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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Glass pendant jewelry and DIY t-shirt scarf

My daughter, Ashleigh "Lil Elf" and I have been busy making all sorts of goodies from Pinterest the last few days and having a blast.

We've tried fringed t-shirt scarves and nail polish pendants. She decided to make a bunch of pendants and sell them to earn Christmas shopping money. Although she did keep one scarf and one pendant for herself.

pendants in crackle or stardust finish, each one hand-made and unique

the gray t-shirt scarf she couldn't part with

 I miss crafting!!!! Being a stay at home mom sure had it's perks, like getting time to do the fun stuff after the work is done. I won't always be a working mom and full-time student; at least that's what I keep telling myself, lol

 Maybe in Heaven there will  be an eternal craft table, endless contemporary Christian karaoke night, and a library that never charges late fees. ;)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A very PINTERESTING evening: the November party

 Today and into the evening, my sisters, mother, daughter, and I held our first-ever Pinterest party. It was such fun we plan to hold one every month and take turns coming up with the evening's schedule.

 The basic idea goes like this:   1. Three sisters see Pinterest.  2. Sisters fall in love with Pinterest and pin thousands of fun ideas between them.  3. Sisters convince their mother Pinterest is a good thing. 4. Sisters decide to try some of the Pinteresting ideas they see...together...in a small kitchen, filled with silliness and fun. Ah, life is good. :)

 Tonight was Emily's turn. She wanted us to make two new dishes she found on Pinterest: Runza casserole and Apple Pie Bread Pudding with caramel rum sauce. She also picked a craft for the evening: decorating mugs and platters with Sharpie markers. So the five of us (plus my husband, who is turning into a real domestic goddess in his own right) set to work in my very teeny kitchen chopping, whisking, stirring, and layering.

 The Runza dish, Em tells us, is popular up in North Dakota. It is a layering of meat, cheeses, onions, and cabbage baked between two layers of cresent rolls. It was very good. We all liked it a lot but we thought it needed more cheese, maybe even some cheese melted on top. My sis says one can substitute mushroom soup for the cheddar called for the in the recipe, and use Swiss cheese in it as well.

Our version of Runza casserole

 The real treat was the Apple Pie Bread pudding with caramel rum sauce. While my mother was watching my sisters mix the bread cubes into the sauce for baking, and sniffing the sweet smells wafting through the air, she couldn't help but express with a dreamy look in her eye, "You can just see the calories dancing off of that!"  lol. My mother; gotta love her.

  But she was right. A million times over I tell you she was! That woman knows dessert and she knew this was a keeper. Oh my goodness...I can't say enough about this rich dessert! (no one else could either as they sat stuffing their faces full of it). It is a wonderful cold weather comfort food, bursting with spices and warmth.And it is even more delicious topped with a dollop of Cool Whip. :)  Move over Pumpkin Pie....I think I found my new Thanksgiving dinner buddy. I am ashamed to say I sit here with my jeans unbuttoned after making a glutton of myself on this stuff. I am disgustingly full. And even with this full stomach and indigestion, my shoulder devil is already telling me to be the first one up in the morning so I can beat the others to the kitchen for another piece. With coffee. Hmmmm, hmmmm.

 Our stomachs full, we turned our attentions to the craft chosen for the evening. A very simply idea really--grab something ceramic and white, like a serving platter or coffee mug, decorate it with a Sharpie marker, and bake it to make a lasting treasure.

 We thought about writing a family recipe on our platters. Then Emily suggested maybe each of us getting a platter and letting mom write one of her recipes on it in her own handwriting for each of her daughters to keep. I thought that was a really good idea, but for our practice session we chose something easy. Mom went with a quote about chocolate, Emily chose to write her pinings for Mathew Gray-Gubler on her mug, and my baby sister Lonessa let everyone know on her mug that she likes both her coffee---and her men---with an Irish flavor. My daughter made a really cute little plaque with a family quote on it, and I made a coffee mug for my mother-in law, who's own late mother used to say, "Good morning, good morning, good morning" while she drank her coffee. We read some tips on the fine art of decorating mugs with Sharpies over at http://www.diyopolis.com/tips-and-tricks-to-the-diy-sharpie-mug/ which really helped. I just baked them and now they are sitting in the oven cooling slowly. We'll see if they are safe to wash.

 We had such fun that I am already planning the December party.  I would love to hear about YOUR Pinteresting evenings.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Preschool Daze: Awesome October Giveaway: Binder Clips from KuteKl...

My Preschool Daze: Awesome October Giveaway: Binder Clips from KuteKl...:  Congratulations to Diane B. on winning last week's contest for the teacher key chains from The Pink Pouch!  Now for this week's p...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Wizard of Oz Party

My baby girl turned 9 years old today. Ash wanted to have a Wizard of Oz themed party last year but we couldn't due to moving into our new home the same week. So I told her this year we'd do it, and we did, and it was great fun.

I got a lot of inspiration from the movie, of course, and from Pinterest (imagine). And plenty of help from my husband, sisters, mom, and even a co-worker. Theme parties take a lot of work and all who helped or loaned items to me are greatly appreciated. :)

Wish the photos were better quality. Just try to imagine eight or so sugar-hyped little girls in costumes armed with body glitter, sparkle hairspray, and a healthy dose  of imagination, and you have the perfect recipe for silly, giggly, girly fun.

Ash as Dorothy and my sis Em as Glinda (she really is Ash's "Auntie Em")

Some of our girls came in costume. Some adults dressed up as well. 
We had every character except the Tin Man.

Jarred playing the Scarecrow was a big hit with not only the girls but the crowds that drove past.
He changed positions when cars went by and freaked out a whole lot of innocent children. lol

Mrs. Amanda became our adult Dorothy thanks to one of our 
daycare moms lending us the costume.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! No wait, it's just tween girls
waiting to party. :)

"I'll get you my pretty!" 
(thanks to my sister Nessa for playing the role 
of the Wicked Witch of the West)

 I had a lot of fun making the goody bag station, or as I called it, the Munchkin Land Sweet Shoppe.
Since I can't locate my photo (pooh!) I'll have to describe it to you. I placed a green table cloth out and used brightly-colored bowls as containers. I bought Wizard of Oz food party labels that you edit and print yourself from Etsy seller Sassaby and made my own custom labels. Each bowl had a corresponding label on it.

 I set out licorice sticks (Witch Legs), Dum Dum suckers (lolly pops), animal cookies (Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!), bubble gum balls (Glinda bubbles), sour rainbow straps (rainbow candy), and Hershey's Kisses (tin man hats). I found some really cute witch leg themed goody bags at Walmart and set them out with a sign that said "Thank you for coming to my party. Love, Ashleigh. Fill up a treat bag to take home."

Instead of a cake from the store, Ash helped me bake 48 cupcakes which we frosted 
and arranged into a rainbow. We used marshmallows for the clouds. I found some super-cute 
Ruby Slipper bookmark/cupcake picks on Ebay.

Thanks to a couple of trips to McDonalds and a few shopping evenings on Ebay 
we had the full Happy Meal toy set of the Wizard.

Our party table was decorated in a Kansas farm picnic theme. I served two kind of sandwiches, plus Kansas Tornados (Bugles), Scarecrow Stuffing (pretzels), and Yellow Bricks from the Road (cheese puffs). We decorated with gingham, baskets, mini straw hats, and signs I printed off the internet.

With the addition of a red-checked napkin this basket became a pretty silverware server. I added in more labels from the ones I ordered from Etsy seller Sassyby.

Thanks to the cute Ebay find high-heel cookie cutter in the top right of the photo, 
we had peanut butter and jelly "Ruby slipper sandwiches".

Ash already had a basket and a Toto toy from our local Goodwill so we used those to decorate the gift table. I also left a white t-shirt and Sharpies on that table for the guests to sign. That shirt became one of Ash's favorite things.

Ding, dong, the witch is dead! We stuffed some stripey tights and used the shoes 
Ash outgrew to make the Wicked Witch of the East.

A Dollar Tree Scarecrow plus a sign printed off the internet points the way to Munchkin Land
 (I kept this as a decoration outside my pre-k classroom door).

My sister drew random bricks on the daycare walkway and left messages such as "Follow the yellow brick road" and "To Oz".

My sweetie, the Scarecrow, who directed traffic into the daycare parking lot.

Dorothy and the Scarecrow.

The party goers played Melt the Witch (with a bucket of ice water and sponges).

Then we went over to the Oz jewelry shop to craft bottlecap necklaces using graphics I got from two Etsy sellers, Pretty as a Pixel and PinkLimeadeD.

And last of all we had fun at Glinda's beauty shop, because goodness, one can't see the Wizard without getting a little mani/pedi/hairstyling. Armed with colored hairspray, face glitter, and nailpolishes in shades such as Glow-in-the-Dark, Ruby Slipper Red, Wicked Emeralds, and Prairie Sky Blue, my sister Emily (aka Glinda) blinged the girls out and made them look FAB-U-LUS!

I really enjoyed pulling this party together. I have always loved themes...themes in my classroom lessons, themes in decorating, and themes in parties. I had as much fun as the girls did.:)

Later on I'll be reviewing past theme parties I've done such as Blues Clues, Hello Kitty, Pink Poodles in Paris, and more, so come back again.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's Autumn at the Foster house

 Well, autumn is here and appears to be a fun-filled month from the looks of my calendar. My daughter and sister's birthdays, school pictures, homework, field trips to the Pumpkin Patch, our first ever "Three Sisters Do Pinterest" Party....just lots going on.

 I have really enjoyed our Autumn weather. I love fall; it is by far, my favorite season. October days make me smile. My family has been enjoying playing some badminton each night now that the humid days are over. And even the dogs are happy walking in this cooler weather. The air smells crisper and fresher. I like the slight chill that hangs over us at dusk and the golden sunshine we have all day long. The pecans have started dropping off our tree, and we are just waiting for the leaves to change colors so we can do my son's senior photo shoot with JBash Photography. It's that time for apple pies, sweaters, and pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins.

October will be hectic for me also with the celebration of my daughter's 9th birthday with a Wizard of Oz Party. I am daily Pinning and adding ideas. I think it will be a lot of fun. I adore themed parties. I hope to get lots of good pictures to post on here. :)

 My friends and fellow Pinners have been making some pretty fall items, such as painted pumpkins and DIY scarves. I've been thinking lately that I wish I had some time to go back and re-open my Etsy stores. Every time I get on there or on Pinterest I see things I could be making and selling, if I only had the time to craft and list the stuff. My husband's shop is also home to my crafting area that he so thoughtfully set up for me when we moved here last October. It's filled with all sorts of supplies, including a lovely Cricut machine, just waiting to be used. Someday I keep telling myself, someday.

The newest thing I'd like to try is a t-shirt scarf. These look so cool. They were made by my friend and co-worker Michelle, and her daughter. Aren't they great?

Another place I wish I could make items for is Teachers Pay Teachers. I think I could learn how to, again, if I just had the time. But I am into my 3rd year of college and most of my classes now are very task-oriented and project-laden, versus just studying for and passing an exam. Those were the good days. *sigh* I was told that in order to pass this semester I will need to complete one project PER WEEK. Bye bye blogging!
Bye bye home-cooked meals. Bye bye family. I could really get down if I thought about it much but I just keep reminding myself that higher education will pay off one day and it will all be worth it. Praying daily for the Lord's mercy and grace to see me and my family through my last two years.

 I still miss homeschooling though. Seems strange to say coming from one who is studying to become a licensed TN teacher! :) I keep thinking my sons got the best of my time when they were little but my daughter got "jipped" some. I do hope that I am able to install a love of learning and a firm footing in the faith in her, despite the fact she doesn't get as much mommy time as the boys did.

 The new church year is about to begin and I am a little overwhelmed. I have desired and felt called to teach a missions class for the two years we've been members, which I am now doing. But I also became involved with the youth on Sundays and Wednesdays. I need God to s-t-r-e-t-c-h my hours so I can accommodate all these good things and still get 5-6 hours of sleep! lol Ya'll ever feel that way? But when we serve Him, He is good to supply our needs. :)

 I have also stayed busy lately gathering donations from lovely Etsy sellers to donate on my other blog, My Preschool Daze. I've given away tool belts, learning games, and key chains all geared towards educators. I have plenty more donations lined up to carry me through the fall, so come on over and check it out. My Preschool Daze
This week's give away is a set of two adorable key chains:

 I've also been blessed with a business opportunity and a way to minister all at once. I have a new online store selling Bibles, homeschool supplies, church supplies, VBS, home decor, jewelry, books, you name it. It's like walking into a Christian bookstore, only minus the walk. ;) Please check it out and spread the word to family and friends and churches for me.

Hope your autumn is golden and radiant!

New Christian Bookstore online

I am very excited to announce the opening of my new online Christian bookstore. It is called All Things New Christian Books. I have thousands of items in stock, most at a discount. If you or your church need supplies, please consider shopping with me.

All Things New Christian Books

I carry Bibles, homeschooling supplies, Bible bags and covers, jewelry, apparel, music, DVD's, learning games, pulpit and church supply, VBS resources, home decor, study guides, fiction and non-fiction books, and SO MUCH MORE!

Please pass this link along to your family, friends, and churches.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Don't miss out! Spectacular September give-aways over at My Preschool Daze

To show appreciation for educators in all areas of the field, from public to private to homeschool, from pre-k through college-level, I am hosting some contests on my blog. I have some great Etsy sellers on board to donate prizes a teacher would use and appreciate.

This past week I had two winners of a nice Hip Notions Tool Belt. Congrats Julie and Jamie! 

 This week's give away is a nice little set of learning games from Etsian "Time to Teach Kidz". Please visit her shop and tell her you found her on my blog. ;) You can find her on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/people/teachkidz33

And don't forget to drop by my education blog at www.iteach16kids.blogspot.com to enter to win. Deadline is Sunday the 29 of Sept.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Caramel Banana Pie

 We had a homecoming meal at church yesterday and there is always such good food! Church dinners are the best dinners around. Such a variety of items to fit even the most picky eater. And there is always something new being offered up on the buffet table.  So it's a lot of fun to sample and taste-test all the new flavors and dishes. Yesterday did not disappoint.

 There were two new dishes I tried; one was a slaw of some sort with pineapple chunks but I missed the recipe on that one. The other is a delicious pie made by my pastor's wife, which I did catch, and am posting now. Good. For you.

 Drum roll please...Caramel Banana Pie. Or as Pennywisecook.com calls it, Banoffee Pie. Her recipe is so good and simple, that I will now direct you to her blog to test it for yourself. She also tells why the pie was called Banoffee and where it originated from, so it's kind of neat to get in a little culture and trivia to boot.
The only differences one might make in her recipe is to use already-caramelized sweetened condensed milk instead of cooking the can of SCM 2-plus hours until it turns into caramel. The cost of using the already-made caramel stuff might out-weight the amount of time spent cooking, as one tiny can of Nestle's La Lechera dulce de leche set me back close to $5.00! Geez, that's pretty pricey. And using an already-made graham cracker crust cuts a little off the prep time.

 So without further delay (because I know you're wanting to make this recipe for your very own), here is the link to the pie:

Dinner in a Dash: Rotel Dip

Ok, so I am cheating a slight bit tonight and posting a crock pot recipe. The reason for this is that assembling the ingredients really does happen in a dash. Then you just let the crock pot work its magic. :) Although this is really an appetizer, my family likes to eat it as a fast meal.

Crock Pot Rotel Dip
 All you need is:
1 pound of ground sausage or hamburger meat, browned and drained
1 loaf of Velveeta cheese
1 can Rotel tomatoes

Take your browned beef or sausage, the cheese, and Rotel tomatoes and
 put them in the crock pot on low for 3-4 hours. Serve the dip warm with tortilla chips.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

My Preschool Daze: Spectacular September Blog Give Away

My Preschool Daze: Spectacular September Blog Give Away:    I am so excited! I have had around 8 GREAT ETSY SELLERS who have been kind enough to agree to send me items to give away on my blog! Eac...

Product review: Rimmel's 25 hour-Lasting Finish Foundation

  I have been stuck in hot, humid TN for too long. Don't get me wrong; I love TN. Can't think of any other state I'd want to live in except maybe North Carolina...or Virginia...or Massachusettes. Okay, so I do like a few other places. But I love the TN mountains, the trees, the green all around. But man, in the summer, an 85 degree day can feel like 110 degrees and the humidity hits your face like a soggy sponge as soon as you leave the air conditioned comfort of home or vehicle.

 I also work in a daycare and we spend a good portion of our day outside. Now we don't stay out when it's too hot, mind you, but too hot for my body is pretty much year round, every day. I kind of go to extremes...when I'm hot, I'm SWELTERING. And when I'm cold, I'm FREEZING. So when everyone else is enjoying the playground, I am roasting. And there goes my makeup. :( So annoying! UGH! Why bother, you know? Well, last week I reviewed a product called Sweat Block Pads, which you can find in another post. And they seem to be helping cut down on the sweat factor. But I wanted to get some good makeup too, and see if that helps. I went to my local Walmart (where else?) and cruised the makeup aisle. I read labels as fast as my husband and 8-year old would let me, and decided to try the Rimmel based on one thing...the label says it lasts for 25 hours. Wow, there aren't even that many hours in a day so this stuff MUST be great, right?!!

 I picked out the lightest color I could find (Ivory 100, which still looked dark to me, a very ivory kind of gal), and brought it home. Truthfully, I don't know the price because I lost the receipt and didn't care about the price as long as it performed for 25 hours. So I'm not much help to you there. ;)

 First thing I noticed is how dark the makeup appeared in the tube, but when I got it on, it wasn't dark at all. And the smell is very heavenly...light, clean, some sort of lemon-ish scent perhaps. I like the scent a lot. The texture felt kind of heavy until I started spreading it out, then it felt more light-weight.

 I barely sweated since I've been wearing this all week due to a little cold snap that we suddenly decided to have. But it seems to stay on pretty well. How it would handle in severe heat and humidity I'm not sure, although the back of the tube says it's sweat and humidity-proof. Now as to it lasting 25 hours...well, when I remove my makeup at night on a pad, there is a lot of foundation on that pad so I am feeling like it is lasting on most of my face from 6:30 am until 10 pm (the normal skin zone anyway). But the oily zone, if you're like me and have one, will appear shiny after 2-3 hours. I can't ever find a makeup that controls shine the way I'd like. But recall, I bought this one to last, not necessarily to stop my radiant glowing.

 So far I am satisfied enough with the product that I would likely purchase it again. But I'd like to hear from ladies who have worn it in extreme heat and humidity and see what you think.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sweat Block: part 1 of the product review series

  Today I'll be posting a product review on my blog. There are three new products (well, new to me) that I am trying and I will give my honest opinion on here as I have time. I don't get reimbursed or compensated in any way for these posts (although I'd gladly do more reviews, dear sponsors, who just might be reading).

The first product on my review list is called Sweat Block.
Sweat Block pads are like baby wipes, each sealed in its own pouch. The goal of a sweat block pad is pretty obvious. But what ingredients are they made of, are they easy to use, and most importantly, do they actually work?

 I purchased my box of Sweat Block pads at my local Walmart at a cost of about $7 for my pack of 5, which is a 5-week supply. The only active ingredient listed is 14% aluminum chloride.  Now I don't usually spend money on things which I consider frivolous (and yes, it seems as though $7 deodorant might fall into that category), but when you are desperate, you will try just about anything. 

 I have always been a hot-natured person and unfortunately, this nature likes to manifest its ugly self right onto my face. Even when I was a tall, skinny-minny, 117-pound high school senior, I was hot-natured. My outdoor senior photos were shot at Fall Creek Falls State Park, and in them, there is a lovely shine, eh, glow, on my face. :(  I tend to be miserable beyond belief in the muggy TN summers we have, and even in the freezing winter, I can still break a sweat. I attribute it to a mixture of weight gain, nerves, and likely hyperhidrosis, which I'll probably get checked out one day. 

   So back to the pads...the instructions are simple: you wait until a time when your sweat glands won't be very active for 4-5 hours (such as overnight) and you press, not rub, a fresh pad onto clean, dry skin. So after my shower on Sunday evening, I went for it, and tore open the first pad. Only I did something a little differently (and I am certainly not endorsing trying this at home) but I pressed a bit onto my face first. Then I used it on my under arms and other spots prone to sweat when I'm standing on the playground at work. Now let me make it clear also that nowhere on the package does it say to use anywhere except the under arm area. So what I did could have been disastrous considering I have developed so many new allergic reactions to various soaps and lotions this past year. But I am sick of intense sweating and I did it anyway. I figured the worst that would happen is I'd swell up, break out into a rash, and look like the teacher from the Black Lagoon on my first day in my new classroom come Monday morning.

  I felt a tingling, tightening sensation on my skin after use, but it wasn't really unpleasant or unbearable. The package warns one might experience itching after use, which I was kind of scared of, because these new allergies have caused me to have insane daily itching in the past year. Lo and behold, I never experienced any itching from using the product.

 So that's the low-down on the application. But how does it work?

 I spent Monday morning in my new classroom at work. I was a bit nervous in anticipation of the new class and how the day would go. I could feel my body heating up, but I didn't feel like I was sweating a lot. We took our classes out on the playground to play before the mid-day heat kicked in. It was only in the low 80's and not particularly muggy, but even still, I will break a massive sweat on the playground. I mean massive...and my face gets the brunt of it with my makeup sliding off and making me look clammy and sick within minutes. Not on Monday. I sweated a bit on the playground but overall, it wasn't horrible as usual. I caught myself dabbing my face a bit once or twice, but I wasn't pouring or dripping, which is always a good sign.

 This is day 2 and I'm off work, sitting home blogging (er, I mean, studying, yeah studying), so its nice and cool inside and my Sweat Block hasn't gotten a full workout today. But tomorrow will be another day in my busy pre-k classroom and a fun trip to the playground. I will see how the next few days goes and keep you posted. 

 Meanwhile, let me hear from you. Have you tried Sweat Block and how did it work for you?

Come back later on in the week to see my reviews of Hard Candy's Sheer Envy Skin Perfecting Primer and Rimmel's Lasting Finish 25-Hour Foundation.



Monday, September 9, 2013

Dinner in a Dash "Chicken and rice"

Here comes another easy, tasty, and fast dinner.

                                                     Chicken and Rice

You'll need:
2 cups prepared Minute Rice
1 small can cream of chicken soup
1 small can cream of broccoli, celery, or cheese soup, your choice
1 large can chunk chicken breast, undrained
salt and pepper to taste

  Start by preparing 2 cups of Minute Rice as directed on the package. While the rice is cooking, mix together the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently. When the rice is cooked and fluffed, add the hot chicken soup mixture and mix well.

 That's it!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Reading Eggs Free 5-week trial!

As I was sitting in the doctor's office this morning reading Parenting magazine, I saw an ad for a new web site called Reading Eggs. It was colorful, very graphic-intense, and immediately caught my eye. You see, I have a child who is encountering some trouble reading this year, and the appeal of flashy game sites lures her in, whereas I want her to learn something from the games she's playing. So I am always willing to test a web site and see if she likes it and if she grows from it.

   Well, Reading Eggs tossed me the bait and reeled me right in! They are offering a free 5- week (yes, you read it right...5-WEEK) trial.  You can try this amazing offer at http://readingeggs.com/try . Let me also quote a bit from their website so you can get an idea of what they claim to provide:

A Breakthrough In Learning To Read!

Reading Eggs Will Teach Your Child To Read In Just Weeks! Register For Your FREE 5 Week Trial Now.
Reading Eggs provides a comprehensive range of online reading lessons, activities and ebooks that teach kids aged 3-13 the core literacy skills needed for reading success.

Featuring colorful animations, catchy music, sing-a-longs and heaps of exciting rewards, Reading Eggs makes learning to read fun and motivational for children. 

Take advantage of our FREE 5 week trial and see how your child’s reading improves with Reading Eggs!

Proven Reading Results

  • Over 90% of parents have noticed an improvementin their child’s reading ability since using Reading Eggs
  • Based on solid scientific research
  • Used by over 2 million children (and counting!)
  • Developed by expert educators with 20+ years’ experience
  • Money-back guarantee

Why Children Love Reading Eggs

  • Over 512 interactive games, motivating rewards and songs
  • Makes reading fun – kids want to learn
  • One–on–one lessons match your child’s ability
  • Detailed assessment reports show and recognize progress
  • Suitable for children aged 3 – 13
  •  -from  www.readingeggs.com, Blake Elearning, 2013
I plan to give this site a try. If any of you test it in your home or classroom, please come back here to blog about your experiences.


Monday, September 2, 2013

"Dinner in a Dash" Series

   It can be frustrating to try to whip up a fast and filling dinner on a weeknight (in between soccer and gymnastics and piano and church and scouts and homework and housework and baths and dog-walking...well, you get the picture). I love to eat and I am a big fan of comfort foods, but who has time to spend hours baking and layering and chopping? Maybe on a Saturday afternoon but definitely not Monday-Friday in my home.

 So this month's challenge is to find tasty dinners that can be made in a flash, and if they please children and husbands and are filling, that's an A+ in my book. With this in mind I'm starting a new series on No Place Like Home called "Dinner in a Dash". I'd love to have you share your best easy dinners on here, too. So feel free to post a recipe in the comments box. ;)

Hearty Nachos

**This filling is just as good as a burrito, served in a warmed flour tortilla.

1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
1 package dry taco seasoning
1 can Rotel, mild or hot, your preference
1 can re-fried beans
tortilla chips 

Toppings of choice: shredded cheddar or fiesta blend cheese, sliced olives, chopped jalapenos, sour cream, salsa, chopped green onions, diced tomato, etc. 

While ground beef is browning, chop any toppings needed (and warm flour tortillas, if making burritos instead of nachos). Brown beef until no pink remains, then drain ground beef. Stir in 1 can Rotel, 1 pack taco seasoning, and 1 can re-fried beans. Cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Spread tortilla chips on plates and call in the crowd. :) Start by spooning the hot ground beef mixture onto the chips, and then top with any veggies, cheeses, etc. that you like. 

From skillet to table in only ten minutes, feeds a hungry crowd, and can be personalized to please even the most picky eaters in your house, this take-off of Taco Bell's Nachos Bell Grande is a favorite in my kitchen.

photo credit: Tojosan via photopin cc

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Meat and Potatoes Casserole

Tonight was one of those nights where I tried to whip together some fast dinner that was yummy, filling, and used items already in my freezer or pantry.  Since I live with three manly men, any meal involving "meat and taters", as we sometimes say in the south, is what they crave.  This my "main dish" take on a favorite tator tot casserole:

 Meat and Potatoes Casserole

1 pound ground beef or turkey, browned
1 bag tator tots, frozen
1 can cream mushroom soup
1 can cream chicken soup
1 can Progresso Recipe Starters garlic sauce
1 bag (2 cups) shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Spray a 9 X 13 baking pan with oil.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brown the ground beef or turkey with the onion and pepper.
In a large bowl, mix together all the remaining ingredients with the browned meat/onion/pepper mixture. Spread the mixture into the casserole pan. Top with a dash or two of salt and pepper.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until tator tots are cooked through. Serves a crowd (or a hungry group of men).

What is YOUR favorite fast, easy, crowd-pleasing weeknight meal? Be sure to comment below. ;)


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Make your own body wash!

 I've been wanting to make my own body wash for weeks. I've read a lot of reviews for the stuff online and seen enough Pinterest posts to be very tempted to try it. The gist of it is that you melt a bar of your favorite soap with enough water to make it liquid and squeeze it onto a bath pouf for luxurious cleansing. Easy enough, I thought.

Those who have made it tend to like it because it's

1) fairly inexpensive to make (vs. buying bottles that run from $1-$5 each)
2) you control what goes in so it can be formulated to be just right for each user ( adding extra moisturizing agents or essential oils, for example)
3) it's just so much FUN to make something yourself  :P

  So I went through my crafting supplies, hit up my local Dollar Tree, and my kiddo (a.k.a. "Crafty Girl") and I got started.

 What we used :

(shown here: FO, Skin Milk soap grated, recycled squeeze bottles, Bubble Magic)

(coconut oil)

(oatmeal, milk, and honey FO)

(Bubble Magic)

  • 1 seven-ounce bar of Skin Milk bar soap from Dollar Tree, grated (Crafty Girl grated and grated and grated). It has a nice, light vanilla scent.
  • 1  TBS. coconut oil (doesn't everything need a bit of coconut?)
  • 1 TBS. of Soap Wizards Bubble Magic (this is purely optional; I like BUBBLES. I feel cleaner with them--I can't get past it. I know it's a foaming agent and some of you might not want to add this to your soap but it was leftover from my soaping days)
  • 21 oz. of water (I began with 14 oz. but as the mixture cooled it thickened)
  • 1 TBS. honey (honey is good for your skin and is nice to add into beauty products)
  • 20 drops of Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey FO (also leftover from my soaping days...why waste it?)
  • squeeze or pump bottles (recycled from previous B&B products or you can buy picnic condiment bottles for around a dollar at Dollar Tree or Walmart)

(I have developed extremely itchy skin and new allergies over the past year, so if this batch works I plan to make a batch for sensitive skin without all the Fragrance oil and Bubble Magic):

Step 1: grate the bar of soap

Step 2: add your water to your pan and turn it on medium heat (start with about double the amount of soap used; if the mixture starts to harden/thicken as it cools, add more water and reheat it. This seems to happen to a lot of homemade body wash mixtures on other blogs and it looks as though it is just trial and error depending on the type of bar soap that was used)

Step 3: put your soap shreds in the pot and start the melting process

(adding in coconut oil)

(adding in the Bubble Magic)

Step 4: cook the mixture until it's melted, on medium heat, gently whisking it as you go. You can add in optional ingredients such as coconut oil, honey, etc. at this point. Hold off on the fragrance oils. Wait 'til the mixture cools to add those or the scent can evaporate right out).

Step 5: if you like you can use a hand-held mixer to mix the liquid. Crafty Girl tested this out. Leave it alone to cool for a while.

Step 6: Crafty Girl added the optional 20 drops of FO and gave the mixture one last stir before we left it to cool the rest of the way.

Step 7: pour your body wash into recycled pump or squeeze bottles to enjoy! Might need to shake it each time before using if it begins to separate.

You can just use the soap and water and nothing more and make the most simple, basic version of body wash. It can't get too much easier than this. And if you can't even stand the thought of grating all that soap, you can just cut your bar into tiny chunks instead. There you have it.

This was my first effort and I have my bottles ready to use. So far this one batch filled 4 recycled squeeze bottles, each one about the size of a picnic condiment bottle. So if it works then it was well worth the price. And if I had only used the bar soap and water, it would have been SUPER CHEAP. Almost ** free** even.

Try it yourself and be sure to let me know how it goes, how much water you used, what type of bar soap you started with, if it thickened in the bottle, and all that jazz. ;)