Wednesday, August 14, 2013

5 Super Simple Crafts for Kids

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With only a couple weeks left before my son heads back to school to start first grade I feel like I am scraping the bottom of the summer ideas barrel. I absolutely fell in love with the Tabletop Surprises series over at TeachMama and was inspired by her ideas to go hunting around the house to see what I could find to keep my two munchkins busy for a bit.

The challenge I have is to find something that will keep both a 3 year old and a 6 year old busy without needing a ton of supervision. Off to my basement I went. The basement is supposed to be my crafting area but has basically become a craft store in itself full of odds and ends of nearly every crafting genre you can think of: scrapbooking, sewing, painting, stamping, candlemaking, papermaking... I think you get the picture. I have a lot of stuff and supplies to do that stuff. Here is a list of the activities I came up for them:

1) Paper Collage - I gathered a basket full of scrapbooking paper (Did I mention I don't actually scrapbook? Never have, just love the pretty papers.) and all of the paper punches I have. I also gathered two random pieces of poster board I had. The object was to let them punch out pretty little patterned shapes until their hearts were content and then paste those shapes onto the poster board. This went over surprisingly well with my son, he loved punching out the paper. My daughter however loves pasting them to the poster board and creating a little scene.

2) Rubber Stamps - I have had a collection of rubber stamps since I was little and my mom was really into making greeting cards and such. Within the past few years I have also acquired a couple sets of alphabet stamps (SCORE!). I scoured my collection for stamps I thought the kids would like, along with all of the stamp pads I had and some paper. Away they went stamping. This worked out especially well when we had an upcoming birthday party for a friend and we were able to make him a couple special handmade birthday cards.

3) Nature Painting - I don't know about your kids but mine are always collecting leaves and rocks and things of the like. Some of the pine branches they have found recently reminded me a paintbrush. Lightbulb! I gathered various natural materials (pine cones, pine sprigs, sticks) and some paints and paper and let them go to town. This can get messy - I highly suggest taking this activity back to nature and doing it outside.

4) Recycle Bin - I have a bad habit of keeping boxes, trays, tubes and bottles I think may be useful down the road. I have a small stockpile in the basement that hadn't really been touched so I gathered most of it up in a basket along with some tape and glue. We haven't gotten to this project yet but essentially I am just going to give them the materials and say "go!".

5) Nature Collage - This one is also utilizing some of the natural goodies that come through a door, as well as as a collection of random shells and rocks I had accumulated over the years. Along with these materials I also pulled together some glue and a couple sheets of cardboard, which I chose for their stability. This is another one we haven't gotten to yet but I think they will dig it.

None of these ideas involve a lot of materials, time or supervision and are suitable for a wide range of ages. I hope you try out a couple of these ideas or that they inspire you to look around your own craft stash for things that might keep your little ones busy. If you do, stop back and let me know what you did!

Not only is this an exercise in finding new ways to keep the kiddos busy but it is also an exercise in using what I have instead of running out and buying anything new. Each of these activities promote creativity as well as fine and gross motor skills.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

10 Super Simple Summer Meals - Fajita Style!

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Super Simple Summer Meals - because wouldn't you rather be there than in the kitchen?
Recently I stumbled across a fun take on fajitas. They were called Greek Fajitas and I found them on a 100 Days of Real Food menu, basically you took pita bread, cooked chicken, feta cheese, cucumbers and tzatziki sauce and made "fajitas". My kids LOVED it, my husband LOVED it - I LOVED that they LOVED it. The concept for the meal got my gears turning, if we could make Greek "fajitas" what else could we make? 

After dinner that night I immediately started writing down ideas and within five minutes I had 10 brand new meal ideas! The preparation for these meals is minimum, about the same for each option, and with a little forethought you can have this dinner on the table in 15-30 minutes - such as grilling a couple packages of chicken breasts, slicing them and freezing them in individual portions so they are ready to use at moment's notice.

For each type of "fajita" I set out each ingredient or topping in it's own bowl and set all of the components on the dinner table so everyone can prepare their fajita the way they would like - see, it looks like you are being all nice and letting them have control over their dinner when really you are cutting yourself a little break... you're welcome. For example for the Thai Fajitas I would have a bowl for the shredded carrots, one for the bean sprouts, one for the chicken and one for the peanut sauce all sitting alongside the pita bread.

The ingredients can either be placed inside the pita or on top, it all depends on how you roll. The idea behind this kind of meal is the flexibility and the simplicity - make it however you want it. Most of these meals would be easy to convert to vegetarian or gluten free by either replacing the protein in each or by using something like bibb lettuce in place of the pita.

Without further ado, I present you with 10 Fajita Style Meals 

1) Greek (chicken, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, tzatziki, Greek salad dressing, pita bread)
2) Thai (chicken, shredded carrots, bean sprouts, peanut sauce, chili flakes, pita bread)
3) Buffalo Style (chicken, buffalo sauce, carrots, celery, blue cheese)
4) Pizza (pepperoni, sausage, peppers, mushrooms, sauce, cheese)
5) Italian (meatballs, sauce, cheese)
6) Cheeseburger (hamburger, cheese, ketchup, lettuce, mustard, pickels)
7) Tex-Mex (beans, rice, ground meat, cheese, lettuce, sour cream, taco sauce)
8) BBQ Pork (pulled pork, cheese, onions, pickles, BBQ sauce)
9) BLT (crumbled bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo)
10) PB&J (peanut butter, jelly, various toppings such as bananas, granola, dried fruit)

What do you think of the list? Are there any you would add? Leave a comment below or on my Facebook page.

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan 6.9.13-6.14.13

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Meal Planning Pic

This week is officially our first week of summer vacation - woohoo! I can't even explain how happy I am that we don't have to get up and do the same boring routine every morning (at least not for the next three months). We can now just relax and slow down - most days - and not have to rush to get dressed, eat and get somewhere. Also this week the hubs is going to be out of town so it's kind of a double whammy of a week - me with both kids, all day every day, for five days... whew! 

A week such as this calls for a plan, actually probably a series of plans such as activities, meals, and boredom busters (you can find one of them here) but for this post specifically I am going to stick to meal planning. If you haven't checked out my monthly meal plan I created and am utilizing this summer you can check that out by clicking here.

This week I will be following week 3 of the monthly meal plan which is... 

Week 3
Thai Chicken Fajitas BLT Fajitas (post to come)
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Hot Dogs (grill)
Chicken Wings Legs (grill)
Foil Packets (grill) (post to come)
Pizza (homemade or delivered)

You can see a couple meals have been altered slightly, this happens partly because I am indecisive but also because I have leftover bacon I need to use up and I decided to get chicken legs at the store instead of wings. 

So what about side dishes you are asking, or maybe you aren't, but let's pretend you are... here are a list of side dishes I will be choosing from this week:

Grilled Zucchini and Summer Squash
Fruit Salad
Homemade French Fries
Mac n' Cheese (every time I type that I think of the Friends episode, who's with me?)
Potato Chips (a good ol' fallback in this house)

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday at

Thank you for stopping by! Let me know what you are cooking this week! Stop by Facebook and follow me on Pinterest.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer Activity: Weekly Lego Challenge

Pin It My son is in love with Legos! There isn't much my five year old will sit and play with for half-hours on end, but Legos are definitely one of those things. Yes, I said half-hours, my son is active, he won't usually sit and play with any one thing for that long so we are happy with half-hours.

A while back I came across a Lego challenge on Pinterest, Owen did a couple and then either forgot about it and/or he lost interest, I'm not sure - I digress... recently I have been driving myself crazy trying to plan activities and boredom busters for the upcoming summer break. You see, my son isn't the best at entertaining himself and that is something we are working on, which is part of the reason I created this spin on the original Lego challenge.

Here's the deal: first print out my free printable here; second cut out each of the challenges; third cut out the Lego logo to attach to jar; fourth add papers to jar and beautify the jar if you so desire; fifth sit back and watch your little genius at work WARNING: Be aware of misplaced Legos, they are often discovered by bare feet!

Each Monday (or whatever day you chose) a slip of paper is picked out of the jar. They have all week to work on their creation. Once each challenge is completed snap a pic of your kiddo with their creation and upload it, print it, share it, do whatever you would like to do to share their masterpiece. Hopefully by the end of the summer you will have a whole album of their creations and hopefully a happier, less bored, child.

Get your free printable here

Please be kind and don't sell this printable or pass it off as your own - that's not cool and you'll hurt my feelings. Feel free to 'pin' away though!

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why I'm Not Designing

Pin It When I relaunched this blog in February it was with the intention of (somehow) blending my desire to run a small graphic design business with my everyday life as a mom to two little kiddos.

No matter how hard I fought it and attempted to find a balance between blogging about my design work and my life as mom the mom stuff always seemed to win out. My desire was to attract not only moms, but moms that might also have a small business, or maybe the small business owner who doesn't have children at all and just enjoyed reading about branding and graphic design with a sprinkling of dinner recipes and the occasional rant about temper tantrums.

At the beginning of April I was struck with a flare up due to my Crohn's disease. Our daily routine become rough. Mustering enough energy to completing the bare minimum each day was about all I was capable of. Forget about having energy left over to take care of my wonderful clients, or furthermore have it in me to blog about it. It was at that time my husband and I decided I would take a step back from my graphic design business and focus more on being the mom I wanted to be while getting my health under control as well.

Since I began FireDancer Designs in 2008 my plan had always been to work steadily on my graphic design business, slowly building my portfolio and my shop and by the time my youngest was in school I would be prepared to hit the ground running and take my business to the next level. My husband help me realize it was going to be at least another two years before our daughter was in school full time, something that had somehow not occurred to me. Could I really carry on spreading myself so thin for another two years? It was a difficult decision but ultimately I said no. Given my current health condition, the age of my children and the increased traveling my husband was doing there was no way I could do it all - be the mom I want to be, and my children deserve, the designer, the blogger and the homemaker I wanted and needed to be.

In the middle of April I announced in my Etsy shop I would stop taking on new clients due to ongoing health issues until further notice. It sucked but it was what I determined had to be done. Since that decision though I have been doing a lot of soul-searching; trying to figure out what I really want to do - where I really want to expend the extra energy I have when I am fortunate enough to have some. I came to the conclusion that talking about mom-stuff is really where my heart lies. It may just be my stage of life but chatting with other moms - be it in my mom's group, in the grocery store, at the park, or through this blog - that is when I feel like I am doing what I am meant to be doing.

So if you notice a few more posts about family-friendly recipes, kid crafts or potty training and a few less about anything graphic design related now you know why. I realize this may not be the path someone else would have decided to take but it the path which is right for me and my family. I know there are plenty of moms out there appearing to be doing it all but that's not for me, not right now. I hope that you'll stick around to journey along the path with me.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Looking to Summer: A Month of Meals

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In an effort to simplify my life this summer I decided to sit down and plan a month's worth of meals, which I will work on a rotating basis.

note: this post will be updated throughout the coming days and weeks to add links to recipes as they are posted.

I tried to stick to making as many meals as possible without turning on the oven or having to slave over the stove for too long. We also just purchased a new grill for our patio so I tried to include a fair amount of grill-friendly meals as well. I also planned six meals for each week, I figure at least one night a week we will either be eating out or at someone else's house (just let us know when you want us over).

If you aren't familiar with my meal-planning method you can check out this post for more info. For summer meals I am working with kind of a mix-and-match kind of thing - I pick the main course and then depending on what is on hand, I choose from a list of side dishes.

Week 1
Greek Fajitas
Hot Dogs (grill)
Sloppy Joes
Orange Chicken (slow cooker)
Chicken Sausage Foil Packets (grill)
Pizza (homemade or delivered)

Week 2
Chicken Tacos (slow cooker; this recipe makes a lot of chicken so it is actually two meals this week)
Cheeseburgers (grill)
Sausage Spinach Pasta
Steaks (grill)
Pizza (homemade or delivered)

Week 3
Thai Chicken Fajitas
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Hot Dogs (grill)
Chicken Wings (grill)
Foil Packets (grill)
Pizza (homemade or delivered)

Week 4
Beef Tacos
Buffalo Turkey Burgers (grill)
Chicken Salad
Some sort of Kabobs
BLT Fajitas
Pizza (homemade or delivered)

Being that I have two little kiddos to feed I tried to keep the meals simple - I don't want to spend my summer months fussing over what we are having for dinner. I hope that this post inspires you or that you try a couple of the recipes.

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday at

Thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

My Moment of Brilliance

Pin It The majority of yesterday will not be looked back upon as a day I am particularly proud of - my daughter and I did not have a great day, we failed to see eye-to-eye on many of the days issues resulting in temper tantrums thrown my her and (ahem) me. 

There was, however one shining moment of brilliance on my part. I don't always toot my own horn but "toot toot"! For years I have complained about having to haul all of the groceries in from our car to the house by myself. Our driveway isn't super far away but it is, I'll just say, inconvenient when you have to make 4-5 trips to get all of your purchases inside. 

Until recently I never paid much attention to the rusty wheelbarrow leaning against our fence unless I was enlisting it to haul away some yard debris, yesterday though it took on a whole new purpose! It is now my new grocery hauler!

If you have an attached garage (that you can actually park your car in), or extra hands around the house to help you carry in groceries this may not seem that exciting for you but I assure you it is. If you have to make the journey from the car to the house multiple times I hope this gets your gears turning and you can find something (maybe even a wheelbarrow) to make your chore a little easier.  

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