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Friday, August 26, 2016

Review of God's Trophies by Wally Goddard

I am feeling run down today.  With school starting again, a whole new list of problems and stresses just got added to my mental "to-do" basket.  With each of my 3 children in different schools (and a new school for each of them) I'm feeling torn with trying to be so many places at once.  Gone are the days where they were all cute and cozy in one little building with the same schedule.  Instead it feels like our family is scattered all over town, and I'm scrambling to keep us all together.  We had dinner together only one night this week, and it took a lot of juggling and rearranging to get us all at the table for 15 minutes.  I've noticed my prayers at night are longer than usual as I plead for help for my little ones and all the changes that are coming our way.   I know it will all get better.  Things will settle into place soon.  But for today, I am thankful for this new book God's Trophies by Wally Goddard and the chance I have to share it with you because it is a reminder that we have so much to be thankful for.

I actually know the author of this book well.  Wally Goddard and his wife were a part of our church family when we lived in Arkansas.  His daughter is my good friend and they are a loving, talented family with much goodness to share.  This book is all about the good things God has given us in this world, and the Goddard's are truly people that appreciate life and all that it brings.

Our family enjoyed reading our copy of God's Trophies. 

God's Trophies is a delightful story about a Rupert, who has the job of organizing the trophies (or gifts of gratitude) people send God when something makes them joyful.  But Rupert gets so caught up in his responsibilities, he forgets to enjoy God's creations himself until one day when he is invited to visit God in his heavenly home.  

This story is sweet.  It's happy.  The pictures are colorful and whimsical.  It is a gentle reminder to be grateful but to also remember we are God's most beloved creations.  

I was able to ask Wally Goddard about this book and the purpose behind it.  Here's our chat:

Where did your inspiration for God's Trophies come from?

The book began years ago. We have tried to be mindful and grateful for God’s abundant blessings. Sometimes we would be enjoying something as simple as a delicious strawberry or a wonderful apple and I would glory: “Someone should get an award for that!” It got to be quite a habit. Somehow I started thinking about sending God trophies. Then I wondered what He would do with those trophies. That is the beginning of God’s Trophies.

What do you hope people with learn from this book?

More than anything I hope this book will spark a greater awareness and appreciation of all the amazing things God has created for us. And behind His act of creation is His undying love for us. Truly we have reason to rejoice!

What is the best way to purchase God's Trophies?

I have posted about the book both on my Facebook page: Dr.Wally

The book can be purchased from Amazon (Retail $13.50, discounted price varies)

Or it can be purchased from LDS Greats ($12.00)

Also, if a person wants to buy five or more books, I am glad to ship them directly. I charge $10.00 each. I don’t have a way to take credit cards but they can send an order with check to:

37 Shadow Mountain Dr., Logan, UT 84321

Go ahead my friends, give this book a try!  Have a blissful day!
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

8 Secrets for Baking the Perfect Cheesecake

*This post may contain affiliate links.  
Cheesecakes are such scrumptious desserts. What's more, they are EASY . . . in many ways, easier than a pie. If you have trouble with pie, bake a cheesecake. Cheesecakes are perfect for entertaining. Did you see Amy's AMAZING recipe tutorial for Raspberry Lemon Cheesecake?  It's a must-see because she guides you step by step.  But let's talk about some other secret tips for baking the perfect cheesecake!


Secret #1
A cheesecake is a custard, not a cake. As a custard, the cheesecake should be thick, rich and creamy. As with any custard, a cheesecake relies on the proteins in the eggs to give it structure. The proteins coagulate as the temperature approaches 160 degrees. If it over bakes, the custard becomes dry.

Secret #2
A long, slow bake allows for a more uniform internal temperature. Never bake over 350 degrees. We prefer a dark pan to uniformly absorb heat, not a reflective pan.

Secret #3
Don't over bake your cheesecake. Most cheesecakes are over baked and they tend to be dry, not creamy. An over baked cheesecake tends to crack. The cheesecake is baked when it is still jiggly but not soupy. The top of the cheesecake will jiggle as a whole and the center two inches will look softer. If the top is doing anything but just starting to blush a golden color, you have probably over baked the cheesecake. Do not stick a knife or a toothpick in the center. It is not a reliable test and it may precipitate a crack.

Secret #4
Slowly beat the cream cheese until it is soft and smooth. It's easier to make a smooth mixture of the cream cheeses if you start with softened cream cheese. Take the cream cheese from the refrigerator at least an hour before mixing. Beat the cheese with the paddle attachment, not the whip.

Secret #5
Mix the ingredients into the cream cheese; don't whip the ingredients. If too much air is incorporated into the filling, the cheesecake will puff when baked and sink as it cools. With too much air incorporated into the filling, cracks are likely to develop.

Secret #6
Custards tend to be soft and may weep. To give your cheesecake more structure, consider adding one to two tablespoons of cornstarch or flour. For a creamier cheesecake, leave the starch out.

Secret #7
Cheesecakes primarily rely on eggs for the structure. Not only does the egg mixture have to reach 160 to 170 degrees to coagulate, but the filling must have enough eggs. In our experience, one egg per eight-ounce package of cream cheese plus a little milk, sour cream, or cream is about right.

Secret #8
Cheesecakes are easier to remove from a pan after they have cooled slightly. Let the cheesecake cool for ten minutes and then with a spatula or thin-bladed knife, run the blade between the cake and the pan. If you let the cheesecake cool for any longer than that, it may start to contract and, with the cake stuck to the pan, crack. A nonstick pan not only makes the release easier but may help keep the cheesecake from cracking.

It's much easier to remove using this flexible Silicone Springform Pan

*Thanks to The Prepared Pantry for these expert cheesecake tips!

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Printable BBQ Picnic Bingo and Invites

Summer is almost over and I hate to see it go for the most part.  However, there is a part of me that can't wait for autumn and all things cool.  But with Labor Day around the corner, I always think it's fun to have a little backyard BBQ or picnic to say goodbye to summer.  So today I'm sharing some cutesy BBQ invitations and printables for your next backyard picnic or bash.  We've also got a cute BBQ Bingo game to play with your guests.  The picnic printables are FREE, of course, so enjoy those last days of summer!!!

I have to say that I'm having one of my mommy "neverland moments" again as my kidlets start school.  I've kinda got a lump in my throat as I realize I will have a child in high school, another in junior high, and one in the upper grades of elementary school.  Where did time go?  Do you guys get like this sometimes?  Ugh.  I do.  I just do, and I hate the feeling that time is slipping away and that I'm letting it go without doing anything about it.  But then I remember the simple ways to enjoy my children, and that I actually am doing the best I can to make moments matter with them.  I'm not perfect.  We had some boring, unproductive times.  We had many moments that I wished they would top messing up the house and bickering about little things.

And even right now, I have mixed feelings because even though I love the bonding and lazy togetherness of summer, I also love the scheduled and steady rigor of the school year (and that my kids are all in school and I once again have the house to myself for a few hours!).  So I don't know.  There's no way to feel perfectly content about each stage of life we are in, but I think we can learn to come to terms with it and feel some peace.  So bring on school.  Bring on the schedules.  And goodbye summer . . . for now.  Enjoy these backyard barbecue printables and try to enjoy whatever moment you are in.

Aren't this printable picnic invitations cute?  Thanks to my Sweet Teen for coming up with the design for all these BBQ printables!


And then don't forget to get this Printable BBQ Bingo Game as well!  These are fun to laminate and use over and over again.  Make sure you print an extra one and make cards to draw and call out.  There are 6 Bingo Cards total.

CLICK BELOW for the full

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Creation Crate Review and Giveaway

*I was asked to review Creation Crate and share this giveaway.  All opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.  This giveaway is sponsored by Creation Crate.  
I know many of us have kids who love Legos and building things, but what about building technology and electronics?  Can we take a child's love of creating and building a step further and make it useful to their education (like CODING?!) and still be fun?  Let me introduce to you Creation Crate.  It's a genius idea that turns building electronics into a hobby.  Creation Crate allows you get hands-on experience with technology and build projects right in your own living room.  You learn by doing.  Creation Crate says it is for all skill levels and all ages.  Let me tell you about our experience with Creation Crate AND be sure to enter the Creation Crate GIVEAWAY below!


This giveaway lasts for 2 weeks.  If you enter through my site, it's worth 20 ENTRIES!!!  3 winners will be chosen to receive a 3 month subscription to Creation Crate.  Winners will be announced in September through social media channels, so stay tuned!

Creation Crate

Creation Crate is a subscription service that sends a hands-on tech experience to your home.  It's a tech experience in a box.  Creation Crate helps you learn electronics, coding, technology hardware, robotics, and more.  Each new project is different and builds upon your experience.  They send you a kit with all the instructions and parts needed to create a technology project.  Everything you need is in the box, with the exception of your own computer.

I got started with my kidlets right away.  It was so fun to get a project to do together in the mail!   Our project was a mood lamp that changes colors and turns on only when it's dark. Building the hardware is the first step of the project.  My 9 year old was able to help me just fine.  I let her put most of the components in herself.

I did have to help her with the instructions.  They are not very detailed and use a lot of small diagrams, so I had to help her get used to reading them and following the pictures very carefully.  This took a little bit to get used to, but it was a good learning experience.

In about 20 minutes we had a cool piece of technology all set up.   She was pretty proud of herself.

The next part is a lot harder.   The coding part to get the components to work takes some skill and would be great for an older child or adult to learn.  I was able to get the coding done in about 30 minutes because it requires careful typing.  For this you need to have a computer and download a specific program.  Creation Crate has a place on their website where you can ask questions and get help if needed.  I had to visit this, while doing the coding.  It's awesome when it all comes together!

Here's our fun mood lamp that turns on when it's dark.  I think these DIY electronics projects are perfect for homeschoolers, hobbyists, or just families that need to turn off the video games for awhile and do something hands on!  This would make a fun gift too.  If you sign up for 12 months you get each box for only $22.49.  Give it a try.  Enter the giveaway and try Creation Crate for free!

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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

10 Things to Know Before Taking Your Kids to Yellowstone

So you wanna take your kids to Yellowstone National Park, right?  You think those geysers and the animals will be a great learning experience?  I totally get it.  You've either never been there and want to take a family trip, or already love Yellowstone and want to share it with your little ones.  I grew up visiting Yellowstone a lot.  My dad is an experienced hiker and camper, so it was one of our favorite places.  Recently, I went back as with my own children and realized that Yellowstone has a lot of things that parents need to be aware of.  It's not a perfect family vacation spot.  Seeing it through my "parental eyes" made me realize that it has some dangers and problems to be aware of.  As parents, it helps to be prepared.  So before you head out to Yellowstone, learn from these 10 things you should know before taking your kids to Yellowstone.

1. Limited cell service

The cell service is spotty.  There is almost no cell phone service for AT&T, and the other carriers are limited as well.  This can be good and bad.  It's a blessing for everyone to disconnect from the business of life--no emails, texts, Wi-fi, or Facebook--and instead reconnect with the people right in front of them.   The limited cell service can be bad if you have an emergency and need to get in touch with someone.  It's also something to think about if you are in a large group and are trying to stay together.  We are so used to communicating with our phones, so you'll have to go the old-school route and set meeting times and places.

2. Traffic jams

Be prepared for multiple traffic jams.  Most of these jams are because an animal is in the vicinity and people stop to take pictures.  Sometimes the animals are actually on the road causing a backup.  We hit several traffic jams on our trip, so plan some time for that in your travels.  Also, plan something for your little kids to do in the car while you wait to get through (because sometimes it's at a total stop).

3. Crowds of people

Yellowstone is CROWDED.  The colder months may be less busy, but the summer months are very full!  At any given site, you could easily be waiting in a long line to use the one little restroom with your kid who is about to wet his pants.   Busloads of people visit the park each day, so keep the disposable underwear handy and never pass an empty bathroom without taking a pit stop.

4. Limited restaurants, stores, and towns nearby

Restaurants are limited in and around the park.  There are cafeterias, nicer restaurants, and some small stores near all the tourist shops in the park.  Be prepared for higher priced food and just regular quality.  The best idea is to pack your food in.  But if you get in a bind, the town of West Yellowstone (in Montana) has several chain restaurants and lots of stores, so that helps.  Plus, there are plenty of snacks throughout the park.  And you must try the delicious ice cream sold in Yellowstone Park, so keep an eye out for that.

5.  Medical center

Medical help in the park is limited as well.  They do have small medical centers for some urgent care needs and as a parent, that definitely brings some peace of mind.  But if it's critical, you will be sent to one of the small nearby towns, which can be a long drive.  They also do not have a pharmacy anywhere within the park.  So take along that first-aid kit and any meds you need.

6. Campgrounds--it's not what you are used to

Family camping is one of my favorite things, but I learned that camping in Yellowstone is a totally different ballgame.  First of all, when you reserve a spot (and you must reserve ahead of time), the host will assign you a campsite.  They try to take in account your vehicle size and amount in your party.  You get what you get.  Some campgrounds do not allow tents, so be aware of that.  There are showers for campers to use, but they get really crowded in the evenings.  Also, don't forget that animal danger is ever-present.  We had bison grazing in our campground for an entire day.  They were right next to tents, picnic tables, and people.  We were also told there was a bear in the early morning, but campground officials were able to get him to move on.  Teach your kids to be "bear aware".

7. Limited parking and lots of walking

Some of the most popular sites are loaded with tourists and it can be hard to find parking.  Towards the end I started to feel a little bit like we were in Disneyland with all the people there.  My best advice is get to Old Faithful early.  The benches around it fill up quickly as it gets close to showtime.  There is also a lot of walking.  You may have to park far away, plus most of the sites must be walked to.  Take along a stroller or backpack for you little ones.  They will get tired.

8. Hot pot danger

The hot pots and geysers at Yellowstone are fascinating.  It's such a beautifully intriguing place.  Be aware of the danger of these hot pools at all times.  These sites have trails with boardwalks all along the way because the ground is unstable and the danger is real.  Teach your kids to stay on the boardwalks and to not push or goof around there as many of the pots are only a few feet away.  There have been injuries and deaths of people not following the park's rules.  Keep a very close eye on your children.

9.  If you've seen one, you've seen them all

Not matter how fascinating the hot pots are at first, kids will get bored if you visit too many in a row.  There are several areas with hot, steaming, sulfur-smelling pools.  One hot pot will start to look the same as another to your little kids, so you don't need to visit every single one.  Vary your experiences by visiting the waterfalls and rivers.  Go on a hike, listen to a ranger show, walk through the visitor's centers, and of course get some ice cream.

10.  It's an unforgettable trip

I recommend waiting until your children are old enough to appreciate the magic and splendor of such a beautiful park like Yellowstone.  We took our kids when they were young and the only thing they remembered was the sulfur smell.  We took them again when they were old enough to understand it's unique qualities and it was unforgettable for them.  They were in awe of it all.  Either way you choose, it should be an unforgettable trip . . . at least for the parents.

I hope these tips help so you can plan accordingly and make your trip to Yellowstone an unforgettable one!

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Friday, August 5, 2016

8 Easy Olympic Party Ideas for Kids

I LOVE the Olympics.  Our family watches them every year, and everyone loves them, even Baby Girl.  I thought I would look for some fun Olympic activities to do with kids.  So today I'm sharing the easy Olympic activities I found.  Enjoy having an Olympic Party with your kids!

Olympic Activities for Kids - flag vertical

Love these easy Olympic cookies from How To Homeschool My Child

Preschool Circus Games - Paper Plate Ring Toss

Try this easy Olympic ring toss game From ABCs to Acts

Of course we need Olympic bingo from Learning Treasures

BACKYARD OLYMPICS -- Get the whole family involved in the Olympic Games! These fun and EASY Backyard Olympic Games include Javelin Throw, Balance Beam, Discus Throw, Bean Bag Toss and Water Bucket Relay!

Great ideas for backyard Olympic games of your own from Hoosier Homemade

Oreo Olympic Medal 3

Little Miss Kate & Co. shares her easy idea for edible Olympic medals.

Olympics Birthday Party from - Olympic Rings Rings Fruit Platter:

This Olympic snack idea from Snap Happy Mom is brilliantly easy!

Olympic Torch Game Obstacle Course

Melissa & Doug share some cute ideas for an Olympic obstacle course!

Enjoy watching the Olympics!
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