Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Updated Garland On The Cheap (...Okay Free)

I know it's not really original but I thought I would share how I fancied up my $2 garland from Walmart for free.  First off the garland was 9 feet long.  I though it was long enough but when I got it home discovered the ledge in our front room is more like 10 or 11 feet long.  Luckily I already had filler I planned to use around the garland (the bells).  Out came my wire cutters and I snipped the garland into 3 separate pieces so I could spread it out.  I wanted to add some embellishment to it.  Conveniently, I had leftover pine cones from our bird feeder activity so I added these on.
Wash and bake your pine cones on aluminum foiled cookie sheet prior to using for decoration.  I washed mine in hot water and then baked them at 250 degrees for about 30 minutes.  They didn't have sap on them to worry about thank goodness. 
Next using fishing line or possibly jewelry string (I used fishing line), tie it around your pine cone first wiggling it into the center to get a tight hold.  Secure this with a square knot leaving a few inches on both sides of the knot.
Then attach the secured pine cone to your garland with the excess line.  I wrapped mine around the metal center but you would place them on stems of the pine also.  Make sure to tie a couple square knots so it doesn't come lose.  Trim off excess line. 
Somewhat close up of the pine cone attached.  The larger pine cones were also found (last year)...these required more washing and baking than the smaller ones.  Also, I promise my wall isn't so distastefully green as it looks, although I've been dying to paint it since we moved in a year ago. 

Last of all, love yourself for saving money this season...Merry Christmas!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pine Cone Bird Feeder

Simple.  Easy.  Kid-Friendly.  This was our afternoon project today.  We collected pine cones at the park last week.  No need to clean or bake them.  Just tie on a string or twine then apply peanut butter.  I would advise a couple large spoonfuls in a bowl unless you have a jar that's almost gone.  Roll in or sprinkle with bird seed and you're set.  I imagine wild bird seed might be better for this project (for the birds) but we used what had available.  The girls loved it.  Although so far we haven't seen any birds (darn it!)...maybe it was too late in the season. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What's New On Etsy: Child Aprons

Well I did it again.  I participated in a holiday boutique with my good friend.  It was much more successful.  I was able to clear out some of my stash of towels and I added a new item this time.  Children's aprons.  I figured they were a simple project and a good way to use up some of my larger scraps of material.  They have elastic in the neck straps and snap closures at the hip for the back strap...making it super easy for children to put on and use without too much help.  I'm thinking that my girls will definitely be getting their very own this Christmas.  In the meantime here are some great pictures and the aprons are available here at my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Trying Something New(ish)

It's not completely new to me but I haven't crocheted anything beyond my simple scarves a couple years ago for my kiddos.  I learned to crochet very basically around age 13 and didn't keep it up.  Pretty much the only stitches I know are single and double crochets and chaining.  But my sister has taken a renewed love of it and is trying to reintroduce me to the art as well.  She is a fan of Ravelry.com and now so am I.  Granted I can't do a lot of the projects I want to yet but I'm going to learn some things for sure.

Here is my first project via Jennifer Dickerson.  I started out easy with what she calls a modified granny stripe.  It was soooo easy and fun to remember.  Plus I learned a little more about reading patterns...which has been a mystery to me.  I finished this one in a few hours and now I'm ready to try something different and learn some new stitches.

*Update (10/06/13):  How flattering...I received a message on Ravelry that they want to feature my photo/scarf as a project done with the pattern.  I must have done pretty good for my first project haha

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fall Crafts for Toddlers

*I've been collecting fall crafts ideas.  I thought I would share some that I plan to do in our house.

1.  Fall Sticky Trees by  Two-Daloo.  Love this blog.  She's a speech-language pathologist and focuses on sensory play and fun. 2. Sun Prints at Parents.com.  3. Leaf Lantern by 5orangepotatoes.  4. Leaf Printing at thisisloveforever.com  5. Salt Dough Prints at thatartistwoman.org.  

My Review:

- Sun prints (#2).  This was super easy and turned out pretty cool also.  We want on a nature walk and picked out leaves and other fall objects (acorns, etc).  My girls enjoyed this.  Then we used a glue stick to attach them to construction paper (Dollar Store) and stuck them up in a sunny window for a couple days.  We then put them in frames from a thrift store.  They turned out great.  I recommend this one.

- Leaf Lantern (#3).  I did this with fake leaves from the Dollar Store and Modge Podge.  This didn't work so well and I wasn't a fan.  This project wasn't completed.  Maybe real leaves would work better.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Half and Half Homemade Pancakes

Half n' Half Homemade Pancakes 

1 1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 C white flour
1 T baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 T white sugar
2 1/2 C milk
2 eggs
3 T melted butter

Mix all of your dry ingredients together.  Add milk, eggs and butter and mix until smooth with a whisk.  You may need a little more milk.  Drop batter onto a skillet approx 350 degrees F.  I like to use a measuring cup for ease and uniformity.  Once edges dry a little flip and cook both sides until golden brown.  These are also good to make in bulk and freeze.

*You can do this recipe with all whole wheat flour or all white flour.  I like to do half of each, thus the name of the recipe came to be.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Gyoza / Potstickers

I'll be honest I don't know the difference between the two.  I love them both.  Menus where I live seem to list both names almost synonymous with what shows up on my plate.  So call it whatever you want and I'll call them delicious.  This recipe comes from my sister who lived in Japan for a time teaching English and conversational English.

Homemade Gyoza / Potstickers
1Cabbage (Naptha supposedly works best; I used standard my first time making it)
1/2 lbGround pork or turkey (I used 1 lb ground turkey)
3 tspSesame oil
3 tspSoy sauce
1 1/2 tspGround ginger
1 1/2 tspGround garlic
1 1/2 tspSalt
2                packages of wonton wrappers
Cut up cabbage into very small pieces. Put in bowl and add salt. The salt helps to purge some of the water out of the cabbage.  Squeeze cabbage to remove excess water before mixing with meat.  I also placed it on paper towels to press some of the water out. 

Mix remaining ingredients with cabbage.  You'll want to use your hands for this to be effective. 

Put a small amount of the mixture in the middle of wonton wrapper and fold.  The square type wontons fold over into a triangle and then connect the two corners.  Use warm water to seal the wontons and avoid getting the mixture on the edges. The back of  most packaging has helpful instructions and pictures.

Freeze if desired.  Flash freeze first (on a cookie sheet or flat surface) until frozen and not sticky.  After flash freezing you can place them into ziploc bags.
COOKING: Add 1 to 2 T oil to pan and heat over med-high. Fry bottoms of gyoza until golden brown. Add water to pan until bottom is covered but not too deep (1/4 c or less). Cover with lid and cook for 7-8 min or until bubbling sound changes to a sizzle. Serve with rice.

DIP: soy sauce and couple drops of chili oil (or even tabasco) and small amount of vinegar to taste.

* I made approx 1 gallon size freezer bag of gyoza / pot stickers with this recipe.  It works great for freezing...just add a couple more minutes of cook time.  When I cook mine I'll try to remember to add a couple more photos.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Scrub A Dub Dub

I never thought much of cleaning out all the water toys we use for bath time around here.  Scrubbing the outside yes but not so much the inside.  Then I started noticing a duck getting "shadows" and Pluto the same.  So I got some hot water and sucked it inside, shook them vigorously and squeezed it out.  Nasty!  Brownish gray sludge-like mold or growth of some kind came out.  I cleaned them all out the same way.  Disgusting.  I let my kids bath with this? Ewwww.   I thought it was just my severe neglect the first time that caused it to be so gross but a month or two passed and I just cleaned them out again the other day.  Not as horrific but if you need motivation to clean and seal yours (the holes on these will be hit with a hot glue gun tonight) look no further than these pictures.
Left: the number of toys cleaned (not massive)               Right:  the nasty mold and/or residue that came out

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Planning Equals Motivation

One can hope right?

In an effort to get more done in a day...I'm in my pajama bottoms at 3 pm so you could say I have been feeling unmotivated recently.  I am potty training my 2 1/2 year old twin girls though so there is that excuse. But the committee (made up of well --- me) has spoken and there is need for some organization and accomplishment around here.  This is also definitely being motivated by a recent change of my husband's work schedule and less time together as a family and wanting to do more around the house.

I bring you my road map.  My blue print.  My calendar.  My plan.  Let's see how it flies.
I made sure to leave room to write things in day-to-day.  Also the following are ideas to fill my daily activities with our girls:
- Make Something Monday:  food, craft, blanket fort...something will be made
- Take A Trip: go to the park, walk or hike, museum, play dates...get out of the house
- Wet & Wild: pool day outside, splash pad or something wet or messy
- Whimsy / Imagine: imagination games and pretend play
- Think / Experiment: science experiments, learn something new...grow that brain
- Library: Story time or check out a new book or movie
- Fresh & Fun: try out something new and fun (ideas on Pinterest or internet)
- Family Night: spend time as a family or with family/friends
The Original

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Ham Fried Rice

My mom has been making the best ham fried rice since I can remember.  It's super yummy.  Probably not really good for you but the taste says "eat me anyway".  I do of course.  Plus it's a recipe that leaves leftovers for work lunches or leftover night (we've been doing more of this to save on our budget).

Ham Fried Rice

1 stick of butter
6 eggs - scrambled in a bowl
3/4 C of frozen peas and carrots
8 oz cubed ham
4 cups cooked rice
Soy sauce
salt and pepper
1/2 can bean sprouts (optional - my girls won't eat them so we forego usually)

In a large skillet heat up stick of butter until it's melted and sizzles a little.  Pour in your beaten eggs and scramble them.  Next add ham and allow it time to heat up (pre-cubed is already cooked).  Then add frozen peas and carrots (I use about 1/2 the package) and give this time to thaw and heat.  Once everything in the skillet is cooked combine it with your cooked rice in a large bowl (this helps to avoid spilling).  Serve while still hot or warm.  It does reheat really well for leftovers as well.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ROAD TRIP: 2 Year Old Twins

This wasn't a short trip.  We are talking about a cross country trip with our 2 year old twins (32 hours... driving time only).  The mother load.  You can say it...we're insane!

I read and brainstormed for weeks on what to entertain them with.  What essential gear I needed and how to cut corners (because who can afford $20+ each just for a lap tray that they may hate).  So like many crazy moms who find their tips and tricks in the world of road trips...I'm sharing my wealth of knowledge.  Come let me impart my wisdom.

I took some advice from one blog I read.  That was to clean my car out from fender to bumper ahead of time (vacuum every nook and cranny, scrub down and remove junk).  As parents, especially of little ones, we all know the damage and mess that is in our car from day to day.  I felt so much better starting out with a clean car, even knowing I would arrive back home with a mess after the trip.

Never seen or haven't seen in a few weeks.  This was my plan of attack.  New $1 store toys...standard protocol here.  Hiding their favorites for a few weeks before hand.  Bringing out a new arsenal when tantrums are imminent.

I bagged up a snack and a new toy in lunch bags and labeled them with the day and hour...I didn't want to blow my load in one day.  I didn't stick to the day/hour in the end but it did help to spread it out.  This was perfect.  The girls loved the "prizes" and it was a helpful distraction when bums were getting sore and destinations were a little more of a stretch.  I've read that some parents are against the "bribing" but I say it's for my sanity and my kids happiness.  When this got a little old and the crank still set in I also brought them into gas station stops to pick out a treat.  And no they don't expect this type of thing now that we are home and back into our day to day.

What road trip blog post would be complete without a list of the arsenal to bring?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Homemade Mac & Cheese

One of the first meals my little Seren learned to request was Mac & Cheese.  I would ask what my girls wanted to eat and she would say " 'n cheese".  She loves it.  Both my girls do.  It's one way I can guarantee a well eaten lunch with them.

Homemade Mac & Cheese 
*serves two toddlers with some to spare
1 cup of elbow macaroni (I buy this in bulk)
1 tsp to 2 tsp of Cheese Sprinkles (optional; sold at Smith's in my area)
2 or 3 Tbsp of milk
1 Tbsp of flour
1/2 C shredded cheddar (medium or sharp)
Parmesan Cheese (optional)

*these are all guesses on measurement...I don't actually measure anything which is one reason I love this recipe.

Boil water and cook your macaroni until it's tender.  Drain water.  Sprinkle with cheese sprinkles (optional; I do this for extra cheesy flavor but I think with sharp cheddar you could leave it out).  Add milk and stir.  Add cheese and flour while still over low heat.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Top with parmesan cheese (real or canned).  Let cool before serving.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Personalized Wedding Picture...

I've been trying to find different things to decorate our newly remodeled bedroom.  I had recently pinned something about how to make your master bedroom your own...it included things like not doing chores (laundry folding, etc) in this room, adding romantic lighting and personalizing it with couple things.  I liked the idea of bringing the lyrics to our wedding song into our room.  The words and meaning were the reason we had chosen it.  When I Fall in Love by Nat King Cole.  Classic.  Timeless.  Never ending.  Here is what I came up with using photo editing software.  I love it.  Now to just find something to frame it and somewhere to hang it.

* Want one of your own?  This is available (personalized of course) on my Etsy Shop.  Stop by and use coupon code: N2CBlog10 for 10% off your total purchase.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

FoodPlanner App...

When my husband told me he was getting us both a Nexus 7 tablet (because you know two of those cost the same as one iPad)...I had no idea what I would do with it.  I still haven't put it to great use I'm sure but I do enjoy it a lot.  Our girls also have had hours of fun and educational apps put to use on it (more on that later). They are whizzes at puzzles and I think it has helped to grow their vocabulary...granted we try to limit their use of them still.
One thing I did decide to do with my tablet was to use it for organizing my grocery shopping and menu planning...

Friday, May 17, 2013

Maybe Warnings Should Be Heeded...

How many times have you looked at the age limits or warnings on random little toys or activities and after evaluating it yourself thought...eh they're old enough what harm can it do, looks safe enough.  Well I've done the same or maybe I stand alone on this.  In my case it was a 3 yr + recommendation with a 0-3 yrs and a frowning face next to it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Baked Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Baked Tomato and Mozzarella salad
6Roma tomatoes; thinly sliced
3 tbspOlive oil
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
8 ozFresh mozarella ball; cubed
2 tbspFresh basil; chopped
1 clove
Roasted garlic ; mashed into paste
1/8 cBalsamic vinegar (original calls for 1/4 c; I only use a few splashes...this is the trick between good and great) 
1/2 cSliced olives (my spin on it...not original recipe)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Boutique: Results Are In

Well the boutiques are over and I'm still stocked up on hooded towels.  So as you can guess the results were not too great.  The first boutique felt like it was honestly a waste of time but at least it was free and only 3 hours long.  And I did run into some old friends from my old job.  It was a backyard boutique with the majority of vendors being the multi-level marketing type vendors (that's Utah for you...I think my husband says we're #1 for this in the nation).  My friend and I were two of possibly four that were hand crafted items.  My feeling is that this scared off a lot of shoppers with a more craft oriented target.  Who wants to go to a boutique crowded with pushy and sales strong people.  I would just skip it if it had been me getting the invite or seeing the advertisement.

I sold four towels.  All to other vendors.  Not one went to a customer coming through.  The traffic was so slow and low that I honestly think it was under 20 people who came through...probably less.  So it wasn't much of a win situation but....
Our booth set up for the official boutique

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Grilled Chicken Marinade...

*aka Hello Summer!

I don't know about you but for me summer equals grilling.  I love a tasty burger, flavorful chicken or a juicy steak on the barbie.  I grew up with a full grill but came into a marriage with a husband who's family is not big on grilling.  We had a small camping type grill but I dreamed of bigger.  Well a couple weeks ago we got this beauty at Home Depot on a reported "Black Friday" deal for summer.  Nothing super fancy but better than I was hoping for.
We christened it with hot dogs and chicken.  Not my ideal but I was too excited to use it to wait for our next trip to the grocery store.  We used a friends' chicken marinade recipe with some "ooops..crap" mistakes.  I'm including their version and ours below for your grilling fancy.  Both are delicious.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

First Boutique...

...followed quickly by second!  Oh my!  I have been making hooded towels for friends and sold a few on my Etsy shop but then I listed them on a Facebook page for boutique type and small business stuff in my area and was invited to participate in a boutique in my area.  It was commission free and free to enter...of course I was in.  I asked to invite a close friend who has done boutiques before...namely because we have discussed doing a boutique together.  During the decision process my friend suggested doing a professional style boutique which runs a few days after this one (cost to enter and commission based)...I was game for that too.  Why not?  Always room to learn and try things.

So we are both signed up and have been working towards both of these events.  We constructed a backdrop for the professional one, which we'll share and split cost.  We've discussed plans on set up.  Mostly I don't feel prepared on that end.  This friend has done boutiques before and has some of her own things she plans on using to set up the professional table.  I feel like I don't know how to contribute there, even though I offer.  We talked about sharing a table at the Facebook boutique and also about doing our own.  Today it was decided to do two.  So less than two weeks to go and I need to prepare a set up for myself.  It's not professional level so I'm not going to fret too much if it's homemade looking.  At any rate I'm realizing maybe I've bit off more than I want to chew at this point but the little extra money would be nice as well (I've got a few pre-orders already).  Will have to touch base again once I've survived or failed at this new venture.

*below is a trial run of my boutique tags...what do you think?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Do What You Know...

...and love what you do.  I think that's how the saying goes.  I try to love what I do but sometimes there is a lot to do and that love for "things" can get spread thin.

We completed our bed frame.  It isn't 100% ideal but I still love it and it's still totally worth it over buying an expensive frame.  I will be sharing pictures soon once the room comes back together.  A few other projects to do before the happens.

On a silly note we are preparing to potty train our twin girls.  I stepped into it once for a couple days and I wasn't ready (most likely they weren't either).  At any rate on the second day I found that potty charting was a pretty good motivator for my kiddos.  They loved picking out a sticker to put on the chart.  So it may not be elaborate but honestly what 2 year old or 3 year old needs elaboration.  It's simple and I think that does the trick for little toilet training bodies.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Unfinished Basement Pitfalls

We moved into our new(er) home in October 2012.  We love it but it has needed some love (not much just your usual move in projects) and so we are still settling in.  It doesn't help that the basement is unfinished and so being the DIY groupie I am the basement has been headquarters for projects.  Really it's been awesome.  Except it's littered with projects.  Namely our Farmhouse King Size Bedframe (ana-white.com), a bathroom step stool for the girls bathroom (also ana-white.com), a $5 thrift table I've been promising myself to refinish/paint and an old entertainment center I want to turn into a kitchenette.  Okay...see a pattern here?  Lots of projects in the works and I'm sitting here telling you about them instead of working on them.  Oh and how about I add on another project (or two).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Refurbished: Toddler Table

We were on kind of a tight budget this Christmas.  So I did quite a bit of shopping at thrift stores and watching the sales.  During my trips to a local thrift store I came upon this table and chairs.  You know the kind with padding and vinyl seats (usually some cartoon all over them).  Well it was in horrible shape and all the vinyl was ripped and padding falling out.  But it was $5 so I gave it a second thought.  I wanted to do a table for our twin girls and this price tag screamed "take me home and fix me".  So I did.  It took a few nights and a couple of naps and an extra $15-20 in supplies but in the end it saved me over the $45 price tag of a "cartoon table" and gave my girls an original without it being branded (which I absolutely love).

- junk table and chairs set (I have seen these at thrift stores a couple times since)
- wood filler/putty (large container $10 at Lowes)