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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fondant Recipe

I LOVE making fondant for my cakes and for the kids to play with. This recipe is super easy and it tastes great! My boys love it when I make the "play dough they can eat." Don't be scared by using fondant. It is very forgiving and a lot of fun. Let your imagination run wild! Ingredients:

16oz. bag of mini marshmallows
2lbs. powdered sugar
2+ tablespoons water
LOTS of shortening (put in a bowl for easy access)
Corn Starch

Using a large microwave safe bowl, add marshmallows and 2 tbsp. water. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Remove and stir. Repeat this process until marshmallows are melted and smooth. Carefully remove from microwave.

Pour approx. 3/4 of the powered sugar on to the top of the melted marshmallows. Stir gently with a spoon. Grease counter top generously with shortening. Pour marshmallow mixture on to greased counter top.

Now, rub shortening all over your hands--tops, between fingers, etc. Start kneading the fondant on the counter top. Add the remaining powdered sugar.

This is the point where it becomes time consuming.... keep kneading the fondant until it is smooth and stretches easily. Add 1/2 tsp. water at a time if the fondant tears too easily. This process can take up to 30 minutes sometimes. It is well worth it in the end--I promise.

When the fondant is nice and stretchy, coat the outside with a nice layer of shortening and cover in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

You can also use the fondant immediately if needed. To color the fondant, use only paste food coloring. Slowly work the colorant into the fondant by kneading on a counter top sprinkled in corn starch.

Have fun with this recipe! My kids love using this as play dough. I usually make two batches with I am making a cake---one for the kids to play with and one to use on the cake. It will keep them busy for hours.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Building Blocks

In my quest for Christmas presents, I decided to make my children their own building blocks. For this post, I am showing only the square blocks, but I have made rectangles, triangles, circles, bridges and dowels as well. If you are planning on making this for Christmas, please be aware that the hard-coat mod podge takes 4 weeks to fully cure. Give yourself plenty of time!

Be as creative as you'd like and have fun!

Items Needed:
2x2x8 piece of wood
(use larger sizes of wood according to the shape/object you are making)
Colorful paer
Hard Coat Mod Podge
Paper trimmer
Foam brush
#400 Grit sand paper
#0000 Steel Wool
Measure the sides of your blocks. Cut paper squares that are approx. 1/8 inch smaller than the surface of the block. You will need 6 squares per block.Using the mod podge, coat the back side of the paper squares. Apply to the blocks. Press out any air bubbles and hold tightly until secure. Repeat this process until all sides of the block has been covered. Let sit for 2 hours.
After letting blocks dry for 2 hours, coat the top of the block with mod podge. *Important! Only coat the TOP SIDE of the block with mod podge. Repeat this process until all of the blocks have the top coated in mod podge. Let blocks sit for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, coat the tops of the blocks again. Do this process until all blocks have 5-6 coats of mod podge on them.

After 5-6 coats of mod podge has been placed on the tops of the blocks, let dry overnight. The next day, rotate the blocks and start the process over again; until all sides of the blocks have been coated.

Once the entire block has 5-6 coats of dry mod podge on it, use your #400 grit sand paper and wet sand any ridges or bumps from your block. Let dry. Buff to a shine with the #0000 steel wool. Let cure for 4 weeks before using.
*I am making a matching box for the blocks to go in. Watch for a future post to show how it's done!

TIPS: For my boys, I am using letter and number stickers on their blocks. Simply place the stickers on top of the paper and coat with mod podge. You can use any stickers you'd like! Have fun!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Farmers' Market

With fall quickly approaching, I am reminded of why I LOVE this time of year.....farmer's markets! Our family loves traveling up "fruit-way" from Perry to Brigham City and stopping at the fruit stands. Believe it or not, these cute fruit stands offer much more than fresh produce! Here are a few TOP reasons why we visit the farmer's markets.
#1. The atmosphere! Nothing feels like fall more than standing in a cool breeze picking out freshly picked produce.

#2. Cheap and fun family night! We often teach our children a short lesson about Heavenly Father's Creations and then we hit the fruit stands to show our children the different types of foods that were created for us.

#3. Teaching moments! Fruit stands offer a HUGE variety of colors, textures, shapes and sizes to teach your children about. We let our children pick out something that they've never seen or tasted before and then we eat it together and talk about our likes/dislikes. This is often their favorite part!
This is Aiden's first look at a pepper. The excitement on his face says it all! Ever since this trip, we have had to plant our own peppers in our garden for him to enjoy.

#4. Photo-Ops! I love the lighting, scenery and excitement of a fruit stand. My children get excited about the new sights, sounds and smells. A camera is a MUST for this adventure!

#5. Lastly, I LOVE fresh fruit. Fruit is healthy and delicious. Being able to enjoy something you love while supporting local families and enjoying a night out with your own family is priceless.
If you have never had the opportunity to visit a fruit stand, don't wait any longer! Apple harvesting is right around the corner! Take advantage of this great time of year. You'll thank me later.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Reading Flashcards

With school quickly approaching, my mind has shifted to learning activities for my children. My boys love reading books and looking at pictures. In an attempt to help them recognize words, I made some photo flashcards for them to play with.
Using my camera, I took some pictures to include on the cards. Using a photo editing software, I added the word below each picture. I then printed them on photo paper. You can also put a ring through them to secure.
Here are a few examples of the cards I made. Keep in mind that my boys are really young, so I stuck with 3 and 4 letter words. If your child is older, you can choose any words you'd like.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Time Capsule: Large

Family History has quickly become a passion in my life. I could spend hours pouring over journals, pedigree charts and photos from my grandparents and great-grandparents. I quickly realized that I haven't taken the time to create my own family story. Not really knowing where to start, I decided to have my family create their own time-capsule! For this project, we rented a canner from the Bishop's Storehouse and purchased a #10 can to put our items in. You may use any type of container you'd like--plastic, cardboard, wood, etc. Make sure the container you pick is sturdy and won't get lost easily.

Items Needed:
Sturdy container with lid
Personal documents
Anything you'd like to include!!

When we did our time capsule, we invited a few friends to join us with their families. This made it so much fun to get every one's ideas together. Here are a few items we put into our time capsule:

Hand prints: we traced each of our children's hand prints and wrote their names and ages on them.
Family Pictures: We took some quick family pictures in the backyard.

Family Facts: We wrote about each of our children and family members and highlighted any important events that were going on.

Pay Stubs: It will be fun to look back and *Hopefully* see how little we were making.

Grocery Ads: We pulled some ads from the newspaper to compare food prices.

Business Cards: We added business cards for Nick and I.

Family Budget: We put in a copy of our family budget to see where we spent our money.

Calendar: I added July's calendar to show how many activities we did in a typical week.

Other photos: We put recent photos of our family in the capsule like; pictures at the temple open house, our family reunion, the kids 6 mo, 2yr and 4yr photos, etc.

I made custom CD's for each of our families that listed our last name, the date of the time capsule and the family members names/ages. We then burned our family photos and other recent photos on the disc. This made it easier than putting actual photographs into the can, and hopefully the CD will hold up better over time.
We then packed our items gently into the can.
Nick took our cans downstairs and sealed them shut.
After our can was sealed, I took some scrapbook paper and covered the can. You can do whatever you'd like with your can---bury it, hide it, etc. We are going to place ours on the shelf with our food storage downstairs. I made a small tag to place on the can that lists the date of the time capsule so we don't forget!

That's it! This project was so much fun! If you are doing this for a family night lesson, we used the Gospel Art Book and talked about Mormon abridging the plates, Moroni hiding the plates, Joseph Smith receiving the plates and then Joseph Smith translating the plates. We then talked about the importance of record keeping. We sang a few songs, made our time capsules and had a quick treat. Hopefully our friends had a good time too! :o)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Easy Life Story

I am horrible at keeping a journal even though I understand the importance of it. In an effort to "save-face" and motivate myself to begin a journal again, I started searching for the best way to do it. This is what I came across....Printable life story pages. I am SO excited to do one of these for myself and my hubby. This blog also has a printable for teenagers. The ideas presented on this blog are AMAZING! Take some time and look over it yourself. You are sure to find a new project that you are dying to try!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Freezing Berries

As most of you know, I love making homemade jam. Earlier this week, I was brought an entire bucket of fresh blackberries! I was SO excited, but I lacked time to make jam before the berries would go bad. I decided to freeze them instead. It was SO easy and they turned out great! This is the perfect time of year for fresh berries. You can freeze raspberries, blueberries and boysenberries the same way.
1. First, wash your berries in cold water.2. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and spread a single layer of berries onto the wax paper.
3. Place cookie sheet in freezer until berries are frozen and firm.
4. Remove pans from freezer. Carefully lift up on wax paper to loosen frozen berries.
5. Pour frozen berries into a freezer bag. Place in freezer for up to 10 months.
These work great in smoothies, parfaits, desserts and ice cream! Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Clothing Clearance

This is the perfect time of year to buy "summer clothes" on clearance. With back-to-school styles filling up the shelves, stores are anxious to get rid of the summer items. Target, Sears, Babies R Us, Dillards, Carters and JcPenny are all having a 70% off sale on their summer items. For those of you who keep an eye on your mailers, last week, JcPenny sent out a $10 off of $10 purchase coupon. I took mine in yesterday and found: 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants for Caitlyn. After taxes, I ended up paying $.97! You can't beat that for new clothes!
Start watching the clearance sales and post any new finds that you discover. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Crinkle Tag Toy

Hello! After taking a few days vacation from blogging, I am back and ready to go! This next item is my very first sewing project---ever! It was exciting to make, but I have a few changes and good lessons learned for the next time. These make great baby shower gifts and I am going to be making a few for Christmas too! I hope you enjoy it.

Items needed:
(2) 10 inch flannel squares
(1) 10 inch crinkle material*
Colorful ribbon
Sewing Machine
Patience! LOL.

First, gather your flannel and crinkle squares.Place one square of fabric right-side up on the table. Cut ribbon strips that match your fabric. Fold them in half and pin them along the edge of your fabric with the folded parts facing inward. You can choose how long your ribbons will be.Next, place the other flannel square on top of the ribbons, with the top side facing down. Pin your crinkle material on top of this square.Now, using a straight-stitch on your sewing machine, sew around the edges of the square. I left about a 1/2 in edge around the square.

DO NOT sew all of the way together! Leave a large enough opening that you can turn the item right-side out.

Next, carefully pull the pins out as you turn the square right-side out. Lay flat on the counter. (You'll notice that I have a pin in the bottom left corner of this picture. This is where I left my opening in the square. The pin is merely holding the extra ribbon in place until I top-sew.) Using a fun stitch, sew around the top of the square until all sides have been sewn shut. Be sure to remember your back-stitch to make it secure!

That's it!

*I used a sheet protector for my crinkle-material. You can also use a wipes package, popcorn wrappers, cellophane or any other plastic material that is washable.

TIPS: I would use a Teflon pressure foot when sewing this. The plastic can drag and this will prevent it from laying down flat. Also, when you are sewing the square together, don't start in the corner. Try to leave the opening somewhere in the middle. This will make it look nicer when you are top-stitching the item.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

FHE Baggies and Treasure Hunt

When Nick and I were first married, I loved making "family night baggies." I would take a quart-sized ziploc bag and place our family night lessons inside. Each baggie would have the words to a hymn, scripture references, a fun activity and treat ideas. We would then trade baggies with other newly married couples in our ward. It made for a fun quick family night that needed little planning. I am now going to begin making family night baggies to go with our lessons out of the Church Nursery Manual. I hope you find inspiration in all you do!

Treasure Hunt:

Using a sturdy paper, such as card stock, cut out 15 circles, or any shape you'd like. Print or hand write the clues on each shape. (looking back on my original cards, I would make them a whole lot better this time around. I would use colorful paper, type the clues directly on the circles, rather than glue them and add some fun embellishments. Be creative and have fun with it!)

Here are the clues that I used for our treasure hunt. You can change or omit any you'd like.

Clue #1. Look under...Mark 4:38
Clue #2. Look in a...Genesis 49:4 (last word)
Clue #3. Look on a ...Matthew 5:38 (last word + brush)
Clue #4. Look in a... Psalms 60:8
Clue #5. Look in a...Alma 42:6
Clue #6. Look on the...D&C 136:12 (thing after 4th word) + Abraham 3:2 (28th letter)
Clue #7. Look on a...Proverbs 7:6
Clue #8. Look on a...John 10:2
Clue #9. Look in a...Luke 5:7 (last word)
Clue #10. Look in a...Ezekiel 34:26
Clue #11. Look high up in the...2 Nephi 15:10
Clue #12. Look in a...Zechariah 14:21
Clue #13. Look under the...Romans 11:19
Clue #14. Look in a...3 Nephi 12:40
Clue #15. Look under a...1 Nephi 1:7
At the end of the treasure hunt, you can put any type of prize you'd like. When we did this the first time, I put all of the ingredients to make brownies at the end so we could bake a family night treat. You can choose anything that will fit your families needs. Have fun!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Homemade Household Products

Years ago, my mom gave me recipes on how to make my own household cleaners....little did I know that I would still be using them today! Here are a few easy cleaners that are great to have around. (Oh, and they're cheap too!)

Let's start with the basics. The following is a list of items that I ALWAYS have in stock at our home. These few items can be used for a variety of applications and they are inexpensive too.

1. Vinegar
2. Ammonia (I buy the clear ammonia for making my products, but any kind will do.)
3. Rubbing Alcohol
4. Dishwashing Detergent
5. Baking Soda
6. Newspapers

A list of other uses for vinegar can be found here on my vinegar post. Enjoy!

All-Purpose Cleaner
1 c. Vinegar
1/2 c. Ammonia
1 c. Rubbing Alcohol
1 tsp. Dish Soap
1/2 tsp. lemon essential oil (optional)
2 drops of food coloring (optional)
1 gallon jug

Place all ingredients in a one-gallon jug. Swish jug to mix. Slowly fill the jug up with water. Place cap on tightly. Use in a spray bottle. Works great on countertops, floors, walls, stoves and more!

Window Cleaner
1/2 c. Ammonia
1 c. Vinegar
1/2 c. Rubbing Alcohol
2 drops of food coloring (optional)
1 gallon jug

Place ingredients in jug. Swish to mix. Fill jug up with water. Place in a spray bottle. I use newspapers to dry my windows with. They work great and they are lint-free. This recipe will leave your windows nice and shiny!

Labels: We are without a working printer in our house right now, so I just wrote the ingredients on a post-it note and taped it to the jug. A fun, computer-generated label looks MUCH nicer than my post-it notes! LOL.
Dust Cloths
1 pint of hot water
1/4 cup of lemon oil
Lint-free rags

Mix water and oil in a small dish. Dip rags into the solution. Remove the rags and let air dry. Store in a tightly covered container.

Oven Cleaner

Pour 1/2 cup of ammonia into a small bowl and place in over overnight. In the morning, wipe off grease with a rag or paper towel.

TIPS: Always label your container with the ingredients. I write out the recipe and tape it to the side of the jug. This way, if accidental ingestion were to happen, Poison Control would know exactly what was in it and how much. ALWAYS keep cleaners out of the reach of children.