Behind the Pretty Pictures…

Every once in a while I like to keep it real with my readers.  I LOVE for my blog to be a place of inspiration.  It is a happy place for me, where things are pretty and my house is clean, but I am afraid that sometimes it can leave others with an unrealistic expectation about what my life really looks like.

family 13 So, I like to take the opportunity to give you a real behind the scenes look at our REAL everyday life.  We are just like every other family out there…busy and LIVING in our home.  I try to keep my home very clean with little clutter, because it makes me happy and I function better and am happier in a clean environment.  But sometimes it can get really messy with 7 people going in different directions with different schedules.

family 4_edited-1 We are busy with homework, projects, sports activities, church responsibilities (I teach the music to the children ages 3 to 11 in Primary and my husband teaches the young men ages 14 and 15 which also includes a weekly activity).

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I tend to get creative in spurts and my office usually reflects when I am in a creative phase and most often ends up looking like this!  It can stay messy for a while, until I get so frustrated at the condition of the room (or a visitor is coming), that I clean it up.  As a family we try to do a “10 minutes clean up” where everyone goes from room to room picking up and putting away as much as we can in that 10 minutes.  It is amazing how fast we can pick up the clutter.

family 1_edited-1 Sometimes, mornings come way too fast and I just roll out of bed to wrangle the kids before school.  Sometimes I wear my pajamas while driving the carpool while silently praying I don’t get in an accident or a flat tire.

family 11_edited-1 I am failing at my food allergy diet that is so strict it gives me anxiety to think about, let alone manage.  With intolerances to gluten, dairy, soy, bakers yeast, peanuts, tomatoes, and corn, it is overwhelming at times…but I am getting better.

It has been difficult to feed my family and then feed myself.  I am a work in progress.  I am still struggling to fully recover from my foot injury 9 months ago and get frustrated that I was unable to run some scheduled half marathons this past year.

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Our weekends are spent working on projects or following the kids around to their various events and activities.  But we love it and we are really enjoying this phase in our family.

family 14We tackle messes that seem to happen over and over again… The kids are either the best of friends or picking fights with each other… And the Barbies…they are always naked…always.  And the buckets of toys…always dumped…always!

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We seem to collect piles at the top of the stairs of random things.  They stay there until I can’t stand looking at them for one more second.

family 8 Trails of Cheerios always seem to find their way back onto my newly swept and mopped floors…EVERY. SINGLE. TIME!

family 7 One or more rooms in my home are torn up again for one more project.  But we are getting REALLY close my friends!!  After 11 years of working on our home…we are getting close to being “finished” (I like to use that term loosely haha).

family 6 And…the laundry!  Ugh…the laundry…piles and piles of laundry.  A mountain of laundry that never ends.

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So….just because I share a lot of the great things that are happening in and around my home, doesn’t mean that we are living a perfect life behind the screen.  Life is messy.  People are complicated.  We have problems and worries.  We make mistakes as parents and our children are not perfect.  We are just like you.

I just prefer to have a peaceful, clean and happy place on the internet that I can come to that brings me joy.  And hopefully, you are finding things here that you are enjoying too.



Current Crushes

In the past, I have shared with you some of my current obsessions (here and here).  It has been a while, so I thought it would be fun to give you an updated version.  Now…just so you know…this is NOT a sponsored post.  I am sharing these with you because I genuinely love these products and spend my hard earned money on them because I really do love them!

And after I share with you…I would LOVE to know what some of your current obsessions are…so please share them in the comments below!

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 Grapefruit

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It is soooo good right now…So good in fact that I have been peeling and eating it like an orange!  I also LOVE the smell of Grapefruit, and well…anything Citrus! I love anything that has a clean, fresh smell.  Doesn’t it make you feel happy?  And right now, with the weariness of winter still lingering…I could use a little induced happiness!

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Curling Wands

CHI Air Texture Ceramic 1-inch Curling Wand

I love curling my hair with these curling wands.  Have you tried them?  I love the soft waves they give your hair.  If I curl my hair with one of these, I can go two more days without curling my hair.  I shower daily, but don’t have to wash my hair…just brush it and go!  I LOVE that!  I use a tourmaline 1 inch wand that I bought at Sally Beauty Supply.

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doTERRA Hydrating Cream

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I LOVE this face cream! Like…LOVE!! I use it both morning and night and LOVE the way my skins feels.  I swear my face looks brighter and my skin is clearer.  I have even stopped wearing a base most days because I feel like my skin tone is more even toned.  Coincidence?  I am not really sure honestly…but I LOVE it and recommend it to everyone I talk to!  I even started my teenage son and husband on it!

You can order it from Julie Crowell.  Contact here at:

 [email protected]

DoTerra’s Essential Oils

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Honey Crisp Apples

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BEST. APPLE. EVER!!

Enough said!

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Tufted Furniture

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In LOVE with tufted furniture! Do you like it?  I have loved this trend for a long time and feel like it will always be something I LOVE!  And…the blank picture frames in my family room are not a creative statement…just an unfinished project! Sigh…add it to a long list!

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Hummus

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I love me some fresh pita bread and homemade Hummus.  My favorite lunch consists of pita bread & hummus with a fruit or a vegetable.  So, so tasty!

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Chili’s Chips & Salsa

I love Chili’s thin tortilla chips and their salsa!  After much deliberation…I feel like these have come out on top as my favorite Chips and Salsa…edging out my former favorite of Los Hermanos (during our early years of college and marriage).

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Vintage Milk Bottles & Glass Jars

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All of you, if you have been following along for a while know how much I love glass jars.  I am kind of obsessed with them and use them a lot for different holiday projects.  We also love to drink out of them at home to make things a little more fun.  I have a couple of vintage milk bottles too that I have displayed in my kitchen hutch that are fun for me to use in photo shoots.  They make me happy…is that weird?

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Pebble Ice

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I LOVE  me some pebble ice.  LOTS of pebble ice or regular ice, but pebble ice is my favorite.  I like to fill my drink glass 3/4 full of ice.  I also like to drink through a skinny straw…even when I drink my water, it always tastes better through a skinny straw…but it has to be skinny.  I do not enjoy fat straws.  If a fat straw is the only option…I would prefer to drink it without a straw.  What about you?

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Polka Dots

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I love anything with Polka Dots…especially cozy pajama pants.  But really…if it has polka dots on it…I will automatically be drawn to it.  They also remind me of my sweet Grandma! She always wore polka dots too.

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So what about you? What are some of the things you are crushing on right now?  Do we have some of the same?  I would love to hear about them!



Life is in the Moments

*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Hallmark.  All opinions and statements are my own.

Just a few weeks ago we spent some time with my parents, siblings and all of our kids…it is quite the crew.  For Christmas the past few years, we decided to forego giving gifts to our extended family members.

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With the money we would have spent, we use for spending time and doing activities together.  It has been such a great decision.

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Don’t you get sick of all of the “stuff”?  I know I do…especially at Christmas time.  We are really trying to take the focus off of the “stuff” and focus on “doing” and “being” together.  We spent some time tubing, playing in the snow, swimming, playing games and just hanging out.

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And you know what?  These seemingly ordinary activities are the very things my kids WANT to be doing.  They are building relationships with those who mean the very most to them….

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They are learning how to get along, play fair, have fun, be silly, be loved, love and sometimes learning how to say your sorry and forgive someone you love.

Christmas 2013 e And hopefully, they are learning that these seemingly ordinary moments are what make life so special.

 

What do you do in your everyday life to pause and make emotional connections with those around you?

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Hallmark wants to help you celebrate the moments that don’t happen every day, but could happen any day…the ones you’ll remember for years.

The special moments buried within the traditional holidays and occasions.  The “us” moments.  They’re memorable.  They’re spontaneous and perfectly, imperfect unplanned moments.

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Happy New Year from Hallmark! Share how you’ll create memories with your family in the new year. Visit Hallmark.com/explore for their full product line and special offers. Life is a special occasion so celebrate!

**This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hallmark. The opinions and text are all mine.


Fight the “Fat-Talk”

*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Special K, however all statements and opinions are my own.

A couple of weeks ago I shared with you some thoughts I had about how we women sometimes participate in damaging self “fat-talk”.  I love this campaign and feel like it is so important to be kind to ourselves.  As Women and Mothers, we wouldn’t let our children or others talk meanly to each other…like the way we can sometimes “fat-talk” ourselves.

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I was so happy with the response from many of you.  I actually was pulled aside by several of my readers, who I personally know after posting the original article.  We could all relate on some level to feeling like we struggled sometimes with have a positive voice within our heads.

One of my friends, a beautiful and creatively talented artist, shared with me this beautiful piece of artwork (above) that she created right before reading about Special K’s “fat-talk” campaign on my site.  I love that it fit in so perfectly with this beautiful and empowering campaign.  She graciously let me share it with you.

Women can have such a powerful influence for good on others.  Whether it is through their children, their families, and over future generations.  We need to be the change we desire to see in ourselves and in the women and girls around us.

As the mother of three young impressionable girls, I realize how vital it is to not pass negative tendencies down  to them.  I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable in their own skin.  I want them to be proud of their uniqueness and to embrace who they are.  And I need to be the one who sets the example.

I have realized that sometimes we can let the negative talk interfere with how we interact with our families and it may keep us from being involved in fun activities with our children and friends.  I have made it my New Year’s Resolution this year to focus on getting healthier in mind, body and spirit and focusing on the positive in my life.

So I am saying SHHHH! to the “fat talk.”  I hope you will join me in supporting Special K®  in their fight against “fat talk.”

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As a partner to women along their weight management journey, Special K offers many delicious, guilt-free products, including snack and breakfast options that provide protein and fiber. Women can also visit www.FightFatTalk.com to help SHHHHut down Fat Talk (#FightFatTalk).


Shhhut Down The Fat Talk

*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Special K® .  However all opinions and statements are my own.

Do you put yourself down?  Do you bully yourself in your thoughts about your body?  Would you say to someone else what you say to yourself?

I have done a lot of thinking about this over the last few days and realized that I am guilty of “fat-talk” more often than I thought. It was an eye opener and actually made me really sad.

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There are a few moments in my life that I can look back on and remember with clarity the exact thoughts and feelings I had as if it were yesterday…

One of those times, a member of my family made an innocent comment about me having sturdy legs.  We grew up backpacking, and so the comment was well intentioned and actually meant as a compliment.  But, I was a young teenager and like most girls that age, I was dealing with normal body insecurities.  In my teenage head, I understood that to mean that I had “fat” legs.  Isn’t that so sad?

At the time, I was not old enough or mature enough to understand that there is a big difference between muscular, athletic legs and being overweight.  I was a normal and healthy teenage girl with an athletic build.  I should have been embracing it and not feeling self conscious about it.  Sadly, for years…and well into adulthood I felt self conscious about my “fat legs”.

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Me in 8th grade Spanish class

I have been and will always have a curvy, athletic build.  My 5’ 9 inch frame is never going to be petite.  I am never going to have stick straight legs….ever…no matter how many carrots I eat.  I am just not built that way.

Even now, an adult woman, I still sometimes find myself involved in  “fat-talk” within my own head and when talking with other women.  Sometimes I joke about it, especially with my recent food allergies and the toll it has taken on my physical body.

I realize just how self-deprecating and damaging this “fat-talk” is and the negative impacts it can have on our overall health and self esteem.  And as the mother of three young impressionable girls, I realize how vital it is to not pass this down  to them.  I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable in their own skin.  I want them to be proud of their uniqueness and to embrace who they are.  And I need to be the one who sets the example.

So I am saying SHHHH! to the “fat talk.”

If I have learned one thing this year with my food allergies, it would be that being healthy is and feeling good is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.  If we are feeling down about ourselves due to our own bully talking…how can we help to uplift our children and others?

I am currently 40 years old, which means that for one quarter of my life, my body has been growing and nourishing another precious human life. If you are counting, that is approximately 8.9 years, 3,175 days, or 86,200 hours, 5,172,000 minutes that my amazing physical body has been working to sustain life.

I WILL wear this body with pride.  It has given me 5 amazing blessings.

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Birth of my 5th Baby

This curvy, athletic body has carried me through the highs and lows that comes with living, carried me on some beautiful hiking trips with my family, allows me to enjoy a day on the slopes with my family, endured a couple of half-marathons and the hours of training that entails, and it allows me to enjoy my everyday life moments.

I hope you will join me in supporting Special K®  in their fight against “fat talk.”  Special K® has shown that positivity is important to weight management success and have found that 93 percent of women Fat Talk.  Fat Talk is contagious – and it’s weighing women down.

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As a partner to women along their weight management journey, Special K offers many delicious, guilt-free products, including snack and breakfast options that provide protein and fiber. Women can also visit www.FightFatTalk.com to help SHHHHut down Fat Talk (#FightFatTalk).

I LOVE how Special K® is focused on living a healthy life.  I believe that they are creating products that help us achieve the healthy goals we set for ourselves.  Will you join us by saying SHHHHH! to the “fat-talk”?  We need to shut it down!


For more information about the challenge you can visit Special K®.



Favorite Things Giveaway

After the smashing success of last year’s Favorite Things Giveaway, we are back for another round. That’s right-we have gathered up our favorite things to give away, and YOU have the opportunity to win them! Not only is this giveaway a fantastic way to drum up gift ideas for anyone and everyone on your list this year, it is a great Wish List Idea Generator for yourself as well. Every single giveaway basket is chock full of fabulous, tried-and-true, favorites and gift ideas. Even if it’s a treat, always fun to give to a friend with a note that says, “Enjoy one of my favorites” for Christmas, birthdays, or just because.

To enter-

  • Check out the gift collage below
  • Scroll to the bottom to see the details for MY favorite things giveaway
  • Enter to win my gift basket at the giveaway below
  • HOP to all of the other sites to enter to win their gifts!
  • Look around and enjoy the sites of the creative bloggers–they will not disappoint!
  • *Note- if you receive an error message, click to the blog’s home page

 

Favorite- Things

 

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Click on each link to view each site, and enter to win their favorite things gift. If you receive an error message, click to the blog’s home page.

1. Bombshell Bling//2. BruCrew Life//3. Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke//4. Click It Up A Notch//5. Crazy Little Projects//6. Diary of Dave’s Wife//7. Eighteen25//8. I Heart Nap Time//9. Kojo Designs// 10. Landee See, Landee Do// 11. Live. Laugh. Rowe.//12. Lolly Jane//13. Love the Day// 14. Lil’ Luna//15. My Sister’s Suitcase//16. NoBiggie//17. Or so she says…//18. Six Sisters Stuff//19. Something Swanky//20. Tatertots and Jello//21. The 36th Avenue//22. The Dating Divas//23. The Girl Who Ate Everything//24. The Idea Room//25. The Pleated Poppy// 26. Thirty Handmade Days// 27. Tidy Mom // 28. Your Homebased Mom// 29. A Pumpkin and a Princess

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So…let’s talk details!  And…just so you know…this is NOT a sponsored post and these are all items that I really truly LOVE!

1.  Trader Joe’s Coconut Body Butter

2.  Footie Socks from Pick Your Plum (gray and black stripes)

3.  24 pack of multi-colored Baker’s Twine

4.  Smash Book

5.  Divergent by Veronica Roth

6.  Rummikub Game

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7.  Great Harvest Bread Co. Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

8. One Colored and One Pattern Scotch Tape

9.  Red and White Polka Dot Candle

10.  Red Berry Pine Garland

11. Multi-colored  Infinity Scarf

12.  Red and White Polka Dot Rubber Scraper

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Now it’s time to enter to win my gift giveaway!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

**Fine Print: Giveaway ends at 11:59pm (MST) on November 14, 2013 . One winner will be chosen and sent The Idea Room Gift basket (without the basket).  Must be 18 years of age or older and a resident of the U.S.A. to enter. This giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook or Pinterest. Facebook and Pinterest will be completely released by each entrant. One entry per person. Entry includes filling out the Rafflecopter form above. Winner will be chosen using random.org. and will be notified via email within 48 hours of the giveaway closing time. Winners will be announced on the post, not on Facebook. The winner must respond within 48 hours of receiving the email or a new winner will be chosen. No purchase necessary.

Creating Memories

When my kids were toddlers and babies, it seemed like the days were long.  The days were filled with diapers and toddler messes and on those really long days I would find myself watching the minutes tick by until reinforcements, in the form of my husband, would get home to help me catch a small moment of quiet…or a shower.

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Fast forward…or is it slow forward just a few years and it feels like the days are flying by.  I can’t believe how quickly these kids are growing up.

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With the realization that we have only two summers…TWO summers left with my oldest before he leaves the nest, creating memories with my family has become really important!

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Creating memories can be as simple as spending quality time playing games at home or going on a family walk together.  We love to do this as a family, especially on Sunday evenings.

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My kids enjoy being active and so we thought it would be fun to sign up for The Color Run a couple of months ago.  Both my husband and I have done some different races and we wanted to get the kids involved in a fun, low pressure event.

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What do you do to create memories with your family?

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Hallmark wants to know why it’s important for your family to create new memories and commemorate them. Visit Hallmark.com/Explore for product news and special offers. Life is a special occasion.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hallmark. The opinions and text are all mine.

Taste of Israel–Part 1

You guys! I just recently got back from an amazing trip to Israel.  Some of you may have already known this if you follow along on Facebook or Instagram.  Today I want to share with you how this all came about and share with you our first full day in Israel.

A couple of months ago I received an invitation from a group of students from Israel who are part of a non-profit organization, Stand With Us.  They were inviting us on a tour of Israel’s culinary and historical sites, called Taste of Israel.

This group of students spent countless hours raising money, throwing fundraising parties, planning, and working with sponsors to make this trip happen.  One thing I totally did not expect was that I would come to care a great deal about each and every one of the students and the other bloggers.  In 5 days, I felt like we all became good friends…and I kind of miss them…I feel like I left something behind in Israel…like a piece of my heart.

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We flew in and arrived in time to stop off at the hotel and freshen up before heading out to dinner at Haim Cohen’s Restaurant.  Haim Cohen is quite the celebrity in Israel where he is one of the Master Chefs (judges) on the popular show Master Chef Israel.  We were lucky enough to be able to spend a bit of time talking with him and asking him questions.  He was so warm and gracious and welcomed us with an admirable humbleness.  Not at all what I would likely expect from someone with his prestige.  And…the food was amazing!

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photo credit Ally’s Kitchen

(Matan, Kevin, Jen, Ally, Haim Cohen, Heather, Me, Debbi, Shira, and Elad)

After a nice and relaxing dinner and getting to know one another, we headed back to the hotel for a good night’s rest which was welcome after two long flights and a very long day of travel.  We stayed in the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv which has an amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea and Jaffa.

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The next morning we walked along the Mediterranean Sea and over to Jaffa which you can see in the distance to the left, in the above photo from my hotel room.  The Mediterranean Sea is such a beautiful blue color.

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We really enjoyed our Israeli tour guide, Avigail, along with our new Israeli friends.  It was such a great way to feel like we were immersed in the Israeli culture instead of just being “tourists”.  I feel so blessed to have been able to spend so much time getting to know EACH of the students, our tour guide, the food, customs and history of Israel.

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In the above photo you can see the bell tower of St. Peter’s Church in the Old town Jaffa.

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We walked through the Old town of Jaffa and I LOVED the narrow alleyways.  It was amazing to be there and imagine the thousands of footsteps that have tread here for thousands of years of history.

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We were able to see the house where, according to ancient traditions, Simon Peter lived.  St. Peter, regarded as the most important, and spokesman of the Apostles, resided in the house of Simon the Tanner in Jaffa.

(Acts 10 6): “He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side”.

However, the Roman Catholic tradition holds that the house is located at the site of St. Peter’s Church.

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Jaffa is also tied historically to Solomon and Jonah in Biblical stories.

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From the port of Jaffa, we walked a short distance over to Abu Hassan’s for some of his famous Hummus.  Now…I personally am a HUGE Hummus fan.  I thought I knew what good hummus was.  I almost wish I had NOT experienced Abu Hassan’s hummus…because I don’t think they deliver to the states.

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We stood huddled together in the street and shared a couple of large bowls of this amazing Hummus.  I am sure we were a site to see…a group of tourists fighting over every last bit of hummus and pita bread.

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I NEED to figure out how to recreate this at home…because seriously…the hummus I can buy around here is just not going to cut it! You can bet I will be playing around with a good hummus recipe now…especially because I can actually eat it without getting sick.

*Update 11.8.13–I came up with a Hummus Recipe and shared it here: Hummus Recipe

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We stopped by Dr. Shakshuka for a taste of…well…Shashuka.

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Shashuka is made by poaching eggs in a delicious tomato sauce.  You then eat it by scooping the Shashuka right out of the pan with your bread!  You guys…it was so yummy!  I wish I could have eaten more of it…but because I have an intolerance to tomatoes, I didn’t want to get sick…but I for sure couldn’t leave Israel without trying it!

Then…because a lot of this trip was about the different culinary “Tastes” of Israel, we headed across the alleyway to Fragi for some Couscous.

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Couscous is a pasta made from semolina flour mixed with water.  The couscous was then served with pumpkin and carrot.  This was perhaps one of my favorite dishes…other than the amazing Hummus!

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After stuffing ourselves full of goodness, we walked a short distance to a bakery and drooled over the goodness.  Even though we were stuffed…one always find room for some dessert!

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We shared this amazing Kanafeh, which typically in Jerusalem, is a neon orange pastry with a crust of shredded phyllo dough or semolina filled with soft goat cheese.

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So unique and surprisingly tasty!  This dessert can be found in many different varieties depending on which country you are in.  One thing I noticed is that Israel was a melting pot of different cultures and countries and the food is a great mix of many with it’s own little twist.  I was ultimately surprised at how much I was enjoying all of the foods, especially with my darn food intolerances.

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And…surprisingly, I never once felt the sickness and bloating that I usually feel when I eat something I have an intolerance to in the States.  This is something that really surprised me.  I have a lot to learn and feel like it was a blessing in so many different ways to have this culinary experience.

We were able to spend some time browsing the local flea market in downtown Jaffa and then immediately headed over to an amazing cooking class at the Dan Gourmet Cooking School…the first Kosher Cooking Schools.

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We made some delicious charred eggplant with Tahini and some Israeli “pizza” made with lamb (best darn pizza I have ever had…and…made with everything I CAN eat unlike American Pizza)!

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After eating and chatting (two things we had a lot of practice at) we headed back to the hotel for a little down time to digest and freshen up before heading out to dinner at Herbert Samuel.  Pretty rough day right?

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More amazing food…great conversation and an invitation to see the kitchen!  Then off to bed (in my stretchy pants because I ate too much) to get ready for our second day which we would be spending in Haifa.  Stay tuned….

And so it begins…

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…a new school year.  I always love the beginning of another school year for many reasons.  The first being that it marks the beginning of Fall, which is my favorite season.  I love the cooler temperatures and the promise of cool crisp evenings, wearing boots and my comfy sweaters, the fall foliage, soups, and the beginning of the Holiday Season, to name a few.  There are just so many things I love about it.

Don’t get me wrong…I also LOVE summer.  I love spending time with my kids without having to worry about structure or busy schedules.  I love being able to vacation with family and friends, which usually includes: boating, camping, hiking, swimming, late nights, lazy mornings, sunshine and sleeping in.  We always seem to work hard and then play hard. 

But after about 10 weeks, I tend to start craving some structure and organization…

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Five kids at home all day with a few extra friends running through the house tends to become a bit draining on this momma.  The lack of structure also can wreak havoc on our family chores and tends to lend itself to more bickering and boredom.  As a parent…you can totally relate…right?!  (Can I get an AMEN!)

So…when it’s time for school to start again…this momma is ready.  Not because I don’t like my kids or want to be around them…but because this momma needs some structure.  This momma needs some time to hear her own thoughts again without always having to be in “good mom mode”….

A good mom needs time to recharge.  Time to be able to refocus her efforts so that she can put the needs of her children first.  Time to be able to organize the masses and the workload that comes with raising kids.  And this momma in particular needs some time to recharge after being on for 10 weeks straight.

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This momma needs the structure of a new school year to reclaim her brain that slowly starts to get foggy after 10 weeks of constant noise, chatter and some childish bickering so that she can once again tackle the after school madness that occurs from about 3 pm to 9 pm Monday through Friday.

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Back-to-school becomes a time when I can recharge my batteries and become the mom I was on the last day of school.  A mom full of energy bursting with excitement and knowledge of an entire summer with my lovelies looming on the horizon.  The summer we had longed for after the wear and tear of the school,programs, sports and homework madness that is May.  (Can I get an AMEN?!)

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So…for the next two weeks, you will find me basking in “loudness” of the quiet house, willing my “mom brain” to de-fog.  I might not be much help for the next week or so while I unleash the crazy which may include some…or none…of the following: de-junking, organizing, menu planning, Pinterest pinning, wasting time on Instagram, or vegging on the couch in a blissful state vegetation. 

But you can bet, that I will be back and ready to take on this mom gig with full force.  A new momma will emerge.  A mom ready to face another school year with excitement and gusto.  A mom ready to tackle that umpteenth mountain of laundry, cheer her heart out at her 249th soccer game, whip up yet another dinner, while tackling algebra and world history for the 6 people she is enamored with.

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Just give me another few minutes of quiet….and some cooler temps…and this momma will be bringing it once again!

What about you? How do you feel about sending your kids back-to-school?

So…I’ve been a little busy…

The past 3 weeks have been a little busy at my house.  This seems to happen every summer, but I can’t complain…it’s a good kind of busy full of family, friends and fun.  Three weeks ago, my father-in-law flew in and stayed with us for a day.  We were getting ready to head up to a house we had rented for my husband’s family reunion.  We packed up the next day and headed up to meet the family.

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We spent Wednesday through Sunday playing with our fun aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins.  We were all there except for the oldest brother and his family who we really missed.  We are fortunate that all the cousins are fairly close in age which means plenty of fun friends for everyone!

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I love this picture! It pretty much sums up the weekend.  A lot of fun and silliness!  This was the best picture we could get with almost everyone looking at the camera!

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On Sunday morning we rushed home so that we could get to attend our church.  I had to lead and sing with the group of children in our congregation.  We had one hour to get all cleaned up and in the church doors…phew!

After church, we drove my father-in-law back to the airport and sent him back to his home.  Then we unpacked, quickly did some laundry and repacked our bags.  We were headed to Bryce Canyon the very next morning.  My husband had a work meeting with Board Members who were meeting at Bryce Canyon on Monday night for an opening dinner and then all day Tuesday.

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His work is so family friendly and we were welcome to come along and enjoy Bryce Canyon and stay with him in his hotel room.  I had been there as a child growing up in Utah, but my kids had never been.  So we jumped at the chance to make it into a family vacation.

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On Tuesday, while Mr. Idea Room was in his meetings, the kids and I slept in and watched Shark Week ;)! Then we spent a couple of hours at the pool swimming.  We grabbed some lunch and then did a little “shopping” in the fun little souvenir shops.  Just when we were headed back to the hotel we got a call from Mr. Idea Room.  He was all finished with his meetings.  So we met up and headed out to see Bryce Canyon.

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On Wednesday, we headed out to hike down through the tall rock structures, called hoodoos.  We decided to hike the figure 8 loop called Navajo Loop and Queen’s Garden loop which was a 6.5 mile hike.

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The kids did so great on the hike and the scenery was AMAZING!!  We had to climb up and out of the canyon and back down in about 4 times and it was a fairly tough hike on the ups and downs, but the rest of the hike we walked down in the bottom of the canyons.  It was so worth it.  And I was really proud of the youngest who walked on her own most of the time.  My foot…remember my injury here…held up pretty well and was just a little swollen and sore the next day.

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We finished the hike which took about 4 hours and then headed out for some dinner and then drove the four hour drive back home.  Then, I had the next two days to unpack, do laundry and REPACK for Muscular Dystrophy Summer Camp which I have shared with you here and here.

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I started going to camp in 1992 and have been going ever since.  I LOVE it and the kids.  I look forward to it every year.  Next year my son will be old enough to come with me as a volunteer.  I can’t wait.  I am a group leader and in charge of a group of volunteers who each have a kid with Muscular Dystrophy to take care of and be their friend.

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The kids get to be “regular” kids with others who share the same disabilities.  My son will finally be old enough to go and be a volunteer next summer.  I can’t wait for him to experience it with me since he is already such a big part of it.

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We spent an exhausting but fun filled 5 days together with my group up in the mountains, sleeping in cabins.  I loved the new setting this year and had a great group of kids that my co-group leader, Tanner and I were in charge of.  The kids with Muscular Dystrophy are so happy and fun-loving despite their physical limitations and the volunteers are so great to selflessly serve the kids and I love watching their friendships develop and deepen.  By the end of the week we are all best friends.

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Someday I may be too old to do this…but until then, I consider it a privilege to serve them.  And now…the kids and I have one week of summer left.  Time to gear up for school and squeeze out every bit of summer that we have left.

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