Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hot Drink Season

Cold weather calls for hot drinks.  Hot drinks call for cute mugs.  Hey! I make and sell cute mugs!  Check out some new designs:








Christmas is also on its way.  Get ready for Santa with a Santa Plate.
Each plate can be customized.
Examples:
"Cookies for Santa.  Carrots for reindeer."
"Dear Santa, We've been really good this year!  Love, (Your kids' names)"
"Dear Santa, We made you cookies!  Love, (Your kids' names)"

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Operation: One Toy. So Much Joy

Over the past few months I have been posting pictures on Facebook of my kiddos playing with "Operation: One Toy. So Much Joy" in the comment.  Many...MANY...people have asked me about this.  

What is "Operation: One Toy. So Much Joy?"

It all started in Florida.  I was visiting my parents and came across this article on Pinterest: "Why I Took My Kids' Toys Away".  I thought to myself, "Why on earth would any mother take all her kids' toys away?!  Is she NUTS?! What do her kids DO all day?! I've got to read this!"

Go ahead.  Read it.  Soak it in.

Kinda brilliant, right?  

"Ok, not everything in her article would work for my family," I thought.  But, then I started thinking of some do's and don't's:

I do want my boys to be content with what they have in front of them.  
I don't want them to think they are entitled to have things.
I do want to be an intentional parent.
I don't want them to be overstimulated or frustrated in our home.
I don't want to be overstimulated or frustrated in our home.
I don't want to spend so much time picking up toys.
I don't want to fight the "pick up your toys!" battle.
do want to play with my kids.

When we got home, I told my husband that I wanted to try something, and that I was going to organize the boys toys and get rid of some.  Over the course of a few days, I went through every toy in our home.  Some got the boot...anything useless, annoying, incomplete, broken or overstimulating.  Everything else got put in a bucket.  A bucket for Legos.  A bucket for blocks.  A bucket for "guys".  A bucket for animals and dinos.  A bucket for "dress-up" items (capes, masks, superhero garb, etc.).  A bucket for Hot Wheels tracks and the cars that go with it.  A bucket for all other things that "go".  You get the picture.  All these buckets went in the closet...ok, several closets.  Every toy I kept had a purpose.  For some, the purpose was to encourage fine motor skills (legos).  For some, it was hand-eye coordination (Mr. Potato Heads).  For some, it was imaginative play (guys, animals & dinos).  For some, it was simply fun (tracks and cars)!

One day, during nap time, I put one bucket on the shelf.  I decided that books are too important to put away, so I sorted them and I picked a few faves and a few new ones to put on the shelf too.  The boys woke up from nap one day, and there was only one activity.  That's it.  I think it was their tracks and cars.  They played for hours.  They actually got really creative with it!  They used books to make a tunnel and when my youngest shot the cars out of the launcher, my oldest would pretend to get hit with a car and fall over dramatically.  They were cracking each other up.  They were playing together.  Let me repeat that....They were playing together!

I could tell when they were getting bored, and asked them if they wanted a new toy.  They said yes, and we agreed on Legos or blocks or something.  I told them they could have the new toy as soon as the tracks and cars were all cleaned up and put in their bucket.  Get this...ya ready?...THEY CLEANED UP WITHOUT FUSSING!  I put the tracks in the closet, got out the new toy, and they played.

This has been our cycle since late June.  We are about 4 months in, and I can honestly say this was one of the best parenting choices we have made for our family.  Here are a few reasons why:

-Our home is more peaceful because there is less mess & clutter
-Our kids play together.  
-There is room on the floor for me and my husband to get down and play.
-Our kids are more imaginative and creative...and we get to see it!
-I am more creative.
-Our kids are more content with what's in front of them.
-There's more reading happening!
-The "clean up your toys!" battle is rare.
-Our kids show pride in their work and their creativity.
-They are more thankful for what they have, and they express their gratitude more frequently.

Gosh, I could go on and on!  

This system isn't for everyone.  I'm not sure how it will look once they can open closet doors (even with child-locks!), reach higher shelves, etc. but for now, the peace -and joy- make it worth keeping it up!  Because, let's be honest.  When your house is less cluttered, your kids are more content, and you get a chance to really play with your kids...you're heart will be more joyful!









Monday, May 6, 2013

Cookbook Review -O. My. Yum!

What kid doesn't like Mac N' Cheese?  Mine do.  I have to go easy on how often we have it due to child #1's dairy intolerance, but when I was asked to do a review of this cookbook, I couldn't say no!

Mac N' Cheese to the Rescue By: Kristen Kuchar

I decided to use the Carolina Pulled Pork recipe.  I had made pulled pork/chicken in my crock pot and had a lot left over, so this was a great way to use it up.


This fantastic recipe was only 4 ingredients...I love an easy recipe, don't you?!  

What you need:
1 box of  mac n' cheese
2 cups of leftover pulled pork 
1/2 cup of chopped scallions (I used green onions)
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2oz)

How you make it:
1. Cook the mac n' cheese as directed
2. Heat the pulled pork up
3. Add all the ingredients together with the mac n' cheese. Stir it up until the cheese has melted.

I had about 10 minutes to make this meal tonight.  My hubby and I needed to be at church and the sitters were on their way!  I whipped this up, took a bite, salivated, and left looking forward to a big bowl after church.  I got home to...nothing.  There was none left.  My two toddlers and two babysitters ate it all.  It's that good.  Really. It is.  Try it.  Better yet, buy the book then try ALL the recipes!  

I feel a mini-series coming...Mac n' Cheese Mondays in May...maybe!? MMMMMM......













Friday, April 19, 2013

Missing Puzzle Pieces

I like that my kids like puzzles.  Puzzles are really great learning toys.  I dislike when puzzles are missing pieces.  Incomplete puzzles are frustrating...to say the least!

Here is my solution: Magnets.

Our back door is reserved for kid art.  I was feeling a little bad about hanging my kids art work up with bottle cap magnets.  They don't understand, but eh...could be a little more appropriate.  So, I found a puzzle with a missing piece and hot glued magnets to the back.  BAM!  Fun magnets!



Monday, April 1, 2013

$2 Toddler! Egg Carton Bugs...Bring on Spring!

After dying all those Easter eggs, what do you do with all those eggs?!  Eat them, of course!

Now, what do you do with all those egg cartons?  Encourage Spring to make its appearance by making little bugs with your kiddos!

What you need:
-egg cartons cut into sections (free from your fridge)
-paint or markers or crayons (This depends on what your egg cartons are made of.  Washable markers won't work well on styrofoam cartons.) (probably already in your drawers!)
-pipe cleaners ($ store)
-googley eyes ($ store)
-glue (probably already in your drawer somewhere too!)

After cutting the cartons into pieces, let your kiddo draw, color or paint to their hearts content!  
When they're done coloring, take a knife and score the cartons in the places the pipe cleaners will go through for legs/wings.

Then, let those kiddos go pipe cleaner crazy! The educator in me was thrilled with the fine motor control my toddler practiced...bliss for my soul!

 


"Dis is my Spikey Pider, Mama!"
We threaded the pipe cleaners through the inside of them to make the wings and legs less humongous!











Be proud of the work your little one is creating!  Mine was beyond excited about his bugs!

Glue on eyes to finish them off.

Here are the finished products...

 Have fun!


Friday, March 29, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

More Mugs!


I got a call for a mug order yesterday from our church.  Visitors at NUMC will receive a mug...made with love by yours truly :)  


These 3 are my faves :)



*If you see a mug you like, I can make one similar.  No two mugs are ever the same because I draw them all free-hand, but I can get pretty darn close!*  
**All mugs are $8.**

Sunday, March 17, 2013

$2 Toddler! Clean Painting

In February, I shared a messy $2 Toddler! activity with you.  To balance it out, here's a non-messy painting activity!

All you need is a plastic freezer bag (one that seals) and paint.  

Put the paint in the bag, seal it, give it to your kiddo.  

They can paint designs...

Mix colors...

Smooosh...

Or, be really mad they're at the table and not eating...

Monday, March 11, 2013

7 Stay at Home Mom Myths Cracked!

I am a stay-at-home (s@h) mom.  I have been a mom who works full-time, but our family chose for me to stay home with our boys.  It was a personal decision based on what is best for our family.  I must say...I LOVE IT!  I was created to be a s@h mom.  I truly believe that.  I also truly believe that not all moms were created to stay home with their kids.  And that's OK!  God creates everyone differently; that's what makes us all beautiful.

I have been a s@h mom for one year now.  Almost exactly one year.  I have friends who are s@h moms, friends who are working moms and friends without kids.  There are some common misconceptions about s@h moms that I would like to address; some myths I want to crack wide open!  Here we go...

*Disclaimer: These are my opinions, not that of ALL s@h moms.

Myth #1: S@h moms are lazy becuase we stay in jammies/sweats all day.
Fact: I don't have time to change my clothes.  That's all.  Maybe during nap time (if  the children sleep and if everyone sleeps at the same time) I can grab a shower or a change of clothes, but I never count on it.  It's better to be pleasantly surprised.

Myth #2: We let ourselves "go".
Fact: Our focus is not on ourselves.  During the day I have a lot to do.  Taking time for myself is rare.  It would be great to exercise, style my hair, buy clothes for myself, get a mani/pedi, etc on a regular basis, but I don't.  It's just not important to me anymore.  I would rather make a room road or Banana Squirrel.  I get some "me" time during the week, but my priorities are just a little different than they used to be.  For those times when I leave my house looking like I got hit by a truck, please don't judge.  You have no idea what kind of battle I had getting my boys to wear shoes...or pants!

Myth #3: Our lives revolve around our kids.
Fact: They do!  I don't get to leave work at work.  My work is 24/7...it is my life.  My life is my job, and my job is to be a good parent (here are some of my goals).  I work hard to be a great mom.  My children are wonderful, but they are not independent yet -despite what they may think!  I have to do most things for/with them.  That's the stage of life we're in, and I accept it.

Myth #4: We have no social life.
Fact: Wait! That's true too!  But not by choice.  I spend my day at home playing with my kids, cleaning up, cooking, etc.  When my hubs gets home we: eat dinner, give the boys a bath, spend time together as a family, put the boys to bed, finish our adult chores, and have just enough energy left to enjoy a glass of wine while watching one TV show before we crash!  We also live on a tight budget.  That means that entertainment gets cut first; especially entertainment that requires the extra cost of a babysitter.  Again, this is the stage of life we are in, and I accept it.

Myth #5: We always play the "I gave birth!" card.
Fact: Check out this birth story Casey wrote.  She words it so well...it's beautifully honest, actually!  I can only relate to a degree (meds for #1, and meds that didn't work for delivery for #2), but nonetheless, Casey's experience is one that is shared on some level by women who choose medication and those who do not.  All moms either squeeze that sweet baby out, or have it cut out of them.  A little respect is well-deserved!  Can I get an Amen!?

Myth #6: We watch soap operas and eat bon-bons all day long.
Fact: Seriously?!  What era is this?  And, what the heck is a bon bon anyways?  Our TV is tuned to we PBS kids, and my diet consists of coffee and little nibbles I can steal off my kids' plates without them noticing.

Myth #7: We nap whenever they nap
Fact: Occasionally, I get to nap when my kids are napping.  BUT, the following must be done for me to justify it: laundry must be folded, dishwasher must be loaded/unloaded, dinner must be planned, prepped or cooking, toys must be put away, afternoon activities must be ready.  If these things are not done, I must be one of the following: on my death bed, sick, exhausted OR, one of the following must have happened prior to the nap: a really rough night, the cleaning up of a lot of bodily fluids, an enormous amount of discipline, the rapture.

$2 Toddler! Banana Squirrel...Uh, Swirl...

Since my little booger is now able to peel bananas on his own (tear...they grow up so fast!), he is an excellent Banana Squirrel...uh Banana SWIRL maker!  
*Side note: SB has a tough time saying "swirl".  
It comes out as "squirrel".  
Therefore, we call it Banana Squirrel.*
What on earth is Banana Squirrel?!  

It is simply this: blended (in our case mixed b/c I burned up our blender making it!) frozen bananas.

I've seen it on Pinterest plenty, but never tried it.  Until...Daniel Tiger.  Can I get a whoop whoop for Daniel Tiger!?  SB wants to do everything Daniel Tiger does, so after Daniel Tiger made Banana Swirl, we HAD to try it.  We made it every day for at least 4 days after that episode, and we've made it at least twice a week since.  It really is THAT good!

I'm adding this post as a $2 Toddler because it really IS under $2!  We use about 2-4 bananas each time.  With 4 bananas we have some for later :)

I will let Sully walk you through the how-to: 

Step 1: Peel bananas...


Step 2: Cheeeeessse! (Here you can see that we break up our bananas...makes for easier mixing!)

Step 3: Pop it in the freezer...

Step 4: Mix it up!  We tried our blender...and broke it.  Good thing our mixer works great!  (There's no picture due to the dangerous nature of my son with a blender!)  Also, this is where you can add in anything you'd like.  I've added peanut butter, Nutella, and even a chunk of homemade brownie! YUM!

Step 5: EAT!...

And there you have it...Banana Squirrel :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

DIY Break 'n Bake Cookies



YUM!

Who doesn't loooovvveee chocolate chip cookies?  This girl does!  I also love the process of making them...especially with my kiddo!

The part I do NOT like is waiting.  I very much dislike (that's almost hate!) the process of putting cookie dough on a tray, putting it in the oven, waiting, pulling it out and repeating...over and over and over!  Then, I usually have so many cookies that one of two things happens: 1. We don't finish them, and they are WASTED! Noooo!!!!! 2: I feel ridiculously guilty and fat after eating all of them.  

My solution? Break 'n bake cookies.  NO, NOT THE STORE BOUGHT KIND!  My grandma would beat me senseless if she found out I made cookies from the freezer section.  Not to mention the amount of guilt I would have in not telling her!  So, no.  Not store-bought.

After making the dough, I bake as many as I need...usually just one cookie sheet's worth.  I roll the rest of the dough into balls the perfect size for baking.  I put those cookie dough balls into a freezer-safe bag in rows of 6 (usually you can fit cookies onto a cookie sheet in multiples of 6).  After all the dough is in the bag, I suck the air out and seal it.  Finally, I smoosh (that's the technical term) them together just a teeny-tiny bit -I don't want them squished, just touching nicely- then pop them into the freezer!

Now, when I want cookies, I break 'em and bake 'em!

*Note on baking time: If the dough is straight from the freezer, you will have to add some time to the recipe's baking time.

*Note on making: If you don't add egg, they won't bake well, but they will be perfect for eating raw out of the freezer!  Cookie dough doesn't freeze solid, ya know!





Friday, March 1, 2013

Guest Post: Homemade Seasoning Mixes


Hi- Hannah here! I’m a friend of Kate’s, and she asked me if I’d be willing to write a quick post about homemade seasoning mixes. After learning about the MSG and other preservatives that are in most seasoning packets, I decided to start making my own. You probably have everything you need at home in your spice cabinet, and a serving of homemade seasoning mix costs pennies instead of dollars!

Here are a few of my favorite recipes:

Taco Seasoning: Use approx. 2-3 TBSP of mix per pound of meat.
1 TBSP chili powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (if you like a little spice!)
¼ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp ground cumin (or more, if you love cumin!)
1 tsp salt (I often use less, and then salt the dish as needed)
1 tsp black pepper
Optional: You can add a bit of flour or cornstarch to the mix to help the seasoning stick to the meat if you’d like. I’d start with a teaspoon of either and go from there.

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl, and then store in an airtight container. Tastes just like you bought a taco seasoning packet at the grocery store!

Chili Seasoning- in the winter, I make a LOT of chili. We love it at my house. I much prefer homemade chili seasoning to the store-bought stuff. Make it as spicy as you’d like by adding more chili powder or red pepper flakes! I use at least 3 TBSP of seasoning for a crockpot of chili. I like a lot of flavor!

¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 tsp chili powder
1 TBSP crushed red pepper flakes
1 TBSP dried minced onion
1 TBSP garlic powder
2 tsp white sugar
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp parsley flakes
2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
½ tsp ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and then store in an airtight container.

Ranch Seasoning- Homemade ranch dressing is delicious. After you make it once, you’ll never want to go back to bottled ranch dressing again. I’m a convert, that’s for sure. According to this recipe, you add 1 TBSP of the mix to 1 cup of mayonnaise and 1 cup of buttermilk. It all depends on how thick or runny you like your dressing to be, or if you even like buttermilk. I usually do a mixture of 2 parts mayo to 1 part sour cream (lowfat is fine), plus about a ½ cup of buttermilk. Just play around with it! More sour cream will make the dressing closer to a dip consistency, and more mayo and buttermilk will give it a more liquid consistency. This recipe is also good for making a garlic herb butter. For either the dressing or the butter, add as much mixture to the liquid ingredients to suit your taste. Keep in mind that the flavors will get stronger after a few hours in the fridge.

4 saltine crackers
4 tbsp dried parsley
4 tbsp dry minced onion
1/2 tbsp dill weed (or less if you’re not a fan of dill)
1 tbsp onion salt (I left this out…didn’t have any)
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder

Mix the saltines, parsley, minced onion, and dill in a food processor. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and store in an airtight container.

I hope that you will consider making your own seasoning mixes at home! It’s easy, delicious, and a good way to save some money. Happy mixing!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

200 "Likes" = 10% Off!

Because my Facebook page (also called Osito) hit the 200 "likes" mark, I am offering 10% off any one Osito item with the promo code: 200likes.

If you share my fb page (Osito) on your timeline, you will get another 5% off your entire order! (Please let me know that you shared it!)

This is a limited time offer, so don't miss out!

*Promo code expires 03.15.13*

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

$2 Toddler -Easter Egg Rubber Band Painting!

WARNING! This $2 Toddler activity is potentially messy!
(But, I told you I will say Yes! to messes, so here goes...)

What you will need: 
-A jelly roll pan
-Rubber bands
-Paper
-Paint
(ALL of these items can be purchased at the dollar store!  I only had to buy 2, so that's why it's a $2 Toddler activity!)

First, put some paper onto your jelly roll pan.  I cut them out into Easter egg shapes.  If you decide to cut them, you can cut before they paint, or after the paint is dry.


Now, put rubber bands around the pan.  I tried 2 different ways.  On the top (sorry the picture is sideways! ugh!), I overlapped the rubber bands.  On the bottom, I put them next to each other. Overlapping was fine, but next to each other worked better.  There was better snappage!


Now to start getting messy!  I put paint directly onto the rubber bands.  I think putting paint onto the paper would work also.  Then, let your toddler start snapping!  Watch out!  Sully had to wipe paint off my face numerous times!



 The result is a splatter paint masterpiece!  They're hanging on our front door right now, welcoming guests with Easter anticipating joy!

Have fun!



DIY Taco-Seasoning

I decided today to make some Taco Seasoning.  Some girls from our youth group were over playing with the boys, so I decided it was time!  I did a little research (ok, ok...Pinteresting) and realized that most recipes have paprika in them.  I don't have paprika in the cupboard, so I had to dig a little.  Then, I found this fantastic recipe over at Crystelle Boutique.  It's paprika free, so I gave it a shot!

The recipe made enough to season 1lb of ground beef, so I made the recipe until I filled up a small mason jar.  I like to have more than enough on hand!  I added some Cayenne Pepper to give it a little kick.  I can't tell you how much I added because I'm honestly not sure!  I also cut the amount of salt in half.

Tip: When you're working with herbs and spices...do NOT be afraid!  There is usually a way to balance out the flavors.  If you overdo one spice, there is usually another that will give the mixture balance.  How do you know what there's too much of?  Smell it!  Smell your mix.  Does it smell too spicy?  Add something mild or sweet.  Smell too savory?  Add something a little tangy or spicy.  This is my super unscientific way of cooking, and it won't work for everyone, but usually the smell of a mix of spices will be balanced...and delicious!

Did you make it?  What did you add or subtract?

Monday, February 25, 2013

DIY To-Do List

Who doesn't have a dreaded "to-do" list?  I swear, if I don't write it down, it will NOT get done!  I blame it on mommy brain...all those little boy, dirty diaper fumes are rotting my brain for sure!  

Here is my solution...    
I love it!

Wanna know the best part? Huh? Huh? Wanna know?!  

It only cost me...wait for it...$.95!!!  

That's right! $.95!  

I went to Lowes and picked up a few paint sample colors I like.  I went for bright colors that motivate me.  Then, I went to Walmart and picked up a magnetic picture frame ($.95).  I cut the paint samples to fit the frame and taped them together on the back.  I slid them into the frame and voila!  We already had a magnetic dry-erase marker.  Now, this little motivating beast is on my fridge just waiting for me to be productive! :)







You can also see this post @ http://www.ahumblecreation.com/!