Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Link it up Wednesday #14

Wednesday's here...welcome to another week at our link party!!

Here is our most viewed link of the week:
Easiest Baby Blanket Ever by I CAN'T STOP {CRAFTING} found here

And here are some of our favorites:

Sweet Sushi by PAMS PARTY AND PRACTICAL TIPS found here

Kids Printable Valentine's by OVER THE BIG MOON found here

Mini Garlic Monkey Bread by CRUMBS AND CHAOS found here

DIY Touch & Feel Book by ALL THE QUIET THINGS found here

Sweetheart Paper Garland by 21 ROSEMARY LANE found here

Kale Chips by ONCE A MOM...ALWAYS A COOK found here

Weight Loss Motivator by AUNT NUBBY'S KITCHEN found here

Contact Paper Privacy Window by MAKING IT FEEL LIKE HOME found here

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Teaching Kids Proper Etiquette

This all started a few months back when at the end of a long day I just needed a break from the laundry, housework, cooking, all of it and so my husband and I decided to take the family out to dinner.  To put it nicely...it was not a super experience.  My five year old felt the need to talk at the very TOP of his lungs whenever he had a thought or idea which seemed to be every other second.  He also decided to very randomly knock his whole body into the back of the seat causing the people on the other side to continually look in our direction with 'that' look--Hopefully I'm not the only one who has ever seen 'that' look.  My older son (7 years old) was also a chatter-box but only felt like talking when his mouth was absolutely as full as possible and he felt the need to wipe his hands on everything EXCEPT his napkin--leaving his brand new school clothes covered in pizza sauce.  All the while my baby cried and whined to his hearts content!!  So...by the time we left I was FAR MORE frazzled than I was beforehand and vowed to never EVER take these kids out again!  Please tell me I am not the only mom who this has ever happened to.  I felt like a failure of a mother and ended up staying up all night long thinking of how I could 'FIX' this problem!  I did come up with an idea and got up the next morning (with fingers crossed) and got to work finding the necessary items to put my idea into reality.  Anyway, I found these cute little ramekins (so glad that I finally found a good use for them) and some decorative marbles.  I used one ramekin per member of the family and put ten little marbles inside.
That evening before dinner we had a little family counsel to discuss what the word etiquette means and together we came up with our family rules of etiquette.  It was so interesting to me to see that my boys came up with and knew most of the etiquette rules that we discussed.  They thought it was fun coming up with them and actually continued thinking of them all through dinner that night and throughout the whole next week.  Then, after discussing the rules of etiquette I walked the boys to the kitchen table where the ramekins were sitting, one ramekin on each of our placemats (mom and dad as well.) I went on to tell the boys how our new 'game' was played--Every time any of us do not follow the etiquette rules a marble is taken out of our ramekin.  In order to get dessert at the end of the day we must have at least one marble in our ramekin; this marble can be traded in for dessert.  NO MARBLE = NO DESSERT!  The first couple of nights we had some sad, dessertless children but soon they would end the night with 4 or 5 marbles left over.  Once this started happening on a regular basis I would start the day with fewer and fewer marbles (leaving the boys less room for mistakes).  Now, two months later we have only 2 marbles to start off the day!!  And, my boys almost always earn dessert.  They have gotten so much better and learned so much through all of this that we went out as a family again the other night and it was blissful!!  The boys used their manners and remembered their etiquette rules the whole time and I left the restaurant with a HUGE smile on my face!!  This really worked for us but it does take persistence!  Maybe I am the only one with this problem out there but if by chance you find yourself in a similar situation-give the 'etiquette jars' a try; it might be just the thing you are looking for. 
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Trails of love...

OK, that is the dorkiest title in the world and I can't believe that just came out of my keyboard but nonetheless, I simply don't know what else to call this thing.  Some years ago, I must have seen this idea somewhere but I no longer recall where so my apologies to some creative genius out there amongst us who came up with this.  I certainly know I was not imaginative enough to come up with this on my own.  Long story short, when we were kids on Valentines Day, my mom used to always doorbell ditch a special Valentines treat on the front door step for us kids to find when we ran to answer the door.  Well, I live in Idaho and I don't like doorbell ditching in the winter time because it means you have to huddle somewhere in the cold dark night freezing your bejeebus off while you wait for someone to answer the door.  That plus the fact that my kids don't seem to find any thrill in answering the door when it rings, so they don't, and you can end up waiting outside in the freezing cold for a long spell, sometimes nigh unto hypothermia sets in.  So when I saw this cute idea I decided to try this instead.  I get each of my kids and hubby some small gift (emphasis on small) and then hide it somewhere just out of sight in my living room.  Then for each person involved, I buy a different bag of Valentines candy.  Starting from the entryway of my living room, I leave a homemade Valentines card for the person at the "trailhead" and then place the candy (I prefer individually wrapped candy since they will be laying all over my living room floor) at certain increments across the room to leave a trail to where their gift is hidden.
Sometimes I get fancy and weave the trail around furniture and over the couches to try to throw them off the scent of where the gift is hidden.
By the time you have made seven trails across your living room, it can start to look really chaotic.  This makes it important to choose the candy wisely so that they are easily differentiated from each other so that each person will be able to follow their own trail.  Depending on what day of the week Valentines falls on, I sometimes will do this the night before so that they wake up to this first thing on Valentines day, or if they have school that day then I have it ready for them when they get home or right before dinner or whatever.  
To start, each person gets an empty bag and then follows their trail by picking up each candy that is theirs and collecting it in their bag.
The kids love following their trail and finding their special gift and the bonus is that they also have a whole bag of candy that they can then trade off with their siblings if they want a variety.  This has been a fun Valentines "tradition" for our family...  not to mention being much warmer for those exposed body parts. 
What traditions do you use to surprise your loved ones on Valentines Day?

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Stupid Questions!

Have you ever wondered why pigs’ tails are curly? And why do they call those delicious round candies M&Ms instead of C&Cs? They’re chocolate candy aren’t they? And those words both start with C’s, not M’s.

Has anyone ever asked you a stupid question?

My mom always told me there was no such thing as a stupid question...but sometimes I wonder! I have a daughter who just likes to talk and ask whatever comes off the top of her head without thinking first. Sometimes she already knows the answer, or it isn’t a question that is answerable, but she insists on asking it a half dozen times anyway, until I finally tell her in frustration to google it if she is so determined to have an answer other than “I don’t know.”

So in honor of my daughter and all those others out there who aren’t afraid to ask stupid questions and become the next Einsteins of the next generation…here’s a bunch of stupid questions just for YOU!

What came first: the chicken or the egg? (The stupid question that has passed the test of time)

Who came up with dinosaur names? (They’re way too hard to pronounce, except for 4 year olds)

What does Hello really mean? (If you break it down, it almost sounds like you’re cursing someone instead of greeting them)

Why are stop signs octagons instead of heptagons or just plain squares? (Those shapes would be easier to cut out and make)

Why do dogs look like their owners? (It’s sometimes freaky)

Who's the grunt that comes up with all the weird holidays out there?  (I want his job)

Why is football named that when only one player on the team uses his foot? (It should be called tackleball because that’s what they’re doing…and it just makes it confusing with soccer, which actually is played with the foot).

OUCH! My brain hurts. Maybe I shouldn’t get mad at my daughter anymore for asking stupid questions. It’s harder to do than it seems! Why don’t you give it a try before the day ends and see if you agree! Feel free to leave your comment here with YOUR stupid question.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cousin Blocks

My husband and I come from big families.
Which makes for alot of cousins for my little son.
The only problem is that we don't get to see all of them since we are scattered in different places.
However, when we do get to see them I want my son to know who his cousins are.
So I decided it would be fun to make him some cousin blocks.

All you need to do is get some wood blocks. I made mine 1.5 x1.5 because Ty has over 40 cousins.
But if you don't have that many you can always make them bigger blocks.
I then painted them or you can just paint the edges which I should have done since I ended up covering the whole thing anyway;)
Next, I cut out different pieces of scrapbook paper to decorate some of the sides. For my blocks I used two different patterns for the girls and different ones for the boys. I printed off each of the cousins pictures and then printed off a paper with their name on it plus to help him learn his ABC's I made the first letter of their name behind it. (Sorry I don't have a professional camera so it's hard to tell how they really look. I will say they are cuter in person)
After you have all the pieces cut out, you simply Mod Podge them on. Let it dry and then you sand each edge so its smooth. I also ruffed my edges up a little so it looked distressed.
I then Modpodged it all over again to help seal it.

I loved how they turned out and my son loves to play with them!:)

I did make some extra blocks for future cousin arrivals. And you can always easily update your blocks by putting a newer updated picture right on top of the other.
They also fit perfect in his toy pail and add to the decor:)

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Link it Up Wednesday #13

Lucky #13!
This is our 13th week doing link parties! 
That is crazy!
It feels like just yesterday we started seeing all your amazing creations!
Well, thanks for stopping by each week and playing along!

Here is our most viewed link from this past week:
Barbie Hair Fix by DIY HOME SWEET HOME found here

And now our top picks:

Pinterest Inspired Bathroom by SPRUCE YOUR NEST found here

Goodie Boxes by ALL THE QUIET THINGS found here

DIY Stain Pretreater by THE BROWN EYES HAVE IT found here

Acts of Love V-Day Countdown by INSPIRED BY FAMILY MAGAZINE found here

Chocolate-Strawberry Shish Kabobs by GIRLS AND THEIR MEALS found here

Chocolate Cherry Torte by AUNT NUBBY'S KITCHEN found here

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Valentine's Day Ideas

I know Valentine's Day can be a bit overrated and cheesy sometimes...but you have to admit, when it comes to showing those you love how much you truly do, Valentine's Day is the PERFECT time to do it (and do it cutely too)! :-)
I love doing cute little things for my kids, their teachers, church lessons or visiting teachers, and of course my husband!!
Here is a sampling from years past...
*felt fortune cookies
*Framed quotes that say "The past is behind, learn from it.  The future is ahead, prepare for it.  The present is here, live it." by Thomas S. Monson
*lollipop valentine's 
*heart shaped pancakes
*personalized mailbox filled with goodies for teachers
*mailboxes for the kiddos

I love making cute unique Valentine's for my kids to hand out...one year I did the shovel idea with the saying "I dig you" attached.  

Of course you have all seen the heart shaped crayons.  That was a fun one to hand out.  I attached a note that said "You color my world"

I made the edible crayons one year from Gourmet Mom on the Go.  They were super easy to make and the kids LOVED them!

This diy Valentine is so personal, so easy and so fun to hand out for the kiddos!!  Snap a photo of them with their arm extended and pop a lollipop in once you have printed them off!

And these mailboxes were bought in the dollar section at Target years ago.  I put my kids names on using vinyl and they love to receive a small treat and gift each Valentine's.

- Posted from my iPad

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bread Sticks

OK, I admit it... I love bread in any form.  Sure the health food people these days will tell us that it's not good for us but my philosophy is that if it's mentioned in the Bible, then it's on the list of things that are good.  Let's see, should I side with the health food opinions of the day which change on a weekly basis or should I go with the fact that Jesus was willing to call Himself the Bread of Life?  I'll go with Jesus on this one.  Sacrilege and blasphemy aside, here is a recipe I got from my beloved sister Heidi that my family loves and that we eat almost as often as we read the scriptures.

Bread Sticks
1 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 c warm water
1/2 tsp salt
Mix, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.  Add 3 1/2 c flour, knead for 3 min. and set aside covered until it is double in size.  Roll out onto a greased cookie sheet.

1/4 c melted butter
1/4 c parmesan cheese
1/4 c mayo
1/4 c mozzarella cheese
garlic salt
Mix together and spread on rolled out dough.  Slice and bake at 350 F for 18 minutes.

I love this recipe because you can whip it up relatively quickly when you just feel like your meal is going to need a little somethin', somethin'.  I only wish that the recipe called for a specific amount of garlic salt.  Sometimes I get it too light because you don't want to make the mistake of getting it too heavy, if you get my drift.  You can't mess up the parsley, it's just there for the aesthetics, but the salt can ruin a good breadstick.  I just give several good shakes of the bottle, give it a mix and a little finger taste test to make sure I'm in the ballpark.

A few pictures to get you more interested:
First mix your dough together.  I am old fashioned and just use my trusty wooden spoon.  It works just fine and doesn't dirty 17 different little gadgets and gizmos that need to be taken apart with a fine tooth comb and washed by hand (or you might could say that I'm lazy and don't want to take the time to drag the machine out, plug it in, and have dishes that need handwashing when my trusty wooden spoon is just right there).  This particular batch of dough is not pretty, but it's okay.  Jesus said that it's what's inside that matters, after all.
 After it has doubled in size, grease your cookie sheet, plop the dough on the pan, and roll it out.  This is why it doesn't matter what it looks like after the first step because you're just going to smush it flat.
 Mix your topping ingredients together and spread on top of the rolled out dough.  I usually just do this with the spoon I used to mix it together with.

 Don't forget to slice it after you've put on the spread.  Much easier to do this before you bake then it will be after, trust me. 
 I usually cut it into 8-9 across, and then 3 rows, as shown below. 
  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the final product.  They disappeared too rapidly.  Hope you enjoy!

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Friday, January 20, 2012

The Truth About Megapixels

   More accurately titled:
 Megapixels:  They only Mean something to the Salesman

Whether you got a brand new camera for Christmas. still using an old one or if you're in the market for a new one, LISTEN UP!!!  One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is how most people do not understand what the term "megapixels" means when referring to cameras.  Without fail, it's usually the very first thing people tell me about when they start talking about their new camera, or the camera they want ("it has 12 megapixels!").  Or better yet, it's often a complaint or excuse they have as to why they don't like their current camera ("it's only 3 megapixels").  So many people think that the higher the megapixels on a camera, the better the camera is and the better pictures they will be able to take.  Right?  Are you guilty of this? 

First of all, let me say it's not your fault entirely.  Camera makers and marketers have done a STELLAR job on promoting this idea and profiting from it immensely!  But today's your lucky day. Today's the day you will stop thinking the amount of megapixels is what makes a camera good and that megapixels will single handedly transform you into a great photographer over night!
In basic terms,  pixels are those little tiny dots that make up your picture.  You count how many you have horizontally and how many you have vertically and multiply them together and you get your pixel count.  Since it's a big number, the results are in megapixels instead of just normal pixels (3 MP = 3,000,000 pixels).  Thus, small differences in the size of megapixels your camera has is not very important (and certainly not noticeable) since the pixel count is a square function (whoa a math term?).  Basically, all I'm trying to say is you could double your pixel count (going from 4MP - 8MP) and the result is invisible to the naked eye if you looked at them on your computer screen or if you printed them out.  They deal with the resolution of the overall photo - especially when printing - but none of us will probably ever print anything big enough to make that even matter.  The reason the camera makers all want you to think it matters is because now they only have to increase the linear resolution of their cameras a tiny fraction and it results in a big pixel number increase which attracts their unknowing consumers (because of that 'squared function').  Cheap-o cameras and even cell phones boast big megapixels now-a-days.  Then they can convince you that you need to upgrade last year's camera because the new ones are so much better (even though they haven't really made the camera better at all).  They are tricky with their advertising too in that often times they put a blown-up print from a lesser MP camera next to a small print from the higher MP camera so that a drastic difference can be seen (and so their consumers will gasp and hurry and buy the newer camera). 

So if you've read this far, repeat after me: 

Got it?  Case in point.  I didn't have a super nice, professional camera when I had all my babies and as my kids were growing up.  In fact, ever since my oldest was 1 year old, I had one of the very first digital cameras that ever came out.  It sported a whopping 1 megapixels!  Yes you heard me - ONE!  It was top of the line back in 1999/2000 but of course by the time my youngest was born in 2006, it was extremely outdated and everyone else had these smaller, fancier point and shoots with higher megapixel numbers.  Yet without fail, my pictures always looked way better than theirs did.  How could this be if I was only shooting with an old, outdated 1 MP camera and they were shooting with fancy, new 5 MP cameras?  Could it possibly mean that it's not just the camera that takes the good pictures, but it actually has something to do with the person holding the camera?  <gasp>   And it definitely showed that megapixels weren't making the difference.
(excuse the fact that I didn't have manual settings back then)

Four years ago, I finally got a DSLR that I'm still using today.  It's never been the top of the line, most expensive camera and it shoots at 10 MP.  I'm trying to think if I've ever even shot at 10 MP though.  I'm pretty sure I haven't - and I've done A LOT of photo shoots.  Why don't I utilize the full capacity of my camera's megapixels?  That's easy.  Unless I'm planning on printing something out on a huge 30 foot billboard, there's absolutely no reason for me to.  And guess what?  Not only do my pictures turn out great, I think many of my photos are way better than some people who have uber expensive cameras that cost thousands of dollars.  Maybe I just have a big ego . . . or maybe, just maybe, there's other important factors behind what makes a good image.  It's up to you to decide . . . but at least now you're educated on the subject!

**If you want to read & learn more about megapixels, here's a good site: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/mpmyth.htm
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