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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Organizing Tip Thursday - A speedy morning routine

This post was originally published November 15, 2008. This week has been crazy hectic, so I dusted this off and thought it was a good fit for Organizing Tip Thursday.

Do you have trouble getting out the door in the morning? Each day I feel like I enter a time warp, where no matter what I do, we exit at the same time each morning...so maybe I'm not qualified to speak on the subject {blushing} but here are some tips that DO help things run more smoothly in the morning.

1. Make a list of all the things that need to be done before you walk out the door each day, down to the little details. Assign as many of the things on your to do list to a list called "Before Bed" and do them the night before. The remaining "Morning List" should only have the minimum amount of things required to get out the door successfully on it. Keep these lists handy so you can refer to them.
2. On hectic or hurried mornings, stick to the Morning List. This is my biggest problem, I get sucked into things that don't HAVE to be done that morning, and we end up being late.
3. Do what you can in parallel to save time. I have my coffee brewing while I'm taking a shower. If you have an older child who is capable of doing a lot of his morning routine without supervision, wake him up at the right time so you are ready to assist as needed when he's finished what he can do alone.
4. If you have to have that first cup of coffee before anything else, program it to be ready and waiting when your alarm goes off.
5. If you and your family shower in the morning, see if you can't make your showers 5 minutes or less. To help kids learn how to do that and make things fun, bring in a timer over the weekend and let them "race" the clock to see how fast they can get done (making sure they are getting adequately cleaned). If your family enjoys competition, keep track of everyone's time and declare a winner.
6. Know your hairstyle and what it needs each day to work for you. Can you leave it up in a towel to help it dry while you're doing other things? Do you have to blow it dry, or can it air dry? I tell my hairdresser that I won't be doing anything to it on weekdays, and ask for her to cut it accordingly. I wear it in a towel for a few minutes, comb it out and let it dry while I'm getting ready. Before I walk out the door I brush it once and I'm ready to go. Most days it looks pretty good in spite of what I'm not doing!
7. Consider your makeup essentials. While in college, I mastered the art of reducing my morning makeup routine to a minimum. Any extra time I could eek out were allotted to extra sleep, which interestingly enough has become like gold again to me, now that I'm a mom. During the week I put on foundation and bronzer and that's it. In the evenings or on a weekend when I want a little extra oomph, I pull out the extras.
8. Consider your children's schedule - do you wake them in the morning? If so, determine what time works best with your schedule and wake them accordingly. (if Sweetpea doesn't wake on her own, I wake her about 10 minutes before I'm ready to go out the door) If your child wakes predictably at a certain time, structure your morning routine accordingly. I find that as long as I have showered, it doesn't matter if Sweetpea wakes up before I've done the other things on my list. If I haven't showered yet, things go terribly wrong...so I shower first thing, and in well under 5 minutes!

What are your tricks for a smooth morning routine? Do you have a structured morning or are you more laid back? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Got Milk?

I wish I'd had something besides just my camera phone to capture this moment...doesn't she make the perfect "Got Milk?" spokes-toddler? {{giggles}}

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spring bounty

Any of you who enjoy Morel mushrooms will understand my excitement upon getting this picture on my cell phone this morning! EmDee has been getting up just early enough to sneak in a little mushroom hunting before work - yum!

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Cooking ahead for long hours to come

Isn't it funny how when you've had a particularly sleep deprived stretch, and then you get that sweet taste of sleep again how wonderful you feel the next morning? I'm having one of those super well rested, feel like I'm glowing kind of days. Sweetpea and I had both been battling congestion that was wreaking havoc on our sleep schedules (not just hers, I was waking like a newborn too!) and last night was the first night where we seemed to make a lot of progress. Thank goodness for simple blessings! Especially on what will be a particularly hectic week for us, so glad to have this great start!

I did a major marathon cooking session this weekend, partly for this week's meal, but also to put back for when EmDee goes on 12 hour days for at least two weeks...so far I was able to put back just short of a week's worth of meals for him - whew! Here's what's on our menu for this week:

Monday: cheesy hamburger casserole, steamed asparagus, fruit salad
Tuesday: bbq pulled pork sandwiches and oven fries
Wednesday: beef stirfry on rice with baked rangoons (recipe to follow next week if all goes well)
Thursday: pork and vegetable pasta (pork from the freezer from an earlier marathon cooking session) and fruit smoothies
Friday: sweet potato burritos with mexican rice

For more menu planning inspiration, visit OrgJunkie. What's on your menu this week? I'm always looking for new ideas!

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Warm sun and longer days

This weekend has been amazing - at the beginning of the week we had highs in the 50s, yesterday my car said 90 - yikes! It has been a bit windy, but so amazingly nice. I am still hoping for a bit of spring before we fast forward into the heat of summer, but I'll take hot and sunny over rainy and cold just about every time.

We have been spending a lot of time with this new toy - I'll be sure to let you know when my review is posted over on Problem Solvin Mom Recommends later this week, be sure to check it out, there will be a giveaway too!

*We planted several small raspberry plants this past week that should fruit this year - it was fun to teach Sweetpea how to help plant, and I'm looking forward to the sweet fruit these plants will bear*

*Lots of time outside playing in our freshly cut lawn*

*Longer days, warmth on my face*

*An amazing sunrise as I looked groggily out the window this morning*

*Beginning to feel baby kicks from the outside, so amazing*

*Fresh morel mushrooms for dinner that EmDee found, Sweetpea liked them as much as we did*

*Ann's words, so often just what this mama needs*

What are you grateful for this week? I love hearing your lists!

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday funnies - gridlock edition

This was my view for about an hour this morning…luckily, it was a beautiful morning to chill out in the car with my sunroof open and the radio on. And it was jeans day at work, so I was all casually comfy sitting there. Speaking of my sunroof...

I was complaining to my coworker on the way back from lunch yesterday that I hadn’t been using my sunroof much lately (for reasons other than that the weather hadn’t been cooperating) because it wasn’t closing right for me. We bought my car used, and after comparing the sunroof controls to its “twin” that my husband drives (yes, we have two nearly identical cars) realized that the sunroof on my “new” car was aftermarket. Of course there weren’t any instructions for the sunroof in the car when we purchased it.

Up until a few months ago, whenever I would turn the car off, the sunroof would automatically close. Then one day it just didn’t. I hadn’t done anything differently, and I had no idea how to get it back. The only reason that I wanted it to close automatically was that I had no idea how to correctly close it! The control box has two arrow buttons, one pointing to the back and one to the front of the car. Generally that moved your window back (open) and forward (closed) but if you kept the forward button depressed for too long, it went from closed to tilted up – where was the pause to let me know it was closed?!? The first time this happened there I was with the driver door open, pushing the button and popping out of the car to check if the window was flush. That was probably funny to anyone watching me, but not so funny as the operator!

There are three other small buttons above the forward and back buttons, at first glance they are 1, 2, and 3. As I was telling my friend that I assumed they were programming buttons but that I had no idea how to program them, she looked more closely and said, “they are actually 1, 2 and C” Then my friend said, “I bet C stands for close” and she pushed it…the window closed! My friend is a GENIUS! Either that, or the problem solvin’ mom has been totally off her game for awhile now…at least when it comes to aftermarket sunroof operation.

Happy Friday!

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Overwhelmed by the mail?

Are there certain sites you find yourself heading to when you need ideas for something specific? I have several standbys, and one of my favorites for organizational needs (or chaos management, if you prefer) is Mommy Track'd. Amy, founder of Mommy Track'd has graciously agreed to share one of the survival guides from her site for this week's Thursday tip.

One of my biggest clutter challenges can be found in the mailbox...I tend to put the mail on the counter with the intention of "dealing with it later". Like tomorrow, "later" never seems to come - or when it does come that stack has gotten pretty intimidating. I chose this specific survival guide, "Overwhelmed by the Mail?" because at least for me, the answer is a resounding yes!

Do you have a sense of dread when you open your mailbox? Not just because of bills, but also because of everything else that’s in there with the bills. Mail is like a weed, if you don’t keep it in check, it will spread out and eventually take over any and all empty tables, countertops, and chairs you’ve got. The consequences can be more than just clutter, too. The National Association of Professional Organizers estimates that 25% of Americans pay their bills late because they can’t find them. To make things even more difficult, postal workers delivered nearly 101 billion pieces of bulk mail in 2005, a 12 percent increase from two years ago. It was the first year that bulk mail exceeded first-class mail. Strange to think there was actually a time when we waited excitedly for the mail to come, hoping for a letter or magazine. Fortunately, there are ways to stop fearing, and maybe even start anticipating, the mail again.

Alicia on “Recycling the Junk” “When you first glance at the pile of mail you get on a daily basis, it already looks imposing. If you do a quick sorting of the pile, though, you can weed out the junk that makes up a majority of the mail. Keep a recycling bin next to where you keep your mail, and immediately toss all the unwanted catalogs, fliers, subscription offers, sweepstakes entry forms, charity solicitations, credit offers, advertising supplements, and whatever else they can dram up. You can be environmentally conscious, while also shrinking your mail pile.”

Sarah on “Opting Out” “One of the easier ways to get a handle on your mail pile is to reduce the amount of mail you get in the first place. A good way to remove your name from several national mailing lists at once by signing up for the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service. This Web site provides instructions on how to register (a $1 processing fee is charged). This service is only for national, not local, mail and only for residential, not business, addresses and is good for five years.”

Here are a few simple steps to getting your countertops free of mail piles.

#1. Create a Sorting System
The best way to organize your mail is by getting an organizer. Start by getting a mail holder with three compartments. Make compartment #1 for bills, #2 for correspondence and #3 for things that need action (e.g. forms to mail back, coupons you want to use later in the week). It’s amazing how manageable the mail suddenly becomes when it’s broken down into its contents.

#2. Make “Sorting Time”
Pick a time every day (before you leave for work in the am or before you turn on the TV at night) and take a few short minutes to sort the mail into the compartments we mentioned above. Once you’ve done that, pick a day each week (same day/time) to go through and pay the bills, answer any correspondence, put invitations into calendar, and whatever action-oriented things you need to do. That way you can start with a clean slate the following week.

#3. Magazines/Catalogs
Magazines and catalogs take up an enormous amount of space in your mail. No matter how much you may like getting all of them, there comes a time when you need to recognize whether you really need all of them. If there is a magazine you get but never have time to read, cancel your subscription. If there’s a catalog you used to like but haven’t ordered from for a while, contact them and request to be off their mailing list. You can always re-subscribe, but why waste money, and paper, on things you always throw out.

This survival guide was written by Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore , co-founders of Buttoned Up, inc. Buttoned Up, Inc. is a company dedicated to helping stretched and stressed women get themselves organized (along with everybody else they’re responsible for too!). Please send ideas and questions to us at: yourlife@getbuttonedup.com or visit us at http://www.getbuttonedup.com/

For more survival guides, free downloads, message boards and more, visit Mommy Track'd!

Do you have any other mail conquering tips? What are you working on this week to better organize your home or life?

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sweet friends, great big fun

I think any time would have been perfect for visiting my close friend and her family, but the week we happened to pick was full of fun activities on top of all the sweet visiting we did! EmDee had to work that weekend, so Sweetpea and I set out for a girls weekend - we had just under four hours to drive each way, and I wasn't sure how that was going to go. I shouldn't have worried, Sweetpea was a traveling champ!! (she made up for her stellar car performance with some less than stellar sleeping, but I'll take what I can get)

It happened to be the week before Easter, so of course there was the requisite egg coloring activity...this actually went much better than I expected!

In addition to egg coloring, there was an egg hunt. Luckily, there was a 1-4yr old age group, which was just perfect.

Both girls made out with almost a bag full of plastic eggs. Most of the eggs were filled with stickers or small trinkets. We returned most of the eggs for next year's activity, keeping a few to supplement the egg hunt we had Easter morning.

I was shocked at how still Sweetpea sat while getting her face painted! And yes, it looks like cookie monster has something in his mouth - Sweetpea "fed" him several of her stickers from the plastic eggs!

The girls also had a great time chasing bubbles, first with their hands...

And then with sticks...they also got to make kites as part of an activity at the local library. They turned out wonderfully despite the serious tape rationing of an overzealous librarian. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the kites. We accidentally left ours along with some new shoes and a cute ladybug umbrella, but I'm sure we'll get it back sometime and then hopefully we'll get some action shots for the old blog.

In honor of Earth day, I thought I'd leave you with my latest "green" purchase, reusable snack and sandwich bags from Snack Taxi (formerly happy sacks). So far I'm loving them - they are machine washable!!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Giving what seems like too little in the face of great loss

I was filling out one of those silly get to know your friends emails the other day, and this particular one had the question, "what are you most afraid of". That was an easy one for me to answer - my biggest fear is outliving my children. And as the blogosphere makes the world so very small, I'm reminded how that terrible possibility can and does become reality all too often.

I've watched, read, and cried over the past weeks following the story of Maddie Spohr. While heartbreaking, her sweet and vibrant life is also inspiring. Something else that is inspiring? The reminder that if each of us give a part of ourselves - be it donations, notes of support, crafts for fundraisers, etc, that we can achieve something big and powerful. If you would like to support any or all of these families, please click on the buttons half way down my left sidebar. There are opportunities to buy crafts or donate directly.

I love shopping on Etsy, but I don't do it often - it can suck up an entire afternoon and handfuls of cash! I couldn't resist some handmade goodness to support Cora's Playground and Tuesday's family, though - here are some of the goodies that have been showing up over the past weeks...

Sweetpea and several of my friend's kids will be recieving these super fun and useful crayon holders from WoobieDesigns.

I picked up two of these cute and endlessly functional coffee cozies from TwoFloridaGirls. My mom is always bemoaning the fact that the covers you get from Starbucks or our local coffee shop (the clearly superior but sadly not national Boston Stoker) just don't work well enough. I think she'll find this does the trick nicely!

I couldn't resist were these sweet hair clips from Luca Bella Designs.

And last, but definitely not least, I bought these fabulous pendants from HomeStudio when they were doing a fundraiser for Tuesday. I love the first three pictured above, but especially the one below - a tribute and a reminder to hold my babies closely and enjoy every moment. Be warned if you're anything like me you'll end up buying a set like I did, good luck picking just one! :)

Do you know of some fundraisers that I've missed? If so, please let me know!

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Crockpot and freezer menu planning

Last week's menu went according to plan except for the muffaletta salad, which was one of the dishes I was most looking forward to! I'm going to try and get to it this weekend instead. I'm planning another crock pot rotisserie style chicken that will provide the start to several of our dishes...I love how easy and delicious it is! The meatballs are the last of a huge batch I made several weeks ago from the freezer, also nice and easy. Asparagus is starting to come up in the garden, so there will be lots of that on the menu the next several weeks if all goes well.

Here's the plan this week:

Monday: meatball subs with oven fries
Tuesday: Chicken stir fry with rice
Wednesday: Omelet casserole with berry smoothies
Thursday: Chicken salad and roasted asparagus
Friday: leftover potluck

What's on your menu this week? For more inspiration, visit OrgJunkie.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's the simple things that make me happiest

Saturday was a wonderfully warm and sunny day, perfect for playing in the front yard and a trip to the park! It is supposed to rain later today, and will be quite a bit colder by Tuesday, but the cold snaps are not as cold as they were just a few weeks ago, and it is finally starting to feel like spring.

Today is my Mom's birthday and we are all meeting for brunch. If the weather holds out, I'm hoping we'll take a walk to burn off all of that food! It's so nice that our family is close enough that we can easily get together and celebrate special occasions like this.

Here are some other things on my gratitude list from the past two weeks:

*A happy, healthy, fast growing little girl*

*A peek at what appears to be a healthy and fast growing little baby at my 20 week ultrasound* (21wk belly shot above)

*Sweetpea got two dresses for her birthday that were quite a bit too big - rather than putting them away for next summer, she has dubbed them her princess dresses and they are being used daily for dress up* (one of them is pictured above)

*the first batch of asparagus from our garden should be ready to cut today or tomorrow - YUM!*

*Our cherry tree bursting into bloom, beautiful blooms and wonderful scent*

*A wonderful visit with my longtime friend, reconnecting as if no time had passed*

*the grass is turning green again and dandelions are popping up, hinting that warmer weather isn't too far away*

*checking nearly everything off my to do list during my days off*

What are you grateful for this week?

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Easter Fun!

The Easter bunny brought some very fun crafty toys for Sweetpea this year, along with just a few Smarties and peanut butter eggs. Here she is checking out her loot, still in pj's.

We had a little egg hunt in our front yard with plastic eggs. Most eggs were filled with stickers, and a few had a small piece of candy.

Post egg hunt, Sweetpea poses victorious with Daddy. :) Some of my friends at work were telling me how they leave a trail of eggs or jelly beans from each kid's room to the Easter basket - I think that sounds like great fun and am planning to try that next year.

What Easter activities did you enjoy with your friends this year? Happy Friday!!

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Organizing Tip Thursday - creating your own personalized planner pages

Interested in printing your own planner pages, or not quite finding a planner that fits your needs? There are several great free downloads available out there that you might like – my favorites being the various planning pages available from Amy at MomAdvice and the variety of planning related downloads available at SimpleMom.

I love Simplemom’s daily docket, but I wanted something a bit different. If you’re looking to customize your own planner pages, excel is an easy way to create them! Here is a picture of the page I created – again it’s loosely based on the daily docket:

Here is quick tutorial if you’re interested.

1. Come up with a basic design that you want to create and roughly sketch it out on a piece of paper.
2. Open excel and start copying the sections of your planner pages into the cells, in the general area where you want each of them to appear. You can adjust the width of columns by holding your cursor on the line between a column, click and dragging your cursor either direction with your mouse.
3. In order to create boxes or lines under your cells, go to “Format” then “Cells” and click on the “borders” tab. From there you can choose the location and thickness of the line you want.
4. If you want to add some shapes to your planner like the little suns I have, go to “Insert” and click on “Picture” then choose “Autoshapes”. That should open a toolbar that will allow you to choose lines or basic shapes to paste anywhere on your sheet.
5. If you want certain sections to be wider than others, you can merge cells. Highlight the cells you want to merge and click on “Format” then “Cells” and choose the “Alignment” tab. There is a “Merge” option that you can check to merge the cells you have highlighted.
6. To check the layout of your page, click on “File” and “Print Preview”.
7. If your page is too big or too small, you can adjust the width of your columns to better fit the page.

The nice thing about printing your own pages, besides that you can tailor them to your needs, is that you can print them half size, double sided, and/or put them in plastic covers and reuse them with a dry erase marker!

I hope this was helpful rather than confusing. Let me know if you have any questions and I can try to answer them. Feel free to use my planner page if you'd like. Can anyone help me attach it as a pdf file instead of an image? For some reason that seems above my ability to figure out today. Happy Planning!

Now it's your turn - please link up your organizing ideas and help a mama out! Also, this week's Finding Freedom Friday at Phoebe's blog Cents to get debt free is on organization, check it out!

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Guest post roundup

I will be posting Organizational Tip Thursday around noon today, due to some crazy long hours at work this week... Until then, I thought I'd point out where I'm guest posting this month in case you are interested in stopping by and checking them out! *pretty please*

On the topic of Organization, did you see my guest post on Monday at JessicaKnows on the subject of organizing? If you have any interest in it at all, I'd suggest you check out her "15 days of Marketing" while you're there.

This month at Sprout it's all about the Earth, and I've posted two articles on recycling. Learn some of the specifics about curbside recycling requirements here, and what to do if you don't have curbside recycling here!

I totally missed out on wordful Wednesday this week, where I was planning to write more about our exciting visit to see my friend. Look for that next week, and in the meantime, here is the *one* and only take to get Sweetpea and Mommy both looking at the camera after her egg hunt. (do you think it's the grip I have around her waist, maybe?!) I love the little ladybug she picked out to have painted on her face!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sweetpea in a box

Maybe Mommy should unplug a bit from the texting? Anything and everything is a phone in our house - conversations usually go like this, "Hello. Uh huh. Goodbye!" It cracks me up that she just fit into her canvas toy basket and thought it was a good place to hang out.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

This toddler has style!

Twittermoms and Children's Place are hosting a stylish kid contest! If you'd like to enter, write a post and then link it up to the Twittermoms stylish kids thread!

Sweetpea loves frilly dresses - she will put them on over an outfit and spin around telling us, "I'm a princess!"
She loves hats of all kinds, this is her current favorite. What goes better with a winter hat than a pair of sunglasses, right? Especially when they are put on at this funky angle.
And there's nothing like a bathing suit to compliment your pj's on a lazy weekend morning, especially with a butterfly backpack!

In addition to these fun combinations she's thrown together over the past few months, Sweetpea loves shoes of all kinds and playing in the dirt...which is why this mama is such a fan of oxyclean! :)

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Menu planning with the grill

Last week I was off work and we were out of town part of the time, so for the most part I didn't plan our menu ahead of time. This week it's back to the grindstone and menu planning! I'm still working on finding new and exciting side dishes. I've included a few new ideas I found around the web with links. We grilled out on Saturday afternoon, so there will be a lot of grilled meat on this week's menu!

One other thing I wanted to highlight related to food was the wonderful baked french toast we had for Easter brunch yesterday, thanks to Meg at Whatever. Simple and delicious, it was perfect. We have a few slices left over that I'm sure we'll fight over for the next day or two!

Back to what's on the menu for this week:

Monday: Brats with green salad and macaroni and ham bake
Tuesday: Grilled chicken salads and roasted asparagus
Wednesday: Hamburgers with muffaletta salad
Thursday: Grilled chicken breasts and brussel sprouts with bacon
Friday: leftovers

For more menu planning inspiration, visit OrgJunkie.

In other news, I'm excited to be guest posting today about organization at JessicaKnows, I hope you'll stop by and join me!

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Fun - rainy days and food!

I had a day off to spend with Sweetpea today and again it was a cold rainy day! Luckily the last rainy day we came up with some indoor activities that were a big success, so today I was prepared.

First, we spent about an hour at Barnes & Noble, playing with the huge train table they have in the wonderful children's area. We purchase something every few visits, making this a very frugal way to have indoor fun.

Back at the house, we have a few special toys that I rotate into the rainy day bag. This makes them new and special when we are stuck inside! We also have a big bag full of fun craftiness, crayons, stickers, foam cutouts, paint, construction paper and the like. We spend at least an hour on craft time. Since it's almost Easter, we will also be decorating eggs today.

I love browsing the dollar spot at Target and the $1 bins at Michael's crafts for small fun activities. Today's dollar toy was a set of paper dolls from Michael's.

I also try and make lunchtime more fun on days like today. The picture above is of Sweetpea getting ready to bite into an apple peanut butter boat! To insert pretzel sticks into apples, apply gentle pressure and rotate the pretzel back and forth to create a hole. Half the fun is eating your mistakes as you go. ;) We also had pineapple boats made the same way and some cheese and turkey. Yum!

What are some of your rainy day tricks? I'd love to hear them!

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

5 Tips to help kids clean their room

A big thanks to Susan Stewart from Perfectly Placed for sharing these great tips for organizing kid's rooms! I love that Susan's focus for organization is to reduce stress and help clients create the kind of space they want in their homes. To see archived newsletters full of organizing tips, visit her Newsletter page. If you'd like to receive her newsletters, visit her contact form and submit your request!

Now on to her great advice:

1. Pare down. Go through the things in your childʼs room and help
them let go of things they have outgrown or no longer use. It can
be overwhelming to find a pair of shorts from a drawer stuffed so
full that it can barely close.
2. Give things a home. Go through your childʼs toys and
determine which ones they still play with. Sort the “keep” toys
into categories and find containers that are the correct size to
hold them. Label the containers. Pictures work well for kids who
cannot read. Make sure the containers are easy to get in and out
of or those things are not likely to get put away.
3. Use a miscellaneous basket. What do you do with all of those
McDonaldʼs toys and trinkets from birthday parties? I have a
miscellaneous basket in each of my kidsʼ rooms. I go through
them periodically and donate some things to the treasure box at
4. Give your childʼs toys a limit. When this container is full of
Legos or Barbies, then we have too many and will need to let go
of some. This teaches boundaries of personal possessions.
5. Purge regularly. Childrenʼs needs and interests change quickly
when they are a young age. You may need to go through their
toys with them on a semi-yearly to yearly basis and ask them “I
noticed you donʼt seem to be playing with these any longer.
Could we donate these and use this container to store
_______?” Just before your childʼs birthday or Christmas are
especially good times to do this.

Any additional tips you can add to this great list? Don't forget to link up your organizational posts below! Thanks again, Susan!

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wordful Wednesday - How many shots does it take?

We visited a close friend of mine from college and her family this past weekend and had so much fun! EmDee had to work, so it was a girls getaway for Sweetpea and me. Sweetpea and my friend's daughter are just a few months apart in age and get along so well, it's heartwarming to watch. We are both expecting this fall, so our next sweet babies will be close in age as well, how exciting!

We were lucky enough to visit while some fun activities were scheduled nearby, more on that in some later posts. For today I just wanted to share a fun set of photos that show how challenging it can be to get two 2 year olds to both focus on you at the same time! :)Hey Sweet potato, that's a cute bunny painted on your face! Thanks, Sweetpea!

Hey Sweetpea, look what's going on over there! Huh? What?

Hey look, Sweet Potato, my mom wants to take our picture. I wonder how long she's been standing there? Hard to tell, Sweetpea {{giggles}}

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More fun with the "magic crayon" in your Easter coloring kit

Ever wonder what else you can do with that magic crayon that comes in your Easter egg decorating kit? Here is another fun activity that your kids might enjoy - making magic pictures or secret messages!
*apologies for this poor photo, I can't tell you the ridiculous amount of time I spent trying to make it look more clear and crisp - I obviously need help!*

Take a blank piece of paper and carefully create your image or message on the paper. Then have your child color the paper with markers or paint and watch your image magically appear!

This activity is fun for beginner painters because they can create fancy images with just simple brush strokes. It's fun for older children because they can trade secret messages with friends or they might find a secret message from mom in their lunch...

Do you have any fun ideas for the magic crayon? I'd love to hear them!

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Freebies - play along with me!

I was lucky enough to win some of Marva's homemade goodness when she played along with this fun tag. I thought it was a great idea, am in a bit of craft withdrawal anyway, and thought it was time for a tutorial!

First things first - the freebies! Leave a comment on this post letting me know your favorite colors and I'll randomly draw 5 winners on Monday night. Winners will receive a scrunchy similar to the one pictured above, and I'll try and keep your color choices in mind when making them. The one above is from Christmas and includes bells. I'd be happy to include bells if you'd like, just let me know! US residents only, unfortunately.

Now, in case you'd like to make some of your own, these are super simple!

Start with your favorite sized elastic ponytail holder. Cut several pieces of ribbon (2 or 3 contrasting colors work well) about 3 inches long. Tie your ribbons in double or slip knots (or a combination of both types of knots looks nice) along the ponytail holder. If you're adding bells, you can tie them right into your ribbons. Larger craft beads work as well as an accent.

Put your hair up and show off your craftiness! I will post the finished results of this giveaway next week so you can see some more. If you'd like photos of the process steps, let me know and I'll post those next week as well.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Organizing Tip Thursday - a place for everything

So much of staying organized and preventing clutter (at least in my house) comes down to having a place for things and making it easy to put things away. Toys were a big problem in our living room - Sweetpea's main play area - there wasn't enough storage and things always looked piled up and pushed aside. Sweetpea's GaSue asked what I wanted for Christmas this year, and I quickly pointed her in the direction of some nice shelves I'd been considering for storage! Now the toys can be neatly and easily put away at the end of each day. On the right side of the television, you can see the wonderful bookshelf my grandpa made for me that now holds Sweetpea's book collection. There are two canvas totes that keep smaller toys contained.

This isn't to say that our living room always looks like this, or that other toys or clutter doesn't make it's way in around the edges, but it has been so much easier to keep things tidy since these fabulous shelves arrived.

Thanks again, GaSue!

Do you have an organizing tip you'd like to share? I'd love to hear them, either as a linked blog post or in the comment section!

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