Mini Pinata's are AWESOME!

I found this tutorial from Oh Happy Day through Dollar Store Crafts and it was love at first site.  when I was a little girl my uncle introduced us to having a pinata at Christmas and I've loved having them as part of the celebration for Christmas and birthdays ever since.  I love the idea of mini ones for each person.

Stylish Hair

Abby at My Yellow Sandbox inspired me to start doing my hair almost every day with her "30 hairstyles in 30 days" all that took only 10 minutes or less and even with my now shorter hair I can still do some of the styles like this one:

My DH is very happy :)

I Love Soup in the Fall

And one of my favorites is a really good tomato soup so this time I thought I'd try Simply Modern Mom's recipe for a roasted tomato soup, it sounds simply DELICIOUS!!!

Thanksgiving or Tea Time TeePee

I know that a teepee makes more sense in the summer but I saw this tutorial from Sew, Mama, Sew! and just had to share, I think I'll make it up for my kiddos to use in their playroom.

Paper Dolls Galore!

I love paper dolls so I thought I'd share a few of my favorites today.

I love everything from Green Jello With Carrots and their paper dolls are no exception, my kids use these the most.

Paper Thin Personas has a TON of great paper dolls including a recent list of paper dolls from other artists at Deviant Art

HERE one from the list that I really love.

Do you love paper dolls?  Please share any that you like.

Oprah's Life Class pt 2

I am LOVING this class more and more every week.  This last week the lessons were on life's calling, aging, "When you know better, you do better",  and taking responsibility for your life.  watching this week was harder than last because with DH back home from his conference last week he wants me to be with him not Oprah, not that I blame him, so I've been watching the next day with my DVR and the recorded webcast afterward.  I've really been putting a lot of thought into my "life's calling" lately so Monday was a good one for me, it really helped m clarify that what I really want to do is something that puts me in a position to meet lots of different people and nurture them.  I don't mean mother them, more help them discover who they really are and to feel loved.  I don't care if I get paid for it but it is what I want to do.

I loved the following episodes, the aging beautifully class followed by "Miss Representation" documentary on how women are portrayed unfairly and and image based by the media was a great reminder that not just men but we women place so much more importance on our looks then on mens and not enough on the things that really matter like character and intelligence.  Taking Responsibility was a great class that I've always thought was really important for people to understand and get out of the "victim mentality" or waiting for others to give you what you want.  The episode that impacted me the MOST was definitely "When You Know Better, You Do Better" it was all about how you are not your mistakes and that instead of being a prisoner to them that you need to forgive yourself and realize that not only do we all make mistakes but that we also learn from them and become better.  What really struck me though was that not only is that true for me but also that everyone is doing the best that they know how and that anything they do "to me" doesn't really have as much to do with me as it does where they are right now and all the baggage that they are dealing with.  If I can keep this in mind then not only can I be more patient and forgiving of others but they also have no power to really hurt me.  Jesus on the cross comes to mind when he said "forgive them Father, for they know not what they do" because He would certainly know best just what understanding they really had, no wonder He was able to ask for forgiveness for His tormentors while in the midst of such extreme pain and persecution.

I know that I'm far from perfect and that I won't always have this lesson at the forefront of my mind in trying situations but I am SO grateful for this understanding and the freedom that it gives me o let go of any feelings of hurt and resentment that I have harbored and move forward with love and understanding that we are all doing the best that we can.

Thank you Oprah for my new found freedom.

DIY Dryer Balls

I love dryer balls and all the wonderful things they do for my clothes and now I love them even more because I can make them myself using The Sleepytime Gal's tutorial for these fantastic felted wool ones.

Check out her super easy tutorial HERE.

P.S.  I wrote this post over a week ago and then entered her contest for her "ultimate homemakers giveaway" and WON!!!  Yay!  Thanks Nicole, I can't wait to get it and use it all.

I also wanted to share the link for the rest of her modern mama homemaking series: 

21 Suggestions for Success, A Printable

I saw this on The Mustard Ceiling and thought I'd make a couple printables out if it, I plan on framing it and putting it up in my new house I'll be moving in to very soon.  I still need to play with it and I'll probably never make it perfect  so I'd love it if ou made one yourself and shared a link to it.

Download the first one HERE and the second HERE

A Few Fall Faves

There are a lot of things I think about when fall comes around, colored leaves, pumpkins, cider, etc. and when it comes to clothes it's sweaters and corduroy so I thought I'd throw together a collection of posts that feature my favorite fall things.

HERE is one from Tea Rose Home from way back in '09

and how about This Post from Ashley at Make It and Love It?

Isn't it Darling?

This Recipe looks scrumptious from Sweet Pea's Kitchen

And Last but not least HERE is Simple Mom's post on 45 ways to savor Fall

So what do you love about Fall?

Beautiful Skirt and Blog

Tanya Whelan over at Grand Revival has a tutorial for this beautiful Pleated Wrap Skirt that I just can't wait to make, I think I'll make one for me and one for my now three year old daughter, I might even get ambitious enough to make a dress for my baby girl while I'm at it since the skirt is so easy.

She also creates her own patterns and printed fabrics which I LOVE!!!  and right now she's having a Giveaway for her new book and fabric line coming out in December.

I hope I win.

1 2 3, Math is Easy

Does math make you nervous?  Do you feel completely inept to teach your children math in any form?  Well if you do you are not alone, most of us feel inadequate when it comes to math and esp. when it comes to teaching math but it doesn't need to be hard at all.  Did you know that all math boils down to counting, sorting and patterns?  Really!  Even Geometry, Calculus and Physics are nothing but formulas that are shortcuts to a whole bunch of those two things.  Adding and subtracting are counting more or less of something, multiplication and division are just adding and subtracting several times in a row, the rest just builds from there, and patterns and sorting help you memorize certain figures so you can calculate faster.

So, teaching math to our kids is as easy as picking up their toys, counting fingers and toes, stringing beads, and countless other everyday things you can do with your kids.

I have a tendency to turn everything into a game so we do a lot of these things on the fly like writing my kids names and counting the letters or letting my kids help put away the groceries and asking how they think we should sort them.  My kids love to think of patterns so we clap, color, stack, and string whenever the moods hits.

These same skills are basic for science as well, mammals, reptiles, birds, are sorting, you can chart how many times they brush their teeth or who likes ice cream and who prefers cake, science and math are very interconnected so it's easy to kill two birds with one stone.

So what do you like to do with your kids?

Oprah's Lifeclass

Have any of you been participating in "Oprah's Lifeclass"?  The first class was on ego and the second, tonight, was on anger, they have been WONDERFUL, so many "aha's".

For myself I've realized that when I feel angry it's almost always a way of avoiding the pain and fear I am really feeling, the anger helps me blame the other person instead of really understanding why I'm feeling so hurt or afraid and then dealing with that instead.  It really all goes back to ego, my ego can't take the possible insult and so it focuses on the other persons fault instead of facing the real issue and taking responsibility for my part in it even if my only fault was to allow it to hurt me instead of taking it as an observation or their own issue and moving on.

I can't wait for tomorrows class on "Becoming What You Believe".

A Young Mom's Approach to Talking to Her Kids About Sex

Tara Pringle Jefferson wrote a wonderful article about how an unplanned pregnancy changed her perspective on how she needs to approach the "Sex Talk" with her kids.  You can find it here at My Brown Baby.

I Need a Love Song

I don't know about you but I'm a sucker for a good love song, however, I can't find a love song that speaks to my DH and me, I'm cheesy, he isn't, I love James Taylor, Harry Connick Jr. and Sting, he loves Coldplay, swing music and Mumford & Sons, it's a conundrum.  (I love that word.)

He knew he was going to marry me before we even met, he saw me from the back of an Institute class, I always sit in the front, and went home and told his family that he saw the girl he was going to marry and when we finally did talk it was like I'd known him forever, we went swing dancing the next night, he asked if he could kiss me at the end of our 12 hour date of mostly just talking and I almost said no.  I can't explain it but for the first week I kept saying I didn't really want to date him, just be friends, he told me he'd give me all the space and time I wanted and by week two I was asking him if he would like blond kids.  We were engaged week four and married at week 10.

He's my best friend and my biggest fan, he can bring me back to center with just a look or a touch and has been able to since the moment we met.  He brings out my truest self and wants nothing more than for me, and our children, to be happy.

He also drives me crazy and pushes me in places I didn't know I needed to grow.  Our love is better than any love song or fairy tale I've ever heard and harder than "happily ever after".  Most of the "hard" is because I want to be the perfect wife for him, I want him to come home to harmony instead of chaos, I want to be a good housekeeper but I SUCK at housekeeping.  I want to be everything for him, not because he's everything for me but because he's everything I need him to be and if I was stranded on an island I'd be perfectly happy with just him and our kids for company, he really is my very best friend.

Now add all the nights he's stayed up until 4am talking with me because I was upset or just because.  I don't love him "Like a Love Song" I love him with all the best and worst of myself.  How do you put all of that into a love song?  Maybe I don't really need a love song for him but I'd sure like one, one that tells him all of this and is still "cool", any ideas?

Stuffed Toy Pattern Freebies

You may remember when I made this darling teddy bear for my DS a while back and then I made this elephant pattern and now I have made an option for the teddy to be a bunny and finished patterns to make a giraffe, lion, and a doll so if any of you would like the patterns let me know and I'll send them your way, your only payment is to send pictures of your creations.  I make mine out of fleece generally but you can make them out of any fabric you prefer.

A Giveaway at Huppie Mama

Want to win one of my necklaces?  Check out Huppie Mama and enter to win my newest design that is only available through her giveaway until next Friday.

Menu Planning Made Easy

I don't know about you but I tend to struggle with dinner time if I don't have it planned out before hand so I thought I'd share with you how I plan my meals to make my meal planning go as quick and easy as possible.

First my Inspiration came from All Things Beautiful's Menu Planner Board

I modified mine a little bit and am still in the process of finishing it so you just get a picture of hers for now.  I didn't put the recipes on mine and I am working on adding lunch.  I've got 40 meals to choose from and I always plan a few days to come up with a new recipe or try someone else's out but those 40 are my mainstays and still give me plenty of room for creativity.  I have a few that use up leftovers, a few that only plan the meat or the ethnicity so that I can make whatever I feel like and still know that I have everything I need on hand.  I'm also really flexible with it, I plan it a month at a time but if I'm in the mood for Tuesdays Dinner on Friday then I just switch, keeping in mind what fresh items need to be used up.  I don't plan mine with Sides and a dessert but My mom does and I figure some of you might too, so I threw them in my planner as well in case you want them, along with plenty of blank spots to write in your personal favorites.

You can find my menu planner here in Google Documents, I included a blank shopping list as a bonus.

Want Free Stuffed Animal Patterns?

I am working on making more patterns and have pretty much finished a giraffe and lion to add to my wild animals collection with the elephant but I'm not sure when I'll get around to sewing them, plus I'd love more than one example of each for my shop so if you are interested in them and are willing to send me pictures of the finished products let me know and I'll send you the patterns for free.

Teaching Nutrition to Tots

Today's post was inspired by Simply Modern Mom's post about the "Choose My Plate" gov. site.

Teaching good eating habits to my kids is easier said then done, my 5 year old son is particularly difficult, he won't eat any fresh fruit and only takes a taste or two of smoothies but he could live off of milk, mac & cheese, and sweets or junk food of any kind.  He's not too bad with his veggies, esp. broccoli but he struggles with trying new things and I'm frustrated with how little fiber he gets.  This is the same boy who used to eat broccoli like it was candy and ate curry anything with gusto when he was two.

My daughter is easy as long as I keep the food coming in small quantities, she'll eat half a doughnut and hand me back the rest but I have to remind her not to eat the seeds in her apple if I didn't cut out the core, it's pretty great.

So out of frustration came inspiration, I would make a "food rocket" that my kids could put together piece by piece with every meal until it is finished at the end of the day when they add the flame on the end so it looks like it's flying.  If they have too many sweets, junk food or don't finish the rocket then they can't add the flame.

Here's my "prototype" for it, I'm working on getting a much cuter version of it.

(Speaking of feeding tots, my 6 month old gags on sweet potatoes but adores broccoli. Go figure.)

Mango and Chicken Thai Pizza

I LOVE this pizza, it's my absolute favorite pizza of all time.

My pictures don't even come close to doing it justice but I'll post them anyway so at least you have an idea what yumminess you are in for if you make it yourself.  This is also part of my Thai Kitchen party recipes so, thanks again House Party and Thai Kitchen for all the free stuff.

I got the recipe for the pizza dough from Goop and I loved it so much I made extra and cooked up a bunch of rounds and saved them in the fridge for later, which is what I used today, it makes it a little chewier but still great.  Get the recipe here.

Since the pizza rounds were already prepared and I used leftover chicken I started with chopping up the mango, red bell pepper and cilantro.

I also chopped up the left over chicken to roughly the same size as the mango pieces and then I drizzled some of the Spicy Thai Mango Dipping sauce over the pizza round

Then I threw on the peppers, chicken, mango and mozzarella and I took a heaping tablespoon of the Peanut Satay Sauce and added about 1 teaspoon of peanut butter, their peanut sauce is "currier" than the kind I usually make and a little water to thin it out and drizzled it over the pizza and tossed on the cilantro.   Last, I put it in the oven on low broil since everything that needed to be was already cooked so I just put it in until the cheese had bubbled and browned a bit.

VOILA!  A super easy and scrumptious pizza that took only a few minutes to throw together.

It was so good I ate two.

Super Easy Beef and Broccoli

(Sorry about the pics, they're from my phone.)

Simply Asia's sauce pouches are a great way to throw together a meal in a hurry and still have something super yummy.  For this one I used the General Tsao's mild pouch which was mild enough for my kids but still something my DH will enjoy eating.

All I did was quickly cook up a nice steak to medium rare, cook it to your preferred doneness, and put it aside.

Then in the same frying pan I tossed in onions and frozen broccoli until heated through, and then added in the sauce. 

 While the broccoli and onions were cooking I sliced up the steak

I cheated with frozen rice but you can start the rice first and cook up the rest about 15 minutes before you want to eat, then I just plated it up so that it looked as good as it tasted.  It was a hit for my whole family, from 2-35 and it only took me 15 minutes.  Thank you Simply Asia.

Who Likes Thai?

I LOVE ethnic foods and flavors so I jumped at the chance to hold a Thai Kitchen and Simply Asia BBQ "House Party" and to let you enjoy some of the great stuff and recipes I got I'm posting all of my dishes here and then I'll have a giveaway at the end so that you can try out the yummy food yourself.

My first recipe I forgot to take pictures of because I had family visting and pictures weren't my first thought but it turned out scrumptious so I had to share anyway.  I call it

Thai Mango Chicken

  • Chicken
  • Rice (brown, jasmine, whatever you have on hand)
  • Mango
  • Cilantro
  • Red Onion
  • Lemongrass or ginger
  • Lite Coconut Milk
  • Fish Sauce
  • Peanut Satay Sauce 
  • Mango Dipping Sauce
  • Optional- Frozen Asian Veggie Blend
My inspiration for this dish was a Thai style pizza I had.  First cook your rice, about 4 cups cooked.  Saute your chicken until nice and brown, I used 1 pound of boneless, skinless thighs, then take them out of the saute pan.  Now drain your pan of any excess oil and put in your rice and red onions, sliced really thin, on medium heat and add about 1/3-1/2 cup lite coconut milk, a splash of fish sauce, 1 tsp. of fresh lemon grass or ginger or 1/3 of dried.  Add one to two heaping tablespoons of the peanut sauce and mango dipping sauce and cook down just until the onions are cooked through and the coconut milk has been absorbed.  

While that's cooking slice up the chicken, dice the mango and finely chop the cilantro.  Once everything is cooked up dish up the rice and top with lots of chicken and mango and liberally garnish with the cilantro.  Thin out 1/4 cup of the peanut sauce with a little coconut milk and then drizzle a little of the peanut and mangos sauces over the top of the whole thing.  YUMMY!!!

You can add more veggies to the rice or have them on the side as well, I'm a huge fan of veggies and it tastes great either way so I serve them however I'm feeling at the time.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I enjoyed making and sharing it, I can't wait to share the rest of the recipes I've used/ made up with you.

Hickory Dickory Dock, Or Why Rhymes Are So Important For Our Little Ones

I always loved nursery rhymes growing up, I still do actually, the rhyme and meter and short silly stories were something I was always clamoring for my mom to sing with me and were a source of plays my siblings and I would put on for my parents.  Today my kids favorite nursery rhyme is The Itsy Bitsy Spider because I do the finger play on them with my spider fingers crawling up their water spout bodies and my hands raining down or drying them up, they love it and I love that I can turn it into a tickle game for extra giggles.  Who'd have thought that these simple rhymes would be so good for their development as well?  I certainly didn't but they help our little ones in many wonderful ways.

When they hear nursery rhymes they hear the sounds the vowels and consonants make in a way that's easy for them to process, they hear different words like fiddle, contrary, fetch, pail, etc. that they don't usually hear, and since they are so short, rhythmic and repetitive they are also easy to memorize so they are often a child's first sentence.

Nursery Rhymes use patterns and many even use counting, size and weight which helps with math skills and they tell a story with a beginning, middle and end which teaches sequence and how to follow along.

Children benefit both physically, and emotionally as well since they develop coordination, self confidence and learn to express themselves as they act them out.

With all the great benefits that nursery rhymes have for our kids I enjoy them even more when I share them with my three.  If you want to apply this to the learning triangle you can watch Barney, or a video that uses rhyming, talk about and recite your favorite rhymes, and then act them out or make a book of the rhyme together.

Afraid of Color? Don't Be.

After a conversation with one of my SIL's, I realized that a LOT of people do not have a natural knack with color, at least when it comes to their wardrobe, this certainly explains the sea of black and brown when I go to church.  You see I grew up with both parents being artists and so it never occurred to me that neutral was not merely a personal decision but a common fear of getting colors wrong.  I've definitely seen color go wrong like when a classmate chose hunter green and hot pink for her wedding because she was sure that any red and any green ALWAYS go together, the result was truly painful to look at.  There is a full proof way to avoid such mistakes though, use a picture, painting or print that you really like for inspiration, a printed cloth is the easiest since even a tiny amount of the inspirational print will help tie the whole look together.  Here's an example:  

 This headband has teal, aqua, black, white and a little bit of pale yellow so you could pair it with this outfit and a yellow skinny belt or yellow clutch purse.  I love teal and teal and yellow is a great color combination.

I'll be posting more color combination ideas as well as some "What I Wore" pics as further inspiration as well.