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. 🙂

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!

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.

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?

make a goal monday

For Christmas the girls each received a set of matching high chair and baby beds from their Nana and Papa; they were a big hit from the beginning and have received lots of play time throughout the day for multiple dolls and stuffed animals. When I walked down the hallway to a suspiciously quiet playroom last night and found the chair in the below condition I was ticked, to say the least. They haven’t broken a lot of toys or played rough enough with things to ruin them so I was very surprised to see the high chair with a broken back rest sitting forlornly in the hallway and two very quiet girls, each in their own room.

Here’s where it doesn’t get pretty: I yelled (as much as I wish I didn’t yell, I did) for both girls to come in the hallway and demanded answers for what happened to the chair. Norah tried telling me a story about a baby being too big or Stella trying to fit in the chair (??) and I (most likely still yelling) began lecturing them about how we don’t treat our toys this way and now it’s ruined and they can’t play with it anymore and blah, blah, blah. I believe I might have even said that she’d have to call Nana and tell her she broke the high chair (really?). To which my ever sweet Norah replied, “Ok, Mommy.” (How can I be mad at that girl?) I sent them both to their room and left the hallway with two scared little girls crying in their rooms.  As I came back out to the kitchen I felt like yelling at myself for my immediate jump to yelling and the anger that came out so quickly.  I don’t want to be the angry Mom, but sometimes find myself still feeling that way; my patience has a tendency to disappear very quickly, especially when I’m tired or hungry (in my defense it had been a long day out and about and bedtime was approaching for everybody).

I finished the dinner dishes and calmed down before calling both girls out. I got down so I was below their eye level and was looking up at them and in a very calm, quiet voice and with lots of eye contact I asked if they knew why I was upset and it led to a conversation about how we treat our toys and if they can’t make it work how they need to get Mom or Dad. I looked at both little girls and told them I was very sorry I yelled at them and that sometimes Mommy gets upset and yells but it never means I don’t love you. And that same little Norah girl says, “I love you so much to the moon and back, Mommy.” Seriously? Talk about major Mommy guilt and feeling like bad Mom. I’m pretty sure I’m not the first Mom to feel like this or have a moment like this (and if I am then I need to shut this blog down today) but it still makes you feel like you are the only one who doesn’t have it figured out and that you are screwing up your kids (or is that only me that feels that way?)

As I was finishing up all the chores I have to finish before I can finally sit down for the night I was thinking about the upcoming week and everything we had going on. Then I started thinking about setting a few mommy goals for myself for the week and then thought how this could be a forum to share goals for the week (mom related or not). I’ve found that when you post goals or share them with someone it makes you more accountable and you’ll have a tendency to follow through on them.

So here are my goals for this week:

  • NO YELLING! There are plenty of ways to get the same point across without yelling — whisper, take a breath and say it normally…
  • If they ask me to play, read, dress-up, comb their hair – I am not going to say, “hold on while I finish this,” I am going to PLAY!

These aren’t life changing and don’t require a lot of time, thought or effort (hopefully not anyway) just a way to work on my relationship with my girls and work on my patience (or lack of) when I find myself getting frustrated and angry. Nobody is perfect and we have to remember that nobody really has this parenting thing figured out – we are all trying the best we can and finding out what works for us and our families.  But if you know there are areas you want to improve on (LIKE MY YELLING FOR EXAMPLE) then setting small weekly goals can help you work on them. Non-parenting goals are great too — they can be health, work, marriage, even money related! I’d love to hear your goals for this week – anything you are going to focus on. This might become a new idea for Monday’s here at Mom’ Secret Weapon!

clean eating challenge

Hi. My name is Lindsay and I am a sugar/carb addict. Can anyone relate?

I’ve always considered myself a fairly healthy person and eater. We always have plenty of veggies and fruit around our house, I stick to low-fat milk  and I try to snack on yogurt or almonds during the day. Try would be the key word there; there are also days where I snack on a nice plate of homemade nachos or graham crackers with peanut butter dipped in a glass of milk, seriously yum but probably not the best on the waistline or my heart. Then if you take it one step further and  really look at the labels in many of the easy go-to products you’ll see the crazy amounts of hidden sugar and other additives to make them low-fat or last longer. Maybe this doesn’t matter to you and for the most part, I’ll admit it doesn’t matter that much to me, usually I’d rather just stick my fingers in my head and say, “la, la, la, I can’t hear you” and pretend that it’s not bad for me. Just looking at the box of graham crackers for example: the first ingredient listed (meaning it is the biggest one) is unbleached, enriched flour and farther down the list is the big no-no partially hydrogenated oil.  How they can say they are “whole grain” when the first ingredient listed is white four and farther down the list is whole grain wheat flour I don’t know.  So, I’ve decided I want to try to make a big change and see if I notice a difference in energy and overall health and go without the pre-packaged stuff and all the sugar. I am setting small goals first – 7 days of eating clean and then hoping to make it to 30. Baby steps, folks. If it seems to be working and fitting in our lifestyle then I hope to just continue.

Will there be days where it doesn’t happen perfectly? Absolutely. That is part of life and I think looking at everything I’ve read about Clean Eating is that it’s a lifestyle rather than a diet (I hate that word anyway) and the goal is more to eat clean 80% of the time and then leave 20% of the time for goodies that aren’t necessarily “clean”. I bought two new books to help me in this process:” “The Idiots Guide to Clean Eating” (the highest reviews on Amazon.com for Clean Eating cookbooks) and “The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook” by Tosca Reno. So far I’m impressed with both – very easy to read, lots of valuable information on why Clean Eating is so good for your body, and the recipes look fantastic! Between those two books I’ll have plenty of breakfast, lunch, and dinner inspiration. I’ve also found thegraciouspantry.com as another online resource.

There is so much information out there that it’s hard to decide what’s right/wrong and good/bad and I went back and forth between trying a Paleo Challenge or a Clean-Eating Challenge. In the end I decided I liked that Clean-Eating has whole-grains and dairy included in it and thought it will be an easier transition to just work on cutting out the over-processed and refined foods (white sugar, white flour, white rice) at first and then if we want to cut the others out we always could. For the most part my kids are going to eat clean right along with when it works. I am not going to throw out all the graham crackers and gold fish (thank you, Costco) just yet but as we finish them I might look for alternatives from Trader Joe’s.

These are the Clean-Eating Principles:

  • Eat a small meal every two to three hours (5 to 6 small meals per day total) to keep blood sugar level and prevent hunger
  • Combine both protein and complex carbs at every meal (*Proteins are meats, cheese, beans, legumes, and nuts. Complex carbs are fruit, veggies, breads and grains)
  • Avoid ALL over-processed and refined foods (especially sugar, white rice, and white flour)
  • Avoid saturated and trans fat, instead consuming healthy fats (like avocados and olive oil)
  • Avoid ALL sodas and other sugary juices and drinks
  • Choose organic food whenever possible
  • Avoid high-calorie, zero nutrient foods (i.e., junk food)
  • Eat meals with proper portion sizes
  • Drink at least 8 cups of water every day

I’ve seen alcohol as something to stay away from while eating clean and I’ve also seen the occasional glass of red-wine as ok (antioxidants and all I guess). These seem doable to me. Now, keep in mind I read my “Complete Idiots Guide to Clean Eating” with the leftover bag of candy from Powells Candy Shop this afternoon — can you say oxymoron? So, I have a feeling it will be easier said than done but I like the principles. I liked reading all the recipes and knowing everything in them and thinking how fresh and delicious they sounded. And I’m interested to give it an honest shot and see if I feel a difference in energy and mood, according to many of the blogs I’ve read they do and that’s why they continue to eat clean. I know right now I will not be making a huge effort to purchase everything organic. If the price seems decent I will, but I am not going to break the bank to buy all our produce and meat organic.

Take a look at this . . .

This is the amount of food I should throw out/donate since it does not meet the Clean Eating requirements. The doors on my fridge look empty.

And this is from the pantry:

I couldn’t stomach the idea of throwing out that much food (and my husband would probably kill me) so I made a pile of canned goods I could donate and got rid of things that were almost gone and that we really hardly ate (all the salad dressings, syrups etc.) and the rest I’ll keep and we’ll use here and there. Does any of it surprise you? It was interesting reading the labels — did you know horseradish has high fructose corn syrup? I did not. I’ll admit this kinda felt good – my shelves are a little emptier and my fridge isn’t loaded with all those condiments taking up space.

Meal planning and grocery shopping this weekend and my goal is to start my challenge Monday. Here are some great ideas for what a day of clean eating might look like.

Anybody want to join me?

dr. temple grandin

I had the honor of hearing Dr. Grandin speak last night at the Butte County Farm Bureau Annual Dinner.  Now I will admit I didn’t really know who she was before I saw the HBO movie; I had heard her name before but didn’t really know who she was or what she had done for agriculture or special education.  The movie was an inspiration. I was amazed in her, her life, and all she has accomplished personally and professionally while fighting the limitations her autism tried to put on her. So when Luke mentioned that she was speaking at the dinner and he could get us tickets I was really excited to go hear her talk and she didn’t let down.

I’m sharing the link to the HBO movie trailer. If you haven’t seen this movie – watch it! Claire Danes played her so well and it is a great family friendly movie that gives great insight into what autism looks/sounds/feels like for someone living with it.

Temple Grandin Movie Trailer

valentine’s day fun

Here’s a few of the fun things we did and ate today in honor of the day of love. I enjoy Valentine’s Day and think it’s fun to spend a day gushy, mushy and making as many things heart shaped and pink as possible. And on a side note – it’s the 8 year anniversary of Luke proposing from the side of the road so it sort of has a special spot for that reason too.

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

These have become a staple in our house for breakfast. Partly because I almost always have Greek Yogurt in my fridge (love it!) and second because the girls can eat pancakes like they are going out of style. When I first tried the recipe for these I was hooked and have a feeling this could become our go-to pancake recipe. There is very little flour and they are loaded with protein from all the yogurt.  And, although I’m not a crazy-obsessed-organic-all-natural-eating-Mom, I do appreciate that I know everything that is in these and they aren’t made from a packaged mix loaded with ingredients I can’t read. I tried making these using heart pancake molds I bought at Cost Plus and never making fun shaped pancakes before there was a definite learning curve. Apparently, you don’t want the pancake to cook all the way in the mold or it’ll get stuck and you’ll just have mess trying to get it out. So, we had a few decent heart shapes and more little silver dollar sized circles because I lost patience and had hungry girls. All in all I’d say light pink, sort of heart shaped pancakes, were a great way to start our morning.  Try these for breakfast. They are fast, healthy, and I’m sure you could make a huge batch and freeze some for easy breakfasts.

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

adapted from everydaybelle.com

  • 1 1/2 C of your favorite greek yogurt (today we used Plain, Non-Fat but I’ve used Vanilla before and want to try Mango or Pineapple)
  • 2 eggs (even healthier would be just egg whites)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 C flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • Optional: red food dye

Mix the yogurt and eggs together well; add in the vanilla.

In another bowl mix the flour and baking powder. Add the egg/yogurt mixture to the flour mixture and mix well. It will be very thick. Today I added a few drops of red food dye to get the light pink shade for Valentine’s.

Spoon onto a hot griddle and flip when they start to bubble. Using the mold I set it down on the griddle, sprayed it with non-stick spray then spooned a little into the mold. After it had a few  minutes to set I carefully removed the mold and let it continue cooking before flipping. Serve with whatever you love on pancakes.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

These are beyond delicious — two red velvet whoopie cookies sandwiched with delicious cream cheese frosting between. Here is the link to Annie’s Eats with directions and much cuter pictures than mine. I managed to make a batch of these today while they girls were napping and we delivered them to our parents and grandparents. They are adorable for Valentine’s Day but would be a sweet treat anytime of the year. I forget how good red velvet cake is and could easily eat quite a few of these in one sitting.

Here’s what I learned from making them:

1.  Really mix the cocoa powder with the flour. I left little clumps thinking my stand mixer would break them up; it did not and I can see little clumps in my finished cookies.

2.Pipe out smaller hearts — she said she got 18 sandwich cookies out of her dough — I believe I got 9 so I was a little generous with my batter.

3.  Use parchment paper not wax paper. It worked but got a little smokey at the end of baking.

4.  More red food coloring! I ran out and used probably half of what she did and I love how red hers are.

Scavenger Hunt

We ended our day with a scavenger hunt in pajamas. This is one of the traditions I remember my Mom doing growing up and knew it was one I couldn’t wait to continue when I had kids.

She always had it all set up when we woke up and we’d tear through the house, reading the clues and moving on to the next one before coming to a small Valentine’s gift at the end. I believe this continued until I left for college. I’ll never forget the year I was 16 and it was a driving scavenger hunt with my younger brother that ended at an old Bed and Breakfast for brunch with my Grandma and parents — talk about a memory!  Next year my plan is to be more prepared and have them wake up to one; we will see if that happens.

I bought a cheap box of Valentines and wrote 10 different clues for each girl and while Luke distracted them I put them around the house. “Where does your toothbrush live?”  “Where do your babies sleep?” Where are your pajamas?” Where do your dirty clothes go?” Where does Stella eat dinner” After watching how into it they were I’m wondering why I’ve never done something like this on a normal day when we are looking for something fun to do.  Thank you Target $1 section for an easy goodie basket of  chap-stick,  princess notepads, princess puzzles, and water bottles.  I love this tradition and can’t wait to do it again next year.

   

Here’s to a fun day of love and continuing that love all year!