Saturday, November 24, 2012

A lesson in empathy

My children are spoiled. As hard as that is for me to admit, they are downright bratty children that tend to treat me as a maid. And, as hard as it is to admit, it is my fault they do so. For the last 4, almost 5 years, I've been cleaning their messes with little repercussions on their end. I usually just cleaned up the mess, and put them in time out because I didn't want to deal with the fight that would ensue, and I could clean it up faster myself. This all changed a few days ago.

My children are not allowed to have crayons or markers in their room.  They both know this, but that doesn't stop them from trying to sneak a crayon in there once in a while. Usually I catch it, but the other day, I didn't. My husband put them down for a nap while I was cooking for Thanksgiving. After their nap, I walked in to find all 4 walls, the dresser, the window, the closet door and bedroom door, and a toy bin all colored on.

Instead of putting them directly in time out, I called my oldest into the room. I knew she had done the drawings, as my youngest is just too short to reach where the crayon marks were. And, it was a continuous line around the room. After I pointed this out to my oldest, she admitted she did it. So, while I put the laundry away in her room, she was scrubbing the walls with a magic eraser. Yes, I made her clean up her crayon marks. She whined, complained that it wasn't fair, and pouted about it.

I took that opportunity to talk to her about her feelings. I explained that it was okay to feel that way, but to remember that mommy feels the same way when mommy has to clean up a mess that mommy didn't make. I also explained that it was okay to not like cleaning, but it is something that has to be done. And, since this is a rental, I explained to her that it is not nice to vandalize other people's property. It was a light bulb moment for her, she finally gets it. I'm hoping this is the start of something better, less big messes, but it was a good moment.

She didn't clean it all the way up, I did have to finish it. But, she had to sit in time out while I finished. When I finished, we reiterated our earlier chat.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rice pack tutorial

This is the third tutorial I promised for this week. I know I have done a tutorial on rice packs in the past, but this is another version. I use this one in my home all the time, and prefer it over my heating pad. My husband also loves it. Mine is made from muslin, with a cover. However, I made this one out of cotton, so it did not need a cover.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Charm pack coasters

This is the second tutorial I promised. My sister liked the coasters I made for my living room, and wanted a set for hers. I hate cutting and measuring, and found that charm pack squares make a perfect coaster. The only cutting I had to do was the batting, or in this case, felt.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Padded Camera Strap

As promised, here is the first tutorial for this week, a padded camera strap with little pockets for an SD card.

My sister is an avid photographer, and she is quite good. She recently bought a new Canon camera, and needed a camera strap to cover the one that came with the camera. I happily obliged! You will have to forgive both the quality of these pictures, and the mess in the background. We are still unpacking from our recent move, and I was rushing when I made this.

First, measure your camera strap. I added 1.5" to the width and 2-3" to the length to allow for seam allowances, hemming, and the padding. If you want to add pockets, cut them the same width you cut the strap cover, and about 5" long. You will need 2 of everything. Cut your padding the same as the cover as well. I used felt instead of batting.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chicken and Rice Casserole

This blog post is for my sister. While she was home, I made a chicken and rice casserole, and she asked for the recipe. It's relatively simple to make, but I thought I'd post it here so she can always reference it.

This recipe yields enough to feed my husband and I, and our two children, with leftovers.

2-3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, thawed if frozen
1 package flavored rice side, Lipton and Knorr's both make it. I usually use Cheddar Broccoli.
1 can cream of something soup - Again, you can use mushroom, chicken, even cheddar soup.
1/2 can of milk - After you empty the can, fill it up about half way with milk.
Seasonings - Salt, pepper, and whatever else you like. I usually add sage to the chicken.

Additional, but optional ingredients:
Frozen broccoli
Shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a small casserole dish with cooking spray, as the rice will stick.

In a mixing bowl, mix rice, soup and milk together. Pour into casserole dish. Add broccoli, and then lay the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle with seasonings. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for approximately 1 hour. I use a meat thermometer to make sure my chicken is finished. Remove from oven, top the chicken with shredded cheese, and bake another 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quick, Simple tutorials coming up!

Over the next few days, I'm hoping to find the time to share a few tutorials with you all. My sister was home for a visit these past 2 weeks, and she requested that I sew her a few things. I was more than happy to oblige, and took pictures along the way.

So, coming up will be a tutorial for each of the following: a padded camera strap, charm pack coasters, and a rice pack warmer. You will have to forgive the pictures, I was rushing as I made them, and the lighting is a little off. Stay tuned, I am hoping to have these posted this week.

Each project is relatively quick, I did them all within 4 hours. This includes hunting down craft supplies, considering I still haven't completely unpacked all of mine.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kids and Technology

Some people say that we should let our kids be kids, but with the digital age upon us, it is hard to encourage them to engage in pretend play.

I believe firmly that each child should engage in pretend play daily, but we should also allow them the opportunity to get comfortable with technology. My kids enjoy at least an hour or two of pretend play a day, more than they watch television, or anything else. However, we also allow them a little bit of time on the computer each day. Yes, even at 4 and 2 years old, they are allowed on the computer. That is what this post is about.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Tater tot Casserole

This is one of those go-to meals in my house. It is so simple, and I usually have the ingredients on hand. My kids love it, my husband loves it, and the best part, it takes around 30-45 minutes to make. It is cheaper than Hamburger Helper, and has a lot less sodium.

1 lb ground beef
1 small bag frozen tater tots
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
Shredded cheese to top - optional

Preheat your oven to 350.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet, season if you'd like, and drain grease. Return beef to skillet. Add cream of mushroom soup, and  about 1/2 cup of milk to beef. Mix thoroughly, and pour into a small casserole dish. Spread out evenly, and cover with tater tots. Bake 25 minutes, pull out, top with shredded cheese, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted.

We usually put a little bit of ketchup on the top of ours, but it is also good by itself. You can dress this up in a number of ways, and you can also use hash browns, or even french fries. Essentially any frozen potato will work, aside from mashed potatoes. The best part, we rarely have leftovers. My family enjoys it that much!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Homemade Gel Air Freshener

With the holidays fast approaching, I have lots of people coming and going. While I love my Scentsy warmers, some of those guests are children. I know the warmer will not burn them, but I really do not relish the idea of cleaning wax from the carpet. So, I usually turn them off, which leaves me needing something to freshen the air in my home.

This time of year, I usually make a batch of gel air fresheners. They make simple gifts, but also make your home smell wonderful.

The recipe is really simple, you'll only need a few ingredients.

  • 1 box plain gelatin 
  • 2 cups water, divided 
  • 15-20 drops fragrance oil, I purchased mine at Hobby Lobby in the Candle Making section.
  • food coloring 
  • 2 tablespoons salt 
  • You will also need a bowl and spoon that you do not use for food preparation. The fragrance oils can cause illness, so it's better to be safe than sorry. I have an old plastic measuring cup that I use for things like this, along with a wooden spoon, marked "Craft Spoon"

Boil 1 cup of water, add food coloring.

In small bowl, combine gelatin(all 4 packages in box) and salt. Stir in boiling water until completely dissolved. Stir slowly to minimize foam.

Add 1 cup cold water, and fragrance oil. Stir well. This is where you will want to add the coloring if you are using it.
Pour into decorative containers. Chill 1-2 hours to set, or allow to sit on counter for a few hours. They will set at room temp. 

Since I was making this one for me, I just used a canister that I bought at the dollar store. You can use any type of container you want, but glass is best. Again, make sure it is not something you use for food preparation. You can also add things to decorate them, such as dehydrated fruit slices, cinnamon sticks, or even silk flowers. 

*The reason for the salt is to help prevent molding. I did a small batch of these last year, and put them into 1/2 cup containers. They dried out before they molded. I would suggest keeping these out of reach of children as well.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My temporary No Sew Curtain

We are still in the process of getting everything moved, the last things to be moved are my craft supplies. Over half of them are still in the old apartment, including my thread and a majority of my fabric.

However, I hate having naked windows. Even though I live on the second floor, I still like to have all of my windows covered at night. This led to a desperate search for a temporary curtain, until I can make some to fit the odd window in my bedroom.

It was ridiculously easy. I took an old jersey sheet I had laying around. I cut it in half, and then cut off the top side seams. This opened up a pocket for the tension rod. Since it was a full size sheet, I left the width so I could ensure the window would be covered. The result worked fairly well, despite the ugly green color.

Since the sheets are jersey, they will not unravel. This sheet was originally going to be a maxi dress for me for the summer, but I never got around to making it. So, it has a second life as a temporary curtain.

Monday, November 5, 2012

ZeroWater Filter

I recently purchased a ZeroWater filter. My basis for choosing this particular brand has to do with the amount of filtration. It has 5 stages, 2-3 more than most available on the market.

I get it home, open it up, and expect to soak the filter like I have had to do in the past. Nope, as soon as you wash and dry the container, you screw in the filter and it's ready to go!

So, I filled up the reservoir and let it filter. One thing I did notice is that it does filter slowly, but that isn't a big deal to me. Meanwhile, I grabbed the water tester that came with it and tested the water from the tap. It came up an astonishing 463!! It shocked me to see so many contaminants in my city's water. As soon as the water finished filtering, I filled up a glass, and tested it. It came back a 001. Not completely zero, but I figured this was due to residue from the tap water still in the glass. I dumped it out, and tested the filtered water again. This time it was 000.

The water tastes so much better than it does from the tap. The cost of the filters are a bit more than the competitor's brand, and with such a high contamination level, mine will not last as long. However, the system came with 2 coupons for immediate use, and the company offers an additional savings for the future. The good news is that most of the US has water in the range of 100-300, making the filters last longer.

I highly recommend this product, and I am not in any way affiliated, sponsored or endorsed by ZeroWater to say this. This is my own personal experience.

This is the one I bought, since we do use a lot of water for drinking around here. My husband drinks ice tea, I drink coffee and water, and my kids drink kool-aid occasionally. I do not like to use tap water to make any of this. It fits perfectly on the top shelf of my fridge, and takes up less room than a 12 pack of soda!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sorry for my absence!

Along with being sick, we are also moving this week. This makes my available online time slim. Granted, we are only moving across the street, my days are still packed!

My husband has been working thirds this week, getting home around 8am, and sleeping until 3pm. My oldest has school from 12pm-3pm, and my youngest naps during this time. I use that small 3 hour window to run errands, and after they are in bed for the night, I try to do some cleaning, homework, and then unwind with a movie.

I am hoping to be finished by this coming weekend. I should be able to return to my regular posting soon.