Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wooden Hutch Before and After

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I bought this wooden chest in Bavaria for only $50. It was love at first sight for me. My husband on the other hand didn't think it was so wonderful. It's true how two people can look at the same exact thing and yet see something different.

My husband saw the orangey pine color which doesn't mesh well with our mostly dark colored furniture. He also saw the damage. The scratches and knicks all over.

But the DIY creative soul in me saw potential. I saw beautiful details and corners and shapes that just needed some love. I saw THIS in my head:

 As it turns out this needed a lot more work than even I expected. It took about 3 days to complete. I've painted and sanded several pieces within the last year and have made mistakes along the way, but those mistakes helped me know exactly what to do with this piece. I read several tutorials form Centsational Girl and I read them over and over and over again.

There are 3 things I have learned when it comes to painting furniture:
1) I don't like the spray primer. It seems like a spray would give a more even layer, however in my experience spray leaves little bumps. I know this probably has to do with the nozzle or the temperature, but either way it happens. I much prefer just painted the primer on.

2) My favorite brushes for painting are those cheap foam brushes. The ones without any bristles. They don't leave any brush strokes and give a smooth finish.

3) PATIENCE. Well, duh! It seems obvious, but when you start a project and are seeing the results coming together you just want it in your house right away! I did so well with this piece until the very end. The stain was taking forever to dry (2 days!) because it's been cold here and I figured it was "dry enough" so I brushed the wood finish on.

 *Face palm*

It kind of bubbled up and the stain started coming off if I touched it anywhere, so I just left it alone. I wanted to put on 3-4 coats of the finish, but it's just going to have to do for now. I plan to re-sand and re-stain the top next spring.

All in all I absolutely love it! I love the color (beige was the name of this paint, though it looks a bit more yellow ish).

There's still enough imperfections to give it a shabby chic look, but the gnarly scratches and knicks have been polished away.

Hope everyone is having a happy humpday!
Frau Wright

Friday, September 21, 2012

9 Apple Themed Activities for Kindergarten

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There are so many creative kindergarten teachers and bloggers who share their ideas and I love them all for being so generous with their creativity and knowledge! September is all about apples to me. The weather is starting to get cool and we are all in the mood for apple pies and soups and pumpkin lattes. I love me a good theme, so what better than Apples for September? I mostly used pinterest and for ideas and printables to supplement our curriculum. These were some of our favorite activities over the last 2 weeks that incorporated apples:

Apple Handprint Craft

I got this idea from Jennifer of Ramblings of a Crazy Woman. She had her kids make the stem with a painted green hand. We just traced our hands on construction paper to be a little less messy. This was a great craft for both kids because Uggie could tear the pieces of paper and Leelee could cut her strips with scissors.

Painting with Apples

Picture from

I laid down a cheap disposable table cloth and let the kids explore painting with the pieces of an apple. My two year kept trying to eat the apples, paint and all. But both kids really enjoyed the experience.

Stained Glass Apples
I've seen this idea on several different sites. Since I have a new laminator (that is so addicting and fun!) I used this tutorial for the most part.

Apple Pie Scented Play Dough

This playdough recipe from It's Gravy Baby is super easy and took 10min to make.
We rolled some balls in different sizes and compared the sizes and also put the balls in order from small to large and large to small.

We also made the letter A.

I love activities that can be simple enough for a toddler, yet still incorporate kindergarten level skills for my daughter.

Homemade Crockpot Apple Sauce

We are reading about healthy eating and cooking in our language arts curriculum, so this was perfect! We utilized some new vocabulary words and put them into action. (Ingredient, recipe, nutrition, natural were some of our vocab words). The recipe is so simple and can be found at Skinny Taste.

The Parts of An Apple
I put this together with one of the graphics I purchased from mygrafico. I laminated the pieces and cut them out and we put together and identified the different part of an apple and also talked about the stages of an apple.

You can download this Parts of an Apple printable for free here

Apple Sensory Learning

In science we are learning about our different senses, so I made up a little worksheet to compliment what we are learning.

Download Apple Observation Worksheet

A is for Apple Tot and Preschool Pack

This printable had things I was able to use for kindergarten and toddler related activities.

Apple Picking

No apple unit is complete without a field trip the an apple picking field! If there aren't any fields where you live I think a farmer's market would be the next best option.

So ready for October and to move on to pumpkins. Kind of appled out :)

Haben Sie ein schönes Wochenende (Have a great weekend!)

Frau Wright

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Apple Pie Smoothie

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Last week we picked exactly 50 apples on our apple picking field trip. Today we have exactly 20 apples left. That means in the last week our family has consumed 30 apples! That seems like a lot doesn't it? I have been trying to use apples in everything I can think of and this morning I had an idea to make a smoothie with the flavors of apple pie. I did a quick google search and came across a few different recipes and found one from Dinners, Dishes and Dessert as a starting point. As with most smoothies this recipe can be versatile.

Did this taste just like apple pie? Well, no. Flaky, buttery pie crust and warm cinnamon, sugary apples are hard to compete with. But the flavors in this smoothie did blend well enough to remind you of apple pie and it did taste good!

Recipe adapted from Dinners, Dishes and Dessert

Apple Pie Smoothie

2 cups Non Fat Greek Yogurt
4 tsp cinnamon
4 apples, cut into chunks (I used jonagold)
1 banana
1 tablespoon peanut butter
2 cups skim milk 
*note this made enough for 4 smoothies for our family for breakfast
Put everything in the blender(I used a vitamix), and blend until smooth.
Guten Appetit!
Frau Wright

Monday, September 17, 2012

Apple Picking in Mainz

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One of the fun things about homeschool is being able to customize your curriculum to different themes. For September we are using the theme of apples for learning. I found a cute apple picking field in Mainz and we were able to make a field trip out of it with a local homeschool group last week.

There were several rows with 11 different varieties of apples to choose from.

The kids loved tugging the apples right from the tree. It was a great compliment to our apple theme for this month. I had plans of making apple crisp and apple pies all weekend, but our oven is kaput until this weekend. I did however make this Butternut Squash and Apple soup from Ina Garten and we all loved it.

 If you live within an hour or so of Mainz I'd recommend a visit to Appel Happel. You can visit their site HERE for directions, special events and contact info. This coming Saturday (September 22nd) they will be having a big apple festival which looks like loads of fun.

I'll be sharing some of my favorite apple themed activities we have been doing soon!

Willkommen Herbst! (Welcome Fall!)

Frau Wright

Monday, September 10, 2012

Skinny Jeans Here I come!

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Guten Morgan!

Just because summer is basically over and the motivation for a bikini bod has slowly died doesn't mean you should give up on working out and heating healthy. I know big comfy sweater can conceal more than a tank and short, but ever since skinny jeans came into fashion there has been more motivation to keep with a health regime even in the colder months, don't ya think?

With our move and starting homeschool I fell of my health kick big time. I got a little bit more squishy and lost so much of tone and definition that I worked so hard for, boohoo! Trying on jeans just downright sucks right now, especially skinny jeans. I've seen people of all shapes and sizes rock skinny jeans, but I look like a penguin squeezed into denim.

I'm going to do my best to get at least 30min in a day of working out. It might have to be broken up throughout the day, but that's ok with me. My favorite workouts for the last few months have been from Blogilates. Her workouts are perky, energetic AND FREE! I love that she breaks her workouts into categories like abs, butt, arms, etc and each video ranges from 3min-17min. Which means if you only have 5 min in the morning you can at least get your blood flowing and mood enhanced! I don't ever get bored because I mix and match videos and they WORK! Did I mention all her videos are free?

So this morning instead of having muffins, I went muffin topless with this Muffin Top Meltdown workout:

and worked on getting a booty like Pippa with this workout:

I did each video one time this morning and plan to go through each video once again this afternoon. I feel great and it's not even 7am yet!

Goal is to look good in skinny jeans by the second week of October! Specifically these jeggings from Abercrombie

So cute with flats or boots, right?

Frau Wright

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Exploring Castles and Germany's Wine Region

Pin It Now! Last weekend we took a day trip to the magical Burg Eltz castle.

Burg Eltz Castle

The castle is tucked away far into the woods and looks every bit the part of a fairytale castle. From Kaiserslautern it is about a 2 hour drive, give or take how fast or slow you drive :)

Going with young kids is doable, just be prepared. After paying for parking (cost is 1.50 euro) we took the 15-20min walking trail to the castle. It is a beautiful and scenic walk, but I wouldn't suggest pushing a stroller UNLESS you have something like a jogging stroller or phil and teds because it's very rocky terrain.

View from the trail on the way to Burg Eltz

I think there is a shuttle that will drive you to the castle as well, but we didn't know that was an option until we got to the castle :) Either way, if you can do the walk you should.

With my munchkins at the entrance of Burg Eltz

The castle has two restaurants and a gift shop.

You can buy tour tickets at the gift shop and the english tours start in the courtyard about every 10min. 
Courtyard inside the Burg Eltz

The tour is about 40 minutes and is an intimate and quiet atmosphere. Within 5 minutes we realized it would not be a good idea to continue the tour with an explosive two year old, so my husband asked the guide if he could head back with our little guy. The guide was very grateful because he said a lot of times people continue the tour with their screaming kids and it ruins it for everyone else and makes it really hard for him to speak and concentrate on what he is saying. Leelee and I went through with the tour and I would recommend either taking turns with your spouse if you have a small child or just one person do the tour. I am more into the history stuff than my husband is, so he didn't mind stepping out. Besides the castle grounds are really pretty and again there are two restaurants nearby.

After spending some time at the Burg Eltz we took a short 20min drive to the town of Cochem.

Situated along the Mosel river and inbetween hilly vineyards, Cochem is in my opinion, one of Germany's quaintest towns. 

The Cochem castle looks down from high above and sets the tone for the medieval ambience.

Cochem Castle

Another view of Cochem castle. I love the vineyards that surround this castle. They must have had some lively parties here :)
Cochem Castle

Cochem is known not only for it's charm, but it's wine. Several family owned vineyards cascade around the town and along the river.

There is no shortage of cute little restaurants and cafes for sipping local wine and eating local treats.

The enchanting streets and buildings of Cochem are truly intoxicating  and will leave you feeling smitten with the German culture.

If you have a weekend or day to spare in Germany and haven't explored the Mosel region yet, I'd highly recommend Burg Eltz and Cochem. Hope you enjoyed these images as much as I enjoyed sharing them!

Haben Sie ein schönes Wochenende!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Frau Wright

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Our First Day of Homeschool Kindergarten

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Yesterday was our first day of homeschool kindergarten and it went better than expected. I was surprised at how serious we handled the day. It was of course fun, but it's like we both went into different modes. It was more of a teacher/student relationship then a mom/daughter relationship. I was so much more patient with Leelee than I normally am; kind of how a teacher is with a student. And she was far more receptive than she is when she is in daughter mode, lol.

Throughout the day I really had mixed emotions. I had a romanticized idea of traditional kindergarten in my head. The whole... first day of school outfit and the experience of meeting new little friends and recess and all the fun things that happen in kindergarten. I loved kindergarten and elementary school and part of me was wondering if I was doing the right thing. Was I robbing her of these childhood memories?

But then there were moments during the day I felt so happy we were doing homeschool. For one, 9am is a much easier start time for our family than 8:15 am. We are 100% fully ready to by 9am. I love that part. Second, we made cookies for our snack. I thought that was something really special.

Today was our second day and I didn't feel as unsure of myself and our decision to homeschool. After talking to my sweet neighbor she reminded me that things like this don't have to be forever. If we ever want to put her in a traditional school we can. My husband reminded me that we will create our OWN traditions that Leelee will be fond of and always remember. So those comments coupled with the experience of today made me feel a lot better.

Another thing that surprised me was the importance of an actual classroom. I have read many blogs and talked to other homeschool parents who didn't use the space of a homeschool room. For them school is done on the couch or at the dining room table. I was really close to setting up our homeschool day in such a way that we would do our lessons at the dining table. But for us, an actual homeschool room really sets the precedence. It's an atmosphere that as soon as we walk in we know the purpose of the room and the roles we need to have. For our family right now, the room is a big part of our success. Leelee talks about how much she loves her classroom and the last two days as soon as we walked in the room she has been in student mode. That might change as we get older, but that's the beauty of it all. We can be flexible and next year we may be doing school work in the living room. (btw, I hope any friends that read this know I am NOT comparing or even knocking traditional school. I think there are excellent teachers, schools and curriculums. We have our own reasons for why homeschool is right for us at this point in life. But it's definitely not something I feel is better. It's just better for US right now and that's all :)

Although I did set up a classroom for us, it's nowhere near as fancy as some of the rooms I've seen on pinterest and the blogosphere. I tried to not overwhelm myself and just K.I.S.S with the homeschool room since this is our first year.

I bought the monthly calendar from amazon. The rug, little table and chairs are from IKEA. The banner and alphabet letters on the wall I made and printed myself.

If you like these wall letters, you can print them here for free. Just please be kind and do not alter the images and just link back here if you do share the image on your site.

With SO much going on it's essential for me to write EVERY single thing down. I have a lot less stress knowing that dinner and grocery lists are planned and appointments are scheduled right in.

I printed the "week of" printables here.

The calendars can be downloaded and printed here.

I really love this message and wanted something inspirational for myself as well as Leelee in the classroom.

I bought these cardboard storage boxes for IKEA. They were 5.99 euro for two boxes. I printed up these labels so the entire family knows where to put things back and also where to find needed supplies.

I also saw this idea on pinterest for helping to teach time. We haven't gotten to that yet, but I thought the idea was so awesome.

Day two and I don't feel so nuts for taking on such a huge responsibility. I can do this. Sure there will be days we are in pajamas all day. And there will be days I want to pull my hair out. But I think this is going to be worth it all.

Till my next blog post....Tschüs!

Frau Wright