Don’t Toss the Tassel

Do you know where any of the tassels from graduations are?  Until a few years ago I didn’t know where mine were.  Well, I guess I knew they were somewhere at my parents.  God bless my mom because she kept everything at their house.  

It’s been almost 20 years since I last lived there and she had tried numerous times to have my brother and I go through things but I never really did.  This summer I was finally ‘forced’ to go through what I think is the last of what was in my room that needed to leave their house.  

Oh the treasures I found!  Posters of Ryne Sandberg, Michael Jordan, BJ Armstrong, Bon Jovi and sooo many New Kids On The Block items.  I whittled it down to 1 box and that box is now in my craft room waiting a permanent spot with me.  

Several years ago my mom gave me a pack of clear glass ball ornaments that had my graduation tassels in them.  The loop of the tassel is actually what loops to the tree to hang it with.  Each year I pull them out and say this year I will decorate or label them.  Each year they went back in the box just as I pulled them out.

Not this year!  This year I actually did it.  I’m done saying someday so much.  

Disclaimer:  Some of the links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  I only recommend sites and products I personally use and like.

Working with ball ornaments and vinyl is tricky.  There is a way in the software to have your image or text curve but it’s more time consuming.  If you are looking for quick and simple then I’d recommend the flat style ornament.

 Flat Ornament

For one stop shopping you can get your Oracle 651 for this project too.

My Vinyl Direct

These type of projects are pretty quick once you have the logo and text figured out.  Getting your design set is typically the most time consuming aspect.  Once it’s set the cut and application is quick.  

There are so many things you can do with ornaments.  You can shred an invitation or paper memento and put it in, or pieces of a baby blanket or hospital wristband from the birth of your baby or adding pictures of a loved one no longer with us.  

If you don’t have the tools to DIY a special project but would like one done I can help you!


How To Make A Christmas Countdown With Kids Activities

Just like you I am a Pinterest addict.  Admitting it is half the battle, right?  As I was looking this year and saw all of the Christmas countdowns and advent calendars I knew in my head what I wanted.  I wanted a combination of it all where you have the countdown with things to do.  I didn’t want one with treats or candy but more activities.

There are a ton of printable activity calendars or cute countdowns with just the countdown and I created one with both that you can use year after year.  As per my usual self I over thought and planned for this project in order for it to be re-usable and also so I could match the activities to days I wanted them on.  I didn’t want to bake cookies on a random Tuesday or drive around to see lights when it was a night I go and workout.

My solution…velcro!!  I’ll show more in a minute on that.

Disclaimer:  Some of the links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  I only recommend sites and products I personally use and like.

I purchased the board at Michaels.  I used a 50% off coupon so I think it was only about $7.  We had some scrap wood from building the shed but for $7 a quick trip to the store is worth it for me.

I also got the chipboard stars at Michaels.

A great site for Oracle 651 is My Vinyl Direct.  They have a huge selection of vinyl and other blank items for projects.

The rest of the magic happened with my Cricut.

I played with the size and layout with scrap paper stars to make sure it would all fit before I actually cut or put anything on.  That is probably the most time consuming part of this.  Once I figured out how it was all going to fit I didn’t do any measuring or anything.  I just laid the stars out and eyeballed it and made a dot with a pen in the hole at the top and went back with the tiny nails to hammer in.

As I mentioned I wanted this to be reusable and be able to plan out when we do all of the activities.  I just typed them out in a Microsoft Word table, cut them out and used velcro to add them to the star.  This way I can plan what day they go on and we can re-use them.  I’m sure there will be changes to some over the years but a lot of them we can for sure continue to do.
You could get much fancier with this but it’s the back so I kept it super simple.

Here is our list this year.
  1. Family Game Night
  2. Build gingerbread house
  3. Ride the Polar Express
  4. Make paper snowflakes
  5. Open a book (I earned a lot of Usborne books for hosting a party)
  6. Go through toys to donate
  7. Open a book
  8. Bake cookies
  9. Visit Santa
  10. Go ice skating
  11. Open a book
  12. Picnic by the tree
  13. Open a book
  14. Watch a Christmas movie and have hot chocolate
  15. Go on a waterslide
  16. Ride go-carts
  17. Play arcade games
  18. Sing Christmas songs
  19. Take cookies to a neighbor
  20. Draw a picture for Santa
  21. Drive around to see lights
  22. Make reindeer food
  23. Watch a Christmas movie and have hot chocolate
  24. Put out treats for Santa and reindeer
Happy holidays to you!

Fun New Websites

Disclosure:  Some of the links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  I only recommend sites and products I personally use and like.

I love finding new and unique items.

As I make more time for my crafting I found a great site for blank items you can personalize.  They have a ton of cute and unique items as well as vinyl.  I love one stop shopping!!

My Vinyl Direct

Sometimes we shop at the same stores and see the same items.  It can get a little boring and repetitive.    This year I was looking for some sport team items for gifts and found the site   Maybe it’s not new to you but if you have someone who loves a certain team this is the place to be.

Big Savings for Big Fans at

Ugly sweaters are a real thing now, who knew!?!  JP even has an ugly sweater day in pre-school next week.  I see them all over in stores this year.  Check out some of these team ones, and it’s more than just sweaters!

These things are so awful they are fantastic! I guess that’s the whole point of the ‘ugly sweater’ thing though, right?

I hope you find the perfect unique gift for your sports lover!
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Healthy(er) Pancakes

Disclosure:  Some of the links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  I only recommend sites and products I personally use and like.

I never thought I’d actually be writing about a recipe.  I do a majority of home cooked so cooking is nothing surprising but I need to follow a recipe.  I don’t just randomly think of ingredients to throw together and out comes a masterpiece.  I guess saying that, there are very few recipes that I follow to a T.

For starters we don’t eat onions in this house so I typically substitute with fresh garlic for flavor.  There are also a lot of times where I’ll say EH, don’t need to do that step.  For example, browning a roast before you put it in the crock pot  I’ve never done that.  For me the whole point of a crock pot is put it all in one pot and be done.  It’s always tasted fine without that step so I save the time and dishes!  Do any of you actually take the time to brown meat before it goes in the crock pot?

We love pancakes here and my main reason is the ease.  I love to make a big batch and freeze some and keep some in the fridge.  It’s so easy to pop a couple in the microwave in the morning.  I had met someone who shared her Healthy Hotcakes recipe with me and over time I’ve tweaked it even more depending on the type of food plan you follow as far as omitting gluten or dairy.

You may be thinking, well Lisa the freezer section at the grocery store has pancakes so why go through the trouble of making them.  Just like anything home cooked vs. mass prepared there’s no comparison in taste.  Home made always tastes better.  Most of you probably have memories of growing up where something your grandma or mom made was so good, right?  I know times are different and we have a lot of conveniences that maybe they didn’t but in my opinion most of the time that’s not a good thing when it comes to food.  Home cooked doesn’t mean you slave in the kitchen all day.

The original recipe shared with me is as follows:

Kipper’s Healthy Hot Cakes

  • 3/4 cup organic whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp. Pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 1/4+ cup organic milk or almond milk
  • 1 fresh egg
  • 1 Tbsp. organic vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. organic butter (melted)
1.  Pre-heat the griddle

2.  Combine all the dry ingredients and mix well with a whisk.  Using a spoon, make a little valley with the dry ingredients.

3.  In the valley, add the wet ingredients and mix well.  It may have some little lumps, which are ok, but if the batter is still a little thick, add a little more milk (sometimes this happens with different brands of whole wheat flour).
As I started using the recipe I added frozen/thawed bananas and blueberries.  I did about 1 banana per batch.  I typically triple the batch.  It was a nice way to hide/combine in fruits for a toddler getting picky.  When I started tweaking the recipe it was just 1 change at a time so I knew if it wasn’t great what the issue was.  
I’ve tried a combination of different flours.  I find that 3/4 cup almond flour and 3/4 cup gluten free flour is our favorite combination.  I’ve done full almond and full gluten free and neither tasted bad, they had a different texture and did taste different but not bad.  The texture was more the concern.  With more almond flour they don’t hold together as well so stabbing a bite with a fork becomes frustrating for a toddler.  
I actually have a hard time finding gluten free flour so Amazon is always a good option.


I also only use almond milk and I just use regular sea salt.  The salt isn’t for any reason, I just have a big salt bottle/grinder from Costco so use it instead of buying something else.  We’ve also switched to using Ghee instead of butter and that substitution is just fine as well.  Blueberries don’t hide well so we can’t have them in the pancakes anymore but the mashed bananas are still hidden.
Here is my version: 

Lisa’s Healthier Pancakes

  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 4 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/4+  almond milk
  • 1 egg (we do use organic eggs)
  • 1 Tbsp. organic vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp. Ghee (melted)
  • 1 mashed ripe banana (if frozen thaw first)
1.  Pre-heat the griddle
2.  Combine all the dry ingredients and mix well with a whisk.  (notice I omitted a step, it’s ok!)
3. Add the wet ingredients and mix well.  It may have some little lumps, which are ok, but if the batter is still a little thick, add a little more milk.   When using bananas that were frozen there is water/juice when thawed so this helps add extra moisture too.  
As you can see these stay thick and fluffy too.

I realized while taking the pictures for the post and editing them that my griddle is looking very loved.  As I got thinking it’s probably a good 18 years old.  It still works like a champ!  I hope it lasts for a long time because if it’s like most things these days they sure don’t make them like they used to!

The Troubles of Clothes Shopping – Stitch Fix Reveal

Fall has hit, more like winter already but I guess that’s the joy of Illinois weather!  As I’m sure a lot of you do this as the season changes you look in your closet and think I have nothing to wear.  As you know I’m not a fan of going to a store to shop.  I happened to get an email from Stitch Fix waiving the $20 styling fee so a few times a year I log in and schedule my fix.  For you Stitch Fix rookies that’s the lingo for what you do when you want to have them deliver a box of items to you. 

I’ve been in enough Facebook groups for Stitch Fix to understand a little about how their selection works and what your request and note indicate.  In your note you can’t write things like no pants or no plaid because the system reads just pants and plaid and then that’s likely what you’ll get.  Although there is a ‘stylist’ that’s supposed to be selecting these and looking at your Pinterest board more often than not they aren’t catching this.  
So, my notes are always pretty vague.  Earlier in the year when we were going to Florida and Disney my note was something along the lines of casual but cute for Disney in Florida in February with layering options.  I had 2 fixes with these type of notes and was happy with my selections.  You can read those reviews here:

My note this time said something along the lines of casual but put together tops for the cold Chicago winter.  I have never been so disappointed with what the stylist sent it’s ridiculous.  It’s not that I thought the clothes were ugly they were just not what I requested at all.
First up is the Skies Are Blue Meden Cut Out Sleeve Cotton Pullover.  This is $68 and size small.  Had the stylist looked at my history she would have seen that I already have this sweater in a different color that was sent in one of my ‘Disney’ fixes.  Also had she read this she would have seen that I wasn’t crazy about it although I did keep it.  I indicated that the reason I kept it was because it was basically free with the discount of keeping it all because I was keeping the other 4 things from that fix.  
Paired with this are the Just Black Cordelia Skinny Jean in black.  The jeans are $78 and size 6.   I don’t need jeans right now and I didn’t love them so for the price I need to love them to keep.  
Next up is the Amour Vert For Stitch Fix Alessandro Silk V-Neck Blouse.  This is $118 and size small.  So, does a 3/4 sleeve silk blouse just scream casual and comfy for cold Chicago weather to you?  Ok, me either.  I have nothing like this on my Pinterest boards and is for sure not the cold weather type of tops I was looking for especially for the price.  No way am I spending that much on a top like this.  I will say that I didn’t hate the top, it fit good and was pretty but was the opposite of what my closet needs right now.
The stylist said to pair the blouse with the Absolutely Ronny Pointelle Detail Cardigan.  This is $44 and size small.  This fit nicely and had a good price point, however I didn’t need a black cardigan.  I do love layering but I didn’t like the style of this.  It was super hard to get the details in a photo but you can see some of the holes in the pattern on my arm (for lack of better terms) and I felt like this was something my 99 year old grandma would wear.  Sorry for those that like this pattern but it just wasn’t for me.  

Last up is the Daniel Rainn Beacon Pintuck Detail Silk Blouse.  The top is $78 and size small.  Once again, does a sleeveless silk blouse meet my request of comfy, casual Chicago winter????  Um, no.  I understand this can be a great layering piece but it’s totally not what I’m looking for.  It did fit well and if I went to an office to work where the attire was business casual this would be a great layering piece.  Although I still wouldn’t pay $78 for it.

Everything went back.  It’s a good thing that this fix had the styling fee waived because I would have had to consider buying something I didn’t really like or need or losing the styling fee.

I know I am not a heavy user of the service but just can’t believe how off this fix was.  After this I went to Amazon to see if their program with the same concept was up and ready and it’s still in invitation only beta testing.

If you’ve tried other companies with the same concept and have been happy with it let me know!

Best Defense…Early Detection

In a world where pink is everywhere in the month of October and donations fly out of pockets I can’t help but cringe.  Organizations talk about early detection and finding cures.  What organization or medical community talks about prevention or reducing your risk???  NONE  ( at least that I hear about)!!!  Why?  If there was a cure (which there is, the masses just don’t get to know these details) these organizations wouldn’t exist.  You no longer need races for a cure, you no longer need pharmaceuticals involved in treatments and all of the people running these companies or organizations no longer get their hefty salaries.  What’s the number one rule in business…make the company/shareholders money.  It’s certainly not lets do whatever is best for everyone’s well being.

Growing up I never really thought of myself as a person to question everything but for as long as I can remember I certainly do that.  I do not just hop on board with whatever I’m being told without asking why, how, what is the end goal or what are the options.  This has certainly been an eye opener over the years but also has turned into a passion.  I love helping people have their best life.  It should be easy and affordable for everyone to live a life they dream of.

As most of you know I am a huge advocate for reducing your risk to not just cancer but all health issues.  There are simple and proven things you can change in your life to reduce your risk.  Did you hear that?!  Are you going to do something about it?  Now, I am not a medical professional and there is a genetic component to cancer however, when scientific research points to links and causes you can’t ignore it no matter what your family history may indicate.

The 3rd Friday in October is National Mammography Day.  They say the best defense is early detection.  As I approached 40 this year I started looking into my options because starting mammograms is what you are supposed to do when you hit 40, right?  Actually no.

Some experts say there is no evidence that they save lives or result in less radical surgery.  There is concern that starting them so early may actually do more harm than good.   Depending on the source, the recommendation is now to start them at age 50 and go every 2 years unless you have a family history that puts you at more risk.  Women under 50 have different tissue and this denser tissue can often times hide the cancer.  Once you are post-menopausal the tissue is more fatty and as a result the cancer it more easily seen.

Again, depending on the source, the statistics for the chances of having breast cancer between the ages of 40-50 and 50-60 are not a significant difference.  Its likely a 1 in 60(something) in your 40’s and 1 in 40(something) in your 50s.  If people start waiting for medical exams until age 50 now because of new recommendations how many cases are going to be missed?

I continue to see the risks associated with them.  Exposure to radiation, accuracy concerns leading to more tests and biopsy’s, they miss cancer in 1 in 5 because some cancers start in the upper/outer area closer to the armpit or lymphnodes and that area isn’t seen in a mammogram.

There is some speculation that the radiation is 1,000 times more than a standard x-ray and that the pressure from the exam can spread cells that are already malignant.  The same speculation is true about a biopsy.

86% of women under 50 who had an abnormal mammogram and were referred for further testing were cancer free.   That is a lot of people who unnecessarily went through the scare of a lifetime.

I had enough information to know that I did not want this done, but now what?

Have you every heard of DITI (Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging), DII or thermography?  I had not.  As I continued to look into it there are many great things about this method.

Taken from

While mammography, ultrasound, MRI, and other structural imaging tools rely primarily on finding the physical tumor, DII is based on detecting the heat produced by increased blood vessel circulation and metabolic changes associated with a tumor’s genesis and growth. By detecting minute variations in normal blood vessel activity, infrared imaging may find thermal signs suggesting a pre-cancerous state of the breast or the presence an early tumor that is not yet large enough to be detected by physical examination, mammography, or other types of structural imaging (3,6,7,8,9).
Certain types of cancers will not be detected (approximately 20%) by mammography for various reasons(10), but some of these cancers will be discovered by DII (3,6,7,8,9).

Thermography is non invasive, meaning there is no contact or pressure.  There is no exposure to radiation.  It also detects vascular changes in breast tissue associated with cancer many years in advance of other methods of screening.  It does also capture the lymphnode area so you will see changes in the upper/outer area.

When you first start you get a couple done over a 4-6 month period so they can get a true baseline of what is normal for you.  Everyone will look different so having a baseline gives them more insight to changes that happen in the years to come.

A thermogram will not find the exact location of a tumor so if something is found then further testing does need to be done.

A tumor has likely been growing for several years once it is detected in a mammogram.  This image shows how the inflammation and extra blood flow are detectable with thermography.

Image result for thermoscan vs mammogram detection rate

Image result for thermoscan vs mammogram

Now that I knew this option existed I knew that thermography was the route I wanted to pursue.   One thing that kept coming up in my research is that thermography is NOT covered under insurance.  Well that’s a shocker, something that’s better for you isn’t covered…too bad you can’t hear sarcasm in writing.  This did not surprise me at all so then you get put in a position of your health vs. your pocket book and this should not be a decision that anyone has to make for any medical situation.  I found a local provider and the cost was $250.  You have no idea how much easier I breathed after hearing this.  I was expecting another digit. The out of pocket range for a mammogram from what I found is 80-260 so this was in the range of what we’d pay anyway.

I had my 1st thermogragy done this month and it is clear.  I am at very low risk.  I will go back in 6 months for another one so we have my baseline but for the time being I am very happy to have found this option and hope to help more of you.

My goal is to help more people know that there are options out there.  In no way am I saying no one should ever have a mammogram.  I do believe they have their place in the whole process of detection and testing.  When you know you have more options you can do your own research and make the decision that is best for you.

Image result for thermoscan vs mammogram

Guide to Essential Oils

Who doesn’t love using essential oils these days?  While they are not ‘new’ they sure have become popular over the last few years.  The problem I have is that there is a ton of unsafe usage floating around the internet.  There are several oils that are very common that are not recommended for use with kids.  Some have a do not use until 2, some 6 and some 10.  Most people (who aren’t aromotheripists) don’t tell you that though.

This post is not about what brand I think people should use or to provide the education.  This post is to guide you to a couple of reference points that I have found to be pretty neutral and not tied to a brand.  I am not a certified aromatheripist so am not qualified to provide usage directions.

The first thing I will recommend is this book.


I purchased this book in 2015 and use it on a regular basis to this day.  It’s not a book you read cover to cover.  It’s more of a reference book.  It has information on each individual oil and it has a fantastic children safety section.  Otherwise you go to the back and look up what you are looking to use an oil for (cough, sleep, facial cleanser etc) and then you see the pages those topics are discussed with which oils to use and how. 

The company that I prefer to purchase my oils from recommended this book.  They are HUGE advocates for proper training and working with professionals for safe usage.  They did a lot of research to find references people can use that is not biased and this book is what they recommend. 

An online resource is Using Essential Oils Safely.  This site and Facebook page is run by a certified aromatherapist.  She has a lot of training and guidelines as well and she also recommends this same book.

I have been through the kids safety in the book and the site and written on the cap of my oils a number.  That number is the age it’s safe to use around kids.  I have a 4 year old so there are quite a few that I do not use throughout common areas of the house and having the caps labeled makes it easy for me to remember.

I HIGHLY recommend this book for any level of essential oil user.  If you are a beginner and not sure where to start or even if you have been using them for years this book will remain a valuable tool.

While I will not make any claims on what oils can do or tell you what to do with them if you ever want to know how I choose to use them in my house I will be glad to share.