happy birthday princess!

My oh my....how time does fly! I can't believe Little Bit is turning 3 today! What a great 3 years it has been....

Happy Birthday...my sweet princess...


toy story mania!

Little Bit is a HUGE Toy Story fan! We have movies 1 & 2 and saw the 3rd one in the theater shortly after it came out. So needless to say we had to Toy Story it up while we were at Disney. Seeing Jessie was one of our top 5 must do things!

At Magic Kingdom we rode Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin about 10 times....{over 3 days}! We also got to meet Jessie & Woody and get their autographs. There was also a parade and Little Bit got to dance with Jessie!
Then at Hollywood Studios there is a fairly new ride called Toy Story Mania. If you don't get there right at opening or get a fast pass....you are not riding this ride...unless you want to wait for like 2 hours....yikes! Luckily we got a fast pass and were able to ride.

We also got to meet Buzz & Woody. Pretty much all the lines to meet characters are long....so if you want pictures and/or autographs you have to WAIT! The line to meet these guys was set up great with little scenes from the movie along the way. You could become part of the scene...
This was fun and this helped make the wait time seem less.

Here we are finally getting some face time with the boys! Little Bit was loving it....she got hugs, autographs, pictures and they blew her kisses as we left!

Menu Plan Monday

We are officially back from vacation and it's back to the normal life ;)...sorting through mail, laundry and menu planning of course!

Monday ~ chicken fajitas, chips & salsa, refried beans

Tuesday ~ birthday dinner...pizza, carrot sticks & CAKE!

Wednesday ~ orange-ginger tilapia, green beans, mashed potatoes

Thursday ~ veggie noodle soup, toasted cheese

Friday ~ leftovers....scrapbook night!

Visit Org Junkie for more recipes!

.....more Disney pics to come, I promise!!!


meeting the {mouse}...

Our vacation is sadly coming to a close...what a blast we had! To keep the vacation alive a little longer, I thought I'd share a few of our favorite pics over the next few days...
Of course you have to meet Mickey and Minnie when you visit Disney. Some friends of ours went to Disney earlier this year and their little girl is Gracie's age. They had made this outfit for her to wear and then passed it on to us. It was just darling and Little Bit matched Minnie so well! We got the ear headband at Walmart in Orlando {way cheaper than at the theme park!}
I just love Minnie's reaction to seeing Little Bit all dressed up like her! Even Mickey did a double take! We told him he better not get confused and take the wrong girl! ;)
Seeing how excited Little Bit was each time she got a {name in her book!} was just great! I believe that was her most favorite thing to do...getting characters to sign her little autograph book. When we would see someone...{princess, pluto, or whoever}...she would say, "you think they want to write in my book?" How cute is that?!



In gearing up for our trip to Disney {there now by the way :D}, I knew getting autographs from characters would be a fun thing for Little Bit. So began the thought process on how to best capture them. I didn't want anything too big, cause I thought about scrapbooking it next to a picture of her and the character.
So I had this little book from Michaels lying around (blank white pages inside!) and began the altering! It had a pen holder on the side which I cut off with an exacto knife and then covered spine with ribbon. Then I embellished the front with a Mickey head {cut using the Cricut} and some stickers.
I got this clear pouch with yellow zipper from the dollar store {also attached to another pouch!}. It came with the ring and red/yellow ribbon. I just added the black checked ribbon to bring the "Mickey" color scheme together and TADA....an autograph book and pouch were born!!!


Creative Corner...Scrap Club

Another month of scrap club has come and gone. I have had these pages done for awhile but kept forgetting to take pics. These are the layouts for August. Banners seem to be all the rage right now and I am loving them...{you might have noticed this from a few other posts!}. We used the title PLAY...and I paired that with the fun banner and state fair pictures.

I thought the colors of the 2nd layout worked great with these pics of Little Bit playing in the sprinkler!


happy birthday {little} sista...

You're not so little anymore....I can't believe you are a teenager today!!! And you are growing toooooo tall. {I guess I am destined to be the short one in the family.} Can't wait to see you and give you a great big hug...and 13 birthday pinches ;) ....just kidding! Hope you have a fantabulous day!

A - D Review

{Circle Time}
Calendar...Talk about the month and days of the week and put sticker on the day we are discussing.

Reading...This week we revisited a few of our favorites from the past 4 weeks and added a few new ones...

Please Do Feed the Bears by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Ladybug Girl at the Beach by David Soman

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin

Shape by Shape by Suse MacDonald

Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd

Animals Should Definitely not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett

Songs/Rhymes...Arky Arky, Way up High in the Apple Tree, How Much is that Doggie in the Window {These have been her favorites so far!}

Coloring...I printed a coloring page of something that started with each letter.

Spelling...We reviewed our 4 main words...ANT, BUS, CAT, DOG. They were all written on our dry erase board and we practiced sounding them out.

Numbers...We are constantly counting stuff. We are also working on counting in Spanish! Little Bit can get to 6 on her own...and 10 with a little help. We started working on uno and went over it for about 3 days and then all of a sudden she just spouted off uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco, seis....and I was like what?! {Thanks Dora for the help on this one.}

Story Sequencing...We worked on a couple of these....alligator & dog!

Dot to Dot...{Little Bit loved doing these last week....so I found some more!} This was a great exercise for getting letters in the correct order and drawing lines!

Practical Living...More dish washing!!!

Imaginative Play...LIBRARY {I saw this idea on a blog...so I put some books and DVDs in a basket. Little Bit can pick which ones she wants to check out. Then she takes her reusable tote and library card to the desk to "check out"....she beeps each one...just like at the library!}

{Snack Ideas}
apples, bananas, apricot fruit strips, alphabet pretzels & crackers


pumpkin art...

Have I said how much I love fall?!!! It is definitely my favorite season! The colors, pumpkins, cooler weather, comfy cardis, Thanksgiving...what more could you ask for?! So needless to say I have a FEW fall decor items around the house.

For Valentines Day I had made this framed heart punch art inspired by Ali Edwards butterfly one. So I took that inspiration again and made this pumpkin art! I stared with a piece of pumpkin cardstock and used some ink to distress it a bit. Next I stamped some pumpkins using an older Stampin Up! set and and some Basic Grey patterned paper. I used the curly label punch to punch out some brown backgrounds for the pumpkins. I adhered them to the cardstock base and then used dimensionals to adhere the pumpkins!
I also love to use scrabble letters to spell out words for different occasions. With this grouping I have spelled out HARVEST.

By using things I already had on hand and repurposing a vase...this whole grouping was super cheap to put together. I only bought 3 more berry springs to fill in with what I had {and I got them half off at Hobby Lobby...about 99 cents each!}.

Linking up to:


Caramel Rice Krispies

When I think of fall, I think caramel...yummo! Caramel apples, caramel corn....or how about caramel rice krispie treats!

1 14 oz bag caramels
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp water
3 cups rice krispies
1 cup nuts

Unwrap all caramels in bag and place in microwave safe dish. Add butter and water. Microwave for 3-4 minutes, stirring after each minute. Once smooth and melted, stir in rice krispies and nuts. Mix until all coated.

Press into a greased 8x11 pan. Refrigerate until chilled....cut into squares.


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ teriyaki beef steak, corn, mashed potatoes

Tuesday ~ pasta w/homemade sauce, garlic bread

Wednesday ~ chicken patties, mac & cheese, green beans

Thursday ~ pizza, salad, fruit

Friday ~ dinner out w/friends!

Visit Org Junkie for more recipes!


thrifty glass hurricane...

It's beginning to feel alot like autumn...! That puts me in the mood to get out the fall decorations. Every year I dig out the box of decorations I reevaluate what's inside. I love to shop end of season sales and see what I can add to my collection for a steal! I also love to make decor elements for our home. A couple weeks ago I saw this post about making knock off Williams Sonoma glass hurricanes and thought...those look fun! So I set our for Goodwill and was lucky enough to find both pieces I needed for the project.
Red was the half price color of the day...and the hurricane I found happened to have a red sticker...so only 35 cents for that piece and the candle stick was only 76 cents...score! I took some gorilla glue and adhered them together.

TADA....my version of this for a little over $1.00! I filled it with some pine cones I had on hand and some acorns I picked up in our backyard. {I'm excited to fill this up with lots of different things to go along with the seasons!}

Here is a full shot of my fall themed mantel. Remember my autumn banner I posted about here. I want to add some little pumpkins and gourds in a couple weeks....after we get back from vacation!


Dry Erase Menu

My friend Jennifer sent me this link to a wipe off weekly menu board. I thought, what a super idea....I should make one. I write our menu out weekly anyway....so why not save a tree! My friend Jamie also made one after seeing the above link. Check hers out here!

Being my thrifty self I didn't want to spend much on a frame....{especially since it is sitting next to the stove and will probably get something splattered on it!}. So I went on a hunt and found this one at Wal-mart on clearance for a few dollars. {I love the added touch of the wood etched FAMILY across the top and words down the side!}

Once home with the frame, I broke out my scrapbook supplies and got to work. The frame size is 5x7, so I cut everything to fit. I used vanilla cardstock, elements from Early Bird scrapbook kit by Cosmo Cricket, a simple alphabet stamp set and black stamp pad.

I keep a dry erase marker and eraser in a drawer directly below the menu frame.


Letter Dd

"D" topics...dog, dinosaur, duck

{Circle Time}
Calendar...Talk about the month and days of the week and put sticker on the day we are discussing.

Reading...I try to incorporate one book that has the days of the week, just to keep reinforcing them. This week we read...Dear Daisy, Get Well Soon by Maggie Smith.

My "d" Book by Jane Belk Moncure

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight by Jane Yolen

Shape by Shape by Suse MacDonald

Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd

Bark George by Jules Feiffer

One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root

Songs/Rhymes...The D says..., How Much is that Doggie in the Window, Six Little Ducks

{Letter Craft}
D is for Dinosaur...inspired by this blog

Coloring...Letter Dd, Daniel & Lions Den, duck, dog

Spelling...We worked on spelling DOG this week. I wrote the word and drew a picture on our dry erase board. Each day I had Little Bit spell and sound out the word.
...I also had a tray set up with some magnetic letters and cards with words {DOG, DAD, DIP}. Little Bit placed the corresponding letters over the letters on the cards. Then we would work on the sounds of each letter.

Math...I printed this dinosaur shape counting sheet for us to work on. This goes along well with the Shape by Shape book I mentioned above....it creates a dinosaur shape by shape in the story.
...I printed page 2 of this activity. We sang How Much is that Doggie in the Window and then I had Little Bit select a dog from the sheet that she wanted to "buy". Then she would have to count out the number of coins it said on the dog to pay for it.

Dot to Dot...D is for duck dot to dot. This was a great exercise for getting letters in the correct order and drawing lines!

Practical Living...I let Little Bit help me wash the dishes a couple weeks ago and now she is always asking to do it! So for D week, we washed the dishes quite a bit! I just filled up the sink with warm water and bubbles, gave her a sponge {and rag, she liked to switch back and forth} and some non-breakable dishes! I was surprised at how well she did, taking her time to scrub each dish.

Dogs...After reading Dog's Colorful Day we had an activity to go along with it. I traced the Dog on the cover of the book and punched out circles in different colors to represent the colors in the story. Little Bit loved gluing the spots all over the dog!
...we went to visit family in Southern Illinois and the DuQuoin State Fair was going on. We ended up going twice and getting a cornDOG and hotDOG while there. Gracie also got to see and pet some dogs {a Dalmatian at the Fire Dept. tent and these Salukis were out in front of the SIU tent}!

Computer time...Starfall {we worked in the ABC section with the letter D} and Fisher Price{they have some great learning games and online coloring pages}.

{Snack Ideas}
dip with some apples, doughnuts, cornDOG, hotDOG


Green Pepper Turkey Chili

Our garden has been hit and miss this year. The zucchini didn't do well at all but have had great luck with cherry tomatoes! We have also been having good luck with peppers...but I don't always know what to do with them cause I'm not a huge pepper fan. Usually chicken fajitas are my go to when I have peppers to use up but we have had those quite a bit recently. So I decided to add the peppers to chili and see how it turned out. Then today I saw this blog post about green pepper chili....so I'm not the only one doing this...hehe! Here is my version...

1 lb ground turkey
1 small onion diced
2 green pepper diced
1 clove garlic pressed or finely chopped
1 large can tomato sauce {32 oz, I think}
1 can kidney beans
1 package chili seasoning mix
1 tsp dried oregano

Brown the turkey, drain and return to cooking pot. Add rest of ingredients and heat til bubbling, then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. {I cover pot while cooking so chili doesn't pop all over the stove!}

The hubs and I really enjoyed it! Might be my new way to fix chili from now on.


I wanted to share a close up of our calendar we use in our learning corner. I used Publisher to create a blank calendar for the month. The calendar is attached to a clipboard and stands on a wire book stand.

Each day we are in the learning center, we go over the month and days of the week. I let Little Bit select a sticker to place on the day. I try to coordinate the stickers with the letter we are working on....{for B we used butterflies, D was dogs}.

After talking about the calendar we read a book that mentions the days of the week in it. We enjoyed this one... Day by Day A Week Goes By by Carol Diggory Shields.


Menu Plan Monday

Monday ~ breakfast for dinner!

Tuesday ~ turkey chili, peanut butter sandwiches

Wednesday ~ orange-ginger tilapia, green beans, mashed potatoes

Thursday ~ tacos, refried beans, chips & salsa

Friday ~ teriyaki beef steak, salad, ramen

Visit Org Junkie for more recipes!

Pampers codes...

If you are a frequent buyer of Pampers products, remember to check inside the packages for the Gifts to Grow points. There are also free points you can find online. Here is a 10 point code good through 9/12...LaborDayFB92010.

Also, check out this post at My Frugal Adventures for more codes!


Letter Cc

"C" topics...cow, cat, colors, caterpillar

{Circle Time}
Calendar...Talk about the month and days of the week and put sticker on the day we are discussing.

Reading...I try to incorporate one book that has the days of the week, just to keep reinforcing them. This week we read...Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman.

My "c" Book by Jane Belk Moncure

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Numeroff

Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin

Songs/Rhymes...The C says..., Who Took the Cookie From the Cookie Jar, C is for Cookie

{Letter Craft}
C is for Caterpillar...inspired by this blog
Coloring...Letter Cc, Very Hungry Caterpillar, cow, cat

Spelling...We worked on spelling COW this week. I wrote the word and drew a picture on our dry erase board. Each day I had Little Bit spell and sound out the word.
...I also had a tray set up with some magnetic letters and cards with words {COW, CAT, CUP, CAP}. Little Bit placed the corresponding letters over the letters on the cards. Then we would work on the sounds of each letter.

Counting coins...Roll dice and then count out that number of coins

Drawing...I printed off a sheet for Little Bit to practice drawing circles. I had her hold the crayon and I helped her draw...so she could get the feel for how to do it.
...We also wrote with chalk outside!

Cutting...I printed off straight line cutting sheets to practice cutting skills. We are working on how to hold scissors. I just love the Melissa & Doug scissors for beginning cutting!

Color matching...Similar to the banners I mentioned on B week {that I got at the Dollar Store} but these are colors. I left one banner whole and cut up another one. Then had Little Bit match the colors.
...We also did this color shade matching activity.

Cows...I drew this cow face, had Little Bit color it how she wanted, then we cut it out and glued it on a craft stick for a fun cow mask.
...Ever since we made this marshmallow pig, Little Bit has been asking to make another one. So we made a cow! We did it in a similar way as the pig, cutting marshmallows in half and using the stickiness of the marshmallow as the glue. I used a sharpie to add some black spots and let it dry overnight.

Computer time...We started working in some computer time this week. Little Bit is really getting the hang of using the mouse. The 2 main sites we use are Starfall {we worked in the ABC section with the letter C} and Fisher Price {they have some great learning games and online coloring pages}.

{Snack Ideas}
cookies, carrots, chips & salsa


Apricot Glazed Pork Chops

I love recipes that only require a few ingredients and no time to throw together! This one is just that and good tasting too....which is also important of course!

4 medium sized pork chops
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prep a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Whisk together preserves, soy sauce and garlic. Place pork chops in baking dish. Spoon about a tablespoon or so of the mixture onto each pork chop.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until done in center....{I did use fairly thin pork chops...definitely increase cooking time if using thicker chops.}