Category Archives: RANDO•RAMA

Homemade Christmas Potpourri

I know I shared this a couple of years ago, but I just had to share this again for anyone that may have missed it!  I LoVe this homemade potpourri!  It is super easy to make and will smell up your entire home for the holidays!  Try it out and let me know what you think!

3 Cinnamon Sticks

3 Bay Leaves

¼ C. Cloves

2 Lemon Wedges

1 Orange Peel

(Top 3 ingredients are found in the dry spice section of the grocery store.)

CoMbiNe all of these ingredients in a small crock-pot.  Add water to cover top of all ingredients.  Leave on low temperature.  As the smell fades, continue to add water and various ingredients to keep the mixture moist for a continuous yummy smell!  EnJoy!

*Be sure to unplug your crockpot at night because all the water will be gone by morning and the potpourri will be burnt!

*If you are ready to start a new batch, drain the water and set out the old potpourri to dry.  Even as dry potpourri it smells AWESOME!  Place the dry potpourri in a pretty bowl on a table as another way to smell up your home and extend the life of your potpourri!

Need a quick X-Mas Present idea?!  Throw the ingredients into a basket or mini-crockpot and give as a gift!  Include a printed version of the recipe by clicking here!

~Lara

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Christmas Card Chaos

Tis’ the season for trying to capture that PeRfEcT photo for the annual Christmas card!  You know the one I’m referring to that gives the illusion that your kids never fight, don’t play in the mud, and wear matching outfits daily.  First there is the decision over whether to go to a portrait studio, hire a photographer and do an outdoor family photo shoot, or take the pictures yourself.  Once that is decided the planning of the outfits can begin.  The ridiculous part about this is that stores start  putting out their holiday lines in October so if your kids wear a popular size you better be thinking ahead.  Ok, now you know who is taking the picture and what everyone is wearing, but here is the hardest part…getting everyone to cooperate! photo

I am sure many of you moms are going through this torture over the next few weeks so let me share my Christmas card 2013 attempt with all of you.  Before I start getting all sorts of complaints from dads, I chose to write moms because maybe there are one or two dads out there who break the mold and take the kids for the Christmas photos, but in MY experience, there is NO dad who wants to be anywhere near this unprecedented madness EVER!

This year I was going to have a friend who is a professional photographer take photos in our yard.  Well that idea went down the toilet when I had to cancel the session because it had rained the night before and the grass was soaking wet.  I know my kids would never have cooperated if their feet were soaking wet from the grass and we wouldn’t have gotten the photos that I wanted to get.  My second attempt pictured above was yesterday.  I thought I could take the bull by the horns and take the photos myself.  I’ve done it before so why not?  Here’s why not…apparently I bought my son “handsome” clothes instead of “cool” clothes and he refused to put them on.  In a desperate attempt to move forward with my plan I decorated a tree with candy canes and figured I would at least get my daughter’s picture done since she was all dressed and loves getting her picture taken.  I figured my son would get jealous and cave once he saw her getting all the attention and put the cute plaid shirt and sweater on, but boy was I wrong.  What erupted was like a scene out of a Christmas horror show.  While my daughter was standing on a chair smiling my son took one of my giant candy cane props and started chopping down the candy canes one by one out of the tree faster than I could grab him.  Candy was flying all over the place, my daughter was wobbling in a chair in her Christmas dress, and all I was thinking was, don’t react like Clark Griswold when his lights don’t light up in Christmas Vacation!

Needless to say, we marched back in the house after picking up all of the broken candy canes and I am left with this fantastic picture that I share with all of you.  Please keep it in mind when you are stressed to the max this Christmas season.  As you receive your mail full of smiling faces each day remember a lot more goes into those cards than you think and don’t be too hard on yourself if your journey to whatever your PeRfEcT card is isn’t so PeRfEcT!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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I am Thankful Project

With my son in Kindergarten, I’ve been planning more projects that incorporate some writing and of course some messy art!  With all the academics that need to get covered in the short school day kids don’t often get the chance to get down and dirty with paint anymore.  This simple Indian Corn project kept my 4 and 6 year olds busy for about a half hour (just long enough for me to enjoy a cup of coffee!) and the writing piece will remain a special memory of what they were thankful for at this special time in their childhood.

If you are a teacher, this can be done as a whole class activity and it would make a fantastic bulletin board display!  Click on this link to print my free THANKFUL FOR tags and get your creative juices flowing!

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I cut out a corn shape out of cardstock and fabric and glued them together. You can just use cardstock, but I thought the fabric gave the project a rustic look!

The more fall colors the better!

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photo 1

I used burlap to make the dry corn leaves and attached the printable Thankful For cards!

photo 2

Happy Painting & Memory Making!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Fall Handprint Crafts

I couldn’t let a season pass by without sharing my handprint and footprint ideas from this year and years past.  As my kids get older I am finding it harder to come up with projects that can fit both their hands and feet on one page so I’ve been letting them each do their own thing.  I’ve also been having fun adding their drawings to the handprint art!  The possibilities are endless!

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HaPpY PaiNtinG!

HaPpY MeMoRy MaKiNg!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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“Before” and “During” Pictures of our House

It has been a while since I updated you on our HOuSe!  As most of you know, last summer we had our house lifted and moved to our new farm.  It traveled over 100 miles!  Here is a picture of what it looked like shortly after it was moved and set back down on a new basement foundation:July 2012

Over the past 16 months we have added on a new “front” to the house.  In August I began painting the exterior–which still needs to get finished–but already has helped improve the overall look.  We have many “phases” of the house we need to complete before it becomes our “dReaM” home.  Since our current garage is used as my office/woodshop, our next plan is to extend the garage and have a porch which will connect the new garage and current front door area.  Not sure how soon this will happen, but in the meantime I am enjoying each new phase of seeing it come together.

Sept 2013

Sept 2013

Many of you wonder how our house has held up after traveling such a long distance.  There were only a few hairline cracks in the sheetrock above the interior doors but besides that, you’d never know it went through such a haul!  We continue to feel blessed about the entire process of the move and are glad we stuck with our CrAzY idea ;)  We couldn’t be happier in our new location and look forward to making more memories in the first house we ever purchased (just with a different landscape)!

To read about the MOVING journey, click below in the following order:

read Why Move A House? , Demo Work , Moving Day, Moving Our House and Did We Make the Right Decision?

Cheers,

Lara

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How I Fixed Our LAUNDRY Situation in 15 Minutes

If you were to ask me what area of my household chores stresses me out the most, I would say “LAUNDRY”.  I feel like our laundry takes over my life and my mood!  Like most people, we have a small laundry room, which also serves as a mudroom next to our garage.  Since I don’t have much room in there, laundry always ends up in our bedroom.  Clean clothes, dirty clothes—you name it—ends up either folded or unfolded on our bed.  By the end of the day, I usually never get around to putting all of it away, so where does it end up?  On the floor!  Yep, we are always so tired at night that the easiest thing to do is throw it on a dresser or make a pile on the floor.

This makes me CRAZY because the very next morning I feel like I have to rewash or dry everything due to unwanted wrinkles or not knowing what is really clean.  What a waste of time, energy, and laundry soap!!

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when we noticed some of our clothes smelling bad, even after being washed.  Since I didn’t have a good laundry system all of our clothes, musty towels and kitchen washcloths would sometimes end up in the same load.  What happens when you don’t do a good job sorting?  Your shirt smells like the onion you made for dinner last night :-/

I couldn’t take it any longer.  One morning, I decided I had to make a major change.  I headed down to the basement and grabbed a couple old card tables and plastic tubs.  I cleared out the corner of my office (which once consisted of a comfy chair and lamp) and I set the tables up.  Sure, I was sad to see my “reading chair” go (which never got used—but “looked” nice!) but I knew this area could be better utilized for something more practical.DSC_0577

I labeled each tub “whites/colors/smelly stuff—washcloths/other” and slid them under the table.  Within 15 minutes I had a functional laundry area and my life has been drastically changed every since!  I now have room to fold and make piles for each person in our family.  I also decided that I needed a place to hang clean clothes, so I took the hanging rod out of one of my kids’ closets and hung in above the card tables!  It only took me about 10 minutes to move from their closet to the new spot, and now it saves me tons of time from walking back and forth to bedrooms to hang clothes!DSC_0571

If I don’t get around to putting clothes away, everyone knows that their clean piles are now in my office.  My entire family has done great making sure they put their dirty laundry in the correct tub (but I even have an “other/don’t know pile” tub in case someone gets confused!) and I am proud to say that we haven’t dealt with any onion-smelly clothes since! YAY!  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!DSC_0572

One more thing I want to add…as you can see, my laundry room does not look “pretty”.  In the past I would have put off making a makeshift laundry room due to feeling like I needed custom cabinets and a reconstructed room in order to have a functional laundry space.  Because I did it this way, I was able to create a better laundry situation within 15 minutes AND it will give me time to try it out before I decide when and if I should ever upgrade to something more permanent.

Is there an area of your daily routine that makes you CrAzY (like my laundry situation)?  If so, I encourage you to think outside the box and find a way to make it less stressful.  Sure, I am sacrificing looking at dirty laundry baskets in my office, but now my master bedroom is ALWAYS clean and laundry free.  I am also saving time this way!  Just remember, even though you want your home to look like something from Pottery Barn, you have to ask yourself, “Would I rather have a magazine-looking house, or eliminate DAILY stresses by making an area more functional?””

Good “looks” don’t always mean a HaPpY HeArt!  Make a change TODAY!!

Lara

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How I am avoiding a stressful Christmas this year…

I know…it is only September…but I already have half of my Christmas shopping DONE!  The motive for starting so early?  I’m tired of stressing out during the holidays!

christmas countdown makie

SOURCE

The reason I’m starting so early has to do with money.  If I began now, I could spread the cost of gifts over the course of several months, instead of spending a large sum of cash in November and December.  Since we do a monthly budget, I didn’t want to go WAY over in December (and throw the budget out the window), all because of Christmas.  I figure if I SpReAd OuT my spending, I could easily pay $50-$150 in Christmas gifts and it wouldn’t make much of an impact each month.

The last couple of weeks I started searching for a few gifts.  To my surprise, I was able to purchase several of my items half-off, just by shopping on eBay and Amazon!  If I would have purchased those same items in a couple months from now, I’d be bidding against NuMeRouS (stressed) Christmas shoppers, which would make the bidding prices go uP Up UP!!!  I have already saved significant cash on gifts, which allowed me to start working on the items I was planning to purchase next month.  Can’t beat that!

The other obvious advantage is avoiding to shop (and panic) at the last minute.  I feel less rushed doing it this way and can also make sure I get what I really want (since items are IN STOCK in September!  ha!)

Christmas can be the last thing on your mind since we haven’t even hit Halloween, but if your past experiences left you in financial ruins and stress, it might be worth considering!

Happy Shopping!

Lara

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Love In An Elevator

For 35 years I’ve cried at the end of each and every summer.  In my teenage years my parents would drive away from Chadwick Beach, New Jersey as I cried with sand still sticking to my toes.  This year, my 36th summer was far from any scene Norman Rockwell would have wanted to capture!  My kids seemed to take up sibling arguing as their summer hobby, my parent’s beach house at the Jersey Shore sat completely gutted and unusable thanks to last October’s hurricane, my son broke his arm, and as the lyrics of It’s a Small World say it best, our trip to Disney seemed to bring out “A world of tears” in my daughter!  TaNTrUmS, ScReAmInG,  and BrEaKdOwNs were everyday occurrences for my kids (and sometimes Mommy).  On our Disney vacation, the low-point was my daughter Abby while decked out head to toe in her Belle costume screaming at the top of her 4-year-old lungs, “You’re a mean Mommy!”  Why you might ask?  All because I wouldn’t let her walk on a ledge that she wanted to use as a balance beam!  MeAn MoMmY!!!  Where was this kid when her MeAn MoMmY was packing 3 princess dresses complete with tiaras and light up shoes, a Tinker Bell costume with light up wings and shoes that jingle, and countless other Disney “necessities”?!!!

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This is just so you can get an image of the Belle ensemble!

Then the high-point.  If you’ve ever been to Disney World’s Hollywood Studios you know you can’t top the experience of ridding the Aerosmith Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  I LOVE roller coasters and this one is simply the best.  You ride in the dark and go 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds while Aerosmith’s LoVe In An EleVaToR and WaLK THiS WaY blast in your ears!  Since my kids were way too little to go on this ride and we had no one to watch the kids while my husband and I went on the ride.  I did the only thing that made sense.  I WENT ON THE RIDE ALL BY MYSELF.  I walked up the single riders line and was on the ride within 5 minutes.  As like each time I’ve gone on the Rock ‘n’ Coaster before, my heart was pounding with anticipation as the limousine coaster pulled back and took off into darkness.  Turning upside down and sideways with Aerosmith screaming in my ears was exactly what I needed to recharge and refuel.  I walked off that ride like a little kid on Christmas morning.  OK, so the ride  only lasts 1 minute and 22 seconds, but it was 1 minute and 22 seconds ALL TO MYSELF!  There was no fighting over who was going to sit next to Mommy, no crying when “World of tears Abby” was too short to go on the ride when Nicholas made the cut, it was just me and around these parts that is a ReAlLy rare thing!  I think there may have been a little skip in my step when I met my husband and kids waiting for me and when the next little crisis broke out…this Mommy was ready to take it on!tumblr_m8il1io18v1rq4chmo1_500

I realize that I can’t jump on a roller coaster every time I need to get some perspective, but this entire experience made me realize that it is the smallest and silliest things that can turn your day or summer in my case around.  If you feel like you are overwhelmed with something whether it be your kids, family, work, etc. take a break and do something that makes you happy.  Get your nails done, go shopping, grab coffee with a girlfriend.  It might be just what you need!

*Or you can click on this YouTube video I found that someone made of the Aerosmith Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  It pretty much details my entire ride except they had a different music selection…still great though!

Experience the Rock ‘n’ Coaster!

Great to be back!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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How I Got My Kids To Stop Sucking Their Thumbs

Hi friends!  I missed you all this summer, more than you’ll ever know.  I underestimated how much writing YOU is such good therapy for ME! :)

At the beginning of the summer I decided to work on accomplishing one GoAL with the kids by the end of the summer: to stop their thumb sucking!!  It has been a habit for both of our kiddos ever since birth.

We purchased some (pricey) thumb guards from tguard.com which was recommended by a friend.  This worked well with Leanne, our oldest daughter who is 6.  thumbguardGarrett, our 3 year-old, didn’t respond as well to them.  No matter what I did, he seemed to find a way to get the guards off.  I even bought the next size down, thinking they were too big, but he still found a way.  Truly, I think he got them off because he was willing to put himself through a considerable amount of pain…that’s a BOY for ya!  But my daughter didn’t really fight it, and even if she tried, she wasn’t able to get hers off.  Regardless, I would still highly recommend tguards to anyone wanting to break this habit.  I think they are one of the best options on the market.

The next thing we tried was our ChEApEst and most successful attempt so far.  I took their winter mittens and cut out all the fingers except the thumbs!  Both kids responded well to these because they were more comfortable to wear and much easier to put on.  The issue with mittens: they are SUPER easy to take off, which meant we had to UP the incentives to keep them on.  So…if they took the mittens off during the night, they didn’t get chocolate milk for breakfast and had to choke down regular milk (ha!).  Also, they got points toward a favorite toy which they finally got to cash in at the end of the summer.  The chocolate milk was a good incentive because it is the first thing they look forward to when they wake up, which we always reminded them when putting them to bed.  Sometimes they would come into the kitchen with a frown on their face and mitten-free hands, knowing regular milk would be on the menu:(

DSC_0556It took about a month for Garrett to break the habit of taking his mittens off at night.  And even though I feel they have broken their habit, they still request the mittens at night, just to make sure they don’t suck their thumbs without realizing it while sleeping.  I am so proud of them!

As I re-read this post, the process still sounds so much easier than it really was.  I don’t want to lie and make it sound like it was easy, because it wasn’t.  It was a FigHt, especially with our 3-year-old.  We exhausted all incentives and thumb guard options out there, and by the second half of the summer the mittens seemed to be what was most effective (even though it still took a good month before I felt like they really had it mastered).  It was a roller coaster of a summer, but worth all the hard work!  If your kiddos are dealing with the same struggle, I hope our experience and the mittens/tguards can be new options for you! Don’t lose hope! Hang in there momma!

Good Luck!

Lara

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Declutter Your Life

In the last month or so I have made a lot of ChaNgeS in my life.  First off, I recently had another garage sale which proved to be just as successful as the one in the fall.  I finally have a clutter free home.  I made a point to go through EVERYTHING, and if I didn’t LOVE IT, I sold it.  There were things that were hard to get rid of, mainly due to habit and feeling like I “had” to keep it around the house “just in case”.  Let me tell ya, it was worth it because everything is organized and I can keep better tabs on what we need and what we don’t. declutter-wordle1

Once I was able to declutter my home, it was only natural to want to DecLutteR other areas of my life.  Several weeks ago, Robyn wrote a post called iPhone Mommy.  It struck a chord with me.  For months I had been feeling like the internet and social media were a huge distraction and temptation.  I wish I was like those of you that are disciplined when it comes to social media, but I am not.  I kept making excuses that I HAD to check my facebook several times a day to make sure I wasn’t missing personal messages or notifications from groups I am involved in.  Robyn’s post motivated me to make some cHaNgeS once and for all.  I tied up lose ends with my personal FB messages and notified leaders to any of my groups.  I told these people that I wouldn’t be checking facebook as often and to contact me via email or phone if they needed something right away.  Everyone has been very understanding and I guess I figured if someone needed me bad enough, they could find a way.  It was really that simple!  Now, I only check facebook once every couple of weeks, which allows me to catch up on information or messages I may have missed!

To take things one step further, I changed the settings on my phone so I no longer get an email “ring” for new emails AND I deleted the facebook icon so I’m not tempted to check it.  This has made a huge difference when I am around my kids.  My phone isn’t dinging all the time and we spend more quality time together in random places.  When we use to wait in the car I would sit there and read the internet while they were in the backseat.  Now we try to play games or talk about fun stuff!  In addition, if we are playing and the phone rings, I don’t answer when I feel like the kids are really engaged in what we are doing.  Several times they’ve asked, “Mom, aren’t you going to get the phone?” and I say, “No, I want to play with you right now.”  The look and smile on their faces when I say that….PRICELESS :)

Last but not least, I am writing to say that Robynn, Robyn (Jersey Girl) and I are going to take the summer off in regards to blog posting.  We don’t want to give it up for good because we really enjoy writing and sHaRinG things with you.  But, like we talk about so often, if it doesn’t bring you PEACE then you need to make some changes.  Now that the kids are going to be home all summer we feel that not being tied to anything (a.k.a the blog) will bring us the most peace.  We know you understand, and we thank you for that.  The plan is to pick up in September once kiddos are back in the grind of school.  I didn’t even put a dent in my “Home Makeover Series” so I hope to share more of that with you, along with the normal LIFE posts that I share.

I hope that this lengthy (sorry! *wink*) post has encouraged you to declutter areas in your own life.  I cannot tell you how much jOy and fReedoM it has brought to mine.

Have a wonderful and memorable summer and we look forward to writing in the fall!

Cheers,

Lara

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