Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Very Hungry Caterpillar

Some of you faithful blog readers will remember me blogging about how I hate to throw stuff away (if not, you can read it here). I'm always wondering how I can upcycle my "junk" :-)  Last week I shared an idea for a parmesan cheese container turned frog. I found another use that I had to share! This comes from Making Learning Fun's blog and you can find a tutorial with printables here. I thought I'd share some tips and pictures from our creation:

I just used some leftover fabric, ribbon and felt. I would suggest sewing on the velcro, though. (I tried iron-on and just could not get it to adhere well.)

Here's our caterpillar :)

In his cocoon and then...

...turned into a butterfly! I liked being able to "pop" the eyes up to change it from a caterpillar to a butterfly
I did not have time or interest in going somewhere to have the food cards laminated. Instead, I backed them in cardstock and brushed them with some leftover Triple Thick I used for another craft. I think it is near the Mod Podge in Hobby Lobby.

I liked how shiny they turned out even though they weren't laminated. It keeps them more durable too. Which help since my toddler enjoys jamming them into the caterpillar's mouth ;-)

And the story begins...
Ellie insisted that we use both copies of our book. As a side note, the original is a special edition signed by Eric Carle. I remember when my brother got this book 17 years ago. Does that make me old?

Feeding the caterpillar

After our caterpillars ate too much, they had tummy aches.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tea party birthday

For my birthday, a dear friend treated me to a special tea. Last time I visited this tearoom, Hannah Rose was only a week from being born! Now my sweet girl is 4 months old and she got to accompany us again.

After stuffing ourselves silly with these yummy treats, we went to one of my new favorite stores - Tuesday Morning! Can you guess how much I paid for these four lovelies?

A glass water pitcher, a rooster pitcher, a three part cutlery basket and a quilt for only...
$24! I think it was a great use of my birthday money and will be perfect in my new kitchen. I'm so thankful for the blessings God has given me in this past year and look forward to what the year to come will bring.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Rapunzel, let down your hair!

My toddler is obsessed with Rapunzel ever since we saw the moving Tangled in the theater. She loves to watch the movie but, even more, she enjoys acting out the story. She routinely yells throughout the house "Rapunzel, let down your haaaaaiiiiiir!" Sometimes I'll be cooking dinner or cleaning house and she'll start yanking on my pant leg saying "C'mon 'Punzel, go to your tower!" Lately when we draw pictures, she scribbles on her paper and announces that it is Rapunzel's tangled hair. Needless to say, she loves these imaginative games. So, when I saw a tutorial for a Rapunzel wig on The Weekend Homemaker's blog I had to give it a try! I used a large bundle of yarn and it was a tangly mess! I still need to find a better way to adhere the hair to the pantyhose - I read somewhere else that glue might work or maybe I just need to strategically sew more pieces of the yarn "hair" to the base.

Here are some pictures of my sweet Rapunzel girl:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The power of spray paint

While I have the time, I'm trying to work on all some of my DIY furniture projects for the new house. We have been wanting to go with some lighter colors and more of a country cottage feel - see my decorating inspiration board on Pinterest. Have I mentioned how much I love Pinterest?! I love being able to daydream virtually without having to spend money on magazines, and tearing out pages which I'll misplace or find ruined by someone's spilled sippy cup. Did you need to know all that? I guess not.

Anyway, my point is that I'm enjoying all these fun little projects without spending very much money. One project that I knew would make a difference was spray painting our side tables, coffee table and entry table for the living room. I love the style of these tables but they were just too dark for our new color palette.

Here is the before (not much of the table is actually in this picture but I think you can get an idea of what it looked like...someday maybe I'll remember to take "before" pictures):

Here is the after:

I am very happy with how the tables turned out. I spray painted them all a shade of flat ivory and then added a clear protective topcoat. They are so bright and cheery - can I describe a table that way?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jet Pack went south...

I am just loving all the cute kids' crafts I'm finding on Pinterest. All the projects I have posted this week have literally taken me five minutes or less...except this one. When I saw a tutorial for a jet pack, I had to make it. Unfortunately, I didn't have all the materials and my improvisation lead to a not-so-successful jet pack. I told Ellie we were making this for her cousin and, unfortunately, I don't think he will be too impressed. (Sorry cousin!) You can find the instructions here if you dare attempt it ;-) And here are some pictures of my sweet little model:

And a scrapbook worthy picture - somebody was tired of modeling:

Superhero turned Princess Cape

My little lady is not really into superheroes but I thought it would be fun to make her a cape to go in her dress-up basket. The instructions I followed are here. Ellie loved putting her cape on but informed me that it was a princess cape. So here are some pictures of Ellie in her princess cape:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cereal box guitar

Ellie loves listening to Daddy play his guitar and singing along with him and, for the last year, I have been looking everywhere for a miniature toy guitar for her. However, everything I found was either too expensive and/or fragile for a toddler. Then I found these cereal box guitars! I knew I had to make it for my Elle Belle.

There weren't any directions to go with the example I found so I just did my own thing. Technically mine isn't a "cereal box guitar" since I used a granola box - but it was smaller and more size appropriate for my girl. I used a razor blade for all my cutting and lots of duck tape :) The tuning keys (is that what they are called?) are made out of popsicle sticks, the strings are rubber bands, and the strap is just a piece of ribbon.

I wish you could have seen her face when I gave E her new guitar!

We even had to change into a special dress for singing and playing music. We decided to surprise Daddy by getting our band together before he got home. We used a plastic egg filled with beans as a maraca and a plastic container as our drum set. Chase got home just in time to join in our Mickey Mouse Clubhouse jam session. Nothing beats family time :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

F is for Frog

Some of my faithful blogging pals might remember my post about repurposing old containers, bottles, etc. (If not, you can read it here.) I failed to mention it then but I have also been saving my plastic parmesan cheese containers. I knew there had to be some use for them but have been stumped for awhile. Fortunately, I have enjoyed spending countless hours on Pinterest and finally found some uses for them! I saw this frog game but there weren't any instructions to go with it. So...mine varies a little but I just used what I had on hand.

I like the googly eyes and the red felt for the inside of the mouth. 
 The original game said to "feed" the frog bugs. I live in the middle of nowhere (which isn't always a bad thing actually) so I don't have plastic bugs and I'm not going to drive an hour to try and find plastic bugs. Paperclips work just fine and allow for more imaginative play anyway :) I separated them into different piles based on color. Ellie and I practiced feeding the frog different quantities of bugs. We'll be playing this game a lot as she is still grasping the concept of counting.

After we finished feeding our frog, we colored a letter 'F' with different shades of green. We talked about how the word "frog" starts with 'F'. While Ellie colored, I showed her how some shades of green were lighter and others were darker. We had so much fun!

As a side note, do you like my new place mats? They were only 75 cents at Walmart AND they are reversible :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Let the fun begin!

So the construction begins! It has definitely had its stressful moments but we are so thankful for everyone helping us through this process. We have been blessed with such great family and friends. Here are some pictures:

Pretty Bows

My friend Katie came over last week for a play date and she taught me how to make hair bows for the girls. Seeing how I can't even tie my shoelaces in a decent bow, I was always too intimidated to try this. As it turns out, though, bows are inexpensive and easy to make   ;-) Here are the bows that I made and the link to an online tutorial I had to check after Katie left and I kind of forgot what she taught me...!

My little model :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Blessing

Last year I read The Blessing by Gary Smalley. This book has helped me to recognize the importance of blessing my husband and my children. Smalley provides tips for doing this daily but also suggests having a celebration each year to bless the individual. Since Chase and I just celebrated our five year anniversary, I decided to use it as an opportunity to bless him. The basic idea is to plan an evening for your spouse that will be memorable as he experiences the love and value you have for him. Here are some ideas that Smalley gives:
  • If money is available, consider hiring a sitter and getting away even if "away" is just across town at a hotel
  • Plan a special meal based on what your spouse requests
  • Communicate your love by expressing your commitment to your marriage and by pointing out several of your spouse's endearing qualities
  • Write a story of your marriage recapturing some of the drama and excitement of courtship and each season of marriage
  • Include photographs of special times together that bring back memories
  • Select everyday objects to communicate things about your spouse through word pictures
  • Picture a special future for your spouse by repeating your marriage vows or write new vows to express your love and commitment
  • List 10 reasons why you would choose your spouse again as your life partner
  • Take extended time to pray together, thanking God for each other and asking Him to keep your love fresh
Considering we are in the whirlwind process of building a house, I wasn't sure how much of this would be feasible - for one day! Chase had to work, oversee construction at the lot, and we had to go shopping at Lowe's (taking advantage of the tax-free weekend!). However, I was able to plan a sitter for the girls so that we could go out for a special dinner date. At dinner, I gave Chase an album of some of our wedding pictures that I edited and had bound into a book.

When we returned home, I presented him with a basket of ordinary household objects that represented Chase. For example, a flashlight because he always guides are family in the right direction, coffee creamer because he makes the ordinary extraordinary, a book because being married to him is like re-reading a favorite book and continuing to learn new things, and....I think you get the idea :)

I then shared my top 10 list of reasons I would marry him again (five years and two children later means the reasons have evolved a little). I also re-read the personal wedding vows that I had shared with Chase on our wedding day and how I see our future together. It was such a fun day and I enjoyed planning every bit of it! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mediterranean Chicken Skewers

Ever since my last pregnancy, I have been craving all things Greek! One of my favorite dishes to make is Mediterranean chicken skewers with grilled pitas and tzatziki sauce.

You can get the chicken skewer recipe  at SimplyCook's website. I haven't tried their feta dipping sauce (though I'm sure it is delicious!). I like to skewer mine with lots of onion and serve it with this tzatziki sauce recipe:

3/4 cup Greek yogurt (or strained plain fat-free yogurt)
juice and zest of one lemon
1 t minced garlic
1 medium cucumber
1/2 t dried dill

1. In a medium bowl, add the yogurt. *If you are using plain instead of Greek yogurt, it needs to be strained. The easiest way for me to do this is to line a strainer with a paper towel and set it over a bowl for the liquid to collect.
2. Peel the cucumber and finely grate it over a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth. Then use the towel/cloth to wrap up the grated cucumber and squeeze out the extra liquid over the sink. Once you've removed the extra liquid from the cucumber, you can add it to the mixing bowl.
3. Add the remaining ingredients with a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper to taste.

It is best to let the sauce sit for at least an hour or more so that the flavors can really develop. Serve with grilled pita bread. I always have Chase (a.k.a. my personal grill master) grill extra pita bread so that I can eat the leftovers with my cannellini bean salad :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cannellini Bean Salad

It has been too incredibly HOT here that cooking is almost entirely out of the question! So, I've been resorting to quick and easy meals and this is one of my favorites. I originally got a recipe for cannellini bean salad from watching an episode of "Everyday Italian" on the Food Network. You see, when Chase and I got married my cooking skills were less than desirable. In an effort to become more domestic, I watched tons of cooking shows. It really did help me learn techniques and experiment with different recipes. Anyway, I can't find the original recipe anywhere on the internet so here is my variation:

1/2 can cannellini beans (or great northern white beans) drained and rinsed
1/2 lemon
1/2 cup of finely chopped onions (more or less based on your preference)
1 t dried parsley
2 t minced garlic
parmesan cheese
sea salt

1. In a small saucepan, saute onions in a small amount of olive oil until softened.
2. Add the garlic, beans, zest and juice of 1/2 of a lemon, parsley, a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper to taste.
3. Stir to coat beans evenly over low heat.

4. Top each serving with grated parmesan. This makes enough to serve as a side dish for four or a main dish for one...maybe one and a half but I just go ahead and eat the extra half ;-) You could double the recipe to use the whole can of beans.

So easy and yummy! I like to eat mine with pita bread. Just cut whole wheat pitas into triangles, brush with oil, sprinkle with sea salt and grill. This makes for a very filling and healthy meal.

*Disclaimer* I am the only one in my family that eats this dish. I'm lucky to get Chase to eat bean soup or refried beans so this is pretty much out of the question. I asked Ellie if she wanted to try some of mommy's beans and she said "No ma'am! No like beans. Mommy's beans scare me." So....maybe someone out there will appreciate this recipe :)

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