Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Student Desk {Boy}

School has started again so I decided that it was time to finish up the desks that I bought for the kids last November.  I know, that was a long time ago, and they have been collecting dust in the garage, partially sanded and not done!  Well, last week I got to work.  I started with the smaller desk for the boy because I knew I could finish his a lot quicker than the girls.

I really wanted the kids to each have a nice, wooden desk in their rooms as they grow up.  I am certain the desk will be used for many art projects, coloring and homework as they get older.  Of course, there are two options for desks in the stores.  There seems to be the fancy expensive Pottery Barn desk (which of course I LOVE but am way to cheap to buy) or the basic, metal and pressed board computer desks that have no style OR storage - a must have for kids.

I knew I needed to find an old-school student desk like the wood (albeit thin) desks we had as kids.  The flea market had several to choose from and I was so excited to be able to pick up 2 desk for $30.  There is nothing special about these desks but with a bit of paint, some fun knobs and creativity, they are perfect.

The boy has dark wood furniture in his room.  With his desk I decided to use spray paint (Rust-oleum Painter's Touch Ultra Cover 2x Coverage in espresso brown with a satin finish).  It was so quick and great.  I did about 3 light coats on the desk with a couple of extra coats on the drawers and top since they get the most wear.  I followed up the paint with a few coats of polyurethane.  Again, adding a couple of extra coats to the top for added protection.

After looking at a variety of fun knobs, I decided to go with a nice shiny nickel finish as it gives a nice industrial feel to his room and plays well with the cars theme in his room.

Above the desk we hung a metal bulletin board.  I decided that push pins and kids were probably not a good idea since most everything ends up on the floor.  We picked up this board from Ikea.  The magnets are simply some plastic wheels and Sheriff Woody stars from a couple of tic-tac-toe games I picked up at the dollar store.  I simply added a magnet to the back and they are perfect.

Since these were used desks the drawers were a bit dirty.  Additionally, the thin plywood bottoms were a bit rough and could cause splinters so I decided to line the drawers.  I had these fun rolls of striped wrapping paper from the Target Dollar Spot.  I simply decoupaged them down by putting a thin layer of decoupage on the bottom of the drawer and placing the paper down, using a credit card to smooth it out and remove any bubbles.  I let this layer dry overnight and then placed a thin top coat on to further protect the paper and create a nice seal.  I love the happy stripe when you open up the drawer!

Of course this project is to be continued (a.k.a. a work in progress)...

•  Desk Chair  -  I am hoping I can find a nice wooden chair similar to the one I found for the perfect little desk downstairs.  I will continue on my thrift store visits until I find just the right chair that can be spray painted up to match!

•  Glass Top  -  While I made sure to add ample layers of protection of paint and poly, I would like to have a piece of glass cut to fit the top of the desk.  Not only will it protect the surface, it will allow the kids to put photos, pictures etc. under the glass to customize their desk.  It is like a scrapbook and desk all in one!

•  Desk Accessories  -  Kids love to feel all grown up so I am working on finding or creating some fun desk accessories like a blotter, calendar, name plate, pencil holder, etc.  With the boys room I want to go with the galvanized theme.  He already has a galvanized metal trash can (lid and all) that he got for Christmas last year from Santa.

Watch for part 2 of the Student Desk posts next week when I unveil the {Girl} desk!

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Freezer Cooking: Ground Beef

I love being able to go to the freezer at the spur of the moment and have it loaded up with a variety of dinner options.  As hard as I try, meal planning generally doesn't happen until after 4pm and the kids are complaining that they are hungry.  If I am especially lazy, we end up eating spaghetti or quesadillas because they are quick easy and great go to meals.  I love when I go to the freezer and can pull out a chicken dish or beef dish that has a bit more panache!  You know, cuz we are fancy!  hee hee!

This past week I loaded my freezer up with ground beef.  We were able to get 40 lbs of lean ground beef through a local food distributor that brings a variety of fresh form the farm items at a great price.  This is the same place we got the peaches the week before.

So here she was, 20 pounds of 93% lean ground beef...2 HUGE chubs!  Yikes!  I knew I better get to work because we were having refrigerator issues so I knew I needed to get it into the freezer.

Ground Beef:  First thing I did was cut one of the chubs in half and wrapped up 6 equal portions (just under a pound each) to have available for a recipe.  In order to avoid freezer burn, I double wrap them in plastic wrap and then place them inside a Ziploc freezer bag.  (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step.) 

Whew, 1/4 of the way done!  That was easy!

Base:  The other half of the chub I popped into a pan along with a cup of water and browned it up to create a ground beef base.  To this base I also added 2 finely chopped onions and green peppers.  That was the only seasoning I added.  This base will be great for a quick meal of tacos, sloppy joes, pizza, etc.  All I need to do is throw this already cooked meat into a pan along with some seasoning and serve.  This will save a big step on a busy evening.

After I browned up the meat, I spread it out on a large baking sheet to cool.  Once it was cool, I divided it into 1 pound portions in Ziploc bags.  I squeezed out any air and then laid them flat and placed the in the freezer.  Once the bags were frozen, I placed them in a larger gallon size freezer bag to further protect it and to keep them organized in the freezer.

Meatballs:  Next, I cut off about a third of the 2nd chub and placed it in a large bowl along with a pound of spicy pork sausage (what I had on hand).  I added a few eggs, bread crumbs, seasoning and onion.  I mixed it up and formed it into meatballs.  I laid these out on a baking sheet, popped them in the freezer until they were frozen (a couple of hours) and then put them in a Ziploc freezer bag.  Again, I laid these plat in the freezer bag so they can be stacked easier and the bags take up less space.

Hamburger Patties:  Okay, more than 2 hours in and I looked up and there sat 7+ pounds of meat that I still needed to deal with.  I was exhausted.  Yet, I forged on.  The remainder of the meat was made into quarter pound patties.  I again, laid them out on baking sheets, froze them and then placed them into large Ziploc freezer bags.

Overall, it was a great day and I am so excited to have all this great meat ready for our busy school and activities schedule.  Now I hope I can come across a great sale on chicken so I can put together some go to chicken meals too!

Friday, August 19, 2011

A {Peach} of a Day!

Today was an awesome day!  A few friends and I got together and canned peaches.  I am not a huge peach person but was very excited when we decided to try making some peach salsa and peach barbeque sauce.  Both recipes were new to me, but sounded wonderful.  Honestly, I can't wait to make chicken or pork chops to use one of our awesome sauces.  I am sure it would be great on fish too, however we are really not fish eaters at my house.

We started the morning by blanching our peaches and getting them all peeled.  This went relatively quickly since there were 4 of us.  We also prepped our ingredients for the salsa and barbeque sauce.  This was a bit more time consuming since everything needed to be finely chopped.

One HUGE lesson we learned - wear gloves when working with jalapenos.  My fingers still tingle hours later and I only cut up the last 2.  My friend will be feeling the burn for a couple of days for sure.  We spent every chance we had soaking our fingers in milk, which offered some relief but not completely.

Our first recipe was the Peach Salsa.  This recipe came from  It is very tasty!



     6 cups chopped peaches ( about 3 pounds)
     3 large fresh tomatoes
     1 1/2 cups chopped red onions
     4 medium jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
     1 large sweet red peppers, seeded and finely chopped
     1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
     1/2 cup white vinegar
     2 tablespoons liquid honey
     3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
     1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
     1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1.  Sterilize eight (8) 1/2 pint jars, then place upside down in a 325 F oven for about 15 minutes.  (We used the warming drawer which was perfect for keeping our jars warm and sterile.)
2.  Blanch peaches, cool in cold water, peel, pit and chop to measure 6 cups.  (We used a pasta pot with a strainer insert which was great for dropping the peaches in and simply pulling them out of the water.  We had 48 lbs of peaches so this was definitely a process.)
3.  Blanch tomatoes and cool with cold water, peel, remove seeds and cut into chunks.
4.  In a large stainless or enamel cooking pot, combine peaches, tomatoes, onion, Jalapeno peppers, sweet red pepper, cilantro, vinegar, honey, garlic, cumin and cayenne pepper.
5.  Bring to a boil, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. If the mixture is too sloppy or soupy, boil for a few minutes longer so that some of the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens.
6.  Adjust seasonings to taste. Add more cayenne pepper if you desire a spicier taste.

Canning Process
1.  Ladle salsa into hot jars to within 1/4 inch of top for headspace.
2.  Remove air bubbles by sliding a rubber spatula between the glass and salsa.
3.  Re-adjust the headspace to 1/4 inch.
4.  Wipe jar rim to remove any stickiness.
5.  Center lid on top of jar; apply screw band just until finger tight.
6.  Place jars in a hot bath in a canner and process for 10 minutes.
7.  Remove jars and place on a towel, then cover with another towel to cool slowly.
8.  Jars are sealed when the lids pop and are curved down, (concave).
9.  Label jars and store in a cool, dark place.

NOTE: You can substitute and use 6 cups of fresh, chopped pineapple or mango for a different flavor.  I would love to try mango as that has got to be my favorite salsa at La Salsa - well aside from the cranberry salsa which is amazing but only available at Thanksgiving and Christmas!  I will be sharing my homemade version of that in a couple of months!

We made a double batch of the salsa which yielded us 12 pints.  This is a bit more that the recipe states, however I can honestly say, the recipe was a guide as we were not completely accurate on our measurements.

Next on the agenda was the Zesty Peach BBQ Sauce. This recipe came from the Ball Fresh Preserving website.  I will admit, I wasn't sure about a barbecue sauce but it is amazing and I totally want to go out and get more peaches so that I can make more of this for a quick fruity addition to chicken or pork!  It is definitely zesty, sweet, peachy and delicious!!!

Zesty Peach BBQ Sauce

     6 cups finely chopped pitted peeled peaches (about 3 lb or 9 medium)

     1 cup finely chopped seeded red bell pepper (about 1 large)
     1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 large)
     3 Tbsp finely chopped garlic (about 14 cloves)
     1-1/4 cups honey
     3/4 cup cider vinegar
     1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
     2 tsp hot pepper flakes
     2 tsp dry mustard
     2 tsp salt
     8 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

1.   Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.  Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens to the consistency of a thin commercial barbeque sauce, about 25 minutes.
3.  Ladle hot sauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
4.  Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Here it is simmering!  We used
an immersion blender to give
it a smooth texture.
This barbecue sauce was amazing!  I can't wait to use it!  I was planning to make chicken or pork chops tonight for dinner until I did the bummer part of the day...I splashed boiling hot water on my neck and chest and boy does it burn.  Fortunately, it wasn't bad enough to have to go to see a doctor but it made me decide that it is an "order pizza" kind of night.  I have already set out pork chops for tomorrow night.  I will share pictures tomorrow along with a review from the hubby and kids.
Finally, we did actually can a few peaches as just peaches! 
For the canned peaches, we used a cold pack method with a light syrup on it.  After slicing the peaches, we filled the jars to the top.  We made a light simple syrup using 2 cups of white sugar dissolved in a quart of water and poured it over the peaches, leaving a 1/2" head at the top of the jar.  Using a spatula, we pushed down the sides of the jars to release any air pockets.  After this process, we poured a little more syrup on top to make sure the jars will filled adequately. 
We then wiped down the rims of the jars, placed our lids and began to process the peaches.  We processed the jars by covering them in a large pot of boiling water for 30 minutes for the quart jars and 20 minutes for pint jars.  Note:  If you have any jars that do not seal properly, clean them off and repeat the processing.  If they do not seal the second time, open the jar and eat them.  Mmmmm!!!

It really was a peach of a day!

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Banner Day!

I cannot deny, I have a thing for pennants and banners these days.  It started with the preparations for my daughters rainbow birthday party where I first began to sew with paper - one of my many obsessions.  Then of course, I added some fun banners in the laundry room too!  Of course, I don't want every room to have pennant banners but I think they would look great in adding to the themes and designs in the kids rooms.

For the boy's room, we are going with a bit of a transportation theme which is currently being powered by Cars 2, fire trucks and garbage trucks - 3 of the boy's biggest obsessions!  A while back I found this awesome black and white checkered felt in the remnant bin for an additional 50% off.  I picked up a few yards with no real plans other than I knew it would be great for his room and/or party decor.  Yesterday I cut a few triangles, sewed them to some black grosgrain ribbon (from the dollar store).  Tied it to his headboard and we were done!  He is so excited with his new decor!

Last week, my now 6 year old, first grade daughter declared that we need to redo her room because she is "fashionable" now!  We have never really finished her room so this was as good a time as any to give the girl a bit of glimmer, shine and sparkle.  We have always called our daughter a camo-pink kind of girl.  She loves, loves, loves all thinks pink and glittery but is a tom-boy all the same.  I decided to hit my surplus of scrapbook paper for her banner.  I found some fun animal prints in bright colors and added a few glittery pages too.  I sewed her fun triangles to some thin pink grosgrain ribbon too.  Her banner has been placed on the green wall above her bed!  I can't wait for her to come home from school and see her new "fashion" decor!

I just love how they turned out!  Banners are so fun and such a quick and easy way to add some color and design to a space with very little investment (money or time)!  I can't wait to add a few more accents to the kids rooms.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lucky or Clueless? Lessons Learned!

Lately we have been having a string of good luck!  Well, I like to call it luck but really, it just shows how clueless one can be in this consumerist world.  Recently we have had a string of appliances stop working - to the tune of what could have been over $1,000 in replacements.  Fortunately, that was not our fate.  As DIY hobbyists, we are willing to give a fix a try before hiring it out.  Of course, that is not where this story begins.

Almost a year ago, we bought our dream home, our forever house.  We purchased a foreclosure and as you know, you get what you get and you can't get upset.  While our home was in relatively good condition, there were lots of little things that resulted in a series of small repairs and cosmetic fixes.  There were items that have not worked perfectly since we took possession, but we figured we would just use them until we couldn't use them any more.


Notice the high ceilings!  Not an easy
install for this large, heavy fixture.
The previous owner took several of the light fixtures from our home so we needed to replace them.  This was not a problem as we got to select fixtures that were our taste and not the builder standard which is the same in every home in the neighborhood.  We headed over to the Habitat for Humanity store and found several awesome fixtures, two of which were new, in the box!  LUCKY! 

My husband installed them himself.  After installing (and uninstalling) the fixture in the formal dining room - 3 times - I posed the question, could it be the light switch!  Of course, it was.  We had already picked up a contractor box of light switches as many of the switches in our home were damaged (see pic).  After a quick, 2 minute install, we had light!

Notice how the switch has been popped from abuse.
It still works but looks bad.  We had LOTS of these!
Lesson Learned: 
If something doesn't work - check the switch!

Garbage Disposal

Our garbage disposal has been temperamental since we moved in. We would flip the switch and it was hit or miss as to whether it would turn on or not. You could generally flip the switch a few times and it would finally click on. Well, this week, it stopped coming on all together. We knew we would have to replace it eventually and decided to wait until it finally gave out.  So we headed to the hardware store, picked up a $200 new garbage disposal and set out to install it.

Fortunately for us, since we bought the same brand, we decided not to replace the mounting bracket. So my husband pulled out the old one, installed the new one. We flipped the switch and, yep, nothing! So hmmm, could it be the light switch? Or the outlet? Of course! Lucky for us, it was a $.95 switch - not a $200 appliance! Happy dance!

Notice the proximity to sink - Not surprising that it could need replacing!

So of course, we reinstalled our old dirty smelly garbage disposal and saved ourselves $199!  I know, who wouldn't want a nice shiny, stench-free sink and disposal - but honestly, I want the money more than that.  I can clean my sink later!

Lesson Learned: 
If something doesn't work, check the switch! 
(Seeing a pattern here!?!)

Garage Door Opener
So, a couple of weeks ago when our garage door opener finally gave in.  For several days we needed to wait in the driveway to make sure that it closed all of the way.  Then one evening, when we returned home the garage door lifted part-way up before it slammed down - the gear broke and the chain dropped.  My husband was super busy that week so we called on a friend who recently worked for an overhead door company to help us out. 

We went out and bought a new, $200 garage door opener and our friend was going to install it.  He came over, took one look at it and said, return the garage door opener! I can fix it.  (Love him!!!) He went out, picked up a $35 replacement part and within 15 minutes had it fixed - and I might add, it hasn't ran that smooth since we bought the house.
Returned tot he store - saved us $165!!!  Yeah Us!!!

Unfortunately, I came home from dropping the kids off last week and the garage door was half open - it had not closed completely again.  Turns out, this issue is completely unrelated to the fix needed above.  Garage door openers have an eye sensor near the base of the door that when triggered, does not allow the door to close which is important if you have kids, pets, etc.  Well, if the sunlight hits it just right, it too can cause the sensor to be triggered.  Our home faces south and evidently, the sun this time of year here in Arizona is at the perfect angle to trigger the door to stop.  Simple solution, I taped a piece of paper around the sensor to shield the sun.  So far, so good!

Lesson Learned: 
If something doesn't work, check the switch
call a friend who knows what they are doing! 

Washing Machine

New Washer - Awesome Capacity!

As mentioned in my laundry room update post, my washing machine recently stopped working.  I will admit, we did not call a repairman.  Instead we went on impulse and purchased a new washer.  There were several reasons for this.  The biggest being that our old washer had a VERY small capacity.  The washer was purchased pre-children when most of our clothes was sent to the dry cleaners.  Now with growing kids, our laundry has grown 10 fold. 

Lesson Learned: 
When something doesn't work, go with your heart and
replace it with what you really want and need!


So, are we lucky or Clueless?  Probably a bit of both, but I am going with lucky as we saved lots of money and only lost a little time as we fumbled through our own DIY adventures!

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Crayon Art

A couple of weeks ago over at Naptime = Craft Time, Tracy shared the most amazing tutorial for melty crayon canvas art.  I just knew I had to make one.  I already had the canvas and had just picked up a bunch of boxes of crayons during the awesome back to school sales (I will be going back to get more today as I have plans!).   Her tutorial was so straight forward but here is the basic idea.

Hot glue, melt and admire!

Like Tracy, I tried to have the word Crayola show as it looks more "intentional" that way.  As I learned from our homemade crayons in your car project - Crayola is the best, don't skimp on your crayons as their colors are the most vivid and they melt the best.  The others can separate and get oily which will distract from the effect you are trying to acheive.

Hot Glue Crayons to Canvas

Use Blow Dryer to Melt Crayons

Admire your masterpiece!
My "drips" kind of splattered because there was a light breeze and my blow dryer has  guard on it but I actually kind of like the effect.  Here are a couple of close-ups!

I will be making more of these for teacher gifts for the first day of school!  Love them!!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

{Dads Ties} Rosettes

Awhile back, my Mom gave me a few of my Dad's ties with the mission to make something out of them as a keepsake for me and my sisters.  My father passed away a little over a year ago and while we have lots of memories of him and keepsakes of his woodworking, this would give us a different kind of reminder - his kind and gentle side.  Oh, how I miss him!

I have seen many posts of necklaces, pins, headbands, etc. using old ties and rosettes.  This isn't really my or my sisters style, however I loved the rosettes so I decided to proceed.  The rich floral tones of the ties were perfect.  I have a bigger plan for the rosettes but really wanted to share this first stage of the transformation. 

Using some of the many different tutorials out there for fabric rosettes, I gathered my scissors, some felt, my glue gun, a needle thread and some beautiful metal buttons.  I cut my strips and started twisting, turning and gluing the fabric to the felt to form my rosette.  Then I simply sewed the button to the center.

I need to make some more as I have decided to make some for my Mom as well.  Watch for the part two of the project to come!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Boredom Busters {travel edition}

Tomorrow we are heading to California for a last hurrah before school starts next week.  We are excited to head to the beach and then spend a couple of days at Disneyland!  The bonus this trip we get to see a bunch of family - even some cousins from New York!  Yeah!

This trip means 8 hours in the car - BOTH WAYS!  As many of you know, traveling with young kids can be challenging at times.  I must say, however, that our kids have always been pretty good travelers, whether it be car or airplane.  That being said, ever since we mentioned this trip, my 4 year old has been lamenting about the long trip (this will be our second California trip this summer).

A while back I came across this awesome post from Kara's Creative Place with some great ideas for activities to keep the kids busy on a long trip.  I loved her use of envelopes and giving them out throughout the trip.  I took this idea and ran with it!  Here are some of the activities that I will use to keep my kids happy on our trip - note, some will be saved for the return trip and some will be used going both ways!

I-SPY BAGS - I scoured the house the other day and come up with a bunch of small trinkets to put inside our very own I-Spy bags.  I laid all the trinkets out on a white piece of paper and took a photo before I put them in so the kids know what to look for!  One lesson I learned when making these - only fill the bag about 1/2 full with the filler as it spilled out ALL OVER when I tried to sew the final edge closed. 

CRAFTS - I picked up a couple of simple craft kits for the kids to do in the car.  These are readily available at the craft stores and can even be found at Target and Walmart.  For the bracelets, I bought a bag of foam slap bracelets and simply grabbed some stickers that the kids can use to decorate them with.  We'll do one on the way there and one on our return trip.

Travel Bingo - Growing up I remember playing travel bingo.  MomsMinivan has some great free printables for this activity.  The only trouble for us is that the trip from Arizona to California is somewhat desolate and the types of things we see (cactus, mountains, etc.) are very different than the trees, farms, animals and tractors that you see in other parts of the country.  So, I whipped together my own bingo board - specific to our route.  I simply used clip art to fill in the squares with things I knew we would see along the way.

I-Spy Bingo - Using the same idea as the travel bingo, I made an I-Spy Bingo card for each of the kids.  This card has the kids looking for items that are a certain color or shape or starts with a  certain letter.  We play I-Spy in the car a lot (even in town) so this will be a fun twist to the game.

Paint with Water - This one may be a bit messy and we may decide to pass on this one until we get there but I loved these fun pages with the paint boxes at the bottom.  We will use a small cup of water and Q-Tips to "paint" the picture.  Make sure to have plenty of wipes available and a tray to contain the mess.

Coloring/Writing - My kids love to write stories and draw pictures so I simply picked up a couple of note books during the back to school sales.  I love how the kids use their imaginations, however you could use coloring books for this portion of the trip too!  I also picked up these fun polka-dot trays at the dollar store.  The notebook fits in there perfectly so the trays will work great for lap desks.  The wonderful part of the tray is that it has a lip all the way around so it helps to corral the crayons, pencils, etc. so they do not fall on the floor!

New Toys - Every trip we go on, I get the kids a knew small toy.  I have saved happy meal toys or bought a small trinket or stuffy.  They love getting something that they haven't played with before.  For this trip, I found a couple of cars from Cars 2.  I know, I have a boy and a girl, but my girl is currently obsessed with Finn McMissile and playing secret agent so I figured it was a great toy.

Movies/DVDS - I love our portable DVD player as we can use it both in the car and on our plane trips.  I have the kids select 10 of their favorite movies and we put them in one of those small CD cases so we don't have to bring the whole case which are clumsy and take up a fair amount of space.  We also bought a holder that spans between the two head rests and holds the DVD player.  It is great and allows both kids to see the screen.

Books / Story Time - My kids love books and reading so of course, there would be books as part of the trip.  I usually try to find a new book for each of them when we travel, although sometimes I just have them select from their overflowing book shelves.  This trip I have 2 book activities.  The first will be quiet reading time where they will get a new Disney book.  The second activity will be story time.  We eat entirely too much at Chick-Fil-A, but, that being said, they give out books in their kids meals and I love that about them.  Recently we received several copies of Pinocchio (and we didn't turn them in for ice cream - another great thing about the Chick).  I plan to read the story to the kids and have the kids follow along in their own copy of the book.  Should be fun as they both usually want to hold the book!

School Time - I love the many workbooks and fun activity books that are available at the dollar store and sections of so many stores these days - and so do my kids.  So, since school starts next week, these are a perfect tool to get the kids in the learning mode.  I know the word-find isn't completely educational but my daughter loves them and it really has helped her spelling and vocabulary.

Wiki-Sticks - Those fun, waxy, bendable sticks can entertain for quite a while.  The kids love to make jewelry and glasses out of them.  I found these for $1 at Michael's!  Love it.

Okay, I know that sounds like a ton of activities but we are talking 16 hours in the car!  And Momma needs to do some blog planning as I am tired of posting as I go - I need a plan!

A couple final travel necessities:

Snacks - One cannot survive a trip without adequate treats and snacks.  I have packed a bunch of travel friendly snacks as well as a cooler filled with fruit, Go-Gurt, cheese sticks, water, juice and soda.

Supplies - As a Mom, I never go on a trip without a few essentials.  For me, that includes:

• Ziploc bags for everything from snacks to crayons to wet or stinky clothes (although I really hope we are getting past this last one now that we are 4.5 and 6). 
• Wet Wipes for those sticky situations or to clean up spills.
• Hand Sanitizer for use before snacks and after bathroom stops.
• Flushable Wet Wipes are great when traveling and using public restrooms.
• Portable Potty (not pictured) - we purchased this great Folding Portable Potty years ago and keep it in the trunk.  It is awesome for those emergency stops between rest areas.  It uses Ziplocs so there is no mess.  This has come in handy on more than one occasion on nearly every car trip!

Well, I hope you get a few ideas for your next trip and happy traveling! 

California, here we come!!! 
We will say hi to Walt and Mickey for you!

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