A Lot to be Thankful For!

Though I will not be content until my sister and her family join us from Alaska and Whitney joins us from England, I am SO THANKFUL this year for ALL of my friends and family.

This year, I've had more people praying for me and my family then I can comprehend.  Just thinking about the love, support & prayers we've received makes my eyes well up.  Aw shucks... I hate being sappy!

So, without further ado... a few photos from today to show what I am most thankful for...

My biological parents and my pseudo parents.  In this picture, I see 2 people in remission from cancer, I see 3 replaced/prosthetic joints, numerous heart stents/etc, I see unconditional love and support.  I see MUCH to be THANKFUL for!

*note to Whitney, though I did dress my girls in their coordinating outfits on purpose, our dorky parents did it unintentionally.  I consider myself VERY lucky that they happened to match the girls color pallet.  See what happens when you're not here?

Dick insisted that I appear in a photo :)  However, just looking at these 4 people whose DNA matches mine so closely makes me full of joy!

*note:  soon my dad will have a stem cell transplant and thereafter have HIS BROTHER's DNA!  So yup, this might be the last picture of me with both sets of my DNA donors :)

And of course, my tireless farm-hand husband who gleefully shapes our land into his dreamscape... all the while showering our little girls with love and adventure.

(note:  in this picture I see my grandfather's tractor, wagon that I used to ride in, flannel shirt & vest.  My husband LOVES hand-me-downs and it's so comforting to me to feel my grandfather's prescence!)


Melissa and Doug Terrific Twenty List and Giveaway

WINNER ANNOUNCED:  Congratulations #7, Julie :)  
You have one lucky nephew!

I am full of pure excitement for Christmas.  BOTH of my girls "get it" this year.  The excitement is going to be tangible... the temptations to go overboard are already here :)

I love the RULE OF FOUR:  
something they need, something they want, something to read, something to wear.

HOWEVER, I uh, well, uh, ummm.... I can't stick to that!

I WILL limit myself and keep things simple.  But I mean JUST LOOK AT THIS GIFT GUIDE... how can I choose just one?

I just had my professional consultant (Hazel, age 3) look over the gift guide.  As the oldest, she's the easiest to shop for and so I need an AWESOME gift (or two or three) for Heidi, age 1.5.  

We chose this: (ok, I'm pulling the mama card.  She couldn't choose and kept going back to the stickers and I am a little sick of stickers.)

 Ok, perhaps the Magic Mine Wooden Train set is for slightly older kids.  But in this house... we ALL play with the toys and this one will be a hit with those aged 1.5 through 35 ;)

How about it... YOU WANT IN?  Enter everyday on the Melissa and Doug Facebook page as they give away each item from their TOP TWENTY!

Even better, Melissa and Doug are letting me give a Magic Mine Wooden Train Tunnel to one of my readers!

I'm keeping it simple this time.  SIMPLY LEAVE A COMMENT TO ENTER (one comment/entry per email address).
Winner will be chosen on Nov. 30th at 9am EST using random.org.


Leap of faith :: a new journey for me

This past summer, I had quite a few worries about my family, our nutrition  my time, our finances (among others... it was a tough summer).  I took these concerns to the web and kept coming back to one particular website.  Your Own Home Store simply spoke to me.  It's written by a woman who puts her family first and that means providing healthy food & balanced meals all while running her own business.

That website is built around a particular brand of food and survival gear.  Now, I consider myself kind of an expert on food and backpacking gear... I'm out right snobby.  So, I simply read, clicked around, commented/questioned & considered it.  OF COURSE, there is no one local who sells this product and I am way too practical/ skeptical to buy without first tasting, feeling and seeing.  Finally, I contacted Misty (the woman who runs Your Own Home Store) and she generously sent me free samples!

Long story short... my summer blew up on me (hubby mono, me mono, sick father, dying grandfather) and the box of samples sat unopened in my pantry.  UNTIL life began to level out and we planned a camping trip with friends.

"Hmm...", I thought... "camping would be the perfect time to try that freeze dried food!"

Not-so-short-story continues:  I cooked the food.  The food critics I was camping with loved it.  I came home and decided not to just BUY MORE FOOD, I decided to BECOME A CONSULTANT.

No one is more surprised than me.  I want everyone to save their money. I don't want you to go shopping or buy frills.  I am not a natural sales woman.  However...

I DO want everyone to eat healthier.  I want us to get balanced dinners on the table in 1/2 the time.  I don't want us eating food that has been chemically enhanced to travel long distances.  I don't want us throwing away a huge percentage of our fresh produce each week because it turned to slime.  I don't want us to spend sleepless nights worrying that a storm is going to cut the electricity and we're going to loose all the food in their freezers (or was that just me during Hurricane Sandy's downpours and winds?).

So...here I am.  Here WE are!  I'm just starting this journey and I will be sharing it with you.

But you don't have to take my word for it:

Yesterday, my first shipment of food arrived!  I was SO excited!

I didn't want to be interrupted, so I plopped Heidi into her high chair (with her coat still on!) and gave her a HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE.

Then I began to open cans and taste.

AFTER ONE BITE OF FREEZE DRIED BANANA SLICES, Heidi threw her cookie down and grabbed the can!  "More crackers pees" said my little 19-month-old.

TO SUM IT UP:  Heidi preferred eating pure banana (with ALL the same nutrition as fresh) over a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie.

If I've piqued your interest, please HOST A COOKING DEMONSTRATION/ TASTE TESTING.

Perhaps, like me, you need to sample something on your own first... might I suggest one of our favorite snacks (we like them freeze dried, but they re hydrate in minutes if you like them "fresh"):
 Freeze Dried Banana Slices!  (click on the picture to buy from my store)
Try the pantry size can for $11.39 (13 servings)

Freeze Dried Strawberry Slices! (click on the picture to buy from my store)
Try the pantry size can for $9.89 (14 servings)

*Host a party for deeper discounts and hundreds of dollars of free & 1/2 off product!  I am willing to travel within a 2-hour radius of Venango County, PA.  If you live farther, I can send you the materials to host a long-distance party :)