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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why I shouldn't take shortcuts


So today I was making some wool dryer balls and my thought process went something like this:

Every time I make them, I have to put them in the nylons and then the nylons always getting snagged and I have to rip them off the felted wool....maybe this time I'll just throw the balls in the washer without the nylons.

Great idea, right?

Wrong.

Here's what you get when you don't add the nylons:




A huge mess. A big semi-felted wooly mess.

So clearly it's taking me a little longer than I anticipated to make more of the dryer balls, but when I do, I'll be sure to put them up in my Etsy shop. If you'd like to take a chance and make some yourself, check out my previous post. So check back soon!

~Patricia

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cleaning out the camera tonight...

So a few weeks ago now, we went on a cross-country road trip (read about my tips here). I am finally getting around to pulling all the photos off of our cameras! Since I have 2 digital cameras, I gave my 7 year old one of them for most of the trip, so she could record her memories too.

The pictures she took mostly consisted of photos such as the following:






The clarity and focus on this photo is great!  I only wish it was a picture of something else,
you know, like my children perhaps?





Believe it or not, this is just a sampling of the probably a hundred photos of her dolls in different poses, or all of her dolls in the same pose. Besides the dolls in the car, there were dolls in a dollhouse:


And dolls in this angel:

.

And if you can imagine this getting any better, just wait. It does. There were videos too.  Some favorites include the video of her picking stickers off of a window at our hotel in Chicago, the video she made during the vows at my cousin's wedding that included a lot of fast panning and close-ups, and of course the videos of videos--which is sort of genius.  She took videos on the camera of movies she was watching on her dvd player, so that when she couldn't use the dvd player, she could still watch the movies on the camera! 

Genius, right?!

Here's the "removing stickers from an 8th story window" video for your enjoyment:

video


This one is also quite hilarious:

: video




I think I need to teach my child to....dare I say it...take more selfies?  At least then I might get some quality pictures of her.

There were some good photos on the camera though, such fun memories! One of my favorites is this one:

Just kidding.
This is an incredibly CREEPY photo.


This one's a keeper:
Me and my littlest munchkin. 

Tomorrow night I get to upload the other camera.....wonder what jewels I'll find there!

~Patricia







Wednesday, July 9, 2014

4 + Tips for driving across the country with your mother and 3 children under 8.

Don't.

Haha.  Just kidding. That wouldn't be a very good post, now would it?

A month ago, the kids, my mom and myself, left for "up north" as we southerners like to call it, and we traveled successfully for 3 days and 28 hours total.

I drove all 28 hours.

Here are 4 tips for making it that far, and keeping your sanity.

Chicago, anyone?
1. A good navigator.
My mom was great. I'm a talker, so she stayed awake and chatted with me the entire time. She even bought one of those airplane neck pillows and never used it.  She also had contacted AAA and got these fancy Triptiks that told us exactly where to go and and how far it was to our next destination. I could have just used my phone's GPS, but the Triptik is a cool perk of anyone's AAA membership, and it sure beats waiting for your GPS to "locate."

2. Food. Good food.
We packed ham and cheese sandwiches, carrots, celery, apples, strawberries, trail mix and water in a cooler with ice packs.  Everyone had their own reusable water bottle that I filled up each day. (An example here.)  I bought milk for the youngest one when we would stop at gas stations, but in a pinch I got some shelf stable milk boxes that I tried to keep cold too. On the first leg of the journey, anytime the girls were hungry my mom would grab something from the cooler between us, pop it in a plastic container, and then I'd hurl it at my oldest daughter in the back of the minivan. No joke.  On the second half of the journey, I got the girls their own cooler for the back and just had them grab snacks when they were hungry. It was probably safer that way. But they ate what I gave them in the first half, because that was their only option. On our last day traveling up north, we stopped at a gas station and had some chips. A lot of chips. And I felt yucky. So pack some healthy snacks if you don't want to feel yucky while driving.  If you stay at a hotel, pick one with a fridge so you can keep the food cold and refreeze your ice packs overnight.

3. Minimal stops.
Unless stopping and seeing things along the way is a part of the trip. But for us, it wasn't.  The real excitement was getting up north to my mom's house where the girls could run and play, so minimal stops was important.  I would fill up the tank and drive as far as I could before one of the kids had to use the bathroom or the youngest was crying, and I had to stop to see what was wrong. I still have my almost 2 year old facing backwards, so sometimes she was just annoyed that no one was looking at her. We (I) drove at least 8 hours each day, and not stopping every hour to use the potty is a real blessing when you are trying to get somewhere.

4. Distractions.
Distractions are what some would call activities. You could encourage your children to spend 8 hours staring out a van window while you roam the country, but I'm guessing that wouldn't last long. Instead, pack a variety of things for the kiddos to do.  We packed a DVD player with a car charger and dual headphone jack (we started out with 2, but my oldest seemed to think that the brand new one was "dirty" and washed it with a baby wipe, and the picture hasn't quite come back yet), a Nook with new games, a Leap Pad, several stuffed animals, a bag full of mini dolls, a few crafts from Jo-Ann's, reusable sticker packs from Melissa & Doug, a container of markers, coloring books, board books, plain notebooks, and some soft blankets for cuddling with when the A/C got too cold or they were tired.

Some other tips:
-A good night sleep (which I didn't get. The first night C threw up all over the hotel room. Twice. and the second night she kept waking up so I had to keep getting up off the foot of the bed I was sleeping on with my other two girls to get her back to sleep.)

-Coffee (I don't drink coffee, but I'm guessing some might find it handy)

-Good tunes (the only cd we brought along was the FROZEN soundtrack, which was fun to sing along to, many, many times. Really, it was. I also had some Raffi and other Disney songs on my phone, which I was able to play via an auxiliary cord. I also downloaded a few podcasts for those especially long intervals when there isn't much to say anymore.  I downloaded some from Maternally Yours Radio and Snap Judgement.)

-Comfy clothes. You're going to be sitting for a long time. Get cozy.

-A small overnight suitcase or bag with just the essentials for staying in a hotel. Or at a friend's house (much cheaper and more fun). You'll be thankful you thought ahead to pack just what you needed, instead of lugging in a giant suitcase and rummaging through it when you're tired each night. And you'll probably realize that you didn't need everything you packed in that giant suitcase anyways. 

-Comfy car seats for the kids. Safety and comfort are important. I had the two oldest in the third row of our van and the youngest behind the passenger, rear-facing in the middle row. Here's what we used:
My Ride 65 rear-facing for the youngest (almost 2)
Diono Radian RXT for the middle child (almost 4, in the spring pattern)
Graco Highback Turbo Booster for the oldest (7)

I do wish I would have brought along our extra Bubblebum booster for the in-between times. It's so little and handy to have an inflatable booster, so that you can safely put another friend in the van between the girls in the back.

And there you have it.

Some tips for making your long, long drive a successful one!

Feel like I missed something?  Add your thoughts in the comments! Happy Traveling!

~Patricia

(Note: All the links are my Amazon affiliate links.)


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The oil change can wait.....

...because these dolls are in need of some shoes.

We just returned from a fabulous month vacation away "up north" as we southerners like to say, and of course the kids had all sorts of ideas about what they wanted to do today.  My minivan, which I drove all the way up north, needs an oil change.

Mostly they wanted me to make shoes for their dolls (I think they look more like ice skates).  
             
Felt. A crafter's best friend.
Am I right?

Thanks for the shoes!

These are the girls' Lottie dolls. We have the Spring Ballet Lottie and the Snow Queen Lottie. Click on their names to see them or buy them from Amazon. (Note: these are affiliate links.) We found them at our local toy store, however, and have had a lot of fun with them. Both are really cute dolls and are a good alternative to Barbies. They aren't as big either, so that's nice for traveling too. And they like felt shoes. :)

Any excuse to craft, right? 

And to avoid getting an oil change. Or dragging all three kids to sit and wait for the oil change. Ugh. 
Maybe tomorrow.

~Patricia




Monday, July 7, 2014

The nightly round-up

So tonight while I was cleaning our dining room floors for the umpteenth time today (the joys of having kids and corn for supper), I got to thinking about sleep.

You might think it's because I had to sit with my almost 2 year old and wait for her to fall asleep while she murmurs, "Dada, Dada...." And I bet you can guess what will happen when I go get him to sit with her while she falls asleep.

"Mama, Mama." Oh dear. It's pretty boring waiting in utter darkness for someone else to go to sleep.  I mean, I guess I could sleep, but then when I wake up at 2am and stumble down the hall to my bed, it just ruins my good night sleep too. I wish there was something I could do, you know, like cross stitch, or a crossword, or anything. But alas, I'm destined to practice sitting up straight in a yoga pose and praying for sleep to befall my precious little one. I think this child is destined to give me good posture whether I want it or not.

The other reason I was thinking about sleep (I had a lot of time to think tonight--those floors were really dirty), is because my oldest daughter interrupts my sleep every.single.morning to ask me the same question. And let me tell you, getting woken up with someone thisclosetoyourface is not pleasant.

"Can I watch tv?"

"No."

"What can I do? I'm soooo bored."

At this point I wish I was one of those moms that just bounds out of bed and says, OK! Let's go do something exciting! But, who are those moms? Are they real? I don't think so.

*Peeling my face away from my daughter's intent gaze* "Why don't you play in the playroom for awhile? Or help yourself to some breakfast?"  I'm starting to repeat that bible verse in my head now. You know, the one about training up your child in the way that they should go and when they are old, they will not stray from it (or something like that). I'm beginning to think I should have trained her more for this morning episode, since it happens every day. Every day.

And here's what got me thinking. Usually my daughter keeps going on about watching tv. Just one show. Only for a little bit. Nothing bad. I'll be quiet. I won't wake anyone. You never let me watch tv!

But last week was different. Last week, we were at my mother-in-law's house and for some reason, I did not get the inyourface morning questions every day.  Maybe it was the fact that my mother-in-law was up and got her some breakfast. Maybe it was the stack of activities waiting for her on the kitchen table. Maybe it was the corn flakes. It could be all of those things actually.

So tonight I wrote my daughter a note (she likes when I write her notes) that went something like this:

Dear G....

Good morning!  Do not wake me up. Do not wake up M or C. We are all tired and need a little more sleep. Please go downstairs and make yourself breakfast and play at the table until I wake up. No tv. No Nook. I love you.

Love, Mom

Easy enough, right?
I put some breakfast out on the table and some play-doh out for her to play with too.  We'll see how this works.

On another note:

What's for dinner:
(Or in this case, what was for dinner)

Crockpot Chicken with Salsa and Black Beans

1 package frozen chicken thighs (about 4 pieces)
1 can of black beans
1 jar of salsa
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 half onion, chopped
1 tomato, sliced (I added this from our garden, just because)

Cooked for 6 hours on high, switched to low 30 minutes before serving. Shred the chicken before serving.
I served it with brown rice for the kids and over couscous (flavored with salt, pepper and turmeric) for us.
Sides: Frozen corn, Frozen peas

I promise you, it's good.
Next time I'll snap a photo on a plate, and not just grab the leftovers out of the fridge.
(If I remember.)

I was especially proud of this meal because I had everything I needed in the pantry already. Since we just got back into town from our road trip yesterday (stay tuned for more on that), I didn't feel like getting back into the car to go grocery shopping. So I searched around on Pinterest until I found a recipe that I could modify and this is what I came up with.  It was pretty good!  Many times my oh-I'll-just-see-what-I-can-put-together-in-the-crockpot meals are not good. They are usually bland. But I'm guessing the medium salsa was enough to give it some flavor. You could add some peppers or well, whatever you want really. It was good. I may make it again someday.

So at the very least, my belly is full from a delicious meal, my kids are asleep (for now, let's be honest), my floors are clean, and I've updated my blog. Which I'm fairly certain no one reads. Well maybe one person. Two? Three? I'm pushing it now. Oh well, if you've made it this far, THANK YOU!!  I promise there is more to come. Promise.

~Patricia

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Vacation

Ahhhh.

So this is what summer is all about....the big girls are playing outside happily,  the littlest one is taking a long nap and I am relaxing in the peace and quiet.

Nothing to worry about, nothing to do, it's perfect.

Hope your summer is just as wonderful!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Best & Easiest "Homemade" Chunky Salsa

Today I'm sharing with you my favorite chunky salsa recipe!  This has got to be the easiest thing to make, but it still appears homemade, so others will think you slaved away all morning cutting up tomatoes and such....but really this took you two minutes. This is just so simple, I don't know why I had never thought of or heard of it before.

Easy "Homemade" Chunky Salsa

Ingredients:
Your favorite jar of salsa
Avocado
Lime juice (to taste)

Put salsa in a bowl.
Slice the avocado lengthwise around and scoop out the goodness into the bowl with the salsa.
Mash with a fork. Add a splash of lime juice.
Eat!

So easy and delicious! You could also try adding black beans or more peppers too, whatever you'd like to make the salsa your own.  Your guests will love it! (if you save them any!)

~ Patricia