Home Maid Simple: May 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday Tip - Light Switches

It's the little things that matter.  We've all heard that saying.  What could be smaller in the home than the lightswitches? They're just a button on a wall, hardly worth noticing unless you need to turn the light on or off.  When we moved into our home, one of the first things I noticed was we had different light switches in each room.  No biggy really, but I thought it was pretty funny that the previous owners did change all the light switches.  I do think it will make a difference in our home if they are all the same though. It will just add that feeling of unity as we move from downstairs to upstairs, and one room to the next. 
So of course this week Mark has asked me to switch the old switches to the newer kind. Of course I was thrilled he asked me to take this on, because I've been itching for a house project to do.  Mark went through the house last night, and made a count - 5 upstairs and 4 downstairs need to make the switch (pun intended), from old flip switch to the cool flatter ones.  I'm hoping it's a simple fix, because I really don't know much about electrical work!

Memorial Day

Memorial Day - a day to remember our soldiers fighting over seas, and those who have passed on.  It is also a day to remember our own loved ones who have passed on.  Living where we do now, I am close enough to visit my grandfathers grave site.  He died before I was born, and I wish I could have met him.  I don't know much about him, other than he was a farmer, and a hard worker.  There are times while I am taking care of my grandma that I wish I could've met the man she loved.  I feel very grateful that I have the opportunity to at least visit his grave site, and tell the little I know to my children.
We cut some of the Iris's in our front yard to take with us, and off we went.  It's been a long time since I've been there, so I had to go off memory, and my mom's directions.  Of course we woke up to snow this morning too, so I left the family in the car while I went on my search. Once I found it, I headed back to the car to get the kids out.  I brought one flower for each of them to lay.

Then because of the weather we went and saw Kung Fu Panda 2.  I know not the most educational way of spending our day, but it was cold outside.  Then we had some friends over for a traditional Memorial Day BBQ, and the sun came out.  It's amazing what you can get kids do to if they think it's a game -

Our original plan for the day was to do yard work, but the weather wasn't really cooperating.  So when we had 7 kids at our house,the sun out, and a shovel for each, the yard work became play!  I think we got maybe 5 loads moved over!
I hope you all had a memorable Memorial Day, and took time to teach your children about our brave men and women who fight and die to give us the freedoms we enjoy!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sentimental Sunday - Books

Today I'm feeling quite sentimental about books.  I can't remember a time of my life that books weren't a part of it.  Some of my very early childhood favorites were Cindy Czekeres Counting Book 1 to 10 (which I still own!), and Earrings.

From there it turned into my mom reading us chapter books like Little House On the Prairie
And my dad reading us The Chronicles of Prydain

So of course with my own children I have been reading to them.  I love finding new books, but also reading the classics.  Most nights I give the girls some books to look at in bed until they fall asleep.
This morning, I had to wake Princess C up for an early church meeting.  I sat on the edge of her bed, and oh my goodness! She had taken our Childrens Classic Peter Pan book to bed with her.

Of course I wouldn't have minded except that she had torn about 20 pages out, and had them in a pile by her. I wanted to cry.  A classic, and there was no way to save it.  So I woke up Princess C, and tried very gently asking her why she tore out these pages.  In her own words
"I saw Peter Pan, and Wendy, and Tinkerbell"
Of course. I'd pull pages out of a book too, if I'd seen Peter Pan!  I couldn't be mad at her, but from now on, she'll only get board books at bedtime.
Now the question was what to do with the book.  I've seen these Book Wreaths all over the place and have really wanted one.  Of course there was no way I was ever going to tear up a perfectly good book just to make a wreath.  Turns out I didn't need to.  Once we got home from church I browsed around for a good tutorial.  Besides, a great tutorial, I found a great new blog too!
Then on to making the wreath!

The book in it's destroyed form :'(

I started out tracing my 2 plates, and then cutting them out.  The inner circle was a bit harder to cut out.

Then we started rolling the pages into cones.
Once they were rolled, I started gluing them on to the home made wreath. I should have placed them first, but I wasn't thinking, so I had a lot of "holes".  Thankfully a second layer covered that up!  I added a finishing touch, by gluing the book cover to the back, so we can see Peter and Wendy in the center.  Then I attached some ribbon, and hung it in Princess V's room.

She's really excited to have this in her room.

While I was over at Sit Relax and Read, I found she does a weekly link up called Sentimental Sunday.  I've been looking for some good topic to post about each week and was thrilled to find this link up.
Sit Relax and Read

Friday, May 27, 2011

Salt Lake City Bees - Family Outing

I love baseball! I can't begin to describe my passion for baseball.  So when a friend said she had some extra FREE tickets to the Salt Lake City Bees Game, I couldn't pass it up.  She wasn't kidding either, she gave me 8 free tickets.  So of course I called my friend C to see if her family wanted to join us.  The catch was we had to use the tickets before the end of May, and last night was their last home game.  The girls really got into it, and we wore baseball caps (except me, somehow it got left at home, oh well.)  When we left it had been sunny, but the time we got into the stadium there was cloud cover, and wind.  Thankfully we had brought at least one blanket!
 I just love Princess C's face here, haha! Just as I snapped the picture, her hat started falling off.
Princess R was enthralled with the game, and anything else like the slushies and cotton candy guy walking past. 
What's a baseball game without a little souvenir?  Mark took Princess V for a walk, and they came back with this little Bee's bat. She hardly let it go of it the rest of the game.
About the 7th inning the kids became restless, and cold.  The Bee's were having a hard night, and Mark remembered he still had to work in the morning.  So we headed out.  It was perfect timing, because guess who we met on the way out?
BUMBLE the Bee! Princess V did not want to get anywhere near him, but we could not keep Princess C away. I think she may have snuck into a few pictures with other families.  

I truly believe that part of creating a happy home, is getting out of it with the family. When we focus on our family, and take the time to spend with our children, our home becomes one of joy.  I'm looking forward to more family outings this summer!

Just have to mention as well, I love the Bees, I root for them, since they are our local team, and we can actually go see them play.  I will always be a Boston Red Sox fan though.  No matter where I live, the Red Sox are my team!  And I am pleased to say that since marrying Mark I have turned him into a baseball fanatic, even more so than I am!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hanging Pictures

We still have a few more to hang, and some to figure out where to hang, but this is what we have so far!
This wall I just finished this morning.  Mark got The Family: A Proclamation to the World hung shortly after we moved in.  I got the Japanese symbols for Christmas, and have been waiting until we had a house to hang them.  So today I went searching for the perfect place.  I had a different spot in mind, but when I went to grab these plaques, this spot just stuck out.  I knew it was where they were going.  I found Mark's measuring tape, grabbed a pen, and did some measuring, marking and hammering.  I really like the way it looks, and the peace it gives to the front room.  Here's a wider view of the wall it's on
They are directly across from the couch.  
This next picture wall is in the Family Room.  The whole wall isn't complete yet, but it is with pictures.  
I'm planning a vinyl saying above the whole collaboration.  Something like "Families Are Forever".  Then on either side, we have these little black shelves will be adding.  I still don't know what we'll put on the shelves, but I've got plenty I could change out with the seasons.  I also love that as we have more children (because we are planning on more) we will easily be able to add them in an effective manner.  Oh, and I really need to update the girls pictures, they are all a year, or more, old.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday Tips - Quiet Time

I was thinking today how I really enjoy some quiet time.  Especially since my children seemed to be non stop screaming today, and my head hurt.  How do you find some quiet time for you? Is there a time that you set aside to just sit and ponder?
For me I find the best time is early in the morning before anyone else is up.  I used to be a morning person, getting up before the sun, to just have that time to myself.  Listening to the birds wake up and begin singing, and watching the sun come up.  It's such a pleasant time.  Having three kids, that started to change, I reveled in my sleep, and didn't get up until the kids got up.  I am slowly starting to change that though.  I want to be a morning person still.  For me, the morning should start right with a little pondering on the day and reading my scriptures.  I personally have a better attitude and more patience with my kids when I follow this routine.  I become less lazy and more gets done around the home.  So watch out, I'll be getting up early from now on!!

Fitness Challenge - Week 7!

Wondering if I'm still doing this? Oh yes I am! I stopped posting though, because I wasn't thrilled with myself.  I was doing the majority of the tasks, but my exercise was seriously lacking.  I'm pleased to announce though, that I have recommitted to exercising every day!  A big part of that is that this is the last week of the challenge. The other motivator is my birthday.  I'll be turning 25 in just 1 1/2 weeks, and if you recall, one of my goals this year was to run a 5k on my birthday.  I'm even more excited because my sister said she'd run with me!!  It is going to be a blast!!  I've started running in the evenings again (when the weather is nice), and I try and take a child with me as well.  We got lucky and found a jogging stroller someone was going to throw away, so it was free.  This stroller is awesome, plus it really works the upper body while running as well.
Ok so how am I doing with the rest of the challenge -

  • Drink 64oz+ of water daily - not great, but this challenge has really helped me start choosing water consistently over juice and soda.  I'm not a fan of water flavor though, so I love me some propel (just found a great deal at Winco - .48cents!!)  No sugar, just good old flavored water.  I also have enjoyed some Smart Water.  You can buy them in 32oz bottles, which helps get even more water in a day!
  • Exercise 30+minutes a day - not so great.  I want to, but I just have a hard time finding the time.  It is extremely hard to exercise with a 1yo sitting on your back, or hanging onto your leg. I do believe my crunches are doing double duty though as I have a child pushing on the abdomen at the same time, lol!
  • No sugar - I MISS SUGAR! This has by far been the easiest thing for me to cut out.  I do miss my sugar, but I have been happier, and just felt all over better without the sugar.  I never read labels before, but now I always check at least the sugar content.  Under 10g and I allow myself some, over and I put it back.  Once this challenge is over, I think I will still continue to limit how much sugar I eat, say one brownie after dinner, instead of half the pan?
  • 6+ hours of sleep - Like I said before, I'm amazed that I'm getting this much sleep at night. As a mom of 3 small children, I really thought I was maybe getting hours at most.  Just the knowledge that I do actually get more has changed my attitude.  I handle midnight wakings better, and I don't complain about lack of sleep anymore.  
  • No eating after 8pm - hard, but successful.  I like eating snacks after the kids go to bed and it's relaxing time with Mark.  But I've stuck to only water after 8, and if I did want to snack, it was on something more nutritious like popcorn or mangoes.
Well, on to the last week! You can check out the whole challenge over at Fun On A Dime, or follow the button on the right sidebar!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Marie Callender's - Better than Homemade?


Would you say Marie Callender's is better than homemade?  This recent article lists 8 Grocery Store Products that are Better than Homemade (really).  Among the list is Marie Callender's Frozen Chicken Pot Pie.  So I was contacted and asked whether I thought Marie's Pot Pies were better than homemade.  What a question!!
This took me on a trip to the grocery store where I purchased a Marie Callender's Frozen Chicken Pot Pie.  In all honesty, I probably didn't need to purchase one just to answer this question.  I happen to be a huge fan of pot pies, homemade or store bought.  Something about a good old pot pie is very satisfying.  However, I wanted to make sure I gave an honest opinion, because it had been awhile since buying some of Marie's Pot Pies.  Oh they had so many choices!!  Should  I choose the classic chicken, perhaps turkey, hold on they even have beef pot pies!!  Oh there were so many choices, but I decided on my personal and all time favorite, the classic Chicken Pot Pie (not to be confused with the Creamy Parmesan Chicken, or the Creamy Mushroom Chicken).
Well, I brought my Chicken Pot Pie home, and had it for lunch the same day. (darn, I took some pictures of the yummy goodness, and now I've lost the memory card!).  Imagine with me if you will...a perfectly sized pastry for one. Not too small, but not enough for leftovers.  You take your fork and break through the top of a flaky, not mushy, crust to find warm creamy sauce covering chunks of chicken and vegetables.  Now you place that bite in your mouth, and your whole body relaxes.  That's what eating a Marie Callender's Chicken Pot Pie is like for me.  Yum! Seriously, the peas tasted like I had just picked them out of my own garden, that's how good it was! 
So on to this question...was it better than homemade? I say it depends on who's cooking.  I'd sure love to sit in Marie's kicthen while she's cooking.  It's probably better than my homemade (which may be why I haven't made one in about a year...).  I wouldn't necessarily say it was better than homemade, but most definitely equal to homemade! It tasted homemade itself! 
As a mom one other thing I love about Marie Callender's Pot Pies (and other products) is that it saves me time in the kitchen.  Have you ever made a pot pie from scratch? That takes a lot of time.  Marie Callender's saves me the time so I can spend more of it playing with my kids, working on making this place a home, and just enjoying the day.  

*I was compensated by Marie Callenders and The Motherhood for this post, however all thoughts expressed herein are my own.   

Friday, May 20, 2011

Menu Planner

How cute is this?!
A lady in my ward makes these cute weekly menu planners.  We made it to playgroup for the first time today, and she was giving them out.  We had a service auction a couple weeks ago, and she was auctioning these off.  They were the hottest item that night! So I count myself very lucky that she was kind enough to give me one anyways.  There is velcro under each day of the week, and then meals with velcro to go under each day.  Things like soup, sandwich, casserole, leftovers.  I am so excited to use this in my menu planning.  Since moving I've really slacked in the dinner department.  I don't think I can resist using such a cute item!! Oh and then you just clip the recipe card to the bottom, and even husbands can get dinner started!!

The Night Night Book Winner

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip


About Carapelli Olive Oil
In 1893, in the quaint town of Montevarchi, Italy, a man named Constantino Carapelli began selling olive oil, founding a family business that has become an Italian tradition. Constantino’s dream was to move his olive oil and grain business to the beautiful city of Florence. Forty-seven years later, his dream became a reality, when his sons constructed warehouses in the Florentine suburb of Rifredi and supplied olive oil from the family oil mill at Ponte a Ema. The newly built warehouses were destroyed during World War II, but the Carapelli family forged ahead. They rebuilt the structures and started anew. The hard work paid off, and by the 1950s, Carapelli was a household name in Italy, gracing tables across the country.
Since the founding of Constantino’s family-based company, generations of experienced artisans have passionately preserved this distinctive tradition of taste. Today, at its state-of-the-art facilities, the people of Carapelli have made an art of combining Old World craftsmanship with New World standards.
As a leader in olive oil, in the 1970s, Carapelli was the first olive oil producer to promote bottled extra virgin olive oil in Italy. Today, Carapelli is Italy’s market leader in extra virgin olive oil production. Since 1893, Carapelli Olive Oils have been passionately crafted with exclusive blends of the best oils from the finest Mediterranean olive groves.
Our rich heritage and mastery of creating high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oils ensures each of the Carapelli varieties is drenched in olive oil passion and has distinctive flavor to decidedly enhance all your recipes.
Carapelli Olive Oils are naturally cholesterol free.

About Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Made solely with 100% Italian olive oils, Carapelli 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a deep velvety green color and intense, robust flavor and aroma, for an unmistakably Italian experience every time you cook. Perfect for dipping, salads and flavoring entrees or side dishes. Excellent for marinades

I used Carapelli Premium 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil to make some Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip.  Whenever we go out to eat Italian, I always order some spinach and artichoke dip to start, so whe nI found this recipe on Carapelli's website I knew I had to try it!  I didn't have all the ingredients so I made some small substitutes and it turned out great!

Orginial Recipe
2 tablespoons Carapelli Extra Light Olive Oil
1/3 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain
1/2 cup chopped Peloponnese roasted sweet red peppers
2 cups combined shredded Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheeses
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Assorted crackers, vegetables, breadsticks or toasted pita bread wedges, for dipping
Cooking Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. In skillet, heat Carapelli Extra Light Olive Oil. Sauté onion until softened, about 3 minutes. In bowl, combine sautéed onions, mayonnaise, sour cream, artichoke hearts, spinach, roasted sweet red peppers, cheeses, garlic powder and hot pepper sauce. Place mixture in shallow baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly and the edges are golden brown. Serve hot with assorted crackers, vegetables, breadsticks or toasted pita bread wedges, for dipping. Makes 24 appetizer servings.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
My substitutes
Yellow Onion for the Red Onion
7.5oz jar of artichoke Hearts
4oz frozen spinach plus 7oz frozen collard greens prepared the same way
1/4 cup Sundried Tomatoes in oil, patted dry with a towel and chopped instead of Roasted Red Peppers
1 cup Monterey Jack with Jalapeno Peppers Cheese in place of plain Monterey Jack cheese.
no hot pepper sauce

I enjoyed my substitutes but I think the original recipe would be even better.  There was a little too much green in mine.

Mmm, mouthwatering! Spread on some french bread, it was perfect!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Upcycled Card Table

Due to my design impasse yesterday, I found another outlet for creativity.  My card table.  It was ugly, but I wanted to be able to use it wthout having to throw on a table cloth.  The mind sparked, and I grabbed the rolls of contact paper my sister in law gave me last summer (I knew they'd come in handy someday!)

As you can tell, we've used our card table for some painting. 
I am just loving this new table top!  It was so easy too! I originally thought what I had was wall paper, but it wasn't, it was contact paper.  You need to clean and dry the surface first, or it won't stick. Measure and cut your paper to the desired length.  I had to use two sheets to cover the whole table, but they blended nicely.  I cut mine about 2inches longer than the table's top so I could wrap it around the edges.  Peel off the backing and stick! The directions suggest using a straight edge to push any bubbles out and to get it all to stick.  I just used my hand and it worked nicely.  And Voila! this is my new craft and puzzle table!

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Design Impasse

Well, I'm stumped.  We're not sure how to arrange our front room.  It's a great space with awesome windows, but things just haven't clicked yet for me.  Here's what I'm working with

The way we have it set up right now I like because it opens up the windows, allowing in that natural light.  I don't like it because it makes the room look and feel smaller.
We originally had the couch on the back wall there, with the chairs on either side facing in.  The problem with that is the couch pretty much covered the windows, and lef the room feeling unbalanced. 
Any ideas for me? If this was your front room, what would you do?  I guess maybe I should start with getting all the stuff that doesn't belong out. So much stuff!!

On a different note - what do you think of this fan?

Walking into the house this is the first thing I saw and fell in love with. It makes me happy!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Baby's Room - DONE!


I spent most of Wednesday working in the baby's room to get it all organized and set up.  It is so nice to walk in there now and not feel cluttered!
After we got the toys and books organized on the shelf, we added the vinyl flowers! We got these at a great price on amazon, and used a gift card earned through swagbucks
Mark got her puzzle hung up in a perfect spot! The puzzle is a tradition we've done with each child. When we find out the gender, we buy a puzzle to put together and then frame.  Every family should have a tradition!
And last was the closet.  I had to go through some boxes to find the 12 month clothes, but we found them.  Then I put the old clothes back in a box to store for another child.  I love this closet.  There's just so much space perfect for organizing a small childs clothes.

We still have one more picture to hang.  When Princess R was born Mark bought me this beautiful print of a mother holding a baby.  It always makes me think of Mary holding Christ.  It just fills me with peace and joy - similar to the feelings I get when I look in the eyes of my children.  However, middle of the night awakenings make it hard to feel that, so the picture really helps!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Night Night Book Review and Giveaway

The Night Night Book

The Night Night Book
Written and Illustrated by Marianne Richmond

This cute bedtime story is quickly becoming one of our favorites!  It's a similar concept to the classic Good Night Moon.

Starting with a child in a "Comfy bed, All tucked in", this story takes your child back through his day of arts and crafts, toys, and friends and ends telling the moon goodnight and looking forward to tomorrow. 

I absolutely loved the rhyming in this book.  It even got me rhyming after reading it.  Unfortunately, my rhyme has yet to be finished - here's what I've got so far -

Night Night Rose, With your eyes so blue....

It definitely needs another line with it, but there's so much that rhymes with blue!


One lucky reader is going to win a copy of The Night Night Book!

Rules - Open to US only. Last day to enter is May 19th. Leave one comment per entry, and a way to contact you if you win.

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*I was not financially compensated for this post. I did receive a copy of the book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday Tip - moving

I know, I know it's been awhile since I've done a Tuesday Tip.  I started them, and then got so busy with house hunting and moving, that I just never got back to them.  So todays tip

When you're moving, do it all in one day!  I'm so serious, the longer you take moving your stuff the longer it will take to feel like you are home.  We had the whole month of April to move in, and we took the WHOLE month of April.  I was at the apartment for a couple hours Saturday (the 30th!) trying to get it all clean to avoid any extra charges.

Another problem with the slow moving, is that regular life still goes on.  You still have to cook meals, clean bathrooms and floors, and make sure the children get the attention they need and deserve.  So you don't have time to slowly unpack all the boxes.  If you do it all in one day, you normally have someone else there to help watch children, you grab some takeout, and you get it all moved and unpacked quickly. 
If I had a good working camera, I might have shared a picture for motivation. As it is you'll just have to take my word for it.  Move in one day (maybe two), but don't spread it out, you'll regret it. 

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Princess Peach Costume

*In accordance with FTC guidelines. I did not receive any financial compensation for this post.  I was provided with the product for my honest review.  All opinions expressed in this post are my own!

This last month I had the opportunity to review a costume from the Costume Super Center.  It's a great place for cheap Halloween Costumes!
We got to pick the costume for review, so Princess V and Princess C and I sat down and browsed their huge (and I mean HUGE!) costume collection.  It was really hard deciding, but when we came across the Girls Deluxe Super Mario Princess Peach Costume, we knew we had a winner!  It was decided and within a week we reveived our costume.  We opened it right away and within seconds it was on Princess V and it was not coming off anytime soon. 
The quality is just amazing! We so often in our society associate the word cheap with poor quality.  The Costume Super Center offers cheap halloween costumes, that are also well made and will last.  When ordering the Girls Deluxe Super Mario Princess Peach Costume, I was struggling with their site (ok my computer was actually just acting funny) so I was unable to find how they measure the sizes.  I ordered a medium so I would hopefully not be too big or too small.  It was perfect!  It is just slightly bigger than Princess V (4 years old), so she should be able to wear it for at least 2 years maybe more!
Now so you're wondering, they do have a size chart, and it's really easy to locate and size for each costume (I did go back once we got the computer back up to par!)
I just can't help posting all these cute pics!

The Girls Deluxe Super Mario Princess Peach Costume comes with the dress, gloves, and crown.  Everything a Princess needs! 

The Costume Super Center has a great selection of kids costumes ranging from the decades, to movie characters, to the scary stuff like zombies.  I can't wait to go back and get something for Princess C and Princess R for this fall.  I may not even wait until the fall. These costumes are great for every day dress up, not just Halloween!