Saturday, October 9, 2010

Days of Play--Leaf Hunt

Goin' on a leaf hunt
Gonna be a lotta fun
Gonna find a lotta 'em
Hopefully a __color_____ one.

Grab a bag, a hand, and go for a delightful fall walk.  As you walk, grab a collection of fall leaves.  Discuss their color, shape, and texture.  Listen for the sound of crunching leaves.  Sing the song (above) substituting in colors you hope to see.

When you get home, turn those leaves into art projects.

Some of my favorites:

Leaf place mats

Using clear Elmer's glue, glue non-crunchy leaves onto scrapbook paper, tag board, or other paper.  Cover in contact paper. Wa la!

If you don't want place mats, lay leaves in an attractive design on the sticky side of contact paper.  Cover with another sheet of contact paper.  Paper hole punch and put string or ribbon through it.  Hang in a window.

Two of the place mats M.E. and I made

Leaf Rubbings

Lay some leaves vein side up on a table.  Cover with white paper.  Rub over the leaf/paper with the side of a crayon.
Photo from JCB Explore

Leaf Decoupage

Buy a cardboard container from Michaels and some ModPodge and decoupage the container with leaves. Let dry.  How fun would it be to decoupage a craft pumpkin with leaves?

Enjoy the fall day with your little ones!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Family Night/Date Night In--Channeling Your Inner Child

I love to pour over other blogs.  A friend recently introduced me to The Dating Divas.  I'll be trying out a lot of their suggestions.

**TOTAL TANGENT**Sarah from The Frontier Kitchen and I are teaming up to do 2 dates.  Both were partially inspired by The Dating Divas though we are giving them our own spicy little twist!

Anyhow, back to this date idea.  When I read this suggestion I thought it was perfect!  You could either do it alone with your hubby (that's what she said) or it could be a family affair.

To read all about the Inner Child Date, click here.

If you want a summary, here you go!

1.  Present your husband with a handwritten note asking him to go on a date with you.  Perhaps write with your left hand so it looks "childish."  How cute would it be to have your children "help" you pass notes back and forth?
Photo from The Dating Divas

2. Make a list of fun things you liked to do as a child.  Choose two or three to be a part of your date.  For example, you could: make ice cream sundaes, color, finger paint, play a kid's game (Hungry Hippos, Memory Match, Guess Who?), make mud pies, blow bubbles, watch a kid's movie, eat a lot of junk food, go to the playground, etc.
Photo courtesy of The Dating Divas

 3.  On date day/night, get together and act like kids again.  Do 2-3 of the activities you suggested.  Enjoy time being silly with your man (and maybe even your kids).
Photo from The Dating Divas

When I was reading this date I thought--man, my kids would love it if we did this with them.  If you want to do this as a family date, go for it.  Take the whole day to be a kid with your kids.  Eat ice cream for breakfast while watching cartoons.  Play in the sandbox.  Play a game of sardines. Go to the park.  Go to McDonald's and order Happy Meals for everyone.  Take a family nap.  How fun would that be?!?!
Another little photo from The Dating Divas

Of course if you want to do this just with your man and you want it to be a little more spicy, the sky's the limit!  Imagine ways you could make it fun and sexy.  Body paint instead of finger paint.  Play hide and go seek but exchange passionate kisses upon finding each other, play naked Twister ... the options are endless!

(I'd put a photo of naked Twister here but that would be awkward).

I'm soooo excited!  Bravo to the ladies (and loyal readers) at The Dating Divas for their awesome ideas.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

{FALL} Things I Love: Geese

I have this friend, Debb, who insists that all sunsets are for her sole enjoyment.  I don't know about that.

What I do know is that I long for those fall days when Canada geese fly overhead on their way South.

For as long as I can remember I've had a thing for Canada geese (by the way, Canada Geese is the correct term--they are NOT Canadian geese).

I love their deep, throaty honks and the color of their feathers.  I love the way they fly is misshapen Vs.

Whenever I see Canada geese I think of drinking tea and my grandma and grandpa's in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba. 

When I hear their honks I remember the three geese who flew to Buffalo, WY in 1995 and spent the whole winter in the outdoor pool there.

I know it is silly but whenever I hear and see geese I'm convinced God is looking my way saying, "that's for you."

One day in July of this year, I heard a lone goose flying overhead when I was outside watering my basil.  It had been a particularly awful day for me and I was feeling ambushed and overwhelmed.  And there was a goose honking.  A small reminder that brought the lyrics of "My Favorite Things" to my head, a smile on my face, and a reminder--that God is good.

I guess what I'm really saying is Debb can keep her sunsets and I'll take the geese.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Harvest Apple Skillet Dinner

Every fall my husband starts asking for the Harvest Apple Skillet.  I must admit that it isn't my favorite dish but since hubby and kids eat it like crazy (and it takes about 20 minutes to make), I don't mind making it.

What you'll need:
1 pkg of Hilshire Farms Turkey Kielbasa
1 medium yellow onion
2 apples
2 T butter
3 baked potatoes
1/4 c. cider vinegar
2-3T sugar
1 T parsley
2-3T water
salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

Cut kielbasa into roughly one inch chunks.  Put in large frying pan with 2-3 T of water.  Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Peel and cut the onion into 12 wedges.  Core and cut apples into 8-12 wedges, leaving the skin on.
Cube the baked potatoes (I always "bake" my potatoes in the microwave and then cut them.)

When Kielbasa is done cooking, remove it to a plate and rinse out drippings.

Put 1 T of butter into the frying pan.  Melt and add onion and apples.  Cook until apples are at the beginning stages of tender.  Remove to Kielbasa plate.

Heat remaining 1 T of butter and fry potatoes until golden. 

Meanwhile, combine cider vinegar, sugar, and salt and pepper.

Return kielbasa, apples, and onions to pan.  Pour vinegar mixture into pan.  Cook 2-3 minutes or until heated through.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

This easily feeds my family of 2 adults and 2 kids. If your family is larger I suggest doubling or tripling this recipe.

What I Think About--P90X

Remember I did that post on loving P90X a while back?

Well, I completed the program ... and I still love it.

I agonized over posting my before and after photos and here's the truth.

You're not gonna see that much of me on here.

To be honest, I'm the sort of person who wishes it was normal to shower in a bathing suit.  If it was possible to never be naked, that would be okay with me (though I think Matt would be upset).

While I won't show you the half-naked before and after photos, I will tell you my results.
  • I lost 15 pounds.
  • I went from a size 6/8 to a 2/4.
  • My body fat percentage went down 2.5%
  • I lost 2.5 inches from my waist and 2 inches from my thighs.
That probably doesn't sound like much.  However, I was in pretty good shape before I started.  P90X did an awesome job refining.  In fact, there is now visible proof that I have at least 4 abs (I'm still pretty sure my other two don't exist but we'll see what Ab Ripper has to say about that next month).  And I can do 50 full on push ups in under a minute and a half.  That skill doesn't come in handy often but at least I get some bragging rights.

Since I've started, and finished, P90X lots of people ask me what I think.  So here it goes.

  • The workouts are well structured, motivating, and make you sweat (if you work it).  I appreciated that I could do as much or little as I wanted.  That being said, someone could dog it for 90 days and see no results so if you decide to try P90X--go all out.
  • Tony Horton is really upbeat.  He tries to be funny (and fails) but at least he's more than a talking head.  To be honest, by the time work out delirium set in (around week 10) I was ready to kill Tony Horton (because no one who is ready to quit really wants to be motivated--they want an excuse to quit).  And for some reason phrases he says all time became hysterical to Matt and I. Our favorite?  Everyone straddle your mat (or Matt).  Um, that's what she (I) said?!?!
  • The variety in the workouts ensure that even though you might hit workout delirium, you won't be bored.  Yoga, kenpo, and plyometrics break up the somewhat mundane weight training days.
  • The diet plan is easy to follow.  Of course I wish there was a "sit on your butt and eat cheesecake and ice cream while watching GLee" diet but that isn't reality.  If you want results, you have to make sacrifices.  And P90X makes it easier by having a food plan you can adapt to fit your lifestyle and caloric needs.

  • P90X is time consuming.  Plan on working out at least 70 minutes a day--90 minutes on yoga day.  Of course then you need to factor in meal planning, shopping for healthy food, getting into and out of workout clothing, etc.  Our date nights and "friend" time really suffered this summer.  Dang it!  If you aren't willing to commit an hour plus a day, this might not be the right workout for you.
  • You need to be in pretty good shape to do P90X.  This seems counter-intuitive (because if you were in good shape you wouldn't need it) but this workout is extreme.  Do the fitness test before starting to make sure it's a good fit.  If you go for it, watch for modifications.  Plyo can be killer on the knees but they give you tips to make it work if you want to work it.
  • Workout delirium set in for me around week 10.  I'm a very disciplined person with a "Goonies never say die" mentality and I really, really, really wanted to quit.  It was time consuming--it was a sacrifice--I hurt everywhere.  I had a million excuses to give up but one to keep me going, Matt.  I highly suggest a workout buddy to keep you motivated and moving when workout delirium sets in.
  • The "suggestive selling" is irritating.  Beach Body makes money off of selling recovery drinks and protein shakes and snack bars.  You'll hear about these items in every workout video.  We get it already--back off.  P.S.  We didn't buy any of their supplements but I can say once we read what was in the recovery drink, we wished we would have splurged on that.
  • Finally, P90X takes a lot of gear. I kind of like routines that require nothing but me showing up.  P90X is NOT one of those workout programs.  If you decide to do P90X, plan on buying hex weights (we tried bands and did not like them or find them effective), a yoga mat, a yoga block, and a pull up bar.  If you don't have this equipment, you won't get the full affect of the program.  If you aren't willing to invest in the gear, skip P90X.
P90X is an amazing program and I love the way I look and feel after going through the 90 grueling days.  I have guns, abs, a slim waist, and a ton of energy.

This workout was good for me--make sure it is right for you.   

If you aren't willing to give the program a substantial amount of your time and energy, it probably isn't a good fit (and it's expensive so make sure you really want to do it before you spend the money, honey!).

If you are ready to make some serious changes in your health, body, and diet and you're going to "bring it" then check out P90X.


What I think about P90X?  "I hate it--but I love it" ~Tony Horton~

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tuesday's Too Clean Tip--Hot Spot

One year during the holidays my husband, sister, brother-in-law and I settled in for a long game of Settlers of Catan (which I'm sure I won) with a nice bottle of red wine.

It was a dreamy sort of evening (you know, since I was winning) until Foster, my brother-in-law's bulldog who is pretty much the animal incarnate of satan, came storming through the dining room and knocked over a glass of wine.

Red wine.

On my white, plushy carpet.

I nearly died.

Luckily this had happened once before during a party at my parent's house junior year so I knew just what to do.

Spot shot.
We sprayed it on, dabbed it out and no one could tell red wine had ever been spilled on my white carpet (good thing too because though I'm opposed to violence and furs, I almost had a dog-fur vest--fur vests are very "in" this fall).

Since those two experiences, I've tried Spot Shot on vomit, blood, and other animal/kid by-products and so far nothing has been too tough of a match for Spot Shot.

So while I could give you some home made recipe for a stain remover or some eco-friendly stain remedies, I really think this is the best.

And no goods were exchanged for me posting this (but if the fine folks at Spot Shot want to send a dozen or so cases to me it would definitely get used).

Use it. You'll love it!

(Always follow directions and test the product first to make sure it won't change color of your carpet.  This has NEVER happened to me but test it--just in case).

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Outfit--Sequins, Military Pants, and Must Have Clogs

I love to go thrifting.  If you caught my blog on The Floundering SAHM then you know that my love of clothing and fashion goes well beyond on savings account.  *Sigh* At least thrifting gives me a change to re-create all those looks I wish I could buy outright!

Anyhow, the last time I went for a sister visit we went thrifting.  I already had some great Gap military style pants and wanted to spice them up.

Enter sequin top and clogs.
Now the sequin top came from my {other} favorite place to shop: my big sister's closet.  Cost?  $0

Gap pants cost $9.99 (thank you sale rack!)

Clogs $6.35 (yes, you read that right!).

I pretty much really, really, really wanted these clogs from Gap but $80 dollars for these shoes, no matter how cute and trendy, was simply out of the question {insert grumble here}

Surely you can understand my excitement to find these clogs (and at such a great price!)

They may never leave my feet.

If I could take it back, I would {maybe}

I'm prone to talking faster than my brain can think.  Occupational hazard.

This leads to me putting my right foot in, taking my right foot out--and I'm not talking about the hokey pokey here.  I've been known to put my foot in my mouth.  Ok, I'm famous for it.

FYI--my feet aren't this nasty.

There have been times when I've said the wrong thing at the wrong time and I've agonized for days (sometimes years) about it. (If I'm going to be perfectly honest, there have been a few times I've spoken without thinking and I *still* don't regret it).

Am I alone here?  Have you done this?

Most of the time, I wish I had some sort of magic power that could whisk be back fifteen seconds so I could bolt my mouth shut.

I've heard of other people who wish they could say what they want to say when they want to say it. And since they can't, they obsess for days over what they "should" have said.

Which are you?

The "can I take it back?" "foot in mouth" type or the "I should have said..." type?

Please share an example (you know, to make me feel better).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What's Cookin'--10/4-10/10

Monday--Cheesy chicken bundles with cauliflower
Wednesday--Three cheese tortellini with pesto and salad
Thursday--Garlic Rubbed pork loin, potatoes and kale
Friday--Hawaiian chicken with green peppers and rice
Saturday--Lime chili steak wraps
Sunday--White Lasagna