Let’s Start Fresh in 2022!

Starting fresh means different things to different friends. For some, it’s New Years Resolutions to Eat Better, Lose Weight, Get Organized, Spend more time on Self-Care. Whatever Starting Fresh means to you, I’m here to help.

For me, Starting Fresh means grabbing new calendars for the kitchen, kid’s rooms, and my room (I have a bulletin board next to my vanity with a wall calendar so I can review each day while I brush my teeth in the morning). I update the calendars each month with appointments, days off school, birthdays, etc. I usually get free calendars in the mail towards the end of the year and use those. For the kitchen, I get a Holiday a Day calendar and use that- It’s a great way to include silly “national” days into the meal plan or weekend plans. Like National Pizza Day (it’s in February) or National Bake Cookies Day (that was yesterday- we’re celebrating today).

Other Ways I Start Fresh Each Year (and keep it going through the year):

  • Inventory my Fridge, Freezer, and Pantry (and donate/share any unwanted still-in-date food). You can buy my inventory sheets here on Etsy.
  • Deep Clean/ Organize one area of the house each week. Start small. I start with the front coat closet.
  • Clean my car out. If you are a parent, you know. I take a laundry basket and a trash bag down to the car, and once the trash is out, and the stuff that needs to go into the house is in the basket (and back upstairs), I take my car to the carwash and pay $20 to have someone else wash and vacuum the car (and clean the windows inside and out).
  • Get rid of stuff that no longer serves you. I like to start in my closet. It’s a great chance to weed out clothes that no longer fit or serve me, and I can donate or share them.  I tend to do one area a month. I work on it for 10-20 minutes a few times a week, so it is not a mental burden.
  • In the same vein, do a toiletry/beauty/makeup purge. Travel-sized/sample-sized toiletries can be donated to homeless or domestic abuse shelters or local rehab/inpatient centers. Makeup and personal care items do expire (check out this article from Insider for more deets). If it smells weird or has a strange texture- toss it!
  • Space out Appointments or other “Adulting” tasks. As someone who had two mental/behavioral health appointments, an IEP Meeting, and a doctor’s appointment last week, I can assure you I was mentally and physically exhausted. As it was the end of the year, provider time was limited, so I didn’t have much of a choice, but going forward, I’m limiting myself to 1-2 “Adulting”/appointments per week. Otherwise, it is overwhelming and everything else, like tasks of daily living, gets pushed aside (shower, what’s that?).
  • Spend time Doing Stuff I Like. Yeah, seems weird? Spend a little time doing something that makes you happy. Play a game on your phone for 10 minutes, read, do a craft, work on a project, play Legos with your kids, go for a walk.

A content creator I really like, Rayna Cohen put it simply, ” Allow yourself to enjoy the new energy of the new year.”

My kid’s school sent out a Kindness Calendar for January. I plan on incorporating some of these RAOK throughout January and beyond.

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about how you are Starting Fresh for 2022!

Give the Gift of Creativity with Craftsy (and FREE CLASSES)!

If you have a hard to shop for person on your gift-giving list this holiday season, I recommend the gift of creativity!

Craftsy has some amazing deals this Cyber Week!

All Classes and DVDs are 75% off with coupon code CYBER75 at checkout.

 

If you are new to Craftsy and want to check it out, they also offer a lot of free classes. Here are just a few that I love:

 

Gallery glass DIY: easy faux stained glass window clings!

About 10 years ago I was gifted a beautiful set of glass dishes from a friend. They were painted with my SCA device/badge (they are blue and white with blue and white Fleur de Lis). I still have them, what I love about them is they look like they were made from stained glass.

The person who gave them to me used Gallery Glass, which is a glass paint that looks like stained glass once it dries.

I have played around with this medium myself over the past few years, and recently I wanted to decorate the kid’s windows, a mirror, and make some window clings/fake stain glass for some friends.

Before we start this DIY, all of the items that you need to make these projects, as well as some more kid-friendly sun catchers can be found here in my Amazon storefront.

I do earn a small commission when you purchase items through my Amazon links, Think about it as buying me a cup of coffee, or a taco.

Using Gallery Glass is very simple. If you have ever used puffy paint or fabric paint, you can use gallery glass. You can paint on glass, you can paint on mirrors, or any sort of clear glass dish/cup/bowl, or you can make window clings like I will be showing you below.

For the window clings, I start with a high-quality heavy-duty page protector.

Find an image that you wish to make into a window cling. I’ve done Celtic Knot Bears, prehistoric fish, unicorns, mandalas. Whatever speaks to you!

Slip the printout/drawing of what you want to make into the page protector. You’re going to use the faux leading (if you run out of this and can’t find more in town, sometimes in a pinch I will use black fabric/puffy paint). If your image is all straight lines, you can use the peel and stick leading (found here).

For this project, I used white puffy paint on a glass picture frame. The black leading wouldn’t have “popped” as much, and the white gave me the detail I wanted.

You will outline your image with the faux leading, and allow it to dry. Depending on the weather/humidity it can be as little as a few hours, or it can take overnight to dry properly.

Finished project- Gift for my dad

Once the leading has dried, select your colors of gallery glass and fill in the leaded “panes“ and allow your creation to dry. I usually let them sit for 24 to 48 hours to dry all the way, and cure a little bit so they’re not tacky. Once that time has elapsed you can make it a permanent window cling by gently peeling your creation off of the page protector and applying it to the window/glass as needed.

If you want something you can move around, then you will remove the paper from the inside of the page protector, and cut the image out of the page protector. And then place the creation on the window. The side with the page protector adhered to it will be facing outwards/not against the glass.

If you were looking for ideas for different art styles or creations for your stained glass/window cling project, check out my Pinterest board here. This is a project that anyone can do. It is a fun project, it is not necessarily good for small children, but I would say anyone probably ages 10 and up can handle it. It does take a lot of patience. And a fairly steady hand. This is why I tend to get Suncatcher painting kits for the little kid to do while I work on these. She can sit and do her “Stainglass“ craft while I do mine. These make great gifts. And they are absolutely beautiful.

The supplies can be a little expensive, but once you have them, a bottle of gallery glass will last you between 5 to 10 projects, depending on what size, and how many other colors you’re using in your project. Some local craft stores sell gallery glass products in their stores, so before you buy them on Amazon, you might try your local craft store.

My next big project is a Pride Flag for my nibling. I’ll be using a piece of clear acrylic (18×24) and the peel and stick leading, since it’s all straight lines.

Have Your Hot Girl Summer on a Budget

I’m sure by now everyone has heard the phrase “Hot Girl Summer”, but do you know what it means? The phrase can be traced back to a Megan Thee Stallion song a few years ago.

On Twitter, she explained: “Being a Hot Girl is about being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident, living YOUR truth, being the life of the party, etc.”

A couple of my friends have embraced it, and I think that it’s a pretty amazing outlook to have, especially since last summer was, well, Sad Trombone Noise? I know the kids are looking forward to having fun, more adventures, and getting out of the house. Here are a couple ways I’m bringing Hot Girl Summer (and sharing it with the fam).

New Bathing Suits. Kids grow, but what about me? Well after having the same swimsuits for 3 years, it’s time. Especially since we swim daily.  I bought a few new suits from Amazon. Since I’m fair-skinned I picked up one with long sleeves, the kids tease me about working at SeaWorld. This is just one of the many suits I’ve got. It’s perfect for prime sun time.

 

New Pool Bag and New Pool Toys. Every Summer it seems, we need new pool toys and a new pool bag. The Chlorine wrecks our bag (which is mesh- this helps the pool toys dry quickly), and daily use of toys leaves them.. wrecked. Dollar Tree has a great selection of sturdy pool toys, including inflatables for kids (We have a cool cookie ring that has a “bite” taken out of it). For me, I picked up a sweet inflatable float pool chair. 

Plans to meet up with friends. Now that most people have access to the vaccine, getting together with friends is a lot more feasible. We are still limiting ourselves and staying away from large gatherings where we don’t know everyone, but dinner and drinks with friends sound amazing. I’m hosting dinners a couple times a month over the summer for a few reasons: 1. To keep all of our costs down (Dinner out with drinks costs $$$ these days), and honestly, I don’t feel super safe going out for dinner all that often, especially now that there are no mask regulations in our state. And I’m having a weekend getaway with some girlfriends in a few weeks. I am really looking forward to a weekend away in a vacation rental doing a whole lot of nothing!

Take Advantage of the season: What does that mean? Summer has all sorts of fun advantages: Long days, Amazing fruit and veggies are in season, nice weather. Spend time outside (poolside, at the beach, exploring nature), enjoy a big bowl of fruit salad, make a huge salad! Community events are starting to come back (with limited event sizes), and there are lots of free events throughout the summer. EventBrite is a great place to find community events.

Make Time for You: I know… So many blogs and social media tell you to get self-care time and spend time doing things that you love, but as a parent, it can be hard without staying up late or waking up before dawn. Finding a sitter can be tough too. It’s ok to lean on family and friends. The past year has been exponentially tough on parents, and you need time to yourself. Swap child care with friends, or if you want to have a night out, split the cost of a sitter. Your kids can hang out together, while you and your friends get some time away.

Take Care of Yourself: And I don’t mean the stereotypical self-care of putting on a mud mask and drinking water with lemon slices. That’s fun, but I mean the simple acts that we often overlook as caregivers.

  • Sunscreen for your face and any exposed areas when you’ll be outside for more than 10 minutes during peak sun hours (usually 10am-4pm). Don’t forget the tops of your ears. Being super fair-skinned I also wear a sun hat too. Not super sexy, but I don’t want skin cancer.
  • Take something to drink with you. I know most of you pack snacks for your kids when you leave home, but take a few extra minutes to make yourself something that you like (bonus if it’s a snack that your kids do not like- No sharing!), and fill your water bottle. This is the water bottle I use. If you like fruit-infused water, bottles like this are great.  You can also opt for an infuser to go into your favorite bottle or insulated cup.
  • Find Something to Keep You Occupied.  Besides your kids. Pick up a book, grab a craft kit (I like embroidery- it’s easy and portable), Craftsy has some cool online classes to get you started.

I’d love to hear about how you are bringing Hot Girl Summer. Leave a comment below!

 

 

 

Holiday Crafting on a Budget with Dollar Tree!

I am a big fan of homemade gifts. This year the kids and I are making most of the gifts we will be giving, and thankfully, Dollar Tree has all sorts of craft supplies to help us out.

Our local Dollar Tree has a great selection of craft supplies: Wooden cut-outs, acrylic paints, decals, stickers, wreath making supplies, glitter paint, gems, beads, you name it.

This week we have been painting Christmas Tree Ornaments.  We’ve got a bunch of acrylic paints in our craft cubby, and I let the kids go wild.

Over the weekend I painted laser-cut pineapples and a laser-cut pineapple light- all from Dollar Tree. As part of our holiday crafting, the kids are I are making a photo frame- We painted it, the next step is to trace and paint their hands on it.

If you are on a budget and wanna get crafty this holiday season either to give as gifts or to decorate your home, check out Dollar Tree either online or in-person (following all social distancing regulations for your area).

Exploring Free Play- Fostering Imagination and Growth

As a Gen X parent, I never quite understood why we “had” to fill our kids afternoons and free time with 10,000 activities (sports, club meetings, scouting, etc.). My brother and I didn’t have tons of stuff each day after school. By the time I was in the 5th grade, both my parents worked, and frequently we were left home alone for a few hours after school a couple times a week.

We did our homework, played, read, and did chores. Even before that, there were plenty of times where we were home without structured activities. We still had scouts, soccer (my brother did AYSO for one season and decided it wasn’t for him), Key Club, Choir, JV Football. Many kids in my generation were latchkey kids and filled their afternoons with free and imaginative play.

Free play is an incredible learning tool for kids. It fosters imagination and gives kids opportunities to discover and explore. There are all sorts of toys that encourage free play- dolls, food toys, blocks, legos, to name a few.

My two love Playmobil. Playmobil is a German company that has been around since the 1970’s. They have so many different sets and types of toys- everything from princesses and fairies to knights and safari sets.

A jungle adventure after preschool. Complete with a feast

Recently, my son and daughter started pulling out some of their people as well as some of the animals and created their own adventure. Enter Carl the Mongoose and Mr. Chicken. Carl is a Meerkat, and Mr. Chicken is a Bald Eagle, but the names have stuck.  Other characters include The Birdkeeper and The Man with the Gray Hat, and Cleopatrick (my daughter named her). All of these people are from various sets, Cleo was the only one that sort of resembles her name, as she came from an awesome set of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar.

The animals and their people have all sorts of adventures. They have run a food truck, run a zoo, been on a cruise, gone on safari, hunted for wild animals, opened an iron and gold mine, run an orphanage (we have a lot of little kid Playmobil people), gone to college, gone to preschool, and taken a road trip to the “ocean” in Ohio. We paused the game for a bit to look at the US map to discover there is no ocean in Ohio, but they could go to Lake Erie instead. It was deemed the “Lake Erie ocean beach” adventure.

These adventures give the kids a chance to explore themselves and work on interpersonal relationships, even if it’s as a talking Bald Eagle and his keeper.

Even in these crazy times where nothing is certain, give your kids some time to play and explore. Taking a “brain break” (which is what the big kiddos teacher calls them) throughout the day for some playtime may help your kids more than you think.

Right now we are all home together, trying to scramble into some sort of routine of distance learning, being quiet while we all learn/work, breaks, and trying to play after school is over without making too much noise while grown ups work. It’s tough. It’s crazy. The house is messy, we’re frazzled, and we weren’t “with it” last week to follow our meal plan. But we got through it, and we’re trying again this week.

We’re all learning. And that means we should grant ourselves grace.

Be kind to yourself. Wash your paws, wear a mask, flatten the curve. Have a good week!

 

Fun with National Day: Today is National Argyle Day!

file0001631089542.jpgI bought this calendar a few weeks ago, and it lists several non-holiday “days” each day. I thought I’d share some with you each month.

I love “National Days“- they are so much fun, and some of them are really silly. It’s a great way to get the kids out of a funk, especially when there are no holidays or fun days for a long stretch of time. It’s also a fun way to teach kids little facts. For example, Pancake Day usually coincides with the start of Lent (Shrove Tuesday) .

Today is Argyle day. We are all celebrating by wearing argyle socks. Mr. has a vast array of argyle socks. I bought him these last year.

It’s also national Bubble Bath Day! The kids will be celebrating later with a “disco bath”- that’s a bubble bath with a few glow sticks thrown in. Even the big kid can’t resist a disco bath. In addition to this bubble bath, which the kids love, the big kid is a fan of these bath bombs.

Friday the 10th is Houseplant appreciation day, I’m not sure what we’ll do to celebrate, but if I figure it out, I’ll post about it on Facebook or Instagram.

Enter to Win 2 Tickets to Pickwick Players Production of Treasure Island!

Screen Shot 2019-08-08 at 7.53.52 AM.pngI’m at it again! One of the reasons you haven’t seen me lurking around social media and the blog lately is that I’ve been really busy designing and making costumes for Pickwick Players upcoming production of Treasure Island by Ken Ludwig.

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Courtesy of Pickwick Players

Based on the book by Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island follows Young Jim Hawkins on a journey far from home to find treasure with a group that includes Captain John Silver, Anne Bonny, and Calico Jack!

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Photo Courtesy of Tyler Hewes

I was really lucky to have a great team to make this show come to life. The set design really transforms the space, and the lighting and music are spot on!

To celebrate the opening weekend, you can score $10 tickets (Only for opening weekend)  Go to www.pickwickplayers.net and use the code “scurvy10”. Performances are on Friday, Saturday evenings (7:30pm) and Sunday matinees (2pm) – August 9 to 25.

I am giving away a pair of tickets to the show! To Enter, leave a comment below- Who would you take with you on your pirate adventure? I will choose a winner on 8/14/19.

7/8/19 Meal Plan Monday

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This week I’m super busy- appointments, deadlines, and events for the kids. So I’m planning meals that are quick and easy. Also, it’s going to get increasingly hot this week, so easy to do meals that don’t involve using the oven.  Today I’m baking bacon (my secret to crispy splatter-free bacon) for meals throughout the week, and cinnamon rolls for dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done, so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian, but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with heavy cream for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me. The kids will be enjoying free lunches all over the county with free activities and playtime before or after lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot (I am picking up my new crockpot this week) in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked.

  • Monday: Breakfast for dinner (fruit salad, cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs, bacon)
  • Tuesday: Crockpot vegetarian chili (recipe coming up with week)
  • Wednesday:  Pesto Chicken bake (but I’m making it in the crockpot- recipe coming up this week)
  • Thursday: Ramen night (I found a big package of this ramen in the back of the cupboard)
  • Friday:  Date Night
  • Saturday: Homemade Pizza Night (I’ll be making the dough earlier in the week and freezing it, so there is less work on Saturday)
  • Sunday: Leftover Night

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

Get Out and Play at The Nat!

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Recently the kids and I got to preview the Natural History Museum’s latest interactive exhibit, The Backyard. Even though Henry is 7, he still had a great time playing and exploring. He loves the Nat, it has all the things he loves about nature (dinosaurs, animals, plants, and bugs).

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 7.21.55 PM.pngInspired by a quintessential San Diego backyard patio, The Backyard is packed with experiences that encourage curiosity about the natural world including, a shade tree, live animals, a potting bench, a giant ladybug, stepping stones, a pergola-covered reading nook, a garden bed for infant tummy time, an urban nature soundscape, and more.

The Backyard contains interactive activities and objects that instill a sense of wonder and curiosity about the natural world.

Exhibition highlights include:

 

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 7.22.05 PM.pngA garden bed (ages 0-2): Modeled after a self-contained garden area, this enclosed, soft space is separated from areas designed for older toddlers and preschoolers. It is an ideal area for infants to work on tummy time, rolling over, and sitting up. Within this space, older infants have an area to practice crawling, walking, and grasping different textures.

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Dinos enjoy The Backyard too!

An old oak tree (ages 2-5): Children will embody imaginative, dramatic, and realistic play as they dress like familiar backyard animals, crawl on a giant ladybug, and gallivant around an old oak tree. Self-directed play can take many forms as kids build block structures, color mix on the light table, and uncover hidden sounds and live animals in the garden wall.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 7.22.11 PM.pngA potting shed (ages 2-5): Adults can relax and recharge on plush bench seating with free WiFi and a charging station while kids exercise fine motor skills and build imaginations as they create and pot flowers, read books, solve puzzles, and sort shapes. The Potting Shed area has a great selection of kids books (that are available in the gift shop as well).  Henry and I loved the dinosaur books!

The Backyard is located behind the cafe on the bottom floor of the museum. Entrance to The Backyard is included with your museum ticket. In addition to the fun exploration for the kids, there is a new 3-D movie at The Nat called Backyard Wilderness:3-D. It’s all about the beauty and natural wonder that is around us- even in our own backyard. The kids loved it, and Henry has been asking for us to “get into nature” so we can explore more.

If you haven’t been to The Nat lately, its completely different! With lots of great exhibits all about the natural history of San Diego/Southern California, there are lots of exhibits at kids level, with hands on and interactive learning stations for kids. Margaret loved the Coast to Cactus in Southern California exhibit. There were lots of hands on activities and cool stuff to look at at her eye level. Henry enjoyed the Fossil Mysteries exhibit, and of course, Unshelved.

We’re going back to The Nat soon, I hope to see you there!