Monday, June 10, 2013

More Baby Blankets

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My favorite part of sewing gifts for friends is trying to find a fabric that fits them. Below are some recent blankets, one for a friend, one for my sister, and two for my baby boy. Thank you satin blanket binding for making it so easy to sew some nice giftsIMG_3720IMG_3986 IMG_3447   IMG_3725

Saturday, June 8, 2013

School-Time Nook

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Because all of my kids are at home during the day still, I love to do school-time with them. We’ve don’t it for a little over a year now. Emerson only went to preschool one day a week last year so that left us a lot of time at home. Even though it’s hectic at home with 3 young kids, I feel like having school time every morning, even for 15 minutes, really helps the kids get into a routine for the day and helps fundamental concepts come easily to them. IMG_3220
We don’t have one of these giant homes you see on Pinterest with rooms dedicated specifically for crafts or school time, so I made a make-shift school area in a nook of our office. Here is a photo of our office. The nook is just to the right, around the corner from the doors. I like this also for visual appeal so the big kids’ posters aren’t the first thing you see when you walk in. IMG_3512
I got all my supplies for the school nook at the Dollar Store, just after my oldest turned 2. I purchased a calendar, days of the week, weather, alphabet, numbers, shapes, and a bunch of sets of flash cards and quiz cards. I keep all my supplies in the bins of this IKEA shelf: I think all my supplies cost about $20!IMG_3221
We have special “mats” we each sit on for school time (they are just old placemats!) and the kids love it! We sing a song that goes like this “come on over and sit right down” repeated with lots of fun gestures like “come on over and stomp your feet” or “clap your hands” to start school. The kids love being crazy with it “come on over and bark like a dog or pat your cheeks” etc.IMG_3228
We try to do the basic things each day (month, day, weather, alphabet, counting) and then we focus on one learning activity for the day. Sometimes we learn about a unit theme like animals or the ocean, sometimes we learn how to mail letters, and sometimes we just color! And really it lasts about 15-20 minutes. I am going for repetition here not length! While Emerson works on his coloring or Hot Dots, I work on simpler concepts like the alphabet with Genevieve.IMG_3223 
// Just a quick shout-out about Hot Dots – my kids LOVE them. a while ago my mom bought us a ton of these off Zulily  (like enough to teach concepts from age 3 to age 11 – about 50 boxes!) They teach quickly and easily and the pens are so fun for the kids, plus they can generally do them on their own once you get them going! I highly recommend them. //

Ombre 1st Birthday Cake (& Party)

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Just catching up on some old photos and parties. Last summer our baby girl turned 1 and we threw a little party for her. I made a small “smash cake” for her and then made cupcakes for the party guests.IMGP7014
To top the cake and make some height I revised her party invite to say Happy Birthday, printed it off and taped it to a paper straw, then stuck it in the cake. Simple!IMGP7018
The rest of the food was simple—Costco fruit, muffins, quiche and individually packaged snacks for the kid guests (juice boxes, string cheese, etc.).IMGP7046
I framed her birth announcement on the table for an easy decoration:IMGP7019 IMGP7022  IMGP7051
Quick thank you favors—lollipops tied with a thank you tag.IMGP7080     
My favorite easy detail were these cupcake flags from Target’s Sprtiz line. They have the best party items!IMGP7035   
All in all this girl was happy so I’d say it was a success! (She loves her daddy too ;)IMGP7037

Kids Room in a Closet

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When we moved to Minnesota the only house we could find that we liked had 3 bedrooms. We thought we could easily just move when we had another baby, but that ends up being a lot more complicated than I’d thought especially when we have a great location, great landlords, a house that is really nice, and great neighbors. Even when we looked at the possibility nothing seemed to be right, even when we were pregnant with baby #3.
Cue discussions of how to successfully house and sleep 3 children ages 3 and under. We really love the idea of kids sharing rooms… when they are older! There’s no way our 3 year old and 21 month-old would be sleeping through the night sharing a bunk bed, so we got creative. With a newborn we just had to have our other kids sleeping well! Once we realized the closet had circulating air we went for it.
Here is the closet of our son’s room, made-over for our baby girl Genevieve. Kids Room in Closet
The toddler bed fit perfectly (purchased at Target, similar here). I used the quilt I’d made for her crib (see here), added a couple touches from her baby nursery like the scalloped banner (see tutorial here), paper lantern, and some art, and voila – a closet room! She loves her space! The kids love to play in it too.Kids Room in Closet 2
We added a G to the door, a “vous etes mon soleil” print, a stuffed elephant, and the scalloped banner. We think it’s pretty cute and very functional.Kids Room in Closet 4

Vegetarian Chili (with Fritos & veggies)

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I love chili mixed with veggies. For some reason the fresh veggies with the heavier feel of chili tastes great (maybe it’s just the really cold Minnesota winters that make me crave chili?). This meal is great for my husband too because it feels hearty to him even though there’s no meat.IMG_3324.JPG (2)IMG_3327.JPG (2) I make my chili in the Crockpot, spoon it over Fritos and add diced tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, and either Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. Omit the yogurt/cheese and you have a great vegan dinner too.
Vegetarian Chili:
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 can kidney beans (including liquid in can)
  • 1 can white beans (including liquid in can)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes or diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 heaping tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp (or a bit less) cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Monkey Bread

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Next time you’re making rolls, bread, or pizza dough, save a little extra dough to make this delicious dessert. My husband loves anything with cinnamon so we have this a lot. Below is my basic bread/dough recipe.  IMGP4147 IMGP4151 IMGP4152
- 2 tablespoons or packets of yeast
- 2 cups warm water
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar (or sugar works)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tsp. salt
- 5 – 6 c. flour (when making bread it tastes great to use half white flour and half wheat flour)
Combine yeast and water in stand mixer. Mix until incorporated with dough hook. Add sugar to activate yeast and mix for 1 minute. Then add olive oil. After adding 1 cup of flour, add salt, and then continue with remainder of flour.
Once combined in mixer, remove and knead into a large ball with hands. Let rise on greased cookie sheet for approximately 30 minutes – 1 hour. Punch down dough and shape into pizza, rolls or bread loaves. Bake rolls at 350 for 10-15 minutes or pizza at 425 for 10 minutes then add toppings and bake for another 5-7 minutes.
For monkey bread, let dough rise, then punch down and form small balls. Dip the balls in melted butter and roll in a brown sugar and cinnamon mixture, placing in a bread pan after coated. Let rise again for 30 minutes and bake at 350 degrees for  about 15 minutes.