Thursday, January 31, 2008

A morning with Play Dough!

I have been trying to come up with more activities to do with Roman lately. I want to start gearing up for a more curriculum based (and age appropriate, of course) learning system for him. I am trying to be more intentional about teaching him colors, numbers, letters and music. We recently started a Music Together class, which we love, and have been listening and jammin' to our class CDs at home!

This morning I thought it would be fun to make play dough with him and then proceed to use it! We have some store bought Playdoh, but he kept trying to eat it and I was really leery of the chemicals in it, so I decided to make our own. I found a really simple recipe online at that is as follows:

Earth Friendly Play Dough
  • 1 cup flour (not self-rising)
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Mix in saucepan over low heat. (It does not have to heat long.) Dough is ready when it rolls into a ball. Keep dough fresh in an airtight container. If you need to make different colors, add food coloring while mixing over heat.

We decided to make ours blue and oh how Roman loves it! He played for a good half an hour with it and was very insistent about me playing with him! His favorite thing to do is tear it into tiny little pieces- which of course makes a larger mess but I can't help but think that such a tactile experience is really stimulating his little brain! When he was finished he even had fun helping me put it all away! It seemed like a lot to take on before 9 am, but really it was very simple and lots of fun for both of us! So, pull out a sauce pan and call your kids to the kitchen- it is a great activity for the whole family!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Zuppa Toscana on a Cold Winter Day

As the snow swirls outside my door, adding to the already rather thick blanket of white that has covered our town since Christmas, I am nestled warmly in my home busily alternating between blogging and nursing a pot of soup on my stove. Ahhhh yes, my two favorite things- blogging and Zuppa Toscana! The website I found the recipe on said that it was the authentic Olive Garden recipe- liberated by a former employee! It truly tastes like the real thing and everyone I have shared it with has loved it, so I thought I should share it with you all as well!

The recipe serves 6-8 people, so it is perfect for a large family or a small family that doesn't mind having (excellent, might I add) leftovers! Here you go:

1 lb. ground Italian Sausage
1 1/2 tsp. crushed Red Pepper
1 large diced white onion
4 Tbsp. bacon pieces
2 tsp. garlic puree
10 cups water
5 cubes of chicken bouillon (or 5 tsp. chicken base)
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb Russet potatoes (or about 3 large potatoes)
1/4 bunch of Kale

1. Saute Italian Sausage and crushed red pepper in pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.

2. In the same pan, sautee bacon, onions and garlic for approximately 15 mins. (or until the onions are soft).

3. Mix together the chicken bouillon (or base) and water, then add it to the onions, bacon and garlic. Cook until boiling.

4. Add potatoes and cook until soft, about 20-30 minutes.

5. Add heavy cream and cook until thoroughly heated.

6. Stir in sausage.

7. Add kale just before serving. Bon' Apettito!

I hope you can enjoy this delicious recipe on a cold winter day, as I have, and share it with those you love!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Swiffer SweeperVac- where have you been all my life?!

It all began sometime in early November when I entered an online promotion to test out a Swiffer SweeperVac. Months went by with no sign of the gadget, and to be honest, with the holidays and other craziness happening in my life it hardly crossed my mind. Then one day in mid-January it appeared on my doorstep complete with refills, a gingerbread man & recipe, and Shrek the Third (hence the gingerbread man reference)!

Still not convinced that the device was going to induce some life-changing experience, I waited to open it until my husband prompted me to a few days later. Even after opening it, the SweeperVac sat charging in the corner for close to a week. Then one day as I was faced with an exceptionally large mess on my kitchen floor (Roman had been having lots of fun with a bowl full of uncooked rice!) I decided to give my new machine a whirl. To my surprise and great pleasure, that sleek little marvel of modern mechanics did a better job than I ever dreamed! Along with picking up the entirety of the rice mess, it proceeded to collect everything from the dirt left by my husbands shoes to the edamame my son had dropped during lunch! Not only is it simple to use and incredibly effective, its slim design makes it convenient and easy to store. Another added bonus is the rechargeable feature- simply plug it in, tuck it away and you never have to worry about buying expensive batteries every other week.

Now I find myself reaching for my Swiffer SweeperVac to conquer even the smallest of crumbs! Yes my dears, this is one mama who will not be bending over to use a broom and dust pan any longer! I have been liberated! Typically I am not the type of person to invest in "expensive" cleaning products. Considering that I mostly make my own cleaning solutions and find them to be very cost effective, family friendly and powerful, a Swiffer SweeperVac would be a fairly large purchase for me at around $29.98 through most retailers. However, this is one cleaning accessory that I would recommend to anyone- especially mothers of small children!

The one down fall I can see is the continual need to buy the actual Swiffer pads, but upon further research I have found some wonderful ideas for making your own, washable Swiffer pads. Some of the most popular ideas include knitting or crocheting your own or simply using microfiber washcloths. Here are some of the best links I found for homemade pads:
Thrifty Fun
Knitting Stuff and Going on And On
Mothering Dot Commune- lots of great links included in this one!

So all in all I give it 4 1/2 stars and I think that all of you should run out and get a Swiffer SweeperVac just as soon as your budget allows- you'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A New Year, A Fresh Start

2008- it is actually here and boy oh boy do I have a lot planned! This is my year to get my life all under control and looking the way I want it to- quite the aspiration, right?! Ya, I know! But hey- I figure I might as well set big goals for myself! Why not, right?!

A few weeks ago I sat down and compiled a whole list of things I want to do, or change, or try this year. I divided it all into the subcategories that my life consists of because, well, that's just how I am! So, now I thought I would share a few of them with you:

-Do the One Year Bible Reading Plan as a family, with our church
-Do the Beth Moore Study, Believing God- completing all the homework each week
-Blog about my faith walk 2-3 times a week
-Set aside at least 10 minutes every day to just pray
-Memorize scripture
-Finish the faith-based books I started reading this year but never completed

-Take a yoga/pilates fusion class
-Not buy ice-cream more than once a month (at the most)
-Be more purposeful and organized in our meal planning
-Try that Cooking-for-a-month thing (ya know, where you cook one day for the whole month and freeze the meals)
-Put away at least $50 a month to buy workout equipment for Jer

-Stick more strictly to our budget (take out cash for groceries and petty cash- not going over those amounts!
-Be better about putting money into savings
-Tithe more regularly
-Pay off our debt
-Eliminate superfluous spending and cut down our monthly bills

-Don't go to bed with dishes in the sink or things on the table
-Sort and file mail daily
-Get the house-cleaning part of my day finished first thing in the morning
-De-clutter the house
-Get new curtains and couch pillows
-Finish the basement
-Get landscaping

-Be more intentional about the time I spend with Roman- teaching him and playing with him
-Make sure he watches less TV
-Pray with him and for him more
-Read scripture to him

-Be more intentional about blessing my husband
-Watch my tone of voice and try not to engage in arguments
-Pray for my husband more
-Support his diet
-Have more date nights
-Have more sex!!

-Get up earlier for time with the Lord
-Read for pleasure at least 10 minutes a day
-Blog about life in general at least 2 times a week
-Get out and meet with another mom at least once a week
-Take more baths!
-Get at least 4 massages this year
-Spend less time online
-See all the major Oscar-nominated films
-Learn Italian
-Get a tatoo
-Spend at least 10 minutes a day doing something creative
-Try freelance writing and try to get something published

-Make myself and apron or two!
-Make folio covers and bags I had planned to make for Christmas
-Finish my quilt
-Knit or crochet my grandma a blanket
-Knit a sweater
-Knit dishcloths
-Blog about my crafts at least once a week
-Make a blanket for our couch
-Knit Roman soakers

Chic & Savvy Mama Business-wise:
-Redefine and focus my business
-Update my website
-Finish my Postpartum doula reading and take the training course
-Hold natural parenting classes
-Create a pregnancy loss support program in Spokane and extend my services as a pregnancy loss doula

Finish Carpentry Business-wise:
-Weekly make sure that everything in the computer is up to date & paper work is filed
-Take care of all our tax filings at the beginning of each month

Okay, so that is a lot, and believe it or not there is actually more, but I spared you! I have updated my iCal in such a way that I think all of my daily, weekly, and monthly tasks are posted on each day that I need to complete them, so that they seem a little bit more manageable. We shall see! I know it seems monsterous but I think it needs to be done if I want to start living the life I dream of having. So here we go 2008- bring it on!