Tuesday, September 29, 2009


As life tends to throw curve balls, I have found myself rethinking how I spend my time as a mother. Every day is piled with "obligations" and appointments. This past weekend, my sweet Aiden said, "Mom, can I miss preschool tomorrow and just go to the Dinosaur Park with you?" I have realized that life sometimes spirals out of control to the point that the things you plan to "enrich" your children's lives ends up overshadowing what is really important: quality time as a family. With that said, I am going to be taking a break for a week or so to reevaluate my time and what I should be doing. May you be blessed in all that you achieve. I look forward to posting again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ham Fried Rice

I LOVE Chinese food, but often can't afford take-out. To remedy this, I have started making my own Chinese. One of my favorite recipes is ham fried rice. It is so easy to make and my family gobbles it up! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Rice, cooked and cooled. (Refrigerate for 2-3 hours until cold)
Green onions, cut into small pieces
Ham, deli sliced and cubed
2 Eggs
Soy Sauce
1 pkg. fried rice seasoning

Any other vegetables you'd like (more restaurants use peas and carrots, but my family isn't a huge fan. Feel free to use what your family will eat.)

1. Start by cooking your rice. I usually use 2 cups of dry rice. This will make PLENTY! Once the rice is cooked, spread in a 9x13 pan. Place in fridge to cool.

2. Once rice is cooled, place in a large wok or deep pan. Add green onions and other vegetables.

3. While mixing the rice and vegetables, add the fried rice seasoning packet. (I only use about 1/2 a package. You may use more or less according to your tastes.)

4. Add soy sauce to the rice mixture. This is your decision on how much to add. I usually add 1-3 teaspoons.

5. Now, push rice to the sides of the pan, leaving a hole in the center. Crack open the eggs and put in pan. Scramble the eggs and allow to fully cook. Mix into the rice.

6. Add the ham. Continue cooking rice until everything is warm.

7. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fairy Skirt

Here is another quick Halloween costume starter. I made this one for Caitlyn's fairy costume. Be creative and add as many layers as you'd like. This one is fairly short in length because Caitlyn isn't walking yet, but I'm sure a really long one would be SO fun for your little princess.

1. I started by measuring Caitlyn's waist. Then, using 3/4 inch elastic, I sewed it into a loop.2. Next, I folded up some tulle and cut it into 3 inch wide strips. (Watch the remnant bins for tulle. You won't need very much, and the bargain price can't be beat!)

3. Take the elastic ring and stretch over the back of a chair to give you space to work. (I used a small children's chair for this one, as the elastic was too small to fit over our kitchen chairs.)

4. Now, fold the strips in half and tie around the elastic band. (Take the tulle strip, fold in half and pull through the loop made when you folded it.) I doubled up my strips to add fullness to the skirt. Repeat this process until the elastic band is completely covered.

5. Remove the elastic from the chair. Tighten the tulle strips by hand. I added some small 1 1/2 inch wide strips of pink to accent the skirt.

I am using the purple butterfly wings that I bought for Caitlyn's birth announcements with this costume. I also used the leftover tulle strips and made a large bow. I am going to make a headband and attach the bow using a clip. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bucket Ghost

I decided that this year I would decorate our yard for Halloween. My kiddos are SO excited to see what kind of projects we come up with. Here is the ghost we made today. We are going to make 7 of these to hang from our front porch. I hope you enjoy it!

Items Needed:
1 gallon bucket
Electrical Tape
White garbage bag
Wire snips
Drill with 5/32 drill bit

1. Using the wire snips, clip the side of the bucket to remove the handle. Set handle aside.
2. Turn bucket over. Using the drill and drill bit, make new holes for the handle.
3. Attach handle in new holes.

4. Take the electrical tape and make eyes and a mouth. Place on bucket.

5. Tape the garbage bag on the inside of the bucket. Cut into strips.

6. Hang outside to welcome your ghosts and goblins!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake

I have a great friend who has a wonderful blog. I recently tried out a recipe posted on her blog. It was a Chicken Cordon Bleu Bake. Let me tell you--it was AMAZING! The best part is that is makes two full 9x13 pans. I ended up cooking one pan for my family and freezing the other one for later. I decided that instead of taking the time to retype her recipe, I would just link the recipe for you. Take a minute and search her older recipe posts. You are sure to find something amazing to try! Happy cooking.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Board Book: Part Two

I have gotten quite a few questions about the board book project that I posted previously. I must admit, it is taking me a lot longer than I had anticipated due to the fact that I must work on the pages during nap time (which is almost non-existent in our home right now.)

SO, to help answer your emails, here is what I am doing with the board books: I-Spy books for Christmas. Here is a preview of some of the pages for the book.
These photos are a 7x7 format, so they will fit nicely on the board book pages. Since my boys can't read on their own and I want these books to be "quite books," I decided to use pictures for the finding page, rather than words. Below is the second page for the book. I'll post more photos as I finish them. I am doing a "toys" page, a "lego" page, a "book page" and many more! Hope this inspires you to find a use for the blank board books. Enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Costume: Train

With Halloween just around the corner, I decided to post some ideas for fun, quick, inexpensive costumes. I don't have pictures of each step, as I did these long before I had a blog. Feel free to ask questions if something doesn't make sense.

Choo-Choo Train

(2) cardboard boxes.

(You will need a larger box for the main part of the train and a smaller one for the front of the train.)

(1) Empty oatmeal container

(2) Empty butter or margarine tub, with lids

(1) Margarine or butter tub lids

(2) Small bowl lids

Electrical Tape

Spray Paint

Yellow Construction Paper

Duct Tape

1. Spray paint the two cardboard boxes in the same color. (I used blue)

2. Spray paint the oatmeal and butter container silver.

3. Using a sharp knife, cut off the top half of the oatmeal container. I cut off approx. 4 inches from mine.

4. Using duct tape or construction adhesive, attach the two boxes together to form the body of the train.

5. Remove the flaps from the larger box so your child can stand inside.

6. Spray paint the margarine tub lids and the two small lids. After they have dried, use electrical tape and form the spokes on the wheels.

7. Now, using electrical tape, attach the painted margarine tub to the top of the oatmeal tube (use the larger piece of the tube. This will form your smoke stack.)

8. Attach the smoke stack to the smaller cardboard box.

9. Take the remaining piece of oatmeal tube and measure the lid. Cut a piece of yellow construction paper to fit inside the lid. Place lid on the container. Now, attach the container to the front of the smaller box to form the head light.

10. Attach wheels to boxes using construction adhesive or duct tape.

11. Form straps from duct tape folding duct tape in half so no sticky sides are out. Attach straps to the inside of the larger box.

12. Decorate the train with any other things you'd like.

13. Complete the look: wear some overalls and a bandanna. Our great neighbor let us borrow a real train conductor's light for trick-or-treating. It was lots of fun!

P.S. If you want some cute photos of your little ones in their costumes, check out my blog for a great special. www.smith-family-photography.blogspot.com

Friday, September 18, 2009

Freezer Peaches

After my apple post, I received several emails with questions regarding how to freeze peaches. The process is much the same, but a little more effort is required to remove the skins.

Here is the process:

Wash the peaches in luke-warm water.
Boil a pot of water.
Dunk the peaches in the boiling water for 30-45 seconds.
Remove from boiling water.
Place peaches into a tub of ice water.
The skins should peel off easily.
After removing skins, slice peaches and remove pits.
Prepare the syrup as listed in the apple post.
Let syrup cool.
Place sliced peaches in freezer safe containers.
Pour cooled syrup over peaches to cover.
Freeze as usual.
When getting ready to use peaches, drain off syrup. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Well today I....ummm.....yeah.....OK, I got nothin'. When my brain freeze is over, I will post again! Hope your day is FANTASTIC!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Freezing Apples

Apples are in rich abundance this season. My family loves eating them year round in cobblers and pies, but we often can't afford the higher prices on apples later in the season. To remedy this, I called up my "idea-rich" daddy and asked him how he freezes his apples for later use. Here is the recipe. There won't be any pictures added until later, as our apples aren't quite ready for pickin' yet. Hope you enjoy it.

Items Needed:
Apples: peeled, cored and sliced
2 qts. water
4 cups sugar

Add water and sugar to large pot. Bring to rolling boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add apples to plastic freezer containers. Pour liquid over apples, leaving 1/2 inch head space for expansion. Place in freezer. When getting ready to use, defrost apples, drain liquid and use in pies, cobblers or any other recipe that calls for apples. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chicken Tip

With the case lot sales starting this week, many people become overwhelmed with the thought of buying 40lbs. of chicken, but still don't want to pass up the great price. Last case lot sale, I purchased 80, yes, 80lbs. of fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts. (Who could pass up $1 per pound?) To make my purchase worthwhile, this is what I do....

1. Place 8-12 chicken breasts in a crock pot (more or less depending on the size of the crock pot.)

2. Turn on low heat and cook for 6-8 hours.

3. Pour entire contents (meat and juices) into a kitchen-aid mixer.

4. Using the paddle attachment, turn on the machine to shred the chicken.

5. Remove shredded chicken from mixer bowl.

6. Measure in to vacuum seal freezer bags and freeze for later use.

This has been a LIFESAVER for my family. It saves so much time and mess later on. You can also remove some chicken before it is completely falling apart and cube it. Freeze as mentioned above for later use.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Closet Bow Hanger

As a newcomer to the whole "baby girl" thing, I have found myself with lots and lots of hair bows and headbands that need a home. I have seen the bow hangers that go on the wall, but I don't want to make the kids' room too "girly," as all three of my kids are in the same room right now. So, after a few days of thinking, this is what I came up with: a closet hair bow hanger. This was my prototype and ended up being a little more frilly that I'd like, but I used what I had on hand...so use some better colors and fabric when making yours!

Items Needed:
Empty formula can
Fun paper
10" fabric

1. I started with the liner for this project. (Just to remind you, I am NOT a seamstress. I have never sewn anything like this before....so I'm sure there is a better way out there to do it.)
*There will be no instructions for this, as I just winged-it! Feel free to ask any questions.*

2. After sewing the liner, I threaded ribbon through the top seam in the bag. I used a safety pin to guide the ribbon.
3. Using some ribbon, I fastened two LONG strips on each side of the can. I then covered the can with paper.
4. Add the liner to the can.
5. Take the two long strips of ribbon and tie around the closet bar.
6. Attach bows to ribbons and place headbands in the can.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Cereal Box Paper File

In an effort to become more organized, I have been looking for inspiration to help keep everyday items out of the way. I have seen these everywhere, but have never taken the time to make my own....until now. This paper file is for my preschool construction paper. I plan on making some retro ones for my bills, papers, etc.

Items Needed.
Empty Cereal Box
Scrapbook paper or wrapping paper
Glue stick or double-sided tape

1. Cut one side of the cereal box on an angle to form the edge.
2. After cutting one side of the box, take the piece that you cut out and lay it on the opposite side of the box to form a template. This will ensure that your edges are the same.

3. You now have the basic shape for your paper file.

4. Using scrapbook or wrapping paper, cover your box with the paper. Do NOT use liquid glue to cover the box. Your paper will warp and bubble. I used scrapbook adhesive tape to cover my box.

5. That's it. Mine is really simple and basic, but it would be fun to add embellishments, ribbons or fun tags to yours!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Whipped Tub Paints

My boys love, love, LOVE the tub. One of their favorite things to play with is colored shaving cream, but it can get expensive. I decided to "whip" up our own colored tub paints to replace the shaving cream in a can. It took a few times trying out different ingredients, but in the end, simple and easy always seems to win out. Plus, these paints smell great and the kiddos get squeaky clean while having fun. I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Items Needed:
(1) bar of soap
1/2 c. warm water
Food Coloring
Cheese grater
Food processor
Plastic cups
Electric mixer

1. Take the bar of soap and grate into a bowl.

2. Take the shaved pieces of soap and place in a food processor. Blend until soap is a fine powder. 3. Pour 1/2 c. warm water in to a large mixing bowl. Slowly add 1/4 c. of the soap flakes while beating with the mixer.

4. Continue to beat until mixture resembles whipped egg whites.
5. Spoon soap mixture into individual cups.

6. Color as desired. (I used 2-3 drops of coloring per cup.)

7. Now, GO HAVE FUN!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Taco Bake

Quick and easy seems to be the theme at our busy home lately. Dinners tend to fall into this category quite often when my husband is out of town. The following recipe is one from my Aunt Liz that I have loved since I was a child. My own children now love it and it is so easy to make! Enjoy!

Taco Bake
1 lb. hamburger, browned
2 cans tomato soup
1 pkg. taco seasoning
2 soup cans of water
1 bag nacho cheese chips, crushed
Shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 35o degrees. Brown hamburger, rinse well in hot water. Return to pan and mix with taco seasoning until well coated. In a baking pan (I use a 9x13 glass pyrex dish,) mix hamburger, 2 cans of tomato soup and 2 soup cans full of water. Add grated cheese and chips. Mix well. Add more grated cheese on top. Cook for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted.

*Fast-n-easy tip. I precook my hamburger, rinse it really well under hot water, lay out on a paper towel to remove excess water and then measure in to 1c. portions and freeze. This way, I can just grab a bag of meat from the freezer and begin cooking. It saves a lot of time, energy and mess! I use the frozen meat for tacos, spaghetti, enchiladas and more!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Preschool: Squares

My boys are starting preschool this week and we couldn't be more excited. My Aiden is going to a preschool two days a week and I am going to be team teaching with some great moms for Branson's preschool. In an effort to be prepared for our lesson this week, I thought I'd share some ideas for our weekly theme: squares. There are so many fun ideas to choose from, so I'll just post a few for you to enjoy. (The target age for the lesson is 2-3yrs.)

Square Songs.
1. Using large, square cutout shapes, sing the following song:
"Put your square in the air,
Hold it high and keep it there.
Put your square shape on your back,
Now put it on your lap.
Put your square shape on your toes,
Now hold it on your nose.
Hold your square shape in your hand,
Now everyone will please stand.
Wave your square shape at the door,
Now lay it on the floor.
Hold it high and jump, jump, jump
Now throw it way, way up!"

Square Crafts.
1. Using colorful paper, cut out several different sizes of squares. Let the children glue or tape them on a white paper to form a picture. Show them before hand a sample of square flowers, houses, people, etc. Let their imaginations run wild!

2. Take four craft popsicle sticks and form a square. Let them decorate it with markers, foam stickers, pom-poms, etc. You can use it as picture frame for their square craft listed above, or you can take their photo and place in the square.

3. Using inexpensive sponges, cut them into squares. Allow the children to sponge-paint squares onto paper.

4. Take a cutout square and glue it to a craft stick. Put eyes, a nose, mouth and hair on the square to make it a stick puppet.

Square Activities.
1. Tape squares on the ground in a line or circle. Let them hop, crawl, run, etc. on the squares. You can also play a cake-walk type game with the squares.

2. Hide square objects or cutouts around the room before class. Let the children run around and find all of the squares in the room. Have them place them on a table for everyone to talk about.

3. Take turns holding up everyday objects and ask, "Is this a square? How do you know?"

In addition to some of the ideas above, we will be tracing squares, counting the sides on a square, learning that a square has equal sides and we will have some square snacks. Have fun with your children and teach them the great things about squares!

Monday, September 7, 2009


It will soon become evident that I LOVE Dr. Suess books. On a recent reading adventure, my children and I read "Bartholomew and the Oobleck." My boys got the biggest kick out of the sticky oobleck in the story. I decided to make them some of their own oobleck to play with. I hope you enjoy it!

(2) plastic cups
Stirring stick (I used a popsicle stick)
20 Mule Team Borax
Food Coloring (optional)
School Glue
2 liter bottle

1. Start by measuring out equal parts of glue and water in separate cups. You can decide how much you would like--just make sure that you have a 50/50 ratio. Set aside.

2. Using the 2 liter bottle, add 1 cup of the borax. Fill bottle 3/4 of the way full with water. Shake bottle for 5 minutes until borax is dissolved.

3. Now, using the glue and water previously measured out, combine them together into one cup. Add food coloring if desired. Mix well using stirring stick.

4. Here comes the fun part! Slowly add the borax solution a few drops at a time while stirring. The mixture will instantly begin to thicken.
5. Continue adding borax until oobleck is the consistency you'd like. (I did mine really stiff so it won't stick to carpets, tables, clothes, etc.)

6. Remove oobleck from stirring stick. Rinse under cold water.

7. Play away! Enjoy this fun recipe!


P.S. Borax will be used in a future post on making your own laundry soap! Keep it handy for later.

Late Posting

Hello Readers! I am burned out from a busy weekend. The result of this is that there will be no post until later today. I don't have the energy to stay up and do my typical 1am posting tonight! LOL. Thank you for keeping up with this blog. I look forward to seeing your comments on future posts. Have a fantastic Labor Day!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Menu Planning

With new changes in our family budget, it has become even more essential that I plan out our meals. This simple practice cuts down on buying prepackaged foods on impulse when shopping at the store. Here are a few tips for menu planning:

1. Check the ads. Look for items that are on sale or that you have coupons for. Plan your meals around these items.

2. Keep the "basics" in stock. These items can be: cream soups, pasta, beans, canned veggies, and flour, sugar, salt, etc. Having these items on hand can enhance any meal and add variety to your diet.

3. Plan multi-meals. I am all for cheap and easy meals. To help with this, I often cook more than I need of an item and use it on more than one day. For example: I will cook a pork roast on Monday and serve with potatoes, carrots, etc. I then take the leftovers, shred them and make sweet pork salads the next day. This gives us variety to our meals, but half of the work!

4. Stick to your menu plan. This is perhaps the hardest thing for me. My moods change almost daily and this can change how I feel about cooking. I have learned that I need to stick to the plan and follow through with our menu to stay within our budget.

5. Organize your menu list. I found a free pdf file for writing down your menus for the week. It can be found here or you can make your own.

6. Make your shopping list for the week of meals you have planned. If you prefer to shop twice a month or even once a month, make sure that you have planned out meals for the entire time. For fresh produce, make a note on your shopping list and plan to pick up ONLY the items that are perishable at the store during the week that you are going to use them.

7. Review old recipe books. I find that I get in a "recipe rut" when cooking. I tend to stick to the same 5 or 6 meals that I am confident in making. You'd be surprised how many great recipes you can find when looking through your cook books. Also, be adventurous and try a new recipe once or twice a month. You might find a new favorite!

Anyway you look at it, menu planning can enhance your dinner experience. Try a few different ways and plan what works for you. Good Luck!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Birthday Tradition

As a very sentimental person, I often think of ways to incorporate special meanings in everyday objects. Clutter and knick-knacks cause stress in my home, so when thinking of ways for my children to remember their birthdays and those who came, a practical solution was a no-brainer. My husband and I decided to start a "birthday book" tradition with our children.

For our children, we have chosen the theme of Dr. Seuss books. I grew up with Dr. Seuss books and my children are quickly falling in love with them as well.

This is how our birthday book tradition goes... Each year on their birthday, I purchase a Dr. Suess book from the store. (Watch Kohls carefully. About twice a year they have a $5 book sale for their charity program. At least one of the two times the books will be Dr. Suess. They typically have a selection of 3-4 books to choose from. I buy one of each and keep for upcoming birthdays. If you miss the Kohls sale, shop online. Amazon has great deals on books and often their are coupon codes and free shipping deals monthly.)

At the start of the party, I lay the book down on the table and announce that we would like everyone to write a special message to the birthday boy or girl in the book. Let your guests be creative--some write on the front/back pages, while others choose a special page in the book that matches their personality. Make sure all guests write a special message. My boys have had so much fun with their birthday book tradition so far. When we read our nightly stories, they frequently choose their special birthday books. Sometimes, we skip the story and just read the special messages from those we love. I can't wait to see how many great birthday books we come up with in the future!

*If you want to start your own birthday book tradition, Dr. Suess has some great books to get you started. For our very first birthday book, we used "Happy Birthday to You." It is a FANTASTIC Dr. Suess book that most have never heard of. You are sure to love it!

A few other great Dr. Suess books that are less familiar, but are some of my favorite, are: "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" and "I Wish that I Had Duck Feet."

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Felt Food

One of the many home made Christmas gifts I am making for my kiddos this year is felt food. We have been working on a playroom downstairs, and eventually it will have its very own kitchen for my kiddos to play in. So...thinking ahead to this time, I decided to make them some felt food to play with. Now, keep in mind that I haven't been sewing for more than a week and my skills are severely lacking.....BUT, hopefully you can at least get the idea of how this all works and make your own using your amazing sewing skills!

Here are the two types of food that I made this week: orange slices and fried eggs.

Orange Slice.

Take two circles of felt in different sizes. I used orange for the larger circle and yellow for the smaller circle. Cut the small circle in half.

Using a straight stitch, sew the small half-circle to the larger circle, as shown below. Repeat this process for both half circles. Next, sew "slice" lines along the yellow half-circles.

Fold in half. I then used a zig-zag type stitch to close up the orange slice to resemble a rind.

For the fried egg, I just cut out an egg shape using white felt. I then cut out a small circle out of yellow felt. Using a straight stitch, sew the yellow circle to the white felt. Leave an opening to stuff a small amount of batting to make the yolk of the egg. Close the opening with a straight stitch. Finally, sew around the edge of the egg to give it a finished look. I made 6 of each for my kiddos to play with. Feel free to alter this however you'd like. Be sure to check back later for more felt fun. Such as... bacon, sandwiches, pizza, fruits, and more!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More Fondant Fun

As most of you know, my Aiden turned 4 this month. For his party, we wanted a Spiderman theme. This required me to think outside the box for his birthday cake, as I like my children's' birthday cakes to be different from the usual. Here is what I came up with. I hope you find inspiration from this post and that you become adventurous and try fondant out for yourself! For the "buildings" , I baked (2) 9x13 and (2) 8" cakes. I did the bottom cakes white and the top cakes chocolate to add variety. After trimming the cakes, I stacked them together using frosting.
Using the colored fondant that I made prior to baking the cakes, I rolled the fondant out to a size large enough to cover the bottom cake. *For larger cakes, this quickly becomes a 2-person job. To prevent the fondant from tearing when transferring, have a helper handy! I used a great friend, Desirea, who also made the yummy frosting to hold the cakes together. Thanks Des!*
After covering both cakes, I stacked them on top of each other. (Straws were inserted into the cake base underneath the fondant to add stability.)
For the windows on the building, I rolled out black, white and yellow fondant. I sprinkle corn starch on the counter tops to prevent sticking. Using a sharp, non-serrated knife, cut out the shapes. Place shapes, uncovered, on a corn starch coated cookie sheet. Let sit out overnight for best results.
After pieces have sat overnight, use frosting to attach to the base cake. I then used some black icing to pipe the spiderweb on top of the cake. For added decoration, I also put spiderwebs on the candle holders.
This cake was SO much fun to make. It turned out great and it ended up being different from the "normal" party cake. Fondant seems scary to most people, but it is a lot of fun once you get the hang of it!

Monday, August 31, 2009

"Chicken-Cow Place Nuggets"

If you were to ask my boys where they love to eat, they would both say in unison: "The Chicken-Cow Place!" (Chick-fil-a.) As you can imagine, with a strict budget, eating out can become very expensive. To fix this dilemma, I started making our own nuggets like those served at the "Chicken-Cow Place." I hope your kiddos enjoy them as much as mine do!

Home style Chicken Nuggets

Chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. seasoned salt
Sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 c. margarine or butter, melted
1/2 c. milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a baking sheet (I use a large stoneware pan,) pour 3/4 of melted margarine on to bottom of pan. Spread evenly.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a gallon ziploc bag. In a medium sized bowl, mix milk and egg. Next, dip cut up chicken pieces into egg mixture. Transfer chicken to ziploc bag. Shake to coat chicken generously.

Remove chicken from ziploc bag. Place on butter-coated baking sheet. Place in oven for 35-40 minutes. Halfway through baking time, remove the chicken from the oven. If there are any dry patches of flour on the chicken, use the remaining butter to coat. Watch closely. Baking times will vary depending on the size of the chicken pieces.

I obviously didn't watch mine closely enough! LOL.*

These nuggets are great with home made rice-a-roni, corn, and a yummy dipping sauce. I usually mix honey and ketchup in a small bowl to make the dipping sauce. My kiddos (and hubby) eat these right up! They are a huge hit at our house. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekday Blog

So...I am turning this into a "weekday blog." Weekends have quickly become a time to catch up on everything that has piled up over the week. To help alleviate some stress, I will now have postings M-F and will take a break on Saturday and Sunday. I hope you are enjoying this blog so far! Happy Reading!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Finger Paints

We LOVE doing art projects in our family. Here is a new favorite for my kiddos: finger paints. This recipe is super easy and lots of fun.

*Make sure mixture cools completely before giving it to children.*

1 cup flour
4 cups water
Food coloring
Dish Soap
Small containers

1. Combine flour and 1 1/2 c. water in a medium saucepan. Mix well until smooth.

2. Slowly add remaining water

3. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture reaches a full rolling boil.

4. Hard boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

*Mixture will resemble thick gravy or vanilla pudding.* 5. Cool COMPLETELY. Once cooled, pour mixture into small containers.

6. Add 1-2 drops of food coloring and 1 drop of dish soap to each cup.

7. Mix well.
Let the kiddos have fun! We use these to teach our children about colors. They love to mix the red and blue to see what it makes. Turn fun moments into teaching moments!
The Master Painters hard at work!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


On rainy days, my kiddos and I pull out our craft bins to find something fun to do. Here is what we made today: stilts!

Items Needed:
(2) Empty Formula Cans w/lids
Scrapbook Paper
Glue or Tape

1. Take the empty formula cans and remove the labels.

2. Next, place lid on can. Now, take a long piece of ribbon and tape the center to the lid.

3. Turn can over. You should have two pieces of ribbon--one on each side of the can. Take each piece individually and tape to the side of the can near the top. 4. Cut scrapbook paper to fit around the can. Glue or tape on.

*You'll notice the ribbon change halfway through my photos--my son decided he wanted different ribbon after he chose his paper.* That's it! Tie excess ribbon in a bow for your child to hold on to when walking.
Have fun with it! I know my kiddos sure did!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Bubbles are fun any time of year. When my kiddos start to get a wild hair, we often blow bubbles. The deep breathes required to blow bubbles often calm them down and help them relax--plus, bubbles are lots of fun! Here is a quick, easy recipe for bubbles you can make at home.

Items Needed:
1 cup dish soap (any kind)
2 cups of warm water
5 tbsp. light corn syrup

Mix all ingredients in a plastic container that has a lid. Pour into a shallow dish or pan to use. The covered bubble solution will last a long time, so save any leftovers.

Ideas for bubble tools:
Funnels, Metal rings from glass jars, a bunch of straws taped together, paper cups with holes cut in the bottom, slotted spatulas/spoons, cookie cutters, strainers, and more! Be creative with your bubble tools. You might be surprised how much fun you'll have.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Board Book: Part One

In my quest for home made Christmas gifts, I decided that I wanted to make an "I-Spy" type of book for my boys. After getting prices for those fancy hard-bound photo books, I quickly changed my thinking on how to achieve a sturdy, long-lasting book for my children. Here is what I came up with.

*This will be in two parts. This post will be on how to make the book-base and the later post will be on the actual "I-Spy" book that I am making. Enjoy!*

1. Purchase a board book. I wanted mine larger, so I purchased this 8x8 board book for $.88 at the Dollar Store. You can also check the D.I., yard sales or thrift stores for cheap books. 2. Starting with the cover, carefully lift off the picture. I had to peel the first two layers from my board book to get a smooth page.
3. Repeat this process until the entire book is free of pictures.
4. You know have your very own board book to do as you choose! I found that regular mod podge works the best. Use a strong glue to actually glue your photos or paper down and then use mod podge over the top. Be creative with this project--make a fun scrapbook, family history album, baby book or anything you'd like.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fruit Sticks

My kiddos LOVE fresh fruit, but often get tired of eating it the same old way. I am a big fan of making food fun and when it is healthy food, it gets even better!
Fruit Sticks
Items Needed:
Fruit (apples, bananas, peaches, cantaloupe, etc.)
Bamboo Skewers: cut sharp point off using scissors
Yogurt (I use plain or fat-free vanilla)
Topping (Sprinkles, crushed granola, cereal, nuts, etc.)
1. Using kitchen shears, cut bamboo skewers into three equal sections.
2. Cut up your fruit. Depending on what type of fruit you are using, you can use a melon baller or a basic knife to make different shapes.
For this recipe, we used apples and bananas. 3. Place yogurt in a small bowl. Using the skewers, pick up a piece of fruit and roll it in the yogurt.
4. Take yogurt-covered fruit and roll it in any desired toppings.
5. Place covered fruit on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Place in freezer for 5-10 minutes. This helps prevent yogurt from falling off the fruit and making a HUGE mess.
6. Remove from freezer and place on a plate. Serve immediately.
This is something that my kids can do by themselves. My boys find so much satisfaction in knowing that they created something themselves. Have fun!
*Be sure that an adult cuts the fruit and the skewers. Only allow children to roll fruit in yogurt and toppings.*

Friday, August 21, 2009

I'm taking a weekend break!

Hello! I am going to be taking a weekend break from blogging! My hubby will be out of town this weekend and I am going to attempt to get our playroom painted while he is away. (Pictures soon to follow!) I hope your weekend is great and look for new posts on Monday!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The BEST Family Cookbook

I LOVE receiving and experimenting with new recipes from all of my friends and family. To share my love of this with those around me, I made a family cookbook for Christmas.

As you can imagine, the cost of printing a full-color, bound cookbook with 30+ pages can become very expensive, very fast! Especially if you are making 25 or more of them like I needed to. In order to make this project a realistic (and affordable) one, I had to really rack my brain. This is what I came up with.....
A Photo Cookbook!

Occasionally, places like Inkleys will run promos and do $.05 or $.06 prints. High quality photo paper is water-resistant, wipes off easily if it gets spilled on, and is durable. It is very hard to beat $.05 for a full color cookbook page!

This is how I did it.

I emailed, called and wrote to as many family members as I could. I asked each of them for 2-3 of their favorite recipes. Once I received the recipes, I used a photo editing program and typed the recipes up and saved them as a .jpeg file.
I then created a cover for the recipe book. I used family photos for our cover, but you could do it however you'd like.
After typing all of the recipes up, I sent them to be printed. Once I received them, I put them in order in regards to main dishes, soups, breads, desserts, etc.

I then punched a hole in the top of the photos. Using a binder ring, I placed all of the pages onto the ring to secure.
That's it! This was SO fun to do and everyone loved it. My total cost per book was under $3! If anyone would like to make these for Christmas and needs help with the cover, send me a quick note! I'd be so happy to offer some help.