Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DIY Garland Fun!

Hello readers! What a day we have had in the crafting universe yesterday. I am in the process of planning a book exchange party! This week, I will post about the fun things the kids and I have been able to create using simple pages from a book! This truly killed me to do to a book but in the end I didn't feel as bad when I found this tattered book that was already falling apart. 
Our Library has a Used Book store where they sell their discarded books, when they have some that are too damaged, those books go into a crate that is all just given away. I happened to come across this beauty in that crate and realized that it would be perfect to begin making the decor for our Book Exchange Party.

These next jobs are absolutely perfect for the Littles. We snagged our basket of hole punches and set up on the couch of the living room in a chain! Roman pulled the pages out of the book, Gabriel and Autumn took turns punching them with different punches and Mommy did the sewing.
Everyone had their jobs and we worked while chattering on about the day. It was a nice and casual way to spend the evening and the best part is, that it turned out into something totally awesome that they can be proud to say they made!

The round ones were going to be our Garland. We plan on making loads more of these in order to decorate the 'book room'. This garland is so easy to make and it goes quickly when you are having fun! A needle and thread is all you need to get it going. The length of the thread doesn't matter because you can just stitch multiple ones together in order to make it longer. 
A simple stitch just goes right into each  circle linking one to the other as you thread it through and pull it down the length of thread.
You can leave them few and far between or group them together closely as I have in the top photo where the garland rests on my fireplace mantle for now.

The other punched pages will become confetti and table scatter to just place wherever we feel, this is such an easy job to get children involved!

As the week progresses, I will share the other activities I have for us to make together and all from using 1 free book!!! We will be making a table runner, popcorn bags, mini book decorations and so much more. Have you ever hosted a book exchange party? I plan on sharing all the steps leading up to my party and then the actual party as well. This will be a fiesta for both children and adults to come, enjoy and exchange. We will have word games and appetizers.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Wonderful Weekend!

How was everyone this past weekend? We had an absolute blast with a birthday party for the oldest kids and evenings with friends. This was a weekend that was full of freezing rain and dangerously slippery roads but it was cozy and so much fun that we didn't want it to end.

We have been planning for a close-to-home Spring Break trip. Off we will head to Springfield, as my daughter is all about Lincoln right now for some odd reason. We will spend a full day there and then head to St. Louis afterwards. Once in St. Louis we will spend a few days at the Arch, Zoo & Museums. It is a fun, laid back trip that will have us enjoying one another's company and learning as well!

It's time to start thinking of Valentine's! Here is a heart template for you to get creative with! We are sending out envelopes full of 'conversation hearts' that tell the receiver 14 things we love about them! <3 p="">
Here is one of our envelopes! What are you doing this week???
This week, Autumn's teacher has asked for my play dough recipe in order to make some for their FUN DAY. I decided to hand it to her on something cute instead of just writing it down on notebook paper and tearing it out! I thought it came out so cute that I had to give you all the blank cards!


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Friday, January 25, 2013

Lost Art

Do you have a problem with storing artwork? That little part of you that feels bad when tiny drawings are tossed out? You don't want to become a hoarder but at the same time, you need to let some go, right? Well I have a system...(of course I do!). I have these BIG YEAR BINDERS where all the school work goes and larger art pieces and then they get labeled with the current school photo the year. At the end of the year, I file them into a large rubbermaid bin (Future post coming on this one). For the really neat and colorful pieces that evoke emotion or make me smile, I put those on our Gallery Wall (Future post coming on this one too!!!). Then there are those tiny little photos or just random ones done on the back of a menu at a restaurant or on a sheet of notebook paper. They would easily get tossed but they are art none-the-less!
I have a daily planner, my personal 'bible' of sorts. It goes with me everywhere and has everything tucked into it. It's stuffed with appointments, business cards, tickets, money...you name it! Without it, I would be lost. When the year is over, I keep them in my Rubbbermaid of memories for the year because it is fun to look back at. What is that I look back at exactly??? Well lost art of course!

Instead of throwing these little bits and pieces out, I tape them into old pages of my planner! This is yesterdays page, because I found these little guys in a notebook and in a pad of construction paper. Whenever I see tiny little pieces of drawings or something catches my eye in the van that has been curled up, I cut it out and tape it in. They are memories that would be tossed, it's awesome to see their faces light up when they see their old works treasured in a book that I always keep on me. If that planner page had something recurring or a note on it, I just copy it over to the next day or put it on a post it that can just stick on.

The smallest of photos on the back of a receipt is something that I want to treasure forever. The kids and I always get a kick of seeing who did what and how long ago. It's so fun to try and guess and just remember days past.

If a paper gets torn in the backpack or too curled up for the binders, we cut out the important parts and I tape it in. There is such a collage of items on these pages that it's a cheaply done scrapbook that still captures moments in our lives. When they make confetti with scissors, I even keep some of those and tape them in. It gives my past days some punch <3 p="">
How do you store your art? The bits and pieces? 

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Thursday, January 24, 2013


We love words around here, they just seem to make everything better when you get over the lazy words and search for ones with deeper meaning. Not just Good but Marvelous! Not just Great but Stupendous! One year, I got all 3 of my children a dictionary from the TARGET Dollar Spot, I wanted them to be portable for the kids and a pack of highlighters. Each and every time they ask me what a word means or how to spell something, I send them to their dictionaries. When they look up the word, they must also learn how to spell it correctly, once we have gotten that far they highlight the word. I want them to use these dictionaries daily and then eventually take them off to college; colorful and marked up, full of all the words they know and can spell. This is my gift to them, the gift of knowledge...the gift of words...


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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Science Fun for Little Ones

Those of you that have been following me for quite awhile, know that my children LOVE Science! They enjoy learning, experimenting and having fun. My oldest was the first to ask for a Science Lab and husband and I had a BLAST putting it together for her! We have shared that one with you HERE. After many projects and fun times together, my middle son asked for a Lab of his own and it was time to start thinking of what we could do for him. His room is smaller and he has other interests as well that he wanted to keep in the room, so we had to downscale his lab but we knew it could be done! Here are the makings of LAB2. 

We started with storage for the larger molds and bottles of water, vinegar etc along with storage for his rags to keep the station clean. This simple crate was from a charity shop and nestled perfectly under a side table we purchased at IKEA. Now that we had the base and storage, it was time for the fun stuff!

A simple white board allows him to document his experiments and findings and the hooks hold tape for labeling, goggles for safety and tubing with funnels for anything he may come up with.

An inexpensive shelf holds his Science basics that allow all of his projects to come to life. A quick search of your laundry room and kitchen will stock even the most basic of labs.

A microscope and Science Starter Kit from Toys R Us helped give him some actual Science things to use and then we added the Periodic Table from our local teacher store. It was so simple to pull together and it has offered so much fun and excitement daily for our children! When I go to tidy up rooms in the morning, I always find a new experiment that they have started!

There is always so much more to add but for now they love it, we love it and there are things being created in both LAB1 & LAB2 every day!

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Thinking about school...

I came across this quote the other day and it hit so close to home. My children go to a private school, and we have been sending children there for 3 years now. We fell in love with the school at the beginning and continued to love what they were doing. They have an excellent curriculum and a dedicated teaching staff, which is what has always bound us to them. Recently though, our feelings have  been changing and I keep wondering to myself; if I am so upset with a school THAT I AM PAYING THROUGH THE NOSE FOR, then why do I continue to do it?
I don't doubt the excellent academic available at this school but this year they have felt the need to begin accepting children that ARE NOT ready for a school environment. On top of doing this, they have also allowed them in class with Kindergarten and First Grade (combined class) with one teacher and no assistant. These children are as young as 3 and NOT called Preschoolers, from the official standpoint of the school, they DO NOT have a preschool. This is a GREAT opportunity for children with the WILL and DESIRE to learn, children that WANT to learn and are able to sit still. Instead the classroom is full of children that get up out of their seats throughout the day, some even leaving the classroom!!! There are children that cry all day, to the point of screaming, where it disrupts the rest of the class and then there are the children that are not even potty trained. Are you catching my drift here? 

My frustration is NOT geared towards these children AT ALL, they are just not ready for school. These children are too young to be in such a structured environment and should in fact be in a play filled preschool. This teacher has been pitched too much with all these different levels of learning and it's causing the children to fall behind from where they were. My youngest is in the class right now and is a full quarter behind of where my older 2 were when they were in the same class. This is the first year that there have been so many unruly children in the same room as them and it's a new teacher. When my children come home and tell me about their day and how unhappy they are, I wonder why I continue to pay for something that I am not happy with. That sounds so ridiculous and yet I don't know what to do?! What do you think?

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Giant Bubbles!

These giant bubble wands have us ready for Spring! We took our warped butterfly nets (Spring Target Dollar Spot) and cut off the netting from each of them. Using a large plate filled with bubble solution, we were able to use what was left of the butterfly catcher as a wand!!! 

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Healthier = Happier?

Update 6/10/13
I am still working on this and it is a very slow process. When I don't see results I tend to get frustrated and then neglect my eating. It's horrible and even though I know it, I make excuses in my head. I have not been going to the gym nearly as much as I should and that is due to a HUGE change in our schedules. I am hoping to come up with a new idea on how this can work, but right now have to depend on healthy eating to get me in the right direction. Here is my Southwestern Pico De Gallo that I love to snack on with cucumber slices instead of chips for a healthy take on chips and salsa! Herbs and Peppers are from my garden and I can't wait until the tomatoes are too! RECIPE HERE!
Updated 6/7/13
My drinking fuel for hot Summer Days? Mint Green Tea, Iced of course!!
1. Boil 4 cups of water in a pan
2. After water is boiling, turn off and add 20 fresh mint leaves and 1 bag of green tea if desired.
3. Let steep for 6 minutes.
4. Remove leaves and Bag
5. Serve over ice!

Update 6/1/13
Something tells me that I should start putting the newer posts up here so that people that come back daily don't have to scroll all the way down. Would that look weird to the new people clicking here though?? I don't have the time or the strength to make another blog for this! LOL! It's hard enough to just get my meals photographed...Let me know what you think in the comments :)
I know, I know...every year, EVERY ONE is determined to get healthy but this isn't new to me! I've been going for quite a while now and am just now deciding to share it in 1 blog posting. I will continue to add to this post only so that it doesn't take up a post daily on my blog. I will add what I have had for Breakfast (no matter what it is!) and Lunch. I am working on photographing dinner, the problem is that I make it in a rush hug and kiss my husband as he walks in the door and leave for Zumba. I very rarely eat it and if I do I am doing the worst thing possible and eating in a rush so that I have at least an hour of no food in my system before Zumba. I am trying to change that come Monday, so that I am not eating at all after Zumba unless it is a piece of fruit. You can always find THIS POST in the tabs above by clicking Healthier = Happier?
Eating healthy is HUGE for me, because we are convenience eaters and that is 100% what helped me put on the weight that I have. No fear though, I have lost quite a bit of weight already but I just have more to go. The main idea though is to eat healthier. You will notice that my calorie count per day is low but that is because I am short. I am only 4 foot 10 and am taking in 900-1000 calories a day. This is on advice from my nutritionist so I am not being crazy or extremist. I am at the moment only working out 4 days a week with ZUMBA for 1 hour each of those day. On Monday I plan on adding on 3 days of walking for at least 30 minutes on those day so I am active the full 7 days a week. This idea was proposed to me by a friend. I have also added wrist weights to my walking routine.
Monday: ZUMBA 6pm
Tuesday: ZUMBA 6pm
Wednesday: Zumba 6pm
Thursday: Zumba 6pm
Friday: Walking 30 minutes
Saturday: Walking 30 minutes
Sunday: Walking 30 minutes
With my Zumba classes, I have a gym membership and I plan on looking into and testing other classes as well as Zumba. My goal is to try 1 new class a week.

Along with eating healthy I take 4 vitamins (I just ran out of 1 so I will have to add in a photo tomorrow after I buy it later today!)
1. Vitamin B12 - I take it for energy & to maintain my healthy nervous system
2. Women's 1 A Day - For the other vitamins!
3. Green Tea -Helps in case I don't drink my 6 cups of tea a day & aids in weightloss
4. Biotin - Healthy Hair (shhhh, I am losing hair and can't figure out why?!!)

I am NOT a breakfast person, so it's a constant struggle to eat something in the morning. I force myself because if I don't eat anything I want to inhale everything for lunch. This also aids in settling my stomach with the vitamins. I also drink 8 cups of water a day and try for 6 cups of tea.
 Strawberries, Green Tea & Water = 40 calories
Salad with NO DRESSING EVER! I only use salt & pepper or Lime Juice which is my favorite!
1 small tortilla with half a slice of cheese quesadilla
1/4 of a grapefruit
190 calories 
My go-to snack is always fruit and yogurt because I am CONSTANTLY craving something sweet. Instead of ruining a day of healthy eating, I keep this stuff in my fridge ready to eat. I add cinnamon to my yogurt and it helps so much! Using small containers for dips/sauces keeps portions in control.
95 calories

This was a day when I didn't eat any breakfast. I made myself a small bite to eat and played with it, so of course come lunch I was famished.
Wrap 150 (75 each roll)
Boiled Egg 57
Veggie Dip 40 (20 when used as a spread)
Oranges 20

 This veggie dip is FANTASTIC! I use it as a sandwich spread as well!!
1 wedge of laughing cow (tomato and sun dried tomato) -35 calories
2 slices of seedless cucumber diced -3calories
1/4 of a small yellow sweet pepper 2 calories
Green Tea, 1/4 of a grapefruit and 2 spoonfuls of applesauce. This is the breakfast I played with. I probably ate half a spoonful of the applesauce and drank all the tea. I just wasn't feeling it at all.
40 calories 

Breakfast today is a fruit salad that I barely ate half of. I did have 2 bottles of water and am in the process of having my tea right now. Whatever I don't eat for breakfast I just save in the fridge to munch on throughout the day.
1/2 of a small orange = 22 calories
1/2 of a small pear = 40 (OUCH!)
1 cup of strawberries = 53 (YIKES!)
115 calories
Friday Lunch is fairly simple, since I needed to take it on the road. 
6 baby carrots = 24 calories
1 laughing cow wedge = 20 calories (didn't finish it)
Salad = 13 calories
2 wedges of lime = 5 calories
62 calorie lunch with 2 bottles of water!
I was just asked about my Veggie Dip! This is absolutely delightful and so low in calorie it's not even funny! This recipe fills a small mason jar and lasts me all week long and that's with my kids and husband sharing too!!
2 Wedges of Laughing Cow Cheese = 70 calories
Half a cucumber =20 calories
3 Mini sweet Peppers = 18 calories

Dice up the veggies depending on how chunky you want your dip and then just use a fork to mix it all together, store in an airtight container in the fridge!

This ENTIRE JAR is 108 calories!! The idea is to chunk it up with the veggies so you don't need so much of the Laughing Cow! I use this stuff on everything. As a sandwich spread, with crackers, veggies and even over cold pasta to make a pasta salad!!!
Dinner was light yesterday as I had no breakfast and a sandwich for lunch but I was in a hurry to volunteer at Bingo. I packed an assortment of fruits and my yogurt dip. Simply but so delish!
Soup and Salad for dinner last night. This was very filling, even though I thought for sure I would be starving afterwards! I didn't even have seconds!! I used lime on my salad and just a hint cilantro in my soup. The veggie soup was homemade.
Soup 150 calories
Salad 15 calories
165 Calories
I have a secret to share...I HATED salads,as in absolutely HATED them. What changed my mind? Cilantro and Sweet Peppers. These 2 items combined gave my salads such a hint of delish flavor that I wanted more and more, without even using any dressing. It was awesome! The cilantro is my secret to everything and with hardly any calories (4 in 1 cup!!!) it's the perfect thing to add. As weird as it sounds, I am going to start keeping a small tupperware of it in my purse in case I get caught eating out, I can order a salad and add it in!

Breakfast/Lunch is super huge today, since I am eating 2 meals in one. I have a lot of errands to run today and I want to be nice and full instead of stopping for a 'quick bite' or even worse, just starving until I get home and then gorging myself. Those are the awful patterns I have gotten myself used to.
2 Egg & Ham Burritos = 278 I should have just eaten 1 but they were so good! LOL!
1 container of strawberries & grapes = 45 (grapes are high in calories but I needed the sweetness!)
Total of 323 Calories.
This leaves me with only  577 calories for dinner but I am making a roast, so I will eat my salad first and skip the potatoes leaving just a small piece of roast and carrots!
There it is. The registration for this years Chicago Marathon. I have so much training to do, in order to make a decent dent in my time from the last time I ran. I am eating better but am I doing all I can to be in that kind of shape? I have to make a decision quickly and I am already dragging my feet, which is not a good sign. I get so discouraged and with no one to train with nearby it is hard. I don't want to make excuses and want to be able to do this but I just get so darn scared all over again. Last time I had my mom to do it with. This time it would be just me...relying on me...

No breakfast today (I know, I know!) but I was just feeling so blaaah. I had a handful of cucumbers (5 calories) 2 tablespoons of humus (8 calories) and half a pita with thinly sliced ham inside of it. (158) for a total of  171 calories. Not bad but I also feel really funny so who knows what the day will bring. 
A way that I keep eating healthy on a daily basis is to keep all fresh foods quick at hand. They have to be washed, cut and ready to go. This makes it FAST FOOD! The MINUTE I walk in the door with groceries, I wash, cut and store all my produce with this awesome produce wash:
In a spray bottle mix together:
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
2 Tablespoons of baking soda
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

Spray fresh produce generously in the sink.
Let it set in for 5 minutes then rinse off!!

Soooo simple and yet effective!

Breakfast today is 1 large orange (86 calories) and I am in the process of making some green tea for the road. I'm keeping it light because I am just not feeling food right now but I have to eat something while I am running errands. I will bring a thermos of boiling water to keep refreshing the tea and also packing up a veggie lunch to eat on the road.
Gahh!! Sorry it has been so long since the latest update. I was having so many of the same meals that the photos began looking the same! LOL! I have been keeping it up though and am actually down 8 pounds since I began. It's not much, but it is something. 2 boiled eggs & a cup of berries 220 calories. 

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