Emma and Vivian were blessed enough to be invited by a friend to Emmalee’s Art-Abration, hosted by Sherry’s Craftastic Cottage, this Art-Abration is an annual celebration event for families of children with special needs.  The goal was for the children to enjoy the gift of art and to build friendships in an inclusive environment and is a part of  Art-Ability, an inclusive art program for children of all abilities in grades K-12. 

Who is this Emmalee you ask?  Well, Emmalee is the daughter of Wayne and Tina, the founders of the Ability Tree, Florida.  And this day is to honor her and the gift from God from she is along with every single other child that He blesses us with, no matter their ability level!!!

Dad took Emma and Vivi this time to the event, so I missed out on the art fun and am telling the story second hand.  But apparently, it was loads and loads of fun!  Emma, Vivian, and all the kiddos there got to make their own paintings, and my girls came home with absolutely gorgeous snowman paintings(as you can see below)!  They must have had a good time because Vivi had enough paint on her in various places that she needed to take a quick shower to get all cleaned up before meeting up with Grandma and Grandpa for lunch (don’t worry, it washes of the kiddos and the clothes!).  Emma said she fun paining too, of course! 

A great BIG THANK YOU to Sherry’s Craftastic Cottage and Ability Tree for a wonderful event that my little girls thoroughly enjoyed and my hubby got to have some Daddy — Daughter time at!!!


Free 8×10 from Walgreens

Looking for stocking stuffers and easy, cheap, Christmas gifts?  This should help!   Use code 8X10FREE when ordering an 8×10 online or in your Walgreen’s app, and it’s free!

Over the weekend we were able to visit the 4th Annual Santa’s Workshop, sponsored by The Inspire Foundation, whose mission is to bring music and the arts into the lives of those with special needs, hosted by Trinity New Life Church, visit lots of fun activity tables that the children thoroughly enjoyed, and see Santa himself!

Sponsored by The Inspire Foundation, whose mission is to bring music and the arts into the lives of those with special needs, we were able to go to the 4th Annual Santa’s Workshop hosted by Trinity New Life Church, visit lots of fun activity tables that the children thoroughly enjoyed, and see Santa himself!

The activity tables areas included “sensory snow,” which actually felt cool to the touch, and we all enjoyed touching and feeling the “snow,” trying to figure out what it was made out of; a station where you made your own snowglobe in a plastic sandwhich baggie; a pipecleaner station where the kids were encouraged to use their imagination and make shapes with the pipcleaners; a fun playdough station; a station where you made a snowman our of construction paper; and more.  There were even GFCF (gluten free casein free) snacks there, a popular diet that helps many ASD children! 

…And then, of course, there was Sensitive Santa!  He and his team of elves were awesome!  Very patient with our entire family, allowing the children a few moments to get comfortable with Santa before the picture taking began.  We all high-fived Santa, and told him what we wanted for Christmas, and Emma told him she wanted a live pig!!!  Oh my goodness, girl!!! The first picture the look a little shocked, but I think the second one came out absolutely perfectly! And I love it!  Thank you, Santa, and the Inspire Foundation for a frameable moment to remember for years to come!!!

Hopi Corn Stew Recipe

Hopi Corn Stew –
A Wonderful American Indian Addition to Any Recipe Box!

Continuing with the American Indian Heritage, I’d like to share one of my all-time favorite recipes with you — A yummy American Indian, spicy, hominy-based, based stew that will warm your heart and on any cold weather day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 6 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 (8-ounce) cans white hominy, drained
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Directions

  • In a large pot, over medium heat, cook the ground beef, turkey, and pork until evenly brown and cooked thoroughly.  Drain and set aside.
  • Add a small amount of olive oil to the pot and add in onions.  Stir and saute until soft and translucent.
  • Season onions with chili powder, paprika, parsley, salt and pepper, and cook for about two minutes.
  • Add chilies and tomatoes and cook for an additional two minutes.
  • Add meat back into pot.  Add potatoes, carrots, and hominy.  Pour in beef broth.
  • Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for approximately two hours, or until potatoes and carrots are tender.

Happy Birthday to My Angel Momma

Yesterday would have been my mother’s 61st birthday if she were still with us on the earth.  Her birthday is always a little tough, even though I try to think about the wonderful memories I have of her and the good times we had together.  But after 21 birthdays without her here, those vivid memories had sadly faded some, but the pain of her being gone is still just as fresh as ever.  So, I tried to keep busy, and that’s easy these days with the kids, the household, et cetera, and I made her favorite cake, pineapple upside down cake in memory of her.  I love that cake, too, by the way, and make it a special manner so it’s not as bad for you as a regular cake would be by substituting pineapple juice for the water in the mix and applesauce for the oil in the mix.  It comes out much moister!  

At any rate, it was a difficult day for me, but I toughed it through, as I always do, and looked to heaven and wished my Momma a happy birthday many times and told her I loved her.  I stayed up most of the night thinking of the good times we had, and how things might be if she were here today.

Happy Birthday, Momma, I Love You!

Thanks and Giving during American Indian Heritage Month – a Personal View

My View on November

November is traditionally, as most people know it, the month of the year, where we remember to be Thankful for the blessings in our lives, when all too often, we forget that we are blessed with so much.  November is also American Indian Heritage Month.  And as we close the chapter on this November of Two Thousand Eighteen, I would like to offer a different, yet poignant view on Thanksgiving than what you are accustomed to.

American Indian Heritage Month

November was first declared American Indian Heritage Month by President George H. W. Bush back in August 1990, and it was a landmark Bill honoring America’s Tribal people.  The Bill and the month aim to provide a platform for the Native peoples in America to share their culture, traditions, music, ways, and lifestyle.  Further, the goal is to Native people the opportunity to express to their community current concerns.

It seems so odd to me that someone would choose to make November American Indian Heritage Month. Although I celebrate Thanksgiving, I celebrate it in terms of being thankful for what my family and I have, not the traditional Thanksgiving holiday.  Especially because what we have come to know as the story of Thanksgiving does not include factual Native American history.  Thanksgiving, has become a period of remembering and mourning for Native Americans, of how a gift of generosity to strangers became theft of land, corn, and the death of so many Native people from disease.

My American Indian Heritage

Since it is American Indian Heritage Month, I’d like to take a moment a share a little about my heritage and how my family keeps the culture and traditions alive.  I am a descendant of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe, which are located in the plains of the North and South Dakota.  I can remember as a very small girl going to Pow Wows going to Pow Wows with my parents, listening to the colorfully dressed men singing and chanting and the deep sound of the beating drum.  The sound was magical, calming to me, even as a child.  The fancy dancers would be walking around or dancing in their competitions – their costumes were amazing and perfectly made, the perfect lines of beads, fringe, feathers, shades of leather and suede.  To this day I still visit Pow Wows and watch the fancy dancers in awe of their costumes and incredible footwork. I enjoy walking from stand to stand, looking and perusing the handmade crafts, jewelry, clothing, knick knacks, art, sculptures, and other items for sale from peoples of various tribes.
 


The Midnight Groom by Taylor Hart

How much would you bet on true love this Christmas season?

After the worst year of his life, Cameron Cruz, owner of the Denver Storm, agrees to a family Christmas cruise with his twin sister and her family. Sure, maybe part of the reason he agreed to go was because it got him out of court-mandated therapy for a week. Still, he was trying to focus on relaxing. He was trying to focus on having fun. He was trying not to look at the reports that came every day from the private investigator’s he’d been hiring and firing for the past year to bring justice to the man who killed his wife.
Isabel Kind was only on this Christmas cruise for one reason–to heal. After tragically losing her husband and son five years ago, she’d been stuck. And she and her therapist thought doing the list of excursions they’d planned to do as a family–might help her move on. When she sprains her ankle and Cameron Cruz offers to help her, she finds herself accepting.
After reluctantly getting piggybacked around by the amazingly strong and handsome man, swimming with the stingrays, and zip lining through the Honduran jungles, she is more and more mystified by this troubled man. Even more mystified that he’s not only helping her physically but he’s also trying to help her emotionally–even if, as he says, he can’t heal himself.
When bad news comes to light and Cameron has to face the past, they are left with a choice–walk away or let the power of grace make them whole.

Grab your copy for just 99 cents today!

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Praise for The Midnight Groom

Grief is real and hard. Taylor Heart does a beautiful job of honoring that pain while showing us Cameron’s way through it. Their story is beautiful with just the right amount of laughter and hope and, as always, grace. A perfect read when you want to cuddle up with a story that will fill you with peace.

The Midnight Groom is a wonderfully entertaining love story that will inspire you to be a better person!

I thought the struggle and the healing felt real. This book was a roller coaster ride for my emotions.

Our Thanks and Giving Tree

Our Thanks and Giving Tree…
So Many Reasons to be Thankful!


This year, for the month of November and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I decided to make a Thanks and Giving Tree.  I wanted to show the children just a few of the things out of the many that we had in our lives to be so very thankful for.  I started with a simple five dollar kit from Target.  I glued it together and painted it all matte black to make it a little fancier than the pressed cardboard it started out to be.  Also, the kit came with only twenty leaves, and I wanted more than that, so I took one of the leaves and some matching scrapbook paper and traced the leaf and made more leaves to use on my Thanks and Giving Tree.

Our Thanks and Giving Tree 

Some of my favorites from the Thanks and Giving Tree…

  • Being married to my best friend and soulmate
  • Having friends, real, and imaginary
  • Mommy and Daddy
  • Grandma’s and Grandpa’s
  • Hugs and Kisses
  • Sunshine ae Beach Days
  • Quality time with my loves

Butterscotch Cinnamon Pie!

Jenny’s
Butterscotch Cinnamon Pie!

…that Butterscotch Cinnamon Pie that Jennifer made was quite good, so I thought I would share the recipe….

Ingredients

  • pie crust (I used a graham crust)
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup salted butter
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup butterscotch chips

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks together until smooth.  Then whisk in milk and stir until smooth.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat, then add the dark brown sugar.  Bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly for 3 minutes.
  3. Add cream to the saucepan mixture, whisking thoroughly. 
  4. Slowly whisk in egg mixture.
  5. Add cinnamon and bring to boil, whisking constantly.
  6. Once thickened, remove from heat and add butterscotch chips.
  7. Pour the filling into the shell and smooth the top.
  8. Place the pie on a cooling rack for an hour and then put into the refrigerator to cool completely.
  9. Serve in slices and garnish with whipped cream.

From our table to yours, I’d like to wish you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving, surrounded by those you love most.  This Thanksgiving, we kept things more simple than we usually do, as the kids have been sick, and I spent the majority of the day yesterday in the Emergency Room yesterday with flank pain from a passing kidney stone a kidney infection.  Nonetheless, I still wanted to put forth the effort and try to make Thanksgiving dinner for my family.

For our Thanksgiving Dinner this year, I made a spiral baked honey ham, creamy mashed potatoes, honey butter glazed carrots, brown sugar basted brussel sprouts, and homemade rolls.  For dessert, Jennifer made for the most part on her own a butterscotch cinnamon pie and vanilla frosted cupcakes.  Everything came out very yummy!  I was impressed, but my body was quite sore afterward.

That’s our table, all set, with our Thanks and Giving Tree in the middle.  I’ll be writing about this tree at the end of November when all the leaves are filled in!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!
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