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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Easy After-School Snack Idea with Free Printable

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AHugeSale #CollectiveBias #Albertsons

I'm loving all the back to school sales that are happening right now, so I put together a quick and inexpensive snack idea with a cute chalkboard tag to surprise my "sweets" after their first day!
My kids come home hungry after a long day at school, so I like to have a little something waiting for them to tide them over until dinner.  

Their first day is August 13th (I can't believe it!).  I know saying this makes me sound old, but I remember not having to head back until just before Labor Day!  Summer break seems to get shorter and shorter.  But, I guess there's nothing I can do to lengthen it, so I might as well embrace it.  :)

I've been wanting to do something extra special and memorable for the kiddos when they come running in the door on that first day.  Book work and playing hard on the playground can make a person hungry and thirsty, so I came up with a simple solution that I know my kids will love! 
And who can resist the adorable themed tag?  I created one with a chalkboard and another with a cork board background for your printing pleasure.  :)

I printed mine on white cardstock, cut, punched, then attached to the snack items with backer's twine.  Easy peasy!  You'll win mom of the year award, or at least become your kiddos' favorite person of all time for the moment.  :)

Download and print the after-school snack tags here. 

 
I was recently at Albertsons and got in on their HUGE Anniversary Sale!  I love a good deal, so I figured why not stock up on after school snack items?  It was the perfect opportunity!
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I was thrilled to see that Quaker Chewy Granola Bars were a great price, along with Gatorade, Lays chips, and many more items!  You'll want to take a trip and check out the sale, if you haven't already!  It ends August 11th!

Gatorade 8-pack 20 oz. bottles were $3.99 with a purchase of five.  Lays chips were just $2.99 a piece with a purchase of six, and Quaker Chewy Granola Bars were only $1.49 with a purchase of six.  I never pass up a good opportunity to save money, and because the kids will be asking for these items anyway for after-school sustenance, I grabbed some of each!

I can't wait to see the look on the kids' faces when they see this surprise!

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How are you preparing for that big first day back?  I'm all ears!

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Diaper Genie Revamp Plus 3 Tips for Decorating the Perfect Nursery


This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Diaper Genie® but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PlaytexEssentials http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Today I'm excited to share three tips for styling and decorating the perfect nursery, plus I'll explain how to easily customize the Diaper Genie to fit your chosen scheme!  And, I'll be giving you a peek at some of the items that will be in my soon-to-be-due baby boy's room.
1. Decide on a theme & colors after selecting key furniture pieces.  

Because this is my fourth child, I pretty much already have all the nursery necessities as far as furniture goes.  But do you believe that through three kids, I have never owned a Diaper Genie?  I must have been living in a cave.  :) 

I complained often about having to carry dirty diapers to the outdoor garbage All. Day. Long.  But little did I know there was a simple solution to my problem.  This magical pail holds up to 100 newborn diapers while locking in the odors!  My life will never be the same, and I'm ok with that.  :)

I love all things nautical, so I'll be centering the colors and decor of my baby boy's room around this theme.  We'll be moving to a new home in just a few weeks, so I'm holding off on creating the full look until we get there, but it's just about killing me!
 2. Allow style to meet function.  

There are so many ways to customize well-used items from your nursery to fit your theme.

For instance, as much as I love all that my new Diaper Genie entails, it was in need of a little nautical TLC.  :)

You will be amazed at how simple it was to create this adorable look!  I pulled up Silhouette Studio and sized these cute spouting whale, anchor and sailboat designs that I purchased from the Silhouette shop.  Then I used my Cameo to cut the designs using blue and red vinyl.  Lastly, I transferred them to the front of the Diaper Genie.  I cannot get over how cute it is!

If you don't own a Silhouette machine, not to fret, you can still achieve the same look!  You'll need stencils and some spray paint that will work well on plastic.  Cover the areas you don't want to be painted, then spray the stencil designs on in the areas where you'd like them.  That's it!  I'd recommend using a sealer afterwards for permanence if this method is used.
I am in love with that little spouting whale.  :)  And that sailboat...be still my heart.
I love shopping at Target for all my nursery and baby essentials.   And, I'm proud to finally own a Diaper Genie!  It only took having four kids.  :)

Did you know that Diaper Genie has a new "Mommy Time" Rewards Program where we mommies can earn points to use towards great rewards for ourselves with every purchase of Diaper Genie products or by registering for Diaper Genie products?

Here's how the program works:

1. Buy: Purchase participating Diaper Genie products


2. Snap: Take a photo of your store receipt using your mobile phone or upload a photo of your receipt or baby registry from your desktop and create your own Mommy Time Rewards profile at www.MommyTimeRewards.com


3
. Redeem: Log in to your Mommy Time Rewards account to redeem your points for eGift Card rewards.  Reward yourself with your favorite products from participating retailers like Sephora and Zappos, or eGift Cards for massages, dining and more.

I like the sound of free product and more "me" time! Next time you're at Target, be sure to stock up and start earning rewards!
Here's another quick peek at what will be in our baby's room.  I can't wait to lay my sweet baby in this beautiful cradle!  I've used it with all my kids and it holds a special place in my heart because my husband slept in it as an infant.  Talk about nostalgia!
3. Choose classic and adaptable decor (i.e. pieces that can be used for longer than the baby years and as tastes change).  I decorated my second son's room around the theme from Dr. Seuss's book "Oh, the places you'll go!".  So I centered the decor around things that move (i.e. cars, boats, trains, etc.).  

As it turns out, this was brilliant, because he and his baby brother will be sharing a room.  Because we will be in a new home then, I'm taking full advantage of the opportunity to switch things up and give their room a little refresh with the nautical theme, as mentioned above.  One of the things that I love about this theme is it will grow with my boys for a long time, so I won't need to constantly update their room over the coming years.

Because I pride myself in being frugal, I'll be keeping many of the decor pieces from before, like this fun sailboat and rope-style woven basket.  Then, I'll add in a new rug, some current pictures of my boys, and call it good!  I'm also planning on giving the space in our new home a fresh coat of paint, but I don't want to get too ambitious with a newborn.  :)

Planning a nursery is so much fun!  I hope you've found these tips helpful.  


Be sure to take advantage of the Diaper Genie “Mommy Time” Rewards Program! Earn points to use towards great rewards for yourself every time you buy or register for  Diaper Genie products.

Follow Diaper Genie on Facebook and Twitter for more great ideas!

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Back to School $325 Visa Gift Card Giveaway!

If you're like me, an extra, free $325 towards school supplies and outfits sounds amazing!  I've got two kids in school now, and things really add up quickly!  It can be pricey getting those kiddos off to their classes at the beginning of the year!  I always have a great time taking them out to choose new shoes, backpacks, and binders, but then I cringe when we reach the register!  

You know how I love to show my wonderful readers how much I appreciate you, so I've teamed up with a bunch of wonderful blogger friends to bring you the chance to win a $325 Visa Gift Card!  Woohoo!!


This giveaway is sponsored by the following fabulous bloggers! Be sure to check out their blogs for some more fabulous inspiration!


Best of luck to you!  Giveaway will end Monday, 8/10/15 at 11:59 PM CST.


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Friday, July 31, 2015

Back to School Apple Sugar Cookies


Surprise the kids on their first day back at school with these fun and cute Apple Sugar Cookies with a yummy gummy worm candy!
The kids will be heading back to school before you know it, and I'm literally cringing as I type this.  I hate to admit that the lazy days of summer are almost over.  Time passes way too quickly!  I love summertime, but have to admit that the fall season is my favorite!  

Especially now as I sit here fanning my eight month pregnant body.  The cooler weather sounds so welcoming.  I'm at the point where I can't even imagine ever wanting to put on a coat.  The thoughts of it are actually revolting to me.  I could probably live in the North Pole right now with nothing but the clothes on my back and be just fine.  :)
But, I'm glad that I don't call that place my home, because the apples on our backyard trees here are turning a gorgeous color, and I would hate to miss out on partaking of them.  We'll probably have moved before we get to, anyway.  :(  It's also the first year that our peach trees produced.  Karma at its finest.  

Oh well.  I guess I'll have to make frequent trips to the Farmer's Market to satisfy my fresh fruit cravings.  

But, enough of this healthy talk.  It's overrated.  :)

Today's Apple Cookies are certainly not nutritious, but I can promise that they are completely delicious and will put a big smile on the kids' faces when they jump off the big yellow bus. 

A soft (Lofthouse-Style) sugar cookie base with a creamy cherry red frosting, candy leaves, pretzel stems, and gummy worms, this treat epitomizes what children yearn to eat after removing their backpacks for the day!
My mom used to have a fun snack waiting for us every day after school.  I used to get so excited to burst through the front door and see what it was.  I'll admit that the sugary variety was my favorite.  She'd often make Chocolate Chip Cookies or even the occasional Pound Cake.  But there was always something for us kids to enjoy after a long day of bookwork, bells, and popularity contests.  Those afternoon pick-me-ups really gave me something to look forward to.

{APPLE SUGAR COOKIES}

For the cookies:
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 Tbsp. vanilla (yes, that's one tablespoon)
4 c. all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2/3 c. milk 
Straight pretzels, broken

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together eggs, sugar, shortening, butter and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add half the dry mixture to wet mixture and mix.  Add 1/3 c. milk and mix. Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix.  Add the final 1/3 c. milk and mix until incorporated.  Cover mixing bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to chill for at least an hour in the fridge.

Roll dough into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2" apart.  Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 to 9 minutes.  Don't overbake!  Soon after removing cookies from oven, while they are still warm, insert a broken straight pretzel (the size of an apple stem) into the top of each.  Allow to cool on the sheets for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.  Store in an airtight container until ready to frost.

For Frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
4 tsp. Cherry Jell-o mix (dry, straight from the packet)
A few splashes of milk, added until creamy
Red gel food coloring

Green candy for leaves (I used Airheads)
Gummy Worms

Cream together butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and Jell-o mix.  Add milk, 1 Tbsp. at a time, until the consistency is nice and creamy, but not runny.  Add food coloring gel and continue to cream together until desired color is reached.  I like the gel because it has a greater color concentration and doesn't make the frosting runny.

Frost cookies, then add candy leaves and gummy worms cut in half.  I smashed the Airheads in my hand until they were thinner, then placed them on a plate and with a sharp, small knife, cut out the shape of leaves.

I get giddy over all the bright colors of back to school supplies, don't you?  I can't wait to stock up on pretty, yellow No. 2 pencils, sharp crayons and clean notebooks.  How about you?

I'm also getting anxious to eat these Apple Cookies again.  They are scrumptious!  They'd be a perfect gift for teachers, all packaged up in a cellophane bag and tied with some baker's twine.

Happy Back to School!  I hope it goes smoothly for you and your kiddos!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Grilled Peaches & Cream Cake

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FireUpTheGrill #CollectiveBias

This gorgeous summer dessert, piled three layers high with homemade yellow cake, a cool and creamy, pudding-infused frosting, grilled in-season peaches, and chopped pecans, is sure to wow!  I mean, seriously, it's out-of-this-world beautiful!  Just wait 'til you taste it!
I can't get enough of the summertime foods!  We've used our outdoor grill to the max over the past few hot months!  One thing I've never used the grill for, though, next to our Grilled Pineapple (if that counts), is for a dessert!  It'd just never crossed my mind.  I typically associate the grill with burgers, hotdogs, steaks, and such.  But the other day I had a lightbulb moment and thought, why not heat up that sucker and throw on some peaches?  

Well, it turns out peaches were made to be grilled!  The product is a warm and soft, uber sweet delicacy that tastes even more like candy!  I could pop these fruit slices in my mouth all day and never tire!
I grew up on a small "farm" of sorts with lots of peach trees!  I could not wait for July/August to hit for those puppies to reach their peak ripeness.  I'd take multiple breaks throughout the day from my playtime outside to run over and pick a fresh, juicy one and enjoy it, fuzzy skin and all! Oh, those were the days.

I'm determined to plant peach trees at our new home when we move in just a few weeks.  I'd be perfectly content living off fresh fruit and eating nothing else, that is, if there were a little chocolate in the mix too.  :)  
I love incorporating peaches into my desserts throughout the sweltering hot months.  You may remember my Dutch Peach Pie Bars from last year and of course the Layered Peach Crumb Delight that just begs you to dig in.

So this time, I decided to take a shot at a layered cake with peaches fresh off the grill!  Boy, it did not disappoint.  I will say the homemade cake is a slightly fussy version, just because of the more involved instructions/methods of mixing it up, but please don't let that turn you away!  Once baked, this cake comes together in a hurry!  And it's SO worth every minute of prep time!  Oooh la la!
We looked forward to today's layered delight after a grilled steak dinner.  You could say we were well fed that evening. :)

Here's how to put the cake together:
Besides three tiers of baked yellow cake rounds, you'll need some Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding and Pie Filling, some Cool Whip, Planters Pecans, and at least four fresh peaches.  
I grabbed the items on my last trip to Walmart.  I'm loving the delicious, colorful variety of fresh fruits available right now!

{GRILLED PEACHES & CREAM CAKE}

Cake:
Makes 3  9" round layers

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 egg yolks (keep the whites)
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup shortening
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp. Milk

Sift together flour, salt and baking powder.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream shortening by itself until soft, then add sugar and vanilla gradually.  Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add alternately by fourths the flour and milk.  Last, whip egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.  Fold egg whites into batter using no more than 60 strokes.  Pour batter equally into three 9" round cake pans that have been greased and floured.  Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes, or just until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for 10-20 minutes, then carefully remove cakes to cool on a rack.

Frosting:
1 pkg. (3.4 oz) Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding
1 cup milk
1 container (8 oz.) Cool Whip

Prepare pudding by whisking dry packet with 1 cup cold milk.  Allow to set in the refrigerator.  Fold in Cool Whip.

4-5 Fresh, Ripe Peaches, plus a little canola oil for grilling
1 cup Planters Pecans, chopped

How to grill peaches:
Cut peaches in half, remove the pit, brush cut side with a little canola oil and place cut side down on a medium heat grill.  Grill for 7-8 minutes with space in between.

Assemble the cake by placing one cake round on a plate and spreading with 1/3 of the frosting.  I chose not to frost the sides, but if you'd like to, just double the frosting recipe.  Slice peaches and place 1/3 of them on top of the frosting.  I kept the skins on, but you are welcome to remove them.  Repeat layers for the additional two layers, topping with the chopped pecans.  Keep cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

I love that the cake itself is not overly sweet, and is perfectly matched with the nicely-sweet frosting, succulent peaches, and salty pecans on top.  It's perfection!
Well, what are you waiting for?  Grab a fork and dig right in!

I hope you love this decadent, deluxe cake!  We sure did!  This is one that you'll want to invite friends and neighbors over for, because it feeds an army!

If summertime means enjoying this cake, I'm all for it sticking around for a long while, even if I have to endure the heat! :)

For more wonderful recipe ideas, be sure to check out this free digital recipe book from Kraft!  And you can find even more great recipe ideas at Kraft.com!  I'd love to hear which is your favorite in the comments section below!

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Origami Butterflies Kids Craft

Are you ready to see possibly the easiest folded paper kids craft ever? We made these Origami Butterflies the other day during our summer afternoon creative time and they are so fun (and adorable, I might add)!

I've found that with my kiddos, crafts need to be simple and relatively quick!  If there are too many steps or the tasks are too difficult to accomplish, it's impossible to keep their attention.  I'm sure most kids are no different. The result also has to be something that they can really be proud of, and, in my son's case, something that can be made to fly.  :)  This project fit the bill!

If you follow me on Instagram you've probably seen that I promised lots of kids craft ideas throughout the summer, and I'm delivering!  I've said before that my kids and I love keeping busy creating beautiful things at our house.  I'm so glad to be hopefully passing on my love of all things crafty to my kids.  They seem to really enjoy our projects and many times, they even come up with the original ideas themselves, which makes me one proud mama, as you can probably imagine. :)

Today's idea came from the Family Fun Magazine from many years past and we modified it a bit because we didn't have Origami paper.

{SUPPLIES}

Construction paper in various colors
Ruler
Pencil or pen for marking
Elmer's Glue
Crayons or markers
Googly eyes 

Measure and cut a square out of your construction paper that's 6" x 6".
Fold the piece in half so it forms a triangle.
Now fold it in half again, make sure it's creased, then unfold the second triangle.
Fold each side so it crosses the center crease at a right angle.  Crease, then unfold.
You'll be left with your original triangle, except with added crease marks.
Decorate the butterfly by drawing and filling in a body down the center, then designs on the "wings".   
Glue on some googly eyes on the top middle.
Cut two thin and slightly long strips of coordinating colored construction paper (we just used scraps) for the antennae. 
Then, I just used my finger to curl the piece by rolling the top portion by hand.  Squeeze the bottom part together so you can tape it flat to the back of the butterfly.  Do the same for the other antennae piece.

That's it!  Aren't these fun and cute?  We think so!

My son had to immediately go test it to make sure it could fly, and he approved. :)

Happy crafting with kids!

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Looking for more folded paper craft ideas?  Be sure to check out:

Love Boats

The World's Best Paper Airplane

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Nacho Boats Snack

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BackYourSnack #CollectiveBias

When those afternoon munchies hit, these Buffalo Chicken Nacho Boats are a delicious way to satisfy that growling stomach and tide you over until dinner!  A crispy tortilla shell encasing the mother load of yumminess inside...nacho cheese sauce, Farm Rich Chicken Buffalo Bites, bits of corn and black beans with a touch of cilantro.  Oh, yes!

And I can't wait to tell you all about a fun recipe contest where you could win lots of cash, so stay tuned for that at the end of this post!
I'm fully aware of how fast a snack needs to come together when starvation is imminent.  :)  I'm not a patient person when my internal fuel gauge is running on empty, so snacks at my house are quick and simple!  But I also have to make them count, i.e. they need to be yummy or I'm going to want a do-over, which in turn means I'll end up eating more than I should.  
Thus, I'm completely drawn to satisfying, handheld delights like today's nacho boats, and if they also capture my kids' interest and taste buds...bonus!!   Especially with these being the last few weeks of summer break (whimper, whimper) I'm loading up on after school snack ideas that will have my kiddos literally jumping off that big yellow bus and booking it for home, because that's where I like them to be.  :) 
Now make sure you're firmly on your seat, because you just might be blown away by the mind-boggling ease of this recipe!   It's so simple, it should be criminal!  And yet, these little chicken nacho boats are SO impressive-looking! Jaws will drop at the sight of them.  :)
You'll need a box of Farm Rich Boneless Buffalo Style Chicken Bites, and some fresh toppings like tomatoes and cilantro, along with some canned or fresh corn and black beans.
I grabbed everything at Walmart during my last trip.  The chicken bites were in the frozen snacks and appetizers aisle.

{BUFFALO CHICKEN NACHO BOATS}
Makes at least 1 1/2 dozen

1 box (17 oz.) Farm Rich Buffalo Style Boneless Chicken Bites
1 can corn, drained (15 oz.), or the same amount of fresh corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz.)
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 can nacho cheese sauce (15 oz.)
1 bunch Cilantro, for garnish
1 package (21 oz.) flour tortillas

To throw these puppies together, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and bake your Farm Rich Buffalo Style Chicken Bites on a cookie sheet for 6 minutes.  In the meantime, grab a large-mouthed mug or large circle cookie cutter (mine was about 4" in diameter) and use it to cut or as a guide to tear tortilla circles that will fit nicely into a regular muffin tin.  Be sure to coat your muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray first.  

Push each tortilla circle into the muffin mold and place a spoonful of nacho cheese/queso sauce in the bottom.  Pull your chicken bites out and toss them with the thawed buffalo sauce packet.  Place one chicken bite in the center of each tortilla boat, then top with black beans and corn.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with diced tomatoes and a few sprigs of cilantro.

See?  I told you it was easy!  And you won't believe how much flavor these nacho boats pack!  Oh, they are scrumptious!  Now, that's my kind of snack!  I hope you love these too!

And now I'm just itching to tell you about the #FarmRich recipe #contest I mentioned earlier!  Between 8/1 and 8/23 you can enter your snack hack that incorporates at least one Farm Rich product and one Walmart fresh item.  The winner will receive $10,000!  

So get your recipe ready, then head to the Back Your Snack contest submission page (which will be live on 8/1) to enter!  Judging criteria will be focused on the quality of the recipe and use of required ingredients, not quality of imagery submitted.

 Go HERE for a list of stores where you can find the upcoming demos of the contest finalists on 9/19- 20 and on 10/10-11.  

Best of luck to you!


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What are your ideas for the ultimate snack hack using Farm Rich products?  I'd love to hear in the comments section below!

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