Wednesday, February 29, 2012

diy chore chart--guest post by allison @ a few sprinkles short of a sundae

i admit it openly. i am not good at making my children clean up. i don’t clean up, so i guess they figure they don’t need to either, right? but the countless number of cars and barbie parts scattered across my floor are enough to make me want to get rid of every toy in my house. every. toy.

but seeing as we, and other people, have spent money on these great little foot jabbers, it would be nice to keep them for more than week before i toss them out in a way that would make buzz lightyear tremble in fear. so as i scoured pinterest one day i came across an idea for a chore chart.

and since my 5-year-old is greatly motivated by anything quarters and dollars, i thought i could make a chore chart where the kids could earn money for doing things they should already do anyway. but whatever, don’t judge.
so here is what i made:

it really was pretty simple to make. i bought myself a shiny new cookie sheet and used my old one for this project (win/win!). i went to a local store and got yellow spray paint and sprayed that sucker down. allow it to dry a day or two before doing anything else with it, but that will give you time to make the other parts.

then i had to think of chores and how much each was worth. i will tell you, i apparently overpriced some of these things because in one day my daughter made off with $2.50 from doing all the chores. be cheap!

i got magnets and would be sticking each chore onto a magnet to put on the cookie sheet. still with me? good! i started off printing the chores out onto little circles, but then i remembered that my children can’t read yet, so i had better use pictures. then simply cut out the little circles and glue them onto the magnets (i used my xyron sticker maker, but use what you have).

since i have two children, i needed to make a side for each child. i pulled out my cricut and made their names, again using the xyron sticker maker to put adhesive on them.

simply put the names where you want them (or just one name if you are only doing this for one child – but seriously, make them all do chores). i then used bright colored duct tape to divide the areas for each child and the chores to be done. voila!

now each child can do a chore and slide the appropriate magnet over to his or her side and at the end of the day we pay them. like i said before, though, one day my daughter managed to make $2.50. my son, on the other hand, is not nearly as motivated by money and really doesn’t care about cleanliness or money.

did the chore chart save our home from the producers of hoarders being called in? not really, but it was fun to make and it has motivated the kids to help with the dishes and make their beds a little more. so i’ll call that a win!

allison is a stay-at-home mom of two, a biological daughter who is 5 and an adoptive son who is 4. she is also wife to one husband (and one is plenty, thank you very much), who is 31. when not blogging or ignoring her children’s pleas to help find their shoes again, allison can be found attempting to write novels in what little spare time she has left between facebook, twitter, pinterest, and, you know, parenting. she is the genius behind the blog “a few sprinkles short of a sundae.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

baby cinco

it's official. we have a new baby boy to add to the third boob family. he'll be two weeks old tomorrow and is perfect, as all new babies are. welcome to the party, baby cinco. you're in for a crazy ride with the third boob bunch but we think you're going to like it here. we are so happy to have you.

Monday, February 27, 2012

mmmmm, mondays: green eggs and ham in honor of dr. seuss's birthday

the great theodore geisel's birthday (aka dr. seuss) was march 2nd. this friday, consider making his birthday a fun celebration with your kiddos. one thing i plan on in my household is a breakfast of green eggs and ham and perhaps some cozy story time with our favorite seuss books. what about you? do you have anything planned to celebrate the day?
green eggs and ham a la sam-i-am

1-2 tablespoons of butter
4 slices of ham
8 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
1-2 drops of green food coloring
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper

what you’ll need
knife, medium-size mixing bowl, wire whisk or eggbeater, large frying pan, spatula, aluminum foil, serving plates

1. melt a teaspoon of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. add sliced ham and brown until edges are slightly crisp. remove the ham from the pan, cover with aluminum foil, and set aside.

2. in a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. beat with a whisk until frothy. then add 1-2 drops of green food coloring until you reach the desired shade of green.

3. heat a tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat until the butter begins to sizzle. then add the egg mixture to the pan.

4. stir the egg mixture with a spatula until the eggs are firm and not too runny.

5. transfer the eggs to individual plates. garnish with a sprig of parsley. add the ham prepared earlier. serve with toast or warm rolls.

feeds 4 hungry green-egg lovers
recipe courtesy suessville website

Friday, February 24, 2012

friday fun finds: vintage lunch boxes

i know that i have said it before, but i *love* it when people have a cool collection in their house. i know a pretty amazing woman that has an incredible collection of vintage picnic baskets *swoon*.  i am still trying to figure out what mine will be, but can't you just picture these fun, vintage lunch boxes on display in a kitchen? love.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

learn to sew--guest post by maddie @ domestic anarchy

i have been sewing since the age of 9 when I discovered that the cabinet in the corner of our family game room actually held a sewing machine. I was on my own, my mother was no longer interested in sewing nor in teaching a smart-ass 9 year old. i taught myself with little more than the bernina instruction book which I found buried in the cabinet drawers along with all the accessories. i was 9 and i had no fear.

when people find out that I sew I usually get one of three responses:

"oh I wish I could do that but never had anyone to teach me"

"will you sew up my sleeve, hem my jeans, sew my wedding dress" (no i will not)

"i am just no good at that sort of thing"

i usually go on to share the fact that i do more than sew, i actually teach sewing and if they are interested i would be happy to give them information about classes they can take. this is usually when the deeper level of excuse mixed with fear comes to the surface. everything from can't afford a sewing machine to being scared of the fast moving needle to fear of failure.

the fact is that machine sewing in it's simplest form is just not that hard and it is way less dangerous than driving a car. each day thousands of young children in foreign nations use really large really fast sewing machines to make most of the clothing sold here in the united states, if they can do, you can too! heck, danger-wise no one ever was killed by a sewing machine. the worst that would ever happen would be to put a needle though your finger. it is no fun, i have done it, but it hurt way less than childbirth or the car accident i was in so just summon the courage and go for it!

if you can find the right instructor i suggest taking lessons but only with the right person. if the person at all reminds you of your miserable 8th grade home-ec teacher don't do it. you want someone with a cool laid back vibe, nurturing attitude and possibly someone who serves wine with evening lessons. (it does nothing for accuracy but sure does make it relaxing!)

no classes in your area? then it is time to turn to the great resources found in books and on the internet. for sewing books I recommend the following for all beginners:

stitch by stitch learn to sew by moebes - from soup to nuts, or scissors to bobbins this book is very close to having your very knowledgeable best friend teach you to sew, add wine if you like for a full experience!

1-2-3 sew by luckett baker- another friendly book with a casual vibe that makes sure you feel good about what you are learning and increasing your skills with each project.

sew mama sew hosts a fantastic blog where lots of sewing projects and techniques are shared with an open and accepting style that makes you happy to sew.

so there you have it, we are not too far into the new year to make your dream a reality , isn't it time you learned to sew?

maddie can be found at domestic anarchy where she will hold your hand and calm your sewing fears, all the while making you understand how fantastic you really are. she is also on facebook and twitter.

maddie kertay is the homechooling, crafting, sewing mother of 6 kids. you can find her most days in her sewing room stitching while she gives spelling tests and listens to kids read her endless list of prepositions she makes them memorize for no good reason - she is cruel like that.

Monday, February 20, 2012

mmmmm, mondays: cherry chocolate chip scones -- guest post by bonnie @ inspiring pretty

ahoy-hoy. bonnie from inspiring pretty here. i am brand new to guest posting, so i’m not sure how much to disclose. should i just go straight to the recipe (which is a good one), or should i tell you about my baking addiction? or my tendency to sing kids’ show tunes in the most inappropriate situations. or that i have been affectionately coined ‘bargain bonnie’ because i literally cannot bring myself to pay full price for anything. one thing you should know is that i am a mommy. not just in the sense that i have children, but in the way that my mind is eternally set to mom time. even when i am away from my kids, i find myself thinking like a mom. “don’t drive too fast. wear a jacket. oooh, look at the chocolate chip pancakes!”

it was this mommy mentality that got me into trouble last week. you know how some holidays have an enormous build up to them, so that when they are over you are left feeling kind of…meh? that was valentines day for me this year. i went a little pinterest crazy with crafts and goodies. i wanted to make everything I saw, you know for the kids. so while i rocked it at the school parties, i now feel like there should be like a gradual return from the land of pink and red hearts to reality.

one of my favorite v-day projects was this recipe for cherry chocolate chip scones. i adapted it from the smitten kitchen, basically just interchanging her cranberries with my cherries and chocolate. The result was an empty plate, which in my house (of picky eaters) is synonymous with success. 

cherry chocolate chip scones
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably a low-protein brand such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
3 tablespoons sugar 
½ teaspoon salt 
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes 
½ cup dried cherries 
½ cup chocolate chips 
1 cup heavy cream
1. adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

2. place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. whisk together or pulse six times. 

3. if making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. stir in currants. if using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. add cherries and pulse one more time. transfer dough to large bowl.

4. stir in chocolate chips and heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds. 

5. transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. form scones by patting the dough onto a lightly floured work surface into a 3/4-inch thick circle and either a) cutting the dough into 8 wedges with a knife or bench scraper or b) cutting pieces with a biscuit cutter, and pressing remaining scraps back into another piece and cutting until dough has been used up. (be warned if you use this latter method, the scones that are made from the remaining scraps will be much lumpier and less pretty, but taste fine.) 

6. place rounds or wedges on ungreased baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. serve warm or at room temperature


bonnie blogs at inspiring pretty along with lindsey and claire. it's a home for everything women care about. from recipes to weddings and spirituality to raising a family, we are here to share our lives with you and make yours prettier. our motto is 'a pretty home, a pretty faith, a pretty life'. born just outside chicago, illinois and raised in the mountains of colorado, bonnie found her home in southern california alongside her husband and three little boys. when she’s not cleaning up after all four of them, helping with school projects or making fabulously healthy dinners and scrumptious desserts, she enjoys being outdoors, a good cup of tea, writing and giving design advice to anyone who’ll listen. you can also find them on facebook, twitter and pinterest.

Friday, February 17, 2012

friday fun finds: the top must have iphone accessories

do you have an iphone? here are my personal favorite accessories. any of your must-haves that i missed?

(how amazing is this?! they have *tons* of choices of books to choose from)

(using a personal photo, a company logo or anything--so rad!)

*note: we did not receive any of the products and are not being paid. these are simply our own, personal opinions*

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

what about my child's speech development? guest post: kim @ little stories

as a speech-language pathologist (slp), i love talking about language development. helping mommies and daddies hear what their child has to say is my passion! so, in the hopes of helping you to hear more of your child’s story, here are my two most frequently asked questions (and answers!).

1) should i be worried about my child’s speech?
well, in general your child should be using a word or two at one year, using two-word phrases at two years, using three-word phrases by three years, and so on with phrase length coordinating with age through preschool. also, there are broad guidelines suggesting most listeners should understand what your child says about 70% of the time at two years, 80% at three years, and 90% by four years.

but there’s so much more. there’s also what your child should understand, how his play should develop and how he uses his language socially to interact with others. see, speech and language development are actually a very complex thing. it’s not so easy to boil them down to a quick checklist.  the good news is that as a parent you interact with your child a lot and over time you naturally begin to pick up on many of those complexities in language, so forget the guidelines and go with your gut.

if you have concerns, don’t wait.

some pediatricians still favor the wait and see approach, and even some family members can make you feel like you’re over-reacting, but i tell parents over and over to trust their instincts. the thing about language development is that a great deal of it actually happens early on and the sooner you address any concerns the less they will impact your child long-term. so if you’re not sure, have your child assessed.

you can find an slp to assess your child by contacting your local school district. if your child is not yet school age, the school can direct you to the appropriate early intervention program for your state. assessments done by the public schools or by early intervention programs are typically free. or if you’d prefer, you can also ask your pediatrician for a referral to an slp working in a hospital or private clinic. usually your child’s health insurance will cover assessments done at those locations.

2) how can i help my child’s speech and language development?
play! whether or not you have concerns about your child’s speech or language, getting down on the floor and playing with him is good.  no tv show or push-button toy can replace what you can give your child because speech and language are really part of communication and communication happens between two people. so…be quiet, slow down, stop asking questions, sit down, play, watch, and listen. by quietly observing your child, you can see his interests and help him to talk about the things that motivate him. take time to connect, have fun, and communicate!

kim is a speech-language pathologist who mothers a spunky toddler, loves a great man, works with very special children and families, and blogs at little stories. you can also find her on facebook and twitter.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

i hate valentine's day

i hate valentine's day. it's true. the cheesy hugging stuffed animals, the bright mylar balloons, the wordy gushy love cards and mostly the pressure that we put upon ourselves to give or receive the *perfect* valentine. 

it doesn't matter whether you are married, dating someone, single, a mommy or not; valentine's day=pressure.

i think for people that are single it may the the worst holiday of the year. it singles the solos out like a bouquet toss at a wedding (something i didn't make anyone do at my own wedding because i can't stand that tradition....but i digress....).

if you are married or dating v-day means trying to find a "thing".....something.....anything that will tell that person how much they mean to you. personally, i would rather have random, small signs of love and affection on random days than on a day that is expected. 

i believe in telling everyone around me that i love them enough that they know it to be true ANY day of the year, not just on the 14th of february. i *love* being in love and i *love* romance....but i don't believe that valentine's day is either of those things. i certainly don't need an over-priced bouquet of roses, a dinner date at a restaurant that is turning over tables so fast it will make your head spin or a card with someone else's words on them to prove it to me. they are things, like toothpaste and paper towels, not love. 

having kids has redeemed valentine's day for me a little bit. i do like how excited my little ones get receiving valentine's from their friends or how a simple heart shaped muffin will put a smile on their face. there is something magical about a day where we can teach our children about what love is....i just don't like that it has turned into such a materialistic holiday. also, when did the boxes of valentine's that you can pick up at target for your child to pass out at school not become enough? i was actually embarrassed for my preschooler to be handing out the little pre-printed toy story themed cards today with the temporary tattoos.....every other child was passing out beautiful, amazingly creative valentine's. perhaps i should have taken our own advise when it came to creative valentine's, huh?

so, please tell me that i am not alone on this. does anyone else hate the day devoted to love? someone? anyone?

Monday, February 13, 2012

mmmmm, mondays: valentine's day meal ideas for kids

valentine's day is so much fun for kids. i see so many amazing ideas of things to make meals on valentine's day special for them but, let's face it: i am not a gourmet chef. more than that, i really don't have the time to devote to making extravagant meal that my kids won't appreciate anyhow. if you feel the same, here are some fairly simple ways to make meals special for your little loves on valentine's day tomorrow that won't involve too much brain damage for mama.

pink milk: take a few drops of red food coloring and add it to that glass of milk or bowl of cereal. easy peasy. 

heart sandwiches: grab a heart shaped cookie cutter and use it to make a fun sandwich!

heart shaped grilled cheese--yum!

heart pasta: throw a little marinara sauce on there and you have the perfect v-day meal!

hot dog fun: for each one, cut the ends from a hot dog at a diagonal and place the cut edges together as shown. spear the heart with a length of uncooked linguine. add pieces of cheese trimmed to resemble the ends of an arrow. (idea from family fun magazine)

heart muffins: make heart muffins using a regular muffin tin and some marbles! simply line a tin with paper liners, then drop a marble in between the tin and liner. (balls of aluminum foil will also work.)

heart bacon: preheat oven to 400. cut your bacon slices in half. use 2 pieces of the cut in half bacon and shape them into a heart on a sheet pan (make sure this pan has sides so the grease doesn’t get all over your oven!). bake for 18 – 25 minutes (or until done). 

heart shaped dinner rolls: 

heart cinnamon rolls:

pizza fun!
use a mini heart cookie cutter to cut the pepperoni before cooking.

arrange pepperoni in a heart shape. from cute food for kids

eggs in the basket--valentine's day style.