Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ho'made Christmas challenge!

It was really fun to challenge myself to make ALL the gifts our family would be giving this Christmas, and like I have mentioned before I have pintrest to thank for most of the smiling faces of our friends, family, and teachers. 

We made 'hand' towels for members of both families, they were well received.  Cheetah got very creative with these...he traced (with my help) his hand on to iron on transfer paper (that can be picked up at Michael's, Walmart, or Hobby Lobby).  Make sure to select the paper that can be colored OR printed on with a lazerjet printer.  Each person recieved 2 towels, one with the hand print and then drew a picture he knew the recipient would love for the other. 

The aunt that will be moving into her new house soon received a fancy wipe off board.  I purchased a bronzed frame and dry erase markers to go along with the ribbon and scrapbook paper I already had on hand.  She loved that something so useful could be pretty too!  Great, easy idea!

For godparents, aunts, and coworkers we did hand painted or iron on transfers.  I chose items I knew would be used; like aprons, pillowcases, and tote bags.  The giftees were delighted with their unique and personalized items.

As my deadline was fast approaching I even enlisted Tarzan to help...little did he know he was helping me finalize one of his gifts.  :)  I picked 2 fun ideas for his presents; 52 reasons why I love you cards & a family 'portrait' made with our hands.  He seemed pleased with both.

The grandmother's and Cheetah's teacher gushed over his 'HAND'made Christmas tree.  I must admit it does look really nice hanging in my house as well.

I even went on Shutterfly and made a 2011 family album for my parents, the album included pictures from all three of their children's families.  To round out the packages I included homemade pralines and chex mix (both are family faves).

It was heartwarming to see such sincere smiles and hear the praise over something I made on my own.  I know Tarzan will try to change my mind but I'm pretty sure I'll be doing ho'made gifts again next year, I'll just have to try for an earlier start date.

Tarzan mostly stuck to the rules as well.  I was excited to see a wonderful photo book titled, "How do I Love my Mommy?" and some perfectly precise coupons for my personal use (1 free bug elimination & 1 Chick-fil-a breakfast are 2 examples).  So nice to know your SO loved. 

I must urge you to try the 'homade' route for your gift giving next year, the gifts felt so much more personal.  Homemade gifts can also prove to be easy on the budget, especially if you have a surplus of craft supplies and free-time in the evening.  My only advice is to keep within your skill set so your stress level will stay at a minimum as it gets closer to your deadline.

A death in the family....

I was so saddened when I heard the news that after 80 wonderful years on earth Cheetah (a chimp that was featured in the Tarzan franchise of films) died of kidney failure on Saturday.  From MY Smith family, we send lots of good thoughts and prayers to the employees of the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary, we know how hard it is to lose a family member. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The great bake-off!

I have enjoyed preparing for the 2011 Holiday Season, one of the highlights was attending a bake-off.  We got together days before and selected the recipes we wanted to try out or our family's 'tried and true' recipes.  We compiled our shopping lists, gathered our supplies, and convened very early in the morning.

It was fun getting together with my friends, we laughed, spilled, made a few mistakes, and we all had the chance to get a break from the holiday hustle & bustle.  All of our fellow employees really enjoyed the goodies and it helped to chase away the Monday blahs.

I strongly suggest getting a group of friends together, each person bring a recipe, enough ingredients to make several batches, and split all baked goods between all attendees.  It will be a blast and at the end of the day you've done all your holiday baking.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's a very 'pintrest' Christmas.

I really have enjoyed preparing for Christmas this year, it's been fun making all of our gifts.  It was a challenge that made me a bit nervous but thanks to pintrest, I'm gonna come out on top this year.  We celebrated Christmas with Tarzan's family over Thanksgiving and it was a blast.  Somehow I managed to not take a single picture of the gifts that Cheetah made for the familes.  He chose a picture he thought each Aunt woutld enjoy and carefully colored each one.  I then ironed the picture on to a cotton tote bag that I later filled with some supper yummy treats.

I made my grandmother's pralines, a staple from my family's Christmas celebrations.  I threw in a bag of roasted nuts to help combat the sweetness of the treats.

I also found a fun recipe on pintrest for homemade butterfingers, they were a HUGE hit!!  SO cool, who knew you could melt candy corn!?!

For Tarzan's cousin, the talented musician and member of Winchester Fletcher, we made a really neat candy 'dish'. 

We knew he would enjoy a gift rooted in music and since he's our 'Little Drummer Boy' we knew we had the PERFECT record to use for his gift.  

There were other gifts given, but they must remain a secret until part two of the Smith family Chrsitmas has taken place.  So far it seems that people not only enjoy our ho'made Christmas but seem delighted by their heartfelt gifts.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

PSA to prevent road rage:

As of late I can't seem to get a handle on my nerves, my aggrevation level has reached all new heights.  Driving on the streets of Cajun Country has become a real hazard for the safety of others, I felt that I needed to take a more proactive approach.  The best way to prevent mayhem is to educate those around you...

The 1st lesson is on 4-way stops:

After a full-stop has been made, vehicles have the right-of-way to proceed through the intersection in the order that they arrived at the intersection.  If vehicles arrive at approximately the same time, each driver must yield to the drivers on their right.  If more than one car arrives at the same time, the following right-of-ways apply in order: vehicles going straight, turning right, and finally vehicles turning left.

2nd lesson the definition of yeild:

Vehicle must prepare to stop if necessary to let a driver on another approach proceed. In contrast, a stop sign requires each driver to stop completely before proceeding, even if no other traffic is present.

3rd lesson is the roundabout intersection:

Slow down.  Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists, yield to traffic on your left already in the roundabout.  Enter the roundabout when there is a safe gap in traffic and keep your speed low.

Also, I wanted to take this time to inform any future automobile purchasers of a featurere that no longer comes standard on all vehicles purchased.  The 'turn signal', (please follow the link for a tutorial on the correct use of a turn signal) if your car IS equipped with this device, please do us all a favor and use it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kick starting Christmas.

I made a promise on Facebook, "'I will make ALL my Christmas gifts this year" and thanks to Pintrest I will have no problem filling stockings this Christmas.  It had been a while since I had made something to give as a gift so I felt that the best place to warm-up would be Halloween. Cheetah reommended carving a pumpkin, I tried to remind him how much he DID NOT enjoy doing it last year but he would not give up. 
Yeah, it didn't take long for him to regret his request.  I also learned a good lesson about pumpkins this year, although the 'warty' pumpkins are super cute they do not make good carving pumpkins.  The skin is SUPER tough, even Tarzan had a hard time carving into it.  We kinda gave up on the face but the 'goblin' inspired jack-o-lantern still came out super cute.
After our battle with the pumpkin I was a little nervous to try my hand at tye dying at home.  Last year after Halloween I bought this kit at Walmart for under $3 dollars, and I was super excited.  The only things I had to provide were shirts and patience...
Suprisingly it went really well, Cheetah was into it but after 15 minutes of just squeezing dye he lost intrest.  I ended up tye dying 5 t-shirts and loving it.  They had to soak overnight but the 1st thing I did the next morning was cut off the bands and take a look.  Cheetah couldn't believe that you could change a white t-shirt to something 'so cool yo' (had to use his exact words).
We had enough dye leftover to make our 1st Christmas gift of the year.  It turned out great and we know that the giftee will LOVE it too!! 
We have whipped our creative muscles into shape and this past weekend we churned out 4 more Christmas gifts and started on another 4, it won't be long before we have them all done and ready for the unveiling.  I'll give a little sneak peek as we work toward our family Christmas's...seriously, check out Pintrest, there are SO many great ideas and ways to help you save money during this holiday season.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

a back that needed patting...

My grandmother always gave me the best advice, off the top of my head I can think of three pearls of wisdom that have helped me: the most important relationship is the one with yourself, you can never really know someone else, and when you marry it should be to someone who brings out the best in you. I am so thankful that I listened.  I am reminded daily how lucky I am to have a partner so loyal, honest, and caring.  He's my hunter, my barometer, my heart, and my space heater.

Like most people I had an idea of what I was looking for in a partner.  I had images of a two story colonial with 4 smiling children, 2 minivans parked side by side, and a husband whose ambitious career perfectly matched mine.  It has taken 33 years of life experience and 9 years in a marriage to shed some light on the sham I had envisioned so many years ago.  Don't get the wrong idea, I didn't settle.  In reality I do not live in a two story colonial and will never have 4 perfect children, God gave me an abundance of flour and I've been busy making roux.

I know beyond a doubt that Tarzan is the perfect life mate for me.  Without even a grimace he cleans up squished bugs, fresh vomit, and all unidentifiable messes.  He never shys away from explaining the most difficult words or concepts to Cheetah.  His ability to define words like sexy and explain theories like time travel in a way that a 5 year old can comprehend is astounding.  He puts his own needs and wants on the back-burner time and time again, his sacrifices are never mentioned and his back is often left patless.

I have often struggled with my self esteem but my relationship with Tarzan has changed that aspect.  The unyielding love and devotion this man has for me has helped me to see myself as he does; beautiful, strong, good, and worthy.  I have never had to ask him how he feels for me; I see it in every dish that is washed, every yard that has been mowed, every book he reads to Cheetah, and in every note he leaves for me.

I love you Tarzan.  Thank you for being more than I ever dreamed of and everything I never knew to ask for.

Monday, October 17, 2011

a few chews down memory lane

The Smith household has been playing with their food for a few weeks now.  We've been making food that makes us giggle, sigh with contentment, and takes us on a stroll down memory lane.  Besides pizza and turkey sandwiches; hotdogs are a staple in Cheetah's diet.  He orders corndogs and hotdogs but never eats the 'bread' he likes his dogs au natural.  In the interest of 'funning up' his dogs I began searching on pintrest and I found these cute pictures and I knew of a trick to turn hotdogs into a seafood delight; they were both a hit with Cheetah and they been requested daily since their introduction.

Cheetah has developed a love for several of my childhood favorites like gumbo, mexican cornbread, and porcupine meatballs but Tarzan became concerned when he learned that Cheetah wasn't a huge fan of some of the items that were offered at the school cafeteria.  We did a recap of the week's menu and decided to school Cheetah on two staples from Tarzan's childhood: meatloaf and sloppy joes. 

I got this yummy meatloaf recipe from The Pioneer Woman's site but the sloppy joes came straight out of the can.  I forgot how yummy sloppy joes are and it's a fairly inexpensive meal to fix in a flash.

Tonight we are noshing on the gorgeous meatloaf accompanied by fluffy mashed potatoes and green beans. It's been fun reliving some of our childhood memories while making some for Cheetah along the way.  What are the 'go to meals' in your house?  Are they the meals you ate as a child as well?? 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wax on, wax off.

It has been busy couple of weeks in the Smith household, we have signed up for a new after school program and it has taken some time to get used to our new schedule.  For some time now, Cheetah has shown interest in karate and Tarzan and I were more than happy to sign him up for some extra physical activity.  I knew I was going to be pleased with him learning some techniques in self-defense but really had no idea how much help it would be in the behavior department.

He still has his moments where listening and focusing can be taxing but it's obvious that he realizes it and tries his best to keep it in check.  Not only has karate helped him to learn the correct behavior for social & school situations but we have also seen a huge change in his self-confidence.  It even shows on the playgrounds we have been frequenting.
I know that no matter how long he stays in the program, only positive things can come from earning stripes for memory, discipline, and fitness.  My 'Little Ninja' is thoroughly enjoying his time in the dojo and I love seeing the accomplished look on his face each time we head home.  It's a win - win!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Guest Post: I am that Mom

Check out my guest post on my dear friend McCall's blog for her 'I am that Mom week', and if you aren't a groupie of her's...what are you waiting for?!?!?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

365 more days without you.

Here I sit surrounded by soggy kleenex, wet faced, and sad.  I can't believe I have survived 730 days without you.  I felt sure that with both you and Opa gone my heart would crumble and turn to dust.  With your's and Opa's 'anniversaries' being so close together the end of summer has really began to take it's toll.  I know it gets easier but I must admit it's hard, it doesn't help that I have planted my feet firmly in the ground and I have started to take 'root'.  It's as if I am taking a stand.  I have lost enough great people from my life and I am scared to move forward.  It's not that I haven't been happy, loved, or had fun; it's just that every other breath seems to get caught in my throat and tears try to well up in my eyes. 

I am so thankful that Tarzan and Cheetah had the chance to build real relationships with you, knowing you mean so much to them has helped me to mourn openly.  If a wave of emotion hits, Tarzan can truly know the great loss I am feeling.  Cheetah speaks of you regularly, and he keeps that beanie baby kitten you gave him sitting on his dresser.  It nearly kills me each time he wishes he could see your face again and give you a hug...what I wouldn't give for a chance at that myself.

You were always a constant in my life, ever present, ever loving.  One of my first soild memories of you is lying in a twin bed (with you in the one right next to mine) and talking with eachother until we fell asleep.  When I was scared you would hold my hand, and give me your glow in the dark rosary to help sooth my nerves.  The last time we talked I told you how scary it was to watch you leaving me, and you grabbed my hand and said, "I know you are scared but I can't be here just because you're scared...I did what I was suppossed to do". You were my compass, a place where I could always find my 'true north' and I fear I may be lost without you

Wednesday, September 14, 2011