Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tutorial: Formatting Addresses for Labels

Every year, I’m the sucker writing addresses on Christmas cards at midnight. This year, I put in about 45 minutes of effort, formatting my addresses properly and voila!  Labels to peel and stick! It would have been worth it for this year alone, but that formatting process just saved me for years to come.  If, that is, I can remember how to mail merge next year. My angel sister Noelle walked me through this mail merge process step by step. I’d had 3 failed attempts following online tutorials before this, so Noelle really save the day. So to help myself, and to help you (Merry Christmas!) I’m writing down a step by step tutorial to save you time and decrease your stress in December:

1.     Open a new excel spreadsheet and label the top:
This is important to label the fields with identifiable labels for mail merge in row 1.

2.     Now input all your address, one after the next following the chart. City, State and Zip must be in separate fields. For column A “Last Name” you can just input whatever you want on the first line. First name, “The Tanner Family” or whatever you want to appear on the first line.

3.     Now save your excel file in a place and with a name you’ll be able to easily find. I labeled mine 2017_Address_List and put it on my desktop!

4.     Go open a new document in word and go to Tools> Mail Merge Manager.

5.     Start at the top with step 1.  Create new “Labels” Now select Laser and Ink Jet, Avery Standard, and I used number 8660- they are made for Avery clear address labels.  I wanted to mail my cards out the same day, and didn’t plan ahead properly, so I just used Avery full page sticker paper I had on hand and used the 8660 formatting. I printed 130 addresses and it ended up requiring 4 pages. My plan for next year is to buy the 8660 pack on Amazon (Best price!) and just save the rest of the pack in my Christmas décor boxes so I have them when I need them!

6.     Now to step 2 on the Mail Merge Manager. Get List> Open Data Source. Now find and select your excel address file.

7.     Now this box will appear. Select each field and fill in so it looks like this:
Select Last Name, enter down, Street, enter down, then enter City, comma, 2 spaces, State, enter down, and then for the zip code space over all the way to the end of the state entry. Click okay! Now your formatting will appear in your document. Exciting! If you need to make changes to that formatting, click the pencil box under step 2 in the mail merge manager.

8.     Now I skip steps 4 and 5 (Im not filtering out anyones addresses) and go to 6. On my version of word, I click “Merge to new document.” And it will magically put all your addresses into a new document. Now save this doc as something you’ll find next year. Next year you can either edit this already merged/formatted document, or you can edit/update your address list in excel and do a new mail merge using this tutorial!

9.     Now to print, Noelle suggested that I insert and print one sticker paper at a time. Sometimes printers jam and you don’t want to jam up those papers one after the next! I printed one at a time and it worked just fine!

10. Stick them on, and enjoy your night drinking cider and sitting by the tree instead of running a handwriting assembly line! Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Lemonade Stand for Moms + Kids in Need

We feel so lucky to live in a home where we have a safe and comfortable place to sleep, good food to eat, and clothes to wear. I want to teach my 3 year old, Tatum to be grateful for these basics, and realize that not every little girl has so much! Together, we decided to earn some money and give it to moms and kids who need the money more than we do. I found a local safe house for women and kids called Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence where they accept cash donations.

With an abundance of fresh lemons in our backyard, we invited some friends over to first make fresh squeezed lemonade, and then sell it on a popular river trail.  The girls picked the lemons, carried them inside, and then juiced about 2 cups of lemon juice all on their own, taking turns between each lemon. They added the sugar and the water, and Claire worked on the sign! 

The kids did such a great job telling passerby about their lemonade.  It was so fun to watch them become more confident with time, using their loud voices to announce, “Fresh lemonade!  Lemonade for sale!  The money goes to moms and kids who need the money more than we do!!!”  Lots of people walked right past, but lots of people also stopped to talk with us.  One man complimented the girls on their efforts to help other people and look outside themselves.  Paraphrased, he said, “In this world we live in, it is so important to help people who have real needs.  I am so happy that the next generation is learning to help too.  It is pretty easy to just to think about yourself, so it is nice to see you kids thinking about other people instead.” 

There wasn’t a fixed price per (Dixie) cup, but we did ask for a donation to our cause.  Thanks to some generous donors, the kids raised $29.45 in an hour of selling.  We spend most days running errands and playing at the park, so getting outside for an activity with a greater purpose was refreshing for everyone involved! And the lemonade wasn't bad either!

It feels good to help others, and I’m happy Tatum could experience how it feels to serve others with her time, talents, and the money she raised with her friends.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Fake insta January 2016

Bubble time!  Tatum got a severe reaction to something (bubbles, maybe?) that made her scream and cry in terror for 1-2 hours before and while she peed.  It was horrific.  Shrill constant screaming, zero sleep, writhing, kicking, gnashing of teeth... you get the idea. After a full day, I took her to the ER where getting a clean catch of urine was nearly impossible.  Catching 2 tablespoons of urine that night is my greatest mom accomplishment to date.  It was an absolute nightmare. Turns out is wasn't a UTI, just an irritation, so we still don't know what caused it.  But no more bubble baths until the end of time-- I can't afford to take chances.  She got a medication that numbed her urine so it wasn't "spiky" on its way out, but it took about the same amount of convincing and tears to get her to take it as it was to have the urine come out burning.  And the medication dyes everything it touches yellow, so parts of the car seat (where I strapped her in to force it down) the kitchen chair, our clothes and her hair are still dyed.  A month later.  Anyway, glad that drama is over, it was a REAL ringer!!
We went to the Monterey aquarium for our anniversary/just for fun.  We call it our family birthday and Tatum LOVES it!  I was entranced by the jellyfish, I'd like to have some as a pet.
This is the one million gallon tank-- its pretty impressive!  So. Many. Fish.
January was the coldest month (I can say that now that its Feb and consistently 75 and sunny.  Monterey is really beautiful, we can't wait to take our bikes down for a ride along the coast!  It's about an hour and twenty minutes from us.
Our SUNBEAM! She is in class with all her friends and likes her teacher.  Rumor has it that her first Sunday in primary they asked for a volunteer for a prayer and Tatum shot her hand up (she loooves to pray) but then when they called her up and she realized the magnitude of this ordeal, she went silent and nervously pointed at the girl next to her to cover for her!

Heart attacks for our sick friends!  T loved being sooooo sneaky!  
We have a punch pass at a gym for 1 hour of free time.  The tramp to foam pit is the big hit, but she also loved getting inside a circular mat and having me roll her around the open gym.  
We were the only people in Santa Cruz!  54 degrees and nobody touches the beach!  We had great parking and a fun time running, digging and playing hopscotch!
Our friend Brenda visited from NYC, and we took her to the Redwoods at Big Basin.  The drive up was super windy and we had to take a few breaks, but once there it was awesome!
I've perfected my lava cake recipe.  It's pioneer woman-- follow the directions exactly.  Best served with berries and Costco's vanilla ice cream!
We went to dim sum with Brenda in SF.  Scott's been trying to get us there for ages, so it was finally good to experience it!  We found some great dishes!
My little bear :)
We got bikes! Thanks Mom and Dad for the Christmas gift!  We are so excited to be able to ride as a family and always have Tatum keep up! It's a great system and we have plans to ride in Monterey and across the bridge!
Chloe and Olive with their big sisters do preschool!
We took a trip out to sacramento to see BeeGee and Ken and Kathy!  Always a good time.
The Jones' pool is closed for the winter, but Tatum still went fishing!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Fake Insta - February

I feel that I've been over gramming lately.  It's because I have such good memories/happy life that I want to share my good times.  So instead of over gramming, here's a photo dump with captions.  Enjoy!

Chloe grew out of her sleep sack, but it is her cue that it's time to sleep.  I couldn't really find any extraaaa long sleeps sacks to buy and I don't particularly love shopping, so I made one!  This was a great use for a KAM snap at the top-- I feel like I can make anything now that I have a KAM snap kit!
 Our friends Brandi and Andrew are a really good time.  She cuts Scott's hair regularly and they sometimes sit with us and help with the kids at church.  But she's due with her own baby this week, so our game nights may be ending...
 I felt like a great mom for waking up, having nothing to do, and hauling the kids to the beach.  It's about an hour away.  Chloe ate a bunch of sand, and Tatum build "sand cakes" and all sorts of other restaurant quality meals to serve me ;)  We were home by 3, and I magically still got a nap out of both girls!
I still have to sort of convince T to go to dance each week.  She LOVES the dancing part, and dressing for it, but doesn't love that there are no moms allowed.  She has lots of friends but wishes I were at least sitting in the back so she could turn around and give me a thumbs up every few minutes!  The class is half tap, half ballet, and there is a recital for which I paid way too much money for a costume.  It better be cute!
 This February.  Man!  We have it really really good.  It feels especially rewarding when I see NYC's weather and know that I am not pushing my stroller uphill through slush in negative degrees.  We took a risk moving out here, and boy is it paying off!
That little Chloe.  She is playing more and more and as long as T is in a good mood then they get along great!  T entertains her at the table, she loves turning Chloe into a "Chloe pizza" and eating her up, or rolling her across the room, which C does actually love.  Generally, Tatum wants any toy Chloe has, and is frequently going in her room for some "personal time" and slamming the door so Chloe knows she isn't invited.  Chloe just stands at the door outside, slapping her hands against the door and lighting up as soon as T opens it just to check if she's still taunting her, before slamming it shut again.  Im just praying for Chloe's little fingers the entire time...
 Hand foot and mouth hit our house.  NOT FUN.  This picture I uploaded was on the healing day... it was a lot worse than this a few days prior.  Open sores all outside her mouth, inside her mouth, arms, hands, feet, and diaper area.  And 103 fever with it. Luckily my mom came to save the day and helped take care of the kids and disinfect the house!
 Miss Chlo's valentine!  She is such my little love.
 I'm convinced it doesn't get better than our backyard.  We have worked really hard to turn it into a great living space and after 6 months, it is finally somewhere we constantly go to enjoy. 

 Love this shot. So Chloe:

Stay tuned for the January photos!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Chloe Paige - 8 months Old

Little Miss is doing great!
She is our little love, and growing up every day!
Inspired by Tatum's Christmas photo shoot with the same tights, here are a few of Chloe girl:

She kills me.  Just love this little one! 

I have a feeling that blue wall is going to come in handy for photos with little blue eyes! 

Chloe is on an all-veggies diet (part of my "good child eaters" plan) and loves green beans, carrots and corn.  She still nurses 3-5 each day and loves going in the ergo on outings.  Anything she can find goes in her mouth, I vacuum at least every day if not multiple times a day! 

She is gaining more of a voice and wants to be more involved than she was at 6 months, but she still has a comparatively (to Tatum) calm demeanor and just loves any attention we give her.  Her hair is most definitely red, coming in just about the same shade as T girls.  We love our baby Chloe!!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Potato Leek Soup

When Scott and I were first married five years ago, watching Top Chef was a highlight of our week. He enjoyed the competition factor, and I desperately needed the cooking tips!  Since then, we've taken the Top Chef University online cooking course together, which is where I learned that Panera isn't the only way I'm going to get a good soup! 

Potato Leek Soup
(Adapted from Top Chef University)

4-7 slices bacon
2 TBSP butter
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 leeks, sliced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leafs
1 pint vegetable stock
1 pint heavy cream
2 green onions for garnish
salt and pepper

I've found that with soups especially, it's good to have your ingredients prepped before beginning since things go pretty quickly and require your attention once you start.  I begin by putting the bacon in the microwave for a few minutes while I peel and chop two large russet potatoes.  The potatoes should be bite size!

Then finely slice two leeks and two shallots.  If you haven't cooked with leeks before, this is a great time to start!  I like to think of them as larger, milder green onions.

Be sure you save the bacon grease and add it to your soup pot.
TIP:  Use scissors to cut up the bacon!  But do save a few strips of bacon whole to use as garnish on top of the finished soup if you'd like.

Heat bacon grease in large soup pot.  Add sliced leeks and bacon.  Cook for about 3 minutes, then add sliced shallots and butter.  I season generously with salt and pepper at this step.

Now it’s time to add the herbs. Add thyme by stripping leaves off the sprigs, bay leaves, and garlic. Stir for a minute, then add cream and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Seasoning between steps is what "builds" and "layers" the flavors.

It's time to add a half cup of veggie broth. (I have used chicken broth too since that's what I had on hand, and it tastes great as well!) While the potatoes cook through, the cream will cook down. Continue adding stock until you're at a consistency that looks good to you. I like my cream/broth on the more watery side.

Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Also, go ahead and remove the bay leaves so they don't make it into someone's bowl! Top with a strip of bacon and a few slices of green onion.  Enjoy!