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Oh, Sweet Honey Iced Tea
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Oh, Sweet Honey Iced Tea

Donnerstag, 31. Oktober 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

We're out spooking up some scary fun. Haunted houses, trick-or-treating, and visiting with friends. I'll leave you with this montage of Halloweens past:

The Hubs as a ...vampire?

My cousins, sisters, and I always went around together on Halloween. That's me in the back row, far right, looking ever so frightening as a smiling, greaser vampire. Don't be jealous. 

Believe it or not, the first year of our marriage was the very first time my husband had ever carved a jack-o-lantern! Check out those smexy legs!
Bay was in kindergarten this Halloween, dressed up as a princess. 

All ready for trick or treat. Cowgirl Bay and mousey Tuna. 

Hubs's unit had a Halloween party this year. Bay was a devil with angel wings and Tuna was a soldier. 

Tuna has a flair for the dramatic. This pose was her choice for her annual costume photo. 

Hubs and I make a cute old couple, don't we?

a cute witch -- Tuna didn't want to be like everyone else, so we bought some stuff at Claire's and put together a unique outfit. 

Not so cute. Again, the dramatic flair! Tuna was a zombie last Halloween, our first in Germany. For the record, Germans don't traditionally celebrate Halloween, but the kids are catching on. They come around for candy, saying "sweets or sours" (in German), with any container they have: backpacks, pillow cases, purses, hats, whatver. They're almost never costumed. It's all about the candy for them. hehehe

 This year, Bay is dressing as Lizzie Borden, complete with axe prop, and going trick or treating (probably for the last time, at age 14) with friends before going to a teen lock-in. Tuna's going as a vampiress, following in her parents' footsteps. I think she'll look better than we did, though. Hubs and I are not dressing up this year. I have a few ideas for next year, though.

What are your kids dressing up as? What about you?

Mittwoch, 30. Oktober 2013

Minecraft Birthday Party

Tuna is heavily into Minecraft right now. She plays on a few different servers, she's admin on a couple, and wants to start her own server and her own YouTube channel for tutorials and let's plays. So when we were choosing a birthday theme, Minecraft was an obvious choice. 

One problem: You don't just go to Party City and buy Minecraft stuff. It almost doesn't exist. No, if you want a Minecraft Party, you've got to be prepared to put some work in with scissors and glue. The benefit of that is cost savings, of course. 

Until you factor in ink cartridge cost. Don't factor that in. Just don't. 

We decorated with about a million of these papercrafts. It took forever to cut and tape them all together but the effect was worth the effort. We scattered them on all the party surfaces for decoration and for play. 

Our badass cake. For a table cover, I used green wrapping paper. I couldn't find anything in the right color for tablecloths. The wrapping paper worked great. I sprinkled decorator sea glass all over the tables instead of confetti. You know, Minecraft. Mining. "Gems." It worked. 

I bought these labels in PDF format on Etsy. Water was the only beverage served. We were sticking to Minecraft, serving only what's available in the game. 

We pixelated the windows and doors with masking tape. No residue is left behind if you peel it off within a day or two. Leave it for a couple weeks, as in the case of one of my never-used windows, and you're going to have to scrub it off. 

My Ghast pinata was my favorte party item. This thing took forever because I don't follow directions. I used party streamers, which I had to fringe little by little, to cover a printed box (so I had to go over it, like, ten times to cover the words). Worth every minute.

..because, I mean, check this thing out! How cool is that? Yes, it pained me to see if getting bashed. But it actually survived enough for Tuna to save it for her bedroom. 

 Guest "thank you" bags were simple brown lunch sacks (I wanted colored ones, but living in Bavaria right now, the pickins are slim) with Steve heads glued on. I put a glow stick ("torch") and cookies inside. Again, sticking with what's available in the game. 

This is a free printable banner. Free is my favorite. 

We served only food available in Minecraft. Our menu:

Cooked chicken (we grilled BBQ chicken)
Baked potato (scrubbed about a million and half of these) with all the fixings
Raw fish (Swedish fish)
Gold Ingot (Reese's peanut butter cups in the small gold wrappers)
Sticks (pretzels)
TnT (Twizzlers)

 Did I mention that Tuna has a flair for the dramatic? Here she is with our front door decoration. I threw this together with electrical tape and green poster board as a way to point out where the party was, in case the pixelated windows didn't do the trick. 

A couple of our food labels. Hubs made these from scratch in Power Point. 

The kids bobbed for apples (I had to demonstrate this to them, and let me tell you: it was fun as a kid, but as an adult, this really grosses me out), played Minecraft on three computers, and we played Minecraft parodies on You Tube. 

The party was a lot of work. The kids had a lot of fun. And at the end, I was exhausted. But I'd do it again anytime. It was worth it. 

Check out my Minecraft Party board on Pinterest for more inspiration for your own Minecraft party. 

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday, Down Home Blog Hop, Showing Some Love Hump Day Blog Hop

Dienstag, 29. Oktober 2013

Halloween Week

Halloween week is here at last. Usually, I make a big deal out of this holiday. It's one of my favorites. Lately, though, I haven't felt like decorating much at all. I did make these awesome cupcakes today, though:

They were super easy to make, and a hit with all the neighborhood kids. My windows swing open, old farmhouse style, and I had a line of kids at my window waiting for me to hand over cupcakes. They all ran home and scared their mothers by licking "bloody glass" shards.

Here's what you do:

Make your favorite cupcake recipe and let them cool.
Prepare your favorite frosting. Or, you know, buy the canned stuff and cake mix and make that. Semi-homemade is cool. No judging here.

To make the glass shards:

Set aside a large baking sheet that has raised sides. Covering it with parchment might make this easier later. I didn't use parchment.

Mix 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring this to a boil without stirring it. Once it's boiling, stir it constantly until a candy thermometer reaches 302F.

Immediately pour this mixture onto the baking sheet, tilting it back and forth to spread your candy into a thin layer. Now, let it harden. It only takes minutes to harden, especially if you stick it in the fridge.

Frost the cupcakes and stick shards of "glass" in haphazardly, then drizzle and dot with red food gel "blood".

For a more realistic blood look, you can combine chocolate syrup and red food dye until it looks like blood. I was going for easy, though. The kids loved them.

Here are a few more great ideas for Halloween week:

Credit: Artsy Fartsy Mama

Credit: A Pumpkin & a Princess
Credit: The Diary of Dave's Wife
Credit: Rook No. 17

And here are the Halloween cupcakes I made last year. I bought the stabby knives at Michael's:

What are you crafting for Halloween? Check out my Halloween board on Pinterest for more ideas.

This post is linked to  Tutorial Tuesday, Show Me What Ya Got, Consider Me Inspired

Sonntag, 27. Oktober 2013

What's Cookin' at My House

In nine months, my family is moving back to the USA from Germany. 

I'm so sad that we have to leave Europe. I love it here. 

What's not to love? The food, for starters. Take a look at a few of the reasons I love Germany:

Do you see why I need to watch what I eat so I can lose some weight before I move? This and so much more is everywhere! So I announced to my family that we're going back to eating clean and ditching the gluten. 

My oldest (a high schooler) doubts me. She said, "yeah, right. I've given up on this family eating clean. We've tried so many times."


But she's right! We do. We start out strong and finish weak. Usually, our healthy eating ends with a quick run through the McDonald's drive thru line. 

Something about her doubt fuels my fire. I'm determined not to give in, and not to give myself a reason to. I'm determined to find easier, tastier, clean eats for my family and me. 

Here goes week one. 


Grab & Go Egg White Bites
Egg & Avocado Toast
Oats with berries and honey
Greek yogurt with fresh fruit
Cereal (Gluten-free) with almond milk and berries


Tuna (homeschooled, fifth grade) & I eat lunch at home. Bay (public schooled, ninth grade) & Hubs take lunch boxes to school & work. Listed are just weekend lunches and lunch items I make to last the week for Tuna & me. 

Tuscan Chicken Soup
Spaghetti Squash with turkey meatballs and tomato sauce
Burrito Bowls (rice with various burrito fillings, make your own)
Garden Vegetable Soup with crusty gluten-free bread (From Paleo Slow Cooker book)
Loaded Rice Cakes: Rice cakes topped with nut butter and any of the following: chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, coconut, fresh fruit


Monday:Turkey with Blueberry Pan Sauce, rice, and steamed broccoli

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Mexican Quinoa & Black Beans (tried & true)

Wednesday: out to eat

Thursday: Buy a chicken from the rotissirie chicken truck, salad, and crusty bread

Friday: Hearty Beef & Cabbage Soup & Crusty Bread (Paleo Slow Cooker)

Saturday: Shredded Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Sunday: Coconut Curry Chili

This post is linked to Manic MondayMenu Plan Monday, Manic Monday, Mingle Monday, Moms Monday Mingle

Looking Ahead

Found in Savannah, GA

Hoo boy, do I ever have a busy week month ahead of me! In addition to homeschooling and keeping the house somewhat acceptably clean, I've got a homeschool geology class over an hour away (this week and next are the last two classes), a PE class and a critical thinking class that are nearby and ongoing, and...AND...I've decided to take part in NaNoWriMo 2013. I must have lost my freaking mind. 

NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writers Month, an annual novel writing contest in November. You bleed words onto paper for thirty days in an effort to pump out a novel on a deadline. 

See? Mind. Lost. 

Being a writer -- a real writer of books -- is something I have dreamed of doing since my second grade short story writing contest. I remember what I wrote: A Day in the Life of an Ant. My mother still has it in her cedar chest. It was actually really good, but it didn't win the contest. Later in my childhood, a movie came out. You may have heard of it.  A Bug's Life. It was my story, told in film. I still can't get over the fact that a story I wrote in second grade became a film. No, they didn't use my manuscript. hehehehe Still. You know. I wrote that. 

In my other free moments (yeah, right), I need to prepare meals and finish projects. I've got this coffee table that I've been meaning to finish for months now. 

I employ child labor in my craft projects. 

When I'm done, it'll look something like this (I hope): 

Image from Centsational Girl. Click image to visit her. 
Tomorrow I'll share my busy week meal plan. It's heavily reliant on slow cookers and quick meals. I need hands-off cooking, but I also need healthy meals. 

Thanksgiving is coming! I've got to pull some of my ideas together and make a plan for that. I need to beef up my Pinterest board for Thanksgiving ideas so that I have things to fall back on. 

Oh, and my oldest daughter turns fifteen in November, too, just a week before Thanksgiving. So there's a party to plan. 

Then there's the matter of exercise. It has to happen. If only there was a way to exercise while sitting stock-still, slaving over a novel. Sigh. I think I'll stick with walking and yoga and my kettle bells. 

This post is linked to Sunday Social Blog Hop, Blog Hop Blitz, Sunday Funday

Samstag, 26. Oktober 2013

Watch Me Shrink

This is not fun to write. 

Over the years, my weight has gone up. Way, way up. I diet. I exercise. But I have trouble sticking with it, and I almost always get to the point where I think, "why bother?" And then I give up. 

me (right) in high school 

young me with my husband and firstborn daughter

with my youngest child, five years after the photo above it

a year after the photo above this one

weight really going up now. This was three years ago. 

At this point, I officially hate having my photo taken. 

I especially hate my arms. 

I look at these photos, and I see the masked unhappiness on my face. 

Savannah vacation. I spent hours obsessing over "covering" outfits for the vacation. Cover my skin. My eyes. My feelings. 

I hate the camera. This was last year. 

another last year photo. I didn't want to attend this event because of my weight, fearing being the fattest girl in the room. 

I waited on the bench because I didn't feel up to climbing stairs in the heat. My weight keeps me from having fun. 

Things have happened to my mind since I've gained all this weight:

I make excuses to avoid social events. Headaches, don't feel good, whatever. I make excuses. 

Upon entering a room, I immediately scan it to see if I'm the fattest person in the room. If I find someone my size, I make eye contact and smile. I understand, I think to myself, willing them to hear me. 

I wear ugly clothes. Baggy. Ill-fitting. Uncomfortable clothes. The better to hide in. 

I hate eating in public. I feel all the eyes on me, judging me. Even if it's not actually happening. This is especially true at fast food places. 

I feel anxiety at the doctor's office. My numbers are all good. But my blood pressure goes up a lot in triage because they take it before they weigh me. 

I do not enjoy sex. 

The scale has, at times, meant too much for me. It could make or ruin a day in the blink of an eye. 

I joined Weight Watchers. I chose the earliest meeting possible. And I would weigh myself in several outfits to see which one made me weigh "less" before the meeting. Even if it was snowing, I'd wear light clothing. And I wouldn't eat or drink a thing before weigh-in at the meeting. Obsessed. 

Every time I give up, I gain even more weight. I was 135 when I met my husband. I'm more than a hundred pounds heavier now. 

Something has to change. 

Physical things happen to me, too:

My ankle hurts all the time. 

My feet hurt halfway through the day. 

I sweat easily. 

My bladder has weakened with the extra weight on it. 

I get heat rashes. 

And chafing. 

I retain water. 

Something has to change. 

I've considered hcg, bariatric surgery. I've joined clubs. I've tried every diet I know. 

Nothing works. 

I don't know how to lose weight properly anymore. But I have to keep trying. So, I'm reading stuff. I'm making "clean" meals. And I'm implementing small strategies. I want to kick obesity's ass. And I'm inviting you to watch my progress. Because I need all the help, all the cheerleaders, I can get. 

I'll post an update every Saturday.