Thursday, May 31, 2012

George the Giraffe

Here is how I feel this week..
Actually this is a Kindergartner that was at the Kindergarten picnic.... and I am pretty sure he stands on his head about 8 times a day.  But the cool part is that all the kids surround him on the playground and count to 100....and he stays like that...the WHOLE time.  I am thinking that with a little work I could take him to America's Got Talent....but I digress...

The reason I feel like I have been standing on my head is because my schedule has been a little hectic this week to say the least.  Next week is the big week of Vacation Bible School, so I've been a busy little bee trying to tie up some loose ends.  Someone along the way thought I would know a little bit about Kindergartners and First Graders so I have been selected to teach that class. 
One of my "loose ends" was to come up with some decorations for the classroom. The theme for our VBS is "Walking on Safari with Jesus" and so our class was dubbed the "Giraffes".  I looked for a poster or something to put in my room with a Giraffe theme, but unfortunately with time constraints I wasn't able to make that happen, so I had to improvise.
I found a free Giraffe coloring page on the Internet and free hand sketched it onto a piece of foam board..
btw..pay no attention to the little itty bitty pair of undies at the top of this pic...hey, I'm a Mom..I can fold laundry and draw Giraffes simultaneously.
Anyhoo...I then traced over the pencil with a permanent marker..
and yes, I can draw, fold laundry and look at my ipad.

Then I colored it all in and voila'..We have George the Giraffe.
Ben tells me that his name can't be George because "George is a monkey, Mom!"  So, I guess I am going to have to rename him.   ....but I think he's a keeper!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

All Good Things Must Come To An End..

Recently the school year came to an end, which means my Kindergartner is now officially a First Grader and I am officially on the hunt for a time machine with a button marked "slow down".  I am not exactly sure why I found the end of Kindergarten more emotional than the beginning, but I realized  I had a problem when I teared up while reading the last school newsletter....I can't help it, I'm a cryer.
I do know that one of the reasons it was so hard to say goodbye is this woman...

Mrs. Glascott & Ben


She is one of the most wonderful Teachers that you will ever get the privilege of knowing and we found ourselves so fortunate that our family got that chance.  She not only teaches the fundamentals of Kindergarten, but strives to teach the kids to love and care for their fellow classmates and everyone in general.
Her class does a special project called "The Kool Kindergarten Kindness Club" in which she takes it upon herself to send out cards to anyone that may need it. Birthdays, Births, Get Well, Thank yous, etc. are all included.  The cards are passed around the class and each child signs his/her name and is told who the card will go to and why.  This instills in the children, at this young age, to remember that everyone likes and needs to know that someone is thinking of them.
I have always said that if I do nothing else as a Mother, I want to raise my boys to have empathy, love, and kindness for people.  So, for me, to have these points taught not only at home, but at school too, was a wonderful delight.

One of her favorite books to read is "Puff, the Magic Dragon".  If you're not familiar with the book, or just can't remember because it's been a while....
"Puff" is basically about a boy growing up.  He visits his imaginary friend and eventually he gets too old and grows up and then "Puff" finds a new friend at the end.  It actually brings tears to my eyes on a good day, so you can imagine what happened to me when the class all sat around in a circle and sang along with the book on the last day of school. 
Luckily, I caught most of it with my phone before it died and it was definitely a tear jerker...


Sorry my phone cut it off right before the end, but it was still great to watch.  If you're like me, you'll need a tissue, so go ahead and get one, I'll wait...

I feel that there is so much negative light shined on our schools and our teachers that I wanted to put something positive out there....more than positive...fantastic should be the word. 
I know a lot of teachers, and I see how hard they work and get very little credit for it, so if you see a teacher today, let them know how much you appreciate them.
I can't begin to tell you all how grateful I am that my son got to have such a wonderful experience as his first year in school.  I also can't begin to express what a wonderful teacher and friend Mrs. Glascott is and has become to our family.  I hope each and everyone one of you that has a child, grandchild, or maybe plans to have a munchkin one day, will get to have the same experience.
And one more thing..


We love you Mrs. Glascott!!
Thank you!





Saturday, May 26, 2012

I Just Thought You Should Know...

It's Saturday, so here we go again.  Here is my list of things that I feel I need to share with you this week....



Watch This...

I just finished watching something that I feel everyone should be required to watch.
It should be shown in every health class in every high school all over the country and if you are out of school, you should definitely take the time to watch it on your own.
Should you choose to watch it.....and I hope that you will....it will change your life forever.

The Weight of the Nation is a 4 part HBO documentary addressing the epidemic of obesity in our country today.  The information in the film will stagger you, humble you, and bring tears to your eyes.  The third part of the film is exceptionally hard to watch because it focuses on children and the bleak future that our kids will face if we don't change our lifestyles soon.  I don't care if you are thin, fat, tall, short, young or old, this is information that every person should have and know. 
If you're like me, you may think you've heard it all concerning weight loss and diet and exercise, but I learned very quickly that I was wrong.  If you click on the picture above, it will take you directly to HBO's website where you can watch all 4 parts of the film in it's entirety. 

It's a life changer..                                                              .....I just thought you should know.


Helpful Tip..

I have recently started making my own laundry detergent and I am very pleased with the results.  It costs very little, it's easy to make, and lasts forever. If you are interested in making your own detergent just click here..  http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/laundrysoap.htm .   I found during my search that almost all of the thousands of recipes on the Internet are the same, but this is a website that has probably the most widely used recipe out there.
Just be warned that when your hubby comes in the kitchen and thinks you're cooking something for dinner and he finds out it's really soap, he'll think you've lost your marbles. 
During my search for my detergent recipe, I ran across tons of tips for saving money and the one that is soo simple and easy to do is to cut your dryer sheets in half

Yep, you get the same static cling resistance, same springy fresh smell, (if you prefer a fragrance) but your dyer sheets will go twice as far. 
It's simple, it's easy and it's cheap                                        .....I just thought you should know.


My Yard

This what my yard looked like last week..

                                                                                                                    ...ugh.
                                                           .....yuk.

But now it looks like this..


and this..

Okay, I know it doesn't look like much yet, but soon it will be green, luscious, grass.....
I will no longer cringe as I pull in my drive way and it shall be glorious.
                                                                                                        .....I just thought you should know.

Product Review

Remember this stuff?..

The Miracle Skin Transformer Body I received in my BirchBox.
Well, I tried it...

It's like foundation for your body.  It's pretty thick and hard to spread over the skin, but I did notice a difference in the way my skin looked.  Basically a tinted moisturizer for the body, I find that I am not sure it's worth the money.  If you have something to cover up, why not just use actual make-up?  Also, I didn't think it stayed on that long, it either rubbed off or soaked in and I looked just like the old me with freckles and scars and all. 
So I guess my opinion is this...it's okay, but should you buy it?....Well, you can decide that, but I doubt I will be purchasing it anytime soon.                                   .....I just thought you should know

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Monday, May 7 through Friday, May, 11 was National Teacher Appreciation Week.  Because of this, I took roughly 5 dozen Chocolate Chip Cookies into school on that Friday to show the Teachers how awesome I think they are. I could never be a Teacher, I don't have the patience, so I really appreciate the fact that there are people out there that want to teach my munchkins.
  
Since I did that, I have had several people tell me that I make great cookies and ask me for my recipe.  There is no secret, it's a typical Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, but I do have some tips on making them turn out great...every time.  So, I will share with you exactly what I do when making my cookies, and what I've learned over the years through trial and error .....and also a few tips I've picked up along the way from the pros.


Chocolate Chip Cookies



The first thing I do, is set up my sifting station ....yes, I said sifting station.  It sounds more complicated than it is.  It's basically a bendable plastic cutting board with a colander on top.


I throw in my flour


..and baking soda & salt


and then shake it like mad,
until I have a mound of light, aerated flour.


I then add 2 sticks of softened butter to my mixing bowl



..and the white refined sugar and the brown sugar



Then, turn your mixer on and walk away.  Yep, just walk away for a few minutes.  This is a very important step in baking known as creaming.  By letting the mixer go for a few minutes, what you are doing is letting the sugar granules tear into the fat of the butter and make tiny, microscopic air pockets.  Later, when baking, the heat of the oven will cause the fat to steam up into those little pockets of air and puff up the cookie, helping with the rising process of baking.  I usually let my mixer go for about 3 minutes on medium speed and it works for me.  Your creamed mixture should look very light and...well..creamy.

Next, break your eggs into a small dish or bowl.  If you are any kind of a cook, you've probably heard this a dozen times, but it bares repeating.  You never know when you'll get a bad egg, so spare yourself the heartache of ruining a recipe and break your eggs into a separate container first.

Add one at a time, and mix well.


Next, add in your vanilla...which I didn't take a picture of...because I forgot..but I'm pretty sure you can handle it!
Then, you'll be so glad you sifted your flour onto the bendable cutting board because you can just roll it up and slowly add it into your butter mixture by tapping the bottom of the board ever so lightly until it is all incorporated.  So simple!


Then add in your chocolate chips and mix for just a few seconds and voila'...you've got cookie dough.
.....now grab a spoon and dig in....then make your hubby mad.... because you threatened him within an inch of his life if he ate any of the dough because it is for someone else, but he caught you eating it anyway....and now you'll never get that foot rub that you wanted...wait, what?  ..Nevermind.

 Refrigerate the whole thing for at least 30 minutes.  If you can let it refrigerate longer, do so.  In fact, many times, I make my dough a day ahead and let it sit in the fridge until I am ready to bake it off.  I feel this is essential.  By chilling the dough, you are firming up the butter in the mixture and cementing in those air pockets that you creamed in earlier.  Your cookies will puff up even and beautifully.

Extra Tips
 During the busy holidays, I have made dough waaaay ahead and froze it, then popped it in the fridge a day before baking to thaw, it works great.  Just make sure you protect your dough properly from the freezer.  Wrap your dough in plastic wrap, and then a layer of aluminum foil.  This double layer insures the fat in your dough will not pick up any unwanted flavors from your freezer.

Parchment paper is your friend!  Use it, like it, love it.  It not only allows for extremely quick clean up, but cookies come off clean and easy.  Make sure you use parchment paper and not wax paper.  Wax paper can actually leave wax on your cookies and who wants that?  Only use wax paper when a recipe specifically calls for it.

Use a cool cookie sheet everytime.  I actually have about 8 cookies sheets, I think.  I line however many sheets I will need with parchment paper, and scoop all my cookies out at once.  They are lined up and ready to go into the oven.  If you use a warm or hot cookie sheet, your cookies may not bake evenly or bake time will vary from the batch before, not to mention, this will speed up the baking process...alot.

Take your cookies off the hot baking sheet asap!  If you leave your cookies on a hot baking sheet, they continue to bake.  The pros call this carry-over.  Sometimes you will need this in cooking, like a steak, for instance, but not for baking cookies.

Remember that baking is a science.  That means, make sure your measurements are exact.  Level off your measuring cups when measuring dry ingredients like flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, etc.  Any variation in measurements can mean a failed baking result.

If you follow this recipe and tips, you should get a cookie that looks like this..
Yummy, huh?  Now I am going to take one of these warm and gooey morsels to my hubby and try to beg back my foot rub. 

Recipe

2 1/4 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 C butter, softened
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C Brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1 12 oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
sift flour, baking soda, & salt together and set aside.  Cream together butter and sugars until well combined and then add eggs, one at a time.  Mix in vanilla.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until well combined.  Add chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.  Scoop onto baking sheets and bake at 350 for 10 -12 minutes.  The larger the cookie, the longer the baking time.
Makes about 3 - 4 dozen cookies, depending on size.









Monday, May 21, 2012

Me & My Camera...

I did a favor for my husband's Aunt this weekend. 
I took pictures of her daughter's big dance and they turned out pretty good I think.
I am in no way a professional photographer, nor do I want to become one, but I love to take pictures and I have picked it up as a sideline hobby after starting this blog. It was a lot of fun and I got paid in babysitting, so that is awesome! Now I'm just sitting around and thinking of stuff I can go do so I can use up my babysitting credits.
I will now share with you a few of the results of my efforts.  If you are a friend of mine on facebook, then some of these pictures may be a repeat, so bare with me.




This little darling was born my senior year of high school.  After this, I went home and slathered on an extra layer of wrinkle cream.
It's pretty easy when you have beautiful subjects to shoot!
This group definitely says "High School, here we come."

We had to do some family shots too..
...what a beautiful family.
Three generations of beautiful ladies.

I was a triple threat Saturday.
I did the hair.
I took the photos.
I was the adoring cousin.
So you can imagine how tired I was, but I still loved the way the hair styles turned out..

And last but not least, we seal it all with a kiss for Grandpa..

Friday, May 18, 2012

I Just Thought You Should Know...

I'm starting a new segment that I'm hoping to feature every Saturday.
Can you guess what it's going to be called?

Yep, I Just Thought You Should Know is going to be a dedicated page that will feature helpful tips, professional advice on hair, nails, and skin, reviews on products and other things I love..or hate...or just simple ramblings about my life. 

I L-O-V-E feedback, so if you like it, let me know .....and I'll keep on keepin' on.  If you don't, well, let me know and it will be gone with the wind. (BTW: I think I am the only one who doesn't like this book/movie in the whole wide world..... I just thought you should know.)

And so we begin...

Almond Butter

I swore to myself years ago after watching an interview with Jennifer Garner that I would try it... and I just got around to it last week.  They asked her how she kept her energy up while shooting the physically exhausting fight scenes in Alias and she replied that she ate all day long and her favorite snack was apples dipped in almond butter.  Hey if it's good enough for Sidney Bristow...it's good enough for me...and although I have no exhausting fight scenes to shoot in my foreseen future, (one can always hope!) I feel that maybe I can use all the help I can get chasing around my munchkins.
This is the brand I have and I love....   Kettle
Bonus:  No artificial anything, just almonds and salt. 
I eat it for breakfast on a piece of whole wheat bread with a tiny bit of honey drizzled and it's great.
Note: watch portion control!  It is still high in calories and fat, although it is good fat so that's a plus.
 I love it. If you haven't tried it you should  ......I just thought you should know.



Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away

My house has been a wreck this week.  And this is why..

I've been very dirty.
I've been very sweaty.
I've been very tired.
 So, my house has suffered a little. I'm kind of hoping for a rainy day so I have to stay in and make myself clean, but for now, it's gonna have to hold    ......I just thought you should know.


What's Your Sign?
On days I am home and it is warm and sunny, I like to eat lunch on my front porch swing...... and I have a date.


 He's a little thin, not a great conversationalist, but he has a rockin' set of wheels....

This sign makes me laugh everyday.  Here are some of the thoughts that go through my head when I am staring at it.

"Watch out for the crazy deranged stick man driving a golf cart!"
"I've never seen anyone cross their golf cart here....ever."
"Did they really need to put the clubs and bag on the back to know what it is?"
"The detail is remarkable."
"How does he make the golf cart move?  His feet don't reach the peddles."
"I guess it doesn't matter, he has no neck."
"Much funnier than the fire truck."
"If someone does drive through town with a golf cart and has clubs in the back, I am going to worry, the closest golf course is 15 miles from here."
"Who comes up with these signs, anyway?"
"Definitely funnier than the family holding hands."

...I could go on and on, but I can tell you're eyes are starting to glaze. 

This sign makes me smile all the time.   ......I just thought you should know.


Skin Care Tip:
Have you ever had a zit that hurts..really bad...and is really deep under the skin? It feels like a hard knot under there and takes forever to go away.  It can get feverish, swell, get very red and you can even develop a cyst that rises up on the surface.  If you are one of the lucky ones that has never had this experience, good for you, and I'm sticking my tongue out at you right now.  But for the unlucky ones out there, like me, these are not ordinary pimples or breakouts.  It's called Cystic Acne and it can actually be very serious and sometimes leave scars. 
I had read about a treatment a long time ago and it had slipped my mind, but through the wonderful world of Pinterest, it was brought to my attention again, so I thought I would give it a try.

It works wonderful. It's simple and it cost almost nothing to use.
The miracle is this...


Yep, Aspirin. 
It's so easy you'll freak.
Take a spoon out of your silverware drawer.  Take half an aspirin and put it in the spoon with  2-3 drops of water and let it set until the aspirin dissolves and the mixture is pasty.  Don't use too much water or it's too runny.  Then smear it on the problem area.  I do this before bed and wear it all night. 
In the morning, the swelling is down, the redness is usually gone, and almost no pain at all.  It's a miracle.  Sometimes I have to do this for a couple nights in a row, but it takes care of the problem pretty darn quick. 

The reason it works so well is because the main ingredient in Aspirin is salicylic acid, which if you've ever read the ingredients in any over the counter acne treatment, you know exactly what it is.  Aspirin is also a great anti-inflammatory, just ask anyone with arthritis. 

This works wonders.  I've done it, I love it, just don't do what I did and have to use Excedrin because you were out of regular old Aspirin. Excedrin are green. My hubby looked at me like I'd lost my mind as I crawled into bed with a big green dot on my face.  But it still worked and you can find generic aspirin pretty darn cheap.   .....I just thought you should know