Sunday, January 13, 2013

Playroom Makeover

One of the best parts about becoming a homeowner is actually getting to paint our walls instead of dealing with boring old white everywhere. After seven years of renting, we were itching to get some color up on the walls. 

The first room we decided to tackle was Ella's playroom. Technically it's supposed to be the formal dining room. Seeing as we don't have a formal dining table and have no plans of getting one soon, we thought it was more practical at this point to have a space on the main floor of the house where Ella can play without getting into (too much) trouble. Eventually we plan on switching it over to a dining room, so we wanted to pick a color that didn't scream little kid and that would look nice enough that we don't necessarily have to re-paint when that time comes. 

Without further ado, I present our first sort-of big project as homeowners. 


And after:

View from the kitchen hallway

View from the French doors. Bonus points if you can spot Ella in this picture. 

Her reading corner. 

There is still a little work to be done before it's totally the way I want it, including figuring out some way to organize her gazillion stuffed animals. I also want to hang some artwork and such on the upper walls (of course, that would entail finishing unpacking the boxes of paintings upstairs). Our next project is building a little table and chairs to go in her playroom. Even though she's still a bit young for them now, I foresee lots of tea parties in the future with my girly girl.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Homemade cheesy crackers

Ella loves (and I mean loves) goldfish crackers. So imagine how excited I was when I came across a recipe for homemade goldfish crackers on Tasty Kitchen! I don't have a food processor so I had to fudge it a bit with a blender, but I think they still came out amazing. If you do use the blender, do it in small batches and on a low setting. We used mini holiday cookie cutters for ours, as that's what I have around the house. The recipe states that it makes around 7 dozen, but we were able to make a bit more than that- there's a whole other baking sheet not pictured, just to give you an idea. The best part is, they are both husband and toddler approved! 

Our holiday-shaped cheesy crackers

Nom nom- toddler approved! She kept asking for more. 
Here is the recipe, as found on Tasty Kitchen:

8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 tbsp butter, cut into cubes
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp cold water

Pulse everything (except water) in the food processor until the dough resembles coarse sand.

Pulse in water, 1 tbsp at a time.

Remove dough from the processor, wrap in plastic, and chill for 20 minutes.

Roll the dough out and cut into desired shapes. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until crispy.

Makes approximately 7 dozen crackers.

Easy Learning Activity for 1 Year Olds

I know a lot of readers of this blog have young kiddos themselves, so I thought I'd share an easy learning activity that I do with Ella. I'm a big believer that learning at this age should be fun and informal, and I try to incorporate teaching her into things she already likes to do. Since she is big right now on taking things in and out of containers, I decided to channel that energy into helping her learn to distinguish colors.  

This activity is incredibly simple. All you need are pom poms and an ice cube tray. I found the pom poms at Hobby Lobby- I want to say they were under $2 for a big bag of assorted sizes. All I do is put a couple of different colored ones in the ice cube tray compartments, then she sorts the rest into a bin with the matching color. She doesn't get it 100% (I'd be shocked if she did at this age) and after a couple of minutes it usually devolves into dumping the tray out and throwing the pom poms around her playroom. In the time that it lasts, though, it's a great little activity for helping her distinguish colors, match things up, and refine her motor skills.

The bigger pom poms are a huge favorite of hers as well. She likes seeing all the different types of containers she can put them into- tupperware, baskets, bowls. Seriously one of my best purchases recently. 

And for those of you worried about her eating them- well, she did try. However, they are fuzzy and apparently her sophisticated palate decided they weren't as tasty as things like dog food, and she hasn't tried since. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Goal for 2013

There are days when I mope around, wondering what is wrong with me. Why is it that I constantly feel like I am never 100% happy? I have a loving husband, a beautiful daughter, and a new house. We are doing great financially, Jim is happy with his new job, and he is actually able to not only be home in the evenings but leave his work at work (which is huge for us- never before in our relationship have we had a time when neither one of us has had to do some sort of work in the evenings). We have a fantastic support network of friends and families.

So what, then, is missing? Why am I not able to be content with what I have, to be fully present in the moment, instead of anxiously thinking about the future and the things I don't have? 

Sometimes it's good to look towards the future. Having a goal and a plan is what enabled me to knock out my undergrad degree in less than four years and get my Master's degree in three semesters. The thought of owning a house is what kept me from indulging (too much) in new shoes or fancy lattes. 

But I think that being hyper-focused on the next big thing can also be detrimental. My whole life I've been the typical Type A, overachieving multi-tasker. I'm not content to sit back and relax. Yet I think sometimes I get so focused on what I want to do next that I forget about what I am doing now.

I don't want to wake up one day and realize that my kids are grown and I missed it all because I was too fixated on doing The Next Big Thing.

My goal for 2013, then, is to try and make peace with living in the present. To that end, I'm going to attempt to unplug from technology, make sure I do something silly with Ella every day, and take time to unwind and relax every day, even if it's only for a couple of minutes. Hopefully this is a goal that I can actually keep! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My little fashionista

One of the fun things about having a toddler is at this age, their personalities really begin to come through. Ella has become quite opinionated on all matter of clothes. This morning, she was insistent that she wanted to wear a summer dress, pink sparkly sandals, and a big feathery hair bow. Because it's only 31 degrees here today, she had to wear tights and a t-shirt underneath. You can tell she is very proud of her outfit. Lord help me when she's a teenager.