Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Kitchen Lessons I Have Learned From Great Grandma; part 1


Celebrating 90 years.

I am one of those fortunate people who had the opportunity to know my great-grandparents. Our family would take the two hour drive to Lake Orion every Sunday for a visit. They also took us kids (usually separately) for a whole week during the summer.

Great Grandma was a wise woman. Additionally, like most people from her generation; she knew her way around the kitchen. For the next 4 weeks I plan to post lessons I have learned from that simple and inviting kitchen in the city.

Here goes, the first lesson:

Shortly after I learned to read, I became more interested in helping in the kitchen. Mom, dad, and grandparents all received my “help”. One summer while staying my week with Grandma and Grandpa, Grandma had decided it was time I learn how to make pancakes.

We were having breakfast on the picnic table. The neighbors and their children were invited. So you can imagine the honor I felt receiving the opportunity to make most important part of breakfast, the pancakes.

Grandma handed me the 3x5 index card, covered with her beautiful scrawl. I immediately started getting out ingredients, bowls, and utensils. I knew what I was doing, I have helped Grandma, and mom and dad (who both learned how to make pancakes from this very woman, in this very kitchen).

I measured and poured. I stirred and mixed. I cooked and flipped. All the while Grandma looked over my shoulder with a proud smile on her face, letting me do my thing.

We all sat down at the picnic table in the backyard. There were at least 8 of us. Everyone dove in, putting a pancake on their plate. Smoothing butter (the real stuff, no Can’t Believe in this house), drizzling with syrup. I did the same, cut off a piece, and took a bite.

YUCK! This was my very loud internal thought. I looked around at everyone else, waiting for their horrified reactions.

No reactions were to be seen or heard. In fact, I was told “good breakfast.” I did observe additional syrup going on all the pancakes though….

After breakfast, while cleaning up I asked Grandma why the pancakes tasted so bad. I did use her recipe, and they tasted nothing like the pancakes I was used to.

Grandma let out a little chuckle. “You didn’t read the recipe.” she went on to explain that I put salt in for sugar, and vice versa.

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“If I stopped you, the same mistake will be made in the future. Now, you will always read the recipe thoroughly.”

“Why did everyone still eat them, and even say they were good?”

Although there were many kitchen lessons learned during this experience, here’s the most important lesson I took from that day:

“They were gobbling up the love you put into those pancakes, not the salty flapjacks. Besides, any meal you don’t have to cook yourself is a good meal.” Grandma is very intelligent…and matter-of-fact.

What is your earliest memory in the kitchen? Any life lessons learned?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Twin Tip Tuesday: The Diaper Bag

Today’s tip is short and sweet. We are talking about the diaper bag.

While registering for our baby shower I sent hubby to the diaper bag aisle. Personally, I didn’t have a preference as to what the bag looked like, I just wanted it to be big enough to carry enough stuff for two babies. It was important that hubby would be comfortable carrying our new luggage (so it had to be manly).Winking smile

We received the bag hubby picked out at our baby shower.

We used it….. for about a month.

Twin Tip: Do not buy a diaper bag.

After about a month of trying to carry two babies in their car seats, and a diaper bag over one shoulder, we gave up. We ditched the traditional diaper bag and switched to a backpack.

We were fortunate enough to receive a hand-me-down military backpack.  We love it. It is so easy to throw on the bag, pick up the two littles, and head out the door. Disclaimer: It has not been easy to get out the door since we added twins to our family, but it has been easier since we switched bags.

That’s it, short and sweet.

Have you tried a backpack, or are you faithful to your diaper bag?

Monday, February 25, 2013

T-Shirt Refashion for Toddlers

Hubby has earned/collected a ton of t-shirts in his lifetime. He plays softball, bowls, and used to shoot darts. Every team needs a t-shirt right? What about if they win the championship? You guessed it, another t-shirt. (Hey, I guess it’s better than a trophy, how on earth would I upcycle all the trophies? Smile)
My step-son is also involved in sports, so more t-shirts. We have hand-me-downs from my baseball/football/basketball playing nephew. Needless to say, we have a lot of t-shirts.
One of my 30 by 30 goals is to craft through my stash. Somehow these t-shirts ended up in my stash.
The twins need t-shirts. Specifically long-sleeved shirts. (Have you ever tried to buy long-sleeved shirts in February?)
Last week Melissa from Melly Sews posted a how to sew a t-shirt tutorial (and pattern). She made it look achievable, so I decided to tackle our t-shirt pile. Here’s the outcome:
Upcyle For The Toddler
The gray shirt was the first one I tackled. The project was a quick one, about half an hour. I used an XL men’s gray t-shirt for the body. The neck and decal came from a men’s large softball t-shirt.
T-Shirt Refashion for the Toddler
This one was my problem tee. I was working at night, and that seems to be when I make stupid mistakes (like forgetting to not cut the fold, that’s why we have the layered sleeves). The quality is lacking compared to the gray shirt.
Melissa’s tutorial and pattern are wonderful! The hubby was so impressed, he mentioned going through his closet so I have more t-shirts. Thanks for supporting my stash busting hubby. Here’s a few tips:
  • Use the biggest shirt possible. The orange shirt was small, causing a little frustration and creativity.
  • To save time, and have a finished-looking project- use existing hems. This is why the sleeves are a little long, I didn’t subtract the extra seam allowance. Oh well, it works (and they grow, fast).
  • Use the neckband from the old t-shirt. Just cut it off right above the serging. I unpicked the red collar during a car ride, too much work. The blue collar I just cut. They had the same effect.
  • Want a cute ‘boy’ applique? Look in your coloring books. I traced the animals from a coloring book. Then I traced it onto fusible stuff. Ironed it onto scrap t-shirt. Cut it out, and ironed it onto the finished project. I didn’t sew them down, too many small details. (I’ll let you know how they hold up.)
  • If existing t-shirt has details you like, use them. (For example, the name on the sleeve.)
  • Toddlers are awesome to practice your skills. The project is usually small and quick. Also, they rarely stay still, so any imperfections that you are hung up on are not noticeable to the general public.
Have you done any boy refashions? If so, share them in the comments, I am always looking for more things to sew for my boys.
Here’s to a wonderful week!

Partied here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Egg Free Cheesy Rice Balls

When I have a surprise sitter (mom drops by and asks if I’d like her to watch the boys for a while). I usually go to the library. Exciting I know.

Actually I love the library. The only problem with it is that it is about a half an hour drive, and I have twin toddlers. After that 30 minute ride, they are ready to tear things up! So spending any time in the quiet grown-up section of the library with the boys is completely out of the question.

So what did I find? Allergy cookbooks. (Even more exciting, I know.)

Today’s recipe is adapted from Allergy Proof Recipes for Kids by Leslie Hammond and Lynne Marie Rominger. Since an egg allergy is the only allergy I have to adapt for, I added cheese.

Egg-Free Cheesy Rice Balls

Here’s the recipe:

Cheesy Rice Balls

  • 2 cups cooked rice (recipe calls for Arborio, I used white)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Optional- 1 Tablespoon of spices (I think Italian spices would be good)
  • 2 Mozzarella cheese sticks (string cheese), cut each stick into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch (or could use tapioca or arrowroot)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups fine bread crumbs

cheesy rice ball instructions

Mix hot cooked rice, pumpkin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl. Let cool.

Form into golf ball sized balls. Push your thumb into the center to make a little hole. Stick a piece of cheese in there. Push the rice mixture back around the cheese.

In a bowl, whisk together the water, corn starch, and 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil. Set aside. Pour bread crumbs into a shallow bowl. Dip each ball into the starch mixture, then roll in the bread crumbs. Make sure you coat those little guys good.

Put rice balls on foil lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally. You want the outside to be crispy. Serve warm, with preferred dipping sauce, we preferred pizza sauce.

*After making these, I strongly suggest adding some spice. They taste a little bland without.

*Actual recipe fried these in oil. I wanted to try baking them. Either way works.

*I only baked half, and froze the rest for a future meal. They freeze well. Just pull from freezer and put in the oven (does take longer to cook).

What would you do if you had a surprise sitter?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Daddy Saved a Box

Hubby brought home a box. A big box.

He came home from work with excitement on his face, a roll of duct tape on his wrist, a utility knife in his back pocket, and a box.

We got to cutting; cut out a door and window. Then we taped the flap down, and taped the door and window edges (don’t want any boo-boos). Remember all that leftover green felt I have? I grabbed enough to cover the door, cut strips most of the way up, and taped it down. (We thought about giving the boys markers to color the walls, but mommy had instant visions of the whole house being colored, maybe next time.)

This playhouse has survived a month of rough and tough boy play. The boys play in it upright. They flip it on its side. Their favorite is turning it upside down, climbing through the window, running out, around, and doing it over and over. We have story time in the box. The boys flip it over, grab a stack of books and their milk, then coerce mama to get in and read.

Sadly, this box has been beaten up (it did last over a month). But, don’t worry, daddy brought home another box.

I married the best dad ever!

Its amazing the joy they get from trash. What items have your kids saved from the trash?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Quick Bathroom Update

Sorry for the sporadic posting (or lack of…). No excuses, sometimes I just have to step away from my computer for a while; and get things done.

Realizing that I only have under three months to work on my 30 by 30 list, I decided to get moving. I cleaned and purged my shoe closet (a hall closet that houses my shoes and other useless clutter). I donated two garbage bags (no, not all shoes), took a huge box to the garage sale pile, and tossed a few things right into the trash.

I had a lot of steam, so I tackled the bathroom. Cleaning the bathroom. Scrubbing from ceiling to floor. This project was so long overdue, and made a huge impact once it was done.

While working on the bathroom I had decided to do something about our light fixture. No before picture, but I’ll try my best to describe it. The fixture was like most things in our house; old. It had two glass globes… a long time ago. The globes were white with gold decoration. U.G.L.Y.! One of the globes broke, so the fixture only had a single globe for a while. Then hubby decided not to put the other one up the last time he changed the bulb. Like I said, U.G.L.Y.

I made a 2 minute transformation. (If you don’t have to run down two flights of stairs for mason jars, it will only be a 30 second project.) Here it is:

Bathroom Light Update

Quick Bathroom Update

I just tightened the screws around the mason jars, and voila! Looks much more finished. This is my favorite type of decorating project; quick, easy, and cheap (or in this case free).

Have you done any simple decorating projects lately?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

30 by 30 Update, Only 3 More Months

Instead of New Year’s Resolutions, I made a list, a list of thirty things I want to accomplish before I turn 30 (this May). This is not a crazy-exciting list. Nor is it an outrageous, adventurous bucket list. This is just a list of a few things that I have need want to personally work on. Sort of a list to help corral the chaos.

Without further ado, here’s my updated list (a strikethrough means completed):

  1. purge home, clear clutter {Ongoing. I have been spending naptime working on this.}
  2. make cleaning a habit {Ongoing, but being deliberate has helped a ton!}
  3. make recycling a habit {After a few visits to town council meetings, our town finally started curbside recycling last August!}
  4. scan pictures, organize pictures {This goal is crossed off because I know I’m not getting to it in the next 3 months.}
  5. organize recipes {I have found a method that seems to be working.}
  6. paint bedroom; decorate {Rearranged, and deep-cleaned/organized. Started thinking about colors…}
  7. paint living room; decorate {Picked a color, bought a sample, loved it. Need to remove wallpaper border at top of 12 foot wall, buy paint, and paint!}
  8. learn how to effective manage household, and time {I am happy to say that I am getting much better at this.}
  9. make wedding album {See excuse #4}
  10. journal for the boys {I am not very consistent, but the journals are started.}
  11. journal for my husband {See #10}
  12. learn how to use my camera, and take more pictures {Ongoing, getting better.}
  13. have monthly date nights with my husband {I need to be more deliberate here.}
  14. go on mini-vacation with hubby {We did go away overnight in September, and December. (not my idea of mini-vacation, but we will take what we can get!)}
  15. go on vacation with the family {Thanks to a wonderful Christmas gift last year we took the family to Great Wolf Lodge. This is probably going to have to suffice for this year.}
  16. read to the boys every day {I may have figured this out!}
  17. learn to/teach the kids to pray (and Lord's prayer, and Ten Commandments) {Am I a bad mom?}
  18. teach my step-daughter to sew and/or encourage her creative interests {Struggles here…}
  19. implement a budget {Nope}
  20. start nursing clinicals {Crossed off because I didn't get in this winter, hopefully in fall.}
  21. manage time better {Isn’t this the same as #8? Improving greatly!}
  22. get up early (like to start day by 6:00) {Boys are early risers. I am no means perfect, but so much better.}
  23. dress for my hubby more often (less jeans and t-shirts) {I am struggling in the colder season, but I am crossing it off because 1. I wore skirts/dresses most of summer and 2. hubby likes me in jeans and t-shirts.}
  24. style hair more, less ponytails {Since I made the cut, I have been better, not perfect, but better.}
  25. blog regularly {Getting better, but I think I need to make myself a schedule.}
  26. exercise regularly {You would not believe that one of my previous careers was a full-time fitness instructor and personal trainer.}
  27. craft through books; get rid of books not needed {I have not actually been crafting through books, but I have been getting rid of the ones that do not inspire my creativity.}
  28. craft through stash {Stash is still here, but getting smaller. The only materials I have bought have been project-specific.}
  29. make a dress, and wear it {May make more, but check this one out.}
  30. start selling on etsy {Been working on shop, a little. Need to tell my confidence (or lack of) to leave me alone. }
  31. do a 365 project {I started. Got 21 days in. And quit. I will restart, after I knock out some of my more important goals.}
  32. have a (semi) handmade Christmas {did not finish all I aspired too, but did manage to make a few gifts.}

The list is getting smaller. There are some items that could be crossed off, but I don’t feel they’re ready for a strikethrough. I’ll keep plugging away.

Do you make birthday goals, or to-do lists?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Egg-Free Friday

If you have been reading for a while, you know we have an egg allergy around here. I haven’t posted any egg-free recipes lately, so here are a couple of links to recipes I have tried. (If you are not egg-free you still MUST try the chocolate chip cookies!)

Theresa's To-Dos Egg-Free Friday

These chocolate chip cookies are AMAZING! I think I will continue to use this recipe even if we grow out of the allergy. I have a couple of connoisseurs of cookies around here, and I have been told these “ARE THE BEST EVER!” You can find the recipe here. (These usually take twice the recommended bake time, just watch them.)

The other cookies in the picture are Cool Whip Cookies. I have seen this recipe floating around Pinterest, and wanted to adapt it, making it egg-free. I used the flax seed substitute (1 Tablespoon ground flax seed, and 3 Tablespoons of warm water) in place of the egg. The dough is pretty stiff for these cookies, I added another huge dollop of Cool Whip. Don’t think that was a wise decision. The cookies weren’t bad, but I probably won’t make them again.

I make a big pan of oven baked pancakes every other week. I’m not sure if I will ever make traditional pancakes again, they are that easy (and delicious). I have made plain, and topped with various toppings; bananas, blueberries, and chocolate chips (our favorite). The ‘pancakes’ freeze well, making it easy for mama to get breakfast ready for the boys.

One more favorite around here; Cheerios Jumbo Breakfast Cookies. There is always a batch of these in our freezer. I pull a couple out first thing in the morning. By breakfast time they are slightly cool, moist, and delicious! This recipe also calls for an egg, I just use the flax seed substitute. We like ours with Craisins (our favorite is pomegranate) in place of the raisins.

Do you have any favorite egg-free recipes? How about egg-free tips? (As you can see, this is still a learning experience for me.)

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I Spoke Too Soon

Hubby left for work this morning with one request. “PLEASE take a nap when the boys nap.”

Hubby says to wife: PLEASE take a nap!

I love the ‘me’ time that naptime brings me. I look forward to being able to focus on things that I enjoy (like sewing). I like being able to have the house look normal, even if only for the few hours the boys nap. I enjoy having the time to prepare dinner for the family without frequent breaks to break up a wrestling match, fill a cup with milk, or to move things up even higher; out of reach from my growing toddlers. I LOVE naptime.

Why the request for a mama nap? Well… remember when I mentioned the other day about how blessed we were. You know, because the boys have (mostly) slept through the night since they were little? We are usually very leery of sharing this information, it seems as soon as we do- they make us want to eat our words.

Tuesday night, the very day I hit publish, Zeke woke up in the middle of the night. He’s getting the runny nose junk. No problem, we just brought him into our bed and he fell right back to sleep. Last night on the other hand, Zeke woke up, and proceeded to wake Xander up. Bringing two toddlers into mama and daddy’s bed is not a good idea. (Remember the previously mentioned wrestling matches?) Especially when dad has to work in a few hours. I brought them downstairs, where they decided to party the night away. And the morning.

That’s parenthood. I’m off to take a nap.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Twin Tip Tuesday; The Doctor Is In

Today’s twin tip may be common sense, but still oh so important. It also applies to all parents.
Twin Tip: Take the time to find the right pediatrician. (If your current pediatrician isn’t working out; find a different one!)
The right pediatrician is going to look different for each and every person. I suggest that you make a list of what is important to your family health wise/medically. Take this list and interview prospects. Yes, interview them.
Twin Tip Tuesday
Our pediatrician: Is very in tune to our parenting methods. This is why we choose her. She is very intelligent, and tries preventing troubles that may occur later in life (for instance keeping a close eye on Xander for possible hip dysplasia). She uses methods other than medication if at all possible (something that is extremely important to me), like testing for food allergies before prescribing medication to mask a problem. She was on board with our choice to try breastfeeding, encouraging me to set more realistic goals(so glad she did this). She applauded my efforts, and did not make me feel like a failure when I had decided to quit after two months. Lastly, mom and dad’s health is extremely important to her.
Why I LOVE our pediatrician: Our boys have (mostly) slept through the night since they were six weeks old. (Except through teething episodes.) We find ourselves extremely lucky. Some households have one baby/toddler who doesn’t sleep well, I could not imagine having two! I sincerely feel that our pediatrician is the primary reason for this (and the stars were all aligned at the exact moment our boys were born) Smile She always asked about their sleep patterns, and gave us suggestions for getting them sleep to sleep through the night. She would give a follow-up call to check up on us. She also made sure that I knew to call if our methods weren’t working. Because mom and dad need to be healthy for baby to be healthy.
What I look for in a pediatrician is going to be different from your family’s needs. That being said, it is so important that you find a doctor who’s practice align with your values and chosen parenting methods.
Before you curse me too much here’s my disclaimer: Every situation is different! I am not bragging, criticizing, passing judgment, or claiming myself to be an expert mother. I know how lucky we are. I am just trying to offer avenues that I have found helpful, things we have had to figure out on our own that may make life easier for others if shared.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Crochet Creation, Menu, and Goals

Weekends fly by around here. Actually time in general flies around here. The good news is that I think I am out of my winter slumps.

I haven’t posted any of my crochet creations lately (mainly because I have forgotten to take pictures before giving them to their new owners). Here is my latest:

Ms. Multi-Personality Grey”


This is the second hat that I made like this (I wish I had taken pictures of the white one). The hat pattern is from Red Heart. I really wish I would have taken notes both times I made this. I had to change the increases, then frog it because it was too big, do it again, and on and on. I used Red Heart Super Saver yarn. Please don’t ask what size hook, that’s how early I quit taking notes…


I made up the small red flower, so no pattern. The pink flower is from this pattern. I used this tutorial as inspiration for the white flower (I didn’t stack the flowers, just made a larger center and crocheted both layers into the center). The larger red flower is made following this pattern.

I sewed a button to the finished hat. When making the flowers I used a chain 6 ring for the center. This ensured the flowers’ centers were the same size, and large enough to fit and stay on the button.

And because I have to, here’s the boring stuff:


  • Sunday- Chili
  • Monday- Red Beans and Rice
  • Tuesday- Asian Chicken
  • Wednesday- Spaghetti
  • Thursday- Tuna Noodle Bake
  • Friday- Pizza
  • Saturday- Leftovers

*A little note about our menu: You may notice that some meals carry over from the previous week. My goal for our menu plan is to have everything in the house for 5-6 meals at the beginning of the week. Another goal is to have easy meals planned for busy nights (like nights of step-son’s basketball games). Usually I make way too much, so that meal turns into two, and another meal gets pushed to the following week. It’s what works for us.


  • Finish minimum of 3 etsy listings
  • Make spare bedroom toddler-friendly (or at least walk-through-able)
  • Clean out my closet
  • Deliver maternity clothes
  • Spend 30 minutes/day sewing
  • Blog 3 times this week

Your turn, go make some goals.

Hope your week is wonderful!