Kids’ Popsicle Stick Crafts

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We've moved!

We’ve moved!

We’ve been pretty busy over in this house with summer camp, doctor appointments, book releases, crafting, cooking, baby showers, and WORK! Here is a little weekend craft time I did with the kids. It started off as just the Diva (she is 4 going on 14) and me, but then the boys sensed the use of markers and insisted on creating with us. Who am I to stop their creativity?! I know I usually try to share tutorial style crafts, but this stuff was made up on the fly so there really aren’t many directions…but there are pictures!

It took me 3 tries to spell "Popsicle" correctly

It took me 3 tries to spell “Popsicle” correctly :-/

So we were trying to come up with something for my dad’s birthday as a present from the kids. While the kids are still little we try to do homemade gifts or pictures (Note to self: Get copies of spring pictures for the family).

My kids love to color, so we went with that (also, I will do anything to avoid paint while the little man is awake).

So I hot glued some sticks into a “square.” Sure, we talked about shapes and made this a little educational. I try. Really. But this barely looks like a square. Its all Wibbly-Wobbly (anyone…).

Then I glued some construction paper to the back of it and trimmed the excess. Not rocket science. At this point I had to start moving a little quicker…Liza was getting antsy to decorate.

Look how she is staring at the markers. You can almost sense her thinking “Mom, stop taking pictures and let me color!”

So her name is Eliza-Beth. We have called her Liza from day 1. Daycare calls her Eliza. She has now requested we call her Eliza. Per my father “She’ll always be Liza to me” and this present was for him so “L” was glued on. I have NO CLUE how you would do this with a curvy letter like Q. I am open to suggestions!

Finally I let her free to color! A large bag of crayons lives on our dining room table so that the kids can color whenever, but markers only get pulled out with supervision so they get excited. Of course by the time she started to decorate (and I thought I was going to clean up) the boys came in like a tornado. So I super quickly whipped up 2 more Initial decorations. Thankfully all 3 kids can have L’s (Liam, Liza, and London – 2/3 are nicknames) so I didn’t have to think too hard.

When they were all done I glued some ribbon to the back upper corners so that they could be hung up…when I eventually put them in a FedEx envelope and ship them to my dad. I am HORRIBLE about putting things in the mail!

The final masterpieces!! Notice “Eliza” on the top of her picture…

Well by the time they were done with these they were in full on crafting mode so Mommy had to think quick. So I just started gluing together popsicle sticks and ended up with little houses that stood on their own. Don’t ask me how I did it. There were 3 kids chomping at the bit so there are no step by step pictures, but I got a couple of them coloring them. I’m actually pretty proud that they stood on their own.

We, of course, needed refreshments by this point. Juice and cheapo fruit snacks anyone?

So there are my simple popsicle stick crafts to do with the kids this summer. Tomorrow we are making cupcakes for Father’s Day. I will try to get some pictures of my kids fighting over who gets to dump the flour in and who gets to stir…and something spilling somewhere. What projects are you doing with the kids on break?

Try these –  Bat Hair Bow or Coconut Oil Chocolates.
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Using Up Fabric Scraps

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We've moved!

We’ve moved!

So this past weekend I was determined to craft. I had been pretty neglectful to the “Crafty” portion of this website. So I went on a mission to find something to do and I came across a plain, white picture frame that I bought in college…and never even put a picture in it. Now the curious part of this is WHY have I held on to this picture frame for approximately 10 years (and no less than 5 moves)?!

My Set Up

So I grabbed my ModgePodge, a paint brush, some scraps of fabric, and glitter…because you never know when you will need glitter…and then I stared. And I put on Big Love on my iPad. And then I started chopping up the fabric and covering the frame with ModgePodge.

Now I had no science or plan with this. I just knew that I wanted to use all of this stuff on something!

Step 1 – ModgePodge the frame…well at least one side of the frame since the MP dries so quick.

My ModgePodge loaded brush

My ModgePodge loaded brush

Step 2 – Chop up my fabric scraps and start placing them around the frame. I did my best to shop the pieces into different shapes and sizes so that there would be some variety.

Like pen to paper...or fabric to frame

Like pen to paper…or fabric to frame

Step 3 – Then I ModgePodge’d the fabric down on the sides, adding more where needed to cover the frame.

This whole Modge Podge process reminded me of elementary school where you put glue/paste all over your hands and then peel it off.

Step 4 – Attach the ends of the fabric to the back so that it looks “finished”

Step 5 – Cover the whole darn thing in ModgePodge!! This will seal in all of the little threads from the fabric scraps and give the entire thing a nice shine.

At this point I *could* have been done…but that wouldn’t really be like me. And I did have some ribbon and glitter out, but where would I be crossing the over crafting line? I decided that glitter was the line. So I added a strip of ribbon down the right side and a bow.

Step 6 – ModgePodge on some ribbon for an accent. And then whip up a simple bow.

Now of course I couldn’t rely on the MP to keep my simple bow together so I busted out my trusty needle and thread for a quick couple of stitches. Just enough to hold it in place. I left the thread exposed, but purely because I didn’t have anything to put over it. Project for another day?

Step 7 – Bust out the hot glue gun!! Again I needed something a little stronger than MP to attach the satiny ribbon to my frame so I brought in the heavy duty reinforcements.

Step 8 – Have a cute little girl make a picture to put inside 🙂

My daughter claimed this frame from the second I started working on it. It now lives up on the shelf in her room where she can see it every day…with her Disney memorabilia.

This whole project took me under an hour, even with multiple stops to tend to my midgets and having to shoo them away from the hot glue.

I can’t wait to grab some super cheap frames from Goodwill and use up more of my scraps of fabric and ribbon! What do you do with your scraps?
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Stitch Fix #3 – High Personality

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We've moved!

We’ve moved!

It’s that time again…Stitch Fix Day!! Wahoo!! Rejoice!! Sing and Dance in your cubicle!! If you aren’t familiar with what Stitch Fix is, or how it works, I encourage you to check out my first two Fixes HERE and HERE. They will lay out the process a little more.

Please be warned, this post contains referral links. When you sign up through my link I will get a $25 credit towards more goodies. Don’t worry, you can get this too after you sign up and become addicted.

MonkeyClothes5.28.14.jpgAs you may have noticed, it has been 2 months since my last Stitch Fix. This is because we bought a second car (clunker…whatever) and I wanted to try and be a bit thrifty. I missed it ever so much and have been counting down the days until this was scheduled to arrive. Thankfully I was epically too busy at my 8-4 to focus on the fact that my box of goodies was sitting on the stairs in my foyer.

Now, of course the second I got home all bets were off and I pounced!

The contents of my Fix

 

Item #1 – Myrstree Shelby Twist Front Lace Print Dress – $38 (the cheapest item in my Fix)

This dress was adorable! It was the first thing I tried on…and I felt like my bum was hanging out. Womp womp womp. So sad because this was the perfect style, color, and texture (soft!) but I just cannot work with something that short. If you recall my last fix had another dress by Mystree that I loved, but was too short too.

I decided to Google the brand to see if that was their thing. I actually came up with a bunch of cute tops! When I sent my feedback I told them not to send me anymore Mystree dresses because they just aren’t working length-wise.

In the return envelope it goes.

Item #2 – Pomelo Arcade Dot Print Chambray Top – $68

I don’t know where to begin!! This top brought out all of the feels (hold on, am I a teenager?)! I was completely head over heels for it. It is a heavy material so you can tell that it is going to last. There is the perfect contrast of softness with little metal buttons. But that price…oh that price for a shirt. I am SUCH a cheapo. And I did ask for a chambray shirt. Hmmmm yeah…I kept it! It was painful to tell my husband that I was keeping a shirt that cost that much. His face may have looked like this…

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But he could see how much I loved it…and that I looked good in it so he was okay.

Item #3 – Papermoon Fletcher Lace Trim Blouse – $48

LOVE it! It is a perfect shell blouse for work to be work with or without a cardigan. It made me feel very confident and powerful. Like I could kick some major booty in the office or at a conference. I was a little nervous when I saw the word lace because that always feels to feminine for me. (I was a cheerleader, but I was a back base…not exactly dainty) This lace is larger and stiff. It was just enough without making me scared I would mess it up. I feel like this would look nice with anything…pencil skirt, dress pants, heck, I might even try nicer jeans! I am really looking forward to incorporating this into my wardrobe rotation!

Item #4 – 41Hawthorne Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan – $48

The color on this piece is fantastic! I have been actively trying to add more and brighter colors to my wardrobe (I, in fact, got a compliment on my $12 Old Navy neon yellow sweater with coffee spilled on it) . This piece could have helped me do that, but it was HOT! As we sit here on the cusp of summer in Atlanta I just could not see myself getting to wear this consistently until the fall. It was soft, stylish, and the definition of Anne Marie, but I just had to send it back to San Fransisco.

Item #5 – Margaret M Duboce Straight Leg Jean – $108 (the priciest in the bunch)

When I opened the box and saw these I knew they wouldn’t be staying for long…

1) WHITE – I have a 2y/o who consistently attacks me with booger and food covered kisses and dirty hands. I would be bleaching the crap out of these and that would mean I would have to go out of my way to bleach them. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

2) Stretchy – I dont’ DO many things that are stretchy. I just feel like all of my bumps and veins are showing.

3) Maternity-like waist band – I am almost 3 years out of maternity clothes…I hope to NEVER have to put them on again…I had a surgery to prevent it!

4) They didn’t fit 😦 This could be my fault. Maybe I was optimistic the day I was filling out my profile, but my day to day jeans are this size!

Adios Amigos!

So, that is about that. I kept 2/5 of my Fix, which is about right for me. In my review I told them that a skirt that moves might be nice…or a bag if they are stiff doing those! I realized when I was styling my outfits that I didn’t have much in the way of baggage to model with. Maybe next time!

Please let me know if you have ANY questions about Stitch Fix! And let me know if you sign up so we can chat when you get your fix! Maybe I could feature you for a guest Fix post….hmmmm.

Thank you for reading (oh, and thank you to whoever just got their first fix a few weeks ago! I put that credit to good use!)
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A Simple Teacher Appreciation Gift

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Who has the money to get huge extravagant gifts for their kids’ teachers? Not me! Since I have 3 munchkins with 8 teacher total! (2 in day care with 2 teachers each and 1 in Kindergarden with a main teacher, parapro teacher, long term sub because the main teacher’s husband just had surgery, AND a student teacher that my kid had a crush on) there was no way I could even get them all gift cards or candles this year. So, the Sunday before teacher appreciation day (when I got the reminder email from my son’s school) I searched Pintrest and my house for ideas. Here’s what I came up with:

Pencils, Candies, and Confetti!

Pencils, Candies, and Confetti!

So I searched through my arts and crafts bins and bags…basically half of my bedroom and came up with some colorful pencils, a bags of Smarties, and some clear treat bags. JACKPOT!

So I started by chopping the bags in half so that the 2 pencils would poke out the top when they were closed. Then I added 2-3 things of Smarties, a handful of confetti, and tied them together with the ties that came with the bags (the ones that look like bread bag ties). I considered leaving them that way for simplicities sake, but then I had to go and push myself. Silly girl!

Without the bow...totally acceptable.

Without the bow…totally acceptable.

I busted out a pile of scrapbook paper, fun scissors, teacher stickers and ribbon and went to town.

First, I used the fun scissors on 2 sides of the paper and came up with an ADORABLE saying for the tags. Than, I added a couple of teacher stickers on the back to make them “educational.” Last, I tied them up with some hot pink ribbon!

Thanks for making me SHARP & SMART!

Thanks for making me SHARP & SMART!

So easy!

So easy!

My kids LOVED giving these to their teachers and I loved that they were basically FREE since I already had everything.

These would be awesome birthday party favors too…but I don’t know if you would make too many friends if you give out confetti!

Do you participate in Teachers’ Appreciation Day/Week? Do you just wait for the last few days of school? Are you a teacher and you HATE this kind of stuff? Let me know!!

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Sunday Dinner During the Week

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AKA A whole chicken in the crockpot!

Now I know that some people might get a little nervous putting a whole chicken in the crockpot…and I don’t blame them! Those guys have a lot of little bones hiding in there! It usually ends with me picking gingerly through the meat to make sure that my kiddos don’t end up with a plate full of bones, BUT the flavor is ever so worth it!

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Doesn’t that just look amazing?! So simple!

I’m drooling all over again looking at that picture! The package of Milanos that I am destroying while I type are just not doing the trick!

So the first step is to gather your ingredients.

1) Whole chicken – I usually buy these on clearance at Kroger (and a lot of times I luck into an organic chicken!) for under $7. IF I can get my kids to eat properly one of these 5ish pound chickens would be the perfect size, but since they will only push around the yummy food that I put on their plates I frequently get 2 meals out of it.

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2) Olive oil

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3) Seasoning of choice! I chose to try one of the seasonings that I for from the Culinology® in Portland a few weeks ago. You can really use any seasoning that your family likes. This one has a bit of a kick which we enjoy.

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After you have gathered everything (seriously, that is all there is!) I spray down the crockpot and voila!

Olive Oil cooking spray

Olive Oil cooking spray

Next, I generously sprinkled the frozen chicken with seasoning. I made sure he had a good solid coat so that the flavoring went all the way through! After seasoning my young friend I added a drizzle of olive oil. I’m Italian…everything has at least olive oil and/or garlic. I decided not to add garlic this time because I really wanted to test the new seasoning.

Seasoned and Oiled Whole Chicken

Seasoned and Oiled Whole Chicken

Once he was all set I put the lid on and put the chicken in the fridge…that’s right, I did this the night before so that the next day my husband (who works from home) could turn it on after he got our son on the bus. Now, most crock pots that I have seen have 2 settings, low and high., but our crock pot has 5 (2 low, 2 high, and warm). I don’t remember who got us this for our wedding almost 7 years ago…wait WHAT!?…but I love them forever for it because I use it constantly!

So anyway…hubs turns the crockpot on the lowest setting (10 hours) and gets tortured by the smell all day 🙂 When I got home I realized that I had not thrown any veggies in the crockpot and man cannot live on meat alone (well, except bacon…duh) so I found some fresh green beans from our Farmers Market Basket. I gave them a rinse and threw them in a skillet with some coconut oil and salt to cook. Nice and simple…nothing fancy…and then VOILA!

Yummo Chicken

Yummo Chicken

Chicken in the crockpot literally falls off all of the bones. It is amazing. And the seasoning was perfection. We placed a small amount on the kids plates (knowing that there wasn’t a chance they would eat it, but maybe they would try it) and then went to town!

Chicken and Green Beans

Chicken and Green Beans

Seriously delicious and simple!

Seriously delicious and simple! And yes, I am using this picture again!

This dinner was exactly what was needed after working 8 hours and enduring a horrible commute in both directions. It left me full and happy without anything gross.

What is your go to weeknight meal? I am always looking to expand my options and I would love to hear what you are cooking!

The Boston Butt of Goodness!

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Pork in a Crockpot!

That is really what this amazingly simple recipe is 🙂

I was motivated by one of my favorite bloggers Nom Nom Paleo and her Slow Cooker Kalua Pig and a sale on Boston Butt at Kroger.

Nom Nom Paleo

Nom Nom Paleo

So I grabbed my butt…

Boston Butt

Boston Butt

And my bacon…

Bacon...and it was on sale...and lasted 3 meals!

Bacon…and it was on sale…and lasted 3 meals!

And I covered the bottom of the crockpot with bacon…

Mmmm

Mmmm

Then I placed the beautiful butt on top (fat side up!) and shoved some cloves of garlic in him…

Who doesn't love garlic?

Who doesn’t love garlic?

Then I turned that puppy on for 10 hours (the longest setting on my crock pot) and walked away. You won’t need any liquid because of the fat from the roast and bacon.

All day my house smelled amazing! I may have occasionally lifted the lid to take a sniff…It was all I could do to keep from putting a fork in there are tasting it!

The Final Product!

The Final Product!

This roast made more than I had anticipated too! After serving three adults (all who had double servings) and three children I had almost a full Tupperware container!

Leftovers!!

Leftovers!!

These leftovers are awesome served as pork tacos or in a breakfast scramble. I plan on making this again in the near future…maybe for Christmas! Mmmmm. If you try this let me know how it goes!

 

 

 

 

Almond Butter in a Pinch

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So on Halloween I chopped myself up an apple and planned on dipping it in almond butter as a light “dinner” before taking the midgets trick or treating. Unfortunately Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard was bare…at least of almond butter. *sad face*

To cheer myself up I decided to try a new recipe. Homemade Almond Butter!! It had always looked super easy, but I had yet to try it.

Here’s what you do:

Throw a handful of almonds in your grinder (I use a coffee grinder)

Almonds in a Grinder

Almonds in a Grinder

Pulse it…pulse it real good…(sorry…)

 

Within like a minute you will have almond flour!!

Almond Flour!!

Almond Flour!!

So quick! So easy! So NOT $7.00 a bag!

BUT wait, there’s more! Put the lid back on and pulse it some more and soon you have almond butter!! It won’t we quite as creamy as you are used to, but it is delicious…it is so good that the picture ate itself :-/ Since it will not be quite as creamy you will have to stir it a little and press it together, but man is it worth the extra effort!!

I ended up eating the apple plain and then the almond butter with a spoon!  Let me know how your’s turns out!