Reading nook fun

Our oldest daughter is severely dyslexic.  She’s struggled with reading for years and finally as she nears the end of 4th grade, she seems to be reading on level and actually enjoying books rather than dreading reading time.  I wanted to really nurture her newfound love of reading as well as that of her little sisters so I decided we needed a designated reading area.  I initially planned on a cute little teepee or something in the corner of the playroom with pillows and blankets (hint: hobby lobby is now carrying super cute teepees for $100 and you can use a coupon!) but our playroom looks over our living room and kitchen so it isn’t always the quietest of places.  Then it hit me!  The “secret” closet under the stairs.  The door is in the laundry room and it’s pretty quiet with the exception of the lull of the washer/dryer when it’s on.  We were using it as storage for our cleaning supplies and some boxes of Christmas decorations.  The girls and I got started on clearing it out and moving the boxes up to the attic.  We are so pleased with the way it turned out and it’s been used daily since.  Aside from the little book rack and a new rug, it cost me next to nothing as we used items we already had around the house.  

The only rules are to be quiet and have fun.  Everyone has to pick a quiet activity while in there, doesn’t necessarily have to be reading.  

   
 

The reading lounge seating is actually an old ottoman top that no longer matches my living room.  It’s padded so pretty comfy to sit on and the back is a rolled piece of foam for a bed we had laying around.  I had an extra set of queen size sheets that I used to cover  both items and I used a little duct tape to secure them to the bottom without having to actually cut or sew anything.  They’ve held up great so far!  We had the battery operated lanterns and pennant banner leftover from a party and I got the rug from garden ridge on clearance for under $20.  The cloth book rack is from Walmart.com.  It arrived in days and was inexpensive.  I used chalk pens to doodle a Dr. Suess quote on a chalkboard we already had and hung it for decor.  

  

I wanted some color on the walls but didn’t want to commit to paint so I was ecstatic to find the little circle decals on clearance for $4 at target.  

  
We filled the area with quiet activities like magnets and magnet boards, (an oil drip pan from the auto part store and cookie sheets from dollar tree), I-spy bottles we made a few years ago, and books.

  
We got the idea from Pinterest of course and the girls love them!  Super easy and fun project.  They’re made using voss water bottles, rice, and little trinkets from around the house.  We took photos of the items before putting them in the rice, printed them out, laminated, and numbered them and the bottles as a key.  They use dry erase markers to mark off the items as they find them.  

  
The girls aren’t allowed to have electronic devices upstairs because I like to be able to monitor anything with internet capability so we created an “iStation” with all our iPads, iPods, and innotabs.  We added headphones so that game and electronic stories didn’t disturb others enjoying the quiet space.  We had such a fun time creating this reading nook together and the girls love having a secret quiet hideaway to unwind and enjoy a good story.  Can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!  

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Memories…

pho·to·jour·nal·ism
ˌfōdōˈjərnəˌlizəm/
noun
the art or practice of communicating news by photographs

Okay, okay so photos of my kids and our life may not exactly be “news” but they do tell a story. I’m sure my friends on social media get sick and tired of me flooding their news feed with a bazillion photos of my kids, especially in the last few months. What can I say? My kids are cute and they’re always doing cute things. I’m proud of them, sue me! Sorry, not sorry. lol Imagine all the photos I take and DON’T post! There was a time not so long ago that I didn’t take my camera anywhere. It’s big, bulky, and heavy so if I was going to snap a photo, I relied on my trusty iPhone camera to capture the moment. Fine in a pinch for a quick snapshot but the problem with iPhone photos is that they are great for Instagram and other social media sites for quick posting but in reality, they are grainy and poor quality. Really how often do you print your iPhone photos? When my mother in law passed in August and we were searching for photos for the slideshow for her services, I didn’t have a single photo of her with my kids that wasn’t a grainy cell phone photo. I can’t get that time back. I will never have those moments back. Why didn’t I take more photos? Why didn’t I capture the way she liked to play baseball in the yard with the family or the way she liked to fish on the river? Why didn’t I capture her smile when she would throw her head back, slap her knee, and laugh? Or the way the kids would light up when she read Jingle to them at Christmas time. I would give anything to go back and have my camera to capture the little things. Looking through those old grainy cell phone photos made me realize the importance of carrying around that big bulky thing for 2 reasons.
1. Life is short. Those you love won’t be around forever and all you’ll be left with are those memories, those photos.
2. Kids, they aren’t kids forever. I recently made a comment to my Dad about how I couldn’t believe my baby girl was 3 already and he said, “how do you think I feel? My baby is 30 and has her own babies!” Woah. Really? It goes by that quickly? Yikes!

I’m going to blink one day and my babies will have babies of their own. There’s so much I want to remember about their childhood. Like what T looked like leading her horse to pasture by herself for the first time at her riding lesson last summer or the longhorn balloon hat she picked when we went to he Fort Worth Stockyards over spring break.
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or the pouty face A makes when she’s overly tired and not getting her way or the pure joy on her face when she’s at the park swinging or sliding.
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I want to remember forever P’s love for animals and how she just has a way with them or what she looked like sitting on the bench at soccer taking a break and waiting for coach to call her back in. Always with her shoe untied! lol
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So how do you know what to include in your photos? Ummm… well, EVERYTHING that means anything to put it simply. Or not so simply. Remember, there aren’t any rules to memory catching. Your subjects don’t always have to be posed, smiling, looking at you, or even facing forward for that matter! Some of my favorite photos are of the back of my children’s heads. Like this one of P & A fishing together last summer.
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Get up close and personal! Zoom in, catch the details even if you don’t get any faces in the shots. Last summer after my Mama in law’s funeral, we all spent a week at the family ranch together. The kids loved playing down in the meadow and by the creek skipping rocks and catching roly polys. They spent the week with dirty fingernails having the time of their lives with tiny bugs in their tiny hands.
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Pay attention to your surroundings. Over Spring Break, the girls and I hit up the zoo. While there, we rode the train to the wild west area. Normally, I would just snap a photo while I sat across the train from them but then I wouldn’t remember what the train looked like or what it was called. For this shot, I choose to snap the photo before I boarded the train while the other passengers were still loading. This way, I’ll always remember our ride on the yellow rose express. Because at one point, my grandkids will be flipping through a photo album and ask “Grandma, where were you? Why are you on a train? What color was it? What was it called?” Because that’s just the sort of thing kids ask. lol
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My final tip to you is to pay attention to your angle. I snapped these tonight at P’s soccer game while A was playing on one of the smaller goals behind the field. The one on the left was shot with me standing like normal over her and looking down. You see the grass and that she’s sort of swinging from something but you’re not real sure what it is or where she is. It doesn’t tell a story. For the one on the right all I did was squat down till I was at her level. You can tell just by glancing at it that it was taken at soccer fields and that she is more than likely swinging from a goal post.
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Remember these things when recording memories of your cuties even if all you have handy is your trusty iPhone. A well executed iPhone photo is better than no photo at all.

My absolute final tip to you is don’t always hide out behind the camera. Jump in front too! Have someone take a photo of you with your kids. Take a selfie, heck, photobomb them! You’re not getting any younger either people! I may need to take my own advice a little more here. I don’t know about you, but I love looking a photos of my mom and my grandmother from when she was younger. Checking out her goofy glasses or seeing the shifting fashion trends. So get out there and get in those frames mamas!

Happy snapping! ❤

After school snacktime

I don’t know about your kids, but when I pick my kids up from school, the very first words that come out of their mouths are usually “I’m hungry”! Sure sometimes they grab a yogurt or some sort of prepackaged snack from the pantry but if we have extra time and I haven’t had a dreadfully stressful day, we like to engage in a little snacktivity. Yeah, yeah, a snacktivity is a snack that doubles as a fun activity. Kills two birds with one stone! 😃 I’m going to share with you a few of our favorites.

There are a few things that you will pretty much ALWAYS find on hand in our house and we use them in many of our snack making adventures. Bananas, peanut butter, pumpkin purée, and wheat tortillas.

1. Peanut butter quesadillas:

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We buy PB2 powdered peanut butter because it has less fat and sugar than typical PB. We buy the other kind too but for smoothies, shakes, and snack making, the powdered kind is awesome! Just mix it with a little water and BAM! Instant PB! We smooth a little on a wheat tortilla and then add our toppings to just half of it. Bananas, strawberries, and chocolate chips. A is allergic to peanuts, not a severe allergy but she gets a little rashy so I use Nutella on hers instead of the PB. Then I fold it in half and toss it on the griddle until it’s nicely toasted. We enjoyed ours with a yummy fruit smoothie on this particular day.

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2. Pumpkin spice chips with caramel pumpkin cheesecake dip
This is one of our very favorite snacks ever! My kids (and myself) could probably slather this dip on just about anything and enjoy it.
For starters, take a few wheat tortillas and coat them in butter. Then add a sprinkle of cinnamon, sugar, and pumpkin spice. Use as much or as little as you want. Use a pizza cutter to cut them into chips and then place on an untreated cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10-15 mins. Ovens will vary so just check on them and pull them out when they hit your desired crunchiness.

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While those bad boys are getting their crispy on, toss 1 part cream cheese in a bowl with 2 parts pumpkin purée into a bowl. Add a tablespoon of powdered sugar, cinnamon, sugar, pumpkin spice, and a few drops of caramel flavoring. Mix it with a fork or use a hand mixer until it’s nice and creamy. Sweeten to taste, different brands of pumpkin are sweeter than others so you may need more powdered sugar.

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3. Banana pops
Easiest snack ever! Cut bananas in half, insert a lollipop stick, and place on a wax paper lined pan in the freezer for a few hours. When you’re ready, take some melting chocolates and toss them in the microwave. I like to use a small juice glass rather than a bowl for these because it makes dipping a breeze. I add a little PB2 for the big girls or Nutella for A and mix well. Remove bananas from the freezer and dip one by one then place back on wax paper in pan. Add sprinkles if you’d like and wait for the chocolate to harden. Voila! Banana pops!

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4. Fruit kabobs and vanilla cream dip
Super easy fun snack and so yummy! I let the girls select and cut up their fruit and then they have a blast designing their own kabobs. We use lollipop sticks rather than skewers because they’re safer for little fingers. While they do that, I combine 1 part cream cheese with an equal part of marshmallow cream. Add a scoop of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt and a couple of drops of vanilla extract and mix well.

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Scoop into dipping bowls, garnish with sprinkles, and enjoy!

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5. Pumpkin pie banana ice cream
Chop up 4 ripe bananas and toss them in the freezer for a few hours. Once mostly frozen, put them in a blender or food processor with half a can of pumpkin puree, a dash of cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice and blend. Pour into a freezer safe container and toss in the freezer for a few hours or serve just like that.

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I dip my ice cream scoop in a mug of hot water to make for easier scooping. If your ice cream has frozen solid it helps to let it set out a little before serving. We top ours with graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, and sprinkles.

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6. Banana chocolate chip oatmeal cookies
Toss 2 cups of oatmeal in my food processor and make a fine powder from it. Take 2 ripe bananas and mush them with a fork in a bowl. Stir in the oatmeal and add a dash of cinnamon, and about 1/8 cup of brown sugar. I toss in some dark chocolate chips and a bit of crushed walnuts and mix completely until it’s the consistency of cookie dough. Spoon it out into cookies on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for about 10 mins.

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7. Cinnamon sugar art
My kids LOVE this snacktivity! Take a paint pallet or a plate and add drops of food coloring. I use a medicine dropper to fill the pallet with milk to make edible “paint”. We use a small cup of milk to wash our brushes and the girls go to town painting designs on their slice of bread. I bought the brushes at dollar tree and washed them with warm soapy water first. We set them aside for this very project. Once they are done with their works of art, we toss it in the toaster until it’s to our desired level of toastyness. Once it’s done, spread butter over the top and add a sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon. Enjoy your edible art!

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Hope you and your littles enjoy these fun, tasty, and semi healthy snacktivities too!

New years resolution. Yep I made one, yep I’m keeping it. So far anyway…

If you know me personally, you know I am simultaneously the most organized and the most unorganized person you will ever meet.  lol  Let me explain, I love my label maker, organizing bins, color coding, and labels that all face the same direction but I can never remember what time to take what kid to what sporting event or party.  I’m always losing papers and I have a stack of mail on my kitchen countertop that I’m confident will reach the ceiling soon if I don’t deal with it.  Unfortunately, 3 kids haven’t always allowed me to be as organized as I would like. I was so tired of being late, missing events, and forgetting where I put things that I vowed to get more organized in 2015.   I had been toying with the idea of putting A in a mother’s day out program 2 days a week for a while but she’s my last baby and I was hesitant.  When they called in December to tell me they had an opening for her, I decided to take the leap and enroll her.  Figured it would be good for both of us and i’m so glad  I did.  She’s still adjusting to not being with me 24 hours a day but the extra time I’ve had to get organized has done wonders for my sanity.  It’s definitely a work in progress.  I’ll share in a later blog how I organized every nook and cranny of my house but today I’m going to share how I’m organizing my life.

I’ve always been a fan of planners, organizers, and journals but my problem is, I’ve never really committed to them or carried them around with me at all times to fully utilize them.  I would write something down on a post it, toss it in my purse, and forget to transfer it to my planner when I got home.  Rather than my usual pick up a planner at Target bit, I decided to jump on the Erin Condren Life Planner bandwagon as recommended by many friends.  I’ll be honest, my main appeal was (and still is) the interchangeable covers.  On the inside it’s much like any other ole’ planner but the cover switching helps keep it fresh in my head I think.  You always like to use new things so switching them out every so often should help with that in my head.  haha

When it arrived, I was immediately impressed with the packaging.  It was colorful, fun, and welcoming.  It included a little envelope of bonus stickers and gift labels.  Who doesn’t love freebies!  🙂

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I selected a cute and colorful paisley-ish cover.  I didn’t put too much time into customizing it because I knew I would work my own magic with it later.

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The tabs and all the pages are very colorful and cheery and I love that!

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I picked up several goodies to help me make my planner manageable including a cute little bag (probably meant to be a cosmetics case) at Michael’s for $4, China markers for the laminated inserts (stays better than a dry erase marker in my opinion), and washi tape in assorted colors and prints.  The EC planner came with several sheets of these cute colorful stickers and I opted to customize a few extra sheets for an additional $5.  The weekly menu insert was an additional purchase from EC and the errands tab I added myself.  I’ll show you how and attach a printable you can use too later.

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I also ordered a package of erasable markers off of amazon.  Yep, I said erasable markers!  Are you as excited as I was?  They are by far the greatest thing since sliced bread and I think I need more ASAP!

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You can find them here

http://www.amazon.com/Pilot-Frixion-Colors-Erasable-Marker/dp/B00F9MYPCS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1423074830&sr=8-1&keywords=frixion+erasable+markers

Here’s what the pages look like from monthly and weekly views.

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If you’re not the do it yourself type, you can purchase additional covers directly through EC for around $10.  You can also find some cute ones on Etsy.  To make my own cover, I selected a cute scrapbook paper combination and scanned them into my computer.  I used photoshop to scale it to size, add text and/or shapes, and then printed them.  I upload mine to office depot because their colors are so much more vivid than my printer at home but you can do it however you choose.  While I was there, I used their straight cutter to trim the covers to size, place pages back to back, and then have them laminated on thick lamination.  Be sure and tell them to laminate it in the center so you have room to cut and make your binder holes on the side.  I then used the straight cutter again to cut the laminated cover down to size leaving an edge all along the sides.

Once home, I lay the new cover over the top of the planner and used a sharpie to mark where the holes would need to be quickly.  I then used a handheld small hole punch to make holes all down the side.  Once that is done, you take your scissors and make a slit through the center of the hole.  Now the cover is ready to click right into your planner.

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We’re only in February and I’ve already created 2 optional cover sets.  I have commitment issues.  haha

I also created a few printouts to help me with my little goal oriented organization.  I kept seeing the 52 week savings challenge on pinterest and was dying to try it for our next Disney trip spending money stash so I added a checklist for that as well as a little mason jar weight loss page.  I’ve been keeping up with the 52 week savings challenge thing but I will plead the 5th on the weight loss page!  It’s not my fault, it’s those darn girl scouts I tell you!  😉

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You can laminate these and insert them the same way as the covers if you so choose but I just glued them over some of the additional memo pages in the back that I will likely never use.  I used little heart stickers to symbolize the about of lbs I wanted to lose this year and then as I lose them, I’ve moved them to the other lbs lost mason jar.  Sadly, there are many more hearts in the lbs to go jar than there are in the lbs lost jar!

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Overall, I’m really loving my planner and the fact that it’s large enough for me to see and really write in yet compact enough to toss in my handbag.  I think I’m officially an EC believer!  Ready to get started?  You can follow this link to start your own account and create your very own Erin Condren Life Planner

https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/loriannelatch0107

Now here are some of the goodies I made for my planner.  I’ve removed my name for you so that you can add your own and print if you so desire.  Hope you enjoy!

plannerfrontandback1  This one can be used for the front and back of your planner.  Just add your name.

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Obviously, once you print, you can arrange them any way you want them, this is just how I did mine.  Here are the mason jar printable, errands bookmark style insert, and the 52 week savings challenge to match.

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plannererrands  Just print this, cut it, place it back to back, laminate, punch holes, cut, and insert like the covers

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Hope you get some use out of these printables.  Have you used any of my printables in the past?  Would love some feedback.  Did they work out for you?  How did you use them?  Keep them coming?  Comment here or email me at dysfunctionaldomesticdiva@gmail.com

Thanks!  Happy organizing!  ❤

20 Random kitchen products you had no idea you would need/want!

I’m a bit quirky.  I like unique things that’s for sure.  My kitchen is no exception, I strive to find the funnest and funkiest kitchen gadgets around.  I’m going to share with you my top 20 adorably fabulous kitchen gadgets that put the FUN in functional!  You just might want to add them to your kitchen collection too!

Spiffy Units of measure:

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These items aren’t just cute, they’re super functional too!

1. Mason Jar Measuring Cups

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I snagged this little bit of stacking measuring cup awesomeness at World Market

You can find them here:

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/mason+jar+measuring+cups.do?from=Search&cx=0

2. Flower Pot measuring spoons

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My sister in law got me these cuties last year for Christmas from Modcloth.com.  They’re out of stock now but I managed to find them elsewhere for ya here:

http://www.hiddentreasuresdecorandmore.com/Flower_Pot_Measuring_Spoons_p/pj0305.htm

3. Tiny measuring cup

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Sometimes, measuring out the perfect amount of liquids can get tricky in the measuring spoons especially when transferring from one counter to another.  For such instances there’s this little guy.  I got it at World Market as well.  They only sell them online in sets of 3 but you can get them individually in stores like I did.

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/mini-measuring-cup.do?&refType=&from=Search

Cool fruit gadgets: 

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4.  Awesome apple slicer

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just line up your core with the center hole and shimmy down to slice and core your apple.  Push the bottom part up and it  will push all your slices up without slicing your hand.  I got this particular one at bed bath and beyond last year.  I don’t see it on their website now but they do have it on amazon.com.  I see similar products at all major retailers though 🙂

http://www.amazon.com/Prepworks-Progressive-International-Wedge-Slicer/dp/B00EZQQO8M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260073&sr=8-2&keywords=progressive+apple+slicer

5. Bodacious banana slicer

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This mellow yellow dude comes out to play quite often in our kitchen.  Yes you can just take a butter knife to your banana but this is so much better!  Just slide your banana through and squeeze and you quickly have perfectly even slices to top your waffles, pancakes, sandwiches, and other goodies!

http://www.amazon.com/Chefn-102-205-017-Bananza-Banana-Slicer/dp/B004HINHKQ/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260262&sr=8-7&keywords=banana+slicer

6. Super awesome strawberry pitter

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When I saw my best friend using this little baby to make cheesecake stuffed strawberries (yes, they’re as delicious as they sound) for my baby shower several years ago, I knew I had to have one too!  My sweet bestie grabbed one for me and surprised me with it and we’ve been using it religiously ever since!  You can find it on amazon and most major retailers.

http://www.amazon.com/Adorable-Simple-Strawberry-Remover-Dishwasher/dp/B00KGNSCUQ/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260426&sr=8-14&keywords=strawberry+pitter

7.  Amazing avocado slicer

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Ugh, it’s so tough to get all your green goodness out of the avocado and slice it evenly.  I always squish it and it doesn’t go well but with this little baby, that’s no longer an issue!  Maybe my OCD side just likes the even little slices!  lol

http://www.amazon.com/Chefn-Flexicado-Flexible-Avocado-Plastic/dp/B000AXU1VA/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260493&sr=8-18&keywords=avocado+slice

8. Veggie Spiralizer

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Watching your carb intake or just want to make your veggies pretty?  This little baby is just the thing for you!  I love to make “noodles” from zucchini and squash when I’m trying to go easy on the carbs.  I make spaghetti for the girls and then whip up a low cal version for myself!  Delicious and nutritious!

http://www.amazon.com/SpiraLife-Vegetable-Spiralizer-Recipe-eBook/dp/B00L0R9R38/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260614&sr=8-4&keywords=veggie+spiralizer

9. Say Cheese slicer

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How cute is this little cheese slicer?!?!?!  I fell madly in love with it at a local gift shop and just had to have it!  You can get yourself one on amazon!

http://www.amazon.com/Say-Cheese-Instant-Slicer-GAMAGO/dp/B00ICF25VM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260901&sr=8-1&keywords=say+cheese+slicer

10. Picture perfect kitchen timer

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If you have to time something in the kitchen, you may as well do it with a cute timer!  Just sayin’!  I picked up this adorable camera lens timer at World Market over the weekend and it’s so cute I had to share!

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/telephoto+kitchen+timer.do?&refType=&from=Search

11. Magnetic Salad tongs/servers

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I can’t remember where I actually purchased these but they’re pretty stinking awesome!  They’re magnetic so you can toss your bowl of salad and then stick them together to easily serve said salad!  Plus, they are much easier to store when separate!  Double win!  Here they are on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Progressive-Piece-Green-Magnetic-Salad/dp/B00DYXSJLC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421261086&sr=8-1&keywords=magnetic+salad+tongs

12. Popsicle making magic

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I’m 75% sure I got these at dollar tree a few years back but you can obviously find similar products anywhere.  Keep an eye out for the kind with the little straw attachment on the end.  My girls love to make fresh fruit pops in the summer and as they start to melt, they can drink the juice from the little straw on the end instead of it running down their cute little hands!  These are pretty close on amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Friendly-Popsicles-Smoothies-BPA-Free/dp/B00N7AV8ZG/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1421261238&sr=8-10&keywords=popsicle+mold

13. Mini condiments

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These little cuties also came from World Market.  They’re so great for lunch boxes and picnics even when you don’t want to pack an entire bottle of ketchup but need just a little squirt.

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/mini-condiment-set.do?from=Search&cx=0

14. Homemade ice cream container

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The girls LOVE to make banana ice cream.  You know, the kind where you freeze bananas, add a dash of peanut butter, cocoa powder, and milk and blend.  Yummy and not nearly as terrible for you as regular ice cream plus super fun to make! Anyway, we used to put it in tupperware to store in the freezer but this little beauty is so much cuter!  I stumbled upon this one at TJ Maxx but as you would guess, you can find them on amazon.  I in fact will be ordering a few more in the very near future!  They even have smaller individual sizes!

http://www.amazon.com/Tovolo-Storage-Container-61-3583-Pistachio/dp/B00LEO71LM/ref=sr_1_sc_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1421261746&sr=8-8-spell&keywords=homeade+ice+cream+container

15. Moped pizza slicer

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Don’t you hate when you use the pizza slicer and you have to go over it a couple of times because it didn’t cut all the way to the bottom?  This little guy takes care of it in one swipe with dual blades!  Plus, it’s much funner to “drive” over your pizza than it is to just merely slice it right?  I got this one at Garden Ridge last year but of course you can get yours on Amazon!

http://www.amazon.com/Kikkerland-II-Motorino-Pizza-Cutter/dp/B0096643J8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421261900&sr=8-2&keywords=motorcycle+pizza+cutter

16. Pink piggy egg ring

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My hubby likes his eggs over easy.  YUCK!  lol  This little piggy makes it much easier for me to keep them in check.  Without it, The egg seems to go everywhere in my pan and it’s not pretty.  Maybe that’s just me!  It’s also great for breakfast sandwiches and we love those!

http://www.amazon.com/Oink-Piggy-Fry-Silicone-Ring/dp/B00JQVPG6W/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1421258056&sr=8-18&keywords=joie+oink+oink

Fun with baking:

17. Batter finger spatula

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you stick your finger in the batter and lick it sometimes don’t ya.  Admit it!  This nifty little spatula is great for mixing up your favorite muffin mix and then licking the remnants off without sticking your dirty little sausages in the bowl!

http://www.amazon.com/Fred-and-Friends-BATTERFINGER-Spatula/dp/B0015MU91C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421262114&sr=8-1&keywords=fred+batterfinger+spatula

18.  Speaking of muffin mixing…

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These jeans make your muffin top actually look good!  hahahahaha  Excuse the dish soap residue on them.  They need a good rinsing it seems!

http://www.amazon.com/Fred-Friends-MUFFIN-TOPS-Baking/dp/B00EIFXCA8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421262287&sr=8-1&keywords=fred+muffin+tops

19. Killer cookie stamps

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Why should the kids have all the fun with the cookie stampers and shapes?!?!?!  This interchangeable cookie stamp set is super fun for the adult crowd.  Deliciously funny sugar cookies coming right up!

http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=33732694&cm_mmc=CJ-_-Affiliates-_-ShopStyle.com-_-11292048#/

20. I mustache you a question about your lunch

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Kids hate the bread crust.  Why?  I don’t get it.  Even I wanted my ends cut off as a child but now can eat them right up!  Mind over matter I suppose…  Anyhow, why not cut the ends off and add a little fun to that plain ole sandwich with this mustache sandwich cutter also by Fred & Friends.  Who says you shouldn’t play with your food?  NOT this mama!

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Apple pie and baked apple cups

Everyone is always raving about my apple pies so thought I would share my process with y’all. The greatest part is, you can use your leftovers to create an additional goody: baked apple cinnamon cups. Yummmm!

I think everyone is going to be shocked by how easy this is. Seriously, everything I make is easy and quick even if it doesn’t look like it at first glance.

I do sometimes make my own crust but I’ll be honest with you, I despise rolling it out. It frustrates me beyond belief. This is also why I hate working with fondant when I make a cake.

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Sorry, couldn’t resist! Anywho, more often than not, it’s pilsbury to the rescue! My OCD really loves how the crusts are perfect circles when you roll them out unlike my own hand rolled crust. But I digress…

You’ll need:
-1 box of refrigerated pie crust (2 crusts per box)
-4 apples. I use 4 different kinds of apples: Granny Smith, golden delicious, red delicious, and gala. You can use any combination of apples you so choose or all the same kind if you prefer. I personally like the different tastes the variety provides.
-1 pie tin
-1 small mixing bowl and 1 larger mixing bowl
-cinnamon, brown sugar, sugar, apple pie spice
-vanilla flavoring and caramel flavoring
-1 stick of butter

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Preheat your oven according to your pie crust packaging instructions for 2 crust pies. Usually 375.
Peel and core your apples and slice them as thinly as possible. I put the slices in the large bowl as I cut.

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Line the pan with the first pie crust and trim edges with a knife or kitchen shears if needed. I use my hands to mix up the apple slices so that the different types are evenly distributed. Once mixed well, fill your pie crust and place the stick of butter in the small mixing bowl.

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Microwave butter for about 45 seconds or until fully melted. Add about 1 tbsp of sugar, 5 tbsp brown sugar, and a sprinkle of each cinnamon and apple pie spice. Mix it well and pour about half of the mixture over the apples.

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Lay out your second crust on a cutting board and use cookie cutters to make a design or cut the crust into strips to make a basket weave design if you want. Place the crust on top of the apples, press firmly all around and trim edges if needed. I like to put the crust cutouts back on top. Looks nice and the crunchy crust pieces are the hubby’s favorite part. I then take a fork all around the edge and sprinkle top with cinnamon.

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Ovens will vary but you’ll need to bake it for about 20-30 mins or until your crust looks golden brown.

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It’s best served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top. 🙂

Now, I usually have some leftover crust trimmings, sliced apples, and buttery filling on my hands. We don’t let that go to waste! Take an extra apple, (I used a golden delicious here) and use a knife to cut around the core. Use a spoon to dig the insides out. I rinse the apple and pour a little of the butter mixture inside it. I twist it around to make sure the inside is coated. I line a pan with foil and place the apple on it. I then take a handful of leftover apple slices and dice them before placing a handful on the pan. Drizzle a little buttery/sugary goodness over the apples and mix around. I use the cookie cutters to cut out a few shapes from the pie crust trimmings and place them in the pan as well.

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I bake the apple next to the pie for about 10 minutes or until it’s nice and soft and the pie crust shapes are nice and flakey. Place the hot apple on a plate or in a bowl, place a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream inside and top with baked cinnamon apples. I sprinkle a dash of cinnamon over the top and add a pie crust shape for garnish.

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Grab a knife and a fork and enjoy! Delicious!

BBQ bacon cheddar balls

Going to quickly share one of our favorite quick easy meals with you. My kids can smell these a mile away and always get super excited when I make them.

You know the drill, gather your supplies:
-1 lb lean ground turkey
-Shredded cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup)
-BBQ sauce of your choice. (About 1/2 cup). I use sweet baby rays sweet and spicy sauce. It’s ah-maze-ing!
-about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, crushed crackers, or oatmeal (I used bread crumbs here)
-bacon bits jarred or fresh
-1 egg
-seasonings of your choice (optional). I use my old trusty garlic powder and onion powder.

We often choose asparagus and white rice or cauliflower rice as our sides. I start by chopping the ends off of the asparagus and laying it out on a cookie sheet. I then drizzle some coconut oil and squeeze a small lime wedge over the top and use my hands to toss and coat it. I then sprinkle a little pepper and sea salt and toss them in the oven at 425 degrees.

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While those are busy getting extra delicious in the oven, toss all your meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl. Only use about 1/4 cup of the BBQ sauce and save the rest for the pan. Mix well.

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Pour the remaining BBQ sauce into a pan, add a little water, and mix around before turning the heat on medium. While your sauce begins to warm, use your hands to roll meatballs and drop them into the sauce.

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You can add more sauce and water if needed/desired. Turn meatballs often for even cooking and sauce coating.

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While these are cooking, you should start on your rice. I don’t think you need an instruction on how to make instant white rice do you? Lol

By now your asparagus should be perfect. Remove it from the oven, serve it all up, and enjoy!

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