Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Personalized Tile Coasters

I got crafty this past week. Christmas is coming and I still have a few people left on my list for gifts. I believe that handmade gifts mean more to the recipient than anything that can be bought at a store. I made these beauties for my father-in-law. He loves this kind of stuff.
What you will need to duplicate these:
4 (4"X4") tiles- These can be found at Lowes or Home Depot. They range in price from about $0.15 to $1.50 a piece. The ones I bought were from Lowes and were $0.33 each.
16 felt circles- I bought mine from the Dollar Tree. They came in packs of 12 and have adhesive already on them.
4 photos of your choice- I had 4" X 6" prints done at Walmart for $0.19 each.
clear coat- I used Rust-Oleum Crystal Clear Enamel I found at Lowes for under $5.00.
rubber cement- Can be bought at any craft store for around $3.00.
First cut pictures to fit so there is an outline of the tile in the background. Apply a generous amount of rubber cement to the surface of the tile. Place picture on top of the rubber cement and smooth out any air bubbles. Allow to dry overnight.
The next day, spray each tile with the clear coat in a well ventilated area. Allow to dry for 30 minutes then repeat with a second coat. Allow to dry for a complete 24 hours. Once dry, place a felt circle on each corner of the underside of the tile.

That's my kind of project....simple, that looks like you put a lot of effort into it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Polar Express inspired bells

One of my favorite Christmas movies has to be The Polar Express. We have a tradition of watching it every Christmas Eve just before the kids put out milk and cookies for Santa. One year I bought them all their own bells with each of their names on them for our tree. I probably paid too much for them, but it was worth it just for the mere fact that they followed along with the story of The Polar Express. Looking back in hindsight, I'm sure I could have made them for a lot less.
I wanted a unique gift for my son's and daughter's teachers this year. It had to be something that would remind them of my child each time they looked at it. A teacher friend of mine suggested an ornament. That's when the search began for the perfect item. Then I remembered the bell ornaments I had bought my children and how easy they would be to duplicate.
I found a pack of 9 bells at the Dollar Tree along with the curling ribbon. Did I mention how much I love that store for my crafting addiction? Well, I do. You never know what you'll find in there.
Keeping with The Polar Express theme, I wanted to add something to make the bell have more of a meaning. I ran across Crafts re-Designed and she had a link to these cute little tags. I love the saying on them and had to add them to mine. To make them a little more sturdy, since I didn't have any card stock, I glued the tags to some green construction paper. I wrote my child's name and year on the back so their teach will remember just who gave it to them and when. Easy, peasy gift that only cost me $2 and less than half an hour to make.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Letter to Santa

Yesterday was day 3 of Advent and our activity was to write a letter to Santa. After dinner I sat down with my twin 3 year olds and talked to them about what they wanted to say to Santa. I hand wrote a letter from each of them and put them into an envelope until I could find an actual address I could mail them to.

In the past we always just left our letter out on Christmas Eve and Santa would get it then. He would then leave the toys on the list. This year I thought it would be fun if they got their own piece of mail. I can't wait to see their faces when their letters arrive.

I wanted to get a list of websites and addresses together that had the option to write a letter to Santa and get one in return. When I started researching where to mail our letters to, I couldn't believe how many different choices there are. Below are the ones I thought are worth a look:

1. Write your own letter to your child from Santa and mail it to the below address in a self-addressed stamped envelope and the USPS will post mark it and mail it back so that it looks like Santa actually mailed it himself. Mail needs to be received by December 15th in order to get a response before Christmas. *Be careful though with this one....your child may recognize your handwriting. Better to have someone else write it for you.

    North Pole Christmas Cancellation
    54000 Mail Trail
    Fairbanks, AK 99709

2. The USPS has volunteers that will write a letter from Santa if you mail it to the address below. It needs to be received by December 21st in order to get a response.

    Santa Claus
    PO Box 1
    Santa Claus, ID 47579

3. This return letter comes from the actual North Pole. It does cost $5 to guarantee a response. You do need to mail a picture of your child and a self-addressed stamped envelope along with a check payable to North Polar LLC. You will get a letter, an authentic "Nice List", and a special photo in return.

    N. P. S. C.
    PO Box 56099
    North Pole, Alaska 99705-1099

4. Some people prefer to email Santa. Both links below allow you to send an email and get one in return.


5. If you want to really want to see their faces light up, how about a personalized video message from Santa?

PNP Video

6. You can also create your own letter from these these three links:

Free Santa Letters
Best Santa's Letter
Letter From Santa

7. I love this site because there is so much more than just getting a letter from Santa. There are printables, activities, games and recipes to get you in the Christmas spirit.

North Pole

8. I just have to mention this site because it is one of my favorites.... This is where we keep an eye on when Santa is going to arrive on Christmas Eve. It's so much fun watching the kids get excited when his sleigh is spotted near our area!

Norad Santa Tracker

9. This is also a fun site just to have the kiddos see to reinforce their belief in Santa. Santa comes out to feed the reindeer At 11am, 6pm and 9pm EST.

Reindeer Cam

10. Lastly, there is always the old standby and write a letter yourself and leave it out where your child can find it. Wouldn't it be fun if it appeared sticking out of the top of their stocking?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Advent Calendar with Activities

December 1st is just a little under a week away and that means Advent starts. I figured this would be a good time to get my calendar finished. I have been wanting to come up with something that I can use year after year and I wanted something that would include an activity and a treat so I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration. There are plenty of ideas pinned, but nothing seemed to be what I was looking for. One day, during a shopping trip to Micheal's, I found these cute mini-stockings.
I happened to catch them on sale and had a 20% off coupon for my whole order which brought them down to $0.59 a piece. Score for me! I just love getting a good deal! I did also see some similar to these at the Dollar Tree which came in a two pack that I would have bought had I not already bought the ones from Micheal's.
I purchased some red, green, and silver fabric paint and embellished each stocking with a number from 1-24 thus creating my Advent countdown. I wrote out the activities we were going to do on plain white paper and glued each one to red and green construction paper. Then I cut them out creating a border with the red and green paper. Each stocking got an activity and a special treat.

Here's what I came up with for a list of activities for Advent:
  1. Decorate the tree
  2. Address Christmas cards
  3. Write a letter to Santa
  4. Make Christmas cards for soldiers
  5. Leave out wooden shoes for St. Nick
  6. Make cotton ball Santa and watch Santa's Coming to Town
  7. Make paper snowflakes and watch Charlie Brown Christmas
  8. See light show at Wiregrass Mall (any public light display will do)
  9. Make an ornament for the tree
  10. Random act of kindness
  11. Hang mistletoe and kiss under it
  12. Watch the Grinch and make Grinch punch
  13. Watch the Polar Express and make hot coca
  14. Play a game
  15. Visit Santa
  16. Go for a drive to see Christmas lights in our pjs
  17. Make gifts for teachers
  18. Watch Rudolph and make popcorn
  19. Read "The Night Before Christmas"
  20. Read the birth of Jesus- Luke 2
  21. Make fudge for gifts
  22. Go ice skating
  23. Make Christmas cookies
  24. Family Christmas party
  25. Have a Merry Christmas!

I hung each stocking on a piece of twine using some clothes pins I already had. Doesn't it look nice hanging across the mantle? I love it and it was so simple to make. Just one more thing to check off my holiday list of things to do. I hope you are doing the same.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

DIY Cat Toys

With Christmas being at our heels, I have been busy making presents. One of my latest were fleece tie blankets for my sweet twin boys. I had some scraps leftover and decided to make some cat treats instead of pitching them in the garbage. I try to be thrifty when I can since money is always tight around the holidays.
These fish were so simple to make and our kitty now has four new toys to play with...well I should say hide. I am always finding her toys behind the couch or under our bed.
All you need is some scraps of fleece fabric and a plastic grocery bag to use as stuffing. I used  5" X 5" squares of fleece. Right sides facing each other, trace a fish and cut it out. Sew together, leaving a big enough hole to stuff,n inside out so the right sides are facing outwards now. Stuff with small piece of your grocery bag and sew hole closed. See....I told you, EASY! They take about 5-10 minutes each to make.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beef Tips with Baby Portabello Mushrooms

I wasn't sure if I should post this recipe here or in Tastefully Tuesdays. Since my sister blog is used for rating my Pinterest finds, I decided to post it here. This is entirely my own recipe created by yours truly....ME! And as always....super easy! You know I love easy. Did I mention delicious, too?
1 lb beef tips
6 oz package baby portabellos- sliced
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope french onion soup mix
2&1/2 cups of water
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
In a large skillet, brown beef tips. Approximately 5-10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until meat and mushrooms are tender. Approximately 15-20 minutes.
Serve over egg noodles and Voila! Delicious meal with hardly any effort.

I must be getting better at tinkering in the kitchen because I didn't hear one complaint from anyone about this meal and there were no leftovers! I love when I have created something that my family likes. If you try this recipe, please let me know how you liked it. I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DIY Christmas Ornament

I wanted to make something special for gifts this year. What's better than a personalized ornament to show off on their Christmas tree? They were so simple to create and I love that a little piece of my family will be included on someone else's tree.

What you will need:

  1. Plastic ornament that can be filled. I found mine at Joanne's, but I saw them at Walmart for $0.97.
  2. Sheer ribbon in color of your choice. I picked up a deep red from Dollar Tree.
  3. Elmer's glue
  4. Clear glitter to use as the snow inside
  5. Glitter to match the color of your ribbon. I chose red to match.
  6. Family photo

First I had to resize my photo so it would fit inside the ornament. This was the hardest part. There was a lot of trial and error. I finally chose 1.75" X 2" then just rounded the corners so it fit better.

I added a bit of the clear glitter to give it the snow effect inside and put the top back on. I did find some confetti, red stars in the birthday decoration section at Walmart that I'm going to add to give it a little more pop of color. I just haven't gotten around to doing it yet.

With the Elmer's Glue, I drew 2012 on the back and sprinkled the red glitter over it. Now they will always know what year they received it.

Lastly, I tied a little piece of ribbon around the top. Viola! My finished product. Since I had everything already and only had to purchase the ribbon and the ornament, it only cost about $2.00 to make.

Please feel free to share your creations here. Happy crafting!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

15 Holiday Gift Ideas for the Man in Your Life

If you're like me, then you struggle with what to get your husband/boyfriend every year for Christmas. Finding the perfect gift can be quite a task. With all the gizmos and gadgets to chose from it's hard to know where to begin. You want something that shows you put some thought into his gift, but you also don't want something that is going to just be collecting dust in the back of the closet. Something that isn't going to break the bank either. New socks, undies and a comfy pair of pjs are a family tradition that each family member gets every year in my home. I find myself stressing over something unique for my husband year after year. This year is like no other....with a little over 6 weeks left to shop, I still have no idea what that special item will be. This is usually where I enlist the help of my children. They get him to talk about things he would like then report back to me. Not this year....I am doing it all by myself. Below is the list I compiled to help all those wives with difficult husband's to shop for just like mine get started:

1. Sporting Event or Concert Tickets: Surprise your beau with two tickets to his favorite team's next home game. Or go for the whole package and plan a weekend away at their next away game. For the man more into the arts, concert tickets may be the way to go.

2. Sunglasses: Sunglasses always have a way of getting lost or sat on and by the end of the year a new pair is needed. A good pair of Oakley sunglasses like these would be just what he needs.
3. Sporting Equipment: If your husband likes to play sports, a new piece of equipment to keep him on top of his game. A new putter, fishing gear or a baseball mitt..... oh the possibilities are endless.
4. An Engraved Flask: For the classy way to have a drink, a personalized flask would be a great idea! Add his favorite bottle of liquor and he'll be ready to ring in the New Year.

5. Athletic Wear: Purchase a new tee and matching pair of athletic pants for the workout junkie in your life. Or make him apart of his favorite team and create a jersey with his team's colors and iron his name on the back.
6. Photo Book: Nothing says "I love you" like a book full of memories you both have shared together. There are plenty of places to upload pictures to and create a wonderful book from. One of my favorite sites is Shutterfly for all my photo creations.

7. Tool Set: A matching tool set with tool bag included for the "Mr. Fixit." Then he will always know where his tools are. Lowes has a great set at a reasonable price.


8. Electronics: What man doesn't love a new television or maybe the latest blu-ray player? With how quickly there are advances in technology, I can bet the camcorder you bought two years ago is antiquated and doesn't have the latest features.

9. Tervis Tumbler: Tervis tumblers have become quite popular over the past year. The great thing about them is they are made in the USA and have a lifetime guarantee. Gifts.com even offers personalized tumblers where you can add your favorite pic of the two of you.
10. Emergency Tool: Better to be prepared than to be caught off guard in case of an emergency....Amazon has this great little tool to carry in your vehicle for just those instances. It is a self-powered radio, seat belt cutter and hammer all in one.

11. Basket of Goodies: My grandmother always said, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach." This is a great idea for couples who have moved away from where they grew up. Since my husband and I are originally from Buffalo, NY, I found Made in Buffalo. Everything in each basket can only be found in Buffalo. This gives him a little taste of home. Any basket of your guy's favorite goodies would do, also.
12. DVD Boxed Set: Missed season one of The Walking Dead? Why not pick it up for under the tree? There's nothing better than cuddling up together while it's cold outside and watching a bunch of zombies running around. Not one for zombies? There are plenty of series out on DVD you can chose from. 
13. Spa Day: Want something for the romantic side of your love? Maybe reserve a day at a local spa where the two of you can go unwind together and reconnect. Keep an eye on Groupon for deals and steals.
14. Gift Certificate: Still not sure what to get....a gift certificate to his favorite restaurant, home improvement, or electronics store is a safe choice. Most can be found in any grocery store in the checkout lanes now.
15. Leather Goods: Wallets, jackets, brief cases....oh my! Genuine leather holds up to even the most brutal of men and well worth the money. I'm a big supporter of American made and Will Leather Goods have some beautiful items made on our own soil.
Well there it is....my list of gift ideas for the man in your life. I hope I have inspired you in some way. Please feel free to leave me a comment on my ideas or add some more of your own. Happy shopping!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Toilet Time- How I Potty Trained Twin Boys

I was about done with changing diapers and decided it as time to start thinking about how to potty train my twin boys. I had potty trained my other two children, but it was not at the same time and did not know here to begin for the boys. Do I train them together? Do I train them separately? Was I even ready to take on the challenge of potty training? I had no idea. So I started to do some research on how to train twins. What I found was, since each child is different, there are no real set of directions to potty training a child let alone how to train two of them.

The one thing I did find to successfully potty training is to make sure each child is ready. I told myself it was ok if one was ready and the other just wasn't. Each child will eventually get the hang of using the toilet, it just takes some patience. I looked for things like:
  1. Staying dry for extended periods of time. It shows some bladder control.
  2. Showing an interest in bathroom rituals. For example following me whenever I went or wanting to flush after going.
  3. Starting to be aware that they are wet or have pooped.
  4. The ability to use words to describe bodily functions.
Each of my children were ready at about 2 1/2-3 years old. Quite a few articles I had read regarding potty training in general stated that some children are ready as early as 18 months. If you believe your child is ready that early then by all means go ahead and try. In my opinion, that isn't old enough. I knew that if I tried to soon I would only end up frustrating myself and the boys. I don't believe a child fully understands these type of things until they are closer to 3 years old.

With my twin boys, they were 3 years and one month old when I potty trained them. I think one of them was ready a lot sooner than that, but since they do everything together I decided to wait until they were both ready. Neither of them have learned to be independent of each other yet and did not want to force it with potty training. I thought potty training them together would make things go smoother and they could learn from each other.

Potty Training In 3 Days or Less talks about how to accomplish it over a weekend. I decided to set 5 days aside where we did nothing but focus on potty training since there were two children instead of just one. I didn't think the weekend was a good choice for us so I chose to use the weekdays. This way my other two children were at school for the majority of the day thus cutting down on distractions.

Before we could begin our journey to being diaper less, I had to come up with some ways to make it fun for the twins. I read about using sticker charts and doing a potty dance. I didn't think they would work well for my boys. Try to do something that your child truly enjoys to make potty training more appealing. I decided that since my boys both loved jelly beans and Dum Dum suckers that they would act as their rewards. Each time they put pee pee in the potty they would get a jelly bean. And each time they put poo poo in the potty they would get a Dum Dum sucker. We were also going to include grandma and grandpa in the process. The first time each of my boys used the toilet on their own they were going to be able to make a special phone call to whatever grandparent they chose so they could brag about their accomplishment.

Awhile back I purchased an Elmo's Potty Time DVD. For the week prior to our 5 days of no diapers we started each morning watching it and talking about how going potty on the toilet means you're growing up to be a big boy. And each time I went to use the toilet I would take them with me. This way I could show the twins how to use the toilet correctly. I would make each of them also go with my husband so they could see how boys stand and pee pee. He was going to be in charge of teaching to pee standing up. At the end of that week I felt we were finally ready to start the path to diaper freedom.

Day One

We woke up and had breakfast. While eating I explained to my twins that we were not going to wear any diapers today, but instead going to put our pee pee and poo poo in the potty. I also explained that for the entire day they were going without any bottoms on. I made sure I kept supplying juice and water so they would have to go frequently. We took turns every 15 minutes sitting on the potty. The first few times were mainly to get used to sitting there. About the third time sitting on the potty my first twin finally started to go. He immediately jumped up screaming "I'm going pee pee!" as pee was going everywhere. I was so proud of him that I didn't mind only half of it made it in the toilet. Like I said there are no set of directions to potty training. I was just glad that he realized pee pee belongs in the potty. Moments later the second twin was going, too. Finally, I knew our days of diapers were over. They both got to make their phone calls once we were through. We continued with the rest of our morning going to the bathroom every 15 minutes until lunchtime.

We had lunch and I praised them both for doing such a good job all morning long. Neither one had a single accident and I thought it was time to wait a little longer between bathroom trips. After lunch we started going every half hour instead of every 15 minutes. I wanted to try to teach them how to control their bladder. I continued to keep filling them with juice and water throughout the rest of the afternoon. They both seemed to be getting it like a pro as long as I was taking them every 30 minutes. The real test is going to be later in the week when we aren't going to the bathroom as often.

I stopped letting the boys have anything to drink right around dinner time. I wanted to start making them go to bed with an empty bladder so there would be no accidents at night. After dinner we made one more trip to the bathroom and got ready for bed. I put them in training pants to sleep in and put them to bed. We had made it through our first day! I could not believe how well being diaper-free was going.

Day Two

Day two went pretty much like day one. We spent the day without any bottoms on and drank a lot of juice and water. During the morning time we made our trip to the bathroom every half hour. After lunch we increased our potty time to every hour. This is where I found my twins started to have accidents. Accidents are unavoidable and should be expected. Don't forget I was still giving them much more to drink than what they are normally used to. When one twin had an accident I just made sure I explained that pee pee/poo poo belonged in the toilet. I then had whoever had the accident help me clean it up. I never once said "it's ok" or "don't worry about it" because I did not want to condone soiling themselves, but I also did not scold them either. Scolding for having an accident would only discourage your child and possibly cause you to lose all the progress already made toward being done with diapers permanently. Instead simply just reinforced what we have been practicing. Let's face it, practice does make perfect.

Day Three

By day three my twins were beginning to realize when they had to go on their own. We started the morning off by going straight to the bathroom. Let me explain here that I never carried the potty chair all over the house during the whole potty training process. All the articles I read and all the advice I was given said to have the potty seat everywhere your child was at. I believe that either way would work, but I wanted my twins to get in the habit of going into the bathroom to use the toilet.

Throughout the rest of the day I slowly increased the time between potty breaks and gradually went back to their normal amount of drinks until it finally happened.......my first twin disappeared into the bathroom all by himself! I was so excited that my little boy was growing up! And by the end of the day both of my boys were telling me they had to use the toilet.

Day Four

Since the past three days went so well, I decided to venture out to let my twins pick out some big boy undies. After breakfast was over, I got the boys ready for our trip to Target. I put them in training pants just in case. I didn't want to get stuck at the store alone trying to change one child and keep the other one occupied at the same time. I decide that was a challenge I wanted to take on when my husband was with me.

One last trip to the bathroom and we were off. Even though I am a shopping goddess, I knew our first time away from home had to be a short trip. We made it to Target and went directly to the toddler section. I was proud of myself....I even walked completely past the dollar section that grabs me every time I enter the store. When we found the undies, I let each boy pick out their own package. The first twin chose a package of Elmo print while the other twin chose Thomas the Train. Big boy undies were a huge deal and I was glad I finally didn't have to ever buy diapers again.

We went directly home where I put their new undies in to be washed so they could be worn later in the day. Much to my surprise both boys made it home completely dry. While we waited for their undies to finish, we had lunch and continued practicing using the toilet.

The rest of the day was spent running around in nothing but their new undies. You could see the excitement in each of their eyes. They must have tried on every single pair just because they could. While there were a few accidents, I was proud that both boys had made the transition out of diapers and into underwear.


Day Five

I planned for five days, but I really only needed four. I spent this last day reinforcing everything I had taught them the last four days. There were accidents along the way, but we just rolled with the punches and carried on. After all it's only been a few days since we quit wearing diapers cold turkey.

Yeah! With the help of my husband, I had potty trained two boys! On occassion we still use training pants if we know we are going to be away from home for an extended period of time. I don't think my boys really need them, I think it is more for piece of mind for me. Soon days of shopping in the baby section will be a thing of the past for us except for the occassional baby shower gift.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Family Management Binder

Being that I have ADD, staying focused and organized is a daily struggle. I regularly forget where I put that permission slip for school or the current cable bill. All too often are appointments missed or bills paid late because I have just forgotten. Let's not even talk about remembering to mail out family birthday cards. And I can't imagine how things would run if something were to happen to me. My husband would be lost. He doesn't have a clue where anything is located in our house or any of the important information that keeps our house running. This is where I made the decision to do something about it.

One morning as I sat drinking my morning coffee, I was scrolling through Pinterest and I ran across iheart organizing. It inspired me to create our own family management binder. So I sat down and brainstormed what I needed to include in it. As I thought about what information I was going to need, I realized that I should have done this years ago! I guess better late than never, right? Well anyway this is what I finally decided to include:
  • emergency contacts
  • CPR instructions
  • a sleeve with take-out menus
  • a full month by month calendar
  • home maintenance section
  • household chores
  • monthly bills
  • auto insurance
  • auto payments coupons
  • school information
  • medical information
  • pet information
  • birthday list
  • Christmas card list
  • miscellaneous section
Beginning with the most important information, the first page of our binder has our address and phone number. This is for the babysitter or guests that may visit so if there should be an emergency they would be able to direct someone to our home. The next page has our emergency contact information on it. I included the local Sheriff's, Animal Control, Poison Control, the neighbor's, our cell phones and a few relative's phone numbers. Next I added CPR instructions for infants, small children and adults.Then I added a clear plastic sleeve to put all the take-out menus we have acquired in so they aren't scattered all over the kitchen.
The first major section is a month by month calendar all the way thru December 2013. I just went online and googled free printable calendars, chose one I liked and printed it out. The one I chose can be found here: 2012 calendar and here: 2013 calendar. Right away I filled in all the birthdays and important school dates. Then I noted the due dates for any recurring payments and monthly bills. I even included when the pets are due for their shots. Now whenever I make an appointment or things arrive in the mail, they get logged directly on the calendar.
The home maintenance section has a list of all home repairs made and receipts. I have even made a list of important telephone numbers for our local repairmen. The next time the air conditioning goes out I won't have to fumble for his business card, it'll be easier to find his number. This is also where I chose to keep our renter's policy at for easy access.
A clean home is a happy home.....a family binder wouldn't be complete without a household chore section. I printed out a weekly chart from here: chore chart and filled in my weekly schedule. This is mainly for the everyday cleaning. The deep cleaning I broke down into 3 categories; every three months, every six months and yearly. Here is my breakdown:
Every three months
  • clean oven
  • vacuum behind fridge
  • vacuum upholstery
  • wash curtains
  • polish baseboards and trim
  • descale coffee pot
  • vacuum mattress
  • launder throw rugs
  • wash light fixtures
Every six months
  • launder pillows
  • clean lampshades
  • sponge-clean upholstery
  • wash slip-covers
  • scrub grout
  • vacuum condenser coil (fridge)
  • wash comforter and bed skirt
  • wash kitchen cabinets, inside and out
  • deep clean stove hood
  • ceiling fans
Every year
  • clean carpets
  • wash walls
  • clean blinds
  • clean vents
  • garage
Our monthly bills or finance section is probably going to be the most used section in our home. Bills are a necessary evil that we will always have so keeping them organized will alleviate any stress that they may cause. The first page is devoted to those monthly utilities. I listed each one, the corresponding account numbers and contact information. The next page is for all our credit cards and loans. I found this great printable here: debt worksheet and just filled it in. I added a pocket to put the actual bills in once they have been logged onto the calendar.
The next two sections pertain to our automobiles. I have the payment coupons, insurance information and a maintenance log here. I added some plastic sleeves to hold receipts and a copy of the insurance policy in. I plan to take pictures of each vehicle for reference if we are ever in an accident or if they should be stolen.
The kids get their own sections for everything school related. The names, addresses and phone numbers of each school are all on the first page along with each child's teacher's name. I included a district calendar and a copy of my daughter's schedule. All notes that come home go into a plastic sleeve for safe keeping. I also keep a current copy of my son's IEP here.
I have a separate section for our medical information. All of our doctors' contact information and pharmacy information is on the first page. I included a current list of all medications taken and have a clear sleeve to store all unfilled prescriptions in.
Our furrbabies deserve their own spot in the family binder since they are an extension of our family. The vet's address, telephone number and hours of operation are listed. I store their microchip numbers and current licenses here also. Our dogs have a wandering spirit and I need to keep them handy for those times when they decide to run off.
I most likely will be the only one to use the next two sections since the duty of sending birthday and Christmas cards is usually reserved for me. I only send cards to close friends and relatives so I decided to devote a whole section to Christmas and birthdays. If I sent them to everyone I knew, I would go broke. Creating a designated list for each saves me having to go through my address book and risking the chance that I miss someone. I also stuck a shopping list for Christmas here so I can keep track of who I need to buy for this year and what I plan to get them.
Finally, last but not least is the miscellaneous section. This is where everything that I haven't figured out what to do with yet goes.

I pinky promise to add some pictures to show off my creation just as soon as I find the battery to my camera. Next organization project will be putting all my recipes into a binder so stop back soon to see what I'm up to.
*Update......Here's the completed project. Feel free to share yours on my Facebook page.One Majestic Mama Happy organizing!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

What's for Dinner?

It's the the age old question in every one's home...What's for dinner? I find myself struggling with this quite often. I wanted to share some of my thoughts on how I handle menu planning while I please my family's palate.

First, I have to find something that is kid friendly. Having four children has its challenges to do just about anything and keep them all happy. Dinner is no different. Usually I have at least one child that does not like what is made and ends up having something other than what was originally prepared. I have had the most success in choosing a dish that has a variety of colors and is spin off of a family favorite. To make things healthier I try to sneak in vegetables where I can. Mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes, mix pureed butternut squash in with spaghetti sauce or in macaroni and cheese, and use spaghetti squash instead of noodles are just some to name a few. Eating healthy doesn't mean it has to taste bad. Cooking should be about getting creative and having fun. Not about just a daily chore.

Second, I have to think about the fat and cholesterol content in what I am cooking. Having high cholesterol and a predisposition to heart disease, I have to watch what I eat. There is no more fried chicken or big juicy hamburgers cooked in our home. Everything I make is baked, broiled or grilled and I steam or roast vegetables instead of boiling them. I use only olive oil to cook with and avoid cooking with butter. Whole grains have taken the place where white bread, white rice and flour tortillas used to be used. My family doesn't seem to notice the changes and I am giving them the opportunity to have a healthier lifestyle.

And lastly, by teaching my children healthy eating now, it will carry over into adulthood. Hopefully it will prevent them from becoming a victim to obesity and all the other complications that go along with it. By taking small steps to watch what we put into our bodies they create huge rewards. Not only do I feel better, but in the last 6 weeks I have dropped 20 pounds and gone down a full pant size. It can't imagine what I am going to look like a year from now by making these changes.

Below are some of my favorite recipe sites that I love to plan my menu from:

Food Network
Cambell's Kitchen

As always happy cooking! Check back often to see what I have cooked up for dinner...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Potato Pancakes

Good Food, Let's Eat!

Our meals have been quite boring lately. We seem to eat the same things day in and day out. I have made it a priority to liven up our boring menu while eating more healthy and wholesome foods. I had a wake up call on my last doctor appointment when my doctor told me that my cholesterol was dangerously high. From now on it is all about where I can cut the fat and still have tasty meals. After all I have four reasons to make a change, my kids!

This week I started off with a new spin on an old recipe that has been around for generations: Potato Pancakes. Yummy! They turned out fantastic and the best part was the kids couldn't even tell they were low-fat. The only thing to make them better would've been a nice warm glass of gluwein(German Christmas wine) like the ones found at the German Christmas Markets.

Ingredients :

4 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 cup breadcrumbs, divided
4 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil

4 tbsp chopped chives (optional)

-Combine potatoes, chives, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, and egg substitute in medium mixing bowl.
-Combine remaining breadcrumbs and cheese on a plate. Divide potato mixture into 16 equal portions, dredge in breadcrumb mixture and form into 1/4 inch thick patties.
-Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Add 4 patties; cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
-Serve warm with unsweetened applesauce and low-fat sour cream.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Monogram Letter made from Seashells

I love anything to do with the beach. I love the sand, the sea, the surf. I especially love to hunt for shells of all shapes and sizes. I was beginning to get quite the collection going and needed to come up with another way to display my precious finds.

After searching for a few days on the Internet for something to catch my eye, I found the perfect way to show off what I had plucked from the sand. Over and over again I kept seeing the same theme, monogram letters. Aha! That was it! I was going to create a beautiful masterpiece that represented our family with something I loved so much.

This by far is one of the easiest things I have created for my home and looks wonderful hanging in my bathroom. You will need the following items:

-Heavy duty cardboard
-Hot glue gun

First on the cardboard trace any letter and cut it out. *I glued two pieces together for extra support as the shells started to get heavy as I added each one. The letter doesn't have to be perfectly shaped as the shells will get glued along all the edges to hide the imperfections. Next start gluing away until you can't see anymore cardboard. Finally attach a piece of ribbon on the back to hang.

Voila! This is my finished project. You could add some embellishments or just leave it as is. The possibilities are endless. Happy crafting! Please check back often as there will be plenty more things to come this year as I get back to cooking and crafting.