Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What to do with those old military uniforms

We now interrupt this scheduled blogging break to bring you a lovely craft project.

The USAF has been in the process of implementing new uniforms for a couple of years and the changeover will be complete next year.  When you deploy you are required to wear only the new uniform.  This meant that Michael was issued (and had to purchase a few) new uniforms prior to his deployment.

Not wanting to be wasteful, I had him save 7 of his old uniform tops (4 BDU - that's the regular dark camo - and 3 DCU - that's the desert/sand camo) so I could come up with something crafty to do to reuse them!

I had an epiphany a few days ago!  Reversible superhero capes for the boys!

Here's what you need:
~ 4 mens shirts
~ Grosgrain ribbon in coordinating color (I used 3/8" because it's what I had, but I would recommend 1")
~ Fray Check **
~ Scissors
~ Fabric marker/chalk
~ Sewing machine
~ Coordinating thread

:: I started with this (I actually used 2 BDU and 2 DCU shirts for this project):

:: Then I cut the entire back panel off.  Leaving the bottom hem intact, cut just inside the seams, including around the shoulders and collar, to remove the back panel in one piece.

:: Once you have 4 panels cut out, iron them all, then pick out the smallest one.  You will be using this one to create your pattern for the other pieces.

:: Fold this one in half lengthwise and use chalk/fabric pen to make your outline.  Basically, you want to go from the shoulders to the bottom hem gradually flaring out toward the bottom.  You may also need to even up the shoulders/neck.  Just eyeball it - there's no need for perfection, it's a dress-up item, afterall!

:: Cut this out and then cut out your other 3 pieces using this as your "pattern".

:: Once you have all 4 pattern pieces cut out, place one right side up on your table, cut a length of ribbon long enough to tie around child's neck with plenty of slack.  Then cut that ribbon in half and pin one to the center of each shoulder.  Then place the other fabric, right side down on top of the other and continue pinning around perimeter.

:: Sew with a straight stitch and leave a ½" seam allowance all the way around.  Be sure to leave a 6" opening in one side for turning.  I also back-tacked my ribbon a couple of times for added security.

:: Snip corners on an angle and turn right side out, making sure to "poke" each corner out.

:: Flatten out, ironing again if necessary and pin the perimeter for top-stitching.  Be sure to close the opening used for turning.

:: Sew with a straight stitch and ¼" from edge, making sure to catch the seam allowance in your top-stitch.

** Use the Fray Check to treat the exposed ends of the ribbon to keep it from fraying.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Taking a time-out

Hello friends!

I've decided I'm taking a break from blogging for a bit.  I don't know how long this break will last and frankly, at the moment, I can't think more than a week into the future because there are SO many things going on. 

With Michael being deployed I'm feeling a little worn out and feel that it's best if I take a step back to regroup.  I'll still be hanging around Twitter and Facebook and checking email, but won't be putting many "thoughts" together here.

I'll see you guys back here soon, hopefully feeling refreshed and with my life a little more ordered.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Pantry Challenge - week 3

GAH!  I only have $1.38 left in my projected budget (and there are some items that I still NEED).  But, it couldn't be helped - my honey needed some healthy snack foods - he sent me a "mayday" email because the only portable snack foods he could find at the BX and chow hall were things like poptarts, sugary granola bars, sugary cereal, etc.  So, I spent $20 on trail mix, mixed nuts, veggie chips, popcorn and dried fruit.  It was $20 well spent!  I feel so blessed to be able to take care of him!

Actually, I would be going over my projected $100 by the end of the month anyway, so I'm just going to wing it from here and see exactly how much I truly needed to spend.  I didn't know going in to this if I would be able to stick to the $100 and I am proving that it was a little low for me.

Here's what I have on the menu for this week:

Cold cereal, oatmeal, pumpkin pancakes

Mostly leftovers, otherwise, fruit/veggie tray, cheese & crackers

Monday - Chicken tortilla soup
Tuesday - Spaghetti, steamed veggies, buttery rolls
Wednesday - Broiled or grilled steak (will grill if weather permits), roasted potatoes, buttery rolls
Thursday - Dinner out
Friday - Pizza, smoothies
Saturday - Crockpot chicken, rice, steamed veggies
Sunday - Potato soup

Be sure to visit Menu Plan Monday for wonderful menu ideas for this week!

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Help for Haiti

Have you seen what's going on in the blogging world today?  It's Help for Haiti craziness out there.  And it's awesome!

So many wonderful people are joining in with donations to charities with the focus of helping the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

Money Saving Mom has the details on who is giving and how you can help and she has a link-up over at her place.

My friend, Amy, says it so well:
"There is so much need, but so little me. With this economy, no one really expects us to give, right?

Wrong.  Giving is something that everyone can and should do. Yes, everyone.  Rich, poor, talented, not-so-talented, young or old.  We all, in any of our broken circumstances, can give."
Yep, that's right, YOU have something to offer.  If not financially, you can spread the word on your blog, comment on all the blogs offering to donate $ per comment and you can pray.

Please join us in helping those in need!

I'm donating 50% of sales through Friday, January 22, in my Etsy shop to Compassion International. (Look for 7 new items coming later today!!).


This post is linked to:
:: Money Saving Mom
:: The Finer Things In Life
:: The Happy Housewife

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Caught in Mommy's makeup!

I sent Eli upstairs with a hand towel to hang in my bathroom... he was taking much longer than I thought he should have, so when I found him, this is what he looked like:

Someone's been in Mommy's mascara!

This post is linked to Wordless Wednesday.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Six years ago. . .

Jacob Jasper
January 12, 2004
9lb 15oz; 23½" long

1st birthday - January, 2005

2nd birthday - January, 2006

3rd birthday - January, 2006

4th birthday - January, 2007

5th birthday - January, 2009

6th birthday - today!

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pantry Challenge - part 4

It is the end of the first full week of January and I have to say, I've done pretty well!

Last week I shared with you my goal of only spending $100 on groceries/toiletries/paper goods, etc. for the month of January.  As of today, I have $65.95 left in my budget for the month.  I have to pick up some milk this week, but other than that, I don't think I need anything on my list for at least another week.  I planned my meals for the entire month and made sure the meals I knew I would need something to complete were near the end of the month.  On the 21st I have a babysitter coming to watch the children while I go shopping and take full advantage of my brain (and coupons, etc.) while I'm shopping!!!

I managed to stick with my meal plan and actually ended up not making two meals because we had so many leftovers to use up.

My plan for this week is:

Breakfasts: Pumpkin pancakes, oatmeal, cold cereal

Lunches: Mostly leftovers, otherwise, pb&j, fruit/veggie tray, odds-n-ends

Monday: Nachos (made with refried beans, cheese, homemade salsa, black olives, served on corn chips), fruit smoothies
Tuesday: Ordering pizza for Jacob's 6th birthday (this will count as our meal out for the week) - having a couple of friends over to share pizza and cake (which I ordered from Target and will come out of another part of my budget)
Wednesday: French toast, fruit smoothies
Thursday: Navy Bean Soup, bread w/butter
Friday: Sloppy joes, fruit smoothies and veggie sticks
Saturday: Veggie soup, bread w/butter, fresh fruit
Sunday: Baked marinated chicken, steamed veggies and rolls

You can catch up with my other Pantry Challenge posts here, here and here.

Be sure to head on over to Menu Plan Monday for more weekly menu inspiration!

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Love, true love!

I really don't want to get all sappy on you... well, maybe just this once!

I just want say what a blessing it is to have a husband that does not take his role as "daddy" lightly?  This man cherishes his children immensely and understands what a task God has put before us as parents - to raise them to become God fearing adults.

As most of you know, Michael is currently deployed, and I know leaving the children was probably the hardest part of the "goodbye" process (not because he doesn't love/miss me, but because I won't forget him or grow taller or learn how to talk or lose my first tooth while he's away). 

As a Christmas gift to the kids, he left me with these cute little things to wrap for them and have them open on Christmas day:

Unassuming little stuffed animals, right?  Not at all.  Instead, any time they are feeling especially lonely for daddy, have a rough day or are sad, they can be comforted by this:

Michael recorded a different greeting in each one and they LOVE them!

And I love that they can hear Michael's voice any time they want, they don't have to wait for a phone call or video!

This post is linked to Finer Things Friday.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010


No, that's not a baby doll, it's a REAL baby on the train table!!

AND she thought she was hilarious, too! The trains were previously removed because she wouldn't leave the track put together and now she thinks it's the best place to climb because it's just her height!!

This post is linked to Wordless Wednesday.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chicken tortilla soup

Yum!  This is my  new favorite winter soup!  It's easy and so yummy!

What you need:
~ 1 small yellow onion, diced
~ 1 T. coconut oil
~ 4 cups chicken stock (I use homemade)
~ 2 cups of cooked shredded chicken (or more if you like it extra chicken-y!)
~ ½ bag frozen sweet corn
~ 2-3 cans Rotel (original)
~ ½ cup brown rice
~ 2 Tbsp. dried cilantro leaves
~ Salt to taste
~ Shredded cheese (we like Monterey Jack)
~ Sour cream
~ Flour tortillas (approx. 4 8" tortillas)

* In large soup pot, sautee onions in coconut oil.
* Add chicken stock and bring to boil.
* Add corn, rice and cilantro, reduce heat to medium and allow to cook at gentle boil for approximately 45 minutes (until rice is tender).
* Meanwhile, slice tortillas into 1" x 4" strips and bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet at 350 until crispy (be careful, they go from crispy to burnt really quickly!).
* Once rice is tender, add chicken, corn, Rotel and salt.
* Return to simmer and allow to heat thru.

Edited to add: You might need to add water as it's cooking to keep it the proper "soup" consistency!

Serve topped with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream and crispy tortilla strips.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pantry Challenge - part 3

I really think this pantry challenge couldn't have come at a better time (and I probably wouldn't have thought to do it if someone hadn't thought it up for me!).  With our impending overseas move in July - but we're moving out of our house and going to stay with my family in Florida sometime in mid-May - I have been fretting a little about not being wasteful with all of the things I've been stocking up on for the last year.  I'm really excited to clean out my pantry, freezers and fridges this month and begin only buying what we NEED and will eat in a 2-3 week time period.  And there are some things (condiments, baking supplies) that once we use them up, I won't be purchasing more.

So, my goals for the pantry challenge are:
::  Eat mostly what is currently in my home
::  Purchase only necessary items such as milk, eggs, cheese, fresh fruit/veggies when they are actually needed.  No stocking up - except for Eli's milk (I purchase by the case at Costco because he has a milk allergy and drinks rice milk - unless I find almond milk for a cheaper price, then he drinks that).
::  Spend no more than $100 on grocery/toiletry items for January.  I've already spent $21.53, leaving me with $78.47 for the remainder of January.  I've already made a meal plan for the entire month and have a small grocery list of a few things I know I'll need the second half of the month (other than what I listed above).
::  Continue our regular once-weekly dining out - this comes from a different area of our budget.
::  Stick to the meal plan.

Here's my menu plan for January 1 through January 10:
1/1 - Pizza, veggie sticks with Ranch
1/2 - Ate out with a friend
1/3 - Chicken tortilla soup (recipe later this week), fruit
1/4 - Tacos with lots of trimmings, fruit
1/5 - Spaghetti, veggie sticks, bread w/butter
1/6 - Meatloaf, steamed veggies, rolls
1/7 - Veggie soup, bread w/butter
1/8 - Pizza, fruit or fruit smoothies
1/9 - Eat out, possibly with a friend
1/10 - Deer sausage, eggs, fruit, toast

Lunches are mostly made of leftovers because without Michael here we typically have enough for all four of us to eat the dinner meal for the next day's lunch.  If it doesn't work out to be enough, I'll add simple things like veggie sticks, fruit, cheese, crackers, etc.

If you have no clue what this pantry challenge is, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010


Search & Win

Have you heard of Swagbucks but are still a little skeptical of the whole process?  Let me break it down a bit for you and tell you why you really should join.

:: It's a search engine (just like Google), but instead of just getting your search results, you also earn random "bucks" for your searches.  So, instead of using your Google search bar you can download either the Swagbucks search bar or the full toolbar.  I recommend the full toolbar because you can easily see how many Swagbucks you have and it has quick links to the store and your message box.  In the message box, there will sometimes be codes to earn you extra bucks.
::  These "bucks" are basically points you use to buy things in the swagstore.  There are all sorts of items in the store.  You can purchase anything from music and movies to gift cards (such as Amazon, iTunes, Starbucks, etc.) and many things in between.
::  You can also earn bucks by referring friends.
::  It's easy and requires no extra effort.  If you're searching for things anyway, why not earn points for it?

You can join today and Swagbucks will start you off with 30 bucks in your account.  Then you can start searching and referring friends to be on your way to free stuff!

One last thing - I promise there is NO CATCH.

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