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First step to keeping my life organized is planning out my meals, so here’s the menu for the week! We are currently cleaning out the freezer to sell it before the big move, so as much as we can cook from there the better (Remember, we buy meat from local farms in bulk, by the animal, so there’s some cuts left in there to use up!)

Monday: Chicken fried cube steaks with roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes

Tuesday: Salmon with swiss chard and walnut pesto over barley

Wednesday: Grilled chicken breasts with leek and bacon risotto

Thursday: Smoker day! We will smoke all the hams and beef roasts in the freezer to have smoked meat on hand in the small freezer, and sell off the smoker. Served with whatever veg is in the fridge.

Friday: Grilled cheese bar with tomato soup (I’ll bake up some homemade bread earlier in the week)

Saturday: Raid the fridge for leftovers!

Sunday: Trunk or Treat at church so I’ll leave this open 😉

What are you having this week?? Any tips to clean out all the food in the house before a big move without starving in the meantime??

So it’s been a few years since I have written on the blog (or accessed the dashboard to do so….holy moly it looks intimidating) but it’s time for my triumphant return. First, let’s take a look back on some things that have happened since my disappearance, shall we?

  1. A huge reason why I stepped away in the first place was a little guy I was growing. Remember that birthday party I didn’t have the heart to do much for? It was because I was so.sick all the time. Funny how I went as a house for Halloween that year…I was perhaps hiding a bit of a bump behind it all 😉  After the first few weeks of the pregnancy, things did improve dramatically. Baby Heath arrived in June 2014. He’s a little firecracker now of course.img_1698
  2. While pregnant with Heath, we of course took on the kitchen renovation. And by pregnant, I mean 9 months along. I had called and asked for some shelving to organize the kitchen a little in a nesting rage…and that night the husband starting knocking out  walls. Anyway, it turned out gorgeous.
  3. We’ve done plenty of other house projects too, including both kids rooms, front door, and backyard. Maybe I’ll write about them one day. Probably not.

    4. I’ve still been cooking and sewing and schooling nonstop throughout it all.

    5. And we have done a few ridiculous birthday parties…12238248_10107734921237651_4402035916461737501_o6. As well as epic Halloween costumes…

    The biggest news of all though is what is yet to come, and the reason for my return to the blogisphere. We are embarking on the next huge chapter of our lives–a move to IRELAND! What?!? So in an effort to document that journey, I am back!

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I was on a cruise ship all last week so now it’s time to get back to reality!!

Here’s our plan for the week:

Monday: Beef Bolognese with Linguine (I’ll freeze leftover sauce to make a quick future meal)

Tuesday:  Charlotte’s new ballet class is now in the evening, and this week is also T-Ball registration after ballet…ugh, busy night.  Back to the crock pot for help.  Pesto Ranch Chicken Thighs (as suggested by a friend)  with homemade ranch seasoning mix.  I’ll serve with steamed broccoli and golden skillet potatoes, all prepped in advance, of course.

Wednesday:  Mongolian Beef with Bok Choy, originally inspired by this but with tons of substitutions.  I should write a new version perhaps.  Served over brown rice.

Thursday:  Doug informed me that his work is having him go deep sea fishing and out to dinner.  Seems a bit suspicious, but elaborate enough that I’ll just go with it.  The kiddos and I will have Cheese Ravioli with Mushrooms and Spinach.

Friday:  Date night!

Saturday:  Lamb Meatballs with Toasted Orzo (and a vegetable to be determined by whatever farmers market I scout in the morning).  Side note, this is the only meal this week involving the oven on purpose since mine caught fire.  We are taking our time to replace it apparently…anyway, hopefully I can adapt to stovetop.

What are you having this week?

Last minute as always, family pajamas are complete.  Charlotte gets a twirly nightgown, Dexter has some cozy pants (he already has a long sleeve red shirt to complete the look), Daddy got some basic pants, and Mommy got some pants with a yoga waist.  All ready for tonight!

 

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And a look through the years….

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Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

 

So after a fun trick or treating night with dear friends,

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we ended up with a good amount of candy.  We don’t eat a whole lot of candy around here so this year we decided to have some fun with it! Instead of letting it sit in a bowl and collect dust until the next “candy season,” we did some art and experiments with it all.

First we dumped it all out on the kitchen floor and sorted it.

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Starr Lily sorted her “dulces” based on color, or type, or shape.  We found candies that had S’s on them (her new favorite letter) and made a separate pile for all the skittles.

Next we practiced some cutting,

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and more sorting,

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and pouring.

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Then, we observed.

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Within a few seconds of adding water, we had some awesome colors! And because she put different colors into the same bowl, they started blending! It looked really cool. I pulled out the paintbrushes and some paper and she painted with those colors for a little while, but the blending was what really captured her attention.

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Eventually she poured them all into the same bowl, but she made this little work of art first.

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Isn’t it adorable?  Ha! I think all her art works are great. But seriously though, look at how focused she was at getting those little papers to stick with her skittles paint!

I’m not sure what else we”ll do with the other candy.  Maybe see if they float or not? Talk about density? Maybe cut some open and dissect them with tweezers and other pincer tools? Either way, I think she’ll enjoy playing with them.

Have you done fun experiments with candy? I’d love to hear what you did.

We have a tradition of going all out for Halloween.  Now I’m not a big fan of haunted mansions and zombies and the like, but enjoy the chance to really play an awesome game of dress up.  It started back in college when we did some pretty epic entries into Trunk or Treat at our church, and there was a bit of a lull post college/pre kids when we could only convince the dogs to dress up so much, but then kids arrive and we were allowed to go crazy again.

So far, we’ve been a bluebird in a forest, King Kong and the Empire State Building, Hey Diddle Diddle, and Hansel and Gretel (along with the witch, of course).

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This year, we decided to include the dog and he was the original inspiration.  You see, I know Doug loves a good project, so I thought making the dog talk would be right up his alley, and it was….but then he just didn’t have enough time and ran into some issues and the talking dog never happened.  The rest of the costume hopefully made up for it.

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We love a good theme, but something a little out of the box when possible.  It seems a waste to sew up costumes that I can just go to the store and buy, right?  Luckily our kiddos are still young enough that they don’t demand much of a say, plus they just love dress up so are happy to participate in any costume.

IMG_1106IMG_1111First I made Kevin the Snipe.  This was the one that required the most sewing and work on my part and I wanted to get it out of the way.  I started off with a basic fleece costume (there was an elastic band under the bum, raglan sleeves that I shortened, and I colorblocked it to make it match the feathers I had planned).  After I had the basic structure, I hand stitched feather boas over it to match the inspiration.  I included a few craft feathers that were stitched/hot glued for the accent colors, too.  For the hood, I started with the hood from the pattern, then added yellow fleece for around the eyes, cut up some ping pong balls, and glued them in with some felt.  I used some pipe cleaners with feathers attached for the crest and a sheet of yellow foam for the bill (painted orange at the end).  For some structure, I attached a baseball cap underneath and a pipe cleaner inside to help keep the bill from going more mask.  It still flopped a little, but it didn’t bother her at all.

IMG_1108  IMG_1117Dexter became Russell, the Wilderness Explorer Scout.  We started with a thrifted yellow shirt and a matching hat found at a local outlet store.  I made the vest and bandanna, and printed out the WE logo on some iron on paper to attach to the hat, flag, and shirt.  The flag is just felt on a stick, Doug used carpet pads with badge printouts for the sash, I made the little bead thing he had in the pictures out of felt and a shoelace.  Then we just decorated his backpack with lots of stuff on carabiners.

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Mr. Fredrickson came together pretty easily with a thrifted jacket, bowtie, and cane but then we ran into a slight roadblock with the hair.  You see, Doug doesn’t have hair so we couldn’t just spray his white or something, and old man wigs are very hard to come by.  I did the best I could to make him a nice head of white hair using some headband webbing and felt for the under-structure and craft fur for the hair.  I think it gets the point across….

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Last, the Up House.  Pretty essential part of the whole costume since it definitely doesn’t have the most recognizable characters.  Doug built a house facade out of some craft wood and painted it up.  We decided that just the front of the house was enough (and would make my life a little easier, too).  It had some buckles to attach around my neck, then we just tied some balloons on.

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Dug the Dog was all set as is, and we were ready to set out!

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Anyone else love a good family theme?

A few weeks ago, Drea and I got to meet up in Daytona for a mini vacation.  Like any rational people planning for a trip with two small kiddos a piece, we decided to sew matching dresses for the girls.  We went with the Sunshine Dress and picked out fabric, but living far away from each other proved to be a slight issue so we ended up using similar fabrics instead.

 

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Yeah, Charlotte is bigger than Starr Lily (despite being 3 months younger) and I sewed up a smaller dress.  I’m a rebel like that.

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I had purchased extra fabric at the time just in case so I decided to make it into a top for her for KCW.

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She insisted on wearing her super hero cape for pictures.

She doesn’t have too many cute tops (lots of stained t shirts, though…) so I thought a top might be more useful than another dress….so she could really get her play on…

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I used some buttons I found in my Grandmother’s stash….you can’t tell, but they are the perfect color taupe to match the one in the plaid…slight victory since I tried to match that in the store and was unsuccessful.

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One completed project done….maybe I can whip up something for the boy tomorrow.

And today was the first day that it felt a little bit like it might be fall.  Not necessarily sweater weather, but you-could-wear-a-sweater-and-not-die weather.  Ah, Florida.

How is Kid’s Clothes Week going where you are?

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Working nicely on All About Reading.  They very much enjoy the craft sheets from My Book of Letters.

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Emmit always chills out right here during school.

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Love that they have their drinks right next to them!

Handwriting Without Tears in action.

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Right Start Math….the interesting part is how well Dexter can work with what’s going on around him….zoom out….

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Obviously, Char is plotting ways she can get the toys to attack Dex, without his noticing…

An animal picnic?

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Story cards for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (printables from here).  I helped him put them in order this time, but throughout the week he did them by himself.

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We’re Going on Bear Hunt board game, also from Homeschoolcreations.com.

Dexter and Charlotte are both in LOVE with the book this week.  They want me to read it a few times, multiple times a day.  The board game came out again as a reward after dinner/clean up and before bed.

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Deep in thought Dex
Char still plotting…

Charlotte has her counting bears and dots while Dexter matches the words to the picture.  He did it with no help, just used the beginning sound in each word to find the first letter.IMG_0842

Clipping the mini clothespins on the first letter of each word.

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A hula hoop sectioned off a portion of the yard, and they used their magnifying glasses to get a close look at the natural community there.

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Baking mini pizzas (part of science…learning about the community).  We also went on a nature hike and made an entry in our science journal for the week, and talked about different people who have different roles in the community (like firefighters, chefs, cashiers, etc).

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Char told the toys Dex should hang around since he know his letters.

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All About Reading letter N.  Charlotte looks like she might be trying to cheat.  We also got through letter O this week.

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A sensory box for We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  I used white beans, made grass by stapling cut foam sheets onto an uncut piece, forest from our train trees, snow from some random sparkly balls, the river is hair gel (double bagged), mud is play dough, and the cave is a mini bilibo.  We did have a brown bear but it went missing for a few days…we found it and replaced the polar bear.  They had fun acting out the story with their fingers (I let them watch the story on You Tube).

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so cute!

A Right Start Math game.  Games are a huge part of the curriculum and he loves them all.

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Dexter practicing entering numbers on the abacus by looking at the printed number.  I had Charlotte pick a number for him, bingo style, and try to call it out (so she got practice orienting them, and identifying them).  Numbers are from Confessions of a Homeschooler printables, mod podged onto milk bottle caps.

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Mmm, how do I get some here?

Some bear claw cookies.  Just basic chocolate drop cookies with slivered almonds stuck in them.

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We are definitely doing these soon!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt!  On Friday, to end the week rowing the book, we had some friends over to go on a bear hunt together.  They all had a blast!

Charlotte models the homemade binoculars….toilet paper rolls, tape, and yarn.

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Dex looks like he’s ready to find some bears.

Long Wavy Grass….

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A Deep Cold River

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Thick Oozy Mud

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A big dark forest

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Must be a fun texture! I want the recipe.

Swirling Whirling Snowstorm (made from Insta Snow…big hit)

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Did they all fit in there?

A dark gloomy cave

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We’re not going on a bear hunt again!

(Though they did….quite a few more times)

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adorable!

A bear mask craft after the hunt.  We also had a themed lunch, with spinach noodles for the grass, water for river, chocolate avocado pudding for mud, broccoli trees with ranch for the forest, cottage cheese snow, and rolls with bear cookies inside for the cave.

They definitely loved school this week!!

We recently guest posted on Montessori Mischief  and shared how I set up my little Montessori corner for Starr Lily.  Just in case you missed it, here it is!

When I first thought about setting up our playroom I knew I wanted some sort of Montessori influence. My first real exposure to a Montessori classroom (besides what I read in college) was from my nieces and nephews. They attended a wonderful little school and I was lucky enough to observe them a few times. I loved the structure of the room and I also love the idea of having kids work on subjects that they enjoy, at their own pace – it just makes good sense to me. I knew I wanted to let Starr Lil’s play with some works at home.  Nothing too formal, but definitely leaning towards Montessori. So, where to start?!

Have you tried looking up lessons on Pinterest? Oh my! So much information was so overwhelming.  I wanted to do it all, the pink tower, the mats, the spindle boxes, the geography shelves.  But I didn’t want to buy more stuff and didn’t know how to get organized. Then I remembered I have a wonderful resource right here! I emailed Aubrey and asked her how to get started. She was super helpful and by the end of the week I had a nice little set up!

It has changed in the last few weeks, but here is what we currently have on our shelves.

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Pouring tray: This is one of Starr Lily’s favorites. She loves testing just how much water can fit into those little cups. One day I came in to see her pouring water in the tray. She figured out how those handles work (or don’t) real quick! I don’t always do it the Montessori way with holding the pitcher just so, but she does have fun pouring and then wiping up her puddles. I might change up from water to rice or something else soon. The little pitcher is our creamer and the cups are from Ikea.

Bug puzzle: Now that she has her own little garden, Morgan has introduced Starr Lily to bugs and she loves them! She is very competent at the puzzle so doesn’t reach for it too often.  Lately she’s been placing the puzzle pieces in the wrong slot and asks me if that is where they belong.  With a big giggle and a “noooooo, mami!” she will eventually place it in the right spot.

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Little bag tray: A few months ago Starr Lil’s was fascinated with zippers. Anything that had a zipper would get zipped and unzipped and rezipped, over and over again. A few of the little bags here have zippers. Others have snaps that she can’t quite close yet. I also have an old wallet of mine since she loves my real wallet too.  I put some fun little items in her bags. Sometimes I’ll place things that start with the littler M, or P and talk about the sounds they make. She especially likes finding those little surprises.

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I do wish I lived next-door to Drea so that she could teach my kids Spanish….sigh….

Letter puzzles: These letters are part of a Spanish puzzle set I found online. I pulled out the letters c, m, p, t, a.  Aubrey suggested starting with this grouping of letters first.  Once she has these sounds down she can begin forming basic words: mat, map, cat, etc.

Oh, I should mention that I speak to Starr Lil’s in Spanish. She knows plenty of English, but whenever possible I try to make all her works bilingual as well. This doesn’t always flow smoothly, but it’s definitely worth it.

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so cute!! Love the mortar and pestle!

Eggshell tray: I borrowed this idea from Aubrey! Her post on smashing eggshells inspired us to save some shells and grind them up for our garden.  It is one of the trays that gets the most use. Starr Lily (and friends) just love to take the shells and smash, smash, smash! It must be in the texture.

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It can get a bit messy, but that let’s us use our practical life skills.  Sweeping with her little broom and dust pan is a favorite activity!

Part 2 coming soon! Do you use Montessori works with your littles?

So I did cook this past week, but tried to be more flexible than usual.  I am trying to not buy foods that NEED to be eaten on certain days, and making meals out of mostly pantry items.  Here’s what we had…

Monday: Homemade Pizza, Focaccia, and Caesar salad (focaccia and pizza dough were from rtisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day). I used some tomatoes, caramelized onion, fresh basil, and slivered garlic to top the pizza, along with marinara and mozzarella. Super yum.  Side note, someone needs to teach me how to use a pizza peel.  And give me a pizza peel.

Tuesday: Doug and I worked pretty late ripping up tile. My mom watched the kiddos and sent over some dinner (chicken and spaghetti, a childhood fave)

Wednesday: Thai style Stir fried Noodles with Chicken and Broccoli, from America’s Test Kitchen.

Thursday: Lasagna with Goat Cheese and Chicken Sausage, from Barefoot Contessa. With a salad. Does anyone else have dinner party at Ina’s on their bucket list?

Friday: Doug had man night with the guys and had burgers with them, so the kids and I had leftover lasagna. I did whip up some vegan black bean brownies and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, with coffee, for the wives to hang out during guy night.

Saturday: Tofu Ramen Soup with Spinach and Cremini Mushrooms. Pretty much every food item Doug hates most in life but he had seconds. Just like last time I served it.

Sunday: Father’s Day cookout at my brothers house. I provided a blueberry and romaine salad with goat cheese, homemade yogurt dressing and candied almonds. All made up based on what was available in the fridge.

This week I have lots more flexibility planned, but the following should make an appearance….

Spinach and Mushroom Ravioli with garlic bread
Eggplant Parmigiana and salad
Pork Carnitas with wheat tortillas
Shrimp Fried Rice
Homemade pizza
Buffalo Wings with some sort of blue cheese/celery/romaine/tomato salad
What did you guys have? What do meals look like during a remodel for you?