Monday, February 13, 2017

Lego Valentines {Free Printable}

Things are really busy around here as we get ready for Valentines Day.  I feel like as much as I always try to not to procrastinate, but it always happens.  Good thing I work best under pressure. That and the kiddos don't have school today, which makes these the perfect things to work on while hanging around in our comfies, watching tv, playing and working on valentines.  But, while the kids are filling out labels to put on the back with to's and from's, let me share this year's valentines with you.



This past fall, when we were at the Lego Store in Downtown Disney, I picked up the brick ice cube tray mold because I knew that we would still be doing crayon legos, but I was going to have to do twice as many because we now have both kids in school.  That's a good excuse, right?

Last month, I started melting crayons from our crayon stash (we keep a stash of crayons that are broken, dull, and haven been replaced by newer, crayons) in preparation for this year's crayons.  I am really glad I started early, but now I have 150 of these lovely crayons and as I think back to it, it wasn't a lot of work.  Just one or two batches here and there and it added up quick!  I then designed a quick insert for the bags and sent it to office max for printing.  Super easy and so much fun!

I know that tomorrow is Valentines Day, so you might not have enough time to make some of these, but feel free to pin for next year!

Crayon tutorial 

Last year's lego Crayon Valentine 

Heart shaped crayon printable. . . just click on the crayon tutorial link above. 

You can find the link to this year's Valentine Lego Printable here.

Click here to Pin this idea to your Pinterest Board.



Have a very happy Valentine's Day!


Thursday, February 09, 2017

What's For Dinner? {January 2017}

I can remember sitting around a table full of family members that I had only just met.  We were eating the most delicious cauliflower soup on the most beautiful dishes in a home that was filled with family and friends.  These family members opened their home to my grandparents and I with such love and hospitality, I will never forget.  We were the outsiders. We were visiting family in Norway for the first time.  We didn't speak the language and yet, we were still able to have some conversation.  I can remember a cousin asking what we did for dinners in America.  They had read about American's eating out a lot and wondering if that was what my family at home did also.  I assured her that we sat down as a family on most nights to a home cooked meal, but it was at that time, I realized how blessed I was to be able to have that experience in my home.  I also have kept that memory very clear in my mind because I want to make sure my family sees the importance of sitting around the table together. 

That's why I do these posts.   Sometimes dinner can be mundane and exhausting and it is easier just to throw food at your kids and put on a movie (yes, this does happen on occasion at my house).   I want to share recipes that my family (or my husband and I. . . kids are tricky!) enjoyed, so that you can be inspired to make something different and fun to sit around your table and talk about your day with your family.

January was an interesting month at our house.  We threw a party, got ready for another party, got back into the swing of things with school starting and then it was budget time (a.k.a the hubby works really late. . . a lot).  So, that being said,  I don't have a ton if recipes to share, but I do have some.  But, I'm going to throw in some from December because they were so good, and I never got around to doing last month's 'what's for dinner' post.

 It was really hard to menu plan last month and so it took us 3 weeks to go through one week's plan, but some months are like that. I do feel like we got to eat some really good food, so I'm okay that some months are like that. 

 When Jon works late or is out of town, I don't make a whole lot of extravagant meals.  The kids eat a lot of their favorite foods: chicken nuggets, hot dogs, naan pizzas, pizza roll ups, little smokies in a blanket, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, meatballs and sauce, egg rolls, pot stickers.

I also purposely plan meals each week that are a variation of simple, fun, and challenging.  I don't always have the energy (some days are just plum busy!) or desire to make something completely from scratch and so we always have on hand some chicken breasts and some Indian simmer sauces that we find at Costco  and we have some Trader Joe's Orange Chicken in the freezer.  Oh, and we always have stuff for tacos and spaghetti, because they are pretty much awesome and no one complains. ever. It's a win for me if no one complains!

This month, our favorite new recipes were the following:

 Baked Honey Lemon Chicken
Our lemon tree is overflowing, so this recipe was a great way to use some of our stash.  I loved that it used cornstarch to help give the chicken the crispiness, but I also appreciated the "baked" part, because that allows me to multi task, and get some other things done or deal with the kids and homework.  Jon unexpectedly worked late when I made this, and he still really enjoyed it reheated!

Grilled Chicken Teriyaki Salad
This salad was delicious!  It was so cool and refreshing, even though it was January and cold and rainy!  It felt so good to eat a salad, that I couldn't wait for the leftovers the next day! Jon was a bit skeptic when I was telling him what we were having, but he approved and we will most likely have this again!

Satay Chicken with Peanut Dipping Sauce
This recipe is one of those that you just can't wait to eat the leftovers.  You might not even want to tell your spouse there are left overs because it was amazing!  It was amazing the first night.  It was amazing the second night.  These were easy, aside from skewering. . . that's just labor intensive, but you can do it ahead of time and just take them out when you are done.  I did these on the grill and possibly froze my tush off, but it was worth it!  This is definitely a win in our house!

One Pan Sausage and Veggies

This recipe is from last fall.  I loved it so much that I've made it a bunch of times already.  In fact, it's on the menu for this week because I loved it so much.  It's also really versatile.  I just grab some sausage (Trader Joe's makes some great flavors and so does Aidells) and then I just grab some veggies.  My favorites are red potatoes, beans, peppers, mushrooms, brussel sprouts.  I just sort of grab a couple and then follow the recipe.  Plus, it's another one that you can just prep, throw in the oven, and then go read a book, drink a glass of wine, or deal with whatever homework situation is happening that night.  It is definitely a go to recipe and makes a rotation at least once a month now!


And that's what's been going on in our kitchen, at least for dinner.  What have you been making?  Send me some inspiration. . . anything your family just loves right now?  What is your favorite part about sitting around the table with your family?



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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Yesterday, I had a moment in the car between the phone beeping horrible beeping noises and then the blue tooth picking it up and doing it too. . . all while going through a drive thru.  I had forgotten my phone likes to alert me when crazy things may (or most likely won't) happen.  Apparently, in the area that I was at there was a flash flood warning.  There was no rain at that particular moment, but apparently there was a flood alert.  It certainly gave me a scare because I wasn't expecting it!

It's been raining on and off here for over a month.   We have kind of forgotten what rain really is like because we have been in a very serious drought, and when it did rain it was at night so we couldn't enjoy it.  This has been nice.  However, the kids are going a tad stir crazy.  Poor Weston got a new scooter for his birthday and it took 4 days before he could ride it because of weather craziness. 

Don't get me wrong, our area has seen flooding, but mostly because our drainage systems are just not mean for lots of rain water.  I've seen some awesome Facebook posts of some friends kayaking down their street.  Trust me.  We are enjoying this craziness.

 Last week, I decided that we had had so many rainy day schedules that the kids teachers really could use some chocolate.  Chocolate is medicine for the soul.  It really is.  Especially, when you are trapped in a room with 20 restless kids who just need to get their wiggles out.


So, I set out for some experimenting.  And it worked.  They came out and they were delicious.  We joked about how they were kind of like blobs of poop.  But, who said cookies had to look pretty to taste delicious?  I know the writer over at Smitten Kitchen just posted a cookie recipe for ugly cookies.  No joke.  These ones aren't quite ugly, but they aren't pretty either.  They did, however, get rave reviews.  Ethan's teacher said she couldn't stop eating them and suddenly they were all gone!  So, they are delicious! 


Chocolate Brownie Cookies
adapted from Kirbie's Cravings

Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cake flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 410 degrees F. 

Line your favorite cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. 
Cream together butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs and beat well.  Slowly add your dry ingredients in and mix until combined.  Add chocolate chips and stir to get them mixed in.  Chill for about 15 minutes (I know. . . torture!). 

Using cookie scoop, scoop leaving cookies at least 2 inches apart.  Push down on them a little using your palm.  They don't really spread a whole lot, so this helps them look less like poop (Insert emoji laughing and crying here. . . it's true!).  Bake for 7-8 minutes and let sit on your baking sheet for about 5 minutes before moving them to a wire wrack. 

Enjoy! 

Friday, February 03, 2017

WIPs

The other day, I saw an instagram post about surviving on coffee and dry shampoo.  That pretty much sums up this week.  It's been crazy week celebrating our baby errr. . . now 6 year old.  And working on birthday party stuff along with working on the office and finishing a quilt.  So, I thought I would share some of my works in progress with you really quick before I get back to cleaning the house for a family birthday party tomorrow.  

Weston's Quilt
I've been working on this quilt for at least 3 years.  All I had to do was put on the border, baste, quilt, and bind.  I got as far as quilt yesterday and realized that I made a big mistake and so right now it is in the hands of my mom (who is just amazing at fabric!).  I am hoping that it will be done by Saturday, but it might not and so he'll just have to get an I.O.U.  
 
 Operation Office Makeover
I officially almost finished painting (less than a foot by foot square that I couldn't get to).  I put on a Disney Hits playlist and blared it loud while I painted.  Last weekend, we put the desk together and some of the storage pieces so I could paint the other half of the room.  Now that it's done, we just finished hanging the curtains and moving the couch back to it's home.  Our vision is starting to come to life and it's exciting. . . and exhausting.  But, I think it's going to be a room where people want to hang on it.  

Magnolia Leaves
I have been dreaming about decorating with Magnolia foliage ever since I saw an instagram post by @thenester.  Our street is lined with beautiful Magnolia trees. . . except our house and it just sort of felt awkward to bring my ladder and cut trimmings off trees that aren't my yard (even if it's the city's property).  But, yesterday, on the way to school, we noticed the city was trimming the Magnolia's not far from where my kiddos go to school.  So, since we were a little early (unbelievable!), we walked out of the way a little bit to get some clippings.  I carried these clippings all the way to school, dropped off my kids at their lines and walked home with a handful of these beautiful branches.  I'm pretty sure people thought I was crazy.  Weston's teacher's first thought was that it was Weston's 100 day project.  Ha ha ha!  

And that pretty much sums up my week.  Are you working on anything?  Are you trying to accomplish something you've been working on for years and just set aside because other things came up?  Don't give up.  Keep pressing in! 






Tuesday, January 31, 2017