I'm not sure I've mentioned this before, but I love Swagbucks. Basically, you just sign up and go there to search whenever you need to "Google" something. They have a search bar, and you are awarded points according to whatever you searched for. For example, I once typed in "Obama Election" and got 5 points! On average, I get a point or two a day. However, your points do add up and then you redeem them for prizes. The site has a ton of prizes, but I am a big fan of the Amazon gift cards. You can get a $5 Amazon card with 45 points. I have gotten a few of these, and it really helps with birthday/Christmas!
So...click on the picture above to start getting some sort-of free rewards! And, oh yeah, I get points when you get points. And then you share with your friends and then you get points. And on and on...and everyone's happy.
P.S. Shameless plugs don't make me happy. They make me feel lame. But everyone is a winner here, right?
Best ZomCom ever! I hope Zombie Comedy becomes an actual genre. I would be so happy.
Top 5 Reasons why I absolutely loved Zombieland: 1.) Only 87 minutes long. Every movie should be this long. Or short. 2.) Bill Murray plays an actor playing a zombie mistaken for an actual zombie. Yep. 3.) What's scarier than a zombie? A clown! What about a zombie clown? 4.) Tallahasee (Woody Harrelson's character) searches for a twinkie the entire movie. He finds a Hostess truck and to his dismay, the truck is full of Hostess Snowballs. Of those, he says he hates them. Not the flavor, the consistency. So general coconut hatred is reaffirmed! 5.) Despite the extreme gruesomeness and the whole escape-from-zombies plot, the true theme of this movie is finding joy in the little things, like the people in your life or a simple favorite snack. That message reverberates at the end, so you leave the movie feeling all warm and fuzzy.
"First girl I let in to my life, and she's tries to eat me" Columbus
I have been thinking lately of how my mom made me a Zombie Survival Kit for my birthday, which was so awesome. The zombie survival guides you see at the bookstore are actually bestsellers. So, thinking of zombies and hashing out what to do during a zombie apocalypse (is it just me and Fox that has this conversation on date night?) is actual very useful in preparing for any extreme emergency. Around the time I was thinking of this, I found my old quote book, where I had copied this:
"We're not just afraid of predators; we're transfixed by them, prone to weave stories and chatter endlessly about them, because fascination creates preparedness, and preparedness, survival. In a deeply tribal sense, we love our monsters". Edward Wilson, biologist.
So, sometimes it is good to draw out your zombie escape plan with your husband on an Olive Garden napkin.
Remember my post about being excited about coconut? I still love coconut. Today, I had to make a dessert for a church function, and I decided to make coconut cupcakes--just a simple chocolate cake mix with a yummy, homemade coconut frosting on top. So, I took them to church...and, well, I guess people are just not as into coconut as I am. I have a whole tray of cupcakes sitting here. I guess that's breakfast!
What people are into are these yummy chocolate chip cookies that I make a few times a month. Everyone loves them, so I will share the recipe. These aren't the healthiest, but they are no-fail. And the wheat part makes you feel less guilty!
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe from Betty Crocker) 3/4 cup granulated sugar 3/4 cup packed brown sugar 1 cup butter or margarine, softened 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 egg 2 cups Gold Medal® whole wheat flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1. Heat oven to 375ºF. 2. Mix sugars, butter, vanilla and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. 3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.
Things that make me happy: anyone pro-natural childbirth! I first blogged about the documentary Pregnant in America a year and a half ago but I hadn't watched it until today. I found a link to watch it online for free here: so I used naptime to watch it.
The verdict? Amazing. Best birth video/documentary I've ever seen. Less gory, less anti-hospital, less shock-tactic than a certain other recent documentary on birth. Pregnant in America follows a couple (the filmmaker and his wife) as they research birth options and hospital birth practices while they are expecting their first birth. There are interviews with all of my favorite people in the natural birth community, including Kerry Tuschoff, who I spent four days with this month as she trained me and 25 others to teach her method of hypnosis for childbirth called Hypnobabies.
I loved that this film documented birth practices in Holland and Germany. Probably not a good idea to keep watching docs if I want to continue happily living in America.
Most importantly, I loved that this film had a "You create your own reality" message, which is a central tenet of Hypnobabies and a general fact of life.
This film is not shocking. It is thoughtful, educational, and beautiful. It is just part of an underground movement to change the way birth is done here, and I'm so excited to get to be a part of it (when I start teaching Hypnobabies...soon!).
Okay, I saw this ruffle pillow tutorial and loved it! I had a sad looking pillow lying around that doesn't match anything in our house, so I decided to make a slipcover with ruffles for it: and an hour later I had this: Cost: $0! Although the pillow is still misshapen, at least it's cuter, right?
We are having a coconut summer! For me, it all started with buying this organic coconut oil: Coconut oil has become increasingly more popular lately. Coconut oil is thought to be the healthiest natural fat next to mother's milk. Both contain lauric acid, which helps the immune system. Coconut oil is also good for the skin, digestive system, cholesterol levels-- and more.
For me, though, I bought it to use as natural deodorant. The recipe: 1/4 c. cornstarch 1/4 c. baking soda 5 Tbsp. coconut oil
This makes a ton, and it works! I smell so tropical, too! (Note: keep in a cool place if you don't want liquefied deodorant!)
I also saw these Coconut M & M's and bought a bag (or several): Not so much for the coconut at first, but because I am a sucker for any limited edition candy, like Hershey's kisses flavors and such. I have to say that I don't really like M&Ms...but these were so so yummy...and cute! They have just a subtle flavor of coconut on the outer shell with chocolate inside.
Finally, this book--I had to check it out after seeing my sister's very non-fad-diet mother-in-law reading this and then rubbing coconut oil all over herself and others:
It is a really interesting book with a lot of scientific evidence supporting the healing properties of the coconut.
So, although I have yet to actually cook with it, there is nothing to fear about the 90% saturated fat content coconut oil. It is 50% lauric acid and also has been shown to reduce heart disease. It is so good for your hair and skin, smells delicious, melts like crazy, and is all natural--so go get your tropic on!!
I recently finished "Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life" By Jenna Woginrich. I loved it so much that I read it in an evening. The author, Jenna, discusses her experiences with her first homestead and explains how to get started with your own sustainable lifestyle, even if you're living in a tiny apartment (like moi).
As someone who can bake her own bread and sew the random pair of pajama pants, this book about reviving useful skills like bee-keeping, gardening, and yogurt-making really spoke to me. I think because I have been living in such a small space for so long. I really would love a backyard to garden and would even go for having chickens, goats, and rabbits.
Urban homesteading (basically living the farm life while you live in a big city) is a huge movement right now. I love this quote, from the authors of Urban Homestead, : "Urban homesteading is about life – it is a way of life founded on pleasure, not fear. Our preparedness comes not so much through what we have, but what we know. We are recollecting the almost-lost knowledge of our great-grandparents, those most essential of human skill sets: how to tend to plants, how to tend to animals, and how to tend ourselves."
Seeing as I just paid $6 for a couple of cups of Greek yogurt, I'm definitely going down the DIY-path. Now where do I find a pair of Angora rabbits to knit sweaters from?
I have been a little obsessed over Waldorf Dolls lately. They are so cute! Waldorf dolls are used in Waldorf education, which is an educational philosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner that places heavy emphasis on imagination and free-play. Thus, the doll doesn't have much expression, so that the child can use their imagination. These dolls are expensive at over $100 for one, but you can also make your own. I've seen some great tutorials here and here. Or you can buy a kit from Joy's Waldorf Dolls. Here are some of my faves-- This one is from Joy's: --complete with nursing bra! And this one is from Snazzle Craft, which is such an awesome blog. I just love how chubby this little one is--and there is a pattern for his quilt and clothes on the blog. The top picture I showed is part of a Waldorf doll hair tutorial. So cute!
I followed the recipe but made mint frosting. These were so yummy but gigantic! Next time, I am going to make them a lot smaller...or just make the frosting. It was the best frosting I've ever made--just like Mint Creme Oreos--and there is a ton leftover. What to do? (Apparently, suck it straight out of the icing bag, if you're me). The chocolate rush begins. No, he did not eat a whole one--just a bite! It was way too close to bedtime.
I found this awesome, free pattern for Molly Monkey here and wanted to try my hand at it. It was so fun and such a satisfying project. I couldn't find brown corduroy anywhere, so I had to make do with the stripey stuff, which makes it look like a sock monkey. The skirt is made from Moda's Love is in the Air charm pack (uh oh, I really, really like charm packs. They make me want to quilt. Could I ever be a quilter?) I really like hand embroidery, so my hubby (who draws way better than I do) traced an "anime face" on.
Coco loves it, too. This is just seconds before she ripped off the hat and started gnawing on Molly's head.
Happy Mother's Day! As this blog is dedicated to things that make me happy, I want to share one of my favorite quotes, from Marjorie Pay Hinckley:
“It is the mothers of young children I would like to address first. These are golden years for you. These are years when you will probably do the most important work of your lives. Don’t wish away your years of caring for small children. Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans. This is a time of great opportunity for you to build the kingdom. When you teach children to love their Heavenly Father, you have done one of the greatest things you will ever do. If you can be a full-time homemaker, be grateful. If not, you must do what is best for you. I for one have never felt a need to apologize for my role as a full-time homemaker.
“These are busy, busy days for you. I have seen women in all kinds of circumstances—Chinese women working on road repairs, European women working in the fields, Asian women sweeping streets—but it is my opinion that … Mormon women are among the hardest working women in the world. They plant gardens and they bottle the produce; they sew and bargain shop. They go on the heart fund drive. They take dinners to new mothers and the sick in their neighborhoods. They take care of aged parents. They climb Mount Timpanogos with Cub Scouts, go to Little League games, sit on the piano bench while Jennie practices, do temple work, and worry about getting their journals up-to-date. My heart bursts with pride when I see them come into church on Sunday, some as early as 8:30 in the morning, their children all clean and shiny, their arms loaded with supplies, as they head for classes where they teach other women’s children. They scrub their houses with little or no domestic help and then try to be the glamour girl in their husband’s life when he arrives home at night. But remember, my dear young friends, that you are now doing the work that God intended you to do. Be grateful for the opportunity."
Makes Something Cool Everyday in April has ended. What did I think?
Let's see. I attempted to create something every day in April. I made a few baby beanies, some booties, a little pillow, and started cut-outs of a few different handbags. What I learned? Crafting needs inspiration, not deadlines! However, I did discover something about myself. Every day in April, I tried a new recipe without even thinking about it. That is just me. Trying new recipes is something that I get great pleasure out of, even if I won't eat what I'm cooking (I'm kind of picky!). And all of my cooking creations were successes--hooray!
So, right now, my craft boxes have not diminished in size as a result of my completed projects. In fact, the boxes are now overflowing with new projects to complete (oops!). At least my baking supplies have gotten some great use!
I saw mmmcraft's tooth fairy pillow and thought it was so cute! I had to make one for one of my nieces who is consistently losing teeth. The mouth opens up to stow a tooth (and a return reward)! I really didn't know how to embellish this, but I kind of thing it looks cute plain. What do you think?
I just love little sewing projects for babies. They are so fun! Here's the latest:
I love this pattern:
And turned inside out:
Finally, a project worked! I have tried a few patterns for soft baby shoes, and this is by far my favorite. The pattern is from Bare Maked, and it's so simple. It is definitely for a newborn, but I am going to scale the pattern up and try it in a larger size. I just love that these shoes are reversible and don't require interfacing. So, they are super quick to make--definitely a 1 hour project!
I have been trying to create something cool every day, and it hasn't been working too well. All of my creative attempts, except for cooking, have gone terribly wrong. I have a list of projects that I am working on--and it has just seemed that every time I go to finish a project, something happens--the baby refuses to sleep, I run out of hot glue, the fabric is the wrong size, the pattern is confusing, I pick up a book and can't put it down (Fablehaven this time--so good!). But cooking always works for me. In fact, I have tried a new recipe just about every day this month.
This healthy chocolate chip oatmeal cookie is the best recipe yet! So yummy. There is a lot of cinnamon in here, so it almost tastes like a crumb donut. I'm embarrassed to say how many batches of these cookies I've made this month!
Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies 1/4 cup applesauce 2 Tbsp. butter 1/2 cup brown sugar 2 Tbs. white sugar 1 egg 1 tsp. vanilla extract 1 cup whole wheat flour 3/4 tsp. salt (can use 1/2 tsp) 1 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. cinnamon 3/4 c. quick oats 3/4 c. dark chocolate chips 1/3 c. unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together applesauce, butter, and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir flour mixture into first mixture and mix well. Then stir in oats, followed by the chocolate and coconut. Place rounded tsp-full 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet (I always lightly grease mine, but you don't need to). Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden on bottom. Enjoy!
Finally! This little project has taken me several days and several tries. I got this pattern off of Etsy, and it was super tricky. It took me a while to figure it out. Once it was finished, it was seriously way too small to fit baby girl's head (big surprise). In fact, it probably wouldn't have fit a 1 month old's. Grrr. So, I spent a long while merging it with another pattern, finding a different flower pattern, and voila! I started and finished it while watching Ghost Town last night. And it actually fits my baby's huge head. Hooray!
I don't really like how the visor part turned out, so maybe I will tweak the pattern some more once my fingers get a break from the hook-hold stiffness!
Hmm..I am sensing a cake theme to my crafting. I love my "girly sweets charms"! This time, they are in the form of super easy, homemade magnets. I found some scrapbook chipboard embellisments, backed them with adhesive magnets, trimmed them, and sprayed them with gloss finishing spray. Cute, easy, and fun!
Happy Easter! I am still attempting to make something cool everyday, but I have been a little frustrated by a few of my projects. Here's a successful one! Bunny Cake Pops! The idea and recipe is from Bakerella. My sis and I had a marathon session making these on Friday night. They were so fun!
We used strawberry cake mix and strawberry frosting for the cake part. Then, we dipped them in tinted candy melt coating, flavored with lemon zest. Yum! We discovered that they definitely taste better the next day.
Or "my new fave"! Hubby and I have been watching Heroes these past few weeks. Hooray for free TV on DVD rentals at our local library! Anyways, there is a character on there named Hiro, whose story line is all in Japanese. Watching the show, we have really started missing Japan. And bonus points for us that we can understand a lot of the conversation without using subtitles!
Some of the things we miss, we have been kicking ourselves for not bringing back to the U.S. I had planned on bringing back bento kits from the dollar store there for my kids. Alas, our suitcases just couldn't hold any more souvenirs.
Every Day in April! That's this month's craft challenge hosted by Dabbled. Check out that link to learn more about it. Basically, the goal is to strive to make something creative every day, which should be fun. I am taking the challenge, because I have lists of projects and bags of materials laying around my house. I'd say that cleaning up by crafting more is definitely inspiring!
I am a late starter to the challenge, but I worked on these all last week...so I'm counting it! I'm addicted to making taggie blankets. They are so fun, soft, and colorful. I've made a few so far--my daugher loves hers!-- and here is the latest:
Yesterday's Craft: Kimono Booties I have some random sushi-print fabric. When I saw this pattern, I knew how I would use the fabric. This was such a quick, fun project. If baby girl's feet weren't humongous, they would look great on her!
Okay, one of the reasons I am re-activating this blog is to keep updated on all of my favorite blogs without checking all of the links or repeatedly checking my e-mail. So, to the right, you will see a list of my favorite, favorite blogs. These are great, and I definitely recommend checking all of them out at least once. Enjoy!
P.S. Well, don't check them out if you are not in the least bit interested in saving money, making crafts, or cooking. Those are my loves right now.
The baby girl is here! Well, she is 4 1/2 months old now. The long-overdue blog update: the girliness is dispensed. I thought I would be so thrilled with all the girly things that came with having a baby girl, but I have discovered that I'm not quite down with the frilliness. Examples:
The cute baby booties: Yep, after hours of crocheting a cute little 3-6 mo. size pair like the ones in the previous post, my then 2-month old daughter's feet were waaay to big to shove into them.
Little girly dresses: Late in my pregnancy, I started on a cute newborn jumper...and finished it 5 months later. Needless to say, the baby girl by that time was too big for the dress. Also, trying to shove those huge feet into little tights after yet another diaper change is no fun for anyone.
Cute girly headbands: I made a few of these, and I still don't quite understand how to use them. Do you put the headband on the baby's head when you go out in pubilc? Wouldn't it be obstructed by the snow hood baby is still wearing, because it is still snowing? If you use them at home, wouldn't you just have to remove them repeatedly for naps and floor time? I know I wouldn't want my soft head being squeezed by a tight band, but I might go for it if people kept thinking I was a boy.
What I have learned is that your girliness most likely rubs off on your girl. I am definitely not an accessories-wearing, handbag-slinging, high-heeled fashionable lady. I am all about casual comfort. So, that baldish baby in the gray sweatpants and striped socks? That would be my daughter.