My Gratitude Journal

I’m excited about this easy little crafty post, because it has so much meaning to me. Along the journey of life a few years back, we chose to seek out help from a psychologist who said something very interesting: “The thoughts you think, control the chemicals your body releases.  If you are able to change your thoughts, you can change your chemical balance. If you can’t change your thinking, then medication can help make it easier.”

gratitude-journal

Stress is my enemy.  A little spurt of stress can put me in bed for a few days, too weak to even walk unassisted.  I can’t control all my stress, like when someone cuts me off in traffic and nearly causes an accident; when a bat gets in my house and flaps around my bedroom; or when someone I love gets sick or dies. But there is a lot I can control.

This past week, a lot of stressful things were going on in my life.  Here’s what I wrote in my Fit Yummy Mummy journal: Oh Girls, Life has kicked my tail… My grandma is on hospice and they don’t think she will live through the night. She is 90 and forgot who I was long ago, but I remember who she is. Her daughter, my Auntie, was on death watch for a short time last week, but miraculously recovered for a little while longer and has been moved to a rehab facility. …my mama hurt her leg mysteriously and can’t walk very well…. I tangled with some poison ivy last weekend and am COVERED. Plus the school district has denied to test Heather for learning disabilities even with all the private testing records I sent them and doctor reports. They said they don’t accept any outside of the district assessments and they haven’t observed her long enough to decide what to do about her. I’m so sad realizing that they are waiting for her to fail again before they intervene even though her records transferred from her old school show a clear pattern and need. I’m taking her to another clinic the next state over on Saturday to test her eye/brain connection. It’s so expensive, but if there’s a chance it will help her we’ll find a way to earn the money. I’m trying not to stress about everything, but I’m feeling all the feels anyway and it has zapped my strength. So that’s where I am. Not sure how to pick up the pieces from here while my body has checked out. 

That wasn’t even all of it, but it started to feel ridiculous writing so much complaining down. What if instead of that, I had written down all the things that were going RIGHT?  I can tell you THIS, I spend way more time thinking about the things going wrong than I do the things I have to be thankful for.  I’m sure that has a lot to do with my health struggles.

It’s hard to admit that I am a negative person.  Yuck.  Just admitting that makes me not like myself very much, so I’m making steps to change.  4o years of consistent negative thinking isn’t going to change easy, but I’m choosing my hard.

gratitude journal 2

I’m starting with this fifty cent notebook. It’s just a composition notebook from Wal-mart.  I made a little cover for it by merging this and this.  I printed it on regular paper, then trimmed it down slightly to fit the cover.

gratitude journal wax paper

I placed a piece of wax paper inside the notebook, so I wouldn’t get modge podge all over the pages and stick them together.

Then I put a thin layer of modge podge ($1 in the Target spot bins) over the back of the picture, and stuck it to the cover, starting on one edge and smoothing it over to prevent air bubbles.  Then I took my brush and put a thin layer of glossy modge podge over the top for durability.

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Here’s the best part, the brush strokes in modge podge are visible after it dries, giving printed art a hand-painted affect. To take full advantage of this, I went back once more and added brush strokes to the water color flowers, following the natural curve so each flower would look hand-painted.

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You GUYS! I’m feeling so clever right now.  When it dried I trimmed the corners and added a matching cover to the back.

gratitude journal drying

Before I thought of this little project, I looked on Amazon for a gratitude journal I could buy.  There were several good ones like this, this, and this. They were each less than $10, but the DIY one was the more affordable option for sure.  Karen at A House Full of Sunshine has a different idea for a DIY journal cover that is darling for all you washi tape lovers.  She also had some good thoughts about gratefulness that are worth clicking over to read.

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Here’s what I’ll write tonight:

  1. Heather’s new Irlen filters that are helping her read better
  2. Family cooperating for Grandma’s Funeral
  3. A chance to sing with my daughter and my sister-in-law
  4. Free flute lessons for Heather that make her so happy
  5. Our cars are both repaired and running well
  6. A supportive church family

I’m all about reducing stress, not adding to it, so I’m not writing in complete sentences, telling stories (unless I want to), or giving myself a quota.  If I’m too stressed to think, I might just copy down a scripture verse or hymn that I’m grateful for, or tape in a coloring page. And if I need to skip a day, that’s A-OK, since none of the pages are pre-dated.

P.S.  If you want to hear more about gratitude journals, Sherry talks about hers in the “We’re Digging Section” on episode #11 of the Young House Love Podcast.

 

This Changes Everything

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Two people in the exact same circumstances, one is happy and the other is miserable.  Why?

Attitude

The character quality that influences our happiness the most, is gratefulness.  Gratefulness is a seed that flowers into contentment and joy.

When we have it we spend less money. We smile and laugh more. We can rejoice in other people’s blessings.

There’s an herbicide that will kill it all.  It has the generic label Complaining but can be found under the brand names of Comparison and Envy.

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Sometimes reading someone else’s grateful list brings up some jealousy.  This time of year, I wonder if I should share my grateful list or if it is better to tell it to God.  When I list off my list of things I’m thankful for, I naturally leave out the things that we are struggling with.  It would defeat the purpose to complain and be thankful at the same time. That can leave an impression that my life is perfect and make someone else wonder why theirs isn’t.

In this human experience we will all have trouble.  If it’s not happening now, it’s coming.  Our gratefulness is interwoven with tragedy. The contrast is beautiful.

autumn leaves

My goal is to become thankful no matter my circumstances.  It’s easy for me to be thankful when I look at those who are less fortunate.  If comparison is the thief of joy, then I want my gratitude to be independent from comparison .  There will always be someone better off or worse off than I am.  My joy and my gratitude has to be unaffected by circumstance.

There is one constant to be grateful for,  Jesus.  He remains unchanged no matter my circumstance. He lived and died and lived again so that whatever happens in this life is a blip in the scheme of eternity spent with Him.  If your Christmas tree is already up and you’re singing Christmas carols while you work, it doesn’t bother me.  It’s just another reminder of the reason for our gratitude this Thanksgiving day.

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Family to Yours

I’ve sent up special prayers for those of you with family members who have already been welcomed into the arms of our Savior.  It seems like we miss them more on days like today.

 

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

These tender rolls are light, delicious and child approved.  Mildly sweet, these rolls are the perfect compliment to a Thanksgiving feast (or an autumn after school snack.)pumpkin dinner rolls 2

pumpkin dinner rolls pumpkin butter and whey

Melting the butter and pumpkin together.

pumpkin dinner rolls eggs and brown sugar

Beating eggs and brown sugar together.

pumpkin dinner rolls stir in yeast

Adding the yeast

pumpkin dinner rolls pulling away from the sides

Beating in flour until the dough pulls away from the sizes and holds some shape.  I like to keep it really soft.  You might not need all the flour.  Just add it 1 cup at a time and stop when the dough looks like this.

pumpkin dinner rolls ready to rise

Ready for the first rise.  I like to coat my dough in olive oil to keep it from drying out.  Then cover the bowl with a tea towel.

pumpkin dinner rolls first rise

Ready to form into rolls.  This dough is super forgiving.  I started it at 11 am and it should have been ready to form at 12, but I didn’t have time to get to it until 4pm.  It was still ok.

pumpkin dinner rolls divide into 2 balls

Divide into 2 ballspumpkin dinner rolls cut into wedges

Roll each ball into a circle and cut into triangles.  I did 12 for big rolls.  16 works too.

pumpkin dinner rolls formed

Roll them up like canned crescent rolls.  (Kids like this part.)pumpkin dinner rolls second rise What they look like after rising for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons yeast
  • 5 cups whole wheat flour (I used hard white wheat)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

Instructions

  1. In a microwave safe bowl combine pumpkin, milk and butter. Cook on high for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Beat mixture with a whisk until smooth, then beat in eggs and brown sugar. Set aside.
  2. In your mixer bowl, combine both flours, spices, yeast and salt. With the dough hook running, slowly pour in pumpkin mixture, beating until a soft dough forms. (Add additional flour or water if needed.) Allow the machine to knead the dough for 6-8 minutes. Lightly oil the dough and let rest for 1 hour or until doubled.
  3. Punch down dough and divide into 2 balls. Roll each27 ball into a large circle about 1/4 inch thick. Use a table knife to cut the circle into 16 wedges. Starting at the fat end roll each wedge into a crescent. Place on greased baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Let rest uncovered until doubled, about an hour. Bake rolls at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden on the top. Serve with pumpkin butter if desired.
  4. Each roll has 145 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbs and 2.6 grams of fiber.
http://www.groceryshrink.com/pumpkin-dinner-rolls/

 

 

Homemade Pumpkin Bagels Video Tutorial

Homemade Pumpkin Bagels

Tee hee.  This video makes me giggle.  My family doesn’t quite get why it’s so funny, but they enjoy that I enjoy it.  When I watch the replay and Grant (4) dumps the pumpkin on the counter, I roll on the floor laughing and then back it up and watch it again.  Maybe because I was there for the original moment, trying to balance a camera and helping Grant with the cooking at the same time.  How the pumpkin on the counter shocked us both and I got the giggles, which I tried to hold in making weird background noise.  Grant, relieved that I wasn’t upset said, “We better clean that up.”   Which made me giggle all the more.

After we made quite a mess but got most of the stuff in the bowl, I said “What should we do now?”  I thought Grant would say, “Let’s clean up!”  but he said “SMILE.”  Which made me giggle all over again.

This boy is the joy of my days.  The sleepless nights, messes, tantrums, and battles are all worth it.  I had the option to spend this year in a classroom blessing other people’s children, while I earned money that my family needed.  I would have had to let someone else be with Grant during the day, and I just couldn’t.  It’s his last full year at home and I fought for my chance to be the one to clean up his messes and talk him down from the ledge of toddler insanity. It was selfish and selfless at the same time.  He needs me as much as I need him and there’s something priceless about that.

For those who prefer a written recipe here you go:

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Pumpkin Bagels

  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

Put all ingredients in the order listed in your bread machine.  Set for the dough cycle.  When the cycle is ended, divide the dough into 10 balls.  Poke your finger through the center and make a large hole.  Let the bagels rise for an hour or until doubled. Pour 8 cups of water into a stock pot, boil bagels for 1 1/2 minutes, turning once.  Remove to a dish towel to drain.  Place bagels on a greased baking sheet.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden on the top.  Cool on a wire rack.

Thanksgiving Traditions

I’m big on traditions. That was something my mom did really well when I was growing up. I’m still trying to figure out what I want our traditions to be, lol. But one thing I’m sure about is reading Stories of the Pilgrims by Pumphries every year starting the first of November.

We have yet to actually finish the book after many years of trying and the kids have the first part of the book nearly memorized. Heidi groaned when I brought the book out this year (typical 12 year old) but after we started reading it, she didn’t want me to stop for the night.

There is another option too that we took advantage of two years ago–the book is now available on mp3 to listen to! And it’s on sale right now here: http://jimhodgesaudiobooks.com/MP3_downloads.html

It’s always good to read aloud to kids, but sometimes there is laundry to fold, dishes to wash, or Christmas gifts to crochet.  It can be nice to listen while we work or even in the car.

(I’m not affiliated with Jim Hodges and he didn’t ask me to write this post.  Just passing on one of our faves.)

This is my super busy day–working all day to finish up menus  for the mailing tomorrow.  But I am still photographing and keeping track of food.  Hope to get that up soon :).

Pumpkin Sugar Cookie Cutouts

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We made these cookies yesterday because I was in a festive mood. We couldn’t find our pumkin cookie cutter so we used an apple and acorn one instead. I had a bite just to make sure the recipe was good. This is a Coffman original. Soft sugar cookies with a nice pumpkin spice flavor but not too cake like.

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cups pumpkin puree
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice mixture
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Beat in Pumpkin puree. Add spice, baking soda and salt, stir just until mixed. Then add flour 1/2 cup at a time until all is incorporated. Chill for at least one 1 hour.

Roll out in a mixture of flour and sugar (half and half.) Dough will still be very soft, even after chilling and you will need to make sure the rolling area is amply covered. Cut with cookie cutters into desired shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool on pans for 3 minutes then remove to wire racks. Cookies can be eaten plain or frosted after cooling. Makes about 5 dozen.

P.S. Heidi says, “Mom, you know those pumpkin cookies you made yesterday? Well, they were heaven!”

Cranberry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

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These delicious cookies are a great way to use fresh frozen cranberries.  These would be wondefully festive for your Thanksgiving or Christmas snack table.  When I buy fresh cranberries, I immediately put them in the freezer in their original bag.  They are easier to chop or grind this way for recipes and keep for over a year.

Cranberry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

In an electric mixer cream together: 1 cup softened butter 1/2 cup white sugar 1 cup packed dark brown sugar 2 tsp vanilla 1/4 cup milk Add slowly, mixing well after each addition: 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 3 cups wheat flour 2 cups quick oats 2 cups chopped frozen fresh cranberries 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips Drop by teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or until golden around the edges.  Cool on a wire rack.  Makes 4.5 dozen at 133 calories each.

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Thanksgiving Snack Mix

Thanksgiving Snack mix

I’m so happy the holiday season is here!  This recipe came home from school on the kid’s school lunch menu and I modified it to be even more festive.  This recipe serves 30, but you can halve it if you want to.

Thanksgiving Snack mix 3

2-4.1 oz packages of bugles (approximately 8 cups–$1.18 each at Dollar General)

1-8 oz can of party peanuts (approximately 2 cups–$1.88 at Dollar General)

2 cups of roasted pumpkin seeds (free if homemade)

1 pkg. 22 oz candy corn (approximately 4 cups–$.89 on clearance at Aldi)

4 cups (8 oz) of mini pretzels ($1.00 from Aldi)

1 cup Craisins ($3.89 for 11 cups from Costco–or $.35 for this recipe)

4 cups of Goldfish crackers ($8.15 for 24 cups from Costco or $1.36 for this recipe)

Mix all and pour 3/4 cup snack mix into individual baggies.  Seal.  Yield 25 cups or 32 servings.  Cost of total recipe:  $7.84  Cost per serving:  $.25

These would be nice to have in your to go bag (or diaper bag) to hand out to the kiddoes while running errends to stave off the chants of “McDonalds, McDonalds…”

Thanksgiving snack mix 2

The school paper gave this symbolism:

Bugles represent cornucopias, the symbol of our nation’s blessings.

Pretzels represent hands and arms folded in prayer.

Candy Corn represents the corn t the early Pilgrims survived on during the harsh winter.

Seeds represent future harvest if we are diligent.

Cranberries represent the bountiful land in which we live.

Fish Crackers represent the blessing that the abundant sea life provided for early settlers.

Easy Pumpkin Cake

This cake can’t get any easier.  It’s super moist, low in fat, and has only 3 ingredients.  To save money, stock up on cake mixes when they are on sale.  I snagged mine at a 1 day sale when the store brand mixes were $.59 each.  Also, making your own pumpkin puree is really easy if you have a kitchen aid food mill attachment.

Speaking of pumpkin puree…Does anyone know where there are pumpkins on clearance cheap in Kansas City?

Easy Pumpkin Cake:

1 box spice cake mix (other flavors are nice too, such as white or yellow with 2 tsps of pumpkin spice added; or chococolate :).)

1 cup of water

2 cups (or 1 15 oz can) of pumpkin puree (not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling)

Mix all for 2 minutes in an electric mixer on medium speed.  Pour into a greased 9 x 13 dish (or muffin cups) Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes (30 minutes for cupcakes) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cake will be very soft.  Frost with whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Bagels

I’m having a blast trying all the pumpkin recipes I can think of. Saturday we made pumpkin bagels. They were delicious, healthy, fast and easy!

The original recipe came from Taste of Home.  Here’s my modified version:

  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

Put all ingredients in the order listed in your bread machine.  Set for the dough cycle.  When the cycle is ended, divide the dough into 10 balls.  Poke your finger through the center and make a large hole.  Let the bagels rise for an hour or until doubled. Pour 8 cups of water into a stock pot, boil bagels for 1 1/2 minutes, turning once.  Remove to a dish towel to drain.  Place bagels on a greased baking sheet.  Brush with egg white and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden on the top.  Cool on a wire rack.