Friday, November 5, 2010

50 Days...

...until Christmas.


When I saw that on another blog today, I nearly peed my pants or had a nervous breakdown or something like that. So much to little time. Every year, I vow that "This year will be different" or "I'm going to make more time for really enjoying the holiday season" and it seems that every year is pretty much enjoyable with a touch of insanity. I have to admit that we, as women, tend to bring a lot of the insanity on ourselves by trying to create the picture perfect Christmas we see in magazines and on tv. The reality is that it's insane.

And so, as we enter into this most insane time of the year, I highly recommend some great encouraging friends, a nice hot cup of coffee, a warm fire and this.

When I posted about my Christmas Planning Binder last JANUARY, I know you all thought I was a bit off my rocker. But, I'm tellin' ya that it saves me every single time the countdown begins!

The address book is updated. The Christmas card labels are printed. The gift list is filling up. And I feel my blood pressure every so slowly returning to normal...if there is such a thing during November and December! Ha!

So, we want to know what keeps you somewhat sane during the Christmas season. Do you keep a handy binder like this? Do you wing it? What's your sanity keeping secret? We'd love to hear about it!

"What can I say, except it's Christmas and we're all in misery."
Ellen Griswold (Christmas Vacation)


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Too Cute TuTu

My darling niece turned a big whopping year old on Saturday! I could go crazy with "where has the time gone?" and "she's growing up so fast", but I'll spare you the auntie insanity :) Instead, I'll choose to focus on how absolutely adorable she was at her little party!

My sister-in-law asked me a while back to work on an outfit for her to wear. After she chose a pink and brown theme for the party, I went to work creating a onesie and matching tutu for her big day. I'd been wanting to try my hand at a no-sew tutu for a while, after having tried the sew-able versions before. No-sew has to be easier, right? Well, you better believe it was easier! I wish I could say that I came up with this concept on my own, because it's so darn simple, but I must give the credit to the millions of hits on when doing a search for "no sew tutu tuorial". I used this video as a tutorial, but there are tons more available. No, it's not my original idea, but I CAN offer this piece of advice. In the video, the lady suggests that you buy your tulle off the bolt. Well, Wal-Mart (and a variety of other stores) sell tulle by the spool in the wedding section. All you have to do is unroll a portion of the spool at a time and cut little strips. It's SOOO much easier than having to wrangle bolts of tulle.

This is a perfect craft for the upcoming Christmas season or for your birthday girl. And if you're going for a themed party, they're easy enough to make as favors for all the little guests. Your little sweethearts will love them...but don't take my word for it. Let the birthday girl speak for herself :)

(Shameless plug: These onesies are now available over at the improved Whatta Cute Baby! site. Mention Three Simple Girls when you order (through December 31, 2010) and you'll get free shipping on this item!)


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Traveling Tips

Last year we made treat bags for our nephews and niece. Remember? If you're anything like us, you rotate your travels. That means this season we'll be on the road some... with three kids, three and under and several hours stretched out ahead of us... well, let's just say, we have ourselves some plans.

Usually we like to leave before the crack of dawn to ensure maximum amount of sleepy time. Kids still in their pjs, little traffic on the road, plenty of coffee for us grown-ups. Our latest travel didn't allow for such, though, since our oldest had preschool on the day of travel. That's when the plans come in handy.

First up, the Easy Lunch Boxes. I can't help it... I love them!
The peas and strawberries are frozen, but by the time we wanted to eat they were defrosted and ready to go... plus, you can get organic produce SO much cheaper by buying it frozen! If you want to keep your yogurt cold, add some of that frozen fruit to it... someone taught me that great tip and it works like a charm. And don't let the pinch of powdered sugar fool you even though it makes my kids feel like they're getting something quite special. That is one packed muffin... I experimented with spelt flour, applesauce, sweet potato puree, and raisins. Mmm... recipe to come!

The other thing we sometimes do is "Treat Hour." I take along a little dry erase strip or small chalkboard. At the beginning of each hour the kids get three stars or smiley faces or whatever we want to draw. At the end of the hour if they have at least one "thing" left, then they get a treat out of the bag. Here are some examples from our latest travel:

The trip is normally between six and seven hours, but I keep the entire box of lollipops in there just in case it takes longer. Between, I don't know, poops or spit ups or feeding or potty stops or... you get the picture of why we might need a back up to the back up plan. :) The other things include dollar store items like mini eye-spy books, activity pads in their favorite character, snack bags, candy rings, and a coupon for a smoothie stop. I try to pick out of the ordinary things that can keep them occupied for a good chunk of the hour ahead. The less kids are bored, the better!

We also like to keep a ready supply of other entertainment... music, Bible stories and other books on tape or CD (hitting up the library before hand is great for new titles), etc. Water bottles, favorite blankets and stuffed animals, and a few books per child are other things we make the most of (preferably titles they haven't read in a while or a couple of new books from the library).

Any successful traveling tips you use? We'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How a Birthday Party is Born

So this is yet another reason why I like to come up with birthday party themes far in advance. On my way into the grocery store this morning I noticed a 90% off sale on some summer items.

After digging through the pile I came away with this:
$100 worth of goodies for... $10*!!

I had already decided that my summer babe would have some sort of ice-cream shin dig this coming year because I found the cutest banner and napkins at Michael's on clearance. Add these fun things above... 2 slip and slides, 5 beach balls, 2 kiddy pools, ice-cream shaped sidewalk chalk, beach toys, bubble blowing accessories, etc... and we've got ourselves a "Fun in the Sun" party. Come July we'll make a big tub of homemade ice-cream with toppings, and I think we'll come in at $25 or less! Not to mention, some of the items in that pile are stocking stuffers and Easter basket items.

I do so love myself a good deal.

* At the "Dollar General" for those of you who might also have access to the savings!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Treat or Treat

My new favorite pumpkin cupcake recipe. The household favorite, I should say, seeing as how I finally had to hide the batter and the finished products from our soon-to-be whiskered trio of girls.

2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup Sugar in the Raw or regular sugar
2 sticks butter- softened
4 eggs
1 can of pumpkin- 15 oz.
Optional: handful (or two or three) of chocolate chips

Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients except pumpkin. Mix dry and wet together, then fold in the pumpkin and chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 min. Makes about two dozen.

And you do know this trick, don't you? Fill a plastic baggy with icing, snip off a tiny bit at the end... your very own piping bag! You know, so you can top those cupcakes with cream cheese or chocolate frosting.
Of course, you need something to wash it down with. Something pumpkiny at that. Here's another treat you can share with the kiddos because, despite its name, it has no caffeine or coffee in it.

Pumpkin Latte:
1/2 cup pumpkin
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. (or more) pure maple syrup
1 1/2 cups ice
Optional: 1-2 tbsp. natural sugar if the above isn't sweet enough for you

Blend together and serve... with a dollop of whipped cream should you want pumpkin pie in a cup!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin Pizza

I am a fan of all things pumpkiny in taste... but perhaps pizza is taking it a little too far?? :)

Still if we can't put pumpkin in it, surely we make it into a pumpkin. Our girls thought it was a fun idea for a Friday family night.

Collect a few simple ingredients... pre-made or homemade pizza dough (we used the whole wheat kind from Trader Joes), sauce, pepperoni cut into semi-circles and triangles, and sliced olives.
Oh and, mercy, cheese is missing from this picture. The horror! Of course, you need cheese. Melted until bubbly, delicious cheese.

Sprinkle a little flour on your surface and roll out the dough. Use a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter to make your jack-o-lantern outlines. Top with sauce and cheese... then pepperoni eyes and mouths.
Bake for about 15 minutes until dough is firm and cheese melted. Dressing up and peering through the oven door optional.


While on the subject of eating, my eldest daughter started pre-school this year. We searched around for a fun and practical lunch system, and I was so glad to stumble upon Easy Lunch Boxes! I love the compartments, the cut down on waste, the fact that it comes with four boxes making it great for family picnics, the BPA freeness, the dishwasher safeness... AWESOME! Makes packing a lunch pretty fun, I must admit. Even end of the month, gotta get to the store leftovers!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No More Streaking!!!

While I'm a firm supporter of clothing at all appropriate times, take heart...this post has nothing to do with THAT kind of streaking :)

With the cool weather coming in rather quickly this year, it's time to start spending parts of the mornings and afternoons with the windows and doors open. There's really nothing like cool, crisp fall air filling your home! This time of year is a reminder to me to clean the windows. (I would be the one to associate a cleaning task to this time of year!) Is there anyone who actually enjoys cleaning windows? Probably not, not even me. However, there is a certain sense of satisfaction that comes from standing back and looking at a spotless pane...even if it's a pain to get it done. And while clean glass is certainly satisfying, hard work and elbow grease that only produces nasty streaks is less than awesome. Then, you have to figure out which side is streaking and wash it again, which usually results in washing both sides again and total exhaustion before you're finished with the first window. Anybody feelin' me here?

First, let me say that I don't have a favorite cleaner or mixture to use that yields a streak-free window. Some people swear by foams or homemade mixtures or a good solid name brand. I, however, have found that any cleaner, even water, paired with a really good microfiber cloth works wonders. I use 2 for washing and one for drying.

Cleaner talk aside, this oh-so-simple tip has saved me many times in this window washing woe. Wipe the window in one direction on the outside and in another direction on the inside. For example, I generally wipe top to bottom/bottom to top on the outside windows and left to right/right to left on the inside. If you do this, and the window streaks, you'll be able to tell which side the streaks are on in a flash! No need for washing and rewashing until you get it right. One more tip for making a not so fun task a little easier. Now, open those windows and let the sunshine in!

Related Posts with Thumbnails