Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jelly Bean Wreath Mini Tutorial

As I have been perusing blogland, I've seen lots of pretty conversation heart wreaths.  Obviously, I'm a little behind.  But I thought the idea of a candy wreath was cute.  And what kind of candy is everywhere right now?  Easter candy!  So I thought I would give it a try with jelly beans.

Items needed:

A styrofoam wreath form- mine is 12"
jelly beans- I used more than 2 bags but not quite 3.  You can use any jelly beans you want, I only like starburst ones so....
a glue gun- preferably a low temp one
glue sticks- I bought some foam glue sticks but ended up running out and the regular ones I had at home worked just as well

1.  Sort the jelly beans by color.  If you have a cute little helper like I do, they can do this part.  By all means, eat a few jelly beans but not too many cause this project takes a lot.

She did a great job!
 2.  Start hot gluing your jelly beans around the wreath.  At first I thought I was going to do horizontal bands of color around the wreath.  But after I got a couple rows on, I looked at them and they were all crooked. So using a sharp knife, I sliced them off the styrofoam and started over.  This time I went around the wreath staring on the very outside edge.  It worked much better at covering as much of the wreath form as possible.  Not quite the same idea I had originally but jelly beans are too odd shaped to make straight bands of color with.  You can glue in any color combo you want.  I went red-orange-yellow-green-purple-pink and repeat.

3.  Once I finished gluing all the jelly beans on, I used an old toothbrush to get all the hot glue strings off.  Then I glued some ribbon to the back for hanging and a bow on the front.  I'm not crazy about the bow but it will stay for now.  And it's done!

I hung my wreath inside my kitchen.  Our front door faces west and gets all the hot afternoon sun.  I'm afraid it might melt so it's an indoor decoration.  But if you can find a nice shady place to hang, it would look pretty and springy outdoors!

Linking up to:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

NEW Car Seat Regulations

Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics released new car seat recommendations.  Hallelujah!!!!
Here they are if you haven't had a chance to read them yet.

2011 New Car Seat Recommendations

The biggest change is the new recommendation to keep your child rear facing until age 2.  This is by far the safest way for your child to ride.  Infants and toddlers have heavy heads and riding rear facing helps to cradle their neck and head and prevent injury in the event of an accident.  Even a properly restrained 1 yr old who is forward facing could have internal decapitation in the event of an accident.  But when rear facing, the car seat absorbs the impact of the accident and holds their head and neck steady.  It's so simple to understand and drives me nuts that so many people are in such a hurry to turn their child around.

There is one other recommendation that so many parents choose to ignore.  This one has to do with what kind of car seat your preschooler should be riding in.  The AAP says that children should ride in a car seat with a harness until they have reached the weight and height limits of their seat.  And at least till the age of 4.  But I see so many little kids switched to a booster seat as soon as they fit the weight limit for one.  I don't care if a booster seat is more convenient for the parents.  It wouldn't be convenient if your child died in a car crash because their body slipped out of the booster seat.  And most small children don't wear a car seat belt properly even with a booster.  They tuck the shoulder belt under their arm.  That will not keep them safe in an accident.  A 5 point harness keeps them properly restrained and SAFE. 

Caroline is 4 and she still has plenty of room in her car seat with a 5 pt harness.  At 36 lbs, she is only a couple lbs above the REAR facing weight limit and has a long way to go to reach the forward facing weight limit of 65 lbs.  And I know that she is safest in her car seat with a harness.  She will be riding in a harnessed car seat for quite a bit longer.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Crockpot Herbed Pork Chops with Gravy

This recipe smells so good, I just can't stand it.  It will make your whole house smell good and your husband will come and salivate over your shoulder while you are making it.  It tastes pretty good too.  It is definitely one of our favorites. 
So let's cook!

Cast of Ingredients:

 Pork chops- 4 boneless, mine are about 1/2- 3/4" thick
1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme

1. In a plastic bag, combine the flour, paprika and garlic powder.  Set aside 4 tsp of the flour mixture for the gravy.

flour mixture
reserved flour
2. Heat oil in skillet.

3.  While oil is heating, coat the pork chops in the remaining flour mixture.

4.  Brown pork chops in oil for 4 minutes on each side.  Then place the browned pork chops in an empty crock pot.  I usually spray the inside of my crock pot with cooking spray to help keep food from sticking.

5.  Add the onion to the skillet which should have lots of tasty pork chops drippings left.  Cook onion until tender- about 2-3 minutes.

6. Once the onions are tender, stir in the reserved flour mixture and cook until slightly browned.  this takes just a minute.

7.  Gradually stir in the water.  Then add the bouillon, basil and thyme.

8.  Stir together and bring to a boil.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly and smells divine.

9.  Pour the gravy over the pork chops in the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

I usually serve the pork chops with these kind of potatoes.

They are easy and fast.  Bake them, serve them up.  I like to mash mine slightly and drown them in the gravy.  You could also serve with mashed potatoes or noodles.  


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Embroidered Bookmark Tutorial

I'm linking up this morning to
Join  us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap 
 up           party!

This bookmark is a very simple and easy.  I have embroidered exactly once before and am no where near any good at it. It took me about an hour from start to finish.  But I think it turned out cute and it would make a great Mother's Day gift for a mom or grandma.

Small piece of cotton fabric- I used a piece of a kitchen towel I had cut up; it feels like a thin twill fabric
Water soluble marking pen
Embroidery hoop
Embroidery thread and needle
Sewing machine, thread, scissors or rotary cutter and mat, ruler

1. Have your child write on your piece of fabric using the water soluble pen.  Keep the writing about 1 in tall so your bookmark isn't huge.  You could write something on it instead or have them write just about anything they wanted.  This bookmark is for me, so Caroline (she's 4) wrote Mommy on it.  Put the fabric in your embroidery hoop.

2.  Using 2-3 strands of embroidery thread, embroidery over the writing.  I am brand-new at embroidery so mine doesn't look the greatest. I used a back stitch on all the letters and learned how to do the stitch from here.  I used 2 strands of thread but I think I would probably like the look of 3 strands better.

3. Remove your fabric from your hoop and use a wet sponge to get rid of all the markings of the water soluble pen.  Do this before ironing or the iron will set the pen marks and they won't come off.  Then iron your fabric until it's dry.

4.  Fold your fabric in half so that the words are on top and cut out the shape of your bookmark, including seam allowances.  I wanted my bookmark to be about 1.5" x 6.5" so I cut a 2.25" x 7" rectangle.  My fold is along the top of the bookmark in the picture below.

5. Once cut, unfold and refold with right sides together.

6.  Using your sewing machine, sew all the way around the edges, with a 1/4" seam allowance.  Make sure to leave a place open for turning.  As I sewed around, I made a larger seam on one side so that my embroidery was more centered in the bookmark, because I hadn't done a very good job of centering it when I cut the fabric.  You can kinda see it in the picture below.

7.  Trim corners, and clip threads.

8.  Turn fabric right side out and push out corners.  Iron nice and flat.

9.  Topstitch all the way around, making sure to catch your opening so it's closed.  And you are done!!

I am going to use my bookmark in my one year bible that I am reading.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Show us Your Life- Caroline's Birthday Parties

I'm linking up today to Kelly's Corner and her Show Us Your Life series.  This week is all about our kid's birthday parties!
Caroline is 4 and her birthday is in the fall.  The weather here is perfect for an outdoor party at that time of year, not too hot anymore but not cold either, so most of them have been outside.

1st Birthday
2nd Birthday
3rd birthday- a ballerina party

Caroline's most recent party was an Ariel party for her 4th birthday.  We had the party at home, in our backyard.  She invited 4 friends and the rest were family.   Her first request for her party was an Ariel skirt.  So I found some awesome shiny fabric and a pattern and sewed one for her.  I also made her a "4" birthday shirt with some of the matching fabric.

My little mermaid riding her scooter
Swinging and drinking pink lemonade with a friend
As the guests arrived, I had a kid table set up with Little Mermaid coloring pages and crayons for the kids.

Once all the kids arrived, I had 2 different crafts for them to do.  The first craft was a frame that they could glue all sorts of small seashells to.  The second craft were some scratch and color shaped fish.  The fish are a solid black color and the kids scrape the black off with a wooden stick to show the rainbow colors underneath.

The kiddos did crafts and played while the Little Mermaid soundtrack played in the background.  There was a food table with chips, dip, veggies and drinks set up.  My husband grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone.  Once crafts were done and food had been eaten, it was time for cake!!!

The cake, by far, was the most complex cake I've made.  But I love how it turned out!

The birthday cake!!
Blowing out the candles!
The surprise colors inside the cake- purple, blue and white
After everyone had cake and ice cream, it was time for the pinata!

Presents were opened after the pinata had been whacked to it's doom.  The last few goodies for the kids were bubbles and party blowers and then it was time to relax and just let the kids run off the cake, candy and ice cream.

The party blowers were a huge hit!  

The party was definitely a success!

I get a lot of my party ideas from searching the Internet.  Once Caroline decides on a theme, I start googling.  Oriental Trading Co. is a great place for party and craft supplies, but you have to give yourself enough ordering time.  So far her birthday parties have all been at home, with a small guest list.  Even though she was in school this year, we didn't invite every child in her class.  I told her she could ask 2 friends from school and 2 other friends.  I gave the invites for her school friends directly to their parents so that all the rest of the kids her class wouldn't feel left out.  The rest of the guests are family and the families of her friends.  Makes for a plenty big enough party for us!

As far as food, we have always done veggies, chips and dip of some kind and then a main dish.  A couple years we have done hamburgers and hot dogs and a couple years we have done sandwich party platters from Subway.

One other thing I have found that seems to always be a big hit are balloons.  It is well worth the cost to get enough helium filled balloons for all the kids.  They make great decorations and then I have never met a child who doesn't love to play with a balloon LOL

Thanks for visiting!