Getting your life together – how to create a 5-year plan and a weekly cleaning schedule

Creating a 5-year plan

They say a goal with out a plan is just a wish.

My husband and I have so many plans. We are always planning. We are always talking about what we want to do, accomplish. We talk and talk and talk and it always comes back to, “if we could just get things together,” or, “we need to get a game plan together.”

We wanted to take charge of our lives. We’ve had some pretty big things happen in the last year. We bought a new (to us) car, bought our first house, we are int he process of buying a business. We wanted to be able to confidently say where we were going and honestly answer the question, “where do we see ourselves in 5 years.”

Personal growth and development is important. For everyone.

It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but don’t fret. It is easier than you think!

I looked at tons of website that recommended lots of different categories, and we picked which ones fit our lives best. I suggest you do the same.

We ended up with:

Financial – savings, debt, budget, spending

Family/Relationships – significant other, children, family, friends

Career – career changes, advancement

Home Life – running your household, meal planning, organization, cleaning routines

Health/Fitness – weight loss, competitions, yoga,

Self-care – exercise, meditation, eating habits, connection with your spirituality

Travel – where you would like to travel

Passions – creative pursuits, reading, writing, other hobbies

Social/community – volunteer work, community service, charities

Personal development – education, conferences, books, classes

What we did was we asked and answered these questions about each category: 

  • What is it you want to achieve?
  • What are the steps I need to take to make that goal happen?

We have been holding each other accountable and it has been great. Two weeks in and we are still as excited about it as when we were just talking about it. It’s still the beginning but at least it’s a start! Not just talking, but actual real actions!

One of the greatest game changers and the quickest way we could tell we were on the right track was implementing our cleaning schedule. We started with a semi-clean house but with a few things we needed to clean out on the day that was scheduled (like our entry-way for example.) But having our house clean has been the biggest and most noticeable change in our daily lives. Having the house clean has been so great for motivating us to start on track with our other goals. It has helped make our weekends better. We are able to spend our free time doing things together instead of with the kid bugging us and us trying to get anything done. I looked through a lot of different ones online and picked the one that I thought would work best for our family. And sticking to it has been a nonnegotiable for the past two weeks and it has been incredible.

Here is the one we used:

Cleaning Schedule

[source]

weekly cleaning schedule

[source]

[source]

Vanilla Syrup Recipe

Vanilla Syrup Recipe

You’re gonna want to try this Vanilla Syrup Recipe, like… now.

I recently made this to go into a basket of homemade goodies for an auction I throw in for Highland Games. Throwing for the Cure has become such an amazing event, I am happy that I can contribute something that people not only look forward to but are starting to fight over! The money raised is for such a good cause, I’m glad I can do my little part. My homemade hooch basket almost started some fights this year! 😉

This basket included Vanilla Syrup, Peach Syrup, Strawberry Margarita syrup, Strawberry Ginger Ale Jam and a few other goodies. I thought it would be good to share this recipe since it is SO quick, simple and the most delicious thing ever. I always make up a batch when I make homemade buttermilk waffles or pancakes. It goes perfectly and makes just enough for the morning.

Don’t be intimidated by making your own syrup. It’s much easier than you think! Give it a try next time you’re making the family or that special someone a delicious breakfast. Don’t tell them how easy it is and just let them be impressed at how delicious it is 😉

Vanilla Syrup Recipe

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Vanilla Syrup Recipe
Vanilla Syrup Recipe
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Vanilla Syrup Recipe
Instructions
  1. In medium size pot bring water to a boil. Once boiling add in the sugar and cornstarch. Stir constantly for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat. Add in butter, salt, and vanilla. Stir until butter is completely melted.
  3. Allow to cool prior to using. Keep refrigerated for up to one week. Syrup may separate, simply bring to room temperature and high in microwave for 30 seconds on medium power, stir until re-incorporated fully.
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Crock Pot Peach Butter

Crock Pot Peach Butter

Crock Pot Peach Butter

You wouldn’t think that peach picking in the mid-west would be something we’d get into but… you’d be wrong. Although it was fun, as we do pick-your-own for just about every season we can here. Peach picking in the mid-west was exactly as you’d expect: not all that great. Many peaches were not good. I expect it is difficult to grow them up here, but we had a blast all the same.

We road tripped it across the boarder into Wisconsin, as we are want to do, and hit up an apple picking hot spot, Apple Holler, and on an over cast Sunday we had the run of the place.  The little one was able to take a train ride, a horse ride, and got his face painted. It was an amazing day.

Crock Pot Peach ButterCrock Pot Peach Butter  Crock Pot Peach Butter Crock Pot Peach Butter

Now, I make Apple Butter every year. It is one of the staples of my homemade kitchen arsenal. So when I came across several recipes for Peach Butter I had to try it. And it did NOT disappoint. It is very much like Apple Butter because it has the same spice profile but it has a different sweetness than you get from delicious ripe peaches.

I have never peeled peaches before and I have read several times about boiling them then putting them in an ice bath and then the peels would slip off. I didn’t think it could possibly be that easy but let me tell you if I didn’t do it with my own two hands I would have never believed it. It was incredible. If you haven’t tried this method of peeling peaches you should!

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Crock Pot Peach Butter
Delicious, sweet and different but best of all easy! Crock Pot Peach Butter.
Crock Pot Peach Butter
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Crock Pot Peach Butter
Instructions
  1. Bring a large stock pot of water to a boil. Once at a full rolling boil, place the peaches in the water for 1 minute. (This method works best with peaches that are ripe and ready to eat).
    Crock Pot Peach Butter
  2. Remove the peaches from the boiling water using a slotted spoon and place them into a large ice bath. Let the peaches sit for a minute or two. The peels will slide right off. (Seriously, it's like magic!)
    Crock Pot Peach Butter
  3. Cut peaches into slices, place in crock pot.
  4. Add all spices and sugar into crock pot with peaches.
    Crock Pot Peach Butter
  5. Cook on LOW for several hours. Check after 3 or 4o hours to see consistency. The cook time will vary depending on how much juice is in the peaches.
  6. Once the peaches are cooked down enough, using an emersion blender, blend until smooth.
  7. Ladle peach butter into half pint canning jars. Process in boiling water for 5 minutes. Check jar lids by pushing on the tops to ensure they have sealed.
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Extra Moist Banana Bread

Extra Moist Banana Bread

Extra Moist Banana Bread

Move over ever other Banana Bread recipe you’ve ever used. Here comes the best, most moist, banana-y flavored, knock your socks off Banana Bread Recipe you have ever shoved in your mouth. This Extra Moist Banana Bread recipe is the most delicious thing I’ve ever made. I’m not kidding.

It has a few unusual ingredient you might have seen in other “moist banana bread” recipes such as instant pudding and greek yogurt, but amounts have been exhaustively tried in my “test kitchen” 😉 You might find that there are pockets of the loaf that seem like they like they are raw or uncooked but that is the beauty of this recipe, it is actually what the pudding does, it makes it seem raw/uncooked but it is just little pockets of deliciousness.

Extra Moist Banana Bread

More great recipes:

Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Bailey’s Fudge

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

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Extra Moist Banana Bread
Extra Moist Banana Bread
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 90 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 90 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Extra Moist Banana Bread
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease loaf pan well with nonstick cooking spray
  3. Cream in a large bowl with paddle attachment butter and 1 cup of the brown sugar. It will be light color and completely combined.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, mix until combined.
  5. Add yogurt, bananas, and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and instant pudding. With mixer on slow, add dry mix slowly, until JUST combined. Your batter will be thick and lumpy but do not over mix. It is better to mix with your mixer and not by hand as by hand you will more than likely over mix it.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. With remaining brown sugar and cinnamon: mix together and sprinkle over batter, pat down and even out.
  8. Bake 30 minutes uncovered. After 30 minutes, tent tin foil over pan to continue baking. Bake an additional 30 minutes, check for doneness. Your bread my require between 30-60 additional minutes of baking while tented depending on how large your loaf pan is.
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Fall Tip: Preserving Pumpkins for Decorating Your Home

How to preserve mini pumpkins to decorate your home.

How to preserve mini pumpkins to decorate your house for Fall.

This is a popular search on Pinterest this time of year and I get asked by friends and family all the time how I keep my Fall decor to fresh through the entire time I have it up so, here it is! I get it! I’m right there with you, the second the clock strikes August you are itching to get your Fall decor out and make your home all cozy and full of Higge. But it is way to early to get your pumpkins and not have them rotten in a few week, let alone make it through the holidays.

How to Preserving Mini Pumpkins to decorate your home for Fall:

What you will need:

  • A Wash tub, large pot, or a cleaned stoppered sink.
  • Bleach
  • Vaseline (petroleum jelly)
  • Soft cloth or paper towel

Step 1: Soak your pumpkins in a solution of 10 parts water to 1 parts bleach. Let them soak, upside down (this keeps them in the water more) for around 10 minutes.

How to Preserve mini pumpkins

Step 2: Dry them thoroughly, I usually let them sit for a  few minutes, too. Then buff them all shiny and pretty with a dab of vaseline to seal them and make them shine. This keeps bacteria from getting in.

Note: If you notice that they get some mar on the skin, nicked somehow or the stem falls off, soak them again to kill any germs or bacteria and then reseal them. The vaseline acts as a sealant keeping anything out.

Preserved well, your pumpkins should last for several weeks and a few months even! Check them every so often to make sure they aren’t getting any soft spots. If they do, they are starting to rot, you’ll want to toss them.

Then you can decorate your mantel and all around your home with your mind at ease! Then YOU can be the envy of your friends having your house impeccably Fall-ready come September 1!

Looking for some pumpkin baking inspiration? Check out my pumpkin chocolate chip recipe and check back soon for my Crock Pot Apple Butter Recipe. Also check out my Fall Family Bucket List Printable, too!

Free Fall Family Bucket List Printables

Free Fall Family Bucket List printable

A collection of great Bucket Lists from around Pinterest. Everyone LOVES Fall and I, for one, don’t mind saying it or showing it! The weather is beautiful, the leaves are showing off, why WOULDN’T you want to get out and do some amazing things with your loved ones? Love Pumpkin Spice? Stand proud! Don’t let anyone dull your pumpkin spice love, you don’t need that negativity in your life. Ha!

If you are looking for some more Fall inspiration? How about the BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chicago Cookie Recipe? Or a delicious Thanksgiving Mac and Cheese Recipe? Planning a wedding and looking for Fall Wedding Inspiration? Or my absolutely Favorite thing ever: Baked Apple Cider Donuts

So without further ado, here are a few for JUST the kids, a blank one to make your own, plus a few for the adults, too 😉

Free Fall Family Bucket List printableFree Fall Family Bucket List printable  Free Fall Family Bucket List printable

If you are looking for more Fall inspiration, check back soon for my upcoming posts on Crock Pot Apple Butter, How to Preserve Pumpkins, How to throw a kick ass Halloween party and Halloween Bucket List printable, too!

 

I do not own these designs, please see Pinterest link above for original posts or websites listed on images.

Adorable, Easy, and kid-friendly DIY 4th of July Star Shirts

Adorable, Easy, and kid-friendly DIY 4th of July Star Shirts

So a little late but better than never! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but you know how it is.. life!

This past 4th of July was a riot and marathon of a long weekend. Our family usually spends the holiday together, hanging out at my parents house or at my father’s boat on the lake, generally letting all the grandkids run wild like animals until they fall asleep where they stand some time well after their bed time. It is my opinion that this is the best way for little kids to spend long, hot summer days! We set up a “redneck water park” by filling a few inflatable pools, a slip n slide, and hundreds and hundreds of water balloons!

DIY 4th of July Star Shirt DIY 4th of July Star Shirts

I had alerted my sisters that I wanted to take some photos of all the grandkids during this weekend because we didn’t have any recent, decent photos of not only all of them together, but the individual kids. So, I also wanted something cute for Drew and Owen, the other boy in the set of cousins to wear for the photos since the girlies always have cute matching outfits.

So, I did what anyone does these days… I took to Pinterest! I found a photo of a cute shirt with stars and new my little one would love to help make it. I set out to pick up the supplies I needed the tI didn’t have. They are pretty cheap and not only easy to get but you most likely have many of them already! If you are looking for an adorable easy and kid-friendly DIY 4th of July Star Shirt, look no further.

Adorable Easy kid-friendly DIY 4th of July Star Shirts

Adorable Easy kid-friendly DIY 4th of July Star Shirts

You’ll need:

– Freezer Paper

– A small spray bottle

– Paint

– A T-shirt

– An Iron

– Cut outs of stars (or whatever shapes you’d like)

First you will need to print out the shapes for a stencil for the freezer paper.

Adorable Easy kid-friendly DIY 4th of July Star Shirts

Once you have your stencils and you’ve cut out the freezer paper, you’ll need to take a warm iron and iron the freezer paper to the shirt in the pattern you’d like. Make sure you put some newspaper inside the shirt to make sure the stars don’t stick to the back and to make sure the paint doesn’t soak through.

Adorable Easy kid-friendly DIY 4th of July Star Shirts

While you are waiting for the stars to set from ironing, mix your paint. Take about a quarter of the spray bottle and fill it with paint, then mix it with a bit of water so it is nice and thin and you are able to easily spray it out of the bottle. Then there is nothing left to do but put some newspaper down and let your little one go to town! The best part is it is nearly impossible for even the tiniest of hands (or most destructive of toddlers!) to mess up!

Adorable Easy kid-friendly DIY 4th of July Star Shirts

Adorable Easy kid-friendly DIY 4th of July Star Shirts

Then all you need to do is simply peel of the stars and there you have it! The cutest, easiest and most fun you can have and you end up with a cute shirt for the little one to wear for the 4th of July holiday!

Adorable Easy kid-friendly DIY 4th of July Star Shirts

And the kids turned out as cute as buttons! Of course… there is always the toddler factor. Like when your son, who was SO EXCITED to wear the shirt he made and then when the day comes throwing a HUGE fit and not want to wear it. That’s life with a toddler amiright?! At least one cutie wanted to wear it and since then the little one has wanted to wear it all the time. Go figure!

Grumpy pants…

But they are kinda cute and we got some good photos of them all. 😉

How to Bring Summer Fun to the Dead of Winter

This post is sponsored by Kalahari Resorts and Conventions, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

kalahari resort pocono

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: TripAdvisor

My toes are jammed into the bottom of two pairs of socks. My phone says it is currently 28 degrees here and feels like it’s around 10 degree.

Weather image

On days when it isn’t too bitterly cold to get the little one outside, we play in the snow, go for short walks… but most times we just dream of warm sun and water parks. If there is one thing our family (read: my husband and toddler) love it is water parks!

Kalahari Resorts  Kalahari Resorts

And in these cold winter days, we are planning a dream vacation to the new Kalahari Resort in the Poconos. They recently rolled out their Phase II, adding so many exciting new rides and adventures, I have been stalking their website wishing we would take a weekend get-a-way.

Wait, did I NOT yet mention it is an INDOOR WATER PARK? Yea, you read that right. And to sweeten the winter trip planning pot, in March 2017, Kalahari Resorts location will be home to America’s Largest Indoor Water park. With a true 220,000 square feet of attractions, new additions to the indoor water park will include:

How Awesome is this!

Eight New Slides:
o Screaming Hyena: A trap-door start that drops into a near-vertical plunge at up to 25 mph

kalahari resort poconos

Image Credit: Family Road Traveled YouTube

o Sahara Sidewinder: An indoor looping water slide that takes guests on a 250-plus-foot journey

o “The Smoke That Thunders” and Victoria Falls: Named after the natural wonder of the world located in southern Africa, it will provide unforgettable water slide experiences

o Kenya’s Korkscrew: Zig-zag slide

o Zig-Zag Zebra:Tunnel slide

o Cheetah Race Mat Slide:Challenge your friends to see who gets down the hill fastest

o Elephant’s Trunk
• Dungeons of Hout Bay Wavepool
• Lazy River Expansion
• Coral Cove Kids’ Play Area

Coral Cove Kalahari Resorts
• Additional Swim-Up Bar and the Paxton Grotto
• Cabana Island to offer guests a prime location to call home while they splash the day away

Additional Amenities to Enhance the Beyond-Expectations Guest Experience
• 520 rooms, which brings the resort total to nearly 1,000 guest rooms including two new styles exclusive to the Poconos

• Dining:
o Double Cut Charcoal Grill/Liquor Bar: Kalahari’s signature steak house experience featuring: premium cuts of meat, craft cocktails, family style sides and more
o Sortino’s Italian Kitchen: A new-aged, red-sauced restaurant where old-school Italian cuisine meets the modern age.
o Marrakesh Market: Grab and go convenience bazaar style shopping, unique gifts, authentic-African items and everyday needs

o 30,000-sq.-ft. extension to the family entertainment center including the new virtual reality experience, The Arena

o An additional Kalahari Fitness and Training Center

So, even though it is a trek for us right now, and we have visited the park in the Wisconsin Dells, we would love to plan a trip to this location. Being located in the Poconos, it is not but a hop skip and a jump from pretty much the entire Northern Eastern seaboard.

It improved my mood just looking at the photos of this place and my husband caught me stalking their website and immediately took out his calendar to try to find time to get there. All in all the updates to this amazing looking resort look like they are worth a weekend trip or even a longer expedition. I know our family will be trying to make it out as soon as we can.

New Years Traditions (And what the heck is Hogmanay?!)

Happy New Year!

New Year Traditions are so interesting, but none more exciting or widely celebrated than that of Hogmanay, the most wide of all New Years Traditions.

Well, we made it. Barely, but we made it through this terrible, crappy, often times insane year. Many of us have been crawling, weary and ragged towards December 31st. It is the time of year when we reflect on the year past and look forward to making positive changes in the new year. There are things you can do to prepare yourself for the year to come, more than simply making a cheesey resolution you won’t keep after a week.

But first, lets take a look at one of the coolest new years celebrations in the world: The Scottish Hogmanay.Hogmanay

Hogmanay is a very big deal in Scotland. It’s the biggest day in the festive calendar, a celebration that makes Christmas Day seem very small indeed – and it’s like nothing else on Earth. Hogmanay is what the Scots call their New Year’s Eve celebrations. The origins of the word are unclear – some say it’s a corruption of the Greek words for ‘holy month’, others that it’s of French origin – but the celebrations themselves go back centuries.

It wasn’t until relatively recently that the Scots even began celebrating Christmas (since it was banned for almost 400 years), so what we know as traditional holiday celebrations aren’t all that popular yet. So, where did it come from and why is it a big deal?

When the Vikings began to raid around the Winter Solstice, they partied afterwards, and after many years, the celebrations began to mix with the celebrations of Samhain and Yule and ultimately ended up being the celebration of Hogmanay (if you’ll allow me to condense things quite a bit for brevity).

In addition to a huge (several days long) party, there are a lot of traditions associated specifically with Hogmanay in Scotland.

They do their “Spring cleaning: “In some communities, or the ritual cleaningof the kitchen for Passover, families traditionally did a major cleanup to ready the house for the New Year. Sweeping out the fireplace was very important and there was a skill in reading the ashes, the way some people read tea leaves.” –

The two most widely known (and the ones I love most) are the First-Footing

First-footing

Of course, all over the world, people sing Robert Burns‘ version of this traditional Scottish air. How it became the New Year’s song is something of a mystery, and honestly what it replaced is one of my favorite tradition songs that I sing to my son every single night (The Parting Glass). At Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, people join hands for what is reputed to be the world’s biggest Auld Lang Syne.

You can work on actively releasing the negative parts of the part year and walking into the new year with intention and real, attainable goals. You can also help lift your spirits and sort of, ungunk your self, your home and basically your life!

A lesser known or practiced tradition but one I do much more often than just at New Years is Smuding. I like to smudge my house for the new year and if you’ve never smudged, you are missing out!

Smudging is burning herbs, most commonly Sage, to get rid of negative energy on yourself, your home or any space. Smudging can be useful when you’re feeling depressed, angry, resentful, unwell or if you have felt or are feeling a negative presence in your home or you are feeling unwanted spirits. You would normally use a smudge stick to do it, and you can make your own, or simply buy one at a new age store. Smudging is thousands of years old. it was used by Native Americans, in ancient Rome and in Greece. In ancient Egypt it was used as a way to cleanse a space from bad spirits and negative energy.

SmugdingTo Smudge: light a smudge stick and let it catch fire. Extinguih the fire and let the smoke billow from the stick. Walk around your home letting the smoke get everywhere, in every room, in cupboards and small spaces. The smoke is not dangerous and will not harm you, your pets or small children. Use a bowl to catch any ashes.

Another way to mentally prepare yourself for the new year is to get real about what happened in the last year and physically write down some goals for the new year.

Sit down and write a letter to yourself.

  • List 3 things that worked for you in 2016. Make a commitment to continue to do those things.
  • List 3 things that didn’t work for you in 2016. Make a commitment to change those things.
  • List out the best parts of the past year.
  • List out the worst/hardest part of the past year.
  • Write out your hopes for the new year.
  • Decide on and write out your focus for the new year.

But until we start having our own fire festivals in full viking regalia… Hogmanay will have our New Years beat. Either way, Happy New Year everyone!

Do you have a particular way you ring in the new year?

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

There are an infinite number of shortbread recipes out there in ever flavor imaginable. It is a great cookie to try to put your own stamp on. Several year ago i came across a Red Velvet Shortbread Cookie recipe, but had yet to make these delicious sounding cookies. So, I thought this year was the year.

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

I love shortbread for its smooth and not overly sweet flavor and with these, the addition of the cocoa makes them even more delicious. I chose to dip them in some white chocolate and add holiday colored sprinkles just to be festive but you can choose to leave it off, dip them in something else or find another unique way to make them special!

Enjoy!

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Red Velvet Short Bread Cookies
Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325*
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, and cocoa.
  3. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter. About halfway through, add the food coloring and blend until the mixture looks like fine crumbles.
  4. Form into a ball and knead until smooth.
  5. On a floured or cornstarch surface, roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a floured or cornstarch cookie cutter, cut out. (I used a round 1 1/2 inch cookie cutter)
  6. Place cookies on an uncreased cookie sheet no less than 1 inch apart. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I set the timer for 15 minutes and check every few minutes until the centers are set.
  7. Melt chocolate over a double boiler until completely melted. Dip or roll in chocolate and cover with sprinkles.
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