Life as I know it

It’s been a quiet week at home.  No guests in our respite home, just the three of us.  It’s been a little too quiet but I think it helps me appreciate what we do.  I’m going to be starting a binder soon documenting our activites here at our “hotel for kids”.  A retreat, a calm place to get away from the day in, day out.  I have found that I do more here.  I could have done more before but it always felt like work.  Now it feels like play.  We’ve learned how to make slime, floam, paper beads, cakes in mugs, banana bread, play dough, paper mache.  We’ve painted, created baking soda volcanoes, learned how to get stains out of clothing with dawn dishsoap and baking soda and lots more.  We even learned how to make the twist and loop rubber band bracelets with the twist -n- loop maker we bought at 5 Below.

We are now constantly learning new things.  My daughter and I learned to knit this weekend.  She learned on Friday, I learned yesterday.  I always thought that knitting was sooo hard so I didn’t want to learn.  My daughter however has been talking about wanting to learn to knit for several months now and has been asking for knitting books and supplies.  My coworker came over to teach my daughter the basic steps.  Yesterday my daughter taught me how to knit. 

Even though my daughter was patient with me, I just couldn’t figure it out so off to youtube I went.

Here is a really great youtube video that helped me with learning the basic knitting steps,

heather knit 1 izzy knit 1

The first picture is my first attempt at knitting.  Second picture is my daughter’s.  We held off buying supplies until after her first lesson.  I have a habit of buying way too much stuff and putting the cart before the horse.  So I patiently waited and then had my coworker tell me what to buy. 

We went to Joann fabrics and I was a bit overwhelmed by the multitude of yarn and needles.  My daughter was drawn to the large needles during her lesson so I bought a size 19 Boye plastic needles for her.  I picked up an extra set – size 15 Boye metal.  She recommended Lion Brand yarn so my daughter is using the hometown USA in Fort Worth Blue.  It’s a think super soft lovely yarn. The yard I’m using is Lion Brand Jiffy in Violet. It’s not as soft, it’s thinner (5 instead of 6) as the hometown but it feels lovely.  I also picked up the hometown USA in Charlotte Blue, the jiffy in country green and 1 thing of Lion Brand wool-ease in seaspray.  A nice little assortment to get her (us) started.

We also went book shopping yesterday.  It was the annual penguin book sale.  We tend to go a little crazy as the books are good, and cheap.  I get so excited about all the taste of home cookbooks, the children’s books, Eric Carle books, gardening books, the Complete Idiots Guides, and more.  As you all know I’ve been decluttering and downsizing so this can be a very bad place for me to go.  All books that are $10 or less are $1.  Taste of Home cookbooks for like $3.  That’s an amazing price.  My first year going I spent over $100 in books.  My arms felt like they were going to break and I was eyeing enviously those with wheeled bags.  This year my arms were still tired (4th year going) as I still don’t use a wheel bag but it was my lowest total yet – $38!  I’m so excited about the books I purchased this year.  (35 books for $38 – what a steal!)

For me:

taste of home The Taste of Home Kid approved cookbook.  I love taste of home so much because each recipe comes with a brightly colored photograph of the finished product.  I love this because it makes me want to cook.  The recipes from Taste of Home tend to be winners too.

good deeds The unofficial offical handbook of good deeds by DK was the first book I put into my bag for myself.  It is full of great ideas to encourage my kiddos to make the world a better place.  It’s a fantastic book full of practical ideas and brightly colored photographs.  I can’t wait to sit down and read through this!

bullying The Essential Guide to Bullying Prevention and Intervention is the last book I bought for myself.  As I’m going through the books I bought myself I realized they are all for the work that I do for and with my kids.  There were tons of fiction books available for a fraction of the normal costs but I realized that I prefer to read those on my ereader.  Easier to carry, easier to maintain and easier to read.

We picked out two for our nephew to be born next week – Baby’s First Year! and Baby Touch and Feel Farm


Our 4-year-old nephew will be getting two sticker books for which I’m sorry in advanced for

disney animals

and Winter according to Humphrey for my daughter’s friend.


The surprising thing was that my husband bought some books for himself.  He doesn’t read – he knows how to, just doesn’t like to.  I was shocked because he bought himself some fiction and non-fiction.  So what does a man buy who never buys books?

merlin plants in pots rangers apprentice transformers

So he bought Merlin the Book of Magic.  He doesn’t realize that it’s book 12 of the set.  It looks interesting though – a companion’s guide to the series.  My husband gardens, he loves it.  He found Grow Plants in Pots and I thought it was fitting considering how he spents time each summer working on a small garden.  He bought book 1 of the Ranger’s apprentice series – The Ruins of Gorlan.  If he reads this I’ll gladly buy the rest for him.  Last, a guide for a video game.

Finally our daughter and the house got the most books.  We have teens and preteens all the time and I take them to the library and encourage them to read.  We have a book shelf on the 1st floor full of books but it’s been lacking on chapter books.  I picked up the Shark Wars series.

shark wars I found books 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6.  It was so strange – not a single book 3 anywhere at the sale.

My daughter picked up Remarkable by Lizzie K Foley.  She picked up the back and was excited, evil twins, pirates with two peg legs, a sea monster!  This is my kind of book – she exclaimed.


ninjago She also got Lego Ninjago Character Encylopedia.

As for the other 16 books?  She’ll find those under the Christmas tree.

Home made fingerpaints

My daughter and I made a large amount of finger paints for me to use with my kiddos at work.  It was very easy and the end product was acceptable and kid approved.

For large batches of finger paint (picture above shows 3 batches)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 6 tablespoons of salt
  • 4 1/2 cups of cold water
  • 4 1/2 cups of hot water
  • food dye

Combine as follows

  1. Mix the flour and salt together.  Then add the cold water.
  2. Whisk until there are no lumps.
  3. Add the hot water and whisk again.
  4. Cook over medium heat until similar to gravy texture.  Whisk frequently to avoid lumps.
  5. Remove from heat and whisk until smooth.
  6. Divide white mixture into different containers and add food coloring.

The recipe I follow states to refridgerate this – what I love about this recipe is that it cleans up easy.  It wipes off kids skin super easy without staining the skin.  If children eat it they will be okay as it’s just flour, salt and water with a little bit of food dye.  It does not have a pleasant taste so they won’t eat much of it if they do.

My daughter had a great time with me deciding on the colors and then she helped with the activity with a group of kids.  I use freezer paper as it has that lovely waxy side so the wet paint doesn’t soak right through.  Freezer paper also is a long roll of paper perfect for a variety of craft and art projects.

Here’s the link to the blog for the finger paints –

Brain is glitching on bad photography

Today my brain is glitching something fierce.  I really hate being hypercritical of others but I really hate bad photographers and photoshop users calling themselves professional photographers.  I think what I hate even more is the people who oooh and aaah over these rotten examples of “professional” work.

Now I love photography.  I even sell some of my photographs.  I photograph events.  People ask me to take their pictures and they pay me but I would never call myself a professional photographer.

Here are my major pet peeves with unprofessional “professional” photographers.

  1. over sharpening images – especially the eyes.  COME ON NOW!  it looks fake and bad.  real bad.
  2. over saturating the images.  ouch my eyes.
  3. thinking photoshop will save a shitty image.
  4. over use of filters
  5. slapping their name on every image
  6. over washing out an image
  7. over bluring the sides without precision.

whoo – got it out.

sorry – go about your day now.  I’m done.

Upcoming Yard Sale and Free Graphics

We picked the date for our next yard sale!  July 7th!

I designed some yard sale signs that I had printed up at  After having them printed I decided that I’m going to use a black sharpie to outline the arrows on both yard signs.


If you like these yard sale signs feel free to use them for personal use only.