Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Re-purposed Photo Hanger

As my hubby was getting ready to throw out a piece of wood from my daughter's old dresser, I probably startled him as I yelled for him to "STOP! I can use that!!" I think he is used to this from me by now though :)

The piece was already a laminate white, which worked fine for me. All I did was glue ribbon to the front of some clothespins to coordinate with her room, and then hot glued them to the board for her to hang pictures on. So easy and a fun way to re-purpose a piece of wood that was about to become garbage.

"Faux" Barn Wood Photo Board Tutorial

Almost two weeks ago, I began this project, and finally I found the time to finish it! It was worth the wait :)

It began with inspiration from this, and changed a little bit to my preferences.

Materials Needed:

6 Balsa boards (these are extremely lightweight so they wouldn't be heavy to hang. They had different thicknesses and I picked one that did not feel like I would accidentally snap it in half.) Also, They only had 5, and being the impatient person that I am, I did not want to wait. So I bought 2 thinner pieces and glued them together and just made that work. Shhh - now you know my secret ;)
Balsa Support boards for the back
Glue Gun and Extra Glue Sticks
Wood Stain and Rag for Applying (I used soy stain in Walnut and applied 3 coats)
Wood Stain Varnish (I used Soy Varnish)
Printed Phrase from Computer and Ballpoint Pen (for etching letters to paint)
Acrylic Paint (For letters - or you could use vinyl lettering if you have the ability)
Mini clothes pins - or whatever size you like
Picture Hangers - obviously, for hanging :)
Assorted Photos

And here's how to do it:

1. Lay out boards how you want them. I staggered mine a bit for the look I wanted. 

2. Hot Glue support pieces to back of boards to hold them together.

3. Stain your wood with an old rag according to stain directions.

4. Print out your saying (this might take some trial and error to find the right size and font you want. I specifically chose a san serif font for painting ease, since painting is not my strong suit). Cut out your words and put them on top of the wood where you want them. (I used small pieces of scotch tape to secure, though that left some marks and I ended up having to re-sand/stain that board a little after, so can't say I recommend using tape!) Very carefully, firmly trace the outside of the letters with a ballpoint pen. 

5. Voila! Now carefully trace and fill in with paint color choice.

6. After applying varnish and allowing to dry, decide how you want the clothespins arranged and glue them on.

7. Add photos and DONE! Admire your new home decor piece - interchange photos as desired :)

I would love to see how your project turns out!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Crafty Front Door Wreath

Yesterday I made a wreath for our front door. I'm in-love with it. I was inspired by this. I used a cardboard letter and wrapped it in twine, made some fabric rosettes, and voila. Oh and I also used the upside down command hook trick on the inside of the door to hang it. Simple project that dresses up our front door :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Addison's 5th Birthday Party {A Hawaiian Luau}

Addison had a hard time committing to a birthday theme this year. Every time we talked about it, she would change her mind. UNTIL she told me she wanted a "hula girl Hawaii party".

You see, this child of mine takes after her mother, and her grandmother whom her middle name is after. She is obsessed with Hawaii. For most of the last year, she has asked me anywhere from 2-5 days per week if we can move to Hawaii. The last time she was there, I was pregnant with G, so she was maybe 18-19 months old --- there is no way she remembers it. What she does know about it, is that the sun shines and it is warm everyday. That she could play outside EVERY DAY there. That she would never have to wear socks there (which is a bit of a battle with her in the colder months...and also one I completely understand). Barefoot is in her blood. SUNSHINE and warmth sound perfect to her. She is a true fish since the day she could splash in the water. So it is no wonder that she has an obsession with Hawaii.

For now, we will continue to vacation in Maui... and have a Hawaiian 5th Birthday party!

I wanted to keep it fairly simple, which was hard - but this theme was so fun, I seriously could have gone nuts, so I had to reign myself in. Originally, I was thinking of fun luau type food, but then I thought about what my 5yr old likes to eat...and it didn't match up. Afterall, this was HER party. So we had butterfly shaped PB&J's (and sub sandwhiches for the adults), lots of fruit...the stuff she really likes.

Every child received a lei when they arrived. I attached cut out hibiscus flowers with their names on them, and below that, their names in Hawaiian. Look up your Hawaiian name here! Why not, it's fun.
The food spread

Sub sandwhiches, Butterfly shaped PB&J's, Fruit with marshmallow/cream cheese dip, carrots with ranch dip. I cut up my first pineapple ever for this party. I know it's not a big deal, but I was proud of myself :)

Chips (had to have Maui sweet onion), Goldfish

Cupcakes (Addison picked funfetti...I don't do from scratch on those). I did however make the buttercream frosting from scratch and that was good and SO easy. I will never buy chemical-ridden store bought frosting again. I added a lot more vanilla, and used vanilla almond milk since we don't do cow milk at our house. Kept drinks super simple with 100% juice capri suns, and bottled water. My kids don't usually get juice, and if they do, they get one of those kinds with the vegetables in it too, and then I cut it in half with water (yes, I am THAT mom), but I had just learned that the Capri Sun's are all clear...which means no stains on my carpet - perfect! Did I mention I also didn't have to buy cups or keep refilling a punch bowl?

And THIS is her hula girl cake. I was quite proud of this lovely lady! Addison was so excited for me to make her one, and I was quite nervous I would disappoint. Ya see, I can't even frost a cupcake pretty... I have tried those special idiot-proof tips, and I just end up having to spread it on with a butter knife...I don't even try anymore. SO, you can see why I was nervous for this cake. Cake decorating is just not my thing - I have a couple friends who sculpt masterpieces out of fondant, but it's not my talent. Oh and it was SO easy!! All I did was use the Wilton Wonder Mold pan. I bought it for $5 off craigslist from a lady who attempted and failed once...encouraging right!?! When she gave it to me, she said, "good luck" with a smirk. Sure glad I didn't let that intimidate me too much. I had full intentions of a practice cake, but that never happened. So I made this cake in the special pan, (which I had to cook much longer than the instructions told me in order to get the cake cooked all the way through) and I bought one of those little legless dolls for doll cakes. I raided Addison's barbie clothes for a bikini top for her to wear. Then all I did was spread green buttercream frosting all over the cake, kind of thick... and then took a fork and used that to make it look like grass. And amazingly, it turned out, who would have thought :) 

Favors for the kids: sand buckets, with Hawaiian temporary tattoos, fruit snacks, each girl got a flower hair clip, bubbles (don't get me started on these...I ordered these bright bubbles that looks tropical and were priced well...and when they arrived, they were the tiniest bubbles I have ever seen. ever. I gave each child two since they likely would blow 6 bubbles each). Oh and each kid got their lei when they got there, so that was kind of a favor too.

For games....what to do with these children!! I came up with "pin the coconut on the palm tree" and that worked well. I bought the palm tree cut out, and then I printed out pictures of a real coconut on cardstock paper. I wrote each kid's name on their coconut so they would be able to keep track of which one was theirs. We also played "Hot Potato" with the bright orange fish in the picture above.

My two blondies. And as our sweet birthday girl waited to blow out her candle, she instead lifted her little brother up and let him blow out her candle - how sweet is that?! She is such a great, thoughtful big sister.

And here is one more of our birthday girl (sporting an "Aloha" tattoo) handing out cupcakes.

Overall, it was a really fun party and Addison had a great time! Now I have less than a month before it's time for her brother's party!

Invitations, cupcake toppers, birthday banner, and favor tag were all DIY and designed by Pink Monkey Prints - excellent, speedy service, great prices, and SUPER CUTE designs :) I just had to print everything and put it together. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Meal Plan 3/18-3/24

I started a new organic produce co-op near our house, so I'm making sure to use recipes that will utilize some of the surprise items we get :) It's kind of fun, and forces me to try new things and new recipes.

{The Menu}

Monday - Grilled Chicken w/kale pesto bowtie pasta & broccoli. I have never had kale, but it was in our share this week, and this recipe was recommended, so we will give it a try!

Tuesday - Crockpot Chicken Taco Soup - I leave out the beer, and top with sour cream and tortilla chips.

Wednesday - Grilled Chicken w/balsamic tortellini, roasted yams, and sauteed veggies. My brother is the genius behind the balsamic tortellini, and it is one of our favorite ways to make it now. Just boil your tortellini until it's cooked how you like, drain and mix with some olive oil and balsamic (you have to play with the ratio to get what you like best), add some parmesan and stir together. Roasted yams will be something new for me to try...they were in our share this week, and not something we usually eat - we'll give it a try :)

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday - Tator Tot Casserole (this made it on the menu because we have everything on hand for it, and haven't had it in a long time).

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Crockpot Turkey Goulash w/tri-color rotini - one of our faves!

What are you cooking up this week?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A New Wall

We have a small space of wall in our kitchen table area that I could never figure out what to do with. My kids' art easel hangs out in that corner (and is used daily), so that made it even harder to figure out what to put behind it. I decided I was tired of it being bare though. I decided to make a couple of cork frames where we can hang kid art, and mixed it in with some favorite sayings.

The "A" is the first letter in our last name, but my daughter is convinced it is there for her, as her first letter in her first name is also "A". Of course it is, sweetie :)

The "Thankful" print, I got several months ago on Groopdealz and just love this saying so much...because it is SO TRUE! I'm so glad it has a permanent wall to display these awesome words now.

The other two are free printables I found on Pinterest. The top one "We may not have it all together, but together we have it all" has kind of become our family mantra. I just put it in a 5x7 Ikea frame that I already had. The bottom one, the family "rules", I originally had in a frame somewhere else, but decided to mod podge it onto a blank 8x10 canvas I had in my craft room.

The Green and Blue cork boards are just unfinished wood picture frames from the craft store. I painted them and replaced the inserts with cork. We can use push pins to hang kids artwork downstairs, or I may later attach some sort of clip on them too.

I am not a measurer for this type of thing. I simply do not have the patience and prefer to wing it. I kind of had an idea in my head of how I wanted everything laid out, and then I just started hanging things where I liked them best. I love the asymmetric-ness of it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meal Plan 2/25-3/3

This week we are taking a mini-vacation mid-week, so keeping things simple and avoiding any grocery shopping by using what's on hand. We also get a date night - he is taking me to my first MMA fight... I am not one for watching people beat the snot out of each other generally, but any chance for an evening out with the hubby is always good :)


Monday - Beef Stew & Corn Bread (aka: comfort food for this cold, windy day)

Tuesday - Leftovers

Wednesday/Thursday - Great Wolf Lodge!!!

Friday - Artichoke Chicken w/veg

Saturday - Date Night :) :)

Sunday - Turkey Vegetable Soup w/Barley

Friday, February 22, 2013

Frozen Banana Soft-Serve "Ice Cream"

I think most of us have seen various "recipes" for this on Pinterest. I did not invent this, and I'm not sure who really did or I would praise them repeatedly, but it is AMAZING. Delicious "soft-serve" without the guilt. Perfect! My whole family loves it and we make a toppings bar to make it fun. (This part adds a little unhealthy to it, but not in comparison to what you would get with real ice cream or frozen yogurt. And technically you can keep this part totally healthy too if you want.)

Bananas (just starting to brown - NOT black ones, but not greenish either)
Peanut Butter (1 spoonful or to your taste)
Dutch Cocoa Powder (about 2tbsp or to your taste preference)

How to make:
1. Slice up bananas in coins and put in ziploc freezer bag. Freeze until frozen. I froze ours last week so they were ready any night we wanted some.
2. Take out of the freezer 10 minutes or so before you are ready to blend. I used this time to cut up strawberries and get our topping bar ready.
3. Blend slightly thawed banana coins... this process takes a bit, I won't lie, but it's worth it. If you have a vitamix or a really great blender this may be much easier for you. You can use a spoon to carefully help the bananas into the blending blades. It also helps to do a little at a time versus filling the whole blender up. Once it gets started it will go from banana gravel to creamy soft-serve. It's magical. If you are really struggling, you can add a tiny bit of milk, but be careful as the consistency without milk is already very soft, so you don't want it runny - we aren't making milkshakes here.
4. Once bananas are completely blended into smooth soft-serve, add the peanut butter and cocoa powder. Blend again until mixed well.
5. Put it in bowls and use desired toppings. (This time we had strawberries, chocolate sauce, caramel, mini marshmallows, and sprinkles as options. In the past we have had blueberries, raspberries, chocolate chips, etc)
6. Serve and enjoy without the guilt!

I love it when healthy food tastes amazing! This is also great for people who can't handle dairy well (myself included). I don't have any pictures of the finished project because we ate it all too fast.

Enjoy and let me know what you think! :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Meal Plan 2/18-2/24

Well this week's meal planning was poorly planned...and then I just did not have time to post it until now (which is pretty much halfway through the week). Sorry about that...life happens sometimes.


Monday - one of my oldest, dearest, best friends was in town from NC, so we had dinner at her parents' house. Hubby took the kids home to bed and I stayed chatting until after midnight. Good times.

Tuesday - This was a swim night, so we are always rushed for dinner. Something quick and easy is key. We had grilled chicken, bowtie pasta, and peas, all mixed together with a little parmesan cheese.

Wednesday - Crockpot Italian Chicken. (3 chicken breasts, bottle of Italian dressing, some quartered red potatoes, chopped up onion, chopped up carrot - I add carrot in the last couple hours because we don't like mushy carrots...it cooks them a little, but still leaves some crispness.)

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - Turkey burgers

Saturday - leaving this open because we have a later afternoon birthday party for my niece and not sure what time we will get home, or if we will likely end up grabbing something while we are out.

Sunday - Italian Meatloaf with red potatoes and green beans

Friday, February 15, 2013

DIY Birthday Board

I made this for my dad last year for Father's Day, after I realized he was using chicken-scratched post-its on the wall of his office to try to remember kids/spouses/grandkids birthdays... And his system wasn't working well (apparently it was my fault he forgot my hubby's birthday since I didn't remind him lol).

Here was a solution. I saw some on etsy, and decided to just make my own. All it took was a small board from the craft store, stencil letters, paint, round wooden disks, some eye hooks/rings, some little stars from the craft store and a sharpie. I included some extra discs too so he could add other birthdays to the board that he wanted to remember.

I think it's working because he hasn't missed anyone's birthday to my knowledge :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My first Annie Sloan Chalk Paint projects...more to come!

We have had an armoire in need of updating for as long as my husband and I have been together. At one point about 6 years ago, I changed out the old brass hardware, but always knew it needed a paint job to truly be a piece we loved. Problem, is I do not like painting furniture...not even a little. I love the finished project, I am just not patient for all the prep work, waiting for coats to dry, blah, blah, blah.

Since we moved into our current home 2+ years ago, the armoire has been hanging out in the garage. We even put it in a garage sale and a lady almost bought it... I'm so glad now she didn't. Everything happens for a reason.

I finally decided I was just going to do it. I was still looking for any possible way out of sanding and prep work, but had accepted that as my fate for this project.

UNTIL...I was informed about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (picture hallelujah playing now). NO sanding. NO prep other than a quick wipe down with vinegar and water. AND quick dry time between coats. Plus you can use it on anything - wood, plastic, laminate, walls, etc. SOLD!!

I googled the only store within 30 minutes of me that carries the paint and off my 2yr old and I went to get my supplies. I quickly fell in love with the color "provence". These little cans of paint are pricey, but they go a very long way. I was able to paint a huge bedroom mirror frame, another large frame, the armoire, and I still have paint left for another smaller project. Bonus points for having no odor and low-VOCs. I justified the cost because I didn't have to pay for prep supplies, and because my time and sanity is worth something. I also had to buy the clear wax, but that stuff should last me a crazy long time, I barely put a dent in the crisco tub of it. I did not care much for using the wax - not sure if it was the odor, or the fact that I didn't buy the $40 wax brush that may have made things easier, but it was not my favorite part.

Without further ramblings, here are my projects, befores and afters:

{The Armoire}
Eventually, I envision a different kind of wine rack system, like one of those wine cubes, but I am going with what we currently have in our house right now. I wanted to make this piece work in our dining room, instead of looking like bedroom furniture. I have no idea what to put on the tiny shelf now, but it looked better with it there. If anyone has suggestions for how to make the shelf useful, I'm all ears. I took off the doors and will use them for some sort of re-purpose project in the future. New hardware was also necessary and it turned out I had to order these online because nothing in the store fit this thing.

{The Chalkboard}
This project has had some stages. First it went from framed art to a chalkboard, and then I decided I was bored with the frame and so that got painted too. I think I am done messing with this one for now.

Next on my list is painting our bedroom furniture, and a clock frame in our great room. I just have to decide on some colors and block out some time!

I promise Annie Sloan did not pay me to write this post, nor do they (or probably anyone else) know who this little mom blogger is, but seriously can't say enough good stuff about this paint!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Relax Jar

I have been wanting to make one of these for quite a while. There are various tutorials I have seen and pinned on pinterest with various names (Mind Jar, Meditation Jar, Timeout Jar, etc) but they are basically all the same. I'm calling mine the Relax jar. A jar filled with glitter that you shake up, and then your child holds it and waits for the glitter to settle (which is supposed to be relaxing) before they come out of time out or chill out.

I liked the idea of this for a few reasons. It is is a nice peaceful way for a child to calm down and it also distracts them from the fit or issue, whatever that may be. And it's fun.

There is one thing I didn't like though. All of the tutorials I saw were made with a GLASS mason jar. While it looked pretty, it did not seem practical for us. Maybe I am the only mom out there (I highly doubt it) that has kids that can get really angry sometimes, but I envision handing this peaceful jar to my raging child and telling them to relax and calm down....and then I envision it possibly being thrown or something and glass jar full of glitter and food coloring shattering all over my house. My kids are not generally throwers, but hey, it could happen... and that is not something I wanted to risk happening. Additionally, what if tiny 2yr old hands accidentally drop this glass jar... I used a Costco size PLASTIC peanut butter jar.

Here is how I made mine:
1 Empty and clean PLASTIC peanut butter jar (clean off label/glue with olive oil)
1 tube of glitter glue (I chose blue)
Very warm water to fill it almost to the top.
Glitter - I just dumped some in, shook it, and kept adding more until I had the look I wanted.
Food Coloring - I used blue,since it is a color that evokes relaxation. I used too much, but it worked out. I always seem to forget (and then am quickly reminded) how little food coloring you need to make a lot of color.
Super Glue - for gluing the lid on. Wouldn't want little hands opening it up - wouldn't that be a fun mess.
Hot Glue - I'll explain why I needed this later. It explains why my lid does not look pretty.

And here is what you do:
1. I filled my jar half full with the water and then added the whole tube of glitter glue.
2. Put the lid on and shake, shake, shake, until it is blended pretty well.
3. Add the rest of the water and glitter. Shake and continue adding glitter and shaking until you have the look you want.
4. Add food coloring until you have the color you like. Then shake some more.
5. Super glue that lid on tight.
6. Now this is where I thought I was done...until I realized my jar was LEAKING every time I shook it. This is not good. And that is probably why everyone used glass jars. The plastic jar when squeezed a little made enough gap at the lid for drops to come out. So... I decided to do some "caulking" with my trusty hot glue gun. I used a lot and made sure it was sealed really good and thick. Now it was not leaking anymore - but it didn't look too pretty. Still, I'd rather have it look less pretty and NOT leak glitter food coloring water all over.

My almost 5yr old wants to make another one and this time put fake fish in it too. I think she is on to something :)

Meal Plan 2/11-2/17

For lunches this week, I made Chicken Salad for sandwiches (at my 4yr old's request), and will be making a pot of turkey vegetable soup with barley added also.

{The Menu}

Monday - Balsamic Cherry Chicken w/fresh sauteed green beans and brown rice

Tuesday - Crockpot Turkey Chili and corn bread

Wednesday - Grilled Chicken w/pasta and veg

Thursday - Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches on Whole Wheat Buns (3-4 chicken breasts with bottle of Archer Farms/Target Hawaiian-Style BBQ sauce and can of pineapple. Cook on low 8 hours. Shredding is effortless after cooking all day. Serve on whole wheat bun with lettuce and other toppings as desired.)

Friday - Taco Pockets (Brown 1lb ground turkey - or beef if you prefer - and mix in packet of taco seasonings according to directions. Using refrigerated biscuit dough, fold meat mixture and some shredded cheese into biscuit dough to make little sealed packets. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until dough is cooked. Top with tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, salsa, taco sauce, etc.

Saturday - Out/Leftovers. We will be out and about at a couple of parties and not sure we will be starving for dinner so will leave this open for leftovers.

Sunday - Beef Stew. One of my favorites this time of year. Comfort food! (2lbs beef stew meat, 1 packet of stew seasoning, 1 can tomato soup, 1 soup can of water, bag of frozen mixed vegetables, 1 medium onion cut up, chopped red potatoes. Cook on low 8-10 hours in crockpot.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Meal Plan 2/4-2/10

{The Menu}

This is one of those weeks that I am trying to NOT go to the grocery store, or at least a very small trip if needed. That being said, our menu is a little on the boring side, but here it is.

Monday - Pasta w/grilled chicken, sauteed zucchini, tomato, and salad. This may have already changed. Found out hubby has to work late tonight and dinners like this are just not fun to make for me and two kids who will pick at it. I can almost guarantee this will get bumped to another night this week and the kids and I will make something more "fun" (thinking pigs in a blanket or french toast?) to go with our Aladdin movie night.

Tuesday - Crockpot Chicken Tacos w/black beans and brown rice. Hands down, one of our favorite meals, pretty healthy, and soooo easy. This makes it on the menu a lot. Throw 3 or more frozen (or un-frozen) chicken breasts in the crockpot with a jar of salsa, and can of rinsed/drained black beans. Cook on low all day (or high if you forget and throw it in later) and then shred (it will practically shred itself). Corn or flour tortillas with brown rice, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, taco sauce or anything else you would want on a taco/burrito. 3 chicken breasts is perfect for us to get 2 meals out of. Adjust according to your family size/preference for leftovers. I usually make the kids quesadillas on these days because they usually won't eat these. Also this a swim lesson night at our house so it is always nice to not have to worry about making dinner on those.

Wednesday - leftovers

Thursday - Crockpot Turkey Goulash w/tri-color rotini.

Friday - leftovers

Saturday - out to dinner/date (this is up in the air depending on babysitting availability, but if it doesn't happen, I know where to put that meal from tonight that won't happen)

Sunday - Tator Tot Casserole w/ground turkey

Monday, January 28, 2013

Recipe: Low-Fat Blueberry Bran Muffins

My dear friend, Annie, shared this recipe with me last summer and I have made it a few times since. These little muffins are good, and they pack a healthy-gut-cleaning-punch of bran. Probably better not eat more than one or two at a time to be safe...and definitely just one for the little ones (don't say I didn't warn you!).

Low-Fat Blueberry Bran Muffins (slightly adapted from this)

1 1/2c wheat bran
1c non-fat milk (I use vanilla almond milk cause we are not cow milk drinkers)
1/2c unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
2/3c brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2c all purpose flour
1/2c whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c blueberries (I use frozen - no need to thaw)
I also add in 1-2 tbsp ground flax seed


1. Preheat to 375. Grease or line muffin tin.
2.Mix wheat bran and milk and let stand 10 mins.
3. In large bowl, mix applesauce, egg, brown sugar,vanilla. Beat in bran mixture.
4. Sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground flax. Stir into bran mixture until just blended.
5. Fold in blueberries.
6. Put in muffin cups and bake 15-20 mins until tops spring back when lightly tapped.

***Make sure to store these in an airtight container in the fridge or they will go bad super fast on the counter. Plus, I really like them cold out of the fridge.

Meal Plan 1/28-2/3

{The Menu}

Monday - Sweet 'n' Sour Chicken Stirfry with brown rice

Tuesday - Crockpot Chicken Taco Soup (I leave the beer out of this recipe - I don't like the flavor it gives and this recipe is AMAZING without it) Quesadillas for kids

Wednesday - Chicken, garlic, sundried tomato pasta with salad and my new favorite homemade dressing - for those of you watching weight, this dressing is the cipycat version of what was on the "skinny" menu at The Melting Pot. (This was on last week's menu but we had more leftovers than I thought we would so we bumped this meal over a week)

Thursday - Hubby's Birthday!!! We will probably go out to eat and celebrate :)

Friday - Spaghetti w/salad and french bread

Saturday - Hubby Cooks :)

Sunday - Superbowl. I am not planning a meal because we will be snacking all day. I may throw on a pot of chili and make some cornbread if we are hungry. 

Since the weather in the Pacific Northwest is grey and rainy this week, I am also making beef stew (in the crockpot right now) and a double batch of last week's turkey vegetable soup (It was AMAZING!!) for lunch options to have on hand. Will freeze any leftovers in serving size containers. I love having hot, hearty soups for lunch when it's cold out :)

What's on the menu this week at your house?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Recipe: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Being that we woke up to dark and gloomy skies today, the kids and I thought it would be a perfect morning for baking...and we really needed to use up some old bananas that had been hanging out on the counter.

I tried a new recipe for banana muffins and the reviews did not lie - it will definitely become our regular one from now and on. I had to add chocolate chips, because well, do I need to explain that honestly?! I never said these were going to be healthy...


1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large overripe bananas, mashed
3/4 c white sugar
1 egg
1/3 c butter, melted
chocolate chips to your preference (add until the batter looks chocolate-chip-y enough for ya)


1. Preheat oven to 350 and line or spray your muffin tin (this made 12 muffins for us)
2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and set aside. (confession: I didn't read the directions well as I was also playing referee to my kiddos, and mixed the sugar in at this step too - they turned out just fine, phew)
3. Combine sugar, mashed bananas, butter, egg in separate bowl.
4. Combine with flour mixture.
5. Spoon into muffin tin cups 3/4 full.
6. Bake 20-25 mins. The original recipe said 25-30...I started with 25, and glad I did because I wouldn't have wanted them in any longer. I would start with 20 mins so you don't burn them and you can always add more time.

You could easily change out half the flour for whole wheat to make these a little healthier. I am not a fan of sugar substitutes (other than honey) but you could experiment with that too. I suppose you could leave out the chocolate chips and add something like raisins, or nothing at all like the original recipe. OR, you could just leave them as is and not mess with a good thing...

Enjoy :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Never deep clean your shower again?!

If there is one chore I dislike more than any other, it is cleaning the shower. I don't know why, but I just don't like it. I'd rather clean 20 toilets than one shower. I have tried the daily shower cleaner sprays (I don't think they work very well). I saw something on pinterest however, that has changed shower cleaning for me.

Now, I'm not sure why they insist on using blue Dawn, but I can tell you that I use my method dishwash soap (cucumber is my favorite, but clementine is awesome too) and it works just great (and smells amazing too).

1. Fill the dish scrubber with half white vinegar, and half liquid dish soap of your choice.
2. Shake it up.
3. Put it in your shower.
4. At the end of each shower (or even just a couple times per week), give the walls, floor, and glass doors if you have them a quick scrub down.
5. Rinse. (I keep a cup in our shower for bathing our little ones so I use that to get areas the shower head won't reach)
** I also keep a Mr. Clean magic eraser in the shower for stubborn build up, but since I have used this method, I haven't even needed it.

That's it. Since I have been doing this method, I honestly have not even needed to use my shower cleaner, because my shower never has a chance to get dirty. I love vinegar...it is an amazing cleaner, and I figure if my dish soap makes my dishes clean enough to eat off of, it can handle my shower for sure.

What shortcut cleaning tricks do you swear by?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Meal Plan 1/21 - 1/27

{The Menu}

Monday - Grilled chicken (love my George Foreman!), bowtie pasta, peas (super simple with what's on hand because I know I will not have time to get groceries until Tuesday)

Tuesday - Chicken, Garlic, and Sundried Tomato Pasta w/salad. Salad with my new FAVORITE salad dressing recipe...can't get enough. It tastes just like the house dressing at the Melting Pot... kind of a honey mustard flavor. Pure delish. And because the ingredients are not highly perishable, it keeps in the fridge well for a while.

Wednesday - Chef Salad (Lettuce, ham, hard-boiled egg, tomato, carrots, cucumber, celery)

Thursday - Sweet 'n' Sour Meatballs and brown rice with veg (Costco meatballs with chili sauce and cranberry jelly to make sauce)

Friday - Honey Mustard Parmesan Chicken with salad (4-6 chicken breasts, 1/4c butter, 3/4c dry bread crumbs, 1/4c parmesan cheese, 2T mustard, 2T honey. Melt butter and add mustard and honey and stir, then combine parmesan and bread crumbs in another bowl and stir. Dip chicken in 1st mixture, and then in breading mixture on both sides. Bake at 375 about an hour.

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Turkey Vegetable Soup (1lb ground turkey - browned, 32oz can chicken broth, 1 package frozen mixed veg, 1 package Knor's vegetable soup mix, 2 cans diced italian style tomatoes, mushrooms and crushed red peppers optional to taste. Put all ingredients in crockpot on low, or bring to boil in pot on stove and then simmer for an hour.)

What are you having this week?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Meal Plan for 1/14 - 1/20

{The Menu}

Monday - Turkey Italian Meatloaf (Favorite family recipe: 1lb ground turkey, 1/2c chopped onion, 1 egg, 8oz marinara, 1/3 cup oatmeal, 1tsp seasoning salt, 1/4tsp black pepper. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly, bake in ungreased small loaf pan for 1-1 1/4 hrs), Alexia oven-reds potatoes (freezer section, often with organic stuff - SO good!), salad

Tuesday - Leftovers

Wednesday - Grilled Chicken (love my George Foreman), brown rice, sauteed zucchini

Thursday - Turkey Chili (was on my menu last week and I didn't end up making it... 1lb ground turkey, 1 medium chopped onion (or frozen chopped onion, minced garlic (equivalent of 3 cloves), 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can drained and rinsed kidney beans, 1 cup water, 1tbsp chili powder, 1tsp cumin, 1tsp oregano, 1tsp coriander, 1 tsp red chili flakes. Brown the meat in a little olive oil and then throw everything in the crockpot on low all day.)

Friday - Crockpot Italian Chicken (found this one on pinterest and made it one other time. I just use normal chopped carrots versus baby. I thought it was pretty good and the hubs loved it. I thought next day leftovers were even better than the first night too)

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Hubby cooks...he's making a turkey vegetable soup :)

What's on your menu for the week? I'd love to hear what's cooking in your kitchen too!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meal Planning & Meal Plan for week of 1/7-1/13

I thought I would start posting my weekly meal plan here...since I make one every week, figured maybe someone else could benefit from some ideas for dinners too. I will link to or include recipes when possible.

While I plan meals specific for each day, on occasion the day will come and that meal doesn't sound good - I reserve the right to flip my meals around through the week, but usually follow the menu pretty close. I try to do at least one crock pot meal per week, and I also like to make things that allow for leftovers - we can make another night's meal, or often eat them for lunch.

I have tried meal planning more than one week at a time, and I just don't like it - that's just me. I could maybe handle two weeks, but still prefer one. I usually know our weekend plans one week out so can account for dinner guests, or dinner out - two weeks out I sometimes don't know yet what the second week's plans will be. You have to do what works for your family though - I know people who plan a month out at a time and it works for them. I also know people who meal plan out breakfasts and lunches, but that is a little much for me :) I have a chalkboard on the front of our fridge that I write our weekly menu on so we always know what's for dinner.

Making a meal plan has been absolutely essential for my family for several reasons:
1. It is MUCH easier to eat healthy meals when you have it planned out before you are in starvation mode (on that note, don't meal plan when you are hungry...it is similar to grocery shopping hungry, though not quite as dangerous.)
2. It is EASY and takes out the guess work. It takes me maybe 15 minutes with my super organized recipe binder to pick out meals for the week, and I won't end up staring in the fridge at dinner time wondering what to make. I also try to add in a new recipe to try about every week.
3. It saves money on groceries. Seriously. Once I have my meal plan complete, I make a grocery list based off my recipe ingredients and it eliminates a lot of purchases of things that "look good". And I never end up standing there ready to make a recipe and realize I am out of one of the ingredients. It also eliminates the need to run to the store for that one ingredient (which, if you are like me, means leaving the store with 10 things you didn't need at all). A little plan and prep goes a long way. I also try to plan entire weeks (like this week) where I plan meals based solely off what we have on hand already.

{Meal Plan 1/7-1/13}

Monday - Leftovers from the weekend

Tuesday - Crockpot Turkey Chili (1lb ground turkey, 1 medium chopped onion (or frozen chopped onion), minced garlic (equivalent of 3 cloves), 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 can drained and rinsed kidney beans, 1 cup water, 1tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, oregano, coriander, red chili flakes. Brown the meat in a little olive oil and then throw everything in the crock pot on low all day.)

Wednesday - Parmesan Chicken (new recipe to try this week) with broccoli and bow tie pasta

Thursday - Meatballs & Rice (We buy the frozen pre-cooked beef meatballs from Costco. Heat some up with teriyaki sauce on the stove, add frozen veggies to the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, serve over brown rice)

Friday - Pizza and family movie night (Often we make our own pizzas, but this time we are using some coupons from Papa Murphy's...our favorite pizza!!)

Saturday - Crockpot Salsa Chicken tacos (Throw 2-3 frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot with a jar of salsa and can of drained and rinsed black beans. Cook all day on low or if you get started later, cook on high. Shred the chicken and serve in warmed corn or flour tortillas with sour cream, brown rice,shredded lettuce, tomato, cheese (and taco sauce if you are like my hubby). One of our FAVORITES that I make a lot because it's soooo easy!! The leftovers make excellent nachos and taco salads if you get tired of tacos.

Sunday - Hubby cooks (The hubs volunteered to cook every Sunday to give this mama a little break - isn't he the best?!)

The one challenge I have been having is forgetting it is a crock pot day until about noon when I am making my kids lunch and no longer have enough time for the crockpot dinner meal to cook. My new approach is setting a reminder on my phone so that I remember at breakfast to get the crockpot going. Works much better for me.

Happy meal planning :)

I'd love to hear what's on the menu at YOUR house too!