May 20, 2015

Help Your Community

I participated in an Influencer Activation for State Farm Neighborhood Assist. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Big cities and small towns alike need to find ways to strengthen and revitalize their downtown areas. Some cities and town's business district sit like ghost towns. Others feel unsafe. Yet some downtown areas are booming with business. Some needs penetrate deep. Some communities commit to helping the homeless or unemployed, overcoming addiction, or reaching their senior citizens. In addition to volunteering for a cause and shopping downtown, we can help simply by voting. Keep reading to learn how you can support a cause that is important to you.

My own town, about ten minutes away from my home, works hard to maintain a positive downtown area. Each month they host a First Friday event in the evening. Businesses stay open late and offer discounts to their patrons. It's like a big festival with popcorn penetrating the air and balloons on every corner. Every month some big event takes place downtown like Country Christmas and Healthy Kids Day. The sidewalks and crosswalks have recently been beautified making our town more attractive to visitors and residents alike. Yet another business just closed. We must support small businesses, even if it means keeping a quarter in our pocket to feed the meter.

May 11, 2015

Cinnamon Dippers Recipe {Semi-Homemade}

We adore cinnamon rolls around here. We have our favorite cinnamon roll recipe, but when my mother-in-law shared this easy cinnamon slicers recipe using Rhodes frozen bread dough, I knew I had to try it. In fact, we've had it three times now. This last time I adapted the recipe a bit for our own preferences. I really like that the cinnamon dippers are semi-homemade. Frozen bread dough makes it quite easy.

Cinnamon Dippers

1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed 45 minutes
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 ounce cream cheese (or 2 tablespoons butter)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


1. Prepare loaf pan with butter or cooking spray.
2. Slice loaf into 24 thin pieces. (It's easiest to divide it in half first, then quarters. Then cut each quarter into six slices.) 
3. Place loaf pan on it's short side to stand it up.
4. Mix sugars and cinnamon well. Dip each piece of dough into the melted butter and then the cinnamon sugar mixture.
5. Place each dough piece in the pan, forming a new loaf. If you have pieces that don't fit like a loaf, place them on the side of the pan.
6. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 2+ hours. Dough will double in size.
7. Remove plastic wrap. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes.
8. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
9. Combine glaze ingredients. Drizzle over the cinnamon dippers or serve on the side with the warm cinnamon dippers.

Be warned. The last time I made these we finished them in one night. I just couldn't resist popping a dipper into my mouth each time I passed. (Thankfully I'm not a fan of frosting on anything...)
This makes a satisfying and easy sweet treat or dessert. I'm thinking I'll take it to a ladies' breakfast. It would also be great for Christmas morning. My daughter thinks I should make it more often. If you are looking for an oohey-gooey homemade cinnamon roll recipe, do try ours. It's a keeper. If you prefer to bake everything from scratch, try my 20-minute bread dough for this recipe. Try this simple trick for cutting bread dough.

~ Annette
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May 4, 2015

Fun Indoors: Nerf Target Practice

Last year for Christmas, every member of our family received Nerf guns (or bow) for Christmas. Every once in a while someone starts a war, and we have lots of fun as a family. Over spring break, I created a way for them to practice shooting since their aim isn't exactly on target.

Nerf target practice is a great rainy day activity. Please note, this is not a sponsored post; I'm just sharing a fun family activity.
Nerf indoor practice.

May 1, 2015

Book Club: 1984

Once again, I was asked to choose a book and lead a discussion about it for the Reading to Know Classics Book Club. This book club focuses on the classics, so it's often a great opportunity for me
to read a book I have never read or it's been so long I don't remember the details of it.

For April's reading selection, I chose 1984, by George Orwell. As one participant pointed out in her discussion, all governments ebb and flow. 1984 provides an excellent reminder of the power of power.

Please visit Reading to Know to view a few of my thoughts on George Orwell's rather prophetic book, 1984. Consider joining in any month.

~ Annette
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April 27, 2015

Signs of Spring

The month of April has been busy. I thought I'd share some signs of spring we've observed around our home as a little recap of the month. We had one surprise, in particular, that thrilled the whole family.
Little Sister collected worms and dandelions.

April 13, 2015

A Quiet Break

I'm taking a little spring blogging break, friends. It's been a busy month with overnight company and going out of town...every weekend. This week I begin physical therapy for my shoulder. My free time will be limited, so it's time for a little break. Be sure to explore our recipes, crafts, and homemaking ideas if you are looking for inspiration.
Happy spring!

~ Annette
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April 9, 2015

Ranch Chicken Recipe {Oven-Baked}

Baked chicken doesn't have to be boring. Oven-baked ranch chicken has a light breading and just enough flavor to be a family-favorite. Easy prep makes it great for dinner guests, too.

I've been making oven-baked ranch chicken longer than I've been married. It's that good...and that easy! The ranch provides just enough flavor and acts as a marinade.

(Please note: The photograph below shows my seasoned couscous with the ranch chicken breasts.)

April 6, 2015

Photo Shoot Tips for Kids at Home

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for OshKosh B’Gosh. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I've been taking photos of my children at home for a few years now. I don't have a DSLR camera, but I can still take a decent picture of my kids at home. Today I'm sharing five tips for a photo shoot at home. Though I prefer outdoor pictures, sometimes you have to stay inside.

Spring is here, so it's getting to be time to put away the sweaters and knee-high socks...or at least once it warms up. Spring and Easter mean new clothes for the children, so this is a great time to take some pictures of the kids in their favorite outfits. #ImagineSpring

April 1, 2015

A Bit of Personal News

I began blogging in 2009. Since then, I've learned how much I enjoy writing. Blogging has given me a voice.
I began the Little House Companion blog seven months ago. During this time, I have been writing a book about the Little House books. My book will be a companion guide for children and will include historical context, activities, and questions to make the reader think deeper and connect with the Little House books.

If interested, please read more about my book idea at Little House Companion. You can support this in a variety of ways, even just reading the blog!

Thanks so much for your support!
~ Annette
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March 30, 2015

Deep Cleansing Sugar Scrub (Giveaway x3)

Please read to the end for the giveaways. I'm often late to the game. I read books after movies come out. (Except Unbroken. That made it to my favorite books of 2013.) Or after I can read the complete series at once. I'm behind in fashion, too.  I still don't have riding boots (and that's okay). And food. It's been in the past year or so that I learned I do enjoy yogurt. No one has convinced me to love fruit and vegetables though.

Better late than never.

A friend told me she made sugar scrubs as teacher gifts. I wondered what the draw was. But then my husband gave me a wonderful sweet pea body sugar scrub as a Christmas gift a few months ago. I was surprised at how great my legs felt and how the sugar scrub helped relieve my dry legs after each use.