I fell off the face of the earth

I took July and August off, but it was totally by accident! The keyboard on my trusty laptop broke. It started as keys occasionally not working, then progressed to half the keys never working. To add insult to injury, it started with the keys I need to spell my name!! Talk about frustrating!! In the midst of my computer issues, I decided to get started on a few projects around the house.

I painted the kitchen, cabinets and walls. I didn’t think to take a before picture until almost all of the cabinets were painted, so we’re going to have to use our imagination here. The cabinets were these pretty standard construction grade, big box home improvement store kind. YUCK!!!

After all that, my laptop and camera were stolen from my home, so all my awesome photos are gone, and for the most part I’m starting from scratch. I have so much to share with you! I’ve expanded food prepping to include my lunches, and it’s making my life so much easier. I’ve got some sewing projects on the horizon to share. I’be been dabbling in photography (the portriat kind), and have some reallt special pictures to share. I’ll be back later this week with some new posts, and new pics. I can’t wait to share! 

 

Tie-Dyed for the 4th

Can you tell we’re totally obsessed with getting ready for the holiday? You guessed it, another post for the 4th! This one is fun, I promise. You know my favorite past time is spending time on Pinterest, though I haven’t been on a ton since starting the new job. When I was on one day looking for football shirt inspiration, I saw some awesome tie-dyed shirts. You know they say what’s old will be new again. Yep, tie-dyed is back. Did it ever really leave?

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patriot tie dye kitAs fate would have it, I received a sales ad from my local fabric store, and tie-dye kits were on sale. Not only were they on sale, but I also had a 20% off your total purchase coupon. SCORE! And of course I went and picked up a couple of kits. I kept it simple with this “Patriot” One Step, Mini Tie-Dye Kit.

Also on sale this same day was t-shirts. I snagged one for each of my boys, and of course came home and put them on the shelf for a project at a later date. I’m excited to say that day finally arrived this week!

There are so many tutorials out there for the different patterns you can make with tie-dye. Be sure to check out my Tie Dye Pinterest Board for some ideas.

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There are 3 shirts here, 2 with the spiral pattern, and one with more of a striped pattern. I was a bit nervous at first because when following the directions for the spiral design it’s not clear how those folds turn into the spiral, but have no fears, it works! I do wish I had allowed the shirts to soak longer with the dye, maybe until the next day, though I did do the suggested 7 hours. The red faded a big more than I was expecting. Just something to keep in mind if you try a similar project!

Unfortunately I couldn’t snag a pic of the completed striped one because my son got it out of the dryer and promptly spilled something on it when he put it on. I mean seriously!!!

I can already tell that I’m going to be a little obsessed with tie-dying so look for some new projects coming soon!

Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

With Independence Day just a few days away we’ve been putting on our thinking caps about how to make our picnic better for this year. I was walking through my local fresh grocer, and was struck with the idea to make fresh squeezed lemonade. What better way to relax on a hot summer day?

Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

Making lemonade is actually quite simple if you have the right tools. I was lucky enough to pick up the hand juicer at my local thrift store. A thorough scrub, and it was good as new.

Here’s what you need.
● 1 cup sugar
● 1 cup water
● 8 medium lemons
● 7 cups water
● Ice
● Spoon
● Knife
● Pitcher
● Sauce pan / stove

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1. In a pan on the stove place one cup of water, and 1 cup of sugar. Over medium heat stir occasionally until all of the sugar is dissolved. Let cook for another 10-15 minutes or so. This creates a simple syrup. Set to the side and allow to cool to room temp.

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2. Juice your lemons (microwave your lemons for 20-30 seconds before juicing to get a higher yield, you can also roll them firmly on the counter prior to cutting)

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3. In your pitcher combine your simple sugar solution and lemon juice. Add additional water. We started with 6 cups, then added more after tasting.

That’s it. Add some ice to a glass (Or a mason jar in my case), pour your lemonade, and garnish. We’re going to try some strawberry, and blueberry lemonade next! What kinds of lemonade do you like best?!

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Independence Day is Coming – Free Printables!

Decorating for 4th of July is always a fun time. I’ve come across some ideas I really love on Pinterest. (Cause where else!) Looking over the ways some have decorated, I decided to come up with a couple of free printables for you today! (Totally free) First up is our Stars and Stripes pennant style banner (Figure 1)

This pattern was a lot of fun to come up with. Creating your banner is simple. The pennants are 7 1/2″ tall by 5 3/4″. Creating your banner is easy, simply follow the steps below.(Click on the picture(s) below to download your files)

Stars and Stripes Glitter Free printableStars and Stripes free printable

MATERIALS NEEDED

  • Computer
  • Printer (Or your local copy shop)
  • Cardstock
  • Hole Punch
  • Paper cutter, or scissors
  • Ribbon or other way to connect and hang the pennants
  1. Determine how much space you need to cover (the railing on my back deck is 15′ wide as an example.)
  2. Decide how much space you want between the banner pieces (See below – Figure 2) In my example I take the deck width of 15′ and multiple by 12 inches per feet, coming up with 180 inches (UGH math!!). If I wanted the pennants to touch I would need 31 pennants. You could totally do that, but I wanted a little space between each. (Notice my awesome drawings are not to scale.) I messed with the numbers a bit, and decided I wanted 20 pennants. Figure 2
  3. Print desired number of pages (10 pages in my case, with 2 pennants per page)
  4. Cut pennants – because these are all straight lines, I would just use my paper trimmer, but feel free to scissor away.
  5. Stack pennants for easier whole punching (I use my Crop-a-dile)
  6. String Ribbon and hang! (Figure 3) The “ribbon” in the example is orange so you can see it.Figure 3

We hope you love using this Free Printable as much as we loved creating it. Stick around all week for more FREE decor for 4th of July!! Happy Planning.

Meal Prepping for your Busy Family

A couple of Fridays ago I shared that I was returning to work after a short stint as a stay at home mom. My return day came faster than expected, so Thursday was meal prep day. Meal prepping is one of the activities that allows us to keep our household running smoothly.

Why? By having meals, or meal components, pre-prepared we’re able to get dinner on the table quickly. Think about a standard night, you get home from work, and start dinner. How much time could you save by having a few steps already out of the way?!

Meal Plannign for your Busy Family

The first step for me in meal prepping is actually planning the meal calendar. Usually I sit down and make a list what we like to eat. Normally on my list I’ll note how many times we’ll plan on having a particular meal, for instance, we’re probably having cheeseburgers more than once in the month. On my list last month I just make a quick note out to the side of each meal for the number of times we would have it. This was a shortened version of the list I made last month.
List of MealsBe sure to write down everything you think you will have. For us the boys are in summer school, so I don’t have to specifically plan for lunches. We do a combo of home and school lunches. For July meal planning, I’ll have to plan for more meals, because they’ll be home during the day.

I usually try to think in regards to type of meat and work through that way. I start with ground beef and decide how I’ll prepare it. Normally I know I’ll brown most of the ground beef, so I can plan meals that way. From there I think about some other options, such as hamburgers because I can pre-make the patties, and meatloaf because I can mix it up, and form it to place in the freezer. From there I move to chicken and the various ways we might use it. Shredded chicken, and other portioned types. We make several different Chinese food dishes for I might cut the chicken into 1″ cubes and individual freeze before placing into a single pack for storage.

Ok, once I’ve decided what we’re having, I can start planning for the grocery store trip. We shop at Sam’s Club, I know there are lots of opinions about the value of one of these memberships, but we LOVE ours. On this most recent trip I purchased 2 trays of chicken breasts, approximately 12 pounds of hamburger, chicken legs & thighs, 1 slab of ribs, shoulder roast, pork tenderloin, beef hotdogs, and a HUGE pack of pork chops.  (We bought other items such as fruit, bread, and other needed stuff)

When I got home I set out to really get to prepping. Below are a couple of tips I’ve picked up along the way (I don’t implement all of them, but I will be doing more!)

Family meal planning and prepping

  • Extend your ground beef – when browning your ground beef add grated carrots. This was a new one to me, but it can significantly beef up how far your purchase will stretch.
  • 2 cups of browned ground beef equals approximately 1 lb. (This is handy for when you’re ready to divide for freezing)
  • Add your onion and seasonings when browning your beef, this helps with flavoring for when you’re ready to use!

Random, but this is literally the largest skillet I’ve ever used! In that pan to the left is a full SIX pounds of ground beef for browning.

I already had some frozen chicken breasts in the freezer, so I dropped 6 frozen chicken breasts into the crock pot, turned it up on high, and put a little water in to the bottom of the crock pot. (There’s also a lot of discussion surrounding putting frozen meat into the crock pot. We’ve done it a number of times, and had no problems.) I left the crockpot on high while we ran our errands for the day, making sure to separate and rotate the breasts during cooking to ensure they were cooked through. Once I was sure they were done, I busted out the hand mixer, cause it’s the most genius trick I’ve learned in this process! I forgot to take a picture, but 6 chicken breasts netted us 5 quart size freezer bags. We’ll use these for quesadillas, tacos, and shredded bbq chicken sandwiches. (I’ve cooked up to 12 chicken breasts in the crockpot previously to divide and freeze, I just had 6 on hand before the trip to the store).

Once the hamburger was browned and drained, I divided into quart size freezer bags. I should have stacked the bags differently so you could see, but there are 7 equally appointed bags, ready for the freezer. I always squeeze as much air out of the bags as I can, then lay them flat and press the contents as flat as possible. These individual bags are then placed into a gallon freezer bag. Helps me keep the freezer tidy. The other package was used for hamburgers and a meatloaf, also stored in my freezer.

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Whew, that was a lot of work! I will undoubtedly be glad I did it when it’s time to eat it all up. I’ll be back soon to share some of my favorite recipes for freezer cooking, which is another part of the meal prepping process

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My football mom duties have suddenly changed, because we’re changing teams! It’s funny how invested you get in these things. We learned last week, that our coach is unable to participate this season, so we’re headed to another team. It’s going to feel strange, playing with a team that’s been our rivals for the last couple of years. It’s ok though, they asked for my son by name!!

It’s a bit sad though, because only one of the boys from our previous team is going with us. It’s mostly sad though because this new team is the Raiders. As a Kansas City Chief’s fan it feels wrong to root for the Raiders at any level. We’ll get through it though!

With this shift in team dynamic, there’s no longer a need for me to be an official team mom. Don’t worry, I’ll still share my tips and tricks for getting through the season with various meal planning, and other tools. Be sure to stay tuned for more updates!

I want my Baby Back Ribs

After a very short stint as a stay-at-home-mom I’m headed back to work. We’ve been a bit spoiled having me home, and have been having way more home cooked meals than we’re used to. I’ve been looking through my crockpot dinners to see what kind of meals we’ll be having when I return to the office. Tonight I decided to try out one I haven’t used before, and I have to tell you it was DIVINE!

While on Pinterest today (because, where else!) I saw a recipe for crockpot ribs. I’m pretty sure I’ve had this one my dinner board for a couple of years, I’ve just always been scared of it. It seems like ribs would be something easy to mess up. I tweaked the recipe based on a few others I read. See below! After trying it tonight, I don’t think I’ll be ordering them in a restaurant again. They were that easy, and just that good.

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Here’s what you need:

  • Package of ribs – the recipe I read said a slab would feed 6 people, but I call shenanigans on that. I’d say it feeds 4. Not even because we’re over eaters, but because you’re probably getting between 14-15 ribs per slab.
  • Can of Coke-Cola – We’ve cut back on drinking pop at my house, so I just grabbed a 20oz bottle at the checkout.
  • 1 Bottle of BBQ Sauce – Our grocery store was having a buy one – get one free sale, so SCORE!

The process couldn’t be easier

  • Cut open the package – based on the size of my crockpot, I cut the ribs in half
  • Place the ribs in the crockpot – I put them meat side down to start
  • In a bowl mix together 1 cup of Cola with 1 bottle of BBQ sauce
  • Pour mixture over ribs in crockpot
  • Set crockpot to high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.
  • I turned my ribs once an hour (on high for 4) and basted them with the sauce
  • Remove from crockpot, and transfer to foil covered cookie sheet.
  • Set under broiler for 3-4 minutes, then baste. Broil another few minutes.
  • PERFECTION!

Next time I make these, I’ll probably cook them a little less time in the crockpot. These were falling apart, and while that makes them delicious, they’re hard to handle, both to the cookie sheet, and to the plate. I’ll probably also make some mashed potatoes to go along with dinner. Tonight we just had some potato salad.

I can’t wait to share some more of my fabulous finds! Stay tuned.