Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mod Podge Mania: Graduation Style

Graduation season will soon be upon us, it's creeping up faster than you think! Last year I had the privilege of helping my friend decorate her step daughter's graduation party. Xazmin's second Mod Podge Mania seemed like the perfect time to share with you the projects I made for it. Visit her blog This Is the Year for more projects using Mod Podge.

It was a night time dessert and coffee bar themed party and it was really fun and a sophisticated spin on a graduation party. Margaret had a chocolate fountain with all sorts of fun stuff to dip into it like fresh fruit, pound cake, nutter butters, and rice krispy treats. There was cheesecake and other assorted desserts too. She got coffee to go from Starbucks and had lots of fun flavorings to add; you could have your drink hot or iced.
I made Paige this cute graduation themed box by painting and then decoupaging on paper. I used a chipboard frame to decorate the top lid. For inside I made little journaling cards for guests to write a message to Paige on. She can attach a pictures from the party on the other side of the journaling cards and put them in the box to keep in one place as a memento of the party.This pretty decoupaged frame had felt flowers, buttons, and ribbon "leaves" to decorate it. The directions for the journaling cards was displayed inside during the party. Afterward she can use it for a special picture.
I made her these personalized name letters to display at the party too. I used white rub-ons to add her middle and last name to some of the letters, but they have been removed for posting. I used a variety of ribbon, buttons, and a mini clothes pin to embellish them. I love how her photo is on the letter G. You can find out more on how I make decoupaged letters here.
The last two things I made for the party don't involve using Mod Podge, but I wanted to share the entire party at once. These are the centerpieces I made for the high bar tables Margaret rented for the party. Because it was a coffee bar theme, there are coffee beans inside the vase to hold the sticks in place. Except for the one with her picture on it, I created all the graphics on my computer. I made the patterned paper that says Congratulations Page! that the graduation hat graphic is on, I thought that one came out especially cool. Ideally, I wanted to find a stamp or die cuts to use for this but I didn't see any I liked until a few weeks after the party. Isn't that always how it goes? At least I saved some money, since I used graphics from my MS Home Publishing program.
I shared this in a previous post, for Heidi's scalloped punch craft challenge, but for those of you who haven't seen it. Here it is, it's hard to see the punch because I had to crop way into the one and only picture I have of it. The blue letter backgrounds are actually punched scallop circles.

I had a lot of fun making all the decorations, and using a few different double sided scrapbook papers made it all come together pretty quickly.

Clap Your Hands Book Activities & Itty Bitty Bookworm Giveaway

Katie from A Listmaker's Life and I have been working on a big giveaway for our other blog ABC & 123: A Learning Cooperative. It's with The Itty Bitty Bookworm and we're excited to announce it today, the grand prize is worth $300 and is an entire two year Bailey or Bo curriculum!

We've both been using the April unit with our own children and we've written a review of the program that you can read here. It's also where you go to enter the giveaway! If you're the parent of a child or children ages 18 months through 5 years, love literature, and you're looking for educational ideas to use with your child, you don't want to miss this one.

The Bailey curriculum is for kids 18 - 36 months old, so it's perfect for ER, who will be 3 in July. Each month has two featured books, here are some of the fun things we've been doing during our two week Clap Your Hands unit.

We made character puppets to help us act out parts of the story, I had to use candy sticks as I discovered yet another item we need for our craft kit: popsical sticks!We made paper plate tambourines, using macaroni noodles as our noise makers, because like ususal I didn't check the pantry BEFORE we began☺ It works just as well, and ER has been happily dancing to her newest CD with it.

We acted out parts of the book and took pictures to make our own version of the book. This was a very popular activity! I put the pictures into an inexpensive plastic photo album the kind where you look at two pictures at once and it's kind of like a little book to begin with. A picture is on one side and the text on the other. She loves reading it. The next six pictures are some of our favorite action pictures.
Clap your hands, stomp your feet.Shake your arms, then take a seat.
Rub your tummy, pat your head. (I found out while taking this one that she CANNOT do these two things at once; it was hilarious watching her try to!)Find something yellow, find something red.Reach for the sky, wiggle your toes.
Stick out your tongue, and touch your nose. (My personal favorite☺)
We also used some of the reproducibiles that came with the unit.
We played an animal sound game. You either make the animal sound and she picks the correct animal card or you hold up a card and she makes the animal sound. ER helped me make some of the cards. If she is running the game, and she's getting bossy enough to try every time, she always picks those cards first.
We use these laminated felt board animals along with an animal sounds poem. As you sing each line you put up the corresponding animal. She really likes this activity because she loves singing.
Besides all the literacy based activities, each month there is also a target shape and color. April's are oval and yellow. Making yellow handprint flowers was one of the color activities. I modified mine to make it cuter, but their version is much more practical if you're using the program with a room full of preschoolers.
This wasn't part of the unit, but after all that learning we just had to relax with a snack. A yellow one of course served in a yellow bowl

These are only some of the fun activities we did during a jam packed two weeks working with the book Clap Your Hands. The other book this month was Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear, and we're looking forward to doing those activities too! Be sure to head over to my other blog, ABC & 123 to see our complete review and to sign up for the great giveaway with The Itty Bitty Bookworm! You have one week to win a complete curriculum!
In the meantime, go see all the great Kid Friendly activities being shared on I Blame My Mother. I'm really enjoying seeing what everyone is doing each week and I know you would too!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Some Unwanted Excitement

Do you like, what we've been calling ER's punk rock "eye make up"? It's more colorful in person, they began apprearing Monday, before that it was mainly all puffy.

Last Saturday it rained buckets, and it came down hard. There was one heavy downpour in the afternoon and another one at dusk. So naturally, this was also the perfect time to have a minor crisis at home.

ER was playing happily, Brad was busy in the kitchen, and I was relaxing on the couch. She had just been over to see Brad and was on her way over to me, we have an open floor plan so she didn't have far to go. Somehow, she managed to fall and bang into the edge of our kitchen table. It was a freak accident and happened so quickly.

She immediately began crying hysterically and her eye began to swell up. Brad and I being the rookie parents that we are, were freaked out by that! I ended up calling my neighbor and hightailing it over to her house to get her opinion. Cindy has three girls, including one born the day after ER so she's seen her share of bumps and bruises. On the way across the back path, our other neighbor who's a pediatric nurse saw us and came running. I guess the howling kid with an ice pack on her head, let her know something was up.

Shortly after we got to Cindy's house the community severe weather alarms went off, perfect I thought! We may be on our way to urgent care AND there might be a tornado. The rain was coming down in sheets; we were all in the basement. The bright side was that ER wanted to play with the girls so she must have been feeling a bit better by then, and the general consensus was that it would be bruised but okay.

So we didn't end up having to go out in a torrential downpour - the alerts were for severe thunderstorms, the doctor's office just advised us to ice it and look out for some things during the time before bed. I am so glad we didn't end up spending hours at the hospital! All three of us were already sick; I certainly didn't want to go anywhere all germy when our immune systems were already compromised!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Finally Feeling Better

You may have noticed I haven't been posting as much as usual, even if it might not look like it from my blog archive. I've gone back after the fact and added a few posts in, but I wasn't really on between last Friday through yesterday. We've been sick, sick, sick!

It started last week and got worse as it went on. ER is pretty much over it and better. I am still stuffy, but feeling loads better. For awhile there, I kept going for the most part but felt so tired! It's my hubby Brad who can't seem to completely kick it. He's already in bed, snoring away!

I hope to catch up on visiting everyone this week! I really missed my daily kick of blog reading, my head just hurt too much to sit at the computer. I'm slowly catching up on the housework and errands that fell by the wayside, thanks for the get well wishes!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Cutest Cards - Giveaway Package from Four Crazy Kings

One of my favorite bloggers Kim from 4 Crazy Kings recently celebrated her 100th post by having a giveaway, and I was so thrilled to find out that I was one of her five lucky winners of a package of cards that she designed.

When I got the package in the mail, and I was shocked by how many cute cards she sent! I thought it was going to be one set or a few individually packaged ones, but now I won't have any excuse to buy notecards for a long time!
She sent these adorable gift tags, that say you're special and feature the same girls as in the top photo. All were individually packaged in their own celephane envelope, very professional looking.These really fun cards have a little window cut in the front and a design inside that's semi transparent and glittery. We got two boxes of monogramed flat cards, one set for me and one for ER to use when she sends thank you cards and letters to her grandparents. I love the bright colors Kim used in these gemetric designs.I also got another set of monogramed cards, in one of my favorite color combos, pink and green! Plus a set with the girls along the bottom. ER has already told me those are hers!These are my personal favorites. They also came in their own box, tied with a ribbon and with two of each design. I especially like them because the little girl on them has Asian features. When I was growing up, it was hard to find products that reflected my appearance; I wish I'd have gotten these when I was a little girl.

Thank you Kim, after feeling under the weather for the past few days, it was a ray of sunshine to get this fun package in the mail! Isn't she so talented? I've never known a professional card designer before, and it's so special to have something by her.

I have read her entire blog, yep even the archives! She's also adopted from Korea and an adoptive parent herself, so I find reading about her experience very interesting. She's also very crafty and has all sorts of great ideas and tutorials, her blog is a must read!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spring Has Arrived

Our tree in the back by the deck has blossomed! I just love how pretty it looks with all it's white blooms on it. They may not last for long, but the short glorious period that it's in it's full splendor is something to be enjoy! I just love this time of year, when the world burst out in color once again!

My parents were over today and were a huge help keeping ER occupied. It's hard to keep up with an active two and a half year old when you're not feeling a hundred percent. They did play doh, went on two bike rides, and played outside in the sand table and playhouse. They also took her to Dairy Queen downtown for this year's first trip for ice cream! She had a great day!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Girl Time

Today I went shopping with my friend Melissa, who I've known since sophomore year in high school. It was so nice to take time for lunch and girl time, even if I was still feeling stuffy. We've had this planned for over a month and it's been years since we've gone clothes shopping, so sometimes you have to take a few Sudafed and suck it the name of friendship, of course☺

We enjoyed a yummy lunch at Max & Erma's, anyone ever had the Third Street salad? Delish! I can't say this enough but it is so nice to eat without having to watch a toddler! Before I had ER, I did NOT appreciate being able to eat without having to entertain a squirmy child. Then we shopped our hearts out.

I've changed my mind, all the hours on the elliptical were WORTH it! I think that's the most fun I've had in front of a full length mirror in a LONG time! Things fit better, and I went down a size. Plus I got some great bargains at the GAP, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor Loft, because I always start at the sale racks☺ It was nice to get some cute spring and summer shirts that aren't just t-shirts.

Thanks for such a fun afternoon Melissa! Sara: we missed you and Alison, so we'll have to plan another get together soon!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Green Giveaway for My Followers

Happy Arbor Day! Along the drive into downtown, there are new trees planted in honor Arbor Day, and it was so nice to see my hometown doing it's part to help the environment. I can't wait to get our new tree for the front walk this month.

It's a beautiful sunny day in Michigan with temperatures in the mid 70s. We spent all morning playing with some friends at huge nearby play structure. It was so lovely being outdoors. It made me appreciate our beautiful planet so much! There is just something about being out in nature that makes everything better.

I had quite a big blogger moment a couple of days ago, I hit one hundred followers! To show my appreciation of all the wonderful people I've meet since beginning Katie's Nesting Spot I wanted to do a giveaway. Being that today is Arbor Day and Earth Day was this week, a Green Giveaway seemed called for!

In honor of Earth Day and being green so we can help preserve all the wonder of Mother Nature for many more generations, I'm giving away a reusable Sigg bottle. The one pictured right above to be exact. I thought this one would be a great design that anyone would want to carry, plus the saying on the back is so fun!

Have you heard of Sigg reusable bottles? I first saw them at Whole Foods Market, and I've seen them in more and more in kid's boutiques or places that specialize in green merchandise. My daughter has a cute pink princess kids Sigg that her Papa got her and she loves it. It's so nice to have simple and stylish way to reduce waste and care for the earth. Plus we always know which drink it hers, it stands out among a sea of juice boxes.

Here is a description from their website:

SIGG bottles are innovative, functional, go-anywhere and totally suited for leisure and sporting activities. Small wonder, then, that the market leader is also the winner in consumer tests and sets the competitive pace – just as one would expect of a true original.

The first bottle in the truest sense of the word. SIGG bottles: the original. Often copied but never matched, because behind each bottle is Swiss know-how and pure high-tech.

Bottle Top
Sport bottle top
The three-stage technology: just one turn, pull twice, put it to your mouth – ready to drink. Leak-proof in two positions. Perfect for sport activities.

Bottle engineering
The Bottle body
Extruded from a single piece of pure aluminium, no seams
Highest stability with lowest weight
Rich colors achieved with a solvent-free coating powder
100% recyclable

The internal coating
Guaranteed to be taste-neutral and resistant to fruit acids and isotonic drinks according to an independent testing institute (Nehring, Germany)
Fulfills FDA requirements (Food & Drug Administration USA)
Elastic and unbreakable
Will not peel off, even if dented on the outside

Learn more about Sigg and how using one helps the environment by going to their website, approximate retail value: $20To win:

You MUST be a follower, as hey this is in honor of reaching 100! Thanks for coming along with me! If you aren't one but visit often, now is the time to join up! Anyone who becomes a follower during the time the giveaway is open is also eligible.

Leave me a comment telling me how you try to help the environment. The giveaway will be open until Sunday May 3rd at midnight. I'll draw and announce winner on Monday May 4th, good luck!

Fruit Loop Flower...Never Again

Have your kids ever used dot art painters? My kindergartners used to love them. We'd use them to make dots along the lines of a letter. See what I mean here.

I haven't bought ER any because we've used them in play group and she hasn't gotten the hang of them yet. She smears and doesn't dot, which is fine but doesn't exactly move them to the top of my must buy right now list.

I've been thinking about dot art...this activity was very loosely inspired by them. My original intention was to make a flower dot to dot like picture for her. Then she'd practice using the glue bottle by making dots of glue on top of each one.

If you direct your child to use their glue bottle to make dots that completely cover the dot you drew, you can make this activity harder or easier. Depending on how advanced your child's fine motor skills are, just adjust the size of the dots you make, smaller ones requiring more skills. A fruit loop would be placed on top of the glue, and the end result would be an abstract flower picture. I did this with shapes like circles and squares when I taught special education, and it worked out really well.

Well it seemed like a good idea to do a flower, since it's spring and all...but my perfectionist tendencies came out in full force. I didn't like any of the ones I made. So I decided to find one online, and came up with this.

Of course, it kind of defeated the point since there were no longer dots for her to see and target. In hindsight, I should have made dots on top of the outline...and the activity was probably too hard for her anyway, but you know what they say about hindsight.

The beginning went really well. We looked at flower pictures discussed the stem and the petals. She told me the stem was green and sorted out green fruit loops for it. She also decided to use red for the petals and sorted those out of our big bowl of cereal too. Then it went quickly downhill.

The end result was that Mommy had to do hand-over-hand with the little one, and since she's going through a strong independent streak this caused her to wail, "Noooooooo...I do it myself Mommy! No hold my hand," so it was frustrating all around. Glue went everywhere as she wouldn't let go as I tried to pry the bottle out of her hands. She refused to put the cereal on top after all that.

So we gave up, until twenty minutes later. By this time the glue was dried, and she decided that it was the ONLY thing she has ever wanted to do in her whole entire life. More tantrums followed, until we made glue dots together AGAIN. By this time I was red in the face and super annoyed from struggling with her.

She put on the cereal in a huff and the second she was done...she THREW the two containers of fruit loops in the air. Mommy needed a time out in the bathroom after that, where I counted to ten so I could keep my cool. Then to the sweet sounds of a howling two and a half year old exiled to the second stair from the bottom, I cleaned up fruit loops from all over my kitchen floor.

So how did your day go?

PS: To see some more successful activities, check out Ramblings of a Crazy Woman's weekly Friday Showcase.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Letter Activities: 5 Little Apples Felt Board Song

We've begun introducing ER to the letters in the alphabet and doing some apple activities for letter A. Along with the apple tree A we made, we've also been doing this fun felt board activity.

I made the tree trunk and tree top out of felt by free hand cutting out the shapes. The top would've looked better if I'd found a template and traced it, but I was in a hurry when I made it. Why was I in a hurry, I have no idea now! Isn't that always the case?

The apples are also made of felt and are just circles cut out of red felt. Nothing too fancy here, but I think it's a fair representation and I told ER to use her imagination. She probably has no idea what that means, but she answered me so solemnly, "Yes mama," when I told her that.

The picture cards were made with clip art that I printed onto cardstock. Then I laminated them and stuck a piece of velcro on the back so it'd stay put on the board. The felt pieces stick together without anything extra to help them.

Here is the song we sing: 5 Little Apples
Author Unknown

Five little apples hung on a tree
The farmer didn't care
So guess who came to eat?

Four little apples hung on a tree
The farmer didn't care
So guess who came to eat?

Three little apples hung on a tree
The farmer didn't care
So guess who came to eat?
A PIG..........MUNCH, MUNCH!

Two little apples hung on a tree
The farmer didn't care
So guess who came to eat?

One little apple hung on a tree
The farmer didn't care
So guess who came to eat?

Now the tree is bare
There are no more apples there
But when next fall comes around

Guess who'll be there?

As we sing each verse I put up the corresponding picture card and we remove one red apple. ER enjoys singing and doing it herself now. She just gets the order mixed up a bit.

This is part of I Blame My Mother's Kid Friendly Friday, and there are a lot of other great projects shared there too. Go check them out!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"I Not Feeling Well"

This is how our past two days have been, my normally happy energenic toddler has been curled up under the fuzzy blanket on the couch coughing with the sniffles. She's feeling a bit better today, guess who has a sore throat now? Yep, the one she called for all day, "I just needing you NOW mama."

See other Wordless Wednesday pictures at: Go Graham Go, Five Minutes for Mom, and Seven Clown Circus.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Digital Designer: Krystal Hartley

Last night I finally decided to take the plunge and get my very first digital kit! To be honest, I have been afraid of digital scrapbooking even though from the scrapbook magzines it looks like a lot of neat things can be done with it. Plus as you might have noticed I have a TON of paper scrapbooking tools and supplies, but what I don't have is a 12x12 printer so hybrid scrapbooking would probably be a challenge or I'd try to combine both.

Then I started a blog, and I love the free template I use now. So do a lot of other people; I started seriously thinking about getting a blog makeover. Looking at all the different blog designers, reading their policies, trying to figure out what to confusing!

I've been thinking more and more about making the jump into a little digital scrapbooking so I can make easy customized pages for online developing services such as Shutterfly. You can design a whole pape layout digitally and then upload and turn them into a hard bound book. So I thought it couldn't hurt to look around, get a kit to experiment and if I don't end up using it for my blog I can always use it with scrapbooking.

There is a huge wealth of resources available and like looking for a blog designer it can take a long time to search out the perfect kit. But I found it!!! I love A Beautiful World at Scrap Orchard by Krystal Hartley. It is so bright, colorful, and cheeful. It just makes me happy. She has some freebies on her blog that I plan to get and play around with too.

I was up way too late working on a header design for my blog. I LOVE everything about the blue version at the top of this post except for the birdie's color, I'm working on that. I think it blends in too much with the background. I also made a green version, which I may go with because then I could use the pretty blue as my blog's background color. I was just so excited playing with my new kit, I had to share it with everyone!

I'm not sure if I'll be using one of these headers, as I'm not sure about what's permissible or not to do with the kit's elements - I've emailed Krystal about that. But I am very happy with how things turned out, learning new Martha would say, "It's a good thing."

Letter Activities: A is for Apple Tree

The plan was to introduce the letters to my two and half year old in thematic order and tying them into things she is interested in. So I didn't intend on doing letter A now, especially since most of the lessons and activities I used while teaching revolve around apples, a theme best suited for the fall.

Then cutting became the favored activity in our house, and we ended up with a lot of green scraps from it. What do you do with a pile of little bits and pieces of green construction paper, but make an apple tree, of course!She has only been using these spring handled toddler scissors for a week or so. To make it easier for her, I cut paper into strips and she makes a lot of little snips into them. About half of the time she snips and rips but sometimes she does manage to make consecutive clips and cut a piece off. I freehand drew a tree top onto green cardstock. I used green so that any gaps wouldn't look weird and because I thought the thicker paper would hold up better to all the excess glue ER would most likely be squeezing onto it.

In the end, I had to add the glue, because true to form she sqeezed out half the bottle when I left the room to answer the phone. Other than that set back, she had grand ol' time gluing on all the pieces.I cut out the tree top shape and a letter A shape out of brown construction paper. I like this version of an apple tree activity because the letter A shape is incorporated into it. Then I laid it all out for ER to see. She was able to reassemble it and glue it down almost all by herself. I mainly had to monitor glue usage.

We used five red buttons to represent our apples. You could also use pom poms or circles cut out of red paper. Then I attached a fingerplay poem to the bottom. We've been singing the song together a few times a day, and she is so cute singing it!
Five Red Apples in an Apple Tree Fingerplay
Five red apples hanging in a tree (hold up five fingers)
The juciest apples you ever did see.
The wind came along and gave an angry frown (flutter fingers)
And one little apple came tumbling down. (hold up five fingers and bring one down)
Continue counting down with: Four red apples...etc
Author Unknown - Please share it with me if you know who it is by!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

In an effort to be back on track with our new year's resolution to cook at home more, I've finally decided to jump on the bandwagon and attempt to plan out this week's menus. Hopefully, this will save us from the unending question: What's for dinner, and the inevitable answer: Something from the drive through.

Monday: Beef, Corn, and Cabbage with Rice, thanks Cindy!
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Chicken Cordon Bleu, thanks Heidi!
Wednesday: Beef Leftovers from Monday
Thursday: Chicken Leftovers from Tuesday
Friday: Ravioli Lasagna, thanks Vickie!

I'll let you know if we were able to stick with this and if it helped us save money by eating in!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Cleaning

This weekend the spring cleaning bug has bit our household. We also decided to try and tackle the furniture arrangement. We've been unhappy at how our entire first floor has become over run with toddler paraphernalia so we attempted to rearrange our great room. After a lot of moving the sofas, tables, and the rug several times we ended up with...everything back in the same place.

My husband is a little annoyed, because he had to do most of the moving. I have to see things moved into place and can't picture how a new layout would look in my mind. So this meant he moved things a lot. Good thing he's got a soft spot for me☺

What I'd really like is for ER to have a spot tucked behind our love seat by the window so we can coral her baby strollers, rocking moose - yes I said moose, and toy box there. Then maybe the first thing you see when you enter our home wouldn't be pink and plastic. But there was no way to do this and still be able to see the TV. And we can't have that! What we really need is an extra room in the house so we can have a playroom as our secondary bedrooms are too small to put the overflow in them.

When we bought our home, it was with the condition we'd finish the basement but it'll be two years in September that we've been here and absolutely no progress has been made on that front. Well except for that now my husband has a new collection of largely unused tools. I'm sure he'd tell you otherwise!

It's frustrating, but we just couldn't come up with an arrangement that would hid some of the toys. We're limited by so many factors; now my husband is looking into moving our cable connection, but that entails coming up through the basement and punching a hole in the wall of the entryway closet. For now, I have to just deal with it.

We did make some headway in reorganizing our closets at least. We'd been keeping the two bookcases in the picture in our kitchen. Evidently, that was driving my husband nuts. So we moved them into our entryway closet. While he was the one who really wanted a solution to that, I am glad we did it. It's nice to not have to look at all that, and since she can open doors now, she can still get to everything. I even have more space to put some of our learning activities.

My next project is to sort through all her things and maybe move some more toys and books into storage for the next kiddo. It's hard because she remembers everything and will ask for it. Plus she doesn't want me to put away her baby toys ever.

The other big event was the grand opening of our back deck. Our car said it was 77 degrees today, and we couldn't wait to get out there and enjoy it, especially since more rain is expected tomorrow.

Brad was also hard at work this morning, cleaning up and wiping down things so that ER could get back out there and play with her play house, sand table, and Barbie bike. She had a blast outside even if she was being a little stinker and kept pouring sand out onto the deck on purpose!

Since I've got decorating on the brain, I really enjoyed taking this little quiz on Sproost. You look at all these pictures of different rooms and click on how much you like it. My style is a combination of mainly Frech Eclectic and Classic with some Nantucket.

Go over and take the quiz. It's fun and quick. Let me know what your decorating style is, if you do! Thank you to Tracy at Loving Pretty Things for telling me about it.

This post has been added to Tackle it Tuesday at Five Minutes for Mom.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Recipe Roundup: Steakhouse Salad

The first time I had a version of this salad it was at a steakhouse, and it's not so creative name was Steakhouse Salad so I guess that's what this is. I've made mine into a dinner salad, by adding leftover grilled chicken but it's delicious without it too. I must I like this flavor combination since it's similar to a cobb salad.

The original version was made with a wedge of head lettuce and drizzled with ranch dressing with blue cheese crumbles and bacon bits, as well as a few artistically arranged cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onion slivers. The wedge of lettuce is pretty, but can be hard to cut and eat, especially if you've got your nice "going out" clothes on and are a messy eater like me. Since head lettuce doesn't have that many nutrients I don't use it. I also add more veggies instead of using them as a garnish.

Torn lettuce, I used red leaf lettuce
Blue Cheese Crumbles
Cooked Chicken
Ranch Dressing, I make mine with a Hidden Valley dressing packet.

Place lettuce on plate and layer remaining ingredients. Pour dressing on top and enjoy!

Katie at A Listmaker's Life has a weekly feature during the warm weather called Saturday Salads that I'm adding this too. I ♥ salads, so if you've got one please link it up so we can all get some new recipe ideas!

This has been added to a few recipe blog parties: Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace, and Kitchen Tip Tuesday at Tammy's Recipes.

We have a WINNER!!!

Thank you to everyone who entered my Purple Trail Giveaway!

The winner is...Tonja at My Beautifully Chaotic Life! I hope you enjoy your free year of Purple Trail's online invitation and party planning service!

Purple Trail is a great service, and even if you didn't win everyone should check it out and sign up for a free account. There are many great services you can enjoy free of charge and without ads being added to your invitations!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Shaving Cream and Glue Puffy Paint

We did this really neat painting project in playgroup a couple of weeks ago. It is so cool; while I have had kids paint with shaving cream, I had never seen anything quite like it before. All you do is mix shaving cream and regular white glue together.

Our group leader wasn't too specific with the measurements, she just put in a bunch of both in a bowl and mixed them together. The key is to make sure the consistancy is kind of stiff and solid, like stiff peaks when you're baking and mixing ingredients together. If you hold up the mixing spoon, the mixture should stay on your spoon and not fall off immediately.

Each child got a spoonful on their paper and then some dry powered tempura paint was sprinkled on top. She mixed it all up the colors combined. When the paint dried, it has a neat puffy texture to it. Just make sure you let it dry overnight, and only make as much as you think you'll use immediately. This paint does not keep.

I was thinking that if you did not have dry powered paint, you could add food coloring to the glue before mixing it together with the shaving cream to make it colored. Left white, this would be fun for winter snow projects. You could also sprinkle glitter in the pufffy paint to add some sparkle. I wonder if it would be thin enough to use in squeeze bottles. I was thinking that would be a fun way to paint with it. Imagine having your child trace over letters with it and then being able to feel the letters later. At any rate, the fun 3D texture when it dries is certainly fun to feel.

Find more ideas of activities to do with your child at I Blame My Mother's Kid Friendly Friday and The Ramblings of a Crazy Woman's Friday Showcase. Please join us by adding your own activity!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Costco Date Night

I ♥ Costco, and I know a lot of you do too! C'mon admit it. I could spend hours there, even though at no time have I needed 12 cans of chicken soup. I do however, love their spinach salad with poppy seed dressing, their jalapeno artichoke dip, and their white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, which for some reason only come in their giant multi pack of cookies. Hey folks at Costco, I could really use a giant container of just them...well maybe on second thought I don't NEED but I'd really like one☺ My dad and I are big fans of their chocolate cake. I also enjoy their discounted book section, we got the new Fancy Nancy book there for 40% off yesterday, ER was so happy. We also seem to always leave with a giant container of diapers these days too!
Back when we were first married and living in CA, we lived ten minutes from a Costco. I can't tell you how many times we ended up there on Friday night with me eating a piece of their giant two dollar pizza slices (blot them heavily as they can be greasy) and Brad with one of their polish sausage and drink combos. Grand total for our meal four bucks, because my husband is cheap enough to make me share his drink! My coworkers would joke about our "romantic" date night.

Why Friday night? That was our store's slow time, if you went on the weekend there were lines a mile long. On Friday night, it was practically empty; we've noticed it's that way at most Costco's after seven, unless there's a big holiday coming up.
My husband jokes our meal expenses have gone way up, 50% as a matter of fact, as now that's she's bigger and ER needs her own piece of pizza; not just a few bites of mine. She eats hers minus the pepperoni; we can't get her a slice of the cheese pizza because they put a ton of extra of cheese on it and it's too cheesy for her. Can you believe it, there's such a thing as too much cheesy goodness?! And on days when we also get a frozen yogurt to split as well, then we're up to a 100% more.

Don't feel too sorry for my husband's wallet, it still only comes to eight dollars then. He really isn't that cheap. We just like thinking we're saving money somewhere, makes the hundred bucks we drop almost everytime we step in that place seem not so bad. It's those diapers, they cost a small fortune over the first few years, wouldn't you agree?

We went last night and ER was great because one of the samples happened to be vanilla ice cream, which she got to eat before dinner. Can you imagine how happy she was? I was pretty excited too, because I found out they're running a sale through May 3rd: 4x6 digital prints are only 9 cents each and my order was over ten dollars less than I expected.

Costco, is definitely one of the things I love. Read about more favorite things at Things I Love Thursday, hosted by The Diaper Diaries.

Don't forget today is the last day to enter my Purple Trail Giveaway!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Easter 1 & 2

Easter 2007, in our apartment in New Mexico andlast year at our house, and yes that's the same dress. She didn't grow very much in between.

Join in: Go Graham Go, Five Minutes for Mom, and Seven Clown Circus.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Smart Blogger Award

Thank you to Trish at Preschool Playbook for awarding me the Smart Blogger award. Trish has a wonderful blog full of great ideas from her preschool classroom. I have found it to be an invaluable resource for great ideas and tips. When I see her activities, it gets me excited to go back into the classroom.

The recipient of this award is not your everyday blogger. If you visit their blog, one thing is for sure, you will learn something (but most of the time, a lot) that is really worth the time you spend reading their post. Their post is always well-written, with good grammar, very insightful, inspiring, and thought provoking. Their posts leave you wishing that you’ve written it. They always have great stories to tell, either about life, about themselves, or about their family. Once you read their blog, there’s one thing that will stick in your head; that they are absolutely, no doubt, a Smart Blogger!

The above award description gave me a boost, as lately whenever I look my posts I find a ton of typos; those are so annoying! I swear I proof read before I post but something always slips by! Plus lately when I read other blogs, all of them seem much cooler than mine. Everyone else is being super creative and getting projects done, while I've been in a rut the past month. Keeping up with the house, planning activities for ER, and having even a little bit of a social life has been hard to balance with my creative side. I've also been feeling that mine was lacking in the insightful and thought provoking area too. So it's nice to hear that someone thinks my blog is interesting, you know other than my family who have to say they like it!

I'm going to have to agree with Trish and quote her, "I will tell you there are quite a few bloggers that I think should get this award. Sometimes I am in complete awe of some of these sites as I read them. I will tell you all that I am completely amazed by the writings, posts, and activities of the many moms and families that I read everyday." I second that whole heartily!

Link the one who gave this award and let them know you posted it. Pass this to as many Smart Bloggers as you can think of and make sure to write something about them (like why you think they are a Smart Blogger). Let them know they have an award by dropping them a comment on their blog.

I really think this one should go out to all of you! There are some blogs I read for decorating tips, crafting ideas, educational lessons, and some I read primarily to brighten my day through the funny antidotes shared on them. Plus there are so many of you whose daily lives I feel apart of from reading your daily posts. I don't think I can limit this; I'd like to pass this along to all of my wonderful followers! I visit each and everyone of you, although not as often as I'd like! I hope you know how much I appreciate your comments and opinions. In my opinion everyone is a Smart Blogger!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Eight is Enough

Heidi and Blue Eyed Blessings tagged me to play along and share a bit about here we go!

8 Things I am Looking Forward to:
  1. Wearing capris and flipflops
  2. Shopping in a few weekends with my friends Melissa and Sara
  3. Potty training being accomplished instead of a work in progress
  4. Planning a Mother's Day Tea for my mom and MIL
  5. Nicer weather so we can play at the park and teach ER to ride her trike
  6. Visiting Philly for the first time in June to see my BIL and SIL
  7. Going to the Antiques Fair with my Mom & Dad
  8. Scrapbooking with Vickie - it'll happen one of these days!
8 Things I did Yesterday:
  1. Took a lot of pictures
  2. Played the Easter bunny
  3. Enjoyed listening to my daughters squeals of delight when she got her Easter basket
  4. Cleaned and cut up a ton of veggies for our veggies and dip platter
  5. Ate too many deviled eggs - but they were so good!
  6. Helped ER hunt Easter eggs
  7. Spent the afternoon with my family
  8. Went to bed early, so exhausted after two long days!
8 Things I Wish I Could Do:
  1. Sing
  2. Draw/Paint
  3. Eat what I want and stay skinny, but I guess I'd have to get skinny first!
  4. Move Alicia from AZ to MI, cause there are too many time zones between us!
  5. Fly without fear
  6. Travel Europe
  7. Save more money
  8. Be without health concerns
8 Shows I Watch:
  1. Chuck
  2. The Big Bang Theory
  3. CSI Miami
  4. Detroit Tiger's Baseball
  5. Countdown with Keith Oberman
  6. Daily Show with John Stewart
  7. Martha Stewart
  8. Creative Juice
8 People I Tag:
  1. Vickie at Vickie's Scrapbooking and Tidbits
  2. Noelle at Lil' Bits and Pieces of Me
  3. Katie at A Listmaker's Life
  4. Dawn at 7 All Together
  5. Kim at 4 Crazy Kings
  6. Tonja at My Beautifully Chaotic Life
  7. Anna at k e household
  8. Courtney at Sister to Sister
And anyone else who wants to play along!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! We had a really nice one, and enjoyed a lovely sunny spring day filled with lots of fun traditional activities and family time.The day began with ER coming downstairs excitedly to follow an egg trail left by the Easter bunny, to her basket of goodies. This year she knew exactly what to do when she spied eggs all around the house.She also got a treat basket from us, along with an new art easel. She was so excited to when Daddy brought this out.We went over to Grandma Norma's house in the afternoon and my family joined us there too. It was so nice to have both sides of the family together so ER could see everyone. She got even more Easter goodies from them, and loves it all. She can't wait to start growing with her new planter set from Grandma Norma, and she loves hugging the spotted chicken my mom aka Grammy knitted her.Since it was so nice outside, ER got to go on an egg hunt in Grandma's backyard. It's so much fun to have a little one to enjoy the holiday with, even the neighbors came outside to watch her collect all the treats the Easter bunny had left for her.What a rare treat, a family photo OUTSIDE on Easter in Michigan. Here we are with Brad's mother Norma.She has finally mastered opening the plastic eggs, how fun to find lots of marshmallow eggs, chocolate, and coins inside!I couldn't leave my family out of the Easter post, here we are with my Dad, brother, and Mom. We all enjoyed the traditional dinner of my childhood which MUST include ham and cheesy potatoes plus lots of desserts. It was a beautiful day spent with family, the best kind of days!

See some more Easter fun at Five Minutes for Mom and link up your Easter post!
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