Friday, November 28, 2008

$42 For Oil + a $20 Turkey = Isn't Going to Happen

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While many of you may be relaxing in a turkey-induced stupor after your Thanksgiving celebrations, our family will getting together this Saturday.

Somehow I am going to manage fitting 22 people in my dining room/living room without having anyone sitting outside in the cold.


I'm just about ready. Only a few more things to pick up at Costco tomorrow (since I figured that might be the one safe place to go on the most-wretched-of-all-shopping-days).

And we are extremely blessed to have some lovely neighbors that are going to let us stuff some of the over-abundance of food we are preparing into their oven. We were planning on deep frying our turkey until I went to Walmart to buy the peanut oil and had to spend $42 JUST FOR THE OIL.

Seriously? I already spent $20 on the turkey and somehow spending $62 for a dead bird just doesn't seem right. So it's on to plan B. The oven baked birdie.

Not that I'm cheep or anything.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Brownie

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This video just makes me laugh out loud.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Teaching Times Tables

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We've been using the Times Tales program from Trigger Memory Systems the last few weeks and I'm not kidding you when I tell you it is AMAZING!! Both girls (age 7 and 6) have picked up the tricky multiplication and division facts in less than an hour and a half.

Times Tales uses simple pictures and stories to help kids remember the times tables (and also division facts). The tables it covers are the more difficult ones that kids tend to get stuck on: 3x6, 3x7, 3x8, 3x9, 4x6, 4x7, 4x8, 4x9, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8, 6x9, 7x7, 7x8, 7x9, 8x8, 8x9, 9x9.

We did part one of the program and the girls learned the simple stories in just a little more than 30 minutes. We reviewed the stories each day (for about 5-10 minutes) and then I pulled out some of the flash cards that were provided in the teacher's guide and they answered the questions in no time flat. Here's a little sample of what one of the stories looks like:

We spent about 45 minutes learning the second part of the program (again in 10 and 15 minute spurts) and again the girls are able to recall the facts quickly. Once they have the multiplication mastered, the facts just get turned around to division and they see how multiplication and division relate to each other.

The program we have is $29.95 and includes the following:

  • 2 Part Story Flipchart (double-sided with story on one side and just picture prompt on other)

  • Trigger Memory and regular flashcards (both multiplication and division)

  • Roll 'Em Cube Game

  • Instruction Manual and Memory Story Discussion Guide

  • Various Tests & Challenges

Trigger Memory also has some great clean and flip charts for kids: zone cleaning (whole house), bedroom cleaning, and laundry. They each are spiral bound and walk kids through the targeted cleaning areas step-by-step (see below for some examples). They are fully illustrated so if you have children that cannot read, they can still follow along and work on their own.

Hope some of this helps you out! Just wanted to share some things that are working for us!

Quick and Easy Makeup Tips

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I admit it. I never leave the house without makeup on. Truthfully, I barely leave my bedroom without it on.

I'm weird like that.

There was one occasion years ago, thankfully now in the deep recesses of my mind, where I had a HUGE afternoon moment of panic when I realized I had FORGOTTEN to put my makeup on. And we were going to be around thousands of people.

There was a lot of deep breathing involved to get me to an "okay" place.

But I digress. I started this post to share some quick and easy makeup tips with you and have added a picture tutorial to help visualize how to apply the tips.

Tip #1: Eyeshadow is essential. When applied correctly, it can bring depth to your eyes and really add that "wow" factor. Even more so, when several colors are applied directly underneath your eyebrow - or all over your forehead.

Tip #2: A little eyeliner goes a long way. And a little more eyeliner goes even farther. If you are looking for a more dramatic effect, apply liberally and really anywhere that you feel needs a little extra "something".

Tip #3: Blush is not just for the cheekbone area. Applying it to your eye region can really make a color "pop" for you. Of course, you do not want to neglect the rest of your face - your jaw line is also an important place to remember.

* Note: No child models were forced into wearing any makeup that they did not sneakily and willingly get into on their own accord. It is also entirely possible that the same makeup was tested on members of the canine family.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Sweet Treat for a Cold Night ~ Butterscotch Apple Crisp

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One of the great things about this recipe is that it's versatile. You can plan ahead and make it in your slow cooker or you can throw it together last minute and pop it in the oven.

Either way, don't count on the baking dish being full for long. Unless of course you possess more self-control than certain members of our house.

But I'm not mentioning any names (ahem).

Lately, Rick and I are more in the mood for it being a little more on the crispy side, so I've been using the oven, but either way, it's great!

  • 6 cups peeled and sliced tart apples (about 5 large)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 package (3 1/2 ounces) cook and serve butterscotch pudding mix
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cold butter or margarine

1. Place apples in a 3-quart slow cooker (or in bottom of a 9x13 baking dish).

2. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, pudding mix and cinnamon. Cut in butter until the mix resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the apples.

3. If using slow cooker, cover and cook on low for 5 hours or until the apples are tender. If using oven, bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the apples are tender and topping is browned.

Note: This recipe was submitted by me to Quick Cooking magazine in the fall of 2003 and was a $300 runner-up in one of their recipe contests.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Breaking the Law

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Want to know how I'll be spending my Monday morning? I'm sure you'll want to join me.

D-M-V. I'll be picking a number, lining up, waiting (and waiting and waiting) and begging for mercy.

My license apparently expired. SIX MONTHS AGO.


Here's to hoping I don't have to retake the written test. Lord help me if I do. But on the bright side, I have another shot at a cheesy picture to carry around for the next eight years.

The bigger question is - can you drive yourself to the DMV if your license is expired? *grins*

Star Wars A capella

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This video just cracks me up! If you are familiar with Star Wars at all and the theme song tunes to several of the movies, you should enjoy this video clip.

Friday, November 21, 2008

He's Just too Cute NOT to share

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We made this last week during our preschool time and since I'm limited to cutting and pasting at the moment before IE shuts down, I thought this little worm was too cute not to share. Definitely one worm I don't mind finding in my house!

This was done as an art activity when we talked about the letter "I" last week during our preschool time (if you are interested, you can read more about it on my other blog, Homeschool Creations).

We were blessed with plenty of toilet paper rolls around the house thanks to Zachary pulling all the toilet paper off the roll, stuffing it in the toilet and plugging the toilet for us. Just doing his part to help out with our art projects...

  1. Cut two toilet paper tubes into rings (4 rings each for a total of 8 rings).

  2. Fold 7 of the rings flat and then cut them in half. One ring needs to be left whole to use as the inchworms head.

  3. Have your child color the inchworm pieces if they would like.

  4. Staple the inchworm together so the his back is like little arches.

  5. Use a paper punch to put two holes at the top of the worm's head. Insert 1/4 of a pipe cleaner into the holes to use as antennas. Add googly eyes (because art just isn't art without a googly eye thrown in there somewhere).

  6. Admire your handiwork.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Finding my Groove

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In addition to my Internet Explorer being on the fritz with Blogger, finding time to blog has been a little more difficult lately.

Why? (thanks for asking)

- My hubby has been working looooong hours at his job, so time spent actually with my eyes on him is precious indeed. Today I actually had the opportunity to have a conversation with him that lasted more than 6.8 seconds. And I'm or hubby? Hmmm....

- Our house has taken on some new tenants of the human variety (and one of the canine too). My parents sold their house and have moved here. Until they find a house, our spare room and basement have become their temporary quarters. They know we are more than happy to have them here...and hopefully Rick's work will allow us to have a date (or two) now that we have live-in childcare!!

- and I just realized that Thanksgiving is only ONE WEEK AWAY people!! And dinner is at our house this year - so YIKES!! Rick's family is coming and it'll be fun - but I need to get crackin' on some planning!

The sum-up of it is - I'm just trying to figure out a new "groove" of sorts. One that incorporates all the new changes in the house and has wiggle room around these new bodies and schedules....and life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

For All the Time

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Zachary snuggled up on the couch next to me tonight and said "I love you. And I love Kaleb even when he hits me. And even the girls. I still love them. And I'll love you for all the time."

Just makes your heart melt...and almost forget...

...that he got waylaid playing hide and seek - with the new bag of cookies (but he was nice enough to offer one for Kaleb when caught).

...that naptime translates into no less than 2, 478 trips to the bathroom.

...that he got into my makeup and decided to make himself "beautiful" (and oh, yes I will be posting those pictures - don't you worry!).

...that somehow the blinds in the girls room mysteriously keep falling apart.

...all the general craziness that this little boy brings through our house daily.

Just have to love him!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


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I am still here but my computer is giving me some minor issues - it keeps shutting down my internet and giving me error messages and I'm getting too impatient to keep trying at the moment.

But I will be back.


Monday, November 17, 2008

The Christmas Countdown

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I have to admit it.

The fact that Christmas music has been playing on the radio and in store and we haven't even hit Thanksgiving yet, people, is a little disturbing to me.

It's not that I don't enjoy the holiday season, but could we just enjoy the fact that fall is really here? Get ourselves stuffed silly with turkey and pie and then pull out all the holiday cheer?

With that said, there has been much talk about Christmas presents around here. And since my hubby has already purchased his own present (ahem!!) the talk has turned to what is on my list. And while I have a few some new photoshop software...I'm curious as to what YOU all have on your lists.

Care to share?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Cutest Little Burgers!!

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These little burgers were so fun to make and as a bonus they made one little birthday girl very happy. McKenna's dinner wish was mini-cheeseburgers. Typically, I have taken the wonderfully easy route of the Costco freezer section to ease the birthday load.

So I was NOT happy to find out that they don't carry them anymore. I was forced to make them by hand (gasp!). But I did figure out a way to make the burger process much easier.

Mini Cheeseburgers

Here's what you'll need to get:

  • pack of 24 biscuits (I used Wonder homestyle Enriched biscuits)
  • 2 lbs of hamburger
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 Tbsp. ground flax seed (optional)
  • 8 cheese slices
  • sliced bread and butter pickles

Mix the 2 lbs of ground beef with 1-2 eggs and add in about 1/3 cup of bread crumbs (I usually use 2 pieces of our bread, break it into pieces and chop it up in our coffee grinder along with 1-2 Tbsp. of flax seed - sounds crazy, but it's great!).

Press the meat mixture into a baking dish (I use my Pampered Chef large bar pan). Once the mix is pressed in evenly to the pan, use a large spatula to evenly divide/score the meat into 24 squares. It makes it easier to separate the burgers if you make the marks in the meat now.

Bake the burgers at 350 for 25-30 minutes. While the meat is cooking, divide each cheese slice into fourths. After you remove the mini-burgers from the oven, drain the pan, top with a piece of cheese and a pickle slice and serve on a bun.

I'm telling you - they are very cute and get gobbled up!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm So Sorry...

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Had I know that it was so simple, I would have checked the box off much earlier!

I love getting comments from you all and being able to email you back, but for some of you all, the return email is "noreply-comment" and then I try to figure out where you all are - and I would love to visit your blogs too!

I posted a comment on my own blog tonight and realize I have done the same thing to you all, and all I had to do was check a little box "show my email address" in my user profile.

Sigh - my parts done now and rest assured it's safe - do you have your little box checked? I'll know if you comment! :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In My Rearview Mirror

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***We preface this posting with a notice that at no time was the vehicle in motion while the camera was in use. I repeat: NOT IN MOTION, aside from typical toddler actions and antics***

I spent the majority of my drive to the children's museum the other day looking at this in my rearview mirror:

From 11-2008

You, of course, are missing out on the noise factor of a little boy who pretended the entire way (even when we stopped for gas) that he was riding on a roller coaster.

Good times.

I was also thrilled to look out my window to this lovely sight - not for the coffee bar, but the price for a little pick-me-up for my van.

From 11-2008

Makes me want to just leave my van running for the fun of it or drive around the parking lot a few extra times just 'cause I can.

Wordless Wednesday: Sunset

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From 11-2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It Looked So Much Better on Paper

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Somehow I got suckered back into a subscription of Family Fun, and I feel it necessary to use at least ONE of the many wonderful crafty ideas that they provide in their magazine. For the month of October that would be the "Leaf Creatures" or some other creative title like that - that's just what we've been calling them 'round these parts.

Of course in not following the actual directions could be where we veered severely off course. Because I'm guessing there is a HUGE difference between tacky glue and Elmer's glue.

Especially when one's children are prone to using large quantities in an attempt to nail down anything that doesn't move. And the drying time on Elmer's glue can be days people - trust me.

Should you actually want to follow the directions, they are pretty simple: gather as much "nature" material from the great outdoors - leaves, sticks, rocks, bark, etc....and let your kids glue them together with tacky glue to make bizarre looking beautiful leaf creatures. Being able to find the googly eyes that you have somewhere in your house would also be most helpful. Because leaving your children alone with a bottle of glue while you run off on a wild search for them is really not such a good idea.

Not that I speak from experience or anything.

The kids had great fun climbing the fence to pick mini pine cones, dead-heading my flowers - it was a regular free-for-all in our backyard. They hunted and picked the best possible materials for their people.

From Drop Box

The glue came out and they all squeezed out at least half a bottle of glue...

From Collages

And then we set the odd little creatures on the counter to dry. And dry. And dry.

From Collages

Since Mommy couldn't find the eyes, we had to make due, but the kids were very excited with how they turned out - even if they weren't "magazine-worthy" they were excited they were going to be on Mommy's blog.
And really, that's all that's important, right?

Monday, November 10, 2008

I've Been Nominated

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Voting is now open for the Homeschool Blog Awards at The Homeschool Post - and my blog has been nominated!!

- Best Homeschool Mom
- Funniest Homeschooling Blog

My homeschooling Blog (Our Homeschool Creations) has also been nominated in the following categories:

- Best New Homeschooling Blog
- Best Super-Homeschooler

If you'd like to vote, just click on the voting graphic above and head on over to the Homeschool Post. Voting is open until November 21. I have no idea what prizes go along with the categories...but I know there are prizes involved. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm Escaping...

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Sometime this afternoon I'm heading a few hours away to enjoy a weekend retreat with the ladies from our church.

Staying up late.

Eating a meal without having to cut anyone's food or break up a fight.

Possibly shopping without interruption.

And spending some time with God....and I can't wait to see what He has in store for me.

Dishin' Up Some Comfort

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Hands down this is one of my all-time favorite, must-lick-the-bottom-of-the-casserole-dish recipes. It has all the comfort (and calories) one could possibly want in a meal and is fairly simple to make too.

Loaded BBQ Potato Casserole

Makes: 9x13 dish

Ingredients needed:
  • 6-8 slices of bacon, cooked
  • 4 oz. (1/2 package) cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar, divided
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 4 oz. can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 3 cups shredded BBQ pork
  • 3/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • mashed potatoes to serve 8-10

1. Cook the bacon and cut into small pieces. Prepare mashed potatoes and add in bacon pieces, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, chilies, salt and pepper, softened cream cheese and sour cream. Mix well and spread into bottom of 9x13 pan.

2. Sprinkle remaining 2 cups of cheddar on top of mashed potatoes.

3. Drop pork BBQ onto top of cheese and spread on top of casserole. Drizzle with BBQ sauce.

4. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes - til heated through.

I have several shortcuts that I use for this recipe: instant mashed potatoes (because after you add all the stuff in, you really can't tell they are instant), precooked bacon, and sometimes pork BBQ from the store. If I don't buy the BBQ, I usually put between 1 - 1 1/2 lbs. of frozen pork loin in the crock pot with about half a jar of BBQ sauce and let it cook on low all day (don't even have to thaw the meat). When the pork is cooked I use a fork to pull the meat apart and mix it in with all the juices in the crock pot and use it as the BBQ for the top.

This meal also freezes really well, so plan ahead and make two. I promise you are going to love this one!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fascinating, yet mildly creepy...

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I picked up a game at Walmart today since it was on sale (and I've been wanting to get it for awhile, so it was a great excuse!).

The game? 20 Questions. Fits in the palm of your hand and the little computer inside asks you a series of questions. You answer with either "yes, no, sometimes, or unknown" and it whittles down the possibilites to give you an answer that is more often than not correct.

And we've all been having with it all day long. Trying to stump it and yet oddly fascinated and mildly creeped out at how ACCURATE this little sucker can be.

I mean seriously. We tried to confuse it. But it figured out: Christmas tree, license plate, peacock, ceiling fan, moose, necklace, and a whole other slew of words.

It's like someone was secretly sitting in right near us and listening in on our conversation.

Granted we did fool it once. It couldn't come up with "baby". Instead it chose "butt." Not really sure how that happened, but we did get a good laugh out of it.

And then played again and again and again.

Cheap entertainment, I tell ya.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Getting a Makeover....

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Because I Think They are Cute

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Emealz - Easy Meals for Busy People!

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