February 25, 2015
by sarah
0 comments

Carrot Ginger Smoothie

carrot smoothy

This recipe struck my interest because it was billed as a cold remedy. I simplified it with what I had already and had time for (no grating).

Carrot Ginger Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 apple pealed and chopped
  • small/medium chunk of ginger root pealed and chopped
  • about 1 cup water

Directions

  1. Place it all in a blender.
  2. Enjoy
Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

February 24, 2015
by sarah
0 comments

A Bag a Day!

I am not very churchy. I have become more active at a local church recently. This year I considered doing something for Lent. What is meaningful and doable in forty days? I saw this and I was sold: 40 bags in 40 days. OHH how wonderful it will be to “Decrapify”!! Maybe if my house has less clutter, my might will too?

The bag can be of any size.

A zip lock filled of the plastic clips that are used by the dry cleaner to keep the collar together. I usually return them to the dry cleaner to be reused.

bagaday3A plastic grocery bag full of mix matched sippy cups that we have grown out of and have missing straws anyway. This bag headed to the curb this morning in the recycling.

bagaday4A paper grocery bag of puzzles we have grown out of was dropped off at the local Early Intervention Office.

bagaday1A large garbage bag of clothing to hand down to my cousins little girl.

bagaday2

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

February 21, 2015
by jenny
0 comments

Upcycled Dog Sweater

Our dog has thin short hair. We really don’t “dress” her too often, but she certainly isn’t an “all-weather dog.” I’ve made her a fabric stash dog jacket in the past. It’s fun for me to look at patterns. Many of the patterns are upcycled people clothes.

I’ve been eying the picture of an recycled dog sweater. When I got an old sweater out, I went to make the dog jacket and realized the pattern was to use  just the sweater sleeve (the dog was smaller than it looked in the thumbnail picture!)  I ended up just putting the sweater on and quickly just tailoring it to our dog. It’s not a perfect fit, but it’s really cute for us to see our dog in long sleeves and a turtleneck.

DSC_0062

Here are a bunch more patterns that are fun to look at: http://thecottagemarket.com/2013/10/35-diy-dog-coats.html.

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

February 18, 2015
by jenny
0 comments

Fixing a Zipper When the Pull Breaks Off

We are blessed by hand me downs. While our stash of hand me downs typically arrives in excellent condition, at one time or another, we often struggle with jacket zippers.

Some zipper issues might take a little skill, finesse and practice to repair, but many zipper repairs anyone can do easily and cheaply.

DSC_0019

 

With this jacket, the entire zipper pull came off during an incident at recess. All you need to repair this situation is a new zipper pull, scissors, and a zipper top stop (I used fabric, needle and thread, but zipper repair kits come with metal ones you can often pinch on with pliers).

You can figure out the size of the zipper pull you need by looking for a number on the back of your zipper pull, or by measuring the distance across the zipper teeth when zipped (or pushed together like it was zipped).

DSC_0023

Once you have your measurement (this was 5mm), you need to find your replacement parts. I ordered this kit from Amazon.com (affiliate link), but you may need to find something that matches the zipper color.

DSC_0024

The zipper pull belongs on the side with the thick bottom stop that looks like this:

DSC_0034

You want to pull off the top stop on that side (the big tooth/bead at the top). Ideally you can pull it off nicely with pliers, so the zipper fabric is available for clamping on a new stop.

DSC_0035

I couldn’t pull mine off nicely, so I snipped it off with scissors.

DSC_0041

Your new zipper pull should just slide on right now. I slid mine on and zipped up the jacket to make sure it worked.

DSC_0044

Now you’ll need to replace or create a top stop to keep the zipper pull from sliding right off the top and getting lost on the playground, school bus or coat closet. Here, I folded up a couple inches of pink lacing that matches the jacket and stitched it on by hand. Make sure to cover the top few teeth so the zipper wouldn’t catch or start to fall off.

DSC_0051

I repeated this for the other side to make it symmetric (both for zipper functionality and looks).

DSC_0054

Done! It took less than $7 for the whole zipper kit and about 7 minutes of work time. This jacket came from a pair of sisters, will have gone through my two girls and (after I clean up the velcro) will be ready for Sarah’s girls when the time comes!

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

February 17, 2015
by jenny
0 comments

Cabin Fever

We are expecting more snow. Not much, but by the end of the week, we might be up over 100 inches for the past 4 weeks or so.

I like snow. And being forced to stay home is something of my introvert dream come true. No one in or out and not being able to leave the house cuts the immediate to do list way down and allows time for some back burner to do list items. I have an advantage over most families in times like this, in that my kids, in the best weather, choose to and prefer to be laying down reading for hours on end. We also very gratefully haven’t had any issues with snow and the house/roof (knock on wood). While I’ll admit a touch of cabin fever this weekend, this really hasn’t been much of a hardship.

Here are some of my favorite things that have happened while being cooped up:

  • Organized my fabric stash and the kids’ book hoard
  • Loved the Indiana Jones Mythbusters episode
  • Cleaned out the deep freeze
  • Hung a small gallery of kid paintings in the basement
  • Found exfoliating gloves while cleaning out the linen closet
  • Exfoliated
  • Walked the dog in a ice whipping in face blizzard and heard birds singing
  • Created photo books of pictures from 2007-2009 and ordered them (hoping to get to the present before Christmas)
  • Rearranged the house plants
  • Watched My Neighbor Totoro [affiliate link] for the first time, and have enjoyed thinking about wind gusts differently
  • Finally received the Lego Big House Family‘s Christmas card

IMG_0528

 

What has been your favorite part of this winter’s snow?

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

February 13, 2015
by sarah
0 comments

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue….

paper flowers3

Happy Valentines Day!!!

The former art teacher secret is out. My second grader’s teacher asked me to come in and do a Valentines Day art project with them. I went the flower route. We made bouquets for their families (one sweet boy was going to give his flowers to his neighbor who just had a baby).

paper flowers2 paper flowers1

The kids had a choice between two different styles of flowers. The rose was made out of paper plates. Here is a link to the rose instructions. They required some cutting and twisting that challenged the kids fine motor skills. The peonies are made from tissue paper. Find the instructions here for the peonies. They were a bit simpler, but still had several steps that the kids had to follow. Most of them made both.  It was good to give them the options. I was  afraid the paper plate flower might of scared some of the kids off. They were able to take a break if they got frustrated with the rose and fold some tissue paper .

I also made these for the class.

paper flowe

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

February 10, 2015
by sarah
0 comments

Embracing Garden Planning

As I have mentioned before we like winter. Last winter was cold and everyone was complaining, but we embraced it because it meant skating across the street on the lake. This winter we outfitted everyone with cross county skies, snow shoes, and have rented down hill skies for the season (for most). We have done it all plus some of ice hockey inside and out.

The two hour delay this morning has put me over the edge. I am not embracing the snow any longer. I need something else to embrace to get me through the next month or so. So I have moved on to the garden.

I found this inspiring article this morning that has turned the tide!! Off to look at seed catalogs!!

Here is the latest picture of our veggie garden. Maybe by this weekend the fence will be under snow.

snow garden

 

 

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

February 7, 2015
by jenny
1 Comment

Legos For Girls

There is plenty of discussion out there on Lego Friends and the marketing of other pink or gender role oriented toys.

My son started having an interest in Lego sets a few years ago when he was three. Since then he has always liked and played with Legos regularly. When my boy started his Lego journey, my girls were not interested, except occasionally building the sets for my son. My kids are dollhouse/figurine/role play kids, and when Lego Friends came out a couple years ago, my girls wanted the sets. They ended up with a lot of Lego Friends for Christmas and birthdays last year. Lego Friends really appealed to my girls, even though Lego Friends sets really make little sense in the way my kids play. We’ve never been to or have much interest in juice bars. We all also find Lego Friends (and most Lego sets)  sort of hard to play with dollhouse style for extended periods of time. But they liked the characters, the colors, the cute animals, and even that they were for girls.

My girls came to know the Lego Friends through the sets, Lego Club magazine and reading some of the Lego Friends books. The Lego Friends characters started moving into the traditional Lego houses, and Lego Friends sets were disassembled and reassembled to fit their play needs.  My girls became more and more interested in all Legos. Their passion for Legos has grown and since last summer they play almost daily with Legos.

They have created their own Lego family and have stuck to and added to those characters for the past 8 or 9 months. Here is a family portrait I found on the iPad from a Lego family reunion that was held a few months ago.

IMG_0511

This Lego family is quite an ongoing soap opera, more Seventh Heaven than Melrose Place. There is always something going on. My girls refer to “playing with Legos” as “playing Big House” because the heart of the play is a large house that gets renovated and added onto frequently, and totally ripped apart and redesigned once in a while (most often when I make them take it apart after it gets dusty in the corners or the gerbil has shoved stuff out of his cage onto it). They used to each have smaller houses they would play with and work on separately, and then would play “Big House” when they were playing in the big house together. This is the current “Big House:”

DSC_0002.

A lot has gone on in the Big House. My girls usually spend a week prepping, building, playing and replaying some of the bigger Big House events. Last week there was a wedding (including a MagnaTile church). There have been rock concerts in stadiums, lots and lots of school, lots of costume parties and trick or treating, plays, science fairs, dentist appointments, movie nights, museum visits, births, deaths, and on and on all built from Legos, Magatiles and paper for the past eight or nine months. They have made up TV series that the Big House watches regularly that my girls act out, complete with their own set of characters, catchy theme songs and one has a line dance number to the show theme song (in the last wedding picture below, the kids in the background are doing the dance to that song). There is a pop rock star (it’s a Lego Friend), who generally covers Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. They take family pictures and sometimes videos. There is LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of fighting and arguing, and LOTS of Legos all over the “behind the couch” designated Lego area where they are allowed to leave stuff out for longer periods of time without being asked to move them/pick up for vacuuming. There is lots of crying after guests leave, because guests almost always mess with the Big House, but repairing guest demolition has inspired some of the more creative Big House renovations.

DSC_0003

This is some good creative playing. It didn’t happen because of anything I did besides buying Lego Friends. I’m not sure if it would have happened without Lego Friends; they may have bought in to Legos with the production of a variety of minifigure girl hair, short/kid legs, cute pets and dresses started around the same time.

Most of the time, it doesn’t bother me, but I do think gender marketing can sometimes be humorous or offensive. I do not think that Lego Friends are necessarily a step back for equal rights.

DSC_0006

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

February 4, 2015
by jenny
0 comments

Three Good Things

My oldest daughter used to be very negative when she first started elementary school, it made me nuts. We instated the tradition of Three Good Things, and while her negativity has somewhat faded, Three Good Things stuck. Now it serves less as an exercise in  gratitude and perspective and more as practice in conversation and listening (which everyone in my house needs – including me). We also get to learn about each other’s  days.

For the past more than five years nearly every weeknight we take turns around the dinner table and each person has to list Three Good Things they are happy about or that happened to them on that day. These Things have a very wide range of subject, importance and weight. “My teacher told me I did a good job.” “I got everything on my errands list done.” “I saw a hummingbird.” “The sky was pink.” “I scored a goal.” “I figured out where the books I like are in the library.” “I sat next to my friend at lunch.” “I found an awesome parking spot.” “We went outside for recess.” “No one got in trouble in music.” “My new magazine came.” “I forgot my lunch box and my friend brought it back to the classroom for me.” “The dog did something funny.” “I thought we were out of eggs, but we weren’t.” “I found a lucky penny.” “My favorite shirt was clean.” One of the most popular is “I [played a game/Legos/American Girls, colored or did nails] with [sibling] for a half hour without fighting and it was fun.”

Often conversation starts from lists. One Good Thing might lead to a story about that Thing, or someone might want to talk about something else that happened. That’s fine. In our house each person has to finish their list before the next person has a turn. Some days this takes a lot of patience, and some days not everyone gets a turn. We usually go around in a circle.

DSC_0371

We have catered the rules as the conversation has evolved over the past five years.

Here are some house rules:

  • Try not to do repeats of Things that had been said before you of unless you REALLLLLY mean it (before this rule all three kids things end up with “1. We’re having tacos for dinner. 2. Daddy came home early. 3. Recess was fun.”) This rule encourages people to go first and also to think hard. Similarly, we’ve eliminated general things – things that happen every day (“1. I like dinner. 2. My family is nice. 3. Our house is nice.,” would not be accepted). We’ve decided that food, our family, friends, health, house, clothes and some other things are happiness givens and are encouraged to be mentioned, but don’t count towards the Three. We’ll recount and modify this given gratitude list once in a while, but usually in prayer form.
  • If you say a bad thing that happened, you have to do two more good things (5 good things and one bad thing), unless someone had a really bad day, then they get a break, instead of “Three Good Things!”  we might call out “One Bad and Three Good Things!” or “Three Bad Things and One Really Super Awesome Thing!
  • Variations can be called (either if people are grumpy about doing the original version, to continue conversation, or just to mix things up). Here are a few popular ones in our house:
    • Three Good Things About [Fill in the Blank]  (e.g. Someone At the Table, Your Teacher, Your Bedroom, Your Friends, Rosie (our dog), Pizza, Our Town, Your Favorite Book, etc.)
    • Three Good Things And After Someone’s Turn Everyone Else Has To Ask That Person A Question About One Of the Things.
    • “High, Low, You Don’t Know.” This was another family’s tradition we learned about on the soccer sidelines last spring and tried out (high point of the day, low point of the day and something you don’t know happened today). We did it for a couple months, but the Your Don’t Know part was a little tricky for my younger kids. We tried the You Don’t Know as bringing a random trivia sort of fact to the table, usually a lesson in school or something they read.

DSC_0182

Yesterday we had a bunch of kids over at dinnertime and didn’t get to do our Three Good Thing. When I was falling asleep I was thinking of my three good things for yesterday:

  1. There was a two hour delay for school, which allowed for a very relaxed morning and nice transition from a long weekend, as well as the kids getting to school safely.
  2. A fall to my knees, head to the floor, sides hurting, tears streaming down my face giggle fit inspired by a text message from a friend.
  3. The sound of the dishwasher running as I fall asleep, which always makes me feel safe, like ends have been met on the day, and I’ll be ready for tomorrow.

IMG_3703

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email