Jan 31, 2012

Oh the Sensitive Child: A real mommy moment

I know that I have it easy compared to the mothers out there that have to take care of children with birth defects, long term illnesses and mental disabilities.  I don't envy them in the slightest but have such a sense of awe towards them for what they do on a daily basis.  I do however have my own set of challenges (as we each do) and though it probably seems insignificant to many it is very exhausting and frustrating to me.  It is my little sensitive souls that I am raising.  And I am not talking about sensitive as in emotions.  I am talking about having a child that no longer wants to wear pants that have seams in them because they itch (if someone has a solution to that problem please let me know), who won't even step foot into something if she sees that it has a tag, that has to have on an undershirt under every top that has a button, seam, decoration or ruffle and who sometimes won't even try it on even if there is an undershirt because it looks like there is a button, seam, decoration or ruffle.  The child that doesn't want you to touch her with wet hands or hands that have lotion or smell like they might have had lotion, who won't always give you a kiss because you "smell", who does not want to wash her hands and if you can convince her too she refuses to use soap (try explaining that to teachers), the child that doesn't like cheese but likes grated up cheese, but doesn't like the rice kind of grated up cheese (which has somehow turned into every kind of grated up cheese though she still insists you buy the right kind only you have no idea what the right kind is cause you don't have a clue what "rice" kind of grated up cheese is).  She has a meltdown if she gets a drop of water on her because she doesn't like to be wet.  She won't even spit in the sink if there is a spot of water on the side by her.  She doesn't like it when my hair is wet and might touch her and she doesn't like it when it is dry and smells like something.  She is the child that prior to my own child raising years I would have labeled as a big brat.  Now I am dumbfounded as to how this even happened and what I am to do about it.  Plus she is influencing her little sister and now I have two little "tag Nazis" who have to have the tags cut off of everything.  I hate getting dressed time because I don't know what to pick and I hate getting something half way on only to have a meltdown and a complete switch to something new.  I used to feel some sort of doom that my child would be the one wearing sweat pants until she was 10 but now I am just grateful there is a type of pants that she does want to put on.  Is it giving in every time?  I have found it near to impossible to do anything else.  I don't find it necessary to have a battle for her to wash her hands with soap.  Antibacterial wipes seem to be a good substitution thus far.  If I do say "you are putting this on no matter what" she sometimes will, only to fall down and scream because it is itching her.  That is not helpful when you are trying to get out the door.  Like I said I know it is so insignificant in the grand scheme of things but it is so frustrating and sometimes a bit hurtful raising one of these sensitive little souls.  How do I manage?  At some point she is going to have to do things even if she doesn't like them just because that is how it is.  Should I be pushing it more right now?  Am I raising a big brat?  If so I never in a million years meant to do it.
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Jan 30, 2012

Make Ahead Monday: Chicken Stock

I always feel a little guilty throwing away my chicken bones/turkey bones.  Seems like the "pioneerish" side of me should be putting those things to better use.  Perhaps some of you have never had a second thought about tossing chicken bones into the garbage.  Well maybe this will peak your interest.  You know how when you are at the grocery store or Sams Club and they have those divine smelling rotisserie chickens or the grocery store has whole chickens on sale for a smokin deal and you can't resist?  Well I think I am the number one fan of roast chicken.  It has been my favorite food since I was a kid.  One thing that I am not so fond of is carving said bird.  I am a terrible chicken carver/turkey carver.  Because of that I always end up with lots of bits and pieces left on the bone.  Since discovering/reinventing this way to make chicken stock I no longer feel like that is a problem.  I look at it like extra flavor for a super batch of chicken stock.  The original recipe for this comes from the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook (don't you just love them).  I revised the recipe since the original calls for raw chicken parts and I am never going to be buying raw chicken parts just to make stock.  So this recipe is made with leftovers from that big chicken dinner you had.  The smell and flavor are excellent.  Did I mention it can be frozen for later use?
The recipe:
2 chicken carcasses (sorry to use that word but you know what I mean-the whole body, and any extra bones, meat, skin etc.)
1 medium onion
2 bay leaves or 1 tbsp of crushed bay
2 quarts water
1 tbsp oil
dash of salt and pepper if desired.

Begin by chopping your onion (doesn't have to be minced-it is just for flavor)
Heat oil in a large stock pot.  Add onion and saute until translucent.
Add all chicken parts and cover with a lid.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 20-30 minutes.  If it seems like the chicken is burning rather than slowly browning reduce your heat.  You basically are sweating it out.  After your 20 minutes increase heat to medium high, add 2 quarts of warm water, the bay and the salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then cover, and reduce heat to medium to simmer for another 20 minutes.  When the time is up, remove from heat and cool.  Once cool place a large measuring cup or bowl under a sieve and pour stock through to strain off the onion and all the chicken meat and parts.  Now you can throw them away feeling like you got everything out of them.  Refrigerate the stock in order for the fat to rise to the surface.  Skim off fat.  You should have about 6 cups of stock.  I pour mine into baggies in 2 cup proportions.  I do this by putting a bag in a 2 cup measuring cup like this: 
 I fill it up to the 2 cup mark plus a bit more to make up for any wrinkles in the bag.  Place bags in a shallow dish and freeze until firm.  Having them lay flat like this makes them easier to store in your freezer in most cases.
That is it.  Really not complicated and so delicious.  And can I just say the smell of your house while making this is heavenly.
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Jan 26, 2012

Repurposed OJ Bottle for Craft Storage

Doesn't everyone need more storage containers in their craft room?  I am in desperate need.  I guess that is why this:
 Caught my eye and got me thinking-that would be a prime storage container.  The idea was inspired by this tutorial over at Make it and Love it.  I basically followed her same technique only on a bigger container and then I added my label to the front.  The inside is painted with craft paint.  I tried spray painting it but it did not cover well at all.  The craft paint went on really nice.  I am saving orange juice containers so I can make a couple more to match. 

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Jan 25, 2012

A work out I like and things I don't like about January

Let's just talk about the month of January for a moment shall we?  I know it is the month of the "new you" and new years resolutions and all that jazz but something just erks me about the plastering and advertising of nothing but weight loss, workout, get slim fast products that we are bombarded with during this month.  Is that all anyone has to make a resolution about?  I mean you walk into these big box stores and the front isles are filled with workout videos, yoga mats, vitamins, slim fast products and workout equipment.  I looked at the Walmart add on line a few weeks ago and all it was all 4 pages was weight loss/healthy lifestyle products.  I don't have a problem with new goals for a healthier you but all the focus on "looks" and being "buff" and "skinny" make me sick.  You don't see the front shelves stocked with childrens books on sale to encourage parents to read more to their kids in the new year, or board games to encourage families to spend more time together.  You don't see a major sale on fruits and vegetables to encourage families to set a goal to eat more produce and feed more to their children.  You don't see advertisements about discovering new talents, or getting out of debt or getting your house in order.  Just weight loss, weight loss, weight loss.  I think it is a bit much world.  Healthy living is important, but so are a lot of other things. 
With that being said, having absolutely nothing to do with the fad of getting slim in the month of January I was looking for a new exercise video.  I new it would be a good time to find one because there would be lots on sale with the big focus on "getting slim" in the new year so I decided to browse the selection for something new to use at my house.  I had been doing a Jillian Michaels 30 day shred video.  I don't know if I shredded anything during the time I did the video.  I am pretty sure she assumes you will follow her diet plan as you are working out and that probably really helps with the shredding part.  I was pretty sure cookies were not on her plan so I didn't bother to check it out.  Here is what I liked about the video: it was 20 minutes and there were 3 levels.  I knew it would all be over in 20 minutes and if I was feeling ambitious I did the more advanced option and if I was feeling not so ambitious I did the "less advanced" option.  So I had been working out with Jillian for a while but felt like it was not pushing me at all (there wasn't enough sweating happening and I think the basis of working out is that there should be some sweat involved).  So during the month of January sales on work out videos I picked up this:
And I LOVE IT!!!!!  My body and bed still have a daily battle as to who will win in the morning but when I do get up and do this video I feel so great.  Here is what I love about it:
#1. You can make it as long or as short as you want because you choose what you want to do. You can choose between a warm up, level 1 (which is 20 mins), level 2 (10 mins), level 3 (10 mins) and a cool down.  You can select any combination of those levels.
#2. The people in the video are real contestants from the Biggest Loser and are therefore not a skinny stick in a sports bra telling you that if you want to have a flat butt like the girl on the video you need to do the exercise a certain way.
#3. The people in the video are at different levels of "fit" and therefore it is not like watching a little army of stick people are marching at exactly the same pace.  If I can't get up from the burpees that fast I know I can look up and find one of my workout partners on the video lagging behind as well.
#4.  The instructors are encouraging without being annoying.
#5. It makes you sweat-a lot.
#6.  And this kind of goes along with #2 but the people are all wearing a full set of clothing.   When I used to do the shred my girls would come in and take off all their cloths besides panties because that is what the workout ladies looked like to them. 
I am not recommending this video to the skinny minnies out there that are already in good shape.  You go ladies and more power to you.  I am recommending this video to the women (and men) like me that are not fans of a workout but know we need to do it, who have a slight addiction to cookies and don't have all the time in the world to devote to fitness. 
I am super happy with this purchase.  It was a great way to spend my $10.00 on fitness for the year.
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Homemade can rotating system...the upgraded version

After posting this on my blog last week: (a can rotating system made from a soda pop box)
 my friend called and asked if it was able to hold two layers of cans?  She said she had success with one holding two layers of soup cans but wondered if it could hold two layers of canned beans, corn, tomatoes etc.  You know the 15 oz sized cans.  I said it could not but it hadn't even dawned on me that there was probably a way to make it so that it could hold more cans then the 7 that could already fit in it.  So my mind began racing and during nap time I used a soda pop box, some cardboard and a whole lot of duct tape and created this:
It successfully holds 11 cans and rotates pretty darn slick.  I was planning on making my creation into a tutorial as I went but I soon looked at my creation and realized it looked like a 5th grade science project and needed to refine the process and figure out a way to use a lot less duct tape before the tutorial so stay tuned folks. There is hope.
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Jan 24, 2012

Divided Wire Basket With Labels Getting Organized Part 4

This is the last of my getting organized desk or home office set-a divided wire basket with labels.
For this project you need:
1 of these wire baskets (though you could probably accomplish something similar with another kind of basket)
Heavy cardboard
Fabric scraps
Pellon ultra firm stabilizer scraps
Labels printed on fabric (leftover from the previous projects)
Sticky backed Velcro

Start by measuring the width of the basket.
Next measure the height
Cut two pieces of cardboard with those dimensions.
Place the cardboard in the basket like so:
Using one of the side wires of the basket trace the correct angle on the cardboard.
Cut with a sharp knife and fit back into the basket.

On the angled side mark two dots for holes an inch from the top and bottom.
Punch holes with an eyelet tool or a large nail.  Spray paint the cardboard pieces to match the basket or your decor.
From the fabric scraps cut 3  3 1/2" squares (or as many as you want labels).
Fold it in half right sides together.
Stitch along one side and the top.
Turn right side out.
Insert a small piece of ultra firm stabilizer (3 x 1 1/2").  Iron to the fabric label.
Tuck under the open edges.
Pin in place as well as pinning a piece of ribbon 4" long  (folded in half) on the top.
Sew around all 4 sides catching the ribbon.
Iron on the label printed on fabric.
To attach it to the basket I added two small pieces of  sticky Velcro.

And here is the finished product.  The cardboard pieces are tied on with pieces of coordinating string.  It is a quick and easy upgrade of a plain old basket.

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Jan 23, 2012

Make Monday: Spaghetti baked in garlic bread

I found this recipe for spaghetti baked in garlic bread via Pinterest.  It is a combination of all the things my family loves.  Super easy to make and a complete meal in one dish.  Add a side salad and you are set.  My husband says it makes good leftovers too.
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Last Call for the Pellon Prize Pack Winner

Cindi from Minnesota, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail if you would like to claim your prize.  I have no way to contact you.  You have until Tuesday the 24th at which time I will draw another winner.
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Jan 22, 2012

And the winner is....

Cindi from Minnesota.  I couldn't find your e-mail so please leave a comment with a way to get ahold of you or send me an e-mail.


And for everyone that entered and didn't win, stay tuned next month for another giveaway.
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Jan 20, 2012

Love Birds -No Sew Sweater Penguins

Before Christmas I got the following comment on one of my snowman posts:
Coffee Fueled MamaNov 25, 2011 12:02 PM
Too cute...maybe penguins next? (I'm slightly obsessed with penguins, as my husband will tell you)

At first when I read it I thought, "penguins would be so cute" but I had no idea how I would even make one.  Then the other day I was at the thrift store thumbing through the sweater rack (which is laden with tacky sweaters just waiting to be cut up) and I found a black one.  I decided, "if I can turn a white sweater into a snowman then why not turn a black one into a penguin." So I did just that and these where the end result:
For this project you will need:
1 black sweater (at least size large).  I made these from the body of the sweater because mine had short sleeves.  You could easily make these from the sleeve of a long sleeved sweater.
1 t-shirt
white felt
orange felt
2 small black buttons or flat beads for eyes
wheat or rice to make a weight in the bottom
glue gun
 Begin by laying out your sweater flat. (this is to show you what mine looked like)
In this picture I had cut off the front of the sweater to make my first penguin.  So now this is what is left from the back of the sweater (just so you aren't confused).  Cut up along the side seams to the armpits, then follow the seam along the sleeve up to almost the neck of the sweater and across the top (precision is not important).
This is how it should look:
With the wrong side facing up, fold one side in towards the middle.  Run a bead of glue down the straight edge.
Fold the other side over and press to glue together.  On the upper angled part run a bead of glue again along one side and fold the other side over.  This part is at an awkward angle and is hard to glue but the "ugliness" will be inside so not to worry.
Lastly run a bead of glue along the bottom and press to hold together.
Turn the whole thing right side out once the glue is all set.  To create a weight in the bottom fill a small sandwich bag with wheat, rice, corn or beans.
Place the weight in the tube first and then fill with stuffing.  Don't over stuff it.  Lumps and bumps makes it look cuter.  Fill up to about 2 inches from the top.
Run glue around the inside top and pinch together and hold until firm.
Tie off the penguins head with a piece of yarn.  This can be adjusted as you dress your penguin.
To make the "girly" scarf cut a circle from the t-shirt.
Cut it into a spiral like this.  Stretch this out into a long strip.  Fold in half and cut to make 2 strips.  Tie these around the penguins neck.  The boy scarf is made from one long straight strip.
To form the hat cut a strip of fabric (7-9 inches) wide by about 12  inches long.  Wrap it around the penguins head to see just how big it has to be to fit snug.
With right side up, fold each side in towards the middle and glue where they overlap.  Turn right side out when glue is firm.
Place hat on penguins head, and tie off the top with a piece of string or extra t-shirt material.
Here is how she will look so far:
Using the pattern provided (cut face and belly a quarter inch bigger than the pattern prints), cut out the face and tummy pieces from white felt.  Glue onto penguin with hot glue.
Cut out beak and glue.
Add on eyes
Now glue down the hat just where you want it by lifting up the edge and running a bead of hot glue underneath.
Tada!! So easy, and so cute.  Wouldn't a whole family of these look cute.  Perfect for Christmas, or just winter in general. 
I decided to add a felt heart to my lady penguin and now they are love birds.
How did I do Coffee Fueled Mama?
Happy no sew crafting.
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