Thursday, May 31, 2012

i'm rubber and you're glue......

you know the old saying, right? i'm rubber and you're glue everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you? it's a catchy little saying that taught me early in life to not let peoples words hurt me. 

did it work? well, i would like to say that a nasty blog comment by a stranger or a criticism by someone in my inner circle doesn't hurt at all....but that would be a lie. sometimes i wish i could be one of those people that truly doesn't care what people think but i'm simply not. however, the saying has evolved over the years to teach me to relax and *try* to give up control of what i can't control. 

my new motto is "it is what it is". life has thrown me some pretty major curve balls the past couple of years....the smallest of which alone could be enough to rock someones world. i could wallow in my own sadness, hurt and misery but instead i make a choice (yes, a *choice* that i make every. single. day.) to take a deep breath, accept whatever it is and keep moving forward. you can't control what happens to you, but you *can* control how you choose to react to it. don't you think?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

diy placemat pillows

my kids destroy my pillows. i've washed my decorative pillows so many times that they have completely lost their original color. the edges are frayed and they are definitely in need of a proper burial. i have a hard time, however, purchasing expensive pillow shams or new decorative pillows knowing that my life is currently filled with five young kids in the house.

i spend a lot of time wandering the aisles of target...usually just as a way to kill some time and get the kids out of the house (and get a starbucks while i'm at it.) during one of these trips, i happened by the table linen section of target and noticed a place mat that i really liked. it matched my living room colors perfectly and would go fine in my kitchen as well but place mats are not practical for my kitchen. after i looked further, i noticed the place mat had a back lining and i figured it could be made into a pillow with very little work whatsoever. so, in about 30 minutes, it went from a $4.00 place mat to a $6.00 pillow ($2.00 for the batting inside). now that's an investment i can handle.

here's how to do it:

find a place mat you like. it is easiest if it has a backing already sewn in.

you'll also need some type of batting. i found this for $2.00 at hobby lobby.

rip out a section of the seam. make the hole big enough to easily stuff in the batting.

stuff the pillow with the "fiberfill" 

once the "pillow" is completely filled, use matching thread to re-stitch up the opening. i also tied the thread i had pulled out to make my opening to make sure the pillow stayed closed. 

that's it! quick, easy and super cheap. if the kids ruin it, i'm only out six dollars. that i can handle. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

mmmmm, mondays: red, white & blue pound cake


i love patriotic holidays. i love memorial day and a national chance to honor our military. maybe it's my military heritage. maybe after living abroad, i have learned to better appreciate our country. either way, i embrace days that celebrate our nation and those who fight and have fought for it. so, in honor of memorial day, try a strawberry shortcake...and throw in some blueberries to add a patriotic punch.

red, white & blue shortcake

pound cake (recipe following)

strawberries: washed, stems removed, sliced and sprinkled with sugar

blueberries: washed

whipped cream: don't skimp on this. buy real heavy whipping cream. for one quart of heavy whipping cream, add 3/4 cup of sugar. beat it on high until it is thick and forms peaks. refrigerate until ready to use.

slice the pound cake and place a slice on the plate, layer with whipped cream and strawberries. add a dollop of whipped cream on the top and top with blueberries. enjoy!

sour cream pound cake (if you don't want to buy one from the freezer's about 50/50 for me)

3 cups cake flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup butter (two sticks)

2 cups sugar

6 egg yolks

6 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup sugar

preheat oven to 325 degrees. grease and flour a 9 inch bread pan.  mix flour, baking soda and salt. set aside. mix sour cream with vanilla. set aside. cream the butter. add and beat in two cups of sugar. add egg yolks one at a time and beat. add 1/3 of the flour mixture. add 1/2 of the sour cream mixture. continue with 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining sour cream mixture and the remaining flour mixture. in another bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high until soft peaks form. gradually add 1/2 cup sugar until peaks are stiff. fold in the egg mixture. pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly. bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes until an inserted knife or toothpick comes out clean. let cool, slice and enjoy!

Friday, May 25, 2012

friday fun finds: diy father's day gifts

father's day is around the corner. today we are sharing with you our favorite diy gifts for the dad in your life. now comes the hard part.....deciding which one to make! enjoy! 

fathers' day candy gram 
(can't find the original source. if you know, tell me so i can give proper credit).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

the bachelorette and me

i have to admit...i watch the bachelorette. it is my monday night guilty pleasure. i like to believe that emily and i could be friends. she has a six year old daughter. i have a six year old daughter. she lives in charlotte. i live in charlotte. she wants a bunch of kids. i have a bunch of kids. i'm pretty convinced that i'll run into her at the grocery store and we'll hit it off. it could happen, right?

emily's stock went up 100% in my book on this last episode. it had nothing to do with the guys she was dating and everything to do with a two minute clip they showed of her with her girlfriends. when she mentioned that she was going to meet some of her friends, i have to admit i was imagining a table full of beautiful, super-model type women sitting around a trendy restaurant in uptown charlotte. instead, she met some other moms at a park. the moms were all beautiful in their own right but they had all given up their "never-had-a-baby-bodies", they wore regular clothes, sat around a picnic bench and watched the kids play. it was a picture of me and my friends and for the first time ever, a bachelorette became a normal person.

i have to say that i wonder about people whose only friends are as gorgeous as they are. it always makes me wonder if their friendship goes beyond skin deep. when you see someone who is absolutely stunning, on "reality" television with her pick of 25 men, you wonder what they are like in reality. how nice to see someone in the spotlight with women who looked normal, happy, and supportive. show me a friend with a "never-had-a-baby-body" or not, showered or not, wealthy or not, who will sit with me and my kids, support me, be happy for me, and occasionally offer to take my kids to soccer practice and i will show you one fantastic friend.

well done, emily. i don't care which guy you choose in the end. in my book, you have chosen wisely.

diy: toddler painting masterpiece

i found a tutorial for a diy toddler painting while browsing youtube and thought that it seemed simple enough to give it a, there was this large, vacant wall space in the dining room that was *begging* for a piece of custom artwork. after the success of the first painting we ended up making another, smaller version for my mother for her birthday. both were unique and amazing. 

this is the first piece that hangs in our dining room currently. 
it measures 3 feet x 5 feet.

i used this video that i found on youtube as inspiration and followed most of their color suggestions for the first piece of art.

here is the second piece of artwork that we made for my mom:
this canvas measures 30 x 24

A LARGE stretched canvas (you could also use a piece of masonite, plywood, etc.) (mine was from michael's and was 50% off with a coupon).

gesso (michael's has this too. you don't need to do this step if using a canvas, but it does add a ton of texture)

paint brushes (larger is better since the canvas is so big. and spend your money on paint not brushes, as the brushes will likely get destroyed).

paint (i used acrylic, but the colors are up to you. you will need a base color and 3-4 of one shade, plus one other contrasting color).

drop cloth or newspapers (majorly important)

smock (a must have----or an apron that you don't care about being ruined)

squeegee (i didn't use this but they suggest it in the youtube video).

start by preparing the area by covering with newspaper or a drop cloth; you don't want to have to worry about a mess, so make it easy to clean up.

put your canvas in a place that is most accessible for little kids. (i used the dining room table.) start by applying the gesso liberally. the thicker it is, the more noticeable texture you'll get. cover the whole canvas, adding texture with the brush as you go. let this dry. (we left ours overnight.) thicker applications may take longer.

choose your base color. if your painting will mostly be done in cool colors, choose a warm base, and vice versa. we used a warm yellow for our painting (with both canvases). squirt some paint onto the canvas and then use your squeegee or brush to drag the paint across the surface, covering the whole canvas evenly.

once your base layer has dried, it's time for your little artist to get to work! because kids love to mix colors, i choose just a few variations of the same color. this way you can get interesting depth and texture, without the muddy color. i chose 4 shades of blue.

plan to give yourself a few days to complete this project. each step requires about 20 minutes of work, followed by a few hours of drying time. it's great for kids, as they can keep coming back to it throughout the day instead of having to have all of their focus for one long extended period of time.

let us know how yours turns out-----we would *love* to know.

Monday, May 21, 2012

mmmmm, mondays: chicken enchiladas

i can remember my mother cutting recipes out of magazines to try on us when i was a little girl. this recipe is one of those successes. it has been in our family for probably 30+ years...and is just as good today. it is easy and delicious. ready for some mexican goodness tonight?

chicken enchiladas

1 cup chopped white onion

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

1 teaspoon each: chili powder, cumin and garlic powder

8 ounces cream cheese

3/4 cup bottled salsa (keep it mild if your kids aren't fans of spicy)

6 cups shredded cooked chicken

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup chopped olives

16-20 corn tortillas

4 cans enchilada sauce

preheat the oven to 350 degrees. have two 9 x 13 pans ready. in a large saucepan, cook onion in oil for five minutes or until translucent. stir in chili powder, garlic powder and cumin. add cream cheese and cook over low heat until cheese is melted. add chicken and salsa. stir over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes until hot. remove from heat. stir in half of the cheese and the olives.

heat tortillas, wrapped in foil, in the oven for 10 minutes until warm and pliable. spread 1/3 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of each baking dish. spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture in the center of each warm tortilla. roll tortilla and arrange seam side down in the baking dish.

to serve: top with the remaining enchilada sauce and cheese. bake for 15-20 minutes until hot and bubbly.

note: these can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to two days. if you are refrigerating your enchiladas, increase cook time to 35 minutes.


Friday, May 18, 2012

friday fun finds: diy end of the year teacher gifts

school is almost out for summer and that means it is time to come up with a fun, creative way to say "thank you" to the teacher in your child's life. we searched and searched and found some super cute and easy diy ideas to use at gifts. aren't teachers the best?!  which one is your favorite?

side note: i am personally a firm believer that every teacher deserves some type of gift card as a thank you. (i am sure that every teacher has received their fair share of smelly lotions, coffee mugs, and classroom supplies). take the time to add a gift card (no matter how small) to your gift and i *know* your teacher will appreciate it. some ideas include: starbucks, target, costco, a local bookstore, department store, mall or teacher supply store).

Thursday, May 17, 2012

what's in a name....

during two fun-filled years in college, i was lucky enough to live with a group of girls in a big, beautiful, fabulous house (the likes of which none of us would be able to afford to rent, let alone buy, today). we were fortunate enough to pay insanely low rent in exchange for keeping the house nice for the owners until they decided to sell it. we were called "the willow street girls" and we *loved* to come up with names for people. nicknames were our speciality. instead of the classic, normal names we were given by our parents, we called one another by our nicknames: kizzy, furnt, boris, chach and nellie. (yep. truth.)

when nellie and i first talked about the idea of starting this blog there were two rules that our hubbies insisted on: 1. we will not show photos of our kids faces to protect them from potential scary people out there and 2. we wanted to use nicknames.

naturally, we quickly settled on our regularly used nicknames for each other (chach and nellie) and didn't think twice. heck, i wasn't sure that anyone but *maybe* our own families or close friends would even be interested in what we had to say.......we never dreamed that we would be going to conferences, meeting anyone in person or having anyone recognize us. 

nellie has it easy. let's face it: nellie is a normal name. even someone on the wholesome "little house on the prairie" series was named nellie. there is nothing too odd or strange in that name......but chach?! what was i thinking? it takes a lot of confidence for me to walk up to people and introduce myself as "chach". i'll admit that part of it is because it is a fairly masculine name.  a few weeks ago, i learned that "chach" is another word for vagina. yep. hoo-ha, beaver, toppy...whatever you want to call it. chach is a term that some people use for a va-jay-jay!! seriously?! now, not only do i have to be confident being chach, the manly woman.....but i am basically saying, "hi. my name is vagina. nice to meet you." yep. try that one on for size. anyone want to trade places?!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

diy stepping stones

i have been making some fun outdoor diy projects to go along with my spring gardening. i love this one as it is extremely easy, the kids can help, and it gives me a fun keepsake for years to come.

start by taking a trip to your local home depot, lowes or other home improvement store. buy several plastic liners that are used as to catch water run off for potted plants. these can be purchased for about a dollar or so. you'll want a few of them. they can be reused but will only last about two or three times before you have to toss them.
coat your plastic form with something to keep the cement from sticking. i used vaseline the first time and then switched to a non-stick cooking spray. they both worked equally well and the cooking spray was much faster. 
while you are at your home improvement store, purchase some cement. buy the smallest bag possible but make sure it is a sand based mortar. if there are rocks in your mortar, the surface will not be as smooth as you will want it. mix up your cement in a container you don't mind ruining. cement will pretty much destroy your containers. i used a disposable ziplock storage container that i threw away afterward. it worked perfectly. 

fill up your container with the dry cement and add water a little at a time until you reach a brownie batter consistency. then you are ready to pour into your plastic container. fill up your container leaving a small bit of room at the top so your cement doesn't fall over the sides. smooth out your cement, creating a flat surface.

start adding your decorations. if you want to do a mosaic, you can purchase mosaic glass pieces at a craft store. the box below made about three stepping stones. start with your glass tiles in the middle and work your way out. 
if you are wanting a stone with your kids' hand or feet prints, try using some glass gems to create a border. these are easy to put into your cement and they stick well. decorate your stepping stone with the pieces of glass when it is still wet and press the pieces into your wet cement to ensure the pieces will stay in the cement as it dries.

if you are doing your child's hand print or foot print, wait for the cement to dry for about a half an hour or so and test it. do an impression with your own hand and see if it will stick without the cement filling back in. if it does fill back in, wait a little longer. if it does not, carefully press your kids hands into the cement. make sure you are pressing deep enough that the impression will be noticed. 

if you want to add your child's name, you can simply write into your stepping stone or you can use plastic letter impressions. i found these at a craft store as well and i like how clearly they will stamp in the name. again, wait until your cement is firm enough for the letter impressions to stay.

wait a day or so before you try to remove your stone from the plastic. flip your stone over and gently remove the liner. you can then use your liner again. wipe off any cement debris with a wet cloth and you can display your stones in your favorite garden.