the holiday of everyday.

Enjoyment.

We talk about how learning (and life) should be a delight… and often we think that involves huge, elaborate plans or trips to amusement parks and Disney World.

But enjoyment displays itself so beautifully in the minor moments— in the time we take to embrace the little things.

This week was full of enjoyment for us over here! First of all, E wanted to do lots of Valentine’s day crafts– too many for one day. So, we spread them out and did one a day while doing our reading and morning time. Insert mornings of valentine heart paper chains and paper hearts and homemade heart poptarts and valentine making… all leading up to “I love you” fondue-– our yearly Valentine’s day tradition.

homemade raspberry jam pop tarts. warning: lots of flour went everywhere during the making of these 3 hearts. hahaha!

I don’t know about your kiddos but mine like small bites, sticks, and dip… so “I love you” fondue has been and continues to be a hit. I mean, sure, some strawberries were lost in the pot of chocolate… and the toddler ate the cheese like soup… and my table looked like a Pollock painting 😂, ..but the giggles and memories and the comfort of this simple tradition brings up a spring of gratitude every year.

My best enjoyment.

BUT there was another holiday we celebrated this week, in the midst of all that brought enjoyment over here, especially to my 5 year old boy!

We celebrated National Pizza Day! (which for your future pizza-loving pleasure is February 9th. Mark it down!) It’s one of those silly random holidays that most people ignore… but man. Why ignore National Pizza Day when it would bring a day of delight to your buddy?

For breakfast? We used hashbrown patties as a base, used gravy as a sauce, added cheese, and used cut up bacon as “pepperoni.”

For lunch? We used homemade pitas, spaghetti sauce, and cheese and made our own little pizzas “lunchables.”

For dinner? You guessed it. This time, we ordered pizza. (Which we rarely do.)

J, my buddy, was in HEAVEN all day long! (And no worries– the pizza was rounded out by lots of cut-up veggies, fresh fruit, lalalala. 😂)

If I wanted to take it a step further into it’s own educational celebration of pizza, we could have delved into the origins of pizza, variations of pizza by location (in Europe and/or in the US), how to divide a pizza into fractions, etc., etc. So many things you can do!

Maybe next year.

This year, we just had fun eating more pizza(ish) foods in a day than we do all month. 😂

Having each day be a holiday would be a bit much, I think. BUT making more days holidays than we currently do would be a delight.

In case you are wanting to add some more holiday fun and enjoyment into this month, let me drop some lesser-known holidays down below.

Feb 15MondayGumdrop Day
Feb 16TuesdayDo a Grouch a Favor Day
Feb 17WednesdayRandom Act of Kindness Day
Feb 18ThursdayBattery Day
Feb 19FridayChocolate Mint Day
Feb 22MondaySingle Tasking Day
Feb 22MondayBe Humble Day
Feb 23TuesdayInternational Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day
Feb 24WednesdayTortilla Chip Day
Feb 26FridayPistachio Day
Feb 26FridayTell a Fairy Tale Day
Feb 27SaturdayInternational Polar Bear Day
Feb 27SaturdayNo Brainer Day
Feb 27SaturdayWorld Sword Swallowers Day
Feb 28SundayPublic Sleeping Day
taken from https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/fun/

I’m eyeballing “Random Act of Kindness,” “Chocolate Mint,” “Tortilla Chip” and “Tell a Fairy Tale” Day. In fact, I have a brand new fairy-tale themed game that would be perfect to whip out for telling any fairy tales!

I’ll leave off with a quotation from Julie Bogart, the author of The Brave Learner. She talks soooo much about enchantment and celebration: “Enchanted education and living are all about small surprises of happy—scattered, littered, peppered throughout garden-variety days.”

What surprises will you scatter in your week today– for your kids AND for you?

The Big Four

Imagine: When this crossed my feed, I instantly fell in LOVE! Kelli, at well_oiled_farmhouse did a collaborative embroidery piece with her daughters that turned out just GORGEOUS! What a great way to be creative and create a memory, a story, AND a beautiful piece of textile art!

Encourage: I love this post by give.them.beauty on Instagram about having faith while we are waiting lessons and knowledge to grow. (Also, love that she connects this to sourdough starter/bread!)

Educate: One tool that I love for my own personal development, as well as for learning over here is my subscription to Scribd. I know that there are other free services (Hoopla, looking at you), but Scribd has a TON more bestsellers and audio options on there than what I find on the free services. We currently use Scribd for two of our school read alouds, and I play audiobooks from it while we are in the car. There’s a super delightful audiobook of a collection of stories by Julia Donaldson (author of the Gruffalo, etc.). They have fun sung narrations after each story, and the reader is fantastic. (I tend to be super picky about readers and can argue with them in my head about how they interpreted a line or character, ha!) If you have Scribd, include the stories in read aloud time… and if you don’t have Scribd, take a look at it. You might find it super helpful! (Get a free 60 days trial if you use my link!) If you have Audible or just want to check out the recording I’m talking about, here’s a pic to help find the right one. 😉

Enjoy: This tidbit adds to what we were talking about above, but let me tell you about what we did just the morning. Our family is down to one car right now (a LONG story that includes a windstorm that felled a tree on our SUV and other odd circumstances), so we all load up to take my husband to work OR stay at home all day long. Most days, the husband takes the car and we just stay home, because pandemic. Today, we have music lessons in the afternoon, so I need the car today. It’s been raining for 40 days and 40 nights over here (#jokingnotjoking), and this morning was the first in FOREVER that the sun actually shined. The kids immediately began BEGGING to go to all the parks within a 50 mile radius since it was sunny and we actually could go somewhere. However, it is hovering at freezing, and there is standing water everywhere. In other words, we can’t go to the park.

So what did we do instead? Something we never do.

I went through a drive thru, and ordered 3 different kinds of breakfast biscuits and some hashbrowns. We went home, where I made a charcuterie board of it all, along with cut up fruit, and we had a breakfast tasting. The kids ranked their favorite sandwiches and we put juice in tea cups. Mood lifted.

Now, excuse me as I go and use a hair dryer on my lawn to speed up this drying process… 😂

Decide once.

“Decide once.”

I first read this phrase when I opened my birthday gift to myself– a copy of The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi.

The principle should be pretty self explanatory in its simplicity, but I’ll add a few words anyway. Basically, instead of reinventing the wheel all the time, decide once about the things that can be decided once about… and then lather, rinse, repeat.

Truth be told, I have done this in several areas of my life. For instance, lesson planning. I teach part-time both college and high school, as well as homeschool my own kids. During the day with my kids, I try to have these 4 things in some way: imagination, encouragement, education (obviously. We homeschool.), and enjoyment. I want all 4 in my day, and try to actually think through and plan those out. More on that in another post.

I also try to incorporate each of those principles in my communication lesson plans via activities, one-on-one, discussions, projects, etc. It’s important that students get creative, feel confidence, learn something, and have fun. Those things are what matter to me.

However, I will admit to not being so awesome at deciding once in my home life. I don’t like feeling “tied down”/committed to something when I don’t want to be. For being married with three kids, I’m a bit of a commitment phobe. (I don’t even have a yearly plan for my cell phone people.)

As much as I love NOT feeling tied down, the stress that comes when I don’t know what’s next with certain things is NOT fun for me. When it was just me and my husband working full time and I didn’t know what was for dinner? We both said, “NO problem!” and went out to eat. Fast forward 10 years and 3 kids later, and that decision isn’t feasible anymore. It costs way more to eat out, and then schedules get all thwarted, and kids have meltdowns in public, etc. You get the picture.

So, thanks to budgets and routines, dinner needs to be home most nights. And around the same time, too.

Funny thing is, I actually love cooking and meal planning and trying new recipes and foods. But here’s another thing: right now, it isn’t worth the extra time. I don’t want to re-invent the wheel every week… especially when my kids are at the age that extra time in the kitchen to learn and try new recipes just ends up stressing me out. (Hello toddler, pulling your diaper off in the middle of the kitchen and peeing on the floor while my hands are in raw meat… I’m looking at you.)

The answer for me right now: decide once.

Let’s chat about what that looks like.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, our family has music stuff until, basically, 5. This tight turn-around makes dinner prep nigh impossible. Answer? Tuesday/Thursdays are either slow cooker/instant pot/ or kid friendly charcuterie board nights. Right now, we are doing a lot of soups and a roast occasionally.

Saturdays are pizza and movie nights. Most weekends, we make our pizza at home… but every once in a while, we will Papa John it.

Sunday nights are breakfast-for-dinner nights.

This leaves MWF “open.” One of those nights will be a steak and caesar salad night. We get all of our beef from Butcher Box and love how tasty their grass-fed food is! Also, caesar dressing is SO easy and tasty to make from home if you follow this easy hack: fish sauce instead of grinding sardines. (GAG) I got the idea and my initial recipe from vietworldkitchen. (After making it several times, I just eyeball all the ingredients in her list and don’t look it up.)

That leaves 2 days a week for me to plug in a family favorite or try something new or have my 8 year old choose and make dinner.

Or have wiggle room for special occasion nights.

That amount of flexibility is perfect for me.


This week’s Big 4:

Imagine: I would have liked to have done more here this week– something a bit more original that “just coloring” or “just doing playdoh,” but that was what we did this week. We are still recovering from Christmas, coming in from out of town, unpacking, being hit hard with meetings/speech competitions, and physical limitations this week. This next week, I’m thinking about having the kiddos make a map to go along with the travels we are reading about in the Pilgrim Progress adaptation, Dangerous Journey. They also really love watching other kids’ “plays” of stories, so once we are done, we will have movie time with this video.

Encourage: The kids and I are memorizing Romans 8:31-39 this quarter. Saying the words each morning, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” encourages my heart– especially as some personal trials seem very much “against” me right now. I love this reading of the passage, and listen to it each morning as well.

Educate: We are learning about different Native American tribes for history right now… and I’m using the Family “jeopardy” app on our Apple TV to make a game out of what we are learning. Both my 8 yo girl and 5 yo boy are LOVING learning about the different cultures, and my daughter can’t wait until we get to Cherokee, as Papa (my grandfather) was half. I remember going camping in the reservation and getting to see tribe members dress in their dance regalia and just being mesmerized. I’d love to take a field trip up to the Oconaluftee Indian Village once we can!

Enjoy: We bundled up on a sunny day and hung hammocks that the two “bigs” got for Christmas outside. The kiddos stared at the sky through the branches of the trees and looked at the clouds. Made me wish I had gotten a hammock, too. But it was so nice to just watch them enjoy it. Isn’t that parenthood, my friends?

Zesty Lemon Bars (HFLC/Keto/GF)

It’s been a while since I’ve tried from-scratch desserts in the kitchen that take more than 3 seconds… but this summer has seen me begin to do so again, with fruit-based, refreshing favorites.

I posted recently on Insta about a yummy lemon bar that I tried, adapted, and made… and how great it turned out.

And I’ve been promptly asked for a recipe. 😀

This isn’t a cooking blog, so I don’t have a fancy shmancy recipe card template or a fabulously long and nostalgic story about the significance lemon bars have had in my life, HA!

I hope that doesn’t deter you from trying these. 😉


the recipe

ingredients
1/2 c butter
1 and 3/4 c almond flour (fine)
1 c sugar substitute (xylitol/erythritol blends are good)
juice from 3 lemons (or bottled lemon juice equivalent)
3 eggs
1/4 tsp baking powder
salt
powdered sugar substitute (for dusting)
Lemon Young Living Vitality EO

directions
1. Preheat an oven to 350 F. Mix melted butter, 1 cup of almond flour, ¼ cup sugar sub and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl. Combine and pour into an 8” x 8” pan lined with a sprayed pan.

2. Bake for 20 minutes and then let it cool while you mix step 3.

3. In another bowl, combine the lemon juice, eggs, ¾ cup sugar sub, ¾ cup of almond flour, a pinch of salt, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 4 drops of lemon vitality. Whisk together very well to incorporate the eggs.

4. Pour the filling onto the cooled crust and bake for 21-23 minutes. Allow the bars to cool in the refrigerator for several hours until firm enough to cut into squares. Dust with additional powdered sugar sub to decorate. Keep stored in the fridge.


I will fully admit to cutting these and eating one while they are warm because I’m impatient. They were okay warm… but MY LANDS. They are AMAZING once you actually let them cool. Both the textures and flavors are ON POINT if you are patient.

<<sigh>>

Patience.

It’s a virtue, they say.

Anyhoo, give the recipe a go and let me know what you think!