11.29.2012

A DIY Project: Candy Leis




My daughter just had her end-of-season cheer competition and it’s a tradition to give the girls a candy lei at the end of the competition day. I decided to make my daughter’s lei this year and she chose a pink and black Hello Kitty-themed candy lei with white feather marabou. It was not difficult to do and you only need a few simple supplies. Here’s what you will need to get started:

Supply List:
Cellophane wrapping paper (clear wrapping paper)
Curly ribbon
Scissors
A few different ribbons to go with your color theme
Feather Marabou Boa (3-6 feet long)
Candy (you can use assorted candy in bags or I found that Party City and Michaels has a large selection of candy in different colors that you can purchase individually to go with your color scheme)

Instructions:
1. Figure out the length you want to make your lei.  Measure around the neck of the person that will be wearing it (I used some of the ribbon I have to do this or you can use a seamstress measuring tape).

2. Now cut out a piece of cellophane in the same length you want your leiI made my six year-old daughter's lei 40 inches long by 12 inches wide.

3. Lay out your candy on the edge of the cellophane.  Place the candy roughly 3-4 inches apart from each other, allowing some extra space for gathering points.

4. Roll the candy in the cellophane.  Starting with the side the candy is on, roll the candy so it’s completely covered by cellophane.


5. Gather between candies and tie with a piece of curly ribbon.  I pre-cut (12) 12-inch pieces of curly ribbon to make the tying task easier.

6. Add the extra fun ribbon to each gathering point.  At this time, I used my scissors to curl the curling ribbon and then I cut 6-inch pieces of the decorative ribbon and tied it on top of the curly ribbon. I put 2-3 extra ribbons at each gathering point. {I wanted the lei to be extra colorful!}

7. Add the feather marabou.  At every gathering point, tie a 5-inch piece of feather marabou.


The next time you have a gymnastics meet or soccer playoff, don’t forget to make your child a candy lei in their favorite color or team colors. Life is sweet… candy lei’s make it sweeter!!

11.26.2012

A Guest Post: Tara Cole on “Homeschooling Do’s & Don’ts”


I am always amazed and impressed by homeschooling mothers, undoubtedly because I know it’s something I would have a hard time doing. I often ask my good friend and neighbor, Tara Cole, “How do you do it?” She has been homeschooling for four years and has learned a lot. I have asked her to share her wisdom with you and to tell a little about her personal homeschooling adventure.  I hope you enjoy!
__________________

Those Crazy Homeschoolers

So when you envision homeschooling, what do you picture? A number of kids delightedly lined up in a seamless row quietly doing their lessons while light classical music willows in the background? Or maybe PJ clad kids running amuck throughout the house while mom tries to corral them for a moment of teaching or a begrudged attempt at hair brushing? I would say either could be our family depending on the day. But most days we land somewhere in between.

I chose to homeschool for numerous reasons, but now I am a sold-out, convinced, fanatical advocate happy to encourage others in the marvelous venture of homeschooling.  We just embarked upon our 4th year. So how did an exceptionally regular mom get started and just what does it look like?

On a field trip to see the mummies
Firstly, I was mentored. I found a mom with four amazing kids, older than mine, and readily imparted as much wisdom as I could from her. She generously shared the curriculum that worked for their family and we ended up using much of the same to this day.

Secondly, I got plugged into a support group called Christian Family Schools of Carlsbad: www.cfscarlsbad.org. They offer a myriad of things such as co-op, field trips, P.E., park days, a yearbook, family events, prayer groups, Bible study, book clubs, mom’s night out, and more. Moreover I went to a couple of homeschool conferences to get inspired and to see, touch, feel and smell the countless curriculum options.

I possess no teaching background. Although I’ve heard from my trained counterparts that teaching experience can actually be a hindrance! I don’t try to do “school” at home. I simply educate my kids. I am a self-pronounced fanatical list-checker so I have gathered curriculum that allows me to check off our work each day.  This year I even opted to use www.homeschooltracker.com. It is an online program that allows you to track progress and print out weekly checklists for your kids. I couldn’t be more pleased with how it keeps us on track and impresses the kids to take accountability for their work.

Crazy Hair Day
I am flexible. I discovered that being readily open to change allows me to freely enjoy our school days. Some days we miraculously finish by lunchtime and others we industriously persist until 4pm.  Likewise, what worked beautifully for one child may not for the next, nor from one year to the next. Life brings unpredictable changes and it is ok to adjust accordingly. We don’t let distractions become a deterrent. Life is full of them!

I keep it simple. We began doing school out of a basket in our kitchen/family room area. Now we have a proper “schoolroom” (if you count desks in our bonus room next to my exercise equipment and theater setup), but I still find the kids merrily working on the couch much of the time.

Family trip to Hawaii
We have both good days and bad. But the good nearly always outweigh the bad (I’ve only “quit” twice!). Our family enjoys a unity and bond unlike ever before when I endlessly ran three kids in three different directions (and think – now we are up to four kids!). We plan to shamelessly homeschool through high school (yes I know we are crazy, I relish the countless quizzical looks). But we are excited to raise freethinkers and change-makers. And where I plainly fall short, I am exceedingly confident the Lord will fill in the gaps of this exceptionally regular mom. :)

11.22.2012

Top Toys for Christmas 2012


If you are like me and need help with Christmas gift ideas for the kiddos, you have come to the right place. I am a list girl, so this year I have compiled three different Top 10 Toys for Christmas 2012 for each one of my children.  Before you brave the busiest shopping day of the year, “Black Friday” (day after Thanksgiving), take along my list of Top Toys for 2012 for 10 year-old boys, 6 year-old girls and 1 year- old baby girls.  My list is mother-selected and kid-approved:  

6 Year-Old Girls






 6.   LEGO Friends Emma Horse Trailer 







1 Year-Old Girls

9.   Alex Bop & Roll 




10 Year-Old Boys



Happy Shopping!!!

11.20.2012

Totally Turkey Lurkey – Thanksgiving Turkey 101



My husband’s family celebrated Thanksgiving early this year, and we (the women in the family), decided on who would bring what; I chose to bring the Turkey Lurkey!! This is the second time I’ve made Thanksgiving turkey using the William Sonoma brine and an herb butter recipe. I am happy to say, it turned out great and was pretty easy!

This year we had eight guests so I decided on a 14 pound turkey (last year we had a 22 pound Turkey). You should average one pound per person, or if you want leftovers, 1 ¼ pound per person. I think a fresh turkey is always best, but frozen will work too. {Make sure you allow yourself a few days in the fridge to defrost the bird before it’s time to roast it if you purchase a frozen bird.} This year I used a fresh Zackey Farms Young Turkey.

To begin, I used a jar of the William Sonoma Turkey Brine. I followed the directions for making the brine on the back of the container. While the brine was cooking I prepared my bird. I removed the giblets and washed them under the faucet before I placed them in a Ziplock bag. I then put the giblets in the freezer until the big day to use in the gravy. Once the giblets are removed, I rinsed the turkey under cool water and pat it dry with paper towels and placed it in a large plastic bag. This year I used a 2 gallon Ziplock bag, but last year with my bigger turkey I used a 5 gallon bag. Cover turkey completely with your brine.

Follow the recipe for the brine and then add it to the turkey in the Ziplock bag. I always double bag my turkey and then I also place the turkey in a large kitchen plastic trash bag just to ensure no leaks in the refrigerator. The turkey brine recipe requires that you brine for 12-36 hours prior to baking; I always brine for 36 hours.

Once you have brined your bird, remove it from the bag and thoroughly rinse it and pat dry with paper towels. I place my bird breast up on a poultry rack in a disposable turkey roasting tin. Preheat the oven on “Convection Bake” at 375 degrees.

HERB BUTTER RUB RECIPE:

Ingredients:
1 cup room temperature butter (2 sticks)
One large handful of each fresh herb: basil, thyme, chives, rosemary, sage
2 garlic cloves
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
1. Finely chop all the herbs and garlic.
2. Mix herbs and garlic into the room temperature butter.
3. Add about 8 twists of pepper from your pepper mill( ¼ teaspoon of pepper).
4. Add a healthy pinch of sea salt(1 teaspoon of salt).

Note: You can make the herb butter a day or two ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.  Make sure you take it out of the refrigerator two hours prior to using it, to bring it back to room temperature for easy spreading.


Quarter one white onion in large pieces, chop 4 stalks of celery and place them inside the turkey cavity. Add to the cavity a handful of fresh Italian parsley and one handful of fresh Thyme. With clean hands, start to gently separate the skin of the turkey from the breast meat. Start at the cavity and work your way towards the neck. When you have separated the skin on both breasts, take half the amount (1/2 cup) of the herb butter and evenly distribute it under the skin and on top of the breast meat. Now take the remaining herb butter and generously coat the rest of the outside of the bird.


Time to bake! Cover the bird with foil and make sure to cover the wings well (they burn pretty easily).  Place the bird on the bottom rack of your oven and close the door.

I convection baked my bird for two hours and then I used an instant read thermometer to check the turkey’s temperature. I placed the thermometer in between the upper part of the leg and the middle of the breast. The temperature read 120 degrees; a turkey is done when it reaches 165 degrees. I then cooked my bird, uncovered(remove the foil), for 20 minutes to brown the top. When the 20 minutes was up, I recovered my turkey with the same aluminum foil and changed my oven setting to bake at 350 degrees. My 14 pound turkey took 3 hours and 15 minutes to get to 165 degrees.

I removed my turkey from the oven and thoroughly wrapped the entire turkey in aluminum foil and secured the foil under the ridge of the disposable roasting pan to make sure no heat would escape. Next, I took two large dish towels and laid them over the bird.

Now comes the MOST IMPORTANT PART of making the turkey…time to rest!!!  Give yourself plenty of time for the bird to rest; this will give you a nice juicy Turkey for Thanksgiving. Last year, I let the Turkey rest for 1 hour and this year 1 ½ hours. When I removed the towels and the foil you could see steam coming off the Turkey.

Our Turkey turned out amazing and it wasn’t hard. Anyone could do it! As a matter of fact, because of an injury to my left hand, my husband who prefers to stay out of the kitchen (under my guidance), is the one that made this Turkey (you can see his hands in all the pictures.)


I hope you give my Turkey Lurkey a try this Thanksgiving. Gobble Gobble!!

11.14.2012

Home Staging 101: Let’s Talk Paint Selection


Paint selection is an important part of design and is crucial when it comes to home staging. Paint color can say a lot about a person; however, when you are trying to sell a house it’s important to remember that “less is always more.”

The colors that sell a house are neutral in character and evoke a sense of calmness and serenity. Not only will more neutral colors help sell your home, they tend to be great paint colors in general, and when used appropriately can help to evoke the feeling of a tranquil seaside residence.

It is also important to consider your flooring when selecting paint for your walls. If your flooring and paint do not complement each other, it can turn out to be an expensive mistake. I recommend using beige's, grays and sea colors mixed with crisp white to neutralize a space.  Here are a few examples of these colors:




Some of my preferred color palettes come from the Restoration Hardware Collection. I have used a number of them in my home, including: Silver Sage, Blue Sage, Linen and Sea Green. Below are pictures of the rooms I have painted with these colors.


{Family Room (Above) & Kitchen in Silver Sage}
{Game Room in Blue Sage}
{In my son’s room I used Linen above the chair rail
and Sea Green below}
My Living room and Dining room are painted Honey Wind by Frazee Paint. It reminds me of a light linen color or a vanilla. I think it’s a perfect neutral canvas for the soft color palate in these two adjoining rooms.



If you need help with paint selection, I’m your gal. Click on the “Hire Me” page and let’s talk about paint.

HAPPY PAINTING!!