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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