Wednesday, November 29, 2017

day of kindness link-up

After reading C's blog about her family's annual Kindness Day, I decided that is a tradition I absolutely want to implement in our family.


When we had our kids dedicated at church, our biggest prayer for them was that they would have a heart like Jesus and consistently go out of their way to love others.


Our big kids have had a horrible case of the gimmes lately. We cannot leave the house without repeated requests for toys or treats. We keep reiterating that they are very lucky to have what they have and they absolutely need nothing else, but I fear it's falling on deaf ears.


Due to all of the above circumstances, I have decided to make December 16th our family's first annual Day of Kindness. I've encouraged other moms in my community to do the same and I am leading the call for any of you reading this blog.

Some acts of kindness ideas:
-picking up litter in your community
-donating a few cans of food to your local food bank
-leaving a lottery ticket scratch off on a gas pump
-paying for the person behind you at Starbucks
-leaving snacks and water for your delivery drivers
-giving $5 gift cards to unsuspecting shoppers at the local Target or grocery store
-bringing cookies to a neighbor - bonus points if it is someone who may be home-bound
-bringing cookies to your local fire or police station
-visiting a nursing home

You could really do anything with it to fit your budget. I am going to sit down with the kids this evening and let them help me come up with the list of what we should do. The day of, I am going to have them be the kindness elves. I am hoping them seeing the joy on other's faces will help it click that it is a lot more enjoyable to do good for others than to serve yourself. Furthermore, implementing this tradition will help soften the Santa blow when the time comes as I fully intend on taking the "you become Santa" approach when the time comes.

Will you join us? On December 16, I will have a link-up where you can share what acts of kindness you will or did participate in and how your kids (if applicable) reacted.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

thanksgiving weekend

Thanksgiving 2017 is in the books and was great! 

I had Wednesday off work. The kids were playing with the $2 slime you can get from Michael's when Edith said "ugh! Not AGAIN!" I asked her what was wrong and she had slime on her cheeks:

As I was cleaning it off I asked her why she did that. Her response? "I didn't! It fell on me." #okayliar

We spent Thanksgiving in Youngstown with Jon's family and Friday with my family. We ate so much food (my mom got Jon the famous Trader Joe's faux-turkey loaf - the verdict is it was really good) and spent quality time with our families. It was truly perfection.

Saturday morning was spent at the doctor. Elden and Edith needed flu shots and Etta had been sick for over 3 weeks--she got croup and the croup went away but she never got healthy. We learned some valuable lessons:
1. if you have two children who are getting flu shots one before the other, keep the second child out of the room because he will lose his ever-loving mind when his sibling starts crying
2. always drive separately when the flu shot / doctor appointments are an hour apart.

After that marathon morning we went home and did nothing until my sister took Elden and Edith on the Polar Express!

Sunday we had church and then did nothing and it was glorious. Or maybe we put up our tree. We put up our tree at some point this weekend but I don't recall which day.

Now I would like to talk to you about this vegan breaded "chicken." GUYS IT IS SO GOOD. I honestly prefer it to real chicken because I am hella weird about gristle (hork) so you get all the benefits of chicken without the killing of said chicken and gristle! I ate a whole lot of it.

Finally, yesterday someone on our local moms Facebook page offered up her Groupon for free pizza, salad, and a 2-liter because it was about to expire and she couldn't redeem it herself.. so we got free pizza for dinner! It ended up being an extra big blessing because work was insanity yesterday and I left really late.

Friday, November 24, 2017

christmas card 2017

So we had our Christmas minis last Saturday morning. About three hours before our session, I had a great idea for a fun little Christmas card this year! Plus, it would require one trip to Starbucks. Win/win.

Without further adieu, I give you the Flip family Christmas card 2017:

I used Picmonkey to design the card (I started with two of their templates and edited them) and we ordered the cards from Costco. I also ordered a different design from Walgreen's to mix things up a little bit. I'm so proud of this card and I think it is so fun! Here is my favorite outtake from the card - look at Edith's form:

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

what's up wednesday

Linking up with MelSheaffer, and Shay!

What we're eating this week:

 Instant Pot Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup

Traditional Thanksgiving fare

Vegan Cincinnati-style chili with vegan sour cream

What I'm reminiscing about:

I can't believe that Elden is such a self sufficient little human now. The other day he asked us for a paper plate and then disappeared. We didn't hear or see anything else about it until he presented Jon with this self-portrait as a belated birthday gift:
He figured out where the markers and glue were and did the rest himself. This was definitely his sneakiest/sweetest project to date and wasn't he just a baby yesterday?

What I'm loving:

UberEats. I really wanted food over the weekend but I looked like this:
So UberEats it was! That was my first experience and it was awesome. And yes, I took off the face peel before the driver arrived.

What we've been up to:

On Sunday we took the bigs to Wild Kratts Live. To be honest, for the cost of the tickets it was a bit lackluster. The kids really enjoyed it though so I guess it was worth it!

What I'm dreading:

Snow, although the kids' excitement over the flurries is so sweet.

What I'm working on:

I joined Planet Fitness two weeks ago and I am actually doing a pretty decent job of going. I try to do about 45 minutes of cardio and then rotate between arms or legs, but I also totally don't know what I'm doing so I kind of slyly observe those who do know what they are doing and then attempt to replicate that. 

What I'm excited about:

Thanksgiving! In the morning we will have a slow start with the parade and breakfast. We will eventually make our way to Youngstown to celebrate with Jon's mom's side of the family. The next day we will celebrate with my family! 

What I'm watching:

Since The Mindy Project ended, we are watching Modern Family and The Goldberg's.

I'm also watching the kids watch our new Grinch inflatable. This is the scene in our living room basically every day.

What I'm listening to:

The Score, The Maine, and Fall Out Boy.

What I'm wearing:

These shoes are the best workout shoes ever.

I also love these high-waisted leggings.

What I'm doing:

Deal hunting! We are primarily done with our Christmas shopping and I have been a coupon stacking queen. That being said, I am still on the hunt for free shipping Shutterfly coupon codes so if you have any to spare I'd love if you'd share with me!

What I'm looking forward to next month:

This weekend we went to see our friends, Heather and Paul, and their brood / newest addition. Our kids are perfectly matched playmates and we obviously love having adult interaction. We planned a play date for December and I cannot wait!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

told you so

Jon made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast Sunday morning. Etta ate in just a diaper because chocolate and clothes don't mix. When she had finished, Jon and I were still eating so he just decided to take off her diaper and let her have some naked time while we finished up.

Jon: I hope she doesn't pee on the floor.
Etta: (1 minute later) *pees on floor*
 ^She was quite proud of herself.

So once we got the pee (and Etta's feet/legs) cleaned up, I recommended Jon put her in a diaper because poop would be next.

Jon: She won't poop, she already pooped this morning.
Danielle: Okay, but if she poops on the floor you're responsible for cleanup.
Etta: (5 minutes later)
I honestly can't remember the last time I laughed so hard.While he was cleaning up, Jon kept lamenting, "Etta! You betrayed me! I gave you freedom and you pooped on the floor." Can't say I didn't warn him!

Monday, November 20, 2017

christmas mini 2017

My friend, Marge, launched a new photography business. I always swoon over the pictures she takes of her kids so when we had an opportunity to do a little Christmas mini session with the kids we jumped at it. I am so excited! I intentionally left out some special photos we took for our Christmas card (no, it's not a pregnancy announcement) that I'll share in a different post.
If you are local I highly recommend her! Her contact info is on the page I linked to so send her a message if you are interested in getting some pictures taken.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


Our small group is a second family to us. Every year we have a traditional Friendsgiving the week prior to Thanksgiving. As you know, I was in charge of the turkey. I didn't get many photos because dinner was during a time when Etta was supposed to be sleeping so I was inhaling food in an effort to leave quickly.

But it was all so delicious and our kids all had so much fun!!!

boudoir shot

Saturday, November 18, 2017

the best instant pot black bean and sweet potato soup (plus it's vegan!)

Here's the thing: my tastes keep changing and catching me off guard. Prior to this year I hated everything sweet potatoes stood for. "Potatoes aren't supposed to be sweet!" I would yell. To me, sweet potatoes were the invalids of the root vegetable world. Heathens, if you will.

When Jon told me he would be making sweet potato soup I grimaced. He asked if I would try any and I said of course I would try it but don't get your hopes up because sweet potatoes are a joke.

I don't know what black magic Jon worked with the pressure cooker, but that soup was frigging amazing. Furthermore, it was really healthy (there's no oil and since it's vegan it's obviously plant-based) and since it was cooked in a pressure cooker, it was super easy to make. We don't actually have an Instant Pot, but I know that's the type of pressure cooker most have, so here we are with a recipe tailored to you.

Instant Pot Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 gloves garlic
1 stalk celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 cup dry black beans
4 cups veggie broth
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed (you can use your hands to do this)
2 bay leaves

Set the Instant Pot to saute. Add a little bit of water*, onion, garlic and celery and saute until softened. Let brown slightly. Add slightly more water, the sweet potatoes and carrots and saute until the carrots and potatoes are slightly browned. Add remaining ingredients, close the lid and cook on high pressure for 23 minutes. When the time is up, allow for natural pressure release (about another 20 minutes). Remove bay leaves and stir with a wooden spoon. The potatoes will break up with stirring. 

*If you'd like you could substitute oil, but Jon cooks almost entirely without oil and it still turns out great. The key is just adding a little bit of water whenever anything starts to stick. The water will evaporate but not before soaking flavor into the food you are cooking.

I didn't take a picture because I blinked and it was gone, but I promise you the next time we make it I will take a photo. That being said, it is definitely not the prettiest soup, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in flavor.

Friday, November 17, 2017

al franken, donald trump, roy moore, and modern christianity in politics

Generally speaking, I do not get into the trenches when it comes to politics. I will share my opinion if you ask and I frequently contact my representatives, but I believe it is futile to argue over talking points because it never gets anywhere.

I cannot stay silent any longer.

I am a Christian. I believe Jesus died on the cross to atone for my sins (and yours, and the worst of us). I believe the only way to meet Jesus in Heaven is to know this truth.

I am also a sexual abuse survivor. I was sexually abused by a relative when I was a child.

This has created a weird set of circumstances for me. I wish I could say I was alone in this, but the statistics are devastating. This means that every week as you sit in your pew, you are likely surrounded by sexual assault survivors. Now imagine being the survivor of a sexual assault and hearing your pastor--the person you most commonly look to for spiritual guidance--say you need to ask for forgiveness for your part in your sexual assault. Because you obviously did something that brought this upon yourself.

You're probably thinking that sort of thing doesn't happen because this is 2017. Except just a few years ago at a church in Chicago--which is a "liberal" / more accepting (others would likely translate 'accepting' to 'sinful') city--I sat in a pew and heard this very statement.

Let's take it a step further. Not only does one of your most trusted leaders tell you that you are partially at fault for your sexual assault, but they tell you your abuser is an "upright man" and should be forgiven.

I can't believe this is the year 2017 and this still needs to be said: there is nothing. NOTHING. "upright" about touching or trying to touch or alluding you can touch someone sexually who does not want it.

I don't care if you are Al Franken. I don't care if you are Donald Trump or Roy Moore. Republican. Democrat. Independent.

You are not fit to lead.

You are not right to support someone who has most likely committed these acts. You are particularly amiss if you claim to believe in and follow a higher moral power and support someone who has done these things.

And if your thought is immediately "an accusation is not a fact. An accusation holds no merit." then you are part of the problem. Every time you question someone who takes the (insanely brave, equally terrifying and likely damaging to the victim) step to publicly identify someone who has sexually assaulted them, someone close to you--it could be your mom, sister, best friend, child--quietly notes that he or she cannot trust you with their own experiences.

If you claim to love Jesus--if you claim to live a life not of this earth--then you simply cannot support a politician or leader who has sexually assaulted someone just because "we all sin" and they happen to support the main political issues you support. It doesn't work like that. That's called hypocrisy. And as Christians, we need to stop.

friday favorites

{1} Jon and I are drowning in toys. We have reached the point where we want to burn the house down and start over. Turns out, our library has a ton of toys you can borrow. We got our first toy this week (and we can keep it for 3 weeks) and it is a hit. I'm seriously considering donating 90% of our toys and relying on the library to mix things up. I'm going to start by going through all of the toys and putting the ones they rarely play with in a black garbage bag in the garage. If in a month or two they haven't asked for them (Elden is notorious for cycling back through toys months after he's lost interest in them and that has bitten me in the butt before) then they are being donated. No child needs the amount of toys that our kids have.

{2} I know. My first item discusses how much I hate ALL THE TOYS and then my second is spent gushing over the adorable tea set I found on Amazon for $22. Consider this my window shopping. I won't buy this for my kids but if I wasn't ready to burn it down I totally would.

{image source}
{3} Costco had these Japanese noodle bowls as samples the other day and I am hooked. They are vegan, every member of our family (except Elden, natch) likes them, and they are so delicious. Totally on par with takeout and for a fraction of the cost and calories.

{4} I can't speak to the comparison between these foot peels and the famous Baby Foot ones, but for a third of the price I am OBSESSED. I just did another peel this week and there are few things more satisfying in life than seeing my dead skin fall off. It's disgusting. It gives me life.

{5} I can officially say the baby-making chapter of our lives is finished. I got an IUD this week (in part so I don't make any rash I-want-a-baby-right-now-they-are-so-cute decisions) and now that I'm looking back I'm pretty sad about it. I keep reassuring myself that just because we are done making them, it does not mean we won't ever have another baby in our house. We still really want to foster and adopt, and even though right now isn't the right time for that, it doesn't mean the timing will always be off. Since I figured it would be best to spare you a photo of my uterus or my OBGYN inserting the IUD, here is Elden's stupidly cute school picture. Bow tie was his request--like father, like son indeed.

{6} I did it!! I cooked my first turkey! No one died! They said it was actually pretty good! You can find me on next season's Master Chef. I only had one (prolonged) mental breakdown but I am officially a #turkeyboss.

Linking up with KatieAprilAndreaNarci and Erika!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

turkey update

If you read yesterday's post, you know that times were tough in Casa de Flip.

Thank God for my village, Google, and divine intervention.

Jon put the turkey in a water bath for most of my time at work. This means it was thawedish when I got home.

In addition to the turkey, I had to make vegan sour cream (Etta was eating it by the spoonful, if that's any indication of its taste) and three quiches for new mama meals (one was a spinach, leek and Gruyere quiche, one was a spinach, leek and Brussels sprout quiche, and one was a bacon quiche). Since I was terrified of the turkey I did all that cooking first.

Guys, it was traumatic, but I did it. I recorded the sordid tale in my Instagram stories (@daniellefilipko) if you'd like to watch me freak out. But I did it!
Today's challenge involves not overcooking or undercooking it and praying I used enough (but not too much!) salt. Who would have thought that as an engineer who has tackled classes such as differential equations, calculus, and organic chemistry something like preparing a turkey would be my biggest practical challenge?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

SOS turkey emergency mental breakdown

Last year, I attempted to make a free turkey that we had. I had never made a turkey before and for reasons unknown cooking a turkey scares the ever loving $#@& out of me. In the hierarchy of things that scare me, it goes something like this:

1. something happening to my kids
2. cooking turkeys
3. Donald Trump having access to nuclear weapons

I popped that sucker on the counter for three days to defrost. Then I decided to research how to prepare and cook a turkey. That's when I learned you are not supposed to thaw a turkey on the counter because everyone will contract salmonella and die.

That turkey went in the garbage.

Armed with my newfound turkey wisdom, I volunteered to cook the turkey for Friendsgiving this year. You don't thaw turkeys on the counter. What could go wrong?

Monday morning I gingerly placed the turkey in the fridge to start the thawing process.
actual photo of me on Monday morning. {image source}
Today, it is Wednesday. Friendsgiving is tomorrow. I am planning on prepping the turkey tonight so that all I have to do is put it in the oven in the morning. As my coffee brewed this morning, I decided to check the progress of the thawing.

It isn't good. 

I then proceeded to rapid-fire-manically-text my small group and update them on my fragile mental state (I keep forgetting to take my anti-anxiety medication...this is not a good time to be forgetting such a thing) and our turkey emergency. All week they've been planning a beautiful Friendsgiving complete with mason jars and the fixings, and I'm going to ruin the main event. We're going to end up eating chicken nuggets and lamenting

You know what they say. 
{image source}
Pray for us.

the most fun homemade gift ever

I am a scientist / engineer. Math and science are my strengths. Try as I might, I am not artistic. This is pretty odd considering I hail from parents who met at art school--my dad is a professional photographer and my mom is a professional artist. This girl? All left brain.

Thanks a lot, genetic variation.

LUCKILY! My mom is crazy talented. She also greatly enjoys crafting. This means I have my own personal resource for all things arts and crafts. More importantly, my kids can reap the benefit of having a family member that can make their wildest craft dreams come true since I can't do that for them.

For Etta's first birthday, my mom used patterns from Lia Griffith to make the cutest little felt garden I have ever seen.
^the worms and potato bugs were my mom's brainchild--no pattern necessary! These are Elden's favorite part of the garden.
There are also mushrooms, but Edith likely put them in one of her many purses and I was too tired to hunt them down. Etta loves taking everything out of the garden, I love putting everything back in the garden, and Edith loves carrying the vegetables in a basket around the house. This is absolutely a present that I will hold onto for eternity.

If you want something similar, you could either join Lia's website to download the patterns, or you could find a variety of felt vegetables / felt gardens by searching for them on Etsy. Honestly, looking at all the stuff Lia offers on her website, I am seriously considering trying my hand at them. It will likely end in disaster, but they are just too cute to pass up.