Kids’ Popsicle Stick Crafts

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We've moved!

We’ve moved!

We’ve been pretty busy over in this house with summer camp, doctor appointments, book releases, crafting, cooking, baby showers, and WORK! Here is a little weekend craft time I did with the kids. It started off as just the Diva (she is 4 going on 14) and me, but then the boys sensed the use of markers and insisted on creating with us. Who am I to stop their creativity?! I know I usually try to share tutorial style crafts, but this stuff was made up on the fly so there really aren’t many directions…but there are pictures!

It took me 3 tries to spell "Popsicle" correctly

It took me 3 tries to spell “Popsicle” correctly :-/

So we were trying to come up with something for my dad’s birthday as a present from the kids. While the kids are still little we try to do homemade gifts or pictures (Note to self: Get copies of spring pictures for the family).

My kids love to color, so we went with that (also, I will do anything to avoid paint while the little man is awake).

So I hot glued some sticks into a “square.” Sure, we talked about shapes and made this a little educational. I try. Really. But this barely looks like a square. Its all Wibbly-Wobbly (anyone…).

Then I glued some construction paper to the back of it and trimmed the excess. Not rocket science. At this point I had to start moving a little quicker…Liza was getting antsy to decorate.

Look how she is staring at the markers. You can almost sense her thinking “Mom, stop taking pictures and let me color!”

So her name is Eliza-Beth. We have called her Liza from day 1. Daycare calls her Eliza. She has now requested we call her Eliza. Per my father “She’ll always be Liza to me” and this present was for him so “L” was glued on. I have NO CLUE how you would do this with a curvy letter like Q. I am open to suggestions!

Finally I let her free to color! A large bag of crayons lives on our dining room table so that the kids can color whenever, but markers only get pulled out with supervision so they get excited. Of course by the time she started to decorate (and I thought I was going to clean up) the boys came in like a tornado. So I super quickly whipped up 2 more Initial decorations. Thankfully all 3 kids can have L’s (Liam, Liza, and London – 2/3 are nicknames) so I didn’t have to think too hard.

When they were all done I glued some ribbon to the back upper corners so that they could be hung up…when I eventually put them in a FedEx envelope and ship them to my dad. I am HORRIBLE about putting things in the mail!

The final masterpieces!! Notice “Eliza” on the top of her picture…

Well by the time they were done with these they were in full on crafting mode so Mommy had to think quick. So I just started gluing together popsicle sticks and ended up with little houses that stood on their own. Don’t ask me how I did it. There were 3 kids chomping at the bit so there are no step by step pictures, but I got a couple of them coloring them. I’m actually pretty proud that they stood on their own.

We, of course, needed refreshments by this point. Juice and cheapo fruit snacks anyone?

So there are my simple popsicle stick crafts to do with the kids this summer. Tomorrow we are making cupcakes for Father’s Day. I will try to get some pictures of my kids fighting over who gets to dump the flour in and who gets to stir…and something spilling somewhere. What projects are you doing with the kids on break?

Try these –  Bat Hair Bow or Coconut Oil Chocolates.
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A Simple Teacher Appreciation Gift

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Who has the money to get huge extravagant gifts for their kids’ teachers? Not me! Since I have 3 munchkins with 8 teacher total! (2 in day care with 2 teachers each and 1 in Kindergarden with a main teacher, parapro teacher, long term sub because the main teacher’s husband just had surgery, AND a student teacher that my kid had a crush on) there was no way I could even get them all gift cards or candles this year. So, the Sunday before teacher appreciation day (when I got the reminder email from my son’s school) I searched Pintrest and my house for ideas. Here’s what I came up with:

Pencils, Candies, and Confetti!

Pencils, Candies, and Confetti!

So I searched through my arts and crafts bins and bags…basically half of my bedroom and came up with some colorful pencils, a bags of Smarties, and some clear treat bags. JACKPOT!

So I started by chopping the bags in half so that the 2 pencils would poke out the top when they were closed. Then I added 2-3 things of Smarties, a handful of confetti, and tied them together with the ties that came with the bags (the ones that look like bread bag ties). I considered leaving them that way for simplicities sake, but then I had to go and push myself. Silly girl!

Without the bow...totally acceptable.

Without the bow…totally acceptable.

I busted out a pile of scrapbook paper, fun scissors, teacher stickers and ribbon and went to town.

First, I used the fun scissors on 2 sides of the paper and came up with an ADORABLE saying for the tags. Than, I added a couple of teacher stickers on the back to make them “educational.” Last, I tied them up with some hot pink ribbon!

Thanks for making me SHARP & SMART!

Thanks for making me SHARP & SMART!

So easy!

So easy!

My kids LOVED giving these to their teachers and I loved that they were basically FREE since I already had everything.

These would be awesome birthday party favors too…but I don’t know if you would make too many friends if you give out confetti!

Do you participate in Teachers’ Appreciation Day/Week? Do you just wait for the last few days of school? Are you a teacher and you HATE this kind of stuff? Let me know!!

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Sunday Dinner During the Week

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AKA A whole chicken in the crockpot!

Now I know that some people might get a little nervous putting a whole chicken in the crockpot…and I don’t blame them! Those guys have a lot of little bones hiding in there! It usually ends with me picking gingerly through the meat to make sure that my kiddos don’t end up with a plate full of bones, BUT the flavor is ever so worth it!

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Doesn’t that just look amazing?! So simple!

I’m drooling all over again looking at that picture! The package of Milanos that I am destroying while I type are just not doing the trick!

So the first step is to gather your ingredients.

1) Whole chicken – I usually buy these on clearance at Kroger (and a lot of times I luck into an organic chicken!) for under $7. IF I can get my kids to eat properly one of these 5ish pound chickens would be the perfect size, but since they will only push around the yummy food that I put on their plates I frequently get 2 meals out of it.

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2) Olive oil

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3) Seasoning of choice! I chose to try one of the seasonings that I for from the Culinology® in Portland a few weeks ago. You can really use any seasoning that your family likes. This one has a bit of a kick which we enjoy.

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After you have gathered everything (seriously, that is all there is!) I spray down the crockpot and voila!

Olive Oil cooking spray

Olive Oil cooking spray

Next, I generously sprinkled the frozen chicken with seasoning. I made sure he had a good solid coat so that the flavoring went all the way through! After seasoning my young friend I added a drizzle of olive oil. I’m Italian…everything has at least olive oil and/or garlic. I decided not to add garlic this time because I really wanted to test the new seasoning.

Seasoned and Oiled Whole Chicken

Seasoned and Oiled Whole Chicken

Once he was all set I put the lid on and put the chicken in the fridge…that’s right, I did this the night before so that the next day my husband (who works from home) could turn it on after he got our son on the bus. Now, most crock pots that I have seen have 2 settings, low and high., but our crock pot has 5 (2 low, 2 high, and warm). I don’t remember who got us this for our wedding almost 7 years ago…wait WHAT!?…but I love them forever for it because I use it constantly!

So anyway…hubs turns the crockpot on the lowest setting (10 hours) and gets tortured by the smell all day 🙂 When I got home I realized that I had not thrown any veggies in the crockpot and man cannot live on meat alone (well, except bacon…duh) so I found some fresh green beans from our Farmers Market Basket. I gave them a rinse and threw them in a skillet with some coconut oil and salt to cook. Nice and simple…nothing fancy…and then VOILA!

Yummo Chicken

Yummo Chicken

Chicken in the crockpot literally falls off all of the bones. It is amazing. And the seasoning was perfection. We placed a small amount on the kids plates (knowing that there wasn’t a chance they would eat it, but maybe they would try it) and then went to town!

Chicken and Green Beans

Chicken and Green Beans

Seriously delicious and simple!

Seriously delicious and simple! And yes, I am using this picture again!

This dinner was exactly what was needed after working 8 hours and enduring a horrible commute in both directions. It left me full and happy without anything gross.

What is your go to weeknight meal? I am always looking to expand my options and I would love to hear what you are cooking!

The Boston Butt of Goodness!

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Pork in a Crockpot!

That is really what this amazingly simple recipe is 🙂

I was motivated by one of my favorite bloggers Nom Nom Paleo and her Slow Cooker Kalua Pig and a sale on Boston Butt at Kroger.

Nom Nom Paleo

Nom Nom Paleo

So I grabbed my butt…

Boston Butt

Boston Butt

And my bacon…

Bacon...and it was on sale...and lasted 3 meals!

Bacon…and it was on sale…and lasted 3 meals!

And I covered the bottom of the crockpot with bacon…

Mmmm

Mmmm

Then I placed the beautiful butt on top (fat side up!) and shoved some cloves of garlic in him…

Who doesn't love garlic?

Who doesn’t love garlic?

Then I turned that puppy on for 10 hours (the longest setting on my crock pot) and walked away. You won’t need any liquid because of the fat from the roast and bacon.

All day my house smelled amazing! I may have occasionally lifted the lid to take a sniff…It was all I could do to keep from putting a fork in there are tasting it!

The Final Product!

The Final Product!

This roast made more than I had anticipated too! After serving three adults (all who had double servings) and three children I had almost a full Tupperware container!

Leftovers!!

Leftovers!!

These leftovers are awesome served as pork tacos or in a breakfast scramble. I plan on making this again in the near future…maybe for Christmas! Mmmmm. If you try this let me know how it goes!

 

 

 

 

Almond Butter in a Pinch

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So on Halloween I chopped myself up an apple and planned on dipping it in almond butter as a light “dinner” before taking the midgets trick or treating. Unfortunately Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard was bare…at least of almond butter. *sad face*

To cheer myself up I decided to try a new recipe. Homemade Almond Butter!! It had always looked super easy, but I had yet to try it.

Here’s what you do:

Throw a handful of almonds in your grinder (I use a coffee grinder)

Almonds in a Grinder

Almonds in a Grinder

Pulse it…pulse it real good…(sorry…)

 

Within like a minute you will have almond flour!!

Almond Flour!!

Almond Flour!!

So quick! So easy! So NOT $7.00 a bag!

BUT wait, there’s more! Put the lid back on and pulse it some more and soon you have almond butter!! It won’t we quite as creamy as you are used to, but it is delicious…it is so good that the picture ate itself :-/ Since it will not be quite as creamy you will have to stir it a little and press it together, but man is it worth the extra effort!!

I ended up eating the apple plain and then the almond butter with a spoon!  Let me know how your’s turns out!

 

That’s a Spicy Meat-a-ball!

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Who doesn’t like a meatball? They are so versatile and filling. They can be ooey gooey with cheese or lean and healthy with veggies. They are good when it is hot, but even better when it is cold out. Yesterday seemed like the perfect day to whip up some meatballs. I based my recipe off of one at Easy Peasy, but as always I made it my own 🙂

Ingredients:

* 1lb ground meat
*1/4 onion
* 1-2 cloves of garlic
* frozen spinach
* spices – I went for salt, cajun, cayenne, and Italian seasoning
* 1 egg (I used a flax egg because I was out of the real deal)
* almond flour – super small amount

First things first…defrost the ground meat and spinach. Sure, in a prefect world I would have planned that I was going to make these for lunch and would have put them in the fridge the night before, but that is not how I operate 🙂 While these are defrosting (meat in the microwave and spinach on the counter) make up your flax egg. Now I totally get it if you are looking at the screen like I have 3 heads, but flax eggs are awesome! I hate using real eggs in my cooking unless absolutely necessary so I typically make flax eggs. AND they are pretty darn healthy. Anyway…mix 1 TBSP flax meal with 3 TBSP water until well blended and set aside.

Flaxmeal...love it!

Flaxmeal…love it!

While waiting for the spinach and meat to defrost and for the “egg” to rest chop up some veggies. Almost everything I cook has garlic and onion in it…roughly chopped. I love the flavors! I wish I would of had some red pepper to throw in their too…maybe next time.

I could live on garlic and onion...

I could live on garlic and onion…

When the meat and spinach are done defrosting I add them to the “egg” and I add the garlic and onion…actually…I add everything to the bowl. Except the almond flour! I know that a lot of recipes are add this and this and then in a separate bowl add this and this then mix the two together…not me! The less bowls I have to wash the happier I am!

Spinach

spice it up!!

spice it up!!

Everything in a bowl

Everything in a bowl

Now comes the fun or gross part depending on who you ask…get your hands in their and MIX! As you are mixing sprinkle a little almond flour on the meat. This is taking the place of bread crumbs or crackers to help hold it together. Keep mixing. Add a little more almond flour if needed…just don’t add too much or your meatballs will be dry 😦

Almond flour...isn't it pretty?

Almond flour…isn’t it pretty?

Next line your cookie sheet with foil, why…so that the clean up is quick and easy, of course!

It is ALL about saving the clean up!

It is ALL about saving the clean up!

Now get rolling! Set your meatballs equal distances apart so that they cook even.

Raw meat never looked so good ;-)

Raw meat never looked so good 😉

Put these babies in the oven for about 10 minutes. Then flip ’em and put them back in for another 10.

Don't mind my drooling...

Don’t mind my drooling…

Now this is where you have to decide…are you just going to just serve as is (perfectly acceptable) or put them in a frying pan with some sauce (also acceptable). I went for the later.

The Italian in me LOVES this!

The Italian in me LOVES this!

I just cook them until the sauce is heated up and then serve.

Plating is not my specialty...

Plating is not my specialty…

**NOTE** I used store bought sauce (GASP) because it was easier. No it isn’t 100% Paleo, but it is one of the things I am choosing to overlook at the moment. Eventually I will learn how to make sauce like a good Italian girl.

At least I get the veggie kind!

At least I get the veggie kind!

Well that’s about all for these spicy meat-a-balls! Have an awesome day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Crafts: Bat Bow

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Adorable Bat Bow!! Super easy.

Adorable Bat Bow!! Super easy.

Isn’t this bow precious?? When I lived “up north” I never would have thought about putting my daughter in crazy or large bows…but when you move to the South you just have to. (It’s kind of like how I am freezing in my house and it is like 65 in here…seriously I am wearing a scarf!)

So anyway….in order to make this pretty little bow you first have to gather your simple materials.

My materials...don't mind the messy work station!

My materials…don’t mind the messy work station!

Today I used a piece of scrap fabric (maybe 2 in wide when folded over), coordinating thread, small foam bat from a Target craft kit, hairpin base, scissors, and glue gun. I wish I could give you better measurements on the piece of fabric I used, but I just grabbed some scrap. I will do better next time!

So the first thing you do is sew a pulling stitch. (Please keep in mind I am an uber beginner at sewing, so I don’t really know proper names of things…that’s why I use pictures!)

Make a pulling stitch.

Make a pulling stitch.

After you “sew” the entire piece of fabric pull on the thread so that the fabric starts to gather. This is going to let you give it some shape.

Complete the pulling stitch

After you have gathered the fabric mold it into a circle, or another shape if you feel adventurous! Once it is shaped sew it together so that it will not unravel. Mine is very sloppy…pardon 🙂

Seal the Circle

 

You will want to also sew where the 2 edges meet/overlap and then flatten your flower looking object. Use a regular stitch here.

Again, pardon the sloppyFlatten the flower

 

Next, put a small dollop of hot glue on the back of you bat (or any other shape you have chosen) and press it into the center of your flower.
He had it coming! I'm a lil off center

Mine came out a lil crooked, but I did that to help cover my imperfections in the fabric. After that is cooled cut a small piece of coordinating scrap felt and hot glue it to the bottom side of your flower. This will make attaching to the hair clip easier.

felt!

 

Lastly, dab a little hot glue on your hairpin and attach your flower…voila! A quick and simple Halloween hairbow!

Attached!TA DASend me pictures of your hair bows! I would love to see them 🙂 Happy Haunting!