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QVC Christmas Wreath Challenge

Merry Christmas!   I hope you have been enjoying the season.  I know I've been pretty quiet on the blog front, but that's only because life behind the scenes has been moving at the speed of light, and when it's not, I seize those opportunities to slooow down and savor the moment.  I hope that in the midst of the busy holiday season, you're able to do the same.

QVC's You're Home With Jill provided an awesome 24" pre-lit wreath for me to try out and decorate and it was pretty exciting.  At this point in the game, we're a pretty established family and have reached just about max capacity in terms of Christmas decor.  In other words, I have three bins of Christmas decor and I keep myself limited to these bins, so there's not a whole lot of new holiday decor going on at my house.  But when someone asks, would you like a pre-lit wreath to decorate, it's pretty hard to say no.


Here's what I came up with.  I love love love Nutcrackers.  This doesn't mean I have some grand collection--I only have two--but I just love them.  Being that this nutcracker fit so perfectly into the center of the wreath, I kinda feel like it was meant to be. 


The wreath itself is pretty plain, but boasts a really cool lighting system and endless possibilities for personalization.  The power comes from 3 D batteries and there are 6 light settings.  The lights can glow white, multi-color, or transition between both.  Each of the settings has the option to use a timer also--6 hours on, 18 hours off.  I LOVE the timer feature.  The only issue is that battery pack is visible--so the wreath must be decorated to conceal it.  Below, I'll share what I did, but for those of you who are uncrafty or feel crunched for time, a simple large bow (usually only a dollar or so at the Dollar Tree) would totally do the trick in hiding the unsightly but necessary electronic component.  


I chose to keep my decorations removable so I can try out a different configuration next year.  To spruce up this wreath (get the pun?) I simply added a nutcracker that I already had and some awesome chartreuse poinsettias.  And I totally realize that chartreuse poinsettias aren't for everyone, but I can assure you, they're TOTALLY for me.


 I used some pipe cleaners left over from crafting with Elliott to affix the nutcracker to the wreath.  Then I just poked the poinsettias into the wreath, letting the faux pine grab on and keep the poinsettias in place. So far, it's done the trick!


Red poinsettias tend to look a bit more washed out than these vibrant green ones do.  I really liked seeing the similarity in color between my wreath and the beloved succulents in my landscaping.  It all works well, and folks, Christmas is Florida never looks traditional anyhow.

Merry Christmas--from my family to yours!


Jill Bauer, QVC’s Home-Savvy Hostess, hosts the network’s popular show, “You’re Home with Jill®” and provides fans with simple solutions for their busy lives through innovative products, a library of stress-free DIY projects, and crowd-pleasing recipes. Fans can connect with Jill on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram @jillbauerqvc.

Disclaimer: I received these products at no cost; Tristin & Company has no relationship with QVC that could materially affect the weight consumers place on my review. 

QVC DIY Thanksgiving Centerpiece Challenge

Is anyone else getting a bit antsy for Thanksgiving?  Personally, I find the years where Thanksgiving falls toward the end of the month to be pure torture.  I feel like it's Thanksgiving and then BAM! --it's December.  So, without wishing Thanksgiving away, I have to admit that I'm so so ready for Christmas.

When the folks from QVC asked if I'd be interested in a DIY centerpiece challenge, I naturally accepted.  They provided an awesome votive holder with some flameless candles.  I have to admit, I've never used a flameless candle but I may be hooked.   The candles that come with the Candle Impressions Fillable Glass Log have a built-in timer, so they come on for 5 hours at 24 hour intervals.  In other words, I set my candles at 5pm when I received them, and now, every night they magically come on every evening, from 5 pm to 10pm.  

I'm always paranoid that I'll leave real candles lit and leave the house (and this has TOTALLY happened before) so I'm pretty much sold on this whole flameless candle thing.  I'm not sure why I hadn't tried them sooner.



In terms of decorating the clear glass log as a centerpiece, I went with hydrangeas.  Hydrangeas have become my flower of choice--regardless of season.  They're readily available and priced well at my grocery store, they last a long time and they look fabulous in my vase of choice--which is a Mason jar.  All I did to create a simple Thanksgiving centerpiece is shove some hydrangea pieces into the clear glass tube.  Voila--instant class!  I'm not hosting Thanksgiving dinner, but if I was, there'd be mason jars of white hydrangeas, a kraft paper table runner, and plain white candles set about in a rustic fashion.  This centerpiece would be perfect.

The cool thing is that the glass log is customizable for any holiday or and style.  I personally like it plain, but I played around with a few other options, too.

QVC’s Jill Bauer hosts the network’s popular show, You’re Home with Jill® and provides fans with simple solutions for their busy lives through innovative products, a library of stress-free DIY projects, and crowd-pleasing recipes. Fans can connect with Jill on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram @jillbauerqvc.

Disclaimer: I received these products at no cost; Tristin & Company has no relationship with QVC that could materially affect the weight consumers place on my review. 


I can do this.

I really do believe that there's so much about parenthood that's not understood until you're in the trenches.  A dog is a fabulous trainer for parenting.  I know for me, it was an experience to learn to put the need of a little precious and innocent canine above my own.  Bonding came from the tough things--like potty-training that seemed unending and nighttime walks at 3:30am for the first few months of puppyhood--because it was what he needed, and those needs of his became more important than my need for sleep.

And then enter kids.  Whoa Nellie.  What a way to rock a world and change you to the core.  I am truly a changed woman and glaring evidence presented itself today in the form of a call from Elliott's school.

I received a call informing me that Elliott had fallen backward off of a swing, bumping the back of her head.  Now at first, I thought, you know, it's nice to be informed  but I opted to just assume that things were fine and leave Elliott at school because, well, if she learns that her Mom will come whenever an injury occurs, I have a feeling a habit will very quickly follow. Something along the lines of a little boy who cried wolf.

But when I hung up the phone, the tears and self-doubt got the better of me.  I texted my husband, looking for a reassuring "you know she's fine", but he was in the midst of a meeting so the affirmation didn't come immediately.  So I sobbed a bit, feeling stuck in the thick of some grand parenting dilemma. First, she needs to learn that not every injury is a big deal and needs to be able to find comfort independently and learn to count on the others who are around her for support.  And she has a wonderful support group where she is--and learning to depend on them will serve her well in her confidence of being away from me.  On the other hand, what if something truly is wrong and she has a concussion and I just blew it off and I'm a terrible mother?

Needless to say, I was quite worked up.  I saw myself in the mirror, and said out loud, "You're not even the one who got hurt!"  And consequently, I thought, all of this ridiculousness needs to be shared.  And it needs a good illustration.  So I took a quick photo of my red-faced puffy-eyed exhausted self.  This, my friends, is why I don't even bother wearing make-up.


Now, I'm not a Mom who jumps up immediately when one of my kiddos gets hurt--it's not that I don't want to--I've just learned along the way that my reaction has a lot of bearing on their own reaction.  That's no grand secret to parents.  So, maybe I might even seem unsympathetic at times, which may be true.

But this time, I realized that the dilemma I faced had more to do with confidence as a parent.  Or, rather, lack of confidence.  I move fearlessly forward on the outside, but inside I'm quivering and letting self-doubt reign.  So many times when I make a choice, set a standard, make a demand or have to punish, the little voices eat at me telling me I'm "doing it wrong".  Sometimes the voices say I'm not tough enough--sometimes they tell me I'm too tough.  So much of modern wisdom tells us that we're psychologically damaging our children at every turn.  There are lists on Pinterest of things you should never say to your child, lists of the "proper" way to praise, and doggonit even though Freud is highly criticized, I still think about how every problem later in life can be traced back to the mother.

Parenthood is riddled with crippling doubt and insecurity.  And that's something I never expected.  I also never expected the swelling love-you-so-much-it-hurts feelings.  And when you mix all that together, it's...exhausting.

In the end, everything I do is for the betterment of my children.  Every rule I set, choice I make, stand I take--it's to get them where they need to be as productive and independent human beings. So, today I share and write.  Jumping up and getting Elliott and bringing her home wasn't the answer today--all signs pointed to the fact that she'd be perfectly fine.  Letting her "be" and letting out a sigh of relief and sharing my joys and frustrations as a mother seemed to be the route to go.


I can do this.  Phillipians 4:13.

Keeping Lunch Safe

I'm starting this post with Cliffs Notes in case you can't stand paragraph after paragraph of my lunchbox ramblings and such:

-Igloo Mini Tote 8 Fits a Goodbyn Bento perfectly while keeping it horizontal
-There's plenty of room for water bottle and snack, too.
-It also keeps the food very cool and safe (see the last photo)

But if you're interested in lunch box ramblings, then hey, thanks for sticking it out with me.

I'll admit, I looked like a fool in Target when back-to-school time came.  In search of the perfect lunch solution, I headed over to the lunch box section and made myself comfy, trying to fit different bento styles into different lunch boxes.  It's a far cry from the days of my childhood where we all carried the same hard-sided Aladdin-brand lunch boxes with matching thermoses with our favorite TV characters on them--or brown paper bags.  You know what I'm talking about, right?  There are just so many choices and the reviews found on the internet only further throw me into obsessiveness in making "just the right choice".  It comes in part from just wanting to have the perfect solution and also, I really want to buy something that works and not have to buy anything again for a long time.

All that leads me to say that for the Goodbyn Bento, the Igloo mini tote 8 is a great choice of lunchbox.  Now, initially I chose the Igloo Leftover Tote 9, which is great, but as it would turn out it's rather large and cumbersome for an undersized five-year-old like mine.  I can't tell you how many times we heard "That lunch box is bigger than she is,"--and it was a totally correct statement.  When I ordered the Igloo Leftover Tote 9, I received the wrong item and what was sent was the Igloo Mini Tote 8.  The Amazon seller told me to keep the incorrect item and they'd send the correct one, so I ended up with two lunch boxes--but let me say--their mistake was a huge benefit to me because it helped me get the better lunch box, I just didn't know it yet.


The Goodbyn Bento nestles perfectly down into the Igloo Mini Tote 8.  I place two ice packs on the bottom before I add the Bento, and then I'm able to keep the Bento horizontal which was a requirement for me.  There are SO many lunchbox options if you're not concerned about your Bento going vertical, but I wanted to be able to place silicone muffin liners of multiple items into one of the compartments, so going vertical didn't seem like a great idea in our case.

The Bento fits snugly into the mini tote but can still be easily removed by small children with unrefined motor skills.  There is additional room in the top to hold a snack (including the Goodbyn snack containers) and a good-sized water bottle.  (We switch between a Nalgene kids bottle and a Camelback Kid's Eddy.)

Here's the best part of the lunch box solution.  Call us nerds, but we love our digital surface thermometer.  My husband bought it to measure results of some home improvement projects (insulation and the like) and it turns out, we use it a lot.  I even use it in place of a candy thermometer.  I digress (obviously, since this ENTIRE post is about something as lame as lunchboxes!) but this tool helped me to know that our solution is keeping Elliott's food safe.
The pic on the left shows a bowl of watermelon straight from the fridge at 7:30am.  To the right, this is the measurement of Elliott's leftover watermelon after school.  Mind you, the lunchbox has been removed for a period of time, midday, so that she can eat her lunch--and even still, the temp increase at the end of the day is only 8 degrees. Food safety experts tell us that the "Danger Zone" for food falls between 40-140, so all-in-all I feel like an 8 degree increase over the course of 8 hours is pretty impressive.  

I had to do this checking, you see, because I hate hate hate food waste and if Elliott hasn't finished her lunch, then her lunch leftovers are her afternoon snack when she gets home.  (Some things, even at a decent temp, I don't do this with, however--like leftover egg salad for instance--but in the case of this watermelon and many other leftovers, I feel perfectly fine encouraging her to just eat her leftovers as a snack when she gets home.)  Call me crazy, but do you know how much food Americans throw out every year?  I try to keep our grocery budget minimal and a large way that this is successful is by not wasting food.  Keeping our lunches within a safe temperature range helps a lot, in our case. 

In this case, I'd like to think my obsessiveness in finding the right solution has paid off in a number of ways.

  

Week #4 Bentos







Day 1: Craisins, corn dog muffins, sweet potato, yogurt, watermelon.
Day 2: Tortilla chips and bean dip, leftover broccoli/bacon/cheese frittata, watermelon.
Day 3: Apple slices, boiled peanuts, pastrami/meunster sandwich, chia pudding.
Day 4: PB&J Spirals, apple slices, full-fat large-curd cottage cheese (the only way to eat it!) and a banana.

It's official--I feel totally settled into school.  I'm not saying that things are running smoothly--it just feels like we're finding a rhythm.  Every morning, I play drill sergeant;  I start off really nice but at a certain point I'm barking orders and (gasp) sometimes shouting.  "Put your shoes on!" I promise, I sound really nice the first 6 times I say it, but by the time the 7th rolls around, I lose my cool.

I've made a "getting ready" chart to help Elliott navigate her morning tasks (it literally consists of using the restroom, brushing teeth, getting dressed, putting shoes on, doing hair and getting backpack prepared and by the door) but somehow we still end up pushing to make it to school on time.  A good talk with a pal of mine helped me realize that I'm not the only one, but seriously--any tips on helping a lolly-gagging 5-year old get ready in a reasonable amount of time?

I guess if this is the most I have to complain about, then life is good.  And most likely, it's a battle we're going to have throughout her childhood so I may as well learn to love it.  Elliott's just so funny--there are times in which I see SO many similarities between she and my older brother, it's just not even funny.  I find myself saying it more and more, and I love the constant reminders of him.

   



Week #3 Bentos

Day 1: Multi-grain Chips (the Aldi equivalent to SunChips), Blueberry Applesauce, Nyakers Pepparkakor Cookies, cheese stick, corn dog muffins, watermelon chunks.
Day 2: Multi-grain Chips, Leftover grilled chicken skewers with cucumber, cheese, 1/2 apple, celery and peanut butter.
Day 3: Blueberry applesauce, Multi-grain Chips, cheese & ham rolls, 1/2 banana, PB&J rolls using this method.
Day 4: Peanut butter on celery, grapes, sea-shaped pasta, cheese stick.
Day 5: She got to order pizza, and took some edamame and honeydew in our Goodbyn Snacks Box.

Taking pics of snacks seemed like overkill again, especially because most of the snacks this week were the Norpro Silicone Ice Pops filled with yogurt.  I always keep plain organic whole milk yogurt in the fridge so I can do with it as I wish--everything from adding it to smoothies to making tzatziki to granola parfaits.  The kids love it when I mix some plain yogurt with our homemade strawberry jam and freeze it in the silicone pop molds--and Elliott loves taking these as a snack to school.  It's like a homemade Go-Gurt. Or sometimes, if we have leftover bits of smoothie, I add them into the molds and it becomes a snack for another day.

What are your kids current favorite portable snacks?


   

29.

Yesterday, I celebrated 29 trips around the sun.  I'm super-stoked to be on my 30th.  I had some grand plan to share 29 somethings...29 pieces of advice for my daughters, 29 things I love, 29 things about me... And it just never happened, probably because I have about 29 distractions per hour.


I also can't get over the irony of being 29 pounds heavier than I was a few short years ago.  Eeek.  Perhaps it's not so much a problem as it is a challenge. A challenge that I'm up for--right after my coconut birthday cake is gone.

So. I found myself celebrating with my parents, husband and kiddos last night and in the midst of the fun, Bennett, with serious face, says "You're going to die".

An uncomfortable silence fell over the table as we all looked around--did she really just say that?

I think she picked up on our discomfort because she started getting very emotional--and her face turned very serious. Her lip quivered and she bawled as she followed her previous comment up with this:

"We're all gonna die".

Now I feel like I have to tell you that this child, who turned two last month, watches PBS Kids and a handful of Netflix shows, hand-picked by yours truly.  She's aware of the scene in Frozen where the parents are on the boat and die, but beyond this, has no knowledge of sayings like "You're going to die" or "We're all gonna die".

If you'd been there, you would've been a bit freaked out, too.

But we all ate cake anyhow, and big sis consoled little sis after her ominous outbursts.  There may have been more talk of death, and it may have been something like this, through the sobs, "But we're all gonna die tomorrow, sissuh [sister]."


And a particular passage Ecclesiastes came to mind, and I thought I'd share with you a bit of what is my favorite book of the Bible.

Ecclesiastes 7: 1-4

A good name is better than fine perfume,
    and the day of death better than the day of birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning
    than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
    the living should take this to heart.
Frustration is better than laughter,
    because a sad face is good for the heart.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.



In the midst of our celebration of life, we were abruptly reminded that there's more in store for us--so much more than we could ever imagine.  The best days of our lives--days like these--can't even compare.

Week #2 Bentos

Week two, and I'm still enjoying packing Bento lunches.  Nice.  This week I shared some dinnertime woes, but thankfully, Elliott hasn't complained about her Bento lunches.  I'm sure I'll rant the day that happens. ; ) Consider yourself warned.
Day 1: Ham and meunster rolls, green olives, chips and salsa, grapes.
Day 2: Goldfish, plum, egg noodles with cottage cheese, hard-boiled egg, cocoa almonds
Day 3: Yogurt raisins, blueberry applesauce, pasta salad (with grilled chicken, feta, tomatoes and olives), celery with peanut butter
Day 4: Cocoa almonds, honeydew, ham and meunster sandwich, carrots and ranch
Day 5: The school orders Domino's pizza and kids can buy by the slice.  Last week, Elliott let me know in no uncertain terms that "everyone except for me" got to have pizza.  So I sent some money and a snack container of fruit and veggies to round out her lunch.  Hopefully that scores some points for me.

We kept snacks simple so I didn't bother to document.  Each day, I sent either a granola bar or yogurt for snack.  I figured that her snack should be quite light so she'll eat more of her lunch--so far this is working.

It's so funny, because some friends and I were talking last night about how we didn't get snacks as kids--and now it's some sort of obligation.  Snacks, snacks, snacks.  Two of the friends who shared in the conversation are a couple from the Caribbean (the husband from Antigua, the wife from Grenada) and they went on to share not only their lack of snacks as children, but also the unique upbringing of Islanders.  And I've thought about it all day long... our kids are so soft!  Perhaps to their benefit and not to their detriment.  I guess we'll see as time goes by.

 


I give them gold; they give me grief.

Every now and then, I'm plagued with delusions of adequacy.  And yes, I mean it just as I said it.  It's a phrase my husband coined (at least I think he did--or did it come from The Office?) and it comes to mind often.

I was feeling rather adequate last night when I made a mean veggie stir-fry over steamed brown rice and homemade (yes, homemade) potstickers.  On a weeknight.


Honestly, it's not entirely out of the ordinary that I put this much effort into dinner.  I cook pretty much every meal every day, but I'm going to admit that I often get discouraged when my efforts are thwarted at every turn.  Mostly by the two rugrats that I brought into this world.

As soon as the red bell peppers bit the wok and the aroma filled the air, Elliott was inspired to remind me that, she in fact, does not like bell peppers.  "Well, I forgot to buy mushrooms," I told her, subliminally letting her know that this could have been worse--much worse.  Within minutes of remembering that the kids would not be pacifists and just eat their dang dinner without complaint and that I might be in for it, James called letting me know that he'd be home late and that we should eat without him.  Well, at least he called, I told myself.

The girls and I sat down for a daddy-less dinner and immediately Bennett started putting plum pieces into her water cup.  And then pouring her water out.  (She does this so fast and under the radar, I swear.) Ultimately my kids are good eaters, so dinner was choked-down.  Bennett picked around the stir fry and ate only the carrots and broccoli, and Elliott told me at one point she didn't like vegetables and was going to throw up.  For the record, she still ate her entire meal, including a strip of red bell pepper, and I made sure to thank her for doing so.

But Moms, do you ever wish that people would just shut up, sit down, and sing your praises?  Is it too much to ask?  With as much as we do, it's often only the things we don't do or things that the family dislikes that are mentioned.  Know what I mean?  Sure you do.  Am I discouraged?  Well, today, maybe a bit.  But don't worry, just like you I'll keep trudging through and doing what's right, despite their complaints and ingratitude.

Never fear, tomorrow's a new day.  And maybe I'll just give up and thrill the kids with the culinary masterpiece that is PB&J.

QVC Back-to-School Mason Jar Challenge

I'm sure you can tell because of the Bento box posts that we're back to school full-swing over here in lovely Melbourne.  Florida schools tend to start early, especially when I consider that school usually started after Labor Day when I went to school in California.  But whether August or September, the start of school and getting back into good routines can be hard.  I'm finding it hard to believe that I have a child in kindergarten.  Kindergarten!  Goodness.



The folks at QVC invited me to a Back-to-School Mason Jar Challenge and with such fun mason jars they provided, I just couldn't resist.  Umm, who doesn't love mason jars?


The set of four mason jars looks so good together that it seems wrong to separate them, but alas, this is my plan.  I thought it'd be the perfect way to thank our teachers and staff for a great first week of school!  Back-to-school is a busy time, but especially for the men and women who are not only sending their kids back to school but getting back into the swing of work themselves (aka the teachers and staff).  It's nice to throw some love their way, right?

Smoothies prove to be a breakfast lifesaver in my home. They're quick, healthy, and loved by all.  Win, win, win.  So, I made up some recipe cards of our favorite smoothies and tags to include with the Aladdin Insulated jar tumblers.  You're welcome to copy and print them yourself, if you're so inclined, or make up some of your own.  (The images are formatted to print as a 4x6.)  I used black and white to create a blackboard effect--it had nothing to do with the fact that I only have a black and white printer. Yeah.  It's like I always say, when life gives you a black and white printer, just make it work in whatever cute way you can.  {I've never said that before. Ever.}

(Excuse my typo on the green smoothie recipe card--I do know the correct spelling of ingredients! But it will also take me a few days to get the motivation to recreate the printable from scratch which is what I'd have to to based on the way I created it.  No one's perfect, right?)

Am I cheesy for choosing "Don't Sweat" for the tags?  Maybe a little.  But insulated tumblers don't sweat, and here in humid Florida, it's a treat to enjoy a cold beverage without a water ring on your desk. The tags can be cut out with scissors, or if printed as a 4x6, a 2" circle cutter will cut them perfectly.  I know this because I tried.  And then my circle cutter fell apart and I was stuck using scissors.  Oh, the woes of a crafter.


I affixed the tags with hemp cord because I just love it so much.  And it looks like it's time for a new ball of hemp.


The smoothie recipe cards nestled down nicely inside the tumblers and made it look like a really attractive gift.


I'll tell you what, I don't know what I was thinking in turning these into gifts.  I want to keep one.  And maybe I will.  You'll never tell, will you?


Thanks to Jill for inviting me to the Back-to-School Mason Jar Challenge.  QVC’s Jill Bauer hosts the network’s popular show, You’re Home with Jill® and provides fans with simple solutions for their busy lives through innovative products, a library of stress-free DIY projects, and crowd-pleasing recipes. Fans can connect with Jill on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest, and Instagram @jillbauerqvc.

You can tune in to You’re Home with Jill® beginning Wednesday, August 20 and every Wednesday at 7pm (ET), through October.

All my best,
Tristin

Disclaimer: I received these products at no cost; Tristin & Company has no relationship with QVC that could materially affect the weight consumers place on my review. 

Week #1 Bentos

We made it through the first week of school!  It was easier than I imagined, thanks to a great staff and a little girl who never ceases to amaze me.  And call me a nerd, but I totally loved packing lunches this week.  Here goes:
Day 1: DIY Lunchables. Cheddar, ham slices, crackers, oranges, edamame, watermelon, and a cookie as a treat.
Day 2: Ham and cheese sandwich, oranges, cheese stick, and a cookie.
Day 3: Egg salad and baked tortilla strips, blueberry applesauce, grapes, and cocoa almonds.
Day 4: Corndog mini muffins, cheese stick, cucumbers and ranch dip, grapes, yogurt raisins.
Day 5: Heart-shaped PB&Js, strawberry yogurt tube, cukes and dip, cocoa almonds.

Worth mentioning:  I found a 12 oz. bag of cocoa almonds at Aldi for $4.99 and they're far more wholesome than the Blue Diamond cocoa almonds that most grocery stores sell.  The Blue diamond brand contains a long ingredient list including sucralose (brand name is Splenda) which I steer clear of, while the Aldi brand has cocoa and sugar and oil added to the almonds.  Better price and better ingredients?  Thanks Aldi.  I'm impressed.

I add a small treat to each lunch as incentive to eat--and she thinks this is awesome as I really don't incentivize good and timely eating at home--it's just an expectation.  Some days she hasn't finished her lunch entirely as I'm still feeling out how much I need to pack and she's learning to eat within the time allotted at school. Our deal is that if she hasn't finished her entire lunch, it's perfectly okay, but she can wait until she gets home from school to have the treat.  So far, so good.  But we'll adapt as necessary.

I'm loving the Goodbyn snack containers.  Seriously--they're perfect for a kids' snack.

Snack 1: Strawberries and homemade chewy granola bars
Snack 2: Whole grain goldfish and watermelon
Snack 3: Watermelon and chia pudding (I repeated this snack one of the days)
Snack 4: Cracker sandwiches with nutella and yogurt raisins

 


Mood Pillow

I often wish I had access to the yarn store 24 hours a day.  Sometimes, inspiration strikes and yarn is needed immediately, but unfortunately, my life doesn't allow for instant yarn gratification.  In fact, even when I have time set aside for such adventures, it's far from the hours of meandering that I long for.  Usually I know I have 10 minutes before the kids lose their cool and every single trip I have to scold them for unraveling the yarn in the cart.  Ah, the joys of motherhood.  
But sometimes, I pick myself up by my bootstraps and realize that my own home is practically a small version of a yarn shop and I'm able to move forward with projects as they come to me.  Recently, I noticed small amounts of several shades of gray (all Lion Brand Vanna's Choice) in one of my yarn hoarding baskets.  Ombre starting with black and fading to white seemed to be the obvious choice so off I started crocheting a simple square, not knowing exactly where it might lead me. It came out dark and moody, and I realized how it matched my own mood on that particular day.  But I wasn't exactly thrilled about my mood and imagined a sunnier, happier contrast.  So I made one.  It was a rainbow square. (All but one of the colors is Lion Brand Vanna's Choice.)

Turns out, those bad boys were destined to become something grand--a mood pillow.  One side is stormy and ominous; the other is cheerful, bright, and practically perfect in every way.




My little man is never too far out of reach. He likes to keep an eye on his weirdo mom who, while clothed in a pool towel, drags dining room chairs out to the backyard and starts snapping photos.  It must be a confusing scene for such a logical pup.  Not to mention, he says that both sides look identical to him.  Is it really true that dogs are colorblind?  For his sake, I hope not.

I can knit! (Okay, well, sort of.)

A few years ago I referred to taking my first knitting class.  And it obviously didn't make much of an impact on my life considering it's almost 2.5 years later and I'm only now getting around to writing about knitting.


It's not that I didn't love knitting.  I think it's awesome.  I like that it uses less yarn than crochet and I think the stockinette stitch looks amazing. It's a bit classier and more refined than crochet in my opinion.

But I LOVE crochet.  Truth be told I feel a bit unfaithful to my craft when I pick up the knitting needles.  But last year I did it anyhow and knitted an afghan for my husband.

I crocheted the Lion Brand 5 1/2 Hour afghan for my mother-in-law two Christmases ago and my husband loved it so much that he declared that he needed one of his own.


I kind of thought it was the Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn that drew him in because it's so rich and luxurious and cozy.  So I thought I'd one-up the previous years' afghan by making the Lion Brand Plush Throw--a knitted afghan that uses the same yarn.

It took a month of stolen moments and knitting marathons, but I finally finished the knitted afghan.  It's rich and luxurious and cozy--but it's also WAY too heavy for Floridians.  There are like 3 days a year in which this afghan would be called upon for use.  So, my one-upping really did no good.


There's no denying that it's a simple and gorgeous blanket, made with awesome yarn and love.  I'm also happy to have conquered a large knitting project.

But guys, it's just not crochet.  I'll leave you with a shirt that I totally need...

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Crocheters and knitters--are you a switch hitter?  Do you do both or do you have a strong preference for one over the other?  Perhaps if I lived in a cooler climate then knitting might be more appealing for the sake of the awesome sweaters and socks, but here and now, crochet has my heart.

Bento #2 and a snack.

Number one, please excuse the wrinkles in the fabric.  It's killing my eyes, and if it's doing the same to you, well, I sincerely apologize.  It's a scrap from the Jessica Jones Outside Oslo fabric line and it's fabulous, but goodness, it needs to be ironed.  I'm playing around with formatting and styling and Bentos in general, so please bear with me.

Number two. I'm no good at food photography, but I'm letting it go because I don't want it to hold me back from just doing what I want to do.  Maybe I'll get better; maybe I won't.  Either way, I'm moving forward and I hope you'll be gracious in excusing my imperfections.

Now that's enough excuse making.  On we go.


Today's practice Bento consisted of a peanut butter and Nutella (ahhh, Nutella!) sandwich, apple slices, a hard-boiled egg and edamame.


Snack was Snap Pea Crisps (a guilty pleasure of mine--probably far from healthy even though they're made from peas and rice) and quick apple salad inspired by a side dish offered at Cheddars.  The apple salad simply consists of some diced apples, dried cranberries, a tablespoon of plain yogurt, a drizzle of honey and a dash of cinnamon. Yum. The yogurt helps to keep the apples from browning and it makes it more special for the kiddos so I'm calling it a win.

Do you have any quick snacks that are a win with your kids?  I feel like I'm going to need some new ideas soon. Lately mine have been enjoying hard-boiled eggs and smoothies.

My first bento.


I never in a million years thought I'd be one of those obsessive moms posting their kids' school lunches. For a myriad of reasons...like, for instance, the fact that kids weren't necessarily a "must have" on my Bucket List.  Or, for instance, the fact that I never imagined I'd get into homemaking as much as I do.  OR that I would've thought that I'd just send a few bucks and let my kids buy lunch.   But nooo... that's not how things have gone.

Somehow, others along the way have known it.  In high school, I was nicknamed "Martha Stewart".  And I don't think it had anything to do with my love of chinos and plain oxford shirts.  I really don't consider myself in the Martha "club" as my output is definitely not of Martha quality, but nonetheless, the passion is within me.

If only, my husband would interject if he wrote here, if only your housekeeping skills were on par with Martha's.  ((Get out of my head, James.))  They're not, for the record.

But Bentos.  They've been on my mind for a while and now that my sweet Elliott is starting kindergarten, I'll be sharing some Bentos--Tristin style.  Don't get me wrong, I love all of the cute shaped stuff and special picks and stuff that the cool kids have, but I just don't have storage for more stuff. In other words, we're going to be keeping it pretty simple--but even simple is worth sharing, right?

Today, one of our "practice" Bentos consisted of buttered mini bow tie pasta, ham and cheese skewers, edamame, and oranges.  It filled the young lady up with minimal complaining, and isn't that the point?  Success.


Changes!

If you're reading this, you're catching me in the midst of some changes.  I mean, I know the pro bloggers do this without showing their dust, but if you're here for professional blogging, you're in the wrong place.  ; )  Much love, and looking forward to sharing my changes with you--
Tristin

DIY Dinosaur Air Plant Holders


There's something about going to Walmart that's inspiring.  Usually I'm inspired to never go back.

This time though, I stumbled upon plastic dinosaurs and was inspire to craft.  (And to never ever go back, though I'm sure it'll happen again.)  I've stumbled across planters made out of plastic animals and I think the idea is hilariously awesome--and dinosaurs just seemed right.  Originally I intended to make these planters for some succulent cuttings from my wildly successful succulent garden (finally, I've kept plants alive!) but my husband and I found ourselves on a kid-free trip last weekend where I found an air plant vendor at a Farmer's Market.  I've always been intrigued by air plants and I'm stoked to have some of my own.  In hollowed-out plastic dinosaurs, nonetheless.  Can life get any better?


I found these hollow plastic dinosaurs at Walmart for a dollar each while searching for a slinky as a gift for a kiddo birthday party.  (When in doubt for what to give a kid, a slinky is awesome, right?!  Inexpensive, loved by generations, and made in the good ol' USA.)


Making the dinosaur transition from toy to planter is as simple as cutting a hole with an Exacto knife.  A box cutter would probably work, too.  Maybe even a steak knife.  I'm pretty sure there aren't rules on what you can and can't use to cut into dinosaur toys when you're a grown-up.


Since I'd intended to use this with dirt and succulents, I made a drainage hole.  And yes, I laughed at the placement...but it just seemed like an obvious place for a drainage hole. 

Then I spray painted those bad boys for good measure.  Ever wondered what caused dinosaurs to go extinct?  My current theory is spray paint fumes.


Since I went with the air plants, all I had to do was stick the plants into the holes I'd created.  Bam.  Pretty awesome, right?


When Mother's Day isn't happy.

With the recent celebration of Mother's day here in the U.S., I've been reflecting a lot on my catapult into motherhood.  It's hard for me to comprehend that I've been a mother for almost five years.  On one hand, I can't remember how it feels not to be a mom and on the other hand, it all feels so new.  I still feel like a novice who is treading water in this role that feels like uncharted territory.

In my five years of motherhood, I've learned and adapted, and most of all, I've changed.  Like completely and drastically changed to the core.

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I just remember how easy motherhood was before I had my first baby.  Moms, you know what I mean.  I had this idea that it wasn't so hard (and why was every mom I know exhausted and complaining?!) to mother a child.

And then I had one.

For anyone in the throes of postpartum depression, Mother's Day can be a terrible day.  Rather than being a day to celebrate who you are as a central figure in your child's life, it can really feel like a time that highlights your failures and lack of enthusiasm for your role.  I understand; I've been there.  The beautiful images of flowers and pastels that we're inundated with from every department store didn't jive with the darkness I once associated with the holiday.

Things just didn't "click" instantaneously for me in the motherhood department.  I didn't feel an immediate bond with my baby, I didn't like having someone whose needs were so intertwined with my body, and I just felt that every move I made was wrong.  I felt hopeless, and for every well-meaning person who commented on how precious my little baby was, I just sank further into the feeling of inadequacy.  Why didn't I see how precious my little one was? Why couldn't I handle an infant?  Why was it so hard for me when people with far fewer blessings and a lot less support could handle mothering without batting an eye? Why couldn't I just be happy?  Why did I want to leave it all behind?  Was it worth sticking around for?


I guess I still don't know the answers to most of those questions, but I DO know that motherhood was worth sticking around for.  I do know now, after baby #2, that even without the depression, extreme sleep-deprivation makes me a crazy-woman who cries all the time, and there's no way around that! I know that babies are not my forte, but I love love love being the mom of a four year old.  I know that a different birth experience the second time around made me happy.  I know that it was worth doing all over again. I know that there is no such thing as a perfect mother.  I learned that even on the best of days, the emotional baggage that a mother carries can be terribly burdensome.  I've learned that sometimes putting the baby books down and following your instincts is the way to go.  I've learned that I don't regret any of the hard work and sacrifices, as I'm (slowly) seeing the effort pay off.  I've learned that post-partum depression made me a better person because I'm more empathetic of others in their struggles.  I've learned that sharing my failings and inadequacies is often far more important than talking about my successes.

To all of you moms who are in the midst of what can be a very hard time, try to put a smile on your face and keep on chugging forward--sometimes that's a step in the right direction.  You're not alone in your struggle.  Share your feelings with someone you trust.  Sharing your feelings with a doctor may be helpful, too.

Hang in there, my friend.  There are better days ahead.

Preschool Lunchtime Favorite {Creamy Macaroni with Veggies}

I've taken such a break from blogging regularly over the last two years that it seems silly to say that I'm taking a break from crafty posts to share with you a recipe.  But nonetheless, yes, I'm sharing a "recipe" and not a craft on this odd occasion of actually posting.  So sue me.  (Please, don't.)


While I know many moms who are in the "I don't serve my kids PB&Js for lunch" camp, I'm totally a PB&J makin' fool for weekday lunches.  I'd say my girls enjoy the quintessential childhood sandwich at least twice a week for lunch and often dinner leftovers make it onto their lunch plates, too.  What can I say?  I'm practical that way.  Don't feel too bad for the little ladies, though--we switch things up enough to keep things interesting.

I'm not going to knock the blue box of mac-n-cheese, as it's one of my ultimate guilty pleasures.  Seriously.  Maybe you want chocolates on Valentine's Day but my knows-no-shame tastebuds would gladly take a serving of Kraft mac-n-cheese as a substitute.  Perhaps it's the fact that I didn't grow up eating it that makes it such a novelty.  Anyhow, this momma can't be trusted with boxes of macaroni-and-cheese in the house, so I've created a kid-pleasing alternative that my kids love so I can keep the blue-box macaroni out of my pantry (and off of my thighs).  I'm guessing that like me, their deprivation of boxed mac-n-cheese will one day result in a torrid secret love affair with the stuff but if that's the worst emotional scarring I cause them as a mother, I'll call it a success.

1 cup macaroni ($ .20)
2 oz. cream cheese (1/4 of a brick) ($ .30)
1 carrot, shredded ($. 8)
1/4 cup frozen peas ($ .15)

Cook pasta according to box directions, adding the carrot and peas to the boiling pasta during the last minute of cooking.  Drain; return to the hot pan and immediately add the cream cheese, allowing the residual heat of the pan and the pasta/veggies melt the cheese into a nice creamy coating.  (This recipe makes 2 large preschool-sized portions. It's easy to double or triple, based on your kids' needs and whether or not Momma wants to join in on the macaroni binge).

I love that the total cost of the recipe is $ .73 (please note that I do not 'coupon' but I do buy things in bulk so my prices tend to be lower than the average supermarket). Some fruit alongside the pasta rounds out lunch quite nicely, but if you have some leftover diced ham or chicken, it'd be awesome to throw in to the pasta, too.

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