Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Messed up Friendships

What does it mean when (all of) your friends at one point or another stop talking to you?
Granted being in the military and now as a military spouse, we move a lot so that makes it hard to meet people and keep up friendships. I get that. But somehow it seems as if I must not be a very good friend if people keep dropping me.

When we were at Scott AFB, I made a few friends in the Spouse's Group. Now, I'm rarely, if ever, in contact with any of them. When I am in contact, it's just through a Facebook note or something small like that.

The same goes for friends I made at the Pentagon. I'm "friends" with most of the other Interns on Facebook but even when one or two of them are at the same base as I am, I don't see or speak to any of them. Some of that has to do with my weight and how I feel about myself. Most of it just seems to be that no one feels the need to get together with me. Not feeling sorry for myself here, just wondering why that is?

Now, my best friend (we've known each other since 1997 and have been friends since 1998 or so...) is not speaking to me. She says she's "not 'not talking'" to me. But the last communication I got from her was over two weeks ago. I finally called her and left a message yesterday and she texted me today saying that we're "not not talking" but that she still "needs space" and isn't ready to talk to me yet. It's a long story of why she's not speaking to me but from my point of view it was all a misunderstanding. I'm guessing by her needing so much time & space that there's probably more to it, but if she won't talk to me then I have no idea what she's mad or upset about so I can't make it better or fix it.

The only other person who has ever told me not to call them is my older sister (a whole different convoluted story). I never in a million years would have guessed that my best friend would treat me in the same manner. Nor would I ever have guessed that I'd put the two of them in the same category as to how their actions/words make me feel. Which makes me wonder (as my husband has pointed out) has this friendship reached its end?

So what is it about me that seems to drive people away after a year or two (or eventually...)? What is it that keeps ending these friendships? I know its normal for people to grow apart but it seems as if I'm turning into a serial grow-aparter...

I'm sad and mad at the same time...leaving me not knowing what to do (other than not calling her since she "needs space") or how to deal with my feelings...bottom line, not real happy right now.


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Friday, July 26, 2013

Missing Germany

We haven't been to Germany in over four years! Most days I'm OK with it but then something will remind me of Germany and I'll get a wave of homesickness. Germany, as I may have mentioned, is one of the few places I've ever really felt at home. I only lived there for a short time when I was very young but the memories I have are all good ones. Because of that it seems as if anything even remotely connected to Germany gives me a feeling of belonging and/or rightness. Whether it's someone speaking German, German candy or pictures of Germany, it makes me smile and want to be there again.

Recently my wonderful husband asked if I might want to go to Germany for Christmas this year. My first answer was "Of course!" But then I realized we have a lot of things planned for the next few months (assuming he actually comes home from Iraq in September). On top of that, his father's 80th birthday is shortly after Christmas. Until we figure out how the family wants to celebrate that, I don't think we should plan an overseas trip. 

Once we discussed all of that, Hubby asked if maybe we should go for Bubba's 4th birthday (in February or March)! Yes, yes, yes!! Whenever. I don't care as long as we can actually plan on really going.

The first thing I did was get on to Pinterest and start looking at pictures of Germany and trip ideas. Do we go to the usual places that we've been to before or do we try something new? I'd like to go to Dusseldorf and visit my aunt and uncle but we also have some very good friends at the Marshall Center in Garmisch. It would also be kind of nice to take Bubba to Nuremberg where I was born. So much to think of...bottom line though is I just want to go back for a visit (especially as it doesn't seem as if we're ever going to be stationed there again).

Some of the pins on Pinterest led me to some cool websites I've been perusing. About.com has a lot of information on what to do in Germany. Another site I've looked at is the Germany travel site. They have a list of the top 100 sights and attractions in Germany. I've actually been to quite a few of them but only a few with my husband and of course Bubba has not been to Germany at all so everything would be new for him.

Have you been to Germany? What was your favorite part and/or do you have any suggestions or recommendations? 
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dragons and Damsels

Bubba loves pretending to be a Knight in Shining Armour. He also has an interest in bugs though thankfully not as much as he likes dinosaurs.
The other day we went to a program called "Dragons and Damsels at the Pond." I wasn't too sure about it since it was an evening program and the Pond is a 40 minute drive. I am so glad we did it though. We both enjoyed it quite a bit so it was worth the drive and late bedtime. 

I never knew there was such a thing as a damselfly. They are smaller than dragonflies and when they land, they fold up their wings. Dragon flies keep their wings open when they land. The instructor said there are over 500 different types of dragon and damselflies around this particular pond and over 3000 varieties worldwide.

Besides Bubba and I there were only two other people, another boy and his mother. I think it was great that there were so few people because the two boys got to do a lot of hands-on "work" and personal attention. They actually caught both a damselfly and a dragonfly. They also caught some little tiny fish and a few tadpoles. Thankfully, I brought Bubba's boots so he got to wade into the lake a little bit. I'm sure if his father had been there, he'd have been able to go in further but I didn't want him to slip and fall in...

I've really been enjoying all the classes and courses we've taken at the various recreation centers in the county. I can't believe how much they offer. It's too bad we didn't find out about them sooner but I'm so glad we've had them to keep us busy while Daddy is in Iraq...
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lessons From Noah's Ark

Recently I received an e-mail from my father-in-law containing pictures and ending with lessons from Noah's Ark...

While the pictures were cute, it was the lessons that really struck a chord with me. Especially number 4: "Stay Fit. When you're 60 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big." Most people usually assume that all the great things we're going to do in our lives will be done by the time we are 40. At the very least, we will be (or should be) on the right track to doing whatever it is we're going to be doing by then.

For some of us though, we may have switched tracks at some point and/or have still not found the right track. It's nice, even affirming, to hear about people who have gone on to do great things After the age of 40. One of the examples that always sticks in my mind is Winston Churchill who didn't even pick up a paintbrush until very late in life and found that not only did he love it but that he was quite good.

Another thing about Noah is that he listened when God spoke to him. How many of us sit still long enough to hear that voice? Especially if/when it's telling us to try something new, hard or even seemingly impossible? That's definitely something I need to work on...

Bottom line is that while I might not yet know what I want to be when I grow up, there's no reason to give up hope that I can and will contribute something more. In fact, I have to believe that God put me here for a specific reason. I just have to listen and act in order to figure out what it is.

Here are the "Lessons from Noah's Ark":

ONE: Don't miss the boat.
TWO: Remember that we are all in the same boat!
THREE: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark .
FOUR: Stay fit. When you're 60 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.
FIVE: Don't listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.
SIX: Build your future on high ground.
SEVEN: For safety's sake, travel in pairs.
EIGHT: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.
NINE: When you're stressed, float awhile.
TEN: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.
ELEVEN: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.
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Monday, July 22, 2013

Dinosaurs Galore!


Bubba LOVES dinosaurs. He's not obsessed like some kids I've seen but he sure does enjoy talking and reading about them as well as playing without large assortment of dino toys.

The last two weekends we've attended dinosaur themed events at two of the recreation centers in the area. The first one was an outside event where we learned a little about dinosaurs and then got released into the park area to make a dinosaur fossil, to dig for dinosaur fossils (they were actually marine fossils from TX) that we got to keep and to generally run around and play. We also got to look at a pond where there were hundreds of baby tadpoles.

The second event was an inside event where the kids got to play with a ton of different dinosaur figurines for a bit, then listen to three dinosaur stories, and then they got to make their own dinosaur fossils. Since Bubba had just done this the weekend before, he was an expert at fossil making and said "I can do it by myself, Mommy." What a wonderful thing to see them working on something by themselves. After we made the fossil, we went outside to dig for other fossils. Each child was given a quadrant of the dig zone and was able to find one or two fossils. When put together, they made two incomplete baby T-Rex skeletons. The instructor noted there are only about six "complete" T-Rex skeletons in the world and even those are really only 90% or so complete.

One of the interesting things I learned at these events is that the Brontosaurus that I grew up with as the main long-necked dinosaur never actually existed! It was made up of a body of one type of dinosaur and the head of another so was never a true dinosaur at all. Crazy! Looking up this information on the internet it seems as if way back in 1903 the scientists knew the Brontosaurus was actually the same thing as an Apatosaurus. Yet, somehow the brontosaurus name lived on...

Bubba had a good time. We got to explore two different recreation centers and we made lots of cool fossils. The instructor gave us a couple extra hunks of dough since we helped clean up so we made "Matthew Fossils" (hand prints) when we got home. Looking at his hand prints made me a little sad - I can't believe how big he is getting. But he's so much fun!! :)
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

We're Going to Disney World!

So, it looks like we're going to Disney...with my sister-in-law and her family. It started out as a family reunion & 80th birthday celebration but then various people dropped out and now it's just the two families. Of course, we're still not even sure if my husband will be back from Iraq in time...we should know something soon. I've already told him I'm not going to Disney without him.
My sister and her two kids (just turned 4 and 6) went to Disney in June so I still want to pick her brain a bit about what worked and what didn't. I'm mostly trying not to get too stressed out and just think about how much fun Bubba is going to have and how much my husband appreciates that his sister is making such an effort to renew their relationship.

I haven't been to Disney since they were first building Epcot! Talk about aging myself, huh? I think that was 30 years ago! I'm quite excited about going again. There is so much to see and do. It's hard to decide what is "not to miss" and what is "hope to see/do"...

Have you been to Disney lately? Any tips for going with a 3-year-old?


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Friday, June 14, 2013

Responsibilities Flip Chart

I love Pinterest. During nap time or when I can't sleep at night, I like to look at all the awesome craft, parenting, travel, etc ideas...there is so much out there! I've actually done quite a few of my pins and most of the time even take pictures so I can blog about them. I just haven't been doing a lot of blogging lately...
One of the things I finally got around to doing was the Chore Chart. I've pretty much been obsessed with the idea ever since I saw the Pin months ago...You can find the tutorial here.

I actually modified it a bit and used colored file folders as the base. I thought that would make it easier but in the end it took me quite a bit longer than I had imagined.


You can also see the printing on the inside of the folders. I thought about trying to cover it up somehow but in the end, just wanted to get it done.

Since he is only 3 years old I figured five responsibilities per chart was enough. There are some others I could have added like "Potty" for night time, but I decided it was better to have just a few and hope we could make/keep things like going potty part of the bath time ritual. 

I chose a yellow folder for the morning (good morning, sunshine!) and a blue for the evening. Using free clip art from the internet made it pretty simple and I then added some color with color pencils (our printer is perpetually low on ink). So, when it's open you have the pictures as well as the words for each responsibility. Once that responsibility is accomplished, you "flip the flap" and see that it is "Done!" Last night, we opened all the flaps for the morning so they'd be ready to go. This morning we opened all the flaps for the evening so when we go up for bed, it's ready to go.
It was fun to see the finished product - I really like to do things that end up nice and are going to be useful. Bubba helped me figure out where we going to hang them and we used them last night and this morning. He seems pretty excited about them in general and looks forward to "flipping the flaps" as he accomplishes each responsibility.





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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tooth Brushing Chart

Quite a while ago, I saw a really cool tooth brushing chart on Pinterest. When I went to the blog post on Dukes and Duchesses (you can see it here), I noticed in one of the comments that the author said she might be willing to make and sell the charts if people were interested. As soon as I saw that, I knew I had to have one.

We've been working on getting Bubba to get in the habit of brushing his teeth every morning and night. Sometimes, life gets in the way and it's easy to forget the teeth. I thought with a chart like this on the mirror, it would help keep us all on track.

I got the chart in the mail yesterday. I've never worked with transfer paper so luckily one of the e-mails included directions. It still didn't come off as well as easily as I would have liked but I finally got it. Then, I was so excited to get it on the mirror that I probably could have been a little more exacting. You can see in the not so great picture that it's a bit crooked. But "perfect is the enemy of good," right?

I think Bubba will really like it. He seems to be like me in that he likes to mark things off or in other ways show he has accomplished something. I've still got to put the marker on the mirror for him to use but other than that, we're ready to start keeping track/marking off tooth brushing.



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Monday, March 25, 2013

Can I be a butterfly?

One of the blogs I have been reading as long as I've even known what a blog was is Roni's Weigh.

I've used her graphs and charts to try to help me lose weight. I've used her recipes from Green Light Bites to make healthy and good tasting meals and snacks. I've read about her good days and when she faces her fears and tries new things. I've read about her bad days and how she handles them. Her blog is one of two that I still read five years after I started (Pioneer Woman is the other...).

Yet, in one of my comments a few days ago, I unintentionally made her feel bad. I feel as if I hurt a friend though we've never met. I'm not sure if she actually felt bad or sad but I do know my comment inspired a post. Reading the post, I got tears in my eyes (and again, just as I type this). 

Let me back up a little and go back to the original post that inspired my comment.

Roni wrote a post about how she lost her weight. It was a great post. I liked pretty much the whole post but one of my favorite parts was this:

"When I started I simply made an effort to move more. Do more. Taking after-dinner walks, playing active video games, taking the stairs, hiking at parks, going bowling — these were the baby steps that led to things like step classes, which led to running, which led to boot camps, which led to CrossFit. Don’t underestimate a simple goal like moving more. You never know where it will lead and I speak from personal experience, it’s awfully fun to find out!"
After reading and re-reading the post, I wanted to tell Roni how much I appreciated it. I thought about my comment quite a bit and this is what I ended up saying:
"This post reminded me of why I started following your blog in the first place - years ago. Lately, I've been skipping some of your blog posts because they seem so far away from my reality - I can't see myself ever doing the things you do now...
This post reminded that you started the journey a long time ago and have worked your butt off (literally) to get where you are today. You are an inspiration and I appreciate you taking the time every now and then to remind us that it's not an overnight trip - it's a lifelong journey. One that we have a choice every day to start or put off until tomorrow..."

The point I was trying to make was that she has been and continues to be an inspiration. That I have been following her for years and will continue to do so. I might not be able to see myself doing cross-fit or tough mudders like she does - but she started out with baby steps and look where she is now! Just because I can't see myself doing those things, doesn't mean I should ever think that I CAN'T do them. Just like Roni and everyone else, I've got to start somewhere and believe that I can do anything I set my heart and mind to do. I've got to remember, just as I said in my comment, that it's not an overnight trip - it's a lifelong journey and I'd best get started.

A few days later, Roni posted about going from being a caterpillar to being a butterfly. It was another great post. Unfortunately for me, it started out with my comment. Roni stated that through my comment "Sam touched on a fear I have. One I think gets magnified because I blog. Not only am I trying to figure out this whole weight loss,  maintenance, fitness, new identity thing, but I’m doing it in a very public way, which also happens to effect my livelihood. Hello, pressure!

Adding pressure or making her doubt her livelihood was totally not what I meant to do with my comment. I so admire people like Roni who blog - especially those who blog openly (not hiding behind a nickname, etc...) and who blog about real things such as trying to lose weight, trying new things and risking failure, and just all in all about how life is not easy or perfect but you just have to go for it. They open themselves up to people like me who make comments about their writing sometimes even critiquing their thoughts and fears and everyday existence. People who don't even comment using their real name (though "Sam" is my real nickname...).

Roni went on to talk about how hard it is to change and about how hard it is to really accept yourself once you've made the change. She ended with the quote: “How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”  – Trina Paulus

She made me think about and realize that I have allowed myself to stay "comfortable" (as in "it's what I know", not that I'm happy with it) within the lines I've drawn for myself and for years have not tried anything new or scary, no matter how much I think I want it. I guess that's the main problem for me - I think too much. I haven't found or embraced the one thing that I want so much that I'm willing to do the work (like building a cocoon...) to get there. I so want to be the butterfly. All that's left is to see if I'm willing to do the work to make it happen.

This is one of my longer posts and it's pretty rambling. The bottom line is that I get inspired by Roni and that's why I read her blog. She has been so brave - not only to make hard changes in her life but to tell the whole world about them. I started this blog hoping to do the same. I hoped to make significant changes in my life and to record the process here. I've still got a long way to go...

[I just posted another comment for Roni with a link to this post and somehow my whole name popped up! AACK. My heart is racing and I'm freaking out. And I'm really mad at myself for allowing it to happen even though I've got no idea how it did. I think it had something to do with "signing in" with google vs just typing in "Sam"...? I've tried so hard to keep at least part of my life private - there's so many weird people out there and so much openness on the web already, I try to limit it as much as I can...I don't mind my first name vs my nickname popping up but my last name too!? How did that happen and how do I get rid of it!? NOW! Any suggestions...? Ugh, I feel like I was right to stay off the internet/blogging world for a year. Look what happens when I try to do something new...

I'm totally obsessing about this...I feel so stupid. It's not as if Roni and I are friends, she doesn't really care what I think or don't think. I just wanted her to see my post and that she inspired me to have a blog. Not only that but now it doesn't even look like I'm the same person who made the original comment because there are different names for both the comments. How stupid does that make me look? Now I've got my full name, my blog address which I've only given to about three people, everything, out there in the blogosphere. Why? Because of stupid pride. Aargh...so much for my short life as a wanna be butterfly. Now all I want to do is crawl back into my cave and hide out from the world again...]
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fighting Fatigue

The other day, I happened across the Dr. Oz show and they were discussing how to fight fatigue and increase energy. I didn't have time to watch it right then so I recorded it and watched it this morning.

Dr. Oz had a doctor on who discussed how she researched and learned about the best ways to fight fatigue and fix your whole body/system and "get your energy back."

Dr. Jennifer Landa discussed four critical steps that can help you get your energy back right away (my own paraphrased transcript of show. See a video of this Dr. Oz show here):

1. Recognize the connection between gluten and iron. If you are sensitive to gluten ("25% of us may be sensitive to gluten") the gluten attacks the intestinal cells causing inflammation; causing us not to be able to absorb nutrients like iron which can lead to anemia. When you eat you should feel more energized. If you're gluten sensitive, you feel more tired after eating.
Fatigue Fighting Solution: Cut the gluten (do as much as you can to reduce foods with gluten) and add Vitamin C (citrus, peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, etc) which will help you absorb iron.

2. Increase your Iodine. "Iodine is the building block of thyroid health." "Research shows that 1/3 of the population is not getting enough iodine." Why? As people try to reduce and/or cut salt out of their diet, they no longer get the iodine that has been added to the salt. One way to know if you are deficient in iodine is exhaustion. In addition to that, trouble losing weight and losing your hair - especially the outer third of your eyebrows (!) are thyroid symptoms. This is what really got my attention because I've noticed over the years that my eyebrows have gotten shorter. Now, I have no idea if I really have a iodine deficiency or thyroid problem but I do know that I've been using sea salt for the last few years and never even thought about it not having added iodine like table salt.
Fatigue Fighting Solution: Get more iodine in your diet. Seaweed has a lot of iodine but the easiest way is to make sure you are buying iodized salt. They now have sea salt with added iodine - make sure it says "iodine" on the label. Dr. Oz specified "we're not telling you to add more salt to your diet, we're simply swapping out the kind of salt that you're eating."

3. Recharge Your Liver. The liver is the powerhouse of metabolism in the body. It breaks down everything that we eat and turns it into energy. It also gets rid of toxins in the body. If you have too many toxins in your body it slows down the functions of the liver and makes you sluggish.
Fatigue Fighting Solution: Drink Dandelion Tea twice a day. It helps the liver work more efficiently so you have more energy.

4. Boost Testosterone. For women who have a tenth the amount of testosterone as men, testosterone is critical for our energy, our emotions, helps with "foggy brain" and helps get fat off while maintaining muscle. Stress (cortisol) lowers testosterone levels. To bring testosterone up, you need to figure out how to lower stress and cortisol levels.
Fatigue Fighting Solution: Pranayama Yoga Breathing. Sit on knees or Indian style. Belly breathing - block one nostril with thumb while breathing in and out. Then block other nostril with fingers while breathing in and out. Take nice, deep belly breaths. Do this for 5 minutes a day (twice a day is even better). If you have to, Dr. Oz recommends going to the bathroom where no one will bother you.

Following this, Dr. Oz and Dr. Landa discussed Monk Fruit (Lo Han Guo) - a fruit used as sweetener for centuries in Southeast Asia. Traditional Chinese medicine has been using this to treat diabetes and obesity for centuries. It has a very low glycemic index and stimulates insulin secretion. You can get it in packet form (orange), drops, and even scoopable forms for baking and recipes.

I am always so tired, no matter how much I sleep that I wonder if (hope?) some of these things could really help. I suppose they can't make it any worse so you really haven't got anything to lose.

I'd love to know your thoughts and/or if you try any or all of these Fatigue fighting Solutions...
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dinosaur Birthday Party

Palm trees, bananas and leaves from my 2009 baby shower!
Not quite a month after the party, I'm finally getting around to posting about it. I had so much fun gathering ideas and planning the party. The absolute best decision I made was planning to have it at the Gym. We love "My Gym" - Bubba has so much fun every time he's there. The people who work there are great and help the kids have fun in a safe environment.  Having the party at the gym allowed me to spend all of my time on the fun stuff and not worry about cleaning or any of the yucky stuff.
T-Rex Track Cookies
Brontosaurus Bites
Dino Bones (Dino Treasure Stones in back)
Cretaceous (Pop)Corn
As I've already discussed in previous posts, I made quite a few dinosaur themed snacks as well as the dinosaur treasure stones I used for decoration. Since Bubba likes cupcakes more than cake, I made some of those too (with dino cupcake liners and cute dinosaur toppers). I also dove deep into my closet and pulled out the box of baby shower decorations my sister made for me back in 2009. She made such amazing safari themed decorations that I also used them for Bubba's 1st birthday. I decided the palm trees (made out of organic diapers and ribbon), bananas (diapers and washcloths) and a few other things would be the perfect "icing on the cake" for the dinosaur theme. I would have liked to have printed the names of everything on the little signs but I ran out of time. I figured hand writing them was better than nothing because I really wanted each snack to have a little sign. Having dinosaur themed names for the food was part of the fun, at least for me...

We were not allowed to show up more than 10 minutes prior to our start time so I was a little worried about getting everything set up and ready before people arrived. I drew up a plan of where I wanted everything so my husband and the My Gym teachers could help. When we got there, they already had the yellow tablecloth on the counter and were ready to help. Having the plan in writing really helped a lot because I didn't have to explain what I wanted.

Stegosaurus Eggs (Oreo Truffles)
We got everything set up before the first people showed up. I didn't get really great pictures because the two different people I thought would be there and be able to take pictures weren't able to make it. I think you'll still be able to see how great it turned out though...

It was very gratifying to see everyone having such a great time and enjoying all the snacks. One of the teachers even said it was the best party she's ever seen. I'm pretty sure she's only been there for a few months, but I'll still take the compliment. :)

The best part? After playing with and entertaining the kids for over an hour, the teachers did almost all of the clean up! I just had to gather whatever I wanted to take home and put it back in my handy dandy plastic bin. Then we just went home and relaxed.

One of the other "extras"was to get Bubba a birthday shirt. I found what I thought would be perfect on Etsy. His favorite color is black and his favorite dinosaur (at the time) was a stegosaurus...they made it look really great and got it to me super fast. I was going to post a picture but since the shirt has his name on it (and he's wearing it) and I'm trying to keep at least some things private, I decided not to...trust me though, it's really cute.

Sorry the pictures are kind of wacky, I've spent over 30 minutes trying to get them to look normal but it's just not working. At least I have some to show you - better than nothing, right?
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Monday, February 25, 2013

Dinosaur Treasure Stones

One of the fun things I did for Bubba's birthday was make Dinosaur Treasure Stones. It was a really fun activity to do together from beginning to end.

I found the link through Pinterest (of course) and gathered up all my supplies. Here's what you need:

1 cup flour
1 cup used coffee grounds (I got mine, along with a lot of weird looks, at the local Dunkin Donuts.)
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup sand (I got a small bag at Michael's) 
1 cup water

Mix dry ingredients together. Slowly add the water to make a stiff dough; you may not need all of the water - you don't want it to be too runny. [I scratched my bowl pretty good with the sand, so make sure you use a bowl you don't mind to get scratched.]
Fresh stones on top; stones 6 days later
Hide surprise inside
Knead on a floured surface until fairly smooth. Break off dough in the desired stone size and hide the surprise in the center.

Set in a safe place until totally dry - at least 3-4 days. [I put my stones on parchment paper lined baking sheets; turned them over every 12 hours or so...it took closer to 4-5 days to dry.]

Once they are dry, they look and feel like stones. You can "carefully" break open the treasure stones using a hammer (we used a wooden hammer so they wouldn't damage the dinosaurs). If you put them in Tupperware, be advised they will release moisture and need to dry out again.

Deciding on the size of the prize inside makes a big difference - my dinosaurs were not very big at all yet I still ended up making two batches of dough and ended up with about 18 treasure stones. The stones were also a good size so as mentioned above, they took a long time to dry. It was a good lesson in patience for Bubba. 

We didn't have enough treasure stones for all the kids either at the party or at school, so after using them as part of the decorations at the party, we ended up breaking them open ourselves at home. The whole family had a good time breaking them open and finding the cool dinosaurs. Since the stones were just sand, flour & coffee, we just swept all the remains into the mulch when we were done.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dinosaur Party Treats

As I mentioned in the post about the dinosaur cake, along with the cake I planned to serve dinosaur track cookies, dinosaur eggs, a dinosaur vegetable tray and a couple other dino themed snacks.

The dinosaur track cookies were sugar cookies made from a box - Krusteaz brand. I'd never even heard of them before, but everyone complimented me on how good the cookies were. Bubba enjoyed helping me make the dough and scoop it out onto the baking pan. We flattened them and used a large plastic dinosaur foot to make the tracks. After the first batch we learned it was better to bake them for a little more than half the time and then add the track print and a little cinnamon. Overall, it was fun and pretty easy to make these cookies.

The dinosaur eggs were also pretty easy. I used the standard "Oreo Truffle" recipe I got from Bakerella years ago. I rolled the truffles into an egg shape and used Wilton White Candy Melts for the coating. On several of them, I added a couple "spots" to make them look like dinosaur eggs and to cover up ugly spots in the coating. (You can see a picture of the dinosaur eggs on this post) Another very simple project. It takes a while just because you need to put the balls in the freezer for a while and also need to keep re-melting the coating. Totally worth whatever time it takes though - they're addicting. I forgot to take pictures but I have some from before the party - I'll include them in the party post.

The veggie tray idea came from a fruit tray picture I saw on Pinterest. I wanted some kind of veggie offering and this seemed like a perfect way to do it. I used cauliflower and broccoli florets, baby carrots, mini grape tomatoes and green grapes for the dinosaur body. I really wanted to put an eyeball on one of the grapes but couldn't find my edible pen. Again, easy peasy. Didn't take much longer than preparing a regular veggie tray would have.
It was fun involving Bubba in all the preparations and seeing how helpful and interested he was in what we were doing and why. I'm also grateful for having a very patient and understanding husband. He just let me do what I wanted to do and helped when and where I needed it. The prep was so much fun, I can't wait to tell you about the actual party!
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dinosaur Cake

The only thing Bubba asked for concerning his birthday was a dinosaur cake. How could I not fulfill that singular request? If you know me, you know I would do everything possible to give him what he asked for...

So, going to my favorite avenue for ideas, Pinterest, I searched for dinosaur party ideas. There were so many to choose from, I wasn't sure where to start. I finally narrowed it down to the following: dinosaur track cookies, dinosaur eggs, a dinosaur veggie tray, a couple other dino themed snacks, the dinosaur cake and dinosaur treasure stones.

Writing it down now, I think I might have over-reached just a little...thankfully, we had already engaged the "My Gym" where we go to class to "host" the birthday party. Not having to clean or stress about the house in any way, freed up my time and allowed me to devote my energy to the fun and cool dino ideas. I started with the dinosaur cake because I planned at first to take it to school for his little party there. It turned out so good I decided to keep it for the actual party. 

I used the Wilton dinosaur pan. Since I've never decorated a cake like this, I wasn't really sure what to do after I baked it. I read and re-read the instructions as well as the comments and reviews. The hardest part, which wasn't really hard, just took a really long time, was making and mixing the icing. I made 1.5 times the suggested amount (don't ask me why, at the time it made sense) which was way too much. One of the best things I did was to buy tubes of pink and black. If/when I make the cake again, I'd probably buy most of the icing in tubes or color pre-made icing.

I kept telling myself that if I messed up, I could use the cake for cake balls. Luckily, it didn't come to that. As I progressed from one step to the next, it was so cool to see it really taking shape. I would recommend that you follow the steps. Some of them don't seem to make sense in the order they're given. However, it turned out well doing it the way they tell you to, so why mess with it? I would also recommend having a couple extra decorating tips. I didn't and had to switch bags and colors. When I realized I'd missed a couple steps during outlining, I had to improvise to fix it without the tip.

I had planned on buying some kind of cake plate or cake holder thing but when I went to the store, they only had really big ones or packs of them. So as you can see in the pictures, I used a pizza pan thing. Not very pretty but it did the job. It also fit perfectly into my cake carrier. I just couldn't figure out how to get rid of the ugly silver. Then I realized, as I was putting the "shells" around the edge of the dinosaur, why not just cover the silver with icing shells? I had tons of icing and would only throw it away if I didn't use it up. Perfect!

The finished cake was so amazing I about broke my arm patting myself on the back. I still can't believe I did something like that and that it turned out so well. I'm not sure if I'll do more of those kinds of things, but I sure won't be afraid to try. After all, it's just cake and icing, right? Tastes good no matter what it looks like...

Having done a pretty good job with what I thought would be the hardest part, I was ready to tackle the rest of my Pinterest ideas. Since I don't want to overwhelm you with my awesomeness, I'll blog about those later. :)
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Fitness DVDs


Along with all the self-improvement books that have been accumulating and collecting dust over the years, I have a whole collection of fitness DVDs (and lots of VHS tapes too). Since one of the things I'd like to do this year is to really work on getting healthy and fit, I decided I could kill two birds with one stone by working my way through my fitness DVDs.

I went through all the DVDs (we don't have a VCR set up right now) and picked out one DVD to try per month. My goal is to try each DVD for at least four weeks. At the end of the four weeks, I'll decide whether to keep the DVD to try again later or to add it to the get rid of pile. Based on what some of these DVDs are going for on Amazon, I might try to sell them if I don't want them (the Crunch video I chose for April is going for over $40 for used DVDs--crazy!).

Here is my proposed schedule:

January: Buff Brides
February: Callanetics
September: Super Callanetics
November: CORE Rythms
December: Hoopnotica

Have you done any of these fitness DVDs? Or heard anything about them? Or maybe you have a fitness DVD you enjoy doing or have gotten good results from? Let me know...
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year, New Start

It's amazing to me that I haven't written a single blog post in over a year. Not a single one in all of 2012. I can't even count how many pictures I took of different things with the intention of blogging about them. Then I would remember I hadn't posted in forever and it would seem as if the craft, entree, travel, etc was not significant enough to be the first entry in so long...

So here I am - starting over...I can't even remember all the grand plans I had for my blog. I'm trying to decide if I want to go back through my old posts and resurrect and/or continue my old plan or just come up with a new one. Or, do a little of both...

What I'd like to start with is setting out my reading plan (or at least part of it). I'm sure I am not alone in having numerous self-help books. In fact, I have at least a whole shelf full of a wide variety of self-improvement books. The topics range from parenting and fitness to emotional eating and happiness. Some of these books are relatively new and some have been gathering dust for 10 years. It's time to do something with them.

I've already started reading two of them. One is Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck. The other is No Excuses: The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy. I figure, trying to discover what I really want to do in this life and learning how to recover my self-discipline (assuming I ever had any to start with) are a good way to start off the new year. 

Ideally, I will read a couple chapters and summarize my thoughts here. The books also have "exercises" within and at the end of the chapters. I'll be doing the exercises in a notebook and will again, ideally summarize them here on the blog. Hopefully, I'll get something out of the books. At the very least thinking about what I've read and discussing it will hopefully help me learn something new - if not about myself then maybe about the world. Best of all, I'll clear out a bookshelf.

My plan right now is to read at least one self-improvement type book a month. I also have at least 100 other books I've been carting around move after move so hopefully, I'll get some of those read as well.

Here's to a new year and a new start!
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