Thursday, November 3, 2011

Where have I been?

You may notice a trend during school semesters to see random posts spread out months apart. Where am I? Well, I am studying to be an elementary teacher with a full time workload. I am teaching two days a week at a local (and wonderful) elementary school in a kindergarten classroom with the best mentor teacher! She's made the experience so wonderful.

I am also busy with my two kids who have a much busier social calender than I have. Play dates, parties, festivals, soccer and more! I am living a very busy and fulfilling life! We are also currently working on finishing up our homestudy paper work because we are hoping to adopt (follow our adoption story at An Ocean Sized Love).

In between the craziness, I adore searching Pinterest for creative ideas for my kids, home, cooking and even classroom. I even added a "follow me on Pinterest" button on the top right of this blog in case you want to see my pins. So far I have only had time for a few of the recipes but I fully intend to make some lovely things during Christmas break! (only 4 weeks away!!).
Do you pin? I'd love to follow you, especially if you find amazing crafts and teaching ideas. Comment and let me know how to find you:-)

Here is my latest Pinterest inspired creation:

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake!
Here is the pin that inspired me:

The changes I made:
I added 2 tsp. vanilla because vanilla makes everything better.
I made 12 muffins and 1 round 8 inch coffee cake. The muffins I will freeze for quick breakfast to go.
I added pumpkin spice to the drizzle.
I doubled the crumb recipe so that I had enough for the muffins and the coffee cake.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kind deeds at the front door.

It's that time of year again: the stores are stocking fall and winter items, Starbucks is serving my favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte and school is in full swing! So it's also time to plan our "Boo Your Neighbor" for this year. Do you not know what a "Boo Your Neighbor" is? Well, it's totally awesome fun so you should!

Here is our "Boo Your Neighbor" from last year: Boo'ing The Neighbors

Here's a great printable from Tomkat to use for your "Boo"

We are most definitely doing it again!

I've also been on the look out for ideas like this for all year round and I ran across this idea on Pinterest today, leaving cupcakes on the door for friends or neighbors:

Find the details and how to here: The Comfort of a Cupcake

I just love the simple gesture of letting someone know you care in some small token way. I know many times I feel I am too busy to be the kind of friend/neighbor that I want to be with full time school, kids and an adoption going on. It's things like this that inspire me to do little deeds when I CAN. We live in such a digital age and it's so easy to just text or message our friends to express our affection, prayers or's still important to us all to have some tangible evidence of friends and family who care. I know it is for me.

How would you feel if someone left a goodie on your door step? Have you done this or seen something like this? I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home Made "Lara Bars" {Healthy Snacks} Chocolate Pecan Pie "Truffles"

Have you ever had a Lara Bar? I had been buying several versions of a gluten free snack bar for a while. With being a full time student/mom/busy lady I tend to need a snack thrown into my purse to get me through the day without taking a diet dive at a snack machine for a bag of something totally un-hip-friendly. I recently discovered Lara Bars and I love them. I have yet to find a flavor I don't like. They are moist, sweet but not too sweet, filling and all natural.

So, with my new Lara Bar addiction, I thought maybe I could figure out a way to make them at home since they are just a few simple ingredients to make. So, I gave it a shot. I am so glad I did! These are so easy, super delicious and the flavor combos are endless! Here is the version that I tried:

Chocolate Pecan Pie "Truffles"
2 cups chopped dates ( I bought mine in bulk at Sam's)
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tsp. vanilla

 Prepare a piece of saran wrap on the counter before you begin so you don't have sticky hand prints on your saran wrap box like I had. Sprinkle some cocoa powder on the wrap if you wish to make the truffles, otherwise, use the wrap to roll out and cut the mixture into bars. Use a really good food processor!

 Add chopped dates into the processor and pulse until well processed and the dates look like this:

Add the pecans, chocolate chips and vanilla and pulse until everything is chopped and forming a ball of sticky goodness.

For Bars:
Pour the mixture onto the wrap and roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into bars and wrap individually. Place the wrapped bars into a Ziploc baggie and refrigerate.

For Truffles:
Take about a tablespoon and a half into your hand and roll into balls. Dredge balls lightly in cocoa powder and place in an air tight container. Refrigerate. 

Have you tried to make your own Lara Bars? I would love more flavor ideas!

Love My Kids {lunch boxes} Gluten free Grown up or Kid friendly Lunch

I hope to share some of my ideas for fun lunch boxes with you all through out the next school year. I am a Gluten-Free eater and so many of my ideas will also be Gluten-Free.

This is a meal that I created for myself but I was thinking also of my Phia. I could easily fix this entire meal for her to enjoy at school. The thing I love about this meal is that it is packed with nutrients and good flavors. It will fill you up, give you energy and won't make you feel heavy or tired. Sounds like the perfect teacher lunch to me! You could easily through in some crackers, pita or pretzels along with this meal for a those that just have to have the bread carbs to survive! If you just hate pickles, I'd use carrots or peppers.

  1. Roasted Chicken, Swiss, and Pickles "Sandwich Sushi" with Mustard for dipping
  2. Sliced Apples & Nutella
  3. Spinach Salad with Craisins and Walnuts with Balsamic Vinaigrette for dipping

  • To make the Sandwich Sushi, lay two slices of roasted chicken flat, Add a slice of pickle and a "cube" of swish and roll. Cut in half or thirds to make bite sized pieces. Serve with Spicy Brown Mustard for dipping. One serving is three rolls: (six slices of roasted chicken lunch meat, three cubes of cheese and about 1 half of a pickle sliced)

  • Slice up an apple and splash it with some lemon juice to keep it from browning or sprinkle with Fruit Fresh. Add 1 Tbs. of Nutella or Almond Butter, Peanut Butter or Sun butter.

  • Add about a cup of fresh Spinach leaves and 1 Tbs.. of Vinaigrette.

  • Add a few walnuts and a small handful of Craisins, blueberries, raisins or other dried fruit to sprinkle on the salad or eat on it's own.

Up-close look at the "Sandwich Sushi"

This Bento is a box that I found  at Gilt that just happens to be available again!

I hope that this lunch box inspired you!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Love my kids {lunch boxes}

Well, school is starting soon and this momma is feeling excited/emotional/unprepared for her baby to be starting Kindergarten (ack). One way I feel that I can calm my nerves is to think up great and healthy lunches that my Mighty will actually love  eat. This can be challenging because Mighty is a picky eater but I hope with the fun and creativity of bento he might try some new things. My princess on the other hand eats very well and I'm excited to use lots of different fruits, veggies and fun colors and flavors in her lunch box.

We will be making lunches for 4 people in my household. We are on a budget (saving for LB (little brother)'s adoption -anoceansizedlove for more on that ) so I make lunch for my sweet man, Mighty, my princess, and myself for school days. I would love to hear what you do to fix lunches ahead of time or the morning of. Please link your ideas!

Here are a few great blog posts I've found to inspire me as I plan for lunches...

This Lunch Rox

For the Sweetie ...

This Lunch Rox

How cute is this little froggie?

This Lunch Rox

I love this idea for kid made tacos at school! Sort of Lunchables with a healthy and yummy twist...

This Lunch Rox

Can you tell I'm in love with ThisLunchRox? I will be visiting this blog weekly for great lunch ideas.

Need recipes to fill your lunch boxes/bento boxes?

I love Weelicious for her healthy and fun toddler friendly foods. Many of her recipes make for great lunch box companions like the fruit leather and dips.

Fruit Leather

Red Pepper Dip

Here are some more blogs to inspire you while you plan meals for this school year:

Bento's Mighty wants us to try:
Phineas and Ferb Bento Box

And for my sweet Princess:

I hope to make this a regular post to share ideas on creative lunches and how to prep ahead of time for busy mom's like me. If you have ideas please comment and leave your links! I'd love to find some more fun bento blogs to follow!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Are you looking for a gift? An adoption gift?

I have seen Junk Posse all over the web, talked about on blogs, bragged about by customers, worn by friends. I love her style and that she is so active in supporting adoption. That is the kind of company that I like to support! If you are looking for a great gift, especially for an adoptive mommy to be look to Junk Posse for a creative and beautiful treasure.

{A big thankyou to Tracy with Junk Posse for her donation to our auction. Get a chance to bid starting August 1st!}

My Heart Swirls with  Russian Love
My heart swirls with Russia Love
Heart for AFRICA necklace
Heart For Africa

To "Simply Love" is the Key necklace-Adoption Fundraiser
Simply Love

"To Love what I do and feel that it makes a difference-How could I ask for anymore!”

That is how I feel about my Jewelry that I design and Create to help support many non-profits and families that are adopting. It is passion with a purpose. . I really liked designing jewelry and It became a deep love for me when I started donating a nice portion of the sales to others.

My muse are the orphans that have been given a second chance by incredible people that take the risk to open their hearts and love the unloved.

I am touched by the mom’s that send me thank you notes & pictures of their little ones and I think of each one as I put a sweet name or message on the necklace. I love to make a treasure , something tangible that they can have close to them as they wait for a baby to come home or as a reminder of how they chose to be a mom and how they love their children.

The connection between women and my pieces is also something that continues to amaze me. I have had moms connect in line at Disneyland because they were both wearing one of my necklaces. I have also met many wonderful husbands that want a one of kind piece that will show how much they appreciate their wives and daughters. I have such a great respect for single mom’s who make the decision to adopt children and sometimes older children and to do the best that they can to raise them, these people are just some of my hero’s that drive me each day to be so excited to get to make my Jewelry in my little studio, each piece by hand for someone that I admire and look up to because they have chosen to be the change our children need, the hope.

Tracy Hanson is an Adoptive Mom & Grandma to four~Including a little one adopted from Africa.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pillowcase Dress Winner

The winner for the Pillowcase Dress and Hairbow is:
True Random Number Generator



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#3  Laura said...

I have donated. Thanks for doing this for them!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gluten Free Corn Muffins with Chicken Sausage- Make Ahead Breakfast

I don't know if you are like me, but I rarely have time in the morning to MAKE a good breakfast for myself. Between fixing my husbands lunch, the kids breakfast and getting everyone ready for the day I usually scramble to throw a gluten free bagel or piece of gluten free bread in the toaster. That is neither satisfying nor is it really a complete breakfast so I've been looking for ways to make ahead breakfasts like I do for most of our dinners.

 I found the idea of making "corn dog" muffins over at OAMM which inspired this recipe. I had heard that Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix was really good, and I found Al Fresco chicken sausages on sale at Publix. From that, I created a muffin that tastes an awful lot like a breakfast casserole. The best part is that it was very simple and easy to make. If you are casein free or dairy free, you could try a rice cheese or leaving that out all together. For vegetarians, use a veggie sausage or just some grilled red pepper or mushrooms would be yummy and keep the muffins very moist.

1 pkg. Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix (best deal locally at Nutrition Smart for $3.49, they carry it at some Publix stores but for almost $5!)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk or regular old cow's milk will do just great
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 pkg. Al Fresco Country Style Chicken Sausages sliced or diced
1 Tbs. minced dehydrated onion

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a muffin pan with paper liners or grease well. Combine wet ingredients with whisk. Add mix and onion stirring until combined. Fold in cheese and sausages. Use a large cookie or batter scoop to evenly distribute the dough into the pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Place muffins in a gallon sized freezer bag and freeze. To re-heat, place two muffins on a plate and microwave for 1 minute 20 seconds.

I hope you try these out! Please let me know if you do!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Owl Themed Gotcha Party, Birthday or Baby Shower

Since we are now in the process to adopt our son, I can't help but think of his future birthday celebrations. I honestly love boy celebrations! Girl parties are super fun, but there are many unique and creative fun boy themes that I am in love with. One of which is Owls! Owls are so hip right now but are also timeless! Who doesn't love a good "hoot"?

I found this adorable bedding by Dwell Studios at Seedlings (in South Tampa, you should check it out! Most amazing baby/toddler store ever!). I'm in love and trying to think of a way to sell it to my almost 6 year old who will be sharing a room with little brother. So far, no such luck but I can always use it for a party theme! Here are some great ideas I found...

by Gourmet Invitations

owl themed baby shower invitation

Hostess Blog


And my favorite...I love everything about this shower! I can think of so many great ways to make it a bit more birthday friendly! I love the boyish bunting and the "hooty library". A-dor-able!

Rustic Owl Themed Baby Shower
Hostess Blog Owl Inspired Baby Shower

And the food...

Owl Pops

Anthropologie Owl Baby Shower
Mini desserts

Party Food

Monday, July 18, 2011

Win a pillowcase dress & bow, and support adoption!

A friend of mine, Darbi Mills just found out that her and her husband are matched with a birthmother and their baby girl is due any day! They didn't expect such a fast match and they still have some funds to raise. They have some great tee's that simply say "Support Adoption". With every t-shirth purchase or donation of $5.00 or more you can be entered to win a custom-made pillowcase dress and matching hairbow or hairband in the size of your choosing.

All you have to do to enter is visit Darbi's blog: On Distant Shores, donate with the paypal donate button $5.00 or more, OR purchase one of the great t-shirts from the blog. After giving, comment on my blog and let me know! The winner will be selected at random, and for fairness sake I will confirm donations/purchases with Darbi. Winner will be chosen Monday, July 25th.

Here are the fabric choices:

Have another fabric/color scheme in mind? I can probably get my hands on it! Willing to make the dress custom to your liking and size.
Here is an example of a finished dress:

Here are some examples hairbows:

For one more chance to win, after donating or making a purchase, post to your Facebook, Blog or Tweet the giveaway and comment below letting me know. Don't forget to comment after donating/purchasing a t-shirt!
Thanks so much for supporting this lovely family!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Two Prince Bakery Theater- a great resource for party planning, GF and CF cookies and much more!

I am privileged to know Dorangela from Two Prince Bakery Theater! She is sweet, creative and very giving. Two Prince Bakery Theater has donated a $24 gift certificate to our fundraiser and I know one very lucky winner will enjoy her yummy Gluten Free and Casein Free cookies. I am always so inspired by her parties, crafts and ideas. I love following her blog and I have been introduced to some great party planning and crafty blogs through her as well. I know you will enjoy her posts!

Gluten Free Casein Free Soy Free Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Gluten Free Casein Free Soy Free Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Visit Dorangela at Two Prince Bakery Theater for wonderful party ideas, decorating tips and crafts! Or, shop her Etsy store for yummy GL and CF cookies that you and your little ones will love!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


My sister is in town for the week and my kids have been so excited they were literally counting down the days! Every morning Mighty would wake up and ask "is Anthony coming today?" (Anthony is the only boy of 6 of my sister's kids). Phia would chime in "Yeah, is Olivia coming?". Then we would name them all, K, E, M, O, A, J. 

Can you tell that we love our cousins?

So excited, she just can't hide it!

Best Buds

Having so much fun! 

The timing for this trip couldn't have been more perfect! My sister came just in time to help me get ready for our garage sale to raise funds for our adoption. We put K, my oldest niece to work too. She designed posters for our sale and they came out beautifully!

This is the condition of my house getting ready for the sale:

And my garage....

visit for more on our adoption fundraiser. 


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