Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Freezer Jam in Freezing Weather

Over the summer we picked about 2 pounds of strawberries from the raised beds in our yard. I knew with having just moved in a couple months prior that I wouldn't get to using them anytime soon so I froze them. Well, here it is, the end of fall and I finally got to making some strawberry freezer jam.

I attempted strawberry freezer jam a couple years ago and had let the berries sit in the fridge too long. It was a bit of a waste as the jam turned out fairly sour. I've been hesitant to make jam again since then.

I let the berries sit in the fridge for a day to thaw out naturally. They were a bit mushy, but not as bad as if I had tried to thaw them out quicker. Which really didn't matter so much since I was going to mush them up anyway. I did it the lazy way and put the berries in the food processor instead of mashing them myself.

Then I just followed the directions that came with the pectin. I love freezer jam for a number of reasons, number one being that it has a fresh fruit taste compared to canned jam. I also prefer making it because there's no cooking or canning involved, so it's really quick + easy. All you need is berries, sugar, + pectin.

The jam turned out much better this time. My mom always makes freezer jam and it's a treat to have a PBJ when we visit. I was so excited to have some of our own. I used 2 plastic containers she had given me last time I tried making jam and a frosting container, which she also often uses.

An unseasonable treat, but a treat just the same. 

Monday, November 29, 2010


Wednesday evening Malakai + I came down with a cold. Thursday I had a splitting headache + sounded like a frog man. Kai was a bit fussier than usual, but we did the Thanksgiving thing anyway.

{with Aunt Kristi at Thanksgiving round 1}

{round 2, playing with his Aunt Nanner + 2nd cousins Regis + Isaac,}

Sadly, most of the food didn't have much flavor because of my congestion. I kept eating, but nothing was as satisfying as I knew it could be. Thankfully Malakai ate really well, mostly sweet potatoes, but I was able to sneak some turkey into it.

Friday Ben had the same symptoms we did and Malakai's congestion got worse. He's never been a drooler, even while teething, but the saliva has been flowing like crazy around here. We hardly know how to deal with it.

We called Malakai's new pediatrician, Dr. B and got in right away with the other doc in the office since she was out that day. We know many people who see Dr. V so we knew we were in good hands. I had a feeling that Malakai had an ear infection. His balance had been off and he started tugging on his ear that morning (something he also never did with teething, like other kiddos do).

After a very sweet interaction with Dr. V (complete with tongue depressors in Kai's toes) he confirmed that Malakai did have an ear infection. My poor sweet little bean. He also let us know that he'd be very contagious for about a week. With all the drooling, coughing, and sneezing he was doing we thought it would be best to cancel our plans for the long weekend and quarantine ourselves.

So we currently have an empty spot waiting for a Christmas tree, and were without groceries for most of the weekend. We had to watch the football game through our xbox by ourselves, and missed out on several other interactions with family + friends.

I did accidentally go "Black Friday" shopping at Target. I was waiting for Malakai's prescription and suddenly I was on the phone with my mom checking out deals for her. It was later in the afternoon though so everything was pretty much gone. That night Ben's parents brought us over leftover turkey, cookies, and a take + bake pizza since we missed out on coming over. Saturday morning they brought us "camper" cinnamon rolls which we were supposed to have with them. It was very sweet of them to help take care of us.

Thankfully Malakai loves his antibiotics, has begun to tolerate the daily saline and nose aspirator sessions, and has a fair amount of energy during the day. He's sleeping well despite his cough and is getting less cranky as the days go by.

{sleepy mama}

We are all very exhausted from the back to back sickness. It felt like we had just gotten over the flu (or whatever it was), then Malakai had an upset stomach for a few days, and next we were hit with this nasty cold. I am thankful that we followed our instincts and took Malakai in to the doctor when we did.

We're slowly but surely on the mend and will hopefully be able to come out of quarantine soon. I'm getting a bit of cabin fever!

Friday, November 26, 2010

EcoMom: 7 days of giving

I'm a little late on posting about this, I've had so many other things to talk about recently. Better late than never...and especially better late than too late considering this event ends in a few days. 

I've partnered with EcoMom several times in the past to offer reviews + giveaways of their natural products. Now I want to tell you about an amazing event that is going currently.

Until Monday, November 29, EcoMom will randomly choose 4 orders per day and make them ABSOLUTELY FREE. No matter the purchase size, you could be a winner and your whole order will be free! What's more, they'll duplicate every free order and donate it to Baby2Baby -- a wonderful organization that helps support families in need. Everything in the store will be on sale, too, so even if your order isn't one of the free ones, you'll still be getting the best prices on eco-friendly products for your family.

Interesting Details About This Event:
  • The 7 Days of Giving countdown begins November 23rd and runs through November 29th - in conjunction with our big sale. Winners will be announced daily.
  • The donation will be made at a Los Angeles shelter in collaboration with Baby2Baby the week of November 29th. 
  • 4 orders per day will be selected at random to get a free order. 
  • In total, 28 EcoMom shoppers will get their entire bill paid for by EcoMom
  • EcoMom will take care of their bill AND match the grand total with an equal donation to a Los Angeles shelter in collaboration with Baby2Baby. 
  • Event partners are: Ecomom, Baby2Baby.org, Plum Organics, SmartyPants and Episencial. 
  • Baby2Baby supplies Los Angeles families in need with essential baby gear and clothing for their children 0-4 years old.  They distribute new and gently used items through a network of community-based organizations.
So while you're doing your after Thanksgiving shopping online this weekend, head over to EcoMom to save during their big sale and for your chance to get your entire order for free!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's already time for Christmas cards!

I am hoping to get our Christmas cards out early this year. I've been planning on making my own this year. I thought it would be most cost effective to create something on the computer and then print them as photo prints through Shutterfly. That was, until I discovered their promotion through my friend Anna's blog.

If you are a blogger, you can apply to receive 50 free Christmas cards through their current promotion here. So now I find myself looking through all their layouts and my cards might not get out so early this year because I can't seem to choose just one favorite out of all their designs! I have already put together and saved about 17 different versions of cards. I love that I can design as many as I want until I find that perfect design and photo combination.

Here are two of my favorites. I love the modern look with the classic Christmas time feel to them. I don't know if I could choose just one photo to send, so I may have to go with the second one to get more pictures in. I love photo cards.

What design would you choose?

Thankful on a Thursday: 400

It's going to be a whirlwind of a day for us with not one, but two Thanksgiving celebrations today. Just another great thing about having both my family + Ben's in the same town (most of them anyway). Malakai and I have also just come down with a nasty cold, but I'm going to choose a positive attitude and focus on the many blessings in my life.

How appropriate to reach 400 things on Thanksgiving Day. I am so thankful for...

391. the first snow of the season, putting everyone in the Holiday spirit.

392. Ben's hard work around the house. He cleared the leaves out back and made room for the car in the garage just in time for a heavy rain (which I got caught in) and the subsequent freeze.

393. moments Malakai takes a break from playing and just wants a quick hug + kiss, even if he also wants to kiss the remote, or my laptop cables. Silly boy.

394. a refreshing first meeting with Kai's new pediatrician. We liked her very much and are excited that her values are very much in line with ours. PLUS she's apparently the only pediatrician in Eugene that will email with parents. LOVE this!

395. when we get to stay in jammies all day.

396. our warm + cozy house.

397. my musical boys.

398. our jobs.

399. a bit of quiet playtime.

400. gathering with both sides of the family today.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

another dessert recipe

I think it's a little funny that almost all of my posts about cooking have to do with desserts. I don't usually make anything worth sharing for dinner. Except this soup I just discovered, but I didn't actually "make" it. Anyway, it's awesome- go buy it. But first, keep reading about these cookies I made...

On Friday night Malakai was still recovering from an upset stomach that we are now thinking came from him trying curry (not hot) for the first time. Poor kiddo. He went to bed early, so Ben + I were trying to figure out what to watch on Netflix.

Meanwhile, I had a mad craving for chocolate but only had some milk chocolate chips I had just grabbed at the grocery store. So, of course I busted into those. While I was eating them I discovered a recipe on the bag. One that was quick + easy and I had all the ingredients for. I decided to do some last minute night time baking to satisfy my sweet tooth. Ben even helped me make them, which I believe was the first time he's ever baked with me.

They're called shortbread rounds and they are teensie bite-sized little goodies. We learned quickly that they are very addicting.

Here's the recipe:

  • 1 cup butter, softened. 
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups unsifted flour
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips (we used the Guittard ones, they're nice + fat)
Only 4 ingredients, I count that as awesome! Especially when working in my mini-sized kitchen. 

Since my decision to bake them was last minute, the butter was straight out of the fridge. So I put it on the oven racks while it was preheating, like I did with the cream cheese for my pumpkin rolls. Unfortunately this time, I got side tracked and they melted quite a bit and made a terrible mess in my oven (that might still be there). Ben said it smelled like pancakes. It could have been worse. 

I put all 4 sticks of butter in my mixer and the realized that 4 sticks is 2 cups  and I was certainly not trying to double the recipe. So I threw the extras in a tupperware container for later, but not too much later. Perhaps baking at the end of the day is not a good task for my tired brain to take on. 

Anyway, you beat the sugar with the butter with an electric mixer. Then you slowly add in the flour until blended. The dough should be a bit crumbly. Next add in the chocolate chips and mix by hand. 

{ridiculously wonderful dough to chocolate chip ratio}

Then, using the palm of your hands roll well rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough in to 1 inch balls. ( I flattened the first batch because I didn't know what the heck I was doing). Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees. I always set my timer to the lowest time when I'm baking so if I can't get to them right away I have time time before anything gets burnt. 

I made these cookies again today (I put that extra butter to good use quickly!) and I wanted to try other types of chocolate chips. I happened to have dark chocolate, mint, and white chocolate in addition to the milk chocolate. So instead of mixing up a cup into the dough, I scooped the dough into the palm of my hand, smooshed the chips into it and then rolled them up in the middle to make a variety of flavor combinations. 

Let the cookies stand for 2 minutes before removing from the sheet. You can opt to dust them with powdered sugar. We did some with + some without and preferred without. 

{then try your hardest not to consume them like popcorn}

Super quick, very easy, and totally yummy little treat. 


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Did you win?!

 The Hot Mama Handbag giveaway ended last night. Thank you to everyone who entered and hello to all you new followers. I hope you keep coming back for updates + features (as well as more giveaways).

There can only be one winner of the clutch set. The winner will receive the same clutch + keychain I reviewed from Hot Mama Handbags, a $23 value!

And the winner is...

{there were actually 35 comments but 2 were invalid}

Congratulations D, you have 48 hours to respond to the email I sent you in order to claim your prize!

For the rest of you, stay tuned for more giveaways coming soon and in the meantime, head over to Hot Mama Handbags and pick up your favorite item. 

Malakai's first snowy morning

This morning at a quarter to seven my sweet husband woke me up to tell me it has snowed (last night I told him we should wake up every hour to check for snow). I peeked out our blinds to see a light dusting across our neighborhood.

Something about snowfall makes me feel like a kid again. I get giddy and excited. Once in college, it snowed on Halloween and my girl friends and I got out of bed at 5am and ran around in our jammies. A couple years later it snowed on my birthday and my roommate's boyfriend and I made a snowman while she made us breakfast. We obviously don't get much snow in the Willamette Valley. In fact, we didn't get any last year, so this is Malakai's very first snow! I'm kind of glad he got to experience his first snow at an age where he could actually interact with it.

I took a video of him seeing the snow out the back window for the first time. He wasn't so sure about it. Ben was waiting for a ride from a friend with a better equipped vehicle for driving on the icy roads so we all got to experience the first snow of 2010 together. We bundled Malakai up and took him out front (the backyard was too squishy).

{someone didn't want to let go of his toys}

{what is this fluffy stuff?}

{cold! get it off, get it off!}

{thankful for a cozy warm house}

{from our front door looking out}

The sun is starting to coming out and normally that would mean melting the snow and maybe some rain, but the weather report is freezing, freezing, freezing for the next couple of days. 

Stay safe friends!

Oh, and no I haven't forgotten. I will post the winner of the Hot Mama Handbags giveaway later today!

Monday, November 22, 2010

One Day on Earth

A while back I read about the One Day on Earth project happening on 10.10.10 over at Ryan Marshall's blog, Pacing the Panic Room. I wanted to participate but it took me a really long time to figure out what to capture through video or photography. I actually didn't decide until that day when I began to video tape Ben + Malakai interacting.

I didn't have a lot of time to edit, and I'm not very familiar with video editing in the first place. Something I hope to learn more about from Ben in the future. I'm happy with the end result and think it captures Ben + Malakai's relationship and the importance of a father + son bond.

Malakai and Daddy from Shandell on Vimeo.

PS don't forget to enter my current giveaway. Ends TONIGHT!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Five years ago today Ben + I became a couple. We had met about 7 months prior through mutual friends, then that fall we started hanging out more. I don't remember the exact day we first kissed, but it came before the relationship talk. Which, wasn't much of a talk at all really. We had just finished watching something at my apartment (I think Survivor) and were talking about how we had enjoyed stealing glances at one another around campus. It was fun to have a little bit of a secret that no one else knew about. But then Ben said, "what if we didn't keep it a secret?" Playing dumb I asked what he meant and that's when he asked me to be his girlfriend.

Neither one of us was expecting a relationship when we first started hanging out. In fact, I had once playfully told him to make sure he didn't fall in love with me or anything. I think you usually find just what you need when you aren't searching for it.

We haven't celebrated our dating anniversary since we got married in 2007. We didn't really "celebrate" today other than recognizing the time that had passed. Five years feels like a long time, in a (very) good way.

{the very first photo we took together}

Happy Five Year Date-a-versary mi amor!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Blog Guidebook

I've recently discovered a new listing of blogs. As if I don't already have too many to read!

In their own words:

The Blog Guidebook is the vision of two women who want to see the blogging community grow in friendship, creativity and beauty. That's really what blogging is all about.

Established in 2010, The Blog Guidebook encompasses all bloggers, be they crafty, creative, cooks, bakers, teens, moms, dads, children in need, pet lovers, home stylers, antiquers, flea marketers, homeschoolers, doctors, lawyers, in any country, and on and on. You name it, you can blog it. And we want to read it!

Head on over if you're looking to discover new blogs, or want to list your own! While you're over there, vote for Today's Letters for Top Blog (right sidebar).

And now back to our regularly scheduled weekend (of sitting around in our jammies).

Friday, November 19, 2010

a rough one

I don't like to whine or complain much around here. Looking back, the posts where I talk about everything that is going wrong in our day to day just don't seem to fit. I guess not many of us like to look back through the negative things. However, I do want to be authentic and I think it's important to look where you've been to see how far you've come.

So, we've had a rough week. I mentioned earlier that Ben + I were sick with the flu or something just as awful. Thankfully it didn't last too terribly long and we made a quick recovery. We've been hoping + praying that Malakai wouldn't be next.

The last couple of nights he has had a very hard time sleeping. Yesterday he wouldn't eat much, refusing some of his favorites. He doesn't have any respiratory symptoms, so I'm guessing his stomach is bothering him. I hate having to guess. While I don't want him to grow up in a hurry, I do look forward to the day when he can tell me what's wrong. Until then, I'm praying for a healthy dose of "mother's intuition" to help me out.

And unfortunately I have to make a call as to whether we can continue to watch other littles. When I can't, I have to pass on my not-so-great week to someone else by putting them in a bind for childcare. Like I said, it's been a rough one.

Until our whole house is healthy again, we'll be laying low. Here's hoping for another speedy recovery!

Happy weekend friends,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful on a Thursday: a minute

I've had about a minute of quiet time to myself today, and that is not a complaint. Why? Because I have been blessed to watch a friend's two little girls this afternoon. The oldest is 2 years old and the youngest is 2 months old. Plus, they're little girls and I'm usually surrounded by men + little boys all the time. So I'm obviously quite content to give up my quiet afternoon to get my baby girl fix.

This week I'm thankful for...

381. watching Malakai learn to play well with new friends.

382. teensie baby snuggles + sounds.

383. having a get together with friends to look forward to.

384. the smell of fresh herb + cheese bread baking in my oven.

385. getting more done before noon than I get done in most entire days.

386. feeling better after battling some flu-ish sickness + Malakai avoiding it altogether.

387. support + friendship from wonderful people we've never met in person.

388. a coffee pot that stays on long enough to keep my drink hot after 2 feedings, 3 diaper changes, and one reluctant sleeper.

389. Tuesday questions.

390. the upcoming low-key weekend.

P.S. don't forget to enter the latest giveaway.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hot Mama Handbags Feature, Review, + Giveaway! {CLOSED}

It has been a while since I've featured a shop around here. I purposefully took a break to slow things down around here and around home for a bit. I've got some fun giveaways coming up just in time for the holidays. If you'd like me to feature your goods contact me!

I have adored Maranda's creations for quite a while now. She makes fashionable + functional purses, totes, clutches + more that are offered in her shop Hot Mama Handbags. She knows just how important multiple pockets are for mama's to keep sippy cups separate from pocket books. Her bags are beautiful and aren't just for mama's looking for a great diaper bag. I've been searching for that perfect bag where size + practicality meet style. It's harder than you'd think. 

If I could get any bag it would be the Medium Morning Glory Bag. Gorgeous! Here is a little bit more about Maranda, her family and Hot Mama Handbags.

Where are you located + are you from there originally?  A Montana native by way of California, I share a quiet rural setting with my high school sweetheart hubby, our two boys and our menagerie of horses, dogs and cats.

How did you come up with your shop name? I originally started making car organizers, nursing covers, burp clothes which led me to my official shop name of Baby Ever After. Your baby becomes your own little fairy tale. Hot Mama Handbags is my unofficial shop name and the name of my line of bags and accessories. Every women, mommy or not, should love the bag she's carrying. It should be fun and express her own personality. I was bored with the boring black diaper bags and started stitching up my own and well, here I am now!  Every woman is a hot mama!

How long have you had your shop? I've had my Etsy shop for about 1 1/2 years but have been creating items for mommy and baby for over 2 years.

What inspires you? I'm inspired by gorgeous, colorful, fun fabrics.  It's my pure bliss to create something that other women can use and love!

What is your favorite item in your shop? It's hard to decide which item is my favorite. It depends on the season, what I'm doing that day, my mood, is it sunny or snowing outside?  My all time favorites are the Emma Bags, the Keychain Fob-never drop your keys again, and the Large Clutch with detachable strap.

Do you have any other jobs or hobbies? When I'm not actually creating,I'm usually thinking about it. When not in my studio,  I'm home with my boys, baking, dancing, and singing (usually all at the same time and of course with 2 little helpers). We live in beautiful Montana and love to hike, ski and otherwise explore our natural surrounding.

Share an interesting fact about yourselfI once (that's right only once) ran a marathon. That's 26.2 miles!

What do you hope your future holds? I love to live in the moment of each day tucking away those precious moments with my kids, take mental snapshots of their antics and simply pray they will grow to be kind, loving, successful men. I hope to one day to watch them with their own children and am forever thankful for the opportunity given to me now to create something that another woman can enjoy. And it would be really fun to one day go skydiving! :)


Shandell's Review

Maranda graciously sent me this clutch with a matching keychain for review. I always do a review with my features to be sure I'm sharing quality products with you. When I received the set in the mail, even my husband was impressed with how well made it was. I was showing it off to my mom and she was surprised it was handmade...her work is THAT good!

I received the clutch about a month ago and have been using it almost daily ever since. I put it to use right away.

I took it to dinner with my wallet, cell phone, keys (adorned with the matching keychain of course), + lip gloss.

I take it to church every Sunday with my journal, wallet, cell phone, lip gloss + pen. I just grab it out of our diaper bag that stays with Malakai in the nursery and I've got everything I need for service.

I've also taken it on a run to the grocery store with Malakai in tow. I packed it full with my wallet (which is the fairly large), a diaper, plastic wipes case, my cell, keys + of course my shopping list + coupons. If I didn't carry such a large wallet, I could have fit another diaper.

{morning in church, run to the grocery store, zipped + empty}

At risk of stating the obvious, I love this clutch + keychain set. If you don't prefer to carry a clutch it would make a great gift, so be sure to check out Maranda's shop and pick up a set. 


Maranda is giving away the same clutch + keychain set to one lucky reader of Breaking New Ground! 

For your chance to win, leave a comment on this post relevant to the following entry requirements. Be sure that your email address is easily accessible in your blogger profile or leave it at the end of each entry comment. example: shanleann1 at gmail dot com (to avoid spam + such). Be sure to leave one comment for each entry. 

Mandatory entry: 

Head on over to Hot Mama Handbags, and tell me what you'd put on your holiday wish list or what you'd buy for a friend. 

Extra entries:
(you must complete the mandatory entry before the extras)

~ Tweet the following: "@ShanLeAnn has a new #giveaway! Head over to Breaking New Ground for the goods http://bit.ly/bOqJdO {ends 11.22.10}" 
(following me on twitter isn't part of this entry but it might be fun!)


Facebook the following: "New Giveaway at Breaking New Ground! http://bit.ly/bOqJdO Click to enter {ends 11.22.10}

(only one entry, even if you share on both twitter + facebook)

~ Like Hot Mama Handbags on Facebook.

~ Publicly follow Breaking New Ground through Google Friend Connect

This giveaway will end November 22nd, 2010 at 11:00 pm PST. Winner will be announced + notified on November 23rd, 2010. Winner will be selected at random via random.org and will have 48 hours to respond in order to claim the prize or it will be awarded to an alternate. 

Open to U.S. residents only. All comments will be verified. Comments subject to removal without notification based on their relevance to contest. All comments will be verified. So, please be sure to follow instructions carefully. 

Questions? As always click on the "email me" button to send me a message. Please do not leave a comment here that isn't intended to be an entry into the giveaway. However, feel free to include additional comments within your entry if you want to leave some love for Hot Mama Handbags.

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this review. All opinions are my own. Click for additional disclosures and PR policies.

Best of luck!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Today Malakai is 16 months on the 16th. It's been almost exactly two years since we found out we'd be welcoming a baby the following July (16th).

Even though Ben + I came down with something on Sunday night and are just starting to feel better, I decided to take Malakai to the park down the street. It was a perfectly sunny + crisp fall morning and my boy had been cooped up inside for too long. I thought the short walk + fresh air would do us both some good.

The park was damp + empty. He loves to watch other kids play, but I think he also enjoyed having the whole place to himself to explore.

{this puffer jacket is killin' me}

His favorite is still the swing. He walks up to it now, pats it and says "up."

The whole time he was singing "uh-wee, uh-wee, uh-wee". Even when I'd step back and let him stop swinging to get some photos, he was kicking his feet and whispering his little song.

I started to get cold and Kai a little cranky so we headed back home. About a block from our house I thought he was going to fall asleep but once we strolled up to the garage door he perked up again.

After shedding a few layers he had some quiet time with Elmo (who happens to be about 18 years old) while I made lunch. Now he's napping + I'm taking it easy so I can get healthy for the rest of our week. Still praying that he doesn't wind up getting whatever nasty sickness Ben + I are getting over.

At 16 months Malakai is soaking up information like a little sponge. He's able to repeat almost anything we say (if he's in the mood) and sometimes does things all on his own. Last night he pointed to himself and attempted to say his name. We hadn't really taught him this and were in shock!

I try to keep track of his little milestones on the list to the left, but they are happening so fast these days. I started out writing every little thing down, I think I wrote down the dates of his first 3 teeth and now he has 12! In the long run, it doesn't matter much to us. He's happy, healthy, + developing at a normal rate.

PS thanks to all of you who nominated + voted for me on The Bump's Mommy Blog Awards. I appreciate the support. They'll be announcing a winner tomorrow.
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