Thursday, December 18, 2014

Easy Inexpensive Holiday Gift with Free Printable

My husband needed a few little holiday gifts for some of his staff.  He gives his teachers something a little nicer than this, but since he pays for all of these gifts out of his own pocket, we couldn't afford something that nice for everyone that helps at the school.  We didn't want anyone to feel left out or unappreciated though, so we made up some of these little hand sanitizers with a cute little holiday tag.

These were so easy, just print out the tags, punch them out with a one-inch circle punch and tie the tab onto the little gift with some cute twine.

If you would like to print off some little holiday tags like these you can download them for free here.

Cute, simple, and hopefully all of his faculty and staff will know how much he appreciates their hard work.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Simple Paperclip Angel Ornaments

Every year my boys and I make an ornament to hang on the tree.  They are all labeled with their name and the year, so someday they can take their ornaments with them when they have a home and tree of their own.

This year, I needed to keep it really simple, so we made these easy, low-mess, angel ornaments.  I am sure that they are not new to any of you, this has been a really popular pin on Pinterest for years, but I wanted to share our experience with them and how they went over with the boys.

We used this tutorial - which is perfect.  The only thing I did differently was I threaded both ends of the ribbon through a darner needle before threading it through the bead.  It made it a million times easier for me.  I also made sure the ribbon was threaded through the beads before I started the craft with my boys. That way they didn't have to wait for me to thread them and they could just get started on tying them together.

I was a little worried that my boys would think these angels were a little too girly, but they seemed to like them just fine.  The little ones obviously needed more help than the big boys, but the ornaments came together quickly and with minimal frustration for the boys (and therefore for me).

When my husband got home and my boys showed him their work, he was genuinely impressed.  It was a winner all around.  If you are looking for a simple ornament project, this one is for you.

Below are a few affiliate links to products that are similar to what we used.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Teacher Gifts for Christmas with Free Printable

Last night the boys and I put together the gifts they are giving their teachers for Christmas.  I want to start by saying that my husband is a school principal and former teacher and teacher gifts are never expected, but they are always appreciated no matter what they are, but he did find that the consumable gifts were probably the ones he liked the most.  So, I always try to give something that can be used up and will be useful to almost anyone.

I ran onto this cute idea on Pinterest and immediately pinned it because it fit perfectly into my consumable and useful criteria.  (Plus, I really love Burt's Bees lip balm).  Her printable is sooo much cuter than mine and super inexpensive,  I checked to see if her shop had a holiday version, because I wanted something Christmas-y, but to no avail, so I quickly made up my own simple holiday version based on her idea.

We packaged them up in a little cellophane bag with a cute bow, to make them look a little more festive, but they could also be presented just as a card with the lip balm attached.  I am including an affiliate link below to the lip balm we used.

Please check out her cute all-occasion printable, it would be perfect to give at Christmas; during Teacher Appreciation Week; or any other time that a teacher gift is warranted. 

If you would like to use my Christmas version, you can download it for free here.

Simple, Useful, Consumable, and Cute.  The perfect teacher gift!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tangy Meatballs

I know I have been posting heavily on the food end of things lately.  Even though I don't get to do many creative things while we are living in our small place temporarily, I still have to feed my family.  So, I am making an effort to post a few of our favorite recipes when I make them.

This recipe is a keeper for sure.  Everyone that I have made it for has demanded the recipe.  It is easy to make and the meatballs freeze beautifully, which allows for a quick evening meal for the family, or even a simple lunch for me and the little kids during the day.  They can easily be reheated in the microwave, stovetop, or the slow cooker.  When I freeze them I don't freeze them in the sauce, but if I am reheating them in the slow cooker or on the stove top, I make up the sauce and then reheat them slowly, simmering in the sauce.  If I am reheating them in the microwave, them they reheat well without the sauce.

We usually eat these with the sauce in the recipe, but we have tried them in other sauces as well, and even used them as meatballs with our spaghetti, and they are always delicious.  They are extremely versatile.

One last tip - - make sure that you don't overmix the meatballs one the meat is added, or your meat will bind up and your meatballs will be tough.

If you are looking for a go-to meatball recipe, give this a try.  It is a winner.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

1 ½ lbs. ground beef
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup rolled oats
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp. pepper
pinch sage leaves
2 T. milk
½ cup onions, finely chopped
Combine all ingredients except the beef in a large bowl.  Add the beef and mix together with hands until just evenly incorporated.  Shape into 1” – 1 ½” balls.  Place on a sheet pan and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

2 cans (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 T. vinegar
3 T. brown sugar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
Combine all ingredients in a large skillet, add cooked meatballs and simmer together until hot.  Serve over rice.
* We also like to serve these meatballs with a sauce made up of 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce and an equal part sweet baby rays bbq sauce.

** These meatballs freeze really well.  When I make them, I usually double the recipe, bake them up and then put half of them in the freezer for a quick meal later on.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday's Tip - Chocolate Chip Cookies

Would you like to take your chocolate chip cookies up a notch?  It only takes one simple thing - - just cover the dough and let it chill out overnight in the refrigerator.

I read awhile ago that if you let your chocolate chip cookie dough "age" overnight that it will help take your cookies over the top.  I didn't get around to trying it for a long time because, let's face it, when I get the craving for chocolate chip cookies I am probably not going to have the patience to wait until the next day after I have mixed up the dough to bake and eat them.  Then, a few weeks ago, I decided to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies to take on a road trip we had been planning, so I decided to try out this little trick.  I made up the dough, chilled it overnight, and then baked them a few hours before we left. I did this mostly to save time and clean-up on the day that we were leaving, but I was also curious about whether or not it would make any difference.

Let me tell you - - the wait was totally worth it.  The trick works and my already beloved and delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe became even better.

Give it a try sometime.  I imagine you will be as happy as I was.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dirty Rice - Kid Friendly Version

For those Cajun Food Purists out there, this recipe is sure to be a sacrilege.  It is not the burn your taste buds spicy that you would get in authentic Cajun Dirty Rice, but we love it this way, and it is a dish that even my tiniest boy can eat. My husband and older boys kick up the spicy factor with some hot sauce.

All of my boys love this dish - I mean love, love, love, it - scrape-the-pan clean love it.  In addition, it is super simple to make, so it makes frequent appearances at our house.  We also love eating this with oranges.  There is just something about eating an orange wedge, and then taking a bite of this stuff that takes it up another level for us.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

Dirty Rice

1 to 1 1/2 lbs sausage, cooked and drained
1 cup uncooked rice
3 or 4 celery stalks
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups chicken consomme or 2 cups water + 2 chicken bouillon cubes

Fry sausage and drain.  Add all other ingredients.  Mix together and bring to a simmer. Cover pan with lid and simmer at lowest possible heat for 45 - 60 minutes.  Stir and serve.

So, if you have ever wanted to try Dirty Rice, but were afraid of that Cajun spiciness, give this a try.  It is a hit at our house.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Easy Halloween Centerpiece

I'm just popping in to share the cutest, easiest Halloween Centerpiece I have come across in a long time.

This is not my creation.  These were made to put on the tables at our church Halloween party and I thought they were so creative.  It was one of those moments when I thought to myself - -"Why didn't I think of that?"

I apologize for the horrible picture, but I took this in a hurry, in bad fluorescent lighting, while holding a wiggly three year old.

Basically, they just spray painted a large number 10 can black and filled it with small branches and twigs that had some small, withering leaves still attached.  They had spray painted the twigs and branches black too, as well as some spanish moss  that they tucked into the base of the arrangement at the top of the can. they tied an orange ribbon around the can and voila - a cute halloween centerpiece.  I love it!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Well, Hello There!!

I have not forgotten this blog of mine - it is just that sometimes life gets challenging and some things have to go on the back burner for awhile.  Don't worry.  Nothing major is wrong and we are grateful for that.

In my last  post I mentioned that we were in the middle of purchasing a new home.  When the inspection on it came back, we found out that it had a lot of little problems and a couple of MAJOR problems.  We were still willing to buy the home, if the sellers were willing to fix just the most major problem, but after stringing us along for two weeks, they finally told us they would not fix it without us increasing the purchase price - so we got out of the contract.  It is still a nice home and I hope that someone can afford to buy it, do all the repairs, and then renovate it, but it all became a little too much for our budget.  I am sad that it didn't work out, and we have been unable to find anything else that is even close to what we want, so we are still in our little rental property.

Due to being in such a small space, all of my "creative stuff" is in storage, so, therefore, I haven't been posting.  I miss all of it, but it will just have to wait a little while longer until the right house comes along.  Rest assured, I will not be MIA forever.

We did manage to escape our living quarters for a trip to Disneyland a couple of weeks ago.

We visited the London Bridge on the drive down.  Did you know that the actual London Bridge, from London, England is now in Lake Havasu City, Arizona?  True story!!  The founder of Lake Havasu City, an American oilman, purchased it, had it dismantled and carefully labeled, and then reassembled here in Arizona.  It is an interesting story, and really fun to see if you are ever in the vicinity.  We are glad we took the time to see it.

We spent 3 days at  Disneyland park and California Adventure.

And we also took a day off to go to the beach.  It was a perfect day!!

Once again, I apologize for my absence, and it will probably be a little slow around here for a little while, but keep checking in.  As soon as I have a house again I will get back to regular posting.

 I can't wait!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday's Tip - Baby Briefcase

I have been ignoring this blog lately.  So sorry.  Moving has taken a lot of work and now we are in the process of buying a new (to us) home.  Even though I have been through the home buying process before, I am still shocked at how it disrupts my routine and takes so much time out of my day.  So, in order to get a little something up on the blog, I decided to revive "Tuesday's Tip" and share one of my favorite little organizational tricks.

 Many years ago, when my oldest boys were tiny, I ran onto this great idea.  A baby briefcase is a little expandable folder where you can keep all of your little one's important documents organized and safe.  However, the high price tag was not quite so attractive to me.  So, I decided to take the awesome concept and make my own little baby briefcases for just a couple of dollars.

I found small vinyl expandable file folders and added their names to them.

Then I labeled the tabs with the things I was planning on storing in each section, like, birth certificate, immunization record, etc.and put all those important documents in there.  All of these little files are kept in a safe place where I can easily access them when needed.

I kept mine pretty basic, after all, someday I am going to be handing these over to grown men to take care of for the rest of their lives, so I decided I didn't want them to look too juvenile.

These little homemade baby briefcases are a quick and easy project and help to keep all those important documents organized and easy to find.

Friday, July 11, 2014


I have been absent from this blog for too long again.  Partly because my kids are out of school.  Partly because we have been spending a lot of time travelling.  But, mostly because we sold our house and have been working feverishly to get moved out.

We decided about a month ago to put our house on the market.  We have simply outgrown it and need to get into something bigger, but were worried that our house would take a  long time to sell in the sluggish market in our area.  To our surprise, our house sold in just four days, causing us to scramble to make other arrangements.  Luckily, our house sold at almost the exact same time as our renters decided to move out of our rental property across town.  So, for now, we are all trying to cram our lives into an even smaller place until we can buy or build something bigger.

So, as I say goodbye to my little starter home, I want to post pictures of it on the blog, so I can always remember this special little home.  After all, it was the place where I brought four of my five babies home from the hospital.  It is where they all learned to crawl, walk, and talk.  It is the place where there were lots of tears, but also lots of hugs, laughter, love, and lots of learning.

These pictures were taken during various stages of our moving process, so, some rooms may look a bit more barren than others.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chicken Cabbage Salad

I can't take credit for this recipe.  I got it years ago from a friend's mother, and I know that it is widely available.  I also know that there are several variations of this recipe - and I have tried many of them - but in my opinion, this one blows all the others out of the water.  Even my husband, who is not a fan of "chick food", loves this salad and will eat it as a meal.  To me, it is the perfect recipe to add to your summer rotation.

click here for a printable version of this recipe

Chicken Cabbage Salad

1/2 head cabbage chopped
4 green onions, chopped
3/4 cup slivered or chopped almonds
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)
1 cup cooked shredded chicken (I always use a little more)
1 pkg. Ramen Noodles - broken up

1/2 cup oil
3 Tbsp. sugar
Seasoning packet from Ramen Noodles

Toast almonds and sesame seeds on cookie sheet at 350 for 8 minutes. Let cool.  Mix all ingredients together.  Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over salad.  Toss to coat well.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.
*Note:  Most people think that this salad is best if it has had several hours for the flavors to meld together before serving.  It is delicious that way, but personally, I love it best fresh when the noodles and almonds are still crunchy and you can still taste the freshness of the cabbage.  So, try it both ways and see what you think.

Friday, May 9, 2014

HST sampler blocks - the rest

My husband was out of town for a few days, and I kind of got on a roll with these HST sampler blocks. I used every last one of my leftovers.  I don't know quite what got into me, but maybe I just had fun putting these together and not worrying about them being perfect.  It was a perfect late-night activity for me.

I'm not sure when I will get these all put together into a quilt top with summer on its way, but it is nice to have them finished.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Simple Teacher Gifts with Free Printable

It suddenly occurred to me that this is Teacher Appreciation Week, and I needed to get some gifts together FAST!! I went looking online and found this adorable idea.  I was about to print out her cute tags and then remembered that I am running very low on colored ink in my printer and I knew that I would never have enough ink to print those colorful tags out for all of my boys' teachers.  So, I took a few minutes to make up my own simple tag, with the same sentiment.

I attached the tags to individual pens with cute baker's twine for my boys' teachers.

But they would also be cute tied into a bundle.

Or presented in a jar.

If you would like to download my gift tag, click here.

And since I know good quality baker's twine is not always readily available in all areas, I am including some affiliate links to good baker's twine below.

Such a simple, inexpensive, and fast teacher gift.

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