Amy Beth

Monday, March 31, 2014

March in Review

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Here’s what I learned in March:

Turning two is even more fun than turning one! Mainly because two year olds can do more. And they figure out what a party is and will remember it and talk about it for several weeks afterward.

Not eating sugar is not really very fun. Even if you come up with some fun new snacks, sometimes you still just really want a cookie.

The bracket was a brilliant invention. I generally loathe all things sports-like, but even I will root for a team that I have randomly picked to go far on my bracket, and be briefly but genuinely disappointed when someone I have randomly picked to go far bites the dust. Without the bracket I would be clueless and indifferent.

Planning for perfection means I never get anything done. But just jumping in and doing something without a grand plan means I finish some edging for a flower garden and finally get some art on the walls.

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My son is a bit of a shutterbug. I recently cleared my phone of about 200 images that he had taken. Here is a small sampling:

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For each of those images there were about 20 more that looked exactly the same.

Here’s to hoping the end of March takes winter with it. I’m ready for Spring!

 

As usually I’m linking up at Chatting at the Sky with a bunch of other people who have learned things in March.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

DIY Deodorant

REDACTED: A couple weeks after writing this post my all natural DIY deodorant started causing a lot of irritation. It turns out such high levels of baking soda are not good for applying regularly to the skin. There are other deodorant recipes out there that do not use baking soda, but they’re all a bit more work than I am willing to put in, so I’m back to the conventional stuff. So much for being an all-natural hippy!


 

Sometimes I’m a lot less “all-natural” than I may lead people to believe on this blog. For example, I just ate a copious amount of PuffCorn Delites with my lunch.

But sometimes I surprise even the people who know me and my crunchy granola tendencies well with some of my “all-natural” experiments.  Take my deodorant, for example. I haven’t worn regular store-bought deodorant for several months, opting instead for a homemade variety. After reading several alarming articles concerning toxic chemicals and aluminum in deodorant, I figured it couldn’t hurt. It also happened to work, which was a relief. Here’s how to do it!

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You need some baking soda, coconut oil, and a small container to store your deodorant in. An empty deodorant container from your seedy toxin-ridden past works best.

Read more…

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Cookie-Free Snack

Creamy Citrus Crackers - a healthy snack

I’m doing an experiment on myself called “cutting out the sugar!” It’s something I’ve considered doing for quite some time, just to see if my life somehow improves by avoiding sugary substances. You see, I have a pretty significant sweet tooth. I love to finish off lunch with a piece of chocolate. A normal bedtime snack for me involves cookies and milk. Any time sweet foods are shared by someone at the office (which is often!) I can’t help but partake.

 

I know these things aren’t good for me. But it’s hard to see any direct harm they are causing when it’s just a way of life. So I’ve decided to cut it out and see if it really makes a difference. Do my energy levels improve? Does my skin look healthier? Am I a better person?

Now, I’m not going out of my way to drive myself crazy. I know there is probably sugar hidden in lots of little things that I eat throughout the day. But I’m just focusing on obviously sugary items. Think cookies, cake, doughnuts, candy, and the like. I’ll also avoid sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, but I’ll keep eating fruit. Sweet potatoes are also ok.

Almost a week into the experiment I find I’m doing ok. I don’t think I’ve been exceptionally cranky. I still find it hard to skip my piece of chocolate after lunch, but the main area where I’ve found I have to make changes is at snack times. I’ve been trying out some different things and have even dedicated a whole pinterest board to healthy snack ideas. One snack I created  recently are these Creamy Citrus Crackers. At first the thought of pairing oranges with cream cheese seemed like it might be disgusting, but it turned out to be delightful!

Creamy Citrus Crackers - a healthy snack from littleplacecalledhome.com

The mandarin orange slices satisfy my sweet tooth, while the cream cheese mellows out the tartness of the citrus and makes it feel fancy. The cracker adds some nice crunch and gives you something to put it all on!

Directions:

Spread Ritz cracker with cream cheese. Top with a slice of mandarin orange or clementine. Pop in your mouth and enjoy!

Creamy Citrus Crackers - top a ritz cracker with cream cheese and a slice of mandarin orange. Delicious!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Cars Galore Birthday Party!

Charlie only says two words clearly and with any regularity. One is “Mama.” The other is “cars.” So when planning for his 2nd birthday party it only seemed fitting that cars should be the theme of the day. I wanted him to be able to tell us what a fun time he was having, after all.

For the most part we kept things small and simple – much like last year. Some family came. We opened presents. We ate cake. We did a couple car themed activities and then took advantage of a rare warm(ish) day and played outside. It was a lovely day!

The Cake

Race car themed birthday cake

The cake this year was actually brownies. This saved me from having to ice a whole cake. It also kept it to a reasonable size. I baked the brownies in a round cake pan and used some decorating icing to draw a road going around the cake. Green icing was applied to resemble grass and bushes, and matchbox cars were set on the road. I thought using the toy cars gave a really nice effect on the cake while keeping it super simple. And Charlie loved getting to play with the cars once we cut into the cake.

Birthday cake for a car themed party

Tire Track Painting

Our first activity was a painting made with tire tracks. Due to his love of cars Charlie was much more engaged in this activity than the finger painting we did last year. The main skill requirement for the craft was driving toy cars around on the paper, so he was already an expert in how to do it.

Tire Track Painting

We started with a long sheet of paper (with a plastic tablecloth underneath to cut down on the mess to clean up) and paper plates for each color of paint. To keep it looking somewhat attractive, I picked out four coordinating colors to work with rather than just giving him every color under the sun.

Tire Track Painting: use toy cars to create tire track prints on paper.

Then we ran the wheels of the tires through the paint and drove them around on the paper. I tried to find tires with interesting ridges and textures so the tracks would have some variety.

Tire Track Painting: make a fun abstract painting using toy cars instead of paintbrushes!

This craft resulted in a pretty fun abstract painting that I plan to hang on a big empty wall in his room.

Clean up was pretty simple. We threw away the plastic table cloth and paper plates, wiped up any smudges from the floor (we used washable paint) and moved the paint covered cars to our next activity – a car wash!

 

Shaving Cream Car Wash

The car wash kept Charlie busy for much longer than I expected. Everyone else had moved on and were visiting in another room while Charlie kept washing his cars.

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We started with two large plastic bins. We filled one with shaving cream and one with water. From there Charlie just moved cars back and forth from one bin to the other. He’s get a car all foamy in the shaving cream, then rinse it off with the water, lather, rinse, repeat.

Shaving cream car wash

 

Shaving cream car wash

 

It was so fun to see Charlie actually engage in these activities and enjoy his special day. It’s amazing how much he’s learned and changed in the past year. It makes me think that next year’s party will be even more fun!

For more party ideas and inspiration, check out my DIY Party pinterest board!