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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kate's Creation- Menu Board

I get to share this craft with all the gals in my neighborhood in a few weeks, so if you live by me---surprise! Here's an easy way to get your weekly meals organized:

Menu Boards

Photos courtesy of my daughter Sydie Sue.

As I've said before, I believe giving credit where it's due. This isn't by original idea, just my spin on the whole thing. The ideas are on Pintrest, or you can get them from me (in your color choice) for $7. You could also use it as a Memo board (which I will happily customize for you) and have a beautiful vision of what your family's week looks like. Easy-peasy way to organize your life.

To go along with this fun craft, I've also been asked to teach a quick class about Freezer Meals. They are quick, easy, and I promise will save you time and money. I use a simple system and our family & budget have benefited greatly. 

In other news.....several of you have been asking about the "changes" in our life that I've mentioned in a few previous posts. I can't let the proverbial cat out of the bag just yet, but I can tell you we are NOT having another baby, and we are not getting a divorce. So put your inquiring minds at rest.

I can say as a family, the things in our future are exciting and challenging; and as a couple, we are prepared to take them head-on. I can also say that although my patience is constantly tested the past few years have strengthened it, and I am a better person for the daily trials I have experienced.

Aren't we all better people after our trials??? We may never know why we have to endure certain challenges, but I am sure that when God closes a door, He also opens a window.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Simple Fun

We are on the downhill slide and back to school is just around the corner! Is anyone else ready? I am a single parent again this week. I applaud all of you who do this on a regular basis. I am not cut out for it. In fact, I hate it. I'd rather have my teeth pulled sans Novocaine, than do this. However, I am one who endures whatever I must for the greater good, and so will once again make some lemonade out of life's lemons.

In a whirlwind of creativity I put some good old fashioned fun into our routine. Here are a few great ideas that will make some fun memories for your family.

1. Charades: There are boxed games out there you can buy, or you can print a bunch of random phrases on paper and tear them up, put them in a bucket and let everyone go for it. Remember the rules: 1) No talking (blissful!) and 2) use hand motions to describe how many words, the category (movie, song, tv, etc. FYI: You can make these motions up at the beginning of the game so all the players are on the same page) and don't forget about the "right on the nose" signal to let the guessers know they are on the right track.

2. Story Tellers: I use  this link to create randomly generated word lists. Each player gets a list and has to work the words into his story. You can give each player 3-5 minutes to think up and then tell their story, or you can tell the story as a group, passing the story along to each person who would continue the story until everyone has had a chance.

3.Pictionary at Home. Here's another great website for endless hours of fun.

4. Memory game: This is a spin off of a bridal shower/ baby shower game. Get a tray and fill it with 15-20 random objects. Let the players have 30 seconds to study the tray, then cover the tray. The get an additional 30-60 seconds to list the items. The player with the most wins. A second round can be played by the winner taking away 2 or 3 items and reshowing the tray to the remaining players, and repeating the game.

5. Dice- We have used dice a lot with math practice this summer. I've made the kids add, subtract and multiply the different dice dots together. We also tell story problems using the numbers from the dice. This is a great thinking tool. There are hundreds of dice games, use your imagination, or visit this link to get started.

6. Water Games. Water bottle bowling or water balloons can take the heat off and provide hours of crazy fun. Try filling an empty water bottle or 2 ltr. bottle with a glow stick for night time bowling. (Thanks MG and Pintrest for that tid-bit).

Happy Playing This Week!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Candy Bar Card

The kids made their Dad this Candy Bar card for his birthday. They came up with the sentences and I had to help with the writing. This was an idea from my childhood that I recreated a few years ago as a Thank You card for a good friend.

The idea is so simple, but can be really meaningful. Plus it can teach your kids the magic of words because you have to be creative. Basically you choose some favorite candy bars or gum, etc. and form sentences out of them. This isn't the greatest picture, it says things like "Dad we will try not to make anything go "Crunch" this year." and "we hope your day is full of "Red Hot" fun and "Almond Joy."

I did this on a full sized poster board, but you can make it any size you want. The greatest thing about this project is it can be done in any size--small snack sized candy bars for a smaller card is very cute; and it can really provide an impact of how much you love and appreciate someone. Also it's very versatile as it can be used for almost anyone for any occasion. Think "Teacher Appreciation" or birthday or "Father's Day" or "Mother's Day."

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Birthday Treats

We've had a million celebrations in the past few weeks. We are adjusting back to normal reality, and some big changes are on the horizon. In my next life I'd like to be granted more patience. Too bad there's not a checklist I can fill out and request certain attributes, like tall, skinny, patient, perfect.....ya know? I guess I get bored easily, so change, while not always welcome, is at least not boring.

Back to celebrating. No offense, but how boring is a store bought cake? I just can't do it. I can't go randomly pick out a cake, knowing it won't be as tasty as I could have done, and knowing I will spend 5 times as much as if I just made it myself. So with Andy and J-Dog's birthdays (and mine, but who's counting?) I have resolved to bring back some faves.

My Dad reminded me of the ever popular Tunnel of Fudge cake that we loved back in the day. I thought that was an appropriate and fun idea for Andy. I just recently mastered my bundt pan baking, and am feeling quite confident I can take that on. I'm thinking a new twist on Red Velvet, a delicious chocolate filling, and sprinkles! 

J-Dog's is still in the decision making process, since he changes his mind daily on what he wants to do I don't see the point to decide yet. We've run the gamet from Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and brownies, to a turquoise lion filled with raspberry to a flamigo with flaming feathers. His demands may need to be bumped back a bit, ehh?

I found this delicious idea from Bakerella. These are delicious! It's likely you have the ingredients in your pantry right now. And if you don't, try substituting like I did. I had no sweetened condensed milk so I used this to make my own.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
from The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook (Thanks Lindsay!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
chocolate candy coating
popsicle sticks, cut in half (use kitchen scissors to make a clean, smooth cut)
  • In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
  • Mix in milk and vanilla.
  • Add flour and salt and mix on low until combined.
  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Chill dough in refrigerator for about 30 minutes until firm enough to roll or scoop into 1-inch balls.
  • Place rolled balls on a wax paper lined baking sheet and place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. (I had mine in for about an hour so longer is okay, too)
  • Melt candy coating following instructions on the package. Remove a couple of balls from the freezer at a time and insert the cut stick into the ball. Dip in candy coating and let any excess fall off back into the bowl.
  • Add small sprinkles on top and place on wax paper to set. If the chocolate pools at the bottom of the ball, dot the balls on the wax paper until most of it is pulled off the ball and then place it on a clean spot of the wax paper to set.
  • Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.
Happy Celebrating!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Freebie Cookbook

This link will provide you with some new, delicious recipes. I really like most of the Betty recipes, and of course it's free. Thanks Betty! Click on the link below to download your copy.

Best of Betty Summer Cookbook.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Picture Perfect Part II

There is so much to's a few more things that we love about D.C.

The National Archives where the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, 
the Constitution and the Bill of Rights live. 
 The Library of Congress- this is the Jefferson Building.
The US Capitol building. Let Freedom Ring!
 Our favorite place to eat is "Good Stuff Eatery." This is the place started by Spike Mendleshon from Top Chef. The food is awesome and we even got to meet Spike and chat for a few minutes.
 A roof top garden across from where we stayed.
 The Botanical Gardens
 Chinatown's main gate.
 There are hundreds of murals like this around town in Crystal City. It's way better than graffiti.
The Metro train station. It's clean, safe and a very efficient way to many adventures.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Picture Perfect

Yes it was 108 degrees with 40% humidity; and yes, there were hurricane force winds; and yes, there were blisters the size of dimes involved, but I would sell the remaining part of my soul to the devil to live here...

Ok, so maybe I'll never be president, but this is a most amazing city. Check out these highlights.

 This is at the Dulles location of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. 
Totally worth the bus, shuttle and metro rides to get here. The freakin' space shuttle! Shut up!

 The Lincoln Memorial. Worth the walk and truly inspirational.

The Vietnam Memorial. The wall stretches to the end of this picture. Thank you to all my family members who served in this war, and to all those who keep us safe every day.

 We were at Arlington on the hottest day in D.C. in 136 years. The guards wore their dress uniforms and continued to protect the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was one of the most amazing things to see the dedication they gave to their country and the honor and respect they have for each other and our country.

Washington Monument can be seen from almost any vantage point in the city. 
If being here doesn't make you proud to be an American, nothing else will.

The sunset was so vibrant and red. It was delightful.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Independance Day

This year's Fourth of July is unlike any other. Andy and I just got back from Washington, D.C. and it was a vacation of a lifetime. Since college my heart has been on the east coast. I don't know what it is about that area, maybe opportunities that I didn't take in my youth, but part of me is there. After a week in DC I have been reminded of why our country is so amazing.

We went to many attractions like the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Wall, Arlington Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier--we were there for changing of the guard--WOW, the Capitol, the National Archives, Supreme Court, the Pentagon, the Pentagon memorial, The White House, library of congress, St. Johns Church, Ford's Theatre and the house where Lincoln died.

We went to the Air and Space Museum and saw the space shuttle--Andy was in heaven. We went to the National Gallery of Art, National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum--I was in heaven. It was a fun, fantastic vacation and I will be forever grateful to my parents who made it possible for us to take our first kid free vacation. I hope it's not our last.

The trip was history in the making too. We arrived the day the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. We were there during 105+ degree weather-the hottest it's been in 136 years. And we were there and out in, hurricane rains and windstorm at 11 p.m. watching trees blowing apart and spin down the street. Needless to say, there are many reasons we won't forget this trip.

Here's a few things I learned. The Metro system rocks; People in DC are friendly--don't believe that reputation for rudeness it's simply not true; you can walk 50 miles in four days, but not without dime sized blisters on your feet; I love my country more today than ever before because I have a new understanding of sacrifice, loyalty and freedom; DC has big black suburbans en-mass on their streets too. The only difference is that those are filled with FEDS, not families of five. I will be going back and this time it won't take me 15 years to get back.

I have a ton of pictures of course, and as soon as I unpack maybe I'll post some. Happy Fourth of July. Hug a member of the military today because they are upholding a tremendous gift for all of us.