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Welcome to The Evolution of Mom. We are real moms, living real life. Sometimes it's beautiful and sometimes it's messy, but it's always authentic. So please, grab a cuppa coffee and join us on this journey of motherhood.

Junk It or Refunk It-Faux Mercury Glass DIY

I’ve been lugging around this windowpane for roughly 8 years.  My kiddo was a pre-walker when I bought it at an antique sale on a rainy, Father’s Day weekend.  It’s been through three moves and I still haven’t done anything with it.  I was perusing Pinterest and it hit me….MERCURY GLASS!  It was a  super easy project!  I even went out on a limb and strapped my Iphone to a patio chair and risked my neighbors questioning my sanity, just to bring you a video to show how easy it is!  And that my friends, is the other big announcement here at TEoM.  We now have our own TEoM YouTube Channel to show you all sorts of fun stuff.  We are so excited to share all kinds of new content with you!

Windowpane Header

But, back to the windowpane mercury glass DIY.  Here’s what I started with.  Pretty plain right?

Windowpane beforeI chose to use Annie Sloan Chalk paint in a color called Arles.  If I haven’t shared this with you enough, I’ll say it again.  I LOVE Annie Sloan paint products.  They don’t require any prep.  Prep takes the pep out of a project and honestly, my attention span isn’t wide enough to go through all of that.  So, I taped off my windows and painted two coats of Arles, letting it dry in between coats.  Then I waxed the windowpane with Annie Sloan Clear Wax and let it dry for 15 minutes.  Then I waxed it with a 50:50 mixture of Annie Sloan Clear and Dark wax mixed together.  I let it dry for a day.

Now comes the fun part.  All this requires is a covered work area, Krylon Looking Glass Spray, a rag and a spray bottle of white vinegar mixed with an equal part of plain old tap water.  It’s super easy and super fast.  Here’s the video DIY on how to create faux mercury glass.  It’s my first ever video so be gentle people and I apologize in advance for the shaking of the spray paint can and the abrupt ending, but my phone died.  You can add as many layers of the Looking Glass Spray and vinegar as you’d like to get the look you want.

Mercury Glass Final

After I finished the mercury glass, I let it dry completely and asked my handyman (Dad) to add a handle for me.  Voila!  I’m hanging this baby up today!  I love the way it turned out.  I may have an old door in my garage that might become faux mercury glass as well.  Stay tuned!

Jen Graphic

From the Other Side of the Desk: Gift Giving

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It’s that time of year again. The gift giving season.

My daughter has already been talking about what to get her teacher. I wonder if this is how my students torture their parents?

Kids develop pretty deep bonds with their teachers and we matter to them. They pay attention to our quirks, habits, likes, and dislikes. We learn their quirks, habits, likes, and dislikes.

We get called “Mom,” “Grandpa,” “Auntie,” etc. We are an important daily face for them for 185+ days. Sometimes they even come back to visit when they are 5’9” and freshmen in high school, just to let you know they are doing well. Or they find you on Facebook, as adults, and let you know that you mattered to them when they were “little.”

My daughter last year struggled with what to get her “best teacher ever.” She made lists, organized them, and finally came up with the gift. LABELS.

Her teacher—my friend, co-worker, and former teammate—was absolutely stunned at the simplicity and usefulness of the gift. (Yes, Big also gave some cookies to go along with it. “’Cause my teacher likes chocolate.”) Her teacher continued to use the labels this year; we got her a lot. She mentioned earlier this year, “I used Big’s labels this year!” Big was thrilled: she made her teacher’s life better.

Gift-giving is personal.

I tell my kids, “Don’t get me anything… Make me a drawing. Write me a letter. Make me a craft.” I mean it. I like knowing how I’ve impacted their lives. One of the best gifts I ever got was a scrapbook of letters from my class…all about how I have done something to help them learn. It has become my “happy file” for when I’m feeling professionally doubtful. (It started me off on the “Mrs. E.’s Book of Love” binder for my classroom; I put EVERY single drawing, letter, note, sticker-covered doodle, coloring page tear-out, and sticky-note into it. The kids love looking through it and asking about past kids.)

Another great gift I got was last year’s “Mrs. E.” Wordle. My student and his mom got a simple frame and created a Wordle of all the words that they could come up with to describe me. It sits on my desk at home.

When I taught in a Title I school as a K, 1st, and 5th Grade teacher, my students did not have money for “gifts.” I was overwhelmed with the amount of “love” I got from them those 5 years of service there. Drawings, pictures, origami, letters, sticky notes. Some of those kids are sophomores in college. I still have their “love” and I look at it every so often to remember them

If you must get a gift for your teacher, as my daughter has informed me we must do (Little has not caught on yet. I have a feeling he will.), here are some useful tips for gift-giving to your teacher.  Do:

  1. Get something you would like to get as a grown-up. Stuffies, softies, and babies are nice, but they take up a lot of room and get dusty in a classroom. Help your child see that they are comfort items for them, but may not be the best fit for a classroom or adult. Have a learning-teaching conversation about gift-giving.
  2. Find out if your teacher has any allergies/sensitivities. I can’t use lotions. I have eczema. My kids have eczema. In past years, I’ve received lotions and soaps and such that I can’t do anything with so they get passed onto thrift stores. I feel guilt about the money you spent and I couldn’t use.
  3. Find out your teacher’s “favorites.” Clothing stores, and shoe stores are places we don’t get to go often because they are expensive. I know I rely a great deal on Goodwill, Zulily, discount, and resale stores. Even $10 feels like a HUGE treat when you are on a limited budget and have to spend on new work trousers, comfy (read: expensive) shoes, and other accessories.
  4. Find out what your teacher likes to eat or can eat. (See above. We live on coffee, tea, and “treats.”) Some of us are vegetarian, vegan, or have allergies/sensitivities. We may not be able to eat the cookies, cakes, and mixes you send.
  5. Find out what supplies your teacher uses the most. Staples, sticky-notes, glue-sticks, and paperclips make us feel like we just the lottery when we get them from the office. Binders not so much. Gift cards to Staples, OfficeMax, and Office Depot are like gold.
  6. Get generic gift cards. Last year, one of my moms rallied the other moms and dads. They collected $10-20 per family that could contribute and they lumped it into a generic Visa card. I was admonished to spend it on my classroom, my family, or myself but to enjoy the money thoroughly and well. They all showed up to give me my treat. THAT was a great gift to see all my parents in one place.

Teachers, feel free to chime in and add your faves to the list. Leave us a comment here or on Facebook, or Tweet us!’

Marcie

Chipotle Cinnamon Sweet Potato Chips

I’m a snacker. I can’t help myself. I get to the middle of the day and realize that all I’ve had all day is a coffee, and my mind just goes to food. I try not to keep chips in my kitchen because if I do, I will black out and eat an entire bag on one of those days. And we all know how that ends…guiltyyyy. Not cool. Years ago, I worked in a restaurant that served Terra chips with all of their sandwiches, and though I wasn’t a fan at the time, I saw them recently in the grocery store and in a nostalgia driven haze, bought a couple of different kinds. I’m not sure what I expected. I guess I’d hoped my grown up taste buds would give the healthier version of my favorite indulgence a second chance. Thankfully I was right. They are de-lish. Less than thankfully, those suckers also run about $4 a bag. Um, no. Sorry taste buds, just kidding. You can’t have them for that price. Does this happen to anyone else? You let yourself fall in L-O-V-E with something before you check the price tag? Gah. It’s a curse, I tell you! Luckily, I’m not a big fan of taking ‘no’ for an answer, even when it comes from the tightwad within, so I set out to make these babies mine for less. I’m happy to report I have made vegetable chips my B—… and I’m sharing the luurrrrve with all of you. Take that, $4 tease!

chips

Ingredients:

2 medium size sweet potatoes (or other root vegetables)

3 tsp salt

2 tsp coconut oil, melted and cooled

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder

(or seasoning to taste!)

Preparation:

Wash vegetables. Slice very thinly. Almost see-through is perfect. If you have a mandolin slicer, USE IT. Trust me. Place sliced veggies in a medium sized pot, toss in 1 tsp salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lay clean kitchen towels or paper towels out on your counter, and stick a colander in the sink. Once your veggies are boiling rapidly, turn off heat and soak for 2 minutes. Strain, and rinse with COLD water. Lay vegetables out individually onto the clean towels, close together, but not touching. Using another towel, blot the excess water from the vegetables. Walk away, and allow them to rest for five minutes. Once they have completely lost any sheen, give them one last quick blot, and then toss them into a bowl with the melted coconut oil, turning gently until they’re all well coated. Place vegetables onto two cooking sheets, again, close, but not touching. Stick the pans in the oven. If yours are too long that you can’t get two pans onto the same rack, cook one at a time, 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables appear mostly dry and crisp. Allow to cool on pans for 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add 1/2 the cinnamon, 1/2 the sugar, 1/2 the remaining salt, and 1/2 the chipotle chili powder. Once cool to the touch, add the chips to the bowl, and top with the remaining seasoning. Toss gently, using a large spoon. Serve immediately, or pour all chips back onto a cookie sheet until cooled completely, and then store in an airtight container. The hardest part of this entire process is really trying not to eat them all at one time. It’s hard! But even if you do, you’re still consuming far fewer calories than you would if you ate an entire bag of your favorite chips. And for way less moolah. Sweet!

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Wonton Noodle Soup

It has been a crazy summer.  Selling and buying a house is not fun. I felt like I had no kitchen for a long time. Always worried about the smells that will be left behind if by chance you got a call for a showing.  So I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus.  Finally our 2 bedroom condo sold and we found our dream home to raise our son (and son on the way) in. Now that we are finally mostly unpacked…I say mostly because there are still those boxes from over a year and a half ago that we have to unpack (I say if we don’t miss it it goes to good will), I am now cooking again. YEAH! Trying to get back into a rhythm of taking pictures though, I’ve been horrible about that.  Also trying to find easy meals that I can prep or quickly make during the week.  So for my coming back recipe I have attempted wonton noodle soup.  There’s this little food place near my job…oh yeah I started a new job too…they do basically asian style soups.  I have become obsessed with their wonton noodle soup, so of course I had to try to make it for myself.  One thing I learned again, I make this mistake repeatedly, I suck at steaming wontons (I use the same methods to make ravioli).  Well it’s a good thing the flavor is there because it taste delicious.  The pork fell out of the wontons, but E says that my meatballs taste good! I would suggest to all of you to buy already made wontons, but I will include the recipe that I used to make them.  If you use already made wontons this will all come together for a quick meal.

wonton soup

Wonton Ingredients:
16oz package ground pork
1/2 tsp corn starch
1 TBSP rice wine
2 TBSP chopped green onions
1 TBSP soy sauce
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1 Package wontons
1 egg beaten

Directions Wontons:
Combine all ingredients through sugar. Fill wontons with 1 TBSP filling, brush edges with egg and seal.  Place wontons in a steam pan.  Steam for 10 minutes.

Or just buy some already made :-)

Wonton Soup Ingredients:
1 32oz container low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
3 carrots peeled and sliced at an angle
1 cup sugar snap peas, cleaned and cut in half
1 large head of bok choy, roughly chopped
1 tsp chopped ginger
4 green onions, chopped
1 small package low mein noodles
Salt to taste
Wonton Soup Directions:
Combine ingredients through ginger in large stock pot. Heat till green parts of bok choy are wilted.  Cook low mein according to package directions.

Serving:
Place wontons and low mein in bottom of a soup bowl, spoon broth and vegetables over top.  Garnish with green onions and more chopped ginger if desired. Salt to taste.
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