11.29.2010

Symfully Dulce Sabado - How to Make a Pinata

Symfully Sweet Saturday

I really dropped the ball last month on Sami's Symfully Sweet Saturday. No inspirational thoughts floated my way in spite of all the candy corn I ate hoping to find some. Maybe it was the sugar-induced coma setting in instead...

I was bound and determined to make it happen this month. And make it happen I did...

In a hit-two-birds-with-one-stone kind of way no less. (Or should I say: hit-two-birds-whilst-blindfolded-with-one-bat kind of way?)

I have been in search of some new family holiday traditions for my family for the past couple of years. Last Christmas I researched pinatas and brought a couple to our family get-together hoping to teach my family a few facts about the history and meaning of pinatas whilst bribing them with the candies inside to at least pretend to be interested in my little spiel.

It kind of worked. But I'm sure all was forgotten once the bat came out and the candy went flying. Oh well. At least maybe my nieces and nephews will connect sweet, delicious showers of candy with their favorite Aunt Evelyn, automatically making me the coolest aunt ever!

Intent on reinforcing the sweet connection (har har har) with my siblings' kids I brought pinatas (homemade this time!) for our Thanksgiving get together this year. And what did I stuff my pinatas with???

Thank you for the inspiration Sami!

Have you ever made a pinata? It really isn't too difficult to do and it can be a ton of fun. My kids are fairly convinced that their mom is about the coolest (and craziest) lady there ever was now that they have watched me make a couple...in the middle of our kitchen...over the course of three days.

For ONE pinata you will need:
-twine
-one balloon
-newspaper or paper torn into strips (about one inch)


-flour
-water
-whatever decorating supplies you want
-CANDY! (in this case mini Hershey candy bars! YUM!)

1. Blow up balloon and tie securely. Hang upside down with twine. Make sure to spread paper beneath your balloon to catch the paste drips.


2. Make flour/water paste by combining two parts water with one part flour. You want your paste to be runny like thick glue. Mix it well so there are no lumps. (NOTE: I used one heaping cup flour with not quite two cups warm water for each layer I put on my TWO balloons.)


3. Dip paper strips in flour paste and run through fingers so as to strip off excess paste. You want your strips to be wet but not sopping wet. Apply strip smoothly to balloon. Continue applying strips until the entire balloon is evenly covered.



4. Allow plenty of time for wet paper layer to dry. Count on as much as 12 hours. It is important to heed this step. If you try to apply another layer before the first is dry, the pinata can become very heavy and misshapen.


5. Repeat STEPS 3 and 4 applying a second and then third layer, giving adequate drying time in between.


6. Once pinata is completely dry, cut it down from the twine leaving extra twine to use to hang it later. Pop, deflate, and remove balloon.


7. Time to decorate! Since these pinatas were intended for our Thanksgiving activities, I made turkeys out of my pinatas. After my first layer of paper had dried, I rehung my pinatas horizontally so as to take advantage of the shape. Obviously you can take whatever artistic liberties you choose to.


After cutting a small hole in the top of my pinata for candy filling later, I hot glued white paper streamers all around the pinata. I poked a second hole at one end of the pinata and inserted a toilet paper roll for the turkey's neck. I attached a Styrofoam ball onto the end of the TP roll for the head. I hot glued feathers on the bum, orange pipe cleaner feet on the bottom, and a pink balloon waddle on the face along with a beak and eyes.



Sure he's a goofy looking guy, but come on... Have you ever seen a handsome turkey?

8. Once your pinata is decorated, carefully fill with the candy of your choice. I highly suggest miniature Hershey candy bars (wink, wink). This is my sister Erin taking care of the turkey "stuffing" and some of the kids "helping" by devouring any stray candies.


9. Hang the finished pinata and let the blindfolded and be-weaponed kids at it.




And do be careful not to have any America's Funniest Home Videos moments. Can you believe they still show those clips on every episode? How predictable. There's a kid. a pinata. a bat. and some dude dumb enough to stand within crotch-hitting range. Hmm...I wonder what will happen next?

11.28.2010

The Results of the Holiday and the Ornament Swap

ornament swap

It has taken me far too long to get this linky post up for the Ornament Swap. (To see it, make sure to read this post to the bottom!) My apologies, but I have been a tad busy with the holiday, family time, and getting my husband on the road for a week of training out of state. Add all that on top of the regular Mommy business and, well, we all know how busy life can be. Hopefully you all have been as busy too and we will all be on the same page.

So, how was your Thanksgiving holiday?

I'll be honest...Thanksgiving 2010 was not one of my favorites.

We opted to leave Joe and his rotten work schedule at home and forged ahead to be with my family in our home town. After two years of Arizona-residency, I was relieved to see my winter driving skills were still intact. But driving at 35-50 miles per hour for 6 hours on dark, icy roads with three antsy kids in the back and one poking and prodding my ribs from within...not fun.

My heart was re-broken every time I talked to Joe on the phone and learned he was doing one of the following at different times in our absence: working, sitting at work with nothing to do, eating TV dinners, watching halves of cheesy Netflix movies, updating his Facebook status, eating at a local restaurant all by his lonesome, mopping the floor, staring out the window. Poor guy.

I was hoping to have some amazingly stellar fun times with my family to make up for the distance from my husband, but everyone was too tired, maybe a tad grouchy to do much but sit around and talk about the same old things.

The puking four year old daughter was the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie.

Definitely not my favorite Thanksgiving.

Yes, yes. Evelyn is whining AGAIN, but for the sake of all you glass-half-full-ers out there...

Of course I am grateful.

Grateful to have a such a good, hardworking husband.

Grateful to have a family to be with on the holidays.

Grateful to have children.

And particularly grateful when those children can the bucket (most of the time) with their pukey-pukiness.

Now, I am grateful to be back safely in my own home and praying this week passes quickly and uneventfully; Joe's only been gone for a total of 2 hours, but I sure miss the guy already.

End whining.

ORNAMENTS!!!

Did you get yours? I got mine! And oh my! I love it!

See, now I have this thing for stars...And although I am fairly certain I have never mentioned this on my blog, my partner tuned in.

Isn't it pretty? I love it! And I keep meaning to ask you, Aubrey: Is it handmade? No worries if it's not; I just want to give even more shining credit where credit is already well due.

I would direct you over to her blog to see what I sent her, but I have to admit...I am a little embarrassed for you to see what I sent her. She totally out-swapped me! Shame shame on me (aka: The Swap Hostess MINUS the Mostest)!

Not only did she send me a gorgeous ornament that was perfectly tuned into me, but it was also packaged in style.

And! AND!!!!

The girl reads my blog enough to know that right now my pregnancy palate leads me into Mexican territory and included not one, but TWO jars of locally made salsa in her ornament swap package. When I saw the salsa, my cheeks were burning red with shame and pleasure all at the same time. How thoughtful! And oh how I wish I could send her much more than the lousy little handmade ornament I did send.

What I am trying to say, so un-eloquently, is: THANK YOU Aubrey!! What a wonderful swap partner you are!

So, how did the rest of you fare???

Make sure to write up a post on your ornament including a picture and link up below.

Keep in mind...Sami and I are going to be picking a few favorites from all the ornament swap participants and sending a prize your way. Make sure to link up!

And keep an eye out for all the swappy sweetness to come over the next month. Last week, Sami and I matched up the partners for the second part of our holiday swap and I am already stalking and shopping for mine. I'm looking forward to getting to know you a little better, cbusch!

P.S. Look how fun this is! All the grandkids on my side in order of age on Thanksgiving 2010.


Even Baby #10 got in on the line-up.



Don't forget to link-up!
ornament swap


11.22.2010

In a Foul (or is that Fowl?) Mood

I usually don't have anything against Mondays, but this one isn't playing very nicely.

*We woke up an hour late this morning. (Tell me why on earth this doesn't happen on a weekend?!)

*On my way out to start the van this morning, I experienced one of those movie moments where the character is walking along one second and then all you see is their feet where their head used to be. I totally went down in icy, leg-splitting glory. It was...wet. And more stretching than I've done in months.

*On top of Dee being "only" an hour late for school, I totally spaced that he was in charge of bringing snacks today. Mother of the Year? Not hardly.

*Jeigh is obsessively washing her hands, to the point of chapping. Then she cries when her hands are red and raw and rashed. Then she cries when I put lotion on her. Then she wants to wash her hands again. Then she cries. This is ridiculous.

*I QUIT. Potty training that is. I gave the 3 Day Potty Training Method my best shot, even generously giving it two extra days. Apparently, it is NOT the miracle method it claims to be. I had a moment of clarity when I was spraying down my stinky toddler and her stinky underwear in the bathtub for the fifth time that fifth day with tears flowing freely down both of our faces: This is not worth it. This is not working. This is the time I need to swallow my pride and call it quits.

3 Day Potty Training...I stick my tongue out at you. I'll give it another shot in another month or two...or six. Just as long as she is potty trained by her first date...

*My four year old daughter's feet smell worse than any pack of teenage boys. Ugh!! My nostrils and gag reflex are preparing to stage a protest.

*We found out today that Joe indeed has to work Thanksgiving weekend. This seriously fries my turkey. They had originally scheduled him to be off all weekend and we were all sorts of excited to travel out of town to spend the holiday with my family. Now, I have the choice of spending Thanksgiving with my husband for a few hours or the entire weekend without him but in the company of my family. I HATE making those kinds of choices. Stupid paychecks.

*It really irritates me that people complain about the snow. I am loving it! It's gorgeous and festive and fun for the kids to play in. Oh, and remember how it helps us to avoid drought in the summer? Besides, it has only snowed a day or two. Winter hasn't even officially begun people! And it can't be that big of a surprise; this happens every year. If it bothers you that much...move to Arizona. Then you can complain about the heat. Do I sound harsh? I suppose the grass is always greener...

Definitely a foul mood kind of day.

On the brighter side...

*It's snowing!!! I love it! Oh how I have missed it! My heart is thrilling with the chilling!

*It's almost Thanksgiving!! A mashed-potato-loving girl like me can't wait!

*Dee is reading! It is so exciting to see him sounding out the letters and making words out of them! I sure hope he has a love for literature like I did/do.

*A dear friend of mine has entrusted me with a task that is all sorts of enjoyable to do. Without saying more, I am grateful and unabashedly flattered that she felt she could entrust me with such a thing.

*I am eagerly looking forward to seeing my ornament from the Ornament Swap show up in the mail! I can't wait to see everyone elses' ornaments too! It's like Christmas...Oh wait...

*Sign-ups for Sami's part of our Holiday Swap are closing SOON! Make sure you get your merry little self signed up before it's too late. It really is a great idea for a swap! And so lovingly created and hosted by Sami. The girl is totally sweating bullets in her efforts to make sure this is a great swap for each and every participant. She is golden!

12 days swap

*I am working on a blog tutorial for making flannel baby rag quilts as I am currently making one for my own little bundle of joy. They are so cute and fun and easy! Word is Joanne Fabric and Craft Store is having a killer flannel sale this weekend. Coincidental? Nope.

AND heads up: I have so much fun making these quilts, I am planning on having a little giveaway for one homemade flannel baby rag quilt with your choice of colors at the end of the tutorial. Anyone interested???

So Monday, I can't quite decide...Are you foul or fowl?

11.21.2010

Sweet Sticky Buns of Goodness

Elle has a fever and a nasty little case of croup.
All the kids are hacking up lungs.
Joe is long gone to work until late tonight.
It snowed a couple of inches last night and continues to collect. (YIPPEE!!)

So...We are skipping church and sticking close to the hearth today.

How fortunate that I had the foresight to make up a batch of Sticky Buns last night...

I have posted a recipe called Monkey Bread before. Every time I talk about Monkey Bread people assume it is this recipe, what my family likes to call Sticky Buns. Let there be no confusion; they are two totally different culinary concoctions.

Sticky Buns (NOT to be confused with Monkey Bread)

(This ingredient list makes ONE pan of Sticky Buns, but I have never made just one pan. I always double this recipe making two pans.)

18 frozen Rhoads rolls


One 3.5 oz package butterscotch pudding NON-instant (also called Cook N’ Serve)


½ cup brown sugar, tightly packed
¼ cup margarine or butter
1 tsp cinnamon
Chopped pecans or walnuts

1. Grease a Bundt pan by spraying non-stick cooking spray all over inside of pan.

2. Spread chopped nuts evenly over bottom of pan. (If Joe had his way, this step would be banished.)

3. Place frozen rolls evenly in pan on top of chopped nuts.

4. Sprinkle pudding on frozen rolls.

5. Melt margarine in microwave.

6. Mix cinnamon and brown sugar into melted margarine until thoroughly distributed.

7. Pour margarine, sugar, and cinnamon mixture over frozen rolls in pan.


8. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit to defrost and raise overnight.


9. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake Sticky Buns for 20 minutes. Make sure buns are neither doughy nor burnt.

10. Remove from oven and cover Bundt pan with a large plate. Turn over carefully, transferring the Sticky Buns onto the plate.



Dive in, but try to be careful not to burn your mouth in your haste to eat these delicious breakfast goodies.

11.18.2010

Chartreuse* Chile Chicken Chimichangas


*(chartreuse: green)

These days I cannot seem to get enough of spicy food during pregnancy, especially spicy Mexican food. Even as I am typing these words my mouth is literally watering for some salsa and chips from a local Mexican restaurant. I would make a run over there right now, jammies and all, but I can’t show my face at that particular restaurant for another few days.

I have already been there twice this week. I don’t know how I feel about being on a first name basis with my spicy food suppliers.

Thanks to heartburn during pregnancy I can’t get too crazy with the spicy food. Eating something too spicy automatically signs me up for a night of suffering and remorse. So I play it safe. No jalapenos or habaneros for this girl, but bring on the salsa and chicken fajitas! I think I could eat both five days a week.

What about the other two days a week?

Well, no sense in getting carried away now is there?

So, what is a girl to do for those two nights she isn’t hovering around the entrance to her local Mexican restaurant?

Make green ( or chartreuse...isn't that fun word?) chili chicken chimichangas at home of course!

Shall I share my little pregnancy food cravings recipe with you? Claro que si!

Green Chile Chicken Chimichangas
(Thanks to Cathy Roberts for the recipe!)

1. Place 4 frozen chicken breasts in a pot and cover with water. Place on stove and heat to boiling. Cover with lid and turn down heat to a simmer. Cook until chicken breasts are cooked through.

2. Pour water off chicken. Trim chicken (I cannot stand finding “mystery objects” in my meat so I trim every bit of cartilage, fat, and ick that I see). Shred chicken well, leaving it in the same pot it was cooked in; no need to dirty more dishes than necessary.

3. Pour one can of green chile enchilada sauce into shredded chicken and stir. Place on low heat to warm through.

4. Heat up one can of refried beans in a non-stick skillet.

5. Heat oil in a fryer to 350 degrees F. I love my Fry Daddy, probably more than I should admit! It contains the mess and the smell of burnt oil. But if you don’t have one, you can just heat up some oil in a skillet.

6. Construct chimichangas by using large flour tortillas. Smear a thin layer of refried beans in middle. Sprinkle generously with shredded cheddar cheese. Spread chicken chile mixture on top of cheese layer.

7. Tuck and wrap tortilla tightly and securely. I usually use toothpicks to secure the tortilla flap.

8. Place chimi in hot oil and rotate often allowing it to fry up evenly. Usually about 3 minutes.


9. Place chimi on plate with paper towels to drain and cool.

10. Enjoy with sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, or guacamole! Delicioso!

Obviously this recipe can be changed to your tastes and preferences. You could make up some rice and add that. You could leave off the beans. You could use black beans instead of refried. Whatever pleases your particular palate!

Got an awesome variation? Do share! Maybe I could cut my Mexican restaurant stalking/habit back another night.

11.17.2010

Of Slippery Potty Training and Swappy People

(Picture taken in July 2009)

I have to make this a quick and dirty post for I am locked into a heated battle with my two year old and her bodily functions today and they definitely play quick and dirty.

I had planned to start hardcore potty training yesterday. I have to admit I felt some dread the night before knowing what I was in for for the extent of the following three days (we are trying the official 3 Day Potty Training Method). Thankfully Unfortunately, Dee experienced an asthma attack during the night and needed breathing treatments and Mommy's full attention.

Oh darn.

Looks like potty training is going to have to wait. What? I am NOT smiling.

Although we didn't get too intense with it like the program requires (think 24-7 constant supervision of your child and their backside for three entire days and nights), we did try some of the techniques. The first half of the day went great. Zero accidents! Maybe this is going to be easier than I thought!

Then as the evening progressed so did the potty training regression and resistance. Accident after accident after yucky accident.

Any potty training program requires the parent to be in complete control of their disgust and exasperation the whole time, speaking with nothing but love and patience. I think this could be the hardest part of potty training. It takes something super-human to clean sodden underwear with a smile.

Sadly, I am still waiting for my super-human application to be reviewed.

Dee is feeling better today and back at school and I am trying to recommit to potty training. My two year old has already tuned me and my incessant "Tell Mommy when you have to go potty, ok?"s out.

No accidents yet. But it is only 9 am.

Pray for me.

In other news, the Ornament Swap is well under way with the shopping or creating in full swing. Did everyone get my email with their swap partner's information? Have you "met" your swap partner yet ladies? Are you going to be ready to ship by THIS SATURDAY?

Check out my swap partner, Aubrey, over at Mom Has the Mondays. She is a mom doing the mom thing but with hilarious swagger! The girl is funny. Machine-gun wielding turkeys? Now that's funny. But watch out, she has a tender side too.

Speaking of swaps, part two of this swap has begun! Sami is in charge of part two and it is big and bold and beautiful. 12 days of gifts just for Mommy? Yes, please!

12 days swap


I love what she said about how sometimes the magic of Christmas gets a little lost when YOU are the one in charge of making the magic happen. I'll admit it. I could use a little extra magic this year. I can't wait to participate!

Make sure to head on over to Sami's swap post at Symmetry in Motion and sign up!

I better wrap this up... I need to focus back on teaching Elle how to pick up when the call of nature rings.

What are YOU up to on a hopefully-not-too-wet Wednesday?

11.13.2010

Come on and Get Happy!

I'm joining in with Mamarazzi and her Happy List Link-Up because sometimes I need to remind myself just WHY I should be!

Happy that is.

MyHappyListButton

Last night at dinner, Joe just started laughing at something and couldn't stop for like twenty minutes straight. (Think Mary Poppins.) He was laughing so hard he was crying and ended up with a headache by the time he could get control of himself. I never really could figure out what the heck was so funny, but it made me HAPPY just to see him laughing so hard for so long. It's been too long.

This morning I woke to the sounds of three little kiddos happily and calmly playing with each other. They were being so tender and sweet to each other. Later, Jeigh was whispering to Elle, "Tell Mom what a good sister I am, okay? And I'll give you a sticker." She didn't have to convince me. I already know what good kids I have. And I sure love them and all their cute, crazy ways! In spite of all my daily "suffering" and whining and wailing as a stay at home mom, they make me very HAPPY!

I took my girls out to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant yesterday. They make the yummiest chicken fajitas I have ever had and my pregnant palate can't get enough. I was quite HAPPY digging into my sizzling platter yesterday. And rather UN-happy once I realized they were gone and I would have to wait a reasonable time to go again. Think 24 hours is reasonable enough?

I am overflowing with HAPPY-ness that Christmas season is on its way and this year I am feeling all sorts of "in the spirit" as it is 40 degrees or less everyday! I am so HAPPY we have moved back to snow country!

It makes me HAPPY that people actually signed up for our ornament swap! I have to admit I was a little nervous that no one would and Sami and I would just end up sending one to each other, which could have been fun too, but...the more the merrier, right? Thanks to all who did sign up! It's going to great!

Having a friend like Sami makes me very HAPPY! We were chatting back and forth online tonight and I was laughing so hard that Dee wandered into my room asking what was going on. When I told him I was chatting with my friend and that I thought she was so funny, he asked, "You have friends?!" Why, thanks to blogging, yes, yes I do! Friends that make me HAPPY! And for those true-blue, real-life friends that stick with me through the thick and thin and time of it I am most grateful and HAPPY to have.

HAPPY is what I am whenever I get to feel this sweet little wee one inside. She is growing big and strong and making her presence known more and more every day. I think out of all my pregnancies she has been the most "personable" as evidenced by movements from within. We went to a parade a few weeks ago and when the marching band went by, she JUMPED! She must have been sleeping when they so rudely woke her. It was so funny! I am looking forward to meeting her soon...But she can feel free to wait as long as she wants. No need to rush things.

When payday came this week and Joe's paycheck was deposited I realized how grateful and HAPPY I am for such a hard-working and sacrificing husband who does so much for us. I am grateful for the money that deposits each week because of HIM. What a good, good husband I have. And not just for his bread-winning-ness. He makes me very HAPPY.

Looking at little Elle wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and sporting a pony tail makes me HAPPY and sad all at the same time. Aww cute! She looks so grown up and Aww dangit! She looks so grown up. {sniff, sniff}

So, I wasn't very original with my HAPPY list. I guess I get HAPPY from the same old stuff as every one else does: family and friends and love and food. Life is good! What more can I say?

What makes YOU HAPPY???

11.12.2010

I KNEW I was forgetting something!



Yikes! I knew there was something that I was forgetting to do today!

"I knew it started with an S though." ;)

SWAP!!!

I almost forgot to remind you that the sign-up window for the ornament swap closes tonight at midnight (Pacific Time for you die-hards out there). If you had an inkling of a desire to join in, NOW is the time to act! Just leave me a comment on THIS post or send me an email at hangingsilver@gmail.com with your name, physical address, and email address.

I have sent emails to all those who have volunteered to participate so far. If you haven't received a confirmation email from me yet, send me another email letting me know you REALLY did want in on this great warm-up swap that Sami and I are co-hosting. Go easy on me. Not to play the pregnancy card, but I'm fairly certain half of my brain cells currently reside in my uterus, so it is very likely I have already screwed up something.

By the way, I have been contacted by a couple of international bloggers who would like to participate. Although I think that would be super cool to swap with a foreign neighbor, this is our first swap and we are trying to keep it as simple as possible. For now, we (Sami and myself) are not accepting international swappers. Maybe someday we will open up to the idea of being swap ambassadors, but now is not that time.

Thank you again to all those who have signed up! I am getting so excited to see all swapped ornaments and to feel the bloggy love!

11.09.2010

I Kinda Miss the Days When...


If I was being honest (and please forgive me ahead of time if I am being too honest for your tastes, but...) I kinda miss the days when...

I imagined I had bucket loads of patience.

I only had to worry about feeding one mouth.

I could work out at 4:30 am in the morning or 11 pm at night because I could count on catching up on sleep later.

I didn't pay $70 to fill up my gas tank.

"Quiet" was normal.

The floor hardly ever got dirty.

I stayed up late giggling with my House of Dreams roommates.

It didn't take as much effort to focus on metaphysical material.

A first kiss was something to lose sleep over.

I sang duets with my sister all the time.

Every possibility seemed possible.

Life seemed really difficult, but it really wasn't.

My bust line only needed a gentle reminder from my wire bra.

I could watch TV without worrying about what little ears might hear or little eyes might see or little mouths might repeat.

I was full of endless energy and adventurous ambition.

I had homework, late nights, early mornings, a work schedule, a piece-of-hud car, my eyes on about three different guys, loud music, a flat tummy, no money, no time, every excuse, and a little bit of self control.

This would be the part where I would interrupt myself with a big fat "BUT" (and not the one I seem to be toting around these days)...

Can I just wallow in a little reminiscing for a bit and kinda miss those days without the optimistic repercussions?

P.S. Feeling a little swap silly? Make sure to sign up for my first swap! Think Christmas ornaments.

11.08.2010

For We Need a Little Christmas Right This Very Minute!

THIS PORTION OF THE TWO PART SWAP IS NOW CLOSED!!! HEAD ON OVER TO SYMMETRY IN MOTION TO SIGN UP FOR PART TWO!


I have been trying to post all day, but this no good, rotten, crummy day did its very best to sweep me away in all its chaos and calamity.

And do you know what I need? (besides a partnership in the local Ford Dealership since I've paid enough in car repairs now to be a co-owner.)

In the words of Lucille Ball in Mame, I need a little Christmas! Right this very minute!

Can you believe the Christmas season is upon us? Isn't it wonderful? There are Christmas carols playing on my radio station already. Walmart has a whole aisle dedicated to red, green, and white garbed goodies. I can already see the twinkle of anticipation and enchantment shining in my children's eyes. There are even a few gifts taking refuge in little secret hiding spots around my house. {rubs hands together} This is going to be good!

But, does the seasonal magic and gift-giving have to be all about the kids? No way! How about a little Christmas goodness for Mommy? And why not in the form of some bloggy bliss?

Anyone up for a swap?? Did I just write the "s" word? I DID!! And not just any little swap... A two-part holiday swap!

Sami over at Symmetry in Motion and I are working together to bring you our first swap and since you have twice the hosts, why not twice the swaps on top of twice the fun?

Part one is a bit of a swap warm-up, hosted by me here at Hanging by a Silver Lining: an ornament swap! Part two will be a little more involved and hosted by Sami over at Symmetry in Motion. I'll let her dish the details over there when the time comes, but as for part one, here's the idea:

*You can choose to participate in one or both swaps.

*When you opt in to the ornament swap, you are agreeing to swap ONE ornament with ONE person. If all works as it should, you will be receiving an ornament from the very same person you are sending an ornament to.


*Once you sign up, make sure to blog about the swap on your own blog and spread the good news. Just make sure to link back to this post so others can get the details.

*Your ornament can be handmade, store bought, made with love, hand picked with humor, simple, elegant, fragile, kid-proof, edible, inexpensive, priceless, whatever! Just have fun with it and send an ornament that represents a little bit of you!

*You have from today through this week until midnight on Friday, November 12th, 2010 to sign up for this swap. Sign up by leaving a comment on this post or sending me (Evelyn) an email at
hangingsilver@gmail.com. Make sure to include your name, address, and email address so we can give it to your swap partner.

*Sami and I will match up swap partners after November 12th and contact you by email shortly after with your swap partner's name, blog site, and address.

*You will need to prepare to have your ornament purchased or made, packaged, and ready to mail by Saturday, November 20th.

*Does it even need to be said? If you sign up, you follow through. Get it? Got it! Good!!

*Make sure to have fun! Swapping can add a whole new level of personality and richness to blogging. It is a great way to increase your blog following and to make a long-distance friend. In fact, Sami and I "met" because of a swap. We were swap partners for
Mamarazzi's Red White and Blue Swap and the rest is history! I now consider Sami to be one of my dearest friends! Now if that isn't a proving point for the goodness of swapping I don't know what is!

*Can it get any better? Oh yes, it can! Here's a little bonus swap fun! Sami and I will be giving out a few prizes for the top three "best" ornaments. It could be the most original ornament or the most thoughtful ornament or maybe the funniest ornament. And you thought swapping couldn't be any more fabulous than it already was...

If you have never participated in a swap before and thought it might be nice to, this is a great swap to get your feet wet with. We know this time of year can be hectic, so keep this as simple and stress-free as possible and above all, enjoy yourself!

Any questions??? Email me at hangingsilver@gmail.com.

Let the swapping with holiday cheer begin!

ornament swap


P.S. Make sure to visit Sami's Symmetry in Motion in the coming week for details on part two of the swap!

POST-POST: Sorry, but this swap is only open to bloggers who live in the 48 contiguous states. No international swappers at this time. We still love our international neighbors! But the shipping costs and time just don't make for very easy and reliable swapping.

11.04.2010

How to How-To

I had every good intention of putting together a smashing How-To for my dear readers today, but every piece of bad luck and whiny kids and empty printer cartridges forbade me from doing so.

Ahhh well. Better luck tomorrow.

In the meantime, I have been brain storming what else I could How-To today.

How about How to Be the Mother of the Year? Nah. I believe my ever-loving and eternally-patient vocal chords hit too many decibels today to qualify for that one. Plus, I totally missed that Jeigh had a big preschool family picture collage due today. Every other kid in her class had a poster of their family to proudly display to the class...except Jeigh. How early is too early to start therapy?

How to Train Your Dragon? Think someone beat me to it. Besides, I believe the dragons are hibernating by now or something.

How to Make a Pregnant Woman Cry? Well, that's just plain easy. I'm sure the list would include things like: Look at her funny, turn on Christmas music, tell her the already expensive minivan repairs are going to cost an additional $600, point out AGAIN how she didn't know about the preschool family picture poster project, talk about anything that involves birth, daddies, third-world countries, or tomatoes.

How to Be a Winner? Isn't it obvious? Just go visit Sami at Symmetry in Motion on Quince Quote Day. Woo hoo! (Thanks again, Sami!)


How to Sustain a Halloween Candy Sugar High? No one needs to know about that. I can't even talk about it. My headache is already too intense. Dr. Pepper anyone?

How to Potty Train Your Precious Princess with Perspiration-Free Perfection? Don't ask me. I'm too busy washing dozens of pairs of little teeny tiny underwears and patches of carpet.

How to be Embarrassed in Public? Have your five-year old son find an anatomy and physiology book while you are waiting in the lobby of your daughter's dance studio and turn bright flaming red as he proceeds to find, point, and giggle loudly at every single "peniculi" in that dang book.

How to Be Further Embarrassed in Public? Lose your two oldest children in Walmart, only to find them by the sounds of loud singing, laughing, and arguing echoing from the public restrooms.

How to Sneak Some Christmas Shopping in While Accompanied by Your Four-Year Old? Don't even try. They are far too observant and nosy by this age. My, what a difference a year makes.

How to Lose Ten Years and Fifty Pounds in a Second? It's going to sound a little shady for a woman of my age and in my condition (you know...happily married, plumply pregnant, and constantly followed by three offspring) but go to our local Taco Bell and allow the drive-through dudes to sweet-talk you silly. I blush every single time. And no it's not from the hot sauce. Maybe that could explain my cravings for nachos...

I don't think anyone needs tutorials on any of that stuff. Like I said earlier...Better luck tomorrow.

11.03.2010

How to Give Super Nanny a Run For Her Money

(So, what are you thinking about my How-To Week so far? Is it a keeper?)

When my grandmother passed away, I inherited a lovely master bedroom set. The king -sized bed frame and mattress was a timely blessing as I met my future husband only a month later and would soon be in need of a matrimonial resting place. As grateful as I was for my inherited bed set, the twenty plus year old mattress was a little funky to sleep on, especially considering it came complete with body shapes already permanently formed on each side. As much as I loved my grandma, it was weird.

A few years later, we were able to afford a new mattress. Life just doesn't get much better when you have a new comfortable mattress. Especially a king-sized comfortable mattress. It didn't take long for our kids to realize this either and ever since we've spent few nights alone in our inherited/new/king-sized/comfortable bed.

I am a bed hog and I like my space, especially if it involves getting a good night's rest. I HATE having the kids in our bed. So, I set about devising a way to stop the sleepy stowaways this summer.

We had tried many other tactics, even Super Nanny's technique of repetitively taking them back to bed. We had tried the whole school of thought to make the night time visitors take a spot on the floor by our bed. They didn't care. They would curl up on the floor and as soon as we drifted off, they would sneak into our bed. We tried gentle reminders and angry demands. Nothing worked.

One day, it dawned upon me. It was so simple, I initially figured it wouldn't work. But wonder of wonders, miracles of miracles...IT DID! Take THAT Super Nanny!

How to Stop Co-sleeping in its Sleepy Little Tracks:


I have a few dry erase boards on my fridge. I told the kids that each night they would stay in their own beds ALL night that I would give them a star. After they had each earned seven stars we would go as a family to the local swimming pool that they had already been begging to go to.

They were instantly on board...until the middle of the first night when they both came creeping in, steadfast in their bad bed habits. After a few reminders of the star system and a few return trips to their bedroom, they started to catch on.

The next morning they anxiously asked if they could have a star. I'm a stickler. No stars for that night. They realized I was serious though and they tried harder the next night. Dee successfully stayed in his bed ALL night. Jeigh...not so much, but when she saw that Dee got his first star the next morning, she resolved to try harder.

Over the course of the next two weeks, they both earned all seven stars. As promised, off to the pool we went!


I was so proud of them for showing some self-control, discipline, and responsibility for their actions. And I was pretty proud of me for figuring out such a simple solution to end our sleep struggles. No money spent. No complicated charts (which I wouldn't have known how to make anyway). No spanking or anger.

And the idea stuck for several months after. To be honest, they are slipping back into their old wee-hours wandering ways, but now I know what I can do to stop my little sleepwalkers.

Give it a try! You will be amazed at how simple manipulating controlling helping your kids to overcome bad habits can be.

11.02.2010

How to Make Your Way to a Man's Heart

And that, my friends, is most definitely through his stomach. At least in Joe's case. And I must love him a lot because he has gained a good 70 pounds since our wedding day. As for my weight gain...well, let's not stray into dangerous waters today, shall we?

Our little how-to for today is how to make one of Joe's favorite recipes: Homemade Pasta Carbonara. Simple to make. Fattening beyond belief. Delicious to the taste. Husband made blissfully happy.


Pasta Carbonara (8 servings)

5 cups (1 package) uncooked mostaccioli or penne pasta
1 package bacon, diced
1 jar (8 oz) whole mushrooms, drained
1 and 1/2 cups half and half cream
2/3 cup butter, cubed
2 tsp dried parsley flakes
2 tsp minced garlic
12-16 drops hot pepper sauce
1 tsp salt, optional
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onions, optional

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

2. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels to drain.

3. Drain most of the drippings from pan. Brown mushrooms in drippings; remove to paper towels. (Side note: I can't find jarred mushrooms in my town. I bought a little basket of raw mushrooms, washed and sliced them up, and sauteed them. I thought they worked just as well as the jarred mushrooms.)

4. Add cream, butter, parsley, garlic, pepper sauce and salt if desired to the skillet; cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted.

5. Drain pasta; add to cream mixture. Stir in the bacon, mushrooms and cheese; heat through.
6. Remove from the heat.

7. Sprinkle with green onions.


Serve with a heaping bowl of plain green lettuce and carrots so you can say it's a balanced meal with a straight face. A few kisses sprinkled through out might not hurt either.

Who needs marriage counseling with a recipe like this?

Make sure to check back tomorrow for another how-to! Maybe how to make maternity jeans look sexy when you may or may not be pregnant and just need something that fits after eating too much Pasta Carbonara?

11.01.2010

How to Stick it to Zero Patience Mommy

I am fully aware it's Tuesday evening. I checked my calender and there will be no confusion today. But I am going to fake like it's Monday morning and post the first of a week's worth of themed posts. This week at Hanging by a Silver Lining all the posts of the week will be How-Tos. Exciting, no?

Let me make one thing clear: I am under no impression that I know it all. I just thought it would be fun to share the few ideas I have with all of you. It might be difficult to fill in a week's worth, but I am feeling ambitious enough to give it my best shot.

Ready for the first one?

Remember how I mentioned that I was going to pull Fun Mommy out from the deep dark recesses of my closet and hope she had the gumption to outlast Zero Patience Mommy while the kids and I did a few Halloween activities? Well, Fun Mommy pulled through with style and very little yelling or growling. We had a grand old time painting, baking, decorating, and carving last Thursday. Cheers to Fun Mommy!

Here's the simple little craft we made:


I've been seeing these cute little popsicle pumpkins around town and figured "Hey! We could handle that. I even have a bag full of popsicle sticks. It's like it was meant to be!"

I'm sure it's pretty easy to figure out how to make these from seeing the finished product, but maybe I have a few craft-challenged readers who would like a tutorial. This one's for you guys!

I started by lining up several popsicle sticks together. Then I used my ever-trusty hot glue gun to glue two sticks on to hold the whole show together.



Flip the stick sheet over so the bottom is the side with the bracing "beams".

Dress kids in super cool garbage bag smocks to cut down on ruined clothes and let them show off their inner-Picasso's by painting the pumpkins with orange paint. My kids enjoyed this so much that they were literally singing my praises. Like that didn't make me feel pretty guilty for not tackling more paint projects in the past. Dually noted, Fun Mommy.


For the face...the examples I have seen of this project used cut out pieces of black foam. I already had a bunch of little wooden triangles from another project, so we just painted a few triangles black to make the eyes, mouth, and nose for our pumpkins. Use what ya' got!

After adequate drying time, I hot-glued the pieces on the pumpkin to make the faces. I also had some fake flower leaves that we glued on the back for the stem and leaves. We attached twine on the back too so the kids could hang their "ornaments".

This project really was so quick and easy that we were ready for more. So we did just that...more! Check out our cute little Frankenstein monsters!


P.S. I splattered black paint on my two popsicle stick creations and used mod-podge to seal the deal.


Stay tuned for tomorrow's post (that would be Tuesday in my little imaginary blog world) on How to Make Your Man Melt. Admit it...did your mind just skiff the gutter a bit? Naughty, naughty!

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