With this pregnancy, I’ve been craving a lot of junk.
Chocolate, chips, carbs…. oh, yeah.
Watermelon, too…so I guess I’m good there! 🙂
I decided that I wanted to indulge in my chocolate cravings, but in a healthier way. I had one bag of pumpkin puree sitting in the freezer from last fall, so I decided to try a chocolate pumpkin recipe.
I’ve done my fair share of paleo/healthy baking, and one thing I’ve discovered is that I really don’t like coconut flour at all. I think it tends to have a sawdust-like consistency, and I don’t enjoy eating it. So, I’ve changed the original recipe up just a tish to get rid of the coconut flour. I also forgot to add the chocolate chips, along with the drizzle on top, but that’s okay.
The result…the brownies are not awful. They are not a true brownie, but they definitely give me that chocolate fix, so I say thumbs up! 🙂
Target is my go-to, and today on my quick errands run, I felt there were some deals worth sharing. 🙂
So here goes….
Dasani Sparkling Water 8-Pack – $1.99
I’m kind of addicted to sparkling water. It’s my go-to drink instead of pop or something else. 🙂 So I happened to catch an end-cap display of these 8-packs, on sale for $2.99, BUT each pack had a $1 coupon stuck to it, so I got each 8-pack for $1.99 which is a great price for this brand!
Organic Bananas – 2 lbs. for $1.05
Target now has organic bananas for $1.37 for a 2 lb. bunch which is cheaper than the conventional bananas. There is also a $.25 Ibottarebate on bananas, so you get the two pounds for $1.05.
Organic Strawberries – $3.50
Good price for organic!
Conventional strawberries – $2 OR $1.90 if you have the offer on Cartwheel
Raspberries (large pack) – $4 OR $3.80 if you have the offer on Cartwheel
Oscar Meyer Selects Beef Nitrate Free Hot Dogs – $2.94
My kindergartner came home from school and said, “Mom, can you buy me a fidget spinner?”
My gut response was You are absolutely not taking a fidget spinner to school!
Some of you may be wondering what a fidget spinner is.
In case you haven’t been in the school scene in the past couple of months, a fidget spinner is a toy that’s been marketed as a tool to help kids focus and relieve stress. Sites are specifically marketing them as tools that are great for kids with ADHD and autism.
I was once in the dark and didn’t know what one was. I was subbing in a middle school classroom, and a student was supposed to be doing work, but instead was spinning a toy between his fingers, showing his friends. I took it and told him that I would give it back to him after class.
Then a few days later, I saw a picture of one of these contraptions online and discovered exactly what I had taken away from the student.
They are a LEARNING TOOL?!
To help kids focus?!
So I felt a little dumb that I took it away. Maybe this kid was supposed to have it?
Now, I am not an expert with students who have special circumstances, so perhaps these fidget spinners do provide some benefit to those kids.
However, as I’ve been subbing in more and more middle school classrooms, the number of kids who bring this to class is astonishing. And distracting.
These are supposed to help students focus?
I recently had a room full of 6th graders. They were in groups at tables, and their assignment was to answer questions in literature circles about the novels they had just read. Many, many students were more focused on showing off their tricks that they could perform with their fidget spinners, while other kids watched. One even had a fidget spinner with flashing lights.
So these are supposed to help with focus?
As the teacher, I had to constantly walk around and remind the groups to put the spinners away and get back on task.
Then, when they were done with their questions, their assignment was to continue reading the next chapter in their assigned book.
What do you think happened?
The students got cozy in their reading positions, their books were in their laps, and out came the fidget spinners, which they paid more attention to than the pages of their book.
So if you think you are buying one of these to help your child in class, I don’t think it is worth it. Fidget spinners are way too distracting in a regular classroom.
So when my 6-year-old came home from school wanting one, I told him, “I don’t think you should have one in school.”
“But other kids do!”
What he doesn’t know is that I recently did order two (not the overly expensive ones!).
First of all, I am curious about them.
Secondly, they will be in my purse, and I hope to be able to pull them out during times when my two kiddos need a distraction, like when we are waiting for a meal at a restaurant or when they are bored on a car ride.
Because from what I’ve witnessed, these are definitely a distraction, which can come in handy during those moments when the kids need to just sit still.
But for school and the classroom, no. Just, no.
These are toys. A fad. They are obviously attractive to kids, so if you need something to keep them distracted, this seems to be it.
But please, please keep them out of the classroom. All I’ve seen is students choosing to focus on spinning and ignoring everything else that they should be working on in class.
So, Carter, no, you are not taking one to school.
Luckily summer is almost here, and I’m willing to bet that the craze will be over by next fall.
I feel like I’ve reached the end of an era–sort of.
Every year after one of my kids has a birthday, I dig out the baby book and fill out the most recent birthday page.
So after Carter’s birthday, that’s what I did. I shuffled through, looking for the page for Birthday #6.
But it wasn’t there.
Because baby books generally go up to age five.
That’s it. My first baby’s baby book is done.
I’m not quite sure how to feel about that.
He’s mature, smart, self-sufficient, and SIX.
Give him a 1,000 piece Lego set and he’ll finish the thing in a day without any help.
I realize that in a few years, six will seem like such a small number. And I’ll look back at pictures and think, He was so little then!
So while I’m feeling a bit nostalgic as I flip through the pages of his baby book (and my heart is feeling a bit of an ache for the baby he once was), I’m also flipping through the pages of his “Birthday Book,” a book that has a page for each year up to page 18. (Yes, yes, a baby book AND birthday book. I’m a documenting, word-obsessed mama.)
Ages 8, 11, 16, 18…
More years to come. More growth. More firsts.
So many hopes and dreams for the years ahead.
As I’m saying goodbye to the baby book, I’m also saying hello to his future. Future friends, activities, disappointments, and successes.
And as his mom, I get to come along for the ride.
Motherhood is a blessed, blessed position to find myself in. And even though it goes by in the blink of an eye, I feel so rich to be able to look forward to the years ahead.
Even though I’m done with the baby book, I still have 12 years left of “The Birthday Book.”
And I’m excited for God’s plan for Carter and how those pages will be filled.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
If you are in need of some inexpensive knee and elbow pads for a younger girl, you can get this Doc McStuffins set for $6.52 at Amazon. Subscribe and save and you get free shipping. (Cancel online after you get it, because who wants a subscription for knee pads??!)
Today, May 9, Cents of Style is highlighting their delicate necklaces. They have them on sale, 2 for $15 plus free shipping. Use the code 2FOREASY at checkout.
There are some really pretty inspirational necklaces with phrases like blessed, hope, love, faith, and more.
Being from North Dakota, it’s almost a given that my homegrown, rurally-raised man is a deer hunter.
And if you have a deer hunter in your family, it’s almost a given that you will have deer sausage in the freezer.
We happened to have a hunk of venison in the freezer, just waiting to be transformed into jerky or sausage. We decided to give it a whirl and make a small batch of sausage ourselves.
In the past, we have made large batches of homemade sausage with my grandparents, and it’s a family affair. The guys grind and mix the meat, and then proceed to stuff the casings. Grandma cooks up the sausage as it’s being mixed to make sure it has the right balance of seasonings. We all taste test to make sure it’s good. (That’s an enjoyable requirement!). Grandpa smokes the sausage on his massive homemade smoker. The ladies make sausage patties and seal all of the sausage using our trusty vacuum sealers. It’s quite a process, and it’s quite efficient.
This is from a couple years back. Love that she loved helping!
This is tradition. I used to help make sausage even when I was a little kid. And look, now my kids are helping, too! 🙂
Along with this family tradition, we have also taken the shortcut route in the past and have had it made at different processors, like Reister Meats out of Medina. I think we’ve even had some (gulp!) goose brats made at Meats by John and Wayne in Fargo.
But sometimes, it’s just fun to experiment and do it yourself. So that’s what we ventured to do one recent Sunday afternoon. And by “we” I mainly mean my husband since he’s the one who planned it and did most of the work. I was sort of along just for the ride.
Bless his heart, while I was on a girls trip to Fargo (to see Ree Drummond I might add!), he cut up the deer and pork and had it ready to go.
Then Sunday afternoon, he and Carter got it ground up and mixed.
We tried a country style seasoning that we picked up at the Bismarck Sports Show in February. We got it at the Owen’s BBQ booth out of Glenburn, ND. And then after a quick call to grandpa and grandma for advice, they reminded me to always add extra garlic (4 “toes” for 25 pounds), plus extra pepper. Always extra pepper.
So we did.
We also planned to add bacon to half our batch. We soon discovered that bacon turns into a gloppy mess when you try to run it through a meat grinder. Still, we put it in half our batch with some high-melt cheddar cheese.
We (I mean my husband) got our seasoning mixed in and I lit up my trusty electric fry pan to test our our concoction.
As I was frying, I noticed our color was off. Normally, sausage turns pink, and this was brown. We forgot to buy the cure!
Still, it tasted good. But more pepper. We definitely needed to add more pepper.
We figured we could manage without the cure, it would just look a little different. I recalled my sister did the same thing when they made sausage, so I called her up. Lo and behold, she hadn’t died from it, so we figured we’d be fine. 😉
Then I googled uncured sausage and smoking it (because we planned to smoke our sausage), and I discovered that unless you smoke it at a high enough temp (basically cooking it), we risked a nasty dose of botulism.
Time for a little improvisation. We had some jerky seasoning in the cupboard that had cure packets in it. We followed the instructions for ground meat and added enough cure for our sausage batch. Voila! That cured our cure problem.
In went the bacon and cheese, and I again fired up the fry pan to test out our new and improved sausage. The sample patty was Harper approved. This three-year-old doesn’t want much more in life other than chicken strips and fries, so when she ate almost the entire patty, we knew we were onto something.
So the sausage was mixed and seasoned to our liking. Now it was time to stuff the meat into casings, which happen to be pork intestines. (Guess which one of us rinsed those babies out…..I’ll give you a hint….it wasn’t me…) As he pushed the meat through the “stuffer” he continually said, “Yeah, we’re never doing this again.”
When we stuff sausage with my grandparents, we use my grandpa’s antique stuffer. Literally antique. They have one on display at the North Dakota Heritage Center. It’s like the one pictured here:
This is similar to ours. Surprisingly, I found this on Etsy!
It works amazingly well. Those Germans from Russia were onto something.
Well, we didn’t borrow my grandparent’s antique stuffer. We used the attachment on our humble little electric meat grinder. It wasn’t as efficient as one might think it should be.
To make it work, one fills the “tank” with meat (and it doesn’t hold a whole lot) and then uses the pusher to push it out. I was in charge of guiding the meat that came out into the casings and it took awhile to get the right size down. Some of our sausage came out about as wide as a brat, so I was told to “get them a little fuller.” That resulted in some of our sausage resembling an anaconda that just swallowed a very large animal. We are taking massive girth.
Eventually I figured out a happy medium and we also have some normally sized sausage rings.
We (I mean my husband) got our sausage twisted into rings, and the hubs then threw them in our little meat smoker. When he brought them in, our entire house smelled like a meat factory, in a good way.
Since I wasn’t exactly the most hands-on helper when it came to cutting up the meat, mixing the meat, and rinsing out those lovely casings (remember…pig intestines…), I did the clean-up.
I thoroughly disinfected everything multiple times. Throughout the afternoon, you could hear me saying multiple phrases to the kids, such as:
“Wash your hands…that’s raw pork!”
“Don’t touch everything with that meat on your hands!”
“You got raw meat all over our fridge handles. Go wash!”
I have a bit of a phobia of contracting a parasite from raw pork. Never watch Monsters Inside of Me on Animal Planet at night. Ugh, I tell ya… 😉
We eventually got everything sealed. Carter helped me label the bags. I told him to mark the unsmoked packages with a “U.” So here’s what he wrote:
We tried our bacon cheddar smoked sausage for supper, and we liked it! Success!
After everything was said and done, “I’m never doing this again” turned into “Would you ever do this again?” And that turned into “I would only do this again IF…”
I’m guessing that somewhere down the road, we might do this again.
We may just have to borrow that 100-year-old sausage stuffer first.
I accepted others for who they were, no matter what.
I sometimes recruited the kids with no friends to be on my speech team. (If anyone from my speech team is reading this, be assured I didn’t think you were all loners! 🙂 Because that’s not the case. But you know that we did have some lonely, shy, or “awkward” students that may have needed a place to fit in, so I invited them.) I tried to show interest and be welcoming to others.
Anyway, I digress.
As I’m reading this book about serving others, I’m realizing just how much I served others in my past career. Students would drop by when they needed encouragement. Or, if they needed to vent (which can happen a lot with high school girls…). I always tried to be welcoming. But at the time, I never thought about it from the Christian aspect of being called to serve.
As open to students as I was in school, I know I wasn’t like that with my home. I’m a bit of an introvert, a bit of a perfectionist, and a self-declared “not very good home decorator.” Which means I was always self-conscious about inviting people over.
I remember a time early in our marriage when my husband suggested we invite people over to grill out after work.
What?! We can’t have people over last minute like this. The house isn’t clean!
And that was BEFORE kids. So, I can now assure you that my house was definitely cleaner then than it is now.
And I’m still not as open with my home as I could be or would like to be. Since becoming a stay-at-home mom, it’s been so easy to fall into the pattern of not offering hospitality to others and shutting myself in with the kids. It’s so easy to just “be and exist” and not think about how I might welcome others to my home.
Of course I serve my family. But what about my neighbors? Am I as welcoming as I could be? Probably not.
It’s been so easy to wrap myself up with my family in my home and not think of others. It’s so easy to think, “If they wanted to hang out, they’d ask us.” But the truth is, in today’s society, we are all busy, and we sometimes don’t take the time to build a sense of “community” in our neighborhoods and even extended family. But that can change by stepping up and becoming the one to serve and love others.
Since becoming a mom, my faith has definitely grown. I think once you have kids, it has to. 😉 Now that I’m expecting my third, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be needing a direct line to God. (But, don’t I know it…that’s been in place from the start.)
I feel like God has been putting it in my heart to love others, to serve others. And when I say “serve” I’m not talking about starting a homeless shelter in my basement. Serving can be as simple as inviting a friend over for coffee or inviting an unfamiliar neighborhood mom over for a play date in order to get to know her. It’s about offering hospitality and saying, “Come on over and join us, mess and all!”
Specific lines and messages from books I’ve read this past year are still sticking with me.
“If community doesn’t come to you, build community for others.” – Jen Hatmaker, For the Love
“Don’t wait for others to bless you–be a blessing to others first.” – Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited
“I am a woman who wants to love God, but so often I am too busy to love the people he puts in my path…’Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Mark 12:31). – Karen Ehman, Listen Love Repeat
I don’t think I would be remembering the Hatmaker and TerKeurst themes if it wasn’t put on my heart.
So I’m hoping to work on this skill. Or really, this calling. We are called to love others, to treat others as we want to be treated.
And for me, branching out of my family bubble and finding time amidst the busyness of life can be a tricky thing. But in the end, I know it’s something that I want.
Happy Friday! With summer coming up, here is a deal on SPF lip balm. This Alba Botanica Lip Balm is $1.25, plus you get it shipped for free with subscribe and save.
Also, yesterday I came across some great (albeit strange) deals on kids Crocs shoes at Amazon. I say they are strange deals because the prices vary WIDELY depending on size. For example, a pair of shoes might be $34 for a size 3 but $8 for a size 11.
BUT, some of these prices are awesome for Crocs shoes, and it seems like as hard as my kids are on their shoes, their Crocs never wear out.
So, bear with me, because this is so RANDOM when it comes to size. 🙂
Wowza! Here is a great deal on Pampers Swaddlers (Size 5). Currently, at Amazonyou can get a 124 pack for $16.56 when you subscribe and save. That’s just 13 cents a diaper, which is awesome for this brand and size! PLUS, if you are a Prime member (kind of wishing I was right now….), you can save an additional 20%!
The Size 5 deal is now dead, but you can get Size 3 for $25.55/box, 14 cents a diaper. Click herefor that link.