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Finding your Holiday Traditions

Over the last month or so I have heard the question “what holiday traditions do you have” over and over. And my response was always the same. We don’t have any. Kind of sad huh. Yeah I thought so to. But then I realized (about five seconds ago) we actually do have traditions. They aren’t anything big but still it’s something we always did when we would go to my parents house and there’s no reason for me not to continue them with my little family.

For Hanukkah we would go to my parents. Occasionally it would be at my Aunt and Uncles but 9 times out of 10 it would be hosted by my Mom.  It was the same food every year and while some might complain I think it’s perfect that way. The first course consists of gefilte fish served on a plate with a piece of lettuce, two or three cherry tomatoes and a nice healthy scoop of chopped liver and matzo ball soup. My favorite way to eat my gefilte fish is smothered in horseradish sauce and then I would take a piece of matzo and smother that with chopped liver and some more horseradish sauce. Can you tell I like horseradish sauce? Oh yeah and only the red kind. Then we would have our second course, aka the main course. Brisket, kugel (either potato or noodle), latkes (another one of my favorites) served with either apple sauce or sour cream, and a vegetable. The last few years I had been in charge of the vegetable and I would make my famous green beans.

Food wise I didn’t do anything this year. I’ve been a little bit homesick (shhh don’t tell my husband or my mom) and Brisket is insanely expensive out here, like 40 bucks for a cut of meat, I don’t even spend that much on a pair of pants! And it was the kids last week of school so while we have been doing the candles every night I just didn’t make a big dinner.

For Christmas the kids would wake up and we would all pile in the car and head over to my parents house in our pj’s. It would immediately be gift time because it’s just cruel to make your kids sit and wait while there is a room filled with gifts that they are literally drooling over. After gifts my mom and I would make breakfast. It would always consist of eggs of some kind. We usually rotated between matzo and eggs or eggs smothered in cheese and salsa. And the best part was the cinnamon rolls. Nothing special because this was all about having a relaxing day so we would just make Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. There would also be bacon, sausage and those little square hash browns. I don’t know why but those things are always so dang good.

When I went grocery shopping and automatically went for the rolls, sausage and bacon it didn’t even occur to me that this is a tradition. I was second nature to pick all of these things up. And the same goes for our Christmas dinner. I picked up a ham, potatoes, a ton of green beans, crescent rolls and mustard. That’s just about the same thing my mom would prepare, right now to the mustard which will be mixed with brown sugar for us me to dip my ham in.

So even though this year we wont be spending the Holidays with my family we will be staying in our pj’s all day, grubbing on some good food (even thinking of making some latkes along with mashed potatoes tomorrow), taking a lot of photos, spending all day putting together toys, getting frustrated at all those little ties and screws in said toys and I am sure laughing at each other. If that isn’t some form of tradition then I don’t know what it is.

Happy Holidays to everyone, I hope your holiday season is blessed with love, laughter & light. 

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Change someones life with Samaritan’s Purse

Christmas time has become a time for presents and long forgotten the true meaning behind the holiday. While we as individuals work to keep the true meaning behind Christmas in our hearts and to teach it to our children we can still get wrapped up in the giving of gifts. We are only human after all.
This year I come here to ask you to look deep in your hearts and think about others this holiday season. Samaritans Purse is a Christian based company whose goal is to bring International Relief to those that are truly in need. You can visit the Gift Guide which allows you to select many different options of how to use your donation such as, Teach a child to read, Feed a hungry baby for a week, Rescue children in crisis, Introduce boys and girls to gods world, Hot meals, Clean water, and so much more. 
The gift guide is broken down into eight categories:
  1. Ministry to children
  2. Gifts under $15
  3. Operation Christmas child
  4. World Evangelism
  5. Meeting crisis needs
  6. Transforming Communities
  7. Farms & livestock
  8. More gifts

They have suggested amounts for each donation but you can enter in an amount you are comfortable with if you can’t afford the suggested one or want to break it up and do several areas of the gift guide. I understand that this time of the year can be especially hard financially but this time also brings out the good in people. People wanting to open their hearts, homes & sometimes wallets to help those in need. So this year I ask you to check out Samaritans Purse and how you can help a person in true need.

Samaritan’s Purse is a non profit Christian organization that provides spiritual as well as physical aid to the less unfortunate people around the world. Since 1970 they have helped people that are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, & famine. Their purpose is to share God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.
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Discover Zaarly plus a chance to win $50

*Update: The winner of the $50 Visa Gift Card was Alysa George who commented on RachelFerrucci’s post. CONGRATULATIONS Alysa.*


The word Zaarly has been all over the internet lately. When I first heard of it I had no idea what exactly it was. So naturally I had to go check it out. 

Zaarly (@Zaarly on twitter) is a site where you can search for anything you can think of from companies and/or independent contractors. For example say you wanted to look for someone that could come hang up your Christmas lights because you’ve never done so and are a little scared of falling off the roof. Simply type in what you are looking for, your price range, approximate location and Zaarly will post your listing. If there are places out there that do this you will receive offer in your activity section of your page. 


Not looking to buy anything? That’s okay because you can also do the opposite. If you fulfill a task, service, or have a product that is wanted, you can also make money on Zaarly.




There are some rules of course. You can find them in the Marketplace Rules. As long as you abide by the rules you have the opportunity to make money or find services at your price.



Right now when you Sign up for Zaarly they will donate $1.00 to Feeding America – (@feedingAmerica). But in order for Feeding America to receive the donation you just must click this  Zaarly link. Each donation will represent a gift to Feeding America’s entire mission. $1.00 may not seem like a lot but $1.00 equals to 8 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local food banks. 


Enter for a chance to win a chance for a $50 Visa gift card

  • Sign up for Zaarly using this link (Remember it’s Free & $1.00 will go to Feeding America!)
  • Come back & place your user name in the comments
  • Entries must be in by Dec 15th 11:59 EST

Winners are chosen through random.org. US and Canada eligible. Chances of winning depend on how many entries are received through all posts with this giveaway. Winner must respond to email within 48 hours. Name will also be placed on this post.

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JcPenney Angel Giving Tree Twitter Party

It seems that every year around the holidays people tend to get sucked into the “me” way of life. The excitement of the holidays can do that to some people and no one is immune to it, especially children. But how do you teach your children that it’s not always about what they receive but the meaning behind the actual holiday and how amazing if feels to help out those that may be less fortunate then them.

I will admit this has been a struggle in our house at times. Last year we donated about six boxes worth of old toys, clothes and miscellaneous items to a local shelter and the way our kids eyes lit up knowing what they were doing was helping another child out was heart warming but with kids it’s not always something that sticks with them. It should be a constant way of life. One of the easiest ways I have found of making something like this the norm for children is by making it a tradition.
This year I plan to participate in the Angel Giving Tree with my family. The Angel Giving Tree program is an online adoption program that allows customers to provide children, teenagers and seniors in need with Christmas gifts. JcPenney has made it very convenient for customers to shop, buy and then ship their gifts from the convenience of their own homes anywhere in the country. You can even choose an angel based upon the location, age or gender. UPS has also joined the efforts so you don’t even have to worry about paying for shipping. For every Angel Giving Tree gift purchased through JCP.com the gift will be shipped for free to the local Salvation Army collection center of the angel you have chosen.

This year there is an option to create a Group through Angel Giving Tree. This is perfect if you would like to adopt more then 10 angels say with a group of friends, your company or a church group. 
The Salvation Army and JcPenney have held the Angel Giving Tree for three years now. In 2010, nearly 70,000 angels were adopted online. That’s 70,000 people that were given a gift for the holidays that might not have received one without the Angel Giving Tree. Isn’t that amazing.
 
I will be co-hosting a Twitter party in celebration of the Angel Giving Tree program tomorrow, November 16th from 7pm EST-8pm EST. We will be talking about ways to give back and learning more about the Angel Giving Tree program.

Here are the details for the twitter party!
  • When: Wednesday, November 16th 7pm-8pm EST
  • Hashtag: #jcpangel
  • Prizes: 12 winner will each receive a $25.00 gift card to JC Penneys



*I was compensated by JcPenney but the thoughts & opinions stated in this post are my own*

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Macys Recipe Share Contest

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. 
Well not quite yet but there’s something about fall that just gets people in the festive mood. Whether it’s the changing of the leaves, or the temperature change, or for some maybe it’s the snow. Whatever it may be there’s one thing no one can argue with, and that is the abundance of fall/holiday themed foods around this time of year.
You will hear zero complaints from me on this, I also love this time of year for all of the reasons mentioned above. My favorite being the food. I love to cook and one of the great things about cooking is discovering new recipes.
SheSpeaks has teamed up with Macy’s to help spread the word on their Recipe Share Contest The Recipe Share Contest is a great way to share a favorite holiday recipe you have. Either one you have created your self or maybe one that has been passed down through generations in your family. It is also a great place to discover new recipes and vote for one’s you think might be delicious. If you decide to submit a recipe in the Recipe Share Contest you will be entered for a chance to win $1000 AND to have your recipe featured on Food Republic.

You can submit your recipe and vote starting November 1st and the contest will run until November 30th.
Here is what you need to do:
1. Go to www.facebook.com/macys
2. Click on the Recipe Share tab
3. Submit your recipe
4. Share the contest either on Facebook and/or Twitter
So what are you waiting for? Go enter your favorite recipe, and don’t forget…share share share!
*I wrote this post while participating in the SheSpeaks Macy’s Recipe Share campaign.*
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Mini Vegetable Frittatas

Last Friday while reading through facebook I saw Once a Month Moms recent post about Mini Veggie Frittatas. You see I’ve never actually made a frittata and seeing these little bitty one’s made me think, well those look easy. I could probably to that. So off to work I went. And when I say work I mean cooking. And when I say cooking I mean making an even further mess of my kitchen. 
What I loved about this recipe is the simplicity of it. 
You can find the original recipe here Mini Veggie Frittatas
1 cup of spinach
I roll my spinach and then cut it. You get nice uniform slices and it allows you to cut a lot of spinach at a time.
3 green onions
Diced
8 eggs
 1/2 milk
I didn’t have any milk but had some heavy cream (shhh so bad)
And this is where I went astray from the recipe. I just dumped everything into the eggs. Still came out delish but the cheese settled on the bottom so I was constantly having to stir it before scooping it out. Also if you like uniformity I got some frittatas with no green onions because there are less of those then the spinach.
Pour all of your egg mixture into a 24 mini muffin pan. Cook at 375 for 15 minutes or until eggs are fully cooked.
 Pig out Enjoy
Now I was in a hurry, probably not the best time to cook I know, but I really wanted to try these so I shortened a few steps. While my food did come out good I do not suggest throwing everything in like I did.  Next time I will be following the recipe that way the cheese doesn’t all settle to the bottom of the bowl.
Still my kids loved them and devoured all but six of the little frittatas so that makes it a win in my book.

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Finding hidden treasures in your drafts folder

Every once in a while I try to go through my drafts folder and clean it out. Yesterday I was doing just that when I came across one from late 2008 with no subject. Curious I opened it and man did it bring back memories. 








Looking back at these photos brings a smile to my face and makes me think wow how they grow so fast and boy things have changed in the span of three years.
Just a few examples:
2008 – Back then no one was old enough to be in school. 
2011 – Now the older two are in school.
2008 – Little man wasn’t walking yet. 
2011 – Now he runs, skips, jumps and occasionally walks. He’s three 😉
2008 – Baby girl was barely talking and had only been walking for just under a year.
2011 – Now she sings, dances, run, talks in full sentences and loves to learn.
2008 – My husband had hair.
2011 – Now he’s bald (by choice). Although right now it’s a bit longer, okay not long, more like a bit shaggy, but still I think it’s cute.
2008 – Little man had no hair! He had that little bit on top and that was about it.
2011 – Now the boy has awesome curls. 
Now I am wondering what other treasures lay hiding in my drafts folder. Have you come across any drafts that made you read it and smile and wonder why didn’t I ever publish this?
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Wordless Wednesday-Good morning sunshine

It’s a good things it’s still early because I thought today was Tuesday & if Amanda hadn’t posted her Wordless Wednesday post I would have gone all day thinking it was the wrong day. So thank you Amanda for reminding me of the correct day 😉 
Now onto the wordless part.

One of the great things about getting up at the ass crack of dawn wee hours of the morning is getting to see the sunrise almost every morning.

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Wordless Wednesday-Flowers a bloomin

I may not have a green thumb but I somehow managed to keep these roses alive in our front yard.

And these gorgeous flowers are from my neighbors yard. I have no idea what they are but the colors were so vibrant I couldn’t resist taking a picture of them.

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Take time to relax with Cerra

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I can probably speak for many moms out there when I say I rarely take time for myself. I’m not talking some time here or there to run errands alone. I mean actually taking me time to relax and reflect.  So when SheSpeaks announced they were going to be working with Cerra, a new website dedicated to helping people get those moments back and take time for themselves, it had me very intrigued.

What is Cerra and how can they help me get some me time?

Cerra is all about teaching others to be aware, act and reflect. When you are aware of your thoughts and feelings you can act appropriately with thoughtful intentions and you can reflect on your experiences with positivity. In order to get in the habit of being aware, acting and reflecting they introduced the Seven Intentions.

1. Grounded
2. Creative Energy
3. Gratitude
4. Loving Kindness
5. Courage
6. Wisdom
7. Inspiration

They touch on the universal virtues by using your senses. Cerra offers a variety of items in their boutique to help you getting into the new ritual like tea’s, sensory oils, dissolving notes (which are great in letting go of negative feelings/energy), music, candles, a journal for you to keep notes throughout your day or week and more.

This short video will help give you an idea of what Cerra is about.

They even have this great feature on their page where you can type how you are feeling at that moment and they will give you some recommendations on ways to become more balanced. For example I headed on over there and typed in stressed because what person isn’t stressed at one point in their life. After hitting submit three recommendations popped up.

1. Three deep breaths – “Your breath is a powerful force. Just as it carries essential oxygen into the body, an intentional breath can bring your awareness to the moment as it helps you feel GROUNDED in a secure place.”
2. Sensory oil Grounded“The Grounded Sensory Oil helps create balance in your life. By engaging your sense of smell, you can start to become more aware of your feelings and your ability to shift your moods.”
3. Something from the Seven Intentions: Grounded – “I am becoming more deeply grounded. My roots are strong and are connecting me to my source of security.”

I have to tell you that something as little as stopping for a minute during your busy day to recite one of the seven intentions along with smelling the sensory oil is very calming and it really does help. I am the type of person that tends to be a walking stress ball. A lot of little things get to me and I just let it build which ends up with me being exhausted emotionally and physically. By stopping and doing the deep breathing along with the oil and reciting one of the Seven Intentions has helped me tremendously. It forces me to stop and look at what is going on in this moment and realize it’s not worth getting upset over. This is usually when I use a dissolving note. I write whatever I had been thinking about that was negative and let it go. It’s calming and relieving at the same time.

One thing I really enjoy about being a member of Cerra is the reminder emails. Don’t worry they aren’t annoying or pushy. You get an email once a week with a little reminder to make time for yourself so you can get your “Me Moment”. They have tips on different ways to achieve it and for someone like myself this is exactly what I need. A friendly reminder that hey, take a moment and just be.

 

Overall I am in LOVE with Cerra. I think the site is amazing, with all the tips they offer, the boutique and the community. It is an all around wonderful site for those looking to achieve inner piece and tranquility. 

*I wrote this post while participating in a SheSpeaks campaign. I was not compensated for this post although I did receive samples from Cerra. All opinions expressed in this post are solely my own*

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