Thursday, December 8, 2011

Less Pinning, More Doing: Burlap Ruffle Wreath

Hi, my name is Queen Bee and I am a pinaholic.  Yes it is true, I admit it, I have an addiction and it is called Pinterest.  I've pinned way too many things that chances are I most likely will never ever make or do, but they're organized so lovely and easy to find.  Instead of jamming my computer with all sorts of never-to-be-made project ideas, its now on the internet!  Yippee!

My goal this week has been to do:

I didn't get off on the right foot seeing as I had a sick 18-month old Monkey who decided he needed to be held pretty much every waking minute of his day.  But today:
Can you believe it?  I hardly can.  After weeks of pinning, I've finally made my very first official project!  And its so lovely too.  The idea originated from Janet at Today's Fabulous Finds.  You can click over to her to get a more detailed view of the project.

I made a ruffly wreath made form burlap.  So cute.  This year for Christmas I'm in to rustic and glitter.  I'm not so sure how either one of those connects, but I'm trying my darnedest to some how make it all work.

Here she is:

For this one I used a green-tinted burlap, but I also made a traditionally brown burlap wreath as well.   Since I made the green one specifically for Christmas, I hung it from a big red frame I had (you might recognize it from the Willy Wonka party we had a few months back).

Here's a few tips I learned form doing this tutorial.

  1. Foam rings are tricky.  You should be able to find them at your local dollar store, for none other than....a dollar!  Amazing.  If you're struggling to find them or your dollar store doesn't have them and you don't want to fork out like 6 bucks, try this technique.  I didn't do it for my first wreath, but did for my second.  I do recommend covering the entire thing in duct tape or else the pins will all pop out.
  2. Like I said before, I used this tutorial, which was good, but I was just a little confused on how to pinch the burlap squares (I don't know why, I'm a little challenged at times!), so I made my own picts of it.  They may or may not be easier to understand.

Mediterranean Chicken

The first time I made this was when we were living in Palm Springs.  I was 8 months pregnant, had a tiny outdated kitchen, and humongous silver dollar-sized cockroaches (NOT exaggerating...ask my mom!) running around inside and out.  Not quite the best of memories (especially the time one ran across my back in the night...but that's a story for another time).  Every time I make this it brings me back to those good ol' days of living in the desert oasis we then called home.  Luckily I don't usually think of nasty gigantic bugs when I eat this, cuz its sweet and tasty (the chicken that is)!

  • 1 cup oil-based Italian salad dressing
  • 1 (6 oz) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 4 oz each), pounded to 1/4" thickness (I usually forget this step)
Preheat grill (or stove...I usually don't grill this, just do it in a pan on the stove).  Blend salad dressing, orange juice concentrate and salt in a medium bowl.  Remove 1/3 of the marinade and reserve for basting.  Trim any fat from chicken; pierce with a fork.  Add chicken to marinade; turn to coat.  Remove chicken from marinade; drain well.  Discard marinade in bowl.  Brush grill rack with oil to prevent chicken from sticking.  Grill chicken, turning and basting frequently with reserved marinade, for about 15 minutes.

Good served with grilled vegetables or pasta.

Serves 4

Lemon Parmesan Linguine

I can't recall when I obtained this recipe, I just know it was one of the ones I found early in our marriage.  Its a great go-to recipe, since most everything is usually in my kitchen.  Its VERY easy and basically only takes as much time as it takes to cook the noodles (Since Marvel is allergic to wheat, I substitute the linguine for rice pasta. ).

  • 8 oz Linguine, uncooked
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Cook linguine in boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until tender.  Meanwhile, in another saucepan, combine butter, lemon juice, basil, garlic powder, and lemon-pepper.  Cook and stir until butter is melted.  Drain linguine; add to butter mixture and toss to coat.  Add Parmesan cheese and toss.

Serves 4.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Spinach Smoothies

About 3 years ago, my friend (and old college roomy) posted this recipe on her blog.  I'm always in search of yummy, healthy stuff, and its like bonus points if its a tried and true recipe from someone I know, so I tried it.  I'd never tried spinach in a smoothie before. It was GREAT!  I've never looked back!  My boys LOVE spinach, thanks to Popeye, so you put spinach and berries together...score!

  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 3-4 cups of spinach (fresh)
  • A couple handfuls of frozen strawberries and/or blueberries or any other frozen fruit you want (peaches, mango, blackberries, etc)...blueberries are my favorite!
  • 1 banana
  • Flax seed (optional)...I throw in a spoonful.
  • Water
Poor all ingredients in a blender, leaving the water for last.  Poor water until it fills almost to the top.  Blend.  If nothings blending, you might try adding a little more water.  

**You can really use any variation you want.  I DO suggest that when using spinach in a smoothie, always use banana...the banana isn't very strong, but without it the spinach gives it a very bitter, dry taste.  Its amazing what 1 banana can do!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bucket Lists...

...I've never really had an official one.  I suppose I'm always adding to a list that is somewhere up there in the dusty attic I call my mind.  I try not to live with regrets.  I don't ever want to look back and say "I shoulda, coulda, woulda..."  If I were to die tomorrow, I don't want to regret not doing anything on some imaginary list, but rather want to know that what I've accomplished thus far was great and a mighty adventure in and of itself.  

But today is the day I think I'll write some things down officially.  Not really because I've been thinking about it or because I particularly want all of the world wide web to know about it, but because I want to enter this contest.  Its all for selfish reasons, I know! 

To enter I only have to list 15 things, so here they are (thus far and in no particular order):

1 - Travel (perhaps live) abroad with my husband and kids.  I want to show them where history was actually made.  What an amazing homeschooling adventure that would be!

2 - Learn to REALLY play an instrument.  Guitar, piano...perhaps the fiddle.

3 - Get a REALLY nice camera and take pictures everywhere I go...annoyingly so!

4 - Go to Florida with my husband where he served a 2 year mission for our church and see it through his young 19 year old eyes!

5 - Design and build my own house with my husband.

6 - Live on a cattle ranch.

7 - Have a girl.

8 - Have an old big beautiful barn that I can throw fun, beautiful parties/weddings in.

9 - Learn a language.
10 - Sell one (or more) of my sewing designs to a big company and sit back and make lots of moola off of them without actually having to sew it all myself!

11 - Go back to school.  Just for fun.  I'd love to take some cooking, photography, design, sewing...classes...learn to do it all for real.

12 - Be financially stable enough so I can help others like me now.

13 - Make my own cheese.

14 - Get fit so I can keep up with my kiddos.

15 - Ride a white horse down the beach while wearing a white dress.  Don't know why, but this has always been a fantasy of mine :-)

Well there you have it.  The beginnings of my bucket list adventures!
What's on YOUR bucket list?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

Fall is the perfect time to eat soup.  Unfortunately its also the time when most of us get sick.  I'm one of those lucky ones.  Monkey and I both caught some sort of cold-like bug and its miserable.  Moms and kids shouldn't get sick at the same time!  Today I was really feeling the soup crave ands since I had a chicken carcass hanging out in my fridge from the other night, I felt this the perfect time to try my hand at making homemade chicken soup.  I've never done it before.  My mom makes great turkey soup after Thanksgiving and always asks me if I want the carcass, but I've always been too scared.  Now I have NO idea why.  

Its SO easy!  

And tasty!  

Oh, and it helped me feel better!

  • 1 whole chicken {or turkey} carcass {we had a Costco rotisserie chicken the other night, so I saved the carcass from that}
  • 2-4 cups chopped carrots
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • Noodles {I used penne rice noodles for our gluten-free family members}
  • salt & pepper to taste
Place carcass in large pot.  Cover with water {I fill it until its about an inch above the carcass}.  You can throw in whatever herbs you want if you please.  Put a lid on it and and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer for about an hour to 2 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone {the longer, the more flavor you'll draw from the chicken!}.  

Strain the meat and bones out of the broth.  I do this by placing a strainer in/over another large pot and pouring it in.  Take out the strainer and sift through the rubble.  Take out all of the bones, fat, skin...whatever else you don't wanna bite in to.  

At this point if you made too much broth or just want to have some good, preservative-free chicken broth for later, let it cool, then freeze it {ziplock bags or ice cube trays work great!).  

Throw the good edible stuff back into the pot of broth. 

Toss in the carrots, celery, and onions and/or whatever other veggies you'd like to add {zucchinis good in it too, but you might want to put them in a little later so they don't get too soggy}.  I also threw in some salt at this point {about 1/2-1 tsp}.  

Bring to a boil; turn down and simmer until carrots are nice and soft.  If you want to add noodles, add about 10 minutes before the carrots are ready {Depending on what type you use...check the package, it might take more or less time.  I used rice noodles and am not a big fan of the starchy paste it creates when you boil it, so I boiled them in a separate pot, then threw the cooked noodles in the pot when the veggies were done.  Its not as good that way, but it sure beats the yucky starch buildup!}

When the veggies are soft, you know you're done!  

Taste the broth and see how it is.  Add more salt and some pepper if you'd like.  

Spoon it up and enjoy!

I'm telling you, this is SO easy!  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Instrument Families

When I was in elementary school, we had one hour a week when our teacher would send us down to the music room to have a music lesson from the music teacher.  We sang songs, we learned to clap rhythms, play the recorder, read music, and all sorts of music stuff.  I consider myself blessed.

Now a days kids are lucky if they sing songs in their normal classroom with their normal teacher.  Period.  That is unacceptable to me!  So I've decided to make music class a part of our normal school week.  Every Monday we'll have a new music lesson.  For our first lesson I taught the boys about musical instrument families.  I made this pocket chart to go with the lesson:

I introduced each family by reading some facts on them.  I used the info from this site.  Then the boys would go through all of the pictures of instruments and find those that went with the family we were talking about.  It was a breeze!

When the chart was all filled up, we went through our little box of kid instruments.  The kids sorted them into families, then we discussed why each instrument belonged to that family.

Next week I think we're gonna go down to Music Man's studio and have the kids point out all of the instruments for each family!

Harvest Festival

Living in the Central Coast of California, I really couldn't name my favorite season.  It is beautiful here literally all year long!

I love winter here, because while its snowy and freezing everywhere else, its absolutely gorgeous here {I've done the snow thing and I hate living in it!}.  There are chilly days, there are warm beach days.  The warm beach days are awesome because there aren't any tourists, so we have the beaches all to ourselves!

Spring is a no brainer.  Everything is blooming and green and beautiful.

Summer brings lots and lots of sunshine {we rarely get the real HOT 100+° generally fluctuates between 75-85 degrees}, which means lots of the beach, park, hikes, adventuring, travel...

What I love about Fall are the colorful leaves, the bare trees, the rain, the sunshine {we have some of our hottest days of the year in the fall}, eating soup, picking apples, going to the pumpkin patch, and...


We've gone every year since we found out about it {about 4 years now} and we love it!
They have some festivities Friday night, but we some how never make it to that.
Saturday morning starts off with a parade.

We got there a little late, so we missed 1/2 of the parade...

...but we managed to get our favorite spot at the end of the parade route!

Guess who was sitting right next to us?
Why good ol' Abe Lincoln!
Marvel was VERY excited.
He said, "Look, its Abraham Lincoln, the penny president!"

My brother and his family, as well as my sister and her boyfriend were in town, so they {along with my parents and baby sis} joined us following the parade.

Its nice to have my parents live so close where we can see them often.
It had been a while since we'd seen my mom...Monkey REALLY missed her!

Following a little chit-chat, we were off to celebrate the harvest!
Of COURSE we had to check out the police hummer!

Then we were off to play games!
First off the Cow Pie toss.
Cap was struggling a bit on this one...

...but NOT Cousin R...she nailed every one!

The Boy Scouts' Nerf Crossbows are Marvel's favorite EVERY year!
And he's pretty good at the too!
Grand Pa {yes, that's how we say it lol} helped Cap out. I think he was enjoying shooting more than Cap!

Marvel was stoked {do people still use that word?} to get these purple Dracula teeth!

The kids each took a turn to see how strong they were.
Marvel & Cousin K did great!

Cousin R did the best of them all!
Cap kept missing the mark...didn't know his own strength I Music Man stepped in to help.

Cap finally found a game he could nail!

The kids spent some time in jail...

...then took the next coach out of town!

Next stop: the ferris wheel!
{gotta love the cousinly love!}

Marvel and Cousin K stepped up first in the green cage.
Then the Captain and Princess R...I think they had the most fun!

The Big Ditch Derby is always Music Man and Marvels' absolute favorite part of the Harvest Festival. 
Every year they vow that they will build a derby car together and enter the race the next year. 
And every year they don't build a car and they don't enter. 
But they sure do have fun watching!

In the middle of all of the festivities, they open up the Heritage Museum.
They have lots of train sets {which was by far Grand Pa's favorite!}...

...and guns.  Lots of guns.  And knives too.
Believe me when I say Marvel and Cousin K had just about died and gone to heaven when they spotted this display of old vintage weapons.  Just look at their faces as they watch the cowboy tell them all about the guns!

What a FUN day.  Harvest Festival, you never disappoint!
Phew, that was a LOOOOOONG post.


Every morning as part of Group Time, we read scriptures as a family.  This year since we are studying Ancient history, we decided to start at the beginning and read from the Old Testament.  To be perfectly honest, I've never read straight through it.  I learned about it in early morning seminary at church during high school.  And I took a class in college on it.  But I never really read straight through.

Each morning during scripture time, we read from the Old Testament, then Marvel and Captain make a notebook page on what we read.  They start by telling me what they remember from our reading {sometimes this warrants some hints}, which I write down for them.  Under their explanation of the chapter(s) they draw a picture to illustrate it.  This all gets pretty interesting at times, especially the narrations!

The first week of school we started at the beginning with Genesis, so we covered the Creation.  I don't always do an activity for everything that we read, but I happened to have this pocket chart from last year {we did a science unit using the creation...we did a little mini unit on each day.  I.e. when God created the sky and seas, we learned about the Water Cycle and the weather}.

After we read about the Creation, I quized the boys by having them put the events in the right order.  I happily surprised to see that Marvel knew every single one!
I guess he learned something after all!

Even Monkey wanted to get in on the action!

Marvel was really into his drawings.

Cap wanted to make sure he drew the right thing for each one.
He kept leaning to Marvel and asking what he should draw next.

Here's Captain's 7 Days of Creation:

My favorite part of the day was when Cap excitedly showed Marvel his picture and Marvel pointed out all of his favorite things. :-) {Please ignore the fact that Captain America is posing as Captain Underpants in this picture}

While the big boys drew their pictures, Monkey quietly sat and read books.
He didn't even notice me taking is picture!

Ok, guess he did.
What a cute baby!