A Meal and A Lofty Craft Ambition

It seems as if my school days are more fast and furious each day!  Although I complain about it sometimes a lot, I do like being busy.  There is a fine line between completely overwhelmed and just putting in good work on a work day.  Teaching English/reading skills all day is good in a way as the skills and lessons can overlap somewhat being I’m working with third and fourth graders now.  It just cracks me up that NO YEAR is remotely the same as the last, and I laugh at the thought of being able to reuse/recycle lesson plans!  So not happening!

Today’s chillier temps and a busy day meant it was a soup and bread kind of dinner for us.  My favorite soup recipe is this…

-1 pkg frozen mixed veggies

-1 medium onion, chopped

-1 32 oz. container of chicken broth

-2 cans navy beans, rinsed and drained

-2 tbsp.-ish of olive oil

-salt & pepper

-2 bay leaves

  1. Soften chopped onions in olive oil in large stock pot for approximately ten minutes over medium/high heat.  Be careful not to burn.  I do this often!
  2. Add all other ingredients.  Bring to a boil and let boil for about five minutes.
  3. Reduce heat or turn off completely with lid on for about 15-20 minutes or whatever!
  4. Server with warm bread and butter (preferable that you let someone else bake for you!  Thanks Kroger!)

Ta-da!  Everyone LOVED it!  H especially liked dipping his bread in his soup.  I am reminded at every meal how thankful I am that H is a super good eater.  This recipe gave us dinner and three containers of left-overs for lunches.  Enjoy!  🙂

Now, my craft isn’t that easy!  I’ve always admired these peace sign wreaths…especially at Christmas time.  I would love to have one and discovered one to buy.  However, it was sadly more than ten bucks (like 5 times that much!), and I’m cheap.  Here’s the one at CB2!

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Then, there’s this DIY one…

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It doesn’t look super complicated.  I think the most challenging part may be gathering up the twigs!  Fortunately, I’m pretty sure I can wander around my parents house and find some that would work.  Hmmm…DIY is not my thing.  What should I do?  Buy, make or just admire via the internet?  🙂

Speaking of other Pinteresty wants – Look at this neat one!  It’s a fingerprint sweethearts necklace.  I LOVE personalized jewelry that is super meaningful.  What could be more personal than something as unique as a fingerprint of your love?!?

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More cute jewelry!  I love all these cross bracelets!  Unfortunately, the one I like the best {the white one} is sold out right now.

Could this post be anymore random???  Yes, it could.  I know when I’m not feeling my best or when things are challenging at work the people (and doggie) at home get the rest of me, sometimes not the best of me.  I saw this good reminder recently and thought I would share.

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Click here to get the free printable!

It can be hard to remember in the craziness and demands of the day, but I know ultimately that my husband, my child, my family have to be my priority over students, fulfilling roles outside these walls, etc.  Each day is another chance and another challenge.  Hopefully, this list inspires you like it inspires me.

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DIY: How to Stay Chill When Life Gets Tricky

Hi there!  This post is dedicated to my previous behaviors that were SO not chill.  I am admittedly a worry-wart, pessimist, negative Nelly, and generally “the sky is falling!” gal.  Over the course of the past month, I’ve been making some conscious efforts {more successful on some days than others} to up my “chill out” ability.  Now, this is practically fighting genetics!  Even though these things/actions that I’m going to list may seem simple or well-known, they are what have worked for me.  The trick is to actually DO IT.  🙂  Why do I want to chill out you may ask?  Well, the truth is that my natural tendencies can be very handy when there is an intense day at work or perhaps an issue happens at home, but I am pretty sure that it is not good to demonstrate these not-chill behaviors over a prolonged period of time aka life.

  • SLEEP – I’m trying to sleep more.  It’s a struggle.  I’m the type of person who gets excited about the next day or invested in a project when I should be in bed.  I’m aiming to be in bed by 9 each night.  This is really the best time for me as I plan on getting up about 5:15 each day once the school year starts.  I’ve also accomplished the ability to nap occasionally.  I think I may have taken 4 or so in the past month.  This is a record, people!  I’m usually too excited to get something done when H is sleeping/jumping on his bed in his room.
  • JOURNALING – I use my journal as a place to record Bible verses that really hit home with me.  I also use it as a place to record my worries, blessings, etc.  I think this is very helpful, but the key is to be brutally honest in your journal and just dump everything.
  • YOGA – I’ve made it a habit.  FINALLY!  I’ve been doing yoga almost every day but at least every other for about four weeks now.  I love all the breathing and flow of it.  I even purchased a membership to a local studio through Groupon to really help me make sure I’m practicing some of the moves correctly.  My strength training has taken a back seat to yoga. Who would have thought it?  It has been very helpful for my achy shoulder that is still in recovery mode.
  • MEDITATION – This one is tricky.  I’ve been doing a few of theses ranging in time from five minutes to fifteen minutes.  Some days go better than others.  I would say I’ve been doing this about three times a week.  YouTube is my source for different ones.
  • RELAX EXPECTATIONS – I’ve really tried not to set myself up for failure {i.e. a to-do list a mile long} or put myself in negative situations.  I think as women we have a tendency to have ridiculously high expectations of ourselves AND overextend ourselves.  The end result is tragic and ultimately destructive.  I’ve tried to make conscious choices about setting a relaxed pace for the day {thank you summer vacation for the possibility!} and remove myself when things/people are a bit too much.
  • SWIMMING – I’ve really enjoyed swimming this summer.  I’ve been swimming everywhere!  In the bay, in the ocean, the gym’s pool, friend’s pool, mother-in-love’s pool…anywhere there is a pool!  It’s so peaceful.  If you have a chance to swim and some goggles, my favorite thing to do is lay on my back under the water and look up.  Everything is quiet, and the world seems far away.  You can let an air bubble or two trickle out just to watch them float up to the surface.  So relaxing!
  • DRINK HOT BEVERAGES – I quit coffee, but I’ve replaced it with tea and/or hot water with lemon and honey.  I like to have it twice a day or shoot…maybe three times!
  • GET SOME SUNSHINE – I’ve been going outside without sunscreen!  Don’t tell my dermatologist, but I’ve been taking morning walks or afternoon walks without sunscreen to get some Vitamin D.  Great facts about how good it is for you!  P.S.  H only skips the sunscreen if it’s pretty early in the AM.
  • TALK LESS – Try to talk about your worries less {this is when you could use that journal!}.  Focusing too much time on worries/complaints is a major bad habit of mine.  Instead, spend an allotted time thinking/praying about them, and move on!  Give those negative thoughts less “air time” in your brain.

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Preschooler Art Time – Can be Your Chill Time too!

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Well-Spent Time

Today will go down in my personal mind records as possibly the busiest Monday ever!  Good thing I had a wonderful, relaxing weekend!

Friday was Holden’s official last visit to his preschool as a student.  We will be making a big transition from our home daycare/2 day a week church preschool to a preschool/daycare center.  I’m excited about it for Holden.  I truly think he will love it!  BUT…we absolutely love our daycare provider and will greatly miss her {as I’m sure Holden will}.  Check out my big boy!

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May 2015

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September 2014

We went to Kid’s Cove at Mt. Trashmore {yes, that is its real name – park built on trash!} on Saturday morning for a walk and some play.  The Mr. had just about if not more fun than Holden.

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Roscoe was so not loving the higher humidity and temperature.

On Sunday, H and I went to church after a morning walk and some park play time.  You know you take your park time serious if you’re there before 9 on a Sunday morning.  #winning  #alltheswingswerefree  Here we are at church.  Gotta take a selfie!  🙂

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I followed up my big day of work {not at all} with some front porch sitting and reading.  I’m slowly but surely working on my big giant novel.  Roscoe was my buddy!

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We made a little “Countdown to Summer” chain on Sunday afternoon before our neighbors and their two daughters came over for dinner.  We had yummy food that was SIMPLE to prepare.  The best kind!  It was pretty healthy too.  I made this rice salad instead of my pasta salad.  It’s gluten free!  I didn’t use the tuna, and I absolutely loved it!  The Mr. was iffy on it.

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We had a great time and ended up chatting quite a bit past H’s bedtime.  We are so enjoying our newish {we moved in June 2014} neighborhood/home for many reasons, but our nice neighbors are an added perk.

After work today, H and I took advantage of the windy day and made kites.  We got our directions via Highlights magazine.  Holden loves to pull out the recipes and craft ideas.  Thank you, Granny, for our subscription!

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Holden also practiced his cutting skills.  He really, really, really loves to cut.  I’m dreading the day he cuts his hair.  I know it’s coming.

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Such a fun weekend followed by a busy Monday!  I’m so blessed to get to come home and construct our flying machines, aka kits, with this dude.  Have a great week!

Natalie

Plants and Play

Wow, Tuesday has come and gone.  Another hot, humid, jungle-like day here!  I’m SO not complaining though.  I secretly don’t mind the weather.  I feel like I should agree with all the summer weather naysayers, but I really love the warm temps.  I freeze all fall, winter, and spring.  This weather is heavenly!  I actually don’t even mind running in it as long as I can do it in the early morning or late evening.

I started off my day sort of on the wrong foot after a wardrobe malfunction forced me to gobble down my breakfast while driving.  I know, so not a safer choice!  I took two slices of the strawberry bread that I wrote about here yesterday plus the leftovers of an almond butter jar which I ate with a mini spatula.  Very, very organized AND classy!

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The day did improve, and I cheated on my tea habit at Wawa with a mostly decaf coffee {only a quick shot of the regular stuff} followed by a bit of vanilla creamer.  Today was super hectic at work with more testing and just general end of the year keep-the-students-motivated-and-productive stuff.

When I got home with H, we found these little ones poking through the dirt for us to see!

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Here’s H’s lovely sunflower plant going strong…

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Yay!  Now, I know better to count my chickens before they’re hatched, but I THINK we are looking pretty good so far!

We spent some time practicing our cutting skills with some construction paper and ribbon.  Then, we unearthed the outdoor toys from last summer.  H very quickly set about unpacking them.

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I love having a screen door that I can keep open and let him play.  He also got into some water play with a ladle and measuring cup.  Whew!  It doesn’t seem like it is a lot of time from the time we get home to the time the daddy gets home but WOW…we did a lot in about an hour and a half!

We have tons of fun doing just whatever in the afternoons.  I would like to liven it up a little bit.  Here are a few ideas that I’m thinking about…

name recognition

Image and Idea Via Munchkins and Moms

Holden loves to talk about “his letter,” letter H.  I think he would be totally okay with learning “his other letters.”  I love the idea above, because it incorporates a real picture to make it more fun/applicable.  Plus, the clothes pins are good for increasing fine motor skills and strength.

Letter-Soup

Image and Idea Via Childhood 101

H already loves water play.  I think he would love to find letters in the “soup” or perhaps go fishing.

Finally, here is a simple {already have all the items!} idea for a Memorial Day theme craft.

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Image and Idea Via Crafty Morning

Easy, peasy!

How do you celebrate Memorial Day?

I think the meaning is sometimes lost, and we just look at it as another day.  Living and working in this area has certainly changed my outlook.  Virginia Beach is a part of the Hampton Roads community.  This community has a very large military population.  Many of my students have a parent or parents who serve in the military.  Many more can recite relatives who have served in the past.  Try to pause while you’re grilling, beaching, or just relaxing on Monday and remember/be thankful for those who have given so much for you and I.  Just a little food for thought!

Happy {almost} hump day!

Natalie

5 for Friday

Hi there!  Happy Almost Weekend!  I feel like I’ve been on a permanent vacation.  Schools have been open here only two days in the past two weeks!  While trying to make the best of our snowy/icy days, I’ve resorted to lots of Pinterest-ing, cooking, crafts, and {today’s plan} cleaning.

Yesterday, we woke up to more winter weather about several inches of the snow kind.  The Mr.’s offices were closed, so we got to hang out with him {major fist pump!}.  When Daddy’s home, it means the gas logs on which makes me one happy girl.  🙂

{ONE}

The Mr. built a killer snowman for a workout yesterday.  Holden helped decorate him with some household items including a ‘coon skin hat of the faux little boy variety.  They also went over the neighbor’s hill to sled while I stayed inside and did an at-home mainly cardio workout.

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found via Pinterest from popsugar

Glad I did that workout!  I definitely enjoyed two glasses of Rex Goliath cab sauv wine after dinner last night!

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{TWO}

I also finished this book yesterday.

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A little dated and somewhat centered on homeschool moms/stay-at-home moms, but I really liked it.  She made the effort to put in some applications for today’s {usually} working mom but really drove home the point of how our children need actual “homes” as a haven from their everyday lives.  I also loved how she touched on the importance of creating a home for ourselves.  Very good “big picture” message.

{THREE}

Love these mittens!  I have concluded after this winter blast that neither H nor I have the correct winter gear.  These mittens would be the perfect addition.  Perhaps even wear gloves underneath to layer??

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Photos from Website – See Here

Best of all, Minnesota Mittens provide opportunities for employment of people with disabilities.  Made in America!

{FOUR}

Another Pinterest project…  H and I got supplies at Hobby Lobby, and I taped off his name {twice due to poor quality painter’s tape the first go-round}.  He picked green and blue as his colors.  We painted before breakfast yesterday…take our crafting serious around here!  Then, the Mr. ever so carefully pulled the tape off around lunch time.  The finished work is hanging on his wall.

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{FIVE}

March goals!  I’m trying to be more intentional {is that possible?} with my time and plans.  I’m for sure a planner, but do what you love, right!?!?  I did add read 2 books to this list.

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I have a gift certificate that will mostly cover a massage and a hair cut at my local salon.  Why, oh why do I keep putting it off?  I am so weird!  I also have a nice gift certificate to go clothes shopping from the Mr. that I have yet to use.  Maybe I should have included that as a goal, too?  The Chrysler Museum is a local art museum that is totally free.  I really want to take Holden for maybe just a portion of it.  Recommendations that I’ve found online say to start with the ancient civilizations exhibit and then meander into a kids’ craft area.

In other snow day news, we decided to brave the elements for a ride out yesterday.  We made our way down to the oceanfront, and I took these pictures.

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Somebody couldn’t wait until we got home to get some shut eye!  Top picture is another future hotel site.

We invited our neighbors over last night for BBQ chicken sandwiches, Caesar salad, chips, sweet potato fries, and key lime bars.  Very yummy and so not our usual Thursday night fare!  See BBQ chicken recipe here from Rachel Ray.  Key lime bar recipe was courtesy of Mix and Match Mama.  I don’t typically cook the “full flavor” sugar and butter, but it was a nice treat.  I packed up {most} of the left-over bars and sent them for work treats for the Mr.’s office today.  It was so nice to have time to get together with people we see everyday but are typically “too busy” to talk with.  Love God Greatly is an online women’s Bible study group whose current study focuses on how we {human beings} were made for community and our relationships with each other.  I highly recommend any and all of their Bible studies.  They typically do about an 8 week study with a couple weeks of in between the new and the old.  Check them out!

Happy Weekend!

Natalie

Snow Day No School Day

Happy Hump Day!  I’m happy to be typing in my yoga pants with lovely pigtail braids being my hair style of choice today.  I think I could happily live without all the trappings required for “professional life” as a teacher.  I most assuredly am not cut out for corporate America.   I do always make sure to brush teeth, put on real clothes {although I may change back in to PJs ridiculously early in the day}, and at least “put my hair up.”  Anywho, H and I have been home today for day 2 of snow storm 2015.  The Mr. went off to work today while we snuggled up with breakfast and books.  We relaxed most the day until beginning the thirty minute long process of getting ready to go outside.  We took a walk, slipped and skidded around on the ice, shoveled a bit of snow, and just generally took in the scene.  The Mr. joined us for a leftover lunch of potatoes, carrots, and hot open-faced venison sandwiches made from last night’s roast.  I added some cornstarch to make nice gravy and topped the sandwiches with parmesan cheese.  Not too bad.  I enjoyed mine without bread on a bed of spinach plus some popcorn.  I spared those calories to use them up later in cookies and snow cream leftovers! Ha!

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Please excuse the snot in a couple of these pictures.  It is never-ending, and I blame his father for his constantly drippy nose.  Genetics.

H requested “warm chocolate” when we were outside shoveling snow {aka he was inspecting the yard in pursuit of more icicles}.  It’s your lucky day kid.  Warm chocolate coming right up…followed by 3 big boy jigsaw style puzzles.  So grown up!

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I used Ghirardelli’s Double Chocolate.  I think he liked it.  How about you?

After our lunch and one dessert in the form of snow cream, I decided to bake up some cookies with H.  We had minimal ingredients, so I searched the pantry and came up with cranberries and raisins.  Not much of either.  I combined them and roughly followed this recipe by Chocolate-Covered Katie.  I was skeptical since there wasn’t a lot of oily substance.  Confession:  I used 1 tbsp  butter!  They were delish!  I ate an embarrassing amount AFTER H went down for a nap.  More for me = more I eat.  Whoops!  I figured these will count as my afternoon snack with the addition of some peanut butter.  Of course, peanut butter!  Seriously, how many times a day do you eat this stuff?  I’m not picky…almond butter works too!

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Very moist inside the cookies and definitely sweet enough.  I will definitely do this recipe again with some tweaking of the add-ins.

Here are a few random midweek musings to leave you with today…

a Fit Tuesday {not Fat Tuesday!} workout with a Mardi Gras theme that I did yesterday

an easy to grow houseplant that even I may attempt {successfully?}

cute cookie cutter bird feeders – H would love it!

name soup – scoop the letters in your name – AGAIN, H would love it!

Have a great day!

Natalie

Semi-homemade Valentines for Preschool

Hi there!  I’m personally so glad that today is Monday.  I’ve been having a case of the Mondays ever week.  I am cranky, irritable, and just plain miserable.  What is this about?!?!  I know everyone says Mondays are the worst, but I didn’t really think so until recently.  Usually, Friday was my day to fall apart {blaming it on tiredness from the work week!}.  No more!  Avoid me on Mondays!  Anyways, I’m happy to report…it’s no longer Monday!   The spell has been broken, and I’m looking forward to a better day.  🙂

Last night, I made a new dinner recipe that really put the icing on the cake of a challenging day.  Now, I admit I didn’t follow the recipe EXACTLY {which might have been my problem!}.  However, I was pretty close.  The recipe totally flopped in appearance, was decent in tasted, but {and worst of all} wrecked the kitchen.  I mean, pots and pans everywhere.  Burnt on food on my stainless steel skillet.  Another mixing bowl, another mess.  Good gracious!  This was a healthy recipe, but I totally understand why people don’t want to cook “healthy!”  I found the recipe on Pinterest, and it looked oh-so-easy.  Lies!  It did, however, give  me the idea to share with you my top 5 go-to healthy dinner recipes.  I’ll be sharing them on Friday.  Just a little tease…  😉

In other news, I wrapped up some Valentines work last night.  Well, I say wrapped up.  By that comment, I mean Holden’s friends are done.  I’m still working on some family treats plus treats for my students.  I’ll share those later in the week.  Pictured below are Mott’s applesauce to-go snacks with H’s little card on top.

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I found the template for the actual Valentine through Pinterest.  When I clicked on the photo, it took me to this website where I was able to download and print.  Thank you Funny Polkadot Giraffe!

I just printed, cut out little red construction paper circles, glued two pieces together, and then taped on the Valentine tag.  DONE.

Although I did most the work with these, H has been helping me get his family Valentines straight.  He did the painting and selecting who will get which one.  We just have to have him sign his “H” to each before sending them out.

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Clearly, he is a paint genius.  Ha!  Having a kid is usually fun but especially so on these holidays!

Have a great Tuesday.

Natalie