Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
After painting, you must let your paint dry for at least 24 hours in order for it to really work like a chalkboard. This might be a difficult step for you, or well me, because I was so anxious to give it a try and see if it really worked. But trust this simple girl on this one, you really have to let it dry! Once the trays have dried, find your old school chalk and print a special message to be displayed.Chalk it up to another simple project for all you simple girls!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Weekday breakfasts and lunches don't always get such forethought, though. To keep some variety and fun there, we've discovered an easy way you may already know about.
Six compartments for an assortment of colorful sampling! It really is a nice, little helper. I don't have to have large quantities of any one food. It helps me regulate the treats or extras like chips or sweets (you can't eat that part of the tin unless you have room left over after filling yourself full of the good stuff). It's great for transporting from here to there. And I can even use it to teach about the food groups and a balanced diet... six spots for whole grains, fruits, veggies, dairy, protein, and other necessities.
You know, like chocolate.
The girls also dig some cookie cutter action.
It's the little things. Don't you love when that's the case?
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Our small group from church makes the fourth meeting of the month a potluck. We try to mix it up with different themes like appetizers, desserts, dips, and this month... breakfast for dinner! Hot waffle irons ready to go with chocolate chips, whipped cream, toasted walnuts, homemade strawberry syrup, and butter as toppings. A toasty skillet waiting on people to make their choices from the omelet bar. Quiches and a big bowl of fruit. Steaming cider and hot chocolate on the stove.
Autumn meets potluck, if you ask me. A match made in heaven.
But it gets better. This month we used our potluck to surprise an amazing family in our group with a baby shower. They just recently added a sweet, little boy adopted from the Ukraine and now they await the birth of Mabry Ruth. It was a casual evening with a few simple touches to show them how excited we are for this newest arrival.
I wrote a short poem to bring together the shower's elements:
Like the first smell of breakfast,
Laundry fresh off the line-
A new baby is warm and wonderful,
Delicious and divine!
A piece of glass leftover from the bottom of a tray and this fun tool highlighted the words:
Above the serving area I hung a small clothesline made from raffia I had on hand and the verse, "... His mercies are new every morning..." to go with the breakfast-for-dinner theme. Some tiny, girly clothes hung on either end.
Along the serving area were candles, this page from Max Lucado's Just in Case You Ever Wonder book on a recipe stand, and the precious paper products (plates and cups picked up for two bucks at our fabulous, local Dollar Mart!)
For dessert (as if the waffles weren't enough!) we had cheesecake and cherry pie because those are the parents-to-be's favorite sweet things.
The centerpiece on that table was a vase that looks like a pair of girl's overalls, given to us when I had our firstborn, with the last remaining buds from the yard. Everyone brought a few practical baby items to add to a big basket, which we presented to them just before we called it a night.
While the rain dared to continue pouring outside, we got to relish in the crazy sounds of kids running all over the house and the promise of yet another life coming soon.
Simple, but sweet.
Another match made in heaven, if you ask me. :)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
She comes from a long line of these baker-inspired people. In fact, the first time the love of my life came to a family holiday celebration he may have decided to propose somewhere between the banana pudding, eclair cake, and blueberry yum-yum.
And though I love to cook, sometimes I have felt a little baker-challenged. Thankfully a few years back my mom and I created a family cookbook in honor of my grandmother going to Heaven. The dessert section has come in mighty handy, as you can imagine, with recipes to help me take my sweet time while learning.
At the fall BBQ, I served one such baby-step kind of recipe that is sure to please a crowd (like 30ish people!) and your pocketbook. Every time I do this easy little thing, people want the recipe.
Start with this:
2 boxes yellow cake mix, 1 small box of instant vanilla pudding, 2 jars of mandarin oranges (1 for each cake mix), 1 can of crushed pineapple, 1 regular size tub of Cool Whip, 8 eggs (4 for each cake mix), and 1 cup of applesauce (1/2 cup for each cake mix)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease and flour (or use nonstick spray) two- 9x13 pans.
3. Prepare each box of cake mix ONLY using this recipe: 1 box of mix, 1 jar of mandarin oranges WITH juice, 4 eggs, and 1/2 cup of applesauce. Then pour into your pans.
4. Bake one cake at a time according to the package, typically between 25-30 minutes.
5. While cakes are baking, make the topping. Prepare the pudding as directed on the package in a large bowl. Add the Cool Whip. This is enough to top both cakes.
6. Let the cakes cool completely, then add your topping.
7. One of my mom's many secrets... put the cakes in the freezer until about 1.5 hours before you want to serve them. Gives the perfect consistency and flavor!
8. Serve in cutie-pie containers found at Kroger for 50-cents (optional). Please do add a sprinkling of the crushed pineapple, whatever you decide.
That's it... tropical enough for a summer dessert and orangey-yellow enough to give fall a run for its cobblers.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
A while back, I saw this box offered by Martha Stewart Crafts and while I loved the idea, I wasn't in love with having to make them (nor was in love with the crazy price tag on these items at the local craft and organizing stores!). So, in true "Simple Girl" fashion, I decided to make do with what I had. And came up with this....
Oh the beauty of all those ribbons so nicely color coordinated, looking too nice to touch but so nice that I want to create something magnificent! People, this makes my heart happy! Here's how I did it:
Those are actually wooden CD boxes (I got mine at Michael's a long time ago) that I've painted black. I filled them up with ribbon, stacked them and there ya go! These fit every size ribbon spool I've ever bought and the ribbon threads so easily through the wide slot at the front. Changing the ribbon spools is super easy too (remove the boxes stacked above the empty spool, replace the ribbon, re-stack the boxes).
Here's a view from the top of one of the boxes:
Seriously, the ribbon's easy to find, easy to use and looks super cute stored this way, don't you think?
In case you're in the middle of your own ribbon storage dilemma, here are some other creative solutions that won't cost a lot of money:
The Coolest Mom on the Block
Little Birdie Secrets
Lu Bird Baby
Friday, September 18, 2009
A simple tablescape set the mood. That and the faint sound of bluegrass music coming from our little CD player moved outdoors.
Our trusty mason jars served as the stemware. Tucked inside each one was a napkin. The napkins coordinated with the plates and fit perfectly with the colors; they also fit perfectly in my budget at $.90 a package during a Michael's clearance. Inside the napkin was a fork and a straw because, don't you agree, everything tastes better through a fun straw?
The centerpieces were simple and easy... more mason jars filled with corn kernels, a tealight sitting pretty in the center. My favorite part was when it got dark and we were still chatting by the soft flow.
And you remember the salsa, right? Four bowls of chips and eight tiny tins lined the table for easy snacking.
Grins, good conversation, and burning oneself on a tiki torch in a mad rush to finish it all... worth it every time!
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Yep, those are Parmesan cheese shakers. I found these at my local dollar store and thought they would be perfect for a flower arrangement. The thing I love about them is the lid. With the premade holes, you can make a perfect and full arrangement without having to think about it too hard.
So, I trekked up to the garden to see what was still in bloom and this is what I found!
After doing a little trimming, well ok a lot of trimming, what I came up with were some great arrangements to add a little splash of color to my house. This took me about 5 minutes to create and the time was well worth it! I love seeing the fresh flowers displayed around the house.
So get creative and come up with some new ideas for your flower arranging. Can't wait to see what you come up with!
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Start with a cutting board like this, all finely chopped.
For each recipe I estimate about 7-8 small to medium sized tomatoes, 1-2 medium sized onions, 1-2 green chili peppers (the more seeds you leave in, the spicier), 1-2 medium to large green peppers, and a couple ears of boiled corn with the kernels cut right off the cobs.
Not sure how many of you see salsa as a comfort food?
Did that help? :)
Salsa and chips are just one of my go-tos, especially when it's all fresh and fragrant like this. To the cutting board mixture above add a couple tablespoons lime juice and a can or two of black beans (drained and gently rinsed). Finish it off with garlic, salt, pepper, and chopped cilantro to taste. Grab your favorite tortilla chips and dip away. You can always freeze some for later, should you be one of those self-controlled types.
And now, a quote:
"Sometimes the cold would be oh, so dreary were it not for soup season." ~Unknown
Soup season, indeed! One of my favorite parts of fall and winter. To help us transition over, here's a light little number. To your cutting board goodies add 4-5 cups of beef/vegetable/chicken broth, a can of black beans (drained and gently rinsed), about a pound of ground beef or shredded chicken breasts/store bought rotisserie (optional), a clove or so of garlic, LOTS of spices to taste (salt, pepper, oregano, Italian blend, all purpose seasoning, cumin, etc.), and a few drizzles of extra virgin olive oil. This is enough for about eight servings... at least two nights of dinners for us!
1. Heat a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the garlic in the bottom of a stock pot.
2. Saute your onion and chili peppers there over medium high heat until soft.
3. Add your tomatoes, corn, beans, and spices. Let cook over medium heat for about five minutes.
4. Add your broth and meat. For a lighter soup, skip the meat. To determine which broth to use, coordinate with your choice. I did a beef soup since my two year kindly dropped, I mean opened, a box of beef broth for us. Let the whole concoction simmer for about twenty minutes or so.
5. Top each bowl full with grated Parmesan cheese, sour cream, and crunched up tortilla chips or just eat as is.
It bears repeating. Mmm...
Enjoy-- before the gettin's gone!