Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving craft- Handprint Turkey Painted Block

If you're like me, you love kids handprint art.  You also probably have stacks of construction paper craft projects that build up because you hate throwing them away.  Eventually, some of it has to go.  Paper projects just don't hold up over the years and have a short display-life.  I wanted to do a little something different this year with the classic handprint turkey.  I decided to make a wood block that could be stored and put back up for many years to come.  It was really simple and I love how it turned out.

Step 1: "wash" paint onto a wood block slightly larger than your child's hand.  The process of washing paint is super easy.  You just basically water down acrylic paint so that when you brush it onto a wooden surface, some of the grain shows through.  I really like the effect of this when I want a softer background.  I used a light blue color to contrast the earthy colors of the turkey.  Let this dry for about 10 minutes.  It doesn't take long.

Step 2: Trace your child's hand onto paper.  This is to ensure you get a good outline without risking your freshly painted block.  

Step 3: Lay the paper with the hand tracing on top of your wood block.  Using a ball point pen, trace your outline onto the block using enough pressure to make an indent into the wood.  Remover paper.

Step 4: Using the outline indent as a guide, carefully paint your turkey.  I used a nice reddish brown for the body and fall colors for the feathers.  Add simple feet, a triangle for the beak, and a red gobble thing... whatever that is.  Done!  Just let it dry and put it up to display.  

I used my two year old's hand for this, so I wrote her name and "2013" on the back.  I look forward to setting this out for many Thanksgivings to come as a reminder of just how little her hands were.

*For even more durability, you can spray the wood block with a clear coat of paint after it dries.  This will protect your turkey during storage.*

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fall for Us

We've officially settled into our first crisp holiday season as a complete family.  Fall is a magical time for us.  Dominic, Jeff and I all have fall birthdays, we celebrate our wedding anniversary every November 10th, and I've always been a sucker for Christmas cheer.  Whatever holiday spirit I had before, it's amplified with children.  

This is really the first year that Dominic has seemed receptive to toy ads.  In the past, he would say random things he wanted, but they were general and it left us with a lot of room to buy him presents we liked and thought were "good".  This year he sees commercials and is constantly saying I want that!!  Some things are ok... other stuff I know he isn't getting.  LOL.  I guess this is the beginning of him learning that you don't get everything just because you ask.  The good thing about this is we have plenty of ideas for him.  I'm sure he'll be more than happy with the presents we have planned.

The girls are a little harder.  I'm trying to find a balance between getting Isla things I know she will be excited about, and ended up with a bunch of crappy plastic and glitter toys under the tree.  Maisy is too young to want, but with older kids we can't have them thinking Santa forgot about her!  So they're my real challenge this year.

I try my best to come up with unique and thoughtful presents for my kids.  I do a lot of shopping on amazon and etsy.  As an artist myself, I can appreciate handmade gifts.  Stay tuned for my holiday shopping guide filled with hand picked presents for kids aged five and under!  I'm so excited about partnering with some fellow etsy crafters to bring you the best :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Recipe: Weeknight Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup- the ultimate comfort food.  Just like grandma made, but without the day of slaving over a hot stove.  This recipe is the perfect way to throw together a pot of homemade soup in a short amount of time.  

- 1 large chicken breast (boneless skinless) cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 large carton of chicken broth
- 2 cups wide egg noodles
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup water
- olive oil (drizzle)

Step 1:
Drizzle olive oil into a large pot and bring to medium heat.  Add carrots, onion, and celery.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until vegetables are soft and onions are translucent.

Step 2:
Add chicken to the cooked vegetables.  Cook until just done.

Step 3:
Empty entire carton of chicken broth into pot.  Add water and turn heat to high.  Bring to a boil.  Once you have reached a full boil, add the egg noodles and continue to boil for the cook time indicated on noodle package.  

Step 4:
Once noodles are tender, remove the pot from heat.  Ladle into bowls and serve with biscuits.  Enjoy!

Recent IG Faves

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fall Favorites

A compilation of my new Fall go-to items..

Daily Perk- O Organics French Roast coffee pods and Coffee-mate Natural Bliss Sweet Cream creamer

I'm on a regular ole coffee kick right now.  Nothing fancy, just the basic perk needed to keep this circus running.  I'm loving the O Organics coffee pods because they are inexpensive and use less plastic than traditional k-cups.  There is no outer shell, just the foil, plastic ring, and a little filter holding the coffee grinds.  At first I was a little leery putting them into my Keurig, but they work perfectly!  Coffee-mate delivers exactly what I want with the Natural Bliss creamers.  It's basically the lazy way to just put regular cream and sugar into your coffee.  I'll take it :)

Baby- Seventh Generation bath and lotion products
If you follow me on instagram or twitter, you may recall that my little Maisy was suffering from what I thought was a bad case of long-lasting baby acne.  It turns out that she was having a reaction to the baby soap and lotion I was using on her, even though it was supposed to be "natural"!  I felt terrible!  I ended up switching her to Seventh Generation baby soap and lotion and she immediately cleared up.  I am currently obsessed with this stuff.  Her skin is so incredibly soft and smooth from her head down to her piggies.  If your baby is suffering from dry or bumpy skin, I highly recommend you try this stuff!  *Disclaimer- Over the summer I hosted a Healthy Baby home party for Seventh Generation and in return I received many samples of their products, including baby soap, lotion, laundry detergent, facial cleansing wipes, and diapers.  The positive opinion is truly my own and I have since purchased Seventh Generation products after seeing the results.*

Kid- The "Dreamer" Tee by Passive Juice Motel
The Kids Dreamer Tee is so awesome.  In a world where some of us battle inappropriate kid's clothing (think "chick magnet" and "diva" ...ew) I fell in love with this design from Passive Juice Motel.  Dominic is my dreamer child and this shirt is perfect on him :)

Cooking- Campbell's Slow Cooker Sauces
Around this time each year, I really get into crockpot meals.  Something about the seasons changing and cooler weather lends itself to the smell of a delicious dinner that's been simmering all day long.  I'm always on the lookout for new dinner ideas.  Don't we all hate the dinner rut?  While shopping one day, I came across these slow cooker sauces.  My local grocery store had a deal- 2/$4, so I went ahead and picked up both the Tavern Style Pot Roast and the Hawaiian Luau.  Out of this world.  Both of them.  I've had issues in the past with less-than-appealing pot roasts.  Mine seem to turn out dry and kinda bland.  Not this time.  I was so pleased with the flavor of this roast!  I put the meat along with carrots and onions in the crock pot and poured the sauce on top.  No other liquid needed.  So flavorful!  The Hawaiian Luau flavor says to add pork, but I am not the biggest pork fan, so I made ours with chicken breasts.  Cooked, shredded, and served over rice, this was amazing!  My husband and I enjoyed these meals so much, I decided to try more.  The next one I bought turned out to be our overall favorite- Mexican Red Chile Taco.  So so good.  Think a saucy barbacoa.  I served it over lime rice with a black bean and corn salsa.  These sauces do not disappoint.

Health/Beauty- Colgate SlimSoft Toothbrush
I am really particular about my toothbrush choices.  I hate rough bristles and bulky handles.  That's why I am loving the new SlimSoft toothbrush by Colgate.  The bristles are 17x thinner to be able to clean deep down into tight spaces.  It's so awesome because the brush is SO soft, yet your mouth feels like it's had a massage at the end of brushing.  The handle is nice and lightweight, so no bulky toothbrush that doesn't fit into the holder.  We all know how annoying that is.  *Disclaimer- I participated in the SlimSoft VoxBox program via Influenster and in return I received a toothbrush along with a sample of Colgate Optic White toothpaste to review.  All opinions expressed are my own.*

Style- Merona Women's Long Sleeve Ultimate V-Tee
I heart stripes.  I also love a good deal.  I'm so happy I found this super soft and comfy tee at my local Target (aka Mom heaven).  It satisfies all my simple style requirements- comfort, fun color, and I can totally breastfeed in it because it's a V neck.  You see where my priorities lie.

Etsy Find- Baltic Amber Gift Shop
I've been a fan of baltic amber healing necklaces for a long time.  Dominic started wearing his necklace when I discovered them around 18 months.  I bought his necklace, and later bought one for myself and Isla both from a more traditional retailer.  While I was happy with the quality, they were a bit pricey.  Fast forward to this summer and Dominic finally broke his necklace that he wore daily the last three years.  He claimed he was not himself without his necklace and insisted that we get him another exactly like the one he had.  Since I was also due with my third, I knew I'd be needing an additional necklace soon too.  I started shopping for a new baltic retailer on etsy to compare pricing since I would be buying two at once.  I came across Baltic Amber Gift Shop and was impressed by all the positive reviews.  Add to that the prices were very reasonable.  I was able to find a necklace exactly like Dominic's broken one, along with a lighter colored, more girly style.  Both necklaces together cost me about what one costs from our previous retailer.  The necklaces came FAST all the way from Lithuania and were of great quality.  They are exactly as pictured and I couldn't be happier.  Highly recommended seller! 

Happy Hour- Angry Orchard Crisp Apple
Not much elaboration needed.  This stuff is delish and perfect for a relaxing fall night.  Mmm.

What are your favorite Fall products?  Is there anything on this list you've tried?  Let me know what you would add in the comments!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

So, how is it with three?

I get this question daily.  I think there's a line divide between the expected two child family and the leap to three.  A family with three children is like saying, "I don't want a small family, but I don't want people to question my sanity or offer me free birth control." 

Three is good.  Three is our number.  I am so totally d o n e having kids.  Of this I am sure.  We have chaos and some days when it seems like they've all agreed to thwart my attempts to accomplish anything.  Other days, I feel like I've totally managed to meet each child's needs and everyone goes to bed at night with a full belly, clean and nails clipped.  Then I'm high-fiving myself and my inner mantra is chanting, "hell yeah, Mama, you totally got this!"  Those days don't happen often, but that's ok.  We're really in the thick of it with three kids under the age of five.

Earlier this summer, just before Maisy was born, we took a family vacation to Virgina Beach.  One day at the pool, I met another mother who had seen me with both Dominic and Isla and obviously could see that I was extremely pregnant.  She was so sweet.  She told me I looked great and asked how old my kids were.  She told me that she knew exactly how my life was right now, as she had three kids close together too.  Her youngest was now four, she told me.  She then said (paraphrasing here), "It will be tough for a while.  You guys are really in the parenting trenches.  When they are so little, it can be difficult to even get out of the house.  Just hang in there because it gets so much easier."  What an encouragement.  What she said has totally stuck with me.  She wasn't being preachy or feeding me some idealistic line about it going by way too fast.  I already know all that.  If you follow me on IG you can clearly see I document nearly everything because I don't want to forget a second of their childhood.  She was just a totally down to Earth mom who was saying something real to me.  Real life.  She was probably telling me what she wished someone told her.  I can't even remember if I thanked her.  I hope I did.

To answer the question, three kids is a challenge, but I'm so glad we're right where we are.  I think part of me would have always wondered what could have been, had we stopped at two.  I won't go as far as to say that I would have felt our family "incomplete", but I will say that I feel our family is complete now.  I'm at peace with sending all of my maternity things packing.  Glad to see some things go, even.  Elastic waistbands aren't cute on anyone over the age of two.  So I'm soaking up this newborn phase with my last tiny baby.  I want to remember all of the good things about this life we're living now.  The difficult things make the good seem better, so I'll take the hard days too.  Leaving the house with three kids will get easier.  One day each person will only be responsible for their own bodily functions. 

So on my good days I have a clean house and freshly painted nails.  On rough days I have dishes in the sink, baby puke on my pants, and my reheated coffee is sitting on the counter, cold again.  Here I am, in the trenches.  Someone hand me a cigarette and a clean pair of socks. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Where we are and where you can find me..

It's been a year and a half since I last blogged about our life.  So much has changed since I last put my fingers to the keys and really wrote.  If you're reading this on a computer, you'll notice that the page has been updated and cleaned up a bit.  If you are reading on a mobile device, click "full web version" at the bottom of the page and take a look around!  I'm staging a revival of sorts so that I can keep track of our lives on the go in addition to regular activity and cooking posts.  We've grown as a family, welcoming our newest baby, Maisy.  Dominic is now four and a half.  Isla is two.  Most things are the same for us.  I'm still a crochet peddling SAHM.  Even though I haven't been blogging, I'm still very active on other social media.  In addition to following along with my blog, check me out:

Instagram: JessCarbone

Twitter: @caterpillarfam

Pinterest: Jessica Carbone

I hope to have not lost too many of you along the way and look forward to "meeting" new people as I restart this journey :)

Instagram @jesscarbone