Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Change Is Coming Our Way...

For the past 270 days I have been blogging daily and sharing my crafty, cooking and family with all of you. EVERYONE has been amazingly supportive and I have heard nothing but praise and kind words. ALL of you have been truly wonderful.

As you know we are often "hanging on by a thread" around here, but lately it seems that we are barely hanging on. After much thought I've decided to make a little change. Now please don't freak out! Last week Facebook changed their format and it seemed like the whole world was coming to an end. I know no one likes change, but sometimes change can be good.

So what are the changes you may ask. Just one. I have decided that I will not be blogging daily. Don't worry there will still be lots of crafty, cooking and family, just not every day. It really won't be much different but I know there are so many of you wonderful people that check in everyday and I always get so sad when my favorite blogs seem to dwindle away. I didn't want you to worry...we will not be dwindling!

Again, thank you so much for all your support! I have the best readers ever!!! You all are truly A-MAZ-ING!

Have a wonderful Wednesday and don't forget this week's challenge and giveaway! There is still plenty of time to enter!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pom-Pom Tutorial

As you know, last weekend Lo ran her very first race. We thought Noa was a little to young to participate in the running. Since we didn't want her to be left out, we crowned her the official race cheerleader. No cheerleader is complete without her own set of pom-poms. Not to worry! This Mama had a plan!

This was somewhat of a throwback project. I remember making these in Jr High and High School for various cheerleading camps and tryouts. They are super easy to make and as a bonus you can make them while watching TV and drinking wine...everyone wins!

Here's what you need:

  • tissue paper (I used three packages for the set. Each package had 9 sheets and cost me 97 cents at Walmart)
  • masking tape
  • scissors
  • pencil and ruler (optional)

First you need to open the tissue paper, divide it equally into two piles and lay the pieces on top of each other. You will need to decide which way you want to cut your pieces, down the long or short side of the paper. I like to cut along the long side because it makes nice fluffy pom-poms. Using your ruler and pencil make a line about 2 inches from the center crease on both sides. This will be the handle.

Using your ruler make cutting lines from the edge of the paper up to the line you just drew. My lines are the same width as my ruler-this just makes it super easy to measure.
Repeat on the other side of the paper.

Using your scissors, carefully cut along each line making sure to cut through all the sheets. Try your best to keep your stack in place.
Repeat on the other side.

Starting on one end of the paper, carefully roll up the paper as tightly as you can. Try not to let any of the cut strips get caught in the handle.

Secure the handle with your masking tape.

And now for the fun part! Gently separate the strips and crinkle them up. You want to make sure you don't have any strips sticking together. See how great they look after this step?!?!?
Repeat on the other side.

Follow the same steps for the other pom-pom. Once both are complete I like to throw them both in the dry on the lowest setting. It just gets them even fluffier!

See? Super easy! You can have lots of fun mixing different color combinations. I made these myself, but I definitely think Lo could make them with a little assistance...a perfect rainy day activity!

Thanks for checking in and happy cheering!!!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Make Over Your Monday-Take 2 (and a lil' giveaway)

Happy Monday everyone! We had a wet and rainy weekend, perfect for staying in your jammies all day while you sew and craft. Next week is spirit week at Lo's school. There's a different theme for each day and she's had me busy crafting her daily wardrobe. We'll do a big reveal at the end of the week. I really restrained myself and let her pick her outfit each...the results could be very interesting.

Last week's challenge was to make something fall-ish AND email a picture to me so I can share it with everyone. Did you make something? Did you forget the emailing me a picture part???

I'm extending the challenge another week and I'm sweetening the deal. Everyone who emails me ( a picture by midnight on Saturday October 1st will be entered to win a $20 Jo-Ann Fabrics gift certificate. All names will go in a bowl and drawn by one of our resident princesses on Sunday. The winner will be announced and all emailed projects will be posted on Monday morning.

All right so get crafting!!! Any project is eligible! Craft with the kids, make some fall cookies or cakes. The goal here is that we have a variety of projects to inspire and share.

Have a wonderful week and for goodness sake GO GET YOUR CRAFTY ON!!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Family Movie Night

Every few weeks we have "Family Movie Night" where we pull out the bed on the couch and bring all our pillows and blankets downstairs and watch a movie together as a family. Someone (usually me) falls asleep halfway through the movie and everyone always has a great time. Not only is it a great way to spend some quiet quality time as a family, but it also give the hubby and I a chance to share our favorite movies with the girls. Last month Lo and I watched The Wizard of Oz which was one of my favorites growing up. I think it's so sweet that she wants to know all about "when I was a little girl" and I love sharing all my memories with her!

Have a wonderful Sunday and I hope it is full of creating memories with the ones you love!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lo's First Race

Today was a BIG day for me Logan! She had her very first race! I'm not sure who was more excited, Lo or me! It was just so great to be sharing something I love doing with her! I hoping that running is going to be something she enjoys too and that we can run LOTS of races together.

Our day started VERY early! The whole family, despite the hubby's protesting, was up at 6AM! To expedite our morning I made everyone eggy sandwiches to eat in the car. Even though it was super early there were smiles all around!
The sun still wasn't up when we arrived at the worries our excitement was building and we skipped our way to the start!
We were VERY excited to have our friends join us today! I've recently recruited Amanda to running and  she's catching the "bug" too! She's already finished 5 mini-marathons in the past few years! Her son Caleb is the same age as Lo and today was his first race too!
We decided that NoJo was just a little too young, and WAY to feisty, to run today so she was the official cheerleader of the day.
She took her job very seriously!
The sun finally came out and it was time to line up.
So that no one would get lost on the 1-mile loop around the high school parking lot, we were lead by the race scooter.
I'm so very proud of Lo! She ran most of the way and really tried her best! We walked a little, but mostly ran and at times we even sprinted! Look how fast we were going!

One of the coolest parts of the race was that it ended where the 5K runners were lining up so as we crossed the finish line there was a HUGE group of people cheering us on!

Check us out! 13:28 which is 2 MINUTES FASTER than our training runs! WAY TO GO LO!!! (This picture makes me giggle a bit because as we cross the finish line I'm totally checking out our time.)
We did it!!!
The post-race festivities were just as fun as the race! We got to eat lots of yummy food while we cheered for the 10-mile and 5K finishers.

I'm always so amazed at how fast the winners are. The male 10-mile winner finished in under 54 minutes! That my friends is INSANE. It's about a 5:20 mile which is ridiculously fast, especially when you are running 10 miles. I actually saw him warming up before the race and totally called him as the winner because of what he was wearing. It was around 50 degrees and he had on a tank-top and tiny shorts. It's always the people with the least amount of clothing, despite the weather, that win. The men's 5K winner came in around 16 minutes. Again, super fast. The man that came in second actually ran the 1-mile race with his 8-year-old (who won and came in around an 8 minute mile-WOW!) and had enough time to do the 5K too! He finished around 17 minutes. (The top women came in around 22/23 minutes which isn't super fast and with a little more training I think I could totally win...competitive much???)

The overall consensus was that today was SUPER-DUPER FUN! I asked Lo if she would do a race and she said, "Of course, but ONLY if it's 1 mile...only 1 mile Mommy!" It's a deal! You know I'll be hunting down every 1-mile race in our area and working our way to our first 5K!

Thanks for checking in with us today! I really hope we inspired you to get out and run! The way to a healthy and active lifestyle can start with just one mile! As I told Lo while we were running, it doesn't matter if we win. What's important is that we got out there and did it!

I'm so very proud of her!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lo's "New" Chair

Last week I showed you Lo's new desk.

Today I'm revealing the chair.
Here's what it looked like before:

It got two coats of my favorite primer, Zinsser and then two coats of white paint I already had. Since I knew it was going to get banged-up anyway, I gave it a serious distressing. Once all the distressing was complete it got a coat of Annie Sloan's wax to seal everything. I love that wax!

A little bit of Mod Podge, a few pre-cut letters and instant personalization:
Her room is really starting to come together.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dollar-Bin Tray Up-cycling

I got this cute little tray from the dollar bin at Target last Easter. I've been holding onto it waiting to be inspired.
Finally inspiration hit! I thought it would be fun to try out my new Martha terra cotta paintable finish.
It comes in different colors, but I like that I can paint it whatever color I want. It goes on very easily. You just need to make sure you put on a thick coat to get a nice texture. Once it was dry I painted the tray with my Martha metallic finish in coffee. Since I was planning on lining the inside I only needed to paint the outside.
Since I didn't want it to scratch my "new" bedside table, I put felt protectors on each corner.
Lining the inside was super easy. First I cut a piece of card-stock the same size of the tray and my fabric slightly larger than the card-stock.
Using my iron, I folded the fabric over and pressed it flat.
Then I just used packing tape to attach the fabric to the card-stock (of course you could hot glue it, but the taped worked just fine).

Once everything was secure I put it inside the tray. I even used tape rolls to attached it to the tray.
LOVE it!
Personally I think it looks FAB-U-LOUS!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guest Blogger: The Hubby -- Volunteering in Tanzania Part 1 of 4

My hubby recently spent 18 days in Tanzania and because he is A-MAZ-ING he has agreed to share his story with all of you. Below you'll find part I of his story that he is posting on his company website. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for parts II, III and IV in the following weeks-K

Expectations - Volunteering in Tanzania Part 1 of 4
Unavoidably perspective altering. And that's a good thing.

That's how I've been summarizing my 16 days in Moshi/Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (18 days if you include travel time/delays). The entire mission trip was so positively mind-blowing that I've been back for one full week, and I'm still trying to wrap my head around the volume and contrast of the activities and events I was fortunate enough to experience. Like most things that seem daunting and overwhelming, it helps to take a step back and digest the big picture a little bit at a time; that's how I'm going to tell my story of Africa - in a 4-part series:

1. Expectations: pre-trip vs. a jam-packed TZ reality 
2. Cultural immersion: not a tourist and not on vacation 
3. Volunteerplacement...and other fun stuff! 
4. Now what?

There may be more, or other surprise editions that will consist mostly of pics & vids, but let's begin at the beginning and take things one part at a time...
Part 1:- Expectations: pre-trip vs. a jam-packed TZ reality

I'm sure you already have a general awareness of the background for these blogs, but I thought I'd give a quick reminder of why I'm writing in the first place: I, along with 6 other Lilly colleagues were extremely fortunate to be selected as the August Tanzania International Ambassador group for the Connecting Hearts Abroad program; a partnership between Eli Lilly and Company and Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS) to place groups of volunteers in countries that have a need. In total, 200 total Lilly employees applied and were selected to roll up their sleeves and become part of the community in 10 different countries, during 23 separate trips spanning the 2011 calendar year. You can learn more about Tanzania and the program {HERE}

With quite a bit of company and program knowledge at my fingertips beginning with the selection announcement in February, along with many words of wisdom from my family and the 1st group to visit Tanzania in April, I was more than prepared to lose myself in the Moshi community and give back anything I had to offer at my volunteer placement, right? Well, sort of...

Yes, I had a solid packing list, good idea of where we would be living, what we would be eating, and more local custom & basic Swahili tips/tricks than I knew what to do with; and I even mentally prepared for my volunteer placement teaching English to nursery school children at Magereza (school located within the Kilimanjaro Prison Compound - more on this in another post), but I was NOT prepared for how quickly I could fall in love with a country and its people, and how welcome I felt in just 2 short weeks. Nothing could have prepared me for being away from my wife and two princesses, but even they provided me with pictures and artwork galore to set my heart at ease. Even after being back in warm and friendly Indianapolis (i.e. the Moshi/Kilimanjaro USA Doppelganger), I find myself drifting into daydreams about Tanzania and all the people/children I met at least every 15-20 minutes...this can't be a productive way to spend time with my family and at my job here! Obviously, I'm still processing...

What was reality like living in the heart of Tanzania? Close your eyes and imagine this...well - don't really close your eyes b/c you'll have a hard time reading further, but imagine each day starting like this...

Alarm goes off @ 5:30am - every day (even on the weekends if you want to get breakfast and be ready to head out for the day's activities)
Struggle to untuck yourself from a dorm-style bunk bed fully enclosed by a self-wrapping mosquito net (don't want to get malaria while you're here)

Greet your roommates, or try to be quiet for your roommates depending on your room assignment situation (we all slept 3 or 4 to a room, which I hadn't done for a couple of decades)
Brush your teeth, but be sure not to use the tap water b/c it will make westerners sick             Take a shower...which may be warm, but is ice cold ~50% of the time due to frequent power outages throughout the night, which would have deactivated the hot water heater for the room

  • Decide what you'll wear for the day; which is MUCH easier than usual, for a few reasons:

  1. You've probably already worn it once...or twice...this week so it should be right on top of your clothes pile
  2. It WILL be dusty because everything in Tanzania is dusty, so just choose the least dusty thing
  3. Nobody cares what you wear...seriously, this is one of my favorite things about life in Tanzania-everyone is grateful for any/all clothing they have and very few people give it a second thought. Refreshing right?

  • Chow down on some chakula cha asabuhi (Swahili for breakfast) when the fabulous chefs ring the metal bell at 6:30am
  • Board the CCS vans sometime between 7/7:30am for a full day of cultural immersion that usually ended sometime between 5 and 10pm depending on what the day had in store for us.
...I'll stop there, b/c I think you may be getting the point...I've only typed out the 1st TWO HOURS of each day, and I'm already getting exhausted! It's a different existence than any of us westerners, or Europeans are used far! And I haven't even gotten into the clothes washing/ironing bit - whew!

I think it's time to tie up part 1 of my Tanzania experience recap, and start providing you with some pictures/videos of the above content for color. I'll continue with the life-in-the-day-play- by-play in future posts.

Landscape view of the CCS Karanga home base as taken from the balcony outside our bedroom window (please enjoy Mr. Jason Ryder's appearance as a Moshi "Where's Waldo" insert):
Completing our short-term-resident paperwork for the government; needed for our volunteer assignments (this area was also our daily breakfast/lunch/dinner venue):
One of Lilly roomies, Jason Ryder, preparing his mosquito/non-malaria net for the 1st night:
Heading to the CCS transport vans for the 1st time, on the 1st day (that's me in the middle w/the blue Billabong shirt & tan shorts):
Bottom line: I was so over-prepared for my trip prior to departing, that I was severely under-prepared for the magnitude of the penetrating, life-altering experience that lie ahead.

For parts 2-4 of this series, I'm looking forward to telling you stories of:

  • The Changga and Maasai tribes
  • Kilasiya Falls
  • Electricity, running water, and other such luxuries
  • A visit to a Moshi orphanage
  • Mount Kilimanjaro & the "big" city of Arusha
  • People I met, and consider new friends
  • Magereza & Eliroi Nursery Schools
  • WEECE and other women's shelters/centers
  • Running with Amani
  • CCS Karanga
  • Traditional Dance
  • Non-traditional Dance (including more Justin Bieber than you can imagine!)
  • and much, much more...