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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crafty Link-Up: Snowmen

It's hard to believe that it's almost December, and it has snowed ONCE in our lovely little Minnesotan town. Not that I'm complaining...Here are some snowmen to tide you over until the real thing comes around.

I remember making one of these sock snowmen as a craft project in grade school, and my mom still gets it out every year.

Or, if you can't bear to part with a sock (or yours are too full of holes), how about a water bottle snowman?

These simple drawn on snowmen faces make me smile.

If you have (or thrift) an old muffin tin that's not being used, how about painting it with snowmen?

You can use the little plastic containers from quarter toys or nylons to make a snowman ornament or garland, or Advent calendar with a little treat in each one.

And it wouldn't be the holiday season without some yummy cookies! Simple decorated snowmen cookies, or...

...white chocolate covered Nutter Butters. Yum!

And there are plenty more where those came from. Go look at my Christmas board for more wintry fun!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Coffee Creamer Snowman: A Naptime Project

Naptime projects are quick, easy projects that can be done in less than an hour while the little one(s) sleep.

I saw this guy on Pinterest (of course!) the other day, and I just happened to have a nearly empty bottle of creamer. This is a project that can take as little or as much time as you want. It took me about a minute to cut off the label and Sharpie on some features. And then I spent about 30 minutes knitting a little scarf for this guy. But you could just wrap a few strands of yarn around him for about the same effect.

As winter progresses, I expect more of these guys will make an appearance in my house. And then at the end of the season, I'll probably recycle them, but keep any decorative elements in a baggie for next year.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Who's tired of turkey? I am, kind of. We ate some for leftovers, and portioned the rest out to freeze. We'll be using it in place of chicken in some of our upcoming meals, so you can basically assume that chicken means turkey.

Monday: Chicken Alfredo Pizza (we have some alfredo sauce left over from last week's lasagna)
Tuesday/Wednesday: Burritos with Chicken, Black Beans, Rice, Corn, and Black Olives
Thursday: Dollar Dinner at the Beacon (last one of the semester!)
Friday: Cinnamon Roll Pancakes
Saturday: Black Bean Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries
Sunday: Leftover Mashed Potato Soup (from extra Thanksgiving mashed potatoes from the freezer)

Monday: Chicken Noodle Casserole
Tuesday: SW Potato Corn Chowder
Wednesday/Thursday: Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole
Friday: Breakfast Sandwiches with eggs like this
Saturday: English Muffin Pizzas
Sunday: Stir Fry

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What I'm Reading...

Saving Pennies or Dollars? Light Bulbs. Jesse and I were discussing switching all of our light bulbs that we haven't already switched to energy-efficient ones, but I was skeptical about how much money that would save and said we should just switch them as they burn out. I was wrong. I haven't told him yet though... (The Simple Dollar)

Becoming a Thankful Mom
. I've been trying this this week, and there have been times it has helped. There have also been moments when it didn't. (Life Your Way)\

Self-Help Advice from a 2-Year-Old
. (Jason Good)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Handmade Christmas: Duck and Goose Ornaments

I made this little duck and goose ornament set for my father-in-law. He is a hunter, and we have enjoyed both duck and goose during visits to his house! These little guys were pretty simple to make, and I finished them both within a day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Handmade Christmas: Mickey Mouse Ornament

Over the next month or so I'll be posting some of the Christmas presents I'm making. I'm going to start out with those for people who I know don't look at this blog, but the rest of you family members should probably take a break from reading until after Christmas once we get to about mid-December. Unless you hate surprises. But I warned you, so it's not my fault...

I made this simple Mickey ornament from some wire and yarn. The wire I had gotten when our JoAnn's was moving and had their big clearance sale. It was pretty easy to twist into a Mickey shape. The yarn is wrapped a little more thickly around the ends of the wire so no one gets poked. Easy peasy!

Crafty Link-Up: Turkeys

In honor of Thanksgiving, here are some turkeys!

Who says you can't have dessert first? There are several variations of this edible turkey.

Or, for a healthier version, choose this fruit and veggie gobbler.

These egg carton turkeys would be easy table decor.

And last, but not least, these cookie turkey pieces look like so much fun!

For more turkeys and fall fun, check out my Thanksgiving board!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Toddler Fleece Blanket

I love making these fleece knot blankets. They are really easy and really warm. Jonah likes his!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What I'm Reading...

Is Mealtime a Battlefield? How to Feed Your Picky Eaters. I love the point to take advantage of what they love now. If Jonah wants to nibble on carrots and apples while I'm cutting them up, even though it's getting close to mealtime, I'm not going to deter that. (The Happiest Mom)

Dave Ramsey Soup
. This is an interesting idea. (Money Saving Mom)

Doing My Own Recycling. Here is a huge collection of things made from other things. There aren't links to any of them right now, but even just looking at the photos can give you lots of ideas. (Proverbs 31 Living)

Confronting the Terror of Being a Stay-at-Home Mom. I didn't work full time or give up a career to be a stay-at-homer, but I do feel some of the same things as in this article. (Offbeat Mama)

3 Ways to Change Your Organizing Habits
. Giving yourself false deadlines for important things is smart. (Life Your Way)

Black Friday Shopping Tips and Hints
. The only store I know for sure I'm going to is CVS. I generally try to stay away from the craziness. But if you are going out, here are some tips. (Creative Couponing)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Birthday and Anniversary Board Part 1

I've been planning to do this birthday board ever since I saw it on Pinterest. I bought the little wooden circles and hearts right away, and then stalled out on the project for awhile. Then I found the big board in the scrap pile at Home Depot for 89 cents. Way cheaper than the $7 or so I would have had to pay at Hobby Lobby!

So I figured I would start. I found this awesome tip for doing letters and numbers so that they look stenciled without a stencil, and bonus! you can choose your font.

The only problem with that little tip, or maybe it's because I don't have a teeny weeny tiny paintbrush, is that it won't work for the specific names/dates on the little buttons. I tried to freehand one, and that will only work if each person's name is 4 letters or less. So Nate and Adam can have birthdays, but Grandma Marilyn? Not so much. So I'll be off to get a paint pen or white Sharpie (do they make those?) in the next few days to finish.

But for now, I think the board itself turned out pretty well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crafty Link-Up: Book Page Projects

One of the more recent crafty trends is to make projects out of old books or just book pages. I think they're pretty neat, but I don't know if I could honestly cut up books.

Christmas is just over a month away (crazy!). Make some cute trees out of book pages.

Or make a wreath for your door. There are lots of options for this, but I like these book page rosettes.
Did you know you could feed a book page through a printer? Me either, but it makes sense. I would probably have to be OCD about it and make sure the topic of the book page matched my picture.
Or, you could just decoupage a bunch onto a canvas and use Sharpies to decorate.

And finally, who doesn't need another way to store all those pens and pencils on the desk? Do it with book pages!

There's more where these came from - click over to see my Book Page Projects board.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday and Chicken Alfredo Lasagna Recipe

Lunches:
  • Grilled Cheese/Pizza Pockets with leftover sauce and Canadian bacon from last night
  • PB & J x4
  • Turkey Sandwiches x3 (although this might change, as I realized last night that I didn't buy more turkey, and we don't have a ton left)
  • Egg Salad Sandwiches
  • Leftovers
  • Mac & Cheese x2
  • Quesadillas
  • Hot Dogs
Dinners:

Monday/Tuesday: Slow Cooker Tuscan Bean Soup (this has been sitting in my "to try" recipe pile at least since I worked at the hotel...meaning before Matthew was born almost 8 months ago)
Wednesday: Ham, Spinach, and Mushroom Pasta with Walnut Pesto (Rachael Ray recipe - I'm always on the lookout for Italian food without tomatoes)
Thursday: Dollar Dinner at the Beacon
Friday/Saturday: Veggie Pot Pie (it's really not much harder to make two than to make one)
Sunday: Tacos (using taco meat/bean mix from the freezer - I always make a double batch and freeze half)
Monday: Toscana Soup (posting this in last week's crafty link-up reminded me how yummy it is)
Tuesday/Wednesday: Chicken Alfredo Lasagna (this was delicious when we had it last week, so I'm going to do one and a half times the filling to make it thicker so it will last for two days)
Thursday: Thanksgiving Dinner (just the four of us this year)
Friday: Thanksgiving Leftovers
Saturday/Sunday: Turkey Stuffing Casserole (a great way to reinvent Thanksgiving leftovers)

Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 8oz. can mushrooms
  • 16oz. cottage cheese
  • 16oz. alfredo sauce
  • 1-2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach, thawed (optional)
  • garlic powder, Italian seasoning, onion powder (1/4-1/2 tsp. of each)
  • 8-10 lasagna noodles, cooked
Directions:
Mix together chicken, mushrooms, cottage cheese, spinach, half of alfredo sauce, half of cheese, and spices. Spread half in 13x9 pan. Top with lasagna noodles. Repeat layers. Top with remaining sauce and cheese. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until heated through.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What I'm Reading...

Is Silicone Bakeware Really Safe? I've wanted some silicone muffin cups for awhile, so I had to read this when it popped up. (The answer is yes, as far as they can tell, by the way, and at the very least certainly better than teflon) (Life Your Way)

How to Be a Generous Host Without Busting the Budget
. It's been awhile since we've really hosted anything. (Money Saving Mom)

Children as Financial Paradox
. Everyone knows children cost money. But the non-monetary rewards are pretty great. That being said, there are some trade-offs. (The Simple Dollar)

We Disconnected the Internet at Home and Lived to Tell the Tale
. I often wonder how we would fare if we did this. I think we'd do okay, but right now that's a big part of my social interaction, so I'd for sure miss that aspect. But I bet I would get more done! I just wouldn't be able to post about it... (Offbeat Home)

Good Food, Bad Food: Does Diet Dogma Really Make Us Healthier?
If someone said that to me (read the post), I would probably have to refrain from calling them a self-righteous something or other. All foods are fine in moderation. Treats are treats. (The Happiest Mom)

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life: Discipline Is a Choice
. I'm trying to be more disciplined about what foods I eat. It only takes a few weeks to develop a habit, so here's hoping. My problem right now is all the leftover Halloween candy, and the holiday goodies that just look so, well, good. (Money Saving Mom)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Crafty Link-Up: Soups

Fall is upon us (and winter soon to follow!), so it's time for soups to return to the menu. Here are some of my favorites, and some I haven't tried yet, but would like to.

First up, black bean soup with rice. The only reason I haven't tried this yet is because I haven't gotten any of the seasoned black beans.

I love this Slow Cooker Jamaican Red Bean Stew. The only drawback for me is that Jesse doesn't like sweet potatoes, and Jonah can't eat tomatoes. So rather than a dump and cook, it becomes a dump most of it to cook, fry up sweet potatoes for Jonah and me, and add tomatoes after I dish up Jonah's. But it's totally worth it.

This is another of our favorites: Crockpot White Bean and Sausage Soup. Slow cooker soups and stews are awesome!

This post actually has 10 soup recipes, including one for Panera's Broccoli Cheese Soup, one of my favorites. I really want to try this one!

And finally, my friend Sarah posted a recipe for Olive Garden's Toscana Soup, which we have only had once, but it was delicious, and very much like the restaurant version. I think we'll have to have it again soon!

My soup board is sadly lacking. Someone find me some more yummy soup recipes, quick! Bonus points if they use the slow cooker...

Birthday Cards: A Naptime Project

Naptime projects are quick, easy projects that can be done in less than an hour while the little one(s) sleep.

What's a birthday without birthday cards? I put these together for Jesse's birthday tomorrow, one from me, and one from the kids.

For the one from me, I used a patterned paper for the background, and sewed some little paper hearts together for a banner. I wrote him a note on the inside. That's not for you. :)


For the boys, I did a simple stick drawing, and a conversation bubble cut out from a magazine page. I let Jonah color a picture on the back.

Easy cards that will bring a smile to Jesse's face!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

iDad T-Shirt: A Naptime Project

Naptime projects are quick, easy projects that can be done in less than an hour while the little one(s) sleep.


Jesse's birthday is on Thursday. He is a hard person to shop for, because there are a few boring things that he needs, and not too much that he wants. So I decided to make him an iDad shirt, since he likes his iPad so much. I had seen a few freezer paper tutorials for putting designs on shirts, but a) I couldn't find freezer paper, b) I didn't want to cut out the stencils for this text because that would have been hard, and c) we already had this print and iron-on paper.

I went to good old Wikipedia and discovered that Apple's font is a variation of Garamond, so I just used that. Close enough. For the iron-on, you have to reverse the text, so I made my words into WordArt in Microsoft Word so that I could flip them around. It took me a little while to figure out how to do that, which is why I mention it. (The little words say "Established 2009", by the way - that's when Jonah was born).


I printed it out yesterday and stuck it in a drawer (it's supposed to dry for at least 30 minutes, and I figured the kids would be awake by then). So I ironed it on today. Finished shirt! The whole thing was pretty inexpensive (Walmart sells plain t-shirts in the craft section for just over $3.00), and I think he'll find it funny, like I do.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What I'm Reading...

10 Steps to Avoid Organizing Overwhelm. I find that starting something, anything at all, is a domino effect to more organizing. (Life Your Way)

What's Your Definition of Successful Parenting? To not go crazy? In all seriousness, to raise my boys to love Jesus and love others. (Simple Mom)

How a Broken Refrigerator Can Motivate You to Clear Your Desk. I like the P-A-P-E-R method for dealing with paper. (Life Your Way)

What Is Your Family's Food Story? I've never thought of this, but I read it and thought, "Duh! Of course!" Both of our families did a lot of quick and easy meals from boxes and cans. So when we first got married, a lot of what we ate was hamburger helper and canned veggies (budget played a role in that too). A couple years ago, we experimented with a month of vegetarianism, and we've incorporated far more veggies into our diet as a result. I hope the boys take that habit with them. (The Happiest Mom)

I'm a Happy Teen Mom. I Know, Right?
This article resonated with me, because while I was not a teen when I became a mom (I was just barely 23), I was definitely at a different stage of my life than a lot of the people my age. Most of my "mom friends" are at least a few years older than me. I'm okay with that, but I can totally relate to this post. (Offbeat Mama)

How to Give Generously Through Couponing. I'll admit, I've been slacking a little on the donation box, because, frankly, money has been tight. But it's still there for those extra freebies and moneymakers that we won't use, but someone else can. (Money Saving Mom)

My Favorite Clutter-Free Food Gifts. I would love if someone gave me grocery shopping for Christmas! (About One)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Crafty Link-Up: Leafy Fall Decor

I love leaves for fall decorating! There are so many shapes and colors - something for everyone!

Here are some simple felt leaves. Make a few, or make a pile!

Or you can use real leaves and drinking straws to make a garland.

How about supplies from the dollar store to make this leafy wreath?

Or, if you like the yarn-wrapped wreaths that are all the rage right now, pick from any number of designs and color combinations. Remember mine?

For more fall fun, check out my board!