Thursday, January 31, 2013

A little heads up....

Sooo... tomorrow's blog is going to be a little different.  I want to explain now, so that tomorrow I can get right into the purpose of the blog and not have to give some lengthy explanation for my loyal readers.

About a year and a half ago I shared with you guys about one of my favorite blogs, Kelly's Korner.  I have been reading her blog for about 3 years now.  I found her blog through another blog I read, and since have found blogs to read from her posts. 

She has this thing every Friday called "Show Us Your Life".  The topics range from your favorite soup recipe, to showing off rooms in your house, to sharing parenting tips.  I actually found Kelly's blog through another blogger who had linked up with her one time.

Kelly is a Christian and is not afraid to share it.  She has a heart for many things, but one of them is singles.  More specifically, single women.  So a while back she had an idea to do a singles themed "SUYL" and sort of have all of her readers play match maker.  You can read a little about it here and here.  It went so well that she has done it a few times since.

Guess what?  There are EIGHT couples who are either married or engaged.  8!!!!!!  I know at least 5 are married.  Um, that's a better record than the bachelor!

Back when I read her first update on how so many were getting married/engaged, I sent the link to my friend Laurie.  I told her that the next time Kelly did this type of link up, I was going to write a blog about her.  She was all game.  Well, the time has come.  Tomorrow's SUYL link up is for singles!  Therefore, tomorrow's post will be all about my friend Laurie.  Y'all can be praying for good things!

If you have a single friend that would love to be hooked up, you could write a blog about them.  Or send them the way of Kelly's blog to see if there are any prospects.  Especially if you have a single male.  It's just natural that there are going to be more girls participating then boys.  I've known a few sisters who have written about their brothers.  I doubt most guys are going to be checking it out though.  SO help them out.  Send them in the right direction.  Or, do the "research" yourself and send them a link to an appropriate blog.  Sounds fun, right?  I mean.... EIGHT!  That's pretty stinking impressive.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pinterest: 2 delights and a dud

 Ok, so I didn't actually get this first recipe from Pinterest... but it was still from the internet, so it's essentially the same thing, right?  I had this bag of carrots sitting in my fridge waiting for me to peel, chop, and steam for Olivia.  The problem is that Olivia has decided she no longer likes carrots.  Then there was the fact that we eat the same list of steamed vegetables all the time (peas, green beans, broccoli, corn, squash, repeat.)  I was sick of it, so I went on a hunt for a good carrot recipe.  I found this.  Honestly, I'm not sure Michael is that big of a carrot fan in general either, but he will eat pretty much anything I put in front of him.

Glazed Mini Carrots
They were super easy to make and I loved them.  Of course, they used a ton of butter, but I'm sure you could use a little less.  Olivia even ate a few.  I didn't use baby carrots, because I had a bag of regular carrots so I just used slices.

So... the funny thing with this recipe is that neither Michael or I really even like buffalo chicken.  But I saw one friend post about this on another friend's facebook feed.  It was over a year ago, long before I even became remotely active on Pinterest.  Then a few days later friend B wrote back to friend A saying that they loved them and had made them twice that week.  I've NEVER made the same meal twice in one week unless it was because I was reheating leftovers.  I had to know what the buzz was about.  I stalked them on Pinterest, found the recipe and decided to make it.  Good thing too, because we love it.  It's actually one of Michael's favorite meals.  In fact, I just made it this last week and used the rest of our hot sauce.  I don't mess with the green onions.  Michael doesn't like avocado, so he eats his without.  I have no idea why you need to use the seasoning for the chicken.  I don't think you can taste anything but the sauce.  I've never tried it without though.  We are relatively wimpy when it comes to spicy food, so we also have this with a glass of milk.  Of course, Olivia eats something different on these nights.  Like hummus... which she loves but we hate. It's a win/win. :)

 Remember how I said I was sick of eating the same old veggies every week?  Well Olivia loves zucchini.  Seriously, I think she could eat an entire steamed zucchini a day if I'd let her.  So when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I thought I'd give it a try as a dinner side for all of us.

Now I am not a complete idiot in the kitchen, but mine didn't look anything like the ones pictured.  Not only that, but they didn't taste good either.  We all ate them--well, Michael and I did.  Olivia spit hers out--but I didn't save the leftovers.  They were gross.  If the zucchini lover won't eat them, then you know they are bad.  She'd rather hers be completely plain.  I won't be making these again.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Valentine's Day Sensory Box

As I mentioned, the winter sensory box didn't happen.  Not because I forgot about it, but mostly because I couldn't come up with a cool idea for it.  She enjoyed the fall one (even in Decemeber), so I knew I wanted to do a Valentine's Day one.  I want to make it worth my while, so we started this week and will use it all through February (and maybe even into March).

The box

It's contents (and where I got it)
1. I saw these really cute burlap hearts at Hobby Lobby, but I didn't want to pay $2 a heart.  I looked for burlap to make my own, but they were out of the regular brown color.  Burlap would be a fun texture to throw in, huh?  Anyway, I bought a 50 cents piece of fun felt and made my own little heart pillow.  I already had the other supplies.

2. When digging through my scrapbook stuff (see #9), I found this really textured piece of red stuff--it's not paper, I don't know what to call it.  Anyway, I was going to try to use the heart punch on it, but it wouldn't work.  I just cut two big hearts from it.  It was sort of scratchy like burlap would have been.

3.  These came in a 3 pack from Hobby Lobby.  All of their Valentine's Day stuff was 30% off.  I want to say these were originally $1.50?!

4. I had a gift card to Target, so I picked up a few things from the dollar section.  I thought window clings would be a fun addition to the box.  These turned out to be Olivia's favorite.

5. I used a box of leftover flower petals from our wedding.  FREE!

6. I bought a pack of doilies at HL. They were around a dollar.  I used some in the box and I am going to attempt to use the others with Olivia for an art project. Double whammy!

7. A pack of four ribbons for a dollar from Target.  (Thank you gift card!)

8. These were also from the dollar spot at Target.  Isn't that place great?  There are 6 little clothes pins with hearts on the top.  Great for fine motor skills!

9. I punched out some hearts with random scraps of craft paper that I had. FREE!

10. I bought a pack of feathers from Hobby Lobby.  After using feathers at Olivia's birthday party, I knew these had the potential to be a little messy, but I wanted the box to be full.  The pack was around $2 and definitely helped to make the box!

All in all the whole thing probably costed around $10.  But since I used a gift card for $3 worth of the items, and a coupon for 40% off one of the items, it ended up costing me around $6.  Not too bad!  The best part is, that Olivia won't remember these next year so I can use them all again! :)

I could barely get the bucket on the floor and she was digging in!

As she found each ribbon, they went right around her neck.  Imagine that!

Like I said, the window clings were definitely her favorite.
She added the word "sticky" to her vocabulary.

When Michael saw all the supplies I bought for the box, he asked if I could wait to show it to her until he was here.  How sweet is that? Because of our crazy week, it ended up that we did it over the weekend.
He put the window clings on his glasses and this is the look Olivia gave him.  Yep, she's mine. :)

Some of the rose petals were silk and some of them were sheer.  That was nice, because it gave an extra component for us to talk about, feel, listen to, etc.

Oh look--another "scarf"

This is fun!
There was another item that wasn't pictured.  You can see it in the bottom right picture.  They were 3D foam roses purchased from Hobby Lobby.  Olivia wasn't impressed.

This was her favorite sensory box yet.  She spent over a half hour playing with it and even then she wasn't sure if she wanted to be done.  She will get a lot of use out of this in the next month or two.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Felt Snowman

Although I had every intention of doing a winter sensory box, it just didn't happen.  (A Valentine's one is in the works though.)  So I was trying to come up with a wintery type of activity that didn't involve crayons or paint.  We do enough of that.

Olivia loves stickers and using magnets, so that got my mind thinking to using felt.  I still have this homemade felt board floating around, and lots of extra felt so I thought this would be a good route to take.  As far as winter goes, Olivia is loving snowmen.  She learned about them in a book and now points them out everywhere.  In fact, she spent much of Friday's Little Gym class talking about a snowman on a fellow classmate's sweater.  A felt "build a snowman" activity sounded brilliant to me!  Some of what I made was just basic cutting.  For others, I sort of used templates I found.  I had to improvise on those too.

Note: We sat down to do this activity and I grabbed my camera.  Unfortunately the battery was dead, so you all get to deal with crappy cell phone pics.  Sorry!

I started out by building a snowman for Olivia to see.

She promptly disassembled my snowman

She was most interested in the little dots that I cut out for buttons and she kept talking about the purple one (saying "purple" over and over).

I decided to try again and I built the 3 snowman parts and asked her if she wanted to give her snowman a hat.  She picked up the top circle and put it on her head for a hat.  Clearly this was not going as planned. :)

I showed her how to "build" it one more time and then let her take it apart and play how she wanted.
She was still learning and having fun... just not quite the way I imagined it would go.

This is after she tried to lick some of the small circles and she realized felt wasn't so yummy.
Ha ha!

 I'm sure there are many more felt projects in our future.  I already have one in the works!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A day at the park

While the rest of the country was having below freezing temps, we were blessed with a few days of mid 70 degree temps.  I knew that I needed to be intentional (hello "journey") and get Olivia outside.  The truth is, even though everyone thinks I'm this extroverted social butterfly, I'm really just an introverted home body.  I have to force myself to go places sometimes.  The park is definitely one of those places.  I'm not really the outdoorsie type.  I use to only take Little Man to the park when a) all else failed, or b) it was a play date and that meant I had built in entertainment.

I honestly debated with myself for quite some time, but then sucked it up and off we went.  I knew Olivia would love it. She loves being outside.  I knew it would be good for both of us, and it was.

You have to walk across a big field to get from the parking lot to the actual playground equipment.  Olivia really enjoys the freedom of just running on her own.
We have been trying to get her to wear sunglasses forever now and she always takes them off immediately.  Though recently she has been getting more and more annoyed with the sun in her eyes.  Since she's still rear facing in the car, this happens often.  There was a pair of sunglasses in the car door and I decided to give it a try.  She actually kept them on!

We've been to the park 3 times in the last month, so when I say we are going to go swing she knows exactly what I'm talking about.  She  loves to swing!  Who doesn't?

She also explored the playground, went down the slide a few times, and played the "drums" on some stepping stools.

There is a path that walks all the way around the park.  There are multiple areas to use, with football and baseball fields and a few other places that have equipment.  We went for a short walk over to the bridge and back.  Then it was time for more swings.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Photo Dump

Sometimes getting pictures uploaded to my computer is complicated.  (I'm running out of storage.)  Sometimes it's just because I'm lazy.  But of course I have all sorts of cute pictures of my little darling, so today I'm just going to do a photo dump.  In case you aren't a regular to blogland, a photo dump is just a blog of random photos you want to share.  This is usually done from pictures of people's iphones, but mine is going to be whatever I have.

This is a picture of Olivia's hair from earlier this month.  You may notice in the more recent pictures that I cut it.  It was getting so long, and I wanted to just let it grow forever, but it was uneven and the bottom wasn't as healthy.  So I cut it.

 Giving her babies baby some love.

 At The Little Gym they teach to say, "Hands down, touch the ground" to do forward rolls.  Well she walks around the house doing this.  She says, "Touch the ground" and then waits from someone to flip her.  Then she stands up and says, "Ta-da!".  She's even started doing it for her baby dolls.

We tried moving her from sleep sacks to sleeping with a blanket and she was NOT a fan.  We are talking hysterics!  But she loves to talk about her blankets.  This was a time when she was getting up from nap.  She asked for her blanket, laid down, and started "snoring".  Silly girl.


Eating a whole banana by herself.  She's so proud.

We went to the park a few weeks ago.  She loves to cheese it up if she knows I'm sending a picture to Boppa.

Don't mind her belly hanging out (her shirt was too small).  I love this picture of her.

We got this play house a while ago off of one of the facebook consignment sales. It was on a different shelf.  She'd play with it briefly when I brought it down for her, but wasn't too into it.  Now that we moved it to the bookshelf, she plays with it often.

Diva!  She decided this week that maybe sunglasses weren't of the devil.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pinterest Recipe Raves

 I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.  Really.  I resisted it for as long as I could, and there are still quite a few things about it that annoy me.  That's a whole post in and of itself.  But, it does have it's benefits.

As I am trying to cook more at home, I am turning to pinterest more and more for ideas and new inspiration.  I figured I'd share a few of our finds with you guys.

I had a thing of cream cheese from a dessert I was suppose to make for an event and then it got canceled.  There sat this thing of cream cheese in my fridge for weeks.  While meal planning and looking on pinterest, I remembered that I had pinned this chicken chili.  I had most of the ingredients, so it went on the list.  It was super easy to make and was really yummy.  Personally, I think I'll dial down the amount of chili powder next time, but Michael really liked it.  What we both liked is that it didn't make a huge amount.  We ate it once for dinner and then ate it again as leftovers.  We probably could have got another serving or two out of it too.  But a lot of recipes make SO much and then we get sick of eating it after a few times.  This was just the right amount.  I will be making this again.

I have a friend who has a pinterest board for "recipes we liked".  Genius, right?  That leads me to one of my pet peeves... people spend HOURS pinning and pinning and liking and pinning and then do absolutely nothing with it.  What a waste of time.  I like "tried and true" recipes.  I may not always agree with the person, but at least I know someone who personally thinks the recipe is good.  So I decided to give this a try.  She wrote in the description that she had finally found a meatball her husband liked, but that she would use a different sauce next time.  This happens to bring me to another pet peeve--people that just copy the exact pin and don't change the words.  When I know for a fact they don't have a son named Easton, or have three daughters, or whatever other random thing that it says that doesn't apply to their life in the least.... Anyway, I like to try a recipe as is at first.  Even though she put that she didn't like the sauce.  We actually really liked this recipe.  The sauce has a kick to it, so if that's not your thing then I would use less (or no) red pepper flakes.  Olivia actually ate it and loved it.  After tasting it myself I was worried that it would be too spicy for her, but she didn't seem to mind.  There were a LOT of onions used and the onion I had was kicking.  I will use less in the meatball portion next time.  Another nice thing... when we use jarred sauce, Olivia's face would be stained orange and it was immediately to the bath.  This sauce didn't leave a mess at all.  This has inspired me to find other sauce options and just to make my own.  Who needs orange dyed spaghetti sauce when you can make your own without?

I can't remember exactly how I came across this recipe.  I'm pretty sure it was a rabbits trail from some pinterest post, but who knows.  Anyway, eating a meatless meal is a great way to save money.  Plus, eating beans is a good healthy alternative.  Beans and rice make a complete protein, so this is a good mix.  I know there are tons of black bean burgers out there, but the $2 meal headline caught my eye and I went with it.  We ate these on sandwich thins (instead of a bun) with burger fixings. The texture was a little mushier than I would have liked, but the taste was fine.  Olivia gobbled hers right up and I ended up using the leftovers for her lunches.  This isn't some super favorite recipe.  I'll probably keep looking for a yummy black bean burger, but I'd make this again.

More to come.......