Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Princess Dance Party

The weather has been so cold, and we have been trapped inside for so long.  Is winter ever going to end?  We have been looking for things to keep us entertained during the long, cold days at home.  When Audrey's school was cancelled yesterday, she was very disappointed.  So we set out to have a super fun, special day.

One of our activities was to have a princess dance party.  Audrey frequently dresses up and dances, but Isla doesn't always want to join her.  It was so much fun to watch them both dancing together!  They get along fairly well, but not always (as I am sure is true with most siblings).  I just love seeing them play well and have fun together.  I don't think I will ever grow tired of seeing these two sisters loving each other; it makes me so happy!






Normally, Audrey doesn't want me to take pictures when she is singing and dancing.  But I am always trying because her facial expressions and enthusiasm are priceless!  I love to watch her "perform!"  Yesterday, she didn't seem to mind the camera, so I kept taking pictures.  Here are a few that capture her heartfelt performance.










Saturday, January 25, 2014

Our Week

Disclaimer:  I failed at taking any pictures with my real camera this week.  These are all phone pictures.

This is just going to be a long rambling post about our week.  How exciting is that!!

It was cold this week.  Really cold.  With several days of highs in the single digits and wind chills in the negative double digits.  I would have loved to stay warm at home every day, but we had places to go every single day.  So we had to get bundled up.  I really don't love getting the girls all bundled up, but when it is this cold, I feel like I should take the time to make sure they are warm (or as warm as possible in the frigid temps).

Here are the girls all bundled up and ready to go to a playdate with some friends from Audrey's school. 

One day this week, the girls were playing in Audrey's room with control of both my computer and my phone.  That's scary!  But when they are playing nicely together, I will let them do almost anything (within reason) if it means they will continue to play nicely together!  They were playing church and listening to a playlist of our Sunday School songs.  Audrey thought Isla was acting cute, so she wanted to record her with my phone.  Here's one of the videos I found on my phone when I got it back.
video

One afternoon this week, Audrey wanted to do some chores.  So I told her she could mop the floor, which was messy from all the snow/mud we've been tracking in.  She has never mopped before, so this was a very exciting thing for her!  She did the whole dining room, the whole kitchen and the front hallway.  The floors look terrible now, because she slopped on way too much water and they are now all splotchy looking.  But she had fun, and she worked hard too!  And she was soaked when she finished.

I was going to potty train Isla in January.  It is now January 25, and there has been no potty training.  I keep putting it off, because I just don't want to do it!  Potty training takes a lot of patience and diligence on my part.  Plus I would rather change a diaper any day than have to deal with taking a toddler to a public restroom.  Or having to deal with taking her to the bathroom at the exact moment when she needs to go.  It's so much easier to just let her go in her diaper.  =)

But we are going to potty train one of these days.  That is unavoidable, I'm afraid.  For now, Isla has been sitting on her little potty after bath time.  And she thinks it is especially fun to sit on her little potty in the hallway!  She has never actually gone in the potty yet, but for now it's just fun to sit there.

I got my hair cut yesterday and decided to get bangs!  Eek!!  Bangs are a bit of  a commitment, and I've been debating it for several months.  But I finally decided I was ready for a little change.  I figure if I don't like them, I can just pin them back.  And my hair grows really fast, so it shouldn't be too hard to grow them out.

Someone on Facebook asked if I have ever had a bad cut/style?  Which just made me laugh...a lot!  I've shared about my past woes with my hair before on this blog.  I have had many years of bad hair and bad styles.  Most of my life, I have hated my hair and thought it was impossible and hopeless.  It's not until recent years, when I have found a stylist that I like and trust, and I've learned more about how to style my hair (and spent more keeping it cut and buying product) that I have finally grown to actually like my hair and see it's thickness and waviness as a positive thing.  =)





Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Projects

A new year always makes me want to start new projects around the house.  I'm really good at starting projects.  I'm not always so good at finishing them though.  I have a really long list of projects I would like to complete in this house, but some of them are going to take years to complete.

Right now, I'm in the midst of three fairly small projects that I would love to finish soon.  Just need to find some extra money and some extra time and motivation!

Project #1:  Audrey's Room
We finally bought a twin bed for Audrey which means she no longer has to sleep in her tiny toddler bed!  I feel a little bad that my fairly tall five year old was still sleeping in that bed.  Now, she can finally feel like a big girl in her real bed!  And with a new bed, it is time to tackle her room.

Knowing that we would eventually be getting her a new bed, I didn't really do much to her room when we moved in besides painting it.  We didn't have a home for any of her toys or stuff, so everything just ends up piled up everywhere.  It doesn't help that Audrey is a major hoarder too.  The girl keeps everything, while I would prefer to throw away everything.   So we are in the midst of trying to get her room cleaned up and organized, trying to find a way to please both me and her!








Project #2:  Gallery Wall in the Hallway
I have most of the frames that I need to complete this project.  Just need to get a few more and then I can start hanging.  That is, f I can ever figure out how I am going to arrange and hang them!  These papers have been moved around again and again to help me figure out where the frames will go, and I'm not sure they have found their final home yet.

Project #3:  Mini Master Bath Makeover
I bought a new shower curtain for our master bathroom, which I really love.  Now I'm in the mood to paint and buy some new shelves, towels and decor.

If I ever finish these projects, I will share the final results!




Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Dresses

Tea Collection is one of my favorite places to get dresses for the girls.  I can't afford their regular prices, especially with two girls, but I like to catch their sales.  After Christmas, they were having an extra 25% off their sale prices.  (And that sale eventually went to 40% off sale prices, though the selection was limited).  I couldn't resist picking up a couple of dresses for the girls.

These dresses are really meant for summer, so I bought them a size bigger hoping they will fit the girls this summer (and maybe next summer too).  They were only $9 each, which is great compared to the original price of  $29.50 each.  We have had the best luck with Tea Collection dresses washing and wearing well, and with layers, the girls can wear them for multiple seasons and years.  This isn't a sponsored post or anything; I just love these dresse! 

So we tried on their new dresses the other day, and then I got the girls to pose for a few pictures for me.  And by "got," I mean that I bribed them with candy. 

We have lived in this house for over six months, and I haven't really attempted any pictures with natural light.  In our old house, I knew the couple of places that had good light, but we were kind of limited.  This house has some bigger windows that let in more light.  So it was fun to discover this great morning light in Isla's room, which makes for some nice looking pictures!

(Also, in an effort to keep things real, I should tell you that I did a little editing to remove some toys that were on the floor.  Her room was really very messy when we took these!)









Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dance Class

Audrey finally had her first dance class today!  I was a little nervous for her as she is joining in the middle of the year, so all the other kids have a head start on her.  But there are only four other girls in her class, which means the teacher is able to help them all a lot.  So I think it will be a good fit for her.  It is a ballet and tap class, with a little bit of tumbling.

She had so much fun today!  She came home and refused to take off her leotard or tights or ballet shoes.  She pulled out all of our Little People and arranged them all on books.  The books are supposed to be stars, which is what she stood on in her class today.  Then she taught dance class and danced ALL DAY LONG.  She insisted that I find some ballet music on Spotify for her.  So we found an album called "Ballet Music" which was perfect.  I don't even know how many times she listened to it.    I don't think I have ever seen her move so much for so long. 

In keeping with my resolution to take more pictures with my camera, I snuck a couple while she was dancing.  She picked the darkest room in our house to dance though, making it hard to get good quality pictures.  The pictures are really cute, but I wish we would have had just a little more light so the pictures would be less grainy.  I'm probably the only one who really cares about that though.  =)










Monday, January 13, 2014

New Camera Bag...and a New Resolution!

I used some Christmas money to buy myself a present...a Kelly Moore camera bag!  It is more money than I have ever spent on a bag before, though I did get a deal by buying an older model of the bag instead of the current version.

I have been without a camera bag for a while, which means whenever I go to a photo shoot or  take my camera with me somewhere, I just put my camera in whatever purse I have with me.  It's not very safe for the camera, so I did really need to get a bag.  And it was nice to have the opportunity to get a super cute camera bag...and one that doesn't even look like a camera bag!

Now that I have my fancy new bag, and I have no excuse for not carrying my camera with me, I'm going to try to take more pictures with my camera.  Since I have had my iphone for the past year, I have been really lazy about taking pictures with my camera.  Instead, I just use my phone and don't even try to get a good picture.

I started this blog way back when with the intention of using my camera and bettering my photography skills.  Now, while I still use my camera to take pictures of other people's families, I rarely use it to take pictures of my own family.  Which makes me sad. So I'm going to try to change that.

The weather today was really nice...it was 50 degrees!  Considering that it was -15 degrees last Monday, this was a definite improvement.  The girls wanted to play outside today, and Daniel told them that he would give them a penny for every stick they picked up in our backyard.  They loved this and had so much fun picking up sticks!  I decided to take advantage and grabbed my camera for a few pictures!


Audrey picked up 100 sticks, give or take a few.  Her counting skills aren't quite perfect.  And she counted the smallest twig as a stick.  Then she decided she was tired of counting, but she continued to pick up quite a few more sticks.  Who knew it would be so much fun for her?  Isla helped too, though she didn't want to touch any stick that looked too dirty.

When Audrey got too tired from picking up all those sticks, she would sit down under the tree to rest.  Isla tried to join her once, but she was too afraid to sit in the grass/dirt.   So Isla just squatted down next to Audrey and pretended to rest.

When Daniel got home from work, he took the girls to Scheels where they spent the 100 pennies they earned on some ice cream!!





Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas

Here's a recipe for an easy, healthy and tasty dinner that provides plenty of leftovers.  I used this recipe and made 22 flautas.  That gave us enough for dinner, for lunch the next day, and I put 10 more in the freezer for another dinner/lunch combo or to pull out a few at a time for lunches at home.  That's a lot of meals with only one prep time...my favorite!!

I originally got the recipe here.  I have made several changes to adapt it to what works for me, so I thought I would share my version.  The original recipe gives directions for baking the chicken.  When I make it, I usually use precooked, shredded chicken from my freezer (I cook chicken breasts in bulk in the crockpot, shred it and freeze it in about 2 cups serving sizes.  The recipe I usually use has disappeared from the internet, but this recipe is similar). 

I'm not very good about using exact measurements when I cook, but I will do my best to include them here. Also sometimes instead of the spices listed in the recipe, I substitute with 2 Tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning (which I usually keep premixed in the cabinet, so it's easier than measuring everything out.  I'm all about not having to measure much!).

Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas

2 (maybe 2 1/2) cups precooked, shredded chicken
1 cup chicken broth (may need a little more)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
4 oz can diced green chiles
2-3 cups chopped fresh spinach
10-12 flour tortillas (I usually use whole wheat)
6 ounces of cheddar cheese (or preferred Mexican cheese)

Preheat the oven to 425. (The original recipe calls for 450, but in my oven, the flautas get overly brown and 425 seems to work better for me).

Combine chicken and chicken broth and cook over low-medium heat until warm.  Add all the spices and continue heating, stirring occasionally.  If it looks dry, add more chicken broth.  (I am pretty liberal with the chicken broth because I do not like dry chicken!).  Add in the green chiles and the chopped spinach, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the spinach is wilted.  Remove from heat.

Cut the flour tortillas in half.  Spread about a tablespoon of the chicken mixture on the straight edge of the tortilla.  Sprinkle with cheese, and then tightly roll up the tortilla.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place the finished tortillas on the baking sheet.

Spray a light coating of cooking spray on top of the finished flautas.  Cook in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until they reached the desired brownness/crispiness.  I have found that they start to brown quickly towards the end, so I keep an eye on them after 10 minutes.  Sometimes I flip them over and cook for an additional five minutes, and sometimes I don't. 

To Freeze:  Fill the tortillas and roll them up.  Wrap them tightly in foil and put in freezer.  You can pull them out a few out at a time for lunches or cook them all at once.  I follow the same cooking directions as above and cook them directly out of the freezer.  It may take a few more minutes to cook through, but I have found that they cook well from frozen.