September 12th, 2014 at 5:21 pm
The onset of fall weather and the smell of apples cooking makes me want to start bringing out my fall decorations. This year, I decided to make my own wreath out of burlap. It was really easy and very customizable, so it can be used year-round. I love the way it turned out with a couple of fall additions.
First you need a Metal Wreath Ring. It’s only a couple of dollars and is sold in many different sizes. You also need a couple spools of wired burlap ribbon, which come in all kinds of patterns, colors, and textures. I used the 2.5 inch x 7 yard spools and went through 2 of them. At our local hobby store they sell 30 foot spools which probably would have been a better option in hindsight…it depends on how many wreaths you want to make. When I looped my burlap I did smaller, tighter loops, so if you like it more loopy then you will want more feet of ribbon.
The first step is to tie the ribbon onto the wreath frame. I looped it through the wire and then tied a knot to hold it. Every time I added a new spool of ribbon I repeated this step.
The next step is to pull the burlap up through the first space. Pull the burlap through to make a loop. Once you complete a loop, take the end, twist, and do it in the next slat. Once you have finished the first row, weave and loop in the other direction to make a second row. I used this video to help to demonstrate the process.
You keep this process up until you go all the way around the wreath. At the end, I tied another knot (just like I started), and concealed it under the loops.
Then I picked up some decorative pumpkins and fall berries on sticks to weave into the wreath, and made a bow with some fall ribbon that I had on hand. I didn’t want to glue anything on the wreath so I can change out the decor for different holidays, but feel free to make yours permanent. I am thinking about adding a painted “R” in the middle at some point for our last name initial.
Here are some other wreath inspirations for you to make one all your own!
September 9th, 2014 at 12:39 pm
Fall is in the air…and when I think of fall, the first thing that comes to mind is apples!
Here are some of our favorite apple recipes that you might want to try out this fall. You’ll also find my personal recipe for Apple Crumble Pie at the bottom! Every year we visit an apple farm for apple picking. Check and see if there are any near you!
Caramel Apple Salad (This is my go-to dish for pot lucks, birthday parties, and every event we host. There are never leftovers!)
Apple Crumble Pie
● 5 cups of baking apples, cubed and peeled
● 1/2 cup sugar
● 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
● 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
● 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
● 1 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)
~~ — Topping — ~~
● 1/2 cup sugar
● 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
● 1/2 cup butter or margarine
In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients and spoon the mixture into the pie shell. For the topping, combine sugar and flour, then cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping on the pie filling. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375° and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the topping is browned and the apples are tender. Cover the crust edges with foil during the last 15 minutes if needed. Cool the pie completely before cutting. Yield: 6-8 servings.
September 5th, 2014 at 4:56 pm
Everyone should put aside some time to reconnect with their family each day. Dinner time is a great time to do this when you are all sitting at the table together. For many families, this is one of the only times during the day that you can actually have a full conversation. However, as kids get more involved in school and activities, and parents have obligations outside of the home, sometimes dinner isn’t always a full family gathering. Here are some tips to make sure you’re connecting as a family:
- If someone is missing for dinner, you should still gather the rest of the family around the table when they do eat. Serve dessert to everyone else while the late family members are eating dinner, that way you’re still eating together.
- Evaluate your day to determine the best time family time for your family’s schedule.
- Build a daily review into your bedtime routine with the kids.
- Go on a family walk and talk while getting exercise.
- Gather the whole family for a different meal. If everyone is around during breakfast and it isn’t as hectic as later in the day, that may work better.
- While driving kids places, talk to them while they are traveling in the car with you.
Some days, the only time my husband and I get to talk with my nine-year-old is while he is showering before bed. He chats from the other side of the shower curtain. Active kids are busy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find time to talk! Find what works for your family and enjoy those conversations!
September 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 pm
One of the best ways to have children behave appropriately is by focusing on rewarding them for good behavior. I find that my kids LOVE to receive little “extras” and it motivates them to think about their actions. Positive reinforcement can often yield better results than punishment.
Here are some great ways to reward behavior:
Give Praise – This goes without saying, really. Simple things like saying “Thank You’”, “I Love You”, and “Good Job”, can sometimes go a long way.
Special Items Or Toys – Have a box filled with little trinkets for the children to select from. When they acheive something we have been working on, or when they go out of their way to do something nice, they get to choose an item from this box as a reward.
Sweet Treats- Reward them with a piece of candy or another treat that is out of the ordinary. This isn’t the best thing to do right around bedtime, but every now and then i let my kids have ice cream in the morning when they’ve behaved well!
Reward With Activity – Use favorite activities or special trips do as a reward. A bounce house place, the zoo, a museum, miniature golf, the water park, etc. are great options for letting kids know they’ve been behaving well.
Give Your Child More Privileges – Kids love to do what they’re usually not allowed to, especially when older children and parents can do them. For example, children love to stay up past their bedtime. Allow them to stay up later usual, watch a “big kid” movie, etc.
Show With Affection - Reward them with some extra snuggle time on the couch or even a big hug.
How do you reward good behavior?
August 29th, 2014 at 1:18 pm
Breakfast is one of my nemesis’. The boys get bored with the same thing, so I try to mix it up as much as I can. This muffin mix allows you to use one mix and change it up with different ingredients to make different types of muffins. These also freeze wonderfully!
Plain Muffin Mix
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
Cupcake wrappers, vegetable cooking spray or butter for greasing tins.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.
Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in one-half of dry ingredients. Beat in yogurt. Beat in remaining dry ingredients, until incorporated.
Spray 12-cup muffin tin or put wrappers in it. Spoon batter into tins and bake until muffins are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve. They freeze wonderfully!
Feel free to add chocolate chips, nuts or blueberries to main mix or follow some of the variations below.
Raspberry Almond Muffins
Follow the main recipe and add 3 tablespoons almond extract with butter and sugar. Spoon one-half of a portion of batter into each cup. With small spoon, make a well in center of each cup of dough. Spoon 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons raspberry (or other flavored) jam into each well. Cover with remaining batter.
Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Follow the main recipe and add 3 tablespoons poppy seeds to the dry ingredients, and 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest to the butter-sugar mixture. While muffins are baking, heat 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice from 2 small lemons in small saucepan until sugar dissolves and mixture forms light syrup, 3-4 minutes. Brush warm syrup over warm muffins and serve.
Banana Walnut Muffins
Follow the main recipe adding 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg to dry ingredients, substituting 1 cup packed light brown sugar for granulated sugar and folding 1 1/2 cups finely diced bananas (about 3 small) and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts into finished batter.
What’s your favorite kind of muffin?
August 26th, 2014 at 3:59 pm
“So…what’s for dinner?”
This doesn’t have to be a nightly question that you scratch your head over. Having a menu planned out means you never have to wonder, and you’ll save time and money!
Setting a plan for 1 week, 2 weeks, or even 1 month can:
- Eliminate those pesky multiple trips to the grocery store every week.
- Make use of what is on sale at your local stores, saving you money.
- Cut back on wasted food –cut back on eating out, take out, pizza delivery, etc.
- The ability to buy in bulk from planning ahead can save you money as well.
How Do I Start?
First, consider how much storage space you have. Planning a menu for an entire month may not be possible if you don’t have a place to stash all of the ingredients you’ll need. Make an estimate of what your storage areas can accommodate.
Start small. Try planning for a few days at a time, then work your way up. Think about how and what your family eats, i.e. When a recipe says “serves 4,” does it really serve 4 in your family? Do you eat leftovers for dinner, or is this not an option? Does your family like to eat bread with every dinner? Is dessert a nightly occurrence? If so, will you have to make dessert nightly or can a pan of brownies last 2-3 nights?
A “Master Plan” may be a good starting point:
Sunday = Beef
Monday = Chicken
Tuesday = Leftovers
Wednesday = Pasta
Thursday = Vegetarian
Friday = Fish
Saturday = Mexican
Or, have a themed night every night (Italian night, Mexican night, Asian night, etc.).
To make things easier, keep a list of “family favorites” to rotate into your menu plan…customizing the plan to your family will help make it work for you.
When you’ve created a base for your meal planning, decide on the actual recipes/meals you want to make each night. Check the recipes against your existing items to avoid buying ingredients you already have on hand. Create the shopping list and head to the supermarket for an efficient trip!
What is your favorite menu planning resource?
August 22nd, 2014 at 12:03 pm
There are so many things I want to do, places I want to see, and experiences I want to have in my lifetime. This is a mental bucket list…but it’s time to put it to paper. Then I have a constant reminder of my dreams.
First, I found a journal I loved. Find a journal or pad of paper that feels special to you. Something you can’t wait to pick up and look through. Then you just need to go for it…..DREAM! Write all kinds of things you would like to accomplish, see, and do. I set a goal of 100 items to begin with. That might be somewhat ambitious, but it really gets you to delve into things you have always wanted to do.
When I first started my bucket list I took a couple of hours to myself and just wrote down everything I could think of. Escape to a corner of your house, a coffee shop, or a favorite area in your town. Go somewhere that may inspire you. When I was a working mom we were constantly asked to create BHAG’s – Big Hairy Audacious Goals. With your bucket list, don’t feel like any item is too big, because you really never know.
Be sure to add to this list as you go through life whether it be yearly, monthly, or every couple of years. It is fun to look back and see things that you have accomplished on it, or things that you may have forgotten were on the list.
Have fun and DREAM BIG!
August 18th, 2014 at 3:37 pm
I am a recipe hoarder. I have cookbooks, printed recipes, written recipes, and tons of bookmarked recipes stored in so many places on the Internet and on my computer. I am in the process of trying to consolidate all these recipes in two places…on paper and online. My tried and true recipes that I make regularly are stored in a binder. These are printed and slipped in plastic sheet covers so they are easy to refer to and don’t get messy while i’m cooking.
Everything else is stored online. I also store my tried and true online so I can refer to them when out and about. Sometimes when you are grocery shopping you decide you really need to make that one favorite recipe for dinner. Here are a couple of ways you can organize your recipes online for safekeeping.
I am currently making my household as paperless as I can with Evernote, and a desktop scanner. I bookmark my online recipes to Evernote, and scan my paper recipes and save them to the app as well. I love that i’m able to add tags so the recipes are easily searchable, and if I save my scanned documents right, the handwriting or typing becomes searchable too. I use the app Evernote Food on my phone and iPad to help search for the perfect recipes and view them when i’m on-the-go.
This app can be used on mobile or desktop and is strictly for recipes. There is a nice built-in browser which helps you import recipes easily. One of the best parts is the grocery list, which adds up all your recipes and make a list from all the ingredients you need.
This is a great way to access recipes through imagery. Make different boards for food categories and save each recipe link cataloged there by picture and description. You can even add your own descriptions.
Online Storage Service (Dropbox, iCloud, or Google Drive)
Save each recipe as a file and organize by folders. This is a great way to access recipes from many different locations.
How do you organize your recipes?
August 15th, 2014 at 11:25 am
A great way to save on vacations all year long is going on a “staycation.” A staycation is when you stay in your own town or somewhere closeby to have your family vacation. This cuts costs by eliminating the need for expensive airline tickets and hotel stays. Plus, you get to sleep in your own, comfortable bed! Staycations can also be quick overnights that don’t require extensive stays at a hotel or resort.
Visit local museums
Go to the movies or a play
Visit a nearby zoo, aquarium, or amusement park
Rent a boat or other water sports items
Take a hike or bike ride
Go to a sporting event
Go mini golfing, go karting or other fun things you would do on vacation
Eat out and try some new places
The most important part is to RELAX just like you are on vacation. Let chores go for the week, put away the computer, and put down the phone! Take time to reconnect with your kids and spouse so you can laugh and talk and create memories! Be sure to get the camera out and document all the fun you have!
August 13th, 2014 at 1:01 pm
The first day of school is a day filled with excitement and nervousness. It also is the perfect day to come together with your child after school to talk. Celebrate with some special treats! Your child will most likely be hot, tired, excited and most of all starving!!
Frozen Grapes – String some grapes on a stick and freeze. This is great for the child that is overheated!
Crudite Platter – If your child loves veggies, cut some up and serve with their favorite dip!
Waffle and Peanut Butter – heat up a waffle in the toaster and cover with peanut butter.