Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls like Cinnabon's

This time of year, it's difficult to stay on a healthy eating plan with no treats.  At least, it is for me.  Thanksgiving is so full of yumminess and lots of desserts, how can one resist?  Plus, we have TWO Thanksgivings (one with each side of the family) and both are extremely delicious.
The day after Thanksgiving I saw this recipe on Pinterest, and couldn't resist trying it out.  The hubby was at work Friday so I had the kids all home, with no intention of braving the mobs on Black Friday (although I went out that night and it was a normal shopping night, almost empty, even, at the craft store I went to.)  Anyway, since this recipe uses a breadmaker for most of the rising stages, I figured it was worth a try.
It was very easy to do, but it took about 3 hours from start to finish.  Not sitting with it, of course, but it's not a make-it-now-for-breakfast type recipe, unless you get up super early and your kids want to eat way later than mine (they beg for food by 7am, and usually help themselves to cereal before then!)

Clone of a Cinnabon

Monday, November 28, 2011

Transporting Kids in Winter

Last Winter was kind of rough for me; transporting three kids 5 and under anywhere was such an ordeal!  Since I had all of them every morning (my 5-year old had afternoon Kindergarten), I found myself shopping with all of them, all the time.  It was so tiring!
A friend shared with me her idea of moving the seats in such a way that they could all get in from one side- the driver's side.  This was GENIUS.  I wish I remember which friend told me about it first; I know of two who used this for at least a little while!  Since all three still needed help to buckle themselves into carseats, having any one of them in the back meant a lot of stretching and reaching for me.  In the cold Chicago winters, this was not fun.  So, without further ado, here is the amazing setup:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Real Life While Crafting

You can probably imagine hours of crafting (and thus neglecting the house) would create quite the chaotic mess.  If I didn't share what really went on while I was spending time crafting with three young kids in the house, it wouldn't really be fair to you.   It's easy to assume, based on pretty pictures on a blog, that everything else in my life is as "perfect" as the wreath-making looked!  As if I have endless free time...
The photos of wreath-making steps were taken spread out all through a few days.  First was the painting and then a week or so later two days of actual wreath-making.  One of those days was Thanksgiving, so my hubby was home to help out!  There were also plenty of interruptions.
Make sure before you start a project that you have a space to work in- I just started on the floor where my computer is (this is our dining room, but since our table is in the kitchen/family room area, we made this into sort of an office for now where the family computer lives).  It was like a ribbon, fabric and glittery decoration explosion.  Not to mention a couple of dangerous objects like wire cutters, scissors, and a hot glue gun thrown into the mix.  Thankfully my kids weren't very interested in the danger this time.
Don't go in, you might not come out!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Wreaths

I have been on a wreath kick the last couple of years.   When our front door isn't decorated, the house looks naked to me!  It started with buying wreaths.  I bought one or two.  They are SO expensive!!  So then I decided to make one, but the ready-made supplies for that weren't much cheaper.  The first one I made was just a plain evergreen wreath that I stuck store-bought pinecones-and-berries-on-sticks into.  Later, I made another one for indoors that I added lights to.  They are nice, but nothing spectacular.
Last year I made this one with the TONS of pinecones my kids had gathered from outside.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Toy Organization

Christmas is approaching, and with it always comes new toys and things that cause our house to become more cluttered.  I read a good idea online that a friend asked for only books, puzzles, and clothing for her twins' first birthdays.  I thought it was a smart and a great way to give "guidelines" for gift-givers.  I hate to put limits and restrictions on my family and those who want to bless my kids with a gift, but the categories of appreciated gifts seemed to be a good way to go about controlling the clutter.  As kids grow older, they do need different stimulation and things for learning.  However, I'm so tired of the kitschy, trendy materialistic toys that become junk in our house when the kids tire of them within a very short time.  The "junk toys" are the toys that just don't require any imagination from children.  The toys that have stood the test of time in our house are things that can be taken apart and rebuilt easily, (Legos, marble set), the play kitchen and play food (this even goes in spurts of unuse though), dress-up clothes (just starting to become an interest of my 2- and 4-year olds), art supplies, dolls, and household items like pillows, old paper towel rolls, and miscellaneous containers that they like to fill with their trinkets and carry around.  The cardboard box has seriously been a more exciting "toy" than the big fancy thing that came inside of it most of the time!  Even better are "experience" gifts such as tickets to shows, children's museums, or even movies or a day out with family members, and time together like making cookies with their cousins (an idea we plan to try with in-town family, allowing the kids to decorate cookies for each other).
This DVD/VHS collection was reduced by about 1/3

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Project: Repainting a Dresser and Nightstand

This project was a doozy!  I haven't done anything this major since February of 2010 when my hubby took all three kids to grandma's for the whole day so I could paint the entire downstairs living room and kitchen.  So I guess I was about due for an overwhelming project.  At least this one didn't involve removal of wallpaper.  But it involved sanding, so maybe it isn't that far behind....

I found this dresser and nightstand set at a garage sale and managed to get both for $20.  They clearly needed refinishing but were solid wood and had nice simple clean lines.  They were yelling for handles to be added too!

Toddler Activity: Pom Pom bucket

I read about this activity on Money Saving Mom.  She has activities for little ones called Busy Bags, and one activity in this category was called "Pom Pom stuff-it-in" or something like that.  I thought it looked like a fun activity to do for my 2-year old, so I made one.
Super easy steps:
Stuffin' it in

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

School Homework Spot

About a month into the school year I realized my oldest son didn't have a regular spot to keep his homework.  We have a stack of file shelves on my desk where I keep school papers, but things get buried pretty quickly there.  If they need attention they have to go in my mail "pocket" in the kitchen, or it floats around the counter.  I realized that I was having to keep track of all his stuff all the time, and especially the long-term assignments (which are about 4 days long for a first grader!).  Enter another cause for a stressed-out mommy.  So, I took an old bulletin board, wrapped it in leftover fabric from covering old chairs (which are now long gone and taken for free by someone in the neighborhood), and hung it near the table where he does his homework.  Now he keeps his weekly spelling list and homework in the same spot, pinned to the bulletin board, and is great about keeping track of it!

Homemade Mint Chip Ice Cream

I was walking around our yard a couple of weeks ago and noticed my tiny mint plant was going CRAZY (wow I'm noticing a theme here in my life).  It must have been 10 times its original size.  So, I thought, "what can I make with all this mint?" and my mind went through a couple ideas- mint mojitos (except I don't drink very often, and don't have the stuff around the house- it's so expensive!).  So instead my mind went to mint chocolate chip ice cream, which is probably my favorite (but I won't really say no to any ice cream!).  Although it isn't the healthiest recipe, it was made with a little less fat than is possible.  I love the fresh mint flavor this has.  It's definitely different from the typical mint chip ice cream you'd buy.

My stack of recipes on my Crate & Barrel recipe book holder.  I don't know how I lived without this thing before I received it as a gift a few years ago.

Here is the recipe I found online (can't remember the source, though- will post if I find it):

Fall Decorations

Fall is always such a cozy time of year for me.  The cooler weather keeps us indoors more and I get to pull out my fall candles and decor!  I haven't had much decor beyond candles but this year I found some great deals 80% off at Hobby Lobby.  I happened to hit the sale (by no planning of my own) the day or two after it started.  I have added a couple of things since this photo but here is what I decorated around the house this year.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy November!

The leaves are falling and almost gone.. winter is almost upon us.  At least that's what the Christmas music on the radio (which I've been strangely enjoying) is telling me.  But I'm not ready for Fall, my favorite season, to be over quite yet!  We have been trying to enjoy the last of the mild warmer weather we have been having here in Chicagoland. 
I hope for this blog to be a fun place for you to get some new ideas on fun activities for the kids, yummy and healthy things to make in the kitchen (with some treats thrown in too), or home organization (or toy organization a.k.a. the monster that takes over the house if not kept in check).  With Christmas upon us, it's time to purge the old to make way for the new!  Please Lord don't let us receive sets of toys with thousands more tiny parts!

Stay crazy--

Welcome to Plum Crazy!

I started this blog as an outlet to express all of my ideas and efforts to make our house a truly comfortable home.  Everyone needs a place of peace and joy, and my hope is to somehow make that out of the chaos that is family life with kids.  I often feel as though I'm not accomplishing enough, and as women and mothers I think that feeling is probably more common than we realize.  I needed to do this so I stop the negative self-talk about what I'm not accomplishing, and instead write about the things I am able to do by the Grace of God!  He has given us so much, and the many things I am able to do come directly as a blessing and outpouring from God.  Without Him, I am nothing.  "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:26)  May you find some grace and peace today.  And maybe a new good idea to use in your own home!