Valentine's Day Printable

It is yet another snow day here in central Pennsylvania! The kids are loving it, of course.  I am sure they will be complaining when the middle of June hits and they are still schlepping to the bus stop, but for now they are on cloud nine!  I, on the other hand, am experiencing the winter blues.  Yes, the snow is pretty when it first falls from the sky, blanketing everything in a crisp white wonderland...but, it doesn't take long to get old.  Real old.  The shoveling, the slipping, the dirty snow, the salt stains on the cars.  It's doesn't stay pretty long, and in fact, just becomes one big annoyance!  Ok, I know I'm whining, and it is unbecoming...but, seriously, I have never been more anxious for Spring.

So, on this snow day, we are working on the kids' valentines.  I created them in Photoshop and had them printed inexpensively (like, $7.49 for 50) at Vistaprint.  I wanted to do something other than chocolate or lollipops this year.  I am attaching the .jpg if you would like to use it...

I got those fun fonts free from Dafont.  

And, you guessed it...I added a valentine pencil.  I bought 3 dozen from Amazon (link at the bottom of page).

So easy and cute!  And, it kept us busy for about 45, what will we do the rest of this snow day? 

Stay warm my friends!  :-)

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Funky Girls Room

When we purchased our house back in 2006, we had a 6 month old baby boy.  At that time, a three bedroom house seemed plenty more child and then we'll call it quits.  Or, so we thought.  :)

Fast forward 5 years and we welcomed our second little girl Avery, who we affectionately call "Oops Dupes." She joins Max and Emma to make our fun party of five.  As you have guessed, our three bedroom house is now short a bedroom.  Fortunately one of the rooms is a nice size and can accommodate both our girls, ages 6 and 2.

Last night, we moved little "Oops" out of her crib and into a big girl bed.  It went more smoothly than I thought.  She only climbed out a couple of times and eventually talked herself to sleep.

I recently bought these 24x36 engineering prints from Staples for a whopping $3 and some odd, I love that!

I think they look pretty cool and so do the girls, which I guess is the most important thing.  :)

Have a wonderful day!  We're stuck at home today, expecting up to 8 inches of the white stuff here in Central PA...I am over winter.  The kids will be in school til August at this rate.  ;)

Linking up!

Savvy Southern Style



The Thrifty Home

A Short Trip To The Northwest Will Bring Happiness

My husband and I just spent a long weekend in the Northwest, specifically, Maple Falls, WA.  Our friends quite literally live across the road from a Canadian resident.  That is just how north it is.  My husband's best friend lives there with his wife and two children.  The last time we were out there for a visit was for their wedding 10 years ago.  But, we have all grown very close over those 10 years, even with the long distance. 

Here we are, snowshoeing in Mt. Baker.  What a beautiful place!

Before we left for the trip, I was pretty disgusted with the extra weight I had put on over the indulgent holidays.  But, it wasn't until we got to Maple Falls that I really opened my eyes. 

You see, the wife is a doctor and an all around fitness/health nut.  She is also one of the MOST generous, caring, kind people I have ever met.  So, I count myself very lucky to not only call her a friend, but to have spent so much time with her.  She schooled me about my health and fitness and overall well being. 

Saturday morning went like this...

Me: "What is that in your eggs?"

Wife: "Kale"

Me: "Really? I obviously need more help than I thought."

And, I got it.  She introduced me to the My Fitness Pal app.  This app is SO GREAT!  It looked intimidating at first, but once you take a little tour through it, it's very simple to log.  And, that is the biggest benefit by far since I started using it this past Tuesday when we returned.  Logging every single calorie I put into my body has helped hold me accountable and helped me slim down my portions.  What an eye opener that was...I was eating at least double the portion I should have.  It also has a place to log your daily exercise. 

I have a goal of 1700 calories a day...more allocated if I exercise.  So far, at the end of every day, I have calories left over.  Here is an example of a day for me.

Breakfast 356 cal

Egg Substitute 1/2 cup
Raw Kale
1 tbsp ketchup
Coffee with Sugar and fat free creamer
Medium banana
1 tbsp peanut butter

Lunch 335 cal
Chicken breast - Oscar Mayer 2 oz
2 pickles
Almond Nut Thins - 24 crackers
Garlic Lovers Hummus - 4 tbsp

Dinner 420 cal
Lean Italian Turkey Sausage - 1 link
Barilla Gluten Free Pasta - 2 oz
Tomato Basil sauce - 1/2 cup

Snacks 480 cal
Protein shake (mixed berries, 1 1/2 scoops vanilla whey protein, water)
Granny Smith apple large
String Cheese
Almond Nut Thins - 16 crackers

Cardio Exercise +514 cal
Calisthenics - 45 minutes

So for the day, I had net calories 1,076 with 644 remaining. I eat breakfast first thing, then a snack mid morning, lunch about 12:30 pm, a snack about 3:30 pm, dinner about 6 pm and a snack about 7:30 pm.  I am not left feeling hungry throughout the day. The hardest thing for me is being prepared. 

I have lost TWO LBS since Tuesday, so I am jumping for joy!  I hope I keep this momentum going.  I feel excellent, better than I have in months. 

And, this happens to be the fortune I received on Saturday during our visit...crazy, huh?  And the truth! 

Do yourself a favor and check out My Fitness Pal! Here's to a happy and healthy weekend, all!  :)

Your Hair is Your Best Accessory

Hair!  GAH!  Stupid, stupid HAIR!  Can I tell you how much I love other people's hair?  I love her hair...

And hers...

I even love hers...

What in the HECK am I to do with my hair?  

This choice has been plaguing me for my entire life...all the way back to the "Should I get a perm?" days.  Which, by the way, was always a bad idea. That answer should have been no.  Every time!

Let me tell you, I have had all the styles...yes, the perm, the crimp, the bob, the shag, the pixie, the long and curly (to which my lovely cousin told me made me look like a Howard Stern doppelganger after the fact). 

And to make it worse, now there are all of these YouTube tutorials on blowouts, curling, straightening.  Tips on how to make it softer, fuller, longer.  I have yet to find one that actually works the way "they" say it will.  The truth is, I have thick wavy/curly hair.  Yes, wavy/curly.  This is perhaps the hardest hair to work with, because it is neither curly, where I could maybe use a diffuser and embrace the curl, nor wavy, where I could perhaps just let it air dry in the summertime and it would look just gorgeous, like in the magazine.  No, if I do either of these things, it is a frizzy mess of strands that go every which way...very rarely the way that I intended them to go! 

This is my dilemma.  While the shorter layered bob is easier, in that it takes less time to dry and style, the longer layered hair is easier to pull back, or put in those cute braids (which I can't do...must look up clever YouTube tutorial).

And, my last roadblock, and perhaps the hardest one to overcome, is my lack of the P word.  Oh, that dreaded P word.  Patience.  I have none...and, unfortunately, I have passed this dynamic gene onto my oldest son and it drives me crazy.  I have heard that those traits you have in common with your children are those that annoy you the most.  Boy, is that ever spot on! to I wait patiently through the transition stages of letting this hair grow? 

YIKES!  Seriously, I am asking...please tell me.  I need help. 

So Many Clothes...So Little Space!

My 6 year old...well, to put it mildly, she oozes SASS!  She knows what she wants, and unfortunately for me, that changes more frequently than I can keep up with.  But, one thing is for sure...she keeps me moving!

My mom and I took her to NYC last December with the big surprise being a trip to American Girl Doll Store.  She was, in a word, overwhelmed.  We walked in and she literally stopped.  Didn't move an inch.  I had to gently guide her to the dolls and everywhere else in the three story building.  Looking back, this trip would have been much better had we done it in June, as opposed to Christmastime in the city.  Lesson learned.  But, she was taken aback by the size and beauty of the city.

We did come home with a doll that day, that she has since named Julie and has spent an awful lot of time at the bottom of the toy bin, unfortunately.  That is, until about a week ago...she has been resurrected and it is now ALL THINGS JULIE!  She needs new clothes, new accessories, etc.  This could not have happened before Christmas?? Of course not.  Well, I have held her off by telling her that Valentines Day and Easter are coming, and perhaps she will get a few clothes for Julie on those holidays.

I am however, working on a cute little spot all for Julie in the girls' bedroom.  Here is the start...

I use this bed for photo shoots, but while I am not using it, Julie can rest comfortably.  I think when the weather gets a bit nicer (-24 degrees with the wind chill yesterday), I am going to give the bed a makeover.

I thought long and hard about how to store her clothes.  Considered a box, but the girl would have them all over the place looking for the perfect outfit.  Then, my lightbulb lit and as a result...a towel bar closet for Julie.

I got the towel bar and little hangers at Amazon and it works perfectly.

The next step are accessories for Julie's stay tuned for that.  Not gonna lie, I love this stuff!  It brings out my inner child.  :)

Linking up to:

Balancing Act: It's time to tip the scales

Here's the situation...

1. Three active kids
2. One hardworking husband
3. One insanely cute dog
4. Two basketball practices a week
5. Two gymnastics practices a week
6. One religious education class a week
7. Two basketball GAMES a week
8. Two Zumba classes a week (that I lead)
9. Expenses coming from everywhere

10. One tired but determined MAMA

I know, I know...I am not the ONLY mom on the planet to juggle.  I realize this, but I AM a mom that is determined to make this all work while still contributing financially to the family.

My first attempt is my photography business, Bliss Images Photography.  While I am moderately successful, this is by no stretch of the imagination making a huge impact on our savings account.  After buying all the cool gear and spending a great deal of time on editing, we may have broken even in the four years I have done this.  Although, I enjoy it immensely.

Attempt two...blogging.  Here's the thing, I enjoy this very much, but it's not as simple as writing a clever post and clicking the send button.  If this is going to be successful, I have to spend a decent amount of time on it.

While I have always prided myself on being a super multi-tasker, this decision is throwing me for a loop.  I have proven that I can't do both.  I am leaning towards focusing my efforts on blogging, while keeping my hobby a hobby (with the occasional paid gig).  And, to those that are already on my schedule for 2014, no worries...I fulfill my obligations.

I wish I could shake the magic 8 ball and it would tell me the right thing to do for me and for my family.  Time will tell, I suppose.  I just hope we all come out on top.

Please, share your experiences, advice with me...I am all ears, I assure you.

Oh, and one more thing...God bless my husband, who puts up with his "Jack of all trades, Master of none" wife.  He really has been so supportive.  :)

UPDATE:  I literally just posted this and my friend, Shelly sent me this.  So, I bought it.  I loved her on Full House, so let's see what advice she's got for me!  :)

A Very Grinchy Christmas Party

Let me tell you this...nothing makes me more nervous than planning a party for elementary school kids.  It is one of the scariest jobs.  A 7 year old has little to no filter and they are brutally honest.  I mean brutal.

That being said, I have been thinking about this Christmas party for my daughter's first grade class for two months now, and I have been sweatin' it!

The theme wasn't hard.  My BFF, Natalie from A Turtle's Life for Me is a veteran at these parties and she threw a Grinch themed party a few years back that was adorable.  I decided that I would give that a try.  I mean, who doesn't love the story of the Grinch? 

So, I set to work thinking about the afternoon's festivities. And, thank goodness for Pinterest, because I was all over that and it didn't disappoint.

The stations included

1. Pin the Heart on the Grinch

I did not get as elaborate as Natalie...she made a lifesize Grinch (laminated and all).  I ordered this poster on Amazon and glued it to cardboard.  :)

2. Grinch Bingo - made these bingo cards with them. And the kids used M&Ms as markers.

3. Sum it Up with the Grinch - This, I found on Pinterest and just made copies.  The game is pretty simple.  Roll 2 dice and make an addition or subtraction equation with the numbers.

4. Pass the heart pillow (think hot potato) - I hooked up my iPod with Christmas songs - this is the station I thought they would have lots of fun at...the very first group, one of the boys said to me, "I don't like this game." Go figure!  These kids are THE toughest critics!

5. Craft - Make Max the dog's antlers - I got this craft from Oriental Trading.  I glued some of the pieces at home, because I knew that it would be a gluing nightmare otherwise.  And, it still was.  Some of the kids had trouble getting the still wet antlers into their backpacks.  Oh well... the best laid plans, right?

After all of the stations were done, the kids grabbed a snack.  Brownies, Grinch kabobs, goldfish and pretzels and I read them the book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  They listened very attentively. Some of them even thanked me!  :)

And, each of the kiddos took home a goodie bag, filled with a coloring page, candy cane and Grinch pills.  One of the boys said, "how did you know this was my favorite flavor of candy cane?" LOL, lucky guess!

My daughter was so happy that I was there she hugged me no less than 20 times and really, that is the best thank you I can imagine.  Merry Christmas!

Linking up!

Craft O Maniac

Monday Funday