14 Feb 2017

10 on 10 :: February 2017

The 10th has come and gone the past few months... honestly most days i don't know what day of the week it is, let alone the day of the month. Life is full right now. Busy, tiring, full of noise, and cleaning and sick kids, and beautiful baby smiles. I wouldn't trade it for anything... These 10 on 10 are kind of a glimpse of our day, at this stage of life and i love having them to remember the details of family life, even in these sleep deprived days.

Baby boy has actually started sleeping through the night. Hallelujah! So here's to celebrating that i actually remembered it was the 10th this month! There are supposed to be 10 photos... but why give needless brain power to counting. This is our day on the 10th of Febraury 2017. Enjoy!


8 Feb 2017

Lifestyle Photoshoot :: Wrocław Zoo with the Grandparents

The kids don't see their grandparents too often as we live in Europe. In January, Grandma & Grandpa Taylor came to visit from Florida. As a Christmas present we gave them a Lifestyle Photoshoot... and the only warm place we could think of to do it in the winter was the zoo! We love the Wrocław Zoo, especially the new Afrikarium.  It's basically a huge aquarium with an African flair, built in the shape of Noah's Ark!

Not an easy task with 4 little ones, but thankful our boys will have these photos to remember! Here are some of my favourite images from the day. Enjoy ~ 





11 Jan 2017

30 Recipes for Tired Moms :: A List of Make Now, Serve Later Meals



We have 4 boys under the age of 6, so life is busy around here to say the least! We've had the amazing help of a live in nanny for the past 4 months. {thank you Hannah & missionnannys.org!) But now that she's going home next week I need to figure out how to have dinner made before the older 3 get home from preschool. I figured having them all in one place would be helpful for me, and may in the process help some other desperate moms of littles out there! 

If you like pretty pictures i have most of them pinned on Pinterest. I like food pictures, but at times lists just work easier! These recipes are pretty much ALL prep ahead - eat later. Bonus points for {crockpot} and meals that feed 6-8 (so we have some leftovers, or can easily invite guests!) Oh, and they're in random order - because that's just how my brain works these days.

  1. brocolli & tortellini casserole - this is a family favourite! super cheesy & yummy that the little don't even mind the brocolli!
  2. lasagne casserole - this is easy and yummy and makes a lot! we always have left overs (which is rare in these parts!)
  3. baked ziti with spinach & tomatoes - another one of our favourites that i got from my amazing sister. i make my own sausage since we can't buy it     here. you can check out the DIY american breakfast sausage recipe we love here.
  4. turkey (or chicken) pot pie with cheddar biscuit crust - YUM. honestly i usually wing it with my pot pie making... but this recipe is great! and i love the cheddar biscuit     crust - it really makes it worth it!
  5. hamburger chowder - from my friend Connie Patty
  6. morroccan chicken, chickpea & apricot tagine {crockpot} - a nice reminder of North Africa, and a super yummy original crockpot meal. we usually eat it with couscous!
  7. bbq chicken {crockpot} 
  8. shepherd's pie - best if we have left over mashed potatoes! and i use ground pork or beef because it's easier to find. easy to make ahead.
  9.  roast chicken + potato wedges - we really like this roast sticky chicken-rotisserie style chicken rub, for the             potatoes i usually throw them in oil and whatever spices i have around or feel like. right now i have a store             bought mix that i use. it just makes things easier.
  10. tex mex chicken & rice casserole  - this is a new one to try out!
  11. disney loaded baked potato soup - we ♥ this soup!
  12. every day meat balls + spaghetti - also a new recipe to me.
  13. pioneer woman meatloaf + mashed potatoes - LOVE the pioneer woman, all of her recipes are super YUM!
  14. chicken & spinach pasta bake - this is yummy and pretty easy.
  15. pulled bbq chicken sandwiches - mix cooked shredded chicken & bbq sauce & heat... put on fresh bread. tada!
  16. chicken (dumpling/noodle) soup - made this last night and it was yummy, and filling with the dumplings!
  17. chicken & spinach lasagne - this is super yummy. a little more time needed to make it but worth it!
  18. chicken enchiladas - these are SUPER yummy and go great with a side of rice & a salad
  19. pioneer woman chicken spaghetti - oh so cheesy & creamy! 
  20. chilli + cornbread - this chilli recipe is amazing. i always change it up and basically add whatever ingredients i have and leave out what i don't!
  21. chicken taco soup {crockpot} - a tasty, leave it to cook and come back and eat at dinner time meal.
  22. ravioli soup 
  23. creamy potato soup {crockpot}
  24. pioneer woman chicken tortilla soup
  25. lemon chicken + Rice 
  26. pork roast with carrots & potatoes 
  27. carrot soup - a new recipe to try... i like soup with fresh bread! (the thermomix makes this easy)
  28. salsa chicken casserole - 5 minute prep? yes please. this is yummy, i just have to be careful with salsa while i'm nursing baby boy... he doesn't like hot & spicy!
  29. baked beans & sausage (fasolka bo bretońsku) - a new recipe a friend gave me in polish. hubby doesn't really like beans, but looks like it might be a good easy meal, so we're going to give it a try!
  30. thermomix garlic/rosemary pizza - our go to "we have nothing in the house meal"... only the key is having a thermomix (it basically makes it for you!)



It's not always super rewarding and my kids don't always eat everything i put in front of them. But we are trying to teach them to be gracious and to try everything. It brings me great joy when even one of them says, "It was yummy" or "thanks mommy for dinner", unprompted. Usually the others chime in with the same! 

10 Dec 2016

Christmas Cookies with Kids :: Recipes to Make with Toddlers


Christmas cookie making can be messy! It's definitely not the first thing I'm eager to do with the boys, but they LOVE helping me in the kitchen. And eventually I'd love help in feeding this gang of boys, so it would be amazing if they have some kitchen skills! 

In case you're looking for some 'kid friendly' recipes to make memories with your little ones, I thought i'd share 2 of my favourite recipes! I consider these recipes 'kid friendly' meaning that they can play some active roll in helping and at least for us it didn't end in disaster!


When i think "Christmas Cookies" i think sugar cookies. You know, the kind you see on Pinterest... that are beautiful, colourful & artistic. The only problem is that i live in a house full of toddlers/preschoolers and that whole "sugar cookie bake & decorate thing" is just going to have to wait a few years until these little ones of mine can tie their own shoes, clean up their own messes and yes, decorate their own cookies!

But I've found a solution that works for us... these Chewy Sugar Cookies! The reason that i love this recipe is that is is SUPER EASY! I discovered it 2 years ago, and we make them every year as part of our advent activity calendar. I let the kids take turns putting the ingredients in the bowl, which makes them oh so happy! Seriously it takes less than 5 minutes to make the dough... that's right up my alley!

This year they were old enough to roll the balls (with a bit of help) and decorate them (with limited supplies). Our boys are 3, 4, 5 years old right now and daddy helped the 3 year old.

The BEST Chewy Sugar Cookies Recipe
Author: 
Serves: 36 cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  2. Cream together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and mix until well-combined.
  3. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.
  4. Scoop cookie dough by the tablespoon full and roll into a ball.
  5. Place cookie dough onto baking sheet, spacing about 1½-inches to 2 inches apart. Lightly press each cookie down. Add Christmas decor on top of the cookies. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.



#2 - Canadian Cookies

A sweet friend of mine shared this recipe with me years ago. I'm not sure entirely how the got their name but it was endearing to me since my American friend gave it to me 'the Canadian'! The are really yummy and the reason they work well to do with the littles is basically the dough is the consistency of play dough! I made the cookie dough the night before and then the boys helped me roll the balls. Seriously it went 4x faster than if i had done it myself! After they had cooled, my calmest child helped me put the tops on the cookie & jam sandwiches (which he thought was the BEST IDEA ever!) What kid wouldn't take 2 cookies while calling it one?!? Now that i think about it what adult wouldn't either?!!


Canadian Cookies
Serves: 36 cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
Apricot jam

Instructions:
  1. Beat butter, shortening, brown sugar and eggs in large bowl.  
  2. Stir in honey and vanilla.  
  3. Mix flour and baking soda together in a small bowl.  
  4. Add to shortening mix and stir until blended.  
  5. Chill several hours or overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F.  
  7. Shape dough into walnut sized drops.  
  8. Place on ungreased baking sheet (or baking paper).  
  9. Bake 10-12 minutes.  
  10. When slightly cooled, spread jam onto one cookie and sandwich together with another cookie.  
*the Canadian in me is interested in substituting maple syrup for the honey! maybe next year...






Merry Christmas! And happy baking with your littles... remember the messes & the little years won't last but the memories will!

11 Nov 2016

10 on 10 :: November 2016

I haven't done one of these since May! Life's been a little busy to say the least!

But i really do love capturing of our day in 10 photos... life as it is at the moment, realizing that every day the boys are growing and changing, and there will never be another day exactly like today.

On this particular day the big boys were at preschool and a coffee playdate got cancelled, so we spent a "relaxed" morning at home.

playing the stacking game 

morning devotional + coffee 


 reading books

baby boy 

puzzles 

being a good big brother (he did this when i left for 30 seconds to move the laundry to the dryer!) 

build a bear 

fisher price bus 

lunch time 

brothers!
(this is actually from this morning but i added it to make 10 :)

1 Nov 2016

capturing & preserving memories {photography}

My blog has been a bit neglected in lieu of most of my energy going into trying to keep 4 little people alive, fed and clean! Anyone who has followed me for any time knows that there are seasons...



Recently i've been reflecting on how to best share our family photos with our kids. I read this article on the Huffington Post about Family Portraits and it made me smile... that at least we're doing a few things right. When we grew up photography and photo albums seemed so much simpler... like there were fewer options. The problem in those days was having boxes of negatives around... We held on to them wondering will i ever need to reprint or use these again? Now we have hard drives full of digital images. And the more time you've invested into learning photography, the likelihood is the more hard drive space you're taking up! But at least back in the day people got their film developed... they had to! And those photos usually made it into albums that you could open and look at. 

Can i share something? I'm concerned for our kids... that the most documented generation will have very little actually preserved, that we will hand our kids not a box full of negatives but a hard drive full of images... that they will never look at! So a friend and i are setting out to cull down our images, purposefully reducing the # of images stored each month to have a more useful collection of memories. But I also want to make sure we are printing our photos. Here are 3 ways:

1. Family Photo Albums - I've posted in the past that we love Blurb albums for our family year books. I've been making these since we got married (2010) and we love having them completed each year after Christmas and delivered soon after! What a joy it is to look back on our family adventures, and watch our family grow! But the kids don't get to look at these albums... at least not without an adult. We have .pdf versions as well and can always have them reprinted, but our kids are still small (the oldest of 4 being almost 6).

2. Kid Albums - It's hard to know what to do for the kids... i've debated this in my head for a long time. I really do want them to have something to look at, as kids LOVE looking at photos. (We usually have a slide show of family photos as our screen saver on our TV in our living room!) But this year with this amazing promo from chatbooks, i was sold. (If you haven't seen it yet, it is seriously hilarious!) So our kids will be getting custom chatbooks this year in their stockings! (or maybe a bit later, since Santa's sleigh aka. our north american delivery will be in January).


I used mostly instagram photos, because i love the daily aspect of 'life' that's captured there, and added a few of my favourites from my DSLR of each of the boys to make them look a little nicer and give them a nice cover photo. They cost $14 each, which is totally reasonable and i hope they survive little hands. But even if they don't, i still think it's money well spent! It will be a trial run this year to see how the boys like them and treat them. Maybe this will become a yearly tradition :)


3. Family Portraits - We try to take family photos 2x/ year. Every spring (once the weather gets nice) and every fall (while the weather is still warm).  The little guys are growing so fast, and we don't want to miss capturing the little years. But to be honest it's not easy. Taking family photos of 4 boys under 6, is hard. We usually use a tripod, and someone usually ends up crying... it's a great time to practice patience and extending grace... as well as handing out bribes! We have one of those family portraits (that my sister took!) large and blown up on our wall, and i love it. Within the next year or so we will replace it because we have a new member to our family :)

I have several other mini-projects going on... like making family films, 100 days of summer, special albums and i try to print when deals pop up. I love artifact uprising's square print set and right now zno has a free trial on for a free layflat album that i just ordered! (By the way none of these are affiliate links, except blurb - where if you order they will credit a small discount on my next order. I'm sharing these websites and products because our family really loves them and they work for us!)

How do you print your family photos? How do you share pictures with your kids? I'd love to hear!





28 Sep 2016

100 Days of Summer {a busy, busy summer!}

I set out to photograph 100 days of summer again this year. I wasn't sure i'd actually make it as it was the 3rd trimester of pregnancy with baby boy #4... but i'm so thankful to have captured these memories of our little guys!

The first part of the summer was around the home and our garden plot, trips to the park and friends birthday parties. We also went on family vacation to the playmobil play park {germany} and spent a few days in the Swiss Alps.


Then it was more time in the backyard, Elias' batman birthday party, keeping the boys busy at different playgrounds around town, visiting an Art Festival and the Zoo and getting ready for baby boys arrival.


The month of August was a fod for me, but a glorious fog. My mom arrived from Canada August 3rd, baby boy arrived August 5th, and the boys love their new brother! Since we needed to keep the big boys busy we also visited a castle, and re-visited a dinopark and the zoo. Baby boy was dedicated at church and we said good-bye and THANKYOU to grandma for her presence and loving on our family during this time of transition to a family of 6!


Summer of 2016, you were grand! So thankful for the many ways God continues to bless us and take care of our family on this adventure called life.