Maintain, Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge 2015

I’m noticing a bunch of traffic to my 2013 Challenge, which means it’s that time again!

Yes, it’s the Maintain, Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge, 2015 Edition!

Beginning November 30th, I’m giving you weekly challenges to conquer the holiday temptations and to maintain your health and weight through the season. Final weigh-in is on JANUARY 11, 2016.

Melting Snowmen Cookies

You might feel like this after a hectic holiday season. Melting Snowmen Cookies via http://www.jeannebenedict.com/

BACKGROUND:
Every year, I gained weight during the holidays. Some years, it was ridiculous (yes, 14 pounds in 12 days. I did that.) I became so sick of it because DAMNIT, I worked so hard all year long, then totally blew it in the span of a few weeks. My friend and I started a challenge about 7 years ago: to maintain our weight throughout the holiday season. I think trying to LOSE weight over the holidays is unrealistic, so this challenge is designed to force you to embrace ONE healthy habit every week despite being surrounded by indulgences. Every year I’ve done it, I’ve actually lost weight between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It’s pretty simple, but not necessarily easy. Now that I have 2 kids, I’ve put myself on the back burner. Until now. Though we use weight as a measurement tool, this challenge is about HEALTH. Focus on one HEALTHY HABIT just for YOU each week. Yes, you’ll have major obligations, family demands, cookie swaps, and late-night gift wrapping sessions. So it will be easy to say, “I’ll get to myself in the New Year.” Please don’t wait, mamas. Keep your energy, your vitality, and your spirits up by doing this for yourself this year!

You can do this alone, or with friends, family, and coworkers. We’re getting a later start this year, but I’m carrying the challenge through the week after New Year’s to give you a chance to keep those good habits you’ve established beyond the holidays! Continue reading

I Flubber You: Valentine for Kids (& a Printable!)

***Originally posted February 12, 2014***

It’s a last-minute post, but I *just* figured out how to package this up. You’ve probably seen “Flubber recipes” all over Pinterest. The basic idea is to mix Elmer’s glue, warm water, and food coloring in one bowl, and water and Borax in another bowl. When you combine the two, you get Flubber! We made some over the summer, and the kiddo LOVED it. We had it in a tupperware container, and it lasted for months.

As you’ve seen before, I’m a fan of simple gifts that aren’t necessarily food when giving gifts to classmates. I’m just wary of dietary issues, and creating the expectation that all celebrations have to involve sugary treats! (What a party pooper!) But really, I want to give things that kiddo can help make, and that are an alternative to the inevitable influx of candy. (Trust me, I LOVE the candy…) So I thought giving out homemade flubber would be a great gift for 2-3 (or 4 or 5 or 6) year-olds.

Kids love flubber

Who doesn’t love playing with goop?

Continue reading

Halloween Candy: What We’re Doing

I’ve been in nesting hyperdrive lately, completing projects around the house that have been patiently waiting. Oh, and trying to finish up work projects, and you know, living life. But something on my mind lately is Halloween and handling candy with my sweets-loving 3 1/2 year old.

What to do with Halloween candy

Keep it? Toss it? How long to keep it? Donate it?

Continue reading

Makeover Monday: DIY Greeting Cards a Toddler Can Make

I’ve been meaning to post these a while back, but I figure since Mother’s Day is coming up (hint…hint), I figured this would be a timely post!

I figured out an easy way for your young’n to help make a legible greeting card for any occasion, and it’s quick! You don’t need any artistic skill whatsoever, just a little patience to let the paint dry. The pictures are from a farewell gift for one of my daughter’s teachers. She was wonderful, and was leaving daycare to pursue her advanced degree.

Tutorial: DIY Greeting Cards

Even very young children can make a legible card!

Continue reading

Makeover Monday: An “Under the Sea” 3rd Birthday Party

It’s been birthdaymania at our house this month. My husband and I celebrate birthdays 3 days apart, then 2 weeks later, we have the kiddo’s big day. In my life, birthdays have always been a Very. Big. Deal. My mom would bring us McDonald’s at school to have a special lunch with us on the day, and she always planned fun parties for us, regardless of our age. In fact, I just found the tape (yes, cassette) of MY 4th birthday party, where our favorite kidertainer, Audrey, brought her guitar and sang to us. Unfortunately, I need to hunt down a cassette player to hear it, but how cool is that?

On top of wanting to make it a special day, we weren’t able to have a 2nd birthday because kiddo came down with some mysterious contagious rash/virus thing that caused a 1 1/2-week quarantine. We still baked cupcakes together and opened presents, but there’s something about having friends over, singing over candles, and just making the birthday girl feel special. So this year, I wanted to incorporate some of her favorite things into the party: the ocean, the color purple, and chocolate cake.

I did a lot of digging around and couldn’t actually find much information on activities for a 3rd birthday party. There’s a ton of inspiration out there (ahem, Pinterest) on setting a pretty snack table, but little kids don’t eat a lot, so putting that much effort into overdone treats didn’t seem worth it. So I’ll share our experience and hope it helps you plan your party for your little one(s).

First step: Design the invitation

3rd birthday party invitation

Teal, purple, and ocean for a little girl’s 3rd birthday!

Continue reading

St. Patrick’s Day with a Toddler

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Mommy loves theme days. A lot. It means cute clothes, fun food ideas, and possibly crafts.

This is what I’d envisioned for our St. Patrick’s Day:

St. Patrick's Day crafts, food, and fashion

Thanks a lot, Pinterest, for filling my head with THESE gorgeous ideas. via: Stretching a Buck Blog, LushHome, whatdoiwear, momtastic, and Etsy

Roll eyes, snort, guffaw…that didn’t happen.

Continue reading

Free DIY Advent Calendar for Kids

Now that the holidays are over and we’re deep into January gloom, I can reflect on our first Advent-ure with an advent calendar. (See how I did that?) I wish I could tell you that I had a deep understanding of the advent tradition. In my family, it was just a countdown to Christmas. Some years my great aunt would send us a calendar with a little chocolate behind each day, and most years, we’d move a small teddy bear around an advent quilt. Since I didn’t want to get the kiddo all sugared up every night before bedtime, and I don’t have the skills to make an advent quilt, I decided to go with what I know: Post-Its and doodles.

DIY Advent Calendar

All you need is some poster board, Post-It notes, and markers (maybe stickers too, if you’re feeling crafty)

Continue reading

Hi, I’m Jen. I’m a Projectaholic.

I was trying to think of new names for my stuff…you know, the social media stuff. Committedgifts is indeed a terrible name, but the only one I could come up with that contained my business name, Committed, and no ridiculous Committed1357xxysz.com. Committed makes a lot of sense for who I am and what I do, but that name as a URL was snatched up some time in the early 90’s. So I’m kind of stuck with “committedgifts”…except.

Twitter and Instagram allow you to change your username. It took the usual brainstorming tricks & techniques to narrow down what my posts are all about. I realize I’m all over the place: fitness, gardening, DIY, kid activities, crafts, thrifting, food, travel. That much diversity is kinda bad in BlogLand, but it’s who I am. I’m addicted to projects.

I kind of suspected this, but it was confirmed when I overheard the cleaning ladies (yes, we have them come twice/month, which is the BEST investment for a marriage) saying, “She’s always working on SOMETHING.” The ‘She’ being ME. I start a TON of projects. You know how it goes–you get an idea to solve a problem. You get excited that the problem can go away. You shop, prep, maybe even start, then…another problem pops up requiring your attention.

For example, in addition to my freelance work, I have about 4 personal projects going at the same time (which I agree is cuckoo):

1) Maintain, Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge (I know you’ve been following along!)

2) Advent activities for the kiddo (a post to come when we’re done):

Free Advent Calendar

Use leftover poster board, Post-Its, stickers, and Sharpies.

3) 10-Minute Post-It
    I take 10 minutes, and a Post-It to sketch out whatever’s on my mind. I post to Instagram and collect those sketches (and friends’ sketches) on a Pinterest board. This is more of a side project I started to get the cobwebs out. A whole large page seems to be a little intimidating, but limiting the size and amount of time seems to make me loosen up. #10MinutePostIt

I can stop procrastinating tomorrow

I feel like this every day.

4) And of course, yesterday, I decided to paint the dining room and the socket covers so we look like we have a big girl house.

Fresh paint

Nothing looks sweeter than a fresh coat of paint.

Oh yes, and there are still Christmas gifts for friends, our annual holiday card, and probably another organizing project lurking in the darkness…So. I had to admit it. As someone addicted to projects. I am Jen. And I’m a Projectaholic.

Now you can follow me on Instagram (@projectaholic) and Twitter (@projectaholic). And you can still like Committed on Facebook. 🙂

Toddling Around Spain

We just got back from a two-week trip traveling through Spain with our 2 1/2 year old daughter. I know, poor me. But in the true spirit of being Committed, it did get a little crazy.

Toddling around Spain.

Balloons make everything better.

FIRST. 
I loved the trip. The architecture was amazing, the culture is admirable (drinking and eating all the time! Siestas!) The wine was cheap and delicious. Oh, the food…

BUT.
The kiddo was a handful. She may read this years down the line, so I don’t want her to feel like I’m putting her down. It wasn’t her fault–the 9 hour time difference was rough on all of us. And she’s 2 1/2, which means discovering strong preferences, a desire for instant perfection (well, we never outgrow that, do we?), and just general upsettedness at basically everything. We thought her familiarity with travel might make things easier, which it probably did (but didn’t feel like it at the time).

Toddler dinner in Spain.

Sometimes kiddo had a low sitting threshold.

SO.
For this post, I’m going to focus on how we handled the tears and tantrums. (HINT: Wine. Lots of wine.)

We learned a few things on this trip, lessons that weren’t too unexpected:

  • Lower your expectations for how much you’ll get to see or do each day
  • Respect the schedule, but sometimes stretching it to experience something amazing is worth the crankiness
  • Staying in one place is MUCH easier than hopping cities (duh, but it was worth a shot)
  • Twos CAN be terrible, but they can also be amusing
  • Rely on your partner and take the burden if you’re up to it
  • Talk through your plans first (ie, how are you going to get off the train? Who is carrying the car seat? Carrier on the front or back?)
  • The carseat & baby carrier were helpful. We were glad to leave the stroller at home.
  • Don’t forget that you’re ON VACATION and laugh and enjoy the little things as much as possible.

Continue reading

Halloween, Already?

Halloween in our family is a REALLY. BIG. DEAL.

Actually, we take any excuse to dress up in costume. My husband loves the decorating. I love the candy. The kiddo will hopefully love all of the above.

Since we’ll be traveling this year and missing out on the good ol’ American fun, I thought I’d walk down memory lane and share a few of our costume ideas. I’m sad to not do what we had planned, but hey, I’ll take a trip to Spain over a good costume any day!

The Magician, His Rabbit, and the Assistant

Magician costume for baby

A magical family costume idea for babies or toddlers.

I don’t know where the idea came from–I was trying to find something cute for my then-8 month-old that would work in a carrier and that we could integrate as a family. I found the bunny costume at a consignment shop, and the rest was history!

We won 8 pounds of Vermont cheddar for our efforts. I’m not kidding. We ate it all. Also not kidding.

I wish I’d taken pictures of the making of this, but I’ll try to describe it in simple detail.

Continue reading