children

Fitness Challenge Update and Juicing

Posted by on Jun 1, 2012 | 8 comments

It’s been a while since I updated about my fitness challenge.  I’m amazed at the progress some of the women are making in our group.  Everyone has their battles, and mine appears to be the “comfort zone” my body has settled into.

As I posted earlier, I tried the HCG diet and had great success on it, but it sort of “weirded me out” a bit.  Now I’m on the opposite end:  I’m eating super healthy (with the exception of Memorial Day Weekend- yikes), and I’m exercising again (a LOT), but my weight is coming off a lot slower.  I know this is a good thing in the long run- it will be more likely to stay off.  But getting on the scale and seeing that number budge very little from week to week is discouraging.  We’ll see.  I’m going to keep at it and try to reach my goal weight by… oh, I have no idea.  Someday.

In the meantime, I’m running and doing Jillian Michael’s 30-Day Shred to get myself back in shape.  Jillian.  Oh, Jillian.  That’s another post, entirely.

Onto my new favorite thing:  juicing!  Now, have no fear.  I’m not going to tell you that you, too, should buy an expensive juicer and fill yourself with fruits and veggies and cleanse your body until you can’t leave the bathroom.   Nope.  But I will say this:  eating this many fruits and veggies does make you feel pretty damn good.

First and foremost, I love the juicer I chose.  It’s this one, and you have to look hard to find it available in any stores.  If you decide to buy a Breville *anything* be sure to call any store before going, because their stuff is pretty much flying off of shelves these days.

Why did I chose to get a ridiculously expensive juicer?  I want it to last.  It was recommended to me by a few different friends (who did not know each other- even better).  And the reviews of these juicers are just phenomenal.  I am also pretty comitted to juicing as a new part of a healthy diet.  I’m not going to do a juice cleanse just yet, but I do want a way to get more veggies & fruits in my system.  Juicing is the way for me to do that.

So what am I making?

It’s funny because when I was waiting for my juicer to arrive (it took FO’-EVA) I went out and bought some juicing books.  Now I hardly refer to them because I’m just having fun playing around with flavors and seeing what my tastebuds (and my digestive system) like.

Below is a photo of one juice I made- it made a LOT of juice, and I drank. It. All.  It was good. Sometimes I’m adding coconut water to my juice because it’s supposed to be good for you.  I don’t like it by itself, but you can’t taste it in juice, and it’s just more hydration.

This particular blend contained:  celery (2 stalks), carrots (2), cucumber (1/3), apples (2 small), spinach (a  few handfuls), heirloom tomatoes (a bunch- they were close to going bad, so in they went).  I add at least one apple to any veggie/green juice, because they give it a bit of sweetness.

Here are some things you should know about juicing:

{juicing is messy}

I had no idea how messy it would be.  It makes sense when you’re making juice twice a day (which is what I’m doing) that you’d have some sticky counters or floors.  And this juicer is great in terms of power, but every once in a while something squirts out of somewhere and catches me off guard.  This is mostly my error- if you push things through it too fast, it squirts.  (There’s a joke there, I know.)  I’m using my mop a lot more, that’s for sure!

{juicing is time-consuming}

This is partly because I have three kids.  I make their breakfast first, and then I make my juice.  I make their lunches, and then I make my juice.  Then I have a normal dinner.   But getting the produce prepped (washed, cored, peeled, etc.) does take some time.  I don’t mind- it’s an excuse to zone out a bit and give my brain a rest.  Even if a juicer is lauded as being super-strong or able-to-take-a-beating, you still have to prep your fruits & veggies one way or another.

{juicing is noisy}

This is only a pain for me because my kids are already scared (as in horrified) of the vacuum and anything else noisy (except helicopters and motorcycles- those are okay).  So bringing in the juicer was not popular at first.  Then I made them pineapple-orange juice and now they are okay with it.  This particular juicer is actually quite tolerable on “low,” but quite loud on “high.”

***BUT***

 

{juicing is good for you}

I don’t need to tell you that it’s good to consume more fruits & veggies.  Duh.

{juicing is delicious}

Unless you screw up your juice by adding too much of something or putting in something you aren’t fond of, you really can’t go wrong.  I will never juice a green, red, or yellow pepper.  I hate them.  Nothing will make me like them.  So I won’t juice them.  Even if you try kind of a wonky combo, your juice will taste at least okay so long as you like most of the stuff you put in it.

{juicing is fun}

It’s a new way for me to make food.  I’m all about that.

Do you juice?

Maybe you have a juicer in your cabinets that you received for a wedding gift, or you bought one and just haven’t used it.  GET IT OUT!

Would you like to see more juicing info here at Crafting Crazy?  I’m thinking about posting the juices I make every once in a while.  I’d love to know what questions you have that I can find answers to, or what other things you’d like to know about  juicing.  Leave me  a comment here or on my Facebook page and I’ll hop to it!

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Teacher Appreciation Week

Posted by on May 16, 2012 | 5 comments

I love a good Teacher Appreciation Week.  When I was a teacher this week couldn’t come at a better time; it was usually during a crazy, hectic spring-is-insane kind of week, and the parents at our school always did an amazing job of making us feel loved and valued.  I learned a lot of great ideas as a teacher, and now that I am a parent with kids in preschool (and soon-to-be kindergarten) I was excited to shower the teachers at our preschool with some TLC.  Hopefully my ideas will give you some inspiration, too.

My kids go to a local preschool that has a very laid-back feel.  I love it.  There isn’t a lot of fuss about anything- the kids are there to be loved and to learn to love school.  The teachers love what they do.  Can’t ask for much more than that!

In years past, I’ve done a “Thank You Party” for the teachers that taught my kids.  It was really fun, but the longer they are at this school, the more teachers they come into contact with, and hosting an entire staff at my house… well, I do love a good party, but I’m not quite ready for that.  So this year, now that I’m not pregnant or teaching, I decided this is the year to do a real Teacher Appreciation Week.  Here’s what I did to prepare and put it into action!

 

{Prepare}

I emailed our preschool director to get the message out, and she forwarded my email to all of the parents at our school.  I requested that all of the parents let me know if they wanted to help out, contribute money, or whatever was easiest.  I also let everyone know that participation was not required, as I didn’t want to pressure anyone into doing something when they had already planned their own thing.  Very quickly we had a plan, which you’ll see below.

Then I gave a questionnaire to all of the teachers to find out what they like to eat, do, etc.  I thought this would help the parent get to know the teachers and also get everyone excited about the week.  When the teachers filled these out, I compiled them into a simple Word document and emailed it out to the parents to help them with ideas for personal gifts, etc.  Here’s the questionnaire- feel free to download it!  Just click and “save as.”

I also put out sign-up sheets for parents to bring in treats on two days.  One day is for healthy snacks and the other is sweet treats- a little bit of both sides of the spectrum.  To help with costs for decorations and gifts for the directors and cook at the school, I also put out a collection envelope.  This was very helpful- it gave me a budget to work with, and any remaining money can be put towards a gift card to a book store or a place like Lakeshore Learning.  This also allowed super-busy families to contribute and help out without stressing out.

{Action}

The Thursday before Teacher Appreciation Week I passed out this sheet to all of the teachers so that they could know what they had to look forward to for the week.  It’s always fun to know what’s going on and be informed, right?!

 

Monday

Once the plan is in place everything sort of takes care of itself.   The only really involved thing was this past Monday.  Everyone brought in flowers when they dropped off their kids, and we needed to get them into vases so that each room had fresh flowers to enjoy for the week.

I had help from two lovely moms, and another decorated vases for us- they are perfect!  I showed up with an empty bucket and some trimmers for trimming stems.  It took us about an hour to get the flowers removed from their wrappers, separated into 10 bouquets, and trimmed to fit the vases.  I was very thankful for the help- doing it by myself would have taken a few hours.  I also downloaded this adorable bunting from Urban Bliss- I think it was intended to be used as flash cards, but I wanted something cute to hang, so I just punched holes and used some ribbon.  It looks super cute.  I also sewed together some streamers thanks to the amazing Dana.  I made these for Jack’s Party and they will become a staple in our house, for sure.

 

Tuesday

Parents bring in treats.  I was planning on setting them out, but my son, Jack, was sick, so an awesome mom pitched in and set stuff out for me so I didn’t contaminate the food. :)  Thanks, Jessica!

Wednesday

I called our local Jamba Juice and got a great deal on 20 smoothies.  They even gave us a nice discount since we were a) ordering a boat-load of smoothies, and b) it was for amazing teachers.  Score!

Thursday

Parents bring in treats.  Easy!

Friday

I pick up bagels and cream cheese to bring in, and parents bring in their own gifts.  I also bring in gifts for the director and cook of the school.  Hooray for Teacher Appreciation Week!

What do you do during this week for your kids’ teachers?  There’s tons of inspiration on Pinterest, but I’d love to hear what you have done, too!

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DIY Chalkboards {Summertime Fun!}

Posted by on May 9, 2012 | 5 comments

…..

I want this summer of 2012 to be one my kids remember.  I want it to be fun.  I also want to be able to say to them, “Go Play Outside!” as often as possible.  I have lots of memories of being sent outside to play when I was growing up.  There’s just nothing like summer when you’re a kid.

For a long time this area of our house has been off limits.  It was full of mud, gopher holes, and sharp, dangerous tools.  This fall we’ll have been here three years.  And thankfully, this is the first summer where I think we really NEED this space for our family, and it’s ready!  I’ll be showing you more later, but for now, we’ll stick to these home-made chalkboards I made for the kids.  They’ve been a big hit, and were very straightforward to make.  I saw this idea on several blogs a few years ago, and of course now I can’t remember any of them.  I knew I could buy a chalkboard somewhere, but I wanted them to be small so the kids or I could move them easily, and I didn’t want to feel bad if they get banged up, as I’m sure they will.

I went to Home Depot one day to get something completely unrelated and came home with all the fixings to make these.  I grabbed three square pieces of wood (I could wander in the lumber part of Home Depot all day just to smell the wood).  I believe they are 2 ft. x 2 ft. I also grabbed 2 cans of this primer by Rustoleum:

And 2 cans of this Chalk Board Paint, also by Rustoleum.

Making these was very simple, but a bit time-consuming in order to let the primer and paint dry.  I just followed the directions on the can.  I’d throw on my painting clothes in the morning and slap a coat on.  Then in the afternoon I’d do another.

I did three coats of primer and three coats of chalkboard paint.  I think it took 3-4 days to complete.

The thing that was most helpful was using extra pavers to elevate the boards.  See this picture below?  This is how I started; do not start this way.  Find something thick and even that you don’t care about and stick it under the boards so you can’t see it.  Then you can paint the entire surface of the board AND the edges, and it is easy peasy.

We already had quite a collection of sidewalk chalk.  I was thinking about buying regular chalk until I saw how much sidewalk chalk we have.  We can wait.

I bought this handy carrying case at Target.  The bottom compartment still needs something- haven’t decided what we’ll put in there.

We use some planters I got in the dangerous dollar section at Target to hold water for dunking our chalk.  It makes the colors so vibrant.

The day we started using these, Anna was in heaven.  I drew a picture on the middle board to show her how to do the water, and she was ready to go.  This little girl is a creative type, just like her mommy. :)

Jack just has fun making a mess and asking me to draw things for him.  Helicopters are the most popular.

What fun things do your kids like to do outside?

And by the way- do my pictures not look SO much better?!  Hooray for new cameras!

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A Whole Bunch of Hullabaloo {Giveaway!}

Posted by on Apr 18, 2012 | 16 comments

Before I get into my post for today, just a quick reminder to mark your calendar for April 26th if you’re a Pinterest user- it’s going to be Clean Up Your Pinterest Boards day!  Click here for more info.

Have I told you about my new job?  I wish I could say that blogging brings in loads of cash (in a variety of bills for convenience) but alas, I am not a pro-blogger yet.  Someday.  A girl can dream.  But this new job I have is awfully great because I’m learning something new, I’m working with a totally awesome person, and I get to be partially responsible for something other than myself and my family- it’s keeping my brain “fresh” if you know what I mean.

My job is to organize sponsors and vendors for an awesome music festival- for KIDS!

 

It’s the brainchild of my friend, Steve, who is better known around San Diego as Hullabaloo.  On Sunday, May 6th, we will gather at the Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo here in San Diego.  The Winery is such a cool place on its own, and having the festival there makes it even better!

Steve has brought together quite a collection of musicians, and we will also have some great vendors on site that are family-oriented businesses ranging from classes you can take like Sign4Baby and Stroller Strides, to family photographers, to handmade business and more.  With all the music, demos, and a musical petting zoo…. it’s going to be a fun-filled day that will wear out your kids (and probably you, too!).  You can get a load of details about the festival here.

And guess what?!

I’m giving away a family-pack of tickets to one Crafting Crazy reader!  How do you win?  Simply leave a comment in my comment section below.  The giveaway is open from the time of this posting until midnight April 20th.  I will select a comment at random and announce the winner on April 21st!

Please only enter one time, but feel free to tweet, share on Facebook, and whatever other methods you wish to promote the giveaway and the event.  If you can’t wait to see if you win tickets, you can also purchase tickets now by clicking here.

Good luck, and I hope to see you on May 6th!

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Jack’s Party: Food, Treats & a Wrap Up

Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 | 1 comment

For our final installment of Jack’s party, we’ll talk food, treats and I’ll give my thoughts on throwing a “real” party. :)

So let’s start by saying that I am not a party-food creator.  I have serious personal issues making a bunch of pretty food that is only going to be chewed up and digested.  Yes, it must taste good, but that’s sort of where my sense of obligation ends.  Presentation of food is not my strong suit.

Given the number of people we had attending, we ordred giant pizzas.  That was our “main course.”  They came shortly after the scavenger hunt ended.  We also had some snack packs of goldfish crackers and snack mix available for empty tummies.

I also made fruit kabobs.  I went to Costco, bought a bunch of fruit, and skewered it up the day before.  One tray was all the same, with a little bit of everything.   When I got tired of making those I made another tray that had a bit more variety so people could pick and choose.  What I love about these is that you don’t need utensils. I’m all about the finger food.   Also, Costco had 12-packs of old-school soda- I couldn’t resist.  Everyone seemed to like them, too!  The kids had juice boxes, and we also had water available, and some Izze drinks, too- love those.

 For cake, Jack was sooo easy.  I didn’t really give him a choice on the cake vs. cupcake front.  We were having cupcakes.  But when I asked him what kind of cake, he said (in his adorably funny voice), “Ummmm, I fink… I waaaaant.. chalk-a-LOT!”  Done.  “What kind of frosting?”  “Ummm, I fink…..  white.” Done and done.

 I followed most of what I described in my mini-cupcake post.  This time I tried Trader Joe’s cake mix and I have to say I will not be using it again.  They didn’t taste bad… they just didn’t taste that great. I saw lots of cupcakes with the frosting licked off and just a bite or two of cake.  Bummer.  Back to Duncan Hines I go!

 I made candy-pops just because.  Yup.  Just because.  They were SO. EASY. TO. MAKE.  For reals.  Check it out:

  • Buy a mold (or two to make it faster), candy melts, and sticks (mine were 6″).  Sprinkles worked very well for these, too.  I got it all at Michael’s.
  • Melt candy melts and put in a pastry bag or a ziploc bag will do just fine- cut off the tip.  You may need to let it cool a bit as (duh) you did just melt it over the stove.
  • While it cools, put sprinkles in the bottom of each mold.  Make sure the bottom is covered well- not too much, not too little.
  • Fill the molds with the melted candy, smooth them over with the back of a spoon.  Doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth.
  • Place the sticks and put them in the fridge or freezer until solid.
  • *Important:  check the sticks a few minutes after you put them in the fridge or freezer- sometimes they come up a bit, and once the candy starts to solidify (ooo- I just said solidify) you can push them back in and they’ll stick better.
  • Pop them out and store.  Put on a cute tray to serve, or wrap them up in little bags for take-home treats.

 

Lastly, each kid got to take a little treat bag of M&M’s home.  I got the ribbon at Dollar Tree, and the bags are from Shop Sweet Lulu.  I LOVE these little bags.  They are so stinkin’ happy.  :)

 I got all of my trays at WalMart for ONE DOLLAR EACH.  Go now!  They are cheap but they are colorful and perfect for whatever.  And I don’t care about what happens to them because they were only…. a DOLLAR.

And now… the wrap up. Will I do this again?  Maybe.  I think if I do another party like this it will be next year for a different child, that way everyone gets a super-special party once every three years or so.  March is a huge birthday month for us- 10 people in my family/extended family have birthdays, so we have a lot going on.  But it was so fun to have happy, cheery decor and everyone seemed to like it a lot.

I have the utmost respect for anyone who can do this for every child’s birthday, especially if they have more than one child.  I’m also thankful that Anna doesn’t seem to expect the exact same party for her birthday, and we will keep it much more simple (I hope).

I will be back later today to create a “Jack’s Party” page and get everything properly linked up so you can go between posts easily.  Thanks for reading!

Here’s one last shot of the birthday boy…

And again, many thanks to Tonya for sending me so many photos, including this one of my  husband and my daughter, Em.   These posts would not have been the same without her photos.  You’re wonderful, Tonya!

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Jack’s Party: Scavenger Hunt!

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 | 5 comments

I wanted something easy for the kids to do during the party, and since I was hopeful that it wouldn’t rain and we have a pretty big yard, I wanted to keep them outside for at least part of the time.  I started by searching on Pinterest for “boy parties” and such, and happened across a scavenger hunt.  The only problem was that it wasn’t suited for our environment- I think it was a beach hunt.  After a bit more searching I realized I just needed to spend some time in Photoshop.  It really didn’t take long to make.

Each bag had a little magnifying glass tied to the handle (purchased from Oriental Trading), and I also stuck a pencil in each bag.  Then they could use their pencil to mark things off (or their parent could), they could collect a lemon from our lemon tree, and whatever else they wanted to keep.  Recognize the wagon? :)

When they were done, I let them choose between one of these or these as a prize.  I didn’t “enforce” too much- but lots of them were so proud of finding everything on the page.  It was super cute!

Some tips if you decide to do a scavenger hunt:

  • Don’t get too specific if your crowd is younger- keep it simple.
  • Don’t hand out the bags until AFTER you give directions- otherwise they will likely just take the bags and run off without really knowing what to do.
  • Expect it to take just about 20 minutes or so, maybe a bit longer.
  • Advise guests to wear appropriate footwear- we put it on the back of our invitation.  Our yard is not one for flip flops at this time of year.

 

Here’s my birthday boy and his daddy during the hunt.  My two men. (Note the gopher holes in the foreground.)

As an aside, the other thing we had that ended up not working as well was the Giga Ball.  (It cost way less wherever I got it, but can’t remember where.)  I love this thing!  It’s the best money I’ve spent for parties and gatherings/play dates.  We intended for everyone to do it as they arrived (before food consumption).  Unfortunately on this day it was so damp outside that everyone (including my husband) started getting too wet and muddy, so we had to put it aside.  Later it came out again after the sun burned off some moisture.  Some kids like being rolled down the hill.  Others…not so much.  Either way- it sure is a fun thing to have around!

Below is the hunt.    The tree with the question mark is for “Which tree is the tallest?”.  The “???” is for if they find something that’s not on the page. “Take one of each” is for our citrus trees- we have three (lemon, orange, and grapefruit) but we ended up only having them pick lemons because the other two have lots of bees right now.  The grasshopper was just an example of a bug.  You’re welcome to download it. I’d appreciate some pins or comments if you download it.  Thanks!

Up tomorrow:  Food and Wrap-Up!

 

Also a big thanks to my friend, Tonya, again for her lovely photos that add so much to these posts!

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