Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Card Display Problem: SOLVED!

The last few days I've been stressing about how to display the inevitable loads of Christmas cards we will receive this year. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love getting them!! But after starting the Konmari method and reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up I just wanted to display them in a joyful way.

I scoured Pinterest for some ideas, and there are a lot of them out there!  I settled on this one from Thyme is Honey using washi tape. And then I realized that the only washi tape I had was some leopard print stuff leftover from one of my girl's art projects.

Uh, that's not very Christmas-y.

So I went to my trusty ribbon stash and found the perfect shade of green (seriously, I have a LOT of ribbon). I used some command strips, some leftover tinsel and a level to make the perfect display tree!  I even cut a star out of some gold fabric I had left over from Halloween.

Total Cost: $0




I love how it turned out and can't wait to fill it up with the season's greetings from our friends and family.

Bring on the cards!!

Speaking of which, I'm waiting for ours to come via Shutterfly so that I can send them out asap.  I keep a list on my Google Docs of all the addresses of our friends and family from year to year, so it's a snap to fill out the cards when they come.

I'm all about making the holidays as stress-free as possible!


It's filling up! 

What's your favorite way to display cards? Share in the comments below! 

~Patricia

Monday, December 7, 2015

Morning Routine with an Easy Breakfast Idea

Hey y'all!  

Today I wanted to share with you my morning routine and one of my favorite ways to make a quick breakfast.  The holidays are in full swing here and if I don't make myself a healthy breakfast, I get super cranky by mid-morning! That is no beuno for anyone. Seriously. 

Ready? Here we go!

Usually I start the morning by getting my two oldest girls up and off to school.  I make sure they are dressed, shoes on, and the oldest one gets some sort of breakfast sandwich or protein bar and a glass of milk that she can eat/drink in the car on the way to the bus stop. (Unfortunately she's inherited my hangry tendencies, so I have to make sure she eats something.) 

After that I always walk the dog. I use the S Health App on my phone to track my mileage, and it usually ends up being a 1 or 2 mile walk. Wahoo!  If my day isn't too crazy, I'll head over to the gym later in the morning to take a class (Zumba is my favorite!), but if not, brisk walk = cardio! 


When I get home I whip out the yoga mat to do some stretches and other exercises: planks, sit-ups, squats, etc. Those pesky abs will be flat one day! There I said it! (so it has to be true, right?!)


And now, for the the easiest breakfast you'll ever make, I give you: (Drumroll please....)
2 Minute Eggs!! 

Made in a mug in the microwave! Genius! 


Basic 2 Minute Egg Recipe:
Spray a Coffee Mug with non-stick spray.
Whisk 2 eggs, 1 tbsp milk and spices (I use salt, pepper and turmeric) together. 
Microwave for 45 seconds, stir.
Microwave again until set, usually 30 to 45 more seconds. 

That's it!

Usually I pop them out onto a plate and add some protein left over from our dinner the night before (steak, chicken, chops) or even some deli meat if I have some. Throw on some cherry tomatoes, a little cheese, maybe add some left over veggies (peppers and spinach would be amazing!) and you've got yourself an easy breakfast AND used up some of those leftovers that would probably have been forgotten about in the back of your fridge. (Wait, am I the only one who doesn't like leftovers?)

You can find the original recipe and a video here from IncredibleEgg.com

And here's a fun fact: Years ago, when I worked at a juvenile detention center, one of the older ladies that worked there used to make her eggs like this and I thought she was just crazy. Who makes their eggs in the microwave?!  Now I know that she was just years ahead of her time. Genius. I guess that's what living for ten more years will give you! Perspective! 

OMG. Isn't this mini whisk the CUTEST?!?!

I'd love to see some of your favorite breakfast creations, so leave a link and comment below! Thanks for reading!

~Patricia










Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Banana Blondies

Sometimes I make really good decisions. 

Sometimes I find something on Pinterest, and it just turns out. Like really turns out good. (see below for a delicious example)

And sometimes things don't turn out at all. Pinterest Fail. 

So before I tell you about the best-ever-so-easy-it-can't-be-good-for-you recipe for Banana Blondies, let me tell you about my fail making banana bread. Banana bread---it should be so easy to make, right?

Not for me I guess!

I do have a great recipe for banana muffins, maybe I should just put those in a loaf pan, is that how these things work? Would that even work? Hmmmm.

I found this recipe for Banana Bread on Food.com. The picture show delicious, warm (I'm only assuming it's warm, I didn't see that in the photos per se), yummy banana bread. Mmmmm, my mouth was watering, and I had a whole bunch of ripe bananas to use up; let's get started!! 

So I mixed it up (easy enough) and greased and floured my loaf pan (thanks Mom for teaching me how to do that!) and then poured it in and popped it in the oven. Easy! Wait an hour (which seemed like a long time, but whatever), and then smell something burning and pull out this mess: 



Ick.  It was burned and didn't look at all like the pictures, didn't look appetizing at all.  I took it out and tried to salvage it by cutting off the burned parts, but it just was a soppy mess. Le sigh. I tried!!


Now, on to the success of the day:

Banana Blondies! 

Look at how delicious these look!

And homemade frosting too!!

Mmmmmmm.  



I found the recipe off of Pinterest, from this website, Cookies and Cups. 

It was surprisingly easy, and so deliciously sweet! I've never really even made frosting before, and I couldn't believe
a) that I made it and 
b) that I had all the ingredients already in my pantry!

This is all that was left after the kids got into it!
Ready for the recipe?

Here goes!  

Banana Blondies 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 medium to large mashed ripe banana

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a 8x8 pan or a pie plate with foil, then spray with non-stick baking spray.
2. Using your stand mixer, combine melted butter and sugar. Then incorporate in egg and vanilla. Then stir until salt, flour and banana until batter is smooth. 
3. Bake for 25-30 min. Center should be set when you take it out.
4. Place pan on wire rack to cool, then make the frosting!


Brown Sugar Frosting


Ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1 cup powered sugar

1. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add brown sugar and milk; stir until  it begins to boil. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.
2. Whisk in powered sugar.
3. Pour over blondies and let sit while frosting hardens. When everything is completely cool and set, cut and enjoy! Refrigerate any leftovers. 

Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups. 


Monday, October 19, 2015

Halloween bottles and a pasta problem!

Today I finished up working on my Halloween decor, by putting the final touches on these bottles that we painted. I really liked how they turned out!


I still have to give them a final spray of sealer, so the paint doesn't chip off, but other than that, they are ready to display! The smaller one is a pasta jar that was painted orange on the inside, and other two are green bottles (one olive oil, one wine) that my 5 and 3 yr olds helped to paint on the outside.  

I much prefer the clean, inside painted look, but since I'm also about letting the kids help with the crafts, I'll take whatever I can get! 


The other thing I have going on today is my never-ending battle with pasta. Awhile ago I brought some pasta home from the grocery store that had pasta bugs in it. 

They.are.so.gross!!

And I didn't realize at first what it was, so I did nothing about it. Then they were everywhere. All over my pantry closet. Trying to climb out and on my counter. Ick. 

I took drastic steps. Cleaned out and sprayed down the entire pantry closet. Threw a ton of stuff away. It was probably about time. Ever since I started the Konmari Method  I've had an easier time just throwing things away.  I'm never going to make those strawberry lemonade flavored cupcakes, never. Why did I buy those? I ended up doing some research about the pasta bugs, and the best way to kill them is to put the boxes in the freezer when you get home from the store so the cold can kill the bugs and their eggs. 

Again, ick.

So that's what I've been doing, and I'm happy to say, NO MORE BUGS!!

What a relief!

Except for tonight, when I took a box of pasta from the freezer, emptied it into the pot of boiling water, and a ton of gross little bugs started floating on the surface of the water. I panicked and threw the entire pot down the drain, which lead to my (temporarily) clogging my garbage disposal. But, thankfully, I got rid of all of it! Shudder.


Which lead me to this photo. I had a half a box of clean rotini left, but the other pasta was down the drain, literally. So I found a box of tri-color pasta and picked out all of the white pastas (red bowl) to go with the half box. My 3 kids were none the wiser. Then I made the red and green pasta for myself (and extra for lunch tomorrow).

Dinner was saved, a mess was made but our bellies are full. For that, we are thankful!

Until next time, come and hang with me on Instagram!  It's the perfect platform for a visual person like me; I love looking at all the photos!

-Patricia

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Easy DIY: Trash Bag Spiderwebs!



Do you ever poke around on Pinterest, hoping to find that perfect craft to do? One that's not too hard, not too cheap-looking; one that will be done in the course of one afternoon without having to go to five stores to find exactly the right shade of pink or three different kinds of glitter?

Let me present to you: (drum roll please)......

Trash Bag Spiderwebs! 

They are perfect, perfect, perfect for Halloween: not to hard to make, easy to find materials (you probably have a giant box of black trash bags from Costco sitting under your sink right now), and definite decorating punch for the holiday season.

Sold? Me too.

Let's get started!

For full directions and for more info, see the source of this project: Howaboutorange.blogspot.com

Materials Needed:Large Black trash bag
Scissors
Tape
Black Sharpie

Start by cutting off the four sides of the trash bag, so that you have 2 giant squares of black plastic-y material.  I found it easiest to not unfold the trash bag the whole way, but rather cut off the sides while it's still folded up (soooo much easier!).


Then you'll want to fold up the one of the squares into a giant triangle, and tape the open side together, so it doesn't slide all around.  Each bag will make 2 spiderwebs.


Using your black sharpie, make the spider web lines that you want on the triangle (like those in the picture) and then cut those pieces out, leaving something that looks like the image below.


When you unfold it, you'll have a cool giant black spiderweb that you can hang anywhere in your house to give the kids (and Grandma!) a good scare! 


Spooky!!

Want to see the rest of our Halloween decorations take shape? Follow along on the blog via email or follow me on Instagram

Happy Decorating!
-Patricia



Friday, September 4, 2015

Pom-poms!

I'm off to bed here in a minute, but I just wanted to share a great craft that we did together (the girls and I) tonight that was fun and easy and didn't drive me crazy: making pom-poms!

I had actually forgotten all about the cool pom-pom makers I had bought off of Amazon a few years ago now, but they are so easy to use: just wrap, cut and tie. So simple. And the girls had fun picking out what size to make and what color yarn to use too.

Try them out!



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium

I cannot believe our summer has gone by this fast and that it's already over. We've traveled all over the country, worn out our swimsuits and just have had so much fun!

A few days ago we went to see Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Every time the girls watch A Dolphin Tale, they get so excited and want to see Winter.  This time, I realized that the only day we had left before school started, was the next day! So I booked a hotel, bought the tickets and we headed out the next morning!

On our way!

It was super hot, but the girls really had a nice time. My 8 year old loved it the most, because she really liked listening to the workers there when they gave their talks. I thought it was very interesting too! The little girls liked looking at the animals as well as the trolley ride over to the second building, where they have a building dedicated to the movie, with set pieces, little known-facts, and a hurricane re-enactment (that honestly really scared the little girls but was just sort of wobbly and windy to me).


Winter's gel that keeps her tail on

Jolley Trolley ride to A Dolphin Tale Adventure
Hanging at the Dolphin Tale Adventure
I spy a dolphin!

Afterwards, we stopped at the grocery store to get some food, then I asked Google to bring me to the closet public beach.

Can I just say that I love Google? It took me past the busy, loud, crowded pier area of Clearwater to this awesome public park, where there was plenty of parking, no crowds, and tons of quiet beach time.



As well as an awesome sunset.


Gorgeous, right?!  It was amazing!  

And then as we were leaving, we saw fireworks being shot off. Perfect end to an awesome day.

Here's to hoping the school year is just as peaceful.

Thanks for reading!

Patricia

New Recipes to try!

I tried some new recipes today and I thought I would share them with you all because they turned out pretty good!

Carrot Applesauce Muffins



 I printed this one out awhile ago and was just waiting for the right time to try it, and today was the day!

Totally yum! And only my middle daughter didn't like them ("I don't like the big carrots in there"), so it was a win in my book. There's actually only 2 of the dozen left--and I just made them this afternoon. I used matchstick carrots that I chopped up a little finer, so next time I will try actually grating the carrots as the recipe suggested. They have a nice warm cinnamon-y flavor too. Mmmm.

Click here for the recipe from 100 days of real food. 

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower



I also tried making this recipe for Garlic Mashed Cauliflower from Allrecipes.com.

I thought it was pretty good (still tasted like cauliflower!) but my husband and I both liked it. I'd definitely recommend it for the more adventurous tasters in your house!

Give them a try and let me know what you think!  I'm always looking for new recipes to try, especially muffins. They are such a good grab and go treat, perfect for us since we're always on the go!

Thanks for reading!

Patricia

Saturday, August 15, 2015

5th Golden Birthday Party Details!

Last weekend my middle girl, Marie, turned the big 5! Since she turned 5 on the 5th, we had a very special golden birthday party for her. For those of you that have never heard of of a golden birthday, it's when you age is the same as the day you were born. (1 on the first, 10 on the 10th, etc) Some of our friends have heard about it, but many have not! 

Isn't it funny when something that you've grown up with, just isn't common everywhere? It's a funny feeling. Makes my world feel a little bigger. 

On to the party!

Here are some party details, in case you're wanting to throw a "golden birthday" too, or just wonder what kind of food is good to serve (mine was super awesome, if I do say so myself.)

Decorations: 
Gold spray-painted wooden 5 (picked up at JoAnn's)
fresh flowers in a vase wrapped with gold tissue paper (picked up at Target)
gold spray-painted horses (taken from our toys; we have a lot of horses!)
black paper roll with gold glitter tape (picked up at target; on the food table)
chalkboard banner with "Golden" written in chalk (from Target too)
Fringe Tissue Paper Background with homemade "Happy Birthday" Pennant Banner (I'm going to do another post about how I made this--see it below!)


Cake:
2 boxes of vanilla cake mix made into cupcakes, mini cupcakes and a heart-shaped cake
My mom used to decorate wedding cakes, so we used 2 cans of store-bought frosting, gold sprinkles, and a decorating kit to make them pretty. 

Games:
We played Pin the Horn on the Unicorn and the kids had a lot of fun with it! Click the link and check it out! A cheap, easy game and it came in 2 days with my Amazon Prine; I couldn't have asked for an easier game. The kids swam in the pool for most of the party so I only did one game.  Those that didn't want to swim could play in our playroom.


Food:
Baked Ziti (see below for recipe)

Fruit Bar:
Watermelon
Blueberries
Green Grapes
Apples (bought already cut up)
Cantaloupe
Strawberries

Carrots
Cherry Tomatoes

Potato Chips
Tortilla Chips
Salsa
Cheese Dip
Spinach Dip

Drinks:
Water Bottles
Juice Boxes

I picked up most of the food at Sam's club, it was perfect that they already came in a big size! (and bonus: there were leftovers for days!) The 3 dips came in a 3 pack, so that was easy too. 

Plates were gold-striped plates mixed with regular white plates.
Napkins were solid gold mixed in with plain white. 
I purchased the napkins all at Target, and the plain white ones were so much cheaper than the pretty gold ones, so I just mixed them together! 
I put a bunch of plastic forks in a blue Mason jar that I topped with some of the gold glitter ribbon. I picked up the jar at an antique store while shopping in Minnesota this summer, it's a joy sparker for me!


Every party that we have, I always wonder about what food to serve. The one dish that has always been a clear winner is the Baked Ziti.  I found the recipe a few years ago on allrecipes.com, and it's been our favorite since then!  Here's the recipe:

Baked Ziti II
Recipe By:BUCHKO, found on Allrecipes.com, modified slightly
Ingredients
  • 1 (16 ounce) package ziti pasta
  • 32 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 (32 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix ziti, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg and 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  4. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and spoon in ziti mixture. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, followed by Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Trust me, it's amazing! And it tastes even better the next day. 

Gift Bags:
I wrapped a bunch of candy in gold tulle circles (I got mine at JoAnn's) and put them in a basket that I spray-painted gold. Easy! 

Party time! See the cute fringe background? 
After opening all the presents, she immediately started coloring this backpack. Love her!
So, the party turned out awesome! We had a bunch of kids and parents swimming and then we had cake and presents and then everyone left! Seriously, everyone cleared out and the girls had the rest of the afternoon to play with all the presents. After a couple hours of serious playtime, and some clean-up, we all went to the movies to see Shaun the Sheep. It was so funny! If it's playing nearby, definitely go see it! We all enjoyed it, even my mom who was visiting.

It was a great day!

~Patricia

Day Trip to the Beach

Saturday. Family Day.

I started out Saturday morning by taking our 8 year old to Irish dance lessons. (I'm kinda jealous that I'm not doing Irish dance lessons, shhh.) She was the only one in class today, but she did really, really well; so proud of her!

The hubs and I decided that we'd take the kids to the beach this afternoon. Last week I took the girls with my mom and we had the best time. M is totally into nature and wanted to bring her goggles and look in the water too.  Hubs is really good at looking for sand fleas in the water, and we even found a few sand dollars too. Last week we found over 20!

On our way to the beach...notice the rain on the van windows....
We had tacos from the best little taqueria in town while waiting for the rain to stop. Yummm!

We beat the rain, but the dark clouds are still over there.

Searching for sand fleas!

Nature girl (notice the goggles!)

Not long after we were out in the water, it started storming and lightning again way out on the water, so we headed in to the restaurant (part of a hotel) that was nearby. We got some grub and then swam in the hotel's pool. We saw the same girls in the pool that we had met at the beach; they were so sweet!  One of the girls asked me if I "lived here", which of course I said yes. She then asked me my hotel room number, to which I answered, "No, I live here." And she seemed really confused. It was kinda cute. 

But locals go to the beach too. And we know better than to swim when there's lightning out on the water! Last year I had to convince one of our extended family members not to swim when there was a storm thisclose to the beach. People have gotten hit by lightning and died, y'all. Not worth it!

And now it's off to bed, because the weekend's not even over yet!

~Patricia


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Festive, Easy, Fourth of July Skirts

Tonight I finished 3 skirts in 3 hours! (Less if you count that break for checking Facebook). I used an awesome tutorial for a simple skirt from Dana Made It, and it couldn't have been easier! I'll walk you through some basic steps, but head over to her site for the low-down on how to make an easy skirt in less than an hour!


My girls and I switched up our playroom yesterday, and moved my sewing stuff into the room, and moved about half of their toys out (and into a friend's garage sale---yes!). Since 4th of July is next week, I thought it would be the perfect time to try out my new space and finally put this fabric to use (it's probably from last year, not gonna lie). 

So festive! 


I'm pretty sure I bought this as a remnant, and I had just enough for 2 skirts for the big girls!

And (so proud of myself for this), I actually ironed and
added little touches like the top-stitching on the top of the elastic casing.

Double stitching on the hem (you can see where I started using up a bobbin of white thread here!).

After I finished those 2 skirts, I found this starry fabric quarter and decided to make a little skirt for my little daughter. She's 2 and I cut the fabric quarter the long way, so that I'd have a little extra length for her. 


After cutting 2 equal pieces with a pinking shears, sew together to form a large tube and press out your seams. (and I used my iron this time around too!)


I then ironed the bottom hem up a little bit.


I then used some leftover bias tape for the bottom hem.


To make the upper casing for the elastic, I first ironed down the top a small amount (like I did with the bottom already), then ironed down enough to cover my elastic. I ironed down about an inch because I used 3/4" non-roll elastic for this project. For the 2 skirts up top, I used 1" elastic.  Don't forget to leave a space in your casing so that you can pull the elastic through! 



Sewing the bottom of the casing.
 

Sewing the top of the casing.
Finally, I used a safety pin to pull the elastic through the casing.  I left it open for now, since I will measure the skirts on my daughters tomorrow, and then finish the skirts by sewing the elastic together and sewing the casings shut. Easy, peasy! 


And, it always helps to have a hot mug of tea to keep you company on late nights!  This is my new favorite mug, that I found while cleaning my house. It was a gift from a good friend, and the verse always reminds me of her! 

One of these days I'll have to do a post about my latest (and I think last) organizational method, the Konmari Method. I have gotten rid of so much junk that was just cluttering up my house; it's been amazing! 



Thanks for reading! Follow along to see the big reveal tomorrow and for other fun crafts and ideas! You can enter your email (look in the right sidebar on desktop) or "like" me (and a few posts) on Facebook

~Patricia