Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Some much needed inspiration (and 2 minute confidence booster!)

Have you ever listened to a TED talk?  They are these very interesting (at least to me) talks that people/experts give on various topics. My local NPR station switched from broadcasting "World have your say" (which was basically people around the world shouting their views about things, with no resolution--ugh. It gave me a headache.) to the TED radiohour.  Day made.

My favorite one so far is this one by Amy Cuddy:



It also happens to be the second most popular TED talk ever.  It's titled, "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are." And I love it.  Basically, it states (backed by research) that you can improve your mood and confidence by doing "high-power poses" for 2 minutes.  As a person who really believes in the thoughts-feelings-actions connection (hey, I didn't go to grad school for social work for nothing!), this is genius to me.

Just do a high-power pose, like the "wonder woman," for 2 minutes before a big or stressful event, and it will help you to feel more confident!  I like to practice my wonder woman pose in the car before heading to a meeting or when my kids are being particularly stressful. (So everyday, basically.)

   Go Wonder Woman!

Listen to the talk and let me know what you think!  I just downloaded the audio and listened in the car on the way to get the kids from school.  You can fast-forward in the video until you get to the examples of power poses, but otherwise I didn't feel I needed the visuals.

For more awesome and inspiring TED talks, check them out here.

Here's to feeling more confident!

~Patricia


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ballet and a Easy Square Skirt Tutorial

First, a little throwback....#tbt:

This fall I wanted to find some sort of activity for the girls to be in. When G was 3, we put her in soccer, which really meant that she wore a soccer uniform while picking daisies in the soccer field. Well, probably not daisies, but whatever flower/weed that she could find out in the field. 

Oh, are we supposed to be playing?


Ok, so maybe she didn't pick daisies the whole time. 


Sometimes she'd just hang out with dad. He volunteered to be the assistant coach.
 
Needless to say, I haven't been much into organized anything since then. I wasn't sure if G liked playing or going to the games, and I wasn't sure I liked sitting outside in the heat watching her pick daisies. I mean, we could do that at home, right?  

So this fall I decided it was time to take the plunge and sign the girls up for ballet classes at the local studio.  Both G and M went to the same preschool (not at the same time), and each Friday the preschool has ballet class. (Their teacher is also a ballet teacher.) So they had some experience and seemed to like it, or at least liked wearing the outfits, which is step one, right?  They are also older, and I think some sort of organized something is important, so we'll give ballet a try. And it's indoors. Very important when it's 90 degrees out for most of the year.

We've been going for a few weeks now and so far, they like it! Truthfully, G hated it the first day, but I told her she couldn't quit until she had gone 3 times, and she's come around and likes it now.  My biggest challenge is actually C, who is devastated that she can't do ballet classes with her big sisters. We're talking won't leave the classroom door, crying and carrying on. The last two times I've finally been able to get her to sit in the playroom they provide for siblings and relax. Whew! Success!  I was worried for a little bit that I'd had to cancel lessons if I couldn't get C to calm down and play. 

G and M in the matching skirts I made them, getting ready for class.

I wanted to share with you how I made the knit twirly skirts, since they are so easy!  For a long time, I've been looking at this skirt on Pinterest and wanted to make it. 

It's a variation on a circle skirt, which is just a large circle of fabric with a hole cut inside and an elastic waistband sewn in.  The Square skirt is just a big square with a hole cut inside and an elastic waistband sewn in.  The original is a double layer skirt, but since I wanted to make one for all of the girls, I just did a single layer.
I placed a bowl (that was about 1.5 times the waist measurement in circumference) in the center of the fabric, and then measured out to mark the length. I made the skirts about 10-12" out.

Hole cut! 

I found this cool colored elastic at JoAnn's.
I made G's skirt with a purple band and M's with a pink band--easy way to tell them apart!

Once upon a time I thought about dyeing elastic and I even pinned this tutorial from dana-made-it.com.
Check it out if you're interested!

After sewing the elastic together, pinning it in and sewing it all together:
Finished! They loved how the skirts twirl!

Side note: since I used a fun knit print, I didn't have to hem anything (bonus!); I just gave the raw edges a little pull and then they start to roll, which makes them super cute too.


One of these days I'll get to my stash of knit t-shirts and make up some cute skirts, these are seriously so easy! Have fun and stay tuned for more tomorrow!

~Patricia


Monday, September 22, 2014

Watermelon


Awhile ago I came across this video which explains how to easily cut watermelon. It's pretty genius, and if you haven't watched it, you should!  It's pretty awesome.  Now, I always think that perhaps the people who make these videos are like, professional chefs or something, and there's no way I could ever do the same thing and make it look quite as nice and easy.  

So I tried it, and I failed. I think if I would have had or been able to use a more flexible knife to cut around the inside of the watermelon, it would have worked. Is that a thing, a flexible knife?  BUT, then I just cut the watermelon into fourths (instead of halves) and it worked really well! 

The watermelon cut into fourths, then sliced all around, as in the video.

Chunks came out!



There was just a little bit left inside, not bad!




C and M liked helping (sorry for the blurry photo, they were too busy eating to stand still)! 
Well, mostly they were eating the watermelon, but that's helpful, since my husband doesn't like watermelon. Someone's got to eat it! :)

I love reading about all sorts of life hacks, and this is one that I will definitely continue trying to perfect. 
And if anyone knows of a flexible knife I should try, let me know!

Thanks for stopping by!
~Patricia


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!