Playing Catch Up

February came along and hit me like a freight train! My kids had colds, I got their cold plus another minor illness, then my kids got sick again. My kids noses run like a faucet when they get colds and I’m pretty sure I wore a groove in the floor running back and forth to the tissues! I’m soooo ready for spring and warmer weather! Bring on the sunscreen and kiddie pool!

I’ve not had a chance to do much in the way of creative things lately with all the house cleaning and laundry I’m trying to catch up on. Does anyone else dread cleaning their shower as much as I do? I finally checked that off my list of things to do today. I’m pretty sure it was close to three weeks between cleaning this time…

However, I did start something new amidst all the colds and cleaning!!! Homeschool! I’ve been talking and dreaming about wanting to homeschool for quite some time. It was always a ways down the road though, in my mind. Right now, my son is three and a half and my daughter is about two and a half, so I decided to take the plunge and start preschool for one hour three days a week with them. Our first week of preschool was the first week of February. So far, we are all loving it! I’ve been setting a timer to go off when it is school time and they are now trained to yell, “School time!” whenever my kitchen timer beeps. Haha! I was baking muffins last night and they started saying it when the timer went off. Unfortunately it wasn’t school time, but I was able to console them with chocolate chip banana muffins.

I was so hesitant to start homeschooling because I felt like I wasn’t organized or ready enough, but I realized I would probably never really feel that I was. I’m keeping things simple with little money spent and little time spent prepping projects. I usually plan the week ahead during the weekend and prep whatever project we are doing the night before. Each week we focus on one letter and theme and read books about it. For example, last week we did F for Firetruck. Then, I supplement with whatever other activities I can find on Pinterest, read about, or dream up on that same theme. Easy peasy!

These are some of the activities we did and books we read from our Firetruck theme.
They were putting out ‘fires’ made of chalk. 😊

Painting flames!
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Happy New Year!

Well, it’s that time of year again! Who made some really ambitious New Year’s resolutions this year? Who chose a word for their year? Um…not me. Maybe my resolution should be to choose a word for my year. Haha!

I took a look at last year’s very late New Year’s post today. I knew I had set some tentative goals for 2017. And…here they are: blog more, read more, get up early to exercise, and find more time to be creative. I succeeded in at least one of these! Any guesses on which one it was? Well, let me tell you it definitely wasn’t getting up any earlier. (I actually tried to set an alarm today and managed to press snooze only once.) I’ll have to work on that again this year. Not that I didn’t exercise regularly, I just didn’t get up early to do it!

Anyhoo, the one goal I feel like I really made progress in is reading more! Most often I have 30-40 books checked out from the library at a time for me and the kids. I’ve started following several Instagram accounts of people who recommend great books and it makes it so much easier for me to find something worth reading. Previously, I would scan the spines of the books in the fiction section of the library while chasing my son and lugging my daughter on my hip. It didn’t lead to many great finds. (Although, I did run across Jill Mansell and Maris de los Santos in this way! They are both really fun and engaging writers.) Another thing that has really helped is putting books on hold so that I can grab them off the holds shelf instead of running around the library chasing my kids between the shelves as angry patrons glare at me.

Let’s see…blogging more. That didn’t really happen for the last part of the year due to some personal things I was dealing with. That just leaves finding more time to be creative. Now, believe it or not, I was quite successful in this area! I didn’t show you or document a lot of it, but I made pretty good progress in this area. My husband helped me set up a play area for the kids in the basement that they can use while I am at my desk sewing and whatnot. There is a trampoline, tv, and a bunch of blocks to keep them busy. We added one of their little outdoors slide for the winter. Also, I just painted the used toy kitchen that we had setting outside and put it down there! It’s pretty cute. Maybe I should take pictures and show you…

As for goals this year, I’ve not given it too much thought. I guess I can work on the two things I struggled with last year: getting up early and blogging more!

What goals or resolutions have you made? What’s your plan to stay strong and carry on with them through the year?

Here’s to another year of many good books and lots of creativity!

Chocolate Rolls

 

My husband is currently gone on vacation and I needed something yummy to comfort and distract me, so I decided to try making these chocolate rolls! I did use about a cup less flour than the recipe called for in the dough. I’m not sure if it’s the dry weather or elevation where I live in Colorado, but I always seem to need far less flour when I make rolls or bread.

After letting the dough rise in the bowl for an hour, I rolled it out on this piece of parchment paper to get it to the right size.

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Next, I deviated from the recipe and made my own filling! Instead of butter, sugar, and cocoa powder, I softened 8 oz. of cream cheese, added about 1/2 cup sugar, a splash of vanilla and about 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder. Yum!

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I spread this on the rolled out dough.

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Then, I rolled this up and used the sewing thread method to cut it into 12 rolls! (Does anyone else use this method? My mom taught me this way and it is the easiest way to do it, for sure!)

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By the way, I had melted 2 Tbsp. of butter in the bottom of the pan before putting the rolls in to keep them from sticking. Then I let them rise again for 30-40 minutes. At this point, my two year old starting begging to eat them. Patience, young one! Sometimes things are worth the wait.

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All puffy and ready for baking! I ended up baking them for 24 minutes at 350 degrees.  They cooled for about half an hour before I mixed up the glaze to drizzle on top. My two mini taste testers declared them yummy and jumped up and down on the couch with delight as they ate one.

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They were so worth the wait! They go quite well with a cup of coffee for breakfast. Now I have to try not to eat them all up and remember to share with my children!

A Solution to Leftover Easter Candy

If you knew me ten years ago, you probably knew that I had a massive sweet tooth. I loved chocolate, candy, cake, cookies, ice cream, and more chocolate. There is a possibility that I consumed whole sugar packets in restaurants on occasion. (Hanging my head in embarrassment here.)

Things have changed! For the better, I would like to think. No, I haven’t developed a sudden dislike for chocolate, but I rarely eat candy and other sweet baked goods these days. That is thanks in part to aging (good-bye teenage metabolism) and having a husband who dislikes sweets. I try not to keep too many in the house and only make a cake on special occasions because I usually end up eating the majority of it myself.

So…when you buy bags of candy for Easter and are having a hard time finishing it (and the leftover Christmas candy), what do you do? Make ice cream, of course!

I used a basic vanilla ice cream recipe that I found here. I chopped the candy in my little blender and added it in to the vanilla ice cream after it was done churning. Yum! There is no after picture because I had added just a touch of food coloring to try and make the ice cream a pale purple, but when I added the chopped candy, it got a bit grayish in color. Trust me, it is delicious despite the odd color!

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I used robin eggs and malt balls in my ice cream, but you could probably add pretty much any candy and have it turn out great! Do you still have leftover candy sitting around? What do you do with yours?

Book Report: Bringing Up Bébé

I have exciting news for you all!

 

I finished reading a book. And that is big news! When you have two toddlers, reading time pretty much only exists after they go down for the night. And then, often enough, if I start reading, I get interrupted by someone fussing for a fwa-fwa (pacifier, in their language). Or I have to catch up on ironing… That’s always a blast.

The book that I just read was, surprisingly, not fiction! It was a parenting book though. And a very well written, easy to read one, at that! The author, Pamela Druckerman, is an American who marries a man who is English and they live in France as they start a family.

(This post has been interrupted about twenty times already by me having to tell little rascals not to bang on the window. And that is why I needed to read the aforementioned book.)

The main things I gleaned from this book are that parents need to be in charge, not the children and that children need to be fed a wide variety of foods. So far my attempts at making any headway in these two ares with my children have come to naught. I currently have one child who gags and vomits when he tries anything new (even jellybeans) and the other little rascal doesn’t seem to recognize that no means, NO!

One of the first things pointed out in the book is that children need to learn to wait. Along with learning to wait, they are learning to deal with the frustration of waiting and not immediately receiving what they want. The author points out that French parents start this technique within the first few months of parenting by not running to their infant the instant he or she fusses. They call this The Pause.

Another important part of French parenting is the cadre or framework. Children are given a frame or set of rules but allowed freedom within it. They learn their limits and respect them. This requires firmness, but also mutual respect.

Children become accustomed to eating four meals a day at a very early age without needing snacks every hour on the hour. Meals are served in courses at the creche or day care that they attend. Fruits and vegetables are introduced early on. Children may need to try a certain food many times before starting to enjoy it. It should also be presented in a variety of ways to entice the child to try it.

We’ll see how my efforts in including these French parenting principles into my own parenting style goes. So far, I’ve been trying to sound more firm and not budge when I say no to something. I’ve also been using the word, wait, a lot more when my children are fussing for something. I’ve also started offering more variety of foods to my toddlers. The younger one is doing great! She’s been eating about twice as much as her big brother!

 

What has influenced the way you parent? Let me know if any of you have read this book and what you thought of it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lime Pie Cheesecake with Meringue

While browsing Pinterest for lime cheesecake recipes, I came across this recipe for Key Lime Pie Cheesecake from Will Cook For Smiles. It met my requirements of only having two packages of cream cheese, which was all I had picked up at Wally World. It also gave me an opportunity to use of the limes I had purchased and forgotten about for a week.

Now, the only problem is, I’m a novice baker. I’ve only made cheesecake a handful of times and have never attempted meringue, but who cares! I went for it. And I’ll have to admit, I was successful in the flavor department of things! In fact, I’m currently pigging out on a piece of it as I type. 🙂

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Fresh out of the oven!
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Layers of deliciousness
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The slice I’m currently eating!!
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A shot of the meringue. I think I overwhipped it. Oops!

This dessert is so rich that I can hardly get through a piece and go into a sugar coma aferwards! You have been warned.