Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chalk It Up

Hi friends.

Sidewalk chalk season is in full swing around here. Abbey loves it, and between our balcony and the sidewalk out front it is out almost every day. I don't know about you, but I can only draw so many flowers, write so many names, and create so many hopscotch boards before I'm out of ideas. I'm not an artist, like, at all, so I need all the help I can get! Here are 10 fun ways to move beyond plain old chalk drawings.

Exploding Sidewalk Chalk Paint from Growing A Jeweled Rose: This looks like so much fun! A combination of a classic science experiment, chalk art, and the perfect amount of anticipation!

Grid Art from The Educator's Spin On It: What a great project! Turn any picture you want into a grid and transfer it, square by square, onto your sidewalk. This would be perfect for an art birthday party, or even just a group of neighborhood kids. You can also make it easier or more complicated simply by changing the picture!

Glitter Chalk Paint from Still Playing School: Oh my goodness, Abbey would love this! I love that it is just as good on paper as it is on the sidewalk. Good for rainy and sunny days!

Scented Chalk Paint from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Don't have a glitter fan? Add fun scents to your paint instead! Think of all the options! 

Nature Mandalas from Nurture Store: These are absolutely beautiful. Find flowers from your yard, or take a nature hike and make these. It's great for little ones who are working on their colors, too!

Mess Free Sidewalk Chalk from De Tout et De Rien: This is perfect for those kiddos (and mamas!) who don't like the feel of chalk on their hands. They also store so easily! I may be making some of these soon.

Chalk and Tempera Painting from Buggy and Buddy: OK, so this one isn't a sidewalk activity, but it was too cool not to include. Again, I'm not an artist, so things like this are new to me! I love how using the white tempera paint leaves you with a watercolor effect. So cool!

Wet Sidewalk Chalk Art from Happy Hooligans: This one is so simple that you're going to smack yourself for not thinking of it yourself. It is amazing how one little thing can change the entire look of chalk drawings!

Fizzing Sidewalk Paint from Kids Activities Blog: More science fun! This one let's kids create what they want, then turn it into fizzy fun!

Sidewalk Puddle Art from Lemon Lime Adventures: You can either do this one after a great summer rainstorm, or bust out your hose and create your own puddles. Either way you'll end up with the prettiest puddles ever!

How do you get creative with chalk?
Have you tried any of these before?

Be blessed!

Monday, May 26, 2014

DIY Juicy Lucy Bar

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.
Hi friends!

It's Memorial Day today here in the States. A chance to remember lost service members, and spend time with family. Parades, spending the day outside, and barbecues are standard fare.

This is what you want to do at your barbecue. I promise.

For those of you who may not know, a Juicy Lucy (or Jucy Lucy, depending on your history) is a midwest thing. More specifically, a Minneapolis thing. Basically it is a cheese-stuffed burger, with cheese on top. Yes, please!

Now I don't know about you, but Kraft is the first name I think of for cheese, and you want good cheese for this. Walmart has all sorts of choices, but I went with Sharp Cheddar, Italian 5 Cheese and Mexican 4 Cheese. I grabbed some barbecue sauce and mayo while I was there, too.

Confession: I typically fall on the Miracle Whip side of the aisle, but for this mayo was perfect. I don't like mayo on its own, but I love it mixed with other things! Tonight it was sriracha and pesto. Yum!

OK, now lets get down to business!

Ready, Set, #SayCheeseburger!

Here is what you need:

  • Ground meat (1/3 lb per person)
  • Cheeses
  • Toppings: bacon, lettuce, tomato, etc...
  • Sauces: Mayo, BBQ sauce, ketchup, relish, mustard, whatever else you like
  • Buns

Start by portioning out your meat of choice. We used beef, but you could easily do this with turkey, too! I season my burgers with a generous helping of my favorite garlic/sea salt grinder. Easy peasy. We went with 1/3 lb burgers, with a smaller one for my daughter.

Now get that cheese ready!

Remember making pinch pots in Kindergarten art class? Do that with your burger. Then fill your pot up with your cheese of choice!

Pinch it up, squish it into a patty, and toss that baby on the grill.

Try not to drool too much as the cheese inside gets all melty and gooey.

Once your burgers are cooked, it's time for the fun part. Toppings!

Cheesy bacony goodness? Yes.

BLT with pesto mayo and cheddar? Yes and yes.

Marinara, pesto mayo, and oozy, melty mozzarella? Yes, yes, and YES!

Bananas? Also good.

We kept our toppings pretty basic this time, but you could go as exotic as you want to. Have a crowd that likes spicy food? Layer on those peppers! Mexican night? Guacamole burgers! The possibilities are endless! This is also great when you are cooking for a crowd because everyone ends up happy, even the kids.

Thanks, #collectivebias!

Want even more burger ideas? Check out the ideas that Walmart has!

How would you top your burgers?
Are you a wild topper or a classic burger builder?

Be blessed!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Painted Garden Markers

Hey there, friends!

Have you started planting gardens where you are? We finally have good enough weather, so we decided to get some herbs planted. I have been trying to encourage Abbey to do more handwriting, so I had her help me make some garden markers!

What you need:
  • craft sticks
  • craft paint & brushes
  • permanent marker
  • seeds
She started out by painting the craft sticks. I set her up with some paint and let her go to town.

Once those were dry I gave her a permanent marker and had her write the name of each herb we were planting on the sticks. This was a great chance for her to practice her handwriting.

She had to look at each name and decide how big her letters should be. Some words were little, while some words like "lavender" took up more space.

She also had the chance to practice copying text. Rather than spelling out the names for her, I handed her each seed packet, showed her which word to write, and let her copy it on her own. She did a great job!

I think she did a great job! In case you were wondering, those drawings at the bottoms are seeds. Her own artistic interpretation. ;)

Then we got to planting! As I grabbed each seed packet, she found the right stick and stuck it in the dirt. Reading practice! Bonus!

I have one proud little girl! It took a while for her to understand that it will take a while for our herbs to sprout. She checked them at least 5 times this afternoon! I can't wait to see her face when they sprout!

What are your favorite herbs to plant?
Do you dry them and keep them, or just use them fresh?

Be blessed!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Homemade Sensory Play Mat

Hi friends!

It's time for more Ultimate Baby Blog Hop fun! Guess what...

I made a quilt! 

Let that sink in for a second.  A quilt. With a top, and a middle, and binding. Binding! It also turned out exactly like I had it in my head, which pretty much never happens. I'm pretty proud of this thing, not gonna lie.

Owen is almost 6 months old now (hold me!), and he wants to explore everything! He's not mobile yet, but he spins like a clock hand when he's laying on his tummy. I wanted him to have a play mat that would let him explore all sorts of sights and textures.

Here is what you need for a 36 x 36 inch play mat:

  • 1 1/2 yards total for top fabrics (I used quilting cotton (airplanes), flannel (stars), and minkee)
  • 1 1/4 yards backing fabric
  • 1 1/4 yards quilt batting
  • bias tape or quilt binding (I used satin)
I chose different fabrics for different reasons. I knew I wanted minkee because it's soft and dreamy, and the bumps add a nice texture. I loved the flannel because the stars stand out really well against the white background. When I saw the airplanes they were a given because my husband is a pilot, so we airplane all the things. It doesn't hurt that they're adorable!

I wanted each stripe to be a different size, so I quickly sketched out what I wanted and made sure my total added up to 36 inches. Then I added an inch to each strip to account for a 1/2 seam allowance. Cut strips. Sew strips. Easy peasy. I added ribbon loops between the center strips to add some fun texture. Owen can grab them, or we can attach toys to them.

The bottom strip has some buttons sewn onto it. I wanted to make sure they were really going to stay put, so they are stitched through both the fabric and the batting. They give Owen something else to explore, and stand out nicely on the white flannel. 

Once the top was stitched together I cut a 36x36 square of both the batting and the backing fabric. Then I sandwiched them all together and zig-zag stitched straight down the seams in the top. No fancy quilting here.

Once the whole thing is quilted together, add the binding. You can use plain bias tape, but I really like the satin binding. It added one more texture to the whole thing, and I love how the satin contrasts with all the softness of the rest of the quilt. I had never done a mitred corner before, but they're actually pretty easy! SewNews has a very easy to follow tutorial.

And you're done! Seriously, if I can do this, anyone can. All said and done it only took me a few hours. 2 naps, tops! Now you have a nice soft place for your little one to explore. Lots to look at, lots to feel, lots to learn! Since it's relatively small it is also super portable. Perfect for outings or playing in the back yard with big sister.

It is also excellent for exploring your toes.

This guy was a total grump for all of these pictures. Not a smile to be had! Apparently fussing his way through a 2 hour nap didn't do it for him today. Are you ready for the grumpiest blog model ever?


Look at that face! He just laid there like "what is happening, and why am I here?" #keepinitreal.

Go, make this play mat! It is so much easier than you think, and you will be so proud when you are done!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Today is a very fun day in the blog hop. Everything is about play! Take a look at all the goodness going on across the web!

*Sensory Play
Mirror Play for Babies - Still Playing School
Jewelry Sensory Box - Trust Me, I’m a Mom

*Gross Motor
Baby Play: Newborn Exercise - True Aim Education
Combining Gross Motor & Art - Bambini Travel
Tummy Time Entertainment - Hand Made Kids Art
Tummy Time: Why & How? - The Inspired Treehouse
Baby Play: Rolling a Ball - Wildflower Ramblings
How to Encourage Baby to Crawl- The Realistic Mama

*Busy Boxes & Baskets
5 Fun Busy Boxes for Baby - Squiggles & Bubbles
14 Treasure Bins for Baby - Wildflower Ramblings

*Outdoor Play
5 Ideas for Playing Outdoors with a Baby - Barefeet on the Dashboard
Outdoor Play Ideas for 0 - 12 Months - Winegums & Watermelons

*Arts & Crafts for Baby
9 Tips for Painting with Infants - The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide

And there's still time to enter the giveaway! Get on it!

Be blessed,

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pretty Nails for Spring

Hi friends!

So, I need, like, the most low maintenance nail polish for my finger nails. Something that can get all chippy and destroyed without being painfully obvious. Who's with me?

Read all about my favorites at {Fancy Little Things}

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Becoming Mama

Hi friends.

Remember when you were little and your moms had all the answers? Seriously, they knew what to make for dinner, what you should do when you're bored, and where to find all of your lost things. All questions could be answered, and no answers were wrong. Well, at least until we hit 13.

Here's the thing that I've learned about motherhood...


I am completely out of my depth. I have no idea what I am doing. The fact that I am entrusted with two tiny lives to mold into productive adults is absolutely baffling.

So I read everything I can get my hands on. I listen to the "experts", and a get frustrated by the Mommy Wars. Every day I worry that I'm doing something wrong. That somehow I am ruining their childhood. I should have been playing instead of cleaning the kitchen. No! If they live in a messy house they will never learn to pick up after themselves! But there's always time for a story! But there's so much laundry to fold!

I keep thinking that someday, someday I will become the mama I want to be for them.

But here's the truth:

I don't have to become Mama. I already am Mama.

From the moment these two amazing, exhausting, perfectly imperfect little beings entered the world, I was Mama. Nothing in my power could ever fully prepare me for it. On my own, I am not capable of the love that they require.

But God is.

All my life He has been walking beside me, loving me with the most perfect love imaginable. It is because of His perfect love that I am able to give my children even a fraction of the love they deserve. Mama isn't something I can become. It is something He made me. He chose these two for me, and me for them.

I don't have to become Mama. He made me Mama.

And I am so glad He did.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
Are you here for the Ultimate Baby Blog Hop? Welcome! I'm so glad you're here! We have an amazing lineup for you this week, and you don't want to miss it.

First of all, there is an incredible list of bloggers behind this thing! I'm honored to even be a part of it. This team of women has been working their tails off to bring you the best of the best!

How can you make sure to get all of this goodness for the next 10 days? Here's how:

1. Check out the main landing page HERE at Lemon Lime Adventures (She's the mastermind behind this thing, and she's pretty much amazing. Go show her some love!) All the bloggers on this team, and how to find and follow them will be over there!

2. Follow us on Pinterest! Everyone will be linking their posts to this board, so don't miss all the goodies.

Oh, and did I mention the giveaways?

Look at these giveaways!

I mean COME. ON! Have you every seen anything so great? All throughout the week there will be chances to win prize bundles, as well as flash giveaways. If you are a new mom, know a new mom, or think you might ever be a new mom, you want in on this!

Want to read what some of the rest of this fantastic group has to say about celebrating motherhood? Check them out!

Sweet tooth: from mother to children ~ La Cité des Vents
Happy Mother’s Day {Free Printable} ~ Bare Feet on the Dashboard
The Day I Became a Mom ~ The Jenny Evolution
Being a Mom of Growing Readers  ~ Growing Book by Book
How We Ordered a Baby ~ Let the Journey Begin
Celebrate Motherhood: They Call Me Momma ~ The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide
Time After Time ~ True Aim Education
A Hand Made Family ~ Hand Made Kids Art
Four generations ~ Wildflower Ramblings
#ItWasMom ~ Trust Me, I'm a Mom
A Letter To Myself (As a New Mom) ~ Peace but Not Quiet
Becoming Mama ~ It's A Long Story
Simply Mom ~ Plain Vanilla Mom

Alright, friends, have fun! I'll be back later in the week with some fun baby stuff!

Be blessed,

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Favorite Educational Printable Resources

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure page for more information. 
Thank you for your support!

Hi friends!

Even before I knew for sure that we would be homeschooling, I loved finding great printables for Abbey. She is my workbook/worksheet/seat work girl. We have been doing things like do-a-dot pages, pre-handwriting sheets, and puzzles for years. Now that we are homeschooling, I love printables even more! They make pulling together Abbey's curriculum so much easier. When we started out this year Abbey fell somewhere between Pre-K and K, so it was hard to find a full curriculum that was a good fit. We have been piecing things together as we go, and these sites make it so easy!

3 Dinosaurs
These were the very first printable I ever found! We were flying to Arizona to visit friends, and would be going on a Polar Express train ride. I wanted some activities for Abbey to do on the plane and in the car, and I found this pack! I've been hooked on her site ever since. She has printable packs for just about anything you can think of. I was sad for a while because Abbey seemed to be growing out of these, but now the updated packs are great for older kids, too! Lots of different math skills, which Abbey loves. They make putting together unit studies so easy. We're about to start using the Bug Pack. Cassie is amazing, has consistent quality and I know we'll be using these for a long time. 

This Reading Mama
I found Becky through Cassie! They have been working as a team for some time now putting together fantastic FREE printables to go with the Bob Books early readers. Our entire reading/writing curriculum for the year has come from these pages! Abbey loves the different games, puzzles and activities and the quality is impeccable. 

We are also huge fans of the other resources on her page. Having an early reader, it can be hard to find books that work for Abbey, but don't get her too frustrated. Becky's book How To Choose "Just Right" Books is a huge help! She also has some great reading and spelling resources! We've also been having fun playing her Word Bump game, which you can get for FREE on her facebook page!

Meet Penny
I actually got to hang out with this lovely lady this past weekend at 2:1. She's fantastic! She has an amazing deal on her site that you HAVE to know about. If you join her membership program, you will have access to all of her printables and ebooks over $3.99 FREE FOR LIFE! Yes, that's right. Sign up as a member once, and have access to anything that comes in the future!

Also, if you join between now and the 12th, she is having a 40% off sale! That makes lifetime access $15 instead of the usual $25. A smokin' sale on top of a smokin' deal? Yes please!

^^ Click here to sign up! ^^

There are so many other great printable sites out there, but these are my first 3 stops. These really are all purpose activities. You don't need to be a homeschooler to use these in all sorts of ways. Road trip? Print some out. Need activities on the go? Print out some of the puzzles, laminate them, and throw them in a bag. Want to help bridge students though the summer into next school year? These are great!

Do you have a favorite place for printables?
How do you use activities like this?

Be blessed!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Caprese Paninis

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gro-ables for SocialSpark.
All opinions are 100% mine.

Hey there friends!

Remember when I posted about Miracle Gro Gro-ables and gave you all sorts of yummy caprese ideas? Well, I have another one for you!

Caprese Paninis!

So easy, so delicious. Here's what you need.

  • Crusty bread
  • tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • marinated fresh mozzarella
  • salt & pepper
Start by dicing up your tomatoes and basil. Toss them with a little of the vinegar and oil, then add some salt and pepper. If you have one near you run, don't walk, to your closest Trader Joe's and get the garlic salt grinder. It will change your life.

Brush some oil on your bread. Layer on your tomatoes and some big fat slices of mozzarella. This marinated mozzarella had some red pepper in it which gave it a really great kick. Plain mozzarella would be fine too, but not as much fun!

Now, top it off with another piece of bread and put the whole kit & caboodle onto your panini press/skillet/george foreman grill and get it all toasty and gooey.

Yum! Pair it with a salad and you're all set! The only thing I can think of that would make it better would be making it with tomatoes and basil straight from the garden.

I waited a little too long to plant my Gro-ables, so they haven't sprouted yet. Here they are hanging out with my new flowers.

They were seriously so easy to plant. Those two pots have tomatoes and peppers. The basil pod will be going in my new herb garden!

You know what else goes great with fresh from the garden veggies? Dip! This one from Sprout It sounds amazing! I mean, can you really go wrong with feta cheese? I don't think so.

I seriously love these little pods. You can learn more about Gro-ables here:

What is your favorite way to eat veggies?

Be blessed!
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