Glitter Jar

At our last MOPS meeting, our craft coordinator issued us a challenge. We made jar cookies; that is, we put the dry ingredients for cookies into a Ball jar to take home. After we baked the cookies, Anggie told us we should reuse the jar and then send her pictures. I had no idea what to do with my jar. Make a fancy pen holder? Fill it with marbles? Drink lemonade from my jar?  Hmm.

I finally thought of a project I wanted to try. Some people call it a calming jar, or a settle-down jar. The idea is that you fill it with water and glitter, shake, and watch the glitter settle to the bottom, which has a calming effect. What a great idea for tantrum-prone girls and their mommy! (This frazzled Mommy could also use a settle-down jar, especially now that school’s out for the summer!)

At first, I thought I added too much food coloring, but as I watched the jar, it reminded me of The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. Another use for this simple Ball jar…teaching great art!

Starry Night Glitter Jar

How to make your own Starry Night Glitter Jar:

Fill your jar about halfway with hot water and add some blue glitter glue. (I bought a small bottle on sale, and squeezed the whole bottle into the jar.) Stir. Add silver glitter, blue glitter and blue food coloring. (If you can find some star-shaped glitter, that would add to the effect! I didn’t have any.) Stir, and fill the jar with water leaving about an inch at the top. Fill the jar to the top with vegetable oil. The oil is an unnecessary ingredient, but it did add some fun “bubbles” to the jar. Tighten the lid securely. Shake and whirl to make your own Starry Night!

Starry Night glitter jar


I own a series of art books by Mike Venezia. The library also has a lot of kid friendly art books which you can use to introduce Van Gogh and The Starry Night to your own kids. Van Gogh was a very interesting character!

Van Gogh by Mike Venezia

Speaking of Ball jars, I’ve also been the lucky recipient of a jar of strawberry jam from The Mayor of Crazyville. Yum! What other ideas for jars do you have? Leave a link in your comment if you’ve blogged about using jars. I’d love to see your ideas!


Country Club Breakfast

After posting this picture of the egg casserole I made for MOPS this morning on Facebook, I received several requests for the recipe. My mom used to make this casserole for a special breakfast or brunch, along with a yummy coffee cake that had cherry pie filling in it. I really love to use ham-off-the-bone, and will cube some leftover Easter or Christmas ham to stick in the freezer until I need it. Even though this casserole is easy to put together, it does require a little pre-planning. I usually assemble it the night before I need it, and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Country Club Breakfast – an easy egg, ham and cheese casserole

Country Club Breakfast

7 slices cubed bread
1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, cut into strips
1/2 lb. cooked ham, cubed
3 eggs
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1 stick butter

In a 9″ X 13″ pan, place 5 slices of the cubed bread. Place cheese strips on top of bread, then cubed ham on cheese strips. Beat eggs and add milk, salt and mustard. Pour over ham. Melt butter and pour over all. Place remaining 2 slices of bread cubed on top. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Bake for 1 hour, uncovered, at 325 degrees.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Click here to print this recipe!


Switching from Plastic to Reusable Bags

When I was a teenager, my mom would take a pile of canvas bags into the grocery store. As she handed them to the baggers, (who usually gave her a funny look) I was embarrassed that she didn’t just take the plastic bags they had at the store. When I went to the grocery store, I conveniently “forgot” the armful of bags.

“There’s a black hat caught in a high tree top,” goes a song by the Police. But is Sting so sure that’s a hat? Oh, wait, it’s a plastic grocery bag! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen something scampering across the road only to realize it was just the wind blowing a plastic bag around and around.

Due to the number of plastic bags floating around the neighborhood, much less my kitchen cabinet, I’m no longer embarrassed to bring my own pile of reusable bags when I go shopping. When I forget my reusable bags in the car or in my kitchen, I’m upset with myself. As I see other shopping carts with their shoppers’ reusable bags inside, I regret that I have to take more bags home with me! When I do remember my bags, baggers no longer look at me, wondering what do to with these bags I give them; they are much more used to people bringing along bags from home.

Don’t these bags fill up the back of my van beautifully?

But on the occasion that I have forgotten my bags, and do use plastic, here is a way to reuse those plastic bags. At our last MOPS meeting, we turned them into reusable sandwich wrappers!

Here are the directions for the cloth and plastic sandwich wrappers we made. Although I have concerns about using plastic with foods, plastic bags seem to be safe, (see chemicals in plastics) especially if you use a Ziplock bag as the top layer of your sandwich wrapper.

The simple swap from plastic bags to reusable bags is brought to you by Hyacynth from Undercover Mother and Robin from Diet Coke on the Rocks.

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Breast Self Exam: Don’t Put It Off!

When you read the words, “breast self exam,” do you start to feel guilty? Do you get butterflies in your stomach? Do you shrug those feeling off, and tell yourself you’ll do a self exam…later?

I do. I’m a breast cancer survivor and an advocate for breast self exams, and yet I still don’t always give myself a self exam. I feel guilty when I haven’t done an exam for a while, and then I get nervous that maybe I’ll find another lump. I found a 1 cm lump in my left breast when I was twenty-seven. A self exam is how I found my cancer early and was able to start treatment immediately.

The purpose of my post today is not to scare you, or guilt you into doing a breast self exam RIGHT THIS MINUTE! The purpose of my post is to tell you how I encourage others to perform a self exam so you will be motivated to do one yourself. The medical community recommends that woman 20 years and older perform breast self exams.

About a year ago, I was sitting in the waiting room, hospital gown on, ready for my mammogram. A pink flier caught my attention, and I picked it up. After all, the magazines were at least five years old, and Brangelina was old news. (I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that a Brangelina page exists on Wikipedia.)

The pink flier gave information about a service the breast center provided. They could arrange for a nurse to come show your group how to give breast self exams. Since I was on the steering committee of my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group, I took a flier with me. We arranged to have a nurse come to a meeting and show us how to perform a breast self-exam. She was funny, professional, and completely non-threatening. She told our MOPS groups that she wished more groups called the breast center where she works to request a session about breast self-exams. She also told us that of the women who do find something and have a breast biopsy, over 80% have negative results. Just because you find something unusual in one of your breasts does not mean you have breast cancer! However, it is important to follow up with your doctor.

Self-exams are a way to get to know your body; a way to know when something needs to be checked out. I thought I was a breast self exam expert; but breast self exam recommendations have changed slightly over the last few years. I didn’t think I would learn anything new from listening to the expert who came to visit our MOPS group, but I did! Besides just feeling your breasts for changes, a breast self exam includes looking in the mirror for changes and feeling under your arms for lumps in your lymph nodes. Our speaker also did not recommend doing a self exam in the shower. Lying down seems to be the best way to find an irregularity in your breasts. (I was lying down when I found my lump.)

Are you involved in a mom’s group, a women’s book club, or another group that could benefit from this kind of speaker? Check with your local hospital or breast health center. They may have someone who would be thrilled to come speak to your group!

As I was searching online to try and find a self breast exam to show you, this description best matched the self exam we learned at MOPS: Breast Cancer Detection. Please scroll down this page to find the directions for the breast self exam.

This link is another description of how to perform a Breast Self Exam.

If you live in the Northwest Chicago suburbs, this link will give you information on having a nurse come to your group meeting: Early Dectection.

Do yourself and your loved ones a favor…after clicking the “Brangelina” link (you know you want to!) please, please click one of the breast self exam links and read more about it!

Book Nook: Momology, by Shelly Radic

As soon as I read the back cover of Momology: A Mom’s Guide to Shaping Great Kids, by Shelly Radic, I was excited to start reading this book. Listed on the back are some recommendations for Momology, and among the people quoted is Dr. Mary Manz Simon. She is the author of one of my favorite devotion books, Little Visits for Toddlers. Dr. Simon writes, “The ideas and solutions from real moms in Momology ooze with authenticity…” I couldn’t wait to dig in!

As I was talking about my opportunity to read and review Momology at my MOPS Steering Committee meeting, one of the moms asked me, “How do you have the time to read?” That’s a difficult question to answer. I have a stack on books on my nightstand begging for my attention, and a library list longer than my arm of all the books I want to read. Being a mom is a full time job, and I had plenty of excuses not to read Momology!

Excuse #1: I don’t have time to read a book about mothering because I’m too busy, mothering!

Momology is written, using the author’s words, in “short, naptime-sized bites.” And it’s true! Included in this book are stories of successes (and failures) from real moms, outcomes from surveys, the author’s own experiences, and places to record your own thoughts. Coming soon, there will be a way to share your thoughts with a community of mothers on a website: I also appreciated the quick reviews at the end of each section, so that I could remember what I had read a few days earlier!

Excuse #2: Expert opinions are a dime a dozen. I really don’t want to hear what another expert has to say.

Shelly Radic is a mom, and she draws on her experience as a mother while writing this book. What I loved about Momology is that Shelly knows what it’s like to make mistakes. She never claims to be the perfect mother! And she doesn’t expect her readers to be perfect mothers, either. She writes about how to turn weaknesses into strengths and how to take time for yourself without feeling guilty. She talks about how difficult discipline can be, and how to surround yourself with support. She talks about drawing on God for strength in our mothering, and that brings me to my next excuse:

Excuse #3: I don’t like reading Christian books. They are a little too “preachy” for my taste.

Instead of using a “preachy” tone, Shelly tells us about a loving God. She reminds us that we are wonderfully made, and that God has specifically designed us as mothers to meet our children’s needs. Through other mothers’ stories, she shares with us how moms call upon God to be their strength during difficult times, and how He blesses us every day. She gives practical advice for taking time with God during our hectic days. One of my favorite pieces of advice is how to say a “Breath Prayer.” For example, here is the Jesus Prayer. It goes like this:

Inhale deeply with, “Lord Jesus Christ.”
Exhale slowly with, “Have mercy on me.”

Not only does this prayer bring comfort, but it can change your whole reaction in a stressful situation!

At the beginning of Momology, Shelly grabbed me with this sentence about her own mother:

“Like the B on the baker’s cake, my mothering was marked by her mothering.”

She kept me reading through her practical advice that really works. I can see myself turning to Momology again and again for support and encouragement. What a great resource for moms!

Available June 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. The only compensation I received for reviewing this book was a complimentary copy, courtesy of Revell.

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