Friday, October 21, 2016

Advent, Christmas Eve & Epiphany Candles

I actually planned ahead last year and ordered extra candles to have blessed on Candlemas (Feb 2) and then have on hand for this upcoming Advent!

I really love the 100% pure beeswax Advent Candles from The Cloister Shoppe, handmade by the Dominican Nuns. They are made in limited quantities each year and only available for a limited time, so I wanted to give you all a heads up with Advent coming up at the end of next month.

The last couple years we've had two Advent wreaths in our home. The taper Advent Candles are placed in an Advent Wreath on our dining room table and we light them during dinner each night. We also have a larger wreath on the coffee table in the living room which we light during our family rosary each evening. We'll be using these short pillar candles in purple and pink again this year.

The Advent Candle Kit from Illuminated Ink (pictured below) is such a fun Advent activity for children.

The Cloister Shoppe makes amazing Jar Candles. I ordered extras of the Three Wisemen Candle (prefect for Epiphany!) to give as gifts last year and everyone loved them!

I've also been using their jar candles throughout the year and all the various scents we have tried have been lovely. This year I'd love to order the Bayberry Tumbler Candle!

Note: They have more of the St. Nick's Goat Milk Soap available! It was one of our Seven Fun Finds for Advent a couple years ago.

The Cloister Shoppe also has some of their Bayberry Christmas Eve Candles available again:

There is an old colonial tradition of burning a bayberry candle on Christmas Eve. Often these very special bayberry candles were given to a friend with a little couplet that says,

This bayberry candle comes from a friend
so on Christmas eve burn it down to the end.
For a bayberry candle burned to the socket,
will bring joy to the heart and gold to the pocket.

Bayberry was chosen because usually poorly burning tallow candles were used for everyday use. Bayberry was and stil is considered special because it takes nearly 18 pounds of bayberries to make 1 pound of wax!!!!

Meanwhile, in Ireland it was the custom to leave a candle in the window to welcome the Christ Child and the Holy Family on Christmas Eve. During penal times it became a means of telling priests in hiding that a Catholic family was in that home.

We have brought these two traditions together with our Bayberry Christmas Eve Candle! This is an 6" 100% bayberry candle hand-poured here at the monastery. (Because bayberry is so brittle it is customary to add a small amount of beeswax as well.). This is NOT a bayberry scented candle but made of real bayberry wax! Each candle is packaged in a wood crate made especially for us along with a colonial-style star shaped tin candle holder signifying the Star of Bethlehem. Each gift crate is tied with a unique "Merry Christmas" bow. (Not seasons greetings or happy holidays!)

Each 6" candle will burn for approximately 5-6 hours. Depending on the area that the candle is burned it is nearly drip free.

Comes with a little booklet describing the origins of the traditions. We encourage you to start your own tradition and burn the candle while praying the family rosary on Christmas Eve or before Midnight Mass!

Another beautiful addition they have this year is the Christmas Tree Creche Candle. I'm not sure I'd ever be able to actually burn it though!

Like I said, the sisters only make a limited quantity of their beautiful Advent Candles. They always sell out quickly so be sure to order them soon if you are interested!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Four Favorite AIP Fall Breakfasts

I haven't posted an update on The Autoimmune Protocol :: My Journey Towards Better Health & Weight Loss with the AIP Diet in a long time... It was a rough summer! I started seeing a new doctor last spring and let him convince me to try a couple medications... I was frustrated that I hadn't been able to add much back into my diet and my energy levels had plummeted again.  Six months later, after watching my reactions to the different medications, everything from extreme nauseousness with one to a quick spike in weight with another, not to mention the medical bills from all the testing he ordered which basically just confirmed that I still have very low cortisol levels (extreme adrenal fatigue) and nearly non-existent progesterone, he took me off everything (back to just my usual supplements) to see if that would help... sigh... I won't be going back.

I've pulled out all the books I read when I first started this diet and have recommitted to improving my health on my own. I'll be honest with you, it is not easy. Some days I just want to give up and pour myself a bowl of cereal or order a pizza. It's hard not being able to go out to dinner with my husband without fighting tears as I try and find something (anything!) on the menu that I can actually eat without dealing with bad side effects for weeks afterwards. I keep praying for perseverance and am very grateful that our girls love spending time in the kitchen and surprising me every once in awhile with treats I can eat!

I have found some breakfast recipes that I absolutely love, especially this time of year. Three of these recipes are from my current favorite cookbook: The Healing Kitchen: 175+ Quick & Easy Paleo Recipes to Help You Thrive. Seriously, this cookbook has been a lifesaver. It's worth the investment if you are on the autoimmune protocol or even just the paleo diet.

— Sunrise Hash —

I posted the picture above over at Instagram on Sunday: 
Sunrise Hash for brunch on this stormy Sunday afternoon! 
#autoimmunepaleo #thehealingkitchen #whitetrufflesalt #jacobsensaltco

I've made the "Ollie's DIY Sunrise Hash" from The Healing Kitchen a few times now and it is sooooo good! I actually had leftovers for breakfast again this morning.

  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 pounds orange sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt or truffle salt

I picked up the White Truffle Salt from Jacobsen Salt Co. when I was up in Portland last month along with a few other flavors as well. They are all excellent! 

Helper's Natural Applewood Uncured Center Cut Bacon
from Costco
Ingredients: Natural Pork, Water, Sea Salt, Organic Honey, Celery Powder. 

I found this AIP compliant package of bacon at Costco last year and it's been a staple in my kitchen ever since. Lately I've been mainly using it for Sunrise Hash. 


1. In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon and onion until the fat has rendered and the bacon has begun to crisp up, 3 to 5 minutes

2. Add the sweet potatoes and garlic to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook without disturbing for 4 to 5 minutes, until the bottoms of the sweet potatoes are lightly browned. Toss and continue to cook in the same manner, tossing every few minutes, until the potatoes are crispy and cooked through.

— Oven-Baked Pancakes —

This recipe, from The Healing Kitchen, doesn't make very many, only seven 3-inch pancakes, and I didn't think I'd like them, but they are delicious. My little ones love them too! I usually double the batch, eat a few, save a few for the next day, and let the kids eat the rest for a little snack. 

These are made with:
3 green bananas
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon arrowroot starch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
maple syrup

Puree all ingredients in a blender until smooth. (Our Vitamix is over 10 years old and still going strong!) Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and scoop a scant 1/4 cup of batter onto the parchment paper. Repeat seven times, leaving 2" between each pancake. Using the back of a spoon, smooth each pancake into a 3" circle about 1/3" thick.  Bake at 350 for 23 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Drizzle with maple syrup. 

— Apple and Butternut Squash with Sausage Hash —

I had an email today asking about the sausages I have mentioned in the past. They are from Trader Joe's, pictured above. I didn't include these in my diet until I had been on the autoimmune protocol for over six months, but now they are staple for busy days when I don't have much time to spend in the kitchen. The Smoked Apple Chardonnay is my favorite, however the Garlic Herb is more AIP compliant...

Garlic Herb Chicken Sausage 
from Trader Joe's
Ingredients: Chicken, contains less than 2% of salt, parsley, basil, roasted onions, roasted garlic, celery juice powder, marjoram, oregano, black pepper, white pepper, in a natural pork casing.

Note: You need to be cautious with White Pepper and Black Pepper on the Autoimmune Protocol... I eliminated them completely for my first six months, but then added them back without any reactions.  For more info see Spices on the Autoimmune Protocol from The Paleo Mom. 

Smoked, Apple Chardonnay Chicken Sausage
Ingredients: Chicken, dehydrated apple, contains less than 2% of salt, roasted onion, celery juice powder, white pepper, nutmeg, thyme, ginger, chardonnay, rosemary, in a natural pork casing.

These are not 100% AIP, mainly due to the tiny bit of nutmeg. It's one of my "cheats"... These also include some chardonnay. However, according to The Paleo Mom, "Cooking with alcohol is also probably okay for most people, even if you don’t tolerate an actual drink."

One of my favorite fall breakfasts is the Smoked, Apple Chardonnay Chicken Sausage combined with cubed butternut squash and apple (I leave the skin on and use red or green, whatever I have on hand), and then sauté it all in coconut oil. Mmmmm!

— Baked Carrot-Banana Bread N'Oatmeal —

This was another recipe, from The Healing Kitchen, that I wasn't sure if I'd like, but it's really good and I love that I can make a batch on the weekend, divide it up into my glass containers, and have quick and easy breakfasts available for the rest of the week. It takes less than 10 minutes to get in the oven and smells amazing while it's baking! 

2 (10-ounce) bags shredded carrots (I'll usually just shred my own with my SaladShooter.)
1 can full-fat coconut milk (I buy this brand, unsweetened with no added guar gum.)
1 cup mashed medium-yellow bananas (about 3 medium) 
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for garnish if desired
1/2 cup raisins, plus more for garnish if desired
2 tablespoons, honey, liquid
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all the ingredients together until the shredded carrots are well coated everything is evenly mixed. Spoon the mixture into a 9x13"glass casserole (I use my Pampered Chef Rectangular Baker)  and press down firmly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until the carrots are tender and the n'oatmeal is still moist. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. 

For more inspiration pick up a copy of:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Our 2016-2017 Curriculum Plans and Checklists

Well, I had this whole post ready to go the first week of school, just waiting for a few photos, then blogger ate it. I nearly cried. I had been using the draft post to keep track of all my plans for the year and I didn't have them written down anywhere else... sigh. Lesson learned. Thankfully I had already ordered most of the books we needed for the year so it wasn't too hard to recreate my plans at the last minute. Now let's see if I can "quickly" recreate all the links to share here on the blog! ;)

This year I am home educating all seven of our children. We have two 10th graders, an 8th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader, 1st grader and our youngest is officially Pre-K! This could potentially be our last year with a pre-schooler. Crazy! With our children all arriving 1 1/2 to 2 years apart, I never thought this day would come... It's been over two years since my last miscarriage and I'm starting to think our youngest might just be our last. Seven is a great number and I'm really enjoying this new season in our family!

Five years ago, just before our youngest was born, I knew I needed help and solid deadlines to keep up with my goals for our home school. I enrolled our children in a local home-based charter that started in our hometown that year. The following year I nearly withdrew, but a good friend of mine was hired as an ES and assigned to our family. It was such an incredible blessing having her come to our home once a week and help tutor our children. She resigned at the end of last school year and now the benefits (an excellent tutor, allotment to use towards books, sports, driver's ed, etc) no longer outweighed the drawbacks (so. much. paperwork, incompetent teachers/classes, all the required testing taking up weeks of our school year, inappropriate questions on the tests, etc) and we withdrew all six that were enrolled last year for this new school year! I sent in our state's required "Home School Notification" (got a copy back that has been stamped "Approved") and we are once again exclusively homeschooling! It was such a great feeling.  I've had to be creative in finding ways to pay for this year's school books (basically work more along with selling the books we no longer need), and we will most likely have to cut back on sports, but my husband and I are confident that this was the best decision for our family at this time.

When I was filling out the Home School Notification I had to assign grades once again and we decided to move out rising 7th grader up to 8th grade. She has a late summer birthday and when she was enrolled in the charter we decided to "hold her back" (like we did with our oldest son who also has a summer birthday) just in case she struggled to keep up, but she is definitely going to be ready to start high school next year, so we officially made the switch.  She was excited to start this school year as an 8th grader!

Like I mentioned before, we decided to enroll our high schoolers in Kolbe Academy. They are working towards the Magna Cum Laude Diploma. My youngest two brothers (currently both seniors in college this year with full golf scholarships!) both graduated high school with Kolbe's Magna Cum Laude Diploma. In addition to all the benefits of enrolling, I'm really loving the flexibility that Kolbe offers and that we can continue tailoring our curriculum to our family's preferences and our children's needs.

The one challenge we have had with transferring our high schoolers from the home-based charter school to Kolbe Academy has been with their Foreign Language credits. To graduate with the Magna Cum Laude Diploma they need 3 years of Foreign Language, with at least two years in the same language. The charter allowed them to earn 1 Foreign Language credit for completing First Form Latin. Kolbe requires both First and Second Form for Latin 1 credit... The boys were not fully prepared to move on to an approved Latin 2 course. I gave the boys three options:

Option 1: Complete Second Form Latin over the summer to complete Latin 1 for Kolbe, and then continue on with Third and Forth Form to earn credit for Latin 2, before switching to a second language for their third and final year of required foreign language.

Option 2: Retake Latin 1 using either Henle or Wheelock this year. No additional credit will be earned on your transcript this year, but you'll be well prepared to continue on to Latin 2 as a junior and Latin 3 as a senior.  (Ranger choose this option and we enrolled him in Latin 1 with Lukeion.  He LOVES the class, even though it is bright - soon to be dark! - and early out here on the West Coast.) 

Option 3: Switch Languages. You already have one year of foreign language credit at this point, and you need two more. Choose a second language and complete two years. (This was the option Captain choose. After so many years of Latin from Memoria Press he has completely burned out on studying Latin... He is taking this year off foreign language and will most likely continue with French with either an online course or at the community college next year.) 

He's not the only one taking a break from studying Latin this year. I sold almost all of our Memoria Press Latin materials and all the younger children are also taking a break. Combined with our writing and grammar courses it has been too much the last couple years, and I've missed having that extra time to focus on history and science.  I'm also not convinced that all the time we have spent has been very productive. To quote Lukeion: "There are many programs now available for younger students. In our experience, however, these programs demand a lot of busy work but deliver very little in the way of learning the functional nuts-and-bolts of Classical languages. Students are not generally prepared to master these languages until they have reached the logic stage. You will accomplish much more in a fraction of the time if you wait until your student is 12 to 15 before you start formal instruction in Latin and Greek. Better still, waiting to start these logic based languages may mean your student will enjoy them more." 

UPDATE: I was able to rename the Latin class Ranger took at home last year to "Intro to Latin" and now he'll be able to earn Latin 1 credit this year after all for the online class he is currently taking! Kolbe Academy has been so great to work with this year.

Anyway, enough about all the changes... Here's the list of books we are using this school year:

Captain and Ranger :: 10th Grade 

Understanding the Scriptures: A Complete Course On Bible Study
Understanding the Scriptures Student Workbook (Ranger)
Understanding the Scriptures - My Catholic Faith Delivered (Captain)
Preparation for Confirmation According to the Baltimore Catechism (with Dad)

Additional Resources:
Ignatius Catholic Bible (compact)
The Ignatius Bible: Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition (leather bound)
Catholic Bible Indexing Tabs

Love this bible and ended up ordering a 2nd copy for our other high schooler.

English 10: 
Student Writing Intensive Continuation Course: Level C (Year 1 of 2)
Fix It! Grammar: Little Mermaid (Book 4) with Teacher's Manual
Phonetic Zoo, Level C (continue)

Literature - Introduction to Literary Analysis:
Teaching the Classics DVD Seminar and Workbook

History - World History II:
A Light to the Nations, Part II: Development of Christian Civilization and Teacher's Manual
with Kolbe Academy's Course Plans & Tests (with high school options)
Additional Literature, Audio Books, and DVDs. 

Saxon Algebra 2 with Mastering Algebra John Saxon's Way: Algebra 2 DVD Set
Saxon Algebra 2 Solutions Manual and Homeschool Testing Book
1 hour (shared with other students) of tutoring at weekly co-op 

Prentice Hall Chemistry
with Kolbe Academy's Course Plans & Tests and Answer Key
with weekly science lab at co-op

Foreign Language: 
Lukeion Latin I (online class - Ranger only)

Fine Arts:
Meet the Masters: Track D
(Maybe Track E too, but I'm not going to commit to that at this time. One Track might be all we are able to finish this year.) 

Physical Education:
High School Hockey
High School Golf

Additional Non-Academic Credit and/or Activities:
FIRST LEGO League Robotics (Mentors)
Drivers Education (at community college next summer - Ranger only)
Train to serve at a Pontifical High Mass next summer

Twinkle Toes :: 8th Grade

Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 2 (continue with Dad)
Living For Holiness (Living My Religion Series, Book 8)
Additional Reading Assignments/Saint Stories

Saxon Math 8/7 with Pre-Algebra with Mastering Algebra John Saxon's Way: Math 87 DVD set
Solutions Manual and Saxon 8/7 Tests and Worksheets
1/2 hour of tutoring each week as needed

Language Arts:
Student Writing Intensive Continuation Course: Level C (Year 1 of 2)
Fix It! Grammar: Frog Prince, or Just Deserts (Book 3) with Teacher's Manual
Phonetic Zoo, Level C
Better Handwriting for Young Catholics
Additional Literature for Independent Reading

History & Geography:
From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America
U.S. Elections Unit Study
Maps Charts and Graphs Level G: The World (first semester)
Maps, Charts, Graphs: United States, Past and Present, Level H (second semester)
Additional Literature for Independent Reading, various Audio Books, and Family Read-Alouds along with additional projects/lap books and activities. 

Physical Science: Concepts In Action; With Earth and Space Science (Prentice Hall)
with Kolbe Academy's Course Plans & Tests and Answer Key
Nature and Observations Notebook (continue weekly nature study)

Teenagers & Nutrition
Yourself and Your House Wonderful

Fine Arts:
Meet the Masters: Track D

Physical Education:
Middle School Golf

FIRST LEGO League Robotics

Chiquita :: 6th Grade

Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 2 (with Dad)
Living In God's Church (Living My Religion Series) Book 6
Additional Reading Assignments/Saint Stories


Language Arts:
Following Narnia Volume 1: The Lion's Song
Chronicles of Narnia:
The Magician's Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Horse and His Boy
Fix It! Grammar: Frog Prince, or Just Deserts (Book 3) with Teacher's Manual
Phonetic Zoo, Level A/B
Better Handwriting for Young Catholics

History & Geography:
From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America
U.S. Elections Unit Study
Maps Charts and Graphs Level F: Eastern Hemisphere
Additional Literature for Independent Reading, various Audio Books, and Family Read-Alouds along with additional projects/lap books and activities. 

Focus on Middle School Astronomy with Laboratory Workbook, Quizzes, and Teacher's Manual
Nature's Beautiful Order with Student Guide and Teacher's Key
Nature and Observations Notebook (continue weekly nature study)

Spanish for You!
(at weekly co-op)

Fine Arts:
Meet the Masters: Track D

Physical Education:
Middle School Golf

FIRST LEGO League Robotics

First LEGO Robotics Meeting and Introduction, just before the school year started. 

Snuggles :: 4th Grade 

Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 1 (with Dad)
Living For God (Living My Religion Series) Book 4
Supplemental Religion Books and Saint Stories from Our Monthly Book Baskets

Saxon 5/4 with Saxon Teacher 5/4 CDs
Solutions Manual and Saxon 5/4 Tests and Worksheets

Logic Countdown
Logic Safari Book 2

Language Arts:
Student Writing Intensive, Level A
Phonetic Zoo, Level A
Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree (Book 1) and Teacher's Manual
Handwriting for Young Catholics


History & Geography:
Maps Charts and Graphs Level D: States & Regions
State-by-State Study
From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America
U.S. Elections Unit Study
Additional Literature for Independent Reading, various Audio Books, and Family Read-Alouds along with additional projects/lap books and activities. 

Focus on Middle School Astronomy with Laboratory Workbook, Quizzes, and Teacher's Manual
Weekly Nature Study

Meet the Masters: Track D

Physical Education:
In-House Hockey League (Nov-Mar -- still undecided due to cost and time commitment)

Rose :: 1st Grade

St. Joseph First Communion Catechism (with Dad)
Saint Stories from Our Monthly Book Baskets
Additional Supplemental Religion & First Sacraments Books
(the following pictures show some of the catechism resources we use in our home) 

My Path to Heaven: A Young Person's Guide to the Faith
Chat's With God's Little OnesTheir Hearts Are His GardenManner's in God's HouseMy First Communion CatechismThe Little Children's Prayer BookTrue Stories for First Communicants
My Confession For Little CatholicsLeading The Little Ones to MaryJesus and I 
My Confession BookMy Jesus and IIllustrated CatechismCatholic Nursery Rhymes

Saxon Math 1

Language Arts:
Primary Arts of Language: Writing and Reading
All About Spelling
Handwriting 1 for Young Catholics
Supplemental Readers and Additional Literature

History & Geography:
Maps, Charts and Graphs Level A: The Places Around Me
Early American History (lots of picture books) 
Presidential Election Unit Study (maybe)

    Focus on Elementary Astronomy with Laboratory Workbook and Teacher's Manual
    Miracle of Life Coloring & Activity Book

    Meet the Masters: Track D
    various Arts & Crafts projects throughout the year

    Bud :: Pre-Kindergarten 

    Catholic Children's Treasure Box Books
    Little Saints Pre-School (various themes as we can fit them in)
    Primary Arts of Language: Writing and Reading (he's ready so we are starting now)
    All About Spelling Level 1 (once it's added to our P.A.L. lessons)
    Miracle of Life Coloring & Activity Book
    Early American History (lots of picture books)
    Misc Workbooks for Practice & Fun: Do It CarefullyEverywhere We Go (he loves workbooks)
    Math Manipulative & Worksheets

    Some Additional Family Resources:

    A Year With The Saints: A Virtue for Every Month of the Year
    My Catholic Faith
    Treasure and Tradition

    Natural Science Through the Seasons: 100 Teaching Units
    The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling

    "A goal without a plan is just a wish."

    Choosing our curriculum and setting goals for the year is just the first step...  The next step is to create a plan for achieving our goals in a timely manner, especially for the older children who will need to complete their courses in order to earn credit on their high school transcripts. I've created weekly checklists for each grade and have included the links to my documents above. I'm still working on fine tuning my own routine and schedule, which has been much harder to pin down since my work schedule varies from week to week, but I'm getting there even if it's very slowly. So far our school year is off to a great start! 

    Thursday, October 13, 2016

    Shining Light Dolls :: Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

    I think we have a new favorite from Shining Light Dolls

    St. Thérèse of Lisieux is even cuter in person than she looks online. ♥

    Dear St. Thérèse, thou wert always good and obedient and always did the Will of God. Now thou art a great saint in heaven with God. 

    Thy loving and tender heart rejoices to send down roses upon earth. O give me the sweet flower of a great love for Jesus! Pray for me that I may have all the graces I need.

    - Little Flower prayer from Jesus Make Me Worthy

    The Virgin Mary Around the World Birthday Cake

    September 8th - Happy Birthday, Blessed Mother!
    Rose decorated the cake herself this year and surrounded it with some of her favorite dolls ♥

    A Pilgrimage of Faith Board Book by Chantal Baros

    Our Lady of Kibeho, pray for us! 

    Our Lady of China, pray for us! 

    Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us! 

    Our Lady of Aparecida, pray for us!

    Our Lady of Knock, pray for us!

    Our Lady of Czestochowa, pray for us! 

    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! 

    Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us! 

    Not pictured but will most likely "appear" in our home on the feast of St. Nicholas or Christmas this year ;) 
    (Note: All links are affiliate links to the book and dolls on Amazon.) 

     Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us! 

    Our Lady of Charity, pray for us! 

    Tuesday, October 11, 2016

    When Calls the Heart Birthday Party

    Just before our new school year began, our oldest daughter turned thirteen! Seems like just yesterday we had those first three babies in three years... I blinked and now we have three teens! They really do grow up fast. 

    The girls and I have been enjoying watching Hallmark's When Calls the Heart series on Netflix this year. For the 13th birthday celebration we decided to: 


    We started the day with a trip to town. The birthday girl ordered a White Chocolate Mocha for her birthday drink from Dutch Bros. Coffee (have you seen the LEGO Dutch Bros. her brother made?) and I "cheated" on my AIP diet with a Coconut Milk Chai Tea (oh how I have missed my favorite Oregon Chai!), then we headed to the mall to try and find her some new clothes. Not an easy task at this age, but we had fun! 


    After we got back home, I quickly baked a heart shaped cake (the pan is currently 39% off!) and pulled together some birthday treats. 

    Meanwhile, the birthday girl had a blast visiting with out-of-state friends, including her penpals over at JoyFilledFamily on FaceTime, and all the kids finally got to "meet" Charlotte's kids! Someday we will make the trip to Texas so our youngest can meet his godparents in person... 

    .: Chalkboard Birthday Banner :. 

    "School is in session, Mr. Thornton, if you’d like to speak, please raise your hand like all the other children."

    .: Heartie Party Treats :.

    Coal Valley Cookies 
    Canadian Maple Leaf & Coal Lumps

    “I’m staying here in Coal Valley. This is where I belong.” ~ Jack

    Mountie Jack's Trail Mix

    Abigail: Hope is in the air.  Jack: That… and a little coal dust.

    Miss Thatcher's Schoolbook Cookies

    “The schoolhouse doesn’t really matter to me. It’s the children.”
    ~ Elizabeth

    When Calls the Heart Strawberry & Cream Tea Sandwiches

    "As a teacher, I’m drawn to the truth. Numbers don’t lie, and facts are indeed facts, but sometimes, we need to trust each other, because the truth isn’t always what it appears to be. Sometimes an oil can found in a fire is not what seems to be, and, sometimes, love comes just in time to save your life." 

    .: Birthday Dinner :. 

    Elizabeth's Shepherd's Pie

    At her home, Elizabeth tells Jack about the situation with Hattie. Elizabeth describes figuring out children like figuring out a puzzle. Jack says that Elizabeth will make a great mother because not only can she figure out children but she makes great shepherd’s pie.
    “Isn’t this where you’re supposed to tell me I’ll make a great dad someday?” he asks. Elizabeth says she is not sure if he will make a great dad…because she’s never tried his shepherd’s pie!

    Abigail's Buttermilk Biscuits

    Would a hot biscuit make you feel better? ~ Abigail

    I had every intention of making Shepherd's Pie, along with all the ingredients, but I ran out of time so we had chicken and grilled corn on the cob instead...

    .: Mountie Jack :. 

    "Do you think we could dispense with the "Constable", and could I persuade you to just call me "Jack"?"

    Our little guys took turns wearing it during the party.

    .: Birthday Gifts :. 

    May I let you in on a little secret, Albert? Girls don’t care if a gift is fancy, not even girls who used to be rich...What we care about are gifts that come from the heart. ~ Elizabeth

    So your cooking is only rivaled by your sewing? ~ Jack

    From Mom: Apron, Sweethearts Pot Mitt, Heart Cakelet Baking Pan, and Sewing Basket

    Oh my dear, never commit your heart unless there is jewelry. 
    ~ Rosemary

    From Dad: Diamond Heart Necklace

    From Brothers: Homemade Cards and LEGO Vacation Getaways

    From Sisters: Homemade Cards and Six Plays for Girls and Boys to Perform

    From Dad & Mom: Notebook, Autumn Seasonal Book of Days, and Colored Pencils

    And, of course, the Collector's Editions of Season 1 and Season 2
    ... maybe she'll receive Season 3 for Christmas!

    .: Birthday Cake :. 

    I apologize for embarrassing you, but, uh, I think you’re underestimating your cake. It looks delicious. ~ Billy

    Lemon Berry Heart Cake 
    (Baked in this Elegant Heart Bundt Pan)

    Happy 13th Birthday!