New Year's Eve is here-I honestly can't believe it!
The new year offers us something I think we all need. A fresh start. Sure, life goes on, and all the same troubles follow us, but there is something about a new year that makes us want to re-boot. Why do we make new year resolutions? To re-boot!
Do you have a new years resolution for this coming year? I kept my new years resolution from last year.....I resolved not to make a resolution at all. I know, it's so lazy. But I was tired of failing.
A friend told me her resolution, and it's simply to eat more veggies. Not to eat less bad stuff, or exercise more, or anything like that. Just to eat more veg. I liked it for it's simplicity, it's lack of "rules" that new years resolutions often have, and that it sounded totally do-able! It got me thinking; I really should resolve to do something.
So, as I often do, I found inspiration in my children.
Before school let out for Christmas, my daughter Abby received a Terrific Kids award for Hope.
In some ways the ideas of hope is abstract, and unreachable. But as I looked at my beautiful 5 year old, and heard what her teacher had to say about her showing the virtue of hope, and also inspiring hope in others, I knew I wanted it too.
So, my new years resolution is to try to have more hope (and in doing so, to encourage others to hope too). Webster's says hope is: "the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one's life or in the world at large". Basically, to think a little more positively!
I currently have a serious hope deficiency....although people see me as outgoing, and generally happy, deep down, I lack that "state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes"-in many areas of my life!
I've seen on Pinterest where you have a jar, and all year you write things that have happened that were good, and at the end of the year you read all the good things in the jar. I liked the idea, but knew I was too pessimistic to ever think anything was good enough to put in the jar. So, I'm going to do a Hope Jar instead.
What I plan to do is to write some things I am hopeful for in this new year and put them into the jar. Some will be serious, and some will be light hearted, but I am going to choose to hope, and choose to be positive. I will likely add a few hopes as the year goes on, there are no rules, I'm just making this up!
At the end of 2014, I will open the jar, and see how the year went. My hope (wow, I'm doing it already!), is that in writing some things down, I will be thinking & praying about the hopes in the jar. Even as hard times come, I want to know that I am making an effort to be hopeful.
Do you have a new years resolution? If you don't, why not? Think of something-anything-that you want to re-boot.....why not do it now? There are no guidelines for a resolution, just do it! And if you fail (I'm talking to myself here too)? Try again!
Have a great night, whatever you're doing, and I'll be here again next year (aka-tomorrow). :)
Good Monday morning to you! I hope your weekend was a good one. We drove home on Saturday night, and are getting back to "normal" (ish) slowly but surely.
Coming home after being away for a while makes me want comfort, and soup always does it. I've been making this soup for a few years (even made a big batch with a friend to put in the freezer for after she had her baby), and it always hits the spot.
Sausage, Kale, & Lentil Soup
1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the meat, and cook (breaking up the big bits as it goes) until nicely coloured, about 5 minutes.
2. Add onion, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the drained lentils, can of tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil.
4. Add thyme or rosemary (if using). Reduce to a simmer, and leave for as long as you need (I usually make the soup in the late afternoon, and leave it on a low simmer until I'm ready for dinner).
5. Once you are closer to dinner, turn the heat up slightly, and add the kale. Let this simmer rapidly for about 5 minutes (until kale wilts).
6. Turn heat off, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!
I hope this hearty, comforting soup becomes a favourite in your house!
A few years back my Mom and Dad starting having a "dessert night" at Christmas for us siblings. I'm pretty sure It started because our normal family gathering had gotten (wonderfully) overrun with all of our kids! So, we have our family get-together on boxing day, and an adult night with delightful meats and cheeses, desserts and games on another night. Tonight is that night!
So, I thought I would post about a yumm-diddly pie that is not the least bit "festive", but it is sure to become a favorite!
I have made a few different types of s'more pie, but this one is nice and simple, and turns out great every time. I use chocolate bars in the bottom chocolate layer to add some extra flavour, and to add some different texture too. I used Mr. Big today (because our local bulk store had them), but Kit Kat, Oh Henry, and Snickers bars are really good in here too.
Let me tell you about this crust. It's no ordinary graham crust of butter and graham crumbs. No, no, no....the crust is like a crisp outside, soft inside homemade graham cookie. It is dee-lightful!
S'More Chocolate Bar Pie
1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease 9″ pie pan with baking spray or butter.
2. Mix flour, baking powder and graham crumbs together, set aside.
3. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar together until combined, then add egg and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients.
4. Divide the dough in half. Press half the dough in the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pie pan.
5. Evenly spread the Marshmallow Creme over the bottom crust.
6. Spread chopped chocolate bars (or chocolate chips if that's what you're using) over the mallow creme.
7. Sprinkle 1 cup of marshmallows on top of all that.
8. Using the rest of the crust mixture, take small amounts and squish it a bit, and pat it down over the pie. It's ok. to have some gaps.
9. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup chocolate chips.
10. Bake 20 minutes until lightly browned.
Once cooked, let cool completely before cutting into it. You need the mallow fluff to set a bit.
So, looks good, eh? It is! I hope you get a chance to whip this up for something you're going to, or just because you want to make it and try it!
Have a great weekend!
Christmas is a very exciting time for children, I think that is a given! But for a child with Autism, it can also be extremely stressful, frightening, and overwhelming. I wish I understood what made Christmas so overwhelming for my son with Autism (I have some ideas)-let's be honest though, what "normal" adult doesn't feel overwhelmed at Christmas?! So, of course a child with Autism would feel it too!
My son Caleb seems to have a "Christmas Threshold" where he can tolerate just so much, then he cracks.
This year, we are staying with family for around 10 days (not sure yet-it depends on how much we're falling apart! ). And I am just hoping for the best....so far, he's only had a few minor meltdowns. :( He spent one night hiding in a dark bedroom away from everyone and everything. He was starting to fall apart, so we quickly ushered him into seclusion, and it did the trick, but it feels heartbreaking because he missed out on everything that night (including the family photo-he has a deep fear/distain for group family photos!).
In years past, we looked forward to Christmas with much (MUCH!!!) anxiety, knowing that Caleb could at any moment fall apart-and fall apart hard. He would seem fine, but then (with us not really knowing why) he would turn into a screaming, flailing, out-of-control little guy. It was so sad to watch, and then either my husband or I would take him into a quiet bedroom to let him continue un-raveling, or we would pack up and go (with people staring).
Last night and today he is spending time with a favorite relative, my brother-in-law Steve. Yes, he loves the rest of that family too, but he really loves Steve. I mean, he's a real cowboy for goodness sake (hahaha....those who know Steve know how funny that illusion is....) :)
Special moments, like visiting Steve, really make Caleb so happy during our visits to family, and help him to stay happy. It also gives my husband and I a much needed break. Do we love Caleb? Obviously we do! But do we need our moments away from him? We sure do!
Caleb has had some shining moments this Christmas though-like his Christmas concert at school. Just a few years ago, he had a crying, upset fit because we had gone to school in the evening (not normal), we were with him there (not normal)-it was all just "off" to him, so he fell apart. This year? We got to school, he went where he needed to go, and put on a great show (see the fabulous picture below of him "Rocking around the Christmas tree"!)
This Christmas, let yourself become aware of how this upside-downsy season might make someone feel who is constantly trying to make sense of the world. A child who finds a "normal" day overwhelming is being asked to dress in their prickly church clothes, visit family who get in your face to say, "hi!" very loudly, look at bright, twinkly lights everywhere, hear the sounds of ripping paper, & lots of chatter, smelling lots of foods, and perfumes-some of these things can be fun-but really, too much for a kid with Autism.
Be extra patient, extra kind, and show some extra love. That will help anyone have a great Christmas-but especially a child with Autism (and also their parents!). :)
My sister at The Good Kind of Crazy has a wonderful recipe for butterscotch buns, and I wanted to post it today. She is making them this morning as part of Christmas breakfast. Hazaa!
They aren't so much "bun" as I had thought they would be the first time I tried them. They are more of a sweet, butterscotch-y biscuit. But, I mean, still delicious though, obviously!
From The Good Kind of Crazy
For the buns:
1. Preheat oven to 425
2.Cream butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Set aside.
3. Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl
4. Cut butter or lard into cubes and put in flour mixture. Cut into flour mixture using a pastry cutter until crumbly. Make a well in the middle of the bowl.
5. Slowly add milk 1/4 cup at a time. You may not need to use all the milk, please don't add it all at once! You want just enough liquid to hold the dough together. Once combined, knead the dough in the bowl a few times to ensure it's fully mixed.
6. Move the dough to floured counter or cutting board and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness, roughly a 10X10 inch square. Spread butter and sugar mixture evenly on dough - spreading right out to the edges.
7. Tightly roll the dough into a log and slice into 1 inch pieces.
8. Place a few inches apart from each other on a parchment lined baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes.
9.While buns are baking prepare a second cookie sheet with parchment paper. Once buns are done baking, place second tray over the first and flip them over on the clean tray.
10. Eat these warm or cool, they are super yummy!
I hope you have a Merry Christmas day!
No, not a Who, as in Dr. Seuss, or the SpongeBob episode called "Christmas Who?", I'm talking about the "who, what, where, when, and why" of Christmas. We hang up socks? Weird. A "jolly prowler" comes down a chimney to bring us presents? And there's a baby in a barn.....? Yikes, what a strange holiday!
Raising kids today means figuring out how to reconcile "Jesus Christmas" with "Santa Christmas". Do you just tell a kid "Santa doesn't exist!"? A child will still see him everywhere, and wonder....and besides, Santa is real....sort of.....
Get ready for a little holiday history lesson! Stick with me, it's so fascinating!
In the 14th Century, a Greek bishop named Nicholas was known for secret gift giving. The main story that is told, the "legend" as it was, is that he secretly gave money to a man who needed dowries for his 3 daughters, and the money Nicholas secretly gave fell into the socks the women had hung to dry (in a window, or on a fireplace, no one is sure).
Word spread, and soon, children were leaving their socks (or wooden shoes) out in hopes that Nicholas would give them a gift. When he became a Saint (and his feast day set as December 6th), children started leaving their socks (or wooden shoes) out the night before.
P.S. Saint Nicholas is Sint Klaas, or Sinterklaas in Dutch....does Sinter Klaas sound familiar....? See, I told you he was real!! : )
Now, lets look at the Catholic church. In 274, a Roman emperor established December 25th as the feast of the unconquered sun. This feast occurred at the same time as the winter solstice, and was adopted by Christians following the council of Nicea in 325 (by the way, St. Nicholas was a part of this first council), and it was given a new meaning. Instead of celebrating the "unconquered sun", Christians celebrated the birth of Christ who is the "light that shines in the dark; a light that darkness could not overpower" (John 1:5). They called the mass they would hold on December 24th, the Christ Mass (otherwise known as....Christmas).
Enter the Protestant reformation!
In 1517 when Luther published The Ninety-Five Theses, and the Protestant reformation began, much of Europe became protestant, and rejected the Catholic faith, included Saints, such as Nicholas. However, children don't care much for reformations (I am being a bit cheeky), and the practice of gift giving continued, as well as holding the date of december 25th for celebrating the birth of Christ.
Germans adopted the practice of having Kristkindls (does that sound familiar? Like Kris Kringle? It translates to "Christ Child") as a way to prepare for the coming of Jesus by encouraging them to see Jesus in others. They would pick a name out of a hat, and throughout the advent season would do something special for that person without them knowing who it was (the Germans were also the first to start using a Christmas tree-they originally hung it from their ceiling!).
The British celebrated with a figure known as "Father Christmas", and he was not always an old guy! The puritans that emerged from the Protestant Reformation condemned almost anything from pre-reformation times, especially things that encouraged people to be indulgent. So, as the arguing over what to do increased, those who still believed there was a place for the older traditions, often personified Christmas (the event, which was not celebrated because of the reformation) as a kind, older man, a father figure, who was given to good cheer, but not to being excessive. They referred to this personification as "Father Christmas".
Wait, what about Hanukkah? What about it? It is a completely different holiday than Christmas and celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus would have celebrated Hanukkah, by the way, as he was a Jew.
"The Festival of Dedication then took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon's portico" (John 10:22-23).
Hanukkah starts around the end of November and lasts for 8 days and nights.
Immigration now plays a big part in Christmas and our Holiday season as people from all over Europe were coming to America and Canada. Just like our villages, towns and cities are melting pots of culture, so are we melting pots of Christmas!
The baby Jesus, Sinterklaas, Kristkindl, Father Christmas-no matter who you think Christmas is about, it is ultimately a season for celebrating, for brotherly kindness, for giving, for loving. It's a time to re-connect, to share, to reflect.
This season is a mash-up of cultures, of ideas, of celebrations. You can't ignore Santa, or Jesus in this season. There are (really) two separate holidays we are talking about, and I think for kids to know that our modern day Santa Claus is a version of a real, caring, loving man, is not a bad example to have. We should talk about him! And teaching them that there was also a baby born, who was to be the saviour of the world, that's important too! Connecting them by saying that the nice man who gave gifts was being a follower of this Saviour? Perfect!
I think the central message of every holiday tradition is love, and that really is universal, and should be celebrated, no matter what.
Normally I would post a recipe on a Monday, but I wanted to do a last minute baked goods wrapping session instead!
Everyone has their own ideas about how much to give, how to package it, so these are my personal feelings & ideas!
I think less is more. Give the person a variety, but not so much they won't finish everything you gave them before it's not fresh and doesn't taste as good. You can sort of see in the photo that there isn't a lot of everything-just enough to share with family, or to enjoy with a coffee over a few days.
I also don't like when a plate of dessert all tastes the same because it was all just put together. I know, picky, picky. But seriously, just separate the treats using cellophane bags (inexpensive from the bulk barn) or some plastic wrap. It also helps to give your gift some height, body and definition (sounds funny, but why not make a present look as good as possible?).
Include a tag if possible. It doesn't need to be fancy, but I always like to know what I'm getting instead of having to just take a bite and hope for the best....so, give your gift recipient a heads-up on what yumminess they are going to enjoy! The tag serves a double purpose too-you can write your greetings on the other side.
Lastly, if at all possible, find something pretty, but practical, to put the treats in. I always find really neat-o stuff at Winners (like those pretty oven safe, paper ware loaf pans in the pictures). If you can't find anything to suit, just use a disposable plate, but try thinking of it as a stage instead of a flat plate. Using tissue paper, create a high, medium and low level (starting at the "back" of your plate) so that your desserts aren't just sitting flat and sad. Yes, desserts can be sad. :)
Then use a cellophane bag to put the whole thing in (if it's just on a plate) to make sure it all stays together. Then, just give your desserts away (the best part!), and spread some Christmas cheer!
I always thought for fudge to be perfectly delightful, creamy & rich that it had to be done the fussy way-boiling milk, sugar and butter, getting a candy thermometer involved, doing the soft ball sugar test-sheesh, no offence old school fudge, but no thanks! I didn't make fudge at all because of this until a friend showed me this crazy easy fudge. You won't believe it....for realz.
Easiest Fudge Ever!
An EagleBrand Recipe
A few notes I've observed: For some reason, this cannot be made in a pot on the stove. Not sure why! I tried it, it didn't work. Don't have a micro? Bring the ingredients over to a friends house that does have one-trust me, you want to! :)
Anyway, once I cut up the cooled & set fudge, I put it into an airtight container (just honestly all tossed in) and stick it in the freezer. Then when I need something to add to a dessert plate I'm bringing to a party, or just want to bring a sweet little treat bowl, I pull some out, and they're good to go! Yippee!
My newest thing I tried with this fudge? Marshmallow fluff and chocolate chips!
After beating the fudge for 5 minutes, I spread half of it into the pan, then I put about 1/4 cup of chocolate chips on top, then spread about of 3/4 a jar of marshmallow fluff, then the remaining fudge on top of it all!
Once this sets (it takes a little longer than the plain fudge), I cut it into 1 inch squares, but I put each square into a mini muffin cup. One, it looks pretty, and two, it keeps the fluff from spreading if the place you take this is too hot! People can enjoy the fudge, but not get sticky fingers! I brought some to a party, and put the rest in the freezer in their mini muffin cups. Yes, these freeze well too!
Well, we're heading out of town today, so have a great weekend everyone! Now, go make some super easy fudge, then come back and tell me about it! :)
A few weeks ago, Caleb's amazing E.A. wrote a post for me about Autism at School. Find it here if you'd like to read it!
And so it is with a very, very sad (but happy) heart that I announce that Leslie has been offered (and accepted) a job within the School Board, and will no longer be working with Caleb starting in the new year.
Last night as Caleb went to bed, and we did his prayers, I prayed for his next day of school as I usually do, but then I could't stop crying thinking of how far he has come because of Leslie's love and dedication to his education and overall well-being. Heck, I can't stop crying now!
I have concerns about Caleb as he moves on because change can be so difficult for a person with Autism. They thrive on sameness (which is why with even a slight change they can fall apart so easily). This makes change scary for those with Autism, and also for us who care for them because we don't want to see them so upset and confused. Will he adapt and change with this new chapter in his life?
I have concerns about his education too. Leslie pushed Caleb to do more, to learn more, to be more-because she knew he could! Caleb is honestly (honestly) so much more advanced than we thought he would be at this point in his life. We had hopes for him, but with Leslie's help, he reached those goals sooner than expected!
I will take this moment to say that his school (principal, additional E.A's, and his teachers) all really love him too, and want the best for him. But (I'm sure we can all agree and relate) there are always some special people in our lives who make us better people-Leslie is that for Caleb.
I find myself stepping out into this grey area of newness with so much anxiety, but also with a sense that God is asking me to trust that He loves Caleb more than my husband or I, or Leslie, and believe that He will keep helping Caleb grow into the person He made him to be.
To Leslie: To say that we simply love you would be a dramatic understatement! You were the answer to many prayers, and I can't even imagine who Caleb would be today without you in his life. He is so cheeky, and knows how to push buttons. He is also so smart, and bright and giving. He is so multi-faceted, and you helped him understand himself, his emotions, the world around him, and make each part of him shine with your challenges, persistence, faith in him, and love.
I'm glad we are friends, and that you won't be gone from our lives all-together, and I honestly wish you all the best in this new adventure that you so deserve! You are amazing!!
We went to the Tweed Christmas Parade, and the kids loved it! Honestly, they don't care if it is long or short, how amazing all the floats are, how dang cold it is-they just love Christmas! And man, did they ever get a lot of treats! Yikes! It's not all bad though, I borrowed all their mini candy canes they got, and put them to delicious use!
These brownies are so fudgy, pepperminty, and de-lish! Your kids will not mind that you took all their candy canes!
Gluten-Free Candy Cane Brownies
**Let these cool before you cut into them!**
These fantastic brownies freeze well too. Just wait until they are completely cooled, then cut, and put into an airtight container (if you have to stack them on top of each other, separate with parchment paper). I cut mine into petit fours, and put into mini muffin cups before putting them into a container into the freezer.
Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
Read more about me by clicking here!
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