Saturday, November 10, 2012

Warm, Yummy Deliciousness for 60 Tiny Calories

One of my favorite things about cold weather is hot chocolate- YUM! Nothing like cuddling on the couch with a nice warm cup of cocoa. Unfortunately, that hot chocolate isn’t very supportive of my efforts to lose the baby around 150 calories a cup, it doesn’t always fit into my nutritional budget.

Fortunately, I have found a delicious alternative that is too good not to share- it’s the low-cal version of this Hot Vanilla recipe. The original recipe called for regular milk and sugar. By simply substituting almond milk and no-calorie sweetener, I was able to make this for just 60 calories (that includes the whipped cream)! SWEET!

Here’s the recipe:

60 Calorie Hot Vanilla

1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon no calorie sweetener
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
dash of cinnamon to taste
2 tablespoons light whipped cream

Heat almond milk, then stir in vanilla, sweetener, and cinnamon. Add whipped cream on top and enjoy!

As my 6-year-old would say, easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Do you have any favorite low-calorie alternatives to your favorite treats? Leave a comment and share! I need all the help I can get! ;-)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Artsy Collages

Lately I’ve felt more like being artistic than crafty. I don’t know if it’s a desire to express myself or if I just want to play around- maybe both- but I’ve had some fun experimenting with collage and mixed media.

I started with the large envelope my Shutterfly order came in. Weird, yeah, but it was destined for the trash and it was a nice thick poster board material that looked like it could handle an onslaught of mod podge. 

Once I had my base, I started looking through old magazines. My goal for this piece was to do something fall-ish, maybe Thanksgiving-y. So I found lots of reds, greens, golds, and browns and started throwing them on there.

I was using home decorating magazines, so the images I got were full of texture- blankets, pillows, flooring, rugs, and flowers.

I mod podged them together, then once it dried I used a little cream colored acrylic paint and dry-brushed some character onto it. Then I used my Quickutz and punched “give thanks” out of old sheet music. Once it dried I outlined the letters with a fine tip Sharpie.

Next was this little gem.

This one was basically the same process (same Shutterfly envelope, same home decorating magazines) only I went with a girly shabby chic feel, inspired by one of the textures I hadn’t ended up using for my “give thanks” collage.

I went over everything with the same cream acrylic paint and then used some brown ink on the edges once it dried. Then I added a few touches of lace, some twine, a velvet flower and a button.

One of my favorite things about this one is that one of the images I used was a window looking out on a flowering tree, and you can just barely still see it in the background. It gives a soft, dreamy feel to it.

So that was my artsiness from yesterday. How about you- feeling artsy lately?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Home-based Preschool: G is for GHOST!

Several friends and I happen to have 3-year-olds at home, so we decided as a group to do a home-based preschool with them. We do 2 days a week, 9:30-12:30, and we alternate teaching in our homes. It’s great because there are 6 kids and 5 moms (one has twins) so I only have to teach once every 6 weeks. Honestly, I find the lesson preparation and teaching really fun, but it’s also a LOT of work, so I’m glad I don’t have to do it every week!

We’ve decided to focus on one letter each week. Our main goal is for the kids to have fun, but we also want them to learn something and to get used to being in a structured, school-type setting. We start the day with a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, a review of the calendar, singing the Days of the Week song, and a review of our letters.

Today for our letter review I used these fun cards I purchased a long time ago in Colonial Williamsburg. I had the kids try to make the letters with their bodies like the children on the cards. We laughed quite a bit trying to contort ourselves into the right shapes!

Then, because I had chosen “G is for Ghosts” as this week’s theme (Halloween and everything) we sang a song about 5 Little Ghosts and I used the flannel board to take the ghosts away one at a time as we sang.

Next we moved to a “web” I had created on the floor using masking tape for our Ghost Gathering Game. I put paper ghosts at various places on the web and the children had to take turns “walking the web” and collecting the ghosts.

They had to be careful not to step off the lines!

Once they had collected the ghosts, they ended at the scarecrow who had a box. They put the ghosts into the box and....

...then they took out the bell and rang it! Then we all clapped for them.

After our ghost gathering we headed to the kitchen for our ghostly snack- mozzarella cheese sticks and pretzel rods dipped in white chocolate with mini chocolate chip eyes.

When the kids finished their snacks I had them start on their craft- a ghost wind sock. I had already cut out all the pieces; they just had to glue it together. It was a windy day today, so when they took them out to their cars when it was time to go home, there were lots of happy squeals when they saw their ghosts wiggling in the wind!

After that we had some free play time so I could feed the baby, then we gathered together again on our blanket to read a book called, “Georgie the Ghost” about a ghost whose house became unfit for haunting for awhile. Poor Georgie!

Then we went into the kitchen for a lively game of Ghost Bowling (those are rolls of toilet paper with eyes attached to them). Each child got a turn to stand behind the line and roll the ball to see how many ghosts they could knock down.

Once our ghost bowling was done we went back to the blanket for another story- this one called “The Ghosts’ Dinner”. In the story, a ghost hosts a dinner party and the food makes the ghosts change color! The kids thought that was very silly.

When the story was done, I let the kids go outside for some free play while I prepared our lunch: PB&J ghosts (cut out using a tulip-shaped cookie cutter upside down!) with raisin eyes, ghostly bananas on a stick with mini chocolate chip eyes, and Go-Gurt (to keep with our “G” theme).

After lunch I had a G is for Ghost coloring sheet for the kids who wanted to do it then (I gave them the option of doing it here or taking it home) and I encouraged them to think about what they’d serve their ghost for dinner and color the ghost that color. Little Boo decided her ghost had eaten strawberries.

I think all the kids had a good time and I always have so much fun planning it! Doing a home-based preschool with friends is a really great way to help your kids develop social skills and prepare them for school. It’s also great for the moms to get a break a couple times a week, but to also get the opportunity to teach. It doesn’t need to cost money- with a little creativity (Pinterest, people!) you can keep it thrifty but fun.

My next letter is M- I’m thinking mail and music...any thoughts? :-)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Hair Clips

On Sunday and Monday we were pretty much hanging out at home thanks to Hurricane Sandy, so I decided that some craftiness was in order. What better to do on a stormy day?

I pulled out some goodies I’d purchased last fall for this very purpose and had a little fun. Trick or treat!


No hocus pocus here- just some good old-fashioned crafty fun!!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just a little pretty for your day...

I have been ACHING to do some paper crafting ever since I got my craft room studio all organized. I primed my creativity by watching some paper crafting videos online (a great FREE way to learn new techniques and get inspired with new ideas, by the way) and then I came up with this little tag. It’s a little much, I know, but I was just having some fun.

I just wanted to make something pretty. So I did.

How about you? Made anything pretty lately?

Linking up to...

Paper Issues Blog Design


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Because apparently is humanly possible to have your ears talked off.

Or it sure feels that way to me when my 3-year-old and I are spending the day together at home. I love the girl, but most of our conversations go like this:

C: Mom, what’s this?
Me: Medicine for Tyson’s ear.
C: Why his ear need medicine?
Me: Because it has owies.
C: Why it got owies?
Me: Because it’s infected.
C: What infected?
Me: It means his ear has bad germs in it that make it hurt.
C: His ear have germs?
Me: Yup.
C: Why his ear have germs?
Me: I don’t know, it just happens.
C: It just happens?
Me: Yes, just happens.
C: Why it just happens?
Me: *facepalm*

Don’t get me wrong. I love the girl. I just can’t handle the fifty million questions that flow from her every minute she’s anywhere near me. Today in the midst of the “whys” and the “how comes” I decided to go to my list of ideas I’ve pinned to keep her occupied during the day. One of those was button practice using felt. I recently redid my craft room (still a work in progress, but photos will be coming soon) so I could actually find everything I needed to do this little project:

Just a big piece of felt, some little pieces of different colored felt cut into shapes with a slit for the buttons, needle & thread, and some buttons to match the colors of the shapes. Only took about 15 minutes to put together. 

Here’s Little Boo, quite proud of herself for unbuttoning and rebuttoning all the shapes!

And here’s me, getting a chance to actually do a blog post because she’s happily working away on those buttons. Ahh, peace.

Have you ever done some emergency crafting to occupy little hands for awhile?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gettin’ Skinny the Beautiful Thrifty Life Way!

*I am not getting paid or compensated in any way for this post. I probably should be, but really I’m just gushing because I looooove it!*

So, beautiful baby girl is here and Mommy is thrilled- but fat!

Okay, I’m not that fat, but I could definitely stand to lose a few pounds. And, as per my usual, I decided to forgo the expensive programs like NutriSlim and Weight Watchers and skip the pricey gym membership as well. 

So how am I losing my weight?

I am using a fantastic FREE program called My Fitness Pal. If you want to lose weight, get in shape, or even just learn more about your relationship with food, you have to try this! Here’s how it works:

- Go to - you can use the website with your computer or you can download their free app for your mobile device.

- Enter in your info: age, height, weight, average daily activity level. Then tell it what your goal weight is and how much you want to lose each week.

- My Fitness Pal will then calculate your daily calorie goal: your calorie limit for each day for you to lose the amount of weight you desire. 

- Start tracking! MFP has a huge food database- all different brands, along with various raw fruits and  veggies. Just type in what you ate and it will find it for you and tell you how many calories you’ve consumed. You add it to your daily “food diary” and MFP will tell you how many calories you still have left. You can even put in the ingredients for your favorite recipes and MFP will calculate the calories and save them so you can easily access it whenever you need to.

- Get moving! MFP also allows you to set fitness goals. Anytime you work out, you add the exercise and minutes and you can earn yourself more calories! Want an extra dessert? Better put on your gym shoes first!

- Get friends and family to sign up- MFP is like facebook, where you can add your friends and family and see whenever they work out, complete their daily food diary, or log a weight loss. Even on days when I don’t feel like working out, I’ll see that someone else did and it motivates me to get my butt in gear!

Using this program has made losing weight like a game for me. I look forward to adding in my food and seeing how many calories I have left. I enjoy trying to find ways to trim calories, and finding healthier alternatives to my usual favorite foods. I love working out and rushing back to my computer to enter in my minutes and watch my calorie allowance for the day suddenly go up (yummy dessert, here I come)!

Here are the ways this program has really helped me:

1. I have learned to make better food choices. I know that 250-calorie cupcake tastes good, but I also know that 60-calorie peach won’t leave me hungry again in 30 minutes like the cupcake will.

2. I have learned the difference between wanting something to eat and being *actually* hungry. Now when I think I’m hungry, I drink a glass of water first. Most of the time the water does the trick and I’m fine.

3. I’m drinking more water! MFP also allows you to track your water intake, which is an important element in losing weight. Stay hydrated!

4. I’m learning portion control- in order to correctly track my calories I have to accurately measure my portions, and I’m realizing I was eating WAY more than I should.

5. I’m learning that it takes awhile for my brain to register that I’ve eaten. Often after I’ve eaten my correct portion size I will still feel hungry. But I’ve found that if I wait 30 minutes or so, I will actually feel satisfied. This realization is definitely helping me to stay on track and not overeat.

6. I can eat whatever I want! I know that if I save up my calories I can still enjoy that dessert and be completely guilt-free while doing it.

7. No guesswork. It’s simple math: calories in vs. calories out. I know that as long as my calories in are less than my calories out, I’m losing weight. Simple.

The best part? I actually look forward to getting on the scale- I’m excited to see how much weight I’ve lost! And by the way, it’s not just me- I got my whole family on board and they have lost about 16 lbs between the 5 of them over just the last 2-3 weeks. I have lost 3 lbs over the last 4 weeks doing it, and I can honestly say it’s been really fun. :-)

Do you need to lose weight? Do you want to learn more about your relationship with food and try to make healthier choices? Check it out! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Pinteresting Pinvestigation

Pinterest has become a fun hobby for me- not just browsing and pinning, but actually trying out new recipes and activities and tips that I pin. A few months ago I shared some of my Pinterest successes with you and this week I thought I’d add a few more- both the successful and not-so-successful. :-)

Let’s start with the good:

Like these flourless fudge cookies from Chocolate & Carrots...YUM! Warning: these do stick- make absolutely sure you have the parchment paper for these. I did, and they were still pretty sticky! But oh so delicious and worth it!

And another winner:

Ho. ly. cow. This recipe for restaurant-style steak from Amuse Bouche is UNbelievable. I thought I had died and gone to steak heaven when I took my first bite after making this. Seriously- if you like steak then this recipe is a MUST! Warning: I have made this a few times now and I always have to open the windows and turn on the fans because it will SMOKE YOU OUT! But again, SO worth it.

Need some more dessert? I gotcha covered:

Lemony Cream Butter Cake from blackjack bakehouse

This Lemony Cream Butter Cake from the Blackjack Bakehouse is as lemony and creamy and buttery as it looks! I made this for a luncheon at church and was practically mobbed by people asking me about it. One lady overheard the fray and wanted a piece but there were none left- someone actually insisted that she lick the serving utensil so she could get a taste!! So funny!

Need something healthier? That’s okay, I got you covered there too:

These pina colada pops are made with fruit and coconut milk and they are YUMmy! My kids love them too, which is a total plus in my book!

One more hallelujah recipe for you (this one not so healthy):

It’s cake batter fudge, people. Cake. batter. fudge. Do I really need to say anything else? I bought another funfetti cake mix today because my children have practically been on their knees pleading with me to make more of this stuff. (They really had to twist my arm, you know.) And it’s waaaay easy to make, too- just mix and chill. This could be dangerous.

Okay, enough with the sweets- let’s get back to dinner.

This Man-Pleasing Chicken from Witty in the City pleased my man AND me! I used dried rosemary because I didn’t have fresh, and I thought it was quite tasty. I’m actually making it again this week- it’s a quick and easy recipe, which is important when you have a newborn at home!

And last but not least, who’s up for breakfast?

These Bacon Egg Cups from Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body are tasty and perfect for a crowd. My only complaint was that they took a little while to put together (that bacon is slippery and doesn’t like to behave nicely in muffin cups!) and they were a tad on the greasy side because the bacon grease had nowhere to go. I made these when I had house guests and both they and my kids really liked them.

So, have you been cooking any of your pins? Found any new favorite recipes? Leave a comment and share! Next week I’ll be back with some pin FAILS! Those are always fun...

Linking up to

Monday, July 30, 2012

Look Who's Finally Here!

I would like to introduce you to the newest member of our family, Teeny. 

She arrived only 1 day behind schedule, on July 20th. 

She's a very zen little squirt, and her big brother and sisters are so excited she's here.

We are, too. :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Quick Afternoon Project: BAGS Dispenser Can

Guess what? Today's my due date! Still no baby. *sigh* Anyway, thought I'd at least commemorate the day with a post for y'all.

Earlier this week my son had a friend over to play, my littlest was down for a nap, and I knew Starlet would be bored and I wanted to find something to do with her to keep her out of the boys' hair. I have discovered recently that she's a big fan of paper crafting, and I've had this project on my to-do list for awhile, so I thought we could have some fun with it together.

This handy-dandy bag dispenser was created from an empty #10 can which we Mod-Podged with scrapbooking paper. Starlet helped me choose the colors, apply the Mod-Podge, and she was in charge of using the Quickutz to  punch the die-cut flowers and letters. I assembled the flowers and we figured out the placement together.

As you can probably tell from some of the flowers, I also let Starlet cut them out with scissors. They aren't perfect, but they're beautiful because we did it together. :-) And now we have a pretty, colorful bag dispenser! Perfect for all those dirty diapers that are sure to be coming our way soon...I hope...

For more great project ideas for your old cans, check out this post by Under the Table and Dreaming.

Hope you're having a fun summer. Have you done anything crafty with your kids recently?

Linking up to...

shabby creek cottage

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