Sunday, May 03, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week Inspiration

Ahhh.   I am determined to get this post out today.  Things are a bit crazy around these parts. . .and crazy in an absolutely wonderful way.  The school carnival was Friday Night and it was amazing!  And, tomorrow starts Teacher Appreciation Week.  Excitement is high!

So, because Teacher Appreciation is coming up soon I thoughtit would be a good time to flashback to some previous posts that make great gifts for teachers.  These things really don't take that much time, or even much money, and a little bit goes a long way to make your child's teacher's day.  If you are new to this blog. . . encouraging teachers is something that I take very seriously.  As a former teacher, I know how much work they put into your child (whether you think so or not). I highly recommend taking the time to spoil that teacher in your life at least one day during teacher appreciation week. 

Muffin to do but appreciate you!

Bake some yummy muffins and click over to this link for a free printable to make the gift complete!

Last year's wrap up

A week's worth of inexpensive and fun gifts with links to print each one out. 

Movie Night

This as fun and super easy!  Check the post for all the details

Coffee Sleeve Love

You know me and coffee sleeves.

Check here for more on these. . . also, those dollar reusable cups they are promoting work awesome as a gift and so does filling it with a Starbucks card.  Awesomeness in a cup!

So, that's all for now.  If you need more inspiration, there's a ton on Pinterest.  Let me know what you're doing for the teacher's in your life?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Teachers Rock!

Last week was my son's teacher's birthday.  In other words, it was another day to spoil her rotten!  I know I have mentioned it before, but I firmly believe that as parents, we need to love on our children's teachers.  They spend so much time and energy teaching our kids 5 days a week.  They also spend so much time outside the classroom working on ways to make their classroom better.  I have written more about why I think encouraging our teachers is important here, so I won't go into it again. 

Anyways,  I am currently in the midst of some top secret Teacher Appreciation projects for the entire school as well as for Ethan's teacher.  It is SO MUCH fun!  I can't wait to share it with you.  But here's an idea to get the wheels turning.  It doesn't cost much and is a super fun gift! 

We did a box of candy (Target has a really good section of movie theater candies), a Diet Coke, a package of popcorn, wrapped up with a cute tag I found on Pinterest with a movie code for a Redbox rental.  

I found this cute printable here.  

One thing I did learn from this that no other blog seemed to mention, was that Redbox only allows you to buy codes in bundles of 5.  Still not that bad.  You just buy them for yourself as the recipient and then you get an email with the codes.  It's also not very easy to find on their site, so feel free to click here for quick access.

Then with other rental codes, I found some great ideas on Pinterest!  Can't wait to try them out!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Thoughts & Link Up

Today, I am going to just keep it real.  This week is one of those weeks that I am digging deep to find my joy.  My house is a disaster.  Everyone is exhausted (and cranky).  My to-do list is a mile long. My computer met a very untimely death.  And I can't seem to do much right (I know that's not true, but sometimes it just feels like that).  However, despite all my frustrations I am thankful for so many things!  So, maybe I don't have to dig that deep to find my joy. . . it just takes a little bit of effort some days.  I am reminded of the verse in James, where we are to consider it ALL joy! It's always easier to find my joy once I start listing things that I am grateful for (if you haven't read the book 1000 Gifts yet, I highly recommend it!). 

Here's my list from the last 24 hours: Sunshine and clear skies, blooming bottlebrush trees sprinkling color across my backyard, texts messages from a friend praying for me, a simple "I Love you" from my husband, beautiful community within my son's school, signs of creativity scattered all over my house reminding me how creative their little minds are (i.e. legos), late night talks with my 6 year old, and encouraging words to the Thessalonians (and to me!).

I could keep going.  Seriously, even as I type this I am feeling better.  You should try it. It is a great practice to do daily! 

So, that being said, here are some other things that have brought a smile to my face the past few days!

:: This video is AWESOME.  They had me at Zachary Levi. . . singing!  Now I think I will go have a Chuck marathon or find this movie somewhere.

:: I have some really fun memories watching The Princess Bride. . . It's a classic!  In fact, one of my favorite memories is a high school snow trip afterparty (things didn't go as planned due to a sudden snow storm) and watching it with some of my favorite high school friends.  This was just awesome!

:: I recently got a taste of this ice cream.  And now I am hooked!  Did I mention, it's dairy free and amazing flavors. 

:: I may be sleep deprived, but I LOVED this!  And even though we aren't in the newborn stage and my babies are really just kids, I think sleep deprivation is a normal part of motherhood. . .

It rained last week.  Seriously. . . we are in a drought!  But we saw a double rainbow!!!

I am loving last month's My paper pumpkin!  It even came with a diamond stamp. . . perfect for cards for a certain best friend! 

I want to make this for lunch tomorrow. . . I am a sucker for avacado and tomatoes!

And now my skillet is hot and ready to cook up some yummy dinner!  And the kids are starting to go bonkers.  Reality.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

What's for dinner? {March edition}

Spring Break is over!  Now to catch up!  We had so much fun exploring, sleeping in, crafting, baking, etc that this week has been quite the recovery week.  The house was a disaster (please tell me it's not just me!), and I am exhausted! 

I had all sorts of yummy pictures all ready to post for you, but then Easter came and my computer crashed, and everything. . . most likely gone!  My heart head kind of hurts just thinking about it.  So, it's a good thing that this post is coming up, because I don't need any of my pictures for it.

March was a yummy month!  I made some super yummy things via the wonderful world of Pinterest and some really great fellow bloggers!  What's cooking at your house?

Pesto Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes & Asparagus

This wasn't the first time I've made this one.  It's been made many times before, in fact, if you follow me of Facebook, I am sure you've seen me rant and rave about this one.  Seriously, it is so yummy and incredibly easy!  And right now, Asparagus is at it's peak. . . so you should make this now. . . Really!  It's quick, it's easy, and it's great for your meatless Monday line-up!

Lettuce Wraps
So, lettuce wraps are probably one of my most favorite foods.  I am known for just dropping by Dai Bai Dang and ordering some for take-out.  The combination of warm meat mixture with cold, crisp lettuce is like a party on your taste buds.  This recipe is super basic and simple, but super delicious!  It's a regular on our menu!

Thai Peanut Saute
(totally not the best picture!)

I absolutely love Noodles and Company and unfortunately we don't live super close to any.  The day they open one in town, I will celebrate!  When I was in San Francisco last November, I found that they stopped making my usual pasta combo, so I ordered their peanut saute.  It is so yummy!   I like to substitute shrimp instead of chicken. 

Spinach Salad
This spinach salad was so delicious and light!  It was a great hit.  But, my favorite thing about this recipe was the salad dressing. . . an orange poppy-seed vinaigrette. I really couldn't wait to eat the leftovers the next day! And as I am typing this I am wishing I had planned this for next week's menu.  

1 / 2 / 3 / 4/

Friday, March 20, 2015

Flashback Friday!

Last week, I suddenly became very social.  It was kind of awesome.  But, it resulted in a lot of Starbucks consumed.  So, I braved up. . . had the barista check the ingredients of the Tiramisu syrup and it was dairy free (there might have been a happy dance involved!).  It was pretty good.  I won't lie, I will probably order it again.  Cinnamon dolce is still my favorite, but the tiramisu might be a close runner up. 

A few years ago, I got brave in the kitchen and whipped up an authentic Tiramisu (long before my milk allergy kicked in full force!).  It was so yummy, so I thought I would use it as today's Flashback Friday! 

Click over here to the original post and try something new this weekend! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Because it was Pi Day. . .

Saturday marked a very important day in made-up holidays.  Some may argue that it doesn't really matter, but I think we all just need an excuse to celebrate something everyday.  Without that, life would be really mundane.  In this case, it is really nerdy holiday and because I married a full fledged math guy (he has his MA in the subject), he deserves to have pie on pi day.  But, making pie isn't always my favorite thing to do.  Especially last week.  Both kids had ear infections, Ethan was home sick for 3 days, and quite frankly by the time Saturday hit, I was pretty much done.  Done with whiny, sick, kids who didn't get the memo that you're supposed to sit and veg all day.  I still wanted to make a pie, but just not put the work into it. . . Yes, I was being lazy.
I searched Pinterest for different pie recipes and came across one by Trisha Yearwood.  Anytime, a dessert is made in a cast iron skillet, it gets my attention.  Because it is one my favorite and most used cooking tools!  It looked pretty easy, had minimal ingredients, and even found a fellow blogger who had blogged about the recipe with rave reviews.  I won't lie. . . I was still skeptical.  I mean, it had canned apple pie filling.

But,  I bought all the ingredients, even an extra can of pie filling (just in case).  It took a whopping 5 minutes to prep and only 30 minutes to bake!  It smelled amazing and tasted more than amazing!  This was definitely a winner!  I will note: Don't try to make this in a regular pie pan. . . the skillet makes it work.  If you don't have a cast iron skillet, I encourage you to buy one.  They aren't too pricey and seriously, they last forever and there's pretty much no way to ruin it!  Plus, they make your food taste even better, while adding a little bit of iron naturally into your food (a plus for people who have low iron, like me!). Unlike most pie recipes, this one has a brown sugar buttery mixture on the bottom of the pie, which is seriously what makes this pie.  The combo of the skillet and the oven give it a crunchy feel to it and it basically makes you want more and more. 

We shared some of this amazingness with my best friend and her husband and they agree, this pie rocks!  In fact, I think she is making it this week! 

Make this.  Invite someone over and eat over coffee (or a bowl of ice cream)! 

Skillet Apple Pie

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 refrigerated pie crusts
2 - 21oz. cans apple pie filling*
cinnamon sugar mixture

Heat your skillet on the stove until warm.  Start melting butter and let it hang out until completely melted.  Add brown sugar to butter.  Stir and let it cook for about 2 minutes.  Then, take out your refrigerated pie crust and roll it out just a little bit.  Lay it on top of the skillet and press it down, like a pie crust.  Pour both cans of pie filling into dough.  Sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll out second crust a bit and place carefully on top of apples.  Bunch up the sides, like you would a normal pie.  It's in a cast iron skillet so aim for a rustic look.  Cut a few holes to let the steam vent.  Sprinkle more cinnamon sugar mixture over the top.  Bake in preheated oven at 400 for 30 minutes.  
Best when eaten hot!

* the original recipe called for only 1 can of pie filling.  I didn't think it was nearly enough and found the two cans to be perfect.  

If you are using a skillet that is larger than 9 inches, you may want to go for a third can of filling,  but do the same things, just roll out your crust to fit your pan. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Panera Copycat Pumpkin Muffins (oddly posted in spring!)

There  are so many things about this post that seem wrong.  Today was a whopping 81 degrees (I apologize to all of my East coast friends are literally freezing the day away!).  It's a post that should have been done months ago, when the leaves were changing colors and not blooming beautiful flowers.  But, Ethan and the rest of his kindergarten friends have been talking about the seasons and yesterday he came home declaring his favorite season fall, because he likes the golden leaves.  At that point, I knew I had done my job as his mother. . . because really, fall is the best! And, because of all that talk about fall, I decided that pumpkin muffins should be made. . . and then I realized I hadn't blogged about this recipe yet (FAIL).  I obviously had to make these. . . it's a good thing I keep a stash of pumpkin year round!

These muffins quickly became my go-to recipe this past fall.  I made them for Jon's work peeps, for breakfast, for Bible study. . . for just about everything!  They are so good.  I think it's the snow powdered sugar.  Or maybe, it's just because they are a simple copycat of Panera's Pumpkin muffins.  I mean, who doesn't like Panera?  It's one of our favorite places! In fact, I just have to mention the word souffle and Ethan jumps in the car ready to go.  This recipe only makes about 12. . . which isn't really enough, by the time you test taste them, and then another for good measure, and then eat some more for dessert.  I mean, you just might have enough for breakfast the next morning if you ration them out.  In fact, you should probably just make a double batch to be on the safe side, because my single batch is barely going to be enough for tomorrow for breakfast. But, then again, that might not last all that long either!  My kids have been eating them any chance they get!

Panera Copycat Pumpkin Muffins
adapted from here.

1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In your favorite mixing bowl, stir together pumpkin, oil, and eggs.   Stir in sugar and spices.   Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and gently stir in until well mixed.  DO NOT over mix your batter.  Line muffin tin with liners and fill 3/4 full to make a great muffin top.  Bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 25 minutes.  Cool on wire rack and sift powdered sugar over the tops (if you don't wait til cool, the sugar will absorb into the muffin instead of leaving a white topped muffin).

* my favorite muffin liner are these.

** I use a tool like this for my powdered sugar.


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