moving sites.

While I wish I was a Super Mom like Random Thoughts of a Super Mom or Little Miss Mama or crafty like Brown Paper Packages, or created amazing recipes like Pioneer Woman, or could have a faith like Dashing Dish, or had the health expertise of Balanced Bites I’m not and I don’t.

I’m just me:  a wanna be crafter, someone who struggles daily with patience and insecurities in my Mommy skills, and someone that some days stays in workout clothes all day (even if I don’t go to the gym). I love trying (not creating) new recipes, I love finding (not creating) crafts to do with the girls, and I love capturing pictures (with my iPhone and Instagram).

That being said, I love having a blog to make myself feel like I’m actually doing something in this new adventure staying home and I like sharing recipes or crafts I find and I love being able to share pictures of our family with friends/family that want to read/see (mostly my Mom I’m sure).  So, I’m going to continue blogging at cowswalnutskids.wordpress.com on my new blog: Farming Cows, Raising Walnuts & Growing Kids. I like this name better because I don’t feel pressure to be an expert or literally “Mom’s Secret Weapon” because I certainty am not and this name better fits what my life is like.

You’ll continue to see posts here and there about fun stuff I do with the girls, great recipes/crafts I find, and even the occasional good workout if there’s one to share.

Those of you that have been with me from the beginning of my blogging existence are probably tired of me changing again but I really hope you’ll follow me over there as I continue to try to find my niche. (please, please, please!)

Please come check it out!

Thanks everybody. 🙂

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diy day.

This has become one of my favorite days; it’s the perfect opportunity to get together with girlfriends,  chat, eat yummy breakfast foods, and the kiddos get to play together. Plus we all leave with seasonal or home crafts for our house — what’s better than that?! This was the third time we’ve done a DIY day and at the end of this particular Saturday one of the girls said, “I think we are getting better at this” and we all agreed.  She meant that we are getting better at picking crafts that are easy to have staged (some/most of the prep work is already done so all we have to do is put them together) and we are getting craftier and better and what we are putting together.  You can read about our Christmas DIY day here. So far we’ve done a fall DIY day, Christmas DIY and this one was spring/home crafts.

Here’s how it works:

Three or four other girls and I (five is the most we’ve done and I wouldn’t suggest having more than that if you want to be finished with all five crafts by noon-1:00ish) each pick a craft we want to do and then bring enough for the other girls to make our particular craft. Ideally our craft would be finished for an example and then we’d be able to help while the others made our craft.  For example, my project was wooden blocks that were going to say Spring, Summer, Lucky and have stars/stripes on each side. Since I already had the blocks cut down to size I brought six for each girl, white and cream spray paint so they could decide what color to to do theirs, sandpaper to sand them down and make them distressed, and vinyl letters cut with my cricut.  At the last minute I had issues with my cricut mat (I didn’t have one!) so my project wasn’t staged as much as it could have been and took a little longer cutting the letters all that morning while we were there.  The vinyl is awesome though and you are able to lift it up and restick it until it’s in the right place. Today while I was at Michaels I found a few other embellishments to add to them to make them a little more springy/summery. I love how they turned out! (I have one block that’s a little shorter than all the others – all the other girls’ blocks are the same size – mine are just rustic – the word we used to describe the imperfections and character our homemade items have.)

Spray painting the blocks.

The other projects we did this particular day were:

Wanted/Lost Socks Sign:

Isn’t this the cutest? I’ve seen these go across on Pinterest and was excited to actually get to make one! My friend Melissa already had these awesome pieces of wood cut to size and in various stains to choose from.  Then we choose scrapbook paper and cut it to the size we wanted; mod-podged it onto the wood; then used the cricut and cut out vinyl letters (don’t mind mine they aren’t straight – I can’t mess with them anymore or it’s going to screw up the paper! I am not the most patient crafter and this gets me in trouble as you can see.) and finally hot glued the clothes pins on.  She even had the little hanging thing to hammer into the back so it’s ready to hang in the laundry room. Although I have way more than five socks that are missing their mate this is so cute in a laundry room. You probably can’t tell in the picture but there is a perfect little ledge on the top where a picture frame could rest as well –  just another way this will add charm to my laundry room.

Cutting the paper for the board while the Cricut does what it does best.

Days Until Sign:

This was another wooden sign project that we will be able to use year round.  My friend Mitzi had the signs all cut and her letters all cut from her cricut (she was more prepared than I). We put the letters down on the sign where we wanted them and then used chalkboard spray paint and did two coats.  After they were dry we peeled the letters off and had a perfect chalkboard sign that can be personalized  to whatever event you want to countdown for. The paint did leak a little under the vinyl but we decided it gave it that “rustic” look we were so fond of.  She also had small vinyl pink flowers we could add if we wanted to make it more spring themed and then you could peel them off when that season was over. Simple, fun, and finished in about 30 minutes — my kind of craft!

The boards with the letters all laid out ready to be stuck on where we want them.

For all three of the craft days we’ve done we have had one of our Moms or a babysitter there to help with the kids just because it can get a little crazy and that way we can work on what we came to work on and someone else can help keep the kiddos busy. We also usually bring a yummy breakfast item to share (usually a found recipe on Pinterest) and there’s plenty of coffee to get us through the morning.

Such cuties with their new friend Karissa who was so great with them!

This has been such a fun tradition to start and I look forward to when our girls are big enough to join in too. If you need some more ideas or information about having your own DIY day don’t hesitate to ask!

painting recyclables.

Since Earth Day is coming up I thought I’d share a fun way to let your kids paint to their hearts content without going through rolls of butcher paper.  Instead use your recycle bin to find flattened boxes, egg cartons, plastic containers, whatever you can find that’s clean and paint-able. It is a fun way to use what you have and lets them have fun painting something other than a piece of paper. We put it back in the recycle bin after the paint had dried — truthfully I’m not sure how much they appreciated it but hey, we were trying to be green!

 A few things I learned: 1. Old clothes are a necessity; paint doesn’t just stay on the item they are painting. 2. Have different brushes available – it’s fun for them to try foam brushes, thin brushes and thick brushes to see the differences.  3.  I’ve been saving old yogurt lids etc. for putting the paint on and they work great. Just another way to recycle and use what you have.     4. My child that pays attention to detail and is a little more deliberate spent most of the time painting the same cardboard box/castle while child number two went through about four different items in that time — be prepared with multiple options for children like my Stella.

This was the coolest cardboard packing that came when I bought a new portable stereo. It seriously looked like a little castle; perfect for little girls to imagine and paint on!

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And moving onto the egg carton . . .

And then the applesauce box. (Notice the paint has now somehow found her pink shirt).

Still plugging away on the castle . . .

Finally finished with the castle and moving onto a plastic fruit container. Thankfully there wasn't a wardrobe malfunction; maybe the pirate dress up dress wasn't the best choice for painting.

What else have you had success letting your kids paint?

for lucas.

I love to people watch. It’s true. I couldn’t go study in the library in college because I’d get distracted so easily. Even now when we are out to dinner I love guessing other people’s stories, checking out their adorable kids, admiring an old loving couple, or laughing at the bizarre teenagers. I don’t even want to think what people are saying about our table when we go out to eat – eating out with two toddlers is a challenge and not always pretty. You usually never learn the stories of the people eating next to you,  but yesterday I did and I had to share.

Yesterday evening we stopped to eat at Granzella’s in Williams (because that’s where you stop on I-5, right?) on our way home from San Francisco.  We decided to eat in the restaurant portion and I was pretty glad when a young couple with a little boy sat directly behind us – just makes you feel like you have allies who have to understand if kids are loud or throwing food on the floor when out in public. We didn’t talk but I noticed what a sweet, happy guy he was and Stella wouldn’t stop staring at him. We ate our hamburgers and got back in the car to head home.  A little ways down I-5 my Mom handed me her phone and said, “this is the little baby that we sat next to.” I asked how she knew and she said she saw the website on the Mom’s sweatshirt: forlucas.org. I started reading the story and was blown away.  That adorable little guy we sat by had already had two major brain surgeries to remove tumors and one to remove a tumor on his spinal cord. I was shocked and saddened and my heart went out to the two parents who could’ve easily been Luke and I.  When we sat by them at Granzella’s they were on their way home from Sacramento meeting with doctors about his chemotherapy plan — a chemotherapy plan for a little guy that was 1 1/2; life just doesn’t seem very fair.

I believe God puts people in our life for a reason and puts people in our path for a reason; whether it was a reminder to be grateful for my healthy girls, a gentle reminder to be compassionate to everyone you meet since you never know what battle they are fighting,  a request to reach out (I sent them a message on their website), or a way to spread his story for more people to hear and pray for him, I’m not sure but I believe they sat by us for a reason.  Please say a prayer for this young family and beautiful little guy. I think they are living any parent’s worst nightmare and looks like they are doing it with faith in God and his timing.

what’s for dinner?

I’ll just say right now that I LOVED having our meals planned out for 2 weeks. Our fridge is a little bare right now but a trip to Costco and Trader Joe’s will get us stocked back up for the next 2 weeks. I had to make a few stops at the store for milk and greek yogurt in between,  but now that Target has a grocery store I was able to do it on a quick stop there (quick stop for multiple things that weren’t on my list by the way).  I’m very excited for this new addition at Target but can’t decide if it’s going to cost me more money or less.

Clean Eating is still the name of the game in our house. This is what I can say I’ve for sure noticed after 3 weeks (or is it 4?): 1.  The less I eat of the sugary/carb loaded stuff the less I crave it and miss it — It seriously is true.  2.  When I would eat it again (last night for example – baked beans, ribs in yummy bbq sauce, frozen yogurt with chocolate syrup and a cupcake – I wasn’t messing around!) I wanted more of it and today I can’t seem to get full or satisfied with what I’m eating. 3.  My stomach has reacted when I eat these foods again; I’ll just leave it at that.

Challenges: 1.   Eating out is hard! My husband thought I was CRAZY when I ordered a hamburger without the bun at The Graduate for dinner and the guy taking my order, “wasn’t quite sure how to put it in the computer.” But, I was making an effort to try to stick to eating clean.  2.  Weekends.  I always want to make a yummy dessert I’ve seen on Pinterest and we have a tendency to eat out more on the weekends; I need to do a better job of sticking to a normal eating routine on the weekends as well.

The next two weeks of dinners I have planned are Paleo inspired and all from the same website. I had “pinned” the slow cooked pork recipe and when I went went to read the ingredients and recipe I got sucked into her blog and managed to plan out the entire 2 weeks all from her site.  I love that the author of Everyday Paleo is a local Chico Mom and a true believe of eating Paleo and the healthy benefits that go along with it. I am not making the full switch Paleo but these recipes look delicious regardless.  For now, I am sticking with oatmeal in the morning, eating more veggies as snacks, lunch will be leftovers from dinner or avocado and lunch meat, and these Paleo dinners that all look fantastic! Maybe you don’t want to try eight new recipes in a row  but at least you could pick out a few and get them into your normal weekly dinner rotation.

And as far as the two little kiddos go — I am not making anything special for them; they are going to try these recipes right along with us. I want them to at least try the food we are eating. I will probably add applesauce or yogurt to their plate as well to at least have something I know they’ll eat.  They aren’t always huge fans of the meals but  if they at least try it, I’m happy. I read this great article here about the reason kids eat processed junk is because that’s what their parents give them and I couldn’t agree more. If I offer the girls an apple or cookies which are they going to choose? But If I just slice up an apple and put a little peanut butter in the bowl will they complain if they know a cookie wasn’t even an option?Probably not.  I liked her perspective and it is a good reminder of how important we are in shaping our children’s opinions on food and their healthy food eating choices down the road.  Do I think it’s important? Yes, yes, and yes! Do my kids eat a perfect, healthy diet? Heck no!  We are far from perfect and if you ask Norah what she’d like for dinner on any given night her answer is usually a passionate request for, “chicken nuggets!” But we are trying and if we can have them eating healthy foods 80% of the time I’m good with some treats the other 20%.

Here’s the recipe line up all courtesy of Everyday Paleo:

And I think this recipe for Fried Apples will be dessert one night.

Have a great week and let me know if you try any of the recipes!

e is for eagle

I’ve been a little slow on posts this week —  but we did manage to make our next letter in our alphabet series, letter E. Here’s the website where I’m searching for letter inspiration and then finding my own ways to make each letter.

What you’ll need:

  • Construction paper: white letter E, yellow beak, brown wings, white tail, and a piece to glue it all on
  • Glue Stick
  • Googly Eyes (I love these things!)

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Since the tape isn’t quite doing it’s job on the wall, and I am always walking  in to find the masking tape (I’ve even tried painter’s tape!) stuck on the wall and the paper buried underneath whatever toys they had out on the floor, I’ve decided to instead use them to make a book. I can’t decide whether it’ll just be a binder and page protectors or scan them in and make a book on Shutterfly but I am liking this idea more and it’ll be something they can look through and hold onto down they road if they want.

jumping in puddles

Is there anything as fun as jumping in puddles? After watching my two little ones I think their answer would be an enthusiastic, “NO!” This morning we bundled up and headed outside to go puddle hunting and found some perfect ones for jumping, splashing, and running through. Everybody had fun and we came back to the house wet, muddy, and cold but with huge smiles; nothing a cup of hot chocolate and warm clothes couldn’t fix.

I sent my Mom the picture of Norah and her umbrella and she wrote back, “So sweet through the eyes of a child, huh?” And that was the perfect way to describe it. They did not have a care in the world and were splashing and running uninhibited through those puddles giggling and laughing the entire time. Remember when life was that simple? Wet feet? Who cares. Mud on my face? Even better. It was a perfect reminder to let them have these moments even if they mean a little more mess and time cleaning up for me. And it was a reminder to get in there and jump in the puddles with them…they loved it and we were all three laughing out loud before it was over.

No boots for this girl – and yes, she put on her own shoes this morning. 🙂

leprechaun trap and tricks

This is the first year I’ve tried making a leprechaun trap with the girls; they did them at daycare last year and I thought the idea was really cute. I’m pretty sure they don’t really know what a leprechaun is; I think they are picturing Buddy the Elf back from Christmastime. They had fun making their little traps and we’ve been setting them with a gold coin as bait at night. In the morning they find no coin but a small candy and this morning that silly leprechaun left green footprints on our toilet! (he had turned the toilet bowl water green but somehow this morning it was back to normal…not naming names but I’m wondering if someone flushed it when he got up this morning?!)

I’ve been trying to think of a few more tricks he can play and have come up with these:  green milk in the fridge, writing something on the bathroom mirror with a shamrock sticker, setting up some sort of toy in the center of the playroom and putting shamrock stickers on it, maybe decorating their bed with the same shamrock stickers. . . I need to find a use for all the shamrock foam stickers I bought at Michael’s clearly!

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Here’s a few links to some other fun St. Patrick’s Day fun I found on Pinterest!

How cute is that?

This site has links to tons of St. Patrick’s Day crafts that would work for toddlers and preschoolers. Click here to go to the site.

Rainbow Waffles

How fun are these for breakfast on Saturday? Click here to go to the site.

Leprechaun

I need to get brads so we can make this little guy but I think he’s so fun! Click the picture to find another list of ideas and the above download.

Do you do any crafts with your kiddos for St. Patrick’s Day?

2 week dinner meal plan

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a weekly meal plan so I thought I’d share what I put together today.Normally I plan out one weeks worth of dinners but decided to try planning and shopping for 2 weeks this time (crazy, I know). There will most likely be a few extra stops in those two weeks for produce (mostly bananas – Stella would eat them all day every day if I let her) and milk but I’m interested to see how it goes. I already like knowing what we’ve got planned and that there’s ingredients for a variety of meals in the fridge and freezer. I’m sticking with our clean eating and it’s going really well in our house – my body feels great and my hungry eaters (all 3 of them) aren’t complaining.  All of these recipes I’m trying are new (so no guarantees they are good even though they all sound good) and almost all from the two cookbooks I bought when I started this challenge.I’ve also included two yummy treats to satisfy that sweet tooth!

I planned for 7 meals to get us through the two weeks. Most of these recipes should have leftovers for lunches or other meals to fill in those days and I know there are days we’ll eat out so I didn’t want to plan meals for every night.  I know this looks like a ton of food but I was surprised when I made my grocery list how much I already had on hand and my grocery cart didn’t look that much fuller than compared to a normal one week shopping trip. Decide what works for your family and you’ll have your meals all planned and all the ingredients to give you and your family a healthy, easy dinner that you can feel good about eating and serving.

Because I was hiding out from my family  had nothing better to do tonight I typed up the recipes from my cookbooks to share with you. Please let me know if you try any of them and what you think so I know it wasn’t a wasted effort. 🙂  You can download the recipes and print them out here: Recipes.

Here you go — write it out and stick it on your fridge and your dinners are planned for the next two weeks!

1.  Easy Baked Fish Sticks (make enough so you have leftovers for the Mexican fish tortillas), Sweet Potato Fries & Broccoli**

2. Mexican Fish Tortillas, Brown Rice, Spinach Salad

3.  Turkey Meatballs, Brown Rice, Cauliflower

4.  Swiss Cheese & Spinach Quiche, Broccoli, Fruit

5.  Whole Wheat Pasta w/ Broccoli, Spinach Salad, Fruit

6.  Loaded Black Bean Burritto, Roasted Carrots

7.  Chicken Fajitas, Brown Rice, Broccoli

And the yummy treats:

Pear Oatmeal Crisp & Skinny Monkey Cookies

** I just have to comment on the broccoli since I know it’s on there a ton. I buy the big bag at Costco (it’s like $3.99!!!) and it will last us almost two weeks. I try to change up how I cook it so it’s not just the same steamed broccoli every night. A favorite way is roasting it in the oven with olive oil and then squeezing fresh lemon juice and lemon zest on top when it comes out — delicious! I’ll also stir fry it up with any extra veggies that are in the fridge, or just steam them in the microwave.

How do you plan out your dinners? I’d love to hear!