Search This Blog

Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy New Year-Recycled Fortune Cookie Firecrackers

It's almost time to say goodbye to 2013. It's been a whirlwind of change and excitement in our world, and I am sure it's been for many.

To celebrate the New Year, and bring good karma to all, I have this fun, kid friendly, age appropriate for everyone, nearly free, recycled craft.

Here's what you need: Empty wrapping paper tubes, (or tp rolls, or paper towel tubes), excess wrapping paper, ribbon, leftover candy or other filler. This should all be stuff you have around the house--scraps of any paper, tissue paper from gifts, leftover treats of any kind--remember the goal is to keep it simple.

Cut the tube (if necessary) to desired length.
Then put tissue paper (or a napkin or a bit of paper towel) in one end of the tube and fill it--we used coins, candy and New Year's horn/streamers left over from last year. And since we are a family where some speak Mandarin--we added a fortune for the year. We want to encourage the children to learn the culture and the language (or at least some version of it). Plus it's a great Chinese New Year idea for February 2014, this year's Chinese New Year.
There is a random Fortune Cookie Saying generator here.
Secure all the prizes inside by capping off the open end of the tube with more tissue (or whatever) paper. Wrap the paper around the tube like a taffy and tie with ribbon. On New Year's Eve each person can choose a random "New Year's Fortune Firecracker" and ring in the New Year in style!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Let It Snow...Man!

We've had a great abundance of crazy snow lately. I got stuck in my own driveway and had to have my 12-year-olds dig me out of the snow, then I got stuck in front of my neighbors house, and I got myself out. SuPeR FuN!

Anyway with all the snow we've been inspired to check out Pinterest--which you all know I have a love-hate relationship with, and we found these....

Melting Snowmen Cookies!

Using a favorite Sugar Cookie recipe (or pre-made, or packaged), cut out 2 inch circles. You can use the open end of a glass if you don't have a cookie cutter.

To add to the melted effect, squish the roundness of the cookie slightly. The snowman's head is a large marshmallow and the nose is an orange Tic-Tac. The rest of the decoration is frosting. 

Easy, Peasy, Snowman Pleasy.

See...They are sliding across the counter!
Happy Baking and Snowman Making!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Santa "Chex" His List Twice...

My mind has been blown! This makes me so giddy...I am freaking out.

SPOILER ALERT: Neighbors you will still need to be shocked when you get our surprise gift this year.

I love spreading a little bit of fun to our awesome neighbors. Really we couldn't ask for a circle full of better friends. Everything from ketchup to kids gets swapped between us, and they are so great to help out with nearly any crisis.

This year I am making treats to share with these fantastic people (and sharing cuz no family should eat more than 3 batches of anything by themselves). So in an attempt to spread cheer and eliminate excess food consumption it's Chex Mix for everyone!!

Here's the mind blowing part. Whilst googling (yes, that is now a verb) for recipe ideas I ran across this from Betty Crocker. Click on the link and it will take you a Chex lovers paradise with over 50 variations of this delicious-and potentially somewhat nutritious- treat. You can print, save and/or email your favorites so you can enjoy it all year long!

Happy Holidays (and no, I am not being compensated for this endorsement).

And Remember...Santa "Chex" his list twice. Have you been naughty, or nice?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Traditions

I love, love, love seeing Christmas lights. It's my all time favorite tradition. I love to drive around and see the creative displays that bring joy, fun and cheer to neighborhoods all over the valley. We always have cocoa and doughnuts and drive around different areas to bring the Christmas spirit home.

This year we decided to add a little more fun and play Christmas Light Bingo while we take our annual drive. I panicked thinking I was going to have to create some kind of Bingo card, but thanks to Google and Pintrest, and other crafty chics who are awesome enough to share, all the hard work has been done for me.

Click here for a great Christmas Light Bingo game. This is a great site that has lots of creative, fun Christmas games. Like the Christmas Crossword or Christmas Wordsearch. Thanks to those of you who put your amazing ideas out there for the rest of us to enjoy!

So here's to another fun year driving around to enjoy the bedazzling bling of the neighborhoods. Really any excuse to eat a chocolate doughnut is a good one--don't ya' think?!?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Crafty Christmas 2013

 We had such a fun weekend! We got a new Christmas tree, and it's pre-lit! What a time saver! I had so much extra time, that I baked 5 dozen Salt Dough Ornaments and we spent the day painting them and decorating our tree!

Katie's Salt Dough Ornament Recipe
yield 3 dozen small and 2 dozen large ornaments, or 4 dozen med-large ornaments

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie sheet
  • Toothpicks or Chopstick
  • Cookie cutters
  • Craft paints
  • Glitter
  • Ribbon or twine 


Preheat the oven to 250° F.

Mix together, salt, flour, and water until dough is formed. I put it in my Kitchen Aid and use the dough hook to mix. If dough is too sticky, sprinkle with flour, continue to do so until stickiness is gone. Do not add too much flour, as this will dry out the dough and will cause it to crack before you get a chance to bake it.

Roll out the dough to about 1/4” thick with a rolling pin that has been dusted with flour. Use cookie cutters to cut out your ornaments. Use a toothpick or chopstick  to make a hole toward the top of the ornament.

Place all shapes onto an ungreased cookie sheet and place into the preheated oven.Bake for 2 hours. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Decorate with paint/glitter as desired. Thread ribbon through hole and tie in a knot.Hang on your tree or tie onto a package.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy (Food) Thanksgiving Day

Every year that we have Thanksgiving with my in-laws we have the same food assignments. It's fine, I'm not complaining, just getting a little bored bringing salad year after year. So this year my salad assignment has been recreated, replated and rethought to something so incredibly beautiful and fun, I am sure the Executives at The Food Network will be begging me to come and share my inspiration. At the very least, my kids will eat it.

Personal layered salads--brilliant right? Now your yams, stuffing and gravies won't run into your lettuce and get it all mushy. You have room on your plate for more carbs--and since calories don't count today, that's a great thing.

Is it more fun to eat food if it looks fun?

Maybe...just maybe, our family will be so overcome with my brilliance they won't realize they're eating something healthy.

Happy Food Day!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas Service Project --House of Hope Update

I have such amazing family, friends and neighbors. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You to those of you who've "adopted" a child from our tree for Christmas. Thank you to those of you who've donated diapers, baby items, women's items and other things. I've been getting lots of questions about what else we need...and the answer is pretty much everything, and the need is constant.

Last year the House of Hope served 360 people including 128 children. We are a small agency and rely on community support as these women work on overcoming substance abuse. We have our share of success, but as you can imagine overcoming addictions is hard and takes a lot of time. That being said, every donation really does help families step back into the community.  Thank you for being part of that positive change.

For those of you who want to help the following are some lists of our needs. We are re-doing our website, so next week you can visit House of Hope online and find about more about what we do, and what we need.

Christmas Wish List-Provo
Baby Needs List
The Hope Store
12 Days of Christmas (SLC)

We accept donations all year, but if you want to help for this Christmas we need items by December 16. You can deliver them to our offices, 857 E. 200 So. or to me.

Thank you for being part of this amazing organization!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Quick Meal Idea

As most of you know, I work for BzzAgent, a great company that offers product testing to real people, for real, honest reviews.

My latest endeavor is for Kroger Skillet Meals. If you'd like and easy and quick meal for the busy holiday season, check them out at Smith's. I've got a few more coupons to share to save you money.

If you aren't into frozen meals, here's a few more quick meal plans for this upcoming season.


1- Quick Fixes from
2- Six Sisters Stuff
3- Rachel Ray's Baked Ziti (this is seriously an easy, cheap crowd pleaser!)
4-Olive Garden Soup from Chef Pablo (make this in a crockpot, and BAM! dinner's done!)
5- Quick ideas just for kids (great training ground to get your little chef going)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Christmas Service Project

The Holiday Season is here! Every year our family does a service project. This year is special because I just started working with the House of Hope. They provide treatment and recovery services to women and children working to overcome substance abuse. It's a great organization and there is lots going on--I am happy to be busy, even if right now I feel too busy.

There are lots of great organizations that need help all year long, and House of Hope is one great organization that needs help this year. We are looking for gifts --new and unwrapped--for our women and children who are in our treatment programs. Also all year long we are in need of baby items--we serve many pregnant women and women with young children (ages 0-8) all year long, so items like diapers and wipes are always needed.

Click Here for a list of baby items. Contact Lisa Heaton ( to find out more about the Christmas needs.

Even if you don't help the House of Hope, I hope you will find some way to serve this holiday season--volunteer, raise money, or donate items. It's a great way to keep the Christmas Spirit all year long!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thanskgiving Craft

I had some bare walls and some rare spare time. I created these awesome monogram plates and created some fun new decor for the holidays.

 These are vinyl letters on a silver plated party plate--the plates are disposable and are very light weight. The rest is a bit of hot glue, a leaf garland and some floral beads. I attached a ribbon hanger to the back and they are hung on my cupboards with command hooks. 

I also made an "E" and "T" plate --as if anyone needs to be told to eat here. In either case the halls and walls are decked out with color, glitter and shiny things that make our house a home. 

Happy Holiday Crafting!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Happy November

Hello All...Long time no posting. I know you've been going through withdrawal. So here's the thing...I got a job. A real job, in the city, doing work that (hopefully) will make a difference to many. Over the last year we've experienced many expensive experiences--none of them good. From broken household appliances (3 of them, and not the kind of appliances you can stick in a Walmart cart), a new truck transmission, tires, U joints (the hubs LOVES this truck--it's like his non-human BFF) and a whole bunch of other broken stuff that meant our Christmas trip to California wasn't going to happen.

We'd already told the kids we were going (note to self: keep your mouth shut when big things come up until you are sure!) and even plan to have a small Christmas to save money to go. I did a few things from home to earn $$ and it seems just as I was getting on top of things, something else would happen.

So kind of on a dare (I triple dog dared myself) I began "just looking to see what would happen" if I got a job. That thought is the most dangerous thought I have. I have literally said "let's see what happens" 7 other times in my life. The first time I said it, we bought a house. The second time, am I am not joking, we got pregnant with twins. The last time I said it....we got our baby. I have some employable skills, and I even have a big fat college degree, so I was hoping someone was looking for something that would be a win-win situation for all.

I also knew that going back to work full time was not an option. A month ago one of my favorite places in the world, The Conservation Park, was hiring a Development Director--dream job, but full time. And even though we are facing challenges, going to work full time was more time than I was willing to spend away from home. I know there's no perfect balance, and some days Mom Guilt will rule. But I am also a problem solver. I was convinced I could work a bit, but still be home when the kids got home.

Long story short some very amazing women at an amazing place called House of Hope hired me to do grant writing. The hours are flexible and it's a job I know how to do, and even have loads of experience doing. It's downtown ---which for me is great because I miss the city. I love the city, and if it were up to me, we'd live in a large city. But life is about compromise--so I get the city part of the week, and my family every day, and hopefully once we've all adjusted, happiness will exist.

Since it's Thanksgiving time I felt like I needed to put this out thankful for unexpected change. I had no idea I would actually get this job--I had some pretty specific job needs and didn't think anyone would be able to fill them. I am thankful for awesome parents who are helping with my kids and a husband who has a flexible schedule so our baby won't be out a mom--she gains a dad, grandpa and grandma. I don't think I "fell" into this job, I am pretty sure there are people there I need to meet, and need to help. And like with anything else, this opportunity will likely help me, beyond just paying bills--and that is where the real blessings are.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Quick, but Awesome, Last Minute Halloween Party Ideas

I love being in my kids' classrooms, but it always seems like there is never enough time to finish all the awesome things I want to do for their class parties. Since I LOVE Halloween and LOVE parties I have a few last minute ideas to create an easy, fun, awesome party for family, friends, youth groups, classrooms, or whomever you want to be ScaRy! with this year.

1. Food
Hellooo! If you've been here before check out the last few soup recipes from September and October 2013. Other awesome ideas include Mummy Dogs (wrap dough around hot dogs and bake at 375 deg. for 20-23 minutes); Witch Fingers (use Rhodes dough, roll into bread stick shape. Use almond for fingernail and score the dough across the stick to create knuckles); Spider Eggs (cut an olive in half lengthwise to use as body- with other half slice to make legs; use this as a topper for appetizers such as crackers topped with cheese spread or deviled eggs); Sugar Cookies are always easy in Halloween shapes. I like this recipe from The Splendid Table; Spider Web Cupcakes- using colored frosting, make 3 circles on top of frosted cupcake; drag a toothpick through the circles "cutting" the frosting into equal sections to create spider web effect. Note: you need the top of the cupcake to be a different color from the web frosting.)

2. Craft or Game
Mummy Treasure Can
Use empty and clean soup cans to create spooky mummies or ghosts. Remove the label and paint the can white, or black, or whatever. Wrap gauze around can. Attach wiggle eyes. You could also use tissue paper to wrap the can, and make paper eyes. Fill with candy, treats, etc.

Pretzel Wands
Dip long pretzels into melted chocolate and roll in sprinkles. Magical wand you can spark a bit of fun with and eat.

Board Games: Clue, Twister, Headbands (you can make your own Halloween themed game by attaching cards to homemade elastic headbands or buy them at the Dollar Store), Bingo.

3. Entertainment
Karaoke to Halloween songs (check out Pandora for awesome song choices)

Fashion show using dress ups you have around the house. Video tape this-- I guarantee it will be a memory you will want forever. Think Project Runway on a Soda Pop budget.

Movies--check out Redbox, library, Netflix or Xfinity for family movies, scary movies, teen movies, old movies and more. I love Alfred Hitchcock personally.

Don't forget the cameras!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Soups & Stews #5

If you've been following this at all the last few weeks, you can see that having a few basics in your pantry can make a variety of meals. This is the last installment of this series and hopefully you have a few new ideas. This soup is a family favorite the hub's aunt is famous for. Thanks Jean! We love that you shared this with us!

Potato Cheese Soup

2 c.                  Chicken Stock
3                      Bay leaves
2 c.                  Milk
1/4 tsp.            white pepper (black works too)
4 tbsp.             Butter
4-6                   potatoes, diced
1/4 c.                Flour
½ tsp.              Salt

Heat chicken stock & milk in sauce pan over medium heat -almost boiling

In a large stock pot, melt butter and flour to make a roux (like a paste) Stir vigorously to blend;
add bay leaves, white pepper, potato and salt; pour milk and chicken stock into large stock pot with other ingredients

Simmer 15-20 minutes on low heat- it’s ready when potatoes are soft.

Mash potatoes into soup

Serve in bread bowls, topped with sour cream, cheese, onion, bacon bits (opt.)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Soups & Stews #4

Chili and Taco Soup

Our favorite Chili is one I call Church Chili--cuz we got the recipe from a lady at a church dinner.

Church Chili
2 lbs.  Hamburger
1 medium onion
4 cans of kidney beans
2 cans of pinto beans
2 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp. Cumin
1tsp of garlic powder
salt, pepper
1-2 jalapeno peppers cut, leave seeds in
3 cans of whole tomatoes
Add a bit of water if it seems too thick. 

Throw everything in a Dutch Oven or stock pot and simmer for 2 hours, until beans are soft. You can also omit the hamburger if you want.

Taco Soup
2 cans              black beans
1 can               kidney beans * (or your favorite combo of beans)
1 ½ lb              hamburger (lean)
2 pkg               taco seasoning
½ med.           Onion, chopped
1 can               diced tomatoes (15 oz.can) ** can use 1 can of RoTel tomatoes w/ chilies
1 can               green chilies, chopped or minced
1 can               tomato sauce (15 oz.)
3 cups             water
5 Tbsp             flour, if need to thicken soup

Cook beef and drain. Add onion and seasoning
Add all other ingredients, EXCEPT flour.

Simmer soup 30 minutes on medium heat.

If necessary, mix flour with small amount of water until desired consistency

Top with green pepper, chilies, cheese, sour cream and olives

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Soups & Stews #3

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup- Freezer Meal
I got this from a friend, just can't remember which one. Trying to give credit where it's due....this isn't mine, but I love it AND IT FREEZES!

-4 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts, not frozen
-1 can diced tomatoes (not drained), 14.5 ounce
-1 can black beans (drained), 14.5 ounce
-1 small onion
-2 Tbsp minced garlic
-1 cup frozen corn (or a 14.5 ounce can of corn will work too) – we buy our corn in the summer when it is really inexpensive from a local farmer and freeze it.  So, I just cut the corn off the cob and use it which is why you see whole cobs here.  If I didn’t do that I would just buy frozen corn or use canned.
-1 jalapeno, finely diced (vary to taste – this will be a little bit spicy – about medium heat.  If you like mild food start with 1/2 jalapeno).  You can also use canned jalapenos if you don’t have fresh on hand.
-2 limes, juiced OR 2 Tbsp lime juice (fresh will taste better)
-1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (dried will work if that’s all you have on hand)
-3 14.5 ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth (Note: this will make a relatively thick soup – if you want your soup to go a little further you can add an extra can of broth and make it slightly thinner but a larger batch)
-salt/pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp sea salt)

-Put all ingredients except for cilantro in a large pot.
-Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low and keep it at a slow boil for 25 minutes.  If you want the chicken to cook faster, you can cut the breasts in half or thirds and then you will only need to boil for 15-20 minutes.
-After 25 minutes, take the chicken out of your pot with a fork (one breast at a time) and put it on a separate plate.  Cut into the chicken to make sure it’s cooked all the way through, then using two forks (or a knife and a fork) shred your chicken.  The chicken should shred pretty easily.  Once shredded, put back in the pot and repeat with each chicken breast until all chicken is shredded.  It’s really easy and you should be able to shred all the chicken in 3-4 minutes.
-Add cilantro in pot, mix together, and serve!
-You can garnish with fresh cilantro, lime, avocado, or Greek yogurt mixed with lime juice (tastes like sour cream).  I have also baked a Food for Life brand tortilla, then cut it into strips to make a healthier version of tortilla strips to garnish with.
If making as a freezer meal:

No cooking is required when prepping this freezer meal. Use all the same ingredients as above.  When I make this into a freezer meal I put all the ingredients in a gallon-size freezer ziploc bag EXCEPT for the broth – you add that the day you cook your meal.  Make sure to push out any extra air in your ziploc bag before sealing to prevent freezer burn.  The day before I want to make this for dinner I will usually pull it out of the freezer and stick it in the fridge to defrost.  Put all ingredients (plus 3-4 cans of chicken broth) in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.  I usually write on the outside of the bag “add 3 cans broth” just as a reminder.  The crockpot works really well, especially if some of your ingredients are still a little frozen.  You don’t have to use a crockpot if you don’t want to, you can also cook it like I described above in a pot on the stove in about 30 minutes.