Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Great Freebies! Customizable worksheets for homeschoolers!

Great FREE resource for all levels of hand writing practice in cursive or print, math, geography, puzzles, English language and more!!

For handwriting practise you can trace or copy whatever you type in!  I am using this for memory verses for my kids.  My 2nd grader will copy, meaning he will see it printed above in a large font and have the lines printed out where he copies it, and my 4 year old will trace it.  For tracing it prints it out lightly on a large line sheet like most kindergarten worksheets.  It is a great way to have your little one write letters to family members, practise their cursive or printing, and practise memory verses at the same time!  It has a lot of features like pre writing work sheets, alphabet worksheets, scissor practise worksheets and more.  The best part is that each sheet is customizable! 

For math and geography there are countless sheets as well as puzzles of every kind.  These would be great for roadtrips.  I am looking forward to using this a lot!  Hope you enjoy it!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Homeschool - Not sure where to start? Here are some GREAT resources to help you out.

I don't know about you but I feel like we just started summer and already it is time to order next years curriculum!  I have only been homeschooling for one year and we used a state funded online school at home program.  I wasn't sure where to start so that was a great place to start, but now I know what I like and didn't like and what we want to try doing differently this year. I was so overwhelmed at all the choices and all the different philosophies I needed a good place to start. 

Hearing me talk about my overwhelmedness (real word? I am going to go with it) my friend lent me a book called 100 Top Picks for Homeschool  Curriculum by Cathy Duffy.  What a GREAT GREAT book!  It is the perfect place to look at all the philosophies and all the curriculum options with in that school of thought.  It has a quiz to help you narrow down your choices as to what method you would like as well as your child's learning style and descriptions on all the various curriculum's for those methods and learning styles.  SO SO SO helpful.  I was so new I didn't even know what questions to ask.  I just knew I was lost.  I highly recommend starting here. 

From there here are a few other resources you may be interested in... - This is a really cool online tool  from Cathy Duffy as well to help you see what is best for you and links straight into that searches with one click a lot of the used and new sites for curriculum buying like EBAY, CBD, Amazon and a ton of others. - This is for those of you interested in the Charlotte Mason method.  It is an incredible resource for where to begin, curriculum options, what the philosophy entails, etc... I am relying on this heavily myself.  After going through the Cathy Duffy book above I found out I was interested in the Charlotte Mason method which is a totally different style of homeschool than the more traditional worksheet driven styles.  Check it out.  I am really excited to try this method this year with my wiggle worm going into 2nd grade. - This is a really helpful place to check out more information and reviews on curriculum you think you might be interested in. - is the site for christian book distributors a great site for deals on Christian homeschool curriculum, books, Bible classes, as well as  anything a christian book store would sell. 

Once you have chosen a curriculum try,, or a new favorite which is a classified site dedicated to homeschoolers  that is like Craigslist with ads straight from the sellers themselves. 

I hope this was a help for you.  Have any other great resources, freebies, etc?  Send me a comment or email me directly from the email me link.  Thanks!  Hope you get all your homeschool stuff sorted soon so you can go enjoy the rest of summer!  Good luck to you! 


Friday, June 24, 2011

The dog days of summer are here!

We have been loving our summer so far!  Camping, riding in the side by side, horseback riding, reorganizing, decluttering, playing in the fountains at the city park, and pool time!  We have switched internet providers and are having some trouble with internet so I am posting less frequent and also enjoying the break from time consuming projects as I play with the kids.  But I will have some fabulous out door projects to share soon!  I am currently working on overhauling a garage full of stuff, reorganizing the unfinished basement which has become a haven for all homeless things and unpacked boxes from our fall move here, and makeing over an old beat  up outdoor furniture set.  When it is all done the result will be fun and dramatic so I will be sure to share.  Thanks loyal readers for your support even thought the posts won't be as frequent as they previously were.  I still looking forward to getting some crafty, creative things done and shared as I get some time.  PS I have a make it yourself yogurt tutorial coming up soon!  Happy summer.  Hope you get outside with your family and make the most of it! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

DIY- Kids art station

I wanted to show you guys my art station we created in the unfinished basement to give the kids a place to craft.  As you know I have 4 kids, but this was made for the two oldest who are now 4 and 6.  I may have been a little off as to how much autonomy they could handle at that age but it is still really fun.  It isn't perfect as we were working with out any kind of budget it had to be from what we already had with just a little elbow grease.  For an unfinished basement though it sure adds some style and fun.
 Here is what we did.  First my husband built a long narrow table from wood scraps we had laying around and painted it black.  Then we mounted it to the back wall with a cleat.  The next thing I did was to create a nice back drop for the back wall with out paint since we were short on money and time.  I simply used a piece of fabric, rolled the edges under till I had a nice clean line and used upholstery tacks I had lying around to attach it to the wall. 
I then added a shelf on each side under a name plaque I created with precut letters and craft store signs.  On the shelf I put jars of glitter, stamps, paper punches, baby food jars filled with beads and a baby food jar full of glitter pens, as well as few other crafty supplies.  
On the table itself I lined up several tin cans that I washed well and covered with scraps of scrapbook paper.  I used cowboy type patters for my son and I used pink girly papers for my daughters.  Inside each can I put colored pencils, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, glue sticks, and paint brushes.  Originally I had in mind to mount a metal strip under the shelf and use magnets attached with a hot glue gun to the cans to attach them to the metal strip.  I haven't found the right thrifted material for that yet.  The magnets are in place, but we are waiting on the metal strip till I see just the right thing.  The board in the middle just acts as a decorative accent and is a left over scrap of paneling cut to size, spray painted and then covered with 4 squares of scrap paper using spray adhesive.  You could add binder clips hung on small nails to  make it a display for their art work.

My kids are thoroughly enjoying this space only it is not quite as clean as it all was this first day.  Looking at this picture inspires me to get on them to get it all organized just so again.  They love it and I love the time it allows me to work on things while they are entertained, and the creativity it fosters.  Let me know if you make one!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sorry I have been AWOL- went camping!

Sorry I haven't posted for a few days!  I am usually a pretty regular every day or so poster, but we took some family time to go camping over Fathers Day weekend.  We headed to the Sand dunes with my parents here in Colorado and then up to my parents land to do some camping and playing.  I will post some photos soon, but of course they are all taken with my iphone since I left my camera in the RV!  That is what happens when you are wrangling 4 kids in windy,sandy conditions,  If you are me anyway.  Oh well. 

We had a great time.  The sand dunes are amazing.  It is like staring at the Mohave desert with out the heat.  It was the strangest sight!  We didn't hike it as the kids just wanted to play in the stream at the bottom and build sandcastles.  I must admit battling the climb to the top with 4 young kids wind and blowing sand in the chilly morning air did not seem like a fun plan.  So the kids had a great time and we enjoyed the family time.  We had a lot of fun riding on my parents side by side (like a Rhino or Razor) on their acreage in the mountains and visiting around the fire pit minus the fire because of all the wildfires we have been having lately. 

What did you guys do for fathers day?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wellness wednesday - FAT - The good, the bad, and the ugly!

Sorry if you are wondering why my wellness Wednesday post is so late today.  It is because I was out getting my exercise at the park with the kids this morning and just now got back from my p90X work out.  Phew!! A lot of running around today! Anyway, I am here. I want to talk about fat.  Don't worry I am not just going to say not to eat it!

Fat can actually be good for you!  That's right, your body needs it.  When discussing good fat Laurie Tansman, MS, RD, CDN, a nutritionist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York said "It not only plays a vital role in the health of the membrane of every cell in our body, it also helps protect us from a number of key health threats,".  Unfortunately I am not talking about your chili cheese fries or that "Big Mac".  Saturated fats like those from dairy and animal products are still to be avoided.  As are any partially hydrogenated oils (candy bars, hot cocoa, processed foods), and trans fats which are artificial man made fats (think krispy creme doughnuts and most margarine's).  These fats are highly destructive and there is a corresponding link between eating these fats in high amounts and obesity, clogged arteries, heart disease, strokes and other deadly ailments. 

Lets get back to the good fats.  These fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, are needed to absorb vitamin A, D, K, and E, maintain healthy skin and hair, protect the nervous system, essential to eyesight and brain development, reduce the symptoms of depression, ADHD, hypertension, and joint pain, as well as, boost the immune system, protect from heart disease, Alzheimer's and other life threatening illness.  Wow, what a list!  Now I have your attention.

Lets just briefly talk about Omega 3's.  No doubt you have heard a lot about them as they are responsible for so many of the health promoting functions I mentioned above.  So where can you get them?  By eating flax seed (ground and poured over cereal or in smoothies), walnuts, cold water fish like mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, salmon, etc.. , canola oil, broccoli, cantaloupe, kidney beans, spinach, grape leaves, Chinese cabbage, and cauliflower. 
 Walnuts are a potent source with one handful (1 ounce) packing as many omega 3's as a 3.5 oz serving of salmon.  We love walnuts at my house!  We use them in our cereal in the morning ( a mix of raw oats, flax seed ground up, coconut, raisins, and sunflower seeds, and walnuts in soy milk), in any treats like brownies, fruit crisp toppings or cookies, throw them ethnic dishes like stir frys or in pasta with red sauce with wine and green olives, and eat them by the handful for snacks.  Another great source for Omega 3's is your butter spread.  You have to be VERY CAREFUL here.  Many products like "I can't believe it's nt butter", promise and others touting health benefits and "no trans fats" actually list partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients! DO NOT BUY THESE.  Regular stick margarines as well are made almost entirely of partially hydrogenated oils that are very damaging to your body.  A good choice though is "Smart Balance buttery spread" which lists several monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats from olive oil and other healthy ingredients.  That is what we use.  It tastes great and in moderation can actually improve my health.

 Omega 3's are so powerful because they help the body create chemicals that decrease inflammation in the blood, joints and tissue.  Equally important is the role they play in reducing the negative impact of another essential fatty acid known as Omega 6's.  Mind you these Omega 6's are important to the human body and function in maintaining healthy skin, lowering cholesterol, and making blood clottable.  But when the ratio of omega 3's to omega 6's ( found in eggs, poultry, cereals, vegetable oils, baked goods, and margarine)  is off  your body is in trouble.  Your blood can become too "sticky" or clottable and causes an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. 

The ideal ratio is roughly 4 parts omega 3's to 1 part Omega 6's.  Most Americans have a 20 to 1 ratio going with a ridiculously high level of Omega 6's to Omega 3's.  The best thing to do is up your omega 3 intake.  Supplements are a great way to supplement a diet already rich in omega 3's.  Still not totally convinced of your need for more Omega 3's?  How about this little tid bit...

Taking a 2,000 mg dose of Omega 3's before walking may activates belly fat and help your body to burn more fat from that area while walking.  I know it sounds ridiculous and unbelievable but I read an entire article on it and the evidence from thier study was quite convincing.  It was a magazine article not a supplement sales pitch or anything.  It is worth a try anyway!  Here's to a healthy heart.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tutorial Tuesday - DIY baked potstickers

 Today I have an easy yummy tutorial for DIY baked potstickers.  I originally got this recipe from pampered Chef and just adjusted it a bit.  It is a really simple but elegant dinner or appetizer.  It is fairly inexpensive as well.  Here we go...

To start you will need
one package of egg roll wrappers or won ton wrappers
1/4 C. (or more) shredded carrot
1/2 C. diced green onions
1 tsp. freshly grated gingerroot
1 can (8oz) water chestnuts drained and chopped
1 can (10 oz) chicken drained and flaked or leftover chicken
1 Tbls soy sauce
1 egg white
1/4 mayo
1 garlic clove minced
24 square wonton wrappers or 6 egg roll wrappers sliced into 4 squares

Mix all of the above ingredients (besides the wrappers) in a bowl.

If using egg roll wrappers cut them evenly into squares.

Now place a spoonful of filling into the center of the wrapper.

brush water with your fingers on all four sides of the wrapper then pinch all sides up to form a pyramid.

When you are completed it should look like this.  

Now just bake 12 -15 min in a preheated oven at 425 degrees until the edges are golden brown.

For dipping sauce mix together 1/2 cup red jalapeƱo jelly, 1/4 cup rice vinegar and 2 Tablespoons soy sauce.

Hope you enjoy them.  We sure did!  I served mine for dinner with brown rice.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting things done in bite size chunks!

Man I don't know about you but I am running at full speed right now with 4 kiddos and lots of summer fun to be had, kids classes, the park etc... Sometimes it seems like I will never get it all done.  By "it" I mean laundry, dishes, yard work, organizing, house rehab projects, menu planning, freezer cooking, and tackling that garage full of stuff that has been there since we moved in Oct!  It is easier to head to the park and leave it all behind.  the only problem is that when we get back it is still there waiting for me.  No the organization fairy that I dream of has still not shown her lovely face, and although I have managed to barely stay on top of the laundry and dishes the projects are all still waiting.  The thing is that I actually WANT to get these things done, but it just seems hard to find the time.
Cruz's birthday party (one more important thing to do!)
So the other night we ended up watching a weight loss transformation program.  Similar to the "Biggest Looser" but just based on one individual.  It was inspiring watching him struggle with his motivation and then push through.  We saw him loose weight at the beginning and then go back to lazy eating habits and sluggish work outs.  In the end however he turned it up a notch got his head in the game and made his goal one day at a time.  One decision at a time.

Then it struck me!  That approach will work the same with any goal that seems overwhelming and out of reach.  Bite size pieces!  My new goals are not to complete it all by the end of the summer, but to accomplish something at the daily level in attainable chunks.  For instance... I will spend 30 min every day organizing something in the kids rooms.  I will take the timer and just see what I can get accomplished.  I don't need to wait till I have a whole day to tackle something anymore.  Little by little the goal will be reached if I can just maintain the same mindset used in weight loss of staying consistent and motivated breaking everything down to smaller goals.

So I better get off the computer and get to work!  Let me know how you plan on applying these principals. Good luck to you and I will check back later in a few weeks and let you know how it is going for me.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Freebie Friday-Quick and Easy! A stylish apron for you from cloth napkins!

We all know how busy summer can get.  There are baby showers, BBQ's, graduations, trips to the park, and so on.  But if you are creative like me you still want to squeeze in some sewing.  Here is a GREAT super easy apron for you made from 2 fancy cloth napkins. says "All you need are two large square napkins, ribbon and less than an hour of you time!"  SIGN ME UP!
This adorable apron takes just two large square napkins and some ribbon and less than an hour of your time.

Go get some napkins and get sewing!  Find the tutorial here at  Craftstylish!  These would make great gifts.  If you make one let me know how it turns out.  I would love to see the photos.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

4 ingredients - Roasted Acorn Squash with Spinach and Gruyere

For our 6 ingredient or less series (every Thursday) here is a new one...

Roasted Acorn Squash With Spinach and Gruyere

 Photo from

Only 4 ingredients!  Healthy and easy get the recipe here!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A beautiful adoption story.. (not mine this time)

My friend over at Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care wrote the most AMAZING guest post about her adoption story.  It is filled with loss and life and adoption.  You can't read it without crying and being blessed by Gods awesome timing and plans.  If you get a chance please go to My Crazy Adoption to see her story.  It is so worth your time.

Wellness Wednesday - Healthy snack ideas!

We spent the morning at the park playing in the fountain.  It has been so much fun.  we have been going almost every day since my son has an art class from 10-12.  So I pack the kids in the stroller, pack some snacks and we walk down to town drop him off and head to the park.  What a blast!

Anyway all this grabbing a quick snack got me thinking about healthy kid approved snacks since I am sure lots of you are doing the same!  Here are  a few ideas...

1) Popcorn popped with an airpopper (with out all the butter) or popped on the stove with a little olive oil.

             quinoa nut and fruit granola bar
s from Martha Stewart. Find the recipe here.
2) Trail mix made up of nuts, cereal (like cheerios), dried apricots (much less sugar than craisins or raisins). and some homemade granola clusters.

3) Homemade granola bars.
4) Fruit of course.  We love apples, bananas, peaches, berries, grapes, oranges, tangerines...what ever is in season.

5) Whole wheat waffles made ahead and frozen for storage.  Once frozen just toast in the toaster. (defrost in micro a little if necessary).  Then cut in strips to dip in yogurt.

6) Plain yogurt mixed with a little xilitol, stevia or other low calorie NATURAL sweetener. ( Do not use splenda or other chemical sweetener.)

7) Homemade whole grain french toast frozen for storage.  Then simply toasted and cut in strips to eat as is (no syrup) or dipped in yogurt (made like above.

8) Hummus and veggies.  We love homemade hummus.  Try sweet potato hummusa balsamic hummus (my fav)or a more traditional hummus

9)Boiled eggs.  Great to eat on the run and full of protein.

10) sprouted grain bagels with almond or organic peanut butter.

11) fruit with organic peanut butter mixed with a small amount of water to make it dippable.
Just a note about peanut butter.  Peanuts are one the MOST PESTICIDE laden food when not organic.  They create a dangerous aflotoxin.  So although it is really expensive at regular stores IT IS WORTH IT!  And Costco carries a very affordable organic peanut butter. 

Annie's Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips Recipe
Fruit salsa with cinnamon chips (photo from
12) How about fruit salsa with cinnamon chips.  Try the recipe from all recipes above as is or mix it up with whatever fruit you have!  

13) Frozen fruit skewers.

14) homemade popsicles.  Check out our posts 

Well that should get you started!  Leave me a comment with your favorite healthy snacks!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

DIY window paint - Fast, cheap and fun!- guest blog

This is a tutorial I did a while back for My Homespun Threads.  In case you missed it I wanted to share it.
This is a quick and easy project do do with your kiddos this summer.  It will keep them entertained for hours!
This particular project is very easy and you may already have all the supplies you need on hand.  
We had a lot of fun with this!

To get started all you need are four baby jars, 4 colors of tempera paint and liquid dish soap and a paint brush to mix it all up with.

 First start by adding the desired color of paint to the jar.  

Now just add a little dish soap. 
 The more soap you use the thinner the paint will be and the easier it will be to wipe off when it is dry.
We liked a bit more paint then soap since our paints were kind of thin to start with.

Now have a ball! My kids sure did.
This also works great for sings on cars for sale or houses for rent.

A set of a few different colors made up in baby food jars makes a great gift for kiddos.  You can even add cute labels to the jar.  You can find a huge selection of free printable labels from my blog here.

 Hope you have as much fun doing this as we did!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Neiman Marcus Urban legend cookie -lightened up!

This is our favorite cookie around the house.  I used to never make cookies because they weren't healthy but then they (my kiddos and husband) always went for something worse or wanted store bought cookies (full of fat, sugar, and all manner of additives!) So I started baking these. 
I used apricot pieces for half and
mint and chocolate chip for the other half.
Healthier version of the Neiman Marcus / Mrs Fields urban legend cookie
(This makes a huge batch so you can halve it or freeze the dough for half and cook half now)
1 1/4 cup smart balance spread & 3/4 applesauce      (theirs calls for 2 cups)
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 cups granulated sugar                                          (theirs calls for 2 cups)
1 cups brown sugar                                                (theirs calls for 2 cups)
5 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in blender to a fine powder)
1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots                           (theirs calls for  24 oz. chocolate chips)
OR 12 oz chocolate chips 
1 tsp. salt
I skip the additional chocolate all together               (theirs calls for 1 Hershey bar grated)
2 eggs and 4 egg whites                                                     (theirs calls for 4 eggs) 
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts ( I love walnuts)
2 tsp. vanilla
Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add the apricots or chocolate chips, and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. or to save time just pour this into 9 x 13 casserole baking pans and Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies or a few batches of bar cookies.
See?  They love them!

These faces don't lie!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Mango Sorbet recipe (ALL natural & SUGAR FREE)

I had some left over mangoes the other day (When does that ever happen!!) from a crazy .33 each sale.  So I whipped this up before they went bad.  It was delicious!!  We ate it in cones on a walk to a friends house.  It felt so decadent and decidedly summer like!

photo from But my recipe was better!
Mango Sorbet
4 cups chopped up mango
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 Cup lime or lemon juice (bottled is OK)
Natural sweetener to taste
( I used about 1/8 cup xylitol and 1 teaspoon truvia a brand of stevia)

Process all in your food processor or blender and pour into ice cream maker.
I have the cuisinart ice cream maker I got at a garage sale and it works GREAT.

My kids LOVE this!  The best part is there is NOTHING objectionable in it.  I want my kids to think it is a contraband treat so I save it for dessert time, but you could eat it for breakfast and feel good about it.

You could try this with pineapple or other frozen fruits as well.  Very important note DO NOT USE SPLENDA OR OTHER ARIFICIAL SWEETENERS!! They are deadly in the very real sense of the word.  Even sugar is better than that, but for some low cal or no cal natural sweeteners to try see my earlier post on all natural sweeteners to try, and why to skip the artificial ones.

Here is a Mango Frozen Yogurt recipe I found on

Blend yogurt and 3/4 bag of mangos until blended. (If using plain yogurt add natural sugar substitute like stevia, xylitol etc.. to taste.) Add a tad of lemon and/or lime juice, to taste (my guess is only a small amount). Chill/freeze in ice cream maker if you have one, or serve.

What is your favorite frozen treat recipes?  Leave it in the comments below.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wildflowers & Whimsy: 500 Follower Giveaway!!!!!!!

My friend at Wildflowers and Whimsy has a great giveaway going on!  
She will give away this dress below custom made for you, so go check it out!
Good luck!

Being intentional - a non crafty post

I was reading something the other day about being intentional and it was such a good reminder of how important it is to live an intentional life.  I don't want life to just happen.  I want to be involved in the process and make choices that head us in the directions we want to go instead of looking back and wondering how we got where we are.

Where do you want to be in a year, or even at the end of the summer?  Financially, spiritually, in your relationships with  your family and friends, with your health and weight?  what goals do you need to put in place to get there? What does this mean to you?

For me it means adjusting my course to plan my future.  Here are the things I want to be intentional about.

Making memories with the kids this summer:

That means doing meal plans, a daily schedule that includes cleaning in the mornings, and planning my blogging times so my time is freer and not eaten away at.  Being careful with my tongue to be sure to encourage and not fly off the handle and giving more grace.

Financially at peace:
This means staying on my envelope budget system, being content with what I have.  Simplifying.  Doing research for needed 2 for 1 and other coupons.  Selling stuff I don't need.  Not buying what I don't need.

Building my relationships:
Means giving grace at home with hubby and kids.  Making time to play and scheduling in hang out time. Scheduling time to get the home clean and meals done so that the stress of a messy house, dinner or laundry don't intrude into relational time.

Growing deeper in my walk with the Lord:
Means scheduling in my prayer walks early in the morning and quiet times so they actually get accomplished.
Spending time reading the "Daily Bible" so that I can actually attempt the Bible in a year or at least get in good daily reading times.  Making my Fri night Bible study group a priority, and spending time with friends that encourage me in the Lord.

Keeping myself and my family healthy:
Means making sure that I do a meal plan and stay on it so that we are assured of healthy meals.  Making homemade treats like juice pops, sorbet with natural low calorie sweeteners, and healthier cookies so we are not tempted by junk.  Keep junk out of the house.  Scheduling in my exercise time and keeping it so that I can have the body I want that is healthy, I feel good about and in shape for all the kiddo chasing I need to do.  Being aware of the little bites of junk that I put in that I do mindlessly.  Putting out my vitamins for myself a day ahead so that I remember to take them.  This list could go on and on but the last thing I will say is that I will actively choose whole foods and learn new whole food recipes to support our healthy lifestyle.

What are you going to be intentional about?  Write it in the comments.  I would love to hear.  Pleas pray for me in these goals and if you let me know what you are working on I will pray for you.  May "The Joy of the Lord be your strength" as you go into this summer INTENTIONALLY!!