Meal Pinning Monday - last one of 2012

December 31, 2012

[What is Meal Pinning Monday?]
MPM is how I meal plan for our little family. I once spent a lot of time searching the web and my recipe books hunting for new recipes and ideas for what to cook every week. Then, Pinterest came along and made meal planning much easier for me. Every weekend I look over what I have pinned the prior week and decide what I would like to cook and make my grocery list from these recipes. MPM came about as a way to share what I am cooking, and to also see what others are cooking every week to hopefully get even more dinner ideas from other bloggers. If you don't pin your recipes feel free to just share what you are cooking. 

With it being New Year's this week will be a little odd. I plant to cook lunch for us on Tuesday, Nanny always did. While I love cabbage I would rather die than eat black eyed peas.

Monday- Banana Bread Bars [Friend Breakfast & NYE in St. Francisville]

Tuesday- Grilled Maple Honey Pork Chops w/ BBQ Bean and Fried Cabbage

Wednesday- Thai Coconut Curry Soup

Thursday- Baked Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken & Brussel Sprouts
Source: via Emily on Pinterest

Friday- Summer Veggies with Sausage and Potatoes

Saturday- Grilled Chicken with Roasted Broccoli

Sunday- BBQ Pulled Chicken Baked Potato with Fried Onions

and lunch for the week...

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Top 12 Recipe Posts in 2012

December 29, 2012

My blogging revelation this year has seem to come from my amazement over what posts get the most views. Somehow blog posts that I deem space filler and just to talk about life for myself have had an insane amount of hits, where others that I think people will really like get skimmed over. That's the funny thing about blogging. It is so hard to find out just what your readers really want. Of all my years blogging, this one in particular has been especially recipe heavy, but in a good way. It pushes me to not cook the same thing ever week. 

Here are my top 12 most pinned recipes from 2012:

12. Thanksgiving Sides We Can't Live Without

11. Pumpkin Better Than...Cake

10. A Less Trashy White Trash Casserole

9. Nutella Hot Chocolate & Tree Decorating with a 2 Year Old

8. Donut Bread Pudding with Chocolate Glaze

7. Greek Quinoa Salad

6. S'mores Cake

5. Lighter Corn Dip

4. Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

3. Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake

2. Cinnamon Roll Casserole

1. Easy Marshmallow Frosting & a Dolled Up Cake Mix

Now for a close runner up that is one of my favorite recipes from the year - Our favorite baked potato ever:)

And for the most viewed blog post of the year...that I have no idea why anyone wanted to read it:
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Pinterest - fun or foe?

December 28, 2012

There seems to be some fuss over Pinterest lately in the blog world, or more the mommy blogger crowd. I really don't see what the big deal is. But if you want to see what the big deal is Googling anything about people feeling inadequate from Pinterst brings up pages of blogs addressing the subject. 

Social media in general has created this "keeping up with the Jones" mentality, that before Facebook crawled into the college scene was not this big of an issue. Before social media, we could only compare ourselves with the people we actually knew, or celebrities we saw in magazines. Then again, the celebrities never seemed reachable; but the Nike shoes my friend had on did. 

Blogging has been around since the 90's, I am totally guilty of having a website them. Who on earth can remember what it was called, but I remember having one. When Facebook come on the Internet scene my freshmen year of college I was now able to see what my friends were wearing and doing at the drop of a hat...and from quite some distance. 

When we got engaged blogging had become much more than it seemed to be in the 90's, plus the website design was much easier and more efficient. It was an easy way to keep in touch with family and friends while we were planning, I didn't put anything on Facebook about it. As far as wedding blogs were concerned, they all seemed out of reach. So, instead, I crafted and figured out how to, on my own, recreate these amazing things people were making...without DIY instructions that are so readily available in these social media days. I wold scour Etsy for ideas, if I couldn't afford to purchase it I would just devise a way to make it. I spent hours upon hours making things I had seen in magazines and on wedding sites for a fraction of the cost to buy it. 

Without social media my wedding would have looked very different.

Twitter and Instagram hit the social media scene much later, but they never had the influence that I think plain Jane blogger have. Unless you put up something amazing, I am not compelled to run out and purchase it. However, it you blog about how great a product is, and you're a blogger I trust...I am about 90% likely to buy it. 

Pinterest on the other hand has done wonders for the blog world. Thanks to that site posts that would disappear from my main page within a few posts, unless bookmarked by readers, are now pinned and repined. Essentially posts are now kept from disappearing into the blog vortex. My page views have doubled and tripled over the past year or so on Pinterest. With the increase in page views and readers I have been able to do more sponsored posts and make a tiny bit of money from it. 

Pinterest has influenced my personally by giving me recipe ideas that had they not be published in Southern Living or in a cookbook I already owned I would never have seen. DIY projects I had to figure out on my own, are now provided with how-to blog posts. I've gotten decorating ideas, discovered new products, and found new ways to save money in our home. Probably one of my favorite things about the site is the style pins, clothing items I couldn't figure out how to style have been revamped and I've learned just how to style and shop my closet a little bit better. 

I can easily see how women get intimidated and feel like they aren't good enough because they don't hand make every single item their family comes in contact with. I personally would love to garden, can food, and make every meal completely from scratch with foods I mostly grew myself; but it's just not all that doable these days. I can't put myself down because my house doesn't look like someone else's, we just aren't at that phase of life yet. 

So instead of putting yourself down because you aren't like everyone else on Pinterest, or even the blog world, just take away what you wish and have fun. As a blogger remember that Pinterest can be free marketing, so take advantage of it. Use technology for what it is for bloggers, a fun way to connect and get new inspiration and ideas! 

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My Favorite Home Redemdies for Colds

December 27, 2012

Until this past year and a half that I have lived in south Louisiana I never got sick. I would be a stuffy nose, but nothing that needed much treatment. Since moving though I am pretty sure I am going to kill my liver with the allergy meds I have to constantly take. I'm from a long line of allergy sufferers, and this garbage doesn't seem like allergies. It appears to be more like burning cane field induced torment. 

In an effort to save my insides from the torment my sinuses put on my body I have become enthralled with homeopathic medicine. There is actually a doctor in Monroe who does just that, and maybe there would be one close to me...but I have yet to find one. When I do I am going to be all in. But hey, I've told y'all before...I'd be a hippie if I could convince the husband to jump on board. 

The foods we eat has a lot to do with our immunity, it's just part of that junk-in-junk-out idea. I eat like a health nut preparing for a nuclear meltdown that will force us all to eat processed junk that has been stored in our cellars since the cold war. Except those of us in Louisiana, cellars don't exist. You dig a few feet, and next thing you know you have an in ground swimming pool in your yard. Oh the beauty of being below sea level. 

I digress...

Cold remedies. 

1) Nanny always swore by Vick's Vaporub. Thanks to her addiction, I too am addicted to the jelly. What we did with it includes everything the label said not to do. Primarily, she stuck it in her nose. I must admit, it works. Gets the smell right on in there! Recently I've started covering my feet in it and putting thick socks on before bed. I couldn't tell how well it was working, until I did it to my 2 yr old and almost 1 yr old nephews, it cleared them both up within 15 minutes. My new favorite Vick's idea is of course from Pinterest, you can put it in your Scentsy warmer with a teaspoon of water. I also have a camphor menthol mist, so I added a bit in there with whole house now smells like Vick's. I love it, Jeremy keeps wondering when I will stop. 
 2) While I was completely skeptical at the time I read about taking a detox bath to clear toxins out of your body and primarily your skin. When I had come down with an awful cold a few weeks ago I did this several nights in a row and by the 2nd night I felt 100% better as I crawled out of the tub. From what I have read, with your skin is like a third kidney and you can release toxins by sweating them out. Taking a detox bath helps your body release these toxins. 

Basic Detox Bath:
for standard bathtub
2 cups Epsom salt
1 cup baking soda

Soak in the bathtub for at least 20 minutes, and up to 40. To increasing sweating ground ginger can also be added. To increase the detox process  you can add essential oils like tea tree oil or eucalyptus (20 drops). 

3) Taking cinnamon and honey for two - three days can nearly kick out a cold when taken twice a day. I'm guilt of taking it three times when I feel extra junky. Both honey and cinnamon are antiviral, anti fungal, and antibacterial. It also knocks out kidney & bladder infections, reduces sugar levels, blood pressure, and acts as a pain reliever for arthritis. 

4) I can't remember where exactly I read it, but I've used cayenne pepper when I had head congestion or a sore throat for years. You simply mix 1 tsp of salt, with 8 oz of the hottest water you can stand to gargle, with as much cayenne pepper as you can stomach and gargle the whole 8 oz in several mouthfuls. It immediately numbs your throat and clears nasal passages. Cayenne is known as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory agent that can relieve allergies. It is also know to help break up and move mucus from the body, which helps relieve cold and flu symptoms. Aside from just gargling cayenne pepper I also try to eat as much of it as possible for it's ability to detox the body and stimulate the circulatory system. I like to add it to soups, because let's face it, hot liquid makes sore throats feel better. If I don't feel up to making my own soup I will just add as much cayenne pepper as I can to those Lipton Cup-o-Soup packets. 
5) My IRL friends that read this are going to think "There she goes again abut apple cider vinegar," but I promise this stuff works. I love using it for my skin, taking it orally and using it as an astringent will clear up acne. However, when you have a cold or sore throat coming on it helps to reduce sinus infections and sore throats. When you have a cold your body tends to become more alkine, taking ACV can help balance the body's acid levels. When using ACV you get the best results from Raw Unfiltered Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. The bottle I have right now is an organic raw brand from Rouses, when I run out I really want to see if there is a difference between it and Bragg. 

6) Fire Cider: I found this a few weeks ago and am regretting that I haven't made any yet. As soon as we get home I am making a batch or two and seeing just how well it works. It is supposed to be a natural cold and flu remedy, click through the picture to get the recipe and see how it works. 

What are some of your favorite cold and flu remedies? 

Global Healing Center

Delighted Momma
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Christmas is over and 2013 is sneaking up...and it's not going to be very fun.

December 26, 2012

Christmas is over and I hope everyone had just as good of a time as we had. Since calories don't count on Christmas...they begin counting again today. And hard! I'm pretty sure I ate enough Grape Jelly Meatballs to last a lifetime. The New Year is about to hit, and that can mean a lot of things for a lot of people. 

I for one am sort of dreading it. It seems to be we are at the same fork in the road we were at when 2011 rang it's bells. Just maybe not to the same extent, and we don't have things as cemented as we did that January. Jeremy brought it up before we went to bed last night...and I did my usual not entirely listening. After such a big move 2 years ago, it is a lot to swallow. The chance of us moving for his internship is great. As abundant as teachers seem to run, school psychologists sometimes run in the realm of one or two per parish. Therefore nothing is based on my job, it is all tossed to the wind to see what magical parish in Louisiana wants to hire that year. 

The parish we are currently looking at is about an hour away from where we live now. He could commute, but the amount of money we could make won't be matched in many other parishes. Where I'm at now, I took a big paycut when we moved here. After 3 years of teaching and a Master's I am making what I made with no expereince and a B.A. in north Louisiana. Our ability to save money like we once could disappeared. If we stay and he communtes, that money we would be saving from his salary would be used up in gas. Plus I would be basically saying that I couldn't use to extra 4-5 thousand. 

If we were to get into this particular parish we could bump out savings back up, pay off student loans quick, and pay off our cars that we were forced to purchase after moving to south Louisiana. When he's done we'd have money for a house, and possibly be able to save up again to travel like we like to. 

The downside is that we have made such good friends where we are. Friends that it seems took us a year to feel like we had. Our first year was rough, making friends in a group that already had friends isn't ideal. On top of that, Jeremy is the youth minister at our church. Plus we are involved in the praise team. This nearly nonexistant and possbile dead church has, in the past year, grown leaps and bounds. There has been a sort of revival in recent months, and we have an amazing pastor who I couldn't write out into words just how much we appreciate him and everything he does to lead our church. 

But, we might have to leave it behind. 

When we do, if we do, move, we could possibly have to move the year after that if he isn't hired in the same parish he did internship in. I know this all too well. My uncle is a school psychologist, they lived in north Louisiana, he had to commute to his internship, and then they ended up in south Louisiana because that is who was hiring at the time. If we wanted to, we had the chance to go to Alaska for this internship. 

I know God knows what's going on. I'm the one who is left wondering. I just really hope that wherever we go, we are able to serve in a church like we have here. The hardest part will be leaving friends behind. 

If we have to. We could end up staying. When will be know the final decision...not until nearly July or possbily August. It all depends. So the next six months is going to be so much fun

I think I can do without 2013. 
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Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2012

Since we weren't able to send out cards this year I thought I'd just share what I wanted to send out here on the ole blog! I hope everyone is havinga  great Christmas and spending time with family. We've spent the morning laughing at a 2 year old while he opens presents and eating breakfast casserole. The picture is from the top of the Castle Sant Angelo with the Vatican in the background...we don't take a whole ton of pics together lol. I think Jeremy is allergic to flash, or like the Amish is afraid his soul will be stolen. Alas, merry Christmas and we love y'all! 

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 
Luke 2:16-21

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25 Days of Christmas//Traditions

December 24, 2012

**Meal Pinning Monday is being skipped this week...since I'm not really cooking meals aside from our Christmas Eve snacks and Dinner. 
We never had a ton of traditions in our family. Every year we drive on Christmas Eve we have a little party (not near a big as it was when I was a kid) and make a ton of our favorite apps, afterwards we load up and drive around town looking at lights while drinking hot chocolate. As kids Mom would read the Cajun Night Before Christmas at some point, being that she is a teacher & Nanny was a librarian it is no surprise that we were always literacy focused. When we were young we would go to my grandparents house on Christmas Eve and open presents from them. My cousins always quickly left, so it was always some nice quality time with them. Every year we left out cookies for Santa. Mom just threw this in, but we always made presents for our teachers, we never bought them. I was always involved in children's choir, so everyone always came to watch me sing and dance in tacky 90's Christmas sweaters! 

In high school I dated a guy whose family is from Honduras, so I got the hispanic influenced holidays that my Granny Aida never let us have. (But that is another story for another day as to why my Puerto Rican family never held to tradition) On Christmas Eve I would go with the family to Midnight Mass, while I was always Baptist, I did experience a small stint as a Christmas Catholic haha! We would open presents on Christmas Eve and just hang out and shoot fireworks. I actually met up with his sister, brother, and their spouses to hang out last night and we talked about how they celebrated in Honduras. The big thing to do there is everyone have Christmas parties all night long and to go from house to house visiting and celebrating with everyone and eventually eating dinner at Midnight. The only downside was Santa. It is hard to follow the Santa tradition when no one goes to sleep all night. I was cracking up when my friend's SIL mentioned that her parents would send them to the store for something and when they got back Santa would have already made his visit. 

I can't imagine staying up all night, at least not after our lock-in, but it seems like it would have been such a fun way to celebrate. 

Jeremy and I haven't yet made any big traditions, more will probably come with kids one day. As of now we usually open or gifts to each other before leaving town to visit family. We always know what our actual gifts to one another are, but we wrap them anyway. The surprise always come with stockings. We give each other one filled wtih fun goodies we know the other would like, never anything too expensive. We also make a habit of going out one night and looking at lights together before we leave town. This year we actually went to Celebration in the Oaks in NOLA . 

Since I do have a Puerto Rican heritage I would like to eventually mix in a few of the fun hispanic traditions into our family. It would also be a lot of  fun to incorporate some traditions from around the world, here are a few I found:

Great Britain-
On the 4th Sunday of Advent they attend a Christingle Service where they sing carrols and children recieve an orange and candle wrapped in red ribbon. The candle represents Jesus and the ribbon stand for the blood of Christ and the love of God embracing the world. Chrildren also write letters to Father Christmas and toss them into the fireplace so that they will float up the chimney and fly to the North Pole. If the lists catch fire first they have to rewrite them. 

United States-
Reindeer food (oatmeal, red sprinkles, and hay)is sprinkled in the yard on Christmas Eve so that Santa's reindeer have something to eat. (We actually did this a few times)

On Saint Lucia’s Day, December 13, in the first light of dawn the oldest daughter of the house dresses in a white robe and places a ring of candles in her hair. It is then her job to wake the rest of the family and serve them coffee, buns, and cookies.

Here children believe Santa rides a horse, they leave our hay, carrots, and water for him on December 6th. 

Children leave our rice pudding and saucers of milk for the elves called Juul Nisse. 

Pere Noel brings small gifts in the beginning of December (Dec 6) and comes back to deliver more on Christmas. In France the children get to open their gifts on Christmas, but the parents and other adults have to wait until New Years.

It Italy, the main exchange of gift doesn't occur until January 6th, the day traditionally believed that the Wise Men reached the baby Jesus. Italy has La Befana who brings gifts to for the good and punishment for the bad.

A Christmas pickle ornament is hidden deep within the tree, the first child to find it recieves and extra gift, the adult who finds it is supposed to have good luck for the following year. 
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25 Days of Christmas//Christmas Candy

December 23, 2012

Every year my mom makes fudge, does that mean I can make fudge? Not one bit. Apparently that skill wasn't passed in the gene pool. I can make fudge sauce that stays at a sauce consistency even when in the freezer for hours...yeah I'm that good at fudge. There are a few things I do, and can make. It just irks me that a person can make a souffle ands gets their butt handed to them over fudge. Fudge! 

Moving on...

Here are some Christmas treats that have recently caught my eye...and I really should be making them sometime between now and the end of Christmas break. 

Chocolate Bark

Easy Fudge with Pretzels

Matzo Almond Brittle

Praline Pieces

Source: via Jen on Pinterest

Christmas Candy Bark

Christmas Lollipops

Source: via Dani on Pinterest

Bing Candy

Maple Sponge Candy

Candy Cane Oreo Cookie Bars

Coal Candy

Chocolate Dipped Praline Pretzels


Peanut Butter Balls

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25 Days of Christmas//Funny Elf on the Shelf Ideas

December 22, 2012

One of the times I have most enjoyed teaching was last year during Christmas. I was lucky enough to score an entirely Christmas celebrating class and just went nuts. While I taught our regular curriculum, I played Christmas music constantly and brought out a new/yet old tradition...Elf on the Shelf. No joke, it was the best behavior I have experienced out of children in quite some time. I introduced my "not exactly real" Elf on the Shelf (I saved 20 bucks by buying the stuffed doll), read the book to the class, and put that stuffed doll to work. There were a few skeptics, but after a few days of our Elf and her antics they were all in.

The hands down best moment came when I realized one day that the music on my computer shut off whenever it went to screensaver. Ding. Ding. Ding! We had a winner. I came in early one day and set up out little stuffed Elf next to my speakers with her fuzzy little hand on the volume knob. Thirty minutes into a Reading lesson the students suddenly noticed the music was off, and guess who did it...our "Elf". It happened several more times that day, and each time I played it off fussing that she was just interrupting my lesson. The kids ate it up!

When we left a few days before break for Italy I made sure and had another teacher come in and move her everyday, just to keep the magic alive. No sense in thinking it was me all along. A few of those students actually showed up in my room a few days ago asking where our Elf was. I didn't get to bring it out this year, but hopefully I can next year. 

If you have a child who is around 3rd - 7th grade age I suggest you let them read Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever around Christmas. Granted, 5-7th graders won't be in the Santa spirits, but it is a hilarious book! We began reading it as a class a few days after we did the Elf on the Shelf book, and seriously I nearly cried laughing while reading it out loud to the kids. There is one hilarious section where Greg talks about the insanity of their Elf. Seriously it is a must read of kids! 

I'm really hoping to do Elf on the Shelf with my future classes, and even our kids. Here are a few of my favorite Elf on the Shelf ideas from Pinterest. Granted they aren't exactly all kid friendly, but they are funny. 

Source: via Andrea on Pinterest

Paint the kids noses red while they are sleeping...

Source: via Ray on Pinterest

Source: via Sean on Pinterest

Terrible but funny:

Source: via Virginia on Pinterest

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