Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tutorial: Love Bugs

This is our second day in a row sitting around home with nothing to do, so I thought I'd put together a craft for my kids. Here is what we came up with!

Love Bugs


1 pair baby tights in red, pink, or white (or use a pair of socks)
Needle and thread in matching color (or yarn)
4 google eyes
4 chenille stems (red or pink is ideal, we only had black)
6 small heart stickers
hot glue or craft glue


1) Cut the legs off the tights (if using tights)

2) Stuff the legs (or socks) 1/3 full with stuffing

3) Thread needle through tights just below stuffing, wrap several times around the body, then tie off (or, wrap yarn around body and tie in a knot)

4) Repeat 2 more times to make 3 body sections
5) Wrap chenille stems around body creases and fold ends for feet.  Cut off excess stem.
6) Hot glue google eyes and one heart sticker to head to make face

7) Hot glue remaining heart stickers to bent chenille stem remainders, then glue to head for antennae.

Voila!  All done.  My kids have been buzzing these around the house all morning and are very excited to have their very own Valentines. 

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Stuff I Love: Hoover Windtunnel

We received a new canister vacuum for our wedding. We loved it, it worked great, we were fans. Then we had kids. And started cleaning the basement. And we realised that lugging that stupid thing up and down the stairs was a nightmare.  Not to mention the fact that we have no storage closet to put it in.  And then, of course, the children got old enough to ride on the vacuum.  6 years after it arrived at our house, our old canister vacuum - hoses duct-taped together, insides filled with moldy food, leaking air and dust everywhere - made an unceremonious journey to the curb.  When the vacuum started grinding the food and spreading it around instead of actually cleaning the carpets, we finally caved in and used a date-night to go vacuum shopping.

We'd heard wonderful things about the Dyson vacuums, but when we saw the pricetag we knew it was way out of our league. Then the salesman showed us the Hoover Windtunnel vacuum.  It was literally half the price of the Dyson and though it didn't come with quite the same warranty, it had many of the same features.  It isn't a roller ball vacuum, but it is still very maneuverable.  It's light enough that I can lift it with just a couple of fingers, and all the hoses attach tightly, making it very easy to carry up and down stairs.  The filter is washable (so you save money on filters), you can see how efficiently it's picking up dirt and when it's time to empty the container.  The suction is amazing, and it's incredibly easy to disassemble and clean.  So even though we shouldn't be vacuuming up the enormous chunks of food the kids drop at lunch time, we can do it because we can scrub out the inside of the (bagless!!) container.  Also, the unique shape of the brush roller makes it very easy to remove wound up hair (which we shed a lot of in our house) so the brush never gets stuck.

So far there is nothing that we don't love about our Hoover Windtunnel.  Even the kids are excited to push it around and watch the container fill up with dirt.  If you're in the market for a new vacuum and don't want to spend $400, I'd definitely recommend having a look at this one!

This is the box

See how easily it comes apart and cleans?  LOVE it!

Note: I was in no way compensated for this post.  I purchased a product I love and wanted to share it with you.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Do you own an etsy shop or an online handmade store?
  Then be sure to join us for the new Saturday Shop Hop link up!  
Every Saturday you will have the chance to link up items in your shop for others to see.
  Each week will have a new theme so we can show off a diverse range of items!

This week for starters we will be linking up our main shop.  Just enter your shop's url in the linky tool below!

And feel free to grab a button - the more people who link up, the better exposure for us all!

Don't forget to visit your friends and show them some love.  Thanks!

Shop Hop
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Getting It Together

I've spent the last year at least feeling like a total mess.  The house is always a disaster, the kids are always cranky, and I'm always exhausted.  I made one of my goals for the new year (broken into several small goals) "getting it together" this year.  Mentally, spiritually, physically, financially, domestically - I just want to be on top of things.  I'm not looking to be Supermom here - I just don't want to be the mom with dirty, mismatched clothes, bags under my eyes, a condemnable house and screaming, flailing kids tucked under each arm as I leave the store in shame anymore.  When I had newborns, I had an excuse - I'm still getting used to having a baby (or two, or three).  But my youngest is 14 months old now.  Time to pull yourself together, Woman!

I'm a neat freak by nature.  I get very very stressed when I don't have all my ducks in a row.  I really like to be organized. The trouble is, no matter how many organizational tutorials I happen to have published on Contributor Network or Socials Moms, I don't really know how to be organized (but go read my stuff anyway...). 

This is where Pinterest and an old dresser door came in handy.  I'm the sort of person who lives and breathes by to-do lists.  On any given day, I have sticky notes all over my house.  Without them I have no idea what needs to be done that day, what I need to buy at the store, or even what my kids' names are (ok, I'm not that bad - usually).  My brain is just that scattered.  However, sticky notes aren't a very efficient way to track my to-dos.  They keep getting lost, or wet, or chewed on.  What I needed was a sturdy, reusable to-do list that would follow me around the house and wouldn't disappear the second I turned my back.

Then I got my personal laminater in the mail.  Pretty sure I'm obsessed.  Keep an eye out for a review soon.  And it gave me an idea.  What if I made a laminated 8.5x11" to-do list that I could scribble all over with a dry erase marker and then wipe clean to start over the next day?  I LOVE IT!  I rushed to my Pinterest boards and came up with this amazing organizing site.  I printed out her personal daily docket (trying to customize just made my head hurt) and it's been working like a charm!!  It breaks down the daily chores into tiny little bite-size tasks, but also leaves room to write down the incidentals of the day (like meal plans, blog ideas, ministry projects) and even has a slot to track your working out and water intake.  The site also offers shopping lists, chore charts, cleaning lists (daily/weekly and monthly!) and more - all easily downloadable and printable.  Amazing.  My house has quickly gone from disaster area to relatively tidy.  The sink is usually empty of dishes.  The laundry has been broken down from 1 8-load marathon day to a manageable 1-load-a-day schedule.  The floor gets swept, the counter tops are wiped, and we do a total 'reset' of the house (toys picked up, table cleared, etc) before nap time and before bedtime each night.  I cannot tell you how much calmer I am living in a tidier house.  The "stuff" and mess don't stress me out, so I have more energy to spend lovingly with my kids.  No more cranky Mommy!

If you'd like to attack your to-dos from a slightly more Biblical but slightly less concise standpoint, this website has great weekly and daily planners (I also laminated this daily planner - but my marker is too fat for its slots :p).   

In terms of the long-term organization of the house, I've found this site to be most helpful.  It offers a 12 month downloadable calendar with super quick and simple tasks to complete each day of the year.  Tasks can be as easy as "declutter a shelf" or "wipe down fridge" and if you keep on top of them, your house will stay tidy and organized year round!  I think I can handle that.  I tend to find myself thinking "oh man, I need to hire a sitter for a week so I can clean this house top to bottom" - but in just 15 minutes a day my house is already starting to shape up nicely.  A Bowl Full of Lemons also offers a 21 day organizing challenge to help you tackle some of the most common clutter catchers in the house.  Several of my friends have completed the challenge with great success. 

As for the dresser door, well, take a look!

The dresser we bought (second hand) for our oldest had a weird hinged door on the front that we found useless and in-the-way.  We removed it and it has been sitting around our house for years.  I always thought "this might come in handy some day" but never knew what for.  One day I found myself craving a pretty 'weekly planner' board for my kitchen - somewhere I could keep track of the week's menus and chores.  I pulled out the dresser door with its lovely beadboard look, sanded and painted it, stuck on some adhesive dry-erase vinyl, and stenciled on some letters. Voila!  Brand new weekly planner that sits right by my stove so I always know what to cook and what to clean/water/pay.  Some day I'll get around to adding a verse to the top - someday...

So - that's been my journey thus far toward "getting it together" in 2012.  I've always thought it was a hopeless battle because the changes I'd need to make to get organized seemed so HUGE.  But with a couple of helpful tools and some tiny tweaks to my routine it's really been so much easier than I ever imagined.

I hope that some of these resources will be useful to you, too.  And if you have any brilliant sites or tips to share, please feel free to leave a comment!

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Think Thinner Thursday Link Up

It's that time again! Time to share your posts - anything about diet, fitness, health, weight or the like is welcome!

For those of you following along with the 12 week health makeover, you know that this week we are working on de-cluttering our lives.  Here's what I worked on today:

Not only did I do about 8 loads of laundry, I cleared and washed the kitchen counters, loaded and unloaded and re-loaded the dishwasher.  I sorted the toys into boxes (and taped pictures of the contents on the outside so that supposedly the boys can help me keep them sorted), tidied away their rooms and moved some odds and ends back to their homes.  My big accomplishment, however, was tackling the giant wreck we call the foyer.  It started out looking a little like this:

Too many coats, shoes everywhere, misc decorations strewn about and a huge pile of junk waiting to be taken downstairs (I'm working on getting a pretty basket for that).  And now it looks a lot more like this:

Coats weeded and arranged by owner.  Shoes lined up by wearer.  Each person's misc items on the shelf above his/her coats.  SO much better!  It's going to be a lot more pleasant to come home to that room - esp if I can keep it that way.

So how has your week gone?  Are you working out?  Did you find some new, amazing, scrumptious healthy meal to make?  Are you working on mental health first and foremost?  Link up and let us know what you're doing to get healthy!

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Recipe Of The Week: Blueberry Lemon Muffins

My little guy just turned 4 yesterday. Because it was a crazy school day (and we'd been celebrating all week), I made him heart shaped toast for breakfast. However, my usual birthday-morning treat for the kids is a big tray full of these delicious muffins. Definitely one of our family favorite (and very easy to stick a candle or two in).

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour (or 2 cups rice flour)
1 cup whole wheat flour (or 1 cup potato starch + 1 tsp xanthan gum)
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk
2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
zest plus juice of 1/3 small lemon

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add eggs, oil, milk and lemon. Mix until just moist. Fold in blueberries. Grease 18 muffin cups and fill 3/4 full with batter. Top muffins with another sprinkle of sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
*note: theses are also excellent substituting frozen mixes berries for the blueberries

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Hunger Line

As a mom in the first-world, it seems a little ridiculous that I've ever been worried about my children being "too thin."

Yes, when my first son was born, we had some feeding issues, and he looked like this for a couple of weeks:
And my second son wasn't even on the weight charts until he was 2 (he's a whopping 2% right now and the velcro on his size 3 diapers overlaps when fastened).  But my kids are healthy.  They have the option to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day.  They get plenty of nutrients.  They're just skinny because they inherited their metabolisms from their daddy who can eat 4000 cal a day and never gain a pound.

Then I came across pictures like this:
And my heart broke.  My heart broke for these poor malnourished children who make my bottom-of-the-weight-chart kids look like little chunks.  My heart broke for their mothers and fathers who are powerless to help them.  I think about how much worrying I did for my kids who had every opportunity to eat as much as they want.  I cannot even fathom knowing that my children faced starvation and being unable to provide.

My heart has been heavy for these children for a long while now, but I wasn't quite sure how best to help.  I've donated to various charities when I've had some extra funds, but it just didn't feel like enough.  Then one night when I couldn't sleep, I was struck by the idea of using my shops to help these babies.  So I've created The Hunger Line - a new line of products in each of my shops dedicated to chipping away at the huge hunger epidemic.

100% of profits from all items in the Hunger Line will go toward charities (like Feed the Children, World Vision, Food for Africa or The Hunger Site) dedicated to feeding children around the world who are at risk of starvation.

So, what's in the lines?  Here's what you can look for:

At my shop Mimi Baby Boutique, you'll find gorgeous glass bead bracelets emblazoned with the word "Hunger" on them.  Right now I'm offering white lettering, but will be adding gold and silver letter beads soon.

At Big Red Kite I have a line of Hunger Bears.  These soft plush bears use upcycled materials and come in three sizes - Bitty, Medium and Large.  The medium and large bears are also embroidered with the slogan "Hunger."

Will you help me in my fight to feed the children?  Keep an eye out at the shops as new items will be added frequently.  And if you are willing to help me get the word out, would you share this post on your social media or add this button to your blog?

Thanks you so much for helping me to take action on what's been weighing on my heart for so long.  Appreciate you all!

The Hunger Line

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