story fam

story fam

Monday, November 21, 2011

Phoenix V - Sunday

Run, run, run.....we're here!!!!

This is awesome!!!

Saturday/travel day

Swimming at the Comfort Suites in Huntsville, AL

The Big Reveal

Way back in September we decided to take a surprise vacation to Gulf Shores, Alabama. We weren't sure how we would keep it a secret, but we knew that we had to get the kids and our stuff into the van without them knowing. In October we wrote "Big recycle day" up on our white board and the complaints started immediately!! Boring...that stinks...what?!? Were all the comments we heard. This past Saturday we loaded up big plastic tubs full of "recycling" (our clothes) and headed out. As we got going, we started handing back items that we "found" underneath my seat (thank you Amy and Debbie for this super awesome idea!!!). Flip flops were first, followed by a swim suit top, towel, and sunscreen. The kids were just NOT getting it!!! Once we realized that they were not picking up on the beach theme we handed back a coke can with flip flops, and finally an add that showed the word vacation. That was the give away-Ella figured it out first and the kids went nuts-it was just the reaction we were hoping for!! Needless to say it was the best surprise EVER!!!!

Our first stop in Indiana. A great beginning to our Thanksgiving vacation!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Christmas "Expandable"

My Christmas Expandable

I've had a few friends ask me about my "cash only" Christmas budget system so here it is.

1. Purchase a coupon holder with several pockets. I purchased mine at Target for about $6. It is like an expandable.

2. Label each pocket with the categories that you budget for. As you can see above, a few of my categories are: cards/postage, tree, ornaments, decorations, kids, parents, etc.

3. Put budgeted cash in each pocket

You are ready to get your shopping on!!!!

I love this handy little expandable because it is small enough to carry in my purse, and it is a really easy way to save all of your holiday receipts!!! Mine even has a small pocket in the front that holds things like a pen and post it notes.

It is a holiday must have for me!!!!

Quiet corner

I don't know about you, but I long for a quiet space. Just somewhere for me. Where I can go and do what I want without little fingers picking things up and sometimes quite frankly asking if they can help. I need a place where I can spread out and focus on getting a project done. Nothing fancy. Just somewhere to call my own. Well I found my a corner of our unfinished laundry room. It is ugly (as you can see in the above picture) but Moms, it is MINE!! I am going to brighten it up a bit with some cheery paper to cover the peg board and will use the desk drawers to hold ribbon, paper, and other crafting supplies. The space is just right for me to sneak off and get a few fun things done. I can't wait to get started on some Christmas presents in my little corner that is just for me......

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Simple Sunday treat

Now that we are gearing up for the hectic holiday season, I wanted to share the EASIEST recipe (courtesy of my neighbor Maria) for a Pumpkin Spice Muffin that is super yummy!!!! My kids ask for these constantly!! They make a delicious breakfast muffin, pack well for a lunch time treat, and serve as a great afternoon snack. When you see the ingredient list, you won't believe that something so easy WILL taste so good!!!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins


1 small can of pure pumpkin
1 box of Spice cake mix
1 cup of water

Baking directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix the above ingredients in a big bowl
3. Spray your muffin liners with Pam and then fill each muffin liner approximately 3/4 full
4. Bake for about 20 minutes (I use the tooth pick test-if it comes out clean, the muffins are done)
5. I let them set about 5 minutes before serving, BUT I have eaten them immediately after pulling them from the oven because they are just that good!!

Here is the finished product. I have also taken mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and sprinkled them on top of the muffins prior to baking. Another idea I've contemplated is adding a small amount of sweet potato baby food to the mix-this would boost the nutritional value and wouldn't change the color or taste of the muffin.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday

Everytime I see this picture by Mary Englebreit I giggle because it reminds me of my son. I see him sitting on this rock along side his pet frog-first because he really does make this face, and second because he really did have a pet frog that he loved dearly. In the back ground are Peris and Ella playing with their toys-and in their play they have asked Michael to be their prince. Little does he know that in his "prince-dom" there is no ruling because the girls have taken charge yet again!! He is along for the ride in their imaginary world, and while it is fun....he is looking up towards the sky and wishing that there was just a little bit more teststerone in his household. He is loved, but he is outnumbered!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Showing gratitude

This year I decided that we were not going to skip the month of November-seriously!! I am guilty of going from Halloween to 100% Christmas holiday spirit on November 1st. In doing that, I always loose a great opportunity to teach my kids the art of Thanksgiving-a beautiful prelude to the holidays!! I saw some great ideas that have been posted but felt like I wanted something concrete-something that we could look back on and enjoy as the kids get older-hence the Gratitude Journal. I created the one below for under $3!! How is this going to work? Tonight at dinner I am going to present this to my family with the explanation that November is a month to give thanks (perhaps this will cut down on the "gimme" attitude that we all-yes I am included here-get when the season kicks in to high gear). Each night at dinner the journal will come out and each of us will have the opportunity to write down things that we are thankful for. I am going to suggest that we all participate, fully knowing that the more verbose (Ella) will want to write a book of thanks and the less interested (Peris) will cringe at having to participate at all. Hey, it's a family thing!!

Maybe this year we can focus on what we have and it will take our eyes off of what we want. Maybe this year we can grab a hold of this idea of gratitude and let it spill over to the other 11 months of the year. Maybe this year we can begin to see clearly how much we have and see that what we have has very little to do with things but with the people that we love.

My color scheme-a pretty paisley, matching leaves, a burnt orange and a blue-gray

Accent ribbon is a brownish/auburn with a bit of sparkle

I used a cheap spiral notebook with the thought that the pages would be easily turned by little and big fingers a like.

First I cut a strip of the leaf paper to use by the spiral edge of the notebook

After cutting and gluing that down, I traced the larger paisley paper and cut it down to fit the rest of the exposed front cover

After gluing the paisley portion down, I covered the seam by gluing down the small strip of ribbon-it turned out so pretty!!! Very fall-ish.

Emmy and Fiona thought that we should put something on the "boring" inside cover. We used a cutter and made the two circles and I wrote (my handwriting is bad!!) "Giving Thanks Journal" in the front.

Happy giving thanks!!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roasting some seeds

This year we decided to roast the seeds from our pumpkins for fun. It was just as easy as I've been told-and super yummy too!!

First the kids scooped out all of the pumpkin goo and seeds and put the seeds into a colander.

After we filled up the colander, I rinsed out the seeds and pulled out any big pieces of pumpkin that were left in the mix.

We preheated the oven to 350 degrees. Peris put the wet seeds on to paper towels and patted them dry. I sprayed an old cookie sheet with cooking spray and then Peris spread out the damp seeds before giving them a good sprinkling of sea salt (I went back over the seeds a second time so they were REALLY salty).

We baked them for about 30 minutes (they turned golden brown) before taking them out of the oven to eat. Even really hot they were awesome!! Fiona loved them until Derek informed her that the seeds really counted as a vegetable-then she wasn't so sure.

Note: We did make a batch with cinnamon and they didn't turn out well. The salty seeds were the way to go. They were really delish!!


The football player and Hogwarts student (from Slytheran)

p.s. the Slytheran badge and tie are another famous Derek Story creation!

I think Daddio needs to open a costume business on the side!!

Cowgirl and pumpkin (yes she is missing an eye!! Peris wore this costume 11 years ago so it's seen better days!! This was a recycle year-we went with what we had in the costume box)

Henry the cowpoke a.k.a. "Emmy's cowboy"

The cowpoke post trick-or-treating


Once again we had a great night out in our neighborhood. I love going to all of the special houses and seeing the people that have watched our kids grow up over the years. It is so fun for our kids to hear the grown ups "ooh" and "ahh" over their costumes each year. What a great time!!

Punkin Party

Michael grew his own pumpkins this year!

"Angry bird" pumpkin

"Funny face" pumpkin

"Spooky face" pumpkin

"Arial" pumpkin


Poor Derek-once again he did ALL of the carving this year!! The kids scooped out the "guts" but stood back when the actual carving started.

What a super fun afternoon!!!! We even roasted the seeds this year-yummy!!!!!!