Sunday, February 28, 2010

Winner Dinner #1

We have this idea in our family called winner dinners. These dinners have to meet some pretty stringent standards. It has to be fast and easy, healthy, all 4 of us have to like it, and the kids have to like it enough to eat it quickly. If it meets all those requirements, it receives the prestigious title of a "Winner Dinner."

So I thought I'd share the Winner Dinner we had last night.

Winner Dinner #1
(Fix the potatoes first so they can be baking while the chicken is cooking.)

Easy Parmesan Garlic Chicken
½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 env. Italian Salad Dressing Mix
6 boneless, skinless Chicken Breast Halves
½ tsp Garlic Powder
Olive Oil
Heat olive oil in skillet. Mix garlic powder and salad dressing mix. Moisten chicken with water, coat with garlic and dressing mix. Place in hot skillet. Cook chicken on medium high (almost high) until cooked through, turning chicken to cook both sides. Turn heat down to medium. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over chicken and heat till cheese is melted. Serves 6.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
-1. 2 pounds fingerling potatoes
-1. 5-8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
-1. 3 tablespoons olive oil
-1. 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
-1. 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
-1. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat oven to 450°. Grease a large shallow baking dish with olive oil or spray with olive oil spray.
Scrub potatoes and cut large ones in half. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper. Toss potatoes with the garlic and oil mixture. Arrange the coated potatoes in a single layer in the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Serves 4.

Spinach and Tomato Salad.
Fresh Baby spinach and fresh tomatoes mixed together. Serve with ranch dressing for the kids!

Jello Popcorn

I am surprised how many people I have come across lately who have never tasted--never even heard of--jello popcorn. It is a fun cooking idea for a party snack or to make into balls and give away to friends for Christmas or Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day or whenever. Here is the recipe:

Jello Popcorn

  • 1 package jello (whatever flavor you like--or whatever color matches the holiday you are celebrating)
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 bags microwave popcorn (or about 5 to 6 quarts popped popcorn if you don't do microwave popcorn)

In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar, jello and corn syrup. Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously until sugar is dissolved. Pour immediately over popped popcorn and stir until well coated. Store in a covered container if you just want eat it around the house or form into balls while syrup is still hot and pliable, then wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper. Now they are ready to give away.



Photobucket

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lil' Grey Sweater-Makeover

This little girls sweater was $3.74. My little girl needed a longer sweater than what she had, but finding one was a trick. I saw that there were many people "fixing" sweaters to meet their needs. So I thought it was a great idea and did it too. It is an easy craft idea too. I took the sweater and sewed two zig-zag stitches down the middle, next to each other. I then cut between the stitches. I added a button and small string to hold it closed. Also, I rolled the sleeve cuff up about three inches.

....... New knee length sweater for my little beauty girl! As she was getting out of the car to go to school, I heard one of the teachers comment to her, "Cute sweater". That did my heart good!


-Tara
more pics

Doll for baby

Want an easy homemade doll idea? I made this little one for Christmas this year. In fact I made two of them. One for each of our littlest ones.


This is how the sock doll looks before it's dressed and without hair.


This is a picture I found online of the very pattern I used. It's vintage and my sister Judi gave it to me. Thank you Judi! Of course I changed it a bit.

Sewing up this little dollie was fun!
This image kind of explains part of the process.


C.jpg


Here's our little Natelle with her's. (Huggy, huggy)


Here we have a beautiful, happy little girl.


"Yup, this is my baby..."


And Lucy flashes her "Miss America" smile.


And she laughs!
Having a "heart to heart!"


To see more pictures go here.
Joanna

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Travel Size Garden

I thought I'd left my need for small container garden ideas back at college. Suddenly, I'm finding the need to rediscover them. I've lived in 7 different places in the last 4 years and I'm tired of leaving behind my veggies! So this season, my garden is in small, movable pots.

My larger fruits and vegetables are in the larger pots of course (like melon, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes). These larger pots are at least one and 1/2 feet in diameter and a foot or 2 deep. I planted strawberries and peppers in the medium pots (about 1 foot in diameter), and in the smaller containers (6-9 inches in diameter) are flower seeds to draw in the bees and helpful critters when the time comes for pollination.

I'm also trying a new plant - Nasturtium, pronounced nah-STUR-shum. It's an edible flower with a bit of a spice to it. The gardener at the nursery suggested I try them. He says his favorite way to use it is on a fresh garden salad. It looks beautiful and adds great flavor supposedly. Sounded like an adventurous thing to try, so here I go. :)

I planted my seeds not quite 2 weeks ago and the squash and 2 cucumbers plants have already sprouted! Yay!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ivory Sweater Make-over.

Do you see this lovely ivory sweater I bought for $5.00 on clearance? I got an extra big one so I could alter it and have fabric to make little embellishments.
(I washed it first...don't want any shrinkage.)


So this is what I did: took up the sides, and cut out little circles for flowers out of the pieces that were cut off.

Then serged the edges of the flowers. (Not sure that was necessary.)


Then I kind of pinched them in the middle and sewed them, creating little flowers.


Next they were sewn together on a small strip of fabric creating a little corsage.


And there you have it. My ivory sweater make-over.
I think I'll wear it tomorrow...(smile)

Joanna

If You Chance To Meet A Frown...

Being the mom of all girls can be exciting. Especially the drama. So, to keep my sanity I have a rule that I strictly abide by during stressful moments. "Only ONE girl gets to cry at a time. If the baby is crying, then it isn't your turn. When she is done, you may have a turn to cry."

Amazingly this idea works. You have to say it with a straight face and really mean it, though. And when they are all done crying, then it's my turn. But usually by the time everyone is done, we have all forgotten why we wanted to cry and end up laughing instead.

More fun with mirrors.

I think I'm addicted to mirrors and their possibilities. I love finding old things and turning them into something else.

This mirror is solid. And brown just wasn't working for me. But, we always see potential around here. Especially in thrift stores.

Normally, I would just remove the mirror like I did with the turquoise mirror a few months ago. But this one was a beast to remove. So, I just covered it with newspaper and taped it off, making sure a bit of the tape went between the gap (which was very, very small) between the mirror and the frame so no paint would leak through onto the mirror. Because that just means the paint that leaks will get reflected, too! So, I very carefully made sure that tape was under that gap to prevent this. I also primed it with spray primer, but that wasn't getting into the ornate carvings. So, I brushed it with the black paint so I could mash the paint into the grooves. My brush didn't thank me for it, but it got the paint to cover it. It took two coats, even over the primer. Lots of nooks and crannies.

We mounted it with two heavy duty wall anchors that will hold 200 lbs. Yeah, a little much, but I just wanted to make sure it wasn't going to pull off the wall. The mirror only weights 27 lbs. But, better safe than sorry. Screws are cheap security.

Here's my entry way now.

Coat Rack

I just finished a coat rack. I had some old glass door knobs and cool wrapping paper that were the inspiration for this.




For more pictures, and some of the how-to, click here.

Have a great day!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Valentines paper hearts


I know Valentine's is over, but I wanted to share these. These paper hearts are made from patterns off of Martha Stewart Paper heart bon bons. But, of course, I changed them a bit. The three large hearts can hold candy and fun prizes, (careful, they tip!) and the smaller hearts are just ornamental. But they both use the same pattern.


The small hearts are neat because they are 3D and kind of like a mobile. Instead of punching the hole through just two folds as it says to do in the pattern, punch the hole in all four folds so it's through the center. You'll get the idea. Just fun.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Save the Paper!

I don't know about you, but for me organizing my wrapping paper, gift bags and tissue paper is a royal pain. I keep a lot on hand because, well, there's always a birthday coming up - and if I shop the sales, I don't have to pay top dollar for a beautiful wrapping job.

Anyway, the wrapping stuff always gets in the way and usually ends up trampled, torn and eventually goes the way of all garbage. Sad story. But now that I keep them organized, I don't have to worry about it.

Let's start with gift bags. They're the easiest. Simply get the biggest bag and stuff all the littler bags into it. And if your bag isn't big enough to fit all of them in, just fit in the biggest stuff (or whatever you can) and grab another bag for the rest.

Now what to do with the tissue paper? Same as the bags - fold up the paper and put it in the larger gift bag.

I do this for my ribbons too. Any beautiful scrap ribbons that are big enough to reuse are rolled up, paper-clipped, and put in a bag with my other spools of curling ribbon.

Organizing my wrapping paper rolls was the most difficult project for me. I tried all kinds of ideas. I put them in a gift bag, but the bag tore. I put them in a large box, but that kept falling over. I tried a tall plastic clothes hamper. That worked, but then I couldn't see at a glance which roll I wanted.

Finally, I found my solution - the magazine storage box. Magazine holders are made to hold heavy stacks of paper, so they work perfectly. The cheap dollar store boxes are fine although a bit more prone to tipping when packed all the way full. I haven't had any trouble with the heavier and higher quality magaine holders.

The nice thing about this little organization idea is that it not only keeps my gift wrap neat and tidy, but it also looks good - so I'm not embarrassed when I store them where people can see them. :)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Sweetheart Ball

Just wanted to share a couple of pictures of the Sweetheart Ball. You can see why I've been so busy lately.

A picture of the refreshment table. Love how the light reflects off the glass and silver.

To see more pictures of the Ball go here.

Joanna

Friday, February 12, 2010

Door 1 or Door 2?

For singing time last week I played "Door 1 or Door 2?" The song was "He Sent His Son" (CS 34). So, I would read (sing) the first line of the song which was a question and then a child got to come up and pick either door 1 or door 2 to find the answer. The right answer was (of course) the next line of the song, but the wrong answer was something silly that made all the children laugh. I would let them pick the other door if they happened to pick the wrong door the first time. Then we sang the song from the beginning to that point. We continued this through the entire song. You could do this with any song you need to teach. Say (or sing) one line of the song and have the child pick a door to find the next line. I got this idea from the Crazy Chorister.

I didn't have the same materials that she had, but I had a box. So, I cut doors then glued construction paper to it. I then drew on the numbers with a fushia permanent marker. (I should have used red and then we could have used it for "Our Primary Colors.")
I cut a huge hole in the back so I could place new answers behind the doors quickly. I wrote answers on 3x5 cards.
This was such a fun idea. The kids had a great time picking the doors. I laughed as much as the children did!



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Motivating Kids to Write Creatively

Here's an idea for motivating your kids to engage in creative writing:

Give your children each a piece of paper and a pencil and ask them to write down the first 20 words they can think of. They can be any words, but encourage them to reach beyond words with little character such as "the," "and," "be," etc. If they are having a hard time thinking of words, then point to a few objects in the room or suggest they think about today's weather, but encourage them to come up with the majority of the words on their own.

Once they have created their word list, the next part of the game is to write a short story using all 20 words in order. If you have more than one child participating in the activity, you can make things even more interesting by having them switch lists before asking them to write their stories. If you have only one child doing the exercise, you might consider making a list of your own while they make theirs and writing a story too.

Then, if your children enjoy showing off their accomplishments (like mine do), take turns reading the stories aloud.

If your children are motivated by time limits, then you can add more excitement to the activity by giving them just 2 or 3 minutes to write down their words and only ten or fifteen minutes to make up their story.

This little activity makes creative writing seem more like a game than a chore and helps kids see how fun it can be.

Here is an example:

1. red 11. snow
2. bowl 12. clouds
3. ice cream 13. sky
4. chocolate 14. airplane
5. shoes 15. bird
6. feet 16. wind
7. sidewalk 17. frisbee
8. cold 18. hair
9. hot 19. eyes
10. grass 20. brush

Margo loved red. She loved it more than having a bowl of ice cream with chocolate chunks and caramel drizzle, which was saying a lot because that was her favorite treat. She loved red more than she loved her shiny black tap shoes that made her feet sound so happy, which was also saying a lot because those were her favorite shoes. The only thing that could have made those two things, the ice cream and tap shoes, even better than the color red was if they were red themselves. One day as Margo was skipping down the sidewalk heading home from school, she got to thinking about how much she loved the color red and wondered what it would be like if everything around her was red. She got a cold tingling down her spine at such a wonderful, magical thought. She imagined red hot cocoa in a bright red mug, short red grass peeking out from underneath a clump of melting red snow, fluffy red clouds in a warm red sky. At this thought, she looked up at the sky and saw an airplane in the distance. It was a deep cherry red with white stripes. Margo thought the color of the plane stood out so beautifully against the cheerful blue sky that she wished she was a bird so she could fly up right up next to it and admire the colors up close. But as she was watching the plane, a gust of wind blew up suddenly and a bright red frisbee flew right past her face, partially blocking her view of the plane. A moment later, a tall boy with a head of fire-red hair came bounding up and stopped right in front of her, once again partially blocking her view of the plane as he bent to scoop up the plastic disk. He paused to apologize for nearly hitting her with the frisbee. As he stood there talking to her, holding his red frisbee up by his red hair, standing in front of the red airplane, Margo noticed that all the reds seemed to kind of blend in with each other and none of them seemed to stand out from anything else when they were all clumped together like that. Margo rubbed her eyes as the boy walked away. (She always rubbed her eyes when she was thinking hard and working out profound truths in her head.) The airplane she had been admiring had not looked so magnificent to her when it was clumped with the other two red objects. She was confused. Margo looked back up at the sky. The airplane was nearly out of eye shot now, but to her delight, it once again looked beautiful to her now that its cherry red was standing out against the blue sky. Margo suddenly realized that what made the plane so lovely to her was the way it contrasted with the other colors around it. Margo rubbed her eyes again as she began to brush an old idea from her head. Now she would view the world differently and enjoy all the colors around her because now she knew that red by itself was not nearly so sweet as red with so many other colors around to compliment it and make it stand out.Photobucket

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Quick garden food

How many times have we gone to give our flowers or veggies a little food. We spend more time in preparation than actually feeding.
Here is a quick way I feed my plants.


Sprinkle the plant food (blue) over the soil and leaves of the plants being fed.





As you can see by the pictures, just sprinkle, do not over load the ground with food.







Then water by sprinkling. Make sure all of the food (blue) is wet, so it is not blue anymore. After the that, water normally.






I have been doing this for years and it works great every time.
This year I have decided go with the container garden idea. But it works just as well for traditional gardens.

--Tara