Monday, March 30, 2015

Little Red Hen House Craft from Tissue Boxes

Once in a while I like to take old tissue boxes and make some sort of craft with the kids.  If you've been following my blog for a while, you've seen us create rocket ships, fairy houses, and castles from old tissue boxes.  This year, to get ready for Easter, we made a little red hen house.

You will need:  3 (or more) square shaped tissue boxes, additional cardboard (we used a Pepsi box), scissors, red duct tape, and craft glue.
Trim the top of the tissue boxes to make the openings larger.  Line up the tissue boxes and then tape them together using red duct tape (we found ours at Walmart, for just under $4).

After you get the boxes all taped together, cut a piece of cardboard for the roof.  The Pepsi box worked well, because it already had a natural bend in the cardboard.  Trim it to size, then cover with the red duct tape.

Using craft glue, secure the roof to the body of the hen house.  Let sit for several hours to adhere well.

Fill with Easter grass (or hay, as we did) and Easter eggs.  Have fun!

Readers, do you have any Easter egg hunts in your near future?

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Over Under Gene

I don't get into those online debates about whether the toilet paper should be over or under.  But I do have a strong preference.  Imagine my surprise when someone kept turning the toilet paper the other way in the bathroom.  Each time, I would turn it around.  I would come in later, and it would be the other way.  Someone was definitely messing with me!

I knew it wouldn't be Paul.  He's not the sort of person who takes any notice of things like the direction of toilet paper.  Which left one of the boys.

Eventually, Reid 'fessed up.  I was so surprised it was him!  He told me that I kept putting the toilet paper on wrong.  ME!?  I tried to tell him that no, the toilet paper was supposed to go the other way.  He argued.  He continued to turn the toilet paper around on me.

Do you think there is an over/under gene?  He's only five.  Yet he seems to have been born with a toilet paper preference.  A strong preference for the roll being over.  If only his preference, and my preference, matched up!

Alright readers, do tell.  Did you get the over or the under gene?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Veggie and Spinach Enchiladas Recipe

I cook a lot of Mexican style foods.  Paul and I lived in Texas for six years, and grew to love Tex-Mex while there.  Enchiladas are a family favorite.  I make them all different ways, and often just toss together ingredients and roll them up.  This version turned out particularly well, and it makes two family-sized servings, so you have dinner for the night, and can freeze the second batch for a future dinner.

1 12 oz. bag frozen corn, thawed
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
4 oz. fresh spinach
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 4 oz. can chopped green chilis
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
12 8 inch flour tortillas
1 cup green enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 400*.  Spray two baking pans with cooking spray.  In a bowl, mix corn, beans, tomato, zucchini, chilis, spinach, 1 cup cheddar, and 1/2 cup Jack. 
Divide filling among tortillas, roll up and arrange seam side down in baking dishes (I tend to use a 3 quart pyrex for one batch, and an aluminum casserole dish that I can wrap in foil and a big ziploc for my freezer batch.
Top each with enchilada sauce.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. 
Readers, do you have a favorite Mexican food?

Monday, March 23, 2015


Way down the backroads, near absolutely nothing, is this place called Mable's.  Or Gary's.  It has two signs.  We've always called it Mable's though.  I suspect Gary is the current owner.

It's been there for years.  Longer than Paul and I have been in the region.  A huge old building, resembling a barn, the miles of junk stretches throughout.

You never know what treasure you might unearth.  It can be difficult shopping there, as many things seem to be buried.  I apologize for the glare in the pictures - I took these with my cell phone.

I have fond memories of visiting many such places with my parents as a kid.  The junkier the place, the more possibilities!

On this day, we didn't find anything that we had to have.  I saw a few tea cups with saucers that I loved, but I thought them a little overpriced.

Readers, do you like to go treasure hunting?

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Bobsled Run, Part 2

I took so many pictures of the kids sledding on the bobsled run that Paul built in our front yard in the February snowstorm, that I decided to put them in collages.
 This is from the first day, before it got so incredibly fast we started making the boys wear helmets. 
 Even on the first day, there were some interesting crashes.  Paul and I crashed a few times too.  Luckily, the snow was quite soft.

 The picture at the bottom corner shows the run before Paul built up the sides really high.  In the next collage, you can see the banked sides later on.

It sure made for some great free fun.  I don't remember ever enjoying the snow quite so much! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Homemade Easter Soap Giveaway, 2 Win

I'm giving away another set of my homemade soaps.  This is a really sweet glycerin soap bunny with an Easter basket.  It will be scented in either lavender or lemon verbena. 

To enter, all you need to do is click on the Rafflecopter below.  I will ship anywhere!  Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 16, 2015

I'm a Lacrosse Mom?

The flyer came home in January in the boys' folders.  Lacrosse.  I knew nothing about lacrosse.  Paul knew nothing about lacrosse.  The boys knew nothing about lacrosse.  But Reid said he wanted to play.  So began the process of finding a bunch of second hand gear - there is padding for every part of the body.  Plus a helmet.  And cleats.  And a mouthguard and protective cup.  I asked a guy in Play it Again Sports how the game is played.  He said, "Basically you put on a bunch of padding and beat on each other."  I thought, "Hmmm.  Reid isn't going to like that".  We are very much a family that emphasizes personal space.  My boys don't wrestle.  They don't play rough. They have never seen a football game on television.  And if you've been reading my blog for a very long time, you might remember the big soccer flop we had several summers ago. 

Lacrosse kids are brutes!  Even when they are just supposed to be listening to the coach, they are constantly pounding on each other with their sticks and elbows and hips.  It's a different world, but they all seem to be having so much fun.  They don't want to quit playing - they beg for more, and they yell in enthusiasm over every game. Even though Reid is the smallest on the team, he endures these pokes and prods from older teammates without complaint.  The practices are long - two hours - and although Reid seems exhausted towards the end, he keeps going out there and trying.

Reid is not at the point of shoving back in all this hardcore playfulness.  But at his first practice he did manage to knock another kid's ball out when playing sharks and minnows.  The other kid laid down and cried.  Reid looked at me in horror.  I gave him a thumbs up, and he looked so surprised.  I'm sure he was expecting me to tell him to go tell the kid he was sorry and give him his ball back.  But this is lacrosse.  No apologies for stolen balls!

It's very different for me.  I never did team sports.  I rode horses.  I did cross country one year in high school, but that's still a solo sort of performance.  I have to say, though, lacrosse seems more interesting to watch than soccer or basketball.  And I know how to say "Great job" or "I'm so proud of you!"  In the long run I think that's all I really need to be a good lacrosse mom.  After all, it seems to be working when I'm dance mom for Cort (because I know nothing about dance either, although I am learning a bit as I go). 
In the end, all they really need is to know they have your support, right?
Readers, do you have any lacrosse tips for me?  I still don't know how a game is played.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Bobsled Run

I did not think that Paul could top the huge igloo he built during the big snow of 2014.  But he outdid himself this year by building a bobsled run in our front yard.  He banked up the sides, and we used a snow tube.

I am not much of one for hanging out in the snow.  But once I went down one time I was hooked, and so were the boys.  It was wicked fast.  The second day, it got even faster, and we started making the boys wear helmets to go down.  It was the most fun I remember having in a very long time.

No way can Paul outdo himself next year!  This was just too much fun.  I will have more pictures in the near future.
Linked with Good Fences at Run A Round Ranch.
Readers, what is the most fun you remember having in the snow?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Apple Lime Jello Dessert for St. Patrick's Day

I know I've been showcasing a lot of desserts for St. Patrick's day over the past couple of weeks, but this is the last one.  And it is so simple to toss together, but kicks a lot of flavor.  In my house, it comes highly kid-approved.

1 cup applesauce
1 small box lime jello
1 can lemon lime soda

Bring applesauce and jello to a simmer over medium heat.  Remove from heat.  Stir in lemon lime soda.  Let cool in fridge 10 minutes until slightly thickened.  Spoon into individual serving dishes, and refrigerate until set.

Enjoy!  Readers, do you have any special plans for St. Patrick's Day?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Handling Stress with RESCUE

Many of you know that my background is in psychology.  I have two jobs - one of them teaching psychology classes at a local college, and the other working with people in the community who have mental health challenges and need assistance in daily functioning.  With the latter job, a big focus of what I do is helping people find healthier ways to manage and cope with anxiety and stress. 

Stress happens to all of us.  There is a spectrum on our capability of handling stress - some people roll with the punches and daily hassles better than others.  But regardless, we all have moments where life can feel very overwhelming.  Kids get sick, cars break down, there are family tensions - all sorts of moments, both happy and sad, can knock us a little off balance. 

The best ways to deal with stress are healthy ways - talking with a friend, getting out in nature, participating in a hobby.  Techniques that heal our mind without causing any harm to ourselves or others.  There is also a homeopathic product line that I've been using for over ten years called RESCUE that brings natural stress relief and helps you stay calmer during difficult times.  I first discovered RESCUE over ten years ago.  My family was flying to Florida, and my youngest brother was experiencing significant anxiety over flying due to a traumatic experience he'd had some months earlier, flying in a thunderstorm over the Rocky Mountains.  He was totally freaked out about stepping foot on a plane again, so my mom picked up RESCUE for him to try. 

Non-habit forming, the ingredients include flower remedies for things like: courage and presence of mind, focus when ungrounded, patience with problems and people, balanced mind when losing control, and softening impact of shock.  It immediately helped calm my brother, and after having a more positive flying experience, his anxiety lessened.

One thing I like about RESCUE is that it has no side effects.  I am very sensitive to side effects, and have had some negative experiences.  Because RESCUE is homeopathic, it works with my system and does not cause side effects like drowsiness.  It just seems to gently take the edge off, and I feel mentally calmer.

When I was in the store picking up the Pastilles, which I have taken before, I noticed that they had a  sleep liquid melts line.  I decided to pick these up for Paul and I, since we both have trouble sleeping at times.  I put them on the nightstand for the next time I was tossing and turning.
RESCUE sleep liquid melts include homeopathic ingredients to treat some of the same issues as the Pastilles, but also includes relief from repetitive thoughts, which is exactly what plagues me when I cannot sleep.  They dissolve on the tongue, and I found the orange oil taste very pleasing.  Paul and I both were very impressed with the sleep that we had after trying these.  I am such a light sleeper, but felt like I slept deeper than usual, and awoke without the grogginess or headache that a sleeping pill might cause.

RESCUE is a brand that has been around for over 70 years.  You can find it at places like CVS, Whole Foods, and Walgreens.  It is used by millions worldwide, and I have found it to be an effective and healthy way to provide stress relief when you most need it.  Want to try it?  Check out the website for more information, and a coupon! 

Readers, do you have any healthy ways you like to manage stress?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. This is a sponsored post.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Homemade Lemon Verbena Life is Good Soap Giveaway, 2 Winners

Time for another one of my homemade soap giveaways!  This time I am featuring a lemon verbena scented soap, to get everyone in the mood for spring.  Technically, spring is right around the corner! 

How cute are these homemade glycerin soaps?  They are a light lemon yellow, and feature a sunflower with the words "Life is Good". 

There will be two winners.  To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter giveaway.  I will ship anywhere.  Good luck!  And stay tuned - in a few weeks, I'll have another soap giveaway, this one for Easter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Readers, do you decorate your home for Spring in any way?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Irish Cream Cake Recipe for St. Patrick's Day

A few years ago I went to a recipe exchange potluck, and one of the recipes brought was an Irish Cream Cake.  I've wanted to make it since then, but had not because every time I thought about it, I remembered I needed to pick up Irish Cream.  Well, I finally made a trip and got some, and was able to make this wonderful cake.  It's very easy to toss together.

Irish Cream Cake Ingredients:
1 box yellow cake mix
3/4 cup Irish Cream
8 oz. sour cream
4 eggs
1 bag chocolate chips (11 oz.)
1 small box vanilla instant pudding
1 can cream cheese icing (you will only use a portion of this).

Mix cake mix, sour cream, eggs, Irish cream, and vanilla pudding.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour into a bundt pan and bake at 350* for one hour.  After cake cools, heat icing in microwave for 30 seconds and spoon drizzle over cake. 

I was a little leery of the canned frosting, as I don't really care for the taste.  But it was good drizzled over this moist and flavorful cake. 
Readers, do you have any special recipes you use for St. Patrick's Day?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Grasshopper Pie Recipe

With St. Patrick's Day on the horizon, it is time to break out some 'green' recipes.  I have a funny story about this one.  It was a favorite dessert that my mom made when I was a kid.  I took the recipe with me to college, and tried to replicate it.  I did not know what crème de menthe was, and thought I could substitute mint extract.  Now, the recipe calls for FOUR tablespoons of crème de menthe.  That's basically an entire bottle of mint extract.  As you might imagine, it was quite inedible!  I called my mom afterwards, and she laughed and explained that crème de menthe was a liquor.  I wasn't 21 yet, so the recipe was set aside for a while. 

Never fear, readers.  This is actually a very easy recipe, assuming you know the difference between crème de menthe and mint extract!

Crust - 1 1/4 cup chocolate wafer crumbs and 1/3 cup melted butter (or just use a store bought crust if you don't want to mess with this).
24 large marshmallows
1/2 cup milk
1 package of Dream Whip, prepared
4 tbsp. crème de menthe

For the crust, mix and press into a buttered pie plate.
For the filling, dissolve marshmallows in hot milk over a double broiler.  Cool.  Prepare Dream Whip and add crème de menthe.  If desired, add extra green food coloring at this point.  Combine the two mixtures and pour in crust.  Top with crème de menthe chocolate pieces and freeze. 

It was fun to share this with the boys, as they loved it every bit as much as I did as a kid.

Readers, do you have any funny cooking mistakes you'd like to share?