Never Fail Muddy Buddies (aka Puppy Chow)

This recipe is so easy NO ONE can mess it up! But I do have a few tricks to make it easier and a tiny bit more delicious 😉

Muddy Buddies Recipe

This is so easy you will memorize the recipe and keep some on hand all the time (for emergencies only, of course). I use plain ole rice chex, but I am sure you could us any kind you prefer. The nicest thing about this recipe also is you can customize it any way you want! Add, change out, use what you have on hand, whatever you want, the options are endless!

Oh, yea, and I forgot… we DO NOT call them Muddy Buddies – it is Puppy Chow all the way!

Enjoy!

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Puppy Chow Recipe (Muddy Buddies)
Most people call them Muddy Buddies, but we prefer Puppy Chow! A standard recipe with a few pointers to make it easier and fool proof.
Muddy Buddies Recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Muddy Buddies Recipe
Instructions
  1. In a microwave safe bowl, add chocolate chips, peanut butter, butter and vanilla Microwave on 50% power until all melted and smooth. (note: heating on full power may scotch the chocolate. Also, heating too much/hot will scotch the chocolate, once the bowl is too hot to handle and chocolate is soft but still lumpy, remove from microwave and stir with a spatula until chocolate is fully melted)
  2. In an over-sized bowl, put chex mix and pour melted chocolate over it.
  3. Gently mix with a wooden spoon until all cereal is coated with chocolate.
  4. In a gallon bag, pour 1 cup of powdered sugar. Then add the chocolate coated. Then add the remaining cup of powdered sugar. Shake bag until completely coated. Keep in freezer or refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
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Salt Dough Ornaments

Salt Dough Ornaments

Salt Dough Ornaments

Well Thanksgiving is in the books and the Christmas/Yule season is now in full swing. It is a tradition in my family to go get the tree on Thanksgiving day, so the fragrance of pine is already filling the house. We’ve been going to the same man to get our trees for more than 20 years now. Vern is a “Yooper” Or a U-Per, aka someone from the upper peninsula of Michigan, and his wife will tag the best trees every year with a little blue ribbon. So, when we get there the first thing we do is ask the guys there, which Vern’s wife picks are.

Christmas Tree Hunting

It warms my heart to see my father and my son, who is named for my late brother walking through the tree stand looking for the perfect tree. (I am literally tearing up just writing about it.)

So, now that we have finally pulled out the Christmas decor, it’s time to turn our full attention to all the greatness of the Yule season, including, of course, some super adorable keepsake crafts to help commemorate how little your little ones are.

If your kids are anything like my little toddler son, they are growing like weeds. And if the size of his mom and dad are any indication, my little one won’t be little for so long. So, I wanted to make some salt dough ornaments like my parents have of all of us kids form when we were little to try to remember, when he is driving me nuts as a teenager, how cute and tiny his little hands and feet are.

If you’ve never made salt dough before, it is incredibly easy and something you can literally whip up in an afternoon with no prep or thought.

Salt Dough Recipe

1 Cup Salt
1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Water (or just enough to incorporate the other two ingredients into a soft dough)

Instructions

In a large bowl, add salt and flour and mix to combine.  Gradually add the water, using only enough to form a dough. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead until smooth. Roll out to about 1/4″ – 1/2″ thickness. Remember if you want to be able to hang them, the thicker they are the heavier they will be so roll to thickness accordingly.

Once you have it rolled out to desired thickness, cut with cookie cutter or into any shapes you would like. If you would like to hang them, take a nail, pencil, or wooden skewer and make a hole to string your ribbon, rope or cord. Allow to sit and dry out a little bit before putting in the oven. This is a little trick I found make a difference in helping your dough not puff up like you’re backing bread instead of staying crisp and holding it’s shape. Once it starts to dry out a little bit, preheat oven to 180* or as low as it will go and bake. The amount of time it takes for them to completely dry out will depend on how large and thick your ornaments or shapes are.

You want to basically keep your oven as low as possible and just allow them to dry and harden. If you try to do it too fast on a higher heat the dough will “bake” and puff up. I will even some times bake them for a while and then turn the oven off and leave them in the oven to continue to harden for several hours.

The shape you make them is entire up to you! I choose, last year, to make a hand and foot print of my then two-year old. I made a santa out of his hand and a reindeer out of his foot.

Salt Dough Handprint Ornament Salt Dough Reindeer Ornament

This year I want to make something like this, which I saw on Pinterest and was posted here.

Salt Dough Keepsake

 

DIY Birdseed Ornaments

How to make Birdseed Ornaments

DIY Birdseed Ornaments by Ruffled Feathers Birdseed ornaments are a fun, easy project you can do by yourself or with kids as small as toddler age! They are great for decorating a special, “Critter Tree,” as my father-in-law calls it in the yard for the birds, and they make great gifts for teachers, neighbors, and co-workers!

 

Just a few easy ingredients, you might have most in your cupboard already!

You’ll want to follow these steps pretty closely, though, so that you get nice firm ornaments that aren’t too dry to hold together.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C water
  • 3/4 C flour
  • 3 TBS corn syrup
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (such as Klox)
  • 4 C birdseed

Additional tools:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • cooking spray
  • cookie cutters
  • skewer or other implement for making string holes
  • twine or other natural string
  • rubber spatula

Cookie cutters work best if they are at least an inch thick, so that the ornaments are thick enough to be stable and easily hung. Cookie cutters that are very intricate aren’t ideal, either as they are hard to pop the hardened ornament out and maintain the detailed edged.

DIY Birdseed Ornaments

DIY Birdseed ornaments Ruffled Feathers

DIY Birdseed ornaments Ruffled Feathers

DIY Birdseed ornaments Ruffled Feathers

DIY Birdseed Ornaments Ruffled Feathers

11IMG_7571 11IMG_7579 111IMG_7567

Instructions:

  1. Spray the cookie cutters with nonstick spray. Arrange on wax paper. Set aside.
  2. 2. Combine water, corn syrup in a nonstick saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  3. 3. Reduce heat and add gelatin, whisking continually until entirely dissolved. Clumps may appear, but as it gets hot enough, and you continue to stir they will disappear. This is the mixture, which will bind your ornaments together so you do not want to cook it down too much or they will be too dry to hold up.
  4. 4. Transfer liquid to mixing bowl and add flour. Stir the mixture until it is well combined, it will be similar to a thick batter and there should be no large clumps.
  5. 5. Add birdseed and mix until all the seed is well coated. It will be thick and stiff.
  6. 6. Spray your hands thoroughly with nonstick spray and fill each cookie cutter, pack tightly to the top with the birdseed mixture.
  7. 7. Be sure to press firmly into every corner of the cookie cutter, loose or not firmly packed ornaments will fall apart easily. The mixture will dry out quickly, so it is important to work quickly.
  8. 8. Form balls with any extra birdseed mixture.
  9. 9. Create the holes with your lollipop stick or skewer. Make sure your hole goes all the way through. Wiggle the skewer around to be sure the hole is large enough for your twine, and press down the birdseed again before removing the skewer.
  10. 9. Allow ornaments to dry on a wire cooling rack (or just on the wax paper). Wait several hours, or until they are firm enough to remove from the cookie cutter molds.
  11. 10. String the ornaments with your twine or other natural fiber string that will be ok to leave and allow the birds to reuse for their nests once the ornaments are gone!

Making DIY Birdseed Ornaments is a great way to spend a chilly winter’s day with the kid before heading out for a walk in the woods or to your own backyard (and then back inside for some delicious hot cocoa, of course!)

Everyone’s Thanksgiving… in GIFs

You have been preparing for this day all week. You are excited about a gigantic, delicious meal. Get excited.

Plus you’ve been putting in some serious meditation and mental focusing in for the last two weeks to be able to deal with the large amount of crazy that is headed your way dealing with your entire family for a whole day.

And you know that you are going to be halfway drunk by the time you get there any way.

Then it’s time to get ready, and we all know this is a competition so you need to look fierce.

You make your entrance.

See annoying cousin, B-line for the alcohol so that you can feign pretending to care to hear about how well she is getting over that weird rash that has been plaguing her.

Then it’s starting to get late in the afternoon and you are so hungry, and the food is starting to be put out on the table and you’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting until…

Until you’ve eaten your body weight inset potatoes and turkey and you’re all:

Until someone brings out the desserts and you’re all:

Then you realize you’ve upset the ratio of food to alcohol in your stomach and you are all:

Then you realize you literally might be dying.

After dinner and dessert the small talk continues, but by now you’ve had too much to drink and the really messed up conversations begin:

Then it’s time to leave but you are basically immobile from the amount of food you’ve just eaten and the several gallons of alcohol you’ve been consuming for the past 12 hours.

Then you get a cat nap:

Then you realize it’s time to go black friday shopping!

But you’re still drunk and you’re not insane and you remember you don’t go black friday shopping. So…

The BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This post is sponsored by NESTLE® but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

The BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I know it’s cliché but Fall is truly my favorite and I am not afraid to say it. The crisp air and Fall colors and, of course, the spice pallet. I can’t get enough of the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves…  The second I can break out my Cinnamon brooms I get all giddy and excited. And of course, my most favoritest part of Fall – it contains my most favorite holidays: Halloween and Thanksgiving! Christmas is magical, I agree, but here is why Thanksgiving is better: there is none of the pressure of gifts for everyone and ALL of the gathering around a really good meal!

I know you’ve probably been to the grocery store about nine times this week already and we are barely into Monday night. Lists have been made, forgotten, made again, second trips and the last-minute additions. So, who wants to think about the day-before-thanksgiving dinner???

Surely not you. But here is an easy and delicious tradition you can start THIS YEAR without adding anymore stress to your holiday planning.

Ok ok ok … being from Chicago, I am particular about my pizza. BUT, I am also realistic about my ability to get things done easily some times. I also like to keep in mind that my toddler like to eat his pizza from the crust back, so he is particular about the stuffed crust frozen pizzas.

So, for an easy and delicious day-before-Thanksgiving dinner, we do pizza night paired with the most delicious, kid-friendly, and EASY! Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

best day-before-thanksgiving dinnerTo make things even easier on my stress level AND my pocketbook, I will pop into Dollar General  to pick up Libby’s Canned Pumpkin and my toddler’s favorite DiGornio frozen pizza.

Libby’s is my go-to canned pumpkin choice, again, because for us in Chicago, it is a local company and I love to support local businesses. And I always use the gold standard Toll House chips in my cookie recipes.

I just toss the toddler in the car and run down that day and grab the few things I need, and a few things the toddler needs (sure, you can have the Lisa Frank-style coloring book, because we totally need it). ON TOP of that, Dollar General has some pretty kick-ass coupons available for you right now. You can get $1 off your DiGornio’s Pizza and $1.50 off your Chocolate chips!

Drew at Dollar General

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies

So in one quick and cheap trip, dinner for the night before Thanksgiving is taken care of. And don’t worry, I’ve got you covered for a show-stopping Thanksgiving Day breakfast, too.

 

 

This recipe is so crazy easy, DB literally did almost all of it himself. Plus, you don’t need a mixer and it all goes in ONE BOWL!
Drew baking cookiesThis recipe calls for you to melt the butter instead of cream it. Because you want these to be super dense, you only need the yolk to help hold them together.

Drew baking cookies

Drew Baking Cookies Always use high quality Vanilla extract. I find imitation has a tinny after taste.

Drew baking cookies.Plopping the pumpkin into the bowl is always good for a giggle.


 

 

 

 

Licking the spoon is always allowed in our house!Drew baking cookies

Drew Baking cookies

Keeping little fingers out of the bowl was nearly impossible!

 

 

 

 

The best part about this whole set up is that, because the dough has to chill for an hour, you can cook the pizza while it’s chilling and then eat your pizza while the cookies are baking! It is literally genius. To bake up a batch of these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and relax, Thanksgiving will work it’s self out 😉

 

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The BEST Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
A delicious twist on classic chocolate chip cookies that will be sure to please your holiday guests!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Instructions
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, place cubes butter and microwave until completely melted.
  2. Whisk in white and brown sugar until fully incorporated. Allow to cool for several minutes.
  3. Once cool, add egg yolk. Whisk to incorporate.
  4. Add vanilla and pumpkin and whisk to incorporate.
  5. Add salt and all spices. Whisk to incorporate.
  6. Whisk together flour and baking soda. Add to wet mixture and incorporate with a wooden spoon. The dough should be slightly dry and pull away from the side. You should be able to form it into a ball. If the dough is too dry, add small amounts of flour until you reach the correct consistency.
  7. Mix in chocolate chips and refrigerate for 1 hour until chilled.
  8. Roll into 1"-2" balls and place on parchment paper on a baking seat. If the dough has softened due to handling, re-chill. Preheat oven to 350* Bake dough balls for 8-10 minutes or until the edges begin to darken. The cookies will be puffed up and should defeat after you take them out, the centers should still be soft and the edges slightly crispy.
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German Pancakes: An Impressive and Delicious Holiday Breakfast

German Pancake Recipe

Looking to impress your family over the holidays with an out of this world delicious and seriously easy recipe? Give German Pancakes a try. I promise you that regardless of what you’ve heard, this is a foolproof recipe. Clean up is a breeze, making it is simple and the results are an impressive and delicious treat your friends and family will ask for again and again.

With the holidays right around the corner it is nice to have easy yet impressive recipes up your sleeve and this one is no exception, how much easier can you get when you make it in the blender!

AND I’ve got a pro-tip for you to help make clean up even easier! Toss some dish soap in your blender with a few cups of hot water, turn it on and done! You might have a little wiping down left to do, but the majority of the dirty work has been done, especially down in the tiny parts that are hard to clean.

So, this recipe is so easy, but there are a few things I do a little differently than some other recipes. I like mine a little thicker than most, which is why my recipe calls for 9 eggs instead of what most do, which is 6. I also put a bit of cinnamon sugar on the top of mine, while some recipes call for powdered sugar. Either of these are great or a bit of syrup, it is very eggy and fluffy and depending on your taste.

And if you are looking for a delicious and easy idea for dinner the night before Thanksgiving, check out this post with an amazing Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and some other great tips!

So, you preheat the oven to 425* and put the butter in your pan, in the oven to melt.

German Pancakes German Pancakes

Then you simply take the flour, milk, vanilla, salt, and eggs in a blender and blend until smooth!

German Pancakes German Pancakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then after 20-25 short minutes of agony waiting for this delicious Dutch Baby to rise, it will be fluffy and ready to eat! Your only problem will be if your family want seconds and you don’t have enough eggs!

German Pancakes img_6061

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German Pancakes (Dutch Baby)
German Pancakes (or a Dutch Baby) Delicious, unbelievably easy to make, clean up is a breeze and your family and guests will be impressed! Fluffy and eggy!
German Pancakes
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
German Pancakes
Instructions
  1. Combine Cinnamon and Sugar in a small bowl, set aside
  2. Preheat Oven to 425*
  3. Place Eggs, Flour, Milk, Salt, and Vanilla in blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Place Butter in 9' x 13' pan and place in oven.
  5. Once preheated and butter is melted, pour batter into pan. Dust with cinnamon and sugar. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until center is set and pancake is raised around the edges.
Recipe Notes

This is deliciously simple and very eggy. You can choose to leave off the cinnamon sugar and dust with powdered sugar, top with a little bit of syrup or simply enjoy with out any topping at all!

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Thanking our Veterans: Today and Everyday!

Veterans DayToday is Veterans Day. A day set aside to celebrate and honor those who have worn a uniform in protection of our freedom and rights as American citizens.

When I think of the veterans I know, I realize that I am constantly surrounded by them. They are my family, my father-in-law was an Army drill sergeant, my grandfather fought in World War II. My grandfather and grandmotherThey are my close friends I consider family. Everywhere I turn I am surrounded by these selfless, strong, amazingly brave people. And I stand in awe of their decision to put their lives on hold and protect our country. Some of them fought in actual wars and I can’t imagine the invisible scars they carry from having to carry that burden. Some might not have had to go into battle but that matters not in the slightest.

When I think about our veterans I am filled with love and hope for our great country. Then I think about the abhorrent way they are treated by our country and it’s citizens. Funding issues, poor healthcare during and after their service, homelessness, lack of mental health care, lack of support by the same country and people they voluntarily fought for and protected.

Veterans Day

If they are willing to potentially give their lives for our country, the very least we can do is support them 100% and since it will take a literal act of god for our government to change enough to do it, it falls on us, the citizens who enjoy the freedom they defend, to do it.

So, I ask you this Veterans Day, to take up the cause of supporting our military men and women. They deserve it. And there are countless ways you can get involved in the smallest or biggest ways.

Look up where the closest VA is and volunteer.

Write a Thank you letter to a currently service service member

Find a way to help homeless veterans in your area

Support Wounded Warriors

These are just a few of the many many ways you can help Veterans. They deserve our support. We own them at LEAST this much. I hope that you find some way to be supportive in your community.

Veterans Day

Homemade Limoncello

With all of the insanity going on around us, I thought we might need a good homemade hootch recipe to savor. So, here it is, my Homemade Limoncello recipe and all the tips I use when making my highly sought after Limoncello.

Years ago, before I figured out sitting in a cubicle in an office after a hellacious commute wasn’t for me, I worked for a liquor distributor. It was fun, too! Aside from the terrible boss, we got tons of booze (like tons… I had a closet full of wine and liquor and gave boxes and boxes of it away when I moved out of that apartment). So the perks were pretty good even if the job was pretty crappy.

It was during this time I became really interested in infusing my own booze. Homemade hootch and infused booze became a passion of mine that still carried on to this day.

Limoncello is one of my favorites, it is also one of my specialities. I make a few batches each year and always have people asking me when it will be ready.

homemade limoncello

Well, living in the Midwest now, I left lots of people all over the country Limoncello-less, so I thought I would be generous 😉 and share my recipe and my secrets to a delicious, prefect digestive.

So let’s start with a few pointers before we dive into the nuts and bolts of making your ‘cello.

First of all I want to say that it is important to always take what you find and make it yours. Document what you did and what the outcome was so that next time you make it you can tweak, change, add, subtract until you have what YOU consider the perfect Limoncello. It will also help you create your own drinks (orangecello anyone?).

Now, it is important to realize that this is a subtle drink, mean to be consumed after dinner in shot glass or espresso sizes portions. Sipped and savored, not shot and pounded.

It is also meant to taste like… shocker, LEMONS! Not sweet like candy or even syrupy like pop.

You can use any lemons you can find, but for the best flavor, nothing beats the slightly orangey essence and subtle flavor of Meyer Lemons. If you can find organic, all the better but if not, scrub them pretty well before you zest them as you are literally using only the part that was sprayed to death with pesticides and that’s just gross.

meyer lemons

 

The liquor you use matters mostly in relation to the amount of time you are going to allow it to sit.

For example, if you want to use it more quickly (say only a few weeks or a month) after making it, use a more mild vodka. But if you are going to let it age (the way you should) nothing beats a high proof grain alcohol. I always use Everclear, but with it, you have to give it enough time to mellow out. I do no less than two months and upwards of four.

A note on the proof, though, anything less than 100 proof will most likely freeze, so make sure it’s the high proof vodka, not matter what you use.

homemade limoncello

My last tip is, that when zesting, make sure you get as little of the pith (the white part) as possible, it will make your limoncello bitter. I use either a plane grater or a simply handheld zester. Some people shave slices of the peel off, but I think that doesn’t release enough of the oil that you need to make your limoncello really really lemon-y.

Print Recipe
Homemade Limoncello
An exhaustively tested, delicious homemade limoncello recipe to wow your guests or give as gifts.
Homemade limoncello
Prep Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 2 months
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 2 months
Servings
Ingredients
Homemade limoncello
Instructions
  1. Wash the lemons well with a brush to remove any potential wax or residue.
  2. Using a zester or plane grater, zest the lemons making sure you only get the outer yellow portion and none of the white pith. Reserve the lemons for fresh juice, if desired.
  3. Put the lemons in a large mason jar and add Everclear or vodka. Place in a dark cool place like a cabinet for about two weeks, undisturbed.
  4. After two weeks, give the jar a swirl and shake to mix up the lemon peels. At this point you should see they are bleaching out and the liquid is beginning to turn a pretty bright yellow color. Wait until it seems the peels are all bleached, a few more days if not on the 14th day before moving on to the next step.
  5. Once you feel the lemon peels are tapped out, make the simple syrup, by combining the sugar and the water on a stove top and cooking until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool completely before using.
  6. Strain off the lemon peel out of the vodka and discard. Use a fine mesh strainer if it there is still sediment in the liquid, or a colander with a coffee filter or cheese cloth will work in a pinch.
  7. Add the simple syrup, once cool, to your vodka in mason jar and stir to combine (or just place lid on tightly and give it a shake)
  8. Allow to mellow in the back of your freezer for no less than 2 weeks or up to a month and a half. The longer you allow it to mellow the smoother and more delicious it will be.
  9. If you are giving as gifts, find pretty jars to put it in, but make sure they have tight-fitting secure lids. Serve Ice Cold.
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Don’t get mad. Get mobile: My response to the 2016 Election

The 2016 Election was decided late last night and today was spent in utter shock and disbelief. I didn’t think it was possible, but it has happened and now we have to look forward to where we are going.

Protesters

All day long, my strong, brilliant, inspirational feminist friends have been texting, messaging, and emailing me in various states is duress and distress. From keeping distraught children home from school, to crying and depression, to starting a website to help people leave the country.

We are a passionate people. if nothing else has occurred to you in the last two years, it has to be that. Both sides, though, if we stripped away the labels of liberal or conservative are way more a like than we know. We all want what is best for our own lives, for the lives of those that we love and those around us. How those beliefs are shaped is what makes them different. Some come from a religion, other rely on reason and logic alone to guide them. But one thing is clear, we love this country and all of us want it to be great.

I had a good friend write about how she was going to promise her kids certain things and that she wondered what the world would look like when they grew up.

I, too, wondered the same thing. I write a journal to my son, that started before he was born. I write to him so that he can remember not only what was going on in the world, but what was going on in the day-to-day lives of our family.

Generally holidays and celebrations, things like that. Today’s entry was the hardest for me to write. What am I supposed to say?

I sat with an open, empty page for a long time before I wrote this, “I’m not sad. I’m not depressed. I haven’t shed a tear for my beloved country. We’re not leaving and we’re not backing down. When you read this, I hope that history has proven that I fought. That I stood up and said I will not allow hate to win.”

And I meant it.

I mean it now. I’m here to promise that I will fight.

I will choose love. And hope. And joy. And good.

I will fight for his rights. For the rights of others as I can.

Rosie the Riveter

I will show him that his mom and dad stood up. We stood side-by-side with others that didn’t look like us, pray like us or speak like us in the face of those that would otherwise tell them they are unworthy, not good enough, wrong or need to be “cured” and ‘fixed.”

I will help you understand that everyone is different and it is our differences that make us great and make this country strong. Race, color, orientation, beliefs system… there are billions of things that make each of us unique. And each of us has a right to those differences without qualification.

I’m not sad. No. I’m pissed and I hope that history shows that this election mobilized the people for REAL change. Systematic change. Substantive change that means something in real people’s lives.

So this is my charge to you, reader: DO SOMETHING.

Anything. Make a difference in your community. Volunteer. Speak up in the face of prejudice and injustice. Support those that need to be supported because the only way we are going to make it through this is together.

We are stronger together. It’s not just a campaign slogan, it’s just the plain truth.

Whatever your cause is, find a way to make a difference because our country and more importantly our world needs you.

I hope that my son is able to look back and say, “look what my mother did. She made a difference.”

I hope everyone in the future is able to look back and say, “look what they did. They made a difference.”

Don’t get sad. Don’t even get mad. Get out. DO SOMETHING.

positivity quote
[image source: D So Blu, Facebook]
Here is a quick and handy reference list to get you started. It is by no means exhaustive, just a few I found so if you’ve got a great resource, too. Comment with it or send it my way and I’ll post it. These are links to lists of groups you can get involved with:

Veterans Assistance Groups

LGBTQ Groups

Environmental Groups

Immigration-related Groups

Campaign Finance Reform Groups

Bullying Information

Inspiring Thankfulness & Gratitude: Books for Kids

13 of the Best Books on Gratitude and Giving Thanks for Kids

I am a nature lover. A lover of planet earth, of the spiritual nature of all beings and all things on this world. I love cultures and religions that champion the earth and a harmonious living within in.  So, when holidays and seasons come along that have a difficult history to jive with that, such as Thanksgiving, I always try to find a way not to be a Debbie Downer and turn it into a way to still celebrate the spirit of the holiday, while not whitewashing (literally) the bloody history behind it.

13 of the best books on gratitude for kids

Now, especially since I have a son and nieces and nephews, it is important to me to not perpetuate the popular narratives of Thanksgiving, but instead I try to focus on gratitude and being thankful in general rather than the whole “pilgrims and ‘Indians'” sat down for a happy civil meal narrative. Honor the spirit of the holiday, not necessarily the prettily wrapped up history. After all, Squanto was the only one left who survived slavery in English (and small pox) and thus knew the language and that is the reason he was able to negotiate any kind of treaty and thus a civil meal in his honor. It is even doubly important to me to not represent native peoples as caricatures of their culture, especially in the face of the tragedies going on across the country on native lands and specifically at Standing Rock.

So, I have put together a list of children’s books you can share with your little ones or classroom without any remorse, guilt, or misrepresentation. OR, just some plain cute stories about the holiday that aren’t historical at all.

1.Today I Am Grateful: Adventures in Gratitude By: Lorraine Miller

Today I am Grateful: Adventures in Gratitude

“Children can be made more grateful when the adults in their lives teach them how. Today I am Grateful is the perfect springboard for parents and educators to start helping kids see all of the goodness in their life.” —Jeffrey J. Froh, associate professor of psychology at Hofstra University

2. Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks By: John Bucchino

Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks

“In this exquisite picture book and accompanying CD recorded by Art Garfunkel, Anna-Lisa Hakkarainen’s radiant paintings bring John Bucchino’s words to life. A joyous celebration of the beauty of the seasons, the wonders of nature, and the blessings of faith, here is a gift to be treasured by children and adults of all ages.”

3. Thankful By: Eileen Hallinan

Thankful

Who doesn’t love Spinelli?! I know I sure do. “Charming rhymes and whimsical illustrations to convey the importance of being thankful for everyday blessings. Like the gardener thankful for every green sprout, and the fireman, for putting the fire out, readers are encouraged to be thankful for the many blessings they find in their lives.”

4. Let’s Be Thankful By: P K Hallinan

Let's Be Thankful

“With colourful illustrations and charming verse, this book acknowledges people, animals, and activities that bring joy to a child’s life. Parents can read this book with their children to reinforce the concept of gratitude.”

5. Gratitude Soup By: Olivia Rosewood

Gratitude Soup by Olivia Rosewood

“Violet the Purple Fairy learns how to make Gratitude Soup by thinking of all the things, people, places, and experiences that she is grateful for, putting them in an imaginary soup pot. She is able to shrink her pot of soup with her imagination, and she keeps the gratitude warm and flowing in her heart all day and all night.”

6. Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving By: Joseph BruchacSquanto's Journey

This is a close historical version of what really happened, or as close as you are going to get. It tells of Squanto’s capture, but also how the actual original Thanksgiving tradition began. “In 1620 an English ship called the Mayflower landed on the shores inhabited by the Pokanoket, and it was Squanto who welcomed the newcomers and taught them how to survive.”

7. Milly and the Macy’s Parade By: Shana Corey

Milly and the Macys Parade

“In the spirit of Miracle on 34th Street, few people know that the first parade in 1924 was organized by immigrant employees at Macy’s eager to incorporate their old-world traditions into their new American heritage.”

8. Bear Says Thanks By: Karma Wilson

Bear Says Thanks

The Bear Books are fantastic and I highly recommend all of them, so it goes without saying that I would include this one. “Bear has come up with the perfect way to say thanks—a nice big dinner! When Bear decides to throw a feast, his friends show up one by one with different platters of delicious food to share. There’s just one problem: Bear’s cupboards are bare! What is he to do?”

9. Thanks for Thanksgiving By: Julie Markes

Thanks for Thanksgiving

A perfect “spirit of thanksgiving” book! “Everyone knows that Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks—the question is, where to begin? From the turkey on the table to warm, cozy cuddles, life is full of small things and bigger pleasures. But what is most important is being able to share them with family!”

10. The Quiltmaker’s Gift By:

The Quiltmaker's Gift

A great fable story about the joy of giving and how it can change even the coldest of hearts. Really a great story.

11. Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message By: Chief Jake Swamp

Giving Thanks

This is one of my favorites. “Giving Thanks is a special children’s version of the Thanksgiving Address, a message of gratitude that originated with the Native people of upstate New York and Canada and that is still spoken at ceremonial gatherings held by the Iroquois, or Six Nations”

12. The Thankful Book By: Todd Parr

The Thankful Book

Todd Parr is one that I always recommend to parents looking for great kids picture books. “The Thankful Book celebrates all the little things children can give thanks for. From everyday activities like reading and bathtime to big family meals together and special alone time between parent and child, Todd inspires readers to remember all of life’s special moments. The perfect book to treasure and share, around the holidays and throughout the year.”

13. Giving Thanks By Jonathan London

Giving Thanks

This is another one I ALWAYS recommend and is exactly what I envision Thanksgiving to be able. Finding ways to thank mother earth for her bounty and beauty. “How can a young boy ever show his gratitude for all the beauty he sees? He will learn from his father, who thanks the earth and the sky, the frogs and the crickets, the hawk and the deer, even the trees that wave their arms in the breeze. Majestic as the most beautiful autumn day and filled with glimpses of favorite woodland animals, GIVING THANKS is truly a gift to readers from nature-lover Jonathan London and master painter Gregory Manchess.”

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