Saturday, December 6, 2014

Advent Calendar

When I was small I had the coolest little advent calendar. It had a pocket for every day of December and every day I got a small gift in the pocket. As a child this was the best. As an adult, I don't remember one single small gift that I  got in those pockets.
I looked for years for one like the calendar I had as a child, to no avail. Either they were crazy expensive or wouldn't work for three kids. Then I saw people doing a different kind of advent, one that included time spent together doing things, sort of like a December bucket list. This was what I needed, what we needed. Homeschooling, we do spend a lot of time together, but it's in the house doing school work or just sitting, watching tv or everyone is on a device. This makes us put that away and actually spend time together. I knew I was onto something when one of our days this past week was "go to the Christmas Parade" it was rainy and nasty out so the kids voted to stay home and play a game as a family. As we were getting ready for our game, my son says "this is the best mom" that sealed it for me! I want them to remember things that we did as a family. We often only remember the bad times or the stressful times when you're little.
I've made it my mission for my kids to have a childhood that is worth remembering. One that they will maybe want to continue with their kids, not one they want so badly to change.

My advent calendar this year... I bought it off of, it was a daily deal, I had to assemble it, but it will last us at least one more year.

Here's my list for this year... because we are super busy next week with production of the Nutcracker, I cheated a little. 

Day 3; have a sweet treat
Day 4; Christmas Parade
Day 5; Watch a Christmas movie together and have "junk food" for dinner
Day 6; snowman breakfast
Day 7; have a sweet treat
Day 8; Make snow globes
Day 9; have a sweet treat
Day 10; make gifts for the birds (this goes with our Christmas around the World theme for school)
Day 11; have a sweet treat
Day 12; decorate cookies
Day 13; small gift
Day 14; make cinnamon ornaments
Day 15; make paper snowflakes for the windows
Day 16; make gingerbread men (something my grandma used to do with us and continued with my kids and they STILL remember this. 
Day 17; Tilles Park Lights and sushi (hopefully)
Day 18; decorate cookies
Day 19; St Charles Old World Christmas
Day 20; build a gingerbread house
Day 21; Christmas movie together & root beer floats
Day 22; Pick a game and play together as a family
Day 23; Make Christmas cookies and treats
Day 24; one more day, open one gift and make reindeer food for tonight. 

My list will change from year to year, but what will remain the same is the time we are spending together as a family and hopefully make December a month that my kids will always remember! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Muffin Monday! {Snickerdoodle Muffins}

We got snow yesterday, not a lot, but seriously, it's NOVEMBER.... not the norm for Missouri. Snow makes me want to bake, we have little groceries in the house right now because it's almost grocery time so I decided to make these warm, cinnamon muffins for breakfast this morning. 

Recipe adapted from here

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat your oven to 400*. Grease your muffin tin or line with muffin wrappers. 
I had to pull out my mixer for this recipe, but that's ok. It was faster. 
Cream together your butter and sugar. 
Add eggs one at a time as well as vanilla. Combine 

In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients. Once your butter is combined with your sugar and eggs, stir in your dry ingredients. I had to mash a little to get the flour mixture to mix in. This mixture will be VERY dry. Add your buttermilk, only mix until all is wet and it is combined well. If you over mix your muffins will be tough. 

Spoon into your muffin tin. Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the tops. 
Bake at 400* for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 375* and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. 
Yields 12 muffins. *I only got 9 muffins out of the recipe, but I tend to never EVER get what the recipe says it will yield. Maybe I make mine too large. 

Changes I'll make next time, maybe a powdered sugar glaze so they are a bit more like cinnamon roll muffins. Raisins would be DELICIOUS in these but my son is SUPER picky and he is my big breakfast eater. So maybe next time. 
Enjoy with a large cup of coffee on this cold winter day. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thankful Tree

I've been really bad about blogging, this I know. I intend to get better, very soon. I have been so busy with my photography business, but things are finally winding down and I'll have more time.

So my kids are grateful but I wanted them to be grateful every day. I've learned, if I start my day off with gratitude, that things go much more smoothly. I'm grateful for the good things, so more good comes my way instead of focusing on the bad, the negative and the unnecessary.

With that said, since Thanksgiving is this month, I decided to do a "thankful tree"
Jackson and I went out into our woods and found a good sized branch, we put it in a pot of soil to help it to stand and voila! Every day they write what they are thankful for. I've been pretty surprised, my 9 year old says things like "family" "life" "shelter" my girls... well they started off small, "taco bell" "dance" which it's all good. I want them to be thankful for the little things as well as the big things!

A small photo of our tree from the beginning, I'll update mid month when it has many more thankful tags.

My favorite one so far "being homeschooled" :) 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Type Kids Review| Online Typing Software

Recently I was asked to review Type Kids touch typing software. While my kids are constantly on the computer, my son, who is 8, doesn't type correctly, meaning, his hands aren't in the "home" position and he still looks at the keyboard. So I was super excited when presented with this opportunity!

{ I was given a free membership to in exchange for a thorough review.  was given a free membership to in exchange for a thorough review.}

The company made it super easy, we logged in with my email address and password. The first lesson showed him where to put his fingers  on the keyboard in the "home" position, this is what I call it, that's how I learned in keyboarding in high school. ;) It then took him through a series of exercises typing those letters only in sequence,  along with the space bar. He couldn't move on until the correct letter was typed. He only made a few mistakes and then after that he had the hang of it.  After each exercise he earned coins and unlocked games. Great for a kid who LOVES to play computer games.

I found the website very easy to navigate, we had no problem understanding where to go from the beginning, logging back in was a breeze and took us right back to where we left off.

Only having had it a few days, he did complete lesson 1, it was easy, he enjoyed it and we will continue with the lessons. He is now playing games in the "pirate arcade" which he earned as rewards for finishing his lesson.

Each small exercise took him maybe 5 minutes , the entire lesson took around 20-25 minutes.   It was easy to add into our homeschool routine and didn't take up a huge amount of school time, but enough to get him typing and understanding where his fingers need to be, what key is where, etc.

I liked that accuracy was emphasized rather than speed. He wasn't racing against the clock to complete each exercise but was hitting each key and remembering where it was (hopefully) after that.

  • The course consists of 30 online lessons which take around 25 minutes to complete. 
  • Once J finishes his courses he will receive a diploma from type kids (exciting) 
  • The cost for the complete online course is $89.95

If you want to give it a try as well click here,  no credit card required.

Friday, September 26, 2014

I'm back... Pic Stick and some exciting news

What a busy summer we've had. Alabama, Alaska, Utah and then we went on an amazing family trip to Disney World. We had the BEST time! I'll post a full blog post about that soon with my thoughts on things, some tips, etc. So much fun!

So, first, the exciting news! Five Happy Yolks will become SIX Happy Yolks in May! We are expecting... we're all very excited about this new addition and could not be happier!

So, a company by the name of Pic Stick sent me some of their fun photo magnets to try and review.

Ordering was a snap, you get onto their website, upload your photos in groups of nine (you order in bundles of nine) put them in the cart and that's it. I used some instagram photos but also some that were from my big girl camera. While it took a while for me to receive them, they are based in the UK, it wasn't a horribly long time. I received them this week and I was SO excited!!!! The colors are exactly as my photos look, the quality is great, nice and thick, durable and well, they are just the cutest thing ever!

As a thank  you, they have given me a discount code to give to my go to Pic Stick get your magnets ready to order, at check out enter YOLKS25 in the coupon code spot and you'll get 25% off! A great deal on a super cute product!!! Photos below. :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Muffin Monday {My grandma's Raisin Bran Muffins}

My grandma has made these muffins ever since I can remember. They are comfort food to me, reminds me of her and the days I used to spend with her. After I had my twin girls, we were stationed in NH, she came up and stayed a while to help out. She made these muffins for us... the mix will last up to six weeks in the fridge and they are SO good and SO good for you. And, they are EASY! You just need a huge bowl to mix it all up in and that is it!

My Grandma's Raisin Bran Muffins

Preheat oven to 375*

Dry Ingredients
1 15 oz box of Raisin Bran
3 C of sugar
3 C of flour
2 C of regular oats
5 tsp of baking soda
2 tsp salt

Mix these together in your bowl.
Then combine with your dry ingredients

1 C of melted butter
4 beaten eggs
1 quart buttermilk

Mix Well.
Fill a greased muffin tin about 2/3 full. Bake at 375* for 15-20 minutes.

Store in a covered container in refrigerator and use as desired. After being refrigerated, you may need to adjust the baking time a bit, just watch them after the 20 minute mark.
Batter will keep for 6 weeks.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

It's been a while... & Chocolate Chip Scones

What a busy summer we've had. Not complaining at all... as soon as we got back from Alaska, we had about 8 days and then we left for a family retreat in Park City Utah hosted by Project Sanctuary. What an amazing time we had.... we climbed a rope course, we swam in a hot spring that is inside a crater, we went on a hike and learned a bit about archery, and we fell in love with Park City. The people, the air, yeah, it's a pretty great place. This post shared here

Got home and had a weekend to prepare for school. Yes, we started school on Monday. I am vowing to stay on schedule better with school, work and exercising. We'll see how that goes. :)

The first morning I fixed these little gems. They were pretty darn delicious. My kids argued that they are NOT scones but biscuits. Well, I cut them like biscuits, but they ARE scones and they are easy and delicious!

Chocolate Chip Scones (adapted from here)

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • One (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (I use Kerry Gold) it is SOOOO yummy
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, plus more to brush on the tops
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • sanding sugar for topping

  • Directions 
    Heat oven to 400*. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with non stick cooking spray. Whisk together your dry ingredients. Cut your butter in with a pastry blender or a fork. Add cream and vanilla, mix well. Once dough starts to form you may need to use your hands, I did and I had to add in about 2 Tbsp more liquid to get it all incorporated, so use your own judgement here. Add chocolate chips and mix well. 
    Lay out on flour covered surface, you can roll it out or press out with your hands (I pressed) take a biscuit cutter and cut out your scones. You could also, at this point after pressing, cut into triangles. Either works beautifully. 
    Place on baking sheet, brush with cream  and bake for 12-14 minutes. Once done, sprinkle the tops with sugar immediately upon them coming out of the oven. 

    Serve warm with butter. They also freeze well, I froze half of the batch and my kids had them this morning. Just takes a bit more on the baking side. 


    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    Double Chocolate Buttermilk Muffins|Muffin Monday

    By now you are well aware that my kids love anything chocolate. I can't keep chocolate chips in the house! Therefore, I knew these would be a hit, especially with my chocolate loving son.

    Super easy and cake like, these are sure to be a hit in your house as well.

    Recipe adapted from here with my own changes added

    1/3 c coconut oil
    1 c buttermilk (made with coconut milk and vinegar)
    2 eggs
    1 tsp vanilla
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp baking soda
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 c sugar
    1/4 c brown sugar
    1/4 c cocoa powder
    1/4 c Juice Plus Chocolate Protein Powder
    2 c flour
    1/4 c chocolate chips

    Start by making your buttermilk, add 1 TSP of vinegar to your 1 c of coconut milk (or other milk) and let that sit for about 10 minutes.
    Preheat your oven to 350*

    Grease your muffin tin. Mix ingredients in order. Spoon into muffin pan and bake for 18-20 minutes.

    They are delicious and easy! Enjoy!! 

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Alaska, Operation Heal Our Patriots and Samaritan's Purse

    We got home on Saturday from the most amazing week I think I have ever had. Exhausted and missing my kids, I finally today feel a bit more rested and decided to get this blog post up. Jet lag is real.... holy MOLY!
    So, my anxiety to fly was pretty strong. I was SO nervous, but once we were in the air, I completely calmed down and relaxed.

    We arrived in Anchorage, as soon as we landed I received a text from one of the volunteers with OHOP about where they would be standing when we landed. From the time we landed until we left, Chris and I felt like royalty. We were taken care of, not allowed to do a THING. We took a tiny plane to Port Alsworth (there are no roads in or out) and when flying in, I saw people waving and running to the runway, when we stepped off of that plane, the entire town was there to greet us, shake our hands and thank us. They thanked my husband for serving our country and thanked me for being there for him, for allowing him to serve, it was very emotional and overwhelming. The camp at Port Alsworth is breathtaking, as is Alaska. I have no words for it. And photos really do not do it justice at all... but I tried. We were fed well, had some pretty amazing classes that made us dig deep, a little deeper than I wanted, but it really made me realize a lot of things, things to help us in our marriage and help me in my life with other things I've been struggling with. The volunteers were amazing, I can't say enough good things about them. We would go into the bunker to get water or coffee, always someone greeted us, asked us how our day was going, never went a second without making us feel important.
    We fished, hiked, went to see bears, relaxed, enjoyed each other and the company around us. Formed bonds, not only with the couples that were with us but with the volunteers and staff.
    On Friday, I won't lie, I cried. I have never had such an experience, it was heart felt and real. I was ready to come home to my kids but not ready to leave that place. It's like magic, you honestly feel like you are closer there.... to everything. In tune with nature, each other... magic.
    Samaritan's Purse is an amazing organization that helps people all over the world. I'm so honored to have been a part of it and honestly, would love to volunteer with them one day. We'll see... maybe this was part of it, someone trying to push me to do more with my talent. One message that came across to me loud and clear was this "you all have talents, I want to see that you use them, don't let them go to waste"
    And whether that be a talent to sing, or for art, or photograph, or to make amazing human beings to go out into the world, we all have one and it needs to be used. So we will see where that goes with me. I do know that I feel the need in my heart.

    And now on to the pics. :)

    Lake Clark

    The fish I caught! EEK 

    Lake Clark at sunrise. Absolutely unreal

    Hubby's fish before it flipped out. ;) 

    Chef Jean Claude

    Friday, July 18, 2014

    Hi, my name is Emily and I'm an introvert.

    We are preparing to leave for Alaska on Sunday. I am UBER excited but I am also  SO stinking nervous I feel like I could be sick at any moment.
    I'm nervous for the usual stuff, airplane crash, we have to fly into Anchorage and then got on a teeny plane that lands on the water *insert big gulp here* but also my nerves are coming from a place of the unknown and meeting people for the first time.
    You see, I'm an introvert. A HUGE introvert. I never realized it until in my 30's, but now I see all of the signs and I embrace it.
    Let me explain, am I friendly, yes.. I'm not rude, I'm also not shy. I just really hate small talk, I need to prepare weeks in advance for visits, whether it be for friends of my kids or even my family (extended that is) the other people that live here that I call family, they know all about me. My grandma was a big "pop in" person, Lord help me... that makes me insane. No notice at all, let's just pop in. NO!  I need notice. I don't know why I'm this way, but after being around my dad all of my life, hearing my family comment on how he never stays long anywhere, etc I now see, HE is an introvert too! He doesn't stay long because he gets his business finished and off he goes. He needs alone time. After a wedding or a weekend of photography sessions I used to wonder why I was SO exhausted, I mean really, mentally exhausted. Now I know. Being constantly "on" wears me out to the point of, I could sleep for days.
    If you know me in real life you would say "oh you aren't an introvert, you are always friendly and talkative" I am, but I hate small talk. I open up to a few yes, I have some really good friends, they never do see the introverted side of me, because they know me and we talk about things, things that matter. I really hate small talk, when people can't sit in a room with you and just be. Or, for instance, my mom, she will call and really have nothing to say... and it's all small talk and then when I sit there and say "uh huh... mm hmm" she thinks there is something wrong. NO, I just can hate small talk! And again, my dad, not a huge phone talker, I used to really get frustrated after being on the phone with him, now I get it!
    I have a great friend and client, we are both HUGE introverts AND planners. I think the two MUST go hand in hand. We laugh about our quirks, how we both hate talking on the phone and will usually let it go to voicemail because we mentally have to prepare to talk on the phone. That is why I love texting, I can prepare! I love when I know people like me, it makes me feel SO much better about myself.

    So hubby and I are off to a marriage retreat, it's a part of Operation Heal Our Patriots. We will fish and hike and kayak (all things I don't do but am so excited to try) and I will put on my smile and meet people. I'll be fine, but I will also be exhausted. I will probably meet some amazing people and make some new friendships... but it will be a week of me being out of my comfort zone and probably a little on edge. But an experience of a lifetime it will be. I am going to take thousands of photos and enjoy being with my husband and being Emily instead of Gabby, Grace and Jackson's mom.
    I can't wait to update with a photo diary when I get back!
    Until then.... <3