Monday, April 30, 2012

Lowes Gift Card Giveaway

The French Country Cottage is having a giveaway right now for a $100 giftcard to Lowes! 
Check it out HERE!

Colorful Soda Pop Gift Idea

I love Jones Soda Company products.  They have many different flavors of soda pop and are so colorful.  I also love how they have real photos on their labels that people have taken and sent in to have used on the pop bottles.  Another thing I love about these bottles is that under each cap is a little message - words of wisdom, words of encouragment, or a fortune.  Super fun!

The variety of bright colors that these pops come in inspired me to get crafty!

I purchased 6 different types of the pop in different colors. I tied colorful ribbon around the top of each bottle.  Every bottle had a different kind of ribbon.

I then used colorful scrapbook paper to cover a cardboard 6-pack carrier on all sides.

I love the paper I used.  The circles on one of the papers reminds me of bubbles in the soda pop and the paper is so colorful like the bottles of pop. 

I also added some embellishments to the front of the carrier along with a sparkly blue sticker that reads "celebrate."

Look how pretty it turned out.  This would make a fun end-of-the-school year gift for a day care provider or teacher.  It is inexpensive and eye-catching.  It would also be a fun gift for a child to take to a friend's birthday party.  I also thought they'd make adorable centerpieces for a party - just tie helium balloons (in different colors) to the handle and set the carrier in the middle of a table.  The balloons will look like colorful bubbles like in the soda pop and on the paper!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Loving Myself a Little Bit More

Every once in a while my mom reminds me that when you fly in an airplane they always tell you that if there is a problem you are to put your own oxygen mask on first then help the people around you.  Point being:  You can't take care of others if you are not okay.  This is a good reminder for busy moms.  My mother is very wise!

For about the past four years, I have either been pregnant (and working very hard to stay pregnant) or I have been nursing a baby.  During that time, I never felt like my body belonged to me - it was being used for someone else's well-being.  My family is complete, and I do not intend to be pregnant or nursing again (tiny sob, mixed emotions here.) I have decided it is time to focus on me a bit and consider what I need to do for my own health so that I can be a better mom and wife.

One morning recently I got up early and made breakfast and packed lunches for my husband and children.  Each of the four of them left the house that morning with healthy, homemade well-balanced meals that were made with lots of love from mama.  And do you know what I had for lunch that same day?  Diet Coke and peanut M & Ms.  By the time I had made and packed breakfast and lunches for my family, the three kids were up, the dog needed to go potty, my husband wanted me to make sure his tie was straight...and I was still in my PJs and needing to get ready for work myself.  No time for mommy to pack a lunch for herself!  Hours later, at work, when my lunch hour rolled around it hit me that at that moment my husband and children were eating very well and I had nothing for myself.  It is the way of mothers to always put their babies first.  But maybe, I could do a better job as a wife, mother, teacher, friend if I considered my needs every morning instead of allowing myself to be pushed on the back burner.

In addition to just being a busy mom, I have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.  I have found that I have a lot more energy and feel so much better when I follow the guidelines for eating, sleeping and taking the right medicines.  This too, takes deliberate planning ahead and making a real effort to take care of myself despite the daily chaos I experience as a working mom.  I have been reading and rereading the book Adrenal Fatigue:  The 21st Century Stress Syndrome that my doctor gave me (Thank you, Mel.) Using it as a constant resource keeps me on track and reminds me what is truly good for me in my situation. 

Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome

So that brings me to now.  I have decided to make a conscious effort to love myself a little bit more. I will take it one week at a time starting right away.  This week I will plan ahead for meals for myself so that I, too, am getting the healthy well-balanced meals I have been providing for my family.  I will exercise in some way every day whether it be a long walk, taking advantage of my gym membership, or dancing with my students.  I will be in bed by 10:00 at the latest.  I will exchange my beloved Diet Coke with water.  Perhaps my peanut M & Ms will have to be just peanuts without the M & M part!  I will consider what I am putting in my mouth - is what I'm putting in my mouth showing myself love or is what I'm putting in my mouth hurting me? I will make time to do something for myself during the week - reading for enjoyment, a bubble bath, watching a movie, getting a pedicure, or having a girls' night out with a friend.

A quick trip to the grocery store today and I'm ready for my "loving myself" week ahead! :)

Years ago an older woman shared with me that she found certain "plugs" in her life that she needed to have "plugged in" in order for her to function well on a day to day basis.  I have thought about that a lot lately.  These are my plugs:
  • Spending time alone with God
  • Exercising
  • Doing something creative (scrapbooking, blogging, crafts, etc.)
  • Clean house
  • Sleep
These five things keep me going strong.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Therefore, I can do all things MUCH better if I start my day alone with God! I am also in a much better mood and feel more like me when I have taken time to exercise and get at least 8 hours sleep at night.  I feel more like me when I am engaging in a creative activity.  And I function a WHOLE LOT better when my house is clean and organized.  I will try to make sure I am "plugged in" this week too! My sweet husband recognizes these things about me and is so helpful with the housework and supportive any time I say I'm leaving to go to the gym! Super thankful for that man!

I will reflect on my "loving myself" project every now and then on my blog.  Having my 86 readers checking in on me will hold me accountable and will be encouraging too! I would love to hear what you are doing to love yourself too. Please leave a comment! :)


Saturday, April 28, 2012

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Pinteresting Stuff...

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I love Pinterest but it keeps me up too late at night and keeps me from getting laundry done!  
Here are some of my recent pins...

How fun is this!

Okay, so I know this isn't something that everyone would pin but I have a three year old princess who I know would love this idea!  Besides bathtub fun, I'm also thinking the kiddie pool in the backyard this summer!  I think the boys would like floating Spiderman around too!

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Crockpot Italian Chicken: 4 chicken breasts, 1 packet Zesty Italian dressing seasoning, 1 8 oz. cream cheese (softened), 2 cans cream of chicken soup; Cook on low for 4 hours. If sauce is too thick, add a little milk. Serve over pasta.    

Yum, yum, yum!  I know my husband and children would love this.  And a crockpot meal as easy as this is the perfect working mom meal and that's the part I will love!

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I LOVE this!  This green painted cabinet with the white lamp shades and white walls with that dramatic gold mirror is really striking.  This color green is gorgeous.  Makes me want to find some old furniture to repaint!

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Have you seen this?  Oh, my goodness!  I love it!  So precious.  I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to pull this off with my Oliver because he doesn't sleep so much anymore, but I have two good friends who should do this with their new babies!!  (Tracey & Lindsey - I'm talking to you!)

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This is totally me.  My brain never shuts up.

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I'm doing this with some of my students next week!  I showed it to my 4th graders and they got all excited and begged to do it!  I was considering this activity for some of my younger students but figured if the 4th graders got all excited about it, well then, we should do it!

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Well, this would totally spruce up my workspace!  Super cute and colorful.

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Love this idea for the hanging streamers.  I like how the circles are large and get smaller as they go down.  The color scheme here is so elegant.
Speaking of elegant...

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I really want to be invited to this party!

What have you been pinning lately?  I'd love to hear!  Click on my Follow Me on Pinterest Button on the right side of the blog.  I'll follow you back and we can avoid housework together!

Happy Pinning!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Super Why Birthday Party

I have two younger sisters, Cherie and Julie.  Together, the three of us have 6 children and 5 of the 6 children have summer birthdays! (My poor little Claire is all alone with a birthday in December!)  This time of year, we get in birthday-planning mode!  I LOVE to plan birthday parties for the kids! 

As we look forward to the summer birthdays, I can't help but reminisce about past birthdays.  I thought I'd share my nephew, Nicholas' Super Why birthday he had last summer!

The invitations came from HERE.

Since the children's television show, Super Why is all about being "Super Readers" my sister, Cherie had lots of alphabet and reading related details included in the decorations, food, activities, and party favors.

I made the cupcakes for the party.  I made four different kinds:  chocolate, strawberry, lemon, and chocolate chip cookie cupcakes. It was fun to have a variety for guests to choose from and it made for a pretty cupcake table too!  In the photo above, you can see we put some of the strawberry cupcakes with the red sugared edges into the shape of a question mark to go along with the Super Why theme.

The party favors for the guests were these cute yellow bags filled with reading goodies - Super Why bookmarks, Super Why coloring pages, and baggies of Scrabble Jr. Cheez-Its.
Find Super Why printables HERE.

Each child had a Jello jiggler of their first initial on their plate.

Here is the super reader birthday boy! 3 years old!  Isn't three such a fun age? I love the cape flying out from behind him!

The birthday banner behind him is something I made for him for his first birthday.  I made a different one for all of our kids and we hang them at their birthday every year. On the back of each letter we put a birthday picture of them.  So on the H is a picture of him at 1, the A is a picture of him at 2, and so on. 

My sister made each child a Super Why personalized super hero cape to wear for the party.  She used blue plastic tablecloths and elastic.  She added each child's name to the logo on the computer and printed them off.  She then taped them on with clear book tape.  Aren't they adorable?  The kids LOVED them!  Every one ran around yelling "Super Readers to the Rescue!"

We bounced balloons on the parachute (while wearing our super hero capes, of course!)
The parachute is always a big hit!

One of the funnest activities was the secret message the kids had to figure out. First they had to hunt around the yard to find letters.  They found them in trees, on the swing set, and in flower beds. They were given a large piece of foam board with lines for three words on it.  Each word only had one letter in it though.  The older kids then had to use the letters they found to decode the message and read it to the younger kids.

They all LOVED the message!

Here is our little Nicholas blowing out his three candles!  I love the chubby cheeks here! Just wanna kiss them!

All 6 cousins together!  Notice Baby Addie - the pink bundle in the middle with the tiny foot sticking out?!?  She was brand new here!  Brand new and at a birthday party three weeks before her due date! 

The birthday boy snuggling his new baby cousin!

And here are my boys!  They are my super heroes!

Nicholas' birthday is coming up again in June.  The time seems to go by so fast!  I asked my sister recently what kind of party we were going to be working on for him this year.  She kind of rolled her eyes and said "Well, he wants a Super Why party again!"  He still remembers what a special day that was and can't imagine anything more wonderful! Planning birthday parties is one of my most favorite jobs as a mama! 
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Blog Love

As of right now, my blog has 10,384 pageviews!  Woo Hoo! 
Thank you, readers!

If you are not an official follower, please join! 
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Keep checking in as I have some really great giveaways coming up in the month of May! 


Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Sinful Cake Recipe

I have seen this several different versions of this recipe on Pinterest and thought I'd give it a try.  Here is my version - just a bit altered from what I have read.

Better Than Sex Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix
1 can sweetened condensed milk
 1 jar hot fudge sauce
1 squirt bottle of caramel topping
1-8 oz container of Cool Whip
Bag of Heath bits (found in store by chocolate chips)

Make and bake cake according to box directions in a 9 x 13 pan. As soon as it comes out of the oven, poke holes with the handle of a wooden spoon all over the cake. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the top. (I didn't use quite the whole can.) Let cool about 30 minutes. Next spread fudge over the cake and squirt some caramel on top of that. Put in the fridge for about 30 more minutes. Remove from fridge and spread Cool Whip over the top.  Sprinkle with Heath bits. Refrigerate the leftovers.

This is the type of cake that you need to "scoop" out rather than cut!  It is heavenly but probably 40,000 calories per scoop!  It is very rich and filling. Definitely sinful! Try it out for your next birthday or potluck!  You will hear lots of "Mmmm" followed by "I want this recipe!"

Be Happy

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Life on Boppa's Farm

This precious little calf was born on Boppa and Grandma Beth's farm last Friday, April 20.  When Hugh found out he had to rush right over.

In celebration of the birth, Boppa and Grandma Beth invited Hugh and his cousins to have a boy cousins' sleepover!  (Actually, I'm not entirely sure if they invited them or if the boys just invited themselves!)

This is the new baby with his mama and his auntie!
The boys named the new baby calf, Stormy because he was born during a rain storm.

Here is Hugh with Stormy and Stormy's mom!

Oliver was very excited about the new baby cow and pointed and babbled telling us all about it!

Claire was interested but didn't want to get too close.
Boppa held her up to see.

Here she is "mooing" to the cows!

Isn't he precious?  New life is so amazing! Such a miracle!

I think these three little miracles are pretty amazing too!