Monday, August 29, 2011

Pinterest

Wow!  The kids are off to their first day of school!  Well, I can tell you what I will be doing with a tiny bit of my extra free time…I will be browsing around Pinterest.  It is this new site my good friend Sunny told me about and she warned me.  She said, “It is addicting”.  I didn’t believe her…but then I got hooked…and then I found the app for my iphone…I am totally addicted!
It is a wonderful site to organize all the lovely things we find on the internet.  I mostly love the creativity of it: finding crafts to make, new recipes, and kids art projects!  The best part is that it is totally for the visual learner, that’s me!  You save any ideas you find on “boards” and then you have a pic of each thing you save, no more searching when you forgot the name of the recipe!
So try it out if you like, it is a great way to pick areas to search in and not have to go through endless blog searches!


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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Happy Back to School Teacher Gifts

The summer flew by so fast and now it is time to head back to school!  I found some great ideas for teacher gifts and started with an adorable idea for an insulated cup (they are all the rage) that can be found for $5 at Wal-Mart.  I then filled it with some lemonade drink packets and a small bag of cookies.  The tag says, “Thank you for quenching my thirst for knowledge”.  The kids had “Meet the Teacher” day on Friday morning, so they met their teacher and then handed them each a cup.  They were a huge hit!

I also like to do practical gifts.  Due to the budget crisis our teachers have NO money to spend on basic classroom supplies and have to reach into their own pockets for stuff like Kleenex, copy paper, and paper towels.  On the first day of school each one of my kids will go with boxes of Kleenex for their teachers.  My son is also giving his teacher note cards for speeches they will be working on.  It is always nice to send extra school supplies; some kids never bring them or can’t afford them.

My daughter’s teacher is teaching an apple unit for the first week of school!  She is very excited and couldn’t wait to pick out her apple at the grocery store.  I also went ahead and picked out five different apples; being sure to leave the stickers on them to let the teacher know which ones they were.  I then painted her initial on a canvas re-usable lunch bag, put the apples in, and tied it with a cute ribbon.  Now she has extras for the kids that don’t bring them to school!

Happy Back to School!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Things and a Recipe

I have 2 new favorite things!  The first one is something I am sure most of you have, but for some reason I have been in the culinary dark ages and have never had one until recently.  My parents gave me a food processor for my birthday!  I had no idea how much I would use it.  I have used it to make salsa, fine crumble sausages for pizza, and make zucchini bread.  The shredding attachment is my favorite and I will never shred the old fashioned way again!
My other favorite thing is a new apron!  I don’t usually use aprons to cook, being an artist I wear them to protect my clothes while painting or teaching art.  I ruined way too many clothes in college and found out that a cheery apron with some style makes me happy while I work.  I found this new one in the clearance section at Marshall’s!  Perfect to use cooking and starting the new school year teaching art in my kid’s classes!
Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 ½ cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 cup grated unpeeled zucchini
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 9 “loaf pans with cooking oil. In a large bowl, beat eggs until frothy.  Beat in sugar, oil and vanilla until thick and lemon-colored. Stir in zucchini. Sift dry ingredients and stir into the batter. Fold in the nuts. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 40 minutes or until center springs back when touched. Cool 10 minutes before turning out on to racks. These freeze well.

Beautiful Moth

I was able to capture one last picture of the Hummingbird Moth with it's wings fully extended before it departed!  God has some truly amazing creatures!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hatching

They hatched!  I am so overly excited that our caterpillars have turned into butterflies and moths!  It has been the most amazing thing to watch as the caterpillars eat, poop (the kids favorite part), and then cocoon.
I wasn’t really sure how this would all turn out.  I started with some bugs and dirt from my garden, found out the sand is not to their liking, and just kept feeding them and giving them a sprinkling of water…hoping for the best!  I think I really got into it more than the kids, although they have liked seeing the changes in the bugs.
Our first learning experience was that the horned tomato worms eat A LOT!  Then we learned that the little green caterpillars are not baby horned worms, they are something else that turns into a beautiful little yellow butterfly.  Their metamorphosis only took about 2 weeks from start to finish.  The horned worms took about a month to turn into a butterfly, from the time they buried themselves under the dirt to cocoon until their cocoon actually moved up above the dirt and they hatched.  Through that, we learned that there are bugs that cocoon underground!
The first horned worm just hatched today and it turns into a beautiful sphinx moth or a hummingbird moth.  They are named that because they are huge, roughly the size of a hummingbird! Their wings start out small and expand as they dry out, as you can see in the pics below.
This was a wonderful science lesson for the kids that took a month in the making, an old aquarium, and the rest was free!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pests to Pets

My kids love to look for bugs in our yard.  I found that our broccoli and Boston ivy have a variety of tomato worms.  There are little baby ones that have just hatched and a big grand daddy one that has the girth of a penny and is 4 inches long.
About 4 years ago my son wanted to have an aquarium.  After going through a bunch of fish (pretty sure the money I spent on fish over a 2 year period would have paid for a papered Golden Retriever) we decided to put the aquarium up in the garage.  All the fish had died, except for a plecostomus, one of those algae eater fish that sucks the algae off of the side of the aquarium.  The fish store I had bought him at had gone out of business and I didn’t know what to do with him.  I stopped feeding him, thought he might just perish on his own…but no, after 2 months of no food he was still going strong, and was about 6 inches long.
After much deliberation (I couldn’t kill him) I put him in a zip loc baggie with water and placed the baggie in my purse.  I marched off to our local Wal-Mart Super Center and when I thought no one was looking, I emptied the baggie, fish and all, into their fish aquarium that was housing other plecostomus fish.  Of course the one I donated to them was about 6 times larger than the ones in their tank.
To this day, I am sure there was someone in the back watching security cameras and saying, “Hey, Joe, check out this crazy lady putting a fish IN the tank in the pet section.”
I digress, the reason for this post was to tell you that with an old aquarium some found caterpillars, a little sand and leaves to eat, you have FREE pets.  The best part is, they aren’t permanent.  Tomato worms will cocoon and turn into a beautiful Sphinx moth.  If they die before that, oh well, get some more, or put the aquarium away for later.
My kids are having a great time checking it throughout the day, collecting extra food, and showing their friends!  Great FREE summer fun!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Anniversary to My Wonderful Husband

Happy 15 years to my wonderful husband!

Favorite Spots in Cayman

I now have two snorkeling kids!  Clearly the Sea Wasp sting I received didn't phase them a bit.

On our way down the path to Cemetary Reef; one of our favorite beach spots.  There is a cemetary on the left side of the fence that is right on the water.  We have come here every year to swim and snorkel.




Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stung

June 25th was a very exciting day in Cayman as I went out to snorkel with my daughter, son, and husband.  The current was really strong and was causing poor visibility with lots of sand being churned up from the current.  We like to snorkel around the dock since there are lots of fish there and it is very common for us to see sting rays, tarpon, parrot fish, lobster, and others.
My daughter had just learned to use a snorkel mask the day before and wanted to go again to see the fish.  I was just about to come in with her since the visibility and current were so strong when I felt a sting on my left wrist.
I quickly grabbed her and ran in to put vinegar on it.  Then I started into the most excruciating pain I have ever had.  I went down to the dive shop to find out what to do, they put a lovely grainy ointment on it (as seen in the picture of my arm) and told me it should be better soon.  After an hour of pain I headed back to the dive shop, where Stu told me that I most likely was stung by a Sea Wasp which is a jellyfish related to the Box Jellyfish of Australia (very deadly).  He was stung by one last year.
The only way I could bear the pain was to have a bag of ice on my arm at all times.  By evening the pain was still there and I went in to the ER in Cayman. I saw a nice British Dr. who said it was a sea wasp sting and he couldn’t believe I didn’t come in sooner.  The pain is horrible and most people are put in a hospital bed and hooked up to IV pain meds to manage their pain until it gets better.  He gave me that option, but I just wanted to find out how long it would last and get some pain meds.  He said by morning I would be much better.  I got an anti-inflammatory shot in my “bum” and then an ointment and pain pills.  The Dr. did say none of it would make that much difference; this is just one of those things you have to wait out.  He also told me I would most likely not sleep that night.
Don’t you hate when the Doc is right?  The pain got worse before it finally started to subside.  It was 15 hours of pain and I didn’t sleep until 3 am.
I am just very thankful that my daughter or son was not stung.  I guess only 4 or 5 people a year are stung here, I am lucky!
Below are a picture of my arm and of the beautiful sea creature; the Sea Wasp.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cayman



The pictures above show why we love coming to Cayman every year.  We never get tired of this location and I think that is because you don’t get tired of God’s amazing creation.  His work is beautiful and even its beauty is ever changing.  The shore line changes, the trees grow or die, but each change brings about a new kind of beauty to see. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Traveling

We are on our annual trip to the Cayman Islands…I know hard life!  No, we don’t have off shore bank accounts here or anything like that, we are just blessed with generous parents who like to take us on family vacations (Cayman is a great windsurf spot, an important sport to my dad and husband).
Traveling is always an adventure.  Leaving the house at 3:30 am to who knows what may happen during our day of travel.
This trip I found out that if you wear a long dress you will be escorted to a glass room for a “pat down” by security.  I was more than happy to lift up my dress to show them I was not concealing anything…but that made security even more uncomfortable, so I waited for the female TSA agent to come check me out.  I give the LAX pat down about an 8 on thoroughness.  I had an 11 rated pat down in the Jamaica airport one time and after a pat down like that you are a pretty good judge.
On the first flight we had 3 little boys sitting behind us.  An hour into the flight my 9 year old son said, “I could do without the kid behind me kicking my seat the whole time.”  My response, “Well, 5 years ago you WERE that kid behind you”…”Oh”, my son said.
While flying it is always fun to check out the Sky Mall magazine.  There are always so many odd things you can buy.  My favorites were: “Big Foot, the Bashful Yeti” Tree Sculpture; Passing the Bar, the board game (I am pretty sure every lawyer I know never wants to re-live that); and Faux Work pant Loungewear complete with a faux work belt graphic built right in.
The end of our plane trip was celebrated by my 6 year old daughter locking herself in the airplane lavatory.  The conversation went like this: “Open the lock at the top of the door”, “Mommy, I can’t find the trash for my paper towel”, “Open the lock and I will show you where it is”, “I can’t find the trash for my paper towel”…as the conversation got louder the nice flight attendant unlocked the door from the outside.
We are now at our final destination…ah, worth every minute of the travel adventure!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Teacher Gifts

It is the end of the school year and I always want to thank the kid’s teachers with a nice gift.  Unfortunately nice gifts cost lots of money.  So, I always find another parent in the class to go in with me on a creative thoughtful gift.  I came up with this one a couple of years back, and until my kids actually have the same teacher, I plan on giving it every year.
First, I get one of my favorite “baskets”.  I can usually find these at Costco, Wal-Mart, or TjMaxx.  Second, I fill it with yummy fun food from Trader Joes.  Third, I find their initial, usually at Michaels, and tie it on the basket.  Complete it with a nice note and you have a nice teacher gift!

Barbie Party

I know I haven’t blogged in a while, but that end of school year stuff had me running all over!  I was spending part of almost every day volunteering at school in one way or another.  I love all the end of school year fun, so I had to volunteer so I could be involved and take pictures!  Enough of that, here is the good stuff:
My daughter turned six on May 26th so we had a very fun Barbie party!  My good friend Sunny gave me the idea of decorating with books for holidays and events.  I always have loved walking into her house to see how she has used her children’s books to decorate that month.  So creative!  Of course I stole her idea for my daughter’s party and pulled out every Barbie book I had…then pulled out all of her (and mine) Barbie toys and paraphernalia.  What a fun way to decorate, and I didn’t spend any money on the decorations!
After a trip to the dollar store for paper goods, balloons, and party favors, I was ready!  Oh, did I mention the Barbie cake I made that takes a normal adult 2 hours and took me 7 hours to complete?  It was worth it, and if my daughter (or son) ever wants one again I will be able to do it much faster! Ha, Ha!  We all had a great girly time!




Saturday, May 21, 2011

Family Picture Wall

“How do you do that?”  “Did you buy one of those picture hanging kits, the kind with all the frames and a paper layout?”  These are the kinds of questions I get when I hang new frames on the wall.  A picture wall with various frames hung in different arrangements looks intimidating, but it is not!  Here is what I do to create a family picture wall, oh, a cheap inexpensive family picture wall!
First, figure out where you want it in your house and collect any frames you have that you plan on using.  When I started my picture wall I had 4 frames I was going to use ( donated by my mom) and then I bought 5.  Don’t worry about what color they are, remember your frames are not all suppose to match!  You can easily change color at home with an inexpensive bottle of paint from the craft store, they cost a buck.
When looking for frames keep in mind what styles you like, but also pay attention to frames that are somewhat opposite if you are going for an eclectic look or frames that are the same sleek design, but a little different if you are going for a more formal look.
I only bought clearance frames and they all cost under $5 a frame.  So my picture wall only cost $25 dollars!
Second, once you have all your frames lay them out on a surface that is similar in color to your wall color (I used my floor, but you can also use a blanket or sheet).  This will help you to see how your frames will look on your wall and move your frames around until you have an arrangement you like.  When you get an arrangement you like, take a picture!  You may end up with more than one arrangement you like, take a picture each time, so you have something to look back on to decide.  Don’t worry if you don’t have the pictures in the frames yet, that doesn’t matter.
As you can see from my pictures below, I changed my frames after I layed them out.  I painted a white one blue and then sanded it to give it a worn look.  I painted another a light blue.  I also just lightly sanded a wood frame to make it look different than the others.  In design you want to use color and texture, sand paper is great at helping create texture!
Third, choose the picture of the layout you like best, put pictures in your frames, and get your lovely husband to use his laser level to hang your frames!
Oh, another piece of picture advice, when getting your prints to put in your frames, order them in a couple different sizes.  Sometimes an 8x10 print cut down to fit a 5x7 frame looks better than just ordering a 5x7 because that is the size of the frame (a great way to get a close up without taking one in the first place)!


A Good Read

Hello Blog!  I have been crazy busy with end of school year/spring activities the past couple of weeks and have neglected adding some new entries.  I have had many thoughts pop into my head about new blog entries, but they pop out just as quickly as I had them.  That is what happens when you are juggling volunteering, field trips, a "I am going to be six" birthday, and home improvement projects.

I sat down on the couch today, a first in a while, and read this column.  Had to share it with you since I had a good laugh at it!

http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la-hm-erskine-may21-20110521,0,3454988.column

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Favorite Room

Do you have a favorite room?  I love all of our house, well, I would like a bonus room for the kids, or maybe a new kitchen; but all in all I am very comfortable and content here.  The room I love the most is one that only cost $500 to add on and has lots of fresh air.
A year ago I decided that I wanted to get as much use out of our patio as possible and was miserable from the hot summer sun coming into our slider and blinding us in the family room.  I had estimates on a patio cover, but because of our wonky roof line, it was going to cost a fortune.  I researched every possibility.  When my mind is set on doing something it usually doesn’t go away until the project is complete.  I found a gazebo on sale at Target and patio furniture on sale at Wal-Mart.  I was able to purchase both and only use a portion of my saved painting money.
You can imagine the look on my husband’s face when he arrived home from work to see new patio furniture (all assembled with the help of my dad) and a long box with a gazebo for him to assemble!
We (notice I put “we”, my husband also enjoys the new room) love our new room and spend hours out there from May through to November; Southern California weather really lends itself to an outdoor room!  I love our view, the part without the basketball standard, the hills and tall trees are always peaceful to look at…except when they were on fire 3 years ago.  Our neighbors behind us had old ugly enormous TV antennae that the Lord so kindly blew off the roof during a Santa Ana wind day, so now our view is unobstructed!
If you don’t have an outdoor room and would like one they are easy to make, inexpensive, and can yield hours of enjoyment!  Just throw some furniture out there, add some plants, a couple of outdoor pillows and your room is complete!  You can get any look for your outdoor space you want from Sanford and Sons (am I dating myself or what?) to Architectural Digest…it is all about what makes your outdoor space your favorite room.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Upgrade

The exciting news in our house is that my husband upgraded his car!  This is a major event since he has been saying he will look for a new car for the last 3 years.  We actually went to a car dealership 3 years ago and test drove a car, but his gelape, as we like to call it, just kept running.  The gelape is also called “The Green Beast” by our mechanic, who has seen it as a challenge to keep the car running.  I believe he actually under charges us for maintenance so that we keep the car, I think he brags about it when we aren’t around.
The gelape is 12 years and 2 days old.  It is a Pontiac Grand Prix, not only does the make not exist anymore, either does the brand.  It has only 1 working window, on the passenger side.  The air only works on levels 2 and up.  If you turn the volume on the radio down it goes up really high first and nearly deafens you and all your passengers.  The upholstery is so worn that it is like sitting against sand paper, when you move it tears at your shirt and pulls you back; saying, “Please, please help me”.  Every time a warning light comes on the dashboard my husband just covers them with black electrical tape so he doesn’t have to look at the dash lit up like a Christmas tree.  The area between the front of the car and the engine has worn so thin you can feel the heat of the engine if you are sitting in the front of the car, probably not a Consumer Reports positive mark.  The amazing thing about the gelape is that with maintenance and a new trans (put in 3 years ago) it has been an excellent car.
The engine is original and left us yesterday at 228, 556 miles!
The S60 Caspian is the new replacement!  It is a Volvo S60 T5.  Also an amazing car!  When you only buy a car once every 12 years, the technology on the new one literally blows you out of the dealership.  Our car salesman said, “Going from the Pontiac to the S60 is like trading in a Model T for a rocket ship”.  He was right!  The windows, all 4, go up AND down, the radio volume can be controlled from various places in the car and you can plug in your IPod and see the songs displayed on the center dashboard screen, the air is climate controlled by seat, and most importantly the whole car doesn’t shake and sound like it is falling apart if you do over 60 on the freeway!  The most important thing to me is knowing my family is in a safe car…we just hope our car salesman made it back to Palm Springs last night in the gelape!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vacation!

Vacation!  We have been on a spring vacation in Palm Springs for the past 5 days.  I consider it a successful vacation!  The kids only had to apologize to old ladies at the pool once; I mean once each, for blasting them and the paperback book they were reading with their water guns.  The kids have only had 5 Otter Pops a day, we have barely made a dent in the box of 100 my parents bought and put in the freezer.  The kids didn’t wake up any earlier than 5:30 am and remained slightly quiet until 6:15 am…I did have more Starbucks than normal, thanks to my husband for his Starbucks runs!  When my son showed my mom a bruise on his shoulder from playing nation ball he didn’t even question her when she commented, “that looks like a hickey”…close call!
I hope you all had a great spring break!  We enjoyed catching up with our family, as crazy as they all are!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Secretaries Day!

Happy Secretaries Day!  Actually Secretaries Day is next week, but since we have Easter Break we are celebrating the school secretaries this week.  I always want to give them a little something to say, “Thank You” for all they do, but with 3 of them I have to think of money wise gift ideas.
My idea for this year is fun and inexpensive, yet practical!  I bought hand sanitizer gel at the dollar store, doesn’t matter what kind, you will cover it up!  I then bought a bag of jelly beans, some cello bags, ribbon, and used some cardstock and gems I had at home.
1.      Print out a cute saying with a fun font to glue to the front of the bottle.
2.    Glue on some gems, tie on a ribbon, and put in a cello bag.
3.    Surround bottom of bottle with jelly beans.
Now wasn’t that the easiest gift?!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Trader Joes Easy Pasta

Time for an easy pasta dish!  I love to cook and try new recipes.  Sometimes you stumble upon something so good and easy that it becomes one of your staple recipes.  This pasta dish is a family favorite that I make once a week or at least every two weeks.  I love that the ingredients are easy to locate and that it takes about 20 minutes to make.  Even better is the fact that I can morph the leftover pasta into another meal!
I start with whole wheat pasta from my favorite store, Trader Joes (alright, I have many favorite stores, a hazard of loving to shop, but TJ’s is my favorite food store) then I add their marinara sauce and their frozen meatballs (they have turkey and beef; both are tasty and family approved).
Trader Joes Easy Pasta
1 package whole wheat pasta
1 jar marinara
1 bag frozen meatballs
Cook up your pasta the regular way, while boiling pasta, place meatballs in a glass microwavable dish and cook in micro for 4-5 minutes.  When meatballs are done, pour marinara over meatballs, return to micro and cook for 2-3 minutes.  After draining cooked pasta, dish up pasta and sauce/meatballs.  Easy pasta is complete (I usually add a salad from our garden)!
Since I make a whole package of pasta I usually have leftover plain pasta.  I throw that in a container and put it in the fridge for the next day.
 Day two:
 With a large skillet, add some olive oil, the leftover pasta, seasoning (I love 21 season salute from Trader Joes), and some cut up veggies (my first choice is asparagus).  Sauté for 5-10 minutes, turning to coat and prevent burning. Now you have pasta primavera for lunch!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Field Trip

I think that adults should go on field trips!  We think they are just for kids, but we are just as likely to learn and have fun from a field trip of our own.  Since both of my kids were in capable hands until 3pm on Wednesday I was able to indulge in a field trip of my own with my mom.
My mom suggested Sherman Library and Gardens down in Corona del Mar, California.  I have driven by it many times and have always heard amazing things about it, but have never been!  My mom and I both love all things flora (and fauna as well) so I knew we would have fun seeing some amazing plant specimens, learning new facts, and maybe even sharing our knowledge with the docents there.
Sherman Library and Gardens is situated on 2.2 acres of land on the ocean side of Pacific Coast Highway (prime real estate for sure).  It was started in 1966 and today houses wonderful plants, fountains, and an amazing 5 star (in my opinion) restaurant.  It is only $3 to get in and walk around the gardens.  They even have a cell phone tour you can take for free.  We had a lovely time walking through the rose garden, orchid house, and succulent garden.  We even had a great conversation with the plant expert!
My favorite was the “Hot Cocoa” rose in the rose garden (pictured below) and the unusual bumble bee we encountered.  I also loved all the large pots of hydrangeas; they have always been one of my favorite flowers!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Rainy Day Play

Rainy, rainy day.  The kids don’t have school today and we are socked in by drippy, rainy, wet weather…our 3rd day of it.  Time to be creative with how to entertain the kids and their friends that are over.
I could just turn on all the screens in our house: TV, DSi, Leapster, 2nd TV, Wii, but that isn’t good parenting, right?  So, I always keep some toys stored away in the garage for days like today.
My husband doesn’t like keeping extra toys stored in his “perfectly neat, we can always park 2 cars in it” garage, but I insist that we store some compactly for emergency entertainment.  I have a bin of Lincoln Logs, a bin of Playmobil, my old Cabbage Patch kids and their wardrobes, a Barbie plane, and a basket of the all important Playdoh.  As I type this blog entry, I have boys playing Lincoln Logs in one room and little girls playing Playmobil in another room!
When you are ready to get rid of some of your kids toys, try to put some aside in an area that they won’t see, to use for emergency play purposes.  It is surprising what 9 year old boys will play with when they can’t go outside!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Art for Kids

I love to teach art!  It is my favorite volunteer activity I do at school.  I teach art in my son’s class twice a month and once a month in my daughter’s class.  Our school has an art program that is solely taught by the parents.  There are lessons to teach on famous artists, but I like to find my own or make them up!
This is a great blog for finding art projects to teach kids.  They always go with a famous artist and are tried and true (haven’t had one fail yet).
Below are pictures from a lesson I taught last Friday on the artist Paul Klee.  The class drew their own self-portraits with pencil, erased any extra lines they didn’t want, and then traced over the pencil with a Sharpie marker.  After the drawing portion of the project they used squares of watercolor tissue paper (it bleeds when it gets wet and transfers color to whatever it is touching) to cover their portraits and then painted water over the tissue for the final affect.  They removed the tissue paper at the end and after drying, have the project you see below.  They were able to complete this project in an hour!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Partrick's Day 2011!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!  I love to celebrate different holidays, especially the fun decorating part, and this one is no exception!
Each year we are visited by the Leprechaun the night before March 17th.  He runs around our house leaving his little green footprints, gold chocolate coins, various other green candy and a treat or two for my kids.
This year he left a box of Lucky Charms, a cereal my daughter had been asking for, a big treat in our house!  He also left a shamrock hat for my son to wear to school and a headband for my daughter that read “Let your Sham Rock”.
The Leprechaun footprints were an idea that I was given by my daughter’s pre-school teacher a couple of years back.  So fun, inexpensive, and easy.  Take any green paint, put a little on a paper plate, make a fist and put the outside of your fist (not the thumb side) in the paint, put imprint on floor and using your pinky finger paint on 4 or 5 toes!
My kids know that the footprints will disappear magically in 48 hours, long enough to enjoy and show their friends.  The magic part is using the Mr. Clean magic eraser to erase them off of your floor! (All this is hush, hush, so please don’t spoil the secret for kids everywhere)

You should see the wild delight in the eyes of my kids (ok, so my son may be onto it, but he pretends so he can eat the candy) and their friends when they describe what came to our house.  I win the award for “Most Creative Mom of the Day” by other moms and it only took me 10 minutes and about $4 every March 16th!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Girly Centerpieces

Our church is having a Sweet Pea Tea for mothers’ and daughters’ this Saturday!  I was asked to make the centerpieces and had such a fun time coming up with something pink that is in line with the theme.  We will all have tea, treats, and watch the Veggie Tales Sweet Pea Beauty movie.
I bought everything for the centerpieces at The Dollar Tree and 99cent store.  Each centerpiece cost around $3.75 and took me 5 minutes a centerpiece to make!  Such an easy idea for a girl party.  We will give them away at the end of the tea.  I am sure the girls will love taking home their own flower arrangement with a tiara!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Technology

Does technology ever just blow your mind?  I was having tech flashbacks the other day as I handed my Berry to my son and said, “Learn how to use Google maps so you can navigate”.  Wow, right!  I then flashbacked to when I was in elementary school and we had a TV with 4 channels, no remote, and cartoons were only on Saturdays.  Cordless phone, what was that?  All phones were large, clunky and attached to a wall by a cord!
My favorite is the time when our old Mercury wood paneled station wagon (not quite the metallic pea of Family Vacation, but close) broke down in the Stater Bros. parking lot and my mom, sister and I had to listen to Captain and Tennille on the 8 track till dad came.  I know I just severely dated myself by saying “8 track”, some of you youngsters may have thought an 8 track was an urban legend, but no, they were real!
Kids are so spoiled by technology that when we take a picture with our digital cameras they ask, “Can I see the picture?”  Remember when everyone used 35 mm and you had to wait till the whole roll was used, then wait a week for processing to be able to see your pictures at Disneyland?  Now we upload our SD card and play a slide show through FIOS on our TV, all within 5 minutes of taking the pictures!
My kids ask what kind of computer I had when I was a kid…computer, you were lucky if you had a type writer!  Look up computer in my Dad’s 1968 Encyclopedia collection and it shoes a large mechanical box the size of my living room with a very intelligent looking man in a white coat with a pocket protector standing next to it.  Computers didn’t really hit the scene until college for me and even then they were a boring little box with green letters and were only used for writing papers, unless you wanted to play Pong!
“What kind of Video Games did you play?”  The only ones we could, the Pac-Man and Tetris, oh, and don’t forget Frogger.  You had to convince your parents to take you to a pizza parlor to play them; our favorite was The Blue Banjo up in Nevada.  Those were some special nights, pizza and a game or two on Pac-Man!
We have come a long way in 30 years with the technology boom.  My kid story of, “Hey, we had phones connected to the wall, 4 channels with no remote, and you had to wait to get home to call someone isn’t as good as my Dad’s.  I think I will steal his to relay to my kids when they need a “look how good you’ve got it” speech…I had to get up 2 hours before school ride my bike to deliver papers all over town and I made my skateboard out of old roller skate wheels and a piece of wood.  Yep, I will use his, still sounds more hard knocks than mine!
Enjoy your technology today and remind your kids about the covered wagon days of corded phones, no remotes, and 35 mm pics.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Crash My House

Woke up this morning to a very wet outside view which made for a great morning!  No Soccerfest for Colby, cancelled due to overly wet fields.  We didn’t have anywhere we had to head out the door to so I cuddled up on the couch with the cat and turned on HGTV.
The show House Crashers was on.  I don’t know if you have ever seen this show, but a host scours home improvement stores asking people if he can go home with them and help them with home improvement projects.  Most people look at him like he is crazy and walk away…but there is always one family that says, “Ok, come home with us”.  The best part is that he then brings the whole HGTV crew over and they re-do a part of their house…total awesome, right?!
When I turned that on this morning, I quickly pulled both of my kids in and showed them the host.  I then said, “If we are ever in Lowes or Home Depot and you see this guy run quick and tell me so he can come home with us and re-do our kitchen”.  My son was all for it; after I promised he would get to swing the sledge hammer and demolish our kitchen cabinets.  My daughter wasn’t too interested, so we will have to have a refresher course on spotting the host.
I already have my kitchen re-designed (in my head) so it would be very easy for HGTV to do…maybe I need to spend a little more time in those stores in the future, anything is possible, right?!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Beautiful Day

Today reminded me of some old pictures I took back in 2009.  We have had a couple days of rain, but today we had a beautiful break with sun and clouds.  It reminded me of how beautiful Southern California can be with just a touch of water.
The pics below are of a road just a couple of blocks from my house.  It is my favorite to drive down, either to my house, or on my way to run errands in town.  The kids call it “the animal way” since there are 2 pieces of property with petting zoo animals that we feed once in a while.  There is also a beautiful heard of cattle (yes, I think cows are beautiful) across the road from the petting zoo animals. 
Some days I go out of my way to drive down this road, it always makes me smile at the beautiful landscape God has created!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bling Bling

My daughter wants everything totally blinged out!  She believes everything should have glitter and rhinestones.  She doesn’t get this from me, but her Nana likes everything sparkly…it must be genetic!  We went shopping for some new shoes and due to her very narrow feet, anything with sparkle was too wide and she walked right out of.  My daughter was very sad and hung her head as all the other girls in the Target shoe department walked out with sparkle flats that fit.
We finally found a pair with a strap across the top that stayed on her feet.  Oh, NO, there was not one ounce of sparkle on these shoes…so all my art degree skills kicked in and I figured for a couple of bucks I could bling them myself.
I pulled out my Michael’s craft coupon and bought up some rhinestones for $2.50…enough to do a dozen pairs of shoes.  At home I uncovered my hot glue gun and started adding sparkle to her shoes (found out that Professional Welder glue from the home improvement store works better).  It took me less than 5 minutes a pair to add the rhinestones!
As you can see from the picture it worked, she is happy, and they do hold up to kindergarten activities (notice the wood chip in her shoe, tried and true).  Don’t spend a bunch for blinged out stuff when with a couple of dollars you can do it yourself!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happy Valentine's Weekend!

Happy Valentine’s Weekend!  I hope you are all our spreading love to those around you.  I love to celebrate the holidays and decorate for each one.  It is so fun to make handmade decorations and gifts.  I found a design in the February edition of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine for a heart garland craft.  The instructions used scrapbook paper, but I had some extra felt lying around so I decided to use that.  My daughter loves to craft and so I drew the hearts and she cut them out.  We used a little valentine ribbon and wa-la…adorable Valentine decoration we can use for years to come!

Enjoy your weekend, I can’t wait to celebrate with my kids and hubby on Monday…we don’t have school, Thank you President Lincoln!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Batch Cooking

I love to cook!  Not cook like Julia Child or Martha Stewart, I mean who has 10 hours to make a cake. I love to cook in large quantities and really accomplish a bunch of meals in one day.  Some people call it Batch Cooking, others call it Freezer Meals…either way, it is cooking that I love to do.
I may not be able to balance a check book, my husband does that, actually it was part of our marriage agreement.  I said, “Will you balance my check book for the rest of my life?” he said, “No, I will balance it for the rest of MY life” I said, “I do” and the rest is history.  I can’t balance a check book, but I can make 10 dinners in one morning!  I feel a great sense of accomplishment when this is done and I can look in my freezer with a big beautiful smile and a sigh at the glorious packed shelves holding casserole dishes and Ziploc Freezer bags filled with meals!
I will share a recipe that I made today.  It is a family recipe from my mom-in-law.  She is a great cook and always shares recipes with me.  This is great to make because it is easy and you can make 1 or 5 very easily.  When I make it I always make at least 2, one for dinner and one to freeze.
Chicken Enchilada Casserole
2 cups chopped cooked chicken (whatever you have around works)
12 corn tortillas
1 can green chilies diced
1 can cream of chicken soup
½ can milk
Shredded Mexican style cheese
In a large saucepan mix the soup, milk, chilies, and chicken together over medium heat.  Tear the tortillas into pieces and mix into the soup mixture until well blended.  Layer in a 9x9 pan: tortilla mixture, shredded cheese, tortilla mixture, shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes uncovered.
This is also a great recipe to make with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Baby Shower

My mom, sis, and I gave a baby shower for our friend Jess today.  It was so much fun!  There is nothing like a day for the ladies and little girls to have lunch and celebrate the coming of a new baby.
Since Jess and her husband want to be surprised at the birth, I decided to theme the shower around the mom to be.  She likes flowers, purples, and chocolates.  I made the invitations first, using Brittish Designs digital kit, Itty Bitty. 


Then I based the flower arrangements and favors (a cello bag with different chocolates in it) around the colors of the invitation. Budget tip, buy your glass vases for arrangements at a thrift store, you will even pay less than the dollar stores.  At the end of the shower I send the arrangements home with the mom to be and her relatives.  It was 76 and sunny, we all had lunch outside!



My Mom found these adorable cupcakes at a local bakery, French's Pastry.

It was a fun and fabulous day!