I love any excuse to celebrate… to cook up something yummy and make the day less ordinary.¬†

On Sunday evenings since we moved here in 2000, we meet -come together from our various sporting events and other responsibilities- for family dinner, and it’s usually at a local Mexican restaurant. This weekend, though, my husband and I ate out Saturday night, and didn’t want to eat out again. So when I was trying to think of what to make for dinner Sunday, it occurred to me that Monday would be Cinco De Mayo… the perfect motivation for me to make Empanadas. These babies are labor intensive and require a good bit of time in the kitchen… but if you have a certain 15 year old girl helper, it is also a lot of time for bonding. There’s nothing like a few hours of chopping and peeling and crushing and stuffing to evoke good conversation.

I did post on making these way back in 2009, so I thought I’d repost. Note my sorry little pictures from my blogger blog back then… and yellowish lighting… a reminder that I’ve learned a few things in photography since then. ūüėČ

We also made a modern day take on Tres Leche cake… and it’s as easy as the empanadas are time consuming. I hope maybe you will take the opportunity to try these recipes, spend some time with a loved one in the kitchen and make today less ordinary.

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

*

Modern Day Tres Leche

1 boxed cake mix, baked as instructed in 13 x 9 pan
1 can sweetened condensed milk {fat free is fine}
1 can coconut cream {I used coconut milk*}
1 large container of whipped topping {I used fat-free}
about 1 cup of sweetened coconut {toasted is AWESOME, but as is is fine, too}

As soon as the cake comes from the oven, poke holes in it {all over} with a fork. Mix the two cans of milk together and pour slowly over the cake, allowing it to be absorbed or run off and seep down the sides. Repeat as necessary using most of the mixture {I gave up with about 1/3 of the mixture remaining}. Refrigerate. When cooled, cover with whipped topping and coconut. Serve. {ps: tastes even better on day 2!}

*Note: There is definitely a difference between coconut cream and cream of coconut {the second is sweeter}, and between both of those and coconut milk {the second is thinner}. I only had the coconut milk which is why I substituted, and why I think I had so much left over. Still, tasted delicious.

Read more, and for the meat empanadas recipe…

 

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National Volunteer Month

National Volunteer Month

April is National Volunteer Month. What a great way to spend your month… giving back to the community.

Has anyone ever stopped to help you when you were in need? How did it make you feel? If we all did something to help those in need, we would have a better and safer community and could benefit personally, as well.  Volunteering in your community is a great way to give back, set a positive example, and make a difference in the lives of people around you. It can leave you with a great sense of accomplishment, and has been proven to decrease depression, too. Serving others can boost your self-esteem, self-confidence and life satisfaction, and provide you with ideas for career options by exposing you to different industries and different professions. Volunteer experiences are also great additions to personal and professional resumes, demonstrating experience and proving that you are a team player and willing to give of yourself to the benefit of others.

National Volunteer Month

Finding and committing the time to be of service to others in your community, clubs at school, and church programs might be challenging, but is worthwhile. It might be easier or less time consuming to volunteer in an organization you are already involved with or have ties to.

Volunteers  help support families, improve schools, support youth, or beautify and improve the community.

National Volunteer Month

Listed below are 10 ideas on what you can do to volunteer and help your community.

1. Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

2. Volunteer at a food pantry/bank.

3. Volunteer at the park or other outdoor areas.

4. Volunteer with the programs going on at your church.

5. Volunteer your time to become a tutor/mentor.

6. If you are wanting to go into the medical field, volunteer at the local hospital.

7. Volunteer your time to participate in a race for an important charity.

8. Help out a sick or elderly person with chores or yard work.

9. Volunteer at your local Boys and Girls Club.

10. Help build houses along with Habitat for Humanity.

Volunteering benefits you and your community in several positive ways.  Try being of service to others and see what kind of impact it has on you.

Images via :: Google Images

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10 Tips To Make School Mornings Less Stressful

10 Tips To Make School Mornings Less Stressful

“Where’s my jacket?”

“I forgot to pack my lunch!”

“I can’t remember where I put my shoes!”

“What am I supposed to eat for breakfast?”

“Where did I put my field trip permission form?”

School mornings can easily turn into a complete mess. One small thing can throw off your whole morning/day.¬† The best “getting ready for school” routine begins the night before.¬† Below are 10 things to do the night before school to make the next morning less stressful.

1. Lay out your outfit.

2. Pack your clothes to change into for gym, track, football, basketball, and etc.

3. Pack your lunch.

4. Line up your backpacks and lunchbox beside the door to exit your house.

5. Have all after-school necessities packed.

6. Set out your breakfast dishes and find what you would want for breakfast.

7. Have lunch money already laid out and all permission slips signed.

8. Run and empty the dishwasher and empty the garbage.

9. Make sure all laundry is washed.

10. Make a list of things you need to get done tomorrow before leaving to go to school.

Image via :: Google Images

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Random Acts of Kindness Day

Random Acts of Kindness Day
February 17, is Random Acts of Kindness Day!  What a perfect opportunity to do something kind for a loved one or stranger.  A random act of kindness is a selfless act you do to assist or cheer up someone else.  Take this day to step out of your normal routine and attempt a random act of kindness.  You never know whose day you are going to make.  Not only does the person you are showing kindness to benefit, but you do too! You should feel good for helping someone else!
Below are 20 random acts of kindness ideas to get you started.
1. Send a special friend a gift.
2. Send a positive message to someone who needs it.
3. Donate unwanted clothes, shoes, or household items to a non-profit organization.
4. While in the drive-thru, pay for the person’s food in line behind you.
5. Attempt to park your car further away so that an elderly person or someone in need can be closer to the building.
6. Contact an old friend you’ve lost touch with and ask them how their doing.
7. Give a hug tip to your waitress or waiter.
8. Hold the door for someone.
9. Write an encouraging and uplifting note and then lay it on a random person’s car.
10. Pay for the person’s groceries behind you.
11. Leave some change in an envelope and tape it to the vending machine at school for the next person to walk up to it.
12. Do the dishes or the laundry for your mom.
13. Take a friend out for ice cream.
14. Visit an elderly person at the nursing home.
15. Make a dessert or cook a meal for someone.
16. Help someone load their groceries.
17. Talk to a homeless person.
18. Forgive someone.
19. Volunteer your time to a service.
20. Compliment someone.
~No act of kindness, however small, is wasted.~
Images by :: Google Images

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Fall Fun Challenge

Fall Fun Challenge

Fall has finally arrived and I am ready

for all the festivities that come along with the season.

Fall Fun Challenge

 Pumpkin patches, hay rides, apple picking,

and football games are some of my

favorite things to do in the fall.

Fall Fun Challenge

 Every year I try a new recipe with my girls that is seasonal.

Caramel apples, apple cheesecake bars, pumpkin

cream cheese cupcakes, and

baked pumpkin seeds are some of the things we have made

in the past.

Fall Fun Challenge

And this year, I stumbled upon

a fun activity you may want to try with your daughter

this fall.

Fall Fun Challenge

I was at one of my daughters’ cross country races last week.

It was at a pumpkin patch.

Fall Fun Challenge

 I had taken most of her siblings along to watch her.

While my oldest daughter entertained herself talking to her friend

and my son juggled the small white pumpkins over and over again, my

youngest daughter was eager to do something fun while

we waited for the race to start.

Fall Fun Challenge

 I suggested to her that we should make a fall photo gallery

on¬†my instagram.¬† I had made some in the past with Valentine’s Day photos

and some landscapes.

Fall Fun Challenge

 We took turns all around the pumpkin patch taking different shots. We

were in search of color, lines,

lighting and

texture.

Fall Fun Challenge

 Anything that captured the

Fall theme.

Fall Fun Challenge

 Fall Fun Challenge:

  • Upload 9 photos to your Instagram that you and your daughter took this fall together.
  • After your 9 pics are uploaded, go to your profile and you will see your fall gallery completely lined up.
  • Screenshot your fall gallery (the 9 boxes).
  • Crop as needed.
  • Upload the completed project on your Instagram and hashtag your fall gallery to #fallfunchallenge_pfg to share your project with us.
  • You can also use an app (ie. pic stitch) to make a 9 boxed fall collage and upload the completed project only.

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Selfishness to Selflessness

Selfishness to Selflessness

It’s very natural that kids are born with more selfishness than selflessness.¬† As babies, when they cry we jump to satisfy

their every need (hungry, wet diaper, etc.).¬† As toddlers, they don’t want to share their things.¬† As children in school,

we talk about how their day went.  As teens, their sports, academics, or hobbies (schedules) have their time spent.

Selfishness to Selflessness

These things are a natural part of growing, so how do we teach them the transition from

selfishness to selflessness?

Selfishness to Selflessness

We show them.

We, as parents, are the greatest influencers when it comes to deveoping their habits and behaviors of selflessness.

We teach them by our example. 

When a parent displays moments of selflessness, their child will soon learn to conduct

themselves in situations where selflessness is warranted.  Let them see you modeling empathy,

lifting up and encouraging others, having gratitude, serving others, and showing hospitality.

Selfishness to Selflessness

An easy way to introducing selfless acts of kindness at home could be allowing your child the responsibility

of taking on one of your chores aroung the home.

Teaching them simple expressions of gratitude, such as saying please and thank you to others, are expressions of

selflessness.  These actions become habits your child will carry,

internally, and can lead to bigger actions of selfless deeds into their lives.

Selfishness to Selflessness

Find teachable moments to show them

empathy.

Teaching them to think of others’ feelings before their own…

… finding opportunities to ask,

“How would that make you feel?”

Selfishness to Selflessness

Get them involved in a family affair of volunteerism.  They can help choose which organization the family

helps, making them feel more connected to the cause.  It will show them the joy they receive when they

serve others.  Look for opportunties when you are out in public.  Prompt your child to hold open the door for a woman

pushing a baby stroller or helping an elderly lady load her groceries.

Selfishness to Selflessness

Being selfless¬†isn’t always about volunteering or things you schedule.¬†¬†It’s learning that having a heart for

others is a way of life, not a series of appointments on the calendar.

Show them cheerfull giving doesn’t expect anything in return.

They will be rewarded with happiness for their act of kindness.

Your praise for their actions will nurture their self-worth and encourage them

to be

{selfless.}

keep-calm-and-be-selfless-10

 

 

 

Sources: howtolearn.com, and helium.com

Images by :: Deacon McMillan and Bobbie Odom

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Lean on {Pearls for Girls} Me

“Lean On Me”

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain, we all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow
Lean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on
Please, swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show
You just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean onLean on me when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean onYou just call on me, brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load
You have to bear that you can’t carry
I’m right up the road, I’ll share your load
If you just call me

Call me (If you need a friend)Call me (If you need a friend)
Call me (Call me uh-huh)
Call me (When you need a friend)
Call me (If you ever need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (If you need a friend)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me (Call me)
Call me

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Be of Service to Others

 

Be of Service to Others

Finding and committing the time to be of sevice to others has huge benefits to self-esteem, family, and to the community.  Volunteering in the community, clubs at school, and programs through the church can provide a healthy boost of self confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.

Be of Service to OthersBut, the giving goes both ways. Research confirms that teens who learn early to be social, caring, and responsible perform better in school. Volunteering improves their chances of graduating at the top of their class, armed with critical leadership skills. Studies show that teens who volunteer just two hours per week have higher self-esteem and more resiliency and are 50 percent less likely to smoke, drink or do drugs

Be of Service to OthersSelf-esteem is a measure of a young person’s judgment of his own worth and it is built generally in one way ‚ÄĒ through positive experiences. One of the best paths to positive developmental experiences for youths is through helping others with peers. Volunteerism promotes a sense of empowerment and connection to the community.¬† It provides a natural sense of accomplishment.¬† All you need is {passion}.

Be of Service to OthersBeing of service to others can give teens a sense of pride, identity developement (defining self and purpose), motivate good choices, build positivity, instill work ethic and responsibility, and build confidence in leadership skills. It makes teens feel good about themselves.

Be of Service to Others

Be of Service to Others

Important skills for a future career can be learnt through volunteering, as well as learning to set goals.  Learning to have compassion for others comes with it, along with gaining a great support of lifelong relationships.

Be of Service to Others

Tips for Getting Started Volunteering

First, ask yourself if there is something specific you want to do.

For example, do I want…
…to make it better around where I live
…to meet people who are different from me
…to try something new
…to do something with my spare time
…to see a different way of life and new places
…to have a go at the type of work I might want to do as a full-time job
…to do more with my interests and hobbies
…to do something I’m good at

The best way to volunteer is to match your personality and interests. Having answers to these questions will help you narrow down your search.

Source: World Volunteer Web

Be of Service to Others

There are numerous volunteer opportunities available. The key is to find a volunteer position that you would enjoy and are capable of doing. It’s also important to make sure that your commitment matches the organization’s needs. The following questions can help you narrow your options:

  • Would you like to work with people or would you rather work in solitude?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
  • Are you better behind the scenes or do you prefer to take a more visible role?
  • How much time are you willing to commit?
  • How much responsibility are you ready to take on?
  • What skills can you bring a volunteer job?
  • What causes are important to you?

Be of Service to Others

Where do I find volunteer opportunities?

  • Community theaters, museums, and monuments
  • Libraries or senior centers/retirement centers
  • Service organizations such as Lions club, Rotary clubs,¬† and Food on Foot
  • Youth organizations, sports teams, and after-school programs
  • Historical restorations and national parks
  • Places of worship, such as churches
  • Summer camps and programs
  • Areas of future career choice, ie. hospitals or¬†animal shelters
  • Peer tutoring
  • Participating in community 5k’s
  • Donating new or used clothes to local organizations

Be of Service to Others

Volunteering with a parent or whole family is also a great way to build a positve bond while helping others.¬† Whether it’s stuffing backpacks full of school supplies, camping out together all night at the local Relay for Life, paticipating in a race for an important charity, serving food together at a local soup kitchen, or helping out a sick or elderly neighbor with chores or yardwork…you are creating a lifetime of happiness.

Be of Service to Others

{Volunteer}

your self-esteem will thank you!

 

 

 

Sources: ABC news, Dr.Carol.org, helpguide.org

 Images by: Deacon McMillan and Bobbie Odom

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Frienemies

 

 

From the beginning of time there have been mean girls. I think the politically correct word now is frienemy. Anyway, as a girl growing up I tried to steer clear of the mean girls. Today raising my girls I am astounded and the level of mean! Wow, these girls are loaded with arsenal that we never dreamed. With cell phones and social media venom can be spread in a matter of minutes. I read a book by Vicky Courtney called “Your Girl, Raising a Godly daughter in an Ungodly World”. Great book! She talks about cliques and their dynamics. Here’s her description of a mean girl:

 

PFG frenemy

 

Mean Girls

1. Base their worth on being in control and exerting power on others.

2. Use manipulation and or scare tactics on their friends.

3. They ridicule or make fun of others whenever possible.

4. Constantly on the lookout for supporters who will assist them.

5. Pick on others in order to deflect negative treatment away from themselves.

PFG frenemy 2

 

I posted Monday on what a real friend looks like. Are you the mean girl or the true friend?¬† One of the best ways to deal with a mean girl situation is to be aware of what’s going on with your friends. If you identify it you can deal with it. In her book, Vicky Courtney says that deep down these girls cannot imagine that anyone would ever love or accept them for who they are, so instead, they create a tough exterior that portrays a false sense of self-confidence.

 

PRF frenemy 3

 

Luke 6:27-28 says “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”.¬† By being the true friend you can help both situations. The mean girl will see true friendship and hopefully learn from it and you’ll let a friend who is mistreated know that they have someone to count on.

 

Thanks so much to Erica, Maggie, Megan and my Haylea for the pictures. A little cheesy but gets the point across!

 

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What is your Legacy?

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As the 2013 graduates gathered one last time and celebrated

a milestone together,

the speaker asked them what kind of legacy do they want

to create in their next chapter of life.

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They have all ready created a legacy in high school…hopefully one to be proud of.

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What was your legacy in high school?

Did you realize you left one?

Was it positive?

Did you hurt people just to get a vote?

…..to become popular?

… just to realize it doesn’t matter after high school.

Or, were you the one always lifting

up others?

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Some seniors were asked to write their reflections of the past four

years of high school for the school

newspaper.

All of them had very similar stories.

While learning academics and conquering goals of accomplishments

were apart of their legacy, nothing stood out more

than the wisdom that they gained.

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Through the ups and downs…the most treasured lessons they had learnt wasn’t

Trig or that research paper their junior year.

They learned what true friendship truely looks like,

and that sometimes people change.

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 They learned to accept who they were and not to put their self worth

…into the latest brand

…into what others thought of them

…into if they were popular for all the wrong reasons.

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They found themselves and found their own interest. They found the importance of

having good character even when no one is watching.

They learned not to define themselves or define others by the rumors

that others spread.

They learned to be true to themselves.

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What an amazing legacy,

amazing lessons that these seniors can pass down to

the upcoming freshman.

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 So,

Dear 8th grader,

Dear college student,

Dear coworker,

Dear church leader,

Dear teacher,

Dear Mom,

and

Dear Dad,

When your journey is said and done, whether it be a legacy you will leave

in high school, at work, in the church,

or passed down to your kids,

what will it say?

* Photos via Penny Knight, Tracy Porter, and HCBOE

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