Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Reading Challenges... well, that didn't go so well

I had great hopes for reading more in 2014. I think I did read MORE... just not what I'd planned to read. Certainly, I read more children's chapter books since my daughter is graduating from being read picture books to being read chapter books. She can read many of them herself, but we still enjoy time with me reading to her nightly. My husband still reads to our 11yo son nightly as well, though their fare has gone more toward thought provoking works like The Orphan Train and Walden. Risa and I are more into the Animalmagic series by Holly Webb, Rainbow Fairies and the like.

I entered two reading challenges for 2014 and I pretty much failed miserably at both of them. The first was the What's in a Name Challenge. I had also done this one in 2012 (and finished it then). The 2014 categories were:

1. A reference to time
2. A position of royalty
3. A number written in letters
4. A forename or names
5. A type or element of weather

A bonus 6th category was added later: A book with a school subject in the title.

I started, but didn't finish, three books that would have fit. Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins for #1, The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais for #3 and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell for #4. I could make an argument for #2 with American Gods by Neil Gaiman (Gods are royalty, right?). I will say that I got the bonus category simply because I'm a homeschooling mom. I've read MANY books with a "school subject" in the title... actual school books!  LOL

We won't even talk about the Color Coded Reading Challenge.  I know I finished one that fit with black or white: The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

Looking back at my Goodreads year in review, it's pretty sad. I am officially stating now that I WILL READ more books in 2015. And not just kids' books to Risa. Books for me. Books to escape into. Books to learn from. Books to laugh out loud with. And to that end, with the potential of a new year laid before me, I am signing up for a couple reading challenges for 2015.

I have always enjoyed the What's in a Name Challenge so it's a given. The categories this year are:

  1. A word including ‘ing’ in it 
  2. A colour 
  3. A familial relation 
  4. A body of water 
  5. A city 
  6. An animal 
What suggestions do you have for any of these categories?

My second challenge will be the 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge by Bookish.  

2015TBR

I get so excited about all the new books I hear about (and get from the library usually), that I forget about the books already sitting on my bookshelves that go dusty and unread. I'm going to be modest and just go for the Firm Handshake category of 1 - 10 books. This challenge also features Read-a-Longs which I have never done before that hopefully that will keep me somewhat on task. 

What reading challenges, if any, are you planning to join this year?





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mindfulness & Dental Hygiene

I LOVE the Kids Activities Blog. Their posts are ones I almost always read when they pass through my overly full Feedly stream. One recent post really struck a cord. The title of the post, "Taking Care of Children Means Taking Care of Mothers", is a quote by Thích Nhất Hạnh, a Buddhist monk, author and peace activist. It's an idea we hear all the time and we know, in theory, is true and a good philosophy to have, but in the practical day-to-day existence of running here, there and everywhere to care for our families, taking care of mom doesn't happen nearly often enough.

In a nutshell, the article talks about how mindfulness and loving kindness practices are ideal ways to help take care of yourself as a mother. I would like to remember to practice mindfulness daily. I've tried to form a meditation habit. I know vaguely what a loving kindness practice looks like but haven't made the time to learn as much as I'd like. Some days I do better than others. Last night, while I was dutifully brushing my teeth, it occurred to me that this is an ideal time to squeeze at least 4 minutes of mindfulness into every day. We have all heard (over and over and over again) that brushing for 2 minutes, twice a day, is an ideal way to keep our chompers healthy. How many of us actually do it? More and more research shows that healthy teeth are linked to overall health. Isn't four minutes a day worth helping protect our mental health, physical health and our teeth... responsible for helping us eat all sorts of yummy things?! Next time you brush, lean against the sink, close your eyes and practice a little mindfulness while you brush your way to serenity and clean teeth. Let me know in the comments how it goes!


P.S. While you are following the link to the American Dental Association's site, be sure to enter to win a Hermey Prize Package!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Who makes Santa's presents?

Announcing my HOLIDAY WORKSHOPS! We all love to receive handmade gifts but, as home educators, that usually means WE are the ones who help make our own gift. I'm offering workshops during the holiday season where your children will be able to make, and wrap, a gift for you or another loved one while you get a couple hours to shop in beautiful Lee's Summit. Private sessions are available if you want to coordinate childcare with friends for dinner out. More details can be found on the Signup Genius:http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090d4ea4a72fa46-holiday

This picture is a couple years old... but I couldn't resist. Aren't they cute?!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Car Activities for Travel

My kids love to fight. I'm not sure if it's the four year age difference, the gender difference or just a deep desire to drive their sibling-inexperienced parents CRAZY. I have a sister ten years old and Jason has a half brother nine years younger so neither of us has ANY experience in sibling rivalry.

When we were planning our big trip to Disney World last month, I knew I was going to have to pull out all the stops to keep them occupied and minimize arguing on the long drive to Florida (and back). I stalked Pinterest, Google, my Feedly blog feed, everywhere to gather together ideas for how to keep them busy. 

All told I spent maybe $70 on everything, including extra special snacks. Once I was done shopping, I gathered everything together and wrapped each project in plain paper (I used bulk Uhaul wrapping paper leftover from our move). I numbered each package and kept notes so I knew what was in each package before they opened it. Some packages required daylight and some were better for evening so I wanted to guide those choices. In addition, there were some duplicates and I didn't want them to open the same things back to back. I stored everything in the "hole" in the floor of our minivan. 




They also had their 3DSs, a DVD player with lots of movies and half the library worth of books but those have already proven to not be enough to avoid the fighting on road trips. At every stop, I would let them each pick out one package. Most of the projects would keep them busy for an hour plus. And the best part, the only fighting was when they were playing their 3DSs together and one was upset that the other was "cheating" (i.e., winning). Since it was really easy to take the 3DSs away, the fighting was kept to a minimum. 

To help keep everything more organized, I gave each kid a small cookie sheet (also from the dollar store) to use as a (magnetic!) lap desk. We also picked up and put away things at every stop. 

Here is the list:

Pre-packaged Items

Items from this list may vary for you. These were pre-packaged mostly complete. I found these at the Dollar Tree, Big Lots and the Dollar Spot at Target. 
  1. Magic Kits - There were two different sets and I wrapped them together so each kid had one to play with. These were simple rope tricks, disappearing ball tricks, etc. with instructions. 
  2. Sticker books 
  3. Word find books
  4. Sudoku books
  5. Create-a-Town Sticker Scene Activity Sets
  6. Matching game
  7. Miniature 4x6 puzzles
  8. Classic Activity/Coloring Pages pads (I think they are the same ones I had as a kid)
  9. Learn to Draw workbooks from the school supply section
  10. Science Trivia card game
  11. Lanyard jewelry making kit

Toys & Fun Snacks
  1. Candy jewelry - this didn't last long as an activity but it's not the sort of thing the kids get often so it was still very popular. 
  2. Squishy critters - those rubbery, squishy toys that stretch a LOT. These had lights inside them. My kids LOVE playing with these things. 
  3. Glow sticks - These made for GREAT after dark fun during those last few boring hours. I let them listen to the dance station on Pandora and they had their own mini "dance" party in the backseat. 
  4. Light-up Rings - Same concept as the glow sticks

Craft / Creative Projects

  1. Post-it notes - to make art. Canvases for post-it note art can include the cookie sheet lap desk, blank paper or even the car windows. 
  2. Pipe cleaners - I don't know about your house, but at mine, I have to hide any pipe cleaners I don't want acted upon by children. They LOVED having a large supply to play with to their hearts' content. 
  3. Colorful paper clips - to hook end to end for all sorts of creative, imaginative play. 
  4. Aluminum foil - probably the most popular item of the trip. A whole roll to sculpt as they wished.
  5. Balls of yarn - my kids love finger knitting and used up many balls of yarn knitting away. 
  6. Squiggle cards & a box of markers - I saw this idea at the Make and Takes blog. 
  7. Travel Scavenger Hunt - Found at free.puzzles.net. I printed on card stock but these could also be laminated to use over and over. 
  8. Sticker Story books - I made a half dozen mini books (out of a single sheet of paper, instructions found here).  I wrapped them with sheets of Halloween stickers for the kids to make story books with the stickers.
  9. Would You Rather? Cards - printables found at The Measured Mom
  10. Fruit Loops & Yarn - I found Fruit Loops cereal already packaged in round bowls at Big Lots. I paired those with balls of bright orange yarn for cereal jewelry making.
  11. Origami books from the library & a stack of origami paper
  12. How to Draw books from the library & new drawing pads from the craft store
  13. Play dough & a few play dough tools 
  14. Legos - we made travel containers out of old wood wine boxes a few years ago. We cut large Lego plates to size and glued them to the slide out top of the wine box. 
Seat Back Supplies 

Both of the kids have seat back organizers. I stashed the following supplies into each of their organizers before we hit the road. 
  1. Scissors
  2. Colored pencils & crayons
  3. Tape
  4. Pens & pencils
  5. Erasers
  6. Pencil sharpener
  7. Water bottles
  8. Snacks
  9. Headphones
  10. Gum
Bonus Ideas 

I thought of these but didn't have the chance to organize them for this trip. 
  1. Marshmallows & pretzel sticks - snack and engineering project in one
  2. Lacing cards 
  3. Embroidery books from the library plus fabric, floss & other supplies
  4. Finger puppets
  5. Funky scissors, construction paper & tape
My kids enjoyed everything. I had them rate each item out of 5 stars and most things got 4 or 5. The preteen boy gave the sticker scenes from Dollar Tree only 3 stars but that was the only thing that didn't get good reviews. We didn't get to everything I had packed so I have put everything left away for our next road trip. I hope these ideas help you keep the peace on your next road trip!






Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Newest Norburys

For her 7th birthday, my daughter really, REALLY wanted a pet. We already have two dogs and an old cat so I didn't want to add any more of the larger, four-footed variety of pet. We discussed Guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, geckos, frogs and more. She wanted a pet who would interact with her and that she could play with. After lots of library books and many questions to Travis at the local Petco, we settled on rats. We adopted two who were already a year old.  Meet Messi & Kiwi. They are brothers and VERY sweet. They LOVE, LOVE, LOVE walnuts and playing with the kids.



Rats get a bad wrap because of their wild relatives, but pet rats have been domesticated for so long, they are really almost a whole different animal (though they are still the same species as the wild brown rat, Rattus norvegicus). They are very dedicated and trusting of their humans.. trusting to the point that having a pet rat involves a higher stewardship to their safety. They trust us implicitly and will eat anything we offer them. Another example with our two is that they have no fear of our dogs... though they really should fear our standard poodle. We just lock her out of the room or the house when they are out.

If you are considering a pet for your child, look into rats. They are very sweet, can learn tricks and are easy to care for.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Multi-Child Discount

It just occurred to me that a multi-child discount would be useful for my homeschool classes. I am now offering a discount of 25% off your total bill if you sign up more than one child. Children must live in the same household and must be siblings, half-siblings or step-siblings to qualify. The discount can be applied across multiple classes. In other words, the children do not have to be attending the same classes.

And, remember, childcare for younger siblings is available for most sessions so you can use the opportunity to get some errands run... or just go have a quiet child-free cup of coffee at one of the many nearby coffee shops in Lee's Summit.


Many thanks to CWH for letting me use an image of her multiple children for this post.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Homeschool Classes - Fall 2014

When it became apparent that I needed a way to contribute a bit more to our family's bottom line, I pondered, contemplated, mulled over and meditated on what I could do that would fit into my busy schedule. During this time, I found myself in the middle of teaching a class on Andy Warhol and Pop Art to a great group of kids for my homeschool coop. And the light bulb went off! I was already doing the thing that could help with the bottom line... I just needed to rethink it as a business and not just as a coop offering.

With the incredibly unoriginal name HeatherAnne's Homeschool Classes, I am launching my new venture. I'm taking it pretty light this fall with offerings in art and music theory. I will also be taking on a few private piano students. Please take a moment to check out my offerings for fall! And feel free to suggest something! In addition to art and music, I also love teaching math and science and have a law degree. (I'm already thinking of either a high school moot court or Bill of Rights class for the spring).

You can see the fall class offerings at the following link or by clicking on the "Homeschool Classes" tab just under the blog's home page banner. http://foofynotfoofy.blogspot.com/p/homeschool-lessons.html


Monday, June 16, 2014

So what is Forest School?

The first time I ever heard of Forest School was from the following Ted Talk about hackschooling.



The name sounds AWESOME, right? What's not to love about something called Forest School... even though I had no idea what it was. The Wikipedia article was not all that helpful and www.forestschools.com is only really helpful if you live in the UK. And in reality, none of these definitions came to be what our Forest School is like. Every Forest School is different as defined by the varied locales and the individuals who attend. My most promising lead was from my friend Jerritt, who attended Forest School with her kids!... and lives half a country away. So it became evident that if I wanted the Forest School experience for my kids, I was going to have to create it myself.

So then, what is Forest School? It is fun, it is educational, it is freedom to explore, it is turning nature into a self-guided classroom, it is wet, and it is often muddy. The first step to starting a Forest School is to find the right forest. Wild, but maybe not too wild and relatively conveniently located since the idea is to visit the same place year round at least once a month but possibly more often. While many excellent choices were around the KC Metro, since I was going to be the "leader" of this muddy band of nature lovers, I chose a location close to me. The park where we go has a rocky bottomed creek, bluffs full of fun rocks to climb on and lots of beautiful green... all behind a park with ample parking and a play ground. The nature area is hemmed in by the park, a neighborhood and two streets so the kids can safely roam without getting lost. The creek always leads back to where the adults are. On the other hand, when you are in the creek bottom chasing tadpoles, those "civilized" spaces might as well be miles away for they are not intrusive to the peace of the nature area at all. 

We go year round... every second Tuesday and any (bonus) fifth Tuesdays. Rain or shine or snow. (We do skip dangerous weather). Because the creek is in a small dip (it's not really deep enough to be a valley), the temperature there is often warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer and the winds aren't as strong. Once there, the kids just... go. They play. They explore. They swim (even when it's 60 degrees out and the water has only just thawed). They get muddy. They get SOAKED. No agenda, no curriculum, no lesson plan. Nature teaches them. And even the most screen-obsessed kid jumps in with both feet, literally and figuratively. It's a beautiful thing. There are no rules (though parents are encouraged to require a buddy system of exploration). Every family lets their kids explore with the supervision with which they are comfortable. If I have an interested audience, I'll point out different plants and explain their medicinal and culinary uses. But mostly, it's all kid lead exploration. And in a couple hours, worn out and wet, we'll ascend from the creek bed reconnected a bit to nature and to ourselves. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lorde - "Royals" Parody | Kansas City "Royals"





LOVE LOVE! Especially entertaining when you know that Lorde was influenced by a picture of Kansas City Royal's legend George Brett when she wrote her song.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Easter Basket Ideas

I really try to avoid useless tchotchkes as much as possible when gift buying for my kids. I realize this is an idealistic concept and we still wind up with Happy Meal toys, dollar store toys, thrift store toys, yard sale toys, etc. In terms of toy store toys, I have mostly succeeded at having the kids pick out a few main categories of toys and sticking to them. Legos and My Little Pony, for instance, are held in sizable collections in this house, but we don't add a new "series" with every La La Loopsy or Littlest Pet Shop that crosses our path.


Sticking to a few collections for each kid makes holiday shopping much easier, but when it comes time for an Easter basket, it's fun to FILL, FILL, FILL those big baskets. You don't have to fill them with future clutter though. Here are some ideas to help you fill those baskets with more thought and value and less cheap junk.

1) Sandals or Flip Flops - Easter is around the start of spring and, if your winter has been like ours, your (and your kids') definition of sandal weather will certainly have loosened greatly from the first cold days of last autumn. 


2) Gardening Tools - My kids LOVE to help me in the garden and I love to have them, but I'm not a big fan of my favorite tools getting lost or left out in the elements. 

3) Reusable Water Bottles - We all know disposable plastic water bottles are NOT great for the environment or our pocket books. Invest in some BPA-free plastic or stainless steel bottles so you can be earth friendly and economical on the go.  

4) Kites - It's time! Might as well make some good use of the strong spring winds. 

5) Art Supplies - One can never have too many art supplies. A fresh box of crayons or colored pencils with some fun new coloring books can make for a lovely spring day outside in the sun.

6) Books & DVDs - Books are always a winner in our house. Disney's hottest new flick is also winging its way to us following its March 18th DVD release... now whether or not it MAKES it to Easter for a basket gift is another story. Maybe you'll be better at waiting than I likely will. 


7) Fun Band-Aids... with no rules attached. My kids both love to use band-aids with abandon, but I usually put the kibosh on emptying out the First Aid stash for doctoring their stuffed animals. Their own box of fun designs can be quite thrilling. 

8) Bubble Bath - This is something we buy anyway but for a special occasion like this, I am more likely to spring for the Hello Kitty bottle and not just what is cheapest. 

9) While we're on bubbles... Bubbles - Warmer weather and windy days make for perfect conditions to warm up those bubble blowing lips that have been hibernating all winter. 


10) Sunblock - This one may not be as much fun but it is necessary, especially as warmer days mean more time in the sun. Add some fun colored zinc sunblock and the boring bottle won't be noticed quite as much. 

11) Sunglasses - Most adults wouldn't dare leave the house without their shades and yet our kids do it all the time. Sunglasses aren't just for the comfort of keeping the glare out of our eyes... they are very important to eye health

12) Coupon for a Date with Mom and/or Dad - Experiences are the best gifts of all. Movie tickets, skate rink passes, a painting or photography class... the ideas are endless. Check out deal sites like Groupon for date night deals to spend with your kids. 

Notice I didn't list candy at all. I'm not a Scrooge... my kids will get some candy. But with a basket filled of so many other FUN things, there isn't much room left for loading it with sugar. I'll spend my money on better quality, fair trade chocolate, rather than loading up on bags and bags of generic jelly beans and chocolate eggs.  


These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Easter doesn't have to be another holiday filled with plastic junk. With a little thought and no more money than a pre-made basket, you can make a wonderful basket for your kids. I hope you have fun creating a one-of-a-kind surprise for your children. 



Monday, March 17, 2014

BlogLovin

If you are a BlogLovin user for your blog feed, you can follow Foofy * Not Foofy but clicking the following link. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Girl Scout Cookie Booth Sign

If you've missed me these last couple weeks, it's because I have been up to my eyeballs in Girl Scout cookies and cookie booths. My daughter is a Daisy this year with the only homeschool troop in our council (which was surprising to me, given how many homeschoolers are in our council area). The fun thing for us is that we get to have cookie booths at times when other Girl Scouts are in school. Every Friday this month, we'll be a popular lunch spot selling Girl Scout cookies and helping our daughters develop all the skills that come with that.

I am the Troop Cookie Manager. I am SO thankful this is our first year and we are a small troop (only 18 girls). I cannot imagine how the cookie managers handle the big troops. Our 18 girls pre-sold 165 CASES of cookies and we've already picked up another 50 from the cupboard. As troop manager, I am in charge of organizing the booth times and locations AND decorating the booth. Two weeks ago, I had girls and moms over to our house to make the booth decorations. We made a cute sign (instructions below), a felt pennant banner that reads "Cookies" and painted flower pots to hold "cookie flowers". I apologize for the lack of "in process" pictures. It was a bit hectic.

#1 Favorite Cookies - Thin Mints Wearable Sign


Materials:
Large piece of cardboard - need to cut circle with 20-24" diameter.
Brown felt, 1 yard 
White, black, yellow & pink felt, small sheets or scrap 
Green satin ribbon, wide
Brown ribbon, wide
White fabric paint
Green pipe cleaner
Ribbons, 8-10" pieces, 2 or 3 styles
Hot glue gun
Glue sticks
Pencil, nail or another pencil & a pipe cleaner for drawing circle on cardboard
Box blade

1) Start with drawing your circle shape on your cardboard. Using a yardstick, find your approximate center of your circle and poke the nail in. Set your pencil on the outer edge of where you want your circle. Connect the pencil and the nail with the pipe cleaner. You might need to splice two together if you are making a bigger circle. I find that pipe cleaner are easier to attach to your center point and pencil than trying to knot string. Holding the nail in one hand, use the pencil to draw your circle. Cut out the circle with a box blade. 

Or just watch the quick video I made on how to make the circle.


2) Lay the circle on top of your brown felt. Cut out the felt so that you have a circle about 2" wider than the cardboard. One of the Brownie Scouts did this with supervision but she did a GREAT job. 

3) Using hot glue, glue down the felt to the back of the cardboard. Don't glue as you go. It's easier to get a tight circle if you glue every few inches, leaving some loose, then go back and fold and glue the loose sections. 

4) Cut out large white circles and small black circles for the eyes and pink felt for the mouth. These were all done by Girl Scouts. A Brownie Scout did the eyes and a Junior Scout did the mouth. For the eyes, we used a a ribbon spool to trace the white and a small bottle of acrylic paint for the black. For the mouth, I had the scout draw out the mouth design she wanted on a piece of scrap paperboard (an empty cereal box to be exact), then cut it out and use it to trace her design. 

5) Cut the wide green ribbon in a sash length. Have someone with good handwriting write "Thin Mints" in white fabric paint. A mom did this for our troop. 

6) Create a "prize" ribbon for your #1 most popular Girl Scout cookie. One of our Juniors took on this task with scrap felt, scrap ribbons and, with some assistance, hot glue.  

7) (optional) Make a big loop bow out of the rest of the wide green ribbon. I should make a tutorial on that too. Another blog post. 

8) Once the fabric paint is dry, hot glue on the green sash, prize ribbon, and loop bow. I also glued a length of brown ribbon at the top so the girls can wear this when working the booth.  


This picture was taken before the booth was entirely finished. The table cloth edge was serged to finish it. We also glued pictures of the different cookies in the center of each of the smaller flowers (front & back) and added colorful googly eyes. In use, the flower pots didn't like to stay upright in the wind (even filled with marbles). We now turn them over and stick the flower stakes in the hole in the bottom. The girls usually hold the big flowers and wave them to passers-by along with the Thin Mint sign.  









Monday, February 24, 2014

Product Review: Style Selections LED Color Changing Night Light with Auto On/Off

The amount of little things we had to buy to "fit" into our new (MUCH bigger) house was mind boggling... more hand soap, trash cans, toilet paper, etc. Night lights were HIGH on the list. Our old house was so tiny that a single night light in our bathroom was all the illumination we needed in the dark of night. Not so in this house. Dark hallways and stairways and bathrooms were in abundance. A very early trip following our move was to Lowes to buy night lights. We went with LED for the energy efficiency. The price has come down so far on LEDs that they really weren't much more than the traditional incandescents .

We bought a four pack of basic on/off LED nightlights for the bathrooms, a power failure indicator nightlight that can also be used as a flashlight, and this color changing LED.  We got the flashlight variety for the downstairs hall outside our bedroom. The color changing LED is upstairs in the hall between the kids' rooms. I really like the color changing one! I would have loved to have this light as a kid. While our "flashlight" night light is a bit bright for a dark hallway in the middle of the night, the color changing night light is just the right brightness for safely walking in a darkened house. And both kids enjoy zoning out at night to the slow, steady change in color reflecting off the hall walls. If you need a night light, you should go with energy efficient and you might as well have one that is pretty and fun too. Highly recommended.


video

Edited to add a static picture, not just a video. 



Thursday, February 20, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Front Door Decor

So last month found me throwing together a last minute Valentines wreath with random supplies I found around the house. That one turned out so well, that I decided to try my hand at a St. Patrick's Day front door piece.

Needed Supplies: cardboard, paper plate, gold foil "grass", craft foam or cardstock shamrock shapes, ribbon (for hanging), and acrylic paints: green (two shades), black, sky blue, and whatever shades you'd like to use for a rainbow. I used purple, medium blue, green, yellow and red. I really like orange too but I was OUT (OUT! as if?!) of orange acrylic paint.

Additional supplies (these are things most people will already have on hand): box blade or some such to cut cardboard, paint brushes, glue gun and glue sticks.


For this project, I measured the backing cardboard to fit the supplies I was using. I started by tracing the paper plate, then laying out the shamrocks around the plate outline to get the dimensions I needed. I marked the edges of the shamrocks on the cardboard with pencil. Once I set them aside, I then "connected the dots" on the circle those marks made. That outer circle is the one you want to cut out with the box blade. 


Cut the paper plate in half.  Use it to trace the top of the "pot" section of the center circle. Paint that section and the outside of the paper plate black. I missed getting a picture of my adorable daughter painting the paper plate for me. She did an excellent job. Next paint your rainbow. I started with the purple and painted one arcing stripe. Paint a blue stripe next to the purple, then green, yellow and red. You get the idea.  :-)  Fill in the rest of the sky with blue. 


Paint the outer circle with green. I used metallic green, which went nicely with the sparkly shamrocks. I like sparkly. 


Hot glue down the plate and shamrocks. I recommend laying out the shamrocks before you attach them so you make sure the spacing is good. Unless you're really nerdy then measure off the circumference, divide by the number of shamrocks you have and space them exactly. I like the eyeball-it method personally (even though we are a really nerdy family).  



Glue your ribbon (or cut up T-shirt in my case) to the back. Make sure your volunteer knows what you are asking when you ask if the ribbon is centered. As you can see, mine is slightly off kilter. I love you, Melanie! But I was asking if the ribbon was centered, not whether the whole thing looked good or not. LOL. Stuff some gold foil shreds into your pot and VOILA! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Introducing Foofy * Not Foofy's Newest Venture



We are a crafting family. Okay, well, my son, daughter and I are crafty. My husband is good at building things but he'll say he does moose work. I make it pretty. I always liked a variety of different crafts but during and since the time I managed my grandmother's jewelry store, I started focusing more on jewelry design and creation. My best friend, Melanie, also likes to design jewelry. She does the CRAZY (to me) bead weaving. For both of us, it's our down time... our "me" time and, as often as our schedules can swing it, our "us" time. We can each only wear so many pieces of jewelry though. We are more prolific creators than we are fashionistas to wear our own designs.

So, a couple Saturdays ago, over coffee and chocolate (we'd just been to Downtown Lee's Summit's Chocolate Crawl), we decided to find a venue to sell off some of our creations and maybe fund our habit a bit. Given Melanie's bread winner status and 9 to 5 (more like 7 to 7) job, we decided I would start the store and manage it on Etsy. So... here 'tis. My two kids also hope to contribute some of their crafts. Jasper likes woodworking and will be adding some hand carved plant markers and dibblers soon. My daughter, Risa, is making catnip mice and sachets.

Yes, there is only one listing right now. I managed to get myself into THREE different volunteer efforts that are all requiring my attention at the same time at the moment. I am the cookie manager for my daughter's Girl Scout troop and Booth sales month is next month. This is the fifth year I have coordinated Downtown Lee's Summit Music in the Park and this is the time when I'm active booking bands for all summer. And I didn't RUN the other way when my dear friend Scott asked if I was willing to chair the Depot Stage at Downtown Days... Streets Alive! in June. So I'm eyeball deep in scheduling talent, etc. for that venue right now as well.

I plan to schedule a weekly post on the blog to highlight the new items listed in the store. I have a dozen items sitting on my desk waiting to be listed. I just need to find the time to get them listed while keeping up with my other commitments. Hopefully something will catch your eye in the store.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Review: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver



I have struggled to write this review. This book was just "meh" for me. The first section of the book while Missy/Taylor was still in Kentucky felt oddly cobbled together. The focus on Newt Hardbine seemed out of place even then but by the end of the book when the character wound up getting but a passing mention, it really felt like a forgotten story line that never came to conclusion.

I am not a big Barbara Kingsolver fan. I don't dislike her work and I enjoyed The Poisonwood Bible but she is not an author I seek out to read. This was a book club selection for me. This definitely read like a first novel. There were a few truck-size holes in the plot that brought me up short as I was reading with their jarring presence.

I think I struggled writing this because I know so many people who really like this book. I won't say I hated it but it was just okay. Nothing great. Throughout the book the characters seemed to all just blindly accept their fate or lot without question or very much emotion. It was exceptionally hard to suspend disbelief at many points along the plot line, especially when Taylor just drives off with a baby in her car with no internal dialog or seeming care. As I mentioned already, it's as if she blindly accepted her lot without question. For someone who does NOT (I repeat, does NOT) read romance novels, I still apparently like some fiery, passionate people in my novels. The dialog often centered on how strong other characters perceived Taylor to be and yet most of her internal dialog and actions didn't really add up to a strong character to me.

If you are a Kingsolver fan, I think reading her first novel would be a good thing. You definitely see the seeds of her later, more refined style. I'd love to hear why other people love this book so much. So, what did I miss?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Simple Valentine's Day "Wreath"

As you know, we moved the first of November into our dream home. I feel blessed every day that we found such a great house and one that we could AFFORD! However, I recommend NEVER moving right at the start of holiday season. As if we had a chance of ever getting fully unpacked in a timely manner (does anyone ever actually get fully unpacked?), moving right before the holidays means a lot of boxes get stashed in corners or the basement and forgotten. And while my Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and other major holiday decor all was packed in neatly labeled boxes, the less common holidays, like Valentines, wound up having decor strewn through a myriad of randomly packed boxes from our old basement.

In other words... I can't find my Valentine's wreath for the front door. After a quick search for it and a lack of desire to conduct anything more than a quick search, I started nosing around my craft room (still also mostly in boxes) to see what I could come up with relatively quickly and easily.

First a visit to the kids' downstairs play space that is full of cardboard:


Using newspaper to get a sheet big enough, I made a heart template in the good ol' grade school style... half a heart along the fold to make it symmetrical. I didn't measure the size of the heart beforehand, but just went with what looked right to me. It wound up about 15" high. 



I traced the pattern on my cardboard. Once the outer heart was traced, I drew another heart inside it and cut both hearts out with a box cutter. This is the ONLY time I have ever liked the tile floors in my kitchen.  


At this point, I painted the heart red with basic acrylic paint. Forgot to take a picture of that step.  Since the cardboard will show through in the finished wreath, I didn't want to leave it plain. 


Time for cutting... my finished wreath took the 5 adult-size t-shirts, two bright red and three red tie-dyed left over from another project. Any combination of "Valentine's" colors would do. I just used from the arm holes down to the bottom hem.  


Cut off the bottom hem then cut strips across, about 1.5" to 2" wide. Cut these strips at each end so that you have two strips out of each circle of t-shirt fabric. Start tying. Since I had more tie-dyed shirts, my pattern was two tie-dyed strips, then one red strip. I tied the tie-dyed strips first then the red strip between them so the red sat on top a bit. I used a wider strip of red t-shirt material, cut once into one longer piece, to make the holder.  

TADA!


Not too shabby for a thrown together wreath. 


This project can also be found at the Link Party at Make It and Love It:




Saturday, February 1, 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Blog Recommendation - Wine for the Rest of Us.

Occasionally, I will post recommendations to other blogs. Many will be those of my friends.  Some will just be cool blogs I really enjoy reading. Hopefully these recommendations will help some of my readers find other fun, new and interesting things to read.

This week, I'm giving a shout out to my bandmate, Erik Karlsson, and his new wine blog... the wine blog for non-wine snobs.  Check out Wine for the Rest of Us and let me know what you think.

And since I like to always have a picture with my posts, here's a shot of Erik at our Super Bowl party a few years ago. You're welcome, Erik.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Verrückt in Kansas City



Not just a little no... but HELL NO!  This beast is opening next summer here in Kansas City. I've watched it go up as we headed to Sporting KC games over the last year. And just no... no, nein, niet, ne, non, nahi, ni, abso-freaking-lutely NOT! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

REVIEW: The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, MD and Zoë François


Starting at the title, I was VERY skeptical. I mean, really? Yummy, beautiful homemade bread in 5 minutes a day? Who do they think they're kidding? I have always wanted to bake... to BE someone who BAKES. I even own a top of the line bread machine to help this time-crunched mama (ostensibly) make bread more easily. Even as "easy" as that is, it still just didn't happen all that often. And frankly, bread machine crusts are just not the same as bread baked in the oven.

Skeptical or not, I really wanted to believe that I could fit baking into my daily life. The introduction did nothing to make it sound any less "too good to be true". Then they shared their secrets: 1) "Mix enough dough for several loaves and store it in the refrigerator" and 2) "Pre-mixed, pre-risen, high moisture dough keeps well in the refrigerator." (my emphasis). This dough is WET and as a result, requires no kneading, no proofing the yeast, no resting/rising/resting, no punching down (in fact, NEVER punch it down), no stress or fuss whatsoever. With my trusty kitchen scale and my Kitchenaid mixer, I can put a large batch of dough together in under 15 minutes. The only thing I have to do each day for fresh bread is pull off a ball of dough, shape and bake. There is some resting and baking time involved, of course, but the actual active work required takes mere minutes. I have even cooked a few loaves in the slow cooker (!!!) with zero resting time. You do need to put a slow cooker loaf under a broiler for a minute to crisp up the top but this is a super SUPER easy way to make already super easy bread.


I usually get books from the library first before forking out the cash for them. I will definitely be adding this one to my cookbook collection permanently. They also have written "Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" and "Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in 5 Minutes a Day". This review is for the 2nd edition of their original book and I plan to buy this one as it includes whole grain and flatbread recipes in it, as well as recipes for pretzels, pain d'epi, pumpernickel, rye, beignets, naan and so much more.  There is a sizable gluten-free section as well! If you want to fit baking into your life, do yourself a favor and get this book. I'm not sure your waistline will thank me but your taste buds definitely will. 



Thursday, January 16, 2014

REVIEW: Eyestandia, or The way other people might see us By Lynn Shroll

The following is a guest post from my awesome husband, Jason Norbury.


Thanks to NetGalley.com for early access to this book.

What would happen if the descendants of the last survivors from Earth, looking for sanctuary, finally reach another civilized planet?

I like the idea of a good, rough satire of the powerful. Afflict the comfortable and all that. I was looking forward to settling down and getting pointed criticism of our modern culture, similar as the British culture is to our American culture. The criticism was there, and it was decidedly pointed.

It was also extremely heavy-handed in the beginning of the book. The first section of the book felt more like a screed against unrestrained capitalism than a satirical examination of our flaws as humans (and bankers). This was done surely to set the stage for the events that followed, but in the main made the first section of the book rather tiresome to get through.

The middle of the book, exploring the development of new culture on the bones of the old, was a good and, I would guess, a fair estimate of what would transpire if people of Earth, warts and all, were suddenly transported to a nearly Utopian world without need or want. But again, it fell short of the promised satire.

The twist to reach a conclusion in this book was clever, if a bit of a reach, and had probably more satirical potential that was realized. Overall, however, I just found the story rather flat, and it would have been difficult to recover from a very preachy and overdone beginning.



Monday, January 13, 2014

REVIEW: Three Heinemann Read & Learn Stay Healthy! Books

Stay Healthy! What Should We Eat? by Angela Royston
Stay Healthy! Why Do We Need to Drink Water? by Angela Royston
Stay Healthy! Why Do We Need to be Active? by Angela Royston



I picked these up for some social studies work for my 6 year old daughter. As a reminder, I homeschool my daughter as well as my 10 year old son. Honestly, I don't remember how I happened to get these three. I know I requested them from the library so I picked them up without having really looked inside them. I didn't know until I got them home that they are readers (books meant for the child to read himself or herself). They were too juvenile for my daughter for me to read to her (which is what I was looking for). She could have read them herself with some assistance.

What Should We Eat? This book was published in 2006 and yet it used the term "starchy foods" instead of carbohydrates. It used other appropriate terms such as protein, fats and sugars so I'm not sure why the choice to use "starchy foods" instead of the more appropriate (and, today, more commonly used) carbohydrates.

Why Do We Need to Drink Water? Fairly basic information regarding why we need water. It did leave out the fact that our bodies are made up mostly of water. While it did enumerate various body fluids for which we need water (tears, mucus, even pee), it never mentioned that we're really just one big vessel of water. I know my own kids find this sort of trivia entertaining so I noticed that omission. I think that fact also drives home the point fairly well that we need to make sure we stay adequately hydrated.

Why Do We Need to be Active? My one complaint about this book is that it doesn't actually answer the question it poses "What Happens If You Are Not Active?" all that well. It just states simply that your body gets weaker. There are so many more reasons to stay active and so many more consequences to not being active. Regular exercise helps kids feel less stressed, build strong bones and joints, pay better attention at school, and more.

All in all, these books are fine readers if that is what you are looking for. They fall pretty short on educating the reader about the importance of making healthy food choices, drinking plenty of water and staying active. I really feel like they could and should have done both. The books did pose questions and engage the reader to answer them. If read with a parent or educator, these questions can lead to further discussion and learning. My daughter and I whipped through these three books quite quickly and now we're on the hunt to find books with more in depth information on the same topics.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Easy Kitchen "Warmer" with Bonus



I love, love, LOVE my new house. But this recent cold snap has exposed just how COLD the kitchen is in winter. I cook dinner almost every night and do other "warming" activities in the kitchen but it just doesn't stay warm unless I'm in the middle of a four-course meal cooking session. And that isn't happening as often as I need to not freeze in the kitchen.

I decided to give the ol' pot of water trick a try. Humidity plus heat. Win-win. Right? Why not also perk it up a bit with some smell good. I decided to see just how little of the smell good stuff I could get by with and still have a lovely fragrance. This is a 3 quart saucepan with a small piece of cinnamon bark, four cloves and two already-juiced lemon halves. It smelled divine and made a noticeable difference in the temperature and comfort level in the kitchen!