Tuesday Letter

Dear grocery store on Martin Luther King Day, no offense, but never happening again. No.  Never. Dear Madeline, what made you think “HI-YAH” – ing the church door open was a good idea?  It was hilarious, but don’t do it again. Dear Mesquite library, thanks so much for not believing me when I promised the book was defaced when we checked it out. You know, the one that was full of handwriting that was clearly not my kids, but you made me pay $24 for anyway. Also, the condescending attitude made it even better. Thanks a lot. You guys rock.

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Getting Organized: Give, Save, and Spend Kids Money Jars

I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with Brother and Blueprint Social. As always, all opinions are my own.

Did you know the January is National Get Organized Month? One of the reasons I love jumping into a new year is all of the list-making, goal-setting, and organizing that happens.  All of these things make me happy.  Yes, I know I’m a nerd.  Today I’m going to share my favorite organizational tips, a tutorial for helping kids organize money, and a giveaway.  Awesome, right?

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Every year in January I get bit by the organizational bug.  I think it’s a combination of being stuck inside the house and the post-holiday clutter, but I generally do most of my organizing right at the beginning of the year.  My top five organizing tips are:

  • Have a plan.  Gather supplies first (lists, boxes for purging, etc.) so you can get right to it once you start.
  • Tackle one space/room at a time.  I’ve attempted to do the whole house all at once and it’s overwhelming, messy, and discouraging. Better to pick one space and concentrate your efforts there before moving to the next.
  • Purge as you sort and organize.  Have separate, clearly labeled boxes for trash, donations/items to sell, and items you want to store.  Be as ruthless as possible, especially if the items haven’t been used in a long time (or ever).
  • Clean as you go.  If you have a shelf cleared, clean it before putting items back. Vacuum out those corners you haven’t seen since last January. ;)
  • Once the organization is complete, immediately deal with the boxes of items you’ve purged.  You don’t want that stuff to find it’s way back to their shelves/closets/drawers.

One of my goals this year is to teach my kids a little about money managing. They have regular chores that they’re required to do daily, but I wanted to give them a chance to earn some money by doing additional work around the house.  My hope is that they’ll start to understand a little about the value of money and hard work, as well as why it’s important to save and give some of what they earn.

I started by writing down some small jobs along with an amount I’ll pay on large craft sticks.  We keep these in a jar and they can pull one whenever they have free time and want to earn a little cash. Then at the end of the week we pay them whatever they’ve accumulated (I haven’t yet, but will be making a spreadsheet to keep track of what jobs they’ve done each week.)

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This system has been in place for a few weeks, but now that they’re getting paid, I needed something to help them divide their earnings into three categories: save, give, and spend.

Supplies:

  • 3 mason jars (per kid)
  • Embellishments (optional) – I used lace and fabric flowers
  • Glue gun
  • Brother P-Touch label maker

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I wanted these jars to be both functional and pretty for my fancy girls, so I added some embellishment by securing lace and flowers with the glue gun.

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Then I broke out my new Brother P-Touch Label Maker to make the labels.  This thing is awesome; you can pick from a variety of fonts, sizes, symbols, and even frames to customize how you like. Just insert the cartridge and batteries, type your word in, and hit print.

IMG_2419  I had a lot of playing around with fonts and borders, but settled on simple so the girls would have no trouble reading their labels.

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The girls love their new jars and I love that they’re learning that money has to be earned (and is more than for just spending).

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To help your own organizational efforts out, Brother is giving away a P-Touch label maker every day in January as well as a Grand Prize pack worth up to $2000! Go here to enter!

For more inspiration on how the Brother P-Touch Label Maker can help you get organized, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.  And as a bonus, you can check out these other organization projects created by some amazing bloggers:

Check out more great ways to get organized with a Brother P-Touch.

Linking up to: Flamingo Toes

Week(s) in Review: December 21 – January 10

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a recap, mostly due to a LOT of sickness.  Nobody wants to see photos of kleenex and red-rimmed eyes, right?

Bronchitis

We’re all on the (very SLOW) road to recovery now, and settling into our post-holiday routine. A few activities we worked on during the break:

Christmas cookie baking/decorating – tradition.

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We also worked on decorating some paper mache houses. Confession: mine still isn’t quite done.  I blame the bronchitis. Don’t judge.

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We “grew” a candy cane by planting a peppermint in soil and watching is sprout over the course of a few days. Magical, right? (Honestly, I’m pretty shocked that Susannah didn’t put two and two together when she saw the bowl of mini candy canes appear a few days later.)  photo (21)

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We had a wonderful Christmas with family – lots of games and food and fun.  I have to show you guys what Madeline picked out (all on her own, I swear) for her grandma.

IMG_2207 Yes, that is a plunger.  She decided that would be hilarious.  I don’t know where she comes up with this stuff.

The plague hit us right after Christmas, and while it wasn’t really how we wanted to spend the last week of our break, it did make us really slow down and rest quite a bit, which probably isn’t a bad thing.

This past week we started school back up and it went surprisingly smoothly.  Maybe we were all ready to get back to it. I was still feeling under the weather so we didn’t do anything that required me gathering supplies, but we finished up our gigantic stack of holiday books we’d gathered to read over the break and enjoyed snuggling together on the couch.  We’ve decided our favorite holiday book this season is Santa Claus The World’s Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee.  It’s pretty adorable. IMG_2275 IMG_2276

 

As always, I had the girls fill out some end-of-year questionnaires, which I’ll file away with all the previous years so I can pull them out and enjoy them when I’m old.  Or next year.  Whichever happens first. :)

It’s always a fun activity and I know someday I’ll be happy I had them do this when they were small.

Apparently Susannah wants to improve her MATHEMATICS this year.  I think that her wish can be accommodated. (I’ve never called it mathematics, so I’m not sure where she even came up with that.)

2014 Review

 

I’ve been thinking over my goals for the year and may post more about them later. I’ve been promising myself I was going to keep an art journal for a couple of years now, so I committed myself to two separate projects to keep myself on task: the Documented Life Project and Documented Faith.  One focuses on new techniques and the other is more of a faith journal; both give weekly prompts and loose guidelines to work within. I may not post my pages every week, but I’ll try to at least occasionally to keep myself accountable. (I’ll probably share more frequently on Instagram - follow along here.)  Here are my first pages.

Documented Life Project

Documented Life Project

Documented Faith

Documented Faith

Hmm, what else?  I’ve got a few small projects in the works that I hope to finish up and share soon.  Here’s a photo of some bookmarks I made this week.  No more receipts and kleenex to hold my place in books!  I used a mix of watercolors, acrylics, and ink, then stitched around the edges with my sewing machine. I kinda love how they turned out.

Watercolor Bookmarks

 

I think that pretty much sums up our last couple of weeks. The holidays are sparkling and fun and awesome, but I almost love the fresh start of a new year even more.  Goal-making and piles of lists are kind of my thing, though, so it’s not really surprising.

What have you been up to over the break?  Did you make any goals for 2015? Please share!

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I seriously can’t even remember the last time I posted a recipe here.  Luckily for you (and us), I let some bananas get a little too ripe recently and ended up whipping up this scrumptious bread to avoid throwing them out.  I kind of just took bits and pieces of recipes I had laying around to fit the ingredients I had in the house at them time, and this is what came out of the oven.  And let me tell you, it’s pretty tasty. Heavy, dense, and moist, just like banana bread is supposed to be.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 over-ripe banans, peeled and mashed
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (dark are the best)

Mix the bananas with butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla.  I have a thing about lumps, so I beat mine for a while to make the banana mixture a little smoother.
Add the dry ingredients, beating until just combined, then add the chocolate chips.
Pour into greased bread pan and bake at 375 for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

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It’s the perfect thing to bake up on a cold January day. Plus you don’t have to throw those old bananas out. Double-win.

Oh, and if chocolate chips aren’t your jam, check out this coconut banana bread recipe – it’s my personal favorite.

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Tuesday Letter on a Thursday

Dear blog, you poor neglected thing, I’ve missed you.  Dear 2015, you came in with a bang – of coughing, sneezing, wheezing, etc. for the entire family. Thanks for that.  Dear bronchitis, it is almost worth dealing with you so I can say “aint nobody got time fo that” over and over. Almost. Dear school, we didn’t exactly miss you while we were on break, but we’re kind of enjoying you now. That song about “mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again” took on new meaning this year. Dear January, you’re kind of cold so far.  I’m okay with that, but if I could have one fifty degree day to finish up that spray painting project it would be awesome…

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Family Initial Birch Ornament

I try to make an ornament or two every year to add to our tree, but since I’ve been a total grinch this holiday season  when it came to decorating(we’re lucky the tree made it up…nothing else did), I hadn’t planned on anything.  After a pretty spectacular fail on the sewing front today – Christmas outfits for the girls are NOT happening, apparently – I decided I should at least make an attempt at an ornament.  I don’t want to be a total failure, yall.

I found some birch slices that I picked up a few months ago (totally obsessed with all things birch, you guys) and settled on a super-simple plan: our family initial.  It doesn’t get much easier than one letter.

I didn’t want to cover up much of the natural beauty of the birch wood, so I dug out some black ink and a letter stamp and applied it directly to the wood.

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I thought about drilling an eye hook into the top of the slice but was too lazy to go find the drill (grinch, remember?), so I substitued hot glue and twine.

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It took me all of five minutes and I really like it.  Birch wood is pretty much fail-proof in my eyes, though.  If only I could have motivated myself to make a few more…

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I actually have another ornament I’d like to make with the girls tomorrow, so maybe this years ornament additions won’t be a total bust.  Fingers crossed.

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Loving Right Now: Fall 2014

Doesn’t it seem ridiculous that it’s technically still autumn?  It’s always felt weird to me that Christmas just barely squeaks in to be included in the winter months.  Since we have two whole days of autumn left I thought I’d make a quick list of things I’ve been enjoying this past season.

First up, I’ve been having lots of fun with my Ipsy subscription.  For just $10 a month I get to try a bunch of new beauty products.  I’m not a huge experimenter with makeup so it surprised me that I enjoy this subscription as much as I do, but it’s fun to get something in the mail that isn’t credit card offers or reminders that I’ve won four thousand lotteries. Plus every month the products come in a pretty little pouch…and you can never have enough of those, right?

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I know this is going to come as a shock to everyone, but I’ve spent a lot of time in Hobby Lobby recently (and not recently) and I’m obsessed with this canvas.  I don’t even know what I’d do with it if I had it, but that doesn’t stop me from looking it up every single time I go.  The girls are tired of me staring at it.

US Canvas - wish list

Another thing I’m a little new to is hair product, but this texturizer by Fekkai is pretty awesome for my shorter hairs.  I received this as a sample from Influenster and like it enough that I might actually spend the money to buy some when the sample runs out.

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Although I haven’t used this planner yet, I’ve had it for a few months and love flipping through it.  So pretty and maybe it’ll help with my organization. Or the prettiness will just make me happy.  Either works.

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Also making the list is pretty much anything from the Naptime Diaries shop.  Their prints are seriously amazing.  I ordered their advent calendar/devotional and have really been enjoying it this month. I haven’t purchased any of their prints yet, but at some point I’m going to have to own a few, especially the “Bless the Lord, Oh my Soul” one.  It’s perfection. I’m also fond of the one with the lyrics from Oh Love that Will Not Let me Go, because it’s one of my favorite hymns and I never see it used in artwork.

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Remember how Sonic’s diet cranberry limeades made my list earlier this year?  Well, I still like them.  But you guys…NERD SLUSHES.  I try not to have them very often because they sure aren’t sugar-free, but hello – NERD SLUSHES.  Apparently I like nerds.  Who knew?

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Also making the bad-choices-drink-list are cappuccinos.  I honestly do not understand how I made it to the ripe old age of 35 before discovering the beauty of the cappuccino.  I think, possibly, it’ll all be downhill from here.

So what’s on your current love list?

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