Friday, December 30, 2011

Doll Hair Detangler - Updated with recipe!

Thank goodness for Pinterest. About a month ago I pinned a picture of a homemade doll hair detangler. I was hoping it worked, since my daughter's Target brand "American Girl" doll had some seriously tangled hair, and it was making her seriously sad! I am happy to announce that it worked! Because the blog where I originally pinned the recipe from is now removed, I will repost it here.

Basically you will need a spray bottle, liquid fabric softener, water, and a wire brush or wide tooth comb. Fill a spray bottle with 2 tablespoons liquid fabric softener, and then fill the rest with water. Shake to mix well. The first time I worked on the doll, I used a wire brush, but later for the Barbies I just used a wide-tooth comb and it was fine.

I wish I had taken "before" pics of my oldest daughter's doll. Let's just say it was an unmanageable ball of tangles, that could not be tamed into ANY style, not even a ponytail. My daughter got two new outfits for Christmas, and couldn't use the hair accessories for either of them because Sunny's hair was so mangy. Here is Sunny now. One thing I will say is that Sunny lost a LOT of hair in the process. Like, several handfuls. But I figured it was better to have less hair that my daughter could actually style than more hair in a big tangly ball. For my younger daughter's doll and the Barbies, they lost hardly any hair at all, so I think the key here is to detangle early and often!
 Here's my younger daughter's doll, Jenny. Her hair didn't start out nearly as bad, because it doesn't get played with nearly as much. Minor tangling problem.

Jenny Before:
 Jenny After:

I worked on some Barbies while I was at it. Here are their nice smooth manes.

I actually did this for my older daughter's doll on Christmas Day, and at the end of a full day being spoiled by presents, delicious food, and tons of family time, I asked her what her favorite part of the WHOLE day was. And guess what she said? "When you fixed Sunny's hair." Seriously. Could have saved myself some money on presents, I guess!

So try it out! Let me know if you have any other helpful tips!

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

4-Week Cleaning Schedule for Real-Life, Busy Moms!

One thing I love about the new year is the chance to revamp my routines and recommit to a clean house! While I now work full-time, I never felt that I had the time to clean the house, even when I was a stay-at-home mom! I think that putting it off on the excuse that we don't have time to "do it right" is one of the worst things we can do to ourselves! The effect of even 15 minutes a day is powerful, and usually once you get going, you can squeeze in more time than that.

This year, I put together a 4-week Cleaning Schedule for myself. Each day of the week has a part of the house to focus on, and 2 tasks to do weekly, 4 bi-weekly, and 4 monthly. If you only have 15 minutes, do the white section, the tasks for that room that need to be done weekly. These are the most important things, the regular maintenance-type tasks needed to keep the house fairly clean and generally company-ready. If you have 30 minutes, add the yellow section section, the tasks that can be done every other week. And, if you find yourself still going, add the last turquoise section, the tasks that are more deep-cleaning, and don't need to be done quite so frequently.

There's also an additional page with a Daily Cleaning Schedule, Weekly Laundry Schedule, and a Weekly Menu. After I print these out, I am going to laminate them so that I can write my menu in, and cross off items on my Cleaning Schedule as I complete them.

So here it is! Click on the link, and print away! Enjoy! Or, set up your own schedule that works for you! By the way, the font looks a little blurry in Google Docs, but isn't when printed out.

Psst... I don't wanna hear any comments about the types of things I think can go a whole month without being done, okay? I'm a lazy cleaner, I readily admit it. Something is better than nothing!

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Books of 2011

So I got a Nook at the beginning of this year, thus touching off a year of reading unlike any other of my married life. Finally my two biggest hurdles to reading were cleared: the expense of buying a book I'd finish in a day or two, and the inconvenience of making it to the library, once to check out the book, and once to return it. I also work at an elementary school, giving me the opportunity to read a lot of Young Adult or Children's fiction, marked with (YA) on my list.

I love book lists, but feel like it would take forever to review everything I read this year! I'm going to start by listing them by their stars I gave them on Goodreads, and then if my kids aren't back in from the snow yet, I'll go back and add some notes!

I tend to gravitate toward family-type dramas, but those rarely actually end up on my favorites lists. I am trying to branch out and try some new things! I went through several periods of not reading at all this year, so I'm hoping to read even more this year. I also didn't rate anything as 1-star because I generally don't finish books I'm not liking, and I didn't bother to list all of those.

*Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand: This was a great book about a runner who goes to fight in World War II, and his bomber crashes in the middle of the ocean, touching off a long, excruciatingly difficult journey. While this book was a little on the long side, it was interesting and educational, and one of my favorites of the year.
*The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein: A story of a small family and its ups and downs, told by the perspective of the family pet. Because it mostly tells the story of the husband (and is narrated by a dog?!?), it wasn't one that normally would have appealed to me. But it was emotionally well-told, and kept me turning pages until I was done. Couldn't put it down.
*The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin: Non-fiction account of the author's year of setting goals to bring her more happiness in her life. Loved her insights, and it made me seriously re-evaluate some things about myself. Didn't hurt that it had an emphasis on goal-setting, which I love!
*The Help, by Kathryn Stockett: I think most people know this story already. Loved the characters, loved the story, even loved the movie. Can't get better than that!

*Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
*No Time to Wave Goodbye, by Jacquelyn Mitchard
*Every Last One, by Anna Quindlen: This was a SAD book about a family tragedy, told from the perspective of the mother. I love tear-jerker books, and this was well-written and compelling.
*The Birth House, by Ami McKay: A story of a midwife's apprentice in the time of World War I, and addresses the choices and opportunities women were dealing with in terms of their choices in birth control and childbirth. Well-told and interesting.
*Countdown, by Deborah Wiles (YA): Coming-of-age story of a 12-year-old girl who lives in Washington DC in 1962. The whole country is worried about the Cuban Missile Crisis and doing air raid drills, while Franny deals with family issues, political stress, and drama with friends and boys. Told in kind of a "scrapbook" style with lots of actual pictures, news clippings, quotes from political figures, etc. I actually learned a lot about that time period!
*Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick (YA): Cool book - two intertwining stories set 50 years apart. One is told entirely through beautiful illustrations, the other told traditionally in words. Both main characters are children who are deaf, adding another layer of interest to the book. It's long, at about 650 pages, but I made it through it in just a night since so much of the book is illustrated.
*Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli (YA)
*Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See
*The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls

*Labor Day, by Joyce Maynard
*The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy, by Stieg Larsson: These were interesting books, but so much language and graphic sexual violence, I had a hard time with them. I did read the whole trilogy though, so I guess that says something.
*The Stuff That Never Happened, by Maddie Dawson
*The Climb and The Contest (Everest series), by Gordon Korman (YA): I'm actually embarrassed at how into these books I was. I read them at school during silent reading time, and couldn't wait to get back to them each afternoon. They weren't super well-written, but I did want to see where the story went!
*The Giver, by Lois Lowry (YA): I think I would have liked this better if I'd read it before The Hunger Games. Just not quite as exciting in terms of a futuristic society type of book.
*Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli (YA)
*Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Olsen and Learned to Love Being Hated, by Alison Arngrim
*Bossypants, by Tina Fey: I wanted to like this book more than I did. It was my first book I've ever actually purchased for the Nook. It had some great parts, like her prayer for her daughter, but otherwise I found it just okay.

*Harvesting the Heart, by Jodi Picoult
*Picture Perfect, by Jodi Picoult
*Going Rogue, by Sarah Palin
*A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick
*Beginner's Luck, by Laura Pedersen

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Christmas Countdown

So when I saw this cute idea on Pinterest, I knew my kids would love it. Mine didn't turn out nearly as darling, but that's okay! I'm making a new goal here on the blog to just post what I'm doing, regardless of if my pictures turned out just right, or the craft turned out just as I planned.

Basically, we made Santa heads, then made some long beards. The kids numbered backward from 25 to 1, and then they cut off a number each day. When they get to the 25, it's Christmas! So, similar to a paper chain, but cuter, and with more personality!

This craft definitely did NOT turn out just as I'd imagined, but they're definitely entertaining to look at, and the kids love chopping Santa's beard off each night!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Homemade Pocket Warmer Tutorial: Great teacher gift!

This year I decided to make pocket warmers for my kids' teachers as part of their Christmas gift. They were soooo super easy, and my kids were able to help, which they loved! We even made them more personal by tracing the kids' hands.  You will need:
  • a small amount of flannel or fleece
  • coordinating thread
  • rice to fill them 
Step 1: Trace your child's hand in a mitten shape, then add another quarter inch or so around the edges for a seam allowance. You will need 4 cut-outs for each set, two going each direction.

Step 2: Sew around the edges on your machine, leaving the bottoms open to fill later. Before you turn them right side out, trim the edges to reduce bulk, especially where the thumb meets the mitten.

Step 3: Topstitch around the mitten, still leaving the bottom open.

Step 4: Fill with rice. Make sure you don't fill them too full. My husband said he measured out 3 oz. for each, which is between 1/4 c. and 1/2 c. Don't mind my daughter here in all her snow gear!

Step 5: Before sewing them shut, clip your edges to reduce bulk. Also, putting a pin down low where the rice is helps the mitten to stay nice and flat in the machine.

Step 6: Stitch the bottoms closed. And you're done!

Here's the link to the poem we put with them. I had some cute clip art in there too, but I guess Google Docs hates clip art.

Most teachers have some sort of outside bus duty or recess duty, so I chose these with that in mind. I hope my kids' teachers enjoy these! Best of all, they were super cheap and easy to make!

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Great Idea for Closet Clutter

Love this super easy idea I saw on Pinterest.

(Photo NOT my own, courtesy of original blog post on

Each year on January 1st, turn all your hangers around backwards. As you wear the item of clothing, hang it back up on a hanger facing the correct way. After 6 months, 12 months, whatever you like, you can easily tell which items you haven't worn. Then you need to get brave and donate them. Unless you have a really, really, like seriously good reason. I think I'm going to try this. I'll let you know how it works out!

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Cranberry Salsa

This is a great recipe for the holidays - easy, festive, beautiful, and delicious! My mom came across this recipe for cranberry salsa a few years ago and it's been a family tradition ever since! This is a good one to bring to parties and potlucks!
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Cranberry Salsa
Printable Version here


  • 1 (12 ounce) bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
Combine cranberries, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno pepper, lime juice, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your food processor, and chop to desired consistency. Our food processor is not big enough for this entire batch at once, so I mix it in a bowl, and then put it into the food processor in batches. This salsa is best made the night before or a few hours before, and refrigerated so that the flavors have a chance to blend, but do not make more than a day in advance. Serve with tortilla chips.
Recipe originally from 

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Cornmeal Waffles

Pretend you don't know that this is a child's plate purchased at IKEA.

We have a tradition in our family to have Breakfast for Dinner on Friday nights. It's easy, it's different, and it gives us a chance to enjoy some breakfast favorites that we don't have time for in the morning.

This past weekend we tried these Blender Cornmeal Waffles. They're super easy - just toss all the ingredients in the blender, blend, and bake 'em off in your waffle iron! These freeze really well, so you can double the batch, cook them all, then keep some in the freezer for those busy mornings!

Note: We make a triple batch of this for our family of 5, so we do it in a bowl and then use our immersion blender to mix.

Blender Cornmeal Waffles (courtesy of
1 egg
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
     *Blend all ingredients, either in a blender, or in a bowl using an immersion blender. Cook in waffle iron. Makes 12-15 waffles.

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

This bread was one of the first things I pinned on Pinterest, and my husband and I have been drooling over it for months. Finally, today was the day. The problem with Pinterest is that it's just beautiful pictures, so you never know how the recipes will turn out. But this bread tasted amazing, and an actual quote from my husband this morning? "I love it when something I make turns out exactly like the pictures." Crispy on the top, soft in the middle, sticky on the bottom. Can't beat that!

We didn't change the recipe at all, so head on over to Joy the Baker and check out her tutorial on this bread.

We may or may not have been using Our Best Bites' Buttermilk Caramel Syrup for something else in our brunch, and accidentally spooned extra onto our plates to sop up with this bread. Yum!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tinkerbell/Pixie Hollow Birthday Party

iThis past weekend was my daughter's 6th birthday party, and we had a Tinkerbell/Pixie Hollow theme.

*Pixie Wands: We used wooden dowels and decorations to make the wands. I also set out sequins, glitter glue, markers, and ribbons for the girls to decorate their wands.

*Pixie Pinnies: Use the old straight clothespins to make little pixies. I set out scraps of fabric and let them design their own dresses. They used markers to draw faces and jewelry. I had pre-cut some yarn for the hair, but they were able to choose the color they wanted and trim it if they wanted to change the length. For the wings, they colored coffee filters with marker, and then we lightly spritzed them with water and let them dry before gluing them to the back.

*Pixie Hollow Treasure Hunt: I took each of the pixies and glued their picture to a notecard, then laminated it and strung a ribbon through a hole in the corner. I came up with a clue for each pixie based on their "talent" (e.g. "Rosetta is a garden fairy. She has been busy this summer growing some VERY tall flowers!")

*Pin the Wings on Tink: Version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. I just printed out a picture of Tinkerbell and glued it to a posterboard, then made a set of wings with each girl's name.

Cake & Treats:
*We did a two-layer fondant cake, meant to look like nature with the pixies in it. The top layer was the blue sky with clouds, then the bottom had a river, grass, and flowers. My daughter had some Pixie Hollow figurines that we placed around the cake. We got lucky here because these particular figurines are meant to be on a plastic stand, so each one had a hole in its back, where we stuck a toothpick and then stuck them into the cake.

*We  borrowed an idea from this month's Family Fun magazine and made little acorns out of Hershey Kisses and mini Nilla wafers with a bit of pretzel stuck on top. We handed them out in the gift bags with a note that said, "Thank you for spending my birthday with me at Pixie Hollow!"
(Photo courtesy of Family Fun Magazine)

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