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...


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/ 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'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


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!