Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WoW: BabyCenter (my favorite things #3)

typography canvas by tenderbeasts on etsy

I'm back (and late!) with the third of my favorite things: BabyCenter Online! (See favorite thing #1 here and favorite thing #2 here) And remember, I'm not compensated for any of what I say here. Not that I would turn a sponsor down, but... this is just lil ol' me and my opinions :)


When I was pregnant with my son, I got a lot of advice -- do this, don't do that, blah de blah de blah. I followed very little of it, for better or for worse ;) but one thing that all these fellow moms seemed to have in common was that they ALL recommended signing up for the BabyCenter emails.

Having that many moms all agree on one thing meant that there definitely must be something to it -- just think, when was the last time that you got more than two moms together and had everyone agree on *anything* when it comes to child rearing?? So, I signed up.

And I concur.* Now, I am one of those recommending BabyCenter to everyone I know. :)

*Side note: does anyone else think of that scene in Catch Me if You Can every time you say/hear the word concur? :)

There are many sites out there that give you information about your growing fetus, your growing child, your growing family, so why do I (and all these other moms) love BabyCenter? I can't necessarily speak for those moms, but I love BabyCenter for its

concise and timely emails. Each week, I receive a SHORT newsletter about my child this week -- how to encourage development, dealing with difficulties, etc. The email also includes links to articles that I might be interested in for the age of my child -- sleep training, morning sickness, potty training, tantrums, fun activities -- as well as links to a...

forum for other parents with children the same ages as mine. I'm not a huge online forum dweller, and I've never contributed to the BabyCenter forums, but I enjoy reading what other parents are doing with their children -- funny things, how they're dealing with the same problem I'm having -- and, to be honest, I occasionally enjoy laughing at the drama on the discussion boards. :)

age-appropriate activities. For the first two years of your child's life, BabyCenter has lists of weekly activities to help promote your child's development. These activities are easy and very rarely (if at all) require anything other than what you'll already have at your house. See the activities for up to age 1 here and up to age 2 here, and for older kids they have a whole library of activities, too. Because BabyCenter knows that even the best of moms start to rip their hair out after reading that book seventeen times in one day and hearing "I'm bo-ored" in surround pre-teen sound.  

BabyCenter also offers free (and cute!) email birth announcements, a child milestone tracker (integrated with Facebook so you can share with everyone!), a pregnancy app for iPhone and Android, and just about any information you could ever want... related to the conception, incubation, birthing, and raising of children that is. :)

What's your favorite place to find information about why your child is driving you crazy? ;)



Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of two sweet little things (except on the days that they aren't) and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Twisted Ribbon Roses- No Sew

These Twisted Ribbon Roses are no sew, easy to make, pretty and different. Add them to a hair clip or glue them directly onto a bag to create a perfect accent.

You will need:
Three Paper Clips
A length of ribbon, there is no exact amount but I usually use about 30 inches
hot glue

First of all, straighten the paper clips as straight as possible, they don't need to be perfect. 
Hot glue them into a star type pattern.
Hot glue the end of your ribbon to the back of the paperclips.
Start wrapping the ribbon around the paper clips. Go over the first paperclip, and then wrap it all the way around the first paperclip. Go under the next paper clip, doubling back to wrap all the way around the next paper clip. Repeat every other time, making sure the each time you completely wrap around the paperclip, just changing whether you start you loop, over or under the clip. I continue this until I use almost all of my ribbon.
Hot glue the end to the back of your rose and then bend the left over paperclips to the back of the flower.
Then hot glue a hair clip to the back, or glue the rose directly onto a item to dress it up a bit. You can add a button or jewel to the middle of the flower if you want, but I have found that these roses actually stand on their own really well.
What would you use your roses for?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WoW: Fire Gestures (my favorite things #2)

typography canvas by tenderbeasts on etsy

I'm back today with another of my favorite things -- a browser add-on! When we first talked about add-ons waaay back when, I told you about some of my favorites, and today I have another fantastic add-on to help you love your browser a little bit more... as long as your browser is Firefox. Sorry. :(   

(A browser add-on is a little app that you install in your browser that gives you some awesome capabilities... check out this post to learn a little bit more about add-ons.)

When I left my office job two years ago for my full-time home job, I went through a phase of office-mouse envy (also office-chair envy, but that's beside the point). My office-mouse had extra buttons on the side that were shortcuts for common commands, such as going back a page in my browser or opening a new tab.

At home with my plain ol' mouse, I was wasting all that energy actually moving my mouse to click buttons (not to mention the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome!) until I found FireGestures.

FireGestures is a Firefox add-on that allows you to create and execute various commands within your browser just by using your mouse. Not by clicking buttons. :)

The app is easy to use and customizable for pretty much any command you can think of in your browser. To start customizing FireGestures for yourself [once you've installed the app (and I get NO compensation other than warm fuzzies if you do install it)], just go to Tools > Add-Ons and click Options under the FireGestures heading...

and then (on the Mapping tap) select the command that you want to set the gesture for and click Edit...

Then, in the provided area, make whatever gesture you'd like to make when you want to execute that command (such as right clicking and moving the mouse left to go back a page):

Easy, eh? What command do you use most often in your browser?



Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of two sweet little things (except on the days that they aren't) and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays- Twisty Rolls- The easiest bread you will ever make

My husband has a love for homemade rolls. My one complaint with that is how long they take to make and rise. One day while I was helping my sister make dinner, I watch her start on the rolls less than an hour before dinner. I muttered under my breath that they would never be done in time and to my shock they were faster, easier and more delicious than I could have ever imagined. If you have never made bread before or you just want an easier recipes this recipe is for you!

You will need:
5 1/4 C. bread flour (Trust me on the bread flour, it just works better)
1/2 TBSP. Salt
1/4 C. Sugar
1 1/2 TBSP. Yeast
1 1/2 TBSP Soy Lethicin Liquid
2 C. Warm Water

Mix together the bread flour, salt, sugar, yeast and Soy Lethicin in a mixer. Pour in the water while mixing and then keep mixing for five minutes.

Shape into balls, or if you want twists, roll out dough with your fingers into strands (Like you used to make play-doh snakes) and then coil the dough around itself. DO NOT add ANY flour while shaping into balls. If you need to prevent sticking use cooking spray, not flour. Let the dough rise for 20 minutes and then bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

I have never seen a bread recipe with so few steps before. This is quick and easy and more importantly some of the best rolls I have ever had!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Photo Thursdays- How to make a dual toned image using Photoshop

As easy as most programs make it to turn photos black and white and sepia, I still make my special effects from scratch. Why? I think the images are clearer and you have more control over the final outcome when you are the person controlling every element.

When you create a special effect yourself, you can also control the amount of each color that ends up in your image. You can make your image be just blacks and white, purples and whites or even just adjust it so your sepia tone is on the reddish side of brown. It gives you ultimate control. Here is a simplified way of making your own special effects.

First, open your image in Photoshop. Then go to Image drop down menu, then to Adjustments, then to Hue/Saturation.

Slide your saturation bar all the way to the left, or 0. This is show in the photo below.
Then go to your layers screen. Click the small circle that is half white, half black at the bottom of the pallet. A menu will pop up, select color balance when you see that menu.
A menu will then pop up that will give you the option of which colors you want more represented in your photos.
Sliding the top slide towards the red instead of the cyan, will start to give you a nice sepia tone.
If you slide the top slider towards the red, the middle towards magenta and the bottom towards yellow, it start to define the sepia tone even more. There is no magical amount that will turn any photograph the perfect sepia, that is why sepia photos often look flat when done with one click in a program. You are going to have to toggle the buttons back and forth to find what looks good.
There is not reason you have to keep to browns and blacks. You can easily switch to another hue and give your photo some zap. I like to switch my Tone Balance from the default midtones to the shadows before adding a little color, so that my color will mostly manifest itself in the shadows.
One of my favorite looks, is a photo that is almost sepia, but with some reddish accents. You can do that my selecting your shadow color tone and then slide everything towards the right a little bit.
Like I said, there is not magical amount you need to change a photo to get just the right hue. You are just going to have to load up the image and play with it. Once you figure out how to do this, you have a whole world of color at your finger tips, you can add red, purple, green, blue, yellow accents and more. Changing the hues yourself, instead of letting a program change them for you, takes just a little bit longer, but the image clarity and tone is worth it in the end.
What fun colors would you put in your photos?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

WoW: dafont (my favorite things #1)

Happy Wednesday! My little bundle of joy arrived this weekend, so while we're adjusting to our new addition (and kissing her little cheeks all over all the time!), I though it would be fun to share some of my favorite things with you. It's like Oprah (may she, er, her show, rest in peace), only better because they're all FREE! [That's right, I just said I'm better than Oprah. You can quote me on it ;)]
typography canvas by tenderbeasts on etsy
It's okay... you can sing the song. :)

Favorite Thing: dafont
I think I've mentioned this before, but I am font junkie. I have over 800 fonts installed on my computer right now... and I install at least 10 per week on average. Between my wannabe designer projects and the things I can do with my Silhouette machine, I am firmly addicted to dafont!

This addiction could become costly except for the fact that I get (almost) all of my fonts from dafont.com and they're all free! (And, like always, I'm not getting paid to say any of this. :)

There are many places to get free fonts online, but dafont is my main go-to resource. Why?
  1. HUGE selection of fonts
  2. many categories to browse based on the "feel" I want
  3. super easy font preview so I can see the exact phrase I'll be using instead of just the title of the font

In my opinion, nothing gives away the fact that you did something yourself like using a really common font. If I get one more wedding invitation using Papyrus or an elementary school flyer using Comic Sans... my head might explode. A great and not common font is a make-or-break thing in my world.

I know that sounds extreme, but why use a so-so font when a *fantastic* font is SO easy to download and use?? Just download, unzip, and install the font file. If that sound like Greek, there are more detailed instructions here. :)

So, head on over to dafont and start looking. I'm sure you'll find a font (or a hundred) that you love! To get you started, here are some of my (current) favorites:





And if you want some other opinions, check out the fab font roundups from the girls at eighteen25. Happy font finding! :) 




Please note that many dafont fonts are free for personal use only. That means that if you are using the font for a commercial project of any kind, you need to purchase a commercial license. Information about font licenses can be found either on the font's page at dafont or in a terms of use type document that comes with the font when you download it. If you'll be using the font for non-personal use, please make sure to follow the creator's terms of use!

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Scrapbook paper covered journals with ribbon bookmark

I always find myself making new journals at back to school time. I have always loved a cute journal and at this time a year, you can get the spiral bound notebooks for about .20 a piece. They make thoughtful gifts when inscribed with love notes and perhaps a nice pen and since they aren't too specific they can be used for just about anything. 
You will need:
A notebook
scrapbook paper, one piece will cover a notebook, but you will need several pieces if you want more than one design on the notebook. I prefer to make three notebooks at once and use three different pieces of paper and mix and match on the books.
rubber cement, seriously, use rubber cement. Not regular glue, not craft glue, rubber cement.
1/2 inch ribbon

Cover your notebook with the scrapbook paper in anyway that you see fit. Make sure to go all the way to edge on both edges. Glue down with rubber cement, because it won't wrinkle that way.
Take a long piece of ribbon, I usually don't even cut it from the spool until I am done with this part, and start threading it through the spiral binding. Pull out lots of extra on the first couple of loops.


Weave the ribbon over and under and over and under through the spiral binding.
When you are done, you should have a long tail that you pulled through in the beginning left over. This is the book mark. It fold over into the notebook to hold your place.
Then cut the ribbon and tie a knot at the end of the spiral binding, to make sure the ribbon isn't going to move.
I think the ribbon bookmark really gives the notebook a finished look. You can even tie a pen to your bookmark if you feel the desire!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

WoW: Blogger and Blogger in Draft

If you're a long-time reader or if you've ever emailed me (feel free! iamjustlu@gmail.com) with a question about Blogger, you've probably heard me mention Blogger in Draft.

In a nutshell, Blogger in Draft is where new Blogger features come first to be tested by those who choose to use Blogger in Draft instead of regular Blogger. After some testing and tweaking, these new features are then either implemented into regular Blogger so that everyone sees/uses them or removed entirely from Blogger in Draft - back to the drawing board!

Up until a few months ago, the biggest differences between the regular Blogger publishing interface and the Blogger in Draft publishing interface was features -- small tweaks to existing features or new features. 

But... a few months ago, the Blogger team rolled out an entirely new interface for Blogger in Draft! So instead of seeing the same old Blogger like this...

...you get to see (and use) a newer, streamlined, and, in my opinion, purtier Blogger:

And with the new and purtier Blogger, the new and purtier post editor:

To try out Blogger in Draft, just go to http://draft.blogger.com and log in using your regular Blogger account. You can always switch back to regular Blogger by logging in the regular site (http://blogger.com) instead. You can even cherry pick and use Blogger in Draft for some features and switch back to regular Blogger for some features that might still be buggy in Draft.

Speaking of bugs... that's the one caution I would give about using Blogger in Draft. It's a testing ground, and even the prettiest testing grounds can have bugs or minor glitches. I've experienced very few glitches personally, but the interface does change fairly often -- a new button, a button removed, something or other shifted here or there, etc. To me, the interface updates aren't a big deal, but if minor changes like that will bother you, you're probably best off to stick to using regular Blogger.

And, just in case you're concerned, switching from using Blogger to Draft as a blog author won't make any difference to your readers -- they'll still see your posts and access your blog just the same, regardless of which interface you're using to write and publish the new posts.

So, what are you waiting for?? Go take a tour of Blogger in Draft. If you like it, you can stay and play. And, if not, you've had a nice little sight-seeing tour. :) Feel free to stop back or email me and ask any questions you might have.



Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu. Contact her at iamjustlu@gmail.com with questions or topic suggestions.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays- Sloppy Joes, Slop Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes is one of those meals that I like to keep around. It is easy and I usually have the ingredients on hand, especially if we use toasted bread instead of buns. This is one of two ways that I make this delicious and messy meal.

You will need:
7 oz of ketchup, basically just short of a cup
1/2 T. mustard
1/2 T. vinegar
2 T. sugar
1/4 C. water
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/8 t. paprika
1 lb of hamburger
2 tablespoon diced fresh or dehydrated onions

Brown the hamburger with onions. Mix everything else together to for a sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil and then add meat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add to toasted bread of buns and get messy!

For some reason, every time I think of Sloppy Joes, I think of It Takes Two. You know, that old Mary-Kate and Ashley movie? I guess everybody loves a big gooey, messy burger, or is that just me?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet, Give Me Something Good to...Wear?

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. What's not to like? Candy corn, pumpkins, corn mazes and, of course, dressing up. My little girl started early this year, changing her mind every other day about what she wanted to be, coming up with all sorts of different ideas and making me fret about making her dreams come true. When Costume Discounters contacted me about trying out a costume, I was a little skeptical that I was going to be able to find all of the different costumes my little girl had mentioned, but I was pleasantly surprised. They have a huge selection of kids' Halloween costumes and I was able to find every single one of her ideas to show her what they would look like. They had all the cowgirls and Disney Princesses that she could ask for, as well as her favorite characters from Toy Story.

In the end, she fell in love with this Asian Princess costume. The time from when we ordered it until it landed on our doorstep was surprisingly quick and my little girl couldn't wait to try it on. She instantly demanded a photo shoot.
I love this costume. It has velcro in a few different places so I can make this costume look like it was made to fit my little girl. She feels like a princess in it and constantly asks me to put it on her. I love the colors and look of the costume and it has held up great through her play.
Costume Discounters won me and my little girl over with their fun variety of affordable costumes, quick delivery and free product exchange policy. It was so easy to order the costume online. This really is the way to go to take the stress out of Halloween and get a costume your child will enjoy.

I did receive a costume in exchange for my honest review of it. All opinions are 100% mine. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WoW: That darn summer weather!


It's summer here in my hemisphere, and around here, that means some unpredictable weather. Actually, every season in Utah means unpredictable weather. The only predictable condition is the road condition: terrible and marred by orange cones everywhere!

Anyway, for planning summer outings or just keeping up on what the weather forecast is (or any other weather need!), The Weather Channel has some great apps. Seriously, they have an app for just about anything: climate comparison,  flight status, fitness forecast, plant watering indicator, and pollen forecast are just a handful!

You can also get The Weather Channel on your (computer) desktop, in your browser toolbar (if you use Internet Explorer), on your blog, and, of course, on your smart phone.

However, if you and your phone are "dumb" like me and my phone, you can also get weather forecasts and alerts by text message (SMS). It's so easy to sign up, and easy to change what subscriptions you want delivered when.

If you want a one-time forecast, just text either the zip code or the city and state abbreviation to 42278 or 78676 to receive a text message with a 3-day forecast. (You can store the number in your phone's contacts so you don't have to remember it :)
 
that's a barometer... in case you didn't know :)

For regular daily alerts, go here to sign up and select the alerts you want to receive for what zip code. You can choose from
  • severe weather alerts (when the National Weather Service issues an alert for your area)
  • school day forecast (conditions/temperatures 7 am, noon, and 3 pm)
  • outdoor activity forecast (conditions/temperatures and wind)
  • beauty forecast (conditions/temperatures and indices for hair frizz, dry skin, and UV -- no, seriously!)
  • farmers' forecast (conditions/temperatures, wind, and soil moisture)
  • rain OR snow OR icy precipitation alerts (if it's expected the next day)
  • extreme cold OR heat alerts (if expected the next day to be below/above your chosen temperature)
  • pollen alerts (if expected to be above your chosen levels)
  • surf and sea conditions (conditions/temperatures, wind, sea temperature, wave height, etc)
You'll provide your email address, create an account password, and then enter your cell number. You can opt to receive alerts via email or text message or both, as well as set the time (in your local time) to receive your alerts. If you leave all the automatic settings, your chosen alerts will come both via email and text message at 8 AM, so be sure to change your settings if that's not what you want!

Once you've signed up, if you need help, text HELP to 78676, go to weather.com/TWCAlerts/FAQ, or email spt@weather.com. To stop receiving text alerts, text STOP to 78676.

Note that email and text message alerts from The Weather Channel are free of charge, but standard text messaging rates apply based on your plan and provider. Also, if you are a customer of the Sprint/Nextel, Boost Mobile, or Virgin Mobile networks, TWC can't provide you text alerts, but you can still access TWC mobile or use TWC apps on your phone. 


Happy summer outings!



Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.