Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Be Inspired

I love looking at blogs, but I must admit half of the time I just look at the pictures. I like to see the idea before taking the time to read all the details about the project. Half of the time I can even figure out how to make it by looking at the picture.

Recently I have come across a website called Pinterest that allows you to see various websites that people have bookmarked. Essentially it is a virtual cork-board of inspiring pictures. They have various categories like food, science, technology, ect. or you can search for something specific like "blue dresses" or "chocolate cookies" and you will be drooling over the yummy pictures that come up.

My favorite categories are DIY which offers many craft ideas and the Travel section.
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Monday, June 20, 2011

Healthy Trail Mix

With summer here and the kids out of school, I find myself snacking a lot. Unfortunately that means grabbing whatever is convenient which never ends up being healthy. To solve this problem I create a jar of trail mix which includes nothing but healthy foods. 

I use a variety of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. To add some sweetness to it I have added some chocolate, but it is 85% pure chocolate. I have a thing for super dark chocolate and it goes well with dried fruit. If you do not like that dark of chocolate, then you can mix in what you want but be careful how much you add. 

In the picture to the right you can see what I put in my trail mix. Going from the top left hand corner, the green stuff is pumpkin seeds. Continuing clockwise we have sunflower seeds, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, dried papaya, dried apple, dried blueberries, craisins, and dried pineapple. In the center there is chocolate and under that is dried cherries, and the two of those go really well together.

A lot of diets say nuts are bad, but the truth is they just have more calories than other foods their size. Personally I find nuts very filling, so I can eat a small handful of nuts and be filled. The dried fruit adds a bit of sweetness to the mix. In my trail mix, I have measured and calculated that a small handful (or 25 grams to be exact) is about 150 calories. I find this very satisfying when I get a case of the munchies and it is much healthier than opening a low calorie cookie pack.
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Friday, June 17, 2011

How to Fill a Cupcake

Coconut Cupcake with Key Lime Filling a Marshmallow
 Meringue Icing and Graham Cracker Crumb Topping

For this demonstration I made the cupcake above. It took awhile to make all the elements, but the end result was well worth it. I started with white cake mix and added 4 tsp of coconut extract. I made the key lime pie mixing from a box, the marshmallow meringue icing came from a combination of a few internet recipes, and I just crushed up graham crackers to make the crumbs.

Now that we have all the elements down, you first need to start by making all the cupcakes about the same size. I use a 1/4 cup of batter in each cupcake cup.

Next I take an apple corer, not the kind with slices, and I use it to create the hole.

You can make a few holes close together so it makes one big hole.

Once I get the holes in all the cupcakes I start filling them with the key lime filling. A butter knife could be used for this, or if you want to get fancy a piping bag.

Next you need to ice the cupcake. If you want the fancy swirl then you need to use a piping bag and a fancy tip. This particular icing was a bit runny so it wouldn't hold up to a piped swirl.

Finally I take the cupcake and roll it in the graham cracker crumbs.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Toddler Summer Dress

Here is a toddler summer dress I made for Misty. I drafted the pattern from a dress she already had. Lexi picked out the fabric for me. I have a pattern for the top half here, and the bottom is just a large rectangle I ruffled. The size of the rectangle will largely depend on your toddler and how much ruffle you make. Since it seems inevitable that my kids grow taller before they grow wider, I added extra fabric at the bottom and hemmed it up so I can let it out as she grows over the summer.

To make the dress simply download the pattern. The top front requires two pieces cut on the fold. The second piece being for the facing. Sew the facing together everywhere except the sides and the top of the straps. Then top stitch the the front and facing to make a nice finished look. Now sew the back facings together and top stitch them as well again avoiding the sides and top straps, but make sure to have both a right and a left side. Once complete you can sew the straps together and the sides. Now you can sew the bottom half on, which again is a giant rectangle. The length of the rectangle would be the desired length plus an two inches for seam allowance and hem, and the width would be the part sewn onto the top and that measurement is dependant on how you ruffle or rouch the fabric. I found it best approach is to just use the extra scrap fabric and trim off the extra.

To finish the back, you can add buttons or a zipper. I added buttons, which added a nice touch to this dress, but a zipper would be just as easy. Which ever you choice make sure you close up the back appropriately. Buttons require a bit of an overlap on the top fabric when sewn onto the bottom. 

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Stop Buying Clothes You Won't Wear

When you need to revamp your wardrobe, the best approach is always to have a plan. It can be so tempting for some just to buy random shirt that looks great. Unfortunately once you buy something all too often we get home and find out that it doesn't go with anything you own.

Creating a fashion board helps eliminate some of this by allowing you to create a look for yourself. Not only does this make shopping for clothes more practical, but it also gives you an overall image that makes you seem more consistent with your style. I've often desired to have that "put together" look that some other moms have, but I always end up in my safe jeans and a solid colored shirt. Finally, my pilates instructor told me how she created a fashion board and how it helped her stop buying clothes she didn't need.

So how do you create a fashion board? Simple, just get a couple of fashion magazines and cut out looks that you like or that you think might look good on you. Then arrange them on a poster board to see which of those looks coordinate and look good together. Finally glue down all the coordinating fashions you like along with matching accessories. Now purge your clothes of things that do not match the look you have created. Once you buy new clothes, reference the fashion board (or a pic you took of it with your phone).

Another alternative is create a fashion board online with a site called Polyvore. With a fashion board you can save yourself and your money by not buying clothes you will never wear.

Flowing Summer

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Recommended Summer Workbooks

Summer Bridge Activities: 6th to 7th Grade
Almost every year I get my kids the Summer Bridge workbooks to help them retain all their knowledge over the summer. It is a simple worksheet or two a day, and it is full of fun ideas like science experiments, fitness ideas, and it includes a rewards chart. The workbook covers the four major subjects: math, reading, writing, and language arts. It also offers a list of recommended summer reading books, and since they update these books every year they are usually popular books my kids knew. Summer Bridges has workbooks for every grade level.

If you child struggles with creative writing then Unjournaling is a must for the summer. The topics are both funny and puzzling, but also a lot of fun. We got this for my son one year, and it became a family game to do our own as well. My son was actually disappointed when he finished it. I can't remember any of the topics specifically, but it has stuff like: Write a sentence about a mythical creature where the first letter of each word is in alphabetical order. As you see it is a bit challenging, so I would recommend it for older children who can read and write unassisted.

Hot Fudge Monday: Tasty Ways to Teach Parts of Speech to Students Who Have a Hard Time Swallowing Anything to Do With Grammar
Hot Fudge Monday is a great book if your child is struggling with parts of speech. The book is broken into chapters which focus on a specific part of speech, such as adverb. It walks them through gently on what it is, how to identify them, and how to work out the tricky sentences that are more challenging to identify the proper part of speech. This book is a bit challenging at times, so I recommend it again for older children or a dedicated parent who is willing to sit down with their child.
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Friday, June 03, 2011

Keep Track of Your Water Intake

To help keep track of your water intake everyday, start by putting rubberbands on your drinking cup. Place one rubberband for every glass you hope to drink that day. Then when you finish your glass, take the rubberband off. The next morning put the rubberbands back on. 

I'm usually pretty good about drinking water, but sometimes I don't drink enough. I've also been known to drink too much, yeah its possible. So anytime I feel my water intake isn't right, I use this rubberband trip. It usually takes a week to re-establish a routine for drinking water. Of course if you are not used to drinking water it will take longer.

For our summer vacation this year we are going to the beach. Amazing how I used to have to bribe the kids to go to the beach when we lived 20 minutes away, but since moving here everyone has been suffering from a bit of withdraw. My awesome husband has booked me surf lessons for a whole day. He plans to take the kids to see all the King Arthur and Merlin stuff since they are really into that right now.

What does all that have to do water intake? Simple, I want to be in shape for my 5 hours of surfing. I've been working out for a month now, but instead of losing weight I've managed to simply eat more...mostly junk too. With only a month left until my surf lessons I decided to get a bit more serious on getting into shape. I have no expectations of losing mass amounts of weight in a month. Instead I just want to built up my strength and endurance. So I decided to add some healthy tips and tricks category to help others maintain a healthier lifestyle.
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