Names and Faces Book

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I have wanted to do a names and faces book ever since my daughter’s first Christmas, but never got around to it. Therefore, this Christmas when we were struggling with gift ideas for my son, I decided to finally make it happen. I had seen the one that could be ordered from Shutterfly and loved it, but I did not love the fact that when it was done, I couldn’t add to it. Our extended family has changed a lot in the past year and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down in the foreseeable future. So, I decided to make my own by taking pictures I had and adding the people’s names to them using Picmonkey and then printing them out. After this step my original plan was to simply put them in a photo album and call it a day. However, inspiration struck again while I was at Hobby Lobby and I decided to make a really quick and simple scrapbook out of it using an 8×8 album. I love the way it turned out and look forward to adding new pages for him soon!

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Have a Happy Day!

 

One Month No Eating Out Challenge

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A couple of months ago I decided our family needed a change in our eating out habits. For me, the reason behind this went far beyond the obvious financial and health benefits (although these are definitely perks). Both my husband and I grew up in very small towns where eating out wasn’t much of an everyday option. It was a special thing to go out for a meal and I can honestly say that because of this I grew up valuing the fact that a meal out does indeed cost quite a bit more than staying in. However, now that we live in a little bit larger of a town and our lives our getting busier it felt like we were using eating out as a backup plan way too often. Therefore, I posed the challenge to my husband of us not eating out for one solid month. He agreed with my reasoning and, he was very ambitious as far as the financial savings we could see.

We decided on this challenge back in November, but we were realistic with ourselves in the fact that taking the challenge in either November or December would probably end in failure due to the holiday season, birthday celebrations, and being out and about more often to get everything ready for such events. Therefore, our month of choice was January. We even decided to take it a step further for ourselves and not do any sort of eating that was premade for us. This meant along with no meals in restaurants, we also would not be going out for desert or coffee and we wouldn’t buy things in the grocery stores that were premade (such as take and bake pizza or a rotisserie chicken). This seems a little extreme once I type it out, but it is supposed to be a challenge.

As I stated above, our big problem that lead me to this was we were using eating out as a backup plan. We would be out shopping or running errands and realize it was a meal time and then realize that we didn’t have anything ready so we could cook at home or we would have something ready to cook but it didn’t sound tasty anymore and we would resort to eating at a restaurant. We’ve been doing weekly menus for a really long time, but sometimes we get into a rut or my thought process isn’t very unique for a couple of weeks and we tend to make the same thing over and over again. Therefore, about a week prior to the start of January I thought of every meal I could and wrote all of them down. As more time goes on and something else pops into my head or I see a good recipe, I go and write it on the list. When the start of a new week is approaching, I look at the list and write out a menu that has a variety of meals. At the beginning of the week I go to the grocery store and purchase what is needed for the menu so we know we have everything and each morning we make sure that the meat for dinner is out of the freezer so it is ready to go that night.

We are almost halfway through the month and my husband and I are absolutely loving that we accepted this challenge for ourselves. Not only are we saving a little money, but we are also finding that eating at home is more enjoyable than going out in most cases. We have two very small children that do not grasp the concept of the restaurant atmosphere. They would much rather be at home where they can get down from the table when they are done eating and go play with their toys rather than stay sitting while mom and dad are done and then get their coats on, go out in the cold, and then get to go home and play. Also, this challenge has highlighted the fact that we own pretty much every kitchen gadget made and we are able to make whatever we are craving with ease. We both love to cook and this has made us happier and more appreciative in our kitchen and home.

Have a happy day!

DIY Everyday Car Kit

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Hello Everyone!! I hope you all had as wonderful of a holiday season as we did! Now it is time to get back to reality and start the year off with a little more organization in our life.

I don’t know about you, but it seems that whenever I go somewhere I inevitably end up doing something or going somewhere that I am not necessarily ready for. Going out for a quick bite when my errands run into lunch time, going to the store when I’m on way my back to the house from somewhere, or if the weather turns a little different from when we go someplace to when we leave that place (I’m talking a few short hours here, and yes that happens often in Montana). Anyway, I thought I would put together a quick car kit in order to be prepared for when those moments arise in our lives. This car kit is basically things that I would need when I am running around town. If I was headed out of town this list would be greatly expanded, especially in the winter time.

I sat down and thought about some of the most common things that I often find unforeseen and forget about when I am headed out. Some of the items on this list are things that I would only use when I am out of the house, but I don’t always need them. Therefore, I think filling up my diaper bag with them is unnecessary, but I still want a go to place to keep them in the car when I am on the go.

These Items Include:

  • Table mat for the baby while we are eating out
  • Grocery cart cover for the baby
  • Blankets for both the kids
  • Baby carrier
  • Camera (an extra one that we had in the house just in case I leave mine home and we have an adorable, hang on to the memory moment)
  • Hats and Gloves (in the summer I will replace these items with swimsuits and towels)

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I had an extra collapsible storage box that happened to be the perfect size to fit all of these items, but you could also use a milk crate, plastic tote, or just a regular box that might be lying around.

It fits great in the back of my vehicle and now I am ready for those occasions when we are out and I can’t seem to keep track of all those just in case items.

Have a Happy Day!

Diaper Bag Essentials

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Over the past few years my diaper bag has been a constant companion whenever I leave the house. Along with housing all the kids’ needs, it has acted as my purse so that I don’t have to carry two bags and two kids when I am out. Along the way I’ve reevaluated and reorganized the bag to make sure that I’m not constantly pulling out EVERYTHING to find a small item way down in the bottom corner of the bag. I did this again last night and thought I would share what I think are must haves and a few tricks I have found.

The pretty obvious things that one would find in a bag includes:

Diapers (one rule of thumb that I have heard is to carry one diaper per hour you will be gone. I usually carry four per child and haven’t run out)

Wipes

Extra Set of Clothes

Changing pad (the one pictured is disposable)

Bags for dirty diapers

Pacifier (I carry this in a clear container so it doesn’t get dirty)

Nursing cover

Bulb syringe

Hand Sanitizer

Kleenex

Kids’ Sunglasses

Burp Cloth

Snacks

Multiple toys for baby as the attention span can be rather small during a wait

Colors and paper for my toddler so she can create masterpieces wherever we are (I found the trick of putting them in an extra wipes container on Pinterest)

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Restaurant Kit:

I’ve recently seen these all over the place and thought it was genius! I bought a couple of small makeup bags at the dollar store and put bibs, silverware, and a Norwex cloth in one of them. I use the plastic types of bibs for restaurants so I can easily clean up any mess that they may make and move on. I also have a plastic bag for the Norwex cloth so that I can wet it down when we leave home and it will be ready when needed and not get everything else wet.

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Mommy’s Stuff:

This is where the second makeup bag that I bought at the dollar store came into play. I have most of my stuff in there along with a few smaller items that I don’t want the kids playing with and could easily get lost in the diaper bag. The items in this bag consists of hair things for my daughter and I, chap stick, breath mints, couple of makeup items, comb, hand lotion, and pain reliever. Other mommy items that I carry in the diaper bag are my wallet and business cards for my husband and I.

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The above items are my essentials when leaving the house. Other items that one may find in my bag, depending on where I am going, are coupons, notebook, etc.

Mommy Needs a Timeout

Mommy Needs A TimeOut

A few weeks ago it finally happened; mommy needed to send herself to timeout. I went to the grocery store and knew I was pushing my limits with my son’s nap time. This had happened before, but it hadn’t mattered much since he was still in the baby car seat and could happily sleep away as my daughter and I went about the shopping. However, this particular outing occurred a few days after we had removed that seat and went to a convertible car seat.

When we got into the grocery store I let my daughter ride in the cart that has the car for kids in the front of it; since I figured that would keep her happy as I tried to entertain my sleepy son while he rode inside the cart. It did not work out the way I imagined. My son did not tolerate sitting in the cart at all, and as soon as I picked him up and started pushing the huge cart with one hand, he fell asleep. Great, this made pushing that thing so much easier. My daughter did not happily ride along “driving the cart”. Every time I stopped to get something off the shelf, she had to get out and get something off the shelf too. If something caught her eye while I was pushing with one hand, she tried to bail out.

When we got to the checkout line, I managed to unload the cart with a sleeping infant in my arms while trying to keep my daughter in the cart car as she was eyeing all those lovely candy bars and knick knacks that the product placement geniuses had decided should go there. The cashier rang up my items and when I reached into my pocket to grab the coupons I wanted to use, they were gone, even though I checked about fifteen times to see if they were still there throughout the store. Looking back, that was probably my tipping point with this shopping trip. While I was getting my credit card out to pay, I spotted my daughter climbing on the FRONT of the cart car and I lost it. I yelled at her to get back in the car. I didn’t even realize the tone in which it had come out, until after it was done and I looked at the cashier and the grocery bagger. I was embarrassed, not only for me but for my little lady as well. Was she misbehaving? Yes. Did she deserve to be yelled at like that in public? No.

It was time for mommy to have a timeout. I paid for the groceries, got the kids safely in the car, loaded the groceries, got myself in the car and cried. I didn’t say a word to my kids on the way home. When we got there, I fed them lunch and put them both down for a nap. During that time, I still didn’t say much. I’m sure my daughter took this as me being mad at her, and to tell the truth, I was still frustrated with her. However, it was mainly because I needed a mental break. As they slept, I did what we all ask our kids to do when we send them for timeout. I thought about what I had done and what I needed to do differently next time. I’m mommy and I should have known better than to put myself in that situation. Furthermore, if the situation cannot be avoided (which we all know is the case sometimes), I need to handle it in a more positive and thought out way. I should’ve worn the baby pack and put my daughter in the cart strapped in. Case closed.

When my daughter woke up, we talked. I told her I was sorry for yelling at her and I told her that she needed to listen to mommy when she was asked to do something or stay somewhere. I know, that at two years old, we will have this talk many times, but I was glad that I was able to give myself the much needed timeout and come back to her in a more positive and calm manner.

Quick Advent Calendar

Who else was shocked that yesterday was already December 1st! It seems like Halloween was only yesterday. As I was lying in bed last night it dawned on me that I had planned on doing our first Advent Calendar this year and I had nothing done for it! Therefore, this morning I took the little one’s into my craft room and got to work on a quick calendar that would give my little girl a fun activity for each day this month leading up to Christmas.
To begin, I picked out some pieces of holiday scrapbook paper and let her pick the one that we wanted to use as our calendar backdrop. I used my Cricut to cut out 24 squares that would hold our daily activities and I also cut out numbers 1-24 to go on each square. I pasted three sides of the squares onto the paper, leaving the top open.

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After this was complete, I went back to my Cricut and cut out tags that would fit in each square and that had a tab on the top so grabbing the activity each day would be easy for our little lady. After that was done, I went onto the computer and printed out the list of activities that we are going to complete throughout the month.

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I thought of the holiday traditions that we do each year anyway and added a few more that I thought would be fun. For the upcoming years, I will probably stick with the ones that we have done year after year and the ones that we find that we really enjoyed, but I’ll mix in some new ones here and there to keep it interesting. Here is the list for this year.

  • Christmas Light Tour
  • Make Gingerbread Houses
  • Visit Santa
  • Watch Polar Express
  • Make Neighbor Gifts
  • Read Christmas Story
  • Make Christmas Cards
  • Write Santa
  • Sweet Treat
  • Color Christmas Pages
  • Make Paper Snowflakes
  • Bake Cookies
  • Watch Christmas Movie
  • Sledding
  • Picnic by the Tree
  • Decorate Christmas Tree
  • Window Shopping
  • Take a Wintry Walk
  • Make Apple Cider and Popcorn
  • Snowball Fight
  • Christmas Song Dance Party
  • Deliver Christmas Cards
  • Hot Chocolate Night
  • Christmas Craft

I attached each activity to the tab and went about dispersing them throughout the month. I tried to make each activity small enough to do in the evening when my husband gets home and for the few activities that would take longer, I placed them in the weekends. I folded the tabs of each tag over the edge of the square to further ensure that my two year old’s little fingers could easily get them out without destroying the calendar each day.
And there we have our first ever Advent Calendar!

Advent 5

Self-Binding Blanket

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Sewing is an extremely new hobby that I have picked up. To say I am a novice at it would be a great understatement. However, at one point I had some fabric that I bought to make a car seat canopy, which I ended up not needing. Therefore, when I was searching what I could do with the fabric, I discovered these blankets. To be honest, the thought of me trying this terrified me. For some reason, I always had a complete mental block when it came to sewing. Prior to finding these blankets, my sewing consisted of a couple of burp cloths and “helping” my mom sew some curtains (by help I mean ironing while she sewed). Anyway, I thought I would give this a shot and see what happened even though I was completely confused by the online tutorial. That blanket turned out to be my favorite one that I have done so far, probably because I loved the fabric and it was the first thing I had made my son.

Since then, I have made two more and I love how simple they are and how cute they turned out. Therefore, for my fourth undertaking I decided to share with you all how I make them and how simple they really are.

First, cut the fabric to the dimensions that you want, making sure that the backing fabric is ten inches larger. For this blanket, my dimensions were 37×47. Next, find the middle of each side of each fabric and place a pin.

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Place the backing fabric face up and lay the front fabric on top of it with the pattern side down. Match the middles of each fabric on one of their sides and pin them together. NOTE: If you are new at this and this step is confusing and you can’t envision the final outcome, don’t worry. I was having trouble with this also. Keep going.

Blanket Together

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Sew the edges together using a straight stitch. After one side is done, match another sides middle points and repeat. Do this for three sides, and on the fourth side leave a small opening in the middle to pull the blanket right side out.

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After you are done sewing the four sides, this is what it should look like.

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Next is making the corners. Fold the fabric so it makes a triangle and place a ruler or some sort of straight edge where the back fabric meets the front fabric in the corner. Draw a line where this happens and sew a straight stitch on the line.

After you sew the stitch, pull the corner through and make sure it the binding is correct before you cut the excess fabric off. I have learned this lesson the hard way. Do this with all four corners.

After this is complete, pull all the fabric through the opening. Sew a zigzag stitch all around the blanket where the front fabric and the backing fabric meet. The zigzag stitch will close the opening that was left for pulling the fabric through.

That’s it! Now you have a cuddly blanket to snuggle in or give as a gift.

Notes: The material that I have used together is minky and cotton, minky and flannel, and minky and another cuddly type fabric. My favorite combination so far has been the minky and cotton, but the others were not hard either. I have heard that the minky fabric can be difficult to work with, however, as I stated before, I am a new sewer and I haven’t had problems with it. The only time I have had problems with these is when I’m not thinking about each step or am in a hurry to get it done. Take your time and you will have a beautiful blanket to show off!