Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Birthday Balloon Wreath

What better way to let neighbors know that you are celebrating, than putting a festive wreath on the door? This is our birthday balloon wreath - a wreath that will grace our door for every birthday.  So, if you see it up - come help us celebrate!

It was very simple to make.  I like a big wreath on my door, so I used an 18" straw wreath.  I took 275 balloons to fill it up - yep, 11 bags of balloons from the dollar store.  If you do a smaller wreath, of course you don't need as many.
I bought some floral pins at Walmart and then just pushed them through the balloon into the form.  I liked to put them pretty much in the middle of the balloon.  I also put the balloons very random.  They faced every which way.  I went around and around and around the wreath form.  Then, I ran out of pins and Walmart was out of pins, so I used my stapler.  This worked, but only kind of.  They were very easy to pull out, so I had to keep it out of little hands' reach!  After about an hour:

It's kind of a jumbled mess if you look closely - just how I like it!

This idea is from my friend Kristi - the go-to girl for all things holiday.  She has a Halloween version hanging on her front door - with orange, black, and purple balloons!  It turned out super cute.
I can't tell you how excited my kiddos faces were seeing this!  It's the little things, I tell you!  So, what are you celebrating?  Wouldn't a balloon wreath make it all the more fun?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Girly Birthday Banner

In February, I made my little man a birthday banner.  Saturday was another birthday, but I wanted the banner to be a little girlier.
This banner seriously took about an hour.  I typed out the letters on Microsoft Word, and realized that we were out of toner, so I held up a piece of paper to the screen then traced.  Then I turned them backwards, traced them on Wonder Under, ironed them on fabric, cut them out and ironed them on.
I was able to use scraps of fabric - who doesn't love that.  I added the triangles at the bottom.  Then, to keep going, I added one ruffle at the bottom.  Ruffles say girly - right?

A couple of sloppy flowers that were hot glued on and we were good to go.  I did finish ironing on the rest of M's name after I took pictures, don't worry.  It's a fun, festive banner that we can pull out every year to mark the important date.  It's the little things like these that makes these days so fun!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Grateful Sunday

This little girl had a birthday yesterday.  She has changed my life and I am so grateful that I am blessed to be her mother.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Freezer Meal Recipes

My kids are home this week, and last week.  I've got so many things going on, but nothing is finished yet.  I've sewed one costume, fixed another costume, but haven't started the third.  We've got a birthday girl this weekend that needs to be celebrated, and Tom is trying to get our backyard to a stopping point before the cold weather comes in. 
BUT. . . . with all that is going on, it's nice to know my freezer is stocked and ready.  My Freezer Meal Swap group has started again, plus I've done a lot extra to stuff that freezer.  I spent about an hour baking 10 lbs. of chicken breasts in  my oven, chopped them up, measured 2 cups, and stored them in gallon size freezer bags.  Last night, we had chicken broccoli calzones, and it was SO easy to have the chicken already cooked.  I also keep pizza dough in the freezer - double bonus.
I leave you with some delicious recipes:

Poppy Seed Chicken
6 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts - cut into strips
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1, 6 oz package Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice mix, prepared according to pkg. directions
1/2 cup chicken broth (from boiled chicken)
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed
2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
1 stick butter

Cook the chicken breast strips in a quart of water with thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. When the chicken is done, about 20 minutes, reserve 1/2 cup of the chicken cooking liquid/broth. Cool the cooked chicken and cut into chunks.

Meanwhile prepare rice mix according to package directions.

Mix the cooled chicken with: cream of celery soup, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, prepared rice, and the reserved 1/2 cup chicken broth. Pour into a labeled 1 gallon freezer bag, freeze flat.

Mix together the crushed crackers and poppy seeds and pour into a quart size freezer bag, taping to the chicken mixture bag. Also freeze the sick of butter and store in freezer with the other bags.

Heating Instructions:
Thaw chicken mixture. Pour into a non-stick sprayed 9x13 pan. Melt the butter. Mix the crushed cracker mixture with the melted butter and sprinkle on top of the chicken mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot and crumbs on top are browned.

Melanie's Chili
Doesn't everyone need a good chili recipe? - my family DOWNED this in one sitting.  There are so many ways to eat this - over chips, with cornbread, over baked potatoes . . .   Plus, it's gluten free so everyone in my family can eat this!
12 oz ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1, 14.5 oz can Italian stewed tomatoes
2, 15 oz cans pork and beans (pork removed, but do not drain)
1, 8 oz can tomato sauce
3 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
In a large saucepan cook ground beef, onion, bell pepper, and garlic until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain fat. Stir in undrained tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, chili powder, basil, and pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Freezer Meal Instructions:
Cook as directed above. Cool to room temperature and freeze. Defrost and heat.

Crockpot Instructions:
Cook meat, onions, etc. as directed above. Place cooked meat mixture and other ingredients in crockpot and cook on low 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

PS - Thanks Jenni - all pictures are from A Bear in the Kitchen!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thanks Sabrina

When we were in San Diego this summer, we had a quick family photo shoot.  My sister-in-law, Sabrina, just snapped away.  We are not the most photogenic bunch, and it really helps having someone that everyone is comfortable with and loves behind the camera (M. doesn't seem very impressed though, does she?).  Here are some of my favorites:
There is something I love about each one and I love to look and stare at them - very slowly.
Sabrina is in San Diego if you're looking, and she has come to Colorado to take pictures also.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Grateful Sunday

I am grateful for:
 Kids Rock America - it's an awesome program!  I can't think of anything bad about a program that gets kids up and running, teaches to endure, has awesome sponsors, encourages healthy habits, etc.
We've been running every Tuesday and  Thursday morning as a family before school at Running Club.  I totally get out there and run laps with my kids, pushing our youngest in the stroller.  We average 1.5 miles a morning.  After 8 weeks, the kids totalled over 25 miles.  They ran their last mile in downtown Denver yesterday, to equal a marathon.
I love race morning - I get so excited and I know that rubs off on my kids.  Were there days they had no desire to run?  Absolutely, but once they committed to do this (meaning I paid for it after talking to them and making the decision together, of course), I pushed them to finish.  Do I think they want to run just to please me? Because the know I love running?  Sure - but is that so bad?  We did this last year and loved it and I'm so proud of my kids for doing it this year.
    Check out to see if your city offers it - it's run by the Rock and Roll Marathon Series.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Graham Cracker Haunted Houses

The kids are on fall break - and this was a perfect activity to keep them busy for the day.  After searching at 4 different stores for chocolate graham crackers, we finally found them and hot glued them together.  I kept having to tell I. that the crooked ones make great haunted houses.  She has a little bit of perfectionist in her - which I know she gets from her daddy.

 A houseful of kids, tubs of chocolate frosting and unlimited Halloween candy.
While this house may not be the prettiest - it is G.'s house to a tee.  And, he will tell you he did it all by himself without mommy's help (could you tell?)

M. had a thing for pumpkins this year - she eventually gave up on the frosting and just started piling.

I's house - in the very early stages.

We had fun doing this - a lot of fun!

When Daddy got home that night, each child explained all the details about their house.  Poor Tom was rubbing his eyes and trying to stay focused and excited for them, but they showed every single detail!  They have spent the morning staring at them and trying to figure out how to make it spookier.  Wish I had made a house for me to decorate - I could have a lot of fun with this.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Slipcover Wing Chair

Before:  We've dubbed this chair "ugly chair."  Even M. asks if I'm working on the ugly chair.

After:  $30 worth of navy twill and leftover white piping that I made for my last slipcover
 This one was hard - so many turns and angles.  I'm glad I didn't take it on as my first slipcover project.  So much unpicking and trying it again. I'm not happy in the part where the wing meets the arm meets the back.  I do, though, have a rectangle pillow form that I'm going to cover and throw right there and hide it all.

Still, though, despite the difficulties - I'm really pleased.  It looks pretty cool - it's no longer the ugly chair.  The piping is awesome.

It's going to go in G's room - he was so happy I was working on something for him.  When I first brought the chair home and told him that it was for his room, but I was going to change it so it wasn't so ugly, he said "I love it and I kind of like ugly."  Oh, sweet boy.  It's massive for a little boy - but that's how I like it! 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bamboo Mirror

I found this mirror at HomeGoods and walked past it, then walked back to it, then picked it up and held it up on the wall, then put it back and walked away, then walked back to it, then put it in my cart, then held it up to a different wall in a different part of the store, and so on.  I questioned this mirror.
It's different. I think different, though, can be cool or just ugly.  I couldn't decide what I thought this mirror was.
Tom was no help, he didn't know.  So, I hung it on our wall and keep walking over to it trying to decide if I like it or not. 
In the end, I think it's different-cool, and I like it, and it's staying.  What do you think?
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