Monday, April 29, 2013

Fresh Raspberry Vinaigrette Recipe

Life is getting a bit busy as I am now 26 weeks pregnant and reality is setting in that soon our family will welcome a new baby into our home!  I'm trying to find enough time and energy to prepare for the wee one and continue homeschooling and think about next year's curriculum.

Part of the busyness is also finding ways for our family to eat healthier, which is a lifelong goal for sure!

I love eating salads and preparing salads for my family.  I stumbled upon a homemade raspberry vinaigrette recipe from All You magazine, July 2012 edition that I want to share.  I wanted to try it out because I was tired of paying for the vinaigrette dressings at the store. It's really quite tasty and delicious!  Along with this dressing, I love putting various veggies on my salad, along with cut up strawberries and sprinkle various types of sweetened granola cereal on top.  Lately, I've been using the Pumpkin Flax Granola cereal from Costco to top my salads.  Yum! :)


Prep: 5 min.
Yield: 3/4 cup
Cost per serving: 49 cents

1/2 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) raspberries
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup canola oil

Place raspberries in a bowl and crush with a fork.  Whisk in remaining ingredients until will blended. (I used my Vitamix blender to make the mixture smoother.) Cover and chill.  Whisk just before using. 


This week I'm linking up with Lisa's Recipe Link at Home to 4 Kiddos where others link up to share their recipes also:

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families... Book Review

I first became a fan of the talented Catholic mothers and authors,  Patti Armstrong and Theresa Thomas, when I wrote a review HERE for their first book titled, Stories for the Homeschool Heart.

Fast forward a few years and these ladies have teamed up once again to continue to fill our hearts, minds, souls, families, and bookshelves with an endless supply of wisdom, faith, honesty and life-affirming beauty.

I had the incredible honor and privilege to read their soon-to-be released book, Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories for Everyday Families. Like their first book, this project includes many contributors as they each tell their stories of how God opened their hearts to become bigger and better than they could ever have imagined.

I sat down one quiet evening while my husband took my four children out and read Big!  Yes, it was that good!

I knew I was about to read a treasure as soon as I read Armstrong's and Thomas' words in their introduction:  "The families in this book are just like ours, and probably just like yours, too. The similarity is not necessarily the outer details-every family is unique; it's the goal of striving to put God first, of trying to love well."   That line drew me in immediately and I couldn't wait to see how Big Hearted would inspire me to love my family even more!

In the 22 different stories that were collected from various authors, I enjoyed not only peeking into another family's life filled with triumphs and struggles, but I went away from each story inspired to apply their life lessons into my own family's life.

I enjoyed reading the story contributions from Armstrong and Thomas themselves as they made me smile and grateful for my own little answered prayers and miracles that God has given my family. 

I loved how each contributor in Big Hearted spoke from their hearts and their real and transparent feelings came through with many of their struggles. What a blessing it is to know that I can relate to parts of families' stories without knowing them personally! I realized with each story that no family is perfect, including mine, but each family in the story was perfectly blessed by being open to God's will and ways. I found myself anxiously turning each page as I smiled, chuckled, sobbed and was in awe not knowing how each family's real life adventure would end by the last line.

As a busy mom of four children and one due in early August 2013, I find it difficult to find time to read for pleasure. However, Big Hearted not only had stories to keep my attention, but their short lengths kept me wanting to read the next story until I finished the book.

I love the fact that Big Hearted is a great book for moms and dads that have big responsibilities and often find it challenging to get a little time for themselves.  But, since you don't necessarily have to read the book cover to cover since each story has its on plot and lesson, you will easily be able to read one or two stories at a time when you get 5 or 10 minutes and want to be blessed knowing how God works in big ways in others' hearts.

I encourage all families to read Big Hearted  because while all our families are special and unique, we can all be inspired to put God and love first. 

Big Hearted would make a great Mother's Day gift or a gift for someone you know that wants to be inspired to read the blessings and miracles that can come from having a generous heart!

Be sure to visit and "Like" Big Hearted Families Facebook page for even more ways to be encouraged to put God first and "love well!"  

If interested, you can pre-order Big Hearted today, and until 
May 1,  receive 15% off the retail price!  Phone orders only. Click HERE to read a full description.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cute Caterpillar Snack

My two middle children take a wonderful homeschool insect/garden class at our local arboretum and last week it was my turn to bring the snack for the class.  Since they were going to be talking about insects, I thought I would go with the theme and bring an insect snack.  
I needed some creative inspiration so I went to Pinterest, typed in "insect snacks" and found THIS board.  After searching, I then came up with my cute caterpillar critters that was a variation of what I found on the Pinterest board.  
Slice some banana, spread some peanut butter between the slices, break off pretzel sticks and push into the top of each grape and then stick a toothpick into the grape and banana.  Break off pretzel sticks for the legs.  
It's a good thing there are only 12 students in the class because it took me about 45 minutes to make these 12.  They were enjoyed by all along with the bags of Veggie Straws and pretzel sticks my daughter packed for each of her classmates to go with the caterpillar treat :)

We enjoy the classes offered at the arboretum and we especially enjoy the beautiful gardens there that I blogged about HERE back in May 2011.

After one of the recent classes, we took advantage of the wonderful weather and had a picnic at the arboretum and I tried to once again capture the beautiful scenery and memories with my camera...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Eastertide 2013

After not singing "Alleluia!" during Lent, it's now time to sing this song of praise during the Easter season!  Did you know that Easter is not just a day, but a season called Eastertide?  Eastertide begins on Easter Sunday and ends on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after Easter Sunday.  Pentecost commemorates the giving of the Holy Spirit to the apostles, the beginnings of the Church and its mission to every tongue and people and nation.

So since we are still celebrating the joyous resurrection of Jesus Christ, it's still not too late to post some of our family's Easter fun!

After Good Friday service, our family went to see the Harlem Globe Trotters play at a local university.  It was great family fun!  My pictures aren't the best since I used my phone and we were up in the balcony.
On Holy Saturday afternoon/evening we did our annual Easter family traditions of making Easter story cookies, resurrection rolls, dying Easter eggs, and painting our salt dough crown of thorns gold and glued jewels on the crown as blogged about HERE

Here are a few pictures of my cupcakes "sealing" the "tomb" with tape after we put the Easter story cookies in our warm oven.  The yummy cookies are hollow when we open our oven on Easter morning just as Jesus' tomb was empty after he rose from the dead.  Alleluia!  
After going to 7:30 AM Mass Easter morning (yes, we like going to the early one to beat the crowds that usually attend the later masses), we hosted a lunch at my house and unfortunately my Dad was sick, so only my Mom was able to join us for lunch.

I turned my deviled eggs into angelic colorful chicks thanks to Lacy at Catholic Icing sharing how she dyed the hard boiled egg.  In the center of my egg platter, I have a little chick figurine that I've had for many years.  To make the colorful eggs even more festive, I made them into chicks using a black bean cut in half for the eyes (but, I've heard pieces of black olives work well too) and a sliver of a carrot for the beaks.
This was the first year my oldest cupcake did not search for eggs.  Rather, she was the "egg hider" for her siblings and she did a fabulous job!  It was a gorgeous day to run around outside! 
It was such a beautiful, bright, sunny day that my Mom and I sat outside on our backyard bench swing for hours and the sun was in our eyes as my hubby snapped pictures of us.  It was such a special way to spend time with my beautiful Mommy!
In the evening on Easter, we went to my in-laws home for Easter dinner where my cupcakes decorated the annual bunny cake.

Easter afternoon and on Easter Monday, my brother, his girlfriend, and my sweet niece visited from NY.   My children LOVED seeing their cousin, who they haven't seen since my sister's wedding back in October 2012. Below are few pictures we snapped during their visit.
My 5 year old enjoyed her little cousin so much that she cried when they left and she kept saying I miss her so much!  My cupcakes were very sweet with her and loved playing with her, which gave me so much joy and hope for our baby who will be making his/her arrival late July/early August!
And last, but not least, I just have to share this lovely water garden arrangement my 8 year daughter made using things in our backyard.  We used it as part of our Easter table decoration.  So clever and beautiful, don't you think?

May you have a blessed Eastertide season!


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I'm Tracy. I love my faith, family and on most days, homeschooling my 5 blessings. When I'm not busy baking cakes for my family or making memories in real life or dreaming I had a housekeeper or professional chef, I enjoy documenting a slice of Smith life in blog land.

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