Ingredient of the month: Cream of Chicken Soup

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Pre-school alternatives

Next year my first son will be four and ready for some sort of pre-school. The word on the playground is that preschools are a hot topic. I live in Southern Maryland and don't know if it is like this everywhere but here are the options where I live:

Public pre-school: difficult to get into if your child isn't behind in any sort of way with a relatively stable home and family life.

Private pre-school (what most kids here do): there are lots of church pre-schools here, mostly Christian-based. They are very expensive (I don't have a number to give you but it seems way too expensive to be paying monthly) and the good ones have a 2-3 year waiting list. Basically, the second you know you are pregnant is the time to get your name on the list.

I've looked into Joy School because I remember my mom doing it with me and my brothers when I was young. It costs a little bit up front but overall the cost is much cheaper. It is closer to home where I can control it more, they still get the benefits of being taught by someone other than me, and they can still benefit from peer interaction.

I was wondering if anyone has successfully run a pre-school from their home or as a coop with other moms, like Joy School or a FREE one. We are all smart moms who are creative and capable. I was just hoping someone could give me some experienced advice.


One Hour Craft - Plate stand/cake stand

Hello folks. I know my track record for doing crafts at the beginning of the month has been horrible lately.... sorry! It seems like the world of having two kids has completely taken over my life. Anyways, I've got an awesome, quick, easy and very fun craft!!! The girls in my ward at church did a craft night a few years ago and they make these beautiful cake/plate stands using plates and glass candle sticks. They keep popping up at ward functions and they are all so gorgeous and fun I really wanted on. So I thought I would give it a try.

Here's what you need: (ok, sorry for the horrible photos!)
-epoxy ( a type of glue that will glue onto glass and things that regular glue won't work with) or glass glue. I think epoxy works better, so shoot for that. You can probably find it at Joanns or any other craft store. Even Home Depot carries it.
-a plate (any size, color, and shape) My plate is white and my candlestick is glass, I like it, but the girls at church have glass plates and glass candlesticks, it looks really elegant.
-a candlestick

**sidenote: I got my plate and candlestick at the dollar store. So for this whole project I spent about 5$, the glue was most expensive.**

Now, here's what you do:

Turn your plate upside down, and find the center. If you want you can make little marks, so you stick your candle stick down in the right spot. Next, apply the epoxy or glue according to package directions and let it dry THOROUGHLY. I made that impatient mistake and it cost me.

Ta da! That's IT! Once it is dry you have a lovely, fancy looking plate stand! Isn't that awesome?
Here's my finished product. It looks crooked, only because my plate is wavy.... don't let it fool you! :) I love the look of it. Here are some ideas for what I plan to do with my plate stand:

-sit it on my dining table with some fake fruit, changing from season to season (lemons in summer, indian corn for fall, etc.).
-Use it to transport and display cookies and treats for parties, showers, ward functions, holidays, etc.
-Use it as a cupcake stand or cake stand on birthdays
-Displaying my jewelry when I take it to craft fairs

And mostly, just to look at because I think it is so pretty.
Sorry about the ugly bags in this photo.... I'm no photographer! :) The possibilities with this craft are endless really. Keep your eye out for a fun candlestick and then find a plate to match and you've got yourself a unique craft and something useful too!! Oh, and I plan to make a hord of these for gifts, wouldn't YOU be excited to get one?!! PLEASE post pictures if you make one, I want to see all the creativity out there!


How to Get Your Kids to Pick Up After Themselves

Allrighty, so first off, can I just say that my kids are SO NOT a shining example of little children who dutifully only play with one toy, and put it away before they get out another. NOPE!

And can I also say that I am not diligent about MAKING them do that? It's too much work for me. I'm a wee bit lazy.

So, since that it not how I roll, my kids tend to sort of tornado through the toys in a day's time, and when 7pm come around, it looks like a natural disaster has indeed hit.

In order to make me feel like I'm doing my job as homemaker, we do a "QUICK PICK UP" every evening before bath time. We make it a race, to see how quickly we can get all the toys back in the toy box. It leaves my family room looking nice for the WHOLE EVENING. This makes me feel good about myself.

I have found that if my husband and I are enthusiastic and excited about "getting" to pick up, the boys are more willing to fall in line with it as well. If we're grumpy, they're grumpy.

Beyond Toys: 
Things like dishes in the sink and shoes in the closet are HABITS we're trying to instill. So, ALWAYS and FOREVER, if your shoes come off, where do they go? In the CLOSET! YAY! If you're done eating where do your dishes go? IN THE SINK!

I was raised in a home where my mother was a mother, not a maid. We as children were expected to do our part. I'm trying to teach that to my boys as well. I want them to be neat and clean people, not slobs. But at ages 4, 2, and 1 there are limits to their abilities. I find that picking up, and being responsible for their own belongings is a good place to start. When my oldest gets to be school-aged, I'll expect him to help with things like setting the table, and other small chores. As they grow, so does their list. :)

Thumb-Sucking Troubles

My daughter is almost four-years old and she is an avid thumb-sucker. She has been since she was teeny-tiny. I was a thumb-sucker too. I was emotionally scarred from my parents' attempts to make me stop. Instead of quitting, I clung to my thumb-sucking even more for comfort.

I don't want the same thing to happen to my daughter, but I am absolutely clueless how to gently help her to stop. And I do believe it is well past time to stop. If she had sucked on pacifiers, I would have taken those away years ago. A thumb just isn't so simple to take away.

Anyone have any brilliant ideas for me???


Baked Potato Soup

This recipe is found on here which is a recipe blog I love! I recently joined a dinner group so i only cook once a week now and I love using this site for new ideas on what to make. This soup is easy to make and taste great! In Arizona we have to get our soup kick done with since it's getting hot, enjoy!

Baked Potato Soup
4 to 6 potatoes (baked, peeled, and cubed)
½ c. butter
½ c. flour
2 tsp. chicken bullion
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. minced garlic
6 c. milk
16 oz. sour cream
10 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1 can corn, drained
shredded cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan melt butter on low heat. Stir in flour and seasonings.
Gradually add milk and turn heat up to medium. Add minced garlic. Bring
to a boil, cook and stir 2 minutes until thick. Remove from heat. Whisk
in sour cream. Add potatoes, corn, and bacon. Serve in individual bowls
topped with cheddar cheese.


Monthly Photography Tip

This is the first of what is now going to be a monthly photography tip.

I have been thinking about this post for awhile. I do a photography series on my blog and I don't want to repeat things. I have come to the conclusion that some things are worth repeating and some are not. So it will be a little bit of both.

Do you have Photoshop? If you don't, do not fret. It is expensive and if you are not sure that you will use it, you might want to hold off for awhile. There are many FREE alternatives to photoshop, although photoshop is the best. If you want a program that is more advanced but free, look up Gimp. Do you just want to be able to crop, lighten or darken and turn things black and white? Then Google's Picasa will work great for you. Go here to download it for free.

Picasa will allow you to crop your photos, make collages, write on your photos, turn them black and white or sepia, as well as basic color fixes. It is a great program for those who don't have a lot of time or money to spend on their photography but want some control over how their pictures look.

After you get your photos the way you want, where do you print? I am obsessed with Shutterfly. Their prints always look great and if they don't, they will replace them. The problem? You have to pay for shipping and their prints can be pricey. I lessen that problem by buying their print plans. You can spend $20 and get 200 prints. Then you have a year to use them. Most of the time you can't beat 10 cents a print.

If you are still against shipping, I also LOVE Inkleys for prints, Costco is pretty good and Sam's club is adequate if you are not printing large format prints. I have had horrible luck with Sam's clubs 16x20s.

So now, I need to know what you guys want to know. Do you want tips for actually shooting pictures, tutorials on fixing them afterward? What would help you the most?


Tricks of the Trade Question: Disciplining a 1 year old!

I'm pretty sure Disciplining children is usually a question most mom's have since there are several ways to discipline and many people are very opinionated about certain ways, my question this week is on disciplining a one year old child.
I guess the question is more like, when to start discipline! I have a 16 month old boy and we have been really lucky with him so far, he is really good and so far he isn't mischievous..(yet!)! I haven't really thought about types of discipline or anything yet for him since he doesn't really do anything wrong yet, especially on purpose, I just figured he's to young to think to really discipline effectively. Anyways I have a couple friends with kids his same age and a little while ago one mentioned putting her kid in a time out when he misbehaves and the other uses 'spankings' as a threat to get hers to stop. It seems like these work for their kids and i'm sure getting in the habit of a specific discipline plan young is good so they will know when something is bad and there are consequences when they do it. The one thing Dylan does that i'm pretty sure he knows he shouldn't do is hit the TV, for now we just say no, and turn him around and make him walk the other way, my husband used to grab him before he got to it and lay him down and hold him there for a minute saying it's not okay, but then he wanted to make sure not to be too aggressive and scare him so we just kind of remind him with no and hope that he will get it soon. Is this something, in your opinion, that should have any kind of punishment?? He still seems young to me for a real punishment but I want to get him in good habits!
So I made this question long, but what is your discipline techniques and how young do you start them???