Monday, January 31, 2011

40 x 40 Goals - Book Club

Despite taking a break from diligently working on my 40 x 40 goals, I haven't forgotten them!  One of the things I wanted to work on first was to find a book club that I could be part of for at least 6 months.  Little did I know that there was one right under my nose :-)

See, I follow a blog called Bring the Rain, which is written by the wife of one of the members of the group Selah.  I just happened to click on something called "Bloom" on her Blog and low and behold, it was a book club.  It has been something that she and a friend of hers have been doing for awhile but now have joined forces with another site called (in)courage to hose the book club.  I'm so excited to follow this through!

The first book we are reading is One Thousand Gifts written by Ann Voskamp.

I'm so excited to get my book and start reading.  Basically, we read a chapter a week and than follow on the blog once a week to see the video from the book club.  If you are interested in reading more on this club, just check here!

So, this works toward another of those 40 x 40 goals that I posted long ago!  Progress is being made little by little :-)

Subway Art

Ever since I really starting looking at all the Arts and Crafts ideas that show up in blog land, I kept seeing a theme over and over - that is Subway Art. 

One of the blogs I follow, While he was Napping, is giving away this awesome piece based on those old "Conversation Hearts"
And that is just one example!  Isn't it super cute?  Every season, milestone in life, and just life in general can have a neat "Subway Art" created - I'm thinking this would look cute in my kitchen and than I could change it out each month/holiday/birthday for something different.  Since my next project is my kitchen . . .I think this just became decor!

So check out While He Was Napping to see this specific idea but also check out her whole site - she has some really fun date ideas on there too!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Valentines Countdowns

Valentine's Day Countdowns
I think that I shared both of these ideas at some point in some post but I wanted to show you my finished product!

First of all is the Countdown that we are going to be doing with the boys throughout the WHOLE month of February.  I decided to start this countdown February first instead of starting it 30 days before Valentines day.  We were already during our Winter Unit in January and I wanted to save the hearts for February

Is that awesome or what?  Josh has already noticed it and wants to start using it now!
You can get all of the items you need to make this same countdown from a great blog called mydeliciousambiguity.  She e-mails you the numbers and cards with ideas on them as well as the instructions - it is just a small fee but so worth the time it saves. ! 

The other countdown calendar that I'm doing is the "14 Days of Valentines" with Darryl
This idea comes from Love Actually - click on the "shop" section at the top of her blog and scroll down that section until you get to the 14 days sections :-)  She also e-mails you the basics of what you need, again for a small fee.

The ideas are cute - like each telling your favorite dating memory or taking 15 minutes to look through your dating scrapbook; sending each other a love letter through the mail and sending a text to each other on one day.  We will be pulling the card the night before (so we will pull our first card on Jan 31st) so that way, we know what to do the following day (some require a little planning like picking up a small gift or getting a card)  It's just a fun idea to do some special things together!

Weekly Organizational Challenge - Week #1

I've linked up with A Bowl Full of Lemons and am participating in her Weekly Challenges all dealing with cleaning and organizing!  I'm so excited because this fits right into my whole theme of "Simplify" that I am working on throughout this year. 

What better way to start than with building a Home Management Journal.  We can't have organized lives without a way to organize all of the important things that cross our paths each day!  Ironically, one of my "simplify" projects I'm working on is re-doing my control journal and routines to make them work better for me.  So this comes at the perfect time! 

I have my supplies to get started:
I already have my binder I use for my control journal but it is just plain green - so I pulled out some pretty scrapbook paper to change the look of it.  Plus my trusty label maker, highlighters, pens, a hole punch. 

What's my first step?  I'm going to use that scrapbook paper to make my binder pretty and label it so there is no question what it is. 

I'll be posting throughout the week showing you my progress but also (hopefully) sharing some freebie downloads and probably a few things you can pick up through creative Etsy shops out there too.  You can check out A Bowl Full of Lemons to get some of those ideas now!

I'll be linking up over at:

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Happenings In this House

Wow!  Another week has flown by and it's time to show (and tell you ) about some "Happenings in this House"

First, I wanted to give an update on my sister-in-law, Nora. 
(Isn't she Beautiful?)
She did have surgery on January 16th.  When she went in, the doctor was pretty confident that he would be removing the entire left lung but God had a miracle in the works!  When all was said and done, they "only" had to take the upper lobe where the tumor was sitting.  They did not have to break any ribs and she did not end up in ICU nor did she have to have a breathing tube left in after surgery - all things they expected to have happen.  Of course, they did a biopsy of lymph nodes to find out if it had spread . . .the doctor let them know before she left the hospital that everything was clear!!!  She goes back soon (if I remember right, it was 3 weeks after surgery, so soon sounds good!) for a scan to look for any other cancer; than she goes back in 6 months and than annually, I believe.  The type of cancer she has does come back sometimes which is why she'll have that annual scan to make sure nothing is popping up anywhere but at this point, there won't be any chemo or radiation!  It's just amazing!

And now, here are some photos from our week:
Playing trains with dad - Darryl built "tunnels" out of mega blocks while they were playing so now, all week, Josh has been trying to build them too!

One of Josh's favorite places to sit has always been on the arm of the couch looking out this window.  I can't rearrange my living room because he would lose "his window".

Nate and his (almost) always happy face.  He loves the camera!

The rolling of the eyes is a new thing he's doing - he does it when he is being silly.

"I've got my snack and I'm ready to go" - Nate makes some very funny faces sometimes! 

The boys had some laundry basket fun one day.  Nate LOVED riding in the basket and Josh LOVED pushing.  But Josh did NOT want to ride LOL  They all laughed and laughed and laughed during this whole play time

See, he's laughing :-)

Another night, they played "Under" and "Over" - the Under part (Josh crawling under Darryl) was easier than the "over" part :-)  But they all had fun!

Nate is stylin'!  hahaha  And yes, that is a dog toy, one of his favorites :-)
A couple of fun stories to share!
Lately, when Josh is playing, he will stop all of a sudden look around, put his palms up in the air and say "Whereisit?" "Whereisit?" "Whereisit?".  Most of the time I cannot figure out what is "missing".  Today, though, he was playing with his tool bench when he started asking that and pointing to one of the pegs where the tools hang - he was looking for his hammer.  A while later, he was playing with some other toys when he came running over to me with the hammer and said "SEE!!!" and than took it to his tool bench.  It was just so cute!!
Than, his other "new" word is "ewwwwww" :-)  We had fried rice with dinner and he kept saying "ewwww" and throwing it on the floor.  I guess we are little dense because it took us awhile to figure out that he wasn't being silly but rather was actually telling us he didn't like it LOL  He wanted "Cheeeeese"  (Mac and Cheese) instead.

Nate surprised is recently.  We were sitting at dinner one night this week when Darryl looked at Nate and asked, as we both do, "Would you like more rice?" (Or whatever is for dinner) and Nate said "yes".  Just like that LOL  We both looked at each other and said - "did you hear what I heard?" hahahaha

So there we go!  That's our Happenings for the week!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Valentine's Units and other Teaching Helps

It is hard to believe that we are looking at the beginning of February already! I wanted to share a couple of February Units that I'm using to plan our February lesson plans! 

First, here is a great Valentine's Unit from one of my favorites,  Musings of Me.  She does such awesome work and is so willing to share.  Make sure and check out her entire blog because she shares a multitude of ideas.
Than, Moo Moo's and Tutos has supplied another unit based on the letter "H" (for hearts).  She also has a great blog so check out her other posts for inspiration in other areas too!
Than, 1+1+1=1 shares her Valentine's Sensory bin.  We are still playing with our winter bin, but I'll have pictures soon of our February Bin!

Than, a friend shared this link to Story Time for Me.  I checked it out tonight and loved it.  There are different age levels (I didn't dig through the site yet) - I found ages 1-4 and 4-8.  Josh and I sat and listened to two different stories and he really enjoyed watching the story being told.

I'm always looking for different ways to interact with my kids and this is just simple way to do something with reading.

Snickerdoodle Muffins

Talk about some sweet, yummy goodness!  I was a little hesitant to try this recipe I've had for awhile because of the most recent HORRIBLE new recipes I've tried but, it was laying on the counter, I had all the ingredients, and it really did sound good.  I'll just say that these are a little bit of heaven on earth.  If you like Snickerdoodle's and you like muffins - you will LOVE these!!  My husband has told me that these are the best things EVER and I can make them every single week . . .forever!  And, honestly, they are that good. (I found this recipe over at Oopsey-daisy)
Snickerdoodle Muffins

2 c. flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. cream of tartar
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. butter, melted
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. sugar
2 T. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Either butter a 12-cup muffin tin or use cupcake papers.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  In another bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla.  Stir until combined.  Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix lightly with a fork.

Fill the muffin cups with batter.  Top each muffin with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.  It can be applied heavily.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
My Notes: 
* I did not use muffin cups but next time I would for this simple reason, the cinnamon/sugar topping sunk into a lot of the muffins so, when I took them out of the pan, some of that goodness stayed behind.  With the liners, you could lick the paper :-)  hahaha
* I think I over filled my muffin tins - I filled them about 1/2 full and some of them kinda ran over so next time I"ll put a little less in each one and make more muffins
* Today, with making 18 cupcakes, I put 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the topping on each muffin - you think it is alot but you'll want ever bit of that goodness on the top :-)

I'm linking up over at Comfy In the Kitchen!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Getting Organized Challenge

Before I show you the new days for 21 Days of Organizing, I wanted to show you my desk file. 

 I picked up an accordion style file at Wal-mart for $5.00.  I liked it because it can either stand on the desk or it also has file hangers to stick in the file drawer as well.  Than I pulled out some file folders and my trusty label maker. 

Previously, I had sorted the things that seem to always pile on my desk in order to make the best choices for file names.
This is what I came up with :-)  The blue file folders I did not use -they didn't actually fit in the file itself.  So I just put the labels on the tabs in the folder and put all of the documents in there.  It includes things like "To Do", "Goals", "Coupons", "Teaching" etc.  Now, all of those lose papers have a place to go. 

Honestly, I'm not sold on this file unit. I'd rather use file folders/ hanging files but I haven't found anything yet that I really like.  Next time I go to town, I'll check out Target and a few office stores to see if I can find something skinny enough to make me happy :-)

----Guess what, I found something else I like better!!!  I had been searching at Office to find some files and came across this lovely desk file.
Doesn't this look so much better?  There is more room in the files for stuff plus I love the tabs that are more visible.  Don't worry, the other file has become my tax file.  Each tab is labeled for things like "medical", "home" etc so that next year, at tax time, everything will already be sorted instead of shoved into one folder.

I also finished up my home files and wanted to show those off as well.

 I picked up some great new filing supplies from Office Max - Gray Hanging Folders, Gray File Folders, and than these really cute pink and gray folders
 Aren't they super cute????  I'm not usually a pink person but they really caught my attention.
And here is the final product.  Nice and organized and with only the things we need. 

Now, to finish up the 21 Days of Organization post:

I wanted to give you the last few links to the final days of the challenge!

Day 19 was the Master Closet.  Have you dug into yours recently?  I have so I didn't dig into this one.  It helps to not have very many clothes - the closet stays clean LOL 

Day 20 was Photos.  She has a guest share how she organized her photos and she does give some great tips.  As a Creative Memories Consultant, I believe that there is nothing more enjoyable in life than photos.  It is so important to take time to build those memories in album, photo books, or even organizing your photos in photo boxes.  Even if YOU don't love photos, your children will LOVE them.  (If you are in need of scrapbooking supplies, please feel free to contact me or order from Creative Memories and select me as your consultant - they have the best scrapbooks!)

Day 21 was a free for all - everyone  could post whatever area they felt like

So, there is 21 days :-)  Over the course of the 21 days, I did do 21 things, I just didn't document them (some I realized after the fact and than went "duh, I sure have photographed that!)

Another challenge will be coming up soon at A Bowl Full of Lemons and, of course, I'm going to participate!

Paula's Chicken Nuggets (As in Paula Deen, that is!)

This recipe came recommended to me by a friend so I tried it one day at lunch.  It really is a good tasting piece of chicken - Josh ate his share too!


Vegetable oil, for frying

1 package dry ranch seasoning mix

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 boneless skinless chicken cutlets, cut into 1-inch cubes


Pour oil to a depth of 2-inches in a large Dutch oven or deep-fryer. Heat oil to 360 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine ranch mix, panko and salt together. In a second bowl add the egg mixture and in a third bowl add the flour.
Dredge chicken cubes in flour, dip in beaten egg, and then coat in panko mixture.

Fry chicken nuggets, in batches, for 5 to 6 minutes or until done. Serve with dipping sauce of choice

Here's the chicken!  Next time, I would cut them a little smaller only for cooking time.  A few were "just done" instead of being "done".

Here's my other tip - the recipe says to heat the oil to 360 - see that burnt batch?  I think that is too hot for the oil!!  I than turned it down to 300 and the second and third batches were perfect.  I needed to cook them a little longer to ensure they were done but they did not burn and were VERY GOOD!!  So, learn from my mistake :-)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesdays

So, I've seen this idea for awhile, and have decided to link up with Jamie at Little Daisy May and warp two of my other posts into this - both my previous "Things that I'm loving" and my "Weekly Song" posts will become this post (at least for now).  I still love adding new music and will continue to do so but those special songs; the ones that really hit me, will show up here instead.  So, check out what I'm loving and also click on over to Jamie's blog and check out what others are loving too!  It is a great way to feel grateful even on the not so grateful days.

 I'm loving these little key rings!  They are great for teaching projects, crafts and more.  I think I will take stock in them :- )
 I'm loving my laminator.  I picked this up before Christmas for a steal and have not regretted it once.  It is so much nicer than using contact paper (and easier too!)  I smile when I use it :-)
This coffee maker ROCKS!!  It was Darryl's Christmas gift but I make a cup of "Coffee House Speciality Coffee" once a day and I don't even "like" coffee :-)  And it makes awesome hot chocolate too!

I'm loving this candle - Sparkling Cinnamon from Yankee Candle.  I burn a candle almost every day - it not only makes my house smell good, every time I see it burning, I pray for my family.   Just a little something to keep them close to my heart and mind!.

Yep, I'm loving Chocolate Milk.  It is my weakness, my craving, my comfort food; seriously.  I used to buy it every week but now, I try to only buy it when it is on sale BUT if I have to make a run to the grocery store mid-week you can guarantee that I will come home with chocolate milk.  (And guess what?  Josh loves it as much as I do!)  My niece, Alicia, also loves chocolate milk and we fight over it when we are at my parents house LOL

25 Days of Praise Challenge - Part 2

 Last week, in part 1 of the 25 days of praise challenge, we were supposed to praise our husbands in public (check out the post here).  This challenge is coming from Courtney over at Women Living Well

This weeks challenge is as follows: (copied from Coourtney's site)
This week's challenge is: be a little more creative with your praise. Surprise your husband with:

1. A love message on the mirror

2. A love message packed in his lunch

3. Use sidewalk chalk and write a love message on the driveway

4. Write a list of ten things you admire about him and then read them out loud to him.

5. Make a toast to him at dinner with friends. Or raise your glass at dinner and list the things you admire about your husband for your children to hear!

6. Buy or make your husband a trophy and engrave it with the words "The Best Husband in the World." (I found a cheap trophy at a party supplies store - the kids loved presenting it to daddy)

7. Write a poem - even if you can't write - it can be goofy. Include in it references to your favorite movies, restaurants, places to go and memories. He will enjoy the trip down memory lane and the laugh!

8- Blow up balloons and put a loving message in each one. Fill your bedroom with balloons as a surprise.

9- Take a roll of receipt tape and write a long message with the things you admire and respect about your husband - then roll it up and put it in a bottle for your husband to open and read. (I made many of these for my husband in college when we were dating long distance. I mailed them in packages.)

10. Get creative with your selflessness!
"When you touch your husband's deepest need something good almost always happens!"~ Dr. Emerson Eggerich

So I challenge you today to not just show your husband you love him but show him that you LIKE him!

Aren't those some great ideas??  If you want to read her entire post, she also shares some insight on being the one to take the "first step" - it is a nice reminder of what our response should be to our spouse. 

I will admit, I did not do well last week.  Don't get me wrong, I praised my husband often but I didn't post it in my status, nor was I ever really around people to say anything in front of him.  I do like this weeks challenge a little more though - it is more things to do as a family.  I am in the middle of working on a 14 days of Valentines Countdown Calendar which we will start on February 1st - I'll be sharing all the info on how to create your own soon (it is not my idea - but it is still an awesome one!)  I have a friend who is also doing this Praise Challenge and it was fun to watch what she posted in her facebook status and on her blog about her husband - it is very clear how much she ADORES him!!

So, I will be linking up over at Women Living Well

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Too Cute Not To "Toot"

I'm having a lot of fun working on crafts and projects lately, but, of course, that just makes me search harder for some more awesome ideas!!

One of my 40x40 goals is to make an apron (I've ruined so many clothes in the kitchen - never used to but it seems I cook a lot more and just get dirty!).  This post gives links to some basics about making an apron - I kinda like it :-)  Check out the post here.
I thought that this little post it note holder at A little Knick Knack was super cute.  It would really add a neat touch to a work desk.  When I used to work ;-) I liked to add touches of home to my work space to make it feel a little more relaxing.

This is a "cooking" craft from Mrs. Happy Homemaker and all I can say is, "Seriously"?  Wow.  Bacon stuffed French Toast AND it has a cream cheese filling.  Wow - this is going on our menu very, very soon and I don't even like French Toast LOL

Here's a great idea for a simple Valentines Gift from It's a Crafty Life

I'm a sucker for kids hand print projects - they make great Holiday art work for the walls!  Check out this great idea from Cleanandscentsible

Ok, I LOVE this idea - I'm working on some ideas for my kitchen - to make it function as an entry way AND a kitchen (since that is what it really is) and was just going to do the standard cooling rack sitting in a sheet pan to put shoes on but this is so much more adorable! Check on this idea also from Cleanandscentsible.

Here's a great centerpiece idea for a birthday party - I think it could also be converted to use at showers or other parties as well.  Check out the easy tutorial at Primitiveandproper

I love these paper hearts from smilemonsters.  They would look so cute hanging up in corners of the house - I know my kids loved seeing ornaments hang from the ceiling and I have some left over Valentines Paper too . . . .

I love books and I love Monograms for decor - so this idea from Littlethingsbringsmiles is just perfect!  It would look fantastic on my family photo wall.

 And I think I'll end with this last gift idea from mmscrapshoppe for Diaper and Washcloth cupcakes.  Something a little differant - they would also make a cute gift box embellishment instead of doing a batch of 24 :-)