Monday, June 30, 2008

Anyone for a Workout?

I used to go to the gym for my workouts, but once I had kids that was no longer practical or convenient for me, not to mention in the budget. I had used workout videos before with success, so it is a good choice for me now. I recently discovered The Biggest Loser Cardio Max and Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred DVDs and I LOVE them. They are both very challenging workouts and, best of all, timesaving.

The Biggest Loser DVD is customizable with a 5-minute warm-up section, a 20-minute level 1 workout, a 10-minute level 2 workout, a 10-minute level 3 workout, and a 5-minute cool down. You can choose to do whichever combination you want with each workout and you can even block out the trainer's voice (great for when they start to get on your nerves). There are no perfect bodies in this workout, well, except for the trainers, so that is another plus. You don't have to endure the camera man panning over and zooming in on Malibu Barbie's parts. I love the cool-down part of this workout too. Bob leads you through some really great yoga stretches. Now I've never done any type of yoga before, but this little five-minute sample has really got me interested. Does anyone out there have any recommendations for a good yoga workout on DVD? I would love to hear from people about this.

The Shred workout is a winner because it is intense and it's only 25 minutes (including warm-up/cool-down). I find it pretty hard to make an excuse to not do this one. I mean, how can I not fit a 25 minute work out into my day. Both workouts are intense and efficient in that they make you work more than one muscle group at a time for more efficient calorie burning. Now I'm not exactly a poster-child for these workouts because I am, how shall I say it, rotund. However, I am fit, I'm just one of those fat fit people.

If you're interested in trying either of these workouts, click on the images below:

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Too Hot to Cook? Make Pizza on the GRILL.

I'm sharing with you my all-time favorite summertime recipe--pizza on the grill. I orginally found this recipe in Bon Appetit magazine many years ago and it has become one of our summertime favorites. With all the ingredients we use, it can take quite a bit of time to prepare, so my suggestion is to get together with a group of people and divide the work up. In fact, every time I make this recipe, we invite friends over to share it with us. It's that good. So fire up the grill and give it a try, you won't regret it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Organizing on the Move

I found this this little Amy Butler Scrapbooking Tool Caddy (under the K&Company line) at Michael's and I loved it so much that I went back for this one.

Aren't they adorable? They have pockets sewn all the way around them too. I'm not using this for scrapbooking though, because I rarely scrapbook on the go. Instead, I've found that it makes the perfect car caddy. My minivan doesn't have a center console so I'm constantly trying to corral things and keep them from rolling around on the floor. This little caddy is the perfect solution. I can keep it on the floor, and it won't move, or on the lame little wanna be console shelf between my front seats. Since the girls and I will be driving to California, these little caddies are going to help to keep us organized, and them entertained, along the way. Here's what I've done with the caddies.

Here's the caddy between the girls' two seats in the center row. I have it sitting atop our emergency road kit so it's at a better height for access. In theirs they have kleenex, baby wipes, multiple pairs of sunglasses, markers, books, their V-Smile Pocket game with a few cartridges and their Magnadoodles. Before our trip I'll probably add some new markers and a couple coloring books as well.

This is my caddy. I have lots of pens, my cell phone, GPS, sunblock, kleenex, baby wipes, my wallet, a book, and I have room for lots more. I'm sure I'm going to need it on our trip. I looked for these on the Michael's website so I could give you a link, but they don't seem to have them online. I did find them on e-Bay, but selling for $19.99 which is the retail price. If you have a Michael's store, you can get it for less than that with one of their 40% or 50% off coupons. I'm guessing the e-Bay sellers bought theirs that way and are making their profit by marking them up to retail (or more if there is a bidding war).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Playroom Storage Solutions

Each month at my favorite organizing site, Laura puts out a challenge to organize a specific room in your house. I've always been a lurker and never taken part in her challenges because I didn't have a blog of my own to post my pics or link to in the challenge. Well, I don't have that excuse anymore so I'm planning on getting my house clutter-free and organized with her monthly challenges. So this month her challenge is the playroom and I've got pictures to share.

We keep the bulk of our kids' toys in the basement where we have a great room the length of our house and half its width, which encompasses our family room and my crop area/office space. It's convenient for us to have this arrangement as I am usually downstairs working and the kids are right there playing in the room. This first picture shows two bookcases which contain the girls' toys on the first three lower shelves, and DVDs on the top two. I chose these bookcases because I wanted to have some furniture that we wouldn't grow out of as the girls get older. Thing 1 and Thing 2 helped me decide what to put in each bin and how to label them. I really like these canvas bins because you can take the frames out and wash the canvas if they get dirty. I use them in practically every room in my house.

This shelf is actually on the cropping end of the space, which I planned for two reasons 1) I needed the top surface to put my open stock paper on so that it was at a good height for people to access and 2) I wanted to be able to monitor the kids using the markers, glue and scissors, especially when we have younger friends visiting. The black leather bin in the bottom holds coloring books with overflow standing upright next to the bin. A few games are next to that. On the top shelf, I have plastic bins with drawers that I found at Wal Mart. There is a drawer for pencils, erasers and sharpeners, one for markers and pens, one for paper, etc. When the girls want to use the markers, they just pull the whole drawer out and take it with them. These drawer units come in multiple sizes and I use them throughout the house, expecially in my closets. I buy a few at a time so it's not financially overwhelming. It takes time to organize, so why buy everything you think you need at once when you're not going to get it all organized at once?

I agree with Laura, that we should have different play "zones" for different types of activities in order to set boundaries for those activities. This bookcase is a perfect example, it is upstairs in our living room. It's the perfect room for reading because there is no t.v. The girls' books are on the bottom four shelves and my husband's and my books are on the top two.

This table is downstairs in the play area. My old laptop has been repurposed for the kids' computer games and it gets a fair amount of use now. The doll house is right next to it, with all the doll house furniture and people in a canvas bin on the bookcase shown above.

Finally, this colorful set of storage bins and its rack came from Target. It was on sale for $40 and it has been a great set-up. Thing 1 and Thing 2 helped me go through the toys in it last night and we got rid of a lot of stuff, so that's why the bins are a little empty. We had lots of Happy Meal toys which I cannot stand. They are just annoying and they have a way of multiplying the clutter. The less attractive bin set right next to the Target set is really a workhorse. We have the bottom bin filled with blocks and the top bin is filled, to the top, with Little People and all their trappings. We love Little People in this house. The bin on top of that is balls, and the two on the floor next to it are Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys. Having a place for everything has been invaluable for me because the girls know where everything goes and they can pick up pretty quickly. Mind you, they still complain about it, but they do it.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Trolling the Craft Fairs

I like to troll the craft fairs and stores to get ideas and this is one of the ideas I've found that I love. The only difference with my clipboards, is that I kept them pretty simple and didn't adhere a lot of chunky embellishments to the front so that they would still be usable without puncturing any paper I put on it. If you want to make one (or more) for yourself, here's how:

1) Take an ugly, cheap 99 cent clipboard, and trace its outline on the back of scrapbooking paper of your choice.  Do this with both the front and the back.  When cutting, measure and cut out the area for the clip.  You want the paper to  go around the hardware on the front of the clipboard.

2) Cover a work surface with newspaper, or even better, do it outside, and spray the back side of the paper with spray adhesive.  Carefully apply to clipboard, working quickly.  It helps to have two people doing this because the adhesive is pretty sticky.

3) Trim any overhanging paper and sand the edges to give it a finished look.

4) Using a cheap foam brush, apply two coats of Modge Podge (I like the Matte finish) to both sides of the clipboard, allowing a couple hours of drying time between coats.  The Modge Podge will protect the paper and allow you to clean your clipboard.

5) When the Modge Podge is dry, tie pretty pieces of ribbon to the clip.

And there you have it!  Since I'm a list person, I have about ten of these around my house. My girls each have one for their chore charts, and they each gave one to their teachers at the end of the school year with Barnes & Noble gift cards attached. I even snuck my husband's ugly clipboard out of his shop and covered it with manly hunting/camping paper and stickers and did not use ribbon. Once you make one of these babies, you'll never use an ugly brown clipboard again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Target Dollar Spot

We are lucky enough to have a Target store in our town and I have to tell you, I love the Dollar Spot by the entrance of the store. I have found some pretty cute things in there for cheap. These cute little patriotic buckets are just one example. Ashley and I tied some ribbon to them, and they are even cuter now. I'll be putting treats in these for my crop on Saturday and I hope everyone likes them as much as I do.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pimping My Plasma

Janae came to me one day in late winter and told me that she was "donating" plasma and that I should do it too. Janae has a scrapbooking habit and needs cash bad for it, so she "donates" her plasma twice a week.

I'll stop using the quotes around donate now, I just want to make sure it's clear that it's not really donating because you get paid to donate. You can make up to $50 a week by donating twice a week. Instead of giving you cash, they give you a debit card which is loaded at the completion of each donation.

Of course, Janae convinced me to do it, she can be so convincing, and I've been doing it for a few months now. I'm hoarding my money on my debit card to pay for my gas to California this summer. My mom is concerned about the stigma that she says is attached to this type of behavior. Maybe at one time, but there are all types of people donating plasma today. I see a lot of stay-at-home moms and students, of course, but I also see men and women in business attire and retired people.

What I like about donating is that at the place I go, Bio Life Plasma Services, they have a nice clean daycare for my kids that's free, and I have 45 minutes to sit, relax, and read, by myself, uninterrupted. So what if there's a needle and tubing coming out of my arm, I'm not going anywhere. That sweet time with a book is, in itself, a luxury.

Janae and I, because we are the geekiest of geeks, have managed to turn it into a competition. "How long did it take you to donate today?" "45 minutes?" "I beat you, I did 40." The record at the plasma center we frequent is 31 minutes. I'm sure that it was a skinny girl. You have to donate in quantity based on your weight, and even at my best, I've never been a skinny girl. So Janae and I chug the water, because that helps you donate faster, and we pump our arms with vigor during the donation cycles. And one day reeeel soon, I'm gonna blow her outta the water. Watch out, girlfriend!

Glitter Man & Glitter Girl

I am so thankful for the group of croppers that descend upon my house every Saturday evening. There are so many different personalities and talents in this group and we mesh so well. It's always fun to have new people join us and become part of "the regulars." John is our newest regular, and he seems to be fitting right in. He has a good sense of humor, as witnessed by the layout above. At times we see him blush and cover his ears when the conversation takes an unexpected turn, usually as the evening wears on. Peanut Head provides a little buffer for him, as he is usually sitting on the couch with his laptop, silently amused. Sometimes John will get up and saunter over to him and start a conversation, sort of an adult's way of covering his ears and singing "La, la, la, I can't hear you."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Chinese Chicken Salad

This coming Saturday I am hosting one of my all-day crops where my cropping buddies and customers come all day, from 10:00 a.m. to Midnight to work on their albums. I always make lunch and dinner for these crops and the menu is always a hurdle that once I figure it out, everything else seems to fall into place. So in my ongoing quest for good recipes, my next crop menu is always on my mind. The food is always enjoyed, but I need some work in not only planning a good menu, but making sure I stay on budget.

This recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad will help me stay on budget, and I'm going to need it to offset the Pizza on the Grill and the Barefoot Contessa's Fourth of July Cake (watch for those posts soon).

By the way, if you want to get these recipe cards developed for your own use, you should be able to drag the jpg from my webpage to your desktop, upload it to a photo center that you use, and order it as a 5x7 print. I don't recommend getting it as a 4x6, because I don't think the ratio would transfer right and you would end up with parts cut off.

Back to the recipe, this one is pretty simple and it keeps for DAYS. It makes enough for an army, so I end up eating it for DAYS because my husband won't touch it with a ten foot pole. It's a salad and it's girlie, I guess.

Those Little Monsters!

At first glance these probably look like just ordinary kids' pictures, however, there's a story behind these little gems. You see, the stickers you see within the pictures did not actually belong to my children, the children that made these pictures. I sell scrapbooking supplies and people are always asking me "Don't your kids get into your stuff?" In the past I have always been able to honestly answer "No." Those days are clearly over. One day I pulled a Day at the Ranch sticker sheet out of my inventory for a customer that was going to drop by for it. When I went to retrieve the stickers, this "art" is what I found in its place. I just love the oversized boots in the stirrups on the horses. And the little stick cowboy tipping his hat in the top picture just makes me smile. How can I be mad when I see that these stickers were put to good use?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Happy Birthday Thing One!

Thing One is seven years old today. Here she is with her Daddy at her birthday party on Friday. People always tell you that kids grow up so fast, but until you have your own, you don't really give it much thought. I get so sad when I think about how quickly this time has gone by. At this rate we'll be sending her off to college tomorrow.

Recipe Organization

This is where I store my tried and true recipes. I found this cool box at Michael's, took the lid off, adhered different paper to it with spray adhesive, then I put a couple coats of Modge Podge over it. I love it because I can grab just the recipe I need, put it in the back of its section when I return it, and I have an automatic revolving menu that isn't set in stone.

THE Best Salad for Summertime!

I got this recipe at an end of the school year potluck party. My friend and fellow teacher, Charlotte, brought this salad and shared the recipe with us. You won't believe how easy it is, and more than that, how delicious it is. The combination of strawberries and avocado in a salad is unexpected and really very good.

Something else I'd like to do on this blog is share some of my favorite recipes. I love to cook and I'm always looking for new recipes. I have hundreds of recipes, in some semblance of organization, that I have yet to try. If I find a recipe that's a keeper, I make a recipe card like the one I have posted above. I do this digitally in my Creative Memories StoryBook Creator Plus program. It is a very user friendly digital scrapbooking program that seems to be very similar to PhotoShop with its use of layers, but is actually quite intuitive to use. If you've ever tried to teach yourself how to use PhotoShop, you probably know what I'm talking about. Anyway, as I was saying, I create a 5x7 recipe card in my program, save it as a jpg file, upload it to my photo center of choice, and have it processed as a 5x7 print. Then when I get it back, I adhere it to a 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 inch piece of cardstock (half of a full sheet), slide it into a sheet protector of the same size (which you can find here) and then I put it into my recipe card box.

If you would like to print these recipe cards for yourself, I suggest that you use the following procedure:
1) First click on the recipe card so that you get the best resolution possible, then drag it onto your desktop or right click and save it to your desktop.
2) Upload the jpg recipe card to your photo center of choice (or print it yourself at home).
3) Order the recipe cards as a 5x7 print. They were not created in a 4x6 size. If you try to print them at that reduced size, you will lose part of the recipe card.

I'm A Blogger!

I've been thinking about starting a blog for awhile now, and my good friend, Janae, told me yesterday that she started one on blogger and how easy it was.  Well, I couldn't let her get ahead of me because I'm just competitive like that, so here I am.  I have a million other things I could and should be doing, but this is fun.  I've been reading a few blogs (and become addicted to them) for almost a year now, so I'm very excited to finally have this thing going.  I chose the title "Controlling My Chaos" because I think it appropriately sums up my life.   Sometimes I feel like I'm a rat running in a wheel, never accomplishing anything really, but trying so hard to check things off my list.  I hope to meet others like me, share some of my ideas, and learn all at the same time.  I hope you'll join me.

Sunday, June 15, 2008




Control Freak

Welcome to my blog, where I share what I'm passionate about--my family, my friends, crafts, scrapbooking, cooking, and organizing. I'm sarcastic, and I like to poke fun at myself and others.

I am a huge Control Freak, and as a result I'm on an ongoing quest to control the chaos in my life. It's a job that will never be finished, but I refuse to let that stop me. There's always a better way, and the internet has opened up a world of ideas that are just waiting for me to discover.

I'm a middle school math teacher and I frequently act like a middle school child. I remember all too well what it was like to be that age, and I enjoy the comedy my students bring into my life. They are so amazing.

I love learning new things from other bloggers, and I always try to give credit and link love when I am inspired by someone.

I love comments, but I don't respond to all of them. I used to break my neck trying, and believe me, I am racked with guilt over not doing so, but once I went back to work, it just became physically impossible for me to do so.

However, if you have a question, I promise I will respond if you e-mail me. Just click on Contact Me in my Nav Bar. I always try to respond quickly, but how long it takes just depends on what I'm freaking out about at any given time. Sound familiar?

I read all my comments and I appreciate each and every one of them. Thanks for stopping by and reading my yackity yack.