April Challenge Journal

Day 22

Today is the last day of April, meaning the last day of our "Get Creative Challenge!"

I decided today to post my menu for the next week for all of you who are interested. Click on the link to view the recipes.

Most of the photos are courtesy of Google images or the recipe site I got the recipe from.


Mexican Monday- Taco Salad Toastada

Take-Out Tuesday- Ceasar Pita Calzones

Whats New Wednesday- Creamed Chicken and Biscuits

Three-Second Thursday- Chicken Chili (we didnt get around to making this 2 weeks ago, so I still have all the ingredients!)

Favorite Friday- Raspberry Chipotle Chicken with Cranberry Spinach Salad

Sunrise Saturday-Monte Cristo Sandwiches

Salad Sunday- Crunchy Asian Salad

Day 21

Treating Myself Day

...because I deserve it!

Tonight I decided to treat myself to an Orange Sunrise Smoothie from Jack in the Box. If you havent tried these, I suggest you give it a try. It's like a smoother Orange Julius- its fantastic! I want one right now actually.

Day 20

Crafting with the Kiddos!

Today I went to Wal Mart on a "date" with Ethan (which in itself was something fun to blog about!) and we picked a craft for the all of us to do this afternoon- painting those plastic sun catchers. A whole set of 18 catchers with the stain and brush was only $4.97!

I bought an extra pack of stain ($1.99) because I wanted to avoid any arguments over paint between Ethan and Leah, but still, a great craft that the kids enjoyed for way less than $10- it was fantastic!

I love afternoons where we get to do something different and sit and have fun. My kids can be hilarious to talk to, and I enjoyed every minute of hearing their thoughts, seeing their excitment, and feeling their pride as they showed their dad their "creations" later that evening.

I took my own pictures, but they wont be posted until our computer gets fixed... whenever that will be!

Day 19

So today my creative-ness was put to work as a favor for my MIL. She needs 20 purple beaded bracelets by Sunday for an Integrity Handout in Young Womens. At first I didnt think I would have the time to make them all and overnight them, since I would still have to go to the store and buy the supplies, but then I got out my bead box and lo and behold I had plenty of supplies! (See what happens when you go through "craft phases"- you end up with all these supplies you put away and forget you even had. It is a sickness, really.)

Day 18

Today I learned a great, NEW cleaning tip!

So what do you do when this:

becomes this:

one big, spilled, waxy layer mess on your walls and carpet?
(and this picture was taken 1/2 way thru the clean-up process, so imagine it twice as bad!)

Well, first you get a kitchen sponge and then laugh at yourself for even thinking the wax would "wipe up".

Then you start scraping your fingernails along the wall. You grab a kitchen scraper and even a plastic fork and start scraping the wall and realize textured walls absolutely suck! Then, you are handed a lighter (from your husband) and try melting the wax off the wall without burning the wall, and hope the carpet doesnt catch fire- and to think this very month I am teaching my preschoolers about fire safety! HA!

When all that fails, you head to the computer and find this fabulous idea on ehow.com- my new favorite site!

Items Needed:

Paper Lunch Bags

All you do is place the bag over the spilled wax, turn the iron onto the lowest setting and begin to "iron" the bag. Keep it moving and in just seconds, the wax begins to be adsorbed by the paper bag! It worked for the carpet and the wall and it took no time at all! It was amazing to watch and it kept me and Leah entertained and amused the entire time. Apparently it works for all surfaces and fabrics! Sweet!

(K, thanks Rob for the GREAT picture of me- and no, my iron wasn't burned during this, it has been that way forever!)

From this, I leaned:

1. Ehow.com is fantastic

2. Keep your wax burner off the carpet

3. I am a little obsessed with innovative ways to clean, it might become a problem!

Did anyone else not know this or was it just news to me?

Day 17

Running with a new idea today. Why? Because my life isn't busy enough already! lol

Anyway, I have been wanting to go public with my own "Home Orgnaization" plan ever since I tried out FlyLady years ago and got too overwhelmed.

My plan? Set a simple routine for cooking, cleaning and home organization that is easy enough for everyone to follow. Hopefully this will take off and land me on the Oprah show someday on the show "Moms who Made Millions" :) Then Rob can retire and we can travel all over the world. I guess I set my goals high, wouldn't you say?

Here is the site I set up today. Definitely a work in progress, but it will be fun to perfect!

Day 16

Learning Something NEW- Posting a Video on your blog

How easy was this!? Just like posting a picture, but click the icon to the right of the picture icon. Choose your file, hit "upload" and in the time it takes you to pick up your 6 year old from school and get back to the computer, your video is ready! (K, so I am not exactly sure how long it took to upload, but it couldn't have been too long!

Here is the first video I have ever posted on a blog! Hopefully it works!

"Leah's Got Rock Moves"

Day 15

Baking. My something creative for the day. Baking. I am SO NOT A BAKER. I decided this long ago, but I was reminded about it again today. I am not a baker. I don't know why, because I love to cook, but me and baking for some reason don't mesh well. Maybe because you have to measure stuff. When I cook, I don't usually measure. Maybe because baking just seems so much easier (and cheaper) if it comes from Betty Crocker of Pillsbury. I know it always tastes better homemade, but I am still trying to decide if it is worth the effort. Rob is buying me a nice mixer as soon as I decide which one I want, but I am starting to wonder if it will ever get used. Maybe he should save his money, or buy me clothes or something. Hmmmm. Now thats a thought.

Anyway, today I made this recipe from Ema. It has gotten great reviews from everyone who has tried it. Even Rob, who is not a sweet eater, absolutely loved these cookies today when they were finished. He had like 3 or 4. Usually he will have a bite of mine and call it good. My opinion of them was that they tasted a bit salty for some reason, and it might be because my baking soda was expired! (oops!) lol.

Anyway, this recipe makes a ton! I still have a bowl of dough in my fridge that doesnt have a dent in it, and that is after making 3 dozen for a scout activity tonight- by the way, everyone loved these cookies at scouts too- no one said they were too salty, even when I asked! Maybe I am just being over critical?

So here is the recipe:

Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 c. brown sugar
1 lb butter (yep, a whole pound!)
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tblsp vanilla
6 c. flour
5 c. chocolate chips
2 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Cream together sugar, brown sugar, butter, and eggs. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Make dough balls and put on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

For Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, decrease flour to 5 1/2 c. and add 2 1/2 c. oatmeal and 1-2 cups of raisins. Slightly mash before cooking.

Ryan loved them too! (Of course he did!)

Day 14

Today I had fun making new blog headings for my private blog and the family blog I never update!

Day 13

Adding on to yesterday's post, here is my menu for next week. Click on the links to view the recipes.

And I am not taking all the credit for some of these yummy pictures! With the help of google images, I was able to illustrate some pretty appetizing meals!

Mexican Monday: Chicken Tacos
Take-Out Tuesday: French Bread Pizza
What's New Wednesday: Teriyaki Chicken
Three-Second Thursday: Chicken Chili
Favorite Friday: Meatloaf Muffins
Sunrise Saturday: French Toast
Salad Sunday: Broccoli Salad

Day 12

Today I re-created the way I do my menu planning. I creatively named each night of the week so that when it comes to picking meals for the week, I can make sure i have variety and hopefully save some time thumbing through my recipes. Here is what I came up with:

Mexican Monday: My family is a big lover of all things Spanish style!
Take-Out Tuesday: Not necessarily meaning we will order out...although I must admit this day was strategically planned to coincide with 35 cent wing night at Native New Yorker! (Love those!) This night is one of the busiest nights of the week for us, so if I want to pull the "Honey, lets order out" card, I can do it, but also it means we can make meals that are "Take Out Foods." For example, my family loves pizza, but we make it more than we order it. I love a good pizza idea- French Bread Pizza, Bagel Pizzas etc- but even a frozen Freschetta would do well on Take Out Tuesday. It can also be a night where Rob grills some burgers- not quite McDonalds Take Out, but much better tasting, healthier, and still I dont have to cook!
What's New Wednesday: I love trying new recipes and try to do at least one every week. Here is where I will experiment with some of the recipes I have been wanting to try.
Three-Second Thursday: We need a night each week where we allow ourselves to lay low and go easy. I am a sucker for something that takes little time to prep and cook, things you can throw in a crockpot that morning when you have energy that magically appear all ready to be eaten after you battle with the kids all day. Thursdays are the days I decided to cook those easy, quick "Set it and Forget it" meals.
Favorite Friday: Every family has their favorites, so why not treat each other to a good meal at the end of a long week!?
Sunrise Saturday: Eating what you would typically consider "Breakfast Foods" at dinner time.
Salad Sunday: I am lucky- we go to my mom's house every Sunday and she cooks the main course while I bring a salad. I try to mix it up a bit and get more creative than a fresh garden salad... though I will be the first to admit I often bring a bag of "Fresh Express" with a bottle of Ranch and call it good.

So this planning took me so long to do that I decided to finish my menu for the week and do my grocery shopping tomorrow. Goodnight!

Day 11

Good, Clean FUN!

Creative Cleaning- Taking A Page Out of Becca's Book

Getting the kids to have fun while cleaning can be a chore in itself! Sometimes its just easier to bypass the whines and fits and clean up myself. Today I decided to try Becca's take on Creative Cleaning, and it was a great cleaning experience that didn't end in tears! Imagine that!

I gave each of the kids a baby wipe and told them there would be a prize for whoever came back to me with the dirtiest wipe! The kids were off- dusting the blinds, wiping the tile in the entry way, getting the fingerprints off the banister... and they were laughing while they were doing it! Surprisingly, Leah won! (She's my little clean freak!)

Then I took it a step further and went to the playroom. I told the kids we would all make our own pile of toys and whoever could make their pile the biggest would also get a prize. Ethan won this competition, and he was so happy about it.

Now, with 3 piles of toys sitting on the playroom floor, I issued one last challenge. I told the kids that whoever can have all the toys in their piles put into the toybox before I counted to 30 could go in the hottub after dinner. The race was on, and I didn't even have to slow down my counting- everything was put away in under 30 seconds!

At the end of it all, I had 2 happy kids, a clean house and one very happy momma!
Day 10

I found a little extra time this morning to work on my bow blog. I am getting happier and happier with the way it looks, though not totally satisfied just yet. I made a cute horizontal navigation bar that took me sometime to get the sizing right, and it still looks a bit big, but for now it will have to do!

Now I just need to get my bows pictured and put on there- that's the point of the site, right? It will all be ready to go someday....

Here is my blog.

And here is the site I found that has great tutorials on giving your own blog an update. Give it a try if you have a few extra days laying around. It can be addicting!

I, along with the majority of the world, also like The Cutest Blog On the Block for a quick facelift. It's easy to do, and best of all its FREE! Check them out if you haven't already. I think they were at one time the most popular free blog design company, but now there are sooooo many! I also like:
Delightful Dots
Aqua Poppy Designs
Shabby Blogs

And I have found useful things on Blogging With Success. The had a tutorial or 2 that answered some questions I had at one time.

If you want a totally different look, try these 3 sites (which also link up to a bazillion different sites too!) You can download a whole bunch of templates, instead of just changing the paper background, and again- all for free.
Delux Templates
Our Blog Templates

Happy blogging everyone!

Day 9

Today I brought the kids into the kitchen and we colored Easter Eggs!

A day late, I know, I know, but we ran out of time to do it this weekend, so I saved it for an "After School & Homework Activity" and it was fantastic! The kids had a blast and everyone was happy for 20 minutes, imagine that!!! Now we have hard-boiled eggs to make egg salad sandwiches for the rest of the week! Yum!

Ethan putting in the eggs into the dye

Leah already well into the decorating process

Leah's finished products

Trying to make it look like an egg is coming out of his ear- silly boy.

Oh, Ryan was there too, but he was enjoying the activity from his booster seat while stuffing his face... and he couldn't be happier!

Day 8

Today was a great day of cleaning and organization! I cleaned out all 3 kids rooms and closets and gathered 2 big boxes of items to donate to D.I.! This is the third time in just a couple months I have done this, and it is amazing how much stuff I can get rid of and how great I feel after doing so! I have at least a whole carload of items to bring to the bin in the church parking lot tomorrow!

Ethan even got in on the action today and was having a blast dumping all his unwanted toys- never thought I would see the day that would happen, but he was totally into it! He kept saying how easy it would be to clean his room with all these toys gone- boy I hope he is right!

Anyway, it is always a great feeling coming home to a clean house, so I am feeling pretty good tonight!

Have a good weekend!

Day 7

Today I got creative with some photo editing!

After this week's Biggest Loser, I really can't stand Ron! I didn't like him after the second or third week, and he has just gone downhill in my book from there! Last night convinced me that the show was totally rigged. I think the weigh in is rigged and the producers definitely use some creative editing! Hearing Sione and his wife fill me in on other "non-aired" details, I just can't believe anything they portray from any character anymore. They made him and Filipe look so bad and let Ron "The Godfather" come out looking triumphant!

They didn't highlight the part from the week before when Filipe was below the yellow line and Ron was trying to get Filipe out. THATS THE REASON THEY TURNED ON HIM IN THE LAST SHOW- Ron made the first move of betrayal!!! And the reason Jilian wouldn't work out Filipe in the Gym was because he refused to drink a cup of coffee before each workout like she demanded each of her teammates to do. None of that was shown! It make me sick! I will never watch this show after this season again!

Anyway, so my creative-ness was to pok a little fun at Ron, my least favorite contestant.

His nickname around here is "Triple Tit" (sorry if that is too vulgar, its just what we say!) Can you tell what I did to this photo? Its kinda small...

If that one was obvious enough, here it is blown up:

And lastly, I think since his last operation didn't work, he needs to go in for one more and change completely. Here is what I think he might come out looking like. Notice he hasnt lost any of his weight...

Ron I hope you "drop dead and die"(.... his words, not mine.)

Happy Thursday everyone!!! :)

Day 6

I did 3 new things today, all with the kiddos!

First off, I took Ethan and Leah to Dairy Queen for dipped cones after the Dentist! No cavities and creamy soft-serve covered in chocolate goodness. The kids had fun and I had a reason to snack on some high calories! We will definitely be doing this again and could perhaps make it a tradition. (Except it might have to be an "Every Friday" tradition rather than every 6 months after the Dentist- I don't know that I can go too long in between sweet treats from the DQ.)

Secondly, we got a little creative with some song and dance time this evening. Leah wanted a microphone like Hannah Montana, so we grabbed my 3lb weights, which are metal, unscrewed one end and ta-da! An instant microphone!

And lastly, I played baseball with Ethan in the yard today and we made our own bases from plants in the front yard and we got pretty creative with the rules so that 1 on 1 worked for us.

Today was a good day...

Day 5

Today I used the "Get Creative Challenge" and made it more personal. The picture above is my inspiration.

I took the next step to getting fit, and I am now working out 2x's a week with a guy in our ward who has decided to kick my butt and get me in shape! (Not that even if I lost 25lbs I would ever look that great in a bikini, but I am sure going to try!) We have a cruise coming up next month that I have to be a little less flabby for!

My hopes is that I can go from this:

(I am the one on the end! What? At least my skimpy bottoms are covered!) He he

To this!

I worked out with Marc once last week, but today was the day I committed to do it twice a week from here on out.

Oh, and I am dragging Rob with me! We are going to be the hottest couple on the cruise!!!

Day 4

Tomorrow is our monthly pack meeting for Boy Scouts and all month long I have been racking my brain trying to figure out a cute and practical way to display what the boys have completed. Today a great idea finally hit me!
Paper Bag Scrapbooks!!!

I got a paper bag for every month from January (when I was called to be their leader) until now. I kept the decorating simple- basically just titled it by month and typed a sentence or two of what we worked on during that month. I added some pictures I took at each activity and then I laminated the entire bag.

I cut a small strip of the laminated bag off from the side of the bag that opens to create "pockets" where I put all the papers and projects that were completed during the month.

Lastly, I punched 2- 3/4 inch circles along the side and tied with ribbon to bind it all together.

I want them to create their own cover, so that will go on top of it all next month. My plan for this scrapbook is for the boys to add to it each month and display it again and again at each pack meeting until it is fully complete with all 12 months and they can take it with them when they advance in scouting. I think this scrapbook will be a nice keepsake that’s easy to store if they decide to keep it for a long time.

So there it is. Easy, fun, and practical!

Day 3

Since this is my "happy blog", I won't mention my current stress and discouragement of 6 homework assignments, 3 discussion board responses, 1 quiz and 1 test (which I failed) all due by midnight tonight . Instead, I will let you all know how I am escaping this stress for my "Get Creative" Day #3. There really isn't much creativity involved, but it will be enriching, and that counts, right? In 1 hour I am leaving all my homework (done or not) and I am going out with some girlfriends to a movie. Thats right, I don't care if it gets done or not, I have had enough stressing over this and I am doing myself the favor of leaving it all behind for a few hours. If I get back tonight and feel like completing it, maybe I will. But for now, I am so done. Done. Done. Done. Whew. I am smiling already!

Day 2

Today I made my first ever Blog Tutorial. I have a new respect for those of you who do this all the time! It took me forever!

First of all, I hate uploading pictures onto my computer, so to make sure I had every picture I needed so I would only have to upload once what stress in and of itself! Also, I decided I am too much of a perfectionist (duh!) because I played around with spacing of it all to make it look "just right" for over an hour!

I really like blog tutorials, and I have learned to make quite a few things from creative people's blogs, but documenting the tutorial is a lot of work!

If you have a great tutorial, send me the link in your comment. I would love to highlight it on my sidebar- You deserve the credit for putting in the time!

See my first tutorial HERE

Day 1

Today, I stretched my creativity by:

-1. Setting up this new fantastic blog!

-2. Playing a new Shrek Matching Game with Ryan and Leah- One I have never before played!

3- Cleaning out my craft stuff (I have WAY too much stuff!)

(Unfortunately, my craft desk is at the top of the stairs and often serves as a catch all for misc items!)

Time to start creating! Oh, and I found $9 in all this maddness!!! I love finding money!

-4. Making some bows. wipee cases and ribbon boards for the boutique this weekend

(Obviously not all these bows were made today!)
Day one done and feeling great!!!