Saturday, February 28, 2015

Inspiration for the Week

Bacon, Ham and Potato Chowder

2 cups diced potatoes
1 onion, chopped fine
3 carrot,s chopped fine
6 Tbsp butter
2 cups chicken broth
5 Tbsp flour
1 quart half and half
2 cups frozen corn
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1 cup chopped ham
5 pieces of bacon, cooked and crumbled

In a large pot, put the potatoes and chicken broth.  Cook potatoes until just tender on medium high heat.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter and saute the onions and carrots.  Turn off heat and mix in the flour.  Add this to the potato pot when potatoes are ready.

Add in the half and half, corn and spices.  

Stir often so it doesn't burn, cooking on medium heat. When the  soup bubbles, add the bacon and ham.  

Nice with some crusty bread or crackers.  This will warm you up on a cold day.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

St. Patrick's Day LUCKY BANNER

Our March banner welcomes in a wee bit o' the luck of the Irish! 
You'll need: 

One package 1/2” double fold bias tape 
3 pieces green cardstock (8 1/2 x 11 size), per banner
3 different green scrapbook papers per banner
10 pieces of  11inch ribbon
sewing machine, Elmer's glue, scissors

You will have enough bias tape to make 2 banners, so make one for yourself and one for a "lucky" friend!  There are 2 letters per page when printing, so you can print it all in one type of scrapbook paper (using 3 papers all the same design) or use a variety and print off two sets, each page a different paper design.  This will give you enough letters for 2 banners (use 6 different papers and print twice). 
 Print off the letter flags on the scrapbook paper. 

Cut out the letter flags along the lines.  
Cut card stock in half so pieces are 8 1/2 x 5 1/2. 
 Glue small rectangle on large, matching top edges.

Measure 12" in on bias tape and insert 1st rectangle, back stitch and sew down the middle of bias tape.  Leave about a 1/2” space in between rectangles and sew them all in. 


 Tie 11" pieces of  ribbon on each side of banner.  I used 5 on each side.  
On the first banner, I  used various green ribbons, some with sparkle, some shamrock and green tulle.  This second banner has green and gold tulle, sparkle gold, linen brown and lace.  

Sweet and Sour Plus After School Smoothie

"Fine." Do you ever get this answer when asking your kids, "How was your day?" Or, "Nothing." This is a common answer to, "What did you do today?" To help understand my kids better and what's going on in their lives, I started an after school tradition called Sweet and Sour. Years ago I heard about Sweet and Sour and knew it was a solution to my children's one word answers. After school, my children have to tell me one good thing about their day (the sweet) and one bad thing about their day (the sour). So, our conversation goes something like this, "What was your 'sweet' today?" and "Tell me about your 'sour.'" This tradition has really helped me learn more about them and their days. Sometimes we play Sweet and Sour over an after school snack. Here's the recipe for our favorite smoothie.

2 cups of orange juice or mango juice or really any kind of juice you have
1 cup milk
1/2 cup low fat plain yogurt
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 hand full of fresh spinach 

Blend all ingredients and enjoy! 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Terrariums bring the outdoors in and add beauty to any indoor space.  As our winter lingers on up north, we brought our itch to garden into our home.   Fun for you and your kids! 

 Here is what you will need:

Potting soil ( find at Lowes or Home Depot type store)
Any Tropical. Succulent, or indoor plant (find at Lowes / Home Depot type store) 
Small pebble rock or lava rock (find at Lowes or any pet store in the aquarium section)
Charcoal bits or Carbon (buy at any pet store in their aquarium section)
Sand (find at craft stores to Home Depot type store)_
Glass Container (any kind from mason jar to a dramatic vase, 
make sure it is large enough to enclose your plants)
Rocks and wood etc. 

Step 1:

Clean out your glass container.  Add your small rocks to that bottom, about a 1/2 inch layer to 1 inch if you like the look and have space in your container.  These are decorative but also help in filtering.  

Step 2:

Add a think layer of your charcoal / carbon.  Just enough to easily coat the rocks thoroughly.  This layer is essential as the carbon helps to prevent mold or mildew from developing.  It helps to filter and keep your soil clean and dry.

Step 3:

This step does help to filter the water, but is mostly decorative. You could skip this step but the sand does add interest to your Terrarium and beauty.  Add your layer of sand in varying amounts to create movement in your container.  There are lots of colors you could try- craft store usually carry many different colors that you could use to match your home decor.

I chose to use tan and white sand.

Step 4:

Add your soil.  You will want a generous layer here for your plants, probably about 2-3 inches.  Use a good soil with some nutrients in it.  Make sure that you do not fill your container completely, you will want your plants below the top!  

Step 5:

Add your plants- make sure to get different colors, sizes, types to add dimension and beauty.  You can also add rocks or wood by the plants as well.  

Terrariums need a little sun and a little water and are forgiving!    I made one for our home and my daughter made one for her room-easy and fun.  Happy gardening!

Flavored Popcorn

This is a fun treat that is great for just about anything- birthday treat, teacher gift,  holiday snack, sports game treat, etc.   I used it for a party where we had 5 different flavors and guests could go around with their bag and scoop in each flavor.  Fun!  Whatever color you have with a theme, you can make up this popcorn to coordinate!  It is simple to make and you can use just about any flavor Jello has.   

8 Cups popped popcorn
1/4 Cup (half a stick) Butter
3 Tbsp. Light Corn Syrup
1/2 Cup Light B rown Sugar
1 Pkg. (4 oz. serving size) Jello Gelatin (I used Cherry above)
Food Coloring

Preheat oven to 300 and line your baking pan.   Pop up your popcorn and set aside in a large bowl.  Place butter and syrup in a small saucepan.  Cook on low heat until butter is melted.  Add sugar and gelatin and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved.  Bring to boil on medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes more.  Mix in food coloring to make the color brighter.   Toss over popcorn and stir and coat well.  Spread on pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Cool on paper sacks and enjoy!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Cute as a Button" Baby Shower

A good friend recently had a baby shower for a much anticipated baby.  (We can't wait to meet this little "peanut" and become his or her new "aunties".)  The guest of honor's sister planned out the party and since she was coming from out of town, solicited a little help.  One friend hosted at her beautifully remodeled home, several brought food, the sister brought the games and other friends decorated.  The decor girls found some cute ideas on Pinterest for the theme and I got to help with some of the decor items they needed.  Since the gender of the baby is a surprise, they went with burlap, yellow, grey and white colors. 
Cute mini chalk boards, listed what was available to do at the different tables. 
What a great idea to have your guests write their address on envelopes for the shower honoree's thank you cards! 

 {Burlap runners}-- sprinkled with buttons and  {BIG buttons}-- in the shower colors. 

I loved the twisted crepe paper on the wall.  The burlap banner was found at Hobby Lobby and pre-made, so you just had to stencil the letters on.  

Game stations were set up around the room. 

 This fun game listed things that the future "mom and dad" had done when they were kids.  You had to Guess Who? did each one.

 I love the cup cake stand.

Great cookie party favors for each guest.  Just a sugar cookie-- when you remove from the oven and still warm, lightly "stamp" with the end of a cup for the big circle and tip of a straw for button holes. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fabric Wall Decorations

Last year we moved into a new home. With the upcoming move upon us, I thought this would be the perfect time to update my daughter's room. She had definitely out grown her previous princess stage. As we started plotting out her new room, I found cute wall hangings one day while shopping. They were really simple. Just an unframed canvas covered with a cute pattern. I was just about to buy three when it hit me, "I could make this!" So, I went home and told my girl about our next project. Like me, she was very excited. We could personalize the hangings with her own style and design. We got to work.

Here's what you need: 

Canvas (We bought three 12 x 12 canvases at our local craft store. You can buy really cheap ones because you're just going to be covering them up anyways.) 

Fabric (Your choice! This was a little hard for me. I had to keep reminding myself that this is for my daughter's room and the fabric choices were hers.)

Staple Gun 

Picture Hooks to Hang your Canvases

First, iron your fabric. You don't want any wrinkles. Next, wrap your fabric around the canvas. You'll want to make the fabric tight. This is a two man job. One of you hold the fabric while the other one staples your fabric onto the back around the canvas edges.

Once the fabric is stapled around the canvas, you may need to trim the excess fabric so you don't have material hanging down. Then, hammer on your picture frame hooks. Finally, hang up your work of art!

My daughter has her three canvases centered above her bed. I think these wall hangings would make great baby gifts. There are so many cute baby prints out there that you could make a cute little hanging for someone's nursery.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Banana Bread

This is my favorite Banana Bread recipe, adapted from the {Lion House Recipes} cookbook. 
You'll need:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 over ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

In a mixer, cream your butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, milk and lemon juice and mix.  Next, mix in the mashed bananas.

Add in the baking powder, soda and salt.  Finally, sift in your flour.  Important to sift in the flour.  It gives you a fluffier bread.  I use this great wire colander to sift flour.  Now mix the batter until all blended. 

Spray your baking pan with an oil cooking spray. Pour in your batter.  (I had a lot of ripe bananas, so I'm doubling the recipe.  Normally, you'll get one loaf.  If you have the bananas, make that second loaf and freeze it for another week!) 

Bake at 350° for about an hour.  Insert a toothpick to make sure center is cooked. Tops will be nicely browned.  

Let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes.  Then take out of pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.  Delicious!  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Make BIG Buttons and How to Antique Wood

A friend recently had a baby shower with the theme "Cute as a Button".  I love this idea since I'm kind of a closet collector of buttons.  The girls in charge of decorations asked if I had any buttons they could use, (umm, ya just a few).  They also needed some BIG buttons to decorate with.  So easy to make.  Go to your local craft store and buy some routed edged{wood plaques}.  The biggest size they had was about 6" diameter and were only $1.99 each.  

Drill 4 holes in the center, just like a button. Paint your wood pieces in the colors you want with acrylic craft paint.  After it dries, sand the edges with sandpaper or an electric sander.  

Sand as much as you like.  You can leave them like this or antique them.  I sanded a little more on the sides and top with my electric sander.  There are some different supplies you can use to antique.  To give a piece a rich stain look, I use Minwax wood stain.  Early American is my go to color.  Stir your stain.  Wear protective gloves (if it gets on your hands, the stain will be tacky and takes awhile to wear off).  Use an old rag and rub the stain over the wood.  If it is too dark, wipe off with another cloth or too light, add another layer.  

Let your wood dry over night outside.  It will be smelly for a day or two.  
I love the way these turned out!

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