Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Menu Planning

I've been meaning to do this post all month, so nothing like waiting for THE last day. :)  Since it is the month of love and heart health month, too, I'm challenging you to try menu planning of some sort or another.  Now don't roll your eyes or close your browser, menu planning does not have to be hard or complicated.  It takes many different forms.  So how does menu planning relate to love and heart health you might ask?  Well, nothing says you love your family more than a nice, warm meal, good conversation together around the table, and a happy mom because she's not stressed out over dinner.  Also when you plan your own meals, you control what you're putting in them and not putting in them, not giving up and ordering pizza or hitting the drive-thru on the way home - both of which are NOT heart healthy.  Also you save so much money when you plan your meals rather than just throw something together which usually ends up with a quick ($50) trip to the store.

There are many different ways and levels of menu planning, so just find one that works for you.  You can plan a whole month at a time, having one major shopping day and then just buy fresh produce weekly.  You can plan two weeks at a time or even one week at a time.  When we were growing up, my mom had little binder that had a rotating menu, complete with shopping list, for three weeks.  Now that is organized!  Pocket Full of Posies has a similar idea, only they do all the work for you. :)  Food on the Table is another simliar one, complete with apps for your smart phone.  There are many more, too.  Of course these options aren't free, but if it gets you planning and works for you, do it!

This is how I do my menu planning.  Tuesday nights/Wednesday morning I grab a my "tools" and get to work.  This is great to do while watching tv, makes me feel like I'm being productive while chillin'. 

My pile along with my pretty daisys from my sweet friend.
Tools of the job:
My calendar
Cookbooks - The blue "What's for Dinner" cookbook above is awesome! I bought it several years ago and loved it so much I bought one for my SIL, too. It has 52 weeks of complete dinner menus - main dish, salads, even desserts. Now I don't love EVERY meal they have planned, but I've found some really good ones and it's a great starting point. If there's a meal my family doesn't like, I either substitute my own recipe or a different meal.   If you're interested, you can find it here:

I also regularly use the "Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook", too. I LOVE my crockpot!! I use my crockpot at least once a week and have many, many recipes that I enjoy in this book.   You can find it at Amazon also:

As I said, I really enjoy a good cookbook and have been known to sit and "read" cookbooks often. :) I usually try to try a new recipe every week, with Pinterest now, I have even more new recipes to try. When I make a new meal, I have my family give it a rating of 1-5 (5 is the best) and I write it down in the book. That way I won't make the same mistake twice. lol If it's on Pinterest or from a magazine or something like that, if it's a keeper it'll get typed up and added to the recipe box. 
My local ads (or circulars as my Grandma called them:) ) - We only have two grocery stores here, so it's pretty easy to quickly scan through, see what's on sale, build a meal around it if I want or just jot down other sale items I want to stock up on.
My grocery list - I found this awesome grocery list printable from the girls at The Letter 4.  You can print 3 to a sheet and print off 17 sheets and have enough for one a week for almost a whole year.  I cut mine apart and glued them together to make a notepad like I did here.  I also glued two magnets on the back so I could hang it right on my fridge so everyone knows where to write something down when we run out.
The big "How To":
I scan through the calendar and see what we have going on. I know Monday's I need something quick and easy or in the crockpot because I teach piano lessons until 5 and often take Natalie to karate at 6. Depending on what's going on, when basketball practices are, or band concerts, or whatever else, makes a difference in what I'll plan for dinner. That's probably the biggest reason I only plan one week at a time.  I usually have a mexican meal, italian meal, an asian meal, and in the winter I add a soup meal each week, that's just how it works out.  Now I use those terms very loosly, lol, if it's pasta it's counted as italian, if it involves tortillas it's mexican, and rice = asian. :)  If I think of it that way, it's easier to figure out what to eat.  We also have pizza usually every Friday night, and then leftovers or grilled cheese sandwiches or something similarly easy on Saturday.  I pretty much plan for 4 meals.  I also have a list of "Family Favorite Meals" I've made over the years so when I'm stumped I can pull that out and see what we haven't had for a while.  I have also started a "Summer Meals" list, too, okay so I like lists and my husband get's picky about what's "too heavy" to eat in the summer.  Just makes things easier.
Speaking of easier, the easiest way to plan your meals is have 6 kids and make them all pick one meal a week.  Now that they're older, I do this quite often now.  Everyone has a say, and you know there's at least one meal a week each person won't complain about. :)  I do limit them sometimes because we can't have spaghetti or chicken curry every week and I also threaten, lol.  If Cheyenne won't come up with a meal I tell her I'm adding stir-fry to the list and if Natalie won't pick something, it's tacos.  That usually works.
That's it!  It's really not that much work, it's not rocket science, and it only takes about 15 min., maybe.  So here's my challenge to you, if you're not planning your meals yet, try it out, see if it's worth that little bit of preparation and if the time and money savings at the grocery store is worth it.  If you are a planner, how do you do it, what works for you?  Any tips?  Please share in the comments and let's make supper time a happy time. :)

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Lucky Printable

I love my husband!  He is the best!  I think I'm still on a "love" high, with my birthday, Valentine's day, the anniversary of our first date, and also the anniversary of when we were sealed in the temple together, we've done a lot of reminiscing and had a lot of fun together this past month.  But now that we're almost to March and my Irish heritage is seeping out, too, so I decided to combine the two in to a printable.  What?!  Well, let me explain,  I was thinking about the word "lucky", which made me think of how lucky I am to be married to my best friend, which made this song pop into my head (my girls are laughing now because everything makes a song pop into my head.  I've become my mom. :) )

I really like this song by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat.  Even though it's not my usual taste in music, it's just a fun song.  So I decided to make a printable out of the chorus.  Okay, I did switch the last couple of lines, I just liked it better that way.


If you want it, you can download it here.  So why do you feel lucky?

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Sunshine for the Soul

"There is sunshine in my soul today..." I've always liked this song, it's just so cheery and makes me happy, plus it was fun to play on the piano, too.  However, do you know someone who needs a little more sunshine in their life; someone having a hard time right now; or just someone who is still in the throes of winter and needs a little glimmer of spring?  I found this on Pinterest, again, one of the very first things I pinned.  When I saw it months ago, I immediately knew I had to do this for my friend who lives in Alaska, where the winter lasts forever, and the winter days are very short.

So here's my version:

I had so much fun shopping one day and just looking for anything yellow, orange, or tropicalish.  The party supply store was where I ended up getting most of it - the leis, little yellow guys, cookie cutter, sprinkles, and flip-flop straws (those were so cool!)  I lined a box with different shades of yellow paper and layered it all in there with orange and yellow tissue paper.  Then I whipped up a quick card to go with it.  Cloud/sky paper (I finally found a use for it, yeah!) and just scraps of yellow and orange paper.
I had so much fun with this project.  It probably brought more sunshine to my soul than to hers.  Try sending some sunshine in a box to someone you love.  I guarantee it'll leave you smiling and sunny, too.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Scripture Power / Super Hero Capes

Leslie's here today with a fun project:

This was a fun project Kim and I worked on together last year.  We both serve in our church primaries and last year's theme was on the scriptures.  Scripture Power is always one of the kid's favorite songs.  I wanted to make something fun they could use when we sang that song, but even more importantly, something that could help them realize the scriptures can give them superhero-like spiritual strength!  So, this is what we came up with:

The Scripture Power/Super Hero capes!

These were SUPER easy, no sewing necessary, and we made six in an afternoon!

1.  Get red, yellow, blue, and green fabric.  (I bought the cheapest, solid colored, cotton fabric I could find).  
2.  Cut a rectangle measuring about 36" x 22" for each cape.
3.  Iron on fusible interfacing (like this) to the back of a separate piece of contrasting colored fabric for the shield.
4.  Cut a shield shape in the contrasting colored fabric for each cape.  My shields measure about 8" x 8".  I used Kim's Cricut to cut my shields, but you could google "superman shield clip art", find a shape you like and print it to use as a template.  It is a simple shape to cut. 
5.  Iron on fusible interfacing to the back of a piece of fabric.
6.  Cut a "S" and "P" in this piece of fabric. 
7.  Peel off the paper from the interfacing of the letters.  Iron them onto the shield.
8.  Peel off the paper from the shield and iron it onto the center of the cape.

9.  Drape the cape around your little one and tie under their neck using the top corners of the rectangle. 

If you are more of a perfectionist like my sister : ),  you could make straps to go around the neck, but for my purpose, we only needed it to stay on for a 2 minute song, and this works just fine.  (I, also did a simple straight stitch around all the sides to keep them fraying too much, and then cut a fringe into 3 sides to help it fray there.)

Our kids testing out their new superhero strength.

When we used these in primary, we drew names of six kids to come up and wear them while we sang the song.  The primary theme  this year is, Choose The Right.  You could make something similar with the CTR logo.

I'm already thinking of using this pattern for a possible upcoming birthday party favor, with the guest's initial in the shield... but I'm sure my son will change party ideas four or five times before May!

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Safety Pin Watch or Bracelet

Hi everyone!  This was a guest post I did last week for Between U and Me.  Enjoy!

I'm so excited to be here guest posting today.  Just a little introduction, I'm Kimberly from The Brown Eyes Have It.  I'm trying to be the best wife and mother I can be and having a little fun along the way and I blog about all that includes.  Also today is my birthday! Yeah!!  So as I was thinking of what I could post about, what the date was, realizing my littlest three need a birthday present for me, and I wanted a new watch, so that's what we're doing today - an easy safety pin watch or bracelet.

Safety pins - around 60 for a watch, around 70 for a bracelet
Stretchy cord - 2 pieces about 20" each - I used 1 mm thickness, you can use thinner, but the thicker
     it is the stronger it is
Seed beads - picture shows two tubes, but I only needed one
Watch face - I forgot that in the picture, oops.  A face with bars or holes in edge of the face is fine. If
      you use a face with holes, make sure your cord is small enough to fit through the holes.
Clear nail polish or super glue

Open the pins and start loading the beads on.  If you want a random pattern, the easiest thing to do is dump the beads in a bowl and just start scooping the pin through.  Or, you can painstakingly pick out each bead and slide it on the pin in precise color order, the choice is yours. :)
After you've loaded all the beads onto the pins, start stringing the pins on one of the pieces of string.  String them head up, head down, head up, etc.  It makes them lay them nicer.  Also make sure they're all laying the same way, either the clasp (beaded) side all up or the blank side up, just make sure they're the same.  Really, take a look through them and make sure they're all the same, not that I had any experience with this. :)  Lucky for me, my upside down one was towards the end.

After you've got them all strung on one string, string the other cord through.

If you want a bracelet, tie the two ends of the top cord together in a square knot and do the same for the bottom cord.  Now the knot won't hold tight, but it'll help you see if it's the right size.  Either add or take off pins as needed.  If you're making a watch, thread the cord over the bar and under the face and tie the two ends together.  Carefully, try on your watch and adjust to fit.  Take it off and flip it inside out with the back of the face, up.  I put a piece of tape on the back of the face to keep it clean while gluing.  This part is a little tricky.  Pull your knot as tight as you can and while holding it tight, drop some glue on it or paint it with nail polish.  It's much easier if you have someone help you.  Then repeat for the other cord.  Cut off the excess cord.

Voila! That's it, a totally customizable, cheap, easy, fun watch.
Or bracelet.

Thanks again, Courtney, for letting me hang out with you all today.
Come visit me at The Brown Eyes Have It.  I'd love to see you there!

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Tooth Pillow

See this sad, sad pillow.  For my 5th birthday my mom's friend made this for me (well, her daughter gave it to me.)  
It was so cool! We'd never seen anything like it.  It lasted through all my teeth, all my sister's teeth and through 3 of my kids so far.  However we got a hole in it.  Then it got bigger and bigger and finally it hardly holds a tooth.  So making a new one needed to happen.  This cute little pillow kept your tooth safe and sound for the tooth fairy to find and then makes a nice place to store your money until morning. This is a project I'd been meaning to get to for a long time, even bought the material, but wasn't a big priority.  See, my three youngest all lost their first teeth last year in Kindergarten.  Chloe and Maddie lost a few more over the summer.  We'd kind of slowed down on the teeth losing for a while.  And then it happened Jon finally had another wiggly tooth!  His sisters had lost all 4 front ones to his one, so he was excited to finally wiggle another one.  I knew I didn't have long, and this was the incentive I needed to get this done.  I'll show you how I did it.

White material

Start by drawing, finding a tooth shape graphic, something for a pattern of sorts.  I traced the old one I had and then tried to make it more tooth shaped.  This is what I finally came up with.  Cut 2.

Cut a square/rectangle of felt.  I used two kinds of ribbon, blue gingham and then polka-dot ric rack - trying to make it cute for boys and girls.  Cut both ribbons about 1" long than the felt.  I actually glued the ric rack onto the other ribbon, tucking the ends under.  Then I stitched the two ribbons along the top and bottom of the ribbon onto the felt, again tucking the ends under.  Stitch the felt onto the white fabric along three sides, gotta leave an opening for that tooth.

Then pin the two "teeth" together, right sides together.  Stitch around the whole thing, leaving about a 2" opening.  Clip around the corners, this will help it lay better when you turn it right-side out. (2nd picture on bottom.)  Turn it right-side out and stuff it.  Then hand-stitch your opening closed.  That's it, you have a suitable place for leaving teeth and a safe spot to receive your money (or whatever the tooth fairy brings to your house.) 

I got mine done not a moment too, soon.  Jon lost his top tooth the next day.  How cute is he?! 

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

A New Look

  So what do you think?  Notice anything . . . different?  I got a makeover!! Yeah!  Last week on Type A Decorating, I won a giveaway of a new blog design by Shabby Creations.  I've been wanting a new design for quite a while.  I feel like I'm a "real" blogger now that I have a "real" design instead of just a copy and pasted one.  Oh, and I also have a signature, how cool is that!  Anyway, Michelle was great to work with.  She has some fantastic pre-designed stuff or she can do custom work, too.  So I got to pick from her premade designs, what a dilemma.  They were all so cute.  I picked some of my favorites, asked my girls for their opinions, not surprisingly we all liked the same ones.  I even emailed my sister, Leslie, and asked what she liked.  What's funny, is only one of the ones she liked best was one Cheyenne and I liked.  Anyway, when I saw the name of this design, Kimmy, I HAD to pick this one.  See, that's been my nickname forever.  When I was little, my family all called my Kimmy, I didn't really like it.  But eventually I grew out of the name, except for my Grandma C. she always called me Kimmy.  Then I became an aunt and I was back to Kimmy, although this time I liked it a lot more.  Sadly, all those cute little nephews and two nieces (yes, we're very short on the girls in this family, but I did my part. :) ) have grown up and only Leslie's little boys still call me Aunt Kimmy.  So there's some random information for ya! lol  I'm loving my new design, it makes me happy!  And it was a great birthday present.

Jon's present.
Speaking of my birthday, that's why I've been a little absent this week.  I'm just taking it easy this week, life's been a little stressful/busy lately.  So I had a great birthday!  It started with this awesome, surprise post from Leslie.  Wow, we've had a lot of fun together over the years.  I can honestly say she is one of my best friends, both my sisters are.  I'm very lucky that way!  And then more awesomeness, my parents took me out to lunch.  They are so cool!  I love so close to them.  I can visit them any time, they come support my kids' activities, we have birthday parties together (along with my brother who lives close, too), it's great!  I'm really going to miss them when they leave on another mission for our church in April.  Luckily it's not very far this time, so we'll still be able to visit them.  Back to my birthday, Natalie asked her dad to bring home pizza for dinner and Cheyenne made me a cake.  The boys made me some presents they had hiding under their bed so I couldn't peak. :)  Jon gave me a picture of a whale he drew (apparently a new skill he's quite proud of), a bookmark, and a new pencil.  Both boys gave me two jaw breakers and a gift certificate to make me some brownies - my favorite treat.  Cheyenne said the gift certificate originally said I could make THEM some brownies.  She told them that wasn't a birthday present and they said, "Well, Uncle Thomas gave YOU stuff to make HIM cookies for your birthday."  (See the whole story here.)  She convinced them it would be nicer this way and that she would help them.  What a good sister.  :)  Then a total surprise when Bill gave me a video camera!  This thing is so tiny!  Seriously, it's the size of my small, point-and-shoot camera.  I'm so excited to test it out on Saturday at Billy's basketball game.  My kids better watch out, we'll be videoing everything for posterity now. lol  All in all, it was a great day!  I got lots of birthday wishes, some great friends brought me presents, my kids were angels all day (no fighting!), what more could a person ask for.  Thank you all for a wonderful day!
P.S. I forgot to add that I added the new Linky follower on the right side.  Google is discontinuing Google Friends Connect for anyone who's not on Blogger on March 1.  There is also a rumor that they will discontinue it altogether at a later date.  (Pushing everyone to use Google+.)   What does this mean?  It means all those favorite blogs that you enjoy and read often will not show up in your reader anymore.  Solution - Linky Followers.  It's free to set up an account and it's very similar to GFC with one big plus - I love the fact that you can categorize the blogs you follow: blogs to check daily, family, friends, cooking, craft, etc., whatever you want.  So go sign up before you loose all those favorite blogs you're following.  I'd love it if you follow me, too.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Kimberly!

today, to my sister, Kim! 

(This is Leslie, Kim's sister. She doesn't know I'm posting this, he, he).

(one of my all time favorite pictures of us...
See that looks she's giving me?  I got that a lot, and I look so cute and innocent, right?)

Kimberly and I have an older sister and two older brothers, but we are the "tail-enders" of the family, so we had a lot of time with just the two of us growing up.

So on your birthday Kim, I'd like to thank you for introducing me to:  sticker collecting, smurfs and Barbies, and occasionally letting me plan out the story plot when we would play Barbies ; )  and taking care of me when I threw up right before our Rainbow Bright dance program and when I threw up at Disneyland, and protecting me from the gross boys that rode our bus (and helping me when I was car sick and felt like I was going to throw up on the bus)...

Classic 1983? With our Care Bears and my Rainbow Bright P.J.'s.
What was on yours? I can't remember.

And for introducing me to: big earrings, 80s hair bands, leggings with boots (OK, really we have Kristen to thank for all those), for double-dating with me on my first date, taking me to my first concert, driving me all over the place before I had a licence and putting up with my "annoying friends," for forgiving me for loosing the cowboy boot earring and the occasional stained shirt that I swear I never knew about until it was put back in your side of the closet : ) and for introducing me to Top Gun, Dirty Dancing, and of course, American Anthem.

Sporting our matching sweatshirts, perms and bangs in true Idaho style. 

For introducing me to scrapbooking, all kinds of crafting, Pizza Pipeline (back when you lived in P.G., those were good times), and Tai food, and Bill's Grandma's sweet relish recipe (Luke added that one), and for remembering details about my own childhood that I forget, and explaining to me how to alter recipes and substitute ingredients, and helping me determine whether or not I was in labor...

Here we are with sister Kristen too, (not to be confused with Sister Christian her favorite song back in the day) showing off our great skills on the trampoline. 

And overall, for being such a great big sister that I have always looked up to!  These are just a few of the things I'm thinking of off the top of my head tonight.   I wish Kristen and I were there to take you to lunch today! I feel so grateful to have each of my siblings and their unique personalities whom I look up to so much, both when I was growing up (as the youngest in the family) and still today.

Cheers!  While visiting Kristen in Colorado a couple of years ago.


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