Crayola’s Big Colorful Birthday Adventure

Crayola's Big Colorful Birthday Adventure Blessings Abound Mommy

Crayola is celebrating their 110th birthday!  Can you believe it?  Neither could I!  How wonderful that a company that most parents use for the children’s school supplies is around to celebrate their 110th birthday!

The 8 original crayons are throwing a birthday bash at the new fun-omenal Crayola Experience, the world’s only interactive Crayola family attraction. Right now, they’re out on a colorful adventure to spread the news, and you’re invited to join the fun!

Want to join in the fun? You can follow the crayons on their adventure, learn more about each color, and enter to win a trip for 4 to celebrate their birthday and the Grand Opening of the all new Crayola Experience this coming May, 2013!

How you do you get in all the fun you ask?  Visit the Crayola Facebook page and click “enter now” for your chance to be first in line when the Crayola Experience reopens.

The new Crayola Experience features four floors of new interactive exhibits and one-of-a-kind attractions that will bring the magic of color and your child’s creativity to life! The winner will be among the first to experience the fun, along with a three- night, all-expenses paid stay. It’s an experience your kids will never forget – and neither will you!

*Information and product provided by Crayola.  All thoughts, opinions, experiences are 100% my own.

IHOP Gift Card Giveaway Winner

Winner Blessings Abound Mommy

Congrats to: Petite Pilates Pixie

You are the winner of the IHOP Griddle Melts $25 Gift Card Giveaway!  Thank you to all who entered, subscribed, added my button to your sidebar, tweeted, blogged about the Blessing, liked Blessings Abound Mommy Facebook Fan Page, posted on Facebook, and tweeted on Twitter!  If you haven’t already, make sure you’re in the running for my other Giveaways!

Six Weeks With Baby #6

Baby Belly 6 Weeks

If you haven’t been keeping up with me on Facebook, then you may have missed my pregnancy announcement!  I’m currently six weeks along after I miscarried in early July, that is judging from the first day of my miscarriage instead of my cycle since I didn’t have one in between.  We are elated and are eager to meet our little one around April 22, 2013!

So far, this pregnancy has been good to me.  The day before I expected my cycle, I was shaky all day long.  I had been on a candida cleanse and had some carbs that day and at first, I thought that was what contributed why I was feeling weak.  The next day, I was lightheaded for most of the day, which prompted me to test that night after I bought a test at the store.  Sure enough, a positive flashed right away!

So far, there hasn’t been any morning sickness and I’m extremely hungry ALL the time.  I don’t know if it’s because it’s my sixth child on the way (if you don’t count the three I have in Heaven) or because I’ve been eating like a mad woman, but I am MUCH bigger than any of my other pregnancies at this stage and I’m feeling as if I ought to break out my maternity clothes from storage as my clothing is already getting snug on me.  I’ve had a lot of round ligament pain too, which is unusual for me this early in pregnancy.  It does make sense that I’d experience it more when my belly is growing so rapidly right now.

I am following the Brewers diet for this pregnancy for the first time.  If you’re not familiar with the diet, it focuses on good nutrition for a healthy baby and mom with emphasis on 6- 7 oz servings of protein, 2 eggs, 4 servings of dairy, 2 servings of dark green veggies, 6 servings of whole grains, 2 servings of vitamin C foods, 3 servings of fats/oils, 1 serving of vitamin a food, and lots of water a day.  You don’t skimp on the salt either and it is known to help those that are predisposed to preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and toxemia among other things.

I am fortunate to not have any of those conditions so far in any of my pregnancies, but I want to ensure that the baby and I are getting proper nutrition for a healthy pregnancy.  I am trying to enjoy this pregnancy as much as I can and the kids are all so excited to be welcoming a new baby brother or sister this Spring.  In a month, I will finally be able to make my first appointment with the midwife and I can’t wait to hear this little one’s heart beat!

Family Hike At Lazy Mountain Trail

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Summer has passed us by and our family hasn’t had much of a chance to get outdoors before the cooler weather sets in for good.  My sister in law happened to mention on Facebook that she was taking her kids to hike Lazy Mountain and we decided to join her since it wouldn’t be long before fall makes its full appearance in Alaska.  The Lazy Mountain Trail is located at the west slope of Lazy Mountain, a little outside of Palmer, Alaska.  It’s a 5 mile hike round trip and is moderate to difficult to hike.

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Mom Crew

Our good friend, Elsie, accompanied us with her six children.  It was a perfect day for hiking, not too cool and not too hot.  My husband feared that it would rain and we packed rain gear just in case, but we didn’t end up needing the rain gear after all.

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Kids

We took 11 children total with us whose ages ranged from 6 years to 15 years old.  I took my three oldest children with me (Elizabeth, Ethan, and Liberty) since I wasn’t sure if my 4 year old, Molly, would do well on the hike and I knew for a fact that my 2 year old, Patience, would want to be carried the whole time.

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Kids 3

At the start of the trail, it’s pretty strenuous and steep.  The trail was muddy and slick and the shoes I thought would work well for the hike were disappointing and had no traction.  I managed to slip many times and some of the most challenging spots of the trails had makeshift wooden steps that helped out A LOT!

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Kids 4

I would say the most difficult portion of the hike is the first half of the trail.  Once you reach the first picnic table and get out of the tree line, the trail is much more mellow and dry.  Many people turn back once they get to the picnic table, not realizing that it gets much easier after that.  It’s such a shame too because there’s true beauty awaiting the top of Lazy Mountain.

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Kids 8

We were warned towards the beginning of our hike that there was a sighting of a black bear cub in a tree. Thankfully, we never did see the cub on our hike, but my sister in law did happen to spot moose in a valley close to us.

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The kids had a blast foraging for berries and filling their tummies with watermelon berries, blueberries, raspberries, and crow berries along the way.  If we were in the business of picking berries, we would have had quite the berry picking crew and would have come home with buckets full of berries.

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Kids 5

Lazy Mountain Hike Alaska Kids 6

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Every so often we would stop for a breather and take in the scenery all around us.  The view was getting more beautiful the closer we got to the top.   It was neat to see the Matanuska Valley from tippy tops of the mountain.  What a glorious and breathtaking sight it was to behold!

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This was the part of the hike where “mommy panic” sets in and my heart starts beating rapidly.  The top is pretty steep and I almost cringed at every step my kids made on this narrow way to the top and back.  Like a friend on Facebook said, “The name of the mountain is pretty deceptive.”

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We made it to the top (3000 feet high) in roughly 4 hours!  The kids were all such troopers the entire way!  It was a great accomplishment for us since we hadn’t done that much hiking all summer long.  Our trip down only took us a couple hours and by that time, my body was definitely feeling the wear and tear from the difficult hike.  My body aches were no match for a warm soak in the tub and some Deep Blue Rub from doTERRA.  It felt so good to exercise and get those muscles working!

A couple of the kids suffered from some minor blisters on the back of their heels and it reinforced to me just how tough these little guys are.  Like I told someone awhile back, they could rival adults when it comes to hiking and often prove themselves on Alaska’s trails and backcountry.  They can’t wait to hike Lazy Mountain again and what a beautiful memory we made with them, our family, and some of our dearest friends in God’s majestic creation!

Dip Netting In The Kenai River

This past July, it was time to fill our empty freezers with a year’s worth of salmon.  Thankfully, as Alaskan residents, we are able to take advantage of subsistence fishing.  Our family usually dip nets in the Chitina River, but this year I decided to tag along with my Mom and try the Kenai River for the first time.

Salmon Dip Netting Kenai River 1

When we went out on our first trip down to Kenai, Alaska, it was pouring rain the entire time.  I didn’t mind it so much as it was fairly warm out and was wearing layers underneath my rain gear and waders.  Now, it had been a few years since I have actually dip netted salmon due to having babies and all so it took all the strength I could muster to keep the net in the water and scoop up the salmon into the boat.

Salmon Dip Netting Kenai River 2

We started out on the water at 6:30 am that morning and didn’t get out of the boat until close to 2 pm with only a banana and yogurt in my tummy.  I did try to eat a Larabar while we were on the river to help with my low blood sugar, but it didn’t settle well with my stomach.  By 2 pm, it was time to switch my spot on the boat with my sister since we could only feasibly fit a few people on the Archilles rubber boat at the same time and someone would have to keep an eye on her children while she was out.

Salmon Dip Netting Kenai River 3

By the time they got back to shore around 6 pm that night, we had only 62 salmon.  Split among our three families, it was roughly 20 salmon each, way less than our limit.  My brother in law was too tired to go back out and we had two damaged nets so we never did go back out during that trip like we originally had planned.  Even with only 20 salmon to add to our freezer, we were still thankful for the provision the Lord has provided our families with!

Salmon Dip Netting Kenai River 4

We thought that it would be our only dip netting trip of the season since we are extremely busy with getting our start up company going.  Not even a week later, my Mom announced that my Dad and her were headed back down.  Since salmon is a big staple in our year round meals, we made the time to join them for a last attempt to fill our freezers with salmon.

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This time, my husband was able to make it down with us!  We haven’t been out together alone in ages so it was wonderful to be spending some one on one time together.  I was so thankful that my best friend and love was able to accompany me on this salmon dip netting trip!

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For hours, we experienced some slow times.  My Mom would rest in between the rare times fish would swim into our nets.  We were almost concerned she’d fall asleep right there!

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My Dad kept being optimistic that we would soon get a big school of salmon in and we wouldn’t be going home disappointed.  The day was nice so it was much more relaxing than the previous trip where we were caught in the rain pretty much the entire time.

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Disappointed we were not!  Not too long after the dry spell, the salmon were coming in!  When they first came running through the river, our boat was the only one netting them left and right.  The other fishermen were wondering what we were doing different.  Then it seemed the whole river was full of salmon and I didn’t spot a boat in the water that wasn’t pulling in salmon!  There was so much action that to be efficient, my Mom and I were pulling in the fish while my husband and Dad would tag team to get them out of the nets and clip their tails.

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It didn’t take long to fill our cooler and our boat!  It was hard to walk around the slimy salmon by the time we caught our limits.  We were so overjoyed that we wouldn’t be going home empty handed or short of our limit.  We thanked the Lord for the bounty we received and how it would nourish our family’s bodies all year long!

We are so excited of all the salmon dishes we’ll be able to partake in, not to mention making some fresh, smoked salmon!!!  We will definitely be heading down here again next year!!!

Wordless Wednesday: Enjoying Our Last Summer Days At The Park

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve participated in WW.  Between helping my husband with our start up business and catching up with my kids, I haven’t had much time to share as much.  As Summer is quickly ending, we have been making several trips to different parks in our area before fall arrives with its crisp, cool air and gold leaves.  The picture below shows my kids at Lucas Park in Palmer, Alaska, enjoying one of my most favorite things I liked to do at the park as a child.

Kids Park Alaska Blessings Abound Mommy

You have NO idea how much I’ve missed this cute bunch!  I declare I’m not fit to be a working mother.  The few months I’ve had without them were miserable and now I’m making the most of their time back at home.  I am officially a full time mother again and look forward to the homeschooling year ahead!

Happy WW!  Leave your links below so I can stop by and visit!

McCormick Look Book And Blueberry Muffins Recipe

mccormick look book

McCormick Look Book For Spring Recipes

It’s no secret that cooking is one of my main passions in life.  I can spend countless hours perusing recipes and I love trying out new recipes all the time.  When I put together my weekly menu, I often look to the internet in hopes to find meal ideas that will become part of our regular rotation of family favorite recipes through out the year.

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One of the brands of spices I can always count on to bring me good results in the kitchen is McCormick.  They’ve recently launched the McCormick Look Book that showcases recipes made with McCormick products.  Since it’s springtime, they’ve got plenty of Spring recipes that will perk up your weekly menu and through the Look Book, you can collect the recipes you’re interested in to make your own look book (virtual cook book).  All you need to do to save a recipe to your McCormick Look Book cookbook is to click on the heart (it will turn red like pictured below) and it will automatically add it to your own Look Book!

McCormick Look Book Blessings Abound Mommy

I really like this feature as it compiles all the recipes I’m interested in trying out in the future which saves me time when it’s time to make that recipe.  I no longer have to bookmark all those recipes individually and there’s a drop down box so I can sort each recipe by category.  This Look Book has an easy to organize format that simplifies my weekly menu process and it does so beautifully.  The pictures make all the recipes look so good and I have several that I’ve included in my weekly menu for the next two weeks.   I also like that I have the option to share recipes with my family and friends through email, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

McCormick My Look Book Blessings Abound Mommy

 

One of the first recipes I tried through the McCormick Look Book was their version of Blueberry Muffins.  I had a lot of Alaskan wild blueberries in my freezer to use up and there couldn’t have been a more fitting recipe than that!  I also incorporated many of the McCormick products that were sent to me and my kids could hardly stand waiting for these goodies to get done as they helped me bake them.  I’ve included the recipe below just in case you’d like to give it a try yourself! Smile

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McCormick Look Book Blueberry Muffins Recipe

Recipe type: Breakfast, Brunch
Author: McCormick
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Cinnamon, Ground
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper baking cups. Set aside.
  2. Mix flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Mix sour cream, milk, oil, egg, orange peel and vanilla in medium bowl. Add to flour mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Batter will be thick and slightly lumpy.) Gently stir in blueberries.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full. Mix 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over muffins.
  4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean. Serve warm with Honey Butter, if desired.

 

These blueberry muffins were a big hit with my kids.  They scarfed down 2 dozen blueberry muffins in the span of two days.  I can’t wait to try many more of the recipes from the McCormick Look Book and plan my weekly menus around some of their amazing looking recipes!  You ought to give the McCormick Look Book a shot yourself.  You won’t be disappointed!  You can find several spring baking recipe ideas here: http://bit.ly/HosWp1 or http://bit.ly/HguVOm.

*I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for McCormick. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Wordless Wednesday: Naughty Puppy

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Do you see this guilty expression on her face?  That’s because she knows the couches and chairs are off limits!063Aha, naughty, naughty pup!  That cute face will only work for so long…

Molly Bella Blessings Abound Mommy

It’s amazing how quick she’s found her way into our hearts and has become part of the family, naughtiness aside. Winking smile

Happy WW!  Leave your links below and I’ll stop by!

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Soup

I love preparing soups as meals for my family.  Most of the time, it can be done with one pot and is a one dish meal packed with nutrition and often, I make enough for leftovers so that they’re convenient, tasty lunches through out the week.  One type of soup that I had recently for the first time was chicken broccoli cheese soup that we had during an “American Girl” tea party.  It was so delicious that I had three bowls of it and was determined to make some at home.  This is my version of the chicken broccoli cheese soupthat my whole family eagerly ate up and enjoyed!

Chicken Broccoli Cheese Soup Recipe Blessings Abound Mommy

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 15
Ingredients
  • 1-1/4 cup butter, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 lbs. chicken breast, cubed
  • 4 heads of broccoli, chopped
  • 4 carrots, grated
  • 32 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. In a medium pot, sauté the onions and garlic in 1/4 cup butter over medium heat until onions and garlic are soft and translucent. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt 1 cup butter over medium heat and stir in flour until well blended and thick. Gradually whisk in milk, heavy cream, and chicken broth.
  3. Add chicken breast cubes, broccoli, and carrots to the milk mixture. Cover pot with lid and let simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Stir in grated cheese until melted and heated through. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
Notes

This soup can be easily halved for smaller servings.