Saturday, January 28, 2012

An Adorable Doily Shirt

Sometimes I surprise myself and actually follow through on a craft idea I find. This month, I took my lead from Disney's Family Fun magazine (February 2012) and made some adorable doily shirts for some cute girls in my life.

Generally speaking, I followed the instructions they shared in the magazine and online, but I didn't need to use nearly as much glue as they suggested. For me, a few well placed dabs was plenty so long as I was careful about dabbing the fabric paint on the shirt.

The great thing about this craft is that it was very inexpensive. I used t-shirts and doilies I found at the local Dollar Tree. I did buy the paint and brushes from Jo-ann's. Fortunately they were on sale and I was able to use a 20% off crafting supplies coupon. That means I was able to decorate 3 shirts for less than $12 (including $5 for a 9-pack of brushes). Plus, I have enough paint and doilies to make, oh, 20 more shirts!

The pink one above is for Mary to wear with leggings and her favorite boots. When she wakes up and sees it in the morning I know she is going to like it a lot!

These next two are for Charlotte and one of her friends. They watched me paint these tonight and would have worn them to bed if I let them. But I was mean and told them they had to wait for the paint to dry.

(Those are not spots on the shirt. They were on the paper I used to protect the back of the shirt.)

Have you made any Valentine's or heart-themed crafts recently? Are you planning on making any?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mary's Progress

Tonight, Mary uttered her first 5 word sentence - "My daddy drink my milk."

That's the kind of thing that only a parent can appreciate. This happened towards the end of dinner tonight and when her declaration was over, Bruce and I just looked wide-eyed at one another. "Five words." We both had silly grins on our face after we watched Mary pull this off.

It's possible that no one else will see how big of a deal this is, but we do. We've watched her explode in language over the last two months. There are few words that she is no longer willing to attempt. We get to have real conversations with her now. Her pronunciation often needs to be translated by me, but I don't mind. It just thrills me that she is trying to make more noise. (Well, in theory it thrills me. Not so much when we are in a confined space like our car.)

Also, Mary might be one of the funniest children around. There is not a week that goes by where someone doesn't tell me, "Mary cracks me up." Apparently, while she's hanging out in the nursery at church she is making them laugh. I'm just glad she shares her sense of humor with us at home too.

Here's an example of her humor. We have this conversation a couple of times a day:
Me: Mary, what time is it?
Mary: Ee ti (sleep time)
Me: What does that mean?
Mary: No um, No kai (no jump, no cry)
Me: What are you supposed to do?
Mary: imitates snoring sounds

My Mary is too adorable for words! She is adventurous and loves to laugh and I love spending my days with her!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

5 Driving Tips You Don't Want to Follow

A while back, Esurance posted 5 "mom-inspired driving tips," and while they are good, I thought they needed a little re-touching to make them more real world. So, here are my 5 driving tips sure to  get you a ticket  cause an accident  result in injuries entertain you.

1 - Only wear your seat belt if it is comfortable and convenient for you. After all, it might choke you in a car accident. And if it doesn't, it could still leave you with a diagonal bruise across your chest. That's way better than having your head crash into the front windshield.

2 - Hurry up. Nobody likes being behind the slow poke. So, instead of responsibly driving the speed limit, hang out in the left lane and zoom past everyone. Then, no one can complain about your driving. While you are at it, add a few zigs and zags to your driving pattern. That will make sure everyone notices you as you blow past them. Maybe they'll feel bad and stop to offer you some cool water when they see you pulled over later.

3 - Ignore the weather. All those sissies driving with their blinkers on in the downpour need to mom up. Real moms can get their kids to soccer practice on time despite wet roads. And they can also make sure those fancy dance clothes don't get lost in the fog.

4 - Tailgating isn't just for football games. That's right! You can tailgate on the road too. The driver in front of you was hoping you would come a little closer so they can see that new scarf your sister gave you. Fortunately for them, you're also blaring the newest Lady Gaga cd so they can hear you as well as see you!

5 - Learn defensive driving. Using colorful language in a defensive way is an excellent way to let the other driver know you are unhappy with them. And you can defend your car's honor by suggesting drag races at the next light. Or, try some defensive hand signals. Those always work at letting other people know who's top dog on the road.

Actually, don't follow any of this advice. Really. It's bad advice. Instead, read the real 5 Mom-Inspired Driving Tips over at Esurance to make sure you are being as safe as possible, especially when you have precious cargo in the back seat!

FTC Disclosure: “I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Esurance blogging program for 8,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Review: "Homemade" Handwriting Worksheets

A child who is 4 years old should be learning how to write out their full name. This skill is standard kindergarten readiness and even if you plan to homeschool, as we do, your child should still work to attain this skill in a timely manner. Why? Well, in our house at least, Charlotte spends time with her peers at church and they often bring home worksheets and art projects that need her name on them.

More importantly, it imparts a great sense of pride when a child can successfully write their name on their own. With that in mind, I want to start our handwriting homeschooling instruction by teaching Charlotte how to correctly write her own name.

She is already pretty close to having it down. But, since she has 9 letters in her name, someone still has to spell it for her. And her 'e' is always backwards and upside down. To the right is a sample of her handwriting from the thank you notes we made for her Christmas gifts. I don't think it's that bad, but with practice I know it could be better.

In my search for the easiest way for her to practice writing her name, I found The Amazing - Incredible Handwriting Worksheet Maker!. It lets you create handwriting sheets based on what your child need to practice. Print style, D'Nealian, and Cursive handwriting fonts are all available.

On top of the style options, there is also a wide variety of practice sheets that can be made - name & sentence, single word, multi-word, and paragraphs. Each is easy to create and print from your own computer.

Once you choose which type of handwriting practice your child needs, there are several options for customizing it. Here's a screen shot of the sheet I created for Charlotte's handwriting practice.

My plan is to have Charlotte complete at least one of these sheets a day. Once she is accustomed to doing them and further along in her reading, I'll make sheets that match her Bible memory verses or the stories we are reading.

Let me know if you try this out as a resource and what your kiddos thought of it.

FTC Disclosure: This is a non-sponsored review. It was written without any consideration other than that of my readers who might find this useful.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Recipe: Dirty Omelets

Once a week, we eat breakfast for dinner, aka Brinner. Why? Because breakfast is the most awesome meal of the day! When else can you eat cake (i.e. pancakes) and call it a meal? No one even bats an eye if you serve panCAKES, especially when they are these awesome Pumpkin Pancakes. In fact, if you were at my house, you might even get cheered by the under 5 crowd when you announced cake for supper!

Another brinner that I love to make is affectionately known as "Dirty Omelets," so called because it, well, because it looks dirty. (Get your mind out of the gutter!)  Now, I'm sure someone out there is going to want to argue the point that, technically, this isn't an omelet. And before you go there, I'll admit, this is not, officially, an omelet. But it captures the essence of an omelet, at least in my opinion.

(Let's pretend that plate has a warm biscuit and a pretty fruit salad on it, okay?)

Everyone has their preferences for omelet fillings, but if you want to make an actual "dirty" omelet, then you must include mushrooms. This is what gives it that "dirty" appearance.

In this house, we happen to like onions. A lot. We go through a lot of onions around here. I always start my dirty omelets with a generous serving of butter in which to saute my veggies.

Then I let it all cook down until it has a lot of color. Leave enough in the pan for one or two omelets depending on how many hungry folk you'll be feeding.

And here's where we depart from typical omelet preparation. I just dump the scrambled eggs right on top of my sauteed veggies. After adding some more butter of course.
Oops you caught me... I a messy cook! But look, I have that cool salt cellar like Alton Brown!

Once that has cooked down a bit, I dump a bunch of cheese on top. I've yet to find the amount of cheese that is too much. Really, I don't think you can add too much. You could even get fancy and add different kinds of cheese. Me? I keep it simple and use sharp cheddar straight out of the bag!

And there you have it folks. This is how I make dirty omelets.

What is your favorite brinner recipe?

Monday, January 23, 2012

My Spaghetti Stick is Sexist

Does anyone else ever have a hard time trying to figure out how much dry spaghetti to make per person? We never seem to get it right at our house. I usually make too much and Bruce usually makes too little. And those times when I measure it to get exactly one serving (like when I was on Weight Watchers), I always laugh at the portion size. It is about half of what I really want to give myself.

A long time ago Bruce asked me to buy him that gadget with the holes in it that suggest how much pasta you need for a certain amount of people. I do try to be frugal so when I found this one at the local thrift store for only 25 cents, I just scooped it into my basket... without even really looking too close.

I seriously doubt it is going to solve MY portion size problem though... at least Bruce and teenagers will be eating well.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

13 Most Popular Posts of 2011

One more recap before 2012 marches on... here are the most popular posts on Family Musings in 2011 that were not some sort of review or giveaway:
And the most popular post of the year...
  • Monthly Menu Planning: I guess I'm not the only one who needs to keep my schedule and grocery costs under control! I am still using a monthly plan. Are you?
Honorable Mention - Bruce's guest post, Education's So-Called "Experts" had more page views than any other published post in 2011.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Know An Old Lady...

Fortunately, it isn't me!

Actually, I just thought I'd share the video that has my 4 year old giggling up a storm today. It is Judy Collins singing I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Spider on the Muppets. She gets a little help from the old men in the balcony. (I can't remember their names!)


This is a fun song for toddlers and preschoolers for a couple of reasons. First, it's totally absurd. The mental images conjured up by an old lady eating a goat are super silly. Second, it's full of repetition so it doesn't take long for the kiddos to learn the words and join in on the absurdity!

What song is tickling your child's funny bone right now?

Monday, January 09, 2012

October Dress Project Recap

Last Fall I did something unusual. I wore the same dress for 31 days in a row. There are lots of reasons why I chose to do it and you can read about them in the first 2 posts I wrote, covering week 1 and week 2 of ODP11 (as it became known). It was an exciting fashion experiment for this unfashionable momma who is sitting in her pj's as she writes this post, even though it's almost 2 PM!

For those of you who cheered me along or did the project with me, thank you. It made a huge difference to know I wasn't the only person who had to look at the same dress on the hanger each morning and try to find a way to make it new to me again. My friends Karissa, Ida, Cathy, and Shawna Lee all shared wrap up posts a long time ago and now it is time for me to add mine to the list.

First, the pictures from the last 2 weeks of October 2011.

Day 13, 14, 15, 16

Day 17, 19, 21, 24

There are several days missing from the last week and that is primarily because I was repeating ideas from earlier in the month. I still enjoyed wearing the dress and have even worn it several times since the project officially ended, but I was also tired of having my picture taken.

In the end, I had 2 lessons reinforced throughout the month of October.
  1. I really like wearing dresses. They are comfortable and feminine and it is a lot easier to pull together a look with a dress than it is with separates.
  2. I need to be more content with what I already have. Other than buying the dress and a few clearance tights, I pulled this off without buying new clothes. I think I should apply this creativity towards other items in my wardrobe as well.
I know it is only January, but I really hope that you will start thinking now about joining me again next October. As Jolene, an ODP founder wrote, "If you are eager to confront consumerism, live more sustainably and take a stand against the idea that you need to buy new clothes to feel beautiful and be happy, I would encourage you to give this challenge a try next October! Or, even better, you could start to think about how to incorporate these principles into your everyday life."

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Date Night Idea

Over the summer I began swapping childcare with a mom who lived nearby. One of the swaps we do is for a date night, about once a month. The first few months it was enough to just have a meal together and hang out... but now that we've been doing this consistently for several months, we need to mix things up and make them more interesting for both of us. It is just too easy to let all of the conversation be about things that we need to talk about, like the children, budgets, or our schedule for the coming week.

Inspired by a good price on Arts Cow playing cards, I decided to create a set that we'd be able to use for playing games on our date nights. The first date night we use them might be the most fun though, because I designed these cards with room to write on the back of them.
The plan is for each of us to get 2 suits of cards and then write out one thing on the back of each card that we love about the other person. I think fine tipped permanent markers would work best for this project so they don't smear and hold up to actually being used.

I intentionally tried to keep the cards masculine so my husband wouldn't mind using them. This would also be a fun gift to make for your children too and that opens up a much broader range of design possibilities.

EDIT: A clever friend of mine who will remain nameless was inspired by the idea and made these cards as a surprise 40th birthday gift for her husband:
What is your best, inexpensive date night activity idea?

Friday, January 06, 2012

I'm Not Here

Today, instead of reading my rambles on here, you can read them over at Inside That Head of Mine. Angela is the blogger over there and she interviewed me for the first in her series of blogger interviews. I think she asked some great questions and I had a fun time answering them. Learn all about what inspires me as a blogger. If you like what you read, leave her some comment love when you visit. Then come back and do the same thing here!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

2011 - In Calendars

After a couple of years, some things, like this post, just become tradition. So it is without further ado, that I show you our year in calendars, courtesy of The Shabby Shoppe.

(Here's a secret about the next 4 desktop calendars... I made them for this post. Seems like I got busy again and didn't have a chance to do them in a timely manner. Oops!)

(photo credit: K Barber Photography)

Here are links to the 2010 and 2009 calendar reviews.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

How I Manage My Blog Reading Time

A recent post by Joy at Church Planting Confessions, sparked an idea to share with you how I manage my blog reading time. I've had to become more intentional with my online time recently for lots of reasons, including my desire to spend more time with my family and declutter my home.

The main tool I use to manage my blog reading is Google Reader. Every blog I read is given a label and categorized by the type of blog it is. Some of my categories include 'Friends' (real life friends who blog), 'Moms' (other mom blogs that I find interesting), 'Church' blogs (from pastors and ministries I respect), 'Missions' (written by missionary moms), 'Miscellaneous' (crafts, fashion, or other random topics), and 'Homeschooling'.

I read my friend's blogs first to keep up with their lives, even if I see them regularly. It helps us get into deeper conversations when we are together. Reading my friend's blogs is also a way to help my children connect with their friends. I can show the pictures to my daughters and they can see what their little friends are up to.

Then, I read those mom blogs who have a life completely different from mine. The three I read first are Urban Servant - a large bi-racial adoptive family, Our Little Tongginator - an international adoptive family, DesignHer Momma - a really hip momma who tells it like it is. These blogs help me keep my own life in perspective and it is interesting to me to see how other families work.

Everything else comes after that as time permits. I usually scan the other categories to see if anything catches my eye, but most of the reading in those areas is done only once or twice a month.

Also, I've had to limit my blog commenting in the past year as my time has become more scheduled. It's hard to not say everything I always want to in response to other's posts, but it can really be a time zapper because I always want to be so thoughtful with my comment. Plus, I am a constant self-editor so even short comments take a long time to write, to make sure the context is clear and I am being understood.

And that is how I manage my blog reading time.

How do you do it? What's your technique for not becoming overwhelmed by all the great blog content out there?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Homemade/Handmade Gift Idea - Hanging Towels

I've wanted to share this homemade gift idea with y'all for weeks! But too many people on my gift-giving list were getting these and I didn't want to spoil the surprise. This gift is great for teachers, people with mobility issues, parents of toddlers, or people who are just too lazy to bend over and pick up a fallen dish towel!

Hanging Towel
Not only are these gifts useful by anyone with a kitchen, they are also super easy to make. I whipped up a whole stack of them in about 30 minutes. And, if you don't have access to a sewing machine, these can be done by hand if you needed to. 

First, start with a coordinating dish towel and pot holder. You need the kind of pot holder that has the loop in the middle. Corner loops will not work for this project. I bought these 5 piece sets at Wal-Mart and was able to get 1-2 gifts out of each set. You can also buy the dish towels and pot holders at dollar stores to save a little more money. I think I spent $6 on this 5-pack which makes 2 hanging towels.

To begin, fold the dish towel into thirds (mine were already folded properly, straight from the packaging). Make sure your towel is folded to the same width as your potholder.

Then, line up the middle of your pot holder with the middle of the towel. Keep the loop to your right side so it is on the back half of the hanging towel. Since the stitching is so short, I didn't bother with pinning it. A couple of mine shifted, so I would recommend that you pin it if you are a perfectionist.

Next, get ready to sew. I had to fold the right side of my towel in on itself a few times to help make my line straight. I recommend a zig-zag stitch for this project because you have so many pieces of fabric to work through and want it to stand up to being pulled on and washed frequently.

And that's almost it. Once you've finished the stitch down the middle, you just need to hand sew a coordinating button onto the non-loop side of the pot holder. A 2-pack of clear buttons was $0.67 at Wal-Mart, making this a very inexpensive gift.
(before I sewed the buttons on, see top picture for completed project)
Now though, I'm left with this pile of pot holders and could really use some creative ideas for how to re-purpose them. Leave a comment if you have any suggestions or links to share.

EDIT: Ack! I'm mortified. I have had towels like these hanging in my kitchen for several years and thought they were such a good idea that I suggested this post to one of my favorite craft blogs (Dollar Store Crafts). Then, when I was browsing their past posts I saw a post almost identical to mine - published in December. I must have read it and clearly it influenced this post even if I didn't realize it at the time. So, I just want to take this moment and give credit to Rhonda for her original post - Making $2 Hanging Kitchen Towels. It must have seeped into my subconscious and prompted me to write my own post.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Christmas Day Celebrations

We started our Christmas day off by going to church. It was a great way for us to keep our focus on the reason for celebrating and to remind the girls that we exchange gifts with one another as a way to remember the gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus when he was a toddler. 

I got the girls all dressed up and we posed in front of the tree for some sister love. We say "no to the dress" around here, so Mary is wearing a dressed handed down from her friend Clara and Charlotte is wearing a Matilda Jane dress I won from DesignHer Momma.


After church, we fed the girls a quick lunch (hot dogs and yogurt!) and then began opening gifts.

It sure does look like a lot of stuff in that picture doesn't it? Fortunately, it wasn't all for those 2 sweet angels up above and it was divided between 7 of us.

Charlotte loves her new purple hat...

And Grumpy and Grandpa liked their new travel mugs. The girls had painted these and made finger print fish on them. It was an inexpensive way to involve the girls in their own gifting.

Clearly Mary was excited about her new baby doll.

And Bruce about this power outlet for his motorcycle.

My mom got her annual Sabin family photo book...

And the girls got their annual "Sisters and Friends" book. Each Christmas I make a book with photos of the two of them from that year. I only make one copy so they'll always have to remain close enough to one another to share.

And my gifts? Well, I got a new touch screen phone from my parents and Bruce is sending me away to The Gospel Coalition National Woman's Conference next Summer. I've already registered and am excited about the sessions I'm signed up for!

What about you? How did you celebrate Christmas?