December 25, 2013

I love watching the kids open gifts on Christmas Morning, but...

December 12, 2013

Marshmallow-less Krispie treats

So, I wanted a treat for my daughter (and ok, me too) and what's easier than Rice Krispie treats, right??  But I don't keep marshmallows in the house most of the time. So here's what I came up with instead. I used organic raw honey, and all natural peanut butter, but the regular stuff works great too. 

3/4 cup honey
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups Rice Krispies
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Combine honey and peanut butter in saucepan and heat just to boiling, be sure to stir constantly.
Remove from heat and add vanilla, then stir in Rice Krispies (and chocolate chips, if desired).
Let cool a little, so not to burn your hands, then form balls, only lightly pressing the ingredients together, and place mounds into small cupcake/candy liners, and let cool.

You can also press into a greased 9" x 12" pan, cool and cut into squares.

Still easy peasy like the traditional treats... but it's got a healthier twist on it with less refined sugar, and when you go the organic honey and all natural PB, it's even better!! And to take it a step further, use the gluten free brown Rice Krispies and you have a glutten free snack!! 

Enjoy :)

December 4, 2013

Calming bottle

This time of year, it seems like we remind the kids to be good every 10 seconds.   With the holidays coming, and some certain bearded dude coming around at the end of the month, the kids are so excited it's like their on a constant sugar high. And then again, they may be, with all the Christmas cooking being passed around. Anyway, if you feel like your little ones are a little extra bouncy-off-the-wallsy... try out this calming bottle. See if it may just give you 5 mins of peace even.

It's also known as a calming jar, but the thoughts of a glass jar scared me.  I envisioned water and sparkles EVERYWHERE.  So I modified the idea, and I see a few others also did, by using a plastic bottle instead.  General consensus on the internet seems to be that the brand SmartWater has the best bottle, although, be prepared, it's probably one of the more expensive ones out there. I mean, it's not break the bank expensive, I paid $2.50 ish for it... but I'm also one of those people who never buy bottled water, so when I find myself in a situation where I need too, I expect .99cents... or, maybe $1.50 if you want to gouge me. But, this is strictly just my opinion... no offence to any water sellers out there.

Anywho.. Here is my finished product,


Take the plastic water bottle and remove any labels. Squeeze about a 1/2 inch of gel glitter glue into the bottom of the bottle. Next pour in a small amount of fine glitter. I eyeballed it, but I'd say roughly 1-2 tablespoons worth.
Now, fill the bottle water, be sure to leave an inch of space at the top.  It's best to use hot water so the glue softens and mixes well into the water and doesn't clump. It will however dissolve eventually, so if you do get some clumping, no need to redo it.  So now, go ahead and put the cover on and give it a good shake.  It's best to let the water cool now, and NOT glue the top on yet.  The glitter will settle differently once it cools, and you may want to add more, just just give it a bit of time to cool.
Once it's cooled take the cover off and wipe away any moisture, then you can use a glue gun to seal
it shut.  Just use a little around the rim, then replace the cover right away and close tight.  Leave it for 5 mins, and then try to take it off.  It shouldn't budge. Then it's good to go for your little one.
Hopefully the next time they are getting a little out of hand, you can pass them this bottle and watching the soothing, velvety texture will distract them, and settle them down.


DIY Holiday Potpourri

Make your home smell like the Holidays any time! 

This is a safe an all natural potpourri recipe that will have your home smelling amazing in no time! Just add the ingredients with 4 cups of water into a sauce pan and simmer on the stove top.

* Make sure to keep adding more water to the ingredients as it evaporates. 
You can put it in an air tight container in the fridge between uses as well, should last a week or 2.

December 2, 2013

DIY Burlap Garland

If you've been anywhere near Pinterest lately, you'll find burlap crafts everywhere! I jumped right on that trendy bandwagon because 1) It's CHEAP, $2.97 per yard at my Wal-Mart. 2) It's easily adaptable to all 4 seasons of decorating or any home decor theme. And 3) I feel like a member of the popular crowd on Pinterest now because I made something with it.

This is a really easy crafty activity that even the kids can help with. Some stores have rolls of pre-cut Burlap which will make this an even faster afternoon project doesn't require a sewing machine. They look like this:

My local store didn't have any of these neatly packaged little rolls of goodness so I had to take the long way around to getting my burlap strips ready.

What you'll need:
Several Yards of Burlap ( I bought 6) or a couple rolls of the pre-cut garland
Fabric marker of some kind
Needle and matching Thread
Sewing machine (if you bought the burlap by the yard)
A friend with wine... I guess this is optional but it sure made it more fun!

How To:
The first thing I had to do was cut my trips of burlap. I wanted some thinner garland for my tree and some wider for various other places in my house, so we cut some 4" and some 6" strips. After the strips were cut we pulled a few of the outer threads so that there was a nice straight line to follow. You'll have some un-even threads protruding from the sides but don't worry, those will get trimmed! 
Sew a medium length and width zig-zag stitch all the way around your garland strips, using the last thread of the burlap as your guide. This will keep them from fraying and make it look much neater. Then trim any excess off so it's even all the way around.

Next grab a needle and thread it with a nice long length of thread. I used a big darning needle, it was easy to hold and the gaps in the fabric are plenty big to accommodate it, It's also safer for smaller hands because they're dull so if you have a child wanting to help this is the best step for that. Start at one end of your strip and pull the thread through and knot it to secure it to the end. Sew long even stitches in a 'S' pattern, gathering as you go, all the way to the other end.

How closely to gather your garland will be a matter of your personal taste. Here's an example of what the different sizes and gathers that I did before deciding on which I liked best.

Once you get to the other end and have your garland gathered the way you like it, knot off your thread securing that end in place and trim the extra thread. Now you've got Garland! 

Now go make 10 more strands of burlap garland and put it all over you house, just to make sure people know you're part of the trendy "I craft with burlap" club ;)

December 1, 2013

Porcupine Meatballs

This is a perfect meal when you are short on groceries, or failed to plan out supper. 
Kids and husband approved!! 
It's also gluten free!! 

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup uncooked white rice
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup water

Mix the ground beef, rice, 1/2 cup water, onion, salt, celery salt, garlic powder, and black pepper in a bowl. Roll the mixture into 12 meatballs.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the meatballs. Cook meatballs, turning occasionally, until evenly browned. Drain and discard any excess grease. Pour the tomato sauce, 1 cup water into the skillet; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until the meatballs are no longer pink in the center and the rice is tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in more water if the sauce becomes too dry.
This made 13 BIG meatballs, so if you want to make them smaller adjust cooking time.

Tip & Trick: How to soften rock hard brown sugar

It's holiday baking time! But what do you do when you bring out your bag of poorly sealed brown sugar and it's a solid as a cement block? We got ya covered! All you need is a damp paper towel and a microwave!

How To:
~Empty your brick of brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl.
~Cover sugar with a damp paper towel.
~Cover bowl with a lid or plate.
~Microwave on high for 30 seconds, then use a fork to break it apart and stir to crumble.
~Continue microwaving in 15 second increments after, until the clumps eventually turn into granules again.
~Store it in an airtight container this time. ;)