Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Home Sewn Rice Bags

It has been cold here in California the last couple of weeks. I mean, really cold...freezing overnight cold. So, during the day, instead of turning the heater on and heating up the whole house, we have been heating up our rice bags in the microwave and carrying around our own little personal heaters.  These things are awesome! Especially at night! We heat them up, stick them in our beds before we get in, and let them do their warming thing. Emma and I made up a bunch in an afternoon...they are really easy...sewing straight lines and scooping rice. This project is great for beginners learning how to sew.

Let's get started!

What you need:

sewing machine and thread
a bit of fabric
about 4 cups of rice
essential oil (optional)

Begin by cutting out a 14 inch by 18 inch rectangle of fabric. We chose some nice, soft flannel.

With right sides folded together, sew up the two short sides and one long side, leaving one long side completely open.

When you have finished sewing, flip your fabric right side in. Take a ruler and pencil and mark about six inches in along the opened long side. Then make another mark about six inches from that. We are going to be sewing two straight lines across the rice bag making three pockets to put the rice into.

Now we come to the rice part. If you want, you can add a couple drops of essential oil to your rice and mix it around before filling the bag. We used lavender, and every time we heat up the bags it smells like lavender...very relaxing. :)

Fill up one pocket with about 1-2 cups of rice. Then pin it closed. To pin it, fold a small portion of the fabric into the bag, and then pin. We will be sewing a straight line across the top to close the bag off and we don't want any unfinished edges exposed.

We filled the pockets one at a time and sewed them shut one at a time to avoid spilling the rice all over. Sewing the pockets shut was a little difficult for Emma, so I ended up doing that part. Just make sure we get a nice, tight seam right up to the edge.

And there you have it! A nice little portable heater! Great for cuddling up on the couch and reading with, or crocheting with, or sticking down at the end of your bed to warm your feet at night! Emma made this one for Sophia, and she really likes it!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Apple Coconut Muffins

I have had this post planned for the better part of two weeks now....but a flu epidemic in the house tends to put things on the back burner. We're all on the mend...just getting lots of rest and snuggles. Edward seems to have gotten it the worst....

Poor baby:( We went to the Dr. today...I was nervous of pneumonia. But the doc checked him all out, said his lungs are clear and all he needs is some serious rest and snuggle time! Sounds good to me!!

Now, onto our recipe! Apples and coconut are a delightful combination, I do believe! My kids concur! This is their favorite muffin of the moment...we made them twice in three days. :)

Apple Coconut Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1 C flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 C peeled, diced apples
1 egg
1/4 C butter, melted
3/4 C sugar or Sucanat
1 tsp. (yep, that's right!) nutmeg
1/2 C shredded, unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350*. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together. In a separate bowl add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Add the flour mixture and blend until just moistened. Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin tins (3/4 of the way full) and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let rest in pan for a few minutes, then remove them to a cooling rack.

Look at those cute, mis-matched, jammied kids! They like to help make muffins in the mornings. Mostly because they like to do this:

They make licking batter look like so much fun, don't they!:)

These yummy muffins got a thumbs-up from everyone!

Even Edward :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chewy Granola Bars

 Do your children ever come to you and ask you for a snack...plead with your for a snack...and you think...I have NO idea what to get you right now. Well, look no further...I think I have your new go-to snack option right here!

I've been really inspired by Crystal over at Money Saving Mom. This week I have made a 7-day menu planner with her free menu plan PDF. She has ones that go up to 2 weeks I think, and all of them are free. She also posts her menu plans for the week on the blog, which is incredibly helpful and inspiring! It has been so nice knowing that breakfast, lunch, SNACKS, and dinner are all planned out and ready to go. All I need to do is prepare them. Menu planning has always been tough for me. I seem to get stuck in ruts of the same ole same ole all the time. Having fresh ideas has been a blessing to me for sure!

So, onto today's post! One of her snack options for one week was this delicious sounding Chewy Granola Bar recipe. So, today, we tried it! And boy oh boy is it good!

Chewy No-Bake Granola Bars

Makes 24 bars (9″x13″ pan)
  • 2 ½ cups Rice Krispies (if you want to make these healthier, you can use plain puffed rice cereal)
  • 1 ¾ cups quick oats (regular rolled oats work too)
  • ¼ cup wheat germ (or ground flax seed, wheat bran, or additional oats)
  • ½ cup additional mix-in ingredients, optional (i.e. shredded coconut, chopped nuts, raisins or other dried fruit, sesame or sunflower seeds, etc.)
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup brown sugar (or sucanat)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • Combine first 4 dry ingredients in a bowl.
  • In a saucepan, mix the honey, brown sugar and salt. Over medium-low heat, stir until the mixture comes to a complete boil for 30-60 seconds.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until smooth.
  • Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Let cool for 5-10 minutes before mixing in the chocolate chips.
  • Press into a greased 9×13 pan and let cool before cutting into bars.
These freeze well!!

(Recipe courtesy of Money Saving Mom )

This was a great recipe for the littles to help out with. Lots of dumping in and mixing around.

We chose to use coconut flakes and dried cranberries as our mix-ins. And chocolate chips...can't forget the chocolate chips!

My oh my are these delicious!! The kids gobbled them up! I think I added a little too much of the coconut flakes, so ours turned out a little more crumbly than they should have, but it doesn't change the taste, and the kids don't mind the crumble. We will definitely be keeping these in the snack rotation!

A Few of Our Favorite Things ~ Target Exclusive Crayola Crayons

Crayons. Beautiful, bright, sometimes glittery, always enjoyable crayons! Can you tell we like crayons around here? What kids don't?! Well let me show you what we've discovered....

Aren't these just the best? They are little packs of color coordinated, themed crayons. They are sold exclusively at Target and can be found in the crayon section. And, these little babies are only 99 cents. Yes! I know! They have tons of different themes to choose from.

Sometimes, I just like to sit and look through them. All those colors together, working in perfect harmony. pretty.

Ok, crayon geekiness over. Here's why I really love them!

 They have totally inspired my kids in their drawing.

Emma's and Sophia's pretty princesses have taken on some lovely wardrobe changes.

And Elijah's dragons have gotten even more lifelike and fearsome than ever before!

Mommy and Daddy have even been inspired:

Daddy's scene.
This is Gertie, Mommy's owl.
These are great for stocking stuffers...I know Christmas is over...but it'll be back in a year. Also think Valentine's Day presents, Easter basket stuffers, birthdays...or just because. Really, kids go through crayons like they're water...and paper too!

Doesn't that look like so much fun?? Hours of creative and imaginative drawing and doodling just waiting to be had!

**I don't receive any free merchandise or kickbacks or anything from Target or Crayola. I just like to share the fun things that we find with you all, and we really think these little crayon packs are great! :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Art Journals ~ Magazine Self Portraits

 Ever wonder how your children see themselves? Have them draw or create a self portrait. It is really interesting to see what they come up with!

We did our self portraits using cut up magazines. I helped Elijah and Sophia quite a bit with the cutting, but they picked out all of the colors for the different body parts. Sophia did a great job of picking out her straight, brown hair! :)

Elijah decided to color his in also. The gluing part was really great for him. He can get the glue on the paper and then put it right down in the place you point. I just love his orange peel smile! :)

I helped Emma achieve the curly hair look, but she did all the rest! What a cute little nose!

This project helps little ones out with gluing and placement and also some beginning cutting skills if you want to let them have a try. There are no lines to follow, but it is good practice for opening and closing scissors, which is difficult for little hands.

 It was so fun seeing the finished product of these pictures! I wasn't sure what to expect, but they turned out fantastic!

Get out your old Martha Stewart or BHG magazines and have a go at some self portraits!

A Haiku How-To

Haiku. You see that word around a lot. It's a poem...a specific kind of poem that has a specific construction.

This school year, it was my goal to introduce and read some poetry to the children. I have not achieved this goal...yet. There is still a semester of school left. I have, however, introduced them to the wonderful world of haiku poems. We wrote our own a couple of months ago, and plan to write some more. Here is a brief description of a haiku poem if you are not familiar.


"Haiku" is a traditional form of Japanese poetry.  Haiku poems consist of 3 lines.  The first and last lines of a Haiku have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7 syllables.  The lines rarely rhyme.

Here's a Haiku to help you remember:

I am first with five
Then seven in the middle --
Five again to end.

Because Haikus are such short poems, they are usually written about things that are recognizable to the reader.  Animals and seasons are examples of recognizable topics children might enjoy exploring.
 (information from )

 Seasons, favorite foods, pets, colors, people....the possibilities of haiku topics are endless!
We decided to write our haiku about a flower. The children chose a golden poppy, since it is the state flower of California. Here is our little poem:

Bright poppy dancing
Happy girl wants to pick it
Bee busy working

 We brainstormed different things about flowers and poppies, what flowers look like in the wind, what you feel like doing when you see flowers, what is something useful about flowers. I wrote out sentences on the board, then we changed and switched things around until we achieved sentences of 5-7-5 syllables. It was something Emma really enjoyed. Sophia and Elijah enjoyed the brainstorming process, but haven't really grasped the concept of syllables yet. When our poem was finished, Emma copied it out onto a piece of pretty yellow paper and Sophia drew some purple poppies. :)

Haiku poems are a lot of fun! It gets kids to look at the details of a certain thing or idea. One website I went to said to look at a lovely painting and try to describe some aspect of it in a haiku. We are going to do that exercise the next time we write one.

Seize this bless-ed day
Let your cup overflow love
Grateful for this time

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Art Journals : Watercolor + Salt

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you poured salt on your wet watercolored paper? No? You haven't? Ok then, well, if you pour salt on your wet watercolored paper, this happens :

Pretty neat effect, isn't it? The salt absorbs the water on the paper and leaves these cool washed out places. Come on, we'll show you how it's done! It's easy!!

What you'll need:

Watercolor paints and brushes (We use, and love, Crayolas watercolors.)
Salt (Plain old, cheap old, iodized salt.)

Get your watercolors out and ready....

....and start painting!

The key is to use a lot of water. Really saturate your paints and brush. It's good to use a larger paint brush than the one that comes in the watercolor set...that one didn't seem to hold enough water. But if that's all you have, no worries. Just make sure to dip it more times.

When you are happy with your picture, add the salt.  Just pour some into your hand and then sprinkle it onto the paper.

Almost immediately the salt does it's thing and you can see the water being absorbed. It will look even neater when it is fully dry.

Shake or rub the excess salt off of the paper when it is completely dry.

Isn't that cool? I think Emma and I are going to write some Bible verses out on them and then frame them. Or maybe we'll use them as greeting cards. I don't know...but they are fun!

The day Emma and I did this, it was our "just us" project. I like to try to do something purposeful with just one of the children every once in awhile. I let them pick a project or just something they would like to do, and then I spend that time with that child alone. It's been a pretty neat experience, and really gives me an idea of how my kids work and think apart from their siblings' influence. Emma really wanted to paint, so we did this, and it was great fun. In fact, she liked it so much, that she set it all up the next morning to do with Sophia and Elijah. They loved it! Elijah especially like pouring the salt (making a mess!).

If you try this out, come back and let me know how you liked it!




Happy New Year! 2012 was a great year full of growth and changes! God is good all the time, so no matter what 2013 brings, we know it will be for our good. I'm so excited to start another year!

Here on our little blog we will be doing a new series. Emma has turned into a serious bookworm over the past few months, so she will be sharing some book reviews with you all. I think her book count is 11 books read since September....wowza! She has also been doing really well learning how to crochet and has a few tutorials planned for you for in the weeks to come.

I hope you have all had a great start to your new year! Check back soon for some fun Art Journal projects!