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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How to Make a Marbleized Crayon Egg (Tutorial)

Even though I've been flying under the radar lately, that doesn't mean I haven't been procrastinating by doing things like peeling paper off of crayons in order to make melted crayon eggs. I can't wait to put these in the kids' Easter baskets.

Making them was really inexpensive. I didn't have to go out and buy egg molds. In a perfect world, I wouldn't have had to go out and buy crayons either. But my kids don't draw enough to have a ton of half-used crayons without wrappers. The part of this project that took the longest was probably unwrapping all the crayons. But it was worth it, because I'm kind of obsessed with how cute these crayon eggs are.

To make them, first you have to hollow out some eggs. Save the yolks and whites. Make an omelet or two.

To hollow out eggs, poke a hole in one end with a nail. You can hammer it in, holding the egg in your hand, or just push really hard. (After the first two, you won't break anymore, I promise.) Poke a bigger hole in the other end with the nail, peeling away shell until you have a hole about 1/2 an inch in diameter. I poked the small hole in the top of the egg and the large hole in the bottom. It doesn't really matter how big the big hole gets. You're going to stuff your crayons in here anyway. Holding the egg over a bowl, blow through the small hole. The insides will end up in the bowl, and you'll end up with a delicate eggshell. Put that in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria.

After the eggs are hollowed out, boiled and dried, tape up the small hole with masking tape. Make sure to seal it really well or the wax will leak out. Coat the inside of the egg with petroleum jelly by sticking your finger in the big hole and rubbing it around the inside. (Sorry, there's just no pretty way to say that).
Next, peel your crayons. If you're smart, you've saved all of the crayon bits your kids leave in the bottom of your crayon bucket, and you won't have to spend time (and fingernails) doing this. Since I bought new crayons at the dollar store, I steamed them over the boiling egg water to make the paper easier to take off.
Next, seat your eggs in a tin foil nest. I did this in some ramekins, but you can use a muffin tin if you're doing a lot at once. Take a wad of foil, place the egg in the center, and bunch the foil around the egg, then nestle it into the container in which you'll bake it. (Make sure the container is oven safe).

Cut up or break your crayons and drop them into the hole in the egg until they reach the top. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until the wax is completely melted. See the melted wax in there? You'll have to top it off with some more crayons. This time, put it in the oven for only 4-5 minutes. It will melt faster. Do this until the wax reaches the top of the egg, then leave the eggs out for 24 hours to cool and harden completely. I used about 6 crayons per egg, I think.
Now for the unveiling! After 24 hours, peel away the egg shell.
Drool and fawn over your beautiful marbleized eggs before giving them to your kids and letting them mess up all of your hard work.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Doing it on Purpose

So 2012 has begun pretty tumultuously. I've been absent for a while. From my blog, sometimes from motherhood, sometimes from my partnership with Big T, and sometimes from my friendships.

I've been dealing with a death (not mine), a divorce (not mine), a wedding (mine--Yay!), a car accident (mine), a new business property (mine), and a possible home move (mine). It's a lot, and I haven't had the time or the mental and emotional capacity to sit down in front of the computer and share it with you.

But I also have made some wonderful connections through this blog, and I don't want to lose them. I appreciate all of my followers, and I feel very disconnected without having been following you guys in the past few months.

Part of the reason I haven't blogged recently is also because I had a huge realization this year: I'm not a blogger.

Let me explain. I love blogging, I love writing, and I love connecting. Most of all, I love sharing. I like to talk. Once you get me talking, I don't really stop. So that's what was happening with this blog, and I was talking about motherhood, talking about breastfeeding, talking about the activities I would love to do with my kids, talking about organizing my life, and talking about my business. But I wasn't actually doing anything. 

I hit a major turning point in February, when I realized I was going to have trouble paying my bills that month. And that's when I realized: I'm supposed to be running a business here. Tmuffin is my passion, but I was turning into a hobby. It had been just about one year since I had quit my full-time office job to try out my WAHM opportunities, and my company hadn't grown. I've been doing really well with my online freelancing and crowdsourcing work, but I haven't been focusing on my true passion: giving moms all the stuff I felt wasn't available when I was looking for it.

So I'm repurposing this blog. I'm repurposing Tmuffin. You could also say I'm repurposing motherhood.

There is some good stuff coming. (I know I've been promising that. Just so you know, when I promise a deadline, it usually takes 3 times as long as I originally planned.) So please stay tuned. I haven't forgotten about all of you. I'm working to make Tmuffin a really useful resource for all of you, not just a fun click through on your way to bigger and better things. In fact, Tmuffin is on its way to bigger and better things. If you sign up for the Tmuffin newsletter, you won't miss the big stuff when it happens. And it's happening.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's Organized!

A very short month ago, I began organizing my office for the 29 Day Organizational Challenge at

Twenty-nine days later, I have one room in my house that doesn't look like a tornado tore through it. I never thought I'd say that about any room in my house. Laura at asked that we answer a few questions, so I'll tackle those first before unveiling the before and after pics.

1. What space did you decide to organize and why?
My office/guest room/Little M's room. Yes, it is all one room. I don't actually work in my office, but it's where I keep all of my files. The room was always overrun with bills, office supplies, paper, clothes, toys, and electronics. When I had guests, I would try to shove everything into one pile to make room for them. It was embarrassing. Little M was starting to get his hands on anything and everything that was lying around. I could never find what I was looking for. And because I'm focusing on organizing my business this spring, I needed to organize the physical space first.

2.  What steps did you take to ensure you completed the space within the 29 day timeline?
I wrote out a list of tasks that needed to be accomplished. After I wrote the list, I was completely overwhelmed. I didn't think I could do it all in 29 days. But I tried to do something small in the room every day. It was great to be able to cross things off the list. There were some things I didn't get to, but those were mostly decorative. It's amazing how much cuter a room looks just by being more organized. It's not about buying expensive organizational gear or artwork for the walls. Just clean up!

3.  What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and how did you overcome it?
Not getting sucked into organizing every space in my house. (See question 4).

4. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?
I didn't have much junk in this room. It was mostly stuff that needed to be filed, computer paper, and stuff I use all the time. Don't get me wrong--I was able to purge quite a few things. One of my first steps was getting rid of random stuff filling random baskets. I had an adorable purse that I never used sitting in a basket. I loved the purse, but I wasn't going to use it. One of the first days of the challenge, I took that along with a change purse and some other random items to a friend's house and gave it away. The other items taking up space in the room ended up in other rooms in the house. (My house is a huge work in progress, so it was nice to be able to make small, quick changes in other rooms).

My favorite part of purging, though, was going through all of my computer wires and CDs. I had wires for phones and electronics that I hadn't owned in years, and I think I had kept every CD-ROM I had ever owned. Now I have the wires I do need neatly organized in a storage box in the closet, and the CDs are in the living room next to the DVDs, so when the kids try to fight me to play with a shiny DVD, I just hand them one of the old ones and avoid a tantrum.

5.  Tell me one of your proudest moments during this challenge?
My mind is really what needed to get organized during this challenge. I think organizing my office was symbolically organizing my brain. One of my biggest challenges in life is keeping a calendar. I often have a few different calendars going at one time, and I'll frantically thumb through all of them to find appointments and playdates I set up.

Since I've been working on organizing my business, however, I needed to look at the big picture. I've been saying for a long time that I need a huge wall calendar so I can see every month at once and plan out goals for the entire year. I tossed around the idea of getting a large calendar at the office supply store or building a giant bulletin board. I finally ended up with a really simple solution.

I took my kids' brown craft paper and unrolled it onto the wall. Using a word processor, I typed up and printed out the names of the month in a cute red font and glued them along the top of the paper. I drew 30 lines under each month. Now I have an easy way to see my entire year at once. I can plan out my goals and lay out specific tasks necessary to reach those goals. After I got that up, it was a huge sigh of relief. All of a sudden, I didn't have to hold all of the information in my brain anymore. It was free, simple, and it's my favorite part of the room now.

6.  Explain any organizing “tools” you used to help you create additional space and to establish some limits and boundaries?
Since the room is very multifunctional, I wanted to establish decorative spaces and office spaces. The armoire has some great hidden areas where I could stash ugly office supplies like my giant hole punch and computer speakers. The drawers had been stashed with computer wires I didn't use, and the space was mostly empty since it was so hard to open the drawer that was missing the knob. Once I organized my office supplies in the drawers, the armoire was empty. I didn't know what to put in it. Then I realized that it's nice to have one space in the room that's purely decorative. So I decorated it. It's nice to not have to have a productive space in every corner of my house.

At one point in my life, I was convinced that I could organize all of the inspirational pictures I tear out of magazines and other information I keep in paper form in three-ring binders. The problem with binders is that I never take the time to punch holes in the papers and actually file them away. I needed a better system. Making file boxes out of cereal boxes was so easy, so free, and made it simple to drop in all of the loose papers that inspire me. They are easy to access and easy to clean out periodically.

The biggest challenge was making the furniture work in the room. The file cabinet is a strange size, the glider is necessary in the room for rocking Little M to sleep, and there is a pack n' play at the end of the bed. I love the armoire, but I never saw it because my back was to it as I entered the room. It was also blocking the space instead of inviting you in. And the chair just didn't make sense next to the bed. Once I rearranged the furniture, I was so excited. Now, it's easy to file paperwork because the cabinet is right by the door, and the glider seems to have its own space.

7.  What is ONE piece of advice you’d give to someone else to encourage them on their organizational journey?
It is possible; just start small.

I had always gotten overwhelmed with the idea of organizing anything. I can't even get a handle on my laundry. Especially with two kids running around. But I had a whole month in front of me, and I only had one room to tackle. I didn't even consider doing the closet. Just the room. And I did it. (Although I did have to forget about some of my more lofty goals, like spray painting the file cabinet). I put one foot in front of the other, took one step at a time, and I did it. The room got worse before it got better (just see the photos from the 20-day update), but then all of a sudden it was done. I love going in there now. I wish it was the room I hung out in all the time. Now I guess I'm going to have to do this to all of my rooms. In fact, I'm going to tackle one small part of each room every month. Next is the kids' craft cabinet. Focusing on one small thing each month has also worked its way into my business plan, and I feel so much more focused overall now.

And voila. The before-and-after photos:

Compare the unmade bed, too-small, crooked pictures on the wall,and random chair next to the bed to the more pulled-together look in the second picture.

Every inch of space in the first picture is overflowing with papers because they had no home. Now they have a home. And it's not in the armoire. Look underneath the armoire: I covered a box of computer paper with kraft paper and burlap to hide messy-looking boxes of papers, folders, and page protectors.

Words can't even express the difference. The space seems so much bigger now! I hung a shutter (purchased for $8 from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store) to organize paperwork that isn't filed yet or can't be filed for some reason. The basket on the file cabinet will catch any overflow.

Less is so much more. I love my burlap-covered file boxes, and I put uniform computer paper in the green storage bin at the bottom so it looks more peaceful. I left an empty shelf for guests.

Even Little M seems to like it better.

And a few extras:
This little setup on top of the armoire hides the modem and router and gave me a place to put my greeting card organizer and pretty turquoise candle.

The piece de resistance: My free, giant wall calendar.

Cereal boxes covered in burlap. The chalkboard labels are made from old business cards painted with chalkboard paint and hot glued onto the boxes.

Not every place has to be functional. This room is now decorative too.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Here I Am!

Have you been wondering where I've been?

Me too, kind of.

1. I've been exhausted and sleep deprived because Baby T is now getting up about 5 times a night--way more than Little M.
2. I've been grieving the loss of my aunt a few weeks ago.
3. I've been trying to get used to my new routine. I pulled Baby T out of daycare, and he has been going to a preschool 2 days a week. That means I've been getting to spend a lot more time with him, which some days is sweet and precious and other days leaves me drooling on the couch at 8:30 p.m.
4. I've been organizing my office. In a perfect world, I would have organized it in a couple of days. In the real world, I'm going to be down to the wire the next two days.
5. I've been doing a lot of freelance writing. Last month, I pretty much freaked out about finances, and I lost all my creative energy. I can't function creatively if I feel like I'm not surviving in the material world.
6. I've been working on my business. When I had Little M and quit my job as a customer service manager, I wrote a post about how one of my favorite parts of working on Tmuffin has been all the connections I've made. I never expected that. And I've loved all of the blogging I've done and connections I've made throughout the past few years, and I had all this momentum going.

But then I realized that I wasn't necessarily doing what I truly, truly long to do. I started Tmuffin to create products for moms and their babies, and I've spent the last year writing, organizing, and planning. And parenting. But I have gotten sucked in to a lot of different places I didn't expect, and I've lost my voice a little bit. So I'm on a quest to start speaking in my own voice again.

I'm taking a break from the blog. I'll be here, but I'll be in and out. I'll be checking in on my bloggy friends, but I can't obsess as much as I was.

Stay tuned, though. I'm coming back. Full force. Focused. True. Inspired. And hopefully with a few more hours of sleep under my belt.

Friday, February 17, 2012

29 Day Organizational Challenge: 20 Day Check-In

Really? Another week has gone by? Although I haven't gotten much done this week (granted, I did have to fly with a 13-month old, so I was gone--and stressed--for most of the week), I did make one major change. I moved around the furniture. It made such a difference that Baby T walked in and said, "Wow! Who did this?"

I did, honey. All by myself.

So I went from this:

To this:

And then I realized that I actually was going to have to show people this photo, so I cleaned up a little:

I'll admit it. I'm a procrastinator. I start strong, then slack off, then bust a move when the pressure is on and a deadline is approaching. It's also why I snapped the photos at 6 PM with two rugrats ducking around the room. Actually, it's hard to do much of anything at any time of day with those two rugrats around, but I'm managing.

Moving the furniture around was huge. The armoire is now more of a focal point, the chair appears somewhat grounded, and the filing cabinet is easy to access. See?

The room just appears more open.

Now I have more of a blank slate. The armoire is practically empty.

The bookshelf is not.

I have made the bed, pulled out the pillows that I once made for it, replaced the picture above the bed, and spray painted the wicker basket on top of the bookshelf that now holds empty hanging folders and manila folders.

I still have to cover my filing boxes with burlap, do something cute with my file cabinet, and organize the armoire shelves. I have an amazing idea for a calendar on the large wall over the chair and file cabinet. I heard Walmart promotional codes can help me get some great storage containers to better organize my room.

I have discarded my fantasy of creating a cute pillow for the chair, adding shelves on the small wall between the closet and the window, and getting a bigger garbage can. But I'm still living the fantasy that this room is going to be incredibly useful and organized incredibly soon.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this post are paid advertisements. But I wouldn't put them here if I didn't think you could use them!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thank You for Your Opinion

Welcome to the February 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Respectful Interactions With Other Parents
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have focused on how we can communicate with other parents compassionately.

I’ve always felt that becoming a mom makes you feel like you’re part of a club. There is this sorority of women who know the unique challenges you face, who nod emphatically when you talk about the last time you showered, the never-ending dish Everest on your kitchen counter, and the constant poop smell in your bathroom. Maybe at the beginning, you make excuses for it, but by the time a few months have gone by, even you don’t think it’s strange that you’re wearing you pajamas in Target.

In a way, becoming a mom makes you less judgmental. Whereas you used to scowl at the moms in the grocery store as they dragged along their toddlers who were sticky with that morning’s pancake breakfast, wearing swimsuit bottoms and a winter jacket, now you understand. Whereas you used to make a point of looking away when you saw a child throwing a tantrum in the shopping cart, now you give those kids’ moms a knowing half-smile.

I’m now the mom who has the kid with green boogers constantly running from his nose, hair perpetually un-brushed, who is dressed in either unmatched pajamas or the same color from head to toe. I let him run around explore the grocery store and yell express himself in parking lots. I let my kids pull all the books off the bookshelf if that’s what they want to do. I let Baby T paint his toys instead of paper because it keeps him busy for minutes at a time. I probably do all the things I said I would never do.

So why is there still a conflict among mamas when it comes to breastfeeding, discipline, and even medical issues like vaccinations and circumcision? When Baby T runs into another mom at the grocery store, her kids buckled tightly into the shopping cart, and she gives me a dirty look, why do I feel like she’s judging me? I can practically hear the teenage me saying, “Can’t you keep control of your kids?”

Here’s the thing though: my toddler stops when he reaches the edge of the street. He holds my hand in parking lots. He knows that electrical outlets can be dangerous. He understands that he shouldn’t hurt, push, or kick other people, and he seems genuinely sorry when he does hurt someone. I’m confident that I’m raising compassionate, caring, curious kids.

Honestly, I get more sweet smiles from old ladies and other moms than dirty looks. I don’t often feel judged. And when I do have to respond to a judgmental comment, I use a phrase a wise friend suggested. I just smile and say, “Thank you for your opinion.”

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon February 14 with all the carnival links.)
  • How to Respond Respectfully to Unwanted Parenting Advice and Judgment — At Natural Parents Network, Amy (of Peace 4 Parents) offers some ways to deal with parenting advice and criticism, whether it's from your mom or the grocery store clerk.
  • Judgement is Natural - Just Don't Condemn — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shared her views on why judgment is unavoidable and why the bigger issue is condemnation.
  • Four Ways To Share Your Parenting Philosophy Gently — Valerie at Momma in Progress shares tips for communicating with fellow parents in a positive, peaceful manner.
  • When Other Parents Disagree With You — Being an attachment parent is hard enough, but when you are Lily, aka Witch Mom, someone who does not enforce gender roles on her kid, who devalues capitalism and materialism, and instead prefers homeschooling and homesteading — you are bound to disagree with someone, somewhere!
  • Mama Bashing — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on the hurt caused on the blogosphere by mama bashing and pleads for a more mindful way of dealing with differences.
  • Accentuate the Positive — Joella at Fine and Fair shares how she manages interactions with the parents she encounters in her work as a Parent Coach and Substance Abuse Counselor by building trusting relationships and affirming strengths.
  • The politics of mothers – keys to respectful interactions with other parents — Tara from MUMmedia offers great tips for handling the inevitable conflict of ideas and personalities in parenting/mother's groups, etc.
  • Trying to build our village — Sheila at A Gift Universe tells how she went from knowing no other moms in her new town to building a real community of mothers.
  • Internet Etiquette in the Mommy Wars — Shannon at The Artful Mama discusses how she handles heated topics in the "Mommy-space" online.
  • Parenting with Convictions — Sarah at Parenting God's Children encourages love and support for fellow parents and their convictions.
  • How To Be Respectful Despite Disagreeing On Parenting Styles... — Jenny at I'm a Full-Time Mummy shares her two cents' worth on how to have respectful interactions with other parents despite disagreeing on parenting styles.
  • Public RelationsMomma Jorje touches on keeping the peace when discussing parenting styles.
  • Navigating Parenting Politics — Since choosing an alternative parenting style means rejecting the mainstream, Miriam at The Other Baby Book shares a few simple tips that can help avoid hurt feelings.
  • Hiding in my grace cave — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants to forget that not all parents are as respectful and tolerant as the people with whom she now surrounds herself.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting - Respectful Interactions with Other Parents — Wolfmother at Fabulous Mama Chronicles explores how her attitude has changed regarding sharing information and opinions with others and how she now chooses to keep the peace during social outings.
  • Empathy and respect — Helen at zen mummy tries to find her zen in the midst of the Mummy Wars.
  • Not Holier Than Thou — Amyables at Toddler in Tow muses about how she's learned to love all parents, despite differences, disagreements, and awkward conversations.
  • Nonviolent Communication and Unconditional Love — Wendylori at High Needs Attachment reflects on the choice to not take offense as the key to honest and open communication.
  • Respectful Parenting As a Way of Life — Sylvia at MaMammalia writes about using her parenting philosophy as a guide to dealing with other parents who make very different choices from her.
  • Homeschooling: Why Not? — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how parents can often make homeschooling work for their family even if, at first glance, it may seem daunting.
  • If You Can’t Say Something Nice… — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her philosophy for online and offline interactions … a philosophy based primarily on a children’s movie.
  • Different Rules for Different Families — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how differences between families affect our children, and how that can be a good thing.
  • Respectful Interaction With Other Parents — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares the ways she surrounds herself with a like-minded support network, so that she can gently advocate in her dealings with those whose opinions on parenting differ vastly from her own.
  • Parenting as a mirror — Rather than discrediting others' parenting styles, Kate Wicker discusses why she tries to focus on doing right rather than being right — and why she’s also not afraid to show others that she’s a heartfelt but imperfect mama just trying to be the best mom for her family.
  • The One Thing {Most} Parents Have In Common: They Try Their Best — Christine at African Babies Don't Cry finds interacting with other parents easier once she accepts that they are all just trying their best, just like her.
  • Finding your mama-groove: 5 ways to eliminate judge/be judged metalityMudpieMama reveals 5 ways of thinking that have helped her find her mama-groove and better navigate tricky parenting discussions.
  • Speaking Up For Those Who Can't — We've all had those moments when someone said something hurtful or insensitive, or downright rude that just shocks you to your core, and you're stunned into silence. Afterwards, you go home and think "Gosh, I wish I said…" This post by Arpita at Up Down, And Natural is for all the breastfeeding mamas who have thought "Gosh, I wish I said…"
  • Thank you for your opinion — Gaby at Tmuffin shares her go-to comment when she feels like others are judging her parenting style.
  • Mending — A playground conversation about jeans veers off course until a little mending by Kenna at Million Tiny Things is needed.
  • The Thing You Don't Know — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy talks about what she believes is one of the most important things you can consider when it comes to compassionate communication with other parents.
  • 3 Tips for Interacting with Other Parents Respectfully When You Disagree with Them — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares what she has learned about respectful interactions on her parenting journey.
  • Peacefully Keeping My Cool: Quotes from Ana — How do you keep your cool? Ana from Pandamoly shares some of her favorite retorts and conversation starters when her Parenting Ethos comes into question.
  • Kind Matters — Carrie at Love Notes Mama discusses how she strives to be the type of person she'd want to meet.
  • Doing it my way but respecting your highway. — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle is determined to walk with her family on the road less travelled whether you like it or not!
  • Saying "I'm Right and You're Wrong" Seldom Does Much To Improve Your Cause... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment writes about how living by example motivates her actions and interactions with others.
  • Have another kid and you won't care — Cassie of There's a Pickle in My Life, after having her second child, knows exactly how to respond to opposing advice.
  • Ten Tips to Communicate Respectfully, Even When You Disagree — What if disagreements with our partners, our children or even complete strangers ultimately led to more harmony and deeper connections? They can! Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares ten tips to strengthen our relationships in the midst of conflict.
  • A Little Light Conversation — Zoie at TouchstoneZ explains why respect needs to be given to every parent unconditionally.
  • Why I used to hide the formula box — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen finally talks about how judgement between parents changed her views on how she handles differences in parenting.
  • Assumptions — Nada at minimomist discusses how not everyone is able to nurse, physically, mentally, or emotionally.
  • Shushing Your Inner Judgey McJudgerson — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction knows that judging others is easy to do, but recognizing that we all parent from different perspectives takes work.
  • Respectfully Interacting with Others Online — Lani at Boobie Time Blog discusses the importance of remaining respectful behind the disguise of the internet.
  • Presumption of Good Will — Why — and how — Crunchy Con Mommy is going to try to assume the best of people she disagrees with on important issues.
  • Being Gracious with Parenting Advice — Tips for giving and receiving parenting advice with grace from Lisa at My World Edenwild.
  • Explain, Smile, Escape — Don't know what to do when you're confronted by another parent who disagrees with you? Amy at Anktangle shares a story from her life along with a helpful method for navigating these types of tricky situations (complete with a handy flow chart!).
  • Balancing Cultures and ChoicesDulce de leche discusses the challenges of walking the tightrope between generations while balancing cultural and family ties.
  • Linky - Parenting Peacefully with Social MediaHannabert's Mom discusses parenting in a social media world.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Getting Thrown Off

I've been succeeding in spending little money at the grocery store and pulling from my freezer and pantry stockpile lately. Sometimes, Big T is less than willing to eat the healthy food I make, so I try to make these recipes when he's working late. He's willing to snack on whatever if he doesn't want to try what I've made. But this week, I got sick. That meant I didn't want to do much of anything, much less cook. I lied on the floor most of the day with Little M crawling all over me. This is what I did the rest of the week:

The Plan:
Monday: Salmon burgers (from freezer) over salad
Tuesday: Sweet potato chili (from freezer) over rice
Wednesday: Kale soup
Thursday: Pepperoni pizza
Saturday: Chicken, collards, rice

The Reality:
Monday: Salmon burgers (from freezer) over salad
Tuesday: sick
Wednesday: Creamy kale soup
Thursday: Leftover soft tacos from last week
Saturday: America's Test Kitchen Chicago deep-dish pizza

The Method:
It's nice to have a meal plan and food in the freezer when you get sick and have to change things up. There was no way I was cooking on Tuesday, and Big T was able to find stuff to eat nonetheless. My pantry and fridge are starting to look emptier, which is great, because I'm splitting a quarter of a cow with my friends this week. That means beef in the freezer for who knows how long!

The creamy kale soup recipe from this week was amazing, and the salmon burgers tasted like crab cakes. A definite keeper for freezer recipes. And the deep-dish pizza? Delicious. It was more work than I would have preferred, and I had some major heartburn in the morning, but it was kind of worth it. (There is half a stick of butter in the dough. Nuff said.)

For more meal planning obsessiveness inspiration, check out!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

SUNDAY SURF: Short and Sweet

Sunday Surf with Authentic Parenting and Hobo MamaI'm joining Authentic Parenting and Hobo Mama for Sunday Surf. Share your best reading of the week, and link up your post at either blog!
For more great reading, visit Hobo Mama or Authentic Parenting for the latest Sunday Surf and linky.
Happy Surfing!

Another week went by with me not doing much reading. But what I did read blew me away. This one's short, but sweet:

160 Uses for Coconut Oil - This self-explanatory post at My Baby's Green blew me away. I already use coconut oil for a lot: moisturizer, bath scrub, to wash my face, as a popcorn topping, for baking, deodorant, and cooking, but that's only 7 things! Look at the 153 other things you can use it for!

The Vitamin D Controversy - Coming from a place where I'm hesitant to supplement (mainly because it's expensive and I eat well), this article was really interesting. My kids and I get a lot of vitamin D from being outside, but of course, we don't tend to go out when the temperature is below 40 like it was today, and when we do, we're pretty covered up. This article gives some good information about research into the need for vitamin D supplementation.

What happens in your body when you eat ramen and gatorade - A few of my friends were sharing this gem on facebook, and given Big T's affinity for ramen noodles, I decided to click on it. Thoroughly grossed out. If you eat a lot of processed foods, or if you're on the verge of cutting them out completely in favor of whole foods, this will send you packing in the right direction.

Last-Minute Valentines (Free Printables)

If you were planning on putting together an adorable craft with your kids for Valentine's Day but just realized it's in 2 days, don't worry. I've got you covered. These free printables require minimal crafting, but they look really crafty and cute. A good resource for cheap supplies can be used with Office Depot coupons.

Just print, cut, and paste!

Click on the image below for a printable PDF.

Want more free printable valentines? Sign up for the newsletter in the side column to the right. Anyone who subscribes by the end of the day on February 14, 2012, will be emailed four more free printables to share with their favorite valentines.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Check out more craftiness at:
I Heart Nap TimeUndertheTableandDreaming

Disclosure: Some of the links on this post are paid advertisements. But I wouldn't put them here if I didn't think you could use them!

Friday, February 10, 2012

29 Day Organizing Challenge: Day 10 Update

I can't believe it's already time for the ten-day update. This is going by faster than I thought. I had originally planned to do a little something every day, but it hasn't quite turned out that way.

On February 1, I went through a mail organizer that was filled to the brim with random paperwork.

Uh...that's about it.

It's not that I wasn't planning to do other things, but furniture needed to be moved, curtains had to be bought, things needed to be spray painted. I felt like I couldn't start until I had some nice weather so I could spray paint. I also needed a big chunk of time during which I could clear out the furniture so I could move it around. That wasn't happening.

I have gotten some little things accomplished.

On February 3, my friends came over and gave me some great ideas. That entailed 3 adults and 3 kids climbing all over each other in the room. That was interesting.

Remember that mail organizer I organized? On February 4, I transformed it from this:

to this:

I also moved it to the entrance and stashed it with envelopes, stamps and return address labels (all in the same place. That was a tip from my genius friend). It also holds a notepad with pen for grocery lists, and business cards I collect.

I made 2 burlap-covered cereal boxes to hold some of my paperwork. I'll add a tutorial for these soon. They were free, and I love the way they turned out! I have to make more to fill up the whole shelf.

While my friends, the kids and I were hanging out in the room last Friday, the blankets came off the windows. And then I saw: I actually do have curtains in the room! I had completely forgotten. I still need something to block the light. On Saturday, I bought some light-blocking curtain liners at Wal-mart, but they were too small. Great idea, but I need something that fits. I don't want to have to make new curtains, and I don't want to have to install the kind of shades that roll down. I'm looking for easy. And cheap. But that means I'm still looking.

Slowly but surely, I'm tackling the room. I pulled all my stationery out of the armoire and added most of the cards to the $5 box of multi-use cards I bought at Office Max (which has the cards organized by type). I pulled out some computer paper and put it where I really use it--next to my printer in the living room.

See that set of orange drawers on the middle shelf?
It now holds papers here:
Now I don't have to run across the house every time I need to use the printer! (Why are there q-tips on there, you ask? Well, they are there to erase the items I tackle on my dry-erase to-do list, which is hanging on the wall next to that buffet.) Ignore the situation on top of the printer:
Baby steps, right? See? There are boxes to organize. They just aren't being used yet.

I took all the small office supplies like paper clips and index cards out of range of visibility and organized them in the armoire drawer. I used the empty boxes left over from organizing the note cards to organize the little stuff:

This is what the inside of the armoire looks like now:
Emptier, but messier. Working on it.

This is what the file cabinet looked like last week:

This is what it looks like now:
Ok, it looks the same. But I assure you that I filed away a lot of paperwork!

This is what the bookshelf looked like last week:

This is what it looks like now:
And this is what it looks like when I back away a little bit:

Just so you know, after I took these pictures, I threw away that diaper, took out the trash, and put away those file folders and notepads you see on the right side of the bottom shelf.

This is what is still on my list to do:
  • Do something with the garbage can (I don't think it needs to be bigger; it just needs to be less of an eyesore).*
  • Organize armoire drawers*
  • Get longer screw for armoire knob
  • Cover cereal boxes with burlap for work paperwork*
  • File/organize old documents (there is an empty beer case filled with old paperwork under the armoire).
  • Rearrange room
  • Spray paint the armoire
  • Fix wire situation behind armoire
  • Do something about the curtain situation*
  • Fix the artwork in the room.**
  • Put shelves on wall for photos**
  • Cover pillow on glider**
  • Organize armoire shelves*
What?! That list is exactly the same as last week! I swear I've been working diligently. I put one star next to the stuff I've been working on, and two stars next to the stuff that would be nice but is optional. We're rearranging the room this weekend, and once that's done, I feel like everything will fall into place.

So stay tuned. I promise, this space is going to be awesome when I'm done. {starts to sweat} At least I still have 19 days to go.

Does anyone else feel like they have been working diligently but don't have much to show for it?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Will Breastfeeding Make Me Hungry?

This post was written as part of the weekly Breastfeeding Blog Hop hosted by Slacker Mom and cohosted by The Gnome’s Mom and Happiness Redefined. Visit the links below and link up your own story or leave a comment!

Last week's theme was sex and breastfeeding. I didn't write a post because I'm so far removed from that part of my life that it's too much effort to have sex, much less write about it. But there were a lot of great, honest posts about breastfeeding and intimacy. Today's topic is snacks for breastfeeding

This subject also made me reluctant to post, because I'm not the norm when it comes to snacking and breastfeeding. Breastfeeding women often  hear that they burn about 500 more calories a day, which makes them hungrier and requires them to eat more. Although that sounds like a great deal, that never happened to me. I have the slowest metabolism on earth, and breastfeeding does not help me burn calories; nor does it help me lose weight. That means that I also am no hungrier than normal when I breastfeed. I'm that mom who can diet without it affecting her supply. It doesn't mean that I'm doing it; it just means that I can.

But most moms do feel hungrier and do need additional calories to maintain their supply. But it can be hard to grab a snack while you're nursing. You quickly learn to hold your baby to the breast with one hand, legs dangling, or rest your baby on the counter, still latched, while you spoon some food into your mouth. But the easiest snacks are those you can eat one-handed.

My top 5 breastfeeding snacks are:

1. Bananas
2. Smoothies
3. Leftovers--eaten cold out of the storage container
4. Cheese and turkey from the deli drawer, just rolled up and chomped on
5. Kale chips--these take some cooking and planning, but once there is a bowl on the counter, I can finish it off in a day.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


A couple of weekends ago, we did some crosswalk advocacy for Thank You For Seeing Me, an organization that helps spread the word about pedestrian and bicyclist awareness. Then, we played at the playground, and we went to a birthday party that night. Here are the pictures to prove it.

At the Playground:

Boy in a bubble

Happy kid and some beautiful weather.

Ducking under the slide.

Cute big boy.

 At the Party:
Cupcakes are delicious.

Fireman T was in heaven.

Brothers cracking up at each other.

A Clockwork Orange? The Fly?

Check out other wonderful Wordless Wednesday posts and link up at:
I Thought I Knew Mama: A window into the adventures of stay at home mamahood, natural parenting, & green and healthy livingHobo Mama: A Natural Parenting BlogThe Paper MamaStacy uncorkedVisit Natural Parents Network
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