Monday, January 31, 2011

What we're working on at the end of January

Just a bullet point list for today . . . perhaps some deeper posts later on the same subjects!

*Preschool - Money lapbooks, groundhogs, shape matching, color sorting, sight words
*Dance - recital choreographies, competition updates
*House - detoxing the home, keeping up on laundry, redoing the bathroom, getting rid of pests
*Kids - pictures of busy, fun times
*February - Valentine's Day ideas!!!
*Birthday Party Planning for a 3 year old and an 8 year old

*trying to relax and enjoy life as it goes by!
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Meal Plan Monday

Doing a little different format this week and going Monday-Sunday instead of Sunday-Saturday.  Just makes more sense since I'm posting on Monday and the weekends usually get mixed up a bit in the plans.  And as always, I'm linking up to Org Junkie's Meal Plan Monday.  =)

School/Daycare/Packed lunches
Jenn's Pot Roast w/root veggies, salad and garlic bread dinner

School/Daycare/Packed lunches
Hamburger/Hot Dogs w/corn and potatos, pasta salad and baked beans dinner

School/Daycare/Packed lunches
Pinapple Pork Chops w/broccoli and rice dinner

School/Daycare/Packed lunches
Do-agains dinner

School/Daycare/Packed lunches
Homemade pizza w/breadsticks and salad dinner

Soup and Sandwich lunch
Baked Speghetti w/corn, salad, and breadsticks dinner

Chicken Nuggets and Mac n' Cheese lunch
Sirloin Fried Rice, crab cheese, and egg drop soup dinner
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Brownie Covered Oreos - Is this For REAL???

So today I was blog hopping (I do that alot . . . I should probably leave some comments and share in the fun, but mostly I just read.).  Today it was some craft blogs and some Mommy blogs and some running blogs.  All good fun.

And then I saw this post at Make it and Love it: Delicious and Quick Holiday Treat.  And then I looked at the pictures attached.  And then I fell in love.  Total and deep love.

Oreos and Brownies?  Two of my favorite treats blended into one?

Try this, I must!!

So I followed the original link: Picky Palate  and printed the directions.  Guess what I'll be doing tonight??

Update tomorrow (or maybe Sunday or Monday or whenever I next get online to post) to let you know if these are as good as they appear to be!!!
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Happy Friday!!!

Happy Friday!

 It's cold. It's snowy and blowy. And usually I wouldn't be thrilled about those things (unless they meant a snow day!) However, tomorrow we have a youth group event called Magic Carpeting. And if you remember from last year, that is also known as "extreme sledding." My FIL hooks up a conveyor belt to the back of his tractor, we all jump on, and he does donuts out in the field. And we try to hang on. It's great if you're at the top of the belt. But if you're at the end....look out! You can fall off whipping around the field . . . or the person at the top lets go and takes everyone out like dominoes! So much fun!!!

And the pond is ready for ice skating . . . so our skates are coming with and I'm heading that way!! (It's much safer than holding on to a slick, snowy conveyor belt, anyhow!)

And I'm just looking forward to a nice weekend.

And praying for more snow on Sunday, because a snow day Monday would be just what this Momma needs!!!
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Little Leaps of Love

I'm joining in on the Little Leaps of Love challenge held over at No Ordinary Moments for the month of February.

It seems like a fantastic way to celebrate the month of Valentine's Day and to show my family in lots of little ways the love I have for them.  I don't know yet what they challenges are, but I can't wait to find out!

Join me in the challenge - there are some great prizes too - to show your family a little love!
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A Celebration

Growing up in a family that was very active in the Scottish-American community and as a Highland Dancer, January 25th was always an important "holiday" in my life.  For those of you who don't know, January 25th is Robert Burn's Day - a day to celebrate the national poet of Scotland.

Now, as a grown-up with my own family, I like to incorporate parts of those traditions into our life.  However, I haven't danced at a Burn's Night supper in years (although I'm hopeful that my own dancers from my dance school will get to next year, maybe?).  And there is no way in heck that my kids are going to even try a piece of haggis, let alone eat an entire meal of it!  But I'd like to keep up the tradition.

Last night (the 25th) was a busy night for the CrazyLife family.  Dance class, typing up semester exams for Mr. CrazyLife, homework, dance practices, spelling words, baths, etc.  So we didn't get a chance to celebrate anything other than bedtime when everyone was in bed and the house was quiet!

Tonight, we'll be trying some things.  No haggis in our house - I won't eat it either!  But I do have some oatmeal scones, shortbread, and we'll have sausage with tatties and neeps (potatos with mashed turnip).  I want to read some poems with the kids and tell them about Robert Burns.  And of course, we'll put on some pipe music and do a Highland Fling or two! (a standard around our house any night of the week!)

And for those of you who would like to enjoy your own Robert Burn's celebrations, check out a few of these links for some ideas, recipes, poems and songs, and much more!

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

Meal Plans Week of January 23rd

Sunday - Sandwiches for lunch w/apples, chips, hummus, cut veggies
Dinner with Grandma & Grandpa

Monday - school/daycare for lunch
Dinner - Hamburgers/hot dogs/salad

Tuesday - school/daycare for lunch
Dinner - Chicken noodle soup in the crockpot

Wednesday - school/daycare for lunch
Dinner - Pot roast in crock pot

Thursday - school/daycare for lunch
Dinner - grilled cheese sandwhich w/tomato soup

Friday - school/daycare fo lunch
Dinner - homemade pizza & breadsticks w/salad

Saturday - leftovers or do-agains for lunch
Dinner - saurkrat w/sausage

Can you tell the weather is CHILLY here?  Everything on this week's menu is a cold-weather favorite!
Linking to OrgJunkie's Meal Plan Monday!
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Snowy Day

Remember this book?  Well, that's kind of what the weather is like here today.  Except it's really too cold to go outside at all!

I skipped my walk this morning.  I'm willing to walk in cold weather, but I draw the line at negative temps!

So what do we do when it's too cold to play outside?

We build couch forts.

We watch cartoons.

We run "marathons" around the house.

We bake cookies.

We bake scones.

We bake.

We do laundry.

We run the automatic oven cleaner to help heat up the house and get a nice clean oven as well.

We meet friends at the McDonald's that has a play area to let the kids run off some steam.

We relax.

We enjoy.
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Fit for a Princess

And the most important question regarding the Disney Princess Half Marathon, which I am "running" in a little over a month's time:
What does one wear to such an event???

Here are the final decisions on that part.  Tshirt still to be determined, but will probably be a light pink one bought locally from Target or Meijer or somesuch.  I'm not terribly picky about my shirts.

My shoes will be either my trusty LA Gear tennies or my new New Balance ones . . . we'll see which feel better at the time.

Debating about tights/capri's to wear under the running skirt.  What will the weather in Florida be at the end of February?  From what I remember from college choir tour, it was much warmer than up here, but still a wee bit chilly.  So that is left up to how I feel the morning of.

Debating also about a jacket or long sleeved top to begin the race with.  Not sure what I would do with it once I warmed up.  It would be too bulky to tie around my waist, but I don't want to just throw it either . . . a dilemma to be sure.

As for a belt, my trusty black fanny pack will be in use.  I really wanted to invest in a SpiBelt, but think I'll pass for this round.  I totally fell in love with their pink plaid one though; it's been a tough decision.  And I'm not sure about a water belt or not . . . I don't currently have one and don't know if it's worth it to invest in one.  My fanny pack can hold one small bottle of water, but that's it.  Will the water stations still have water by the time I get to them?  That's the big question!

The running skirt: New Balance Jodi Tennis Skirt in Asphalt

And the most important part of all : The TIARA!!!  What good would a jogging princess be without one?

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Make Your Own Vanilla Perfume

I've never been a big scented lotion or perfume user.  I'm not sure why, I just never had.  I'm the kind of person who finds something they like and sticks with it forever or until the company stops making it.  Which is just what has happend to my favorite perfumes and lotions.

My favorite lotion is the Bath and Body Works Plumeria scent.  It was my signature scent throughout college.  Friends said my dorm room even smelled like it.  Then about 4 years ago, they discontinued it.  I was so sad.  This past holiday season they brought it back out and I bought about five bottles to tide me over for a while!

My other signature scent is vanilla.  I've always been a huge fan of vanilla scents.  It's my all-time favorite smell.  It reminds me of cooking with my Gram.  It reminds me of something warm and homey.  I love it.  However, I've never found a vanilla perfume or lotion that works for me.  I did use Vanilla Fields for a long time, but then it changed.  I like a pure vanilla smell - not a fruity, flowery, musky one.

So I've been on the lookout for something with either of these two scents for a long time.  I've searched out making your own and so forth and never really come across anything.

Imagine my suprise and delight when I came across this post today from Natural Mommie: How to Make Vanilla Perfume.  I was so excited!! I can't wait to get home and start my own vanilla oil perfume!!

Here's what you need:
– Vanilla beans
– Vodka
– Glass jar
– Strainer {mesh, nylons or cheesecloth}
– Jojoba oil {or any oil – grapeseed, etc.}

Check your local health food store for vanilla beans or any store that sells bulk spices.  Sometimes you can find them at the grocery, but they tend to be more expensive there.  I'm also planning on using coconut oil - that should make a nice blend with the vanilla (despite my claims of PURE vanilla scent love above! =) )

1. Take your knife and gently cut down the middle of the vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape your knife along the inside edge of the bean to release the paste. Drop the paste into a glass jar. Cut the rest of the vanilla bean into small pieces and drop those in the jar as well. You can use as many vanilla beans as you wish.
2. Pour vodka directly into the glass jar, on top of the vanilla beans. Add enough alcohol to cover all the bean pieces. This allows the alcohol to soak into the beans and absorb the scent of their oils.
3. Place the container in a warm, dry place and let stand for 2 weeks to 2 months Remove the lid every few weeks to test the strength of the scent. Use when ready. Strain out the small pieces of vanilla. You’ll want the perfume to be nice and smooth without any pieces that might irritate your skin.
4. Add your strained alcohol mixture back into your glass jar and top it off with jojoba oil. You’ll want to use 2-3 times as much jojoba oil as vanilla bean oil. It distills the scent, but also makes the mixture last longer.
5. Store your mixture in a cool, dry place. This will last for several months as long as you keep it from getting too hot.

The process is exactly the same as the process for making your own vanilla extract, except for step 4: adding oil.  If you wanted pure vanilla extract, follow steps 1-3 and then skip to step 5.  It's amazing and you should try it.

Something else I wanted to add is that you might want to use a dark colored glass jar instead of a clear one.  The less light that gets to the beans/alcohol mixture, the stronger, purer and better the solution will be.
I can't wait to get home today and start my own!!!
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Meal Plan Monday

Meal Plans Week of January 16th

Sunday - PBJ/Bologna Sandwiches with chips for lunch
               Meatloaf, mashed potatos, broccoli, salad, bread n' butter for dinner

Monday - leftovers for lunch (mom & dad) Daycare lunch for kids
                Spaghetti w/pork sausage and tomato sauce, garlic bread, corn for dinner

Tuesday - Box lunches, school and daycare for lunch
                Chicken soup in the crockpot with bread n' butter and salad for dinner

Wednesday - Box lunches, school and daycare for lunch
                     Tacos, taco salad for dinner

Thursday - Box lunches, school and daycare for lunch
                 Mac n' cheese, broccoli and salad for dinner

Friday - Box lunches, school and daycare for lunch
             Homemade pizza and breadsticks with salad for dinner

Saturday - leftovers or sandwiches for lunch
Hamburgers with corn, salad and chips for dinner

I'm linking up with the Organizing Junkie's Meal Plan Monday Series.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Running-Walking in the Snow . . . .

I have to admit that the past few months my passion for fitness walking/jogging has diminished.  It's hard to get your walk/jog on when there are eight inches of snow and ice on the ground, the temp is below 30 and the wind is blowing at 25 mph out of the north.

And I hate treadmill walking.  I get bored.  I stop.  It doesn't work.

I've been trying to fill up my walking time with other fitness pursuits.  Things like Zumba, yoga, Highland Dance, Jillian's 30 Day Shred.  With mild success.  I'm keeping active at the very least.

But I've been worried.  It's like a month away to the Disney Princess Half Marathon that I've signed up for.  And my training is WAY out of line!  Now, I'm not planning on actually running much of the Half, but perhaps a few stretches here and there.  Mostly just fast walking.  There is a 16-minute mile cut-off.  It's a bit scary.  In the summer, I was hitting about a 13-14 minute mile.  Pretty good.

So with that in mind, I set out on Friday with high hopes of getting a good walk in.  The sun was shining, the snow stopped blowing and the temp was 34.  55 minutes later I was back home, cold, but feeling great.  I put in 3.34 miles.  It was a bit slower than the cut-off time, but considering the terrain, not too shabby, I feel.

You see....I was walking on snow covered country roads.  The roads that don't get plowed until we reach about 12 inches of snow and even then are only plowed after everything else has been cleared five times over.  Welcome to living in the Michigan countryside in winter!

But I discovered something.  Walking in snow is kind of like walking on the beach.  My shins and ankles say so.  They got quite the workout for sure.  My bottom sure feels it too!

I didn't attempt to jog.  I was worried about slipping and falling.

But I got out and did it. Yay me!
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Natural Air Fresheners

Have you ever come home, walked into the house and thought, "What in the heck is that smell?"

I did the other day.  Our house just had a stale, closed up smell.  Everything that could possibly leave a scent in the air was and they were all fighting for dominence.  It was not pleasant.

Sometimes the smells of the house, cooking food, a full garbage can, pet smells, dirty clothes in the laundry room, dusty, stale closed up smells seem to take over.  We just can't get rid of them.

So what do you do?  Do you pull out that can of air freshener you bought at the store?  Does it help?

Or does it add another unwanted smell to the house?  A chemical smell?  An aerosol smell?  And does it last?

I've moved away from using those scents in a can sprays to freshen the house.  They just don't do the job the way I'd like.  Plus, the scents offered are nothing that I want my house to smell like!  I'm trying to get a more natural way to freshen the house.

One of the best ways I've found to freshen the house is to open windows.  In the summer, the windows here at the farmhouse are always open.  Always.  As soon as the frost is out of the air in the spring, we start opening them for a little bit each day.  The only times we close them are during plowing times, because the dust that flies is crazy!  In even the winter, if there is a warm day, say over 35, I'll open the windows a wee bit.  It gets cold, but it certainly freshens the air. 

Another thing I do is to make my own air freshener spray.  I'll boil some water with a bit of sage and sea salt.  Once it cools you can put it in a spray bottle.  Use it to spray the walls, the garbage can, furniture, sheets/bedding etc.  I imagine you could put other scents into it instead, but I've found that the sage stays quite well.  Keep it in the refridgerator.

Something else I like to do is to do a stove-top air freshener.  Take some water, add cinnamon sticks, orange peels, lemon peels, vanilla beans, sage, etc to it and bring to a boil.  Turn it down and let it simmer.  The wonderful smells will fill the house!

Experiement!  See what works in your house.  Try freshening your house the natural way ... you'll never go back!
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Thursday, January 13, 2011


Let's talk for a moment about something we all hate to talk about (and deal with.)  You know what I'm talking about.  AF.  Our lovely monthly visitor.  The thing we all look forward to getting when we're 12 and hate by the time we're 13.  Yep.....that punctuation....the period.

This is on my mind today because my lovely little friend decided to suprise me a whole WEEK early this month!  This almost never happens to me and it really set me off.  So a bit of a rant and some ideas to help "green up" a very personal issue.

Now, let me start off by saying that I have been a bit blessed in this area.  I didn't start until I was 12 and my periods have always been fairly light and short and absolutly regular.  But I still hate dealing with it.  I've always hated the feeling of those paper sanitary pads.  They itch.  They rub funny.  They are crinkly.  And they are expensive.  Plus, I hate the thought of all that "stuff" sitting around in a landfill for almost ever.  Between disposible diapers and disposible sanitary napkins, future archeologists are going to make some interesting conclusions about our society!

So, partly in tune with trying to "green" up my life and partly due to the suggestions of friends and partly just to see what the fuss was all about.  So I tried  "Mama Cloth" and they have changed my month at a time!

I first used cloth pads postpartum with my second child, six years ago.  I had bought some from a local cloth diaper store.  They were the only brand she carried (and they are still my favorite brand).  At first, they did feel a bit bulky, but I got used to that quickly.  What amazed me the most was that my postpartum period (hah, what a pun!) lasted a much shorter time than with my first child.  And then once my ummm, punctuation returned 8 months later, it too was shorter and lighter than ever before.  And each month since has been the same.  My periods went from lasting 5-7 days with a medium flow to about 3-4 days with a light flow.  It's amazing.

Now, I don't know why this is.  There are the rumors, of course.  Companies put some kind of chemical into the pads/tampons to make you bleed more.  Therefore you need more of their product, yada yada yada.  I'm not sure I buy it.  But whatever the reason.....I've found it to be true.  Cloth pads make my time of the month last a shorter time and a much lighter time.

It seems strange to us to think of using cloth pads, I'm sure.  I mean, you never see this on TV, right?  But forever, up until about 50 years ago, this was the norm.  Using something disposible would have been unthinkable.  I mean, how did Eve take care of her monthly issue?  Or the pilgrims?  Or Queen Elizabeth the first?  No matter what, all women throughout time have had to deal with this.  And they all did it without the use of something disposible.  So maybe it isn't all that weird afterall?  Check out this link from the Menstration Museum.

There are all kinds of Mama Cloth out there.  Tons of WAHM 's make them and sell them.  You'll have to try a bunch to find what you like.  There are also more natural internal systems, the Diva Cup and the Keeper among others.  I personally love the Happy Heiny brand and Luna Pads, but have a bunch of others as well.  They come in all sizes and shapes, with or without wings, snap or velcro or pin closure, pillowcase style or not.  Find what works for you.

Now the question arises of what one does with the pads after use and before washing.  Or what to do when on the go.  Or just how to deal with the cloth at all.  Here's what I do.

I keep a small, covered bucket in my master bathroom.  After I change a used pad, I set it in the bucket, which contains cold water.  I soak the pads for the duration of my AF (usually 3-4 days).  I then dump the water into a smaller container.  The soaked pads are thrown into whatever load of laundry is ready to run, although I do usually throw them in with towels or sheets.  The water I save for watering plants (my roses love it!), but I do use it quickly.  Mr. CrazyLife really doesn't like this part of the process.  I do not dry the pads in the dryer.  I hang them dry.  It's not complicated and aside from some strange looks from your family members the first few times, not a huge issue anywhere.

There are other options out there as well....diva cups, moon cups and the like.  I've never tried them, but have heard rave reviews.  Just not my thing, I guess.

So for anyone out there sharing my pain right now, look into some greener, cleaner, healthier'll be glad you did!
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Oh the Times, They are a'Changing

It's been quite a while since my last series of posts here on CrazyLife.  I hate to do that as I love blogging and sharing things here.  When I started this blog, my plan was to share recipes, craft ideas, homesteading ideas and the like.  And I did great - until summer started and I was so busy at home with the children (on a side note, I don't know how you stay at home moms do it - you're AMAZING!).  Then I took a little break, blogging now and again with the intention of starting up again in the fall when I went back to work.  Well, lo and behold, a change in my work status meant a change of life for me.  I went from having a classroom in three buildings to being in one building, teaching off a cart.  I lost my walking routes.  I lost my desk computer hook up.  I lost my free "prep time."  I lost track of my life.

One of the best things we did was have Auntie CrazyLife come and start watching the kids.  It was such a big help this fall.  Then last week happened and we had a crazy time of it.  The long story short is that Auntie CrazyLife is no longer working for us and we're back in a home daycare setting.  It was one of the hardest decisions to make ever, but we had to do what was best for the kids and for us.  It was a stressful week for us, but I'm happy with the decision.  I'm hoping my sister and the rest of my family is understanding of it eventually.

I'm still running/walking, but the cold weather and different school/prep times have really cut into that.  I'm doing the Princess Half Marathon in about a month and a half and I'm really excited about it, but feel like I need more training and not sure that I'll get it in.  The less walking/yoga I've been doing, my body has really been not happy with me.  So I'm working on getting back on track with that.

Another thing we've been working on at the CrazyLife house is "greening" up our lives.  I've got some posts planned around that that will *hopefully* get posted soon! 

Lots of Homesteading ideas are flowing as well - I got my first seed catalog in the mail about a week ago and my mind has been racing!  Can't wait for the ground to get unfrozen and uncovered with snow so I can play in the dirt again.

Sooooo.....lots of ideas flowing around here.  Hoping to get them posted and shared and all that good stuff!
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Meal Plan Monday

(back to business....)

Meal Plans 1/9/2011-1/1/15/2011

Cereal w/milk
Oatmeal w/fruit
Fruit smoothies
Scrambled Eggs w/veggies & toast
Bagels w/PB & honey

School hot lunch (Thing #2)
Bologna Sandwiches
Cottage Cheese w/ sunflower seeds
Tuna on rice cakes
Cheese slices

Grilled Cheese w/soup & cut veggies/dip
Hot Dogs w/corn, chips, apple slices
Speghetti w/garlic bread and broccoli
Mac n' Cheese w/sausages and corn
Homemade Pizza w/bread sticks
Leftovers (or do-agains)

Wheat Thins crackers
Cheese Slices
Vanilla Cookies
Cut Veggies & Dip
Apple Slices
Orange Slices

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New Year, New Look, New Me (kinda)

So how can it be that we're already a week into 2011?  This year is flying by so quickly already!!  So

Happy New Year
(belatedly, as usual!)

As you can see, I've changed things up a bit for 2011.  A new background, which is pretty exciting because I totally figured out how to do it all on my own!  However, I can't figure out how to add the header, which would totally complete the look, so anyone who knows about that stuff and can help - that would be awesome!

I've also decided that this year I'm going to focus on ME.  That's right - ME.  I've spent the greater portion of the last eight years concentrating on other people and putting other people first.  Now, mind you, those little people that take up a lot of that attention are still going to be getting their fair share and so is Mr. CrazyLife, but I'm going to take MY life back.  Do things for ME.

I'm working on a vision board for 2011.  I've always made "goals" for the year, but always, always, always forget them pretty quickly.  So a vision board should be great - keep those goals in front of me all year.  Do you make vision boards?  What are your goals for this year?

I'll post mine as soon as it's done.  I've included family, home, health and career goals on it.  Now I have to find a place to put it where I will see it everyday.  Plus, Mr. CrazyLife thinks I'm, well crazy for doing it that way, so I need to find a place where he won't laugh about it all the time.  Men!  =)

So welcome 2011! 
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