Home Maid Simple: May 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012

PenFactory {Review}

For awhile now I've been wanting to put together some "business" cards (I'm not really a business, but I talk to so many people about my blog!) to hand out when I start talking about Home Maid Simple. I have yet to get those business cards, but I found another company to help me in promoting and "branding" myself.
logo
PenFactory.com has many items that can be personalized for any occasion.  At first the name threw me off. I figured it was just a bunch of pens, but it's NOT!  
Although they do have many pens, and many different styles of pens, they also sell key chains, mugs, office supplies and bags!  And everything can be personalized.
One of the things I loved about the PenFactory is that the more you buy, the lower the price per item gets.
The Razor Pastel Pen


Take these cool pastel pens for example. If you buy 100-249 they cost $.31 each. But if you purchase 250-499 they only cost $.26 each.  And the price just keeps going down!

Now as great as pens are, I really didn't need, nor want 100. If I was an actual business with people coming in and needing a writing utensil, they'd be great. I decided to check out their other products though.  I started looking at the mugs, but really I like my hospital jug, so I didn't need that. Then I found it.
Tote Bags!  I personally feel you can never have enough tote bags. They work great for home organization, day trip diaper bags, book bags and more.  I loved how simple the ordering process was for the personalization. You just follow the prompts for what you want written, add the color, and upload a picture.
My only concern was after I ordered, I wasn't sure if the picture I uploaded was going to turn out. I would love if they added a "preview" feature so you can have a better idea of what your product will look like. What if my picture was too big, or grainy, or I clicked the wrong picture during upload? 
Maybe I just worry too much, but a preview feature would make the site that much better.
 Do you like my new bags?

I decided to put a little twist on my tag line. Instead my "my" I put in "your", because with these bags I get to help you organize your home!  Watch next week, because I'll be giving away 2 of these!!

Keep up to date with all things from the PenFactory


*I received this product free for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Teacher Gift


Princess V had her last day of preschool last week. Come fall I'm going to have a kindergartner and preschooler! Kids grow up too fast sometimes.
I missed Teacher Appreciation week, but I wanted to get Princess V's teachers a gift. They are wonderful teachers, and they really did a lot to help Princess V learn socially and educationally.  I'm hoping we're still around this fall so that Princess C can have the same great teachers.

There's never enough we can do for our kids teachers. They strive hard to plan lessons, and help our kids. A little gift at the end of the year doesn't even scratch the appreciation they deserve, but it does put a smile on a teachers face.  Using Pinterest I found a lot of clever gift ideas. So using those I came up with these cute buckets.


I bought the metal buckets and sticky notes from Target's deal section.  The chackboard labels I got from Finger Snapper.  We filled the buckets with mints and then wrote on the top sticky note
"Thanks for your Commit - "Mint" to teaching".  Princess V loved making these and giving them to her teachers.

Did you make your kids teachers a gift?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Struggling with messy bedrooms?

Last year I came across the Positive Parenting Solutions website.  They had a live webinar at the perfect time for Mark and I to watch together. We both felt like we came away with more ideas on how to parent our kids. It also helped us really agree on a parenting style.  It's not that we often disagree, but there's those points in every marriage where you do disagree. After the webinar, I decided to sign up for the Positive Parenting emails. I love these emails as I continue to learn the best way to parent my kids.

Recently our biggest struggle has been getting the kids to clean their rooms.  The following article came from Positive Parenting Solutions email last week. I was so excited for these tips, and hope they can help you too.

Clean Bedrooms—Not Just in Your Dreams
We all know the scene:  a few carefully sung words by Mary Poppins, and the Banks’ children’s dolls and clothes march into the toy chest and fold themselves neatly into the closet. 

Parents and kids alike wish it were real.  But no amount of singing or snapping is going to make that nightmare of a bedroom clean itself.  And despite your best efforts, nagging isn’t working either.
While you might not have Mary Poppins’ super powers, you can employ strategies that will help your kids clear their clutter and rediscover that they do have a floor under that mess. Try these “practical magic” tips that will get real results:

Give the mess a rest. What’s the worst that would happen if your kids never cleaned their rooms? Toys would get lost or broken, clothes would stay stained—and that’s no fun. To let these natural consequences do the dirty work for you, first warn your kids about the pitfalls of a messy room and assure them you have complete confidence in their ability to keep things tidy on their own. Then, say nothing when nature runs its course. Refuse to rescue your kids by replacing a missing toy or running an emergency load of laundry, and soon enough, the rooms will get straightened and a lesson will be learned.

Wake your kids’ inner room-cleaner with an alarm they’ll notice. The next time dirty socks and building blocks start intermixing, resist the need to nag. Instead, do a little planning so you can phrase it this way: “When your room is clean, then you may go play with your friends.” The “sugar” in your sentence can be any regularly occurring privilege, from enjoying TV time to eating dinner—but avoid offering rewards or bribes, as you’ll continually have to up the ante. Also, allow plenty of time for a thorough cleaning to take place—depending on the size of the mess, that’s probably at least 20 minutes before a favorite show or dinnertime.

Swallow your need to control. Nothing short of magic can control another person—but you can control your own reaction. Keep the yelling at bay by deciding what you will do whenever the mess gets out of control. At a calm time (so, not while you’re wading through their rooms), inform your kids that they’re old enough to keep their rooms clean. Then say something like, “If your room isn’t clean by dinner every Saturday, I will clean it with a cardboard box. Any toys and clothes not put away will be stored in the basement for a week.” Then, follow through. If you find your kids aren’t missing their favorite toy or coolest jeans, it’s time for a trip to Goodwill.

Put these techniques to work, and you and your kids will be well on your way to enjoying clean bedrooms—no song and dance routine required.

*I have permission to reprint this article on Home Maid Simple. I was not compensated for posting it. I just felt these tips were useful and my readers could benefit from them.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 5/28


Yesterday we had Lincoln's baby blessing.  Lots of family came up for the event, so we had a luncheon at our house afterwards.  We had a wonderful spread of foods.  Mom brought a deli tray, rolls, chips and pasta salad. I put together a fruit salad, strawberry lemonade and a veggie platter. To go with the veggies I mixed up some of Wildtree's Creamy Ranch dip mix. Oh it was so good!! Even after the luncheon I couldn't stop snacking on it with the veggies and the chips!  I apparently cut up too many veggies though, but that's alright, because now I have a fresh and ready snack for the rest of the week!

Tuesday - cake pan Pizza's (recipe on friday!)
Wednesday - Mark is on his own. We're headed to my sister in laws for a bachelorette party I'm throwing her. 
Thursday - Sister in Law's Wedding.
Friday - Hamburger Helper

Growing Up and Doing It Yourself - Chore Cards for kids {Giveaway}

Chores. We all have them. We all need to do them. We all try to avoid them (you know you do!).  Part of living in a home with others is learning to share the space so everyone is comfortable.  The home is just the beginning though. I personally feel what we learn in the home, will reflect in our relationships with our coworkers, community, and extended family.
Being a parent and needing to teach the basic essentials of living with others can be a daunting task sometimes.  We may resort to anger, yelling, tears, bribes and eventually just doing things ourselves because we're the only ones who can do it right. All we manage to do with those choices is deprive our children of learning important life skills.  Having chores helps teach kids about responsibility. 

For awhile now we've been doing a Daddy Dollars/Mommy Market rewards system.  It was working for awhile. The kids never knew when they would get Daddy Dollars, but they started asking to get them, and would only do things if they got a Daddy Dollar out of it.  I didn't want them learning a sense of entitlement, and only working to get something. I want them to learn that doing chores and helping others out can bring them joy and others. The whole feel good for doing something good aspect.

So we've been trying out these "Hands Around the House" by 3R Cards - a product made by moms for moms.  What I really like about the Hands Around the House is that the idea behind it is to teach our kids how to live in a community.  The first community we join, and I feel is the most important is our family.  We just learn so much in the home that will shape who we are and the choices we make throughout our life.

The "Hands Around the House" by 3R Cards is a chore system based on 3 R's
  • Responsibility
  • Respect
  • Reward
Although I'm not a big fan of using rewards as a means to get my kids to do something, I do believe in setting goals to work towards. I like to use the rewards to set goals the kids can work towards, or as a family we can work towards.  For example, this weekend we were blessing Baby Prince, which meant a lot of family coming over to our house. So yesterday we pulled out the 3R chore cards and got to work cleaning the house. We were all working towards the same goal, a house that could welcome company and make the time with them enjoyable. 

The Princesses have never been so excited about chores as they are using the 3R cards! To start getting into the routine, we are only doing 1 chore a day so far, but Saturday the Princesses decided they wanted to do as many as they could. So I let them pick a chore, complete it, and then pick another one. I tell you what, our home has never looked good so fast, with all of us still happy at the end of it.  Out of all the chore cards that come in the Hands Around the House set, I'd have to say Making Lunch has been the favorite. They get to spend a little time in the kitchen with mom, and they get that immediate gratification of food when they're done.
The least favorite, or most difficult to accomplish has been Clean up the Toys. It feels almost too broad, and since all the kids make the toy mess, it almost seems - dare I say it - unfair. When that chore is picked I usually still have to help accomplish it, but I no longer have to fight for it to be done.

We have yet to use the Rewards cards that came in the set, but that's because our Mommy Market is still stocked and working pretty well as an extra treat for doing  the work.


~Giveaway~
Are you ready for a giveaway?
Mompact is sponsoring the following Growing u and Doing it Yourself giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
*I received this review opportunity as part of MomPact.com. All opinions are my own.

Friday, May 25, 2012

May After - The Yard


Well we did it, we got sod laid down in our backyard.  It's so much nicer and easier to take the kids out back, or even just open the door and let them run.  I no longer have to worry that they'll come in with dirt all over their heads, because let's face it throwing dirt in the air is the funnest (hint of sarcasm here).

Unfortunately you can tell we did this ourselves and on a limited budget.  We tried to flatten the ground as best we could, but it's still pretty bumpy.  It's also dieing in some spots, so we'll be headed out for some grass feed this weekend to try and save it.  I think we'll also need to readjust our sprinklers to make sure they reach this spot.

On a happier note, Mark bought me flowers and tomato plants for mothers day. and they are looking good!
The tomatos are starting to flower now too! I'm pretty excited for another good tomato year (so far they're my most successful plant)

The kids love the flowers too!

Foodie Friday - Banana Bread

Hosted by
and
One of my favorite comfort foods is Banana Bread. I have fond memories of coming home from school to a freshly baked loaf, slicing off a warm piece and letting some butter melt on it before eating. This recipe is my mom's and one I will always enjoy making and passing on to my kids.
Ingredients
1 cup Shortening
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
5 ripe Bananas - you can substitute 1 cup of applesauce for any lack of bananas
3 1/2 cups flour
not quite 2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Directions
Cream together the shortening, sugar, eggs, and bananas.  In a seperate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, and combine until well mixed. Seperate into two loaf pans.
Bake at 300 F for 75 minutes.
Features from last week -
Last week seeing Just Winging It post a recipe for Banana bread inspired me to share my mom's recipe. The big catch? Just Winging It bakes hers in a bread machine!
Since we're talking Banana Bread, I think this Banana Bread Smoothie from The Veggie Nook looks wonderfully healthy!
Baking with Blondie shared her Blackberry and Mint Brownie Parfait. I know, nothing to do with banana bread, but I couldn't resist sharing how yummy this looks.
If you've been featured go ahead and grab the button!
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Blast - Masters of the Veil + $100 Giveaway!



 
Life can't get much better for Sam Lock. Popular, good-looking, and with a future as a professional football player. every guy at Stanton High School wishes he were Sam. That is, until his championship football game, when Sam accidentally links with an ancient source of energy known as the Veil and reveals his potential to become a powerful sorcerer. Sam is whisked off to Atlas Crown, a community of sorcerers who utilize the Veil as a part of everyday life. Once there, he trains beside a mute boy who speaks through music, an eternal sage who's the eyes and ears of the Veil, and a beautiful girl who's pretty sure Sam's an idiot. As it becomes clear Sam's meant for power magic-the most feared and misunderstood form of sorcery-people beyond Atlas Crown learn of his dangerous potential. An exiled group of power sorcerers are eager to recruit Sam, believing that he is destined to help them achieve their long-held goal. If they succeed, they could bring about the downfall of not only Atlas Crown. but all humankind.


 
About the Author, Daniel A. Cohen
Daniel A. Cohen was just your average business student. Microeconomics, finance, marketing… you name it, he had to do a PowerPoint presentation on it. One dark and stormy night, he was bitten by the radioactive realization that memorizing business jargon could possibly be the most boring activity known to man.
After gaining eagle-eye vision, abs that could grate cheese, and a talent for imagining things (including his cheese-grating abs), he wrote his first novel and began his epic battle against the formidable business jargon. He continues to fight the good fight by playing saxophone and writing YA fantasy, forever hoping his Veil trilogy will help inspire others to join his cause.



Praise for Masters of the Veil

"I absolutely adored Masters of the Veil. It is a unique and creative read in today's sometimes overwhelming YA market. Daniel is taking JK Rowling's lead and putting a whole new twist on fantasy."
~Kristin @ Better Read Than Dead

"I loved this book. I could list all the reasons, but there is one piece of praise I think sums up the book best. My son grabbed it as soon as I was finished reading it and hasn't put it down since. Dan Cohen has a winner with this series."
~Author Michelle Pickett

"Masters of the Veil is a fun, fresh fantasy that delivers an intriguing story and fantastic world-building, and is a great first volume in what is sure to be an excellent trilogy."
~Aeicha @ Word Spelunking
Links!
BLOG
GOODREADS
FACEBOOK
AMAZON LINK
BN LINK
TWITTER
Giveaway Details
Author Daniel Cohen is offering one lucky person a $100 Amazon.com Gift Card.
Last day to enter is May 31st

Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Review - The Last Seer and The Tomb of Enoch

  The Last Seer and The Tomb of Enoch
by Ashland Menshouse

About the Book - Do you believe?
Can a ghost haunt more than your home? Can a Sasquatch track more than footprints?
Aubrey Taylor's quaint and cozy life in the subdued, Appalachian town of Lake Julian had never been exceptional. Shouldered by his lifelong friends, Buzz Reiselstein and Rodriqa Auerbach, he quietly endured the puerile punishments of a persistent pack of pesky bullies that included the most-feared kid in school, Magnos Strumgarten, and his own obnoxiously, well-accomplished brother, Gaetan. Comfortable in his humdrum niche of the absolutely average, Aubrey never pushed back.
Until...fate dug a little too deep...and the unseen darkness of unspoken places rattled his mediocrity.
When spurious specters and elusive mountain men battle for a tomb of Watchers, buried in ages past, only those who choose to look beyond the surface feel the grip of the ancients' revenge. Unusual disappearances, a colorful cadre of insightful townsfolk and a whirlwind of blunders and mishaps exposes the struggling forces that transform Aubrey and his friends into more than spectators amidst the oldest war of all.
Prepare yourself to see the unseen as you've never seen it before. (info from goodreads)

About the Author - Ashland Menshouse received a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky. He obtained a doctoral degree from the University of Kentucky and completed post-doctoral studies at Emory University. He currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, where he spends most of his time working with ill and injured children. (info from goodreads)

My Thoughts - This book has a disclosure, and I laughed out loud! I even had to read it to Mark, and later my mom and sister.  Not many books have disclosures, and none have ever been as funny as this one. 
It took a bit to get into the book though. I felt at many points the story line wandered. However, once the plot picked up, I found it an enjoyable story. The story line still wandered sometimes, and I was left hanging until it got back to that particular even. The main characters seem well rounded and very believable to me, but the extra/side/minor characters are harder for me to feel are real. The cops act childish, and the grownups seem to have their priorities all out of whack.
One more point to be cautious about, is if you scare easy, this book is probably not for you. It doesn't seem that scary, but I have a fairly over active imagination in the middle of the night. There were a couple nights I freaked myself out over ghosts (that I know don't exist) and Big Foot.  It really didn't help that the Big Foot steals some rings from one of the main characters, and the whole time I was reading this book, my wedding rings were missing. I started wondering when Big Foot snuck off with my rings (no worries, they showed up finally. Today, just before writing this review....) 

Overall I would recommend this book to middle schoolers looking for an adventure.

Wordless Wednesday - Flowers

For Mothers Day, Mark bought me some flowers to plant! I love the pop of color our walkway now has.

 At church they gave all the moms a long stemmed Rose and some chocolate turtles. Isn't it beautiful? Over a week, and it still looks pretty!
 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guest Post - DeJunk Your Household

De-Junk Your Household
So you're finally deciding to take stock of your household objects and see just what you need to keep around and what to get rid of? This can be a quite daunting task, but don't fret! By using a few simple tips you can make the process of evaluating your household objects and deciding what to do with them quick and painless.

The first step is to take an inventory of what you've actually got. Go through your house (yes, even the boxes stacked in the corner of your basement) and make a note of every item you find that you could conceivably get rid of. If the idea of living without the item even crosses your mind, write it down; you will make the final decisions later.

Once you've got your list, it's time for the hard part. Go down the list and take a good hard look at each entry. How old is the item, and how often has it been used? If it's something that you haven't even thought about for five years, you're looking at a great opportunity to simplify your life by getting rid of it. If the object has significant sentimental value and you can't even bear to imagine losing it, go ahead and keep it around. Be careful not to use this excuse lightly, though.

If the item in question is something that is only used occasionally such as seasonal decorations or clothing, consider placing it in storage. This way you remove it as clutter from your household while still having full access to it when the appropriate time comes.

Now that you've got a trimmed down list of what you're considering getting rid of, it's time to decide just what to do with all of it. For items such as old clothing, bedding and toys, donating to a local or national charity is always an attractive option; the items will be put to good use, and you can usually write the donation off on your taxes. Items that have retained value such as furniture and electronics, do some research to find out a fair price and put it up for sale. There's no better feeling than reducing clutter and earning money while doing it! And if it's truly trash, just throw it out; you won't miss it.

With these simple tips, it's easy to reduce clutter in your house and simplify your life. You may even make a few extra bucks, to boot!

Casey Haslem is a writer and paints in her spare time. She writes often about storage and organization. If you’re in need of help with storage, contact Sam Dimas self storage units or Brooklyn Extra Space Storage.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Suffocate by SR Johannes

Suffocate
by SR Johannes

Just released today is the new YA Novelette by SR Johannes. A combination of Dystopic and Science Fiction in 15000 words.
I've never been much of a Science Fiction fan, but when you throw in the dystopic genre, I get interested.
For those wondering, other books included in the dystopic genre are The Giver by Lois Lowry, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Two of my favorite all time reads!
Here's a little about Suffocate:
For centuries, the world outside the Biome has been unlivable. Today, marks the first time anyone will attempt to leave the suffocating ecosphere. Eria is not worried because her scientist father has successfully tested the new Bio-Suit many times. It's a celebratory day until something goes horribly wrong. In the midst of tragedy, Eria uncovers a deep conspiracy that affects the very air she breathes. If those responsible find out what she knows, they won't stop hunting her until she takes her last breath.

Suffocate is the first in a trilogy. The 2nd book Choke is set to be released in the Fall of 2012, while the 3rd, Exhale will be released in the Winter of 2013
You can purchase Suffocate from amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Menu Plan Monday


Monday - Black Bean Vegetable Soup and Piping Hot Biscuits
Tuesday - Chicken Pillows with Parmesan Sauce
Wednesday - Tortellini with peas and Parmesan
Thursday - Light Crock Pot Chowder
Friday - Grilled Balsamic Honey Mustard Chicken (mediteranean meal)
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Family Luncheon. I'll be serving cold cuts, a vegetable tray, Fresh Fuit Salad, and Strawberry Lemonade

Friday, May 18, 2012

De-lurk!

I got this from the amazing Dear Crissy this morning.  She is trying to hear more from her readers, and I would really like the same!  I want to hear from you, to know more about you, and be able to connect with you on your blogs. So leave a comment. Come out of hiding and tell me about you!


So come out come out where ever you are!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Foodie Friday - Maple Syrup

Hosted by
and
I love maple syrup!  One of the biggest things I miss from living in New England is the abundance of fresh maple syrup.  Sure recently I've seen pure maple syrup sold in stores, but it's still not the same to me. 
Even though growing up in near so many maple syrup farms, my mom frequently made her own "imitation" maple syrup.  To me her recipe is the next best thing to the real stuff.  I don't ever buy syrup from the store because this recipe is so simple and satisfying.
Ingredients
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp maple flavoring (or pure maple extract)
Directions
Add the sugar and water to a saucepan. Over medium heat, dissolve the sugar.  Bring to a slow boil and add the vanilla and maple extracts.  Simmer until it's all mixed in.  Serve over your favorite breakfast.
Now I recently heard that if you let the syrup cool with a lid on the pan, it will keep the leftovers from crystallizing. I have yet to try this, so I can't say if it works or not.  When reheating I just place the syrup in the microwave for about 30 seconds at a time until it's redissolved.
 I've also seen many recipes that use brown sugar. Again I've never tried that, but I'm sure it would give it more of a rich flavoring. I'll let you know when  I try it.
 Featuring from last weeks linky -

Black Bean Vegetable Soup from The Souliscious Life.   I'm always looking for new ways to use beans, and this looks just like something my family would eat.

Strawberry Chicken Salad and Homemade Poppy Seed Dressing from The Kitchen is my Playground.  Oh my, is that heaven on a plate? I love strawberries, always have. I'm finding I like them even better mixed in something.  Plus that dressing just looks yummy!


Soft Bubble Cheesy Garlic Muffins from I Thee Cook.  Really? Does it need saying? Bread, cheese and garlic together. I'm not sure bread could get any better. It was on my menu this week but I've yet to make it. It will be had with tonight's dinner though!

Edible Books from Hungry Happenings.  My book loving self could not pass up featuring these beauties.  I may make them for Princess V's teachers with a fun little note. I wish I was going to my sisters birthday  this Saturday though, because these would fit right in! She's hosting an all day Read-A-Thon!  I just had to pass on the recipe to her.

If you've been featured go ahead and grab the button!
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Spotlight on Tim and Angi's Blog

Tim And Angi's Blog Awhile ago I feature my bloggy friend Eschelle from Mumfection. Today I'm pleased to tell you more about another Bloggy friend Angi!  We've connected through Blogelina's facebook buddy groups, and I've really enjoyed getting to know her. 

Keep reading to get a fun look at Angi, and then visit Tim and Angi's blog for some great content!

About Tim and Angi's Blog
Tim And Angi's Blog is written by a mom and dad team. They live in a small country town in southern New Mexico with their two boys and two dogs. When Angi's not blogging, she designs websites and print material. Tim works from home as a technical support agent. If that's not enough to keep them busy, they also homeschool their boys.

1) If you were to re-live one moment in your life up to this point, what moment would that be?
I'm not sure if I'd want to re-live any particular moment as I've had many great moments. If I had to narrow it down, I'm sure it would be one of the firsts; first solo birthday party (my brother and I shared a party for many many years), first fight with a friend, first crush, first kiss, first baby kicks inside my tummy, first steps of the boys, or any one of a million other firsts in my life.

2) Funniest poop story... I know you have them.
I don't actually have one. I've never walked around unknowingly with poop on my clothes. I've never seen poop just peeking out the top of a diaper. I've never sat in a restaurant with a little guy who's grunting out a special surprise. Or maybe my mommy brain ate those stories.

3) What's your favorite blog post you've written? link please!
Corn Dogs, Beef Jerky And a Sprinkle of Rain ( http://wp.me/pQxgf-F2 ) After writing about our trip to the county fair, I was surprised that a title came so easily. I had the post as private for a long time but recently removed the private status because it's such a great post. Since it was private, there are no images breaking up the text. Maybe I should add some? Hmm...

4) What are your hobbies?
I usually try to turn my hobbies into a job so I can do what I enjoy. That's why I design websites and print material. It's why I blog. It's why I read. It's why we homeschool.

5) What household chore do you absolutely hate doing?
All of them. LOL. I would love to have a maid that just did it all but if I had to narrow it down to one, I'd say keeping the floors clean.

6) What story does your family always tell about you?
When I lifted a boy off the ground by his t-shirt. I was a 12 and this 9 year old boy was picking on my friend's 7 year old brother. I told the 9 year old that he'd better straighten up or go home. He decided to grab my arm and twisted it as far around as my arm would go. I grabbed his shirt with that same arm, lifted him off the ground, and calmly told him that if I ever saw within 4 houses of mine, he would regret it. Thankfully, he heeded my warning and stayed away. I did pay for the incident with a very sore arm for a couple days but it was worth it to keep a bully away.

Thanks Angi for being my online bloggy friend!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tuesday Tip from My Memories Suite

Are you a digital scrapbooker? I'm really just getting into it. I've always been a hands on person, so the digital scrapbooking sometimes feels overwhelming to me. Thankfully, My Memories Suite (the software I use) has tons of great video tutorials to help answer my many questions and problems I run into. 
Apparently you can use any online scrapbooking material with the My Memories Suite Software. It doesn't have to come from My Memories.  I think it's pretty cool when companies make their software so universal like this.  The question then boils down to, how?  How do you use the other scrapbook pages, embelishments, etc with My Memories? 
Easy! Watch the video and then have fun finding the best digital scrapbook deals to use!

Did you know My Memories also has a Design Club?  As a member of the club you get 5 kits a full month before they're available to anyone else on the My Memories site.  The membership is only $5.99 a month too. Seems like a good deal to me.
PLUS right now when you sign up for a membership you'll get the Sun-sational kit for free!  Cool beans.

If you haven't gotten into digital scrapbooking yet, but want to, I suggest checking out the My Memories Suite software. It's really easy to use, and the customer service people are pretty nice helping you figure everything out.
If you decide to buy the software, use this code to get $10 OFF
STMMMS37783

*This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. I only promote products I use and/or feel will benefit my readers. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Menu Plan Monday - 5/14


With summer approaching, many of my friends have been talking about their kids summer schedules.  They've planned something for each day, like "Masterpiece Monday" where they do art work with their kids. 
I started thinking about it, and decided I wanted to do something similar. My problem is I'm a very go with the flow kind of person. If I do schedule something, and then plans change I have a hard time ever scheduling anything again, because I don't want to dissappoint. 
So we're going to start off simple, and I'm only going to schedule one day - Mondays.  We're  calling it "Mondays in the Kitchen".  Since I don't plan on going anywhere on Mondays while we do laundry, I decided it will be perfect to spend in the kitchen with the kids. We'll do any prep work for our meals throughout the week, and bake goodies for the weeks snacks.  I ran the idea by Princess V last night and she was pretty excited for it.
Of course this means I'll have to change my grocery shopping day to Saturdays instead of Tuesdays, but that's ok, since Mark can either come with or keep half the kids at home with him.

This week we're preparing
Tuesday - Family dinner at my aunts
Thursday - Slow Cooker Italian Chicken with Noodles (repeat from last week)
Saturday - Leftovers
Sunday - Hamburger Helper

Desserts/Snacks

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Foodie Friday - Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

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I made it to the store ealier this week. It really has become a feat with 4 kids, all vying for a seat in the cart. I personally can't stand those huge car like carts, that are supposed to make it easier for the mom with lots of little ones, because they don't make it easier. I find with those carts my kids are fighting more, hanging heads out the little windows, can hide stuff in the cart without me seeing easier, not to mention they're harder to turn and feel like you're driving a semi down a dirt road.
Sorry I completely lost track here. Where was I? Oh yes, I ventured to the grocery store, with 3 of the 4 kids in tow. Upon entering the store, a great amazing deal stood out screaming at me.
Strawberries - $1.50 for a 2lb case. We love the berries in our house, so I was not going to pass up this deal. The first couple of days we were eating them in our yogurt, but I soon realized we were not eating them fast enough that way, so off to my Pinterest Food Board I went.  I knew I had pinned a strawberry freezer jam, and was hoping I could find it again.  In my search for that recipe however, I came across one I wanted to try even more!
Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate
 (original source of recipe plus many more recipes!)

Ingredients
6 cups whole strawberries, washed and hulled
4 cups lemon juice (I used the bottled stuff)
6 cups sugar

Directions
Using your preferred tool (food processor, blender, etc) puree the strawberries*.  Pour into a large saucepan, and add lemon juice and sugar. Heat over medium high heat until it reached 190 degrees F. (I'm no expert, and not sure why the temp is important, but I did it anyways. Even borrowed a food thermometer since I don't own one).  Remove from the heat.
Ladle the juice into canning jars (approximately 3 quarts, or 6-8 pints).  Wipe the rims with a wet cloth. Place sterile lids and rings on jar.  Water bath or steam can process for 15 minutes.
To reconstitute mix 1 part concentrate with 1 part water (or soda would probably be good too)

*I attempted to use my blender, but it wasn't doing much, so I used a potato masher and mushed my berries up real good. As a result I'm sure my lemonade will be a bit chunkier then if you use an appliance.

While we're talking about canning, I was pretty excited for this list of dishes to make with Home Canned Tomato Sauce from God's Growing Garden
And I'm pretty sure I'll be trying this BLT Bruschetta soon too from Joyful Homemaking


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Now have at it! Show us what's cooking in your kitchen! Any special Mothers Day treats?

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