Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pin 110

Original pin:
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Homemade pore strips--you know, like those Biore strips? Clever, right?

I'll admit, I don't have horrible skin. But I do have icky pores, for sure. I love pulling out all that gunk with the pore strips. I just love looking at all the gunk pulled out and feeling so refreshed afterward.

And here I am. Braving it all and sharing my personal photos with the world.

The before pores:

Following her directions, I mixed this up and slapped it on, FAST. She really drives home that you need to put it on fast. I had my mirror all positioned near the microwave and spread it on with the back of the spoon. Until it is fairly dry, this stinks!

Biore strips were only made for the nose and chin. I had always wished there were strips for other parts of the face. As she did, I applied it all over.
A few minutes later it was starting to set.
 Roughly 20 minutes later, I started the work of peeling it off. I started at my chin and worked the way up. Immediately, I noticed that there is something missing from the directions. While the mixture is drying, you should drink a very stiff cocktail.

Peeling this off is so very painful. I consider myself to have a rather high pain tolerance. This hurt. My husband asked more than once if I needed to go to the emergency room. In addition to taking off this first layer of skin, it took off every tiny hair. Ouch! I started to get worried when I noticed this giant stray hair that had embedded itself in the mask!

Very worried about this hair.

And I lost some eyebrow.

A chunk of baby hairs near the hairline.
 I did my best to spare the eyebrows and baby hairs by tearing off the mask and leaving the parts that were adhered to hair.

Saving the eyebrows and hairline.

For all the pain, for all the effort, I had one pore out. Seriously, I checked every little chunk that came off. For all the hairs and eyebrows sacrificed, I had one pore.

See my little pore.
And finally, the after picture:
Before on the left, after on the right.

Total cost: $2.29 for gelatin

Total time: 30 minutes including drying time. (Which you should utilize to prepare for the upcoming pain.)

Final verdict: Beauty may be pain, but this pain did not yield as dramatic results as I had wanted. I will not be doing this one again. The recipe made at least enough to cover two faces. I would recommend sticking to the Biore defined areas (nose and chin.) The cheeks, upper lip, and hairline were, by far, the most painful areas to peel this off of. It did exfoliate well and did remove unwanted (and some wanted) hair.

FYI: You can soak off the remaining pieces with warm water.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pin 109

Original Pin:
Pinned Image


How to build a great blanket fort.

One of the Rewards for Good Behavior chosen this week was "Build a fort and play in it."  Since this was a reward for being awesome, I wanted the fort to be just as awesome. I turned to my trusted Pinterest to help me out with this.

I wanted a fort with some staying power because little bro has a tendency to destroy forts with a single blow. I also wanted it to be . . . the. . . best. . . . . fort . . . . . EVERRRRR!!!  I wanted it to occupy them for days.

I used some of the strategies in this post to help me do this, but first, I had to clean up the playroom. Here is the shameful BEFORE picture. . .

What kind of mother would let her kids do this??!?!
An hour or so later, I finally started some serious fort building. Yes, an HOUR! I actually sorted all the toys as I put them away, packed baby toys away, and (sshhhh...) threw some junk out! (Yippie!)

My pin helped me in the consideration of creating windows and doors, stocking with toys, blankets, pillows. I had never thought about this before. I was just a toss-a-blanket-over-some-furniture type of fort builder.

Here is the final fort:

I used big binder clips to attach it to the toy shelving unit. The shelves are anchored with a lot of toys and books. See the clips up in the right?

I draped a queen sized sheet over our two small white arm chairs we keep in this room. I wrapped the sheet around the edges of the chairs and binder clipped them together to keep the roof tight. Daddy brought home some fabulously large boxes from work and we used those to provide support, windows, doors, etc. I clipped loose ends to boxes with clothespins to keep them in place.

The sign out side (sitting in the armchair in the pic above)

Hank tried to claim the fort first
 Inside, I used a large box to make an extension of the fort stocked with pillows. Any gaps I filled in with toys or stuffed animals--like the blue giraffe-dinosaur thingy.

One window stocked with action figures, another was stocked with Hotwheels.

Even though he knew this reward was coming, it was still a surprise as I created it after they were asleep one night. In the morning, I sent him to the play room to check it out and he was in love. Both of them were. They played in it all day--and nicely! I was so surprised by the gently sharing going on in there!

I had accidentally left out my pack of clothes pins and within 30 minutes the boys had discovered them. There were pins all around the fort, especially concentrated at the door. This quickly turned into our message system. Using an envelope, pencil, and paper, we communicated this way most of the day. It was a fun way to encourage him to practice his reading and writing. I would write a message requiring a response and clip it to the doorway sheet. He would respond and clip it back. I wrote things like, "Please go brush your teeth," and "What would you like for lunch? (check boxes) Ham sandwich or Pasta salad?" and "Ask your brother if he wants milk or juice and write it here:_______________."  He loved this message system.

There was one scary moment, though. With all the strategically placed boxes, the boys had designated areas of the fort for specific purposes. The one that brought up concern was when I tuned in to "You go in your bathroom and I'll go in mine." At which point, I chose to intervene. No pretending bathroom! For the youngin' who is not ashamed to pee anywhere and has! The last time they were pretending "bathroom" there ended up an empty toy bucket in the playroom with pee in it! I was not cleaning up any of that this time!!

But all good things must end. Midway through day 2 of the fort, a few rambunctious boys making some poor decisions about their behavior brought the victorious fort down. There were tears, oh, so many, many tears. Sobs, and dramatics. We all had a nice quiet rest and after that everything was okay again. As a consolation, I reminded him that the fort was back in the reward envelope and he could choose it again if he wanted.

Total cost: $0

Total time: After cleaning up the room, I think it took about 20 minutes to build the world's coolest fort.

Final verdict: I came from a family of all girls, so CLEARLY, my fort building skills are not up to par. These tips helped me to be world's coolest mom, if only for a day.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pin 108

Original pin:
Pinned Image
The link associated to this pin is a link to a link to a link to a link to a website in a language I can't read. It is not a tutorial. After a little research, I found it's home on etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/KnitStorm

These are adorable. I fell in love immediately. I pinned them to my knitting/crochet boards for the inspiration.

They are sooooo super easy to make. Whether you knit or crochet, you can make this!  If you don't knit or crochet, go buy one from KnitStorm! It is simply a rectangle with a few slip stitches to hold the ends together.

I am not going to post specific directions here because mug sizes are different and such. I started by picking a basic mug. (I knitted both of the ones below). Cast on (or chain if you are crochet) enough stitches to compensate for the height of your mug. Leave a little room at the top. You don't want the cozy to reach all the way to the rim of the mug, otherwise you will have a mouthful of fuzz with your tea!

After you have cast on/chained create a rectangle using whatever pattern suits you. Continue along until your rectangle measures from one side of the handle, around the mug, and is just a little shy of the other side of the handle. You want a little stretch so that the cozy is snug on the mug. Here I picked up the first stitch from the first row with the first stitch on the working needle and knit through both. (With crochet you could either work another crochet row through both the first stitch on the first row or just join the two ends with a slip stitch). I did this again for the second stitch and then cast of the first stitch so that there was only one stitch left on the needle. I knit through the third stitch and then cast off the second. For the fourth stitch I started to knit and cast off without going through the stitch on the first row. I knit and cast off all the stitches until there were only three remaining at which point I knit through the first row again as I cast off.

As I have said before, I am not a knitting pro, so if those directions are confusing, I apologize.

When the cozy was finished, I used some embroidery floss and cheap felt scraps to whip up the little tags and sew them on. I free handed them so they are surely less than perfect.

Before starting this project I looked around for some patterns. There are quite a few that use a button to connect the two sides, so you could go that route if you wanted. I didn't have any buttons handy and I really wanted mine to slip over the handle.

I know you are dying to see them.

I made this one first

Showing the way the cozy fits around the mug handle

Total cost: $0. I used yarn and felt leftovers from other projects.

Total time: About 3 hours each.

Final verdict: Very happy with the way they turned out. Just looking at these makes me want to curl up with a cup of hot tea. These will make great gifts in the fall.  Look out teachers. . .

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Pin 107

Original pin:

Pinned Image

Pinned with the description "40 ways to style medium or long length hair."

We've been traveling this past weekend and I needed a hair style that would hold up to travel, heat, wind, and wrangling kids, yet still look classy. I didn't want to go with a plain ponytail so I turned to this pin.

This website is awesome. There are tons of video tutorials and the one I used was simple and easy to follow. It held up all day. The videos are easy to follow and see what she is doing in them. I get bored with my hair daily and am always looking for something new to do with it.

At the end of the afternoon, and after a nap, I had a little stray escape.

Total cost: $0

Total time: 20 minutes. The video I watched was around 7 minutes, plus 15-ish for fooling around until I got it right.

Final verdict: I love, love, love new ways to do my hair. I will definitely come back to this site for more hair inspiration. I just love the way she teaches, too.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pin 106

I've got the sewing bug right now. I keep digging through my fabric stash and pulling out things to make. I bought this fabric months ago out of the remnants bin with this exact shirt in mind. I had planned in my head, after checking out this style on the rack a few times, that this was exactly how to make this shirt. This week, I came across this pin that confirmed my plan.

Original pin:
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This link isn't in English. I couldn't even guess which language it is because I know absolutely nothing about foreign languages other than a little Spanish. The picture is pretty self explanatory though.  It looks like the original shirt is made out of jersey knit and it would probably take about 5 minutes to make this from a shirt several sizes too big. Just cut from the shoulders where the sleeves meet the shirt and then stitch up the side seams.

But why would I want to make it that easy on myself?? Because I pulled this out of the remnant bin, I am not sure exactly what type of fabric it is, but it is very thin and fragile with a one-way stretch. When I bought it, I didn't know it had stretch to it. Once I started sewing it, I realized the stretch was only one way. I had tested some stitches out on a scrap to see which would work best for this fragile fabric.  Apparently I sewed along the non-stretch so when the fabric turned and my stitches started sliding all over the place, I figured this helpful information out.

I placed my fabric on my cutting mat and cut the width across the shoulders I wanted so that I had a large, doubled over rectangle, with the fold to be over my shoulders.

Next, I folded it in half again and cut the curved edges.

I knew I wanted a boat neck so I measured from my sternal notch to where I wanted the shirt to fall on my shoulders. This was six inches for me, so I measured this out and made a shallow, curved cut.

I tried it on to make sure the neck was right and the bottom was appropriate, then I went to work. I will spare you all the details about the ridiculousness that ensued as I tried to figure out the perfect stitch for this fabric. It involved a lot of curse words under my breath, a few holes (!) and a lot of patience.

Recently, I read this quote about sewing and it has stuck in my mind ever since. "Things should look hand made, not home made." I get so excited about finishing a project, I have a tendency to say, eh, no one will notice that, and move along to the next step. However, this time. I kept going back until I got it right. Either this fabric was going to be mangled, falling apart, lesson-learned garbage, or it was going to be the shirt I saw in it originally. Finally, finally, finally, I got the sides, bottom, and neck hemmed up, without holes, straight stitches with a narrow hem. The fabric was too delicate for a large hem. I just kept thinking, "If only I had a serger. . . "  I am too darn stubborn to let it go. I was going to make this work on my basic machine with my ball point needle and a whole lot of patience.

Stitching up the side seams was easy and without trouble.

In the end, I lost a little bit of length, due to some torn fabric and such. Because it is sheer, I would have worn a tank underneath anyway, so if it is a little short on the sides that is no problem. I am pretty happy with it. What do you think?

Total cost: $3

Total time: (sigh...) 2 hours.

Final verdict. I think it is lovely. It is a great mom shirt because the fitted sides give the appearance of a thin waist but the billowy front just hides my mommy tummy. Next time I must choose a fabric that is not quite so cantankerous and this thing will be done in 15 minutes.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pin 105

Original pin:
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I was making lunch for the boys last week. L often doesn't put in a lunch order, just says "surprise me." Being the good eater he is, pretty much anything I put on his plate he will gobble up. We had some bananas needing to be eaten so I decided to whip up an Elvis Presley special. I told him, "This is Elvis's favorite sandwich. Peanut butter and bananas." He then wanted to know who Elvis was and why this sandwich was so good and who made this sandwich for Elvis and did Elvis's mom know he was going to like peanut butter and bananas and did Elvis ever eat anything else other than peanut butter and banana sandwiches and. . . and . . .and. . ? Child of 1000 questions.

So I pulled out my iphone and dialed up some Elvis on Pandora. He was at the table and I was in the kitchen working on my lunch so the music was a little hard for him to hear. I popped my phone into a glass. He could hear it perfectly. It was actually so loud I had to turn it down to save my ears. This worked.

It is no fine quality speaker, but it worked in a pinch and was free! A great option for around this house because, sadly, I do not own speakers for my phone. Who needs speakers when you have a drinking glass?? The original poster actually said she preferred her coffee mug to the drinking glass. I guess I'll try that next time.

Elvis was done shaking his hips and Ben had moved on in.
Total cost:$0

Total time: 10 seconds

Final verdict: A cool trick to impress all your friends. We will definitely use this around the house.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rewards for good behavior

When I was creating the "BIG" rewards to go with our new behavior chart (Pin 104) I looked around a little to find some ideas to use. I didn't want them to all be costly, or sweets related, or TV time things. I actually didn't find a whole lot of suggestions out there, other than picnic or park.  I thought of things I know he really likes to do or really wants to do. If he asks for something big, we decided throwing it in here is a good option. I am okay with spending a little money here and there, or a little sweets here and there. Everything in moderation.

 Here are the choices we threw in:

1. Bubble bath or "glow bath" (See Pin 12)

2. Pick a restaurant and go eat there.

3. Make a fort (with blankets and chairs) and play in it.

4. Movie date night out with mom or dad.

5. Stay up one hour later.

6. Ice cream trip.

7. 30 extra minutes of computer or ipad time.

8. Movie night! Pick a movie and have popcorn in the living room. (Seriously, a big, big deal around here.)

9.  Bake cookies or cupcakes together.

10.  Make your own pizza night. (A fun night around here.)

11.  One hour of play in the front yard. (We play mostly in the back because I can supervise from the windows, the front yard is extra special and usually ends up with bike riding.)

12.  Special trip to buy a new toy. (Set dollar amount.)

13.  Trip to the park, you pick which park.

14.  Invite a friend over for a playdate.

15.  Game night with mom or dad.

16.  Skip quiet time one day. (Mandatory quiet time around here involves everyone in their own room for 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours daily.)

17.  Camping out in the living room for one night. (Sleeping bags on the floor, optional tent.)

18.  Root beer floats at snack time.

19.  Computer time at the library. (This is HUGE! He loves the library computers and I rarely let him play.)

He got his first big reward tonight. I gave him all the cards with the options on them and he lined them up on the floor creating a big train. He then went and read each one individually. Handing them back to me if he wasn't choosing that one. "Bake cookies or cupcakes!! Yummy! I'm saving that one for last."  "Where is that movie theater one? Oh yeah, I'm gonna get that one next time." You know what the first reward he picked was?

Game night with mom or dad. I think this speaks volumes about children. I assumed he would pick ice cream or movies, or new toy. But he chose game night, which means he chose us. His special reward for all his hard work is to spend quality time with us.  He chose it without hesitation and without regret. I guess that means that game night needs to be more of a regular thing and less of a BIG reward, huh?
I love this guy.

What do you reward your children with?

Pin 104

Original pin:
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One of my teacher friends pinned this and I clicked to see it because it looked interesting. It is on a site full of fun things for teachers to purchase and print out on their own. I have been looking for some new disciplinary strategies for L. We have been struggling with behavior lately. Back in the spring, L's asthma was out of control and we had to start him on a new medication that really affected his behavior. We tried to wean him off of it this summer, but his symptoms started to flare up again and we had to put him back on it. Now we just have to learn to manage the behavior that comes along with it. This week we started two new strategies that have been working like a dream, so far.

First, regularly scheduled, healthy, filling snacks. No junk allowed. I have been being more proactive and packing snacks for us if we will be away from home for the regularly scheduled snack time.

The second strategy is where this pin comes in. Associated with these coupons is a behavior chart.

While I don't care to have tickets, and L isn't quite old enough to understand the saving tickets and buying coupons concept (he's 5), I do like the rainbow chart with the clip moving up and down. I feel like he can check in with his behavior on this one. My husband and I sat down and modified it a little with our expectations and eliminated the tickets portion.

 Each color has a list of privileges earned or lost. There is a new clip for every day. He starts out every day in the lime green and moves up or down based on his behavior. At the end of the day his clip stays in that color. On Sunday, if he has four clips in dark green, purple, or pink, he gets to pick a reward from the envelope. He will get his reward sometime in the next week, depending on his choice.
Pink: 30 minutes of ipad, computer, video game time
1 hour of TV or 1 long movie
1 sweet treat or dessert
Free play or play outside

Purple: 15 minutes of ipad, computer, or video game time
1 hour of TV or 1 long movie
1 sweet treat or dessert
Free play or play outside

Dark green: 1 hour of TV or 1 long movie
1 sweet treat or dessert
Free play or play outside

Lime green: 1 hour TV time
Free play or play outside

Orange:  30 minutes TV time
No sweet treats

Yellow: No screen time (TV, computer, ipad, video games)
No sweet treats
No special outings (playdates, zoo, birthday parties, etc.)

He totally digs it. I move his clip up for lots of things, with and without warning. For example, "If you get a good behavior report from your playgroup leader I will move your clip up." and also, "You are being such a good helper with your brother. I think you deserve your clip to move up."  He loves to play on the computer or ipad so these are rewards he really works to earn. I also gave him the option that if he wants to move his clip up he can ask for a chore. If he completes the chore without complaining, his clip will move up. He can read all the words on his chart so if he asks for something, I send him to his chart to see if this is a privilege he has earned.  

The first day I read him all the rewards in his reward envelope. These are things he is dying to do. He is so excited to start earning these big rewards.

Total cost: $0 I made it completely from supplies out of the craft stash

Total time: 1 hour, including discussions of what we wanted at each level.

Final verdict: It is like I got a new child this week. There has been no yelling, no time outs, and much decreased negotiating. Time will tell if this will have long-lasting power. I figure as he asks for things, we will add them to the reward envelope or fit them into the behavior levels. If everything continues as it, he will be choosing his first reward tonight.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pin 103

Original pin:
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I had pinned this originally because I liked the pink shirt and I thought i could easily make this.

Turns out, I can.

Tonight I was going out for a friends birthday. While the boys were all napping this afternoon, I decided I wanted something new to wear tonight. While I didn't have this nice pink color in my scrap bag, I did have a blue shirt I'd been wanting to change up. It was a hand me down shirt that just never fit quite right. It was in good, like new, condition, but I just rarely wear it.

 I put it on inside out and, with a piece of chalk, drew a line following the collar line, over the bust and then down to the bottom sleeve seam exactly where I wanted to make my cut.
 Then, I cut the front following my chalk line and then cut the back pretty much straight across. I cut off the other sleeve just inside the seam. I took in the bust area so that it would be fitted and not slip down.

If I had extra fabric, I would have used the scraps to make the ruffles, but instead, I found another shirt from the scrap bag. I layed it flat and cut two inch wide strips from the bottom. I opened each strip up at one of the seams so that I had three long strips. I sewed a wide stitch straight down the middle of each and then pulled the stitch to gather the ruffle.

I sewed each ruffle along the baste stitch to the top edge of the collar all the way around the shirt. It took two ruffles to make the top ruffle. I placed the third ruffle on the front below the first ruffle to give it some fullness.

I tried it on and trimmed the shoulder strap in a little to give it more of a tank strap. Then it was done! Check it out!

You could easily add more rows of ruffles if you wanted it fuller.

I put it on with some white summer pants and was off to dinner. Very comfortable and plenty of room to eat in!

Total cost: $0

Total time: 45 minutes

Final verdict: I love my new shirt! The only thing I might change is that I didn't have any purple thread so I used some contrasting colored thread. You can see it a tiny bit if the ruffles are falling right. I would have preferred the thread to match, but its not too big of a deal. I might add another ruffle row to the front and the back but I don't want to add too much bulk under the arm. We'll see.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pin 102

Original pin:
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Pizza made in the waffle maker.

I stole a waffle maker from my sister in our yearly family Christmas exchange. No, not very sisterly, I know, but I just couldn't hold back when it came to kitchen appliances. It's actually worse than that. . . I didn't steal it, I made my husband steal it. Dang, I guess I had better get her something really nice this year. I digress. I want her to know that it is being put to good use so I am cooking with it on a regular basis. This is a new one to me though.

The recipe called for pizza dough in a package. I am a teensy weensy bit of a pizza dough snob and I only use my own dough that I make from scratch. I just think it is so good--and just as easy as the pre-packaged stuff. We make homemade pizzas about once a month around here. It is one of the boys favorite dinners because I usually let them help build the pizza. 

Other than the pizza dough, I pretty much followed the directions. I folded up the edges and sealed them with a fork (like when you seal a pie crust.) I'll be honest. I was a little scared of this. I had visions of the horrible mess this was going to make with burnt, baked on cheese and sauce.
Ready to close, here goes nothing. . .
This image didn't help out my fears any.

Holy cow! It was smoking and sizzling and soon started dripping.

But when I opened it up I was relieved.
This little baby popped out cleanly.

This one was intended for the boys, so it was a bit smaller than the rest. Theirs was just sauce & cheese, the one chock full of veggies for me, and Daddy got pepperoni.

After the fear of the burning mess was out of the way, I cooked the rest of them without fear. They didn't always come out pretty, but none of them burned.

The very last one, though, I learned something. Don't close the waffle maker all the way. The last one was so stuffed full of pepperonis and cheese that I couldn't close it. This gave the dough a little room to expand, it didn't lose as much sauce & cheese, and just tasted better overall.

The taste? It was kind of chewy inside the waffle squares, the thinnest parts. The kids did not go for it at all. Torn between his love for waffles and his love for pizza, W just kept asking when he was going to get his pizza.

The fluffy one with no leakage.

Side view of a cheesy inside
Total cost: $4 for pepperoni and cheese. My crust is from flour, yeast, oil, and sugar--all which I keep steady supply of

Total time: 1 1/2 hours starting with the dough.

Final verdict: This was a little messy, although not as bad as I had predicted. My husband liked it. I thought it was just okay.  I admitted to my pizza dough snobbery and I just didn't get the delicious crust that I am used to.  The kids were totally disappointed by it. A cute idea, but it didn't save me any time or mess than a traditional pizza or pizza pocket. It would be a great idea for a meal for one or two, or maybe if you were cooking without an oven. I probably won't do this again. I would rather have an oven baked kind. We threw the leftovers away.