream cheese works well if you are wanting to cut down a bit on fat content) and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.  Gradually add the juice concentrate, beating well after each addition.  Add the crushed strawberries.  I use a food processor to get them nice and juicy...
Add cool whip, stir with wire whisk until all blended.  Pour over cookies and freeze.
So simple, and soooo yummy!
Hope you all get a chance to make this for your family and friends this summer (or just for yourself, if you so wish:)  Enjoy!
Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

4th of July Extravaganza!

by Holly

Hey Everyone!  Hope you're holiday weekend was fantastic.  Here's a short recap of what we did...

Since we aren't usually in town for the holiday, this year we were able to participate in our communities 4th of July parade and picnic.  I love that it FEELS like we live in a small town.  We had some friends over and all the kids decorated their bikes and then we all braved the heat and insane humidity (I know it's worse in Georgia and places like that, but it felt insane to me) for the sake of the children...
(Can you see the little mustaches we taped to the front of their bikes?  So fun!)

They got to ride their bikes along a short stretch of road within our community and the parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc all lined the sidewalk and cheered them on.  They all had a great time and there were so many kids.  I think that many families opted for staycations this year. 
Here's little man pedaling along.

After the parade, they had games for the kids and food for everyone.  It was great!
Potato sack race anyone?

After afternoon naps, we weren't sure what to do.  Last minute we decided to brave the traffic and all the people and head downtown for the Big Bay Boom.  In San Diego, they have four barges that they load with fireworks and set out in the water for an amazing choreographed spectacular.  I brought some white chocolate dipped strawberry treats that I made (little man ate most of them due to the high sugar content) and we snuggled in for the show.
Wrapped up with little man in my grandma's quilt.  My favorite part.
The view from where we sat.  We were across the street from the bay, looking towards the San Diego Airport.  Perfect!  It was such a great evening.  I am so blessed to be able to live where I live and share life with such great friends and family.  Hope you all enjoyed your 4th as well.
Coming up tomorrow, I am posting my favorite summer dessert recipe.  If I could keep this constantly stocked in my freezer for all the hot weather, I would.  But, I tend to eat it all the time if it's there so I've had to restrain myself.  Stay tuned!
Happy Wednesday!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Flag Art

by Holly

I love the 4th of July!  Usually we are at my parents house celebrating with fireworks in the backyard (you can still do that where they live).  But, this year with gas prices so high, we decided to stay home.  Bummer!
However, there are still lots of fun things to do around here.  We are looking forward to our communities bike decorating contest, parade, and picnic which we have never been here to participate in.
I thought that today I would do a patriotic craft with the kids.  Get them talking about the 4th of July and what it means that we celebrate it.  So we ended up doing a paper project (easy for my 3 year old) that had to do with our nation's flag and involved a lot of paper tearing and glue sticks (all his favorites).
The end result is a decoupage looking flag.  Ours actually ended up looking more camouflage than decoupage.  But, hey, I've got three boys.  Whatta ya expect?

Now you can do this as small and easy, using just an 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper.  We made ours bigger and then mounted it to a canvas that would hang on our wall (about 30" by 24").
For this project you need:

whatever size paper you want your finished flag to be
lots of red, white, and blue scrap paper for tearing
glue sticks

Using a ruler and pencil, draw out the stripes on your paper (7 red, 6 white) and blue corner square.
Kind of hard to see here, but pretty self explanatory.  Then cut out each stripe and the corner blue square.  I labeled each one on the back so it would be easy when they needed to be put back together (1R, 1W, 2R, 2W, 3R, 3W, and so on).
Then, let the kids go at it.  I gave each of my kids a color and they tore up the scrap paper and starting gluing.  This is great for them because it doesn't have to be perfect.  You are going to trim it all down later, so let them be creative.
I think little man was just so excited that I actually let him have a glue stick.
This part may take a while, depending on the size of your flag, so patience is key here.  Trust me!  I think my kids pooped out at about 3 stripes each, and then it became more of Momma's project.  But they got the idea, right?
Once a stripe is done, turn it over and use your scissors to trim the excess scrap paper that is hanging over the sides.
Nice and neat, and ready to be put back together again.  Turning the flag over to the back side, you can just tape the stripes back together as you go...
Like I said before, we mounted ours on an old canvas that I fully intend to use someday.  But for now...
My boys are proudly displaying their stars and stripes!  (Notice we added some simple white stars, one for each member of our family.  We did discuss that there are really 50 stars on the real flag and what they stand for, so no worries all you history teachers out there.)
Hope you all have a fabulous holiday celebrating our country!  Happy Friday!