Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reading--one of my favorite things to do...

I started reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett about a year and a half ago.  I got about halfway through it and then school a few overdue fees later I decided I better just return it to the library.  I used to really only read in the summer.  Since I am a teacher, my kids and I spend a lot of time at the pool, and I can stay up much later, giving me the most time for reading.  However, once I got my Nook for Christmas of 2010, I've hardly put it down since.  I read almost nightly, and in the winter, I love to cuddle up in front of the fire when everything else is done and the kids are outside playing or otherwise entertained.  I don't know what it is about the Nook--maybe because I don't have to flip pages and can read without disturbing PaPa Baer at night, or maybe it's just fun to read on a Nook?!?!  Whatever it is, I love it, and mine is just the original version that doesn't light up.  I like how it seems as if I'm reading the pages of a book and not a computer screen, so it doesn't hurt my eyes.  I have a little booklight that clips right to it and offers just enough light for reading at night.

Some of the books that I've read on my Nook are:

The Hunger Games Trilogy:  The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay
City of Ember Series:  City of Ember, The People of Sparks, The Prophet of Yonwood, The  Diamond of Darkhold
90 Minutes in Heaven
Heaven is for Real
The Shack
Sing You Home
Water for Elephants
The Art of Racing in the Rain
One Day (also saw this movie with Anne Hathaway--good version of the book!)
The Book Thief
First There Was a River
The Journey Home 

Some of the books on the above list were Free Friday list for Barnes and Noble!--the last 4 actually.  They were all great!  And FREE!!  The others I had gift cards to cover for the most part--only a few did I actually have to buy for my Nook.  Aside from the free ones, most of the books above were about $5 - $7.  Some were about $10.  The only book that I paid $14.99 for was Sing You Home-- all Jodi Picoult books are that expensive, so I've stopped buying them!  It's a shame because they are excellent.  I found myself over the summer checking them out at the library and reading them very quickly.  I hated not having them on my Nook though!

So, back to The Help.  My mom bought the book for a good price at Sam's and lent it to me recently, I read it in no time.  I reread the first half that I read a year and a half ago, and after that point in the story, it really got good.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone!  In fact, I lent both the book and movie to my recently retired mother-in-law, and I know she will love it.  

Last weekend, my husband and I watched the movie.  It was also excellent.  It almost directly paralleled the book, however just as with all movie re-makes of books, reading the book really gives you the details and background knowledge that the movie just can't provide in 2 hours.  A movie can't completely tell you what the characters are thinking.  I also love to see how a movie depicts images of characters and settings that I have created in my mind.  Some of my mental creations were very close!  It really is absurd to see how these ladies acted back then.  Check out The Help!

I am currently reading Firefly Lane, by Kristin Hannah.  I have found myself reading this book on my iPad more than the Nook!  I like to play Words With Friends, surf Pinterest and Facebook, so I can go back and forth from those activities to the Nook app on my iPad and read!  I'm turning into a technology nut!  I can even read my book on my iPhone!--which I've never done, but how cool to be waiting in the doctor's office and be able to read to pass the time! :)
I hope I've inspired you to cuddle up with a good book this winter!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Short and Sweet...

As promised, I re-decorated my winter/snowman tree for Valentine's Day!  What do you think?
Most of the decorations are Valentine's Day beanie babies and other stuffed animals and "nick-nacks" that I've collected over the years.  I kept one of the hearts that I made off of Pinterest (from a previous blog), for the tree, and the rest are Valentines gifts.  I also bought some red beads and red balls after Christmas for next-to-nothing!
I also whipped up a few "ornaments" by simply hot gluing a pink ribbon to it.  These are X and O cookie cutters!  
Then, of course, there's always the preschool crafts that come home.  This is one that baby girl made several years ago, and I anticipate baby boy to be bringing home one or two in the coming weeks!
I thought the Valentine's Tree turned out right cute!  And the best part about it is that I don't have decorations all over the house--they are pretty much all in one place! 
Finally, I wanted to leave you with one quick tip...We hang the baby Baer's bookbags on large 3M hooks on the inside of the front hall closet on the weekends!  Out of sight, out of mind!  During the week, they hang on the back of the barstools.  I find the hooks very convenient and they hold!
Have a great week! :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pinterest Projects!

This Fall after I got my iPAD, I become introduced to Pinterest.  I can't remember who "invited" me, but I explore it from time to time.  I honestly do not spend a lot of time on it, but every few days I see what new ideas have been pinned that I might could use.  I tend to gravitate towards pins regarding recipes, kids, school, do-it-yourself/organization, crafts, photography and holiday ideas.  I thought I would devote this blog entry to things that I have done from Pinterest!

Snowflake ornament for my Winter Tree:

Same idea applied to heart ornaments or magnets for Valentine's Day:
(Family:  Act surprised if you get one of these from my kids!)

Mama and Me journal for Baby Girl Baer and I to write secret notes (She loves this!), we leave it under each other's pillow after we write a note inside:

Writing idea for 3rd graders (my daughter did this in 2nd grade too!); "If I Lived in a Snowglobe..."
It's hard to see in the picture, but they drew what it would look like in their snowglobe and they typed their paragraph about what they would do if they lived in a snowglobe.

I made this after church so that we would have something quick, hot, yummy and kid-friendly!  Ham and swiss (or cheddar for the kids) crescent roll-ups, served with chips and fruit:

Certain nights of the week I have more time to cook the more time-consuming dishes.  Tonight we had Outback's Alice Springs Chicken!--chicken, bacon, honey mustard, mushrooms and cheese!  A hit even for the kids--along with cheese potatoes (just the ones out of the box) and green beans.

If you haven't already, check out Pinterest!  Let me know if you need an invitation.  You're bound to be inspired to try something new.  Just don't let it overwhelm you!  I have set a goal to try to make/do/cook, etc. one idea that I have pinned each week.  

Have fun pinning! :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lovin' the country life

We have been in our "new" house that we built about a year and a half now.  We are in a neighborhood, but we rarely see our neighbors (besides the ones next-door) and share a cul-de-sac with only one other house.  We actually are technically the only house on our street!  We have a huge side yard and backyard and we enjoy being outside when the weather is nice to grill out, watch the kids ride bikes and play, etc.  

Here is our house in the Springtime:

We have the best neighbors, who we often grill with (our neighbor Dave is a master griller/smoker!) or sit around the fire with.  This winter, we decided to get our own firepit from Lowe's, and we used it for the first time on  Thanksgiving night.  We enjoy sitting around and grilling hotdogs and marshmallows!  

Here is the fire we had on Thanksgiving night:

Daddy Baer and Baby Baer...

Just the other night we decided to cook our dinner on the fire--hotdogs, steak skewers and marshmallows for dessert.  Mmmmm!!!

Time for dessert!

Looking good!

I'll huff and I'll puff....

What a nice family night!

Just a typical Friday night at home with the 4 Little Baers! 

Also, I wanted to add one more reason why we love living in the country...

Make that 6...


We feed our deer "deer corn" each winter that we get from Bass Pro Shops when we go see Santa in December.


We don't mind sharing our space with these beautiful animals!

Happy Winter!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Time for some Closet Organization 101

One of the features of our new house that I was most excited about was my HUGE CLOSET.   I was used to constantly getting rid of clothes and shoes (which isn't a bad thing!) so that I would have enough room in the closet that Daddy Baer and I shared.  Now, I have plenty of room for all of my sweaters, shoes and hanging clothes.  I also have my jewelry cabinet, and 2 old dressers in the closet for sweatshirts, tank tops, etc.  I actually have way more space than I need or know what to do with.  And Daddy Baer has his OWN closet!  I really should have just shared with him, but our bedroom is plenty big as well so we just went ahead and gave him his own.  I haven't really found a good way to organize the closet yet. Here are some pictures of "before" wasn't that bad to start with.

And here is the finished product:

I just used the existing boxes that I was storing my Vera Bradley purses in and gave them a cute label.

I didn't do too much to this side other than refold my sweaters and flip my shoes around.  The top shelf is just holding some random things for now (my pool bag, a foot spa that I have never used but won't get rid of, 2 empty containers that I can use for something later, and my dogs' bones!) 

Daddy Baer hung a window shelf that we had from our old house and I just placed two Henn Workshops baskets up there for now.  They are empty!
Not a whole lot of change on this side.

Check out the cute little days of the week hangers...I am one of those weird people that likes to lay out my clothes for the whole week so that my mornings are just a teensy bit smoother with 2 kids and myself to get to a babysitter, school and work on time.  Both Baby Baers have days of the week caddies in their closet that we fill each Sunday for that week that I got online a few years ago.  They are awesome!!  Since I didn't want my clothes folded to fit into one of those caddies, I wanted a hanging system for myself.  I remembered something that I made when my kids were babies--hanger dividers for their clothes for 0-3 months, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, etc.  That was a lifesaver for closet organization, especially before they were born and I was getting so many clothes for them from baby showers!  I wish I had pictures, but we don't have them anymore.  So I applied the same idea and made days of the week hangers for my closet.  I know, I'm a dork!!!! :)  But you know you want to make here is how: 

First, type of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (I guess you could include Saturday and Sunday too, but I had no need for that) using Word or any program on your computer and print.  I formatted 2 columns and got 2 days per page.
Next, cut and decorate with stickers.  I just used some of my daughter's stickers that we already had.  Notice the way I cut out the paper to form a "hook" around the hangers (see next picture).
For the first time, I used this home Scotch laminator that my dad randomly gave me several years ago.
All done!
This is how I used mine:
So organized--I love it!  And such a time-saver for me the mornings too!
I hope I have inspired you to get that closet organized!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why take ALL the decorations down?

I have always had this idea to keep up 1 Christmas tree after Christmas and decorate it for all the seasons.  However, I have either not had the space to keep it up, or either I was sick of the Christmas decorations and wanted everything "normal" again.  This year, even though we decorated for Christmas way-early like usual, I just wasn't ready for the decorations to come down.  We took them down anyway prior to New Year's, so that we could enjoy our holiday weekend.  But, I ended up keeping up the skinny tree in my dining room.  I have space in there and...why not?!?!  I finally did it.  I decorated my tree with snowmen, snowflakes and icicles, and I love it!  I love the lights on at night and how it adds some festivity (is that a word?!) to my decor.  I plan to decorate it for Valentine's Day, Baby Baer's Birthday, St. Patty's Day, Easter, etc...If I get sick of it, then fine, it comes down.  Check it out...
I was pleased with how it turned out.  While un-decorating our big Christmas tree, I set aside any "un-Christmasy" snowmen or snowflake ornaments, just in case I went ahead with this project.
Here are a few more shots:
I love this snowman ornament that my sister-in-law made.  Decorations for making your own are featured on her blog:   WendyMacDesigns
The "Abominable Snowman" might be from a Christmas movie, but the star he is holding says "Happy New Year!" (2000--I guess I've had him a while!).  I think next year I am making this tree my Rudolph tree for Christmastime.

The Baby Baers and I made these glue snowmen.  The littlest Baer made this one. I love how they turned out.  They are just made from glue!  We picked sticks out of the woods and cut them up with kitchen shears, used construction paper for the hat and nose, and I already have a huge button collection.  These snowmen didn't cost a dime to make since I already had everything.  I also made them with my 21 3rd graders at school.  We  attached magnets to the back instead of making them into ornaments.
I used a baby blanket that Nana made Baby boy Baer for a "treeskirt" and set some winter Tiggers underneath that I've had for years and don't put out anymore.
How fun!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My first blog post....ever.

I started following my brother and sister-in-law's blog several months ago, and then my other sister-in-law started one as well.  I enjoy reading their posts and looking at the pictures of their ideas, interests and endeavors.    I spend my days teaching 3rd graders and being a mom to the 2 little Baers, and I am always on the go.  It is in the evening that I enjoy winding down in front of the computer as opposed to the TV.  I have found myself over the last few weeks develop the desire to start my own blog, but wasn't sure what it would be about--photography, cooking, crafts, teaching, organization, family ideas, decorating....then I decided it would be about all of the above.  Enjoy!