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Pumpkin Love

I know that spring is right around the corner and without fail, that brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart.  Don’t get me wrong, now.  I love the change of seasons.  I know myself well enough to know that I would be bored with the same views outside every day.  But seriously, this winter feels like it has lasted for a year already and it’s only February!

There are some good points to the chilly season however.  Around my house, the crisp air and chill in the air means the start of Mumpkin Puffin season!  No, I am not dyslexic.  I can’t remember who coined it first, either my husband or my son, but my pumpkin muffins have lovingly been renamed Mumpkin Puffins.  As my daughter says, “Mom, these are good because you made it with love.”  What can I say?  A comment like that will get me into the kitchen.  Flattery will get you everywhere with me!

Allow me to explain…..I have a thing for pumpkin.  Like, I really like pumpkin.  No, no.  That’s really kind of vague.  Let me be explicitly clear here.  I am slightly obsessed with pumpkin.  My mouth salivates like Pavlov’s dogs at the thought of pumpkin.  Ok, as long as we are clear on that.

With the Mumpkin Puffin spirit in the air, I took to the net to find more pumpkin recipes.  More variations, more combinations.  What new thing could I try?  Could this be the next family favorite?  The next “Mumpkin Puffin, mom!”  I am pleased to say I found some real possibilities.

I stumbled across http://thebakingbird.blogspot.com and found a most intriguing recipe for lavender pumpkin bread.  I don’t know if you’ve ever had lavender anything, but I highly recommend it.  I first experienced this dance of the palette two years ago.  Pink Moon Cupcake Bakery in Powell, Ohio makes an amazing lavender cupcake that will not only surprise you with its delicate flavor, but will bring you back for more!  Be forewarned, they are seasonal and kind of addictive.  That said, I am intrigued by this combination!  For those of you that are adventurous, please click on the above link for the recipe and report back your findings.  Post a picture.  What did you think?  I have not had a chance to make this yet, but I when I do, I will post my results – and the family’s opinions too!

My Zen from me to you!  Enjoy!  Where do you find your zen?

Cheap Entertainment for the Whole Family!

A family hike is a great way to enjoy time with your family.

Let’s face it, entertaining a family can be quite an expensive task.  A professional sporting event can cost over $150.00 for a family of four.  Going to the movies can cost upwards of $50 for a family of four if you include snacks (best of luck attending a movie without snacks)!  Below are my family’s top ten inexpensive ways to enjoy each other’s company:

1. A walk outdoors. Take a walk around the block.  Get out and meet your neighbors!  A walk at your local park can be a good thing as well.  Our family tries to see a different park every weekend during the summer.

2. Game Night- Board games are cheap and the entire family can play.  Sitting around the table, competing with one another, really opens it up for discussions about anything.  What happened at school, what’s bothering them, anything comes out.  It’s a non-invasive open communication.  We have great memories from our game nights.  I’ll post some of our favorite games in a later post.  What are some of yours?

3. DVD Movie night – At our house it is Netflix night.  We just love Netflix, it is cheap and they have an astounding selection of movies.  We can always find something for the entire family!

4. Road Trip! – If you are close to a cool destination, pack up the car and drive to it!  Rent a hotel room with a pool and the kids will never forget it!

5. Festivals- If you cannot find a festival near you, then you are really not looking hard enough!  Festivals can be found almost every weekend, and not just during the summer months.

6. Free Events-Our town always has a free event.  Parades, bonfire’s, Sponge Bob’s appearence at the local mall, just to name a few!

7. Museums – When is the last time you took your family to the museum?  What better way for your family to discover history?  Our trips always inspire discussion about our family history.  Our local art museum is free admission for kids every Sunday.

8. Public Library – We are fortunate to have a really good public library system in our town.  This is not only a great way to instill a love of reading in your children, but also responsibility.  Giving your children their own library card gives them a sense of maturity, responsibility and being part of the community at large.

9. Cook a family feast together – We love to cook together as a family.  In the summer, Dad BBQ’s on the grill and plays frisbee or football in the yard with the kids.  In the winter, I bake cookies and my famous pumpkin bread with my daughter.  This is a great way to bond.  The great thing is, that the kids usually eat their dinner the days we cook together!

10.  Start a garden! Last year, my kids and I were exploring our local greenhouses and were inspired by an amazing fairy garden.  We could not afford to make a duplicate fairy garden, but we found affordable solutions.  It was a great family activity that allowed for a learning experience, a bit of whimsy and fun, and has even continued over the winter inside.  (We used containers and brought them in before the frost. )  This will be a later post too!

Digitalize Your Family Photos

You should consider digitalizing your precious photo's

So, the other day I was trying to get our family photo’s organized.  After a trip to Ikea, we picked up some of those photo storage boxes for our pre-digital photo collection.  This project is far from completion, but I have found some interesting facts out about photo storage care along the way!

  • Remember those sticky sheet photo albums?  Well, those things are BAAAAD for your photos!  I pulled all of our photos from those books and they are in acid free photo storage boxes awaiting the scanner!  If you do want to keep your hard copies in an album, certainly buy the acid free versions or those albums that have the slide-in plastic sheets.
  • I cannot believe how large our digital photo album has grown!  We have over 60 gig of photos on our computer.  We use Apple’s iPhoto to make slideshows and organize our photo’s, but what would happen if my hard drive crashed?  Annihilation of everyone of my precious photos!  I do have a backup on an external drive, but those fail too.  So, I decided to look into Mozy.  Mozy is an online storage based in Utah, that will backup my photos to an offsite server via military grade encryption.  All of this for around $55/year.  the first backup takes awhile, but after that first backup is completed, you can set Mozy to back your files up as they change.
  • Slides.  What to do with those old slides?  One thing you can do is to purchase a slide scanner and block out a few weekends to scan your slides.  Or there are alternatives.  ………
  • VHS Home Movies.  Do you have VHS home movies?  Did you know that everyday those old tapes are sitting in your closet, they are deteriorating?  Generally, VHS tape lasts anywhere from 10-15 years, then they will degrade.  Look around town, you may find a local shop that convert your precious memories or you can find VHS to DVD burners.  A great resource is VIDEOHELP.com.  Once you have your VHS converted to DVD, you can then import your movies to your favorite video editor and cut out all of the boring parts! 🙂
  • Old classic Reel to Reel 8mm film.  These can be very expensive to transfer.  One of the best methods I found was to experiment with my HD video camera.  I shoot these onto a screen, keeping it about 2feet wide, then filming them with the HD video camera.  So far it has worked really well.  I kept the original cans however, just in case.

The nice thing about converting your family’s archives to a digital format is so that you can use them with the current computer technology.  Currently, I have backed up what I have so far to DVD’s and I have them labeled in DVD cases.  I am sure that by the time a new storage media becomes available, I will have to convert my collection to it, but in the meantime, I have my collection “digitalized!”

Do you have any ideas on how to archive your family archives?  I would love to hear some ideas!