3 Kiddie Crafts to Ring in Spring

Although we’ve had a few “summery” winter days recently here in California, today is officially the first day of spring! 🙂 I thought I’d share some craft ideas to help you and your kiddos ring in allergy season. 😉 Here are 3 things C and I made over the past few weeks that remind me of spring:

1. Sock Chick. C needed to make a 3-D farm animal for school, so she (of course) chose a chick. After wandering around the dollar store for ideas, we came across a yellow sock that got our creative juices flowing. All the other supplies were from the dollar store as well; the only other things you need are stuffing, a needle and thread, and a glue gun.

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Supplies: a yellow sock, pack of googly eyes, pack of foam to cut out beak and feet, fake flowers for feathers, and fake hay and basket for a nest. (Hula hoop for decoration and entertainment purposes only). 😉

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Ta-da! 😀

2. Rice Krispy Chicks. Speaking of chicks, C got a box of DIY rice krispy chicks from my sister (which I believe she found at Cost Plus World Market). They were super easy to make and fun to decorate. (Note: I decided to err on the side of caution and forego the fluorescent yellow dye powder that had Made in China imprinted on the bag, as well as the candy eyes also from my homeland. For the sake of our health, we used chocolate chips for the eyes instead.) And yes, C did allow us to eat them when we were done (which was not the case last year when she wanted to buy a package of yellow Peeps; those sat untouched in our fridge for months).

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Cheep, cheep, cheep!

3. Fruit Drawings. This was a craft C did on a field trip to a children’s museum last week. The idea was to choose some laminated pictures of fruit, trace them and create your own person/animal/creature out of them.

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The bright colors definitely make me think of spring!

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C’s round creature coming to life.

I hope these crafts got you in the mood for this new season. And here’s something else that will get you feelin’ like a spring chicken – “Rockin’ Robin” by The Jackson 5. 🙂

What do you love most about springtime?

Monday Mentionables: Almond Butter Cookies, DIY Beanbag & Microscopic Tears

Hello cyber-friends! Is it only Monday? 😉 It has definitely been a more “manic” Monday here cause I feel like I’ve been moving non-stop since I woke up. But I suppose all this movin’ is getting me closer to Friday, right?

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. Almond Butter Cookies. I love the taste of almonds and even enjoy their scent; give me a bottle of almond extract to sniff and I’m a happy camper. 😉 Not only are these nuts yummy, they are also good for your health (ie. lowering cholesterol, reducing your risk of heart disease and protecting against diabetes). These health benefits are reason enough to grab a handful of almonds to snack on. But for those of you who don’t like chewing on raw nuts, there’s another way you can eat almonds: almond butter! I bought a jar of almond butter from Costco and like everything else I buy from that store, I end up with way more product than I know what to do with. Which is why I googled “almond butter cookie recipe” the other day and discovered a new favorite way to eat almonds (besides almond tofu). This cookie is sooo good – it almost tastes like a healthy brownie! The kids loved it, too, even my picky eater, E. 🙂 Check out the recipe here.

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Here’s my little assistant putting the chocolate covered sunflower seeds (which the recipe calls for and we just happened to have!) on the dough.

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The finished product! FYI, I substituted honey for the sugar which made them a little more gooey, but who doesn’t like gooey, chocolatey cookies? 🙂

2. DIY Beanbag. So I decided to get crafty this weekend and make my own beanbag. I (again) googled “DIY beanbag” and found this easy set of directions (with a video of a room makeover, too!). I got an old sofa cover, cut it up and sewed the pieces together. I was hoping to have it finished by today so I could show you all a picture of it, but I didn’t realize how much stuffing it would take to fill it, so it’s not quite presentable yet. Stay tuned though… 😉

3. Microscopic Tears. Did you ever wonder what human tears looked like under a microscope? Neither did I… until I saw this article online. Check it out to find out more about tears (there are actually 3 types of them) and to see them in a whole new way.

Alrighty, have a wonderful week! 🙂

Monday Mentionables: Chia Seeds, Selfie Apps & DIY Popsicles

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Mother’s Day! I don’t know about you, but it always seems like celebrations call for food, so that meant I was eating practically non-stop yesterday. Good thing Father’s Day is still a month away. 😉

Here are today’s mentionables…

1. Chia Seeds. I feel like I may have blogged about chia seeds before, but a quick perusal through my “food” tagged posts didn’t bring them up, so here we go (hopefully not again, haha). Yes, these are the same seeds that grow into chia pets – but did you know that you can eat them, too (don’t worry, you won’t turn into anything leafy and green). Chia seeds are one of the new “superfoods” and are noted for their great health benefits, which include being a good source of fiber, omega 3’s and antioxidants, as well as helpful for blood sugar regulation. And the neat thing about chia seeds is that they “plump up” when they are soaked in liquid and turn into tiny, chewy gel-like balls. They are pretty popular in packaged drinks (ever heard of Mamma Chia?), which are convenient to buy and give to the kids as snacks, but also quite pricey. So I picked up a bag of them at Costco recently and am making my own chia seed drinks/smoothies. Here’s a video for DIY chia seed drinks if you want to give these seeds a try. 🙂

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Here are some chia seeds I’m currently soaking in water. Don’t be scared by their appearance. 😉

2. Selfie Apps. I actually very rarely post selfies anywhere on the web, but I think they are a great way to preserve memories (for your own personal enjoyment) when you have no photographer on hand. I have many selfies of me with the kids, as well as the four of us because sometimes that’s the only way we can get a family picture taken. 😉 But for anyone who’s ever tried to take a selfie, you know there’s a lot of physical maneuvering involved to hold the phone as far away from you as possible and still be able to hit the button – it’s almost like playing Twister! So I was pretty excited when I heard about a new app that allows you to take hands-free selfies. It’s called FaceSnap and is currently $0.99. Check it out at this link. Also, here’s a review of 10 other camera apps to help you take the perfect selfie.

3. DIY Popsicles. If your weather is anything like mine this week (highs in the 90’s again!), then you’ll want to consider making some popsicles. 🙂 Here’s a link with 21 homemade popsicle recipes that will get your mouth watering and your legs running for the kitchen! Number 17 even uses chia seeds! 😉

Okie, have a good week everyone!

Monday Mentionables: Quinoa, Eyelid Artwork & Love Songs

Hola! Happy cinco de mayo and happy monday to you all. I hope you had a good weekend. I’m happy to announce that we finally took down our Christmas tree yesterday – it was a few months overdue, but better late than never, right? 😉

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. Quinoa. Okay, so the first thing you need to know about this word is that it’s pronounced “keen-wa”. And it’s a type of grain with edible seeds that is closely related to spinach and tumbleweeds. Doesn’t sound too appetizing? Think again. 🙂 It’s actually pretty tasty and also easy to cook. I just stick it in the rice cooker and add water (or you can try chicken broth); the ratio of quinoa to water is 1:2. Then you can either eat it straight like that in place of rice or pasta or you can mix it into a salad.

The other week we were at Sweet Tomatoes (E’s most favorite restaurant on earth) and they had a new quinoa salad. Hubby and I both liked it, so I took a picture of it and gave it a try at home. It turned out pretty well and has made it onto our regular “menu”. If you’ve never had quinoa before, I’d encourage you to give it a try. It’s super nutritious and high in antioxidant phytonutrients (try saying that fast!), which help with inflammation. You can find out more info about quinoa here.

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Courtesy of Sweet Tomatoes

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By moi 😉

2. Eyelid Artwork. I saw this article online about a makeup artist who uses eyeliner and eye shadow to create beautiful masterpieces on eyelids. Sounds strange, but take a look and see how cool it is. Let me know if you try it out yourself. 🙂

3. Love Songs. In light of today’s “holiday” – hubby and my 13th anniversary, I’m including a few of my favorite love songs. Take a listen to these if you’re in the mood for some romance. 😉

I Will Be Here by Steven Curtis Chapman

Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx

Not a Bad Thing by Justin Timberlake

Okie, that’s all for today. Have a wonderful day! 🙂

Monday Mentionables: DIY Dim Sum, Cleaning Myths & Easter Eggs

Hi everyone! Is it me or does it feel like the first few months of the year always fly by with busyness? This is the second year in a row where we have yet to take down our Christmas tree by spring. 😛 I think it’s a combo of several family birthdays + holidays (Chinese New Year being one of them) + life = a tree that’s tucked away in a corner of the living room and has blended so well with the decor that we’ve forgotten about it. But I am determined to put it away THIS MONTH! Or else we won’t have anything to put up come this December. 😉

Image courtesy of Suat Iman/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Suat Iman/freedigitalphotos.net

Now onto today’s mentionables…

1. DIY Dim Sum. If you’ve never had the chance to eat dim sum – you must try it! It’s basically a Chinese brunch type of meal that you order from little carts that the servers push around from table to table. Some of the dishes could be called “exotic“, but most of them are yummy and tasty. I came across this link where you can learn how to make your own dim sum! It’s worth taking a look at even if you’re not handy in the kitchen (as I am) cause the pictures are drool-inducing. 😉 #15 is one of my favorites. What’s yours?

2. Cleaning Myths. True or false – you can use a squeegee to remove pet fur from carpets? Click on this link to find out the answer to this question (#7) and also learn the truth behind some other cleaning myths (ie. cleaning windows with newspapers).

3. Easter Eggs. It’s almost Easter! I know Resurrection Sunday is about so much more than egg hunts (and Christmas is about so much more than trees!), but I think traditions are important to kids and they can be a good way to share the real meaning behind the holidays. So if you’re in the mood to decorate, check out this link for 5 new ways to add some color and bling (literally) to your Easter eggs.

Have a great week!

Monday Mentionables: Oil Pulling, Faux Bob & Makeup Tips

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Hello there! ‘Tis an unusually cold and dreary day here in California, which may explain why I am moving at such a slow rate. Plus, the fact that I got drenched from running around earlier doing errands in the rain might have something to do with it. I probably should have believed the weather forecast and worn my boots instead of my flats. And brought an adult-sized umbrella instead of the kiddie Lightning McQueen one I tried sharing with C. 😉

Anyhow, here are today’s mentionables…

1. Oil Pulling. Have you heard of the recent trend of oil pulling? It involves taking a tablespoon of coconut oil, melting it in your mouth and swishing it around your teeth and gums for 20 minutes. You then spit the oil out in the trash and voila – you have whiter teeth and healthier gums! Sounds interesting and strange, doesn’t it? Well, I decided to try it out because one, I am genetically “blessed” with teeth that attract cavities like there’s no tomorrow and two, who doesn’t want whiter teeth? Let me assure you that oil pulling isn’t as gross as it sounds, but it can be a bit tedious. I only did it once, but I’m going to try to do it more regularly. You can read about someone else’s positive experience with it here.

2. Faux Bob. I saw this video on Yahoo and thought it looked like a simple and fun way to make over long hair without cutting it. If you’ve been wondering what you’d look like with a bob, you’ve got to try it out!

3. Makeup Tips. For those who are cosmetically challenged like I am, check out these makeup tips (with before and after photos!) from Real Simple. Whether you want to look more polished, natural or professional, there’s something for every gal in this article.

And if you need something heartwarming to brighten your rainy day (or make your sunny day even brighter), head on over to this site where you can see photos of 20 puppies cuddling with their stuffed animals. You won’t regret it! 😉

Have a good week everyone!

Monday Mentionables: Jitterbugs, Hip-hop Moms & Phyllo Dough

It is Monday… and boy was the morning crazy! For some reason C woke up on the wrong side of the bed and had a mini meltdown all the way downstairs until she got into hubby’s car and I closed the door. All this happened while she was wearing a glittery “Mom and Dad make me smile shirt”, which so did not apply this morning. Hubby and I exchanged bewildered glances through it all and I whispered to him, “Wait till she’s a teenager!”

I hope your Monday has gotten off to a better start. 🙂 Here are today’s mentionables…

1. Jitterbugs. We went to a local museum this weekend and made jitterbugs. Let me say that this museum is a bit nerdy as it’s on the grounds of a university (Go Bears!) and it specializes in science-y things. Which is why we learned how to make electric “bugs” with a motor and a AA battery. It was a fun and educational time learning about circuits and how they work. I think the kids liked the decorating part the most though.

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E’s is on the left; C’s is on the right.

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You could try this at home!

2. Hip-hop Moms. I saw this video going around Facebook the other day and thought is was so true and funny. Makes me want to start rappin’, too! Haha. Check it out here!

3. Phyllo Dough. I made turkey and cheese “turnovers” with Trader Joe’s phyllo dough this weekend for a potluck with old friends. If you like puff pastries, you’ll be happy to know you can make your own with phyllo dough. It’s easy to use – just defrost it overnight in the fridge, unwrap the dough (with dry hands or else the dough will stick), add your own insides (sweet or savory ingredients) and bake! I wish I had taken pictures of the finished product for you guys, but we had to rush out the door. Here are some recipes to get you started (warning: don’t look at the pictures on an empty stomach!).

As mentioned before on my Facebook page, I’m very excited to have my story, “Forced to Pause” published in Women’s Memoir’s new anthology. Special thanks to people who have bought the ebook already and for your encouraging feedback! I’m still waiting for the price to go down to $0.99 on February 1 (8AM PST) to buy it. 😉

Have a wonderful week!

Monday Mentionables: Mojitos, Start Marriage Right & Baking Soda

It’s the first day back to school for the munchkins after two weeks at home!!!! (How many exclamation marks can I use here?) I am enjoying some much needed quiet time and it feels so nice. 🙂 I did enjoy our time together though and will miss the “go with the flow”, non-routine-ness of the break, but I do believe distance also makes the heart grow fonder. 😉

Now on to the first Monday Mentionables of 2014:

1. Mojitos. Hubby and I have never been big drinkers, but there are a few drinks we do like from time to time. For me, I love pina coladas because pineapples remind me of Hawaii and for him, it is the mojito. Now since I am frugal at heart, I decided to try my hand at bartending and make a mojito for him at home. I looked up the recipe online, bought the ingredients and gave it a go. I learned the secret to a yummy mojito is in the simple syrup, which you make by boiling equal parts water and sugar and then steeping some mint leaves in it for a hour. 

Steeping the mint leaves from our backyard, which grow like weeds!

If you are not into alcoholic beverages, but you do love the taste of mint, you could use the syrup for other drinks as well (hubby tried it with tea). 

2. Start Marriage Right. I am so thrilled to tell you that I got my first writing “gig”! I am now a regular (monthly) contributor for a cool website about marriage. Start Marriage Right is a great resource for those who are single (and wanting to get married), dating, engaged and newly married. I actually think those who are past the honeymoon period (myself included) can benefit greatly from all the advice and encouragement there, too. I don’t profess to be an expert on marriage (hubby can vouch for that!), but I am happy and honored to be able to share what I have learned and experienced. You can read my first article here.

3. Baking Soda. I think the best cleaning products are cheap and all natural, that’s why I love baking soda. I bought two big bags of the stuff from Costco a while back and still haven’t gone through them yet. Check out this link for 51 uses for baking soda! Did you know you can use it to treat insect bites (#7), clean batteries (#28) and as a fruit and veggie scrub (#51)?

And here’s a news flash for you all: I have decided it’s time this blog had its own home! So instead of renting space at Blogger.com, 2square2behip will be moving to its own site. I am in the process of migrating everything to the new domain name and will hopefully have it up and running in a few weeks. I’ll keep you updated here as well as on my Facebook page!

Thanks for reading and making my blogging time fun and worthwhile! 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

Monday Mentionables: Braided Necklaces, Faces of America, No-Carve Pumpkins & The Beatles

Welcome to the last week of October! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and are ready to tackle today.

Here are today’s mentionables…

1. Braided T-shirt Necklace. After being inspired to make a T-shirt scarf last week, I decided to try my hands (plural because both are necessary for the task!) at making braided necklaces from old T-shirts. This four strand braid was my first attempt; I used the directions found here for a T-shirt belt. 

The two colors work well together, don’t they?
The outfit I wore it with this weekend.

Here are two other tutorials I’d like to try: this one uses regular three strand braids and this one incorporates a sailors knot with four strand braids. If you want to get even more complicated, you can try a five strand braid (I never knew they existed before)! The cool thing about upcycling T-shirts this way is that you can easily make a necklace, bracelet, belt or headband, depending on the length of fabric you have – and how long you want to keep on braiding! 

2. Faces of America. I happened upon this article on National Geographic’s website about the changing faces of America. The accompanying pictures are beautiful and speak of the melting pot that this nation is becoming. I am fortunate to live in a very diverse area of California where I am exposed to people (and food!) of all backgrounds every day. It just makes me appreciate the beauty that diversity brings and how creative God is!    

3. No-Carve Pumpkins. Halloween’s around the corner! For those of you who don’t want to deal with cleaning out a pumpkin’s innards, check out these 18 no-carve pumpkin ideas. My favorites are #4 (Thumbtack Pumpkins) and #7 (Candy Corn Pumpkins). Which do you like?

4. The Beatles. Who doesn’t like The Beatles? I love boy bands and they were pretty much the original one, way before ‘N Sync or One Direction were born (literally). They had so many great hits, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think “Here Comes the Sun” is the perfect one to start us off on this Monday. I found this acoustic cover of it by The Moon Loungers (funny that they should be singing about the sun). Enjoy the beautiful guitar strumming! 🙂

Have a lovely week everyone!

Monday Mentionables: MomLife Today, Egg & Pancake Molds and T-shirt Scarf

Happy Monday everyone! I’m getting a bit of a slow start to this day (and the cloudy weather doesn’t help!), but here we go… 🙂

Here are today’s mentionables:

1. MomLife Today. For all you moms out there, MomLife Today is a one-stop shop for moms. I discovered it just this year and I appreciate all the articles they have on parenting (of course), relationships and faith. What’s especially cool is that you can sort the articles by your “season” – whether you have babies, teens, adult children or even grandchildren. There are also craft and cooking ideas, such as a “Book of Me” for kids and snowflake cocoa for those cold winter days. 

P.S. I’m also happy and honored to have had one of my articles published there last week. 🙂

2. Egg & Pancake Molds. I bought this set from a friend’s daughter’s school fundraiser and tried them out this weekend. If you can’t tell what animals they are, the top one goes “oink” and the bottom one goes “moooo!” (Can you tell I read a lot of farm animal books to my kids?) The eggs didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, but they looked cute while they cooked! Next time I’ll fill in the molds more so the shapes will hold better. 

If you want to make your breakfasts more oink-tastic and moo-vahlous, you can look online for similar molds.  🙂

 

3. T-shirt to Scarf. I did some fall cleaning of my side of the closet this week and found tons of shirts that are ready to retire (ie. worn out and starting to pill up). I decided to try to upcycle them and found this very easy tutorial for a cool scarf. It took four shirts and about half an hour to make (depending on how anal you are!). My son had fun helping too – he stretched out the rings and made them into loops. 

There’s his hand in the upper right corner. This is the “during” photo.
And voila – here’s the finished product!

Alrighty, off we go now! Time to face a new week. Till next time… 🙂