Special Plate

It is fun to celebrate not only major accomplishments, but small victories as well.  To do so, I made this plate at a paint-your-own-pottery joint with my sisters and sister-in-law. That alone was a hoot. I’m no artist and painting on pottery was new to me.  I toyed with a variety of phrases and settled with, “You’re A Big Deal Around Here!”Way to go plate 1 Way to go plate 2There are a lot of reasons one might want to whip this out at mealtime to honor a family member.  The kids feel so special even without an unnecessary over-the-top celebration.

Moms need their space.

If only we were this clever and talented, we wouldn’t have to steal this video.  Alas, we hope you enjoy this as much as we did.  Goodness knows if you can’t laugh at motherhood, you would go crazy.Need some spaceIf you aren’t familiar with the song from which this was parodied, check out Meghan Trainor’s song “All About That Bass”.

Ribbon Wreath

This cute fall wreath was a cinch to make and can be adapted for any décor or occasion. Fall Ribbon Wreath done I was lucky enough to hit the bargain bin and score tons of ribbon for $1 or $2 per spool.  I spent $40 total on 2 wreath forms, a premade burlap flower embellishment, and enough ribbon to make at least 2 wreaths.  Wreaths like these are selling on Etsy for upwards of $65 dollars each!Fall Ribbon Wreath supplies

Materials:

  • wire wreath form (mine was 14.5 inches)
  • approximately 26 yards of assorted ribbon (depending on ribbon and wreath width)

To Make:

I cut my assorted ribbon into 12 inch lengths.  I used 76 12-inch strips to cover my wreath.  I simply tied the ribbon around the wreath form, alternating colors, widths, etc.  Fall Ribbon Wreath processI affixed the premade burlap flower and used additional ribbon to hang the wreath.  Fall Ribbon Wreath Close upIt really was that easy!  And it took no more than 1 hour.Fall Ribbon Wreath outside

 

Kids Chapter Book Bookshelf

As mentioned in other posts, we have a TON of books.  They are indeed my kryptonite and they occupy space in every room in our house.  When my cousin was giving away an old DVD stand, I saw chapter book organization in my future.  Chapter Book Shelf 1The shallow shelves designed to hold DVDs in their jackets are PERFECT for the copious amounts of chapter books the kids have.  Chapter Book Shelf 2Chapter Book Shelf 5The shelf’s slim design also fit nicely on our third floor where we have a barrel ceiling and dormers. Chapter Book Shelf 3Chapter Book Shelf 4 While this shelf does not hold all of our chapter books, we are a bit more organized than before.  I Even plopped an old can on one of the shelves so the kids have a variety of bookmarks at their finger tips.Chapter Book Shelf 6

E. Claire Dessert – Yum!

Lovingly named after Mary’s first child, you’ll love this dessert. It couldn’t be easier…or more delicious.  Bringing this will make you the hit of any picnic, but don’t count on there being any left to take home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg (5.1 oz) vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 cups cold milk
  • 1 tub (8 oz) whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 box graham crackers
  • 1 container chocolate frosting

Mix vanilla pudding mix with 3 cups cold milk and let stand until soft-set.  Fold whipped topping into prepared pudding.  Line a 13×9 pan with graham crackers, breaking if needed to fit pan.

Pour ½ of the pudding mixture onto the graham crackers.  Top with another layer of graham crackers.

Pour remaining pudding mixture onto the graham crackers.  Top with a final layer of graham crackers.

 

 

Remove lid and foil liner from frosting container, and heat for 20-30 seconds in the microwave or until it pours easily.  Pour over final graham cracker layer and spread to the edges of the pan.

Refrigerate until set.  We have enjoyed it the same day we assembled it, but prefer to make it a day ahead.

 

Fill your freezer

With the school year budding and extracurricular activities filling our calendars, this is the time of year that we load up our freezers with ready-to-go main courses.  By prepping meat for dinner and bulking up on breakfast items we can ensure healthy, homemade meals in less time.  P.S. Don’t forget to take it out of the freezer the night before you want to eat it.

Turn dinner into “fast food” by using these tips for the freezer:

  • brown ground beef ahead of time for spaghetti or lasagna
  • brown ground beef and add taco seasoning to make taco night a snap
  • before freezing, toss pork chops in a zip-top bag along with any of a variety of marinades
  • marinate a london broil and wrap it up so that it is full of flavor 
  • put boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a zip-top bag with marinade or barbecue sauce before freezing
  • cut a large boneless pork loin into family-sized portions and freeze individually

Impress your kiddos with a “weekend breakfast” on a school day by using these tips:

  • make waffles in bulk and freeze
  • make pancakes in bulk and freeze
  • make muffins in bulk and freeze
  • make quick breads or coffee cakes in bulk and freeze Some families invest in vacuum-sealing systems for their freezer favorites, but we have not found it to be necessary.  With each of us feeding a family of six, it doesn’t take long to cycle through our prepped items, not giving them a chance to suffer any freezer burn.  We utilize zip-top freezer bags, freezer paper, and aluminum foil.

Here’s to getting organized!

Make your freezer even MORE organized with this idea.

Over The Top Chocolate Cake

This unbelievably moist cake is a chocolate lover’s dream.  Bonus?  Since it starts with a cake mix, it is as easy as it is scrumptious.  ENJOY!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Devil’s Food cake mix
  • 1 (small) box of instant chocolate pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray, set aside.  Mix all ingredients together in an electric mixer until blended.  Pour batter into bundt pan.  Bake for 55-60 minutes.

Cool completely and dust with powdered sugar.  This cake holds its own, but a little vanilla ice cream is a delicious complement.

Ball Workout Trio

 

The exercise ball is a great workout tool that can add endless variety to your workout routine.  The following trio includes an exercise for the upper body, lower body and abdominal muscles as well.

To maximize the benefits of this workout, do 30 repetitions of each exercise and complete the trio for 3 sets.

 

#1 Tricep Extension

Begin with a tricep extension.  Hold the ball with the palms of your hands overhead – arms extended…..

…..Bend at the elbows, reaching for your shoulder blades (see next photo).  Extend arms and repeat.

              # 2  Abdominal Tuck

Position yourself with your thighs on the ball and your arms planted on the ground in front of you.  Using your abs and maintaining a straight back, tuck your knees toward your chest. Return legs to starting position and repeat.

# 3 Leg Extension

Lying flat on your back, bend your knees and squeeze the ball with both legs.  Extend your knees, lifting your feet toward the ceiling.  Repeat.

Stay fit friends!!

Taco Bar – Perfect for Cinco De Mayo or any other Night

Make your own taco night is a staple at our houses, but you can kick it up a notch for Cinco de Mayo or any other night by adding our Simple Summer Margarita and decorating with our Colorful Mexican Paper Flowers.

We serve:

  • soft flour tortillas and hard corn tortillas
  • ground beef, seasoned with packaged taco seasoning (‘cuz it’s easy)
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • lettuce
  • guacamole
  • refried beans (not pictured)
  • Spanish rice (not pictured)
  • tortilla chips (make a great topper if you choose to go the taco salad route)Our kids love this do-it-yourself meal because they get to play a role in their own meal prep.  Our husbands love it because it is delicious and they can get their fill. We love it because it is fun and it is always a crowd pleaser!

Muy bien!!

Cookbook Makeover

We know that like us, you have recipes of all shapes and sizes floating around your kitchen.  And, like us, you sometimes have trouble finding a certain recipe when you want it.  Here is an easy and inexpensive way to organize your favorites so they will always be right at your fingertips.

Materials:

  • 3-ring binder (preferably with a clear plastic sleeve on the front)
  • clear page protectors
  • dividers
  • a pretty piece of scrapbooking paper
  • some pretty adhesive letters  First, decide on the sections that you want to have in your cookbook.  We think “Appetizers”, “Side Dishes”, “Main Courses”, “Desserts”, and “Miscellaneous” are all pretty mainstream.  But you may also want to add “Breakfast”, “Cocktails”, “Casseroles”, or a host of other options, depending on what kind of recipes you have.  Sort your recipes into the desired categories.

The recipes that are full page are easy to slip in.  For your recipes on smaller cards, you can put 3-4 in a sleeve. Now for the fun part.  Cut your scrapbook paper to fit into the clear sleeve on the front of your binder.  Apply the adhesive letters to the paper for your title.  “Good Eats”, “Family Faves”, and “The Cook’s Book” are some cute ideas.  Of course, “Recipes” also does the trick!  Get creative or go classic, as long as your recipes are now safely stored in one place.