Monday, April 30, 2012

I'm a judge!

Hey guess what? It's official, I am a judge for One Artsy Mama's "One Crafty Contest". 

 Go check out her post here announcing all the judges, our super hero names and powers, and some hilarious pictures.  Amy is just awesome!

Everyone come sign up tomorrow and pass the word around.  Lots of fun, lots of prizes, it's going to be a blast!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Weekly Menu: April 29 - May 5

 I'm going to try something new today and see if this interests anybody.  As I mentioned in my menu planning post, I do my shopping on Wednesdays, so I'll share my weekly menu plan each Thursday or Friday.  I know I have a hard time coming up with menus each week, so maybe this will help someone else.

Paper from Summer Time Designs

Black Bean Soup can be found here.  I really like their cookbook, too.

Cabbage Strudel is something I've pinned - my new recipe for the week.

Making my own version of a local restaurants awesome Cluck n' Nuts (chicken salad sandwich) - but might incorporate the yogurt instead of mayo as mentioned here.

So what's your menu plan for the week?  Is this something you'd like me to post every week?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fire truck birthday party

My sister, Leslie, is back with another great party idea:

My youngest son is a big fan of police, rescue and fire truck vehicles.  We do daily "drive-bys" if we are anywhere near the vicinity of our town fire station (and even when we aren't we somehow manage to end up driving by).  So, today we celebrated his 4th birthday in true Fire Truck Party style!

I knew he would love a t-shirt with a fire truck, but I could not find one in stores and what I could find online was either cheesy and/or expensive.  So, I found an imagine online that I liked, printed it off, and cut fabric shapes mimicking the online image.  I used knit fabric which does not fray (I actually used old t-shirts).  Then I ironed the shapes onto fusible interfacing and then ironed them onto a basic black t-shirt.  From past experience, I knew I would need to sew around the edges, but my sewing machine was giving me problems that night, so I decided to use embroidery floss which actually turned out a lot cuter, (I think).

He was pretty excited about it.

The fire fighters were awesome and the kids LOVED the tour.

We gave them this before we left.

Here are some of the ideas for the party we had after our trip to the fire station:

I am soooo not a cake decorator.  However, I can print and cut : ) so I found pictures online of a fire station, hydrant, etc., added a new truck, and made them into a cake!

The guests each choose one of these on their way home. 

We had a beautiful day and had the party outside.

Do you have any spring birthdays coming up?  I will be back to post two more party ideas over the next few weeks:  Skylanders and Batman! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Recap of Birthdays Past

Birthday season is rapidly approaching at our house.  5 of the 8 of us have birthday's within a couple weeks of each other.  When Cheyenne was just little, Bill and I decided not to do a big birthday party for the kid's every year - what can I say, we're cheap. :)  So we do a party when they turn 6 - now in school and they finally have friends to invite, and when they turn 8, 12, and 16 - those are all big years to us.  So lucky for us, no parties to plan this year.  While I do enjoy all the party planning and the idea of having a party, I tend to stress out a little the day of the party - it's all too crazy and chaotic. lol So I'll share a recap of parties we've done in the past and those my awesome sister, Leslie, who is the party queen, has shared with us.  Click on the links to see more of each party.

Army Party
For Billy's 8th birthday we had so much fun with an Army Party.  I think this was the only time Bill actually got involved much - and I think he had as much fun as the boys.  I still, a year later, have one of the boys who every time he sees me says, "That was the funnest party ever!"

As they arrived, I gave them all dog tags I'd made them and let them fold/decorate/fly their own paper airplanes, while waiting for everyone to get here.  Then we moved on to a little calisthenics "Simon Says".  We set up a nerf gun shooting range upstairs in our bonus room, which was a huge hit!  They even shot at a few stuffed animals with target vests on them.  The last activity was a scavenger hunt "rescue mission" to find bags of army men for each of them.
Shooting range
 Carnival Party
Since this was the Triplets birthday party, I had to make it fun for both boys and girls and enough to keep 20 kids entertained.  Yes, we invited the whole kindergarten class.  Luckily only about half came, and we actually had as many helpers as we did kids. :)
As the kids arrived we gave them paper bags to decorate with markers and lots of stickers.  This is what they put their candy in from the pinata and we had carnival bags of popcorn and a few other things we added. We had 8 or 9 different stations set up and split the kids up into groups to rotate through them.  We had face painting, a milk can toss, a fish pond game, dropping clothes pins into jars, scoop the ducks blindfolded, a football toss through a hoop, golf putting, a bean bag toss, and then a photo booth of sorts.  This was so much fun!  I highly recommend getting lots of helpers.  We had enough help that I was able to just walk around and heard kids and take lots of pictures.  It was great!  We ended with a couple of group games and a pinata that would not break! lol  Another great tip, with the possibility of that many kids I split all the candy up into snack size bags and wrote their names on each bag.  That way everyone got plenty of candy and they didn't kill each other to get it. :)

Lego Party
We did just basic party games - pin the door on the lego house, drop the lego into a jar, and a couple others.  I know there are a million lego party ideas out there, so I'll just share the best part of ours.  We gave the kids each a little lego vehicle set like this:
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They each built one and then we raced them over and over again.  They also took the cars home as their favor (along with some candy.) The boys had a blast! 

Cooking/Pizza Party
This was back before I blogged at all, actually before I'd even heard of blogs, but it was really fun so I'll share it now.  For Natalie's 7th birthday she wanted a cooking party.  We had the girls bring an apron, or we had a few for those that didn't.  While they arrived they decorated bands that we made into chef hats (stapled tissue paper inside.)  Then they made their own pizzas.  We gave them the dough and let them roll it out, and top it with whatever kinds of toppings they wanted.  While the pizzas cooked, the girls went outside and played.  Then they ate the pizza for lunch, opened presents, and that was about it.  A little more prep work making the dough and stuff, but probably the easiest party I've done.
Wow, how these girls have changed in 7 years! :)
Now for Leslie's amazingness:
Angry Birds Party
Go click on the link.  Leslie gives great details of her super fun party.  Every time my kids see these pictures they say with a big sigh, "I wish we could live by Aunt Leslie and go to their parties."  My favorite part is the larger than life Angry Birds game.
The kids threw balls with angry bird faces on them at the tower of boxes.  It was my brother's job to restack it each time. lol
And aren't these the coolest?! My boys would LOVE these for their backpacks.  Leslie made one of these for each of the kids.

Disney Cars Party
Leslie floors me with her artistic ability.  I have trouble with stick people.  Check out the cars she made out of cardboard boxes.
The kids got to race IN the boxes!

This was such a fun idea.  She even let the kids have a wild rumpus!  However, the best part is her decorations.  They are amazing!!!  Are those pictures the cutest things or what?!  Go check out the cupcakes she made, too.

Well, I hope that gives you some ideas for your next birthday party and makes planning that perfect party just a little easier.  Leslie is also entering her month of birthdays as well (all three of her boys have birthdays within weeks of each other), so hopefully she'll be back soon with more great birthday ideas.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"If" by Rudyard Kipling - Printable

Many, many years ago, I think I was in jr. high actually, I had to memorize a poem - "If" by Rudyard Kipling.  I loved it from the moment I first read it.  So I painstakingly worked and worked at memorizing this very long poem.  I have vivid memories of repeating it over and over to my mom trying to get it all in the right order.  And though I can't remember it all word for word now, the message has stuck with me.

Fast forward 20 years and when in 8th grade Cheyenne needed a good poem to memorize, I suggested "If" to her, too.  She did the same thing, worked and worked at memorizing it and now she loves it, too.  So a couple weeks ago when Natalie needed to memorize a poem (love that 8th grade English,) Cheyenne and I both suggested "If", and she memorized it, too.  I decided I needed this posted somewhere since it's such a good reminder of how I want to live and how I want my children to live.  So I made a printable and I'll share it with you, too.

Thank you so much to Persnickety Prints for the great background and border.

A couple days after I made this and Natalie presented it to her class, she then tells me she had to take something for a prop/display.  I told her I had made this and if she'd just told me, she could have taken it.  Instead she took a few different varieties of the Met Life stuffed Snoopy's (taking the "If" out of life.) lol  Thanks to Uncle Luke for providing a great prop!

Do you have a favorite poem?  Do you remember any of those you memorized in school?  I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Creamy Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

Sorry for the lack of posts.  We had our three days of spring break (yes, we only get 3 days!) and I enjoyed every second of having my kids home, even while watching the blizzard raging outside Friday.  It's been so nice since then, I've been spending a lot of time outside, too.  We had a great Easter, too, except for the part where I went to whip up some easy skirts for Chloe and Maddie on Saturday and my sewing machine wouldn't work.  Nice!  I spent a good couple of hours trying to fix it to no avail.  Eventually, I gave up, ran to town to get them something different for their Easter baskets and borrowed my mom's sewing machine.  So hopefully I'll get those done tomorrow and can show you.  Then yesterday and today I've spent most of the time catching up on what I didn't do while we were playing (including taking my machine in to be repaired.) 

Anyway, on to today's post.  I'm having good run of Pinterest recipes for the past couple of weeks.  It's been great, especially following the bad run I had about a month ago.  My family was getting pretty leery of hearing me say, "I found it on Pinterest."  Last week in our Bountiful Basket (an awesome food co-op program, check and see if there's one by you) I got several tomatillos.  I'd never had one before and was excited to try them.  A couple days later, several of my friends had pinned this recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen for tomatillo ranch dressing, supposedly like Cafe Rio's.  Since I had all the ingredients on hand, I made it for dinner to go along with our enchiladas we were having.  I've never had Cafe Rio's so I can't compare it that way, but it was delicious!  So yummy you'll want to try it too!

Creamy Tomatillo Ranch Salad Dressing
Makes about 2 ½  cups of dressing

2 cups prepared Ranch Dressing (I used a packet of Ranch dressing mix, but you can make your own dressing if you prefer)
1 small bunch cilantro, large stems removed (about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro)
2 large or 4 small tomatillos
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 T fresh lime juice
1 tsp. Green Tabasco sauce or 1 diced jalapeno pepper
(I used a Mexican red hot sauce.)

Prepare Ranch dressing according to directions on the package or recipe you're following and set aside.

Remove large cilantro stems, then wash leaves and spin dry or dry with paper towels. Add cilantro to food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until finely chopped. (If you don't have a food processor, chop all ingredients well by hand and then blend dressing in a blender.)

Add tomatillos, garlic, lime juice, and Green Tabasco or chopped jalapeno to the food processor and pulse until ingredients are finely pureed. Add the 2 cups of prepared dressing and pulse just a few times, until ingredients are well combined. Chill dressing for an hour or two and serve.

~To make a roasted tomatillo dressing, dice tomatillos, place on a baking sheet, and roast at 400F for 15-20 minutes before adding them to the food processor.
~If you'd like even more tomatillo flavor, use 4-5 large tomatillos and decrease the buttermilk or milk in the Ranch dressing by about 1/4 cup.

So what are your new found favorite recipes from Pinterest?  Are you finding it a good source for new inspiration? 

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Decorate My Room

Okay, I'm asking for your help, opinions, input, ideas, anything you can share with me to help me decorate my living room.

We recently sold our couch in our bonus room and moved our living room couch upstairs.  So we got to go shopping, yeah! I didn't think I was going to get to replace these couches for a long time.

This is the before:

Well, I have changed things a little since this time, but these are the old couches.

We bought this couch and love seat, I think, or at least they are very similar to these and they'll be here in a week or two:

So I'm going to do a little redecorating while we're at it.  This is where I need your help.  I'm not a decorator.  This is what I have to work around, oak floors, floor to ceiling oak bookshelves that are "for books not decorations" as per Bill's instructions, a black gloss piano, and probably no painting of the walls - our floor plan is very open and I think if I painted in there I would have to paint the entryway, hallway, maybe kitchen, but I might stencil a wall or two (I just won a Cutting Edge Stencil. Yeah!)
  So here's what it looks like now and a tour around the room:

So what would you do with this room?  That green cabinet is my music cabinet and I'm thinking of painting it white or cream with sort of a french country feel.  I'm debating between keeping things all neutral (rug/curtains) and then using throw pillows for color accents or using curtains, sort of like this:

in a slate blue (federal blue) kind of color and finding a bluish rug.  However, if I add the blue, can I use lime green or tangerine tango orange pillows for the summer and change them to something more subdued come fall and winter.  What about rugs, I'm terrible with rugs.  Look at the top picture, this is how I've had the rug placed, does this look okay?  Do I need it to bump it up under the furniture?  Does it need to be bigger?  Also should I flip it (or get a squarer rug) so the long side goes toward the bookshelf?  Can you see any other furniture placement?  I'm open to any and all suggestions, give me your best ideas, and give me some place to start with this room.  What would you do with this room?

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Yarn Wreath

  I'm so excited about this project.  It's my first wreath, yes, I've never made a wreath before.  I didn't know how to hang them on my metal front door without the over-the-door hanger, to which my husband would object, I'm sure.  Then after this post, someone mentioned magnetic wreath hangers.  I finally found one at Christmas time and have been itching for a good wreath ever since.  I've been wanted to try a yarn wreath (because yarn wouldn't scratch my door) and have pinned several different yarn wreaths as inspiration.  Finally, I needed a little burst of color and some springiness after this drab, boring, pretty much brown winter.  So here it is:

And it was really quite simple, too.  If you want to make one, here's what you need:
Wreath form - I used a straw form and left the plastic wrapper on, it's just less messy that way
Felt for flowers
Ribbon - the rick rack I used is the BIG kind
Chipboard letters
Fusible interfacing
Glue gun

Not necessary, but helpful:
Lot's of family to tell you when your colors are even
Good music - my sister introduced me to the Walt Disney channel on Pandora and we tortured my daughter by singing along with it
Cadbury Mini Eggs - always good for a craft project, also good - chocolate covered cinnamon bears

So tried to be all scientific about measuring it all out and evenly dividing the wreath for colors, etc.  But it ended up not working very well anyway, so I'd just pick your main color and start wrapping.  In this case, I started a little off  the top (there was supposed to be another section of the green at the top) with the turquoise yarn.  I glued down the edge and started wrapping, occasionally gluing the yarn to the wreath.  When I got to where the green was to start, I tied the two colors together and glued it in place, leaving me with tails all over the back.  When it was all wrapped, I ended by gluing the last end down, and then trimming all the tails.  Okay, so I'm a little meticulous when it comes to crafting, thus the anxiety over measuring and marking it all out to begin with. Luckily, my sister, Leslie, was here and she coaxed me through the "it's not coming out even" part above and it was fine.

However, for the banner, my exact measurements worked really well.  I printed and cut out various sizes of triangles I had manipulated into banner shape so I could see which size fit best.  I knew I wanted "spring" on the wreath, so I laid out that many triangles on a ruler across the wreath.  I know Leslie is laughing at me right now, but it worked and saved me much frustration!
And now I can tell you that my flags are exactly 2 1/2" tall each. :)

After deciding on which size, I traced the paper onto a piece of cardboard to use as a template for tracing and cutting out the burlap.  Oh, after I traced the shapes but before I cut out the burlap, I ironed on some interfacing to the back side of the burlap.  This made it easier to cut, stiffened up the flags, and kept them from fraying as much.

I fully intended on stenciling the letters on with paint, but wanting this wreath to be done, I looked through my stash of scrapbook stuff for something easier.  That's when I came across some chipboard letters I had.  Perfect!!  I hot glued them on, then glued the flags on to the rick rack.  Glue one edge of the rick rack on the front of the wreath, then wrap around to the back, and then stretch the banner taut, and do the same on the other side.

For the felt flowers, I did two different kinds:  described here - just a circle cut into spiral and then rolled, and also my felt square just cut into one long strip and rolled.  The circle way worked a little better.  I glued all three of them together and then glued the whole group onto the wreath.

Finally, attach your ribbon to the top and hang it up.  I'm no bow-tyer, so this is the best I could come up with, but I'm happy with it.  My first wreath, it makes me happy every time I look at it.  Now I'm just hoping the wind doesn't blow it off the door.

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