Friday, September 30, 2011

What a Week!

We had the most wonderful week!  We traveled 8 hours to visit some friends (of course, it took us longer than that with 5 littles and a pregnant Mama!).  Some other friends traveled much farther and met us there.

Between the three families, we had 18 children!  It was so much fun getting to see friends that we don't get to see often, and the kids were all so well-behaved and got along so perfectly.

We got back home last night, missing our friends but eager to sleep in our own beds.  Now my 3-year-old son keeps complaining that he has nobody to play with.  It's so hard having only four siblings.  =)

My hubby also learned (and became addicted to) the art of pen turning.

(I see a blog post on this in the near future.  I also see the purchase of a lathe.  Oh, the possibilities...)

Now that I'm no longer packing, preparing, traveling, or visiting friends, I'll be getting back to my crafting! I'm hoping to make Little Love #5's Halloween costume tomorrow.

Stay tuned! Pin It

Monday, September 26, 2011

Kid Table Redo

Ok, it's finally time for one of the chalkboard paint projects!!

We had a kids' table and chair set.  You know, the folding kind with the vinyl tops and the matching folding chairs?  Here's a picture of it in the background of another picture I took--that little pink one back there.

Well, those tables are pretty inexpensive.  And they don't hold up very well when they're accidentally left outside on the back deck in the rain.  Especially when the vinyl on top has a couple of small tears.  I didn't get any pictures of it ruined, but the top was absolutely full of water and was a soggy mess.  (The chairs had no tears in the vinyl, so they made it through the rainstorm fine.)

I was about to pitch the whole table, when my wonderful hubby stepped in!  In the blink of an eye, he had the top removed off the frame.  The still-perfect, foldable, metal frame. 

He then got a piece of plywood and sanded it down nice and smooth.

He ran to the hardware store and bought some small brackets and screws.

He cut the wood down to the right size and sanded the edges.

He then primed it, painted one coat of chalkboard paint a few hours later, and did a final coat of chalkboard paint a few days later.

Now we have a nice, new, fun chalkboard table in our classroom!!

I LOVE chalkboard paint!!

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Halloween Banner!

We are sooooo in the Halloween mood around our house!  We got all of the decorations out today and had a ton of fun deciding where to put things and turning on the light-up things.  I think the kids' favorite part is putting all the window clings on the windows and mirrors.

I recently saw this awesome homemade Halloween banner at Organize and Decorate Everything.  I simply fell in love with it!  I showed it to my kids who were as excited about it as I was.  So we made our own!

Ours isn't nearly as pretty as the original one that Leanne made.  But interesting things happen when kids ages 8, 6, 4, 3, and 1 are turned loose with markers, paper, and glue.  Of course, Mama helped out the little ones a bit, and I cut most of the triangles out (can you pick out the one my daughter cut out herself?).  Some of them got turned in wonky directions, but they're all fun!

Here's a ghost, some unknown one-year-old creation, and Frankenstein:

A jack-o-lantern, an owl, and a vampire:

Another unidentified one-year-old creation, a candy corn, and a spider:

A mummy, a ghost, and a werewolf:

Another candy corn, another jack-o-lantern, and another vampire (sorry for the blurriness).

I love the ideas the kids came up with!!  It was so much fun and so easy.  What a great way to spend a rainy morning!
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Woven Headbands

Can you tell I really love making fun and pretty things for my girls' hair?  And I found out recently that we're going to have our fourth girl soon!!  Yay, more fun, pretty hair stuff!  The boys are getting a bit out-numbered, though...

Anyway, last night my neighbor and friend, Brooke, came over to make some woven headbands with me.

Unfortunately, I can't do a tutorial for you all.  I bought the most awesome instructions from No Bow...No Go!, so I can't post the instructions here.  But you should check out her site.  She has some free tutorials and lots of other great ones.  Her one for woven headbands shows you how to make all sorts of different designs, and her instructions and pictures are beautifully clear.  One of my favorites is the Christmas one.

I also like making holiday-themed ones, like this one for Independence Day.

Halloween is coming up, so I see some really cute ones in the immediate future!  

One of the best things about woven headbands is that you can clip a clippie to the ribbons.  So there are so many cute things you can do with them!

On a different note, I finally started 2 projects with the chalkboard paint, but you have a to wait a few days before you can write on it.  So those posts will hopefully be ready later this week!

What have you been working on lately?

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Quick Tip #3 -- Cleaning your Microwave

Ok, I know I haven't done much crafting this week.  But it's been a crazy week!  I promise I'll have a craft post on Monday!!

Anyway, back to your microwave.  I don't know about you, but my microwave tends to get all yucky.  I don't even understand how it gets so yucky so quickly!  I won't even show a before picture.  But I learned a quick and easy way to get all of those yucks out, without using any kind of nasty cleaners or chemicals.

First, get a glass container with 3-4 cups of water.

Put it in the microwave and run it for five minutes.

When the microwave finishes, don't open it.  Let it sit undisturbed for another five minutes.  The water will steam up the inside of the microwave, loosening any hard, dried yucks inside.  You then simply wipe the microwave out with a sponge, rag, or paper towels.  If there are any stubborn spots, simply dip your scrubber into the hot water (careful not to burn yourself) and continue to scrub it.  It'll come right off.

You'll be left with a nice, sparkly clean microwave!

I've heard of people adding lemon juice or vinegar to the water, but I've never found that necessary.  Plain water works every time!  Now, go scrub out your microwave (you know it needs it), and let me know how well this method worked for you!

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

And he calls ME gross?!?!?

Ok, so we went shopping tonight, and I came home hungry (of course, I'm in my second trimester, so I'm always hungry).  I wanted a yummy late-evening snack.  I picked up some mac-and-cheese and tuna fish while at the store.  This is NOT normal fare in our house.  We don't buy much of anything in a box.  But the craving came over me, and I couldn't resist.

So, health detriments aside, you have Kraft Mac-n-cheese.  Can you say YUM?!?  Make it up and mix in a can of chunk light tuna.  Can you say SUPER YUM?!?!?  

But my hubby--who lacks the finer things in life, like decent tastebuds--says that I'm gross.  I finally convinced him to taste it once, and he did admit at that moment that it wasn't too bad.  He won't admit that now.  But he dares to call ME gross for eating something so delicious!!

Now, this is the man who is the king of all grossness when it comes to grabbing a snack.  He also came home from the store hungry.  Want to know what he grabbed for his late-evening snack?

That's right.  What you see there, folks, are some frozen sweet potato fries (also not normal fare in this house--he dug them out from the back of the freezer somewhere).  But did you catch that?  FROZEN!!  Not as in, "He pulled out some frozen sweet potato fries so that he could bake and eat them."  No, frozen as in, "HE'S EATING THEM FROZEN!!!!"  He also eats frozen hot dogs.

I love my Mr. Man with all of my being, but he sure is gross.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Upcoming Projects

I have so many projects in the air, I don't know where to start!

My Mr. Man decided to go through his closet and cull out the clothes he doesn't wear anymore.  So now I have this wonderful pile of nice t-shirts, men's shirts, and even wool sweaters!

Oh, the ideas going through my mind are so numerous!  Wool diaper covers for the new baby (we found out it's going to be another girl!  So we'll have 4 girls and 2 boys.  Lots of estrogen in the house.), dresses for the girls, boxers for the boys, latex-free pants and dresses for Little Love #5...

Speaking of latex and LL#5, I need to get her Halloween costume made.  We have tons of hand-me-down costumes from older cousins, but have you ever seen a store-bought costume with no elastic?  Nope.  So I'm making hers.  Here's the fleece for it.  I bet you can guess what she's going to be?  Tutorial coming soon...

I also finally bought some chalkboard paint!  I have one awesome idea in mind to do with it (tutorial on that coming later this week), but I'll still have a lot left over.  So I'm eyeing all sorts of things in my house, but haven't had anything jump out at me screaming that it just NEEDS to be painted with chalkboard paint!

I also have some Halloween hair clips to make right away, school to teach to my kids, and I need to make time to get outside in the glorious fall weather!!  So lots of fun things coming up, stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you all had a full can of chalkboard paint, what would you do with it?
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Friday, September 9, 2011

The Boy Who Cried Wolf--A 6-year-old's Interpretation

Ok, so when my 8-year-old daughter gets hurt, she really lets up a wail.  It can be a paper cut, and you'd think she's dying.  So I recently told her and her 6-year-old brother the story of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."  My son, in particular, listened with rapt interest.

(Ok, I know that picture is not of a wolf.  It's my 3-year-old with our dog.  But I LOVE that picture, so I thought I'd throw it in here anyway.)

The other day, I was sitting on our back deck while the kids played in the yard.  My 6-year-old was under the deck, playing in the rocks with his 4-and-3-year-old sister and brother, when I heard him tell them, "Let me tell you the story of the boy who cried wolf!"

I perked up, and he continued, "There was a boy out in the field, and he yelled, 'Wolf!  Wolf!'  And all the people came running.  And he said, 'HaHa, you look sooooo funny!'  So they went away.  Then, the next day, he went out in the field and yelled, 'Wolf!  Wolf!'  And all the people came running.  And he said, 'Haha, you look soooooooo funny!'  So they went away.  So the next day, he went out and cried, 'Wolf!  Wolf!'  And nobody came, but two big wolves came and ate him up!  So never go out in the field and cry, 'Wolf! Wolf!'"

My 4-year-old asked with awe in her voice, "Why not?"

To which my 6-year-old, in all his wisdom, reponded, "Because when you go out in the field and cry 'Wolf!  Wolf!' it calls the wolves, so they hear you and come and eat you!"

*Sigh*  So much for that object lesson.  I can only imagine what his little 6-year-old boy's mind does to other lessons I try to teach him... Pin It

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sausage and Rice Skillet -- Gluten-Free!

Here's another one of our favorite recipes.  It's sooooooo easy to make and easy to change-it-up for some variety.  Can you tell we like sausage?  And rice?  And cheese?  (If you missed my last cheesy sausage recipe, catch it here.)

Here's what goes into it:

3 cups rice (measured dry)
1 lb sausage (any kind)
beans (any kind), however much you want
corn (canned, fresh, or frozen), however much you want
stewed tomatoes (canned or make your own)

Start your rice cooking.  Once again, I use my rice cooker so that I don't even have to think about it again until I'm ready for it.

While that's cooking, get out your sausage.  My absolute favorite sausage for this meal is Whole Foods' spinach feta chicken sausage.  It's soooooooo delicious!!

My Mr. Man's favorite in this is chorizo.  We've made this recipe using all different kinds of sausage.  Each one adds its own flavor, so that's an easy way to add variety to this recipe.  I usually throw in whatever we happen to have around.  If you're making this recipe gluten-free, make sure that your sausage and other ingredients are all gluten-free.

Squeeze your sausage out of its casing and brown it.

Once it's browned, you'll be adding everything else.  If you have a large skillet, you'll be able to do everything in it.  If not, put your sausage into a large pot and add everything there.

Add your cooked rice...

...add your stewed tomatoes...

...add your beans (this is another way to add variety to this meal.  My favorites in this recipe are black beans, but I'll grab whatever I happen to have the most of in the freezer.  Right now it's pinto beans, so pinto it is!)...

...and add your corn.

Mix it all up and let it cook until it's all heated through.

Once it's all finished, top with cheese.  I typically use a fiesta blend, but right now I have a huge bag of cheddar, so I used that.  See how much you can switch this up and how easy it is to just use whatever you have on-hand?  I typically scoop some out for my Little Love #5 before I add the cheese, since she's severely allergic to dairy.  However, since the sausage I used already had cheese in it, she can't eat this batch anyway.

Once the cheese is melted, it's ready to enjoy!  Mr. Man loves eating it on chips.  I love simply eating it with a fork.  

So go make some and let me know what your favorite sausage and bean combo is!
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Hair Bow Tutorial

A while back I posted pictures of these hair clips that my friend, Brooke, taught me how to make:

A couple of you have asked me for a tutorial on how to make them, so here it is!  They're really quick and simple.  

Start out by making yourself some helping forms.  These were cut out of a cardboard box.  

Both are around 4 1/2" long, and the cut-out part in the middle is 2 1/2" long.  The big one is 4" wide, the small one is 2 3/4" wide, and the cut-out is 1" wide.

Pick what ribbons you want to use for the larger, bottom layer and for the smaller, top layer.  In the ones above I used a satin ribbon on bottom and a sheer on top.  For the one today I used a part-sheer 1 1/2" wide ribbon on bottom, a sheer 3/4" one on top.  Feel free to mix it up and try new things!  Scroll down for a few more examples.

Start by cutting the larger ribbon to a point on the end.  Don't forget to burn the ends so they don't unravel.  Using the larger form, put the point 1/2 on the form, 1/2 off, and wrap it 3-4 times.  I did 3 wraps here.  Cut the other end to a point.  Both points should be pointing toward the outside.  Put a clip on it in the form cut-out to hold the ribbon for you while you thread a needle.  Don't forget to burn the other end of the ribbon.  (I don't measure the ribbon out ahead of time.  I wrap the ribbon while it's still on the spool then cut it off at the end--that way, there's no wasted ribbon.)

Thread a needle with a single strand of embroidery floss, or something equally strong (thicker than just plain thread).  Slide the ribbon gently off the form and start sewing.  I find it works better to begin with the needle coming up, end with it going down.  Here it is off the form with the needle started in it.

Do several stitches across all the ribbon layers.  Don't pull the needle through the fabric yet--first, bunch the ribbon on the needle into a bow, like this:

Pull the thread halfway through, so there's a long length of thread on either side of the bow.  Wrap it tightly in both directions and tie in a double knot.  This is the bottom layer of the bow.  Leave the tails of your string long.

Do the same thing with the smaller ribbon on the smaller form.  (Sorry, I didn't get pictures of this.  It essentially looks the same as above.)  Lay the smaller bow on top of the larger bow, making sure that all the tails are pointing the same direction.  Take the long ends on the large bow and wrap them tightly around both bows, tying them together.

Now it's time to wrap the center.  The bows at the top of this post use eyelash yarn.  On this bow, I decided to use a white feather boa.  You can tie or hot glue these, depending on what your preference is.

The possibilities and variations with this are endless.  The other day, I found some lace in the clearance section at Wal-Mart.  Each bubble held 9 feet of lace, and they were on sale for $0.50 each!!

I knew I had to use some on one of these bows.  This is the final result:

How gorgeous is that?

I recently received a gift with this adorable ribbon on it:

Not wanting to cover up or detract from the sparkly flowers, I decided to make a single-layer bow out of it.  For the center, I used a simple, sparkly silver flower.

So go make some bows!  Be creative with ribbons, textures, beads, and whatever else you have laying around.  I'd love to see what you make, so please feel free to e-mail me photos!
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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Quick Tip #2 -- Laundry

Keeping up with laundry for 7 people is something I've been struggling with for years.  Especially when 5 of those people are tiny people who seem to go through a lot of laundry in any given day.

I had three large laundry bins in my laundry room, which were constantly overflowing.  I felt like I was doing tons of laundry all the time, yet my son would still ask me, "Do I have any clean boxers?  There are none in my drawer."  It was constantly hanging over my head.

Then I discovered this tip over at "I'm an Organizing Junkie."  Like she said it did to her, it changed my life.

I no longer have bins in my laundry room for colors, whites, etc.  I no longer have mountains of laundry ruling my life.  Guess what?  I've been 100% caught up on laundry in my house for TWO WEEKS!!  That means that everything is washed, folded, and put away.  This system is MIRACULOUS!!!

Every person in the family has their own laundry basket in their room.  Each person is assigned to a day of the week.  And each person's clothes get washed on their day--no sorting of colors, etc (unless it's a fancy white dress or something like that).  For example, on Mondays I wash Little Love #1's and Little Love #2's clothes.  They're both small, and their clothes are small, so I put them all together into one load.  When they're dry, I pull them out of the dryer and fold them immediately into their own laundry basket.  Since #1 is a girl and #2 is a boy, it's a no-brainer as I fold--no thinking required.  They each get their basket back and put everything away.  Then I wash Mr. Man's work clothes, and am done for the day!  Tuesdays I do my clothes and Mr. Man's clothes.  Wednesday I do miscellaneous ones--like throw blankets or whatever--or none at all.  Wednesdays are crazy around here.  Thursdays I do #5's clothes and towels.  Fridays are #3's and #4's clothes and, again, any miscellaneous loads that may need to be done.  Every other day I also do a load of cloth diapers.  Saturdays are also for anything miscellaneous or anything I missed during the week if my schedule got thrown off.

I'm not strict with this schedule.  If I look around and see a load that really needs to be done, I may go ahead and do it on another day.  My laundry room is right off of our classroom, so it's really easy to switch loads while the kids are doing schoolwork.

And all of the clothes get picked up off the kids' bedroom floors on a regular basis.  They're actually doing really well at keeping them in their baskets, actually.  So no more of this:

What a great system!!  Now, my laundry room is actually getting organized.  I may actually post a picture of it some day.  =)

Do you have any great laundry tips that have revolutionized your life?

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