11.05.2014

Chalkboard Thankful Tree

 
Hello my friends, how is your November going?  This is one of my favorite months of the year, and we always try to do some activities to help us be more thankful and cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
 
  Unfortunately, more often then not, I come up with a super cute and super unrealistic activity that takes lots of effort and usually fizzles out by the second week of November...can anyone else relate?!  This year I decided to simplify, and thank goodness I found THIS genius idea on Pinterest...
 
A Chalkboard Thankful Tree!
 
 
In our study I knew I wanted a HUGE chalkboard, and since I could never find one that I wanted we just slapped some chalkboard viny on the wall and framed it with this great Ikea frame.  We have used it tons already, but it really came in handy for our Thankful Tree.  As you can see, we just drew lots of branches on our tree and every morning after breakfast we go into the study and take turns saying one thing we are thankful for.  Some are silly and some are serious, but I LOVE that for 10 minutes out of the day we are thinking of nothing but ALL we have to be grateful for.
 
We just started this 3 days ago and our bare tree is really starting to already fill in!
 
 
How do you help your kids show more gratitude this month?  Keep checking back, we have a few simple service projects we are doing and as always some yummy treats and crafts...have a fantastic day!

11.03.2014

Making Oatmeal Monday...Funfetti Cake Batter Oatmeal!

 Hello friends!! It has been a LONG time since I posted something on here...is October as crazy for everyone else as it always seems to be for me?!  I cannot believe it is already November, time is flying by like it always does!
 
So it seems like every Halloween we have so many treats leading up to the big night, and then SO much candy after, that I am always trying to get back some healthier habits come November.  One thing that has been driving me crazy lately, but I have been too lazy to do anything about, is that my kids are eating sugary cereal pretty much every day for breakfast.  This bugs me on many levels.  They are filling themselves with sugar immediately as they wake up, they stay full for approximately 7 minutes, and they get completely addicted and go crazy if I try to have them eat anything else!  I decided to cut it out, except for the occasional weekend treat.  I knew this would not go over well, so I am trying to do some fun things to introduce different breakfasts to my kids...and one of my favorites is oatmeal!!  I love how filling it is, how many different ways you can make it, and there is nothing better on a cold fall morning ;)
 
I told the kids every Monday we would try a new oatmeal recipe, so today we kicked off our Making Oatmeal Monday with something I KNEW my kids would love...
 
Funfetti Cake Batter Oatmeal!

 
Seriously, how fun is this?!  I found this recipe at Amy's Healthy Baking and knew my kids would love it.  I mean, sprinkles for breakfast?!  And, its actually pretty healthy too!
 
The key to making this oatmeal taste like cake batter is using butter extract.  I had never heard of it before, but it made the oatmeal taste exactly like cake mix and I was able to pick some up this morning at WalMart in the baking aisle.  Here is the recipe in case you want make some for your family too! :)
 
1 1/3 C rolled oats
2 2/3 C skim milk
1 tsp butter extract
sweetener to taste
 
Cook oats and milk on the stovetop at medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the oats.  Then let stand until the oatmeal thickens.  Stir in your butter extract and sweetener of your choice (I just used about a 1/4 C of brown sugar) and then add a sprinkles to the top!
 
 
This was a HUGE hit!  The only thing my kids said for when I make it next time is that it was a teeny bit TOO sweet...so you can add less sweetener and it will probably be even better :)
 
Make sure you stop by next week for another Making Oatmeal Monday, we are trying something tasty....and if you like pumpkin you won't want to miss it!
 

10.07.2014

11 Fall Favorites at Blue Skies Ahead!

  Before we get to all of our Fall Fun, I need to announce the winner of our Styling Cents Ebook Giveaway!  Thank you so much to everyone that entered...and Rach is our grand prize winner!  Look for an email coming your way to hash out all the details ;)
 
Today we wanted to share 11 of our favorite fall activities, snacks and crafts.  This is our favorite time of year here at Blue Skies Ahead and we hope some of these ideas can help you enjoy it to the fullest!



 
Make some delicious Apple Cider Floats with your family...the perfect treat after an evening of pumpkin picking :)
 
 
Looking for a simple, fun festive gift to give this time of year?  Try these homemade Candy Corn Bath Salts!
 
 
And if you still want a little more candy corn, check out these Candy Corn Cupcakes in a Jar.
 
 
 
Maybe you are looking for a little bit of a healthier treat?  These Orange Pumpkin Treats are perfect for parties or just an afterschool snack.
 
 
 
Maybe you need some fun new Fall decorations?  These Washi Tape Pumpkins may be just the thing for you!
 
 
My kids and I LOVE making homemeade playdough, and this Pumpkin Playdough is perfect for October!
 
 
My kids beg to make caramel apples every year...switch it up by making a Frankenstein Caramel Apple your kids will get a kick out of!
 
 
 
If you still need more Fall food inspiration, make sure you try these Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Caramel Frosting, they really are amazing.
 
 
Do you have a free afternoon with your kids?  If so, read them this darling book and make your very won batch of Homemade Pumpkin Soup with all your little helpers :)
 
 
Your kids will love burning some down-time making these Pumpkin Bracelets, and all you need to provide are some pipe cleaners and pony beads.

 
Finally, these Wax Paper Leaves are not only a great activity, but they make beautiful decorations to hang up in your windows too!


9.25.2014

"Styling Cents" Ebook {Giveaway!!!}

  I have a treat for you wonderful readers today...a fantastic giveaway you will NOT want to miss!

I am a lucky girl that has an amazing family, not only the family I was born into, but the family I married into as well.  Besides just being all-around fantastic people, they are super-talented too!  One of these super-talented people, my sis-in-law Camille, teamed up with her friend Shelly and they have created an AMAZING Ebook that will completely change the way you look at decorating..."Styling Cents" - Reuse, Repurpose and Revive your space!



 Take a look at some of these ridiculous before and after pictures once Camille and Shelly worked their magic!

Before:
 
After:

 
I mean, seriously!  It doesn't even look like the same room!
 
 
Before:

 
 
After:

 
I told you they were amazing!
 
"Styling Cents" is PACKED with amazing ideas and inspiration, including:
 
  • Decorating Myths
  • Process for decorating a space
  • Shopping Tips–where to go to find the best deals
  • How to shop at a thrift store
  • Used furniture pricing guide
  • How to negotiate on pricing
  • Advice on choosing paint
  • How to paint and stain furniture
  • How to buy a rug
  • How to hang a light fixture
  • How to choose fabrics

  • Sounds pretty great, right?!  Well here is the fun part!  The gals at Styling Cents have generously agreed to give away one FREE Ebook to a reader here at Blue Skies Ahead!!  All you have to do is leave a comment telling me what room in your house is in the most need of a makeover :)  Oh, and if you just can't wait and risk not winning the giveaway, Styling Cents has graciously offered to give any of our readers a 30% discount when you enter the code "BLUE" at checkout! Just go HERE to to get a copy of your very own!
     
     
    So let's hear it...which room in your home is in most desperate need of a makeover?!  And a huge thank you to the girls from Styling Cents for making this giveaway possible!


    9.24.2014

    The Little Red Hen's Homemade Bread {Farm Week}


    Hello friends!  This week we are learning all about one of our favorite things...this is Farm Week!  In an effort to read more with my kids I thought it would be really fun to read the classic The Little Red Hen, and try making our very own homemade bread to go with it!
     
     
    This was such a fun morning activity to do with my kids!  First up, we got to sit down together and read The Little Red Hen.  This book is not only fun for the little kids AND teaches a great lesson about hard work, but it also explains all the steps that go into making bread.  Starting with sowing a seed all the way to grinding up wheat to make flour and finally baking bread, it was cool to see the kids understand how the wheat we saw growing at the farm last week becomes fresh, warm bread!
     
    Once we were done reading we made my favorite white bread recipe.  This recipe is not only delicious but it is SO simple, my kids really did most of the work.
     
    Amish White Bread Recipe
     
    2 C warm water
    2/3 C white sugar
    1 1/2 T active dry yeast
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 C vegetable oil
    6 C flour
     
    In a large bowl dissolve the sugar in warm water, then stir in the yeast.  Allow to proof until the yeast resembles a creamy foam.
     
     
    Mix in salt and oil, then add flour one cup at a time.
     
     
    Kneed dough until smooth and then place in a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat.  Cover with cloth and let rise for one hour, or until double in size.  Then comes the best part...split your dough in half and let your kids go wild punching and kneeding!!
     

     
    Britton's face kills me :)  Once you are done punching, shape into two loaves and put into well-oiled pans.  Allow to rise for 30 more minutes and then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
     
     
    Once our 30 minutes were up I let Avrie butter the tops and then the hardest part...waiting for it to cool enough to dig in! ;)
     
     
    There you have it, a seriously fun way to bring books to life with your kids and learn a little bit more about the farm!  Thank you so much for stopping by Blue Skies Ahead today, hope you have a fantastic day!!
     
     
     
     
     

    9.17.2014

    Building Your Faith Family Home Evening {Alma and Amulek}

    Well, here we are, sharing another Family Home Evening idea with you :)
     
    This week we were back at our Book of Mormon lessons, focusing on the story of Alma and Amulek and how they used and built their faith to sustain them through their trials and hardships.
     
    I made a printable to put up in our home with one of my all-time favorite sayings...
     
     
    We spoke about how important it is to be true to yourself and the things you believe in, even when you have hard or scary times in your life.  I told the kids we were going to learn about 2 men who used their faith to stand up for what they believed in, even when it would have been so much easier to turn their backs on that faith.
     
    For the bulk of our lesson we just read Alma's Mission to Ammonihah from the Book of Mormon Stories.  Then we spoke about how Alma and Amulek relied on their faith multiple times: going back to teach the people and meeting Amulek, contending with Zeezrom, watching the women and children be burned because of their belief, and finally the walls of the prison falling down and being freed.
     
    After our lesson we did an awesome activity that the kids really enjoyed and my husband and I got a kick out of too ;)  We played Build Your Faith Jenga!
     
     
    This was a great game to play because it obviously kept the kids attention, but it was so wonderful to hear some experiences from my kids, times they have felt their faith grow, or ways they want to gain more faith.  It is also always a bonus to review the lesson to make sure something actually sank in ;) 
     
    After we went several times around the table and each child picked a few blocks and shared different experiences our tower came tumbling down.  We were able then to relate our game to how the walls of the prison came crashing down as Alma and Amulek exercised THEIR faith.  An awesome visual for the kids, and an activity they begged to do again and again :)
     
    Thanks so much for checking our fhe out, hope you guys all have a great week!
     
    

    9.15.2014

    New Family Study

     
    Happy Monday everyone!  Today I am sharing with you my absolute FAVORITE room in our new home.  There are a few reasons I love this room, and one of them is that is actually turned out better than my Pinterest board...how often can you say that?! ;)
     
    When we started looking for plans for our new home I knew I wanted a floor plan with a formal living room.  I also knew I would be taking that formal living room, and turning it into a family study :)  I envisioned a room where the kids could keep their homework organized, where I could do the bills while they played with Lego's or loom bands, and where we could do crafts and read stories together centered on our weekly themes.  I give you, our Family Study!
     
    
     
    The best parts of this room are the built-ins we had added in by our amazing cabinet guy.  I especially love the countertop we used for our homework station, it wipes off like a dream so I don't have to worry if the kids get marker or crayon everywhere.  I also like that we were able to do a desk and shelving where the closet would have been, it freed up a lot of space while still giving me the perfect area for all my "paper".

     
    To get the most out of this room we put a bookshelf on its side underneath the big windows, and filled the cubbies with all of our childrens books.  I also pretty much bought out all of Ikea, and I LOVE the Fintorp organization system for all of our supplies like pencils, markers and crayons.  Its great to have them right at the kids eye levels so they can grab whatever they need, and its super simple to for them to keep clean and organized too :)  I placed three magazine holders on the counter for each child to keep their homework and important papers in as well.  And that huge map on the wall...isn't it awesome?!  I was so lucky to find someone that made that beauty on a Facebook yard sale page...it the perfect statement piece for our study.

     
    I knew I wanted part of the d├ęcor in our room to remind the kids of all the things we want to strive for in our family, so I whipped up this printable for FREE on Picmonkey and then I simply had Walmart print it out as an 16x20 poster.  All together the whole thing was about $15...not too shabby!

     
    This part of the room has more Ikea furniture :)  I love all the drawers and FINALLY having space for all our craft supplies.  My vision was a room where the supplies were accessible for the kids so they could use their creativity...but not SO accessible that my baby destroyed everything constantly ;)  So far it has been the perfect mix!  Oh....and do you see that chair?  I bought it 10 years ago for my first babies nursery, and it was an ugly light, sage green color.  I mean, it was super cute 10 years ago, but now...not so much!  My crazy talented sis-in-law and her friend discovered THE coolest trick.  You simply mix 4 capfuls of Rit fabric dye with 3 cups of hot water and use a spray bottle to completely soak your chair.  Then let it dry out in the sun and you have a completely new chair!  It's a great way to re-purpose an old piece, especially if it has great function but just not so cute anymore.

     
    Finally we have the other side of the room!  In the closet we have that awesome built in, and that is where I keep all my bills, important paper, and a family calendar.  I love having my own space that the kids don't mess with, but that is still right there with them.  MORE Ikea storage for our Lego's...we just used chalkboard labels to label each bin and its been a great way to keep this little expensive things organized ;)  Finally, I got a $10 corkboard at Walmart and painted a few stripes on it just to add a little more color to the room.  We hang up papers from school or crafts that we have been working on that week for all to see and enjoy!
     
    So there you have it, our Family Study!  Everything else in the house still feels like a work in progress, but it sure is a lot of fun making it feel like home.  Thanks so much for checking out our post and have a fantastic Monday!