Search This Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! This year, rather than an over-arching list for the whole year, I'm attempting to accomplish something specific each month. Some are bigger projects that need to get done. Some are specific to events. Some will probably be changed before the year is out.

January: Make one of these note card journal calendars. And then use it. I have note cards, so if I don't get to making it right away, I can at least start journaling.

February: Deep clean my refrigerator. It's not a glamorous goal, but it needs to be done.

March: Make a spring/Easter decorative hanger for our door. Or maybe finish the one I started last year...

April: Make a reusable Swiffer duster refill (or two, since I have two dusters).

May: Make at least 2 "busy bag" learning activities for Jonah.

June: Get everything packed up, purged, and organized for our move. It's not a big move. Just back into town. But it is still moving, and all the fun that goes with it.

July: Get our new place set up, and routines reestablished. A new place, plus the busy-ness of moving, will throw everything off for awhile.

August: Take $10 and go to the dollar store and/or thrift store and find something to take from trash to treasure in a crafty way.

September: Bake myself a pretty birthday cake (or cupcakes, or whatever I'm in the mood for).

October: Begin planning Christmas gifts for the year. This last year went pretty well, because I planned early, but I still ended up working on quite a few projects well into December. This year I want to figure everything out and set up a schedule so I can spread the projects out more, and enjoy more free time (and baking!) in December.

November: Prepare an Advent calendar with fun activities for each day in December. I wanted to do this last year, but didn't end up having time.

December: Create at least 3 homemade Christmas decorations, including at least 1 with the kiddos. Projects are fun!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Easy Magnets: A Naptime Project

Naptime projects are quick, easy projects that can be done in less than an hour while the little one(s) sleep.

We got two magnetic nativities for Christmas this year, both of which are really cool. The pieces punched out of a big magnet sheet, and I noticed that there were some pretty large empty magnet spaces, so I saved the punched out sheets.

I added lots of stickers wherever they fit. They're mostly state stickers, which have been sitting in my sticker collection for a long time, and then some Disney stickers I keep getting in random mailers.

The longest part was cutting them out, but even that didn't take very long.

And now we have a whole bunch of new magnets for Jonah to play with. I don't care if they get a little beat up, because they were free, and this means my nicer magnets might actually stay on the fridge! And, as a bonus, I still have some bits of the magnet sheets left if we get some more cool stickers!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

What I'm Reading...

Merry Christmas! Here are just a few posts to read before you celebrate today...

Christmas Treat Round-Up. This one is more to keep on file for next year - a list of recipes for all sorts of gifts in a jar. (Home Ec 101)
The Secret to Breaking Bad Habits. I have a few that I intend to break. (Life Your Way)

Last Minute Ways to Reduce Waste This Christmas. A few helpful reminders... (Life Your Way)

May you all have a blessed Christmas, and I'll be back to posting next week!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Crafty Link-Up: Christmas Ornaments

Christmas is this week! You probably already have your tree decorated, but here are some fun ornaments you can make to add to your collection.

These delicate little ornaments are made of paper. You can find the directions and templates here.

I've seen so many adorable felt ornaments, like these Christmas lights.

Here's a fun one: make a melting snowman ornament from hot glue.

If you have any old lightbulbs, give them new life by making these Cat in the Hat ornaments.

And finally, a simple wooden shape nativity. I almost made this one for my mom this year, because she loves nativities.

For more Christmas ornament ideas, check out my board on Pinterest!

I hope that as you celebrate this Christmas, you remember the Reason for the Season. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When in Doubt, Give Food!

One of the best Christmas gifts, in my opinion, is a special treat, or something that makes life easier, and even better if it doesn't take up much space! These Peanut Butter Brownie Mixes in a Jar are all of those.

For a few of our church staff, I put together little treat baskets with soup mix and the peanut butter brownie mix. They also got some Reindeer Food, a.k.a. Puppy Chow with Christmas M&Ms. I had planned to make the bottles a little prettier with some nice printable labels, but our printer ran out of ink, and I ran out of time, so I left them as is. It's okay to not be perfect.

The finished product. I think they'll really enjoy these.

And, for another present, we put together an "Everything but the Ice Cream" sundae box. Ours included waffle bowls, sprinkles, fudge sauce, M&Ms, chocolate chips, marshmallows, and candy canes. Yummy!

I was able to reuse some baby food jars for the toppings, as well as the Frappuccino bottles for the puppy chow. I hope you have been enjoying all these handmade Christmas presents! I'm done for this year, and I hope you're close too!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Easy Christmas Card Display

I knew I wanted to come up with some sort of easy way to display our Christmas cards this year. Since we're obviously not going to use the air conditioner at this time of year, I taped some ribbons to the inside of the cover.

We've been getting more cards (which I love!), so I added yarn above the cover, and above one of our windows.

We're already almost out of room there too, so I guess I'll just have to keep expanding it. I don't mind! I love Christmas cards!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What I'm Reading...

Wrapping Paper Alternatives. I finally ran out of wrapping paper in the middle of present wrapping last weekend. You see, I had nicely wrapped 6 gift boxes for the Christmas for Kids devotions, and used up most of my wrapping paper in the process. I planned on being able to wrap some of my presents in those boxes, but brought them home afterwards to find that (irony!) none of my presents were the right size for those boxes. (The Simple Dollar)

When an Adult Took Standardized Tests Forced on Kids. I don't like that school has become more and more about preparing kids for tests. But I still don't want to homeschool. So let's fix this before my kids get to school age! (Washington Post)

Congrats, Internet, For Making Me Never Want to Take My Baby on a Plane. "Act sorrier. I need to act really sorry that I'm even on the plane, then also sorry I chose to have a kid, sorrier even that I don't live closer to where I've chosen to go, and sorry that I need to take these little monsters with me." (Jezebel)

Of Santa and Jesus
. We're not doing Santa in our household. But I kind of like the idea of teaching my kids the story of Saint Nicholas. (A Deeper Story)

Fast Food, Convenience, and Money
. We definitely pay for the convenience. I could make a better burger or taco. I just don't want to sometimes... (The Simple Dollar)

When Parenting Means Steering Into the Skid
. Sometimes kids go through difficult phases, and parenting is more difficult. (Simple Mom)

How My Family Rocks Our No-Cash Holiday Season. We don't go as far as no-cash, but spending less, and doing things that might require more of a time investment instead is okay by me. (Offbeat Mama)

And finally, a few posts about toys:

Friday, December 16, 2011

I Made Bread! and an Update on the New Year's Resolutions

I love homemade bread, but I had never actually made any myself. Until now. The loaf got a little smushed coming out of the pan, but it turned out awesome otherwise. I used this recipe.

And now, for the rest of the resolutions...You can see the original list here, and the updates here and here. And since then, I've completed a few more that I don't think I ever posted an update about:

Other Food:
I obviously didn't finish all of them, but that's okay. I think for next year, I will have a smaller list, or maybe a goal for each month. Stay tuned...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Handmade Christmas: Grandkids Board

I bet you can't guess who these are for! I saw a picture of these on Pinterest, and I thought they would be perfect presents for all the grandparents in our life. I used the same lettering technique that I used for the Birthday Board, and hot glued some clothespins to the bottom to hold pictures. Then I nailed picture hangers to the back.

This was a really easy project - it just took lots of room on my dining room table while the paint was drying. I know they will all appreciate having another place to display their grandkids.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Crafty Link-Up: Gifts in a Jar

We're getting closer to Christmas! If you still have some presents to knock off your list, what about some gifts in a jar? These food items are pretty and delicious!

For instance, these truffle hot chocolate balls that melt into milk and make hot chocolate sound absolutely amazing!

Or the more traditional hot cocoa in cone shape. Gifts in a jar don't have to actually be in a jar, of course.

How about some easy yummy S'mores Bars? They're from Paula Deen, so you know they're going to be good.

I'm actually planning on making myself this Mocha Cocoa mix.

I've also found some smart and fun ways to wrap these gifts, besides the typical jar. For instance: Pringles cans for cookies.

For more gifts in a jar, as well as more wrapping tips, check out my board!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Handmade Christmas: Fleece Scarf

One of our Christmas exchange relatives this year is a Steelers fan. So I decided to make her a Steelers themed fleece scarf. This is actually relatively simple. Stitch a straight(ish) line down the center. Then cut strips like you would for a fleece blanket. You can find the tutorial here, but it really is that simple.

This took me a few hours, because I had to hand-stitch the line down the center, but if you have a sewing machine, it will only take a few minutes to sew that, and a few more to cut the strips. Another gift that is customizable! Love those!

I'm planning to make a Cars one for Jonah with the leftover fleece from his blanket. He's excited...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

The next few weeks are going to be pretty busy, so I went ahead and went grocery shopping and menu planned for the rest of the month, except for a few days right around Christmas when we will be doing all sorts of family stuff.

Lunches (keeping these simple):
  • PB&J x5
  • Grilled Cheese x2
  • Roasted Squash
  • Egg Salad x2
  • Macaroni & Cheese x2
  • Turkey/Ham Sandwiches x4

Along with our usual sides of fruit, crackers, yogurt, etc.


Monday: Stir Fry
Tuesday: Chicken Noodle Casserole (pushed back from last week because we ended up going out with friends who were in town)
Wednesday/Thursday: Slow Cooker Tuscan Bean and Ham Soup
Friday: Eggs, Toast, Hashbrowns
Saturday/Sunday: Veggie Pot Pie

Monday/Tuesday: Split Pea and Ham Soup
Wednesday: Homemade Pizza (making my own crust again since it was such a success last time!)
Thursday: Turkey Quesadillas
Friday/Saturday: Crockpot White Bean & Sausage Stew

Sunday-Wednesday: All sorts of family things
Thursday: Sausage Mushroom Quiche
Friday/Saturday: Chicken Alfredo Lasagna (using up the last of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey)

And then it's the New Year! Jesse and I have decided that we're going to go vegetarian next year. The whole year. We've done vegetarian months before, but this is a whole new ball game. Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What I'm Reading...

Your "Someday" List Can Change Your Life. I don't have a "someday" list (or a bucket list), but I do have a few things I'd like to do at some point. (The Simple Dollar)

The Messy Table. We inherited our dining room table from my parents, and it's one of my favorite pieces of furniture, even though it's a bit big for our current apartment. It has lots of memories, and it's definitely built to last. (Simple Mom)
Here's Something You Can Pull Out the Next Time Someone Says You're Not Parenting the Way "People Used To"
. Times have changed. (Offbeat Mama)

Get Started with Apartment Composting
. Jesse is more excited about this than I am. But I am looking for ways to reduce waste in our household, especially since we don't have recycling available to us. (Offbeat Home)

15 Ways to Reuse Plastic Grocery Bags
. Every so often we specifically take a little break from using our reusable totes to get more little plastic bags for our bathroom (read: dirty diapers/wipes) trash can. (Money Saving Mom)

Say No to Scattered and Unfocused Organizing. One reason I make a list of "house projects" on our big whiteboard, so I can focus on one thing that needs to be done. (I'm an Organizing Junkie)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Handmade Christmas: Bubble Magnets

These bubble magnets are one of my favorite gifts to make and give, because they're easy and you can customize them to the recipient. You can see the tutorial here.

I made two sets this year for part of our Christmas exchange. We have some on our fridge at home as well. Please ignore the uckiness of my cookie sheet - it needs a good cleaning.

Easy and unique! That's a good Christmas present. And as long as you have magazine pictures/patterns saved (I just tear them out as I read magazines and put them in an envelope with my crafts), this is definitely doable as a naptime project.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Crafty Link-Up: Trees

If you haven't yet, it's probably time to get out the Christmas tree! We haven't yet, because Matthew at 8 months already pulls everything down, and I'm still debating whether or not we should even put it up this year.

Maybe we should do one of these felt trees instead, and both he and his brother can enjoy it.

This Tinker Toy tree makes me smile, because we used to play with these, and I actually still have the set stowed in the closet for when my kids are a little bigger.

This clothespin and lollipop tree is adorable, but it would be destroyed in our house (or any house with kids).

These wire trees look so simple to make, and very pretty!

And it's still not too late to start an Advent calendar! I mean, you are late, but you can still do one, especially an easy one like these construction paper trees.

For lots (and I mean lots!) more Christmas ideas, check out my Christmas board on Pinterest!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Birthday And Anniversary Board Part 2

It's finally done! You can see part 1 of this project here. I ran into a few more mishaps before I finally finished this project.

I tried a white paint pen to write the dates on the buttons, but it wasn't very white, and the edges of the letters and numbers got all runny. It looked pretty terrible. I moved on to black and silver Sharpies. When in doubt, go with Sharpies. That worked.

And then I spilled a cup of water all over my neatly-stacked-in-order buttons. And they started to curl every which way. So they dried for a few days under some heavy books. Only one broke, which is not too bad.

Most of the inspiration pictures I've seen for this project use jump rings to attach all the buttons together. That would take FOR-EV-ER. At least for me. And it would involve making tiny holes in the buttons. No drilling during sleepy time! So I got out my handy glue gun and ribbon went to work.

Once that was all done, I took it out into the hallway of our apartment building to hammer the picture hangers onto the back. No hammering during sleepy time! Very important.

Once the final button dries, I'll glue that on. At some point when both kiddos are awake, I'll be able to hang this on the wall. No hammering during naps! Still very important.

The reason I did this project now is because I was working on another project that involved painting and glue guns, but that's for another time...after those certain family members take their mid-December blog-reading break...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What I'm Reading...

Q&A: Buying Yeast in Bulk. I just made homemade pizza crust for the first time this week, and it turned out really well. I have plans to attempt making bread soon(ish), and if that turns out, I see a lot more yeast buying in my future... (Money Saving Mom)

Oops: I've Totally Abandoned My Partner in Favor of My Child. "We were having a sweet moment singing lullabies, and I was smothering Toby with kisses — his cheeks, his forehead, burying my face in his neck. Alex was humming along and waiting patiently for me to put Toby to bed, when suddenly I realized, Oh my goodness, I should plop my baby in his crib and go kiss my husband! It struck me, like a lightbulb moment." Yep. Done that. (Offbeat Mama)

Boiled Omelets. In ziploc bags. Interesting... (not martha)

How to Freeze Cookies for Holiday Baking Do-Aheads. (Life Your Way)

10 Things 90s Kids Will Have to Explain to Their Children
. I was born in the 80s, but I was definitely a 90s kid. (Thought Catalog)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crafty Link-Up: Snowmen

It's hard to believe that it's almost December, and it has snowed ONCE in our lovely little Minnesotan town. Not that I'm complaining...Here are some snowmen to tide you over until the real thing comes around.

I remember making one of these sock snowmen as a craft project in grade school, and my mom still gets it out every year.

Or, if you can't bear to part with a sock (or yours are too full of holes), how about a water bottle snowman?

These simple drawn on snowmen faces make me smile.

If you have (or thrift) an old muffin tin that's not being used, how about painting it with snowmen?

You can use the little plastic containers from quarter toys or nylons to make a snowman ornament or garland, or Advent calendar with a little treat in each one.

And it wouldn't be the holiday season without some yummy cookies! Simple decorated snowmen cookies, or...

...white chocolate covered Nutter Butters. Yum!

And there are plenty more where those came from. Go look at my Christmas board for more wintry fun!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Coffee Creamer Snowman: A Naptime Project

Naptime projects are quick, easy projects that can be done in less than an hour while the little one(s) sleep.

I saw this guy on Pinterest (of course!) the other day, and I just happened to have a nearly empty bottle of creamer. This is a project that can take as little or as much time as you want. It took me about a minute to cut off the label and Sharpie on some features. And then I spent about 30 minutes knitting a little scarf for this guy. But you could just wrap a few strands of yarn around him for about the same effect.

As winter progresses, I expect more of these guys will make an appearance in my house. And then at the end of the season, I'll probably recycle them, but keep any decorative elements in a baggie for next year.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Who's tired of turkey? I am, kind of. We ate some for leftovers, and portioned the rest out to freeze. We'll be using it in place of chicken in some of our upcoming meals, so you can basically assume that chicken means turkey.

Monday: Chicken Alfredo Pizza (we have some alfredo sauce left over from last week's lasagna)
Tuesday/Wednesday: Burritos with Chicken, Black Beans, Rice, Corn, and Black Olives
Thursday: Dollar Dinner at the Beacon (last one of the semester!)
Friday: Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
Saturday: Black Bean Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries
Sunday: Leftover Mashed Potato Soup (from extra Thanksgiving mashed potatoes from the freezer)

Monday: Chicken Noodle Casserole
Tuesday: SW Potato Corn Chowder
Wednesday/Thursday: Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
Friday: Breakfast Sandwiches with eggs like this
Saturday: English Muffin Pizzas
Sunday: Stir Fry

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What I'm Reading...

Saving Pennies or Dollars? Light Bulbs. Jesse and I were discussing switching all of our light bulbs that we haven't already switched to energy-efficient ones, but I was skeptical about how much money that would save and said we should just switch them as they burn out. I was wrong. I haven't told him yet though... (The Simple Dollar)

Becoming a Thankful Mom
. I've been trying this this week, and there have been times it has helped. There have also been moments when it didn't. (Life Your Way)\

Self-Help Advice from a 2-Year-Old
. (Jason Good)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Handmade Christmas: Duck and Goose Ornaments

I made this little duck and goose ornament set for my father-in-law. He is a hunter, and we have enjoyed both duck and goose during visits to his house! These little guys were pretty simple to make, and I finished them both within a day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Handmade Christmas: Mickey Mouse Ornament

Over the next month or so I'll be posting some of the Christmas presents I'm making. I'm going to start out with those for people who I know don't look at this blog, but the rest of you family members should probably take a break from reading until after Christmas once we get to about mid-December. Unless you hate surprises. But I warned you, so it's not my fault...

I made this simple Mickey ornament from some wire and yarn. The wire I had gotten when our JoAnn's was moving and had their big clearance sale. It was pretty easy to twist into a Mickey shape. The yarn is wrapped a little more thickly around the ends of the wire so no one gets poked. Easy peasy!

Crafty Link-Up: Turkeys

In honor of Thanksgiving, here are some turkeys!

Who says you can't have dessert first? There are several variations of this edible turkey.

Or, for a healthier version, choose this fruit and veggie gobbler.

These egg carton turkeys would be easy table decor.

And last, but not least, these cookie turkey pieces look like so much fun!

For more turkeys and fall fun, check out my Thanksgiving board!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Toddler Fleece Blanket

I love making these fleece knot blankets. They are really easy and really warm. Jonah likes his!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What I'm Reading...

Is Mealtime a Battlefield? How to Feed Your Picky Eaters. I love the point to take advantage of what they love now. If Jonah wants to nibble on carrots and apples while I'm cutting them up, even though it's getting close to mealtime, I'm not going to deter that. (The Happiest Mom)

Dave Ramsey Soup
. This is an interesting idea. (Money Saving Mom)

Doing My Own Recycling. Here is a huge collection of things made from other things. There aren't links to any of them right now, but even just looking at the photos can give you lots of ideas. (Proverbs 31 Living)

Confronting the Terror of Being a Stay-at-Home Mom. I didn't work full time or give up a career to be a stay-at-homer, but I do feel some of the same things as in this article. (Offbeat Mama)

3 Ways to Change Your Organizing Habits
. Giving yourself false deadlines for important things is smart. (Life Your Way)

Black Friday Shopping Tips and Hints
. The only store I know for sure I'm going to is CVS. I generally try to stay away from the craziness. But if you are going out, here are some tips. (Creative Couponing)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Birthday and Anniversary Board Part 1

I've been planning to do this birthday board ever since I saw it on Pinterest. I bought the little wooden circles and hearts right away, and then stalled out on the project for awhile. Then I found the big board in the scrap pile at Home Depot for 89 cents. Way cheaper than the $7 or so I would have had to pay at Hobby Lobby!

So I figured I would start. I found this awesome tip for doing letters and numbers so that they look stenciled without a stencil, and bonus! you can choose your font.

The only problem with that little tip, or maybe it's because I don't have a teeny weeny tiny paintbrush, is that it won't work for the specific names/dates on the little buttons. I tried to freehand one, and that will only work if each person's name is 4 letters or less. So Nate and Adam can have birthdays, but Grandma Marilyn? Not so much. So I'll be off to get a paint pen or white Sharpie (do they make those?) in the next few days to finish.

But for now, I think the board itself turned out pretty well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crafty Link-Up: Book Page Projects

One of the more recent crafty trends is to make projects out of old books or just book pages. I think they're pretty neat, but I don't know if I could honestly cut up books.

Christmas is just over a month away (crazy!). Make some cute trees out of book pages.

Or make a wreath for your door. There are lots of options for this, but I like these book page rosettes.
Did you know you could feed a book page through a printer? Me either, but it makes sense. I would probably have to be OCD about it and make sure the topic of the book page matched my picture.
Or, you could just decoupage a bunch onto a canvas and use Sharpies to decorate.

And finally, who doesn't need another way to store all those pens and pencils on the desk? Do it with book pages!

There's more where these came from - click over to see my Book Page Projects board.