Friday, September 30, 2011

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Tomorrow is the first day of October, and the beginning of my favorite time of the year! I love seeing fall roll around. Know why? I love holidays, family traditions, and the fun of celebrating with my family. When October rolls around I know that I have two kids with birthdays that we will be celebrating, Halloween, Thanksgiving, my husband’s birthday, my brother’s birthday, Christmas, and then New Years. All that holiday fun is rolled up in three months of busyness that I absolutely love.

I grew up as a child of divorced parents, and my holidays were always spent shuffling from one parent’s holiday party to the other. I would open my Christmas presents on Christmas morning, play with them for an hour or two and then shuffle off to my grandparent’s house to open presents with my Dad’s family. Holidays were not fun and relaxing for me as a child, they were busy. I am not saying my parents were wrong, they did the best that they could, but I want more than that for my children. I want holiday traditions that my kids can enjoy year after year.

I am always looking for new holiday traditions for my kids, and am constantly on the lookout for them. Pinterest is a huge time suck for me but is so much fun and is full of great ideas for new holiday traditions. I am also loving American Profile it has a vast array of seasonal holiday articles that offer some great ideas for holidays as well.

For now, let they holiday partying (and planning) begin!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wooden Doormat Tutorial

The other night I was cruising Pinterest (I am a total addict by the way) when I came across this wooden doormat from Martha Stewart Living.

I was in LOVE and had to make one for myself, however I didn't have any rope on hand so I decided to make one using what I had on hand.  I decided to stick with white for mine since my furniture on the front porch is white.



So I headed to our scrap wood pile to find some boards and get started.  We don't throw any wood away you never know when you will need it!

First, I measured the width of my front door to determine how wide I wanted my doormat.  I ended up making mine 42" wide.

I cut three bottom runners that were each 42" long and cut twelve runners that were each 18" long.



I screwed each of the 18" top runners to the three bottom runners.  I put the screws in from the bottom of the mat so that the screws would not show. 

After I assembled the doormat I sanded the loose paint off of the boards, and pained the whole thing white.

Easy, easy no cost project for me! 


But now that I have it in front of the door I see that the door jam needs to be painted.  Which is just great, I get one project done only to have another added to my list!  It's a vicious, vicious cycle I tell you!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Little Man Earns His Bobcat Badge



Boy Scouts

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Boy Scouts of America for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

My husband and I were both raised very differently.  Growing up I played sports, was active in church youth groups, went to summer camp, traveled with my family, and was a Girl Scout.  My husband grew up doing none of those things, his parents just never felt the need for those activities.  In fact he was twenty-seven when he went on his first "official" vacation where he saw the ocean for the very first time.  As our children got older our opinions differed on how important participating in extra-curricular activities were for them.  Yes they are expensive.  Yes, we spend a lot of time running around taking them here or there but in the end it is worth it. 

Little Man joined Boy Scouts of America this year and he is receiving his Bobcat Badge tomorrow night at his pack meeting.  He is so excited.  He has his uniform hanging on his door, ready to put on.  I love the fact that he is so excited about Boy Scouts.  Being a part of the troop has given him so much confidence in himself, and he loves getting to spend time with the friends he has made in his troop.  In fact, joining Boy Scouts helped ease the normal back to school tension, as several of the boys in his Den are also in his class.     

Skateboarder (who is turning 18 next month - WOW) was in Boy Scouts when he was younger, and loved every minute of it.  He looked forward every year to the Pinewood Derby, it was his favorite part of scouts.  He loves working with his hands, and creating his Pinewood Derby car was always a huge deal for him.  We have every single one of his cars carefully wrapped, boxed, and put away.  He worked so hard to create each and every one of them.

One of our favorite things about Boy Scouts has always been how they focus on the family.  At all scouting events the entire family is always welcome.  The leaders have always stressed how they do not want Boy Scouts to interfere with a boy's family life, and that they want the boys to participate with their families.  In fact, in Tiger Cub Scouts a parent or other adult must attend every meeting with the boys.  Since my husband would be attending the meetings anyhow, he decided to volunteer as a leader.  This has given them the perfect opportunity to spend some one-on-one time as well.

Meetings are a lot of fun for the boys.  Our Den meets at a local church on Tuesday nights.  At the meeting the boys participate in a Flag Ceremony, play games, and work on projects to help them earn their Merit Badges.  Since Little Man is a Cub Scout they have been focusing on the boy's relationship with others and the community.  This past few weeks they have focused on how each person in a family plays an important role in the family.  Last week the boys had to choose a chore that they could complete at home.  My son decided to load the dishwasher, a job he had never tackled before, he insisted on doing it completely on his own, with no help from anyone. 

Several of the Merit Badges focus on healthy eating, proper nutrition, and exercise.  With childhood obesity being such a huge problem for kids it is great to see Boy Scouts promoting health living and providing them with opportunities to stay active.

If you have a son or other boy in your life that would like to Be A Scout you can visit theBoy Scouts of America website to learn more about finding a Pack in your area. 

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Blondies Recipe

Sunday night I wanted something sweet to eat.  I didn't want Brownies or anything chocolate, and I was tired so I needed something that was easy to make without too much work.  After much thought I decided on Blondies.

I know there are a ton of Blondie recipes out there, and mine is nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary but I like it, it's simple.  Sometimes there is a lot to be said over simplicity.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups packed Brown Sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a glass 9x13 cake pan.



2.  Melt butter or margarine in the microwave.  Mix melted butter with the brown sugar and sit aside.



3.  In another bowl mix together the flour, baking soda and salt.

4.  Beat the eggs and vanilla into the brown sugar/butter mixture.  Add the flour mixture in a little bit at a time.


5.  Stir the chips in.


6.  Spread the batter into the greased cake pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


7. Enjoy!


I am linking this post up with Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed With Grace.


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Monday, September 26, 2011

Flirty Aprons 50% Off Limited Time

Flirty Aprons is having a Flash Sale and is offering two of their aprons for 50% off.  This is a great deal on these aprons, as it makes them just $12.97 each!

You can choose from the Mint-A-Licious


or Strawberry Shortcake


To get the discounted price go to the Flirty Aprons website using this link and add the aprons to your cart.  In the checkout enter coupon code:  STRAWMINT

These would make great Christmas presents!


www.FlirtyAprons.com

Menu Plan Monday, September 26th to October 2nd


Join us for Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

It has been a very productive weekend around here.  On Friday night we had a cookout with my son's Boy Scout troop where he received his Bobcat Badge.  On Saturday we went shopping, out ot eat at Olive Garden, to church, and then grocery shopping at Meijer where I spent way too much money because I bought what I wanted instead of sticking to my list of sales items.  Then on Sunday we stayed home which allowed us to get the house clean, gave me a chance to work on a project that I will be featuring here later this week, and I even managed to make some Blondies, the recipe for which will also be posted here later this week. 

This will be another busy week for us this week, and I am not going to plan anything for this weekend's meals because at this point I do not think we will be home.  If we do end up being home I will throw something together for those days.

Here's what I have planned this week:
links to recipes are in red

Monday - Honey Thyme Chops, mashed potatoes, corn

Tuesday - Pizza Braid (missed from last week)

Wednesday - Chinese Honey Chicken (new recipe found on Pinterest), white rice

Thursday - Stove Top Easy Turkey Bake (also missed last week)

Friday - Banana French Toast (we love breakfast foods but I am not a morning person, i.e. I don't cook breakfast - so we eat them for dinner from time to time)


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Recipe Review - Honey Thyme Chops

I have realized that I post links to a lot of new recipes each week that I will be using in my weekly menu plan but I never come back to tell how I like the recipe when I try it.  A couple of weeks ago I tried this Honey Thyme Chops recipe from Kayotic Kitchen and it was just too good not to review.


My kids, who can be extremely picky, even loved this recipe.  The pork chops are just sweet enough without being too sweet, and have gained a spot on our family favorite recipe list. 

When I made them I didn't have any orange juice at home, I had put it on my grocery list, and still managed not to get it.  So I used lemon juice (which the recipe suggests as a substitution) instead of the orange juice.  I also did not have fresh thyme at home so I used some thyme from the spice cabinet and it worked out fine.  I cooked ten pork chops so I doubled the recipe, and cooked them on my electric skillet.

I am linking this post up to Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays





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Monday, September 19, 2011

To work or not to work? That is the question!

I mentioned last week I was thinking about picking up some PRN work to bring in some extra money over the holiday season.  Last April I left my full time job to stay at home with my kids.  The work schedule was overwhelming, my husband's (who was in a car wreck in April, 2008 which left him disabled) health was going down hill from the extra work he was doing to pick up my slack, the kid's were missing me, and nothing was getting done around the house.  We have said time and time again that money isn't everything, and that we would rather sacrfice some of the nicer things in life to have me at home with the kids.  We feel this is important, and I had been a stay-at-home mom up until my husband's wreck.  We could pay our bills without my income, and I knew that I could pick up some of my freelance writing jobs as well to bring in a little money (and I do mean LITTLE). 

Well, long story short, I was offered a short term assignment today.  The money is good, the location is good, however the hours are awful.  They aren't just bad they are awful.  Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 12 to 6.  Every week.  This would mean that every single weekend when my kids are out of school I would be working.  I have struggled with this all day, I mean the money would be nice, it would be a great boost over the holidays but I just can't get over everything I would have to sacrifice to take this job.  So I have come to the conclusion I am going to pass it up.  Then I feel guilty for that because it is so hard to find a job right now, and here I am being offered one.  I feel guilty because we could really use the money, it would be a great boost but then I realize how much I would be sacrificing for the money. 

It is so hard to make a decision like this, and I know that no matter what I decide I will feel bad.  Uggh!  I really wish someone could tell me what is the right thing to do.  Sometimes being an adult isn't fun. 

Menu Plan Monday - September 19th to 25th


Join us for Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Well my "let's make out my menu on Friday night" streak is over.  I knew it wouldn't last long, and here it is late Monday night when I am writing out my menu for the week.  It's going to be another busy, busy week so here is what I have planned:

links to recipes are in red



Wednesday - Dry Rub Pork Chops with Honey Barbecue Sauce, Macaroni and Cheese, Baked Beans

Thursday - Rainy Day Chili

Friday - Boy Scouts Awards Dinner

Saturday - Pizza Braid

Friday, September 16, 2011

Little Passports

As a former homeschooler, who is still a homeschooler at heart, I am always looking for educational opportunities for my kids.  I was on mamasource (great deals website by the way, be sure to check it out) and found a great deal on a three month Little Passports subscription.

Little Passports is designed for children ages five to ten.  Each month your child will receive a package that includes letters from the fictional characters Sam and Sofia, along with souveniers and gifts from a different country each month.  It is a great fun way to introduce your kids to the world around us, and makes for a very fun way to learn geography. 

Anyways, back to the mamasource deal - you get a three month subscription, which is normally $54 for just $26.  Plus if you use the code "SEPT15" you can save 15% on your first order from mamasource.  I ordered my kids a subscription, I can't wait to get our first package!  You can check out the deal here

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Leftover Redo - BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

You probably don't remember it but a few weeks ago I mentioned in my Menu Plan Monday post that I was going to do a Leftover Redo for supper and make BBQ chicken using leftover chicken breasts from Sunshine's birthday party.



In fact that entire meal was made up of leftovers from her party.

Here's how I made the BBQ chicken sandwiches from the leftover chicken breasts.


We had about 8 chicken breasts that were leftover.  They already had barbecue sauce on them from where we cooked them on the grill but you can use chicken breasts that are plain, as you will add more barbecue sauce later.

I put all of the chicken breasts in my crockpot and turned it on low.  I let them cook for 3 hours, and by then they were pretty tender.  I used a fork to pull the breasts apart, and then put them back into the crockpot after they had been shredded.  I also stirred in a bottle of store bought barbecue sauce and let the chicken cook on low for another hour before serving them.

This made enough sandwiches for the five of us to each have two, plus there was about a spoonful of leftovers.

I am linking today's post to Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays


which is at At The Well this week instead of Blessed With Grace.



Scrubs anyone?

I have been considering going back to work at the hospital on a PRN basis through the New Year so that I can make a little bit of extra money over the holiday season.  I don't want to go back full-time but a PRN position would be perfect for me.  I have been looking at the uniforms that I have in my closet, and know I am going to be needing some new ones if I am going to go back to work.

I found some really basic cotton ones at Blue Sky Scrubs, http://www.blueskyscrubs.com/,  that I really like.  They are just a simple cotton scrub, which is a big change from the patterned ones I have in my closet.  Lately simple seems really appealing to me. 

But those of you who know my style know I can't stay simple for too long.  When I got to the scrub hats I fell in love with their patterns


The Fashionista Pixie Scrub Hat


Bravada Pixie Scrub Hat

Aren't they cute?



And wouldn't these scrub sets for kids make adorable Halloween outfits?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - September 12th to 18th


Join us for Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

I can't believe it!  Here it is Friday night and I am writing my Menu Plan Monday post out!  That is two weeks in a row now!  It feels as if I am finally falling into a groove with our schedule and it is so nice! 

As I say every week, we are busy, busy this week.  We will actually be adding dance classes to our current bundle of extra curricular activities this week.  We will already be in town for Little Man's soccer practice, so this will just extend our time in town by an hour.

So here's what I have planned for this week:
links to recipes are in red

Monday - Easy Baked Ziti (missed last week)
Tuesday - Chili Cheese Dogs, Baked Beans
Thursday - Potato Soup, Italian Herb Rolls (didn't get to it last week)
Saturday - Eating Out Before Church
Sunday - Salmon Croquettes, Macaroni and Cheese, Baked Beans

Friday, September 9, 2011

Enjoying the Now

As my husband and children sleep in their beds, I am up.  Catching up on blogging, emails, and trying to get some work done.  I love when the house is quiet like this.  I don't get the chance to enjoy it that often, especially during the school week.  I am constantly running taking the kids to school, running back and forth to after school activities, and making sure that everyone is exactly where they need to be exactly when they need to be there.  It wears me down and I often find mysefl wishing I wasn't so busy.  I will find myself wishing for the day when I don't have to do all this running, and then I realize I will miss this.  This time that I have now is so precious, my kids won't always be this age, and when they are grown I will long for these days back.  I really need to just sit back and enjoy the time I have now.  Even though I am busy, I am blessed to have this time. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Four Tier Cupcake Stand Tutorial


Are you sick of this picture yet?  I know I have posted it to a lot of posts since Sunshine's Luau party but hopefully today is the last post it will be popping into.  (However I make no promises.)  Today I am going to post a semi-tutorial showing how I made it.  Let me preface this by saying I have NEVER, EVER written a tutorial like this nor do I claim to be a great crafter.  In fact I know I am a messy, non-patient crafter but I am working on that one. 


I started out with one picee of this Tri-Ply 4x4 underlayment that I bought at Michael's.  It was in the $5 to $8 range, I am not sure how much it was because I originally bought it for another project.  From this board my husband cut a 9" square, 15" square, 20" square and 24" square. 


Ignore the rectangles in the above picture I didn't end up using them.  I also used an old wooden broom handle for the center support of the stand.  We cut the broom handle into three 8" pieces.



Using Gorilla Glue Wood Glue (love that stuff) I took the 24" square and glued one support beam in the center of the square.  I allowed this beam to dry completely before I added the 20" square to the top of it.  I continued the glue, let dry process until I had added the 15" and 9" squares as well.  (I hope this makes sense - please feel free to ask questions if it doesn't).  I didn't use anything stronger than glue because the stand isn't going to be handling anything heavier than cupcakes, cookies, or sandwiches.


We ended up using masking tape to hold everything still until it dried completely.  The 20" square was still pretty wobbly, so we ended up adding cutting a dowel rod into 4 pieces and gluing it onto each corner between the 24" and 20" squares for additional support.  (See bottom picture for more details)


I painted it white with a quart of Porter Paints White Hi-Hide semi-gloss paint.  It didn't take anywhere near the whole quart and covered the wood easily.

Now were I to make it again here is what I would change:

I don't know that I would make it four tiers, I think three tiers would have been more than adequate.

I would have made more a size difference between the bottom two tiers.  Instead of making it 24" and 20" I would have probably made it 24" and 18" but then I would also have to adjust the top two tier sizes as well.

I am linking this post up to We Did It! Wednesday at Sew Much Ado.




Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sandy Beach Cupcakes and a Sunshine Cake

A few weeks ago for Sunshine's Luau Themed birthday party I was on a major time crunch so I needed something easy, easy, easy.  Both these Sandy Beach Cupcakes and the Sunshine Cake were that! 



I made the cupcakes using a boxed cupcake mix.  For the icing I used store bought pre-made white icing that I tinted with Sky Blue Wilton Icing Tint.  I iced the entire top of each cupcake, then sprinkled brown sugar on the other half, and added a little paper umbrella to the top. 

How easy is that?

I hadn't really planned on making a cake to go with the cupcakes but at the last minute (i.e. the night before the first party, we had two) Sunshine reminded me that she had wanted a Sunshine cake and let me know that she was expecting it.  So I did what any good mom would do I made a Sunshine cake.


Same thing here I used a boxed cake mix to make two nine inch circle cakes.  I used a tub of pre-made vanilla icing tinted with Daffodil Yellow Wilton Icing Tint for the icing.  For the sunshine rays I used my cricut to cut out five triangles.  After I iced the cake, I slid the triangles under the iced cake.  I removed the arms from a pair of old sunglasses before putting them on the cake, and used some Black Wilton's chocolate melts (unmelted and straight out of the bag) for the mouth. 

I am linking this post up to Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed With Grace.



Monday, September 5, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - September 5th to 11th


Join us for Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

This is unbelievable!  I am actually sitting here on a Friday afternoon planning out my menu for the next week.  Usually late Sunday or on Monday afternoon I am trying to pound out my menu for the week but not this week.  I won't post this until Monday but none the less I am doing it on Friday!  The main reason being that we live in a rural town and we are going shopping in the "big city" tommorow so I want to get whatever I need then where I can get it cheaper than our local grocery store.

So here is my menu plan for the week:
links to recipes are in red



Wednesday - Turkey Breast (remember the turkey I cooked a couple of weeks ago - we froze one of the breasts after it was cooked), Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, My Grandmother's Green Beans

Thursday - Ham and Potato Casserole (family favorite)


Saturday - Eating Out Before Church

Sunday - Shake and Bake Pork Chops, Loaded Potatoes, Corn

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Luau Party Invitations

For Sunshine's luau party invitations I needed something inexpensive, and easy.  She wanted to hand out handmade invitations so I started searching Google for ideas.  I couldn't find anything that I liked, and finally had a few thoughts in mind when I headed out to Michaels. 

Instead of going with what I planned I found these Rick Rack Cards marked down to $1.99 at Michaels.


When I got the cards home we glued the dark pink square and light pink rick rack edged square together.  We then typed out the pertinent party information on the computer, and printed it out on white card stock.  Which we glued in the center of the light pink square.  It looked a little plain so we used my Cricut to cut out a few flowers using various shades of pink cardstock.  We glued a flower in each of the four corners of the card.


We also glude a few of the flower cutouts to the envelope for a little pizazz.


They weren't what I had in mind but they were much cuter in person, and made my Sunshine happy.  That's all that really counts isn't it?

Friday, September 2, 2011


Have you heard about the Holiday Grand Plan from Organized Christmas

I hadn't heard of it before this year, I guess I am just a little behind, but it is a week by week plan beginning the week of August 28th and leading all the way up until Christmas.  Each week you will focus on a different room/area of your house so that it will be ready for company over the holidays. 

The plan also tackles other holiday related tasks such as a Christmas Card list, your gift list, decorating, Chrismas baking, holiday menus, and much, much more!  I must say for someone as unorganized as me this is wonderful!

This week, which is the first week, is the week that you set up your notebook and work on your front porch.  I will be back later this week to post what I did for the week. 

Is anyone else participating in The Holiday Grand Plan?  If so I would love to hear from you!
....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Vegetable Pasta Salad

This post is not sponsored by Ronzoni, and I have no affiliation with the company. It is just a product that I have purchased and created a recipe with.

I have several boxes of the Ronzoni Garden Pasta that I got for free from Meijer with coupons. I have been trying to figure out exactly what to do with it, and have been researching recipes for pasta salads using it. I couldn't find that one pasta salad recipe that I liked one hundred percent so I decided to come up with my own recipe. I made this for Sunshine's birthday party this past Saturday and it was a huge hit.




Ingredients:

1 Box Ronzoni Garden Pasta

1- 16 ounce bag of California Style Frozen Vegetables

1 cup parmesan cheese

2 cups Ranch dressing

10 to 12 small cherry tomatoes, cut in halves


Directions:

1. Cook Ronzoni Garden Pasta on stove according to directions.

2. While you are waiting on the pasta to cook, cook the frozen vegetables as well.

3. After both pasta and vegetables are cooked you will want to mix them together in a bowl.

4. Add in remaining ingredients, and put in refrigerator until ready to serve. Keep in refrigerator at least forty-five minutes before serving.
I am linking this post up to:




Cooking Thursday at Diary of a Stay At Home Mom