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Thursday, September 4, 2014

An Easy Way to Hull Strawberries!

Tired of cutting the tops off of your strawberries? Feeling like you're wasting a bunch of the strawberry that way? Time to try something new! 

Hull your strawberries with a straw! 

Crazy, right?! Actually, it works really well, and I feel like it wastes less strawberry too.  Check out the photos!  I also love that the kids can help with this and I don't have to worry about them getting cut with a sharp knife. 

So easy! 

The kids can help too! 

Give it a try and let me know how it worked for you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Favorite, Easy Smoothie Recipe

Today I'm sharing with you all my kids' favorite smoothie recipe. There are a ton of smoothie recipes out there and a bunch of cool things you can do with smoothies (like make individual ones with mason jars--did you know they fit on the blender?!), but my kids and I love this smoothie and make it regularly.  I've also been trying to add some spinach to the mix, and have been calling it "Christmas sprinkles," because no matter how hard you try, you can still see the green flecks in it. 

Strawberry Banana Smoothie 
3 bananas
2 cups frozen strawberries
Skim milk as needed (I usually add the fruit first, then fill about halfway with milk)

Blend and enjoy!  This makes quite a lot of smoothie, so I always put the extra in popsicle molds so we can enjoy a delicious dessert that night after dinner. 

What's you favorite smoothie recipe?

The kids love to help out! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sweet Potato Pommes Frites

Tonight I have to share with you a delicious side dish that the kids loved tonight at dinner.  I love, love, love sweet potatoes, but the last time I tried making them they were dry and good, but not good.  These were perfect!

And if we hadn't gobbled them all up, I would have taken a picture; next time, I promise I will take a picture!

Sweet Potato Pommes Frites
Original Recipe HERE (complete with yummy photos)

2 large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (melt in microwave for 30 seconds, I use organic, cold-pressed)
Pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Paprika to taste (or another favorite spice, like cinnamon)

Simply cut up the sweet potatoes into even pieces, then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  I then dumped them on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and baked at 375 for 30 minutes (I usually bake in a smaller "pizza" oven, so you may want to bake at 400 in a regular size oven), flipping halfway through. You want them tender in the middle and brown on the edges.

Then take them out and enjoy! Yum! We had ours with asparagus and salmon. Delicious!

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?


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!


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:


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!


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

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


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!


(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.