Monday, May 31, 2010

AMAZING!

The linky party entries over the past two weeks have blown me away!

If you bake, you really have to check this out. I can't believe these cupcakes. They are the cutest things I've ever seen. There's even a linky party all about cupcakes on the Hoosier Homemade blog.


This shirt on Twinkle Toes is fantastic. I love to sew and create, but I can't even imagine being able to do this. Can you believe the before and after?


Not only is Diane's playroom makeover cute, but she built the bed! Yep, I'm talking hammer, nails, cutting wood and look how cute that room is!


The linky party has grown every week and I'm always excited to see what everyone comes up with! Thanks for partying with us.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Home and Family Friday and a New Planter



Oh, how I love basil! I love the smell of it. I love to cook with it. I love the combination of basil and tomatoes. This herb just screams Summer to me! Around here, we can't plant basil until mid to late June. It's just too wet and it just rots if you plant it any sooner. I've never tried growing basil inside, but I thought I'd give it a try.

I have had this old pot sitting in my garage for a few years now. Sometimes we use it to grow paperwhites in the winter, but most of the time it sits empty. I love the color, but it's just not MY color. I don't have any greens in the house. Time for a little makeover.


I painted it up with chalkboard paint.


Then I planted and labeled it. My 9 year old said, "Mom, why are you writing Basil on the pot, when we can clearly see that it is basil." He just doesn't understand how chalkboard paint has changed the lives of so many in the blogging world.



It looks perfect in my kitchen and I get to smell it when we're having dinner. What have you been working on this week? Link up! Let's see those projects!!!



Here are a few parties I like to participate in.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bins and Labels - An Organized Person's Best Friends

Leanne hosts an organizing linky party every other Wednesday. I love to organize things so I knew her blog would be right up my alley. She is so sweet and comes over to my linky party every Friday and always makes nice comments on my posts. My goal is to participate in her linky party every time she hosts, but I don't really have any new organizing projects this week. Not to say that I didn't organize anything!!! Hey, I'm a kindergarten teacher and a mother... organizing is my life! So, today's post is a little of this and a little of that from around my house and my classroom.

Bins are essential for organizing books in my classroom.




This is the art cubby for my kids at home. Notice the nice containers for markers!


The bins in the laundry room hold hats, light bulbs, shoe care, bags, swim toys, etc.




I recently reorganized the bins in the garage.


We have bins in my daughter's room for all of her toys.


The labeled bins in the pantry are for the Costco overflow.


Are you seeing a trend? Bins, boxes, cubbies, and LABELS are my best friends. Just because everything HAS a place doesn't mean I'm ALWAYS organized, but it's a start.

Here are a few parties I like to participate in.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Babies

Two years ago we had a visitor in our front yard. If you look REALLY carefully you can see her sitting on the back of the bench. We had no idea how much joy she would bring to us.



We plant hanging baskets in the front of the house every year.


I knew our little visitor had made a nest in one of them, because every time I watered she would fly out. One day we looked in while she was away and saw three tiny little eggs inside the nest. For the next few weeks, we watered very carefully, so her eggs would stay dry.

Then, one day we got to see this:



Is there anything more precious? My kids LOVED checking on Flyer and her babies. Unicorn, Net Jet, and Bob lived with Flyer for the rest of the summer, growing and changing every day. We watched her bring food back to the babies and listened as they chirped for their mommy.


This was such a great experience for my kids (and for us). I can only hope something this special will happen to us again.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Vegetable Garden



When my son was about 2 years old, I decided I needed a hobby. Pre-baby, my life had been teaching, working on my Masters Degree, and reading A LOT of books about reading and literacy in early childhood. Post-baby, my life was all about my new bundle of joy, teaching, and learning to balance the two.

My son loved to play outside (still does), so I decided gardening might be a good hobby for me. I wasn't new to gardening. We grew up with a very large vegetable garden, all-you-can-eat raspberry bushes, and many hours of cleaning beans to freeze for the winter. Seven years ago my husband, 2 year old, and I started our own garden. We moved a few years ago and have a garden space at the new house too. It brings so much joy every year.

Here's the family picking berries in the yard, last summer. (That's my Riley Dog right there. He died of cancer not long after this picture was taken.)


A few weeks ago, the rain took a short break. I grabbed my camera to snap a few pictures of my freshly planted garden. This is the view from my bedroom window.


The area that the vegetable garden is in was completely empty, other than one REALLY big rhody bush when we moved in. We saw the idea to make rock pathways in one of my Country Garden's magazines. The kids moved rocks from other areas of the yard to build the paths.


I usually grow veggies from seed, but this year we bought starts. Our new puppy, Cooper, doesn't really know the "rules of the garden" like Riley did. I thought starts might be a better option this year.



I can't wait to show you how it looks in a few more weeks!

Since my mom has really been the one to inspire my love of gardening, I thought I'd share a picture of her vegetable garden. This was taken last year. She always says that no one sees her garden, so let's show it off.


We built the raised garden boxes when she moved into this house. Last Summer we put in the fence posts and bird houses. Her vegetables always grow about twice the size of mine. Her yard looks fabulous and very park-like.

I have lots more to plant this year. More pictures coming soon!!! Happy gardening!

Here a few parties I like to link up to.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fresh Juice - My Newest Craigslist Find




The reason for my latest purchase starts way back in October. Remember in the fall, when the whole Swine-Flu-Freak-Out began? It seemed like the whole world was living in fear. No one really knew what to expect with this flu and no vaccinations were available yet. Well, that was about the time it went sweeping through my kindergarten classroom. The Center for Disease Control had just said that they would not shut schools down any more. Within days, half of my class was out sick and I was in quarantine (confined to my bedroom, where my family would leave Jamba Juice and Tylenol at my door). On top of Swine Flu I got Strep, two weeks later got Strep again, then Pneumonia. I honestly do not remember most of Fall. I tried going to the pumpkin patch with my kids and was too weak to stay the whole time. I missed almost all of my son's football games.

That was the beginning of my downward health spiral. I have had one weird illness after another for the past seven months. My doctors keep telling me that the Swine Flu took a toll on my immune system. I asked how long it will be until my immune system is built back up, but they don't know. I was one of the first people at my doctor's office to get the Swine Flu, so I'm kind of the guinea pig. They don't really know what is happening with me, just a theory that it's all connected. So, that brings me to my Naturopath's recommendation to start a juice diet.

I didn't own a juicer and didn't really want to pay several hundred dollars for one. Then I found this on Craigslist. $40!!! I normally sells for about $200.


We washed a bunch of fresh fruits and veggies.


The kids LOVED making the fresh juice and were eager to try new things.


I have to say it was REALLY good.


I ordered a few books on juicing, which haven't come yet. I'm excited to read more about the benefits because I really don't know a lot about it. Tonight we added some really odd veggies to the juice. The kids drank it all up... every last little vitamin!


Here's to my health!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Home and Family Friday

Welcome to Home and Family Friday. You know, I love a great craft project. Makeovers are my weakness. Wait, no, cookies are my weakness. Oh, and the DIY projects that have been posted here are like something from a magazine.

But, it was this post that just tugged at my heart strings last week. I haven't shown my kids on here before, because I'm a neurotic freak but after reading this story I've decided it's time to make a change. You see, I'm TOTALLY one of those moms who doesn't like her picture taken. I'll give every excuse in the book, too fat, no makeup, bad hair day... Sure, I'll let my husband take one "token snap shot" to prove I was on the trip, but 99.9% of the time that camera is in my hands and not leaving. I'm taking this challenge and planning to take more pictures of myself having fun with my kids, not just my kids having fun. I can't put it off until I lose 20 pounds. They're just growing up too fast and I want them to remember the fun things we did together and not just mom living behind the camera. Thanks for sharing this Rebecca!


This was Spring Break at Suncadia. This is the only picture that I'm in. I think I took about 300.

On with the party! I love seeing all of your projects, makeovers, recipes, and especially great things you've done with your family. Thanks for linking up and I hope you'll take the photo challenge too!

By the way, next week I'm going to feature a favorite project. I'll use a picture from your link and link back to the original post. I love reading blogs that highlight the previous week's party.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls, A Family Tradition



Not long ago I shared about our family tradition of getting together to celebrate birthdays. My extended family gathers about once a month, sometimes every other month, to enjoy appetizers, a meal, way too many desserts, kid play time, adult conversation time, and cinnamon rolls.

My grandma (we call her Nanie) started making cinnamon rolls for our dinner parties as far back as I can remember.

Here's my grandma and my mom at our party last week.

I know cinnamon rolls are traditionally a breakfast or brunch item, but they have always been part of every family celebration in my family. I have fond memories of watching my grandma roll out the dough. She always let me scoop up the cinnamon and brown sugar crumbs off of the cutting board when she was done. I remember my Nanie teaching me to make her cinnamon roll recipe just after I was married. They weren't as hard to make as I thought, but mine just never turned out quite as good as hers. I would guess my grandma had made those rolls about 300 times over the past 30 years. Yep, 10 parties a year for 30 years or more.

Now that Nanie is 92 and living in assisted living, she isn't able to make her rolls any more. My mom and I are really the only people in the family who truly enjoy baking. (Well, except for the Ellensburg folks, but we just have them bring chips and pop since they have to cross the mountains.) So, it's up to us to carry on this family tradition.

I've tried making my grandma's recipe many times, but since I just can't live up to these standards I've decided to branch out and try a new recipe. Believe me, my family is full of cinnamon roll experts. They critique the size, gooeyness, amount of cinnamon versus brown sugar, and even the frosting. (My mom tried to switch to canned frosting one time. BIG mistake... BIG MISTAKE!!!) You should hear the wrath of the family when the rolls fail to rise, or you didn't make a double batch and they are starting to run out.

So, let's get to it. Cinnamon rolls are really not as hard as they look. I have to admit. I cheat. Nanie did not have the luxury of throwing the ingredients into the bread machine to make her dough, but I couldn't live without my bread machines.


I have two bread makers and they both have a DOUGH CYCLE. That's very important because the machine only does the work of making the dough.


I cannot take credit for this recipe. I found it online many years ago. Now the website is called The Fresh Loaf. I can't wait to explore it a little more. Click here to find the recipe. It suggested using a bread machine for the dough and I decided to give it a try. It was so easy and the recipe is fantastic!

Yep, it's a Cinnabon knock off recipe.


When I printed it out many years ago, the hit counter said I was the first view, but who knows.

I always use this yeast. I buy the big jar because I bake a lot, but it also comes in little packets.


You just follow the directions and throw everything into the bread maker.


At that point, you walk away. When you come back, your dough will magically be ready to turn into rolls. It really is as simple as that. (Just remember to use warm ingredients because warmth activates the yeast.)

Now for the fun part. Roll out the dough on a cutting board.


Add the margarine.


Add the cinnamon and brown sugar. The recipe calls for a specific type of cinnamon, but I don't have it. The generic Safeway cinnamon has always worked just fine for me.


Roll it up.


Slice it. This is the point where my son yells, "Wait! I want to come listen to you slice them! I love that sound." Is that not the cutest thing??? Here's my big sports loving nine year old who just loves to be part of the baking experience. I told him that the sound of the rolls slicing will always be something he remembers and looks back on.


Place them in a pan to rise.




Don't forget to let the kids nibble the cinnamon and sugar leftovers.


Fresh out of the pan, ready for frosting.


Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the frosted rolls. The minute you get the frosting on, it's all over... they disappear faster than you can get them out.

Enjoy!

Check out these parties I like to link up to.
 

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