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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Simple Jar Decor

I recently found out that if you want to clean that sticky white paper/glue residue that remains on a glass jar after you peel off the label, you can rub it with oil (I've used both canola and olive and gotten the same results) and it works it off in no time .  . .of course then you have to wash the oil off, but at least the label gunk is gone and you can use the jars for something cool

I'm always hoarding things like glass jars. I have a hard time letting go. I think it might be genetic. I had a great grandmother who died with certain rooms of her house being completely inaccessible. Of course my mom and my grandmother clean house like crazy. My grandma is always throwing stuff out or giving it away. . .but I digress. Anyway, because of this I have a stash of spaghetti sauce jars so when I needed a candy jar for some attractive Easter candy I picked up impulsively (need to stop doing that too) I whipped out a jar, scrubbed off the label with above mentioned process and got to it.

Of course the top was lacking, so I scrambled around the house looking for something to make it pretty. I would've liked to use cloth but since I didn't have any, I went for the foil wrapping paper I had got at Target the other day. I had purchased it for my Cara Box partner who I think had said something about liking chevrons, but since including the whole roll didn't seem practical I just wrapped some of the larger gifts and kept the rest for later.

I cut out a square of the paper then put a few drops of hot glue on top of the jar lid (not on the sides. I was kind of afraid of accidentally gluing it shut). Then I molded the paper around the top and trimmed off some to make it look a little neater.

I found a ribbon in the craft supplies (after I had finished Coryn got annoyed with me because apparently it was "her" ribbon, but she wasn't using it at the time, so I am going to plead ignorance to her prior claim.) and tied it around the top . . . I'm not very good at pretty bows so I went for casual chic.

I placed it in my "happy window."

I should've made it harder to open and shut somehow because I can't stop eating the candy.

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Marine Wife Mommy and Life

Coryn's Art: Dragon!

Coryn drew this the other day and I'm crazy proud of it. It's a dragon fighting a knight. In her story the dragon is the good guy and this is a bad knight. The orange swirls are where the dragon is breathing fire. Pretty awesome, huh?

even friendly dragons fight if pushed hard enough

He has a sword!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Guest" Post: Fashion Playtes Review

 I'm not sure if this technically counts as a "guest post" because I had my baby sister write it. I stumbled across the Fashion Playtes website a while back and thought it was a fun idea but not something I would probably use myself, my daughter being a bit too young. They do offer gift certificates so I decided to send one to my sister, Kelly, a pre-teen, for Christmas.Here is her creation and her opinion on the site. Nothing was received in return for this review by me. I paid for the certificate my sister got. It was not a promotional item.

Hey Readers,
I made a dress a fashionplaytes.com
Here's how you do it: First Google Fashionplaytes.com, then click on the website that comes up, (It should be something like "Fashion Playtes Home"). When you get on the site, click on the clothes designing studio. It should show you different designs of dresses, tops, bottoms, and accessories. Pick your style of clothing, size, and add all the fun sparkles and spangles. Then they will ship it to you and you can wear and show-of your outfit! Besides that, they shipped it relatively fast and I have no complaints what-so-ever. At the studio there were so many choices it made my head spin! Plus that, you can become a member and play fun games!
My dress is turquoise blue with pink sparkles bordered around the edge and clear rhinestones around the neck. It has a pink heart in the center. I choose turquoise blue because I like that color and sparkles because who doesn't like sparkles!
Have a great time designing!
Kelly Lyn Garrett
-Age 11

Wordless Wednesday-Wait for ittttttttttttt

Today's Wordless Wednesday is completely devoted to my absolute favorite show, Psych, returning to the television tonight! Season 7 premiere! Can't wait!!!

Wordless Wednesday Hop

Friday, February 22, 2013

Liebster Award Again! Third time is the charm?

Okay, so looking back that title sounds a little bit like I'm annoyed rather than grateful and that is NOT the impression I wish to give, but I still kind of like the title because while not annoyed, I am amused at how often this particular award comes around and how much work it is finding people to nominate, not because I don't know a lot of good bloggers, but because they have to have under 200 followers.  I don't always find 11 that actually qualify. By the way, is it just me or is the logo for the award (underneath) kind of pulsing? Either it is an optical illusion or I'm really tired . . . or both. . .oh gosh, I'm losing it.

These awards are almost like tag games, actually, which kind of makes them fun. For the Liebster you must do the following:

1. Each blogger should post 11 random facts about 
2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you, and then
    create 11 new questions for the bloggers you pass the
    award to.
3. Choose 11 new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to
    pass the award to and link them in your post.
4. Go back to their page and tell them about the award.
5. No tag backs.
This time I was nominated by Vicky at The Greek Housewife. Go on over and check out her blog which often has some interesting cultural perspective.

Okay, 11 random facts without repeating myself. My brain is so out of it right now. . .
1. I hate talking on phones. I used to work in a call center and phones to me feel like work. 
2. I also hate texting. The character limit is not conducive to complete sentences and it is really hard to use correct punctuation with those phones. It's like an English language train wreck waiting to happen. All communication that is not face to face should either be via email or snail mail. 
3. I love getting mail. I don't really care what it is. Even junk mail I open to check and see if it is blank on one side so I can use it to write shopping lists.
4. On that note, the saving junk mail scrap paper note, I am also hording used dryer sheets. I don't know why but I always have loved the things. They are so lacy looking and smell nice. . .I use them to stuff crocheted toys. 
5. I haven't cut my hair since I got pregnant with Claire so almost two years now. It is the longest I've had my hair in ages. I generally keep it short though I did temporarily grow it out for my wedding but cut it again a few months afterward. 
6. I'm definitely a cat person but I spend much more time with my husband's dog than I do my poor cat Carlton who is often put upon by said dog and in hiding.
7. Carlton is the second pet I have named after a character from Psych. I named one of my sister's kittens Shawn Spencer after the lead character in that show which is my all time favorite. 
8. I'm trying to be better at Bible studying. I am most interested in /stimulated by studies that actually have a question unanswered, something that is up for debate, rather than that gives me everything wrapped up in a pretty package. I want to be able to think about it.  I grew up on C . S. Lewis and while I am decidedly an emotional rather than logical being, I am a bit addicted to seeing all theology as an exercise in logic as well as worship. It's just the way I seem to be able to best relate to ideas. 
9. I've been having to take breaks from wearing my wedding ring because the skin beneath it gets dry and cracked. My hands are dry in general right now (Mommy-hood involves a lot of hand washing) but under my ring it gets painful. I feel weird going without my ring, especially with Matt out of state.
10. My husband actually hasn't worn his wedding ring in years and I really don't mind. I guess I trust him and he's just not a jewelry kind of guy.
11. With Matt gone my favorite activity is torturing myself. For instance I sat up reading old love letters I found that I had sent him during his deployments and musing on how much I love and have always loved him and how much I wish he were here RIGHT NOW! 

And finally these were Vicky's 11 questions to her nominees : 
  1. If you had 3 hours to yourself (no husband, no kids, no chores) what would you do?  Ideally I'd get some writing done or actually read something but most likely I'd end up looking at cat pictures and that would be it.
  2. What is the best life advice you can give to your followers?  Don't worry. Be happy. Seriously, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matt 6:27) I can't remember a time I worried when the worry itself didn't turn out to be worse than whatever it was I eventually had to stop worrying about and face.
  3. What is your goal for this year? To teach my daughter to read.
  4. If they made a movie of your life, who would you pick to play you? For the sake of the unexpected I want to be motion captured as a large cat. Well, maybe that is not completely unexpected. Somewhat more seriously, I've been told I look like three celebrities by random people: Felicia Day, Emily Deschanel, and Amy Adams, and if I could get either Felicia Day or Allison Scagliotti (from Warehouse 13, I've cut my hair to look like hers before) to go dark blonde, those two would be my top choices . . . probably Allison first. Or maybe Anna Belknap who plays Lindsay on CSI:NY. I've also cut my hair like her before.
  5. What is your favorite quote? The mind is not a vessel to be filled by a fire to be kindled. (Plutarch) either that or, "Hey! Who deleted my pool table?" (Tom Paris)
  6. Describe your ideal Valentine's day! Having my husband home would be a good start. . . The rest would probably be X Rated and I probably shouldn't go there.
  7. What is the best song to describe your mood today? Something about being tired? I don't really know a ton of songs.(I just had a cup of coffee and now I think it should be the Llama Song. . .LLAMA LLAMA DUCK!)
  8. Apart from blogging how do you spend your free time? I play World of Warcraft. 
  9. What is your favorite memory? Again, probably X rated. I'm sorry, but honestly, I have a really dirty mind for someone who saved sex for marriage and has only ever been with one man. I keep it under wraps for the most part, but I'm too tired to care right now.
  10. If you could do any job in the world, what would it be? (Except for being a mom or dad!) Writer. Like real, actually read by people, novelist writer. My second choice is a proofreader or copy editor. I love tweaking punctuation for fun. 
  11. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money, and why? I don't get why people don't just put it in the bank and retire early. I mean, I can't imagine anything I would want more than the ability not to have to really work. Oh or hire a maid.

    So 11 questions for my nominees. . .I probably should try and clear my head before doing this. 

    1. Girls go for guys with skills be it hacking skills or Nunchuck skills but girls have skills too! What skills do you have? Do any involve baking? Will you bring me some cookies?

    2. What skill have you never mastered that you would love to try? 

    3. Favorite book?

    4. Favorite historical figure (yeah, I'm making these pretty simple but I'm tired . . . all the time).

    5. When was the last time you felt well rested?

    6. What is one thing you have built or made that you are really proud of (for this discussion, kids don't count)?

    7. What modern fads/habits do you not understand? Or are intentionally avoiding?

    8. What fictional character do you most identify with?

    9. What fictional character do you aspire to be more like?

    10. Take a mental vacation. Where do you go? What's for dinner? Is there chocolate? Coffee?

    11. What super power do you want? What super power do you have? (two in one)          


    I always have a hard time coming up with 11 because of the "with under 200 followers" rule. Sometimes I cheat. 

    Here Comes the Human

    Traveling Cats

    Life With Joys
    First Comes Love

    It's Your Life

    One Part Joy-One Part Circus

    Road to 31
    I know I'm supposed to do eleven, not eight, but I am not going to. What are you going to do about it?

      If you have under 200 followers and would like to be involved, go ahead and tag yourself and let me know in the comments when you have made the post. 
    Thanks again for the nomination,


Make It Pretty: Butterfly Board

I hate throwing anything away but I love cutting things up and playing with them. Here I took apart a birthday card and used the butterflies on one of my dry erase boards. Yay! Butterfly board!

Rambling about Preschool

I should preface this by saying I have absolutely no qualifications whatsoever as far as preschool education goes. I have no degree. I have only been dabbling in teaching with one child, just one, and while I was home schooled myself, I was never really in a situation where I was actively teaching younger children.

If you have read my blog, however, you may know that I have strong opinions about education for young children. I don't think our current systems allows children to be children. I think it puts way too much emphasis on conformity and sitting still and standing in line. To me it just isn't how humans, especially young humans, are meant to function. To me learning should be organic, a natural process and teachers should be more like tour guides than. . well. . .teachers. Almost everything young children encounter in the pre-reader age is "educational." They are learning how the world works, and let's be honest, the world does not usually work in a straight line sitting still kind of way.

When we were in Japan there were only a handful of spots available in the early childhood (preschool, headstart, whatever they are calling it now) classes at the Child Development Center and I heard a lot of mothers complaining that their kids couldn't get in because classes were full (I'm not sure how the priority system works because I never investigated it) and they felt their kids would fall behind if not in a class by three or four. As if kids can't learn shapes, counting, and the alphabet without a structured classroom and a teacher with a Masters to lead them by the hand. This was often followed up by a complaint that their kids wouldn't "learn from them." Usually the moms with these complaints were mothers of boys, so I'm thinking "my kid won't learn from me" might be code for "my kid won't sit still for long enough to do work book pages." I admit, girls are a little easier in this regard, though I've known plenty of "twitchy" little girls (my daughter sometimes watches TV hanging upside down off the back of the couch.), so if your kid doesn't like to sit still, tends to get wriggly and distracted, and has trouble focusing, congratulations you have a son! (or an active daughter)

Boys especially are at a disadvantaged in pigeon holed modern education. Honestly, they simply don't belong sitting still for long periods of time and with the epidemic in childhood obesity, I am not really sure why the ability to sit still would be considered a virtue. So much of our modern society involves sitting still. I think little kids should be applauded for throwing off the fetters of staying in one place. I love watching "feral" children, children who are not being made to do anything they don't want to do in that particular moment, running and shrieking, all giggles and glee. . .and if kids are given as much feral time as they need, I think you'll find that when they really need to settle down, they'll have a lot more motivation to do so (and to get a good night's sleep for that matter).

There are steps you can take to improve childhood focus (from nutritional to limiting the amount of time in front of the television to more complicated exercises/games, but that's not the point of my post.), but if you are dealing with an active preschooler and want to get a little bit of home education in, remember that at this age almost anything can be a game.

Board games are a good indicator of whether or not your child is ready for sit down preschool sessions. If they can sit through multiple rounds of Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, they can probably sit through a set of flashcards if the flashcards are presented in an interesting way.

My last post on preschool tricks was about sight words. Before I stumbled upon the sight word story game (which my daughter actually asks to play) I had been attempting to make her go through "sight word flash cards" that I purchased, and the way her eyes wandered away from those cards was painful to watch. I could keep her attention for a handful of words, but then she was looking around the room and I could either crack down or give up. One made her miserable. The other meant nothing was learned. Kids don't do well with information presented in lists and charts. The addition of a creative or tactile element is often all it takes to turn a "drill" into a "game."

For instance, adding a visual aid of small plastic toys to count to addition or subtraction flash cards makes early math a breeze.

If your child likes to color workbook pages are going to be easy to introduce. If your child does not generally like to sit still for any reason, then just introduce "sitting time" it in short spurts and "release" them when their attention starts to flag. If you start early enough you will have plenty of time to build up. Set aside quiet play time. Try puzzles, crafts, building sets. Try to find the thing that gives your particular child motivation to focus and build on that focus. Take advantage of what interests your child. Legos make awesome math learning aids.

Your kid does learn from you. Even if you are not actively teaching, if you are present your kid is paying attention. Take advantage of every moment. Explain how things work while you are doing them. Why does water boil and ice melt? Cut open flowers and show them what is inside. Have them count out things. Let them dress themselves and match colors. Have them sign their name on their artwork (so people know who did it). Learning is not a formula. It's a way of life. Foster it. Don't try and mold it and don't be frustrated. Kids are ready when they are ready and no two children are alike. When they are ready they'll let you know. Just be waiting to answer their questions when the time comes.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pinterest Unrest, Computer Disasters, and Upcoming Posts

I got a message today from the folks at Pinterest explaining that some of my pins had been deleted because of copyright infringement and because I was a re-pinner and not the original pinner there was no accusation of wrong-doing but those pins had to go and would be deleted. Okay, fine, except I have no idea what pins they were referring to and now I'm dying of curiosity. Omgosh! Which pins are missing? I scanned a few of my boards but didn't notice anything missing so no harm no foul. If they hadn't told me about it I wouldn't have even noticed . . . still, I wonder what exactly it was.

Anyway, I don't think anyone really noticed but I've been less active lately, mainly because my laptop is finally at the large paperweight stage (ie boot up), and while I have access to the internet on my husband's old laptop which I am using now, I don't prefer it. It feels strange and uncomfortable, like wearing someone else's shoes and living in a stranger's house. I do have posts planned:

Posts about my attempts to introduce Coryn to Spanish.
Posts about FINALLY finishing a book.
Posts about looking for a new church in our area.
Posts about Matt being almost home and preparing for his return.
Posts about this super cool foundation make up sample I got my hands on.
Posts about another Liebster Award tag. 

So I hope I can get back to writing in full swing soon. My husband said he can fin my laptop when he gets back. Yay!

More later soon, knock on wood.


Preschool Activity: Sight Words Story Blocks

Today we spent some time writing a story with sight words (and easy sound out words). A lot of words that Coryn probably could figure out phonetically she already has memorized so at this point what is a sight word and what is a "sound out" word is up for debate.

To make Coryn's story "blocks" I simply wrote down a bunch of words on craft foam (she has a big package of this in her craft supplies) with a sharpie. You could use scraps of paper or cardboard or basically anything you can write on and cut into pieces (this would be a cool thing to do with a felt board or magnetic set up). I chose to put the nouns on blue foam, verbs on pink, and everything else on white. Then we sat down and Coryn put together simple sentences with the words. After she composed each sentence I would copy it down on a piece of paper so we would remember it after we had deconstructed the sentence to re-use the words. Every so often I would stop and write down a new word she felt she needed to continue the story (she liked to cut the words out herself so we also got in some scissor skills practice).

A bit later she even wrote out two of her own words (she didn't stick to my color coding for nouns and verbs which I'm not sure she really understood): Coryn (so she could make herself part of the story) and Dot which we already had a word block for but it is one of the few words she knows how to write from memory so it was an easy choice.

Here is the story she wrote:

A frog naps.
A cat loves the frog.
Dot sees the cat.
Sam sat.
Frog hit cat.
Frog loves cat.
Frog says sorry to cat.
A frog and a dog run.
Dot and cat are glad.
Frog and dog play.
Frog and dog run and hit.
Cat and dog play and kiss.
Frog, cat, and bat play.
Dot and dog love each other.
Cat and dog love each other and hug.
Dog and frog hug.
The End.

She actually asked to play the game again tonight so it looks like we may have a winner.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Sisters

Wordless Wednesday Hop

Hidden compartment/panel picture frame

I consider myself decently crafty but not necessarily skilled. I can figure out how to do things but my execution is sloppy. Because of this, I have no intention of ever attempting to sew (just way too much precision); I can't bake (eyeballing it apparently does not work when it comes to baking); and pretty much every household "project" I have actually managed to complete has ended up looking like a twelve-year-old made it.

That said every so often I REALLY want something that I either can't find or can't afford that I just know I could make if I buckled down to it. Today I got it into my head that I needed a very specific type of picture frame. I could see it in my mind's eye but if it exists I wasn't able to figure out the proper Google keywords to find it (Etsy search and Amazon search also struck out). I wanted to call it a hidden panel picture frame but I'm not sure that accurately describes it.

Description of what I wanted: a picture frame that opens on a hinge to reveal a second picture frame behind the first and has a latch so that if you want to you can close up the frame to hide the second picture from prying eyes. I got this idea from seeing some really classy pin up and boudoir photo shoots that would be something I would maybe like to do for my husband someday, but not necessarily something he would be comfortable keeping on his desk at work (Though at this point, I don't think he has a desk. . .). BUT! If there was a family picture in the front frame and the second frame was really subtle, no one would know that there was a flirtatious picture underneath, right? Or even if they suspected they'd have to be pretty gutsy to go and open a picture frame that is obviously latched on another man's desk to see what is inside. . .

The idea seemed so simple that I was sure there would be something on the market out there already, and there probably is, but I couldn't find it. So I took a trip to Walmart and the Home Depot and picked up two cheap wooden frames for $3 a piece, a set of small hinges (the smallest I could find) for $1.98 and a tiny latch also for $1.98 (The latch, while the only one small enough I could find, turned out to not be perfect for this project; it's the one part I would like a redo on. More on that later).

Did I mention my problems with execution? Well, as simple as this project was supposed to be it should've taken me about five minutes to whip together, but it took about thirty and required a lot of assistance from my five-year-old who tried to help me hold the pieces in place. It took about ten tries where the screw went flying every time I turned on the electric screwdriver (if it had been sonic I would've had more luck) or drill or whatever this thing is called . . .anyway, every time I turned on the drill the screw would skitter away, but after about ten times I realized this was mostly because I had the wrong bit size in for these tiny screws. I also couldn't find a vice in the garage (we may not actually own one), so I ended up using two hand weights and the assistance of my daughter, as mentioned before.

my version of a vice
 Once I finally was able to get screws into the piece it started to come together. The cheap frames cracked a little where the screws were inserted, so if you plan to make a present of it, it might be worth buying slightly stronger frames (which would most likely cost more than $3 a piece).

you can see, my cheap frames cracked a tiny bit here

So you want to stack the picture frames one on top of the other, both facing up, then attach the hinges, one on the top and one at the bottom, over lapping both the frames. Use whatever size hinge fits your frames. I had to go small, though, and you probably will too unless you have found some sturdy, husky frames.

Once the hinges are holding the frames together, turn it to the other side (the opening side) and attach the latch.

As I mentioned, my latch, even though it was the smallest one there, was still a little too big to fit exactly right. It looks good but if you open it up there wasn't a place to attach the second side of the loop end to and it is kind of just swinging free. Whoops. A craft store might have better options than a hardware store or you might be able to special order it somewhere.

So here you go from the front it appears to be an innocent picture frame.

hello, stock photo family.

From the side you can see the hinges.

And when you open it up, SURPRISE!

In this photo you can really tell that the latch doesn't work.

Okay, hopefully next time I find a better latch.

Other than that, that is my project. Yay!

Edit: I figured out how to make my latch work.  I bent it inward so it could attach to the inside of the frame and it now works like a charm.

shared on The Peaceful Mom.

The Chicken Chick

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mermaid Tail Take Two

I don't really want another kid at this point, but I do really need an infant model for my mermaid tail. I need to track down a mother with a baby girl and beg her to wear my mermaid tail so I can get a good picture.

I haven't really written out the pattern yet, even after my second attempt, but I thought I'd post some construction photos so people could get an idea how they are made.

Here is a finished mermaid tail on my (then) 10 month old (featured in this post):

I used double crochet and decreased evenly until I got this shape in the desired length.

I then folded it in half and sewed it a bit at the bottom
and a little on top. 

You want to leave a slit for the baby's legs to pop in and out of, especially if this is a baby of mobile age. 

You make the fins next.

Then attach the fins at the bottom of the tail

and voila! You have a complete mermaid tail!

Fluster Buster

Shared on the Peaceful Mom.

Wordless Wednesday: Mischievous Claire

I was cooking dinner and had a, "Whoops! Where's the baby?" moment. 
Oh, here she is, dang it. 

Amanda’s Books and More

Wordless Wednesday Hop